Friday, 29 January 2010


[19.10 - French Time] According to Digital Spy, referring to an article of The Daily Mail, John Barrowman will join the cast of Desperate Housewives in March for several episodes of the ABC drama.

The episodes will be aired this spring and the actor is said to play a villain (what else a UK born actor would play in Hollywoodland?) Should the news be confirmed, the agenda of John Barrowman would certainly impact the probabilities of a series 4 of Torchwood or of his presence in the US pilot for a Fox remake/reboot or whatever you call it.

And let's hope for him that he'd have more luck with the DH scripts than in his previous attempt in the genre, Titans (2000), a laughable 13 episode Aaron Spelling supersoap for NBC.

See also:


[16.30 - French Time] Read on The Guardian website. Hugh Muir reports that Stephen Garrett, boss of Kudos (Spooks, Hustle, Life on Mars...), said that Life on Mars US, the short-lived ABC remake, was a "complete mess, a horror story".

Garrett was at Oxford University, where he is visiting professor of broadcast media (



[14.00 - French Time] According to Broadcast, ITV's director of Television Peter Fincham is understood to be staying aboard following the appointment yesterday of actual Royal Mail boss Adam Crozier as the new chief executive. Many believed Fincham was a contender for the job or could be tempted to leave ITV for Channel 4.

ITV chairman Archie Norman ruled out further cost cuts or a sell-off of its programme-making arm ITV Productions, as Adam Crozier is preceded by a "cost-cutter" reputation - mostly earned at Royal Mail ( - and praised Peter Fincham and his team.

See also:


[5.00 - French Time] US networks are making their pilot shopping spree these days, probably looking for potential replacements to some of the "high-concept wonders" they launched this season. Yesterday NBC picked up a pilot for a comedy TV remake of the movie Outsourced.

Outsourced (2006), directed by John Jeffcoat and written by George Wing and John Jeffcoat, was about a novelty products salesman (Josh Hamilton) who has to train his replacement in India after his entire department is outsourced.

NBC developed a first attempt to transform the film into a sitcom during the 2007-2008 season with Wing and Jeffcoat adapting their own work, and Ken Kwapis (The Office US) as director ( The project didn't make the cut for a pilot order then but this time the pilot will be directed by Kwapis and written by Robert Borden ( .

In the UK, ITV aired last may an hilarious sitcom titled Mumbai Calling, whose concept shares some similarities with Outsourced. It starred 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 worked with Dev Raja (the excellent Nitin Ganatra - one of the reasons to watch EastEnders), who prefered 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), was entirely shot in India with a substantial cast of Indian actors and is an unsung gem.

Home of The US version of The Office and of Parks and Recreation, NBC seems to like office comedies (eh, they gave us the late night show war...) What network will try an American version of The Thick of it?

See also:

Thursday, 28 January 2010


Since November we note the TV show casualties of the US Network season 2009-2010 in our Countdown to Oblivion feature (The list is updated when necessary):

- The Beautiful Life (CW)
- Southland (NBC)
- Eastwick (ABC)
- Hank (ABC)
- Dollhouse (Fox)

- Ugly Betty (ABC) - What I really don't get is how it lasted four seasons ( Yo soy Betty, la fea, the original version (a Colombian telenovela) was cute but unexportable beyond its format. Verliebt in Berlin, the German version, was great but this one was widely overestimated.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010


[21.50 - French Time] This news from THR could easily qualify for our Things to watch in Hollywoodland when you're dead feature: The CW has picked up a pilot for a 2010 version of La Femme Nikita co-exec produced by director/producer McG (Chuck, Human Target).

The original movie, Nikita (1990), was about a young criminal woman trained to be an assassin by a top-secret government agency. It was directed by Luc Besson and starred Anne Parillaud. The story (written by Besson) was remade three years later in the US as Point of No Return, with Bridget Fonda.

In 1997 the movie(s) became a television series called La Femme Nikita and produced in Toronto for USA Network, with the excellent Peta Wilson as Nikita. Wilson was surrounded by a great cast: Eugene Robert Glazer as "Operations" - the cynical boss of Section One, Alberta Watson (The Sweet Hereafter) as Madeline, etc.

Roy Dupuis, a superstar in Quebec, played Michael. Dupuis was even in position to contractually ask to dub himself in French language for the airing of the show in the Canadian province, whereas the other voices heard were French as the series was dubbed in Paris (with the French voice of Tom Hanks for Dupuis in France).

Season 5 (2001), guest-starring the legendary Edward Woodward (Callan, The Equalizer) as Mr Jones, is one of the best works ever done in the spy/thriller genre on TV. The influence of La Femme Nikita is visible in shows like the underestimated Quebecer series Haute Surveillance (2000) or 24.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, in the new version Nikita is going rogue and a new assassin is trained to replace her. We'll see if this pilot finishes in the White Room.


[18.00 - French Time] Exclusive interview of Shane Brennan , the boss of NCIS and its spin-off show, NCIS: Los Angeles, by the excellent Michael Aussiello for Entertainment Weekly. Some may find it a shocker but we learn that a character is written out. Maybe will see that character again (or not), read the interview for details, but the news is rather interesting.

If NCIS: Los Angeles is a hit for CBS, this character (permanent?) exit is not a surprise as the interaction between members of the L.A. branch of NCIS is the main problem of the show. Remember what made the original a hit and a favourite among viewers is the relationship between the NCIS agents, the wit, the situations and a strong characterization.

