Wednesday, February 29, 2012

CNBC 60 Minutes interviews Mark Zuckerberg, Paul Allen

On February 28, 2012 CNBC 60 Minutes did an update interview of Facebook founder Mark Zukerberg, by Leslie Stahl. CNBC’s link is rather puny, and doesn’t have the show online yet, here

A lot of the interview concerned the effect of the “Social Network” movie, and Zuckerberg admitted he and employees saw it opening night.

Much of the interview focused on the lawsuit by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss (Piers Morgan calls them the Winklevii, and Vanity Fair has an article on the Twins – two of them – and a sexy picture, here ). Zuckerberg says he was not paid for his effort by them and that what he did was completely different.  All they wanted was a “college dating service”.  Another commentator on the program said that Zuckerberg is right, but that he did “sandbag” them. The Winklevii got a $65 million settlement for a "mediocre idea" ("ConnectU"), and their repeal was rejected in Feb. 2011.

The interview gave some other indications of how things could go.  Whereas a knowledge database would focus on, say, reviews of different cars, Facebook can tell you what your friends think of these cars. 
For example, the resources of Facebook could be combined with an “Opposing Viewpoints” wiki to show how political opinions are connected to demographics.

See a writeup of Stahl’s previous interview with Zuckerberg Dec. 2, 2009 on my main blog.

Randi Zuckerberg did an interview for Charlie Rose on PBS three weeks ago. Brother Mark joins in during the middle of the piece.

Look also at the posting here May 16, 2011. There is a whimsical video “Mark Zuckerberg is an alien”. His manner of speech is very precise.  Does a real "Clark Kent" with "powers" really exist?

There was a CNBC broadcast "The Facebook Obsession" on Jan. 6, 2011, reviewed here that day. 

CNBC also interviewed Microsoft founder Paul Allen,58, two years older than Bill Gates.  Allen, who is still single, showed his home and described their early days as teenager, and how Bill was the pragmatist, the businessman, even at 13.  The episode showed the very first piece of hardware they tried to code, in 1969, as they used it to get a teletype TTY terminal (common around 1970) to show computed results.  Allen has recovered from stage four lymphoma.

"60 Minutes" seems to be supplementing its original CBS show with a supplement on CNBC, and with a web series "60 Minutes Overtime". 

CNBC's broadcast was interrupted "rudely" by an announcement of Mitt Romney's primary wins, causing us to lose some of Zuckerberg's interview. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

CNN Presents: "Waco: Faith, Fear and Fire"

Sunday night, “CNN Presents” aired the documentary “Waco: Faith, Fear and Fire” with Drew Griffin.  Former FBI investigator Gary Noesner (“Stalling for Time”), and Dick Reavis (“The Ashes of Waco”) appeared, as did a family that believed in David Koresh and resents the government’s reports characterizing Branch Davidians as weak-willed and gullible.

The film chronicles the history of the incident, starting with the raid Feb. 28, 1993 and ending with the FBI and ATF assault on April 19, 1993, when the government claims David Koresh set fire to his own compound.

I visited Texas in March 1993, shortly after the East Coast blizzard, and visited the stakeout area with a friend, viewing the standoff through telescopes on an overpass a half mile away. I revisited the area in 2005 and couldn’t find anything.. Now there is a small chapel and a graveyard.

I recall being in my car and returning to work that April afternoon and hearing Pat Buchanan describe the fire as it broke out.

The government had hired undercover agents posing as college students before the February raid, and tried to use a tactic called “dynamic entry”.

During the siege the government played a lot of noise at night, including the song “The Boots Are Made for Walking”.

The Libertarian Party has cast Waco as a major example of the abuse of government.  On the other hand, the government has claimed that Koresh was in illegal relationships with minor females and (like Warren Jeffs in the extremist offshoot of Mormonism) made himself an alpha male, not allowing other men living there to even be intimate with their wives or have their own children. 

There have been several other films and TV documentaries about Waco. The most important of these are:
Waco: The Rules of Engagement (1997, New Yorker, dir. William Gazecki, 165 min, R)
In the Line of Duty: Ambush in Waco (1993, Patchett/Kaufmaan, dir. Dick Lowry, 98 min, R), emphasizes the period before the February raid.
Assault on Waco (2006, Discovery Channel)
Children of Waco (2007, TLC, 45 min).

Monday, February 27, 2012

Nick Jonas appears on NBC's "Smash"

Nick Jonas appeared tonight in the episode "The Cost of Art" in the new NBC series "Smash", as the character Lyle West. Nick played and sang "Haven't Met You Yet" (often played in Sirius XM's "Blend") in the episode.

In the scene where his character negotiates with Eileen (Anjelica Huston) over the "sale" of a piece of art related to the show he is quite assertive.  The Donald would have been proud of him.

The Huffington Post has a story by Mark Kennedy on Jonas's appearance here.

Nick's success despite Type I diabetes is very remarkable. The technology for managing it seems to have improved a lot in the last ten years. How does one dance and sing while wearing a continuous insulin pump?  I don't know if this was possible 15 years ago.  But some baseball players (like Yankee pitcher Catfish Hunter) have had diabetes (but I don't know if Type 1)

AP clip of Jonas on Broadway.  (Had trouble getting NBC's preview clips for this show, normally embeddable, to play at all, even on its site.)  There is a Jonas interview clip on the Huffington Post story.

Will the "Cirque du Soleil" make an appearance on this show?  They were terrific at the ABC Oscars, literally swinging from the chandeliers over the audience at the "Kodak".  

Saturday, February 25, 2012

ABC Nightline covers manufacture of Apple products in China; bad karma?

Thursday, Nightline presented up to four reports with Bill Weir and Cynthia McFadden on the manufacture of Apple products, especially the iPad, in China.

This was the first time reporters were allowed in the factories, many owned by Foxconn.  The reporters had to don the bunny suits and take the air showers. 

The report showed grim stuff: suicide nets along the buildings, and the cramped dormitory rooms, seven workers to a room in submarine-like conditions, $18 a month for people that make $2 an hour. There are remote possibilities of unionization, but much harder to do in an authoritarian state.  But in one incident, workers threatened to jump off a roof.

One of the roots covered the culture, and rural home life, that drives people around 18 to leave home in work under conditions like this.

Is this bad karma for the West?  Maybe in time Apple and other computer manufacturers will find it desirable to move many jobs back here.
The Steve Jobs Trust is a major shareholder of ABC.

See review of Ted Koppel's "People's Republic of Capitalism" July 9, 2008.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Days of our Lives: Will outs himself suddenly; also, more on how CNN presents the GOP on social issues

Well, “it” all hit the fan today on NBC’s “Days of our Lives”.  After Marlena and Will finish their confrontation with Samantha, where Marlena tells Sami that she must confess her infidelity to save her marriage to Rafe, Will (Chandler Massey) goes out and meets Sonny at the “pub”.  Will confides to Sonny that he saw his mother cheating with EJ.  He doesn’t keep his voice down enough, and Rafe overhears it.  (People overhear everything in this soap opera.)   Rafe goes back home and confronts Sami.  Then Will and Sonny meander over to the  “Town Square”, Salem’s new gay bar  (any accident that in DC, the largest disco is called “Town”).

Sonny comforts Will some more,  and other guys, including one blond,  Neil, take to Will.  They encourage Will to have some refreshments – oh, the sin of underage drinking, especially if on Facebook!  Will gets a little drunk, but not enough to be sick.  He heads for the latrine (just because beer is a diuretic) and Neil encounters him.  In a sudden fit of passion, they make out.  Sonny stares. 

It’ll be interesting to see how the ratings do for NBC now that Will is outed.  I hope Will doesn’t drive the sports car that EJ gave him and smash it tomorrow while DUI. 

I wonder, how did someone like Sami raise a fine son like Will.  Oh, she didn’t raise him.  

"Days" has played the "debate" card cleverly, as apparently Abe's cheating caught up with him, as Nicole outfoxed him.  The mayoralty "election" hasn't settled yet.  I say, let Ron Paul make a guest appearance on Days.    

In a somewhat unrelated matter, on CNN tonight, after AC360, CNN news analysis said that the GOP is debating contraception, when couples delay having children because of the weak economy.  Actually, the GOP is suggesting that private companies and churches have the right to decide their own position on insuring contraception for their employees, especially when religious beliefs of employers are involved.  Where this sounds like a canard is that the GOP couldn't credibly say this about covering something related to race (like sickle cell anemia).  So it can play the "behavior card" if it insists.  I think that employers really should cover contraception, and employers will usually find it in their business self interest to do so, in a properly functioning economy.

On Friday, Will suddenly pushed Neil away, and went back to Marlena's house, and asked her, "Grandma, am I gay?"  In the meantime, EJ thinks Marlena told Rafe about Sami's infidelity.

Remember EJ has the trump card that supposedly could get Will prosecuted, when he finds out that Will "told".  I hate to see the same thing happen to Will that happened to Nick Fallon. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Anderson" covers home disaster preparedness

Today, Anderson Cooper’s daytime ABC show (subtitled “How Prepared Are You?”  discussed “survivalism”, with a brief mention of the National Geographic series “Preppers” (which I’ve cover another time), and a couple of specific families that had made preparation a way of family life.

The link for the show is here.

Much of the show focused on the idea of surviving temporarily in place after a disaster, about having enough water and non-perishable foods, even for apartment dwellers in cities.  For example, people could be kept inside during a severe flu pandemic.

Personal and familial (and neighborhood) disaster preparedness received a lot more public attention a few years ago.  

The show also did a demonstration of an 8.0 earthquake inside a “cage” in ABC’s studio.

The idea that civilization could totally fail and that people would have to learn according to different values really wasn’t covered.  I’m not confident that I would have much to offer a “Post Purification” world. 
Anderson also presented a man, who lost an arm in a construction accident, fitted with a totally bionic arm. He is due to throw out the first pitch at the Milwaukee Brewers’ home opener in 2012.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

PBS: "U.S. Health Care, the Good News"

PBS this evening aired a one hour episode “US Health Care: The Good News”.

The documentary examined several locations in the United States where private plans have brought health care costs under control.

One of these was in Mesa County, CO.   The provider reimbursement is the same for same procedure regardless of  the patient (including Medicaid).  Any patient can see any doctor, and this is required of all physicians.

The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care (published by Dartmouth College) was presented.

The show then discussed the concept of a “patient-centered medical home” in Seattle WA and Everett WA.   The care center uses a highly automated, high-tech system for urgent and appointment care, and the result is much more time for patients.

Here is the link

Picture: (unrelated) Raccoons high in the trees. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

PBS: "Clinton" from American Experience, Presidents' Series: some coverage of the history of "don't ask don't tell"

Tonight, President’s Day, PBS Stations presented the first two hours of the four hour film “Clinton”, as part of the American Experience Presidents’ Series, link for the film here.  It's direted by Barak Goodman. Part I is called "The Comeback Kid".  Part II, "The Survivor", airs Tuesday Feb. 21.  

The film starts in December 1998 with an apologetic Rose Garden speech, but quickly goes to his boyhood, being raised by a single mother and then stepfather who fought.   But Bill quickly became a star in high school and determined to go into public life.

One of the most interesting parts of the film is the brief summary of his attempt to repeal the ban on gays in the military, which had been a campaign promise in 1992. The film takes the position that it was a disruption from Clinton’s focus on the economy, but as I recall the issue came up the third day of his presidency when he was badgered by the press.  He made his “status v. conduct” remark that seemed intellectually reasonable but allowed his enemies an immediate wedge. The film shows some of his July 19, 1993 speech at Fort McNair where he describes “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue” (and the quote of his use of the phrase “open statement”, which turns out to be critical legally.   Senator Sam Nunn (in the president’s own party) is shown opposing repeal. We know that DADT was officially repealed on Sept. 20, 2011.  The issue is covered in much more detail in the HBO film, “The Strange History of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, reviewed on my Movies Blog on Oct. 13, 2011.

The film talks about the critical 1993 vote on the budget, which led to Clinton’s policy of increase taxes on the rich and budget surpluses that eventually helped launch an economic boom.  But one of the biggest reasons for the boom was the growth of the Internet, which had been turned loose actually by the previous Bush administration.

The film also covers the failure of his health care initiative in 1994, which opened a back door for Newt Gingrich to take over the House in 1995 (and then the “Contract with America”).

