For Emmy-nominee Henry Ian Cusick, it’s difficult being immortalized for just one role and possibly just one line.
Spanning six seasons, Cusick was everyone’s favorite “brotha” portraying the love-sick Desmond on ABC's Sci-fi phenom Lost. But with critical acclaim and widespread viewer appreciation, comes a bit of type casting. So, what did Cusick do? After securing eternal love between Desmond and Penny, he completely flipped the script and has become the womanizing Stephen Finch on ABC’s newest political drama Scandal.
As Kerry Washington’s right-hand man, Cusick is the farthest thing from a love-drunk puppy. In fact, Stephen has dabbled in prostitution, makes no apologies about it and will continue to shock viewers with sins that would have Desmond running for the hills (or into the jungle). Stephen is far more “smoke monster” than good guy here.
“When I left Lost ... I read the pilot [for Scandal], I really liked it and there was a line in it that for me was the hook,” he said. “When I say to Olivia in the cloakroom, 'I’m not a good guy.' That was something I could get my teeth into.”
Playing a character that was the opposite of his Lost claim to fame was exactly what he craved — no “Dharma Initiative.” “They are so not the same character,” he said. “Desmond was like a rock, he was this incredibly good guy, a guy that doesn’t really exist.”
Even though Desmond was such a great character to play, so great he got nominated for an Emmy in 2006, Cusick said dissecting just one purpose of getting back to his long-lost love didn’t open the character up to much complexity.
There’s more layers to his new role and with Stephen, he gets to explore the dimensions of a real bad boy, someone without true love as a moral compass. Cusick went all the way with this role, even chopping off those luscious brown locks of gorgeous hair the world grew to love in his days on the island.
Why the visit to the barber? “I know, I’m like, ‘I shouldn’t have done that!’” he joked. “It’s always good to mix it up. The thing about being on a show like Lost for such a long time is that people come to associate you with Desmond. They don’t say Ian or Henry, they say Desmond.” Now he’s looking for fans to say Stephen.
Even while looking forward to a change of pace, Ian still looks back on Lost with nothing but fond memories and that conversation starter of a final episode. “Just after it ended, people came up to me in the market saying how much they loved it,” he said of the Lost finale. “I also have the negative side, people think ‘Man, you ruined the show, why did they do that?’ It was very contentious. How do you end the show to make everyone [happy]?” he said. Cusick thought the finale was in many ways a beautiful ending but did say there could have been a little more closure to characters aside from Jack. “We could have done with some more episodes just to have the other characters get to their endings,” he said. If Lost fans miss Cusick on the sci-fi circuit, no sweat. He’s bringing his magic to cult favorite Fringe.He’s set to appear as an agent at the tail end of this season, in who knows what world at this point. His character sets the stage for Season Five, if the execs at Fox deem another season worthy.“Fingers crossed,” he said. “It’s similar to Lost in that it’s very high stakes. It was great working with John Noble and Joe Chappelle ... It reminded me of Lost.” Scandal airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. EST on ABC Were you a Desmond Hume fan? Do you like Ian as Desmond or Stephen better? Are you excited for Cusick’s cameo on Fringe? Let us know in the comments section below.
More: Scandal Star Henry Ian Cusick: How Powerful is a Lost Alum? ABC's Scandal Review
Seven days, seven chances to attain sweet, sweet television nirvana. In this week's Best of Seven, we give you every excuse to sit on the couch and veg out while you patiently await the Friday opening of director Christopher Nolan's much-anticipated (and already critically-praised) Inception - this summer's Twilight: Eclipse for adults and other people with brains.
7PM-9PM: Tosh.0, Comedy Central. Comedian Daniel Tosh's sarcasm-laden celebration of viral videos, YouTube celebrities, and other pop-culture ephemera has become one of the highest-rated shows in its time slot, reportedly nabbing almost 2.5 million viewers last week, surpassing both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's ratings. It's America's Funniest Home Videos for the Twitter generation, and it's not too late to jump on the bandwagon: you can catch four Tosh.0 episodes in a row Monday night, right before another 2-hour block (9PM-11PM) of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (including the hilarious two-part 'The Gang Gets Whacked' episode and 'Dennis Looks Like a Registered Sex Offender').
