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Stay Tuned
Reviews, previews and much more on "24," "Lost," "The Real Housewives," "How I Met Your Mother," "NCIS" and many more of your favorite shows. This is the place to talk about all of the things that make us "Stay Tuned"…

Thursday, August 31, 2006

"Super Hero": A Major Farewell

So if “Who Wants to Be a Super Hero?” is just a silly reality show, why was I bawling like a baby at the end of last week’s episode?

There can only be one reason. Major Victory, my favorite, turned in his costume.

Let’s face it. Last week was not a good one for me in terms of my favorite reality stars. First, Robert was cut from “Project Runway” and then the next night, it was farewell to Major Victory.

And what a farewell it was.

First, though, there were the challenges. Fat Momma, Feedback and Major Victory had to talk about their powers to a group of young school kids, who then picked their favorite. Feedback talked over their heads about electric pulses, Major Victory made them laugh, and Fat Momma gave them a speech about self-esteem. In the end, Fat Momma was the kids’ choice.

But she didn’t have time to celebrate as Stan gave them another challenge—locating the Dark Enforcer at the crowded Universal Citywalk. The heroes had to follow the clues until they reached his location. I thought there would be a hidden twist to the challenge, but one never materialized. Major Victory had the fastest time, followed by Feedback—who lost time while trying to pick up a penny he dropped—while Fat Momma ate people’s food and got a massage in between clues.

When the heroes returned to the lair, they began sharing how much the experience had meant to them. Suddenly, Fat Momma became upset and locked herself in the bathroom, vowing not to come out until she could speak with one of the show’s producers. When he arrived, she told him she was worried about Feedback being eliminated and what he would do if he was. “I don’t want it as much,” she told him.

Personally, I think she should have been eliminated right then. What made her think that Feedback was going to be eliminated? She was the one that was eating and getting massages when she was supposed to be saving people from a super villain! And who’s to say the entire thing wasn’t a ploy on her part?

After conferring with a producer and the other heroes, Fat Momma agreed to stay in the competition. And with that, it was time for another elimination.

I just knew in my gut that it wasn’t going to turn out the way I wanted. However, after seeing the commercial for the show’s DVD with Major Victory on the cover, I thought there was a chance I was wrong…

Stan congratulated Feedback for properly explaining his character to the kids—although Stan agreed he was talking over their heads. He also complimented him for taking the time to pick up the penny he dropped. It was clear that Feedback—despite Fat Momma’s concerns—wasn’t going anywhere.

Which left Fat Momma and Major Victory. Stan praised Fat Momma’s inspiring speech to the children, but criticized her for taking 40 MINUTES to complete the Dark Enforcer challenge, telling her that if she thought it was more important to stay in character, she was wrong. He then complimented Major Victory on being so entertaining, but then expressed his concern that he was becoming a parody of a super hero, instead of becoming a hero.

There was no question then that Major Victory was going home. I started to yell at the TV when Stan said, “Major Victory, turn in your costume.”

Suddenly, Feedback stepped back onto his cube, presumably to protest Stan’s decision. But Major Victory wouldn’t let him, telling him to “get down from there and tell me goodbye.”

But after Chris threw his Major Victory costume in the trash, Stan called him back. I was hoping he was giving him a second chance; but Stan had another surprise—a phone call from his daughter. Throughout the entire show, Chris had said he was doing this so his estranged daughter could be proud of him. So it was an emotional moment when he picked up the phone and heard his 16-year-old daughter’s voice. I couldn’t help but cry, especially when she said, “You’re my hero, daddy.” Even Stan cried at that one.

After cracking one more joke and flashing one more killer smile, Chris left the roof. And I was left to wipe the tears off my face and yell at myself for bawling over a stupid reality show.

Don’t worry, though. My tears didn’t last long once I discovered that Bravo was showing “The Lost Boys” for the umpteenth time.

So, do I agree with Stan’s decision? Yes and no. I agree that Major Victory was becoming more of a parody, but I think that Stan should have been harder on Fat Momma for shirking her duties in favor of staying in character. And besides, Chris was highly entertaining. I’m guessing he’s a pretty good DJ.

I can’t help but wonder if Stan regrets his decision now since Major Victory basically became the face of the show.

So who do I think is going to win? I think Feedback, without a doubt. How can you do an entire comic book and movie about a hero who can’t fight crime without eating a donut? Plus, Feedback has the more interesting backstory with the death of his father and he’ll appeal to the video game generation. And of all the contestants he took the show the most seriously. He probably deserves it.

The season finale of “Who Wants to Be a Super Hero?” airs tonight (Thursday) at 9 on the SciFi Channel.

"Duets": A Second Chance

If you missed the premiere of "Celebrity Duets," you have another chance to catch it tonight (Thursday) at 8 on FOX.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"Runway": Family Affair, Part 2

The previews for tonight’s “Project Runway” promise some interesting developments.

If I’m not mistaken, Angela has a purse on the runway, which hints that the designers are designing for each other and the ads give the impression that Tim Gunn is going to be a judge! I hope so, because Tim has been disagreeing with the judges a lot lately (as have I) and that would give things an interesting twist.

One thing that Tim didn’t disagree with the judges on was who had to go last week. I agree too, but that didn’t make it any easier. Three times now Robert has designed boring clothes. This time, he even said himself that he was picking boring colors, so why didn’t he change them? The challenge was to please the client, but also to show the designer in the design. Robert didn’t come close to doing the latter and he was out.

That’s not to say Robert’s design was the worst, because it wasn’t. Jeffrey’s was. His dress for Angela’s mother, Darlene, looked like a giant tent draped over her. But there was no way he was going to be out after his blow-up with Darlene. Seeing her mother cry made Angela hate Jeffrey all the more, which is bound to lead to much more drama.

In other words, Jeffrey is better TV. I have to think that’s why Heidi was SO hard on Robert on the runway. She knew she had to defend the decision she had already made.

But even Jeffrey was emotional after the elimination. As he told his mom, “They’re not all good people and Robert is.” Even Tim Gunn got a little emotional—which is what made me lose it. I was fine until then.

So who am I rooting for now? I’m almost afraid to root for anyone for fear I will jinx them, but my favorite has to be Michael. I’m also rooting for Laura because I want to see how she’ll handle Fashion Week while nine months pregnant (or just having given birth depending on the show’s timing). And how can you not love Kayne? I was a little disappointed that he wasn’t more emotional at Robert’s ouster. They were SO cute together.

You can still catch an encore of last week’s episode tonight (Wednesday) at 9. Even though I’ve told you how it turns out, it’s still worth watching if only for the reaction of Laura’s mom to the news she’s going to be a grandmother for the SIXTH time.

The new episode of “Project Runway” will air tonight at 10 on Bravo.

An "Idol" Wonder Woman?

There are some stories that just beg for me to comment on, and this is one of them.

The "NY Post" is reporting that Katharine McPhee is now on the list of women being considered for the role of Wonder Woman. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

According to the "Post," Katharine's upcoming "Shape" magazine cover in a bathing suit may be seen as kind of a tryout for how she would look in the costume.

Personally, I think this is all just a big PR story, but Hollywood has done stranger things.

"Celebrity Duets": Hooked On Another One

Sometime around 9 o’clock last night, it happened. I was just innocently watching TV, when the thing I feared the most occurred.

I got hooked into another TV show.

And not just any TV show—“Celebrity Duets.”

I figured I’d tune in just out of curiosity, but before I knew it I was critiquing performances and speculating on who would be eliminated.

Simon Cowell, what have you done to me?

In my defense, it’s hard not to get sucked in by this show, which wisely follows the “Idol” formula almost to the letter. If you missed it, here’s how it works. Each of the contestants performs a song with a recording star. Some of the songs are actually duets, but most of them are songs made famous by the recording artist turned into duets.

Which is what makes this show interesting. Not only do you have celebrities that have never performed in front of an audience before, but you also have singers who are not used to singing duets of their songs. So, some of the singers (Yes, I mean you Michael Bolton.) were struggling as well. Because this was a two-hour premiere, each contestant got to sing two songs with two different artists and the judges decided who to eliminate. Beginning next week, the show will be down to an hour and viewers will decide who goes home.

Which brings up an interesting question. Will viewers vote based on voice, or will they vote based on which celebrity they like best?

If they vote on voice, the early frontrunner is without a doubt Jai Rodriguez (“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”). I would buy his CD in a heartbeat. Plus, he uses his drama skills (He appeared in “Rent.”) to make some electrifying performances. His duet with Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child was so sizzling, I almost forgot he’s gay.

My favorite, though, is Hal Sparks (“Queer as Folk,” VH1 “I Love” specials). He’s got a good voice (kind of like Chad Kroeger meets Ozzy Osbourne) but I love that he puts his heavy metal touch into every song he does—even Motown. If Sparks would have been eliminated (which I was afraid of), I would’ve thrown this show back.

And last night’s best recording artist? Gladys Knight was fierce, but James Ingram has still got the pipes. I wanted to immediately download every song he’s ever done.

Here’s a recap of who did what, in case you’re curious…

Lucy Lawless
“Time, Love and Tenderness” with Michael Bolton
“Ooh Baby, Baby” with Smokey Robinson
Michael didn’t do Lucy any favors by not even trying to sing with her, but she and Smokey were smokin’.

Alfonso Ribeiro
“I Knew You Were Waiting” with Michelle Williams
“Yah Mo B There” with James Ingram
Alfonso may be the only one that can give Jai a run for his money.

Carly Patterson
“Somewhere Out There” with James Ingram
“I Hope You Dance” with Lee Ann Womack
Both James and Lee Ann helped an extremely nervous Carly out tremendously. Lee Ann even took the harmony on the chorus.

Cheech Marin
“Love Your Way” with Peter Frampton
“Diggin’ Up Bones” with Randy Travis
I’m afraid that Cheech is going to be the contestant that the recording artists are going to dread getting stuck with. He’s got a decent country voice, though; he just has trouble with everything else.

Lea Thompson
“Forever and Ever Amen” with Randy Travis
“That’s Life” with Michael Bolton
Lea took a chance by doing harmony with Randy (She was good.) but she has a real tendency to oversing.

Jai Rodriguez
“Since I Fell For You” with Gladys Knight
“Say My Name” with Michelle Williams
Jai was absolutely the best. And turning “Say My Name” into a duet was pretty inspired, but Ricky Minor and the Band went a little overboard (as usual).

Chris Jericho
“Mendicino County Line” with Lee Ann Womack
“Signed, Sealed, Delivered” with Peter Frampton
I have no idea who’s picking these songs, but they didn’t do Chris any favors. And Frampton doing Motown? It didn’t work.

Hal Sparks
“Tracks of My Tears” with Smokey Robinson
“I Heard It Through the Grapevine” with Gladys Knight
If Paula were a judge, she would say he made both these songs his own—and I loved it. He showed more vocal chops on “Tears,” though.

In the end, the judges did the right thing and eliminated Chris Jericho, who—despite Cheech’s attempts—was definitely the worst of the celebrities. However, I didn’t think they’d actually eliminate Chris since he’s so popular. I guess Cheech will have to be the sentimental favorite now.

But no matter what the celebrities or singers do, the star of this show is Little Richard. He makes Paula Abdul seem like the most coherent person on Earth—even on her worst day. Nothing this guy says makes sense, so you can’t wait to hear what he’ll say next. I could see the wheels in Hal Sparks’ head turning as he tried to figure out how to make fun of him.

I presumed that Marie Osmond would be the Paula of the group, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. When David lets her talk, she makes some very astute observations (surprising even some of the celebrities) and she doesn’t take any crap from anyone. When she was booed trying to offer Hal Sparks some criticism, she responded “Hello, I’ve sung before.” She does, however, need to condense her comments a little for time.

David is clearly supposed to be the Simon of the judges, but last night he took it pretty easy on everyone. We’ll see if that changes.

And, I couldn’t write this without giving some kudos to Wayne Brady. He started out a little stiff, but by the end he was becoming the Wayne we all know and love. I wish that instead of letting the eliminated contestant sing (a la “Idol”), they would let Wayne sing.

The good thing about “Duets” is that it’s only an eight week show, so I don’t have to stay hooked long. But if this show does well—and I think that it will—this won’t be the last of it.

“Duets” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m., with the results show Fridays at 9 p.m., on FOX.

Question of the Week: Your Own Duet

So after watching “Celebrity Duets” last night (MUCH more on that later), I was inspired to ask the following Question of the Week:

If you could perform a duet on national TV with any singer, who would it be?

For me, there’s no doubt it would be Daryl Hall—even though he would sing me under the table.

What about you?

And don’t worry. We’ll have plenty of time to discuss “Celebrity Duets” as I’ll have a post on that later.

Stay tuned…

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

TV on DVD: This Week's Releases

I don’t always have a chance to pass on the latest TV on DVD releases, but this is a pretty big week, so I wanted to pass along some of the shows hitting stores today:

The Andy Griffith Show Season 7
Arrested Development Season 3
Criss Angel Mindfreak: Halloween
Darkwing Duck Volume 1
Desperate Housewives Season 2
Flavor of Love Season 1
NASCAR: Driven to Win Season 1
Nip/Tuck Season 3
Roseanne Halloween Edition
South Park Season 8
Survivor: Palau
Tale Spin Volume 1
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 5
The Tick Season 1
Will & Grace Season 5

In case you’re wondering, “Arrested,” “Darkwing,” and “The Tick” should be on my doorstep tomorrow.

Mom Knows Best

When I answered the phone last night, the first thing my mother said was, "You're home. I thought you'd be out celebrating."

Aren't I lucky to have a mom who understands my completely messed-up ways?

"I told your dad when I heard the news this morning that I bet your neighbors didn't get a lick of sleep last night."

"It was 10:45, Mom," I told her. "They shouldn't have been asleep anyway."

Although, I have to say that I halfway expected a letter on my front door when I got home yesterday from my landlord telling me to keep it down. Of course, between Bengals games and episodes of "24," they really should be used to it by now.

And thanks to Bravo running the Emmy awards twice yesterday, I have now watched Kiefer's winning moment four times. It gets better every time (although I wonder if he realizes he forgot to thank the cast).

"Well, I'll let you get to your game," Mom told me as she said goodbye. "Congratulations."

Now, I know there was nothing to congratulate me for, but my mom knows me well enough to know that I would appreciate that. She' s seen the posters, and the cell phone, and the books and the mouse pads, and the magazines, and the screen savers, and...

Well, you get the idea.

Oh, and by the way, the main reason she called? To see if FOX was re-airing "Prison Break" since their electricity was off.

What can I say? She's definitely my mom!

And if she ever figures out how to find this blog, she can read that I love her and dad very much.

A Good Night...

So I know that this isn't an NFL blog, but I just have to say...

How good did Carson Palmer look last night? Holy cow!

Now I can stop worrying...at least until the opener against Kansas City...

Monday, August 28, 2006

"Runway": Family Affair, Part 1

For anyone wondering why I have so much love for “Project Runway,” you should check out tonight’s encore of last week’s episode “Everyday Woman.”

It didn’t end at all like I would’ve wanted; but it’s a great example of why this show is the best reality show on TV and should’ve walked away with the Emmy last night.

The designers are told that their challenge is to design for the everyday woman. But when the models come out, the everyday women are the designers’ mothers and sisters. The designers are so excited that they don’t notice that Heidi is holding the velvet bag that she uses to draw their names. You guessed it. The designers must choose a model—but not their own relative.

Michael, as the reigning winner, got to choose first and he, of course, chose Robert’s sister, the most model-looking of the group. Not surprisingly, all of the skinnier models were snapped up quickly. And in the most delicious twist of fate I’ve ever seen on this show, Jeffrey ended up with the mother of the designer he hates most—Angela.

I think Jeffrey summed it up best when he said, “God decided to get drunk today” (I would've went with something a little less disrespectful like "what goes around comes around," but you get the idea.).

I can’t help but think there were no names on the buttons Heidi drew from the bag and the producers were actually feeding her the names so that Jeffrey would end up with Angela’s mom, Darlene. It’s not long into the episode before they have a major clash, instigated by—of all people—Tim Gunn.

Meanwhile, the designers with plus-size women struggle to get the proportions right, and one designer accidentally tells her mother she’s pregnant.

It all leads up to a fun runway that ends in tears for more than one designer…and Tim Gunn…and me, for that matter.

The encore of “Project Runway” airs tonight (Monday) at 7 p.m. and again Wednesday at 9 p.m. on Bravo.

Just one more Emmy thought...

Here's just one more Emmy thought...

Wonder if FOX regrets pulling the "24" reruns now?

Now, they have to wait until January to tout having the most honored show (They could still show a little love on the FOX website, though. I mean, come on!)...

Simon Cowell's Newest Experiment

You had to know I’d get to this one eventually; I just needed to catch up.

After watching “Dancing With the Stars,” Simon Cowell was inspired to do the same thing with singers. Thus, “Celebrity Duets” was born.

Celebrities will perform each week, paired with a different recording artist. Just like “Idol,” viewers will vote for their favorite with the outcome announced on a live results show the next night. However, the judges will eliminate the first celebrity. The winner will receive $100,000 for their favorite charity.

