Tuesday, 30 June 2009


The third series of Torchwood, the Doctor Who spin-off, starts on BBC1 next week as the event miniseries Torchwood: Children of Earth. Five hour-long episodes – eight fewer than in the previous series, last year on BBC2 and before that on BBC3. Fans were stunned when this format choice was announced by the BBC, but as July 6th approaches with spoilers coming (http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/tv/a162535/ten-torchwood-teasers.html), hopes are as high as impatience.

But John Barrowman, who stars in Torchwood as Captain Jack Harkness accuses the Beeb of "punishing" the show: « The five episodes, the miniseries as I call it, are incredible – I have no doubt about that – but personally, I felt like we were being punished. Other shows move from BBC3 and 2 to 1, and they don't get cut. So why are we? It felt like every time we moved we had to prove ourselves » declares Barrowman to the Radio Times this week (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jun/30/doctor-who-torchwood-john-barrowman)

A BBC spokesman denied Torchwood was being "punished": « We wanted to create a powerful sense of event when the show came to BBC One and so talked with the show makers about a story that could run over five consecutive days » (http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/cult/a162764/barrowman-felt-punished-by-torchwood-cut.html). Bold move or lethal mistake? Is the miniseries format motivated by prestige programming or the realities of economics? Probably both but five episodes is not a shocking number in the UK for a television series, and sometimes shorter is better than the usual 22 practiced in the US (with half of the episodes useless). Torchwood: Children of Earth looks promising (http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/cult/a162087/how-good-is-the-new-torchwood-find-out.html) and the content of Torchwood seems less affected by matters external to the programme than Doctor Who and the contrived end of the RTD/David Tennant era.

« I'm going to get a little political and I'll probably get into trouble for it » says John Barrowman. Well, Captain Jack cannot die, can he?


See also: http://tattard2.blogspot.com/2009/02/doctor-who-writers-tale-bbc-books_18.html

Thursday, 25 June 2009


Shortly after the announcement of the acquisition of Deadline Hollywood Daily by MMC
http://tattard2.blogspot.com/2009/06/mmc-acquires-deadline-hollywood-daily.html) Nikki Finke is back in action again with style and a breaking story about NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker pledging changes aboard the NBC Uni ship. Changes concerning no one less than Nikki's favourite "Gift that keeps on giving", co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, Ben Silverman (http://www.deadlinehollywooddaily.com/exclusive-jeff-zucker-pledges-imminent-changes-and-implies-they-involve-ben-silverman/).

This comes with growing rumors that Anglophile extraordinary Ben Silverman (1) is going to leave NBC Universal to run ITV (http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118005268.html?categoryid=14&cs=1) as a replacement of the Brit network executive chairman Michael Grade - who will step down at the end of the year. In April The Guardian published a first list of potential candidates (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/apr/26/shareholders-itv-michael-grade-exit).

According to one of Nikki Finke's sources, the arrival of Silverman at ITV would depend on money but, as Nikki writes: « Of course, Ben may just be playing with everyone's heads. And, this being NBCU, Silverman could wind up with a Peter Principle-style promotion ». Talking about "Peters", Peter Fincham, ITV director of television, is very active at the moment (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jun/22/itv-autumn-season-advertisers-peter-fincham), and the network has given an encouraging first sign that ITV is focusing on a smaller but better drama lineup with the renewal of the prestigious Lewis TV series - right after the justified cancellation of its costly saturday franchise wannabe Primeval (2)

Internal promotion within NBCU? Or if the departure of Ben Silverman for the UK is confirmed, a top job at Elisabeth Murdoch's Shine Group (Shine bought Silverman's company, Reveille) would be another option but he affirms he's "committed" to NBC (3). This is the summer of Anglophilia at NBC for Silverman with the American launch of BBC's Merlin - the first British drama shown on a mainstream US network for more than 30 years (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jun/06/bbc-merlin-nbc-british-us-tv) - and the beginning of The Philanthropist. Starring James Purefoy and starting this week, this new drama is produced by British company Carnival Films (Poirot), bought last year by NBC Universal. But The Philanthropist « may be worst show ever », writes The Miami Herald (http://www.miamiherald.com/entertainment/story/1109772.html). Ouch!

Whatever. Keep refreshing this DHD story about the changes at NBC as Nikki has just wrote a second update and promises more.

