20 items from 2015
The story of the Texas Revolution is certainly worth the scope of a five-night, 10-hour miniseries on the History Channel. However, Texas Rising, which debuts on Memorial Day, is a plodding, bloated chronicling of a potent time in American history. Its star-studded cast, with around two dozen main or featured performers, is impressive; however, the breadth of the ensemble, filled to the brim with great character actors, doesn’t allow for much depth with many of the characters. The result is not just middling, but somewhat problematic, considering the flattened portrayals of the Mexican and Comanche armies, both trying to hold onto native territory.
One surefire sign of the mini-series’ lackluster quality comes in the opening minute, as several paragraphs of text float onto the screen to explain the back-story of how “Texas is in flames.” There is so much history compressed to the few paragraphs that it is a »
- Jordan Adler
With a Memorial Day debut on History Channel, Texas Rising has ambitious aims. But sad to say, the 10-hour multi-week miniseries just doesn't hit the target. Brought to the small screen by some of the team behind the blockbuster The Hatfields And McCoys series, the Roland Joffe-directed tale of Lone Star warfare and revolution ends up, as my video review above says, being shrill instead of strong. Not that Texas Rising lacks a Texas-sized cast as it picks up this piece of… »
School may be almost out, but that doesn’t mean Jeffrey Dean Morgan isn’t ready to offer some history lessons. The actor will soon appear in two period dramas about very different aspects of U.S. culture: History’s “Texas Rising” miniseries, about the formation of the Texas Rangers, and Lifetime’s “The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe,” where he plays baseball great Joe Dimaggio. (Later this summer, he’ll head to the future and star opposite Halle Berry in the second season of CBS’ “Extant”).
Morgan was candid with Variety about his attraction to both projects during an interview at the London Hotel in West Hollywood. Here, he explains that Westerns make for good entertainment because there’s less dialogue (“That’s the sign of bad television, they’re over-explaining. In a Western, you’re never over-explaining.”) and speaks of the tumultuous love story that was Marilyn Monroe’s relationship with Dimaggio. »
- Whitney Friedlander
The enormity of the talent involved in History’s exhilarating new historical drama, Texas Rising, was more than evident as Bill Paxton, Olivier Martinez, Ray Liotta, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Roland Joffé walked into a hotel cottage in Pasadena earlier this year to talk to us about the 10-hour event series. It’s truly the TV event of the year with an emotionally riveting story and a cast list that extends beyond the aforementioned, which includes Brendan Fraser, Thomas Jane, Christopher McDonald, Jeremy Davies, Chad Michael Murray, Max Thieriot, Robert Knepper, Rhys Coiro, Crispin Glover, Jeff Fahey, Rob Morrow, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Trevor … Continue reading →
- Barb Oates
Watching the first six hours of “Texas Rising,” a wonderfully cast and otherwise completely wooden miniseries, one has to wonder what inspired the History channel to expand the production from six hours to 10. Chronicling a chapter in the Lone Star state’s bloody ascent to U.S. statehood that begins in the ashes of the Alamo, the Roland Joffe-directed project juggles too many indifferently written, tough-talkin’ characters, as if “Lonesome Dove” had experienced a sharp blow to the head. Fans of Westerns will no doubt be eager to immerse themselves in this once-abundant, now-underutilized genre, but for those who tend to be discriminating about their TV watching, don’t mess with “Texas.”
Granted, History has enjoyed considerable success with oaters in this particular window — witness the breakout ratings for “Hatfields & McCoys” in 2012 — and one suspects “Texas Rising” could capitalize on a similar dynamic, albeit in a less-ostentatious way. But even with its flaws, »
- Brian Lowry
'Saint Joan': Constance Cummings as the George Bernard Shaw heroine Constance Cummings on stage: George Bernard Shaw, William Shakespeare and Benn W. Levy (See previous post: "Constance Cummings: Actress Went from Harold Lloyd to Eugene O'Neill.") In the mid-1930s, Constance Cummings landed the title roles in two of husband Benn W. Levy's stage adaptations: Levy and Hubert Griffith's Young Madame Conti (1936), from Bruno Frank's original, which was presented on both sides of the Atlantic. (On Broadway, the play had a brief run in spring 1937 at the Music Box Theatre.) The Theatre Guild-produced Madame Bovary (1937), from the Gustave Flaubert novel, staged in late fall at Broadway's Broadhurst Theatre. Referring to the London production of Young Madame Conti, The Sunday Times critic James Agate wrote that the American actress had made "a roaring success out of what in other hands might so easily have been an inarticulate, »
- Andre Soares
TV Picks: “Texas Rising” is History’s tent-pole event of 2015 set to premiere on Memorial Day.The network lucked out in securing a two-time Academy Award nominated director and an all-star cast. This was a massive undertaking that was filmed in the blistering desert of Durango, Mexico, in wide format CinemaScope. Quite simply, “Texas Rising” is a high quality, compelling historical drama that you must not miss.Two-time Oscar-nominated director Roland Joffé directs “Texas Rising” with an all-star cast including: Bill Paxton, Brendan Fraser, Ray Liotta, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Olivier Martinez, Thomas Jane, Christopher McDonald, Jeremy Davies, Chad Michael Murray, Max […] »
- April Neale
Read More: History Orders 'Texas Rising' Miniseries, Starring Bill Paxton, Brendan Fraser, Ray Liotta and Directed by Roland Joffé After its sprawling backwoods miniseries "Hatfields & McCoys" snagged five Emmy Awards in 2012, History is back at it three years later with "Texas Rising." The sprawling, 10-hour production reunites "Hatfields" star Bill Paxton with the format that earned him his first Emmys nod, this time playing Sam Houston, known as the "father" of Texas. The miniseries takes place during the Texas Revolution against Mexico and explores the rise of the infamous Texas Rangers, known as the longest-standing law enforcement organization in North America. The event series has been groomed as a follow-up to "Hatfields & McCoys," featuring the same lead actor (Paxton), production company (Thinkfactory Media) and release date (Memorial Day weekend) as its predecessor. But the 2012 limited drama, »
- David Canfield
Remember all the hue and cry over Bipasha Basu's first international project Singularity, and that too a project directed by the renowned British director Roland Joffe. The last time when Joffe was in India-in Kolkata, to be precise-- he carved out a nugget called The City Of Joy with Om Puri, Shabana Azmi and Patrick Swayze. There is nothing joyful about Bipasha Basu's first sojourn into Western cinema. The film now entitled The Lovers has apparently been given the dreaded straight-to-dvd treatment which is reserved for those films that Hollywood studios lose faith in. What's worse, the reviews range from vaguely giggly to downright nasty. Wrote Time Out, "Forget that The Lovers doesn't have the courtesy to be fun; no cosmic romance should be so deeply afraid to shoot for the stars. As one of the film's many forgettable characters so eloquently puts it, "This stinks worse than an oyster's fart. »
- Subhash K. Jha
Now the smoke has cleared following international television program market MipTV in Cannes, which wrapped on Thursday, the outline of some of the major trends can be made out.
One trend that has been evident for a while but was more pronounced than ever last week is that the major players are ramping up production of high-end drama.
“The original programming slate at Starz has been ramping up for last two years and is continuing to do,” Gene George, Starz exec VP, worldwide distribution said. “The number of episodes of original programming in Starz has near doubled in two years from 42 in 2013 to a projected 75-80 in 2015.”
It is the same story everywhere you look — BBC Worldwide, All3Media, ITV Global, FremantleMedia, and so on – the big-budget scripted show is king.
For many of these major players, the aim is to produce cinematic-quality dramas. One example was the A+E »
- Leo Barraclough and John Hopewell
The History miniseries “Texas Rising,” set to bow on Memorial Day, has been expanded to 10 hours and will air over the course of five weeks, the network announced on Tuesday.
The series, which details the Texas Revolution and the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers, will air two-hour installments on both Memorial Day (May 25) and the next night (Tuesday, May 26). Its final six hours will then be played out over the next three Mondays (June 1, 8 and 15).
It had originally been planned as a six-hour series.
Roland Joffe is directing “Texas Rising,” whose all-star cast includes Bill Paxton, Brendan Fraser, Ray Liotta and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. It is produced by A+E Studios, ITV Studios America and Thinkfactory Media. Leslie Greif serves as executive producer. Dirk Hoogstra and Julian P. Hobbs serve as executives in charge of production.
History is hoping ratings magic can strike twice with Paxton and another event series set in the South. »
- Rick Kissell
It’s a long way from the Alamo, but the Lone Star will be shining on the French Riviera, as History channel’s miniseries “Texas Rising” makes its world premiere April 13 at the Mip TV Media Market in Cannes.
Presented by ITV Studios (which co-produced with A+E Studios and Thinkfactory Media) at the Grand Auditorium in Palais 1, the event begins with a Q&A panel featuring cast members Bill Paxton, Ray Liotta and Olivier Martinez, along with director Roland Joffe and executive producer Leslie Greif, followed by a screening of the first installment of the eight-hour epic.
It might seem odd to premiere the story of the founding of the Republic of Texas in an international setting, but not to Dan Gopal, exec VP of distribution and global partners, Emea, for ITV Studios Global Entertainment.
“Its root is very much this sort of Western drama based on real-life events, »
- Kate O'Hare
Mip TV will see ITV Studios Global Entertainment hit the Croisette with a number of new dramas from around the world, including Swedish thriller “Jordskott,” which is the company’s first foray into non-English-language drama; British costume drama “Poldark”; U.S. enchantress tale “Good Witch,” which stars Catherine Bell and airs on Hallmark Channel; and U.S. crime drama “Aquarius,” which stars David Duchovny and will broadcast on NBC.
“We want to be known as a global distributor and global production company, not based in one particular place in the world, but able to move rather agilely across the world, and working with the best creators, wherever they may be,” says Maria Kyriacou, managing director of Itvsge, which distributes ITV programs around the world.
The international market is constantly shifting and one of the major forces reshaping the commercial and creative landscape is the rise of the subscription video-on-demand platforms. »
- Leo Barraclough
Paris — Idris Elba has joined the roster of stars who are set to attend at Miptv, the Cannes-set confab which has grown into a popular showcase of premium content for all platforms.
Elba (“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”) will attend Miptv to promote his documentary “Mandela, My Dad and Me” which is produced by his outfit Green Door Pictures, Woodcut Media and Shine North, and repped in international markets by Content Television.
Directed by Daniel Vernon, the one-off doc follows Elba on a journey of “self-exploration” in South Africa during the filming of “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” in which he starred as the political hero. The doc then chronicles the actor’s struggle to produce “Idris Elba presents Mi Mandela,” an album of South African music paying tribute to Mandela, while coping with the sudden death of his father, who was also his role model.
“I am delighted to »
- Elsa Keslassy
Simone Kessell heads to Capetown next month to play the first Queen of Egypt in Biblical epic Of Kings and Prophets. It.s yet another exotic role for the New Zealand-born actress who is now based in Los Angeles with her husband of 11 years, director Gregor Jordan. In Roland Joffe.s The Lovers, which has just opened in a limited number of Us cinemas, she plays an English governess in colonial India. She.s just seen The Lovers (formerly known as Singularity), which had a tortuous path to the screen after the production was beset with financial problems. Her verdict? .It looks magnificent but it.s very hard to follow because whole chunks were cut from the film,. she tells If on the line from La. Most of her scenes were with Josh Hartnett, who has the dual roles of a 21st Century marine archaeologist and an 18th Century British colonialist. »
- Don Groves
The movies generally refute the toxic bromide that nice guys finish last, but not The Lovers. A dopey but lavish romantic epic about magical rings that unite soul mates, Roland Joffé's latest proposes that to be a mensch is to be a martyr. Such is the fate that befalls 21st-century marine archaeologist Jay Fennel and 18th-century British colonialist James Stewart, both played with squinty stoicism by Josh Hartnett. Sure, the two men have gorgeous women hankering after them, but bad luck haunts their gentle hearts: Jay is knocked into a coma while rescuing his wife (Tamsin Egerton), while James can't help nobly siding with Britain's conquests (e.g., Scotland, India). The drama mostly follows James along his journey through a partially colonized India, wher »
The career of of British filmmaker Roland Joffé is a strange one. A television director for a decade in the U.K., he earned a Best Director Oscar nomination for his first (The Killing Fields) and second (The Mission) films. That was thirty years ago. Since then, the man has directed nine features, all received lukewarm at best (Fat Man and Little Boy, […] »
- Dan Mecca
The Alamo was not the end of the story, it was only the beginning, and Texas Rising details what followed in the fight for an independent Texas. In 1836, west of the Mississippi was considered the Wild West and the Texas frontier was viewed as hell on earth. With colliding cultures all fighting for stakes to this territory, no one was safe. But this was a time of bravery, a time to die for what you believed in and a time to stand tall against the fierce Mexican General Santa Anna. General Sam Houston (Paxton), the rag tag Rangers and the legendary “Yellow Rose of Texas,” lead this story of the human will to fight for freedom despite insurmountable odds and to »
- Gary Collinson
The History Channel did so well with Hatfields And McCoys in 2012, that they are re-teaming with star of that series, Bill Paxton, for Texas Rising – and it is Paxton that features in the first image from the production, from Entertainment Weekly. The eight hour miniseries details the rise of the Texas Rangers after the events at the Alamo, and also numbers Brendan Fraser among its all-star cast.
Paxton stars as Sam Houston – namesake of the Texas city, and the American politician and soldier that helped bring Texas into the United States. During his career, in addition to being the first and third President of the Republic of Texas, he was instrumental in the victory that secured the independence of Texas from Mexico at the Battle of San Jacinto. The Texas Rangers – about whom this miniseries is made – were technically founded by Stephen F. Austin in 1823, when he employed ten men »
- Sarah Myles
London — “Texas Rising,” which will air on History in the U.S., is set for TV conference MipTV in Cannes as its World Premiere TV Screening.
The first episode will be screened in Cannes’ Palais des Festivals on April 13, and key cast and the creators will walk the red carpet for MipTV’s opening party.
- Leo Barraclough
20 items from 2015
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