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fredfa's Avatar fredfa
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09-19-2005 | Posts: 49,069
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As Emmy Buzz Begins to Fade, Talk of a 'Raymond' Spinoff

By JACQUES STEINBERG The New York Times September 20, 2005

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 19 - Fans lamenting the absence of "Everybody Loves Raymond" from this season's prime-time schedule may not be feeling bereft for long.

In an interview after the Emmy Awards here on Sunday, Brad Garrett, who played Raymond's serially unappreciated brother, said that he and the creators of "Raymond" had made substantial progress toward a deal with CBS for a spinoff in which he would star. Mr. Garrett said the show could appear as soon as next fall.

An executive at HBO, which is a producer of "Raymond," said that Mr. Garrett's characterization of the negotiations was accurate and that Phil Rosenthal, co-creator and executive producer of "Raymond," had set a rough deadline of about a week for the parties to reach agreement. The executive would speak only on condition of anonymity, given the sensitivity of the conversations.

Mr. Garrett, who on Sunday won his third Emmy for best supporting actor on "Raymond," said that the cast would include Monica Horan - who played his character's wife, Amy, and is married to Mr. Rosenthal - as well as the actors who played her character's parents, Fred Willard and Georgia Engel, and her brother, Chris Elliott. He said that if an overall deal were reached, Mr. Rosenthal would "run the show" and many of the "Raymond" writers would return.

Chris Ender, senior vice president of communications for CBS, confirmed the network's interest, saying that "Brad is a gifted comedic talent" and that "the potential series would be created by key members of the 'Raymond' writing team." He cautioned, though, that "an agreement has not been finalized." Mr. Rosenthal did not respond to a message left Monday morning at his home.

Among the sticking points is money, though how much separates the various sides was not immediately clear. Just reassembling much of the "Raymond" team could prove costly. The show ended its run ranked No. 10 in the Nielsen ratings, and on Sunday it won the Emmy for best comedy, its second.

Two years ago, the show's sibling rivalry became real when Mr. Garrett boycotted the "Raymond" set for several days to protest the disparity between his salary (then estimated at $150,000 an episode) and that of the program's star, Ray Romano (an estimated $1.5 million an episode). CBS countered by ordering the producers to write Mr. Garrett's character out of that season's first episode.

Ultimately, the two sides settled in time for Mr. Garrett to appear in that first show. Though terms were not disclosed at the time, he was said to have received a raise as well as some percentage of future profits.

Besides whatever ill feelings might still linger, the ownership of "Raymond" is complex, with both HBO and Worldwide Pants, David Letterman's production company, serving as co-producers.

Asked about the premise of the new series, Mr. Garrett said that "they don't want me to get into it: but that his character, Robert - who is forever tussling with Raymond for his parents' affections - would be undergoing "major logistical, geographical changes."

"He will be leaving the state," Mr. Garrett said.

There have been intermittent discussions between the producers and CBS for more than a year. Mr. Garrett said that Mr. Rosenthal had approached him about six months ago with a creative premise for the spinoff, but that intensive discussions had begun only last week.

"There's been some major movement over the last few days, and it's looking promising," Mr. Garrett said. "We're all very close."

If his character returns, Mr. Garrett would hardly be assured of success. Though he can look to "Frasier," the spinoff from "Cheers," as a recent example of a loyal audience embracing a popular character in a new setting, there is also "Joey," the offshoot of "Friends," which lost much of its predecessor's audience on NBC last year.

Mr. Garrett felt comfortable enough with the progress thus far that he joked about it on the Emmy telecast.

As the cast of "Raymond" reunited onstage, Mr. Garrett said, "You know, we should try to be a little funny because there may be a spinoff."

Mr. Romano responded: "Very good, congratulations. Yes, the spinoff. By the way, good luck, and if that does happen and you need the brother to make a guest appearance, I'm more than happy to help you."

After waiting a beat, Mr. Garrett told Mr. Romano: "Yeah. We're going to recast that."
fredfa's Avatar fredfa
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09-19-2005 | Posts: 49,069
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One final Emmys column in honor of Tabasco.

What's love got to do with it?

By Rick Kushman Sacramento Bee TV Columnist

Leave it to the Emmy voters. They will do anything, whatever it takes, to remain out of touch and so very, very lame. They even missed the one sure thing, the most-talked about, photographed, buzzed over and praised show on TV, "Desperate Housewives," for best comedy.

On Sunday night, the 57th annual Primetime Emmy Awards from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles were bizarre as usual. Strange. Unfathomable. Momentarily righteous with awards to Felicity Huffman and Patricia Arquette. Then back to lame.

The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences named ABC's "Lost" the best drama, a slam dunk for almost any other group but a coin-toss with this bunch, then went all sentimental, missing "Desperate Housewives" and giving best comedy to CBS' "Everybody Loves Raymond," which ended a nine-year run this season.

"Raymond" is a terrific show, but it's not "Desperate Housewives," not this year, and it's not "Arrested Development" or "Scrubs," shows that would have made more deserving winners.

But the academy found Huffman, from "Desperate Housewives," and Arquette, from "Medium," as best comedy and drama actresses, two women who had outstanding - and overlooked - years.

Huffman, an enduring class act, was clearly the most stunned winner Sunday night. "I turned into one of those actresses," she said as she stammered around, trying to find the words. Then she thanked people like David Mamet for putting her in his plays, Aaron Sorkin for putting her in "Sports Night," Mark Cherry for putting her in "Housewives" and William H. Macy for marrying her.

Then the academy went back to its repetitive, nothing-too-risky mode. James Spader repeated his best drama actor win for "Boston Legal," although the two real best actors on TV, Ian McShane ("Deadwood") and Hugh Laurie ("House"), were in the field - and how the academy could miss Laurie's brilliance is inexplicable.

Tony Shalhoub won his second Emmy for best comedy actor, and that, at least, is defensible because he carries "Monk," but it still snubbed two terrifically funny guys, Zach Braff from "Scrubs" and Jason Bateman from "Arrested Development."

Sentiment, apparently, also ruled the supporting comedy categories, with "Raymond's" Doris Roberts winning her fourth Emmy and Brad Garrett winning his third.

Garrett showed he's far more contemporary than the academy. "I'd like to dedicate this to Britney and our baby," he said.

William Shatner from "Boston Legal" repeated as best supporting dramatic actor, over the likes of "Lost's" Naveen Andrews and Terry O'Quinn, while Blythe Danner, a longtime Hollywood favorite, won best supporting drama actress instead of CCH Pounder from "The Shield," who was the class of the field by a lot.

The show itself was equally erratic. "Emmy Idol" - a knuckleheaded idea if ever there was one - went predictably flat, though you have to think America was so ready for Donald Trump to jump the shark singing "Green Acres" with Megan Mullally. He was awful, but not awful enough to matter.

The rest were pretty good, but so what, though the Shatner-Frederica von Stade rendition of the "Star Trek" theme was freaky even for the Emmys. But Trump and Mullally won. Apparently the academy was voting.

There were pieces of the show that rose above the academy's general denseness. Ellen DeGeneres' dopey bits in the gaps were adorable, like her standing in line at the bar. "C'mon," she said, "Momma needs her scotch."

And there was the tribute and the cheers for retired network news anchors Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, and for the late Peter Jennings - and Brokaw and Rather's tribute, in turn, to the journalists still covering Hurricane Katrina.

Somewhat ironically, it was a couple of late-night hosts who supplied two of the classiest moments.

David Letterman, one of Johnny Carson's most devoted admirers, paid tribute to the man of "wit, charm and grace" who died in January.

"Johnny gave me and countless others validation, true status in showbiz, and a career," Letterman said. He quoted Carson when Johnny was asked what made him a star. "Johnny said, 'I started out in a gaseous state, and then I cooled.' ... With all due respect to the laws of physics, Johnny Carson's star never cooled."

Then later, when "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" won as best variety, music or comedy series, Stewart came back with his admiration for Letterman.

"I just wanted to say, the way (David Letterman) feels about Johnny Carson," Stewart said, "is the way that all of us, the comedians of our era, feel about him."

By the way, "The Daily Show's" two Emmys (it also got one for writing) came in one of the few areas that was academy-proof; all the nominees were smart and cool.

There are lots of reasons for the academy's voting behavior - they vote for friends, or their networks and studios, or they don't watch much TV so they vote on reputation. Those are just reasons, not excuses.

It seemed that Emmy voters were so regularly off the mark, you weren't exactly sure who was getting chided when "Arrested Development's" creator, Mitchell Hurwitz, won the best comedy writing Emmy and said, "We would be remiss not to mention that twice the academy has rewarded us for something you people won't watch."

He was talking, of course, about the rating problems for his show. But he might as well have been talking about the television academy that watches little TV, even less of it that's new or fresh, then wonders why more and more people are drifting away from network programs.
fredfa's Avatar fredfa
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Stars' O'Hurley, Monaco go toe to toe
By Gary Strauss USA TODAY

Kelly Monaco and John O'Hurley talk as if Tuesday's Dancing with the Stars (ABC, 8:30 ET/PT) dance-off will be one big love fest.

Their training regimens and competitive streaks say otherwise.

"They've been training like lunatics," executive producer Conrad Green says. "They're taking this seriously. They've got something to prove."

Monaco and partner Alec Mazo last faced O'Hurley and Charlotte Jorgensen in the finale of Dancing's six-week summer run, which drew more than 22 million viewers July 6. But Monaco and Mazo's surprise win over the heavily favored O'Hurley and Jorgensen was called into question because of a complex judging system and suspicion the vote was tilted in Monaco's favor because she's in ABC soap General Hospital.

"I feel like I won, but I'm going in as the underdog because the results were disputed," says Monaco, 29. "Until I prove otherwise, that's the situation. This is supposed to be all in fun. I don't want to scratch anyone's eyeballs out. But I'm competitive by nature."

ABC says there was nothing inappropriate about Monaco's win, which was based on a combination of a three-judge panel's ratings of final performances and votes from viewers tabulated from the prior week's show. But heading into the launch of its prime-time fall lineup week, the network hopes the controversy will attract the kind of rematch audience that made Dancing the highest-rated summer series since CBS' Survivor in 2000. Winners will be announced Thursday (8 p.m. ET/PT).

Monaco and Mazo have been training four hours a day; O'Hurley and Jorgensen have been training six hours a day. O'Hurley, who shed 20 pounds training for the show last summer, took up Pilates to boost his strength and flexibility.

"Kelly's a sweetheart. And this is playful competition, but I felt a little ripped off losing to her," says O'Hurley, best known for playing catalog king J. Peterman on Seinfeld.

However fans vote, Dancingwith the Stars has rejuvenated both actors' careers. O'Hurley has a Larry David-style reality show in the works, three movies, a book deal and a Broadway show.

Monaco, prominently featured in September's Maxim magazine, says she's negotiating movie and television deals. "This has catapulted me to another level."

ABC, initially tentative about putting Dancing on its summer schedule despite the show's success in Britain and other countries, plans to bring the show back for a second season in early 2006. It also will add a second weekly "results" show Ã* la American Idol.

Andrea Wong, ABC's alternative-programming chief, says there will be nine celebrity competitors. "It was a challenge to convince (stars) to take a risk for the first season," Wong says. "It has certainly gotten easier."
SVonhof's Avatar SVonhof
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09-20-2005 | Posts: 4,029
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Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

Bush Speech Delays "CSI" Season Debut

If you are waiting for the second season of "CSI", you'll have to wait a week longer.

President Bush will speak to the nation Thursday night at 9 PM ET, and that was when CBS had scheduled a repeat of the two-hour Quentin Tarentino-directed season finale from last May.

Now the network will schedule a pair of CSI repeats to run after the President has finished his remarks and re-run the Tarentino episode Sept. 22nd.

The new season premiere will now be broadcast at 9 PM ET/PT Sept. 29th, a week later than originally scheduled.

For those that wanted to watch the 2 hour season finale from last season again (or the first time in my case) it will be shown Wednesday night (September 21) and the season premiere will be shown at the regular time slot on Thursday night, the 22nd. This is according to TitanTV, Yahoo's channel line-up and other reports I have heard.
fredfa's Avatar fredfa
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CBS altered its schedule to allow it to run CSI run the original premiere date.

Thanks for catching the change, Scott!
fredfa's Avatar fredfa
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Dancers Rev Their Engines for Celebrity 'Dance-Off'

By DEBORAH STARR SEIBEL The New York Times September 20, 2005

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 18 - It's a shame that the four-time world heavyweight boxing champ Evander Holyfield got the hook midway through ABC's surprise summer hit, "Dancing With the Stars." Because Tuesday night's "Dance-Off" special - a rematch between the last two couples standing - looks to be a memorable fight.

"When we were first approached to do this again, I was, like, 'No way, it's not going to happen,' " Kelly Monaco, a star of "General Hospital," said during a break in her rehearsals at a Los Angeles dance studio one day last week. Ms. Monaco, the unlikely champion, began the summer being skewered by the judges, only to end up scoring three perfect 10's in her final freestyle routine with her partner, Alec Mazo, a professional ballroom dancer. "We really can't gain any more and we can only lose our credibility," Ms. Monaco said. "So why would we put ourselves in this position?"

Possibly because more than 25 million fans tuned in the first time to see how Ms. Monaco, a feisty and impressively flexible 29-year-old, would fare against the poise, elegance and surprisingly nimble feet of John O'Hurley, a 48-year-old alumnus of "Seinfeld," and his partner, Charlotte Jorgensen, a ballroom dance pro. Mr. O'Hurley and Ms. Jorgensen were consistently solid and were repeatedly referred to as "the couple to beat" by one of the show's three judges, Carrie Ann Inaba. So there was instant controversy when the team did not prevail.

There were clear mistakes in Ms. Monaco's "perfect" performance. And the results of the audience vote, which counted for 50 percent of the total score, were never revealed.

Fuel for the fire was the fact that as a "General Hospital" soap star, Ms. Monaco was the only contestant who was an ABC employee. And one of the first things she said after winning was that she wanted to "go to Disneyland," which is owned by ABC's parent company. "I can't believe I said that," Ms. Monaco said. "First of all, I was so shocked that I'd won. And the only thing I remembered growing up was watching the Super Bowl. That's what the champions always said at the end."

ABC, scrambling to take advantage of its huge success by developing a second season, suddenly had a problem.

"We did a press tour after the show and the critics pretty much attacked us," Ms. Inaba said in a telephone interview. "The first question was, 'What were you thinking?' And I was shocked. I didn't see it coming."

Ms. Inaba, an actress, dancer and choreographer, has created dance moves for other reality competition shows, including "American Idol." She said the judges didn't play favorites because they weren't privy to the audience vote and therefore couldn't be swayed by popular appeal. And they were not able to view the routines from the eight camera angles available to the public. "I saw the tapes afterwards and was able to see more mistakes than from where we were sitting on the judges' panel," she said. "But that's how it worked for John, as well. Kelly just pulled out more: she just did a phenomenal routine. She took risks that even a professional dancer might not have taken. That's what sent her over the top." She added she didn't think a rematch was necessary.

"I have to say, I was surprised at how angry the press were," said Andrea Wong, the ABC executive vice president for alternative programming, specials and late-night shows. Ms. Wong said that ABC had been toying with the idea of a rematch even before the uproar. "We thought it would be really fun to have them come back and just let the viewers speak," she said. The rematch will be decided by audience vote only.

Ms. Monaco said she was upset over the uproar, particularly since Mr. O'Hurley added his criticism to the mix. "It was extremely insulting, and hearing it come from John was really disappointing because that alleges that in his eyes he didn't think we deserved it. That's what was hurtful."

