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  • Don’t Heigl Yourself

    March 27th, 2014

    By Danny Manus

    I’ll admit it. I love Grey’s Anatomy. Have from the first episode. I even stuck in there for those couple of crappy seasons (much like I did with ER).  And sometimes, since I have a home office, I watch the repeats of Grey’s on Lifetime at 1pm. Yup, I said it. Don’t judge.

    And you know what thought constantly reverberates while watching the older episodes?

    Poor Katherine Heigl.

    Katherine Heigl was Jennifer Lawrence before there was a Jennifer Lawrence. She was womanly, curvy, bubbly and beautiful, doe-eyed, quirky and smart, a strong actress who put craft before looks, and she was imminently likable. She was poised to be the next big thing. America’s Sweetheart with a slight edge – just how we like ‘em.

    The next big TV breakout star that would cross over into film much like predecessors Jennifer Anniston, George Clooney, Will Smith, Michelle Williams, Will Ferrell, Steve Carrell, etc.

    And at first, she played her cards perfectly. Her agents knew how to make her a star. She stayed quiet for a couple years, focusing on her TV work and building her sweet but sexy public persona. She won the Emmy in 2007 for Best Supporting Actress. And then while still on Grey’s, she filmed her breakout film role in Knocked Up, an R-rated comedy that connected with her target demographic but also made her seem cooler than her Grey’s character. And it was a huge hit.

    She followed that up with 27 Dresses, a more down the middle but funny and relatable romcom hit which grossed over $100M. She proved she could open a movie and was now the next big thing. She was on top of the world…right?

    Funny thing happens when you’re on top of the world. There’s only one way left to go.

    It all started with some public rants criticizing her co-stars and the writing staff of the show that won her an Emmy and made her a star. She angered her bosses and the people who put words in her mouth every week and so they turned on her, made her character an unlikable psychotic shrew with brain cancer who broke up marriages and then they wrote her off the show. She started being labeled as “difficult,” which is the only label in Hollywood you can’t shake.

    You can be a drug addict, a whore, a mental case or a talentless hack…but the one thing you can’t be is DIFFICULT. Diva behavior only works until your first failure. And then you’re just a bitch no one wants to work with. And guess what happened?

    Killers, Life as We Know It, One for the Money, and The Big Wedding. Each film a bigger flop than the last. And suddenly, not only was sweet Katie Heigl difficult, but she was box office Kryptonite.

    She tried playing it tough, she tried playing it sweet, she tried making up with Shonda Rhimes in the press. She even adopted an Asian baby.  But none of it worked.  Now, she’s starring in a TV movie and a commercial for a sleep aid.

    And you know who is responsible for this? Her mother. Or should I say, “Momager.”

    Notoriously known throughout Hollywood as being not only a horrible person (and business person) to deal with, but also an awful arbiter of taste, Katherine’s mother Nancy Heigl is the worst kind of parent. The kind who wants all the credit and thinks she knows best in every situation. And instead of listening to her agents or the rest of her team, Katherine fired them all, stuck by her mom, and made her a producing partner. In short, she Heigl’d herself.

    And it’s unfortunate because if you go back to the first 4 seasons of Grey’s, you will see a woman who deserved to be a big star and by all accounts should still be one.

    This doesn’t JUST go for actors, but here are some tips on how to make sure you never Heigl yourself:

    • You are your own brand.  First impressions matter big time. But you’re only as good (and as liked) as your last impression.
    • Never bite the hand that feeds you even if you see a bigger hand waiting with food.
    • Never burn a bridge you don’t know for sure you can rebuild – or that can be rebuilt without you.
    • Your mother should be your MOTHER. Ask her questions, take her suggestions, and then tell her to Fuck Off and listen to the professionals who do this for a living. The only successful Momager is Kris Jenner…and do you really wanna be a Kardashian?
    • Build buzz for your career in positive ways. Be endearing, quirky, and funny.  It’s okay to stick your foot in your mouth, as long as you do it in an adorable way.
    • Strike when the iron is hot, but don’t go too outside your comfort zone/demographic on your first project. Whatever your first hit movie role is, you’re going to have to play in that genre for a couple of years so get used to it and don’t badmouth it. But each role should expand your demographic slightly.
    • After you’ve had 2 or 3 modest to major successes, it’s time to branch out and do something against type to show just how much range you have. A dark indie, an action franchise, host SNL, etc.
    • Keep your fucking mouth shut in the press about any topics not related to whatever you’re promoting. Unless you’re Sean Penn or George Clooney, no one gives a shit what you think about foreign politics.
    • Your PR person is the most important asset you have. If she disagrees with your mother, fire your mother.
    • Surround yourself with people who have better taste than you do.
    • Be nice. Be cordial. Be self-deprecating without seeming too self-conscious. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Learn the crew’s names. Respect the writer.
    • Make it seem like you actually enjoy it and are grateful. We can tell if you’re not.
    • Never get bored. Always be learning. Always be improving.

     

  • Seven Steps to Saving “Smash”

    March 30th, 2013

    By Danny Manus

    I realize I’m in the minority (vast minority according to Nielsen numbers), but I’m a big fan of Smash. Critically loved in its first 2 or 3 episodes, it’s been painful to watch what the network, the creators, and the producers have done to this once-promising show. If ever there was a case of a show that needed a total upheaval but deserved another chance, Smash is it.

    Why do I care? Well, besides being a total TV Whore and producer, I’m a born and raised New Yorker, brought up on musical theater. I sang in choir all through high school and even worked at the local performing arts theater (a theater that launched Hollywood and Broadway stars like Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Dan Domenech).  And I love seeing this world brought to the small screen.

    I also absolutely hate watching good (or potentially great) shows go down without a fight or without the right support, and it seems to be NBC’s M.O. to cut the cord without giving things a real shot (Prime Suspect, Boomtown, Studio 60, Southland, Awake, etc.).

    I was hooked to Smash before the first note was sung. The advertising, the wonderful cast, the promises made of an adult, less sappy version of Glee – I was in! It was exactly what should have worked on NBC at exactly the right time, especially premiering after The Voice.

    And when the pilot of Smash aired, and Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty belted out that big number “Let Me Be Your Star,” I was hooked. And so were millions of others. It was a hit!

