15 items from 2015
“Friends” star Matthew Perry‘s newest series takes one of television’s oldest premises into 2015 on CBS’s remake based on Neil Simon’s 1965 play, “The Odd Couple,” which was also made into the 1968 film and an ABC sitcom during the early-70s. In accordance with the Simon premise, CBS’s 2015 version finds sloppy Oscar Madison (Perry), a sports radio host, welcoming his college pal Felix Unger (“Newsreaders” actor Thomas Lennon) into his home after separating from his wife. An allergy-prone neat freak, Felix proceeds to clean Oscar’s home, alienate Oscar’s sports buddies and endear himself to Oscar’s beautiful neighbor, »
- Jethro Nededog
The latest version of "The Odd Couple" will premiere tonight at 8:30 on CBS, a few weeks shy of the 50th anniversary of Felix Unger and Oscar Madison's Broadway debut. In the five decades since, Neil Simon's play has proved remarkably flexible, capable of working as a movie and a sitcom, as well as a play, with different actors as compulsive cleaner Felix and unrepentant slob Oscar, even at times change the characters' race or gender. But the CBS version is the first to suggest the concept has lost its elasticity. It feels like nothing so much as a sock that won't stay up on its own, but which you can't throw out because you've had it around forever. This time around, Matthew Perry is Oscar and Thomas Lennon is Felix. Producer Bob Daily ("Frasier," "Desperate Housewives") has made a few nods to the changing era — Oscar is now »
- Alan Sepinwall
With “Two and a Half Men” signing off, CBS will try to fill the void by shrinking the formula to two admittedly very familiar men, named Felix and Oscar. Matthew Perry completes his potentially dubious post-“Friends” hat trick — having starred in comedies for NBC and ABC as well — with this reboot of “The Odd Couple,” a beloved series that still derives some kick from Neil Simon’s blueprint, but also feels especially dated in this day and age, what with Felix as the nonsexual spouse, essentially, to Oscar’s slovenly husband. Good casting provides some hope, but this still feels oh-so-20th century.
Only a few lines from Simon’s original make it into the pilot, but they provide a spiritual link to the source. In addition, Garry Marshall, who adapted the show to TV, serves as a consultant, with Bob Daily, an alum of “Frasier” and “Desperate Housewives, »
- Brian Lowry
A decade in rehab has failed to tame abrasive former supermodel Salem Rogers (Leslie Bibb, About a Boy), Model of the Year 1998. Now that she’s been let loose on the world, hard-partying Salem is intent on recreating her former success and glamorous lifestyle in a new world she barely recognizes. She tracks down her browbeaten former assistant (SNL alum Rachel Dratch), who’s since built a career as an author of self-help books, and stops at nothing to enlist her in her plans to return to the spotlight — whatever it takes.
Discovered through Amazon Studios’ open submission website, Salem Rogers was created by newcomer Lindsey Stoddart, directed by Mark Waters (Mean Girls) and executive produced by Will Graham (The Onion News Network). In addition to Bibb and Dratch, the half-hour comedy stars Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle), Brad Morris (Playing House), Harry Hamlin (Mad Men), Toks Olagundoye (The Neighbors »
The “Napoleon Dynamite” magic fails to re-materialize in Jared and Jerusha Hess’ latest comedy. “Don Verdean” has a promising premise: The titular protagonist is a self-appointed “biblical archaeologist” roaming the globe for famous relics that have mysteriously evaded far more qualified experts for centuries. But the expected satire of religious gullibility and charlatanism proves toothless; worse, a cast of very funny people is given very little funny to do. This Lionsgate title (its release Tba) looks to make its primary, modest impact in ancillary formats.
Things look encouraging enough at the outset, as we are privy to a highlight reel of low-end video clips from “Verdeen Acheological Discovery Prods.,” in which Sam Rockwell’s intrepid explorer for Jesus is seen allegedly wowing international audiences of the faithful with his amazing — or perhaps just credulity-stretching — finds in the Holy Land dirt. It seems whenever he thinks of a key memento from a biblical story, »
- Dennis Harvey
In the above clip, Danny McBride, who plays Tony Lazarus attempts to proposition biblical archaeologist Don Verdean (Sam Rockwell) to come work for his church the Lazarus fellowship. After offering to bankroll his endeavors, Leslie Bibb who plays Joylinda Lazarus, helps drive the nail in the coffin, so to speak. After very little actual convincing, Verdean willingly obliges. “I think it’s fair to say this might be a match made in heaven,” says Verdean with an obviously bad religious pun.
Don Verdean follows the title character (Sam Rockwell), a Biblical archaeologist hired by the local church pastor to find faith-promoting relics in the Holy Land. After proving unsuccessful in his attempts to find anything of substance, »
- William Fanelli
Salem Rogers, Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot”
Written by Lindsey Stoddart
Directed by Mark Waters
Released January 15, 2015 by Amazon
Throughout the various incarnations of the Amazon pilot releases, the streaming service has sought to strike a balance between comedic and dramatic fare. The streaming service’s latest round of pilots was no exception in this regard, and one of their forays into comedy comes in the form of Salem Rogers. Marking the writing debut of actress Lindsey Stoddart, the show focuses on the exploits of a former supermodel trying to re-enter the world after a decade in rehab, with her hapless former assistant turned attempted self-help guru in tow. Unfortunately, the pilot suffers from a degree of indecision about what direction it wants a potential series to go in, which is reflected in the writing and pulls down the episode, despite the best efforts of the talented cast. »
- Deepayan Sengupta
There has been a lot of heat going into Sundance that this year's festival could be another buyer's market for mini-majors and indie distributors looking to fill out their 2015 slates. Fox Searchlight already picked up Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig's "Mistress America" and now Lionsgate has surprised by acquiring another premiere title, Jared Hess' "Don Verdean." A potential comeback for the man behind "Napoleon Dynamite," "Verdean" finds Sam Rockwell playing the title character, a biblical archeologist brought on by a small town church pastor to find "faith-promoting" historical items in the Holy Land. He has to get creative when his expedition comes up short. The rest of the cast is rounded out by Jemaine Clment, Amy Ryan, Danny McBride, Leslie Bibb and Will Forte. Hess' first break was when "Napoleon Dynamite" exploded out of Sundance in 2004. A decade later he returns after one major hit, 2006's "Nacho Libre, »
- Gregory Ellwood
11 years after director Jared Hess and his wife/co-writer Jerusha Hess brought their debut Napoleon Dynamite to the Sundance Film Festival, Lionsgate has picked up their new comedy Don Verdean, one week before its world premiere at this year's Sundance fest. Sam Rockwell stars as the title character, a biblical archaeologist hired to find "faith-promoting relics in the Holy Land." After he comes up empty in his journey, Don must get creative in what is described as "a comedy of faith and fraud."
The supporting cast is rounded out by Amy Ryan, Jemaine Clement, who starred in Jared Hess' Gentlemen Broncos, Danny McBride, Will Forte, Leslie Bibb, Steve Park and Sky Elobar. Jared Hess also produces alongside Brandt Andersen and Dave Hunter. Grindstone Entertainment's Barry Brooker and Stan Wertlieb brought the project to Lionsgate.
It isn't known when Lionsgate may release Don Verdean at this time, but it's possible »
Chicago – This Thursday marks the beginning of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, and yours truly will be in attendance to cover the fest for HollywoodChicago.com. Last year, the Park City, Utah event introduced the world to its 2014-defining sensations like “Whiplash” and “Boyhood”.
Those titles followed in the paths of indie landmarks such as “sex, lies and videotape,” “Clerks,” “Hoop Dreams,” “American Movie,” “Memento,” “Frozen River,” “Winter’s Bone,” and “Fruitvale Station,” among many others.
In pursuit of new favorite films for a new year, I’ve composed a relatively solid schedule so that I can devour as much diverse Sundance goodness as possible. Narratives, documentaries, white supremacists, nasty babies, Neil Hamburger, Chiwetel Ejiofor, stolen cop cars, and much, much more are all in play. But with hopes that everything I witness is the next “Boyhood”-like zeitgeist, I’ll be sure to report back here on what’s worth, »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
Get ready to watch, rate and review Amazon’s just-released pilots — a slate of 13 original comedy, drama, docuseries and kids offerings now available on Amazon Instant Video.
The pilots come from a talented creative roster that includes both newcomers discovered through Amazon Studios as well as highly-acclaimed veterans such as Ridley Scott (Blade Runner), Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files), Carlton Cuse (Lost), Randall Wallace (Braveheart), Shawn Ryan (The Shield), Brad Silberling (Jane the Virgin, Lemony Snickets…), Mark Waters (Mean Girls), Academy and Emmy Award winning director Alex Gibney (The Armstrong Lie), Angela Santomero (Blue’s Clues), and Carol Greenwald (Arthur).
Over the course of the next four weeks, viewer feedback will ultimately help to decide which of them get picked up to full series. So your opinions matter! You could help choose the next Golden Globe-winning series, after all.
Check out the synopsis of each of them below, and start watching them here today. »
Amazon has revealed its first slate of 13 pilots for 2015, including an adaptation of Philip K. Dick's cult classic novel The Man in the High Castle executive produced by Ridley Scott, a Civil War-era drama co-written by Lost's Carlton Cuse and a dark comedy about floundering 40-somethings executive produced by The Shield creator Shawn Ryan.
This batch of new pilots — six comedies and dramas, six children's shows and one docuseries — will be available for free on Amazon Instant Video in the U.S., U.K. and Germany starting on January 15th. »
Amazon Studios’ first pilot season of 2015 will debut Thursday, Jan. 15, unveiling seven drama and comedy projects as well as a half-dozen kid-centric pilots.
Already due to debut via Amazon Studios this year are the first full seasons of Bosch, Hand of God and Red Oaks, plus Season 2 of Transparent. (Chris Carter’s The After meanwhile just had its series order scrapped.)
The dramas and comedies are as follows (click photos to zoom):
Amazon Studios has announced a January 15th premiere date for its first batch of 2015 pilots. As usual, the company will make series greenlight decisions based on viewer feedback.
Four dramas and two comedies are on offer, most notably the remake of British black comedy series "Mad Dogs" which Shawn Ryan ("The Shield," "Last Resort") is producing. Steve Zahn, Billy Zane, Romany Malco, Michael Imperioli and Ben Chaplin star in this version of the show about a group of underachieving forty-something friends who visit a friend's Belize villa - a holiday that turns into a nightmare of lies, deception and murder.
Another high-profile title is a pilot for a series based on Philip K. Dick’s Hugo Award-winning 1962 alternative history story "The Man in the High Castle". Set twenty years after the Nazis won World War II, the U.S. is now divided between Japan and Germany and tensions between the »
- Garth Franklin
Get ready for our first pilot season of 2015, launching January 15th, when seven new primetime and six new kids pilots will debut on Amazon Instant Video. As with previous pilot seasons, viewers in the Us, UK and Germany will be invited to watch, rate and review them all over the course of four weeks, ultimately helping to decide which of them get picked up to full series.
The new pilots come from both highly-acclaimed and newly-discovered creators, and a legion of talented actors, directors and producers signed on to bring the pilots to life. Here’s a brief summary of each:
The Man in the High Castle – Based on Philip K. Dick’s award-winning novel, and executive produced by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner), The Man in the High Castle explores what it would be like if the Allied Powers had lost WWII, and Japan and Germany ruled the United States. »
15 items from 2015
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