Tuesday, August 31, 2010

They Say You Should Never Meet Your Idols: A Life Lesson Essay by DanielleTBD...

I have made a lot of jokes over the past few weeks about attending such glamorous media events such as TCA parties or award show gift suites and how I am just showing up for the chance to meet some of my longtime favorite celebrities. When I said I was bummed Courteney Cox-Arquette never showed up to the ABC TCA party because I wanted to grab her and Matthew Perry for a photo and caption it 'I've been adopted by the Bings'...well, it was all in good fun and should have been taken with a grain of salt. But in truth, the reason I got into this industry in general was because I was a fan first. And knowing firsthand just how important shows and personalities can be to the "general viewing public," I wanted find a way to be a part of celebrating them. I have a tendency to worm my way into relationships in general anyway!

But more and more while attending these events, I hear other bloggers who are around my age and got into the business for the same reason say that certain people held in a higher regard that they have interviewed haven't lived up to their greatest expectations. They resort to the old throwaway cliche of "Never meet your idols!" as a way to gloss over their deep upset and appear more flippant and casual about the whole misfire encounter because we are, after all, supposed to be professionals.

For the record, I only had one true childhood idol. Said person was who I looked to to tell me things like how I should dress or cut my hair or feel towards religion, politics, and family. I didn't say it's an entirely healthy phenomenon. But I didn't have an older sister to look to for such things, so I took what I could get from someone on TV.

Yes, then, it should go without saying that my childhood idol was someone on television, and yes, it was someone about whom I mostly gleaned information by reading random quotes in magazine articles or catching occasionally on Access Hollywood. And yes, that meant that sometimes the real life persona and the character portrayed would blur together until I was just picking and choosing characteristics as I saw fit.

I met this childhood idol a few times over the course of the last few years during which I began working in the industry. And I have to say that while so many think such should be a cautionary tale, I disagree. In fact, I think we all need to meet our idols and fast (though I understand it is not always an option for those who have no access, live in another part of the world, or for whom's particular role model may no longer be with us at all).

Are there pangs of disappointment when initially you realize the person you for so long admired, looked up to, or simply crushed on isn't who you imagined them to be? Sure. But that is just temporary and once it fades, you are left with the distinct realization that they are not who you imagined them to be because you never truly knew them before (and even now, if you have a limited amount of time with them, everything is circumstantial anyway). For all of the exciting or intelligent or whatever characteristics you assigned them, did you ever really have proof of it? Or was it just something you inferred from the way a journalist slanted an article, or a personal bias based on something you just really wanted (or perhaps needed) to believe?

What unfolds after your encounter, then, is a journey of self-discovery. Maybe it's one you sloughed off way back when and chose instead to simply look for external imagery of what you wanted to be. Maybe you weren't ready then to self-analyze but you are now. Maybe it's one you actually embarked upon years ago, choosing an idol based on his or her proximity to your own actual nature.

Is it sad to consider the things you grew up believing to turn out to be fabrications? It shouldn't be. You once believed in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, too, but you found out the truth and turned out okay. Maybe you even still believe in God or Heaven and Hell right now, though you have nothing tangible to say they exist. Besides, wishing and believing are the two greatest verbs of childhood, and everything that falls into those categories helped shape the person you matured into, so they can't be all bad!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Watch 'Rizzoli & Isles' Tonight And Win!...

Back when Rizzoli & Isles first premiered, My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture brought you an interview with star Angie Harmon and told you all to tune into the premiere because the show was like Women's Murder Club 2.0. Also starring Sasha Alexander, the series focuses on a homicide detective and forensic medical examiner dynamic duo. Together they face off against some of Boston's toughest criminals.

An all new episode airs tonight on TNT, in which a familiar adversarial face from the pilot episode resurfaces and gives the girls a run for their money. Also in this particular episode, after weeks of seeing Rizzoli's family (including the awesome Lorraine Bracco as her mother), we finally get insight into Isles' background. It feels like the Pilot 2.0.

So tune in tonight at ten p.m. and keep an eye out for something that draws Rizzoli out into her street at night in one early scene. Come back after you watch it, leave a comment with what it was that got her attention, and you will be entered to win a copy of one of the books from the Tess Gerritsen series on which the show is based!

Rizzoli & Isles follows Boston detective Jane Rizzoli (Harmon) and medical examiner Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander), complete opposites and good friends who solve crimes and bust some of Boston's most notorious criminals. Growing up at opposite ends of the economic spectrum, the two remain strikingly different from one another in many ways. Jane, the only female detective in Boston's homicide division, is a tough and gutsy cop who doesn't let her guard down (except with Maura), dodges her overprotective mother and is better at basketball than her brother. Maura, meanwhile, is usually more comfortable among the dead than the living. She is always impeccably dressed in designer duds with a steady, sometimes icy temperament. And she is working on curbing her tendency to diagnose the people she meets - including her first dates. Jane and Maura often find themselves working together as both use their brilliant minds and expertise to figure out the "who done it" as well as the "how done it" of Boston's most complex cases.

