Friday, April 30, 2010

"The Kennedys" are Part of History

Interesting article from Locate TV about the recently announced The Kennedys miniseries which will appear on The History Channel.




History Channel’s Kennedy miniseries lands big fish actors despite being branded “vindictive” and “malicious”

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"TrueBlood" Poster #5 and New Promo from HBO!

We know you'd want to see HBO's latest TrueBlood teaser poster, the fifth in a series of twelve debuting weekly in anticipation of the series' June 13th return to the network. This newest edition references Anna Paquin/Sookie's vampire squeeze Bill Compton's disappearance/kidnapping in the last episode. We'll show the entire poster and then a detail of the bottle label so you can read it better. Bill Compton is of course played by Stephen Moyer. Enjoy the posters and the related new promo also released by HBO!





Saturday, April 24, 2010

Watch "America:The Story of Us" on History

Ten percent of us are unemployed and Wall St. still wants us to bend over and pretend to enjoy what they've done to us...the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue endlessly...left wing and right wing extremists fight like school yard bullies while the American people suffer. What the heck happened to this country? Europeans get a month of vacation every year, while we are all chained to our laptops 24-7 and will probably die at our desks since nobody can retire with 401K accounts shrunk to the size of postage stamps. Which we also can no longer afford, what are they like a dollar apiece now?

Almost 50 years ago JFK vowed to put an American on the moon, and his dream came true. Now hundreds of NASA workers face layoffs as the Shuttle program shuts down and the fate of the space program, my personal greatest source of American pride, seems murky. The land of the brave and home of the free will have to hitch a ride to the International Space Station with the Russians, we won't even have our own space ships anymore.

Into the midst of this national mid-life crises, comes "America: The Story of Us", premiering Sunday April 25th at 9pm on the History channel. It's a 12 part series covering the story of how America invented itself, and will offer a lovely break from the Sturm and Drang of the past few years. Sunday night's premier episode (The Rebels) may offer inspiration from America's revolutionary days, when the first Americans fought for their freedom under dire circumstances that would make us all look like a bunch of over grown crybabies today.

Check out the promo below, and you'll see something to look forward to. Even though we've hit hard times as a nation, we still have the best cable TV programming in the whole wide world. Thank you History Channel!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Starz Network's "Party Down" Back for Season Two Tonight!


The very amusing, amazingly dry, and frequently profane half-hour comedy Party Down returns for its Season 2 opening episode tonight at 10pm on Starz. If you haven't caught up with this one -- and that's certainly possible, I'm a relative latecomer to its delights, too -- you ought to give it a try. A cadre of talented performers really brings this one to life, so much so that some of the players are getting poached by other series, namely Jane Lynch, who's very much a part of the super-success of Glee these days and so isn't back with Party Down this time around. (Read this recent article from The Hollywood Reporter on the show's success for more info about this situation.)

Party Down's premise is simple -- it's all about the folks who work for a Hollywood-based catering service, and their dissatisfaction with their day jobs versus their dream gigs in the entertainment industry. You've got underemployed actors and frustrated writers with plenty of attitude, but you'll end up (mostly) sympathizing with them. Not that it's important that you do, but I'm not sure I want to watch a show with nothing but snarky assholes -- or maybe you're okay with that -- and a few positive vibes are not an unwelcome note in the show. I like that Adam Scott (the depressed sexually unresponsive architect from HBO's Tell Me You Love Me) and the wonderful Lizzy Caplan (above left, TrueBlood, Cloverfield) are sort of an item; they're cute and sexy together.




Not-so-successful talkshow host and Will & Grace veteran Megan Mullaly steps in to fill the departing Lynch's shoes as the one grown-up on the staff this time around, and she should be good. The rest of the excellent cast -- Ken Marino as Ron, the ex-manager who wants his old job back, Ryan Hansen as Kyle the handsome model/actor, and Martin Starr as Roman the scifi writer who's as bitter as they come -- is something to relish, and their chemistry together is what makes this show so appealing.

You might have to watch a few shows before you get caught by the charm of Party Down, and you can seek out episodes online or on the Starz website. A lot of people are saying that Party Down is the best comedy you're probably not watching, and it's true. It's not slick like Entourage with its ribald tales of Hollywood angst -- Party Down's posse is struggling and on the wannabe side of the street -- but they've got it all down where the laughs are concerned.

Visit the Starz Party Down website for more information and other goodies that will add to your appreciation of the show.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cooking Up Something New with The Cooking Channel


I used to love The Food Network, way back when in the old days. Great hosts -- the smart and personable David Rosengarten with his Taste series, for instance -- and a sense of fun, particularly when they started running the original Iron Chef programs. Now, not so much. If you don't like Rachael Ray -- and I don't -- the whole network seems maybe a little too polished now. Meh. Plus I'm never actually sure anymore if I'm watching a food show on The Food Network, or Travel Channel, or somewhere else these days. Lots of mixed schedules these days, not that there's anything wrong with that...

Maybe even the TFN suits know it, because they're launching the new Cooking Channel at the end of May. Fashioned to be more low-key, more hip (god save us from hip, please!), Cooking Channel at least is doing something right -- bringing old episodes of Julia Child's The French Chef and the hilarious Graham "The Galloping Gourmet" Kerr onboard also. I realize us old geezer don't buy nearly enough of whatever their advertisers are trying to sell (or so they think), but so many of us got our first love of cooking from the previous generation of cooking shows and personalities. PBS was of course a great source of these, with Julia Child and so many others, and Graham Kerr was a wonder because he was on network daytime TV, five days a week. That's where I got hooked on him, and boy, cooking hasn't been the same since. I've always loved it, and I'm sure some of his antics showed the inherent fun of it to my young self.

Now, how about bringing back the delightful Justin Wilson (left) and his so-delicious-you-could-taste-them-through-your-TV Cajun recipes. (I can't remember the reason but I once spoke to him on the phone back when I worked at KTLA, and it was a thrill. He was wonderful! Go to the link to hear his welcome greeting and buy some products from his daughter's company). Or another favorite of mine, the crazy little show called Frying Pans West with historical chef Sam Arnold, then-proprietor of The Fort restaurant in Denver, Colorado, where he prepared pioneer and Native American-influenced dishes, along with dispensing lots of wonderful western lore. (The Fort is now run by Sam's daughter Holly -- Sam passed away in 2006 -- and you should go there to eat!).

I'm all for embracing the rich pageant of cooking show history on the new Cooking Channel. Why not even do what Game Show Network did, with their running of ancient What's My Line? shows in the wee hours of the morning. Having actual content on in the middle of the night is much better than defaulting to direct response infomercials which turn off potential audience members and deprive you of excellent promo opportunities. More real programming, less of the dreaded "Paid Programming" which turns up everywhere in our program guides these days. It's a disgrace, really.

Anyway, if you're into the whole notion of TV chefs, I recommend you pick up a copy of author Kathleen Collins' 2009 book Watching What We Eat: The Evolution of Television Cooking Shows. I just read an online excerpt from her Graham Kerr section, and she gets him completely, linking his appeal and success to his "goofy and handsome" Dick Van Dyke/Gary Cooper quality. Spot on analysis, that! Kathleen has a fascinating book blog here and if you are into television and cooking, she should be your new BFF!

For further information, you might also like to read the NY Times article from earlier this week by Allen Salkin on the Cooking Channel announcement, and also this piece from Salon by Thomas Rogers, also about the new channel and what might be in store. Everybody is making much of the appearance of Canadian content on the new network, and that's nice. Some Canadian TV still retains a bit of unique Canuck charm, but the borderlines are fading fast, I think, though it's always a good thing to see something that at least sounds a bit different. What isn't different is the news that Mo Rocca will be hosting a series -- he's one of those professional funny hosts who turn up everywhere -- and that sounds like more of the same old. We'll see, right?

Ladies and gentlemen, start your ovens! The Cooking Channel is coming!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Latest HBO "TrueBlood" Teaser Poster! "Be True" -- All About Sam

You're no doubt following HBO's weekly publication of the newest-in-a-set-of-12 teaser posters for their fangtastic vampire series TrueBlood which returns June 13th. This one is called "Be True" and it's a salute to shapeshifter/bar proprietor Sam Merlotte and his many disguises. Enjoy!



Getting Back in Touch with My Inner "Gleek"

"Glee" returned to Fox this past Tuesday and it is stronger than ever. Thanks to a perfect mix of humor, pathos, wonderful characters and top notch, exquisitely choreographed song and dance numbers, Glee is worthy of its very loyal following.

Most of my personal gleefulness is still driven by the amazing Jane Lynch, for her "take no prisoners" performance as Sue Sylvester, terrifying and tyrannical coach of the Cheerios cheer-leading club. Ms. Sylvester does not have a politically correct bone in her towering stork-like body. She is Machiavellian, she is Patton in a track suit. I have a Facebook friend who is a retired United States Marine corp Major, and Sue S. is one of his favorite TV characters.

Playing beautifully against character, this week's season opener of Glee featured Sue in an amazing satirical impression of Madonna's iconic "Vogue" video. It's a must see, and you can watch it on the Fox website or Hulu.

All the other wonderful "Glee" characters are back this season too, plus they have cut screen time way back on Glee club coach Will Schuester's off the charts annoying (and now mercifully ex) wife. Broadway star Lea Michele continues to shine as the ultra-driven Rachel. She's unlucky in love, but boy can she belt a song into the balcony.

Going to try to post some promo videos here to give a taste of the new season. We'll see if they last more than 15 minutes before Fox takes them down.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Matt Smith as Newest "Doctor Who" Coming Saturday to BBC America!



Even if you're not already a fan of the long-running and much loved British science fiction series Doctor Who, we highly recommend taking a look at the newest season, premiering tomorrow night on BBC America and on Space in Canada. In a nutshell, Doctor Who has been more-or-less on the air since 1963, with the neat plot twist of having a succession of different actors playing the title character, a galaxy-traversing Time Lord from the Planet Gallifrey. Last year the very popular 10th Doctor, played magnificently by David Tennant, regenerated into the 11th Doctor, played by 26-year-old Matt Smith, the youngest actor to ever inhabit the role.



Expectations have been very high for the new Doctor, as well as there being some trepidation that anyone could successfully step into the sneakers of Tennant's stunning and moving Doctor. Since the new season started two weeks ago in Britain, I've been able to watch the first episode already, and am thrilled to report that all feedback is positive and the new Doctor Who is bloody brilliant! I can't think of another recent entertainment experience -- save the new Star Trek movie -- that contained so much concentrated excitement, heart and sense of wonder as this new Doctor Who incarnation.



(Though you don't really need an iota of previous knowledge to enjoy Doctor Who, it might be of interest to realize that the Doctor always picks up a companion from Earth to be his traveling buddy, and you'll love how Smith's Doctor Who finds his. Charming!)

One thing that's so terrific about Doctor Who is that it's always presented very strong, intelligent and vibrant female roles for a succession of actresses, and this newest Doctor Who is no exception. Even -- especially! -- the little girl who figures prominently in the early part of the episode is amazing, exquisitely played, and unlike anything you'll see on U.S. TV.



The Doctor Who craze in the U.S. really began several Doctors -- and decades -- ago with Tom Baker's delightful interpretation from 1974 - 1981, he of the long knitted scarf and slouch hat. (Younger folks might know him as the narrator on Little Britain.) For a quick look at all 11 Doctors over the years, take a look at the short video below. You'll see that the good Doctor has become generally younger as the years go by, and a good deal wackier than the first one out, as he reflects the different seasons of the production. What has never changed is the Doctor's intelligence, humanity, courage and willingness to help Earth out of a number of mindbending catastrophes.



Don't miss Matt Smith as the new Doctor Who! I can't think of anything that you won't enjoy, except if you happen to object to outrageous monsters, frightening, spectacular and potentially Earth-shattering plot predicaments, beautiful leggy girls in British Bobby costumes, clever dialogue, beautiful English settings, or the like.

The new season -- and face -- of Doctor Who debuts tomorrow night at 8pm on BBC America. We also highly recommend tuning in an hour before for Doctor Who: The Ultimate Guide, which will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about DW. (The BBC America DW website is here, but you may also want to check out the official UK version of the Doctor Who site, which is located here.)

I think you're going to love him.

Why?

Because he's the Doctor.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"Star Trek Live" Coming to Kennedy Space Center This June!


This is a bit of news to warm the hearts of all NASA-loving, Trek-crazed fans out there -- and include us in! CBS Consumer Products (and doesn't it just kind of get you that with all the corporate machinations over the years, Star Trek is now under the thumb of a company that didn't even originally broadcast the show?) and Mad Science Productions have announced a live interactive show which will debut at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida this June.

SciFi Wire has the complete press release here, so take a look. This is great news -- any Star Trek news is great news around here -- but especially so because it's connected with the real space program and NASA, and will take place at one of the most popular and most important tourist attractions in the nation, the Kennedy Space Center.

If you're interested in reading about the specifics of the presentation, read the Mad Science Productions description of the attraction here. They sound like a neat company, with plenty of experience putting on shows which combine excitement and a learning component. Star Trek Live! would seem to fit right in with their expertise.


There is nothing specific in the announcement, but we'll assume that this will be new movie Star Trek and not old-school Trek, but that's okay with us -- we love them both!

Congrats to NASA for reaching out into pop culture to excite visitors as they learn about the grand history behind space exploration, and then perhaps dare to dream into the future. Because without real-life scientists and astronauts, we're never going to be friends with the Vulcans, are we?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

All About NOLA: "Treme" Premieres on HBO Tonight



HBO's elaborate New Orleans-set drama (with lots of music) Treme (pronounced tre-may, meaning the Congo Square area of NOLA where African music flourished long ago) premieres tonight at 10pm, so somehow juggle your viewing between it and Breaking Bad on AMC, for a double dose of riveting television.

Treme's recent publicity blast took a sad turn with the sudden death on March 30th of writer/creator David Mills, who collapsed while on location with the show in New Orleans. It was a sad loss for the entertainment industry as a whole, but particularly so for Treme, which was a pet project into which Mills had poured his heart and soul.

Spotlighting the devastation of Hurricane Katrina as it came up against the indomitable spirit of the citizens of New Orleans, Treme focuses on the vibrant New Orleans jazz music scene and its rebirth after the destruction. A great cast is on board -- John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Steve Zahn, Khandi Alexander, Rob Brown and so many more -- and we know we're going to get the characteristic first-class HBO excellence.



Do visit the HBO Treme website for more information, but I have to be honest and say that it's extremely difficult to navigate and I can't even find a decent link to put here for the scheduling of the series. (Maybe it's just me...). But at least I do know it all begins tonight, at 10pm. You can bet your beignet on that.

Oprah Sucking the Life out of "Life" on Discovery?


I love this column from The Hollywood Reporter, from James Hibberd's "The Live Feed", reporting on the lukewarm response to Oprah Winfrey's narrative duties on Discovery's recent BBC import mega-nature documentary series Life. I couldn't watch more than a couple of minutes...unbearable performance and why on Earth would I want to hear Oprah Winfrey on a nature documentary? Big disconnect there.

In Britain, David Attenborough. Here, Oprah Winfrey. This smells like a decision that came out of a Marketing Department -- superficial and wrong-headed, with no understanding of who would want to watch a show like that. You'd think that maybe the network might not want to totally patronize their intended viewers. Talk down to your audience much, Discovery?

I'm sure the numbers were acceptable -- haven't seen specifics -- but for goodness sakes, if you're going to buy the set, get the BBC version from Amazon; evidently the Discovery Channel store only sells the Oprah version.

Big thanks and congrats to Hibberd for writing about this!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Newest "TrueBlood" Poster for Season 3!

Here's the latest in the series of collectible TrueBlood posters from HBO!

Monday, April 5, 2010

DOC: The Documentary Channel Comes to DirecTV

I've been favorably impressed by DOC: The Documentary Channel, which recently secured a spot in DirecTV's channel line-up. Also available on DISH and a few other cable systems -- but by no means as widely distributed as it should be after four years in business -- the network seems to have a terrific supply of documentaries available to broadcast.

Check if your system has it, and if you haven't yet tuned in, give it a try. If your system hasn't picked it up yet, write a letter or make a phone call and ask for it. This is a must-have channel.

In their own words: "The Documentary Channel: A new digital cable channel dedicated to airing, exclusively, the works of the independent documentary filmmaker."

Some pretty important words there, starting with "independent". We need more of that.

Interesting NYTimes article about Dramas on Cable TV Networks


The Flaming Nose is always interested in thoughtful articles about the state of television, and the NY Times has a good one this morning entitled "Weighty Dramas Flourish On Cable" written by Bill Carter.

We highly recommend a read of this, which talks a lot about the 10pm hour as the former network TV home of what I'd call "challenging" dramas, and the notion that what's airing on cable TV right now is today's equivalent of those. Good points about the difference between 9pm and 10pm shows, too.

The only thing that I'd comment, is that if what's coming out on cable networks now -- great drama like AMC's Breaking Bad and Mad Men, or FX's Rescue Me -- is equivalent to older critically-acclaimed 1op shows like St. Elsewhere, or NYPD Blue...well, yikes, because those shows were notorious flops in second-run situations. The article also talks about the difference in cost of the cable shows and the different economics -- having subscriber fees to offset costs -- but it's still an issue if these shows are of little financial use after the initial runs.

Cheap shows and an eternal afterlife -- that's the golden egg, but other than an exceptional 10pm network show like Law & Order (exceptional not in quality but in the simplistic nature of the structure), there's a lot of money being spent on shows that nobody wants to watch even twice.

But hey, read the article and find out what the NY Times has to say about it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"True Blood" Season 3 Posters Being Revealed!

We're excited as the next vamp in anticpation of the return of HBO's bloody delicious melodrama TrueBlood, coming this June. Things are starting to rev up out there in TB fanland, especially with the release of the first two in HBO's collection of 12 special posters for the show's new season. In case you haven't seen them:





We're presuming these need no explanation, but possibly the second one might not be instantly understandable to everybody, though its inspirational acronym seems to have wormed its way into casual colloquial speech, even on broadcast TV; I'm thinking 30Rock where at least it was actually funny. (It's a play on the expression "MILF" -- if you aren't hep to it, find out what it means here.)

You can download these in large size here, and be sure to visit the rest of the show's HBO site for plenty of backstage features and a plethora of other TrueBlood treats.