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post #31471 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 11:45 AM
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Critic's Review
'Castle' (ABC)
By Alan Sepinwall, Newark Star-Ledger - March 9, 2009

"Are you here to annoy me?" NYPD cop Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) wearily asks her unofficial new partner, mystery novelist Rick Castle.

"I'm here for the story," Castle (Nathan Fillion) tells her.

Castle first hooks up with Beckett to solve a trio of murders based on his books, then decides to use her as inspiration for a new series of novels. As a man in his profession might be, he's obsessed with finding a good story. Time and time again through the two episodes of ABC's new mystery series "Castle" that I've seen, Castle complains that Kate's latest theory of the crime doesn't make for an interesting story, or is pleased when a new development makes the story more interesting for him.

Yet "Castle" the show doesn't seem all that interested in finding the most interesting, or unique, ways to tell its stories. It's an amalgamation of a half-dozen other crime shows (at a minimum) and, at times, is so packed with cliches that my wife (watching the pilot alongside me) began reciting Stana Katic's dialogue five seconds in advance with uncanny accuracy. At one point, after Castle complained that a solution came too easily, my wife and were in stereo as they declared, "This isn't one of your books, Castle!"

(A TV critic's marriage occasionally leads to scenes like this, I suppose.)

Not that we were exactly unhappy watching it. "Castle," for all its predictability -- and its unfortunately timed resemblance to hits like "The Mentalist" -- isn't without its charms, chief among them Nathan Fillion.

Like "The Mentalist," and NBC's "Life," and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "Castle" deals with an overgrown adolescent male who's an outsider in the law-enforcement community, but who has an uncanny knack for noticing clues the more traditional detectives miss. And like the characters on all those shows, he has a straight-laced female partner who alternates between being annoyed at her partner's lack of manners and non-linear thinking, and being impressed at what he picked up on while she thought he was just goofing around.

There are differences, but they're a matter of degree, not kind. Like Simon Baker's character on "The Mentalist," Castle has the ability to make huge deductive leaps based on his observation of small details -- in tonight's pilot episode, he diagnoses a man with terminal cancer entirely on seeing the man stand near a recent photo of himself -- but the show doesn't make that into its visual signature. (Fillion's not much on squinting.) Castle is rich and friends with the mayor, and therefore has resources the average cops don't, but he's not quite as rich as Damian Lewis on "Life." Where the other shows of this type keep the male/female partnership largely or entirely platonic, Castle makes clear from the start that he'd like nothing better than to get into his partner's pantsuit, while Beckett -- a closet fan of Castle's books -- frequently has to stifle her own attraction to the big, obnoxious lug.

That kind of love/hate relationship (see also "Cheers," "Moonlighting," "Cupid," even "Bones" to an extent) only works if the two co-stars have chemistry together, and Fillion and Katic certainly have that.

After the space Western "Firefly" and auto-racing thriller "Drive," this is Fillion's third shot as a series lead, in addition to supporting work on shows like "Desperate Housewives" and "Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place." Playing Rick Castle doesn't allow him to show off much of the rugged, Steve McQueen-style machismo that made him so appealing in some previous roles, but it makes up for that by focusing on his comic chops and breezy charm. Castle is so deliberately juvenile and irritating that the show would be unwatchable with a lot of actors in the role, but Fillion's so amusing, and endearing, that you can see why even Beckett likes him, much as she doesn't want to admit it.

It also helps that the writers have surrounded him with a pair of good family foils: Susan Sullivan from "Dharma & Greg" as Castle's boozy actress mom (who is herself borrowed from many other shows, most recently Jessica Walter on "90210") and Molly Quinn as the level-headed teen daughter Castle raised while writing his books. They humanize him, and show how much of the way he behaves around Beckett is an act to get a rise out of her.

Katic has the more thankless role, as the actress in this scenario inevitably does, but the necessary sparks fly when she and Fillion are on screen together swapping barbs, and hopefully as time goes on, she'll get more to do than play kindergarten teacher to Castle. How much you like the series will depend almost entirely on how you enjoy watching these two spar; for me, that was enough.

One recurring element of the series has Castle in a poker game with real-life best-sellers James Patterson and Stephen J. Cannnell. Before he turned to books, Cannell used to make shows exactly like this one -- not deep or groundbreaking, but reliable, well-cast entertainment.

From what little we see/hear of Castle's writing, he's not a great artist, but a good mover of product. He writes series where the characters have names like Derek Storm and Nikki Heat, and even he seems to recognize that his audience reads them as comfort food. So maybe it's appropriate that "Castle" feels like so many other current series. It's the sort of show that Castle himself might have written if Cannell ever helped him break into the TV business.

"Castle" (Tonight at 10 p.m. on Channel 7) A best-selling mystery novelist (Nathan Fillion) is recruited by the NYPD to solve a series of murders based on his books in a new series co-starring Stana Katic.

http://www.nj.com/entertainment/tv/i...ll_on_tv.htmll
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post #31472 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 11:50 AM
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Nielsen Overnights
CBS, ABC split Sunday victories;
"Desperate Housewives" is tops

From Hal Boedeker's Orlando Sentinel 'TV Guy' Blog - March 9, 2009

ABC's "Desperate Housewives" attracted the most viewers Sunday night, but it was a close race for Wisteria Lane.

CBS had the most viewers in prime time and edged Disney-owned ABC. But ABC was the clear favorite in the 18-to-49 age group. CBS outpaced NBC and Fox for second in that count.

"Desperate Housewives" was another memorable showcase for Emmy-winner Felicity Huffman, who as Lynette had a memorable fight with her husband. "DH" averaged 13.5 million viewers. At 9, CBS' "Cold Case" was close behind with 12.6 million. NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice" pulled in 7.6 million and dispatched Scott Hamilton. Fox's "Family Guy" amused 7.2 million, and the audience slipped to 5.3 million for "American Dad."

In other time slots ... At 7 p.m., CBS' "60 Minutes" was the clear winner with 13.1 million. "America's Funniest Homes Videos" was a distant second with 7 million.

At 8, CBS' "Amazing Race" amazed 10.2 million. "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" pulled 9.4 million to ABC.

At 10, "Brothers & Sisters" was the favorite with 10.5 million. (Patricia Wettig and Sally Field were in top form a very dramatic hour.) CBS' "Unit" enlisted 9.4 million.

For the night, CBS averaged 11.3 million in prime time. ABC was second with 10.1 million. Here's how other broadcasters fared: NBC with 6.1 million, Fox with 4.8 million and The CW with 822,000.

http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/ent...s-is-tops.html
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post #31473 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 12:02 PM
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Critic's Notes
Crime Solvers With Chemistry, Waiting (and Waiting)
for Sparks to Ignite

By Felicia R. Lee, The New York Times

The minute the two get together in the room, we know where this is going. Or not.

“You’ve got quite a rap sheet for a best-selling author,” Detective Kate Beckett says, slapping a thick file on the table. She mentions dropped charges for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Richard Castle, the author, fires back: “What can I say? The mayor’s a fan. But if it makes you feel any better, I’d be happy to let you spank me.”

