The Herald-Dispatch |


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

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pick of the Week: "Raising" An Important Issue

I recently had someone call me the Queen of Facebook. So a dramatization of the dangers of social networking is certainly going to catch my attention.

And when that dramatization is as well done as this one, it’s also going to be my Pick…

My Pick of the Week is “Raising the Bar.”

In tomorrow night’s episode, Jerry (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) represents a father who posted a picture of his child in the bathtub on his private webpage for his family and friends. The father is being charged because the image was picked up and sold by a child pornography site.

Because the DA’s office is looking to make an example of the man, Balco (Currie Graham) tries the case himself. And, of course, Judge Kessler (Jane Kaczmarek) is presiding.

In a slight departure for the show, there is no other case during the hour. The only other story that gets any time is the latest twist in Bobbi’s (Natalia Cigliuti) divorce.

The hour is solid not only because of the timely story and the many twists and turns in the case, it’s also a great showcase for the talented Graham. Recently, he has become a master at playing slightly eccentric bosses (“Desperate Housewives”) and it looked like Balco was going to be another one. But this hour presents Balco as a crafty legal mind and he and Jerry are perfect adversaries. Their final scene together is a classic.

But possibly most impressive is how the episode ends, because if you think you know how it’s going to end, you’re wrong. And isn’t that what great drama is all about?

“Raising the Bar” airs Monday, June 29th at 10 p.m. on TNT...

Photo Credit: Karen Neal/TNT

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Remembering the King of Pop

It's true that celebrity deaths come in threes, so I knew another one was coming after the deaths of Ed McMahon and Farrah Fawcett, but this wasn't what I was expecting...

As I type this, I have just learned about the death of Michael Jackson. And I really don't know what to say...

Say whatever you want about his personal life, and his weird habits. The man was a legend and he will be missed. I am so sorry that he wasn't able to make the comeback he truly deserved...

Here is my all-time favorite MJ video, which I saw for the first time on "Friday Night Videos," which I used to videotape every week. It's the 9:30+ version of "Smooth Criminal"...



But this is the TV moment he will always be remembered for. His performance of "Billie Jean" on "Motown 25" that introduced the moonwalk to the world...

Monday, June 22, 2009

"NYC Prep" Review: The Best Is Yet to Come?

As I am writing this, I am watching “The Last Supper” episode of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey for at least the fourth time.

For Bravo, these ladies were lightning in a bottle. They were interesting personalities doing interesting—and sometimes crazy—things. And Teresa flipping over that table? That was reality gold.

Unfortunately, Bravo’s timeslot replacement for the ladies doesn’t quite provide the same juicy drama…yet…

“NYC Prep” follows a group of elite high school kids in New York City. And yes, there are parts of it that are very much like a real-life “Gossip Girl.”

For example, the most annoying “character” on the show is Taylor, who is the equivalent of Jenny, the most annoying character on “Gossip.” Taylor goes to a public school but she does whatever she possibly can to keep up with her private school friends. In the premiere, she just announces to her mother that she’s having a party without asking for her permission, telling her who’s coming or even where the party is going to be.

At the party, Taylor meets Sebastian, the ladies’ man of the show, which we learn very early on when he ends up getting Taylor’s number, even though he came to the party with Kelli.

Kelli is a spoiled little rich girl whose parents only stay with her a few days a week. Her best friend is Camille, who is obsessed with getting good grades so she can get into Harvard. Jessie is very involved with charity work, but she’s closed off when it comes to making new friends, so she completely ignores Kelli and Camille.

But the real star of the show is Jessie’s best friend (and ex) PC. He is the Chuck Bass of the show, only he’s not quite that charming (although he thinks he is). However, he does have all of the best moments in the premiere.

Minus an awkward scene involving a thrown water bottle, PC and Jessie’s relationship is really the highlight of the show as it’s obvious they’re both crazy about each other, but neither will admit it. And when PC decides to hang out with Kelli and Camille, he actually becomes less interesting.

There is some potential here for good drama, but it isn’t quite realized in the premiere. However, as I’ve said many times, you can’t always judge a show by its first episode, so I’m willing to give “Prep” another shot. If only to see PC and Jessie get together—if they don’t kill each other first…

“NYC Prep” premieres Tuesday, June 23rd at 10 p.m. on Bravo…


Photo Credit: Virginia Sherwood/Bravo

Pick of the Week: Watch Out for the Flying Tables!

After a week off, I’m afraid I have no choice but to go back to Bravo for this week’s Pick…

My Pick of the Week is “The Real Housewives of New Jersey Reunion.”

The table flipping drama of the season finale and “The Last Supper” (the director’s cut of the finale dinner) was some of the craziest stuff I’ve seen in a while.

And after watching both SEVERAL times (I’m actually watching “The Last Supper” again as I write this), I still don’t understand what happened. But I’ll definitely be watching the reunion to see if I can find out.

In fact, there’s so much drama, Bravo is extending the reunion over two parts. And I will be there for both of them.

I just hope host Andy Cohen watches out for those flying tables…

“The Real Housewives of New Jersey Reunion” airs Tuesday, June 23rd and Thursday, June 25th at 9 p.m. on Bravo…

Photo Credit: Virginia Sherwood/Bravo

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"Housewives" Brings the Drama With "The Last Supper"

So did you catch that “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” season finale last night?

WOW!

I said you’d finally get to see Teresa flip that table. But now that I’ve seen it, I still don’t know why she did it.

Maybe we’ll understand better when Bravo gives us the “director’s cut” of “The Last Supper” Thursday at 9 p.m…

What I do know is that I love how Teresa's husband, Joe, just laughed at her. And I really appreciated that Chris sided with his wife, Jacqueline, instead of his sisters, Caroline and Dina.

Next week, we'll hear even more with a two part reunion show Tuesday at 9 p.m. and Thursday at 9 p.m.

As Caroline tells us in the promos for the reunion, you gotta watch what happens…

If you missed it, you can see Teresa’s freakout here…

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Palin Vs. Letterman: Stop the Insanity!

I hate injecting politics into this blog, so I’ve refrained from saying anything about the whole Letterman-Palin flap…

Until now…

Last night on his show, David Letterman spent a large chunk of time apologizing to Governor Sarah Palin and both of her daughters. Personally, I think it was a classy move, but an unnecessary one since Dave had already apologized.

But that was before Gov. Palin got on her soapbox. Dave was a victim of a political ploy that he did not need to get involved in, but he decided to take the high road. And I commend him for it.

And to her credit, Gov. Palin accepted his apology (although her acceptance came with another slap at Dave).

But people are talking protests at Dave’s studio and trying to get advertisers to boycott him. Which leads me to say…

STOP THE INSANITY!

David Letterman was not advocating rape. His joke was about a woman of legal age (which he double checked before the taping). Was the joke a low blow? Yes. But it did not advocate violence about women in any way. Gov. Palin was simply trying to get back into the spotlight and it worked.

I just wish that this whole thing had helped Dave’s ratings…

You can watch his apology here…

Is Al Roker My New Hero?

I never thought I’d say this, but I think Al Roker could be my new hero…

Yesterday, he totally went after Speidi (Spencer and Heidi Pratt) on “Today,” causing Spencer and Heidi to badmouth him on every show coming and going.

This morning, Al defended his interview, with a little help from the awesome Andy Cohen of Bravo.

You can see that defense at the 4:25 mark here.

My Apologies...

My Internet was on the fritz last night so I wasn't able to post until today...

But be sure to scroll down and read my review of tonight's "HawthoRNe," premiere, as well as a reminder of tonight's big Jersey catfight...

And don't forget, my Pick of the Week. And it's actually not on Bravo this time...

Pick of the Week: Long Live the “Kings”

Since I had picked a show from Bravo two weeks in a row, I figured that I should go with another network this week. But with Bravo having such a big week, I thought I would have to anyway and then you guys would just have to forgive me.

But then I received a sign as a candle I lit while watching Bravo mysteriously blew out…

Okay, that didn’t happen to me, but that is one of the cool things that happened on an episode of this week’s Pick that put it over the top…

My Pick of the Week is “Kings.”

Let’s face it. “Kings” is not for everyone. It’s a very different kind of show and I can understand why NBC had trouble promoting it. But with so many look-alike shows on TV, I think different is good and I encourage you to check out the show while you still can.

The show can get a little wordy and the religious aspects don’t always gel with the rest of the show, but there’s just something about the drama that sucks you in. And watching Ian McShane (King Silas) chew the scenery is highly entertaining.

But the real star of the show is Eamonn Walker as Reverend Samuels. This role was custom made for him and so I appreciate when there are lots of religious elements so we can see more of him (Somebody get this guy another show!)

If you’ve never seen it, “Kings” tells the story of the kingdom of Gilboa. King Silas was selected by God to rule, but he has recently fallen out of favor with him. And God appears to now be showing favor to David (Chris Egan), the young man who stood up to the Goliath tanks of Gath, saved the life of the king’s son, and helped bring peace to the region. David has a thing for Silas’ daughter Michelle (Allison Miller), which she is hesitant to pursue. But Silas’ son, Jack (Sebastian Stan), is extremely jealous of David because he is afraid that David will replace him—especially since Jack leads a secret life his father doesn’t approve of. Jack allied himself with his uncle William (the wonderful Dylan Baker) in order to overthrow Silas, but it is unclear now whose side he is on other than his own. Also in the kingdom are Reverend Samuels, who provides Silas counsel, and the cold-hearted Queen Rose (Susanna Thompson).

Last week, Silas was forced to kill his righthand man, General Abner, after he discovered he was working to continue the war between Gilboa and Gath. So, Silas put his faith in Jack and David to protect him. Plus, Michelle discovered a plague outbreak and then risked her life to help a dying little boy.

This week, Macaulay Culkin returns as William’s son Andrew, which will no doubt stir up trouble in the kingdom, especially since a blackout puts the royal family in danger.

There is a risk with watching “Kings” since we have no idea how much closure we’ll get it, but I’m willing to take it and I hope you are too…

“Kings” airs Saturday, June 20th at 8 p.m. on NBC…

Photo Credit: Andrew Eccles/NBC

“HawthoRNe” Review: Welcome to Television, Jada

Several of the things I’ve read about the new TNT series “HawthoRNe” say that the show is an “ER” rip-off. And I say maybe, but who cares?

In its prime, “ER” was a great show, so what’s wrong with getting another one?

Now “HawthoRNe” is not great, but it is pretty darn good…

Jada Pinkett Smith stars as Christina Hawthorne, the Chief Nursing Officer at Richmond Trinity Hospital. She will do anything for her patients, no matter what toes she might step on. In the premiere, it’s the first anniversary of her husband’s death and everyone is trying to convince her to go home. But for Christina, the hospital is her home.

And at her home she has a team of dedicated nurses, including Ray (David Julian Hirsh), who has a thing for fellow nurse Candy (Christina Moore), Kelly (Vanessa Lengies) the young newbie, and Bobbie (Suleka Mathew), who is considering a relationship with hottie paramedic Nick (Adam Garcia).

Christina must also deal with her rebellious daughter Camille (Hannah Hodson), who is still having trouble with her father’s death. And although the show is from the point of view of the nurses, there are also doctors, led by Dr. Tom Wakefield (Michael Vartan), the Chief of Surgery.

There is plenty for Christina to deal with in the premiere, including a suicide attempt by a friend of her husband (the fabulous D.B. Woodside, making the most of a small role), Ray running afoul of a cocky doctor and her daughter getting in trouble at school. But no matter what happens she is always there for her patients.

TNT has once again scored with a strong female lead as Pinkett Smith was made to headline a drama. And Christina suits her very well. Even when the show gets a little too earnest for its own good, Pinkett Smith still manages to make it work. And it’s great to see Vartan back on television, and in a role that might actually work.

As I said, HawthoRNe is not quite ER in its prime, but as the characters get more fleshed out it could get there--especially with such a strong leading lady leading the way…

Welcome to television, Jada. It’s great to have you…

“HawthoRNe” premieres Tuesday, June 16th at 9 p.m. on TNT…
Photo Credit: Erik Heinila/TNT

A Big Week for Bravo

This is a big week for Bravo as we’ll get the catfight we’ve been waiting for for weeks and we’ll get “Lost”…

Tuesday, we’ll finally see Teresa flip over that table as—in a “Housewives” tradition—the wives gather for dinner in the season finale. And sparks will fly thanks to the neurotic and shady Danielle…

Then Wednesday, the already excellent “Top Chef Masters” gets extra creative as the Quickfire Challenge has the chefs being judged by former “Top Chef” contestants they once judged. Plus, the chefs must make dishes inspired by the show “Lost” with ingredients provided by the Dharma Initiative for Team Darlton, i.e. “Lost” executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse.

You have to give Bravo props for being willing to promote another show for the sake of its own…

“The Real Housewives of New Jersey” airs Tuesday, June 16th at 10 p.m. and Top Chef Masters airs Wednesday, June 17th at 10 p.m. on Bravo…

Photo Credits: Andrei Jackamets/Bravo & Kelsey McNeal/Bravo

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bret Michaels Speaks

Bret Michaels finally spoke out about the Tonys with a statement on his blog

And I have to say that I agree with every word he said. They could have shown a little more sensitivity…

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Follow Me On Twitter...

I neglected it for a little while, but now I am back on Twitter.

If you're a tweeter, you can follow me by clicking here.

See you there!

All Hail the Return of the "Kings"

Finally, this week, “Kings” returns to NBC…

The show will air on Saturdays through July 25th and EW.com reports that all of the current storylines will get wrapped up.

That is, if any of us can remember what they were…

Even on Saturdays, I’m happy to see the show back on the air. This was one of the most underrated shows of the season, and it deserves to be seen.

“Kings” returns Saturday, June 13th at 8 p.m. on NBC…

Photo Credit: Eric Liebovitz/NBC

The End of "Best Week Ever"?

There had been some buzz on the Internet that VH1 was cancelling “Best Week Ever With Paul F. Tompkins.” EW.com reported that the show is taking an extended hiatus after this week and will return in January 2010 with a possible second retooling.

Today, Paul F. Tompkins twittered these three tweets:

“So you know: VH1 is taking Best Week Ever off the air until 2010. Tomorrow night is the last Best Week Ever of 2009.”

“And, in the absence of any word to the contrary from VH1, it's safe to assume the very last Best Week Ever with Paul F. Tompkins.”

