Friday, 30 October 2009


Loyal readers of this blog know how much we appreciate Stephen Tobolowsky both as an actor and as an individual.

Stephen Tobolowsky is one of the most brilliant and interesting American actors. He's one of these consumed professional actors who give sense to a movie or to the episode of a TV series episode with his single presence at the service of a character, a script and a director. Not to mention the fact that only his name could make your humble servant watch two episodes of Heroes (only two, sorry).

Every movie buff should see Stephen Tobolowsky's Birthday Party, Robert Brinkmann's wonderful 2005 film ( In STBP, Stephen (in real life I can't call him Stephen, I keep calling him "Sir" - I can't call a legend by his first name) invites the viewers at his home to listen him telling stories about his life and his career.

Stephen Tobolowsky knows how to tell a story. When he begins, Mark Twain, O. Henry, Woody Allen, Roald Dahl and all the Gods of wittiness do surf on his voice. When you listen to him, even the worst salade nicoise can taste like caviar (believe me). In The Tobolowsky Files, a new podcast series from /Film, the great Stephen Tobolowsky tells stories about life, love, and the Entertainment industry. And in the very first episode, he recalls anecdotes about Halloweens past, along with their attendant sexiness, fun, humiliation, and danger.

Just enjoy.

See also:


Return of the Living Dead... Oh, sorry... Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars will be shown Sunday, November 15 on BBC One (1) .

Our French-speaking readers can note that the French language dubbing sessions of The Next Doctor and Planet of the Dead will take place in Brussels next week.


Wednesday, 28 October 2009


The Uh-Oh season, officially opened with the departure of FlashForward's co-showrunner/executive producer Marc Guggenheim, continues with another hyped entry from ABC: the 2009 reboot of V - the classic alien invasion miniseries by Kenneth Johnson.

According to The Live Feed, a blog of The Hollywood Reporter, the network cancels its ambitious plan to cover the skies of 15 major American cities with giant red "V"s to promote the debut of V on November 3 ( After the announcement of the PR stunt, Lisa de Moraes wrote a column in the Washington Post where she estimated the impact of the operation on the environment (1).

Honestly, why should we care of the environment when lizards are [Major Spoiler Alert for our readers under 40] going to eat us all anyway. Last month came the news that the new V will go on hiatus after only four episodes ( Now this.

But to be perfectly fair with ABC and the people in charge of the promotion of the show, note that the network made the first eight minutes of the pilot available ( This pilot and the first episode are directed by the respectable Quebecois director Yves Simoneau, who directed the pilot of The 4400 in 2004 for the same producer, and the excellent thriller Blind Trust (Pouvoir intime, 1986) (2).

At least we know what caused all that chaos in the Flashforward pilot: the giant face of the charming Morena Baccarin smiling on the huge flying screen of the mothership.

See also:


Thursday, 22 October 2009


According to The Hollywood Reporter, Media Rights Capital and David Fincher (Fight Club, The Curious case of Benjamin Button) are developing a US weekly version of House of Cards (1) - the iconic BBC political thriller miniseries adapted from the 1989 novel by Michael Dobbs.

House of Cards (1990) starred the great Ian Richardson as Francis Urquhart (initials FU - Dobbs wrote that the concept of his book came from that!) a modern Richard III practicing his total lack of conscience and his consumed art of manipulation as the Chief Whip of the Conservative Party, destroying careers and lives on his way to 10 Downing Street. Urquhart died at the end of the book, but BBC had other plans and Dobbs brought him back in two other novels, To Play the King (1992) and The Final Cut (1994) - respectively adapted with Ian Richardson in 1993 and 1995.

The House of Cards trilogy is considered as one of the greatest British television programmes ever and had even echoes in the real British political life. Francis Urquhart and his catch phrase « You might very well think that. I couldn't possibly comment » are part of the national Popular culture in the UK. On a personal level the novels rank among your humble servant's favourite books and I'm a huge fan of the television trilogy (actually I even tried to help a little to get a DVD release in France).

House of Cards and its sequels are intrinsically British, written by a former insider of the British Conservative Party, describing with brilliance (in both the books and the adaptations) the British political system. Now another British television classic gets the stateside treatment, as if Life on Mars US was not the last straw. Remember the American movie adaptation of State of Play, a BBC miniseries influenced by the legacy of House of Cards... Try to remember.

