Saturday, January 31, 2009

Super Bowl Coming Up Tomorrow

You won't find anybody less interested in sports -- any sports -- than I am, but of course it's Super Bowl weekend. The Super Bowl -- on NBC this year -- is inextricably tied with television, with the elaborate half-time show, this year starring Bruce Springsteen (who was just robbed of an Oscar nomination for his song for the movie The Wrestler, after winning a Golden Globe for the same) as the big draw. Of course we've also got the cadre of people who claim they watch just for the commercials.

Actually, you might want to skip this year if that's the only reason you watch. The best/worst thing I've heard so far about tomorrow's event is that NBC has sold a spot to the direct response advertiser Cash4Gold. Yikes! How desperate can you get? Nothing like selling grandma's gold fillings for a few bucks...well, I guess you're supposed to sell jewelry, that's bad enough. (The New Yorker had an interesting article on the jewelry sell-off resulting from the Madoff scandal, as a matter of fact, the other week. It's available online here.)

Even more depressing is that the spot stars Ed McMahon and M.C. Hammer. Geez, the economy really is in the toilet, isn't it? And pop culture, too, by the looks of it.

A little more heartening is a nice photo feature in today's L.A. Times online detailing the programs that have aired in the valuable post-Super Bowl timeslot on the various networks. It's an amusing mixed-bag of hits and misses, and it'll bring back some memories.

I'm posting the Cash4Gold commercial -- not the one in the Super Bowl, thank goodness! -- just because it's pretty bad.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Remembering the Challenger

Today is the 23rd anniversary of the Challenger disaster. I remember this day vividly and the image will always be deeply embedded in my soul, heart and mind. I'm sure many of you remember this heartbreaking moment in our historical drama that is the United States of America. Lives were taken. Taken from families, friendships and the millions of excited schoolchildren watching a deeply loved teacher go away forever. Well, go away from this life forever.

As a Chicago to the core citizen I was still dancing in bliss with the victory of my beloved Bears in the Super Bowl. In the city of big shoulders we were still doing the Super Bowl Shuffle when another type of dream literally died.

This post is in memory of all of my own beloved teachers. I was fortunate and blessed to have gone to some wonderful private schools. These schools were among the finest in the area and I am sure my teachers weren't paid nearly enough as they taught and attempted to inspire a group of kids coming of age in the 1970's. Thankfully, I still keep in touch with several of them. May God bless each of them this day and every day.

To the families of the Challenger crew from that fateful morning, please know that many of us still send our thoughts and more importantly our prayers your way.

"They touched the face of God." President Ronald Reagan

"A Million Old Soldiers Will Fade Away, but a Dream Goes on Forever." Todd Rundgren, 1974

"See, I will not forget you for I have carved you in the palms of my hands." Book of Isaiah, Chapter 51

If Anybody Cares, the NATPE Convention is on in Las Vegas

It's been a long time since I attended a NATPE convention, the acronym standing for the National Association of Television Program Executives. Back in the day, when I was just a young'un and went to my first convention in San Francisco (accompanied by fellow Noser Jane, as a matter of fact!), it was a wild and wooly affair, populated with mostly male television producer sales reps, gorgeous girls used as bait at the program booths, huge displays by the big studios, and loads of food and drink for everyone. By the time I'd stopped going, not as many men reps, fewer booth babes, less food, and some distributors didn't even have a spot on the floor, opting instead to set up in offsite hotel suites.

You would have thought it would be a field day for a television lover, but mostly it was just a bunch of salesmen -- some great or at least nice human beings, some who should have been selling used cars -- hawking their programs. I always had more sympathy for the small distributors who were selling maybe one little movie package, instead of the bulwarks of the majors who'd trot out the stars of their shows to goose up the buyers and sad to say there would be long lines of industry professionals lined up to get their pictures taken with the overpaid performers. Ugh. Have some dignity, will ya?

My favorite memories of past NATPEs are idiosyncratic -- meeting Jesse "The Body" Ventura at the WWF booth and having a great conversation with this charismatic and articulate personality who went on to a successful political career; seeing Austin Power's amazing Verne Troyer ("Mini Me") who is, among many things, an actual wonder; being in a roomful of folks and having O.J. Simpson lawyer Johnnie Cochran, who was hawking a talk show of his own, pop in and be introduced, to a rather chilly reception -- there was no love in that room for how he got Simpson off. What else...? Meeting Prince Andrew who was also shilling for a documentary he produced. I believe I said "Hi there!", sans the royalty salutation.