In “Castle,” a new drama having its premiere on Monday night on ABC, Castle (Nathan Fillion) is a flirty, famous crime novelist who is paired with Beckett (Stana Katic), a no-nonsense New York City Police Department type, to nab a killer whose crimes are based on scenes from Castle’s books. It’s the newest twist on a television recipe that was popularized in the 1980s by the hit detective show “Moonlighting”: an oil-and-water male-female duo crack cases amid dollops of unresolved sexual tension — let’s call it UST for short — and witty banter. They complement each other professionally but resist the attraction for various reasons.

This formula has plenty of company on television these days. The crime drama “Bones,” on Fox, has a by-the-book anthropologist helping her loosey-goosey F.B.I. agent partner solve homicides. The police procedural “Life,” on NBC, has a serene, Zen-practicing Los Angeles detective helping his tense, moody partner solve homicides. “The Mentalist,” on CBS, has a self-confessed fraud of a former television psychic helping his by-the-book partner solve homicides, too.

And “Lie to Me,” a new Fox drama, features subtle hints of attraction between the lead scientist and his more intuitive (and married) psychologist partner, who belong to a team of deception experts.

Beginning on Saturday on BBC America, the series “Ashes to Ashes” has the politically insensitive Chief Inspector Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) and the psychological profiler Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes), who was transported from 2008, desiring and resenting each other in a police precinct in 1981 London.

“The holy grail in TV, especially in detective shows, is man-woman pairings,” said Gary Glasberg, the co-executive producer of “The Mentalist,” which had an impressive ratings debut in September and regularly appears in Nielsen’s Top 10. It pairs Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) with Senior Agent Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) at the California Bureau of Investigation. She’s earnest, he’s cocky, and they need each other professionally and possibly personally as well.

“When you can get that kind of chemistry between people, you can access a coveted female demographic that isn’t otherwise interested in detective shows,” Mr. Glasberg said, pointing to “Moonlighting.” “That’s the one everyone is trying to duplicate.”

But is duplication a creative cop-out? “There are no new stories, there are only new characters,” said Andrew Marlowe, an executive producer of “Castle.” “We have really new characters.”

UST works as a storytelling device because it allows character development in plot-driven shows, writers and producers said.

“Moonlighting,” broadcast on ABC from 1985 to 1989, created sparks between Bruce Willis, as David Addison, and Cybill Shepherd, as Maddie Hayes, detectives at the Blue Moon Detective Agency. The series itself owed something to “Remington Steele,” an NBC show that ran from 1982 to 1987. In that story line Laura Holt (Stephanie Zimbalist) was a private detective who used Remington Steele (Pierce Brosnan), a former con man, to play her fictitious — and playful — male boss to fool the public back in those more sexist times.

Science fiction was injected into the mix with “The X Files,” on Fox from 1993 to 2002. F.B.I. agents Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) investigated paranormal phenomena and resisted normal attraction for many seasons.

Kevin Reilly, president of entertainment at Fox, called UST “an age-old drama tool” that adds character and spice to procedurals. One challenge is to calibrate the chemistry so that viewers don’t get too much or too little romance, he said, even as some fans root for a clean break, a wedding or a tryst.

“The audience has an unwritten pact with these shows,” Mr. Reilly said. “It’s not too close and not too far. Drama is tension, and, ultimately, this is about tension.”

“Bones,” which began in 2005, might be the current reigning champion for stretching out that tension. Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and her partner, F.B.I. Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz), examine dead bodies for clues and verbally pick at each other.

But just as in real life, a television relationship has to keep moving or die, said Hart Hanson, the creator and an executive producer of “Bones.” Brennan and Booth kissed a little longer than necessary under the mistletoe in December, and Mr. Hanson promises that eventually they “will be naked, in bed, and sex will be involved.”

Still, Mr. Hanson said, “Once you remove that unresolved sexual tension, what do you replace it with?”

In “Moonlighting” the detectives eventually had sex, but Maddie married someone else (though the marriage was annulled). By the end of “The X Files” Scully and Mulder were a couple.

Glenn Gordon Caron, the creator of “Moonlighting” who also worked on “Remington Steele,” said television executives keep putting men and women together and then pushing them apart because “they’re chasing something they know works.”

“On some level,” he added, “either in our fantasy lives or in our real lives, we work with people we’re attracted to.”

With “Moonlighting,” he said, he just wanted to see actors and a story he liked. But Mr. Caron, who is also the creator and executive producer of the NBC drama “Medium” (about a married, crime-solving psychic), graciously gave the credit for plumbing UST in a drama to another writer.

“It’s all derived from ‘The Taming of the Shrew,’ ” he said. “There are two people who hate each other but are meant to be together.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/07/ar...ref=television
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post #31474 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 12:11 PM
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TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
Monday Network Prime-Time Programming Options

(Reminder: If you are recording these programs, check your network listings for precise start/end times. For PBS, please double check your local listings.)

ABC:
8:00pm Dancing With the Stars (season 8 premiere, 2 hours) HD
10:02pm Castle (series premiere) HD

CBS:
8:00pm The Big Bang Theory HD
8:30pm How I Met Your Mother HD
9:00pm Two and a Half Men HD
9:31pm Rules of Engagement HD
10:00pm CSI: Miami HD

NBC:
8:00pm Chuck HD
9:00pm Heroes HD
10:00pm Medium HD

Fox:
8:00pm House HD
9:00pm 24 HD

The CW:
8:00pm Gossip Girl (R) HD
9:00pm One Tree Hill (R) HD

MNT:
8:00pm Masters of Illusion HD
9:00pm Magic's Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed (R) HD

http://pifeedback.com/eve/forums/a/t...62/m/862109391
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post #31475 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 03:13 PM
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The Business of Television
Canada rejects cutback on U.S. series buys
CRTC looking at homegrown TV expenditures
By Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter - March 9, 2009

TORONTO -- The Canadian government has rejected a proposal by the country's TV regulator to curb domestic broadcasters' spending on U.S. series.

Federal Heritage Minister James Moore said Monday that Ottawa should not impose conditions or quotas on how Canadian broadcasters buy U.S. programming.

"(Canadian) broadcasters have their own business model," Moore said. "They keep their business models going forward as best they can. Far be it for me to second-guess how to run a broadcast network and programming."

His comments follow a CRTC proposal to use upcoming license renewal hearings to consider whether expenditures on homegrown TV shows should match those for American fare.

Domestic broadcasters contend that they require the profits generated by airing U.S. series to subsidize the production of expensive homegrown dramas. Canadian indie producers, unions and guilds favor the CRTC's proposal for a so-called 1:1 ratio on Canadian and non-Canadian program expenditures as a welcome measure to promote homegrown series production.

Moore said his job is to encourage the production of homegrown programming, a role that on Monday saw him move to merge the Canadian Television Fund and the Canadian New Media Fund into a rebranded CAN$310 million ($241 million) Canada Media Fund.

The CTF, the main source of government subsidies for Canadian indie producers of primetime TV shows, will be reformed to create more homegrown content available to Canadians over more digital platforms and to be sold internationally.

