HBO launches the five-part series “Parade’s End” at 9 p.m. tonight. The co-production with the BBC is based on Ford Madox Ford’s series of books about the lives of the ruling class during World War I. The scripts have been adapted to television by British playwright Tom Stoppard (“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”).
The premium cable series stars Benedict Cumberbatch (“War Horse”) as Christopher Tietjens, a man dealing with a failing marriage during a time of great unrest in the world. Cumberbatch talked about being part of the cable production during the television critics tour.
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.
The “28th Annual Television Critics Association Awards” were presented earlier this evening at the Beverly Hilton. The TCA includes more than 200 professional TV critics and journalists from the United States and Canada.
HBO’s “Game of Thrones” was selected Program of the Year while Showtime’s “Homeland” was named Outstanding New Program.
Other winners included: Individual Achievement in Drama: Claire Danes; “Homeland”; Showtime Individual Achievement in Comedy: Louis C.K.; “Louie”; FX Outstanding Achievement in News and Information: “60 Minutes”; CBS Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming: “So You Think You Can Dance”; FOX Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming: “Switched at Birth”; ABC Family) Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials: “Masterpiece: Downton Abbey”; PBS Outstanding Achievement in Drama: “Breaking Bad”; AMC Outstanding Achievement in Comedy: “Louie”; FX Career Achievement Award: David Letterman Heritage Award: “Cheers”
If all you watch are Adam Sandler or Jason Statham movies, you might not fully appreciate the level of skill it takes for an actor to find just the right tone for playing a role.
No one wants to see a film where Gandhi acts like a teen-ager at band camp nor do you want to see the Three Stooges portrayed as if they were pupils of Albert Einstein.
The challenge is bigger when an actor gets a role based on a real person who already is larger than life. That’s one reason there’s been so few good portrayals of Marilyn Monroe on film. She was bigger than life but also a real human being.
Clive Owen faced such a problem with playing Ernest Hemingway in the HBO film “Hemingway & Gelhorn.” You can’t play Hemingway — a man by all accounts loved to live life — passively. But, go too far and the performance becomes a caricature.
“I think it’s possible to go over the top playing any part, really,” Owen says. “When I took this on, it was a huge challenge. And I took a lot of time off before, to get ready for it. And I sort of did a lot of research. I read everything. I immersed myself as much as I could.”
“There’s a danger in playing any part that you go over the top. But we had such a brilliantly written script. It was so smart, and intelligent, and sensitive — and nuanced, that it was a case of just trusting the material and committing to that, really.”
It’s a good acting tip some of Owen’s peers should consider.
Melissa Farman gets to play the second most famous Palin on the planet portraying Bristol Palin in the HBO film “Game Change.” The movie, that debuts March 10, looks at the emergence of Sarah Palin (Julianne Moore) during the 2008 presidential campaign.
“Playing Bristol Palin at first was very daunting,” says the young actress best known for playing the young Danielle Rousseau on ABC’s “Lost.” “That was because I had to get beyond the political to the personal. I think it was so hard for a young girl, who just found out she was pregnant, to be thrown into this limelight. It is hard enough to be a teenager. Try being a pregnant teenager and going through that ordeal.”
Farman concentrated on the Bristol pre-”Dancing With the Stars” because the actress believes that’s when Bristol was the most real and has created a character for herself since then. In both cases, Farman found a great compassion for Bristol and hopes that comes through in her performance.
The 21-year-old New York native faced a different kind of limelight when she was Bristol’s age as she began her acting career at 10 when she was accepted as the first child into the exclusive Bilingual Acting Workshop for professional actors in Paris. Since then, she’s worked on TV shows – “Cold Case,” ‘NCIS” – and the TV movie “Temple Grandin.” She will play Joan of Arc in the TNT series “Perception” when it airs this summer.
Being in “Game Change” is a perfect fit because Farman is currently enrolled in USC’s Thematic Option Honors Program majoring in Political Science and English Literature. If that wasn’t enough of a political tie, her mother’s godmother was Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
“I was reading ‘Game Change’ a few months before I auditioned for the film. It was really interesting to see that parallel between politics and entertainment unfold,” Farman says. “The film and book are very representative of how the media has changed the political sphere. The game changer today is the media in the sense that politics have become entertainment and the personal lives of candidates become their venue. They are being groomed from being a person into a politician into a pop star. Sarah Palin’s campaign very much showed that for the first time in contemporary politics.”
Since it’s now July, I’m in full-on anticipation mode for new “Entourage.” My favorite HBO show (now that “The Wire” is R.I.P.) returns July 12. If this minute-and-a-half clip is any indication, looks like Vinny Chase and the gang are doing pretty well for themselves as we start Season Six.