Thursday, August 20, 2009

One Day You’re In, and Then You’re Out…And Back In Again!

After sitting on pins and needles over legal negotiations, Project Runway, the hit fashion design reality show, has left the NBC owned Bravo TV network and is now back on the air on the Lifetime TV network, which is co-owned by Hearst Corp. and the Walt Disney Company. Season 6 will premiere tonight at 9 PM on Lifetime (Channel 40 in Orlando on Brighthouse Cable) in a 2-1/2 hour blitz of 3 new introductory shows.

The first, at 9 PM, will be a “reunion” challenge featuring past contestants.

The second, at 10 PM, will be the official season premiere which will introduce this year’s contestants in their sunny new location of Los Angeles. If you miss it, don't fret, for it will re-air at 11:30 PM tonight and ten more times this week (check the schedules).

The third show, at 11 PM, will finally sew up the mystery of who the models are. It’s about time. Though technically also in competition amongst each other for a spread in a fashion magazine, viewers have previously only had a glimpse into their lives.

Project Runway is a fabulous show and I highly recommend it for everyone who has had the slightest fascination with fashion. I thought myself to be quite competent, even a little creative, as I modified Simplicity and McCall’s patterns to create my own cute little dresses in high school. However, these guys blow me out of the water. Without patterns, and armed with a pair of scissors, a tape measure, and gorgeous designer fabric, these super talented designers of all ages (24 to 50), construct fabulous couture fashions within only a day or two.

Contestants are advised by the serious, but ever fabulous, Mr. Tim Gunn, the Paula Abdul of Project Runway – caring and compassionate and everyone’s biggest cheerleader. Gunn will circle the work room, giving fatherly advice to designers, kindly voicing, “I’m concerned,” “Make it work,” and the approving, “Carry on.” Gunn’s day job is chief creative officer for Liz Claiborne – now there’s a boss I’d like to have.

The show is hosted and judged by the incredibly gorgeous and talented Heidi Klum, whose brains are an equal match for her beauty.

Returning are our other two favorite judges: fashion designer Michael Kors; and fashion maven Nina Garcia, the current fashion director for Hearst Corp.’s Marie Claire magazine.

On the fringe, the Bravo TV network is smartly rerunning seasons 1 through 5 in order to capitalize on all the current buzz. I have to warn you, once you start watching, you’ll be hooked!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mad Men Needs a Stronger Cage

Role reversal: Office manager Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) stands over copywriter Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss).

The season premiere of Mad Men, a satirical, but historically accurate view into the world of the early 1960s old school, male-dominated advertising business, aired last night, Sunday at 10 PM, on AMC (Channel 48 on Brighthouse Cable, Central Florida). The “star” (if you can name just one) of Mad Men, Jon Hamm, who plays ad executive Don Draper, has traveled the TV talk show junket, promoting the show to exhaustion. I thought I’d watch it to see what all the hype is about.

Now in Season 3, the series has won a multitude of accolades, everything from SAG awards (Screen Actors Guild) to Golden Globes, to the more obscure, Golden Nymph award at the Monte-Carlo TV Festival. A full list is on

I’ve seen Season 1 and 2 reruns off and on while flicking through channels during lazy weekends, where I’ve been mesmerized by the show’s cleverly animated and professionally scored intro. However, I’ve never watched the show in it’s regular timeslot. Now, I am making an effort.

My favorite characters are the working women: I commiserate with Miss Peggy Olson, played by Elisabeth Moss, who as a soft spoken woman, asks, but gets little respect despite her esteemed position as a copywriter. However, I also admire the moxy of office manager, Miss Joan Holloway, played by Christina Hendricks, who understands that although she may be a glorified secretary, she wields a great deal of power in the very male-dominated office.

The Season 3 opener, “Out of Town,” opened just-plain-strange, with Don Draper falling into a dream-like reverie about pioneer childbirth, while heating up a glass of warm milk for his pregnant wife. The opener was reminiscent of Twin Peaks, which after an award winning Season 1, lost it’s footing in the dreamy, meandering and very strange, Season 2 – not a good thing.

All quirkiness aside, my biggest criticism of the show is that it truly is a soap opera, not a series at all. Not only do you have to watch each and every show to keep up, the episodes themselves are not self-contained and the one-time viewer feels as if they are sitting in the waiting room of a busy office while witnessing a small snippet of an on-going drama. A really successful long running show will have two storylines: the plot of that particular episode which is 100 percent self-contained and fully explained; and the on-going plot which ropes viewers in and makes them want to watch the show again next week to see what happens. Daytime soap operas can succeed without doing this, with daily airings during worker lunch breaks and when students don’t have classes. However, a true nighttime soap opera has to have a much more seductive draw than the middle aged exploits of Mad Men.

I am happy to see the super talented Colin Hanks as the believable Father Gill (so believable, I didn’t even recognize him), and secretly hope that his character leaves the priesthood to marry the very nice and well-deserving Peggy Olson. The last series I watched Hanks in was Roswell, which gained a huge following during Season 1, but lost its way in Season 3 when the writers forgot that the show was supposed to be a weekly TV series, not just a quirky, sci-fi soap opera.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Monk Season 8 Premieres Tonight

One of my favorite television shows of all time, Monk, is beginning it’s 8th and final season tonight at 9 PM on USA.

Sob! Can’t they make it an even 10 seasons? Mr. Monk would like that, he really would!

I began watching Monk during season 4 after my husband’s very particular metro-sexual boss would not shut up about the show during a theater premiere. I had to see it – at least once. That was enough to get me hooked and I promptly went out and bought seasons 1, 2, and 3 on DVD so that I could catch up on the story line.

Afflicted with psychologically debilitating obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), Monk’s keen observation skills give him the edge to solve the most unsolvable crimes. Actor Tony Shalhoub adds his own unique flair in portraying Monk’s bizarre cleaning, classifying, cutting, and counting behavior, which provides much needed humorous comic relief to the show. His current assistant, Natalie Teeger (played by Traylor Howard), hands him wipes on cue, moves things he won’t touch, and does the dirty job of touching dollar bills. Monk is employed as a consultant with the San Francisco Police Department where he reports to the gruff, but loveable, Captain Stottlemeyer (played by Ted Levine), and the talented, but quirky, Lieutenant Randall Disher (played by Jason Gray-Stanford).

Monk himself used to be a police detective, but lost his job after a nervous breakdown when his beloved wife, Trudy, was tragically blown up in a parking garage by a hit man. My guess is that the end of this final season will bring to fruition the three things Mr. Monk longs for: solving Trudy’s murder; getting his badge back; and falling in love again.

The show experienced real-life tragedy when cast member, Stanley Kamel, who played Mr. Monk’s frustrated therapist, Dr. Charles Kroger, died of a heart attack in April 2008. Rather than sweep the event under the rug, the show’s producers chose to conscientiously and seriously portray the feelings of displacement a patient suffers when they lose their therapist. Monk found a new doctor, Dr. Neven Bell (played by actor Hector Elizondo), who helped him deal with his painful loss.

You can enjoy your own Monk marathon today from 6 AM to 5 PM on USA, channel 39 in the Orlando area. Reruns also air frequently on Sleuth, channel 154 (check the schedule).

The season premier, “Mr. Monk’s Favorite Show,” will air at the following times on USA:
Friday 8/7 at 9 PM
Friday 8/7 at midnight
Saturday 8/8 at 11 AM
Tuesday 8/11 at 1 AM
Tuesday 8/11 at 11 PM

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Boycott Idol, if Paula doesn’t get a raise!

On Wednesday, several news sources reported the details of why host Paula Abdul has decided to quit the hit FOX television marvel, American Idol. At first, it seemed that her demands for more money seemed unreasonable. However, it’s only fair that she be paid at least a decent percentage of what her male cohort, Simon Cowell, is paid. If Paula doesn't get offered a decent raise, I for one, plan to boycott the show when it airs next January.

Here's the salary breakdown:

Simon Cowell - $36 million per year
(according to the New York Post, Oct. 13, 2008 article)

Ryan Seacrest - $10 million per year,
plus a $15 million upfront bonus for licensing usage over the next 3 years, for $45 million total over 3 years.
(according to the New York Times, July 13, 2009 article)

Paula Abdul – formerly $2 million per year,
(plus $1.5 for show related expenses, such as hair, makeup, clothes, stylist, transportation, and security, which I don't feel can be counted as salary).
Offered $5 million per year (according to the New York Times, August 5, 2009 article).
Asked for $20 million (according to, July 20, 2009 article).

Randy Jackson – estimated at $2 million per year.
( stated on August 22, 2003 that he and cohost Paula Abdul were both vying for a raise to $1.5 million each that year. Since Paula is now making $2 million, I have to assume Randy is making the same).

Kara DioGuardi – estimated at $2 million per year.

There are only two people on Idol who cannot be replaced: Paula and Simon. The two offer a colorful Yin and Yang of critiquing Idol hopefuls -- one spiritually positive, one sarcastically negative.

I can take or leave Ryan and Randy. Though both are talented and likable, I could easily imagine either being replaced.

Kara makes a miserable host – she talks far too much and leaves no time for Simon. Plus, she repeatedly echoes the ugly truths about the music industry that we don't really want to hear: that producers prefer the young, charming, pretty people, who are the "complete package." Who cares about looks when you’re listening to music?