Mr. O'Hurley said that when he and Ms. Jorgensen saw their competitors score three 10's, they were "floored, simply floored."

"I think I felt like the rug had been pulled from underneath us," he said. "And then people came to me saying it took them 24 hours to get their password verified on so they couldn't vote. That type of stuff. I don't think it was rigged, but it was a bad voting template."

There was also the possibility that Ms. Monaco's built-in soap opera fan-club base gave her an advantage. "That's a bit unfair to Kelly, because she was very appealing on the show," Lynn Leahey, editorial director for Soap Opera Digest and Soap Opera Weekly, said in a telephone interview. Ms. Leahey said she did not see any fan frenzy of organized voting on Ms. Monaco's behalf. "Maybe if it had been Luke and Laura in their heyday, it could've put them over the top," she said.

"Look at the numbers," Ms. Monaco said. "How can you compare 25 million people to my core fan base of 2 million? Does it help? Sure. But they aren't the deciding factor."

Nor, apparently, are the millions of devoted "Seinfeld" fans who could have voted for Mr. O'Hurley.

In their own rehearsals at a West Hollywood dance studio, Mr. O'Hurley and Ms. Jorgensen were pulling out all of their gymnastic stops. The fires of competition were red hot. "If we don't win," Mr. O'Hurley said, "it will be another kick in the gut."

And in her rehearsal hall, Ms. Monaco made it clear she was hoping to deliver that kick. As Pink's "Get the Party Started" reverberated off the dance studio walls, she leapt upward, her legs catching around Mr. Mazo's torso.

"John's not going to be kicking his legs up like that," Mr. Mazo said. Ms. Monaco smiled. "It's the only thing we have up on them," she said. "My incentive now is to prove that people voted for me for a reason."
fredfa's Avatar fredfa
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09-20-2005 | Posts: 49,069
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Comedic gold worth digging for on NBC

By Tim Goodman San Francisco Chronicle Tuesday, September 20, 2005

In the middle of NBC's new sitcom, "My Name Is Earl," when you've recovered from some of the fall's best and biggest laughs and are beginning to draw a bead on how good the show really is -- how star Jason Lee is absolutely perfect, how it echoes "Raising Arizona," a great American comedic film, and how the show already has an assured rhythm to it -- you may begin to get a sense of melancholy.

Because, well, take a step back and look at the schedule. This could be hopeless. NBC really isn't in the sitcom game, people. And it hasn't been for a while, after having the bulk of its schedule from the '80s to the mid-'90s littered with half-hour comedies.

And, not to put too fine a point on the mess NBC is in, but -- "Joey" and "Will & Grace" air Thursdays. You might make a pretty good argument that there are no comedies on Thursdays either.

"My Name Is Earl," the fall's funniest sitcom, airs Tuesday and is followed by the surprisingly scrappy, loyal-to-the-original and barely-seen "The Office." That's a series that aired all of six episodes last year -- hardly a known quantity to viewers. Reality schlock "The Biggest Loser" leads into these comedies, relentless downer "Law & Order: SVU" leads out.

Oh, and Tuesday from 9 to 10 p.m. is one of the biggest battlefields on network television. Recipe for failure? This might as well be a post mortem, not a review.

It's more than a little depressing that NBC has stuck these series out on an island. The network had the guts and vision both to make "My Name Is Earl" and keep "The Office." The former features a lovable loser and, though America does love those types, he might be more of a loser than people are used to, and there are no laugh tracks in "Earl" to help out Pavlovian audiences. The latter series deftly conveys the painful embarrassment comedy so artfully mastered in the British version and also lacks a laugh track -- not to mention being filled with awkward silences and taking as its subject matter a grindingly boring workplace.

But if you're going to take risks, why not give them a fighting chance to pay off? The best that can be said about the scheduling of "My Name Is Earl" and "The Office" is that the network will have lower expectations and thus be less panicked when they tank.

Thinking positively, here's hoping these shows find an audience fast. In a season when the sitcom is back, "My Name Is Earl" leads the pack. Lee ("Almost Famous," "The Incredibles") seems so fully realized as slacker Earl Hickey that it's almost scary. Earl is a scruffy, beer-in-the-morning kind of guy with little ambition in life but mischief and petty thievery. He's not the sharpest knife in the drawer and gets himself married to a woman six months pregnant. Things get worse after that. But Earl rolls with it, either channeling some lazy strain of Zen or perhaps thinking it's all too much trouble to undo.

Tapping into the vein of "Raising Arizona" and clearly enjoying the premise that creator Greg Garcia has laid out for him, Lee is convivial as no-class trash whose life of malice-free meanness and unaccountability suddenly changes when he wins the lottery ($100,000 -- enough to change a life, but not fix it) then promptly gets hit by a car.

Watching Carson Daly while drugged up in the hospital, Earl comes to understand the concept of karma, though he thinks Daly invented it (one of many inspired ideas from Garcia in this pilot). Determined to do good things for others so that those good things will be revisited upon him, Earl makes a list. A long list. Of all the bad things he's done in his past. And he sets out to right them.

Yes, things go sideways.

Garcia has built a series with big, ridiculous laughs. Side characters are rich and layered within the first episode and he has promised not to get roped into a series of episodes where Earl effortlessly whittles down his list. Earl will fail, Garcia said, and sometimes bad things he does will have to be added to the list. What we've got here, essentially, is a dim-bulb, belatedly big-hearted Sisyphus.

The problem will be finding Earl on the island NBC has dumped him on. But if you care about good sitcoms, this is a hunt worth making and a TiVo "season pass" worth adding.

Once there, since all the other networks are showing dramas and you just missed the first half of them, stay for "The Office," a comedy that, taken in context with "Earl," really makes you believe that NBC is committed to the idea of returning to comedy powerhouse status. (Better to put these series on Thursday night, where people still remember NBC being a destination channel. "Joey" is going nowhere creatively and "Will & Grace" is already played out. A forward-looking rebuild should have started here.)

For all intents and purposes "The Office" is like a new series, but now it has the added benefit of former "Daily Show" funnyman Steve Carrell coming off the summer movie hit, "The 40 Year-Old Virgin."

Whereas in last year's shortened season it was impossible not to compare him -- unfavorably -- to Ricky Gervais, whose deftly nuanced performance in the original could never be equaled, now Carrell has the benefit of distance and his own rising stardom.

If it drives people to "The Office," all the better. Because, judging it on its own, fully removed from the British version, you have to respect the daring approach of the series: to make mind-numbingly boring work situations and a clueless, oafish, inefficient boss seem hilarious.

Never mind that so many Americans might be excused for thinking "The Office" is a documentary. Or that the pacing and camera work are all purposefully off what viewers are accustomed to. What's truly brave is the comedy itself, which borrows a little bit of Dilbert and a whole lot of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" as it celebrates awkward interpersonal relationships with no hint of escape.

Carrell is cringe-worthy as Michael Scott, manager of a paper products office in Scranton, Pa. He thinks he's funny -- everybody else loathes his lameness. But he's the boss and it's a joyless job, so you go along to get along, startled daily by Michael's inability to lead, his lack of political correctness and general cluelessness about people and their feelings.

All of this is being caught on camera by a documentary film crew -- that intrusive lens only makes things more awkward.

Receptionist Pam (Jenna Fischer) and salesman Jim (John Krasinski) are still in denial about their feelings, and delusionally self-important Dwight (Rainn Wilson) remains as annoyingly meddlesome and prone to sucking up as ever.

Good times!

These comedies won't be for everybody, but each adds immeasurably to a formerly weak network-wide lineup of sitcoms. The only hard part now is overcoming all the obstacles to enjoying them that NBC has put up in front of you.
fredfa's Avatar fredfa
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Comeback Won't Be Back

Both entertainment trade papers Variety and The Hollywood Reporter are reporting the HBO Lisa Kudrow series The Comeback: has been cancelled by HBO.