8PM: Ratatouille, Disney Channel. If gross-out humor (Tosh.0 and It's Always Sunny) isn't your thing, enjoy Disney/Pixar's charming 2007 computer-animated story of a rat who dreams of cooking in a Parisian restaurant. Won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
8:30PM: R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet, IFC. Did you know that singer-songwriter R. Kelly wrote a heartbreaking, 22-part rock-opera in 2005 and 2007, about the perils of one-night stands and the difficulties of keeping it real? Well, he did, and it's sort of kind of brilliant in it's own bizarre way. Start watching this and I guarantee you'll find yourself weirdly mesmerized by R. Kelly's operatic tale, much of which takes place in a closet, natch.
10PM: Curb Your Enthusiasm, TV Guide Channel. In 'The Shrimp Incident,' Larry David (Seinfeld creator Larry David) suspects that HBO executive Allan Wasserman has stolen some shrimp out of his Chinese food.
6PM - Midnight: This is not an endorsement, but if you're interested, apparently the Discovery Health channel has all baby-related programming for a whole six-hour block. Seriously. Hour after hour of Big Babies, and I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant, and so on. A bit of research revealed that this is not, in fact, a singular phenomenon, but a relatively frequent occurrence on Discovery Health and TLC (this Wednesday). Who on Earth is watching this much baby-based programming? Possibly the same people who are watching Say Yes to the Dress in four hour blocks.
8PM: Chappelle's Show, Comedy Central. 2 episodes chock-full of Dave Chappelle's signature combination of wit, gross-out humor, and biting social commentary back-to-back.
8PM: The Departed, FX. Director Martin Scorsese directs the hell out of this South-Boston set tale of one cop's questionable loyalties (Matt Damon) and another's blurring identity (Leonardo DiCaprio), centered around an organized crime gang led by Jack Nicholson. Inspired by the popular 2002 Hong Kong crime film Infernal Affairs. Won four Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Picture.
6:25: Annie Hall, IFC. By far one of Woody Allen's best films, this 1977 comedy-drama stars the writer-director and Diane Keaton. The Best Picture winner follows the ups and downs of a long-term relationship between two mismatched New York neurotics.
9PM: Futurama, Comedy Central. A 3-hour Futurama comedy block!
11PM: Weird Science, VH1. The former music - now 80s nostalgia channel is airing the thoroughly odd (seriously, watch this movie while actually thinking about what is going on - notice the subtle racism and perverse sexual themes) 1985 John Hughes flick. Two high-school nerds computer-generate a hot babe to teach them how to meet girls, as well as have uncomfortable three-person showers. With Anthony Michael Hall.
6PM: Law and Order, TNT. Law and Order may be over, but it will be in syndication forever. Remember the halcyon days with a classic episode from 2004. In 'Fixed,' Fontana and Green reluctantly investigate after a motorist strikes a child-murderer and leaves him for dead, and the evidence they uncover leads McCoy to a startling discovery.
11PM: The Glades, A&E. The pilot episode of A&E's new Florida-based crime drama The Glades re-airs at 11, if you missed the original premiere. The LA Times calls it "an accomplished if occasionally vexing affair," so take that as you will.
Other: Inception comes out tonight!
6PM: Avoid watching the HBO special 'Inception: HBO First Look.' Don't watch it! You won't want any spoilers when you enjoy Inception yourself, for the first or second time, on Saturday night. There is nothing else on TV tonight. Don't even look. Just go watch this movie.
Sunday nights are the reason to buy HBO, plain and simple.
9PM: True Blood, HBO. Alcide and Sookie (Anna Paquin) turn to a packmaster for advice on wow to deal with Russell's minions; Tara considers a proposal from Ranklin; Joe Lee breaks his promise to Sam and Tommy; Jason meets a mysterious girl; an heirloom reminds Eric of his past.
10PM: Hung, HBO. Ray tries to prove to Darby and Damon that he is not an insensitive ex-jock; Tanya turns to Charlie for advice; Jessica feels the pinch of the economic downturn.
10:30PM: Entourage, HBO. Eric and Phil try to convince Drama that he has talent on the sitcom front; Ari (Jeremy Piven) resists Barbara's urgings to have Lizzie promoted; Turtle is intrigued by a business proposal from Alex; Scott Lavin continues to ingratiate himself with Vince.
