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Neil Patrick Harris: Emmy host we’ll love the most

Doogie Howser MD has come a long way.

Neil Patrick Harris, or NPH to his pals, has been building up a solid rep as comedy actor for years, but who knew he had some massive comedy chops as an awards show host?

Let’s face it, the Tony Awards lauding the best of New York theater isn’t exactly the kind of show you’d expect anyone under 40 to give a tweet about. But after NPH’s smokin’ stint as the host of the TV Land Awards, and of course his fame on How I Met Your Mother, people tuned in to see NPH in action.

And he didn’t disappoint. From quick quips to the final improvised closing number, NPH made Hugh Jackman almost disappear from our memory banks.

Now he’s set to host the Emmy awards this fall. Not that he has a tough act to follow after last year’s horrific experiment using deadly boring reality show hosts Jeff Probst, Howie Mandel, Tom Bergerone and Heidi Klum as the Emmy emcees. Lord, there isn’t enough beer in St. Patrick’s Day and Octoberfest combined to kill those memory cells.

Thank god we’ll have NPH, a guy who doesn’t mind poking fun at his own Howser beginnings. He kicked it with Harold & Kumar as they searched for a White Castle burger back in ’04. He played the role of Neil Patrick Harris, a drug-addled, hooker-addicted nut case and had so much fun he went for the sequel, Escape from Guantanamo Bay.

Remember when Harold & Kumar doubted his driving skills just because he was under the influence of hallucinogens?

“I performed an appendectomy at age 14. I think I can handle a few mushrooms.”

In the film, he also explained what the PH in NPH stood for, but you’ll have to check out the movie for that one. Of course it was a parody and a delicious one at that. There are few gay men who can pull off the womanizer roles like NPH.

In a recent chat with NPH, he said he’s eager to take chances like his role in Joss Whedon’s Web-tacular Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.

“I said yes before Joss even said what he wanted me to do. But when you are asked by Joss Whedon of all people to play the title character in a super villain musical, well you don’t say no to that,” NPH says. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. The music is so great. I still listen to those songs ad nauseum, and I was in it.”

So for fans and potential NPH fans, we offer up some great lines and moments with the man formerly known as Doogie.

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

“I say successful in that I achieved my objective. It was less successful in that I inadvertently introduced my arch nemesis to the girl of my dreams.”

“Oh, goodness. Look at my wrist! I gotta go.”

“I also need to be a little bit more careful about what I say on this blog. Apparently, the LAPD and Captain Hammer are among our viewers.”

“The world is a mess and I just need to rule it.”

“Texting. It’s very important or I would stop.”

The 2008 Tony Awards Host Highlights

“Chris Sieber. Please! Performing on your knees? Dude, that only works to win Golden Globes!”

“Take my advice. Cash in. Go Presidential. I can see the marquees now: ‘Barack of Ages.’ ‘Phantom of the Oprah’ — she’s almost the president. ‘Obama Mia.’ “

How I Met Your Mother – Barney Stinson Speaks

“When I get sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead…True story. I’m teaching Ted how to live. I’m like Yoda, only instead of little and green, I’m awesome and wear suits. I’m Broda, and tonight you’re going to use the force to get any girl in here.”

Ted asks if he has a cold. “I’m fine. My nose is just overflowing with awesome and I had to get some of it out.”

“This is going to be LEGEND — wait for it and I hope you are not lactose-intolerant because the second half of the word is — DARY!”

“Marshall, you’re no Lily. Lily is a diabolical puppet master, surreptitiously manipulating every situation to get exactly what she wants. She is pure evil, Marshall. You’ve got a good one. Hang on to her.”

“That’s what corporate America wants. People who seem like bold risk takers, but never actually do anything.”

“The only reason to wait a month for sex is if she’s 17 years, 11 months old.”

“Every Halloween, I bring a spare costume in case I strike out with the hottest girl at the party. That way, I have a second chance to make a first impression.”

“A girl is allowed to be crazy as long as she is equally hot. Thus, if she is this (indicates amount on chart) crazy, she has to be this hot. You want the girl to be above this line. Also known as the ‘Vicki Mendoza Diagonal.’ This girl I dated. She played jump rope with that line. She’d shave her head, then lose 10 pounds. She’d stab me with a fork and then get a boob job. I should give her a call.”

More lines? Drop a comment.

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Survivor’s Coach: Tall Tales or Truth?

