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Sam Bain lifts the lid on 'painful' decision to turn down HBO series, Three Men in a Boat stars enter choppy waters – and Britain's smelliest-looking celebrity
This week's comedy news
Laughing Stock this week brings you news, not of something that's happened in the world of comedy, but something that didn't. According to an interview with Peep Show creator Sam Bain on the Stateside podcast A Bit of a Chat, Bain and his writing partner Jesse Armstrong "were about a week away from flying to La to co-create Flight of the Conchords, and then Peep Show got recommissioned and we couldn't go".
Bain and Armstrong had agreed to make the HBO series with Conchords stars Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement – "[although] we didn't know it was gonna be as good as it was," Bain told interviewer Ken Plume. (It turned out – with the Conchords' eventual co-writer James Bobin – to be very good indeed. »
- Brian Logan
Forgive the major broadcast networks for feeling a bit like the evil “Queen in Snow White” and the Seven Dwarfs these days. When asking their Magic Mirror for positive reinforcement, the answer is seldom completely satisfying.
Still the fairest of them all? Not in terms of prestige and awards. The biggest? Yes, but this season programs like “The Walking Dead,” “The Bible,” “Downton Abbey” and (from the sublime to the ridiculous) “Duck Dynasty” have all drawn ratings that level the playing field — and undercut traditional claims to commercial broadcasters representing a unique audience-delivery vehicle.
For the broadcast networks, the challenge encapsulated if seldom articulated during their upfront-week presentations thus boiled down to a simple question: In today’s fragmented world, what attributes still make them special?
See Also: Pilot Scorecard: Track the Orders in Real-Time
And so, the networks’ pitch to media buyers — a ritual NBC’s Ted Harbert »
- Brian Lowry
Got a scoop request? An anonymous tip you’re dying to share? Send any/all of the above to firstname.lastname@example.org
Question: For the love of a Happy Ending, any word on whether or not USA Network will right a terrible wrong? —Tiera
Ausiello: No news is, in this case, pretty good news. Negotiations continue between Sony and USA, which tells me that the cabler remains seriously interested in giving the show a fourth season. Meanwhile, if the talks collapse — bite your tongue, Ausiello! — it’s an inevitability that Damon Wayans Jr. will find himself back on New Girl next season in some capacity. »
- Michael Ausiello
Downton Abbey fans, listen up! Unlikely heartthrob Brendan Coyle, the 49-year-old English actor who plays Bates, the PBS show's ill-fated butler, is auctioning himself off to benefit the Origin Theatre Company in New York. The event takes place tonight May, 21. The coveted prize is available for a date only on Wednesday, May 22. It's a toss-up who the real winner is, though -- the highest bidder or Coyle himself. According to the theater company's website, the winner gets to "read poetry to Coyle in a horse-drawn [...] »
The Origin Theatre Company, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the cultivation, development, and interpretation of new and emerging European playwrights, has organized a series of online auctions to raise money. Which is great.
And most of them are perfectly normal, like a VIP "Tonight Show" experience or tickets to Alan Cumming's "Macbeth" with a chance to meet Cumming after the show. There are even two "Downton Abbey"-related auctions that sound like a lot of fun -- tea with Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) and lunch with Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle).
However, there is one "Downton" auction that has caught our eye ... and not in a good way.
The winner of the table-turning prize will read »
Previously On Warehouse 13.
“Yes, I named the fern ‘Leena.’ You got a problem with that?”
We start with Artie watering Still Dead Leena‘s plants, and unsuccessfully using reverse psychology to bully them into clinging to life. “Go ahead and wither away, you stupid … rhodoDEADron!”
Claudia and Steve witness the sad spectacle, but before they can delve deep into Artie’s botany psychosis, he orders them to England to investigate a possible artifact use. Two jockeys fell into comas while racing, with both bodies drained of adrenaline. They were riding longshot horses, but here’s the kicker – no one bet big on either horse.
Artie can’t come because Mrs. Fredric wants to talk to him about a “Regent issue.” Steve almost lets out a gay gasp and exclaims “Regent issue? What?” then remembers his involvement with spying on Artie is supposed to be on the downlow, and delivers an awesomely fake, »
Ben Miller will host the 17th TV Choice Awards in September and longlist voting has opened for the annual ceremony.
The TV Choice Awards 2013 will take place on September 9 at The Dorchester and fans have until June 14 to choose their favourite shows and stars.
Broadchurch actors David Tennant and Olivia Colman are expected to be among this year's shortlisted stars, while Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife and Scott & Bailey are favourites for the 'Best Drama' title.
TV Choice editor Jon Peake said: "The calibre of stars who walk the red carpet into our Awards every year shows that it's an event the TV industry loves and respects, knowing that it's the viewers who pick the winners.
"We are delighted to be gearing up for our 17th year of prize giving and another truly memorable night."
Fans can make their selections for who they want on the shortlist at www.tvchoicemagazine. »
All right class, it’s time for the next installment of Doctor Who: Doctors Revisited and this time we’re on to Peter Davidson, the fifth Doctor. Peter Davidson’s Doctor was completely enable to resist a cricket game and kept a piece of celery in his lapel to test chemicals in the air.
Take an in-depth look at the fifth incarnation of the truly timeless Time Lord, played by the youngest actor in the part until current Doctor Matt Smith debuted in 2010. With exclusive interviews with lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat, Tenth Doctor David Tennant, Season Six guest star Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), Fifth Doctor companions Sarah Sutton and Mark Strickson, and Davison himself, examining one of the most dramatic departures from the series to date and discussing the return of the two popular foes, the emotionless Cybermen and the ever-deceitful Master.
TV Spot: Doctor Who »
- Jess Orso
The series, set in the 1950's, follows Jenny Lee (elegantly played by Jessica Raine) as she embarks upon a new career as a midwife while living and working in East London. The show not only creates a vision of London so vivid you can smell the soot, but surrounds Jenny with a spectacularly well-rounded assemblage of women who share her passion for civil service.
ETonline caught up with Raine to talk about the show's massive popularity, the pressure of quality control and why, at the end of the day, all you need is love.
ETonline: The first season set the bar quite high in terms of powerful storytelling. How do you feel season two lived up?
Jessica Raine: Coming in, we knew we »
Charlie Rose will soon be helping you get your weekend started with a bang. Rose is expanding his presence on PBS with a new series, "Charlie Rose Weekend," to air Fridays at 8:30 p.m., starting in July. Also read: Apple Scoops PBS on 'Downton Abbey' Episodes, But PBS Is Cool With It The half-hour series will feature Rose focusing on the events and conversations shaping the week and the week ahead. Rose will draw on conversations from his nightly PBS program and new insightful perspectives from around the world on the new series, »
- Tim Kenneally
Drama is taking centerstage at this year’s L.A. Screenings.
Most of the big TV stories of the past season were about dramas old and new breaking out (to various degrees) — whether the CW’s “Arrow,” NBC’s “Revolution,” PBS’ “Downton Abbey,” AMC’s “The Walking Dead” or History miniseries “The Bible.” Networks both here and abroad are looking for ways to duplicate that success for themselves.
“The shows that work best internationally are episodic procedurals with interesting lead characters,” says Jeffrey Schlesinger, who last week was promoted to prexy of Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution.
That said, with more channels to fill, international buyers are just as interested in all different sorts of shows — from broad comedy to intense action — as domestic buyers. But the drama market looks particularly fertile.
Genre dramas remain popular this season, with networks picking up several series with sci-fi or fantastical premises.
- Paige Albiniak
20th Century Fox TV
Robin Williams’ biggest commitment to series television since the days of “Mork & Mindy” highlights a 20th TV slate that is deep, even if not necessarily brimming with international star appeal.
Williams is teaming with another recognizable face, Sarah Michelle Gellar, in the single-cam, father-daughter workplace comedy “The Crazy Ones,” from the pen of a scribe with no small amount of global cachet himself: David E. Kelley.
Kelley’s star Stateside hasn’t shined quite as brightly of late — “Harry’s Law” (NBC) lasted only two seasons, while “Monday Mornings” (TNT) didn’t make it past one, and half-hour isn’t exactly where the “Picket Fences” and “Ally McBeal” creator made his bones, but a series starring Williams in an accessible setting is filled with worldwide potential.
A slam dunk for interest is the limited-series return of Kiefer Sutherland in “24: Live Another Day.” The condensed format »
- Cynthia Littleton
So, The Simpsons Season 24 comes to close not with a bang, but a very long whimper.
Instead of the standard half-hour installment, the season concluded with an hour-long finale. The only problem was there really wasn't anything to connect the two stories
In fact, "The Saga of Carl; Dangers on a Train" were two separate episodes, so the question has to be asked: why? More than likely there was just one episode too many for this season, but honestly "The Saga of Carl" could have been dropped.
Beginning with the conceit of Homer, Lenny, Carl and Moe winning with Springfield lottery, the story took a weird turn. It's not that Carl taking the money was strange; although he was the least likely suspect for such a crime. In fact, Marge even mentioned that she would have expected that behavior from Moe or Homer or Lenny. No, the weirdness involved Carl's »
- email@example.com (Teresa Lopez)
Check out this hilarious new comedy sketch from Funny or Die featuring Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs not only talking about how much he loves Downton Abbey, but also reveals that he was actually the first black character on the show.
Downton Abbey announced the addition of a black character for the newest season of the show, they somehow forgot the first black character who has been on the show since the beginning.
This video had me busting up laughing, and I hope you enjoy it as well.
Downton Diddy from Sean Combs
- Joey Paur
Downton Diddy from Sean Combs
"Downton Abbey" has been the subject of countless parodies and spoofs -- but now both Funny or Die and "The Simpsons" have gotten involved.
After teasing the internet that he was a new cast member on "Downton," Sean "Diddy" Combs debuted the Funny or Die spoof of the show (above, warning about profanity). He says he's "proudly" an "Abbey"-head, though he keeps calling it "Downtown Abbey." Hee.
He also welcomes everyone to their first-ever "white party," which Diddy famously throws every year in the Hamptons. He seems to be fitting right in.
Below, "The Simpsons" offers up "Simpson Abbey," which is just a brief promo for the show. But fun nonetheless.
Still, for our money, no one can top "Downton Abbey" the musical.
The first pictures from 'Downton Abbey' series four have emerged online.
In the photos, taken on the set of the hit ITV period drama in Brampton, Oxfordshire, 'Downton's matriarch the Dowager Countess of Grantham (Dame Maggie Smith) can be seen visiting a graveyard.
She stands alongside Isobel Crawley (Penelope Wilton), near where the late Lady Sybil and Lady Mary's husband, Matthew Crawley, are buried.
The headstones of Jullian Fellowes' beloved characters, who both died in series three, feature in the pictures.
Jessica Brown Findlay recently told The Huffington Post UK she wasn't ready for the outpouring of grief that greeted the demise of her character Lady Sybil, who died in childbirth.
"The day Sybil died I was flying out to film in New York," she tells HuffPostUK. "Normally when you land somewhere, you get a couple of messages, but I had an onslaught from people saying, 'you could have warned me. »
- The Huffington Post UK
The pictures feature Smith (Dowager Countess) and Wilton (Isobel Crawley) shooting scenes in a graveyard in Bampton, Oxfordshire.
Downton will return for an eight-part fourth series and a Christmas special in the autumn on ITV.
It will air in the Us on PBS in the New Year.
The popularity of »
Having been a juror, I know the problem doesn't lie with Bafta – but with the way that British TV holds back non-white actors
Last Sunday saw the most successful television Baftas ever. An estimated 6.1 million tuned in to watch "us" congratulating … "us". However, some found cause to be disappointed rather than celebratory.
Lenny Henry's comments on how very obviously white this year's ceremony was met with an echo among those of us who notice these too-frequent omissions. "What's the matter with those people? What were the judges doing?" he asked. Good question.
Having had the privilege a few years ago to give Jimmy Nesbitt his best actor award and this year been a juror on the committee that went for Sheridan Smith in Mrs Biggs as best actress, I may be in a decent position to gauge where Bafta stands when it comes to diversity in its awards process »
- Paterson Joseph
Filming is rooted in deception, and we all know a guy who will regale us with gems of production hoodwinking; like the fact that Norma Desmond’s house in Sunset Boulevard (1950) was actually located on Wilshire Boulevard. My favourite—and one whose subtlety is lost in our product placement-drenched age—is the bit in Goldfinger (1964) when CIA agents, supposedly in Baltimore, mooch outside a Kentucky Fried Chicken. They filmed that scene in Miami, and English director Guy Hamilton (unaware Colonel Sanders’ nasty produce was a franchise) thought it was an extraordinary coincidence.
Britain, home to some of the world’s finest studios (Pinewood, Shepperton) and technical crews—otherwise solely occupied with Richard Curtis romantic comedies and Downton Abbey—is a natural haven for a shrewd Hollywood refugee. But you may still be surprised at some of the following visits to Limey shores.
- Hamish Crawford
The pavement in front of the Athenaeum gentlemen's club in Pall Mall is scattered with dirt and gravel, a horse and carriage is parked at the entrance and sophisticated ladies and gentlemen attired in Edwardian finery mill about, occasionally posing for photos at the behest of passing tourists. “Ooh, is it Downton Abbey that they're filming?” one excited passer-by inquires to a trio of costumed young women, who giggle in unison and reply in the negative. But the actor who's sprung from that series's stuffy parlours to become a fully-formed member of the global fame academy is close at hand for this Sunday morning shoot of period drama Summer in February. Dan Stevens is in the house. »
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