Archive for Cable

From X-Files to Californicator

David Duchovny’s back on series TV after he departed from the wildly popular Fox series “The X-Files” in 2002.

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He’s now on a series trying to cope through drugs, alcohol and sex in the Showtime series “Californication.” He plays a writer whose best-seller has been turned into a crappy sitcom. Now he’s facing a writer’s block bigger than a Hollywood actor’s ego, dealing with his girlfriend’s new relationship with another guy and their 12-year-old daughter testing her sexuality.

But don’t expect David’s wife Tea Leoni to appear on the series.

“We’ve always tried not to work together, mostly because she doesn’t want to work with me, ” he joked. “But I honestly can’t imagine anything creepier than watching people who actually have sex having sex on TV. It’s a funky feeling to act with your wife anyway.”

In the series, David may become the first leading man in a TV series who has sex with a minor.

“Two things I have to do,” David says in response. “Update my resume and call my mother.”

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Me ‘N Mary-Kate

So after Mary-Kate Olsen left the stage in her impossibly high heels and high-hemmed, big belted blue dress, she hustled away alone _ with me right beside her.

“Mary-Kate, can I ask you a little bit more about your character on `Weeds’? I asked.

Just call me the invisible woman, because she acted as if she was all alone.

She rushed out the front door of the Beverly Hilton, trailing reporters behind her. Her publicist told me that Mary-Kate “Wasn’t taking follow-up questions,” while Mary-Kate herself looked at me with those big Margaret Keane-painting eyes.

Geeze, it wasn’t like I was looking for diet tips from her.

Her bodyguards blocked everyone off as she jumped into a limo to be whisked away.

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Mary-Kate Olsen Goes to Pot

Yep, it had to happen.

Mary-Kate Olsen has gone to pot.

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Actually, the tabloid-headline-grabbing, rehab half of the Olsen Twins, has joined the cast of Showtime’s “Weeds” about a surburban mom who deals marijuana in order to make ends meet after her husband dies unexpectedly. The series returns in August for a third season.

And no, she doesn’t look any thinner than any other Hollywood actress, including the cast of “High School Musical.” But she looks a lot less healthier.

“(My character) is a good Christian girl,” she says of her character, who is a love interest for Silas. “With a twist.”

It’s the first time Mary-Kate has appeared in a role without her twin sister Ashley.

“It doesn’t feel that weird,” Mary-Kate told critics during the Showtime press conference in Beverly Hills during the summer TV critics press tour. “I’m doing what I love. And I do go on auditions by myself.”

As for creator Jenji Kohan, she looked in mock surprise saying, “I didn’t know she had a sister.”

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“Sopranos” fade out

Even the new HBO executives Richard Plepler and Michael Lombardo admit they aren’t really sure what happened at the end of “The Sopranos.”

While there’s been plenty of conjecture about what creator David Chase meant by the fade-out that made viewers believe their cable had gone out including that it referred back to an earlier episode in which Tony says when you die, everything just goes black, the executives admit they aren’t really sure what the ending meant.

Plepler says that he believes the ending said that here’s a guy who will have to lead a life of vigilance, always looking over his shoulder, always worried about when somebody’s going to pull the trigger on him.

And Lombardo?

“I don’t know because my TV went out,” he quipped.

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“Sopranos” ends with a ratings bump

Obviously, TV critics and media types cared more about the series finale of “The Sopranos” than most viewers.

Although “The Sopranos” ended its run with a season high of 11.90 million viewers and 7.08 million viewers in the advertiser-friendly demo of 18-49, it wasn’t the big jump you would expect from all the media hype that took place in the weeks before the series ender.

Not since the fifth season of “The Sopranos” has the mob drama grabbed so many viewers. It was the largest audience in total viewers since the fifth season premiere in March 2004, when 12.14 million viewers tuned in.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that “The Sopranos” had been rapidly losing viewers in its final years. With an average of only 8.23 million viewers, this final seventh season has been the lowest rated since season two.

Long delays between seasons, including an almost two-year lapse from seasons five to six, hurt the show in later seasons.

“The Sopranos” started slowly, averaging 3.46 million viewers when it premiered in January 1999. Season two averaged 6.62, season three 8.87; season four 10.99; season five 9.80 and season six 8.92.

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Did Viewers Get Whacked?

