News, scoops, reviews and more from TV land.
It appears that despite dire predictions, sad tales of decline, and predictions that the sky is falling (because of time-shifting)...people are still watching TV. The start of the 2014 season on Monday night was a boffo one, especially for "The Big Bang Theory," seen by nearly 18 million viewers.
In addtiion, Fox newcomer "Gotham" had an excellent start too, with eight million total viewers, and a 3.2 rating among young adults. That may well have even exceeded Fox's own internal predictions.
As expected, "Dancing with the Stars" and "The Voice" took hits opposite "BBT" at eight, but nothing to be hugely concerned about at their respective networks: "DWTS," which began the season soft anyway, was seen by 12 million viewers - way off from last season. "Voice" was seen by 12.7 million, but had a very good 3.9 rating among young adults. (So yes, "DWTS" was officially in fourth place among younger viewers, but then "younger viewers" don't really watch this all that much anyway.) Meanwhile, CBS newcomer "Scorpion" opened strong (14 million) thanks to the lead-in, while "Sleepy Hollow" had a reasonable start. (5.5 million.)
How did ABC's "Forever" fare? Not bad either (8.3 million) despite a more-than-solid open for "The Blacklist" (12.3 million, meaning it held on to virtually its entire "Voice" lead-in.)
All in all, a very good night for network TV...
“NCIS: New Orleans,” the second spinoff of the CBS monster hit, arrives Tuesday night, with two particularly fine and seasoned actors — Scott Bakula and CCH Pounder. I’ve been a fan of their work for years — as probably you have as well — but I want to use Tuesday's launch as an occasion to throw a spotlight on Pounder.
Wrapping a run on “Sons of Anarchy,” Pounder — the CCH stands for Carol Christine Hilaria, but you may call her CC — is one of the most accomplished television actors of her generation; she is 61. She created memorable roles on “The Shield,” “Warehouse 13,” “Justice League,” “Brothers,” and “ER” -- and a few dozen movies in between. Her career was essentially launched by “All That Jazz.” There have been a few Emmy nods, still no wins. (Another egregious Emmy oversight.)
She’ll play Dr. Loretta Wade, a coroner in the New Orlean’s medical examiner's office, and I think we can all agree that unless audiences are officially sated by “NCIS,” this is one of those gigs that can last a career. (David McCallum, another TV classic, has a 258-episodes-and-counting run on the mother show.)
Pounder’s a remarkable lady. As an artist, she has an installation piece at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles for a show that opens later this month. She is also an AIDS activist, humanitarian, a mother, and — oh yes, almost forgot — allied with one of the most successful films in movie history: “Avatar.” She played Mo’at, and yes, she will reprise the role for the sequel, she told me.
We had a quick chat Monday.
What happens to your “Sons of Anarchy” arc (she plays cop Tyne Patterson)?
“They came to me, after ‘NCIS’ and it was suddenly, oh my God ... the difficulty was probably season six. I came in to finish the job [in 7] but probably at that time they didn't know there was a season seven. That may have been how it went. I was going like gangbusters to get this young man [Jax] and suddenly they had another season. But I’ve already moved on [to NCIS.]”
“NCIS’ is pretty much a job for life — how did that come about?
“It was pretty scary. I just felt that where my career was going ... had been a fairly edgy person from cable, I’d been in cable almost 18 years and, especially on those two shows, ‘The Shield’ and ‘Warehouse 13.’ had been racking up tough and edgy people. How do you take that type of person into a network show and make it different enough for network TV and not frighten people away? I thought it was a good challenge.
And how will that be translated into the coroner's gig — the same one McCallum has on “NCIS?"
“I’m a younger version than McCallum, and if we’re in a town that allows people to give them the illusion that you are allowed to do whatever the hell you want, how would that translate with someone who works with dead bodies all the time? What’s the [emotional] outlet? [After seeing what she called a “joie de vivre” among workers at the LA County coroner’s morgue] I thought this makes no sense to me at all and then I realized that if you are working with that kind of reality then the rest of your life would be enhanced by knowing what the alternative is — a sort of 'I’m going for the brass ring with gusto' sets in. I wanted to do that with Loretta.
There’s another seasoned pro you are working alongside -- Scott Bakula. Have you worked together before?
“Yes, ‘Quantum Leap.' [In an episode — mega TV trivia alert! -- “Black on White on Fire” on Aug. 11, 1965” which aired in 1990.] He still remembered. I still remembered. I have known his work, and loved what he did with Ray Romano and Andre Braugher [“Men of a Certain Age.”] and really loved the Liberace movie ['Beneath the Candelabara.'] I think he’s been as buried as I have been in some ways and not made himself into a specific [screen] personality [but] I finally understood what leading men really meant in a TV series and I thought, 'OK, [Bakula], that’s what they are.’ ”
I think of acting for you as a means to an end — the end being mostly charitable work. True?
“That is spot on. I think that has to do with the beginning of my career, when I looked at the situation and I realized that the actor I thought I was in my head was another actor altogether. Just the constraints of American life, of how we see each other, skin, looks, height, hair, all those things, and the amazing actress that was in my head was not the person in reality. So the person in reality got work and I used that to funnel all the other things I wanted to do. I wanted to help correct, help enhance educational opportunities for young people.”
