Monday, January 25, 2010

"Under the Dome' review and Miniseries-Dream Cast

I have been an avid Stephen King fan since around age 12, and have long resolved to read his complete works...which is no easy task, especially because he just keeps going!  Often criticized for how quickly he has books published, Stephen's most recent novel, the 1074-page "Under the Dome", has been in production since the mid '70s. Stephen's ultimate decision to come back to the novel (for a third attempt to finish it) came from constant pressure from his fans for him to write another 'epic novel'  such as "It" "The Stand" and "The Talisman".

Being both his longest book to date, as well as his best, "The Stand" seems to be the critics' favorite King-novel to compare 'Under the Dome' to, for more than one reason.  For one, the amount of characters.  Although 'The Stand' does have a plethora of main and supporting can't stand up to 'Under the Dome' which features about a dozen main characters, about two-dozen supporting characters and even more minor characters.

"Under the Dome" is a thrill ride from it's start, with the body count rising to double digits by the end of the first chapter. King keeps a thrilling pace throughout the novel, which is not without the patches of internal thought and something I don't remember clearly from any other novel of King's, a few moments where King speaks to the reader as an author, and alludes to him and the reader walking invisibly around two, occasionally brushing past some very confused characters. While I found this interesting, I'm still not sure how in love with it I was.  A few patches it worked wonderfully, other times it was a little irritating.

The book is not one of the horror novel the author is known for, but rather deals with humans' ability to be cruel to one another, and what the common man does under extraordinary circumstances. This is not a new theme for King (see "The Stand", "It", "The Mist") but is one of his better examples of it. 
Also like 'It' and 'The Body" (made into 'Stand By Me'), this book is another to empower children, and put them in serious positions of power, something I always enjoyed when I was one of King's 'younger readers', and still appreciate now.

All in all, the novel is a very enjoyable one and by far one of King's best newer novels.  For it's length, it is a pretty quick read, and I have no doubt that it will make a great miniseries, especially since the project is being held up by the one and only, Steven Spielberg.  Which is ironic, considering the novel contains a passage where Scarecrow Joe discusses his role as 'the smart kid', as being the one that would have to save the day in Spielberg movie.

Speaking of which, here is a quick plausible  cast list that i promised (some alternates included):

Dale "Barbie" Barbara................................Tim Daly
James "Big Jim" Rennie.............................John Goodman/Oliver Platt
Eric "Rusty" Everett...................................Michael C. Hall
Chief "The Duke" Perkins..........................Robert Duvall
Andy Sanders.............................................Alan Tudyk
Rose Twitchell............................................Kathy Bates
Peter Randolph...........................................Mark Ruffalo
Sammy Bushey...........................................Charlize Theron

There are loads more main characters, but at the moment I can't seem to come up with any good ideas for them.

So, if you've read, feel free to throw commentary on the cast my way.

Peace, boys and girls.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Golden Globes: Reaction

Well look at me, back to back entries, how cool am I?

I was mostly pleased with the results read at the 67th Golden Globe awards, and was very pleased with the Globes' first-ever host, Ricky Gervais. Ricky was, of course, Ricky...but NBC had to expect it.  They also should have expected the endless amounts of jokes at their expense, since that is exactly what those letters have become.

Jokes were a big part of last night's ceremony, which I appreciate.  Most coming from Gervais, who continued the fake-hatred he and Steve Carell share for each other. And, since the Globes is, after all, 'the party of the year', Ricky was not afraid to bring his beer to the podium with him. Perhaps my favorite part of the show is when he said: "Honestly, I like a drink as much as the next man...unless the next man is Mel Gibson" and out walked Mel with a clear 'Alright, that was a good one' expression on his face.  Cheers to Mel for taking it in stride...not that he had much of a choice.

But now, let's get to what the ceremony was really about: the awards.

As I said, I'm mostly pleased.  Despite getting snubbed for Best Drama Series, 'Dexter' took home the two categories it really deserved: John Lithgow for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, and Michael C. Hall for "Best Actor in a Drama Series". Despite the head covering, my beloved Michael showed no outward signs of his cancer, which was made public only one day before.  (For those of you who did not know about that, its not your fault, he has been trying to keep it quiet, and word is that the disease (Hodgkin's) is in remission.)  That being said, i can't be upset that 'Mad Men' won, after all, i did give it a 'Should Win' yesterday, didn't I?  I was also in love with the fact that Jeff Bridges won, and that he was greeted with a surprise standing ovation.  "You're really messin' up my under-rated status, here." he remarked. 

