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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

"The O.C." Moment: Your Friendly Neighborhood Seth Cohen

“I’m from Southern California. I’ll melt,” Seth tells Ryan in the opening scene of “The O.C.” episode, “The Rainy Day Women.” It was pouring the rain, and no one was really sure what to do. In fact, Seth, since he didn’t own a raincoat, wore a Spider-Man mask outside to protect himself. The mask didn’t really make sense at first, but its purpose would soon become awesomely clear…

Summer was at the airport, preparing to fly to Italy with her new boyfriend, Zach. She was going to be a bride’s maid in Zach’s sister’s wedding. Seth, realizing the implications of the trip, made one last attempt to get Summer back. But when it failed, he left a message on her cell phone, wishing her a good trip.

As Summer listened to the message at the airport, she saw a little boy, who looked like Seth, playing with a toy horse (like Seth’s). Realizing she was with the wrong guy, Summer tearfully told Zach that she couldn’t go and took off.

Meanwhile, Seth, discovering that the satellite dish was out at his house, donned his Spider-Man mask and went up on the roof to fix it. But Seth slipped and ended up hanging upside down from the roof, with the dish cord wrapped around his foot.

It was obvious by this point what the purpose of the mask was, but that didn’t make the moment any less special…

When Summer arrived at the house, she found Seth, still hanging. “What are you doing here?” Seth asked her. “What do you think, Cohen?” she replied. Then, of course, she peeled back the Spider-Man mask to expose Seth’s mouth and gave him a kiss—just like in the movie.

The song in the scene was the matt pond PA cover of “Champagne Supernova,” recorded specially for the show. This was a bit of an echo of Seth and Summer’s Valentine’s Day dance to another Oasis cover, Ryan Adams’ “Wonderwall”…

On the DVD commentary for this episode, Creator/Writer Josh Schwartz said he fought hard to keep FOX from using the kiss in the previews, because he wanted to keep it a surprise. I’m glad he won…

If you’d like to relive my other “O.C.” moments, just click on the label below. And be sure to post your own memories.

“The O.C.” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on FOX…

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Sweeps Schedule: February 1st-February 4th

It’s the time of year when people die, get married, have kids, or suddenly become friends with the hottest stars…

That’s right, my friends, it is once again that magical time of year known as sweeps. And it all begins tomorrow (February 1st).

But don’t worry. As usual, I’ll be here to get you through it.

Here’s what special things are planned for this week (February 1st-February 4th)…

Thursday, “Ugly Betty” (8 p.m., ABC) welcomes Katharine McPhee and Tim Gunn and “30 Rock” (9:30 p.m., NBC) welcomes both Paul Reubens (aka Pee-Wee Herman) and Isabella Rossellini. “ER” continues the guest star parade with Academy Award Nominee Forest Whitaker wrapping up his stint. And don’t forget “The O.C.” at 9 p.m. on FOX…

Friday, Steven Weber pays a visit to his former “Wings” co-star Tony Shalhoub on “Monk” (9 p.m., USA). CBS relives the Super Bowl’s greatest commercials with a one-hour special at 9 p.m…

Saturday, Hallmark Channel gets a jump on Valentine’s Day with “Love Is a Four Letter Word,” starring Teri Polo and cutie Robert Mailhouse as opposing divorce attorneys who fall for each other (9 p.m.). We learn who the top two Super Bowl teams of all time are on the final two installments of “America’s Game: The Super Bowl Champions” (2 p.m., CBS). The show has been running since Thanksgiving on the NFL Network, so of course, no one has seen #20-#3. Hope they do a recap. Drew Barrymore hosts “Saturday Night Live” (11:30 p.m., NBC) while Mary Lynn Rajskub (“24”) takes part in a “24” send-up on “Mad TV” (11 p.m., FOX)…

Sunday, sweeps pretty much comes to a halt for Super Bowl XLI. Coverage begins on CBS at noon with NFL Films’ season recap, “The Road to the Super Bowl,” followed by “Phil Simms All-Iron Team.” The pre-game show, “The Super Bowl Today,” goes on the air at 2 p.m. The actual game kicks off at 6:25 p.m. Billy Joel will sing the National Anthem and Prince will perform at halftime. I’m sure the CBS executives are holding their breath…

There are alternatives to the big game with marathons of “Monk” (10 a.m., USA) “The Closer” (11 a.m., TNT) and “My Boys” (5 p.m., TBS). NBC is repeating the last four episodes of “Grease: You’re The One That I Want,” (7 p.m., NBC) while giving fans another opportunity to vote based on last week’s performances (This means you, Derek Keeling fans!)…

The primo post-Super Bowl spot goes to “Criminal Minds” this year which hopes to repeat the success of “Grey’s Anatomy” last year with the first of a two-parter (10 p.m. approx., CBS)…

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All Hail the "Knights of Prosperity"!

Congratulations! You’ve made almost every major TV critic’s list of the best new shows on TV this year. So what kind of reward will you get from your network?

How about a postponement in your premiere date of three months? Then when you finally premiere, you’ll get very little promotion, and it’ll be against a major BCS bowl game. Plus, your second week will be delayed 20 minutes by the President’s speech, so most people will miss it. And as an extra bonus, we’ll throw you up against the #1 show on television…

Welcome to the world of “The Knights of Prosperity.”

I have to give ABC kudos for moving “Knights” away from “American Idol,” but I’m concerned it’s too little too late. The whole reason ABC said they postponed the show’s premiere was because they were afraid it wasn’t getting enough promotion. But if this was the best they were going to do, wouldn’t it have been better to have premiered the show when everyone was talking about it?

As I told you in my earlier post, “Knights” can now be seen at 8:30 p.m. after “George Lopez.” Since it’s no longer against “American Idol,” I urge you to tune into this one—especially if you’re a Nielsen family…

Basically everything you need to know about “Knights” is in its wonderfully cheesy theme song (written by Paul Shaffer of “The Late Show”) performed by Kevin Michael Richardson (Rockefeller)…

“Eugene Gurkin was a janitor cleaning toilets for the man.
Then he decided that he’d had enough. It was time to take a stand.
So he put a crew together and he made a master plan.
Now they’re the Knights of Prosperity doing crimes the best they can…”

The master plan the song speaks of is robbing Mick Jagger. The crew is Eugene, his co-worker, “Squatch;” Gary, a cab driver; Rockefeller, a former bouncer; Esperanza, a waitress; and Louis, the intern. Each week, the Knights—complete with their own t-shirts—overcome another obstacle, getting them one step closer to their goal.

In the premiere, the gang had to get the apartment number and the key. In week two, after discovering they also needed a code, Louis was able to get it from a woman who worked at the security company (Reiko Aylesworth [Michelle, “24”] in a hysterical guest appearance) by getting her to take him back to her apartment. Then, in week three, when she followed Louis to the gang’s hideout (a phony Jewish supply store), Eugene cleverly solved the problem of needing a thumbprint by sticking her thumb in the cream cheese. However, the Knights realized they’d also have to take on armed guards, so Esperanza sweet-talked a security expert into training them. When a security guard saw Rockefeller use his training against a guy hitting on Esperanza, he offered Rockefeller a job interview—at the company in charge of security at Jagger’s apartment. Last week, Rockefeller aced the interview, but had to pass the test of taking a suitcase full of money to Atlantic City. The gang turned on each other as they debated on taking the money and running, but they decided in the end to let Rockefeller deliver the case. It turned out to be the best decision as the money was revealed to be fake and Rockefeller got the job…

As you can tell, “Knights” is not your traditional sitcom, (especially when ABC is stuffing it with four commercial breaks), but if you enjoy funny television—traditional or not—you need to check it out.

“The Knights of Prosperity” airs tonight (Wednesday) at 8:30 p.m. on ABC. You can watch previous episodes on-line at http://www.abc.com/ and be sure to check out the music video…

I also recommend that you tape “In Case of Emergency” at 9:30 p.m. Jonathan Silverman’s Harry gives you a recap at the beginning of each episode, so you won’t be lost. And trust me, you’re going to want to be there when Jason (the adorable David Arquette) finally gets his girl (the surprisingly sexy Lori Loughlin)…

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"24": FINALLY!

During an interview with the cast of “24” before the season started, Larry King asked Jayne Atkinson (Karen Hayes) if “24” could survive without Jack Bauer. Atkinson was a little uncomfortable about answering—since Kiefer Sutherland was sitting right next to her—so Kiefer jumped in to answer for her.

“Absolutely,” he said. Then, Kiefer gave his usual argument about how the time format is the star of the show and how it could go on for years without him…

Now you all know how much I love Kiefer, and it’s not like me to so strongly disagree with him, but he’s dead wrong on this one. There is no “24” without Jack.

And there has been no better proof than the first five episodes of this season. Whereas last year the supporting characters kept us engrossed in their story while Jack was not on-screen; this year, they just couldn’t cut it and the show suffered whenever Jack was missing.

But finally, last night, the supporting characters came to play in a big way led by Peter MacNicol’s Tom Lennox, Atkinson’s Karen Hayes and the brilliant addition of Chad Lowe as Reed Pollock.

[Warning: The remainder of this post contains details about last night’s episode of “24.”]

Extended arguments between characters are not something “24” is known for, but the heated exchange between Karen and Tom that opened the show was a thing of brilliance. Although the whole thing sounds a lot like season two, it’s just different enough—with much more dynamic performances—that I’m still enjoying it.

The supporting characters at CTU came alive as well, as Nadia was handcuffed by Lennox’s policies and Milo (who has been especially annoying) stepped in to help her. The look between the two of them was the most interesting thing those two have done all year (and gives me further evidence that Nadia may be this year's mole).

Even the dreadful Wallid story was solid last night as we discovered that he was risking his life for nothing. I was afraid that story was going to get dragged out way too long, so I’m glad to see I was wrong.

Unfortunately, good things can’t be said about all of the supporting players, though. Regina King’s Sandra Palmer is still incredibly annoying and I have a feeling she’s only going to get worse as we have to listen to her whine about her boyfriend (the aforementioned Wallid) risking his life for nothing. And I was so excited about Wayne (one of my favorite “24” characters of all time) being President, but so far, he’s been a real disappointment. Part of that is in the writing, but a larger part of it is D.B. Woodside’s overdramatic line delivery. It’s a presidential speech, not a Shakespearean monologue, D.B.

And I’m extremely disappointed with the writers’ decision to make Chloe so blah this season. You can’t give her that great look and then not give her something decent to do.

But as I said, there is no “24” without Jack; and he was still gone way too much last night—especially since he was in full-blown snarl mode AND he’s wearing that outfit (I don’t know who the terrorist was that left that shirt and those jeans behind for Jack to put on, but I am so thankful that he did.). Yes, the Graem “I don’t think so” twist was right out of a soap opera, but I am so loving the dynamic between Kiefer and Paul McCrane, that I’m willing to look past it (I know that for most of you McCrane will always be Dr. Romano of “ER,” but for me, he will always be the cop with the best singing voice on “Cop Rock.”). However, if Jack does not find out that it was Graem who got him shipped to China, I’m going to be mad. I’ve got to believe that President Logan figures in there somewhere.

I also liked the dynamic between Kiefer and James Cromwell (Jack’s dad, Phillip). I was initially upset that they did not cast Donald Sutherland, but I’m glad that Donald passed this to his friend. As Kiefer said in “USA Today” yesterday, when he and his dad do work together, it should be a “once in a lifetime” thing and as cool as it may turn out to be, this isn’t it.

There’s no doubt that “24” is doing the slow build this year, but for the first time I feel like it’s actually going somewhere…

FINALLY…

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Manic Monday Becomes Family Monday

Three different shows, all with the same theme—family.

[Warning: The remainder of this post discusses details of last night’s episodes of “Prison Break” and “Heroes.”]

Of course, “Prison Break” has always been about family since it’s about two brothers, but last night they threw in the touchy-feely story of Sucre pursuing Maricruz while bonding with a recent widower. Even Haywire got into the family act as we discovered his father was an abusive drunk when he defended a young woman from her own abusive father. It was actually the first time I cared Haywire was even on screen…

Happy family memories were not the order on “24” either as Jack discovered some bad things about his brother and father (more on that in another post)…

Finally (for me, anyway), “Heroes” was all about family as Nathan struggled to help Peter, D.L. tried to be a single dad, Matt started a new chapter with his wife, Claire found her real mom, and Hiro’s father worked to bring him home.

I have to say it was a bit of a disappointment that we all knew that Hiro’s father was coming on the show, because that could have been a classic “Heroes” cliffhanger. Thankfully, the surprise of seeing the flames come out of Claire’s mom’s fingers made up for it. And my theory of Linderman being her father is becoming more and more probable as the Haitian admitted he didn’t know Claire’s dad.

For me, “Heroes” has yet to make a false step, but I have a bad feeling it’s about to seriously tick me off as the previews give us the distinct impression that HRG may be about to die. All of the magazines, websites, etc., tell us that someone that has been with the show from the very beginning will die and now all the signs point to him—especially now that Eric Roberts is joining the cast (and no one does creepy better than him). I think HRG is a fantastic character and Jack Coleman is doing such a wonderful job with him (Hard to believe he was Steven on “Dynasty.”). I know that because of the nature of his character he can’t stay around forever, I was just hoping he’d be around a little longer.

After all, he’s part of my TV family…

Photos courtesy of Gannett News Service

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Goodbye, Barbaro

He may have been a horse, but he was still a graceful athlete gone way too soon.

Barbaro was put to sleep today after more complications from his injuries at last year's Preakness. As I've said on this blog many times, it's hard not to get wrapped up in the lives of the athletes we care about.

I guess that applies to the ones who aren't even human as well...

Picks of the Week: "Knights" In An "Emergency"

When I was coming up with this week’s picks, I could’ve went with the obvious choice, the Super Bowl, but I figured everybody knew about that one.

Then, I considered going with George Takei’s guest appearance on “Heroes,” but I picked that show last week.

No, this week I decided to go with two shows that seriously need your help—and clearly their network agrees since they just announced new timeslots for them this morning: “The Knights of Prosperity” and “In Case of Emergency.”

In my original post about the show, I said that “Knights” was not laugh-out-loud funny, but I was wrong. I laugh out loud pretty much non-stop through each episode. And lately, some of that laughter has continued through “In Case of Emergency.” In my original post about it, I said that its “in case of emergency” person needed to be a good writer. Well, apparently it was, because the show has gotten progressively better each week…

“The Knights of Prosperity” now airs Wednesday, January 31st at 8:30 p.m. on ABC. “In Case of Emergency” remains at 9:30 p.m. Be sure to come back Wednesday for my recap to get you caught up…

How Did Derek Do?

Because I was watching the SAG Awards (and my paltry 2 out of 8 correct predictions), I only caught some of “Grease: You’re the One That I Want.” But I did catch Derek Keeling’s performance, and based on the recap, I thought he did quite well.

Among the judges, only David Ian, “the most powerful person in British theater,” chose Derek as the best Danny. Kathleen Marshall, the new Broadway show’s producer, chose Austin, Jim Jacobs, the co-creator of “Grease,” chose Chad and Olivia Newton-John abstained from choosing.

For me (and again, this is just based on the recap), Derek’s biggest competition last night was Kevin—but that’s probably just because he did “Walking In Memphis” and I love that song. Chad sounded good, but he didn’t appear to have that much stage presence. Jason and Max were totally unmemorable and Matt had the complete wrong look. As for Austin, the “hot” Danny (whose performance I did see), running up and down stairs is not stage presence. And he missed every single high note he attempted on “Mony, Mony.”

Derek wisely chose “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” a song that would allow him to show off his moves—and he definitely has them. He may not have the strongest voice of the six Dannys, but he’s got the perfect voice for the “Grease” songbook and he totally looks the part.

I don’t think Derek is in any danger of getting eliminated, but we “Idol” fans know how much of a curse going first can sometimes be…

And there’s one other problem. Because some dumb programmer at NBC started the voting part of the show the week before the Super Bowl, as they told us last night, it will be two weeks before we get another new episode. But what they didn’t tell us is that according to the NBC website—which has not been updated to include what happened on last night’s show—viewers will have another chance to vote on last night’s performances next week. NBC is re-airing the past three episodes next Sunday beginning at 7 p.m. Last night’s episode will air at 10 p.m., with voting re-opening between 10:55 p.m. and 5 a.m.

I will make sure and keep you posted on those developments, so all of you Derek fans can vote!

Whatever happens, Derek is sure to get excellent exposure as Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber will sit in on the next judge’s panel.
By the way, if you want a theater person's point of view on Derek's run, be sure to visit Chuck Minsker's "Tri-State Theater" blog...
Photo courtesy of NBC.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Is Derek "The One That We Want"?

Okay. I have to admit. I had no intention of ever watching “Grease: You’re the One That I Want.”

But now that the show has a local connection, I have no choice but to tune in.

If you missed it, Derek Keeling, from Scott Depot, WV (He lists Charleston on the NBC website.), is one of the six finalists for the role of Danny in the new Broadway production. Derek is a graduate of Winfield High School and was a member of Winfield’s show choir.

On the show, Derek is known as the “wholesome” Danny. He’s definitely the best looking.

Interestingly, two of the finalists for the role of Sandy are Buckeyes with one from Massillon and one from Cincinnati.

If you want to tune in to see Derek, “Grease” airs Sunday (January 28th) at a special time of 7 p.m. on NBC. You can watch previous episodes at www.nbc.com...

Friday-Free-For-All: "Grey's Anatomy"

I thought I would kick off this week’s Free-For-All with a chance for all of you “Grey’s Anatomy” fans to comment on your show.

I don’t watch “Grey’s,” so I never comment on it, but I know a lot of you must have things to say—probably more about what’s happening behind-the-scenes than about the show itself.

So feel free to post your thoughts about “Grey’s” or any other show you want to discuss.

Remember that if you want to talk “American Idol,” you can go to “Idol Chit-Chat” and post your comments there…

My Screen Actors Guild (TV) Predictions

So I was 3 of 8 on my Golden Globes picks—although since I knew that Jeremy Irons would be tough to beat, I think it was more like 3 ½…

So I’m going to give it another shot with the Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAGs). The SAGs are special because they are voted on by the actors themselves and not based on whatever episode an actor submitted. In other words, justice is usually served.

Here are my predictions…

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
James Gandolfini, “The Sopranos”
Michael C. Hall, “Dexter”
Hugh Laurie, “House”
James Spader, “Boston Legal”
Kiefer Sutherland, “24”
Will Win: Michael C. Hall. I know I predicted him for the Golden Globes, but I still feel like he’s going to get some recognition from somewhere. Kiefer has taken this one home two out of the last three years, but since he finally won his Emmy last year, I think the SAGs will show some love to someone else.
Want to Win: Why not three out of four?

Female Actor in a Drama
Patricia Arquette, “Medium”
Edie Falco, “The Sopranos”
Mariska Hargitay, “Law & Order: SVU”
Kyra Sedgwick, “The Closer”
Chandra Wilson, “Grey’s Anatomy”
Will Win: Edie Falco. I know, I was wrong about her at the Globes too; but I’m still feeling that someone will want to “right an Emmy wrong.”
Want to Win: Kyra Sedgwick. Might as well be two-for-two.

Male Actor in a Comedy
Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock”
Steve Carell, “The Office”
Jason Lee, “My Name Is Earl”
Jeremy Piven, “Entourage”
Tony Shalhoub, “Monk”
Will Win: Alec Baldwin. This guy is on a hot streak.
Want to Win: Anyone but Tony Shalhoub. Hasn’t this guy won enough?

Female Actor in a Comedy
America Ferrera, “Ugly Betty”
Felicity Huffman, “Desperate Housewives”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “The New Adventures of Old Christine”
Megan Mullaly, “Will & Grace”
Mary Louise-Parker, “Weeds”
Jamie Pressly, “My Name Is Earl”
Will Win: Megan Mullaly. Conventional wisdom says that America Ferrera is on a hot streak, but this is the last chance for the SAGs to honor a perennial favorite—and she could use the good news.
Want to Win: America Ferrera. She deserves another chance to walk away with an award without a reporter asking her about how the network didn’t want her for the part.

Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series
“24”
“Boston Legal”
“Deadwood”
“Grey’s Anatomy”
“The Sopranos”
Will Win: “24.” Conventional wisdom says “Grey’s Anatomy.” But with the critically acclaimed Gregory Itzin and Jean Smart in your ensemble, not to mention a two-time SAG winner, I’ve got to think you’ve got a good shot.
Want to Win: “24,” of course. I mean, do we really want to give the “Grey’s” cast another chance to talk to the press?

Ensemble in a Comedy
“Desperate Housewives”
“Entourage”
“The Office”
“Ugly Betty”
“Weeds”
Will Win: “The Office.” Just a gut feeling.
Want to Win: “Entourage.” No reason. I just like those guys.

Interestingly, “Boston Legal” was shut out of the nominations last year because it chose to compete in the comedy categories. Obviously someone made the right decision this year.

And for the record, Kiefer’s SAG winning streak was only broken when they wisely chose to honor the late, great Jerry Orbach—the only time I’ve ever been thrilled to see Kiefer lose an award.

The “SAG Awards” air Sunday, January 28th at 8 p.m. on both TNT and TBS…

"The O.C.": Happy Doesn't Always Make Sense

Oftentimes, when a show knows it’s going off the air, it tries so hard to give everyone a happy ending that the stories don’t make sense.

Unfortunately, that’s what seems to be happening to my beloved “The O.C.,” as you well know if you saw last night’s episode…

Warning: The remainder of this post gives details about last night’s episode.

You know that I think Taylor and Ryan are a great couple, but didn’t they make up just a little too quickly? Taylor gets a therapist, who tells her not to speak to Ryan—which of course Taylor can’t do—until Taylor can get herself together. That made sense. But when Ryan shows up at the end of the episode, Taylor just chucks all of her pretty speeches out the window and goes with Ryan. And Ryan, even though Taylor has been ignoring him for weeks, just sweeps everything under the rug.

On second thought, maybe that was completely realistic…

I like that the show is trying to give Julie a happy ending and Bullet proposing to her totally makes sense, since his character is naturally impetuous. But Frank proposing to her (as cool of an idea as that is) doesn’t make us much sense since they’ve only been dating for a few weeks—although the passage of time on this show gets murkier by the week. And Ryan would help his abusive dad get together with Julie—Marissa’s mother—why?

As annoying as Che was starting to get, that story ended way too quickly. Wouldn’t it have been a lot funnier if Summer found out that Che thought her boyfriend was his soulmate? And is it just me or do Summer and Seth never have any scenes together anymore? I can’t help but think that the Adam Brody-Rachel Bilson split is starting to affect storylines.

And as for the Kirsten pregnancy, I’m not really sure what to say about that. If the show wasn’t cancelled, I might say that it was a clever twist in the Cohen family dynamic. But now it kind of rings hollow. I would rather think of Kirsten and Sandy spending the rest of their lives together—just the two of them—with Sandy righting injustices and Kirsten planning the parties to celebrate when he does.

So, yes, I’m a little disappointed at the show’s closing stretch, but I’m still holding out hope that the ending will be worth all of the stuff we had to go through to get there.

Remember that the series finale of “The O.C.” airs February 22nd on FOX—just four episodes away…

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

"The O.C." Moment: "Hallelujah"

If my life had a soundtrack, then whenever something bad happened to me, there would be someone singing, “Hallelujah, hallelujah…” just like on “The O.C.”

The song made its debut on the show in the second episode. Trying to protect Ryan from the police, Seth and Marissa hid Ryan in the Newport Group model home. To help him pass the time, Marissa made Ryan a “Model Home Mix” CD. “This song reminds me of you,” she told him, as we were introduced to those now familiar sounds…

“Well I heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?”

Marissa had come to the home to spend the night with Ryan, but he told her they were too different and kicked her out. The song continued to play as she cried while driving away…

“Well it goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing hallelujah”

The song’s big moment, though, was in the season one finale during the gutwrenching final scenes. The song began as Ryan rode away with Theresa, driving past Marissa standing at the curb—just as in the series premiere. I still get sick to my stomach every time I hear it…

“Hallelujah, hallelujah.
Hallelujah, hallelujah”

After almost a two-year absence, the song resurfaced for another tragic moment in the relationship of Ryan and Marissa—Marissa’s death. The song played in the closing moments as she died in Ryan’s arms. This time, however, the song had a female voice…

“Well your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you”

“Hallelujah” has been used on numerous shows, including “Grey’s Anatomy;” but for me, it will always signify the most tragic moments of “The O.C.” It was written by Leonard Cohen for his 1984 album, “Various Positions.” But most music critics agree that the seminal version (heard in the first season) is by the late Jeff Buckley, which can be found on his 1994 album, “Grace.” The song has been recorded by many other artists, including Imogen Heap (the female voice in season three) and Rufus Wainwright for the “Shrek” soundtrack.

Interestingly, “Hallelujah” is not on any of the six “O.C.” soundtracks. The Imogen Heap version was scheduled to appear on “Mix 6” (the most recent CD), but it didn’t make the cut. I have to wonder if the producers were letting the song go, or just the memory of Marissa.

I know that I said earlier that I had better not hear the song again before the show goes off the air, but the truth is, when something bad happens (notice I didn’t say if), and they don’t play it, I’m going to be mad. So what if it makes people think about Marissa…

“The O.C.” airs Thursday at 9 p.m. on FOX…

“And she tied you to her kitchen chair
And she broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah…”

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A New Home For "Idol"

If you're looking for my thoughts on tonight's episode of "American Idol," you won't find them here.

After all, a show with 37 million viewers deserves its own space, right?

So, from now on, you can get your "Idol" fix at "Idol Chit-Chat." Just click on the link to the right to check it out.

Don't worry. "Stay Tuned" isn't going anywhere, so keep checking for all of the latest TV news...

Congrats to Jennifer Hudson!

It's happened, ladies and gentlemen. An "American Idol" contestant has been nominated for an Academy Award.

Congratulations to Jennifer Hudson for her Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role as Effie in "Dreamgirls." I haven't seen the movie, so you can tell me whether she's got as good of a chance of winning as everyone says she has...

By the way, for those of you who read this blog for your "American Idol" fix, there is something special coming very soon, so Stay Tuned for the details...

I Survived "Manic Monday!"

I feel like I should get a t-shirt printed that says “I survived my first Manic Monday!”

With “Prison Break,” “24,” and “Heroes” back-to-back (I watched “Heroes” on tape.) my brain is in total overload. But I’ll see if I can’t muster up some thoughts…

Warning: The rest of this post gives details about last night’s episodes of “Prison Break,” “24,” and “Heroes.”

So, let’s have a show of hands from everyone who knew that Steadman was going to blow his brains out on “Prison Break.” Yeah, me too. But crazy twists you see coming a mile away are part of the show’s charm. I just wish they wouldn’t waste so much time with the other escapees—especially T-Bag. The previews make it look like Mahone and Kellerman are going to work together to bring down The Company. I really hope that’s the case…

On “24,” it’s a family affair as we met Jack’s brother, Graem—the same Graem who plotted with President Logan and (who we learned last night) turned Jack in to the Chinese. I don’t buy that Jack and Graem look like brothers, but I find it interesting that Jack’s brother is a bad guy. Plus, I’ll look forward to the hour when Jack discovers what his brother did to him.

But here’s a tip for the show. If you were going to surprise us with this, you should’ve kept Paul McCrane’s name off the credits and had FOX keep him out of the previews. I saw it coming.

And is there any way one of those suitcase bombs could go off at CTU? Everyone is so blah! Not to mention that this year’s story is sounding an awful lot like season two. And I hated season two…

How great was it on “Heroes” when Claire asked the Haitian what “save the cheerleader, save the world” meant? And I loved that she redid the video to get her friend back.

I also love how all of these characters interconnect. It’s absolutely brilliant. My theory is that Linderman is Claire’s real father (although that would disagree with what the Haitian told Claire).

I read in a magazine that Peter’s recurring dream contains a lot of hints about upcoming events. You should pay special attention to the way the characters appear (what they’re wearing, their order of appearance, etc.). It’s apparently important that Claire is in her cheerleading uniform…

An international psychologist said that yesterday was the most depressing day of the year. I couldn’t disagree more.

Busy, yes. Depressing, no way.

But I’m not sure how I’m going to handle another five months like this…

"Desperate Housewives": I Watch Too Much TV

Warning: This post contains details about Sunday’s “Desperate Housewives.”

Okay, it’s official. I watch too much TV.

How else would I have recognized that Alma was giving herself hormone treatments so that she could get pregnant [See http://media.herald-dispatch.com/blog/tuned/2007/01/desperate-housewives-welcome-surprise.html]?

But fortunately, Marc Cherry gave it a classic “Desperate Housewives” twist so I didn’t totally ruin the fun.

Unfortunately, however, we will have to wait until February 11th for a new episode (the previews conveniently forgot to tell us that), just when things are getting interesting.

And there’s another problem. As you’ve probably heard, Marcia Cross (Bree) has been put on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy. The writers had already planned for her departure, but they weren’t expecting it this soon. So, Marc Cherry had to make changes to the February 11th episode. I’m concerned that the rewrites will rob us of a proper resolution to this season’s central mystery; but I’m willing to wait and see (Just wish we didn’t have to wait so long!).

I’m also concerned because the absence of Bree probably means we’ll get more Susan and Ian. For such a hottie, Ian is about as interesting as watching paint dry (Dougray Scott’s phoning-it-in performance isn’t helping.). If this was “24,” I’d be doing my “I hope he’s the next to die” dance about now. And with friends like Susan, no one on that street needs enemies.

I was also disappointed that Paul was only using Mike to get to Zach. I was hoping he had something more devious in mind. And as for Zach, I don’t know what to think about that…

So what do you think?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Picks of the Week: "Manic Monday"

I hope your VCR/DVR is in working order, because you’re going to need it, as the two best choices this week air at the exact same time…

The big event is the return of “Heroes” with its new catchphrase, “Are you on the list?” and the promise of more answers, like the identity of Claire’s parents. “Heroes” airs Monday (January 22nd) at 9 p.m. on NBC…

But don’t forget “24,” as we see the fallout of last week’s whopper of an ending. I’ve seen the first 10 minutes of this one and they’re amazing. “24” airs at 9 p.m. on FOX…

I should also mention that “Prison Break” (8 p.m., FOX) and “Studio 60” (10 p.m., NBC) return Monday with new episodes as well…

“It’s just another Manic Monday…”

Friday, January 19, 2007

"Idol" Soundoff: Are Things More Mean This Year?

Everything I have read so far about the first two episodes of "American Idol" says that people feel the auditions are more mean this year.

So what do you guys think? Are the judges being more mean, or are the producers just picking people that make it come off that way?

Just post a comment to give your opinion...

Friday Free-For-All: January 19, 2007

All right everyone, what's on your mind today?

Idol News: Taylor's First Single & "Larry King Live"

Here's a piece of advice to the people at J Records, the home of Taylor Hicks. Sending out an e-mail at 7:10 p.m. to tell us about a show that airs at 9 p.m. is not going to help you.

So if you're like me, you missed Taylor and Fantasia on Larry King Live last night. If I get any repeat information, I'll pass it along to you...

However, J has wisely chosen "Just To Feel That Way" as Taylor's "first" single. I put first in quotation marks, because that's what J is calling it. I could have sworn "The Runaround" was his first single, since that's the song he sang during all of his TV appearances. It's too bad they didn't make this decision then, because I think it would've really helped sales, since "Way" is a beautiful ballad with serious radio potential.

I also can't help thinking that releasing the "first" single over a month after the album's release date is not a good thing...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

"Jump In!" With Your Whole Family

Move over “High School Musical” and “Cheetah Girls,” Disney Channel has found a new phenomenon—double dutch.

Last Friday, the premiere of the original movie, “Jump In!” became the channel’s most-watched telecast ever with 8.2 million viewers. That surpasses the premiere of “HSM,” which had 7.8 million viewers.

If you missed it, “Jump In!” stars Corbin Bleu (“High School Musical”) as Izzy, an up and coming boxer, who discovers he has a knack for double dutch. But this isn’t the traditional double dutch you did as a kid. These routines are extremely complicated as the jumpers dance, do handstands and turn flips—all while the ropes keep moving.

At first, Izzy has no interest in double dutch, but when he’s forced to take his little sister to a competition, he realizes just how cool it is. And when his neighbor, Mary (Keke Palmer, “Akeelah and the Bee”) is in need of a fourth person on her team, he jumps in. However, Izzy’s dad, (Bleu’s real life dad, David Reivers) has dreams of Izzy winning the Golden Gloves Tournament. Plus, Izzy is concerned about what his classmates—and the school bully—will think of him participating in such a “girl” thing. Eventually, Izzy must choose what he really wants to do.

“Jump In!” is no “High School Musical,” but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching—because it is. It gets a little overly sentimental in parts, and some of the dialogue can get a little annoying (How many times can you hear someone say that double dutch is their whole life?), but the ending is one of the sweetest I’ve seen in a long time. You know what’s coming, but the movie throws in a twist that makes it all the more special. And Bleu is so cute, you can’t help but fall in love with him.

The soundtrack is really good too, although it overpowers some of the movie, and the double dutch—which Bleu and Palmer do a lot of themselves—is amazing.

If you’re looking for a movie for your whole family—and you’re a little tired of hearing “Getcha Head in the Game” over and over—then “Jump In!”

“Jump In!” airs tonight (Thursday, January 18th) at 8 p.m. on Disney Channel…



Photos courtesy of Gannett News Service

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

"The O.C." Moment: Merry Chrismakkuh!

“Drawing on the best that Christianity and Judaism have to offer,” Chrismakkuh made its debut December 3, 2003.

In one of the show’s patented rapid-fire dialogue opening teasers, “The O.C.” introduced us to Seth’s super holiday that consisted of “eight days of presents followed by one day of many presents.” And if you were one of Seth’s girlfriends, one of those presents would be the Seth Cohen starter pack which consisted of CDs from Death Cab for Cutie, Bright Eyes, The Shins, Kavalier and Clay and a DVD of “The Goonies”—because “it’s not just for kids.”

Of course, Ryan wasn’t eager to jump in at first since the holidays brought back bad memories for him, but thanks to a “Chrismakkuh miracle,” Ryan was able to see the light.

Or was the Chrismakkuh miracle Seth’s present of Summer in the Wonder Woman costume?...

Chrismakkuh became an annual tradition for the show, and with the exception of this year, it usually marked the best episode of the season.

In season two, the yarmaclaus (from the Jewish yarmulke) was added to the tradition as the Cohen family brought the holiday to Lindsay, Kirsten’s newly discovered sister (and Ryan’s girlfriend). In season three, to raise money for Marissa’s friend, Johnny, Seth threw a Chrismakkuh Bar Mitzvah-kah for Ryan—which gave Seth the Bar Mitzvah he always wanted (which included the Bar Mitzvah song, “That’s What Friends Are For”). This season, Ryan and Taylor traveled to an alternate universe where Sandy and Julie were married, Kirsten was married to Jimmy, and Summer was engaged to Che (who was sleeping with Julie). They were able to leave when Taylor told off her mom and Ryan said goodbye to Marissa.

I have to say I’m sad that I won’t be celebrating any more Chrismakkuhs with the Cohens. It almost makes me wish I had a half-Jewish family of my own…

Be sure to join me next Thursday for another trip down memory lane. In the meantime, feel free to share your “O.C.” memories by posting a comment…

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"American Idol" In "The Land of Confusion"

The promos promised us a wild one. And boy did we get it.

I have to say that this was the craziest audition show I’ve ever seen in the six years I’ve been watching.

Here are some of my impressions…

The “I Shot the Sheriff” guy came back?! Are you kidding me?! He flew all the way to Seattle from West Virginia for that?! And how could the producers let him back on after he admitted last year that he was just trying to get on TV?…

The Hotness?! Someone has to be writing this stuff! And you just knew she was going to be bad. She seriously needs to work on her comebacks too…

Please tell me “The Hotness” and the “I Shot the Sheriff” guy did not come together…

Man, these contestants just won’t quit, will they?...

That expression on the face of Mischa’s mom when she heard the lyrics to “Don’t Cha” was priceless. No wonder Randy invited her in…

When Randy heard third time, he wrote Thomas (the guy with the afro) off. Good thing he could sing…

Was I the only one surprised that Melissa Carlene could sing? If she had picked another song—and another outfit…

I loved Blake, the beat-boxer! And I usually always agree with Simon…

Could Shyamali be a little more cocky? I liked her brother better too. And boy, was she jealous of him. I have a feeling we’ll see them as a story in Hollywood…

Never sing Simon’s favorite song unless you’re sure you’re good. Did you see Paula’s look to the producers? She was practically begging them to let her cut Nicholas off...

