Baseball Toaster Screen Jam
Monthly archives: December 2007


50 ... And Counting
2007-12-31 08:25
by Jon Weisman

On Friday, I saw my 50th movie of the year. Notwithstanding the fact that it was a matinee of Alvin and the Chipmunks, I thought it worth mentioning. Still, there are a number of movies I feel I'd like to see before I close the book on the 2007 film year. Won't get to them all, but here they are:

3:10 to Yuma
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
Across the Universe
Becoming Jane
Charlie Wilson's War
I Am Legend
I'm Not There
King of California
Sweeney Todd
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
The Band's Visit
The Darjeeling Limited
The Great Debaters
This Is England
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Films I have seen in 2007:
Continue reading...

Apparently, They Do
2007-12-19 15:02
by Jon Weisman

In this ad (excerpt shown), MTV brags about its ability to turn pre-teens on.

Will Jamie Lynn Spearsí Pregnancy Be the Most Watched in U.S. History?
2007-12-19 10:31
by Jon Weisman

Personally, I'll be paying more attention to my wife's, and I realize there's a huge swath of people that, like me, could not care less about Jamie Lynn Spears – assuming they know who she is.

But it strikes me that a perfect storm of tabloid frenzy is brewing: a teenage, photogenic-enough kids' TV star and little sister of America's most-scrutinized walking-and-talking car crash having a child. It's like a real-life, unsavory version of Juno, enabling everyone from TMZ to The View to even the New York Times, I imagine, to talk about the issues.

Tread the media carefully, friends. This story is going to seep out of their pores.

Now, the question is, what currently holds the record as the Most Watched Pregnancy in U.S. history?

The Extras Finale: Genius
2007-12-16 23:19
by Jon Weisman

With hilarious moments involving sandwiches, ringtones and Clive Owen, as well as eviscerating moments courtesy of Ricky Gervais, Extras wrapped up in high style.

Golden Globe Nominations Announced
2007-12-13 06:33
by Jon Weisman

Take a gander:

Feature drama
American Gangster
Eastern Promises
The Great Debaters
Michael Clayton
No Country For Old Men
There Will Be Blood
Comment: Saw all but "Great Debaters" so far, liked them all, loved none completely. Right now, I'd lean toward Atonement or No Country.

Feature musical or comedy
Across the Universe
Charlie Wilson's War
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Comment: Though I plan to see all, I have only gotten to Juno.

Feature drama actor
George Clooney - Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood
James McAvoy - Atonement
Viggo Mortensen - Eastern Promises
Denzel Washington - American Gangster
Comment: Liked them all, but go with Lewis.

Feature drama actress
Cate Blanchett - Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie - Away From Her
Jodie Foster - The Brave One
Angelina Jolie - A Mighty Heart
Keira Knightley - Atonement
Comment: Christie's performance is the one to go with over the other two I've seen, Jolie and Knightley.

Musical or comedy actor
Johnny Depp - Sweeney Todd
Ryan Gosling - Lars and the Real Girl
Tom Hanks - Charlie Wilson's War
Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Savages
John C. Reilly - Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Comment: I'll go with Hoffman over Gosling for now - only two that I've seen.

Musical or comedy actress
Best Actress, Comedy/Musical
Amy Adams - Enchanted
Nikki Blonsky - Hairspray
Helena Bonham Carter - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Marion Cotillard - La Vie en rose
Ellen Page - Juno
Comment: I guess you have to take Cotillard, though I enjoyed the performances of Page and Adams more.

Tim Burton - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Ethan Coen and Joel Coen - No Country for Old Men
Julian Schnabel - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Ridley Scott - American Gangster
Joe Wright - Atonement
Comment: Wright wins for me here. I actually think what he did was more impressive than what the Coens did. Schnabel certainly gets a look. Only one on the list I haven't seen yet is Sweeney.

Diablo Cody - Juno
Ethan Coen and Joel Coen - No Country for Old Men
Christopher Hampton - Atonement
Ronald Hardwood - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Aaron Sorkin - Charlie Wilson's War
Comment: Hmm. I've seen the first four, and it's a very tough choice. Gonna hold off for now.

The Bee Movie
The Simpsons Movie
Comment: Didn't love Rat as much as the others, but it's the winner here.

Foreign-language film
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
The Kite Runner
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Lust, Caution
Comment: I hear great things about 4 Months and Persepolis, but for now, I have to go with Diving Bell
in a close race over Lust.

Original score
Into the Wild
Grace is Gone
The Kite Runner
Eastern Promises
Comment: Atonement for me.

TV comedy
30 Rock
Pushing Daisies
Comment: Where is The Office? I'm boycotting.

TV comedy actor
Alec Baldwin - 30 Rock
Steve Carell - The Office
David Duchovny -- Californication
Ricky Gervais - Extras
Lee Pace - Pushing Daisies
Comment: I'll take Carell a sliver over Gervais and Baldwin. All three are tremendous.

TV comedy actress
Christina Applegate
America Ferrara
Tina Fey
Anna Friel
Mary Louise Parker
Comment: I only watch Fey and Friel regularly ... love 'em both, but I'm willing to give this to Ferrara.

More to come ...

