Friday, August 31, 2012

Strap Yourselves In...

The ride's about to start.

Brian McCann Takes His Leave

There was a bittersweet moment last night on Conan. After seventeen years of "Preparation H Raymond" and "Minty The Candy Cane that Fell on the Ground" plus a long list of funny characters, writer/performer Brian McCann's final day on Conan was yesterday.  He's moving back to New York, most likely to create more funny things that will make people happy. Here's his send off:

As Conan mentions, you can view video clips of Brian's work over on

Thursday, August 30, 2012

So Long, Mike

There has been a wind of change in storytelling these days. No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood are recent films that have explored the ethos of the anti-hero, the villain we hate to love. We can't help it. In their world, there are monsters far worse, whether it's society baring down, or false profits who try to swindle them. 

Mike Ehrmantraut- one of the most intimidating elements on Breaking Bad left this moral coil last Sunday. Walter White killed him. In a few shots, the man we feared, maybe at one point hated, died in peace by a river bed. And it was devastating.

Those who watch the show can atest, Mike was one cold bastard. At least at first glance.  I'm not sure if Mike's backstory has been touched upon, but I don't care. I live by my own theories. In my mind, Mike was a veteran of the Vietnam war. He saw dreadful things that hardened his already hardened ass, cut like a diamond during his childhood on the hard streets of  'bad-side-of-the-tracks USA'. He has the survival instincts of a man who was a prisoner of war. He can take a bullet. Live on the lamb. Disappear if he had to.  After Vietnam he became a cop - a bad cop turned rouge. The kind of cop who would would mingle with evil minds, just to get the truth out of them. The kind of cop who fell in with the worst of the drug cartell, hoping to nab them, but ended up defending them because they gave him money,  money the police force couldn't, money he could save for his grandaughter.  This temptation made him spiral downward into the very thick of the muck.

He was a soldier for drug lord Gustavo Fring. Mike would kill anyone who proved a threat to the king. He had the opportunity to off Walter a few times, but was always talked out of it. Probably because among the immorality within this show, Mike had a modicum of heart. Perhaps that's what makes an antagonist into a villian we can get behind. Heart.  Daniel Plainview in Blood was motivated by greed, but what made us cling to his story? He was a devoted father, until the boy grew up and the truth of his relationship was revealed.  Mike's fatherly respect toward Jesse gave him that human side. Walt thought of himself as a father figure to Jesse, but he screwed with the young man's mind, all to keep him in the clutches of White Inc. Mike had Jesse welfare at heart. He knew he could do better than cook meth. He knew that they all had to get out of this game.

Farewell Mike Ehrmantraut. The DEA is no longer on your tail, and Walter White will no longer nag you into cooking meth.

Special kudos to the amazing Jonathan Banks, an actor supreme, who gave us this intriguing character.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Little Something For 'Community' Fans

Really nice video. Community moves to it's new day and time - Friday's at 8:30pm premiering October 19th on NBC.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Exclusive Interview: Kate Mulgrew Finds Her Funny Side

The day Kate Mulgrew returned to her hometown of Dubuque, Iowa to receive the Pioneer Spirit Award at the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival in April, it was almost her last day on Earth. After a calm takeoff out of Chicago O'Hare, the weather took a turn for the worst as the plane approached her destination. "We were flying in a soup!" the co-star of Adult Swim's NTSF:SD:SUV  recalls, the memory of this harrowing experience still fresh in her mind. "Dubuque is in a valley. But when we got close to the landing strip, there was zero visibility. The pilot tried to land and he couldn't get the nose down. We hit the tarmac, but we then went straight up like a rocket with the plane shaking side to side."

One can imagine how Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Starfleet Starship USS Voyager on Star Trek: Voyager, a role Mulgrew inhabited to much acclaim, would have handled such hideous turbulence: With steely eyed determination? Perhaps. But this was real life in the face of a massive storm, and the real Kate, who wasn't the Captain on this flight, was ready to meet her maker until the pilot gained control of the aircraft and landed safely. "Ten  minutes after landing, I was on stage getting this award! But, then to add insult to injury, I told the whole audience the story and said, 'Can you believe it? I almost crashed on American Airlines!'".

Why "insult to injury?"  The whole evening was  sponsored by  American Airlines. "Comedy of errors!" laughs Kate, obviously still shaken, but never stirred. (More on the Bond reference later.)

With forty years of hard earned stage and television work under her belt, (some viewers may remember her as Mary Ryan in the soap Ryan's Hope), it's a curious turn to see her join the ranks of alternative comedy on NTSF:SD:SUV, where she plays Kove, the eyeball challenged head honcho of the National Terrorist Strike Force in San Diego, a fun send up of the plethora of cop procedural shows that infest the network airways. 

I spoke to Kate about working on NTSF and this new genre of niche comedy Adult Swim is championing. She was charming, hilarious, charismatic and open to the world of the absurd.

Paul Scheer and Kate Mulgrew in NTSF:SD:SUV
You've done everything from Shakespeare to Star Trek Voyager to portraying Katherine Hepburn on stage. What made you join the NTSF team at Adult Swim?

Paul Scheer. He's beyond wonderful. I keep saying it, and I can't say it often enough or emphatically enough. He's a singular human being in Hollywood. Kind, generous, funny. He called me, and I had no idea who he was. He watched me on Star Trek and had this idea that I would be "M" 007, and he said "What do you think?", and I said "Is it lunacy?", and he said "Complete lunacy", and I said "I'm in."

Alternative comedians have such a sense of the absurd, which opens an outlet of creativity that doesn't fit within the boundaries of mainstream entertainment.

Well, I think Paul is held in great regard because every time I turned around in the second season, there was another terrific comedian. Everyone wants to work with him and for him.

