Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Late Shift II

In "The Critics Notebook" today in The Los Angeles Times, Mary McNamara unravels what the NBC decision to move the line-up cards around means for late night television and more importantly the future of television drama it meant to replace. How many late night hosts are too many?

Mary was a guest on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 as the news broke and look for her on the terrific CBS Sunday Morning Jeff Greenfield interview (we will update when we have the air date). Why shouldn't the television critic show up on tv once in a while even if they write for a newspaper?

"This is all assuming, and desperately hoping, that NBC doesn't lapse back into madness and jam 10 p.m. with reality shows, which it may have to if reported plans to boot the Leno show in March are true. Yesterday, as critics across the land high-fived each other with grateful glee, the poor beleaguered worker bees at NBC no doubt crowded into one office or the other wondering what exactly they were going to put on at 10 p.m. Sure, they may have recently ordered up a slew of new pilots, but currently the Cupboard. Is. Bare."
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The Little Spy Comedy That Could

As it enters its third season, NBC's "Chuck" is the little spy comedy that could, saved from cancellation by fan protest, Subway and the sheer force of creators Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak's wills.

If only any episode of the actual show were as tense and intriguing as the struggle to keep it alive.

I say this with love, because I like "Chuck," in no small part because it is one of a handful of shows I can watch with my children. In many ways "Chuck" is precisely the show many Americans say they want. A clever conceit -- Zachary Levi's titular character is an underachiever suddenly turned into a reluctant super spy -- buoyed by sharp, funny writing and an able cast with an unapologetic PG rating. The violence is kung fu-light, sex is kept mostly in a state of hopeless longing, there is no swearing, no pathologies, nothing more un-PC than the mildly nationalistic tendencies of "real spy" John Casey (Adam Baldwin)."
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Star-Packed "Cranford" Returns To PBS

Fans of Cranford will get a star-studded "Return To Cranford" from PBS. Mary reviews in the Los Angeles Times.

Full of as many frilly bonnets and quaint platitudes as fine performances, "Cranford" aired in 2007 in the U.K., where it not only was lauded by critics, it was a smash hit, averaging close to 8 million viewers for each of its five parts.

Imagine, just for a moment, 8 million Americans tuning into a period drama. HBO's lavishly awarded " John Adams" was quite happy with 2.5 million viewers for its first two installments, and AMC was over the moon when " Mad Men," more modern but still period complete with requisite headgear, hit a 4-million cume for its premiere."

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Starlet

Once upon a time a young reporter for the Los Angeles Times who was sent to the Cannes Film Festival and along with reporting news stories was asked to keep a diary. The diary became very popular and many who might never have a chance to go to Cannes or the festival felt like they were THERE! That reporter later wrote a book about the Oscars called Oscar Season: A Novel which was published by the glitzy Simon & Schuster publishing house and made an appearance on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list. It also came out in paperback and in the UK. It was full of the real life detail from behind the scenes.

Simon & Schuster has bought a second novel from our reporter friend (Mary McNamara of course) which involves our heroine Juliette from Oscar Season who has escaped to Italy leaving her life in Hollywood far behind. Juliette might have thought she was going to get away Hollywood, but Hollywood is everywhere and soon she is saving a strung out starlet from self-destruction in the wake of her co-star’s death by overdose (or was it?). Before you know it, the filmmakers have descended on her Tuscan estate, where sex drugs and death is the order of the day.

We hear it is called The Starlet. Bellisimo.
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Oscar Season Now In Trade Paperback $14.00

The classic mystery novel and today’s paparazzi coincide in this engaging, insider’s look at Hollywood in the weeks leading up to the Academy Awards.

She is one of the very few reporters allowed to witness pre-telecast rehearsals and for years has covered Oscar night from the celebrity side of the red carpet and backstage during the show.

A recent recipient of an L.A. Press Club and American Association of Features Editors Awards for her industry coverage, she has interviewed innumerable stars and directors, and used her experience to craft this deliciously entertaining whodunit.

Wide audience: This novel will fascinate the many readers captivated by Hollywood and the celebrity lifestyle, while also appealing to mystery devotees and fans of smart, entertaining women’s fiction. It’s equal parts Jackie Collins, Michael Tolkin, and Sue Grafton.