The series, about a former sitcom star who was trying to revive her career, was generally panned by the critics. Its first episode received a very weak (by HBO series standards) 1.5 million viewers and the audience seemed to dwindle away during the season. By the finale, just 920,000 tuned in.
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In NBC lineup, scruffy 'Earl' holds promise

By Sid Smith Chicago Tribune arts critic September 20, 2005

"I'm that guy you see going into the convenience store," Earl warns us in narrating the opening moments of "My Name Is Earl".

"You know," he adds, "the shifty-looking fellow who buys a pack of smokes, a couple of Lotto scratchers and a tall boy at 10 in the morning. The kind of guy you wait to let come out before you and your family go in."

In fact, Earl is actor Jason Lee ("Chasing Amy," "Almost Famous"), scruffy, sporting unkempt hair and a threatening 5 o'clock shadow. He's not an unredeemable derelict, despite his looks and warning that he'll steal "anything not nailed down." He's a husband and father, thanks to a one-night stand courtship and Las Vegas instant wedding, where he was too intoxicated to notice that bride Joy was already six months pregnant.

Intent on progeny of his own, he named the next child Earl Jr., surprised yet again when this new baby turned out to be clearly African-American.

"People ask me how I can stay with a cheatin' wife and two terrible kids that aren't mine," Earl notes. "I guess I just believe in the sanctity of marriage."

But "Earl" only begins as a mix of "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Raising Arizona" and "Tobacco Road." One of Earl's lottery tickets pays off big-time. The larcenous but kind-hearted hayseed decides to atone for his sins and repay fate or whoever's responsible for his good fortune.

So, each week, in the manner of the old '50s chestnut "The Millionaire," Earl plans to track down those he has wronged and heap good deeds upon him, her or them. His first beneficiary is Kenny (Gregg Binkley), an acquaintance from high school that Earl and his buddies used to beat up for being gay.

Now, Earl, the devout heterosexual and back-woods philanthropist, will help the still-closeted Kenny come out and embrace his lifestyle.

Farfetched? Absolutely. Aping the manic nonsense of "Scrubs" and "Arrested Development"? All the way. But "My Name Is Earl" is cheeky, inventive and often bewitching in a TV season that so far is short on novelty and daring.

True, the gambit of the opener is shopworn and out of touch with small-town gay life today. And the likable Lee, so convincing as a smug, loquacious urbanite, at times seems miscast as a folksy, neighborly rube, uttering threats such as, "I know where your mama parks your house."

But the setup holds much promise, and creator Greg Garcia provides plentiful, unexpected laughs in the premiere. Earl and his two help-mates form a kind of postmodern Mod Squad, including dimwitted brother Randy (Ethan Suplee) and Catalina (Nadine Velasquez), maid at the motel Earl moves into -- right after Joy kicks him out of their trailer.
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Nip/Tuck' to cut deeper

By Ann Oldenburg, USA TODAY

As if there's not enough sex appeal in FX's edgy plastic-surgery drama Nip/Tuck, a new doctor is about to muscle in on the practice of Christian Troy (Julian McMahon) and Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh).

He's played by Bruno Campos, once one of People magazine's "sexiest men alive."

In Season 3, which begins tonight (10 ET/PT), creator Ryan Murphy says, viewers should expect the show to be "bigger" all around: "Everything has expanded. The cast is bigger, surgeries are bigger, locations are bigger." Making appearances this season will be Rhona Mitra (Boston Legal) and Anne Heche.

"With success comes growth," Murphy says.

Nip/Tuck has grown in two years into one of FX's biggest success stories and a pop-culture darling as well as a lightning rod for controversy. The show won the 2005 Golden Globe award for best drama, just as TV Guide was dubbing it "The Coolest Show on TV." The Season 2 finale was the most-watched single episode of a series ever for FX, with 5.3 million viewers.

Nip/Tuck pushes the envelope with its daring and graphic surgery scenes and story lines, including a transsexual life coach who was sleeping with her son.

Last week, Parents Television Council president Brent Bozell sent a letter to Howard Stringer, CEO of Sony, admonishing the corporate giant for sponsoring the premiere episode and calling Nip/Tuck "one of the most sexually explicit, profane and violent programs in the history of American television."

Murphy points out that there is only an average of 32 seconds of surgery in every hour-long episode, and this season will continue the show's message. "What this show says is that real change happens internally, that maybe you should book a consultation with a shrink instead of a plastic surgeon."

He added Campos, playing Dr. Quentin Costa, because every show needs an enemy. "I feel like every season is only as good as the adversary," Murphy says. "On 24, the adversary can be a nuclear bomb. Our adversary has to be a person."

Last season, it was Famke Janssen as Ava Moore, transsexual therapist. This year, Murphy says, it's the new doctor, who will bother both Sean and Christian as he reflects a side of each of them. "He's a better womanizer than Christian and a better doctor than Sean."

For Brazilian-born Campos, 31, it's a big break. "I was scouted for this arts school for young kids in Toronto. I was 8. I was a quiet, to-himself kind of boy. I won this little art competition.

"When I was there, there were a lot of girls in the theater class down the hall. It was my first encounter with these exciting girls. I wanted to go to do scenes with them. Now I'm doing hard-core Nip/Tuck."

The other adversary this season is The Carver, the mysterious masked maimer who ended Season 2 with a cliffhanger as he or she was about to slice Dr. Troy.

Once The Carver was introduced, there was a bump in ratings, so Murphy will play that mystery up this season. The cast members are so intrigued that each one has seen Murphy privately to find out. But he won't tell anybody; viewers will find out who it is in "the last shot of the last show this year," he says.

"We take the ride, just like someone who watches the show takes the ride," says John Hensley, 27, who plays Matt, the 18-year-old biological son of Dr. Troy who grew up as Dr. McNamara's son. "We live the show script by script."
fredfa's Avatar fredfa
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Monday's network prime-time ratings - and Marc Berman's analysis of the first night of the 2005-2006 network prime time TV season --have posted near the top of Latest News the first item in this thread.
fredfa's Avatar fredfa
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CBS survives without 'Raymond'
Down just 13 percent versus last year's debut night of the biggest questions about the broadcast season heading into premiere week was how CBS would fare on Monday nights without longtime comedy anchor Everybody Loves Raymond.

After one night, the not surprising answer is not as well as last year but perhaps better than CBS had anticipated against tougher than usual competition.

CBS averaged a 4.9 rating among viewers 18-49 last night, according to Nielsen overnights, a 13 percent decrease versus the 5.6 it averaged last season for its Monday premieres.

That came opposite the much-hyped Hurricane Katrina relief benefit on ABC's Monday Night Football, which started at 7:30 p.m. and averaged a very strong 6.2 for the entire night. ESPN also had Katrina-themed coverage.

CBS needed Two and a Half Men to do well if it has any hope of staying strong on Monday, and it did.
Men posted a 5.2 overnight rating last night, down just 5 percent compared to a 5.5 overnight rating for last season's premiere, and down 12 percent from the 5.9 Raymond premiered with in that slot last year.

Men was also down 5 percent versus the 5.5 rating it averaged last season, and down 9 percent from what Raymond' averaged in that timeslot last season. In all, not a bad dropoff.

CBS's two-hour comedy block was as a weaker lead in for its hit drama CSI: Miami, whose premiere averaged a 6.5 overnight rating, down 18 percent versus a 7.9 overnight rating for last season's premiere and down about 3 percent from last season's 6.7 average rating.

Perhaps the night's biggest disappointment was a so-so debut for the much-hyped new comedy How I Met Your Mother at 8:30 p.m. Though it bettered its lead-in, it only averaged a 3.6, behind the debut of NBC's new drama Surface.

ABC led the night among 18-49s with a 6.2 average rating and a 15 share. CBS finished second at 4.9/12, NBC third at 4.2/10, Fox fourth at 2.7/7, UPN fifth at 1.5/4 and the WB sixth at 1.3/3.

At 8 p.m. ABC led with a 6.4 average for its coverage of the NFL game between the New York Giants and the New Orleans Saints. NBC was second with a 3.7 average for Surface and CBS third with a 3.5 average for premieres of the comedies The King of Queens (3.4) and Mother (3.6).

Fox's Arrested Development and Kitchen Confidential debuted to a disappointing 2.0 apiece.

With the Giants-Saints game switching in most markets to ESPN for the game between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins, ABC led again at 9 p.m. with a 6.5 average rating. CBS was second with a 4.8 average for Men (5.2) and Out of Practice (4.4) and NBC third with a 4.6 average for the season premiere of Las Vegas. Fox's Prison Break averaged a 3.8.

CBS took the lead at 10 p.m. with its 6.5 average for the CSI: Miami premiere. ABC was second with a 5.8 average for MNF and NBC third with a 4.4 average for the season premiere of Medium.

Among households, ABC led the night with a 10.6 average rating and a 16 share. CBS finished second at 9.5/14, NBC third at 7.8/12, Fox fourth at 4.0/6, the WB fifth at 3.1/5 and UPN sixth at 2.6/4.
Alan Gordon's Avatar Alan Gordon
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Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

Murdoch's Station Break
Fox Station Group may sell small-market outlets

By John M. Higgins -- Broadcasting & Cable, 9/19/2005

Station owner Raycom cut a deal to sell to Liberty Corp. for $877 million, or around 12 times operating cash flow.

I live in a market with TWO major network affiliates (not counting PBS or a (sorta) UPN), the NBC station (the number one station in my market) is owned by Liberty Corp., and the local FOX affiliate is owned by Raycom Media. By local NBC affiliate didn't say anything about this, but the FOX affiliate had it on their webpage, but they made it out like Raycom bought Liberty Corp.?!

fredfa's Avatar fredfa
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This fall, Tuesdays are Fox's to lose
With 'House' a hit, much will ride on 'Bones'

By Toni Fitzgerald

Everyone knows that come January and the return of American Idol, Fox will dominate Tuesday nights. But this fall Fox may well dominate Tuesdays even before Idol's return.

Credit will go to the returning "House" and the new "Bones."

House became a big hit at 9 p.m. last year, leading out of the reality show, and last week it debuted to strong numbers, with the promise of providing Fox a major boost for the night this fall.

Citing shows like "House," many buyers have been predicting a winning fall for the network. And a strong fall would give Fox a huge advantage heading into first quarter.

Last year, with a far weaker Tuesday, it was in fourth place for the night and in fourth place in overall ratings going into January.

Against minimal competition last week, the return of House, paired with the premiere of Bones, averaged a 4.9 in 18-49s, more than enough to win the night. If those numbers hold, the two shows could well own the night into January.

As for the other Big Three networks, they're making some very risky Tuesday moves in anticipation of Fox's first quarter dominance, and how they fare will depend on how their new shows fare.

CBS could finish second on the strength of its gaining NCIS and the returning Amazing Race. Last year it tied for NBC for second with a 3.7 average on Tuesdays.

Its new 10 p.m. drama Close to Home, from Jerry Bruckheimer, hasn't excited media buyers, but it may improve on former timeslot occupant Judging Amy's low 18-49 average.

NBC has the riskiest hour of the night at 9, one that could pull it into second or drop it to fourth. Much will depend on its My Name Is Earl, which debuts tonight.

Media buying agency Carat USA is so impressed by the new show that it's predicting that NBC will finish first among 18-49s on the night.

But others have their doubts. "Earl" is a sophisticated comedy much like Scrubs, which occupied the timeslot last season and averaged just a 3.1. NBC has struggled in the 9 p.m. hour since Frasier left in 2004. The night was not helped by The Office, which aired a 9:30 and averaged only a 1.9.

This fall "The Office" follows "Earl," and at least one researcher thinks it's a poor match.

Whatever resulted in these comedies making the cut, they don't seem at all compatible with one another, and seems to be a sign of weak comedy development at NBC, writes Magna Global USA's Steve Sternberg in his preseason preview.

Another bad sign: 8 p.m.'s Biggest Loser premiere was down 23 percent last week from last year's 4.3 average. The 10 p.m. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit should easily win its timeslot and could make up for the night's earlier miscues.

ABC has the night's most extensive revamp. At 8 it's pairing According to Jim, which averaged a 3.9 last year at 9, with second-year sitcom Rodney. The pair could finish second in the timeslot behind Bones.

But the female-focused Commander has received mixed reviews at 9 p.m. Carat predicts it will be ABC's biggest new hit. Other media buyers, pointing to House's continued strength, say it could fail big time.

At 10 p.m., Boston Legal relocates from Sunday. Though ABC calls the show a hit, it was losing a good portion of Desperate Housewives' lead-in, and it won't have that padding here.

ABC could well finish fourth again on Tuesdays after averaging a 3.3 last season.

The WB is in great shape with Gilmore Girls stronger than ever and last week's Supernatural holding more than 80 percent of its lead-in audience.

UPN has all but given up on Tuesday it seems, scheduling America's Next Top Model repeats and the Melrose Place wannabe Sex, Love and Secrets" at 9 p.m., which Media Life readers tabbed as one of the new shows with the least potential.
Alan Gordon's Avatar Alan Gordon
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Originally Posted by keenan View Post

I was especially happy to see the two above win. Arquette was fantastic all season long with a role that must have been very difficult to pull off and be close to being believable. That particular episode of House was an instant classic IMO and I believe it will stand up well years from now, truly a cut above.

Agreed! I only got to see the first two episodes of "Medium", but I thought PA did great at it!

I meant to try and watch "House", but I work late on Tuesday nights and taped "Scrubs", but after I got my HD-TiVo, I set a "Season Pass" for "House", and a repeat of that episode is the first episode I got to see of the show.

Alan Gordon's Avatar Alan Gordon
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Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

I share your feeling about "Raymond". What a shameful waste of a vote for the various winners from that show.

Yes, they did nine seasons, and a number of them were pretty good TV, but to give the awards this year would have been laughable if it weren't so foolish.

"Raymond" was a GREAT show (a classic for sure), and while I can certainly understand why they got the awards this year, I do feel that this last season wasn't that spectacular. I probably would have given the OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES award to Peter Boyle, but then given the OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES to Jessica Walters.

Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

edit: I would have picked Hugh Laurie for best actor in a drama, but Spader would have ranked fifth on my list.

Hugh Laurie would have gotten my pick for sure, but then I don't watch "Boston Legal", and William Shatner's win over Naveen Andrews and Terry O'Quinn surprised me, as did Felicity Huffman's win.

fredfa's Avatar fredfa
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House Gets Additions

Variety is reporting that Fox has ordered two more episodes of House. That would bring this season's total order to 24 episodes of the Tuesday night drama.

(Of course that also means there still will be 28 weeks without an original "House" when other networks and cable competitors will be able to freely poach the "House" viewers.)
slocko's Avatar slocko
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if it wasn't for this thread, i would never give some of these shows a chance. heck, i wouldn't even know what was coming and when they started.

sunday night i sat on my couch with my laptop on the first page of this thread setting up my season passes. I guess when you Tivo you need to get your information on the internet on what shows are coming, cause you skip all the ads for new shows.

By the way, Prison Break and Surface are keepers so far. I love the pace of Prison Break. I think Fox has a hit with that one.
fredfa's Avatar fredfa
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'My Name is Earl,' urbane cornpone
NBC sitcom only looks dumb. That's by design

By Steven Rosen

On first description, My Name Is Earl sounds like an attempt by NBC to dumb down its heritage of classy, urbane sitcoms and improve its sagging ratings in the rural and conservative red states. Looks can deceive. This is a show so subversively, so outrageously cool that Larry David would appreciate it.

