It's sort of ironic that the documentaries are the stars of the Sundance Film Festival but, because there are no real stars in them, they usually go ignored by the public at large. Here is a round up of some of the best that we saw during this year's festival. They probably won't be coming to a theater near you, but all of them are worth hunting down. Here are our picks for the ones you have to watch out for:
Twenty Feet from Stardom: Back Up Singers Finally Get the Spotlight
We all know the oohs and aahs that accompany our favorite songs, but most of us don't give a second thought to the background vocalists who provided them. Finally legends like Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, and Lisa Fischer get their due for adding all the flavor on every song from "Gimme Shelter" to "The Monster Mash," and naturally interviews with stars like Mick Jagger and Sting abound. But really this is a brooding take on talent, fame, and the desire to use one to get to the other. Each of their stories is one of struggle, but when they finally get to sing, everything else just falls away. This is a heart-rending crowd pleaser that every music fan should see. – Brian Moylan
After Tiller: Taking the Abortion Debate to a Whole New Level
In 2009, Dr. George Tiller was shot twice in the chest while attending church. Tiller was the leading advocate for third-trimester abortions, a highly protested practice that only a few people in the country — all of whom studied under the late doctor — dare to practice. After Tiller follows these men and women, who struggle with deciding which patients to bring on all while knowing they could be murdered just like their mentor. The documentary thoroughly examines the moral complexity of third-trimester abortions and paints subjects as possessing a unique type of bravery. At screenings, Sundance added extra security after receiving threats from protests groups. This is not an issue that lives only on the movie screen. - Matt Patches
The Summit: A Horrifying Climbing Documentary Comes Out on Top
It's not very often that a documentary makes you so unsettled that you feel like you're not going to be able to make it through to the end, but hat is just what happens in this Irish documentary about the most deadly expedition to climb K2, the world's second tallest mountain. Told with original footage and recreation, the scenes of people falling off the mountain and surviving avalanches is enough to give you vertigo, and the stories of human loss and survival will take an even bigger toll. – Moylan
Valentine Road: A School Slaying Guaranteed to Break Your Heart
Many people know the story of Larry King, the eighth grader who was shot by a classmate for being gay and wearing women's clothing to school. This documentary looks at Larry's life and the life of his killer, Brandon McInerney, as well as their teachers, classmates, lawyers, families, and friends to get a complete picture of what caused the murder and the toll it took on everyone involved. It's the sort of story that will make you cry from start to finish and question everything you thought you knew about justice. – Moylan
Dirty Wars: What Is Our Military Really Up To?
When President Obama announced that we had taken out Osama bin Laden, the Joint Special Operations Command became a well known military entity, praised for their contribution to the War on Terror. Before that, JSOC carried out covert assassinations and drone strikes against world citizens deemed "potentially dangerous." Dirty Wars puts investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill on a high pedestal as he traverses the world, uncovering JSOC's shrouded operations, but only because the facts he finds are so shocking. The documentary doesn't hesitate to point fingers at Obama and military figureheads in its damning examination our loose, post-9/11 rules of doing business in the Middle East. - Patches
The World According to Dick Cheney: Feeling a Little Bad for George H.W. Bush
After his eight-year run as Vice President of the United States alongside Bush Jr., even Dick Cheney's supporters were distancing themselves from the legendary politco. Through a biting one-on-one interview with the former VP, Director R.J. Cutler (The September Issue) constructs a comprehensive talking heads biography that reveals the ups and downs of Cheney's career. From alcoholism to beting booted from Yale to his amazing recruitment into the offices of Nixon and Gerald Ford, Cutler's The World According to Dick Cheney reveals the ambitious, cunning side of Cheney that helped him rise to the top and become the most influential ear-whisperer of the 21st century. Wherever you stand on the two-terms of Bush/Cheney, your opinions will be complicated by Cutler's informative doc. - Patches
Sound City: Dave Grohl's Rock Doc Makes Lots of Noise
Anyone who is anyone with a guitar and a drum kit recorded at Sound City, a famous recording studio on the outskirts of LA. Everyone from Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks to Nirvana and Rick Springfield. This is the story of the studio's rise and eventual closing which is a fascinating slice of rock history. The last act slows down considerably as direct Dave Grohl (of Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, you idiot) talks about saving the recording equipment from the studio and getting together Trent Reznor, Paul McCartney, Nicks, and others to record new songs on the old technology. – Moylan
Stories We Tell: A Heartbreaking Family Saga Like Nothing You've Ever Seen
There isn't really a category for director Sarah Polley's story of her family. Five years in the making, she interviewed her siblings and father about her mother's death from cancer when she was only 10 years old. It seems like it would be some awful narcissistic exploration, but thanks to the secrets her mother left behind, which are deftly revealed to the audience, it's a nail biter about the lies we tell to each other and the stories we tell that shape who we are.
Life According to Sam: A Real Life 'Jack' Won't Let Disease Keep Him Down
Out of the entire world population, approximately 250 people have Progeria. The disease accelerates aging, turning normal 14-year-old kids into 74-year-olds. There is no cure or even a treatment. When Leslie and Scott Berns discovered their son Sam had Progeria, they turned to doctors for help. The medical world came back empty handed. Instead of waiting for their child to die, the two sprung into action, starting the first research and testing initiative to find answers for Progeria. HBO's Life According to Sam manages to inspire in two distinct ways: Leslie's on-going quest to save both her son and the Progeria patients around the world through FDA approved drugs, and Sam's own existence, a battle to ignore his disease and live a normal middle schooler life. Both story lines will bring tears (of joy) to your eyes. - Patches
Who Is Dayani Crystal?: Humanizing America's Immigration Problem
The answer to the question of the title is revealed pretty quickly as co-director Gael García Bernal reenacts the journey that a Hondouran immigrant made through the Arizona desert to try to make it to the U.S. This is spliced together with the American authorities trying to determine the indentity of his body after it is found under a tree in the desert and his family remembering his life and his desire to get to America to make money from his family. Scattered and slow and not quite sure what it wants to be, the documentary sets out to put a face to the immigrants that come to this country and it achieves that goal spectacularly. – Moylan
99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film: They're Not So Aimless After All
We went in depth to the riveting, crowdsourced documentary earlier this week, but the film's shocking imagery and call-to-arms message continues to haunt our memories. Interviewing everyone from OWS members to political analysts to struggling citizens of the United States completely removed from the protest movement, 99% digs to deep to find the true message of Occupy and put naysayers to rest. - Patches
Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer: Russia's Most Famous Band Goes on Trial
Anyone who followed the story of Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist activist punk band that was imprisoned for performing in a Moscow church, will know just about everything already in this film. While it delves into the case and the fascinating politics that spurned it more deeply than the average news article, it doesn't offer any synthesis or observation beyond the factual. It's a good story but this documentary doesn't quite achieve greatness. – MoylanKink: A Walk on Porn's Wild Side
If you don't know what it is, don't go searching Kink.com right now. Wait until you're alone or at a computer where no one will mind that you're looking at porn. This look inside the world's leading purveyor of dominant/submissive and sadio/masochistic porn is sexually graphic, but is at its best when it's showing you that it is an average work place just like any other, but with a bunch of absurd problems that no one else would experience at their jobs. It's about 30 minutes too long (and only a 90 minute film) but if it were trimmed down for HBO (after midnight, of course) it would be a thrilling and titillating slice of life that many are curious about but few get to see. – Moylan
[Photo Credit: Cutler Productions]
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
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When we last left that five-headed cyst of cacophonous narcissism regularly found occupying the subterranean rat’s nest known as MacLaren’s Pub, it had undertaken one of its biggest, albeit least surprising (and certainly not any less toxic than its usual efforts) endeavors: two of its tendrils — namely, the spindly albino not weighed down by the irons of conscience (“Barney”) and the callous vat of black bile (“Robin”) had gotten engaged. Cheers all around.
In fact, as one might surmise, cheers would not resonate from all corners of the bar-set pentagon: Ted was, whether he could admit it or not, miserable.
Picking up just a week or so following Barney’s proposal, the latest episode of How I Met Your Mother delves into the emotional turmoil enveloping overgrown child Ted in the wake of his best friend’s engagement to the so-called girl of his dreams. Feigning support by manhandling the wedding plans, Ted is insistent on date, venue, and above all else, the employ of a deejay. He is vehemently anti band. The reasons for this are hardly comprehensible, but they have something to do with his still being in love with Robin. For whatever reason, Ted has assigned himself the allegorical symbol of deejay and Barney that of band.
It is only with Lily’s help that Ted is able to admit his straggling feelings for Robin and resultant animosity for Barney. And in trade for Ted’s admission, Lily reveals her own “dark secret”: the occasional resentment of her new motherhood and sporadic desire to run out on Marshall and Baby Marvin in the middle of the night. Although her words are treated with the severity of an appalling explosion, what Lily admits is hardly anything that any new parent — the most loving new parents included — wouldn’t be able to relate to. Having a baby is difficult, especially when you and your spouse are already working fulltime jobs. Her every-so-often craving for something more — for a respite from the madness, for a return to her artistic passions — is not only understandable, it’s far more understandable than the alternative of just slipping complacently into this arduous new lifestyle. Unless the show is gearing up for another Lily-runs-off storyline like we saw back in the early years, this “Holy cow!” revelation isn’t really worth the muster of its musical sting.
Ted, under Lily’s guidance, keeps a lid on his own feelings. And although none of this is anything we haven’t seen before (Ted pining for Robin, silently and otherwise), a flash forward epilogue lands Ted on the subway beside an alleged ex-girlfriend — now a lesbian — who, the wake of Robin and Barney’s wedding band canceling at the last minute, sets Ted up with a new band in the knick of time. A band that saves the day. And a band that, somehow, plays catalyst in his meeting of — who?! — the mother.
Now, a hint is dropped that T.M. is actually a member of said band, but we don’t know this for certain (this show loves to dabble in trickery). We’ll have to see exactly how the musical troupe comes into play in the union of the future Mosbys come springtime. For now, we can rest easy with at least one more stone paved in the path toward the long awaited answer.
Meanwhile, paradise has not yet taken hold of Robin and Barney. Before their relationship can truly incept, Barney must earn permission to wed Robin from her terrifying father, Robin Sr., before she can comfortably ease into their engagement. But in addition to being a bear-murdering, emotionally abusive loon, Robin’s dad is now also a Hawaiian-shirt wearing kook with a new lady friend whom Robin has never even heard of. In fact, in approaching her dad for his blessing on Barney’s proposal, Robin learns that he now lives in New York City and is, in fact, married to this mystery woman.
The revelation relieves Robin of any approval she once sought from her father. Understanding just how little he seems to want her in his life, she decides to deal him the same fate, informing him that he no longer has the right to grant or deny Barney “permission” to marry her, nor is he welcome at their wedding. But Barney (after a tearful refusal to shoot a rabbit, as demanded by Mr. Scherbatsky to earn his respect), manages to bring father and daughter together, mending their relationship just enough to provoke an apology from him and earn his presence at their big day. It is a deed that proves just how much Barney cares for Robin — to her, to her father, and to Ted, allowing him to happily give his own blessing to the pair. He’ll be fine in due time. Remember? The flash forward? The band? The mother? Soon, young ones. Soon.
[Photo Credit: CBS]
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With the surge of comedy series that challenge the comfortable definition of a traditional sitcom (see: Louie, Girls, and even Community), the field of TV sitcoms is widening. And whenever we experience the expansion of a genre, the question that's bound to follow is one the delves into the future. What better time than now to contemplate “The Future of the Sitcom”? What does that mean? Is it something that’s barreling towards us, or are we simply assigning weight to the explosion of comedy we’re enjoying at the moment? The real answer is “Who knows?” but in some respects, we’re looking at pieces of this “future” right now. During the New Yorker Festival’s “Future of the Sitcom” panel in New York on Oct. 8, four current showrunners – Michael Schur (Parks and Recreation), Mike White (Enlightened), Nahnatchka Khan (Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23), and Greg Garcia (Raising Hope) – came together to discuss this exact question, and the biggest takeaway was that there is not a single answer to this fairly ridiculous question, but many. JUST HOW RAUNCHY CAN IT GET? Now that the TV landscape is so expansive, the comedy genre is opening up as well. In fact, the range of the most-talked about comedies on television is dizzying: from the family-friendly Modern Family, to the confounding, dark recently non-comedy Louie, to the controversial Girls, to racy, wacky series like Happy Endings, all the way to short sitcoms like Childrens Hospital. Our tastes are all over the place. But all this healthy competition seems to have one very important benefit: Showrunners are practically encouraged to push the button. Like the woman behind ABC’s surprising new comedy Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23, Khan, who’s greatly benefited from the openness of the sitcom world. She noted a specific episode of Don’t Trust The B in which Krysten Ritter’s