A Chat with Tony Todd (“Hatchet II”)

Tony Todd is often unjustly considered to be just a horror actor, but one only needs to take a look at his filmography to see that he’s working in countless genres. Indeed, his television work alone has found him bouncing from sci-fi (“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”) to comedy (“Chuck”) to action (“24”). Mind you, we’re probably not doing a whole lot to change that whole he-only-does-horror-movies perception by talking to him about his work as Reverend Zombie in the “Hatchet” franchise – “Hatchet 2,” by the way, is now available on DVD – but we did at least make a point of trying to ask him about as many different roles as possible. We did not, however, say the name of his most famous film five times in front of a mirror. (We’re not crazy).

Bullz-Eye: How are you?

Tony Todd: Good, good. Just going through the day.

BE: I can imagine. I’m sure they keep you busy. A tight schedule.

TT: It’s really weird when they give you someone for 15 minutes, then the next person, “You’ve got 15 minutes…” It’s like speed interviewing. (Laughs) But I guess it’s a necessary part of it. Where are you calling from?

BE: Norfolk, Virginia.

TT: Norfolk, okay. I just did a movie down in Petersburg, Virginia.

BE: Not too far away from here.

TT: It was great. Some of my best work I think I’ve done in a horror film.

BE: Which movie was that?

TT: It was called “Unbroken.” There’s a company down there called Stormcatcher Films.

BE: Right, exactly. Very cool! So…”Hatchet II.” You got to play Reverend Zombie again.

TT: Yeah, and doing the first one, I knew going in that this was going to happen. So I’m glad that Adam Green is not only a man of his word but has a vision that keeps me employed. (Laughs)

BE: Plus, we got to see a little bit more of him this go around.

TT: Yeah. Well, he had told me the back story when we did the first one, so I was able to play that scene in the first one knowing the full knowledge. And then we got to go down to New Orleans, which is one of my favorite cities.

BE: Even better. So what was it like to get the chance to step back into the Reverend’s shoes? I mean, he’s certainly an interesting character.

TT: Yeah, I tried to find his reality, which is that he’s a small time con man from New Jersey. His real name is Clive Washington. And just like when we go from high school to college, you get the opportunity to reinvent yourself, and he’s a reinvented person that, unfortunately, is believing his own hype. He can’t shed it.

BE: How did you and Adam first meet up?

TT: I met Adam on a convention circuit, actually. He comes from the fan world. He’s very enthusiastic; loves film, particularly horror. I think we chatted a few times, and then he made me an offer to play Reverend Zombie. I turned it down. And then he and (John Carl) Buechler kind of lobbied and convinced me that it was a project worth taking.

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2010 Year End TV Review: Jason Zingale

It was an especially transformative year of television, at least for me, as my TV viewing diet underwent a bit of restructuring. Once-favorite shows began collecting dust on the DVR (sorry “Burn Notice,” but you’re losing your sizzle), and in the case of a few (like “Chuck”), were deleted altogether. Consequently, NBC’s “Community,” which spent most of its freshman season on the fringe of receiving similar treatment, is now the highlight of my Thursday nights. That’s because while shows like “Burn Notice” and “Chuck” are pretty much running on dead fumes at this point, “Community” has just begun to hit its groove. “How I Met Your Mother” also bounced back from an off-year with some of its funniest episodes to date, “Glee” and “Castle” continue to be as guilty as they are pleasurable, and the new season of “Top Chef” might just be the best yet. But none were able to crack my Top 5, which goes to prove that while there might have been a few misses this year, the hits were a lot more memorable.

year_end_terriers

1. Terriers

Clever, funny, dark and provocative, “Terriers” may have wowed critics with its flawed characters and rich storytelling, but that didn’t change John Landgraf’s recent decision not to renew it for a second season. I don’t blame the FX President for the low ratings (most networks would have given up after only a few weeks), but I do blame the rest of America for failing to tune in to the best new show of the season. Yes, you heard right. Although I enjoyed “The Walking Dead” and the overrated “Boardwalk Empire,” the buddy detective drama delivered better acting and writing week in and week out. Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James had unparalleled chemistry as the scrappy private investigators (the titular terriers, if you will) caught in the middle of the case of a lifetime, so it’s a shame that we won’t get to tag along on any of their further adventures – especially since the season finale left things wide open. Another brilliant but cancelled television show that, ten years from now, will still be missed.