Oh, and a wonderfully intimate session/discussion with veteran producer Aaron Spelling, where the small room was crowded with attendees who obviously loved and admired Spelling and television -- the kind of people there were never enough of at the convention. We were rapt as he passionately and charmingly discussed his long and successful career, from Charlie's Angels to Fantasy Island to Melrose Place to Starsky & Hutch and beyond. Spelling was a man with an incredible eye for talent, and his obvious enthusiasm for what he did was delightful and inspirational. Spelling personified everything that those of us who loved TV and made it our career believed in, and he was a rare and wonderful part of television history. What a treat it was to see him speak.

But mostly I fondly remember the ridiculous pranks my colleague and I used to play. Nothing too horrible, and far too little than the event deserved, with all the pomposity and egos contained within, but we'd go to the convention prepared with ream of papers printed up with either fake movie packages or mysterious posters -- the word "SUBMIT" along with a grainy photo of somebody like Shemp Howard or Rondo Hatton, for instance, or the deliberately cryptic image to the right -- which we'd gleefully distribute anywhere we could. We'd slip our material into displays, leave them in phone kiosks, put them on leaflet tables, anywhere we could, and leave giggling like mad schoolgirls. Our favorite "get" was when somebody was being interviewed in front of the Playboy booth, and we had put one of our posters in a prominent place where you could clearly see it. Ah, victory! (I hope I haven't compromised my former cohort who is still employed in the industry, but what the heck...)

Oh, I almost forgot about the time when the talk of the convention was when several distributors got taken to jail for groping some entertainers in a strip club. A real classy bunch, some of those guys, eh?

Over my long career I met very few people in television distribution who seemed to love or even understand the programming they represented. That is the sad truth of TV -- between the people who produce, who probably do love their programs, and the audience who sometimes also falls in love with the programs, is a vast sea of accountants, salespeople, marketers and others whose job it is to ram this stuff down the throats of the viewers and make the profit. I usually left NATPE with the feeling that I hated the industry and the people in it, to tell the truth.

But hey, if you are interested, some of the NATPE panels will be available on live internet feed from

So much for the memories of a cranky ex-exec! :-)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Flight of the Conchords-Because We All Need a Laugh Right Now

Don't miss this week's episode of FOTC on HBO, delightfully titled, "New Cup". Without giving too much away, Bret exceeds the FOTC family budget by overspending a couple of dollars on a new tea mug. Manager Murray can't save them because he's sunk the band's emergency fund into an important Nigerian investment program that he found over the Internet. Jemaine and Bret embark on a hair brained scheme to recoup their losses by engaging in the world's oldest profession. Funniest bit ever...Mel hires them to give her a massage. Most hilarious video ever: "Sugar Lumps", which I am posting below with a special disclaimer for our younger readers that this is somewhere between PG-13 and R based on language. Check out the businessmen, construction workers and nerds dancing in the background. Hip hop will never be the same. And special mention for FOTC best buddy Dave, who does an awesome Beastie-Boyesque rap inside the video. I am posting it here so we can all have an easy way to watch it another two or three hundred times. It's a sure fire cure for all the nasty economic news out there in the world today. If this doesn't make you laugh, you are comatose.

By the way, is it just me or is FOTC sort of a 21st Century post modern spawn of the old TV classic, The Monkees? Think about it and discuss amongst yourselves. I think there is a strand of Monkee's DNA pulsating somewhere inside of FOTC's hereditary background.

Because It's So Friggin' Cold Here Right Now

-- about minus 17 degrees Celsius, which translates to around 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit -- I wanted to find something to post that at least looked warmish. Don't get me wrong, it's beautiful here; as sunny as can be but cold as a witch's nip.

If that volcano pic didn't do the trick, this might warm us up! Here's one of the greatest television show opening theme sequences of all time, from the classic cop drama Hawaii 5-0! What a show!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Air Force One: Welcome Aboard!