“Thanks to everyone who stayed with Best Week Ever with me as the host. Please watch tomorrow night. I am not taking questions. Thank you.”

I’d say that retooling is a definite, wouldn’t you?

Personally, I like Tompkins, and I always thought he was funny on “Week” when he was just one of the commentators. But as the host, he just didn’t work. I realize VH1 was trying to find its own “The Soup,” but Tompkins is no Joel McHale…

The final “Best Week Ever With Paul F. Tompkins” airs Friday, June 12th at 11 p.m. on VH1…

Photo Credit: VH1

Conan Makes a Comeback

I knew I should have kept my mouth shut…

Last night, “The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien” stopped its ratings slide and regained its lead over “The Late Show With David Letterman.” Plus, for the week, “Tonight” dominated in the 18-49 demo, causing NBC to send out a press release declaring O’Brien the “new king of late night.”

So probably Julia Roberts did help Dave out. But I can’t help but wonder if this whole Sarah Palin controversy didn’t hurt him as well…

Those people who didn’t watch last night’s episode missed Kathy Griffin appearing on the show for the first time in 12 years. I don’t think she said anything that would keep Dave from inviting her back, but I don’t think Oprah will ever come back. Kudos, though, to Dave for taking the chance on Kathy anyway…

As for the ratings battle, I think that NBC might be polishing Conan’s crown too early…

"Today" Gets Juicy...

So, who could possibly fill in for Kathie Lee Gifford during the fourth hour of “Today”?

How about some “Real Housewives”?

Next week, four of Bravo’s most popular—and controversial—“Housewives” will co-host with Hoda Kotb while Gifford is on vacation. On Monday, June 15th, Bethenny Frankel (“New York”) joins the show, followed by Danielle Staub (“New Jersey”) on Tuesday, June 16th, who will bring with her a preview of that night’s “New Jersey” season finale, NeNe Leakes (“Atlanta”) on Wednesday, June 17th and Tamra Barney (“Orange County”) on Thursday, June 18th.

Interesting…

Check your local listings for when the fourth hour of “Today” airs in your area. The fourth hour airs in the Huntington/Charleston area weekdays at 2 p.m. on WSAZ…

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Searching For My Childhood Crush

This week, I got an e-mail from one of the many wonderful publicists I work with on a daily basis.

She had noticed the bio on this blog that mentions my love for Face from “The A-Team.” She wanted to let me know that she too was in love with Face and even has the memorabilia to prove it.

Then, news broke that Bradley Cooper is in talks to play Face in the “A-Team” movie.

Both of these events led me to go on a mission. A mission to find my childhood crush, Dirk Benedict.

And would you believe, I found him…

After sending out an e-mail to get some contact information to try and secure an interview, I received an e-mail from…wait for it…Dirk Benedict. And then when I thanked him for his first very kind e-mail, he sent me another one and because I mentioned my fiance, he congratulated me on my engagement.

Granted, I've been engaged for quite some time, but he doesn't have to know that...

The one bummer about this is that he actually turned me down for the interview, because he doesn’t really do those anymore; but he was very sweet about it. And if there’s any way he’s reading this now—which could be entirely possible—let me just say for the record that my crush is still intact.

Bradley Cooper has some serious shoes to fill…
Photo Credit: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Go, Dave, Go!

Okay, so I know it’s wrong to revel in other people’s misery, but I couldn’t help but smile at this headline in my e-mail inbox:

“Letterman Beats Conan”

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, last night, “The Late Show With David Letterman” beat “The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien” in the ratings.

Now, NBC will argue that this win was in total ratings and that Conan will still win the 18-49 demo. But since Jay was easily winning them both, I don’t see that as a valid argument.

And yes, Dave did have Julia Roberts and the Black Eyed Peas on the show, so that probably helped, but the truth is Conan has been slipping ever since his big debut.

Of course, that leads me to say just one thing…

Go, Dave, go!

Photo Credit: Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

"Wedding Day" Review: I Won't Be Setting the Date

If I had to describe TNT’s first unscripted drama in one phrase, I would say it’s Extreme Makeover: The Wedding Edition.

But since I’ve never watched “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” I can’t really make any comparisons. I can just tell you about this one—“Wedding Day.”

And although “Day” does have its tearjerking moments, there’s just something about it that falls flat…

The premise is a simple one. Couples who have been unable to get married because of some obstacle in their lives are given their dream wedding. Along the way, we learn their story through their own words, and the words of their friends and families who actually pitch in to help the wedding come together. The show is hosted by celebrity event planner Alan Dunn and celebrity wedding designer Diann Valentine.

In the premiere, the couple is Holli and Steve from Saginaw, Michigan. They were headed down the aisle before when Holli was seriously injured in a car accident that nearly killed her. After a year and a half, Holli is able to walk down the aisle and thanks to the show, she gets her dream wedding, including a Badgley Mischka wedding dress and Manolo Blahnik shoes.

There are several emotional moments throughout the episode that will tug at your heartstrings, but for the most part, the episode is just bland. Dunn and Valentine are bland, and at times, Valentine is slightly annoying. And I realize that the show is about the emotional stories, but it would be nice if we got a good look at what all the work went into—especially the lavish reception in this case.

“Day” is a nice little distraction, but I won’t be setting the date to watch it anytime soon…

The premiere of “Wedding Day” airs Tuesday, June 16th at 8 p.m. on TNT…

Photo: Tod O'Driscoll/TNT

SAG FINALLY Makes a Deal!

After a year of fighting and feuding, the Screen Actors Guild has FINALLY approved a new deal.

78 percent of the members voted yes on the new contract .

The deal will be for two years, so it won’t be long before they go through the whole song and dance again…

Another Cancelled FOX Animated Show Sees Life

It has happened again. A cancelled show has been resurrected…

Comedy Central announced today that it has ordered 26 new episodes of “Futurama”—more than six years after FOX cancelled it.

The series was brought back due to its “blockbuster performance on DVD and on Comedy Central,” according to the official press release.

The new episodes will be available in mid 2010. According to the release, Twentieth Century Fox retains the option to license the original runs of the new episodes to a broadcast network.

Considering FOX’s track record with cancelled animated shows, I’m thinking there’s hope for “King of the Hill” yet…

Has the "A-Team" Movie Found Its Face?

“The Hollywood Reporter” reported today that Bradley Cooper—fresh off his role in the #1 movie in the country, “The Hangover,”—is in talks to play Face in the movie adaption of “The A-Team.”

Now, you guys know I am opposed to the whole idea of an “A-Team” movie, but I think this is actually a pretty good choice.

The movie, which is being produced by Ridley and Tony Scott, is slated for release June 11, 2010.

What do you guys think about Cooper as Face? Thoughts on the other roles?

Zack Morris--Yes, Zack Morris--Visits "Jimmy Fallon"

I told you guys that Mark-Paul Gosselaar would be into a "Saved By the Bell" reunion. But what he did on last night's "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" was just too much...

Got to give him credit, though. It will bring a lot of attention to "Raising the Bar"...

I'm almost beginning to change my mind about this reunion thing...



You can read an interview with Gosselaar right after the show here.

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Two Tonys Moments Everyone Is Talking About UPDATED

There are two minutes everyone is talking about from last night’s Tony awards.

