Friday, 30 April 2010

Hung S02

Alias alumna Merrin Dungey has landed a major recurring role on HBO comedy series Hung's upcoming second season. She will play Liz, a potential new love interest for Ray Drecker (Thomas Jane), the struggling suburban Detroit high-school basketball coach moonlighting as a male prostitute. Liz is one of his clients, a super successful corporate woman. Dungey also co-starred on CBS’ King of Queens and recently recurred on ABC's Better Off Ted.

Read more on this article...

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Zoe Kravitz goes her own way

Ready to feel old? Zoe Kravitz, aka the daughter of rocker Lenny and onetime Cosby kid Lisa Bonet, is now old enough to be guest-starring on a show as racy as Showtime’s Californication! The up-and-coming young starlet will appear in six episodes as a wild child named (what a coincidence!) Zoe, who recruits Becca (Madeleine Martin) for her all-girl band. What Becca’s dad (David Duchovny) will recruit her for, I shudder to think.

Read more on this article...

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Shameless S07E13

Observe the lines of the body, see how they flow into each other to form relationships and pay particular attention to the places where the lines form a space...
Television Series: Shameless (S07E13)
Release Date: March 2010
Actress: Joanna Higson & Rebecca Atkinson
Video Clip Credit: DeepAtSea
Video Details: [DivX5 at 3200Kbps; 1280 x 720; 16mb for 42s (x3 videos)]
Read more on this article...

Monday, 26 April 2010

The Tudors S04E03

British actress Tamzin Merchant received quite the education playing the fifth wife of King Henry VIII on The Tudors. "It was like going to school, but to be a naughty child," the Cambridge University student told the Herald during a recent interview. "One of my lecturers did come up to me in the quad after the show aired in England and told me I was very wanton," said Merchant, 22. "I don’t usually get feedback like that from my teachers."

Merchant joined the cast last season as Katherine Howard, the wayward teenager chosen by Henry’s council to, um, occupy the aging king following the annulment of his marriage to fourth wife Anne of Cleves (Joss Stone). "I think one of the most striking things about Katherine Howard is that she really is so young. Playing the fifth wife is sort of like playing a young girl in a toy shop. Here’s this very young girl who has no idea what it means to be queen, the responsibilities to be queen, the danger, in fact. I think she doesn’t have a grasp on the reality of the situation because she is caught up in the fairy tale," she said. "With Katherine, I saw it as a breath of fresh air in the Tudor court. I wanted Katherine Howard to be a little unusual and unversed in how she was expected to behave. I flounce around quite a bit in a teenage way. In England, there will be lots of disapprovement with my slightly unperiod take on it."

The bawdy role is a departure from Merchant’s earlier film work, which included playing Mr. Darcy’s virtuous sister Georgiana in 2005’s Pride & Prejudice. "If (Darcy) saw the things I was getting up to in The Tudors, he would be pretty horrified," Merchant said, then laughed. Katherine could have used someone like the upright Mr. Darcy. Henry had her beheaded when she was 19 years old. "I think she was very much a pawn in people’s games. In the version we are doing, she was left alone without a moral upbringing. The other queens had this network of comrades, and Katherine Howard was ultimately left out in the cold even though she had a powerful family," Merchant said. "I think a lot of people think she shouldn’t be a wife. I agree she wasn’t a queen, but she was my favorite wife. I feel very close to her," she said.

Television Series: Tudors (S04E03)
Release Date: April 2010
Actress: Joanne King & Tamzin Merchant
Video Clip Credit: DeepAtSea
Video Clip Info: [DIVX at 4000kbps; 1280x720; 55mb for 1mn51s (x3 videos)]
Read more on this article...

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Hung and Entourage returning soon

HBO's Hung and Entourage will return on June 27, following True Blood. The comedies are taking the time slot from Treme, which will have finished its first season. HBO had previously announced that True Blood will be back June 13. The station has already renewed rookie comedy series How To Make It In America, ordering a further eight episodes to debut in summer of 2011. The news comes the day after the network also renewed Curb Your Enthusiasm for an eighth round, with 10 episodes to air next year.

"After much soul searching – and by the way, it was nowhere to be found – I have decided to do another season of 'Curb,'" creator David said. "I look forward to the end of shooting, when I can once again resume the hunt for my elusive soul. I know it’s here somewhere or perhaps in the rugged mountainous regions of Pakistan." Adds HBO programming president Michael Lombardo: "Larry always loves to paint himself into a corner, and after the incredibly wonderful seventh season of 'Curb,' you have to ask, ‘How does he ever top this?’ But he always finds a way. We can’t wait to see what he does in season eight." With 70 episodes to date, "Curb" has become HBO's longest-running scripted series.

As far as Entourage is concerned, it could be two more seasons of and then a movie according to the show's executive producer Mark Wahlberg. Asked about the future of the comedy series, which recently was picked up for a sixth cycle coming off one of its strongest seasons, Wahlberg indicated that he believes there are two more seasons left in the show. "We'll see; there could be more," he said at the premiere of his latest film, The Lovely Bones. "But then, a movie." HBO seems on board with the idea. "It is not out of the realm of possibility," an HBO spokeswoman admitted. "Although, right now, the creators are concentrating on the new season." In following a successful series run with a movie, the Doug Ellin-created Entourage would mirror another long-running HBO comedy, Sex and the City.

Elsewhere, criminally under-watched Starz comedy Party Down already lost Jane Lynch last season to Fox's Glee, now three more key cast members have commitments to other TV projects. So can the show realistically continue? At the Party Down event at the Paley Center last night, Philiana Ng reports that co-creators and executive producers Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars), John Enbom and Dan Etheridge were adamant that the show can continue.

Leading man Adam Scott (Henry) recently signed on for NBC's Parks & Recreation as an unwelcomed state arbiter, causing many to believe that the upcoming sophomore season may be Party Down's last. Also, Ryan Hansen (Kyle) was cast in a NBC comedy pilot Friends With Benefits and Lizzy Caplan (Casey) is committed to CBS' True Love project. That's three to four main characters potentially leaving by season's end. "It's catering. People come and people go," Enbom said. "We never had the money to go, 'You're in a 10-year deal!'"

"We love our cast, but I think it's a show that can survive," Thomas added. "I think in the real world catering is not a career choice for most people so it would make sense that new people would come into the show." I'm not so sure. While people leaving a catering company might make sense from a logic standpoint, that has little to do with keeping viewers. Casting is catching lightning in a bottle. Not only does each character need to pop, they need to click with each of the other characters. Viewers get emotionally invested in a character's story and once they're gone, often, so is the audience.

Since it started launching scripted programming, Starz hasn't had much luck with actors. Dennis Hopper, star of the network's first drama, Crash, is battling cancer. Andy Whitfield, star of the network's second drama, Spartacus, is also battling cancer. Now the cast of Party Down, a show that really needs to grow in the ratings, has one foot out the door.

Finally, the wife of Michael C. Hall says the Dexter star is "fully recovered" from cancer and has returned to work. Jennifer Carpenter said Friday that Hall was "incredibly brave" when he announced in January that he was undergoing treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer that attacks the lymph nodes. The 38-year-old Hall went into remission and continued treatment at a health facility near Los Angeles.

Hall won a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Golden Globe Award earlier this year for his portrayal of Dexter, a serial killer who targets other murderers. Carpenter stars on the bloody Showtime hit series as Dexter's seemingly unknowing sister.
Read more on this article...

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Gravity S01E01

Force of Attraction
by Emma Rosenblum, New York Magazine

Generally speaking, choking on your own vomit isn’t a career enhancer. Krysten Ritter proves otherwise. The 28-year-old actress was in something of a rut until landing the part of Jesse Pinkman’s junkie girlfriend, Jane Margolis, for Breaking Bad’s second season. “Up until then, I was getting a lot of comedic sidekick roles,” says Ritter, who had pretty much sewn up the feisty best friend in romantic comedies (27 Dresses, What Happens in Vegas, Confessions of a Shopaholic, She’s Out of My League). But one dark role has begotten another darkish one: She’s now starring in Gravity (debuting April 23 on Starz), an ensemble dramedy about an A.A.-style group for suicide survivors. In many ways, Gravity’s Lily is like Jane: smart, acerbic, and quirky. But this time her character lives, hooking up with a grieving widower who drives his car off a bridge only to be thwarted by a passing cruise ship. “Krysten has this intangible energy,” says Eric Schaeffer, Gravity’s creator. “She can go from downright melancholy, to sarcastic, to very light and kooky.”

