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<p>The cast of NBC's &quot;Infamous.&quot; Or some of it.</p>

The cast of NBC's "Infamous." Or some of it.

Credit: NBC

Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Infamous'

NBC tries to do an upscale ABC-style soap with so-so returns

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"Infamous" (NBC) [Midseason]
The Pitch: It's "Dirty Sexy Revenge"
Quick Response: No. Really. "Dirty Sexy Revenge." What if "Dirty Sexy Money" had begun with the murder of Samaire Armstrong's character? [No loss there.] And what if Peter Krause's character were a cop instead of a lawyer and an African-American woman instead of a man? And what if that interloper returned to the family not to keep them out of trouble, but to get one of them in very deep trouble indeed? What you'd get would be "Infamous." NBC's attempt to get in on the Eat the Rich zeitgeist is derivative at every turn, but it's also yet another midseason drama that introduces plot twists at an almost astounding pace, with characters reversing course and changing their colors two or three times in the opening 44 minutes. Hmm... I used a "but" there as if being twisty were a compensation for being derivative. This is the kind of show that you instantly find yourself distrusting every frame because you know that the truth is like a bet on a roulette wheel: You might get a dose of adrenaline each time your number comes around, but until the ball stops bouncing, *nothing* is going to be the truth, so there's no point in investing. Everybody lies and they do it all the time, so what's the point in rooting for the truth? It's the problem "Damages" has always had in its weaker moments, only "Infamous" doesn't immediately have the strengths that make "Damages" shine when it's working. I'm very happy to see Meagan Good getting to lead a show. She's sexy, assertive and Good deserves this shot. But the implausibility of her character's reintegration into this close-knit, justifiably paranoid family comes dangerously close to crushing the entire premise and I desperately hope they don't continue to pretend "Infamous" takes place in a world in which TMZ is King, but Google doesn't exist. And as for the family, they're good, but they're not the Darlings. Victor Garber has played this sort of WASP-y patriarch too many times to be surprising, so we're just waiting and watching for him to turn out to be good-evil-good-evil-good-evil-good-evil... STOP. Ditto with Tate Donovan. I guess that for Donovan, this is better than being cut out of the "No Ordinary Family" pilot and for Garber this is better than "Charlie's Angels," but those are both tenuous compliments. I like Garber and Donovan, but it's good will from past performances than make them appealing here, not anything fresh or new. The rest of the cast is solid and packed with familiar faces, but there's no Donald Sutherland or Jill Clayburgh or Madeleine Stowe to keep you mesmerized even when the formula takes over. No matter how many times you've seen basically this exact same show, you'd still be hard-pressed to find "Infamous" boring. It's not gripping, but it keeps you guessing and we get two or three episodes worth of plot machinations in short order. "Infamous" isn't a great version of an ABC show, but it's a passable version of an ABC show, which makes me wonder how it's going to find an audience on NBC. But I wonder that a lot and that's NBC's problem, not mine.
Desire To Watch Again: I watched every episode of "Dirty Sexy Money," sometimes liking it very much and sometimes gritting my teeth through the convolutions. I've watched every episode of "Revenge," mostly gritting my teeth through the convolutions. I've also watched every episode of "Scandal" and probably most of the other ABC shows that this is aping. There's no reason I probably won't stick with this for a bit. Yay?

 

Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'How To Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's '1600 Penn'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Zero Hour'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Do No Harm'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'The Carrie Diaries'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Malibu Country'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'The New Normal'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Guys with Kids'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Mindy Project'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Partners'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Nashville'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Made in Jersey'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Emily Owens, M.D.'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Mob Doctor'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Animal Practice'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Last Resort'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Vegas'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Beauty & The Beast'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's '666 Park Avenue'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Ben and Kate'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Elementary'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Arrow'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Neighbors'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Revolution'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots entries

 

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<p>Emmanuel Riva in &quot;Amour&quot;</p>

Emmanuel Riva in "Amour"

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Off the Carpet: Telluride wraps, Toronto approaches

What will the upcoming Canada marathon have in store for the season?

The season is here. "Argo" has sounded the starting gun in the mountains of Telluride while "The Master" has made a strong case on the Lido of Venice. Where will we go from here?

The upcoming Toronto Film Festival will bring a number of possibilities. The Weinstein Company has a few threads dangling, and in typical fashion, will see what sticks to the wall.

"The Sapphires" played well at Telluride after having already pleased crowds in Cannes, but it's likely to move to next year. "Silver Linings Playbook" will get its close-up next, with "Quartet" and "Song for Marion" as lingering possibilities besides. And before long, the moneymaker: "Django Unchained." But at the fest next week, we could see the beginning of an Oscar march for Robert De Niro and some serious consideration for Terrence Stamp, Maggie Smith, Pauline Collins, etc. We'll just have to see what sticks.

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<p>Telluride Film&nbsp;Festival</p>

Telluride Film Festival

Credit: Telluride Film Festival

Wrapping up the 39th annual Telluride Film Festival

Another lovely SHOW to start the fall festival circuit

TELLURIDE - Things are pretty much wrapping up at the 39th annual. Monday is generally a great time for catch-up, as the schedule is filled in with repeat showings. Unfortunately, I tend to leave on Monday afternoon each year, so I don't get to use the day productively. But nine-and-a-half movies over the three-day spread is good enough for me. (I won't knock the movie I walked out of. I'll come back to it at some point, as it's generated interesting split reactions.)

The festival this year was more in line with its former identity. A few years of Oscar bait titles -- "127 Hours," "Up in the Air," "The King's Speech," "Black Swan" -- caused an influx of press recently, but things have been more refined this year and last. But in particular, the whole thing was quite subdued this time around. It's the first Telluride I've attended where I didn't even do any interviews, which is also kind of in keeping with its former self. They've never really wanted a strong press presence here. But who knows what might happen next year as the fest celebrates its 40th anniversary with an extra day of programming?

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<p>Richard Dreyfuss&nbsp;</p>

Richard Dreyfuss 

Credit: A&E

Interview: Richard Dreyfuss discusses A&E's 'Coma'

The cagey veteran also discusses favorite directors and TV challenges
There's an error in the headline for this interview, which claims that Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss discusses "Coma."
 
To clarify, I sat down with the "Jaws" and "Close Encounters" star back in March to talk about his role in A&E's new miniseries adaptation of the genre-classic Robin Cook novel, which will premiere on Labor Day.
 
At that point, I hadn't seen the telefilm, which focuses on a young medical student (Lauren Ambrose), who discovers that her hospital has an unnaturally large number of patients going into comas. The ensemble cast includes Steven Pasquale, as well as Oscar winners Ellen Burstyn and Geena Davis and Dreyfuss, plus James Woods, Joe Morton and a slew of additional familiar faces.
 
Normally I don't talk to actors about projects I haven't seen, but in addition to being the star of several of my all-time favorite films, Dreyfuss is also one of the smartest and most political actors in Hollywood and the conversation seemed like something I wouldn't want to miss. 
 
It doesn't necessarily come through in the Q&A, but Dreyfuss was in a terrific and cordial mood, but he happened to either be unwilling or unable to talk about his twisty new thriller.
 
I spent a while trying to pursue a discussion of "Coma" and perhaps its take on the state of healthcare in 21st Century America. As you'll read, it wasn't necessarily productive. Eventually, though, I think that we had a good chat about the challenges of finding directors capable of working with actors, as well as the challenges of acting for TV.
 
Click through for the full interview, which isn't really about "Coma" at all...
 
 
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<p>Bryan Cranston in &quot;Breaking Bad.&quot;</p>

Bryan Cranston in "Breaking Bad."

Credit: AMC

Mid-season finale review: 'Breaking Bad' - 'Gliding Over All'

Walt and Lydia build up the business in the last new episode of 2012

A review of tonight's "Breaking Bad" — the last episode of 2012 — coming up just as soon as I get Queen for a Day and a 5K...

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<p>This scene from &quot;Baraka&quot; reeled me in 10 or 12 years ago.</p>

This scene from "Baraka" reeled me in 10 or 12 years ago.

Credit: The Samuel Goldwyn Company

A Telluride time-out with Ron Fricke's 'Baraka'

Stunning as ever in 70mm

TELLURIDE - I've recognized over the last few years that sometime Sunday afternoon at the Telluride fest, I find myself yearning for a break, something different, something I don't feel compelled to write about. Of course, I'll often find myself wanting to write about it anyway, but the lack of obligation going in is the real gift. Last year it was the presentation of a restored version of Georges Méliès's "A Trip to the Moon." This year it was a 70mm presentation of Ron Fricke's "Baraka."

I've mentioned this briefly before, but I was fortunate enough to attend a film school that had a massive archive of prints, one of the top three largest collections in the world at the time. And part of that was a great 70mm selection, from "Aliens" to "2001: A Space Odyssey" to, indeed, "Baraka." I had never heard of the film at the time, though a few of my classmates had. I went in blind and I fell in love. It was a very specific and noteworthy moment for me, an awe-inspiring experience in a pre-jaded time. I've owned the film on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray since and, naturally, it has just never been the same experience.

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"Big Brother"

 "Big Brother"

Credit: CBS

'Big Brother' recap: Another Pandora's Box and a new HOH rules

Can Frank survive yet another week?

So, it’s time to replace Frank as HOH, but let’s face it – no matter what, I think the house really belongs to Dan. Not something I thought I’d be saying two weeks ago, but that stupid funeral speech seems to have worked a hella lot of magic (and Danielle’s tears were quite a bonus). I would think his miraculous save would only create a target on his back -- this guy can talk his way out of ANYTHING -- but that's probably expecting too much of our remaining hamsters, who seem all to willing to be played like fleshy violins. In other news, Pandora’s Box is back again! And to quote Shane, where did Jenn come from? 

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<p>Keira Knightley in &quot;Anna Karenina.&quot;</p>

Keira Knightley in "Anna Karenina."

Credit: Focus Features

Review: All the world really is a stage in adventurous, aloof 'Anna Karenina'

Dazzling design but muted passion in imaginative adaptation of the Tolstoy tome

In the five years since Joe Wright last fixed his camera on a lissome, silk-swaddled Keira Knightley, he appears to have taken concerted, even hasty, steps away from a reputation he'd never made as much effort to acquire as his harshest critics would have you believe. Those accusing him of safely wallowing in Masterpiece Theater starch, or brashly seizing the mantle of the late Anthony Minghella (already a little moth-eaten from its time in David Lean's wardrobe), seem prompted more by the comfortable middlebrow success of his first two films than the often invigorating evidence on screen. 

No one needed another “Pride and Prejudice,” true, but Wright's frisky, grass-stained romp proved you could young up the classics without taking them to Vegas; “Atonement” occasionally buckled under the weight of its formal ostentation, but was bracingly concept-y in its romanticism, doubling back on Ian McEwan's exclusively literary twists with cool elan. It was an impressive one-two, but Wright obviously felt cowed into contemporary material by glib Merchant-Ivory comparisons. The modern LA folk tale of “The Soloist” wasn't as gloopy as it looked from a distance, but it felt like an assignment. Far weirder and more vital was “Hanna,” a daffy girl-oriented chase thriller lent cred and urgency by its full-throttle techno-Grimm styling; his best film to date, it's also the one that had us wondering who Joe Wright, like his equally mutable heroine, really is. 

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<p>Michael&nbsp;Shannon in &quot;The&nbsp;Iceman&quot;</p>

Michael Shannon in "The Iceman"

Credit: Millennium Films

On Adam Driver and Michael Shannon, 'Frances Ha' and 'The Iceman'

Charisma on two levels in Telluride

TELLURIDE - I'm not the Noah Baumbach subscriber many of my colleagues are. I even choked a little bit yesterday at the premiere of "Frances Ha" when Scott Foundas, in introducing the director, called him "the voice of his generation." But I do think a case may have been made in his latest.

The film is Woody Allen by way of Williamsburg, "Girls" by way of...well, Baumbach. And it's easily his best yet, his most thematically refined outing. And it's been interesting to see some call it his least essential, others his best effort. But few have bad words for it. At the center is a fantastic, flighty portrayal from Greta Gerwig, continuing her indie star rise, but I was once again charmed right out of my seat by Adam Driver.

You'll probably recall him for his work in Lena Dunham's aforementioned HBO series, and yes, he's treading similar waters here. But there's something so charismatic and easy, assured and magnetic about the actor. I'd say when he was on screen, I was most invested in the film. And I hope he gets more and more work.

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<p>Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams in &quot;To the Wonder.&quot;</p>

Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams in "To the Wonder."

Credit: FilmNation Entertainment

Review: 'To the Wonder' is Terrence Malick's typically enchanted Tree of Love

Heartfelt song to personal and spiritual intimacy proves predictably divisive

VENICE -- Stop the presses: There's been booing at a screening of the new Terrence Malick film. Whether they came from the same small-but-loud faction of supposed journalists who vocally expressed their displeasure at "The Tree of Life" in Cannes last year, or a fresh batch of doubters, such jeers are unusual for films that feature no purported moral transgressions, nor any sheer ineptitude of craft. (Films aren't booed at festivals simply for being bad, you know: a year ago, Madonna's "W.E." heard not a one.)

Rather, Malick is one of the few senior A-list filmmakers who can get razzed in this fashion for being too sincere, too lyrical, too himself. And he is all of those things, to both bewitching and bemusing effect, in "To the Wonder," a follow-up to "The Tree of Life" in more senses than mere proximity. With not even 16 months separating their premieres, they are by far the nearest-born works in a filmography otherwise thick with white space, underlining the impression of two sister films: both iridescently pictorial, ambiguously self-focused and inclined to lure critics into terms they should normally feel self-conscious about using. "Tone poem." "Meditation." "Elegy." "Prayer." Ghastly words when abused, the lot of them. Malick's cinema somehow wears them well.

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<p>Sarah Chalke of &quot;How To Live With Your Parents (For The Rest of Your Life)&quot;</p>

Sarah Chalke of "How To Live With Your Parents (For The Rest of Your Life)"

Credit: ABC

Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'How To Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)'

Acceptable premise and a great cast result in an unappealing pilot

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"How To Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)" (ABC) [Midseason]
The Pitch: You know how it's weird when guys have to help raise their kids? It's even weirder when grownups live with their parents. Or that's what the trend stories say.
Quick Response: I don't mind the premise here. I generally think Sarah Chalke is fantastic and I've been known to really like both Elizabeth Perkins and Brad Garrett. But just because I would happily watch a show with EXACTLY this premise and EXACTLY this cast doesn't mean that I want to watch THIS version of that show. Execution is everything and the pilot for "How To Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)" --- or HTLwYPFtRoYL, as I like to call it -- is probably the least enjoyable version of itself that it could possibly be. It doesn't help that Chalke is playing just another iteration of the exact same ditzy-yet-earthy-yet-flighty-yet-maternal quirky-hipster-mom that Dakota Johnson is playing on "Ben and Kate" and Georgia King is playing on "The New Normal" and her on-screen daughter (Rachael Eggleston) is just another variant on all of the season's interchangeable accessory daughters. If you're going to be part of a trend, it hurts to be the last show from the set to premiere and "HTLwYPFtRoYL" is the last [and least] of this group. ["Happy Endings" was the last of a group of "Friends"-style comedies in its season and is now the only survivor, so it's not impossible to overcome, if you happen to be funny.] For what it's worth, "HTLwYPFtRoYL" has a fair amount to say about the nature of parenting and the ways in which the mistakes of one generation inform the mistakes of the next generation. It just isn't funny in saying those things. The script is almost entirely designed to make likable actors unlikeable. Chalke, about as winning an actress as you can find, is flailing and shrill. Perkins and Garrett are the rare TV "Parents with No Filter" who you almost immediately wish would just muzzle themselves, without producing any compensating laughter [maybe it's not-so-rare, actually]. There's the tacit implication that you don't want to hear Perkins talking about having sex with a basketball team or Garrett talking about the results of testicular cancer because the characters are old and it's embarrassing when old people talk about such things. No. It's embarrassing because these are two talented actors delivering dialogue that's more unfunny than awkward. With bleeped swearing and sex talk, there's actually a lot of "HTLwYPFtRoYL" that's convinced it's cool or edgy or boundary shifting, but doesn't come close to any of those targets. [Am I wrong or is this title cumbersome without being genuinely amusing? Like the rest of the pilot, it thinks it's being cool or edgy, but it's really just long.] Orlando Jones and Jon Dore are wasted in supporting roles.
Desire To Watch Again: Chalke's moving into dangerous territory, because after "Mad Love," this is her second straight starring vehicle that I was convinced had all of the elements to eventually be funny and just wasn't funny in immediate execution. I gave "Mad Love" entirely too many episodes before giving up a week or two before ended. I won't be nearly as patient with this. I'll give "HTLwYPFtRoYL" a couple weeks to rise to the level of the involved talent and then I'm out, because the pilot was unpleasant.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's '1600 Penn'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Zero Hour'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Do No Harm'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'The Carrie Diaries'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Malibu Country'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'The New Normal'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Guys with Kids'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Mindy Project'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Partners'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Nashville'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Made in Jersey'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Emily Owens, M.D.'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Mob Doctor'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Animal Practice'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Last Resort'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Vegas'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Beauty & The Beast'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's '666 Park Avenue'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Ben and Kate'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Elementary'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Arrow'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Neighbors'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Revolution'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots entries

 

 

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<p>Madonna</p>

Madonna

Credit: Evan Agostini/AP

Music Power Rankings: Madonna, Taylor Swift and Adele make the list

Michael Jackson returns

1. Madonna: Madge launches the U.S. leg of her “MDNA” tour in Philadelphia. She takes to the stage 2 1/2 hours after the time on the ticket, angering some fans, but luckily the only guns beared were hers on stage.

2. The Rolling Stones: The legendary rock band will reportedly celebrate its 50th anniversary by playing two dates in Brooklyn and two in London for a reported payday of $25 million. As it turns out, sometimes you can get what you want.

3. Florence & The Machine: Band namesake Florence Welch reveals that the band plans to take a year off following the conclusion its current tour. Looks like they’ll be standing on “Ceremonials” for the near future.

4. Taylor Swift: She continues on a roll as her first Billboard Hot 100, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” sells close to 1 million downloads in its first two weeks of release.

5. Randy Jackson:
His time as a judge in “American Idol” is coming to an end as rumors swirl that he will shift to the lesser role of a mentor. Does that mean he’s being put in the ‘dawg” pound?

6. Adele: It had to come at some point. After 79 weeks, “21” falls out of the Top 10 for the first time since its release. The good news is it will likely rebound back into the upper reaches next week.

7. Trey Songz: It took five albums and seven years, but the R&B singer lands his first chart topping album this week with “Chapter V.” That’s what you call artist development.

8. The Simpsons: Music artists are nothing new for the long-running series, but the show is diving deep with the new season: over the past week, Justin Bieber, Tom Waits and The Decemberists have all signed on to appear on season 24.

9. Michael Jackson:
As his fans celebrate would have been Jackson’s 54th birthday,  ABC announces that “Bad25,” Spike Lee’s documentary on the superstar and one of his biggest albums will air Thanksgiving.

10. Chris Lighty: The highly regarded manager, who over the course of his long career worked with such acts as 50 Cent, Diddy, Mariah Carey, Cee Lo Green and more, dies of an apparent suicide.  RIP

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