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Monday movie bits and pieces

Just another one of those days filled with sequels and other things no one really needs.

* Armando Iannucci, the “In the Loop” guy, on his screenwriting Oscar chances:

“Our puppy Bramble won last night’s puppy training course. This gives us the momentum we need going into the Oscars.”

* Movie bloggers seem to agree that Ian McShane of “Deadwood” fame can only help the next “Pirates of the Caribbean 4″ while playing the legendary real-life pirate Blackbeard. Insert c-cks-cker joke here.

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* An English Jihadi comedy to screen at SXSW. Here’s hoping the documentary “American Grindhouse” covers its (huge) subject well, because I’ll want to see that one.

* Nikki Finke informs us Harvey Weinstein signed a DVD deal with Sony. I know, your world will never be the same. Just be grateful I don’t pass along all her news about whose at which agency now.

* Whilst promoting Kevin Smith’s “Cop Out,” Bruce Willis is telling people that there’ll be a “Die Hard 5″ and that it’ll should go “worldwide.”

* What do you do when you find out your best friend’s wife is cheating on him? That’s the knotty question that’ll be examined in an upcoming Ron Howard comedy starring Vince Vaughn that just attracted Kevin James, as per Screencrave’s Krystal Clark. Intriguingly, the script is by a writer more associated with dramas.

* Speaking of Mr. Smith, AICN’s Merrick reveals that it appears that Seann William Scott will star in his upcoming hockey comedy. Merrick also has the Warren Zevon/Mitch Albom song it’s based on, “Hit Somebody.”

* Coming eventually, maybe: Leonardo DiCaprio in a “‘Mystic River’ meets ‘Taken‘ storyline.”

* Glenn Kenny on people who don’t know the man personally referring to a certain director as “Marty”:

My general policy with movie people is to address them as “Mr.” or “Ms.” until explicitly instructed otherwise. I’m not trying to lord it over anybody with this etiquette tip. I’m just saying that my mother raised me with some fucking manners…I’ve always loved the phrase “fucking manners,” haven’t you?

You can follow us on Twitter @moviebuffs and on Facebook as well.

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TV in the 2000s: 15 Shows Canceled After Appearing in Bullz-Eye’s TV Power Rankings*

*Probably Coincidentally

Back in 2005, Bullz-Eye kicked off a regularly-recurring feature that’s become a staple of our site: the TV Power Rankings, which gives us a chance to offer up our opinions once every six months on the best that television has to offer. Now that we’re looking back at the entire decade in our TV in the 2000s feature, however, it gave us an opportunity to look back at all of the shows that have appeared within the Rankings over the course of its history, and when we did, it was a little eyebrow-raising to see how many of our favorite programs bit the dust almost immediately after receiving accolades from us. We’re pretty sure their cancellations weren’t our fault…or, at least, not entirely. Anyway, take a look back through the list with us, won’t you? If nothing else, it shows that we’ve got good taste, even if the average viewer doesn’t always share our opinions.

1. Arrested Development (Fox, 2003 – 2006) – “Even if this is indeed the end for one of Fox’s all time greatest shows, it is better to have loved and lost…oh, the hell with that, Fox is freaking nuts if they cancel this show.” So said David Medsker in February 2006. But did they listen to him? They did not. “We’re not ones to buy into the whole dumbing-down-of-society thing,” Medsker added, “but if this show gets canned while ‘According to Jim’ lives on, maybe there’s something to it after all.” Oh, yeah, there’s definitely something to it: “According to Jim” stayed on the air until June 2009.

2. Deadwood (HBO, 2004 – 2006) – When it was announced that Season 3 would be the last for the semi-historical look at the wild west, there was really only one name that John Paulsen could call the folks at HBO. We probably shouldn’t use it here, but if you need a hint, it starts with a “C” and rhymes with “sock pluckers.” “Everything about the show – the language, the acting, the story, the sets and the costumes – is colorful,” Paulsen observed in February 2007, “and whether or not HBO wants to admit it, they’re going to miss ‘Deadwood’ once it’s gone for good.” They must’ve been in some serious denial, then: creator David Milch reportedly agreed to do a proper wrap-up of the series through a pair of “Deadwood” movies” for the network, but things never really got beyond the discussion stage.

3. Invasion (ABC, 2005 – 2006) – The fall of 2005 was a good time in prime time for sci-fi fans, with each of the big three networks offering up an entry from the genre, but by the spring of 2006, their cheers had turned to tears. NBC’s “Surface” was permanently submerged after 15 episodes, while CBS’s “Threshold” crossed the point of no return after only nine episodes had aired. Give ABC some credit, however, for at least sticking with their entry for the full 22. “’Invasion’ started slowly, but has steadily ramped up the creepiness,” said John Paulsen in February ’06, acknowledging that, although it gave its audience lots of questions, at least it was providing them with more answers than “Lost” was. Unfortunately, there was still plenty to be answered when the show was canceled, and things got even more depressing when Tyler Labine talked to Bullz-Eye about what might’ve been. “(Creator Shaun Cassidy) had written this bible for the show, and he had written this amazing five-season arc,” said Labine. “We were just floored. Our jaws were literally on the floor after he explained it to us. We were, like, ‘Wow, we’re on for a really great ride!’” What a shame for us all that the ride ended as quickly as it did.

4. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC, 2005 – 2006) – Well, you can’t say that we weren’t honest about offering up both the pros and the cons of Aaron Sorkin’s behind-the-scenes look into a late-night comedy series. “The show is pompous, unrealistic and ridiculously left-wing,” admitted Jason Zingale in February 2007, “but it also makes for some damn good television.” Unfortunately, with an awful lead-in – seriously, who thought that pairing the show with “Heroes” was a good idea? – “Studio 60” didn’t develop enough of a following to earn a second season.

5. Rome (HBO, 2005 – 2007) – In its first season, “Rome” turned up at #18 in the Power Rankings, but by the time Season 2 aired, it had leapt to #6. Not that such success earned the show a third season (it was apparently ridiculously expensive to produce, which you can absolutely believe if you’ve ever seen it, but at least the news of its cancellation came in time for John Paulsen to register his annoyance within the February 2007 Rankings. “As it turns out, ‘Rome’ isn’t the heir to the throne of ‘The Sopranos,’” he wrote. “Instead, sadly, it’s a bastard stepchild, just like ‘Deadwood.’” Creator Bruno Heller was probably even more pissed than Paulsen, having mapped out his vision of the series all the way through its fifth season, but as recently as December 2008, Heller was still sounding optimistic about the chances for a “Rome” movie. “I would love to round that show off,” he told the Hollywood Reporter. Hey, we’re behind you 100%, Bruno.

6. Four Kings (NBC, 2006) – If you don’t remember this sitcom, you’re forgiven, as it premiered in January 2006 and was gone by March. Still, it made enough of an impression to earn Honorable Mention status in the February 2006 rankings. “Four Kings” was created by David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, the duo behind “Will and Grace,” and featured Seth Green as one of its cast members, so you might think it surprising that it was off the air within seven episodes (and with a remaining six episodes still unaired). Looking back, however, the fact that the greatest praise Jason Zingale could heap upon the show in his write-up was that “it’s a worthy quick-fix until NBC finds a better alternative” should’ve given us a clue that it wasn’t long for this world.

7. Jericho (CBS, 2006 – 2008) – It was the little show that could, our “Jericho.” It started with an awesomely dark premise – a nuclear bomb goes off in the U.S., and we view the repercussions through the eyes of a small town in Kansas – and, after figuring out its direction (the attempts to meld some “Little House on the Prairie” aspects to the show were soon phased out), the series found its footing, kicked some creative ass, and was promptly canceled. But what’s this…? The show’s diehard fanbase made enough noise (and sent enough nuts) to get the show a 7-episode second season which lived up to everyone’s expectations and then some. Too bad the same couldn’t be said for the ratings, but those who actually tuned in for Season 2 know how many twists, turns, and outright shocks it included. There’s still talk of a possible “Jericho” movie. We can only hope.

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Wuthering Heights

Here’s a long forgotten relic from the past. It’s a BBC adaptation from 1967 of the Emily Brontë classic, and there’s really only one reason it’s out on DVD at all: It stars Ian McShane (“Deadwood”) as Heathcliff. I’m a slave to all things “Wuthering Heights,” and not just because Kate Bush put her stamp on it, either. I’ll watch any adaptation of the book that comes out, and my wife tells me this makes me a very strange man, since to her mind, it’s not a story that many guys dig. What’s not to like? A guy is jilted by his one true love and proceeds to makes life for her (and everyone she knows) a living hell. I get it; I see where ol’ Heathcliff is coming from. He probably takes it a bit too far, though, especially in the second half of the story, when Cathy’s been dead for years and he’s still pissed off and inflicting all manner of pain and degradation on the next generation. Dude – you’ve got to learn to let it go! I say this through every version, and of course he never gets it right. But those misty moors keep calling me back for further helpings, and I can’t get enough “Wuthering Heights.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t one of the better adaptations, especially given how many strong versions have been produced in recent years. With a running time of just over 3 hours, it pretty much covers the entire story, which is certainly a plus. However, the DVD artwork is somewhat misleading. The full color shot of McShane and Angela Scoular (who plays Cathy) might lead you to believe this is considerably more sumptuous than it actually is. It is in fact in black and white, and the video quality is mediocre at best. The entire thing feels like a stage play on film, and perhaps worst of all, it has no musical score whatsoever. It’s pretty creaky, vintage British TV that’s ultimately saved by McShane, who, even at the age of 25, plays an utter bastard (literally) better than most. Even with the problematic production values, he’s a force with which to be reckoned. The same can’t be said for Scoular, who’s one of the brattiest and most unlikable Cathys ever filmed. Ultimately, this version is only going to have two audiences: “Heights” completists like myself, and female McShane fans with a masochistic streak.

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Bullz-Eye’s TCA 2009 Summer Press Tour Wrap-Up: Cougars, Muppets, Vampires, and Gordon Ramsay, Too!

God bless the TCA Press Tour, where the television industry gives critics from throughout North America the opportunity to play with the folks who live and work in Hollywood. The tour allows us a remarkable amount of access to the stars, producers, directors, and writers of the various shows currently taking up residence on the various cable and broadcast networks. Yes, while I may spend 48 weeks out of the year feeling like a nobody, for those four weeks – two in the summer, two in the winter – which are taken up by the tour, I’m at least made to feel like I’m a somebody. (Really, though, I’m not anybody.)

This was the first time the summer tour had been held after Comic-Con rather than before, so there was a certain amount of grumbling about the fact that the fans were getting a certain amount of information that would’ve ordinarily gone to the critics first, but it must be said that the networks did a pretty good job of pacifying us. And, besides, aren’t the fans supposed to come first, anyway?

Although the content that I managed to accrue during the course of the tour will continue to come your way for quite some time to come, what you see before you is a summary of the highs and lows of the event, mixing stories you may have already read on Premium Hollywood with many that I simply haven’t had a chance to discuss yet. As ever, it was a heck of a good time, full of the kind of moments that leave me grateful that I managed to get that journalism degree from Averett College back in 1992, pleased as punch that Bullz-Eye and Premium Hollywood have given me the opportunity to cover the tour, and, most of all, that there are lot of great readers out there who seem to enjoy the tales I bring back from these strange TCA adventures that I’ve embarked upon.

Let’s get started, shall we?

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Bullz-Eye’s back with their latest TV Power Rankings!

NBC may not be King of the Nielsen Ratings just yet, but we know good television when we see it, and the Peacock has returned in full force with a dominating presence that includes the top three shows and five of the top six. HBO, on the other hand, is experiencing the opposite, with the departure of “The Sopranos,” “Deadwood” and “Rome.” Add to that the fact that our list features a whopping 10 new entries — five of which are freshmen — and you’ve got one heck of a Power Rankings shakeup. Much of this has to do with so many shows being on hiatus until next year, but whatever the cause, it’s nice to see some much-needed change to a usually familiar lineup. And, hey, don’t miss the list of our favorite shows which are currently on hiatus (and are therefore ineligible for the Top-20), our farewell to “The Sopranos,” and our stable of Honorable Mentions.

Check out the list here, then come back and let us know how we did…or if we missed any of your favorites!

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