More than 10 000 people are smuggled into the United States for sexual exploitation per the nonprofit organization Free the Slaves. Inspired by a New York Times Magazine article Trade focuses on the attempts of traffickers to smuggle a group of women and children across the U.S.-Mexican border. Director Marco Kreuzpaintner wastes no time introducing us to the two victims he intends to follow from their kidnapping in Mexico to their auctioning off in the United States. Adriana (Paulina Gaitan) is snatched from the street as she rides the bicycle she just received from her brother Jorge (Cesar Ramos) for her 13th birthday. Single mother Veronica (Alicja Bachleda) arrives in Mexico City from Poland believing she’s there to meet with the people she’s paid to arrange her with safe and legal passage to the United States. Only she’s been duped by the traffickers. Adriana Veronica and a handful of other abductees then begin their terrifying journey to the United States under the watchful eye of trafficker Manuelo (Marco Perez). On their trail is Jorge who feels responsible for Adriana’s kidnapping. He risks life and limb to follow the abductees across the border. Once on U.S. soil Jorge crosses paths with Ray (Kevin Kline) a Texas cop who’s trying to break up the trafficking ring for personal reasons. Ray reluctantly pairs up with Jorge to track down Adriana before she and Veronica are sold off to the highest bidder via the Internet. More gentleman than action hero Kevin Kline’s not the obvious choice to portray a police officer hailing from the Lone Star State. Ray’s the kind of law-enforcement bloodhound Tommy Lee Jones can play in his sleep. Heck Kline only halfheartedly attempts a Texas drawl and even then he drops it minutes after his late entrance. This could be overlooked if Kline lent Ray some intensity. For someone on a crusade Kline strolls through Trade without a care in the world. As Trade reaches its inevitable showdown between the traffickers and their pursuers Ray’s faced with a life-or-death choice that would compromise all he stands for. Kline though looks about as conflicted as someone trying to decide what he wants for lunch. Luckily Kline’s presence doesn’t negate the fine work done by Ramos Gaitan and Bachleda. Ramos perfectly captures the guilt of a troubled young man—one embarking on a life of crime—whose ill-gotten gains has cost him dearly. If Ramos offers a study in redemption Bachleda goes to great pains to show the ease with which someone with so much grit and determination can bend and break under the most extreme of circumstances. Gaitan doesn’t endure as much abuse but she’s still one tough cookie. Perez refuses to allow Manuelo to be a mere profit-minded monster—he provides Manuelo with a conscience or what passes for one in his business. Trade is a tale of two countries. While in Mexico director Marco Kreuzpaintner examines the sex-slave trade in an incisive and uncompromising manner. He sheds light on how these trafficking rings acquire their slaves and smuggle them across the border. He puts us on edge the moment Adriana and Veronica fall in their captors’ hands. We’re never sure as to what will happen to them. We know they need to be kept alive. But in what condition? Many of the abductees are drugged beaten and raped. The violence isn’t exploitative—Kreuzpaintner just needs to show the cruelty inflicted upon these victims of the modern-day slave trade. And it only makes us fear more for Adrian and Veronica’s safety. Once Trade reaches the United States Kreuzpaintner and screenwriter Jose Rivera start pulling their punches. Yes there are some moments that make you sick to your stomach. But the moment Kline arrives on the scene Trade gets weak at the knees. There are too many coincidences for Trade’s own good. The sudden death of one character is forced and absurd. And Kreuzpaintner doesn’t know how to extricate Kline from the untenable situation he’s placed in during Trade’s climax. This all leads up to a pat ending one that even the Lifetime TV crowd would find unbelievably spineless.
Chappelle's $50 million richer
Comedy Central's hot commodity Dave Chappelle inked a massive deal with the Viacom-owned cabler for two more seasons of his hit series Chappelle's Show. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the deal could be worth about $50 million, catapulting Chappelle, 30, into television's top earners. He'll be paid approximately $5 million per episode with a 10-episode commitment per season, will have a chance to profit from the show's DVD sales, and has set up a multimillion-dollar deal with Viacom's Paramount Pictures to star in features include an adaptation of the autobiography of Rick James, the funk veteran whom Chappelle has lampooned on his show. The ratings for Chappelle's Show have been high and have also helped to boost other longtime staples including The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and South Park."Life without Chappelle's Show would not have been very bright as far as getting or exceeding those numbers again," said Lauren Corrao, senior VP of original programming and head of development, told the Reporter. "It means a great deal to growing our schedule. We're thrilled to have him back."
MTV Music Video Awards adds more to its celeb roster
Dave Chappelle is also making an appearance at the 21st annual MTV Music Video Awards, joining other celebs including Paris Hilton, Lenny Kravitz, Ludacris, LL Cool J, Jon Stewart and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, The Associated Press reports. MTV announced that hip-hop artists Lil' Jon, Petey Pablo, the Ying Yang Twins and Terror Squad featuring Fat Joe will perform, along with Usher, Kanye West, Yellowcard, Jet, Hoobastank and Jessica Simpson. The show will air live Aug. 29 in Miami, Fla. Jay-Z's jarring video for "99 Problems," which depicts his own murder as a metaphor for his retirement from rapping, leads with six nominations. Beyonce, No Doubt and OutKast received five nominations each.
VH1 to air Jackson movie
VH1 will debut its original movie on beleaguered pop star Michael Jackson Friday, AP reports. Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story traces the trials and tribulations of Jackson's life from his Motown days to his present legal woes, starring UPN's One on One's Flex Alexander as the King of Pop, who performed all the dance moves.
Franken brings radio show to cable TV
Liberal political humorist Al Franken is headed back to television next month with plans to bring his radio show to the Sundance cable TV channel, a spokesman told Reuters on Monday. Starting Sept. 7, Sundance will package the best of Franken's three-hour weekday radio program into a one-hour telecast of highlights that will air at 11:30 p.m. the same night, with repeats at 2:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. the next morning. His radio show debuted on March 31 as part of the fledgling Air America radio network, billed as a liberal antidote to the predominantly right-leaning talk-show culture whose ranks include Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly.
Chris Rock releases first album in five years
Funnyman Chris Rock is preparing to release Never Scared, his first album since 1999's Bigger and Blacker, Reuters reports. The album, due Aug. 31 through Geffen, features material from his HBO special of the same name as well as a handful of music parodies and new comedy sketches including a parody of OutKast's hit "Hey Ya!" dubbed "Crackers." The album will also include a DVD with behind-the-scenes footage from the HBO special. Rock, who has been on hiatus from film for the past two years, will be heard in the 2005 animated feature Madagascar and is set to star in the remake of the football-themed The Longest Yard starring Adam Sandler and rapper Nelly.
Schwarzenegger settles bobblehead doll dispute
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has settled a lawsuit against Ohio Discount Merchandise Inc., the company that produces bobblehead dolls featuring a gun-toting Schwarzenegger in a business suit. Under the new agreement, the company can produce dolls, priced at $19.99, but without the gun. Ohio Discount also agreed to donate a portion of sales to Schwarzenegger's nonprofit Arnold All-Stars after-school program in Los Angeles, the AP reports. But Ohio Discount's co-owner, John Edgell, said he opposes the settlement and plans to seek an injunction. His partner Todd Bosley said he severed ties with Edgell when he sought offers for a "Groping Arnold" bobblehead, after accusations surfaced that said Schwarzenegger had groped several women during his years in Hollywood.
Valenti comments on Hollywood's changing landscape
Jack Valenti, who announced in June he was stepping down as MPAA president and CEO after nearly four decades, said in an opinion column in Monday's Los Angeles Times that his greatest achievement as head of the Motion Picture Association of America was that he survived. "To endure in a volatile, unpredictable arena populated by egos the size of small planets is not an inconsiderable achievement," Valenti, 82, wrote. Valenti also noted the vast changes in Hollywood during his 38-year tenure, including huge increases in production and marketing costs; reliance on make-or-break opening weekends; the explosion of the DVD market; and the piracy risk digital cinema presents. Dan Glickman, the former U.S. agriculture secretary under President Clinton, takes over as MPAA chief Sept. 1, while Valenti will continue to oversee the movie ratings system.
Green Day hits the road
Green Day will be touring in support of their new album, American Idiot, due Sept. 21 via Reprise, Reuters reports. The routing for the tour is not yet finalized, but is expected to get underway Oct. 19 in Ft. Worth, Texas, with rock act New Found Glory and up-and-coming rock outfit Sugarcult in tow. American Idiot is the follow-up to 2000's Warning, which debuted at No. 4 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 1 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Before the fall tour, Green Day will perform American Idiot in full at a handful of dates closer to the album's release.
Guylaine Cadorette contributed to this report.