Despite their many differences, Jane and Maura are best friends, with a quirky and supportive relationship. As Tamaro explains, "That Jane and Maura are so different and yet so effective as a team makes them unusual. There's something rare about their relationship that I see in the world but not enough on television: two smart, strong, competent women who instinctively drop the protective shield when they're with each other."

Alison Brie Has Been Ready To 'Scream' For A Long, Long Time!...

Alison Brie may play a "Little Miss Sunshine" type-- perky, if somewhat naive-- community college student Annie on Dan Harmon and NBC's quirky Thursday night comedy, Community, but this summer she also filmed a spot in the newest installment of the Scream franchise. Being a huge Scream dork myself, when I had the chance to sit down with Brie at a press day on the Paramount lot last week, I was more than thrilled to hear that she, too, was just as excited about the movie.

"I’m a huge
Scream fan so I was really excited to go," Brie gushed during the reporter roundtable. "And I didn’t even relate to them there on set how much of a Scream nerd I am. I kind of tried to keep it under wraps. And then it would come out once in awhile. Like, they’d be like ‘Which movie is it where this happens?’ And I’d be like ‘It was two. It was Scream 2. I mean ‘cause it happened right after you said this and then right after in the next scene…’ And David Arquette would be like ‘Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah, that is how it happened.’ And I would just take a step away."

Brie said that during her high school days her friends took their mutual love of the movie a step farther than my own habits of marathoning, though.

"We spoofed it," she smiled. "We made this movie called
Yell-- like this home movie with this murderer that walked slowly after people."

Brie also got to visit the set long before booking a role, though: "I grew up in LA-- in South Pasadena-- and they shot part of the second movie there at the old Rialto theater, and when they shot that I was one of those people who was outside watching. And then it was just sort of surreal to be up there shooting in Michigan and have the crowds come out. It was my first experience, too, on that sort of movie where crowds come out to watch and you know the next day there’s a photo of you online taken from across the street from someone’s car."

One of the things that has so greatly endeared fans to
Community is its ability to pay homage to (and sometimes throw jabs at) other elements of pop culture. Since Community is taking on another Halloween episode in season two-- one in which is "very, very bloody" according to series star Danny Pudi-- wouldn't it be perfect if Abed (Pudi) creates a horror project for one of his student films?

"One of the things that I've been hoping for is that Annie would get to be in one of Abed's movies, so that would really make my day!" Brie exclaimed.

But in the meantime, you might be able to hear Harmon poke fun at the gig in another medium. Brie shared that she booked the job while they were taping their DVD commentary for season one (
out on September 21st), and of course Harmon couldn't help himself. "I don't know if it will make it in there," Brie admitted. But it's definitely worth a look!

'Persons Unknown's Series Finale Really Didn't Make Anything Known...

NBC aired the final two episodes of its summer "event," Persons Unknown over the weekend, showing that although promos promised we would know exactly what was going on by the end of the thirteen, they really were still setting it up for a potential second season. Unfortunately for them, by this past weekend, most viewers had already checked out.

But not this one.

For those who never watched, the basic premise of the show was that seven different people from different parts of the world/life were abducted and all ended up in a deserted hotel in ghost town in the middle of nowhere. There was much speculation on who took them and why, but we very quickly learn that most of the seven don't matter much. It is Janet (Daisy Betts) who we should care about. Not only was she taken from a playground while her young daughter played on the monkey bars-- so, you know, added stakes being that she's a mother, but also apparently whoever took her "likes" her best, too. Also, apparently she's the only one who's really being looked for back home. At least, that's what the show would allow you to believe since we only see her family (an ex-husband-- Gerald Kyd-- to be exact) try to look into the mysterious disappearance.

The pilot intrigued me, and as the first few episodes evolved, and we got to see the characters' flaws and weaknesses, I began to see a pattern. All of the people taken, from the narcissistic daughter of an Ambassador to a man who killed his own wife to a woman who was a patient in a mental institution, exhibited one very common trait: they're all trapped in their own everyday lives in a way that makes them down on themselves. So naturally they have to end up physically and literally trapped to realize that, right?

It was familiar, and it was not entirely uncomfortable.

