Archive for December, 2006

“Friday Night Lights” 9-1-1

In yet another desperate attempt to get people to watch the critically acclaimed and ratings’ challenged “Friday Night Lights,” NBC’s cable sibling Bravo is offering up a marathon to get folks up to speed.

Bravo airs back-to-back episodes of the freshman drama, “Friday Night Lights” with a ten-hour marathon, Saturday, December 30, 9 AM-7 PM ET/PT.

I’ll admit that I loved the pilot and the first few episodes, yet it never quite became a must-see show during my off-hours. It’s a wonderful series, but it moves slower than a glacier on a non-warming globe.

Inspired by the book and the film “Friday Night Lights,” the series centers on the small rural town of Dillon, Texas, where the coveted state football championship rings are held in the highest regard. Dillon’s promising high school team, its star quarterback, and newly appointed head coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler, “King Kong,” “Grey’s Anatomy”) continually feel the mounting pressure of the town’s pride and honor riding on their shoulders as soon as the Panthers’ new football season kicks off.

The strong cast includes: Scott Porter (“The Bedford Diaries”) as the injured former star quarterback Jason Street; Gaius Charles (“Book of Daniel”) as feared running back Brian “Smash” Williams; Taylor Kitsch (“Kyle XY”) as running back Tim Riggins; Connie Britton (“The Brothers McMullen,” “24″) as Taylor’s supportive wife, Tami; Zach Gilford (“The Last Winter”) as new team captain and starting quarterback Matt Saracen, and Minka Kelly (“What I Like About You”) as Lyla Garrity, Panther cheerleader and Street’s girlfriend.

Also starring are: Aimee Teegarden (“Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide”) as Coach Taylor’s daughter, Julie; Adrianne Palicki (“South Beach”) as Tyra Collette, and Jesse Plemons (“Grey’s Anatomy”) as Landry Clarke.

Check it out and let us know what you think of the series. Is it worth all the critical acclaim?

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Holidays with D.L. Hughley

Did I mention I’m on vacation for two weeks?

Yeah, it never really works out that way. My vacation was supposed to start on Dec. 19, but I came in to talk to Yul Kwon. And really, who wouldn’t want to talk to the charming Yul the day after his big “Survivor” win? It was a great chat and worth putting off the vay-cay for a day.

But while I was in the office that day, I got a call saying that comic D.L. Hughley – currently co-starring on NBC’s “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” - would be doing a New Year’s Eve show in the East Bay. Did I want to chat with him?

D.L. Hughley

Momentarily forgetting that I was off for the next two weeks, I agreed. We set up a time for 4 p.m. the Thursday before Christmas. Sure, I was picking up my son John that day from the airport and we had some catching up to do, since we hadn’t seen each other for a year. Still, I figured it was only a half-hour away.

D.L. never called. The publicist set up a new time for the day after Christmas. Maybe he would call some time between 3-4 p.m. But that day I took my son’s girlfriend Lindsay into San Fran for the day.

Here’s a hint: Don’t buy tickets for the cable car on a rainy day. Or any day in which you might not want to invest a lot of time being frustrated. After waiting in line for 45 minutes in the rain, the famous cable car only made it half-way to our destination at Fisherman’s Wharf. Everyone had to get off and either try to grab another cable car or walk the 10 blocks to the wharf. In the rain. The freakin’ pouring rain.

Needless to say, being soggy, tired and trying to conduct an interview while hanging out on Pier 39 with the sea lions barking wasn’t going to make for a great chat. Plus, we still weren’t confirmed for a time. Yep, we bagged it.

So, while I look forward to the New Year and getting at least a couple of days of rest in a dry environment, here’s the info in case you want to laugh in the New Year with D.L.:

For those who have waited until the last minute to decide what to do on New Year’s Eve, you can join Hughley at Tommy T’s at 5104 Hopyard Road in Pleasanton.
Hughley will perform at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Sunday at Tommy T’s, then have a special performance at 9 p.m. at the Pleasanton Hilton. All tickets include dancing at the Hilton until 1:30 a.m. Monday.
Tickets are $170 for the early show, $195 for the second show at the Hilton and $175 for the late show.
For tickets or more information, call Tommy T’s at 925-227-1800
Room packages at the Hilton are still available.

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Julie Haener named new KTVU anchor

With Leslie Griffith officially out, Julie Haener has been named
co-anchor of “The Ten o’Clock News” on KTVU-Channel 2 effective
immediately.

Julie Haener

The veteran KTVU anchor/reporter will co-anchor the nightly newscast
alongside Dennis Richmond. The two will also continue to co-anchor
the 6 p.m. newscast.

