Monday, September 11, 2006

Riff raff...

Since I'm in a mood to just riff....

What will be the first cancellation of the new TV season? You can’t wait to make your pick until you’ve seen the shows because the first few will be gone before anyone has. My guess: HAPPY HOUR. What’s yours?

Sight unseen – my pick for most promising new comedy: THE KNIGHTS OF PROSPERITY. Who among us hasn’t wanted to rob Mick Jagger ourselves?

I’d love to give Aaron Sorkin and David E. Kelley the same outline and see who writes the better script. Two things I know: they both will be brilliant and they both will be turned in the next day. The winner will be crowned our next Paddy Chayefsky.

I hope STUDIO 60 is a big hit and America doesn’t find it too inside. And I hope Tina Fey goes back to SNL when her sitcom goes belly up.

Article in EW about the new improved DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES. New writers. Fresh ideas. As an example they pointed to a scene where Eva Longoria’s character was faking having sex to make her husband in the next room jealous. It was complete with her screaming out in ecstasy and banging the crap out of a canopy bed. Real fresh except my partner and I wrote that same scene in 1994 for FRASIER – “Adventures in Paradise Pt. 2” (Frasier faking for Lilith’s benefit).

Last weekend saw the worst boxoffice results in three years. The studios aren’t blaming the lack of good pictures they released, it’s that they were competing against the Chabad Telethon.

Super positive buzz on the documentary THE U.S. VS. JOHN LENNON. It opens this week in selected theatres (I’m guessing not in Texas). A corrupt government trying to claim an outspoken critic is unpatriotic – are you getting a sense of déjà vu??? As long as there’s not too much Yoko (more than 1 1/2 minutes) I can see myself lovin’ this film.

I can not even be in a room that is showing THE VIEW. And that was BEFORE Rosie O’Donnell. The only show I’d watch with those hens on it is the CELEBRITY FIT CLUB.

Seven AMERICAN IDOL contestants are coming out with CD’s. My favorite is Kellie Pickler’s “I’m so stupid I don’t even know how to spell my name correctly” album.

And you’re lucky, Kellie. How’d you like your name to be Adewale Akinnoye-Agbaje? And that’s his stage name. LOST fans know him as Mr. Eko. (I know, Kellie, at least Eko is spelled correctly.)

LOST premieres Oct. 4th. Don’t miss it. Re-set your Tivo every 108 minutes.

Best thing on the radio this year: “IT” on XM. One by one they’ve gone through their decades channels playing EVERY song in every era. I could have lived without “I’ve been to paradise but I’ve never been to me” by Charlene but still!

In the worst lyrics ever category, some nominees from the 60’s – “Don’t Worry Baby” by the Beach Boys (“She makes me come alive and makes me want to drive”) and “Honky Tonk Woman” by the Rolling Stones (“She blew my nose and then she blew my mind”).

WGAw Guild members: Vote for Robin Schiff and David Goodman.

Sumner Redstone is becoming that old uncle who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt and needs to be locked in the basement.

More tomorrow...


Anonymous said...

You don't think "'Til Death" will beat out "Happy Hour" to cancellation? Have you seen the billboards?

Anonymous said...

Bravo's Brilliant But Cancelled website is running a contest where folks guess which new shows will get cancelled and in which order. It's called DeathWatch - Fall '06. Each week's winner gets a video iPod, and the grand prize is a 37-inch flat screen HDTV.
"Happy Hour" and "Men in Trees" are the leading contenders, but look at "Ugly Betty". Popular around the world but unknown here, a TERRIBLE title, and the worst possible time slot, opposite "Survivor" and "The Office!"
I see a certain B. Affleck just won the Best Actor Award at the Venice Film Festival over the weekend for playing George Reeves. I guess Italy doesn't know he's supposed to be a joke, and just went with his actual performance. For the record, I thought he was terrific in HOLLYWOODLAND, though Diane Lane steals the movie.
David Kelly couldn't wait around for you to give him a premise, and has already finished the script.

David J. Loehr said...

From TV Guide online, about the new season of Desperate Housewives:

"They've brought on some terrific new producer/writers with great comic chops, including Frasier pros Joe Keenan and Bob Daily"

Homage is the sincerest form of freshness.

Which is also why I'm voting for "Til Death" to be the first show gone. Question is, which Fox show will be the one this season that never even reaches the air?

Cap'n Bob said...

I love the song "Don't Worry Baby." The line you quoted isn't as bad as "Drink to me only with thine eyes, and I will pledge with mine."

Love the blog.

Anonymous said...

Today's riff has me depressed. Is there anything debuting this fall that is even remotely intelligent? Anything at all? Anything?

And while I'm depressing....I'm a fan of PTI, but either Tony Kornheiser is nervous, has nothing to say, or this is just another example of Eastcoast Sports Programming Network hype. MNF is boring.

By Ken Levine said...

Don't be depressed. STUDIO 60 is very intelligent. And if all else fails, LOST returns next month.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, one more thing. Yes, Ken, Charlene's I've never been to me" is the most insipid song of the rock era. But a candidate for runner up, in case Charlene cannot fulfill her duties...
Heart's All I wanna do is make love to you" from the late 80's. A small sample:

So we found this hotel,
it was a place I knew well
We made magic that night.
Oh, he did everything right
He brought the woman out of me,
so many times, easily
And in the morning when he woke all
I left him was a note
I told him
"I am the flower you are the seed"
We walked in the garden
we planted a tree"

Botany will never be the same...

Anonymous said...

I'm personally not a fan of Aaron Sorkin, as I've found every one of his shows to be preachy and sanctimonious. So, perhaps it's no surprise that I found Studio 60 to be... preachy and sanctimonious. That said, it's one thing when a fictional President is trying to manage situations where fictional lives are on the line. It's quite another when it's only a sketch that may live or die, and then to treat it with equal gravity.

I thought Tina Fey's show was actually funny (particularly Alec Baldwin), and that Men In Trees will be popular enough to eke out a "Providence"-like fan base. By which I mean older people and shut-ins. Anne Heche is actually very good in it.

'Til Death will not be cancelled before Happy Hour because it has Brad Garrett in it -- and for no other reason than that; it's not good. I think Happy Hour will probably be the first to go, if only because it doesn't have Brad Garrett in it.

Stephen Gallagher said...

I think "She blew my nose and then she blew my mind" was a cleaned-up version of the line for general circulation.

Anonymous said...

She blew my nose and then she blew my mind... that's cocaine and oral sex, amigo.

Dante Kleinberg said...

Just because the advance reviews for Happy Hour have universally declared it the worst show on TV (and it's not even on TV yet, is it?) doesn't mean it'll get cancelled.

Cited as references:
The War at Home
According to Jim
Yes Dear

Anonymous said...

My money is on "Happy Hour." It was awful and FOX is ax happy with sitcoms.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

"Don't Worry Baby" is a fine song! It's all about cars and sex - the two primary reasons for a teenage guy's existence.

Today, since I'm either still a teenager or just play one on the freeways, it's on my I-Pod along with 857 other wonders like, "Kung Fu Fighting" and "Surfer Bird." (I think I've lost my mind...)

When I was a kid in Burbank, I hung around KBLA where Roger Christian (who co-wrote "Don't Worry Baby" with Brian Wilson) worked as a DJ. I introduced myself as he was in the lounge reading the classifieds. I asked him what he was looking for. "Another Corvette," he said.

Now, THAT'S California/DJ cool.

Anonymous said...

Sorkin and Kelley are clearly great talents, but the next Chayefsky? I don't think that comparison would stand even in a David E. Kelley created courtroom.

Chayefsky was a giant who should only be mentioned along side of Horton Foote or Preston Sturges or William Goldman.

J.K. Rowling is a great writer, but she is far from this generations Shakespeare.

By Ken Levine said...

A couple of clarifications:

I like both of those songs, just find their lyrics goofy. And yes, I know Mick isn't talking about cold relief.

Teddy, you are right I'm sure. Guess I'm just thinking of the new lower-standard dumbed down America.

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna go against the favorite here and say that I actually like the setup for HAPPY HOUR. As soon as the writers learn how to use their actors appropriately, that show could have potential.

Am I allowed to pick a drama? Even though I actually didn't hate it, I'm going with STANDOFF. I think it will disappear quietly, despite the presence of Peterman.

Anonymous said...

Allow me to ask a question here regarding Chayefsky vs. Kelley/Sorkin.
I am not in the TV industry, do not know either Kelley nor Sorkin other than by their work. Why are neither considered in the same league as Chayefsky? Is it just a matter of time passing so that we have some perspective? SportsNight and West Wing were both great examples of American Television. Kelley's output is similar.

Anonymous said...

Ken -- I don't think it's America that's dumbed-down. I think it's the TV executives (and some writers...) who "think" America is dumbed-down and base their decisions on that "fact."

(Personally, I think we're all as stupid as generations past -- the only difference is, our stupidity is broadcast online for all the world to see 24/7.)

By Ken Levine said...

No, Julie, we've elected Bush TWICE as our President. We are dumbed down to where as a country we need help tying our shoes.

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Men in Trees -- will never get off the ground. Yeah, I suck at puns.

Anonymous said...

Guess I'm dumb, then. Although I only voted for Bush once.* Does that make me a half-wit?

* The SECOND time. Kills ya, don't it?

Anonymous said...


My husband just informed me that my first post implied that YOU are stupid -- and rereading it, he's right. I apologize. That wasn't my intent. I actually meant that everyone in the world with a computer can post their thoughts -- stupid or otherwise. I can see that it could read as an attack on you personally, and it wasn't. I actually think you're very smart. Unless you're calling me dumb. Just wanted to clear that up. Night!

By Ken Levine said...


Maybe I am dumb because I didn't read it that you were calling me dumb. Night.

Anonymous said...

Ken, you're smart. (I know you already suspected as much, but now it's official.)
Chayefski was a giant among ants, despite "The Hospital". (Okay, he won an Oscar for that script, so there's two schools of thought about it.)
But Bush was only elected once. However, that was after he'd served illegally for four years, so there is no excuse. We are getting dumber as a nation.

BrianScully said...

Hi Ken,
I really enjoy your blog. And speaking of David Kelley, if you want to read or watch Kelley at his darkest, best, try and find a copy of his ORIGINAL "The Brotherhood of Poland" pilot. It was for CBS a few seasons ago, and not the crap pilot that actually aired... check out the one that didn't. It was so beautifully dark and funny, if the network had not made him change it and water it down to what eventually aired, I would have been proud to work on that show for WGA minimums. It was truly brilliant and had the promise of a show unlike anything that had been on TV before. It was an eye opener to me, because with all the success and power that David Kelley should have had based on his past success, even he could not resist the death blow that the network struck his pilot. It was a real wake-up call to me of what a true miracle it is when a brilliant and different show actually makes it to air... case in point, "My Name Is Earl", which I think is a testament to the fact that Greg Garcia would not allow his pilot or series to be screwed up by the suits.

BrianScully said...

Ooops, almost forgot. I would like to second your endorsement of David Goodman for the WGA Board. Coming into what will probably be the most critical negotiations we have seen in the past 20 years, we're going to need smart, common-sense, working writers making decisions for us and David is someone who working writers can trust.

Anonymous said...

Worst song lyric of all time:

With an iron-clad fist, I wake up and french kiss the morning.
-- Bon Jovi, Bed of Roses

john brodey said...

Right on about Til Death. I saw the excreable trailers they're running and the funniest thing they can come up with is his wife saying she'll have sex with him if she can buy some patio furniture. Yikes! Even if they could have mentioned sex on I Love Lucy, the writers would never have stooped so low. All my kids get from this is that sex must be really hideous BETWEEN OLD PEOPLE.
I'm gonna miss Deadwood. Throw David Milch into that script off with Kelly and Sorkin.
The worst new show is on Fox and I don't know the name but it stars Michael Rappaport, whom I kind of like, but this is hideous. He acts like he's living in a frat house. Kind of like Porky's meets Father Knows Best. It's the first show that I've ever seen enough of to get physically ill.

ChrisO said...

I think Till Death will last because of Brad Garrett and the enormous promotion they've put into it, but it does get my vote as one of the worst sitcom titles ever.

VP81955 said...

the funniest thing they can come up with is his wife saying she'll have sex with him if she can buy some patio furniture.

Am trying to imagine Myrna Loy saying this to William Powell, even in a film where they're not playing Nick and Nora. No, I don't want to imagine it...the thought is too painful.

Anonymous said...

Hey vp19, so true. But think about Rosalind Russell saying it and it almost works!

Russ said...

Hey, Maestro, cut the Beach Boys a little slack -

"Don't Worry, Baby" is about a drag racer: "She told me "Baby, when you race tonight, just take along my love with you..."

Racin' for pinks in 1963 was serious business, my friend, and if you had a good girl waiting for you at the finish line, you were already halfway home.

At least, that's how I imagine it...

VP81955 said...

Hey vp19, so true. But think about Rosalind Russell saying it and it almost works!

I can certainly imagine Carole Lombard saying it to Clark Gable in real life (although not to Powell, her first husband). However, Carole's language to Clark would've been a bit more colorful...heck, a lot more colorful...

Anonymous said...

I love Carole Lombard and still think of Table Rock Mountain in the middle of January. The 70s movie did nothing for either of them. It would be great to see a remake (done right) or just a CL biopic. Kate and Drew have the right style and qualities, I think Drew might have an edge on the acting skills.

There! Casting done. Where's our budget?