We all knew a US version was inevitable (NBC is remaking Prime Suspect - Good luck!) but in some respects the only proper US nod to Francis Urquhart is Profit, the short-lived 1996 series shown on Fox and starring Adrian Pasdar as Jim Profit, the ultimate corporate sociopath. Just revive Profit and send him to Capitol Hill (2).

Me not liking the idea of an American remake of House of Cards? You might very well think that but I couldn't possibly comment.

(2) Anyway, sooner or later and with or without Pasdar, Profit will be back. Tom Hardy would be fantastic.

See also:


[17.54 -French Time] Protesters against British National Party breach security and enter BBC Television Centre (West London) in the wake of BNP leader Nick Griffin appearance on Question Time, the famous political programme, tonight on BBC One.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


[6.51 - French Time] « It's just that I've seen the future and boy it's rough » (Prince)

Uh-Oh. According to Ain't It Cool News, FlashForward co-showrunner/executive producer Marc Guggenheim leaves ABC’s sci-fi drama - a show widely overhyped as the new Lost.

« Evidence suggests network executives were unhappy with the quality of the show's post-pilot storytelling » writes AICN ( Does anybody measure the meaning of this sentence if it is truly the feeling of ABC? Last month I wrote: « I hope the writers of FlashForward know where they're going... for their future viewers, I mean. The problem with these "serialized" shows is that they seem to be written during shooting ».

Nuff said.

See also:

Tuesday, 20 October 2009


Scottish legendary actor Robbie Coltrane is back on ITV in the ambitious Murderland, a three-part thriller written by David Pirie (Murder Rooms).

The young generation know him as Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter franchise but for the others he's far more. A great comedian, one of the most brilliant UK actors and his resume is a piece of British Pop culture: The Comic Strip Presents (1982-1985), Alfresco (1983-1984 - with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie), Tutti Frutti (1987), two Bond movies as Valentin Zukovsky and, of course, Cracker (1993-1996).

In Cracker, created by Jimmy McGovern, Robbie Coltrane was the abrasive drinking and gambling police psychologist Eddie "Fitz" Fitzgerald. The show lasted three seasons plus one special (White Ghost) in 1996 and a one-off return in 2006. And now Coltrane is back in an ITV crime drama, thanks to a change in the Harry Potter shooting schedule.

Produced by Touchpaper Scotland and directed by Catherine Morshead (Viva Blackpool, Ashes to Ashes) Murderland tells the story of a murder through the eyes of three central characters: Carrie (Bel Powley) the daughter of the murdered woman, Douglas Hain (Robbie Coltrane), the detective in charge of the investigation, and Sally the murder victim (Lucy Cohu).

Still haunted by her mother’s murder, the adult Carrie (Amanda Hale) cannot move on from the terrible unexplained events that occurred when she was a child and needs to uncover the truth. Her determination leads her to the conclusion that only one man can help her, and this man is Douglas Hain.

Bringing back the versatile Robbie Coltrane to television drama is a nice coup and has all of the safe bet for ITV. British crime dramas do well on domestic market, sell good abroad (we can suppose more than Kingdom) and Coltrane is a "National treasure" in the UK. Though inevitably comes the comparison between his new character and the beloved doctor Fitzgerald, the flawed but genius sleuth of Cracker. The man himself insists on the differences between Douglas Hain and Fitz (

The story, influenced by film noir, is told over two different time frames and covers three different points of view - with two different Douglas Hain. Not Cracker? Hain is all the qualities of Fitz incarnated (and Fitzgerald had a lot) minus the sarcastic old bad boy aspect. And he looks more ambiguous than he seems.

Anyway could we refuse something with Robbie Coltrane starring in it?

Murderland started yesterday on ITV1 and goes on next monday at 9pm (British Time).

Update (13.59 - French Time): Robbie stays robust for ITV and wins against David Attenborough's Life on BBC One. Murderland premieres with 6.3m (25.9%) at 9pm vs 4.6m for Life and hurts badly FlashForward - shown on Five in the UK (

See also:

Friday, 16 October 2009


[11.00 - French Time] Paris is the focus of America's attention, and in a less negative way than usual, because of the prospect of a deal between Comcast - the largest cable operator in the United States - and media and entertainment giant NBC Universal. Wall Street and Hollywoodland await that French media company Vivendi sells its 20% stake in NBC Uni.

