Fox has made a big splash recently with materials for Ben Stiller's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," positioning it well with a New York Film Festival debut and pretty much following the "Life of Pi" playbook for what could be the filmmaker's first big awards player to date. But meanwhile, a Holocaust drama from a "Downton Abbey" director with Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson and 12-year-old lead actress has been quietly positioned in the midst of the Oscar fray and could be another player for the studio.
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Why did it take so long for "Breaking Bad" to have its "Sopranos" moment?
The AMC series took years to become a pop-culture sensation, says Hank Stuever, because "it was set in a place no one really cares about" and because it wasn't set New York or L.A. But Albuquerque, he says, plays a crucial role in "Breaking Bad's" success. Stuever, who got his first journalism job in Albuquerque, explains: "Set anywhere else, I don't think 'Breaking Bad' would have achieved its eerie sense of remoteness and moral unease. Walter's story simply lives better in the greatest, beige-est stretch of the flyover. Much of what made the show work was its backdrop; for New Mexicans, it occasionally verged on the documentary genre."
—Why "Breaking Bad" is designed to have a perfect ending
—How often has Bryan Cranston disagreed with Vince Gilligan?
—How "Breaking Bad" broke free of the clockwork-universe problem
—Walter White is the antidote to TV's antiheroes
—"Breaking Bad's" composer isn't holding anything back
—Los Pollos Hermanos is a burrito and burger chain called Twisters
—Dean Norris spoils everything for Funny or Die
—Vince Gilligan recalls meeting the creator of "Gilligan's Island"
—Bob Odenkirk's contribution to Saul Goodman: His hair
—Lydia's ending is "pristinely perfect" // The best "Breaking Bad"-inspired food
—Anna Gunn talks about Skyler becoming "Breaking Bad's" antagonist
—How Vince Gilligan looks at Albuquerque
—Betsy Brandt's favorite scene was the talking pillow
—"Badger" and "Skinny Pete" recall their auditions // "Badger" can't reveal Badger's fate
—Inside the writers' room // "Breaking Bad" takes over 8 car washes
—Meet "Breaking Bad's" science advisor // Walt Whitman vs. Walter White
—14 creepy "Breaking Bad" tattoos // "Breaking Bad" comic lets you catch up
—Who might die?: A breakdown // Meet "Breaking Bad's" cinematographer
—Bryan Cranston & Aaron Paul: Looking back at their red carpet fashion
—Why Jesse Pinkman has to die
[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.]
Airs:Wednesdays at 10 p.m.
The Pitch: You know that show "Ironside"? Do we think the brand has ANY equity for today's audience? Excellent. Now how about if it stars Blair Underwood? He's a TV star, right? I mean, even if he hasn't anchored a hit show in... decades.
Quick Response: I don't want to say that Blair Underwood has been complacent in recent years, but I wouldn't say that "Dirty Sexy Money," "The Event" and "New Adventures of Old Christine" asked much of him other than being handsome, suave and determined. In contrast, "Ironside" actually asks a lot of Underwood and he delivers a performance that is fierce, physically challenging and intellectually interesting, without ever ceasing to be handsome, suave and determined. There's an anger and frustration to Underwood's Ironside that makes the character seem nuanced and sometimes dangerous, and turns the character into more than just a wheelchair-bound, crime-solving version of House. This is Underwood's best work in years and, at the very least, that gives "Ironside" a key central piece to work with. And with Brent Sexton, Pablo Schreiber and "Greek" veteran Spencer Grammer, there are the elements here for what could be a reasonably good ensemble around Underwood. Unfortunately, the procedural aspects of "Ironside" are utterly generic and the integration of flashbacks, so that Underwood isn't wheelchair-bound 100 percent of the time, add more to the amelioration of Underwood's work schedule (and to the answering of "Why didn't you hire a differently able actor to play this role?" questions) than to the narrative. The pilot underuses Schreiber and Grammer, barely gives Neal Bledsoe a character, leaves Kenneth Choi with uninteresting authority figure blather and poorly integrates Sexton. So what should be an ensemble is Underwood carrying the whole whole load and as good as he is, he can't make you ignore the fact that you're ignoring whatever the case-of-the-week happens to be. I think there's a version of "Ironside" that evolves down its own path and capitalizes heavily on its New York City location shooting that probably takes after NBC's underrated "Prime Suspect," another remake that had too many issues and ties to the original that it had to work out in its pilot and had lost nearly all of its audience by the time it became really good. With a background on "The Sopranos" and "Rescue Me," creator Michael Caleo has some potential, but any and all enthusiasm stemming from the pilot is generated by Underwood's searing performance and not by the show around him.