    CUT TO: 8 weeks later…it was a flop. Now, I’ve read all the articles are reports of what went wrong. Everyone had a different vision for this show from Spielberg to Creator/Executive Producer/Psycho Bitch Theresa Rebeck to NBC Execs to the cast. No one was on the same page about anything – the tone, look, casting, music, storylines. It was a mess. It became a cheesy drinking-game inducing soap opera.

    But there are plenty of insanely cheesy shows on the air, especially on NBC, and they were doing OK. So it had to be something else. Yes, the character of Ellis was absolutely unwatchably bad as was the actor portraying him (who better hope a soap opera hires him or else he’ll never work again). The “actor” playing Messing’s son was painfully unable to act or emote and you could feel Debra Messing begging for her scenes with him to be over. And the show just didn’t GO anywhere past episode 6. It was stuck.

    And in its second season, despite a cast shakeup, it’s done even WORSE. Unfortunately, a third season is nearly impossible now. Though it hasn’t officially been cancelled, many in the cast (including Messing) have already signed on to other pilots.

    But IF—IF!—NBC was inclined to save one of its potentially more impressive and fun shows (which could make them tons of Glee-style money on the original music it produces), there are 7 things that would need to change to revamp the show and make it a hit.

    1.  The basic concept of the show needs to change. Instead of it being a behind the scenes look at a show as it tries to make it to Broadway, it needs to be about a behind the scenes look at a show that’s ON Broadway! The biggest issue with the series currently is that each episode is horrible repetitive and stale. How many times can ONE show (that isn’t Spiderman) come back from the dead and keep plugging away. It’s gone through 3 directors, 3 lead actresses, 2 lead actors, 2 producers, 2 writers, etc. There is nothing more you do to the show except PUT IT ON BROADWAY and see what happens!

    Plus, with it still in eternal rehearsals of the same 4 boring musical numbers, there’s nothing on the line. There are no stakes. No one has anything except sweat equity and passion invested in the project, except for Anjelica Huston’s ex-husband, whom we don’t care about. If it was playing ON Broadway and there was huge drama behind the scenes, there would always be the ticking clock until they had to go on every night and perform, and those performances would portray the drama going on off stage.  There is so much more drama, hi-jinx and fun to be had with a show that’s playing on Broadway rather than a show that just wants to.  The difference between Smash and Glee is that the characters on Smash are supposed to be professionals – so let them be!

    The alternative to putting ‘Bombshell’ on Broadway immediately? Kill Marilyn. Marilyn was a great set up to the show when it started, but she’s over now. She was over the second Michelle Williams didn’t win the Oscar for My Life With Marilyn. No one gives a shit about Marilyn Monroe except old queens. You’re supposed to be targeting a younger demographic, but they’d rather watch a musical about the life of Minaj than Monroe.

    2.  For the love of God, stop regurgitating the same four ‘Bombshell’ songs in every damn episode. I love “Let Me Be Your Star,” but if I ever hear it again, I’m going to bleed from my ears. Because it’s not just sung in every other episode, it’s also in every single commercial and advertisement – there’s nothing left to love about the song! You’ve killed it. Dead. And the other handful of Marilyn songs we’ve also heard 100 times. I like that producers have created a second show this season to play off of so we get some new music, but now we’re just going to hear those same 3 songs for each of the next 6 episodes. They need to use more popular music like Glee does if you want people to be able to sing along. And if they REALLY wanted to set themselves apart, do what they did in Les Miserables and let the talented actors who are used to singing live, actually sing LIVE! There’s nothing worse than bad lip synching, and Megan Hilty is the only one who seems to have mastered the task. Glee works because every week we get 5-6 new songs. If they kept singing that one damn Journey song every episode, no one would watch that either.

    3.  The Producers need to go watch Noises Off!  The show or the movie. Either one will do. And then they need to work much more comedy into the show. I’m not saying make this a sitcom, but Debra Messing and Christian Borle are fantastic comedy actors and their roles feel SO stifling to their talent. Messing has barely broken a smile since episode 4 and Borle ONLY looks happy when he’s given the chance to sing and dance. In case you forgot, Messing won an Emmy for Best COMEDIC Actress. Let the woman play to her strengths. Which brings up the next point – LET DEBRA MESSING AND CHRISTIAN BORLE SING! Messing has barely done ONE number since the pilot by herself and the woman can sing. Borle has only done a handful – and the man won a Tony! Debra Messing is the star of the show – give her something to sing. And if Anjelica can hold a note, give her a song too.

    4.   No more Stunt Casting unless it’s permanent. It’s wonderful to put names like Jennifer Hudson, Uma Thurman, Jesse L Martin, Sean Hayes, Bernadette Peters, Daniel Sunjata and Joe Jonas in your commercials, but the problem is – putting stars like that in the show make us wish they were the stars of the show. Not only that, but only Uma Thurman and Bernadette Peters had natural entrées and exits to the storylines. The rest were basically forgotten plotlines that went nowhere. Some had nice storylines within the episode (like Sunjata), but then disappeared for no reason other than the show clearly couldn’t pay their salaries for more episodes.

    NBC put Jennifer Hudson on every poster, in every commercial, and featured her song and voice in every Season 2 promo there was. But she had no place in the story or series. She was just there, she sang her songs, and then she was gone. Her character in no way affected any of the others.  And the problem was, she was better than everyone else. I love Hilty with a passion, and McPhee is incredibly talented and sexy, but no one sings like Jennifer Hudson. So either you have stars that outshine your cast coming in for no reason, or you have stars come in that the audience is waiting to hear sing but they never do, like Jesse L. Martin and Joe Jonas. Trust the talents of your cast, or recast.

    5.   Speaking of which, Jeremy Jordan needs to go. Look, I like Jeremy Jordan a lot. In fact, he went to my alma mater Ithaca College and he is a SUPREME singing and dancing talent. He is a Broadway star if I’ve ever heard one and I could listen to him sing all day long and be very happy. But he’s painful to watch on TV. And I’m not sure if it’s because he’s just not ready for the small screen yet (Lea Michele is still figuring out how not to play to the balcony after 4 seasons of Glee), or if it’s because the character the writers have created is so flawed in the worst and most obvious of ways, that it’s incredibly hard to care or connect to him. Not only don’t we want Karen to fall for him, but we don’t even understand how she could. Despite his talent and brief glimmers of feelings, he’s an asshole that bites the hand that feeds him every time it’s offered. And for viewers who watch the show because they dream of being on Broadway, they can’t connect with a character that is being given the shot and decides to piss it away every week. If he doesn’t want it badly enough, then we won’t want it for him. He needs to learn the lesson I teach all my screenwriting students – this ain’t an artist colony, it’s the entertainment business.