In the words of fellow Survivor Erinn, who is this jackass?

Benjamin Wade, who prefers to be called Coach or more recently The Dragon Slayer, joins the list of some of the oddest people ever to play the game of Survivor, ranking right up there with liar Johnny Fairplay, nudist/tax evader Richard Hatch and lovable pirate Rupert Boneham.

Fairplay became one of the most hated players in the history of the show after setting up his fellow players by making them believe his beloved grandmother had died while he was on the show. Grandma, of course, was alive and kickin’. While we might forgive a little fudging when it comes to playing the game, there’s a limit to our tolerance for fabricators.

With his samurai hair style, tribal tats and self-aggrandizing stories, Coach has become the celebrity du jour of the water cooler set. He says he is the only person in America to have been taught some obscure Chinese martial arts, but it just looks like your basic Tai chi to me.

CBS even devoted a “Best of Coach” Web page on some of the man’s more outrageous antics.

But is this guy for real? Well, some of his claims check out, others don’t. He is a conductor for the Susanville Symphony and was a coach for the girl’s soccer team at the tiny Southwest Baptist University in Missouri, but is he the direct descendant of Pocahontas? Here’s the Top-Five Coach stories, including the most outrageous about overcoming a deadly pygmy attack during a kayaking trip down the Amazon. Feel free to add your own.

5. On a Web site devoted to Coach and his indie film producer brother Pete, they tell the story of the time Coach met Tom Hanks at a party and told him all about his kayaking exploits. Those exploits were incorporated into Hank’s 2000 film Cast Away. Allegedly. Maybe. No word from Hanks about that. But we do know that Cast Away fed into the development of Lost, so maybe Coach is also responsible for the hit ABC series. And we expect to hear soon about how he created the Internet.

4. Coach asks Erinn to put a black raven’s feather in his hair to honor his indigenous peoples heritage.”Very proud of that part of the family,” he confides in Erinn before telling her that when he was a surfer, his hair was blond so he didn’t “look like an Indian so much.” A bio on the aforementioned Web site claims Coach is a direct descendent of Pocahontas. We’re still researching that one. But we do know that his maternal grandfather founded a successful SoCal company called California Jig Grinding, which probably gave him the financial wherewithal to do some traveling.

3. Coach claims he set the world record (6,000 plus miles) for kayaking when he took his trip that included the famous Amazon adventure. Jeff Moag, editor of Canoe & Kayak magazine says “I can’t confirm whehter he paddled 6,000 miles solo or even if there are small cannibalistic people in Peru, although I doubt it. I can tell you that Paul Caffyn kayaked more than 9,000 miles in 1980 and 1981. So, no record.”

2. Coach gets his moniker from coaching soccer and most recently was the head socer coach for Southwest Baptist University. That was before Mr. Honesty lead the team to believe that he needed to leave them during their season for cancer tests. Coach had earlier been treated for a brain tumor. He says they jumped to the conclusion that was why he was leaving, because he couldn’t tell them it was to go film Survivor. The university was not happy when they discovered the truth, and booted Coach.

1. “Three people in the world know this story,” Coach says as the tribe gathers around the campfire. A military helicopter drops him off near the Peruvian border. Now, we’d believe he could contract someone to do this. It’s done all the time. But the military? Even with his claim of being able to pull some strings, it’s hard to imagine or swallow that your tax dollars go towards dropping Coach off for a fun trip down the Amazon. Was it karma that lead him to be snatched by pygmies, who beat him until he miraculously escaped their clutches? “It’s hard to explain the feeling of being stalked by another human being,” he says. Or the feeling of swallowing another Coach story.

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Big Bang Just the Tip of the Geek-berg

The Big Bang Theory set is just like walking into your favorite comic book store, jam packed with little toys and geeky guys.

Really funny geeky guys.

Each week, viewers tune in to one of the top two comedies on the air,
The Big Bang Theory
. They chuckle at the scary smart antics of roommates Leonard and Sheldon and their geek squad Howard, the nerd who’s always trying to score with the ladies and Raj, who turns mute around women.

Jim Parsons plays the anti-social obsessive-compulsive Sheldon, who is tolerated by his friends, and his sweet roommate Leonard. Sheldon’s a character who could be widely hated because of his abrasiveness. Instead, Parsons makes him sort of loveable, although you’d never want him to be your friend.

