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Category: Greg Braxton

Michael Jackson-themed BET Awards draws record audience

June 29, 2009 | 11:46 pm


Sunday’s BET Awards, hastily transformed from a regularly scheduled presentation to a tribute to Michael Jackson three days after his unexpected death, may turn out to be the highest-rated broadcast in the 27-year history of the black  oriented cable network. Yet, the show also provoked scathing reaction from bloggers and viewers who found some elements of the show, along with host Jamie Foxx’s constant self-promotion of his album and upcoming tour, distasteful and offensive.

The live broadcast, which was hosted by Foxx, drew about 10.2 million viewers, a 61% increase over its audience last year, according to Nielsen Media Research. An estimated 10% of televisions that were on at that time were tuned in to the ceremony, which Nielsen said was an unusually high number for a cable network. The ceremony featured several salutes to Jackson by Foxx, Ne-Yo and others. Highlighting the show was the first public appearance since Jackson’s death of his sister Janet, who walked on stage near the end of the show and emotionally thanked fans for their condolences and support. She was not joined on stage by her father Joe Jackson, who was in the audience at the Shrine Auditorium.

Despite the salutes by participants, many viewers and bloggers said they were offended by elements of the show, taking special aim at Foxx, who performed three numbers, hyped his tour and participated in a filmed sketch with Martin Lawrence. Tazz Anderson of called the show “the swine flu of awards ceremonies.” said the show was a “terrible tribute.” BET executives could not be reached for comment.

— Greg Braxton

Photo: New Edition opens the BET Awards, Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

James Pickens Jr. is a steady hand for 'Grey's Anatomy'

May 14, 2009 |  4:23 am

'The Chief,' as is character is known, avoids the show's many off-camera soap operas.


Whether on screen or off camera, it's always seemed stormy at ABC's "Grey’s Anatomy." But amid the many swirling tempests around one of prime-time's most popular soap operas, James Pickens Jr., the deep-voiced actor who plays the authoritative Dr. Richard Webber, has consistently been a center of calm.

But earlier this year the 54-year-old Cleveland-born actor suddenly found himself a lightning rod for the show, which airs its season finale tonight. During a red carpet interview, he sparked a round of shock, denials and corrections when he said that cast members T.R. Knight and Katherine Heigl would be leaving the show by season's end.

"I didn't think anyone ever listened to me," Pickens said, laughing inside his North Hollywood loft. "All these people were coming up to me, saying 'You're the talk of the town.' I just couldn't believe that this became such a big deal."

Read more: James Pickens Jr. is a steady hand for 'Grey's Anatomy'

-- Greg Braxton

Photo: James Pickens Jr.. Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

Callie Thorne gets to play with fire in 'Rescue Me'

April 13, 2009 | 10:32 pm
Rescue-me If Callie Thorne’s Sheila Keefe had a theme song, it would be Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire."

The ode to flaming desire animates Thorne's character, who returns for her fifth season of FX's "Rescue Me," the testosterone-fueled dramedyabout a dedicated crew of emotionally flawed New York City firefighters. And, as always, her character, the perpetually high-strung widow of a firefighter killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is carrying a torch for her deceased husband's cousin, firefighter Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary).

Although most of the action of the series surrounds Gavin and his colleagues, Thorne, 39, has proved to be a reliable touchstone of the series, often stealing scenes from Leary and other cast members. Her Italian American character is known for throwing tantrums, flaunting her sexuality and relentlessly pursuing Tommy with various schemes that inevitably backfire.

(Photo by Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times) Read more Callie Thorne gets to play with fire in 'Rescue Me'

'The Mentalist' and Simon Baker find a hit

March 21, 2009 |  7:23 pm

Mentalist_lat_ke7mscnc_400 Simon Baker is having a rough time. He's battling a stubborn cold, and the pressures of a long shooting day on the Warner Bros. lot are taking their toll. But Baker, the star of CBS' " The Mentalist," still has a smile and twinkle in his eyes. That's how it is when you're the face of the season's only breakout hit at a time when few believed it possible for a major network to deliver a sizable weekly audience for a new scripted program.

"Everything is good right now, really good," said Baker, apologizing for his cough and the rasp in his voice. "Every TV show is a crapshoot, really. But every once in a while, a show gets anointed as 'the show.' And at the moment, we are it."

Even up against Fox's formidable " American Idol," which has earned the nickname "Death Star" for obliterating the competition, "The Mentalist" has emerged as the most popular -- and most unlikely -- hit of the network TV season.

Read the full story here.

-- Greg Braxton

(Photo: There is no plan for the characters played by Simon Baker and Robin Tunney to develop a romance, a seemingly mandatory story line for most shows.  Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

Lance Reddick's 'precarious position'

February 25, 2009 | 12:47 am


Lance Reddick doesn't get to smile a lot on the job. 

As  federal agent  Phillip Broyles in Fox's hit drama “Fringe," he is icy -- and possibly sinister -- as the head of an interagency team investigating a pattern of bizarre, deadly incidents.

Flip the channel and you might also catch the Baltimore-born-and-raised actor in his recurring role as the stern and smartly dressed Matthew Abaddon, whose last name may be a fearful omen for the survivors of the plane crash of ABC's “Lost." 

And he was rarely happy in his  best-known role as the ambitious Lt. Cedric Daniels  in HBO's "The Wire," where his character was  trapped between the political miasma of the Baltimore Police Department and the never-ending wave of drug dealers wreaking havoc in the inner city. 

Given his strait-laced gallery of characters, it's almost surprising to see Reddick  flash a real smile away from the cameras. In fact, he's almost unrecognizable from his on-screen personas, appearing younger, less worldly and a bit self-conscious. 

Read more of the story here.

(Photo by Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)