The film discusses the quandary over how interventionist to be in foreign policy, with Bosnia, Somalia, and Rwanda.  At the time, North Korea was considered a much bigger existential threat than All Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

Joe Klein, David Gergen, Robert Rubin,  Dee Dee Myers, and Richard Clarke often appear.

The second night deals with Oklahoma City, and then with the Lewinsky scandal and the impeachment.  Clinton's profuse public apologies are shown. You can see how he aged in office. 

Here’s a “bonus” YouTube clip by SpikeD1 from Clinton’s 1993 speech introducing DADTDP:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Whitney Houston's memorial service live today

Whitney Houston’s funeral is being broadcast from a Baptist church in Newark NJ and also streamed live by some television station websites.  CNN’s broadcast is here

The service is closed and restricted to family members, and police have blocked most media from approaching to a location more than two blocks away.

CNN’s Saturday programming, which usually consists of many legal, business and political panels discussing current issues, is pre-empted. 

As I write this, Kevin Costner speaks.

I remember Whitney’s music mainly from car radio in the 90s.  It often played as I drove rental cars around western states then as I gathered material for my first book.  I remember her electrifying performance of the National Anthem in 1991 at the Super Bowl, as the Persian Gulf War had just started, a historical even that would generate so much that was soon to follow.

The indoor portion of the service concluded about 4 PM, a 4 hour event, longer than Michael Jackson's in 2009.

She “reharmonizes” the last note – I’ve always thought the next to-last stanza should end on a tonic.

Friday, February 17, 2012

"Grey" and "Private Practice" crossover seems mechanical

Television commentators love to speculate about soap opera crossovers (the remnants of “One Life to Live” have merged into “General Hospital”), but crossovers among major prime time dramatic series sound problematic.  

Nevertheless, ABC touted such with “Grey’s Anatomy” (“Have You Seen Me Lately?”) and “Private Practice” ("You Break My Heart") last night.

“The Grey” (pun) starts out with Dr. Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh – remember her in “Hard Candy”) playing off her determination not to have kids (I think Santorum would rant about her behavior an attitudes in a debate) and soon there is a young man brought in with his forearm in a meat grinder, which will do more damage than epilation. He even has live fingers sticking out. It’s horrible.  But soon “Private Parts” jumps  in Erica (A. J. Warner) (the mother of Cooper’s accidental child) who needs heroic brain surgery to remove a mean and fast growing tumor, and the critical part must happen in 90 seconds.

Kelly Schrempf has some constructive criticism of the idea in Hollywood Reporter here. 

Curiously, the Huffington Post had a brief analysis, which gets overlaid this morning with “This Election, Women Shouldn’t Forget the Abortion Debate”, here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"Revenge": the story explodes tonight

As to tonight's "complete the circle" episode of ABC's "Revenge", I can only say,Wow. The episode, called "Chaos", repeats the opening of the Pilot, where on Labor Day Sunday night in the Hamptons, a man is shot during the "Fire and Ice" party (heterosexual high society's answer to a circuit party). This time, it walks back only 24 hours, to present to us the "likely suspects" and probably fool us.

We have been led to believe that Daniel is going to get it, but the body is Tyler's.  He deserves what he gets.  So, despite we think the solution is "obvious", it's sort of a game of Clue now, or maybe Mr. Ree (another detective board game from the 1950s, more complicated than Clue and largely forgotten, maybe due for a Hollywood re-discovery.)

Declan (Connor Paolo) and girl friend find the corpse, and Declan (who looks gorgeous in skivvies) utters a couple of interesting lines when he sees an image with a camera, "What's the problem?" and then "Who's the creep taking pictures?"  That wouldn't be creepy in a public place, unless the couple really reasonably expects privacy (in darkness, on a supposedly deserted beach that has more people than we think). Otherwise, discos would have to ban photography (and cell phone cameras).

Nolan has become a nice guy.  I really think it's going to turn out that he is the real Amanda's sister.

This series has a hook partly because it is very well acted, compared to most.  And technically, the show looks very sharp on HD.  The red and white (fire and ice) at the party are most effective on the eyes.

I have to pass on this "analysis" from the Huffington Post by Crystal Bell, "Who really died on the beach?" (pun), link here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

ABC's "Body of Proof" episode looks at whether a patient with dementia can be a witness

I haven’t been a meek little follower of ABC’s “Body of Proof” (Christopher Murphey), but this evening’s episode dealt with an important problem: can a witness with mild dementia be reliable?

In this case, the dementia turned out to be explainable and treatable (not Alzheimer’s), and the crime particularly horrible because the victim, an owner of an Italian restaurant,  could have been saved for up to two hours, when he had been left in a freezer.  Another important point is that the witness was prepared to blame himself. 

Dana Delaney (as Megan Hunt), Geoffrey Ahrend and Sonja Sohn star.

The plot was a little but like “pre-Law-and-Order”. 

The backstory of the series involves Megan’s having given up her career as a neurosurgeon after a mistake on the operating table after an auto accident of her own.  That leaves her with unusual talents in playing a female modern day Sherlock Holmes. In medicine, one misstep can end a career.  

ABC’s site is here.

Monday, February 13, 2012

PBS airs "Slavery by Another Name", an examination of peonage

Monday February 13, PBS aired a special film, 90 minutes, “Slavery by Another Name”, directed by Sam Pollard, based on the book by Douglas Blackmon. The film was produced for PBS by TPT Productions. 

The film traces how the practical lot of African Americans deteriorated during the decades following the Civil War and Reconstruction.  By the late 19th Century, a system of peonage, rather like feudalism, based on getting “slave” labor by keeping the worker in debt, had developed, even if technically illegal.

In practice, it was impossible to challenge the practice.  Woodrow Wilson was not sympathetic to blacks, according to the film. Things started to improve with FDR, but slowly, as the military remained segregated until Truman.

I suspect that the word "peonage" will appear on some high school SOL's for social studies.  It should. History teachers should insist that students learn what it means. 

The main link is here.   

There is a second link at PBS.

The film reminds me of “American Lynching”, which Gode Davis was not able to complete before his passing away.  On New Years Day 2003, I watched  about 20 minutes of his interview footage at his home in West Warwick, RI. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

NatGeo "The Man Who Can Fly": a real life SpiderMan/Clark Kent, scales and flies off British Columbia mountains

Sunday, Feb. 12, National Geographic aired the one hour film “The Man Who Can Fly”, about Dean Potter, an late-30s-something (and rather weathered) adventurer aims to “fly” in a nylon wing suit from the summit of 9000-foot Bute Mountain near the coast of British Columbia. He also scales the South Face of El Capitan in Yosemite in an unbelievable sequence without ropes, the first time anyone has done that, and walks without balancing rods across a rope over canyons.

He collars several friends and an elderly businessman running a machine shop above Vancouver to make him a launching pad and to air lift it to the top of the mountain.  The assembly of tools in the shop would put my own father’s 1950’s “museum” to shame. 

The link for the show is here

I suppose NatGeo should invite actors Tom Welling (Superman),  Tobey Maquire (Spider Man) and the kids from “Chronicle”  (movie blog, Feb. 6) to try this.  With great power comes great responsibility.

Do you believe man can fly?

This ought to have been an Imax documentary (maybe released by Magnolia's HDNet with NatGeo), but then there is the Smithsonian Imax film “To Fly” for comparison, and it’s been around for years (since 1976).

Friday, February 10, 2012

ABC's "Revenge" pulls the "old media" plot trick

This week, ABC Revenge Episode 14, “Perception”, made use of the plot device of the accidental discovery of a “mystery tape” or media device made with older technology from the past. 

As Jack (Nick Wechsler) is resting up from his wounds, he discovers a lost cassette tape under his bed, Interview 14 with Amanda Clarke, from author (and David Clarke biographer) Mason Treadwell, whose house had been torched by “Emily” in a previous episode.  Remember that Mason had resisted modern technology and didn’t even have a copy of his typed manuscript.  (Once, in the workplace in the early 1980s, when a project leader was hand-writing a notebook of specs in the early 1980s for his boss, he didn’t have a copy, even when he turned it in to his boss.  I wouldn’t have been comfortable doing that.)

The fact that a piece of mystery media is in an older format can itself be an interesting plot clue.   Here, of course, “Emily” (you have to name the character with a grain of salt because of her ruse) could get caught and have her whole plan fall apart. She trusts Nolan, if Jack gives it to him to copy onto a CD or flash drive for viewing, will degauss and destroy it.

Remember though, that even though Jack once through Nolan out of his bar and asked Nolan to find “another place to hang out”  (why does he have a house in the Hamptons anyway?), they’ve since become “friends”.  Nolan has said that he’s a “3” on the Kinsey scale (remember he told bad-boy Tyler that before their intimate encounter), but obviously he seems to be able to carry on a “friendship” with “Emily” without sexual tension because she also thinks he’s gay -- or possibly, some say, because she suspects he is actually her brother.  (What’s in this for Nolan, after all, other than a lot of danger?)  Nolan converts and shows Jack the tape (I’m not sure how you view it on a MacBook) out of friendship.  Is Nolan “a good person” after all?  There  aren’t too many good people in this series.  (Daniel?  Declan?  The women seem to be villains here.)

The series is supposed to have five more episodes, but it looks like Daniel (regrettably) is going to get it the next episode, so he can’t take over the company.  Then what? 

I use the “old media” trick in one of my screenplay drafts, for the sci-fi movie “Titanium”.  The lead character, a journalist, receives a delivery of a mysterious video in Beta format from the 80s.  That tells him that one of the “angelic” characters in the “academy” (aka ashram) is much older than he had thought.  That leads to evidence of the “angel’s” own ruse and his fall, but gives opportunities for other characters (including the journalist himself) when the UFO’s come at the end.

As for Nolan (a "cute" Gabriel Mann), “redeeming” the character at this point might be good for keeping a gay audience interested, and actually might help the show’s ratings.  (Sorry, Tyler’s bad news.)

Try this clip. Another backstory embedded on media. 

Hollywood Reporter has some more stuff on Nolan, and what's coming, here

Thursday, February 09, 2012

NBC "Rock Center" covers Mimi Alford's affair with Kennedy

Wednesday night NBC’s “Rock Center” gave us an interview with Mimi Alford on her long affair with president John F. Kennedy, in which the president was surprisingly aggressive and manipulative.  She finally had to say “no”.  She is quite dispassionate about losing her virginity to the president at 19.  Bill Clinton would not be so lucky with Lewinsky.

The link for the interview story (Jessica Hopper) is here.  

An American Affair”, directed by William Olsson (Screen Media Films), covers Kennedy’s rumored escaped, and is reviewed on the movies blog March 8, 2009. 

Yesteday, while thumbing past NBC4 news, I caught an interview with someone where a dating coach was saying to women, "you want a man who is healthy enough to give you children and who is interested in the process".  Really!  I also thumbed past (when I miskeyed) an Xfinity advertisement that showed another man undergoing the "man-o-lantern" treatment of "40 Year Old Virgin".  Yes, really, by accident.  

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

On AC360, Jason Carroll interviews brother of Tyler Clementi

On CNN tonight, Anderson Cooper with AC360 talked to correspondent Jason Carroll, who in turn had interviewed James Clementi, older brother of Tyler Clementi, about the tragedy at Rutgers.  James said that Tyler was the “stronger of the two”.  The defendant, Dharun Ravi, has turned down a plea deal and has not apologized.

James says that Tyler had told his roommates that he was gay when he moved in.  In my own experience at William and Mary in the fall of 1961, I did not “tell” anyone, but others, especially my roommate, began making taunts based on my clothing (bright colors, not fashionable then), subject matter in English themes (which had gotten A’s), and skipping a notorious basement Freshman hazing session called “Tribunals”.  

(From what I heard about it, one could make an effective short horror film.)  Times have changed since 1961, but not enough.

CNN also has a text story to supplement the video, here.

Also today, CNN discussed a beating in Atlanta, and its posting by some on a hip-hop site, in terms of legal, moral, and First Amendment implications (posting on my main blog today).  Expect Toobin to weigh in on that one soon in AC360. 

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

ABC's "The River": the voodoo setup seems a bit hokey, but the Amazon is the heart of darkness

Network television is struggling to build series that will get a hook.  To me, a mystery that comes looking for you at home is more compelling that one you have to go out “Adventuring” to look for.  Yes, “Lost” was intriguing.  

ABC hopes to do this with the help of Steven Spielberg, and “Paranormal” creator Oren Peli, with “The River”, which opened the series with a 2-hour “movie” tonight.  Six more hour-long episodes will follow.
It doesn’t waste much time getting to the “Heart of Darkness”.  An environmentalist and Amazon explorer Emmett Cole (Bruce Greenwood) has disappeared, with his GPS sensor sending out a signal. A reality TV producer insists that the entire family, not just wife Leslie Hope but resentful and geeky (and rather likable) son Lincoln (British actor Joe Anderson) go on the search. 
The raunchy river boat becomes a visual symbol for the series, but it isn’t long before they find the beacon signal, and venture into the darkness – a world of shape shfters, floating ghosts, voodoo dolls, all documented on a ticker in “Paranormal Activity” style.
I still think it’s more interesting to have the mystery come to you (as in series like “The Event” and “Flash Forward”) than to go looking for it – unless you just find yourself kidnapped into it. 

No doubt, however, as we get into the story, we'll find out that it has something to do with forest destruction and climate change.  Cole sounds like a disciple of Gore's "inconvenient truth", and Lincoln will have to become so. 

ABC’s (beta) site is here

Monday, February 06, 2012

NBC "Smash" pilot ends in song

What I liked about NBC’s series premier for “Smash” tonight (Feb. 5) was that this pilot, of a show about making a musical about Marilyn Monroe, ends as a musical itself, with the candidates singing all over Manhattan, outside.  And the audition scenes were punctuated by "visions" of a final production, with "Marilyn" in fire-engine red, with stage accoutrements as gaudy as for "Sister Act". 

NBC’s link is here

There were some other interesting concepts: the tensions over a divorce meeting and how that could affect business, and the intern who “pirates” some material and gets fired for doing so but talks his way back on to the staff.  (No, you really can’t blog or tweet about insider business when you work on a Broadway show.)

The lead couple of Julia Houston and Tom Levitt is played by Debra Messing and Christian Borle. There’s an odd comment made to Tom that he’s lost weight.  I found myself trying to determine on what floor their studio was on, it seemed to be about 6.

And, yes, people get the heaves when they audition.

I suspect that the pilot did well in the ratings tonight.  It's going to ride on the coattails of "My Week with Marulyn".  And, by the way, there is still a very long wait for "Prince and the Showgirl" from Netflix. 

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Super Bowl commercials amount to a "short-shorts" film festival

This year, the “commercials” for the SuperBowl seem to supersede the game. They seem to add up to a short film contest.  The Huffington Post has a link showing them all, here. 

Some of them are bit testy.  I don’t care much for cheetah attacks, having seen the South African film “Duma” in 2005 about a pet cheetah.  Cheetahs are actually very tamable, if not legal in the US.  They tend to behave like dogs when acclimated to a family. That was Hyundai.
Now Chevrolet shows why it needed Obama’s bailout with an end-of-the-world 2012 scenario in a destroyed world after a UFO attack. Why would you need a banged-up truck.
Coca Cola seems to have forgotten that polar bears are endangered by climate change.
Audi’s vampire camp seems to remind me of Dr. Phil’s “man camp”.

Clint Eastwood "made my day" for Detroit and Chrysler, without going into Comerica Park (as in "Flash Forward").
The Droid Razr comes from Verizon, and apparently isn’t intended for leg shaving. But you have to watch the commercial to know that.
Madonna’s halftime show for Bridgestone was impressive in the Broadway-like stagecraft, reminding me of “Sister Act”, and she surely spread the love.  There was a lot of use of black-and-white.  Here’s a blog following it.
No more wardrobe malfunctions – they pick more "senior" performers (hence Madonna).   By the way, Justin Timberlake is actually an accomplished pianist, even with classics, and not many people know that.  So is Justin Bieber. 
I was a little surprised when Tom Brady’s grounding was called a two-point safety early in the game. They didn’t tell us that until after the commercial.

As of the start of the 4th Quarter, no Super Bowl has gone to overtime.

TMZ on the "Material Girl"
I think there should be a way to score one point (other than a conversion).  If you punt and down the ball in the opponent’s endzone without it’s being touched by the opponent, that should be one point.  A one-point should not end a game in overtime sudden-death.  Would this idea fly?  At least a football game could end 1-0. 

Post Mortem:  GREAT conclusion, with the "accidental touchdown". Was that "sitting down on the job" or "tiptoe through the tulips"? It reminds me of underpromoting a passed pawn to a knight in chess (to avoid stalemate).  

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Ron Paul gives political speech in MN while Romney romps in Vegas

CNN carried a very passionate speech by Texas congressman and candidate Ron Paul this evening in a Minneapolis suburb, as Mitt Romney was wrapping up hia qin in Nevada.

Paul said that a person doesn’t have a right to take his neighbor’s possessions or to expect the government to get involved in taking away or expropriating possessions.  He characterized entitlements as giveaways, and didn’t acknowledge the fact that many of them (Social Security) are based on lifelong individual contributions.

He also said that the Bush administration used 9/11 as a pretext for a war that it wanted to conduct, in Iraq.

He criticized interventionist Bush policies that encouraged people to sign up for mortgages they couldn't afford without qualification, and criticized bailouts which simply saved the rich people. Oddly, libertarianism has been criticized for allowing individual "Darwinian" behavior that tends to bid up the prices (or bid down wages) for everybody as some individuals take advantage of a situation. 

CNN drops all of its usual programs on days of primaries or caucuses. 

Thursday, February 02, 2012

On "Days", what "happened" to Will?

Well, today, on NBC's "Days of our Lives", EJ told Nicole (Arianne Zucker), in front of Will, about the blackmail, one side of it.  Now that’s something, to claim that the most wicked woman in all of soap opera (even more evil than grandma “Katrina”) is your soulmate.  And Nicole “understands” why Will is “working” for EJ, but she correctly thinks the blackmail goes both ways.

EJ “gives” Will a bachelor pad, knowing full well that it will be a nice private place for tricks (hope he stays negative).  And Will progresses toward the Big Give.

The last several weekdays, NBC has been saying that Sami will have one bad week, and at the end of the episode today, Will uses the word “contempt” to her face.  Presumably Friday, that previewed scene that he saw her with EJ will air.  Does this mean that EJ can get him sent to prison? Doubt it.  (As I remember, both Lucas and Will tried to shoot EJ at the same time a couple years back, and it was Will’s round that took – but Lucas took the fall.)

Of course, all week, Will has been questioning Sonny (Freddy Smith), about “coming out”, and that will certainly follow as Part II of his confrontation with Sami (Allison Sweeney, host of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” (pun, and her own tips on the matter are here).  

Believe it or not (that means, believe it), “Sonny” has his own fan site, (website url) here.

Sonny said he was good at sports and good socially, and fit none of the stereotypes.  There’s just one piece of it that didn’t work naturally.  The reward of physical passion with women just wasn’t there for him, which is an interesting way to put it, with existential implications for how one may take responsibility for others later.  

Something else has happened to Will, or to his doppleganger Chandler Massey, if you look closely on high definition.  I don’t see any films for him on imdb where he plays a Michael Phelps or a Lance Armstrong, so I don’t know “why”.  Oddly, EJ today said to Nicole that Will is no longer a kid, but a “young man” – who has learned the Ohio Mafia’s practice of blackmail.

It’s funny how “Days” makes the Buckeye State look like the home of the Second Mafia, corrupting even our Speaker.  At least, ABC’s “Revenge” takes place in the Hamptons, where these goings on make more sense.  Would Emily Van Camp, Madeleine Stowe, and Gabriel Mann (the latter as a companion for Will) make good characters for “Days” too?

It seems that Days is trying to survive the demise of the soaps.

I’ve noticed, on flat screen, that ordinary shows don’t look quite as good in the details as the best BluRay DVD’s.  Maybe the look of “Inception” and “Social Network” spoils me.

One other thing: NBC showed a clip of the young Dave Letterman being interviewed in 1978 by Tom Synder with a cigarette in Snyder's mouth. Horrible!

Update: Will had a showdown with Sami Friday, while EJ's debate was rigged against him.