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TCA Tour: The Deep End

Legal dramas come and legal dramas go, with some succeeding admirably (congrats to Julianna Marguiles for her Golden Globes win for her performance on CBS’s “The Good Wife”) and some failing miserably (stand up, please, TNT’s critically-berated “Raising the Bar”), but they’re a proven commodity, so it’s rarely a surprise to hear that another one’s being rolled out. Tonight brings the premiere of ABC’s latest contribution to the genre, “The Deep End,” and when the cast and producers of the series sat still for their panel during the TCA press tour, it was only to be expected that someone would ask them if they’re bringing anything new to the table.

“I kind of see this show as kind of the reboot of the legal show,” said executive prodcer David Hemingson. “I think if you go all the way back in television history, back to ‘Perry Mason’ and ‘The Defenders’ and certainly the incredible job that Steven Bochco did with ‘L.A. Law,’ and David E. Kelley, there’s a rich tradition. Like with medical shows, there’s a rich tradition of legal shows, but I think there’s never been a legal show that has taken it from the perspective of these newly minted lawyers, these newbees, these kids who’ve come out and they’re confronting the reality of their practice for the first time and they’re being dropped into this intensely political, highly charged environment and also, you know, having the partners kind of reflecting on how they’ve changed in relation to the kids. So I think the interpersonal aspects of the show, I think the comedy of the show, the sexiness of the show, the fun of the show is something we haven’t quite seen, especially from a 20-something perspective. And when you consider the fact that it’s also sort of conflated with some really realistic kind of ripped-from-the-headlines cases that we’re doing, I think it distinguishes itself from anything that’s been on thus far. At least, we hope it does.”

Hemingson also acknowledged that the timing couldn’t have been more perfect to get the series onto ABC. “I would say it was sort of like a confluence of circumstances or a wonderful moment,” he said, “because I actually started out as a lawyer coming from New York to L.A. some years ago, and it was a story that I always wanted to tell, a story very near and dear to my heart. And I felt like with a couple of decades I had some perspective and it just so happened that it coincided with ABC’s need for new drama, a new dramedy. And so the stars kind of aligned for us, and I just feel fortunate to be doing it this way with Jan and with this fantastic cast.”

Of that cast, the face that will likely leap out to most viewers is Billy Zane, who gets yet another opportunity to tear into a larger-than-life character as Cliff Huddle. Someone immediately made the observation that the actor’s name rhymes with another famous TV lawyer (Denny Crane), but it’s apparently complete coincidence.

“This character was based on someone that came directly out of David’s experience,” revealed Zane. “Now, obviously, we have the flesh and bone and the odd bit of spin on the free throw, but it’s all there. This is writing at its best, which is why we’re all here and, I think, is a testament to what hopefully will be the success of this show and what people will find endearing and identifiable about the characters. As repellent and attractive and inspired as they are, you cannot wait to see what they’re going to do next.”

Hemingson quickly clarified Zane’s statement about the source of his character’s inspiration. “I practiced basically as an attorney for three years, three months, two days…but who’s counting?” he asked, rhetorically. “It was definitely one of the transformative experiences of my life, and I got to know a lot of really supercharged personalities, (but) the lawyer’s answer would be that any resemblance to any character living today is purely coincidental.”

That’s probably the best possible tactic to take when discussing Cliff’s origins, given that the next person to question Zane about his character used the phrase “Prince of Darkness” to describe him. Zane clarifies, however, that Cliff isn’t the Devil nor even a devil.

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TCA Tour: Live from (the same state as) the Golden Globes!

Since I’m currently sitting in southern California with a bunch of TV critics and watching the Golden Globes, it seems a little ridiculous for me to do anything other than live blog the thing…well, the TV portion, anyway. I wouldn’t dare take away anything from Mr. Westal’s coverage of the film portion. With that said, however, I can’t exactly ignore the show’s host, Ricky Gervais, so I’m definitely planning to give him a shout-out whenever he offers up a great line.

I’ve never done this before, so be gentle with me…

8:01 PM: Gervais suggests that most people probably know him as the guy from the original British “Office,” then shakes his head and says, “No, you don’t, do you?” The highlight comes when Gervais suggests that “quality, not quantity” makes his version of “The Office” the better one, which results in Steve Carell’s mouthing of “I will break you” to Gervais.