If you’re expecting a train wreck, though, you’re going to be disappointed. All of the eight celebrities participating have singing experience and did audition for the show. They are: Chris Jericho (WWE World Champion), actress Lucy Lawless (“Xena: Warrior Princess,” “Battlestar Galactica”), actor Cheech Marin (“Cars,” “Nash Bridges”), 2004 Olympic Gold Medal-winning gymnast Carly Patterson, actor/director Alfonso Ribeiro (“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “All of Us”), Jai Rodriguez (“Queer Eye”), actor/comedian Hal Sparks (“Queer as Folk”) and actress Lea Thompson (“Back to the Future,” “Caroline in the City”).

The biggest surprise with this show is the list of heavy hitters Simon has gotten to perform. In fact, the singers are much bigger than the celebrities. Here’s a partial list of who we can look forward to: Clint Black, Michael Bolton, Belinda Carlisle, Taylor Dayne, Peter Frampton, Macy Gray, James Ingram, Wynonna Judd, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, Kenny Loggins, Richard Marx, Brian McKnight, Aaron Neville, Smokey Robinson, Randy Travis, Dionne Warwick, and Lee Ann Womack. Some of them haven’t had a hit in quite a few years, but it’s still a very impressive list. Apparently, they’ve been paying attention to the power of “Idol.”

But in case you’re worried that this is going to get too serious, Simon has enlisted an eclectic panel of David Foster, the tough producer that berated the Idols last season, Marie Osmond, and Little Richard!

A favorite of mine—and a fantastic singer himself—Wayne Brady will host.

There’s a fine line between compelling and cheesy with this kind of show, but I think Simon will be on the right side of it.

And even if he isn’t, you know you’ll be watching…

“Celebrity Duets” premieres Tuesday, August 29th at 8 p.m. on FOX, before settling into its regular Thursday timeslot September 7th.

Something else to worry about...

Okay, so now that the Emmys are out of the way, I've got something else to worry about...

The second episode of "Prison Break" is airing tonight, but I will be joining Bengals fans everywhere for the moment we've been waiting for since January--the return of Carson Palmer.

Palmer is scheduled to return in tonight's preseason game with the Packers that will air on ESPN beginning at 8. And I'm not afraid to say I'm pretty nervous. The last interview I saw with Carson, he seemed to have zero confidence. I really hope that's not the case tonight, or we're in real trouble--not just for this year, but for many to come.

I just hope tonight goes as well as last night did. I'm still half sick from the last time we saw Carson Palmer on the field...

Pick of the Week: "Justice"

Before my arms fall off from too much typing, let me give you my Pick of the Week.

It shouldn't be too much of a surprise, since I've already told you it's the fall's first must-see.

This week's Pick of the Week is "Justice."

For a complete preview, you can check out my post from last week.

"Justice" airs Wednesday, August 30th at 9 p.m. on FOX.

The Morning After

Thanks again to everyone who stopped by here last night to see if I could actually pull this off. As you know, my original plan was to update every 15 minutes, but I quickly realized it was just easier to really do it as it happened (Although my sore arms this morning probably don’t agree!). I hope all of you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

However, because I was so busy trying to keep up, I didn’t get to put my opinion in very much, so I wanted to take a minute or two this morning to give a little perspective—if that’s possible since I’m still more than a little giddy.

I’ve already read one review this morning that said Conan was the only bright spot in an otherwise “dull” show. I guess we were watching different shows.

I admit I didn’t get the show’s whole impact because I was just trying to keep up, but my biggest problem was that everything seemed a little rushed as it was clear from the get-go that there would be no long speeches—although the director probably gave the longest.

The show got off to a strange start with Conan’s video opening with a plane crash. Considering what had transpired that day in Kentucky, it was a little eerie (The NBC Station Manager in Lexington was apparently horrified.); but that feeling quickly went away as we saw him joined by Hurley from “Lost.” When Conan asked Hurley to come with him to the Emmys, he responded, “Dude, we weren’t exactly invited.” It was a truly inspired way to address the “snubs” without overly dwelling on it. All of the other parts of the video were good too though I wasn’t sure why if every other show was in character that Conan wouldn’t play along by saying Jack and not Kiefer. The “Dateline: To Catch a Predator” was absolutely hilarious, even though it was almost ruined by Chris Hansen’s attempt at acting. The ending, however, lacked a little as there was no real transition from the video to Conan on stage.

Conan’s opening monologue was also strong, but then things went a little overboard as he launched into a song and dance number about how there were big troubles at NBC. This would’ve been a great sketch on Conan’s show, but for the Emmys it seemed inappropriate and WAY too long.

I also thought the Bob Newhart in a glass box bit was funny, but I think they went to it too many times.

The show wisely cut out the tribute to TV’s new “golden age” and instead went with the Aaron Spelling tribute. Though it went a little long and could’ve used more clips, it was quite moving and it was nice to see the “Angels” back together again (Wow, did Jaclyn Smith put Farrah Fawcett to shame!).

The Dick Clark tribute was not too bad itself, but it still rang a little hollow for me because the timing just seemed off. Barry Manilow did come off a little cheesy and his attempt at spontaneity by walking over to Dick Clark didn’t work. It was nice to hear Clark sounding much stronger than he did on New Year’s Eve. And Simon Cowell didn’t do too badly with the cue cards and actually sounded gracious in introducing Clark. And he looked really good…

Unfortunately, most of the presenter banter was downright painful to watch—especially Martin and Charlie Sheen, who were mistakenly sent out too early, cutting off Conan’s introduction. But those moments were thankfully overshadowed by Hugh Laurie’s French translation and Stephen Colbert lamenting his loss to Barry Manilow. This was a good year, however, for acceptance speeches. The best speech award would have to go to Outstanding Writing for a Comedy winner Greg Garcia (“My Name Is Earl”) for naming everyone he didn’t want to thank, like the teacher who told him to sit down and shut up in seventh grade. There were also some great heartfelt ones from Jeremy Piven, Megan Mullally, Mariska Hargitay, and of course, Kiefer. Though some posters on the “TV Guide” blog apparently disagree with me, I thought Kiefer’s comments about his dad were adorable and exactly how any of us would react if we were laying eyes on one of our parents for the first time in months during one of the biggest moments of our careers. Some of the “TV Guide” posters—who were also apparently watching another show—thought Donald Sutherland looked mad. All I saw was pure pride. It was one of the show’s true highlights.

Kudos also to the people backstage who got Kiefer back to the front of the room in time for the best drama category. I was kind of worried.

As for the awards, there were some surprises. Blythe Danner, Tony Shalhoub and yes, even Kiefer and “24” were all surprises. And after thinking about it for a while, I have to agree that “Grey’s Anatomy” not winning anything was, indeed, a surprise. I said last night that the Supporting Actress race would tell us how the wind was blowing for “Grey’s” and boy did it ever! Don’t despair “Grey’s” fans, your show’s time is coming. It’s just that after its best year ever (in its fifth season, no less) and with half of the new fall shows inspired by it, the Emmys just couldn’t ignore “24," giving FOX its first drama series win (Kiefer's win was a first for the network too.).

The biggest disappointment of the night was, without a doubt, the Supporting Actor in a Drama category. It was bad enough that Gregory Itzin lost, but Alan Alda wasn’t even there. I wouldn’t have minded Itzin’s loss so much if “Wing” had been given a proper eulogy through Alda’s speech.

So how did I do with my picks? Not too well—and that’s just fine with me. The final scorecard shows I got two picks (Piven and “The Office”), two of my wild cards won (Mullally and Alda) and—most importantly—two of my Want to Wins (the ones I wanted most) walked away with trophies.

All in all, it was a pretty great night and I’m so glad all of you were here to share it with me!

If you’d like to relive the magic, you can catch an encore of the ceremony tonight on Bravo beginning at 9.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Wrap-Up

Well, that was it.

Thanks to everyone who dropped in tonight. I apologize for taking so long to get some of your comments up but for some reason my e-mail notification wasn't working.

I don't think I have to tell any of you just how unbelievably excited I am right now. If I knew me doing this was what it was going to take for Kiefer to win, I'd have done it years ago.

Yes, the nominations were shocking and controversial; but in the end most of the people who should've won (with the huge exception of Gregory Itzin) won. Congratulations to them all!

I'll have a complete wrap-up in the morning, but right now I need to go watch my tape so I can properly cry at Kiefer's speech...

Henderson, out!

Drama Series

Last year they did the comedy series last because of "Desperate Housewives," but this year it's back to normal. I honestly have no idea what's going to happen now...

Annette Bening is presenting...

And the winner is...YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's "24"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I LOVE THE EMMYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wow Carlos Bernard looks hot in that tux!

Nice that they recognize Kiefer is the heart of the show...Kim Raver looks kind of uncomfortable...but she looks nice...

And Conan says goodbye...

Comedy Series

Conan is presenting Comedy Series with Bob Newhart, who is out of the airtight container...

Conan says the majority of callers wanted Bob to live and six percent had no opinion...

And the winner is..."The Office"...I got one more! I thought their chances might have been hurt by Steve Carell's loss...

I need a minute...

Okay. I need a minute.

Wow! How awesome was that? His speech was heartfelt and didn't you love seeing the tears in his father's eyes?

Now, I know that I don't know Kiefer personally, but that doesn't stop me from being so happy for him I can't see straight.

Now maybe FINALLY the critics will give credit where credit is due.

AND this significantly increases the chances of "24" to win one as well.

And now I'm waiting for my neighbors to knock on my door and tell me to stop screaming...

Actor in a Drama

Ray Liotta and Virginia Madsen presenting Actor...

And the winner is...YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He won! He won! He won! He won! My hands are shaking!!!!!

Kiefer Sutherland won the Emmy!!!!!!!!

Take that all of you who thought the Emmys were messed up this year!

Actress in a Comedy

Okay, let me just be honest and say that it's a little hard for me to type this one because my hands are starting to shake. Yes, I know I said Kiefer wasn't going to win, but since there have been some surprises thus far...

However, it's obvious that Mariska won based on episode choice, so if that's the basis, then Kiefer will lose. BUT when the nominees were announced she got the biggest ovation which means she also has the respect of her peers, which I know Kiefer has, so...

Okay, enough analyzing...

Tyra Banks and Victor Garber presenting...Lead Actress in a Comedy...Oops...

And the winner is...Julia Louis-Dreyfus! I got another one! Why is she so surprised? I'm not!

She says, "Curse this, baby"...Nice!

Lead Actress in a Drama

Callista Flockhart and Craig Ferguson presenting Lead Actress in a Drama...

And the winner is...Mariska Hargitay!!! That's a surprise...

AND it could mean a surprise in the actor category. If she wins, couldn't Christopher Meloni?

Things just got interesting...

Actress in a Mini-Series/Movie

Felicity Huffman and Kiefer Sutherland (slight pause to clean up the drool) presenting Lead Actress in a Mini-Series/Movie...

Finally, they find him an actress shorter than him!! But couldn't his PR woman have told him to straighten his tie?...

And the winner is...Helen Mirren for "Elizabeth I"...No surprise there...

Gonna Fly Now...

It's 10:30 and we've still got both drama lead acting categories, the comedy actress category and both series categories.

We are going to fly now.

In Memoriam

Now it's time for the annual video saluting those we lost in the previous year. Strangely no one introduced it. I guess we're saving time...

Mini-Series

Edie Falco and James Gandolfini say they're thinking of our troops...

Now presenting Outstanding Mini-Series...

And the winner is..."Elizabeth I"...No surprise, since it's won so much else...

The lack of voice-over is a little ominous. Don't know why they stopped that...

Writing, Movie/Mini-Series

Now Katharine and Omar present for Writing for a Movie/Mini-Series...

And the winner is...Richard Curtis for "The Girl in the Cafe"...He's not there...

Directing for Movie/Mini-Series

Omar Epps and Katharine Heigl presenting for Directing for a Movie/Mini-Series/Dramatic Special...

And the winner is...

How is "High School Musical" a drama special?

Tom Hoover for "Elizabeth I"

Let's Recap for a Minute

So far, Emmy has been all about repeat winners...

This bodes well for Allison Janney and "The West Wing," but I'm not sure what it does for Martin Sheen...

Outstanding Reality/Competition Show

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert presenting Outstanding Reality/Competition Show...

Yes Harrison Ford is there with Callista Flockhart...

They're really funny together...Colbert is upset he lost to Barry Manilow...Says he could've lost to Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) because he's got claws for hands...

And the winner is..."The Amazing Race"...NO WAY!...That's an upset because everyone thought it couldn't win because of the family edition...obviously Emmy loves those fascinating locales...This is FOUR times in a row!

Where is Phil...Oh, there he is...Looking hot as usual...

Speaking of hot, what award is Kiefer presenting anyway?

TV Movie

James Woods and Eva Longoria presenting TV Movie...

Eva looks cute, why didn't she get any attention on the red carpet? Wow! The "Housewives" really fell out of favor this year...

And the winner is..."The Girl in the Cafe"...No surprise there since it won for Actress...

Aaron Spelling Tribute

Candice Bergen--in a hideous aqua skirt and white blouse that makes her look huge--introduces the president of the TV Academy...

He begins the salute to Aaron Spelling...He introduces Joan Collins, Stephen Collins and Heather Locklear...

Candy and Randy Spelling are in the audience, but Tori is not with them...

Heather looks great...Wonder if she and Charlie Sheen had an interesting chat?...

Tori is in the audience with her husband, but she is not sitting with the rest of her family...

Joan Collins is SUCH a drama queen...

The video...Aaron appeared in an episode of "Gunsmoke"...Wow he did a lot of stuff!

It looks like they nixed the tribute to TV's new golden age that I criticized earlier...good move...

The video dissolves and the original "Charlie's Angels" appear...Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith...Farrah looks totally uncomfortable...

We see Geena Davis for the first time tonight...

Is Kate Jackson going to let anyone else talk?

Candy breaks down...

Finally Farrah gets to talk...and she breaks down...So if she was so grateful to him, why did she leave the show after one season?...Jaclyn looks great!...That was really sweet...

Nice work!

Lead Actor in a Comedy

Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford presenting Lead Actor in a Comedy...

Wow, they're giving this one kind of early. It's only 9:45...

And the winner is...Tony Shalhoub...That's an upset, but it does go back to the whole nostalgia thing since he has won three now!

This could hurt the chances of "The Office" for comedy...

Actor in a Movie/Mini-Series

Conan does a bit about TiVo...

Hugh Laurie and Helen Mirren presenting Lead Actor in a Movie/Mini-series...

Hugh Laurie does a French translation of Helen's words...He's really funny...Why don't I watch "House"?

And the winner is...Andre Braugher for "Thief"...Wonder why I didn't watch that? He's awesome!

Writing for Comedy/Music/Variety Series

Now Megan and Howie present writing for Comedy/Music/Variety Series...

The shows try to outdo each other with their nominee videos...

And the winner is...the team from "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"...again, no surprise. Emmy loves this show...

Jon Stewart announces that he's decided to kill Bob Newhart...

Steve Colbert was listed as a member of the team, but he didn't go on the stage. Stewart gives him a shoutout...

Directing for Comedy/Music/Variety Program

Megan Mullally and Howie Mandel presenting Directing for Comedy/Music/Variety Program...

And the winner is...

First, Howie makes Megan choose a case a la "Deal or No Deal"...

Louis J. Horowitz for the "Academy Awards" and they go to the truck for his speech because he is directing the Emmys...

Supporting Actor in a Mini-Series/Movie

Mariska Hargitay and Tom Selleck (?) present Supporting Actor in a Mini-Series/Movie...

And the winner is...Jeremy Irons for "Elizabeth I" and he's actually there! Good for him!

Let Me Backtrack for a Minute...

Okay, so let me backtrack for a minute...

When Kiefer Sutherland won his second SAG award this year, he gave it to Jon Cassar. Cassar promised that if he won an Emmy, he would give Kiefer back the SAG...

Speaking of Kiefer, every time they've shown him tonight, it's been a tight shot, which tells me he's not with anyone recognizable or they'd be showing the crap out of her...

I'm sorry! I like to know these things!

By the way, if I'm not mistaken, the episode Jon Cassar just won for is the one Kiefer submitted...Hmmm...

I'm happy for the first time tonight!!!

Writing for a Drama

Now Evangeline and Wentworth present Writing for a Drama...

And the winner is...Terrence Winter for "The Sopranos"...

Interesting...

Directing for a Drama

Conan introduces the accounting team like they're a sports team--complete with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar...

Evangeline Lilly and Wentworth Miller (YIKES!) introduce the winners of the Guest in a Drama Emmys...Man does he look hot!!!

Christian Clemenson comes out alone. Patricia Clarkson was unable to attend...

Presenting Directing for a Drama....

And the winner is...JON CASSAR!!!!...My first screaming of the night...He gives Kiefer a big hug...

Now Kiefer gets his SAG back that he gave him.

Individual Performance in Comedy/Music/Variety Series

Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan present Individual Performance in a Comedy/Music/Variety Program...

And the winner is...Barry Manilow for his PBS music special "Music and Passion"...He comes from backstage to accept...