Actually the most interesting asset of NCIS: Los Angeles is not the dynamic duo Chris O'Donnell/LL Cool J but the wonderful American actress Linda Hunt as their boss, Hetty. Criminal Minds and House spin-off series are in consideration but the question is: what can a spin-off bring beyond the "franchise" aspect?


[16.35 - French Time] Read on The Hollywood Reporter. Warner Bros. aims to buy and refurbish the movie production facilities of U.K. Leavesden Studios.

Leavesden Studios, situated at Leavesden Park (Watford, Hertfordshire) has gained an international reputation with major blockbuster films including Pierce Brosnan's first 007 movie GoldenEye, Star Wars Episode I - The Phantom Menace, and for ten years the Harry Potter series .

The multi-million dollar plan has been submitted to local councils and includes a Harry Potter set visit tour. Last year Hollywood doubled its investment in the United Kingdom (

See also:

Tuesday, 26 January 2010


[15.00 - French Time] Pernell Roberts, one of the most recognizable faces of US television during more than 40 years, died sunday in his Malibu home. He was 81.

Roberts had his big break in 1959 with the role of Adam Cartwright in the western saga Bonanza (1959-1973) but left the show in 1965, displeased with the scripts and the evolution of his character. Free to return to things more satisfying for him, like stage, he maintained a strong presence on the small screen as a guest actor in episodes of many hits of the glory days of American network television: Mission: Impossible, Gunsmoke, The Wild Wild West, Hawaii Five-O, etc. Even Bonanza's copycat and rival The Big Valley.

He had to wait until 1979 to be again in a hit show as a star, with Trapper John, M.D. (1979-1986), where he was Dr. John Francis Xavier 'Trapper' McIntyre - previously played by Wayne Rogers in M*A*S*H (1972-1983).

Pernell Roberts participated to one of the most fascinating and elegant experiences in the History of US TV: in 1997 he reprised the role of George Fallon, one of the characters of a 1973 Mannix episode called Little girl lost for an episode of Diagnosis Murder called Hard-Boiled Murder, written by William Rabkin and Lee Goldberg. The DM episode, was a direct sequel to the Mannix show (including excerpts), with Mike Connnors back as P.I. Joe Mannix and Beverly Garland and Julie Adams reprising their roles too.


Hustle Series 6 Episode 4. Mickey (Adrian Lester) and his team are about to finish a £50,000 job with a case switch when Sean (Matt Di Angelo) lets the mark go with the money and follows a man with whom he seems to have a score to settle. Emma (Kelly Adams) recognizes this man: it's Rex Kennedy (Danny Webb), Emma and Sean's estranged father gone in Australia when they were kids. Things get worse when Matt decides to con his dad.

Series 6 relocates Hustle to Birmingham in order to contain production costs and receive welcome subventions, thanks to a deal secured by Screen West Midlands (1) - series 2 of Survivors is also shot there. But since the first episode of this new series, what could have been an interesting move from a narrative point of view became very quickly a weakness: the playground of Mickey, Albert (Robert Vaughn), Emma & Sean, and Ash (Robert Glenister) remains firmly set in London.

A few scenes are still shot in London, but the trick consists in showing Westminster, the Gherkin or other landmarks from time to time, producing a sometimes annoying surreal feeling. Actually there are people in Birmingham who found that annoying too but for other motives than the sake of television narration: some local taxpayers considering that the £400,000 invested for the relocation of Hustle do not contribute to the promotion of Birmingham and West Midlands ( To which a spokeswoman of Screen WM answered that Hustle will bring £1.2m into the region’s economy.

But even with a relocation and a welcome £400,000 co-financing, budget remains an issue weighing heavily on the stories this season. This is not a surprise in these recession times of course, recently actor Nicholas Lyndhurst bemoaned budget difficulties of the BBC's Only Fools and Horses prequel Rock & Chips ( But when your characters are meant to evolve in the glamourous world wonderfully stylized in the Hustle title sequence - designed by Berger and Wyse - it becomes a dilemma.

And unfortunately it shows in last night's episode, written by Mark Chapell and Fintan Ryan. In a departure from the series' format, the episode is centered around the backstory of Emma and Sean and the convenient place of the con is a demolition site. Too many indoor discussions do the rest.

The good points: the effective opening sequence, Matt Di Angelo and Kelly Adams (particularly during the final confrontation with Rex), Rob Jarvis and the return of the old end title. But if last week's episode was pure Mission: Impossible, this one is the equivalent of M:I's infamous 1970 episode, Homecoming, where Phelps and the IMF team investigate a murder in Jim's hometown.

Next week: Dragon's Den meets Hustle.


Monday, 25 January 2010


[11.00 - French Time] According to Mike Fleming for Nikki Finke's, and The Guardian or other British media outlets today, Brit supermarket giant Tesco has teamed up with Amber Entertainment to form a production arm joint venture.

Their idea is to to make straight-to-DVD films of books written by best-selling authors. The new film branch of Tesco has a four-film deal with Jackie Collins, and is in talks with authors like Philip Pullman or Jacqueline Wilson. Tesco stores will sell the DVDs during a period of exclusivity before the movies can be sold by other retailers and Tesco will not intervene in the content.

We'll see if Tesco and Amber will set a trend and be followed by other supermarket chains in Europe or in the US, even beyond the straight-to-DVD market. In a business dominated by box office news about Avatar this is a most intriguing and refreshing announcement.


[5.17 - French Time] According to Michael Aussiello (Entertainment Weekly), American network NBC has delayed its verdict on Rex Is Not Your Lawyer, a one-hour pilot for a legal dramedy starring David Tennant (Doctor Who) - after considering the potential show for this spring.

In this pilot Tennant is Rex Alexander, a top Chicago lawyer who begins suffering panic attacks and takes up coaching clients to represent themselves in court. Jerry O’Connell, Abigail Spencer, Jane Curtin, and Jeffrey Tambor co-star. In November I humbly suggested that NBC should drop the title and remarked that in continental Europe "Rex" evokes an Austrian cop show starring a German shepherd dog. I added that the idea of Tennant playing an attorney escaped from a David Kelley show suffice.

Well, talking about David E. Kelley, the Peacock has recently ordered him a pilot called Kindreds, with another "unconventional kind of law practice" from the man behind LA Law, The Practice, Boston Legal, etc. According to Michael Aussiello's article, Rex remains under consideration for Fall.

If NBC executives are not vaccinated by the terrible ratings of The Deep End on ABC this month. It seems that David Tennant will have to wait a little more before moving to Los Angeles to become the next Hugh Laurie.

See also:

Friday, 22 January 2010


[13.30 - French Time] John Nettles is DCI Tom Barnaby in ITV's Midsomer Murders since 1997. Last year he announced that he is giving up his role at the end of the next series, the 13th. His last episode will be episode 82 and Nettles will shoot his final scene in August .

In Midsomer Murders, adapted from the books of Caroline Graham by Anthony Horowitz, DCI Barnaby and his deputy investigate an endless series of (unrelated) murders most horrid in the fictional county of Midsomer - where they now probably have to hire inhabitants in order to keep practicing this local passtime that is assassination.

The Daily Mail website publishes today a very interesting article about John Nettles leaving Midsomer, where the actor (who will remain Jim Bergerac for your humble servant) discusses his exit, his reasons, and how he will make it as modest as possible (

ITV and exec producers are searching for Nettles's replacement and speculation is growing. The names circulating to replace him include Nat Parker, Rupert Penry-Jones (Whitechapel), Jason Isaacs, Bradley Walsh (Law & Order: UK), Jason Durr, Alastair MacKenzie, or Philip "Gene Hunt" Glenister ( The very talented Michael Kitchen (Foyle's War) is also named and many consider he would be absolutely perfect. My readers know my humble opinion about the show but I believe Kitchen would indeed be a great successor to John Nettles.

Midsomer Murders is a global hit. Interestingly John Nettles talks a little about dubbing (1) in the Daily Mail piece, and he compliments the French actor who dubs him for French-speaking countries. Hervé Jolly is the French voice of Nettles since Bergerac - which is virtually unknown in France unlike Inspecteur Barnaby. The show will have to get a new title here.

Update (February 9):

(1) I find John Nettles very harsh with his German voice, the excellent Norbert Langer (


Thursday, 21 January 2010


[Updated] Timing ist alles - Timing is everything - writes the female terrorist villain in the excellent German TV-movie Adrenalin (1996).

Almost one week after the publication of The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter, by Russell T Davies & Benjamin Cook, comes the news that the former Doctor Who franchise boss is cooking a US version of Torchwood (Who's spin-off) with Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner - BBC execs now working in Los Angeles.

And the fan response to this announcement is, to say the least, "not amused". After an awfully long string of US failed attempts to remake British television classics (remember Life on Mars US), the perspective of an americanization of Torchwood seems to inspire a global consternation. Even with the possibility of John Barrowman back as Captain Jack (who else could play Jack anyway? Jon Culshaw?)

Whoniverse specialist and British Pop culture expert (among many fields) Frank Collins reviews The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter on his blog and, as usual, this review is a Must read.

Update: An interesting article on WalesOnline (

See also:


Peter Fincham (ITV's Director of Television) and Archie Norman, the new ITV chairman, must be happy men after last night's National Television Awards 2010.

The ceremony, hosted by Dermot O'Leary at London's O2 Arena, aired on ITV1, was entertaining, convivial, and popular. Indeed, popular Entertainment is on the side of ITV this year with their stars and programmes widely awarded as the result of votes by the public.

Comedians and presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly, better known as Ant & Dec, won Most Popular Entertainment Programme for Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway (ITV). And they also won Most Popular Entertainment Presenter for the ninth consecutive year!

50 year old Coronation Street ("Corrie") won Most Popular Serial drama and viewers were given a special preview of things to come in ITV's flagship soap. Simon Cowell's triumphant The X Factor won Most Popular Talent Show vs Britain's Got Talent, another Cowell Hit franchise for ITV (one of the four nominees in the category).

The excellent lunchtime talk show Loose Women (ITV), a Brit equivalent of The View, won Most Popular Factual Programme. Corrie actor Craig Gazey won a deserved Most Popular Newcomer. Lacey Turner, from rival BBC soap Eastenders, won in the Serial Drama Performance category vs the talented Gray O'Brien (Corrie) among the nominees.

Gavin & Stacey (BBC) won Most Popular Comedy Programme - which must be a relief after Big Top. But most important, the Beeb was celebrated through two of the United Kingdom's national treasures: Doctor Who and Stephen Fry.

The NTAs honoured the end of the David Tennant/Russell T. Davies era in the Most Popular Drama category for Who, and Outstanding Drama Performance for Tennant. Stephen Fry won in the Star Travel Documentary for Stephen Fry: In America. Your humble servant must confess that the great Billy Connolly, nominated for Journey To The Edge Of The World (ITV), was his favourite. Were also nominated Joanna Lumley (who also introduced the Comedy category) for BBC's In the Land Of The Northern Lights, and Piers Morgan for ITV's Piers Morgan On... Dubai (no flying red bus in this episode).

Stephen Fry also received a Special Recognition award.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010


[17.00 - French Time] Read on Broadcast: Russell T. Davies has scripted a pilot for a US remake of Torchwood, the sci-fi action series spin-off of Doctor Who, for BBC Worldwide Productions in America and the Fox network.

Jane Tranter, former BBC controller of fiction now executive vice president of programming and production at BBC Worldwide America in Los Angeles, and Julie Gardner - former exec producer on the Doctor Who franchise now in L.A. too - are involved in the project (

The question is: will John Barrowman, well-established in the United States, be Captain Jack Harkness for the Fox version? And having in mind the precedents of some US pilot remakes like Red Dwarf ( or Spaced (, allow me to express my reserve.

BBC Worldwide's Los Angeles production branch has also a cop show project for US network ABC (

En Français:


[6.00 - French Time] Hustle Series 6 Episode 3: Albert Stroller (Robert Vaughn) is in Chinatown to put the final touch to a con on Phil (Colin Baker) and his brother-in-law, Charlie. But Charlie is "Czech Charlie" (Velibor Topic), a notorious hard-man not to mess with unless you're terminally ill. Albert decides to leave the game when Phil dies of an heart attack.

Except that Charlie wants the money promised or Albert will be in big trouble. Mickey (Adrian Lester) and the team must find half a million to save their friend. Can Luke Baincross (Simon Day) an obnoxious wannabe playboy and a life-sized gold tiger worth ten million pounds be of some help?

Hustle is a modern-day Mission: Impossible, writer Chris Bucknall understands that and delivers one of the best episodes of the show. Actually Bucknall does his own Mission: Impossible in the most elegant way. Of course you must endure the blasphemy of the death of the character played by Mr Colin Baker (BUCKNALL! *shakes fist*) right in the beginning, but this episode is a pure wonder.

A genuine threat, a friend in need, a Russian doll caper with the good jokes right when you shall have them unlike that farce which was series 4. And a team spirit which was absent of previous episode (a problem of schedules?). Even Eddie (Rob Jarvis) has his share as a petty Tom Cruise as Brian Flanagan (Cocktail) impersonator.

Kelly Adams (Emma) is amazing and Matt Di Angelo (Sean) is perfect. Ash (Robert Glenister) is very "Barney Collieresque" and Simon Day is a brilliant guest star. Director Sarah O'Gorman makes a clever use of the locations. The music score has nods to Mission: Impossible and Eye of the Tiger. The final scene is great.

It takes five thieves to have fun.

P.S.: Colin Baker... BUCKNALL! *shakes fist* (Chris Bucknall)

Monday, 18 January 2010


Forget the NBC Late Night Show hosts war. CBS has the best Late Night combo with veteran host David Letterman (Late Show with David Letterman) and Craig Ferguson.

The Scottish-born American comedian hosts The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, produced by Letterman's company Worldwide Pants. One of the features of his show is the use of puppets as regular characters: Wavy Rancheros (a "crocodile-alligator"), Aquaman, Sean Connery, etc...

When The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson celebrated its 1000th episode in December 2009, Wavy and its puppet colleagues took over the studio. Elaine Kollias, Marketing director of Folkmanis, the company behind these zany creatures, has gracefully accepted to answer to questions about the puppets, the company and the event.

Could you tell us a few words about your company and its history?

Elaine Kollias: Folkmanis is considered the world's leading puppet maker with over 250 styles and sold in over 15 countries. Judy Folkmanis started the business in the late 1960's by sewing puppets for her two young sons. Other parents loved her designs so a demand was born.

Judy cut and sewed puppets on her kitchen table for many years - selling her puppets on Berkeley's famed Telegraph Avenue where many street artists hock their wares. Finally, Judy's husband, Atis, thought they should actually try to make a real business out of it and he gave them 1 year to try.

They never looked back. In 1976, they hired seamstresses, found a building to set up shop and a company was born!

How did you get involved with The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson?

Elaine Kollias: Back in December of 2008, I received a phone call from a consumer and a Craig Ferguson viewer who called to confirm that it was our Long-Legged Monkey that had appeared the night before as "Kronos, King of the Monkey People".

This viewer wanted to find one for his daughter. So to confirm I searched YouTube and there it was. Indeed it was our puppet! Then, we called the show to ask if we could send Craig a box of puppets and the rest as they say, is legendary...

Can you tell us which characters your company devised for the show?

Elaine Kollias: We custom built Aquaman, Sean Connery, Craig as a bull (not seen), an Ostrich starlet (not seen), and we were working on a Camel action-star when they pulled it because the show was getting too full. We also customized a Chihuahua and Beagle to be stand-ins for Jeff and Chris, the two male dancers who are really assistants.

The Chihuahua was in bondage gear while the Beagle wore a suit and eye glasses. Perhaps these unseen puppets will turn up on the show someday.

Part Two:


En Français: (Première partie) (Deuxième partie)


Forget the NBC Late Night Show hosts war. CBS has the best Late Night combo with veteran host David Letterman (Late Show with David Letterman) and Craig Ferguson.

The Scottish-born American comedian hosts The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, produced by Letterman's company Worldwide Pants. One of the features of his show is the use of puppets as regular characters: Wavy Rancheros (a "crocodile-alligator"), Aquaman, Sean Connery, etc...

When The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson celebrated its 1000th episode in December 2009, Wavy and its puppet colleagues took over the show. Elaine Kollias, Marketing director of Folkmanis, the company behind these zany creatures, has gracefully accepted to answer to questions about the puppets, the company and the event. Here is Part Two of our interview.

What were the specifications given by Craig Ferguson for the characters?

Elaine Kollias: Aquaman had to have the blonde hair and the superhero costume. And it had to look like Craig. We suggested the Shark instead and Craig liked the idea.

Sean Connery had to have a beard, cardigan and argyle and be Craig dressed as Sean. That's why he ended up as a Bull.

"Craig" had to have a full suit, shirt and tie. Since the real Craig is a Taurus, we thought a Bull would suit him nicely. It was a great piece but I think it was a difficult puppet to animate, and it wasn't used for the show.

"Starlet" had to sit on the couch and be a guest. It had to have glamour. We choose the Ostrich with her long eyelashes and gave her lots of bling. (Not seen)

"Action-hero star" was a Male actor with casual clothing. We chose our new Camel puppet and made hoof arms and legs. They had us stop working on him as the show filled up and ran out of time. (Never completed)

There was also two animals to depict Jeff and Chris - background dancers. We suggested several dog combination and Craig chose the Chihuahua and Beagle. The dogs were dressed as Jeff and Chris. (Not seen)

Can you name us the people who made these puppets?

Elaine Kollias: It took a team of folks to pull it off! I, Elaine Kollias, coordinated the project, scoured for materials, brainstormed the animal character concepts and cheered our staff on.

Carlene Cordova handled all the "Hollywood" speak including legal and electronic media, while Wendy Morton took on most of the fabrication with assistance from one of our senior designers, Erica Kawata, and our junior designer, Ellie Brickman. Wendy also assisted on the set with puppet wrangling and puppeteering.

What were the materials used?

Elaine Kollias: Because we only had about two weeks for the entire project we had to think quickly and act even faster. We figured that the best way to do what was required, was to piece the custom puppets together from parts that we already had, like Frankenstein, and by purchasing costume components and children's clothing. Normally we would have done it all from scratch but 10 days isn't much time for what we undertook.

Who got the ideas for the 1000th episode?

Elaine Kollias: Oh, the "all puppets" show was all Craig's idea. Supposedly he had wanted to do a show like this for awhile. Can you imagine being a television producer and your talent comes to you and says they envision a special show where they're not seen at all and the show is run by puppets? How silly but brilliant at the same time and probably pretty risky from the corporate point of view!

Do you collaborate with Craig Ferguson beyond the creation and fabrication process and on which basis?

Elaine Kollias: No, we don't work directly with him but with him through his staff. We only collaborated for this special show. Normally we just send puppets that we think Craig will enjoy and as we introduce new designs, we make sure Craig receives a set.

Do you work for other shows or for the movie or tv industry in general?

Elaine Kollias: Generally speaking, we don't take on custom projects. However, we feel so strongly about what Craig is doing for late night TV and specifically for puppets, that we really couldn't turn it down.

We have become huge fans of the show and Craig's unique sense of humor. We do work with many set designers and prop masters for TV and films, but that's with puppets that we've already manufactured. Our puppets are actually in many films and productions.

If you look out for them you'll be surprised at how many productions choose our puppets as props and set dressing. And, although I can't say much about it, there's a major motion picture coming out in 2011 with top box office names that will be absolutely filled with our puppets! We can't wait.... !

Who is the puppet character of the show your company is the most proud of?

Elaine Kollias: Of our standard puppets, it was Kronos the Monkey, but then the Shark took our hearts and now it's really all about Wavy the Crocodile. For the custom puppets we really love how Aquaman turned out. But I think my favorite is Craig the Bull. Hopefully, Craig will use it on the show in the future.

Did your company worked specifically on the 1000th episode?

Elaine Kollias: Yes. When the 1000th episode was merely a concept of Craig's, the producers had a phone conference with us to determine our interest. We helped them brainstorm the characters. Because of the timing, Craig was okay with the characters being anthropomorphic.

Originally, I think his idea was to have human character puppets. Making human puppets is a nightmare because they're usually too scary if they're realistic and too goofy if they're not. It's very difficult. So we were relieved when Craig green-lighted the animal characters. If you know Folkmanis, you know that we know animals!

Part One:


En Français: (Première partie) (Deuxième partie)


[Updated] According to The Hollywood Reporter, the project of an updated version of Hawaii Five-O by golden writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (the Transformers franchise, M:I III) and CSI: NY executive producer Peter Lenkov is now officially a reality.

In the original (1968-1980) Jack Lord was Steve McGarrett, the boss of a Hawaii State Police elite squad. McGarrett was only accountable to the Governor of Hawaii. The idea of a Five-O revival is one of US television's wildest dreams since a long time. In 1997, Stephen J. Cannell produced an unsold pilot with Gary Busey and Russell Wong. 11 years later, Ed Bernero - showrunner of Criminal Minds - worked on a new version project before going on other things (

Regular readers of this blog know my humble opinion on a return of Hawaii-Five-O in the 21st century. The original is the show of one man: Jack Lord. Times were different and a character like recurring archvillain Wo Fat (McGarrett's nemesis played by Khigh Dheigh) seems unconceivable in our politically correct world.

Hollywood nobilities like Gary Sinise or Laurence Fishburne star in the CSI franchise. Who will be the next A-lister to jump aboard the TV bandwagon and be Steve McGarrett 2010? Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson, Michael Douglas?

Who are you (Who? Who?)

Update (January 18): According to Michael Aussiello, CBS is courting Alex O'Loughlin (Moonlight, Three Rivers) to star in the new Hawaii Five-O! (


I'm a big fan of puppetry. I grew up watching things like Sesame Street, The Muppet Show or the shows of Gerry Anderson.

