MSN TV Blog - TV Buzz

Under pressure from parents groups, Taco Bell pulls ads

By Sona Charaipotra Jan 20, 2011 5:24PM

Photo courtesy MTV

When the Parents Television Council gets on your case, you know you're in trouble.

And two days ago, the watchdog group called for a boycott of Taco Bell, which advertised during the premiere of MTV's racy new scripted drama "Skins," which the PTC labeled "the most dangerous program that has ever been foisted on your children."

So today, the fast food chain announced it was pulling ads from the show's roster. "We advertise on a variety of MTV programs that reach our core demographic of 18 to 34 year olds, which included the premiere episode of 'Skins,'" the company said in a statement. "Upon further review, we’ve decided that the show is not a fit for our brand and have moved our advertising to other MTV programming."

The announcement comes hot on the heels of news that the PTC is calling for an investigation of whether the MTV show, based on a Brit hit by the same title, constitutes child pornography. 

Not buying it? Apparently, the yet-to-air third episode has a 17-year-old talking about erectile dysfunction before running naked through a street with his bum exposed. The PTC threat and internal concerns apparently even had MTV execs considering pulling -- or at least toning down -- the program's salacious content, according to a recent New York Times report. The nudity wouldn't be such a major issue (especially given content on subscriber channels like HBO and Showtime) except for the fact that the actors cast on the show are all actual teenagers themselves, ages 15 to 19. Then there's the fact that MTV already toned down their American version considerably in comparison to it's UK counterpart, which took advantage of Brit TV culture's more flexible TV standards. 

And of course, not everyone is bashing the show. In a review last week, a Newsweek critic called it perhaps "the most realistic show on television," given its portrayal of teenage drug use, sexuality, eating disorders, depression and, of course, angst. MTV credits this dose of "reality" to 30 teenaged consultants its hired to sound of in the writers' room. Still, this version of teen life earned the show a TV MA rating -- clearly not enough to satisfy the Parents Television Council. 

Do you think MTV show tone down "Skins"? Or do American TV audiences need to loosen up?  


Examining degrees of loyalty on another winning ‘Cougar Town’

By Miss Sarah Jo Jan 20, 2011 12:55AM

The real love storyHow do you balance devotion with honesty when it comes to your friendships, your parents, or even your local bar? Can you love someone and still be up-front about the things that drive you crazy? ‘Cougar Town’ keeps slipping more astute observations about these types of questions into its usual rapid-fire silliness. And it does it while giving the delightful Busy Phillips more lovely human moments to play. 


Laurie “Whap-Bam!” Keller is an over-the-top caricature of the blowsy, ditsy, dizzy blonde – necklaces that double as belt buckles, talking about a skirt that shows off her ‘drumsticks’, “Can I borrow this thong?”. But then she turns truly vulnerable. The moment where she admits to Jules that she made up a reason for them to spend more time together and then quietly added “I’m really sorry it sucked so bad for you” was simple, straightforward and completely touching.


Meanwhile, the plot about Travis needing advice and hurting his father’s feeling by going to Grayson first was pretty weak, even if it did have some choice Bobby moments (“I’m this close to a great idea, but the sound of my breath’s getting in my head, so I’m just gonna hold it for a while.”)  And testing Ellie’s loyalty to the group by a tempting new wine bar run by a guy almost as bitchy as she is was only intermittently enjoyable, mostly in her random insults to people walking by off-screen.   Still, it resulted in a great group photo!

  • Sadly, I might also drop a friend if she named her daughter “Chesapeake”.
  • “Bye bye nice moment.”
  • “My nachos are great! I use three kinds of cheeses!”
  • Thrilling to me: Courtney Cox’s dark blue tank top. Not thrilling to me: Dan Byrd’s center-parted hairdo
  • “Starting To Own It” Cougar Town

Gervais' David Brent will run into his U.S. counterpart, Michael Scott, sooner than you think

By Sona Charaipotra Jan 19, 2011 4:10PM
Photo courtesy BBC America
He might have called Steve Carell an "ungrateful bastard" on the Golden Globes, but apparently, he couldn't let him go without a proper send-off. 

Yup, Ricky Gervais will be appearing on the American version of the show he created, "The Office." And it will happen sooner than we all expected. 

In fact, New York magazine reports that we can expect to see Gervais' Brit "Office" boss David Brent run into his American counterpart, Michael Scott, on the show's January 27 episode. 

"It's a little more than if you blink, you'll miss it, but if you don't set your TiVo right, you'll miss it," said American "Office" showrunner Paul Lieberstein (who also plays HR honcho Toby on the show). 

Steve Carell and Gervais, who's credited as an exec producer on the American show, apparently shot their soon-to-be infamous run-in way back in September, when the Brit comedian was in town for the Emmys. 

"Ricky had wanted to do something [with the U.S. "Office"] and felt like we shouldn't go the whole series without them connecting," Lieberstein added. "But we had some issues to work out, like how does David Brent live in the world of Michael Scott?"

So how does David Brent live in the world of Michael Scott? Away from Dunder-Mifflin. "It's outside of the office, and it's just the two of them interacting. It's just a ltitle nod to Steve and his final year. We didn't even tell NBC at first. So Ricky worked for free. But don't print that -- it might get him in trouble with the INS."

Are you excited to see Gervais -- who's still getting flack for his cantankerous Golden Globes run -- on the American version of the show he created? Or should David Brent and Michael Scott continue to live in different worlds?  

Fox picks up drama pilots from 'Veronica Mars' and 'Heroes' creators

By Sona Charaipotra Jan 19, 2011 3:02PM
Photo Courtesy NBC
Last week, we rounded up the familiar faces and concepts coming to your TV screen this fall

And this week, Fox announces that it's going for more tried and true TV. Only this time, the old stand-bys are show creators Tim Kring, the mastermind behind "Heroes," and Rob Thomas -- not the Matchbox Twenty frontman, but the "Veronica Mars" and "Party Down" helmer. 

Fox announced yesterday that it was picking up Thomas' latest, a single-camera comedy called "Little In Common." The show will focus on three families united -- or perhaps divided? -- by the their kids' little league sports team. 

Tim Kring's new pilot was written on spec -- meaning without a confirmed network deal up front -- and stays true to his "Heroes" roots. The show will be called "Touch," and centers on a dad who discovers that his mute, autistic kid is clairvoyant. 

Already on tap for fall are a Bryan Fuller ("Pushing Daisies") take on "The Munsters," JJ Abrams go at "Alcatraz," "Supernatural" showrunners Al Gough and Miles Millar's version of "Charlie's Angels" and another new drama pilot by "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes, who's latest, "Off the Map" just premiered on ABC.  

‘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.