Thursday, January 31, 2013

From LA Examiner: Steven Pasquale Talks 'Do No Harm'; 'Cougar Town' Flashback Photos; 'Arrow' Photos...

We enjoyed NBC’s new duality drama Do No Harm, but we have to admit after we reviewed the pilot, we had to wonder just how much we may have been reading into things that the show never intended for us to. After all, at TCA, executive producer David Schulner said he hoped audiences would just sit back and enjoy the ride. So we caught up with series star Steven Pasquale to get some of our burning questions answered to better know how to anticipate the series... [MORE]

Get ready for your new favorite episode of Cougar Town-- ever! Last year, when Cougar Town was still on ABC, we had a chance to ask series showrunner Bill Lawrence if he ever considered doing a flashback episode to showcase how the cul-de-sac crew became as close as they are. His answer then was pretty much that the writers hadn't considered it because they didn't want to seem like they were copying Friends, which famously flashed back time and again, making an icon out of Fat Monica (Courteney Cox). He knew that to do anything similar would draw immediate comparisons... [MORE

"First Look: Arrow brings Felicity into his world-- and lair"

Team The Arrow (Stephen Amell) is getting a little bit bigger. While Diggle (David Ramsey) has been in the know about Oliver's secret life for awhile, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) is about to be brought into his vortex, so to speak, as well... [MORE]

Celebuzz '30 Rock' Finale Infographic...

After seven years of introducing the world to culinary gems like Sabor de Soledad, Teamster subs, and Cheesy Blasters, Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) is finally going to be able to sit and eat in peace, as 30 Rock is coming to an end on NBC this Thursday.

Just because TGS is going dark, and Liz may have to start stocking some real fruit in the apartment for her new kids (you know, in addition to fruit-flavored Pop-Tarts), doesn’t mean her spirit and her palate can’t live on.

I highlighted all of Liz’s favorites and the best places to get them, whether you’re stuck at work until all-hours of the night at the GE Building or if you’re on forced sexual harassment leave at home (in Liz’s Riverside Drive apartment, of course).

Celebuzz '30 Rock' Series Finale Preview: Top 10 Things to Miss About Liz Lemon...

For seven seasons on 30 Rock Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) has been both an inspiring role model and a somewhat cautionary tale. Everyone's favorite feminist nerd may have wanted to have it all, but she had a whole lot of issues to overcome first.

When we think of good ole Elizabeth Miervaldis Lemon, it is those issues that always first come to mind over her triumphs-- though both provided for hearty laughs. From her false pregnancy reading after consuming way too much Sabor de Soledad, to returning to her high school only to learn she was the original Mean Girl, to her being bummed by the word "lovers" (unless it's between the words "meat" and "pizza", of course), Liz always made us feel better about our own relationship, professional, and "bathing suit area" problems.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Celebuzz 'Supernatural' Recap: "As Time Goes By"...

Supernatural once made an off-handed remark about how it was "top priority" for the angels that John Winchester marry Mary Campbell and have their sons, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles). Then the show went episodes without mentioning it again. You may have forgotten about it-- you may have thought the show had forgotten about it-- but "As Time Goes By" paid it off big time.

The Evolution of Fan Mail, From Traditional Correspondence to Social Media...

In elementary school, they used to have us practice correspondence. Sometimes it was through special workbooks designed to offer a variety of assignments, from writing a familiar thank you letter to a relative who sent a birthday present, to a cover letter for a resume in later grades. Sometimes it was through pen pals that our class would be assigned from other schools in other states. Sometimes it would be to our future selves or our friends' future selves. Apparently. I don't really remember this particular assignment, though a childhood friend pointed it out to me on Facebook a few months back. I guess the teachers were afraid of correspondence becoming a lost art. I can't imagine what those teachers think now, as we all talk in clipped codes of 140 Twitter characters and texting emoticons.

