Sunday, January 14, 2007

Monday Miscellaneous

Starting the week with no topic in particular....

The first two hours of 24 were great. I sometimes have lunch at Philippe's downtown near Union Station but now I realize, SHIT! That's where all the terrorists are!!

When a movie goes into prep usually the first thing done is to fire the writer who spent three years on the project and replace him with the director’s friend, or worse, the director himself. How apropos that the product name to eliminate waste before a colonoscopy is called MoviPrep. It’s what Hollywood really thinks of us scribes.

On the A&E cleaned up version of THE SOPRANOS, will Pussy be renamed Wonder Down Under?

Saw THE ILLUSIONIST. Excellent movie. It’s what THE PRESTIGE hoped to be. If I were one of those boot licker movie reviewers I’d say “Spellbinding! Doesn’t miss a trick! Magic for the whole family (except the kids). The only thing up its sleeve is Oscar! It’s the Houdini Who-done-it of the season! Levitates the entire genre. Even if they sawed it in a half it would be great!” But I’m not so just see the friggin’ movie.

And NOTES ON A SCANDAL is even better. This has to be the strongest year ever for the Best Actress Category. Judi Dench or Cate Blanchett could easily win for this one. But Helen Mirren (THE QUEEN) and Kate Winslet (LITTLE CHILDREN) also have a good shot. Alas, I think Shawnee Smith (SAW III) is going to get shut out this year. Maybe next year with SAW IV.

I’d actually see and review more movies if the producers/studios/PR firms sent me DVD’s (hint hint). I love blog swag!!

The LA TIMES Calendar had their annual Movie Sneaks issue on Sunday. That's always the scariest day of the year if you're writing a spec screenplay. You read through all the movies that will be released this year and just pray that none are too similar to the script you're been writing for the last seven months. "Oh shit! There's gonna be a SPIDERMAN 3?!"

Two more sitcoms arrived DOA. KNIGHTS OF PROSPERITY and CASE OF EMERGENCY. I wish if the networks were going to buy fewer sitcoms they’d buy BETTER ONES! And maybe not schedule them against AMERICAN IDOL (although any show starring Greg Germann deserves to be up against AMERICAN IDOL, GREY’S ANATOMY, CSI, and THE SUPERBOWL).

From the MASH MAILBAG: a reader wondered why the Hawkeye character was never developed in any spinoff. Simple. Alan Alda wanted to pursue other things. At the time his feature career was really taking off. Had Alan wanted to do AfterMASH I don’t think CBS would have said, sorry, we have Bill Christopher.

More MASH MAILBAG: The lawsuit that Alan had with 20th Century Fox over syndication. Alan receives a percentage of the profits, so when MASH is sold into syndication, the higher the price to stations obviously the higher the profit. And normally studios will try to get the highest price. But 20th also owns FX. If MASH plays there the studio gets less syndication money but more advertising money, along with great programming to boost their fledgling network. So they come out great but anyone who owns a piece of the show doesn’t. That’s what the lawsuit dealt with. No such legal dispute however, between Bill Christopher and 20th over AfterMASH profits.

What a better world this would be if Dr. Martin Luther King were still in it.

THE GOLDEN GLOBES – Hollywood’s biggest night since the installation of new traffic lights.

The O.C. was cancelled despite gratuitous girl-on-girl action. When THAT doesn’t work you know it’s time to pull the plug.

The only show on television that I wouldn’t want to see gratuitous girl-on-girl action is THE VIEW.

Lindsay Lohan had her appendix out. It’s available on eBay.

I admit it. I can’t wait for AMERICAN IDOL to return. Especially the early auditions. More than the X-FILES, this show conclusively proves there are aliens from outer space here on earth. Creatures from other planets apparently communicate with earthlings by singing “My Heart Will Go On”.

Please bury James Brown already. Please Please bury James Brown already.


Anonymous said...


At Philippe's, do you get your sandwich single or double dipped?

Anonymous said...

Didn't see DOA, but caught K.O.P. and the I.C.E. pilots.

I agree...Greg Germann...ugh.

I liked the KNIGHTS OF PROSPERITY pilot, and while most of my laughs were at/with Mick Jagger (which could be a problem for the other actors) I hope it gets a shot to find it's stride.

Once AMERICAN IDOL wraps up it's cross-country talent search, then it becomes unwatchable.

Anonymous said...

It's so funny you said that b/c when I was watching last night and they were headed to union station the first thing i said was "oh they better not get Phillipes." My roommates can attest to it. Guess we're related after all.

Anonymous said...

Quit picking on Father Mulcahy!

Anonymous said...

Re: Alda-Fox suit

Didn't David Duchovny have a similar suit against Fox over the syndication rights to X-Files?

Anonymous said...

I disagree. Girl-on girl-action is never gratuitous. Except on "The View."

Anonymous said...

I don't understand yet why I like KOP and every writer I trust thinks it's crap. I'm a perfectly highbrow sitcom watcher too, damn it, so why do I think it's funny? It's not just Donal.

Anonymous said...

Someday maybe I'll understand why I'm unable to watch "Reality TV" in any form. Like watching a train wreck or sticking pins in frogs. Far to painful to watch.


Anonymous said...

Anon: Yes, Duchovny sued Fox because he had discovered that FX had gotten X-Files syndication rights when several other nextworks allegedly would have paid more for them.

IIRC, Chris Carter knew about this deal and kept his mouth shut, straining his relations with Duchovny, which weren't too good at that point. Anderson, for her part, filed no suit and just asked for a raise in lieu of a settlement.

Will said...

THE PRESTIGE is the good magician movie. THE ILLUSIONIST is a drawn-out cheat that gets weaker as it goes on, then just barely pulls out of drudgery with a great finale by Paul Giamatti.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I liked them both, but felt "The Prestige" had better performances and a far more engaging Chinese puzzle box structure. Really, the only flaw I felt it had was the biffed final shot.