(1) http://www.californiachronicle.com/articles/yb/131309964
(2) http://tattard2.blogspot.com/2009/06/have-faith-in-itv.html + http://tattard2.blogspot.com/2009/06/primeval-walking-with-dinosaurs.html
(3) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/17/business/media/17silver.html

Wednesday, 24 June 2009


Interesting pieces today from The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph, and no it's not another episode of the delightful continuing saga of MP's expenses - which makes the House of Cards trilogy looks like a Noddy story. 80-year-old Gerry Anderson, co-creator of the Thunderbirds puppet series classic (1965-1966) is eager to remake the show but cannot convince Michael Grade, executive chairman of ITV - owner of the series through ITV Global Entertainment (1), to let him acquire the rights of the programme (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/5617959/Thunderbirds-remake-hits-buffers-over-rights-wrangle.html).

Of course, the original Thunderbirds was about the adventures of an organisation called International Rescue created by ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy to help those in grave danger with advanced technology and spectacular futuristic vehicles called Thunderbirds. The machines were piloted by Tracy's sons and IR was sometimes assisted by British aristocratic secret agent Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward and her faithful manservant Parker. Parker was also the chauffeur of Penelope's six-wheeled gadgetized pink Rolls Royce.

The 32 50-minute episodes (or 64 25-minute) of Thunderbirds were produced by Gerry Anderson's company AP Films for ATV and distributed by Lew Grade's ITC Entertainment. At the peak of its popularity, the show spawn two feature films backed by United Artists (behind the 007 franchise at the time). Referenced, parodied or imitated a gazillion times, Thunderbirds is more than a classic, it's a part of British Heritage, like many series produced by Gerry Anderson. Unfortunately Anderson sold his shares of his titles many years ago at a time when commercial VHS or DVDs were beyond imagination.

« I'm not asking Grade to fund it - I can do that » says Gerry Anderson to the Daily Mail (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1195057/Thunderbirds-NOT-ITV-reject-relaunch-plan.html). « He's constantly saying ITV is in a terrible state with not enough commercials - but there would be a huge amount of advertising stimulated by Thunderbirds, and it's the perfect rival to Doctor Who on the BBC ». Anderson estimates it would cost £15 million for a new series in computer-generated imagery.

Since the cancellation of Space: 1999 (1975-1977), he has been able several times to raise funding for his projects thanks to different partnerships which lead to shows like Terrahawks (1983), the excellent but ignored Space Precinct (1994-1995) or Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet (2005) a very good CGI revival of his cult-classic Captain Scarlet and The Mysterons (1967) mistreated by ITV.

Gerry Anderson claims that ITV is in talks to remake Thunderbirds but without him. Actually a movie remake of UFO, another Anderson production, has been announced in Cannes by Hollywood mogul Robert Evans (http://tattard2.blogspot.com/2009/05/alien-stays-in-picture.html), so it is not unreasonable to believe that ITV Global Entertainment is searching the best way to create a new interest around other brands of the Anderson/ITC era. But the failure of the 2004 Working Title/Universal Spy Kids treatment of Thunderbirds (in which Gerry Anderson was not implicated) excludes a film project.

The state of British television weights on the perspective of a new Thunderbirds TV series, especially right after the cancellation of the costly Primeval (http://tattard2.blogspot.com/2009/06/primeval-walking-with-dinosaurs.html). The renewal of Lewis for a fourth series (http://tattard2.blogspot.com/2009/06/have-faith-in-itv.html) is the clear sign that ITV wishes to focus on a smaller but better fiction lineup because Lewis (Inspector Lewis in the US) is one of its most prestigious contemporary titles. And not on expensive Doctor Who wannabe franchises where the network must share the financial returns with other partners.

But economics and franchise management apart, Gerry Anderson deserves his Thunderbirds revival...

(1) http://www.int.granadamedia.com/sf/asp/content/content.asp?parent_id=1§ion_id=15

Tuesday, 23 June 2009


Great news: ITV has recommissioned prestigious detective drama Lewis, known as Inspector Lewis in the US, for a new series (http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/tv/a161616/itv-recommissions-lewis.html). This announcement comes after the justified cancellation of Primeval, whose lame third series kissed the shark (1).

Honestly, the news of a fourth series of Lewis, starring Kevin Whately and Lawrence Fox, is a relief after some interrogation about the show's future regarding its cost and the difficulties of ITV (http://www.brandrepublic.com/News/887661/ITV-cost-cuts-hit-drama-daytime-shows/). To cancel Lewis and renew Primeval would have been a terrible move for both the future of drama in the UK and the future of drama and series in general on ITV. Amongst series to be noticed this summer on ITV: series three of the wonderful Kingdom, starring Mr Stephen Fry, and one of the most hilarious situation comedies of the decade: Mumbai calling.

Created and produced by Allan McKeown, Mumbai calling stars Sanjeev Bhaskar (Goodness Gracious Me, The Kumars at N°42) as Kenny Gubta, a British Indian accountant born in Wembley and sent to Teknobable, a Mumbai call center, by his boss to make it more profitable. Kenny works with Dev Raja (the excellent Nitin Ganatra), who prefers chasing his female staff, and no-nonsense Teri Johnson (Daisy Beaumont), an assessor from London headquarters. The series, shown on ITV two years after the original pilot (2007), is entirely shot in India with a substantial cast of Indian actors.

The fast-paced dialogues and gags are pure joy: each episode opens with a joke around a situation between a client on phone and an employee of Teknobable (comedienne Tracey Ullman, Allan McKeown's wife, is one of the voices on phone), the trio hires a failed British stage actor (the great Richard E. Grant) as a coach but the man is xenophobic, Amar - Dev's assistant - loses self-confidence when his parents want to arrange his marriage, etc... Should ITV not commission another series of this gem they should do a movie from it.

(1) http://tattard2.blogspot.com/2009/06/primeval-walking-with-dinosaurs.html
(2) http://tattard2.blogspot.com/2009/03/tonight-kevin-whately-on-dementia-itv1.html

See also: http://tattard2.blogspot.com/2008/12/itv-winter-spring-season-bbc-or-bust.html


Mail.com Media Corporation (MMC), the owner of MovieLine.com, announced today its acquisition of Deadline Hollywood Daily (http://www.deadlinehollywooddaily.com/), the widely read blog of respected journalist Nikki Finke, a person particularly appreciated by your humble servant and often mentioned here.

Congratulations to Nikki and to MMC.



This one couldn't go unnoticed by your humble servant, former deputy editor of La Gazette du doublage - the most important website on French-speaking dubbing (http://www.objectif-cinema.com/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=0168). According to Variety (1) French comedian Alain Chabat (Napoleon in Night at the Museum 2) is to star in a Focus Features comedy called The Dubber.

In this movie, Chabat plays a man who provides the French dubbing voice of a top Hollywood star. When the A-lister goes missing, Chabat's character flies to the US to help find him. Versatile and talented actor/director Chabat is a huge star in France since his television days amongst the comedy team of Les Nuls -the French equivalent of Brit The Comic Strip or American SNL. His masterpiece as a director, Asterix & Obelix Mission Cleopatra (2002) can be compared to the work of Mel Brooks or to the ZAZ movies.

What is already fun with The Dubber is its title, which can be translated in French by "Le doubleur". Most of French dubbing artists are stage, cinema or television actors and they supremely hate to be called "doubleurs" ("dubbers"). In France each time you call a dubbing artist a "dubber" he will answer angrily: « Je ne suis pas doubleur je suis comédien! » Actually in France a "dubber" is the dubbing company but curiously Belgian or Quebecer dubbing artists don't mind to be called "doubleurs" and the term is used by many dubbing aficionados to qualify dubbing actors.

Alain Chabat is no stranger to dubbing as he's the French voice of Shrek. Curiously, the first voice of the green giant was not Chabat but Emmanuel Curtil, who usually dubs Mike Myers and who recorded the first Shrek before The Powers that be required a "Star talent", i.e. Alain Chabat - who can be heard in the movie.

We can suppose that the dubbing studio facilities of Dubbing Brothers, worldwide leader in the dubbing industry, will be used for the part of The Dubber shot in France.

(1) http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118005216.html?categoryId=13&cs=1

Saturday, 20 June 2009


Each year since 1999 when summer approaches, the creme de la creme of our youth, the elite of the future of the occidental world, flocks in masses to huge television soundstages. Soundstages transformed into Beverly Hills villas revisited by disciples of Zsa Zsa Gabor's personal designer. And us, O privileged ones, are invited to witness their most interesting and valuable moments, thanks to the legion of cameras dispatched around their chosen place of transhumance.


Like it or not, television producer John de Mol - the man who initiated the Endemol empire - changed television programming for ever when he launched Big Brother (the title comes of course from the novel by George Orwell) in 1999 on Dutch channel Veronica, with its daily observation through a myriad of cameras of a group of people isolated from the outside world. Sold in around 70 countries, the format is a global phenomenon.

Big Brother arrived in France during spring 2001 on private channel M6 (rival of France's leader network TF1), adapted under the title Loft Story and produced by a subsidiary of Endemol. The first edition of the programme generated a ton of articles and litterature as the first modern reality tv show of the History of French television. Loft story remains famous here for a certain scene in the swimming pool and as the epitome of vapidity on the small screen. To be perfectly honest, a French series called Voisin, Voisine raised vapidity as the ultimate form of Art a decade earlier but it is wrongfully seldom remembered.

After its second season the format of the French adaptation jumped to TF1 and underwent many variations and ups or downs before a true revival in 2007 as Secret Story, with French presenter Benjamin Castaldi (former presenter of Loft Story on M6) as its master of ceremony (1). On friday 8 June, three weeks after Big Brother UK (now in its tenth series), began the third season of the show.


Each housemate of the Secret Story house has as a secret - hence the title - worthing €10,000 (and they're not MPs) that he/she must hide to the others. When an housemate thinks he has discovered the secret of another, he must buzz and the two are confronted in the invisible presence of the mysterious La Voix ("The voice") - imagine the Mysteron voice with some sense of humour. The housemate whose secret is threatened must indicate some elements without giving out his/her secret, then the buzzer confirms or not his bet with a portion of his money whose amount is chosen indicated by La Voix (excepted if the buzz is "free"). The answer is given later in front of all the housemates, if the buzzer is right he wins the amount of money of the other, if he loses the "buzzed" wins the bet. Note that during the series, each housemate can win money with "missions" given by La Voix.

The "secrets" of this season are: one of the housemates is millionaire, one has been homeless, one is a virgin, one is bisexual, one has survived the 2004 tsunami, one has been wanted by Interpol, One has the IQ of Einstein, one has been the mistress of a Golden Ball footballer, one can channel Dalida (2), and one has been candidate for the city council of Marseille. But there are some twists: a "celeb" is undercover amongst the housemates... a "celeb"?! Calm down dear readers, the "celeb" is Rachel Legrain-Trapani (er, who?), Miss France 2007, and the Miss France beauty pageant is a property of Endemol, producer of the show. Anyway, the Miss disguises as a student named Rosa.

This is not the only twist: the four housemates arrived are in fact intrus ("intruders") and they live in La maison des intrus, an hidden house where they spy the official housemates. Other twist (no pun intended): one of the female housemates, Alicia, is in fact a cross-dresser named Didier, and his wife is also a housemate. Two female housemates from Lille are the "best worst enemies" and didn't know that they would meet again in the house. And another housemate arrives next week and has a secret in common with an other. Your humble servant needs a therapy now.


The casting of Secret Story 3 is as brilliant as a Peter Kay parody. Let's begin with the "Intruders": Romain, 33, future ex-hubby of former Playmate Shauna Sand! Angie , 32, model. "Assumed bimbo" with her two chihuahuas Gucci and Angel (« I don't know if the synthetic carpets are made to receive dog poos », candidly asks Benjamin Castaldi). The two arrived in electric cars on the theme of Beverly Hills, 90210. Léo, 20, self-proclamed villain. Kevin, 21. Quotes: « I know I'm handsome. I'm often told that » and « Image is primordial ».

Then came the "true" housemates: Sabrina, 19. Skater boy Bruno, 19. Cindy, 26, proud to be "sexy" (Quote: « Does it mean that we'll have to spleep together? »). Undercover Miss France Rachel Legrain-Trapani as "Rosa" (« You'll have to hide it as long as possible » says the presenter). Didier, 26, the fitness instructor who loves to cross-dress as Alicia, and his wife Elise, 25. Jonathan, 23, and his "Strategy of the Phoenix" (Beware, spirit of Sun Tzu!) Daniella, 22, medical receptionist born in Portugal. "Best worst enemy" duo from the north of France, Emilie (21) and Vanessa (21), arriving separately to discover in private that they are both in the show and that they'll have to act as best friends - problem: they're not method actresses.

Globe-trotter Maija, 29, from Vancouver, who lives in a R.V. François-Xavier, 20, amateur of equestrianism and unashamed fashionista (« Me? I find "Popular" really, really atrocious »). Elizabeth, 53, the "Fugitive" wanted by Interpol during two years. But no big deal, she just followed her hostage taker fiancé in 1975 - « It must be something linked to her age » says a charming intruder. And finally, Nicolas, 28, a belgian medium. Quotes: « It [his secret] can frighten, I've not many friends » and « My motto: to be vicious in order to win ».


Even Davina McCall couldn't save Big Brother UK series 10 from absolute boredom. Actually the fate of the British version has been sealed by Diversity, winner of BGT this year. The dance group reflects a more positive image of Brit youth than the noble 2009 housemates of the Elstree studios house (an involuntary impersonator of Nigel Havers in the Privilege Car Insurance advert, a Wolferine lookalike...) In France, TF1 and Endemol gamble high on a programme whose concept originated 10 years ago, and not only the future of the Big Brother franchise on the French territory. Because TF1 clearly finishes its annus horribilis with the end of the 2008-2009 season.

With recession the budget is meant to be reduced but curiously it doesn't show, as the sets of the Friday live show and of the Secret Story house are still huge and spectacular - compared to its French counterpart, Big Brother UK even looks cheaper! Presenter Benjamin Castaldi seems to enjoy his time and he is very supportive of the show. The Big Brother formula is definitely exhausted and nothing basically differs the 2009 French casting from the usual character figures of the global editions since 1999. But there's more twists and turns in Secret Story than in a French soap opera - in fact TF1 should ask Endemol the next time they'll try to launch a soap (3) - and there's La Voix, the voice, the true star of the show. Dominique Duforest, former radio host during the Golden age of FM and renowned television coach.

The opener of Secret Story 3 made an excellent start vs Pékin Express (the French version of The Amazing Race) on M6. One out of two French citizens will not go on holidays this summer (because of credit crunch), will it help the show? Do we really want to watch the fine fleur of our population under the scrutiny of the BB cameras during these hard times of recession? In the History of Reality tv there's a before and an after Susan Boyle, perhaps "voices" could buy the genre one or two more seasons. What's next for Big Brother or Secret Story? Big Brother's got talent? A Clue Big Brother with housemates investigating a murder mystery? Time for bed, said Zebedee.


(1) Son of an incredible French actor named Jean-Pierre Castaldi, the man who pushes Roger Moore out of the jet plane in Moonraker (1979).
(2) 1933-1987. Singer born in Egypt, huge star in France.
(3) http://tattard2.blogspot.com/2009/03/seconde-chance-road-to-eldorado.html

Thursday, 18 June 2009


And I've seen it before, Desdemona... In a world where Simon Cowell is king, I guess it was inevitable but this is not an excuse: here comes the "reinvention" of Fame, from the musical classic directed in 1980 by Alan Parker and followed by The Kids from Fame - the cult television series (1982-1987). In 2003, an ill-fated attempt morphed Fame into a reality tv programme produced for NBC by legendary choreographer, actress and director Debbie Allen (who played Lydia in the original movie and in the subsequent tv spin-off).

I read that Cowell, producer of The X Factor and of the Got Talent franchise, is in talks to remake Saturday Night Fever (http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/movies/a158989/cowell-to-remake-saturday-night-fever.html). Why couldn't he, after all? Lost owes a lot to reality tv, is the genre now jumping from the small to the big screen after having influenced television fiction? As long they don't do Big Brother - The Movie, with Keira Knightley as Davina McCall and Hugh Jackman as Marcus... Seriously, I'm curious to see if the reception of Fame 2009 will have an impact in some way or another on Glee, the upcoming Fox show.

P.S.: I did not mention Fame LA? Really? Oh, by the way. Thank you, Nikki.


Wednesday, 17 June 2009


Sir Roger Moore gives his support to a campaign called Know Your Pulse - linked to this year's Arrhythmia Awareness Week (8-14 June). This campaign is encouraging the public to learn how to take their pulse on a regular basis, as it is one of the most effective ways of identifying a potential cardiac arrhythmia.

A cardiac arrhythmia is caused by a heartbeat that is too fast, too slow, or irregular. Sir Roger Moore, having experienced such a problem himself in 2003, has joined forces with Arrhythmia Alliance (http://www.heartrhythmcharity.org.uk/) to help raise awareness of cardiac arrhythmia with this video where he demonstrates how to take your pulse:


See also:

http://thierryattard.blogspot.com/2008/12/les-memoires-de-roger-moore-amicalement.html + http://thierryattard.blogspot.com/2008/12/les-memoires-de-roger-moore-amicalement_12.html (My Word is my Bond - review in French)

Monday, 15 June 2009


It will be absolutely not a surprise for the readers of this blog: Primeval, co-produced by Impossible Pictures and ProSieben, has been officially axed by ITV (1) after weeks of speculation over the future of the show during the run of the third series, and plans to share the cost of Primeval with another broadcaster (2).

According to The Guardian, Impossible Pictures has presented to ITV a proposal that could have seen the fourth series of the Saturday evening drama premiere on a digital channel before airing on ITV1 later. It was understood that the Sci-Fi channel was being eyed as a potential home for the show. Regarding the price tag of the show and the fact that many British fans resented the advanced run of the third series in Spain and Germany, ITV's decision is widely justified. Recently, on the excellent blog of screenwriter, producer and author Lee Goldberg, your humble servant pointed out this situation as a "collateral damage" when you must find a foreign partner (http://leegoldberg.typepad.com/a_writers_life/2009/06/hat-in-hand.html#comments). And ITV must face the same difficulties with the remake of The Prisoner - as the miniseries will be shown first on US cable channel AMC.

Relatively honest ratings of the third series (thanks to the combo with other programmes of the evening) could not ease the reality that ITV has been looking to cut costs on a range of its shows following the slashing of its programme budget because of declining advertising revenues. Add to this the perspective to see one of its most expensive programmes "cremated" by a first-run on another English-speaking channel. Even a movie project by Warner Brothers and a possible US spin-off series could not save Primeval.

And above all, provided it matters compared to the notions of "franchise" or "balance sheet", the third series kissed the shark with the enthusiasm of Captain Jack Harkness on a friday evening. The weaknesses of series 3 killed all the interest for a once entertaining, clever and spectacular show: the departures of lead Douglas Henshall (Nick Cutter) - replaced by Jason Flemyng as Danny Quinn, and of Lucy Brown (Jenny Lewis) in a terrible transition, the non-resolution of essential plot elements developed through the first two series, the chracter played by Laila Rouass, dumb stories (the megalo croc, the knight, etc...), the death of Helen Cutter, the finale and the cliffhanger.

Why O why make the only valuable challenger to the Doctor Who franchise a digital equivalent of Animals do the funniest things with Ben Miller as Stephen Mulhern? Cost reduction policy? The cemeteries of the History of Television are full of ruined cult shows, Primeval now rejoins Space: 1999 (1975-1977) or Bugs (1995). By the way, I've always thought that the main problem of Bugs - produced by Carnival Films (Poirot) - was that it was a BBC show with the spirit of an ITV programme. Which is ironic as the distributor of Primeval is BBC Worldwide.

Too bad for Primeval. Now Series five of Doctor Who has to be bloody good, believe me.

(1) http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jun/15/primeval-itv-cancelled
(2) http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/may/27/itv-primeval-impossible-pictures

See also:



It's been a hard weekend for Eddie Murphy. His new movie, Imagine That [Paramount] opened with only $5,7 million (http://www.deadlinehollywooddaily.com/hangover-is-1-holdover-with-10m-friday32m-wkd-pelham-close-2-with-9m24m/). It is #6 behind Land of the Lost (with Will Ferrell), Night at the Museum 2, the remake of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta, Up, and The Hangover - whose French title is Very Bad Trip, which is an implicit acknowledgement of the presence of Very Bad Things somewhere in the movie's DNA.

« Why studios still cast Eddie Murphy as the lead in a live action film is beyond me, even if it's a family film » writes Nikki Finke in Deadline Hollywood Daily. « Worse, it's now a trend that Eddie's movies can't open to more than a $6M weekend. (Remember last summer's other Eddie bomb Meet Dave?) » she adds.

Well, your humble servant is certainly not a Box office expert but the Shrek franchise apart I read on imdb that two years ago Norbit [Paramount] - Murphy's antepenultimate non-Shrek film - opened with $34,195,434 for an estimated budget of $60,000,000. On the other hand, yes, Meet Dave [Fox] opened in July 2008 with $5,251,918 for the same estimated budget of $60,000,000. Worldwide (Domestic + Foreign) the movie got $50,650,079 (http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=main&id=meetdave.htm).

So is there a "Curse of Pluto Nash"? From the infamous The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Eddie Murphy's 2002 deserved bomb? Murphy is number 4 on Forbes' list of Hollywood's Top-Earning actors for 2008 (http://www.forbes.com/2009/06/09/movies-sandler-depp-business-media-hollywood.html). Call that an effect of "Donkey business" if you wish but, to a commenter of DHD who asked « Why do they keep paying Eddie Murphy $20 million when his movies are bombing? », another answers wisely that « Video and the other secondary and tertiary markets are where most movies make their dough ».

This commenter is absolutely right: movie theaters is the window of the cinema industry, it is what Haute Couture is to the business of clothes. Kids of the 21st century adore Eddie Murphy and they watch him on DVD or television. My nephews keep asking me if I've watched Meet Dave... Not yet but I've seen this masterpiece called Coming to America (1988) for the 150th time last evening. I've not seen Norbit (definitely not my kind of humour) either and I believe that the Shrek franchise should have stopped with Shrek 2. But from what I've seen in the trailer, Imagine That looks like an enjoyable family movie.

Bad marketing? Does the studios prefer to invest the minimum on the promotion of Murphy's movies? Bad weekend for another Night at the museum wannabe? The remake of the The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (with Washington in another Inside Man job) opened with $25,000,000 for an estimated budget of $100 million. It's a fact that US movies heavily rely on foreign markets these days. According to Nikki Finke Sony now must depend on strong overseas sales for Pelham.

Imagine that arrives in France on September 30 with a great French title (Dans ses rêves/In her dreams), which is appreciable as so many American movies keep their titles untranslated in France. Without any doubt, Eddie Murphy's career here owes a lot to his main French dubbing voice: Mauritanian director, actor and dubbing artist Med Hondo.

Saturday, 13 June 2009


Dear nice and fragrant readers - as our Canadian friend Furious D (http://dknowsall.blogspot.com/) would say, I cannot resist to attract your attention on this clip from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (http://www.thedailyshow.com/index.jhtml), on Comedy Central, in which Jason Jones visits the offices of The New York Times. « ...to find out why the last of a dying breed prefers aged news to real news ».

Cruel but relevant. By the way, there were no newspapers in France today because of a strike. Let me add that I've discovered this in the "Global Edition" of the show, shown in France on Canal Plus every saturday morning. And I wonder if Nikki Finke has seen this sequence...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
End Times
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorNewt Gingrich Unedited Interview

Tuesday, 9 June 2009


US comedian Jimmy Fallon, host of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on NBC, has his own personal crusade, his "unreachable star": he wants a reunion of Saved by the bell, the iconic teenage sitcom shown on NBC between 1989 and 1993. The show starred Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Dustin Diamond, Lark Voorhies, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Elizabeth Berkley, Mario Lopez, and Dennis Haskins.

Jimmy Fallon's star is not so unreachable... Berkeley, Lopez, Haskins and Voorhies have already accepted, and last night Mark-Paul Gosselaar has been interviewed by Fallon as Zack Morris - his character in SBTB - in a very funny sequence (1).

From this side of the ocean the glorious quest of Jimmy Fallon immediately evokes the Bring Back... documentary series from British comedian, presenter and talk show host Justin Lee Collins for Channel 4. Since 2005, Pop Culture erudite Collins tries to contact people from TV, music or cinema for his programme. The Bring Back... specials are real treats for fans of the concerned tv shows, singers or films because Justin Lee Collins shows a sincere respect towards the artists he wants to reunite for some moving and funny moments. The A-Team, Dallas, The Kids from Fame or Star Trek are some of the gems of his Bring Back... show.

Thanks to Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily for mentioning Gosselaar's appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (http://www.deadlinehollywooddaily.com/give-it-a-rest-jimmy-fallon/). It seems that Nikki Finke can't get the "cult power" of Saved by the Bell (laughs) and that some commenters want to exile her to Ecuador. Personally I'd love to watch a Saved by the Bell reunion, and I find the words of one of Nikki's commenters very interesting: « This could be a regular for Fallon, once he has achieved Saved by the Bell cast he can move on to another show. Sounds like a great way to improve his ratings over the long haul and bring old fans to his show » (http://www.deadlinehollywooddaily.com/give-it-a-rest-jimmy-fallon/#comment-258214).

Besides the Saved by the Bell stunt I must admit this came across my mind, too...

P.S.: Mark-Paul Gosselaar can act, Nikki. Get some DVDs of NYPD Blue.

Update (June 10): After the new 90210 and the upcoming Melrose Place (which looks like a Big Brother episode with Laura Leighton as Davina McCall), is the world really ready for a revival of the Saved by the Bell format with clones of the High School Musical cast and the original team of actors as the teachers? My name is Sam Tyler, my TV set had an accident and we woke up in the nineties...

(1) http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/popvox/archive/2009/06/09/who-will-be-the-last-saved-by-the-bell-star-to-commit-to-fallon.aspx


And I've seen it before. And I'll see it again, blah, blah, blah... So 20th Century Fox is preparing a movie remake of The A-Team (1983-1987), perhaps the most beloved US tv show of the eighties. « The plan is coming together », writes Lee Goldberg (1) - in reference to the catch phrase of the main character. Hope it's not Plan 9, at least...


« In 1972 a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. » Still wanted by the military, the men operate as private troubleshooters for those in need.

John "Hannibal" Smith is the leader of The A-Team and his resident master of disguises. His day job is extra in monster movies (where he tries to inject a little Stanislavski in his creature roles!) Templeton "Faceman" Peck is a con artist and the fixer of the team. Afro-american strongman B.A. (Bad Attitude) Baracus is the mechanic genius but refuses to get on a plane and has to be drugged to be transported on board! And H.M. (Howling Mad) Murdock can pilot everything provided it flies... but he is a certified lunatic and has to be regularly released of the psychiatric ward of a Veteran hospital thanks to Faceman.

The original series, created by Stephen J. Cannell and Frank Lupo, is the epitome of the light action/adventure shows of the eighties with spectacular cartoonesque explosions and stunt sequences (the trademark of legendary stunt coordinator Craig R. Baxley), THAT music of magical duo Mike Post and Pete Carpenter, and a great cast. George Peppard, who almost missed his rendez-vous with Pop culture History after being replaced by John Forsythe on the pilot of Dynasty (1981), as Hannibal. Dirk Benedict (the original Battlestar Galactica) as Faceman, Dwight Schultz as Murdock and one of the two God figures of this golden era of American television (the other is of course David "The Hoff" Hasselhoff): Mr. T, as Baracus.

And now we learn that Liam Neeson is in talks to play Hannibal in the movie remake (http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118004693.html?categoryid=10&cs=1&nid=2248). No disrespect but, hey, Liam Neeson?! Bruce Willis would be more suitable. Bradley Cooper should play Faceman Peck and they are still searching for a Murdock and a Baracus (tip to the producers for Baracus: Mr. T!) Joe Carnahan (Narc) will direct the film and according to Variety, they have kept the concept « but they've replaced the campy nature of the series with a tone closer to those of "Mission: Impossible" and "Ocean's Eleven" ». Allow me to do my Simon Cowell and buzz here: the "campy nature" was the salt of The A-Team, it was all Looney Tunes or Hanna Barbera with in-the-flesh actors, The Fantastic Four as a typical Universal Television fare of the time. Not Leverage.


Actually the only person who could helm a proper remake/revival of The A-Team (after Mr Stephen J. Cannell himself) is American director, writer and actor Brent Huff. Brent who? BRENT HUFF (http://www.brenthuffdirector.com/). While Hollywoodland is often producing franchises like GMC produced 4X4 there are still Hollywood directors who make movies. Huff is known in some circles for his role in a French movie called Gwendoline (1984) and the man has been classy and kind enough to mention this film in an email to your humble servant, which I appreciated (both the email and the mention). And his second movie as a director, The Bad Pack (1997), is a nice tribute to The A-Team.

Mexican immigrants of a Texas border town are harassed by members of a ruthless local militia group. The Mexicans send two brothers in search of a man named McQue, a former government operative and mercenary turned motorcycle mechanic, for his hired assistance. The brothers and a fast-talking black entrepreneur convince McQue to take the job and the soldier of fortune reunites a team of specialists. The Magnificent Seven, anyone? Keep in mind that the premise from the pilot of The A-Team was pure Magnificent Seven. There's a lunatic character escaping from a mental ward and even a van in one scene, and the cast is a dream for every aficionado of character actors: Robert Davi as McQue, Marshall Teague as the villain, Bert Rosario - a familiar face of US television for more than 30 years (2), Vernon Wells... Add wrestling legends Roddy Piper and Jeep Swenson, plus Ralph Moeller and Sven-Ole Thorsen. Poetry for lovers of good B movies.

Why do we call them "B movies", anyway? Because they have no giant talking robots? Because A-List actors would not play in them? As I wrote last year in a comment on Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily I hate the notion of “D-list actors”. Some so-called “D-list actors” are better actors than “A-List” stars (http://www.deadlinehollywooddaily.com/d-list-actors-diss-al-franken-for-senate/). The comment was in defence of... Robert Davi. Within the limits of its genre, its category and its budget, The Bad Pack is an entertaining and fun movie. A modern western, an elegant tribute to The A-Team and in some respects a nice trip to Memory Lane with nods to comic books or to the style of US television series of the 1970s or 1980s.

Brent Huff wrote me that one of his recent movies, Cat City, has been sold to a French television channel. Rebecca Pidgeon, Brian Dennehy and Julian Sands star in it and the movie is currently making the festival circuit. I'm looking forward to watch it.

(1) http://leegoldberg.typepad.com/a_writers_life/2009/06/the-plan-is-coming-together.html
(2) My favourites in his magnificent resume: Sword of Justice (1978-1979) and The 100 Lives of Black Savage (1991) - both fondly remembered in France.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009


Now on the website of US cable station AMC, a teaser of The Prisoner miniseries (http://blogs.amctv.com/the-prisoner/2009/05/video-the-prisoner-trailer-1.php) starring Jim Caviezel as Number Six and Sir Ian McKellen as Number Two. Co-producer AMC is due to show this remake of the cult classic ITC series starring Patrick McGoohan before ITV, in November 2009.

Not much to see actually: Number Two aboard a bus in the desert... Since Planet of the Dead (the Doctor Who special of last Easter), buses in deserts should be banished of scripts forever -like clones. We see also Jim Caviezel and glimpses of a Disneyland meets Meadowlands Village. Talking about Meadowlands (Cape Wrath in the US), David Morrissey would have been a wonderful Number Six. Add this to that missed opportunity called The Next Doctor.