He says the Emmy is going into the operating room with him tomorrow morning for good luck...Huh?...What surgery is he having?

Dick Clark tribute

Simon Cowell kicks it off...Can I just say that he looks hot tonight?...And he's wearing glasses!

It's a good clip montage, but now it's going to get sappy.

Dick Clark appears and he, of course, gets a standing ovation...

Harrison Ford is in the audience. I presume he's with Calista Flockhart...

He does a great job with his speech...

He introduces Barry Manilow to do the "American Bandstand" theme. Hey Barry, you may want to tone down the eyeliner a little...

Directing & Writing for a Comedy

Jennifer Love-Hewitt and Ron Livingston introduce the winners of Guest Actor and Actress in a Comedy: Leslie Jordan and Cloris Leachman...They announce Cloris' record...

They present Directing for a Comedy...

And the winner is...Marc Buckland for "My Name Is Earl"...Apparently the audio went out because there was no voiceover from the voice guy...

Writing for a Comedy...

If "Arrested" won this, it could be a good sign...

And the winner is...Greg Garcia for "My Name Is Earl"

So, let me get this straight. You win for directing and writing, but you don't even get nominated for Outstanding Comedy?

Garcia gives a funny speech where he names all of the people he doesn't want to thank...

Variety/Music/Comedy Series

Conan introduces the Telemundo camera...Bob Newhart is horrified...

Heidi Klum, John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor--yes you saw that correctly--present Variety/Music/Comedy Series. Not sure what that's about...

The nominees are shown on an iPod in the audience.

I'm really rooting for Conan for this one...

And the winner is "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"...No big surprise...

They show a clip as he walks up there and they have to cut it off. Yeah, that worked really well...

Just a reminder...

Just a reminder that you can post comments throughout the night. I'll get to them just as soon as I can.

Supporting Actress in a Movie/Mini-Series

Christopher Meloni does a mock acceptance speech on a segueway...

Dennis Haysbert and William Peterson present Supporting Actress in a Movie or Mini-Series...

They brought back the clips. I guess they think these nominees are bigger stars...

And the winner is...Kelly MacDonald for "The Girl in the Cafe"...No, I don't know who she is either...I'm just glad that Ellen Burstyn didn't win. There may have been a riot...

Rushing for Time...

They didn't waste any time cutting out the clips from the nominees this year. I love Conan, but we couldn't have cut out that song and dance number?

Everything just seems so rushed...

Supporting Actor in a Comedy

Jason Lee and Jaime Pressley present Supporting Actor in a Comedy...

And the winner is...Jeremy Piven...YES!!!...I just saw his submitted episode for "Entourage" and it was truly awesome...

And he gives a great short speech with a touching tribute to his father that makes him break down...

And I get my first one right of the evening...

Supporting Actress in a Drama

Conan brings Bob Newhart out in an airtight container saying that he will die if the Emmys run over...

Charlie and Martin Sheen completely cut off Conan's introduction of them. They're presenting Supporting Actress in a Drama...This one will tell us how the wind is blowing for "Grey's Anatomy"...

Boy were those jokes awkward...They've already stopped shwing clips...

And the winner is Blythe Danner?! What?! That's for "Huff," in case you're wondering...

I think this looks bad for "Grey's" and "24." I think NBC needs to start planning a special "West Wing" airing to brag about their wins, because they're going to get a few...

Supporting Actor in a Drama

Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Sean Hayes present Supporting Actor in a Drama. I'm so nervous I can't type!!!

And the winner is...Alan Alda...who doesn't even bother to show up.

It's obvious that nostalgia is going to weigh VERY heavily tonight. If you can still call Vegas, I'd put big money on "The West Wing."

And no, I'm not very happy about that one.

Finally Some Awards...

Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey from "Grey's Anatomy" are presenting Supporting Actress in a Comedy...

And the winner is...Megan Mullally. And the nostalgia begins...

Says thank you on behalf of "Will & Grace" and the music begins. Wow, they're going to be strict tonight!

Conan's opening remarks...

Conan takes his first jab at NBC saying the Emmys will be cancelled halfway through...Mel Gibson joke...Takes on Ellen Burstyn by turning it into a sex joke. Nice. Burstyn is not shown. I'm betting she's not there...

Charlie Sheen joke. At least he didn't touch on the Denise thing...

Gift basket joke. You knew that was coming...

Why is Heather Locklear sitting with Jason Lee?...

Looks like we'll get A LOT more Kiefer shots this year. Thank goodness...

Now, Conan is taking on NBC with a song? What? Did NBC know about this? "We got trouble here at NBC"...Okay, I think we're done with this...

Here We Go...

We open directly with a Conan video...His plane crashes a la "Lost"...He makes a hair dryer out of sticks...He meets up with Hurley...He tells Conan they weren't invited to the Emmys...Conan goes through the hatch and into the office from "The Office"...He calls Chloe from "24"...Jack breaks in to the phone call...Jack makes him hang up...He ends up in the office with Dr. House...House completely insults him...Conan ends up on "South Park," where he won't come out of the closet...Tom Cruise is in there too...Conan ends up in the "Dateline: To Catch a Predator" kitchen...Conan runs out and makes it to the Emmy stage...

Hilarious...Loved how he handled the "Lost" snubbed situation...

And there is a woman sitting next to Kiefer...

Making It Work...

All in all, NBC's red carpet show was pretty sad. However, I give them major kudos for inviting the fabulous Tim Gunn to critique the dresses. And I am SO glad he criticized Sandra Oh for all that jewelry...

Something to look for...

During the red carpet coverage, it was revealed that the Aaron Spelling tribute is on and Joan Collins will take part. But what that means for the Spelling family feud, I have no idea.

The Red Carpet

Welcome to the 2006 Emmy Awards!

First of all, let me say that I hate red carpet shows, but there are some celebrities I really wanted to see—okay, one celebrity I really wanted to see—and finally at the 7:30 mark he appeared in a PATHETICALLY short interview on NBC (Thanks a lot, Nancy.). The segment was so short we didn’t even get to see if he had a date, so if anyone noticed if he was with someone, please post a comment.

That’s Kiefer Sutherland I’m talking about, in case you had to ask.

It appears that the biggest accessory for women this year is, well, let’s just say, the upper body if you know what I mean. In fact, I think that Morgan Fairchild actually forgot some of her dress.

I have a feeling that tonight is going to be very interesting for all of us. I will warn you that we’ve already weathered one storm here, so keep your fingers crossed that there will be no power outages.

Much more to come, so settle in with me…

Happy Emmy Sunday!

I thought that as the Emmy Awards got closer, the controversy would die down and people would concentrate on the actual nominees.

But apparently that’s not going to happen, which forces me to talk about it myself—which I really didn’t want to do.

So here goes…

I am SO sick of hearing how “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives” got snubbed by the Emmys. If you’re a fan of either, I’m sorry your show didn’t get nominated; but it’s time to acknowledge the people who did. By constantly mentioning those who weren’t nominated, it makes those who were look like chopped liver.

I know that “Lost” won last year, but this year, they submitted the wrong episode. As for “Housewives,” how can a show with an accused murderer shackled in a basement be considered a comedy? The show was just too dark this season. And show creator Marc Cherry is known to give lousy advice about what episodes to submit. The only reason Felicity Huffman won last year was because Marcia Cross submitted Huffman’s best episode.

Now I know what you guys are thinking. I would feel differently if “24” had not received so many nominations. But as you may recall, I actually thought Kiefer Sutherland would not get nominated because of the new voting system. I recognized there would be omissions, why didn’t anyone else?

Apparently ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson (who is SO on my list) was so miffed at the “snubs” he scheduled “Pirates of the Caribbean” to run opposite the awards telecast. As Emmy host Conan O’Brien said, that doesn’t say much about what ABC thinks of “Grey’s Anatomy,” which has 11 nominations (McPherson denies this was the reason for the scheduling.).

Now there’s talk of revamping the voting system again to avoid these “errors” in the future. Personally, I think the Emmys should give this system one more year with only small adjustments. In my opinion, the new system has given us the most interesting slate in years and so it deserves another try.

Unfortunately, though, the “snubs” are not the only controversy this year. Ellen Burstyn received a Supporting Actress in a TV Movie nod for “Mrs. Harris,” in which she appeared for all of 14 SECONDS! Critics are using that nod as more evidence the system should be revamped. There’s just one problem. The new system was not used for Burstyn’s category. Her nomination was awarded on name recognition only—exactly what the new system was created to prevent.

Just like any other awards, the Emmys have their problems. But I don’t think they should be completely overhauled because a few people didn’t get nominations.

Remember that I’ll be back at 7:45 p.m. to start blogging the ceremony. So come back and join me. You’ll need to refresh the page to see my new posts. I’ll be updating at least every 15 minutes and quicker when I can.

Stay tuned…

Friday, August 25, 2006

One More Emmy Prediction

When I made my Emmy predictions Thursday, I forgot one of the major categories...

Reality-Competition Program
"The Amazing Race"
"American Idol"
"Dancing With the Stars"
"Project Runway"
"Survivor"

My Pick: "American Idol." Most critics agree that this is the year Emmy finally acknowledges this phenomenon. "Race" is the two-time defending champ, but it probably killed its chances with the Family Edition.
Wild Card: "Project Runway." It's the coolest (and best) reality show on TV. Emmy may want to acknowledge that.
Want to Win: No offense to "Idol," but I'd love to see Bravo win an Emmy, so I'm rooting for "Runway."

I don't predict any of the movie categories because I don't know anything about them, but of course I'm rooting for Donald Sutherland in the Actor category. And in the technical categories it's all about Jon Cassar winning for directing "24."

We're getting closer now!!!

Friday Free-For-All: August 25, 2006

TGIF!

I thought I would take this opportunity to apologize to those of you who took my advice and watched “High School Musical” last night. I knew that they would use it to advertise “Cheetah Girls 2,” but I had no idea they’d put that stupid countdown clock in the corner of the screen all night. I think we could remember when it airs without seeing how many minutes and seconds away it is! I also didn’t know it would be the sing-along version. But I guess when you’ve shown a movie over a dozen times, they figure you’re able to sing along by now.

So, what’s on your mind today?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The "Teen Choice" Train Wreck

In my previous post, I talked about some of the completely unnecessary special segments we can expect during the Emmy Awards telecast.

But I have to believe that no matter what dumb stuff the Emmys do this year, there is no way they could ever sink to the level of the train wreck that aired Sunday known as the “Teen Choice Awards.”

I was actually on my computer updating this blog with the WGN re-run of “24” playing in the other room when a friend of mine called me to ask if I was watching them. Apparently, Nelly Furtado (after performing “Promiscuous”) had just told the audience to be sure to wear a condom if they were promiscuous. This statement came while three girls in bikinis played around in a hot tub at the front of the stage.

But it got worse. As my friend and I kept watching, we saw Dane Cook grope a mannequin he said was modeled after Jessica Alba (FOX quickly cut away.) and then listened to him tell a girl modeling sponsor JCPenney’s clothes that she would be pregnant by the end of the night. Headliner Kevin Federline’s “performance” was so obscene, most of it was dead silence as the network was forced to censor him (We were probably better off.).

Yes, you read it correctly. These were the “Teen Choice Awards.” And this was FOX, not MTV.

I don’t know which was worse—that 14-year-olds were subjected to this or that FOX was actually airing it. FOX, the home of this year’s most Emmy-nominated series!!!

FOX has always been the maverick of the four networks (which is one of the reasons I love it), but I think this, as Michael Kors would say, “definitely stepped over the boundary of taste.” Let’s hope they find their way back next year before its their turn to host the Emmys.

The Emmys: Just hand out the awards, would ya?!

As far as awards show go, the Emmys are not one of your most memorable.

That is, unless they do something ridiculous like last year’s “Emmy Idol.” In my opinion, the Emmy telecast itself has not been entertaining since the last time NBC broadcast the awards in 2002 when Conan O’Brien was the host.

So then you’ll understand when I say I’m cautiously optimistic that this year’s telecast will be a good one since it’s back on NBC with Conan as the host—albeit a little earlier than usual thanks to the NFL.

So what does Conan have planned for us? Reports are that he taped a segment with Kiefer Sutherland and Mary Lynn Rajskub on the set of “24” and a segment with an actor from one of the “snubbed” shows. I like the sound of that already; but, of course, there are some additional things planned that will no doubt mess things up. Here’s what we’ll see according to “USA Today”:

A musical tribute to Dick Clark, hosted by Simon Cowell and featuring Barry Manilow singing the “American Bandstand” theme. Clark will also appear.
A tribute to the new TV “golden age.” Candice Bergen will host the two-and-a-half minute segment spotlighting 75 current cable and broadcast shows.
An acknowledgement of technology by showing the nominees for one category on cellphones and iPods held by members of the audience.

“USA Today” did not mention the previously announced tribute to Aaron Spelling, so I don’t know if it’s still planned or if it was scrapped due to the Tori-Candy feud.

None of these things are as stupid as “Emmy Idol,” but I’m not sure they’re all that necessary either. I agree that Dick Clark deserves to be saluted, but the timing seems a little off to me and a musical tribute just sounds corny. As for the “golden age” segment, I could’ve sworn the whole three-hour telecast was meant to acknowledge what’s good about TV. I wonder if this is the producers’ way of appeasing people from the “snubbed” shows. As for the technology bit, why can’t they just hand out the awards!

One of the things I hate most about the Emmys is that they take so long with the stupid “entertaining” stuff, that by the time they get to the final categories, they stop showing clips from the nominees. Since I don’t watch all of the shows, it would be nice to see the actors’ work; but I guess it’s more important to see the cast of “Will & Grace” pretend to be singers and dancers on “Bandstand” (I don’t actually know that’s going to happen, I’m just speculating.).

The Emmys (and every other awards show, for that matter) should take their cues from the Golden Globes. No host, no comedy monologues. Just awards and genuinely heartfelt and funny acceptance speeches with real spontaneous moments.

Not that I don’t love Conan hanging out on the set of “24,” because I do. I just don’t want to have to see Donald Trump singing in overalls again.

The Emmy Awards air this Sunday at 8 p.m. on NBC.

"Super Hero": A "Major" Disappointment?

So last week, the cute and endearing reality show known as “Who Wants to Be a Super Hero?” came very close to seriously ticking me off as my favorite, Major Victory, was nearly eliminated—twice.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if Stan Lee had given an actual excuse for putting him on the chopping block. But instead, he told him he had a problem keeping his clothes on when he took his cape off so two elderly women could walk on it and again to connect with a felon during a challenge. “Would Superman take off his cape?” Stan asked.

Well, I don’t know about Superman, but Batman did it all the time if he needed it as a weapon. Personally, I think Stan was just trying to create some more tension (I know it got me.) before he eliminated the people who actually deserved it—Creature and Lemuria.

The challenges were clever this week as well as The Dark Enforcer interviewed the heroes’ family and friends to get dirt on each of them—which eliminated Creature when she was caught lying (not to mention that she had jaywalked earlier in the show)—and then the four remaining heroes had to perform secret tasks while talking to a convicted felon. Lemuria was eliminated when she failed to perform her secret task of sitting on the female felon’s lap. I kept waiting for the twist on that one, but apparently performance of the tasks (including rubbing shoulders, giving hugs and brushing hair out of the eyes) was what Stan was looking for. I’m willing to bet money that the felons were actors, but Stan never confessed.

With the final three standing alone—Feedback, Major Victory and Fat Momma—they each told Stan how much the experience has meant to them. Feedback got especially choked up as he told Stan, “You’re like a father to me,” since he used Stan’s comic books to help him deal with the death of his father.

At the end of tonight’s episode, there will be only two heroes remaining. The previews show even Stan getting choked up by the elimination. That makes me think it might be Feedback; but since I’m not having very good luck this week (Robert, what were you thinking!), I have a bad feeling I’m going to be in for a Major disappointment.

“Who Wants to Be a Super Hero?” airs tonight (Thursday) at 9 p.m. on the SciFi Channel.

The phenomenon known as "High School Musical"

There are certain words that we use so much they lose their meaning. Phenomenon is one of those.

But there is truly no other word to describe the juggernaut known as Disney’s “High School Musical.”

If you’re one of the few people on the planet who haven’t seen the tale of the jock guy and the smart girl “Breaking Free” to audition for their high school musical, then you have another shot tonight on the Disney Channel. Tonight’s airing will be used to promote the premiere of “Cheetah Girls 2,” the sequel to the 2003 Disney Channel smash.

So how big is “HSM”? According to a NINE-PAGE article in the July 24th issue of “Newsweek” (which should be one indication), in the 12 times the movie aired between January and April, 36.5 million UNIQUE viewers tuned in (That’s not counting people who watched it more than once!). On the day of its release, the DVD sold 400,000 copies (Yes, I have one.) and the soundtrack is the top selling CD of the year (Yes, I have one of those too.). You can buy “HSM” t-shirts, bags and buttons through Limited Too and starting this fall, you’ll be able to buy even more merchandise at stores like Macy’s and Kohl’s.