A few years ago I produced a short film called "Expendable," which basically forced a few strangers into a very similar situation. Sitting in a waiting room, masked men with shotguns come through, and in seeking shelter and safety, they pile into an unfinished back room. The masked men basically tell them they need to sacrifice someone; someone has to come out and face them, and the others can go free. In actuality it turns out to be an exercise designed by a somewhat radical, somewhat alternative therapist trying to get one of his suicidal patients to realize life is worth living. When she breaks down at the end and pleads for her life, he clicks on the lights and walks in, revealing all of the others in the room with her to be actors he has hired.

For a brief time, I thought the town in Persons Unknown was a similar form of therapy.

Unfortunately, I could not have been more wrong. As the season ran on, things just got weirder and more "conspiracy theory" as we finally did meet the Madame Director who is running the whole program. We never find out exactly why they do what they do or how they've even managed to watch so many of these people for so long. We never really even find out what they want these people for once they establish which of them will be right for "the program." But in the finale episode, we do learn that six of the seven managed to pass the first level of their testing, even though the whole time we were told only one person would pass, and in order to do so, he or she would have to be the last (wo)man standing.

So those answers we were promised were instead just replaced with a few more questions about whether or not Madame Director and her plant Joe (Jason Wiles) in the system were lying to the others the whole time about how you truly advance or if maybe there are some things that are even above their clearance. For the briefest moment when Janet manages to escape and be reunited with her mother and daughter, we see that her mother has known the Madame Director-- and the program-- for years, maybe even in a "making a deal with the devil" sort of way to give over her child. But we don't really know how or why or even-- still-- what makes Janet so damn special!

Hell, we don't even know how Blackham (Sean O'Bryan) knew Charlie (Alan Ruck)'s wife's name!

One of the things that was pretty cool was how the program broke its usual rule when selecting candidates by taking Janet's ex-husband and dropping him into the program, starting in that deserted hotel in that ghost town, at level one, of course. It was, apparently, the only way to shut him up. But seeing him come face to face with two of the participants that he knew to be with his ex-wife when she was first taken would make for an extremely interesting and abnormal situation within that test group. Unfortunately, we'll just never get to see it.

The series finale of Persons Unknown ends almost exactly where it begins. Janet and the other five she thought she escaped with all wake up back in the hotel. Only when they take the elevator downstairs to walk out into the center of town-- presumably to scream and curse the closed circuit cameras-- they find themselves in the middle of a harsh storm, in the middle of the ocean. Yes, folks, Persons Unknown is on a boat. They have graduated to level two; the show has devolved to terrible, terrible CGI; and the scripts have rebooted. Once again those characters are trapped just as much as they were in episode one. Maybe even more so.

There was a lot of backlash in May when LOST ended and fans were split about how the long-running, fan favorite series ended. Needless to say, the viewers of Persons Unknown-- when they were there-- were nowhere near as rabid. I, along with Stephen King, may be the only viewer(s) who was still watching when it came to its ridiculous, ridiculous end. But I was still pretty pissed by the slap in the face with which they left me. At least LOST answered the big questions! At least LOST wrapped up its character arcs, even if it felt a bit rushed and/or expositional in the final moments. Could you imagine if LOST's final moments was Oceanic 815 crashing back on the island because they were all stuck in some sort of time warp or something??

Sunday, August 29, 2010

DanielleTBD's 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Highlights...

You can check out the complete list of 2010 Emmy winners here.

But now for the Top 5 Moments of the Show-- in no particular order-- according to My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture (and what I could find already on the internet):

The opening musical number:

Jane Lynch FINALLY getting mainstream-- and Academy-- recognition:

A skit from the cast of Modern Family...and some very special guests:

Modern Family takes home the top comedy prize!

Another musical number-- this time saying goodbye to shows we loved and lost (no pun intended):

Report from the Set: 'Community'...

I learned many things when visiting the Paramount lot to check out the cast of Community rehearsing a big homage episode for their second season. For one thing, Danny Pudi taught me that there are still some Joel McHale "butt juices" left on the pool table from the episode in which he dropped trou against his teacher.

I also learned that the art department has a lot of fun with the signage they post all over the walls of Greendale Community College's lounge, library, etc. There are gems like "We didn't mean it literally but whatever" featuring a girl hugging a tree for eco conservation, as well as flyers with McHale himself printed on them that are meant to advertise the school in a "Hi I'm Jeff. I used to be a lawyer but now I go here" sort of way.

But most importantly, I learned that the cast is so close that even when they interrupt each other's interviews, they are having fun and a good laugh about everything. "We don't fight as much as the characters do. We don't really have brawls, and no one gives speeches as often in real life," Gillian Jacobs said. "But I think that we most often just dissolve into, like, silliness with Donald doing some bit and all of us just laughing. I feel bad for the people that run our set because it's like herding cats! It's basically everybody just, like, ping-ponging off each other all of the time."

Their dynamic truly has become like the study group, even if not all of the actors have taken on the specific characteristics of their characters. For example, McHale points to Yvette Nicole Brown as the true Jeff Winger of the group, "She gets around!" He dead-panned. Also, Jacobs wanted to point out that Donald Glover is a lot smarter than Troy and Pudi does, in fact, understand reality. Yeah, yeah, I figured.

But Alison Brie admitted that there are definitely situations and times where their real life personalities drip into their characters. One example is the dynamic between her own character and Brown's. "We have a lot of fun together," Brie said of Brown. "We both sit on the same side of the table, I think Yvette and I both see the same things in ourselves as similarities that really inform the characters, and that's what really drives it all."

Brown elaborated: "Shirley and Annie are pretty much the same character, just at different points in their life. They’re both kind of na├»ve about what really happens in the world; they’re both competitive; they’re both very optimistic and Type A when they want something and their drive. I think it’s good to see us play off each other because they’re also antagonistic and they can push each other’s buttons so that was a lot of fun."

But more than that, for Shirley specifically, Dan Harmon has stolen a little bit from her own life because she really does call everyone "sweetie" and "pumpkin" and feels the need to be the maternal welcome wagon of the group.

And though Pudi had previously told My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture that he wasn't nearly the pop culture aficionado that Abed is, there are other areas that mirror his own behavior. "It's kind of scary," he laughed, "when all of a sudden you're just like 'Yup, totally get this. This is me; this is how I behave.' And then you're just like 'Are Dan Harmon and the writers constantly watching me? What's going on here'?"

Jacobs explained that theirs is a "very humanistic kind of show." The fun they have with each other on set and while shooting scenes easily translated to those of us visiting the set and just as easily translates to those watching from home, as well. And because they all as actors care about each other the same way their characters do, it's easy for "people [at home to] care despite the fact that sometimes they get snippy."

"At the end of the day, all of us as characters care about each other. I think that's what grounds our show," Jacobs hypothesized.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Matt Cohen Answers The Tough 'Supernatural' questions...

Fans on Twitter ask the toughest questions!

Prior to my interview with Matt Cohen (which will go live this week so stay tuned!), I invited fans of his on Twitter to submit questions for him. Cohen has a diverse body of work, but of course the majority of the inquiries came from Supernatural fans about his time on the show. A few of the questions (such as if he will be returning in season six) are in the actual interview, but not all could make the cut. So as a bonus because I want you all to know I really do read and pay attention to my @replies!-- and in honor of both Supernatural Saturdays as well as Creation Entertainment's Vancouver convention-- here are just a few others. Did yours make the cut??

'Supernatural' Saturdays: Memorabilia!...

My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture can't stop thinking about memorabilia!

Yes, in part, I'm simply bummed I lost out on Hurley's Dharma notebooks-- the ones in which he was writing Star Wars-- but more than that, I was just amazed but all of the really cool, really memorable, and really sentimental items at my fingertips.

Admittedly, I didn't have the strong connection with the show that just about everyone else in the room did. I only spent six days with it, not six years, so my investment was smaller. However, you all know there is at least one show with which I am deeply, expensively invested. And it hasn't even ended yet!

Earlier in the week My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture posed the question to readers about what item(s) they would most want to own from Supernatural, should that show take part in a similar auction with Profiles in History when it (sadly) ends. For that poll, I chose some of the bigger, more iconic pieces from the show, but I found I couldn't stop thinking about my own personal connection to the series, and the places in my life I have been over the past five years while watching, and in doing so, I managed to narrow it down to my Top Five Items from Supernatural I Just Have To Own!

5. Dean's "I Wuv Hugs" tee shirt. I don't usually go for the wardrobe. In fact, I usually took breaks during the LOST auction whenever the wardrobe would come up. With such low opening bids, it would take forever to get through the bunch, and quite frankly, it bored me. Actors' wardrobe is not something that would fit me, and even if it did, I wouldn't feel comfortable wearing it because it would diminish the value. However, this is one item I would break all my "rules" for because I'd love to sleep in it!

4. A hexbag. The show has used these in a few episodes, and the studio even gave away an authentic one about a year ago. But I didn't win it. And there's just something really cool about the idea of it. It's part voodoo, sure, but there are times when it can be used for good, to protect people, and times when it can be used to do people harm. I like the mysticism of it!

3. One of Dean's guns. But since there are weird laws usually prohibiting the sale of prop guns, I won't waste one my precious slots with this one...

3.B The original Impala licenses plates. The boys are from Kansas. Their father owned the plates, just as he owned the car, before them. It stands for who they are and where they come from, and it would be an amazing piece to also have the guys autograph!