Her mind does travel interesting paths. We start talking about an upcoming film role, playing the manager of an Irish band in Killing Bono. “It’s based on a book of the same name, a true story about U2 and a band called Shook Up!,” she says. “They came up around the same time. This is a pretty bold statement,” she adds, “but I think one of the guys in the movie, Robbie Sheehan, is going to be the next Johnny Depp. He’s electric, only 22, and he’s also got some big CGI movie with Nic Cage coming out: Season of the Witch.” Ritter pauses. “What is it about Nic Cage that people find appealing, I wonder?” I suggest that he has done some great work. “He was in Leaving Las Vegas—and he was kind of awesome in Face/Off,” she says. “He’s too old for me. I don’t look at men that age. I just don’t. I usually date young boys.” Younger than you? “No, just my age. Older guys are nurturing, they like to take care of you, and sometimes it’s nice to be fed and watered, but there’s nothing worse than a grumpy old man.”

Dressed in scuffed motorcycle boots and a plaid button-down, the actress could easily pass for her former self, a Lower East Side–dwelling model (discovered in a rural Pennsylvania mall when she was 16), or the lead singer and guitarist for a rock band called, say, Ex Vivian—which, as it turns out, is Ritter’s gig when she’s not acting. And since not acting isn’t happening much lately, “at the moment I’m just trying to maintain my skill as a musician,” she says. “I try to pick up my guitar—a classic nylon-string that I call Guitarlos—for fifteen minutes every morning. When I don’t, I’m starting off on the wrong foot. I’m going back to L.A. after this interview, and I can’t wait to be playing my guitar and not have hair and makeup.”

Ritter admits to a wanton lack of pickiness when it comes to her work. “I take every single job that comes my way,” she says. “I know so many complete assholes who’ve got a lot of money in the bank and got it quickly and have no concept how hard you have to work.” But with the move from supporting parts to leads, she’s been forced to employ restraint, even turning down a role for the first time. “I’ve been working for six months straight, and otherwise I would be useless in [my next project] Vamps.”

For some bizarre reason, when every film and TV show seems to boast a vampire, the deathly pale, gothic beauty is just now playing one. (I mean, look at her!) Out next year, Vamps is a comedy from Clueless director Amy Heckerling, who cast Ritter to star opposite Alicia Silverstone. “It kind of sucks,” says Ritter of the vampire glut. “Amy’s been working on this movie for a long time—it’s her passion project. But Vamps is first and foremost an Amy Heckerling movie, not a vampire movie, like Twilight—though I can’t really say since I haven’t seen it. I might be the only person.”

Television Series: Gravity (S01E01- Suicide Dummies)
Release Date: April 2010
Actress: Krysten Ritter
Video Clip Credit: DeepAtSea
Video Clip Details [DivX5 at 3080Kbps; 1280 x 720; 14mb for 36s ]
Read more on this article...

Doctor Who S05E04

Ooh Doctor, you soniced her!
Television Series: Doctor (S05E04- The Time of Angels)
Release Date: April 2010
Actress: Karen Gillan
Video Clip Credit: ddandd
Read more on this article...

Friday, 23 April 2010

Eastbound & Down S02

Season 2 of HBO’s Eastbound & Down is quickly coming together. America’s very own Kenny Powers aka The Man with the Golden Dick is officially leaving North Carolina and shipping off to play ball(s) in Mexico, better known as Hell on Earth in recent months due to drug cartel violence, kidnappings, and the rest of it. Several months ago it had been decided to use Puerto Rico as a shooting location stand-in for the new series. The core team has been in Rico working on the scripts for the next eight episodes (its predecessor had six), and shooting begins in May.

So, yikes, the "sour patch" seems only to worsen for Danny McBride’s iconic steroid-taking professional baseball pitcher turned existential curse of an oaf. In the first season finale, he quit his physical ed teaching job for an offer to join the Tampa Bay Rays but, after the offer fell through, he dumped his girlfriend and was last seen driving away with a worried look on his face. In Season 2, hiding from his problems, Kenny finds himself south of the border where he joins a local baseball team.

Of news here is that established Mexican actress Ana de la Reguera is evidently the new love interest for Kenny. (Note: He ditched his busty high school flame, April, at the end of episode six, leaving her at a gas station with a pack of Skittles and a sad little suitcase.) Reguera has acted primarily in telenovelas and foreign fare, but some may recognize her as the kooky nun from Nacho Libre and from a supporting role in Cop Out. She also hosted a Latin MTV Awards.

Read more on this article...

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Lowdown S01E01

Squeeze and relax... squeeze and relax...

Love-rats, sports cheats, drunken escapades, mob-men, fallen idols and sizzling starlets — celebrity scandal makes great copy. For more than a decade, Adam Zwar was a showbiz journalist and columnist for the Sunday Herald Sun. During that time he spent a week holed up in a Stuttgart hotel with AC/DC, was threatened by Sting and had his tape recorder thrown out a window by an irate Billy Idol. Add to this illustrious roll call of characters Will Ferrell, Tommy Lee, Jack Black, Shania Twain, Matthew McConaughey and a host of Aussie celebs – including Stephen Curry, whose small toe Adam broke at Sydney airport.

Collaborating with AFI award winning director, Amanda Brotchie, Adam has muscled stories inspired from the mean streets of celebrity reporting into Lowdown, a show that lifts the lid on the inner-workings of a celebrity gossip hound. The 8 x 30mins TV series is narrated by Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush and shines a spotlight on the life of a man whose job it is to feed the public's insatiable appetite for celebrity gossip; a man who'll risk life and limb to secure every scandalous scoop.

Adam plays Alex Burchill, the author of the Lowdown column which appears in the once great but now ailing tabloid newspaper. Each week Alex interviews celebrities for his column, and each week at least one of those celebrities ruins his week. Sometimes the celebrity gets drunk and punches Alex out. Sometimes the celebrity gets him arrested. Usually the celebrity sleeps with his girlfriend, Rita. It may not sound like much of a life, but it invariably leads to great copy and the readers love it. In fact, it's the only thing standing between the Sunday Sun and oblivion.

So why is this news? Well Rita - a top young installation artist known for her daring, autobiographical work such as "Teenage Bedroom", which contained knick knacks from her teenage years including the cardigan she was wearing when she lost her virginity, complete with grass clippings and semen stains- is played by Beth Buchanan. Even if the name is unfamiliar, the face will not be; especially if you was watching Aussie soap Neighbours in the early 90's where Gemma Ramsay was the emotionally troubled, moral high-ground taking and environmentally concerned vet of choice for all discerning adolescents in Erinsborough. Who was to guess that after two decades of relative anonymity she would turn up again, only this time tastefully nude and learning the principles of tantric sex?

Television Series: Lowdown (S01E01)
Release Date: April 2010
Actress: Beth Buchanan
Video Clip Credit: Atefooterz
Video Clip Details [5.6MB]
Read more on this article...

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Blowjob Girl

I'm going to make it so dry for you...

It didn't take long for Ellie Kemper to become one of this site's major favourites. As Erin Hannon, Dunder-Mifflin’s sunny new secretary, she is easily the best thing to happen to The Office in a while. Her character is sweetly naïve and enabling to all its weirdos, and her budding romance with Ed Helms’ Andy Bernard is fast becoming a central plot point.

The role couldn’t have come at a better time for Kemper, a comic actress who arrived on set by way of New York. She has an extensive background in live improv and sketch, continues to appear in countless web videos, and crops up on Important Things With Demetri Martin and the recent Derrick Comedy film Mystery Team. (She’s also an occasional contributor to The Onion.) Kemper has become comedy’s go-to utility player, and The Office was smart to snatch her up, upgrading her from a guest-starring role last season to the full-time cast this year. In the midst of shooting the sixth season’s final episodes, Kemper talked to The A.V. Club about why she’s sick of being "the girl from that blowjob video."

AVC: You’re in a bunch of web videos for a bunch of comedy groups. What does it usually take to get you involved?

EK: Them asking me. That’s all. Certainly when I lived in New York. People were shooting web videos all the time. You know, I don’t know if you’ve seen "Blowjob Girl." Do you know what I’m talking about?

AVC: Yeah, I’ve seen it.

EK: Suddenly I was like, "Oh great, he hasn’t heard of it," and then I didn’t want to bring it up. I really don’t like that video, and I wish that I hadn’t done it, even though I know that it’s a joke. I hate that it got sort of big, because I don’t think that it’s that funny and I don’t want that to be the epitome of my work. It’s just one video in a sea of many, but it has made me conscious of not wanting to do a video like that again. That would be my only criteria.

AVC: At the Just For Laughs festival last year in Montreal, they mentioned you at the Variety’s '10 Comics To Watch' panel as "Ellie Kemper, who you may know from that blowjob video…" It was strange, saying it like that.

EK: Right! Okay. Thank you. I’m so happy you said that. It does make me mad, because even the title of that video—if it had been "Bad Job," or something that wasn’t as explicit… My parents are not amused. My mom was like, "Ellie, not everyone in your family is a comedian..."

Read more on this article...

Monday, 19 April 2010

The Tudors S04E02

You can tell the plight of female nudity on modern television screens is in a parlous state when an insignificant scene from a little known actress on a US cable channel warrants mention in Britain's biggest national newspaper. Today's Sun gleefully reports that ex Casualty star Joanne King gets 'hearts racing' in the latest episode of The Tudors. The Irish actress, who played the medical drama's Cynthia 'Cyd' Pyke, shows her 'saucy side' as Lady Rochford in the latest series of the BBC2 period drama. Her sinister character is married to George Boleyn, whose sister Anne becomes one of the King's guillotined wives. But, continues the article, "these scenes are a cut above..."

Television Series: Tudors (S04E02)
Release Date: April 2010
Actress: Joanne King
Video Clip Credit: DeepAtSea
Video Clip Details [DivX5 at 2583 Kbps; 1280 x 720; 25mb for 43s (x3 videos)]
Read more on this article...

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Spartacus S01E13: Blood and Sand

The Use of Sex in Spartacus
by Katrina Law, Katrinalawspartacus

Sex. We all like it, right? But this show offers us a valid excuse to shrug off our hang-ups and wade right on in to the orgy with every episode. It is valid to show the sexuality of the time and to have naked bodies on display because that was so much of a part of Roman Society…so we’ve got that excuse. And thank Heavens for it! All those dangerous woman and scantily clad gladiators roaming around under the hot sun…it’s a recipe for addiction!

I think my favorite things to read are the comments on the Spartacus Fan Page on Facebook where couples come on and talk about how this humble television show, Spartacus, has become “date night” or “role play night” for them every Friday night. They mention how it’s livened up their OWN sex lives or inspired them to stop eating junk food and get back into the gym and get in shape so they can look sexy for the person they love. I think that is just absolutely FANTASTIC. Who would have thought that the show would have had that effect?

Television Series: Spartacus: Blood and Sand (S01E013- Kill Them All)
Release Date: April 2010
Actress: Katrina Law
Video Clip Credit: DeepAtSea
Video Clip Info: [DivX5 at 2800 Kbps; 1280 x 720; 25mb for 1mn20s (x5 videos)]
Read more on this article...

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Doctor Who S05E03

Have you ever fancied someone you shouldn't?

So week 3 of the new series of Doctor Who and it’s still all about her, really, isn’t it? Amy Pond. Amelia Pond. Karen Gillan. The Doctor’s new assistant. A 5ft 11in Amazonian goddess with Titian hair, girl-cat eyes and legs from here to yaya. You can rack up all the super-intellectual 900-year-old time-travellers you want — in the end, they won’t hold a candle to a tamale-hot giantess with freckles and an attitude.

At 19, Pond has already worn out four psychoanalysts, handcuffed a Time Lord to a radiator while dressed as a sexy cop kissagram, and embarked on what will be, in perpetuity, the high-water mark for hen nights: the day before her wedding, Pond has climbed into the Tardis and has gone racketing across all of space-time, while still in her nightie. As Gillan is already signed up for the next series, that’s one hell of a prenuptial knees-up. It certainly puts doing karaoke’n’shots in Brighton with “The Girls” into perspective.

Last week Pond, in slippers and winceyette, was on her first alien vessel, in the year 3120. This week, in cowboy boots and a mini skirt, she's making Winston Churchill's eyes pop in the Cabinet War Rooms of WWII London. As both episodes unfolded along all the right adjectives — witty, tearful, scary, deftly moral — you noted that, on the whole, Matt Smith’s Doctor is still hanging back. There are none of the David Tennant James Bond/Geek Christ hero-shots we’d got so used to. No resurrecting from fire, ash or rubble. No — the Eleventh Doctor is focusing on a Troughton-like eccentricity instead. With hands so large they look like foam-rubber ones, and a jacket of quietly sexy tweed, he’s manifesting the air of a man who could either, a) save the imploding Universe, or, b) do a legendary Gold Run on Blockbusters, with a gonk Dalek as mascot, and isn’t fussed which, really.

This withholding is all presumably to allow space for the establishing of a new landscape — before all hell breaks loose later in the series, as it invariably does. This time around, cracks are appearing in the Universe. Cracks in the Universe rarely bode well in terms of the Doctor’s “me” time. He probably isn’t going to get to finish that 20,000-piece double-sided jigsaw before the season finale. At some point, this Doctor will have to rise, magnificently, to the occasion, and you suspect, on the evidence so far, he will.

But, in the meantime, at the start of its run, the show has other fish to fry. Right now, it’s the image of Amy Pond — dreamily floating in space, pillowed on Technicolor hair, with the Doctor holding on to her ankle, flying her like a kite — that still resonates the most.

Television Series: Doctor (S05E03- Victory of the Daleks)
Release Date: April 2010
Actress: Karen Gillan
Video Clip Credit: ddandd
Read more on this article...

Friday, 16 April 2010

A Passionate Woman

Is that Vosene I smell, or just the perfume of an angel?

Billie Piper is the star of Kay Mellor’s A Passionate Woman and she really has got a bum deal. She’s gone from the Tardis to being a housewife and mother in a two-room apartment that seems to be made entirely of mildew, wailing baby and a lot of brown. We're in the 1950s, which was a time of steak and kidney pudding and no sex, especially in Leeds, and no one, including our Betty, knew any better. Her husband is kindly, yet dull — he’ll put food on the table, and "give baby boiled egg", but he’s resolutely not Chatty McAnecdote, and the sex is, predictably, utilitarian. He’s still dealing out the hoggins according to his Ration Book. This is turnip jam shagging.

But! Look! Who’s just moved in downstairs? It’s hot Pole Chris — "Call me Craze for short" — Crazenovski. He’s got cheekbones like the Goss twins, and lips all like I don’t know what. Phwit phwooo! He also owns a set of very 21st-century teeth and a pack of cheesy chat-up lines. Betty bumps into him at the local dance — she all lipstick and overbite, he with his shirt unbuttoned down to here, unlike the British boys, we note. Sexy McSexingtonowski comes on to her — "Is that Vosene I smell, or just the perfume of an angel?" — but she runs away, flustered.

This does not meet with approval from her racy sister, Margaret. "You’ve got to live a little!" she counsels, while banging some likely Herbert behind the bandstand. Betty twists her wedding ring, anxiously, waiting for her to finish. Two hot sisters christened Elizabeth and Margaret, you think to yourself. One dutiful, one dirty. I see what you’ve done there, Mellor. Nice one.

But this Elizabeth doesn’t have to worry about looking slutty in front of the whole Commonwealth. And, besides, she’s facing unendurable provocation — old Letch Walesa downstairs keeps going out into the street, looking buff while picking up heavy things. The first time Betty sees him do this, from her kitchen window, she becomes so lost in reverie that she lets her potatoes overboil. Yeah. You know what it means when a lady’s spuds overboil. It’s like when a train goes into a tunnel, but better. And with mash at the end.

So this was Billie Secret Diary of a Call Girl Piper playing, yet again, a chick who’s all stocking tops, gasping orgasms and red-hot filth. At this point in Piper’s career, I think we can all draw our own conclusions about this. Mine is: I love Billie Piper. Over the course of an hour, she and her lover have sex in the rain, against a birch tree; in the marital bed; and in a corridor of Stygian gloom while a baby wails, distantly, like a warning-bell. Suddenly no-getty Betty is sweaty getty-lotty Betty. It's a thin line, sometimes, between period drama and soft porn.

Meanwhile, poor Donald, Betty's husband, is left sitting at home, wondering where his wife and his pudding have got to. Obviously, it all ends really badly: Betty’s passion for Craze becomes so intense that, when she next spots him through the kitchen window, she becomes distracted and lets her glass of water fill from the tap until it overflows. Yeah. You know what it means when a lady’s glass fills to overflowing. She’s going to have to towel up a big mess.

That mess turned out to be Craze getting shot by his enraged, pregnant wife — splattering plot goo all over the shop, and lining everyone up for the concluding episode, set 30 years later. Good, frankly. No one likes to see nice English girls running off with Johnny Foreigner, just because he's handsome and a better lover, and makes her feel not only like a woman but actually alive, instead of dead, which is what she feels like when she's with you. Well, no one apart from the ladies themselves. I think this is one for them, to be honest.

As the first episode ended, it was hard to know exactly how you felt about it all, really. If I’m to be honest, as the credits rolled, I realised that my main pleasure had come from seeing a character — Betty — shuffling outside in a pork-pink candlewick dressing gown. Man, I haven’t seen a candlewick dressing gown for years. That texture is satisfying. I'll let my girlfriend watch part two, and open us a nice tin of steak and kidney pudding.

Television Series: A Passionate Woman (E01)
Release Date: April 2010
Actress: Billie Piper
Video Clip Credit: Trailblazer
Read more on this article...

Spring Awakening

Regardless of whether you are a Gleek (and I'm assuming that most readers of this blog probably are not), you may have noticed the buzz surrounding FOX’s musical comedy, which returned to US screens Tuesday to the second-best ratings of the night after a “Gleek Week” of promotional appearances and news coverage. Created by Ian Brennan, Brad Falchuk, and Ryan Murphy, Glee focuses on a diverse group of teenagers participating in a high school show choir, treating the participants in “New Directions” with alternating doses of warmth and snark. It also is one of the first series in the last few decades to successfully incorporate musical numbers; its music has become a lucrative cross-promotional element of the Glee phenomenon.

Yet music is the least catchy part of the show and oddly, that works — paradox is the core of this show's off-kilter appeal. It’s maudlin and self-mocking, cheesy and mordantly modern, a shameless rip-off of almost every classic teen movie and also original, a mash-up not just of pop songs and show tunes but also of narrative styles, mixing melodrama and satire. It’s an over-the-top spoof, Arrested Development in a high school setting, but with flickers of Friday Night Lights pathos.

The beating heart of the show is Lea Michele. She plays Rachel, the aspiring Broadway diva and unlikely heroine, the most deliciously annoying high school arriviste since Reese Witherspoon played Tracy Flick in Election. When, after a snag at sectionals, the glee club has to turn to Rachel to come up with a new song at the last minute, she is more than ready. ”Well, I do have something I’ve been working on since I was 4,” she says. Rachel expects to be a star, but she also yearns to be popular, and is almost universally loathed. “Did you see what Rachel was wearing today?” one of the popular cheerleaders says to another. Her friend replies, “Yeah, she looked like Pippi Longstocking, but, like, Israeli.”

Of course if you are neither gay or female then little of this is likely to be of interest to you. All you'll need to know is that prior to Glee, Michele made her Broadway debut in 1995 as a replacement cast member in Les Miserables and by 2001, at the age of 14, went on her first audition for Spring Awakening, becoming a part of all subsequent workshops for that show. Centred on the sexual awakening of teenagers in 19th century Germany, Michele had some of the most intense moments in Spring Awakening, including a controversial sex scene at the end of Act 1. "People like to focus on that scene," she says. "I always get questions like 'How did it make you feel? How did your parents feel?' You know what? It's a sex scene. It's risky, but I am so comfortable working with [co-star] Jonathan Groff. He made it easy for me." She's quick to point out that every cast member gets a moment to bare their souls onstage before the end of the show: "I don't consider [the sex scene] any more challenging or intense or risky than anything anyone else does on the stage," she explains. "Everyone is putting themselves out there."

In adapting the play, the musical's director and producers kept Wedekind's central, infamous rape scene. Somewhere between Chelsea and Times Square, however, they changed it from one of disturbing or at least uncomfortable quasi-forced sex (as played off-Broadway) to one of missionary-position love-making (as played on Broadway). Christopher Isherwood surmised in his Broadway review that "only scholars are likely to care that a key plot turn, a sex scene with the central female character, the pubescent Wendla Bergman (Lea Michele), has been thoroughly softened from confused ambiguity into a consensual act." Confounded again, morality is thus "thoroughly softened" into moralistic textual purism and exiled to the provinces of nitpicking scholars (German literature scholars, presumably, those strident advocates of theatrical rape fantasies).

"Softening" the play's rape scene, making it seem like it's not rape, is the moral equivalent of marrying Cordelia off to Edgar at the end of King Lear. Wendla's rape is the terrible, troubling crux of Spring Awakening. The Broadway producers' no-means-yes bowdlerizing makes the scene less shocking, less moral (to put it mildly), and paradoxically less feminist--political correctness once again gone awry. Staging and thereby confronting rape is not criminal or offensive. Pretending rape isn't rape is.

No doubt there was a heart-stopping moment in the transfer process when somebody realized you can't rape someone and then sing about it on Broadway. What's more, the audience won't like Melchior if he rapes Wendla, and if we can't have a hero we at least need an anti-hero, right? One might imagine similar scruples about another character's confessing that her father physically and sexually abuses her, after which she breaks into a song about it. Evidently, the production team felt this was more plausible or acceptable than the deeply creepy rape, though. Creepier still: the producers' hoary platitudes about why forced penetration might just be an act of love after all. Inevitably, Lea Michele carries the burden of parroting these platitudes to the press: "It used to be where you might have thought it would have been along the lines of rape," Michele told Playbill, "but the more we learned about the play the more we realized these two characters were very much in love with each other, and we really just showed the truth of that. Michael [Mayer, the director] really managed to make it very classy and just very respectful. I wouldn't do anything if I felt it wasn't respectful."

But Lea, 23, who went topless for the part, can't believe she went through with it now. "I did a simulated sex scene on stage, which was very tastefully done," she tells Now. "But when I went back to watch the play I couldn't believe I'd done it. I was like: "Cover your eyes!" to all the people sitting next to me!'
Read more on this article...

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Californication S04

Carla Gugino has signed on to be a featured guest star on the upcoming fourth season of Showtime's "Californication." Showtime has announced that Gugino- last seen in primetime as Vincent Chase's agent-turned-girlfriend on "Entourage"- will appear in 10 of the season's 12 episosdes playing a defense attorney. No. Wait. Showtime says Gugino will play "a sexy defense attorney," just in case you worried that the actress might be cast against type as a dowdy defense attorney.

To be more specific, the fourth season finds David Duchovny's Hank dealing with the blowback from his long-past dalliance with the then-underage Mia (Madeline Zima). His legal problems force him to seek out a high-powered lawyer to keep him out of prison. No. Wait. Showtime specifies that Gugino will play a "hot, high-powered lawyer." Again, that's just in case you thought she might go homely this time around.

In any case, Hank will have a hard time keeping his hands off of Gugino's character, which only seems fair given that Hank has a hard time keeping his hands off of everybody. Gugino's TV credits include "Karen Sisco," "Threshold," "Spin City" and "Entourage." On the big screen, she starred in the "Spy Kids" films and in "Watchmen."

Also joining the cast for eight episodes is "Cashmere Mafia" star Addison Timlin, who will play an actress starring in the film within the show.

Read more on this article...

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Doctor Who S05E02

In bed above, we're deep asleep, while greater love lies further deep. This dream must end, this world must know. We all depend on the Beast Below...

Doctor Who's famous regenerations were modelled on bad LSD trips, a long-suppressed internal BBC memo reveals. Documents published for the first time describe how the Doctor's occasional transformations were supposed to convey the "hell and dank horror" of the hallucinogenic drug.

Regenerations were introduced in 1966 to allow programme bosses to replace the lead actor and write the new face into the show's plot. In an internal memo dating from that year, producers outlined how the original Doctor, William Hartnell, would be transformed for his successor Patrick Troughton. It also tackled the ''horrifying experience'' of the regeneration.

"The metaphysical change ... is a horrifying experience - an experience in which he relives some of the most unendurable moments of his long life, including the galactic war. It is as if he has had the L.S.D. drug and instead of experiencing the kicks, he has the hell and dank horror which can be its effect," the memo says.

Discussing his appearance, the document says: "His hair is wild and his clothes look rather worse for wear (this is a legacy from the metaphysical change which took place in the Tardis)." The memos are part of a batch of documents which have been published online today as part of the BBC Archive.

The BBC1 series recently saw the 11th actor take on the lead role when Matt Smith replaced David Tennant. During that process, the new Doctor embarked on an altogether more agreeable LSD trip in the shape of Licentious Scottish Damsel Karen Gillan. The Daily Mail gleefully reports that although she might have been branded 'too sexy' by some critics, the new assistant, has no intention of fading into the background. In this week's episode of the sci-fi show, The Beast Below, the Doctor and his flame-haired companion are seen soaking wet, with their clothes stuck to their bodies, as they battle the mysterious 'beast'.

Television Series: Doctor (S05E02- The Beast Below)
Release Date: April 2010
Actress: Karen Gillan
Video Clip Credit: ddandd
Read more on this article...

Monday, 12 April 2010

Starz developing a Spartacus: Blood and Sand prequel?

New York Magazine is reporting that Starz is developing a six-episode miniseries prequel to its freshman hit, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, in order to keep the series' momentum after its star, Andy Whitfield, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma a month ago and production on a second season was indefinitely postponed.

The series (the finale of which airs next week) has been Starz's first original-series hit, averaging a million viewers each week; the network green-lighted season 2 a month before it even premiered, but now, with Whitfield in treatment, Starz finds itself with empty sets, actors, producers, and writers very expensively standing by. A prequel (Gladiator Babies, perhaps?) would keep the sets and creative staff productive, while holding on to the original show's fans. Network execs are now in Cannes at the annual MIP TV international programming marketplace, looking at other options, but this spin-off is looking like a tempting bet to fill their January hole. More as this story develops.

Read more on this article...

The Tudors S04E01

Will you not come to bed?...

Television Series: Tudors (S04E01)
Release Date: April 2010
Actress: Tamzin Merchant
Video Clip Credit: DeepAtSea
Video Clip Details [DivX5 at 3500 Kbps; 1280 x 720; 59mb for 43s (x3 videos)]
Read more on this article...

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Spartacus S01E12: Blood and Sand

The swords and sandals are about the only similarities between Spartacus: Blood and Sand and Xena: Warrior Princess, Lucy Lawless says. "They're so different from each other in almost every way. From the technology, the fight sequences, the sex scenes."

Ah, yes, the sex scenes. In addition to the copious amounts of blood spilled on-screen, the Starz ancient Rome epic features boundary-pushing sex scenes that are about as explicit as you can get on television. Lawless, who had not done nudity prior to Spartacus, is at the center of a number of them as manipulative man-eater Lucretia. "When you talk about it, it sounds like you're doing a lot of sex scenes, but I don't feel like I do that much," she says. "My concern was that it fit with the story and that there wasn't any gratuitous sex in this, and it doesn't really trouble me as long as it's relevant to the scene. It's part of the story that they're around in various states of undress. Human beings have always had sex, and a lot of business got done during these transactions. That's what the sex is about."

For Lucretia, the business of sex is to provide her husband, gladiator school owner Batiatus (John Hannah), with an heir — any which way she can, including sleeping with the gladiators at the camp. "She begins, what I think, is quite an abusive relationship with the chief gladiator, the champion, hoping that he might impregnate her," Lawless says. "She's desperate." In her first nude scene, Lucretia and her husband happily discuss political plans while stripping for bed. Meanwhile, off-screen "fluffers" prepare them to consummate. The fluffing is off-screen, but that's still something you've never seen on TV before, said series creator Steven S. DeKnight.

"In the first draft it was written they were engaged in the act and having this conversation," DeKnight said. "[Executive producer and Lawless' husband] Rob [Tapert] felt like this is something we could see anywhere in TV. How can we make it different for our show? There were a lot of extremely graphic, crazy suggestions thrown out that I can't even repeat. They shocked even me, but, finally, I really started thinking about it, and I thought this first scene really needs to set up the master/slave relationship. Why not use that in the sexual connotation and actually have them be fluffers, but not just the woman fluffer for the guy, but also have a fluffer for the woman? It's interesting, because the way it's shot, you really don't see anything with the fluffing going on, but it's the implication that just makes it extremely racy."

That Lawless performed her first full-on sex scenes with British actor Hannah, who she insists was the perfect co-star, was some comfort. "I couldn't have had a better partner... You have to make the unsexy look incredibly sexy." But the actress insists the sex scenes were anything but pleasant: "It's the first time I had to do a sex scene; I try to think of myself as a modern woman but, honestly, I went home and had to go straight to bed. It was so stressful."

There is, of course, even more outrageous debauchery to come. "They would have conversations while I'm in a bath with slaves," Lawless said. "So naturally you are in a state of undress, but there is something going on in the scene that is more riveting than me." Oh yeah? "I will say with regards to the nudity, you get kind of used to it," Lawless said. "It's historically accurate that there are slaves standing around in states of undress, and after a while it becomes a non-issue. It loses its taboo, and it's irrelevant to your day."

So Lawless subsequently shot several further nude sex scenes for the show, with both men and women. While renowned for her buff bod on Xena, Lawless said she's been able to be more natural on "Spartacus." In fact, the actress sets a whole new standard for fitness among 41-year-old mothers of three. "I think I would have been stressed by the idea of doing any form of nudity at any age," she admits. "But if you're an artist of any sort whatsoever - if it seems important to the role or telling the story, or authentic, or historically accurate, then I don't see that you would have an excuse not to do it. Besides, my character is not supposed to be ripped. She's a woman. It's Ancient Rome. It's not like they were popping off to the gym every two seconds, but they were very image conscious, that's for sure."

And apparently, both the male and female actors on the show had prosthetic sex parts available, should they want or need them! "I think everyone's got [a merkin] just for fun," she admitted. "Mine, I haven't had to break it out yet. Though [laughs] next season, maybe! Yeah, wait for it! I'd never actually seen one, certainly never owned one," Lawless continued. "I have one that’s never ever been worn. For all the sex scenes, it has never really been necessary." So what did she do with it? "It’s a virgin merkin," she told us. "It’s in a frame, they gave it to me at the end of the season. I'm too embarrassed — I don’t know what to do with it. I can’t show the kids: 'Mummy, what’s that?' 'Nooooothing!'" But can't she hang it somewhere? "In the deepest, darkest corners of my closet, maybe."

And for the guys? Prosthetic privates! "A couple are stapled to the wall," Lawless said. "I'm not sure if they've used them yet. Nobody's telling!" She insists Spartacus is a must-watch for lusty women as the newcomer, Andy Whitfield, has a terrific body, which he shows off in the mini-series. "There's full frontal male nudity," she adds. "You see plenty, trust me. I'm a little traumatized. I think Starz was really courageous to hop onboard this train," Lawless says. "This is a wild ride and very intense to shoot. And we have so much good stuff coming up. You get to see that the women are more vicious than the men. My lover, Crixus [played by Manu Bennett], is falling in love with my handmaiden, and it is good. Things get very hot and heavy. And very sticky."

To that end, DeKnight said that the series won't shy away from further sexual depictions, but he seconds Lawless' assertion that there's more to the scene than the physical. "Everything I've read is it was a very visceral place, both in its regards to sex and its regards to violence," DeKnight said. "Particularly with the sex scenes, I certainly don't shy away from it, but it's always about something else. You'll see some background sex going on that's obviously part of a bigger scene, but when it's our main characters, there is always something else going on in the sex scene. It's a discussion, it's a power play, it's an exploration of love. It's never just for the sex or titillation."

Television Series: Spartacus: Blood and Sand (S01E012- Revelations)
Release Date: April 2010
Actress: Lesley-Ann Brandt, Lucy Lawless & Viva Bianca
Video Clip Credit: DeepAtSea
Video Clip Info: [DivX5 at 2800 Kbps; 1280 x 720; 25mb for 1mn20s (x5 videos)]
Read more on this article...

Friday, 9 April 2010

Showtime Gets Shameless

Showtime has ordered 12 episodes of John Wells' latest series, "Shameless." Set to begin production at the end of summer, and likely to premiere in 2011, it's an American adaptation of the award-winning British drama series of the same name. The hour-long adaptation transports the unconventional Gallagher family to a working class neighborhood of Chicago, following them as they muddle through the current recession.