Is there a little Captain Janeway in Kove?

No. Paul was thinking of Judy Dench in the James Bond movies. He was thinking of a serious female figure, so of course, he put an eyepatch on me.(Laughs)

Is there a back story on how Kove got the eyepatch? I don't remember anything eluding to the reason why she has one.

We haven't examined the back story, but Paul and I are always laughing about it. I think that I should switch the eye patch to the other eye! Maybe we'll have an episode about the history of the eyepatch!

Does Scheer keep the door open for you to contribute to a scene?

Oh yes, he's collaborative. He knows the best work must be collective. He listens to you with every part of his being. He uses what he can use. Never once does anyone feel less than necessary. He has that fantastic gift.

Does the cast come to you for acting advice, or how they should approach their character?

No, but they often look at me and say "does anybody know you're funny?" (laughs) because they know I've had a 40 year career as a legitimate actress, and it's so much fun to play with them and be, in their eyes, a comedian.  It's very freeing.

The show is so kooky, was there ever a time or a scene that was so over the top that you had to say, "Oh no, Paul I can't do this?"

I've never said I can't do it. I don't know how to say those words, but the chopping off of thumbs and appendages with a machete last season - that was very challenging. I did look at Paul and thought "Arrrgggh!" But you have to let it go. There is nothing precious. Nothing.

Trent and Kove have been married and divorced twice...

Right!  And we have two children Jericho and Cherokee. Neither of them speak, but they are karate champions.

Of course!  What else would they be? Do you think Trent and Kove will get married and divorced twice again?

Well, hope springs eternal! I think it would be brilliant, don't you? To be married and divorced twice in the same season - it would be brilliant. Someone actually does get married this season. But it doesn't last.

I hear that Kove now has a podcast? What kind of guests will she invite in for an up-close-and-personal interview?

We'll, she's less interested in sane people than she is in bizarre people. But Kove wants to be highly regarded by the team. She would give anything, her right hand and her left eye - her only remaining eye - to be part of the group. But she's so un-hip, and Kove is so desperate to be hip.

It's the whole aspect of her character, that off-center pattern of characteristics that make her so funny.

Right! And it's her self-importance. She just knows that she's never going to be invited to the party. Just like that whole episode in last season when they wouldn't invite her to a birthday party. She's obssessed.

Since NTSF and Childrens' Hospital pool of talent and producers are intertwined, has Rob Corddry ever asked you to make a guest appearance as Kove at Childrens? Perhaps in a NTSF/Childrens' Hospital crossover?

I don't know anything about that, but it sounds intriguing. It's the new wave, but I think Adult Swim has a pretty good idea what's amusing to every demographic. You should suggest that! (TVBlogster: If anyone in power is reading this...hint, hint.)

Any plans on returning to Broadway or the off-Broadway stage in the near future?

Yes, I'm doing a play in the Spring called Somewhere Fun, written by the very gifted playwright Jenny Schwartz, directed by Ann Kaufman. We go into rehearsals in April in New York. I've been working on this play, workshopped for them and with them, the last two years, and now we're going into the theater. I'm very excited. It's a dark comedy, but it's brilliant. The playwright is truly magnificent - a great, great mind. So come and see it if you can.

I would love to get back to New York to see it!

Well, Get your buddy pass and get on Jet Blue now!

For more on Kate Mulgrew and for updates on her upcoming projects, please check out her Twitter feed @TotallyKate and her official website

Monday, August 27, 2012

Matt Jones Cast in 'Office' Spin Off

If you've ever seen Matt Jones perform at UCBLA's Harold night on the (now defunct?) Improv team 'Flap Jackson', then you know that he's a talented and hilarious human being. If you're an avid viewer of Breaking Bad, you're familiar with Walter White's pimply meth head dealer known as Badger, the slacker who gets into scraps that are more humorous than scary.  Then you'll be as happy as I am to hear that Jones has just been cast in the Dwight Schrute Office spin off as one of Dwight's cousins. Because Schrute Farm will be lousy with weird cousins.

Although the need for a Dwight spin off seem a bit 'meh' to me, it will be nice to see Matt's talents continue to flourish on a larger scale.

Source: Deadline

Friday, August 24, 2012

SCTV Friday!

It's Friday, and I'm bushed. The heatwave, a pending move, lots of things on my to-do list has rendered me spent, exhausted, done.

So here's one of my favorite SCTV sketches. Ever. (Audio's out of synch, but still visually funny.)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

'Robot Chicken' Returns and 'Bob's Burgers' News

Robot Chicken's sixth season will premiere on Adult Swim on September 9th at midnight. The Emmy Award winning stop action series will offer the same absurdist hilarity and will include some familiar voices behind some legendary comic book super heroes. Creator Seth Green returns as Batman, Robin and Aquaman. Neil Patrick Harris will be Two-Face, Alfred Molina as Lex Luthor, Nathan Fillion as The Green Lantern, Megan Fox as Lois Lane and Breckin Meyer as Superman.  The forthcoming season will also welcome the voices of  Elizabeth Banks, Sarah Chalke, Kat Dennings, Sam Elliot, Patrick Stewart, Gillian Jacobs, Olivia Wilde and Jon Stewart.  And that's just naming a few because this press release I'm reading boasts a ton of celebrity appearances.

More animation news for those loving the underrated Bob's Burgers on Fox. As per Deadline, six more scripts have been added to the upcoming season, originally confirmed for thirteen episodes. This now bumps season three to nineteen funny installments of Jon Benjamin as Bob, Kristin Schaal and Eugene Mirman as the weirder of his three kids. This show also has a line up of famous guest voices in the can such as Megan Mullally, Kevin Kline, Nick Offerman, Zach Galifianakis, plus Sarah and Laura Silverman. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Paul Scheer and Rob Corddry's Worlds Collide...