Sure, I was wrong in a few places, but no where that I particularly minded. That is...until Hollywood continued its 'Let's snub Quentin' tradition. I mean, ok, he is not the only one who deserved Best Director/Best Drama Picture, I would have been ok with Reitman or even Bigelow...but Cameron?!  I shouted in disgust after picking my jaw off the floor.

And I let everyone have their fun with 'Avatar'.  I understand the meaning of a blockbuster!  I enjoy them as much as the next movie goer. But when people started asking me what I thought of it, I was never that critical, and held back to only giving a 'Meh, it was ok." verbal review.

This is what I get for being nice to an 'ok' movie.

And before I go any further, yes, I enjoyed it.  Did I understand its hype before I saw it?  No.  After I saw it? No.  Did it look spectacular? Yes. Do i appreciate what the film has done in the world of film technology? Of course. After all, 'Citizen Kane' was the same sort of thing in its day, and it got robbed of the Oscar in one of the biggest outrages in movie history.

I'm also a Science Fiction fan.  I grew up on Star Wars since dippers days.  So it goes without saying that i'm glad the genre is getting some serious recognition...just not for the film that's leading the way.

Technology aside, 'Avatar' (or AV-UH-DA, as Arnold said), was just 'O.K', which is a much nicer word than what it means: mediocre.

First lets talk about acting.  Sure, Sigourney was great in the role she's played her whole life. Stephen Lang was absolutely perfect (there are reasons he is the Artistic Director of The Actor's Studio, you know).  But that doesn't go too far when your lead actors are bland. Mr. Worthington, sure ya did alright, i suppose, but nothing to clap over. (Not to mention it appears you will be playing the same role this summer in 'Clash of the Titans'...huh.) And because of this lackluster performance, its hard to judge Zoe Saldana properly, since almost all of her screen time is shared with him.

The writing was nothing to shout about either. The plot of this movie was more than predicable. Lets face it, Disney even did this plot (I don't think i need to mention in which movie(s).) it also did not appear that Cameron made any script adjustments from when he wrote it in the '90s. (See use of the word 'numbnuts'.)

As for Cameron, I guess I'll give in to him winning Director.  After all, Scorsese finally got an Oscar for a movie that didn't really deserve is...but it was time, i suppose, and the same argument can win here.

Not Best Drama.
I mean, come on!  Again "Inglorious Basterds", "Up in the Air" and "Precious" and "The Hurt Locker"?!  I expected any of those to win! the movies the critics didn't go "Meh." to!


Well, i can look on the bright side.  At least it wasn't The Oscars.

Any way, I should have a review of Stephen King's 'Under the Dome' later this week as I race towards it's finish, as well as my dream cast for the book's upcoming miniseries adaptation.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Golden Globes Predictions, just in time!

Well look at me.  1st post: 2 followers, 2nd post: 2 comments!  Movin' on up, yessiree.

Tonight, is the 67th Golden Globe Awards, and I have just realized that I never did my traditional 'Should win/ will win' for the ceremony.  So, with a few hours to we go:

Key:Should Win  Will Win
(Note, due to my not seeing all films, some categories do not have a 'should win'.  Additionally, some categories have more than one)

Best Motion Picture – Drama
- Avatar
- The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
- Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire
- Up In The Air
Best Performance By An Actress In A Motion Picture – Drama
- Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria
- Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
- Helen Mirren, The Last Station
- Carey Mulligan, An Education
- Gabourey Sidibe, Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire

Best Performance By An Actor In A Motion Picture – Drama
- Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
- George Clooney, Up In The Air
- Colin Firth, A Single Man
- Morgan Freeman, Invictus
- Tobey Maguire, Brothers
Best Motion Picture – Comedy Or Musical
- (500) Days Of Summer
- The Hangover
- It’s Complicated
- Julie & Julia
- Nine
Best Performance By An Actress In A Motion Picture – Comedy Or Musical
- Sandra Bullock, The Proposal
- Marion Cotillard, Nine
- Julia Roberts, Duplicity
- Meryl Streep, It’s Complicated
- Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia
Best Performance By An Actor In A Motion Picture – Comedy Or Musical
- Matt Damon, The Informant!
- Daniel Day-Lewis, Nine
- Robert Downey Jr., Sherlock Holmes
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt, (500) Days Of Summer
- Michael Stuhlbarg, A Serious Man
Best Animated Feature Film
- Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs
- Coraline
- Fantastic Mr. Fox
- The Princess And The Frog
- Up