Ottawa also will allow Canadian broadcasters to make their own TV series in-house as well as commission series from indie producers.

The federal minister made his announcement on the Toronto set of the CBS and CTV police drama "Flashpoint," a Canadian-U.S. network partnership Moore wants to see more of.

"Flashpoint" is an example of a Canadian success story. It debuted at No. 1 in the U.S. and in Canada. It's a TV show on CBS and CTV and it streams on line," he said.

As Canadian and U.S. networks reduce their programming budgets to deal with falling ad revenue, they have increasingly partnered on new drama production that is shot in Canada and taps into local and federal government money like CTF subsidies and tax credits.

In addition to "Flashpoint," CBS also will co-produce "The Bridge," another CTV police drama, while NBC picked up "The Listener," a police-medical drama from Canadian producer Shaftesbury Films.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/...80fa747852185e
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post #31476 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 03:18 PM
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Nielsen Overnights (Cable)
'Breaking Bad' Breaks Better With Nielsen
AMC Original Series Improves With Ratings, Males 18-49 With Second-Season Debut
By Mike Reynolds, Multichannel News - March 9, 2009

The second season premiere of Breaking Bad broke better than its first.

AMC's series -- featuring Emmy award-winner Bryan Cranston as a middle-aged high school chemistry teacher stricken with inoperable lung cancer who transfers his periodic table knowledge into skills as the top crystal meth chef in Albuquerque -- averaged a 1.2 household rating and 1.7 million viewers in its return last night, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

The March 8 numbers marked a 33% increase over the 0.9 average for the first season's seven premieres (the writers strike trimmed a pair of installments from its rookie run) and a 31% jump from 1.3 million viewer average.

Breaking Bad 's debut garnered a 1.2 household rating.

AMC officials were also pleased with the show's performance with adults 18 to 49, which grew 36% to 929,000 of those watchers, versus season one's 682,000 average, and its 46% amelioration with men of that age -- 613,000 Sunday night, compared with 410,000.

By way of contrast, Mad Men, the retro advertising series that became the first basic-cable show to capture the Emmy for best drama, skews more female.

Hence, original series are drawing new audiences to AMC, as the network's roster of theatricals typically attracts adults 25 to 54.

http://www.multichannel.com/article/...th_Nielsen.php
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post #31477 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 03:23 PM
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TV Notes
Defeating the DVR to Promote Shows
Fox Borrows Page From Advertisers’ Pod-Busting Book
By Josef Adalian, TV Week

Fox’s on-air promotions team has quietly opened a new front in TV’s ongoing war against digital video recorders.

With little fanfare, the network in recent weeks has started sprinkling its commercial breaks with what it’s calling “TiVo-busters”—spots designed to be effective even when viewers use a DVR to fast-forward through advertising.

In addition, the network has been using the commercial breaks during “American Idol” to test out its commercial “podbusters,” original content interspersed throughout sponsorship breaks that’s designed to get viewers to pay attention to advertising. It’s the latest iteration of the podbusting strategy Fox has employed in other shows.

[CLICK ON LINK BELOW FOR CLIP OF FOX PROMO]

Podbusters aren’t new: Networks from NBC to BBC America have tested them. Their use on TV’s most-watched show, however, could take the concept to a new level.

As for the TiVo-buster promotions, the first campaign is a 10-second tune-in spot for new drama “Lie to Me” that plays with graphics and motion in a bid to make an impression on viewers no matter how they watch TV.

A viewer watching Fox in real time would see “Lie” lead Tim Roth leaning in toward the camera in slow motion. There’s intense music and audio of Mr. Roth saying, “I know when you’re lying.”

Those viewers who scan past the ad while holding down the fast-forward button on their DVRs obviously won’t hear the audio. But the spot’s key elements—a single shot of Mr. Roth and a large graphical representation of the show’s logo that stays on-screen throughout—were designed so they’re noticeable even when viewed during a fast-forward sprint.

“No matter what speed you’re watching it, you get motion and you get copy,” said Joe Earley, Fox’s executive VP in charge of marketing. “The point of the creative is not to stop you [from fast-forwarding]. It’s to convey the tune-in message and the show information no matter what mode you’re in.”

Mr. Earley said designing so-called “TiVo-buster” promos is challenging, since DVRs don’t all move at the same speed. The fast-forward function on DirecTV’s recorder might move more quickly than a Time Warner Cable DVR or the TiVo-brand machine.

In the case of “Lie to Me,” Fox found footage from the show that lent itself to the slow, single-shot format needed to work at any speed.

Other TiVo-busting promos are under consideration. But because these types of ads don’t allow for as much creativity as regular spots, Mr. Earley said he didn’t expect the network to make frequent use of the concept.

“We would only do it when it works,” he said. “This is not something you can do on every show or every day, nor would we want to.”

Mr. Earley has more ambitious plans for commercial-break podbusters, both during “Idol” and in other shows.

The first “Idol” podbusters began showing up in late February, when host Ryan Seacrest urged viewers to stay tuned during an upcoming break for exclusive footage from the show’s audition rounds. About midway through the break, Fox showed viewers exactly that.

Unlike the TiVo-buster promotions, the podbusters are designed to get viewers to stop fast-forwarding during a commercial break, or keep them from pressing the fast-forward button at all.

“We’re doing a lot of things to make our air as interesting as possible,” Mr. Earley said. “We want viewers to be entertained not only by the (series) content, but by the promos and these other experiments we’re doing to give them show-related content during breaks. The hope is that you don’t need to check out what’s on another channel or hit fast-forward because you’re always being entertained.”

In the case of the “Idol” podbusters, Fox took promotional time normally used to hype another series on the network to instead give viewers “more content from the show they already like,” Mr. Earley explained. Eventually, he said, the network hopes audiences will pick up on the fact that Fox has made the entire viewing experience—not just individual series—more enjoyable.

Mr. Earley’s team is currently in the planning stages on podbusters featuring original content from “Bones,” “Hell’s Kitchen” and at least one more show. For now, Madison Avenue isn’t involved in these experimental podbusters, though Mr. Earley wouldn’t mind if that changed.

“We would love to eventually find a partner who would want to sponsor this content,” he said, cautioning that any such deals would be struck by Fox’s sales division and not marketing.

Another way Fox is trying to make its promos feel more like original content is by launching a new series of image spots featuring the network’s stars in more relaxed moments.

“Entertaining you is our business. How we do it is the fun part,” a graphic message during one ad reads. “So Real. So Fun. So Fox.”

Fox’s promotions team worked closely with the network’s public relations team to identify moments during photo shoots and breaks from filming that showed off actors’ softer side. A spot for “Bones,” for example, features Emily Deschanel dazed and confused after an intense kiss from co-star David Boreanaz.

The goal is to bring viewers behind the scenes on Fox shows, giving audiences a peek into the lives of the people involved in the making of their favorite programs.

“We want to be more accessible to our viewers,” Mr. Earley said. “We’re the network for younger viewers. We want to be real.”

http://www.tvweek.com/news/2009/03/d..._promote_s.php
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post #31478 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 04:06 PM
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Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan previews this Thursday's TV Guide dual covers/story of the series finale of "Battlestar Galactica": http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune....ding.html#more Tons of quotes from the cast plus RDM teases 'the ending' but spoilerific if you haven't been watching over the past few weeks.