Anyway, I got to thinking about this because I had my own unique way of practicing my correspondence: by writing fan letters to the cute boys in the backs of my Tiger Beat and Big Bopper Magazines. Every week or month (I honestly can't remember anymore) that the new issues would come out, I would flip to the last page where there were a select amount of fan addresses printed. These were often PO Boxes and management or agency offices, and who was featured in the back was clearly based on who were the "it" kids of the moment. Just about every week I would find someone I would want to write to, and as the weeks went on and the addresses repeated, I often wrote to the same person more than once. But I always started the letters the same way.

You could say I had a formula. Maybe it was instilled in me from those basic letter writing lessons from public school workbooks, maybe it only recurred because the first letter written that way proved effective. I'd start out by introducing myself, of course, always noting that I was one of whoever I was writing to's biggest fans. Not *the* biggest fan, mind you, I wasn't that presumptuous. I wanted whoever I was writing to to know I was not delusional. 

I would always include my age, hoping that when I wrote to the likes of Jonathan Taylor Thomas, for example, he would realize I was in the proper age range for him to date me. And then I'd lead into some specifics about the recent work he (it was usually a he, let's face it) had done that I particularly loved. Or I'd point out something I recently read (in the cover of whatever magazine shared their address) that I enjoyed, as well. I had to prove I was a fan, after all, and I had to prove I knew a little bit about film and TV.  

In closing, I would note that I understood how busy he was but would love an autographed photo if there was time to send me one back. I can't remember if I actually pointed out that my return address was in the upper corner of the letter, like any good business letter would feature, but it was always there. And I'd sign it with "Love," and my name, and usually a sticker.

More times than not, I wouldn't get a letter back from the actors to whom I wrote, but I would receive a glossy 8x10, hand-signed with a "To Danielle" before their canned inspirational catchphrase and signature. I wrote to JTT so many times, I started receiving multiple photos with different "messages" written on them to me. But the best was hands down California Dreams star Aaron Jackson who actually did become a pen pal of sorts, returning my handwritten letters with handwritten postcards that referenced things I had written in my last note to him (My personal favorite? "No tattoo for you; you're too young!").

Back then, I wouldn't wake up every morning wondering if today would be the day I'd receive a letter or photo back. I wouldn't run to the mailbox after school to see if anything special was waiting for me. But when I did find an over-sized envelope with my name on it, I would always get an extra big smile on my face, and I'd take the envelope back to my room to rip it open and read/study/stare at it. It was always a special kind of rush to get a response from someone I admired or simply saw as on a different level than I.  

I get that today there is a level of equivalency in the excitement a fan feels when getting a reTweet or reply from their favorite celebrity on Twitter. After all, in the end, it all amounts to the same thing: acknowledgment. But a part of me does see what my teachers were worried about. I feel like there is a little something lost from communicating through social media. You're limited with space and therefore what you can say, and more often than not you're one of thousands just getting lost in the ether. It's really easy to scroll past a bunch of Tweets, even when they're directed at you. I'm guilty of doing that, and I'm not even famous. But when you have a physical pile of mail sitting on your floor? I don't know, I would be more inclined to tackle it just to have a clean space again. It's tangible, and I miss it.

Celebuzz 'Supernatural' Preview: Bob Singer Talks "As Time Goes By"...

It has been known for a long time that the Winchester Brothers of Supernatural were destined for their life fighting demons and monsters, and even at times, angels, but for a long time they—and the audience by extension—believed it was solely because of their mother, Mary, who came from a long line of hunters and was later killed by a demon, setting their father on a path of revenge. What “As Time Goes By” is out to show us all, though, is that their destiny cuts so much deeper than that.

In “As Time Goes By,” Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) are shocked to see a man show up in their hotel room—a man who claims to be their grandfather, Henry Winchester (Gil McKinney). He time-traveled using a blood sigil that was supposed to take him to his son, John. But since John is dead, it dropped him at the feet of his next of kin. Literally.

“We spent time with the other side of the family, and we wanted to bring it full-circle,” Supernatural executive producer Bob Singer said during a special screening and Q&A in Los Angeles, Calif.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

From LA Examiner: 'Happy Endings' Very Special Episode Preview; Ali Wentworth Guest Stars on 'Cougar Town'; 'Smash' Season Two Relationship Talk...

