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2 items from 2016

‘The Americans’: Producers, Stars Talk Season 4 and Possible End Date

16 January 2016 3:40 PM, PST | Variety - TV News | See recent Variety - TV News news »

Time moves slowly on the “The Americans.”

Exec producer Joel Fields said Saturday during the Television Critics Association press tour that the writing staff has been surprised at how long it’s taken to move through the early 1980s. The FX period drama revolves around covert Soviet spies played by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys.

Fields was pressed as to whether he and exec producer/creator Joe Weisberg have an end date for the series in mind — in terms of the number of season on FX and the chronological year in the storyline. In the past the pair have hinted that the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 would be a logical end point for the story rooted in the last gasp of the Cold War.

The upcoming fourth season, which bows March 16, returns with the storyline picking up in 1983. Using the three-act drama metaphor, Fields said he feels like »

- Cynthia Littleton

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For Sean Penn, Acting Goes Hand-in-Hand With Activism

13 January 2016 3:30 PM, PST | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

In the early 1990s, after his brief marriage to Madonna made him tabloid fodder, Sean Penn turned his back on acting to concentrate on directing and writing.

His retirement was short-lived.

The subsequent decades brought Oscar-winning turns in “Mystic River” and “Milk,” along with memorable performances in the likes of “Dead Man Walking” that cemented his reputation as an acting great.

But those early threats of retirement reveal Penn’s long-felt discomfort with being a creature of Hollywood, and point to a contradiction in his public persona. While the entertainment business is part of his DNA, he seems to find his greatest fulfillment far from the klieg lights.

Both sides of Penn were on display last week, when the actor whipped up a media firestorm after his blockbuster interview with Mexican druglord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman appeared in Rolling Stone. The piece, a rambling first-person account of his efforts to secure the interview, »

- Brent Lang

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