    6.   The writers need to create empowered and strong female characters instead of the whiny, overpowered, overwhelmed, lovelorn, confused, slutty, low self-esteemed diva wannabes that currently inhabit the show. I think it’s pretty clear that the original series creator Theresa Rebeck created insecure characters she could relate to. Problem is, everyone hated her – and now they hate her characters. This is a show geared towards women and gay men – yet the female characters are some of the weakest on TV. Messing’s character is an adulterer-turned-basket case who has no direction, no confidence and no self-worth unless her husband, her male writing partner, her male director, or the male script doctor brought in to save her, tells her she’s good.  Anjelica Huston’s character is supposed to be this powerful producer type, but she’s really an emotional former gold-digger who can’t make a decision unless she gets the head nod from her ex-husband, whom she hates yet constantly relies on. And her romance with the mobster bartender was so implausible, it was laughable. Is she high society or just high maintenance? McPhee’s Karen was supposed to be the star-struck ingénue we root for but suddenly, after going through some rehearsals and a quick Boston run in Bombshell, is now the toast of the town and a celebrity who can get a new show going just by snapping her fingers. Plus, she finally gets out of her bad relationship with a cheater, and she jumps into bed with not only her Director (after being so strong to resist him in the first season) but also her new co-star, a drug addict with an anger problem and a chip on his shoulder. If ALL the women in the show have horrible taste in men, they won’t be characters women can look up to.

    7.   Bring back the competition aspect and make this show more like A Chorus Line. The show worked best when Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee’s characters were battling each other, and now they are barely in one scene together per episode. Make us FEEL something as our characters FIGHT for something. Right now, the fight is over. They’re just waiting for things to happen, and that is boring for the audience. Hilty’s back as Marilyn, McPhee’s banging every guy connected to her new show, Huston’s got the show back from her ex-husband, Borle is directing Bombshell and Messing is….there too. But none of them have anything to fight for anymore. Give them something new to fight for and keep the competition aspect going.

    TV shows with truly new concepts that stand out amongst the crowd don’t come around too often, and they certainly don’t come around on NBC too much. This show had everything going for it, but bad producing and lazy writing has destroyed what could have been a solid 4-5 season run. It may be too late now, but if the NBC execs and show producers could wake up, acknowledge they screwed up, and follow the aforementioned steps, they might have one more chance to make Smash live up to its name.

  • Why Ryan Murphy Must Be Stopped

    July 18th, 2011

    By Danny Manus

    I’m a Gleek. There, I said it. I was in my high school’s choir (which got redubbed choir cult our senior year) and I worked at the local community theater.  I was a NY kid, so I was raised seeing (and loving) Broadway shows. And I’m a child of the 80s. So, I get Glee. But there’s an evil force surrounding Glee that must be stopped immediately…and his name is Ryan Murphy.

    When Ryan Murphy creates something, he’s a visionary. He has this twisted yet relatable commercial sensibility to him that connects to pop culture beautifully – most likely because he’s such a fan of pop culture himself. He has this ability to create a WORLD that most of us are aware of already, but take it to this whole other wonderful place…

    But then he seems to lose sight of his vision and get wrapped up in his own self-importance and self-aggrandizing bullshit (or maybe just the gobs of money rolling in), and like the Godzilla of Showrunners attacking his own Japanese City, he ruins the world he creates for the rest of us.

    I’m not saying Ryan Murphy is a bad guy per se…he’s just a really bad multi-tasker and it seems he doesn’t have the heart to truly care about whom he hurts as long as it promotes his own agenda. As soon as Ryan Murphy finds success with one of his projects, he immediately looks for the next big thing to put his name on – and that’s fine – that’s how Hollywood works. But unlike many, when Murphy multi-tasks, he falls incredibly short.

    Case in point. I was a HUGE Nip/Tuck fan. And right before the last season of the show, I got to work as an executive on a movie with Nip/Tuck star Dylan Walsh. We all went out to dinner one night after shooting and I nonchalantly asked him about the show. As any fan will tell you, the first 2 seasons of that show were pure fucking brilliance. The third season was GOOD but started going off the rails, and by season 5 it was almost painfully unwatchable.

    Julian McMahon, the Aussie star of the show, had completely forgotten he was supposed to be affecting an American accent. Joely Richardson had started banging the kid playing her son and likewise forgot that she was supposed to do an American accent and so she disappeared for a whole season (her pronunciation of Chris-chee-ann instead of Christian still haunts my thoughts), and poor Dylan Walsh looked so pissed that he had to read the inane melodramatic drivel given to him that it was pretty hard to watch.

    So, I asked Dylan what happened to Season 5 (the penultimate season) and he basically said that everyone was unhappy and wanted off the show and hated the material, but they couldn’t leave, and that came across on screen.  Even Ryan Murphy himself has said that the last two seasons of Nip/Tuck were awful because he hated the actors and the actors hated him and the writers fucked it up.

    And why? Because once Nip/Tuck took off, and Murphy got some acclaim, he used his stardom to write and direct the feature “Running with Scissors” in 2006 (which he began prepping for in 2004 – after the second season of Nip/Tuck). He took his eye off the ball.

    Jump to 2009 as Glee becomes a ridiculous smash hit and despite a bit of unnecessary soapyness in the writing of the first season, it was FUN and original and smart. And the money, press, fame and accolades came rollin’ in. And once again Murphy used this to transition to a big film with a big star – “Eat Pray Love” with Julia Roberts.

    And what happened? The second season of Glee jumped the shark, got silly and melodramatic and had more disjointed over-the-top storylines (like what happened on Nip/Tuck) and unnecessary tribute episodes that became more Murphy Masturbation than cohesive brilliant storytelling.  

