10 items from 2015
Last week we reminisced about Vito Russo with two related docs: the essential The Celluloid Closet and the 2011 HBO doc Vito. This week we turn from a pivotal figure in silver screen Lgbt history to a pivotal one for the small screen. I’m talking, of course, of Lance Loud, who famously came out in An American Family in 1973 when the Loud family became the subject of a PBS docuseries, what many deem to be one of the first reality shows in American TV. Directed by Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini, Cinema Verite (watch on HBOGo) follows the behind-the-scenes drama behind that infamous and breakthrough program.
For Americans, as we saw last week, many of the images they saw of homosexuals on movie screens were outright stereotypes. But they really paled in comparison to the images they were getting from the media. In 1967, CBS aired The Homosexuals an episode of CBS Reports. »
- Manuel Betancourt
Frank Spotnitz is no stranger to altered realities. As one of the core writer/producers on “The X-Files,” Spotnitz was one of the people who introduced millions of avid viewers to mutants, bizarre killers and ominous plots that may have involved alien visitation.
Spotnitz’s new show, “The Man in the High Castle,” is firmly anchored to Earth-bound reality — but it’s a grim reality in which North America, having lost World War 2, has been split up by the Axis powers and its populace must contend with an enormous array of discriminatory and oppressive policies. In Spotnitz’s version of the classic Philip K. Dick novel “The Man in the High Castle,” the forbidden books that characters exchange have been replaced by copies of an underground film, but the themes of subversion, rebellion and compromise remain in play.
This interview with executive producer and showrunner Spotnitz, which has been edited and condensed, »
- Maureen Ryan
There are few people in show business with such enviable careers as Thomas McCarthy. As an actor, he’s worked with everyone from Peter Jackson and Clint Eastwood to Lukas Moodysson and Mike White, in addition to his pivotal turn on HBO’s The Wire. As a writer-director, McCarthy’s output, starting with his debut feature The Station Agent, rarely fails to captivate audiences. Even McCarthy’s critical missteps, such as his comedic fairy tale The Cobbler, are equally compelling for their flaws and miscalculations.
His newest film, Spotlight, has already garnered an immensely positive critical reception, including our review from Venice. The drama is based on the true story of the journalists at the Boston Globe who discovered a child molestation scandal and cover-up within the walls of the Catholic Church.
If you’re interested in thematically-similar films, focusing on journalism, courtroom drama, and David and Goliath battles of moral sacrifice, »
- TFS Staff
David Letterman has a new hosting gig – of sorts.
The veteran late-night comedian will in 2016 journey to India to examine how that nation is trying to bring solar power to its entire population within the next decade. It’s a far cry from rattling off the popular Top Ten Lists and Stupid Pet Tricks that were so much a part of his more than three decades of wee-hours television for CBS and NBC. But it’s a chance for Letterman to give voice to the issue of climate change on a new, albeit temporary, home: National Geographic Channel.
Letterman will join Jack Black, Ty Burrell, James Cameron, Thomas Friedman, Joshua Jackson , Aasif Mandvi, Olivia Munn, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ian Somerhalder and Cecily Strong in the second season of the documentary series “Years of Living Dangerously,” which explores the issue of climate change and won a 2014 Emmy for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series. »
- Brian Steinberg
Patricia Neal ca. 1950. Patricia Neal movies: 'The Day the Earth Stood Still,' 'A Face in the Crowd' Back in 1949, few would have predicted that Gary Cooper's leading lady in King Vidor's The Fountainhead would go on to win a Best Actress Academy Award 15 years later. Patricia Neal was one of those performers – e.g., Jean Arthur, Anne Bancroft – whose film career didn't start out all that well, but who, by way of Broadway, managed to both revive and magnify their Hollywood stardom. As part of its “Summer Under the Stars” series, Turner Classic Movies is dedicating Sunday, Aug. 16, '15, to Patricia Neal. This evening, TCM is showing three of her best-known films, in addition to one TCM premiere and an unusual latter-day entry. 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' Robert Wise was hardly a genre director. A former editor (Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons »
- Andre Soares
All this week, the Vulture TV Awards honor the best television from the past year. The nominees are: John Oliver Greg Berlanti Shonda Rhimes Reed Hastings Michele Ganeless And the Most Important Person in TV is ... John Oliver When Charlie Rose presented John Oliver with a Peabody Award last month, he insisted that, no matter how often the HBO host protests, “He really is a journalist.” Rose’s characterization was accurate, of course — but also too narrow. Oliver isn’t just a comic who commits journalism from time to time. He’s not a purveyor of “fake news,” as Jon Stewart has mockingly called himself for years. Instead, perhaps without even realizing it, Oliver has emerged as a sort of modern mash-up of two of the 20th century’s biggest TV news icons: Walter Cronkite and Mike Wallace. Like Cronkite, he’s our trusted, truth-telling anchor. He uses his platform to educate and inform, »
- Josef Adalian
Like his protégé David Letterman, Johnny Carson entertained America every night for decades, but was largely a mystery off camera. "He doesn't trust very many people, so people who don't know him think he's aloof, stiff, snobby," said his third wife Joanna. But he did open up in a 1979 60 Minutes profile, which can be viewed below, when a confrontational Mike Wallace visited Carson's home in Bel Air, California. The journalist and his crew followed the late night host as he prepared for his show that night by reading newspapers and magazines, »
Campus, a Manhattan native, graduated from U. of Wisconsin and served as a U.S. Army lieutenant in Berlin after WWII. He broke into the business as a writer-producer on “Pm East/Pm West” late-night talk show hosted by Mike Wallace and Joyce Davidson, then joined ABC Television’s special projects division to work on documentaries such as “Saga of Western Man,” “Meet Comrade Student” and “India the Troubled Giant.”
Campus later became director of special programs at CBS, where he supervised over 150 specials including “Horowitz at Carnegie Hall,” Hal Holbrook’s “Mark Twain Tonight” and Peter Hall’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” He worked for David Suskind’s Talent Associates and produced “Ages of Man,” starring John Gielgud.
Campus also »
- Dave McNary
'The Insider' movie: Al Pacino and Russell Crowe 'The Insider' movie: 1999 exposé of CBS news show barks, but doesn't bite Michael Mann's 1999 movie The Insider quote exchange: "It's old news. ... We'll be ok," says Don Hewitt (Philip Baker Hall), the creator of the CBS news show 60 Minutes. "These things have a half-life of 15 minutes." "No, that's fame," replies 60 Minutes anchor Mike Wallace (Christopher Plummer). "Fame has a 15-minute half-life. Infamy lasts a little longer." The infamous "things" referred to by Hewitt and Wallace are the series of scandals that erupted in early 1996, when it was revealed that CBS had refused to air an interview with a tobacco company whistleblower because the network feared the (financial) consequences. What Freedom of the Press? Based on Marie Brenner's Vanity Fair article about the events that led up to that embarrassing – and disturbing – incident, The Insider tells the story of scientist Jeffrey Wigand »
- Andre Soares
H. Wesley “Wes” Kenney, a producer and director who directed more than 20 episodes of “All in the Family” and won seven Daytime Emmys over the course of a 35-year career, died Jan. 13 of cardiac arrest at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica. He was 89.
Kenney produced hundreds of episodes of soap operas including “Days of Our Lives,” “The Young and the Restless,” “General Hospital” and “The Doctors” and directed episodes of series including “My Favorite Martian,” “Big John Little John” and “Flo” — as well as the pilot for “The Jeffersons.”
Harry Wesley Kenney Jr. was born in Dayton, Ohio. After time in the Navy, he began his showbiz career at the DuMont Network, where he would helm live broadcasts — as many as a dozen each day. He directed episodes of the early ’50s series “Rocky King, Detective” and he also worked with Mike Wallace on the latter’s »
- Variety Staff
10 items from 2015
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