Best Foreign Language Film
- Baaria (Italy)
- Broken Embraces (Spain)
- The Maid (Chile)
- A Prophet (France)
- The White Ribbon (Germany)
Best Performance By An Actress In A Supporting Role In A Motion Picture
- Penélope, Cruz Nine
- Vera Farmiga, Up In The Air
- Anna Kendrick, Up In The Air
- Mo’nique, Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire
- Julianne Moore, A Single Man
Best Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role In A Motion Picture
- Matt Damon, Invictus
- Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
- Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
- Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
- Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Best Director – Motion Picture
- Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
- James Cameron, Avatar
- Clint Eastwood, Invictus
- Jason Reitman, Up In The Air
- Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
- Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell, District 9
- Mark Boal The Hurt Locker
- Nancy Meyers It's Complicated
- Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up In The Air
- Quentin Tarantino Inglourious Basterds
Best Original Score – Motion Picture
- Michael Giacchino, Up
- Marvin Hamlisch, The Informant!
- James Horner, Avatar
- Abel Korzeniowski, A Single Man
- Karen O & Carter Burwell, Where The Wild Things Are
Best Original Song – Motion Picture
- “Cinema Italiano” — Nine, Music & Lyrics By: Maury Yeston
- “I Want To Come Home” — Everybody's Fine, Music & Lyrics By: Paul McCartney
- “I Will See You” — Avatar, Music By: James Horner, Simon Franglen, Lyrics By: James Horner, Simon Franglen, Kuk Harrell
- “The Weary Kind (Theme From Crazy Heart)” — Crazy Heart, Music & Lyrics By: Ryan Bingham, T Bone Burnett
- “Winter” — Brothers, Music By: U2, Lyrics By: Bono
Best Television Series – Drama
- Big Love
- Dexter
- House
- Mad Men
- True Blood
Best Performance By An Actress In A Television Series – Drama
- Glenn Close, Damages
- January Jones, Mad Men
- Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
- Anna Paquin, True Blood
- Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
Best Performance By An Actor In A Television Series – Drama
- Simon Baker, The Mentalist
- Michael C. Hall, Dexter
- Jon Hamm, Mad Men
- Hugh Laurie, House
- Bill Paxton, Big Love
Best Television Series – Comedy Or Musical
- 30 Rock
- Entourage
- Glee
- Modern Family
- The Office

Best Performance By An Actress In A Television Series – Comedy Or Musical
- Toni Collette, United States Of Tara
- Courteney Cox, Cougar Town
- Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
- Tina Fey, 30 Rock
- Lea Michele, Glee
Best Performance By An Actor In A Television Series – Comedy Or Musical
- Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
- Steve Carell, The Office
- David Duchovny, Californication
- Thomas Jane, Hung
- Matthew Morrison, Glee
Best Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made For Television
- Georgia O'Keeffe
- Grey Gardens
- Into The Storm
- Little Dorrit
- Taking Chance

Best Performance By An Actress In A Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made For Television
- Joan Allen, Georgia O'Keeffe
- Drew Barrymore, Grey Gardens
- Jessica Lange, Grey Gardens
- Anna Paquin, The Courageous Heart Of Irena Sendler
- Sigourney Weaver, Prayers For Bobby
Best Performance By An Actor In A Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made For Television
- Kevin Bacon, Taking Chance
- Kenneth Branagh, Wallander: One Step Behind
- Chiwetel Ejiofor, Endgame
- Brendan Gleeson, Into The Storm
- Jeremy Irons, Georgia O'Keeffe
Best Performance By An Actress In A Supporting Role In A Series, Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made For Television
- Jane Adams, Hung
- Rose Byrne, Damages
- Jane Lynch, Glee
- Janet McTeer, Into The Storm
- Chloë Sevigny, Big Love
Best Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role In A Series, Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made For Television
- Michael Emerson, Lost
- Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
- William Hurt, Damages
- John Lithgow, Dexter
- Jeremy Piven, Entourage

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Leno and NBC prove contracts mean nothing

I know, i was bad.  I promised to be very prompt with new posts, and I failed.  But I've crawled out of my hole to speak out about an outrageous issue in the late-night television world. The issue? Jay Leno.

Or perhaps, more specifically, Jay Leno's ego.

Jay Leno....