Jason Lee plays a blue-collar yahoo who drives a beat-up El Camino and steals from cars at convenience stores. He has a hot and trashy blonde ex-wife and a drunken and loutish brother who gets chased by cops a lot. When Earl's not doing time himself, he's scheming for a buck.

But this is not Hee Haw with a plot. Nor is it a hick version of the blue-collar According to Jim. Maybe it's best thought of as a post-Seinfeld, post-modernist version of Dukes of Hazzard. Creator Greg Garcia's show is hip and irreverent, sophisticated even when its characters do dumb things, and slyly winking at an audience bright enough to get its references and be intrigued by its stylishly cinematic production values.

In short, it's another intelligent NBC comedy -- only in disguise. And that makes this brave, clever attempt to shake up the staid world of sitcoms both praiseworthy and risky. This is a major departure from the network's stale world of big-city-singles shows, yet its zippy aesthetic can be appreciated by those very educated singles who identified with Friends or Seinfeld.

Its problem may be that it's so offbeat that it may have trouble connecting with the demographic most inclined to get its humor. In that regard, it may have a problem similar to the one facing the equally hip and offbeat NBC sitcom that follows it on Tuesdays, The Office.

But then again, maybe not. Unlike the dry, droll Office, Earl has an earthy, sexy, sometimes-foul-mouthed natural exuberance that is winning to anyone who sees it. It also has a terrific actor in Lee, a one-time professional skateboarder who has made a name for himself in films like Vanilla Sky and Heartbreakers as a weirdly friendly sidekick who may or may not be smarter than he looks.

In Earl, he accomplishes being both shifty and sincere. His Earl is a reprobate but also a teddy bear with his thick mustache, messy shock of hair and bright engaging smile. He's not exactly harmless but appears likely to hurt himself as much as anyone else. And proving a good foil for him is Ethan Suplee as his fast-drinking, slow-witted brother, Randy.

The opening episode is about Earl finding karma, an indication of how hip the show really is. No sitcom going after a hardcore NASCAR audience would base its first episode around a Buddhist concept about seeking balance in life.

He discovers karma by watching Carson Daly discuss the concept on TV. He then decides to right all his past wrongs and gain positive karmic standing by becoming kind-hearted. He is helped on his road to recovery by winning $100,000 in a scratch-game lottery. This somehow leads to Earl attempting to make up to a timid former childhood nemesis by sending him an ugly hooker as a gift. Complications ensue.

There's a goofball, put-on aspect that those familiar with indie films like Bottle Rocket, Opposite of Sex or American Splendor will recognize. It also has the cinematic structure of such fashionably edgy movies with its fragmented narrative, deadpan narration and an active camera that whooshes and slides in and out of flashbacks faster than Earl can rev his El Camino.

One might detect in Earl a satire on the quasi-religious do-gooder TV series like Highway to Heaven, Touched by an Angel and Amy Grant's new Three Wishes (also on NBC). But if that's the genesis, so to speak, of the show, it's not the point of it. The point is just to have a good time, but to be very smart and original about achieving it.
fredfa's Avatar fredfa
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Thanks, slocko.

I am glad you are using this thread the way it was meant to be used.

And I am even happier if it has let you find some new shows you might have overlooked!

I'll get the Thursday, Friday, and Sunday premieres up soon -- probably later today
fredfa's Avatar fredfa
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Handicapping this season's shows

By Mark McGuire Albany Times Union

"Sons & Daughters" is a smart, inventive ABC comedy slated to debut at mid-season. Critics, as they say, are raving about the partially improvised comedy; many have said it's among the best pilots they've screened this year.

Which may mean it's dead before it even airs.

"I feel like I should be starting a 'Save this show' campaign now," Manuel Mendoza of The Dallas Morning News said to me. In July.

If television critics had their way, "EZ Streets" would be entering its 10th season, "Arrested Development" would be the most-watched show on television, and "According to Jim" would be a distant memory.

Sometimes critical and commercial success mesh, as with "Desperate Housewives," "Lost" or even "The Sopranos." But more often than not, critics bestow praise on shows because of their original or idiosyncratic qualities -- the very elements that make them long shots in the ratings game.

A multitude of factors contribute to the creation of a hit. Quality is one, but it's often less important than time slot, network, genre and good marketing.

I usually review shows based on what I like or dislike, and why. For a change-up, let's handicap the first-year network shows based on which ones have the best chance of commercial success or failure, regardless of quality:


Hit: "Close to Home" (10 p.m. Tuesdays). A crime drama about a female prosecutor who returns to work after becoming a mom; it's a smart procedural that will draw men and women.

Miss: "Ghost Whisperer" (8 p.m. Fridays). Anybody remember Jennifer Love Hewitt's last series, "Time of Your Life" (1999)? "Whisperer" is a bad show in a bad time slot.

Wait and See: "Threshold" (9 p.m. Fridays). With three serialized sci-fi dramas debuting this fall, will this be the one to catch on?


Hit: "Invasion" (10 p.m. Wednesdays). Another of the sci-fi dramas, and maybe the best. For a show like this, you can't do better than following "Lost."

Miss: "Freddie" (8:30 p.m. Wednesdays). There are worse comedies out there, but not many. The appealing Freddie Prinze Jr. is not enough here.

Wait and See: "Commander In Chief" (9 p.m. Tuesdays). The Geena Davis-as-president drama is in a tough time slot.


Hit: "Three Wishes" (9 p.m. Fridays). This feel-good reality show starring Amy Grant is perfect on what's often a tough night for luring viewers.

Miss: "Inconceivable" (10 p.m. Fridays). A fair drama in an awful time slot.

Wait and See: "My Name is Earl" (9 p.m. Tuesdays). Reminiscent of "Arrested Development." Will anyone besides critics watch?


Hit: "The War at Home" (8:30 p.m. Sundays). In the classic mold of a dysfunctional Fox family.

Miss: "Reunion" (9 p.m. Thursdays). Intriguing concept, but this serialized drama doesn't deliver the goods.

Wait and See: "Prison Break" (9 p.m. Mondays). Loved the pilot, but -- again -- is there enough time in the week for viewers to catch every episode, a must under the serialized format?

The WB

Hit: "Twins" (8:30 p.m. Fridays) As a comedy it's only middling, but it fits perfectly into the network's Friday night block.

Miss: "Related" (9 p.m. Wednesdays) There are a lot of changes to this show that seems to be cast and shot on the fly.

Wait and See: "Just Legal" (9 p.m. Mondays) Don Johnson does not fit into the WB star mold, but his series is pretty good.


Hit: "Everybody Hates Chris" (8 p.m. Thursdays). The comedy conceived, inspired and narrated by Chris Rock may be the best show of the season.

Miss: "Sex, Love & Secrets" (9 p.m. Tuesdays). Generic youthful soap that may catch fire or, more likely, crash and burn in one of the most competitive time slots on television.

Wait and See: "Love, Inc." (9:30 p.m. Thursdays). See: "Related."
Alan Gordon's Avatar Alan Gordon
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Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

Hit: "Close to Home" (10 p.m. Tuesdays). A crime drama about a female prosecutor who returns to work after becoming a mom; it's a smart procedural that will draw men and women.

DANG!! I meant to set this to tape!

HDTVChallenged's Avatar HDTVChallenged
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Originally Posted by Alan Gordon View Post

Hugh Laurie would have gotten my pick for sure, but then I don't watch "Boston Legal",

Well initially Hugh would be my pick too ... OTOH, Spader takes "over-the-top" to sublimely new levels on "BL." Some of the Spader/Shatner bits had me laughing hystericaly ... I was just starting to really look forward to BL, when it got pulled for Grey's A. OTOH, perhaps Shatner and Spader were nominated in the wrong catagories

CooCoo for CoCo-puffs!
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An interesting take on tonight's prime time schedule. (Note: all times are ET/ PT.)
What Shows To Watch?
(You'll Be Channel-Hopping All Night Long)

By Walt Belcher Tampa Tribune

Put the remote control into overdrive tonight. We have a dance-off, three season finales and the return of "Nip/Tuck," "Boston Legal," "The Office," "NCIS," "Law & Order: SVU" and "America's Next Top Model."

Kelly Monaco and John O'Hurley square off at 8:30 tonight in a 90-minute rematch of the two favorites from ABC's summer hit "Dancing With the Stars."

It's a two-parter: They compete tonight; viewers vote and the winner will be crowned on Thursday night.

"General Hospital" star Monaco won the summer series in an upset over O'Hurley, who appeared to be an audience favorite. Monaco has her fans, too. Dancing skills may not mean as much as O'Hurley's hammy charm or Monaco's sexy outfits and good looks.

FINALES TONIGHT: CBS' "Big Brother 6" picks a winner at 9. Hurricane Katrina made this pitiful reality show about bickering, ego-driven fools who share a house seem all the more meaningless.

UPN's "R U the Girl" also names a winner at 9. This one had singers T-Boz and Chilli, of the group TLC, trying to pick a singer to make them a trio again. Original group member Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes was killed in a car accident in 2002. (It follows the return at 8 of "America's Next Top Model." )

CBS' "Rock Star: INXS" ends at 10. This competition finds a singer for '80s rock band INXS. The band's original lead singer, Michael Hutchence, died under mysterious circumstances in 1997.

L&O EMOTIONAL: NBC's "Law & Order: SVU" returns at 10 with a mission to win Emmys for its leads. Look for darker and more emotional stories this season. Detective Stabler (Chris Meloni) is headed for a major meltdown.

CBS' "NCIS" picks up on the cliffhanger season-two finale, in which Special Agent Caitlin Todd (Sasha Alexander) was gunned down. Alexander wanted to leave, and they really sent her off. She's back at 8 tonight for a guest appearance.

Lauren Holly joins the cast as the new NCIS director, a former lover of Agent Gibbs (Mark Harmon).

NBC LAUGHS: A new season of "The Office" at 9:30 follows the highly touted "My Name Is Earl" (see story, BayLife-1). This remake of a British hit struggled to find an audience last season. NBC is hoping people will discover it. Steve Carell, who scored at the box office this summer in "The 40 Year-Old Virgin," plays the world's most insensitive boss.

NIPPING & TUCKING: The kinky, freaky "Nip/Tuck" returns to FX at 10 in all its gory detail. In the final moments of last season's season finale, the psycho known as "The Carver" was about to attack Miami plastic surgeon and woman chaser Christian Troy (Julian McMahon). Tonight's opening will give viewers a scare and a shock -- for a few minutes.

However, the really gross moments come during the graphic removal of some leaking breast implants. An extremely obese woman whose skin has bonded to the couch she has been sitting on for three years is also encountered.

This season, Troy's physician pal Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) will have a fling with the wife (Anne Heche) of a mob boss who asks Sean to alter her looks.
fredfa's Avatar fredfa
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An Emmy moment for Peter Jennings
'ABC World News Tonight' wins three awards
By Heidi Dawley

One night after former news anchors Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw and the late Peter Jennings were honored at the primetime Emmy Awards, they received similar kudos at the News and Documentary Emmy Awards last night.

CBS's Rather, who retired last spring, received a lifetime achievement award and NBC's Brokaw, who left in December 2004, was honored for NBC Nightly News' coverage of President Reagan's funeral.

But Jennings' ABC World News Tonight was the biggest winner. It collected three awards, the most for any nightly newscast. Two of them were for the international stories the former foreign correspondent was best known for.

It was Peter Jennings' legacy to cover foreign news as aggressively as possible, and he forced us and his competition to do that for years, said World News executive producer Jonathan Banner.

While Jennings, who died last month from lung cancer, received sentimental attention, Rather's tributes were more pointed.

He spent the earlier part of the night excoriating newsrooms across the country for what he termed a climate of fear during an appearance at Fordham University Law School. He complained that politicians are applying pressure to the big companies that own the broadcasters, resulting in softer reporting. He also ridiculed cable news.

Rather was forced out from the CBS anchor chair after last year's botched 60 Minutes II report on President Bush's National Guard service. He has insisted that the report was right, and last night several of those who paid tribute to him agreed.

Nightline's Ted Koppel praised Rather and gave a slap at CBS for not standing behind him. Harvard's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy senior fellow Marvin Kalb said he thinks the Bush story was correct.

PBS had the night's biggest showing, winning six awards, one each for DNA, Frontline, National Geographic Specials, Nature, American Experience and Wide Angle.

ABC, CBS and NBC all won four awards. Cable news was led by HBO with three and Discovery Channel, Discovery Times and Cinemax winning two each.

Winners of the News & Documentary Emmy Awards:

ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings: Battle of Fallujah (ABC)

ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings: Hidden War: Genocide in Darfur (ABC)

CBS News Sunday Morning: Net Gain (CBS)

The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather: The Enron Tapes (CBS)

ABC News Nightline: Anatomy of Beslan (ABC)

CBS News 60 Minutes: The Murder of Emmett Till (CBS)

CBS News 60 Minutes II: Garden of Eden (CBS)

Dateline NBC: Children for Sale (NBC)

NBC News Special: The Death and Funeral of Ronald Wilson Reagan (NBC)

Wide Angle: Ladies First (PBS)

FRONTLINE: The Secret History of the Credit Card (PBS)

DOCday: In Rwanda We Say...The Family That Does Not Speak Dies (Sundance Channel)

Reporters at War (Discovery Times Channel)

Dateline NBC: Bin Laden's Brother (NBC)

Cinemax Reel Life: Bus 174 (CINEMAX)

DNA: The Human Race (PBS)

ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings: Iraq: Where Things Stand (ABC)

Dateline NBC: Children for Sale (NBC)

America Undercover: My Flesh and Blood (HBO)

Nature: Pale Male (PBS)

National Geographic Specials: Arlington: Field of Honor (PBS)
American Experience: The Fight (PBS)

ABC News Productions/Discovery Times: Declassified: Nixon in China Discovery Times Channel
Decisions that Shook the World: LBJ Discovery Channel

Cinemax Reel Life: Balseros (Cinemax)

America Undercover: Capturing the Friedmans (HBO)
America Undercover: My Flesh and Blood (HBO)

Virtual History: The Secret Plot to Kill Hitler (Discovery Channel)

National Geographic ULTIMATE EXPLORER: On Thin Ice (MSNBC)

Ten Days to D-Day (History Channel)

WABC Eyewitness News at 11pm: Chopper 4 Crash


WCAU NBC 10 News at 11pm: Dirty Little Secret

Associate Press Television News (United Kingdom): Beslan

Netherlands Public Broadcasting (The Netherlands): Return to Beslan
Keenan's Avatar Keenan
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Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

Comeback Won't Be Back

There is hope for HBO afterall...
Keenan's Avatar Keenan
01:14 PM Liked: 442
post #5157 of 25503
09-20-2005 | Posts: 28,490
Joined: Aug 2003
Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

Nip/Tuck' to cut deeper

I just got done watching the first 2 seasons of this on DVD, and it's a great show, very stylish with a very sharp edge(pun intended). Watched it upconverted to 1080i on a 73" display and it looked great, when oh when, is FX going to go HD?!?!
fredfa's Avatar fredfa
02:17 PM Liked: 50
post #5158 of 25503
09-20-2005 | Posts: 49,069
Joined: Oct 2002
My Name Is Earl
Will karma smile on NBC's 'My Name Is Earl'?
By David Zurawik Baltimore Sun Television Critic September 20, 2005

Remember when NBC used to be known for its sophisticated sitcoms - savvy series like Seinfeld and Friends?

Well, hold tight to that memory, because NBC's reputation for comedy may never be the same after tonight's debut of My Name Is Earl.
The show stars Jason Lee in the title role as a lowlife, petty criminal who suddenly gets religion (of a sort) when he discovers a TV version of karma. With it, NBC, which last season plummeted to fourth place among the networks, seems to be struggling to attract the young men of Spike TV - and, perhaps, the women of the NASCAR circuit.