The creators of Childrens' Hospital and NTSF:SD:SUV bring their imbred world of comedy to you.

Gene Simmons and His Brood

I saw Gene Simmons sitting in the commisary at work yesterday. There he was, the Prince of Darkness all by himself in a business suit, enjoying what appeared to be an amusing text message on his phone. He stood out among the employees, grips, gaffers and best boys eating their grub, his hair like Brillo and as black as the soul of the demon he is in the legendary band Kiss. Although the people around him were studio employees whose run ins with celebrities going from ADR suite to sound stage are a daily occurrence, there were still double takes, whispers of "Gene Simmons" and looks of  "wow". He sat at the head tables near the entrance where everyone could see him. It was as if his selection of seating was deliberate, as if he wanted the attention, basking in the glory as he ate his lunch.

A&E canceled his reality series Gene Simmons' Family Jewels recently. When the show first premiered, I couldn't understand why we needed to see another rock star living the dream. However, I watched with curiosity. The episodes seemed loosely scripted. Situations felt forced and fake, obviously manufactured by story producers and perhaps by Simmons himself. But something emerged through the silly set ups and the usual behind the scenes drama: Gene Simmons and his now wife Shannon Tweed raised the most awesome kids - Nick and Sophie. The whole family unit, despite pre-marital issues, parental conflicts and the rock and roll world in which they revolve, is pretty down to earth considering Simmons' proclivities. (He loved the ladies and visa versa despite pledging is troth to Tweed.)

As I walked by Simmons, I wanted to tell him how much I enjoyed watching his emotional visit to Israel, where he met his other family, the one his father made after he left his mother decades before. How touching it was to see him genuinely moved by meeting his half brothers and sisters who all had kids that looked like Sophie and Nick. I wanted to tell him how the tears he shed at his father's grave provided the most heart wrenching, real moment I've ever witness on reality tv. It wasn't an act. It wasn't just for ratings. This was heavy stuff.

But I went to the salad bar instead. The Demon is just too cool.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

'The Office' Season 9 Will Be Its Last

Executive Producer Greg Daniels has announced via conference call that his show The Office will be be wrapping up this coming season. As per, Daniels decided that since everyone will not be back for a season 10, the 9th season "... feels like the last chance to really go out together." Daniels said.

There was talk that The Office was going to reboot; however, as anyone who's loved the show can tell you, that's like restarting a very dead horse. This once wonderful show has been less than stellar in recent years, and to see it go out, with everyone still on staff, and hopefully a guest appearance from Steve Carell (with wife Holly and a baby in tow), would be satisfying.

Also mentioned is that we will FINALLY get to see the so-called documentary makers behind the scenes. My personal wish is that they deconstruct Jim and Pam's history. Every Office blog I've read has wanted to read what Halpert wrote to Pam for the Suprise Santa in season two's "Christmas Party" episode. Perhaps they've give us a peak into Jim's last day in Scranton before he moved to Stamford? There have been so many holes in that relationship viewers like myself are still pondering.

For more info on The Office and all follow ups regarding the final season, go to for all your Dunder Mifflin needs.  To read Daniel's announcement - go to

UPDATE: Jenny Tan from Office Tally comes through will detailed info. For those interested - follow this link.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Chris Gethard Gets Adopted

It was bound to happen. IFC has been green lighting off the wall projects from some of the most alternative comedians around, and they won't stop until they drop.  Chris Gethard is the latest to get a series for the cable channel, which is already home to some of the absurdist comedy around (Comedy Bang Bang, Portlandia, Bunk). As per Deadline, IFC's new initiative "Adopt a Comedian" is in full swing.  Created to seek out comedians with the channel's off center style, Chris has been nabbed as their first comedic talent to be brought under their wing.

IFC has ordered a pilot script of Gethard's book, A Bad Idea I'm About To Do: True Tales of Seriously Poor Juedgement and Stunningly Awkward Adventure. In addition, he'll host on-air programming intros and will create original content for

Now if they can only make our Chris fulfull his dream - picking up his public access show The Chris Gethard Show to series. This show is on Manhattan public access cable, and is crazy as Howard Stern and playfully odd like the old Uncle Floyd Show. Chris has mentioned in his blog that if he ever had a five year plan, that fith year would reward him doing that show as his career, even taking it to network. 

Looks like that dream could come true, one step at a time.

Friday, August 17, 2012

SCTV Friday

Perry Como has since passed away, but this sketch is still hilarious.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lorne Michaels, Take Note: VH1's New Cast Suggestions

SNL has taken a hit with the departures of Kristen Wiig, Andy Samburg and now Abby Elliott. This means one thing: SNL auditions and showcases in comedy clubs and theaters are buzzing throughout the land

VH1 provides a list of talented up and coming performers from the Upright Citizens Brigade that should be highly considered. This list is so fine, I am totally ticked off  that I didn't write it myself. Also, the fact that James Adomian, one of the funniest most talented comedians around, with a truck load of hilarious characters isn't already on this show (hello...he's living in New York now...) is pretty ridiculous.

And special props for the Sasheer Zamata suggestion. She's a member of the awesome improv group Doppelganger, one of my favorite performances at the past few Del Close Marathons.

Check the VH1 article here :

'Family Tree' to HBO & BBC Two

As per VarietyFamily Tree, the long awaited project by Christopher Guest and his collaborator Jim Piddock was just picked up straight to series on HBO and BBC Two. Starring Chris O'Dowd (Bridesmaids, The IT Crowd), the show will evolve around thel life of a man in his 30's who has no direction in life. His path changes when a mysterious box from an dead aunt he never met shows up, placing him on the course of discovering his ancestry. Guest will appear in the series. Tree will air on BBC Two in the UK. There is no word on when it will broadcast on HBO.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Where Have You Gone, Food Network?