When Bay Area critics were giving predictions on how “The Sopranos’’ would end during a podcast this past week, I said “Quietly.’’

But I didn’t expect silently.

Written and directed by creator David Chase, the series came to an end after 8 years, 86 episodes and 18 Emmy Awards not in a hail of gunfire, not with mobster Tony Soprano dragged to jail, but with a blank screen.

Which probably made most people across America watching wondering if their cable and/or power went out just when they were going to learn the fate of their favorite mobster.

These days, viewers are used to dramas posing questions to string us along while we ponder if saving the cheerleader will save the world or if an island is really purgatory for plane crash survivors. Sometimes a drama is just a drama, and there is no real mystery to solve.

In expert fashion, Chase gave us a finale filled with juicy tidbits. Tony is out in the backyard raking leaves when he hears the sound of ducks. He looks above his head, but he and we see nothing.

Like the cat the crew adopts _ Paulie calls felines “snakes with fur’’ _ Chase toys with us in one of the funniest “Sopranos’’ episodes ever penned.

Classic Chase took us to a wooded area with the suicidal Anthony Junior parked with his girlfriend, the equally unbalanced high school junior/fashion model. We fear they are about to do each other in, but instead they were just there to do each other.

Except the car catches on fire and a $30,000 SUV plus some woodland goes up in flames. We spend some quality time with Tony and Carmela lecturing their son on his stupidity and almost forget we’re there to find out if Tony dies or goes to jail.
Traditionally, Chase likes the penultimate episode in a season to be the one that packs the biggest punch. The season finale generally has the characters reflecting the ripples felt in the aftermath.

Chase gave viewers some wonderful action moments last week, with plenty of bloodshed including Tony’s brother-in-law and crewmember Bobby getting gunned down in a train store and his right-hand man Silvio going out in a slow-motion shootout.

After the hit, the denizens of the Bada Bing came out in the glaring sunshine for the first time and then marveled when a passing motorcyclist went crashing down the street. Classic.

When last we saw Tony, he was holed up with the gang, the gun Bobby gave to him for his birthday clutched in his hands ready to go out in a blaze of glory if need be.
But it never came to that.

While trying to broker a peace between the warring families, Tony has to contend with a son who wants to join the Army and save the world. With Dr. Melfi exiting last week as his therapist, he seems to be bonding with son A.J.’s counselor much to the disgust of wife Carmela. In Sopranoland, all the therapist are beautiful women who speak in measured tones and wear short skirts showing off their great gams.

Meadow has decided to follow in her mom’s footsteps by marrying a mobster’s son and soon A.J. has bagged his idea of serving his country and eventually becoming Donald Trump’s helicopter pilot in favor of making a movie with his dad’s backing.

And Tony has a meeting with his legal counsel who tells him it’s 80 to 90 percent sure he’s going to get indicted for crimes he committed. But that “trials were made to be won.’’

It would seem that those who bet Tony would be going to jail in the finale had won.
In the closing moments of the finale, the family arrives one by one in a diner for dinner. The tension builds. Tony, the first to arrive, chooses “Don’t Stop Believing’’ from the tableside juke box. In the background, different people start arriving. A man in a baseball cap, looking just like the hit man who took out Phil Leotardo and others, walks in.

Maybe he does die. Maybe the entire Soprano family gets wiped out in a bloody hit. Our pulse is quickening.

Other men arrive. Are they federal agents working undercover? Are they other hit men?

We are reminded of the FBI agent who warned Tony of the contract being put out on his crew last week by New York mobster Phil. In the finale, the agent tells Tony where he can find Phil.

When he learns that Phil has been killed (shot after exiting a Ford vehicle carrying his baby twin grandchildren, which then rolls over his head while their frantic mother tries to get them out), the agent says, “Damn, we’re going to win this thing’’.

Does winning mean Tony’s toast?

In what looks like an homage to “The Godfather,” one of the guys we suspect is a hit man heads for the restaurant’s Men’s Room. The same place Michael Corleone went to get a gun out of the toilet to whack the two mobsters having dinner in THAT restaurant who had taken out his dad the Don.

Our toes are curling, our nails are in the sofa’s arm rest. Who will get to Tony first?

We don’t know. All we know is that after bumbling parallel parking while the tension became excruciating, Meadow sprints towards the diner door, Tony looks up and darkness falls.

Was there a hit? Was there an arrest? Or did the family have a nice meal of onion rings and conversation?

We’ll never know. And that, my friends, is why “The Sopranos’’ is the best drama ever.

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“Sopranos” spoiler

Sometimes I look at spoilers, other times I don’t.

One thing I never want to do is to spoil the viewing experience, especially people who have invested years into a series like “The Sopranos.”

Even I don’t want to know.

Yet, right there in my email today was a message from an actor eager to boast about the role he plays in the series finale of “The Sopranos” tonight.

Character actor Peter Mele says he steps into the fray in the epic series finale in a pivotal role.

And then he tells us what that role is, which pretty much seems to tell us what happens in the finale.

Thanks a lot Mele.

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Celebs televise face-lifts

Let’s put this under the category of too-much-information.

Aging rocker Gene Simmons of KISS fame and his common law wife Shannon Tweed have decided to do dual face-lifts and bare it all in the new season of “Gene Simmons Family Jewels,” premiering with back-to-back episodes at 9 p.m. March 25 on A&E.

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Could this sound any more pathetic?

Well, let’s go on. Viewers get an “uncensored” look at their plastic surgeries from pre-op to post-op, including the couple’s long road to recovery.

According to today’s press release, the new season will show whether Gene and Shannon can continue to be “Happily Unmarried” after more than 20 years together, Nick preparing to leave for college, Sophie fast becoming a young lady, and Shannon’s determination to have another baby – “all while Gene is living the life of a Rock God.”

Rock god? That ship has sailed, my friend.

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Baby talk with Alexandra Pelosi

Bay Area native Alexandra Pelosi did a whirlwind trip from New York to Pasadena to meet with TV critics about her documentary on evangelical Christians, “Friends of God,” which debuts on Jan. 25 on HBO.

“Am I a bad mother?” Pelosi asks after she finished her session, clearly conflicted about leaving her 8-week old baby at home. “This is the first time I’ve ever left him.”

We don’t really think he’ll remember.

Pelosi’s the daughter of California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, who became the first woman Speaker of the House, and therefore second second in line to be President of the United States if anything happens to President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

It’s the closest any woman has ever come to the office of president of the United States.

Pelosi says the spotlight has clearly been on her mom, so she decided to do something nice for her dad and named her son Paul after him.

“He deserved a little recognition too,” Pelosi, who looks way too trim for a woman who recently gave birth, says.

In her session earlier, Pelosi told TV writers that it may be hard to believe, but when she gets together with her family they don’t end up talking politics or documentaries.

It’s all baby talk these days.

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Runway gives way to chef

“Project Runway” ends for the season, but “Top Chef” is ready to heat things up.

But first, a little “Runway” chatter.

Last night, Laura tattled on Jeffery for using people to do his sewing for him. Jeffery said only that he had some people do some pleating for him. Which, is legal, as long as he has the receipts for it. (The were given $8,000 to do their collections and have to provide receipts for every penny paid out.)

We think everything will turn out for Jeffery, but who knows? Did he collapse into Uli’s arms (as seen in the previews for Wednesday’s finale) because he was relieved or grief-stricken?

And just how grossed out were we all when Laura’s son offered our dear Tim turtle poop? We were not amused.

Anyway, Nick Verreos, of ‘Project Runway’s‘ second season, designed a limited edition apron to celebrate the third season finale of Bravo’s ‘Project Runway’ (10 p.m.) and the second season premiere of ‘Top Chef’ (11 p.m.), both airing back-to-back on Bravo Wednesday, October 18.

‘Top Chef’ moves to its regular 10:00 p.m. timeslot on Wednesday, October 25.

“I love the show and thought this would be a fun ‘challenge,’ even though I don’t even cook–I order out! I could just see my friends saying, ‘When are YOU going to ever use this apron?’ Well, whenever I get on the phone to order out,” Nick says. “I wanted to design a unique apron that wasn’t your mother’s old apron, so no silly sayings like ‘Blame the Cook,’ or cheesy food graphics like a turkey or fruit. I wanted it to be the hip apron. The end result was this white apron with colorful graphic suspended knives and the word ‘Chop!’

The limited edition Apron will be available on for $40.00 starting October 18.

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