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Showing posts from April, 2008

Casting Couch Scoop: O'Hara Tries "Good Behavior" for Rob Thomas

Ooh, do I have a hot casting scoop for you today. Remember Good Behavior , the highly anticipated drama pilot from Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas? (How could you not, as I've been talking about it incessantly since I read the pilot script a few weeks back .) No shortage of leading ladies have circled this project in recent weeks, with many naming Rene Russo as the frontrunner for the pivotal role of Jackie West, the tough-as-nails matriarch of the criminal West family who forces her family to become pillars of the community after her husband is sentenced to five years in prison. Mae Whitman ( Arrested Development ) and Patrick Adams ( Lost ) have already been cast in the drama pilot . So who has locked up the role of Jackie West, in a casting move that has my heart all aflutter? According to my source, none other than Catherine O'Hara, whose star turns in multiple Christopher Guest movies (take your pick: Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, Waiting for Guffman, For Your Considerati

An Embarrassment of Riches: Season Finale of "The Riches"

While the expression "an embarrassment of riches" might refer to having more of something good or pleasant than you need, that was just the opposite this year with the severely truncated season of The Riches , which wrapped its second season last night on FX. Originally ordered for thirteen episodes this season, The Riches found itself downscaled to just seven when production was shut down during the writers strike. Personally, I am a huge fan of this series and hope that the shortened season doesn't bode against renewing this compelling, subtle drama for a third season. (Not helping matters is that creator Dmitry Lipkin has sold a pilot script for Hung to HBO.) Especially since last night's unintentional season finale ("The Lying King") left nearly every characters' plotlines hopelessly dangling in the wind. While some viewers have found this season to be creatively uneven, I've been really intrigued by the second season of The Riches , which place

BBC America Heads to iTunes

Longtime readers of this site know my love for all things BBC America, so I was over the moon when I learned that the digital cabler has signed a deal with Apple's iTunes to begin selling full episodes for purchase and download through the iTunes Store here in the US. Customers looking for a Brit fix can now purchase single episodes and complete seasons of such BBC America series as Robin Hood, Torchwood , and Little Britain through the iTunes Store, with new episodes of Robin Hood , which launched its second season this past weekend, available for purchase 24 hours after their linear broadcast. Episodes will be priced, like their US counterparts, at $1.99 a pop. “BBC is delighted to provide U.S. audiences with the unique ability to purchase and download select award-winning BBC America programming on the iTunes Store,” said Beth Clearfield, Vice President of Digital Media and Business Development, BBC Worldwide America, in a prepared statment. “As the first U.K. broadcaster avail

An Inspector Calls on "Last Restaurant Standing"

The competition is heating up on BBC America's Last Restaurant Standing , with only three couples remaining. I think that over the last dozen or so weeks, Raymond and his talented team of restaurant inspectors have managed to cull the wheat from the chaff and I am pleased with the final three teams left standing. This week definitely put the pressure on all of them to pull out all of the stops, to entertain and delight their customers, to increase their nightly bookings and turn their tables, and--most importantly--to impress Monsieur Raymond Blanc, who dropped into each restaurant unannounced at various points during the weekend service. It was immensely interesting to see how the front of house and kitchen dealt with his arrival and his presence throughout the evening; in every case, the chefs neglected the food to focus on Raymond. Hell, Jeremy stood there for 15 minutes chatting with him pleasantly about this, that, and the other, while pans nearly boiled over and tickets lined

"Roosters Are Real" (But These Girls Are Not): CW's "Farmer Wants a Wife"

I'll admit that I didn't have high expectations for CW's latest reality dating series "experiment," the dubiously named Farmer Wants a Wife , but after watching the series' premiere episode (airing tomorrow night on CW)... let's just say I'm not "walking in high cotton," to borrow a phrase from the series' titular farmer. From the series' low-budget and ghastly opening sequence, featuring the farmer and a bevy of city-slicker women from whom he'll select his wife under the strains of a painfully cheesy song about the show we're actually watching (and "adorable" on-screen graphics), I knew I was in for something akin to train wreck television. Farmer Wants a Wife isn't a guilty pleasure... it just made me feel plain guilty for watching it. Sure, I was pleasantly surprised that the farmer in question--Matt, who runs his family's idyllic farm--wasn't a total rube but in fact a college-educated gentleman far

UPDATED: "90210" Gets More Residents

Those of you hoping to catch Hilary Duff on the revival spin-off pilot of Beverly Hills 90210 are just plain out of luck. Duff has turned down the role of Annie Mills, a drama-obsessed Wichita teenager who relocates to Beverly Hills with her middle-class family, including her father (who takes over as principal at West Beverly Hills High), adopted African-American brother, and her Olympic medalist mother Celia. Producers had sent Duff a copy of the 90210 pilot script--written by Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas--with the hope that she'd sign onto the project. The role of Annie Mills will now be played by Shenae Grimes, best known for her work as Darcy Edwards on Degrassi: The Next Generation. Celia, Annie's Olympic medalist/personal trainer mother, will be played by Lori Laughlin ( Summerland ), which I have to admit is pretty good casting. In other 90210 -related news, I hear that Jennie Garth IS negotiating with CBS Paramount Television to join the cast of 90210 . Garth re

The Doctor Gets a New Partner in Crime on "Doctor Who"

Confession up front: I can't get enough Doctor Who but I was never actually a fan of the original, decades-spanning low-budget sci-fi series. So my experiences with the franchise (and its spin-offs, Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures ) come courtesy of Russell T. Davies' reimagined BBC series, which airs on Sci Fi and BBC America here in the States. I was very curious then to tune in on Friday to see the actual fourth season premiere of Doctor Who (following "Voyage of the Damned," the Christmas special which I caught during the winter) to see how well newest cast addition Catherine Tate (she of the eponymous sketch comedy series that spawned the catchphrase "Am I bovvered?") meshed with David Tennant's Doctor. Tate famously appeared as Donna Noble once before on Doctor Who during the Christmas special "Runaway Bride," which bridged the gap between Season Two and Season Three. While the episode was a laugh, I was concerned about having the

Am I Still Watching "The Office"?

I wasn't planning on continuing to write about NBC's The Office ; my obsessive zeal for the series has sadly become something more akin to continued disappointment, something that many of my readers have indicated as well. When I didn't comment on the latest installment ("Night Out"), I got a few emails from readers curious if I had in fact finally given up on the series altogether. It's safe to say that I haven't tuned out completely but the above statement holds true. I don't expect a lot from the series anymore, which has devolved into a sad shadow of itself, a thinly veiled sitcom that has now begun mining comedy from the wacky "situations" the characters find themselves in week to week (a beet farm! an NYC nightclub! a dinner party!) rather than the characters themselves. The Office did used to move outside of the confines of the Dunder-Mifflin Scranton offices every now and then and when they did, it was a novel conceit that separated

Link Tank: TV Blog Coalition Roundup for April 25-27

Televisionary is proud to be a member of the TV Blog Coalition. At the end of each week, we'll feature a roundup of content from our sister sites for your delectation. This week, I dished about Torchwood 's second season finale , was thrilled that guilty pleasure Gossip Girl returned with new episodes (and a Bass sweater for Machiavellian Chuck), praised Rob Thomas for his uncanny casting ability on drama pilot Good Behavior (landing former Arrested Development co-star Mae Whitman as Roxy ), and thought that this week's 30 Rock was a triumph of comedic wit, with an extended homage to Amadeus . Also: news about Lucy Liu joining the cast of Dirty Sexy Money , Gavin & Stacey heads to BBC America , Lloyd and Adwoa create a "chamber of love" on Last Restaurant Standing , FOX renews Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles , and does anyone not think that Richard and Dale deserve a place in the final two on Top Chef ? But, ultimately, I was really all about the

"They Changed the Rules": The Shape of Things to Come on "Lost"

I've been not-so patiently waiting for the return of Lost to the airwaves and I have to say that last night's episode--which brought with it death, revelations, and more mysteries--more than made up for the torturous wait. Last night's episode of Lost ("The Shape of Things to Come") was a tantalizing mind-game of a puzzle, focusing on the engimatic character of Benjamin Linus, who--in a nifty bit of narrative legerdemain--is actually becoming more and more sympathetic to me (unlike, that is, my former favorite character Locke, who seems to be becoming more and more unhinged with every episode). Once again, we are offered morsels in the form of small answers to the very large questions posed by this maddeningly brilliant series but the further questions they raise are just as tasty as before: just "what" is Benjamin Linus? What are the "rules" established between him and archenemy Charles Widmore in their ongoing war? How did Ben summon the mo

Betrayal in B Minor: A Question of Succession on "30 Rock"

How utterly fantastic was last night's episode of 30 Rock ("Succession")? Increasingly, 30 Rock is becoming the brightest, shiniest spot in my television-viewing week, offering more belly laughs, throwaway lines, and blink and you miss it jokes than most typical seasons of other network comedies. Last night's brilliant episode, focusing on Don Geiss choosing his successor and Liz becoming a high-powered executive, was no exception; it was taut, elegantly crafted comedy that fused together wit and absurdity into one brilliant package. After all, what other comedy series would reference Amadeus in a plot thread about Tracy Jordan fusing together video games and porn into one single package to bear his immortal legacy? I loved that a jealous Frank (who had devoted his life to porn) played Salieri to Tracy's Mozart and beautiful slow-mo montage of Dr. Spaceman rushing down the halls of 30 Rock, cloak billowing in his wake, as he then pauses at the vending machine f

Former Bluth Foil Mae Whitman Tries on "Good Behavior"

Her? In an inspired bit of casting, ABC has snagged Mae Whitman for drama pilot Good Behavior. Written and executive produced by Rob Thomas ( Veronica Mars ) and based on Kiwi series Outrageous Fortune , the plot revolves around the Wests, a Las Vegas family of thieves and low-lifes who are forced by their headstrong mother to become model members of society after their patriarch lands in prison with a five-year sentence. (For a more detailed look, here's my rundown of Thomas' hysterical pilot script .) Whitman, best known perhaps for her star turn as George-Michael's devout girlfriend Ann Veal (a.k.a. Egg, Yam, and Ann-Hog) on Arrested Development , will star in Good Behavior 's pilot as 16-year-old Roxy West, a plucky teen who creates a business out of selling the hall passes and excuse slips she has blackmailed from her high school's principal. It's a role that Thomas would have undoubtedly cast Kristin Bell in a few years ago and I think Whitman will be abso

A Night at the Improv on "Top Chef"

It's always funny to me on reality series how the contestants seem perennially surprised by the lengths the producers will go to to pull one over on them. Latest case in point? Last night's episode of Top Chef ("Improv"), which had the cheftestants get all dolled up to go to a Second City improv show... only to learn that they they were there for an ulterior purpose. Their reactions reminded me of last season's surprise victims in Miami, when they got dressed up for a night on the town, only to learn that they'd be cooking food for late-night partiers out of catering trucks. Hee. Here, they at least managed to get some laughs in before the real test began and, oh, what a test it was: forced to pair up on dishes inspired by colors, feelings, and ingredients thrown out by the crowd at random, they'd have to construct dishes that incorporated all of these elements into one tasty offering. Before that, however, the contestants had to try to live down the Top

Lucy Liu to Flaunt "Dirty Sexy Money" for ABC?

I really miss Dirty Sexy Money . When I first saw an early cut of the original pilot for the ABC nighttime soap last May, there is no way I ever would have imagined myself uttering those words, but cut to April, several months after Dirty Sexy Money went on hiatus (thanks to the WGA strike of last fall), and I am aching to catch up with the Darlings. While the soap won't return to ABC until next fall (damn!), the series may return with a new cast member: Lucy Liu. Liu is in talks with the network to join the cast of Dirty Sexy Money as a series regular, should her struggling freshman drama Cashmere Mafia not return next season. (It's looking increasingly likely that the female-skewing drama won't be renewed.) She would play an attorney, one possibly connected to Nick George (Peter Krause), the Darlings, or someone else altogether. Me, I'm hoping she's in league with Simon Elders (Blair Underwood), where she can channel her so-good-when-she's-bad moxie into a

"Gavin & Stacey" Heads to BBC America

Looking for your next British telly series fix? Look no further as BBC America announced their latest comedy acquisition: the delightfully wry Gavin & Stacey , which will launch on the digital cabler this August. Starring Joanna Page ( Love Actually ), Mathew Horne ( The Catherine Tate Show ), Ruth Jones ( Saxondale ), James Corden ( Teachers ), Alison Steadman ( Life is Sweet ), and Rob Brydon ( Little Britain ), Gavin & Stacey tells the story of Englishman Gavin and Welsh-born Stacey, who only ever spoken on the telephone; when they finally meet up, it's true love, despite their different backgrounds and the pressures of their quirky families and respective best friends Smithy and Nessa, who only seem to get along when they're drunk. The series was created by co-stars Jones and Corden and, like all great British series, a US adaptation is already being developed at NBC. (Gee, that took long.) I cannot wait for Gavin & Stacey to make its way across the pond. BBC A

Chamber of Love or Torture Chamber on "Last Restaurant Standing"

The competition is heating up on BBC America's deliciously stressful culinary competition series Last Restaurant Standing , with two of the final four couples going into Raymond Blanc's latest challenge this week. I knew this week's episode would be a stressful one, with both Lloyd and Adwoa and Grant and Laura strong, competitive teams. If I had to give the upper hand to one of them, it probably would be Grant and Laura, only because Lloyd is still severely struggling in front-of-house. He lacks that "spontaneity" as Raymond dubbed it, so crucial in a fantastic restaurant manager and is far too reactive and not proactive enough in his role; a real shame as Adwoa's cooking is so magnificent and so special and original that put a damper on the entire enterprise. Raymond's challenge this week was to host a singles event in their respective restaurants; he provided them with 20 young professionals and it was up to the couples to find like-minded individuals w

Social Climbers, Dethroned Queen Bees, and Sibling Rivalry on the Return of "Gossip Girl"

Greetings, Gossip fans. I'm wondering this chilly morning in LA what everyone thought of last night's episode ("The Blair Bitch Project"), the first new installment since the series took a breather following a writers strike-related production shutdown. I used the Gossip Girl 's, er, spring break to catch up on the previously aired installments to date and wound up kind of getting hooked on the series. When it works, it's like a teenage version of Les Liaisons dangereuses , seen through the modern prism of Cruel Intentions , albeit with a better wardrobe and a slightly more tongue-firmly-in-cheek mentality. When it doesn't work (i.e., anything to do with Vanessa or Nate's dad), it makes me want to rip out my stylishly coiffed hair. But enough about that. I was curious to see how the series' writers would deal with the fallout between dethroned Queen Bee Blair and backstabbing social climber Jenny (the series' most delicious storyline). After m