The series' premise is succinctly delivered in voiceover by Earl at the very start of the pilot: "You know that guy you see at the convenience store, sort of a shifty-lookin' fella who buys a pack of smokes, a couple of Lotto scratchers and a 'tall boy' at 10 in the morning - the kind of guy you wait to come out before you and your family go in? Well, that guy is me ... "

Earl has been doing bad things most of his life: Breaking into cars, robbing houses, beating up weaker men, regularly getting drunk, routinely disparaging members of minority groups - in general, living like a poster boy for rude and crude behavior.

But one day, Earl wins $100,000 playing scratch-off lottery, only to be hit by a car and lose the ticket on the way home. While lying in the hospital with a morphine drip in his arm, he sees and hears NBC late-night host Carson Daly attributing his success to the principle of karma, which is simplified to a bromide: "Do good things and good things will happen."

Earl immediately believes that he lost the Lotto ticket because of his nasty ways and sets out to make amends. He begins by listing wrongs he will try to right: "Burned down a barn at camp. Stole a cooler with a donated kidney in it. Stole a car from a one-legged girl. Peed in a cop car. Replaced Sheridan Lang's birth control pills with Tic-Tacs. Beat up Joy's nitpicking Internet friend. ..."

Joy (Jamie Pressly) is Earl's ex-wife and the target of endless sexist jokes. Earl's efforts to right his wrongs as delineated by his list structures the series.

The pilot features Earl trying to help a gay former classmate whom he once tormented. The portrayal of this man as weak and frightened and the notion that he needs Earl's help to fashion a meaningful life is simply offensive.

My Name Is Earl is not a stupid sitcom - that is what makes its sexist and homophobic jokes so maddening. The sitcom cleverly depicts Earl as a Capra-esque everyman who has seen the error of his ways and is trying to do good in his own bumbling manner. One criticizes the character at the risk of being called elitist.

But there is an implied superiority - even a sneer - beneath Earl's populist veneer. Viewers aren't encouraged to laugh at Earl, as much as they are with him - at the people on his list.

That might just be a formula for success in these mean-spirited TV times.
fredfa's Avatar fredfa
03:06 PM Liked: 50
post #5159 of 25503
09-20-2005 | Posts: 49,069
Joined: Oct 2002
True beauty of 'Nip/Tuck' is how it fleshes out deviant extremes

By Matthew Gilbert Boston Globe September 20, 2005

Spoiler alert: This review reveals plot twists.

FX's ''Nip/Tuck," which is back for its third season tonight at 10, remains gorgeously slick. Every element of every frame of the Miami-set drama has been exquisitely composed -- the savvy camera angles, the silvery lighting, the hyper-modern interior design. Even the meticulously plucked eyebrows of Julian McMahon's Dr. Christian Troy. They all come together to form an eerily beautiful TV atmosphere, one that's as coolly futuristic as the show's plots.

And more important, ''Nip/Tuck" also remains gorgeously sick, which is exactly how fans like it.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
About the morally complex lives of two cosmetic surgeons, ''Nip/Tuck" returns with as much bold boundary-pushing as ever. It's not just that Christian and Dr. Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) will operate tonight to detach an obese woman from a couch she hasn't left for three years. And it's not just that Christian asks for Kimber's hand in marriage after watching the porn star's new movie; or that young Matt McNamara (John Hensley) is obsessed with life coach Ava without knowing she's transgender. It's that all of these extreme situations occur at the same time. The drama on ''Nip/Tuck" is heightened enough to make you dizzy, and happily so.

The series has become a ratings hit for FX (last season's finale drew a whopping 5.2 million viewers) which may be why FX has not asked creator Ryan Murphy to tone down the material. Conventionality and safety would destroy ''Nip/Tuck," which thrives on its outrageousness, particularly in the sexual arena. The basic-cable show goes places even pay-cable products avoid, even if it doesn't feature explicit nudity. Last season, Sean made love to a life-size doll, and Sean and Christian formed two sides of a sexual triangle. This season, when a new doctor joins the practice (played by Bruno Campos), more eye-widening sexual twists are clearly in store, since he promises to have his own unusual tastes. Also, Matt discovers some uncomfortable truths about his own preferences, and pursues them next week with the show's trademark intensity.

Beginning last season and stretching into this one, ''Nip/Tuck" has taken on a murder-mystery plot as the psychopathic Carver continues to attack victims and slice up their faces. Tonight, Christian is recovering from a Carver attack that has left him not only physically injured but -- true to the show's weightiness -- deeply spiritually scarred. It's a familiar whodunit crime twist, but one made resonant by the writers, who clearly play the Carver's knife-wielding against that of the surgeons'.
The makers of ''Nip/Tuck" never keep it simple, which is simply excellent.
fredfa's Avatar fredfa
03:07 PM Liked: 50
post #5160 of 25503
09-20-2005 | Posts: 49,069
Joined: Oct 2002
My Name Is`Earl
A trailer-park hero shows a ton of heart

By Matthew Gilbert Boston Globe September 20, 2005

If you follow TV buzz, because it certainly follows you, you might already be a little burnt out on ''My Name Is Earl." It's the latest comedy the critics have been lavishing with advance praise all summer -- you know, the next ''Arrested Development" that you absolutely must watch or be doomed to a life of shame, despair, and aesthetic inferiority.

But if any sitcom can overcome your resistance to excessive hype, it will be ''My Name Is Earl," which premieres tonight at 9 on Channel 7. The NBC sitcom is so unpretentious and original, it will probably win you over on its own sweet merits. Like its hero, Jason Lee's Earl, it is askew, funny, scruffy, and unexpectedly touching. Interestingly, ''Earl" takes place worlds away from more familiar NBC urban sitcoms such as ''Friends" and ''Will & Grace," set instead in the heart of American trailer-park culture. If there's coffee involved here, it's served with Cremora and not steamed milk.

Lee, with a doltish mustache, is instantly likable as Earl, who narrates the show (which is made with no laugh track). You take one look at this guy, and you can tell his clothes smell like stale beer and crab cakes. Earl is a two-bit crook whose profound mellow borders on mental disability. One day he wins $100,000 in the lottery, then gets in a car accident and loses the ticket. On morphine in the hospital, he sees Carson Daly on TV (on NBC, natch) talking about karma -- ''You do good things, and good things happen to you" -- and he decides to change. And so Earl embarks on a journey to right all his wrongs, which range from littering to stealing trick-or-treat candy from kids.

Tonight's episode is filmed like a little indie movie -- it's being compared by some to ''Raising Arizona" -- with offbeat camera angles and comic edits. And it features vivid secondary characters who add to the eccentric vibe. Joy (Jaime Pressley) is Earl's soon-to-be-ex wife, a shrill opportunist who takes advantage of Earl's pronounced naivete. One drunken night six years ago, the two met and married -- but she conveniently forgot to tell him she was pregnant at the time. Earl's brother, Randy (Ethan Suplee), is a lump who lives on Earl's couch. And Sonny is a local dodo-brain who plays an ongoing game of beer-can tag with Earl. ''I know where your mama parks your house," Earl yells playfully at him.

The ''Earl" gang is loosely descended from the Clampetts of ''The Beverly Hillbillies," with Earl as Jed. We laugh at their stupidity and lack of sophistication, but then the show also makes them lovable and, in Earl's case, noble. Earl is a pickup-truck slacker who has been profoundly enlightened by a late-night TV host. Yeah, that's not the height of intelligence. But then he's wise enough to see the benefits of becoming a giving person, and so he's pursuing it in his unique way. Tonight, for his first act of penitence, he tracks down a guy he bullied as a kid, hoping to do him a favor. The resolution is slightly sentimental, but it's nonetheless hard to resist. When ''My Name Is Earl" does sentimental, after all, it still smells a little trashy.

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