When the talented American (born in Scotland) late night show star Craig Ferguson, host of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS, did his 1000th episode all with puppets, I couldn't resist to contact Folkmanis.

Folkmanis, Inc. is the company behind the wonderful and zany puppets which regularly appear in Craig Ferguson's show. Elaine Kollias, Marketing director of Folkmanis, has gracefully accepted to answer a few questions.

You'll be able to read this interesting interview today or tomorrow if Wavy Rancheros (the crocodile on the photo) doesn't eat me.

Sunday, 17 January 2010


As if the NBC Late Night debacle was not enough of a laughing stock, our dear She Who Must Be Read aka Nikki Finke will be live-blogging the Golden Globes tonight on her

« Come for the cynicism. Stay for the subversion. » Nikki promises us... "live-snarking" (

Who will be funnier? Nikki Finke or comedian Ricky Gervais, host of the ceremony aired on NBC? Maybe the network could give Nikki a Late Night show the day Jay Leno retires.

Friday, 15 January 2010


[Updated] Material Girl started yesterday evening on BBC One.

This 6 X 52 minute fashion drama, produced by Carnival Film & Television, stars Lenora Crichlow as Ali Redcliffe. Ali is a wannabe fashion designer and when she doesn't get her big break in Paris as official bras droit of her boss, star designer Davina Bailey (nicknamed "The Wicked Witch") she leaves her position. But when businessman Marco Keriliak offers Ali to help her to launch her own brand she accepts even if this means war with Davina.

The British answer to Ugly Betty? No the fashionista answer to Big Top, this sitcom with Amanda Holden as a circus ringmistress. Thank God the budget is far from US TV standards because the script is cliché-ridden and it's almost painful to see a waste of such talents like Dervla Kirwan - who plays Ali's nemesis, Michael Landes (Marco) or even Malcolm Sinclair as a Snidely Whiplashian character named Mitchell.

Of course Lenora Crichlow also stars in the ever excellent Being Human on BBC Three. Good for her.

Update (21.00 - French Time): Ouch! 3.02m viewers across the 8pm hour for Material Girl. 9.3m for Emmerdale at 8pm, and 9.7m for Corrie (Coronation Street) at 8.30pm. (

See also:


[11.00 - French Time] Here's a story reported by Broadcast I don't know what to think of: Astley Baker Davies, the production company of Peppa Pig, has to spend three months adding car seats and seatbelts in old episodes of this wonderful animated series for little children because of health-and-safety fears!

Peppa Pig is about Peppa, a young anthropomorphic girl pig, her parents - Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig - and her little brother George, who is obsessed by dinosaurs. We also see her eccentric granddad and her grandmother, her animal friends and many other animal characters. The show is one of the cutest, nicest animated series ever made and it's one of my 17-month old daughter favourites.

According to Broadcast some episodes of Peppa Pig see Peppa and her brother George in the back of a car without seatbelts, or standing up or leaning forward to talk to their parents. One mother complained to one of the channels which show the series in the UK that her daughter refused to wear a seatbelt because she wanted to be like Peppa (

Well, how could I put it... Peppa Pig doesn't live in the real world, you know. She's an animated character and in real life pigs don't drive cars (I know, I've checked). I'm also quasi-sure that in this formidable world that we share, rabbits don't drive school buses, or at least I hope so... On the opposite, we humans drive cars and school buses - er, not me because I can't drive. And we must all, driver and passengers, wear seatbelts and sit quietly.

Anyway, there so much more health-and-safety concerns in Peppa Pig. The gentle Daddy Pig drives his car on steep slope hills or mountains which would be accessed easier with a jetpack. When in the mountains Peppa yells ignoring avalanche risks. Peppa and George could easily confuse quicksands and their beloved muddy puddles, etc.

And, worst of all, their teacher Madame Gazelle is French.

Thursday, 14 January 2010


Really astonishing. According to Broadcast, the BBC has ordered an apocalypse drama to Kudos (Spooks, Hustle, The Fixer).

The show, whose definitive title is not known yet, is written by Ben Richards (The Fixer) and is set in 2040 on an unnamed planet after life on Earth has ended. It follows a group of "Pioneers" one year after their arrival.

The 8 X 60-minute episodes will be shot in South Africa from April. The show is tipped to return for a second series and could end up replacing one of BBC One’s long-running dramas, reports Broadcast (

Well, er...

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[9.00 - French Time] Kiefer Sutherland on Late Show with David Letterman yesterday.

Never bet...


[6.30 - French Time] Interesting review of the new Fox series Human Target in The Hollywood Reporter.

Human Target is adapted from a DC comic book by Len Wein and Carmine Infantino. Its character, Christopher Chance, was a private eye/bodyguard who literally endorsed the appearance and personality of his clients to protect them. This is not the first TV adaptation of the comic, in the nineties the team behind The Flash tried for ABC with Rick Springfield as Christopher Chance.

From what I've seen in the trailer and from what I read now in this review ( the show owes more to Walker Texas Ranger than to the ultracool but unfortunately short-lived ABC show. Nothing wrong with Walker (the CSI franchise even borrowed its formal aspect to the Chuck Norris vehicle) but the 2010 version misses the essential: Christopher Chance no longer assumes the identity of his clients.

The star of the Fox series, the excellent and always credible Mark Valley, justifies the change with narrative necessities ( but Chance is not THE Human Target without the masks, the impersonations and the Mission: Impossible "peel-off" thing.

Should this new series succeed expect revivals of Stingray (the Stephen J. Cannell show) and The Equalizer.