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Since I'm STILL using only Windows Media Center as a "DVR," I don't have any experience with how their FF works, but in WMC, you have the SKIP button, which simply JUMPS in 30-second increments, so you don't see ANYTHING during the jump. I have no idea if any of the DVRs available via TIVO or DirecTV or DISH have a similar feature, but when using WMC, I generally know commercial breaks are 4-5 minutes long, so I hit that button 8-10 times, until I either see the beginning of the show comng back from commercials, OR it's actually back INTO the show (which happens more often)... However, one of the FEW THINGS Microsoft actually designed RIGHT was that WMC SKIP and BACK feature, because the BACK feature goes back only 8 seconds, so if I accidentally SKIP INTO the show, I simply hit BACK until I'm into the end of the last commercial, then just let the last few seconds play (NEVER more than 7 seconds before I'm back to the show).

As I said, that's one of the VERY FEW THINGS Microsoft has done (and I really don't think THEY did it -- they simply LICENSED the technology from someone else) that really works WELL.
Jeff

P.S. HOWEVER, since most of what I record via my basic-cable input to my TV Tuner in my computer has pretty poor quality these days (likely because for reasons I don't understand the basic cable channels ALL have low quality any more -- on ALL my TVs, as well), I USUALLY end up going to Hulu.com or CBS.com or whatever to watch them, anyway... For instance, I recorded "The Unit" last night while I was watching one of the shows on HBO or Showtime. I checked to see the quality (and get the episode name) a few minutes ago. Sure enough, it was poor, so I simply went to CBS.com and watched it there. There were a total of maybe 5 minutes of commercials for the entire show -- vs. the 15-20 minutes we endure if watching "live," and I can put up with that. The quality WAS NOT as good as a "live" HD broadcast, but was DEFINITELY better than what WMC had recorded.

Life is the only constant...

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post #31480 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 04:08 PM
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Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan previews this Thursday's TV Guide dual covers/story of the series finale of "Battlestar Galactica": http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune....ding.html#more Tons of quotes from the cast plus RDM teases 'the ending' but spoilerific if you haven't been watching over the past few weeks.


I'll DEFINITELY buy the copy with the two hot chicks and the goofy guy on the cover!
Jeff

Life is the only constant...

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post #31481 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 04:13 PM
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TV Notes
A Matrix of News Winners Buoys NBC
By Bill Carter, The New York Times - March 9, 2009

...

But NBC's surge in the evening has been strong enough for the news division president, Steve Capus, to suggest that NBC is positioned to be the first network to expand to a full-hour newscast. (He did not set any timetable for that move.)

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/09/bu...html?ref=media

How many NBC affiliates carry the Wheel/Jeopardy package? Doesn't seem like they'd be interested in an hour of news from 6:30 to 7:30. But I suspect this would be targeted at the NBC affiliates who carry Access Hollywood and would love to cut their syndication budget by dropping whatever else they air in the 7pm hour.

And to think, whenever we read an article about Katie Couric's failed efforts, the reporter feels compelled to talk of the impending death of the evening newscast.
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post #31482 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 04:21 PM
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Hmmmmph. As if our local CBS affiliate didn't think having local news from 5-6:30 p.m. was ENOUGH. They NOW also have yet ANOTHER local broadcast from 7-7:30 p.m. AFTER the CBS Evening News!

I always thought 30 minutes of local news was enough and have LONG been ready for an HOUR of national news, BUT it's also LONG been my understanding that the biggest impediment to networks expanding to an hour-long news broadcast WAS resistance from local affiliates who see that time-period as a highly-lucrative time for LOCAL advertising dollars... Apparently, local stations have determined there is a HUGE audience for ALL THE LOCAL NEWS they can broadcast, and therefore a HUGE advertising sales potential for the same... Of course any time a viewer questions this -- OR the break-ins with "weather alerts" during primetime programs to tell you there's a thunderstorm 100 miles away (ALWAYS sponsored by SOMEONE), they respond that this is ALL DONE "in the public interest," because they're not ABOUT to admit that it's REALLY all about advertising dollar$!

I commend NBC on this idea, but I'm quite dubious as to how many local stations will give up that extra half-hour to network programming. I think it would truly REQUIRE a LARGE protest from local viewers in each market to get many to go for it.
Jeff

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post #31483 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 04:25 PM
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but in WMC, you have the SKIP button, which simply JUMPS in 30-second increments, so you don't see ANYTHING during the jump. I have no idea if any of the DVRs available via TIVO or DirecTV or DISH have a similar feature.

directv has that 30skip feature also....but yea that last skip always seems to take u a few seconds into the show so i just use the FF3x which when u then stop at the show takes u back some time so u see the show from the point after the commercial break & u miss nothing.

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BUT it's also LONG been my understanding that the biggest impediment to networks expanding to an hour-long news broadcast WAS resistance from local affiliates who see that time-period as a highly-lucrative time for LOCAL advertising dollars... Apparently, local stations have determined there is a HUGE audience for ALL THE LOCAL NEWS they can broadcast, and therefore a HUGE advertising sales potential for the same...

For better or worse, that is no longer the case.
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post #31485 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 05:13 PM
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TV Sports
Don't tell the boss, CBS website again puts NCAA games on demand
By Michael McCarthy, USA Today - March 9, 2009

CBSSports.com's NCAA March Madness on Demand, and its popular "Boss Button," return with live streaming of opening round games on Thursday, March 19.

Ever year, CBS helpfully provides millions of at-work viewers with a Boss Button that will show a fake spreadsheet if a nosy supervisor is looking over their shoulder. There were a record 2.5 million-plus clicks on the button in 2008. This year, it will be brought to you by its first official sponsor: Comcast.

Given the millions of jobs lost during the recession, Jason Kint, general manager of CBSSports.com, wouldn't be surprised if some worried supervisors reach for the button themselves.

"I bet you a lot of bosses will click it too," Kint says.

Kint's asked frequently if killjoy employers block the free service. Some do that on their own. But he says no companies have ever inquired with CBS on how to block it (although there's information about it on the March Madness on Demand website). That could change during the worst economic climate in decades.

"Even in a tough market we can all use a little break from the grind of the current economy," Kint says. "I'm hopeful that will continue. And people will look at March Madness on Demand as a positive."

Kint estimates the number of unique viewers in 2009 will rise 50% to 7.2 million. In 2008, the number of unique viewers grew 164% to 4.8 million. The total hours of live video/audio consumed grew 81% last year to 5 million hours.

Does March Madness on Demand cannibalize CBS' TV audiences? The network says no. Not surprisingly, the service gets its biggest audience for the Thursday-Friday first round games when many viewers are at work. The numbers then fall steadily while CBS' TV audiences take off.

Barkley starts jail sentence

TNT basketball analyst Charles Barkley began serving his three-day jail sentence for DUI in Arizona on Saturday. Barkley is serving his time in Maricopa County's "Tent City" jail.

