By Tamsin McMahon - Thursday, December 6, 2012 - 0 Comments
Many happy returns to some familiar faces
J.K. Rowling may be the most commercially successful author in recent memory, but in the lead-up to her first adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, skeptics questioned her writing chops. It’s one thing to earn a billion dollars charming children with teenage wizards. It’s quite another to penetrate the cloistered world of the literary elite. The fuss turned out to be for naught. The Casual Vacancy has been a critical success: the Guardian declared Rowling a storyteller “on a par with R.L. Stevenson, Conan Doyle and P.D. James.” Any 10-year-old could have told you that.
Putting the Sheen on cable TV
Writers for CBS’s Two and A Half Men made sure Charlie Sheen would never return when his character was hit by a train, and his body “exploded like a balloon full of meat.” Leave it to cable TV to see the potential in Sheen’s penchant for drug-fuelled rants and rehab stints. Sheen’s Anger Management debuted on FX in June. Ratings were respectable enough for the network to commit to a further 90 episodes. Let’s hope they left some downtime in Sheen’s schedule for a possible relapse. Maybe Ashton Kutcher will be free.
An inauspicious homecoming
Visit a prison and you’ll find inmates who claim to be wrongly convicted. But few can proclaim their innocence quite like Conrad Black. Since his release from a Florida prison in May he has made the rounds of British and Canadian media to declare himself the victim of the “fascistic conveyor belt of the corrupt prison system.” If there is one decision Black seems to regret, it’s the one to renounce his Canadian citizenship for a British life peerage. Eleven years after he termed his exit from Canada as his “last and most consistent act of dissent,” Black is back home on a one-year visa and fighting to keep his membership in Order of Canada. Missing Tim Hortons coffee, m’lord? Continue…
By Jaime Weinman - Friday, July 20, 2012 at 10:37 AM - 0 Comments
A raft of new shows appeals to the broadest audience possible by getting rid of the parties
“What’s going on in the real world of politics is really nutty,” says Greg Berlanti, co-creator of the new show Political Animals. “That allows us in the fictional world to be even nuttier. So we thank the real world for that.” The show, a miniseries that will lead to a full series if it does well enough, stars Sigourney Weaver as a female secretary of state and former first lady who is absolutely nothing like Hillary Clinton. It’s the culmination of a year when TV has been dealing non-stop with politics, a subject that most TV characters never discuss under any circumstances. The dean of cable networks, HBO, has introduced Veep, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a gaffe-prone female vice-president, and The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin’s talky tale of a cable news commentator (Jeff Daniels) who decides to fix America by taking on the Tea Party and other political ills. Boss, returning for a second season in August, has Kelsey Grammer as a corrupt mayor, and ABC gave a second-season pickup to Scandal, about a former White House official who devotes her life to helping politicians with dark secrets. If, as people used to say, politics is show business for ugly people, then today’s TV is politics for pretty people.
Even shows with a small political component can find themselves taken over by that story. The Good Wife, starring Julianna Margulies as the wife of a disgraced politician, originally focused on her life as a lawyer and intended to make her husband (Chris Noth) only a minor character; three seasons later, much of the show is about politics, and one of the most popular characters is a political operative (Alan Rickman). The Emmy-nominated Parks and Recreation started out as a story of small-town bureaucracy, and got a lukewarm reception. It soon began incorporating more political stories—including parodies of real-life scandals—and when the show’s fifth season begins in September, the lead character will become an elected official.