Sometimes it's the writing and dialogue that brings us in to TV shows. Other times, it's the actors themselves.
Dr. Gregory House: House, M.D.
Hugh Laurie imbued the anti-social House with more layers than the thickest onion. He also gave nearly every man out there an excuse to explain to their significant other why they hadn't shaved in three days: "Well, you love that Hugh Laurie scruff..."
Walter White: Breaking Bad
It's still hard to believe that Bryan Cranston, who has been a genius in showing the transformation in White from good to evil played the hapless dad on Malcolm in the Middle. His work during the last episodes of this show has been nothing short of a master class in acting. People are on the edge of their seat to see what happens with this druglord.
Tony Soprano: The Sopranos
Rest in peace, James Gandolfini. Your work as Tony Soprano was some of the best acting seen on TV. Your portrayal of the head of a Mafia cartel who juggles both business and home life was a mix of fury and pain (both personal and meting it out on others).
Omar: The Wire
One of the best characters on TV in the past decade, a thug with a strict code who also happened to lead a lifestyle that didn't mesh with his tough-guy exterior. It's a shame he went out like he did - shot in a convenience store.
Don Draper: Mad Men
Draper, a man who is not who he says he is, is played to perfection by Jon Hamm. It's a good thing Thomas Jane passed over the role. A philandering husband with no sense of loyalty would be hard to like, but the suave Madison Avenue ad man pulls it off. It's going to be interesting to see what happens to him during the final season.
Frank Pembleton: Homicide: Life On the Streets
Andre Braugher's work as Pembleton, a tortured man whose dedication to justice came at the expense of everything else was near perfect. His seething intensity in the interrogation room (aka "the box") was a sight to behold and Braugher was mesmerizing in every line he spoke. He brillantly handled his character having a stroke as well.
Dr. Mark Greene: ER
Anthony Edwards played Greene as the anti-House - a doctor who cared. He also showed how a doctor's personal life can spill over into his professional life, especially when he got attacked in the bathroom. His death from a brain tumor remains one of the saddest moments on any show.
Dana Scully: The X-Files
Gillian Anderson was much more than a pretty face to play alongside David Duchovny's Mulder. She had brains and skepticism to his almost childlike willingness to believe everything.
Dexter Morgan: Dexter
A sympathetic serial killer? Michael C. Hall is able to show someone devoid of real emotion as someone we can root for. It's too bad that this show's final season is also the same one as Breaking Bad.
Vic Mackey: The Shield
Michael Chiklis was far from The Commish when he portrayed this utterly corrupt cop that still had the tiniest shred of conscience buried inside of him despite everything. He first thought he was getting results, no matter what, but that soon spiraled into doing things like murdering a new member of your own squad and other things like that. Mackey lived life brutally.
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Someone alert Agent Mulder, Scully is back on the market! After a six-year-long relationship, X Files star Gillian Anderson has split from her boyfriend, Mark Griffiths. "Gillian Anderson and her partner Mark Griffiths have amicably separated after six years together," Anderson's rep told Us Weekly. While the couple never married, they have two sons together: Oscar, age five, and Felix, three.
Back in March, Anderson opened up to Out magazine about her young love life. "I was in a relationship with a girl for a long time when I was in high school," she said. Anderson speaks candidly and comfortably of her lesbian relationship, wary of making it a big deal. "If I had thought I was 100% gay, would it have been a different experience for me? ... It’s possible that my attitude around it came, on some level, from knowing that I still liked boys."
In the past decade, however, Anderson has been unlucky in love. She and her first husband, director Clyde Klotz, divorced in 1997. Then, after a two-year marriage, she split from her second husband Julian Ozanne in 2006.
Follow Abbey Stone on Twitter @abbeystone
[Photo Credit: WENN.com]
'X Files' Star Gillian Anderson: I've Had Lesbian Relationships
X Files writer gunning for a third box office installment
How do you end a great TV show? It’s a question as old as TV itself. You take a show that’s been on several years and has garnered a strong fan base, and the series finale’s caliber could determine how the entire series is remembered. Every fan has his or her own interpretation of how the end should come and as a writer; you have to try to at least appease everyone. With perennial fan favorite Chuck wrapping up this week, rather than give you guys the tried and tiresome “best finales ever,” I’d rather showcase the finales that for better or for worse have divided fans of the show for as long as they’ve been gone. Some of them we might have even changed our minds on over the years, and some will continue to confound for eternity.
Seinfeld, “The Finale;” May 14, 1998 In just nine years time – from 1989 to 1998 – Seinfeld went from a show that was, at best, a blip on the radar, to a cultural phenomenon. So, when Jerry Seinfeld announced that the ninth season would be the last, the actual shooting of the series’ last episode was overhyped to the Nth degree. Anyone who got the chance to attend the taping had to sign a confidentiality agreement. The media were shut out as well, and speculation as to how the “show about nothing” would end rose to a fever pitch. Would Jerry and Elaine finally realize they’re made for each other? Would George die? Would Kramer traverse the globe, “Kung-Fu” style? None of the above happened, and instead, what fans actually got was a clip show. Now, I love Seinfeld as much as the next guy, but the first time I saw the finale, I was slightly cheesed. I don’t think I need to summarize the events of how the fab four were put on trial, and a cavalcade of characters from the show’s history came back as witnesses for the prosecutors. Looking back, sadly there was really no other way to end the series that could have done it justice. Jerry and Elaine marrying? On a show that featured not one iota of sentimentality? Not going to happen. The last hour might not be Seinfeld’s best, but plenty of shows have found worse ways to end. Read on true believers. St. Elsewhere, “The Last One;” May 28, 1988 The characters and events that happened at St. Eligius Hospital during St. Elsewhere’s run helped forge the path of the hospital drama in years to come. In the early- to mid-eighties, plenty of some of today’s most respected actors and actresses strolled through the teaching hospital in Boston, most notably Ed Begley, Jr., Helen Hunt, Howie Mandel, and Denzel Washington. Yet, the series-ender is still one of the most argued about in TV history. Besides paying homage to other famous finales like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, M*A*S*H, and The Andy Griffith Show, in the final scene, the camera pulls back revealing snow falling on the hospital, and the scene changes to the son of Ed Flanders’ Dr. Donald Westphall: Tommy who has Autism. Tommy is playing with a snow globe when his dad, who now is wearing a construction uniform strolls into the room pondering what goes on inside Tommy’s head. Inside Tommy’s snow globe is a replica of St. Elgius. With that reveal, it has been debated ever since if the entire series took place inside the mind of a boy with Autism – I’d cue the Lost “whah” sound, but it’s about 18 years too soon…or is it?
The Sopranos, “Made in America;” June 10, 2007 If you want to talk about a divisive series finale, there aren’t many that get bolder and brasher than the finale of David Chase’s epic mob story. I am sure that millions of people inundated their cable providers with calls wondering if their cable went out, because there is no way a series that reinvigorated cable TV could end that abruptly. With Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” pumping and the members of the family, sans Meadow (who evidently cannot parallel park), sitting down to eat, the tension was rising to a crescendo and then – nothing. While the finale was a waste of everyone’s time, albeit a well-written waste of everyone’s time, the last few seasons were a waste of my time. With a mob war being teased for nearly two-and-a-half seasons that finally culminated in just one episode – the penultimate “Blue Comet” – we were privy to the nothing-out-of-the-ordinary-happened-in-the-life-of-Tony-Soprano kind of ending, which would have been acceptable if we got a better resolution to the DiMeo/Lupertazzi crime war. If you want the real end to The Sopranos, look no further than the trilogy of episodes that ended the fifth season: “The Test Dream,” “Long Term Parking,” and “All Due Respect.” These episodes recapped all of Tony’s fears that his cousin, Tony B., would spark a mob war; the emotional murder of Adrianna; and Tony finishing a job that he should have finished a long time ago. Even the final image of “All Due Respect” would have served as better lasting image than ten seconds of a black screen: Tony emerging from the woods unscathed. The X-Files, “The Truth, Parts 1 & 2;” May 19, 2002 Speaking of shows that overstayed their welcome, The X-Files was originally conceived as five- to six-season series that would culminate with a movie. But we all know that television is a big business and at the time, not many shows were bigger business than the conspiracy laden X-Files. And just like our first entry on this list, The X-Files ended with a trial. Fox Mulder was out on trial for the murder of Knowle Roher, but his guilt was impossible because Rohrer was transformed into an alien Super Soldier. Despite Scully’s autopsy, which concluded that the body was not Roher’s, Mulder is sentenced to death for the murder of a military officer. The story would conclude with Mulder’s escape and he and Scully fleeing to New Mexico to meet with the Cigarette Smoking Man, who details the end of society as we know it and the colonization of Earth, which will begin on Dec. 22, 2012 (mark your calendars people). The finale was more of a pilot for a series of movies than it was a fitting end for a show that many people considered revolutionary. It is credited with igniting the serial drama movement. Anyone who has dared to sit through the second X-Files film, I Want to Believe, knows whole-heartedly creator Chris Carter lost the controls of this train a long time ago, leaving fans scratching their heads, wondering if there will ever be a true conclusion to one of the best TV shows of all time. That '70s Show, “Love of My Life”/That 70’s Finale;” May 18th 2006 With stars Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher either gone completely or barely there, That '70s Show was forced to forge ahead without them in the eighth and final season, although Kutcher’s Kelso would make a few appearances. The finale season was pretty bad compared to the first seven; it was clear that Josh Meyers’ Randy Pearson was not a suitable replacement for series' star, Topher Grace. And the finale proved that deficiency, exemplified by the fact that Randy doesn’t even appear in Part Two of the episode. Like any show in which a main character leaves, the finale seams anticlimactic. The amount of the two-part episode that centered upon Eric’s return from Africa just proved how integral the character was to the lives of the other characters. It’s just too bad Eric’s return took place in the last five minutes of the show. As for the rest of the humdrum finale, Red and Kitty are contemplating moving to Florida, Jackie contemplates actually being with Fez, and – dare I say it – proverbial pothead Hyde contemplates giving up the grass. For a series so well-received to end so dully was just a crime and proof positive that money-be-damned, networks need to know when to end their series.
Roseanne, “Into That Good Night;” May 20, 1997 This finale was not just a head-scratcher of an episode capping off a head-scratcher of a season, but a horrible way to end nine seasons of a mostly great sitcom. Roseanne was a show that was hallowed as being a fairly realistic look at the lower middle-class way of life. While every other late eighties sitcom family was one of privilege, like the Huxtables (The Cosby Show), or just too damn perfect looking, like the Seavers (Growing Pains), the Conners were a family just like yours. They were struggling to pay bills, parent their children, lose excess weight, and deal with kids all jockeying for their favor while finding their own places in the world. The series was a stark contrast to the sitcoms of its time and often played more like a serial comedic drama than a sitcom. The ninth season was in conflict with everything Roseanne was about, and had plenty of outrageous and unrealistic moments due to the Conners winning the lottery. However, Dan’s affair and the heartwarming episode, “The Miracle,” in which Darlene’s baby is born, would serve as shots of realism that the show was known for. But by the time the series finale aired, we would all learn the truth: the entire series was a memoir that Roseanne Conner was writing about her life and she changed the parts that she didn’t like. The Conners had never won the lottery; Jackie was gay as opposed to her mother, Bev; Mark & Darlene and David & Becky were really the Conner-Healy couples. It was definitely a strange way to end a series, saying many of the things we knew to be true were either sort of true or not true at all. For that reason, “Into That Good Night” remains one of the oddest sitcom finales ever. Lost, “The End, Parts 1 & 2;” May 23, 2010 Way back in the first season of the new millennium’s first truly can’t-miss TV series, many fans had surmised that the Island was actually purgatory for our crash survivors. I bet those fans felt vindicated and cheated at the same time while watching “The End.” They may have felt vindicated because while they were wrong about the Island being purgatory, the “flash-sideways” world was a close second to their original hypothesis. They could have felt cheated because nearly every unanswered question was still left unanswered in favor of a more character-driven two and half-hour conclusion. For a series so hell-bent on piling on the questions its habit of deftly, if not sparingly, dishing out answers angered many fans – "The End" is no exception. So, here’s my theory on what happened: Creators J.J. Abrams, Carlton Cuse, and Damon Lindeloff had a grandiose vision for a series. Their TV series would incorporate all kinds of pop culture, literal, and biblical references. Then it dawned on them that concluding a series this saturated with mystery and mythology would not be able to be done in a way that could truly explain everything, and decided to focus more on the characters themselves than silly numbers, button pushing, Others, or Waaaaalt. Six Feet Under, “Everyone’s Waiting;” August 21, 2005 I know that this column is highlighting some of the most divisive series finales ever, but how could we not include a series finale that is hands-down, universally accepted as perfect. For five years, Six Feet Under was one of HBO’s if not all of TV’s boldest series, tackling the reality of death, amongst many other taboo subjects. With eldest son, Nate, dying at the end of the very excellent episode, “Ecotone,” the series would have to carry on without him for a few more episodes, although he would occasionally pop up in the minds of his family members. Even though it was the perfect way to end the series, “Everyone’s Waiting” was still a hard sell, every character dies at the end, and not in a Lost kind of way, they all actually bite the big one in a heartbreaking montage of life and death set to Sia’s equally moving song, “Breath Me.” Speaking of emotional, according to TVLine.com, Chuck’s creator, Josh Schwartz, predicts that there will be “very few dry eyes…I think every Chuck fan is going to be very satisfied,” when the series ends its five-season run on NBC tonight. Tonight may prove Schwartz right, and I hope everyone enjoys the finale. As always you can follow me on twitter @CouchForceOne.
By Monday morning, The Dark Knight (Warner Bros) will likely be the No. 1 movie of 2008. Even the rosiest of forecasts could not have anticipated that the Christopher Nolan-directed Batman Begins sequel would surpass Marvel’s Iron Man (Paramount) and Lucasfilm’s Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull (Paramount) in only 10 days, but it appears that the dark superhero/crime thriller hybrid will do just that.
After grabbing a remarkable $238.61M in its first seven days, easily besting the previous mark set by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (Disney) by $42.6M, The Dark Knight seized an estimated $25M on its second Friday. That makes for a new eight-day cume of $263.61M, $50M more than Pirates 2 generated in 8 days. That is almost 20 percent better than Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow sequel at the same point in its release.
None of the usual rules seem to apply to this comic book adaptation, but I am targeting $77M for this three-day weekend. If the number holds, The Dark Knight will have $315.61M banked by Monday morning, which should be just enough to push past Iron Man. Warner Bros has also taken firm hold of the No. 1 spot in studio market share with $883M or so. They are within $225M of Paramount, which will have sold $1.1 billion in tickets.
It once appeared that Paramount, with back-to-back-to-back $200M grossing movies, would easily be the No. 1 studio in 2008, but The Dark Knight’s outrageous success has made it a real horse-race. Paramount has sure-fire hits Tropic Thunder (8/15) and Madagascar 2 (11/7) still to come, while Warner Bros counters with Star Wars: The Clone Wars (8/15) and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (11/21). The race could come down to which studio can come up with another breakout hit. Maybe DJ Caruso’s re-teaming with Shia LaBeouf on Eagle Eye (Dreamworks/Paramount) performs like Disturbia. Or Ridley Scott’s House of Lies, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, can breakout like last year’s American Gangster (Universal)?
Will Ferrell and writer/director Adam McKay, who previously joined forces for Anchorman and Talladega Nights, have scored again. Step Brothers (Sony), the generally well-reviewed R-rated comedy, has scored a very strong $11.5M on Friday. That should translate to an estimated $32.2M for its opening weekend and a solid No. 2 finish. It also marks the all-time third-best opening for the former Saturday Night Live star Ferrell , trailing only Talladega Nights ($47M) and Blades of Glory ($33M).
Mamma Mia! (Universal) is proving to be sturdy in its second weekend. The ABBA-inspired Broadway adaptation has females 25+ singing in the aisles with an estimated $5.75M on Friday. Meryl Streep’s first movie musical should finish with $17.6M in the frame for a 10-day cume of $62.44M. This picture will have no trouble pushing past $100M.
The re-boot of Chris Carter’s The X-Files has stumbled out of the gate with an estimated $5M on opening day. The hit TV series wrapped up its television run in 2002, but the show enjoyed its best ratings in 1998. There have long been questions about how relevant Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) would be among Under 25 moviegoers, and the Fox marketing folks have done everything they could to lure a new generation of fans. In the final analysis, The X-Files: I Want To Believe will manage only $12M or so for its opening three days.
Will Smith’s Hancock (Sony) is holding very strong with No. 5 picking up $2.5M on Friday for a new cume of $200.67M. The three-day should be an estimated $7.7M, and the Peter Berg-directed superhero flick should finish as one of the top five grossing movies of the summer.
EARLY THREE-DAY ESTIMATES
1. The Dark Knight (Warner Bros) - $77.4M, $17,728 PTA, $316M cume
2. Step Brothers (Sony) - $32.2M, $10,407 PTA, $32.2M cume
3. Mamma Mia! (Universal) - $17.6M, $5,888 PTA, $62.4M
4. The X-Files: I Want To Believe (Fox) - $12M, $3,768 PTA, $12M cume
5. Hancock (Sony) - $7.7M, $2,327 PTA, $205.87M cume
6. Journey to the Center of the Earth (Warner Bros) - $6.45M, $2,402 PTA, $57.22M cume
7. WALL-E (Disney) - $5.58M, $1,834 PTA, $194.47M cume
8. Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Universal) - $5.05M, $1,678 PTA, $66M cume
9. Space Chimps (Fox) - $3.73M, $1,473 PTA, $15.36M cume
10. Wanted (Universal) - $2.72M, $1,547 PTA, $128.6M cume
There is no question about which film will be No. 1 at America’s multiplexes this weekend. The Dark Knight (Warner Bros) is posting unprecedented weekday grosses with $24.5M on Monday and $20.9M Tuesday, and it will easily win the upcoming three-day. The question is, “How much of a drop will the Christopher Nolan-directed crime thriller/superhero hybrid suffer on its second weekend?”
To answer the question, let’s look at the second weekend drops for the other 11 movies that have grossed $100M so far in 2008.
PERCENTAGE DROPS FOR 2008’S 11 $100M GROSSING MOVIES
1. Kung Fu Panda – 44%
2. Horton Hears A Who – 45%
3. Iron Man – 48%
4. Get Smart – 48%
5. Hancock – 49%
6. WALL-E – 49%
7. Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull – 55%
8. Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian – 59%
9. The Incredible Hulk – 60%
10. Wanted – 61%
11. Sex and the City – 62%
Can it manage a drop of just 50 percent? That would give it a spectacular $79M weekend, and it would soar past the $300M mark in just 10 days, easily topping the previous all-time best 10-day performance of $258.36M for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. I am predicting $70M-$80M as the box office records continue to fall.
Two new films roll out this Friday. The Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly R-rated comedy Step Brothers (Sony) has improved dramatically in industry tracking, and I am revising my prediction from $17M-$22M to $27M-$32M.
That would be Will Ferrell’s best R-rated opening surpassing Old School ($17.45M) and this year’s pro hoops-inspired comedy Semi-Pro ($15M). That would also best Ferrell’s previous teaming with director Adam McKay, 2004’s Anchorman, which opened to $28.41M. In fact, Step Brothers could become the second best opening of Ferrell’s career trailing only Talladega Nights ($47M).
Meanwhile, it is likely to be another tough weekend for Fox. Following up on Meet Dave’s $5.25M opening (reported $60M budget) and Space Chimps’ $7.2M opening, the studio is making a bet on a big budget sequel for the long dormant The X-Files.
I was a huge fan of the TV show, which enjoyed its ratings peak in 1998. The feature film The X-Files: Fight The Future managed an opening just over $30M in 1998 on its way to about $84M domestic. The film seemed to take some “steam” out of the TV series, and, by the time it left the airwaves in 2002, its two-hour finale finished only third in its time-slot.
How many core Under 25 moviegoers remember or even know who Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) are? According to industry tracking, not enough to make I Want To Believe a hit of any significance. The best case scenario for this re-boot of The X-Files seems to be $15M-$20M on opening weekend. That would be a real disappointment.
FINAL PREDICTIONS FOR THE WEEKEND OF JULY 25
1. The Dark Knight (Warner Bros) - $75M
2. Step Brothers (Sony) - $31M
3. The X-Files (Fox) - $17M
4. Mamma Mia! (Universal) - $16.7M
5. Journey to the Center of the Earth (Warner Bros) - $7.7M
6. Hancock (Sony) - $7.5M
7. WALL-E (Disney) - $5.7M
8. Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Universal) - $5.5M
9. Space Chimps (Fox) - $4.3M
10. Wanted (Universal) - $2.5M