Wednesday, 29 September 2010


[5.00 - French Time] Effective today we will note the TV show casualties of the US Network 2010-2011 season (this list will be updated when necessary):

- Lone Star (Fox) - Creator Kyle Killen's plea couldn't save it. After the counter-performance of its season premiere on monday, following House, the Hollywood television industry and TV pundits were already doing a choral post-mortem.

Episode 2 of this attempt to bring back the supersoap genre on network TV fell 23% from last week. In May, Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly described Lone Star as "a modern Dallas set against the Texas oil industry". It ends with such luminaries like Titans (2000) or Dirty Sexy Money (2007).

The fact that this kind of shows died in the nineties and that the main character is a bigamist con man who cheats hard-working ordinary people certainly didn't help.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010


[22.14 - French Time] In June The Los Angeles Times reported that Russell Crowe was attached to star in a movie remake of The Equalizer TV series. Now THR reports that screenwriter and director Paul Haggis (Casino Royale) could script and possibly direct this film.

Aired by CBS from 1985 to 1989, The Equalizer starred British actor Edward Woodward as former spy turned New York City vigilante Robert McCall. Robert Lansing played Control, his ex-boss and occasional employer.

Private eye and freelance operative, McCall helped people in dangerous situations. He found his clients through a newspaper ad: "Got a problem? Odds against you? Call the Equalizer." The Equalizer gave Woodward international recognition years after the role of tormented intelligence hitman David Callan made him a star in the UK with Callan (1967-1972).

According to THR, Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch of Escape Artists are producing the film along with Tony Eldridge of Lonetree Entertainment, Mace Neufeld, Alex Siskin and Michael Sloan (who co-created the original with Richard Lindheim).

Apparently The A-Team movie didn't vaccine the Hollywood studios against unneccessary and miscast remakes of 80s cult TV series.


Second week of the US network new Fall season. Tonight No Ordinary Family premieres on ABC.

In No Ordinary Family, Jim and Stephanie Powell (Michael Chiklis and Julie Benz) are trapped in a routine between their work and their two children, Daphne (Kay Panabaker) and JJ (Jimmy Bennett). During a family vacation trip set up by Jim in an attempt to reconnect, their plane crashes into the Amazon River. After this accident the Powell family members discover that each of them now possesses superpowers.

The plane crash idea is very "Fred Silverman's ABC" and sounds like the basis of The Champions (1968-1969), a Brit spy-fi/adventure series produced by ITC. But No Ordinary Family, created by Greg Berlanti and Jon Harmon Feldman, definitely looks like a live-action version of The Incredibles, or Heroes meets whatever family dramedy you want.

Monday, 27 September 2010


[7.00 - French Time] ITV1’s lavish period drama Downton Abbey, created and written by Oscar-winning writer Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park), started yesterday with a 90-minute opener.

Downton Abbey is set in an Edwardian country house in April 1912 and portrays the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who work for them. Robert, Earl of Grantham, and his American wife Cora, learn that Robert's first cousin James Crawley and his son Patrick, Lord Grantham's immediate heirs, died in the sinking of the Titanic (« I thought it was supposed to be unsinkable. ») The historic tragedy triggers a series of consequences for the family. Meanwhile John Bates, the new valet, arrives at Downton Abbey.

Credits must be given to screenwriter, novelist and actor Julian Fellowes, Carnival Films (Poirot) and ITV for this ambitious alternative to the growing legion of television police procedurals. The 1 x 90-minute and 6 x 60-minute drama has a budget around £1m per episode, topped up by Carnival based on estimated international sales. According to Broadcast, ITV is thought to be contributing about £700,000 an hour.

The cast is fantastic: Dame Maggie Smith (Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham), Hugh Bonneville (Robert), Elizabeth McGovern (Cora, Countess of Grantham), Penelope Wilton, Dan Stevens, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter, Phyllis Logan, Brendan Coyle, etc. The production values are gorgeous, starting with Berkshire's Highclere Castle where the cast and crew filmed for four months (with some scenes filmed by a second unit at Ealing Studios).

« I understand most of the ladies were taken off in time.
- You mean the ladies in First class. » (Carson and Robert)

Ironically, Downton Abbey is considered as ITV's answer to the BBC's upcoming revival of Upstairs, Downstairs and the comparison to the original (which ran on ITV from 1971 to 1975) is inevitable. But The Forsyte Saga (1967) didn't forbid Upstairs or The Pallisers (1974), it paved the way for them. And in Julian Fellowes's creation there are shades of The Remains of the Day (1993) and of course Gosford Park (2001).

Downton Abbey is breathtakingly filmed, the music by John Lunn is superb, Fellowes is a goldsmith when it comes to one-liners (« You're building a fire, not invent it. ») and the cast delivers what you expect from actors of such caliber. However the premiere indulges itself into a (very) long story development, switching gear only within the last 15 minutes to convince the viewer that he wants more.

Or more gloomy crime dramas. This not only the future of the Crawley family which is at stake with Downton Abbey.

Downton Abbey is a Carnival Films/Masterpiece co-production.

See also:

Sunday, 26 September 2010


New Tricks - Left Field (Series Seven, Episode Three - BBC One). John Davies, a notorious paedophile, wants to make a confession about the abduction and murder of a five-year-old boy 25 years after the tragedy. The reopening of the case leads UCOS to revisit political activism of the eighties and to pay a visit at MI5's headquarters!

Five-year-old Yasser Blackledge disappeared while on a demo with his parents, left-wing activists Anne Gorton (Samantha Bond) and Fred Blackledge (Kevin R. McNally). At the time, a press "witch hunt" against Anne and Fred clouded the investigation and, while Davies (Adrian Schiller) was known to the couple through various rallies and meetings, it couldn't be proven that he had abducted their son. Sandra (Amanda Redman) and Jack (James Bolam) suspect his confession is an attempt to return to the relative safety of a prison cell.

« How is this for a title: The Secret War on Modern men.
- Ouh, sounds good.
- Stick to your cookbooks, Gerry.
- Yeah. You'd like that, wouldn't you? Me tied to a kitchen sink, seen and not heard. » (Brian, Gerry and Sandra)

New Tricks has always been the police procedural with a difference. In Left Field, written brilliantly by Lisa Holdsworth (Waterloo Road), past the usual cold case premise you find 1980s militantism, gender politics ("Feminazi"), good old Dr Grafenberg (« The inventor of the G-spot. And I do mean the inventor. »), Dennis Waterman's Gerry Standing at his very best (« Book me in for a Brazilian! ») and hilarious nods to Spooks and some sixties spy classics.

One of the highlights of the episode is Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong) and Gerry going to MI5 headquarters to consult surveillance files and notes (« Nice piles, neat piles. »), with the entire cooperation of "the spooks" except for access to the nearest tea machine and the loos! And those headquarters are actually the magnificent Freemasons' Hall, the London building which dubs as MI-5 headquarters in BBC's hit Spooks. The composer even pays a subtle tribute to John Barry's famous theme for The Ipcress File (1965).

Another summit is when Esther Lane, played by Susan Jameson, puts an end to one of Brian's antics as he believes MI5 spies on him because of his wife's past political activities («Would you like to talk about what ruined your career?») The cast is superb, particularly Samantha Bond, and the direction of this instant classic by Philip John is excellent. (Lisa Holdsworth's blog) (Interview)

Friday, 24 September 2010


[11.29 - French Time] British film and television BAFTA winner composer Geoffrey Burgon has died. He was 69.

Geoffrey Burgon composed the score for the Monty Python's movie Life of Brian in 1979. For television he scored two Doctor Who serials in the seventies, as well as the BBC's adaptations of the Narnia saga (1988-1989), Longitude (2000), and the 2003 version of The Forsyte Saga.

But his absolute TV masterpieces are the soundtracks for the Beeb's dramatisation of John le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979), starring Alec Guinness, and Brideshead Revisited (1981).

Nunc Dimmitis, the magnificent and memorable closing theme of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, is a very personal favourite of your humble servant. (Nunc Dimmitis) (Brideshead Revisited)


[6.41 - French Time] Yesterday ITV announced the cast and start of principal photography on Monroe, a new six-part medical drama series starring James Nesbitt (The Deep, Occupation, Jekyll). With The Oaks and DCI Banks, Monroe is one of the dramas meant to replace The Bill - axed by ITV1 after 27 years on screen.

Monroe, a drama created and written by Peter Bowker (Desperate Romantics, Occupation), is about Gabriel Monroe (Nesbitt), a brilliant and unconventional neurosurgeon. "A flawed genius who never lets anyone forget his flaws or his genius", said an ITV press release in May. This new drama focuses on its main character rather than an ensemble (like in other British medical dramas), there will be dark humour, and in March Peter Bowker told The Guardian that he hoped Monroe would match House in dramatic intensity.