And don’t be surprised to see “HSM” coming to a local high school near you this year. According to “Newsweek,” when Disney posted word of the coming theatrical licenses, the web site was flooded with 15,000 inquiries on the FIRST DAY! The first printing of sheet music for the movie sold out and is currently selling at a rate of 8000 folios per month!

And don’t expect the hoopla to die down anytime soon as the Disney machine continues to carefully map out the stars’ careers, much like the old studio system in 1940s. Lucas Grabeel (Ryan) and Corbin Bleu (Chad) are already working on new Disney Channel movies, Monique Coleman (Taylor) will compete on “Dancing With the Stars” this fall, Ashley Tisdale (Sharpay) is one of the stars of the Disney hit show, “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” and has a recording contract with Warner Bros., Zac Efron (Troy) will next play Link in the film version of “Hairspray” and Vanessa Anne Hudgens (Gabriella) is working on a music career and will debut her new video during Friday’s airing of “Cheetah Girls 2.”

Plus, they’ll all be back for the sequel next summer, where the action will shift to a country club owned by Sharpay’s grandfather. And, of course, the club will stage a musical so the competition between Troy and Gabriella and Ryan and Sharpay can begin anew. Early word is that Ryan may turn on his sister this time around.

If not for the premiere of “Prison Break,” I would’ve made this my pick of the week. Yes, the movie is aimed at 9-14 year olds, but it’s endearing enough to attract adults too. And the choreography is so good (by the Emmy-winning Kenny Ortega of “Dirty Dancing” fame), and the songs so catchy (especially the basketball-themed “Get Your Head in the Game”), you’ll want to join right in.

For you parents who are worried the movie may too be adult for your child, don’t. Though the movie is primarily a love story, Troy and Gabriella don’t even kiss. Ryan and Sharpay do sing a song about “shaking their booty,” but it’s all innocent fun; and they look ridiculous anyway.

“High School Musical” airs tonight (Thursday) at 8 on the Disney Channel.

My Emmy Predictions

Wow! Is it Thursday already? Where did this week go?

I had intended to have this posted by last night, but I ended up going out. And then I had to watch “Project Runway.” And if you saw that last night, then you know I was too upset to do anything else.

But I’ll have more on that later. This post is all about my predictions for the Emmys.

Since most of you have never seen my predictions before, here’s how I do it. I pick who I think will win, a Wild Card (i.e. the spoiler who could upset my pick) and then who I want to win.

My big achievement last year was correctly predicting that Felicity Huffman would win for best actress in a comedy, when everyone thought it would go to Teri Hatcher.

So after scouring over all of the critic’s opinions and episode submissions here are my predictions for the major categories Sunday night…

Actor, Comedy Series
Larry David, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
Kevin James, “The King of Queens”
Tony Shalhoub, “Monk”
Steve Carell, “The Office”
Charlie Sheen, “Two and a Half Men”

My Pick: Steve Carell. In my opinion, this is one of the few sure things this year.
Wild Card: Charlie Sheen. He’s gaining momentum in a more traditional sitcom.
Want to Win: Sheen. I’m a big fan. Plus, the last time he won an award, Kiefer won too (Golden Globes)!

Actress, Comedy Series:
Lisa Kudrow, “The Comeback”
Jane Kaczmarek, “Malcolm in the Middle”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “The New Adventures of Old Christine”
Stockard Channing, “Out of Practice”
Debra Messing, “Will & Grace”

My Pick: In probably the weirdest category this year, I’m going with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who will be honored for finally breaking the “Seinfeld” curse.
Wild Card: In this one, they’re pretty much all wild cards but I’m going with Lisa Kudrow who is a past winner that is getting A LOT of buzz for this one.
Want to Win: Jane Kaczmarek. This is her last chance so she deserves it. Plus, she really wants to win because she got the writers to write her an Emmy bait episode.

Supporting Actor, Comedy Series:
Will Arnett, “Arrested Development”
Jeremy Piven, “Entourage”
Bryan Cranston, “Malcolm in the Middle”
Jon Cryer, “Two and a Half Men”
Sean Hayes, “Will & Grace”

My Pick: Jeremy Piven. He was upset last year, but he’ll take it this year.
Wild Card: Sean Hayes. Nostalgia always weighs heavy at the Emmys.
Want to Win: Will Arnett. He was the funniest thing about the funniest show on TV.

Supporting Actress, Comedy
Cheryl Hines, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
Alfre Woodard, “Desperate Housewives”
Jaime Pressly, “My Name Is Earl”
Elizabeth Perkins, “Weeds”
Megan Mullally, “Will & Grace”

My Pick: Jaime Pressly. I’m going with her because she’s the most deserving and I’m going to have a little faith in the panels this year.
Wild Card: Megan Mullally. There’s that nostalgia thing again. Plus, she had some genuinely funny episodes.
Want to Win: Even though she played the character that brought the show to a grinding halt, the evil part of me would like to see Alfre Woodard win just for fun.

Comedy Series
“Arrested Development”
“Curb Your Enthusiasm”
“The Office”
“Scrubs”
“Two and a Half Men”

My Pick: “The Office.” It’s getting the most buzz from critics and anything with Steve Carell is really hot right now.
Wild Card: “Arrested Development.” The fact that it was even nominated shows that there are still people out there who want to honor it. But are there enough?
Want to Win: “Arrested,” of course. However, I would be okay with “Scrubs” just because it would be funny to see NBC scramble to honor a show they didn’t even bother to put on their fall schedule.

Actor, Drama Series:
Denis Leary, “Rescue Me”
Peter Krause, “Six Feet Under”
Kiefer Sutherland, “24”
Martin Sheen, “The West Wing”
Christopher Meloni, “Law & Order: SVU”

My Pick: Martin Sheen. It hurts to even type his name, because without James Gandolfini or James Spader, it should have been Kiefer’s year. But I feel nostalgia weighing very heavy here and Kiefer picked the wrong episode.
Wild Card: Denis Leary. Leary is a comedian handling meaty dramatic stuff (In his episode, his character deals with his son dying.) and Emmy loves that.
Want to Win: Do I even have to tell you? I’m still disappointed that Kiefer submitted the season premiere, but maybe he knew it wasn’t going to matter. However, if some of the same voters choose Actor and Supporting Actor (which is possible), then his chances will greatly improve. If he does win, it will be because of the respect he has earned from the acting community—not his episode.

Actress, Drama
Kyra Sedgwick, “The Closer”
Geena Davis, “Commander In Chief”
Mariska Hargitay, “Law & Order: SVU”
Frances Conroy, “Six Feet Under”
Allison Janney, “The West Wing”

My Pick: Kyra Sedgwick. She’s got the buzz and the respect.
Wild Card: Allison Janney. There’s that nostalgia thing again. And she’s won for lesser work.
Want to Win: No offense to Kyra Sedgwick—because I really like her—but I would love for Geena Davis to win and then tell off ABC in her acceptance speech.

Supporting Actor, Drama
William Shatner, “Boston Legal”
Oliver Platt, “Huff”
Michael Imperioli, “The Sopranos”
Gregory Itzin, “24”
Alan Alda, “The West Wing”

My Pick: Gregory Itzin. I hesitate to pick him because I don’t want to jinx his chances, and I’m a little afraid that he’s such a favorite; but he’s a respected character actor in the role of his career and I think Emmy will acknowledge that. I think one of his episode choices may have been the wrong one, but it’s still good enough to get him the win.
Wild Card: Alan Alda. A former winner with the nostalgia factor and actual talent? That’s pretty hard to beat. However, Alda did not submit the debate episode and I think that will cost him.
Want to Win: Itzin, even though I think it’s wrong that someone other than Kiefer will win “24”s first acting Emmy.

Supporting Actress, Drama
Candice Bergen, “Boston Legal”
Sandra Oh, “Grey’s Anatomy”
Chandra Wilson, “Grey’s Anatomy”
Blythe Danner, “Huff”
Jean Smart, “24”

My Pick: Jean Smart. Her chances are not as strong as Itzin’s, but they’re still pretty good. However, I think she may have made a mistake by not submitting one of the early “Martha’s crazy” episodes.
Wild Card: Sandra Oh. “Grey’s” is red-hot right now and Oh submitted an episode with an emotional breakdown.
Want to Win: Smart, of course.

Drama Series
“Grey’s Anatomy”
“House”
“The Sopranos”
“24”
“The West Wing”

My Pick: “The West Wing.” This really should be the year of “24,” but I think nostalgia is going to win out. Plus, any voter who sees the “Election Day, Part 2” episode of “Wing” (but not all of them will) cannot possibly vote against it.
Wild Card: “Grey’s Anatomy.” The only thing that can beat nostalgia is red-hot buzz. Plus, they rolled out the big guns for their submission tapes with the post-Super Bowl episode and the finale.
Want to Win: “24.” But since it carries the curse of being the most nominated series, it doesn’t stand a chance.

So who do you think is going to win? Let me know your thoughts.

Don’t forget that I am scheduled to start blogging Sunday night at 7:45, so be sure to join me!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Question of the Week: TV Theme Songs

I had a lot of fun last week reading your all-time favorite shows, so I thought I would stick with that same line of thought.

So here’s the Question of the Week: What’s your all-time favorite TV theme song?

I ask this question without even knowing my own answer. I am a HUGE fan of Mike Post (“The Rockford Files,” “The A-Team,” “Law & Order” and hundreds more) so it would have to be something by him. I would probably go with “Murder One,” but I always loved the theme to “Doogie Howser, M.D.” and the last version of the “Hunter” theme.

If I had to pick a theme with lyrics, I would definitely go with “Full House.”

So what theme song do you sing (or hum) around your house (Come on, you know you do.)?

And no show is too obscure. You’re talking to someone who still knows all the words to the theme to “The Hogan Family.”

“Life is such a sweet insanity…”

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

"First On FOX"

Though the official start of the fall TV season is not until September 18th (Happy Birthday to me!), FOX really got things started last night with the return of “Prison Break” and the premiere of “Vanished.”

I was a little surprised at some of the negative reviews “Prison Break” got from some TV critics—especially since the episode was better than anything they did last season (which was generally reviewed favorably). I guess all of the totally unbelievable plot twists to postpone the breakout (like part of Michael’s tattoo getting burned off in the tunnels) finally got the best of some people.

That’s why I really liked last night’s episode because it gave us “Break” fans the promise of something different.

Obviously there’s some concern that every week will be the same old “the FBI’s just around the corner” scenario, but I think the escapees going their separate ways will help diversify the story (especially when you see what they’ve got in store for Tweener).

I’m so glad the show decided not to kill off Sarah. I loved Michael leaving Sarah the origami swan (his calling card) with a message promising to make things right, opening the possibility of an actual romantic moment between the two. The chemistry between Wentworth Miller and Sarah Wayne Callies is nothing short of sizzling and the eventual reckoning between them will definitely be worth waiting for. When I watched the episode again last night, I noticed the dots underneath his words. My guess is that he’s left Sarah a coded message.

One couple that will not be reunited is Lincoln and Veronica (I promised you a shocker in the last five minutes.). I’ve never liked her, but watching Lincoln break down after hearing her death over the phone (You have to admit that was clever.), I almost shed a tear myself. I should have seen it coming because the rough cut of the premiere I saw did not have Robin Tunney in the opening credits (I went back and checked.). Apparently someone realized that and corrected the error for last night’s airing.

Veronica’s death does two things. Number one, it gives Lincoln no one on the outside (i.e. a non-felon) to help clear his innocence. Number two, it helps put aside the show’s worst storyline—the conspiracy to frame Lincoln. Whenever Veronica was on screen last season, the show ground to a halt. Her story made absolutely no sense most of the time and Tunney’s hushed attempt at a dramatic voice didn’t help any. “Break” has always been compared to “24,” so it’s nice to see the show use a “24” trademark (killing major characters) in such a good way.

I wouldn’t say that the conspiracy theory is over just yet, though, because I have a feeling that Agent Mahone is somehow involved with The Company. And what was up with that pill he was popping in the cemetery? You know that Michael’s all over that one.

Plus, I’ve got to believe that one of those government agents would check to see who Veronica was talking to on the phone.
Next week’s previews show Lincoln and Michael trying to break Lincoln’s son, L.J., out of Mahone’s custody. See what I mean about a whole new show?

As for “Vanished,” you’ll notice that I was pretty vague in my preview because I didn’t want to give anything away. It’s unfortunate that FOX did not follow my lead.

Every major clue that was uncovered in last night’s premiere was given away in a promo—especially the ones that aired during “Break”—except for the identity of the frozen body (although we did see the body in the previews and see the prayer card that was with it). Just by watching the promos you know that Sara Collins had disappeared before and she was pregnant, even though she had been told that wasn’t possible. And based on that, you knew it was only a matter of time before someone recognized her as another person (I was just glad that it was “Pepper Dennis” hottie Josh Hopkins that did.).

Now you know why I don’t watch “24” promos during the season.

The thing that sets “Vanished” apart from NBC’s “Kidnapped” (or at least we think) is the “Da Vinci Code” elements behind Sara Collins’ disappearance. So, FOX wants everyone to know that as soon as possible—even touting the “centuries-old conspiracy” in the promos when nothing like that (other than the prayer card) was introduced in the premiere.

As I said before, I’m going to give “Vanished” another couple of episodes before I draw any other conclusions. But if the mythology gets too complicated, it will vanish from my viewing schedule.

So if you watched either of these, tell me what you think. If you didn’t and I’ve peaked your curiosity, you can catch an encore of “Vanished” tonight (Tuesday) at 9 and an encore of “Prison Break” Wednesday at 9 p.m.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Some early congratulations...

Let’s start out our Emmy week coverage with some congratulations as the Creative Emmys were awarded over the weekend.

Most of these Emmys are for technical categories, but for some reason, the guest acting categories are also included in this one. I’ve never felt that was fair—especially since some of the guest actors are better known than the lead actors.

But nevertheless, congratulations to Leslie Jordan, who played Beverly Leslie on “Will & Grace,” Cloris Leachman, who played Ida on “Malcolm in the Middle,” Patricia Clarkson who played Aunt Sarah on “Six Feet Under” and Christian Clemenson, who played Jerry “Hands” Espenson on “Boston Legal.” Leachman’s win makes her Emmy’s most honored actress, passing Mary Tyler Moore.

I am especially happy with Clemenson’s win. I thought Michael J. Fox was a lock to win, and I would’ve been happy with that, but Clemenson’s performance was actually stronger. It gives me hope that the Emmys might actually know what they’re doing this year.

Also congratulations to “The Simpsons,” which beat out the Tom Cruise episode of “South Park” to take Outstanding Animated Program (less than one hour), and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” for winning Outstanding Reality Program. They’re saving the Reality Competition Program award for the main telecast (which isn’t very fair either).

Congrats to the phenomenon known as “High School Musical,” which took home two awards: Outstanding Children’s Program and Outstanding Choreography.

And BIG congrats to David Latham of “24” for his win for Single Camera Picture Editing for a Drama (I’m hoping this bodes well for Jon Cassar since he directed the same episode.) and the fabulous Sean Callery for winning Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore) for the “24” finale. This is his second Emmy for his amazing work on “24.”

If you would like to see the Creative Arts Emmys, E! is showcasing them in a two-hour special Saturday, August 26th at 8 p.m.

You're Invited...

As you know if you read this blog on a regular basis, Emmy night is a big night in the Henderson household. I mean, I don’t put on a formal gown or anything, but I get pretty revved up about it.

So, I thought this year I’d invite all of you to join me.

No, I’m not throwing a giant party at my house—my apartment is WAY too small for that. I’m inviting you to join me right here on-line as I blog the Emmys as they happen!

This could very well be the craziest thing I’ve ever done, so I’m still not completely sure how it’s going to work. My plan is to at least update the blog every commercial break, which would be about every 15 minutes. And when I can, I’ll update it after each award.

As always, you’re welcome to join in at any time by posting a comment. I’ll get to it just as soon as I can.

Now remember, this plan is barring any cable or electrical outages (which will force me to go Jack Bauer on somebody) or any problems with Blogger. If during the telecast you don’t hear from me for a while, then you know that either Blogger is down or Kiefer Sutherland has just appeared on screen and I’ve lost all train of thought.

And if the critics are right and Kiefer really does win Best Actor in a Drama, there will be a long pause as I jump around the room.

To get us in the mood, I’ll have plenty of preview stuff this week, including all of the controversies, what we can expect from the show AND, of course, I’ll give you my predictions on Thursday so you’ll still have plenty of time to place your bets in Vegas (or at least the office pool).

The Emmy Awards begin at 8 p.m. this Sunday, August 27th. The red carpet coverage begins at 3 p.m. (!) on both E! and TV Guide Channel, but NBC will have an hour special that should have all the major stars at 7 p.m. I’ll start blogging around 7:45 p.m., so be sure to join me then!

Do I even have to tell you?

Stay tuned…

Sunday, August 20, 2006

"Justice": Fall's First Must-See

The press releases for the new fall shows have given us some interesting descriptions. So, I’m going to try one myself.

If “CSI” and “Law & Order” married, and then went to the dark side, their child would be “Justice.”