The opening number was pretty good, minus the sound problems (which permeated the entire show), but the moment from it that everyone is talking about is Bret Michaels playing to the crowd so much that he missed his mark and walked right into a backdrop. There were reports that he broke his nose, but apparently that wasn’t the case. You can see it here…



The other big moment from the show came at the end. Host Neil Patrick Harris told us to keep watching to the end, and boy, was he right, as he gave us this outstanding number. It was his only one of the night. In fact, it was probably the longest he was on stage all night…



By the way, the Tonys had their highest ratings in three years…

UPDATE: The Associated Press is now reporting that Michaels fractured his nose and busted his lip, which required three stitches. YIKES!

Pick of the Week: A Five-Star Competition

I know you guys are starting to think I’m on the Bravo payroll.

But the purpose of this post each week is to recommend what I think is the best thing TV has to offer for the week. And I would be doing you all a major disservice if I picked anything other than what I did—even if it is my second Bravo pick in a row…

My Pick of the Week is the season premiere of “Top Chef Masters.”

When I first heard about this show, I was a little concerned that this would be a lame copycat that would dilute the original “Top Chef” brand. I couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, there’s a chance that “Masters” could be even better than the original…

“Masters” takes 24 well-known professional chefs—many of whom have been judges on “Top Chef”—and puts them through the same kind of challenges the cheftestants have been through for the past five years. In the first six episodes, a group of four chefs compete. They go through a quickfire challenge, as well as an elimination challenge, to earn stars from diners and a group of food critics. The chef with the most stars moves on to the next round. The chefs are competing for their favorite charities.

If you think that these professionals won’t have any problems with the challenges, think again. The first quickfire makes the chefs do dessert and these professionals have many of the same problems with it as the cheftestants do. Then, the elimination challenge is probably the best I have ever seen on the show as the chefs must cook a three-course meal with only a microwave, a hot plate and a toaster oven. There’s a GREAT twist thrown in to make the challenge even more difficult that I won’t spoil for you here. Let’s just say that one of the chefs ends up using a shower in his meal preparation…

And one of the chefs must completely scramble as he makes a mistake I actually had to rewind to see again because I was in such disbelief…

The previews show us that the competition gets a little more intense as the season goes on, but in the premiere, there are no problems whatsoever between the chefs. In fact, they’re a lot of fun to watch as they laugh at each other’s mistakes and commiserate over the challenges.

Kelly Choi is the host and she does an outstanding job. She’s joined by a group of critics who, in the premiere at least, are extremely tough. As the season progresses, Gail Simmons will jump into the mix (Thankfully, there’s no sign of Toby Young.), and Neil Patrick Harris will even take part in a future episode.

Since this show is all about gaining stars, I’ll use that same ratings system for my review and give “Top Chef Masters” five stars.

Those Magical Elves have done it again…

“Top Chef Masters” premieres Wednesday, June 10th at 10 p.m. on Bravo…


Photo Credits: Jaimie Trueblood/Bravo & Kelsey McNeal/Bravo

"Raising the Bar" Review: Taking the Criticism Head On

Sometimes, the best way to deal with a criticism is just to confront it head on. And that’s exactly what “Raising the Bar” does in its second season premiere…

In the episode entitled “Hair Apparent,” Jerry (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) celebrates his birthday with his friends, who decide to take the opportunity to take a few playful shots at him, or more precisely his hair (which ironically, looks better in this episode than it did at any point in season one). And although their actions annoy Jerry, it doesn’t seem to change his mind about it.

But when a juror Jerry is unable to prevent from being seated tells him he doesn’t trust him because of his sloppy appearance, Jerry takes action, and the hair is gone. And yes, it is a HUGE improvement.

Personally, though, I’ve always been more bothered by Jerry’s ill-fitting suits. Thankfully, those are gone too and Jerry actually looks like a real lawyer. As Gosselaar told me when I spoke with him a few weeks ago, “We thought we would take away a distraction.” Now hopefully people can start concentrating on the show’s substance instead of its appearance…

And Jerry has an interesting case to get it started. He’s representing a man whose nephew was selling drugs out of his barbershop behind his back. The nephew is willing to accuse the uncle, but the uncle refuses to sell out his nephew.

Meanwhile, Roz (Gloria Reuben) decides she wants to get back into the courtroom as her counterpart on the other side, Nick (Currie Graham), gets tough with his staff. Marcus (J. August Richards) meets an intriguing woman on his jury. And Bobbi’s (Natalia Cigliuti) possible romance with Jerry hits a snag as her divorce starts to get ugly.

Plus, Judge Kessler (Jane Kaczmarek) is still up to her old tricks, Charlie (Jonathan Scarfe) is still dealing with his decision to come out of the closet, and Michelle (Melissa Sagemiller) is as driven as ever to win.

In the third episode, they’re joined by an extremely eccentric judge (John Michael Higgins, who has thankfully rebounded from his “Kath & Kim” debacle) who will no doubt make all of the attorneys’ lives miserable with his illogical rules.

Gosselaar told me that with a longer season, the show can take its time and really flesh out all of the characters, and he couldn’t have been more right. Roz, who was probably the most slighted character in season one, finally serves a purpose with her return to the courtroom. And Nick’s ambitions to win at any cost make him a little deeper than the shallow sexist we knew in season one.

You’ve heard me say this before, but it’s worth repeating that “Bar” is a good drama with a great cast. And after watching the entire first season and the first and third episodes of the second season in a marathon session over the weekend, I am more than hooked on the characters, the cases and the drama.

A clean cut, better dressed Mark-Paul Gosselaar is just a really nice bonus…

“Raising the Bar” premieres Monday, June 8th at 10 p.m. on TNT…




Photo Credits: Eric McCandless/TNT & Art Streiber/TNT

Sunday, June 07, 2009

"The Closer" Review: Thankfully, Some Things Never Change

When last we left Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) on “The Closer,” she was a brand new bride. As season five opens, she is still a married woman, but there’s not too much time to explore that as she dives right into a horrific murder…

A mother, her mother-in-law and her two children are murdered and the husband and father is the prime suspect, but the solution may not be that simple as this episode takes several twists and turns before Brenda closes the case and gets her confession.

What we do see of her personal life is not good, as she may lose someone close to her…

I know it seems like I’m skimping on details here, but this case is so rich with drama, I don’t want to spoil anything for you. Because just when you think you know who did it, the show proves you wrong…

TNT says that this season will “explore the issue of change.” Thankfully, though, one thing doesn't change—the incredible Kyra Sedgwick. Even after four seasons, she continues to find new nuances in Brenda to keep us watching.

“The Closer” is a solid drama with a great cast. And paired with “Raising the Bar,” TNT is bringing us a serious one-two punch you won’t want to miss…

“The Closer” premieres Monday, June 8th at 9 p.m. on TNT…

Photo Credit: Karen Neal/TNT

"Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List" Review: Shaking Things Up

Ah, summer…

Warm weather, picnics, baseball, and the return of “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List.”

I have long called this show my guiltiest pleasure, because I just feel like I shouldn’t think Kathy is funny. But she is funny as she and her staff get into situation after situation trying to get her on the A-List.

But this year, Kathy is shaking things up a little bit. Instead of just getting into situations she thinks will help her cause, she is seeking out advice from some of her favorite people about how to get to the A-List.

In the fifth season premiere, the person is Bette Midler, who puts Kathy in her Las Vegas show—as a hooker. Then the two spend some time together—without her staff—so that Kathy can get some tips from Midler about how to be an A-List star.