You might want to make room for one more presidential-themed TV special to wrap up this historic inaugural week. Tonight at 8pm the National Geographic channel will feature a wonderful documentary about the "flying White House", otherwise known as Air Force One. Watch as President Obama is welcomed aboard his new jet and given the grand tour. In a hilarious clip, the President meets his new pilot, Colonel Turner; square jawed, uniformed, straight and steady as a Redwood tree. Obama says, "You are exactly what I want my pilot to look like. Like Sam Shepherd in "The Right Stuff", right out of central casting!"

We are thrilled to consider that President O perhaps also loves our favorite astronaut movie, The Right Stuff"! We also weirdly wonder if Mr. President is a Sci Fi movie fan, and whether he worries that he will have to fight aliens or incoming comets. Because in movies where we are about to be invaded by aliens or wiped out by a comet, the American president is almost always an African American.

Nothing like that on tonight's special, just a great tour of the most high tech plane on the planet. Come and enjoy!

The New Sunday Night Viewing Choices on HBO and Showtime

It's no Dexter-Mad Men-TrueBlood line-up, but this January has brought new episodes of several favorites, as well as a much-touted Showtime original. The Flaming Nose is all over Season 2 of HBO's droll Flight of the Conchords, which we have loved from the beginning and are thrilled to see it back again. I've previously read that this season has been much harder to produce and that they may call it quits after this one, and this recent article from the New York Times details the trials of basically making a sitcom and one or two music videos for each new episode. At least the effort is worth it, with FoTC's Bret and Jemaine and the touchingly ambitious Murray back once again with their charmingly off-center efforts to crack into music stardom. (I have had occasion to watch/listen to some of this week's Australian Open Tennis and at least one of the announcers sounds just like Murray -- adorable!)

HBO also brings us Season 3 of the suburban polygamy drama Big Love, starring Bill Paxton as the husband of three lusty wives each with unique problems and several of his kids. It's never less than fascinating, veering from near soap opera to a masculine business-oriented story to teenage concerns and back again. You don't often get the chance to see terrific actresses like Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny, and all the others of that calibre, and the entire cast is filled with unusual faces and unique talents who don't look or act like standard Hollywood issue talent. Bill Paxton manages to be sympathetic, beleagured, sexy and pious all at the same time, and he's the force that keeps his family -- and this show -- together.

Showtime last week premiered its much-touted and much-previewed Spielberg-produced, and Juno's Diablo Cody-written half-hour comedy (I think it's a comedy...not sure really) The United States of Tara, about a suburban housewife with multiple personality disorder. I think star Toni Collette can do no wrong, but screenwriter Cody bugs me so I confess to a bit of a negative bias against this, try as I might to be open to its charms. I totally get the crazy thrill of watching Collette veer between her various personas, including a prim homemaker, a loutish redneck male, and a sexy firecracker of a teen girl, plus her own likable artistic self. It's a terrific tour-de-force of trick acting and I'm sure that soon we'll be made more interested in how Tara's family -- a husband played by John Corbett who is the poster boy for a sexy but caring hetero male (Northern Exposure, Sex and the City), her sensitive son (loves to cook) and her rebellious daughter -- manage to come to terms with her unusual predicament. On one hand I want to like this because of Toni Collette, and on the other I want to hate it because of Ms. Cody. I will at least give it a go, though, whichever way the chips eventually fall.

Showtime also brings on the announced last season of its hot lesbian-centric melodrama The L Word, with as attractive a female cast as you'll find anywhere -- Jennifer Beales, Pam Grier, Mia Kirschner, Katherine Moennig, Rachel Shelley, Laurel Holloman, et al -- and they are all talented actresses, too. If you haven't been with this series since the beginning it may seem impenetrable (no particular pun intended), but you could always watch older episodes on the LOGO network or just plunge right in and figure things out as you go along. I've been following it on and off and have liked all of the episodes I've ever seen. So follow this one to the finale and you will no doubt be hooked.

It's actually shocking how quickly television produces, offers and eats up new material these days. We are surely in an age of incredible television choice, and you almost have to wonder how long can it last. We have learned to be content with seasons of only 12 episodes for shows on anything but the broadcast networks -- what a burden for them to bear! -- and no sooner are we through with being astounded at one success than we crave another. It's all about the economics, of course, and at this point we're all going to have to concede that cable and pay networks seem to have the advantage, including the ability to play with limits of taste and language that the broadcast nets don't, and probably shouldn't, go beyond. But still we have Lost, 24, House, do they do it?

