Baseball Toaster Screen Jam
Transition Players
2006-11-28 08:56
by Jon Weisman

At, my latest is a feature on actor-directors:

Shooting perhaps the most emotional scene of potential Oscar nominee "Little Children," Jackie Earle Haley was drained. Take after take, each taking its toll.

Todd Field came over for a pep talk. Field, the "Little Children" director with a lengthy resume of his own as an actor, needed to bring all his experience to bear in support of Haley. Field put his arm on Haley's shoulder and leaned in.

"And he said, 'Better you than me,' " Haley recalls with a laugh.

In this year's Oscar race, there is no shortage of actors such as Field, Robert De Niro ("The Good Shepherd") and Emilio Estevez ("Bobby") who are quite happy to join longtime convert Clint Eastwood ("Flags of Our Fathers," "Letters from Iwo Jima") behind the camera.

While an acting background has never been a director's prerequisite, there seems little doubt that on-camera experience accelerated these directors' off-camera education. ...

* * *

Despite discouraging news that it employs both a voiceover and numerous forced analogies between love and baseball, My Boys, a half-hour comedy about a female sportswriter, debuts tonight on TBS with fairly promising advanced reviews. I'll be checking it out.

* * *

The former George Michael from Arrested Development, 18-year-old Michael Cera, is writing, producing and starring in a direct-to-web, "multiminute" series entitled The Good Life, reports Andrew Wallenstein of the Hollywood Reporter.

Gone in 60 seconds? Only at an absolute minimum.

"Shot mockumentary-style, Good Life follows Cera and Clark Duke as aspiring TV producers who are so convinced that they have the next big thing on their hands that they remain oblivious to the fact that they have made little progress getting their dream show made," Wallenstein writes.

If it's as good as the underrated The Good Life from the 1990s, it will be worth watching.

* * *

I haven't written about Heroes, but it is quite a fun show. I fear the hype surrounding it may get out of control, but the stories and pacing are really snappy and engaging. The only storyline that continues to leave me cold is the Niki-Jessica one, which I just find dull and unrewarding.

In the meantime, I'll agree with those who say that the highlight of Heroes is Hiro - Masi Oka.

One thing I look forward to each week: the cool way the show displays its episode title after the cold opening.

* * *

I missed an episode or two of The Nine after seeing the first month's work and was going to abandon the low-rated program, but found time over Thanksgiving weekend to see the two most recent ones, and they entertained me. But just when I think I'm back in, they push me back out. ABC has pulled the show off the air, and figures to burn off its remaning six episodes without producing any new ones, according to Michael Schneider of Variety.

2006-11-28 10:22:22
1.   Bob Timmermann
Hiro was shown to be a Tokyo Yakult Swallows in yesterday's episode. You've got to appreciate that.
2006-11-28 11:25:27
2.   Marty
I'm disappointed to hear that about the Nine. That was my favorite new show. I like it better than Heroes.
2006-11-28 11:27:17
3.   Jon Weisman
1 - Are you missing the word "fan?"
2006-11-28 11:47:50
4.   Voxter
I pretty much feel the same about "Heroes": it's entertaining, sort of a confectionary as compared to meatier fare like "The Office", "Battlestar Galactica" or "Veronica Mars", but still very cool and a lot of fun. I, too, find myself left completely cold by the Niki-Jessica storyline (every time they cut back to it, I find myself wondering what's going on with Nora Zehetner), largely because I find Ali Larter deeply unappealing. She always looks as if she just bit into a grapefruit to me. Apparently, most people feel differently; she seems to be the breakout star of the show.

I, too, worry about the hype getting too frothy; one of the show's major strengths so far has been an ability to take itself seriously at the same time as understanding that it is, at its core, a little bit silly. I can see a scenario in which it gets too impressed with itself and gets bogged down in melodrama. I like it because it looks cool, the people are pretty, and the story is neat. If it expects me to care too much about who's sleeping with whom in the future, I would bet that I won't. But I try not to worry about that. Seriously.

I was very pleased to see a "Back to the Future" reference in last night's episode. Combined with a very sly one at the end of the last episode of "The Office", that's two in two weeks on NBC. I sincerely hope to see more. "Back to the Future" rules.

2006-11-28 11:58:59
5.   Jon Weisman
4 - Nora over Ali any day.
2006-11-28 14:13:14
6.   Bob Timmermann
You can choose to insert any word you see fit.
2006-11-28 14:57:59
7.   Fletch
Any thoughts on DayBreak?

I really enjoy it.

2006-11-28 15:26:14
8.   Jon Weisman
7 - Haven't had any plans to watch it.
2006-11-28 23:55:27
9.   scarface
Jon, like you I find the Ali Larter character extremely boring. She is stereotypically hot though, so people will in general like her, and I don't change the channel :)

Unlike you, I find myself conflicted about the Hiro character - sometimes too much of a caricature. I guess the point is to journey with him in his metamorphosis or something like that, but I cringe at the hand-clapping scenes.

2006-11-28 23:58:06
10.   scarface
BTW, isn't Hiro in Scrubs too - the intern in the Lab, Anderson or something like that?
2006-11-29 07:19:00
11.   Benaiah
10 - He plays the lab tech, Franklyn.
2006-11-29 07:30:16
12.   Benaiah
7 - I watched "Daybreak" the first night because I had nothing better to do. At first it was all painful exposition setting up a premise that everyone already understood because a) we saw the commercials ad naseum and b) because we saw "Groundhog Day." However, by the end of the 2 hour special I was pleasantly surprised.

The show has tons of action natch, but there is a pretty compelling plot to go along with it. The show is basically a huge detective story where everyday the lead gets a new clue and hopefully gets a little closer to whatever huge conspiracy is behind the curtain. It is certainly not a great show, but I think it is pure magic compared to tripe like "the Nine" or any of the procedural shows. I also really dig that the format allows the characters to die in any given episode, so the self contained parts of the stories actually have a pretty high drama factor. I am not campaigning for everyone to watch the show, but I don't see anything better on Weds night (which during "Lost"'s vacation is the weakest night of television).

2006-11-29 09:36:14
13.   Voxter
12 - I wouldn't get too attatched. The show's ratings started out okay, but according to USA Today it shed almost half its audience by the last half-hour. Unless things change, it'll be gone come February.
2006-11-29 10:34:13
14.   Xeifrank
Sad news on the Wiggles front. vr, Xei
From: Yahoo News
SYDNEY, Australia - The hugely popular children's group The Wiggles is expected this week to announce the departure of its lead singer because of a serious illness, media reports said Wednesday.
2006-11-29 11:06:00
15.   Jon Weisman
That's pretty shocking, actually. Greg's the youngest Wiggle. He's 20 years younger than Jeff.

And yes, that is the most embarrassing piece of knowledge I have imparted on this site. Only thing more perplexing is that it was Xeifrank breaking the TV news.

2006-11-29 11:41:11
16.   MadMonk
I too got hooked on the Nine after abandoning it for 3 weeks only in time to hear it get cancelled. Not a big lost, however, since Daybreak is actually decent. Better than I thought it would be.

I think it can, however, grow frustrating if the story veers off too much of the murder mystery.

Don't watch 'Heroes' so I take your words on it, John.

2006-11-29 21:53:29
17.   Greg Brock
Xeifrank comes in with TV news.

I will prepare my frog-proof umbrella for tomorrow.

2006-11-30 11:52:25
18.   Fletch
DayBreak fell off a bit with lasts night's episode. Thought it lost its edge a bit.

It can't be cancelled on me though. I am still reeling from the cancellation of Kidnapped. I still don't know who the kidnapper is.

2006-11-30 19:03:27
19.   ToyCannon
If Heroes kills off a character I'm sure most of us are rooting for it to be the Niki-Jessica character.

Looking forward to tonights NBC lineup. Finally Scrubs is back:)

2006-11-30 20:59:21
20.   bhsportsguy
It obvious Jim has not told Karen about his past with Pam and that will be the thing that breaks them up in the end.

"Prison Mike" should win Steve an Emmy.

2006-11-30 21:49:06
21.   Voxter
20 - Yeah, I think there's going to be a Pam As Other Woman scenario. I mean, Karen's not dumb. And she's not Pam. Which puts her in the position of being smart enough to realize that the guy she's dating is still into Pam.

That said, this show consistently surprises me, so it could be something I never saw coming. Heck, it might never happen at all. This is certainly the first will-they-or-won't they relationship I've given a crap about since O'Connel & Fleischman on "Northern Exposure", and the reason for that is that it's been handled differently than any other I can think of. Not in its broad strokes, but in its finer details. So who knows.

2006-12-01 08:29:29
22.   Benaiah
21 - It is interesting that Jim has essentially reversed the dynamic of the show, as Pam is now longingly looking at Jim while he dates someone else. Clearly Jim has not forgiven Pam for rejecting him, so I feel that him now having his back to her at his desk is symbolic.

On the other hand he always plays things so close to vest that he ultimately reveals his true feels far more poigently than if he simply said something. Thus, Pam was thrilled when Jim pulled a prank on her because that was how they used to tell each other that they cared about one another. In other words, Jim is already cheating on Karen even if it takes five more episodes (or one super sized Christmas episode) to get there.

2006-12-01 08:34:14
23.   Benaiah
By the way, how great was that comedy block last night? My Name is Earl is watchable, but somewhat mediocre, but the other three shows are the funniest on TV (network TV anyway) and all of them were in fine form last night. If this comedy block ultimately falls apart it would be disastrous as there would be no excuses. This is the sort of presentation that shows are always complaining they don't get (though going against Grey's anatomy is rough) and if these shows can't make it then the networks might be gun shy about the vastly superior single camera format.
2006-12-01 15:34:17
24.   CanuckDodger
23 -- I disagree that Scrubs was in "fine form." I thought the episode was way below par for the series. So many visual gags fell flat -- the Blue Man Group thing, the Janitor tuning J.D. into a literal flag -- and putting a couple of the regulars in cheesy prosthetics was lame.

Fortunately The Office was excellent. That script was written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, of the original British series.

2006-12-01 15:54:30
25.   Jon Weisman
I thought Earl was good. I don't think Earl is deserving of Best Comedy awards, but it is a solid show. The Office was in fine form. I agree with Canuck on last night's Scrubs - it reminded me of many a Simpsons episode of the past decade - you want to laugh but you just don't all that much. Haven't seen last night's 30 Rock yet.

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