Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I Love A Mystery

I don't go out of my way to promote so-called reality TV, largely because success in this genre means more unemployed writers.

But a new show has caught my eye.

Growing up, I always loved mysteries and wanted to be a detective. Tonight, others like me get their shot.

Spike TV, the network not named for Spike Lee, is starting a series called "Murder," which airs tonight at 10 p.m. It involves ordinary folks who are invited to reconstruct crime scenes and go through all the evidence police get, then try to come up with a solution.

I'm not sure if prizes are involved or what, but it seems to be a neat little exercise that might be worth checking out.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: Speaking of good reality TV, "On The Lot" (Fox, 8 p.m.) cuts down from six directors to five. I have to say, after stumbling at the beginning, the voters at home have done a good job in narrowing the field. The six guys left are arguably the six best directors in the competition, and any would be a worthy winner. Personally, I still think the competition is Zach's to lose, followed by Will. But I'd move Andrew past Sam in terms of favorites.

Also back is "The Bronx Is Burning," (ESPN, 10 p.m.), which continues to entertain.

My favorite new summer show, however, has been "Damages" (FX, 10 p.m.) If Emmy voters had a clue, Glenn Close would be a shoo-in for a nomination next year playing perhaps the most manipulative lawyer of all time. Considering how evil she is, it's a wonder we have anyone to root for since the guy she is suing (Ted Danson) is a Ken Lay type executive who bilked his employees out of their retirements.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Her Boys, My Life

One of the sleeper hits on cable last summer was a show that really grew on me as its season wore on.

"My Boys" (TBS, 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.), which returns to the air tonight with two new episodes, follows the adventures of P.J. (Jordana Spiro), a woman whose tomboyish nature helps her fit in very well with her platonic male friends but makes it very difficult to date.

P.J. is a baseball writer for The Chicago Sun-Times, and spends much of her evenings drinking and playing poker with the boys.

Being a former sports writer myself, it irked me somewhat that someone with P.J.'s job would have so much free time on her hands, especially at night. Eventually, however, I learned to let go and embrace P.J.'s world - me and my friends play poker a couple of nights a week, and we even had a "My Boys" inspired board game decathlon.

"My Boys" picks up from the twist ending from Season 1, in which P.J. gets romantically involved with one of her gang. They've line Spiro up with a terrific supporting cast, most notably Jim Gaffigan as her totally-whipped brother.

COMIC CON REPORT: Austin Film Festival, Comic Con. Comic Con, Austin Film Festival - next year I'm going to have make a Solomon-like choice.

Meanwhile, I'll just have to be content with reading about it and passing along the highlights. Some of the biggest:

--Zachary Quinto will play the younger Spock in the next "Star Trek" film, but Matt Damon will NOT be playing the young Kirk as some rumors had suggested. Kirk and the others have yet to be cast. (Beyonce as a young Uhura? Hmm...)

--Comics nut and film auteur Kevin Smith will direct an episode of "Heroes" this season, specifically, one of the "Heroes: Origins" spinoff episodes.

--Libby will be returning in some form to "Lost" this season.

--The biggest deal of them all - Joss Whedon is close to bringing his "Buffy" spinoff "Ripper" to fruition. The TV movie would be made by the BBC and have Anthony Stewart Head reprise his role as Buffy's Watcher Rupert "Ripper" Giles. Whedon also announced he wasn't done yet with the character of Melaka Fray, the future slayer from comic books. In quasi-unrelated news, former "Angel" showrunner David Greenwalt is off the "Angel" ripoff "Moonlight."

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: "Saving Grace" (TNT, 10 p.m.) may have gotten uneven reviews from critics, but the ratings were a home run last week. The series, which stars the terrific Holly Hunter as an alcoholic cop who meets her guardian angel, is back tonight as part of an all-new TNT lineup that also features "Heartland" and "The Closer." TNT's lineup may not rank quite up there with FX's in terms of quality, but no one can argue the numbers they are bringing in.

ABC Family is also all-new with "Kyle XY" at 8 p.m. and "Greek" at 9 p.m. "Big Love" (HBO, 9 p.m.) is new and has also been picked up for a third season.

On the networks, you have "Six Degrees of Martina McBride" (ABC, 9 p.m.), which features aspiring singers with vague connections to the country music superstar trying to make their careers.

Friday, July 27, 2007


OK, so I'm a little stoked about "The Simpsons" movie premiering this weekend. But then, I'm old enough to remember the Simpsons vignettes on "The Tracey Ullman Show" an eon or two ago.

Truth be told, the series - which has surpassed 400 episodes - hasn't lived up to the high benchmark it set for itself during its first decade. Episodes like the one about the monorail, or the company softball team, or some of the other classics from those early years far surpass most of the ones done in recent years.

In fact, the only truly standout "Simpsons" episode I can think of during the last few years that measures up as a classic was the one written and starring Ricky Gervais as a guy who swaps wives with Homer.

But despite the show's recent faults (and, in defense of the writers, it's probably hard coming up with fresh stuff after 18 years) there's no denying "The Simpsons" have become a part of Americana.

And the reviews of the movie have been pretty good. Whenever adapting a current-running TV series into a movie format (such as "The X-Files" a few years ago), it's hard to do something that doesn't seem like an expanded episode of the series.

So my advice is to grab a doughnut, pour yourself a squishy and race to get the best seat in the house. Woo-hoo!

RIMES RESPONDS: TVGuide's Michael Ausiello has a pretty interesting interview with "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rimes about the departure of Isaiah Washington, posted here: http://community.tvguide.com/blog-entry/TVGuide-Editors-Blog/Ausiello-Report/Shonda-Rhimes-Breaks/800019387

Personally, I don't believe a word of what she said about the incident. In the interview, she said it was her decision to fire Washington and she wrote the season with that plan in mind all along.

COMIC CON ITEM OF THE DAY: I really should make this a regular feature while Comic Con is still going on. (I plan on attending at some point in my life, but sadly not this year).

Karen Allen, who played Marion Ravenwood in "Raiders Of The Lost Ark," will be reprising her role in the newest Indiana Jones movie.

Though specifics on what Marion's role would be in the story, the mere presence of one of the greatest female characters in the history of cinema (I don't exaggerate; I love Marion) is just getting me more antsy to see this movie.

THIS JUST IN: "The View" will be adding two rotating co-hosts to replace the departed Rosie O'Donnell, the Associated Press is reporting Friday.

Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd, both of whom have appeared on the show before, will be rotating in with regular hosts Barbara Walters, Elizabeth Hasselbeck and Joy Behar.

Whether they will have the ratings impact the controversial O'Donnell had remains to be seen, but the ratings remained strong after Rosie left, so it shouldn't be too much of a worry.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: The Doctor and Martha run into Daleks during 1930s New York on "Doctor Who," (Sci-Fi, 9 p.m.) On USA, "Monk" visits a nudist resort while Shawn takes on an FBI psychic on "Psych" from 9-11 p.m.

On Saturday, BBC America is running a marathon of the entire second series of "Hex," which had one of the more disappointing endings in recent memory.

On Sunday, the second part of "Kill Point" (Spike, 9 p.m.) airs. Hopefully, the show will pick up a bit. Also, "Mystery" (PBS, 9 p.m.) presents a new Miss Marple case. "The 4400" (USA, 9 p.m.) and "The Dead Zone" (USA, 10 p.m.) are also new.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Who Wants To Be A Superhero? Me!

One of the weirdest shows in reality TV history returns to the airwaves tonight, as Marvel Comics founder Stan Lee auditions a whole new bunch of costumed loonies - er, would-be mystery men - on "Who Wants To Be A Superhero?" (Sci-Fi, 9 p.m.)

Think "The Apprentice" meets "Justice League." A bunch of people in homemade costumes audition to join Lee's team of would-be heroes and are put through various physical and moral challenges. Most of these are pretty easy to solve, but last year's crew had all sorts of trouble recognizing what were obvious tests.

Last year's winner, aka Feedback, was a little too invested in his character - it actually was a little uncomfortable to watch, but his enthusiasm and basic goodness won him the day. He recently appeared in his own comic book.

Watching "Superhero" is the TV equivalent of a car wreck; it's very hard to turn away.

SPEAKING OF SUPERHEROES...: I usually leave the movie stuff to Reel Fanatic Keith Demko, but they've announced the cast for the adaptation of "Watchmen," and there's at least one big TV connection.

In perhaps the best casting bit, Jeffrey Dean Morgan ("Grey's Anatomy," "Supernatural," "Weeds") has been cast as The Comedian, an anti-hero that is part of the superhero team portrayed in "Watchmen."

"Watchmen," considered by many to be the best graphic novel ever written (it's the only book of that genre to be ranked in Time Magazine's top 100 books of all time), tells the story of a group of superheroes in a world that has outlawed their kind. The aging heroes come out of retirement when someone starts assassinating members of the group.

Other members of the cast announced Thursday at San Diego's Comic Con include Patrick Wilson, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Malin Akerman and Jackie Earle Haley.

AROUND THE TUBE: ABC announced Harold Perrineau will reprise his character of Michael on "Lost." No word on whether Michael appears in the present, in a flashback or a flash forward. Personally, I always found the character annoyingly stupid, so this really isn't a big deal for me, but I'll put it out there. ...

I'd be remiss for not mentioning that Drew Carey snagged "The Price Is Right" gig, replacing Bob Barker. Carey is a pretty good choice. He has experience hosting game shows and his low-key, good-natured humor will serve him well. Plus, he's not Rosie O'Donnell. ...

"Veronica Mars" creator Rob Thomas has left showrunning duties for the upcoming ABC comedy, "Miss/Guided," which stars Judy Greer as a guidance counselor who returns to her old high school to work. Thomas left because of the ever-popular "creative differences."

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: I was a little remiss yesterday not to include "Burn Notice" (USA, 10 p.m.) on my list of summer shows I reviewed. It's a solid B on the grading scale. The tongue-in-cheek approach it takes to the weekly plots is a pretty clever angle to take, and the cast does a good job not taking themselves too seriously.

I've already praised "Mad Men" (AMC, 10 p.m.), and episode 2 airs tonight, so you still have a chance to catch up.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Still Lovin' The Cable

Looking at the network offerings tonight, it's a pretty depressing lineup, full of so-called reality.

Viewers, if it's their wont, can choose among the best celebrity impersonator, best budding inventor, best dancer, best standup comic and person who doesn't forget song lyrics. (I think people who sing songs publicly who don't know the words ought to be shot. But that's just my opinion.)

Anyway, cable has kicked up its game a notch with new series, many of which are being rerun tonight in case you missed them the first time around. A rundown of some of the new cable offerings thus far:

--Mad Men (AMC): Grade: A-. A slick look at the world of advertising in what is definitely a bygone era of the early 1960s. Written by "Sopranos" scribe Matthew Weiner, the performances are top notch, and it hits a "Sopranos" note of dark humor. Airs regularly on Thursdays at 10 p.m. The pilot re-airs tonight at 10 p.m.

--Saving Grace (TNT): Grade: B-. A quirky look on the guardian angel theme, Holly Hunter is terrific as a rock-bottom Oklahoma City cop with a one-way ticket to Hell, with Leon Rippy as her unconventional spiritual guide. Airs Mondays at 10 p.m.

--Damages (FX): Grade: A. I was wondering if this new Glenn Close series would be on "The Shield" end of the spectrum or the "Dirt" end. It is clearly the former. Close is spectacular as Patty Hewes, the one lawyer you never want going against you in a case. "Damages" tells two stories simultaneously; the first follows Ellen (Rose Byrne), a young lawyer who joins the Hewes law firm as it begins to go after a Ken Lay-type executive (Ted Danson). The second story picks up in the present, with a half-naked and bloodied Rose found by police after she wanders the streets of New York. Re-airs tonight at 11 p.m. Airs normally Tuesdays at 10 p.m.

--Kill Point (Spike): Grade: C. This miniseries, about an ex-Army squad that attempts to rob a bank and is forced to take hostages, isn't particularly bad, but most of the material seems awfully familiar. John Leguizamo is solid as the head bank robber, while Donnie Wahlberg does a good job as the hostage negotiator. But there really isn't much here that hasn't been seen a hundred times before, right down to the stock characters of the hostages. Re-airs tonight at 10 p.m. Airs regularly on Sundays at 8 p.m.

--The Bronx Is Burning (ESPN): Grade: B+. This miniseries, about the turmoil the Yankees went through during the Summer of Sam in 1977, is top-notch, with great lead performances by Oliver Platt (George Steinbrenner), John Turturro (Billy Martin) and Daniel Sunjata (Reggie Jackson). The supporting cast really does a good job capturing the likes of Thurman Munson, Jimmy Breslin and Gabe Paul. I'd give it an A, but the one area where it falters is tying the two plotlines of the Yankees and the Son of Sam together. It re-airs a bunch of times on ESPN and ESPN2. Airs regularly on Tuesdays at 9 p.m.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: Of course, I'd save the best for last. "Rescue Me" (FX, 10 p.m.) is all-new tonight. It's dialed up the humor a notch this season, getting away a little bit from the dramatic stuff (with the exception of Jerry's suicide, obviously). I also miss Tommy's conversations with Jesus. But it's still better than 90 percent of the stuff on the dial.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Turning Pro

I've officially given up my amateur status when it comes to screenwriting.

Checking the usually meager TVGuy bank account (it's not really called that), the balance this morning had increased quite a bit thanks to the wire transfer from the producer I optioned my script to. And, according to the contract I negotiated, I've still got a few more transfers coming my way.

So, this is a bit thrilling for me, because this is the first time in five years or so of writing screenplays that I've actually made money on something I've written (not counting the plane ticket from the good folks at Disney a few years ago). It's not a tremendous amount - I won't be quitting my day job anytime soon, which means you loyal dozens are still stuck with me on this blog for a while longer - but it will pay some bills.

Dammit, I just realized I've now got to pay taxes on this. That sucks.

Anyway, because I made less (much less) than $5,000 on my option, I still retain eligibility for most of the major screenwriting contests, so I'm both an amateur and a pro at the same time (I'm the Schrodinger's Cat of the screenwriting world).

An option, I should probably explain, is sort of the equivalent of a down-payment for a script. The producer is now looking to see if he can raise the funds and attract a cast and crew for my script. The option assures him of exclusive rights to the script for a specific length of time. Once the option period ends, he will either buy the script outright (please, God) or walk away.

Anyway, this really has nothing to do with anything TV wise, but I thought it was worth posting because my cubicle neighbor, education reporter Julie Hubbard, said it was the first time she'd actually seen me happy and excited, so I just thought I'd share.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: From my movie dreams to someone else's - "On The Lot" (Fox, 8 p.m.) cuts two more would-be Spielbergs. Of last week's action films, Andrew definitely rose to the top with his short about the car salesman in the car chase. The two who deserve to go are Kenny and Mateen. Mateen has never really lived up to the promise he showed in his first film, and his scripts come across as heavy-handed. Kenny's never been a favorite, as his music-video style of directing tends to annoy me. If those two are eliminated, then the remaining six directors really are the cream of the crop and all deserving to win, though my pick is still Zach.

As pointed out in yesterday's blog, Glenn Close returns to TV with "Damages" (FX, 10 p.m.) It's Glenn Close and it's FX, so it's worth your hour of investment.

The quirky "Bronx Is Burning" (ESPN, 10 p.m.) continues as well. It's a decent little miniseries, better than the average ESPN dramatic fare.

Speaking of quirky, the offbeat "Eureka" (Sci-Fi, 9 p.m.) is back with a brand-new episode.

Monday, July 23, 2007

TV Gets Some Big Names

Here's the thing about actors: if they have the choice, most would rather be big-time film stars rather than big-time TV stars.

Why? Several reasons. Film pays more money and is a less intense schedule. A film shoot might last a couple of months, while a TV series ties up an actor for most the year, assuming the series isn't canceled. A series is at the mercy of TV executives, while the movie tends to see light of day in a theatre once it is shot and edited. And actors are less likely to be type-cast in a role if its in a movie rather than TV, because on TV, we see the actor play the same role week in and week out.

But thanks to the emergence of cable TV as a viable option in terms of quality, big-time screen actors are moving to the small screen, and two of the very best actresses in Hollywood make the leap this week.

Tonight marks the debut of Oscar winner Holly Hunter as a full-time TV actress in her new series, "Saving Grace," (TNT, 10 p.m.) The show joins TNT's growing lineup of original dramas, and is preceded by new episodes of "Heartland" (which moves to 8 p.m.) and "The Closer" at 9 p.m.

Hunter plays Grace, an alcoholic cop in Oklahoma City who has reached rock bottom, including hitting a stranger while drunk driving. But Hunter then meets a mysterious man who claims to be an angel looking after her. Is it a delusion? That's what Grace has to figure out as she tries to get her life back in order.

Some of the elements are reminiscent of "Rescue Me," which had Denis Leary's similarly flawed character talk to the ghosts of his cousin, his son and Jesus, among others.

Hunter isn't the only big-name actress moving to TV. Glenn Close, one of the two or three best actresses alive, returns to TV in "Damages" (FX, 10 p.m.) The latest offering in FX's stable of big-event dramas, Close plays the lawyer from Hell, who is going after a big-time corporate shark (Ted Danson).

Close made her series debut a couple of years ago on "The Shield" and was utterly fantastic, delivering an Emmy-worthy performance even if the Emmy voters are a bunch of dingbats for not recognizing her for her work. When FX hits the mark with one of its series, such as "Rescue Me" or "The Shield," it does so in a big way, giving the viewers some of the best stuff on the dial. Here's hoping "Damages" gets added to that list.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: If you decide not to watch TNT's all-new lineup, there are a few options. ABC Family is all-new with episodes of "Kyle XY" at 8 p.m. and "Greek" at 9 p.m.

HBO delivers a new episode of "Big Love" at 9 p.m.

For non-dramatic TV, the best bets among the esoteric crowd are "CMA Music Festival," (ABC, 9 p.m.), which features an all-star lineup of country music acts, and "Simon Schama's Power of Art" (PBS, 10 p.m.), which centers on the great British landscape artist J.M.W. Turner.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Painful Reality

You know, if beating the snot out of reality stars was a staple to all reality shows, I'd probably be a bigger fan of the genre.

As it is, I'll have to settle for "Human Weapon," (History Channel, 10 p.m.), in which the show's two hosts travel the world studying various forms of hand-to-hand combat.

Though I miss the days when the History Channel used to show excellent documentaries on all sorts of subjects, for some reason "Human Weapon" sounds like a lot of fun to me, so I'll likely be checking it out. If nothing else, one of the hosts each week is supposed to take on a master of unarmed combat (in tonight's case, it's Muay Thai), and likely will end up the worse for it.

Sadly, neither of the show's hosts is Rosie O'Donnell.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: The Doctor and Martha get stuck in the mother of all traffic jams on "Doctor Who" (Sci Fi, 9 p.m.), which also features a return of the Face of Boe. It's followed by a new "Painkiller Jane."

"Monk" and "Psych" are both new on USA, beginning at 9 p.m, while the remaining few episodes of "Standoff" (Fox, 9 p.m.) continue to air.

On Saturday, "Hex" (BBC America, Sat., 9 p.m.) finishes its run.

On Sunday, HBO's lineup of "John From Cincinnati," "Entourage" and "Flight of the Conchords" are all new, beginning at 9 p.m., as is USA's combo of "The 4400" and "The Dead Zone." "Mystery" (PBS, 10 p.m.) continues with its Miss Marple series.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I'll See You In Hell, Emmy Voters! (Part 2)

After learning that Lost's Elizabeth Mitchell wasn't among the nominees for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama, I figured that this year's Emmy ballot would be nothing but a disappointment. At least in that sense, I wasn't disappointed.

Once again, the voters for the best in television prove they don't actually bother to watch the medium.

To wit, here's the complete list:

Drama Series: ‘‘Boston Legal,’’ ABC; ‘‘Grey’s Anatomy,’’ ABC; ‘‘Heroes,’’ NBC; ‘‘House,’’ Fox; ‘‘The Sopranos,’’ HBO.
Comedy Series: ‘‘Entourage,’’ HBO; ‘‘The Office,’’ NBC; ‘‘30 Rock, NBC; ‘‘Two and a Half Men,’’ CBS; ‘‘Ugly Betty,’’ ABC.