Enjoy this boom while it lasts! Will advertisers be able to keep paying for the commercials that keep the commercial nets afloat? Will we only be able to see expensive shows on nets which can rely on constant subscriber fees? I don't know, but I surely thank goodness for every minute of great television out there!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"Lost" Season Five Premieres Tonight on ABC!

I've long since gotten hopelessly muddled in the complicated plotlines, but I am still eagerly anticipating the return of ABC's classy mysterious drama Lost tonight, beginning at 8pm with a lookback clip show, and then with a new 2-hour episode at 9pm.

Seldom has there been a show with such an attractive cast, even when mired in jungle muck or shackled in barred cages, and though I can't seem to remember anything past when that big scary noise blew everything up a few seasons back, I'm game for more.

There are countless -- and I mean that literally -- websites out there dedicated to lost, but for a fairly straightforward account, you might like to take a look at Zap2It's "Guide to Lost" here. If you are in the U.S., ABC's Lost site graciously provides HD video of all the episodes, but don't you dare try to watch if you happen to be outside the border -- it's like running into a brick wall, a really rude one, at that. I mean, not even a "Sorry"! (There are workarounds, of course, which we are happy to share if you drop us a line.)

This next promo is a longer version which was unveiled a couple of months ago to prepare us for tonight.

No matter if you are befuddled like I am or completely up-to-date on the goings-on on the Island and beyond, tonight's Lost event is a genuine thrill, television-style. After yesterday's incredible Inauguration coverage, we're back to earth again, but boy, what a ride we're going to have!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

In the Spirit of Cooperation Across All Parties and Species on This Special Day...

We present this awesome video of a parrot and a kitty who are pals. Watch how the parrot scratches the kitty on his chin, which the kitty loves!

The Presidential Walk from CNN Coverage

Television Covers the Inauguration of President Obama

The Greatest Show on Television -- on Earth -- Today!

Watch history being made as America inaugurates its new President Barack Obama!

In addition to traditional television coverage, the internet will play a big part in the coverage, with Obama's own inaugural website taking part, as well as many other venues. It will be a convergence of technology that will be matched in brilliance only by the enthusiasm and patriotism of the millions of people who are gathered in Washington D.C. for the event.

Congratulations to our new President!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Beyonce Singing "America the Beautiful" on HBO Concert

Jane said such nice things about Beyonce's version of "America the Beautiful" during HBO's We Are One concert that I just had to post it for easy access!

A lovely rendition and a treat for all Americans.

We Are One-HBO Inaugural Celebration at Lincoln Memorial

HBO gave a wonderful gift to the nation on January 18th with one of the first big celebratory concerts for the inauguration of Barack Obama. Under a slate grey sky, with Lincoln gazing on and the frozen waters of the Potomac River as a backdrop, some of the biggest film and music celebrities in the world gave tribute to America and a new President.

As Obama and his family watched and occasionally did a little enthusiastic seat dancing (probably to keep warm, it looked like it was about 22 degrees in DC yesterday) rockers such as Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and U2 kept the crowd of thousands enthralled. They also had the Naval choir, the Marine band and wonderful actors including Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks and Forest Whitaker reading stirring words from America's founding fathers. And if film and music celebrities were not your thing, they even had Tiger Woods on stage, relating a powerful memory about his father's devotion to the military.
Tribute must be given to HBO, which offered the special multiple times yesterday to all cable homes, whether they subscribed to HBO or not. If you don't have cable, you can still watch the entire patriotic special on the HBO website, it is streaming continuously.

Favorite moments for me included a very out of character, non-country
performance from Garth Brooks, who had the enormous crowd dancing and singing along to the old soul stomper, "Shout". When the camera cut to the President-Elect he was bopping in time to the music and singing along himself...I think he rather liked Mr. Brook's rendition!

Beyonce' brought the house down towards the end with a stunning version of "America the Beautiful". Her voice has improved so much over the past few years and it has never sounded better than it did yesterday, floating over the huge crowd clustered around the reflecting pool, with the Washington monument in the distance.

Bono and U2 played "In the Name of Love", their tribute to Martin Luther King, and joked about the incongruity of "four Irish lads" being present at such an historic American event. They also sang "City of Blinding Lights" and mentioned that Obama had adopted that song for his campaign, proving that either he or his handlers have impeccable taste.

Just before the end, the crowd went completely silent, as an animal expert brought a huge live American Bald Eagle on the stage. The magnificent bird flapped his wings and stared fiercely at the new President. I was crying like a baby at this point, animal lover that I am.

The two hour program wrapped up with about a billion pounds of stars on the stage, singing a joyful, spirited version of "This Land is Your Land". It was absolutely glorious. Go watch the whole show on the HBO website, or take a look at some highlights on this video below. No matter what your political persuasion, or where you are in the'll feel pretty good about the USA after this program.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dexter and Deb Got Married!!!

We are not usually given to gossip on the Nose. Passionate commentary and salamanders are much more our cup of tea. However this story is so delicious, I just had to give it a quick mention. Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter who play brother and sister on one of our favorite shows, "Dexter", have actually tied the knot in real life. Yes, the affection we saw between siblings within the program actually had some significant sizzle in real life. Mr. and Mrs. Hall were married in Big Sur, California on New Year's Eve.

Now THAT's going to make the next season of Dexter really interesting!

The Giant Salamander Update! The Last One, I Promise!

I have to confess -- I fell asleep during the Dangerous Encounters show, but not because it wasn't great. Dr. Brady Barr was wrestling with a large -- but not giant -- salamander from the Florida Everglades, and I conked out. (Explanation: I had been at a four-hour dinner function with several courses and much amazing wine...missed the first airing but made it home for the encore, plus I'm one of those ladies who tends to fall asleep in front of the TV -- and I know I'm not the only one! I woke up about fifteen minutes before the end but instantly fell asleep again. Pathetic, I realize.) The photo is of Dr. Barr, who is delightful, with an American hellbender salamander.

But fear not! The show repeats tomorrow morning -- Monday -- at 11am on Nat Geo! Clash of the Giant Salamanders will be back to haunt your dreams!

What I did see was excellent and exciting! Thank goodness for current television schedules which provide many viewing opportunities, and of course those with DVRs can simply record and breathe a sigh of relief. I guess I need to join the 21st century too, in that respect!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tonight -- Nat Geo Channel, 8pm!! The Giant is Here!

Yes, I can't get enough of giant salamanders! Here's one last photo before tonight's special! National Geographic Channel, 8pm (with an encore later in the evening)!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Don't Forget about the Giant Salamander -- Tomorrow on Nat Geo!

Saturday night, 8pm, Dangerous Encounters, National Geographic Channel!

Zounds! How Can "30 Rock" Be Getting Even Funnier??


Last week's episode guest-starring the droll Peter Dinklage was wonderful, and we loved the introduction of Salma Hayek as Jack's mother's straight-talking Puerto Rican practical nurse. Salma as Elisa turned up in last night's hilarious episode Flu Shot, and the passionate, dramatic and often absurd circumstances of the budding romance between she and Jack were adorable.

One of my major favorite moments was when Jack (Alec Baldwin) offered one of the coveted flu shots to Jack McBrayer's Kenneth the page, who bravely refused, explaining "It would be an honor to die at my post and be given the traditional burial of a Parcell man – wrapped in the Confederate flag, fried and fed to dogs." Made me laugh out loud, as did so much of this episode. Could Tina Fey be any more delightfully unique? Her little flu shot dance for the creepy company doc was unforgettable.

Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, and the entire 30 Rock cast and crew are on an insane roll, and this is a great time to recommend the show to anyone you know who hasn't caught onto it yet. There is something for everybody in the show, from broad slapstick to witty dialogue, all performed by an ensemble company that's obviously thriving under the increased attention the show is getting these days.

What a show! Spread the word! 30 Rock on NBC is the best comedy on television -- pass it on!

(I hope you've noticed the Hulu widget on our sidebar here with 30 Rock clips! Good place to go for a quick fix!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

When Gallbladders Attack: Hearty Get Well Wishes to "24" Prez Cherry Jones!

The Flaming Nose has just learned that actress Cherry Jones -- President Allyson Taylor on the new season of Fox's 24 -- recently underwent gallbladder surgery. We offer our heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery.

We empathize with Ms. Jones, as one of our correspondents will be undergoing a similar procedure in the near future, and we have friends of The Flaming Nose who have also been through the experience. We wish her well!

Cherry Jones is one of the chief pleasures of the just-started new season of 24! Send her good thoughts as you watch her dynamic portrayal of the U.S. President!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Here We Go Again...American Idol Addicts Unite

The two hour premier of American Idol's season #8 did not disappoint. It did not amaze or thrill either, but that's OK. We're living in perilous times, and tonight the old familiar tease of freak show mixed with real talent felt just about right.

Let's begin with the judges, as that's the only stark change going into this new season. After 7 years with the same cast, AI introduced a fourth judge by adding Kara Dioguari, a successful song writer who almost no one on the planet has ever heard of. This is really risky business. I've mentioned in past AI posts that the judges in this series are characters, and each one plays a role. Paula is the sweet comic relief, Simon is the terrifying voice of reason and Randy is "everyman"; the guy sitting at home who is in stitches when they're bad and enthralled when the hapless contestants hit one out of the park. After tonight's episode, I have no idea if Kara will carve a niche for herself. She had one moment where it seemed like she might bring a layer of snarky dark laughs to the show when she questioned whether the tattoo "Sexual Chocolate" was spelled right on a contestant's back. But if her destiny is to be AI's "mean girl", I think it will throw this delicate dance of Hollywood dreams and dark reality off balance. Simon has plenty of mean, there's no room for more nasty. They've already got dumb, smart, funny, every-dude and scary. Kara should just sit there quietly and field text messages on her Blackberry. Perhaps that will turn on the Internet generation the producers surely hoped to attract by her addition.

The contestants tonight did not have the "wow" factor of past early episodes. There were some nice voices, some interesting voices. They brought the freak factor down several notches in this opener; no chicken suits or mentally disabled, although the low voiced black guy was on the fringe of bizarre. The tongue pierced lady who sang the Heart song and the thin eyed girl who sang "Dock on the Bay" were both really talented; I'll be watching for them in Hollywood. The blind guy at the end was good and very nice looking, but he didn't raise goosebumps with his vocal abilities. I'll be eager to see how he performs when he is playing the piano, which is probably his comfort zone.

One of the best bits of the night was the montage of contestants along with the entire Phoenix stadium of hopefuls singing "Dead or Alive". Very nice editing. The crowd actually sounded pretty good; better than most of the individual contestants.

And so it begins. In the words of the late great James Brown, "I Feel Good". I thought perhaps the new downsized, crappy economy might make AI seem too frivolous this season. But I guess we need dreams more than ever now. It's nice to have you back American Idol. Here's Scott the young blind guy singing a Billy Joel song. He's going to Hollywood!

Hang On...It's Coming...Only a Few More Hours...AMERICAN IDOL RETURNS TONIGHT!

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in your living room....the world awaits to see if Season 8 for American Idol will start jumping that great white shark, or be the mega-hit with a gazillion viewers like always.

This year some changes are in store and it will be super interesting to see if they click with the audience. They've added a new judge (Songwriter Kara Dioguardi...not exactly a household name, but neither was Simon Cowell ten years ago).

I've noticed quite a bit of buzz on the Internet already, so I imagine that tonight's episode will do great in the ratings, if only out of curiosity and a strong desire for ANYTHING new to watch on TV. Check it out, dawgs...tonight on your Fox affiliate at 8pm.

OMG -- Giant Salamanders on National Geo Channel!

Okay, this is an early heads up for all of us. This Saturday night, on the exciting Dangerous Encounters show, starring Dr. Brady Barr, he goes in search of giant salamanders! These aren't just big, these fellas are GIANT! I mean, look at that picture! Holy cow!! Amazing!!!

This looks like the best show on TV this week! It airs Saturday night at 8pm, and I highly suggest that you drop everything and plan to watch.

You can preview some video on the Dangerous Encounters website. Human-sized salamanders! (The only sad thing is that they evidently are considered a delicacy in some Asian cuisine circles -- that's really bad.)

Monday, January 12, 2009

"24" -- The Best Ensemble Cast on TV?

24 is back, all right, and we couldn't be more thrilled.

They may not be quite the suave, martini-sipping types that you find on Mad Men, but once again the cast of 24 is filled with some of the most talented actors and actresses out there on the small screen. Led by Kiefer Sutherland (who hasn't lost a bit of his Jack Bauer mojo), 24 features some actors who are familiar faces, some who aren't, and it's this combination that makes the show so compellingly watchable. Every actor is the absolutely best choice for the role and we're delighted to see the charismatic Carlos Bernard back as Bauer's former colleague Tony Almeida, who's now pursuing a vengeful path and will doubtless give Jack a run for the money.

We love accomplished actress Cherry Jones as President Allison Taylor, and the brilliant Canadian actor Colm Feore as her husband, along with Bob Gunton as the White House Chief of Staff. These three actors alone would be reason enough to tune in, but we've also got returning 24 favorites Mary Ellen Rajskub as the long-suffering and super-smart Chloe and James Morrison as Bill Buchanan, both of whom are a welcome sight and always a treat to watch. We like the new tough (but lovely) FBI agent played by Annie Werschling, and her agency boss (Jeffrey Nordling), but most of all we love Janeane Garofalo as Janis Gold, a kinda Chloe-esque FBI wonkette.

Boy, nobody does smart women like 24 does! Garofalo has never failed to be as accomplished in her dramatic roles -- Minus Man, The Laramie Project, Steal This Movie -- as she is in her life as a savagely funny, insightful and informed comedienne, not to mention that she's a force to be reckoned with in her role as a host and guest on the Air America radio network. (If you've ever seen her on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, you know what I mean, too.) I have a feeling she will be one of the chief continuing delights on this season of 24, and I can't wait.

Later this season Jon Voight will be around, and of course we've also got the wonderful Tony Todd as the dastardly Gen. Juma who's cooking up an international crisis of his own. 24 should be quite a tasty stew this season -- Tony Almeida's revenge plot, Juma's genocidal rampage in Africa, the suspicious suicide of the President's son and the First Gentleman's investigation into it, a threat to the Air Traffic Control system -- and we'd say the first two hours, plus the earlier 24: Redemption movie, should lay to rest any fears that the show didn't have what it takes to come back in a big way.

For those of you who have missed episodes or just want to find out a little more, has an extensive availability of episodes and background videos and written information on their 24 website, including excellent and detailed episode synopses.

We can't wait for tonight's next two hours! Highly Recommended Viewing!

Congratulations to the Golden Globe Winners!

Many -- but not all -- Flaming Nose favorites took home awards at last night's Golden Globe ceremony, a sometimes rowdy, sometimes heartfelt affair that has always had the reputation of being a much more fun event than the Oscars. The table arrangement at least fosters the notion that Hollywood is one big nutty if overprivileged family and the informality certainly makes for a more entertaining show.

Television-wise, our favorite AMC's Mad Men took the award for Best Television Series - Drama, probably no surprise with that win, though of course you probably know that creator Matthew Weiner still hasn't yet signed on for another season of the series. This win might loosen the network's purse strings a little more for him, at least.

HBO's TrueBlood got a nice boost from the Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Drama win of star Anna Paquin, in somewhat of an upset victory but a well-deserved one. Our two favorites Michael C. Hall of Showtime's Dexter and Jon Hamm of Mad Men (last year's winner) both missed out on the Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama when that award went to HBO's In Treatment's Gabriel Byrne, though we did like his performance a lot in that melancholy series.

The unstoppable comedic force that is NBC's 30 Rock took the Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy award, and 30 Rock stars Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin both went home with their respective Best Actress and Best Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy GGs, popular wins that will get no argument from us. We love them both.

FN favorite mini HBO's John Adams won, not surprisingly, for Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, and John Adams co-stars Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney both won for Best Actor and Best Actress, also, repeating their Emmy successes. Their co-star Tom Wilkinson won as Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television -- surely one of the most all-encompassing categories ever -- for his turn as Benjamin Franklin. (I still think that Stephen Dillane as Jefferson gave the more subtle and amazing performance, but he wasn't even nominated here and lost the Emmy to Wilkinson, too.)

Steven Spielberg gave a nice speech after winning the Cecil B. DeMille Award, and the clip montage was impressive and reminded us how much entertainment -- as well as gravitas -- he has brought to the big and small screen. I was personally thrilled to see Mickey Rourke win for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama for his amazing work in director Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler, and how often do you get to see a director flip off his star or hear a man offer thanks to his pet dogs, alive and deceased, whom he credited with helping him make it through when he was in a down period of his life? I thought Rourke's tribute to his beloved pooches was heartfelt and very moving, and a very human moment.

