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Friday, November 30, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 26

Thursday, November 29, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 25

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 24

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 23

Monday, November 26, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 22

Sunday, November 25, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 21

Saturday, November 24, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 20

Friday, November 23, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 19

Thursday, November 22, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 18

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 17

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 16

Monday, November 19, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 15

Sunday, November 18, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 14

Saturday, November 17, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 13

Friday, November 16, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 12

Thursday, November 15, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 11

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 10

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 9

Monday, November 12, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 8

Sunday, November 11, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 7

Saturday, November 10, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 6

Friday, November 9, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 5

Thursday, November 8, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 4

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 3

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 2

Monday, November 5, 2007

WGA Strike Blackout - Day 1

Molly Shannon to 'Push Daisies'

Molly Shannon will join the cast of Pushing Daisies for a three-episode guest stint starting in the eighth episode of the season.

The SNL star will play a character by the name of Dilly Balsam, a competing baker owner who opens up shop across the street from Ned -- and isn't particularly concerned with labor laws.

Keywords: Molly Shannon, Pushing Daisies, Saturday Night Live, SNL

Showtime Buys More 'Weeds'

Confirming what was already a sure thing, Showtime has given the go-ahead for a fourth season of Weeds. The critically acclaimed ratings hit starring Mary-Louise Parker is credited with spearheading the Showtime revival and remains among its top earners.

Weeds will finish out its third season on November 19th.

Keywords: Weeds, Season 3, Season Three, Season Four, Season 4, Showtime, Mary-Louise Parker

Saturday, November 3, 2007

NBC Wants More 'Office' Hours

Despite a vocal critical backlash over The Office’s transition to the hour-long format, James Hibberd over at TV Week blogs that with the ratings success of the hour-long episodes, the exec producers have an open invitation to create more:

“The viewers have spoken,” NBC scheduling chief Vince Manze says. “This is the most gratifying move we have made all year, and probably the riskiest. Creatively we didn’t think the show lost anything at all. If you look at the ratings, I don’t think the viewers felt the same way [as critics]. We were up against the No. 1 shows on ABC and CBS, and not only did it pay off, the show grew and helped us establish the night.”

On whether the network will repeat the stunt, Manze says the decision is up to showrunner Greg Daniels and the rest of the “Office” team.

“[The show’s producers] have an open invitation to do as many [hourlongs] as they like,” Manze says. “It’s totally up to them if they want to do more. But there is a price. It’s tough physically and creatively to keep these going. I’m hoping the experience wasn’t so bad that they would dismiss the idea of more hours.”
I say go for it. When Michael dominates the A-storyline, Dwight, Pam and Jim alternately occupy the B-storyline, 30 minutes (21 after commercials) isn’t long enough to give the secondary characters significant screen time.

And when you think about it, what Office fan in their right mind would turn down the chance for more Toby or Creed?

Keywords: Creed Bratton, The Office, NBC, Michael Scott, Steve Carrel

Sutherland Fine; Fans, Not So Much

The state of Kiefer Sutherland after being arrested for his second DUI and sentenced to 48 days in prison seems to be a matter of perspective. According to Digital Spy’s Showbiz, all is well on the set for the 24 star:

Rajskub - who plays Chloe O'Brian in the show - reassured fans that the actor's legal issues have not affected his attitude during filming.

She said: "Kiefer is good. He's there, and I haven't really talked to him about the whole DUI thing. We're all plugging away, and it's been great. The spirits have been really great on set."
Though saying, “The spirits have been really great on set,” probably isn’t the best wording when referencing alcohol, by all accounts Sutherland’s relationship with his cast mates seems to be fine.

His fans are another story entirely. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Daily Dish says Sutherland is refusing to sign autographs, holding his fans partly responsible:
"24" star Kiefer Sutherland blames fans for his jail sentence for driving under the influence, and is refusing to sign anymore autographs.

Sutherland was snapped by camera-wielding fans as he stumbled from his car -- pictures which appeared on the Internet and could have been used as evidence in court.

And the 40-year-old is fuming. Autograph collector Michael Wehrmann tells Page Six, "He was one of the best autograph signers there was.

"He would always stand and sign for a half hour, but since his arrest, he's been telling collectors, 'I don't do that anymore. You guys screwed me.'"
While most would consider Sutherland’s stance asinine, it makes you wonder. The amount of DUI arrests among celebrities is abnormally high. When almost 50% of the drinking population still drinks and drives, one has to wonder if the reason so many celebrities are getting snagged is because they’re always in the limelight.

Keywords: Kiefer Sutherland, DUI, 24, Fox, Jack Bauer

Friday, November 2, 2007

Preview of 'The Wire' Season 5

Thanks to Jim King over at The Wire: POGP for the heads up on an all new video from the set of season five of The Wire with footage from the upcoming season.

Utterly and undeniably mouth watering. Combined with the information gleaned from an exclusive interview with series creator David Simon, season five looks absolutely stunning. Here's to a fitting end to the greatest story ever told.

Keywords: The Wire, HBO, David Simon, Final Season, Season 5, Season Five, Preview, Spoilers, Video

'Rescue Me' Returns for Season 5

It took a while but Rescue Me has been renewed for an extended two-part season, totaling 22 episodes. Mirroring the formula of The Shield's final season, it's almost certain season five will be Rescue Me's last.

Despite the poor reception for season four, FX President John Landgraf provided a ringing endorsement for FX's flagship series:

'Rescue Me' has always been the product of the unique vision and talents of Denis Leary, Peter Tolan and Jim Serpico, along with one of the best acting ensembles on television. The show has been a great source of pride to FX and remains one of the cornerstones of our respected brand of original series.
And he's right. Season four was certainly the series' weakest, but Rescue Me remainsl among the best series on television and we should all be grateful the boys from Engine 62 are coming back for another go.

Pending the writers strike, production should start in early 2008.

Keywords: Rescue Me, FX, Denis Leary, Season 5, Season Five, Peter Tolan, Jim Sperico, Renewal, Cancel, Cancellation

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Guilty Verdict Doesn't Sit Well With Don Vito

MTV star Vincent Margera was found guilty of sexual assault on a child yesterday in a Colorado courtroom. Based on the scene described by Sue Lindsay of the Rocky Mountain News, Margera, better known as Don Vito, Bam's uncle on Viva La Bam and Jackass, didn't take the news especially well:

Vincent Margera collapsed in [the] courtroom...sobbing and swearing as he heard his first guilty verdict for groping girls during a promotional appearance at the Colorado Mills mall.

"Jesus! I can't spend the rest of my f------ life in jail! Just f------ kill me now!" he screamed as he hit the floor, knocking down defense attorney Pamela Mackey as he fell.

"I can't stand up! My legs! My legs! I can't move," he yelled as deputies tried to calm and subdue him. "I didn't f------ do nothing. You can rot in f------ hell."
The jurors were understandably shaken, though the Judge seemed to take it in stride:
One juror cried and wiped tears from her face [while] Jefferson County District Judge M.J. Menendez continued reading the verdicts in a calm, clear voice, asking each juror, "Were these and are these your verdicts?"
For his part, the district attorney had a slightly comical take on the scene:
"I've never seen a defendant plunge to the ground like that," Storey said. "It's definitely a serious verdict. Not knowing him, I don't know if that's a typical reaction. He may have been taken by surprise and thought he would be exonerated... It's not necessarily life in prison."
Sentencing is set for December 20th.

Keywords: Vincent Margera, Bam Margera, Viva La Bam, MTV, Jackass, CKY, Don Vito

'Murder' Pays for ABC

Hot on the heels of Samantha Who? ABC has ordered three more scripts of Women's Murder Club. The Angie Harmon drama marks yet another success for ABC's new fall line-up, joining Samantha, Pushing Daisies and Private Practice.

Interestingly, Cavemen one of ABC's most hyped shows of the new season has been a complete flop.

Keywords: Samantha Who?, Christina Applegate, Women's Murder Club, Angie Harmon, Pushing Daisies, Private Practice, Grey's Anatomy, ABC, Ratings, Renew, Renewal, Cancel, Cancellation

'Nip/Tuck' Butchers the Competition

After the disappointing performance by Damages, FX has to be thrilled with Tuesday night's premiere of Nip/Tuck. The fifth season premiere drew a 2.7/7 (rating/share) among 18-49s and 4.34 million viewers overall.

The tally marks the highest 18-49 premiere numbers for FX since Nip/Tuck took home the honor in season three.

I'm still bitter about The Carver, but it seems as though that move to LA was prudent.

Keywords: Nip/Tuck, FX, Los Angeles, The Carver, Season Five, Season 5, Nielsen, Ratings, Nielsens

HBO Reveals its 'Treatment'

HBO has revealed the schedule and structure of its upcoming series, In Treatment.

"In Treatment" consists of five characters in one-on-one sessions as patients with their analyst; the five get nine half-hours apiece for their story arcs, for a total of 45 episodes.
Beginning on Monday, Jan. 28, at 9:30 p.m., the episode featuring the first of the five patients kicks off and runs for the next eight Mondays. On Tuesday, Jan. 29, the second patient stretches out on the couch and bares his soul for a total of nine Tuesdays. The same pattern holds for Wednesdays and Thursdays. The difference on Fridays is that the analyst himself will become the patient in a training analysis, with Dianne Wiest as his psychiatrist.

This is by far one the most intricate and ambitious formulas for a plot in television history. Although it would be a lot cooler if it was based on a bunch of superheroes or dastardly villains, with HBO's history of revolutionizing the medium, it's going to be a much anticipated project.

Keywords: HBO, In Treatment, Gabriel Byrne, Josh Charles, Embeth Davidtz, Melissa George, Blair Underwood, Mia Wasikowska, Dianne Wiest, Alias, Sports Night,

A Modern Day Dickens

David Simon is one of the most important and striking voices in contemporary American culture. During Simon's 13-year career at the Baltimore Sun, he penned the Edgar Award winning account of the Baltimore City Homicide Division, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets (which later spawned the NBC series).

From there, Simon, along with The Wire co-creator Ed Burns, wrote The Corner, a 1997 New York Times Most Notable Book of the Year, also the basis for an HBO miniseries.

But topping all of his accomplishments is HBO's The Wire, a sprawling, epic tale about the decay of the American city. The Wire is considered among the modern classics of our time, with the New York Times commenting, "If Charles Dickens were alive today, he would watch The Wire. Unless, that is, he was already writing for it."

With season four set for release on DVD December 4th and season five debuting on January 6th, 2008, I had the opportunity to go one on one with Simon, starting with a discussion about season five its focus on the media.

TV Blogger: At what point did you see The Wire going from a story about the war on drugs to an epic about the American city?

Simon: We had the intention to depict Baltimore, going to other pieces of the city, slicing it into different pieces. Ed Burns, Bob Colesberry (RIP), Nina Noble and I were having these conversations while forming season one, what to do next year, how to set up the port story.

Having said that, we didn’t talk to HBO until we presented season and told them we were going to put the Barksdale story on the backburner and going with a different theme.

At that point I had the open conversation with Chris Albrecht and Carolyn Strauss that said, 'Look, we’re going to build a city.' They didn’t guarantee us five seasons, we only knew we would get two at that point, but the presumption had to be if we do get the five what are we going to build.

Then the writers internally began having conversations even at the beginning of season two about what other themes we wanted to explore. Ed was very strong for education, because he worked seven years teaching public school in Baltimore.

I wanted to do the media and I knew that had to wait for the end. And we knew that to do education and the media properly we had to introduce the political component and the implication of reform. That became an inevitable season three.

TV Blogger: Were there any other themes you thought to explore?

Simon: We threw it open to all the writers and asked what else is there. Are there are other things that would not start feel cyclically and thematically redundant?

Everything was either shot down because they'd make the show feel long in the tooth and we wouldn’t be breaking that much new ground. The courthouse, big hospitals, medical care. And if it was something we thought was new thematically we didn't have the ability to achieve the proper research in the time that we were going to be off the air.

We thought to do a season on immigration. Baltimore virtually no Latino presence till about ten years ago. And now there's a very strong central American-immigrant community in Baltimore. And that would be something great to explore, but by the time we thought of it we had already sold the last two season arcs to HBO and we didn’t have a big enough window between any of the seasons to properly do the research into a culture that we’re foreign to. So we decided on five organically.

TV Blogger:: In terms of season five, can you speak to your thoughts on the media, its role in marginalizing places like West Baltimore, North Philadelphia, East St. Louis, etc., and the state of traditional media right now?

Simon: I think we proved ourselves -- newspapers, the print media -- to be as ridiculously susceptible to raw capitalism and market forces as anything that we critiqued thus far in The Wire.

The newsroom where I used to work (the Baltimore Sun) had 460 people. Now it has 300. And there are people out there who just don’t care. They’ll make more money putting out a mediocre paper than they would putting out a better paper. They know this. It's their equation. They’re quite content with mediocrity.

And within that culture we have people that are saying, ‘oh no, we’re going to do more with less,’ which is one of the great lies of the 21st century. What it means is we’re going to less with less. And that’s the nature of what journalism is becoming.

TV Blogger: How do you distinguish between the good and the mediocre?

Simon: You see these sort of 'we gotcha' stories, bite sized morsels of outrage, half-assed scandals. No one is tackling big problems. That kind of ambition is gone. When I went into journalism school, which is over 20 years ago now, high end journalism seemed like it was growing by leaps and bounds in its ability to assess the most delicate and ornate contradictions in society.

You look at some of the coverage Watergate and some of the examinations of political infrastructure that followed on the part of high end papers. It was very impressive and there was every reason to believe that it was become more so, that newspapers were going to become more serious and instead the opposite happened.

TV Blogger: Why?

Simon: At some point, Wall Street found the industry. And instead of being sheltered in a series family owned companies, the newspaper chain entities, which are beholden to stock holders and share prices, began buying them up. At that moment when Wall Street raised its hand, that was pretty much the end.

Newspapers became vulnerable and it was only exacerbated by the fact that no one I ever saw at any of the newspapers -- with the exception of maybe of The Wall Street Journal -- anticipated the internet.

TV Blogger: The failure of law enforcement, the death of the working class, the impotence of reform, the inequity of the education system -- how much can you really blame on newspapers?

Simon: I’m not blaming the newspaper for the origins of the problem, the origins of the problem are a complete lack of social policy. Our social framework is "Can I get I promoted now, can I make a buck off it?" The entire country right now is like a pyramid scheme with no other ethic or social framework behind it.

So obviously there are a lot of forces at work. I’m just saying the media, which is supposed to be the assertive watchdog of the political and social culture, the last hope of reform -- they're not here anymore.

I think The Wire is dealing with it in proportion in the sense that it's the last season. After you've seen the the institutions themselves are incapable of reform, after you've seen the political process is incapable of introducing reform than the last question is, "While this going on, what are we paying attention to and why?'

What happened to the people who are supposed to be sounding the alarm? While the unions die, while the jobs disappear, while the political infrastructure dispatches one reformer after another, while the police department and the school system and every other agency create systems to deny the obvious – that they’re not doing their jobs anymore – while all this is happening, what was the external monitor doing and paying attention to?

And to that extent and only to that extent, yes the media is culpable. They had their job to do and they’re not doing it.

TV Blogger: As far as how bad it got – that pyramid scheme -- do you think it was ineptitude, self preservation or was this a calculated maneuver by those that set our policy to stay atop the pyramid?

Simon: I don’t think that it's that anyone had a plan to do this. People were simply thinking short when they should have been thinking long.

For example, if you're talking about education. No child left behind? It's a lie. Children are being left behind in draconian ways now. But there’s manufactured test scores at the first and third grade levels to show that politicians, that school boards, that administrators are improving things, making them better.

And by the time the kids get to sixth and seventh grade the test scores tumble. Because the system isn't actually intervening in any meaningful way. They're juking the stats. They're teaching the kids how to take the tests in first and third grade and they can't sustain it beyond that. By ninth grade in these school systems the kids aren't even in class. So there's that lie.

Meanwhile, the police department is pretending they’re locking up the right people when they’re just making stats and not solving crimes or protecting real estate. The Baltimore PD has become dysfunctional as have many police departments across the country. The drug war has in fact destroyed good police work, not enhanced it.

They’re just harvesting stats out of self preservation of the institution. You can’t be soft on drugs. Is there a political party that has the courage to re-examine the fifty year disaster that is the drug war? There are more Americans in prison than ever before and they are less violent than ever before. We’re not putting away more violent criminals. The numbers don’t show that. We’re putting out away non-violent criminals at an incredible rates. We’re putting away drug mules and mid-level dealers, street level dealers, runners.

And there are political leaders who have fashioned entire careers on the basis of these falsely improving stats. So it’s a combination of the personal ambition of the people atop these institutions, the people who are dependent upon the perception of how these institutions are running -- coupled with the fact that there’s money in this stuff.

There’s money in 'No Child Left Behind,' there’s money in letting neighborhoods go down in the inner city to the point that they’re uninhabitable, inhospitable to normal life and then buying office real estate and 'rebuilding America.' They can’t fix the culture of the ghetto but they can sure can buy off the real estate and make a profit off it.

TV Blogger: And at the same time, everytime Bunny takes a step in the right direction his programs get obliterated. The final scene of season three where he's looking at the rubble of Hamsterdam -- the scene at the end of season four after the pilot program gets shut down, Bunny says something to the effect of 'Every time I open my mouth, I'm telling people what they don't wanna know.'

Simon: It’s political fear, it’s political self preservation, wanting to win the next election or get the bigger seat. A combination of fear and dishonesty and ambition and profit. And the truth is a very frail creature compared to those things.

TV Blogger: The perfect storm.

Simon: Yes. And I don’t think we have the wherewithal as a people anymore, we certainly don’t have collective courage to demand better from our institutions.

The Wire is Greek tragedy. It’s literally like standing up and demanding better of your Gods for the average American.

Keywords: The Wire, Season Four, Season 4, Season Five, Season 5, David Simon, Ed Burns, The Corner, Homicide, Life on the Street, Interview


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