How about that Rudy (“Open Arms”)?! Why did Simon not like him? I’m totally disagreeing with him tonight. But after all that, can you blame him for being in a bad mood?...

Seven people on day one?! Yipes!!!...

I don’t know what was sadder—Kenneth’s singing or the fact that he actually studied the *NSync dance moves. And Randy, I don’t think he was going for funny…

How did Ryan keep a straight face when Kenneth said Jonathan sounded pretty good? Those two will be back…

I agree with Simon that Eric (the Taylor Hicks look-alike) was a little inebriated as Security makes its first appearance of the season…

Did you see Simon checking out Anna’s legs? Of course, how could he not at 6’7”? She needs to do Ryan a favor and stop wearing heels…

I would say that Jordin is an early favorite, but I said that same thing about Lisa Tucker and we see how that turned out…

Just seven others?! Boy, Simon wasn’t kidding about how bad Seattle was…

I hope the judges walk out with Security because some of these people are seriously scary—like Red…

So what are your thoughts on Seattle, the “land of confusion”? Just post a comment to get us started…

And remember, don’t sing it. Just bring it…

This Just In: "Idol" Bigger Than Ever

Every year, experts talk about whether this is the year that "American Idol" viewership starts to decline.

Better luck next year, folks...

"Variety" is reporting that Tuesday's two-hour premiere ranks as the second highest-rated episode of the series with 37.3 million viewers. Only the Ruben vs. Clay May 2003 season finale rated higher. The ratings for the premiere were up 5% over last year's.

Remember that the premiere continues tonight with another two hours beginning at 8 p.m. on FOX. I'll be here after the show with my thoughts on tonight's contestants.

And from the looks of the previews, it should be interesting...

Idol News: A Katharine Sneak Peek


You can now hear Katharine McPhee’s first single “Over It,” at http://music.aol.com/franchise/firstlisten/katharine-mcphee-new-songs. It actually kind of grows on you.

You can also hear snippets of three other songs from her CD. “Open Toes” will make you laugh out loud—and that’s not a good thing.

Oh, and about that sexy album cover, Katharine says she didn’t pick it. Her choice was more conservative, but she says “you have to pick your battles.” Since she’s showing almost no skin and “no crotch shot,” she thinks it’s that much sexier. Okay…

Be sure to let me know what you think of the songs. Remember that Katharine’s CD drops January 30th…

Goodbye to "Passions"

I have to say that this one came as a bit of a shocker...

After eight years, NBC has cancelled "Passions." The move comes after NBC's decision to expand "Today" to four hours.

The network's contract with the show ends in June, but NBC is hoping to extend it until August when "Today" will begin its fourth hour.

Because the show is SO popular with young women, it's believed that NBC will try and find some way to keep the show alive. "Variety" reports some of the possibilities are an on-line serial, producing the show for SoapNet, or even producing it for the struggling MyNetworkTV.

I never watched "Passions" because of my anger over it replacing my favorite soap of all time, "Another World," but I am sad to hear of its demise. Any time a soap is cancelled, it's bad news for the others still on the air.

And you can't help but worry about "Days of Our Lives"--just when it's starting to get good again...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

"American Idol": "Minne-hopeless"

As I’ve said before I really don’t like the bad audition rounds, so I didn’t think that I would be so excited.

But when I heard that theme song, it was hard not to get fired up…

However, that euphoria quickly evaporated as expanding one city to two hours meant many more painful auditions and watching young girls bawl.

For me, the most entertaining part of tonight’s show was watching Simon take shots at Jewel. It was clear that he didn’t want her there; and I have to agree with him. Why are guest judges necessary? And I wonder if producers knew she’d be co-hosting “Nashville Star” when they hired her...

Here are some of my thoughts on the contestants…

I thought that Jessica, the Jewel fan, sounded just as good as Jewel. I hate that song! I hope listening to someone else sing it taught Jewel that she should never again record a song about making pancakes…

I understand that people love the bad auditions, but why did we have to wait so long for a good one?...

Was I the only one who was surprised that Charles (Apollo Creed) actually had a voice? I’m betting he’ll be back…

You just knew that Denise, the crack baby, was going to be good. Yikes! But someone should tell her that song’s called “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” And next year, people will be saying that’s Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson’s song…

Were the producers telling the judges to not cut the “Kiss” girl off, so we could see that whole mess? That was painful…

Why didn’t someone put up a sign so that Simon didn’t have to keep telling the contestants “wrong door”?...

You know as soon as Perla opened her mouth that Simon was thinking, “Woo hoo! I’ve found the next Shakira!” And does Ryan have to agree to not fraternize with the contestants as well, or can he ask Perla out?...

I like that someone chose Billy Ocean’s “Suddenly,” I just wish that someone would’ve actually sung it…

How awesome was Jarrod Fowler (the Navy guy)? Yes, he may have had some pitch problems, but Simon wasn’t going to let him get away since he could tell he’s got serious potential. He’s my favorite so far…

I would never admit that I was a vocal teacher until I was sure they liked me. Randy was using that against him, but I agree that his audition was a little scary. Maybe Randy reacted so badly because he was afraid he’d give vocal coaches a bad name and no one would buy his and Paula’s CD…

Did you see how Simon’s head shot up when he heard Michelle’s voice? The wheels were turning…

Okay, that whole “Fever” thing with Dana and her boss was a little creepy. I wonder what his wife thought when she heard Randy and Simon say Dana’s in love with her husband? And what did Dana think?...

Simon said Matt Coto had something. That something was serious cuteness. Loved his choice of “California Dreamin’.”

Poor Jason’s mom. She was so embarrassed by his cursing. And did you see her casually take the sticks out of his hand before he hurt someone?...

I think Randy’s right about Prince never coming on the show again. He’ll probably never let his songs be used again either…

Poor Josh. He actually managed to learn an ABBA song and he still didn’t get through…

Only 17 made it to Hollywood?! That’s pretty bad…

And it looks like it’s only going to get worse tomorrow…

Just click on Post a Comment below to share your thoughts on “Minne-hopeless”…

Some Sad News...

Today's been a rough day TV news wise, as we've lost two familiar faces...

First, I was stunned to hear that Benny Parsons had lost his fight with lung cancer. Those of you who are regular readers know that I've been hard on BP in the past, but I actually enjoyed his commentary on the year's final races. BP also hosted a weekly radio show that you could always hear blaring out of my dad' s garage. He was a giant of NASCAR and he will be sorely missed. You can read more at www.nbcsports.com...

One of daytime's leading ladies also lost her battle with cancer over the weekend. Darlene Conley, who played Sally Spectra on "The Bold and the Beautiful," died Sunday. There is no word on how the show will deal with her death. Spectra had the honor of being the only daytime star chosen by the world famous Madame Tussaud’s to have her character displayed in their gallery of wax figures, in both Amsterdam and Las Vegas. You can read more at www.cbs.com/daytime/bb...

"American Idol": Tonight's the Night

Tonight’s the night we’ve all been waiting for—the return of “American Idol.”

“Idol” premieres tonight at 8 on FOX. Don’t forget that immediately after the show (or as immediately after as I can get typing), you can post your reactions to tonight’s episode…

A Chance to See For Yourself

If it seemed I was being a little vague in my "24" post, it's because I don't want to spoil it for those of you who may want to see it for yourself since FOX is giving you the chance to do just that...


FOX is releasing the four-hour premiere on DVD today. The DVD will also give you the first 10 minutes of Monday's episode.

Now, why, you may ask, is FOX going to these extraordinary lengths to hook viewers? I think we can thank a certain cheerleader for that...
Don't worry, I'll have much more to say about "24" later--especially about a certain star's comment that the show could survive without Jack Bauer...




"24": Welcome Back!

At 9:52 Monday night, I still had no idea what I was going to say about the premiere of “24.”

The first three hours and 52 minutes had been kind of ho-hum for me. The show was trying too hard to introduce all of its new characters and Jack wasn’t getting enough screen time.

But mostly, I was bummed because “TV Guide” had given away the big shocker—the one the promos had promised would “change everything.” But just like Karen and President Palmer not trusting Jack’s instincts, I didn’t trust the writers to surprise me. You’d think that after six seasons, we would all know better.

[Unlike “TV Guide,” I will give you a spoiler warning. If you don’t want to know what happened, stop reading now.]

Now, in “TV Guide”s defense, they didn’t tell us who was going to die, they just said that Jack would have an emotional breakdown after he was forced to kill a familiar face in a situation out in the field. But since Curtis is the only familiar face that would be out in the field and since Roger Cross was the only returning actor not in this year’s cast photo, it really didn’t take much to figure it out (Instead of making Cross do “Larry King Live” to throw us off, I think the show would have been better served to just silence “TV Guide.”). But even without the spoiler, it was pretty obvious that something was going to go down between Jack and Curtis.

However, when it did, not only was it not suspenseful, it seemed totally pointless. Was this really the big stunner the promos had promised us? Was Jack’s breakdown really what was going to change everything?

Thankfully, the answer to both questions was a resounding no. The death of Curtis came off as pointless because it was just a distraction. While we were trying to figure out why it had happened and were totally engrossed in watching our beloved bad--- Jack fall apart, we didn’t see the big stunner coming. With CTU closing in on their location (thanks to Jack’s help), the terrorists detonated a nuclear bomb on American soil, just outside the Los Angeles city limits. I sat in stunned silence for at least two minutes as all the characters, including Jack, reacted to the site of the mushroom cloud.

And as the screen went black with the familiar ticking clock, I finally figured out what I wanted to say…

Welcome back, “24.” It’s been a long seven months without you…

Picks of the Week: Heroes Unite While Doctors Sing

This week’s picks feature a comic fanboy’s (or fangirl’s) dream coming true and one of TV’s funniest shows getting downright musical…

I don’t watch “Smallville,” but an appearance by the Justice League is definitely worth noting—even if it’s not the JLA we all know. Past “Smallville” visitors Impulse, Aquaman, Cyborg, and Green Arrow unite to investigate Lex Luthor’s “33.1” project. Eventually, Clark Kent (who is not yet Superman) joins up with them. Ironically, Alan Ritchson, who plays Aquaman, was replaced in the failed “Aquaman” pilot by Justin Hartley, who plays Green Arrow. Producers liked him so much they created another part for him. “Smallville” airs Thursday, January 18th at 8 p.m. on the CW…

Scrubs” fans know that the show has always been pretty musical. Remember the barbershop quartet doing “Charles In Charge”? Or how about the classic “Overkill” episode? Well now the show is going all the way for an all-musical episode, written by the Tony-winning team behind “Avenue Q.” Like every good musical, there’s a classic love song, only this time it’s between two guy friends—Turk and J.D., of course—called “Guy Love.” “Scrubs airs Thursday, January 18th at 9 p.m. on NBC…

A Lesson Learned

Let this be a lesson for all of us who are responsible for putting content on the web:

Always update your website since there may be someone out there somewhere freaking out.

If you visit the Time Warner Cable website today, you’ll see that it still says the agreement with Sinclair Broadcasting has been extended until January 12th.

Those of you who have Time Warner know that both WCHS and WVAH are still on the air, so I presume that some sort of settlement has been reached. That would’ve been nice to know Friday, so I didn’t have to worry all night about formulating my backup plan. If anyone hears the official story on the TWC-SBG thing, you can let me know.

In the meantime, I will be making sure my blog is up to date with my Picks of the Week and a review of the season premiere of “24.”

I don’t want anyone freaking out…

Friday, January 12, 2007

Friday Free-For-All: January 12, 2007

Since we may have some new readers this week, I thought we'd bring back the "Friday Free-For-All."

Every Friday, this is your chance to talk about the shows you want to talk about. Got questions about your favorite shows? I want to hear those too.

Just post a comment to get us started...

The Following Took Place Last Season...

Because my new mission in life is to get everyone to watch “24” (since my “O.C.” mission didn’t work), here’s the “Readers’ Digest” version of what you need to know to get caught up…

When last season’s day started, everyone thought that former Counter Terrorist Unit agent Jack Bauer was dead. Jack was forced to fake his own death after people within the White House ordered him killed. The Chinese Government had discovered that it was Jack who led a mission that resulted in the death of the Chinese consulate (at the hands of his own men). Jack was to be turned over to the Chinese, but people connected to the President felt that Jack was too valuable to the Chinese and needed to die. Former President David Palmer tipped Jack off and Tony, Michelle and Chloe helped him fake his death.

But when President Palmer and Michelle were killed, Tony was critically injured and Chloe was targeted for death, Jack came out of hiding. And when a terrorist threat emerged, Jack was reinstated to CTU by President Logan. However, by the end of the day, Jack was bringing President Logan to justice.

Logan was involved in an elaborate scheme with a mysterious man named Graem and Jack’s mentor, Christopher Henderson. The plan was to sell weaponized nerve gas to Russian separatists. The Russians believed they were sending the gas to Moscow, but the Americans were just using the Russians so they could detonate the gas at a stopover point to destroy terrorist camps. President Palmer discovered the plot, so Henderson ordered him killed. But to eliminate any problems with Jack (who Henderson had discovered was alive) and to distract CTU, Henderson targeted the three other people who had helped Jack fake his death in order to implicate Jack in Palmer’s murder. Meanwhile, the Russians discovered the double cross and ended up using the gas on American soil—including at CTU. By the time the day was over, even more of Jack’s friends were dead, including Tony. Henderson did not survive the day either, as he was executed by Jack.

Jack was able to thwart the Russian plan and bring Logan to justice—with the help of the slightly unbalanced First Lady, Martha Logan. But before Jack could reunite with his love, Audrey, he was kidnapped by the Chinese who were still looking for revenge. When last we saw Jack he was beaten to a pulp, begging for death on a boat headed for China…

As I said, that’s the abbreviated version (I don’t have enough time and space to tell you all of the really cool things that happened.). But if you have questions along the way, I’m here to help you.

“24” premieres Sunday at 8 pm. on FOX…

Idol News: Are You Ready for Idol Ice Cream?

The “American Idol” brand will be expanding more than ever before this year as rights holder Fremantle media cooks up more and more deals.

The three major sponsors will all be back this season with new promotions. Ford will give viewers a chance to appear in the finalist videos. Coca-Cola will allow viewers to submit questions to the contestants via MyCokeRewards.com. And Cingular customers will be able to download performance clips from the show.

McDonald’s, MasterCard and others will help support the website, AmericanIdol.com. The site will stream the entire show after it airs.

Plus, there will be plenty of “Idol” on store shelves as Coke will promote the show on its cans, Nestle will sell “Idol” candy bars and Dreyer’s will introduce “Idol” ice cream flavors including “Hollywood Cheesecake” and “Drumstick Diva.”

Other deals being negotiated include “Idol” Monopoly and an “Idol” theme-park attraction.

“Advertising Age” estimates the “Idol” franchise is “conservatively” valued at 2.5 billion dollars…

One product already on the shelves is the “American Idol Karaoke Revolution” video game which allows players to compete in front of the judges with over 40 songs—most of which have been performed on the show. I’ll let you know how this one is after I get a chance to play mine…

Here’s what else is going on in “Idol” world…

Kelly Clarkson will guest star on “Reba” this Sunday. She’ll play a potential competitor for Barbra Jean’s weathercaster gig. “Reba” airs at 7:30 p.m. on the CW…
Katharine McPhee will play herself on the February 1st episode of “Ugly Betty.” The episode is about the magazine’s runway show. February 1st is the beginning of February sweeps…

By the way, I caught a listen of Katharine’s first single, “Over It.” Talk about a musical mess…

Paula Abdul will serve as an executive producer on “Bratz: The Movie,” a live-action feature based on the popular doll line. She will also play a “major character” and consult on casting, music, dancing and fashion. The movie is scheduled for an August release…

Ryan Seacrest is working on his reality show, “Paradise City.” “City” follows a group of twentysomethings trying to make it big in Las Vegas. Seacrest is the Executive Producer of the show, which will debut on E! in the spring…


Photos courtesy of Gannett News Service

My Golden Globes (TV) Predictions

The Golden Globes are often a good indication of who will win Oscars. But they don’t tell us squat about the Emmys.

Because they’re selected by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Globes have a different view of things. They usually go for what’s hip and hot. They like international stars and they often right Emmy wrongs.

All of which make it very difficult to predict the winners—but I’m going to give it a shot…

Best Series—Drama:
“24”
“Big Love”
“Grey’s Anatomy”
“Heroes”
“Lost”
Will Win: “24”
Want to Win: Do you even have to ask?
Conventional wisdom says “Heroes” will win, but I think “24” will take it. Call it a political statement.

Best Actress—Drama:
Patricia Arquette, “Medium”
Edie Falco, “The Sopranos”
Evangeline Lilly, “Lost”
Ellen Pompeo, “Grey’s Anatomy”
Kyra Sedgwick, “The Closer”
Will Win: Falco
Want to Win: Sedgwick
Look for the Globes to right an Emmy wrong here.

Best Actor—Drama:
Patrick Dempsey, “Grey’s Anatomy”
Michael C. Hall, “Dexter”
Hugh Laurie, “House”
Bill Paxton, “Big Love”
Kiefer Sutherland, “24”
Will Win: Hall
Want to Win: Again, do you even have to ask?
Hall is getting A LOT of buzz, so I really think he’ll take it.

Best Series—Comedy or Musical
“Desperate Housewives”
“Entourage”
“The Office”
“Ugly Betty”
“Weeds”
Will Win: “Ugly Betty”
Want to Win: ?
International flavor will prevail.

Best Actress—Comedy or Musical
Marcia Cross, “Desperate Housewives”
America Ferrera, “Ugly Betty”
Felicity Huffman, “Desperate Housewives”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “The New Adventures of Old Christine”
Mary-Louise Parker, “Weeds”
Will Win: Ferrera
Want to Win: Cross
I really like Ferrera, so I’m okay if she wins—especially since Cross wouldn’t be able to accept her award. She’s now on bed rest.

Best Actor—Comedy or Musical:
Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock”
Zach Braff, “Scrubs”
Steve Carell, “The Office”
Jason Lee, “My Name Is Earl”
Tony Shalhoub, “Monk”
Will Win: Baldwin
Want to Win: Normally, I would say Braff, but I’m a little miffed he’s bailing on “Scrubs,” so Baldwin’s okay with me.
The Globes love to honor breakout performances by movie stars.

Best Supporting Actress—Movie/Mini-Series or Series
Emily Blunt, “Gideon’s Daughter”
Toni Collette, “Tsunami, the Aftermath”
Katherine Heigl, “Grey’s Anatomy”
Sarah Paulson, “Studio 60”
Elizabeth Perkins, “Weeds”
Will Win: Collette
Want to Win: Paulson, if only for having to act out those lousy skits
The Supporting categories are crazy to predict, but the movie people usually come out on top.

Best Supporting Actor—Movie/Mini-Series or Series
Thomas Haden Church, “Broken Trail”
Jeremy Irons, “Elizabeth I”
Justin Kirk, “Weeds”
Masi Oka, “Heroes”
Jeremy Piven, “Entourage”
Will Win: Oka
Want to Win: Oka
It’s hard to pick against Jeremy Irons, but Oka has both the international flavor and the hip factor going for him. What do you want to bet that Oka’s acceptance speech would feature him yelling “I did it!” in Japanese, just like Hiro?

So, what are your predictions? And feel free to speculate on the movie categories too. I’m SO rooting for Jennifer Hudson…

“The Golden Globe Awards” air Monday, January 15th at 8 p.m. on NBC…
Photos courtesy of Gannett News Service and FOX.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

"The O.C." Moment: "Welcome to the O.C..."

As I walked through the McDonald’s parking lot, the drive-thru music greeted me with the sounds of Phantom Planet’s “California”—better known as the theme to “The O.C.”

I couldn’t help but smile. Apparently someone at McDonald’s Muzak provider knew that I would be coming home afterwards to write my first “O.C.” moment.

And there’s really no other one I could start with…

When Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie) came to Newport, he immediately clashed with the popular crowd—especially Luke Ward (Chris Carmack), the captain of the Harbor High water polo team. Luke’s dislike of Ryan came partly because Ryan was from Chino, but it was mostly because of Ryan’s instant connection with Luke’s girlfriend, Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton).

In the series premiere, Ryan and Seth attended a wild party after Newport party girl Summer Roberts (Rachel Bilson) invited Ryan (She had a thing for Ryan and Seth had a thing for her.). When Seth ended up alone on the beach, the water polo team started knocking him around.

Ryan, who would become known for swinging first and thinking later, jumped in to help. Ryan ended up fighting with Luke, but he was outnumbered by Luke’s friends.

As Ryan lay on the beach, battered and bruised, Luke taunted him from above.

“Welcome to the O.C., b***h! This is how it’s done in Orange County.”

It became the catchphrase of the summer.

On the season one DVD, real Harbor students told Executive Producer McG that it was the running gag in the real Newport for about two weeks, but they had never heard anyone say it before the show. According to them, no one ever used the term the O.C. before Josh Schwartz did (which Orange County native McG gives him a hard time about on the DVD).

As for Luke and Ryan (and Seth), by the end of the season, they were friends.

Do you have a favorite “The O.C.” moment? Over the next six weeks, I’ll be sharing what I think are the show’s most classic moments. I hope you’ll share your thoughts as well…

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Coming Attractions: "Stay Tuned" Gets Serious

We’re getting closer and closer to the time of the year when I give up any semblance of a life I may have had and devote myself to some serious TV watching.

And that means some serious reading for all of you. Here’s what you can look forward to in the coming weeks…

Beginning this Thursday, I’ll begin my goodbye to “The O.C.” by looking at a classic moment from the show each week until its finale February 22nd. I invite you to share your favorite moments as well…

Sunday marks the return of “24” and you know I’ll be all over that. Friday, I’ll get you caught up on what you need to know in order to jump in…

And of course, Tuesday, January 16th is the return of “American Idol.” Every Tuesday and Wednesday after the show, you can read my comments on the contestants and post your own…

It’s going to be a wild six months, but it will be a lot of fun too. I invite you all to join me for the ride…

Idol Update, Part 2: Your Viewing Schedule

Get out your calendars, my friends!

Here is the official viewing schedule of the preliminary rounds of “American Idol,” courtesy of my friends at “TV Guide”…

Tuesday, January 16th—Minneapolis auditions
Wednesday, January 17th—Seattle auditions (Simon hated this city, so look for some bad ones.)

January 23rd—Memphis auditions
January 24th—New York City auditions

January 30th—Birmingham auditions (This is the home of Ruben, Bo, and Taylor.)
January 31st—San Antonio auditions

February 6th—Los Angeles auditions
February 7th—“Rest of the Best”

February 13th—Hollywood Round, Part 1
February 14th—Hollywood Round, Part 2—Top 24 announced

February 20th—Top 12 males perform
February 21st—Top 12 females perform
Thursday, February 22nd—Results Show at 8 p.m. (Maybe this will help “The O.C.” finale)

February 27th—Top 10 males perform
February 28th—Top 10 females perform
March 1st—Results Show

March 6th—Top 8 males
March 7th—Top 8 females
March 8th—Results Show—Top 12 announced

March 13th—Top 12 perform
March 14th—Results Show

As you can see, the format is basically the same as last year. One of these years, they’re going to listen to me and extend the Hollywood Rounds. Those are the shows I find most entertaining…

Idol Update: Just Seven More Days!

When Daughtry started its performance last night on “The Tonight Show,” I thought they were doing a new song, since I didn’t recognize it. But it was indeed “It’s Not Over”—just a version with an extremely overbearing guitar. Somebody needs to tell that guy he’s not the star of the band. Maybe he was trying to impress Kiefer…

It’s hard to believe there are just seven more days until the return of “American Idol.” It seems like we’ve waited forever, doesn’t it?

This week’s “Entertainment Weekly” gives us a little more insight as to what to expect. Here are some highlights…

1) Simon Cowell has not singled out a frontrunner.
You may remember that in season four he had Carrie Underwood pegged from the beginning. He says this year it’s “not as obvious.”

2) Ryan Seacrest says this is a “very intense year.”
Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe says that the contestants are using Simon’s dislike of Taylor (at his audition) against him.

3) Simon rebelled against the guest judges (Olivia Newton-John, Jewel and Carole Bayer Sager) during the auditions.
Executive Producer Ken Warwick says that things were so awkward that Bayer Sager may have most of her critiques edited out.

4) The details of the songwriting competition for the winner’s single are still being worked out.
The competition will be open to anyone—signed or unsigned—who submits a song to a special website. A short list of songs will be chosen by the judges and the producers. Lythgoe would like to do two or three shows with past contestants singing the songs, and then let America vote; but FOX hasn’t confirmed that yet.

5) The judges are not entirely happy about not having a say in the final selection of the winner’s single.
Paula Abdul says it’s weird that they have “everything to do with the rest of the season and nothing to do with the final song.” Interestingly, the most popular finale song, “A Moment Like This,” was the only one personally commissioned by Simon (who’s releasing it again with this year’s “The X Factor” winner).

6) There’s a chance the Idols could work with Paul McCartney this season, according to Simon.
Randy Jackson says he may call in some favors (like Mariah Carey) as well.

7) Producers say that many big names in music were turned down last year because they refused to work with the contestants.
Warwick said record labels will “try to get some of these arrogant stars to work with the kids, and we just say no.”

8) Ryan says that Simon is “more testy than ever before.”
Ryan blames it on his heavy workload, which includes executive producing “The X Factor,” developing season two of “America’s Got Talent” and overseeing his music projects like Il Divo.

As if I have to remind you, “American Idol” premieres Tuesday, January 16th at 8 p.m. on FOX…

"Desperate Housewives": A Welcome Surprise!

I forgot to tell you that Sunday’s “Desperate Housewives” was a new episode, so I hope that none of you missed it…

Because if you did, you missed a really good one…

Only Bree would throw a dinner party to celebrate the return of her husband’s first wife. But it was a “DH” classic with all of the awkward conversation, the cops showing up and Bree kicking Susan out and ending their friendship. I have to wonder, though, if Bree and Orson are still married. Did Orson and Alma actually divorce since everyone thought she was dead?

And what is the deal with Alma? What was that mysterious injection she was giving herself? If all of the television I have been watching in my life is correct, that was a fertility treatment. My theory is that Alma is going to try to get pregnant to get Orson back…

Poor Julie. It’s bad enough that she has Susan for a mother. Now her boyfriend is cheating on her with Bree’s daughter—even after Julie slept with him to keep him. And just for the record, I was sure that it was Andrew we were going to see in that bed. Did Andrew know what his sister was doing when he gave Julie that “getting it somewhere else” speech?...

The absolute highlight for me, though, was the scene with Mike in prison. As he told his story to a fellow prisoner, we heard a familiar voice say, “I believe you.” And there, in all of his glory, was Paul Young. I actually cheered when I saw him. I have to admit I never saw that one coming, so it was a welcome surprise...

My only problem with the show now is how idiotic Susan’s story has become. How could she be so surprised that Bree was angry? She called the cops on her husband! And how big of a moron is Ian? One little “I love you” brushes everything under the rug? Whatever…

However, because this Orson mystery is so intriguing, I’m willing to overlook Susan’s stupidity. I love the fact that the show that was about to fall down the “Twin Peaks” hole is being rescued by the face of “Twin Peaks” himself, Kyle MacLachlan.

So who really did kill Monique? My guess was Mother Hoge, and Orson hit Mike to protect her. But as someone in my office pointed out, maybe Orson hit Mike because Mike really did kill her—or at least Orson thinks he did…

Feel free to post your theories below…

Last Night's Game

How pathetic was that game last night? Of course, if you’re a Florida fan, you thought it was pretty awesome…

I do want to take a minute and hand out some kudos to FOX for two excellent pieces during the pre-game show. Instead of going with traditional interviews, FOX went the music video route. The one featuring Florida quarterback Chris Leak and all of the criticism he had received set to “Welcome to the Black Parade,” was outstanding. The piece on Troy Smith and his Cleveland upbringing was excellent as well.

I just wish Troy could have carried that excellence onto the field…

Monday, January 08, 2007

Pick of the Week: Do You Even Have to Ask?

For me, there is only one event on TV this week (okay, two), but for the rest of you, there is plenty of noteworthy stuff…

Tonight, you can catch three premieres. “Lincoln Heights” tells the story of a family who moves back to the father’s old neighborhood (7 p.m., ABC Family). “Gay, Straight, or Taken?” is a reality show where a female contestant must figure out which guy is which (8 p.m., Lifetime) and “I Love New York” is the female version of “Flavor of Love,” with a two-time “Flavor” cast-off choosing among 20 men (9 p.m., VH1). Tonight also marks all-new episodes for the CBS line-up, including Natalia getting arrested for the murder of her ex-husband on “CSI: Miami” (10 p.m., CBS)…

Tuesday, it’s the “People’s Choice Awards” on CBS (9 p.m.) and Doris Roberts guest stars on “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (9 p.m., NBC)…

Wednesday, it’s the premiere of one of the most disturbing reality shows I’ve ever heard of—“Armed and Famous,” as Erik Estrada, LaToya Jackson, Jack Osbourne and others become real-life cops (8 p.m., CBS). “The Sopranos” makes its basic cable debut on A&E (9 p.m.) and “The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency” returns for its second season (10 p.m., Oxygen)…



Thursday, Tori Spelling becomes the newest super-villain on “Smallville” (8 p.m., CW), Taylor’s ex-husband visits from France on “The O.C.” (9 p.m., FOX) and “Nashville Star” kicks off a new season with new hosts Jewel and Cowboy Troy (10 p.m., USA)…

Friday, Disney Channel tries to find the next “High School Musical” with “Jump In!” which stars HSM’s Corbin Bleu and Keke Palmer (“Akeelah and the Bee”) as competitive jump ropers (8 p.m.). Then, it’s the premiere of the “That’s So Raven” spin-off, “Cory in the House” as Cory and his dad move to the White House (9:30 p.m.)…

Saturday, USA gets us ready for the remainder of the first season of “Psych” with a seven-and-a-half-hour marathon beginning at 12:30 p.m…

Sunday, HBO subscribers can catch the season premiere of “Rome”…

But my two picks of the week are on FOX. Tonight, it’s the Tostitos Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game as Ohio State and Florida play for all the Tostitos. Pre-game starts at 7:30 p.m. Look for a late one…

Then, on Sunday, after seven long months of waiting it’s the return of “24” with a four-hour two-night premiere which kicks off at 8 p.m. Sunday and continues at 8 p.m. Monday. I’m so jazzed I can barely type this. It’s been a long wait…
Photos courtesy of Gannett News Service

"The O.C.": Where Did It All Go Wrong?

It could’ve been an ordinary teen soap opera, but it wasn’t. No, “The O.C.” was something truly special.

Yes, there were the requisite pretty people doing pretty things in pretty places. But there was also dialogue that absolutely crackled. There was great indie music that fit every scene perfectly. Plus, there were adult characters that actually had interesting things to do that we actually cared about.

So where did it all go wrong?

Any time a show becomes a sensation, everyone around it becomes a sensation as well. Creator Josh Schwartz was suddenly very much in demand and he left his baby in other hands to quickly crank out a spin-off for FOX (which never happened). When the key people of a show start working on other things, that always means trouble.

You could also argue that it was all too much too soon. “The O.C.” kids were featured on every magazine cover and every show coming and going. Even MTV created a reality show about the “real” O.C. Burnout was probably a foregone conclusion.

Then, there’s the scheduling. FOX moved the show to Thursdays hoping it would give the network some much needed traction on an important night. But it never happened.

However, I believe that the answer to the question is a very simple one—that absolutely atrocious season one finale.

When the series began, Seth Cohen was an unpopular geek who had pined his entire life for the popular Summer Roberts. And by the end of the season, he had actually won her heart. But when Seth heard that Ryan was leaving Newport, he decided he couldn’t face living there without him and he left his beloved Summer to sail away in his boat.

It made absolutely no sense. And if the season finale of “24” hadn’t been the next week, I may have thrown something through the TV.

It was bad enough that Ryan was going back to Chino to help take care of a baby that might not even be his; but for Seth to leave everything he ever wanted because of that was absolutely ridiculous.

And the show never recovered.

When “The O.C.” returned for its second season, the characters were unrecognizable. Ryan was studious and boring, Kirsten and Sandy’s marriage was crumbling, and Marissa decided to pursue a relationship with another woman, who had been sleeping with Seth. Midway through the season, Josh Schwartz returned to right the ship, but the changes didn’t stick as the show sank into even more gloomy melodrama that only the death of Marissa last season was able to rescue it from.

But it was too late. The show had been too inconsistent for too long and too many people had already stopped watching.

I’m terribly sad that the show was cancelled after finally straightening things out, but I’m also happy that the show will get to go out on top. Not everyone can say that these days and hopefully, those of us who have stuck it out will get the payoff we deserve.

But if I hear one note of that “Hallelujah” song, I’m turning off the TV…



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Idol Update: Daughtry on Leno

For those of you who have been wondering when Daughtry will make its debut on "The Tonight Show" (or maybe that was just me), wonder no more.

Daughtry will appear as the musical guest tonight (Monday the 8th). Tonight's show is also special because Jay's featured guest is Kiefer Sutherland.

I really wish, however, that the bookers would have considered that we may still be watching the National Championship Game at 11:30...

"In Case of Emergency" Call a Good Writer


If the concept of “In Case of Emergency” sounds a lot like “The Class,” that’s because it is. Four former classmates reunite by chance and see how their lives have changed. The difference is that these characters had no real connection in high school, which gives them very little connection now.

And when you’re trying to build a show on character relationships, that’s not a good thing.

The first classmate we meet is Harry (Jonathan Silverman). He’s visiting a Korean “massage parlor.” But he recognizes his “masseuse” as Kelly (Kelly Hu), his class valedictorian. Before he can get an explanation, though, they’re forced to flee when her jealous cop boyfriend shows up. Because Kelly has no one else to call “in case of emergency,” she stays with Harry.

Meanwhile, Sherman (Greg Germann), a diet guru, comes home to find that his wife has left him and taken all their stuff. This drives him to steal a truck full of sweets. Because he has no one else to call “in case of emergency,” he calls Harry.

Jason (David Arquette), who is facing indictment due to illegal activities at his company, decides to take his own life. He chickens out, but accidentally shoots himself in the foot. At the hospital, he falls for his engaged doctor (Lori Loughlin). Because he has no one else to call “in case of emergency,” he calls Harry, as well.

They all end up at Harry’s house with Kelly, who remembers Sherman and Jason from high school, but not Harry. Of course, Kelly’s boyfriend shows up and they all end up back at the hospital.

And that was the show in its entirety.

Because it was so choppy, it was hard to get to know any of the characters; but it’s clear the heart of the show is David Arquette’s Jason. Few actors play goofy as sweetly as Arquette, so it’s hard not to fall for him. And Loughlin exudes a sexiness I’ve never seen from her before. The rest of the cast could be good as well, if they’re given something decent to do.

The show has an excellent pedigree (It’s executive produced by Jon Favreau, who directed the pilot.) so I’m willing to give it another shot. I just hope its “in case of emergency” person is a good writer…

“In Case of Emergency” airs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. on ABC…

The "Knights" in Shining Comedy

The “Knights of Prosperity” seemed like the silliest idea—and it is. But that doesn’t make it any less funny.

Donal Logue is Eugene, who’s worked as a janitor for 20 years. When a fellow janitor dies on the job, Eugene realizes he needs a change. However, his dream to own a bar is dashed when he’s turned down for a loan. But while watching E!, he comes up with another idea—robbing Mick Jagger.

Eugene recruits his friends Squatch, a fellow janitor, Gary, a cab driver, and Rockefeller, a security guard, to help him. They’re later joined by Esparanza, a Columbian waitress, and Louis, who joins them as an internship. Eugene christens them the Knights of Prosperity, complete with printed t-shirts.

The premiere centers on the group trying to find Jagger’s apartment number and getting the key. Through a series of bumblings, they actually manage to get both, but unknown to them, there are several more layers of security to go through.

The show is not laugh-out-loud funny (although it has its moments), but it’s just so crazy that you can’t help but enjoy it. Donal Logue is just as loveable as he was on “Grounded for Life” and he’s surrounded by a solid supporting cast.

The problem is where the show goes from here. Since Jagger only participated in the pilot, the show will eventually have to focus on other celebrities. And I’m worried that maybe the concept will get old.

But right now, the concept is one of the most original I’ve seen in a while, so I’m willing to stick it out—and you should too.

“The Knights of Prosperity” airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC. You can watch the premiere on-line at ABC.com…

Don't Bother Getting "Dirt"y

It’s fitting that one of the main characters on “Dirt” is schizophrenic, because the show is pretty much all over the place itself.

The first 10 minutes of the premiere pulled you right in as we meet Lucy, the editor of “Drrt,” a celebrity tabloid. She’s threatened by a studio chief (Harvey Weinstein in a cameo) who recounts her numerous sins as she sizes up her latest stories. The scenery is gorgeous, the direction is first-rate and Courteney Cox slides right into Lucy’s slithery skin.

Unfortunately, those 10 minutes were the best we got.

The show spent most of the hour trying to convince us that Lucy is a completely heartless and ruthless you-know-what. She hires a prostitute to get kinky with a pro basketball star. She tricks a struggling actor into dishing dirt on his friends and then blackmails him when he wants to stop. But when her scheming results in a death, she shows some humanity—just when we were starting to buy into her character. Even worse, Cox never quite lives up to those opening minutes. She should be sinking her teeth into this one, but instead, she comes off more stiff than seductive.

It’s the supporting characters that end up carrying the show, but they’re too over the top to hold your interest. Making Don, Lucy’s star photographer, schizophrenic is a good twist, but it goes too far as we have to sit through therapy sessions and listen to Don’s pill bottles play music (You’d have to see it to understand—if even then.). Plus, we spend WAY too much time with Don’s cancer-stricken cat.

Celebrity couple Holt and Julia are a walking Hollywood cliché as they do drugs at parties and commit sex acts in public places. Josh Stewart does a good job of making Holt seem like a more complicated character—especially after he betrays Julia—but the ridiculous story gets the better of him.

“Dirt” spends a lot of time trying to shock us with the drug use, hookups and sex toys. But what is supposed to be shocking, just comes off as silly—which unfortunately is most of the show.

It’s great to see Courteney Cox back on TV. It just would’ve been nice if she’d chosen something worth watching…

“Dirt” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX…

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Idol Update, Part 3: More Kudos for Jennifer and Updates on Paris and Bucky

Jennifer Hudson received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination today for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for her role in “Dreamgirls.” “Dreamgirls” also received a nomination for Performance by a Cast—the SAG equivalent of a Best Picture award.

In other Jennifer news, she will help present GM’s newest models at the first ever GM Style Show in Detroit this Saturday, along with Jimmy Kimmel, Mario Lopez, and many more…

Here’s the latest on Bucky Covington’s record deal. His debut single, “A Different World,” will hit country radio January 16th. His album is scheduled for release April 17th and will be produced by Mark Miller, the lead singer of Sawyer Brown…

There were some conflicting reports about Paris Bennett’s CD, so allow me to clear it up with the latest news. “Princess P” is scheduled for release in March, while her first single, “Dreamin’,” will be released this month to radio and iTunes. Paris is signed with 306 Entertainment, a label headquartered in Minneapolis. She is listed as a co-writer for the majority of the songs on the album. Paris is also developing a clothing line, Tres P, and she recently appeared at the Walt Disney Christmas Parade with several fellow Idols…

A Coupon For My Troubles?!

So yesterday I got a letter from Time Warner Cable telling me about the situation with Sinclair and how I could lose WVAH and WCHS on December 31st (I was supposed to get the letter last week.).

To show their “appreciation for [my] patience,” they enclosed a $5.00 coupon for a local restaurant that will be “showing football games in early January.”

A coupon?! That’s supposed to make me feel better for possibly missing the premiere of “24”? How about they take the money that mailing cost and give it to Sinclair!

The letter also reminds me that I “can see many of [my] favorite programs free online.” Online?! What am I paying a cable bill for?!

It’s clear to me now that TWC has no backup plan and if a deal isn’t reached by January 12th, we will lose FOX and ABC for who knows how long.

You’ll excuse me if saving $5 on potato skins doesn’t make me feel better about that…

The News I've Been Dreading

So now there’s another reason for you to watch tonight’s “The O.C.”...

Because soon you won’t be able to watch at all.

This morning I got the news I’ve been dreading. “The O.C.” has been cancelled. The final episode will air February 22nd.

Interestingly, there has been some Internet buzz that the CW might be interested in the show (since it is produced by Warner Bros.), but it might be time to let it go. Though I must say that will be easier said than done.

I’ll have much more in the coming weeks…

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An Inexcusable Omission

I did a bad thing this week. I didn’t mention “The O.C.” in my “Picks of the Week.”

And considering the whopper of a plot twist they served up at the end of the last episode, there was really no excuse for my omission.

In a beautifully edited sequence, Bullet’s mysterious friend, Frank, was revealed to be Ryan’s father. I have no idea why the show chose now to introduce him, but I’m loving that they did—especially with Kevin Sorbo (“Hercules”) playing him.

Last time also gave us the engagement of Seth and Summer after a crazy road trip featuring a pregnancy test and a woman dressed as an alien.

You had to be there…

Tonight, we find out why Ryan’s dad is in town as he goes toe-to-toe with Sandy. And Seth and Summer deal with their engagement, which they’re apparently not happy about. Plus, Grammy nominee Chris Brown guest stars as one of Kaitlyn’s classmates.

Though I’m concerned about the Seth and Summer story and how the real-life breakup of Adam Brody and Rachel Bilson will affect it, I’m willing to give the show the benefit of the doubt. After all, with the exception of the uneven Chrismakkuh episode, “The O.C.” has yet to hit a false note this season. And even that episode had the right idea, just the wrong execution (It did however produce the season’s most classic line. Upon witnessing her mother threatening Veronica, Kaitlyn responded, “Woah, Mom. That was so Jack Bauer of you.”).

So again, I urge you to watch. “Grey’s Anatomy” is a re-run, so you’ll need some humor, romance and soapy drama on your Thursday night.

“The O.C.” airs tonight at 9 on FOX…

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Quick Correction...

"The Final 24" that I mentioned in my post, "New Year, New Stuff" is airing on the Biography Channel not A&E. The premiere episode featuring John Belushi airs Thursday at 10 p.m.

Idol Update, Part 2: The Orange & Rose Bowls and Where Are They Now?

For those of you who are not Time Warner Cable customers, the countdown is on! Just 13 days until the premiere of “American Idol.” For those of us who are TWC customers, just keep your fingers crossed…

The Orange Bowl is known for some pretty hideous halftime shows, but last night’s was not one of them. Taylor Hicks gave a solid performance of “The Runaround,” even rocking his harmonica. Then he accompanied Gladys Knight (with the harmonica) on “Heard It Through the Grapevine.” It was further proof that Taylor’s live show should be pretty good. I’d really like to know how he spun around like that without getting dizzy…

Katharine McPhee performed at the Tournament of Roses Parade, but the sound was so awful, I’m not sure why she bothered. I’m told that the song was “Better Off Alone,” from her new CD, but all I know is that it was a ballad. Her CD, which hits stores January 30th, is called “Never Saw It Comin’”…

This week’s “US Weekly” takes a look at where some “Idol” finalists are now. And because I read the magazines so you don’t have to, here’s a sampling…

Mikalah Gordon (Season 4) is in a Randy Jackson-produced girl group…

John Stevens (Season 3) and Leah Labelle (Season 3) are students at Berklee College of Music in Boston…

Camile Velasco (Season 3) is working on an urban R&B album…

Mandisa (Season 5) is working on an “Idol” book due in June. Her contemporary Christian CD is due in April…

Scott Savol (Season 4) is working on an R&B CD…

Constantine Maroulis (Season 4) is joining the Off Broadway show “Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris,” after doing “The Wedding Singer” on Broadway. By the way, in another article in the same magazine, Constantine is shown partying with embattled Miss USA Tara Conner…

Christina Christian (Season 1) has a publishing deal to write music…

Ryan Starr (Season 1) is pitching a reality show about getting a record deal…

Melissa McGhee (Season 5) is working on a southern-rock CD…

Paris Bennett (Season 5)’s soul CD, “Princess P” is scheduled for release sometime this month…

Rickey Smith (Season 2) is bartending in Oklahoma City and recording an R&B CD…

Amy Adams (Season 3) toured with “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and is now at home in full “mommy mode”…

Ejay Day (Season 1) is performing on cruise ships…

Matt Rogers (Season 3) will host “Really Big Things” on the Discovery Channel later this month. He got his agent through Ryan Seacrest

Lindsey Cardinale (Season 4) is working on a country album…

Jasmine Trias (Season 3) is moving to L.A. to work on an album and audition for movies…

Corey Clark (Season 2) is in Nashville working construction and is separated from his wife. Guess that Paula thing just didn’t work out…

Carmen Rasmusen (Season 2) is recording a country CD after getting vocal lessons…

Justin Guarini (Season 1) is recording a jazz/soul/funk album and shooting the independent film, “Fast Girls”…

Vonzell Solomon (Season 4) runs Melodic Records, the label she founded, and is finishing an R&B album and trying her hand at acting…

Nikki McKibbin (Season 1) is a bartender in Fort Worth, TX, and is working on a rock CD…

The article shared one other tidbit. Season 4’s Nikko Smith and Jessica Sierra dated…

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

"We Are Marshall": Too Hollywood For Hollywood

I have to admit that when I went to see “We Are Marshall” on opening day, my expectations weren’t too high. After all, most of the reviews I’d read had told me it wasn’t going to be very good. Just that morning, Joel Siegel of “Good Morning America” said that if you were looking for a good sports movie, after this one, you’d still be looking.

The dialogue was clichéd, they said. Matthew McConaughey was annoying, they said. This just wasn’t a good movie, they said.

So after the screen went dark and the audience mustered up a feeble “We Are Marshall” chant, I have to say I was relieved that for the most part, the critics were wrong.

I thought Matthew McConaughey’s performance was outstanding and the dialogue never came off as clichéd to my ears. I had to wonder what movie the critics were watching.

And that’s when it dawned on me. They just didn’t get it.

In fact, I think the story is too Hollywood for Hollywood.

What we in the Tri-State know to be true and honest, critics see as contrived. In order to make the critics happy, Jamie Linden and company would have had to embellish the story, but they chose not to. And they should be applauded for not falling into that trap.

However, that commitment does cause the movie to fall into another trap—underdeveloped characters. Thanks to an enterprising friend (who shall remain nameless), I was able to read the original screenplay earlier this year. I was very concerned about the character of Annie, who came off as a walking cliché. One scene in particular actually made me say out loud, “Are you kidding me?” Thankfully, Linden and company decided to stick closer to actual events. But in doing so, the composite characters of Annie and Paul were underdeveloped. In the version I read, both Annie and Paul attended the Xavier game, which gave both their stories more closure. It also added an extra sense of drama as Paul struggled with whether or not to root for the team. I think leaving these scenes in—clichéd or not—would have helped.

Unfortunately, though, that wasn’t the only lack of drama, as several sequences were not as powerful as they could’ve been. Most of them were due to choppy editing, but some were due to the woefully miscast January Jones, who sucked the emotion out of every scene she was in. And the more I think about it, the more I dislike the ending sequence (Jones helped ruin that too.).

But before you send the MUPD to my house to take my degrees away, let me say that none of the movie’s shortcomings could keep me from saying it was a good movie, because it was an emotional, surprising funny and inspiring roller coaster ride.

But most importantly, it was real.

There are critics out there who are getting it—Gene Shalit and Richard Roeper among them. I’m just sorry their reviews didn’t come out in time to save the opening box office numbers.

But don’t worry. Thanks to the magic of DVD (which one website estimates for release in April), there’ll be plenty of time for people all over the world to get it.

However, I’m afraid the story will always be too Hollywood for Hollywood…

Idol Update: Huge Bucky News!

Here's some huge news for those of you who are Bucky Covington fans. Bucky has signed with Lyric Street, the Nashville-based label that is home to Rascal Flatts. Lyric Street is also the home of Season 2 alum Josh Gracin.

Who would've thought that Bucky would sign before Elliott? Not me, that's for sure.

I'll have much more "Idol" news later, including an update on some of your favorite past finalists...

My First Awards of 2007

So now that I’ve handed out my awards for 2006, let me hand out my first awards of 2007 for some of this weekend’s programming…

First, let me give the Bonehead Award to Andrea Kremer for almost ruining what should have been the crowning moment of NBC’s inaugural season of “Sunday Night Football.”

NBC passed on showing the Bengals-Steelers game so they could show what might possibly be Brett Favre’s final game. At the end of the game, John Madden said that if Favre was leaving, his eyes would be wet since he would be thinking about everything he was doing for the last time. Al Michaels promised us a closer look when Andrea Kremer interviewed Favre on the field. But when Kremer asked him about the game, there was no need for a close look, as Favre started crying. It was a stunning moment as everyone watching at home knew that this was it. After managing to put some words together, Favre turned to Kremer and said, “I wasn’t planning on doing this. Thanks for putting me on the spot.” To which Kremer replied, “What are your emotions right now?”

The guy was crying! What do you think his emotions were? Kremer has asked a lot of stupid questions throughout the season, but that was absolutely the stupidest. Kudos to Brett Favre for handling it with class by simply saying, “I think you can see”…

And at the risk of picking on NBC, I have to give them the “Why Bother?” Award for both their New Year’s Eve and Tournament of Roses Parade coverage. If you’re going to show a New Year’s Eve special on every one of your networks, shouldn’t it be something worth watching? Carson Daly was so stiff he looked like a smile would make his face crack. And Panic! At the Disco didn’t look like they wanted to be there either…

But the Tournament of Roses Parade was truly pathetic. If you’re going to bother showing the parade (for a football game that’s not even on your network), shouldn’t you make sure your cameras are in a good position and will transmit a quality picture? And Nancy O’Dell was clearly wishing she had stayed in bed. ABC, on the other hand, used the parade to promote their shows by having Chandra Wilson (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and Ricardo Antonio Chavira (“Desperate Housewives”) co-host. Their banter was natural and friendly and the promotion didn’t come off as heavy-handed—even when they interviewed “DH” creator Marc Cherry aboard the Oklahoma float (It’s his home state.)…

And finally, allow me to bestow the Chemistry Award to Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson. I didn’t think that Danielson could get along with anyone as well as he did Brent Musburger, but his friendly chiding of Lundquist was the highlight of the Gator Bowl. However, I’m thinking they might want to tone down their mocking of the network promos. That’s the kind of thing that gets you in trouble…

Picks of the Week: A "Friend" Gets "Dirt"y and Mick Jagger Gets Robbed

This week’s picks couldn’t be more different…

First, on Tuesday, it’s the return of Courteney Cox to television with the new FX series, “Dirt.” Cox plays an unscrupulous tabloid editor. Since this is airing Tuesdays at 10 on FX, the home of “Nip/Tuck,” “The Shield,” and “Rescue Me,” look for something as far from Monica Gellar as you can get. “Dirt,” which Cox is executive producing along with her husband David, premieres tonight (Tuesday) at 10 pm. on FX…

Then on Wednesday, one of the season’s most critically acclaimed comedies finally finds its way to the screen. “The Knights of Prosperity” stars Donal Logue as an everyday guy who concocts a plan with his friends to rob Mick Jagger. The show was originally called “Let’s Rob Mick Jagger,” but since Jagger only appears in the pilot, the show’s title was changed. Other celebrities will appear during the season, including Kelly Ripa. I hope they rob her blind. “The Knights of Prosperity” premieres Wednesday, January 6th at 9 p.m. on ABC…

For more of what you can see this week, scroll down to the post “New Year, New Stuff”…

New Year, New Stuff

It’s a new year, so the networks are bringing out new stuff as many of your favorites crank out new episodes and several shows finally return.

Here’s a quick guide to what awaits you this week…

Wednesday, January 3rd, it’s the return of “Beauty and the Geek” on its new home, the CW (8 p.m.). ABC unveils its new line-up with the sixth season premiere of “According to Jim” at 8, followed by the premiere of two new comedies, “The Knights of Prosperity” and “In Case of Emergency.” “Emergency” stars David Arquette and Jonathan Silverman and tells the story of a group of former classmates who are reunited by chance in an LA hospital. “Primetime” holds down the 10 p.m. spot until “Lost” returns February 7th…

Thursday, January 4th, all of your favorites are new—except for “Grey’s Anatomy,” which has back-to-back repeats. NBC’s line-up—which is getting A LOT of buzz lately—is highlighted by a “House” spoof on “Scrubs” at 9 p.m. If you’ve watched any CBS over the last week, you’ve seen the commercials and know that Grissom is leaving “CSI” (9 p.m.), but don’t worry. He’ll be back. And the commercials also tell us that someone on “Shark” will die. I really hope it’s not Henry Simmons because he just joined the cast. A&E premieres a new show, “The Final 24,” which details the last day in the life of a celebrity (10 p.m.). Up first is John Belushi…

Sunday, January 7th is a BIG night of premieres. VH1 unveils two new Celebreality shows, “The Surreal Life Fame Games,” which features “Surreal” alums competing for $100,000 (9 p.m.) and “Shooting Sizemore,” which details Tom Sizemore’s struggles to get sober (10:30 p.m.). MTV debuts “I’m From Rolling Stone,” a reality show with contestants competing for a job at “Rolling Stone” magazine. Lifetime goes back to the beginning of “Grey’s Anatomy” at 11 p.m. NBC unveils its brand-new Sunday schedule with the premieres of “Grease: You’re the One That I Want” at 8 p.m. and “The Apprentice” at 9:30 p.m. “Grease” is a reality contest to find the stars of “Grease” on Broadway; and the Donald serves up some new twists this season as “The Apprentice” winning team each week gets to live in a mansion, while the losers have to live in tents on the beach. Next week, “Crossing Jordan” will take over the 10 p.m. slot. If you’re looking for sports, you can catch the Ohio Bobcats in the GMAC Bowl at 8 p.m. on ESPN. Remember when the smaller bowls were before January 1st?…

The Best of 2006

So I’ve been racking my brain for weeks, trying to figure out how I wanted to do this. I wanted to do a top 10 list like everyone else, but I couldn’t come up with ten shows. So, I figured I’d hand out awards, but I just did that six months ago.

So, I finally decided on a combination of both. We’ll start with my picks for the top 10 shows of 2006—or rather the top eight shows…

8) “Justice”
I still believe that if this show had been on CBS, it would’ve been a hit (but I probably wouldn’t have watched). I’m sure that someone will try the “how it really happened” ending again, but without Victor Garber, it won’t be the same.

7) “The O.C.”
Last season was a mess as they repeated the show’s worst storyline (Johnny as the new Oliver) and turned Marissa into a total skank. But the moment Marissa died, the show came back to life. If only they had turned it around sooner, it would be higher.

6) “NCIS”
Again, I must ask, why don’t I watch this show? It’s the funniest show on television, the cases are interesting and Michael Weatherly is seriously hot. What more could you ask for?

5) “Football Night In America”
I know this isn’t technically a series, but it became one of my favorite shows this year. NBC’s decision to recap the day’s games as opposed to overhyping their game was a great one. And you can’t beat the combination of Costas and Collinsworth.

4) “American Idol”
Every year I promise myself I’m not going to let this show consume me—and it always does. There is no experience on TV like it.

3) “Project Runway”
I don’t know anything about fashion, but I do know good TV when I see it; and this is good TV. I would’ve ranked it higher, but I’m still a little miffed about Jeffrey winning (even though his collection was the best).

2) “Heroes”
It absolutely pains me to rank a show opposite “24” this high, but I must give credit where credit is due. The characters are fascinating, the stories are engaging and the acting is first-rate. Plus, the show just looks gorgeous. But what sets “Heroes” apart is that it moves. Who would’ve expected them to save the cheerleader so soon? Granted, we still have no idea what that meant…

1) “24”
It’s a little unusual for a show to hit its stride in its fifth season, but that’s what happened. For the first time we were actually engrossed in another story besides Jack’s. That’s a huge credit to the writers, but even bigger kudos belong to the dynamic duo of Gregory Itzin and Jean Smart. And the writers deserve major props for constructing a season where every plot twist made sense. I know that seems so simple, but for “24,” that’s quite an accomplishment. And Kiefer? Well, I think the Emmy speaks for itself.

Probably the most obvious omission from my list (since I usually recognize it) is “Boston Legal,” but if you’ve watched it lately, you understand why I couldn’t include it. And I couldn’t include “Prison Break” this year since it’s been so inconsistent and because T-Bag totally creeps me out…

Now let me recognize a few others…

Best Series Finale: “Arrested Development”
Though the show had not been officially cancelled, creator Mitchell Hurowitz saw the writing on the wall and gave us a wonderfully crafted episode that beautifully echoed the show’s premiere. Showtime discussed picking the show up, but the truth is, there was nowhere to go after this.

Best Comeback By an Actor: John Stamos, “ER”
After the failures of “Thieves” and “Jake In Progress,” it looked like Stamos would be forever known as Uncle Jesse. But as Dr. Gates on “ER,” Stamos has not only re-energized his career, but the show as well—which was no easy task.

Best Comeback By a Show: “The O.C.” and “Desperate Housewives”
This award definitely goes to “The O.C.” (It had two bad seasons to work its way up from, after all.), but since I’ve already mentioned it, let me take this opportunity to applaud the comeback of “Desperate Housewives.” I was concerned about Bree getting involved with another psycho, but Kyle MacLachlan’s Orson is way more complicated than that as the heart of the show’s new mystery. The show still has issues, but it is a definite improvement over last season.

And there you have it. My thoughts on the best of 2006. So what were your favorite shows of the year? Your least favorite? Just post a comment below…

A Groggy Morning

So I’m kind of running on fumes this morning, but it was so worth it.

Did anyone else stay up and watch that amazing game last night/this morning? WOW! That was one of the best games I have ever seen. Go Broncos!

Kudos to Thom Brennaman for his excellent call. FOX didn’t really surround him with the best people (Note to Charles Davis: The audience doesn’t like it when you say I told you so.), but they absolutely made the right choice in making him the lead announcer. His comment that last night’s game was an argument for a playoff system couldn’t have been more right on (“Why not give the Boise States a shot at the Ohio States?”)—ignoring that he was sort of biting the hand that feeds him. No wonder the Reds bent over backwards to get him back to Cincinnati. You can hear his calls for yourself at http://msn.foxsports.com/cfb/story/6325872.

A slight jeer, though, to Chris Meyers for giving away that Boise State’s Ian Johnson was going to propose to his girlfriend before Johnson did it. It was still a pretty good moment, however.

And this was just the first BCS game. What’s to come?

Stay Tuned…

Monday, January 01, 2007

Tied Up In Knots...

Let me start out 2007 with an apology to everyone for being so tardy with my posts.

I had intended to update everything yesterday, but I spent most of the day with my stomach in knots, so I couldn’t really concentrate…

It all started when Carson Palmer didn’t get up after that hit in the Bengals game. My heart instantly fell into my stomach. I knew he was okay and that he just got the wind knocked out of him, but that didn’t keep the tears from welling up anyway (I know. I take this stuff WAY too seriously.). And it didn’t make me feel any better when CBS felt the need to show us what happened to him last season. We remember! You don’t have to remind us…

Then, of course, my stomach churned through the rest of the game and for a long time afterward…

Remember in 1999, when everyone was all nervous about Y2K and what would happen at midnight? I don’t remember being nervous then, but I was nervous about midnight this year, as I waited to see if Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest would still be around after midnight. As you may recall, yesterday was the deadline for Sinclair Broadcasting and Time Warner to make a deal. As of 6 p.m. yesterday, it appeared that those of us who are former Adelphia customers would indeed lose FOX and ABC. But midnight came and went and both were still there. So I breathed a sigh of relief and turned to Disney Channel to watch a new episode of “Hannah Montana”…

But now, the nerves are back. A visit to the Time Warner website tells me that Sinclair and Time Warner have agreed to an extension that will end January 12th. Since this deal affects much of the state of Ohio, you can thank the Ohio State Buckeyes for the extension since I feel quite certain that TW didn’t want to deal with all the angry OSU fans who couldn’t watch their beloved Buckeyes in the National Championship Game on FOX.

I, of course, am happy about the extension (as I am a Buckeye fan myelf); however, I am not happy that it only runs until two days BEFORE the premiere of “24.” But I’m a little more optimistic that things will get worked out because let’s face it. Time Warner has no choice and Sinclair knows that.

The problem is that we will end up paying anyway with a higher cable bill…

The Best of 2006 and my first awards of 2007 are still on the way. So Stay Tuned…