    And now this Glee Machine – which could have run for 7 seasons, will now be cancelled after 4 or 5 (mark my words). Why? Because instead of doing the smart thing and stretching the timeline of high school to keep the show and its stars intact (having each season being HALF a school year instead of a full year for instance or switching it up and fudging the timelines), he’s decided to get rid of most of the main characters of the show after season 3. Chord Overstreet was let go and Lea Michele, Chris Colfer and Cory Monteith (so far) have already been given their walking papers a full season before their departure – which should make shooting this 3rd season NOT awkward at all. Dead Actors Walking…

    But he’s not done. I promise, many other actors are going to get cut from the show and they just don’t know it yet. There’s no way to keep the rest of them and NOT these 3 as they are ALL pretty much the same age. And his idea to keep Matthew Morrison (the weak link of the show) and make him the focal point instead of the kids is a big mistake. And then – just to show his polished and performed actors currently on the show that ANYONE can do their jobs so shut the fuck up and stop complaining – he launches the Glee Project Reality Show to find the show’s new star.

    If I was a star on Glee, this would make me furious. And by the way, if you’ve been watching, half the contestants on the reality show are pretty bad or at least annoying, and it’s pretty clear that they aren’t casting new stars to ADD to the cast – they are casting stars to REPLACE the cast – because they fill the same roles. I get that Glee is about acceptance and becoming who you are – but do we really need a “little person” or ANOTHER bad boy or gay diva or moderately talented big fat chick on the show?

    The reality show has just become a vanity project that lets Murphy get on camera and pronounce in his best gay baritone voice that “kids need to be themselves.” Unless, of course, they disagree with Murphy – then they better get in line and change.

    And now, after the second season of Glee, Eat Pray Love and the Glee Project, Murphy has taken on another show – a new series for FX titled “An American Haunting,” starring Connie Britton, Dermot Mulroney and Jessica Lange.  Now, it sounds like a cool project and yes, I will watch. But someone needs to mind the store. And someone needs to stop Murphy from doing promotions because every time he opens his mouth, he RUINS something we love and makes his actors feel 6 inches tall – which is what he did on Nip/Tuck and it backfired horribly.

    Murphy seems to have the showrunner version of A.D.D. He gets bored with his shows, he gets bored with his actors and he thinks HE is the center of the world and everyone must amuse him at all times. Here’s the thing – I get not caring if you’re known as a dick. Hell, I’ve based a business around it. But you don’t want to be known as The Guy Who Killed a Phenomenon and Ruined Children’s Lives Just Because He’s A Dick. There’s a difference.

    So, in the name of all those Gleeks out there, for all the Nip/Tuck fans out there, and for all the fans of good TV out there – please, someone stop Ryan Murphy before he strikes again.

  • TV Whoredom – Premiere Week Recap: Tuesday

    September 23rd, 2010

    Day Two of Fall TV Premiere Week….and I was all Gleeked out and ready.

    As an addendum to Monday, the trades are all reporting that Lone Star will probably get cancelled after next week…toldja! Now here’s your Tuesday cheat sheet…

    FOX-

    So, Tuesday saw the launch of Fox’s new comedy block, headed by its returning juggernaut GLEE! Now, I have a love-hate relationship with Glee. As a former music theater dork and high school choir cult member, I love the show. I love the music and the singing is great and Jane Lynch is so pitch perfect I could watch her read the phone book. BUT, some of the cast and some of the editing is really bad when it comes to the lip synching! Lea Michele is fantastic, but if she overacted with her face any more, she’d deserve to get slapped. Stop blinking so hard! And she’s already clearly lost about 15 lbs since the first episode, so I’m gonna start to worry pretty soon.  But, the show was great, the singing –especially by Lea and guest star Charice (Jesus Christ, this girl is awesome!) – was great. And it premiered HUGE! So, congrats!

    RAISING HOPE – The trailer for this new comedy was hilarious and the show didn’t really disappoint. It dropped off by almost half from Glee, but still performed better than shows in the timeslot the last couple years. And…it’s really funny! I think this will stick around for 8 episodes before Fox makes a decision, so tune in – you’ll laugh!

    RUNNING WILDE – In the hands of lesser comedic minds than Mitch Hurwitz and Will Arnett (both from Arrested Development), this show would suck. But, Will Arnett is so damn funny and Keri Russell so damn cute that I found myself liking the show. I’m not sure it has enough material to keep going more than one season, but I’ll keep watching to find out. It won’t be for everyone, but I thought it was good enough.

    CBS –

    The return of NCIS and NCIS LA….umm….who cares? I’ve never seen either of these shows as I don’t live in the Midwest and I’m under 50 years old. But they were both down over 20% from last season. How NCIS became the number 1 show on TV…I don’t know. I like Mark Harmon and all, but…it’s as procedural as procedures get. But they are both here to stay for at least 2 more seasons.

    NBC –

    Biggest Loser’s latest season started and as someone who is going to a trainer and been eating right, I really wanted to be inspired…but I was left depressed. (You can check out my Losing Weight in LA Blog on Facebook). But these people couldn’t even walk/run a MILE. I’m not talking sprinting a mile – they couldn’t WALK a mile! 3 of them had to be seen by doctors after collapsing!  Seriously? And everyone had such a fucking sob story to tell – cancer, dead parents and siblings, anorexic children, botched surgeries – why do fat people need a heartbreaking story to get on the show? Isn’t being morbidly obese heartbreaking enough?  Biggest Loser premiered down 7% from last season, but it’s here to stay.

    Parenthood…I didn’t watch it last night because I usually watch it On Demand over the weekend. This show has quickly become a total yawn though. That little Autistic kid needs a good smack and Dax Shephard proves how unwatchable he is week after week. I like Lauren Graham and Peter Krause, but I’m not sure I like them enough to keep watching much longer. I tune in for Allison Pill and Mae Whitman, who I’ve had a crush on for years. It premiered down from last year and doesn’t seem to be getting better, but it will stick around for the season (unless it starts totally tanking).

    ABC –

    Dancing with the Stars had its results show and The Hoff was the first to get the boot…I’m pretty surprised and pissed about this. I thought he’d be around for quite a while actually. I was sure that pudgy black kid or The Situation would be the first to go. Oh well. If casting agents are reading, someone give Hoff’s daughter a show because that girl is f’n gorgeous! I’d watch her dance anyday. Lambada! Anyway, it was still one of the top rated shows of the night, so DWTS is off to a great start.

    Detroit 1-8-7 – This is one of the more controversial new shows and it’s all about the murder rate in Detroit (which is higher than the rate of fat people in Wisconsin).  In the vein of NYPD Blue – and also starring alum James McDaniel – alongside Sopranos star Michael Imperioli, the show was….good. It had some levity, some real dark stuff, and some nice acting. I DO miss NYPD Blue, so if this show can become that – great. I love that they have real CURSING in the show (bleeped out) which works for me because that’s how people actually talk. It premiered OK, strong enough not for execs to freak out yet, but the second and third week will determine its fate. I’m gonna root for this show, at least for a while. Tune in and check it out if you were a fan of the Blue. I give its chances for a full season at about 50/50.

    Okay, that was Tuesday – a slower night than Monday and tonight’s Wednesday night line up is VERY important, so I’ll be back tomorrow walking you through what happened!

  • FALL TV PREMIERE WEEK: Summer Recap & Monday!

    September 22nd, 2010

    It’s that time again! When all the TV whores of the world stop returning phone calls, decline invitations to weekday gatherings, card games and bowling leagues, and ignore their children’s pleas for help with their homework to sit down, get comfy and enjoy the Fall TV Premiere Week.

    And as one of their leaders, I feel it is my responsibility – nay, my God-given duty – to give all the others out there a day-by-day breakdown of the new TV season.

    I know this summer has been rough. Even I started going to the gym on Wednesday and Friday nights because of the lack of anything on television. However, I found quite a few bright spots in TV Land this summer that kept me glued. First, there was Big Brother – which became my nightly addiction. Not only did I watch Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesdays at 8pm, but I went to sleep watching Big Brother After Dark on Showtime most nights at 2am. And I was very happy with the outcome of that show!

    But the real guilty pleasures of mine this summer were TNT’s awesome Monday night combo of The Closer and new favorite show Rizzoli and Isles. I’m a sucker for a hot chick who can kick my ass, and Angie Harmon has been a crush of mine since her Law and Order days. I think it’s because she’s genuinely a nice person and she has really good comic and dramatic timing. Best new show on TV this summer (and better than pretty much any show that premiered on the networks last year!).  Can’t wait until next summer when they are back (though The Closer will have 7 or 8 new episodes starting in December I think). Covert Affairs was OK, and got another season, but was too light for me. Memphis Beat – Sorry, not for me. Ever since Jason Lee became a scientologist, I just don’t find him watchable. But it got renewed for a second season too and will return next summer.

    I’ve also been watching the new season of Weeds and The Big C, though usually catching it at odd times or On Demand.  Mark my words now – Laura Linney wins the Emmy. It’s not even close. And of course, there was Entourage and True Blood. I was all ready to hate True Blood this season as I kinda thought they jumped the shark, but it was still really good. Even though it’s sad what they did to Stephen Moyer’s vamp-hero character, next season should be pretty cool.  If you’re not watching this show, go rent the DVD and give it 4 episodes and you’ll be hooked! Thank me later.

    My other summer addiction/guilty pleasure– and this one I’m not so proud of – is anything Bravo. Yes, that’s right – I don’t have a vagina, but I do watch Bravo. And I don’t just mean the okay-for-men-to-watch Top Chef – which is awesome even though this season was its weakest in years. But no – I don’t stop there.  I love those damn Housewives! And I have a ridiculous crush on Bethenny Frankel, so you can bet I was watching her solo show. Kathy Griffin? Pure Gold. Rachel Zoe, yup – ba-nanas. Flipping Out? You bet I do. It doesn’t matter what it is, I’ll watch it…that’s what makes one a true TV whore.

    Okay, so that was summer…but as the leaves turn, so do the stations…

    Monday night saw the official premiere of a bunch of new shows. Was I excited? You betcha! So, here’s the breakdown by show along with my guesses on how long the show will last. And of course, my recommendation for if it’s worth watching…

    ABC –

    DANCING WITH THE STARS– Brisol Palin, America’s youngest whore hottie, put on some dancing shoes and shook her stuff. But the night belonged to Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey who mentioned Patrick Swayze more times than People Magazine. I’m not saying it was a cheap grab at the emotional vote, but it worked on me. Plus, she was pretty good. Combine that with The Drunken Hoff, Kurt Warner, Vehicular homicide’s own Brandy, Audrina Patridge, and the disgusting excuse for talent known as The Situation, and this season is already ahead of last fall’s season! Obviously this one ain’t going anywhere, so give in and watch it…If you don’t, Sarah Palin will hunt you down and shoot you from her helicopter.

    CASTLE – One of my two favorite new shows from last season (along with The Good Wife) is back and better than ever. While I thought the tension between the two stars was solved too quickly and easily and could have been played out over 2 episodes, I just love Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic and together, they are just good fun! If you’re not watching Castle, you’re missing a great show. It premiered very well, so this one’s here to stay for the season. And by the way…if anyone knows the girl who plays Castle’s gorgeous red-headed daughter…I want to marry her.

    CBS –

    MIKE AND MOLLY – It’s this decade’s version of Roseanne except it starts when Roseanne meets Dan instead of after they are already married with kids. It’s funny and self-deprecating and Melissa McCarthy is so damn likeable. But the whole goal of the show is for these two people to fall in love as they try to lose weight. Chuck Lorre, the CBS God (who was also behind Roseanne) knows what makes fat people funny. And it premiered well enough, so expect this one to stick around the whole season, but second season will depend on if people tune in to watch 2 fat people make out. Without Jillian Michaels yelling at them.

    HAWAII 5-0 – I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch this one (yet) because I find that I have an overwhelming urge to smack Scott Caan in the mouth. But Alex O’Laughlin has had 3 cancelled series in 4 years and he needs one to stick. It premiered VERY nicely in the timeslot and will definitely be around til midseason (too much promotion behind it not to stick for a while), but after that, who knows. Reviews have been great and it seems to be a good show.

    FOX –

    HOUSE – One of my favorite shows despite coming off a largely lackluster season. After Amber and Kutner died, I’m not sure the show didn’t jump the shark. But House is sober, he’s bangin’ Cutty and all is right with the world…right? Well, not really because Olivia Wilde and Jennifer Morrison both left the show leaving the painfully bland Jesse Spencer and the bored-to-still-be-on-the-show Omar Epps. The only bright spot? Peter Jacobson! Plus Hugh Laurie’s always awesome. So, hopefully this season will pull it out!

    LONE STAR – You hear that? That’s the sound of a Fox executive getting fired for thinking this show was a good idea! Not only did it BOMB last night worse than the lowest expectation, but it got the lowest ratings of ANY show on ANY major network. And no, I didn’t watch it, because it looked AWFUL. Here’s an anatomy of a stupid idea for a TV show: A con man (played by a no-name actor) who is two-timing two women – a wife and a girlfriend – and bilking them both out of their family’s money to make his asshole father happy. And all of a sudden, he gets a conscience – and we’re supposed to care!? Did Fox execs REALLY think that in this economic climate, men would want to watch a show about a guy who cheats people out of money in a con man scheme? And that WOMEN would want to watch a show about a guy who is cheating on his wife and girlfriend? And Keith David and Jon Voight are great actors, but neither of them make the top 200 most likeable actors list. This show had NOTHING going for it. I give it ONE more week. Don’t bother tuning in.

    NBC –

    CHUCK – I’ll be honest, I never got into this show. It was brought back from death twice now and looks to be around all season, but unless it posts huge gains (unlikely), this will probably be its last season. I know it’s fun, but opposite DWTS and House, it’s just not good enough to make the must-see list for me.

    THE EVENT – This was one of the biggest, most hyped, most advertised show of the new season. It’s supposed to be the new big serial like Lost or Flashforward (hopefully more like the former than the cancelled after 1 season latter). It’s Jason Ritter (who is likeable enough and I really enjoyed him on the too-short-lived comedy “The Class”), Laura Innes (love her from ER), Blair Underwood (seriously – does EVERY President on TV have to be Black just to make the point that no one is racist?), and the sublime Zeljko Ivanek (from Damages, but I’ve been a fan since the early 90s when he was on Homicide!). It was good – it made me want to watch another week. It’s got a sci-fi twist (sci-fi like Lost) and lots of interesting plot lines and it debuted BIG for NBC – best ratings in the time slot in years. So, with all the money behind this show, it’s here to stay for a while. Tune in and check it out. I’m not TOTALLY hooked yet, but I’ll keep watching until it unhooks me. Or maybe like Lost, I’ll be crying at its series finale 7 years from now.

    CHASE – Seemingly completely procedural action-packed show in the vein of The Fugitive but with a kick ass blond chick doing the hunting and the fighting. Despite the always completely assholic Cole Hauser by her side, Kelli Giddich did a nice job and she’s likeable and easy to watch. I’m not sure it’s got enough steam or originality to last, but I give it 10 episodes until the network pulls it. It did perform better than Trauma and Mercy last season, but not by much and they only got full season pickups because of the Leno debacle. So, now without Leno in the way, NBC has no one to blame but themselves.

    OTHER – How I Met Your Mother and Two & A Half Men (which, now that the kid is bigger than Jon Cryer needs to be retitled 3 Friggin Men) came back on…It’s unreal – Charlie Sheen could literally take a shit on a baby and post the video on YouTube and people would still tune in to watch him knock out cheesy one-liners and swarmy looks at the camera. It had HUGE ratings– biggest show of the night. So since he won’t – I’ll thank the fly-over states for Charlie. Thanks!

    Ok folks, that was just Monday…I’ll be back tomorrow with Tuesday’s wrap up! Stay tuned!

  • The Emmys 2010: Winners, Losers, Upsets and Analysis

    August 31st, 2010

    By Danny Manus

     

    As I said before, the Emmys are like my Christmas…if I wasn’t Jewish. And they are even better now that they are LIVE on the West Coast, which wasn’t the case until 2 years ago. This year, since the show aired on NBC, Jimmy Fallon was the host. And the network was counting on big ratings this year with new popular shows Glee, Modern Family and True Blood up for big awards.

     

    But alas, even the Gleeks couldn’t save the Emmys, which posted basically the same ratings as last year, and even went DOWN 2% in the young demo. After watching the telecast I honestly don’t know what more the show could do to get people to tune in besides fill it with musical numbers – oh wait, they did that. Well perhaps they could get big stars like George Clooney to – oh wait, they did that too.  Hmm…maybe they should have just built a boxing ring and let Conan and Jay go at it. Eh, maybe not. Hey, maybe we can just make Justin Bieber the star of every fucking show on Earth…and then watch me kill myself. Or maybe they should just take out some of the miniseries and TV Movie awards which are so utterly boring – and no one in the targeted demo watches them anyway. And instead, put in more comedy.

     

    The first 90 minutes of the show were possibly the best Emmys I have seen in years. I know some people didn’t like the graphics flashing in the background, and maybe purple wasn’t the BEST color palette choice, but I think it was better than the Oscars bland white design. Besides, this was a big year for gays on TV, and the biggest demo to watch awards shows like the Emmys are the gays, so perhaps purple was the perfect choice.

     

    Speaking of which, I loved Neil Patrick Harris last year and would love to see him again, but Jimmy Fallon did his thing and his musical interludes and opening were fantastic. His ode to the shows that have passed on – 24, Law & Order and Lost – was great. If the second half of the show gave him more to do, perhaps the fun could have lasted. But alas, as soon as HBO started winning things, the air was sucked out of the show like a hoover was attached to the roof. 

     

    But let’s rewind. First up was comedy and Modern Family ruled the night with wins for Best Comedy and Eric Stonestreet (I called it!) for best supporting. While he wasn’t the favorite to win (and personally I would have voted for Ty Burrell), he is a straight man playing lovably flamingly homosexual and he does it so hysterically that he deserved the win. Sorry, Chris Colfer, you’re just as gay but slightly less huggable. But if 3 years from now, you’re still on Glee, I think you’ll win. I say that because next year, it’s Ty Burrell’s to win and the year after it will be Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Much like West Wing, they will award a different star every year til they all have one!

     

    Voters went for Modern Family rather than fellow newcomer and odds-on favorite Glee because, well, Glee isn’t a straight comedy. The only 60 minute dramedy to ever win the award is Ally McBeal, but something tells me Glee will see gold in the next two years.  Jane Lynch did win for her role in Glee (also called it!), and she deserved it! I know Kristin Wiig IS SNL these days and Julie Bowen is fantastic on Modern Fam, but Jane Lynch is just pure comic gold on Glee. Kudos! It was obviously the end of the line for 30 Rock. Partially because voters didn’t want to award NBC anything (they only won ONE for their shows this year), but also because it’s time to bring in the new blood.

     

    Jim Parsons picked up his first trophy for Big Bang (I was right again!). All I can say is thank God Tony Shaloub didn’t win. Sorry, Alec but there’s a new kid in town. Bazinga! And Edie Falco (an upset which I predicted!) picked up an awkward statue for Nurse Jackie, which is even less of a comedy than Glee. Voters just like her and perhaps this will give the show some much-due notoriety and press. But I don’t think she’ll win again.

     

    Then came the reality portion. WOOHOO TOP CHEF! In what was the best season in years (100 times better than the current DC season), Top Chef FINALLY de-throned Amazing Race. The upset was that if a show was going to beat Race, people thought it would be American Idol, but the last 2 seasons of Idol have clearly gone downhill and were the weakest musically and in overall entertainment since Cowell mentally checked out and Paula physically checked out. And I am thrilled that Top Chef took the gold. Can we all agree now that Amazing Race is no longer as interesting or casted as well as it used to be? They just take OTHER reality stars and send them on an all expenses paid trip around the world. BORING.

     

    But the real acting surprises were saved for the Drama category, where I have to say…I was wrong. I was SURE that Julianna Margulies would win for The Good Wife and she had all the momentum, but in her 5th year as star and producer, Kyra Sedgwick got the gold. Now, I LOVE The Closer and she was great last season on it, so I’m actually very happy with this upset. Don’t worry, Julianna, you’ll win it next year!  And I’m pretty sure January Jones’ dress this year will stop her from being nominated again. Same for Lauren Graham – what the hell was she thinking?

     

    But I digress…Bryan Cranston won (3 times in a row now) for his leading role in Breaking Bad, beating out heavy favorite Michael C Hall, who had an incredible season and beat cancer in his spare time. And for me, Hugh Laurie is the biggest continual snub in all of TV other than Bill Maher, who after 12 nominations is still coming up goose eggs. Hugh had an emotionally powerful year, even though the show itself was not up to snuff. And hello – he’s BRITISH and does a pitch perfect accent! At least next year, because of the scheduling of his show, Bryan Cranston won’t be eligible, so it will be up for grabs.

     

    The supporting awards went to 2 first timers – Aaron Paul for Breaking Bad and Archie Panjabi for Good Wife. I am thrilled about Archie’s win – she’s a revelation on that show. And while I don’t watch Breaking Bad, I know Aaron is good. But seriously…how do you not give the award to Terry O’Quinn for playing TWO very different and difficult characters at ONCE on the last season of Lost? Come on, voters! That was disappointing. And perhaps if Martin Short’s wife had died 2 months earlier, he would have gotten the sympathy vote. What, too soon?

     

    And of course Mad Men won the big award…whoopee. Look, I’m sure it’s a great show, and no, I don’t watch it. But I already want to punch Matthew Weiner in the face and his “assistant writer” whom he put up for the Emmy and WON (that lucky bitch isn’t even 30!). I was really disappointed that Lost (in its final season), Good Wife, Dexter and True Blood all lost to an overrated show that no one watches.  Look, I’m a TV whore, but I never said I was a TV snob. Please, let this be the last year it wins.

     

    In other news, Conan didn’t win. But on the upside, neither did NBC. This year’s voting really shined the light on two things – what wonderful shows there are on cable and what hatred the industry has for NBC and those that run it. And after seeing the comedies they have coming up in their new season, I don’t think they will be garnering any more love anytime soon. I’ll cover TV Premiere Week in a couple weeks…stay tuned!

     

    For mini-series and TV Movies…eh…who cares? I didn’t see any of them except “You Don’t Know Jack,” which was OK. The Pacific won, as predicted. Though I could have thought of a better way to spend $200M! In a slight surprise, Temple of Grandine won all the MOW categories. I’m happy for Claire Danes, who deserved it, but could someone tell that retarded lesbian cowboy to please sit down?

     

    Okay, so those were the Emmys. I laughed, I cried, I screamed in frustration. This year, I was 6/7 for comedy (I guessed Glee would win), but the TV Movies and Drama category screwed me. Damn you, AMC! Damn you!!!

     

    Until next time, keep watching! It’s good for you!

  • EMMY’S 2010!! RECAP, PICKS AND SNUBS!

    July 8th, 2010

    By Danny Manus

     

    Many of you know me as a film guy – but in my heart, I’m a total TV whore. I watch everything. I love film, but sometimes I wish I could marry television.  And the Emmys are like my Christmas. So today, the day Emmy nominations were announced, is like Thanksgiving. And there were some fantastic surprises, some unfortunate snubs, and a lot of new (true) blood on the ballots.  So let’s get to it…

     

    First, you can find a complete list of nominees here:

    http://livefeed.hollywoodreporter.com/2010/07/emmy-nominations-announced.html

     

    Let’s talk comedy – I am SO excited for Glee and Modern Family, both nominated for the first time (though it feels like they’ve won before since they have won everything else).  Glee had 19 (!!) nominations including Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison for lead actress/actor and the sublime Jane Lynch for supporting actress. Personally, I feel Morrison is the weak spot of the show, but he was a shoo-in anyway. The big surprise, however, was that Chris Colfer, who plays the effeminate and effective Kurt, got his first nomination! And Mike O’Malley and Kristin Chenoweth were both nom’d for guest actor Emmys (Idina Menzel must be so pissed right now since she and Kristin hate each other!). Mike O’Malley really deserved this, even though all of his scenes were actually dramatic moments in the show.

     

    Rounding out the comedy category is 30 Rock (always hilarious but this season saw its first sign of slippage), Curb Your Enthusiasm (whose Seinfeld finale episodes were beyond funny), The Office (only one more season to go folks), and first time nominee Nurse Jackie. Now, I didn’t immediately take to Nurse Jackie but after watching the whole season in 2 days last month, I’ve become a big fan.  But, for me, it’s Glee or Modern Family’s year.

     

    The big snubs? Big Bang Theory, which is the number one (or two) comedy on TV in the ratings. For me, the other glaring omissions were How I Met Your Mother and Community, which I actually think is funnier than 2 ½ Men and The Office, but that’s just me. Sorry Entourage and Weeds, your time in the sun is over.

     

    The rest of the comedy actress category went as planned – Tina, Julia, Edie, Amy, and Toni. Personally, I think Edie might edge out Lea Michele and Tina this year, but we’ll see. Academy loves Edie!  Snubbed was Courtney Cox on Cougars, though she just plays it too over the top.

     

    The comedy actors with Morrison – Tony Shalhoub (Seriously? Ugh! Thank God it’s his last year), Alec, Steve, Larry David, and Jim Parsons (who, for me, is a mortal lock).  Poor Charlie Sheen was left out this year, as was Two and a Half Men, which I’m okay with and Charlie’s bad press didn’t do him any favors.

     

    All of the actors from Modern Family got supporting noms EXCEPT Ed O’Neill, who many thought would have been a shoo-in for lead actor, but he decided to hold the “ensemble” line – will be interesting to see if he does that again next year.  But he was a major snub!

     

    Other supporting actors include Neil Patrick Harris (sweet Jesus, give him an Emmy!), Jon Cryer, and the aforementioned Colfer (glad he got nominated, but he won’t win). Sorry, Jeremy Piven, you’re a douche. Snubbed were the co-stars of Community, who are just hilarious.

     

    On the actress side, Lynch and Modern Family’s Julie Bowen (LOVE her) and Sofia Vergara (can’t really stand her), will go up against Jane Krakowski (30 Rock), Holland Taylor (2 ½), and the fantastic Kristin Wiig for SNL. Let me just say that I am thrilled that SNL players are finally getting some recognition. It didn’t start to happen until the Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon era, but now it’s commonplace and Kristin, the anchor of the show, deserves it.  For me, snubbed from this category is Jane Adams from Hung, who is so good, and Merritt Wever, who is so fantastic on Nurse Jackie in all her quirky weird glory. It should have been these two instead of Holland and Vergara.

     

    Now, Drama…It must be good to be the Good Wife. In its first season, Good Wife has really stood out. I have to say – I LOVE this show! Definitely my favorite new drama. Good Wife will go up against Breaking Bad, Dexter, Mad Men, the last season of Lost (which I’m kind of rooting for) and True Blood (which I’m also kinda rooting for). I’m torn.  I love 3 of the 6 shows, and with it being Lost’s last year, I kind of hope they win again. Sorry, I don’t watch Breaking Bad. I know it’s good, but my heart goes to Lost and Good Wife. My head says Dexter.  Left out this year was HOUSE, which I love, but this season was under par.

     

    Also left out was Grey’s (which had another subpar season up until the finale episode which was friggin’ awesome), the last seasons of 24 (which sucked) and Law and Order (which would have been nice, but oh well). I thought perhaps S. Epatha Merkerson might pick up one last nod for her big cancer season, but the academy long ago forgot about this show.

     

    On the acting side, I am thrilled that Matthew Fox got another nod for Lost and Kyle Chandler FINALLY got his props for Friday Night Lights. They go up against Bryan Cranston, Michael C. Hall (who will probably win), Hugh Laurie (who deserves it) and Jon Hamm (who I like, but I’m quickly getting tired of).  Snubbed – Timothy Olyphant on Justified, but give him another year. Sorry Kiefer, this year wasn’t worthy. And while I love True Blood, I think Stephen Moyer is the weak link.

     

    For actresses, it’s Julianna Margulies for the win! But she’ll be going up against perennials Glenn Close, Kyra Sedgwick (who I love), Mariska Hargitay (who I really love but this wasn’t as strong a season for her), January Jones, and Connie Britton, who FINALLY also got a nomination. She deserves it! Left out was my choice – Mary McCormack from In Plain Sight, who is just great, but Academy voters probably felt she plays it too comical.  And Anna Paquin! She should have been nom’d over January Jones. Sorry, darlin’!

     

    On supporting, it’s a mixed bag this year. For actors, Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) will tango with Martin Short (Damages) and the men of Lost, Michael Emerson and Terry O’Quinn, who should definitely win (after 6 seasons, he had to play a totally different character!), and Andre Braugher (who I’ve loved for 20 years, but this one’s slightly unearned).  Go Lost! But snubbed from this category was Josh Holloway from Lost, who I think deserved it.

     

    Now supporting actress, for me, is the hardest category in TV this year. So many great performances, and I think the most snubs are in this category. Good Wife’s Archie Panjabi (who is powerful and mysterious) and Christine Baranski will duke it out with Rose Byrne from Damages, Christina Hendricks and Elisabeth Moss from Mad Men, and the surprise – Sharon Gless from Burn Notice. Really?

     

    How about Elizabeth Mitchell on Lost (who DID get a guest actress nom, so that’s better than nothing), Lisa Edelstein who had an amazing season on House, and Katey Sagal who is so sublimely perfect and evil on Sons of Anarchy. Plus, Rutina Wesley and Michelle Forbes were standouts for me on True Blood. I’m sorry, but Baranski, Gless and Hendricks – not sure they deserve it this year.  

     

    A big COCO chant for Conan O’Brien who scored a slew of nominations for his defunct Tonight Show. He was nominated for himself, writing, directing, and the show. And Jay Leno…nada! Good. This was the industry’s way of saying “NBC, you got it wrong.” As if they hadn’t made themselves clear already. Leno hasn’t scored a nomination in years, and this year, Conan even beat out Letterman.  Good on ya! It goes up against Daily Show, Colbert, Bill Maher and SNL. Tough category as all had banner years.

     

    Another big cheer for Betty White, who in her most successful year ever, has scored her 17th (!) nomination for her SNL hosting gig.  Next year, she will probably get one for supporting actress on Hot in Cleveland, mark my words!

     

    Reality went the same as it always does. But let me put in that next year, I think Kat Deeley from So You Think You Can Dance should be nominated- she is fantastic and sweet and funny and does a wonderful job moving that show along. The Amazing Race isn’t THAT amazing and its host does barely anything. On the nonfiction side, this year is Deadliest Catch’s year – how could it not be? Oh wait, it’s up against “Life” narrated by Oprah. Nevermind. The one glaring omission was Survivor: Heroes vs Villains, which was pretty damn awesome and I’m not really a big Survivor fan, but it had me hooked!

     

    On miniseries, it was all about THE PACIFIC, which got 24 noms (the most of any show/movie). I haven’t seen it as I cancelled my HBO (yes, I still watch True Blood and Bill Maher, but that’s about it), but I’m sure it will win.

     

    For all other noms, go check out an actual news source. Haha. As we get closer, I’ll bring you all my picks for this year’s winners (and those who SHOULD win). But for now, keep watching!

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