Top quotes

Dale Earnhardt Jr. to crew chief Tony Eury Jr. during Fox's telecast of the Kobalt Tools 500 on Sunday: "If my wheel comes off and I hit the fence real hard, I get to whack every one of you with a hammer. Is that a deal?"… ESPN's Michael Wilbon during Friday's Pardon the Interruption on Shaquille O'Neal ripping Stan Van Gundy as a "master of panic" and Chris Bosh as the "RuPaul" of big men: "It's easy to see (Shaq) as a funny, funny guy, I do. Unless you're the guy he's clowning on."

NHL fighting code

NHL enforcers follow their own code of honor when it comes to fighting. There was an example of sportsmanship during NBC's telecast of the New York Rangers vs. Boston Bruins on Sunday.

During a scrap between the Rangers' Colton Orr and the Bruins' Shawn Thornton, Orr's sweater rode up over his head. Rather than continuing to punch his blinded opponent, Thornton gestured for the linesman to break them up.

"That's part of the (fighting) code right there," said NBC's Pierre McGuire. "Good for Shawn Thornton."

Survivor guilt

Excellent piece by ESPN's Kelly Naqi on Sunday's Outside the Lines about sole survivor Nick Schuyler — and the challenge he might face from survivor guilt after losing friends and NFL players Marquis Cooper and Corey Smith and former South Florida player Will Bleakley in a Gulf of Mexico boating accident.

Schuyler's friend Scott Miller told Naqi in an interview: "I can't imagine what he's going through mentally right now. I mean, he's got to explain to three families why he made it — and they didn't."

No mas

Is there a mercy rule on promotional ads for ABC's new cop show Castle? I'll make you a deal ESPN: I'll watch Monday night's premiere, if you stop running those show promos over and over. You know the ads. Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion) is the wisecracking novelist enlisted by the New York Police Department. Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) is the tough cop. He asks if she ever gets wild. She chews her lip and asks: "You know I'm wearing a gun, don't you?" Sure, the two Disney networks have to cross-promote. But I feel like I've seen the first episode already.

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/colum...mccarthy_N.htm
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post #31486 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 05:30 PM
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The Business of Television
N.Y. film, TV industry making tax credit appeal
Asking lawmakers for inclusion of funds in budget outlines
By Georg Szalai, The Hollywood Reporter - March 9, 2009

NEW YORK -- Members of the New York film and TV sector are planning to raise further awareness and lock up lawmaker support in Albany on Wednesday for new funding for the state's production tax credits.

Unions, such as the Teamsters, along with the NY Production Alliance and its members will press for inclusion of funds in the state budget outlines that are expected from the State Assembly and Senate any time now.

This year, the state had announced that the funds for its 30% film and TV tax incentives have been used up. Since Gov. David Paterson's budget draft lacked a renewal, the industry has been lobbying state lawmakers with a letter writing campaign and other methods. The Paterson, senate and assembly budget proposals must be reconciled, so NYPA and others are working on getting their ideas into at least one of the budget outlines.

For Wednesday, NYPA and other industry reps are set to meet with lawmakers in Albany. Union and NYPA reps also will press their points in a noon press conference at the State Capitol. The Albany outing had originally been planned for earlier this month, but the effort was upended by heavy snowfall.

NYPA executive director John Johnston told The Hollywood Reporter that he feels "there is an air of intensity" about the budget process in Albany, but he couldn't say when all proposals or a final budget would be finished. The state has an April 1 target date for the final budget bill, but decisions could well come later, some say.

Douglas Steiner, chairman of Steiner Studios, who was a driving force in getting the tax program launched in 2004, said it is key to restart the NYincentives by late April to avoid losing out on the TV season.

He has spent a lot of time in Albany as of late, saying he is "cautiously optimistic" as he has "found strong support" among legislators. "I think it is only a question of how quickly and in what form we will (get a renewal)," he told THR.

The incentives could be continued without changes and simply get new funding. But legislators could also change the way they work. For example, some have proposed reducing the tax credits percentage from 30%, while NYPA has proposed a continuation of the incentives without the current caps. "The credits have created jobs and tax revenue for the state," Johnston said. "They work, and the industry needs (planning security), so we are asking there be no caps."

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/...29359239d34cfb
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NEW YORK -- Members of the New York film and TV sector are planning to raise further awareness and lock up lawmaker support in Albany on Wednesday for new funding for the state's production tax credits.
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/...29359239d34cfb

Interesting, this contradicts what I heard—that there was a problem obtaining permits and the rally was not happening. Hopefully it’s still on. If it’s, I’ll be there with bells and whistles.

edit:

It is on.

There will be a massive rally in Albany Wednesday. State troopers will escort a mile long convoy of film and television industry vehicles into the center of the capital. At around noon, there will be a gathering of industry speakers at the corner of Washington and Swann addressing the public.

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post #31488 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 06:06 PM
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TV Notes
Mariska Hargitay sidelined from 'SVU'
By Michael Ausiello, EW.com - March 9, 2009

It appears the relapse Mariska Hargitay suffered last week was a bit more serious than first thought.

A Law & Order: SVU source tells me that the... Emmy winner underwent a second surgery last week related to a collapsed lung she suffered back in January. (Earlier reports said she was hospitalized for "routine tests" after experiencing "some discomfort.") And although her reps initially said production on SVU would not be affected, they're now confirming that Hargitay will in fact miss several weeks of work as she recuperates.

"Mariska is recovering well and is expected to return to SVU in the next couple of weeks," her camp said in a statement.

An SVU insider adds that the actress' prognosis is excellent. "She is doing great," maintains my mole. "She will recoup for a few weeks and be back better than ever." Phew.

Remarkably, the SVU source says Hargitay's absence is only expected to translate into one missed episode. And in that episode, titled "Bagagge," Ice-T's Fin "will step in for Mariska."

Also helping fill the void will be Stephanie March, whose ex-ADA Alex Cabot begins her six-episode return engagement tomorrow night.

http://ausiellofiles.ew.com/2009/03/...ive-maris.html
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Remarkably, the SVU source says Hargitay's absence is only expected to translate into one missed episode. And in that episode, titled "Bagagge," Ice-T's Fin "will step in for Mariska."

Let's just hope that it's not an episode where Olivia has to go undercover as a prostitute...
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TV Notes
Clooney on 'ER' This Week, Probably Definitely
From Matthew Gilbert's Boston Globe 'Viewer Discretion' Blog - March 9, 2009

NBC is playing a little game with the cast list for this Thursday's "ER," which is the fourth-to-last episode of the series.

The network will say that the parade of former cast members continues this week with Eriq La Salle as Benton, Julianna Margulies as Hathaway, and Noah Wyle as Carter, who is waiting for a kidney transplant. But, even though the NBC website announces that Thursday's ER guest stars will include the doctor Hathaway married, no one at NBC will confirm or deny the name of the actor who plays that lucky fellow: George Clooney.

Are you watching the final season? Looking forward to George?

http://www.boston.com/ae/tv/blog/200...y_on_39er.html
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Let's just hope that it's not an episode where Olivia has to go undercover as a prostitute...

Or a shipper episode where the sexual tension with Stabler reaches a boiling point!
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post #31492 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 06:17 PM
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TV Notes
Clooney on 'ER' This Week, Probably Definitely
From Matthew Gilbert's Boston Globe 'Viewer Discretion' Blog - March 9, 2009

Are you watching the final season? Looking forward to George?

Are you watching the final season? No....havent seen 1 episode ever.

Looking forward to George? No.

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post #31493 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 06:22 PM
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The Business of Television
Stations in the Balance
Debt-Ridden and Independent Outlets Run Most Risk
By Jon Lafayette and Andrew Krukowski, TV Week

With the local advertising market in the tank, everyone knows times are tough for television stations.

The problem is that business conditions aren't likely to get better any time soon, and that has industry executives talking about more station owners declaring bankruptcy, getting taken over by their banks or, in some cases, shutting down operations.

There are bound to be bankruptcies in broadcasting as there are in every other industry, said Frank Kalil of Kalil & Co., a leading station broker. Certainly there are problems and we're dealing with them.

A number of stations can't support their debt load, said Barry Baker, managing director at Boston Ventures, which owns and operates several stations in small markets.

Beyond over-leveraged operations, those in small markets without major network affiliations are at greatest risk, other broadcast executives said.

You go much beyond the top five or six [stations in the market] and those are always very difficult, said Tim Pecaro, founder of Bond & Pecaro, a consultancy that appraises broadcast properties. If you don't have one of the top four networks, or Univision or The CW, it's a tough business. You're dealing with fractions of the market and you've got to be in a pretty big market to live off the crumbs.

Mr. Pecaro said some big markets have been hit hard as well, including previously fast-growing locations such as California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. Industrial areas in the upper Midwest also are hurting.

I'd hate to be running television stations in those kinds of markets today, because the floor has dropped out of advertising. Nobody knows where the bottom is, he said.

Mr. Kalil said that in some cases, his company has been asked by owners and banks to try to sell troubled stations, but securing financing in the current economic environment is an issue.
With the current owner being overextended, with advertising revenues tightening up, it's a matter of how long they can hold on, he said.

But if they can't, what happens next? There are some opportunists sitting on cash who could make a go of it where other owners have faltered.

The question then becomes, do the banks really want to run these things, said Mr. Pecaro. Those people who were out acquiring are generally good operators. They're experienced operators in a once-in-a-lifetime circumstance. And who might be better to run them than these guys?

For stations that can't make a go of it as a traditional broadcasting business, other options are emerging with new technologies.

On a panel in January at the National Association of Television Program Executives conference, Warner Bros. Domestic Distribution President Ken Werner mentioned the possibility that the economics of the station business could lead some to go dark. That would open the door for new uses of their signal spectrum.

Amid all the bad news for stations, it's important to note that stations still represent a profitable business proposition. While growth may stall, Mr. Kalil said most stations remain in the black.
If they can adjust, they can wait this thing outand I truly believe that it's a matter of waiting it outbusiness will improve, he said.

The thing about broadcasters is even though they're going to be in a lot of trouble this year, many of them are still going to cash flow, said Mr. Pecaro. It's not like the newspapers. Their fixed-cost levels are nowhere near as high. It's just the cash flows aren't going to be anywhere near where they were a couple of years ago.

The list of station groups that haven't been able to maintain adequate cash flow is growing.
Last year, big station owner Tribune Co. went bankrupt. Tribune, which also owns newspapers, took on massive amounts of debt in a leveraged employee buyout masterminded by financier Sam Zell.

Equity Media Holding, which owns 31 television stations, sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December after failing to sell its stations. Young Broadcasting, which owns 10 CBS and ABC affiliates, filed for Chapter 11 last month. The company listed liabilities of more than $500 million and said the filing was designed to bring its debt in line with current economic realities.

Debt is a problem for many station owners. In a January report, Moody's warned that with advertising revenue declining, Many broadcasters will not generate the [earnings] to comply with financial covenants in bank loan agreements, cause them to require waivers and amendments or face default.

Moody's predicted banks will be unlikely to amend terms with very highly leveraged companies or those that are burning through cash to fund day-to-day operations, leading to more bankruptcies.

It doesn't appear the advertising market will turn around to save struggling operators.
Certainly it doesn't seem that the advertising picture will improve any time soon to bail out local broadcasters in trouble.

BIA Advisory Services last week forecast that local advertising revenues will fall at a compounded annual rate of 1.4% from $155.3 billion in 2008 to $144.4 billion in 2013. Traditional media, which lumps in TV, radio, newspapers and direct mail, will decrease at a 4.5% rate over that period.

Representatives for media companies that own station groups and broadcast networks declined to comment.

Beyond cutting staff, local station managers are trying a number of approaches to meet the financial challenges.

A big chore is compensating for the loss of automotive advertising.

You're scrambling to try to make up that revenue that hasn't come back, said Tim Larson, general manager of KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Mr. Larson said a lot of auto ads come from the national side, so stations need to look locally in order to fill the shortfall.

You try to go directly to the advertiser, particularly the local guy, and say, This is what we can do for you,' he said. And you have to sell that hard.

That's brought a cultural shift in his sales efforts, with more outbound calls and less order-taking from inbound calls.

It's not that way anymore. You've got to get out and you've got to sell, you've got to sell a lot of stuff, he said.

Mr. Kalil said he believes that stations can help themselves by stepping up their local ad sales efforts.

I truly believe that the solution, if there is an immediate, automatic solution, would be for every station to hire three to five more salespeople tomorrow, Mr. Kalil said.

Other companies are looking for ways to spread cost over more stations.

Mark DeSantis, general manager of WEEK-TV in Peoria, Ind., said its owner, Granite Broadcasting, has consolidated certain operations. For example, master control operations have been combined in multistation hubs and his weekend weather is being produced in Fort Wayne and uploaded back to Peoria.

Mr. DeSantis also said he's talking with other GMs in the area to pool resources on news coverage, for instance, sending one camera crew to gather footage.

This is the worst business climate that we've seen since we've been in broadcasting, he said, adding he's confident things are going to rebound.

Reducing the number of stations in a market might also make the survivors more financially sound.

We need duopoly. We need consolidation. There's no question about that, Mr. Kalil said. There are a lot of things that we can save money on in the industry by combining these properties in a given market.

In many markets, more duopolies can't be formed because of Federal Communications Commission regulations. Mr. Baker thinks the industry should go even further than duopoly.

I think ultimately there should be a move to an agency system, where stations just say we're sharing news, we're sharing back office, we are sharing everything, otherwise we can't be in business, he said. And hopefully the new FCC will say, You know what, they won't be in business so we might have less editorial voices in local news, but at least we'll have three separate sets of anchors.'

The prospect of stations pushing cable operators to get more money for the retransmission of local signals is unlikely to fill the void for broadcasters.

I think we're at a real turning point when you combine viewership lost to online video with the total financial situation and the lack of advertising, Mr. Baker said. All the retrans money in the world can't make up for it.

http://www.tvweek.com/news/2009/03/n...subchannel.php
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post #31494 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 06:30 PM
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Critic's Review
Funny Boy
A down-and-dirty comedy on HBO
By Nancy Franklin, The New Yorker

The six-part HBO comedy series “Eastbound & Down,” now just past its halfway point, appears, on the face of it, to be another prefab house of laughs of the kind that’s been extruded, over and over, in the past couple of years by the belching adolescent-humor factory of Apatow, Ferrell, Stiller & Rogen. Will Ferrell is the only one of those comedy machers who’s directly involved in “Eastbound & Down.” (He and his partner, Adam McKay—who co-wrote and directed a couple of Ferrell’s vehicles and started the Web site Funny or Die with him—are two of the show’s executive producers.) Still, the many interconnections among “Eastbound” ’s producers, writers, directors, and performers and the members of the funny firm would require a seminar to enumerate; they and a half-dozen or so others—including Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, and Jack Black—form an omnipresent happy band, a sort of Boobsbury group, who create and play characters that range across the spectrum from slacker to jackass, and the body odor emanating from “Eastbound & Down” will be recognizable to anyone who has seen such films as “Superbad,” “Drillbit Taylor,” “There’s Something About Mary,” and “Tropic Thunder.”

One of the newer inductees to the core group of funnymen is Danny McBride, the star of “Eastbound & Down”; in the show, he’s Kenny Powers, onetime Major League star reliever with a fastball of a hundred and one miles an hour, a speed that steadily decreased as his self-destructiveness—a combination of bad attitude, bad habits, and bad karma—accelerated. Kenny, profane and bombastic, sees his own story as epic: in a voice-over at the beginning of the first episode, he says, “When my ass was nineteen years old, I changed the face of professional baseball.” As a rookie, he helped his team win the World Series, but eventually his careless ways caught up with him. “Sometimes when you bring the thunder you get lost in the storm,” he explains. Even this early in the series, we sense that a good character has entered our midst. Kenny Powers, we’re delighted to discover, is totally full of it.

If you’ve seen any of the half-dozen movies that McBride has appeared in over the past few years, his playing this kind of role, and being so good in it, won’t surprise you. For one thing, he looks the part of a pitcher gone to seed, with a puffy body that comes complete with gut and double chin, and baggy eyes that suggest both not enough sleep and too much sleeping it off. But he was new to me, and at first I didn’t quite know why he held my attention; I just knew that there was something about Danny. His film roles have mostly been small—he is a movie-pyrotechnics specialist on location in “Tropic Thunder”; a slovenly bum with too much self-esteem in “Drillbit Taylor”; and has a cameo in “Superbad”—and all spring out of his starring role in a 2006 movie called “The Foot Fist Way,” in which he played a small-town Tae Kwon Do instructor. I think that part of what enables McBride to seem so at home in his own skin is the fact that he’s also a writer and has control of much of his material, and he isn’t working alone. He and his two collaborators, Jody Hill and Ben Best, were students together at North Carolina School of the Arts. They wrote “The Foot Fist Way” and “Eastbound & Down” (another college mate, Shawn Harwell, substituted for Best on three episodes); Best appears in both; and Hill appears in “The Foot Fist Way” and directed that movie and two episodes of “Eastbound.” The three amigos, now in their early thirties (though they could, and do, play characters who are older than that but have the maturity level of people who are younger than that), are also executive producers of both projects. In this company, McBride is comfortable improvising, and in “Eastbound” there’s a lot of pleasurable tension in watching Kenny create difficult situations with his poor judgment and get out of them with his escape artist’s quick brain.

After Kenny’s baseball career dies, he goes back to his North Carolina home town, moves in with his brother and his family, and gets a job as a substitute gym teacher at his old high school—not because he wants to but because the I.R.S. needs to garnish his wages and he doesn’t have any wages. On his first day at work, he runs into a former girlfriend, April (Katy Mixon), who is now a teacher at the school and clearly ambivalent about Kenny’s return. She’s engaged to the principal, a smiley, sexless straight arrow (Andrew Daly, a former “MADtv” cast member), who clearly isn’t right for her. It’s a classic romantic-comedy situation, with—standing in for Cary Grant—a pasty Tar Heel who sports a mullet, rides a Jet Ski with a topless companion, says that “the best part about being a celebrity is cashing in on it,” and vomits at a high-school dance. The band teacher, Stevie (Steve Little), also went to school with Kenny; he idolizes Kenny—needless to say, Kenny doesn’t remember him—and jumps at the chance to be his “assistant,” a job that basically means taking the blame for Kenny’s antics. Over time, the nerdish Stevie starts to resemble his idol, angry and reckless and even a little dangerous. It’s funny, and disturbing, to watch Stevie’s transformation, and to see that Kenny doesn’t care what the consequences are for Stevie. But that’s what’s good about McBride and about the character. There’s cruelty and meanness in “Eastbound & Down” (the title is an homage to Jerry Reed’s theme song for “Smokey and the Bandit”), and the show’s creators don’t pander to Kenny or use him just for laughs. The comedy is broad but not freewheeling.

“Eastbound” doesn’t make too many claims for itself. It has a grass-roots feeling to it, and would seem even more organic if Will Ferrell had absented himself; he’s in a couple of episodes, playing a local car dealer who is alternately impressed with Kenny and contemptuous of him. The performance, however useful it may be in calling attention to the series, calls an unwarranted amount of attention to itself. There are only six episodes of “Eastbound,” and supposedly the creators are open to the idea of continuing the story. It’s complete now, though, and should be left alone, just as Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant left “The Office” alone after a relatively small number of episodes. In both cases, the main character was a perfect depiction of a real jerk who wasn’t just a jerk. We all know such people; to some degree, we all are those people. Like David Brent, Kenny Powers will live on in our minds after he’s left the screen.

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critic...ision_franklin
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post #31495 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 06:33 PM
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TV Notes
Mariska Hargitay sidelined from 'SVU'
By Michael Ausiello, EW.com - March 9, 2009

It appears the relapse Mariska Hargitay suffered last week was a bit more serious than first thought.

A Law & Order: SVU source tells me that the... Emmy winner underwent a second surgery last week related to a collapsed lung she suffered back in January. (Earlier reports said she was hospitalized for "routine tests" after experiencing "some discomfort.") And although her reps initially said production on SVU would not be affected, they're now confirming that Hargitay will in fact miss several weeks of work as she recuperates.

"Mariska is recovering well and is expected to return to SVU in the next couple of weeks," her camp said in a statement.

An SVU insider adds that the actress' prognosis is excellent. "She is doing great," maintains my mole. "She will recoup for a few weeks and be back better than ever." Phew.

Remarkably, the SVU source says Hargitay's absence is only expected to translate into one missed episode. And in that episode, titled "Bagagge," Ice-T's Fin "will step in for Mariska."

Also helping fill the void will be Stephanie March, whose ex-ADA Alex Cabot begins her six-episode return engagement tomorrow night.

http://ausiellofiles.ew.com/2009/03/...ive-maris.html

God I hope she's OK!