8:02 PM: “I’m not used to these sort of viewing figures. Then again, neither is NBC.”

8:03 PM: “Actors: they’re just better than ordinary people, aren’t they?” Hugh Laurie seems amused by Gervais’s remarks about he plays a doctor on television better than a real physician would, while Kiefer Sutherland is perhaps less so by the suggestion that some of the fights on “24″ aren’t scripted.

8:04 PM: “Let’s get on with it before NBC replaces me with Jay Leno.”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy: Toni Collette, “United States of Tara.” Although I’m a little surprised that Tina Fey didn’t take home the award, I acknowledged in my nominations piece that I figured a lot of people might favor Collette. I guess it was an easy pick. It just wasn’t mine. I still think it’s John Corbett and the kids who are the real stars of that show.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television: John Lithgow, “Dexter.” I still haven’t seen his performance yet, and yet I still picked it. That’s how strong the buzz was. Glad to see it paid off.

8:29 PM: “We’ve seen some worthy winners…aaaaaaand we’ve seen some not so worthy winners.”

8:30 PM: After observing that one can’t officially buy a Golden Globe Award, Gervais concedes that he’s probably never going to be allowed to do the show again.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama: Michael C. Hall, “Dexter.” I think that, at three (TV) awards in a row, you can officially begin to suggest that Showtime is dominating the proceedings. Given the acclaim that this season has received, I’m not surprised that Hall beat out my pick (Hugh Laurie), and once you’ve factored in the fact that he’s battling back from lymphoma, who could complain, really?

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama: Julianna Marguiles, “The Good Wife.” Holy crap! My dark horse pick took home the win! What an awesome line from Julianna about CBS keeping the faith by continuing to air quality drama at 10 PM. I announced to my fellow critics that I’d gotten this pick right, and I was accused of being Nostradamus. Somebody cue up “We Are The Champions,” please. I’d like to enjoy this victory as long as possible.

8:43 PM: Gervais bashes Paul McCartney by claiming that he shared a flight with the former Beatle, with Gervais in first class and Macca in coach because he’s “saving money.” After receiving several boos for his trouble, Gervais assures the crowd, “Uh, I think he’s still doing all right!”

Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: “Grey Gardens.” No complaints. I picked “Taking Chance” for this category, but I picked Drew Barrymore for her performance in the film, so I can hardly argue with this selection.

8:59 PM: Gervais decries the boozing, brawling Irish stereotype, then introduces Colin Farrell. (Farrell admits, “When I heard Ricky Gervais was gonna be introducing me, I said, ‘Oh, balls…’”)

9:09 PM: When Helen Mirren said, “Life,” then paused, I was really hoping she was going to follow it by saying, “Don’t talk to me about life.” But she didn’t.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Kevin Bacon, “Taking Chance.” Same situation as above. I wanted to see Chiwetel Ejiofor take it home for “Endgame,” but given how much I loved “Taking Chance,” I’ve no complaints.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Drew Barrymore, “Grey Gardens.” Exxxxxxxcellent. Someone here just referred to the performance as “her first acting award,” and there’s a certain amount of truth to that, as she offered up more in “Grey Gardens” than most people would’ve expected that she had in her. You know, I’ve watched “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” a lot of times, but that reference to “Jeff Spicoli’s girlfriend” flew right over my head. Anyone…?

9:22 PM: Gervais notes how actors want to be ever-changing and constantly moving, then says, “Please welcome Rachel from ‘Friends’ and that bloke from ’300.’”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy: Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock.” You can never go wrong with Alec Baldwin, I guess. But I still wanted Steve Carell to win it, if only to hear what Gervais had to say about it.

9:36 PM: God love Zachary Levi and Amy Poehler, but…really? Those were the best jokes you could provide for the stars of two of NBC’s best shows? The network needs all the help it can get!

Best Television Series – Drama: “Mad Men.” This is a category where there were no losers, but with that said, I really couldn’t imagine any other series than this one taking home the win. Look at the beard on Jon Hamm..and the breasts on Christina Hendricks! I couldn’t believe the music kicked in so quickly on Matthew Weiner, but as someone here said, it’s a basic-cable network. That doesn’t buy you much time, no matter how much acclaim your show gets.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television: Chloe Sevigny, “Big Love.” The only thing more upsetting than her win is her dress. I kid. Well, about the win, anyway. (I love Rose Byrne, but after seeing her today at the TCA panel for “Damages,” I was beginning to wonder if she was even capable of smiling anymore.) Seriously, though, that dress is horrid.

9:48 PM: Gervais sips from what is almost certainly a glass of real lager, then struggles to get a laugh from his “Catwoman” joke…which is probably almost as much of a struggle as it took to get Halle Berry into that dress she’s wearing.

9:57 PM: Am I the only one who was just creeped out by DeNiro’s bit about Scorcese having sex with film?

10:00 PM: Great clipfest for Scorcese. Methinks it might be time to go order a copy of “The King of Comedy” from Amazon.

10:12 PM: The lager’s back, as Gervais admits, “I’ve had a couple, I’m not gonna lie to you.” He then blames the alcohol for anyone he might’ve offended, after which he quickly offers up the most incredible introduction of the night: “I like a drink as much as the next man…unless the next man is Mel Gibson.” And just like that, Ricky Gervais is officially the best host of the Golden Globes EVER.

10:16 PM: James Cameron wins for “Avatar,” and Dileep Rao’s Golden Globes party suddenly gets kicked up a notch. I only mention this because he went to that party instead of having dinner with me. You got lucky, Rao!

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy: “Glee.” That’s going to be one happy set when I go visit it tomorrow. Nice shout-out from Ryan Murphy to Miss Barbra Streisand and the show’s “fake sexy teen cast,” as well as the dedication to everyone who ever got a wedgie in high school. Aw, that’s so sweet of you to include me, Ryan…

Well, that’s it for the TV awards, but I have to hang in there to see if Ricky Gervais has anything else left to say…or anyone else does, for that matter. Like, say, the governor of California…

10:34 PM: Damn, even Schwarzenegger can’t resist getting in a jab at NBC!

10:35 PM: Gervais really must be scared of Mickey Rourke if the best he can offer up is, “I haven’t gotten a bad word to say about him, mostly because he’s got arms as big as my legs.”

10:42 PM: I hope the kazillion ads they’ve shown for “Parenthood’ actually earn the show some viewers. I really liked the pilot. I can’t say the same for “The Marriage Ref,” partially because they haven’t produced a screener for us yet, but mostly because of my feud with Jerry Seinfeld. But that’s a story for another time.

10:52 PM: Do you get the impression that, were it not for Chrysler, we might’ve been stuck listening to the Golden Globes on the radio?

10:55 PM: What? Straight into Julia Roberts and Best Motion Picture – Drama without a last appearance from Gervias? Gyp! Oh, well, at least “Avatar” won. Congrats again, Mr. Rao. I just hope that party was worth it…

10:59 PM: Ah, there we go. “If I had one wish, it would be for peace on earth. No, wait, can I change that? It would be for everyone to watch ‘The Ricky Gervais Show,’ on HBO on Feb. 19th.” Way to end on a plug, sir.

So there you go: my first-ever live blog. I hope it made for at least a semi-entertaining read, and stay tuned for Bob Westal’s movie portion of the proceedings, coming soon!

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Bill Paxton is up for a “Twister” sequel. Anyone else?

In an interview with Bullz-Eye in conjunction with the season premiere of HBO’s “Big Love” (Sunday, Dec. 10th), Bill Paxton revealed that one of the items on his to-do list is a sequel to his 1996 blockbuster, “Twister.”

“I’ve had a meeting at the studio with Kathleen Kennedy about it,” Paxton said, whose inspiration for a sequel came as a result of a trip that he took to the Ozark Mountains last spring.