One of the things I’ve always loved about this show is that it doesn’t seem as staged as other reality shows. Even though you know that some of the situations are planned, Kathy always seems to make them look spontaneous. But so much of the premiere seems planned and even forced. I’m hoping that as the season rolls on, Kathy’s interviews get worked in a little more seamlessly.

Now, just because it seems planned doesn’t mean it’s not funny, because it is. I just think the show is funnier when it focuses on members of Team Griffin, Kathy’s mom Maggie, her assistant Tiffany and her tour manager Tom (Sadly, Jessica is no longer working for Kathy.). And who doesn’t love watching Kathy make a fool out of herself—and others?

I know I do, no matter how guilty I might feel doing it…

“Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List” premieres Monday, June 8th at 10 p.m. on Bravo…

Photo Credit: Marlene Karas/Bravo

"Raising the Bar" DVD Review: So Much More Than Just Hair

When I spoke to Mark-Paul Gosselaar a few weeks ago about his series, “Raising the Bar,” he seemed frustrated that the media had paid so much attention to his hair. He even seemed to think that people had ignored some of the best aspects of the show because they were so caught up with his hair.

I have to admit that I didn’t think that anyone was so caught up that they could actually ignore anything about the show. But then I read something in this week’s “Entertainment Weekly” that actually made me sad…

Ken Tucker wrote, “If like me, you didn’t watch ‘Bar’ during its debut season partly because Gosselaar’s floppy tresses distracted you from believing his idealistic Jerry Kellerman character…”

Are you serious? He didn’t watch because of someone’s hair?

His loss. Because “Bar” is classic Steven Bochco with great characters, great drama and a great cast. And now you can see that for yourself with the release of season one on DVD…

If you’ve never seen it, “Bar” follows the lawyers of the New York Public Defenders’ Office and the district attorney’s office. They may be on different sides of the law, but in the end, they’re still friends. Gosselaar is Jerry Kellerman, who will do anything for his clients—no matter what they may have done. Surrounding him is his boss, Roz (Gloria Reuben) and fellow public defenders Bobbi (Natalia Cigliuti), and Richard (Teddy Sears). On the other side of the fence are his friends Michelle (Melissa Sagemiller) and Marcus (J. August Richards) and their boss, Nick (Currie Graham). Jerry’s other friend, Charlie (Jonathan Scarfe), is the law clerk for Jerry’s nemesis Judge Trudy Kessler (Jane Kaczmarek).

The season starts out a little uneven but by episode four, it’s really hit its stride, and by the end of the 10 episodes you will be so completely hooked that you’ll be ready to run outside and take on the world to save the little guys…

The best episodes are the ones that really challenge you to sympathize with the public defenders, like when Jerry represents a man who confessed to raping a child, but is innocent of killing the child.

Yes, sometimes the show gets a little too righteous for its own good, and sometimes the cases wrap up a little too easily. But in this day and age, don’t we all want to see the good guys win every now and then?

Plus, there are enough interesting personal subplots to help round out the show, including Jerry’s love life and the flirtation between Roz and Richard. Some of the characters—especially Nick and Roz—were very flimsy in the beginning, but thankfully, by the end of the season they’re a little more fleshed out.

The DVD contains all 10 episodes from the first season, plus a very short blooper reel and two featurettes. One featurette, “Sworn Testimony: True Stories of a Public Defender,” lets us hear from the man who helped inspire the show, former pubic defender David Feige. Hearing from him really does help explain how public defenders can do their jobs. The other featurette, “Behind the Bar: An After Hours Roundtable With the Cast,” give us a chance to hear most of the cast talk about the show, their characters and some things that go on behind the scenes—like cast members sneaking into Gosselaar’s trailer to play Rock Band. Sadly, this featurette is a little short, because I could listen to them talk for hours. Thankfully, the same cast members are back to do commentary for one of the season’s strongest episodes. Even though the drama is pretty serious as Bobbi represents a boy willing to take the fall for his older brother, I laughed through the entire hour as the cast members joked about the show, each other, and yes, Gosselaar’s hair. Graham, especially, is a hoot to listen to.

If you’re into more serious commentary, there’s also one with Feige, Bochco, and their fellow Executive Producer Jesse Bochco.

If you’re looking for good drama presented by great actors, then “Bar” is exactly what you’re looking for. Yes, Gosselaar’s hair can be a mess, but if that’s all you’re interested in, you’re really going to miss out.

And don’t worry, he cuts it in season two…

“Raising the Bar: The Complete First Season” is available now…

Photo: © WDSHE All Rights Reserved

Why a “Saved By the Bell” Reunion is a Bad Idea

So apparently Jimmy Fallon is trying to reunite the cast of “Saved By the Bell” on his show to celebrate its 20th anniversary…

And if you’d asked me about this a year or so ago, I would have been jumping for joy, but now, I think it’s a terrible idea and I hope it doesn’t happen.

Why? Because Dustin Diamond is a jerk who doesn’t deserve any publicity whatsoever.

And I fear that even being anywhere near that guy could seriously tarnish the rest of the cast—especially Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Mario Lopez, who are flying pretty high these days…

Having talked to Gosselaar, I can tell you that he still has a lot of affection for the show, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he agreed to do it to please the fans of the show. But it honestly would pain me to see him anywhere near Diamond. And you know that Diamond would make the appearance all about him and it would be a total embarrassment for everyone involved.

Of course, maybe that’s why Fallon is pushing for it…

If you saw Diamond on “Celebrity Fit Club,” you know exactly what I’m talking about. And yes, I realize it was all just for show, but it was still terrible. Anyone who makes Kimberley Locke cry, is not someone I care to watch.

If you could just reunite the cast minus Diamond, that would be great. But that would honestly be a little unfair to the fans since it isn’t the whole cast. Now, if he decided not to show up, that would be different.

But we all know that won’t be the case…

You can sign Fallon’s online petition here, but I say don’t encourage him…

Photo Credit: NBC.com

Thursday, June 04, 2009

"Supermodel" Winner Branden: "It was so stressful, especially with the drama"

One of the reasons I wanted Branden to win by the end of last night’s “Make Me a Supermodel” finale was because I knew I was going to talk to the winner the next day. And I thought it seemed like Branden would be a lot of fun to talk to.

It was great to find out I was right, because not only was Branden a lot of fun, he was also pretty frank about the show, the girls and who was responsible for all of the drama in the house.

But the first thing I absolutely had to ask him was whether or not he got co-host Nicole Trunfio’s phone number. Nicole said after the final catwalk that she’d give Branden her number if he won. So did she? “Yes she did, but not right after the show. She kind of teased me for a little while.” Trunfio gave him her number at the “A-List Awards” in April, but if any of you are looking for some kind of romance, you’re going to be disappointed. “Nothing’s going to happen from it,” Branden told me. “She’s too old for me” (For the record, she’s 23, he’s 18.). Then, he laughed and told me, “I’ve moved on to better things.” Branden then admitted he has a girlfriend.

To be perfectly honest, I was fully prepared to speak to Jonathan today. And Branden admitted he was surprised by his win as well. “I was so surprised. I kind of underestimated myself. My body just sank, I felt like passing out.”

