Category: Mary McNamara

Critic's Notebook: Farewell to 'House,' which remained true to itself

House finale hugh laurie
Time takes a toll on us all, no more so than characters of long-running TV shows. All narrative demands transformation of one sort of another and multiple seasons of revelations, realizations and shifting relationships work like the pounding surf against rock, softening the edges of even the most complicated personalities. By the final season of “MASH,” everyone was a good guy; it took only three seasons of “Glee” to turn Sue Sylvester into an applauding fan of New Directions.

So, as we prepare for the series finale, it is worth pausing for a moment to salute the people behind “House,” namely creator David Shore and actor Hugh Laurie, two maestros who have pulled off a near-miraculous feat: After eight long and occasionally crazy seasons, their title character departs with all his amazing faculties and flaws intact.

Dr. Gregory House is arguably the best and certainly the most influential character to appear on network television in the last decade. As played by Laurie, he answered the question many of us ask ourselves daily: What would life be like if you honest to God didn't care what anyone thought of you? Loosely based on Sherlock Holmes, House was brilliant and clearly broken (both physically and emotionally). He saved lives by solving cases, but his satisfaction came from the solution, not the salvation. “Everybody lies” was his mantra, proving it his life's work — the truth would out, no matter what the cost to him, to his patients, to those around him.

In the wake of the show’s success, that template became standard issue; every other TV detective (including a modern relaunch of Holmes himself on BBC) now comes equipped with a special ability to detect mendacity and a broken heart protectively rimed. But eight years ago, it was quite breathtaking; House was as instantly iconic as Tony Soprano.

Along with the limp, the Vicodin addiction and the refusal to shave, Shore and his writers wisely gave their medical detective a quick, black humor, which made Laurie an inspired casting choice. An accomplished comedian and musician, he not only nailed the punch lines and the pain, he infused them with an ecstatic soulfulness. House may have been an avowed atheist, but there were times when he looked like nothing so much as a hollow-eyed prophet, wandering the halls of Princeton Memorial waiting for the gods to speak.

Not every season of “House” worked as well as others. Chances were taken, with cast and story, and not all of them panned out. And there was a certain level of degeneration built in to both the genre and the character; even Arthur Conan Doyle famously got tired of all the brilliant deductions. More so than most shows, “House” often seemed to rest almost entirely on the strength of its main character, and one wondered just how long Laurie, and those writing for him, could keep things going.

Eight seasons, as it turns out, was just right. It isn't often that a show's final year is as good as its first, but it's true in this case, even with the rather crazy jail time (House in the big house) that opened things.

Continue reading »

'Common Law' review: USA brings bromance to a police drama

Warren Kole and Michael Ealy on "Common Law"
This post has been corrected. Please see note at bottom for details.

The motto of USA is “characters welcome,” and over the years, those characters have developed something of a pattern — the women are feisty and single, the men come in mismatched pairs. “Common Law,” which premieres Friday, does little to advance the brand. It is nowhere near as smart as “White Collar” or as strangely touching as “Necessary Roughness” and seems content to hit well-worn marks, though more than occasionally with welcome style. Call it USA Lite.

That said, the central conceit of co-creators Cormac and Marianne Wibberley is the amusing and inevitable culmination of a narrative device that began with Achilles and Patroclus and made its way through Butch and Sundance to become de rigueur on modern television: When a bromance goes wrong, should the couple call it quits or try a little therapy first?

Travis Marks (Michael Ealy) and Wes Mitchell (Warren Kole) may be the best detectives to ever hit the LAPD but they spend as much time arguing as they do detecting. In a last-ditch effort to save their seven-year partnership, and their individual careers, their captain (Jack McGee) orders them into couples therapy. And not just couples therapy, but group couples therapy, which is where we meet them attempting to explain their cantankerous relationship to a handful of married folk and the sexy but take-no-prisoners psychiatrist, Dr. Ryan (Sonya Walger). So while they’re solving murders and keeping various department vultures off their backs, they’re also, reluctantly, attempting to learn something about adult communication.