Actor, Drama Series: James Spader, ‘‘Boston Legal,’’ ABC; Hugh Laurie, ‘‘House,’’ Fox; Denis Leary, ‘‘Rescue Me,’’ FX; James Gandolfini, ‘‘The Sopranos,’’ HBO; Kiefer Sutherland, ‘‘24,’’ Fox.
Actress, Drama Series: Sally Field, ‘‘Brothers & Sisters,’’ ABC; Kyra Sedgwick, ‘‘The Closer,’’ TNT; Mariska Hargitay, ‘‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,’’ NBC; Patricia Arquette, ‘‘Medium,’’ NBC; Minnie Driver, ‘‘The Riches,’’ FX; Edie Falco, ‘‘The Sopranos,’’ HBO.

Supporting Actor, Drama Series: William Shatner, ‘‘Boston Legal,’’ ABC; T.R. Knight, ‘‘Grey’s Anatomy,’’ ABC; Masi Oka, ‘‘Heroes,’’ NBC; Michael Emerson, ‘‘Lost,’’ ABC; Terry O’Quinn, ‘‘Lost,’’ ABC; Michael Imperioli, ‘‘The Sopranos,’’ HBO.
Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Rachel Griffiths, ‘‘Brothers & Sisters,’’ ABC; Katherine Heigl, ‘‘Grey’s Anatomy,’’ ABC; Chandra Wilson, ‘‘Grey’s Anatomy,’’ ABC; Sandra Oh, ‘‘Grey’s Anatomy,’’ ABC; Aida Turturro, ‘‘The Sopranos,’’ HBO; Lorraine Bracco, ‘‘The Sopranos,’’ HBO.

Actor, Comedy Series: Tony Shalhoub, ‘‘Monk,’’ USA; Steve Carell, ‘‘The Office,’’ NBC; Alec Baldwin, ‘‘30 Rock,’’ NBC; Charlie Sheen, ‘‘Two and a Half Men,’’ CBS.
Actress, Comedy Series: Felicity Huffman, ‘‘Desperate Housewives,’’ ABC; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, ‘‘The New Adventures of Old Christine,’’ CBS; Tiny Fey, ‘‘30 Rock,’’ NBC; America Ferrera, ‘‘Ugly Betty,’’ ABC; Mary-Louise Parker, ‘‘Weeds,’’ Showtime.

Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Kevin Dillon, ‘‘Entourage,’’ HBO; Jeremy Piven, ‘‘Entourage,’’ HBO; Neil Patrick Harris, ‘‘How I Met Your Mother,’’ CBS; Rainn Wilson, ‘‘The Office,’’ CBS; Jon Cryer, ‘‘Two and a Half Men,’’ CBS.
Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Jaime Pressly, ‘‘My Name Is Earl,’’ NBC; Jenna Fischer, ‘‘The Office,’’ NBC; Holland Taylor, ‘‘Two and a Half Men,’’ CBS; Conchata Ferrell, ‘‘Two and a Half Men,’’ CBS; Vanessa Williams, ‘‘Ugly Betty,’’ ABC; Elizabeth Perkins, ‘‘Weeds,’’ Showtime.

OK, so now we know the hundred people who watch "Boston Legal" - they all work for the academy. How else to explain all of the nominations for a series that no one else barely acknowledges?

Hey, I love The Shat as much as anyone, but wasting a nomination in Best Supporting Actor for William Shatner is a crime, as is James Spader in Best Actor.

And "2 1/2 Men" proves to be the "Boston Legal" of the comedy world, though at least that show does have legitimate ratings. That Emmy voters continue to show it the love they have is mind-boggling, however.

It's amazing that Emmy voters expanded many of the categories to six nominees, yet still managed to make so many mistakes.

Among the most glaring: Nothing, zip, nada for "Friday Night Lights," one of TV's finest dramas. No mention of the series, nothing for actors Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton (the most shameful and glaring omission, IMO) nor any of the talented young actors that make up the core of the cast, such as Zack Gilford and Scott Porter.

Zilch also for "The Shield," when CCH Pounder was getting a lot of notice for Best Supporting Actress and Walton Goggins ought to have been a slam dunk for Best Supporting Actor. But then, "The Shield" has been shockingly ignored over the past few years despite the superior work turned in by lead Michael Chiklis and supporting actors Glenn Close, Anthony Anderson and Forest Whitaker, among others.

At least fellow FX show "Rescue Me" earned one nod for Dennis Leary as Best Actor, but nothing for Andrea Roth as Best Supporting Actress.

Part of the problem is that Emmy voters fall so much in love with one show, they stuff the category. With Best Supporting Actress in Drama, for example, you have Sandra Oh, Chandra Wilson and Katherine Heigl. For God's sake, just pick one. Emmy voters will have to pick one anyway for the statue, so why not knock out two of them and spread the wealth around with the nominations?

And pick supporting actors who appear in more than just five episodes, such as Lorraine Bracco and Aida Turturro of "The Sopranos." I like both actresses, but neither had the impact of someone like Mitchell or Roth.

And stop going with the same actors year in and year out. Mariska Hargitay? Kiefer Sutherland? Patricia Arquette? (Seriously?) I've given up hope that actors and actresses on shows like "Veronica Mars" or "Battlestar Galactica" will ever earn nominations, but when a show like "Friday Night Lights" or "The Shield" or "The Wire" is passed over, there is something seriously wrong with the process.

I will give the Academy credit for getting a few picks right, however. I was pleased to see Hugh Laurie finally get a nom for Best Actor, and Edie Falco return to the ranks of Best Actress. I was happy to see "Lost's" Michael Emerson and Terry O'Quinn be so honored. And I had all but given up hope that Neil Patrick Harris would be recognized for "How I Met Your Mother," but I was glad to be proven wrong.

I'll save my Emmy predictions for later in the year when the show is broadcast, but this seems like another year worth skipping.

BEST BETS: American Movie Classics airs one of my favorite shows, "Hustle," and now is adding to its original programming with the debut of "Mad Men" (AMC, 10 p.m.) The show, created by "Sopranos" writer Matthew Weiner, is set in the rather politcally incorrect 1950s and in the world of advertising. The show has generated a lot of critical buzz, so it's worth catching the pilot.

"Burn Notice" (USA, 10 p.m.) continues to be a lot of fun, with Jeffrey Donovan as the unemployed secret agent who finds himself helping people of all sorts, and Bruce Campbell as one of his sidekicks. Think "The Equalizer" with a much lighter tone.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I'll See You In Hell, Emmy Voters! (Part 1)

A very brief update today because of post-election stuff, but just a quick heads up that the absolutely frak-tastic Elizabeth Mitchell will not garner an Emmy nomination when the announcements are made tomorrow. That she is not among the top five (or even in the final 10, for that matter) is absolutely ludicrous and more proof that the Emmys, more than any other awards show, need an overhaul in the voting process.

For more on who has been confirmed as nominees, check out the LA Times' blog on it here: http://goldderby.latimes.com.

I'll have a full analysis on the voters' other blunders tomorrow.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: C'mon, it's always going to be "Rescue Me" (FX, 10 p.m.)

"Traveler" (ABC, 10 p.m.) is also new among dramatic shows, while "Dateline" catches yet more online sex predators (NBC, 10 p.m.) At this point, just how stupid are these criminals?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What Are You Doing To Us, Ben Silverman?

No one can accuse NBC's new head honcho, Ben Silverman, of trying to maintain a low profile.

Silverman set the tongues of all the press critics wagging yesterday with some rather eye-opening announcements Monday at the TV critics press tour.

First off, Silverman announced that Isaiah Washington, formerly of "Grey's Anatomy," will be a recurring character on NBC's new action drama, the remake of "The Bionic Woman." Washington will playing a character who may be either good or bad; no mention of the character's views on homosexuality.

It's a curious move to say the least. No one's doubting Washington's talent as an actor, but he's barely removed from the "Grey's" fiasco, and the actor has hardly avoided controversy since being fired for using a slur against gays. In candid newspaper, magazine and TV interviews, Washington has blamed pretty much everyone but himself for his problems.

It's been 24 hours, and no one yet seems to be protesting the move, but that's not necessarily a guarantee that protests won't come in the future. To saddle one of NBC's biggest hopes for the fall schedule with an actor who invites controversy is a bold strategy, to say the least.

Silverman announced that "The Apprentice" would return for yet another season, despite a ratings fall from more than 20 million for its first season down to just over 7 million for the most recent. The "twist," however, is that this will be a celebrity edition, which seems to be the universally recognized sign for any reality show that it's on its last legs.

The new season, which will feature the return of Donald Trump and his progeny, will have celebrities from the business and entertainment world vying against each other.

Generally, these so-called celebrity editions feature B- and C-listers at best, because genuine celebrities tend to be actually working. And, to the surprise of no one, Silverman said he was seriously trying to bring Rosie O'Donnell on board. Hey, at least she's available.

Finally, Silverman had some more cheerful news, announcing that Jerry Seinfeld was returning to the network for a guest shot as himself on "30 Rock."

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: "On The Lot" (Fox, 8 p.m.) bids farewell to two directors. I'm hoping it's Hilary, who has been among the weakest directors in the whole competition, and Shalini, who thinks her pretentious crap is clever, especially last week's debacle about inner beauty or whatever. On the other hand, the contest is decided by the taste of the average American viewer, so I carry almost no hope the correct contestants will be shown the door.

NBC and CBS are foisting more so-called reality entertainment on us. Thank God I've got to work tonight.

Finally, part 2 of "The Bronx Is Burning" (ESPN, 10 p.m.) airs tonight. I'm surprised, but I actually enjoyed this more than I thought I would, thanks in part to the performances of the leads, Oliver Platt (George Steinbrenner), John Turturro (Billy Martin) and Daniel Sunjata (Reggie Jackson). I'm curious to see how the writers will tie in the Summer of Sam subplot, since it seems extraneous right now. You can also catch early action from the 2007 World Series of Poker on ESPN, beginning at 8 p.m.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Enough With The Beckhams, Already

Soccer star David Beckham has yet to officially lace 'em up for Los Angeles Galaxy, yet the arrival of he and his wife, Victoria, has garnered more attention on the news than a visit by a foreign head of state.

I'm not saying some of it isn't deserved: By nearly any measure, Beckham is the world's most popular athlete, a superstar in Europe and practically a rock star in Asia. Despite being past his prime, his signing has already been a gigantic boost to American soccer, generating a tremendous amount of interest here in a sport that is usually overlooked.

But there can be too much of a good thing. Witness tonight's TV schedule, with the special "Victoria Beckham: Coming To America" (NBC, 8 p.m.) I mean, it's hard to imagine a more dull hour.

She was Posh Spice; so what? I assume the special will involve following her around as she tours L.A., going shopping on Rodeo Drive and meeting fans of all sorts. Does this warrant a one-hour special?

I don't know why, as a society, we are so interested in these athlete-entertainer marriages, but all the Beckhams have done is bump the Tony Parker-Eva Longoria wedding off the front pages.

There is such a concept of having too much of a good thing.

PATINKIN BACK, KIND OF: CBS' "Criminal Minds," which tends to generate better ratings than most people would think, has been in the news lately, but not for a good reason.

Series star Mandy Patinkin is on the outs with the show's producers, refusing to show up at work when the show resumed production last week. While there were reports that this was a ploy for more money, series producer Ed Bernero posted a message on a fan blog about the situation, which you can read here: http://criminalmindsfanatic.blogspot.com/2007/07/official-statement-from-ed-bernero.html.

Maybe Patinkin isn't cut out for TV. An accomplished film and stage actor, he seems to tire of the grind of the small screen, as witnessed by his decision to leave "Chicago Hope" after its first few seasons.

Still, we're only hearing one side of the story right now, so it would be great to get a statement from Patinkin's camp.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: If Posh Spice isn't enough for you, there's a slew of new episodes on so-called reality TV, available on all of the major networks.

If you wanted scripted television, ABC Family has new episodes of "Kyle XY" and "Greek," beginning at 8 p.m. TNT counters with "The Closer" and "Heartland," beginning at 9 p.m. On pay TV, "Big Love" (HBO, 9 p.m.) is new.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Defective Detectives

Tonight marks the return of two of USA's signature series, "Monk" and "Psych."

If I were to think of one adjective to describe the two shows, it would be innocuous. Neither is must-see TV, but each has its own charms where it's not a wasted hour to watch.

"Monk" (USA, 9 p.m.) features Tony Shalhoub in an Emmy-winning role as an obsessive-compulsive detective. While his investigating skills are without peer, he can barely function in society.

"Monk" used to be a sharper show, but the mysteries have become so easy and obvious that each episode features little dramatic arc. As frequent poster Zodin2008 pointed out on yesterday's comments, the killer is usually the highest-profile guest star.

But I keep watching because of the winning performance of Shalhoub, who manages to be pitch perfect every week and gives Monk a certain dignity even when the scripts aren't up to par.

Tonight's episode features Sarah Silverman as an obsessed Monk fan.

I've never been a fan of the companion show "Psych," but fellow TV critic Mo Ryan of the Chicago Tribune loves it, so take from that what you will. Again, the plots of "Psych" are silly and border on the ridiculous, but what saves the show (marginally) is the chemistry between the two buddy leads, Shawn (James Roday) and Gus (Dule Hill), as well as Corbin Bernsen as Shawn's disapproving father.

On tonight's premiere, the guys find themselves competing on an "American Idol" type musical show.

Both of these shows, as well as new series "Burn Notice" on Thursdays, feature a tongue-in-cheek, wink-at-the-camera type tone. USA's shows will never be on par with the stuff that is shown on FX, but you could do a lot worse if you are stuck at home for a Friday.

NO DRIVE FOR FOX: As predicted in this blog space a couple of weeks ago, Fox pulled a "Tru Calling" and yanked the final two episodes of "Drive" for the second time in a week. The last two episodes were originally supposed to air July 4, then got switched to tonight. Fox will likely air the final two episodes on Fox.com, if anyone still cares.

I don't mind Fox yanking a show for low ratings, but don't screw around with the viewers who did take the time to watch a show by announcing an airing, then yanking it at the eleventh hour. A few years ago, Fox could have aired the final episode of "Tru Calling," but yanked it in favor of a rerun, which I found to be a slap in the face to the cult audience the show had developed.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: I'll always miss Rose Tyler, but I'm digging Martha Jones. She and The Doctor face off against witches tonight on "Doctor Who" (Sci-Fi, 9 p.m.), followed by a new episode of "Painkiller Jane."

Until Fox decides to screw over the viewers once more, you can catch a new episode of "Standoff" tonight at 9 p.m. Also, if you missed the pilot of the new series "Greek" on ABC Family, you can catch a re-airing tonight on regular ABC at 9 p.m.

"Hex" (BBC America, Saturday, 9 p.m.) is new this week after taking a break last week.

Miss Marple returns to "Mystery" (PBS, Sunday, 10 p.m.) in a new series of Agatha Christie thrillers.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Catching Up

Just a quick update today, since I have a lot of regular, non-TV work to catch up with.

The big news in the TV world is Springfield, VT was named the "official Springfield" for "The Simpsons," winning a contest against most of the other Springfields in the US. The prize for winning said contest is the opportunity to host the premiere of "The Simpsons" movie that hits the big screens this month. So now you have another reason to visit Vermont.

Vermont, incidentally, edged Illinois for the honor.

In other news, "Smallville" has cast the role of Kara Zor-El, aka Supergirl, aka Clark's cousin. The role is going to Lauren Vandervoort. For a picture of her and for more on the story, check out TV Guide's Web site here: http://community.tvguide.com/blog-entry/TVGuide-News-Blog/Todays-News/Smallville-Casts-Supergirl/800018385

Also, Katie Cassidy has signed on to be a recurring character on "Supernatural." Cassidy, the daughter of pop star David Cassidy, will play a 20-year-old demon hunter.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: One of my pet peeves in life is people who screw up the lyrics to popular songs. I mean, if you don't know the words, then stop frakkin' singing. So it's a fair bet that I won't be tuning into "Don't Forget The Lyrics!" (Fox, 8:30 p..m.), the newest reality offering from the same network that gives us "American Idol."

Also new tonight is "Burn Notice," (USA, 10 p.m.), which still features Bruce Campbell, which makes it worth watching.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

TV Is My Chicken Soup

Just a quick note today, since I'm out sick (it's a cold, not Tony LaRussa's mismanagement of the NL All-Stars last night. How do you leave Albert Pujols on the bench with two outs in the ninth? Seriously?)

"Traveler" (ABC, 10 p.m.) is close to wrapping up, and the pick of the night is "Rescue Me" (FX, 10 p.m.), as always.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Midsummer Night's Dream

So count me among the few who still enjoy tuning into the Major League Baseball All-Star Game (Fox, 8 p.m.) for what it is: A matchup of the best talent between the two leagues.

People criticize the All-Star Game for having no importance at all because of interleague play, or having artificially inflated importance because it now decides home-field advantage for the World Series. While these may be valid criticisms, it still doesn't diminish the fun of the game for me.

I enjoy the announcement of all the players, I enjoy seeing the matchups, the batting orders, how the managers employ their benches.

I can remember going back to the 1970s and seeing the likes of Reggie Jackson and Jim Rice line up in the outfield next to each other. I remember Bo Jackson's first appearance and Ronald Reagan broadcasting an inning of the game.

In fact, I wish there was more to the weekend. There used to be the All-Star skills competition, in which we learned who was the best bunter, the fastest baserunner and who possessed the strongest and most accurate arm. That ended when Barry Larkin suffered an arm injury on a throw and was lost for the remainder of the season. (But hey, if they canceled an event every time Barry Larkin got injured, no one would be playing baseball anywhere).

I wish people would just sit back and enjoy the game for what it is: baseball at its most fun.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: If baseball isn't your thing (and what the hell is wrong with you if that's the case), fear not.

OK, so there isn't all that much new on, but there are a few things of interest. "Eureka" (Sci-Fi, 9 p.m.) returns for its second season. I have to admit, I stopped watching midway through Season 1, but this show has developed its own cult following.

If pop culture trivia is your thing, you can catch "The World Series of Pop Culture" (VH-1, 9 p.m.)

And, if you have an appalling lack of taste, "Big Brother" (CBS, 9 p.m.) and "Pirate Master" (CBS, 10 p.m.) are both brand-new as well.

Monday, July 09, 2007

ESPN'S Bronx Tale

Normally, I'd say something snide about ESPN and how it should stick to reporting news rather than making movies, but when the network foists the likes of "Who's Now?" during its broadcasts, what would be the point?

ESPN again ventures into Hollywood tonight with the miniseries "The Bronx Is Burning," (ESPN, 10 p.m.) which tells the turmoil of the New York Yankees. The miniseries is unavailable for preview, so all I can say about it is that I hope it's better than ESPN's other offerings in this genre.

Certainly, there is a lot of material to mine for "Bronx," and the cast is first rate: Oliver Platt plays George Steinbrenner, while John Turturro is Billy Martin and Daniel Sunjata ("Rescue Me") plays Reggie Jackson. The clash of egos among the three even as the Yankees won the World Series in 1977 and 1978 is almost the stuff of legend.

The problem is, ESPN movies rarely find the story when they are made. Take the one with Brian Dennehy as Bob Knight. I didn't have a problem with Dennehy's performance, but the movie itself gave absolutely no insight into Knight - one minute he's a jerk, the next he's a nice guy, and so forth. We don't really learn why Knight is this way, nor does the movie portray many of the infamous incidents that marked Knight's career. Other bits of Knight's life were only mentioned in passing, such as a feud with then-Michigan coach Bill Frieder, without any context for the viewer.

Or take "Four Minutes," written by legendary sports scribe Frank Deford about Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute mile. The movie does a decent job in looking at Bannister's life and his quest to achieve what was thought impossible, but it leaves out the most interesting part of the story.

Months after Bannister broke the barrier, his own record was broken by Australia's John Landy. It set up one of the most famous races in the history of sports, when the two men competed against each other in a field of the top six runners in the world. In the final hundred or so yards, Landy was leading the race and turned his head to see where Bannister was. Bannister took advantage of Landy's mistake and burst ahead of him and set a new mile record. Despite being one of the most dramatic moments ever in sports, this race doesn't appear at all in the movie except as a footnote at the end.

Hopefully, "The Bronx Is Burning" will have learned from the mistakes of ESPN's other movie attempts.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: Mondays have been a bit light of late, but not this week.

Because of the baseball All-Star Game tomorrow, "On The Lot" (Fox, 8 p.m.) returns to Monday temporarily to eliminate one of six filmmakers who submitted horror films last week. On the one hand, none of the horror films were that great (I liked the funny one about the old woman making a sandwich the best), but on the other hand, horror is a very tough genre to do, and if none of the directors had an inclination for it before, it makes it very difficult to write and direct a short film with that subject manner. After all, in Hollywood, if you were to make a horror movie, you'd hire someone like Wes Craven or Eli Roth to direct it, not someone who had no background or interest in horror. But I digress. Watch the show.

To wet your appetite for the All-Star Game, catch the Home Run Derby (ESPN, 8 p.m.) tonight.

If sports or movies aren't your thing, there are plenty of first run dramatic programs, including new episodes of "Kyle XY" (ABC Family, 8 p.m.), followed by the series premiere of "Greek," and "Big Love" (HBO, 9 p.m.), and the TNT duo of "The Closer" at 9 p.m. and "Heartland" at 10 p.m. VCR alert - "The Closer" is supposed to run a little long, so set your VCRs and DVRs accordingly.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Returning To Who-ville

"Doctor Who" fans like myself can breathe a bit easier tonight with the American debut of Series 3 (or Series 29, depending on how you count) tonight on the Sci-Fi Channel.

When the show first returned with Christopher Eccleston in the title role three years ago, I'll admit to some nerves at the time, because who knew if the new series would capture what was so magical of the original. But under the stewardship of producer Russell T. Davies, "Doctor Who" has been all that and more.

Last season, with David Tennant taking over the title role, the show has taken its game to another level. Except for one mis-step the entire season ("Fear Her"), Tennant's first year in the role saw some of the best ever work for the series, with episodes such as "School Reunion," "Love and Monsters" and perhaps the best hour of TV all of last season, "The Girl In The Fireplace."

Series 3 picks up tonight (Sci-Fi, 8 p.m.) moments after last season left off. The Doctor has just bid a tearful farewell to his companion, Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), who is trapped forever on a parallel Earth. As he turns around, a woman in a wedding dress (Catherine Tate) has appeared out of nowhere on the Doctor's ship, the TARDIS.

I actually thought the brilliantly comic Tate would have been worthy as a full-time successor to Piper, because Tate excels at playing rather oddball roles. Playing a rather shrewish and jilted bride might have made for a nice contrast from Rose, but alas, Tate only appears in the premiere, which served as the Christmas special in the UK.

Sci-Fi is also airing the official third season premiere tonight at 9:30 p.m., which introduces new companion Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman), a medical student who teams with the Doctor after her hospital mysteriously vanishes, then reappears on the moon.

Piper left the series as one of the most popular actresses on British TV, and it was likely a daunting task to find a replacement, but Agyeman has drawn raves thus far as Series 3 just ended in Britain. It's being reported this week that pop star Kylie Minogue has signed on to appear in this year's Christmas special, which should be interesting.

Meanwhile, "Doctor Who" fans who are awaiting to see the show's spinoff, "Torchwood," your wait is almost over. BBC America will start airing the first season of "Torchwood" in September.

SATC NEWS: New Line has announced it is beginning production of the long-awaited "Sex & The City" movie, which has been floating around ever since the series ended a few years ago. All four actresses - Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis - have been signed for the movie, though no word on some of the male roles, such as Chris Noth.

I think a "SATC" movie will probably do well for itself in terms of box office, but how they approach it from a dramatic standpoint will be interesting. "SATC" was successful because it was able to integrate intertwining storylines for all four women over a season's worth of episodes; I don't know how that will translate into a two-hour movie, especially since all of the previous storylines were wrapped up.

It's the same reason why I'm one of the few people who has never clamored for a "Sopranos" movie, because the beauty of the series was its character development over a season. That's something that's hard to accomplish in a film.

But I guess we'll see.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: I'm not certain, but tonight may be the final episode of "Standoff" (Fox, 9 p.m.), a mostly entertaining little series that never found its audience.

One series that did find an audience was "Jericho," which was rescued in the 11th hour by rabid fans. If you want to see what the fuss is all about, the show's pilot is being re-aired tonight (CBS, 9 p.m.)

The "Live Earth" concert, featuring some of the biggest acts in music, airs Saturday (NBC, 8 p.m.) If nothing else, it's a chance to catch a reunited Pink Floyd as well as the Police. Madonna, Shakira, Faith Hill, Duran Duran, John Mayer and others are also listed to perform.

Sunday's best bet is another episode of "Foyle's War" (PBS, 9 p.m.)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

TV Sports Idiocy

Two recent items dealing with sports on television makes me glad I'm no longer in the sports business full-time.

In case you hadn't heard — and considering how NBC played it, you probably didn't — the network fired longtime tennis analyst Bud Collins toward the end of June. Supposedly, though unconfirmed, by voicemail.

Collins is considered to be one of the top TV analysts in any sport and has given more than 30 years of service to the network. His name is practically synonymous with "Breakfast at Wimbledon," and there probably aren't three people alive who can match him for pure tennis knowledge. Not only that, but Collins brought a lot of wit and historical perspective to his broadcasts.

NBC is probably doing the move to save a buck or two, but it's a huge mistake because a) you alienate most tennis viewers, not exactly a gigantic bunch these days, and b) because it looks classless.

You want to get rid of Collins? Fine. Tell him this is his final year and let him go out with a farewell tour, at least partially on his own terms. Don't just dismiss him.

Collins is one of those rare broadcasters, like Vin Scully, Curt Gowdy, Dick Vitale and others, whom you may not always like to listen to but has earned the right to leave when they want to, not when some corporate ninny decides it is time. Shame on NBC.

Meanwhile, ESPN continues to waste satellite space with some competition called "Who is the most 'Now' athlete?" Yeah, I don't know what the hell that means, either.

Essentially, it's a NCAA-style tournament bracket, in which athletes of various sports in various eras face off. The ESPN talking heads analyze the matchups, and fans vote who wins. For example, last night had LaDanian Tomlison just edging David Beckham. What the criteria was, I can't fathom.

I mean, I know the summer months are a bit lean in terms of what is going on, but good grief, the marketing geniuses couldn't do better than this? Do you think the athletes in question are on the edge of their seats, hoping to be the most "now"? It's about as exciting as winning an ESPY, I suppose.

Tiger Woods vs. Muhammed Ali, in their prime? My guess is that Tiger would whip Ali on a golf course, while Ali would pound the snot out of Tiger in the ring. Other than that, I don't really know how you could compare the two.

ESPN continues to surprise me with the new depths to which it manages to sink.

NO DRIVE?: Taking the holiday off, I neglected to mention that the final two episodes of "Drive" were supposed to air last night, but it turns out, Fox yanked them anyway in favor of "Anger Management." Fox is now saying Drive will wrap up Friday, July 13. We'll see. Hey, it's still more closure than the network gave to fans of "Tru Calling."

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: I'm not a fan of most reality TV, but "Big Brother" really wants to make me gouge out my own eyes. Still, I'd be remiss in my duties if I didn't let you know that the latest pile of steaming excrement returns tonight to CBS at 8 p.m., bumping back the equally awful "Pirate Master" to 9 p.m.

The only real new thing tonight is "Burn Notice" (USA, 10 p.m.), a decent show if not terribly weighty.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Emmy Semifinalists

The Los Angeles Times awards blog has leaked the semifinalists in both Best Drama and Best Comedy. Emmy voters have a week or so to pare down this list of 10 each down to the five finalists.

In best drama, you have: "Boston Legal," "Dexter," "Friday Night Lights," "Grey’s Anatomy," "Heroes," "House," "Lost," "Rome," "The Sopranos" and "24."

Notable series that were left off because, frankly, the Emmy voters tend to be idiots include "Battlestar Galactica," "Rescue Me" and "The Shield."

Of the list that are finalists, "Boston Legal" definitely belongs in the what-are-they-possibly-thinking category. Of the rest, my PERSONAL choice of five would be "FNL," "Lost," "Heroes," "The Sopranos" and, based on its buzz, "Dexter." "Rome" was a fine series but not a finalist, IMHO, and "House" deserves its Emmy noms in the acting categories.

However, the finalist list will almost certainly include "Grey's," "The Sopranos," "FNL," "24" and either "Heroes" or "Lost." If that's the case, I'd love for "FNL," which has been TV's best drama this season (with the exception of "The Shield") to get the win and solidify its place on NBC's roster.

In the comedy category, there is: "Desperate Housewives," "Entourage," "Extras," "My Name Is Earl," "The Office," "Scrubs," "30 Rock," "Two and a Half Men," "Ugly Betty" and "Weeds."

It's a slightly more complete list than the dramas, though Emmy voters dropped the ball in a big way with the omission of "How I Met Your Mother." "The New Adventures of Old Christine" and "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" would also have been fine picks. On the other hand, major props to the voters for putting "Extras" on there.

My final list of the above choices would include "The Office," "Scrubs," "Extras," "Ugly Betty" and probably either "Entourage" or "Weeds." You've got to wonder why "Desperate Housewives," a shell of itself from the first season, is still being bandied about. It just goes to show how out of touch Emmy voters are.

The final list will likely include "The Office," "Men," "Betty," "30 Rock" and probably "Earl," though the Emmy voters may stick one of the pay cable series on the list to show how liberal they are.

Also reported on the site, goldderby.latimes.com, are several rumors among the acting noms, including:

Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"
Steve Carell, "The Office"
Charlie Sheen, "Two and a Half Men"

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "New Adventures of Old Christine"
America Ferrera, "Ugly Betty"
Teri Hatcher, "Desperate Housewives"
Felicity Huffman, "Desperate Housewives"
Mary-Louise Parker, "Weeds"

James Gandolfini, "Sopranos"
Michael C. Hall, "Dexter"
Eddie Izzard, "The Riches"
Hugh Laurie, "House"
Denis Leary, "Rescue Me"
Kiefer Sutherland, "24"

Minnie Driver, "The Riches"
Edie Falco, "Sopranos"

Masi Oka, "Heroes"

CCH Pounder, "The Shield"

John Krasinski, "The Office"

Vanessa Williams, "Ugly Betty"

For the most part, most of these names would be good choices. The Emmy voters could do better than Hatcher and Driver, however, and in theory, still might. Pounder would be a pleasant surprise, considering how often "The Shield" gets ignored. As much as I enjoy Oka, if "Heroes" gets one nom in the supporting actor category, it should go to Jack Coleman.

We'll pass along any more news when we hear it. Remember, all of the above picks are based on sources whom the LA Times considers reliable, so take from it what you will. The final list of noms comes out July 19, so you can be sure what will be the blog topic that day.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: I didn't get to comment last week about "On The Lot," (Fox, 8 p.m.), which is a shame because once again, my man Zach proved to be the class of the field. The most improved filmmaker was the girl who did film about the guy who takes his father-in-law to the doctor's office, a huge improvement over the awful documentary she submitted in the previous round. And say what you will about it, but I liked Will's film about the guy getting brain surgery. Tonight's group of six are submitting horror films.

Various other reality offerings are on the air tonight, but hey, I don't really care about them.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Train Wreck, Thy Name Is Isaiah

Not wish bad health on anybody, but I hope for his sake, Isaiah Washington catches a bad case of laryngitis within the next few hours.

In case you haven't heard, the ex-"Grey's Anatomy" star has not taken his firing well. Ever since using an anti-gay epithet and outing former co-star T.R. Knight last year, it's been one fiasco after another for Washington, including an on-set fight with former co-star Patrick Dempsey.

After a public apology and other acts of contrition, Washington was still fired from the show. I can understand he was upset by this, but his action over the past week or so has quashed the modicum of sympathy I might have had for him.

Washington has lashed out against Knight, claiming he should be the one fired; and he has lashed out against ABC, claiming he was fired because he is black. Kind of makes you wonder how sincere he was about his apology in the first place.

Washington isn't just walking across a minefield here for his career, he's practically running. Tonight, he appears on "Larry King Live" (CNN, 9 p.m.), which has become a haven for celebrities who have said and done stupid things and want a sympathetic interview to rebuild their image. No one does the softball, witless interview better than Larry King. Just take a look at the Paris Hilton interview last week.

Washington, however, may not have the savvy of Paris Hilton. (God, that's a phrase I never thought I'd type.) Washington has been lashing out at everyone the past two weeks, and now he has 44 minutes of airtime to do the same. He may not just burn his bridges, he may actually napalm them.

First, Washington ought to remember he uttered the slur, then repeated it during an interview at the Emmys. If the situation were flipped, and one of his former co-stars had uttered a racial epithet, Washington probably (and justifiably) would want that person gone.

Second, where has Washington been burying his head the past several months to think ABC's motivation was racial? The producer of "Grey's Anatomy," Shonda Rimes, is black and I'm guessing had a little bit of say in the matter (though probably not much.) What of the backlash against Michael Richards? Think he's going to work again any time soon? Or Don Imus?

People have a low tolerance these days for any sort of bigotry (thank goodness), be it against blacks, whites, gays, Jews, Latinos, Asians or any other group. (Which is how it should be, IMHO.) If anyone of any persuasion says anything offensive, he or she must be prepared for the consequences.

Washington says he is still fielding offers for TV and film work; if that's true, he can still salvage his career. But if he continues to lay the blame everywhere but his own two feet, he is risking further trouble.

My unsolicited advice? Use the time with Larry King tonight to claim that you have been stressed out the past couple of weeks and didn't mean the things you said. My guess? Washington does the exact opposite and continues his ugly implosion.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: Well, in a night full of so-called reality TV, the Washington interview might be the best pick. I thought we were well rid of "The Real Wedding Crashers" (NBC, 8 p.m.), one of the more appalling ideas to come out of the reality factory in recent memory, but I check my TV grid and it seems to be back.

On a better note, historian Simon Schama looks at the artist Bernini in his series, "The Power of Art" (PBS, 10 p.m.)

Among the new dramas airing original episodes are TNT's "The Closer" and "Heartland" at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., respectively.

Also new are "Kyle XY" (ABC Family, 8 p.m.) and "Big Love" (HBO, 9 p.m.), which will hopefully keep longtime blog contributor Zodin2008 happy.