Since today's is Julia Child's 100th birthday (see below),  I have a bone to pick regarding the world of foodie television.

Whatever happened to the Food Network? When did those days of cooking with Emeril, Giada, Paula and Ina in the cozy confines of a country or studio kitchen get lost in a programming schedule blocked with the same competition reality shows? In the glut of reality scheduling, how-to cooking shows on FN are hard to find, buried in the afternoon dead zone when no one is home, pushed aside by blocks of programming devoted to food competition.

Before all the Chopped fans rally to place my ass in a sling, hear me out. I'm not questioning the quality of these food competition shows. The food looks tasty or disgusting, depending on the dish. I understand the personal rush one gets in seeing talented cooks go nuts with ingredients specific to the challenge under a certain time. I personally enjoy watching Top Chef (yes, on Bravo) for that reason. I do like reality TV -  in small doses.

Yet, my once safe haven of recipes, delicious food porn and nice people like Sarah Moulton (who was sent back to PBS), has been replaced with judging panels, crying chefs, and bloody thumbs. Call it schedule overload, or call it America's need for speed. Tune in just about any time of the day, and you'll bump into another episode of Chopped, Iron Chef and Cupcake Wars, but no Barefoot, no Giada or Paula, whose shows are lost beneath the din of "Kitchen Stadium".

Furthermore, if I see another episode of Diners, Driving Ins and Dives, I'm petitioning the network to change their name to the"DDD Guy Fieri Network." 

Learning about food and how it's made is enriching. The overload of competition shows on Food Network, is filled to the rim and running over. Viewing potential chefs and bakers produce an edible delight under improbable time constraints with conditions their own judges have never faced? You've got to be kidding me. Food is to be enjoyed, not viewed through stress and tears. The average American can get that on a typical Thanksgiving dinner.

Even ABC's The Chew, a fun daytime show that features talk about food and style has allowed the Food Network format to pervade their hour with a competition element.

The Food Network shouldn't get rid of the all competition shows. They should just stop airing them back to back, or in an all week marathon, or on a virtual loop.  Until I actually find the Cooking Channel on my cable line up, it would be nice to see more straight forward food shows where people are actually cooking with care, without the musical sting, the snarky judges, or the talking head moments where competitors back bite each other.

I guess I'll have to go to PBS for my TV food fix.  Isn't that right, Julia and Galloping Gourmet Graham Kerr?

Julia Child's Centennial

If I could start my life again, I'd live it like Julia Child did. The lady was a firecracker, having dabbled in advertising, journalism and espionage (or so they say). But when she and her husband Paul Child moved to France, this curious housewife discovered the delight of fresh bread, open markets, and delectable meats, igniting her own passion for  a good french recipe. Child wrote a book and eventually kicked off the first popular cooking show The French Chef, which debuted on WGBH Boston in 1963,  that showed American housewives a portal to French cuisine and how to create it without intimidation. With good humor and knowledge, she'd teach viewers and readers alike to stare down that scary rack of lamb or to prepare that souffle with confidence. Child normalized the idea of creating fine cuisine at home because her methods humanized the experience, made it fun, the input imperfect and the output satisfying.

In Nora Ephron's article "Serial Monogamy: My Cookbook Crushes" (The New Yorker, February 2006), her love of Julia was apparent. She  drooled over Child's book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, considering it part of the holy trinity of cook books alongside Craig Claybourne's New York Times Cook Book and Michael Field's Cooking School. Ephron obsessed over these books, creating dishes for high placed friends, with the intent to impress. She'd have imaginary conversations with her icons, and imagined Julia being the nicest because when she dropped food on television, she'd pick it up and put it back in the pan. Even blogger Julia Powell was mesmerized by Julia's work by cooking every recipe in her book and blogging about the results. The work was adapted in the film Julie & Julia.

In her later years, Julia Child continued to appear on PBS, especially with chef Jacques Pepin. She passed away in 2004 just before her 92nd birthday. Today would have been her 100th, and what an amazing centennial it is.

Happy Birthday Julia Child!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Stage Shows & Podcasts That Should Be TV Shows

I don't profess to be a professional making creative decisions for television; however, after years of following live performances in New York and Los Angeles, I've seen some smart live shows, and have heard unique podcasts that could easily be developed for television.

It's already being done. Marc Maron's WTF podcast inspired his upcoming new series tentatively titled Maron on IFC. Furthermore,  Comedy Bang Bang,  originally a stage show (formerly Comedy Death Ray) evolved into a popular podcast, and ultimately landed as an IFC series.

So I got to thinking about the shows I listen to and attend on a weekly or monthly basis that would make fun television shows.

The Paul F. Tompkins Show - Largo at the Coronet Theater -  Monthly.

Paul's monthly show at Largo celebrated it's 10th anniversary in April. I hesitate to suggest that this special, intimate night of music, jokes, and sketch should be shared with a television audience. More people will bare witness to what only a few hundred get to see at the historic Coronet theater each month. However, Paul's ability to put on a live variety show with such grace and intelligence, bringing on some friends who happen to be major stars themselves to join in the fun (John C. Reilly, Fiona Apple, Pagett Brewster, Gillian Jacobs, Busy Phillips to name a handful) is a revelation. It has the sepia feel of vaudeville with a hint of Jack Paar in the honesty of his monologues and the Letterman quirkiness of his sketches. If you've seen his stand up on Comedy Central, you'll get an idea. Add in musical director Eben Schletter, and the show is pure magic. Paul's podcast 'The Pod F. Tomkast" is the cyber version of the stage show, and can be found on iTunes.


A rare video taste of the PFTompkins Show above.

Photo by Robyn Von Swank
Dead Authors - UCBLA

Another Tompkins project that would make perhaps a great TV special is  Dead Authors, a monthly show at the Upright Citizens Brigade that benefits 826LA, a non-profit tutoring center for kids 6 to 18 that encourages creative writing. The premise: Paul portrays H. G. Wells and time travels backwards to talk to  dead legends of literary history. Past performers have been Andy Daly as Edgar Allen Poe, James Adomian as Hunter F. Thompson and Scott Aukerman as Bram Stoker. It's all improvised and all for a great cause. Since kids are usually in the audience, Paul makes sure comedians tone down the naughtiness, so it's fun for all. It would amazing to see this as a PBS feature or something on Comedy Central where the power of telly would help raise money. The show is also recorded for podcast, and can be found on iTunes. Click through here.


This is a weird and wonderful podcast. Stars Matt Gourley, Mark McConville, Jeff Crocker and Jeremy Carter as doctors ready to explore the human mind. Each show unfolds with a variety of case studies (or sketches). The guests participate in bizarre vignettes as subjects with personality disorders that are so odd, you have to listen to believe it. Superego has also taken to the stage with live performances in Los Angeles. Guests have been Drew Carey, Jason Sudeikis and Patton Oswalt to name only a few. I'd love to see this on Adult Swim in a 15 minute per episode series, maybe alongside The Eric Andre Show. But that may be absurd overload. Their podcast is available on iTunes. Click here.  The website is

The Chris Gethard Show

This show started on the stage of the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York in 2009. It's has evolved into a public access show, taped live in the MNN studios in New York City. It's like Romper Room for hipsters, a Chuck E Cheez for overgrown kids. There are live calls ins, celebrity drops ins, a list of competitive games, and mayhem. A few years back, Chris started a Twitter campaign to Diddy to participate in his show. Fans got so vocal, that he actually showed up. The sad thing is - The Chris Gethard Show was pitched to network television, but was way too risky to actually produce. But I see this as another IFC vehicle. If the crazy game show Bunk  airs there, this might fit as a fun companion show.

So many great ideas out there, from stage to internet. With all the uninspired programming coming up this Fall, perhaps niche loving channels like IFC or Adult Swim can show some love for these comedy alternatives.

Some Reading:

'Welcome Back Kotter' Lost Another Sweathog

Ron Palillo, made famous by the television hit sitcom Welcome Back Kotter, died earlier today from an apparent heart attack in his home in near Palm Beach, Florida. He was 63.

Palillo's portrayal of Arnold Horshack was one of the most endearing and hilarious performances on television. For all the academically and socially challenged geeks and nerds shunned in school, Horshack was their avatar.  Likely to be bullied by the likes of a Barbarino, Washington or Epstein, Arnold was embraced by these bad boys. He was a proud member of The Sweathogs, his band of brothers who allowed him a voice. It seemed as though Horshack always wanted to be heard at school because he was never heard at home.

In Arnold's haven of  James Buchanan High in Brooklyn New York circa mid-1970's, when New York City was about to go bust, this nerdy kid (played by Palillo when he was 29), found his family.  And nobody could have created a character for young outcasts more funny and dear than Palillo.

Sadly, Robert Heyges passed away earlier this year as well. He played Juan Epstein, a Puerto Rican Jew who always had a note from his mother. For someone like me who is a Cuban Jew, he was like a long lost cousin.

Source: People Magazine

Monday, August 13, 2012

Funk Soul Brother: London Olympics Closing Ceremony

Photos from
After what seems like a good chunk of my life, the fortnight of sports galore in the lovely land of Britain, has finally come to an end. The closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London took place yesterday, and was a celebration of every mixed tape I ever created back in the 80's and 90's. 

I'm not much of an Olympics fan. If you've found your way to this blog looking for commentary on the Fab Five or Michael Phelps, you might have to go back to Google and try again.  The only thing I can offer on the sports side is that Phelps looks like John Krasinski's pumped up sycophantic twin removed at birth, and that Water Polo and Badminton are fun past times at picnics, but why does Olympics allow activities you signed up for in summer camp?
Have a clown phobia? Then synchronized swimming wasn't for you.
But I did enjoy seeing ladies gymnastics, even though I can't tell you who's who. Also, London did a gorgeous job in both opening and closing ceremonies, my favorite, being last night's extravaganza, what I did see of it.

The word on the majority of twitter feeds seems to be how NBC screwed up the broadcast of the London Olympics. Time zone issues forced them into editing down events and spoiling results. The network did not provide online streaming of real time competition so most viewers had no choice but to tune into disjointed coverage usually paused to view Ryan Seacrest or Bob Costas talking about stuff no one wants to sit and hear . There were too many commercials and NBC prime time promotion interrupted the action, especially last night during the airing of the closing ceremony.

Last night I was in a triple threat of distraction with Breaking Bad blowing my mind in on AMC and the ribaldry of Roseanne Barr's line up of filthy jesters on Comedy Central. However, I did tune into the Closing Ceremony to watch fabulous musical performances marred by poor audio levels and edited bits that left out performances of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill", the Kinks, and apparently The Who.

Tributes to British rock shook the house. Russell Brands weird Willy Wonka/Magical Mystery Tour was enlivened by wondrous pyrotechnics and a flourish of psychedelic color as though London was giving the entire world a big LSD trip. Oasis singing 'Wonderwall' was fun because, despite Noel Gallagher's voice sounding rough, I adore the song. Fat Boy Slim doing his medley of dance floor hits on a giant octopus was eccentric and amazing. Then, The Spice Girls came out to tell us what they want what they really really want, when all I really wanted was to see them fall off the roofs of the cabs they were on in cartoon like fashion, unharmed of course.

 A tribute to David Bowie made my heart race, only to find out that Bowie wasn't actually there  Comedy icon Eric Idle of Monty Python's  rousing rendition of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life", had the word "shit" bleeped out because hearing that word means Satan will come in the night and steal American souls and then leave the back door open for the nosy neighbors to have sex on our kitchen counter tops.

So absurd, exhilarating and heady, with flashes of happy athletes dancing and celebrating, NBC decided to interrupt this amazing ball of British fun and give the American viewers a fifteen minute sneak peek of their upcoming Fall show Animal Practice followed by local news.


Record scratch, cat screech, whatever sound effect you want, place it here.

I have nothing against Animal Practice. It's a network comedy that involves a few people on staff that I've enjoyed at The Upright Citizens Brigade. I wish it no harm. In fact, I hope it does well. But I fear that NBC stopping dead in the middle of a celebration to air a preview of a new Fall sitcom pissed off the audience and killed off potential viewers. That's a crying shame. Because if people don't watch this show, they won't see the hilarious and bizarre Betsy Sodaro, or the dry wit of Matt Walsh, two comedians I'd like to see more of on telly (Betsy's a newbie. Matt can be seen in HBO's Veep.) Furthermore, NBC also interrupted competition a few days ago to provide a sneak peak at Matthew Perry's new Fall sitcom, Go On, irking a few viewers.

The British put on a wonderful show for the world to see. It's a shame that NBC doesn't care about viewer's reaction to the quality of the coverage.  Sadly, television networks don't broadcast programming for it's quality, the do it for the money. NBC paid one billion dollars for exclusive U.S. rights to broadcast the Olympics. They are committed to selling ad time, and advertisers want to have their products seen during prime time, meaning NBC has to mold the day's events into truncated, watered down coverage. The BBC, an non commercial entity, provided comprehensive coverage worldwide to those able to access it. This means timezone differences were also in play; yet, their broadcasts are being lauded as the best.

I look forward to the day when more options are available to view the Olympics, sending a message to NBC that the viewers they care so little about can take their eyeballs and money and go elsewhere.
Sources and other bits of interesting reading:

How You'll Watch the Olympics in 2016 ->


New York Times


Breaking Bad "Dead Freight"

Breaking Bad is killing me. When it's not being absolutely jaw dropping good, it pisses me off.  Why? I want to see Walter dead.  I want Jesse to turn on him, get out from under his thumb. I want to finally see this once hero, now toxic monster drug man, get his comeuppance in such a way, that it will make Gus Fring's death in the nursing home look like an episode of The Golden Girls. (Imagine Sofia as Salamanca ringing that bell.)

One fascinating element of the season so far is the situation Skyler is in . She's now trapped by her own mistakes, living with a monster who is so full of his own danger, that he moves back in without warning, and tells little mind fucking tales to the family to make her seem unstable. Danger is in her home, nipping at the heals of her children to the point where she must bow to his mind games and feign mental illness to get Holly and Walter Jr. out of the house. It's a sad and fascinating character dilemma, having her chose to live with a poisonous force in order to protect  her kids and her own nasty secrets.  This is a riveting stuff.

However, Walter and Jesse's solid track record of getting out of the most impossible scrapes has become extremely frustrating. It's my hope that creator Vince Gilligan is making Walter so invincible that his ultimate fall is mighty. Walt has gone from being a Mr. Nobody to an anti-hero to a toxic asshole. Something has to happen to tear him down, and apparently, as the first scene from this current season shows, Walt is on the run. Something bad has undoubtedly happened. One of his high minded, ridiculously dangerous schemes must have gone awry. Perhaps Jesse cracked, and is after him? Is Hank, the affable brother-in-law and a high member of the DEA, now on his trail? (It's interesting to note that Hank's sudden promotion in the DEA which removed him off the case, is highly suspect. Is there an influential element in his branch that wants him out of the picture? Remember, when he told them that Gus Fring was a drug lord, there was a hint of uneasiness from his colleagues - as if they were protecting Gus by not believing him.)

Masterminding the murder of Fring in last season's finale was masterful and exhilarting. Jesse and Walt hiding in a truck and using the power of magnets to wipe out a computer hard drive containing incriminating evidence inside a building - pretty cool. But robbing a train carrying a giant tankful of methylamine? Come on. The more this man succeeds in doing the improbable, the more it feeds into that monstrous ego of his, and falling flat on the viewers who hate his damn guts. How can you root for a man who is doing horrible things and continues to win the day doing something more horrible?

With the help of Todd, the robbery was a stupid success. But when one little boy on the hunt for tarantula's gets an eyeful of what they did, the final moment may hopefully, somehow, be their undoing.

Because I can't take Walter White and his Heisenberg bullshit anymore.  And you know what? That's a good thing. Gilligan is playing with our emotions, giving us a new lesson in the mythological archetypes of storying telling. A hero doesn't always win us over. A hero may be someone we will ultimately want to see dead. 

Having said that, Walt's bad karma needs to show up soon and provide him a barrel full of whup ass.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Speaking of funny ladies, this is probably the first comedy sketch I saw as a child that made me love comedy for its cleverness rather than just the laughs. It may have lost a bit in terms of the surprise factor, but I think it still holds up. Here's Andrea Martin and Catherine O'Hara from the early days of SCTV.

'Above Average' and Puddin

Not too long ago, Broadway Video, the production company that brings you SNL and so much more, launched Above Average, a new comedy channel on YouTube. The channel provides original, fresh baked comedy from their brains to yours, and features both new and familiar faces in the comedy world.

I previously posted one of their funny shorts, Belle and Bernice: Living in the City. Here's another series starring Abby Elliot called The Assistant. This interview episode is very near and dear to my heart.

Also on YouTube is the Puddin Strip channel: Check out Puddin', a weird and twisted series of comedy shorts created by Matt Oswalt, starring Eddie Pepitone and a host of guest stars such as Patton Oswalt, Tom Lennon, James Urbaniak, Dana Gould, Weird Al Yankovic, Steven Webber and Robin Williams.

Comedy Central Roast: Roseanne

She's outspoken, crass, ballsy and never suffers fools. Roseanne Barr's day has come. On Sunday, August 12th at 10pm ET/9pm CT, Comedy Central's roasts Roseanne in a special night of mud slinging, nasty language and revenge. And that's just from Roseanne alone.

In the pantheon of female comedians who've made a difference in television, Roseanne sits alongside Lucille Ball, Mary Tyler Moore and Carol Burnett as a lady who has made a mark in American Television. But all lady stuff aside, she stands alone as a fine comedian.

Although Barr's so-called uncouth and loud behavior may not have sat well with some members of the entertainment establishment, Roseanne was ground breaking television. Refreshing, honest and hilarious, the Connor family provided a voice for blue collar America, standing as a symbol of the everyman and everywoman who struggle to maintain their sanity while earning just enough to keep a roof over their heads and their kids safe.The writing was sharp and loosely based on Barr's own life as a wife and mother struggling to get by. It also dealt with touchy matters that network television wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole, such as domestic violence, gay rights and infidelity.

Behind the scenes, Barr was met with hard challenges as her personality clashed with others, earning her a reputation of being a queen bitch. But lets face it, as Tina Fey (another groundbreaking funny lady) once said, "Bitches get things done."

The Comedy Central Roast was taped a few weeks ago in Hollywood and was hosted by Jane Lynch. Those who joined in on the jabs were Jeffrey Ross (no stranger to the art of the Roast), Amy Schumer, Anthony Jeselnik, Seth Green, Katey Segal, Ellen Barkin and Carrie Fisher.  In a bittersweet twist, ex-husband Tom Arnold also joined, and apparently behaved, something Roseanne appreciated and trashed regardless.

Speaking of funny ladies getting comedy done, keep your eyes open in 2013 when Amy Schumer's new Comedy Central show premieres. Amy's series will be comprised of single camera shorts featuring an exaggerated version of herself. Knowing her comedy, it will be nuts. Schumer's project includes funny lady Tig Notaro, who will be joining her writing staff in New York. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Jon Hamm...Jon Hamm..

...oh and Lena Dunham!  The lady is on a roll. Dunham, the creator and star of HBO's Girls directed a promo for a new app launched by The New Yorker. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

NTSF:SD:SUV: When Ordinary Cops Won't Do

Paul Scheer and his team of funny men and women bring you a world where cops have perpetual five o'clock shadows and lady detectives wear only the coolest of casual pant suits. NTSF: SD:SUV is back, tomorrow night on Adult Swim at 12:15am after Childrens' Hospital. 

Now that CSI: Miami is a ghost, David Caruso can shine the shoes of Trent Hauser, a bad ass detective of the National Terrorist Strike Force: San Diego: Special Utility Vehicle.  Along with Trent's crew of special agents, lead by Kove (Kate Mulligrew), the members of the NTSF destroy villains with such fierce skill, Alan Rickman will poop his pants.

What a season it's going to be. Watch this show and be treated to a 21 Jump Street spoof as Trent and Piper go undercover as high school students to capture a kidnapper who abducts bullies. Stick around for Alaskan native Alphonse, an NTSF special agent and former member of NTSF:AK:CANOE team, as  he reconnects with his evil father who places his partners under a spell with large doses of salmon. See cameos by Aubrey Plaza, Ray Liotta, and Jay Johnston. Stick around for Rob Riggle, President of the Navy. I love this show, but from what I've seen, season is going to be even better than season one.

One more time: NTSF:SD:SUV season two premieres Thursday at 12:15am on Adult Swim. Watch it nerds!

Elementary: A Love Letter to the Perfect Sherlock

This fall, CBS will premiere Elementary, the latest adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's brilliant master sleuth Sherlock Holmes. Starring Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes and Lucy Liu as Joan Watson....

What? Wait a minute.

Joan Watson?

Okay. I'm taking myself off TV blogger autopilot. When American television starts to tamper with the beauty of Doyle's amazing mastermind Sherlock Holmes, I take umbrage. Yes. Umbrage. It's an outrage. I clutch my pearls and raise my monocle with a sneering eye to you, Sir CBS.

As a long time fan of the Granada Television's The Return of Sherlock Holmes series (1984-1994) starring Jeremy Brett as Holmes and Edward Hardwick as Dr. Watson (originally portrayed by David Burke), any other non-Brett version of Doyle's canon makes me uneasy.

This is the ultimate in buddy stories, and Brett's histrionics in his portrayal of Holmes fit like a velvet glove over the characteristics of this fictional, self made detective. Brett knew how to harness the deep dark vat of mystery that was Holmes. He made him manic depressive, hyper, dark, histrionic, sexually ambivalent, difficult, intelligent, a first rate chameleon. His chemistry with Hardwick was perfection. Indeed, Hardwick portrayed the side kick to Holmes with wit and intelligence. Dapper, father-like, he was the yin to Holmes' yang. An injured veteran of war, he returned to London after fighting in Afghanistan in search of a room where he could convalesce. When he answered an ad for a room at 221b Baker Street,  Holmes befriended him in that prickly way of his, and ultimately grabbed him by the lapel to collaborate on sleuthing 24/7.

The production values of the Granada series was serious business. Much care was taken by the production staff at Granada in bringing Victorian London to life with realistic Baker Street sets, wardrobe, and a romantic, sepia color corrected feel to the project.

Years went by. Then BBC gave us the wondrous, modern day version, Sherlock, starring the wirey and handsome Benedict Cumberbatch as the Holmes of today, with the lovely, funny Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson.

For a Brett-Sherlock fan such as myself, Cumberbatch as the intense, neurotic wonder boy whose handsome visage and deep darkness also slips on like comfy slippers. His symmetric, sharp features underscores Holmes' genius. One gets the sense that Sherlock is the grown up version of a once petulant child, an outcast, an anti-social wunderkind, most likely met with curiosity and scorn by the boys at Eton or Cambridge. Freeman, who portrays a Watson, also back from Afghanistan, wounded and confused about his next step in life, is the level headed one, the opposite of his stolid partner. He's the human heart to Holmes' ever-thinking brain, as they solve crime with the help of an iPhone and GPS.

The concept of Sherlock and his world can be analogous to Doyle's creature, much like a Shakespearean play. The themes are universal. The players can be beamed down into any period, but the stories, the human emotions and the crimes will never change - just the wardrobe and points of cultural and technological reference differ.

So, why do I claim the Holmes stories can be analogous to today's world, yet bristle over the CBS version?  Because taking one of the greatest buddy stories in two centuries and making one member of that pair a woman, changes the dynamic of what makes Sherlock Holmes terrific. Because making Sherlock a modern day genius wrapped in a GQ-like bad boy, drug addled persona doesn't fly with me. Because the possibility of the same old boring sexual tension that will inevitably happen between Lee and Liu will complicate a good mystery.

I'm sorry. Cannot compute. CBS,with all the writers banging down their door to get a script bought and developed by you, this is what you come up with? A twisted version of Doyle's characters, when the BBC has it covered? I love that you shoot Person of Interest, Unforgettable and the now canceled A Gifted Man in NYC. So, producing Elementary in New York get s a thumbs up from me. But, I'd rather see this drama as a stand alone cop procedural perhaps using the concepts that Doyle wrote in a more self aware way. Why not have the protagonists use their dog eared copies of his books when deducing a crime?  Oh wait. Why would you take advice from a nobody?  Sorry.

What's on tap for mid-season? A modern day version of Downton Abbey? Betty White as the Dowager and Oliver Platt as Bates, set in modern day Los Angeles on a Scientology compound in the Hills?

Oh wait. That may be a good idea.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Political Commentary From 'Childrens Hospital'

Season 4 Premieres on Adult Swim, August 9th at Midnight, followed by a new season of NTSF:SD:SUV.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Tig Notaro Will Kick Cancer So Hard...

You know when life throws you a curve ball, and you're dealing with major challenges that test your mettle? Last night, comedian Tig Notaro, one of the most intelligent, terrific comedians today, announced that she has breast cancer during her monthly show at Largo in West Hollywood. She doesn't have cancer in one breast. She has them in both.

Within the past few months, tragedy has knocked on her door a little too often. She broke up with her girlfriend. Her mother died when she fell and struck her head. She developed a virus that put her in the hospital, making her drop 30 pounds of unnecessary weight off her already small frame. Now this.

But Tig is an awesome creature. She will get through this. And the entire comedy community (comedians and fans alike) is pulsating with pure, unadulterated love and good wishes.

Here's an account of her announcement via Tumblr from a witness in attendance.

Here's Tig, being hilarious and absurd on Conan. It's a beautiful performance, and what makes it extra special is that Tig is surrounded by friends Andy Richter, Conan and comedian Paul F. Tompkins, who was a guest that night himself.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Walter White's Transformation

While doing some research on Breaking Bad, I stumbled across this stunning tribute video on YouTube. Although I don't usually post fan appreciate clips, this one provides a unique view on the Walter White's transformation from mild mannered shat upon chemistry teacher who has lung cancer, to meth cooking, blood thirsty, greedy monster, who probably still has lung cancer.

Nice work Daniel Thomas McBride.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

'Celeste and Jesse Forever'

Rashida Jones and Will McCormack, writers and stars of Celeste and Jesse Forever once dated for about two weeks in the 90's, and then realized it wouldn't work out. Instead of saying goodbye, they redefined their relationship into an everlasting friendship that ultimately lead them into writing a screenplay about just that - friendship after breaking up.

With noisy Summer blockbusters busting up screens in Cineplex's everywhere, it's refreshing to note that Celeste and Jesse Forever was filmed in 23 days with a budget under $1,000,000,000, and has a bittersweet story to tell. It's a look into the lives of two soul mates who grew up together, married young, and at the age of 30, decide to split up when their professional lives flew in different directions. Their divorce is their own personal test to see how they can grow as adults. For all it's adorableness and fun, sexy moments, the film reveals heartbreak at its worst. Brace yourself if you're in the midst of a painful breakup and still picking up the pieces of your broken pumper and the empty vodka bottles strew across your floor.

Former SNL cast member Andy Samberg stars alongside Park's and Recreation's Rashida Jones as the Jesse to her Celeste. Also starring Chris Messina, Elijah Wood and Ari Graynor, Celeste and Jesse opens in limited release in Los Angeles and New York tomorrow, Friday August 3rd.

Check out Rashida Jones' interview with It's a fascinating chat about how her film touches upon relationships in the post-feminist era.  I won't go into a analysis of how women today are being ignored by the men whose idea of love is to seek out, date and bang a girl who looks like Olivia Munn, so I'll end it with a beautifully perfect quote from Jones:

"We’re going through a major evolution, and men haven’t had the same evolution. At some point we’re going to have to do something to bring them along. What are they doing? Get it together! We’re going to have an entire generation of smart, stable successful women go without men, because they’re just playing video games and dating younger girls"

Visit the film site: 

Watch the Trailer: