Nick Swardson's returning Comedy Central show, 'Pretend Time,' may just make him king of TV
By Vinnie Penn
Special to MSN TV
When I answer my cell, I am attending a raucous happy hour (hosting it, if you want be technical). I am a few beers deep and convince myself I am capable of conducting an interview with the hilarious Nick Swardson ("Reno 911!," Adam Sandler's "Just Go With It," the titular "Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star"). Yet I somehow manage to spend at least half of the interview discussing "Blades of Glory."
MSN TV: You have that character down of, "He loves that dude, but does he love that dude?" [Astonishingly, he seems to know exactly what I'm talking about.]
Nick Swardson: Totally.
Will we see recurring characters on the TV show?
Swardson: I don't think so. Once I do a character, I'm pretty much done with him. My character on "Reno" is the longest one I played, and probably the only one I could ever play that long, or want to.
That is not necessarily true. What about "Gay Robot," a character that was included in every episode of Season 1 of "Pretend Time," and originally appeared on Adam Sandler's comedy album, "Shhh ... Don't Tell"?
[Season 2 of Swardson's sketch comedy show for Comedy Central sees one of Happy Madison's key players these days sitting out the silver screen once again, and if what he proceeds to tell me will be seen this season is half as funny as it sounds, his next movie could be "Pretend Time: The ... well ... Movie." That said, he's still got "Jack & Jill," Sandler's next movie coming, which he's a part of and which Swardson described as "insane and probably my favorite Sandler movie ever."]
Swardson: The one thing I love about my career is that nothing tracks consistently.
I don't know about that.
[Swardson's been consistently outrageous, from the aforementioned "Reno" to his well-attended stand-up gigs (and a highly rated one for Comedy Central) to his outré characters, like the obsessed fan in "Blades" and a misguided porn star wannabe in "Bucky." Both Carol Burnett and Sarah Silverman were mentioned, the latter of who had an outrageous show on Comedy Central as well. I'm pretty sure I'm the one who brought them up. Talking about Silverman leads me to inquire if he's going to push similar boundaries, if he, in fact, has even prodded to.]
Swardson: Actually, they've told me to tone it down a little, that it's too aggressive. It's crazy. It's out there.
[When I ask for a specific example, he goes on to detail a sketch in the season premiere (which airs Wednesday, Oct. 5, at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on Comedy Central) that is basically an infomercial for a unique way for guys to get great abs -- by pleasuring themselves. Don't believe him? Don't believe me? Check out "Pretend Time" www.comedycentral.com. The Season 2 premiere also includes a discussion on dive bars and a spoof of MTV's "16 & Pregnant."]
MSN TV: So, in conclusion (the last of the buffalo wings at the happy hour going fast), if you had to describe the series using one word …
"Nick Swardson's Pretend Time" premieres Wednesday, Oct. 5, at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on Comedy Central.
Vinnie Penn's friends began calling him "Dr. TV" in grade school. He knows everything Bart has ever written on the chalkboard. He is the host of "The Vinnie Penn Project." www.vinniepenn.net
Blossoming new star the funniest host ever on 'Saturday Night Live'?
This weekend, the "Mike & Molly" Emmy winner and "Bridesmaids" star plowed like a tank of funny into sketches such as "Arlene," in which she made a power play for the super-uninterested office worker at the next desk (Jason Sudeikis).
"Bridesmaids" producer Judd Apatow tweeted that the scene, in which McCarthy busted out stripper moves and fondled a horse balloon in the crotch, "made me laugh harder than anything this year or decade."
In another killer sketch, McCarthy inhabited a loser so desperate for her slogan to be chosen for an ad campaign -- so she can earn the $50 she needs to "get out of a couple of jams" -- she gives herself a Ranch dressing shower.Calling McCarthy the funniest guest host doesn't even do justice to her triumph, since "SNL" hosts are almost always out-funnied by the cast. What McCarthy did traces a straight line back to John Belushi and Chris Farley.
Video: Watch more clips
"Hey SNL -- more hosts like Melissa McCarthy, please," tweeted Patton Oswalt.
Christina Applegate joined in: "Melissa McCarthy was pure bliss hosting SNL."
"Raising Hope" star Shannon Woodward tweeted that she laughed so hard, "I'm getting a six pack watching Melissa McCarthy on SNL. Incredible. I can't breathe."