And since it’s too early to declare a best new drama, I’ll just tell you that “Justice” is the fall’s first must-see new show.

From the hit-making mind of Jerry Bruckheimer, “Justice” follows the law firm of Trott, Nicholson, Tuller and Graves as we see the inner workings of what it takes to mount a defense. The show adds a special twist as at the end of the show, after the verdict is read, we see what actually happens and whether or not the client is really innocent.

Ron Trott (Victor Garber) is the face of the firm. He uses the media to spin their case and makes sure that all of the little psychological details get taken care of. Trott’s a brilliant attorney, but he’s not a people person. Juries hate him so Tom Nicholson (Kerr Smith), the “All-American face of not guilty,” leads the team in the courtroom. Alden Tuller (Rebecca Mader) handles the forensic evidence and Luther Graves (Eamonn Walker) pulls it all together with strategy and research.

In the premiere, TNT&G defends Kevin O’Neill, who is accused of murdering his wife by beating her in the head with a golf club. The firm’s first task is to deal with the DA turning the high profile case into a media circus (which they do quite cleverly). Then they get down to business as we see them search through the discovery documents and compose their arguments. Next they test those arguments with a focus group to see what kind of jurors they want. Then they try and pick those jurors with the help of a consultant. It all comes together in the courtroom with the help of a shadow jury who give their opinions as the case unfolds.

This case, though, gets tricky as the DA tries to sneak some evidence past the firm. Nicholson makes a risky move during jury selection and Tuller tries to get her favorite forensic witness to speak so a jury can actually understand him.

Helping fit all the pieces together is “American Justice” anchor Suzanne Fulcrum, who helps fill in the gaps by recapping all of the evidence and theories. She also has an interesting relationship with Trott as they use each other to help enhance their individual success.

The show is nicely put together as it moves quickly between each phrase of the defense’s case. Following the “Law & Order” format, there’s very little extraneous story though there’s plenty of potential for that later.

But “Justice”s greatest asset is its outstanding cast. After five years of playing good guy Jack Bristow on “Alias,” Garber is right at home playing a slick media hog (a more intense version of the character he played in “Legally Blonde”). This role was custom made for Garber and he knocks it out of the park. Walker is beautifully cast as the super slick Graves and Smith adds just the right touch as Nicholson, the firm’s conscience. Plus, Smith’s excellent chemistry with Mader just screams office romance for Nicholson and Tuller.

A show like “Justice” is nothing new for Jerry Bruckheimer, but in a fall season full of new serialized shows, it’s actually a breath of fresh air.

If you’re a fan of crime procedurals or you just like your shows to wrap things up in an hour, you’ll love “Justice.” But even if you’re more of a serialized fan (like me), I think you’ll love it too.

“Justice” premieres Wednesday, August 30th at 9 p.m. on FOX.

Pick of the Week: "Prison Break"

My previous Picks of the Week have been solely based on critical buzz and what I think sounds interesting. So sometimes it’s a little hard.

But this week’s pick was easy since it’s something I’ve actually seen and I know you won’t want to miss.

This week’s Pick of the Week is “Prison Break.”

If you didn’t watch “Break” last season, don’t worry, because the show is now completely different. Plus the premiere finds a way to cleverly catch everyone up within the first five minutes (or you can just scroll down for my recap of last season).

If you tuned out “Break” last year because of all the stalling, you’ll want to jump back in this season. Don’t believe me? Just catch those last five minutes.

“Prison Break” airs Monday (August 21st) at 8 p.m. on FOX. For a complete preview, scroll down to my post, “Join the Manhunt!”

Is "Vanished" Worth a Look?

The reviews for “Vanished” have not been all that strong, so quite frankly, I didn’t expect to like what I saw.

It was nice to see I was wrong.

Now I’m not ready to declare the show the next “24” or anything and compared to the season premiere of “Prison Break,” it’s a bit of a letdown. But I found the characters and story interesting enough to keep me watching.

The show wastes absolutely no time getting started as we meet Sara Collins, the wife of Senator Jeffrey Collins (John Allen Nelson). She’s acting mysterious and then tells her husband she has something to tell him. But before she gets the chance, she vanishes from an event in her honor.

FBI Agent Graham Kelton (Gale Harold) is brought in to head the investigation in his first case since he lost a young kidnapping victim in a rescue attempt. It’s not long before he and his partner (Ming Na) realize there’s lots more to the case than meets the eye.

Senator Collins’ daughter Marcie adds to the intrigue with her mysterious boyfriend and by the end of the hour, even his son Max appears to have a secret.

The best (and most interesting) character is Judy Nash (Rebecca Gayheart), a television reporter, who plans to use the story to further her career. She and her cameraman (who she’s sleeping with) help provide the exposition as her reports recap the clues.

The premiere is so chock full of action I can’t help but wonder how the show plans to sustain itself for 22 episodes. But unlike NBC’s “Kidnapped,” “Vanished” creates a lot more possibilities for making that happen by introducing the shadowy conspiracy behind it all right away.

The glaring problem I see is some of the casting. Ming Na is a little too stiff and Harold just doesn’t strike a chord with me. One TV critic said that if “Vanished” had the cast of “Kidnapped,” you’d have a great show and I agree—with one exception. John Allen Nelson acts rings around Timothy Hutton and this role may finally make me forget he was Paul the Wine Guy in the first episode of “Friends” (No, not even his role as Walt on “24” did that.). And I would definitely keep Rebecca Gayheart.

Unfortunately for both “Kidnapped” and “Vanished” because of their similarities, they will always be linked. FOX is wisely premiering “Vanished” first and it clearly has the stronger pilot. I hesitate to say it’s the stronger show because I’m still recovering from the burns I received from “Reunion” last season, when I declared it the year’s best new drama after only the pilot.

Which is the danger of getting involved with a serialized show. You can never know if it’s headed in the right direction. But I’m willing to give this one the benefit of the doubt—for now.
“Vanished” premieres Monday, August 21st at 9 p.m. on FOX

"Fantasia": Definitely NOT a "Fairy Tale"

When I said that the reviews of “The Fantasia Barrino Story: Life Is Not a Fairy Tale” had been mixed, I was actually being kind. All of the reviews but one were extremely negative.

I’d like to know what that one critic was watching.

Robert LoBianco of “USA Today” compared it to “From Justin to Kelly.” I consider that a huge insult to Justin and Kelly.

There’s no way around it. This movie is horrible. Yes, Fantasia had a hard life which is probably worthy of a Lifetime movie—but not this one. The writing is lousy, the direction is sloppy and it’s poorly edited together.

But the biggest problem is Fantasia herself. I can’t believe Debbie Allen (the director) would allow this movie to be made with someone who can’t act. Apparently, Fantasia thinks that speaking in a hushed voice is more dramatic and apparently Allen did nothing to convince her otherwise.

It’s fairly obvious now why she didn’t get the role in “Dreamgirls.”

However, in Fantasia’s defense, Allen didn’t assemble the best supporting cast to help her out. Kadeem Hardison starts out okay as her dad, but as the character gets darker, his “frightening” rage comes off as ridiculous, as Hardison is not able to handle the meatier material.

Buzz for the movie was created by the controversy about whether or not “Idol” producers asked Fantasia to quit. That’s not exactly how it happens in the movie (They just give her the option.), but it’s clear to me the writers were only taking dramatic license. The bigger controversy should have been the complete waste of the “American Idol” clips. We saw her performance of ‘Summertime,” but not the original where she cried and Simon told her she was the American Idol. And though we got to see Ryan name her the winner, we did not see her performance of “I Believe,” which really could have been the perfect ending to the movie.

The ending we do get makes absolutely no sense. We see Fantasia come home to North Carolina where she gets a nice pep talk from a potential new boyfriend and then the scene immediately cuts to Fantasia singing a clip of “God Bless the Child” with movie clips playing behind her. Then it cuts back to her reading Dr. Seuss to her daughter in her pre-“Idol” apartment. As I said, no sense. If this was the story of her triumph, it should have ended with her triumph.

I don’t think this movie will hurt Fantasia’s career, but I think it should make her realize her career is in singing and not acting. And it should make Lifetime realize it should never work with Debbie Allen again.

“The Fantasia Barrino Story: Life Is Not a Fairy Tale” airs again Monday, August 21st at 9 p.m. on Lifetime.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Join the Manhunt!

After seeing the final two episodes of “Invasion,” I was bummed that it was cancelled. But after seeing the season premiere of “Prison Break,” I am thrilled that ABC pulled the plug.

Because if they hadn’t, William Fichtner would have never joined the “Break” cast and that would have been a crime worthy of time in Fox River.

Fichtner is FBI agent Alexander Mahone, who we meet in the opening moments of the premiere. He immediately clashes with Captain Bellick, Warden Pope, and everyone else at the prison who believe it is their responsibility to bring the escapees back. But Mahone quickly establishes that he has the inside track as he starts to get inside Michael Scofield’s head and put the pieces of the escape plan together.

Meanwhile there’s friction among the escapees as Michael is forced to implement his back-up plans while he tries to stay ahead of both the authorities and the rest of the gang. Plus, T-Bag tries to deal with his Abruzzi-induced handicap on his own.

The fate of Dr. Tancredi is also revealed as her story takes a new, kind of unexpected direction. And we get some answers and some more questions about Terrence Steadman and the conspiracy that framed Lincoln.

If it feels like I’m being a little vague with my description, it’s because I don’t want to say anything that will give away the episode’s big twist. Taking a page straight from the “24” playbook, we get an ending that you won’t see coming and that will completely change the direction of the show.

What I can say is that within the first ten minutes of the episode, the entire tone of the show is changed—and that’s not a bad thing. Though the show was solid last season, it tended to drag as it looked for ways to postpone the inevitable escape. It’s clear that this season won’t know the meaning of the word drag as it gets off to a running start—literally.

I can also tell you that an arch nemesis for Michael is exactly what the show needed to take it to the next level and Fichtner is brilliant as he manages to majorly improve a cast that is already one of the best on television. I love the slightly sinister edge that he gives Mahone, which gives you some pause to question his real intentions.

The whole feel of the episode is good as well as they pepper quick flashback bursts throughout the hour. The direction, lighting and locations are all perfect and help add to the show’s new tone.

I enjoyed “Prison Break” last season, but this episode is better than anything they did last year, so I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

If you’re looking for a little excitement in your viewing schedule—or you’re just having serious “24” withdrawal—join the manhunt from the beginning. You won’t be sorry.

“Prison Break” premieres Monday, August 21st at 8 p.m. on FOX.

A "Fairy Tale" Reminder

Just a reminder that “The Fantasia Barrino Story: Life Is Not a Fairy Tale” will premiere Saturday (August 19th) at 9 p.m. on Lifetime.

The reviews have been a little mixed—especially when it comes to Fantasia’s performance—but in her defense, I can’t imagine it was easy to relive some of the brutal things that happened to her (I’m not sure I would have.).

Personally, I’m still horrified that Dwayne Wayne (Kadeem Hardison) is playing her father! That makes me feel so old…

Previously on "Prison Break"...

Before I give you a preview of the season premiere of “Prison Break,” I wanted to give you a quick recap of last season so you can jump right in—and believe me you’re going to want to.

Lincoln Burrows fell into the wrong crowd trying to get enough money for his brother, Michael Scofield, to attend college after their dad split on them. To pay off the debt, he was told to kill Terrence Steadman, the brother of the Vice President of the United States. Lincoln called Michael for help, but Michael was hanging out with Lincoln’s ex-girlfriend, Veronica (nothing happened, by the way). So, Lincoln agreed to do the job, but when he showed up at the parking garage to commit the crime, Steadman was already dead. However, the garage security tape showed Lincoln actually shooting Steadman and so he was convicted and sentenced to death.

After discovering that Lincoln had paid for his college, Michael vowed to find a way to get him out. A structural engineer, Michael worked for the company who built Fox River Penitentiary where Lincoln was imprisoned. So, he devised a plan to end up in Fox River himself so he could break Lincoln out. Inspired by a tattooed pizza delivery girl, Michael hid the prison blueprints and other elements of his escape in an elaborate tattoo that covered most of his body. Then, he committed an armed robbery and was convicted and sentenced to Fox River (He never actually robbed anyone, he just fired the guns so he would definitely get time.). Once inside, he started carrying out his plot and meeting up with the other prisoners that would become his fellow escapees...

Fernando Sucre was Michael’s cellmate. Michael let him in on the plan so he could be a lookout while Michael went through the tunnels at night. At first, Sucre was reluctant to play along and actually got switched to another cell; but when he discovered that his fiancé was pregnant and planned to marry another man, he got back in on the plan.

John Abruzzi was a mob boss convicted on the testimony of a mob informant named Fibonacci. To get Abruzzi to put him on PI duty (to allow him to roam more freely) and to provide transportation away from the prison, Michael offered him Fibonacci’s location—but only after the escape.

Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell was the leader of the white supremacists of the prison, who liked to stay in the company of younger inmates. During a prison riot that Michael helped to start, T-Bag discovered Michael’s plot and Michael was forced to let him in on the plan. When Abruzzi tried to threaten T-Bag into backing out, T-Bag slit his throat, sending Abruzzi to the hospital and presumed death.

Benjamin “C-Note” Franklin was dishonorably discharged from the army after he reported an officer for improper conduct. He was arrested for transporting stolen goods, a job he took to support his wife and daughter. To hide the truth from them, C-Note told them he was shipped to Iraq, even sending Iraqi postcards from prison. He was also not part of the original plan, but was let in after he figured out what Michael was doing.

David “Tweener” Apolskis was an expert pickpocket who helped Michael get his watch back from one of the guards. One of the Prison COs, Bellick, used Tweener to try and get information on Scofield (who Bellick didn’t trust) but when he didn’t give him anything worthwhile, Bellick had Tweener transferred to a cell with a “friendly” cellmate. Michael, feeling sorry for him and owing him for the watch, let him in on the plan; but Tweener told Bellick, almost ruining the escape.

Charles “Haywire” Patoshik was Michael’s cellmate when Sucre was transferred. Mentally unstable and refusing to take his meds, Haywire was able to see the plans in Michael’s tattoo. Michael was able to make it look like Haywire was beating him and Haywire was put into the psych ward. But when part of Michael’s tattoo was burnt off in a freak accident, he got into the psych ward and convinced Haywire to reconstruct the tattoo for him after tricking him into thinking he’d be part of the escape.

Charles Westmoreland was Fox River’s longest serving inmate. Michael was convinced that he was the famous D.B. Cooper and tried to convince him to go along with the escape for his money. Westmoreland convinced Michael that he was wrong. However, when Westmoreland’s daughter became terminally ill and he was denied the ability to visit her, he revealed that he was indeed Cooper and joined the escape plan.

There were also prison employees that were part of Michael’s plan…

Henry Pope is Fox River’s warden. Seeing something in Michael that he liked, Pope asked Michael to help him construct a replica of the Taj Mahal for his anniversary, which allowed Michael both leeway and access.

Captain Brad Bellick is a CO at Fox River who despised Michael from the beginning, even getting the scoop on Michael’s green card wife (also part of the escape plan). He kept Abruzzi the head of PI because of bribes he received from Abruzzi’s mob friends.

Dr. Sara Tancredi was the doctor at Fox River. The governor’s daughter, Sara is a recovering drug addict. Because the infirmary was key to Michael’s plan, he faked diabetes so he could go there every day for insulin shots. Sara ended up falling for Michael and tried to help him whenever she could—including asking her father for clemency for Lincoln.

Outside the prison, the conspiracy began to unfold as Veronica investigated Lincoln’s case with the help of Nick, a fellow attorney. At the heart of it was The Company, a shadowy group that framed Lincoln to get back at his and Michael’s father, who once worked for them. The Company was trying to get Terrence Steadman out of the way after his company started causing trouble for them

As part of their operation, The Company killed Lincoln’s ex-wife and her husband, framing Lincoln’s son, L.J. L.J. was able to get away and join Veronica and Nick. But eventually he went after the Company agent that killed his mother and stepfather and was caught by the police.

Also involved was Vice President Reynolds, whose Presidential campaign was backed by The Company. But when she fell out of favor with them, The Company tried to have her killed. However, it was the President who died and Reynolds ended up taking over, leaving The Company scrambling to get back into her good graces.

Nick was revealed to be keeping tabs on Veronica for Abruzzi so he would have leverage on Michael. But when Nick balked at delivering Veronica to Abruzzi, he was killed. Veronica continued to follow their lead on a house in Blackfoot, Montana, where she came face to face with Terrence Steadman.

After a botched escape attempt and a near execution of Lincoln, it was time to make another run for it. This time, however, Bellick was hot on their trail because of Tweener, but Westmoreland was able to get him out of the way by trapping him in the escape tunnel—seriously injuring himself in the process.

To get Lincoln out of solitary, Michael threatened Pope into having him moved to the infirmary, and then tied him up in his office closet. Michael asked Sara to leave the infirmary door unlocked. Disillusioned by her father’s failure to intercede on Lincoln’s behalf due to his own political ambitions (He was on the VP candidate list.) and her feelings for Michael, Sara complied. However, she felt so guilty that she later overdosed.

