28 September, 2007

Preview: "Justice"


"US legal drama revolving around the world of high profile celebrity attorneys in LA. When an estate agent to the stars is accused of murdering his wife, he enlists a top legal team to defend him. His attorneys make use of forensics, jury consultants and careful spin to defend him in court and against the press, but new evidence keeps emerging that endangers their case." Living TV


This fast moving slick courtroom drama was cancelled early last season which I think was an injustice. (Did you see what I did there?) Although I can't blame the viewers this time and I can't even blame Fox, a notorious ruthless canceller, who gave it two different good time-slots trying to find an audience for it.

It's particularly annoying in that I'm not really a fan of Jerry Bruckheimer's successful police procedurals like the CSI franchise, Cold Case and Without a Trace but I loved this unsuccessful law version. Bruckheimer productions traditionally struggle with non-police shows, for example the previous season's flop Just Legal.

Justice isn't exactly subtle but nothing threw me out of the story, like too obvious exposition, and I kept being interested in what was going to happen - which is the very least escapist TV should do.


The law premise is freshened by examining the cases that are in the media. The American Law cable channel is the law firm's nemesis, because they side with the prosecution and pronounce their clients guilty before trial. Part of the firm's work is about manipulating the jury both before they're sworn in and afterwards. It is all rather cynical at times but it's making a valid subtle point about the legal system. Look at the OJ Simpson trial. The first one. This is how the super rich are defended in commendable and scary detail.

It has a strong main character in Ron Trott, the boss of the firm, who thinks highly of himself - with good reason. He's not exactly likeable, but I think he's still relatable. In fact part of the premise is that juries don't like him and the young handsome bleeding heart lawyer is the courtroom expert.


The pilot starts with a woman lying dead in the pool and the police wanting to arrest the husband. The story starts immediately and the main characters of the law firm are introduced in their reaction to that story and not separately.

That's good way to do it but the danger with it being so plot-driven is that characterisation is neglected and the audience is left admiring the pace and special effects but they aren't emotionally engaged enough to tune into the next episode. Contrary to my own experience, that appears to be what happened with Justice - which is fair enough.


It's a very tricky balance to get right as too far in the other direction and it would be too slow and too talky.

Brilliantly, after the jury's verdict, the audience gets to see if justice was indeed served by a flash back to what really happened.

Justice is well-crafted, undemanding fun and is recommended.


Justice
Fridays, 9:00pm (starts 28 September)
Living

25 September, 2007

Red Planet Prize Update

"Competition News Update


The Red Planet Prize screenwriting competition closed on 1st September. We’re working our way through the many many entries now and hope to inform the finalists mid-October that we need full scripts.

Due to the weight of entries we won’t be able to give individual feedback to all who don’t make it so keep an eye on the website for a general announcement.

Thank you so much for taking part!"


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An extra two weeks to rewrite our scripts. Sweet.

23 September, 2007

Buzz: US imports special

The bidding war for US imports has got very silly over the past years, to the extent that networks were bidding for shows they didn’t want just to make another network out-bid them and pay much more money. They panic bought shows just in case they might possibly be hits and better to buy something that turns out to be a flop then allow another network to buy something that turns out to be a hit. Shows with terrible pilots were snapped up in haste and rued at leisure.

There are several cancelled shows bought last season yet to air and shows that did air but underperformed, so the networks have been a bit more cautious with the purse-strings this upcoming season. Channel 4 has gone as far to say they will be reducing the imports they buy in future and may not even renew things like Ugly Betty.

But all those extra digital channels will need content - imagine E4 without imports. All they can do is try and negotiate cheaper prices from the US production companies. There is now very little from summer and autumn 2007 worth buying that hasn't been bought yet.


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Drama


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Army Wives (Lifetime) - Living


My second favourite new show of the summer. It’s about army wives (and a army husband) on base dealing with absent partners and army rules. Quality writing.
Starts autumn 2008

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Bionic Woman (NBC) - ITV

I didn’t see much wrong with the pilot but certain commentators did. However, the ordinary public loved it. The show is being re-worked amidst behind the scenes turmoil. Top scribe Glen Morgan has resigned as a showrunner.

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The Black Donnellys (NBC) - ITV2

From last season, this early cancelled crime drama about brothers is from Paul Haggis of Crash and Casino Royale. It's quite good but it should have been a cable show as it's quite violent (one episode was considered too violent to be shown) and the criminals as main characters theme has never really worked on network TV. The quality Smith had the same problem last season.
Starts 27 September

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Cane (CBS) - ITV

It’s been called the new Sopranos but it’s closer to the new Dallas. The pilot and premise are OK, it just doesn’t grab you by the throat and insist you watch.

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The Company (TNT) - BBC

A spy mini-series with a star cast but I couldn’t finish the first episode. I just don’t care about spies and cold war toss. Turns out the demo was the oldest audience for a show ever, or something like that.

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Damages (FX) - BBC

I have buzzed this previously.

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Dirty Sexy Money (ABC) - C4

I haven’t seen it but it’s generating great buzz. It’s about a lawyer that works for an unusual family just like his father did before him.

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Flash Gordon (Sci Fi) - Sci Fi

This isn’t a bad show. It’s escapist fun - if you’re in the mood. People were hoping for a Battlestar Galactica style re-version for adults but it’s a Doctor Who style re-version for kids.

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Gossip Girl (The CW) - ITV


This is brilliant. It’s from Josh Schwartz from The OC and oozes class from the writing to the production values. It’s about the lives of rich kids in an exclusive Manhattan school but the main characters are new rich outsiders. The soundtrack is also brilliant.

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Greek (ABC family) - BBC

We follow a brother and a sister at college as they deal with their fraternity and sorority houses. The concept was deeply flawed and the writing very average but some of the characters are original.

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Hidden Palms (The CW) - Sky

By Kevin Williamson the genius behind Dawson’s Creek and the Scream franchise, this is pretty bad. I saw the pilot a while ago and can't believe anyone bought it. The CW delayed showing it until the summer and then cancelled it after only a few episodes due to the low viewing figures.
Starts 4 October

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Jericho (CBS) - ITV4

This was cancelled after the first season completed and then renewed following an audience campaign. It’s already been a hit on Hallmark. I previewed it here
Starts 3 October.

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Journeyman (NBC) - Sky

A Quantum Leap update. This was a fun romp about a San Francisco journalist, Dan Vasser, who finds he’s randomly time travelling for some reason. The only problem is it may be too random and the shifts back and forth in time can be confusing and annoying if done too much.
Starts 8 November

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K-Ville (Fox) - Five

The trailer didn’t convince me at all and the premise looked dodgy but watching the pilot online I was converted. The two main characters are brilliant and one character revelation at the end of the pilot is genius. Its début last week was the highest rating of any show on that day ever for Fox (apart from 24).
Starts January 2008

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Lipstick Jungle (NBC) - Living

Three high-powered women deal with life at the top in design, movies and magazine publishing. I had forgotten I'd seen the pilot, which says something. It’s OK, I suppose.

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Mad Men (AMC) - BBC4


Easily my favourite drama series of the summer and enters my favourite drama of all time list. The setting is the advertising industry on Madison Avenue in the early ‘60s. A lot of its appeal is dramatic irony - the characters smoke incessantly for instance – and the real sense of how people’s choices were limited then – especially women. Although the viewing figures weren't spectacular the demo of those viewers was good and so it has been renewed for another season. Unmissable.

Incidentally, HBO passed on this and greenlit John from Cincinnati. Oh dear.

Starts February 2008

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Moonlight (CBS) - Virgin 1

An Angel update about a vampire private investigator who helps humans.

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The Nine (ABC) – Five

A cancelled show from last season, I expect this to turn up on Five US at some point if not late night on the main channel. They showed Vanished after all and this was better written. It’s an ensemble piece which follows the nine people who bonded after being taken hostage in a bank robbery where something mysterious happened. It’s good but the concept was clearly flawed.

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Psych (USA) - BBC

This comedy detective show about a bloke with good observation skills pretending to be psychic has already aired on Hallmark. I can understand the reluctance of the BBC to show it, although they have already paid for it. The first season is too inconsistent and has too many obscure American references. It got better as the season goes on and season 2 is unqualified quality so far.

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Pushing Daisies (ABC) - ITV



This is my favourite pilot of any in the past few years. It’s intelligent, quirky and original which would normally mean it would be cancelled within a few episodes but it’s a big hit with both critics and test audiences. Some are even saying it’s the only new show to bother with this autumn.
Starts January 2008

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Raines (NBC) - ITV3

An awesome detective series with a difference. Raines sees the murder victims and they talk to him but they’re not ghosts, they’re a by–product of his disturbed imagination due to a traumatic incident. Difficult show to sell but it makes perfect sense once you give it a chance. Few people did give it a chance and it was cancelled but we have eight glorious episodes - when ITV can be arsed to show them.

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Reaper (The CW) - C4

This is going for a similar demo to Chuck(NBC) and the suggestion is that only one can survive. Please let it be this one. Chuck hasn’t found a UK buyer yet and I certainly wouldn’t buy it (not that I've got the money). The pilot is the worst of the season, although it apparently gets better. Reaper is good to go from the pilot.

Chuck is about a bloke whose college friend, an international spy, sends him a fancy email before he's killed which puts lots of top secret data in his brain and so he now has to work for the security services and pass on the info. A re-version of recent so-so flop Jake 2.0.

Reaper is about a bloke who when he turns 21 is told that due to a pact made by his parents when he was born he now has to work for the devil. The devil wants him to send escaped demons back to hell. A re- version of recent quite good flop Brimstone.

Both shows require a lot of suspension of disbelief, but Reaper manages to be more believable in the writing and the characters so you're more willing to ignore the dodgy set-up. Reaper is naturally funny while Chuck's humour is forced and fake.

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The Riches (Fx) – Virgin 1


Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver are the parents of a criminal traveller family who take the identity of a rich Jewish couple who die in a car crash. Driver is awesome and got nominated for an Emmy, while Izzard struggles with the accent which drags the show down. It does get better though or I just got used to it. It's certainly watchable and it was renewed for a second season but the writing is too inconsistent and the season arc looks made up as they went along.
Starts 1 October

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The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Fox) - Virgin 1

The pilot looked good but was kinda sucky, as I guessed it would be. This was going to début in the autumn but now it has been put back to spring while they re-tool the show. How can they re-tool such a deeply flawed concept? The "terminator chasing boy" story in the pilot is clearly a non-starter every week, so they want to set it in one place with regular characters, like a normal series. But even with the storylines and intrigue set up in the pilot, that's a non-starter too.
(Of course, I will be editing this section if they manage to do it and it's a big hit)


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Six Degrees (ABC) - ITV1

This early cancelled series from last season about six random characters who connect in a big city is included here more in hope than expectation that ITV will show it. They bought it for ITV1 but were put off by the cancellation in the US. It is classy and I think it would still do a good job considering what ITV1 has been showing. Co-incidentally BBC3 are about to pilot a British drama series about six random characters who connect in a big city called The Six. Spooky.

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Swingtown (CBS) - ITV

This is about swinging couples and it’s on the most conservative network. Expect a Smith style too early cancellation, although the execs are making all the right supportive noises.

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The Tudors (Showtime) - BBC


Classy historical drama.
Starts 5 October

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Viva Laughlin (CBS) - Living

Peter Bowker created the original for the BBC, which was about a bloke in the gambling business with big problems interspersed with mimed singing and dance routines to various pop songs. Bowker’s one of my favourite writers but I didn’t really get this premise at all. This re-make has one of the lowest test scores with audiences. I hope it lasts a 100 episodes and Bowker becomes a billionaire through syndication but it doesn’t seem likely at this stage.

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Comedy


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30 Rock (NBC) - Five


There were two programmes set behind the scenes of a sketch show last season on NBC. Studio 60 and this. Both were flops but this avoided cancellation because of its critical acclaim. It has just won an Emmy for best comedy justifying the faith. The first season of the US Office was similarly under-appreciated by viewers but now it is a huge hit. 30 Rock is quality and not to be missed. Five intend showing it at 10:45, which is taking the piss - unless it has a brilliant and appropriate lead-in.
Starts 11 October

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Back to You (Fox) - C4

Two of my favourite sitcom writer-producers have teamed up and while this result isn’t double the fun, it is fun nonetheless. A big TV anchor is forced to go back down the ladder to where he started but his old co-anchor stayed at the station and resents him for some reason. Had a very good début audience and most should stay for the second week.

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The Big Bang Theory (CBS) - C4

While not the most hilarious pilot ever, this sitcom about geeks who befriend their new neighbour – a hot non-geek woman – is funny, charms and has potential. Generating good buzz.

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Californication (Showtime) - Five



This is about a novelist with writer's block who is still in love with the wife he’s divorced and who shags around a lot. It's not too far from excellent and has been picked up for another season.
Starts 11 October

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The Class (CBS) - C4/E4

This sitcom about classmates who meet up at a party and remain in touch is bound to get an airing at some time, just probably not the primetime Friday slot it deserves. It was early cancelled last season and sometimes you have to accept that people just don’t get things and accept that they don't have to watch something if they don't want to. After all, there's things I don't get that other people love. However, anyone who doesn't love this show is a fracking idiot.

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Flight Of The Conchords (HBO) - BBC4


British comedy fans will be familiar with this Kiwi musical double-act who had a radio series and played the circuit over here for years. Their TV comedy début - about them trying to make it big in New York - is quality and not to be missed. Incidentally, one of the writer-directors on the series is, fellow Kiwi, Taika Cohen of the excellent Eagle vs Shark.
Starts 25 September

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The Sarah Silverman Program (Comedy Central) - Paramount


Sarah Silverman was a comedy god due to her awesome stand-up before this narrative comedy series. Now the few remaining doubters can shut the frack up and bow before the deity like everyone else. Unmissable.
Starts 4 October

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'Til Death (Fox) - Five US

From last season, traditional sitcom featuring young newlyweds moving next door to cynical long-marrieds. It's OK but not exactly appointment to view.

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Unhitched (Fox) - FX

Previously called "The Rules for Starting Over", this is from the Farrelly brothers. I really like the premise: "a group of newly single friends learning the painful lessons of starting over in their 30s."

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The best of the unbought

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Drama


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Burn Notice (USA)

This was very popular and has been renewed for a second season. I admit I had my doubts and stopped watching but with the likes of John Rogers bigging it up I gave it another chance and I'm glad I did. I expect it to get a UK buyer eventually. The only sticking point might be that one of the heroes is ex-IRA. Also in the pilot she had the most appalling ‘oirish’ accent which is likely to put people off.

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Life (NBC)


A cop is framed for murder and serves life in prison but DNA evidence frees him. Although the compensation has made him a multi-millionaire he returns to police work. He solves the murder of the week while also trying to find out who framed him in the first place and why.

I guessed this would be one of my favourites from the premise and the trailer was encouraging. Thankfully the pilot was quality. I have no clue why it hasn't been bought yet.

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Side Order Of Life (Lifetime)

A photographer gets a job on a magazine and has to deal with getting married and a friend who falls ill. This is so real and yet there’s a fantasy element where the photographer has some strange ability to see the truth that’s hidden behind the photos she takes and she uses that ability in the story of the week. I have no idea why it works but it does.

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Comedy


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Aliens in America (The CW)

An unpopular nerd at school is given a cool foreign exchange student by his parents to help him be cooler. But there’s a mix-up and the student isn't a cool English dude but a dork from Pakistan. Cue panic about terrorism, etc. The pilot was quality and while UK viewers have been negative on the boards, it’s getting great buzz in the US.

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Cavemen (ABC)


This is getting the worst buzz of any new show in the US with even people who haven’t seen it having a good old rant about it. I’ve seen it and I like it. The premise is what if cavemen were like any other racial group in the states. It’s been called the dumbest show ever but it’s actually quite sophisticated. It deserves a chance, I think.

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Samantha Who (ABC)

When you laugh at the premise for a sitcom, it’s a good sign. Samantha loses her memory and doesn’t remember what she was like. Friends and family try and manipulate her but she can only trust her boyfriend to tell her the truth. It’s getting great buzz from test audiences although I haven't seen the pilot yet.

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Slacker Cats (ABC family)

Gross out animation about cat friends and their owners from the British writers of Hyperdrive. I like Hyperdrive and I like this and I’m not ashamed to say so. Well, I'm a little ashamed to be honest.

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21 September, 2007

Opening Weekend

As You Like It


Romantic comedy. A woman cross-dresses in disguise and a bloke finds himself drawn to her.

With Brian Blessed, Bryce Dallas Howard, Romola Garai,Adrian Lester, Alfred Molina, Kevin Kline, Janet McTeer, Gerard Horan, David Oyelowo, Richard Briers

Writer: Kenneth Branagh
Director: Kenneth Branagh (based on the play by William Shakespeare)

Kenneth Branagh interview

Production notes (including Kenneth Branagh interview)

Official site

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Clubland


Comedy. The shy son of an aging comedian tries to find a balance between his demanding home life, his new girlfriend, and his mother's second chance at fame

With Brenda Blethyn, Rebecca Gibney, Khan Chittenden, Richard Wilson, Russell Dykstra, Emma Booth

Writer: Keith Thompson
Director: Cherie Nowlan

Official site

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Essayette


Experimental drama. A woman loses her daughter in the limbo between sleep and awake.

With Alexandra McTavish, Alexander Fiske-Harrison, Ruth Smith, Stephanie Briggs

Writer: Beatriz Martinez-Gatell
Director: Beatriz Martinez-Gatell

Official site

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Evening


Drama. As Ann lays dying, she remembers, and is moved to convey to her daughters, the defining moments in her life 50 years prior, when she was a young woman.

With Claire Danes, Toni Collette, Vanessa Redgrave, Patrick Wilson, Hugh Dancy, Natasha Richardson, Eileen Atkins, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close

Writers: Susan Minot and Michael Cunningham (based on the novel by Susan Minot)
Director: Lajos Koltai

Michael Cunningham and Susan Minot interview

Official site

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Death Proof


Crime drama. Two separate pairs of voluptuous women are stalked at different times by a scarred stuntman who uses his "death proof" cars to execute his murderous plans.

With Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd, Rose McGowan

Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Director: Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino interview 1
Quentin Tarantino interview 2
Quentin Tarantino interview 3

Official site

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I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry


Comedy. Two straight, single Brooklyn firefighters pretend to be a gay couple in order to receive domestic partner benefits.

With Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Jessica Biel, Dan Aykroyd, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi

Writer: Barry Fanaro and Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor
Director: Dennis Dugan

Official site

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A Mighty Heart


Drama. Mariane Pearl's account of the terrifying and unforgettable story of her husband, Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl's life and death.

With Angelina Jolie, Dan Futterman, Irrfan Khan, Denis O'Hare, Archie Panjabi, Will Patton, Gary Wilmes

Writer: John Orloff (from the book by Mariane Pearl)
Director: Michael Winterbottom

Official site

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Sambar Salsa


Comedy drama. A tale of a possessive South Indian mother faced with the prospective of a Spanish daughter-in-law and the lengths the two women go to keep the man in their life.

With Rishi Kapoor, Preyanka, Ateesh Randev, Roberta Caocci, Alessia Bonacci, Colin Duval

Writer: Aditya Raj and Vasanti Sundaram
Director: Aditya Raj

Official site

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Syndromes and a Century (Sang sattawat)


Experimental drama. Revolves around assorted characters working at or visiting two provincial Thai hospitals.

With Nantarat Sawaddikul, Jaruchai Iamaram, Sophon Pukanok, Jenjira Pongpas, Arkanae Cherkam, Sakda Kaewbuadee, Nu Nimsombon.

Writer: Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul interview 1
Apichatpong Weerasethakul interview 2
Apichatpong Weerasethakul interview 3

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Tough Enough (Knallhart)


Crime drama. Fifteen-year-old Michael Polischka is thrown into a gritty urban world when his mother breaks up with her rich doctor lover and they have to move into a shabby apartment in a rough ethnic neighborhood.

With David Kross, Jenny Elvers-Elbertzhagen, Erhan Emre, Oktay Ozdemir, Kida Khodr Ramadan, Arnel Taci, Kai Michael Mueller, Hans Loew, Jan Henrik Stahlberg, Amy Mussul, Stephan Grossmann.

Writer: Zoran Drvenkar, Gregor Tressnow
Director: Detlev Buck

Official site

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Yella


Thriller. Yella is estranged from her possessive and violent husband; but he can't quite bring himself to give her up.

With Nina Hoss, Devid Striesow, Hinnerk Schoenemann, Burghardt Klaussner, Barbara Auer, Christian Redl, Selin Barbara Petzold, Wanja Mues, Michael Wittenborn, Martin Brambach, Joachim Nimtz.

Writer: Simone Baer, Christian Petzold
Director: Christian Petzold

Christian Petzold interview 1
Christian Petzold interview 2 (Auf Deutsch)

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19 September, 2007

The Seven Laws of Comedy Writing

Pilot Project:

"Learn to add humour to your scripts from a comedy master and bring a smile to your face and a chuckle to your audience."

Killer Films

Slate:

"Why the new vigilante movies are a lot like the old vigilante movies."

"Revenge: Where would the movies be without it? The hero's quest for personal justice has fueled plenty of high drama and even more lowbrow cinema. This is especially true of 1970s vigilante films. In these movies, an individual at odds with "the system" does what that system cannot: take revenge on specific criminals or crime in general for the wrongs done to him (occasionally her), his family, his community. This means mustering rage and weaponry, from socks stuffed with quarters to .32 revolvers to grenade launchers (and that's just in the Death Wish series).

In recent years, a similar body of films has emerged. This trend includes modern day B-movies (
A Man Apart, Four Brothers), comic-book adaptations (The Punisher, Batman Begins), remakes (Man on Fire, Walking Tall), and even Oscar-bait (Munich). Reaching a brutal climax in the last few weeks with the releases of Death Sentence and The Brave One, this cycle proves that vengeance is back with, well, a vengeance, and that the two eras parallel each other like twin dark alleys in the American imagination."

18 September, 2007

The Wireless Theatre Company


" I am emailing you to draw your attention to my new Audio Online Theatre Company, The Wireless Theatre Company.

This is a website which produces audio plays, books, comedy sketches, short stories and more to be downloaded to peoples' iPods, MP3 players, desktops and mobile phones direct from the site, for FREE - no registering, no payment, just click on the download button and enjoy the drama! This brings radio drama to the kids with the iPods, and gets older generations to enjoy the world wide web and keep this wonderful medium alive.

As an on-going project, we are uploading on average two plays a month and we pride ourselves on producing new and exciting writing, stuff you haven't heard before from new actors. We are a new company, but we're doing well so far - with a great hit rate - and we're planning to record a whole season of Shakespeare Plays along with other classics to go along with the National Curriculum.

We are interested in submissions from actors, writers and anyone who has a love for audio theatre. The Company is also interested in showcasing plays which have already been recorded, providing they are of high quality and enjoyable!

Please do have a browse around the site and have a listen to the great stuff we have on there already.

And we are open to any suggestions, feedback or indeed donations!

I hope you enjoy it.

Kind regards

Mariele Runacre Temple
Artistic Director "

17 September, 2007

WGGB BBC writersroom event

A Far Away City:

"For those of you that don’t know, BBC writersroom is the department that deals with new writers. They explain it better themselves here.

Here’s a few bullet points from the event -"

Emmy Awards 2007

Congratulations to scribe Frank Deasy for his win for Prime Suspect.

WRITING FOR A COMEDY
"Extras: Daniel Radcliffe," Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, HBO, BBC and HBO Entertainment,
WINNER: "The Office: Gay Witch Hunt," Greg Daniels, NBC, Deedle-Dee Productions, Reveille, LLC, in association with NBC Universal Television Studio
"The Office: The Negotiation," Michael Schur NBC, Deedle-Dee Productions, Reveille, LLC, in association with NBC Universal Television Studio
"30 Rock: Tracy Does Conan," Tina Fey NBC, Broadway Video, Little Stranger, in association with NBC Universal Television Studio.
"30 Rock: Jack-Tor," Robert Carlock NBC, Broadway Video, Little Stranger, in association with NBC Universal Television Studio

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WRITING FOR A DRAMA
"Battlestar Galactica: Occupation/Precipice," Ronald D. Moore Sci Fi Channel • R+D TV in association with NBC Universal Television Studio
"Lost: Through The Looking Glass," Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse ABC, ABC Studios
"The Sopranos: Kennedy And Heidi," Matthew Weiner, David Chase HBO, Chase Films and Brad Grey Television in association with HBO Entertainment
"The Sopranos: The Second Coming," Terence Winter HBO, Chase Films and Brad Grey Television in association with HBO Entertainment
WINNER: "The Sopranos: Made In America," David Chase HBO, Chase Films and Brad Grey Television in association with HBO Entertainment

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WRITING FOR A VARIETY, MUSIC OR COMEDY PROGRAM
"The Colbert Report," Stephen Colbert, Allison Silverman, Richard Dahm, Michael Brumm, Rob Dubbin, Eric Drysdale, Peter Gwinn, Jay Katsir, Laura Krafft, Frank Lesser, Comedy Central, Central Productions with Busboy Productions and Sparina Productions
"The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," Rachel Axler, Kevin Bleyer, Rich Blomquist, Steve Bodow, Tim Carvell, J.R. Havlan, Scott Jacobson, David Javerbaum, Ben Karlin, Rob Kutner, Josh Lieb, Sam Means, Jason Reich, Jason Ross, Jon Stewart Comedy Central, Central Productions LLC and Hello Doggie, Inc.
WINNER: "Late Night With Conan O’Brien," Mike Sweeney, Head Writer; Chris Albers, Jose Arroyo, Dan Cronin, Kevin Dorff, Daniel J. Goor, Michael Gordon, Berkley Johnson, Brian Kiley, Michael Koman, Tim Harrod, Brian McCann, Guy Nicolucci, Conan O’Brien, Andrew Weinberg, writers NBC, Conaco, Broadway Video, in association with NBC Universal Television Studio
"Late Show With David Letterman," Eric Stangel, Justin Stangel, head writers; Michael Barrie, Jim Mulholland, Steve Young, Lee Ellenberg, Matt Roberts, Jeremy Weiner, Joe Grossman, Meredith Scardino, Bill Scheft, Aaron Blitzstein, Bob Borden, Frank Sebastiano, David Letterman, writers CBS, Worldwide Pants, Inc.
"Real Time With Bill Maher," Billy Martin, Head Writer; David Feldman, Matt Gunn, Brian Jacobsmeyer, Jay Jaroch, Chris Kelly, Bill Maher, Jonathan Schmock, Danny Vermont, Scott Carter, writers HBO, Kid Love Productions and Brad Grey Television in association with HBO Entertainment

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WRITING FOR A MINISERIES, MOVIE OR A DRAMATIC SPECIAL
"Broken Trail" Alan Geoffrion AMC, Once Upon a Time Films in association with Butcher’s Run Films
"Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee," Daniel Giat HBO, Wolf Film/Traveler’s Rest Film in association with HBO Films
"Jane Eyre (Masterpiece Theatre): Parts 1 & 2," adapted by Sandy Welch PBS, A BBC/WGBH Boston Co-Production
WINNER: "Prime Suspect: The Final Act (Masterpiece Theatre)," Frank Deasy, PBS, ITV Productions and WGBH Boston co-production
"The Starter Wife," Josann McGibbon, Sara Parriott, USA, Hay Pop Pty Limited in association with McGibbon/Parriott Productions and 3 Arts Entertainment, for NBC Universal Television Studio

Full list of winners

Women on top of the film world

Toronto Star:

"Or at least they are at the Toronto International Film Festival. But pan out and Hollywood is showing a much different picture. Susan Walker talks with top female directors about the film industry's staggering gender gap"


"Most of the people writing in magazines and running the publishing world are female. Most of the people coming out of writing programmes are female; most English majors are female. I don't understand why male writers are dominating screenwriting." Robin Swicord

16 September, 2007

Buzz: "Damages"


"The story revolves around a ruthless lawyer (Glenn Close) attempting to win a class-action lawsuit against the former CEO of a corporation (Ted Danson) on behalf of his former workers, by any means necessary." Wikipedia

The BBC spokesperson excitedly called this FX thriller a cross between Murder One and The Firm when they announced they had bought it. No, not at all. Don't be silly.

I've been trying to think why I'm not as impressed by Damages as some people. Partly it might be because I just don't care about the characters enough. I can see the showrunner trying. The Glenn Close character is ruthless and there's an episode, which was designed to make us care about her, which showed her family problems. It didn't work.

It's even difficult to care about the fresh new lawyer, who has a few troubles, as she's one-dimensional like the rest of them.



It has a nice structure in that it starts in the present with a woman covered in blood leaving her apartment and then it goes back to six months earlier where we find out that that woman is a lawyer looking for a job. Those two timelines will eventually meet.

As well as characters we don't care about, the general treatment is rather dull and uninspired, hacky and clichéd. They have a story of the week, or red herring of the week, as they attempt to fill in 13 hours of programming with, at best, three hours of interesting story.


I appreciate that some parts of the audience just want intrigue and plot twists and don't particularly care if they make sense or if it's well written. But the important question is "are there enough of this undemanding audience?" The show halved its ratings in the US within two weeks.

By starting in the summer, Damages has managed to avoid being tarred by the same brush as Kidnapped, Vanished and Runaway, the big network twisty thrillers that were cancelled early, when it is no better than any of them. Glenn Close's presence lends an air of class to the dross - but a gold plated turd is still a turd.

With half the season gone, I couldn't care less what happens next, which is a bad sign in a thriller.

15 September, 2007

The 2007 PAGE Award Winners Announced

Congratulations to David Bishop! Yay!

SHORT FILM

Gold Prize:
DANNY’S TOYS
by David Bishop
Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

SCI-FI/FANTASY

Silver Prize:
DNA
by Andrew Wong
London, England

----------------------------------------------

GRAND PRIZE WINNER

SOLOMON’S WHALE
by John Arends
St. Charles, Illinois


ACTION/ADVENTURE

Gold Prize:
THE B.E.S.T.MAN
by Jack Davidson
Sparks, Nevada

Silver Prize:
THE PROS AND CONS OF BREATHING
by Bill Balas
Sherman Oaks, California

Bronze Prize:
DECLINATION CONSTANT
by George Kilgore
Kansas City, Missouri


COMEDY

Gold Prize:
DEADBEAT BOYFRIENDS
by Marc Conklin
St. Paul, Minnesota

Silver Prize:
THE BOOK OF JOB
by Andy Cies
San Francisco, California

Bronze Prize:
STAR
by Ehud Lavsky
Herzelia, Israel


DRAMA

Gold Prize:
SLUGGER
by Jimmy Miller
Van Nuys, California

Silver Prize:
LIKE YO-YO
by C. Daniel Yost
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Bronze Prize:
DONOVAN’S ECHO
by Jim Cliffe & Melodie Krieger
Kelowna, BC, Canada


FAMILY FILM

Gold Prize:
AMELIA EARHART AND
THE BOLOGNA RAINBOW HIGHWAY
by Amy Garcia & Cecilia Contreras
Manteca, California

Silver Prize:
GHOUL SCHOOL
by John Stancari
West Hollywood, California

Bronze Prize:
THE PLANE CRASH PORTION
OF YOUR AMAZON ADVENTURE
by Anita Skibski
Algonquin, Illinois


HISTORICAL FILM

Gold Prize:
GORGEOUS GEORGE
by Steve LaMontagne
Eugene, Oregon

Silver Prize:
PALACE OF TEARS
by Russell Gilwee
Folsom, California

Bronze Prize:
WOUNDED KNEE ‘73
by Richard Keehn
Boulder, Colorado


SCI-FI/FANTASY

Gold Prize:
TRANQUILITY BASE
by Daniel Turkewitz
New York, New York

Silver Prize:
DNA
by Andrew Wong
London, England

Bronze Prize:
REVOLUTIONARY
by Mark Glenn
Santa Monica, California


THRILLER/HORROR

Gold Prize:
THE BAKA
Maurice Brown
Culver City, California

Silver Prize:
EIGHT LITTLE GUINEA PIGS
by Shane O’Neill
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Bronze Prize:
THE COLLECTOR
by Anne Sagel
Las Vegas, Nevada


SHORT FILM

Gold Prize:
DANNY’S TOYS
by David Bishop
Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Silver Prize:
GROWING PAINS
by Virginia Desmond
Tucson, Arizona

Bronze Prize:
WINGNUT
by Joseph Costa
Tampa, Florida


TV DRAMA PILOT

Gold Prize:
TOIL AND TROUBLE
by Sarah Jorgensen
North Lakes, Queensland, Australia

Silver Prize:
THE HERALD
by Kathryn Wood
Los Angeles, California

Bronze Prize:
KAYFABE
by David Lee
West Hollywood, California


TV SITCOM PILOT

Gold Prize:
THE LIFE & TIMES OF JORDAN WEST
by Mark Prey
Milford, Michigan

Silver Prize:
GROVER’S HAIRY & BLUE
by Colin Preston
Woodinville, Washington

Bronze Prize:
RELIVING LIFE
by Michael Moore
Boston, Massachusetts

For more information go here.

Paul Laverty interview


Shooting Screenwriters:

Andy Conway:

"The latest Shooting Screenwriters episode is now available for your listening pleasure and this time I'm talking to screenwriter Paul Laverty all about the screenplays he's written for Ken Loach, including his latest "It's a Free World" which will be broadcast on Channel 4 this month and has just won the Best Screenplay award at the Venice Film Festival.

I caught up with Paul in a noisy bar in Edinburgh last month and also recorded his 'In Person' session earlier in the day, a couple of extracts from which I've included in the show.

This one's shorter than previous shows as I'm trying to now get them all into a nice half hour slot. Paul clocks in at a svelte 24 minutes.

If you want to listen to it (and what possible reason could you have not to?), then go here and simply right-click, and 'Save target as' and download it to your computer."

Paul Laverty:

"It was a great relief actually to be liberated from just talking about ideas and actually choose character. Imagine a person, give them a name, give them an age; the endless choices any screenwriter has to make. Where's the half of the story? Where's the premise? Where do you start? Where do you go?

And I actually found it absolutely fascinating and it was like a drug. I really did got such a high out of it. Just by the writing process. I found it really got the old neurons dancing and I enjoyed the process a great deal."


"It's a Free World" screens on Channel 4 on 24 September and is released on DVD on 1 October.

14 September, 2007

Opening Weekend

3:10 to Yuma


Western. A rancher agrees to hold a captured outlaw while he waits to catch a train to court in Yuma

With Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Logan Lerman, Dallas Roberts, Ben Foster, Peter Fonda

Writers: Halsted Welles and Michael Brandt & Derek Haas
Director: James Mangold

Michael Brandt & Derek Haas interview 1
Michael Brandt & Derek Haas interview 2

Official site

********************************

December Boys


Drama. Four orphan friends compete for the attention of a family.

With Daniel Radcliffe, Lee Cormie, Christian Byers, James Fraser, Jack Thompson, Teresa Palmer

Writers: Marc Rosenberg (based on the novel by Michael Noonan)
Director: Rod Hardy

Official site

********************************

Disturbia


Thriller. A teen living under house arrest becomes convinced his neighbour is a serial killer

With Shia LaBeouf, Sarah Roemer, Carrie-Anne Moss, David Morse, Aaron Yoo

Writers: Christopher Landon and Carl Ellsworth
Director: D.J. Caruso

Official site

********************************

A Few Days in September (Quelques jours en septembre)


Drama. A CIA agent in Europe wants to find the daughter he abandoned a decade ago.

With Juliette Binoche, John Turturro, Sara Forestier, Tom Riley, Nick Nolte

Writer: Santiago Amigorena
Director: Santiago Amigorena

Official site

********************************

The Legacy (L' Héritage)


Drama. Three French hipsters and their translator travel through rural Georgia to claim a remote, ruined castle that one of them has inherited.

With Sylvie Testud, Stanislas Merhar, Olga Legrand, Pascal Bongard, George Babluani,Leo Gaparidze

Writers: Géla Babluani, Temur Babluani, Jacques Dubuisson
Director: Géla Babluani, Temur Babluani

Official site

********************************

My Nikifor (Mój Nikifor)


Drama. Story of the last eight years of life of Nikifor Krynicki, famous "naive artist".

With Krystyna Feldman,Roman Gancarczyk, Jerzy Gudejko, Jowita Miondlikowska

Writers: Joanna Kos, Krzysztof Krauze
Director: Krzysztof Krauze

Joanna Kos, Krzysztof Krauze interview

Official site

********************************

The Serpent (Le Serpent)


Thriller. A photographer caught up in an ugly divorce is the target of revenge by his childhood classmate.

With Yvan Attal, Clovis Cornillac, Pierre Richard, Simon Abkarian, Minna Haapkylä

Writers: Eric Barbier and Trân-Minh Nam (based on the novel by Ted Lewis)
Director: Eric Barbier

Eric Barbier interview (en français)

Official site

********************************

Shoot 'Em Up


Thriller. A man named Mr. Smith delivers a woman's baby during a shootout, and is then called upon to protect the newborn from an army of gunmen.

With Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci, Stephen McHattie

Writer: Michael Davis
Director: Michael Davis

Michael Davis interview 1
Michael Davis interview 2
Michael Davis interview 3

Official site

********************************

Superbad


Comedy. Two co-dependent high school seniors are forced to deal with separation anxiety after their plan to stage a booze-soaked party goes awry.

With Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bill Hader, Seth Rogen, Martha MacIsaac

Writers: Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
Director: Greg Mottola

Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg interview 1
Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg interview 2 (video)
Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg interview 3
Evan Goldberg interview

Official site

********************************

True North


Drama. The crew of a bankrupt Scottish trawler turn to smuggling illegal immigrants over the stormy waters of the North Sea.

With Peter Mullan, Martin Compston, Gary Lewis, Steven Robertson, Angel Li, Hark Bohm

Writer: Steve Hudson
Director: Steve Hudson

Steve Hudson interview

Official site

********************************

Yacoubian Building (Omaret yakobean)


Drama. Multi-story about the residents of the famous Yacoubian Building,

With Adel Imam Nour El-Sherif Youssra Essad Youniss

Writer: Wahid Hamid (from the novel by Alaa' Al-Aswany)
Director: Marwan Hamed

Official site