It's that special part of the day again: time for television tidbits! Tonight's savory television bits come from all over the world: from Briarcliff Manor to a kitchen in the United Kingdom, our small screen news knows no bounds. So let's dig in before it gets cold!
From Walking Dead to L.A. Noir: Former Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont has gotten his period drama L.A. Noir picked up for a six episode run on TNT. It stars Walking Dead‘s Jon Bernthal as an ex-Marine working for the LAPD in an era run rampant with corruption of the police variety of the 1940s. The true story series will tell the tale of the conflict between the LAPD (under the helm of Police Chief William Parker, aka Justified‘s Neal McDonough), and the criminal ring run by Mickey Cohen, a former boxer-turned-top-banana-crime-boss. [TVLine]
Dylan McDermott Returns to the Horror Story: Current television king Ryan Murphy has taken to his favorite place of news-breaking (the almighty Twitter) to announce the guest star casting of Dylan McDermott on American Horror Story: Asylum. Though no one knows what his role will be (or how involved it will be in the story line this year), it seems certain that it will probably involve a lot of creepiness. Fingers crossed he takes his shirt off, too (naturally).
So thrilled to announce Dylan McDermott is returning to American Horror Story!— Ryan Murphy (@MrRPMurphy) October 17, 2012
Ahhhh! More Monsters: TNT has put Frankenstein into development—a drama series based on the novels of the same name by Dean Koontz, which have sold more than 20 million copies. It will be a modern-day retelling (of course! Aren't they all?) of the Frankenstein myth, set in New Orleans. Following Victor Helios (Frankenstein) and his creepy creation 200 years after they thought they killed each other (but had not!) in a battle in the Arctic, the two end up in the same city unbeknownst to them. Victor has created more monsters that heed his beck and call, and once the original creature learns Victor is alive, a big ol' battle ensues. [Deadline]
CBS Orders British Cooking Competition: CBS is getting into the cooking competition game, giving a series order to Bake Off, an adaption of BBC2's The Great British Bake Off. The series has been a breakout hit in the UK as well as Denmark and Sweden, and will feature amateur Americans taking part in several baking challenges, with one being crowned the winner. Tasty! [Hollywood Reporter]
Mad Men Gets Lei'd: Apparently the season 6 premiere of Mad Men will start up with a cool drink of the tropical sights of Hawaii! Apparently Jon Hamm and Jessica Pare are leaving on Sunday for a small trip to shoot on the multi-island state. A second honeymoon for the Drapers, perhaps? Looks like creator Matt Weiner is putting that substantially increased budget to use. [Dealine]
A Marriage on Modern Family?: Earlier today, Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson tweeted a picture of himself and Eric Stonestreet underneath what looked like a marital arch. Could wedded bliss be in the air for the pair? Ferguson's not fessing up, but the image did come with the caption: "It's not what it looks like. Or is it? Guess you'll have to wait to find out!"
[Photo Credit: FX]
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Fans of auteur television, rejoice! TNT has just announced a six-episode series order for exec producer Frank Darabont’s still untitled period crime drama based on John Buntin’s book L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City. Set in the 1940s and ‘50s, L.A. Noir will document the power struggle between Los Angeles police chief William Parker (Desperate Housewives’ Neal McDonough) and ex-prizefighter turned mobster Mickey Cohen (who hasn’t yet been cast). Think Boardwalk Empire meets Chinatown. If the promise of more fedoras and pinstripe suits on TV isn’t exciting enough, here are five other reasons we can’t wait to see it:
L.A. Noir marks Darabont’s return to the small screen after his high-profile exit from The Walking Dead.
Fans of AMC’s blood-soaked zombie extravaganza usually agree about one thing: The Walking Dead lost much of its propulsive storytelling after showrunner Darabont left early in the production of season two following creative disputes. (Marooning scrappy zombie apocalypse survivors on a sleepy farm for over ten episodes can do that.) This is Darabont’s chance to make another big splash in the TV game, and by all accounts he’s already bringing his exacting vision to bear on L.A. Noir. TNT’s series order comes ten months after the first announcement of the project, as it took Darabont, who also wrote and directed the pilot, several months to lock in a final cut he found satisfactory.
Darabont’s bringing several Walking Dead pals with him.
Jon Bernthal, who played mentally unstable former sheriff’s deputy Shane on Walking Dead, is gaining more fictitious law enforcement experience as ex-marine turned LAPD cop Joe Teague on L.A. Noir. Better yet, he won’t have to affect a southern-fried Georgia accent. Bernthal will be joined by Jeffrey DeMunn , Walking Dead’s preachy, eventually disemboweled conscience Dale, as Det. Hal Morrison, who heads up the LAPD’s new mob squad. Given Darabont’s knack for screw-tightening suspense among large personalities (see: The Shawshank Redemption), Bernthal and DeMunn’s new alter egos may butt heads once again.
Anything that puts more of Ron Rifkin in the world is a good thing.
Alias’ erstwhile Arvin Sloane will be playing L.A. mayor Fletcher Bowron. A hardnosed enemy of the mob, Bowron vows to clean up the city and the rampant corruption within his own police force.
This is the closest thing to an L.A. Confidential TV series we’re likely to get.
Fans of James Ellroy’s Hollywood-set crime novel and the 1997 Curtis Hanson movie will note that a pilot for an aborted L.A. Confidential TV series was shot in 2003 with a cast that included Kiefer Sutherland, Josh Hopkins, Melissa George, and Eric Roberts. Yes, that happened. But with Darabont’s exacting attention to period detail and knack for creating lived-in atmosphere, L.A. Noir could satisfy L.A. Confidential fans’ yen for the seedier side of Tinseltown.
L.A. Noir has absolutely nothing to do with the videogame L.A. Noire
Rockstar Games’ chiaroscuro masterpiece is perfect as it is.
The Walking Dead Creator Frank Darabont to Develop LA Noir
Walking Dead Loses Showrunner Frank Darabont
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.