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Showing posts from October, 2006

FOX Shifts Into Gear with Tim Minear's "Drive"

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. FOX has ordered 12 episodes of midseason drama Drive , on top of the pilot, which was shot over the summer outside of the normal production calendar. The 13 episodes are scheduled to launch this spring, possibly using American Idol as a lead-in. (Not such good news for the space-themed drama Beyond , however, which was also in contention for a spring slot and will not be moving forward.) From the minds of Tim Minear ( Angel ) and Ben Queen ( Century City ), Drive revolves around an ensemble cast as the participate in an illegal cross-country race, a la The Amazing Race . Only there's no Phil Keoghan waiting at the pit stop and there's a twist that hasn't yet been revealed (I had a sneak peek at the script a few months back but my lips are sealed). Plus, this is one race in which all of the participants need to win, but there will only be one victor crowned at the end. According to Minear, the hour-long drama will be a blend of Ca

My First Take on "5 Takes: USA"

I will admit that I was a little concerned when Travel Channel announced that this season of its wildly addictive 5 Takes franchise would follow five travel journalists around the United States. After all, what intrigued me so much was the fact that these five strangers were traveling to destinations on the other side of the globe, whether it be New Zealand or Thailand and coming into contact with cultures and people that they might not encounter on a daily basis in their regular lives. But after watching this season's premiere episode, I realized why the show works so well. It's not so much that the destinations were exotic or far-flung (after all, to a Thai audience, Thailand is their everyday experience), it's that joy of experiencing the new and the different that connects the audience so sharply to the series. While I live in the US, the destinations that these five new travel journalists (more on them in a bit) might be familiar to me, but what provides the spark e

The Six-Pack is Half-Empty on "The Amazing Race"

I never understand why teams feel the need to construct elaborate (and ultimately pointless) alliances on reality series that don't require (or reward) them. Amazing Race , after all, is not Survivor and teams should act accordingly. I had doubted Phil when he mentioned the prominence of alliances this season, but I should have never doubted the Big Kahuna. The six-pack (a.k.a. the back pack), consisting of the Cho Bros, Karlyn and Lyn, and David and Mary, have formed quite possibly the most frustratingly irritating alliance this side of Rob and Amber. I get why at first it made sense for these three teams, used to lagging in the back of the group, to stick together and help one another out. Especially when faced with teams as annoying as Rob and Kimberly and the Beauty Queens (and, this week, the Models). But to keep it going for as long as they have shows either fortitude or outright stupidity. At this point in time, there is such an obvious divide between the only six teams lef

"Bruno" Sashays to Universal to the Tune of $42.5 Million

Universal has reportedly pay $42.5 million to win the heated bidding war for worldwide rights to Bruno , Sacha Baron Cohen's follow-up to Borat , which opens Friday. According to reports, Universal's price (which could have bought the entirety of Staines, Ali G's hometown) managed to edge out competition from other interested studios including Dreamworks, Sony, Warner Bros., and 20th Century Fox, and will cover the film's estimated budget, said to be in the range of $20-25 million. For those of you not familiar with Bruno , he's another character played by the uber-talented Sacha Baron Cohen ( Da Ali G Show ): a flamboyant Austrian fashionista/reporter who jet sets between the runway shows of New York (watch out, Tim Gunn), the nightclubs of Miami (that goes for you too, Uli) and, um, the American Deep South, usually annoying the hell out of anyone he meets and managing to nearly get himself killed. The film, like its predecessor Borat , will showcase the Bruno char

The Lychee Thief: Otto Cuts Himself from the Competition on "Top Chef"

I finally got around to watching this week's episode of Bravo's addictive (and calorie-free!) Top Chef last night (I was out at a screening of Borat on Wednesday night) and it was quite the episode, in terms of controversy. Between backstabbing, thieving, and bawdy drunkenness (courtesy of Ilan's homemade sangria), this week's episode (" Eastern Promise ") had it all... without even so much as a whiff of Tiffani! So what actually went down? Sit back and prepare to tuck in. New host Padma Lakshmi is still driving me crazy, but in a different way than Katie Lee Joel did. While Katie Lee's delivery was flat and robotic and seemed completely vacant of non-artificial intelligent, Padma speaks in this long, drawn-out drawl and seems completely awkward in front of the camera, not bringing anything to the chef's table (in fact, she seemed to shut down conversation several times) and drawing out the proceedings interminably. Half the time, I want to fast forwa

ABC Somewhat Confident in "Help," "Nine," and "Trees" While Cutting Trip Short for "Traveler"

Several series got some spirit-lifting today as NBC and ABC made some announcements regarding script orders, while one midseason entry has been dramatically cut back. ABC ordered additional four scripts of Ted Danson therapy comedy Help Me Help You, Anne Heche-led romantic drama Men in Trees , and struggling bank hostage drama The Nine . While it has not committed to ordering any more additional episodes, it at least means that the network is curious enough to see where the storylines are going before investing more money into producing fresh installments. It's a positive sign for the three series but I'd be curious to see how Help Me would do without Dancing with the Stars as a lead-in. As for the The Nine, with its dwindling retention out of Lost (and Lost disappearing off the schedule in less than two weeks now ), I don't see how ABC will commit to ordering a full season of the drama, unless Lost 's temporary replacement, Day Break , becomes a sleeper hit. That

Bunny #8: The Others Test Our Castaways on "Lost"

There's a certain satisfaction one gets in being right. I hate to gloat (really I do), but seeing as I got so many emails from people saying that I was wrong, that the Others couldn't possibly be on another, separate island, I feel the need to do the written equivalent of the Snoopy dance. So, here goes: I was right! More on that unabashed egocentricity in a bit. But before that, last night's episode of Lost ("Every Man for Himself") peeled back the layers of the onion a little more, giving a few glimpses into the belly of the beast and revealing some more intel about the Others. Since the hatch went kablooey in the season finale, it seems as though the Others have been having some problems of their own: after the firmament turned, well, purple, they went blind and now their communications are all down. Which means that they are now just as stranded and cut off from the rest of the world as the castaways. And something tells me that there might not be any more su

NBC Revamps Thursday Nights with Single-Camera Comedy Block

I can't even tell you how thrilled I was yesterday to learn that NBC was going to revamp its Thursday night lineup, mere days after the Peacock announced that it was effectively going to destroy its 8 pm timeslot by filling it with cheap-to-produce reality fare like Deal or No Deal . Fortunately, Kevin Reilly didn't budge on keeping single-cam comedies My Name is Earl and The Office right where they are and shifting Tina Fey's 30 Rock to Thursdays and (finally!) bringing Scrubs back the schedule. Combined, these four series display the possibilities of the single camera format and I've been pleading with the networks to combine them into one single night of fantastic comedic TV. While CBS has its Monday night comedy lineup and CW its urban-themed laughers on the same night, there hasn't been one-stop shopping for single cam mirth until now. Sadly, I've been calling for this arrangement since the days of the dearly departed Arrested Development , but I'll

Logan Meets... Logan on "Veronica Mars"

Last night's episode of Veronica Mars ("Meet Charlie Stone") seemed much more back on target again, bringing us that tasty mix of humor, angst, and mystery that the series excels at. I absolutely adored the opening scene depicting an extremely awkward dinner between Veronica, Papa Keith, and Logan as each of them awkwardly tries to talk to one another without touching on any, well, touchy subjects. Which is hard to do when your daughter's boyfriend is the son of a notorious movie star-turned-murderer... and then turns down an offer from Larry King to appear with OJ's kids. What is a dad to think? Logan, however, is in a bit of hot water with his inheritance quickly running out. At the rate he's going, he's got maybe 14 months worth of dosh left. Hmmm, think it could be because he sleeps in the penthouse suite at the Neptune Grand every night and is basically throwing his money away quicker than he can sign the checks? While I'd hate for this pretty ri

ABC Announces Return of "Lost" and Gives Primetime Schedule a "Makeover"

Looks like we have a return date for our trip to that creepy island, after all. ABC has announced that drama Lost will return from its (soon-to-be excruciatingly painful) hiatus on February 7th, a week earlier than originally expected. The series will wrap up the first half of its third season on November 8th (with a doozy of a cliffhanger, from what I hear) before disappearing for 13 weeks to make room for the Taye Diggs-led thriller Day Break . When Lost returns in February (mark your calendars now), it is expected to run through the rest of the season with brand-new episodes before wrapping up the season in May. Meanwhile, in a surprise move, ABC has pulled the plug on Extreme Makeover 's return to the airwaves after just one airing. (Yes, one airing!) The plastic surgery makeover series returned to ABC's primetime lineup last Friday, replacing repeats of Grey's Anatomy , but the network announced today that it was shelving Extreme Makeover due to the low, low, low

Why We Love "Chris" and "Old Christine"

There are some combinations that are just plain great together, like chocolate and peanut butter, and some that don't sound so appetizing on paper but are just satisfying none the less (like, say, lamb and mint jelly). Of the latter, there's Monday night's odd-couple pairing of Everybody Hates Chris and Old Christine . Before I start getting emails from people "reminding" me that they're not exactly paired together on the same network ( Chris is on the CW, while Christine lives happily on CBS), I'm talking more about the general neighborhood than them actually being next-door neighbors. And now that both have taken up residence on Monday evenings, the similarities between them become all the more apparent. Both of these series couldn't be more different in terms of tone or visual style, but both Everybody Hates Chris and Old Christine have become indicative of a new breed of modern family comedies, comprising a direct reaction to all the Friends

Casting Couch: Showtime Locks Three for Two Pilots

Showtime certainly isn't stuck in the weeds. Cabler, which recently unveiled new series Dexter and announced its intention to make all eight hours of its upcoming second season of Sleeper Cell (entitled Sleeper Cell: American Terror ) available on VOD the same day as its premiere, has cast three actors in two of its new pilots. Peter Facinelli ( Fastlane , Six Feet Under ) and Beth Riesgraf (MTV's Undressed , and a.k.a. the future Mrs. Jason Lee) have been cast in drama pilot Insatiable , where they will play a husband and wife who are both named Sandy who were former Olympic figure skaters. Facinelli's Sandy will be an abrasive yet handsome jock who is confined to a wheelchair following a car accident, while Riesgraf's Sandy will be a recovering alcholic who is oblivious to her husband's cruelty and extramarital affairs. Series is set in a small town where everyone suffers from some form of addiction. Meanwhile, Paul Hipp ( Carnivale, Three Sisters ) has been cas

Such Great Heights: Teams Arrive in Kuwait and Promptly Get Lost on "The Amazing Race"

It's rather cool that producers took their promise seriously this season to send the teams competing in this, the tenth installment of The Amazing Race , to some, well, amazing locations: China, Mongolia, Vietnam, etc. I think it's rather fun again to wonder where they'll be sent next and what mischief they'll be made to do. It almost makes up for the Weaver family. Well, almost. Last night's episode found the teams leaving behind Chennai, India for Kuwait and their only hint to find their next clue was a photograph of the Kuwait Towers taken on a cell phone. (Ahem, product placement.) While that proved easier than not to solve (showing nearly anyone said photograph helped), it was a welcome mini-twist (and a throwback to the early years of the Race) to see teams attempting to figure out WHERE to go next and not just look on a map or ask for directions. (Though that apparently was rather tricky for some teams too.) The Beauty Queens just bug, especially as they seem

From "Deadwood" to Driftwood: HBO Orders Milch's "John From Cincinnati"

Those of you saddened by the end of Deadwood (save those two-hour movies that are supposed to wrap things up at some point in the future), look no further. HBO has gotten in bed with Deadwood creator David Milch for what Variety is calling a "surf noir family drama" set in Southern California. HBO has ordered 12 episodes of Milch's latest drama John From Cincinnati , which will revolve around the seriously screwed up Yost family of Imperial Beach. Dad is a former surfing star, Mom is definitely dispirited, and their son is addicted to drugs. Enter John (um, from Cincinnati) who shows up at the Yosts looking for surfing lessons (rather mysteriously no less) as well as a guy who is looking for revenge against the Yosts for a personal vendetta. Hmmmm, is it a coincidence that the two men show up at the same time? John From Cincinnati , which begins production next month, stars Austin Nichols, Bruce Greenwood, Rebecca De Mornay, Brian Van Holt, Matt Winston, Greyson Fletch

Suyai is First to Pack Her Knives on "Top Chef"

With Project Runway brought to a close on Wednesday (who would have thought Jeffrey would have ever won ?), it's good to know that Bravo has yet another reality competition series for us to get hooked on and I've been anxiously awaiting the premiere of Top Chef for some time now. First things first, I think the show has greatly benefited from the loss of the animatronic Katie Lee Joel as host, but I am not totally sold on new host Padma Lakshmi either. She's beautiful, is a renowned cookbook author, but she speaks as slow as molasses. I kept having to use the TiVo to speed through some of her intros as she was just taking way too much time to get through the script. I'm not sure why it's been so difficult to find a host that's knowledgeable, looks good on camera, and has some personality. Plus, I'm not entirely sure why Bravo doesn't just have Tom Colicchio host the show. He's articulate, opinionated, and already providing insightful commentary a