CBS: What’s New for Fall 2009

Accidentally On Purpose (Mon., Sept. 21 @ 8:30 PM, CBS)

The competition: “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC) “Heroes” (NBC), “House” (Fox), “One Tree Hill” (The CW)

Starring: Jenna Elfman, Grant Show, Jon Foster, Ashley Jensen, Lennon Parham, Nicolas Wright
Producers: Gail Berman (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel”), Gene Stein (“Less Than Perfect”), and Claudia Lonow (“The War at Home”)
Network’s Description: Billie is a single woman who finds herself “accidentally” pregnant after a one-night stand with a much younger guy, and decides to keep the baby… and the guy. A newspaper film critic, Billie is barely surviving a humiliating breakup with her charming boss, James, who’s still trying to resume their relationship. Suddenly expecting a child with her “boy toy,” Zack, Billie and Zack make an arrangement: to live together platonically. Billie’s party girl best friend Olivia, and Abby, her conventional, younger married sister, eagerly look forward to the new addition and offer their own brands of advice and encouragement. But when Zack and his freeloading friends, including Davis, start to turn her place into a frat house, Billie isn’t sure if she’s living with a boyfriend, a roommate, or if she just has another child to raise.
The Buzz: Elfman’s been trying to mount her post-“Dharma and Greg” comeback for some time now (2006’s “Courting Alex” only lasted 13 episodes), but CBS’s decision to place the comedy in the midst of its Monday night line-up – and between “How I Met Your Mother” and “Two and a Half Men,” no less – shows their confidence in it. Or is that desperation?
Pilot Highlight: Billie’s walk of shame after what, at the time, appears to be a one-night stand.
Bottom Line: The young man / older woman dynamic obviously has potential for comedy, but this is a painfully pedestrian affair, one which feels like it never would’ve been made if Elfman hadn’t been attached.

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The Informers

Typically, when you hear about movies premiering at Sundance, it’s because the film in question was well received. Not so for Gregor Jordan’s “The Informers,” which was torn to pieces by online critics, many of whom went on to describe the film as one of the worst they’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t go that far, because while the movie may not exactly be good, there are quite a few noteworthy performances hidden within it. Based on a collection of short stories by Bret Easton Ellis, “The Informers” takes place in 1983 Los Angeles and follows a series of intertwining narratives about a drug-dealing college man (Jon Foster) who’s worried that his girlfriend (Amber Heard) is screwing his best friend (Austin Nichols); a big-time movie producer (Billy Bob Thornton) forced to choose between his ex-wife (Kim Basinger) and former fling (Winona Ryder); a neurotic loser (Brad Renfro) who receives an unwelcome visitor (Mickey Rourke); and an international rock star (Mel Raido) suffering yet another major meltdown.

Unfortunately, my favorite story in the book – one involving a vampire named Jamie – has been axed from the movie, and along with it, the satirical bite (no pun intended) that Ellis is famous for. Instead, Jordan plays the whole thing serious, and though it doesn’t really change the outcome of the stories, it does change the tone. The characters are essentially the same, however, and in some cases, are even given more depth thanks to the actors playing them. Foster, Nichols and Lou Taylor Pucci are all solid as the film’s emotionally detached hipsters (an Ellis trademark), while Brad Renfro turns in a great performance in his final role. It’s not enough to convince non-Ellis fans to see the film, but if nothing else, it’s a good excuse to check out Amber Heard in all her naked glory.

Click to buy “The Informers”

  

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