From the outset, it's looking like the Angelo and Kenny show
By Sora Young
Special to MSN TV
Did anyone say rivalry? It's only the first episode of "Top Chef" and it's already war. It's tough tracking the jumble of chefs during the first (and second, and third) episodes, but by the end of the Quickfire, it was obvious: This is gonna be the Angelo and Kenny show. Kenny on Angelo: "I really don't see Angelo as being a threat. I just see him as an obstacle." Let the cooking games begin!
This new season takes place in Washington D.C., with a more diverse crop of chefs and a good number of the 17 chefs from the mid-Atlantic, but frankly, the host city is always just a backdrop for the drama in the kitchen. Past seasons of "Top Chef" are packed with arrogant chefs I loved to hate who also made the most tantalizing food imaginable -- Hung Huynh and Michael Voltaggio are chief among them. Angelo and Kenny have plenty of potential to join that list. I also sort of loved Arnold, with his "mom-and-pop" restaurant in Nashville and because I'd like to see some hip swivels and dancing in general in the Top Chef kitchen. Then there's Andrea, whom I'm dubbing this season's dark horse candidate. Well, she was named one of Food & Wine magazine's Best New Chefs in 2000, so it's not like she should sneak up on anybody, but I like to think she could challenge those cocky guys. And I must mention new judge Eric Ripert, he of the dreamy French accent, who is already the best judge ever. All the renowned seafood chef does is glance at the chefs and they are utterly terrified. Perfect.
Let's start from the beginning. During the meet 'n greet, Angelo immediately rattled off his resume: working with Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Alain Ducasse and his recent trip to Monte Carlo. That's the way to win ‘em over. But then Angelo proved his speedy knife skills during the first Quickfire mise en place challenge, when the chefs competed to peel potatoes, dice onions and break down chickens the fastest, then cooked the best dish from the three ingredients. The competition came down to him and Kenny, and Angelo squeezed out his new nemesis with roasted spiced chicken with curried onion jam and potato noodles. "I actually want to be the first contestant to win every single challenge." Them's fighting words, A.
Then came the Elimination Challenge and a perfectly masterminded set-up. The chefs split into teams of four, whose members were their direct competition. The four Quickfire challengers were allowed to pick the chefs they wanted to compete against. They naturally aimed for who they thought were the weakest and launched a wave of anxiety among chefs selected first. It was nefarious and awesome.
The chefs were asked to cook something that represented where they are from, for a celebration of the capital's Cherry Blossom Festival. After chicken livers, fennel and frozen puff pastry were swept up during the whirlwind shopping expedition, errors ratcheted up the pressure in the kitchen. Jacqueline makes a bizarre decision to go "light" on her chicken liver mousse and not include extra fat, John burns his macadamia nuts for his maple mousse napoleon and Tracey calls Stephen a "little hick from some country town," but not to his face. Nope, that would be mean.
The judges then started to sort the wheat from the cooking chaff. Angelo's smoked arctic char, Kenny's black bean mole with cinnamon-coffee trout, Alex's deconstructed borscht and Kevin's lamb all land in the top four. Eric Ripert praised Angelo's bacon foam on his char, and the judges admire how Alex's deconstructed borscht maintained the dish's original flavors. Kenny's trout was "really flavorful" and Kevin's lamb dish is lauded for its simplicity with complex flavors. But Angelo lives up to his swagger, winning the Elimination Challenge and making it a double! We may have another Hung on our hands.
The bottom four were hardly a surprise, with John and his maple dessert and Jacqueline's liver mousse ranking among the day's worst. John explained his use of store-bought puff pastry: "I guess I just was being stupid." Eric Ripert's entertainment value also increased exponentially when he compared Stephen's cut-up rib eye to chicken nuggets, which sounds a little softer when topped with a French accent.
But head judge Tom Colicchio was not about to let Eric steal all the one-liners, and sent John and his soggy puff pastry off with "I don't think we saw who you were as a chef unless it was as a first-year pastry student." Ouch.
Welcome back, "Top Chef."
'Glee' might be in repeats, but high school drama abounds on ABC Family's 'Liars'
Anyway, so I digress. But if you, like me, are looking for some frothy summer fun, check out ABC Family's latest original, "Pretty Little Liars."
The show, like many others on TV of late, is based on a teen novel series. But the vibe is decidedly more understated than, say, a "Gossip Girl." But the premise is sort of "Gossip Girl" -- from the grave.
"Liars" centers on four high school BFFs whose clique has disintegrated after the mysterious disappearance of their fifth pal, Allison, the Queen Bee who apparently knew everyone's dirty little secrets.
Thing is, just as her body is finally found, a year after her disappearance, the girls starting getting beyond-the-grave texts that are supposedly from their dearly departed pal. And the secrets she spills about in these texts are things only Allison would have known about. Meanwhile, a (decidedly hot) detective has just started investigating the case -- and the girls are his top suspects. Plus, they've got drama of their own -- Aria (Lucy Hale) made out with a smart and sexy older guy, only to learn he's her new English teacher. Emily (Shay Mitchell) really, really likes her new pal Maya (Bianca Lawson), who just moved into Allison's old house. Spencer (Troian Avery Bellisario) has a thing for her bossy older sister's fiance. And Hanna has developed a shoplifting habit in the midst of her parents split.
With strong turns from the girls and well-casted parental figures -- including Chad Lowe as Aria's cheating dad, Holly Marie Combs as her pregnant-and-oblivious mom, and Laura Leighton as Hanna's broke mom -- "Liars" is sure to deliver the quiet sizzle, a slow burn really, that we're looking for from a summer show. A DVR-worthy drama for sure.
Here's a sneak peek at tonight's episode, which airs on ABC Family at 8 p.m.:
Season 3's opening bow was full of laughs, gore, sex and drugs. Just another educational HBO evening....
There was a reason we suggested tuning into last night's Season 3 premiere of "True Blood" as an antidote to your post-May Sweeps blues. And not just because we're incredibly indifferent toward the World Cup.
While it's always a couple-episode adjustment before settling into the show's harried pace, hyper-lurid storytelling and dark-as-night camp, it's also cable's most reliably giddy fun.
But, of course, we at TV Buzz also prefer to glean the educational value from our favorite program, and thus put together a list of the five most significant things we learned about "True Blood," life, love, death and, most importantly, ourselves in the, er, wake of last night's re-launch.
5. When there's a break between seasons, it's amazing how much more melodramatic some of the overacting is (especially Evan Rachel Wood as the Queen). It's like waking up from a televised one-night stand and taking off your black dramedy beer goggles the following morning.
4. So if vampires are in Louisiana and Texas, and werewolves dwell in Mississippi, is it safe to now reasonably assume that in "True Blood" world, New York is populated by armies of aspiring musicians with eye shadow and skinny jeans?
3. Lafayette's one-of-a-kind vernacular and outrageously hideous wardrobe are still the show's most overlooked treat.
2. Although easy to root for when she breaks character and gets into Sigourney Weaver-in-"Alien" mode, Sookie is still the most uneventful central character.
1. If you are a white male in his late-20s to mid-30s and live in rural parishes of Louisiana, it is absolutely required that your ass be a more idyllic full moon than the werewolf-coaxing pie-in-the-sky itself.
Going Gaga for 'White Collar' and all the other small-screen happenings since Monday
Hey folks. Sorry to have left you sans a Week in Review last Friday, but I was finally catching up with my back taxes from the '80s.... The 1880s!
Thankfully, my finances are all settled and I'm back to delivering an inventory of pop-culture info to the real IRS: International Reality Viewers and Stuff. And what a week it's been. From Lady Gaga's calculatedly scandalous new video to my exploits on the "White Collar" set and Ali Fedotowsky's rigorous selection from a crop of 14 eligible yuppies.
Fortunately for you all, Week in Review wraps up the previous several days in TV and related news, and allows us to step back from the hall of pop-culture mirrors, look at how we've spent our time and wallow in the deep, pitiable shame.
So, without further "What's up, Doc? Oh, I'm sorry to hear about your loss," here are five of the most notable small-screen-pertinent happenings for the week of June 7-11, 2010:
"THE BACHELORETTE" DOWN TO A POLISHED DOZEN
Despite hobbled Justin's courageous journey to Ali's house and alter-ego as Rated-R, the remaining 12 contestants on this season's "Bachelorette" are, per usual, a decidedly less-than-provocative bunch. Am I the only one's who's kind of bummed that '80s movie-villain archetype Craig M?