2. Carver Edlund aka Chuck Shurley's "Supernatural" book series set. I just love Chuck. I think I loved him more before he was God because he seemed like me: somewhat bumbling but always well meaning and someone who writes because he "has to." I get that. I also loved the ridiculous, romance-style covers!

1. John Winchester's "hero" journal. Let's get this out of the way: I already know I wouldn't be able to afford it. The fans go nuts for Supernatural, and this is such an iconic, amazing piece, with pages and pages of handwritten notes by the prop department, photos, names, etc. It very well could sell for just as much as an Impala. But I have a "thing" for journals. Ever since I was a little kid, I would keep them by my bed to write short stories or script ideas or (in junior high school) bad poetry. I still keep them. And even though I would never dream of adding my own notes to this journal, I would want it to flip through whenever I experience writer's block. Besides, I think the notes the production staff made inside would be fun and priceless all on their own!

And yes, Dean's amulet would be cool, too-- for what it stands for because I really don't like the charm itself-- or a ring or a bracelet...but that's a bit obvious for me, isn't it?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Weekly Examiner Round-Up...

LOST Auction round-up part one and part two

Place your bets now for the 2010 Primetime Emmy Awards

The Women of 'Rules of Engagement' Are Out To Change More Than Just The Face of Comedy...

Bianca Kajlich of CBS' Rules of Engagement is not only on a funny show, but she likes to keep it light in person, too. The bubbly, personable actress laughs that she thinks "there's at least some piece of narcissism" in every actor or else they'd be doing something else and even admits that she has adopted a former acting coach's motto of "Dare to suck." This attitude of going-all out doesn't just apply to her acting roles but life in general, which is why she's so glad to be a part of great charity groups.

"I really feel like to be someone who is recognizable and to be able to lend that to something else is one of the absolute most fulfilling things that this job has created for me," Kajlich explains.

"The big one that I am supporting at this moment is the Amputee Coalition of America. My brother is a double amputee, and we just went over the summer and were counselors at a camp in Ojai. It was a phenomenal, life-changing experience for both of us."

Kajlich says that even without the personal connection to this cause, she feels it is more than worthy of time, effort, and money. The camp at which she volunteered sends kids from all over the country to the facilities for a chance to be amongst others who are struggling with the same things they are. It's a little bit of a self-esteem boost for some kids who may have a tough time in their daily lives. And it is run solely on donations.

"To see that in a business where it’s so much about what you look like and how you present yourself, to see these kids who have stepped forward and really said ‘I don’t care; there’s nothing I can do about the fact that I don’t have a leg or I don’t have arms’—it was interesting because I literally left from the camp to a film set to shoot a movie, and it really helped me to look at it and realize it doesn’t matter at the end of the day. I love what I get to do for a living; I am absolutely blessed that I get to do it, but it’s not the most important thing. And these kids inspired me so much," Kajlich shares.

But more than than, Kajlich wants to be able to offer a similar self-esteem boost for the young girls of the world who are looking at film and television and seeing skinny, skinny girls and feeling the pressure. Kajlich calls herself "a bigger girl" when it comes to Hollywood standards, even though she acknowledges that anywhere else in the world she would not be perceived as big at all. In a family with young female cousins, Kajlich is faced with the task of being a role model close to home, as well as across the globe.

"I want young girls to see that at the end of the day, we’re real people," she says. "We go home and battle the same insecurities!"

Well maybe Kajlich should team up with her Rules of Engagement co-star Megyn Price, then, because Price, too, is a charitable one. She raced in the Long Beach Grand Prix earlier this year, where partial proceeds go to the Children's Hospital. She and her ER doctor husband actually support a lot of similar children's hospital charities, in addition to adult daycare centers that offer active options for seniors, as well as older people with disabilities (Price's brother has Down's Syndrome and attends such a center whose budget has been unfortunately cut in these tough times).

But furthermore, Price says she wants to "get involved with more causes this year-- ones that have a little bit more to do with girl power, you know?"

If these two women joined forces, there's no telling what they'd be able to accomplish! And hmm, maybe IBG Inc should team up with them, too!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Why DanielleTBD Should Be Watching: 'Friday Night Lights' Edition...

I'll admit it: when Friday Night Lights was first announced as being a new television series, I rolled my eyes. The movie was fine because it was a small dose, was my opinion, but a weekly hour about football? Too much!

And I'll also be the first to admit that I was wrong. Because Friday Night Lights isn't just about football but also families, friends, relationships, and growing up-- both literally for the teenagers but also for the adults that surround them and have to come to terms with their own outstanding issues. And really, I shouldn't have been so quick to judge it by its gimmick because like the players on Dillon's team, there is much more than meets the eye.