You were raised in British Guyana on a sugar plantation?
“My father was the first black to run a sugar plantation in British Guyana. It was on the Demerara River [in eastern Guyana] of what was then known as British Guyana, which is known more for Jim Jones. ... I grew up in England ... came here when I was 20. I was in college in England then I decided I wanted to be an American actor while looking at British television and realizing there wasn’t room for me [there.] My father [her parents are Betsy Enid James Arnella and Ronald Urlington Pounder] went to Cornell [and CC went to neighboring Ithaca College] where they just happened to have” a theater program.
Is your Artists for a New South Africa (an AIDS support group) still going?
“We’re almost at the tail end of it [but I am] now working with the African Millenium Foundation which takes care of orphans. It’s a much much smaller charity, but a little more hands on, and I’ve turned my focus to children, and taken care of AIDS orphans. There are 7,000 orphans in Mozambique, and I took on eight in one family. I’ve taken care of the family for six years [and] help others form artificial families [there]. I’m told that in Africa, that between AIDS [and wars] the population of orphans is the fastest growing community. In Mozambique, this one little area, 7,000, [and] they live on dung heaps
What’s your outlook on life in general?
“That I’m incredibly privileged and lucky to be married to an extraordinary man [Senegalese anthropologist Boubacar Kone] and when I finish work and go to such a different environment, that’s what helps me feel very level about my needs ... I get on a coach flight to Africa, get off the plane and don’t have to drive ten feet to appreciate the fact that it’s a very different world I live in. That’s probably the best way to describe me -- that my feet are fully planted on the ground.”
Kenan Thompson -- king of "Saturday Night Live" if royalty is measured in terms of seasons (eleven and counting) -- is leaving the show at the end of next season, according to a report on TMZ that suddenly got quite a few people's attention.
Except..he's not. Or nothing has been decided. Or, to be precise: NBC is denying the report.
SNL's top spokesperson just told me via email: "This...Read more »
"The Blacklist," the most successful new drama across all four major broadcast networks last season, returns Monday to a second season and lots of questions. Can the momentum continue? (Yes.) Will the show even add more viewers/fans this season? (Yes, and yes, especially after the Super Bowl next year, which it will follow.) Will the brief hiatus -- "The Blacklist" will go off the schedule this...Read more »
Of all the fall 2014 season moves -- dozens -- this may be the one that has the greatest chance of changing commercial network viewing habits, expressed in four little words: "The," "big," "bang," and "theory."
Yes, fans, "The Big Bang Theory," TV's most popular comedy, has a new night and time (Monday, 8), and suddenly television faces a significant re-ordering of the apple cart. "Bang" will...Read more »
Polly Bergen, an incandescent talent of stage, screen and television, has died. Reports say she was 84 and had been living at her home in Southbury, Connecticut. Natural causes were cited.
While she began as a popular singer, became a studio contract player, worked alongside Martin and Lewis in a few films, and had considerable success on Broadway over a few decades -- including "Love Letters,"...Read more »
E! says the show will go on: "Fashion Police" will return in 2015. Meanwhile, the series Friday will celebrate the one woman who so commandingly dominated this show — and in the process wrote another chapter in a long career full of new chapters, left turns, right turns and any other metaphor you can think of that designates "reinvention." Yes, Joan Rivers reinvented often, and "Fashion Police"...Read more »
Billy Crystal -- who gave a reasonably perfect tribute to his friend Robin Wiliams during the 66th Annual Primetime Emmys telecast -- spoke Thursday to Jimmy Fallon during "The Tonight Show" about his own feelings during and before the speech.
Among them: "I was afraid I wasn't going to get through it ..." In this clip, he and Fallon share memories of a bus trip to Washington, and Williams' comment to him during a speech by a former presidential candidate. (It's all very funny, but some of the language here is a little blue -- a warning to those who might be offended.) Readers on mobile devices can find the clip here: http://www.hulu.com/watch/689092
Just eight episodes long and two episodes in, “Boardwalk Empire” has already made a compelling case for another Best Drama nod for this, its fifth and final season. Sunday's third episode — “What Jesus Said” — continues to make the case, only less slightly. All in all, this remains a particularly fine season so far.
Quickly, an overview without spoilers: Chalky (Michael K. Williams)...Read more »
Darrell Hammond, the veteran "Saturday Night Live" cast member whose world famous impressions have ranged from Donald Trump to Bill Clinton, will soon fill one of TV's most iconic roles — as the man who will replace Don Pardo.
The news broke earlier Thursday morning, on USA Today's website, and "The Today Show" just confirmed the appointment. Hammond, 58, will become the voice of "SNL" when the new season begins — a job that essentially means the recitation of cast members' names at the show's open, along with various other in-show announcements throughout. Pardo, who died recently at the age of 96, held the job of announcer for 39 seasons; the baton, so to speak, will be handed to Hammond for the 40th which begins Sept. 27.
Hammond's appointment was certainly expected — he's almost literally part of the set at Studio 8H: A nearly continual presence there for many years, and where he set the record for the longest tenure of any repertory player (14 seasons) when he left at the end of the 34th season. Hammond, arguably, was the best-known cast member of the '90s.