Saturday night's episode, which featured Lady Antebellum as the musical guest, averaged a solid 5.2 rating, a 2 percent increase over last week's Alec Baldwin-hosted season premiere.
Who ever thought that going number two in a sink could take you to number one in such a blink?
Loyalties shift and plans are made in the penultimate episode of a powerful season.
"No more prolonging the inevitable." – Walter White
Just what is inevitable and what is the result of the various machinations of this story's players seems to still be up for debate. Everyone has different pieces of the story and each individual is acting on what he or she believes to be the most important facts available. Of course, everyone is at least partly wrong, and no one, including the audience, is completely filled in by the almost unbearably tense ending of "End Times".
For example, look at the seemingly simple scene when Skyler and Junior first arrive at Hank and Marie's. Hank is totally unconvinced of the seriousness of the threat on his life (wrong) and totally focused on trying to nail the man he believes is the drug kingpin of New Mexico (right). Marie, on the other hand, is properly freaking out that Hank is in danger, and incorrectly believes that Walt is not giving the anonymous tip any weight. Skyler is the most aware of how much very real danger everyone is in, but she is also entertaining the idea that she will never see her husband again. But, as we know, Walt is trying to take the reins of his life again, with a vengeance.
First, however, it was necessary that Walt and Jesse take their new dysfunctional and co-dependent relationship right up to the brink of finality, with Jesse pressing that gun into Walter forehead, listening to him scream "Do it!" Realistically, we know that can't happen, but Aaron Paul was so believably devastated and Bryan Cranston so chillingly nihilistic that it all felt frighteningly real. It had to involve the collateral death (or near-death, since it isn't clear if Brock will survive) of a true innocent for these two men to team up together to try to destroy Gus once and for all. They do not succeed, thanks to Gus's seemingly super-human levels of smelling a rat, and there is no guarantee they will be able to (or have to) kill him. But Walter and Jesse are back on the same side and that will have to be sufficient until the guaranteed fireworks of the season finale next week.
- Breaking it down part one: so if Gus has Brock poisoned, and Jesse did have the deadly cigarette in his possession that morning, how did Tyrus (or whoever) get the ricin into Brock's food (or whatever) so quickly? I'm willing to believe that, because he is a child, that amount of ricin would act quicker than on an adult, but that stills seems like a pretty quick turnaround.
- Breaking it down part two: Just how DID Gus know about the ricin? Walt makes the reference to "cameras everywhere" but they did the cigarette filling at Jesse's house. Is it bugged? Hidden cameras at both their houses? Even for Gustavo Fring, Criminal Mastermind, this is a seriously elaborate plan
- Final breakdown: If it is true that this was all a protracted way to get Jesse to be the one who knocks for Walt, that is my least favorite trope of all time. Relying on a human being to have the exact response that you need in the exact time period that you need is a pretty fragile base to build your plan upon. I am willing to give Vince Gilligan and company the benefit of the doubt on this until next week, however.
- I did love the whole sequence of Steve searching the laundry. Perfect story, perfect timing of the manager's reactions, and perfect reveal of the drug sniffing dog. Nice work there.
Jimmy and Chalky both have narrow escapes, and Margaret proves to be Nucky's best ally
This show certainly isn't shy about announcing its themes plainly and often. Using the slightly incorrect, but common vernacular of "Ourselves Alone" for the Irish Sinn Fein as a title and then featuring scene after scene of different folks isolated and wary of their surroundings, using their cunning to get out of difficult situations, there was nothing hidden about the themes of tonight's episode. But despite some heavy-handedness, there was a plethora of great character moments on display.
Most likely, the fan favorite will be the Chalky White's little adventure in the Atlantic City jail. Michael K. Williams is an expert at this kind of slow-burn menace, and this was certainly a showcase for him in every respect. Chalky can just bide his time, perhaps genuinely trying to rise above the psycho taunts of Dunn Purnsley (played with flamboyance by Erik LaRay Harvey) and then unleash all of his loyal friends/customers to do the dirty work for him. This whole sequence was terrific, as most everything with Chalky usually seems to be.
Jimmy Darmody, on the other hand, is still feeling his way into the halls of power, dealing warily with cold as ice Arnold Rothstein, his old nemesis Lucky Luciano and the up and coming Meyer Lansky (as well as a great bewildered reaction to the antics of a young Bugsy Siegel). He held his own in the meeting with Rothstein, but it is becoming clear that New York (and Chicago) is going the same way as Atlantic City: a new generation of hoods, criminals and power brokers are coming into play. The trickiest thing to learn is when and how to cross over loyalties to the new regime, and Jimmy is still much more confident at meting out physical punishment such as slashing the throats of the two would-be thieves who were so belligerent at Lansky's poker game. Can he make the correct decision about his allegiance to the right man in Atlantic City?
That is a question that almost everyone in New Jersey seems to be struggling with in some form. Nucky has Mayor Ed, who is apparently so useless he wasn't even invited to the Commodore's conspiracy party as a courtesy, and Fleming, who might not be so eager to help if he knew that Nucky burned down that house he gave to him last year. The most trustworthy, smart, brave and realistic person in Nucky's life is Margaret. This is no surprise, although it was an exciting and pleasant surprise to have the whole internal conspiracy right out in the open so quickly, and the best part was getting to see the constantly underestimated Margaret come into her own so completely. She got a chance to bond with the servants, call out the uptight IRA boss McGarrigle, secure her man's phony ledger and emergency cash, and give him the best advice he's had in a long time ("You're not thinking clearly now. You must concentrate and not give over to emotion."). And she did most of it while looking like a million bucks. That's my kind of gal.
- Steve Buscemi did some amazing acting in that phone call with his brother; you can see how much it hurts him to know that Eli is against him, but he never wavers in his honesty that he is only giving one chance.
- So the charming Mr. Sleater and his Ulster accent are sticking around? I couldn't decide who would be happier about that – the maid or her mistress?
- File under the Good Question Department: "Who are you Mr. Darmody?"
- "Did he fall into the shoe polish?"
- Lucky speaks Yiddish, and Meyer speaks Italian. Such a melting pot.
- Not one glimpse of Van Alden or Richard Harrow. That's a bad thing. Not one glimpse (or sound) of Lucy. That's not such a bad thing.
Stars of new series talk upcoming episodes, the fashion and breaking stereotypes
By Minh Nguyen
The “Pan Am” pilot soared to great ratings (and many hearts) last weekend as we met strong, smart, different women who lived such glamorous lives in the '60s. Karine Vanesse stars as Colette, the sophisticated French stewardess. Mike Vogel stars as Dean, the pilot who is heartbroken after his fiancée leaves him without an explanation. Colette and Dean will share a momentary flirtation in the romantic city of Paris. MSN TV had a chance to talk to Mike Vogel and Karine Vanesse about the upcoming episode which airs Sunday, October 2 at 10/9c on ABC.
MSN TV: Your characters share "a momentary romance"... what else can you tell me about this particular episode?
Karine Vanesse: Many different things. Obviously in the pilot, we had a chance to meet all the characters. Now we are just going a little deeper. We are more about the dynamic between the two sisters, Laura and Kate. We learn a little bit more about Bridgette, we learn what happened to her and why.
Mike Vogel: She broke my heart.
Karine Vanesse: Why am I smiling?
Mike Vogel: Because you’re heartless!
Karine Vanesse: I know there’s a little romance starting between them. She is there for him.
Mike Vogel: French in Paris. That helps out a little bit.
Karine Vanesse: Yes, because we’re going to Paris. Every week the crew is going to a different country and we get to travel with them.
Bing: More about 'Pan Am'
Do you actually go to the countries while filming or is it on a set?
Karine Vanesse: We have a wonderful imagination.
Mike Vogel: And a giant tele-porter that can take us anywhere at any time. We are shooting here in New York. What’s beautiful about New York is that it doubles for filming fantastic places around the world. New York is such an international city. It’s been great having a show here.
What's it been like filming a series that is set in the 60s? Anything we'd be surprised about or would never know happens when we're watching at home?
Mike Vogel: You mean off camera? I can’t speak for the girls but they’re literally suiting up in these outfits, these girdles. When we go on hour 14, hour 15, I see them shimmying uncomfortably.
Karine Vanesse: Yeah, we are.
Mike Vogel: At those moments, I start thanking God that I’m not wearing a girdle. However when it’s been humid and hot outside and we’re in polyester and wool pilot uniforms from that era, it’s no fun either. We both get the real end of the deal.
Karine, Pan Am has the most amazing uniforms, clothes, fashion. How fun is it to wear such amazing costumes, uniforms, jewelry?
Karine Vanesse: It’s so exciting to your body because you almost don’t recognize yourself when you see yourself in the mirror. Once you have the dress and girdle.
Mike Vogel: I started wearing one.
Karine Vanesse: I don’t recognize you without one. No actually, we’ve been shooting for 2 ½ months now? You see your shape changing a little bit, the waist. I didn’t know I had a waist. It’s so different when we go on set, of course we’re just wearing regular, comfy clothes but to realize back then you had to be dressed up, maybe not that dressed up all the time. People were wearing that. It’s so beautiful to wear but Mike was saying, it’s a little bit (of a) discomfort sometimes.
Is your waist actually getting smaller from wearing the girdle?
Mike Vogel: You’re squeezing it out a little.
Karine Vanesse: Yeah, squeezing it out and putting it elsewhere. (Laughing)
Mike Vogel: Just redistributing.
Karine Vanesse: You see pictures from the sixties and you wonder why women had these figures. I totally understand why now.
The show breaks a lot of stereotypes and barriers. It is also very action packed. What else can we look forward to as the season progresses? Mike, your character Dean is in love w/Bridgette and she disappears in the premier. Could you tell us about your romance with her?
Mike Vogel: Yeah, I think the show is challenging a lot of stereotypes. I think it’s the great thing about it. Forgive me for speaking for the stewardesses but at times people say, 'well they’re just serving coffee.' These women were not only beautiful, they were smart, they were all college educated, multi-lingual and they were out seeing the world at a time when most men were going to work and coming home. They were having experiences that people could only read about and dream about. I think it flips that stereotype on its head.
As for Dean and Bridget, he’s been cluelessly left. As we continue down the rabbit hole, the whole world (knows) that (it) truly exists, the relationship between Pan Am and Secret Service. We will start getting more information as to who Bridgette was, where she’s gone and there’s also some tracks that have been layed that will lead me in a different direction away from the truth. Like I said, all you can do in the pilot is serve out a bunch of storylines and now we get the fun of attacking them in detail.
"Pan Am" airs Sundays at 10p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
With premiere season in full swing, primetimers continue to work the circuit this week
Primetime stars like Zooey Deschanel, Paula Abdul, Bryan Cranston, Kathy Bates, Kaley Cuoco, Rachel Bilson, Madeleine Stowe, Taye Diggs, Hugh Laurie, Sela Ward, Lily Tomlin, Emily Proctor, Eliza Coupe and Florence Henderson are making their way to daytime the week of Oct 3. This weeks' daytime talkers also promise visits from Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen, Morgan Freeman, Hugh Jackman, Julianne Moore, Gloria Estefan, Tim McGraw and the ladies from "Five," Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore and Alicia Keys; and performances from Scotty McCreery, Joe Jonas, Richard Marx and Rick Springfield. Plus, you can bet most shows will be calling in their experts to talk about the trial of Michael Jackson's doctor, Conrad Murray.
Mon: Teen bullying -- no celebs scheduled
Tues: Paula Abdul, Morgan Freeman and ‘America’s Got Talent’ Winner
Wed: Lou Ferrigno; Michael Jackson's former bodyguard of three years, Mike Garcia; legal experts
Thurs: Tanya Williams, estranged wife of former NBA star Jayson Williams
Fri: Pet extravaganza -- no celebs scheduled
"Live! With Regis & Kelly"
Mon: Tim McGraw, Dana Delany
Tues: Hugh Jackman, Kaley Cuoco, Scotty McCreery
Wed: Sugar Ray Leonard
Thurs: Rachel Bilson
Fri: Emilio Estevez, Martin Sheen, Madeleine Stowe; guest co-host Carson Kressley
Bing: Watch clips and episodes of 'Ellen Show'
"The Ellen DeGeneres Show"
Mon: Hope Solo & Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Hugh Laurie, Cheryl Hines
Tues: Kellie Pickler, Joel McHale
Wed: Kim Kardashian, Kris Humphries
Thurs: Zooey Deschanel, Ricki Lake & Derek Hough
Fri: Taye Diggs, Scotty McCreery
Mon: Chris Cuomo
Tues: Sela Ward ("C.S.I."); Laura Dern ("Enlightened")
Wed: William Shatner; Mrs. Q ("Fed Up with Lunch: The School Lunch Project")
Thurs: Jon & Mary Kaye Huntsman; Scott and Joan Bolzan ("My Life Deleted: A Memoir"); couple eliminated from "Dancing with the Stars"
Fri: Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore and Alicia Keys (Lifetime's "Five")
"The Rachael Ray Show"
Mon: the Cake Boss
Tues: Nick Lachey, Dolvett Quince
Wed: Tyra Banks, Rocco DiSpirito
Thurs: Mike Rowe
Fri: Soleil Moon Frye, Gloria Estefan, Rick Springfield
Guest hosts this week: Carnie Wilson, Molly Shannon and Sheryl Underwood
Mon: Lily Tomlin ("NCIS"); Ellie Kemper ("The Office"
Tues: Andie MacDowell; Rocco Dispirito
Wed: Emily Proctor (“CSI: Miami”); Eliza Coupe ("Happy Endings")
Thurs: John Lithgow; Brandy
Fri: Florence Henderson; Richard Marx performs
Mon: Tim McGraw, Kathy Bates, Andy Cohen; Scotty McCreery performs; Khloe Kardashian co-hosts from 10-11 a.m.
Tues: Ellen Degeneres, Julianne Moore, Scotty McCreery; Bruce Jenner co-hosts from 10-11 a.m.
Wed: Ina Garten, Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez, Dr. Drew Pinsky, Sugar Ray Leonard; Joe Jonas and Richard Marx perform; Kris Jenner co-hosts from 10-11 a.m.
Thurs: Bryan Cranston, Bow to Wow ; Kourtney Kardashian co-hosts from 10-11 a.m.
Fri: Kim Kardashian, Emilio Estevez, The Harlem Globetrotters; Kim Kardashian co-hosts from 10-11 a.m.
"The Wendy Williams Show"
Mon: Cedric the Entertainer
Tues: Gloria Estefan, Ana Gasteyer
Wed: Dana Delany, the latest "Biggest Loser" castoff
Thurs: Brooke Shields, Mary Mary
Fri: Kendra Wilkinson, cast of "A-List: New York"
Prospect Park reveals their network's name and a website
With "All My Children" finished at ABC and "One Life to Live" wrapping things up this fall/winter, the soaps' new owner, Prospect Park, has revealed the name of its upcoming internet delivered network: THE Online Network (TOLN). It turns out the new net plans to go live in 2012 with more than just the two soaps on the schedule.
Bing: More Prospect Park news
"At its debut, TOLN will feature new episodes of the previously announced serial dramas 'All My Children' and 'One Life to Live,' as well as first-run entertainment and lifestyle shows," Prospect Park founders Rich Frank and Jeff Kwatinetz said in a statement. "Ultimately reality, scripted comedy and drama programming will be added to the TOLN slate. The network plans to launch in January 2012 with the goal of eventually providing viewers with a full programming selection of first-run, long form content on an anytime, anywhere basis."
TOLN's new home is at www.TOLN.com and www.theonlinenetwork.com. There's no content there yet, but fans can sign up for the newsletter to stay informed and get updates on the new venture. TOLN also plans to hit hard with marketing and promotion for its programs, just like any TV channel would.
As previously reported, TOLN's "All My Children" has thus far landed Cameron Mathison (Ryan) and Lindsay Hartley (Cara), while Jacob Young (J.R.) and Debbie Morgan (Angie) have both moved to CBS shows.
In bigger news, star Susan Lucci recently revealed talks aren't over, in spite of buzz that she wouldn't sign. La Lucci told NPR she would "love to" come to an agreement with the new chiefs, adding, "We are trying, as we speak, to work that out. We are waiting on a response at the moment."
From "One Life to Live," Prospect Park has landed the show's current exec producer Frank Valentini, while naming him VP Serial Dramas at TOLN. Erika Slezak (Victoria), Ted King (Tomas), Michael Easton (John) and Kassie DePaiva (Blair) are also on board.
"One Life to Live" airs weekdays on ABC
Missed last night's 'Vampire Diaries'? Here's what you need to know to get by at the water cooler.