By Ken Levine said...

I liked THE PRESTIGE too but just felt at times it was a little clever for its own good. And there's the Jennifer Biel factor.

Anonymous said...


Regarding your enthusiasm for THE ILLUSIONIST, I just have to ask: Did you somehow not see the "big twist" coming from ten miles away?

If the fact that the supposed murder is never actually shown isn't a clue, and the sudden shift in perspective to a heretofore unknown supporting character (who is never seen again) wasn't a dead giveaway... well, I can't help thinking the movie was like Angela Lansbury's easiest case ever. With nice costumes and good actors.

I'm honestly flummoxed that anyone in the world could not have figured out exactly what was going on.

By Ken Levine said...

Are you the Jimmy Rabbit of radio fame?

Willy B. Good said...

Hi Ken
Me and my dog Monty have been laughing and barking at your blog for months now and loving every minute of it and if you or any other comedy writers are interested on my blog I've posted Monty's animated comedy concept 'komedy scetch idle' which he claims is the greatest ever concept for sketch writers as he wrote this under 'Big Fat Greek Lesbian'( yes he is a very bad dog ) and has taken the Donald Rosie feud to new lows.

cheers and barks Ken from down under
Willy n Monty

Anonymous said...

In case of Emergency does suck hard. But I differ with you on Knights. It's actually pretty funny.

Anonymous said...

I saw THE ILLUSIONIST plot twist from 10 miles away, but still enjoyed the movie. Giamatti is amazing. I remember seeing him for the first time in a small part on the show HOMICIDE: Life On Ohe Street. At the time, I told the person next to me that this guy would be big. All this, plus his father kicked the degenerate gambler, bullying ass of Pete Rose. Giamatti's family is a national treasure.

Oh yeah— wasn't there a Hawkeye spinoff starring Pernell Roberts as an older, fatter, swarthier Dr. Pierce?

Anonymous said...

Also thought the 24 premiere was great. Although it seems everyone is pretty darn awake between six and eight in the morning. FBI had already arrested that poor Dad and it wasn't even 7:45 in the morning. Also Jack Bauer drives REALLY fast; managed to get from the bad guys hideout to Inglewood in less than 10 minutes (was the hideout at Costco?).

Michael Jones said...

Hey Otto,
That was "Trapper John" (Elliot Gould/ Wayne Rogers' character) not Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce. But yes he was older, fatter and swarthier.

I live in Japan and I never get this Reality crap until 2-3 years later. Unfortunately, I still get it. But for unreal TV, you must watch Japanese TV.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm only half kidding, but—

Ever since 24, I hear the "Jack Bauer" argument more often it when it comes to Bush's war on terra. On TV, at dinner tables, in print. I meet more people who seem to think the Bill of Rights boil down to an episode of 24. No one actually mentions the show of course. Just the recurring theme that time is of the essence in the war on "terra", even when it comes to our founding document.

I mean, how powerful is Habeas Corpus or the 5th amendment compared to the "24 hours, ticking bomb" argument. Terrorist's (and our) rights versus the target of a psycho on the roof with a rifle, the kid in the well, damsel tied to the tracks, the nucular sarin anthrax bomb ticking away in the DAR punchbowl.

What's a little waterboardin', Doberman on testicle action compared to a kid in trapped in a well. A love tap or two with a dojo stick to slap home some sense and save a million people. Who needs a 200 hundred year old document of scribbles from dead guys in powdered wigs and cod pieces? Seconds matter here.

While some parents might worry about halftime nipples and HipHop affecting their kid's values, I wonder about a lot of impressionable adults rotting their lobes watching shows like 24 as good as those shows may be. Present company excluded.

Am I reaching, or can anyone else see a credible connection here?

To 24 fans, Sorry for the buzzkill.

Anonymous said...

otto, have you even seen the first 4 eps from this new season? the show is dealing with that very topic, and i think it takes it seriously.

and oh my god was that an amazing 4 hours. i knew what was going to happen at the end of tonight, but my mouth was still left hanging open.

Anonymous said...

So, on "24," I'm either dead or badly injured since the terrorists detonated that nuke in Valencia. No more interning at The Signal then. ;)

Anonymous said...

The traffic light thing made me think for a second.

I went to LA in May 2005 with friends. I noticed the traffic lights were horizontal, which is different from Atlanta and pretty much the entire country.

Then we went back in May 2006. All of the lights were vertical.

So... I'm guessing they actually DID change the traffic lights recently?

Anonymous said...

Traffic lights were horizontal in LA? 2 years ago? Paula Abdul... is that you? Get off the sauce, Paula. Those were Christmas lights.

What's the matter with Greg Germann? I think he can be funny. I remember liking him on Ned and Stacy. I wish they'd have kept him in Eureka. Hmmm. Both he and Paula Marshall are very low key. Maybe that's not your bag, Ken. Bygones... I still think you're swell.

Anonymous said...


Truthfully, I gave "24" a try during the first season. I see the attraction, it just wasn't for me.

You know that feeling folks started to get after too many Xfile seasons? By season 4, How most people didn't really care how many probes or giant leeches violate Fox and Muldour? Or that cancer man switched to Djarum clove lights? I pretty much started rooting for the bad guys on "24" after 2 episodes. When it became apparent that neither his wife or daughter were gonna die painfully, I stopped watching altogether.

Glad that Kieffer Southerland has steady work though. I've enjoyed most of his work over the years. Have they hired his father as a guest villain yet? I'd probably watch that one.

Anonymous said...

I've lived in Los Angeles for 56 years. I've never seen horizontal traffic lights. Were you sitting up?