Friday, October 06, 2006

Altman gets "Hands On"

Count this as the first (and probably only) time that i'm excited about a documentary I love getting the fictional treatment.

"Hands on a Hard Body," the 1997 documentary by S.R. Bindler, took an unlikely premise and made it into a real charmer. In an event that could probably only originate in Texas, 24 people compete to see who can stand upright the longest with their hand on a new Nissan truck, with the winner getting to take home the truck. As the event goes on for several days, it becomes a fascinating study of what would drive people to put themselves through this ridiculous hell just to get a vehicle.

Now, Robert Altman has set his sights on making a fictional flick about this mythic contest, with the help of screenwriter Stephen Harrigan. For Harrigan, who apparently has so far only worked on telefilms for Hallmark and Lifetime, this would have to be called a big step up.

And it seems like a natural fit for Altman. He excels at large ensemble dramas that have a lot to say about America, which this premise could, with the right treatment, definitely deliver.

Altman is apparently talking with Billy Bob Thornton and Hilary Swank to star in this one. I'd imagine when Robert Altman calls very few people would be able to turn him down.

Jack Black on the gridiron?

Now that's what I call a good day's work. New York Times sports scribe Pete Thamel has had his article, "In College Football, Big Paydays for Humiliation," picked up by Universal Pictures.

Jack Black will produce the flick, which will take the rather sorry practice of big colleges paying little ones big bucks to travel across the country to get slaughtered on the playing field and make it into a comedy. It's a subject ripe for satire, if they can land the right writer and director.

With Black already involved, and set to play a small role, why not Mike White and Jared Hess? The trio's "Nacho Libre," while much more than a little goofy, was also charming and very funny. Though Black and White's production company (Black and White Productions, natch) has dissolved, they are apparently still buds, and Hess would be a great director for it. I guess we'll have to wait and see ...

"Chris" gets some respect

Though I have no conclusive proof that I had anything to do with this, it makes me so happy that I'm gonna go ahead and take credit anyway.

When the CW announced it was moving "Everybody Hates Chris," easily one of my favorite shows, to the graveyard slot of 7 p.m. Sundays, I was, well, a little pissed. Now, after only a week, they're wisely changing course.

Though it's still the lead-in to a string of silly shows I rather snarkily called "Ghetto Night," the move to Mondays at 8 p.m. is definitely a well-deserved correction. Next Monday, the season premiere will be rebroadcast, with new shows returning beginning Oct. 16.

Call this one a rare victory for good TV.

BET on the 'Wire'

The only things I really miss after dropping HBO a couple of years ago are "The Sopranos" and "The Wire." Now, BET is about to bring the latter to us common folk.

HBO is finalizing a deal with BET to make it the syndicated home of "The Wire." The pact is expected to give BET all five seasons of the show, which would amount to 62 episodes (it is currently in its fourth season on HBO, with one additional and final season on order). BET is looking to begin airing one episode per week in primetime as soon as the first quarter next year, with multiple runs for each installment.

Nothing can take the place of my beloved "Homicide," but this drama from its creator, former Baltimore Sun crime reporter David Simon, did a lot to fill the void. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and catch up on DVD.

When Reginald Hudlin became BET's president for entertainment in July of 2005, he promised to turn the channel into more than a home for rap videos deemed too nasty for MTV. With this pending acquisition, it seems like he's finally starting to deliver on that promise.


jeremy said...

I don't know . . . the Hands on a Hard Body thing ran its course, in my mind. Plus, that ensemble piece w/ Glenn Close--which one was it? Chumscrubber maybe. Anyway, it was a subplot, but still it felt like it was rehashing well-worn territory. And now there's that show on E! where brides hold onto a dress until only one is standing.
Then again, I haven't really liked an Altman movie outside of Nashville.

Reel Fanatic said...

You may be right, Jeremy, but I still have a lot of respect for what Altman can do .. I recently managed to finally see Prairie Home Companion, and thought it was great

Divinity said...

Just started "The Wire" on DVD last night. My other major media blog read is Steven Rubio's and he's a rabid fan. Watched the first episode. Really well-written work. I think it may take some time to warm up to the characters.

Reel Fanatic said...

The beginning of "The Wire" is indeed hard to get into, Divinity, because they sort of drop you right in the middle of the Baltimore drug war ... I promise that if you stick with it, it becomes clearer as it goes on

marina said...

I never saw the documentary but the premise has room for a great and funny story. And dito on "Prairie Home Companion". For me, it was a pleasant surprise!

Jim Donahue said...

The problem is, BET will probably censor the hell out of "The Wire." They bleep the word "bitch" out of "Girlfriends" reruns, for pete's sake! (And please don't ask why I was watching "Girlfriends" reruns.)

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