So what does he think put him over the top? “Probably the last week. I really just proved I have that quality. I have a quality to become a supermodel.” Branden said the judges didn’t really tell him why he was their choice, but he thinks he knows why. “I literally whooped a-- that last week.”

Branden said he hasn’t talked to Jonathan, but he did talk with Sandhurst. “Naturally, he’s a little bummed out. I feel for them. I’m so thankful they took it like men and they respected it. They’ll both have great careers.”

Maybe more importantly than the reaction of the judges or his fellow competitors was the reaction of his mother, who we got to meet in last night’s finale. “I can’t even explain how happy she was,” he told me. Branden said he took her outside her place of work and told her and then instructed her to not look happy when she went back in since she couldn’t tell anyone what had happened. “She had to lie to people. That’s not in her nature.” I asked Branden about the feeling he had seeing him and his mother having fun at the gallery on last night’s show. “We’re our worst critics. She said, ‘I don’t look good.’ She looked great.”

One of the things the judges kept saying to Branden last night was that he had really grown through the competition and I couldn’t agree more. I had completely forgotten that I didn’t like him in the beginning until I saw the flashbacks during the finale. Branden also has noticed that he’s a different guy. “I can even feel it. If you had talked to me a couple of months ago I would have been, ‘f this and f that.’ I’ve matured and I look forward to my career as a man.”

The most eye-opening part of our conversation, though, was when he told me about living in the house. “It was so stressful, especially with all the drama. I’ve never met girls like that before. Jordan is ridiculous when it comes to drama. She was so two-faced. When it came to the girls, Branden told me “Amanda was the only true one—and both Karens (Karen and Kerryn). And Laury was straight up. The rest of them were just fake, sorry.”

The guys, on the other hand, didn’t create that much drama. “We all got along.
I had some problems with people, like Gabe, and Colin and I had a couple of words, but that was it.” He joked, “They all know I can take them.”

Branden’s honesty continued when talking about the photo shoots. I asked him if there were times when he thought the photographer made the wrong choice, because I certainly thought there were. “Salome, I couldn’t even believe all the times she won.” He told me it got to the point where he was thinking, “We should not even do the photo shoot. Just give it to Salome. If there was a guy photographer, she’d win. She has a big butt, and he saw her naked.”

When I asked Branden his favorite and least favorite shoot, he actually gave me the same answer—the naked accessories shoot with Bill Diodato. “The picture was my favorite, the shoot itself was my least favorite.” During his shoot with Branden, Diodato at one point said if someone was paying money for this, there would have to be a re-shoot. Branden said he wasn’t going to go into details about his experience with Diodato, but he did tell me that he thought he got a great picture (and I completely agree).

Branden said he learned a lot from his experience on the show—drama and all. “I just basically learned to not underestimate myself. To give people chances. I made a whole bunch of friends. I’m open now to new relationships. I’m happy to have had the opportunity. I had a great time.” Branden said he is still in contact with Shawn and Sandhurst.

So what happens for him now? “Now I can shout at the top of the mountain. I’m probably going to LA some. As soon as I see the money, I get to go to New York.” I asked him when he’ll see the money, and he told me, “As soon as Maybelline gives it to me, I guess.”

You can see the finale again Saturday, June 6th at 9 a.m. on Bravo…

Photo Credits: Virginia Sherwood/Bravo, Timothy Greenfield Sanders, and Bill Diodato

Tim Gunn and Iron Man Make It Work

You may recall that I confessed a few weeks ago that I’m a comic book geek. And you already know how much I adore Tim Gunn.

Would you believe they’re actually coming together?

Tim Gunn will join forces with Iron Man in August in a backup story in the pages of the comic, “Models, INC.” #1. According to the Marvel Comics press release, “Loaded Gunn” will be written by Marc Sumerak.

Here’s the story description from the press release: “The New York Museum of Fashion is hosting an exhibit of Iron Man’s armor—the best suits in the Marvel Universe. When a villainous threat crashes the event, it’s up to Iron Man to save the day, but he will need help from the man best-suited for the job: Tim Gunn.”

How awesome is that?

There will be two covers—the standard one drawn by Scott Clark and a Tim Gunn variant by Phil Jiminez. Two guesses which one I’ll be getting…

“Models, INC” is a four issue limited series set during Fashion Week featuring Marvel “fashionistas” like Mary Jane Watson, Patsy Walker and Millie the Model.

“Models, INC” #1 hits stands August 26th…

Photos Credit: Marvel Comics

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

"Supermodel" Finale: Never Underestimate the Kid

If you haven’t seen the season finale of “Make Me a Supermodel,” stop reading now…

As the final three of Sandhurst, Jonathan and Branden prepared for their final catwalk, Sandhurst told Branden he owed him an apology. “I underestimated you,” he told him.

He wasn’t the only one…

At the beginning of the season, I couldn’t stand Branden and his apparent homophobia, but little by little he grew on me. Still at the start of tonight’s finale, I was saying that it would be a total travesty if Jonathan didn’t win. But by the end of the hour, I was hoping that somehow Branden would pull it out.

And when he did, I practically jumped in the air. But since I’m sitting in the floor, due to a lack of couch, that would have been a little difficult…

I spent most of the hour saying out loud about Branden, “He’s so cute.” The 18-year-old made me laugh as he got excited about everything. And he made me cry as he shared a tearful reunion with his mother, and then broke down on the catwalk when judge Catherine Malandrino asked him if it was hard growing up without a father figure (His father left when he was very young.).

I also spent the hour saying, “The kid is bringing it,” as Branden appeared to switch into a higher gear with both the opening photo shoot and a test cover shoot with “Cosmopolitan.” And Sandhurst and Jonathan could see it as well…

I have no doubt that both Jonathan and Sandhurst will get signed. Branden needed this to get him on the right foot with what looks like to be a promising career.

I look forward to speaking with him, if all goes well, tomorrow...

Photo Credit: Barbara Nitke/Bravo

Neil Patrick Harris: "I like to be in lots of once in a lifetimes"

Media conference calls are usually all about the same. The person being interviewed goes through the motions as kindly as they can, answering question after question, no matter how bad the questions may be.

But today’s conference call that I participated in was like no other as the person we were interviewing was so busy cracking us all up that we could barely think of our questions.

That person was the awesome NPH, Neil Patrick Harris.

He was with us to talk about hosting the Tonys, but he also took questions about “How I Met Your Mother” and his other projects, including the upcoming “Harold and Kumar” Christmas movie.

And when I hung up the phone, I was a bigger NPH fan than ever. And if I find someone with one of those talking Barney bobbleheads one of the reporters said he had, I will fight them for it...

The first question was, of course, what kind of opening he has planned for the Tonys, but those of us who were expecting an NPH song and dance number are apparently going to be disappointed. “They have a big giant opening planned that is bigger than any they’ve done in Tony history. I probably won’t be included. When it’s done I’ll come out and start the show. I’m taking a page off of Mr. Jackman’s book the first year he hosted. He wasn’t on too much and didn’t do a lot of performing and kept things moving at a smooth clip,” he said.

“I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to compete with the performances. I’m spending a lot of time with the writers to come up with clever quips to introduce stuff. I don’t want to look like I’ve come out to read a teleprompter. I won’t be doing song and dance numbers, much to my chagrin. I’ll just keep it moving.”

So what show does he see winning big? “This year is all about ‘Billy Elliot’ and what kind of juggernaut it will be. ‘Next to Normal’ is the anti-juggernaut show. I can’t stop singing it and listening to it.” Harris predicted that there will be some surprise winners and he “would be thrilled if ‘Next to Normal’ was one of them.”

For those of you who only know Harris from television, he has a pretty extensive theater background, which he recapped for us today. “‘Proof’ was the first play I did and I was really grateful they didn’t just drop us into the pre-existing blocking (It had previously won a Tony.). ‘Cabaret’ was the most full-body thing I’ve ever done. It was almost Cirque de Soleil in its nature. ‘Assassins’ was the first one I did from start to finish. The theater bug when it bites you, it doesn’t seem to want to go away. It is discipline. I am so constantly impressed by what these performers give.”

Harris told us that he did watch the Tony Awards when he was a kid. “I grew up in a really small town in New Mexico. It was not really an arts town. I just loved that you could see live snippets and numbers from these large shows. It’s crazy the little baby steps that led me to this heading of the ship.” Harris said the Tonys put the stage in reach for people who live far from Broadway. “I think that’s what makes the Tonys special for most of America.”

So what was his reaction to being asked to host? “I’m a little surprised and not.
I would’ve thought they would’ve gone with more of an A-list film star to help the ratings, but I’m pleased that they chose me because I have an inside look. And I hope I can convey that to the audience. That viewers will not think it’s a stuffy evening but still be respectful. I’m angling to change the structure of the show a little bit. It will become obvious by the closing credits, so I encourage people to stay until the end. I’ll bemoan the fact that I won’t do too much singing or performing. Maybe next year.”

Broadway is enjoying a high right now and Harris admits that makes his job a lot easier. “The pendulum has shifted radically back and forth. I love that it’s at a high point now
It makes my enthusiasm more authentic. I think a lot of the numbers you’re going to see will be high energy and fun to watch. I think it’s a rock on season.”

Harris said he makes it to New York three or four times a year and sees four or five shows per visit. And he tries to take in shows when he can in LA. “I’m a big fan of just seeing things live.”

On Harris’ docket tonight is seeing Angela Lansbury in “Blithe Spirit.” I’m really anxious to see someone so gifted, at her age especially, still doing crazy characters.”

Harris shared his pre-show routine with us, which is to caffeinate himself a half-hour before, but he doesn’t eat anything, because he has “a weak stomach.” But then Harris admitted that the caffeine may be the cause of the weak stomach. However, he wasn’t going to change it now.

One reporter asked Harris the difference between hosting and being an actor on stage. “There is far less memorization as host. You’re preparing to create a vibe. You’re dealing with time issues all the time. If speeches are long because they’re awesome, they don’t cut them…You’re a personality and not an actor. You’re trying to stay spontaneous. I feel confident that I can represent myself. The challenge is coming up with material that doesn’t make me seem like host 75. If anything starts to get boring, you have to be aware of that and get things going. There will be some understandable lulls, but hopefully we can keep things moving at a fast clip.”

Harris admitted that he’s been studying Hugh Jackman’s stints as host. “He has great charisma. You sort of just want to watch him do stuff. If I can steal 10 percent of his magnetic magnetism, I’d be happy.”

Of course, I don’t think NPH lacks any in the magnetism department, and I’m sure the reporters on the call would agree with me as many of them were huge Barney fans who wanted to know about the future of Barney and Robin on “How I Met Your Mother.”

“I have no word yet. I’m a big fan of our writing staff. We don’t feel it necessary to complain about our characters. No one is looking to change the group dynamic, but that’s also an interesting wrinkle. I’m a big Cobie Smulders fan so the more time I get to spend with her the better.”

When a reporter asked Harris to comment on the couple name some people have christened Barney and Robin with, Robarney, Harris responded, “I think that’s a wonderful name for our daughter.”

It’s obvious that Harris is having a blast at what he’s doing. “I am grateful that I get to play the guy. I think we have a nice-back-and-forth. I like to take [the writers’] lines and trump them with physicality or a weird line reading.”

The subject of “Harold and Kumar” also came up within the half-hour as a reporter wanted to know if it was possible for Harris to appear in the upcoming Christmas movie since he died in “Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay.” After chastising the reporter for not staying tuned through the closing credits, Harris responded, “If you think two gunshots to the chest is going to keep NPH down, you’re crazy, yo.”

See why I love him? Harris said he hopes to be “naughty” again in the new movie.

And no surprise, one reporter asked about the possibilities of a sequel to “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.” “Circumstances aren’t allowing it yet,” he responded, citing the pick-up of Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse” and Nathan Fillion’s “Castle.” But Harris was hopeful it could happen at some point.

There’s no doubt with “Mother,” “Dr. Horrible,” “Harold and Kumar” and his hosting gigs that Harris has carved out quite the diverse career for himself—especially in the last year-and-a-half. “I like to be in lots of once in a lifetimes. I think maybe the fact that I started so young, it changed my perspective. I just like doing gigs that I enjoy doing. It’s a tricky line. You still want to seem edgy enough that you can do ‘Harold and Kumar’ and still hop to New York and be taken seriously in a play. My demo hopping is akin to a plate spinner in the carnival.”

What plate would he like to spin next? An independent film. “It would be fun to do some actual work.”

The Tony Awards air Sunday, June 7th at 8 p.m. on CBS…

Photo Credits: Cliff Lipson/CBS and Ron P. Jaffe/FOX

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

"Watch What Happens" Will Live On

I got an e-mail today from one of the fine folks at Bravo who read my post “Mourning the loss of ‘Watch What Happens’” and wanted to let me know that “Watch What Happens” will actually live on…

“Watch What Happens” will be a weekly live interactive topical series hosted by Andy Cohen.

So at least it will be used by somebody…

A Legendary Tonys

I have never seen more than a couple of seconds of a Tony Awards telecast in my life, so I usually leave that up to my pal Chuck and his Tri-State Theater blog.

But not this year. Because this year’s awards are going to be legen—wait for it—dary!

That’s right. Neil Patrick Harris is hosting the Tonys, so you know that I’ll be watching every single awesome second.

And it’s guaranteed to be “Nothin’ But a Good Time” since Poison will be performing along with the cast of the Tony-nominated “Rock of Ages.”

Wow. Poison and the Tonys. There are two things I never thought I’d write in the same post…

Dolly Parton will also be taking the stage with the cast of “9 to 5” and Elton John will perform with the cast of “Billy Elliot.”

The Tonys will air Sunday, June 7th at 8 p.m. on CBS. And once again, Chuck will be live-blogging the event on his blog.

And I would Stay Tuned to this blog if I were you, kids, because later this week you may just see some words from the great NPH himself…

Photo Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS

DVD Review: "Boston Legal" Season Five

There is no one who can walk the line between humor and drama better than David E. Kelley.

And I’m not sure any show showed that better than “Boston Legal.” Because even though the show boasted some of the silliest moments ever seen on television, it also had some of its most dramatic.

The final 13 episodes that aired last season definitely had their share of both. Now, you can relive them all with the release of “Boston Legal Season Five” on DVD.

It’s always good when a show goes out on a high note, and I’m not sure “BL” could have gone out any higher. I still consider the Thanksgiving episode an absolute masterpiece.

And if anyone still has lingering doubts about Denny and Alan getting married in the finale, those will be erased when you see the DVD featurettes about the finale and about Alan and Denny. I had never really thought of the two of them as a love story, but they truly are.

One of the interesting special features on DVDs is always the deleted scenes. And there’s usually one scene that you just can’t believe they cut out. But in this case, it’s an entire storyline as we get to see the deleted story of Denny’s daughter, who he meets for the first time. And this being “BL,” there’s of course a humorous twist to the story, as Alan actually ends up going out with her, much to Denny’s chagrin. The daughter was played by Kimberly Williams-Paisley, who you’ll recall, played the opposing counsel in the Supreme Court case in the finale. The producers liked her so much that after cutting her daughter story, they brought her back. I can see why Kelley cut it, but it’s still good, so I’m glad we can watch it on the DVD.

I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get any commentaries on the episodes. And I would love to see an interview with Kelley where he took on ABC for the terrible way it treated his show. But I guess he prefers to let the finished product speak for itself.

And boy, does it have a lot to say…

“Boston Legal Season Five” is available now…

Photo Credit: FOX Home Entertainment

The "I'm a Celebrity" Premiere: Thoughts?

So did anybody out there actually make it through the first episode of “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!”?

I have to admit I only watched about the first two minutes, and then when I saw Lou Diamond Phillips in the opening credits, I could feel myself tearing up, so I turned the channel.

It's just so sad...

For those of you who did make it, any thoughts?

Monday, June 01, 2009

Mark-Paul Gosselaar: "We've got the start of something really big here"

Last season, any magazine/Internet article about “Raising the Bar” mentioned the same thing—Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s hair. And even though it seemed like such a silly topic, I felt like it was my journalistic duty to ask his reaction to the backlash when I talked to him.

So after I said hello and took a deep breath, I dove right in. “I’m almost embarrassed to start off with this question,” I told him. But before I could even ask the question, he interrupted me. “The hair,” was all he said, but I could tell it was a bit of a sore subject.

“Were you surprised by the reaction?” I asked him.

“We’ve been surprised from the very beginning. We didn’t think it would be such a talking point. It’s still a surprise.” Gosselaar is way too nice of a guy to come out and say it was annoying, but he did mention that he wished people would have instead talked more about the different way the show portrays the public defender’s office.

Tackling the issue head on (no pun intended), in the second season premiere entitled “Hair Apparent,” Gosselaar’s Jerry actually cuts his hair. “We just thought we’d try something. We thought we would take away a distraction.”

So other than the hair, how else has Jerry changed from when we first met him last season? “I think he’s been more tactical,” he told me. “He’s still as passionate and dedicated to the cause as ever. He says first and thinks second. He’s never going to conform, but he’s willing to play the game.”

Gosselaar also provided a little bit of a tease as to what else we can expect this season. “We brought in a new judge to help out with Jane’s [Kaczmarek] character. There’s a new perspective, new romances. Jerry and Bobbie continue to roll along. The luxury of having 15 episodes is we are able to take our time. Last year we kind of had to put our heads down and get through the season. Now we can broaden our characters.”

When “Bar” premiered last year, it broke records and became ad-supported cable’s highest rated series premiere in history. I asked Gosselaar what his reaction was to the numbers. “I’m not gonna lie. That was really awesome. I used a profanity to say how excited I was. We weren’t working at the time, so we didn’t have the pressure of waiting on ratings. That can affect you on set.” Gosselaar said he is hoping for the same kind of success this season.

TNT has really changed the rules when it comes to scheduling new shows with a full slate of new series hitting the airwaves this season. I asked Gosselaar the difference between working on a network and working on cable. “Twenty-two episodes (the normal network order) can get sort of tough toward the end. It’s a long season. 10 was way too short. 15 seems like a really good number. We’ve got the start of something really big here. I really thought this is the place you want to be for television. I couldn’t have timed it any better.”

So what has Gosselaar learned while doing the show? “Public defenders actually want to be public defenders.” Gosselaar said that public defenders are usually portrayed as people who—for whatever reason—can’t be a paid defense attorney. But when he interned at the public defenders’ office in the Bronx, he learned that’s not the case. “I met some of the brightest, most fascinating people. People that went to the best schools. They want to help the powerless. It gave me a whole new perspective.”

Gosselaar also looks at the entire legal system differently now. I’m not as cynical [toward defendants]. I may be more cynical toward the other side now. I’m interested in finding out how or why a person did that. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt now.”

Gosselaar told me more than once that he is truly enjoying his experience with “Bar.” So how long is he hoping the show will continue? “I’m on board until they call it. I look at my good friend Dennis Franz (who was on “NYPD Blue” 12 years). He had the same dedication the whole time. I’m here until they make me leave.”

“Raising the Bar” returns next Monday, June 8th at 10 p.m. on TNT…
Photo Credits: Kyle Christy/TNT & Art Streiber/TNT

Mourning the Loss of “Watch What Happens”

I admit it. I have a problem with change. I guess you could say I’m pretty set in my ways. So when I got an e-mail from Bravo telling me they’re changing their tagline, it made me a little sad…

Now you guys know I love Bravo, but I really can’t get behind this one. “Watch what happens” is creative. It’s memorable. And it’s fun to watch the Bravo stars say it.

The new tagline? “By Bravo.” That’s it. “By Bravo.”

According to the press release: “The new ‘By Bravo’ tagline enables the network to own and curate different categories, including ‘Food by Bravo’ for ‘Top Chef,’ ‘Competition by Bravo’ for ‘The Fashion Show,’ ‘Drama by Bravo’ for ‘The Real Housewives’ franchise, and even ‘Funny by Bravo’ for ‘Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List.’

Okay…

The new tagline—and look—will premiere June 23rd, but you can get a sneak preview here.



Feel free to be sad right along with me…

NASCAR Vs. Digger

I’m always a little sad when FOX’s part of the NASCAR season comes to an end, because I think their coverage is the best of the three networks.

But I’m thinking that maybe NASCAR may not share my sentiments…

Ratings are down this year, and according to one report, NASCAR is putting the blame squarely on the shoulders of an animated fuzzy creature.

That’s right. NASCAR is blaming Digger…

In an article on USAToday.com, FOX Sports Chairman David Hill said he received an e-mail from a “high-ranking NASCAR official” that told him that Digger was making people tune out.

Hill told USAToday.com, “It’s the biggest crock of [stuff] I’ve ever heard.”

And I’m afraid I have to agree. Because as much as I can’t stand Digger—and it’s a lot—I believe NASCAR should look somewhere else for its ratings woes.

In the mirror…

I think one of the biggest problems for NASCAR on TV is the inconsistent start times. Every week it’s a crap shoot as to what time the race will start. Sometimes it’s even a crap shoot as to what day it will be on.

I understand the desire to put parts of the races in primetime, but this ruins the tradition for fans of going to church, coming home and watching the race and then going back to church in the evening and talking about the race after the service.

Of course, the races could start a lot earlier if so many of them didn’t have to come with pointless concerts. Gavin Rossdale singing “Love Remains the Same” before a race? Seriously?

I guess it’s just easier to blame something that can’t talk back…

What do you guys think is the problem with NASCAR? Is a cute—but incredibly annoying—gopher really to blame?

And maybe more importantly, what was Keith Urban thinking recording Digger’s theme song? Did someone at FOX have dirt on him?

Photo Credit: FOX Sports