Monday, 29 November 2010

LESLIE NIELSEN (1926-2010)

Versatile Canadian-born actor Leslie Nielsen has died at the age of 84.

He spent the first half of a long movie and TV career playing heroes, law enforcement officers, authority figures and even villains. Before conscienciously wrecking this dramatic persona during the second half, for his own delectation and the joy of millions of moviegoers around the world.

Leslie Nielsen started on TV in some 1950s anthology dramas. While a contract player for MGM he played the spaceship commander in the movie Forbidden Planet (1956) but asked to be released two years later. Then the actor worked mostly for television: he starred in Disney's Swamp Fox (1959-1961) and played Lieutenant Price Adams in The New Breed (1961-1962), a crime show produced by Quinn Martin. Later he starred as another cop in a segment of The Bold Ones called The Protectors (1969-1970).

But during two decades Hollywood used Nielsen as a reliable but typecast character actor, particularly in a long list of TV guest spots. Until director/writer trio Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker gave him the role of hapless Dr. Rumack in their movie Airplane! (1980), a spoof of aerial disaster films. There he draw attention to his comedic nature and his ability to deliver deadpan lines. The trio brought the formula to television with Leslie Nielsen as incompetent detective Frank Drebin in Police Squad! (1982).

In this hilarious ABC comedy series, Nielsen spoofed his no-nonsense cop roles in a bizarro version of the Quinn Martin or Jack Webb productions. The network quickly cancelled the show but Police Squad! acquired a cult status which led to a cinema spin-off, The Naked Gun: From the files of Police Squad! (1988). Nielsen returned as Drebin and after almost 40 years in the industry he enjoyed a worldwide popularity thanks to the hit movie and its two sequels, The Naked Gun 2 ½: The Smell of Fear (1991) and Naked Gun 33 ⅓: The Final Insult (1994).

Proclaimed "King of spoof" by many of his global fans, Leslie Nielsen gave the Drebin treatment to Dracula in Mel Brooks's Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), James Bond in Spy Hard (1996), The Fugitive in Wrongfully Accused (1998) or to President George W. Bush in Scary Movie 3 (2004) and 4 (2006). But in the last years of his career he also successfully toured the US in a "serious" one-man show as the great American lawyer Clarence Darrow.

Thursday, 25 November 2010


[10.22 - French Time] Broadcast reports that Ashley Pharoah and Matthew Graham (Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes) have co-written a 6 X 60-minute drama for ITV about two angels sent to Earth as lawyers.

Eternal Law is co-produced by their indie Monastic Productions with Kudos Film and Television. It is centered around two angels, named Zak and Tom, who are sent on Earth to assist in the salvation of Mankind as lawyers in a York law firm.

Their mission is imperilled when they come up against an old adversary, dark angel Richard Pembroke, and when one of the angels is reunited with a woman he fell in love with on a previous visit.

The new drama is is exec produced by Jane Featherstone, Simon Crawford-Collins and Alison Jackson for Kudos, with Ashley Pharoah and Matthew Graham for Monastic. Georgina Lowe is the producer.

Eternal Law will go into production in February 2011. Broadcast's piece doesn't tell if the two angels are actually two living Manchester coppers undercover.!/MonasticProds

Saturday, 20 November 2010


Since 1980 Children in Need, the British Charity appeal, offers each year great moments of television for a great cause. Presented by Sir Terry Wogan with Tess Daly and Fearne Cotton, BBC One's star-studded 2010 edition of "The Greatest fundraising show on Earth" had everything you can expect from CIN and more.

The Great British public and numerous personalities united to raise money for the important cause of children. Chris Evans joined window cleaner Paul Wright to clean the windows on One Canada Square, Britain's tallest building. The cast of Merlin showed their hilarious bloopers. Matt Smith and Karen Gillan invited two youngsters for a tea party in the TARDIS before revealing a teaser for the much awaited Doctor Who Christmas special.

Strictly Come Dancing went pop for a Children in Need special presented by Tess Daly, with judges Craig Revel Horwood, Len Goodman, Sir Terry Wogan and Pudsey. Soap fans were treated with a glorious crossover between EastEnders and Corrie - including a rendition of You're the one that I want by the great Shane Richie with Kym Marsh. As promised by Sir Terry (« A night when television history will be made »), this one-off summit meeting was one of the best segments of the evening.

The multi-talented John Barrowman presented a musical fundraiser show live from Glasgow. BBC female newsreaders and journalists delivered their annual special performance: this year a Lady Gaga musical number, with a little help of their male colleagues and choreographer Louie Spence. The "Dragons" of Dragon's Den tested their entrepreneurial spirit in the kitchen for Come Dine with the Dragons. And The Hairy Bikers gave us another highlight of the night when they sang Meat Loaf's classic A Bat Out Of Hell.

Cheryl Cole, the stars of Harry Potter, Kylie Minogue, JLS (performing Love You More, the official 2010 CIN single), Susan Boyle, Take That, ITV's Loose Women, John Owen-Jones (amazing Phantom of the Opera) and many others were there too. The awesome London Gay Men's Chorus Far from Kansas illuminated the night throughout the event.

See also: (Far from Kansas)!/johnowenjones

Friday, 19 November 2010


Since 1980 Children in Need, the British Charity appeal, offers each year great moments of television for a great cause.

Tonight on BBC One, the event will be hosted by Sir Terry Wogan, Tess Daly and Fearne Cotton. And it will be of course the occasion to have a look to a preview of the Doctor Who Christmas special.

Cheryl Cole, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, Kylie Minogue, Alex Jones, John Barrowman and Take That (with the return Robbie Williams) are among the many personalities announced.

BBC One Friday 19 November (Starting 7pm - British Time). Note that there will be a Mastermind Children in Need Special on BBC Two at 10pm.

See also:

Thursday, 18 November 2010


[12.05 - French Time] Broadcast reports today that ITV has commissioned a three-part thriller adapted from What To Do When Someone Dies, the novel by bestseller crime writer duo Nicci French (Nicci Gerrard and Sean French).

Anna Friel (Pushing Daisies) stars as a widowed schoolteacher coming to terms with the death of her husband in a horrific car accident while travelling with a mystery female passenger who died with him. Unable to accept her husband’s infidelity, she borrows her best friend’s identity to infiltrate the mystery woman’s workplace and discover who she was.

Sally Head (Prime Suspect, Cracker) exec produce for Sally Head Productions (Tipping the Velvet) and the 3 x 60-minute drama will be filmed on location in Manchester and London in spring 2011. With What To Do When Someone Dies ITV add another novel adaptation to its recent crime line-up, after DCI Banks, Vera (starring Brenda Blethyn), The Suspicions of Mr Whicher or the two-part drama based on Sophie Hannah's The Point Of Rescue.

In 2002 ITV aired TV versions of Nicci French's Beneath the Skin and The Safe House. Three years later David Tennant starred in Secret Smile, an ITV two-part drama based on their novel.

See also:


1963 - When the GP of a small Welsh mining village dies, his replacement isn't quite what the locals expect: Dr Prem Sharma arrives from Delhi with his glamorous wife Kamini, under a NHS recruitment programme of highly-qualified Indian doctors. But surprise is on both sides because Kamini isn't happy about the situation, as she rather wished for the bright lights of London.

The Indian Doctor is a five-part daytime drama aired all this week on BBC One to mark the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Swinging Sixties (with Rewind The Sixties, presented by singer Lulu). It is created by Tom Ware and Deep Sehgal, written by Bill Armstrong and directed by Tim Whitby and Deep Sehgal. It stars the talented Sanjeev Bhaskar (Goodness Gracious Me, The Kumars at No. 42) as Prem.

South Wales in 1963. Trefelin, a mining village, loses its local doctor but gets a replacement thanks to a massive recruitment campaign of Indian doctors encouraged by health minister Enoch Powell. The villagers are completely ignorant about Indians and are briefed through an information film and "valuable cultural insight" from the screening of The Millionairess (1960), with Sophia Loren and Peter Sellers!

High-flying Dehli graduate Prem Sharma, the new GP, sees his enthusiasm watered down by his regal wife Kamini (« What do you expect me to do? Cook? »), who had other ambitions and urges him to leave the place quickly after their arrival. Kamini Sharma is played brilliantly by Ayesha Dharker (Outsourced, Coronation Street). Other cast members include Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter franchise) as Richard Sharpe, the Coal Board's local manager with an hidden diary problem.

« Though the story does involve race, I don't think it's about racism. It's more about curiosity and preconceptions, » explains Sanjeev Bhaskar. The Indian Doctor is a wonderful, intelligent and subtle rural comedy-drama in the mold of Doc Martin. Far from the hype of high-profile big signature primetime projects with stunt castings, it is the pleasant surprise of this end of the year. And another treasure in Bhaskar's resume after that unsung gem which is Mumbai Calling (2007).

The Indian Doctor is a Rondo and Avatar production for the BBC. Tom Ware and Deep Sehgal exec produce, Gerard Melling is executive producer for the Beeb and Cliff Jones is the producer. The 5 X 45-minute series is filmed in Wales with the support of the Wales Creative IP Fund and the Welsh Assembly Government.

See also:

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


[12.03 - French Time] Borys Kit reports in his Heat Vision blog that Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brockovich, Ocean's Eleven) is in early talks to direct the long-in-development movie adaptation of the cult classic The Man From U.N.C.L.E. TV series.

The original Man from U.N.C.L.E. ran on NBC from 1964 to 1968 and was a product of the 60s James Bond craze. It followed the adventures of two spies, Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Illya Kuriakin (David McCallum), working for U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement). They received their assignments from Alexander Waverly (Leo G. Carroll) and fought an evil organization named Thrush.

In the heyday of the show, co-producer MGM released theatrical movie compilations of episodes with extra footage and there was a spin-off series, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. (1966-1967), with Stefanie Powers as April Dancer. Solo & Kuriakin and Dancer even appeared respectively in two episodes of a NBC/MGM sitcom called Please don't eat the Daisies (1965-1967).

Vaughn and McCallum returned as the U.N.C.L.E. agents in The Return of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. - The Fifteen Years Later Affair, a 1983 backdoor pilot for CBS, which unfortunately didn't pick up the series. Three years later they played "disguised" versions of their characters in an episode of The A-Team's fifth season - where Robert Vaughn was a regular.

With Steven Soderbergh helming the 2010 U.N.C.L.E. movie project for Warner Bros, does that mean we can expect George Clooney as Napoleon and Matt Damon as Illya? Clooney would not be a bad choice at all for the cool and suave Mr Solo, as long as Soderbergh's film doesn't recall the painful memory of the calamitous 2002 cinema adaptation of I Spy with Eddie Murphy.

See also:

Friday, 12 November 2010


[18.21 - French Time] Craig Ferguson, comedian and host of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS, announced on his Twitter that his Tuesday 16 show will be a Doctor Who special.

"Tuesday(16) I am having a Dr Who special with @nerdist and Matt Smith. @jimmyfallon has Springsteen."

And today he added: "Confirmed Dalek for Dr Who special on Tues 16. For those who don't know Daleks are bitter grumpy aliens. Remind you of anyone?"

We're looking forward for a confrontation between the Dalek and Geoff Peterson, Ferguson's robot sidekick. Yep!!/CraigyFerg

See also:


[16.53 - French Time] Since the beginning of this month we're right in the middle of "urban renewal" works which complicate in the most annoying way our everyday lives.

Not to mention the fact that our youngest intern doesn't particularly appreciate to be disturbed during her afternoon nap. We're working to find a modus operandi allowing us to complete our daytime tasks within the limits of what the situation permits.

In the meantime let me please thank you for your enduring interest, your warm support, your fidelity and your trust.

Thursday, 4 November 2010


[21.55 - French Time] Nikki Finke reports for Deadline that production of Tim Burton's Dark Shadows movie starring Johnny Depp (who else?) will start in April 2011 instead of January.

In July Deadline New York's Mike Fleming reported that novelist Seth Grahame-Smith (author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) would write the film, produced for Warner Bros by Depp’s company Infinitum Nihil and GK Films. John August (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) was the first scriptwriter to work on the project.

Dark Shadows was originally an atypical gothic soap opera - imagine Y&R with vampires, werewolves, or ghosts - aired by ABC from 1966 to 1971. It was created and produced by Dan Curtis and was centered around the wealthy Collins family (living in their Collinwood mansion). Its most popular character was vampire Barnabas Collins, played brilliantly by Canadian actor Jonathan Frid.

The daytime drama jumped to the big screen with two MGM movies: House of Dark Shadows (1970) and Night of Dark Shadows (1971). In 1991, NBC and Dan Curtis tried to revive Dark Shadows with British actor Ben Cross as Collins - but the primetime show didn't last more than 12 episodes. In 2004, the WB network ordered a pilot for a new and younger version but the show was never picked up.

Johnny Depp always wanted to play Barnabas but we still cannot imagine him in the role.

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[21.04 - French Time] Since September, we note the TV show casualties of the US Network 2010-2011 season (this list will be updated when necessary):

- Lone Star (Fox)
- My Generation (ABC)
- Outlaw (NBC)

- Undercovers: NBC will not pick up additional episodes of the spy-fi/comedy from J.J. Abrams beyond the original 13-episode order.

Interestingly, a similar project is in the pipeline for ABC: a series adaptation of James Cameron's 1994 action comedy True Lies.