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3 items from 2006

5 back to school for ABC Family pilot

3 August 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

ABC Family has greenlighted an untitled ensemble comedy pilot starring Jordan Belfi, John Carroll Lynch, Faith Prince, Miguel A. Nunez and Silas Weir Mitchell. Suzanne Cryer, Marisol Ramirez, Candy Ford, Leila Arcieri and Sonal Shah also co-star in the pilot, from Touchstone TV. The project centers on Diego (Belfi), a father who takes improving his daughter's crumbling school into his own hands. Ramirez will play Diego's wife. Lynch will play the school's principal. »

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Elliott latest legal eagle for 'Home'

28 June 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

David James Elliott is joining the cast of CBS' Close to Home as a regular. On the legal drama from Jerry Bruckheimer TV and Warner Bros. TV, Elliott will play D.A. Conlon, a smart, ambitious and charming big-city prosecutor from Manhattan who joins suburban prosecutors Annabeth Chase (Jennifer Finnigan) and Maureen Scofield (Kimberly Elise). He will make his debut in the show's second season premiere in the fall. John Carroll Lynch, who played D.A. Steve Sharpe in Season 1, is leaving the series along with Christian Kane whose character, Chase's husband Jack, was killed off in the Season 1 finale. »

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Mozart & the Whale

1 March 2006 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Strong performances anchor this low-key romantic drama about two people with Asperger syndrome. Although the narrative loses oomph as it enters increasingly generic territory, screenwriter Ron Bass doesn't sentimentalize his characters as he did in "Rain Man". Radha Mitchell delivers a typically fine performance as the extrovert in the central couple, and Josh Hartnett offers what is by far his best work to date.

A selection of the Santa Barbara film festival, "Mozart & the Whale" is based on the story of Jerry and Mary Newport, who were profiled in a 1995 Los Angeles Times piece and on "60 Minutes" and who will chronicle their relationship in an upcoming book. This fictionalized telling of their romance could carve out a modest boxoffice niche for the right distributor.

The title refers to the Halloween costumes Isabelle (Mitchell) and Donald (Hartnett) wear on one of their first dates, and there's a nice clarity to the notion that these socially challenged individuals find a measure of belonging on that night, when the rest of the world is acting weird, too. Through character observations like that, and the central couple's shared love of animals, Bass' script makes its dramatic points with pleasing economy, at least in the early going.

Isabelle is the newest addition to a support group for Spokane residents with Asperger syndrome and other forms of autism that is run by Donald, a cabbie with an amazing ability to compute numbers. With her uncensored outspokenness and barking laugh, the high-energy beauty shakes things up, igniting the interest of writer Gregory (fine work from John Carroll Lynch). But Isabelle and Donald soon become an item, much to the fascination of the group, whose members' behavioral oddities, intelligence and humor are well captured by the cast.

Isabelle takes the initiative in all aspects of her relationship with the adorably shy Donald, and the actors evoke real tenderness when their characters become lovers, Hartnett conveying Donald's deepening self-acceptance. But the ensuing roller-coaster ride of relationship stops and starts is familiar and far less interesting than the people at its center. Director Petter Naess ("Elling") too often doesn't trust the performances enough, relying on pop songs whose on-the-nose lyrics signal shifts in mood that the actors are perfectly capable of putting across. »

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3 items from 2006

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