Sunday, January 17, 2010

Congrats to Golden Globe Winners!

The Flaming Nose was thrilled to see several of our favorite television series and actors receive awards during tonight's Golden Globe ceremonies! Nobody can argue with their choice of AMC's sublime Mad Men as Best Television Series - Drama, nor Fox's newcomer Glee as Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy. We share the love. Tough categories, and not a dog in the bunch. Against Big Love, House, Dexter and True Blood, Mad Men's winning position is quite an accomplishment. (Where was Breaking Bad? It's almost better than any of these, and its absence is unfortunate.)

Though our favorites Anna Paquin in True Blood and January Jones in Mad Men didn't manage to prevail, the talented Julianna Margulies took home the award for her starring dramatic role in The Good Wife. Our longtime support of Michael C. Hall as Dexter makes his win for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama a very happy one, even though I would argue that this wasn't the strongest Dexter season so far. (I think Season 2 rules the Dexter universe.) John Lithgow also took home a Best Supporting Award for his impressive work as Hall's nemesis this season. Alec Baldwin once again takes the prize for his leading role in 30 Rock, though as with the Emmy Awards, Toni Collette takes the comedy leading actress award. (Not sure about this one. I would give it to Edie Falco for her role as Nurse Jackie, but I really don't think that's a comedy, however.)

Very pleased to see Kevin Bacon take home a prize for his tightly-wound, intelligent and dignified performance in HBO's TV Movie Taking Chance. Also Drew Barrymore for her leading role in Grey Gardens, which also won for Best Miniseries. Chloe Sevigny in Big Love won for Best Supporting Actress, but I think I'd have gone for Jane Adams' unique work in HBO's Hung. Many good folks in contention for all these, and of course none of it means a thing, but congrats to everyone!

Tonight: The Return of "24" and Mark Valley in "Human Target"

If you can tear yourself away from our favorite dyspeptic Brit comedian Ricky Gervais and his Golden Globes hosting gig, we highly recommend tuning into Fox tonight for an outstanding action fix.

First off, you can relive last season's finale of 24 at 7pm, and then the real fun begins at 8pm. Attractive and appealing actor Mark Valley -- Olivia's late boyfriend in Fringe, three years on Boston Legal, and the lead in Keen Eddie, Fox's spiffy and adorable police drama from a few seasons ago, and a real-life military veteran -- stars in DC Comic-based hour Human Target. He plays Christopher Chance, a security expert/bodyguard who puts his life on the line for his clients, and he's ably assisted by a great supporting cast led by Chi McBride -- House, Boston Public -- and the always superb Jackie Earle Haley -- Breaking Away, Little Children, Watchmen.

The Human Target pilot re-airs Tuesday at 9pm, then the show settles into its regular slot on Wednesdays after American Idol. We think this sounds like a winner, based on nothing but Flaming Nose intuition, but with Mark Valley -- who deserves a super breakout hit on his own -- in the lead we're behind it all the way.
At 9pm it's the season opener of 24, and we're in the eighth year of Jack Bauer's excellent adventures, played with teeth-gnawing intensity by Kiefer Sutherland. This time around Jack's in New York, swept up in international intrigue revolving around President Taylor (the returning Cherry Jones) and a re-jiggered CTU under new management. Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) is still around, but we'll be seeing terrific new 24 faces like Anil Kapoor (Slumdog Millionaire), Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica), Mykelti Williamson (Forrest Gump), Freddie Prinze Jr. and several more great additions.

For those of you who've sort of drifted away from 24 -- and I'm one of them -- the addition of the Big Apple as background should give a shot of moxie to Bauer's predicaments, and let's trust that this will be a season of 24 worth waiting for.

So, it's Fox tonight if you're looking for something a little more harrowing than the histrionics on the Golden Globes Red Carpet -- not that there's anything wrong with that!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Golden Globes on Sunday!

(We've deleted the widget because even though the Globes are long gone it keep loading up and slowing down the page.)

We offer up this widget to keep us informed of the upcoming festivities on Sunday evening! We'll be posting our choices before the show, of course.