“I flew into St. Louis with my buddy Scott Thomson, who played Preacher in ‘Twister,’ and we rented a car and drove down to southeastern Missouri, into the Ozarks,” said Paxton. “We spent the night, and the next morning we got up and we started tracking the trail of the most famous tornado that ever hit the country, which was the Tri-State Tornado of 1925. It still holds all of the records. It was called the Tri-State because it was a mile wide when it came down from the sky on the afternoon of March 16, 1925, and it was a rural area, but, boy, before it was through, it crossed the Mississippi, it cut across southern Illinois, where it hit a lot of towns. The biggest one was Murphysboro, which was…it literally looked like Hiroshima after it hit. And then it went across the Wabash, into Indiana, staying on the ground three and a half hours and cutting a damage path 219 miles long, killing about 700 people. There’s actually footage that I found in Murphysboro at their historical society. They had footage from a biplane that the government sent down, just to do aerial footage of all of the destruction and the damage. So we just did that to kind of get some ideas, and from that I kind of extrapolated an idea for a sequel. And I kind of put that together into a format, and now we’re kind of waiting to see if that’s going to move forward.That would need Steven Spielberg’s blessing, ultimately, and they probably won’t take it to him ‘til there’s real studio interest, but I think the 3D applications of that could obviously be pretty amazing.

“The only reason I’d like to revisit that ground is because I realize we’re living in a time where big movies cost so much to make that the town is looking for built-in audiences,” admitted Paxton. “Of course, I’m so glad to see that the success of ‘Avatar’ is disproving that theory, but…I always thought the first ‘Twister’ was an exciting ride, but I thought a sequel could explore it in a more enthralling way, getting into more of the history and the lore, more of a darker version of the first one.”

Although it may sound more serious than the original “Twister,” Paxton doesn’t think that fans of the first film would have any problem accepting the sequel. “I think you’d still want to have a lot of the dark humor and all of that, with the flying cows and everything,” he said, with a laugh. “I think you could kind of intrigue people more by getting into a little more of the lore and really understanding. I just think there’s a lot more to explore there. When I researched the first film when I was getting ready to do it, I just found so much stuff. Ultimately, I was happy with ‘Twister,’ but I also had thought that it could’ve gotten a little deeper into it.”

What you do you think? I can’t say I’ve been chomping at the bit for “Twister 2,” but Paxton has proven in the past that he can make just about anything worth watching, and his point about how such a film would be perfect for 3D is certainly food for thought.

Check out the full interview with Mr. Paxton by clicking right here.

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Let’s Have a Ball Down at the Globes (TV Edition)

The announcements have been made, and the nominations for the 67th Golden Globe Awards are now officially a matter of public record, but just in case you haven’t caught them elsewhere (which, to be fair, is highly possible), here’s my look at the TV series, mini-series, and movies which received nods, along with my personal picks for who should take home the win for each category.

Best Television Series – Drama

• Big Love (HBO)
• Dexter (Showtime)
• House (Fox)
• Mad Men (AMC)
• True Blood (HBO)

My pick: “Mad Men.” Regular readers of Premium Hollywood had probably already narrowed my pick down to two entries, anyway, since I’m the designated blogger for both “True Blood” and “Mad Men,” but while “True Blood” had a strong season that was tarnished slightly by an unsatisfying finale, “Mad Men” offered up a full-fledged game-changer for the conclusion of their third year. The most notable omission from this list, however, is “Sons of Anarchy,” which you could almost write off as being too harsh for the voters if you didn’t have a drama about a serial killer in the mix.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama

• Glenn Close, “Damages” (FX)
• January Jones, “Mad Men” (AMC)
• Julianna Marguiles, “The Good Wife” (CBS)
• Anna Paquin, “True Blood” (HBO)
• Kyra Sedgwick, “The Closer” (TNT)

My pick: Julianna Marguiles. I know full well that it’s a dark horse pick that almost certainly won’t pay off, but “The Good Wife” has been my favorite drama of the new season, and Marguiles offers a multi-layered performance as Alicia Florrick, a woman having to struggle with the media shining the spotlight on her husband’s infidelity and political and legal misdealings while she’s trying to return to a career as a litigator. And am I the only one who scoffed somewhat at January Jones’ nomination? Of the three primary “Mad Men” actresses, she’s the last I would’ve nominated, and this is one case where I think most would agree with me.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama

• Simon Baker, “The Mentalist” (CBS)
• Michael C. Hall, “Dexter” (Showtime)
• Jon Hamm, “Mad Men” (AMC)
• Hugh Laurie, “House” (Fox)
• Bill Paxton, “Big Love” (HBO)

My pick: Hugh Laurie, “House.” God love Jon Hamm, but I said of the “House” season premiere back in September that it was “strong enough to warrant giving Hugh Laurie an Emmy nomination no matter what else he may do on the show during the course of the season’s subsequent episodes,” and I stand by that.

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The Return of Bullz-Eye’s TV Power Rankings

Ever since the writers’ strike, the television industry has been in a state of flux. Most networks still can’t figure out what works from what doesn’t, while the current economic climate has forced others to simply give up. Whether or not “The Jay Leno Show” is a success for NBC is debatable, but by surrendering the 10 p.m. time slot, they’ve greatly decreased their chances of bringing in new viewers. We would be exaggerating if we said the decision affected Bullz-Eye’s latest edition of the TV Power Rankings, but our Winter 2009 list does seem suspiciously familiar. Still, it isn’t without its surprises, as a longtime favorite returned from an extended hiatus to claim the top spot, while buzzworthy rookies like “Glee” and “FlashForward” also made impressive Top 10 debuts. At the end of the day, however, the real winner is HBO, who walked away with three of the four top spots, thus reestablishing themselves as the best network around.

A few examples from the piece:


5. Glee (Fox): There isn’t a show on this list that we love and hate with the same enthusiasm that we have for “Glee.” It contains some of the best-drawn characters in Fox’s history (aspiring diva Rachel Berry, adorable germaphobe Emma Pillsbury, cantankerous alpha female Sue Sylvester), and the iTunes chart-burning musical numbers, lip synching aside, are deliriously fun. Imagine, then, if they didn’t make these characters jump through such ridiculous hoops. Will’s wife is actually going to take her fake pregnancy to term? Emma agrees to marry Ken, but only as long as they never tell a soul? (Those plot threads brought to you by Bad Idea Jeans.) Yet for each blunder the show makes, they come up with something as brilliantly funny as Finn’s technique for not climaxing (he thinks about the time when he hit the mailman with his car), or the drama queen freak show that is Sandy Ryerson (a pitch-perfect Stephen Tobolowsky). Getting Josh Groban to do a cameo as a horndog version of himself, meanwhile – and hit on Will’s drunk mother – was a moment of “Arrested Development”-style genius. Yes, it’s made mistakes, but “Glee” gets a spot in our Top Five because no other show on TV sports dialogue like “mentally ill ginger pygmy with eyes like a bush baby.” But man, it would be a wonderful world if they did.David Medsker

15. Dexter (Showtime): Like “The Sopranos,” Dexter always has a theme that is explored within a season as a backdrop to the episodic progression of the show. Last season, it examined friendship within the context of Dexter’s secret world, and Jimmy Smits was brilliant as his first and only pal. This year explores the facets of intimate relationships, and balancing work and the rest of your life as it relates to it. Dexter (played with brilliant sincerity and conviction by Michael C. Hall) is struggling to find balance between his work as a blood splatter analyst, a new dad of an infant, stepfather to his wife’s kids, and his hobby of killing and dismembering other bad guys, while his entertainingly foul-mouthed sister Deb implodes the most stable relationship of her life when she sleeps with returning lover and retired FBI agent Frank Lundy. John Lithgow is also scary good as the Trinity Killer, the latest object of Dexter’s attention. When Trinity kills Lundy and wounds Deb while making it look like another killer’s signature, Dex is commanded by the ghost of Harry to seek revenge, making this season as entertaining as any in the past – no easy feat considering how consistently good this show has been.R. David Smola

Honorable MentionCougar Town (ABC): Yeah, yeah, we know: the title’s a bit dodgy. But Bill Lawrence, who co-created the show with Kevin Biegel, has said, “The roll of the dice I’ve made is that the title is noisy and that people will be aware of this show.” True enough, though the fact that the series stars Courtney Cox would’ve probably done a pretty decent job of putting it on people’s radar, anyway. The pilot alone was strong enough to suggest that “Cougar Town” could prove to be the perfect series for female viewers who’ve outgrown “Sex and the City,” but with enough of a dysfunctional family element to fit perfectly into the closing slot in ABC’s new Wednesday night comedy line-up. Although the show continues to hone its comedic formula, the trio of Cox, Christa Miller and Busy Philipps clicked immediately (particularly the latter two, with their characters’ diametrically opposed personalities), and the relationship between the teenaged Travis and his man-child of a father rings true with its blend of unconditional love and complete embarrassment. Now that Jules’s fling with Josh is over, however, we’re curious to see who’ll be next on her slate to date — and how long this one will last.Will Harris

Returning in 2010Lost (ABC): Here we are, folks. After five seasons of confusing viewers with one of the most elaborate mythologies on television, “Lost” is finally in the home stretch. Want to know what the heck that smoke monster really is? How about the weird statue? Heck, what about the Dharma Initiative itself? All will supposedly be revealed in the sixth and final season of one of the smartest, most fearless shows network television has ever bothered to offer. Of course, this being “Lost,” we still have something to bitch about – namely, that the goddamn Olympics will interrupt the show’s final 18 episodes – but if we’ve waited this long to determine the ultimate fate of our favorite island castaways, what’s a few weeks of curling and cross-country skiing? We’ve all had our issues with the way “Lost” has unfolded over the years, and the show isn’t the phenomenon it was in its first couple of seasons. To cop one of the fall’s most popular phrases, though, this is it – and if there’s ever been a serialized drama with the guts to stick the landing and make its finale truly count, we’re betting it’s “Lost.”Jeff Giles

Check out Bullz-Eye’s TV Power Rankings in their entirety by clicking here or on the big-arse graphic you see before you. Also, be sure to check out the accompanying interviews with folks associated with the various shows, including David Goyer (“FlashForward”), Kurt Sutter (“Sons of Anarchy”), Jonathan Ames (“Bored to Death”), and Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”).

Did any of your favorite shows miss the cut? Let us know by replying below!

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TCA Update: HBO Executive Session

The HBO executive session with Michael Lombardo (President, Programming Group and West Coast Operations) and Richard Plelpler (Co-President) just wrapped up, and here were the highlights:

* Before Plepler and Lombardo took the stage, we were treated to the trailer for the network’s new 10-hour miniseries, “The Pacific,” produced by Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, and Gary Goetzman. Let’s just go ahead and give the Emmy now, shall we?

* “True Blood,” “Hung,” and “Entourage” will all be coming back for new seasons next summer.

* Conversations are underway to potentially bring back “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.”

* Neither was willing to offer up any information about how Evan Rachel Wood would look as the vampire queen at the end of the second season of “True Blood,” for fear that they would suffer some horrible fate at the hand of Alan Ball. They did, however, assure us that surprises are in store, and that it totally delivers.

* “Little Britain USA” is not coming back, but they’re talking about bringing creators Matt Lucas and David Walliams back for some specials. It’s still in the development stage, but the intent is to come back with a whole new cast of characters and a whole new approach to their television appearance. In short, they will be back on HBO, though whether it will be at the end of next year or later remains to be seen.

* Season 2 of “Eastbound and Down” will begin shooting it sometime at the end of winter or the beginning of spring, and it will air next year.

* David Simon’s new series, “Treme,” will be on the air next April, fingers crossed. The current intention is for “The Pacific” to premiere mid-March, and, at the end of its run, ‘”Treme” will begin.

* The pilot just wrapped for Martin Scorcese’s “Boardwalk Empire,” and they are anxiously awaiting a cut from Marty so that the series can receive a green light. Provided it’s as good as they’re presuming it will be…and, thus far, “everything we’ve seen is fantastic, big, everything we hoped it could be”…their fingers are crossed that a pick-up is imminent.

* As for Season 3 of “Flight of the Conchords,” the official word is, “When they’re ready, we’re ready.”

* They have begun receiving episodes for Season 2 of “The Life & Times of Tim,” and they describe them as “funnier than the first,” but they haven’t yet figured out where they want schedule the show. They do, however, have an upcoming series that could fit the bill nicely…

* They’ve ordered an animated show from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, based on their long-running series of podcasts. I’m saying it right here: the time is right for Karl Pilkington mania to grip the States!

* Although the histrionics of Jerry Rice probably didn’t help things any, the big reason that the Bengals are the focus of this season of “Hard Knocks” rather than the Cowboys is that the network wanted to open up a new team to the audience and show a different organization and the habits and attitude of that team.

* Season 4 of “Big Love” is scheduled to kick off in January.

* Season 3 of “In Treatment” is something they’re trying to put together, but given that the show was adapted from an Israeli series that only ran for two seasons, they’d have to create all-new scripts for a third season. Still, it’s a good sign that Gabriel Byrne is “very interested” in returning.

* And, lastly, they are forever trying to figure out a way to extend the length of Bill Maher’s seasons, in order to give him more time on the air. Whether that’s a good thing or not, you be the judge.

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TCA Tour, Day 1: “Dark Blue”

There was a certain amount of exasperation amongst the critics about Turner’s decision to offer up a panel for a show that’s already been on the air for a few weeks (“Dark Blue”) rather than one for an upcoming series that we’re all rather excited about (“Men of a Certain Age,” starring Ray Romano, Scott Bakula, and Andre Braugher), and to be fair, I was feeling it myself a little bit. I get that, when you’ve got a Jerry Bruckheimer production amongst your stable of shows, you want to be sure that you’re promoting it as much as possible, but…it’s already on the air. Worse, it was like pouring salt in the wound to show us a clip from “Men of a Certain Age” that piqued our interest even further about that series.

Oh, well. So be it.

If you haven’t caught “Dark Blue” yet…well, it only made its debut on July 15th, so it’s not too late to get onboard. I was so busy trying to get ready for the TCA tour that I never had a chance to write it up for Premium Hollywood, but here’s the trailer for the series, to give you an idea what it’s all about:

“Dark Blue” was created by Doug Jung, who had previously worked on “Big Love.” It’s a bit of a change of pace, obviously, but as he admitted, “You could say that about polygamy for everyone.”

Still, the two series have more in common than one might immediately think.

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A Chat With “Harper’s Island” Victim #12

It was a gut-wrenching death on this week’s “Harper’s Island,” partly because it was gruesome, partly because you were forced to sit there knowing full well that it was impending and couldn’t be stopped, but mostly because it was a character we knew more about than just about anyone else on the show.

This is another one of those cases where, although I wasn’t rooting for this person to get the call from Karim, I was still very much looking forward to talking to the actor in question…and, in fact, I enjoyed the interview so much that, although I’m not going to mention the person until after the jump, I will at least say this much to random web surfers who happen upon this entry: you don’t have to be a dedicated viewer of “Harper’s Island” to click onward. You could just be a fan of the work of David Milch (“Deadwood,” “John from Cincinnati”), or of “Supernatural,” and you’d still enjoy reading what lies after the jump.

So what are you waiting for?

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HBO renews “Big Love” for fourth season

I haven’t caught the first few episodes of the third season yet, but they must be solid because HBO has decided to bring “Big Love” back for a fourth season.

Skein drew 1.5 million viewers in its initial run Sunday at 9 p.m., growing its audience 29% over Jan. 18′s season-three premiere despite competition from the Super Bowl on NBC.

The show is averaging nearly 5 million viewers per episode when DVR viewing, encore runs and video-on-demand deliveries are factored in — a performance on par with that of HBO’s frosh hit “True Blood.”

Season-four production is set to start later this year with episodes slated to run on the pay cabler in 2010.

“Big Love” is a great show and it’s nice to see that HBO is standing behind it.

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TCA Tour, Jan. 2009: “Big Love”

I’m very much out of my element when it comes to discussing “Big Love.” Not that I’m not interested in the show, but I simply haven’t watched it. I know, however, that another fine member of our editorial staff – one J. Codding – is a regular viewer, so I wouldn’t dare miss the opportunity to cover the upcoming third season of the show. Plus, really, whether you’ve watched the show or not, who in their right mind wouldn’t want to sit in on a panel that includes Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny, and Ginnifer Goodwin?

If you haven’t followed the behind-the-scenes activity on the show, it’s been kind of a weird time for “Big Love” since it left the airwaves back in August 2007. The writer’s strike led to a delay in production for the show’s third season, and when the strike was concluded, executive producers Mark Olsen and Will Scheffer made the decision to throw out the ideas they’d come up with for Season 3 and basically start fresh.

“It’s always good to have more time and more time and more time to digest story and to reconsider choices made,” said Scheffer. “It makes the show stronger, deeper, better, you know, to have a couple of goes at initial assumptions. And so it was a blessing in that way, a mixed blessing because we were late coming on back to our fans, but, you know, I think that that little interim period where we weren’t writing when we were just sort of protesting and showering and such that we could have this time to breathe into the characters and the stories even more than we would have if we had just gone on our straight route. You know, I think the show would have been great, but I think what we have now is like beyond great.”

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