Desire To Watch Again: Even a perfect version of "Ironside" is an entry in a genre that I only have tepid interest in, though I'm likely to give this an episode or two because it's in a slot in which my DVR isn't overtaxed -- "Nashville" and likely some cable stuff. What I need is for the ensemble to get a swift blending, without sacrificing the uncompromising nature of Underwood's performance. Adding even a tiny bit of inspiration to the procedural aspects wouldn't hurt.
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'We Are Men'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Almost Human'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Back in the Game'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Sean Saves the World'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Reign'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Crazy Ones'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Enlisted'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Betrayal'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Blacklist'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'The Tomorrow People'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Hostages'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Sleepy Hollow'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Trophy Wife'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Michael J. Fox Show'
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
The Civil Wars are going out with a bang as the now-defunct duo lands its first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 next week with its self-titled sophomore set.
“The Civil Wars,” which will sell up to 110,000 copies, is one of four debuts in the top 10: “Now That’s What I Call Music 47” likely lands at No. 2 (90,000), heavy metal band Asking Alexandria comes in at No. 8 with “From Death To Destiny” (32,000), and gospel singer Tye Tribbett at No. 9 with “Greater Than” (28,000).
Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” this week’s chart topper, drops to No. 3 next week. Jay-Z’s “Magna Carta Holy Grail” is at No. 4. There’s a logjam for spots 5-7 with Disney’s soundtrack to “Teen Beach,” Imagine Dragons’ “Night Visions” and Five Finger Death Punch’s ?“Wrong Side Of Heaven, Vol. 1” all slated to sell between 35,000-45,000. Rounding out the Top 10 will be Florida Georgia Line’s “Here’s To The Good Times,” according to Hits Daily Double.
Alex Trebek responds to "Jeopardy!" Kids Week controversy: "It wasn't my decision"
"It was the judges'" decision, says Trebek, who has gotten much of the flak. "I don't mind being accountable if it's something I have done, but it kind of bothers me to take a lot of flak for something I haven’t done. I must be getting thin-skinned in my old age."
CBS: Time Warner blackout barely affected ratings
The network says it's only down .2% in viewers.
"The Love Boat" cruise ship is going to its final resting place, a junkyard in Turkey
The Pacific Princess will be stripped for parts.
Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan may go "Dancing"
The Brazilian driver said he met with "Dancing with the Stars" producers last month.
The Fox Sports Robot has been brought to life
A 6' 9" version of Cleatus is helping promote the new FS1 network.
AMC boss recounts "Breaking Bad's" journey -- it premiered vs. Giants-Packers OT playoff game
How did AMC decide to follow "Mad Men" with "Breaking Bad"? AMC president and GM Charlie Collier talks about that and how AMC felt validated as a network when, after one year, "Mad Men" won the best drama Emmy and Bryan Cranston won best dramatic actor.
Watch David Letterman and Michael Keaton on Mary Tyler Moore's failed variety show
Both were stars of "Mary," which ran in 1978, one year after "Mary Tyler Moore" ended.
"Today" will unveil a new set on Sept. 9
"It is much more 'current' than what we have," says exec producer Don Nash. "I think it is much more exciting. We will have a lot more bells and whistles to play with, but it is classy, just like the show itself."
"Top Chef" gets a web "prequel" starring Padma Lakshmi
In "Padma's Picks," chefs will compete to appear on the Bravo reality show.
What is up with cable TV's after-show trend?
Andy Cohen's "Watch What Happens Live" has spawned "Talking Bad" and "Shark After Dark."
Jeffrey Dean Morgan calls "Magic City" cancelation "a big open wound"
"It's a little bit depressing," he says. "But that being said, to be part of such a great show is pretty great, and I met some really fantastic people."
"The O.C.": The definitive show about the economy in the 2000s
Did Ryan Atwood foreshadow the Occupy movement? PLUS: Seth Cohen: An appreciation.
FX pushing hard to get "Louie" an Emmy
The Emmy campaign includes pricey billboards and a special screening held last night.
What did Carrie write in her "Homeland" notebook?
The Season 3 trailer offers a detailed look at Carrie's notes.
Jennifer Aniston had a "Friends" reunion nightmare
She dreamt that there was a reunion, and she wasn't invited.
Guy Fieri to host "Grocery Games"
The Food Network show will pit chefs in a supermarket challenge.
"Mad Men" opening credits lawsuit settled
Former '60s model Gita Hall May had sued because she was featured in a Revlon ad in the opening credits without her permission.
The "Pardon the Interruption" guys visited the Oval Office
Check out Tony, Tony and Mike with President Obama.
Alton Brown launches "Cutthroat Kitchen"
The new Food Network competition will use sabotage and tricks in pitting four chefs against each other.
"Scandal" elevators, explained
Go behind the scenes of the Pope & Associate Entry and front hall.
TV's top showrunners talk making shows in the "Twitter Age"
Says Carlton Cuse: "I resorted to live-tweeting 'Bates Motel' with my mother to get viewers to show up live. I have no shame."
Andy Samberg explains the evolution of his hair
His hair has been on a journey, especially when he started on "SNL" with what looked like a "hippie mullet."
"Amish Mafia" going to prison
Alan Beiler, 35, was sentenced to three to 23 months for injuring a state trooper during a car chase.
Watch another "Girls" Season 2 deleted scene
Shoshanna and Marnie talk about Ray.
"Community" reruns begin on Comedy Central on Sept. 15
The syndication run will kick off with a 10-episode block of "fan-favorite episodes."
Cinemax returns with "Strikeback" Season 3
It's one of those shows that knows what it wants to do, and does it well.
Larry David's "Clear History" is like a "Curb Your Enthusiasm" all-star jam
Even though David isn't playing himself, the HBO film feels at times like a movie-length version of "Curb." PLUS: David's movie isn't great but has its moments, and there are consequences for being a jerk, unlike "Curb," and watch a supercut of Larry David acting silly on "Fridays."
AMC's "Low Winter Sun" is made up of the "sorry trimmings" of quality TV
The Detroit-set cop drama is a mess full of cliches, says Andy Greenwald. "'Low Winter Sun' has not an ounce of originality or spark," he adds. "Rather, it clumsily cobbles together a whole host of macho signs and signifiers in the hope that they'll add up to something more than gunsmoke and other forms of hot air." PLUS: It is entirely without humor, is this the beginning of an AMC slump?, and is "Low Winter Sun" the new "Wire"?
Jay Leno to say goodbye to "The Tonight Show" on Feb. 6, 2014
Leno, who replaced Johnny Carson on May 25, 1992, is now six months away from his (2nd) final "Tonight Show." But his staff will continue to be paid until September 2014, when Leno's contract expires.
FCC threatens to step in to resolve the CNN-Time Warner dispute
"We are in regular contact with the parties and stand ready to take appropriate action if the dispute continues," said an FCC spokesperson.
Juliette Lewis joins "Wayward Pines"
She'll play a bartender on M. Night Shyamalan's Fox limited event series.
I kept almost not liking "Elysium," but ended up being totally won over by it. Whatever that means. The thought I had coming out of the screening was that there are few filmmakers I want to keep making movies more than Neill Blomkamp. In my opinion, reviews harping on the heavy-handed message of the film miss the forest for the trees. Sometimes a point ought to be made heavy-handedly, and after all, sci-fi isn't necessarily the refuge of the subtle. Anyway, I'm a fan. I'll be interested to hear whether or not you are, too, so if you see the film this weekend, cut loose with your thoughts in the comments section and feel free to vote in our poll below. And if there's something else you've seen recently and want to discuss, consider this an open thread to do just that.
Last week, I wrote about the "Homeland" panel at press tour, and about producers Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon's thoughts looking back on season 2 and ahead to season 3. Today, Showtime released a trailer for the new season (it's the same one critics were shown before that panel), scored to The Cinematic Orchestra's "To Build A House."
It gives you glimpses of what Carrie, Saul, Brody, Dana and others will look like this season, if not the exact context of where they are and what they're doing. If you don't want to know anything, obviously don't watch. The season premiere is on September 29 — aka TV Drama-geddon, a night that will also feature the "Breaking Bad' series finale, the "Masters of Sex" debut, "The Good Wife" premiere, a new "Boardwalk Empire," and more — at 9 p.m. on Showtime.
Some TV shows are rapidly evolving organisms. You come back for a new season to find new characters, a new workplace, maybe even a wildly different tone. That can be exciting — though if done wrong, it can strip away what the audience liked in the first place.
Some TV shows offer you roughly the same thing week after week, season after season. There's a danger in that, too, as stagnation can lead to boredom. But there are certain shows that do what they do so well that evolution seems to be beside the point. One of those is Cinemax's "Strike Back," which begins a new season tonight at 10, doing the same things it usually does(*), but with such a high level of execution and glee that I care not a whit about the formulaic nature of it all. A show that kicks this much ass doesn't especially need to stretch.
Showtime unveils "Homeland's" Season 3 trailer
Watch the official trailer featuring brand-new footage.
A "Glee" musical is in the works
The Fox series is set to become a live stage musical.
Joy Behar says goodbye to "The View"
It was a star-studded one-hour pre-taped tribute today, with Regis Philbin, Tony Bennett, Joan Rivers, Meredith Vieira and an F-bomb.
Michael C. Hall, coming off "Six Feet Under," almost rejected "Dexter"
As he explains on next week's episode of "The Writer's Room," "My initial general response to the idea of It was aversion. I didn't want to make another open-ended commitment to a character surrounded by dead bodies."
Watch the alternate ending for "The Hills"
In which Brody says goodbye.
Katherine Heigl consulted on her CIA drama project with CIA officials
Heigl is also producing the proposed drama with her mother who also is her manager. The project, however, isn't being shopped to ABC.
Bob Odenkirk judges crappy local lawyer ads
Watch him use his "Breaking Bad" Saul Goodman expertise.
Last night's episode of "Project Runway" had a great deal going for it, didn't it? Jesse Tyler Ferguson! Bow ties! A trip to Mood! Some exceptional designs (Cam's and Bradon's come to mind) walked the runway! Alas, all of that was overshadowed by Sandro. Sandro, who'd seemed like a somewhat eccentric, mostly tasteless addition to the show (remember when he sent that model down the runway with her vajayjay showing? Oh, how we laughed!), proved himself to be less quirky fun than entirely unhinged.
Of course, this was reality TV gold, so the episode started with his meltdown, then returned to it at the end of the show so we could hear every bleep and, whenever possible, read lips to fill in the gaps. F word! S word! C word! Something Russian! Whoot!
Jimmy Fallon reveals his daughter was born via surrogate
Fallon tells "Today" how he and his wife kept the news secret from everybody.
Switzerland apologizes to Oprah after accusing a Zurich shop of discriminating against her
Oprah says she was stunned when a posh Zurich store refused to show her a $38,000 bag.
Owner of Walter White's "Breaking Bad" home has seen a lot of tourists recently
"Last month we had 404 cars here that I saw," says Fran, who's owned the Albuquerque home since 1973. "We've met people from all over the world and it's been amazing." PLUS: Listen to Vince Gilligan chat with Jeff Garlin for more than 90 minutes, and Funny or Die does "Breaking Badge" with Girl Scouts.
Keith Olbermann returns to "SportsCenter" after 16 years
Watch his appearance, from New York.
Jon Voight is frustrated that "Ray Donovan" is blacked out on his cable system
Voight is a Time Warner customer.
Why is "Sharknado's" sequel title so lame?
Was Syfy trying to be funny with "Sharknado 2: The Next One"?
Watch CNN's Jake Tapper on "All My Children"
How did the former White House correspondent end up acting on a soap?
"Doctor Who's" Peter Capaldi announcement was watched by 1.5 million on 3 continents
BBC America attracted 895,000 viewers.
Matt Damon opts not to rescue a trapped Stephen Colbert
Colbert was stuck under a vending machine on last night's show.