“This is a wonderful opportunity and a position that doesn’t come
along too often,” Haener says. “I couldn’t be more thrilled about
expanding my anchor duties and continuing to be working for one of
the most respected TV stations in the country. KTVU is a terrific
place to work and I’m blessed to have the support of my family.”

Richmond says he’s excited about working with Haener on “The Ten
o’Clock News.”

“During the last six years while co-anchoring the 6 p.m. news with
Julie, I’ve gained a great deal of respect and appreciation for her
professionalism and journalistic skills,” Richmond says.

Haener received three Emmy awards while at KTVU including one in 2004
for Best On-Camera News Anchor. In that same year, the American
Women in Radio and Television (AWRT) named her as the Best TV On-Air
Reporter. In 2002, the Radio Television News Directors Association
of Northern California honored the KTVU Channel 2 News at 6,
co-anchored by Haener and Dennis Richmond as the Best 30 Minute
Newscast.

Haener joined the KTVU team in 1997 and became co-anchor of the 6
p.m. newscast in 2000. From 1998 to 2000 she was the anchor of the
weekend edition of “The Ten o’Clock News.”

Before moving to the Bay Area she co-anchored a two-hour weekday
morning newscast at KIRO in Seattle. Prior to that, she worked as an
anchor/reporter at KJEO in Fresno. She started her career in 1990 at
KNDO in Yakima, Washington as a reporter, anchor, producer, editor,
writer and videographer. Haener grew up in Tacoma, Washington and is
a graduate of the University of Washington where she majored in
Broadcast Journalism.

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Yul Kwon’s Survivor Strategy

San Mateo’s Yul Kwon is, without a doubt, the ultimate “Survivor” strategist.

Yul Kwon

And he has a great sense of humor. When talking to him this morning, the day after he beat out surfer Ozzy, AKA Monkey boy, for the million, he talked about his parents’ reaction to him going on the show.

His parents, who immigrated to the United States from South Korea, were unclear on the “Survivor” premise.

“My father thought that they put 20 people on a deserted island and the one left alive got the million,” Kwon says. “My parents were actually hoping I’d go on `The Bachelor.’ But at this point, they would like me to show up on the doorstep with a wife and baby.”

So just how did he manipulate himself into winning the million bucks? We’ll let Yul speak for himself.

Yul Kwon

Kwon says he watched the first season of “Survivor” and then rarely watched after that. When he was recruited by the producers to go on the show – they knew about him from his work on Steve Westly’s California campaign – he said he quickly crammed by renting out several seasons of “Survivor.”

Even though he had a plan, and a knack for calculating statistically feasible outcomes, he just hoped that he wouldn’t be the first one ejected from the game.

His first break came when he found the hidden immunity idol on Exile Island.

Yul stripped

“The immunity idol is a gun with one bullet. If I used it that way, it wasn’t really useful. The power is in the potential to use it,” Yul says. “When I found the idol, I wanted to save it to change the flow of the game.”

And so he did. Two other dramatic events could have taken Yul out of the game.

The first event was when team members Candice and Jonathan decided to switch to the other team _ which left their tribe at a disadvantage with only four members in the tribe. It could have meant that they could have been quickly picked off during a tribe merge. They only way they could stay alive in the short term was to win challenges.

Yul embraced Ozzy as the Challenge Master.

Yul and Ozzy

“Ozzy was the best hedge to deflect attention away from me. I had been targeted to get out, but he was my insurance,” Yul says.

Yul says the four bonded into a group and that he worked to keep them together by making them all feel as if they were part of the decision making process.

“We never felt threatened by each other, we trusted each other that we would all get to the final four together,” Yul says.

After the merge, they needed to flip someone in the dominant Raro tribe. Which brought up the one time when Yul believed there might be a tear in the bond of the four.

Jonathan was rational enough to understand that it was in his own self-interest to flip, so he was the obvious choice,” Yul says. “But Ozzy wanted to turn Nate, and I didn’t understand why Nate, who had a strong alliance, would want to go to our side. His already secure for a No. 5 spot in his own tribe. Why flip for the same position in our tribe?

“So I asked Ozzy how he could convince Nate, and he started talking about how he would appeal to him as being an outsider in the (predominately white) tribe, just like Ozzy felt like an outsider in our tribe. As soon as he said it, it was like a bird flew in his mouth and he just trailed off. I realized that he was going to screw us and try for an alliance with Nate against us.”

So Yul went to convince Jonathan that it was in his best interest to flip and at least be guaranteed a No. 5 position. He told Jonathan that he had the immunity idol and if it came down to a vote, Jonathan would be voted out because Yul would use the idol to save himself.

Yul then convinced Jonathan that the reason why Jonathan hadn’t been voted out yet was because his tribe members thought Jonathan had the immunity idol. And if Jonathan told them that Yul had the idol, then they would vote Jonathan out.

“As long as he believed the story about his tribe only keeping him in because they thought he had the idol, I knew we could flip him,” Yul says. “But in addition to the rational arguments, there was an emotional reason for Jonathan to flip.”

Yul had been present at a discussion about body hair between members of the Raro tribe. The discussion turned mean-spirited against Jonathan’s wife.

“I was chopping coconuts and thought `You guys are being really rude and you’re digging your own grave.’ Jonathan was furious with them and didn’t want any of them making it to the final four,” Yul says. “So I told Ozzy that the only way Jonathan would flip would be if we voted Nate out, because he had made fun of Jonathan’s wife.”

In fact, Jonathan didn’t care which one was voted out. Yul just wanted to take away Ozzy’s alternative to sticking with the four.

The other threat to the four was when Becky wanted to vote Ozzy out because she saw him as a threat. Yul says he listened to her and Sundra, but would never let that happen.

“Once you voted out one of the four, the trust was gone,” Yul says.

Becky and Yul became close friends during their time on the island, but it was only a friendship. Yul says that when the Candice/Jonathan mutiny happened, he offered the immunity idol to Becky if she ever needed it.

“It was silly for me to use it for myself and go into the merge alone just to get eliminated. She could have used it and flown under the radar for a while,” Yul says. “When we got to the end, it was a brief conversation about the idol and Becky decided that wasn’t the way she wanted to play the game.”

Instead, under the new rules, Yul caught another break. Three would go before the tribal council instead of two. So Yul, with the immunity idol, was safe and so was Ozzy after winning the challenge. The decision was made to let Sundra and Becky battle it out in a tie-breaker after Ozzy voted Becky out and Yul voted Sundra out.

And then there was that awful fire-building challenge.

Yul says to be fair, it was terribly windy and that probably hurt the two when trying to start fires. But he also says that when Sundra ran out of wood, Becky offered some of her wood to Sundra. When Sundra ran out of matches, she cheered Becky on.

Jeff couldn’t believe it,” Yul says.

In the end, Yul believed it would come down to him and Ozzy.

“I thought about, if I was close, that I would throw the immunity challenge, that way I wouldn’t have to choose between Ozzy and either Becky or Sundra because no matter who I chose, the other would feel burned,” Yul says. “I thought Ozzy would probably chose me because he has a real sense of fairness and I told him that if he went against Becky or Sundra, then the jury would see them all as being the same kind of players. More people on the jury hated me and since he had decimated them on the challenges, they could hold him accountable for them not making it to the finals and vote for Becky or Sundra.

“I didn’t think I would win in a landslide against Ozzy, but I thought I had a good shot.”

The closing arguments before the jury played into Yul’s strength as a trial attorney. But even he didn’t see it coming when Ozzy claimed that he wanted the money to go to college.

Turns out that Ozzy had told everyone he would use his winnings to build a sort of surfer commune for his pals where they could live free.

“I went to the confessional booth after that and said he would win a million dollars over my dead body. What a phenomenal waste.”

Yul won by just one vote, a vote that he had guaranteed when he engineered Jonathan’s ejection.

Adam told me that he would promise to vote for me in the final if Jonathan went before he did,” Yul says. “I knew Adam would keep his word.”

Yul, Becky and Ozzy

So, boys and girls, that’s how you win a million bucks on “Survivor.”

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Romijn Unmasked

Berkeley native Rebecca Romijn has joined the cast of “Ugly Betty” as the mysterious woman behind the amsk who has been plotting to take over Mode Magazine.

We’re happy that Rebecca has joined a good show and that the uneven WB series “Pepper Dennis” is behind her. We think she’ll sparkle as the beauty with the heart of a beast.

And for those looking for a mini-poster for home/office, we offer this:

Rebecca Romijn

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The Cho Brothers fight back

Among the little practical jokes Erwin and Godwin Cho pulled on their fellow “Amazing Race” competitors, the one they particularly savor is the one they did to the Barbies.

Team Dustin and Kandice, who have been doing their own version of the blonde ambition tour during the around the world race, got a dose of the Chos while in Mongolia.

Seems the boys had packed some fake roaches for the trip and decided to drop a few in some shoes while D ‘n’ K were sleeping.

“You should have heard the scream,” says Godwin laughing.

Score team Cho.

By the way, if you go to the Cho brother’s Web site alittlekarma you can support their latest enterprise. The two are helping struggling artists by selling the work on the site and then donating a portion of the sales to do “small acts of kindness.”

“We’re good businessmen, but we aren’t artists,” Erwin says. “And the artists are good, but they may not be quite as good at the business part. So we make a good team.”

For the interview on the Cho brothers, go to my TV Website. If it isn’t at the top, scroll down for the archived columns and stories.

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