year_end_modern_family

2. Modern Family

It hasn’t even completed its second season, but “Modern Family” already seems destined to become a comedy classic. It’s that good, and anyone who says otherwise should get an X-ray to see if their funny bone is broken. Of course, considering that it’s one of the most-watched shows on TV, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t agree. But for those who still haven’t experienced the funniest half-hour of television, it’s about time that you do, because there isn’t a single show that even comes close to matching the number of laughs in an average episode. And although the writing staff certainly deserves some credit, it’s cast members like Ty Burrell, Ed O’Neill and Sofia Vergara who make every joke that much funnier. Even the kids are funny, and that’s saying a lot from someone who isn’t particularly fond of child actors. It’s almost unbelievable the way the show fires on all cylinders so consistently, but that’s what separates a great show from a good one, and “Modern Family” is nothing if not that.

year_end_sons_of_anarchy

3. Sons of Anarchy

The third season of FX’s outlaw biker drama may not have been its best, but after a sluggish start, the series redeemed itself by getting back to the kind of top-notch storytelling that fans have come to expect. Many of those fans were quick to criticize the ambitious Ireland subplot that dominated most of the season, but along with fleshing out some of the club’s back story, it also set the stage for what turned out to be a killer finale. Many of the supporting players got lost in the background this year, but Charlie Hunnam gave the performance of his career, guest stars Paula Malcomson and James Cosmo proved themselves worthy additions to the cast, and Ally Walker put the finishing touches on what might just be the best TV villain in quite some time. The show may have stumbled a bit along the way, but no matter how you felt about the season as a whole, those who stuck around for the long haul were given plenty of incentive to come back next fall.

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Greetings to the New Season: NBC

When the season finales begin to air, then you know that it’s only a matter of time before the network upfront presentations begin. If you’re not familiar with the concept of the upfront, it’s when the networks formally roll out their fall schedules, providing advance warning about the slate of new programming for the next season, thereby allowing for several months of snarky comments about series which no one has even seen yet. Give credit to NBC, though: they’ve actually offered up clips for virtually every one of their new shows in order to get the buzz going as quickly as possible…be it positive or negative. Check out what they’ve got to offer, then let us know what you think!

MONDAY

8 – 9 PM: Chuck

9 – 10 PM: The Event: an emotional, high-octane conspiracy thriller that follows Sean Walker (Jason Ritter, “The Class”), an Everyman who investigates the mysterious disappearance of his fiancée, Leila (Sarah Roemer, “Disturbia”), and unwittingly begins to expose the biggest cover-up in U.S. history. Sean’s quest will send ripples through the lives of an eclectic band of strangers, including: newly elected U.S. President Martinez (Golden Globe nominee Blair Underwood, “In Treatment”); Sophia (Emmy Award nominee Laura Innes, “ER”), who is the leader of a mysterious group of detainees; and Sean’s shadowy father-in-law (Scott Patterson, “Gilmore Girls”). Their futures are on a collision course in a global conspiracy that could ultimately change the fate of mankind. Ian Anthony Dale (“Daybreak”) and Emmy winner Željko Ivanek (“Damages”) also star in the ensemble drama. Stark (“Medium,” “Facing Kate”) serves as executive producer, Evan Katz (“24”) serves as executive producer/showrunner, Nick Wauters (“The 4400,” “Eureka”) is creator/co-executive producer and Jeffrey Reiner (“Friday Night Lights,” “Trauma”) is the director/executive producer.

10 – 11 PM: Chase: a fast-paced drama that drops viewers smack into the middle of a game of cat-and-mouse as a team of U.S. marshals hunts down America’s most dangerous fugitives. Kelli Giddish (“Past Life”) stars as U.S. Marshal Annie Frost, a cowboy boot-wearing deputy whose sharp mind and unique Texas upbringing help her track down the violent criminals on the run. Cole Hauser (“K-Ville”), Amaury Nolasco (“Prison Break”), Rose Rollins (“The L Word”) and Jesse Metcalfe (“Desperate Housewives”) also star as members of Frost’s elite team. Jerry Bruckheimer (“CSI” franchise, “The Amazing Race,” “Pirates of the Caribbean” films), Jonathan Littman (“CSI” franchise, “The Amazing Race,” “Cold Case”) and Jennifer Johnson (“Cold Case”) serve as executive producers, while KristieAnne Reed is co-executive producer. David Nutter (“The Mentalist,” “Without a Trace” “The X-Files”) directed and is executive producer of the pilot, which was written by Johnson.

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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 Tour: “Medium”

During NBC’s portion of the January TCA press tour, I spotted “Medium” creator Glenn Gordon Caron at the network’s cocktail party. I cornered him long enough to tell him how excited I was for the series to return, then I asked him why the show hadn’t scored its own panel that day, even though the miniseries “The Last Templar” had. Caron shrugged and acknowledged that “The Last Templar” was an NBC-Universal production and “Medium” wasn’t, but if he had anything else to say about his show’s home, he was polite enough to hold his tongue.

Now that “Medium” has found a new home on CBS…well, Caron’s still polite, but he doesn’t mind acknowledging that he had some problems with the way the show was underpromoted in its time on NBC. (He also didn’t mind getting off a one-liner about how “the last time we came here, NBC made us walk here.”)

“You know, it’s so hard in this environment to launch a show and sustain a show,” Caron acknowledged. “I think we’re all incredibly grateful to NBC, we were on their air for five years, and nobody wants to take shots. I think there were times along the way when everyone, even people inside NBC, thought, ‘Gee, maybe if we gave that show a little more attention, if we publicized it a little more vigorously, it might actually do better for us and might bring more viewers to the network.’ I don’t think there’s been any great secret there. It’s been written about; it’s been talked about. Having said that, we had five fairly fruitful years at NBC. Looking back, could things have been done differently? Absolutely. Ben (Silverman), who is actually a friend, said some harsh things I’m sure he regrets about our show…and, by the way, you guys play no role in this whatsoever.”

Ahem.

Medium: Season 1 – 4.5 stars
Medium: Season 2 – 4 stars
Medium: Season 3 – 4 stars
Medium: Season 4 – 4 stars

I’m just saying: there are critics who’ve been supportive of the show, and I’m definitely one of ’em.

Okay, back to business.

“Truthfully, we’re grateful to NBC,” said Caron. “We had a nice run there. But the good news is we’re on CBS now, and for the first time in three years, we’re going to do 22 episodes. We’re beginning a season, knowing when we’re premiering: in the Fall and doing 22 episodes. And as a storyteller, that’s a huge thing. It means I can say to you, sir, ‘And on Halloween, we will be doing thus and so.’ That’s a luxury we’ve not had for three years, and those are the sorts of things that are frustrating when you’re doing a show. But it beats not working.”

Indeed, it does. But as happy as he was about bringing the show to CBS (it’s perfect, really, since it’s a CBS production, anyway), Caron did at least try to keep the show where it was by writing a cliffhanger ending to the Season 5 finale…not that the plan actually worked.

“What I was trying to do was write an ending that was so provocative that it would be impossible to cancel the show,” he explained. “You saw how that worked out. It was sort of me being a wiseguy, frankly, and really trying to stack the deck in such a way. And for what it’s worth, NBC was complicit. We don’t make the shows in secret. I said, ‘This is what I’m going to do: she’s going to have a brain tumor, she’s going to go into a coma, and we’re going to put up a sign that says, ‘To be continued.’ And they said, ‘Great.'”

Caron gave us a big scoop, by the way.

“There’s so many of you here, I guess I can let the cat out of the bag: she comes out of the coma,” he revealed, with a grin. “And she’s on a different network. It’s the damnedest thing!”

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