This time, the guys had to go through the psych ward, where they, of course, ran into Haywire. So as not to hinder the escape, Haywire was allowed to join the gang, which now included Michael, Lincoln, Sucre, Sucre’s cousin, C-Note, T-Bag, Westmoreland, Tweener and the newly returned Abruzzi. Westmoreland, though, realized he wasn’t going to make it and before he died, told Michael (and most of the others who were in the room) where the money was buried in Utah.

Pope and Bellick were discovered and the alarm was sounded, but all of them got over the wall except for Sucre’s cousin. The group headed for the airstrip where they would board Abruzzi’s jet, not realizing that Abruzzi had never planned to take all of them. However, Michael told Tweener to go another way as his punishment for ratting them out to Bellick. The group was also able to leave Haywire behind. T-Bag, fearing that Abruzzi would seek retribution, handcuffed himself to Michael and swallowed the key. In a tool shed along the way, they tried to find something to cut the handcuffs apart but were unsuccessful. Abruzzi, angry for the delay it was causing and wanting to get revenge on T-Bag, took an ax and cut off T-Bag’s hand. Not being able to deal with T-Bag’s situation, the group left him in the shed.

Meanwhile, the police were hassling Abruzzi’s men at the airstrip, and getting nervous, they took off, just as the group approached. With Bellick and the other authorities hot on their heels, the gang started running…

Friday Free-For-All: August 18, 2006

Can it really be Friday again already?

So here’s what’s on my mind this morning…

Just got a look at the two newest additions to the cast of “Law and Order”: Milena Govich, who will play the show’s first female detective and Alana De La Garza, who will be the new ADA. Dick Wolf, the show’s creator, is hoping this will spice things up.

I think De La Garza, last seen as the ill-fated Marisol on “CSI: Miami” is an excellent choice, but Govich, last seen on the ill-fated “Conviction,” is just too young and quite frankly, too female. I realize that there are male-female combinations on the other two “L&O” shows, but for me, the original should have two wise-cracking guys. Feel free to call me gender-biased if you want to…

So Benji Schwimmer won “So You Think You Can Dance” and Bianca Ryan won “America’s Got Talent.” I didn’t watch either show, but if you did, feel free to sound off on the winners…

Anything else on your minds today? Let’s hear it…

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Special Package

When I arrived home last night, amongst my numerous Amazon.com packages was a mysterious white package.

It didn’t look like anything I had ordered and I didn’t recognize the company, which was out of Burbank. At the bottom of the mailing label were the words “Re: Fall DVD Preview.” Obviously I was intrigued, so I opened the box as quickly as possible.

I couldn’t believe what was inside. Underneath a letter from FOX and “TV Guide” were DVDs of the season premieres of all of the new FOX fall shows AND the season premieres of “Prison Break,” “Bones” and “House.”

As Frank Barone always said, “Holy crap!” I’m not ashamed to admit I did a little dance around the room.

So this means that you can stay tuned for previews of FOX’s new shows and your returning favorites, starting with the return of “Prison Break.”

Have I mentioned that I love “TV Guide” and FOX? Just wanted to be sure to get that in there in case they’d like to leave me any more special packages…

Stay tuned…

"Runway": Taking Out the Trash

When Tim Gunn, Chair of Fashion Design for Parsons the New School for Design agreed to participate in “Project Runway,” I can’t believe he ever thought he’d be standing in the middle of a waste management facility watching people scour through garbage. But that is exactly what he was doing on last night’s episode.

Technically, the material wasn’t garbage, it was “recyclable materials”—paper, plastic and metal—but still!

The challenge was for the designers to create a wearable outfit from these materials and they only had 10 hours to complete it. Surprisingly, it was Alison and Kayne that showed early troubles. Alison struggled with colored strips of paper, trying to make them into a skirt, but realized too late in the game that they weren’t going to work and had to quickly change her entire design. Kayne went a little too far with his green dye and the bottle caps he had wasted so much time collecting. When Tim came in later that night, it was Kayne and Alison he criticized the most, encouraging Kayne to completely eliminate the bottle cap-covered skirt (Excellent call!) and trying to get Alison to think about her model (who was larger than the others). Tim also had problems with Vincent’s “art” dress, especially since he only decorated one side.

For the first time since the premiere, there were no Angela traumas and because we didn’t see anything about Robert’s dress before the runway, I knew he was going to be okay—and he was.

When it was time for the runway, there were more problems. Alison decided to give her model a bow made of hair, which made her look like Minnie Mouse and Kayne gave his model a horrendous make-up look with the ugliest green eye shadow I’ve ever seen (The hair was even worse.). Vincent’s model couldn’t even walk because he had concentrated too much on the art aspect of it and not enough on its wearability.

When it came to decision time, the favorites were Michael, Laura and Jeffrey. Jeffrey had criticized the simplicity of Laura’s dress, but the judges loved it. I didn’t really quite understand Michael’s design—especially the plastic bag wrap—but the judges were crazy for it and praised his innovation. The judges also showered praise on Jeffrey’s colored newspaper dress—especially Michael Kors. In the end, the winner was Michael. Personally, I preferred Jeffrey’s, but since he’s so annoying, I didn’t mind. He actually had the nerve to say that Michael’s had no flavor. What?! I didn’t like it, but nothing Michael does is without flavor.

The bottom three were, of course, Kayne, Vincent and Alison. Kayne completely redid the skirt, which helped tremendously, but it was still ridiculous and his model looked horrible. Vincent’s model barely made it down the runway in his design and if I heard him say one more time how much his dress turned him on, I was going to be sick. Alison’s, as Michael Kors said, was a “total nightmare.” It fit horribly, the design didn’t make sense, the hair was ridiculous—it was plain awful. Kayne was the first to be “in.” but for some reason the show felt it necessary to dub in Heidi saying “just barely.” If he was the third lowest, how did he just barely make it? His was clearly the best of the three, even if Michael Kors did say he crossed the boundary of taste. With only Vincent and Alison remaining, Alison was eliminated.

Personally, I think it was Vincent who needed to go. Yes, Alison’s was a train wreck and no, she didn’t think about the female body. But based on all of her work throughout the entire show, she deserved to stay more than Vincent. It’s clear to me that he’s only there because he makes for good TV.

Next week’s previews show the return of Angela traumas, courtesy of Jeffrey. But if I was him, I would steer clear since Michael and Angela are now friends. I feel quite certain Michael could take him.

Stay tuned…

"Super Hero": A True Believer Once Again

If I were a contestant on “Who Wants to Be a Super Hero?” Stan Lee should have already eliminated me for disloyalty after my previous post, because I am happy to report that I was too quick to proclaim the show’s demise.

I was concerned that bringing a super villain into the mix would make the show resemble a professional wrestling match, but instead it has once again come off as totally endearing.

Plus, I learned a valuable lesson during this episode—people are not always very bright.

The show began with the heroes being introduced to their new enemy, The Dark Enforcer. TyVeculus, trying to sound like an actual super hero yelled “What is this treachery?” which was actually pretty funny. The new twist did exactly what it was intended to do, which was turn the heroes against one another as they debated The Iron Enforcer’s switch. Lemuria got in a heated discussion with the others about how she will do whatever it takes to win. I figured that Stan was listening and that she would be singled out for elimination; but Stan had something else in mind.

The first challenge was to go to a diner and buy lunch. Stan would then see if the heroes made the right food choices. Sounds really stupid right? But as Feedback pointed out, it was a trap, and all but two of the heroes fell right into it.

Before Stan could see the lunch choices, the Dark Enforcer interrupted to tell Stan that he had learned some things about the heroes with his hidden camera. Of course, it was the producers and not any super villain who came up with the plan; but it was actually kind of cute how they pinned it on him (Stan was right. He is a good villain.).

In the diner were a waiter and a waitress whose sole purpose (other than to take orders) was to get the heroes to tell their secret identity. Because most of the contestants were slightly embarrassed about being dressed in a costume in a public place, they gave up their names rather easily and also admitted that they were doing a reality show. Only Feedback and Fat Momma did not reveal their real names.

However, Monkey Woman gave up her name without even being asked. And when the waiter asked her how he could get involved in a show like this, she wrote down some websites for him to check out—totally blowing her super hero persona. But that wasn’t the worst of it. When Stan asked her how she knew about these websites, she admitted that she was an actress. But she had told Stan in her initial audition that she was in real estate, probably fearing that an actress wouldn’t be chosen. Monkey Woman pleaded to stay, but she was, of course, eliminated.

The next challenge was for the heroes to walk from rooftop to rooftop across a narrow beam to rescue a woman from a “burning” building. The heroes were freaked, especially Lemuria, about how dangerous this challenge was. They were sent back to the loft while the beam was being constructed, but when they each went to go back to the roof, they were confronted by The Dark Enforcer, who blindfolded them—which freaked them out even more.

But they had no reason to worry, because the beam was actually on solid ground on top of the roof and they were rescuing the screaming woman’s twin sister—which was revealed to them when they removed their blindfold. They all finished the challenge so I was wondering if Stan would consider their reactions to the con to determine the person who would be eliminated.

But he had something else in mind. He asked each one of them to stand and say who they would eliminate. Creature immediately stood up and said she would eliminate herself. Stan did his best acting job to seem surprised by her answer, but that was, of course, what he wanted them to do. One by one, they all followed Creature’s lead and offered to be eliminated. But then, TyVeculus—like a total moron—stood up and announced he would eliminate Lemuria because of her lack of self-control. It was bad enough that TyVeculus didn’t understand the challenge (maybe he thought it was an honesty challenge) but his argument made absolutely no sense! When Lemuria had the chance to defend herself, she wisely went with the others and picked herself. As Fat Momma prepared to pick herself, telling Stan that she wasn’t ready to leave, Stan insisted that it was important to find out who she would pick, so she chose Feedback for his personal safety since he took the competition so seriously (which even he admitted during his speech).

Then, it was time for an elimination, and only TyVeculus and Fat Momma were called to the cubes since they were the only ones who said anyone. However, Stan recognized that Fat Momma picked someone out of compassion and so Stan eliminated TyVeculus. The group was devastated. First Major Victory and then Feedback and Fat Momma left their cubes to say goodbye to TyVeculus. Fat Momma returned to her cube and told Stan that she would rather he had picked her because now her spirit was broken.

Back at the lair, Fat Momma criticized the others for their “fake” speeches and Lemuria once again insisted that she would do anything to win. Major Victory tried to break up the fighting while dealing with the loss of TyVeculus.

Now there are only five heroes remaining: Major Victory, Feedback, Creature, Lemuria and Fat Momma. The dynamics have completely changed and the challenges are getting more and more interesting…

And yes, I am once again a true believer.

Excelsior!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Question of the Week: Your Favorite Shows

Last week’s question was kind of a hard one, so this week, I thought I would go with an easier one—or so I think.

Today’s Question of the Week is: What is your favorite TV show of all time?

For me, I always thought it was “Family Ties.” But the first time I gave up watching a first-run show to watch a re-run of a show I’d seen numerous times AND have on DVD, I realized there was a new favorite—“Friends.”

A look around my apartment would also clue you in with my “Friends” coaster set, my cast painting on the wall, the collection of DVDs in the special collectors’ box, the Playstation 2 game, the DVD board game, the two trivia books, and the special edition collectors’ book.

I’m actually slightly dreading the beginning of the new season because it means I will have to give up my four episodes of “Friends” every Monday on TBS. And yes, it even pains me a little to miss them for new “24” episodes. But just a little since “24” is quickly climbing the charts with the two giant “24” posters on my walls, the three “24” mousepads (one is at work), the “24” key chain and checkbook cover, the two “24” t-shirts, the collection of DVDs, the Playstation 2 game, the four books (with two on the way), the magazine subscription, the coffee mug, the charm bracelet and the membership to the fan club.

WOW! I have a problem…

If I were to make a top 10 list of favorites, it would probably go something like this…

1. “Friends”
2. “24”
3. “Family Ties”
4. “The A-Team”
5. “Another World”
6. “Full House”
7. “The Pretender”
8. “American Idol”
9 “Sports Night”
10.“Murder One” (Season One)/“Project Runway”

Yes, that's right. I'm the only person in the world who would put both "24" and "Full House" on their all-time favorites list.

So how about you? What’s your favorite show of all time? Or maybe you have a top 10 list you would like to share?

Just Post a Comment to get us started…

Monday, August 14, 2006

What Stars Will Be Dancing This Fall?

For those of you who have been waiting on pins and needles to find out the identities of the next celebrity contestants on “Dancing With the Stars” (You know who you are!), they were revealed on “Good Morning America” this morning.

And they are…Harry Hamlin (“L.A. Law”), Mario Lopez (“Saved By the Bell”), Tucker Carlson (MSNBC), Monique Coleman (“High School Musical”), Sara Evans (the country singer), Willa Ford (Remember that song “I Wanna Be Bad”?), Vivica A. Fox, Joey Lawrence, Shanna Moakler (“Meet the Barkers”), Emmitt Smith and—wait for it—Jerry Springer!

I’m just going to let you guys make your own comments.

"Dancing With the Stars" premieres September 12th on ABC.

McG's Next Project

In the new “Entertainment Weekly,” McG says that he had to lobby Warner Brothers hard to convince them he could direct “We Are Marshall.” McG wanted the job because he wanted to do something totally different than anything he’d ever done.

So if McG is really wanting to earn the respect of Hollywood, why is his first post-“We Are Marshall” project a reality TV show about the search for a new Pussycat Doll?

Pick of the Week: "Comedy Central Roast"

For this week, I thought I would go a little outside the box. It would be easy for me to pick the season finales of “So You Think You Can Dance” or “America’s Got Talent,” but neither of those shows are circled on my calendar and this one is.

I’ll let you decide for yourself what that means about me…

This week’s Pick of the Week is “The Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner.”

Shatner has revitalized his career by making fun of himself, so how much fun will it be for other people to make fun of him? And look at all the material! His “singing,” “Star Trek,” “Priceline.com,” his ego, the list goes on and on.

The only name I’ve heard officially as a roaster is Betty White (Bea Arthur stole the Pamela Anderson roast last year.), but I’m sure we’ll see Leonard Nimoy and I hope James Spader or Candice Bergen. Jason Alexander is the host.

“The Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner” airs Sunday, August 20th at 10 p.m. Please note that this program is rated TV-MA (for mature audiences only).

Friday, August 11, 2006

"Project Runway": Model Behavior

The fate of the models on “Project Runway” has never been in their hands as they must wear whatever the designers give them; and then stand by as the designers eliminate one of them. So, this week they got a little more control as they chose the designer they wanted to work with. However, this meant that two were eliminated by chance only. I was a little disappointed because this eliminated Katya, the fiercest of them all (But what did she do to her hair?).

Then, the models got to choose the fashion icon whose look the designers would update. It was obvious that the producers had tried very hard to choose icons that would match the designers, it was just up to the models to find that match. As Laura said, the designers’ fates were in the hands of someone who barely knew them. But apparently the models had been paying attention, because almost all of their selections were perfect.

Bradley’s model, however, had gotten knocked aside in the melee that ensued when the models chose the icon’s picture off the table and had to take the only one left—Cher. Although I think Cher might have worked better for Vincent, I thought Bradley could do her justice—until he admitted he knew nothing about her. Bradley may have been better off with Twiggy, but something tells me he wouldn’t have known anything about her either.

Robert and Jackie Onassis should have been a perfect match, but Robert was bitten by the boring bug again this week and produced a blah linen ensemble that looked a little like a burlap sack to me. As season two contestant Nick said on his “People” blog, Robert is finding life away from the Dream House a little difficult. I just don’t know why.

Anyone concerned there would be a lack of arrogance with Keith gone, shouldn’t have worried, because Jeffrey has taken his place, even going so far as to say that he wished Laura would have a stroke. As Nick said, that’s even going beyond Santino territory. I thought there may be a chance that Jeffrey would be gone with his hideous update of Madonna; but the judges let him pass without even keeping him on the runway for the Q&A.

The most exciting thing about this episode is that Michael finally got some love from both the judges and the show’s editors. The Message Boards and blogs have been complaining that Michael hasn’t gotten enough air time (I still can’t believe they didn’t single out his coffee filter dress!) so it was great to see him get some much-deserved recognition and the win. I have to believe the producers chose Pam Grier as an icon with Michael in mind and he knocked it out of the park! It was interesting that the judges raved about the fit of the hotpants when Michael had only finished them right before the runway show. As he says in the intro, he’s got “mad skills.”

The biggest surprise of the episode was once again Angela. I really thought Audrey Hepburn was a bad choice for her, but she totally made it work. If she could just drop the rosettes, she might actually be a good designer; and she appears to have dropped some of her Wendy Pepper ways.

It was no surprise when Bradley and his spacey aluminum foil top ended up in the bottom two along with Robert the Boring. Personally, I think Vincent should have been there with his picnic table outfit, but I think the judges are using some tough love on Robert. “We believe in your talent, but you better wake us up,” Heidi told him. In the end, it was Bradley who went home. “This is serious high fashion,” he said, “and I made a tinker toy.”

Next week, Heidi promises the designers that the challenges are going to get much tougher. What surprises me about the challenges is that in the two-and-a-half years the show has been on the air, it has yet to repeat one of them. So who knows what’s in store for the rest of the season.

All I know is I will definitely stay tuned…and you should to.

Friday Free-For-All: August 11, 2006

It’s Friday, so it’s time for another free-for-all—your chance to get something TV-related off your chest.

I thought I would also use this to share some things with you that I couldn’t fit into any of the other posts, so here goes:

Ray Romano is plotting his return to television with HBO. It would be a limited series in which he would play a man who finds out he only has a short time to live. He’s developing the show with Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran, the brilliant minds behind—are you ready for this?—“24.” Shouldn’t they be worrying about something like, oh I don’t know, season six?! And the movie?! And a comedy? Seriously?!

Just when you thought we had maxed out with reality shows, here comes another one. NBC will unleash “You’re the One That We Want,” a competition to find the next Sandy and Danny for the new Broadway production of “Grease.” It is scheduled for a mid-season premiere.

Now it’s your turn. What do you want to discuss this week?

By the way, you can now check out my answers to this week’s Question of the Week in that post’s comments section.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

"Super Hero": How real is it?

I said in my earlier post that “Who Wants to Be a Super Hero” was a cute, endearing reality show.

It’s still cute and endearing; I’m just not sure how real it truly is. Of course, I understand that people masquerading in super hero costumes is not reality. I’m talking about how much of the show is staged.

Last week’s episode started off innocent enough as the super heroes were asked to anonymously provide questions for each other to Stan. Among the revelations was that The Iron Enforcer has a body odor problem and possibly uses steroids. Then, the heroes were challenged to make it across a backyard while being pursued by trained attack dogs (The heroes had on the proper protective gear.). If they wished, they could cry “uncle” and the dogs would be called off. TyVeculus made it across the yard in 16 seconds, Major Victory did it in seventeen seconds with a dog attached to each arm (He has to be the favorite.) and Monkey Woman fought it out with the dogs for nine minutes, refusing to say “uncle” since she was almost eliminated last week. Feedback also made it across the yard, but all of the other heroes failed.

Stan singled out four for elimination: Cell Phone Girl, who claimed to have a headache and only lasted four seconds; The Iron Enforcer, who strangely gave up inches from the finish; Lemuria, who allowed the dogs to drag her back to where she started; and Creature, who laughed during the entire challenge. Stan eliminated Cell Phone Girl telling her, “Your minutes are up.”

Up next for the heroes was a costume makeover. All of the makeovers were an improvement, except for TyVeculus, who looked ridiculous in a feathered helmet. However, when Stan said himself that he wasn’t sure it was quite right, TyVeculus said he loved it and launched into a speech about how his destiny had been fulfilled. Clearly, this was another of Stan’s tests and TyVeculus failed, because he truly didn’t like the costume. After Feedback mocked the feathers, TyVeculus went back to Stan to tell him he didn’t like the costume, even though he feared it might mean his elimination. Stan allowed him to return to his old costume.

Meanwhile, when Stan saw The Iron Enforcer’s makeover, he said that there was something missing, but he wasn’t sure what.

Then, of course, it was time for another elimination and Stan singled out TyVeculus for lying to him, Feedback for making fun of TyVeculus, and The Iron Enforcer for his unpopularity, giving up on the dog challenge and for just not being right. “Maybe I just can’t get past that gun,” Stan told him. It was no surprise when Stan eliminated The Iron Enforcer.

However, there was more to come. As The Iron Enforcer walked down the street, Stan appeared to him on a TV screen and made him an offer to become the show’s super villain. The Iron Enforcer, of course, accepted and became The Dark Enforcer.

At first, I thought it was a cute twist; but when I gave it some more thought I had to wonder when this was conceived. Did the Iron Enforcer know all along that he was going to become a bad guy? Is that why he gave up in the dog challenge when he was only 12 inches from the door? How much of the rest of the show is staged?

I’m not so naïve that I believe everything about reality shows is real, but this one is bordering on professional wrestling now. What made “Hero” different was that it took something so silly and made it oddly compelling. This twist could make it just odd.

However, for now, I’m willing to stay tuned. For now…

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Good Mail Week

When I was younger, I loved getting mail. It was exciting to pull something out of the mailbox with my name on it.

Of course, when you get older, it’s not as exciting since the stuff in the box is just bills and other yucky grown-up stuff. But this week has been a good one for me mail-wise. Monday, I got the “Studio 60” pilot DVD; but yesterday was the big one. As my second-favorite-Canadian, RT, had already told me (It’s okay. She knows who’s number one.), my “TV Guide” would be extra-special this week since Kiefer Sutherland would be on the cover AND he would spill secrets about season six of “24.”

What more could you ask for--especially when you see the picture of him inside!

So what good stuff did he spill? Jack will be at the lowest point we’ve ever seen him as the show will pick up two months into Jack’s incarceration by the Chinese.

For those fans (including me) that were worried the show would just sweep the Chinese thing under the rug, that’s good news. But Kiefer also mentions that Jack will have been tortured physically and mentally and that’s got me worried.

Since the show is picking up with Jack still in prison, will the torture have stopped? PLEASE tell me we are not going to have to sit through 24 hours of Kiefer with his face bashed in! I’m not sure I could forgive the “24” writers for that one. I still haven’t quite forgiven them for what they did to his face in the season finale (I know it was makeup, but still!).

I’ve got to believe that the show will not make that mistake. After all, Kiefer is the face of the show, so it would be bad for business to not have it be its usual sexy self.

Stay tuned…

Question of the Week: Series Finales

It’s Wednesday, so that means another Question of the Week

I was watching “I Love the 80s Strikes Back: 1988” on VH1 last week and it had a feature with Gilbert Gottfied showcasing the “What the----” moment of the year. That moment was the series finale of “St. Elsewhere.”

“St. Elsewhere” was the critically acclaimed hospital drama that gave us Ed Begley Jr., Howie Mandel, Denzel Washington and Mark Harmon. The show followed both the personal and professional lives of the doctors and nurses at St. Eligius Hospital in Boston.

When the series came to an end after six seasons, viewers expected a lot of sappy scenes and we got them, but we also got one of the most original endings ever. While looking at a wide shot of the hospital, the building started to shake strangely. The camera pulled back to show St. Eligius Hospital in a snowglobe in the hands of Dr. Westphall’s autistic son, Tommy. His relatives (some of whom we knew as characters from the show) sat around wondering what he was dreaming up while looking at that globe. What he was dreaming up was the entire show, which turned out to be a total figment of his imagination.

Personally, I found the ending totally original—just like “St. Elsewhere” itself—but as Gottfried pointed out, I am apparently the only one.

Which leads me to this week’s two-part Question of the Week: What do you think was the best series finale of all time? What do you think was the worst series finale of all time?

I’ll give you my answers later in the week, so keep checking if you’re curious…

Just click on Post Comment to answer.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"Idol" is changing its tune...

Obviously "American Idol" puppet master Simon Fuller has realized the mediocrity of the "Idol" singles because he's trying something new this season.

"Idol" will have a songwriting contest in order to determine the top two's singles. There are no details on how the contest will work, but it will probably involve a viewer vote. There is also talk that some of the best songs could be featured in a special with former contestants.

Anything has to be better than the schmaltzy stuff we've been putting up with.

Cause at a "Moment Like This" you're "Flying Without Wings" and "I Believe" I want to be "Inside Your Heaven" so I can ask you the question "Do I Make You Proud?"

"Kidnapped": Not Quite Right

This fall, ABC, NBC and even FOX will have a “24” clone. NBC’s is “Kidnapped,” the pilot of which is included on the Netflix DVD with “Studio 60.”

“Kidnapped” already has one strike against it since FOX’s “24” clone is called “Vanished” and also follows one kidnapping throughout the season. But sadly, that’s not its only problem.

The show stars Dana Delaney and Timothy Hutton as Ellie and Conrad Cain, a wealthy New York couple with three children. The middle child, Leopold, has a bodyguard, Virgil, played by Mykelti Williamson (best known as Bubba from “Forrest Gump”). One morning on the way to school, Leopold is kidnapped.

The Cains hire Knapp (Jeremy Sisto), a professional who specializes in rescuing kidnapping victims. Knapp tells the Cains not to call the FBI, but a retiring agent on his last day of work, Latimer King (Delroy Lindo), gets involved anyway (I can’t tell you how because the show doesn’t really explain it.). And of course, Latimer and Knapp have a bit of a history and conflicting views on how things should be done.

We also get a brief look at the kidnappers themselves, including one who calls himself “The Accountant,” because he closes accounts (aka kills people who know too much). We also see Leopold as he hides the drugs the kidnappers give him and then decides to use his plastic knife to plan an escape route.

“Kidnapped” is meant to be a thrilling on-the-edge of your seat drama, but it just never makes it. You almost get the impression that Knapp is intended to be a Jack Bauer-type character; but if that’s the show’s intent, it fails miserably. There’s a good twist toward the end that revs things up a little, but the show ruins it by adding additional scenes after the twist. Apparently, the writers have not yet discovered the meaning of a good cliffhanger.

To give things a more frantic feel, the show uses strange effects of lights and colors and clips from previous scenes. They not only don’t work, they completely distract from what’s going on.

The biggest problem with the show is how it plans to sustain itself for an entire season. Can we really follow one kidnapping from beginning to end? Delroy Lindo and Jeremy Sisto are good combatants, but can we really stand their constant bickering for an entire season? There’s going to need to be a lot of stalling and for this show that will probably lead to people turning the channel.

And if you’re wondering about what the show will do for next season—don’t. I’m pretty sure that’s not going to be anything NBC will have to worry about.

As I said, Lindo and Sisto are both good and Dana Delaney is adequate as the mother; but I have never been impressed with Timothy Hutton’s acting skills and he does nothing to change my mind here.

Again, I applaud NBC for using this new method to promote their shows. Now I can cross this one off my list for the rest of the year.

“Kidnapped” will air Wednesdays at 10 p.m. beginning in September on NBC.

"Studio 60": A Work in Progress

When I opened my mailbox Monday, I could barely contain my enthusiasm as my year and a half as a Netflix customer finally paid off. In my hands was the premiere of “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.”

First of all, let me applaud NBC for using Netflix as a way to gain interest in their programming. It’s obvious that NBC is thinking a little more outside the box this year and I appreciate that—not to mention that I appreciate being able to see the show more than a month before it will actually air.

It’s not an over-exaggeration to say that much of NBC’s future rests with “Studio 60.” In fact, when ABC announced it was moving “Grey’s Anatomy” to Thursdays at 9 (NBC’s already announced slot for the show), NBC moved “Studio 60” to Mondays at 10. NBC needs a big hit and they believe this is it.

I believe it as well, but there’s still some work to do.

“Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” created by Aaron Sorkin, is about a “Saturday Night Live”-type comedy sketch show on the National Broadcasting Service. In the opening scene, Wes, the show’s executive producer (a memorable Judd Hirsch), is ordered to cut a controversial sketch by the network censors. However, he doesn’t take the decision lying down and actually cuts into the show’s opening sketch to give a scathing speech about the state of television and the show in particular, enraging network chairman Jack Rudolph (Steven Webber), who immediately fires him. Newly hired Network President Jordan McDeere (Amanda Peet) decides to bring in Matt Albie (Matthew Perry) and Danny Tripp (Bradley Whitford) to save the show. Matt and Danny were the number two guys at the show four years ago, before they were fired (though Jack says they quit). Now the duo has become successful, with Matt receiving a Writers Guild Award for his screenplay that Danny directed, and they are preparing to shoot another movie together. However, circumstances make the duo available and they, of course, take the job—much to the chagrin of Jack and Harriet (the charming Sarah Paulson), the cast member who recently broke up with Matt.

Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford are so good together, you’d swear they were brothers. Perry is as endearing as ever, switching effortlessly between comedy and drama. And Whitford is the perfect straight man (I still believe that it was Whitford and not Martin Sheen who deserved to be nominated for an Emmy for “The West Wing.”). Steven Webber is much better as a network sleaze than I would’ve expected and it’s great to see Timothy Busfield in front of the camera again as Cal, the show’s director. And Felicity Huffman pays back Aaron Sorkin for giving her her big break (“Sports Night”) by doing a funny cameo as the unfortunate guest host of the show. Plus, Sorkin’s trademark biting wit is in full effect as he takes on both TV and the religious right in the same hour.

However, the show does have its problems. Amanda Peet is seriously miscast as Jordan which makes it hard to decide what kind of character she is. And unfortunately, Aaron Sorkin has not dropped his tendency to insert his own political views in totally meaningless scenes. Matthew Perry (the victim in this episode) handles it well, but it just doesn’t work, especially in the context of the scene (I won’t give it away because it’s an important plot point that Sorkin is sure to bang over our heads later.).

But probably what disappointed me the most was the lack of Sorkin-Schlamme zip. Tommy Schlamme created the famous “West Wing” walk-and-talk and I expected more of that frenetic pace here.

Don’t get me wrong. “Studio 60” is a good show. I guess I was just expecting knock-you-over-the-head great and I didn’t get it. That’s not to say it won’t come later--because I believe it will--it’s just not in the pilot.

“Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” will air Mondays at 10 p.m. beginning in September on NBC. You can catch a preview at www.nbc.com, but since it gives away most of the episode’s best stuff, I’d stay away.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Pick of the Week: "The Ron Clark Story"

Today, I’m debuting the last of my special features, the Pick of the Week.

Every Monday, I will pick that week’s must-see show, movie or special (Remember the TV week runs Monday-Sunday.).

This week’s Pick of the Week is the TNT original movie, “The Ron Clark Story.”

Ron Clark was a North Carolina teacher who left his quiet hometown to teach in a New York public school. Using innovative teaching techniques, he helped the students improve their test scores while also helping them with their personal problems.

Yes, it’s a story we’ve seen several times before—“Lean On Me,” “Dangerous Minds,” “Stand and Deliver”—but we’ve never seen it with Matthew Perry and that is what makes it must-see. I have always thought that Perry has a Michael J. Fox quality to him and from the previews I’ve seen this movie helps bring that out. Perry has never gotten the credit he deserves for his acting abilities and I’m hoping that with all the buzz this movie is generating, he’ll finally get it.

I can guarantee you the movie will get overly sentimental, but I think it will be worth your time. Just have those tissues ready.

“The Ron Clark Story” airs Sunday, August 13th at 8 p.m. on TNT.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Friday Free-For-All: August 4, 2006

So here's another new feature I'm trying this week. It's called "Friday Free-For-All."

I always set the topics with my posts, so this is your chance to talk about whatever show you'd like.

Got questions about a show or actor? Fire away! I may not know the answer, but I can find it, or another reader might be able to help you.

Just click on Post Comments to get us started.

Visiting Wisteria Lane...When It Was Worth the Trip

With all of the Clay and Constantine excitement—not to mention the tension of “Project Runway”—I almost forgot to let you know about something exciting coming to Lifetime this weekend: “Desperate Housewives.”

That’s right, beginning Saturday night (August 5th); you can follow the adventures of the women of Wysteria Lane from the very beginning—back when they were actually worth caring about.

The pilot is television at its best. The story is entertaining and the characters are well-defined. In fact, everything about the show is a breath of fresh air—which makes last season seem all the more dreadful.

Creator Marc Cherry has promised to be more involved this year, which gives me some hope that things will improve. After all, he did write the pilot, which is one of the best in recent memory (I would also put “Lost” on that list as well.).

The pilot of “Desperate Housewives” airs Saturday at 11 p.m. on Lifetime.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

And now the return of Clay...

First I mention Constantine and then I find his new single (which I'm listening to right now). Then, I mention Clay and guess who sends out a press release a little over an hour ago about his new CD?

That's right. Clay Aiken is back! Thank goodness.

The new CD is called "A Thousand Different Ways" and will hit stores September 19th (That's one day after my birthday. I'd like to think he knew that.). But, if you're looking for a bunch of new songs, you're going to be disappointed. The album features only four new songs and 10 covers.

Here's the track listing according to "Billboard" magazine:
Right Here Waiting (Richard Marx)
When I See You Smile (Bad English)
Without You (Badfinger)
Lonely No More (New)
Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word (Elton John)
Everytime You Go Away (Paul Young, but originally by Hall and Oates)
Everything I Do (I Do It For You) (Bryan Adams)
I Want to Know What Love Is (Foreigner)
These Open Arms (New, written by Jon Bon Jovi and Desmond Child)
Because You Loved Me (Celine Dion)
Here You Come Again (Dolly Parton)
Everything I Have (New)
A Thousand Days (New)
Broken Wings (Mr. Mister)

I agree that Clay is a master of the covers, as anyone who's seen him in concert knows; but I'm not sure if he's picked the right ones. Where is "To Love Somebody" or his concert scorcher, "Kyrie." And what happened to the new song he performed on his last concert tour, "Coming Back for More"? Apparently those of us who loved that song are just out of luck.

Clay is certainly playing to his power ballad strength, but at what cost? My biggest concern is that Clay will be destroyed in the press (even more than he has been) for his musical choices. Celine Dion and Elton John songs sound more like an "Idol" episode than a solid third album.

