Thursday, September 27, 2007

Never Judge A Show by It's Pilot: Back to You. (CLICK PODCAST)

My first impression of Back to You is that this show should be good because you have a winning team in front of the camera (Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton) and behind the camera (James Burrows). I also have two questions or concerns about the show since it takes place in a fictional TV newsroom. First why are they doing a "behind the scenes" show? I have heard from many people who work in television on both the creative and business ends (Don’t ask me to name names) and all say, “The Networks do not want "behind the scenes" shows”. I would think especially in light of the lack of an audience for last season's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip everyone would stay away from "behind the scenes" shows. I am also curious if the fictional news program in the show will be covering topical stories like they did on Murphy Brown or will they be detached from current events like they were on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

I watched the pilot. I have to say that I've already seen this. I was hoping for something more comparable to Murphy Brown or The Mary Tyler Moore Show but instead this reminded me more of Good Morning, Miami, especially the Latina character Montana Diaz Herrera (Ayda Field). Celebrated news anchor Chuck Darling (Kelsey Grammer) returns home to the Pittsburgh TV station where he began he career. The back-story was nicely done with news clips including one on YouTube where Chuck Darling looses his cool. Darling is reunited with co-anchor Kelly Carr (Patricia Heaton), but emotional wounds run deep. Not only did they sleep together on Darling's last night in town, unbeknownst to Darling, they had a child together. The rest of the show is a collection of sophomoric one-liners and sexual innuendoes (It's on FOX, Duh!). There is a touching moment at the end of the episode when Darling meets his daughter for the first time but I expect better considering the talent pool in front of and behind the camera. I understand that some pilots have to spend a great deal of time on the premise and the story suffers because of it. I don't think that this is the case here, but I never judge a show by it's pilot.

I saw the next episode titled Fish Story. Chuck Darling receives a goldfish as a gift from station management. The gift symbolizes Darling being a big fish in a small pond. Darling over feeds the fish and it dies. Darling does not want Kelly to see that he killed a fish when he is trying to prove to her that he is ready to be a father. All through the episode replacement after replacement fish comically dies. Some of the jokes are laugh out funny and others are painfully predictable. Again the episode ends with a tender moment featuring Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton. Sophomoric one-liners and sexual innuendoes with a touching moment at the end does not a sitcom make. The sitcom bar has been raised in the last few years with shows like My Name Is Earl and The Office. Considering the talent pool associated with this show I am surprised to see the bar lowered.

To quote Ray Romano’s censored monologue at the Emmy’s, “Frasier is screwing my wife”.

PS: That line is tamer that many of the jokes on the show.

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Never Judge A Show by It's Pilot: K-Ville. (CLICK PODCAST)

My first impression of K-Ville, a cop show set in New Orleans two years after Hurricane Katrina, is that I applaud the effort. I have very high expectations for the show. I don’t want to see just another crime drama. I’m expecting to see something new and different. The creators of the show have an opportunity and perhaps even a responsibility to use their craft to show us the real world of the NOPD officers.

I watched the show. Visually, it is stunning as it is shot on location in New Orleans Louisiana. The episode begins with a flash back set two years earlier during the storm. Officer Marlin Boulet’s (Anthony Anderson) partner Charlie Pratt (Derek Webster) deserts him. Two years later Boulet has become fatigued from over work and is obsessed trying to return his city to his former glory. This causes Boulet to play by his own rules on and off the clock. Boulet now has a new partner Trevor Cobb (Cole Hauser), a soldier who served in Afghanistan and has a different idea on how to approach the job. With all his problems at work, things are just as bad at home. Boulet’s wife has had enough and plans to take their daughter and move to Atlanta. Officer Boulet’s civic pride may come off a little too self-righteous, but he truly cares about his city and will not tolerate others around him are leaving, stealing or profiting from the storm. Boulet’s old partner wants redemption for his actions during the storm. Boulet’s new partner also wants redemption for his actions during the storm. At the time of the storm it turns out that Cobb was in a New Orleans jail and managed to escape during the flood. Only Boulet knows his secret. I think the show has real potential and now that we know the premise I look forward to the next episode because I never judge a show by it's pilot.

The next episode opens with Cobb having a prison flash back. It then occurred to me that maybe the whole Cobb being an ex-con premise might be too much. Perhaps it would work better if Cobb were just an outsider who did not have the invested interest in the city that Boulet has and be more of a calming presence and the voice of reason. I think one lead character with excess baggage is enough. Besides the NBC crime drama Life already has a cop who spent time behind bars. But I digress. The episode involves a prison break and Cobb's special prisoner insight helps our heroes catch two of the bad guys but one gets away. If things weren’t complicated enough a jurisdiction dispute between the NOPD and a corrupt prison warden inhibits the police' investigation to find the third man. You knew political corruption would come in to play sooner or later.

I like the show and look forward to the next episode. I think that it is great that eighty percent of the show’s crew is from the local talent pool. I am curious what the people of New Orleans and the New Orleans Police Department thinks of the show.

To quote Marlin Boulet to Charlie Pratt, “Our rep's in the sewer, the pay sucks, crime is off the chart. But you finish your tour in the Middle East war zone and pop down here to be a cop. What's wrong with Cincinnati?”

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Alice Ghostley 1926 - 2007 forever Esmeralda

Alice Ghostley died Friday at her home in Studio City after a long battle with colon cancer. From 1969 to 1972, she played Esmeralda a witch who's powers were weak so she worked as the Stephens' housekeeper the on "Bewitched." She later played Bernice Clifton on "Designing Women" from 1987 to 1993.

Alice Ghostley was quoted saying, "I knew I didn't look like an ingenue. My nose was too long. I had crooked teeth. I wasn't blond. I knew I looked like a character actress. But I also knew I'd find a way".

I will always think of her a someone who made me laugh just by entering a scene way before she would do or say something funny. Good Night Alice

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The 2007 Emmy Winners

Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series: Jeremy Piven, 'Entourage'

Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series:
Jaime Pressly, 'My Name Is Earl'

Supporting Actor In A Drama Series:
Terry O'Quinn, 'Lost'

Supporting Actress In A Drama Series:
Katherine Heigl, 'Grey's Anatomy'

Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie:
Robert Duvall, 'Broken Trail'

Supporting Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie:
Thomas Haden Church, 'Broken Trail'

'Broken Trail'

Guest Actress In A Drama Series:
Leslie Caron, 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit'

Directing For A Drama Series:
Alan Taylor, 'The Sopranos'

Writing For A Drama Series:
David Chase, 'The Sopranos'

Variety, Music Or Comedy Series:
'The Daily Show With Jon Stewart'

Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program:
'Late Night With Conan O'Brien'

Variety, Music Or Comedy Special:
'Tony Bennett: An American Classic'

Supporting Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie:
Judy Davis, 'The Starter Wife'

Made For Television Movie:
'Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee'

Lead Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie:
Helen Mirren, 'Prime Suspect'

Directing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Dramatic Special:
Philip Martin, 'Prime Suspect'

Writing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Dramatic Special:
Frank Deasy, 'Prime Suspect'

Performance In A Variety Or Music Program:
Tony Bennett, 'Tony Bennett: An American Classic'

Guest Actor In A Comedy Series:
Stanley Tucci, 'Monk'

Guest Actress In A Comedy Series:
Elaine Stritch, '30 Rock'

Directing For A Comedy Series:
Richard Shepard, 'Ugly Betty'

Writing For A Comedy Series:
Greg Daniels, 'The Office'

Reality-competition Program:
'The Amazing Race'

Lead Actor In A Comedy Series:
Ricky Gervais, 'Extras'

Lead Actress In A Drama Series:
Sally Field, 'Brothers & Sisters'

Lead Actress In A Comedy Series:
America Ferrera, 'Ugly Betty'

Lead Actor In A Drama Series:
James Spader, 'Boston Legal'

Comedy Series:
'30 Rock'

Drama Series:
'The Sopranos'

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Jon Stewart, Keith Olbermann and me.

This time last year I wrote an article titled My first laugh post 9/11. I wanted to express what I felt on that tragic day and what I had to do as a comedian so I could go back to the business of being funny. What I wrote was from the heart. People either liked what I said or respectfully disagreed. No one ever questioned my sincerity. You can understand that I was very disturbed when I heard that John Gibson, on his radio show, mocked Jon Stewart during a discussion of Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky's August 9th column, Titled To save America, we need another 9/11. Gibson aired a clip of Stewart's remarks from the September 20, 2001 broadcast of The Daily Show and mocked Stewart for the emotional remarks he made shortly after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Gibson's executive producer (Angry Rich) called Stewart a “phony”.

At the end of the day Jon Stewart is a class act and John Gibson deserves to be Keith Olbermann’s "Worst Person in the World". To quote Keith Olbermann (August 14, 2007), "You've got a lot of damn nerve doubting the sincerity of anybody else's".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Luciano Pavarotti 1935 – 2007

Ariva Derche

Miyoshi Umeki

Miyoshi Umeki, the Japanese-born actress best known for playing Mrs. Livingston, the housekeeper, in the ABC sitcom, The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1969-1972), has died of cancer at the age of 78.

Bill Bixby had called her "the best actress I've ever worked with." She won an Oscar (first Asian performer to win the award) for her performance as the doomed wife of an American serviceman played by Red Buttons in Sayonara and later starred in the Broadway musical and the film version of Flower Drum Song.

Sayonara Miyoshisan

Tony Figueroa