Monday, October 16, 2006

"Studio 60" in trouble?

Wow. Fortunes seem to change faster on primetime TV than they do in the schoolyard. Barely a month after it was all the critics' darling, it seems "Studio 60" may be in trouble.

What are the signs? Well, there's the 30 percent of "Heroes" viewers it loses each week, and just a feeling in my gut. Plus, Michael Ausiello, on his great TV Guide blog, gave it a thumbs down on survival. After all, he (unlike me) gets paid for this kind of stuff.

But back to me. When did I turn on "Studio 60"? Well, I haven't completely yet, by any means, but last week's show contained one seriously nausea-inducing storyline.

For anyone who may have missed it, the episode revolved around a sketch that turned out to be plagiarized from a standup comedian. Here's my beef. I realize this is a fictional TV show, but in what world would a writer be able to pull crap like that and not get fired? None. It was incredibly stupid, and put my support for the show on life support.

But, tonight they get a chance to redeem themselves with a visit from the fabulous Lauren Graham (who, despite what those Esquire hacks say, is a hell of a lot sexier than Scarlett Johansson can ever hope to be). She will, I assume, be hosting the show-within-a-show, meaning back-to-back days of Lauren Graham in prime time. I couldn't have programmed it better myself.

And, on the remote chance that Joss Whedon is reading this, she would, as commenter Jeremy pointed out, make the ideal Wonder Woman.

Say it ain't so, Marty

Ever a showman, Martin Scorsese took his moment at the podium at Rome's inaugural film festival to drop a bomb.

After a screening of "The Departed" (his best film in many, many years), he said this: "I think I am figuring out that when a film has a very big budget that means that fewer risks can be taken. I don't know how much longer I can hold out in regard to the kind of movie the major studios would like to make and the kind of film I would like to make."

Now, I realize that's even less of a retirement statement than Jay-Z's, but following on George Lucas' declaration that he was abandoning feature films to focus on TV, it can't be good news for moviegoers.

But not so fast ... a quick visit to the IMDB revealed he has two projects in the works, at least one of which would have to be a big-budget affair.

That would be "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" (surely the name will change). With Leo set to star as Teddy himself, it's described as "a look at the formative years of the 26th president of the United States, from his transformation from a privileged New York politician to commander of the Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War." I thought "The Aviator" was a damn fine flick, so another grand Scorsese biopic sounds great to me.

The second project is "Silence," with Javier Bardem rumored to be one its big stars. It's apparently about two Jesuit priests who travel to seventeenth-century Imperial Japan to see how the evangelical mission is going. They witness severe persecution of the Christians there, and the movie deals with their reaction to that. This too would sound tailor-made to Scorsese.

These are both listed as 2008 releases, so I guess we'll be stuck with Mr. Scorsese for a little while now.

Now that's a bold move

What did it finally take for Fox Sports to fire Steve Lyons? Apparently being obnoxiously unfunny for several years now wasn't enough, so luckily he took it upon himself to add stupid to the mix as well.

I've enjoyed listening to Lou Piniella's commentary, especially for cryptic gems like this: expecting a player to repeat a hot performance was like "finding a wallet on a Friday night and looking for one on Sunday and Monday, too."

A little while later, when Piniella said Oakland A's infielder Marco Scutaro was "en fuego," Lyons responded: "Lou's hablaing some espanol there, and I'm still looking for my wallet. I don't understand him, and I don't want to sit close to him now."

Well, congratulations, Mr. Lyons. I don't know if anyone stole your wallet, but you talked your way right into unemployment in grand Lyons style.


Invisible Lizard said...

I agree with you about last week's Studio 60 plot. A much better story would have been dealing with the plagiarizing writer, but instead we had this circus around who really wrote that bit? I've watched and enjoyed this show from the beginning, but this one left a sour taste. Still though, I'm going to hate it when the inevitable axe falls.

Anonymous said...

Aaron Sorkin's banter worked well with presedential matters but comes of as smug in Studio 60. 30 Rock, on the other hand, hit it out of the park, as far as I'm concerned--which just goes to show, shows about shows should only be 30 minutes. Plus, I'm really sick of the Ballhaus-esque lighting in Studio 60.
(And Joss, if you are reading this, PLEASE PLEASE I implore you, Lauren Graham for Wonder Woman!)

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm definitely with you on the lighting, Jeremy, and not just because my eyes are slowly getting worse and I probably need new glasses .. it's a lame trick that just manages to annoy

wcdixon said...

We get Studio 60 a night earlier up here in Canada so have viewed it already - no spoilers but curious to see what you think. However, if the 30% drop off continues, don't know if it will matter if people likey or not.

Reel Fanatic said...

I just did read what some of your fellow Canadians had to say on AICN, wcdixon, and was disappointed to find that Lauren Graham doesn't have much to do at all on the episode .. I'll still be tuning in to find out though

renee said...

I'm shocked to hear that Studio 60 is in trouble. I still love it and everyone I've talked to about it loves it. There aren't enough good shows on to just discard them so quickly. The thing that annoyed me about last week's ep was that the skit ended up belonging to the show anyway. How likely is that?

Reel Fanatic said...

The ending was indeed too abrupt to be believable, Renee .. It felt like they had finished the show, then read through it and decided it needed a different ending .. a real mistake

Stephanie said...

I totally disagree with Jeremy about 30 Rock. I was expecting great writing after Tina Fey wrote Mean Girls, but when I tuned in, I found it extremely slow and not very funny at all. There were a few good moments in it, but not enough to make me watch it again.

Sadie Lou said...

Stuck with Scorsese sounds fine with me. He's a dying breed. I would hate to be left with younger generations of hardcore mafia directors--they are always about shock factors and not enough storyline.
As for Studio 60--I have too much TV to watch right now I couldn't possibly find the time for another one.
Maybe if it lasts for a whole season, I'll rent it.

Reel Fanatic said...

I have to agree with you on that one, Stephanie ... I've seen the first two episodes here at work, and I too thought it fell flat ... 20 Good Years is equally disappointing to me at the start, so that hour of programming on NBC looks like a dead zone

marina said...

That's probably why I couldn't figure out the show's attraction - my first and only episode was last week's. Go Figure.

As for Marty, he's been saying this for a few weeks now (I read a similar comment late last month when he was talking about the making of "The Departed") but when he first made the comment, he was talking of smaller budget and independent pics...not calling it quits altogether and, as you pointed out, he has a couple of things in the works already. I guess we'll just have to wait to see how things pan out.

Reel Fanatic said...

If we were to lose Lucas at this point, Marina, I'd probably say no big loss, but if Scorsese actually ever did follow through on this threat to any degree it would indeed be a dark day

Chris said...

One of the big discussions I've seen regarding "Studio 60" is the "show within a show," and how unfunny it is. And this is absolutely true. Someone wrote, "Well, everything else is great, why should we focus on that?" For a moment, I agreed.

But then I thought about it. Aren't we supposed to think that Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry are these hotshot guys with lots of ideas and vision and so forth, and isn't that the big reason we're supposed to care about these guys? It lacks a certain point of view--the show has an attitude and a philosophy, but it doesn't live by it.

So far, for me, the only reason to watch is Sarah Paulson. And that's not enough to keep watching in the future.

Oh yeah, and Lauren Graham is the hottest woman ever. This shouldn't even be a dispute.

Lori said...

Well, I can't speak about Studio 60 having never watched it. But I gotta say this trend of the networks' lack of patience with new series is really disturbing. I couldn't BELIEVE they yanked 'Smith' after only THREE eps. That show was great. Written well, acted well, great casting, great premise, lots of action to go with the drama. Just about perfect in my estimation.

I really hate the networks' lack of faith in their own programming. I can see their thinking...if 'Smith' didn't immediately perform and kick SVU's butt in the ratings (like that would ever happen), then it's a failure. And then I read some comment from some CBS exec about how there are just too many shows that require 'weekly commitments' on the part of the audience. That was their explanation for yanking it.

Uh...yeah, okay. Seems to me all these so-called creative execs need to re-learn the meaning of the terms 'series' and 'episodic television.'

It's just sad. I hope 'Studio 60' can escape that fate.

Reel Fanatic said...

Very well put, Lori .. I think it's a disease that has spread from TV to movies and now back again ... Though some movies can still build a good word of mouth without a knockout first week, it's getting rarer and rarer. .. It's gotten so bad with TV that I've only solidly committed to two new shows this year, Studio 60 and Heroes

Divinity said...

I didn't even notice Lauren Graham was the guest host. Christine Lahti, however, dominates the strong female role she cameos in. I'm really enjoying Studio 60 and sincerely hope it doesn't get axed anytime soon. I never followed West Wing due to what I perceived as its narrow political scope but Sports Night (watched on DVD) won me over to Sorkin's writing in a big way. (That and Sabrina Lloyd)
Here's to Sorkin pulling it out of the fire!

Reel Fanatic said...

I agree that Sports Night was superior to West Wing, Divinity, and I'm afraid it shows the flaws in Studio 60 ... The ensemble cast of Sports Night all had prominent enough roles that I wanted to know what happened to them each week, but with Studio 60, so far I only care about three or four cast members

Anonymous said...

Lauren will probably be on next week also.

Amy Reads said...

Hi Reel Fanatic,
I'm loving Studio 60, myself, and I'm also watching West Wing for the first time, at the same time. The first few episodes of WW were a bit smug, as well, but then the bottom blew out of the boat and everything just fell apart. I think we're an episode or two away from that happening in Studio 60, and then, oh then, it's going to get *fantastic*.
Lauren Graham for Wonder Woman? Yes, please. It's time she was given a bigger movie career.

PS But the real winner this season is, I think, Battlestar Galactica.

Amy Reads said...

I said, The first few episodes of WW were a bit smug, as well, but then the bottom blew out of the boat and everything just fell apart.

I meant, of course, that the bottom blew out of the characters' boat, and all the smugness fell apart, and really great tv happened as a result.

I need to stop posting while sleepy...

sanchapanzo said...

i have seen a few scorcese movies, but always thought his movies are not all that good. scorcese loses most of his movies by trading grandiose for plot. without a plot, i feel movies are not all that impressive as they could be.

biopics are not really all that good, the problem with biopics is that you have too much to consume and the director has too many things to worry-about, and is bound to lose focus and the result is a pretty ordinary movie.

Reel Fanatic said...

I knew what you meant Amy, and I make many of those mistakes myself when I type this blog often early in the morning .. to me, The West Wing was just superior to Studio 60, at least so far, because the tension was a lot higher and I cared more about most of the characters

Chance said...

I saw the first 2-3 episodes of Studio 60 & I was surprised that I din't hate it after the first, & that I wanted & did watch more. But I've missed the last 1-2 because of work.

Chris Hansen said...

Studio 60 does have some issues, and while I like it, I still have some problems with it. I will tell you this though -- the "plaigarizing from a comic" plot DID actually happen. Jay Mohr tells all about how he himself did this (the story is in his book about his time on SNL) and did NOT get fired in spite of the fact that he obviously should have. It was a similar situation -- guy who hadn't gotten anything on the show in forever and felt like he needed to get a sketch on the air...

Reel Fanatic said...

That's interesting to know, Chris ... I guess I just looked at it as someone who works in journalism rather than entertainment .. we have zero tolerance for plagiarism at the Telegraph, as evidenced by the fact that two reporters have been fired for it in recent years