It’s an almost fatally cutesy set-up, complete with the requisite opposites-attract tension — Travis is a free spirited Lothario with foster child issues and street cred while Wes is a tightly wound former lawyer carrying the weight of OCD tendencies and a torch for his ex-wife. Fortunately, like all USA shows, it is brilliantly cast. Both leads -- young (check), handsome (check, check) -- have recently done yeoman’s work on shows that did not succeed, so there is the added satisfaction of seeing them land in roles well-suited to their talents.

Ealy, fresh off last year’s “Flash Forward” (and this year’s “Think Like a Man”) has an easy comedic fierceness that may very well have been born by his character’s complicated childhood, and Kole (“The Chicago Code” ) embodies a more buttoned-down but no less potent (or banter-ready) type anger.

Although the show clearly does not take the therapy angle too seriously — surely a group session is not the best solution for these guys — neither does it dismiss its worth, using the more traditional guidelines of marriage to prove that there can be not trust without honest understanding.

Oh, and they catch some bad guys, too. Though it’s tough to keep track of the work when there’s so much going on at home.

[Updated at 4:40 p.m.:  This post originally stated that "Common Law" premiered on Sunday rather than Friday and has been corrected.]


Q&A with Michael Ealy on 'Common Law' 

Critic's Notebook: A farewell to 'In Plain Sight'

USA adds to scripted series with 'Common Law'

 -- Mary McNamara

Photo: Warren Kole and Michael Ealy in "Common Law." Credit: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle / USA Network

'Kathy' review: Kathy Griffin finds a new level of reality

Kathy griffin show bravo
The best moment on “Kathy,” Kathy Griffin’s talk show that debuted Thursday on Bravo, came fairly early on when Meredith Morris, one of a trio of non-celebrities joining Griffin to rake over pop culture topics, laughingly suggested that “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” reunion had gotten so over the top  they “don’t really need Andy Cohen.” Griffin, a long-time sweet 'n' steely provocateur with a flinch-resistant face and an oft-stated “no apologies” policy, visibly stiffened, interrupting Morris to laughingly but pointedly explain that this, ha ha, was precisely why she had decided not to book “A-list celebrities” because celebrities would never, ha ha,  say things like,  “They don’t need Andy Cohen ... ” ha ha, because “Yes we do. ... ”

Cohen, of course, is the executive vice president of development and talent at Bravo who has helped oversee the “Real Housewives” franchise and  many other shows, including Griffin’s previous show, “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-list.” He also appears in many episodes of Bravo’s various reality shows and hosts “Watch What Happens: Live,” which was recently expanded to five nights a week, and directly follows “Kathy.”

If, by some chance, you are not one of the 2 million to 3 million Americans who regularly tune into the “Real Housewives,” or the 1.2 million who watch “Watch What Happens: Live,” you might not know this.

But then if you did not know this, you would probably not be watching “Kathy.”

For all her resolute outrageousness, Griffin is a very hard-working entertainer, as multiplatform and multitasking as Ryan Seacrest, a frequent Griffin target. She is also a team player, a team Bravo player. No doubt she is just as addicted to the “Real Housewives” franchise as she claims, and just as nauseated by the Kardashian family (whose show airs on E! which is owned, as Bravo is, by NBCUniversal) but even so, her constant references to the shows, in her various comedy specials and here, clearly crosses the line from cultural reference into shilling. Which Griffin, who is nothing if not frank, admitted in her show’s premiere, prefacing another “Housewives” tangent with “I don’t mean to sound like a Bravo infomercial but....”

But we really do need Andy Cohen.

The beauty of television today is that it has become at once more insular and more universal. Shows with relatively small audiences, be they a reality franchise or “Mad Men,” have disproportionately large cultural footprints -- people are, apparently, happy to talk, hear and read about shows they don’t actually watch.  Griffin, one of the first to realize this, has built something of a career on it, using her addiction to and knowledge of the reality TV world to not only solidify her regular-gal persona (her friend Anderson Cooper lately used his love for the “Real Housewives” in a similar way) but also to stretch out her comedic landscape, which is essentially based on saying what many people think in a way that is often very funny.

Continue reading »

It's morning in America, and Sarah Palin's on 'Today'

Sarah Palin on "Today"

If once upon a time the world was a stage, it now often seems like an endless audition tape, especially for Sarah Palin. Mayor, governor, vice presidential candidate, author, blogger, political commentator, reality star and now guest-host of Tuesday's "Today" show.

Palin may have nothing good to say about the media or popular culture, but she appears to be quite happy to embody the corset-loosening effect those forces have had on the definition of political leadership. When Matt Lauer interviewed Christie Brinkley about her upcoming return in “Chicago,” I cannot have been the only one thinking: Hmmm, Sarah as Roxie … could work; she certainly looks good with a gun in her hand.

Actually, if Palin is shopping around for a new job, and not treasuring some wild hope of rising like a phoenix at this year’s Republican convention, a morning show like “Today” would not be a bad choice. Whatever personal teeth-gritting it required — Lauer did not look pleased when, after her initial appearance, Palin was installed in his dressing room — the “Today” team seemed to have a humanizing effect on the former governor.

She allowed herself to be shot “prepping” for her interview by reading a pile of newspapers and not only joked about being taken for Tina Fey, but conceded that she thought Fey’s famous mid-campaign impersonations of her were funny.

This is a huge step for Palin, whose sense of humor has previously seemed confined to tear-down humor aimed at liberals, the media and the president. The Palin who appeared on the "Today" show still held the ultra-conservative line — during her initial sit-down with Lauer, she skirted his question about her feelings for Mitt Romney by repeating that "anyone" was better than President Obama and his “socialist policies.”

Continue reading »

The Super Bowl ads: too much hype, too little pop

Matthew Broderick Super Bowl ad
There was a lot of post-apocalyptic imagery for a Super Bowl Sunday, more than a few dogs, a couple of babies and, of course, the Coke polar bears. Seinfeld showed up, as did Jay Leno and Betty White. (Is it time, Betty? Time to stop all this showing up?) Will Arnett drank brains for Hulu, Motley Crue took a spin for Kia, Matthew Broderick channeled himself as a grown-up Ferris Bueller in a Honda and David Beckham stripped down to his tighty whiteys for….I think it was his new brand of bodywear, but I wasn’t really paying attention to the words.

We got a brief history of Prohibition, football and the American dance party as well as an ad for the resurging auto industry starring Clint Eastwood that had such political overtones that one expected it to be followed by someone approving this message.

What we didn’t get was a real “talker,” the kind of ad that gets more attention than the Super Bowl game itself.  Yes, there was a bar scene from “Star Wars,” in which a character suggested that the current VW ad, which involved a dog pining for the return of the VW Beetle, was better than last year’s, which involved Darth Vader, but at that point we were so far into the super-nova of self-referential pop culture that meaning had lost all….meaning.

VIDEO TIMELINE: All-time best Super Bowl ads

Still, considering, or perhaps because of, all the hype around this year’s offerings, including VW’s doggie-chorus pre-ad,  nothing really stood out in the welter of consumer-driven cleverness. Except the  Dannon ad in which a smirking John Stamos kept stealing a young woman’s Oikos Greek yogurt until she head-butted him. It’s hard to beat a good head-butt.

Which doesn’t mean there weren't some good spots. Audi’s homage to “Twilight”  was a nice way to start things off. Young vampires partying in the woods met fiery death in the beam of a late-comer’s super-bright headlights. Although not moved enough to tweet the hashtag included in the ad, I thoroughly enjoyed both the sentiment and the visual of all those exploding vampires.

Continue reading »

`Homeland' finale: A critical salute


Ever since Showtime’s remarkable new drama “Homeland” began answering its own central questions — yes, former POW Sgt. Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) was indeed “turned” by the enemy and no, CIA operative Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) is not crazy (well, she is, but she is also brilliant and right) — the show’s biggest mystery was how, and if, it would manage to emerge from its season finale with both its stars intact.

Brody had delivered a stirring speech about the vagaries of courage during a family trip to Gettysburg, where he also picked up his suicide bomber vest, while Carrie, having gone on full bipolar wig-out after almost being blown up herself, was now a spy out in the cold. Even her beloved mentor Saul (Mandy Patinkin) seemed undone by the whiplash turn of events. How on Earth would Brody, and the show, survive its own intent?

I must admit that out of all the scenarios I considered, and I spent an embarrassing amount of time considering them, it never occurred to me that the switch would go on the fritz. There Brody was, following a letter-perfect plan, hustled into lock-down with the vice president, the secretary of State and a bunch of other bigwigs, sweaty and resolute and about to blow them all to smithereens when — click, huh? Click, click — the simple technology failed.

It was a huge and glorious cheat, saved from utter absurdity by some lovely breakdown symbolism — there were no paper towels in the bunker either — and Lewis’ almost supernatural ability to silently project the 715 types of emotion that might rise within a man who, ecstatically prepared to blow himself up, discovers he has been undone by faulty wiring.

Which he fixes, in a bathroom stall, reminding everyone that “Homeland” does share major genealogy with “24” and giving Carrie enough time (at least enough TV time) to race to the Brody home and prompt young Dana (Morgan Saylor) to call her father just as he’s about to pull the now-functioning trigger. Which he can’t do, not with his daughter on the line.

It was totally crazy, of course. Except that it wasn’t, at least not in the alternative universe of “Homeland.” Every big season finale is, by definition, a con, revolving around a big emotional event that the writers hope will both satisfy viewers and leave them hanging.

And from the moment it was revealed that Brody was indeed working for a known terrorist, “Homeland” entered an even more dangerous shell game — this character may be broken by torture or driven by a need to hold America accountable for its sins, but either way he has been, and will be, party to events that kill innocent people. Which makes him a whole new breed of lead character, neither antihero nor villain.

Throughout the season, creators Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa have been able to maintain the show’s fever pitch not so much through plot as through composition. “Homeland” overcomes its histrionics through nothing more or less than a remarkable sense of balance, beginning with its main characters. 

Both are damaged and focused, regretful and resolute, but where Lewis petrifies Brody, turning him into a man of roiling stillness, Danes take Claire to the other end of the emotional universe, rolling her eyes and champing her teeth like a fire-maddened horse. One alone would be ridiculous, the two together are riveting.

The finale stayed true to this particular blend of high drama and humanity. Although the season could have easily ended with the failed bombing scene, it did not. We saw the next day and the next, the repercussions stacking themselves up, the truth refusing to be unveiled in some cheap magician’s flourish because truth is rarely revealed that way.

It comes at us incrementally, and often without our noticing until it is too late.


Year in Review: Mary McNamara's top TV of 2011

Golden Globes: 'Homeland' creators discuss the show's nominations

'Homeland' mirrors the Gilad Shalit news

-- Mary McNamara

Photo: Damian Lewis and Claire Danes in an earlier episode of Showtime's "Homeland." Credit: Kent Smith 

Year in Review: Mary McNamara's top TV of 2011

Game of thrones Emilia Clarke Jason Momoa
For all the shows that premiered this fall, it was not a stellar season. Fortunately, the television landscape has many datelines, so, taken overall, it was a very good year. And here’s why:

“Game of Thrones”: HBO proved that nothing beats epic fantasy when it’s rooted in good story and great performances, which this show most definitely is. No doubt the dragons will be fun too, but with Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion and Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys, even dragons are just icing.

Margo Martindale on “Justified”: FX’s lyrical, Elmore Leonard-inspired drama about a U.S. marshal returning to his hometown to clean up a few messes took on epic and revolutionary proportions when creator Graham Yost introduced Mags Bennett (Martindale), a back-country mob boss the likes of which have never been seen. Martindale rightly won an Emmy for her astonishing performance, but it would have been better if she had won another season — for reasons that confound me, Yost chose to kill off Mags in the season finale. I may forgive him; I haven’t yet.

“Downton Abbey”: Julian Fellowes crossed “Upstairs, Downstairs” with his own “Gosford Park” to herald a new and glorious age of PBS period drama.

“Homeland”: Wrangling Claire Danes and Damian Lewis as two of the most complicated characters on television (not to mention the ever-mercurial Mandy Patinkin), Howard Gordon and some of his “24” team turned an Israeli hit into the first show to successfully mirror midwar America.

Al Jazeera: During this year’s rebellions in the Mideast, Americans found themselves glued to their laptops to watch on-the-ground coverage from Al Jazeera English. For a time, many lobbied to find it a permanent American home, which would be a very good thing.

Ted Danson in “Bored to Death” and “CSI”: It’s difficult to imagine another actor who could juggle the quaint-ish HBO comedy and the CBS behemoth at all, let alone with such agility. I am not a huge fan of either show but watch both for the pleasure of seeing a man so utterly in control of his craft.

AMC and “The Killing”: Veena Sud’s murder-mystery stumbled as it soared, and outraged fans and nonfans alike with its non-finale season finale. But around here, we give points for trying, and AMC continues to do just that, accepting its failures (“The Prisoner”) as down payment for its successes (“The Walking Dead”). Sud took on TV’s most popular and predictable genre and, for better and worse, made it her own. Also Mireille Enos is now officially a star, and that has to count for something.

“Parks and Recreation” and “The Middle”: Two wonderful shows that have been living in the shadows of “The Office” and “Modern Family,” respectively, finally seem to be getting the recognition they deserve.

“Louie”: Louie C.K.’s angsty, semiautobiographical FX comedy defines adult comedy — outrageous, sentimental, big-hearted, brave and true. And that duckling-in-Afghanistan episode just about killed me.

The not-so-best

Having recently endured, through circumstances beyond my control, back-to-back viewings of “Jack and Jill” and the latest “Twilight” movie, I cannot bring myself to use the word “worst” in connection with anything I have seen on television this year. But here are a few of the biggest disappointments (none of which, I am happy to add, involved Al Pacino).

OWN: I’m not certain what I expected from the new Oprah Winfrey Network, but I know it was more than a bunch of whiny reality series. When Rosie O’Donnell is your biggest draw, things are not up to the Oprah standard.

And the cable networks’ coverage of the jumpy Dow. Look, here we all are, alive and well, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse nowhere in sight, despite all the rumors to the contrary during that horrible week in August when the Dow bounced around and all the business pundits seriously lost their minds. Did none of you ever hear about Orson Welles and his “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast?

For more, here's an essay on TV in 2011.


Mary McNamara's Best of 2011 in TV

Year in Review: Robert Lloyd's Top New TV of 2011

— Mary McNamara

Photo: Jason Momoa and Emilia Clarke in "Game of Thrones. Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO.

Rosie O'Donnell is back on TV, with a little help from Oprah

Rosie odonnell on OWN 
Finally, the Oprah Winfrey Network has something like a twinkle in its eye.

“The Rosie Show,” which premiered live from Harpo Studios on Monday afternoon, has been touted as Rosie O’Donnell’s much-anticipated return to television, which may be overstating the case slightly. In the 10 years since her syndicated daytime talk show “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” ended, the former stand-up and sometime film star seemed to be going out of her way to shake off the “Queen of Nice” mantle she had crocheted for herself while sweet-talking celebrities for six seasons.

In 2006, she got cranky and righteous, locking horns with Elisabeth Hasselbeck on “The View” before walking off in a huff. She produced and starred in a Lifetime movie, launched a variety show so terrible it ended after a single episode, and wrote a memoir about how awful it was to be on “The View.” None of which guaranteed or even hinted that O’Donnell would be the one to haul up OWN’s disappointing ratings.

Which “The Rosie Show” might just do. It had a not-bad, pretty good, kinda funny, sort of smart debut. Not the sort of thing that would rock a major network back on its heels with joy, but it certainly provided an oasis of humor and sunshine amid OWN’s endless replaying of the self-congratulatory final episodes of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

It was “nice Rosie” who showed up, in Diane von Furstenberg shmatte, as she said, and Prada boots, with the best hair cut she’s had in … well, ever, and the easy, zingy showmanship that has kept her afloat in fans even during the rocky years.

Continue reading »

'The X-Factor' review: And did we miss Simon Cowell?

Watching, in recent weeks, as Simon Cowell explained that  “The X-Factor” is a completely different show than “American Idol” was a bit like watching Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada” explain to her neophyte assistant why two turquoise belts of similar width and style represent utterly distinct looks. Um, OK, if you say so, Miranda.

If the 90-minute preview made available to the media before Wednesday’s premiere on Fox is any indication, “The X Factor” is essentially “American Idol” with a wider participant base and judges who promise to be, aggregately and individually, better than most (though not this last) seasons of “American Idol.” Not only has Paula Abdul taken whatever steps were necessary to appear fit and consistently sensible, the addition of music producer L.A. Reid brings a discerning ear and gravitas to the table that balances Cowell much more evenly than Randy Jackson ever did.

This means, alas, that early on we are treated to a “he says yes, I say no” montage and mini-interview with Cowell saying, “I’ve met my match,” after which the two men do nothing but agree. But steps must be taken to establish Brand X and this is one of them.

When the show opens, in L.A. for open auditions, the fourth judge is Girls Aloud star Cheryl Cole, but by the time they move to Seattle, Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls has taken her place. Cowell has said he replaced Cole because she seemed “bewildered,” but on a first impression, she is much more interesting than Scherzinger, if only for her fabulous Geordie accent. Scherzinger certainly knows her way around reality, having judged on the U.K. version and “The Sing-off” as well as competing on “Dancing With the Stars,” but in early scenes she seems more interested in tearing up and out-glamming “Idol’s” Jennifer Lopez than bringing much to the commentary.

Not that there’s much to say in the early days. Like “American Idol,” “The X Factor” begins with the cattle calls — lots of shots of the crowds, the signs, the hopefuls, the fans — although, this being a new show, things are mercifully accelerated. Viewers are spared the vast quivering middle and see only the very bad and the very good (or at least the quite promising), so there’s not much for the judges to do except admire or dismiss.

Continue reading »

Emmy roundtable: Johnny Galecki -- 'I'd rather play the other guy'

Johnny Galecki of "The Big Bang Theory" participateds in an Emmy roundtable discussion with first-time nominees

Way, way back in time, before "The Big Bang Theory" -- if that's even scientifically possible -- executive producer Chuck Lorre was casting for his new comedy and asked Johnny Galecki to consider the role of super-nerd science geek Sheldon Cooper.

Galecki read the script and told one of Hollywood's most successful show runners, "I'd rather play the other guy." That, thought the actor, was the end of that.

But, of course, Galecki did end up playing the other guy: Leonard Hofstadter -- a portrayal that earned the actor his first Emmy nomination this year for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series.  (For more about his decision, see the video below.)

Galecki was one of four first-time Emmy-nominated actors who participated in a roundtable last week to discuss their roles and all things Emmy. Moderated by Los Angeles Times TV critic Mary McNamara, the other performers were: Walton Goggins of "Justified," Josh Charles of "The Good Wife" and Michelle Forbes of "The Killing."

ShowTracker will post additional clips before Sunday's Emmy ceremony, so check back for more.


Emmy roundtable: Six degrees of an Emmy nomination?

Emmy roundtable: Walton Goggins will 'never forget' first nomination

Roundtable gathers first-time Emmy nominees

-- Martin Miller

Photo: Johnny Galecki Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Reviewing 'Anderson': Can Anderson Cooper elevate daytime?

 Anderson cooper daytime show premieres

Until recently, I was unaware that anyone besides Anderson Cooper’s friends, family and, perhaps, a potential romantic partner was clamoring to see his “daytime side.” But apparently I was out of the loop, because here’s the intrepid CNN reporter getting all soft-feature personal with his new talk show “Anderson,” which premiered Monday on KTTV Channel 11 at 4.

As everyone knows, “daytime” is synonymous with a certain downscaling of expectations -- “Jerry Springer” and soap operas, all those crazy judges and Oprah wanna-bes. Cooper, who has done everything but sing a duet of “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” with Katie Couric to plug his new show, swears that he just wants a program in which he can explore his other interests.

Which, despite the man’s famous Vanderbilt/Dalton School/Yale/CNN pedigree, appears to be eerily similar to every other daytime talk show host’s.  He’s fascinated with “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and Harry Potter, friends with Kathy Griffin, admires the films of Sarah Jessica Parker and is not afraid to bare his naked torso while getting a spray-on tan with Snooki.

Still, he is Anderson Cooper, and that has to count for something. Like getting an exclusive interview with Amy Winehouse’s family for his premiere. Speaking in their first major television interview since the singer’s death, Winehouse’s family -- her father, mother, gran, stepmother and boyfriend -- were frank, charming and heartbreaking.

Cooper, an inarguably fine interviewer, led them through their memories of Winehouse and their grief at losing her at a time when, according to her father, she seemed to be finally sober and on the right track. Although there was something uncomfortably sensational about leading with the parents of a dead rock star, their story not only humanized a young woman who became  the latest poster child for the perils of early success, it spoke to countless other parents in similar nightmarish situations.

If only Cooper had been willing to stop at that -- an interview that would not have been out of place on any news show at any time. But no, surrendering to the siren call of Daytime, Cooper chose to open the show while riding a bicycle. And while one applauds all efforts to go green, watching Anderson Cooper address a camera mounted, apparently, on his handlebars more than slightly undercut the sincerity of his stated desire to talk to Winehouse’s parents to see “what went wrong when everything seemed to be going so right.” (And it was nerve-racking as he never seemed to take his eyes off the camera and he wasn’t wearing a helmet.)

Continue reading »

Roundtable gathers first-time Emmy nominees

Emmy Roundtable

First-time Emmy nominees Josh Charles, Michelle Forbes, Johnny Galecki and Walton Goggins joined Los Angeles Times TV critic Mary McNamara last week for a roundtable discussion of all things Emmy as Hollywood barrels toward this weekend's 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards.

Leading up to this Sunday's telecast, Show Tracker will post clips of the wide-ranging talk that touched on the thrill of being nominated to the rich era of storytelling underway in television today.

Johnny Galecki ("The Big Bang Theory") received his first Emmy nomination for outstanding lead actor in a comedy, and Michelle Forbes ("The Killing") her first for outstanding supporting actress in a drama. Josh Charles ("The Good Wife") and Walton Goggins ("Justified") each earned a nod in the same category: outstanding supporting actor in a drama.   

Stay tuned.  


What to Watch: Fall TV sneak preview

NBC's upcoming newsmagazine to be called 'Rock Center'

Portia de Rossi, Ellen DeGeneres: Wife-wife team tackles comedy

-- Martin Miller

Photo: (from left to right) Walton Goggins, Michelle Forbes, Josh Charles and Johnny Galecki. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times


Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...


Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.




Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: