Vincent Kartheiser believes Pete Campbell’s gotten a raw deal. He keeps hearing about how awful his “Mad Men” character is because he was the one who suggested Joan (Christina Hendricks) sleep with a client as a way to land the Jaguar advertising account. Joan agreed to the proposition with her compensation being that she became a partner in the advertising firm.
He understands viewers don’t necessarily like Pete but they love Joan and that’s why the reaction was so negative.
Starting April 14, the National Geographic Channel will present “The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us.” The six-part series, narrated by Rob Lowe, examines the politics, culture, technology and other elements that defined the 10 years.
When it comes to sports, one of the biggest moments came during the 1980 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid, N.Y. The world watched as a ragtag group of American hockey players defeated the Russians in what’s considered one of the biggest upsets in sports history. It’s still known as the “Miracle on Ice.”
Fans of the AMC series “Mad Men” always argue it’s the best drama on TV. They might be surprised to find out that at least one of the cast members considers the show to be a comedy.
John Slattery thinks that way because he’s been able to play some of the lighter moments in the acclaimed series through his portrayal of Roger Sterling.
Chris Jericho’s professional wrestling days are behind him but he still loves a good fight. That’s one reason he’s so excited about being the host of the new Syfy competition series “Robot Combat League” that will debut in late February. The show will feature teams guiding million-dollar robots in a “Real Steel” kind of competition.
“And it really works out because each fight gets better and better as the teams learn more about fighting,” Jericho tells me during a party thrown by the cable channel. “I tried on the equipment and it was so cool because every move I made the robot did it immediately. There’s no pause.”
The show is Jericho’s latest effort by Jericho to move past his professional wrestling days. He enjoyed his time in the ring but is now excited about being able to work on his writing, music and other entertainment options that couldn’t be any further from his mat days. One such option was appearing on “Dancing With the Stars.”
“They had asked me three times before to be on the show and I said no. I finally decided if I said no again, they wouldn’t ask me anymore,” Jericho says.
He laced up his dancing shoes and performed his way through six successful competitions before being sent home. His appearance on the show was the edition won by Hines Ward.
Jericho decided his decision to do the show was right after the first time he faced the judges.
“They didn’t think I was the worst dancer in the world. That was great,” Jericho says.
It’s hard not to notice how every person who comes into the small bar/restaurant in the Langham Hotel pauses just a second to look at the woman I’m interviewing. Victoria’s Secret angel, the Czech-born supermodel, Karolina Kurkova, has a way of turning heads. She’s certainly attractive enough to garner such attention, but I’m more fascinated by what she’s doing during the interview.
This may sound crazy because Kurkova’s a supermodel, but she’s eating. And, I’m not talking about a meal of salad and ice. The waitress has just set down a plate with three hamburger sliders flanked by a basket of sweet potato fries. As we chat about her new Oxygen cable channel series “The Face,” the tips she gives to young modeling hopefuls and the joys of being a mom, she makes her way through the fries. Kurkova takes a bite of one of the sliders and then calls the waitress over to the table.
Kurkova asks the hamburger be cooked some more because it’s too raw for her taste.
The interview ends up being a reminder of how easy it is to stereotype people. Except for looking like the kind of young woman who could wear a $2.5 million bra and walk the runway for Victoria’s Secret, Kurkova doesn’t fit any preconceived notions about models.
Most of the interview ends up being a serious talk about her career but I take the opportunity to ask one really superficial question. I have always wondered if the wings the Victoria’s Secret models wear are heavy.
“Oh yes,” Kurkova says. “One pair I had to wear weighed 25 pounds. It’s hard enough to stand up straight with that much weight on your shoulders. Then you have to walk in the really high heels on a floor covered with glitter.”
Heavy are the shoulders of a supermodel who works for Victoria’s Secret.
In what can only be described as one of the most interesting casting to be discussed at the TV Critics winter meetings, Michael Douglas plays Liberace in the new HBO feature film “Behind the Candelabra.” His portrayal of the flamboyant performer will have to be based on the script and tales from those who knew him because although the Douglas family had a home in Palm Springs when Liberace was living there, the actor only met Liberace a few times.
“I remember seeing him. You couldn’t miss his car. But never had, like, an evening with him or anything like that,” Douglas says.
A lot of his performance will be built on what others had to say about Liberace such as how he was an extraordinarily gracious, extremely professional guy.
“I think he had a very good sense and a very savvy sense of showmanship. You’ve got to remember, besides all his popularity in Las Vegas, it was the television show that really made him so well known to everybody in the world. And we talk about it in the movie and he sort of prided himself, but he was probably the first person on television to talk directly to the camera and it was one of his great abilities to sort of bring in everybody to it. And with that, you know, camp style, he just there was a genuine a genuine, genuine, genuine quality about him and his performances and how happy he wanted to make people that won over,” Douglas says.
How well Douglas portrays Liberace can be seen when the HBO movie debuts in May.
Neve Campbell called earlier today. It wasn’t a surprise that she called because as we were scheduled to talk about “An Amish Murder,” the Lifetime movie she’s starring in that will be broadcast in early January. You can read the entire interview early in 2013.
What was a surprise was that it was Campbell who made the call. Most of the time, it’s a publicist – or two – who will ring me up and then connect me with the talent. It’s always a little disconcerting to know that the publicist is listening to the conversation and ready to jump in to block any question.
Today, it was just Campbell on the line.
Most of the conversation was about the movie such as how she was pregnant during the filming and how she was able to deal with the snowy setting because she grew up in Canada.
The conversation did get around to whether or not she would return to series television if this film proves to be a hit. Working on “Party of Five” was a grind and back then she didn’t have a child in her life.
“The good thing is that this would be for cable. You don’t have to commit to 22 shows. On a cable series, you work five months rather than nine or 10 months,” Campbell says. “Also, if I was to do a series, it would have to be an ensemble show. I did a few episodes of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and they have 30 characters on the show. They only work two or three days a week.”
Although “Party of Five” looked like an ensemble series, there were only four main characters and the writers wanted at least one of the four in every scene. That was a lot of work for the cast.
Should the film spawn a cable series, it will be nice to hear from Campbell again.
No two actors — like snowflakes — are ever the same. There are even some very big differences with the Olsen twins. One area where actors really differ is in how much information they need — or want — about their character. You would think acting would be the process of getting hired, being handed a script and then acting out the scene. That’s the process for some. Others need history.
There are actors who will create an entire history for their character even if the role is small. It’s a way of making that part feel like it has some depth. There are some actors who want to know the future of their character. That one’s a little harder — especially with TV shows — because the creative team behind the program often hasn’t thought or written that far into the future.
Although I find it hard to believe, the creators of “Lost” said they knew where that show would end and even told a few actors. It still seems like they were making it up as the show went along.
Actors in the AMC series “Walking Dead” face a different challenge. The TV series is based on the popular comic book of the same name. That would suggest all the actors have to do is read the comics and they’ll know what’s going to happen. The problem is, the TV show writers are twisting and turning the comic book plots so no one’s history is etched in ink and paper.
It also helps in interviews when the actors don’t know what’s happening with their characters. It means pesky journalists won’t be able to find out spoilers. Michael Rooker, who plays Merle on “The Walking Dead,” told me not to worry about asking questions about upcoming episodes in the current season.
“Don’t worry about it. I don’t know where my character is going anyway,” Rooker says. “When we are shooting an episode, we only get the script for the next episode about half way through the one we are shooting. We are finding out stuff as we go along. We’re sort of going at it in an interesting way and it’s intriguing.”
It’s intriguing for him and annoying for others.
When I was young (and yes there was a time when I was young) it was always difficult to pick the right costume for Halloween. It needed to be scary but not hamper me from filling a bag with candy. Ghost is good. Mummy bad.
There are a couple of young actors who aren’t going to have a single problem picking the right costume this year.
During my talk with 13-year-old Chandler Riggs for the third season of “The Walking Dead” that’s currently airing on AMC, the young actor says that Halloween’s a breeze because of his role as Carl Grimes on the zombie drama.
“In the first season, because the show premiered on Halloween, I dressed up as the comic book version of Carl with the hat and everything,” Chandler says. Who better to play Carl than the actor playing the role?
He did have to switch costume gears for Halloween during the filing of the second season of “The Walking Dead.” Shooting didn’t wrap on that Halloween until 6:30 p.m.
“It was pretty late and an hour and half drive to get home. We had a hockey mask in the back of the car and so when we got home I threw that on and grabbed a pillowcase,” Chandler says.
The other young actor who has a natural costume is 13-year-old Natasha Calis. When I talked to her earlier this year for her spooky movie “The Possession,” she said that all she would have to do is put the letter E and a moth on her shirt and she would be ready to go. The letter is for her character name, Em, and the moth is for the thousands that attack her character in the movie.
For me, it’s probably another year going as Lou Grant.
It’s beginning to look like I should give up working from my desk and just ride the elevator at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles. Each time I’ve been on the elevator there, I’ve run into someone famous. This time it was Andrew Lincoln who plays Rick Grimes on one of the best shows on TV, “The Walking Dead.”
I tell Grimes that I’ve seen the first two episodes for the third season, beginning Oct. 14, and that the new season continues the high quality of the show. If you haven’t seen “Walking Dead,” the AMC show — along with “Breaking Bad” — is redefining the rules of television. In the second season, three major characters were killed, something that rarely happens in TV shows.
“We are all very proud of the work that’s being done on the show,” Grimes says.
The chat reminds me that Lincoln is one of the many British actors landing roles in American TV programs. It’s easy to forget his background when watching him kill zombies because he uses a Southern accent.
Another British actor, David Morrissey, joins the cast this season. He’s playing the Governor, a major character from the graphic novels that fans have been clamoring to see in the show. If you don’t know Morrissey’s work, track down a copy of “Viva Blackpool” or ‘Thorne.”
Before getting in the elevator, Morrissey told be there’s a voice coach on the set to make sure he has the proper Southern sound to his voice. Keeping the accent is easy for him because the series films in Georgia.
“I am surrounded by the accent wherever I go,” Morrissey says.
“White Collar,” 9 p.m. and “Covert Affairs,” 10 p.m., USA Network: Both series continue to provide first-rate drama and action. If you are already a fan of both shows, then you won’t want to miss tonight’s episodes as they are setting up some major story plot twists.
On “White Collar,” Neal (Matt Bomer) gets involved with a white collar fight club where traders fight for insider information. The only way the FBI will be able to get the evidence they need to convict the man behind the ring is for Neal and Peter (Tim DeKay) to get in the ring. What starts out as a choreographed fight ends up a real battle between the two.
This is an interesting story but the better part of the episode is the continuing efforts by Neal to find out the truth about his father. Treat Williams guest stars.
The real shocker comes on “Covert Affairs” when it’s revealed that a CIA agent has gone rogue. Sarah Clarke guest stars. This is a great episode for Fresno’s Christopher Gorham as he leads an investigation into what’s going on with his friend and fellow CIA operative Annie Walker (Piper Perabo).
Speaking of Perabo, if you want to see a very different side of the actress, check out the upcoming movie “Looper.”
Some actors just seem suited to star in period films. That’s certainly been the case with Romola Garai, whose latest acting time travel is the Encore two-part production “The Crimson Petal and the White.” It’s an adaptation of Michel Faber’s 2002 best selling novel set in Victorian era London. The first part debuts at 8 p.m. Sept. 10 on the cable channel.
In the cable production, Garai plays an educated and strong-willed prostitute who sees her relationship with a British gentleman as a way to improve her social status.
Before taking on the role in “The Crimson Petal and the White,” Romola appeared in such period works as “Atonement,” “Amazing Grace,” “The Hour” and “Nicholas Nickleby” as well as Kenneth Branagh’s film version of William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.”
She finds making films based on older books is far easier than those based on newer books.
“With adaptations of 19th century novels or Shakespeare’s, there’s usually a precedence in terms of other adaptations. I suppose the difficulty with ‘Crimson Petal and the White’ is that you are dealing with subject matter that people are passionately, passionately in love with, and it has never been adapted,” Garai says. “The only thing that gave me confidence, really, was that I have never worked on a project with a group of people who loved it as much as everyone who worked on the show loved the book.
“I felt like a unity with its audience because we were also fans of the novel, and we were really trying our best to do it justice.”
She wants the production to be liked but Garai has a very positive attitude when it comes to acting. If her performance is not well received there’s no deep personal sense of failure. The way she looks at it, people have short memories.
I’m not so sure about that. It’s really hard to forget her work in the 2004 clunker “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.”
“The Exes,” 10:30 p.m., TV Land: It’s a “Scrubs” reunion tonight as Zach Braff makes a guest appearance in the cable comedy that stars Donald Faison. The actors worked together on the network medical comedy from 2001-2010.
“The Exes” follows three divorced men who share an apartment across the hall from their attorney. Faison, who plays an agent, co-stars on “The Exes” with Wayne Knight and David Alan Basche.
In tonight’s episode, Phil’s (Faison) client, tennis star and notorious womanizer Chuck Feeney (Braff), needs a place to stays to get away from the paparazzi. He moves in with Phil and his roommates.
It turns out Chuck is more of a man’s man than a ladies’ man.
The episode of the American version of “Top Gear” that shot on the 1,800-cow Rollin Valley Farms in mid-July will be broadcast at 9 p.m. Sept. 18 on the History cable channel. It was originally to air Sept. 11 but the cable channel will be showing 9/11 programming all day.
A crew of about 25 worked three days here filming the show’s hosts — Adam Ferrara, Tanner Foust and Rutledge Wood — as they drove super-sized stock tractors in three challenges that included getting through an obstacle course, herding a calf and competing in a drag race.
“Burn Notice,” 9 p.m. USA Network: The worst thing about a cable series is that it often only has a short run of 10 episodes instead of the 22 shows in a network show’s season. It seems like only a few weeks ago new episodes of this first-rate spy series started and now the summer finale is on tap for tonight.
Former burned spy Michael Weston (Jeffrey Donovan) and his team travel to Panama to track down the man who gunned down his brother. No mission on this show has ever been simple and what transpires during their trek sets up big events for the next season of new shows.
Although “Burn Notice” remains a solid series, it has drifted away from the original story line of Weston being a guardian for those who can’t get help anywhere else. Those self-contained stories have been replaced by long-running plots that aren’t as interesting.
Even with that change of direction, “Burn Notice” is always fun and tonight’s explosive episode is no different.
Bryan Cranston was excited when he heard three million watched the fifth season opener of his incredible AMC series “Breaking Bad.” That’s a huge number in the cable world nd becoming a big number with network ratings.
Then the reality of the viewing numbers hit him.
“It’s still half the number of people that ‘SWAMP PEOPLE’ gets,” Cranston says during an interview for his role in the feature film “Total Recall.”
Each time he mentions the name of the History Channel series, Cranston says it loud and very slowly as to draw attention to the type of reality program that is beating his much-heralded scripted show.
“Swamp People,” the highest rated cable program on Thursday nights, follows a group of Cajuns in Louisiana’s Atchafalaya River Basin who hunt alligators. That’s it. That’s the entire plot.
“I was curious to see what ‘SWAMP PEOPLE’ was all about. I found it and watched ‘SWAMP PEOPLE.’ I thought no wonder six million people watch ‘SWAMP PEOPLE.’ These are grown men in the South who catch fish with their hands,” Cranston says. “And, I thought that’s pretty badass.
“I don’t know how many fish you need to catch with your hands in order to garner six million people but it’s pretty impressive.”
Cranston’s show may not be getting the ratings of the reality program, but a host of Emmy Awards and numerous other accolades for “Breaking Bad” mean his series about a chemistry teacher turned meth maker is going to resonate long into TV history after “SWAMP PEOPLE” is gone.
“Perception,” 10 p.m. TNT: If you have no interest in the Olympics or already know what’s going to happen because you looked online, then there are a few other viewing options worth your time.
One of those options stars Eric McCormack who’s entertaining in this low-rent version of “A Beautiful Mind” playing Dr. Daniel Pierce, an eccentric neuroscience professor with paranoid schizophrenia. In other words, he’s a college professor who between classes chats with those that really aren’t there. No, I’m not talking about his students. He sees imaginary people who help him solve crimes for the FBI.
In tonight’s episode, Pierce looks into a young man in a cult who claims to be hearing the word of God. It’s up to Pierce to decided if the young man is blessed or suffering from a life-threatening neurological condition. The FBI gets involved because the young man is part of an organization that may be scamming people out of their life savings.
The series is not that different from programs like “Numb3rs” or “The Mentalist’ where someone with a big brain gets called in to help the law. This one works because McCormack always looks about one blink from being a person who talks to imaginary people.
“Web Therapy,” 11 p.m. Showtime: It looks like the premium cable channel has become a safe haven for former “Friends” stars. This comedy series features Lisa Kudrow as a therapist who deals with her patients in three-minute via a webcam. The quirky series is a perfect fit for Kudrow.
David Schwimmer, Kudrow’s former “Friends” castmate, will appear in four episodes playing the son of a professor Fiona had a romantic encounter with in college.
Showtime is also the home for “Episodes,” the series that features “Friends” star Matt LeBlanc playing himself — or at least a TV show version of himself.
As for “Web Therapy,” other guest stars this season include Rosie O’Donnell, Conan O’Brien, Molly Shannon, Minnie Driver, Selma Blair and Meryl Streep.
“Web Therapy” isn’t as funny as “Friends. Neither is “Episodes.” But both provide laughs.
“Craft Wars,” 10 p.m. TLC: Just like me, you probably have been wondering why there hasn’t been a competition show that uses glue guns, glitter and odd pieces of cloth to determine a crafts champion. If you have been thinking that like me, then you have been watching way too much television.
Those of you who are serious about wanting such a show have had your wish come true. “Craft Wars” will do for decoupage what “Top Chef” did for bundt pans.
Tori Spelling, an actress who would probably agree to host a public flogging as long as she was on TV, is the host. She will provide the necessary (?) commentary as contestants — who are at the top of the competitive world of crafting — turn ordinary items into something that will be bedazzling.
Pull out those bags of scraps and thread a needle as you prepare to watch the latest in the unending string of reality competition shows.
The first time Oxford-born actor Hugh Laurie, star of “House,” accepted an award without using his American accent, many people wondered why he was using a bad British accent. Laurie’s not alone. You would be surprised how many actors from other countries are landing roles in American films and TV shows.
It’s not just viewers and critics who get caught off guard by an actor’s foreign background.
Mitch Glazer, creator of the wonderful Starz series “Magic City,” was having a tough time casting the role of Lily Diamond. He auditioned hundreds of actresses but none brought the magic he needed for this character who heats up the Miami area in the early ’60s.
“I had written this character to be kind of an Ava Gardner kind of character. But, Jessica Marais came in and she was blond, But she was so great. Her voice was just wonderful. At the end, she said good-bye with an Australian accent. I thought she was an American just doing an Australian accent and just figured she was just really good at doing accents. That’s when I was told she was Australian,” Glazer says.
All they had to do was change her hair color.
Casting is always a difficult process. It doesn’t matter how well a program is written or produced unless the right person is found to be the star of the show.
Now imagine what it was like casting the ABC Family series “Switched at Birth.” The show looks at what happens when parents find out they have been raising the wrong child and must adjust to life with their birth daughter who’s hearing impaired. The producers auditioned deaf and hard of hearing actresses for the role.
They found Katie Leclerc who has Meniere’s disease. It’s a problem with fluid retention in the inner ear that causes pressure in the ear, ringing in the ear, fluctuating hearing loss and attacks in vertigo.
She’s never felt like the disease was going to stop her.
“I never had that experience of feeling I can’t. I was surrounded by my parents who were so incredibly supportive from the very beginning that that was never a problem for me,” Leclerc says. “My experience as a hard of hearing actress is different on a day to day basis with the fluctuating hearing loss.
“I spent a lot of time in the deaf culture. I learned sign language in high school and just kind of kept up with it. And it was definitely a situation where I feel comfortable in the hearing world and I feel comfortable in the deaf world and I’m thankful that I can cross over.”
The producers were happy to find Leclerc and even happier they had decided to do a show that deals with hearing loss. Executive producer Lizzy Weiss says casting was an incredibly broad and emotional experience.
“People came in, drove in for hours, said thank you so much for writing this, for having a character who is so well rounded, who happens to be deaf, who is a full, real person who’s not just like a witness to a murder on another show,” Weiss says.
“Dallas,” 9 p.m. TNT: The Ewing family is back and along with them comes the same trials and tribulation that haunted the Texas family for so many years.
Patrick Duffy, Larry Hagman and Linda Gray reprise their roles joined by a second generation of schemers and dreamers played by Josh Henderson, Jesse Metcalfe, Jordana Brewster and Julie Gonzalo.
John Ross (Henderson), the son of JR (Hagman), wants to undermine his grandmother’s mandate of no drilling for oil on Ewing land. Christopher (Metcalfe), Bobby’s adopted son, hopes to take the family business in a new direction of alternative energy sources. Brewster plays Elena Ramos, John Ross’ girlfriend and Christopher’s former fiancÃ©e, while Julie Gonzalo is Rebecca Sutter, Christopher’s current fiancÃ©e, who is trying to find her place in the vast Ewing family tree. Former “Desperate Housewives” narrator Brenda Strong plays Ann, Bobby’s wife.
There are two big problems with the new series. When “Dallas” was dominating the airwaves in the ’80s, greed was good. In the current economic funk, it’s a little hard to cheer for people who have money and just want more.
The other big problem is the use of the cast from the first series. This “Dallas” should have focused on the next generation with only cameo appearances by the original cast. Instead, the original Ewings are up to their same antics. It was one thing for JR Ewing to be lecherous in the ’80s. Now, it’s really creepy.
Loyal “Dallas” fans will tune in out of a feeling of nostalgia. Unless the story lines change, efforts to attract new viewers will be a dry well.
Mandy Moore tells me that she had a very simple reason for auditioning to be the voice of Mara in the new Disney XD animated series “Tron: Uprising.”
“I know a lot of people take the ‘Tron’ world very seriously, and I take it very seriously as I venture into this project, but the only reason I wanted to do it originally was that my husband is a big fan of everything ‘Tron’,” Moore says.
Her husband, Ryan Adams, is such a huge “Tron” fan that the couple have a “Tron” arcade game in their home. Moore spends more time watching her husband play the game that grabbing the controller herself because she gets very anxious when she plays video games.
Moore didn’t tell Adams she was auditioning for the role and only revealed her “Tron” connection after she was cast.
“I thought it would earn me some brownie points at home and it has,” Moore says with a huge smile.
Moore also tells me it’s just a coincidence that the last two animated characters for which she provided the voice just happened to have cool hair.
In “Tangled,” her Rapunzel used her extremely long locks to do everything from swing through the trees to help with the cleaning. Moore’s Mara has a wild blue hairdo.
“I hadn’t thought about that but I am doing a Disney Junior show where I play a sheriff cat who’s also a cowboy. She doesn’t have any hair but wears a cute pink hat,” says Moore.
Moore feels “Tron: Uprising” is a little edgier than the script for “Tangled.” All you have to do is look at her character to know this is a darker animated story as Mara specializes in making deadly weapons and vehicles. She gets pulled into the battle against the programs who look to enslave her world.
And should she have any problems with the script, Moore knows exactly who can help her.
“Thorne,” 9 p.m. Encore: The cable channel is presenting the U.S. debut of this gritty and powerful crime drama starring the always remarkable David Morrissey. “Thorne: Sleepyhead” airs tonight and the second part, “Thorne: Scaredy Cat” will be shown at 9 p.m. Wednesday.
Morrissey is marvelous as the complex and quirky Detective Tom Thorne. There have been some flawed detectives in American cop dramas but none as broken as this one. It’s the strength of Morrissey’s performance that makes the character come across so real and powerful.
In “Thorne: Sleepyhead,” Thorne investigates a series of unusual attacks on young women. The first three victims are found dead but the fourth victim survives. The only problem is she’s lost a portion of her memory and is in a catatonic state.
The second part, also based on the novels by Mark Billingham, is equally as spellbinding.
“Conan,” 11 p.m. TBS: Conan O’Brien has taken his cable talk show on the road and will broadcast from Chicago this week.
His guests will include Adam Sandler, Jack McBrayer and Andy Samberg but that doesn’t matter. The real story is you can win a “Conan” T-shirt.
Thousands of free, fan-designed T-shirts will be given away this week. You can get a free T-shirts using secret codes revealed during this week’s episodes of the talk show. The codes can be entered into a virtual vending machine at teamcoco.com/freeshirts. Fans must have the secret code revealed during the previous night’s episode.
The shirts were designed by a combination of Chicago artists and “Conan” fans.