Yaknow, for a LONG TIME I really didn't care for her character, but she really "grew on me" and now I can hardly imagine the show without her... and she's won just HOW MANY Emmy's for it? Well deserved, I'd say, too. I just felt, early on, her character was too "hard-edged." But through the years Olivia Benson has TRULY been fleshed out as a very well-rounded character.

One thing I've come to wonder about with the show, which I missed the first couple of seasons, was that it had SO MUCH "family time" with Stabler's home life the first couple of seasons, but since then they've all but eliminated his family from the story line, except for the occasional episode with his wife having a new baby or his daughter getting a DUI or being drunk and breaking into someone's house. I guess the writers/producers deciding to have his wife divorce him was a deliberate move AWAY from the show being as "family focused" and more about "the crimes," although when I get to see those early seasons in re-run I really enjoy the "family moments," much as I do with Joe, Allison and their girls on "Medium."

I don't think we see enough of that on TV any more, and NO I'm NOT one of those "family first" folks -- FAR from it. But I DO miss seeing that sort of thing in serious drama, as I'm not about to watch the melodramas or the "family shows" that I'm sure still DO provide it.
Jeff

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post #31496 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 08:16 PM
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Critic's Notes
Why 'Heroes' should set an end date
From James Hibberd's Hollywood Reporter 'Live Feed' Blog - March 9, 2009

Ask fans what the biggest problem with NBC’s “Heroes” is, and their top answer is “the writing.” Viewers expect big-ticket dramas to be as well crafted and exciting as top boxoffice movies nowadays, if not better.

“Heroes” has improved recently, and fans expect to see ongoing improvement with the return of "Pushing Daisies" creator Bryan Fuller to the show's writing staff. But overall “Heroes” has fallen short of the standard set by genre competitors like “24” and its own first season. Beyond advice like “better writing” or more specific notes like “less complex,” there’s something else NBC could do to improve the show: set a series end date.

The network has contemplated this option. Here are six reasons why it should pull the trigger:

Scarcity increases demand. Viewers like knowing there’s a grand plan, that the main story’s twists and turns are leading someplace finite. Viewers weirdly think of TV as both an entertaining distraction and a burdenlike “investment” of their valuable time. They want to know, like a marriage-minded lover in a relationship, that “this is going somewhere.”

Creatively, it helped “Lost,” "Battlestar Galactica” and "The Shield.” Serialized action dramas’ ongoing story lines and life-and-death stakes make long, open-ended runs problematic. Threats to central characters don’t carry much weight. Satisfying answers to long-standing questions are scarce. The writers longer are no longer telling the story; they’re telling the story before the story, and it gets more obvious every year. Once the end was in sight for “Lost,” “Battlestar” and “Shield,” writers confidently drove the story and even reached a pivotal event earlier than fans expected — getting off the island, the fleet finding Earth, Vic Mackey losing his job — then surprised audiences by moving toward a different conclusion than what long had been expected.

It probably improves ratings. Heavily serialized dramas tend to peak early, then lose viewers each year. We can’t know for sure that setting an end date helps because nobody knows what “Lost” and the other shows would have rated had they not decided to plan a series finale in advance. But judging by fan reaction and critics’ reviews, parties generally seem more satisfied with the shows once there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“Heroes” is doomed anyway. “The toughest thing in TV is getting fans back to a show they have decided to quit,” one network executive notes. That “Heroes” is still the highest-rated drama on NBC is amazing considering it has dropped about 30% this season. The show is too expensive to keep trending in its current ratings direction. And given how much shows tend to fall during a summer break, next season has a strong chance of being the show’s last no matter what the network does. So why not set series finale for two years from now — May 2011? It would give the show the best chance of surviving next season.

You can always renege. Here’s the part that fans will hate, but, c’mon, if “Heroes’ set an end date and miraculously surged in the ratings, do you really think NBC would let it die on schedule? Even the patron saint of TV dramas, HBO’s “The Sopranos,” couldn’t resist agreeing to another eight “bonus” episodes after setting an end date. You can always use this lame-but-effective justification: “We discovered that we had more story to tell.”

Assisted suicide = death with dignity. Admittedly, an end date for “Heroes” might not creatively help the show as much as “Lost,” “BSG” and “Shield” because there’s no overriding central question consistently driving the NBC show that fans instantly will recognize as being resolved by a finale (which arguably is “Heroes’ ” biggest problem). In other words: What does ending “Heroes” mean? You can pick a dozen plot questions and character threads raised during the past few years. But at least having an end date would force writers to choose one or even decide a whole new one, figure out what the show is about and give “Heroes” a shot to finish on a strong note.

http://www.thrfeed.com/2009/03/heroes-end-date.html



'Breaking' good news; 'Dollhouse' DVR

The second season debut of AMC's "Breaking Bad" showed major growth compared to last year.

Sunday night's "Bad" (1.7 million viewers, 929,000 adults 18-49 viewers) was up 21% in total viewers from its first season premiere and 18% in the adult demo. AMC points out that compared to the first season's average, both measurements are up even further -- 40% in viewers and 36% in the demo.

Considering the debut season of "Bad" was cut short by the writers strike, and how other serialized dramas in the same boat fared when they returned, any improvement at all would have been considered an accomplishment. Gushing reviews for the new episodes couldn't have hurt, either (THR: "It's difficult to fathom a more dangerous and enthralling piece of television ... this is television as God intended.").

Also, for those wondering: Week two of DVR data showed both "Dollhouse" and "Terminator" improved 29% from their original airings. For "Dollhouse," that roughly matches the premiere episode's DVR gain while for "Terminator," its slipping a bit compared to the show's midseason debut. In either case those are some strong numbers.

http://www.thrfeed.com/2009/03/break...e-ratings.html
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post #31497 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 08:38 PM
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Critic's Notes
Why 'Heroes' should set an end date
From James Hibberd's Hollywood Reporter 'Live Feed' Blog - March 9, 2009

Heroes is doomed anyway. The toughest thing in TV is getting fans back to a show they have decided to quit, one network executive notes. That Heroes is still the highest-rated drama on NBC is amazing considering it has dropped about 30% this season.

How do they figure that number? ER easily outpaced Heroes last week.


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post #31498 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 08:39 PM
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Unlike, I know, many here and even more in the BSG thread I frequent, I remain a MAJOR fan of "Heroes" and would love to see it run until Claire has grandkids, lol.

That said, I have to agree with the article posted above.

Although I felt (and feel) the same way about "Lost," I think setting the "end date" for the show TRULY gave it a focus and led to better episodes and a better story arc, overall... "A never-ending, open-ended story" CAN get VERY tiresome -- no matter HOW MUCH we like the characters, the actors, the subject matter and the storyline.
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post #31499 of 98224 Old 03-09-2009, 10:22 PM
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I'm a big believer in creating a series with an end date. I hope some networks give it a shot at some point. If Heroes had run just one season it would have been so satisfying. Everything after that tainted what came previously.
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The Business of Television
Stations in the Balance
Debt-Ridden and Independent Outlets Run Most Risk

I am concerned that this will become one of the most under-regarded news stories of the day. Question: Why should viewers care about the television stations' financial problems? Answer: Quite a lot.
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