LADY GAGA IS CUCKOO FOR CATHOLIC REBUFFS
Not to Ms. Germanotta: The only thing more likely to engender backlash than littering your ads with product placements despite claims of being a performance artist or flipping off Mets faithful at a baseball game (and please, we know you're really a Yankees fan) is to commit the unholy sacrilege of being utterly derivative yet assuming your audience has short pop-culture memories. Just go away already.
"JERSEY SHORE" SPAWNS INCESTUOUS PROGRAMMING
Yes, that was probably a cheap shot, but really, I'm just following the unapologetic, insensitive example of networking casting agents like the brains behind "Jersey Shore" and its impending rural offspring, "Party Down South."
"WHITE COLLAR" STILL GREATEST SHOW EVER
Take it from one of the few people who's actually seen the Season 2 premiere (that's me!).
REST IN PEACE, GARY
I never got to say it last week, so just for the record, we'll miss ya Gary. You did the best you could with a tough hand, and many people have done less with more.
Comedian Hayes chats about co-star Kristin Chenoweth, his new show with Betty White and working the Great White Way
Since "Will & Grace" ended in 2006, Sean Hayes, who played the flamboyant, much-loved Jack McFarland, has kept a relatively low profile, with the occasional guest spot on a "30 Rock" or a small turn in movies like "The Bucket List."
But now he's making a triumphant return to the Hollywood scene with a triple threat.
First off, he's starring with Kristin Chenoweth in the hot new Broadway revival of "Promises, Promises," for which Hayes earned his first Tony nomination.
Then he's producing the highly-anticipated comedy "Hot In Cleveland" -- starring TV vets Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick as three Hollywood has-beens who discover they're still hot in Cleveland, and so decide to stay there, renting rooms from none other than Betty White. The show premieres on TV Land starting June 16.
And if that isn't enough, he's also taking on the Tonys. Hayes, who says he's never hosted anything before, takes the helm of the theater honors live on Sunday, June 13 at 8 p.m.
Still, he had a moment to pause and chat with MSN during a conference call with press this week. Although I must point out, he steadfastly avoided commenting on Newsweek's controversial article about gay actors being unqualified to play straight characters -- which mentioned him by name -- despite many reporters' attempts to get a response.
Video: Watch preview clips and more of the Tony Awards
Herewith, the highlights.
On Playing Host -- For the First Time: "I'm excited about hosting. I've never hosted anything before. I don't have any ambitions to be a host with my life so it kind of takes the pressure off whether I kill or don't kill, so I'm just going to have a good time and I hope the audience will too. If I get too nervous then nobody else can have a good time. It's like if you are throwing a party at your house or anything, if you are nervous then the guests will be nervous. I think it's funny that a lot of people think all the responsibility [to keep it entertaining] comes down to the face of the show. It's actually a collective idea to keep the show moving so it doesn't ever end the excitement factor. So that's my only goal -- just to keep it moving and keep people excited and interested on the evening."
On What To Expect from the Tonys: "Green Day is scheduled to perform so that is huge and very exciting. There's going to be a lot of famous faces people will recognize, like Denzel Washington, Cate Blanchett, Daniel Radcliffe. There should be something for everybody. It will just be a big party and everybody will join in!"
On His Broadway Debut in "Promises, Promises": "It's been one of the most challenging experiences of my entire life, it was very difficult for me at the beginning, getting into the rhythm and the sense of Broadway, but right now after all that rigorous rehearsal process is over, I'm having one of the best times of my life. It's very, very enjoyable."
On Working With Costar Kristin At the Tonys: "We have something scheduled, but I don't want to give away any surprises. She is fantastic. Not only is she, as many people know, an extraordinary talent, but she is an amazing human being as well. I've learned quite a lot from her during this run. She has been a huge support system for me and I have for her. It's very easy to fall in love with her every night on stage."
On His New Gig As a Producer: "It's great, the pressure is off of being the face of a show, so that I enjoy. There's good and bad like every single job in the world. Right now I can only see the good in producing. It's really, really fun to be creative in a different sense like that with the scripts and dialogue and words and direction of characters over the life of a series. I really enjoyed using that part of my brain."
On Casting Betty White: "When we sat down and thought who would be the best Elka, we immediately thought of Betty White collectively. Who else in that age category do you go to? She's an anomaly. She's phenomenal in everything she does. We're lucky to get her. We actually got her months and months and months ago so the timing couldn’t have been better."
On Whether We Can Expect a Hayes Cameo on "Cleveland": "Who knows? If something comes up, great, but I won't stick myself in there just to stick myself in there. But I'm really excited about the show and very proud of it."
Catch the Tonys this Sunday on CBS, starting at 8. They'll be over in time for the "True Blood" third season premiere!
Or at least what we can legally tell you about it
As all of you TV Buzz enthusiasts are well aware, I am an incredibly important person. Seriously. Just ask my mother.
Or the fine people at USA, who had me come down to Silvercup Studios (where a certain little show called "The Sopranos" used to film) in lovely Long Island City, NY this morning for a tour of their "White Collar" premises and general hang sesh with its cast. Which, as its totes biggest fan within a 20-mile radius of my living-room couch, I was obviously mega-psyched about.
Rest assured, I'll be delivering some notable quoteables from Matthew Bomer, Tim DeKay and the gang in the next couple days. But I also happened to get an extremely sneak preview of the Season 2 premiere while the cast filmed their day's scenes a few doors down. So extreme, in fact, that the episode is still being polished in post-production. And to invoke Anthony Soprano, maybe I'm a wackadoo, but I figured all you fellow "Collar" crazies would want a little taste of what's coming your way July 13.
So without further, "Hey, how did Neal and Peter" adieu "that?" here are five very important things you need to know about the "White Collar" Season 2 premiere.
5. It's too bad you won't also get to watch it with placeholder overdubs. Some of the fill-in audio was nearly funnier than when Larry David used to voice over George Steinbrenner on "Seinfeld."
4. As we're instructed by his poorly grown-in beard, jittery fingers and sliced golf wing, Neal is disconcertingly shaken up by (SPOILER!) Kate's death at the end of Season 1. Fortunately, that's all taken care of by episode's end with his return to signature accessorizing, and in kind, his easy-going buddy-comedy relationship with Peter that is the show's core.
3. Hey guys, it's the information age. We know Natalie Morales abandoned her role as Detective Cruz for a peachy part on "Parks and Recreation" and more film work. We don't need the throwaway dialogue about how she was transferred to explain her absence.
2. It's kind of hard to discern how much of a coup it is that they hired "Animal House" alumnus Tim Matheson as director and star of the premiere. Perhaps a
coup d'... ah, I know that guy?
1. On par with the Season 1 nail-biter that revealed Peter had been meeting with Kate, the premiere's final seconds are a true shocker, and the kind of impressive twist that reminds us why this show's gained cult-phenom status so rapidly.
Stay tuned for more exclusive "White Collar" coverage and interviews leading up to the premiere.
Enter to win goodies from the Kardashians and Holly Madison
Attention celebrity reality fans: We've got a couple of neat goodies from a pair of E! shows to give away. Here's what we've got: A poster for the new season of "Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami" signed by both stars, plus a DVD set of the show's first season. We've also got a poster signed by Holly Madison for a new season of her show "Holly's World." Both shows air Sunday nights on E!
To enter, simply send an email to email@example.com with the answer this question:
Which reality TV star is the executive producer of both "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" and "Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami"?
The geniuses who cast our favorite juiceheads are set to ruin the South
Not to be confused with bonafide superlative scripted comedy "Party Down," Ofir's "South" concept presents itself as being an ostensibly (and, of course, offensively) redneck-y twist on their Garden State-centered phenom.
Or as they put it, "Party Down South" is a program for eager sub-Mason Dixon residents who like their "chicken fried, drive a pickup truck and are full of American pride." And us Yankees wonder why they hate us.
That's not to say I won't be watching. But hopefully, when they premiere the pre-season highlights montage, it will look something like this: