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Showing posts from June, 2007

Pitchy Rather Than Bitchy: Bravo's "Hey Paula" Fails to Entertain

I'll admit it: I'm a sucker for train wrecks. So it was hardly surprising that I tuned in last night to see Bravo's new reality series Hey Paula, just to sneak a peak at the, er, flaming wreckage of star/glutton for punishment Paula Abdul's life. Sadly, Bravo's docusoap seems more like a glorfied campaign to spread the word of just how much work Paula really seems to do (the tearful entrepreneur is a spiritual sibling of Blow Out 's Jonathan Anton, it would seem) and how completely misunderstood she really is. Take the case of the designs she did for the Bratz movie; I'm not entirely sure if she was asked to do these designs, did them of her own accord, or what, but Miz Paula claims that she spent her own time and money creating these costumes whilst the other Bratz producers refused to return her calls. When they finally do (and want to see the costumes stat, on the day of the Grammys, no less!), Paula grimly faces herself in the mirror after they've

"Life on Mars" Finds Its Sam Tyler in Actor Jason O'Mara

One of the questions I get asked fairly regularly via email is what ever happened to David E. Kelley's US adaptation of Life on Mars ? Being a huge fan of the original UK Life on Mars , I was fairly underwhelmed by Kelley's script, which did little more than transport the action from 1970s Manchester... to 1970s Los Angeles and slightly Americanize the dialogue. As for the rest, it's all basically the same: Sam Tyler chases serial killer, arrests Colin Raimes, has car accident, wakes up in 1970. Oh, except, this time around Annie is a full-on female detective, rather than a WPC in a skirt. The project was meant originally for fall consideration but when the pilot for Life on Mars --which had only cast Rachelle Lefevre ( Life on a Stick ) as Annie--failed to cast the ever-crucial role of series lead, it was placed on hold until an appropriate Sam Tyler could be cast. Cut several months forward to today, where ABC has announced that it has finally managed to find its lead

Eternal Flame: Jason Dohring Heads to "Moonlight"

In one of the strangest casting twists ever, Veronica Mars ' Jason Dohring has joined the cast of the rapidly repopulated vampire drama Moonlight . The news comes on the heels of yesterday's announcement that Sophia Myles ( Doctor Who ) would take over for Shannon Lucio in the retooled CBS drama , from studio Warner Bros Television and production company Silver Pictures, which--not coincidentally--produced Veronica Mars as well. Dohring will co-star as ancient vampire Josef, who is a confidante of the main character, a vampire/private investigator played by Alex O'Loughlin. Dohring replaces sexagenarian Rade Serbedzija, who appeared in the pilot presentation. Since then, Josef's character has been re-envisioned as a significantly younger, roguish hedge-fund trader. I'm not sure quite what to make of this recasting though Dohring does deserve a plum post- Veronica Mars gig. Thoughts?

Faced with Comfort Food, Micah Stumbles on "Top Chef"

Cards on the table time. I was really let down by most of the contestants on last night's episode of Top Chef ("Family Favorites"). Am I alone in that statement? Sure, part of my frustration might be that I was watching this episode around 1 am after attending the Transformers premiere, but one of the reasons I love this series--a full head and shoulder's above FOX's similarly-themed cooking competition Hell's Kitchen --is that on any given week the chefs show an extraordinary range of inspiration, creativity, and talent. None of those things really came through in this week's challenge, which asked the chefs to reinvent stodgy American comfort food and update it with a modern twist and an emphasis on low-cholesterol. To me, that seems like a really interesting challenge and I expected to see some really innovative takes on dishes like chicken a la King, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, fish sticks and french fries, tuna casserole, and pork chops. I'l

An Open Letter to Sophia Myles, New to CBS' "Moonlight"

Dear Sophia, I've been a fan of yours ever since I saw you in that absolutely brilliant episode of Doctor Who ("The Girl in the Fireplace"), where you appeared as the headstrong and lovelorn Madame de Pompadour. You've appeared in other productions high up on my radar, like Extras , Masterpiece Theatre 's adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula , Underworld: Evolution , Art School Confidential , and Tristan + Isolde . So what are you doing slumming it in CBS's fall drama Moonlight (formerly known as Twilight )? Sure, I'm sure your agent at ICM sold you on the fact that it's a starring role on a network series (the Tiffany Network, no less) and played up the fact that they brought in Angel co-creator David Greenwalt to punch things up, but come on now, Soph. Did you see that abysmal pilot presentation they shot with Alex O'Loughlin and The OC 's Shannon Lucio (whom you're replacing)? Now, let's be honest: you're definitely mor

Pilot Inspektor: CBS' "Cane"

Question: what do Jimmy Smits, Hector Elizondo, Polly Walker, Nestor Carbonell, Rita Moreno, Paola Turbay, and Alona Tal have in common? Answer: they all appear in CBS' cracking and taut new drama Cane , which launches this fall. Cane charts the soapy twists and turns in the lives of the Duques, a wealthy family in the lucrative rum business who must fend off takeover advances from the shifty Samuels clan, who'd like nothing better but to put the business started by pater familias Pancho Duque (Hector Elizondo) and now run by adopted son Alex Vegas (an incandescant Jimmy Smits) firmly under their thumb. The matter at stake in Cane is the titular sugarcane, used in rum-making, which is now being considered by politicians as an ethanol fuel alternative... which means big bucks for who ever gains control of those massive sugarcane fields. Add to this the fact that there's bad blood--as in Shakespearean-scale blood feuds--between the two families (the Samuels may have playe

Family Reunions, Straight Edges, and Power Tools on "Big Love"

Was it just me or was last night's episode of Big Love exactly what you needed after a long day of work? Last night's installment of Big Love ("Reunion") dealt with several dangling storylines, while introducing a few unexpected twists into the mix. Who else thought that we would see Bill casually return to the Juniper Creek compound? Or Alby sell out Roman? Or, hell, that Bill would steal Roman's business model? Bill. Bill's been a fairly level-headed guy the past season but it's beginning to worry me that cracks are showing in his tough veneer. His angry confrontation over the defaced billboards had me a little concerned but he does have to protect his family. Now, however, I'm simply shocked to see that he's compromising his own morals to go after Roman's new business plan: an investment in video poker games. In order to raise the cash to go after the company (which should make Roman super-pleased, no doubt), Bill has decided to cease hi

"Battlestar Galactica: Razor" DVD to Be Extended

Looking for a little more Battlestar bang for your buck? According to TV Week 's James Hibberd , NBC Universal plans to release a special extended-edition DVD as a companion to the linear television premiere of the two-hour Battlestar Galactica "movie" ("Razor") that acts as a bridge to the Season Four premiere scheduled in January 2008 and serves as the first two installments of the final 22-episode BSG run. The DVD release for Battlestar Galactica: Razor will include at least 15 minutes of original content and may in fact end up with significantly more added value features. (Hmmm, personally, I'd love a teaser/sneak peek of Season Four on that disc.) Battlestar Galactica: Razor is scheduled to air this November on Sci Fi.

Fear Itself and Spirit Guides on "The 4400"

If you haven't seen last night's episode of The 4400 ("Fear Itself"), do yourself a favor and stop reading now. As for the rest of us, let me offer a big sigh of relief and say, Cassie ( Tristin Leffler ) was Kyle's ability after all! It looks like several readers of this blog were correct when they surmised that the enigmatic Cassie--who seemed to be feeding the oft-misused Kyle Baldwin some rather interesting facts and theories over the last two weeks--was in fact Kyle's new found 4400 ability, thanks to his dose of promicin . Whether Kyle will retain this ability (more on that in a second) or whether Jordan will soon rip it from him remains to be discovered. Regardless, I think it's a brilliant twist in a series that has already proven itself to be unpredictable and dangerous. I was hoping it wouldn't be another mind-trick from the future (god knows we've seen that enough), but rather a device to further Kyle's character and bring about

Casting Couch: More Richardson on "Nip/Tuck" While Peregrym Not Grim on "Reaper"

Nip/Tuck fans wondering just what happened to Julia won't have to wait very long to find out. After months of speculation about whether actor Joely Richardson would return to the drama series, FX has announced that it has concluded a deal that will bring Richardson back for 15 of the 22 episodes of Season Five. Richardson, who appeared in 11 of 15 episodes of Nip/Tuck last season, had made comments that she would be departing the series in order to spend time with her family, including her daughter, who was believed to be seriously ill. However, Richardson's daughter has since appeared to have recovered. As for Richardson's character, Julia, she was last seen moving to New York with her daughter Annie and son Conor in the season finale. Just how the series' writers will get Julia and the kids to Los Angeles, site of the new McNamara/Troy offices remains to be seen. In other casting news, the CW has announced that it has recast the female lead on fall dramedy serie

Casting Couch: Vance and Garcia Part of "Prison Break" Gang

Casting on Season Three of FOX's crime drama Prison Break has kicked into high gear. Just a few days after announcing the casting of Jodi Lyn O'Keefe (who will play a shadowy government agent named, yes, "Betty Crocker") and Robert Wisdom, FOX has added two more actors to the mix, both of whom will play integral roles in the drama's third season, set in Panama. British actor Chris Vance ( All Saints ) will play an enigmatic character named Whistler, a fellow prisoner at SONA Prison, where Michael has just been incarcerated. (No blueprint-heavy tattoos for him.) Meanwhile, Danay Garcia ( CSI: Miami ) will play Whistler's Panamanian girlfriend, Sofia. With Michael and Whistler being held captive at a prison, and Sofia and Linc on the outside, expect each pair to team up to launch an escape or, uh, prison break. Both actors have been hired as series regulars on Prison Break 's third season, which kicks off this fall.

Pilot Inspektor: NBC's "Journeyman"

What is it exactly that sparks our imagination when it comes to time travel? Is the notion of traveling beyond our lifetimes to catch a glimpse of a future world, unfettered by the bonds of our mortality? Or is the sense that we all would love a chance to travel backwards in time and get a shot and fixing the wrongs in our own lives? In NBC's new fall series, Journeyman , Dan Vassar (Rome's Kevin McKidd) gets an opportunity to do the latter when he finds himself unwittingly traveling back in time to points within his own life. It's the first time travel story on television that I can think of that doesn't use a time machine (thank god!); instead the wherefores and hows of Dan's ability are left a mystery... for now, anyway. Created by Kevin Falls ( The West Wing ), Journeyman deftly manages to combine several different genres--sci fi, relationship drama, action, romance--into one slickly produced package that is beautifully directed by Alex Graves ( The Nine ). T

Chillin' and Grillin': Sandee Goes Up In Flames On "Top Chef"

Hello Televisionary readers. Christine Fortune here filling in as Top Chef fan/reviewer for Jace while he’s across the pond in London. So, while he's enjoying tea and biscuits what did Jace miss on Top Chef ? This week's quickfire challenge was a fruity affair focusing on Florida's most important ingredient...citrus (or "sunshine" as Padma called it). Guest judge Norman Van Aken, the "Godfather of Florida," was tough to please. He was most put off by Micah's avocado soup which turned out more like avocado pudding and was also annoyed at Sarah for not even being able to describe her dish (she mumbled something about shrimp). Sarah was not only confused about her dish but also seemed bewildered by the fact that Norman Van Aken was "so critical with his critique." Um, isn't that what critique is? The top three competitors were CJ (in spite of seeds in his dish), Tre, and Hung. Tre's hot and cold salmon looked delicious but it was H

Dunder-Mifflin: The Videogame?

Yep, you read that headline correctly. NBC Universal has licensed the rights to comedy The Office to gamemaker MumboJumbo, which plans to translate the series into a "humorous game in which players have to handle jobs and play pranks at Dunder Mifflin's Scranton branch." The company has also acquired rights to The Office cast's likenesses and plans to portray Michael Scott & Co. as bobblehead dolls in the game. Likewise, the game will feature clips from the series. MumboJumbo already has plans for sequels in the near future and will release its Office game not on platforms like PS3,Xbox 360, or Wii, but rather on handhelds like PSP and Nintendo DS. Players will also be able to download the game from various websites. I'm not quite sure how I feel about the random news but I'm keen on anything Office -related that raises the series' visibility. As for others, I wonder how many seconds of gameplay it will take for players to throw Jim and Pam tog

Pilot Inspektor: ABC's "The Thick of It"

So, okay, you might not end up getting to see the pilot for the US version of The Thick of It , what with ABC passing on the comedy. (Though, as previously reported, several broadcast and cable networks seem interested in reviving the series.) I couldn't let too long go by without at least taking a look at the pilot, considering that the UK version of The Thick of It is one of my favorite Britcoms of recent years and this project had brought together two of my favorite comedic talents: director Christopher Guest ( Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show) and writer Mitch Hurwitz, creator of the much-missed Arrested Development . So it had to be a comedic match worth its weight in gold, right? Not quite. I had anticipated the savage energy of the original The Thick of It , which follows the travails of a hapless Member of Parliament as he is both saved and doomed by his staff (with a little help from himself, of course) and negotiates the treacherous waters of governmental polit

Casting Couch: Marshall Scrubs in for "Nip/Tuck"

Sean McNamara is about to get a new love interest. FX has announced that it has cast Paula Marshall ( Veronica Mars ) in at least four episodes of drama Nip/Tuck next season. It's unclear what her character will be, but it's understood that Marshall will be playing a new love interest for Sean (Dylan Walsh). Also on the docket: pay increases for Walsh and co-star Julian McMahon, who are set to return for a fifth season of Nip/Tuck , which began filming earlier this week, albeit with significant salary bumps. Both have received seven-figure bonuses on top of their 5% increases, bringing their wages to roughly $3 million or $125,000 an episode, giving each of them a 25% increase from Season Four. Nip/Tuck 's fourth season ended with with Sean and Christian pulling up stakes and heading out to Los Angeles, where they have opened a new practice in a city where appearances are the only real currency.

Pilot Inspektor: FX's "Damages"

Other than Pushing Daisies (already a favorite pilot/drama of mine for next season), the single best pilot script (among, yes, the 120+ scripts I read for work) was for FX's new legal thriller series Damages . Ask anyone in the television business who read the script and they'll tell you the same thing. Written by the writing team of Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler, and Daniel Zelman, the script for Damages was a taut, gripping, be-careful-or-you'll-fall-over-the-knife's-edge sort of affair, a rare feat for a legal drama that also has the distinction of not having a single scene set inside a courthouse. (Legal drama-adverse readers, take note, the writers claim that this will carry over into Season One and promise nary a single courtroom cross-examine.) So I was breathless with anticipation when I finally got to see the completed pilot for Damages a few weeks ago. What exactly is Damages ? I can only describe it as John Grisham's The Firm meets Murder One , an

Checking out "The Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea"

I don't ordinarily talk about or review documentaries here but every now and then one comes along that keeps me thinking about it long after the final credits have rolled. In this case, I'm talking about Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer 's extraordinary and heart-wrenching documentary The Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea , which has its television premiere next week on the Sundance Channel, after a brief theatrical release. I first saw the documentary over a year ago when it was making the rounds at the festival circuit and couldn't help but fall under its powerful spell. The Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea , narrated by John Waters, deals with a chapter in the history of California (and that of America) that most have already forgotten. It charts the rise and ultimate fall of a little man-made desert oasis called the Salton Sea that represents both the hubris of mankind and our ability to forget our failures. It's a touching, funny, and eye-opening

Messiah Envy: "The 4400" Returns

I'm always slightly baffled by the fact that The 4400 , which returned to the airwaves last night with its fourth season premiere, is on USA. It seems more fitting that the series would air on sister network Sci Fi (where it has its second window, from time to time) than on the same network that brings us, say, Monk and Psych . In any event, last night's season premiere of The 4400 ("The Wrath of Graham") pushed the story along and introduced us to some new characters while dealing with the fallout from last season, where prophet/lunatic Jordan Collier (Billy Campbell), newly returned from the dead, decided to begin handing out promicin to anyone who wanted it. Meaning that anyone on the street could suddenly manifest a 4400 ability. Or, you know, drop dead, as the stuff has a 50/50 survival rate. One of the ongoing themes of the series has been the battle between the haves and the have-nots, though those definitions have changed as the series went on. Some return