“I just want to say that no one ever says they are just like Sheldon. Everyone knows someone just like Sheldon,” the droll Parson says. “(They’ll say) I’m the Leonard of the group. I will even go with Howard, but no one ever claims to be just like Sheldon. And neither do I.”

As Johnny Galecki, who plays Leonard, quips “The math on that just doesn’t work.”

Geeks and nerd list have been widely circulated, especially in the last few years. You’ve always got the perennial favorites like Steve Urkel, Screech, Barney Fife and even Velma Dinkley.

But that’s only the tip of the geek-berg. Try a few of these current TV characters:

10. Landry Clarke (Jesse Plemons),
Friday Night Lights
> – The first season started with Landry and his best friend Matt Saracen as outcasts. While making the team may have boosted them a bit, Landry’s still the geeky guy trying to get the girl.

9. Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), 30 Rock – Liz lacks many of the social skills that define her as a geek. She’s a self-proclaimed nerd, who thought that people in high school disliked her because of it. Turned out that didn’t like her because she used her wit like nunchucks. And she’s obsessed with Star Wars. Enough said.

8. Lisa Simpson (Yeardley Smith) The Simpsons – Intelligent, plays the sax in the school band and is a vegetarian. If that’s not enough to tip you off, she also wears the same clothes year after year.

7. Larry Fleinhardt (Peter MacNicol) Numb3rs – Peter MacNicol excels at playing nerds, including his stint on Ally McBeal. But this is the ultimate geek role as the Cal Tech genius professor Larry, who is beyond awkward in any given social situation. Larry, like Leonard, wants more out of life than just the insular existence of your average nerd. So he has branched out by actually getting the pretty woman, at least for a short time, and becoming an astronaut (which allowed the actor to takes some time off for a role on 24).

6. Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness)
Criminal Minds
- She dropped out of Cal Tech (which is code for all things geeky and nerdy) to become a computer hacker (again, a career that screams g and n). She’s into massively multiplayer online role-playing game, or MOORPG, and works as an online crime analyst for the FBI.

5. Daniel Faraday (Jeremy Davies) Lost – This time traveling genius professor also has a problem with his social and interpersonal skills. Like, experimenting on a human, albeit willing, that resulted in tossing her into a coma. The professor has mommy issues and can’t quite connect with people, although he seems to want to give it a go.

4. Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette)
NCIS
– Goth girl often sleeps in a coffin, is covered in tats, yet she’s as sweet and good-natured as Pollyanna. And she’s also awesome in her job as a forensic scientist with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

3. Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi)
Chuck
– He’s the leader of the Nerd Herd, a guy set up by a former friend that resulted in getting Chuck expelled from Stanford. Stuck in what seems to be a dead-end job, his brain becomes a hot commodity after critical information is downloaded into his brain. Chuck’s smart,adorable and the ultimate geek.

2. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) Bones – Even beautiful women can be nerds, as proven by lovely forensic anthropologist known as Bones or Tempe. She doesn’t understand most pop culture references and is hyper rational. She sees relationships with the opposite sex as pleasurable experiences that don’t really need to be any more than that. Although intensely loyal to her friends, she tries to maintain a certain distance from humans in general.

1. Hiro Nakamura (Masi Oka)
Heroes
– Hiro is the geek’s geek, the ultimate nerd. He lives the life of a comic book hero, believing that good overcomes evil, and that he’s the Luke Skywalker of his generation.

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Geroge Clooney back in ER March 12

NBC won’t be saving George Clooney for last.
While no one is saying the C-word exactly, word has leaked out that Julianna Margulies will be making her appearance on the March 12 episode of “ER” with guest star Susan Sarandon. And where Margulies goes, her TV husband Dr. Doug Ross, played by Clooney, is sure to follow.
Clooney, the box office success story for “ER,” has been the subject of much speculation since the announcement that most of the original cast would return at some point this season.
Clooney was the big draw, with co-star Anthony Edward saying he thought Clooney would be crazy not to come back and do it because he had so much fun returning for his guest spot last fall. Edwards proved a tricky puzzle, given the fact that his character had died.
Producer John Wells has said that if he could come up with a story that “made sense,” then Clooney would probably come back. Then it was widely reported last month that Clooney had been seen filming an episode of “ER.”
The only question remaining was when the episode would run. That has been answered with the scheduling of this episode. The story centers on Surandon’s character, a grandmother with a tough spirit trying to cope with her grandson’s untimely death. There’s little information about how Margulies’ character, nurse Carol Hathaway, is involved in the case other than the fact that she will be featured in the episode.
Producers say the stories will be heating up in the march towards the series finale on April 2.

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Welcome to Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse

Imagine a world where there is no past and no future, where every day is different and exciting.

And all you have to give up is your memory, and perhaps a bit of your soul.

In the world of Dollhouse, beautiful people are rented out like boogie boards at a tropical resort and the tourists use them and move on. These blank boards get imprinted with your exact specifications for your unique needs and desires from a crack kidnapping specialist to the perfect girlfriend – then get wiped clean after the adventure ends, ready for their next assignment.

In between, these child-like creatures live in a carefully crafted environment, a lovely underground abode decorated in a heavily Asian influence of dark woods, fountains, koi ponds, spas, exercise rooms and a sleep room that whispers mindless calm.

“It’s supposed to feel organic, free and open. A zen loveliness,” Dollhouse creator
Joss Whedon
says as he gives a tour of the set. “You know, I read Shogun when I was 13 and never got over it. I’ve always loved that Asian influence.”

But looking down on this tranquil world is the sinister corporation overseeing the dolls. It’s a theme we’ve seen often from Whedon, who gained fame with Buffy, the Vampire Slayer before spinning off the vamp hit Angel, which had similar tones of corporate baddies.

Just looking at the lavish set, which cost close to a $1 million, makes you believe that Fox would never put this kind of money into a project without a substantial commitment to make it a success. But then, we remember the incredible space ship Serenity, built for Whedon’s last Fox series Firefly.

Only 11 of the 14 episodes produced for that series ever saw the light of TV tube, and not only ruined Whedon’s friendship with former production collaborator Gail Berman, who was then the head of Fox entertainment, but also made him shy away from doing any more TV series.

Initially, Whedon agreed to write the Dollhouse pilot plus six more episodes, but that quickly turned into a 13-episode order from Fox.

“At first I thought, great, I’ll make seven and then go on with my life, making movies again, but then it started tumbling over itself,” Whedon explains. “There was something completely organic about this experience, from that meeting with Eliza, and then my wife saying it sounded like a neat thing. I’m dealing with new people, and it just feels right.”

Although he did pause when he learned Dollhouse had been shifted from Monday nights to Friday – the ratings death zone where Firefly once was slotted.

“I’d had a bad experience on Friday. You might have heard about it,” says Whedon. “But I knew that was sort of just an instinctive reaction to something that had happened before. (Fox) made it very clear that this was a different agenda. They weren’t looking to stick us on a Friday, not promote us, and then expect us to be a huge hit instantly.”

Fox hopes that by pairing Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles with Dollhouse, the two sci fi shows starring strong sexy women will bring in the Friday night crowd.

Eliza Dushku, who played the anti-Buffy vamp slayer Faith on Buffy stars as Echo, a woman who made a mistake and now must pay for it by becoming one of the so-called Actives in the Dollhouse. But while most of the dolls have no knowledge of their former lives, Echo is starting to retain some memories after getting her memory wiped.

She’s assigned engagements by the mysterious and all-powerful Adelle (Olivia Williams) and has a handler named Boyd (Harry Lennix). Boyd is only slightly more moral than the science genius Topher (Fran Kranz), who imprints and wipes the actives. Former Angel co-star Amy Acker plays a physically and emotionally damaged scientist also working with the Actives, which include Sierra (Dichen Lachman), the closest thing to a friend Echo has in the house.

Meanwhile, FBI agent Paul, played by Battlestar Galactica’s Tahmon Penikett, tries to track down the Dollhouse operation to find Caroline – the woman who is now Echo.

The genesis of the story came from a lunch meeting between Dushku and Whedon.

“I literally just came up with the idea based on our conversation about her as an actress,” Whedon says of her ability to play so many different characters. “And she said that people expect her to be a certain thing, and I went, wait a minute. That’s the show.”

Every episode of Dollhouse is self-contained so anyone can drop in and enjoy the show, but there’s an underlying mythology to keep regular viewers hooked.

“There’s an engagement, a resolution and the arc story of Echo’s burgeoning awareness and the people around her,” Whedon says. “It’s sort of La Femme Nikita, but she won’t be killing people as often or as well, but that influence is certainly there. I have actually described this show as Alias meets Quantum Leap, where she gets into people’s lives and helps them and you never know from episode to episode what the tone is going to be.”

While Echo may be the almost perfect avatar, the emphasis going forward will be on the “almost.”

