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The broadcast networks have nearly 20 shows debuting this fall, including new sitcoms from Kevin James and Matt LeBlanc, the story of Mlb’s first female player and Michael Weatherly’s NCIS follow-up. To help you prep for it all, TVLine is offering First Impressions of the not-for-review pilots.
Next up on our list….
The Show | CBS’ Pure Genius (Thursdays at 10/9c, premiering Oct. 27)
The Competition | ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder and NBC’s The Blacklist
RelatedTNT’s Major Crimes Season 5 Adds 8 More Episodes
In the newly supersized Season 5’s eighth episode (airing Aug. 15), Flynn and Tao investigate the mysterious overdose of Chris Walker, a young actor who had been starring as the hero “Gold Storm” on a TV series. TVLine has learned exclusively that Fenn, whose more recent TV credits include Shameless and Ray Donovan, will play the deceased’s fiercely controlling, cherry stem-knotting and recently fired “momager.”
In the same episode, »
For those who haven’t yet heard, Paul Rudd and Steve Coogan are teaming up for new dramedy from Hamlet 2 writer and director Andrew Fleming , entitled Ideal Home. It has now just been announced that Jake McDorman, star of Limitless, will be joining the comedic duo for the forthcoming film.
Ideal Home will follow Paul (Rudd) and Erasmus (Coogan), a bickering married couple living an extravagant life until the latter’s grandson — who he didn’t know existed — shows up at their high-class dinner party, after which they reluctantly decide to take him in. According to Deadline, McDorman will be playing a character who goes by the name of Beau, “a drifter father who losses custody of his son to his estranged dad Erasmus and partner Paul.”
McDorman’s credits run all the way back to 2003. He has appeared in a number of TV series’ including Showtime’s Shameless »
- William Fanelli
The Hawthornes’ annual holiday newsletter’s gonna be a doozy this year.
Will the family at the center of CBS’ ominous serial-killer drama American Gothic lead with eldest daughter Alison’s mayoral run (or the fact that she appears to have an illicit lesbian attraction to her campaign manager)? Then again, they could go with prodigal son Garrett’s return to town (along with a how-to guide to shaving your mountain-man facial hair with a hunting knife).
RelatedCastle, Revenge, Glee and 17 Other Shows That Simply Ran Too Long
Oh, wait, I know! How about that time when mom attached dad »
Just last week, Paramount Pictures and Skydance Media debuted the trailer for their new sequel Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. The first look footage arrived as an exclusive for Entertainment Tonight, and had several key scenes missing. Now, the studio has finally premiered the full-length uncut trailer, which brings Tom Cruise back in all of his action-packed glory!
Jack Reacher 2 follows an Army major named Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), who took over as a Military Police commander after Jack Reacher walked away from the armed forces. After Susan is accused of espionage, Jack springs back into action to help her, while dealing with his own personal issues. All hell breaks loose as Jack and Susan team-up. Soon, they are on the run, and stay that way for the duration of this action drama. The story is based on author Lee Child's 18th book in the bestselling Jack Reacher series, »
Just as CBS’ other summer launch asks “What’s Eating Washington?” (answer: alien bugs), American Gothic in a way asks, “What’s eating the Hawthornes?” (answer: the secret that a serial killer’s roots may have sprung in their own, well-manicured backyard).
RelatedAmerican Gothic on CBS: Read TVLine’s Review
Premiering Wednesday at 10/9c, American Gothic follows a prominent Boston family — lorded over by Mitchell and Madeline Hawthorne (played by Homeland‘s Jamey Sheridan and Sideways‘ Virginia Madsen) — as daughter Allison (The Knick‘s Juliet Rylance) launches a run for mayor. Simultaneous with that proud event, however, siblings Cam »
The new season of Orange Is the New Black is filled with new faces, but one in particular looks familiar. The new guard, Desi Piscatella, is played by Brad William Henke, whom you might recognize but not be able to place. He has appeared in a myriad of TV shows since the '90s, including (but not limited to) ER, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, Shameless, Grimm, Bones, Castle, and, of course, Law & Order. But his résumé has expanded beyond guest-starring roles, as well. Here are five places you may have seen him before! »
- Maggie Pehanick
They say that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. If that's true, Anthony Hemingway is on permanent vacation. He has directed more than two dozen films and TV series, from ER to The Wire to Shameless to Orange Is the New Black to Underground. It's an eclectic group of projects, but every time he tackles something new, says Hemingway, he begins by finding a way to "advance progress and provide a contribution to the world." THR spoke with the veteran about his personal, passionate approach to directing, including his acclaimed work
- Craig Tomashoff
The bad news about the plethora of options available during peak TV is that the DVRs of television directors are just as backed up as everyone else’s. The good news is that this increase in television production offers more opportunities for said directors to land jobs.
“I try to be selective in what I choose to do and I try to find the shows that seem to be the most interesting,” says Daniel Attias, who’s helmed episodes of “Homeland,” “Masters of Sex” and “Ray Donovan.” “I have to rely on word-of-mouth to just be clued into what I should investigate or I happen to see them on my own. When I’m interested in a show, or when I investigate it and find that it is interesting to me, I have to get acquainted with it. Sometimes that happens after I’ve been hired. If and when that does occur, I have to immerse myself with it by watching all the episodes I can and read all the scripts of the season.”
And he isn’t the only one with an eclectic resume. The influx in new programming has given many seasoned directors an opportunity to get in on the ground floor and help set the look and feel for new projects. Director Nicole Kassell sat through “very long, in-depth tone meetings” where “I just asked and asked and asked a lot of questions” to figure out the design of her episode from the first season of HBO’s “Vinyl.”
“The pilot was already shot and I didn’t see a complete cut of it [when I signed on]; as early as possible, I went to see it,” says Kassell, whose recent credits also include “The Americans,” HBO’s “The Leftovers” and SundanceTV’s “Rectify.” “That was really the source for the look and style of it. It was very much [pilot director and series executive producer Martin] Scorsese’s body of work, whether it was ‘Goodfellas’ or ‘Casino’ or ‘Taxi Driver.’ As a lover of film and a film student, all of those films are in my DNA already.”
Kassell and Attias both say the lines between basic and premium cable have blurred and she says the only real difference is budgets — which, for her purposes, “translates to time.”
“The budgets are at the opposite extremes of the spectrum,” Kassell says. “I think it’s a fantastic experience going from ‘Vinyl’ to ‘The Americans’ because, to me, it gives me so much respect to all of these shows that find a way to deliver fantastic stories and cinematic pieces of art within their budgets. With ‘Vinyl’ and ‘The Leftovers,’ it was truly like making a movie.”
Uta Briesewitz, whose diverse resume spans Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” to Starz’s “Black Sails,” says because she’s directed so many cable shows she has “not felt as handcuffed as you might on other shows.” This is something she’s grown used to; she spent part of her early career as a cinematographer on HBO’s “The Wire” where she had “always been given freedom.”
The ample television options have also allowed some helmers to brand themselves and be choosy, carving out careers in which living in Los Angeles or New York is not mandatory. Lynn Shelton, for example, directed the pilot episode of ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat,” but chose not to take on a directing producer title so that she could continue to live in Seattle. She still frequently travels to L.A. to film episodes of “Fresh Off the Boat” and other series like Showtime’s “Shameless” and Fox’s “New Girl.” She also flies to New York to direct episodes of Netflix’s “Master of None.”
“I do think I know funny, but I’m also interested in actors,” Shelton says. “I’m really interested in performances that are grounded and have authentic feelings and that’s where the humor comes from instead of a broader approach. That’s something that I think all of the shows that I’ve worked on have … I always think of it as a dramatic-comedic mix.”
Shelton also scans projects to make sure they fit her qualifications for diversity and says she has “definitely looked at scripts that didn’t seem diverse enough, frankly.”
“I like to work on shows that I feel are adding to the conversation, culturally, instead of regurgitating the same old stuff,” she says.
The need for female and minority representation in Hollywood has been a heated topic in recent years, especially for DGA members as the focus is often on filling these roles behind the camera. Fast-rising stars on the directing circuit include Anthony Hemingway [FX’s “American Crime Story” and Wgn’s “Underground”] and Deborah Chow [USA’s “Mr. Robot” and The CW’s “The Vampire Diaries”].
Some series, like the Jenji Kohan-created “Oitnb” and Jennie Snyder Urman’s CW series “Jane the Virgin” have a reputation for hiring female helmers. Briesewitz has worked on both and is appreciative of those opportunities, but notes, “I don’t want to be put on a show that just has a lot of female characters because it’s almost like I am saying I agree to be excluded from the action-hero type shows.”
Briesewitz is prepping for her episode of Netflix’s upcoming Marvel installment, “Iron Fist.”
Of course, with so many TV series and so many seasoned directors snagging the jobs, younger, less-experienced helmers are now struggling to break into the industry. Attias, who has often mentored novice directors, has attempted to combat this problem by encouraging producers to take risks with new talent. This year, he offered to shadow Steph Green on set in exchange for allowing her a chance to direct an episode of “The Americans.”
It worked and her episode aired in May.
“Once you get the first credit, people are more willing to take the chance,” Attias says. He understands producers’ reluctance to take a gamble on such an expensive project, but adds, “it’s a big problem and I think it’s going to take people stepping up and sponsoring people to get them to break in.”
- Whitney Friedlander
Emmy nomination voting begins Monday. For the next week we'll be sharing FYCs of some kind. Here's Kieran...
William H. Macy and Joan Cusack aside, “Shameless" has been criminally overlooked by the Television Academy for six years. No nominations for Emmy Rossum (praises sung here) who has been giving the best performance of her career. Nothing for Cameron Monaghan, who has given us one of the most raw and unvarnished portrayals of queer adolescence ever seen on television. Nothing for the series itself, whose balance of drama and comedy and depiction of what American poverty really looks like remain unmatched. In an age where it seems difficult to tell stories about family without a larger, high-concept twist, “Shameless” remains overlooked and underestimated, despite its aforementioned merits.
This past season, Jeremy Allen White’s portrayal of Lip, the genius eldest son of the Gallagher clan took a huge leap forward in what had already been five years of impressive work. Even amidst somewhat ridiculous plot points (Lip’s been evicted and must serve as a bartender/rentboy at a sorority house on his college campus. What’s a young, strapping cishet male to do?!) White managed to eke out his best work on the series to date as Lip’s arc slowly revealed itself in the latter half of the season. He manages to strike the perfect balance between wry and vulnerable as the character evolves and sees his brave face and defense mechanisms crashing around him »
- Kieran Scarlett
We need to talk about the Hawthornes.
At first glance, the wealthy Boston family at the heart of CBS’ new summer drama American Gothic (premiering Wednesday, June 22 at 10/9c) might look like they just stepped out of a page from Who’s Who in the Patrician Beantown Suburbs, but you don’t have to get past the marble foyer to see their Jackson Pollock original isn’t the only thing in the house that’s a little spotty.
RelatedBrainDead Review: Good Wife Creators’ D.C. Satire Will Make Your Head Ache
Right from the opening scene, as eldest daughter Alison »
Director Sanaa Hamri landed her first executive producer credit on “Empire” — the top drama on network television. An alum of “Shameless,” “Elementary” and “Nashville,” who also helmed the sequel to “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” Hamri says the ratings and accolades are just gravy. “Of course there’s a lot of pressure,” she says, “but the pressure and loyalty is to the show itself and making it the best that we can.”
Why has “Empire” clicked with audiences?
Music, to me, is an important element because music is really the rhythm of our lives. We can all love a song and it doesn’t matter what walk of life or socioeconomic background we’re from.
“Empire” is broadcast’s top show. Is there pressure to keep the viewers watching?
I’m not focused on that so much as really creating the best show and the best episode that we can. »
- Elizabeth Wagmeister
Hop in the Wayback Machine and travel to a time not that long ago — circa 1998 — and most of the comedies on TV were tried and true multicam series shot in front of a studio audience. Three of the five Emmy nominees for best TV comedy were multicam [NBC’s “Frasier,” “Seinfeld” and “3rd Rock From the Sun”], only one was a single-camera half-hour [HBO’s “The Larry Sanders Show”] and one was an hourlong program [Fox’s “Ally McBeal”].
Since then the accepted definition of TV comedy has only broadened further.
At one end of the spectrum there are still multicam shows [like the still-mighty “The Big Bang Theory”], mostly on CBS, while at the other there are such experimental comedies as IFC’s first-it-was-a-sketch-show-now-it’s-a-character-comedy “Portlandia.” In between there are single-camera series ranging from ABC’s “Modern Family” to HBO’s “Veep” as well as hourlong comedies, including the CW’s “Jane the Virgin” and the musical “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” And then there are the half-hour streaming shows that are often as dramatic as they are comedic, »
- Rob Owen
Since 2010, the Emmy for supporting actor in a comedy has been shared between two shows, “Modern Family” and “Veep.” Tony Hale looks like a sure bet to score another nom after two wins, though the “Veep” ensemble is so strong, the entire category could comprise actors on the show. Likewise, the “Modern Family” cast is flawless, though two-time winners Eric Stonestreet and Ty Burrell have thus far been rewarded while Ed O’Neill and Jesse Tyler Ferguson have not.
And while technically not related, the supporting actors who make up the dysfunctional family of “Silicon Valley” are an embarrassment of riches — T.J. Miller should score a nomination just for his scene in episode four in which he delivers his lines while coughing and laughing simultaneously after a harsh bong hit. »
- Jenelle Riley
After five nominations for playing Sheila Jackson on “Shameless,” Joan Cusack finally took home the guest actress prize last year. And just in time — she didn’t appear in the show’s most recent season.
That opens the cateogry to a whole new winner, and it might just be someone who will be doubling up on noms this year. Ellen Burstyn [“Mom”] is also a potential nominee for her work on the drama “House of Cards,” as is Carrie Fisher [“Catastrophe”] for “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce.” Tovah Feldshuh stole the show with her “Where’s the Bathroom” number in “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” but could also score a nod on the drama side for her guest work on ‘The Walking Dead.”
Natasha Lyonne [“Portlandia”] did standout work on “Orange Is the New Black,” where her character is sorely missed. Cynthia Nixon [“Broad City”] and Judy Greer [“Mom”] are other actresses pulling double duty on the comedy and drama sides. »
- Jenelle Riley
“Mr. Robot” creator Sam Esmail and “Billions” co-creator David Levien hit it off the moment they met. The famed Algonquin Hotel was the perfect setting for a conversation with the showrunners behind two intense dramas that could only be set in New York City. As soon as they sat down, Esmail and Levien began to compare notes, trade compliments and swap tips about lensing in the city. They also offered the kind of detailed observations about each other’s shows that went well beyond lip service. [Esmail was envious of the nine-day shooting schedule for Showtime’s “Billions”; Levien, who co-runs his show with co-creator Brian Koppelman, was impressed by the amount of location work on USA’s “Robot.”] The mood in the room was enlivened by the presence of Emmy Rossum, Esmail’s fiancee and the star of Showtime’s “Shameless.” She took a firm hand in directing the photo shoot. But the real scene-stealer was Esmail and Rossum’s sweet-natured rescue pup, Pepper, who was just the right mix of excitable and adorable.
Both of your shows revolve around maverick individuals »
- Cynthia Littleton
At this point, the question isn’t whether Julia Louis-Dreyfus will score her fifth consecutive nomination for her role as President Selina Meyer on the HBO comedy “Veep,” but whether her winning streak will end. The actress has watched her character go from the titular vice president to leader of the free world, collecting a string of statues along the way. While Candice Bergen managed to score five wins for “Murphy Brown,” even she didn’t do it in a row.
But there are some new faces poised to take the prize this year, from Golden Globe winner Rachel Bloom (“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) to Amy Schumer (“Inside Amy Schumer”), who is on a hot streak herself. In addition, many actresses who have never scored a nom are coming off great second seasons, including Ellie Kemper (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), Gina Rodriguez (“Jane the Virgin”), Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”) and Constance Wu (“Fresh Off the Boat. »
- Variety Staff
HBO is digging deep — six feet deep, to be exact — to mark the 15th anniversary of Six Feet Under‘s debut.
In honor of the occasion, HBO2 will run a marathon of all 63 episodes of the award-winning drama series, beginning June 2 at 11 pm.
Ready for more of today’s newsy nuggets? Well…
* The new season of Running Wild With Bear Grylls will premiere Monday, July 11, at 10/9c on NBC. Additionally, the network announced that the comedic reality series Better Late Than Never will debut Tuesday, Aug. 23, at 10 pm. »
Season four of “Masters of Sex” will premiere Sunday, Sept. 11 at 10 p.m. Season 7 of “Shameless will debut at 9 p.m. Oct. 2. Season three of “The Affair” will premiere at 10 p.m. Nov. 20, taking over that time period from “Masters of Sex.”
The series will premiere on Showtime’s linear-cable, on demand and digital platforms.
“Shameless” is exec produced by John Wells, Christopher Chulack, Nancy M. Pimental, Krista Vernoff, Etan Frankel and Sheila Callaghan. It is produced by Bonanza Productions, Inc. in association with John Wells Productions and Warner Bros. Television.
“Masters of Sex” is produced by Sony Pictures Television and exec produced by Sarah Timberman, Carl Beverly, Amy Lippman and Judith Verno. “The Affair” is exec produced by Sarah Treem with Levi and Jeffrey Reiner.
Showtime’s Sunday lineup will soon face increased competition. »
- Daniel Holloway
A funny thing happened on TV while the adults were busy having affairs and plotting political coups. Their kids slowly took over their shows.
Until recently, whether they were used as writers’ ploys to delve deeper into another character — think a doe-eyed Meadow Soprano asking her mob boss dad the question he’s been dreading — or straight-up stupid (“24’s” not-so-epic battle between Kim Bauer and a mountain lion), teen characters on dramas geared toward adults rarely commanded respect.
“I found that depictions of teenagers in television tend to be pretty weak. And it tends to be pretty obvious and very clear that these are characters being written by, usually, men in their 40s or 50s and it creates not-interesting characters,” says Connor Jessup [“Falling Skies”], who stars as Taylor Blaine on the second season of ABC’s anthology series “American Crime,” created by John Ridley.
Jessup’s character was at the center »
- Whitney Friedlander
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