We also liked the always cheeky Ricky Gervais chiding the audience and then congratulating Kate Winslet on her win for The Reader, reminding her that during her guest shot on his hilarious series Extras he had touted the advisability of appearing in a Holocaust-themed movie, award-wise. (If you haven't seen this episode, watch it. It's insanely great.)

Overall a decent award show, some good winners, and we'll see how the coming Academy Awards reflect these Golden Globes choices. For the complete list of the winners, nominees, check out the official Hollywood Foreign Press Association website here.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Golden Globes are Back tonight on NBC!

We will have to get the TiVo and DVR machines warmed up for tonight. In addition to the season premier of "24" that Lisa has pointed out in the previous post, we will also have the return of the Golden Globes award ceremony on NBC, starting at 8pm. Starting at 7pm, there will be a Red Carpet Walk pre-show. Though usually breathless and generally silly, the carpet walk feels very spontaneous and is sometimes more entertaining than the award ceremony itself!

The Globes are worth watching for a variety of reasons this year. As always, it's the first major award program of the season, and it sets the tone and often acts as a harbinger for predicting other winners at the Academy Awards and Emmy's later on. Second, this marks the return of the real Golden Globes ceremony, since last year's was a big bust due to the writer's strike.

Finally, and this is all important for me, my beloved entertainment industry idol Steven Spielberg will be receiving the Cecil B. Demille award this evening, and I would like to hear what he has to say when he accepts it. I just watched a repeat of "Jaws" this weekend for about the 237th time, and it still feels as fresh as the first time I saw it, many many moons ago. This is the only fish on the planet that never goes bad.

There are many Flaming Nose favorites nominated for Globes tonight, so be sure to tune in to catch all the excitement!

"24" Season Seven Premieres Tonight on Fox!

We loved the preview movie Redemption from this November, and now it's time for the new season to begin! If the movie was any indication, this season should restore 24's stellar reputation as one of the most exciting hours on television ever, easily rivaling anything that the movies are throwing at us. There are certainly hours that are more subtle or cerebral, perhaps, but nothing can match the visceral enjoyment and suspense that a good hour of 24 can supply.

Much of the action this season takes place in Washington D.C., and it's probably safe to say the nation's capitol has captured the attention of America -- and the world -- more so the past few months than in a long time, and in a good way. Should work well for 24's relevance.

24 premieres on Fox tonight at 8pm for two hours, and continues tomorrow Monday for another two hours at 8pm also. The show lands in its regular Monday 9pm slot -- after House -- next week.

All we can say is "Go, Jack, Go!"!

Is There Life Beyond 18 - 49?

Naturally this is a big "Duh!", but the Los Angeles Times has an article this morning about how television networks are beginning to understand that it's not only the young viewer demographic that is worthy of courting. "Television is starting to look beyond the 18- to 49-year-old demographic", by Scott Collins, is especially worth a read if you're 1.) outside the young demo 2.) and felt left out in some way about it. It's also good to read if you just want to see how desperate programmers are to create hits, for anybody, these days.

Personally, I would consider it a compliment NOT to be targeted by advertisers. They've gone for the younger demo hoping to build brand loyalty to sell more junk to them in the future. It's not because they're such savvy viewers or brilliant citizens -- they can be persuaded, that's really the lure. I'd rather NOT be considered persuadable, wouldn't you?

But hey, if you've felt left out lately, there's hope. We can all now aspire to be the chumps for shameless marketeers. Hurrah!

Look, I just want to watch my 30 Rock and be left alone, okay?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The SVU Review

Most of us are familiar with the critically acclaimed crime series Law and Order. I personally am a huge fan of this show. My favorite spin off is Law and Order SVU. Starring Christopher Melloni and Mariska Hargitay, it takes place in New York City following the stories of the fictional Special Victims Unit. Melloni and Hargitay play long time partners detectives Stabler and Benson. This show also features Ice T(detective Tutoala), Richard Belzer(detective Munch), and Micheala Mcmanus(ADA Kim Greylek). My eyes are glued to the TV set every Tuesday as I watch the struggles and horrors these detectives face day to day. The show keeps you on the edge your seat from start to finish of every episode. Each episode the writers create horrifying criminals and gruesome crimes. The show's cast has been nominated for several Emmy's. If you have nothing to do on Tuesday nights, I strongly recommend you watch this show. It airs Tuesdays on NBC 10/9 central. The next episode airs on January 6th.