Monday, June 28, 2010

Will the Entourage characters ever grow up? Season 7 should tell.

Season Seven of HBO's "Entourage" opened with a whimper.  Each of the four boys is facing his own new challenges.

Vince (Adrian Grenier) is making an action picture and agrees to do one of his own stunts - a death defying car scene.

Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) is running a limo service with female drivers, who aren't Plain Janes.  But one of his chauffeur chicks can't find LAX to save her life.

Eric (Kevin Connolly) is happily getting married to Sloane.

And poor Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) is an out of work actor, once again.

The fifth Beatle, uber agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), who now owns the world's largest talent agency, finds himself putting out fires worthy of his lowly staff.  He's not managing well and Mrs. Ari (the wife without a name) is not happy.

Will Vince survive?  Will Turtle's business?  Will Eric remain hopelessly devoted?  Will Hollywood finally notice Johnny? And will Ari learn to delegate?

The first episode was just a set-up for what's to come, so who knows?

But the real question for "Entourage" is whether or not these immature LA almost-men will ever grow up.  At the close of last season Turtle had fallen in love with Jamie Lynn Sigler.  Johnny's career was taking off.  Eric took the engagement plunge.  Ari learned humility.  Even poor, pitiful Lloyd asserted himself with Ari and became a real agent.  Only Vince remained unchanged.

Note to the producers: keep it moving.  The countless playboy scenes were funny for the first six seasons, but they're stale now.  If the writers are worth what Mark Wahlberg (exec producer) is paying them, they should be able to come up with humorous situations and good writing with predicaments for grown-ups.  Hollywood can't be that boring.

"Entourage" at its best offers an inside look at the entertainment industry that even reading Variety can't provide.  Add the cameos, the self-mockery and the Ari tirades and it's wonderful.  If the situations don't change, however, and the characters don't mature, "Entourage" is just another sitcom that jumped the shark.  Let's hope sophistication overtakes slapstick for this great HBO show.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Poor Bachelorette Ali: Couldn't they Find Her a Guy with a Job

So Reality Steve, the blogger who seems to know all the dirt on reality TV, even results before they air, is reporting that current ABC Bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky remains single at the end of the program's run. She chooses neither Charleston, S.C. insurance agent, Roberto, 26, nor Chris L., 33, the landscaper from Cape Cod. The final rose ceremony has already been taped and Steve says she walks away with no one.

Is it any wonder? Only one of the seven remaining guys has a respectable job by my accounting.

Craig R. of Philadelphia is a 27-year-old lawyer, but he seems as exciting as a tree stump.

The rest are this close to being unemployed or have euphemism jobs. You know, if a guy’s mother is asked what her son does for a living, she says, “he’s a sales associate.” Translation: he works in a shoe store.

Here are the rest:

Frank, 31, Retail Manager (Translation: works at McDonald’s)
Justin, 26, Entertainment Wrestler (need I say more)
Ty, 31, Medical Sales (works at CVS)
Kirk, 27, Sales Consultant (Oh my God!)

And this girl, Ali, is an advertising exec at Facebook. Not only does she work for a real company with a real title, but she was an early employee of the fastest growing Internet company on the planet. If we can use other such companies as a guide, like Google, she could have real money. The first people who signed on to Google became millionaires and Facebook has had a similar history. The stock is through the roof.

Why would Ali go for any of these guys, unless they are absolute, stand-out individuals? I don’t get that impression. They’re all good looking, but none has told her anything I would deem special. Chris lost his mother and has a great dad. Kirk had mold poisoning. And Justin has a sprained ankle. Oh, and another spoiler, he’s the one whose girlfriend calls Ali to tell her he’s already taken (and he’s cheating on that chick).

At least Jake Pavelka, “The Bachelor” from the last season, who chose vampy Vienna and then broke up with her, is a pilot. That’s a decent job.

Good luck to Ms. Fedotowsky. Except for a mouthful of a surname, she seems to be an attractive, nice and fairly accomplished person. I’m sure she’ll find a decent guy. And if she marries him, she’ll even have a new last name.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

“Hot in Cleveland” – Will the Great Premise Carry the Show?

If nothing else, I just love the premise of “Hot in Cleveland,” TV Land’s first try at an original adult sitcom that debuted tonight.

Jane Leeves (“Frasier”), Wendy Malick (“Just Shoot Me”) and Valerie Bertinelli are stranded after a freaky plane ride en route to Paris lands them in Cleveland.  Once there, they realize Midwestern men actually consider them hot. That’s not the case in their hometown of LA where they haven’t been noticed by men in years because they’re not emaciated and 20 years old.  And the men in Cleveland are straight; they don't have to guess.

They decide to stay.

Says Jane Leeves, “These men are hitting on women their own age; we owe it to science to investigate.”

If you look closely enough (and some of you will have to put on your glasses), you’ll see that one of the guys in that scene, the blond, is John Schneider from “Dukes of Hazard.”   He looks great.

The show itself is somewhat amusing. Believe it or not, the best lines are delivered by Betty White who turns up as the cleaning lady in the house the first three rent.

Alessandra Stanley in today's New York Times said the idea for the show came from a "30 Rock" episode during which Tina Fey is in Cleveland.  Someone suggests she should "eat something" because she's so skinny.

We’ll see if the stories and the dialogue shine through after the premise is worn out. The cast is certainly a good one. These women have nothing to prove; they’re all established comediennes. Only the writers can fail at this point. There’s a target on their back if they do.

Monday, June 14, 2010

HGTV or Food Network: Which are You?

So I'm an HGTV person.  Most of my friends seem to be Food Network people.

I'm finding that TV viewers fall into one of the two groups, but usually not both.

Me?  I like interior design more than I like to cook (food addiction notwithstanding).  More than that, I take to the transformation aspect of the HGTV shows: Mike Holmes takes a completely botched construction job and rebuilds a house in an hour.  The "Design to Sell" crew makes over a hovel in 30 minutes with $2,000 while the mortified homeowners crawl under the furniture.  "Curb Appeal: the Block" features bad neighbors who become tolerable neighbors when their place no longer drags the street into the gutter (hint to house at the end of our subdivision).  And last, but not least, "Design Star" where there's design with cat-fighting.  Ah, the fun.

Food Network, not so much for me.  I can't seem to become addicted to competition over scaling fish and choosing the right garnish. (Yes, I know there's much more than that to "Top Chef" [Bravo] and Iron Chef America.)  I do admit to watching the Gordon Ramsay shows, "Kitchen Nightmares" and "Hell's Kitchen," trashy as they are.  (Where to they get the contestants for Hell's Kitchen?)

What are your thoughts?  Houses or Food?  Tell us why.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

"Cougar Town": The Name Detracts from a Good Show

I completely understand why the producers of "Cougar Town," the Courtney Cox sitcom on ABC, considered a new name, though the program is on next year's schedule unchanged.

The show is cute and witty with on-target younger boomer humor and a great cast, but the name is a turn-off that initially made me reticent about watching.  I thought it would be voyeuristic to watch Cox become involved with much younger men and that the cougar aspect was the sole theme.

Though there is some older woman/young stud goofiness, that's not really what the show's about.  It's more of a lite characterization of how someone goes from being married with kids and responsibilities to being single with an older, more independent child, who is now forced to be out there having fun.  They should totally have changed the name. "Re-entry"?

Cox's character is a slightly grown-up Monica, but equally entertaining.  The male lead (love interest), Josh Hopkins as Grayson Ellis, is great looking and a decent actor.  The supporting cast makes up a pretty decent ensemble - Ian Gomez from "Felicity" as the best friend's husband/next door neighbor, Brian Van Holt ("Burn Notice") as the requisite doofus ex-husband who constantly drops in unannounced, and the contrasting younger and older best friends, Busy Phillipps ("Dawson's Creek") and Christa Miller ("The Drew Carey Show").

Congratulations to Cox and her husband, David Arquette, who are co-executive producers along with Kevin Biegel from "Scrubs" and "South Park."  In fact, "Scrubs" is very well represented among the writing staff as are those from "Spin City," another great show.  Will they live up to those standards in Season 2?  I hope so.  In the meantime, I'll watch this past season's episodes over the summer since I was previously put off by a poorly named program.