Looking most forward to Ricky Gervais as the host, a choice which could potentially make the show the most savage and uncomfortable awards show ever, or else the most amusing, or more likely a combination of the above qualities. He is brilliant, and it will be almost unbearable to watch what will unfold under his Golden Globes reign.

But anyway, here's the widget, with all the latest info! At the very least you get a Beverly Hilton Hotel webcam so you can check out the L.A. weather situation!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

AI Season 9: Are Your Pants on the Ground?

The first two nights of American Idol's 9th season have come and gone and we have been subjected to the good, the bad and the ugly. Amidst the disturbing potential repercussions of Simon Cowell's announcement that this would be his last season, we steeled ourselves for the carnival atmosphere of AI auditions in Boston and Atlanta. So far Cirque d'Idol was has been strangely subdued. Nobody dressed as poultry, there were no low talkers or mentally challenged. The cringe factor was mostly limited to some really bad tank tops and acne. Even this season's kick off oddball, a 62 year old eccentric who sang a catchy original tune called "Pants on the Ground", was more adorable and festive than freak show.

Sadly, Ellen Degeneres will not join the judge panel for several more weeks. Instead we have rotating celebrity judges. Tuesday night was Posh of the Spice Girls (stiff, skeletal and appalling) and Wednesday was the immensely talented Mary J. Blige, who was overcome by emotion when a contestant forgot the words to his song.

As always there were a few truly remarkable singers and personalities amidst the nut cases.

Boston on Tuesday:

  • Maddie: Great 16 year old who sang Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.
  • Rocco: the Italian from Providence was wonderfully different. Will bring much needed energy to the show!
  • Adam: The nerd with dark glasses who sang The House of the Rising Sun. The more Kara hated him, the more I thought he was interesting and special.
  • Katie: Another 16 year old with a lot of emotion. Sang "At Last".
  • Justin: Supercute cancer survivor boy is AWESOME. Great voice and not hard to look at.
  • Bosa Nora: This Nigerian guy has a nice voice, adorable parents and zero stage
  • Last Female Contestant: They saved the best for last with a girl from Long Island who belted "Blue Skies" and brought the house down.

Atlanta on Wednesday:

  • Jermain: African American Church dude sang a touching and original version of "What if God Was One of Us"
  • Vanessa: Blond hillbilly girl from Tennessee sounds like Dolly Parton and seems innocent and genuine. She's never been on a plane!
  • Holly the Guitar Girl: Gimmicky but she can sing.
  • Keia: Gorgeous African American girl with great stage presence sang the song from Titanic.
  • Carmen and her BFF: OMG the drama! One got the golden ticket to Hollywood, the other is left behind!
  • ATL the Police Officer: Great white soul but I HATE melisma (that musical effect where 17 notes are stuffed into a phrase that only needs one or two).

Here's Larry the 62 year old phenom singing his soon to be a hit song, "Pants On The Ground"!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Exiting and Uplifting: Watch "Brace for Impact" on TLC

Sorry for the late notice on this, but if you like riveting true life documentaries with a happy ending, then "Brace for Impact" airing tonight on TLC is definitely worth watching. It tells the harrowing story of the US Air flight that lost both engines over NYC last January after hitting a flock of geese. By now most people on the planet Earth know the story of hero pilot (Captain Sullenberger "Sully") who with expert aviation skills and focus, glided the crippled jet to a perfect landing on the Hudson River.

Very little new information in this mostly feel good docu-drama, but the interviews with Sully and some of the passengers on the flight are still compelling. I wish they would have made it a bit longer to focus more on the additional heroism of the first responder ferry boat people, and NYC emergency personnel who raced to pull the passengers out of the freezing cold river before the aircraft sank.

I also think the story of how Sully and his family have fared in this past year is very interesting. Their lives have been catapulted from ordinary family into the highest realms of fame. But just like his landing in the river, Captain Sullenberger has handled his sudden celebrity with grace and calm focus. While so many actors, athletes and politicians turn out to have feet of clay, this man is the real deal.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Art Clokey, Creator of "Gumby" has died

The Flaming Nose mourns the passing of animator genius Art Clokey who passed away yesterday on January 8th. Creator of Gumby, the claymation series about a little green boy with a slanted head, and Pokey, his trusty orange horse and best friend.

It is a wonder that Mr. Clokey was able to create such a sweet and surreal television series, considering his horrific, almost Dickensian childhood. He lost his father at a young age and was subsequently abandoned by his mother to an orphanage. At the age of 12 he was adopted by Joseph Clokey, a music composer who taught at Pomona College and who encouraged Art's artistic inclinations.

I grew up watching and loving Gumby and even once appeared in a KTTV-TV Christmas promo with a giant Gumby (wearing a matching green dress). I still have that Gumby and was going to post a picture of it here, but unfortunately my dumb iPhone has not yet delivered it to my email box.

Take a look at the video above for some classic, vintage Gumby from 1956. Rest in peace, Art Clokey. You enchanted many generations of fans.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

American Idol Returns Next Week: Are You Ready??

My DVR is locked and loaded, my remote control is set to stun. Starting next Tuesday (January 12th) at 8pm on Fox, the quiet mid-week tranquility of my living room will be replaced by the pulsating madness we all know and love-hate as AMERICAN IDOL. By the end of last season I was swearing I would never watch again, in a major snit over too many judges and old school, non relevant music. season 9 approaches..I'm more excited than ever. Why is that? Let us count the ways:

--Ellen Degeneres, surely one of the most likable celebrities on the planet, will be replacing ditsy Paula Abdul as a permanent judge. Unfortunately, she won't be coming on board until after the audition period.

--Rotating guest judges will be filling the forth seat during the auditions and we are excited to say that one of them will be Neil Patrick Harris. I'm mentioning this in the hopes that my Flaming Nose co-founder Lisa might find a tiny spot in her schedule to actually watch AI for once? :)

--American Idol is the only TV program left in the U.S.A. that can be considered a "broadcast" show, instead of a fragmented tidbit targeted to 12 people in East Texas who happen to like bone fishing. It attracts millions of viewers of every demographic and people actually watch it in groups around the same set instead of hunched over a laptop alone. Although the digital component is huge too, including YouTube posts and iTune downloads galore. The only thing not prescient about Paddy Chayevsky's decades old movie "Network" was Faye Dunaway screaming "All I want out of life is a 20 rating and a 30 share". Nothing does that well in the ratings anymore. Except for American Idol.

--This year I have a ton of friends on Facebook that will be poised and ready to comment after each Idol airing. And I work for wonderful BlogHer, where my boss will be blogging about AI too!

Beginning next week the carnival side show begins in Boston, as hapless immigrants in feathered capes and rotund wannabes wearing chicken suits warble their way towards that golden ticket to Hollywood. Mixed in with the hopeless will be the occasional burst of raw talent that brings the goose-bump reaction for this fan. And that's why I keep watching year after year. That...and the chance to spend more quality time with my beloved judge Simon. With comments that combine acid and awe, he is always the voice of reason.

Get ready everybody. The TV doldrums are almost over!

Veteran TV Producer David Gerber has Died

The Flaming Nose is sorry to hear of the death of talented and prolific television producer and executive David Gerber. Read the obituary from The Hollywood Reporter here:

TV producer, exec David Gerber dies

In addition to his studio duties, he was the brains behind such popular series as Police Woman (below) starring the alluring Angie Dickinson as the kick-butt lady cop Pepper Anderson, and the still fondly remembered (by Babyboomers at least) sitcoms The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and Nanny and the Professor (check out great site TV Intros for more of these wonderful show opens!). He was also the exec producer of important TV movies and miniseries such as 1984's George Washington (above left), starring Barry Bostwick as the first President and Patty Duke as his wife Martha and more recently 2006's Flight 93. Also some fun ones, like Elvis and the Beauty Queen (below) from 1981, starring Don Johnson as The King and Stephanie Zimbalist as Linda Thompson, and 1980's Civil War-set romance Beulah Land miniseries (right) with Lesley Ann Warren and Michael Sarrazin, and so many others.

David Gerber was one of the stalwarts of the television world we all grew up loving, and his contributions will continue to be appreciated by all of us.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Episode is Coming!

Heads up everybody, the Fox network is turning yellow next week in honor of the longest running TV comedy of all time. Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart and Maggie will be celebrating a 20th birthday on Sunday, January 10th at 8pm, with a special anniversary episode on Fox television. The 450th episode of the world's most lovable and dysfunctional family is called "Once Upon a Time in Springfield" and it promises to unleash your inner Simpson, no matter which character is your cup of tea. Personally, I'm quite fond of Groundskeeper Willie the Scotsman and I loved the U2 guest cameo from about a million seasons ago.

My son quite literally grew up with this venerable series. He claims that it "jumped the shark" about 8 years ago, but that still leaves a dozen year's worth of wonder to celebrate this coming Sunday. This special is for anyone who's ever coveted Homer's pink donut, or pondered the relationship between Mr. Burns and his assistant, or wondered why Lisa plays the saxophone or....well the list goes on and on and on. Don't have a cow or anything, but Reagan was the President when The Simpsons debuted as a segment on fledgling Fox network's "Tracy Ullman Show" in 1987. The 80's and The Gipper are long gone, but Matt Groening, James L. Brooks and crew still keep churning out original episodes week after week.

For that reason alone, it will be worth checking out the 450th episode on Sunday, as well as an incredible anniversary special on 1-14-2010 called THE SIMPSONS 20TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL-IN 3-D-ON ICE! Don't miss it for a reminder of why this series has won a grand total of 24 Emmy awards over the years.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" Back on Logo!

After several dry years it's a pleasure to see the great series Buffy the Vampire Slayer return to TV in a regular slot. Logo has finally brought back the iconic series, starting this past January 1st with a "New Year's Slayer" marathon, and continuing with regularly scheduled airings various times on the weekends and during the week, including weeknights at 6pm, I think. (It's a little difficult to get a grip on Logo's Buffy scheduling, as they don't have a Buffy homepage up yet and the air times are not yet particularly intuitive or consistent.)

Despite Logo's sketchy information, it's always a good time to revisit and enjoy Buffy's many charms. As the network's on-air promos remind us, before Twilight, before TrueBlood, there was Buffy, the original teenage vampire killer, created by the talented Joss Whedon. BtVS originated and perfected its own totally unique style, a breezy and breathtakingly exciting mixture of sass and savagery that was at once hilarious and horrifying, often brutal, sometimes devastatingly honest and never uninteresting. What a marvelous series!

Even if you aren't into the romantic elements of the storyline between Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and her vampire boyfriend Angel (David Boreanz) -- and I wasn't -- there are countless things to love about BtVS, including the talented ensemble cast: How I Met Your Mother's Alyson Hannigan as Buffy's BFF, Anthony Head as Giles, Seth Green as Oz the werewolf, and especially the droll Nicholas Brendon (right) as Xander. Brendon consistently provided deft comic touches in his role as the least supernaturally-gifted member of Buffy's circle of friends; he's a delight to watch and my favorite character on the show. (My one Alyson Hannigan sighting in real life: many years ago while on a business trip in L.A., my co-worker Phil and I were getting a chili dog at Carney's railroad car restaurant on Sunset Blvd. and so was Alyson. Great actress, delicious hot dog!)

If you need to refresh your Buffy neurons, this would be an excellent time to visit some of the series-related websites, several of which don't appear to be regularly updated but still contain wonderful archival material. BuffyWorld is a site jam-packed with information and lots of video material; BuffyGuide is a complete episode guide to the series; Wikipedia's Buffy page will give you a comprehensive overview for quick reference; Much Ado About BTVS is a loving fansite; the Buffyverse Wiki is the online encyclopedia for all things Buffy; if you want to read Buffy check out the scripts here; Slayer's Empire is a fanlisting; All Things Philosphical on Buffy the Vampire Slayer is exactly that, and fascinating; is another good resource for Buffy info and discussion.

It's got to be a good omen when 2010 starts out with Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- now if somebody would wise up and schedule Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, I'd think everything was just about perfect! (And yes, know these are available on DVD, but I believe in the communal powers of shared TV viewing.)

Update: Buffy will also be airing on MTV, starting Sunday, Jan. 10th with a marathon, with regular airings M - F at 11am. Good news! The Buff is really Back!