character, Chloe, is immortalized in a comic book series called “Tall Slut No Panties.” And if you know anything about Chloe, that is the only fitting title for a biographical comic. But the censors were not pleased, and asked to change the word "panties" to “skivvies.” “That’s just not realistic in the world we live in. No one says that,” says Khan. Of course, Khan eventually pushed back and won and now the world can enjoy the wonder of the skivvies-deprived comic book heroine. Other shows have pushed the envelope even further. Garcia, who runs Fox’s Raising Hope, recalled a recent argument with the network over Garret Dillahunt’s character finding a “nightstick,” which later turns out to be Cloris Leachman’s Maw-maw’s sex toy. Of course, it’s easy to see why the network was a little miffed: Waving around a dildo on network television doesn’t exactly have wide-audience appeal. But that’s not the point. “If you’re a little offended, maybe that’s kind of good,” says Khan, who learned from her time as an American Dad writer that just getting the audience to smile isn’t enough. Sometimes, taking the risk and potentially offending someone is the only way to get the “hard laugh” that Khan says she’s pushing for. And if our slate of television comedies are any indication, the sitcom world is finally starting to get there. Even NBC’s Parks and Recreation, which is a sweet, sentimental series, managed to get an episode through network censors that puts an entire community of seniors in a sexual education class. “It’s a little dicey. It’s a little salty,” showrunner Schur says. “But it’s a legitimate story and a legitimate issue." And for now, it seems that’s where sitcoms live: in a realm that allows potentially offensive content... as long as it’s funny. Of course, that begs the question: How much further can it go when every good sitcom is trying to push the boundaries further than the last one? WHAT ABOUT LOUIE? THAT'S GOT TO BE THE FUTURE, RIGHT? When the future seems uncertain, many of us go to Louie for answers. And it’s understandable. Louis C.K.’s fantastic show is revolutionary, and its success in spite of the fact that Louie clearly doesn’t care what any of us think is encouraging. But is it really the blueprint for the sitcom of the future? Schur doesn’t think so. “As tempting as it is to say it’s heralding a new era, I don’t think it’s accurate,” Schur says. “In order to do [what Louie is doing], you have to be as funny as Louis C.K., so that narrows it down to one person … he’s the Mozart of comedy,” he laughs. Adding fuel to that fire, Garcia points out that while he, personally, loves Louie, he sees why it’s not a mainstream hit. “Some members of the [mainstream] audience would find it off-putting,” he says of the FX show. The future isn’t going to be littered with sitcoms that look like Louie, mainly because it’s not exactly a sitcom. It’s a show that occupies a half-hour of television from a comedian that makes people laugh sometimes. “What he’s doing is writing and filming a New Yorker short story,” Schur says. And as we all know, New Yorker short stories never seem to ensnare as many readers as easily digestible material like whatever the next Fifty Shades of Grey is. Television isn’t much different. “The shows that make the biggest ratings are multi-cams on CBS,” says Garcia, adding the slightly cynical touch that “the future of sitcoms is going to be what makes the most money for the networks.” Still, Khan argues that we can see elements of Louie starting to influence the sitcom industry already. As Khan notes, the fact that a scene of Louie in which the titular character escapes from a meeting with his father by running through the streets of Boston on foot, on a bike, and later by boat could even make it past a network executive is encouraging. It appears execs are suddenly willing to allow comedy's seemingly ridiculous, nonsensical moments. And, funnily enough, this, in turn, matures the genre. “Now, it feels like it’s a lot more sophisticated storytelling is going on,” Khan says. This certainly benefits shows like Girls and White’s Enlightened, a series that pushed an HBO exec to tell the showrunner, “I like your show, but there are moments where it just makes me want to kill myself.” And while White’s show obviously has the added benefit of being on HBO, it’s still a good example of how execs are giving writers the freedom to bend the definition of a sitcom. White says it’s been a challenge to get the show made the way he saw fit, but it’s hard to argue with Laura Dern’s shiny Best Actress in a Comedy Golden Globe. IF THE FUTURE ISN'T LOUIE, THEN WHAT IS? So if the dark stuff isn’t the future (if we could bottle “the future” and sprinkle it over all the little towns in Sitcomland), what is? If the commentary from these showrunners is any indication, the future is a varied wonderland made up of different elements: girl power à la New Girl, Girls, and Don't Trust the B; depth and darkness à la Louie; easy-going, crowd-pleasing comedy à la most of CBS' incredibly profitable line-up; and jokes that might infuriate the "faint of heart" more than they ever could have imagined, all in the name of a good laugh. The possibilities are endless. But it's not just about content. The future also surrounds how people are consuming television. “People are watching television differently,” says Khan, which is why this wonderland is becoming so varied. “The change is percolating.” And Khan, one of the few female showrunners in network television, certainly knows a good deal about progression. So how will the current TV landscape alter sitcoms? It may just be too early to tell. “Maybe in five years, we’ll see that change,” she says. Whatever that may be. Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler [Photo Credits: Amy Sussman/Getty; KC Bailey/FX; ABC] More: What Louis C.K. Said to Lena Dunham at the Emmys & 12 Other New Yorker Fest Gems Lena Dunham is Writing a Book: Vying to Be 'The Voice of a Generation' 'Parks and Rec,' 'Louie,' and 'Community' Are More Than Just Comedies
This bit of casting news might be taking place over in the United Kingdom, but it is far too fascinating for those of us here in America to ignore. Two of Great Britain's most formidable contributions to the craft of film and television, Sean Connery and Ricky Gervais, are teaming up in a comedy pilot called Derek. Gervais will be filming the pilot, which stars Connery as an aged man confined to an old folks' home. In addition to directing, Gervais himself will be starring alongside Connery in the pilot. So, this is just about the most enthralling news I've ever heard. -TV Over Mind
Parks & Recreation's Leslie Knope's (Amy Poehler) sunny and saccharine nature has brought her a great deal of success, and earned her a wide assortment of friends and allies. However, in the game of politics, you're always going to be up against someone. As Leslie delves further into her race for public office, we will be meeting a few of her opposing players. The first guest star to strike up an enmity with Knope will be in the form of Kathryn Hahn, who will play an operative employed by one of Knope's rival candidates. Hahn, with a good deal of comedy roles on her resume, will add her sharp flavor to Parks & Rec when her team faces off against Leslie and Co. I can't imagine it's any easy feat to keep up with the comic abilities of the show's stellar cast, but Hahn is hardly an amateur. She'll be paying a visit to Pawnee in early 2012. Parks & Recreation airs Thursday nights at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. -TVLine
One actor is hopping from one period drama to another. Darren Pettie is known for his small but prominent recurring role on Mad Men, playing the secretly gay Lee Garner, Jr. Now, he'll be stepping over to ABC's Pan Am to take on the role of a regally admired airline pilot. Vince Broyles, Pettie's Pan Am character, will be a WWII vet who is embraced as an American hero and a skilled pilot, though he harbors a secret dark side. Pan Am airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. -EW
Green Zone is a story we’ve already heard shot in a manner we’ve already seen and starring Matt Damon in a role he’s already played. Remember those WMDs that were never found in Iraq and later exposed to be the invention of a dubious and poorly-vetted informant? Remember the misguided and hideously botched attempt at establishing democracy after the fall of Saddam and the violent prolonged insurgency that ensued? If you’ve been away from the television for the past hour and somehow managed to forget any of these details Green Zone is here to remind you.
Damon plays Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller an Army weapons inspector whose frustration over repeatedly coming up empty in his search for Iraqi WMDs leads him on a quest to track down and expose the people responsible for leading him (and us) down that infamously bogus path. Though his hand-to-hand skills are a notch below Jason Bourne’s Miller’s single-mindedness moral certainty and permanent expression of square-jawed defiance — always threatening another “How do you like them apples?” rebuke — in the face of an insidious multi-level government conspiracy are essentially equivalent to those of Damon’s Bourne trilogy soulmate.
And like Bourne his most dangerous adversary isn’t found on the battlefront but rather within the government he once served so proudly. As Miller delves ever deeper into the Case of the Faulty WMD Intelligence Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear) the duplicitous arrogant Defense Department bureaucrat in charge of U.S. operations in Iraq summarily relieves him of his post. (Hint: the better dressed a Green Zone character is the more sinister his ambitions.) But Miller remains undeterred and he goes rogue to locate the CIA informant “Magellan ” a formerly high-ranking Iraqi official whose supposed confirmation of Saddam’s nuclear ambitions served as the basis for U.S. invasion.
We know how the story ends. Green Zone’s pervasive overarching sense of deja vu is accentuated by director — and veteran Bourne helmer — Paul Greengrass who employs the trademark hand-held super-shakycam style which was so fresh and inventive in 2004 but now feels stale and predictable. (Admittedly my aversion to Greengrass’ approach was no doubt heightened by a previous night’s viewing of Roman Polanski’s excellent The Ghost Writer a political thriller as subtle and precise and finely tuned as Green Zone is ham-fisted and haphazard — and which also uses the phantom WMD controversy to far greater narrative effect.)
Green Zone culminates in essentially a violent footrace between Miller and the Army Special Forces as they scour a heavily-armed insurgent stronghold to find Magellan with Miller hoping to secure his potentially damning testimony before the Army can silence him for good. The climactic sequence for all I could tell was either shot in Damon’s backyard culled from Bourne trilogy deleted scenes or assembled from scattered YouTube clips. This punishingly chaotic often incoherent and ultimately exhausting approach to storytelling isn’t cinema verite; it’s dementia pugilistica.
Not to be confused with the 1979 ghost story The Changeling this Changeling is a horror story of a very different stripe. Based on a long forgotten case buried deep in the L.A. crime files this true tale revolves around the mysterious 1928 disappearance of 9-year-old Walter Collins. Set in an election year and with heavy political pressure on city officials and a corrupt LAPD they find a child five months later who they claim is Walter and arrange to reunite him with his mother Christine (Angelina Jolie). Only problem is she says this is not her kid. When she asks the police to continue trying to find her son she finds herself victimized and accused of being insane and unfit for not going along with the PR campaign informing the public that the police have solved the case. With the help of a community activist Reverend Briegleb (John Malkovich) she begins to fight the city and the police who try in every way to silence her even committing her to a mental institution. The film details not only her valiant quest to right a wrong and find her real son but serves as a probing indictment of the police state 1920’s Los Angeles had become. As in her searing portrayal of the pregnant Marianne Pearl in last year’s A Mighty Heart Angelina Jolie once again connects with her maternal side. In another challenging role she must exhibit a wide emotional range going from fear to anguish to anger to pure resolve in an effort to uncover the mystery of her son’s abduction. Splendidly outfitted in ‘20s garb Jolie delves deep into the soul of a woman who dared to go against the grain and challenge a corrupt police department in Prohibition-era L.A. She’s simply remarkable in the most intense determined and heartbreaking role of her career. As the man who helps out in her cause Malkovich is perfectly matched to Jolie. As the merciless Captain Jones who heads the investigation to find Walter Jeffrey Donovan (TV’s Burn Notice) is properly frustrating and imposing while Colm Feore gets the evil side of his LAPD police chief down pat. Nailing her few scenes Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone) plays a fellow psycho-ward inmate who helps Christine when she is institutionalized. Particularly impressive is Eddie Alderson as the 15-year-old nephew of the serial killer who leads police to a grisly crime scene and his uncle played a bit over the top by Jason Butler Harner. And filling out their juvenile roles nicely are Gattlin Griffith as Walter and eerie Devon Conti as the young man impersonating him. Clint Eastwood knows his way around ominous foreboding material so it’s no wonder he was instantly attracted to J. Michael Stracynski’s immaculately researched script. After Million Dollar Baby and Mystic River Eastwood exhibits a strong understanding of the dark side of human nature. Changeling fits right in with his oeuvre and he delivers yet another superbly crafted and acted film -- one that exists on two separate levels as a look at the corruption that crept into the LAPD of the era and as an impassioned journey of a woman trying to find a happy ending for herself and her son. Shot with the director’s usual ease Eastwood seems comfortable letting the almost unbelievable facts of the story speak for themselves and remarkably didn’t change a word of Stracynski’s fascinating screenplay. He doesn’t have to. The fact that it’s a true story that all really happened is simply incredible by itself. This is an unforgettable triumph for everyone involved.
Just one day after ABC announced its surprising fall 2001 lineup, CBS followed suit Wednesday with some curveballs of its own.
The Eye Network will bring back 16 primetime programs, CBS President Les Moonves announced Wednesday - including Survivor, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Everybody Loves Raymond and Judging Amy - and also will introduce eight new series starring some of Hollywood's heavyweights.
Survivor and CSI will remain Thursday's double-threat, and the Monday lineup of strong sitcoms, including King of Queens, Yes, Dear, Raymond and Becker, also will stay untouched.
New blood, however, will shake up CBS' remaining primetime schedule. The network's offering of rookie shows is as follows:
Thursdays, 10 p.m. EST
Set in Washington, D.C., this drama follows a brave group of CIA agents who risk life and limb in the name of national security. The series stars Gil Bellows (Ally McBeal), as a no-holds-barred agent who's haunted by the mysterious death of his brother, and Will Patton (Remember the Titans), as the veteran agent who knows the truth about Bellows' sibling. Also stars David Clennon (thirtysomething) as a fraud expert and Paige Turco (Party of Five) as the determined rookie. Produced by Wolfgang Petersen (The Perfect Storm).
"The Amazing Race"
Wednesdays, 9 p.m. EST
Think of it as Survivor unrestrained. Eleven teams, each comprised of two members, traverse the globe in a month-long competition to be the first to reach the final destination. The winning team nabs $1 million. But, alas, here's the catch: all team members must have a pre-existing personal relationship - be it family, friend or foe - adding some tension to the overall scheme. Executive produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (Armageddon) and Bertram van Munster (Cops).
Fridays, 8:30 p.m. EST
In one of only two new sitcoms debuting on CBS in the fall, Daniel Stern (City Slickers) stars as a single father who operates a run-down community center populated with a diverse group of people. As the neighborhood ruffians learn lessons in life at the center - receiving guidance, playing sports and seeing tutors - Stern's character also learns what is important in life. Produced by Stern, Howard J. Morris (Home Improvement) and Michael Hanel (Titus).
Saturdays, 9 p.m. EST
James Cromwell (Babe) stars as a man who has spent his entire life as a success in the political arena - having served three terms in the Senate - until, in a shocking defeat, he loses his seat on Capitol Hill and is forced to return to civilian life. His three daughters timidly attempt to make the transition a smooth one, yet their own personal conflicts with other family members render the former senator's homecoming a nerve-racking affair. Produced by John Wells (ER), Lydia Woodward (China Beach) and Christopher Chulack (The West Wing).
"The Education of Max Bickford"
Sundays, 8 p.m. EST
Possibly the most creative of CBS' new dramas, Bickford delves into the bizarre life of college professor Max Bickford (Oscar-winner Richard Dreyfuss). Max is denied a promotion at work, is regularly stabbed in the back by the college president (Regina Taylor) and is forced to deal with the fact that his former best friend, Steve, is now a woman (Helen Shaver) named Erica. Executive produced by Nicole Yorkin (Judging Amy).
"The Ellen Show"
Fridays, 8 p.m. EST
Ellen DeGeneres returns to primetime TV as an overworked Internet executive who realizes that life in the slow lane is the way to go. Her solution? She moves back to her small hometown to live with her peculiar mother (Cloris Leachman) and sister (Emily Rutherfurd) - but will the pressures of living back at home outweigh the stresses of her previous life on the fast track? And is her former high school sweetheart moving back in on her? Produced by DeGeneres, Carol Leifer (Seinfeld) and Mitchell Hurwitz (The Golden Girls).
Tuesdays, 9 p.m. EST
Half legal drama, half a journey of self-discovery, Simon Baker (L.A. Confidential) plays Nick, a high-powered lawyer who, following a drug bust, is forced by the courts to work in a child advocacy office to set him straight. Though Nick is still determined to please his former legal clients, he slowly warms up to the children he's ordered to assist, shedding his cold exterior. Dabney Coleman (9 to 5) stars as Nick's stern father. Executive produced by Mark Johnson (Donnie Brasco) and Michael Pressman (Chicago Hope).
Wednesdays, 10 p.m. EST
This bizarre drama follows the investigation of a Bureau of Wildlife Management agent (Lou Diamond Phillips) obsessed with unlocking the mystery behind a rash of human disappearances in a Seattle suburb. His investigation centers upon a pack of wild wolves that can morph into human beings at will. Only one man-a Native American biology professor (Graham Greene)--knows the truth behind the supernatural creatures. Executive produced by John Leekley (Kindred: The Embraced) and Bernard Lechowick (Hyperion Bay).
As for returning shows with new time slots, four programs are being shuffled around. 60 Minutes II stays on Wednesdays, but will shown at 8 p.m. EST, not 9 p.m. EST, its current time slot. Another news magazine show, 48 Hours, will be shown on Fridays at 10 p.m. EST, a day later than its current home at 10 p.m. EST Thursdays. That's Life will jump back from Saturdays at 8 p.m. EST to Fridays at 9 p.m. EST. Finally, the family hit Touched by an Angel moves from Sundays at 8 p.m. EST to Saturdays at 8 p.m. EST.
Fox is expected to release its fall schedule sometime Thursday.