MSN TV Blog - TV Buzz

‘Lights Out’ introduces several intriguing new characters in a strong second episode

By Miss Sarah Jo Jan 19, 2011 9:23AM

Holt McCallanyActions have consequences.  Of course, everybody knows this, but some people are, shall we say, quick to take action and forgetful of the consequences.  By dealing right away with the fall-out from Lights breaking the Morristown dentist’s arm (in front of several witnesses), ‘Lights Out’ plays fair with the audience and brings some new facets to what seemed like stock characters.

Take Theresa. Faced with this ‘insane’ (to her) accusation of assault, she doesn’t panic. Instead she immediately pops out an alibi for Lights, just as if she was planning a carpool for the kids. Or look at Lights’ middle daughter Daniella.  Their relationship seems more like two adult friends, particularly when she ferrets out his diagnosis of dementia and he asks her to ‘keep it between us’.  Making the family relationships more complicated bodes well for the future.

There are also some new folks on the scene. Ben Shenkman’s washed-up dead-eyed sports reporter and Lenny Venito’s corrupt beady-eyed beat cop are fine examples of the deep bench of character actors in this ensemble.  And apparently Johnny and Patrick Leary have a sister whose just as feisty and tough as them, played by Elizabeth Marvel.  It will be nice to see her for longer than the last five minutes of ‘True Grit’.

But the VIP of supporting turns was the wonderful Bill Irwin as Hal Brennan.  Unfailingly polite, rather soft-spoken, acting more like an exhausted middle manager than Big Boss Bookie Guy, it is inspired casting.  With only one short scene, Irwin establishes a presence – politically connected enough to bribe a DA and ruthless enough to take out the guy that tries to rob him.  Cool stuff.

  • My apologies to Catherine McCormack, since I have learned that she IS playing a European (Irish or English, I assume).  So what I called a wavering American accent is actually the correct sound of a non-American who has lived here for quite a while.
  • I don’t know enough (or anything really) about boxing to know quite what was going on in the ‘training’ fight between Lights and the ‘reckless’ young boxer. Anyone out there that can enlighten me?
  • Did Pablo Schreiber bulk up between the pilot and now?
  • I am going to start a list of  ‘Stuff That People Are Not Telling Theresa’.  (“What happens in Bayonne, stays in Bayonne.”)

As the sweet CW show takes its final bow, tune in to find out what you've been missing

By Sona Charaipotra Jan 18, 2011 4:25PM
Photo courtesy CW TVSigh. And so another one bites the dust. 

Like so many heartfelt dramas before it, "Life Unexpected," the sweet CW show about a teen foster kid who ends up finding -- and reuniting -- her birth parents when she tries to achieve emancipation from the system, takes its final bow tonight. 

The show, set in Portland and featuring a more realistically beautiful cast than most CW efforts, captured something special in its short-lived existence: an authentic angst despite some far-fetched relationships, a zeitgeist-y acknowledgement that we all feel like we're going nowhere, despite plowing painfully ahead. And the cast pulled it off beautifully: Kris Polaha was the Peter Pan dad as Baze. As Cate, Shiri Appleby captured today's 30-something fear of commitment -- to ANYTHING. And as Lux, newcomer Britt Robertson really hit the wise-beyond-her-years yet clearly-destructive teen. 

Sound interesting? Well, too little to late. Still, it's a great time to tune in and see exactly what you've been missing. And while show creator Liz Tigelaar promises a happy ending for fans of the misfit high school sweethearts Cate and Baze, it's bittersweet for the rest of us.

With Regis Philbin retiring, here's who we think could hold their own against perky Kelly Ripa

By Sona Charaipotra Jan 18, 2011 2:44PM
Photo courtesy ABC
The end of an era? This morning, long-time ABC talk show host with the most Regis Philbin announced he was calling it a day. After 28 years of questioning people in the hot seat, the 79-year-old chatterbox will be retiring late this summer or early this fall. 

"I don't want to alarm anybody, but this will be my last year on the show," he said this morning on "Regis and Kelly." "It's been a long time -- 28 years since I've been here -- and it was the biggest thrill of my life. There is a time that everything must come to an end for certain people on camera, especially certain old people."

Back in 2000, much ado was made about who would replace Philbin's then-co-host, Kathie Lee Gifford. (She has since landed back on TV as a co-host on the "Today" show with pal Hoda Kotb.) "All My Children" star Ripa, who'd appeared on the show and had great chemistry with Reege, fit the bill perfectly.

So who'll fill Regis' mighty shoes -- and manage to hold their own against perky, multi-tasking Kelly Ripa? A lot of names are being bandied about -- from Ricky Gervais (a major risk, no, given the Golden Globes fiasco?) to Anderson Cooper (who's got his own show headed to the air this fall), but these seem to be the strongest contenders:

Larry King: Young-at-heart King, 77 -- a full two years younger than Reege! -- has already volunteered to step up, at least for a few weeks. "I would get a kick out of that," King said this morning. "I would do that in a minute." Alas, we're pretty sure producer Michael Gelman isn't into the idea of replacing another retiring host in a year or two.

Jeff Probst: Longtime "Survivor" host Probst was a perfect fill-in for Reege on several occasions. And as we learned from his other gig, he's not afraid to ask pointed questions or stir up a bit of controversy. All great qualities in a daytime talker, no? 

Nick Cannon: Younger man Cannon, who already hosts a radio show in New York City, is a family-man-in-training, which should make for an interesting dynamic between him and Kelly. Can't you just see him showing off pictures of his twins with Mariah Carey (due this summer or fall) on national TV? 

Neil Patrick Harris: Harris is on a hot streak, between "How I Met Your Mother," "Glee" and his multiple hosting gigs, so it's only natural he find a gig that really capitalizes on his clear talents. Plus, he's a proud (and opinionated) new papa, so that happy parenting banter between the two could make for some riveting daytime drama. 

Mark Consuelos: Often dubbed Mr. Kelly Ripa, husband and former "All My Children" costar Consuelos definitely knows how to keep up with his feisty wife. But can he master multi-tasking like she does? After all, he's busy acting, producing, and playing dad to their brood of three kids. 

Who would you like to see replace Regis? Or is the man in a class all his own? 

'Glee' star on what's ahead for his character and the show

By MSN TV Jan 17, 2011 5:59PM

"Glee" star Chris Colfer (Kurt) is the talk of the town after taking home the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, and word is, he's going to stash his new award under his bed.

When MSN TV talked with Colfer at the Fox TCA All Star party a few days before, however, Colfer had different ideas – maybe because he didn't think he'd really win!


Here's what Colfer had to say about playing Kurt, his fave "Glee" moments, and the upcoming Super Bowl episode.


MSN TV: What can we expect from the much-talked about "Thriller" performance in the "Glee" Super Bowl episode?


Chris Colfer: It's insane. I was not part of that, but I watched it. I'm still at Dalton Academy. We do a "Destiny's Child" number over there, which is cool, but it's nothing compared to "Thriller". That number was incredible. I almost got teary eyed, it was so good.


Will Kurt ever get back to McKinley High and his original New Directions "Glee" pals?


I hope he breaks some rule or does something promiscuous to get kicked out. [Laughs] When I heard about the storyline, I knew I'd miss everyone, but I also thought, "Wow, you're creating this whole other universe and a love interest!" I'm in the same position as Kurt, where I miss everyone, but the Warbler guys are so fun that I'm going to miss them if I go back.


What is it like working with Darren Criss (Blaine)?


It's just great. I was a huge fan of his "Harry Potter" musical. I used to watch it all the time with my friends, so I was maybe a little star struck, actually. I'm a big fan.


Who's been your favorite guest star this season? 

Gwyneth Paltrow, and she's coming back! I'm so excited. Carol Burnett -- living legend! We've lucked out. There hasn't been a single guest star I haven't likec.


What's been your favorite performance of the season?


I loved "Teenage Dream". That's such a great song, and it was a great arrangement. I'm a huge "Rocky Horror" fan, so I loved that. I didn't enjoy doing the three hours of hair and makeup every day, but I loved doing "Time Warp".


Not everyone in America is open-minded about homosexuality: Have you had any negative fan experiences?


It's impossible to please everyone with what you do and with a storyline, which is out of my control, but I represent it. Sometimes people get so excited when they see you that they lose all self control. You have to walk them through it. "Count to ten. Deep breath."


What's been your wildest run-in with a fan?


I have a merry band of stalkers that always keep me entertained, but I couldn't pick one experience.


How will it feel to take home a Golden Globe?


That would be awesome. I think we need to display them in the William McKinley trophy cases, with the People's Choice and all. Wouldn’t that be funny?


What advice do you have for kids who want to break into the biz?


Make sure that it's the actual craft you love, and not the supposed perks. Those perks come back to bite you. They're not as glamorous as they seem. There's a lot you give up. Also, if you're lucky enough to get a break, like I said, don't try to please everyone, because it's impossible. You'll go crazy trying. Educate yourself in the whole business. It's strange that I'm giving advice, because I usually need advice the most, myself!


How do you stay grounded?


It's hard. By taking it very seriously. Along with the award nominations, which are fantastic, there's a great amount of responsibly that comes with playing Kurt. Also, I have huge feet and I'm constantly tripping over myself, so that always brings me down from any pedestal I would put myself on.






Big names to guest star on CBS show

By MSN TV Jan 17, 2011 3:01PM
"The Good Wife" has lured over some big names to guest star on the show--and now word comes that Michael J Fox, Jane Alexander, Method Man, F. Murray Abraham, Rita Wilson, Jerry Stiller, America Ferrera and Gary Cole have also signed on for various episodes in February.

"The Good Wife" creator Robert King says the show has three things to thank for the wealth of big name guests: casting director Mark Saks, the show's New York location which is rich with actors and the onset vibe created by Julianna Margulies (Alicia) and exec producer Brooke Kennedy.

"They create this very homey atmosphere," King raves. "Michael J. Fox (Louis Canning) was loving it and was wanted to come back, which is very gratifying to us.

America Ferrera (Ugly Betty), in particular, has signed on for a three episode arc that starts Feb 22.

"She is someone who Eli (Alan Cummings) thinks he's going to used  in the campaign, but in the process, he struggles with the fact that he's becoming attracted to her," previews King. "He was going to use her to create a scandal about Wendy in the campaign."

Stiller plays a narcoleptic judge in that Feb 22 episode, which also sees Cole's return as fire arms expert Kurt McVeigh.

Before that look for Alexander on Feb 1; Fox and Method Man ("The Wire") on Feb. 8 and Abrahams and Wilson on Feb. 15.

So who would the show-runners love to get next? On the political front, "The Good Wife" has landed a cameo Vernon Jordan, but would love to land ex-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and attorney Barry Scheck.

On the talent front, King really has his eye on a special actress.

"Meryl Streep," Robert King says. "If Mamie (Nancy Gummer) would talk to her mother! [laughs]."
With the season still in production and casting, there's still room for more big name visitors in season 2. Maybe even Streep.

"We all have dreams," says King.


The 'Glee' star uses his Golden moment to take an anti-bullying stand

By Sona Charaipotra Jan 17, 2011 2:58PM
Photo courtesy FOXWe here at TV Buzz have always said that "Glee" star Chris Colfer is one of Hollywood's best (dressed) and brightest. And it seems, finally, someone agrees with us.

Colfer, who plays struggling, newly-out Kurt Hummel on the FOX hit, took home the trophy for best supporting actor on a TV series at yesterday's Golden Globes -- and was perhaps the most gracious and heartfelt of the night's winners.

"I want to thank [show creator] Ryan Murphy for basically being my fairy godfather," he said as he accepted his award. "But most importantly, to all the amazing kids that watch our show and the kids that our show celebrates, who are constantly told 'no' by the people in their environments, by bullies at school that they can't be who they are or have what they want because of who they are. Well, screw that, kids."
Backstage, Colfer, 20, confessed that he was doing his best not to cry, considering how long he'd been waiting for that magic moment. "I hate to say I'm a Cinderfella, but I've been watching the Globes since I was an embryo," he said laughing, before losing his composure just a bit. "Now I'm really trying not to cry, but one of the best things, for all the kids who are watching tonight, who don't understand that Kurt Hummel is a character….they saw him win for being exactly who he is and that's great."

As for where that Golden Globe trophy is going -- well, nowhere, really. "I think I am going to sleep with it," Colfer said. "It is not going to leave my bedside. Usually when I get this [in my dreams] is when I wake up. So I am going to keep it very close."

And in other big Globes "Glee" news, show creator Ryan Murphy revealed that Colfer fave Anne Hathaway will be the musical comedy's next big guest star, as Kurt's lesbian aunt. Sounds like more fun times ahead!


Oxygen searches for the show's next star

By MSN TV Jan 14, 2011 5:08PM
Ryan Murphy and his "Glee" team search for the next "Glee" star in "The Glee Project". The "Glee" reality spin-off is coming to Oxygen in June, 2011 and the winner will land a guest-starring role on season three.

"This is not a singing competition, nor is it a dancing competition, nor is it an acting competition," previewed "The Glee Project" producer Michael David. "It's ultimately about who is going to have that magic spark across all of these different characteristics to inspire the writing team of 'Glee.'"

"Glee" creator and show runner Ryan Murphy has his hands in the project, but it's unclear just how much we'll see of him during the competition. Luckily, other members of the "Glee" team are involved, including producer Dante Di Loreto and casting director Robert J. Ulrich, who has been hard at work narrowing down the number of contestants.

"I saw 34,000 people on MySpace, with a team, obviously," Ulrich starts. "Then I had industry auditions in Los Angeles and saw industry people from all over the United States on tape. Then we had an open call in Chicago and in Fort Worth. So it's about 40,000 people."

Ulrich has so far cut the pool down to about 85 contenders who are heading west for the final cut. 

"They are all coming to Los Angeles, where they're going to perform for all of us and Ryan, and we're going to make our final judgment on the 12 people who are going to go into what we like to think of as 'Glee' academy, 'Glee' boot camp, 'Glee' university," Ulrich continues. "[They will be] trained by the real creative team on 'Glee,' mentoring them, helping them every step of the way. They are going to push themselves to the limits as performers and go through what it takes to be good enough to be in that show. It's a very demanding show."

In addition to contenders who were already trying to break into the biz, the show found "thousands" of breakout hopefuls in the open casting calls, including performers who'd traveled from Singapore, London and Netherlands.

"We actually had people who had never even sung outside their own bedroom or their own kitchen or their own bathroom," producer Michael Davies marveled. "They'd never sung for anybody in their life, and Robert was the first person they'd ever sung for."
The one thing all the contestants have in common is that they can pass for high school kids and fit into the McKinley High action.

"The net was so wide, because in 'The Glee Project,' as on 'Glee,' everybody's appropriate - any size, shape, ethnicity, everyone - and that's what makes it so wonderful," Ulrich said.

"The Glee Project" premieres on Oxygen in June. In the meantime, you can peek at some of the auditions and catch Oxygen's "Gleekend" marathon of some of the show's best episodes starting Feb. 5.


'Ally McBeal' creator David E. Kelley is back with another quirky law series

By MSN TV Jan 14, 2011 3:44PM
The king of law dramedies David E. Kelley ("Boston Legal," "The Practice," "Ally McBeal") is back in the game and this time, his star is Academy Award winner Kathy Bates. Bates plays a lawyer forced to make a new start, alongside costars Nate Corddry, Brittany Snow, Christopher McDonald and Aml Ameen.

"At its core, it's about a 60 year old woman who has to start life over again and reinvent herself in every sense of the word," Kelly set up. "In the pilot, she's got to get a job. This is a woman who never really believed life is richer with people in it. The equations of relationships never appealed to her. Over the course of this first season, she makes room for a possibility that relationships are not an evil thing."

"She's a bit disillusioned," Bates chimed in. "She's a bit crazy. She's had it with people."

The title role was originally imagined as a "grumpy, cantankerous old man." Then Bates got a hold of the script and fell in love with Harry.

"She had her feet up on the desk, was smoking pot and was watching Bugs Bunny," Bates panned. "After that, I was hooked."

Her two caveats on taking the role? Don't change a word now that Harry's a woman and Kelly was happy to oblige.

Of course, with ex producers Kelley and Bill D'Elia ("Boston Legal," "The Practice") involved, the law does come into play.

"At the end of 'Boston Legal', I made one promise to myself: the next show wasn't going to be a law show," Kelley admitted. "But I found I did miss getting into topical subject matter. I also felt that the economic times had changed so drastically. I'd like to get a voice in these more desperate times, which led to the idea of touching on the disparity of wealth in this world."

In other words, "Harry's Law" isn't about fancy law firms and highfalutin clients. Instead, Harry sets up shop in a failed shoe store the middle of a struggling neighborhood.

"The cases and clients are as many and varied as the personalities that come through that door," Kelley previews. "We never know what's coming. She's mediating a gang dispute one week. She's trying to procure an organ transplant for an ex gang member the next. Then she's in prison trying to secure parole. It's a different form of street justice. A lot is unconventional law, practiced from the hip by a lawyer who is not used to it, in a strange, new world."

"There's a lightness to the shoe store that is in this dark neighborhood," Brittany Snow adds. "These are dark subject matters and things are going on that are real, but there's this bright shoe store in the middle of all of it with these people who are fighting for what's right, and then there's this comedic stuff, especially with my character being quirky, crazy and all over the place."

No stranger to the prime-time game, Kelley is trying to be realistic about his expectations for his new show.
"We're not kidding ourselves," Kelley said. "We know it will be tough sledding. We're in a difficult time slot [Mondays at 10 p.m.] and it's not conventional. We have a 60-year-old lead. But I have to believe that given the universe of 500 plus channels, there has to be room for one or two series that are willing to engage and talk openly. I realize you alienate part of your constituency when you do that, but any writer has to sit down and decide what he wants to write and find a franchise that services that. I'm excited about this one. This group has gelled. We're fertile ground to tell complicated stories, both legal and relying on human behavior. Our fingers are crossed."
As a side note for "The Office" fans, Bates had one last bit of news: "We wrapped shooting yesterday, so I'm going to appear on a couple more episodes of  'The Office' this spring."

"Harry's Law" premieres Monday, Jan. 17 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.