Bowing to legal challenges by First Amendment activists, CBS on Friday released transcripts of a deposition from former Survivor contestant Dirk Been in which he acknowledged that he was influenced by producer Mark Burnett to vote against Stacey Stillman instead of former Navy SEAL Rudy Boesch. "I felt that influence affected the game in an unfair manner," Been said in the deposition. He also described a phone conversation with Burnett last summer, while the show was being broadcast, in which the producer denied that he had ever tried to influence his vote. "And obviously I was a little distraught," Been said, "simply because now here's somebody that I care about and thought I was friends with telling me something I know that happened didn't happen." (Been was the contestant who carried a bible with him during the filming.) Been said that he also sent a letter to Burnett on May 23, 2000, saying "When I began to see the true level of your involvement, understanding how you swung votes and seeing the things you swept under the rug, it tainted the entire experience." CBS, however, observed on Friday that at no time did Been accuse Burnett of "manipulation," as former contestant Stacey Stillman has in her lawsuit against CBS and Burnett's company.
Judging from critics' comments, Angel Eyes was calculated to appeal to men as a cop thriller (with the sexy Jennifer Lopez as the cop) and to women as a weepy love story. The critics disagree on how well the filmmakers have been able to make such a hybrid viable. Clearly (male) critic Jonathan Foreman in the New York Post wasn't reaching for the Kleenex. "During an endless, maudlin last act, it becomes more and more difficult not to laugh -- or barf -- as the protagonists tearfully come to terms with their issues," he writes. (Female) Rita Kempley begins her review in the Washington Post this way: "When she's not slamming thugs the size of sumo wrestlers upside the hood of her squad car, Jennifer Lopez's butt-busting heroine in Angel Eyes is boo-hoo-hooing in the privacy of her lonely room. J-Lo is Jell-O on the inside. Sniff." On the other hand, Ray Conlogue in the Toronto Globe and Mail describes the film as "a smoothly written romantic film which has the discipline to avoid what its producer Mark Canton calls the 'otherworldly forces' (ghosts, angels) which have infected recent popular romances like City of Angels and Ghost." Jay Carr, also describes the movie positively for the most part. It's "a billowy romance that has date movie written all over it," he writes. "This is a surprisingly effective film," says Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times. "For what it is, [it's] not bad," Bob Longino remarks in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Michael Wilmington in the Chicago Tribune, however, has a less benevolent attitude -- perhaps because it is set in Chicago. The movie, he says, "tries to pump real emotions into a never-never Chicago that has been glamorized and thrillerized almost out of recognition. It's not the usual kind of big-studio mediocrity. It's a slicker sellout, full of phony-sounding greeting-card idealism."
Remember when David Caruso left "NYPD Blue" in a massive firestorm of controversy to become a huge movie star? David Caruso "?
No, not the singer ... he’s an actor. He was on "NYPD Blue" before Jimmy Smits. No, seriously, there was a guy named David Caruso, and he was the star of the show. Remember?
Well, anyway, David Caruso returns to TV today in the made for cable nail-biter "Deadlocked" (8 p.m. EDT/PDT, TNT). Caruso plays the prosecutor in this courtroom thriller with a twist. Charles S. Dutton ("Roc," "Alien 3") -- one of the most convincing angry men in show business -- is the "twist." He plays an angry man, convinced his very guilty-looking son (whom Caruso is prosecuting) is not guilty, and he decides to hold the jury hostage until somebody (Caruso) proves he is right. It’s a cool plot, and both Caruso and Dutton deliver the tension enough to make the drama really work.
In other tube highlights:
"The Crocodile Hunter" has been on for years now, and if you've never seen it, you’ve probably heard the rumors. It’s a nature documentary show hosted by a very friendly and quite possibly insane Australian man named Steve Irwin. Irwin simply has absolutely no fear of any of the things we are all supposed to be at least a little bit afraid off -- like being eaten alive by wild animals, being bitten by poisonous snakes, etc. What’s worse is that his wife, Terri, comes along with him on most expeditions, and, well, let’s just say the episode where he gets repeatedly bitten by a tree snake that jumps into their boat, causing Terri to fall overboard with a giant, hungry crocodile in the water, was some pretty jaw-dropping television. Anyway, this is your chance to see for yourself, because it’s "Croc Week" on Animal Planet. A full week of the best episodes of "The Crocodile Hunter," starts today at 8 p.m. EDT/PDT. And by the way, you won’t be disappointed. The rumors are true.
Maybe it’s because they're usually so proper and easily embarrassed, but when British people do irreverent and outrageous comedy, they really go nuts. This week Comedy Central premieres a new comedy series from the nation that brought us "Monty Python" and "Absolutely Fabulous." And if you are a fan of those shows, "The League of Gentlemen" (10:30 p.m. EDT/PDT, Monday), while certainly new and different, might just be your (spiked) cup of tea. A headline in the local paper of the bizarro-fictional town of Royston Vasey reads, "New Road Planned - Strangers Expected." And the strangers do show up pretty quickly - some 60 odd characters (and we do mean "odd") including men, women and transvestites, all played by the show’s versatile and talented three-man troupe (Steve Pemberton, Mark Gatiss and Reece Shearsmith). It’s weird, it’s British, and it’s highly recommended.
A&E premieres a few new episodes of its popular, often interesting, sometimes not "Biography" series. Today at 8 p.m. EDT/PDT should be a good one as it profiles Sun Records founder Sam Phillips. Much of the most important American music of the second half of this century came from Phillips' Memphis-based label. And this hour gives Phillips' own accounts of those revolutionary early recording sessions with Elvis Prestley, Roy Orbison, B.B. King and Johnny Cash. Also premiering this week on "Biography": Ex-"Happy Days" heartthrob Henry Winkler (8 p.m. EDT/PDT, Monday) and current Royal heartthrob Prince William (8 p.m. EDT/PDT, Wednesday).
"Making the Band" (9:30 p.m. EDT/PDT, Friday, ABC) has its own take on the "Survivor" concept (round up a bunch of real people, dangle a prize for those who can last the season and callously kick one or more of them to the curb each week). Rather than surviving on a desert island, however, the cast of "Making the Band" must survive the even more cutthroat world of show business. The tension is high and the tears flow this week as the seven finalists for the roster of the boyband to be known as O-Town must be cut down to the final five. A little quick math says that two of them, the last two, must go. Man, this reality-based stuff can be tough sometimes. Even if you have no plans to buy an O-Town record when it comes out, this show can suck you in if you’re not careful.
Brace yourself Dr. Laura. This clueless teen queen (Natasha Lyonne) has it all: good looks a football captain boyfriend and a popular pair of pom-poms. But her candy-colored world crumbles when her panicked parents stage an intervention after finding a Melissa Etheridge poster that leads them to conclude she's a friend of Ellen. After being carted off to an anti-gay rehab camp for teens the perky princess must choose between the straight and narrow-minded or the love that dare not speak its name.
The quirky ensemble casting is half this film's fun. Lyonne is charming as the pepster tempted by T&A and she sparks onscreen with swanky and sexy co-star Clea DuVall who plays the butch femme fatale suitor (alarmingly reminiscent of Nancy McKeon's Jo from "The Facts of Life.") Drag queen supreme RuPaul is unrecognizable out of his high heels and even higher blond wig wearing a "Straight is Great" T-shirt as a macho militant ex-gay counselor. Cathy Moriaty is sweetly sinister as the homophobic headmistress and Mink Stole steals scenes as the uptight upright meddling mom.
Kudos to Jamie Babbit for tackling this hot-potato topic but this well-intentioned film too often misses its mark turning potentially comical scenes into unbearably awkward moments. Babbit fouls when tugging at the heartstrings but hits home runs when the humor is at its broadest.
After initially vowing to run NBC's new quiz show The Weakest Link no more than once a week, the network's entertainment president, Jeff Zucker, said Monday that he "chickened out" and decided to air it twice a week -- on Sundays and Mondays -- beginning next season. During a telephone press conference, Zucker acknowledged that he had made the decision to get the most out of the show while he could because he had no idea what the life expectancy of Link might be. Zucker also maintained that he was not worried about reported plans by ABC to air Who Wants to Be a Millionaire opposite the Monday edition of Link. "'All I would say is we would welcome the challenge," he said. However, several analysts predicted that Link was likely to take a big hit from Millionaire. Mark Berman of Mediaweek.com predicted in an interview with the New York Post that the ABC show will come out ahead. "I think Millionaire will have the advantage over Link," he said. Referring to the hosts of the two shows, he added, "If you had to pick Regis over Anne Robinson, it's going to be Regis." But industry analyst Paul Schulman of Schulman/Advanswers told the New York Post: "It's an interesting battle, but if those two shows end up going head-to-head, they're certainly going to hurt each other."
The reality of "reality TV" was being called into question Thursday following reports on Wednesday that Survivor creator Mark Burnett had acknowledged that he sometimes used stand-ins for certain scenes in the series, including one aerial shot of Survivor contestants swimming. The footage of the "body doubles" was used, he said, because the actual scene would have shown the camera crews working on the ground. The New York Post's TV writer, Adam Buckman, commented; "The show is looking more and more phony everyday and it's not likely I'll be able to watch future editions with the same blind acceptance I brought to the first two." Burnett's admission, commented New York Daily News columnist Erik Mink, "calls the credibility of the show into question by forcing people to wonder: What else has been staged, bent, twisted and phonied up to satisfy Burnett's demanding standards of drama and entertainment?"