But as everyone knows, I would listen to Clay sing the phone book, so I will be at the store as early on the 19th as I can be to pick this one up. I'm guessing I won't be alone.

The return of Constantine

In my post about "Project Runway," I invoked the name of Constantine, my second favorite "Idol" contestant ever (Clay will always be number one.).

Now there is big news for those of you who feel the same way. You can now hear his new single, "Girl Like You" at www.americanidol.com/music.

I'll warn you that you will want to get up and dance, so make sure there's no one around when you listen to it.

What Goes Around Comes Around...

You would think that with as much reality TV as I’ve watched I would’ve learned my lesson by now. But apparently, I forgot the number one rule in reality TV: what goes around comes around. And that rule pertains to viewers as well.

You see, you must be careful about getting too excited about the downfall of certain contestants, because your favorite could be on the chopping block next. It’s a cruel lesson I learned after the elimination of Constantine on “American Idol” two seasons ago (I danced around the room when Nadia was voted off.). But last night I made the same mistake while watching “Project Runway.”

The show stalled us as long as it could, but when Keith convinced the people at Mood to cut him a break on his fabric, it looked like it would indeed be Keith who would be kicked off—and it was. However, his departure had nothing to do with what happened at Mood…

Kayne spotted pattern making books in Keith’s room and how-to books of any kind (especially ones that show you how to make patterns) are strictly forbidden by the show. After discussing it with the rest of the contestants, Kayne brought the books to the attention of the producers (off-camera) and Tim Gunn was called in to talk to Keith. In a dubbed voiceover, Tim explained that Keith also left the production without permission and used the Internet (another no-no). The broken rules spelled doom for Keith and Tim asked him to leave. But before he exited, Keith tried a guilt trip on his fellow male contestants by telling them that he was ruined and would be a laughing stock to his friends.

Now you know why I wanted him gone so badly.

Laura, who had argued with Keith last week, was thrilled that he was gone; but Keith’s departure could’ve been disastrous for Jeffrey and Allison who were forced to continue Keith’s vision without him (He was their team leader.). Fortunately for them, Keith had already delegated the lion’s share of the work to them.

Meanwhile, Robert’s team was putting together a drab outfit that Vincent said looked “stewardish.” However, Robert disagreed with him and continued with his vision. Unfortunately, Vincent was right. And as the bottom two teams were revealed, it was obvious that Robert was in BIG trouble.

Though the drama with Keith dominated the episode, the biggest shocker was actually Angela. After last week, it seemed clear that the only reason she was still around was because of the drama she brought to the show. But this week, she shocked all of the contestants by being chosen as a team leader by the Macy’s VP (I smell a fix.). And then, she shocked them all again by actually winning. Granted, Michael and Laura made that possible by restraining her desire to put florets on everything; but it was her vision, she picked Michael and Laura as her team and most importantly, she listened to them. It was a great comeback.
In the end, there was only Robert and Bonnie left on the runway, I was sure that Robert was gone—my punishment for over-celebrating Keith’s departure. But when Heidi delivered her verdict, it was Bonnie who was out. I admit I let out a great big “YES!”

So with Robert safe and Angela getting back into my good graces, I went back to celebrating Keith’s departure—until the previews showed Robert in trouble again.

Will I never learn?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Question of the Week: Who should wear J.R.'s hat?

Today on “Stay Tuned,” we are going to debut a new segment—The Question of the Week. Every Wednesday I will ask a TV-related question to get your creative juices flowing.

The first question was actually inspired by one of my faithful readers. He suggested a post on casting TV-inspired movies.

Now, let me just say for the record that I am completely against butchering good TV shows for the sake of films. Most of these movies just take the characters’ names and the same basic setting and then do whatever they want with them. But since it could lead to some interesting discussion, I’ll go along with it.

Derek suggested “The A-Team,” but since I am VEHEMENTLY opposed to any “A-Team” movie (Yes, I know it’s going to happen anyway.), let’s go with another 80s stalwart—“Dallas.”

You’ve probably heard that John Travolta has signed on to play J.R. with Jennifer Lopez as his wife Sue Ellen and Luke Wilson as his brother Bobby. The presence of Wilson and Lopez make me think this is going to be a farce. So what if Hollywood was making a movie actually based on the television show?

Here’s our question of the week: Who would you cast in the “Dallas” movie?

To get us started, here are my choices:

J.R. Ewing: James Spader
Sue Ellen Ewing: Marcia Cross
Bobby Ewing: David Hasselhoff
Pamela Barnes Ewing: Kristin Davis
Lucy Ewing: Nicole Richie
Miss Ellie Ewing: Blythe Danner
Jock Ewing: Donald Sutherland

Okay, I admit the Hoff as Bobby is a little out there, but I needed a cheesy dramatic actor. Since Bobby was always the buffoon (and Patrick Duffy never quite pulled it off), Luke Wilson may not be a bad choice after all. Ironically, Marcia Cross is rumored to be playing Pam, but I think she’d be much better suited for the off-balance Sue Ellen. And if you’re going old-school “Dallas,” then there is no one better suited to play J.R.’s dad than Donald Sutherland. If you recall, Jock was pretty ruthless himself. As for J.R., no one plays likeably sleazy like James Spader.

Now let’s hear from you…

"Idol": "Life is Not a Fairy Tale"

There has been so much “Idol” news over the past three weeks it’s been hard to keep up. But I’ll do my best to get everybody up to speed…

All of the buzz this week surrounds Elliott. Everyone is wondering why he hasn’t signed a record deal yet since Katharine, Chris and Kellie have all inked with RCA/19 Recordings. Elliott’s spokesperson says there are two companies interested and he’ll be firming things up “very soon.” The spokesperson also says Elliott has been very busy with charity work, which has kept him from concentrating on an album. Personally, I think it says a lot about how the show felt about him since 19 signed Kellie before looking at him…

Speaking of Elliott, if you missed him in the pictures at the White House, it’s because he wasn’t there. He was late to the meeting with the President because he overslept…

The producers of “Idol” are up in arms about Fantasia’s Lifetime movie, “The Fantasia Barrino Story: Life Is Not a Fairy Tale.” In the movie, an “Idol” producer pushes Fantasia (who plays herself) to quit the show because she is an unfit role model. Executive Producer Ken Warwick says it’s absolutely untrue.

Interestingly, the movie features actual footage from “Idol.” I’m guessing the producers didn’t see the script before approving the use of the scenes. The movie will premiere on Lifetime August 19th at 9 p.m…

Katharine McPhee finally joined the Idols tour July 30th, but she was still taking it easy. Saying she was under doctor’s orders to limit her singing, Katharine only did two songs and didn’t participate in any of the group numbers.

I don’t mean to tick off you Katharine fans out there, but I just find it rather convenient that after missing almost a month of the tour, she got better just in time to co-host “The View” and meet with the President. There are rumors swirling that Kat is becoming quite the diva…

As I mentioned earlier, Katharine, Chris, Kellie and, of course, Taylor are all signed to RCA/BMG and 19 Recordings Limited, “Idol” puppet master Simon Fuller’s new label. “Variety” reported a few weeks ago that CDs from Taylor, Katharine and Kellie would all be released on the same day—November 14th. I certainly hope that is not the case because it would be a HUGE mistake—not to mention that it would take away from the prize of actually winning. If the date sticks, “Idol” may finally reach its saturation point.

What was it I said earlier about hoping that Simon Fuller never gets too greedy again?

"One" and Done

It was really no surprise to discover when I returned from my vacation that ABC had cancelled “The One.” As I commented on my earlier post, the lack of updated information on the website was a big tip-off. The show did make a place in TV history, though. Its premiere is the lowest-rated reality show debut ever among adults 18-49.

Now because the show was a contest, more than likely someone will eventually be crowned the winner; but an ABC rep says there are no plans for the show to continue on ABC Family or ABC.com. So, even if someone does win, it won’t mean anything.

What went wrong? One argument says that there were too many other talent competitions on the air, while others say it was just too much of an “Idol” rip-off. While I agree with both of those theories, I would add one other thing: The contestants were not talented (with the exception of Austin). People who could actually sing would’ve gone a long way.

"Excelsior!"

“Who Wants to Be a Super Hero?” should be the corniest reality show ever created.

So how come it isn’t?

There are certainly enough corny elements like the costumes, the “secret lair” and Stan Lee’s overdramatic exposition. But for some reason, it all works to make a goofy, endearing show.

“Hero” is a reality competition to find the next great super hero character. The contestants actually dress up and pretend to be these characters as they engage in challenges designed to demonstrate their super hero qualities. Each week, comic book legend (and the show’s executive producer) Stan Lee eliminates one of the heroes. The winner will be featured in a new comic and a Sci-Fi TV movie.

The premiere featured a bit of a twist as one hero was eliminated before even entering the lair. Levity was eliminated after telling Stan Lee’s spy that he planned to profit from the show by selling a Levity action figure. Then, the remaining heroes were given the challenge of changing into their costume in a public place (inconspicuously, of course) and then running to the finish line as quickly as possible. But along the route was a lost little girl crying for help. Of course, helping that little girl was the true competition and most of the heroes ran right past her. Three of those heroes were forced to explain to Lee why they shouldn’t be eliminated: Monkey Woman, the Iron Enforcer and Nitro G. The Iron Enforcer had been a problem from the beginning with his giant gun and his talk of killing, but Lee eliminated Nitro G because he changed out in the open and seemed a little too immature.

My favorite is, without a doubt, Major Victory. Not only did he help the little girl, but he did so in dramatic fashion with the fake superhero voice and everything (He’s a DJ, so what would you expect?). While most of the contestants simply act like themselves, Major Victory is actually playing the part.

It’s easy to dismiss these people as a group of comic book geeks living out their fantasies; but they’re much more than that. They’re people like you and me trying to prove that they’re something truly special—to us and themselves.

“Who Wants to Be a Super Hero?” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on the SciFi Channel.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

"Baby can you feel the vibe?"

Saturday, ABC Family gave us a “Shut Up and Dance Saturday” with “Footloose,” “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” and “Grease 2.” But it’s the movie that kicked off the day that always has me dancing—“From Justin to Kelly.”

Yes, you read that right. I love one of the most critically panned movies of recent years. A movie that could’ve killed Kelly Clarkson’s career and did contribute to the death of Justin Guarini’s.

As you may recall, in September 2002, the country was captivated by Justin and Kelly and a brand new show called “American Idol.” Millions tuned in to see Kelly win and her single, “A Moment Like This” shot to number one. But Simon Fuller (the “Idol” puppet master), who had not yet dreamed up the “Idols” tour, wanted a way to capitalize further on the buzz. So “From Justin to Kelly” was born. The movie, after a few delays, was scheduled for a June 2003 release.

In January 2003, “Idol” returned for its second season. The show was once again successful and the perfect platform to promote the movie. But that never happened. RCA decided to release “Miss Independent” as Kelly’s first single instead of the movie’s love song, “Anytime.” And fearing that three Idol-related CDs at the same time would be too much for “Idol” fans, Fuller decided not to release a soundtrack (which I’m still mad about). Then, there was the final straw. There were no ads for the movie during “Idol” commercial breaks, or any promotion during the actual episodes. We’ve all seen what the “Idol” promotional machine can do, but “From” never got that chance. Sensing that the movie was going to be a flop, the show distanced itself from the movie entirely. For Kelly, it was not a big problem since she was the winner. But for Justin, who could’ve used the movie as a springboard for his career, it was a disaster from which he has never recovered. If RCA had released “Timeless,” his duet with Kelly, it may have been different, but the damage was already done.

For those of you who have never seen it, the movie is not nearly as bad as you’ve heard—honestly. As a TV-movie, it would’ve been perfect; but on the big screen, the movie’s flaws come off larger-than-life (and not worth the seven bucks you would’ve paid to see them). The story is weak (especially the “dramatic” climax), Katherine Bailess is pathetic as “bad girl” Alexa (Is that really how they talk in Texas?), Justin’s song lead-ins are corny (“There’s definitely something going on between us, don’t you think?”), the direction is bad (I know I always power walk when I’m singing a tender love song.), Kelly’s clothes are ridiculous (a skirt made of ties?!) and the choreography (which is the key to any musical) is absolutely atrocious (Wasn't Paula available?).

But the songs are good (especially Justin and Kelly’s duet of “Anytime”), the supporting male characters are funny, Justin and Kelly have good chemistry (Are we actually supposed to believe there was nothing going on between those two? Sorry, they’re not that good of actors.), and Justin actually comes off as quite charming—which makes what happened to his career all the more sad.

The truth is that if Simon Fuller had played his cards right, he could’ve had a real cash cow on his hands with this one. Don’t believe me? Just look at the runaway success of “High School Musical.” I’ve got to believe as hit-starved as FOX was at the time, they would’ve jumped at the chance to do an “American Idol” movie (and probably would've paid for a decent choreographer). But Fuller got too greedy. Hopefully, it’s not a mistake he’ll make again.

If you like musicals and you get the opportunity to check out “From Justin to Kelly,” I hope you’ll take it. You may not love it like I do, but I think you’ll have fun.

“Baby can you feel the vibe?”

"Anticipation, baby. Antici-pay-ya-tion..."

You know I love Bravo. But quite honestly, they’re driving me CRAZY!

You can’t watch Bravo for more than five minutes without hearing it: Someone is getting kicked off the runway. I actually turned off Sunday’s “Project Runway” marathon because I couldn’t take it and the incessant promos almost ruined Saturday’s airing of “The Lost Boys”—almost.

Why is it driving me so crazy? Because I want to know who it is and I want to know NOW!!!

My hope is that the rumors are true and it’s Keith. His attitude is seriously getting on my nerves; and I think he should have been eliminated last week for refusing to go along with the entire challenge. And since Malan was eliminated two weeks ago, he has become the most annoying.

However, the previews give you a small indication that it may be Robert and that would upset me. Robert has become my favorite since Angela emerged as this season’s Wendy Pepper (One of the contestants called her a femi-Nazi.). My concerns were raised even more after I saw Robert’s newest Barbie creation at the toy store. Did he violate some rules with that?

I also have to wonder about the possibility that it’s Michael since he has received very little attention during the show. Maybe that’s a choice by the producers since he’ll be gone soon?

If I don’t go crazy before then, we’ll all get the answer Wednesday night at 10 on Bravo.

Stay tuned…

Summer Reality: "Force" vs. "Wars"

This summer, for some reason, Monday nights have become the time for reality shows. Two of the newest are “Driving Force” and “Tabloid Wars.”

Anyone who knows anything about NHRA drag racing knows the name John Force. In “Driving Force,” we meet Force’s three beautiful daughters Ashley, Courtney, and Brittany, who are also racers. The show gives us a look at the Force racing business and John’s attempt to raise daughters (He wanted sons.). We also meet Force’s wife, Laurie. Laurie kicked John out seven years ago because she couldn’t live with him anymore (However, they are still married.). You don’t have to watch long to understand why.

I’ve always been a fan of John Force, mainly because of his crazy ways, so it was a little disillusioning to see how much of a jerk he can be. John apparently agrees because in this week’s “TV Guide” he apologizes for his behavior and admits he needs anger management training. Of course, if he had realized that earlier, there wouldn’t be a show since most of the episode I saw consisted of him butting heads with the girls and Laurie. And I’m a little concerned that someone who drinks that much drives a highly combustible car over 300 miles an hour for a living (Of course, maybe being drunk is how you get the nerve to do that.).

“Driving Force” airs new episodes Mondays at 9 p.m. on A&E.

A far superior (and quite different) behind-the-scenes reality show is “Tabloid Wars,” which shows the inner workings of the “New York Daily News.” We see the reporters pursuing stories while trying to stay a step ahead of their bitter rivals, the “New York Post” (thus, the show’s title). One minute they’re pursuing a beating victim, the next they’re looking for Robert DeNiro’s thieving housekeeper.

The star of the show, in my opinion, is Kerry Burke, the paper’s star reporter. The nonchalant way he gets the story is fun to watch and you’ve got to love that thick New York accent. In the premiere, Kerry loses out to the “Post” on the DeNiro story, but he makes up for it by getting the scoop on a racial beating just minutes before the 10:30 p.m. deadline. In this week’s episode, Kerry has to use all his reporting skills to get to the bottom of a cop shooting.

Also in this week’s episode, we meet the most annoying of the “Post” employees, Hudson, a smug gossip columnist (Even “Queer Eye” Carson Kressley blows him off and they’re on the same network!) who admits he’s just using the job to “cut his teeth.” But Hudson gets knocked down a peg when after reporting an incorrect story about Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner (that the “Post” crucified him for), he’s sent to cover the paper’s free prostate exam event. Though he clearly doesn’t want to be there, he learns a valuable lesson when he meets a man who has lost (or is losing) three family members to cancer.

“Wars” doesn’t go as in-depth as I would like, but it’s a nice snapshot of the HIGHLY competitive world of tabloid journalism, which is definitely different than anything I studied in journalism school.

“Tabloid Wars” airs new episodes Mondays at 9 p.m. on Bravo.