2007-12-12 21:12
by Jon Weisman

Its members might be on strike, but the Writers Guild did a nice job with its 2008 WGA Award nominees.

Drama: Dexter, Friday Night Lights, Mad Men, The Sopranos and The Wire.

Comedy: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, Flight of the Conchords, The Office and 30 Rock.

Golden Globe nominations come Thursday morning.

Flashback: 2006
2007-12-11 21:55
by Jon Weisman

Little Children is on TV now. Still better than anything I've seen this year.

Many have pumped up 2007's films, but I'm still waiting for one that tops my top five from last year: Little Children, United 93, The Last King of Scotland, Letters from Iwo Jima and The Queen, not to mention Pan's Labyrinth, which I saw just this summer.

Maybe Into the Wild fits in there, but nothing else. There are a number of films this year that I've liked, liked a lot, but they didn't blow out my heart like last year's did.

The Last Extras
2007-12-11 10:15
by Jon Weisman

The special series finale of Extras premieres on HBO on Sunday. Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune has a fine interview with series co-creator Ricky Gervais.

Friday Night Lights Goes Dark
2007-12-07 22:05
by Jon Weisman

Still more episodes to come in January, writes Alan Sepinwall, whose take on the show dovetails with mine.

I struggled with Landry's struggle, but boy, am I going to miss the show when it's gone. Thank goodness we get a few more, especially with talks between the Writers Guild and producers collapsing again.

Atonement: A Pleasure
2007-12-07 08:07
by Jon Weisman

Atonement has the rich look and wide scope of a traditional best picture candidate, but it is hardly a traditional film. It's a complex story told rather brilliantly by Joe Wright, using Christopher Hampton's adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel. James McAvoy is spot on, Keira Knighley is luminous if slenderiferous, and supporting actresses Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai and Vanessa Redgrave all capture the inherent conflict of their character.

The only thing the movie was missing for me was heart-stopping tension. It strikes me as more about how people react to crises, rather than building up suspense before the crises happen. (I floated the thought that it might be the world's grandest, richest Three's Company episode ever, though of course that's a demeaning and inadequate summation.) It didn't have me on the edge of my seat the way much of Into the Wild did, for example, where even though you knew how the movie would end, any given situation would raise the question of how Chris McCandless would get out of it. Atonement isn't suspense-free, but that isn't really the movie's aim and to some extent, I missed that. I wanted it to rip at my heart more.

Still, I read the book a couple of months ago and though the film necessarily races through some of its events and leaves others out, it's a strong adaptation, augmented by the simply beautiful look. It doesn't capture all of the characters' inner turmoil, but it represents it fairly well. There's a brilliant aspect to the score that I don't want to give away - but suffice it to say, if it's worth keeping a secret about, it's good. I think readers of the book will be exhilarated by it, rather than disappointed as so often happens.

I don't know that Atonement should or will win the Oscar, but a nomination certainly seems deserved. I definitely recommend it.

Fall TV's Failings
2007-12-06 15:19
by Jon Weisman

Strike or no strike, the fall TV season has been a disappointment, as I quickly blog for Season Pass at Variety.

Juno Overcomes Unsettling Start
2007-12-05 09:55
by Jon Weisman

Juno starts off with dialogue so precious and seemingly contrived that I feared I was in for a depressing ride, but that's just a facade. In truth, the film could hardly be more sincere about its subject, ultimately evolving in a subtly cunning way. By the end, I found it rich and touching, in the good sense.

Ideally, all parts of the movie would be perfect, but assuming you're in for the whole picture, it's less important to start strong than finish strong, don't you think? And in the months since I first saw the film, I've come to think that the overarching dialogue at the film's start was designed to be slightly offputting, to set up a character still learning that wit is cool but insight and understanding even more so.

I've had a couple of Juno-related pieces at Variety lately: a short interview with director Jason Reitman, and a longer piece on the many films this year relating to pregnancy.

CBS Eyes Showtime Programs
2007-12-04 21:24
by Jon Weisman

From Josef Adalian at Variety:

Insiders said "Dexter" -- with its crime theme -- would be a good fit with CBS' cops-and-robbers sked.

Another possibility would be "The Tudors." It would be ironic if that show ended up on CBS since the skein was originally developed for the Eye before Showtime snapped it up.

CBS would edit the Showtime skeins to conform the broadcast net's standards and practices. ...

The WGA Takes the Heat for SAG
2007-12-04 09:32
by Jon Weisman

Let union firebrand Justine Bateman explain why (from Variety):

Several SAG board members, such as Frances Fisher, have noted that the WGA's taking the heat for what should have been SAG's battle. They're still perturbed over the 2004 decision by SAG's national board, led by then-president Melissa Gilbert, to agree to a one-year extension of its deal -- which delinked SAG's expiration date from the WGA's and placed it in sync with the DGA's.

SAG board member Justine Bateman recently issued a widely distributed email asking actors to spend at least an hour a day on the lines.

"Ultimately, this is our strike," she wrote. "If the WGA had not called this strike, we would all be participating in massive stockpiling. Then, in June, when our contract expires, the AMPTP would have offered us the no-gains-play-your-work-for-free-and-how-bout-some-rollbacks offer we're now familiar with. And SAG would have to go on strike, but because of the stockpiling, we would have no leverage."