Stealing "The Tonight Show" out from under the heels of David Letterman was bold enough. The man says one sly thing to Hugh Grant and suddenly he's the funniest man in the world. The funniest part of Jay's 'Tonight Show' was always 'Headlines' and 'Jay Walking'. 'Headlines' necessitating other people pointing out funny mistakes in publications FOR Leno, and Jay-walking being a featurette of people making fools of themselves.

He announces retirement, and Conan fans hear that they only have to wait five years for their prayers to be answered...but Jay got jealous. So he joined the the primetime lineup st 10pm (a timeslot that has ALWAYS brought in NBC success, right?), forcing Conan to follow him yet again.

But Jay's time in NBC executives' beds was not over yet.  Suddenly, Jay and NBC realize that the primetime audience is awake enough to realize 'Oh, he really isn't funny." And decide to pull one of the biggest insults in television history: Pushing 'The Tonight Show', and its fifty-six-year legacy back to 12:05am, which pushes 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon' back to 1:05am, and poor Carson Daly into Neverneverland. And whatever for? To let one washed-up comedian relive the glory days he didn't earn to begin with.

It has been announced that 'The Jay Leno Show' has been canceled...but this sorry excuse for an entertainer will be given half an hour to do...something (anything!) before Conan and his legendary desk roll in just after midnight...again.

Now, this is not entirely Jay's fault, mind you.  Jay's plan requires an extreme amount of stupidity on the part of  the  NBC executives.  And stupidity, for the record, is the most appropriate word that can be used, if for no other reason than the fact that both Johnny Carson AND Jay Leno himself struggled when they first got the why should it be a surprise that Conan's ratings have been wavering? They still are not as bad as Jay's were, which kind of throws that whole 'Jay will get ratings because he's on earlier' theory out the window, doesn't it? Conan also struggled when he first got Letterman's spot at 'Late Night', he was fully aware of this, as was most people in the world. So why are we getting so offended that Letterman is getting higher ratings?  (Certainly his back-to-back blockbuster scandals couldn't have anything to do with it? No, stupid me, using my brain like that).

In the last decade, the executives on NBC, have brought the network, the once unchallengeable Number One Cable Network down to averaging Number Four and Five. Well, at least you got FOX and The WB/CW, (although that is a little like a slumping baseball team beating the Kansas City Royals and Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals).
But I digress.

Pushing Conan back disrespects a lot of things.  The first being Conan O'Brien, a man who signed a contract and believed that it meant something. A man who worked his tail off to earn a spot that thousands dream of having. He worked through hard-times and good times to prove himself at 12:35am, night after night for 17 years. He moved his family, his crew (and their families), and his band (and their families) to LA...because he had achieved his dream. A dream job...that NBC might have torn away from him after only 7 months. (Steve Allen: 3 Years, Jack Parr: 5 years, Johnny Carson: 30 years, Jay 'Heartless' Leno: 16 years).

Luckily, as i've been writing this, Conan has proven his quality as a person in a released statement:

"People of Earth:

In the last few days, I've been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I've been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I've been absurdly lucky. That said, I've been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight Show in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.

Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35. For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn't the Tonight Show. Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn't matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it's always been that way.



I applaud you Conan. If Jay Leno re-claims "The Tonight Show", as far as I'm concerned, after 57 years, NBC decided to torpedo one if its most successful shows, and a landmark of television. (Watch your back 'SNL"!) Good for you, Conan. I'm proud to see you stand-up in the face of unprofessional-ism. To the people who are used to reading me, I don't need to make a very obvious comparison to certain student-run, Maryland university newspaper.

What happens next will be interesting. Will NBC decide to disgrace 'The Tonight Show' and end its run and its reputation in humiliation and failure? Or will they realize their folly, keep Conan where he deserves to be, and kick that self-centered chin to the curb once and for all?

I have never seen an episode of "The Jay Leno Show", when it has been put on in my presence, I have demanded it turned off (only once was this ignored, forcing me to leave the room), and if he takes over 'Tonight' again, then Conan's last episode will be the last one I watch. I can't go so far as to say i'll boycott the network...but this little stunt certainly puts that option in sight.

Hopefully this can all be resolved professionally, and correctly. I'd tell you to open your windows and shout something about being 'as mad as hell', but no amount of protest seems to sway NBC's foolishness.

And who knows, if Tiger Woods can muster-up an apology, maybe Leno can too. But whether he can or not, we can only hope they bring in The Donald to give Jay the only timeslot-guarantee he desrves: "You're fired."