“Echo has glitches and flaws,” Dushku says. “She’s absolutely glitching and starting to become self-aware and the memory wipes aren’t entirely working.”

Whedon says viewers will get a lot of payoff this season. Paul will be hunting the illicit operation and won’t always be one step behind them.

“Every now and then, he’s going to come up against them in a rather abrupt fashion,” Whedon says. “He’s not going to be the reporter in The Hulk, always five feet behind.”

It’s been a while since Fox had a Friday night hit, back when The X-Files ruled the night, but the one-two distaff punch might be just the ticket to draw viewers.

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Spending Time on Mentalist Set with Simon Baker

Simon Baker‘s smiling a lot these days.

On the Warner Bros. set of The Mentalist, Baker’s relaxed and comfortable talking to the small group of reporters gathered on his home turf. It’s quite a departure from a few years ago, when Baker starred in another CBS drama The Guardian. Then, he came across as resentful and angry, much like the repressed and depressed character he played.

“(The Guardian) was a harder show emotionally, playing such a depressed character did rub off on me,” Baker says in his native Aussie accent. “I never thought I’d be the kind of actor who would be affected by the role that I’m playing, but playing it day in and day out, it does, yeah. But (Patrick Jane) is such a fun character.”

Baker says The Mentalist is all about entertainment.

“When I was doing The Guardian, I wanted to act and move people and move the world,” says Baker, 39, before breaking into a grin. “I was young.”

In the crime drama, Baker plays Patrick Jane, a man who used his powers of observation to become a celebrity psychic. When his wife and child are brutally murdered by a serial killer, he starts working with a special statewide police unit to solve crimes. While he deals with the devastating aftermath of that act and solves brutal crimes each week, there’s a playful spirit in both Jane and the show in general.

But the spector of the killer known as Red John is always there, and viewers learned recently that Jane spent time in a mental institution following the death of his family.

Creator/producer Bruno Heller says the show will stick to solving the crime of the week more than concentrating on that storyline.

“We won’t be going back to the institution much. With Red John, that’s always part of his journey, but we’ll go there sparingly,” Heller says.

The simple gray set looks like a basic office, except one wall filled with gruesome shots of a murder victim. Oddly enough, the office of Teresa Lisbon, Jane’s boss played by Robin Tunney, has not one but two doors. And in the break room, there’s an odd assortment of ads on the bulletin board including a cute picture of a horse for sale.

But the main draw on this set is the star of the show, Baker. He’s wearing gray herringbone jacket and a rumpled blue button-up shirt that looks like it’s never met an iron. On anyone else, you’d think Columbo. On Baker, he’s more dreamy, slightly eccentric, college professor with a killer smile.

“Most people under scrutiny don’t expect a policeman to be candid, genial and relaxed. If you are in a bad mood, and someone smiles at you, it’s infectious, and it can be a way to disarm a person,” Baker says. “I play around with that (as Jane).”

One of the charming aspects of the show is the easy relationships between the characters, which include Owain Yeoman as Det. Wayne Rigsby, Amanda Righetti as Det. Grace Van Pelt and Tim Kang as Det. Kimball Cho. And then there’s that sizzling connection between Jane and Lisbon.

“Some of it can be attributed to workplace banter. Also, at times it can be paternal and maternal and sometimes almost like siblings,” Baker says. “But I think my character is flirtatious just in general, so (the relationship) works on a lot of levels.”

As for Jane having something dark and twisty in his soul, Baker says dark doesn’t quite describe it.

“It’s just a painful place,” Baker says. “A sad, sorrowful place.”

And a vulnerable place that makes his character all the more intriguing, especially to woman eager to help him heal.

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Simon Baker and the Cute Crime Solver Crowd

For a tragic figure, Patrick Jane wields a wicked sense of humor.

It’s not just the dialogue on the CBS sleuth show The Mentalist, although that can be very funny at times. It’s more than just the snappy comeback lines, or the ironic observances that makes the character of Jane, played by the ubersexy Simon Baker, one of the most attractive characters on TV. Baker’s tousled blond hair and sly grin make him easy to love, but that sense of humor makes Jane irresistible.

Out in the real world, viewers live with financial uncertainty and professional perils, so spending some time with a cute crime-solver with a sense of humor seems like just the ticket out of dismal town.

And the ratings would seem to agree.

The Mentalist is the top rated new show of the season, making a regular spot for itself in the Nielsen top-10 shows. Crime shows have shoved their way into most of the top TV spots, especially if you stretch that definition to include Desperate Housewives, which always includes some murder mystery of the season.

CSI and even NCIS have passed ABC’s hit Dancing with the Stars in the ratings. The Mentalist consistently remains the highest rated new show of the season, running neck-and-neck with DWTS result show.

While The Mentalist ranks as our No. 1 crime-solver series featuring cute guys with a sense of humor, here, in descending order, are the shows that round out our top-10 list.

9. In Plain Sight – While the main character in this USA series about the witness protection program is a non-nonsense Marshal Mary, half the reason why we like it is her partner, Marshal Marshall (Fred Weller), the quick-witted, slightly goofy guy whose mind is a junkyard of facts.

8. Psych – In this USA series, you get not one but two cute young crime-solvers, Shawn (James Roday) and his buddy Gus (Dule Hill). While both The Mentalist and this series feature a guy using his amazing powers of observation to solve crime, this is a lightweight version. Shawn’s humor may lack sophistication (“Wow Dad. Tell me you’re wearing that shirt because someone has to spot you from space”), but he’s always good for a chuckle.

7. Life – If sardonic, dark humor is your thing, then you’ve got to love Life’s Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis).

6. NCIS – “What’s your clearance?” demands a military cop when Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) arrives on the scene. “About 6’1,” he replies. “Why? Do you have low ceilings?” Yep, that’s DiNozzo. Always quick with the quip, and a face that could make him a mint as a model.

5. Life on Mars – Cop Sam Tyler (Jason O’Mara) mysteriously gets knocked back in time after he’s hit by a car, so most of his humor centers on living in a time not his own. And he’s pretty good with the physical humor.

4. Bones – Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) loves making stupid jokes, but mining the humor in this series about solving gruesome deaths has made this Fox series a popular viewer choice. And did we mention how cute Boreanaz is?

3.
Torchwood
- Who is our favorite hunk who fights crime throughout the universe and still has time to bring some humor into it all? Gotta be Capt. Jack (John Barrowman).

2.
Fringe
– Talk about stretching the crime show genre, but how can we pass up this season’s sexiest wise guy Peter(Joshua Jackson)? And he’s never better than when interacting with his crazy scientist dad Walter (John Noble). Hey, crimes are somewhat solved in the compelling Fox show.

1. And coming in at practically a dead heat to Patrick Jane is the
Burn Notice
boys Michael (Jeffrey Donovan), a former spy who now solves crimes as a P.I. and his buddy in crime-solving (Bruce Campbell), whose line “You know spies…bunch of bitchy little girls” is so good, it holds up repeatedly in the opening credits.

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Will Ferrell Talks George Bush, Eastbound & Down

Will Ferrell’s looking distinctly unpresidential in his 2009 New Year glitter glasses and flap hat.

The 41-year-old Saturday Night Live alum insists the glasses are prescription and he’ll be wearing them until he needs a new pair.

If anyone else went on this riff, you’d probably be yawning or checking out the latest iPhone app until it stopped. Ferrell not only makes it work, he also gets some solid laughs out of a room full of TV critics gathered to hear Ferrell, Adam McKay and
Danny McBride
talk about their new HBO deal.

Ferrell’s Broadway show, You’re Welcome America. A Final Night with George W. Bush, airs live on HBO on March 14. He’s also producing and guest starring in the HBO series, Eastbound & Down starring McBride (Pineapple Express ). And Ferrell and McBride team up in the upcoming feature film, Land of the Lost.

Ferrell’s first trip to Broadway has been a roaring success, and he caps off his run in March with the live performance of his show. Ferrell says it felt right to go live with the show after so many years of doing Bush on SNL.

Ferrell was first approached by Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels to play Bush when the Texas governor first started his presidential campaign. Ferrell said he agreed mainly because he never thought the gig would last more than a couple of months at best.

“(I thought) he probably won’t win,” Ferrell says.

Instead, Bush was voted into office not once, but twice.

“He just kept kind of gaining momentum in terms of his comedic persona (after he became president),” Ferrell says. “There’s been an incredible combination of some insane news events that he’s had to deal with and obvkously some poor decisions on his part. (Combining that) with his type of personality and the fact that he can’t speak properly makes for a wonderful kind of comedic stew.”

And a thick, rich stew it is. Ferrell latched on to Bush’s funky language skills, and brought the term “strategery” into the lexicon.

