Tuesday, March 17, 2009

David Chase and the golden age of Hollywood

Wow. I knew NBC's "Kings" would be a hard show for folks to get into, but from the numbers it looks like only Al Swearengen's devoted fans even bothered to start with it in the first place. Though I didn't bother to tune in for these other two, it can't be a good sign that Sunday's two-hour debut had numbers (6 million viewers, 1.6 preliminary 18-49 rating) that get it the honor of being mentioned in the trades in the same sentence with "Chopping Block" and "Crusoe." Enjoy it while you can.

In much, much better - deliriously better, I'd go so far as to say - TV news, Henry Rollins will join the cast of "Sons of Anarchy" for six episodes when the FX show returns April 27. Though, not unlike "Kings," the tale of the SAMCRO motorcycle gang starring Ron Perlman, Katey Sagal and Charlie Hunnam of "Undeclared" fame (if there really is any of that) unfolds slowly, it's pretty friggin' engrossing if you let yourself go along for the ride.

Rollins, who puts both the bad and occasionally the ass too in badass, will play one of the club's new enemies in the California town of Charming. That should be nothing but cool, and besides, shouldn't the leader of Black Flag get the chance to add more to his acting resume so the trades won't keep pointing out he was in "Bad Boys 2"?

But, before I got off on that slight tangent, this was supposed to be about the return of David Chase to HBO, which can only be called a good thing, especially since it's NOT to do a "Sopranos" flick that picks up where the series rather ambiguously (and, in my book, flawlessly) left off.

Instead he's developing a miniseries called "A Ribbon of Dreams," which will begin in 1913 and follow two men, one a college-educated mechanical engineer and the other a cowboy with a violent past, who head out to Hollywood to get into the movie business. In the story, the two begin as employees of D.W. Griffith and then cross paths with the likes of John Ford, John Wayne, Raoul Walsh, Bette Davis and Billy Wilder as they become powers in the movie industry themselves.

The casting options for this alone are enough to keep my mind occupied and off of my daily workload for quite a while, but no other info (like when any of this might hit the airwaves) came out this morning.

Sounds plenty cool to me, but long before that HBO is also cooking up something with a lot lower profile that will hopefully turn into enough of a hit that I get to watch it soon for free online.

The last movie that Anthony Minghella managed to direct before he died (eerily enough) of a hemorrhage exactly one year ago tomorrow was one based on Alexander McCall Smith's "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency," easily one of my favorite books. Minghella made it into a TV movie last year for HBO that just this morning got added to the "save" list on my Netflix queue for the day when it finally hits DVD, and come March 29 it will be reborn as a series for the channel. (And, it appears that if you're willing to watch it in installments on your computer, the entire movie is somehow on YouTube too in 11 parts or so.)

Starring R&B diva Jill Scott (who Tyler Perry has already proven is a pretty darn good actress), "The Wire" veteran Idris Elba and "Dreamgirl" Anika Noni Rose, the book, movie and now series are about Precious Ramotswe (Scott), who becomes the first female private detective in Botswana. It's light as air but all kinds of fun, so definitely tune in for this one if you can.

And, on a short tangential note before I close with the series trailer, was I the only who didn't know (until this morning) that Rashida Jones of "The Office" is Quincy Jones' daughter? I never would have guessed, but there's an interview with her this morning at Blackfilm.com to promote Friday's release of "I Love You, Man." Blackfilm.com, by the way, is a fantastic site and one that's a daily stop on my morning reading list, so definitely check it out.

But now here's the trailer for "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency," and with that I'm headed to the job I thankfully still have (though at least eight of my co-workers can't say that as of yesterday.) Enjoy, and have a perfectly pleasant Tuesday. Peace out.


Chalupa said...

Glad to hear you're still employed man.

I didn't watch Kings, but I think if I hadn't seen so many freaking commercials, I would have been more inclined to tune it. They were on TV, they were in the theaters before films, they were on the internet - I just got sick of the commercials.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm definitely with you there, but NBC clearly knew it had a lot of work to do with this one ... If it didn't have Ian McShane in it, I probably would have been sickened by the promotion too, which was certainly overkill instead of, as Buffy used to say, just enough kill

Mercurie said...

It's kind of depressing seeing how poorly Kings did. It is something different from the usual network television, and certainly better than another reality/dating/talent/chef show.

A Ribbon of Dreams sounds like it will be great. I have always been fascinated by Hollywood in the Thirties because it was such a place of dichotomies. And coming from David Chase, it has to be good.

Thisishollywood said...

Nice post
Historical period films are those that are set in the background of a historical period with some exceptions. There are certain standards that have to be maintained to classify a film as a historical period film. All things including the sets, props, costumes, styling, and characters will have to symbolize the time and background of the event.