William H. Macy, last seen on TV playing a doctor in Wells' "ER," has been tapped to star in the series. He'll be playing single-dad character Frank Gallagher, an alcoholic trying to make ends meet. Emmy Rossum ("The Phantom of the Opera," "Dare") plays feisty eldest daughter Fiona, responsible for keeping her five brothers and sisters in check while her dad is passed out on the living room floor. Recurring guest star Allison Janney ("The West Wing," "Juno") takes on the role of Frank's love interest.

A pilot, co-written by Shameless creator Paul Abbott and directed by Mark Mylod ("Entourage"), was shown on cable TV channel Showtime and the network has now commissioned the further episodes. It is understood that Abbott will be "creatively involved" with the project.

"We're so happy to be bringing this richly textured drama about a dysfunctional blue-collar family to Showtime with two of the greatest television producers working today, John Wells and Paul Abbott," says Robert Greenblatt, president of Showtime Entertainment.

The move follows the success of British programmes, such as The Office, across the Atlantic. The British version of Shameless has already been shown on BBC America and the Sundance Channel. That said, this won't be the first time US TV has tried to remake one of Abbott's shows: ABC tried it with Cracker in 1997 and USA with Touching Evil in 2004. Neither were a particular success, but they also weren't on a pay cable channel like Showtime, which has become known for putting quality and talent above ratings and ad sales.

Read more on this article...

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Misfits S01

The latest Guardian suggestion for your next DVD boxset purchase is Misfits. It is not your average superhero show, writes Richard Vine – this gang of asbo teens aren't that interested in saving the world, but they are brilliantly funny, rude and occasionally quite moving...

"If she can hear what I'm thinking, does she know I want to shag her? Oh shit! She can hear that." This is not the sort of thing a TV character usually wonders when they first encounter someone with superpowers. But then Misfits is not a normal superhero show.

For a start, it's British – almost defiantly so. Instead of nerdy cub reporters or billionaire playboys taking up crime-fighting in their spare time, it's about a gang of asbo teens working out their community service. Scruffy trainers and bright orange jumpsuits replace flowing capes and tight lycra. To be fair, the teens do spawn their superpowers (invisibility, telepathy, the ability to turn back time) after being caught out in a mysterious lightning storm, but the series is so grounded in its inner-city setting that it doesn't feel like you're being asked to take too much of a geek leap to enjoy it.

As you might expect from E4, home of Skins, the asbo heroes are fantastically rude, party hard and aren't that bothered about saving the world. The results are brilliantly funny, wildly inventive, and occasionally very moving – not unlike Skins itself. It takes the stereotypes of modern teenagers (the online nerd, the hard-ass chav, the club bunny) and shows us the people behind the tabloid labels.

Robert Sheehan, who had a small part in Red Riding, and has since gone on to film roles in Cherrybomb and Season of the Witch, is very much the star of the early episodes, even though his character, Nathan, is the only one who seems to be immune to the effects of the lightning. He's a motormouth whose relentless quipping gives the series much of its charm (his reaction to James Blunt: "I will not be in a room where that song is playing. Line in the sand, my friend"). One of the highlights of the box set is the deepening mystery of why Nathan is doing community service. He says he was "done for eating some pick'n'mix". After several episodes of build-up, we find out the whole truth. And it's hilarious.

Other reasons to tune in? Apart from featuring one of the hottest (and weirdest) sex scenes to appear on British television last year, there is the electric newcomer Antonia Thomas, who plays a character cursed with the ability to send people into a sexual frenzy with just one touch...

Antonia, how has your family reacted to your character?

Antonia: It's been hilarious! I warned the family well before I even got on set. They generally think Alisha's a funny character, apart from some of the sexual things I have to do which freak them out a bit.

The plastic bottle scene in episode 1 must have gone down a treat.

Antonia: Yeah, let's face it; that did go down a treat! I mean, the general feeling was that it went on for quite a long time! Filming that was difficult. Everyone was around and it was a totally silent set.

Misfits S01E01 - bra, cleavage, bottle blow job - 12th November 09

Misfits S01E02 - underwear - 19th November 09

Antonia Thomas - Misfits S01E03 - blue bra - 26th November 09

Misfits S01E04 - 3rd December 2009

Misfits S01E05 - pink bra - 10th December 09
Read more on this article...

Monday, 5 April 2010

Doctor Who S05E01

The return of Doctor Who to television screens on Saturday night has led to a host of complaints and comments on online message boards that it is 'too sexy'. The first show of the new series, broadcast on Saturday, featured a kissogram, a naked Doctor and a "sexed up" Tardis. During the special 65-minute episode, The Eleventh Hour, in which Doctor Who had 20 minutes to save Earth from aliens known as the Atraxi, his new companion, Amy Pond, was revealed as a kissogram dressed in a skimpy policeman’s outfit, complete with mini-skirt and handcuffs.

In one scene, Amy, played by the actress Karen Gillan, told the Doctor that her kissogram repertoire also included nuns and nurses’ outfits. In another, she watched as the Doctor completely undressed in front of her, before donning his new outfit of a tweed suit and bow tie. As he stripped, Amy’s fiancé, Rory, asked: "Aren’t you going to turn your back?" to which she replied, "no", while running her eyes over the naked Doctor. For the viewer, however, the Doctor’s physique was left to the imagination, with only a glimpse of his torso shown on screen.

Writing about Amy, one viewer in an online forum asked: 'Why did she dress up as a tarty policewoman? Surely that's not fitting for a family show.' Another said: "They've completely demeaned Doctor Who by replacing good episode stories with slutty girls."

But Miss Gillan defended the decision to dress in a mini skirt, saying: 'I tried on different things and when it came to the short skirts, I just thought it was right. I mean, look down most high streets and girls Amy's age wear that. It's not that weird. Short skirts show that Amy is confident and comfortable about her look. You have to have confidence to wear something like that."

Even the Tardis had a racy revamp, newly equipped with a walk-in wardrobe and swimming pool. Upon seeing the interior of his updated time machine, the Doctor declared: "Oh, you sexy thing."

Piers Wenger, the executive producer of Dr Who, said that Steven Moffat, the series’ new script writer, wanted a “sexy” new companion for the Doctor. He said: "The whole kissogram thing played into Steven’s desire for the companion to be feisty and outspoken and a bit of a number. Amy is probably the wildest companion that the Doctor has travelled with, but she isn’t promiscuous. She is really a two-man woman and that will become clear over the course of the episodes. Sci-fi has a long and happy history of sexy female characters and long may that continue."

Television Series: Doctor (S05E01- The Eleventh Hour)
Release Date: April 2010
Actress: Karen Gillan
Video Clip Credit: Snoop
Video Clip Info: [178mb; Mpeg2]

Read more on this article...

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Cable vs. broadcast: TV's different mindsets

Broadcast offers comfort and closure, while cable speaks to our doubts and anxieties
By Neal Gabler, Los Angeles Times

Back in May 2001, then- NBC President Robert Wright was fuming. He fired off a bristling letter to producers and executives throughout broadcast television, complaining that HBO was changing the rules of their medium. Wright's immediate gripe was an episode of "The Sopranos" where a young stripper was beaten to death by a berserk Mafioso. But his larger claim was that broadcast television was having a hard time competing with the cable network because it had the license of unexpurgated language, nudity and bloody violence that were proscribed to NBC. If only his network had the freedom of HBO, well . . .

Wright might have honestly believed that the difference between NBC and HBO was a matter of cussing and graphic violence, but he could not have been more wrong, then or now. The real difference between broadcast television and cable is not that the Federal Communications Commission restricts one from doing what the other can. It's a matter of cosmology -- the way they perceive the universe. Cable TV and broadcast TV purvey different worlds, and cable's is darker, bleaker, more complicated and less forgiving.

This shouldn't be too surprising. Broadcast television was devised in the late 1940s to reach the broadest possible audience in order to sell sponsors' products. Because it would eventually enter nearly every living room in America, it was compelled both by government regulation and its own sense of decorum to behave like a proper guest. From its earliest variety shows, which were direct descendants of vaudeville and shared vaudeville's family appeal, to its earliest sitcoms, which were descendants of radio and shared radio's disinclination to offend, to its earliest dramas, which descended from the movies and made a similar appeal to the middle, television felt safe.

Broadcast TV operated within a world vision that was also comforting. Television shows invariably had closure. The basic principle of broadcast TV, whether a program was comic or dramatic, was that a situation would arise in one act only to be resolved in the next. Nowadays, there are longer story arcs -- " Lost's" has lasted six seasons -- but the same idea obtains. Nothing is open-ended on broadcast television. Nothing is intractable. It is a form without anxiety -- a form of reassurance.

What is true of broadcast TV's narrative technique is also true of its protagonists. The likable hero -- "The Mentalist," the investigators on "NCIS," the detectives and lawyers on the various "Law & Orders" -- is so much a commonplace that it is easy to overlook just how much he or she constitutes a complete attitude, especially since the source of his or her likability, aside from appearance, is typically his or her basic decency. Broadcast TV trades in a good world filled with good people -- a world in which evil is an aberration and not a condition of life. Think of " Criminal Minds," in which a team of profilers tracks down a vicious serial killer each week without the whole world ever seeming awry.

The heroes may be conflicted or idiosyncratic or errant, but we never doubt their fundamental morality, just as we never really believe in their complexity. On broadcast TV, cops exist to fight evil, doctors to save lives, Moms and Dads to love their families, and twenty- and thirtysomethings to love their friends.

Cable television purveys a very different world view -- at least in many of its precincts.

On the USA network ("Characters Welcome"), characters are likely to be either eccentrics -- to wit, the obsessive-compulsive detective Monk -- or individuals who have suffered a setback -- a CIA agent who is suddenly dropped on "Burn Notice," a young doctor whose practice goes belly up on "Royal Pains" -- and then must adjust. They don't make the world right. They try to make the best of things.

It gets a tad more interesting with TNT ("We Know Drama"), though the network's characters and their world are not radical departures from broadcast TV either, just less overtly good in a world slightly less redeemable at show's end. What is different from NBC, CBS, ABC or Fox on shows such as "Dark Blue" or "The Closer" or "Southland," which was pitched overboard by NBC precisely because it didn't seem like a crowd pleaser, is the darkness of hue, the whack-a-mole persistence of the bad that begins to bring into question whether evil is limited to the social margins.

AMC goes further. Don Draper, the creative adman extraordinaire on " Mad Men," isn't just not overtly good; he is so deeply flawed that both his likability and his possible redemption are seriously in question. A serial philanderer, a bottom-line boss who fires a gay employee for not succumbing to the advances of a client, a man whose entire life, including his name, is a lie, Draper is a cunning man in a mendacious, predatory world of images. There are no happy endings here, only triumphs of guile and will.

Yet even "Mad Men" falls short of what can only be called the cosmic depravity, duplicity and damnation of FX. Programs such as "Nip/Tuck," "Damages" and "Rescue Me" show a world that is irredeemably ugly and people who are just plain irredeemable. Forget likability, goodness, safety and order.

"Nip/Tuck," which followed two wealthy plastic surgeons and which just wound up its six-year run, is a series about superficiality -- a world in which how one looks is far more important than who one is. Were "Nip/Tuck" on broadcast television, the protagonists would undoubtedly serve at best as moral guides and at worst as guilt-stricken flagellants who would find their way back to decency by recognizing the emptiness around them. But on FX, they are essentially rotten to the core -- even more superficial than their patients. At series' end, far from having the requisite epiphany that leads to goodness, one of them, a body attached to a reproductive organ, simply embraces his narcissism and goes unapologetically on his self-centered way.

Similarly, the aptly named "Damages," perhaps the most Kafkaesque program ever, gives us a crusading attorney played by Glenn Close, who has an opacity that broadcast television wouldn't tolerate, not to mention the ethics of a barracuda. She can't be trusted, but then neither can anyone else on the show. The world "Damages" depicts is all convolutions, sharp angles, mirrors and dead ends. Nothing is what it seems, and decency and self-interest are so commingled that one can't tell them apart. But to the series' credit, it only untangles the plot, never the twisted universe in which the plot plays out.

Which brings us to HBO, the network that once accurately boasted, "It's not TV, it's HBO." It was a slogan that recognized HBO was not beholden to the soothing verities of broadcast TV; HBO's characters, such as Tony Soprano, are invariably corrupted and compromised, the needles on their moral compasses spinning wildly.

While Showtime has "Dexter" with its likable serial killer who only murders deserving victims, "Weeds" with its likable hausfrau driven to drug dealing, and "Californication" with its likable promiscuous scamp, HBO doesn't just bend conventions; it breaks them. Tony Soprano is a vicious killer. Bill on "Big Love" is a self-justifying polygamist. Larry David is a politically incorrect man-boy who is practically solipsistic and Ricky Gervais' character is an egomaniac whose self-regard blocks everything else. Like them, theirs is a world without clear moral bearings -- a world that is far too complex for the simple bromides of broadcast TV. In fact, these shows don't even have closure, as those who protested the "Sopranos" conclusion can attest. Things don't end on HBO. They just keep drifting toward entropy.

None of this is to say that cable's gloomy world won't veer into parody, as "Nip/Tuck" came dangerously close to doing, or that it won't stagnate through repetition. And of course, broadcast TV has occasionally tried to steal cable's thunder -- NBC had its own "Sopranos" manque, "Kingpin" -- but its heart and mission don't seem to be in it.

Maybe that is what Bob Wright really detected underneath the sex and violence when he fretted about HBO's effect on television. The cosmology of HBO, FX and AMC is fierce and unrelentingly grim. It is a cosmology for a different America in a different television age than the '50s, '60s and '70s, when things seemed so much simpler. It speaks to our doubts and our debits, to our anxieties and apprehensions. It tells us that we are not necessarily good and that neither is our world. It tells us that not everything can be made right in the end. It is a journey into the American heart of darkness.

And it's not television. It's life.
Read more on this article...

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Spartacus: Blood and Sand S01E11

A few thoughts on nudity
by Katrina Law, Katrinalawspartacus

I have received several letters asking me about how I handled all the nudity on the show and I thought it was a really good topic to blog about. I wanted to try to explain all the things that an actor goes through when he or she is both considering handling such a scene and also when they are actually shooting it.

When I was given the audition for Spartacus, the very first question I was asked was if I was okay with doing nudity. My initial reaction was to say, “No!” But I asked the Producer what sort of nudity was being done on Spartacus and why was it being done. Was it simply to titillate and for shock or was there a deeper motivation behind those scenes?

The answer I was given was that the nudity was based on a strong desire for historical accuracy first and also as an effort to “push the envelope” along with the graphic violence and relationships in the story. This was certainly a good answer, but I still wasn’t sold. I’m really a shy person and am not in the habit of running around skimpily dressed and I’m especially unused to getting naked in front of a roomful of strangers. So the Producer sent me the trailer to view so I could see some of the finished product and make an informed decision.

As soon as the trailer started I knew that Spartacus was a show that I wanted to be a part of. I loved the cinematography, the direction, the acting and the overall feel of the show. I loved the lighting and the atmosphere and was struck by how everyone looked gorgeous whether they were high society or a slave. It was the kind of series that I would watch whether or not I was in it, and if I wasn’t in it, I knew it was the kind of show that I would be dying to audition for. But I was still nervous about the entire nudity issue. I had never done it before in my career and wasn’t sure if I was willing to do it now. So I went back to the producer we had a little chat. He assured me that everything was being shot so as to get the best angles with the best lighting, and was being handled in the most tasteful and artistic way in order to guarantee that the scenes were high quality and artistic rather than what you would see in late night “soft core porn.” Then he said the key words that finally sold me on the idea, “The men are as equally naked and exposed as the women.”

As an audience member, I have no issues with nudity on the screen. I think that both the male and female forms are breath taking and I’m as red blooded as the next girl. I applaud all the people that have come before me with the courage, confidence, and artistic integrity to be so vulnerable and bear it all and still be able to step out in public with their heads high. The problem that I have with nudity on screen, in general, is that it is almost always the women who bare all and are the ones who are exploited sexually. There are countless scenes on TV and film where the female character is completely naked in the scene while the man stands there fully clothed. More often than not, if anyone is getting naked, it is the woman. But on Spartacus: Blood and Sand, both are treated as equals so rather than feeling like the nudity is an exploitation of both sexes, it feels more like a story which is staying true to its time.

So with the blessing of my parents and a word of encouragement and support from my fiancé, I went ahead and accepted the role of Mira on Spartacus.

In the show, one of my favorite scenes is the one where Ilithyia decides that she wants to see Crixus naked in order to “accurately gauge his worth” and, with the help of Batiatus, Crixus is ordered to drop his subligaria. Ilithyia (fully dressed) then proceeds to circle around Crixus (devoid of all clothing and in a straight on wide shot, which is the MOST unflattering angle for ANY person to stand naked in) and eyes him up and down like he is a sticky piece of caramel chocolate. On a selfish note, it was great to see the roles reversed for once and to have the man be the one being marginalized. I thought that was surprisingly daring. Usually the man has the power while the woman stands bare and helpless before him, but not so on Spartacus. However, from an acting point of view, I am so incredibly proud of Manu (the actor who plays Crixus) for being as brave and as dedicated to his craft as he was. What a tremendously vulnerable situation to allow yourself to be in, and he looked great doing it! (must have been the lighting ;-) )

From firsthand experience, I know that standing naked before a camera with the knowledge that you are about to put it ALL out there for the world to judge is a scary endeavor. Outside of standup comedy, it is easily the scariest thing I have ever done, and I’ve jumped out of planes, white water rafted class five rivers and SCUBA dived below 157 feet. In other words, I don’t scare easily.

In my first episode I had a total of six scenes, and out of those six scenes, four of them were nude scenes. I distinctly remember finally getting a full script and, after reading it and realizing what I had gotten myself into, I just sat in my trailer for a few minutes and willed myself to breathe normally; not to panic. Then I jumped on my phone and unloaded all my fears and insecurities to my fiancé for the next hour. He’s good at talking me off of ledges.

Luckily for me (whether or not this was intentional, I’ll never know) my shooting schedule kind of eased me gently into the mix. My first shot on Spartacus was the one where the slave girls are all wearing various white masks. Yes, I was naked, but I was surrounded by other women who were just as naked and the two featured actors in the scene were Lucy Lawless and Brook Harmon. It was a closed set (which means only necessary crew and no guests allowed) so I felt relatively safe and somewhat invisible.

The entire crew and camera department were great. By this point in their shooting schedule it was already Month Six into production and by then they had seen and done it all. I think they were interested in the ‘new girl’ for about half a second before they got bored and moved on. They had also perfected the art of only looking when they needed to and looking at the floor, wall, or ceiling the rest of the time. Everyone was extremely respectful and the wardrobe department was very protective, trying to cover up all the girls as soon as possible whenever the cameras stopped rolling.

My second scene was the bath house scene with Lucretia and Naevia. By this point I had decided that “Merkin” (the name for the fake wig of hair used to both create a historically accurate nether region and to protect an actress from unwanted exposure while also ensuring that there is no actual physical contact) was an ugly and awkward word. So I named mine Priscilla. As crazy as it seems, tiny little Priscilla made me feel like I had on a bit of clothing and, thus, a little bit of protection from the world.

Without question the bath house scene was the hardest for me to do. I remember the director telling me that they were going to shot from straight on and I thought, “But what about the best angles? Straight on is a terrible angle and quite possibly the least flattering out of all the angles! What about triangles? Or how about an angle that happens to be located behind a plant or shoots through gauze? Shouldn’t this scene be shot entirely with the lights off??” Instead of whining though, I just channeled all of my fear, insecurities, and anxiety about the nudity into the emotions my character would naturally be feeling in the scene and left it in the hands of the director.

After going through all of that, when I finally got to my scenes with Andy (Spartacus), it was a breeze.

In the end, I viewed the entire situation as if I was jumping into a freezing cold river. I just had to quit crying, “man up” and do it. I had to put all of my faith and trust into Michael Hurst (director for Episode 9), the crew, my cast mates, the producers, the writers, the editors and most importantly of all, the camera men. And from what I saw when I watched Episode 9, I am glad I did. Though my mom did think it was strange to see me that naked considering that I was six years old the last time she had seen me like that.

Television Series: Spartacus: Blood and Sand (S01E011- Old Wounds)
Release Date: April 2010
Actress: Erin Cummings & Katrina Law
Video Clip Credit: DeepAtSea
Video Clip Info: [DivX5 at 3200 Kbps; 1280 x 720; 14mb for 25s+10s (x2 videos)]
Read more on this article...

Friday, 2 April 2010

True Blood S02E09

ATW favourite Anna Paquin, the star of TV series True Blood, has revealed that she is bisexual. Paquin - who is engaged to her co-star Stephen Moyer - made the disclosure in a public service announcement video promoting the Give A Damn equal rights campaign. "I'm Anna Paquin. I'm bisexual and I give a damn," she said to camera during a private taping in Los Angeles. The revelation sparked such a flood of visitors to the website that it crashed, leaving a message that read: "Ok - we didn't expect THIS kind of traffic!"

Paquin's contribution is included in the PSA alongside appearances from Sir Elton John, Clay Aiken, Whoopi Goldberg, Wanda Sykes and Sharon Osbourne. The campaign promotes the rights of gay, bisexual and transgendered people. Paquin explains in the video: "One hate crime is committed approximately every hour of every day in this country."

The 27-year-old actress announced her engagement to Moyer in August last year. They met on the set of True Blood, HBO's hit vampire drama, in which she plays waitress Sookie Stackhouse. She found fame as a child star in 1993 film The Piano, becoming the second youngest Oscar-winner in history when she was named best supporting actress aged 11. Paquin went on to appear in Fly Away Home and Amistad before getting her first blockbuster role as Rogue in the X-Men movies.

She relishes her role in True Blood, describing it as "a really full-on sexy show... lots of weird, kinky vampire sex". In a recent interview, Paquin said she and British-born Moyer have no plans. "I'm not really that girl, we're not really that couple," she said. "I wasn't the girl who spent hours dreaming of my wedding."

Television Series: True Blood (S02E09- I Will Rise Up)
Release Date: August 2009
Actress: Anna Paquin
Video Clip Credit: Vidman
Video Detail: (XVID; 1280x720)
Read more on this article...

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Shameless S07E11

Lots of Shameless characters do their level best to live up to the title - and none more so than Karen, the sarcastic, saucy, lollipop-sucking Lolita of the sink council estate, whose growing pains have been punctuated by one shameless fling after another. Since the first series, the teen temptress followed in the footsteps of her nymphomaniac mother Sheila by sleeping her way around the council estate and even seducing her then boyfriend's dad, Frank Gallagher. But away from the infamous Jockey pub where she pulls pints for Frank and his chavtastic family, actress Rebecca Atkinson couldn't be more unlike her on-screen character if she tried.

For a start, Rebecca is actually four years older than her Chatsworth estate alter ego and is not to be confused with her creation, although people do - especially lads congregating around her while on location in Manchester. "Sometimes the general public, especially young boys, don't see the difference between myself and the character and they can be a little bit boisterous," she said. "They might heckle you a bit when you're in the street and things like that but it's part and parcel of the job. And once you talk to them they go 'Oh! You're quite different!' But that initial reaction can be a bit embarrassing at times."

It's hardly surprising that playing Karen provokes a reaction, yet those early sex scenes were a toe-curling torture for the young actress in her first major role since training as a dancer and landing small roles in Life On Mars, Heartbeat and Holby City. It is testament to her talent that Rebecca made it all look horribly convincing. Her biggest challenge was the scene where Frank innocently walks in on her as she lounges in the bath. He mumbles his apologies and tries to retreat, while brazen Karen flashes her boobs, coolly asks him to pass the towel and makes fun of his confusion. But this was fiction - the reality was very different.

"That was really quite difficult," she admits. "I had nothing on my top half and you just feel so vulnerable. It's just so embarrassing, with everybody being around you. It's overwhelming at first when the camera's on you and the crew are all around because Shameless was my first experience of doing anything like that. All the way through that scene I was so nervy and worried like mad about who was looking at me and what they were thinking of me.

"But David Threlfall, who plays Frank, is such a good teacher he did everything he could to put me at ease. And the producers make sure that when I'm doing anything in the nude we work on a closed set, and the crew all looked at the monitor and not me. Now it's much easier and I just get on with it. I've learned to switch into Karen's character, drop the dressing gown and do the scene, grab the gown as soon as it's over and become myself again. Karen being Karen makes it easier for me to play those scenes. She's got more front than Blackpool, so I probably hide behind the character a lot of the time."

Television Series: Shameless (S07E11)
Release Date: March 2010
Actress: Rebecca Atkinson
Video Clip Credit: Trailblazer
Read more on this article...

Copyright 2007 ID Media Inc, All Right Reserved. Crafted by Nurudin Jauhari