Ferrell says the beauty of the Bush Admininstration was tht it never lacked in comedic material from the very beginning of Bush’s bid for the White House

.

Bush appeared on SNLduring his first campaign in 2000 after Ferrell had already started his Bush gig. Ferrell was told that Bush and his staff were huge fans of his and Bush would love to meet him.

So he hurried down to the studio to meet the man who would become the president of the United States. Photographers pushed Ferrell into this circle of cameras and people and told him to say “Hi” to Bush.

As cameras clicked away, Ferrell nervously went up and thanked the Texas governor for doing the show.

“And I could just tell he had no idea who I was,” Ferrell says.

After more than eight years, Bush probably knows who Ferrell is now, and that he helped an already promising comic explode.

Ferrell says his favorite SNL Bush skit was “Palm Beach Nights,” written by McKay.

“It was about the vote recount,” Ferrell says. “And the final beat was George Bush playing with a cat toy on the sofa like a cat.”

Ah, good times.

But Ferrell isn’t just resting on his Bush laurels. He’s also producing McBride’s new HBO series, Eastbound & Down and makes a cameo appearance when it debuts at 10:30 p.m. Feb. 15. The comedy series tells the tragic tale of Kenny Powers (McBride), a disgraced former major league pitcher whose bad boy stunts got him kicked out of the bigs. After years of a downward spiral, where he’s lost all his money and torched all his bridges, he’s back in his small town childhood home trying to squeeze the last drop out of his former celebrity status.

He’s at the bottom of the social rung, teaching physical education at his old middle school in North Carolina.

In the series, Powers is given many opportunities to redeem himself.

“He’s in the moment, but he always chooses the path that will lead him further down,” co-star Ben Best, who also serves as a writer/producer on the show, says. “In each episode, he’s thinking this is the lowest a man can get. And then you’ll see it’s like, wait, this is the loest a man can get. And that will just continue.”

You can see where that kind of story would appeal to Ferrell after almost nine years of playing Bush.

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Making out with Anna Torv

There’s always the odd question popping up during the twice-yearly Television Critics Association Press tour in Los Angeles.

Even so, few expected someone to ask actress Shelley Conn what it was like to make out with Anna Torv, best known to American audiences as FBI agent Olivia Dunham on the Fox show “Fringe.”

Shelley’s here promoting her BBC America series “Mistresses,” a sizzling drama about four friends who met in college and whose lives have taken dramatic turns. But all have one thing in common: infidelity.

Jessica (Shelley) is a beautiful bi-sexual woman who engages in a hot romance with the character of Alex (Anna). After a bit of sophisticated stuttering, Shelley sort of went on about being professional and all that sort of stuff.

But she felt Anna certainly stepped up as an actress. And she plans on getting in touch with Anna while she’s here in L.A.

“Women watch the show, but men buy the DVD’s,” says creator SJ Clarkson. “I suspect they are lookng for the extras, but there aren’t any.”

The show premieres at 8 p.m. Friday Feb. 20 on BBC America.

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Patrick Swayze back in the hospital

Critics packed the small meeting room, ready to take a first hand peek at Patrick Swayze who is starring in the A&E series “The Beast,” premiering Thursday.
The actor has gone public with his battle with pancreatic cancer, a disease that offers a limited prognosis.
But minutes after the session began, A&E announced he had checked himself into the hospital with pneumonia. The producers said they think it’s just a bump (“We’ve had mornings like this before,” says a producer. “We follow his lead. We shoot when he’s ready to work.”).
All 13 episodes were already shot with Swayze.
The pilot was shot before the network discovered he had cancer, but was picked up after the news was released.
“He’s been an inspiraton for me. I can’t help by to respect him,” says co-star Travis Fimmel. “He’s an inspiration for me. He makes the little things seem so unimportant.”
He added that “the sickest thing about him is his jokes.”
The series is a cop show with Swayze playing tough guy Barker who may or may not have gone rogue. The pilot was shot around Christmas and then the network picked it up. Which was about the same time when Swayze checked into Stanford Medical.
The decision went around to stay with Swayze, who is giving the performance of his career in this meaty drama.
An A&E rep says that they took the added financial risk to work with Swayze and that another actor was never considered for the role. Which begs the question – what happens in the future with Swayze apparently .
A&E will run 13 episodes with Swayze in the lead. If they get picked up for a second season, they intend to continue with Swayze depending on his health.

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