"Happy Endings makes Max a prank master, gets Penny engaged"

We have gradually gotten to know the gang on Happy Endings over the last three years, but they still manage to find ways to surprise us with character quirks and clever antics, and the newest one? Max (Adam Pally) is a prank master. Who knew? ... [MORE]

"Ali Wentworth on Real Housewives inspiration for her Cougar Town guest spot" 

Alexandra Wentworth created and starred in one of LA TV Insider Examiner's favorite half-hour comedies of all time with Head Case on STARZ and has been a writer and performer we have been tracking ever since. And by tracking, we of course mostly mean following on Twitter and hoping to get inspired for our own comedy needs. She may have a Yahoo web series to help with that, and she shared that she is writing a pilot based on her book, but for those of you more interested in traditional TV comedies, she will also be guest starring on Cougar Town as Tom's (Bob Clendenin) new girlfriend... [MORE

There is one question on every Smash fan's mind (or so it seems, judging from our Twitter messages) going into the second season: Now that Karen (Katharine McPhee) has the part of Marilyn in the "Bombshell" musical, and she kicked her cheating boyfriend out, to boot, with Derek (Jack Davenport) is her director, just what will become of the two of them romantically? ... [MORE]

Celebuzz 'Supernatural' Guest Star News...

Supernatural has built a series eight seasons strong around two main characters, and that is how Executive Producer Bob Singer likes it.

"They’re traditional loners, and we wanted to keep it that way…Part of the appeal is they’re these ‘Last Men Standing'," Singer said of Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) during a special Q&A in Los Angeles, Calif. earlier today.

But that doesn't mean that the show is ignoring the appeal of some of their recurring players and guest stars.


Monday, January 28, 2013

From LA Examiner: Amy Harris Talks 'The Carrie Diaries' Relationship; Kevin Williamson Talks 'The Following' Tie-Ins...

Raise your hand if you got into a relationship before you were really ready-- either as a kid or now. Don't worry; we're not judging; we are right there with you. And so might be Carrie Bradshaw (AnnaSophia Robb) in The Carrie Diaries... [MORE]

Now that you've watched The Following and seen just how important Ryan Hardy's (Kevin Bacon) book is to the story, you want to read it, right? (Please say yes, we need our own contingent of followers to push for a tie-in release!) We had a chance to ask Kevin Williamson if the book was in the works, not unlike FOX and Warner Bros.' similar, recent deal with "September's Notebook" from Fringe... [MORE]

'The Following' Thoughts and Theories: "Chapter Two" Review...

The Following started out so seemingly simply: with a cat-and-mouse game between a serial killer (James Purefoy) and the former FBI agent who caught him (Kevin Bacon). But before the end of the pilot episode, the story had exploded into dozens of tiny little fragments, each one Bacon’s Ryan Hardy would have to pick up on in order to truly get to the bottom of Purefoy’s Joe Carroll’s plan. Carroll was writing a new story for him and Hardy together, and the supporting characters were plentiful, each one worthy of devoting an entire chapter to their individual deception and piece in Carroll’s puzzle. In that way, The Following does follow some traditional procedural elements, but rather than simply follow a “bad guy of the week” as Hardy hunts down Carroll’s “friends” one at a time, he, and the audience by association, gets thrown into the cesspool that is their collective twisted “Cult of Carroll.” 

There were a lot of little things hinted at but never fully explored in the pilot of The Following (there is only a finite amount of time in one episode anyway), and enjoyably, the show in only its second episode, “Chapter Two,” took the time to be explicit rather than leave fleshing out the supporting characters to the imagination. You may not have needed to see a flashback to where Emma (Valorie Curry) first met Carroll to understand why she would be so drawn to him (sometimes, people are just searching for something, and they find it in the most f*ed up of places), but the result was something you didn’t even realize you wanted. It’s a chance to get your own insight and knowledge into the same characters Hardy is tracking, though cleverly the show keeps you from getting too far ahead of him. 

First of all: if you didn’t see Will Wilson and his boyfriend Billy being aliases coming, you may not have been paying attention to the pilot. But rather than just deliver a straight, ‘these guys were doing undercover work for Carroll’ story, there is deception within Jacob (Nico Tortorella) and Paul’s (Adan Canto) deception. Jacob certainly seems to take the reigns in that relationship; he is quick to manipulate where he can-- with Paul as his own follower. The way he looked into Paul’s eyes and told him he likes kids—especially little Joey (Kyle Catlett)—reeked of a wannabe, trying to use his draw to command his will, as Carroll does with his own charm. Jacob doesn’t really have that kind of authority, though, and even if he did, there’s Emma floating above his head, seeming to think she is on par with Carroll. The tension within their group goes well beyond simply sexual (though, come on, that’s a big part of it, too—Jacob may not be gay, but I’m thinking Paul is…), but a part of me doesn’t want to see them self-destruct because it would mean Carroll erred in choosing them. And Carroll is nothing if not compulsive with his planning. He needs these three for something big, and he has entrusted them with something even bigger: his son. He wouldn’t have done that with just anyone. The twisted part of this show is I find myself hoping they don’t.

Emma, Jacob, and Paul have been tasked with keeping Joey safe and hidden, no doubt to torture Claire (Natalie Zea) just a little bit more for sleeping with Hardy, but that was only an educated guess on Carroll’s part prior to them sitting down face-to-face in jail. Taking Joey away was less of a mind-f**k for Claire and more about influence for Carroll. By putting his son with his students, his followers, his acolytes, Joey wouldn’t hear what a monster his father was. In fact, over time, it certainly seems the opposite: Emma was already easing him into hearing a different side to the story.

The thing that irked me about these three, though, was how sloppy they were. They’re just immature kids. Carroll knew their faces would be caught on security cameras visiting him in prison, so the fact that he didn’t insist on internet only correspondence proves just how much he wants Hardy to learn in order to write their so-called sequel. Hardy may think he wasn’t supposed to find Emma’s old house, but all roads led to it so easily, it was just the tip of the iceberg. Is Carroll setting up these kids by exposing some of their other crimes (like Emma’s mother’s murder), or did he just underestimate the amount of caution they would take, compared to what he would? The scrawling on the walls certainly read as something only a mental patient would do—and only on TV or in the movies anyway. Perhaps he hitched his so-called star to the wrong wagons. If you want to do something right, after all…

Having someone on the inside would also help with that. It may be too TV convenient for a police department or government agency to have a mole, but I’m sensing not necessarily a partnership with but a deep admiration of Carroll from new special agent Debra Parker (Annie Parisse) anyway. She so eagerly took charge of the case, so hungrily profiled him, so quickly lit up when in Emma’s house, and so dismissively refused the world “cult” surrounding him. Those are the actions of someone enthralled, infatuated, even if just with the idea of him and his kind of power. It’s a different kind of dangerous but still so nonetheless, especially since she could have slipped any message in that book.

Then again, Carroll underestimated Hardy and the fact that he would take down Jordy (Steve Monroe) without actually killing him. So though the pilot led us to believe Carroll was some kind of mastermind, maybe that’s just a romanticized perception. Maybe he’s just a common criminal after all—one whose self-confidence is bordering on arrogance and so it has let others assume he’s as great as he thinks he is. Just about every common criminal amasses “followers,” and it usually has very little to do with the criminal himself. The follower projects what he or she wants and needs onto their new found leader because the follower needs to believe in something remarkable. It is always easier to believe when you can attach to a tangible image. A damaged psyche will do whatever it can to repair itself, even if it means seeing things that aren’t there.

Carroll is not a God; he’s just a man, and a mediocre one at that. After all, ten short years ago, he was projecting what he needed to see onto Edgar Allan Poe, trying to live up to him as a writer and then an actual murderer. He failed in the writing part, and you could argue he failed as a murderer, too, since ultimately he did get caught. What he was good at was teaching. It’s like with the cycle of abuse: they will always find someone a little worse off than themselves to manipulate. The problem here is that Hardy is so messed up right now, he’s playing right into Carroll’s cycle.

Carroll may have been Hardy’s most formidable opponent; he challenged him, and when he was gone, he left Hardy a mess, not only physically, but because no one else could measure up. He left a void. Recognizing that kind of dependence could destroy anyone, and it would certainly explain why Hardy slipped so far. He did not deteriorate completely without Carroll to chase, but he lost a lot of his self-confidence, perhaps putting his worth squarely on the shoulders of the specific case. Now that Carroll is back in his life, he is slowly coming alive again. As great as that can be for his self-confidence and his skills (it shouldn’t be long before he can actually stop playing catch-up with Carroll and instead actually see ahead to stopping the next “surprise” part of the plan before it comes to fruition), the minute you stop to consider the source, it screws with you all over again. Carroll’s greatest work—more than any book or murder—may just be to corrupt he who stands for justice. 

From LA Examiner: Freema Agyeman Isn't Just A Cautionary Tale on 'The Carrie Diaries'; Meet Annie Parisse on 'The Following'; 'Arrow' Photo Preview...

When we first meet Larissa (Freema Agyeman) in The Carrie Diaries, she is a fast-talking, free-spirited, independent young woman who knows how to make things happen for herself and make them work in Manhattan. To Carrie Bradshaw (AnnaSophia Robb), she has a glamorous life, filled with fabulous people and experiences, but series executive producer Amy B. Harris admitted that Larissa may be something of a "cautionary tale." Sure, she is the kind of tough chick Carrie needs to learn to be to survive in a big city environment, but she doesn't always make the best decisions. We saw that in the pilot when she shoplifted from Century 21 (it's a discount store, for crying out-loud!), and soon we will dive further into her wild child, party girl side... [MORE]

"Annie Parisse introduces her new The Following FBI agent/cult specialist"

The Following lost a lot of players in just the pilot episode, and all—even when not victims of violence—were at the hands of Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) in one way or another. The high turnover of characters certainly lends itself well to the tension and dramatic stakes of the series that anyone can be in danger at any time—because you never know who is really one of Carroll’s followers in the first place. But it also leaves room for brand new, more complex characters to come into the picture. The best example of that thus far is Agent Debra Parker (Annie Parisse), who is assigned to the case because of her knowledge of cults... [MORE]

"First Look: Arrow shares a secret, squares off against Deathstroke & Cyrus Vanch"

Get ready, Arrow fans; two very important foes for our hero Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) are being unmasked in one very important episode. Though we have seen Deathstroke before, now we will get to meet the man under his mask in Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett), as well as a new, "real world" type villain Cyrus Vanch (David Anders) in "Betrayal"... [MORE]

Celebuzz 'The Carrie Diaries' Preview: Austin Butler Says Sebastian Is Not Just a "Bad Boy"...

The Carrie Diaries has set up a world in which young Carrie Bradshaw (AnnaSophia Robb) will be experiencing a lot of firsts, growing up, and shaping herself, not just her life. Of course that means first love is a big part of all of those things, and that’s where Sebastian Kydd (Austin Butler) comes in.

Though when we meet Sebastian, we learn he has been kicked out of a few schools, and that is how he ended up at Carrie’s, Butler doesn’t want to be labeled a “bad boy.” After all, through flashbacks in the pilot we see just how sweet, even if not completely open, with Carrie he can be.

“I have a hard time with the [term] ‘bad boy.’ They used it in a script one time, and I asked them to take it out because it characterizes him in such a complete pigeonhole. But he’s got the image of a guy who’s been kicked out of three schools, and you end up finding out things about him that are maybe bad boy traits, but he’s sort of the bad boy with the heart of gold,” Butler said.


Friday, January 25, 2013

From LA Examiner: 'Supernatural' Preview Photos...

Things are about to heat up for Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) and get a whole lot more dangerous for Kevin (Osric Chau)! ... [MORE]

"First Look: Supernatural takes on Nazis and their own version of Golem"

Supernatural has taken on a lot of monsters and demons and even historical moments from the Titanic sinking to more personal times in the Campbell-Winchester family trees. But they are about to boldly go where most wouldn't dare: Nazis... [MORE]

Thursday, January 24, 2013

From LA Examiner: 'The Americans' Advance Review; 'Raising Hope' Wedding Photos; Robbie Amell Joins '1600 Penn'; Mather Zickel Talks 'Newsreaders'...

FX already has one spy series (Archer), but these days they are trying their hand at a much more serious, live-action version with The Americans, in which Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell star as KGB agents planted within a suburban American community, carrying out orders as directed. The Americans draws almost all of its initial suspense and intrigue from physical sequences—of both fighting and sexual kinds—which makes it an unevenly paced pilot event, dragging in many areas and making the viewing experience feel much longer than it actually was. The Americans is sure to be a slow burn, and we’re all for that kind of methodic storytelling with a clear path to the character drama set up from the start, but this is one pilot that just didn’t draw us in... [MORE]

"Lucas Neff & Gregg Binkley preview Raising Hope's wedding & honeymoon in L.A."

Raising Hope is taking full advantage of the fact that they film in Los Angeles but as a series are set elsewhere, in the fictional Natesville. When they want to do a destination episode-- in this case for Jimmy (Lucas Neff) and Sabrina's (Shannon Woodward) honeymoon-- they only need to look in their production's backyard. But in true Raising Hope form, they came up with quite the clever way to warrant a trip for the new Mr. and Mrs. Chance to head west... [MORE]

Robbie Amell spent a good chunk of his early career making a name for himself on comedic series like True Jackson VP and How I Met Your Mother (to this day, Scooby remains one of Robin’s most memorable boyfriends), but as he has matured, so have his roles. He recurred on Revenge, Pretty Little Liars, and most recently popped up in an episode of Hawaii Five-0. His cousin Stephen Amell stars on The CW’s Arrow, a series the younger Amell “would love to get on,” too. Maybe even as Superman? We could see it! For now, though, Amell is excited to return to the challenges of comedy with a role on NBC’s 1600 Penn... [MORE]

"Mather Zickel on the evolved, harder-hitting Newsreaders on Adult Swim"

You may remember Mather Zickel and his Newsreaders anchor role from Children's Hospital's "behind the scenes" episodes in which the audience got to know the actors behind the hospital doctors and nurses on the fictional show within a show. That version of Newsreaders was a little bit more Entertainment Tonight than the new Adult Swim series that premiered earlier this month, though. Instead of diving into celebrity stories or going behind-the-scenes with Newsreaders own correspondents to learn about them as characters, the show is focused on harder-hitting exposes in a parody of just about any and all news anchors in the real life world... [MORE]

Join Me At CommuniCon!...

Dean-dong! Who's there? Why, it's a swarm of Human Beings descending upon Los Angeles, and more specifically LA City College where Community shot a number of its pilot exteriors. Why the gathering, you may ask? Is it another Rally to Save Garrett? Were a number of counterfeit passes to Greendale's easiest courses printed? Is there a record to be broken with pillow or blanket forts or paintball games? Well, it's quite close: it's the first-ever CommuniCon fan weekend!

That's right, in the spirit of the early days of Comic Con, CommuniCon is a place where die hard fans of Community can gather, interact with each other and creative art pieces inspired by the show (including "Journey to the Center of Hawkthorne" video game demos), take part in a costume contest, and hear from those behind the show who have made it the cult classic that it is. And I'm even moderating the trivia contest!
CommuniCon is taking place from February 9-10 2013 at LACC, and you can click here to find out more about the event, tickets, and the fan movement around Community in general.

Who will I see there!?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Celebuzz 'Supernatural' Recap: "LARP and the Real Girl"...

Supernatural does meta better than almost any show on television right now, but admittedly after the last time they tapped into such a thing (with “Season 7, Time for a Wedding!”) I was skeptical that they could return to the idea of a fandom without insulting, well, all fandom in general.

Felicia Day assured me that “LARP and the Real Girl” was a celebration of those who dedicate their weekends (and spare cash) to role playing, and after viewing the episode for myself, Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki) weren’t the only ones converted into thinking this is a pretty fun lifestyle.

Give me a sword, I’m going to Moondoor!

Celebuzz 'American Horror Story: Asylum' Finale Recap...

American Horror Story: Asylum came to an end with an episode more focused on stylization and speeding through each main character's journey than shock value. Though, the tonal shift could have been jarring, somehow it surprisingly ended up feeling surprisingly comforting instead.

And maybe I'm a bit biased, but it was also a really nice note to see the good guys win for once!

But let's be honest: even when wrapping things up, there were still some crazy moments. After a season of Nazis, human experiments, alien abductions, shock treatments, a serial killer wearing a mask of human skin, and devil possession, I wouldn't have expected (or wanted) anything less.

Not-So Deep Thoughts on the Evolution of Memoirs & Dan Harmon's New Book...

When did we all become so fascinated with other people's lives?

Didn't it used to be that the only biographies found on shelves were of famous people? I mean, really, really famous people like Presidents and pop culture icons. And even then, they were more often biographies, not autobiographies, as if these untouchable people the public had placed on pedestals didn't want to seem crass or common enough to write with the ego needed to write about themselves. They were too special, so they had others tell their life stories. And those stories were always polished and made as nice as possible for the public to consume. In a way, they often became their own kind of fiction.

Maybe people used to write their life story, change the names, and slap "A Novel" after the title so it would end up in the fiction section, assuming no one cared to read about little old them. Maybe there weren't actually fewer biographies back in the day, but I just noticed less because my own interests were different.

But time went on and the definition of celebrity loosened. A lot. Now you can find an ode to Lucille Ball in the same section as a collection of books from the Real Housewives and their ghostwriters. Now you can look up "memoir" on and find satirical essays and first-person accounts of ordinary tales. People in the more recent past have taken things that should have been in the fiction section and stamped "A Memoir" after the title to capitalize on the trendy interest of peering into others' personal lives.  

Growing up in suburbia; growing up bipolar; growing up with a single mom, biracial parents, no parents, no religion, TV as your parent and religion. I wrote one of these, too. It's hardly a best-seller, but the fact that I have been able to sell any at all is a testament to how fascinating a stranger's life can be.

But with this craze, if we can call it that, considering most popular trends regarding media are cyclical, has been born a sense of honesty and rawness to the writing of such personal accounts. Biographies-- even autobiographies-- of the past always felt more formal, more academic. They listed facts, normally in chronological order, and accounted for important events in an important figure's life. But memoirs are different because their meat is not "what happened" but "how I felt about what happened and therefore how it changed me." They are the product of a much more self-aware society-- or at least one that is trying to be so. I'd argue they are also the product of a generation saying 'Stop putting insane pressure on me to be so perfect I am worthy of a biography and just love me-- or at least learn from me-- for who I am, flaws and all.'

Is it the fishbowl experiment? Is it the idea that you can feel better about your own life by reading about others' failures and missteps? Is it something less cynical than that, to feel connected to others, even strangers, by reading about the similarities they share with you? Or is it to read about a worldview and experience the opposite of your own in order to expand and actually learn? Is the grass always greener, or do you just want to appreciate yourself a little more? Is it just to make a connection at all, with something you know to be real?

I'm actually asking you guys this time. Not what you think it is for others, but what it is for you.

I'm asking because I'm reading Dan Harmon's "You'll Be Perfect When You're Dead," which is a collection of his blog posts, which is essentially a published version of his diary. They're his thoughts, his experiences, his relationships ripped open and shared with the world. I don't know if by old-timey standards he would have been a prime candidate for his story to be released as a biography. As it is, I get a lot of blank stares when I tell non-industry or non-LA friends about writers and producers I meet and interview, but actors, everybody knows. It's unfortunate, but it's been the way things have worked for decades. "The faces" get the fame; the ones with the hardest talent often get relegated to the background. Harmon is the perfect example of why such rigid formulas and rules don't work and why we should all be thankful there is a market for blogs and these kinds of books. 

You can't contain creativity in a box, and you can't force the truly unique to conform. So many of the things Harmon shares in his book, on his blog, are not popular opinions the mainstream want to hear out-loud. They might prefer such thought processes didn't exist, and they might be content to trick themselves into thinking they actually don't. But for the rest of us? It's such a huge f***ing relief to realize we're not floating out there alone in a sea of complex ideas and ways of identifying (one's self and one's problems). 

Harmon mentions early enough in the book that writing so publicly helps him (he probably wouldn't call it a form of therapy, but I would), but it's bound to help other people, too. Even if you've never had something you created go on without you. Even if you never created a show at all. If you've loved, lost, laughed, felt different or not good enough-- or too good-- you will connect with his works and his words. It's self-help in the way that you read one man's experiences and can't help but project yourself onto them. How you feel about what he's saying, what you would have done in his position, etc. When the personal is deep enough, it becomes universal.

And isn't that the reaction for which any true writer-- any true artist-- strives?

Celebuzz 'American Horror Story' Finale Preview...

The last we left Lana (Sarah Paulson) on Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story: Asylum, she had lost a little bit of her way. Or so it seemed. The strong, fearless, independent journalist who stepped into Briarcliff to expose its conditions and the criminals it was thought to house initially suddenly veered off. Consumed by fame, and probably a bit of anger, she spun the truth and ignored promises. 

Lana was always driven, cunning, and focused, though. She had a plan, and though she was forced to deviate it from a bit, her intelligence was always the biggest in the room, and so was her ambition. Lana's desire to expose Briarcliff will therefore come back in a big way for the series finale episode, "Madness Ends," which sees Lana returning to the asylum once more-- this time with a camera crew.

"That’s one of the first things when I and the writers landed on the idea of Asylum—that period of time, those documentaries that were made—there was a very famous documentary that Geraldo Rivera made in that time period, and this is a loose homage of that," Murphy said of the finale that showcases Lana's "most controversial" work. 

"Also there was a brilliant movie that we were inspired by for this last episode, this brilliant documentary called Cropsey, that was also about the unraveling healthcare system in our country and how so many people were dumped there and left to rot there. All those abuses that you see, we studied pictures of, and we recreated. We did a lot of research. But that was our jumping off point. In the beginning of the series, we knew we were going to have that character going there, becoming a prisoner…and then go back to tear the joint down."

Celebuzz 'Supernatural' Preview: Felicia Day Talks "LARP and the Real Girl"...

The last we saw Charlie (Felicia Day) on Supernatural, she was high-tailing it out of town with a one-way bus ticket and a new crop of scarring memories thanks to helping the Winchesters take on Dick Roman.

The computer genius and all around Geek Girl extraordinaire proved to be of great help to Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki) once before, when they needed someone with her expertise to hack Roman's computers. It has been over a year since the Winchesters have crossed paths with Charlie, but soon enough, they are going to need her particular brand of knowledge again when they stumble upon the death of a couple of LARPers. Wouldn't you know it? Charlie has extensive knowledge about that world-- and the particular game the two were playing when they were killed.

How have Dean and Sam survived without her!?


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

From LA Examiner: 'The New Normal' Set Visit Spoilers; 'Arrow' Tommy Merlyn Spoilers...

"We pull from what's happening in society and culture and gay or not gay, we're just hoping to tell interesting stories that people will relate to...Sometimes the issues that we hit are just life's issues that we decide to put inside a story," The New Normal executive producer Ali Adler said when LA TV Insider Examiner visited the Los Angeles set last week... [MORE

The character of Tommy Merlyn on The CW's Arrow is constantly in someone else's shadow. First it was Oliver's (Stephen Amell), as Tommy was seemingly second choice and second best when it came to business, wealth, and winning the heart of Laurel (Katie Cassidy), but as we've gotten to know Tommy, we've learned it cuts much deeper than that, as he is in his father's (John Barrowman) shadow first and foremost, and that may just inform who he is and the decisions he makes more than anything else... [MORE]