Friday Night Lights is in a rare position: it's airing episodes on DirecTV that will not be available to other cable customers until next year, which means that many fans have had to avoid the bread and butter of their fandom (internet message boards, fan sites, Twitter, and Facebook pages) in order to avoid spoilers. But it's a show that has gradually picked up speed and caught the eye of everyone from TV critics who were fighting for Emmy nominations for some of its key cast to other showrunners who actually advertise this (in some cases, potential rival) show to actors who have appeared on the show and others who just wish they could get a gig as good.

Wesley Ambrecht, another entertainment journalist, put it best when he said that he loves
Friday Night Lights because "the cast assembled...has been one of the decade's finest. The husband and wife relationship between Coach and Tami is one of the more honest portrayals in television history. They complete one another. Yes, they squabble but doesn't every couple?"

Additionally, Jaime Smith, another entertainment blogger, wanted to be sure to point out Zach Gilford's portrayal of slightly insecure quarterback Matt Saracen as one of the major draws of the show: "I've often said that no one can break my heart the way Matt Saracen can, and that's not because what he does hurts. It's because he is the heart; he is the soul; and watching what this kid had to shoulder, the responsibility not only at home but on the field, made me want to hug him."

That, in a nutshell, is the appeal of the show. The characters (including "Tim Riggins-- the male equivalent of the hooker with the heart of gold," according to Eric, a fan from Virginia) are each written to be strong, smart, and three-dimensional to the point where viewers will inevitably identify with at least one of them at any given moment in the series. But more than that, for those who are from Texas, the show is extremely authentic in themes and in "inside" details, adding to its believability, as well. Eric, who was living in Texas at the time the show premiered, explained that "the Dillon (now West Dillon) Panthers' uniform is based on that of Pflugerville, a town north of Austin. [And] the stadium is named after a local coach..."

Sure, there are fights and issues that take place on the field, and some may initially tune in to see beautifully filmed tracking shots and atmospheric and detailed yet fast-paced action sequences. However, they stick around for the universal, even if somewhat sophomoric (depending on where you are in life when you first pop in the pilot) themes and topics of being unsure of one's self and one's future or feeling inadequate for one's surroundings or loved ones. It's a coming-of-age story if there ever was one!

"Not being athletic or interested in high school sports, I didn't relate to that aspect of anyone's struggles on the show," Smith admitted. "But I loved Tyra's journey from seeing herself as trash to working hard to get into college, as well as her surprising friendship with Julie and even more surprisingly relationship with Landry. I loved watching Tim go from dumb, hot jock to thoughtful, responsible adult. I loved all of Jason Street's storylines as he struggled to figure out who he was after he couldn't play football anymore. And I can never get enough of Coach and Mrs. Coach!"

Every fan
My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture polled talked about the heart of the show, and most of them pointed to Coach and Tami as being that warm center (and moral compass). They are the couple you aspire to be and to whom you go to for advixe in the meantime. But more than just them, Tim's struggles and Jason's success were go-to story lines for fans who wanted to showcase the hopefulness of the show. Tim's quest to clean up his act but his inability to resist falling back into old, bad patterns and habits was handled with care; it was not just some soapy, melodramatic storyline but instead one that mirrored what many know someone in their own lives going through. Similarly, Jason could have been treated like the flip side of the cliche, but the show is smarter than that. "

The exit arc that was written for Scott Porter in season three...sticks out in my mind," said Ambrecht. "As a viewer I was able to smile at Jason Street's possible success without feeling like it was a product of TV falsehoods."

Eric elaborated: "You can't help but smile while watching, cheer for the team, get goosebumps when you hear the halftime speech, watch the player make the catch/the kick/the run. You want to hang out with these characters. Or maybe it's just me, ha."

Judging by the number of fans who switched to DirecTV when it was announced that this show was airing their new episodes there first, though, it most certainly is
not just him! Friday Night Lights is an adrenaline rush in many ways other than just on the field!

If you haven't yet checked out Friday Night Lights, the early seasons are, of course, available on DVD, but ABC Family will start running the series from the pilot episode on in early September. Check your local listings!

Woof Wednesday #67...

How did you think Madison got so soft and fluffy??

And yes, I admit I tried to get him to go in the dryer for this shot. He was not having it. Smart boy!

Report from the Set: '$#*! My Dad Says'...

When you go to a taping of CBS' new sitcom $#*! My Dad Says, you actually get two shows rolled into one. The first is the four camera sitcom based on the blog, Twitter feed, and bestselling book of the same name, starring William Shatner, Jonathan Sadowski, Will Sasso, and Nicole Sullivan. The other is the "William Shatner Show."

The veteran TV star is always a little off-beat and kooky, so admittedly My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture was a bit worried about just how long it would take for him to get through each scene. Shatner is a pro, but he likes to riff with the best of them. Unlike most other sitcoms that do a take, rewrite a couple of lines, and then do a new take, $#*! My Dad Says plays off its actors strengths and lets them be loose even if not quite adlibby.

Sometimes they slightly talk over each other; often they catch each other off-guard and make them break character with a smile or a chuckle; but they always manage to keep the dialogue feeling real and relatable. Shatner may not change lines on purpose or because he doesn't think they're funny, but inevitably from take to take he will challenge his scene partner and mix it up a little, even if only with emphasis or inflection. This allows the camera crew to just "roll through" takes, but it has to be a killer in the editing room!

Shatner also puts on a show for the live studio audience. While the cameras are being reset, or in the case of the episode My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture sat in on, set walls being moved in and one room transformed into another, Shatner repeatedly stood in front of the audience bleachers and talked about the process or just plain made everyone laugh. His openness allowed his co-stars to do the same, and Sadowski in particular seemed to enjoy watching the warm-up guy interact with those in the audience who had traveled from far and wide to be there that evening. It's nice to see that no matter what level of fame they're at, they're still genuinely enjoying their time on set!

Admittedly some of the humor in $#*! My Dad Says relies on the stereotypes of generation gaps between father (Shatner) and son (Sadowski), but the relationships are all so endearing that they don't come off as "hammy." Sasso and Sullivan manage to pull off playing a married couple who banter without bickering; they have such a rich history (their acting education included bouncing off each other on the sketch comedy show MADtv) that they feel like a real couple even in the short few minutes of screen time they are given.

Shatner steals the scenes, as expected, but the supporting cast around him is so great their characters will have to be expanded and evolved as the episodes go on. With Shatner getting the lines that made over a million Twitter followers both LOL and actually laugh, that often makes Sadowski the straight man. But it is a title he wears well. He brings real heart and often manages to ground the scenes which allows for some tender moments rather than just over-the-top reactions. It's why My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture named him as one of the Fresh Faces to Watch, after all!

$#*! My Dad Says premieres on CBS on September 23rd. My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture will certainly be tuning in to see if the fun of being on set and watching the scenes and characters come to life live in front of me will translate to watching via the solitary nature of the television screen.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Do NBC's Promos Make You Think 'The Event' Will Be Event Television?

Is anyone else worried by the new promos for The Event on NBC?

During the upfront ceremonies back in May, only one of NBC's new fall dramas "spoke" to me even a little bit. Labeled the second-coming of Lost, mixed with a little 24, The Event centers on some giant unknown potential conspiracy/potential terrorist or otherwise cataclysmic attack. The pilot is full of mystery and questions; no one is who they seem; and one of the most insensitive images in recent TV history takes place as an extremely low-flying plane bears down on the White House. Unfortunately, the promos are making it seem much more...shall we say, "been there, done that" than "new and exciting."

The events of The Event, so to speak, are split into two parts: what goes on with the supposed lead, Sean Walker, and what goes on within the White House with art-imitating life in Blair Underwood's take on a president. Laura Innes is a government advisor who knows some things she refuses to share, even with the so-called leader of our so-called free world. It's an interesting statement to make now, years after the liberal media (and entertainment industry in general) called out the Bush administration for being the puppetmaster's behind his strings.

Taking a break from playing the cute English teacher on Parenthood, Jason Ritter is Sean, the young, seemingly average man who boards a plane and takes it hostage in The Event. But as he points out to the air marshal who draws his own gun on him when he attempts to get into the cockpit, things are not what they seem and he's not the bad guy here. Well, at least we're sure of the former part of that statement. See, he is an average guy who "stumbled" into some huge event, the likes of which this country and this government supposedly have never seen before. But we don't know if it's a "good" event or a "bad" one. And therefore we're really not sure if we should root for him to get into the cockpit.

Let's backtrack a bit, though, shall we? Because the pilot does. Told in a non-linear fashion, we see Sean on a tropical vacation with his girlfriend Leila (Sarah Roemer). They enjoy drinks, the ocean, even some outings with another young couple. All the while Leila checks in with her family and seems to be the nice girl-next-door. But when Sean returns from one outing to find he can't get into his room, things go awry. The desk clerk tells him they have no record of him even staying there. He calls Leila's cell phone and gets a disconnected message. He convinces a bellman to take him up to the room only to find another couple in there. His things-- and his girlfriend-- are gone.

This begins to make much more sense when we see that her father Michael (Scott Patterson) is the pilot of the plane that Sean hijacks. But of course this revelation doesn't come until so far at the end of the episode it's just another "WTF?" moment. Is it an act of something supernatural or a big government conspiracy? Or is it even really the jumping off point of events or in actuality the end, and the series post-pilot will jump backwards to tell the tales leading up to that climatic moment.

If the current promos NBC is running every act break of every scripted show they are airing are to be believed, it is the former. Take the example promo I posted above: how does that say anything but alien/robot race? Innes (and others, apparently) may be different, but they claim they are not really threats. And clearly they've been walking among the "regular people" for quite some time now.

And is it just me, or didn't NBC already do this-- only to be bested by ABC-- with V? I guess only time will tell where this series goes. But if it doesn't go somewhere quick and actually answer some of the many, many questions being raised by these short promos alone, no one is going to stick around for the ride!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Misha Collins Plays An Angel On TV And Just Might Be One In Real Life...

I'm going to let you all in on a little secret. I have been trying to get my non-profit group to work with Misha Collins ever since I saw him during the Q&A at Creation Entertainment's "Salute to Supernatural 2010" convention. Though he joked around with every fan that stepped up to the mic-- even going so far as to make fun of some of them (and then me when I asked him to sign my model Impala on the hood when I meant the roof)-- the level of snark he exhibited meant he had serious smarts behind it. And now he is proving just how smart by starting a new non-profit of his own, Random Acts.

See, after his "minions" raised over $30,000 for Haiti earthquake relief in just about a day, he realized he had a powerful force on his side: his fame. If he could get a few thousand people to sport yellow carnations to said 2010 convention, he could certainly ask them to do something worthwhile. Finally, a celebrity who asks us to jump (or in this case, donate) but for real reason!

Collins knows just how his fans can rally. But he also knows just how creative they are. Many of them write fan fiction, spec scripts, and/or create original fan videos and even custom action figures. So he doesn't just want people to open their wallets; he also wants them to come up with new and inventive ways to make other people's lives better. The act can be as small as passing out flowers to strangers, but the idea is pure: if you make someone's day better, they will pay it forward, and together, we will take over the world!

Preview 'Life Unexpected' Season Two Through Photos...

You can begin writing your own fan fiction and/or spec scripts around these photos now...or you can just set your DVRs to The CW on September 14th when Life Unexpected returns for season two!

Which new 'Life Unexpected' cast member are you most excited about?

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And in case you missed my interview with show runner Liz Tigelaar about the new season, please check out this archived article.

The Hottie Awards: Your Smorgasbord...

Recently I rounded up my favorite Hotties in categories like Primetime TV, Daytime TV, Stand-Up Comedy, and Film. Readers did not necessarily express surprise by my choices, but they definitely expressed upset that their own favorites weren't always represented. So I opened it up. I allowed a Readers' Choice category, where followers of this blog and my Twitter could comment on who they would nominate. And the votes were overwhelming...but in very specific categories. Names flooded in-- both male and female, I must point out-- and it was clear what shows and stars had the fans most rallying. Some of my original selections received secondary votes, and they were counted of course as well, but the list compiled below are only the ones that got the most votes across the categories. And hey, if you didn't see your favorite here, then keep an eye on this page so the next time this comes around you can vote harder, more often, and by getting your friends to vote, too!

And the Readers Choice are:

Top Primetime TV Hottie: The Vampire Diaries fans have spoken! Tying (yes, that's right two for the price of one here!) for your top TV hottie...Ian Somerhalder and Steven R. McQueen!

Top Daytime TV Hottie: I got quite a few emails and Tweets asking how I could forget the gangster everyone has come to love...Maurice Benard!
Top Reality TV Hottie: This category was all over the map. I received names of HGTV hosts, as well as contestants from seasons of long-running shows whose names I wasn't fully sure I remembered. Oddly no name was brought up more than once, though, so I stuck all names into a hat and pulled at random. And your "winner" is...John Gidding (though he might have an unfair advantage since he used to be a model)!
Top Music Hottie: He sings; he plays; he also acts. He looks like a tough guy but he is super sweet and approachable. He just about has it all! Christian Kane!

Top Sports Hottie: My own selection for the #1 slot...David Beckham!

Top Model Hottie: Another one of my pics...Gabriel Aubry!

Top Stand-Up Comedy Hottie: I put this guy a little lower on the list (but hey, he still made the list!) and then heard from tons of his fans who felt he should have been much, much higher up, like maybe even #1...Jamie Kaler!

Top Film Hottie: This one didn't get nearly as many votes in general for the category as I would have expected. But then again, like me, all of you are much more focused on the smaller screen :D Quite predictably, the winner here is actually someone who has been in film and TV: David Duchovny!

Thanks for playing along and keep checking back for more of these!