Human Target premieres this sunday on Fox. (Promo)

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Wednesday, 13 January 2010


[13.25 - French Time] Ben Stephenson, the controller of BBC drama commissioning, unveiled today the BBC's winter and spring 2010 drama lineup. But it seems that several long-running dramas will get the axe in order to make room for these new programmes, reports Maggie Brown for The Guardian.

There's no public list of the concerned shows for the moment but The Guardian writes that Holby City, Casualty, Waterloo Road and New Tricks - don't mess with Dennis Waterman - are thought to be safe ( Spooks will likely get a ninth series and the boring British version of Wallander has been recommissioned for a third series. I want a crossover where Section D of Thames House gets a suicide mission in Sweden.

Here are some of the dramas announced (BBC One if not precised otherwise):

- Luther: One of the most awaited by many specialists and TV buffs, because it's written by Neil Cross (The Fixer) and it stars Idris Elba (The Wire) as John Luther. Luther is described as "a near-genius murder detective whose brilliant mind can't always save him from the dangerous violence of his passions" (

Each episode of Luther (6 x 60-minute) focuses on the psychological duel between the detective and the criminal - the murderer's identity being known from the start. The Mentalist/Cracker/The Wire shaken not stirred?

- The Silence: A four-part drama from Australian writer Fiona Seres about a deaf 18-year old girl (severely deaf actress Genevieve Barr in her first major role) who witnesses the murder of a policewoman. Douglas Henshall (Primeval, Collision) plays her uncle - a homicide detective - and Dervla Kirwan plays her aunt. I hope it's not Mute Witness - The TV series because strictly on paper it looks interesting.

- The Deep: a five-part thriller starring James Nesbitt (Murphy's Law, Jekyll), Minnie Driver and Goran Visnjic (ER). The action follows the crew of an oceanographer's submarine below the Arctic ice. For James Nesbitt only.

There's of course the eagerly awaited series 31, er... series 1... I mean series 5 of Doctor Who, and the third series of Ashes to Ashes. Billie Piper stars in A Passionate Woman, written and produced by Kay Mellor (I guess Freema Agyeman or Lenora Crichlow were unavailable).

According to Maggie Brown a third series of Being Human has been commissioned by BBC Three for next autumn (which is great news). And the channel will show Lip Service (a Kudos production) about the lives of four young lesbians in Glasgow.

And BBC Four has Christopher Eccleston as John Lennon in one-off drama Lennon Naked. He looks fantastic as Lennon. Sometimes one-off dramas are more interesting than commissioned series. (Promo)

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Tuesday, 12 January 2010


Episode 2 of Hustle series 6 on BBC One yesterday evening. Albert (Robert Vaughn) takes a break and a plane to - where else? - Las Vegas. While the team is leaving the airport, Ash Morgan (Robert Glenister) is greeted by a face from his past, "Liability" Finch (Mark Benton), whose monicker is up to his incompetence as a burglar.

His latest job, a Van Gogh stolen in Brazil, caught the attention of a tenacious Head of Customs, Clifford Davis (Nick Sidi). But the painting is in a locker in a Brazilian airport and Finch requires the assistance of his old friend "Three Socks" and Mickey Stone's team to bring it back. Mickey (Adrian Lester) and Ash refuse but Sean (Matt Di Angelo) offers his help. Things go wrong for the unlikely tandem and Mickey is blackmailed by Davis. The super copper wants the gang to get the painting and con Finch or Sean will go to jail.

An uneven episode which should be to forget at once without the performances of Mark Benton as "Liability" Finch and Nick Sidi as unscrupulous Customs agent Davis. Add some nice comical scenes like the Brazilian Job opening sequence or the flashback with Ash and Finch - almost out of an Ashes to Ashes episode.

In fact the script seems to cope with shooting and budget issues. Mr Robert Vaughn gets some days off and it's understandable but the rest of the Hustle team works seldom united. The "ITC effect" of the move from London to Birmingham to contain production costs (and get welcome subventions) gets worse. At their peak, production values of ITC shows had the standards of a movie (i.e. The Persuaders) but at their lowest, Jason King could visit a France where all the inhabitants wore berets and he could drive his Bentley through Fontainebleau thanks to a screen.

No such obvious tricks in Hustle but the "disguise" of Birmingham as London, with the little help of a few London stock shots and one scene near The Gherkin, gives a surreal feeling to the story setting. Particularly in the airport(s) scenes (1): why was I expecting Roger Moore to pop up as Simon Templar when I saw the unsubtle London 2012 poster?

The description of the "Coffee scam" given to Liability by Mickey and his friends really breaks the momentum of the episode with one of these sequences much too light that almost killed the show in series 3 and 4. Hustle is a modern day Mission: Impossible with an exquisite British touch and a social subtext, not Minder.

At least Robert Glenister, Matt Di Angelo and Rob Jarvis (Eddie) have more presence than last week. Next time: Colin Baker.

Update (13.30 - French Time): Short head win for Hustle on BBC One vs a brand new Law & Order: UK episode on ITV1 at 9pm. 5.9m for our grifters and 5.7m for the British version of the Law & Order franchise. Kudos (the production company of both shows) competing against itself! (

(1) Shot actually at Doncaster Sheffield Airport (

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Monday, 11 January 2010


[11.00 - French Time] Just spotted on the blog of the great Lee Goldberg, writer, author, producer, TV historian, man of high culture and taste, etc. (you know the rest).

The trailer of The A-Team movie remake starring Liam Neeson. It looks like an SNL skit.


[7.00 - French Time] NBC announced yesterday some of its projects for the 2010-2011 season right after the official cancellation of their primetime Jay Leno experience. Among the pilots proposed we note:

- Prime Suspect: Remake of the British institution starring Helen Mirren as no-nonsense Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison, an uncompromising cop who works on the hardest cases in a male-dominated professional environment. The US version is produced by Universal Media Studios and ITV (owner of the original).

Who needs another unnecessary remake of a cult Brit show? Does Life on Mars US ring a bell to someone? The most important idea in the words "British show" is, well, "British".

- The Rockford Files: Talking about unnecessary... The remake of the classic starring the great James Garner as private investigator Jim Rockford. Wrongfully jailed but pardoned, Rockford lived in a mobile home (which doubled as his office) on a Malibu beach. The ultimate anti-hero was a creation of Roy Huggins and Stephen J. Cannell and the memorable theme of the show was composed by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter. James Garner came back as the character in the nineties for some TV-movies.

This pilot is from Universal Media Studios and Steve Carell's Carousel Productions. Will it rejoin the remakes of Bionic Woman and Knight Rider?

- The Event: A thriller with a storytelling device which consists in multiple points of view concerning an ordinary man who battles "against mysterious circumstances that envelope a larger conspiracy". Another US "High-concept" show attempt (remember The Nine?)

- Undercovers: What's in a name? This one is co-exec produced and co-written by J.J. Abrams (Lost, Mission Impossible III, the Star Trek reboot). "A domesticated husband and wife return from years in retirement and are re-activated as CIA agents. As they work together for the first time on new cases, they discover new aspects from their past - even as they re-ignite their passion for each other".

Chuck and Sarah - The 20 years itch? The sixties and seventies are over, you can't do a spy show straight (My Own Worst Enemy, anyone?) The wonderful Chuck - one of the rare NBC gems - is basically a comedy. But hey, this project is from J.J. Abrams.

- Kindreds: Another "unconventional kind of law practice" in a law drama from David E. Kelley. The man behind LA Law, The Practice, Boston Legal, etc. Maybe David Tennant (ex-Doctor Who) should wait before moving to Los Angeles as he's starring in a pilot called Rex is Not your Lawyer, or maybe NBC will be crowded with "unconventional" lawyers next season.

Talking about Law, there's also a Los Angeles version of the Law & Order franchise in the pipeline. Will Ed O'Neill star in it?


Sunday, 10 January 2010


She Who Must Be Read aka Nikki Finke announced today the hiring of Tim Adler, a veteran UK entertainment business journalist, as the editor of the new Deadline London which will start later this month at Nikki's

I'm looking forward to read Deadline London as you, loyal readers, know that the United Kingdom is one of my favourite "playgrounds".

Friday, 8 January 2010


Number Five, I mean. Your humble servant missed the news at the time: according to Doctor Who Magazine (DWM), a respected reference about The Doctor and the Whoniverse in general, series 5 of the contemporary version of the franchise now starring Matt Smith is produced and will be promoted as... series One (1).

Now Steven Moffat, the new showrunner, gives us the explanation in an interview published in the new DWM (417) and, well, it's complicated: « It's Series Thirty-One of Doctor Who, and it's Series One of Matt Smith's Doctor. Those are both real numbers. I submit that 'Series Five of Doctor Who' means absolutely nothing unless you really believe that Matt Smith is the Third Doctor. Everyone knows he's the Eleventh Doctor so that means it's definitely not 'Series Five'. Whichever number you choose, 'Series Five' is the one that's flawed. »

And he adds: « 'Series One' is an exciting sentence. 'Series Thirty-One' is an awe-inspiring sentence. 'Series Five' is a boring sentence - and also a complete lie. »

What is shown in the first trailer of (I'm sorry, I'm so sorry) series 5 recalls of series 1 (the series "one" with Christopher Eccleston, of course) and 2 - which is a good point. There is the young and dashing allure of Peter Davison in the latest promo picture of Matt Smith ( And it's another good point.

Is there something we should begin to worry about?

Very special thanks to Frank Collins (

(1) DWM 411 July 2009.


News about the French-speaking dubbing of two BBC series this week on the French version of this humble blog: Doctor Who and Survivors (the 2008 show).

We publish an interview of François Dubuc, author of the French dialogues of The Next Doctor, one of the Doctor Who specials. He's one of the two newly appointed permanent dubbing adapters (with Chantal Bugalski) and his work on his first special is praised by French-speaking fans, which is a premiere after years of difficulties on the adaptation front - to the point that your humble servant came to give some help as a consultant for series 3.

François Dubuc is familiar with important BBC shows as he's the co-author of the French-dialogues of The State Within and the way he came to work on Doctor Who with a lot of respect is very appreciated. (Part 1 - In French)
(Part 2 - In French)

And today we received information on the French-speaking dubbing of Survivors. Series 1 starts on French digital terrestrial channel NRJ12 next week (the same day BBC One starts series 2). The dubbing of Survivors benefits of an experimented and competent dubbing director and a first-class vocal casting. (In French)

Update (January 9): After their very interesting Tube Talk's Hustle Week, Digital Spy goes on with Tube Talk's Survivors Week - a series of interviews with actors of Survivors (

Thursday, 7 January 2010


[6.00 - French Time] Brilliant interview of showrunner Ed Bernero (CBS's Criminal Minds) by Diane Haithman on Nikki Finke's

You'll learn a lot about the strike, TV business, Criminal Minds and about what happened to his Hawaii Five-O remake script.

Nikki promises us more TV showrunners interviews by Haithman. This one is really a pleasant surprise.