Observers and players expected an announcement from the Vivendi board meeting on October 14 but the main subject of discussion was Brazilian telco operator GVT. In September Vivendi signed an agreement with the founding and countrolling shareholders of GVT for a strategic telecommunications partnership in Brazil, Vivendi launching an amicable tender offer on the Brazilian ( But at the beginning of this month, Spanish telecom group Telefonica made a higher offer.

Now there are speculations that Vivendi will top Telefonica and GVT climbed to a record in Sao Paulo trading ( What about the 20% NBC Uni share of Vivendi, then? The French company is said to hold off on its awaited decision in order to concentrate on GVT (

Rien ne sert de courir. They have no need to hurry: the three-week window during which Vivendi has to inform General Electric (owner of 80% of NBC Universal) whether it will exercise an option to sell its interest in NBC Universal opens only on November 15 ( With a consolidation movement in the media industry and the relevance of the interest of Comcast over NBC Universal, Vivendi certainly wants to get what they consider the right price for their stake.

While there is a class action trial in New York around the era of former Vivendi boss Jean-Marie Messier ( it is not unreasonable to think that optimum conditions for a sale of their 20% stake would contribute to help them to turn the Messier page definitively. And we could ask ourselves what eventual effects the NBC Uni stake sale woud have on the trading of the GVT share if concluded before Vivendi could finalize its projects with the Brazilian company.

In the meantime why observers and specialists eagerly wait for a Vivendi decision is understandable: they would like to have something more exciting to analyze and comment than NBC's drama lineup, even with a lesbian storyline in Heroes.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009


I'm still enjoying the deliciously sweet effects of constant weather changes on my nose and my throat. More than ever, actually.

Thank you for your messages, your interest, your fidelity and your trust. Welcome to our new readers. And thanks to Stephan for the Jelly Babies.

See also:

Saturday, 10 October 2009


Aurélien Ferenczi writes about She Who Must Be Read, aka our dear Nikki Finke of, on the website of the prestigious French cultural magazine Telerama.

He asks the following question: why has the French movie industry no equivalent of Nikki's work? Patience, among the many projects of Nikki Finke for her site there is an international expansion (

I don't know how she will react to the word "blogueuse" - blogger - as she is a First class experienced journalist (well, in fact I can guess...),48101.php (In French)

Friday, 9 October 2009


[15.30/Revised 21.30 - French Time] Life is Hell. Just when you begin to see clouds in shape of Care Bears in the blue sky, unicorns running in the fields (hello, Duncan!) and signs of recovery for ITV, Primeval is brought back from oblivion and Kingdom is axed.

According to Broadcast, ITV cancels Norfolk based Stephen Fry vehicle (launched in 2007) after three series. The news was revealed by Fry himself on his blog and twitter feed this morning ( « Our masters at ITV have decided that there shan’t be a fourth series of the television drama Kingdom. I am sorry because it was such a pleasure making them in my beloved Norfolk » writes Stephen Fry (1).

Peter Kingdom is a solicitor in the pittoresque small town of Market Shipborough. He must endure the creative lunacy of his sister Beatrice (Hermione Norris, a galaxy away from Spooks), the disappearance of Simon - his brother and partner in Kingdom & Kingdom, the family problems of his secretary (Celia Imrie), the bad luck of his trainee solicitor, and the eccentricity of the locals. Peter's aunt, Auriel - played by Phyllida Law, is his confidante.

Kingdom is often compared with reason to Doc Martin, the other rural comedy drama of ITV1. To write that the character of Peter Kingdom is modeled on Stephen Fry would be an euphemism to the point that some critics even consider that Fry is playing himself in the show. But it's probably true and it's what makes Kingdom so lovable, with also its great supporting cast and beautiful locations (

The third series of Kingdom (a show distributed by Portman) ended its run on ITV1 in July with a strong audience of 4.84m ( An ITV spokesman said: « Kingdom has performed well for us over the last three years but we will not be developing any further episodes. As has always been the case, we are constantly looking at ways to refresh the mix of drama on ITV1 to ensure that we get the balance right between both old and new titles » (

The reactions to the announcements range from astonishment to consternation. Following the unexpected resurrection of Primeval (axed after an abysmal third series) with an innovative funding deal where BBC Worldwide has the lion's share, Peter Fincham, the ITV director of television, said « I don’t think all drama will be funded this way, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of it. It’s a reality of a world in which it’s challenging for broadcasters to fully fund drama » (

Has Fincham Kingdom in mind? Who's next? The Fixer? Series 2 of the best British series of the moment ended its six-part run with 2.8m viewers ( But the fact that Scottish viewers cannot watch ITV dramas because of a dispute between STV and ITV certainly didn't help the ratings of this great show.

Will Kingdom get the Primeval treatment? Will ITV revamp the show as Dinosaurs do the funniest things - Market Shipborough Edition, with another Stephen... Stephen Mulhern. Thank God, Harry Hill's TV Burp comes back tomorrow (

Just kidding.



[4.56 - French Time] Read on the blog of television wizard and author extraordinaire Lee Goldberg (his wife is French):

CBS has greenlit production on a pilot for a new version of Hawaii Five-O from writers & Fringe producers Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci and CSI:NY executive producer Peter Lenkov (

The last time the network tried to revive the classic with Jack Lord I gave my humble opinion ( and should another new new version be written by William Shakespeare or Michael Crichton back from Heaven I would not change a word.

Go to Lee's blog, there's the intro for the unaired Hawaii Five-O pilot with Gary Busey. With all the respect due to Stephen J. Cannell and Gary Busey it reminds me of Tropical Punch with Adam West.


[2.46 - French Time] Question: What is in a worst state than me awake in the middle of a French night with of a rhinopharyngitis? Answer: The NBC series lineup right now.

Southland, the Cop drama a la Steven Bochco launched by the Peacock network in April 2009 and renewed for a second season is cancelled. And according to our dear She Who Must Be Read, Nikki Finke of, the costly medical drama Trauma is already cremated (

In May I wrote: « Talking about NBC, some say Trauma is the new ER but the concept sounds like an old Glen A. Larson show ». And two months later: « Is the 2009-2010 season summed up by a single word: trauma? ». The show has a $3m pricetag, if axed maybe BBC Worldwide and ITV could bring it back with CGI dinosaurs.

Seriously, Primetime network season has it all to become the worst season in many years. I'm amazed by this mania to sound the bugle when a show gets a full season order right after its start. Then the show is dumped after this full season, or after a year and a half. Or goes on for three more years without anybody can explain why before someone remembers to pull the plug.

The full season order is a privilege these days . The order for NBC's midseason drama Day One has been reduced to the two-hour pilot plus two episodes ( ABC will put the revival of V on hiatus after 4 episodes. Return of the "miniseries"? No, Realpolitik. You can't compare this scope reduction to the lavish miniseries of the 1980s, the Lace, If Tomorrow comes, Hollywood Wives, Thorn Birds, etc. Lavish miniseries will not replace the casualties of the 2009-2010 season.

And make no mistake, NBC Universal knows what a good show is: Warehouse 13 is a hit... on Syfy.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009


First photos of the A-Team movie. At least the great David Letterman will not have to make apologies for this...

See also:


The official countdown to a remake of Weekend at Bernie's starts now, dear and loyal readers. Believe me...

New Line, a Warner Brothers division, has plans to produce a sequel to the comedy cult classic National Lampoon's Vacation aka Vacation (1983) - according to Hollywood Reporter's blog Heat Vision (

Vacation starred Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, a "Father knows best but controls nothing" from Chicago. He plans to make a trip to a fun park in California with his wife Ellen (Beverly D'Angelo) and his children Audrey and Rusty (Dana Barron and Anthony Michael Hall) but the holiday road becomes a sort of initiatic journey trough chaos. The film, directed by Harold Ramis and written by John Hughes, spawn four sequels ranging from enjoyable to utter crap.

David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) is attached to produce and possibly direct the sequel/remake, focusing on Rusty now a father with his family on a holiday road trip. « Chase and Beverly D’Angelo, who played the mom in the original movies, will have room to make appearances as grandparents, providing a sense of continuity, though no deals are in place » explains the Heat Vision article.

Just for the anecdote, when John Hughes died your humble servant felt the need to watch Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) for the 450th time and told his wonderful wife: "Now we can bet they'll remake Ferris ASAP". Another vacation trip with a Griswold family member is a terrible idea in the sad history of bad ideas, just watch Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure (2003) and you'll understand. And who will play Russell "Rusty" Griswold? Vince Vaughn?

Not to mention the fact that Chevy Chase is one of my personal heroes.

« I'm Chevy Chase... and you're not. »

Tuesday, 6 October 2009


New Doctor Who logo unveiled by the BBC:

The Maybe-This-One-Huh? Update (?): It seems, according to Doctor Who Online and SFX, that there is an alternate and horizontal version. Oh puh-lease! Will the real 2010 logo please stand up?

Monday, 5 October 2009


[22.58 - French Time] Mark Burnett (Survivor) and Sony Pictures Television have announced, during Mipcom in Cannes, that they're going to turn Aaron Spelling's cult series Fantasy Island (1978-1984) into a reality TV programme. The original Fantasy Island starred Ricardo Montalban as Mr Roarke, the enigmatic host of Fantasy Island, a tropical resort where tourists paid to have their fantasies realized. Hervé Villechaize was Tattoo, Roarke's assistant, and provided the comedy.

The show was a companion of another hit from Spelling, The Love Boat, and both shows were on ABC. The format of the reality series will follow 12 contestants as they compete for a job running an exotic island, by making other people’s dreams come true, as new guests arrive at the hotel in each episode with fantasies that must be fulfilled (

Morphing a television fiction classic into a Reality show is not something new. Remember the short-lived Fame on NBC in 2003, or The Real Gilligan's Island (shown on TBS from 2004 to 2005). But in a difficult context for TV series writers (, unscripted out of scripted has some kind of irony.

Anyway the immediate problem of the Reality TV version of Fantasy Island could be that only the great Ricardo Montalban and the popular Hervé Villechaize made the original show watchable past the first pilot - superbly written by Gene Levitt in 1977 - but this time one candidate will be chosen as the star performer for the week (

And it's not easy to walk in Montalban's shoes. Ask Malcolm McDowell, who played Roarke in the 1998 Fantasy Island revival. Maybe McDowell or Terence Stamp could host the new show?


OK, this one was easy and will not be a surprise for the loyal readers of this blog: Episode 1 of BBC One’s latest adaptation of classic Jane Austen novel Emma, starring Romola Garai, has been beaten in beauty by Doc Martin, on ITV1.

The presence of Emma ( on the BBC One 2009 Autumn lineup raised mixed feelings from viewers and critics more than bored by the idea of another "Braustens" (Brontë/Austen/Dickens) adaptation. After all it is tempting to ask who needs one more costume/period drama at a time when British television can deliver The Fixer or the superb Torchwood: Children of Earth event miniseries.

Nowadays you need something more to attract interest with another look at these fond masterpieces from the great British litterature. ITV1's Wuthering Heights had that with Tom Hardy (one of the best contemporary actors the UK can offer to the world) as the dark Heathcliff. The excellent Broadcast website give us the first rating numbers of this new Jane Austen adaptation on yesterday evening: 4.4m for Emma and 8.1m for the grumpy but lovable Doc Martin - more than last week (7.2m) vs Waking the Dead and its 6.3m (

Everybody is lost in Austen these days, even US singer Taylor Swift. The academism of many "Braustens" adaptations gives viewers the erroneous impression that the same Austen books are revisited each year, and cannot compete with the fresh tone of a wonderful show like Doc Martin. It's time to move on and make to Austen and Dickens what Baz Luhrmann did to Shakespeare with Romeo + Juliet. Or, Plan B, adapt more of all these great books not written by a Brontë family member, Charles Dickens or Jane Austen.

Or hire Tom Hardy as Mr Darcy. Round Two next week with Simon Cowell still acting as a lead-in for the Doc with The X Factor. What about Simon Cowell as Mr Darcy?

See also:


Long profile of She Who Must Be Read, Nikki Finke of, by Tad Friend in The New Yorker.

Of this story I'll retain the magnificent illustration by Jaime Hernandez - actually, I'm thinking of framing it and put it on my desk - and two facts:

[Major Spoiler Alert!]

[We warned you!]

According to Mr Friend's story one of Nikki Finke's favourite movies is Legally Blonde (Good God, Nikki! You must REALLY like MGM if it's true). And Nikki has a cat called Blue. I didn't know Nikki has a cat, that must be a huge problem with sources working at Disney. + (Nikki's reaction)

P.S.: I love the reference to Charlie of Charlie's Angels in Tad Friend's piece.

See also: