Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

I know the critical love for this one is already at fever pitch, but having seen the pilot, I have to add my input: Believe all the hype and tune in Monday night.

Phil Ramati, the Telegraph's TV Guy, has a more in-depth critique of Aaron Sorkin's new "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," but he was also kind enough to give me a preview copy of the pilot, which has already debuted on the Web.

What's good? Well, almost everything. Think back to the first season of West Wing. When it was just President Bartlett's green staff trying to figure everything out. The dialogue was fast and funny, and it's just as good here.

The casting is also pitch-perfect. I've never appreciated Amanda Peet as much more than an extremely pretty face, but she really shines here. As the new studio president who finds her top show falling apart on her first day, she just has a look in her eye that keeps you guessing as to what she will from minute-to-minute. It's a real breakthrough performance.

Just as good are two very familiar TV faces, Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford, who are brought in to save the show. They share a professional and personal (though purely hetero) bond that you feel right from the outset, and you feel like you've known them for years. The only weak link is Steven Weber, who struggles to shed his lightweight "Wings" persona to play the heavy and can't quite deliver. Sarah Paulson and D.L. Hughley round out the main cast, and will surely be given more to do as the show unfolds.

The format should allow for a different "guest host" each week. For week one it's Felicity Huffman, and we know that Lauren Graham of "Gilmore Girls" is coming soon for more than one episode. It should be fun to see who turns up on what is easily this fall's most promising show. Welcome back, Mr. Sorkin.

"Horton" calls Carrey, Carell

I'm not sure what trauma Jim Carrey suffered in his childhood that drives him to keep ruining the best things from mine, but if therapy is what he needs I'll be glad to pitch in for the bill.

Already having conspired with Ron Howard to suck all the fun out of "The Grinch," he now has his eyes on another Dr. Seuss gem, "Horton Hears a Who."
Carrey has been cast as the voice of Horton and Steve Carell will join him as the mayor of Who-ville in a CGI-animated feature film of this classic tale from 20th Century Fox Animation.

For anyone who missed or has forgotten the original 1970 TV movie directed by the late, great Chuck Jones, Horton is an elephant who discovers there is a microscopic community of intelligent beings called the Who's living on a plant that only he can hear. Recognising the dangers they face, he resolves to keep them safe, even though none of the other animals believe his story.

Like many of the good doctor's best stories, it has a lot to say about how we treat the world around us, but I'm not hopeful any of that will make it into this new, thoroughly unnecessary version. Whereas Mr. Jones had the good sense to use a teleplay by the doctor himself, remake directors Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino will work from a script adaptation written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio.

If anyone with more power than me is willing to step forward and stop this madness, please do so now before it becomes too late.

Meirelles to go blind

In much, much better news, director Fernando Meirelles is returning to Brasil to make his third feature film, "Blindness." It will be based on the 1995 novel by Portuguese Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago about an epidemic of blindness that sweeps through an unnamed contemporary city and pushes society to the brink of breakdown.

The premise holds much promise, and Meirelles can do no wrong in my book. His debut, "City of God" was, without exaggeration, like nothing I had ever seen before. It's an ultra-real look at the life of street kids in Brasil that somehow manages to sustain an otherworldy look and feel throughout. If you haven't seen it, Netflix it now and thank me later. "The Constant Gardener," based on John Le Carre's novel, was a first-rate political thriller and a troubling look at what's happening in Africa today.

With this new project, set to begin shooting soon in Sao Paolo, Mr. Meirelles is certain only to garner more well-deserved acclaim.

20 comments:

jeremy said...

Hey dude, what up?
Did you hear that Luc Besson's next is slated to be his last? He's on to civic projects or something.
As for 'City of God' not being like anything you'd seen before--have you not seen Scorsese films?

Reel Fanatic said...

I have seen almost all of Scorsese's films, Jeremy, but I still stand by what i said about "City of God" ... it just has a look and feel that is thoroughly unique ... I had just seen that about Besson the other day ... Isn't his last film, therefore, gonna be an animated children's flick? Seems like an odd way to go out

carrie_lofty said...

Purely hetero? What's the fun in that?

Mercurie said...

I have to say that Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is one of the few new shows I am looking forward to this season. It's good to hear that for once the hype is true.

On the other hand, I actually shuddered when I saw that they might be adapting Horton Hears a Who as a movie. After the treatment The Grinch and The Cat in the Hat received, I hate to see what Horton might be like...

Reel Fanatic said...

I can't see any possible way that Horton will be good, Mercurie ... I'm not a terribly big fan of CGI animation in the first place, and I really just wish they would leave this odd little gem alone

madaboutmovies said...

I hate to say this but it seems to me such a waste that Peet has gone to TV. Sort of prooves my initial theory that she's not much more than a pretty face. I was hoping she would prove me wrong but I guess not...

As for Meirelles doing "Blindness"...HOLY SMOKES. This is going to be a powerhouse of a movie. I'm thrilled to see that it's first being made in it's mother tongue rather than basterdized into English. I can't WAIT to hear more about this.

themarina
madaboutmovies.net

Reel Fanatic said...

I might agree with, Marina, if this show, at least judging by the pilot, just wasn't so damn good ... She would indeed be wasted in more than 90 percent of the stuff that's on today's boob tube

Derek said...

I'll be tuning in to Studio 60. I'm hoping Aaron Sorkin can make another good "behind the scenes" show like with Sports Night. God, I miss that show.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm with you on Sports Night, Derek .. I think this one has the potential to be that good, but it has a different feel to it .. it's faster paced, and at least in the pilot, not as funny

Lori said...

Oh, lord...please make Jim Carrey stop. I'm so glad I have the book & the Chuck Jones version so that my kid will never have to see this travesty-to-be.

Reel Fanatic said...

Keep fighting the good fight, Lori .. These criminals will only be stopped if people tune them out

Hello Internet said...

What's the deal with hollywood in the last 5 years? It used to just be novels and foreign films that were ripped off. Now any comic book, childrens book or computer game with an ounce of creativity is deemed a great idea for a movie! When will people learn that some things are best kept in the format they were originally created.

BAH!

Julia_Claudine_Deveraux said...

How about if they named the new movie with Jim Carrey "Horton Hears a Hell To The Naw"? I wish they would leave Dr. Suess alone. The Grinch and Cat In The Hat were horrible!

Ditto for me regarding City Of God. That movie is just breathtaking! The new project sounds interesting, can't wait until it's released.

kalipornia said...

"How about if they named the new movie with Jim Carrey "Horton Hears a Hell To The Naw"?"

ahahahahah! that's great.

as for studio 60 i'm psyched it's on network tv. i only get three channels and whatever i stea.. er.. download from the interweb so the fact that i'll be able to watch primetime is very exciting.

and you said "first season of west wing..." so i'm fully there!

cinefille said...

I saw the pilot of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip... I really liked it... too bad I won't be able to see the entire season.

Reel Fanatic said...

That is a shame, cinefille, but they might put it out on the Web each week .. that certainly seems to be the way things are going with TV!

Alternati said...

The main disadvantage of living in the third world is the delayed TV show airings.

If they do "Green Eggs and Ham"... or have they already?

ryang said...

I hate to buck the trend, but I actually liked Carrey's 'Grinch.' But 'Cat in the Hat' was just a horrendous mess, and I really wish they would leave poor little Horton alone. They'll obviously have to invent a ton of backstory, and Mr. Giesel's work has already seen enough rough treatment from screenwriters. The man was a genius, creating timeless characters with simple, alliterative dialogue and primary-color sketches. Why does everyone think they can do Seuss one better?

Reel Fanatic said...

The only answer that comes to mind for me, Ryan, is simple arrogance ... How any would think they can improve on these timeless tales is well beyond me.

I haven't heard anything about "Green Eggs and Ham," alternati, but if I do I'll let you know ... This has to stop somewhere!

Maureen McGowan said...

I can't wait for Studio 60... so glad to hear it may actually live up to the hype.

Glad, too that it didn't premiere last week when I was at the TIFF!