"Northern Exposure"
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2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003

7 items from 2016


From Morgan Freeman to Matthew Rhys, Actors Take on TV Directing Reins

15 June 2016 11:00 AM, PDT | Variety - TV News | See recent Variety - TV News news »

The Americans” star Matthew Rhys compares the process of directing an episode to childbirth — once it’s over, you forget how difficult it was in the moment (disclaimer: he is well aware that the comparison is totally baseless, but you get the point).

“The first episode back after directing, you’re just so relieved to be standing on a piece of tape, and not being pecked to death by a thousand questions,” he says. “It’s the episode after that where you go, ‘Oh, I’m a bit bored again.’ ”

Since episodic television relies on a revolving door of directors, actors are excited to take on new work behind the camera. Morgan Freeman, for one, directed the season two premiere of “Madam Secretary” (“The Show Must Go On”) in which the president goes missing and Elizabeth McCord [Tea Leoni] must be sworn into office. Freeman makes a cameo as the Supreme Court chief justice, and helps her take the oath.

The episode was his first directorial stint since his debut in 1993, directing the film “Bopha!” And while Freeman says he prefers the limited time in television as compared to a feature film, the episode still had its trials. “I think the biggest challenge in episodic television is time,” he says. “We cut some wonderful scenes. And you don’t like to cut actors out when they’ve done such wonderful work.”

Freeman will return to the “Madam Secretary” set in July to direct the show’s season three premiere. He says directing allows him to draw from his experiences working with legendary filmmakers. “The idea of directing does become appealing as you work [as an actor],” Freeman says. “Particularly when I worked with Clint Eastwood, I got so many great pointers in directing, just watching him work.” For example, “Positive feedback is the biggest thing, and speed.”

“Coming from the inside you kind of go, ‘Look, I know this dialogue, I’ve used it to annoy directors myself.’ ” matthew rhys

Multi-hyphenate Adam Arkin directed the final two episodes of “Fargo’s” season two, and also played a small role as Hamish Broker, a midlevel manager of a crime syndicate. He says his relationship between acting and directing has fluctuated over time, starting with his first gig on an episode of “Northern Exposure.”

“For quite a while after that, it was almost exclusively on shows that I had committed to as an actor already,” he says. “Now it’s done a complete 180, in that quite often the acting jobs I get now are connected with shows that I’ve already been established on as a director.”

The two episodes that Arkin directed on “Fargo” included elaborate coordination. He had to arrange sequences ranging in scope from a large-scale ambush at a hotel that is interrupted by a UFO sighting, to an intimate conversation in a car between Peggy Blumquist (Kirsten Dunst) and Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson). “There were sequences in those episodes that involved the occasional sleepless night,” Arkin laughs.

So much so that the pressure of acting scarcely crossed his mind. “My focus was probably 98% on the directing part of the equation — even on the day that I was acting,” he says. “There are just a hundred more responsibilities in that role.”

Actors tend to direct shows that they already have ties to, but Regina King says when she expressed interest in directing, director-producer Paris Barclay advised her to do the opposite. “He said, ‘If you want people to really take you seriously, they need to see that you are taking the steps to take it seriously beyond your show. There are a lot of actors who direct on their show. You want to show that your ambition goes beyond what’s convenient.’”

So King applied to a number of directing programs, with her sights set specifically on ABC. “I wanted to work with Shonda Rhimes,” she says. Once she was accepted into the program, King began shadowing “Private Practice,” then “Scandal.”

“Part of the shadowing is you get to observe how the machine works,” she says. “You’re not coming in trying to change anything. You’re coming in, embracing the tone that’s already been set, and trying to put your own signature on it. It’s like you go into a person’s kitchen, and you say ‘Oh, I eat that too. I love chicken parmesan, but I sprinkle parsley on mine.’”

King has since directed “Scandal,” including the season five episode “Pencils Down” in which Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) tries to help presidential hopeful Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) recover from a campaign PR stunt gone wrong.

As an Emmy-winning actress, King says some of the same tools used in acting translate. “I’ve always had good communication with actors as an actor, so that was not much of shift,” she says. “That was a feather that I could already put in my director’s cap.”

You Betcha: Adam Arkin has directed episodes of numerous FX series including the “Fargo” season two finale.

Recently she also directed an episode of “The Catch,” and moved outside ShondaLand for episodes of “Animal Kingdom” and “Greenleaf,” all while starring in “American Crime” and “The Leftovers.” As her credits would suggest, King says her aspirations are neck and neck. “I don’t want to do one or the other, I want to do both,” she says. “And not particularly both at the same time.”

But unlike many actor-directors who might have a very small part in the episodes they direct, Rhys, who directed season four, episode eight of “The Americans” (“The Magic of David Copperfield V: The Statue of Liberty Disappears”), is the lead actor. “I was lucky enough to trust an amazing crew,” he says. “I blindly, maybe ignorantly or arrogantly, trusted that [the acting] was there after four seasons, and just thought about the directing.”

Rhys says he was originally supposed to direct a different, less-involved episode, but co-star Keri Russell’s pregnancy led to a condensed production schedule.“I got [episode] eight, which was this beast of an episode that had airplanes and deaths and fights. Everything was thrown at the wall,” he says, “I was given a box of fireworks.”

Before “The Americans,” Rhys got his start directing a few episodes of “Brothers & Sisters” while he was on the show. He says he “was very keen to direct” when “The Americans” started, and even raised the idea with the creators. “Obviously they were very wary to give me an episode in season one,” he says. “They had kind of skirted the issue.” Which turned out to be a relief for Rhys once he realized how labor-intensive the show’s production schedule would be. “This is an absolute sprint.”

But on a broad level, directing and acting do inform one another, and manifest in literal ways. “When I first directed, years ago, it kind of changed a number of things about the way I conduct myself. I’m far more punctual. I don’t come with any ideas anymore. I just say to the director ‘Where do you want me to stand, and how do you want me to say it?’ It kind of makes me act quicker,” he says.

And Rhys sees one more big advantage: He speaks the actor’s language, which means he can see straight through their nonsense. “Coming from the inside you kind of go, ‘Look, I know this dialogue, I’ve used it to annoy directors myself, so don’t use it on me. There’s no magic here. I just need you to stand by the window.’”

»

- Seth Kelley

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Review: On 'The Americans,' will 'The Day After' make Elizabeth do something awful?

11 May 2016 8:04 PM, PDT | Hitfix | See recent Hitfix news »

A review of tonight's The Americans coming up just as soon as I promise you it'll be better if you blink... "This is why we're here." -Elizabeth At 10, I was too young to watch The Day After when ABC aired it in the fall of 1983, but I knew all about it. The marketing for it was inescapable, making it into the kind of event that the Jennings and Beeman families would watch together (and that even the agents of the rezidentura would want to check out). I didn't even need to see the thing to have nightmares about it, and about the larger peril of global thermonuclear annihilation that hung over us every damn day back then. More than once as a kid, I had to ask one of my parents to reassure me at bedtime that the world wouldn't blow up while I was asleep, and we know from »

- Alan Sepinwall

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Series Mania: David Chase – ‘The Sopranos’ Was a Middle Finger at the TV Establishment’

17 April 2016 6:19 AM, PDT | Variety - TV News | See recent Variety - TV News news »

Paris — The head of the jury at the 7th Series Mania, “The Sopranos” showrunner David Chase took to the stage for an extended interview, reflecting on a long and varied career that very nearly took some very different turns. Beginning with his childhood in New Jersey, he revealed that his youth was vital to his later career as a writer, but not for the reasons many expected. “We were one of the last families to get a television set,” he said. “My father didn’t want to do it. He thought I would spend all my time watching television. Which is what I did do once we got the television. He said he was going to put a lock on it, and he never did do that. But I did watch quite a bit on it.”

Describing post-war New Jersey as “sauvage,” painting a picture of an outgoing, outdoorsy child, »

- Damon Wise

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Alec Baldwin as Mr. Big?! Sex and the City Creator Reveals His Original Picks for Carrie Bradshaw's Two Big Loves

24 March 2016 9:15 AM, PDT | PEOPLE.com | See recent PEOPLE.com news »

He's got two ears and a heart, doesn't he? Many fell under the spell of Chris Noth on Sex and the City, but would Mr. Big have won viewers' - and Carrie Bradshaw's - affection with a different actor? Just maybe. The series' creator Darren Star revealed to Entertainment Weekly that his initial pick for the role was none other than the man who would go on to play 30 Rock's Jack Donaghy."I was thinking of Alec Baldwin for Big initially [in Sex and the City]," Star shared. "I don't really watch Law & Order, but I met with Chris Noth and thought he was perfect. »

- Lindsay Kimble, @lekimble

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Alec Baldwin as Mr. Big?! Sex and the City Creator Reveals His Original Picks for Carrie Bradshaw's Two Big Loves

24 March 2016 9:15 AM, PDT | PEOPLE.com | See recent PEOPLE.com news »

He's got two ears and a heart, doesn't he? Many fell under the spell of Chris Noth on Sex and the City, but would Mr. Big have won viewers' - and Carrie Bradshaw's - affection with a different actor? Just maybe. The series' creator Darren Star revealed to Entertainment Weekly that his initial pick for the role was none other than the man who would go on to play 30 Rock's Jack Donaghy."I was thinking of Alec Baldwin for Big initially [in Sex and the City]," Star shared. "I don't really watch Law & Order, but I met with Chris Noth and thought he was perfect. »

- Lindsay Kimble, @lekimble

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Anthony Edwards Joins Nancy Drew Drama Pilot at CBS

24 February 2016 10:51 AM, PST | The Wrap | See recent The Wrap news »

Anthony Edwards has been cast in the CBS drama pilot “Drew,” which is a modern take on the Nancy Drew mystery novels, TheWrap has learned. Edwards will play Nancy’s father, Carson, who graduated at the top of his class from Yale Law School. He is known for playing Dr. Mark Greene on the long-running medical drama “ER.” He has also starred in the short lived series “Zero Hour” and appeared in the cult hit “Northern Exposure.” Also Read: Dermot Mulroney Joins CBS Drama Pilot 'Bunker Hill' “Drew” follows Nancy, now a detective for the NYPD in her 30s, as »

- Joe Otterson

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‘Madam Secretary’ Creator Barbara Hall Inks Overall Deal with CBS TV Studios

17 February 2016 2:32 PM, PST | Variety - TV News | See recent Variety - TV News news »

CBS Television Studios is expanding the relationship with one of its longstanding creators, Barbara Hall.

The “Madam Secretary” creator has signed an overall deal with CBS Television Studios, Variety has learned. Under the two-year pact, Hall will continue to run the show while developing new projects.

Hall’s relationship with CBS dates back decades. Prior to “Madam Secretary,” Hall created the network’s series “Judging Amy,” which ran six seasons, and “Joan of Arcadia,” which ran for two. She also served on a writer on “Newhart” in the ’80s and “Northern Exposure” in the early ’90s.

Currently in its second season, “Madam Secretary,” starring Téa Leoni, is averaging 12.47 million viewers, ranking among the top 10 scripted programs this season. Though there is no word on a third season, with Hall’s new deal, it seems likely the political drama will land a renewal.

Hall is repped by UTA, Brillstein Entertainment Partners and Ziffren. »

- Elizabeth Wagmeister

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2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003

7 items from 2016


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