Saturday, September 7, 2013

DROP THE PILOT:  Courtesy of the Paley Center's Preview event, I spent almost 7 hours today watching pilots--seeing almost all the NBC, CBS, and CW pilots (two exceptions--Dracula, which screened at the same time as the CW pilots, and The Originals, the last pilot shown, which I skipped).  I believe all were final for broadcast versions, lacking only credits.  My (somewhat lengthy) thoughts follow:

The Best
  •  The Michael J. Fox Show--Like its leading man, it's just so goshdarn likable that you can't help but smile.  There are real questions about what the show looks like going forward (is it a workplace comedy or a family comedy? can the supporting cast generate interesting stories?), but I'm in on this one without question, and today's casting news suggests there's interesting stuff ahead.
  • The Blacklist--In my view, the Alias pilot is one of the best of all time.  This pilot reminded me a lot of a lesser version of that one, though without the visual and structural inventiveness of Alias.  Young woman gets brought into a shady operation, and in the process, secrets are revealed about the operation, the man who brought her in, and herself.  In addition, the twist about her relationship with Spader that the trailers seem to suggest isn't revealed in the pilot, and the pilot's ending suggests that we're going in a different direction.  Most importantly, more than any other pilot I saw, I understand exactly what the show is week to week after watching this--each week, they hunt down another criminal from Spader's "Blacklist," and we also have mythology bits sprinkled in.  Yeah, I'll watch.
  • The Tomorrow People--Young, pretty, people with superpowers on the run from an EEEEVIL government agency that wants to capture them?  Yeah, we've seen this before, but it's well executed, makes good use of NYC location filming, and has fun with it.  It's a perfect leadout for Arrow.
(More after the break)

Friday, September 6, 2013

TURKISH DELIGHT ON A MOONLIT NIGHT: Tomorrow the IOC will be deciding between the bids of Istanbul, Madrid, and Tokyo to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. Who will/should it be?

edited Saturday 4:36p: It's Tokyo, which will host the Summer Games for the first time since 1964.
YOU HAD ME AT "SPAGHETTI":  I am extremely amused by the suggestion that James Franco had never seen a celebrity roast before participating in his own, though my favorite dig may have been Jonah Hill's on Bill Hader:
Bill Hader was brilliant on SNL and when he left the show every single person was like, "What are you doing? You're never ever going to work again." And what does my man Bill do? Boom, he books a T-Mobile commercial. Who's laughing now, Lorne Michaels? My man Bill is. If that thing goes national, we could be talking like 10, 15 grand. This guy's cashing checks from the fourth largest mobile provider in the nation. I respect Bill because Sprint was coming after him hard, but he held out for that fuck you T-Mobile money.
Related: Fifteen of the better roast sets ever.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

HBO NEEDS TO GET ON THIS:  With news that Angela Lansbury will get an honorary Oscar this year, I'd assumed that would complete an (arguable) EGOT for her.  Not quite.  Despite a plethora of Emmy nominations, including one for every single season of Murder, She Wrote, nary a win.  She's lost to:
  • Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly (twice each) for Cagney and Lacey
  • Dana Delany (twice) for China Beach
  • Patricia Wetting (twice) for Thirtysomething
  • Sela Ward for Sisters
  • Kathy Baker for Picket Fences (three times)
  • Mary-Louise Parker for Angels in America
  • Amanda Plummer for L&O:SVU

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

BOOGIE IN YOUR WHAT? 20 years after his last music album and 28 years after his first and only Top 40 hit (the immortal "Party All The Time"), Eddie Murphy will be releasing a new all-reggae music album this fall, and has a new single out.
A DIFFICULT TRUTH TO HANDLE:  Radar Online is reporting that Jack Nicholson quietly has decided to retire from acting, with diminished memory cited as a key factor. 

He is 76, the most-Oscar nominated male actor of all time (8 lead and 4 supporting across five decades, with two wins in the former and one in the latter), and if this is true then his last-minute-substituting-for-Bill-Murray role in James L. Brooks' How Do You Know (2010, and his fourth film with Brooks) will have been his last screen work. It's not, of course, the one we'll remember first, and as the 1994 AFI Tribute notes:
A rebel with an unquenchable spirit — both onscreen and off — Nicholson's roles have spanned all genres. His performances offer an impressive variety of experience, yet his artistry is consistent. He has had the courage to tackle offbeat, often unsympathetic, roles; but he invests each of his characters with humanity and intelligence.... 
TWO REFLECTIONS INTO ONE:So, British songstress Ellie Goulding ("Lights") has covered "Mirrors" with a relatively stripped down arrangement. Does it prove Timberlake and his team can write songs, or is the song just boosted by JT's charisma?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

THIS WOULD'VE BEEN POSTED SOONER, BUT, Y'KNOW, TRANSACTION COSTS:  Yes, of course, the Ronald Coase story we enjoyed through Isaac Spaceman's Friends-based retelling made its way into the NYT's obit today

While teaching at the University of Virginia, Professor Coase submitted his essay about the F.C.C. to The Journal of Law and Economics, a new periodical at the University of Chicago. The astonished faculty there wondered, according to one of their number, George Stigler, “how so fine an economist could make such an obvious mistake.” They invited Professor Coase to dine at the home of Aaron Director, the founder of the journal, and explain his views to a group that included Milton Friedman and several other Nobel laureates-to-be. 
“In the course of two hours of argument, the vote went from 20 against and one for Coase, to 21 for Coase,” Professor Stigler wrote later. “What an exhilarating event! I lamented afterward that we had not had the clairvoyance to tape it.”
I still think it works better with Coase-as-Rachel.
OY VEY, DID WE FORGET ABOUT THE ALOTT5MA JUDAICA MASHUP DESK FOR ALL OF 5773?  Take your pick: a Rosh Hashanah-themed "Get Lucky" (with some serious teruah action), or "Adon Olam," "Cups"-style.
IT WOULD BE GREAT TO HAVE A CATCH:  Four years later, Chase Utley responds to a letter from a young fan named Mac.
I AM YOUR SINGING (GUNSHOT): Buzzfeed has a surprisingly long history of the making of Clue: The Movie, including that Tom Stoppard, Anthony Perkins, and Stephen Sondheim allegedly were considered to script, that they really wanted Rowan Atkinson to play Wadsworth, and what's allegedly the only piece of improv in the film.
STOP ALL THE CLOCKS, CUT OFF THE TELEPHONE:  Perhaps no screenwriter is more responsible for the modern romantic comedy canon—or at least the British wing thereof, and especially the parts including Hugh Grant—than Richard Curtis, who is responsible for the scripts to Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones's Diary, Notting Hill, Love Actually as well as the sitcoms Blackadder and Mr. Bean.

About Time, his latest is coming out in November, and if you are interested in what looks to be Curtis' spin on Groundhog Day, or seeing Rachel McAdams in another time-travel-ish romance (and millions apparently do), well, you'll want to see the trailer. Co-starring The Guy Who Played Bill Weasley as The Boy, and much-beloved Bill Nighy as The Dad.

[I saw the trailer before The World's End this weekend. As I often say of films, if you were someone who was thinking about seeing it, you should see it. The whole cast is quite charming—Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine ... even the guy who played Walder Frey and Argus Filch—and it's a winning mix of buddy nostalgia and, well, other stuff that we shouldn't discuss.]

Sunday, September 1, 2013

THE GREAT LAKES AVENGERS HAVE KNOWN FOR A LONG TIME: The number one threat to America's power grid?  Squirrels!