James Nesbitt is joined by Sarah Parish (Mistresses) as cardiac surgeon Jenny Bremner - who has contempt for Monroe's apparent arrogance, Tom Riley (Bouquet of Barbed Wire, Lost in Austen) as anaesthetist Dr Laurence Shepherd, Manjinder Virk as registrar Sally Fortune, and Susan Lynch (Elizabeth: The Golden Age) as Anna, Gabriel’s wife. Michelle Asante and Luke Allen-Gale play Kitty Wilson and Daniel Springer, Monroe's two new trainees.

The 6 x 60-minute series is produced by Mammoth Screen, the indie behind Peter Bowker's adaptation of Wuthering Heights for ITV, and co-produced by Ingenious Broadcasting and Capico Productions. It's executive produced for ITV by Michele Buck, Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen, and Peter Bowker. Jennie Scanlon is the producer and Howard Ella is co-producer.

Paul McGuigan (Sherlock) directs the first three episodes and David Moore (Merlin, The Forsyte Saga) directs episodes four, five and six. Filming of this highly anticipated drama begins this week on location in Leeds and James Nesbitt certainly needs this to erase the memory of the lacklustre The Deep, recently aired on BBC One.

We don't know yet if Monroe will be sponsored by Vicodin or how we're gonna call Monroe and Bremmer: Monner? Bremmoe?

See also:

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


[6.52 - French Time] First week of the US network new Fall season, Day 3.

The Hollywood television industry and TV pundits are already doing a post-mortem on Fox's Lone Star after its season premiere's counter-performance on monday, following House. Well, maybe the fact that this kind of shows died with Dallas and Dynasty in the nineties and the fact that the main character is a bigamist con man who cheats hard-working ordinary people didn't help. Gregory House is the quintessence of flaw but at least he saves lives.

Yesterday Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos) was a cop in Detroit 1-8-7 on ABC. Imperioli was the only watchable element in Life on Mars US, too bad he wasn't cast as Gene Hunt. His temporary stint in Law and Order as a Detective was brilliant and small screen is not big enough for his talent. Besides that and judging from the trailers, Detroit 1-8-7 looks like another average cop show. Because CBS can't have them all.

But tonight the event is on NBC (pun intended) with Undercovers, co-exec produced by J.J. Abrams - who directs the pilot. Former spies Steven and Samantha Bloom (Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw) return to active duty in order to rekindle their relationship. After Chuck another spy comedy for NBC, in the mold of True Lies or Mr & Mrs Smith.

There's a True Lies TV series project, a 2010 version of Nikita on the CW and ABC wants a remake of Brit hit Spooks (MI-5 in the US). But spy-fi is an expensive genre, ask the producers of Spooks. And past mandatory lavish pilots you can't make your leads chase terrorists on a backlot forever. However if Nikita and Undercovers bomb that will spare us a reboot of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Jim Belushi and Jerry O'Connell star in The Defenders, tonight on CBS, as "two colorful Las Vegas defense attorneys who go all-in when it comes to representing their clients". The title sounds sixties and the concept sounds eighties but at least, unlike CSI, NCIS or Criminal Minds, it's neither a cop show nor a franchise. The duo Belushi/O'Connell looks interesting, now it depends on how this comedy-drama is written. And your humble servant misses Las Vegas (2003-2008).

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


[6.47 - French Time] Spooks - MI-5 in the US - is back for its ninth series on BBC One (Monday, 9pm). Another agent is dead, there's a wedding proposal, Harry Pearce has a drink with an old friend and wants to resign. There are newbies in the MI-5 Section D (counter-terrorism), which must deal with a sea threat hiding something sneakier.

Sir Harry (Peter Firth) is deeply affected by the tragic and explosive death of one of his operatives and when he learns that a trusted friend is responsible he decides to have a heartbreaking conversation with him. Anyway the surviving members of Section D have no time to mourn their colleague.

There's a new political regime but it's business as usual, when Lucas North (Richard Armitage) is aboard a ship in Tangier to assassinate a terrorist. His job is interrupted by Somali pirates, actually members of a terrorist cell, who have transformed the ship into a floating bomb. Unless the whole thing is a decoy for something more sly, masterminded directly from London.

Spooks used to be a highly sophisticated spy drama where everything could happen within a certain degree of realism which was part of its appeal. But the format is worn out since a couple of series and its distinctive trademark of killing regular or semi-regular characters is now a gimmick. "In the long run, we are all dead" said John Maynard Keynes.

There's a relapse of the "old" Spooks in the premiere's pre-credits sequence, with the funeral and the beautiful lecarréesque Scottish abridged conversation. Lucas North meets new team members Dimitri Levendes (Max Brown) and Beth Bailey (Sophia Myles) and everybody save London from two explosives submersibles with the help of an EMP bomb hidden beneath the Houses of Parliament! It's Bugs (1995-1999) minus the humour.

When he's not playing the soap opera spy, Richard Armitage is very bondian. Should there be another series of Spooks (but would it be reasonable?) he would be the busiest operative of the British television industry, as Sky1 has commissioned a second series of Chris Ryan's Strike Back. Provided Lucas survives this ninth series of Spooks, of course. In the long run...

Monday, 20 September 2010


[6.56 - French Time] Tonight is THE night. Fall US Network season officially starts with five new shows: one on Fox (Lone Star), two on NBC (The Event and Chase) and two on CBS (Mike & Molly and Hawaii Five-O).

- Lone Star (Fox) is another attempt to bring back the supersoap genre on network television. In May, Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly described Lone Star as "a modern Dallas set against the Texas oil industry". We'll see if it ends with such luminaries like Titans (2000) or Dirty Sexy Money (2007), or if it worths the beginning of a comparison with Dallas. On cable, TNT has ordered a pilot for an update of the latter. Please someone tell Hollywoodland the 1980s are over.

- On NBC, the new conspiracy thriller The Event follows renewed Chuck. The pick-up of another "high concept show" after the predictable demise of ABC's FlashForward remains a mystery stronger than the pitch of this hyped new drama. Even those who celebrated FlashForward as the Second Coming (i.e. the new Lost) are cautious on this one but apparently Fox has a new high concept project, helmed by Ryan Murphy and Howard Gordon. Please someone tell Hollywood the 1990s are over.

The Event is followed by Jerry Bruckheimer's Chase, about US marshals chasing fugitives.

- But tonight The Event is not the event... On CBS, new sitcom Mike & Molly will be followed by the heavily promoted (no pun intended) modern version of Hawaii Five-O. Alex O'Loughlin (Moonlight, Three Rivers) plays Steve McGarrett, a decorated Naval officer who returns to Oahu to investigate his father’s murder. He stays in Hawaii as a cop with his own task force.

The trailers show us basically an action-packed buddy movie, or Hawaiian Heat (a forgotten 1984 cop drama) with explosions and VFX - can they emulate Jerry Bruckeimer's movies every week? Scott Caan seems to steal the show as the new Danny Williams, which is rather embarassing because McGarrett was the epitome of charisma as played by Jack Lord in the original (1968-1980). Please someone tell... oh, whatever.

Saturday, 18 September 2010


New Tricks - It Smells of Books (Series Seven, Episode Two - BBC One). Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong) is barred from his noisy, disorderly local public library because he loudly expressed his disapproval. His wife Esther (Susan Jameson) takes him to the more old-fashioned, respectful and calm London Library.

When Brian discovers that a London Library membership card is listed among the personal affects of a cold case victim, he wastes no time volunteering to go undercover there. The Unsolved Crime And Open Case Squad (UCOS) reinvestigates the death of Dr Richard Symes, a university professor who died falling from the roof of his college three years ago.

« Silence! This is a bloody library! » (Brian)

Symes was the head of the Department of the History and Philosophy of Science, London Municipal University and an authority on Botanical sciences in the 18th century (« I've solved this already. He died of boredom. » - Gerry). This allows scriptwriter J.C. Wilsher to have some great fun on a territory which is familiar to him. Wilsher, actually Dr John Charles Wilsher, was a researcher at Lancaster University before becoming a writer and the creator of the acclaimed police drama Between the Lines (1992-1994).

« That's a bit posh. I've never met a rich widow.
- She doesn't own the business, she just works here.
- Well, maybe someday. » (Gerry and Sandra)

Brian Lane reinvents himself as "another member of the intelligentsia", much to his wife's irritation (« Why not go the whole hog and become a monk! You already got the haircut. ») as she's worrying about cracks (!) in their house. Jeremy Ventham, the college principal (Jonathan Cullen), claims that the victim was caught stealing valuable books and Symes'widow, Paula (Beth Goddard), is an antiquarian bookseller.

Gerry (Dennis Waterman) is skeptical: « Nicking library books is hardly a criminal conspiracy, is it? I can't see middle class professional people killing each other over it. » Especially when Brian says he's being spied on (« This is not about my medication! ») But a Traité des arbres fruitiers by Henri Duhamel was sold for 4.5 million dollars, explains Lane to his colleagues (« Worth nicking, eh? ») He finds the key of the enigma in a book of Edgar Allan Poe, there's a very medieval use of rolling stacks, and Jack Halford (James Bolam) wants to apply to a university as a mature student.

Directed superbly by veteran director Martyn Friend, It Smells of Books is a brilliant episode written with style and balance, where each main character has its share of great lines and moments. And it's always a treat to watch such talents like Anne Reid and David Ryall. New Tricks won the 9pm slot yesterday with 7 million viewers against ITV1's new chat show Paul O'Grady Live (3,5 million) (1). We'll see to what extent budget arbitration can allow more episodes of this quality in this 10-episode seventh series.

« You know, when we were still on the job, Brian applied to a university as a mature student.
- Really? What happened?
- They interviewed him.
- Oh. » (Jack and Sandra)


Friday, 17 September 2010


[12.28 - French Time] As we wrote this month a French TV channel has bought Lasko - The Fist of God (Lasko - Die Faust Gottes), the action/adventure hit series produced by Hermann Joha's production company action concept for private broadcaster RTL.

Brother Lasko (Mathis Landwehr) is a young monk from Pugnus Dei, an ancestral secret monastic order fighting for justice with the help of martial arts. With his faithful and epicurian friend Brother Gladius (Stephan Bieker) and BKA agent Sophia von Erlen (Simone Hanselmann) he faces Ares an occult lodge within the Vatican.

We are told Lasko - Die Faust Gottes will be aired in France by DTT pubcaster France 4. And the French-speaking dubbing, produced by Agent Double - Belgium's best dubbing company, promises to be excellent. The dubbing cast has been aptly chosen: Alexandre Crepet is Lasko, Isabelle Paternotte is Sophia von Erlen. Jean Michel Vovk is Hans Keller, Sophia's boss played by André Hennicke.

One of the key elements of the cast choice was certainly the comic relief character of Gladius, who often steals the show thanks to Stephan Bieker: it's the talented Philippe Allard (Mickey Smith in Doctor Who and Rhys in Torchwood) who dubs Bieker.

Xavier Varaillon, Daniel Danglard and Isabelle Frances are currently writing the French-speaking dialogues.

(C) Thierry Attard


The New York Times has published a wonderful piece written by American actor Stephen Tobolowsky about the nature and the function of a character actor.

A character actor is supposed to be the actor everybody knows the face but ignores the name. Stephen Tobolowsky quotes actor and writer Larry Miller: "The definition of a character actor is anyone in the movie not kissing Renée Zellweger."

« I am a character actor: the perfect combination of ubiquity and anonymity, » writes Stephen. And evoking the names of Kevin McCarthy, Carl Gordon, Maury Chaykin, James Gammon and Harold Gould, he adds: « There is one thing that Kevin, Carl, Maury, James, Harold, Larry and I have in common: we have all played parts that didn’t have names. »

Read that great piece written with all the intelligence, the humour and the sensibility of one of the most brilliant and interesting contemporary American actors. You can also hear Stephen Tobolowsky in The Tobolowsky Files, a podcast series of stories about "life, love, and the entertainment industry".

Thursday, 16 September 2010


While French viewers are still waiting for Doctor's Diary (2008), German channel RTL's multi-awarded hit series is aired in French on Quebecer channel Séries+ since the end of August.

Often described as a mix between Grey's Anatomy and Bridget Jones, the show is about the sentimental and professional tribulations of a young doctor, Margarethe "Gretchen" Haase (Diana Amft). Adolf Grimme Award winner Bora Dagtekin (Türkisch für Anfänger/Turkish for Beginners) is responsible for the concept and headwriting.

Announced by France's leader channel TF1 last year for its 2009-2010 lineup, Doctor's Diary - Männer sind die beste Medizin is now set for 2010-2011. Doctor's Diary - aka Le Journal de Meg in French-speaking territories - is produced for RTL by Polyphon and Austrian ORF. The show is distributed by Telepool and brilliantly dubbed in French by Belgian dubbing company Agent Double (Alarm für Cobra 11, Being Erica).


[11.15 - French Time] The BBC Trust, the Corporation's governance and regulatory body, has today announced that the Beeb will freeze its £142.50 licence fee until 2013.

The BBC is giving up a planned 2% increase in March next year and the chance of a smaller rise in 2012. The BBC Trust warned that it is likely to mean cuts in TV and radio programming budgets, as the freeze will take £144m out of the BBC budget and "will require some on-air changes", reports The Guardian this morning.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

HAROLD GOULD (1923-2010)

American actor Harold Gould died on saturday aged 86. Shortly after Kevin McCarthy, Hollywood loses another of its finest character actors. Gould appeared in film and television for nearly 50 years.

Of course he played Rhoda’s father Martin Morgenstern in both The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda, and Miles Webber in The Golden Girls and The Golden Palace, but he was also a familiar figure of practically every TV shows from the Golden era of US network television.

Harold Gould portrayed with absolute brilliance one of the most notable villains of the original Hawaii Five-O, vengeful crime syndicate patriarch Honore Vashon, in the trilogy V for Vashon (1972) and The Case against McGarrett (1975). On the ABC anthology series Love, American Style, Gould played the role of Howard Cunningham in the segment called Love and the Happy Days (1972). When Happy Days became a series in 1974, with Ron Howard and Henry Winkler, Gould was replaced by Tom Bosley.

His movie credits include The Sting (1973) - where he was Kid Twist, Woody Allen's Love and Death (1975), and Patch Adams (1998).


[14.16 -French Time] BBC One controller Jay Hunt will join Channel 4 in January as Chief Creative Officer.

Channel 4 has today confirmed that BBC One's Jay Hunt will become its new programming boss in January. The announcement follows speculation at the MediaGuardian International Television Festival that the BBC One controller could move to C4.

The BBC's director of vision, Jana Bennett, will take temporary charge of BBC One following Hunt's departure. Candidates for the vacant post include BBC Three controller Danny Cohen. Deadline London's Tim Adler reports that Cohen has already been promised the job for promising not to apply for CCO position at Channel 4.

Monday, 13 September 2010


[20.01 - French Time]'s Nellie Andreeva reports exclusively that James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV are developing a television series adapted from Cameron's 1994 action-comedy blockbuster True Lies.

True Lies starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis, and was based on the 1991 French comedy film La Totale! directed by Claude Zidi. The 1994 movie centered on Harry Tasker (Schwarzenegger), a government spy whose wife (Curtis) believes he's a boring computer salesman and embarks on an affair with a car salesman who pretends to be a spy.

We'll see how much the reception of Nikita, which premiered last week on the CW, or of the upcoming J.J. Abrams new NBC series Undercovers (September 22) will affect the enthusiasm of the US networks for the spy-fi/comedy genre or for spy-fi in general.


[15.44 - French Time] ITV1 has commissioned a major drama about the sinking of the Titanic.

The miniseries, edited in 4 x 60-minute and 2 x 90-minute versions, will be timed to air around the 100th anniversary of the tragedy and will be penned by English actor, novelist, film director and Oscar-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park).

It will be produced by Deep Indigo Productions (Bleak House), ITV Studios and co-produced by Lookout Point. Broadcast reports that post production and all CGI and digital effects will be produced in Canada and that talks with potential international partners, including the US, are underway.

Another major project written by Fellowes, Downton Abbey (1 x 90-minute and 6 x 60-minute), will be aired this month on ITV1.

KEVIN MCCARTHY (1914-2010)

American actor Kevin McCarthy has passed away at the age of 96.

McCarthy will be forever remembered as Dr. Miles Bennell from sci-fi classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), or for his role in the Long live Walter Jameson episode of Twilight Zone (1960). But with a career that has spanned seven decades, he was one of the most enduring character actors of the US television industry and a familiar face of film director Joe Dante's work.

Kevin McCarthy appeared in many major primetime television series from the 50s to the 90s: The Man from UNCLE, The Wild Wild West, Mission: Impossible, Columbo, Dynasty, The A-Team, Murder, She Wrote, etc. He often played (exquisitely) the villain.

His movie credits include Death of a Salesman (1951), for which he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar and won a Golden Globe Award. But also The Misfits (1961), The Howling (1981) or Innerspace (1987).

French TV buffs particularly remember him for the character of Claude Weldon in Flamingo Road (1980-1982).

Saturday, 11 September 2010


Preceded by a superb tribute to EastEnders's legendary Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor), New Tricks came back yesterday on BBC One for a seventh series.

Douglas Anderson, a financier based in Hong Kong before retiring back in the UK, died of a heart attack after disturbing a burglar and an ensuing struggle at his home two years ago. When psychic Sebastian Carter (Paul Rhys) reveals to Anderson's daughter (Alice Patten) that there's some unfinished business surrounding her father's death, UCOS reluctantly reopens the investigation. And DS Pullman (Amanda Redman) is stunned when Carter challenges her about her newly discovered brother, Tom (Jo Stone-Fewings).

A suprisingly slow and disappointing premiere. Dead Man Talking is written and directed by Julian Simpson, who yet wrote The Truth is Out There, one of the best episodes of series six. Fortunately Brian's antics save the episode, thanks to the talented Alun Armstrung - who shares one of those wonderful scenes with Susan Jameson (Brian's wife). And there's also a great Sandra/Gerry moment (« Not you, Gerry! The bloody car! ») But guest David Bradley is regrettably underused.

The intrigue itself was Bergerac without the charms of Jersey and the series needs more outdoor location scenes before it starts feeling claustrophobic. We'll see next week if everything is still "alright and OK" or if New Tricks is now the ghost of its former self.

Thursday, 9 September 2010


Unlike NBC, which spared us temporarily another pathetic remake of a television classic when it passed (for now) a new Rockford Files, CBS and the CW stick to their new takes on Hawaii Five-O and Nikita. Tonight premieres the latter, starring Maggie Q (Mission Impossible III) in the title role.

Nikita began as a 1990 movie directed by Luc Besson, with Anne Parillaud as a young criminal woman trained to be an assassin by a top-secret government agency. 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 Peta Wilson as Nikita. Quebecer superstar Roy Dupuis played Michael, Eugene Robert Glazer was "Operations" - ruthless head of Section One, Alberta Watson (The Sweet Hereafter) was his right-hand woman Madeline, etc.

Cancelled in 2001, the show still has a strong cult following and influenced series like Alias (2001), 24 (2001), or Spooks (2002). The 2010 Nikita is co-exec produced by McG (Charlie's Angels, Chuck) and its pilot is directed by Danny Cannon. The premise: Nikita, the best assassin of an undercover agency called The Division, goes rogue and her former employers want her back at any price before she destroys them. Meanwhile, young Alex (Lindsy Fonseca) becomes the Division's newest recruit after her death is faked by the agency.

Among the other cast members, Shane West is the new Michael, Xander Berkeley is Percy, boss of The Division, and Melinda Clarke is Amanda. The new Nikita is already known for its racy ad campaign and the stir caused across America by the billboards featuring Maggie Q. "Looks do kill" tells the slogan, and the trailers stake all on the show's most valuable visual assets.

La Femme Nikita was a dark sophisticated spy thriller with great dialogues and deep characterization. If Nikita misses her target maybe they could call Peta Wilson... The CW tried that with Heather Locklear on the 2009 version of Melrose Place.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010


[19.14 - French Time] A French TV channel has bought Lasko - The Fist of God (Lasko - Die Faust Gottes), the action/adventure series produced by Hermann Joha's production company action concept for private broadcaster RTL.

Brother Lasko (Mathis Landwehr) is a young monk from Pugnus Dei ("The Fist of God" in Latin), an ancestral secret monastic order fighting for justice with the help of martial arts. With his loyal and epicurian friend Brother Gladius (Stephan Bieker) and BKA agent Sophia von Erlen (Simone Hanselmann) he faces Ares an occult lodge within the Vatican, which will stop at nothing to achieve its plans.

With an estimated budget of around 1 million euros per episode for its first season, the spectacular ratings and market shares of Lasko - Die Faust Gottes didn't guarantee the return of one of the best TV shows produced in Germany. RTL wisely asked a cautious script development process before a go for season two. Finally eight new episodes were commissioned and filmed from April to August.

Preparation work for the French-speaking dubbing of Lasko - The Fist of God has started. Meanwhile the new season of action concept's Alarm for Cobra 11 (Alarm für Cobra 11 - Die Autobahnpolizeï) starts tomorrow on RTL, which airs the show since 1996.

(C) Thierry Attard