a few good men



Thanks to our wonderful friend and next-door-neighbor, the lovely and talented David Petrarca, we got to go onto the set of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and it was completely fabulous watching him direct one of the upcoming episodes. Easily the best television set I’ve ever seen (indeed, one of the best sets ever built, the workers assured me). They basically recreated an entire theater inside a warehouse studio on the Warner Brothers lot, and it’s like a jungle gym: every single room, every staircase, every nook and cranny can be used in the plot. It’s like an M.C. Escher painting filled with monitors.

I got to meet Aaron Sorkin, the Patron Saint of Smart Television, and see some of your favorite stars in action. David himself was terrific; laid-back and completely in control. I don’t know if you’ve seen any of the previews (or the pilot leaked on YouTube) but we’re super-psyched for the season. Set your Tivos to STUN, baby!

Which leads to today’s CODE WORD: Which new TV shows are you aware of, and which are you psyched to watch?

0 thoughts on “a few good men

  1. GFWD

    Looking forward to YOUR pilot.
    And Studio 60.
    The funniest commercial preview is the one for the OTHER show on NBC where they hired Alec Baldwin to be on Tina Fey’s show and he thought he was hired to be on Studio 60.
    The trailers for HEROES looks good, too.

  2. CP

    I’m respectfully abstaining, but David Petrarca is a very good director — as evidenced by a play he directed — The Water Children at Playwrights Horizons — which I saw in NYC as a junior in college. and Studio 60 might turn out to be really good, pilot was ok (teaser was best part IMHO), but the absurdly anarchic comedy of 30 Rock (as opposed to the more romantic tradition of Studio 60) is more my cup of tea. when I got my hands on the pilot, I watched it like 100 times. SOOOOOOOOOOO funny.
    ok, so I guess I’m not abstaining. people, season 4 of the wire premieres this sunday and the first ep. is already available on (HBO on) demand. do yourselves a favor and watch the best, most important show on television. it is simply criminal they never get any emmy nominations. I mean, chris bauer? robert wisdom? wood harris? amy ryan? andre royo? chad coleman? jim true? wendell pierce? everyone else? these actors are simply amazing.
    in conclusion, aaron sorkin’s pretty awesome, but the man doesn’t hold a candle to the rawness and anger of david simon.

  3. alan

    The comic book geek in me is looking forward to seeing the new show “Heroes”. Although I am skeptical if it will survive, since most of the shows I tend to like get canceled too soon, such as Surface and Invasion last season. Usually these shows have an outrageous budget due to special effects, but we’ll see.

  4. cullen

    Ditto on The Wire–best show anywhere for the last few years–riveting television. Didn’t know Wendell Pierce was a NOLA native; he was interviewed as a part of the Spike Lee Katrina “Requiem”. I can’t wait for Sunday night’s new season. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s real, really.

  5. the Other Lee

    I’m looking forward to Heroes as well and the return of the Office and Lost.
    alan, if you are a comic book geek like me you should be looking for the leaked pilot for “Global Frequency” if you haven’t already seen it. Talk about criminal, this show wasn’t even picked up but WB is just sitting on it making sure no one gets to reelase it or pick it up.

  6. Anne D.

    Definitely looking forward to Studio 60. I’m not a big TV watcher but recently got hooked (thanks to teenaged daughter with plenty of spare time on summer evenings) on “House” and “Prison Break.” My mainstay is L&O: SVU.
    Since I’m not an old-time Ian-insider ;-) I don’t know what your pilot is about, but would love to see it. I assume we will get a heads-up here.

  7. Bozoette Mary

    Of the new shows, I’m aware of “Til Death” (zero interest), “Studio 60” (definitely will check it out), and “30 Rock” (definitely will check it out). Those are really the only ones I can think of at the moment.
    I do hope that “Rescue Me” returns, though, and I’m looking forward to “The Sopranos” and “The Office”.

  8. Tanya

    Ian! My jealousy knows no bounds at this moment. Like The West Wing, I’m eagerly anticipating the premiere of Studio 60. Aaron Sorkin really is the man – drugs or not. How can you go wrong with a cast like that, too?
    As for the rest of the new shows, I was hoping you’d talk about them some. I don’t really catch commercials for them (ah, the advantages of DVR/Tivo) and would be up for a quick summary of the new ones.

  9. craighill

    i’m looking forward to the 5 hr miniseries on 9/11 that’s supposed to air on abc. of course the democrats are pushing hard to have the network pull the thing because it’s critical of clinton and his aides (in an election year).
    good lord. a network doesn’t want to air something that’s critical of an administration? have they seen their nightly fucking news in the past 6 years?
    oh i forgot, wrong side.
    “freedom of the press” (as long as we agree with you). liberals.

  10. thpride

    The Wire is, hands down, the best, most real, and most relevant show on television. Period.
    I got a little bit pissed off a couple of weeks ago when I read an article in the New York Times: “Generating Buzz in All the Right Places, ‘Entourage’ Fills a Gap for HBO” by Bill Carter. Here’s an excerpt:
    “Before the current ”Entourage” season started, Carolyn Strauss, the president of HBO Entertainment, called the series ”the future of the network.” The truth is there is not a lot of competition for that designation at the moment. ”Sex and the City,” HBO’s first great popular comedy, is long gone. So is ”Six Feet Under.” Besides ”The Sopranos” a batch of other HBO series are heading into their final seasons. ”Deadwood” will have just a four-hour coda next season.
    Even though its first season was both exciting and promising, HBO has already announced that ”Rome” will have just one more season. HBO managed to talk Larry David into bringing back ”Curb Your Enthusiasm” for one more go-round, but that will likely be its last.
    The drama ”Big Love” won wide critical acclaim in its first season, but its long-term prospects remain uncertain. Which leaves ”Entourage[.]”
    Don’t get me wrong. I love most of the shows the article mentioned, but in terms of substance, newness, realism, writing, research, casting, the whole nine, there is simply no question that the wire is the most important drama on television, pay or otherwise. In a way it’s almost ruined me for the new season and others to come, because there will undoubtedly be shows that I will definitely find highly entertaining (dramatically or comedically) and/or moving and/or thought-provoking as I have found with numerous shows in the past, but all of those will be lumped together with the wire set apart as the standard.
    so why the lack of attention? Interestingly, a past article in the NYTimes suggested that the wire was probably a bit over a lot of heads, that it requires more effort than an entourage or a sex and the city. Maybe so. But one of the wire’s creators has a different idea.
    “With such acclaim for avant-garde television, a number of critics and fans often raise the question as to why this particular show that Simon insists is not another police procedural, has not gotten the type of following expected. After all, critics are calling it one of the best shows on television, but even its return for a fourth season was up in the air for a moment.
    “I think there are a number of reasons,” [David] Simon suspected. “I’m going to be very blunt. I think one of the factors is that because we have a significant [African-American] cast, there’s a certain portion of America that will change the channel, and not in any sort of grandly venial racist way. But there are a lot of people that are going to look and see that many black faces looking back at them and they are going to say, oh, this is not my story.” It isn’t surprising that this would be the case, but if it is, sucks to be these non-viewers, what a loss for them, but whatever …
    At any rate, to answer the question, the dvr is set for only one show this season, and it’s not on tv, it’s on hbo.

  11. xuxE

    ditto on props to the wire, a hands down favorite in my house.
    i haven’t been paying much attention to new shows but thanks for the heads up on studio 69 and 30 rock!
    one thing i just have to ask though – what in god’s name is this new show with bo derek?

  12. CP

    glad to see a few wire people out there. on HBO, sopranos, big love and the comeback (RIP — way better than entourage) come close, as did the first couple seasons of sex and the city. (yes, I have no balls, I’m fully aware of this sad fact.)
    weeds is bullshit.
    and while we’re on the subject, here are some DVD picks: safe men, happy endings, city of god, made, starsky & hutch, the madness of king george.
    good weekend.

  13. DFB's&T's

    You heard it here first:
    The 2 shows that focus on the entertainment industry will fail and will fail badly. Sorkin succeeded with West Wing because everyone of all political stripes is intrigued by the inner workings of the WH, etc. However, I fear Sorkin, et al may have stepped on their duck on this one — most of us don’t really care how Hollywood or TV-Wood works behind the scenes unless it is someone we kinda/sorta know like Ian.
    Other than that, there is already a show that peeks at Hollywood (Entourage) and it is is more fun b/c it is on HBO. Actually, I think Entourage is more about the fellas than the industry, but you get my point.
    By the way, still waiting to get a link to a non-Leftie loon that thinks GWB intentionally screwed NOLA.

  14. Bud

    I feel like the Travolta character in Pulp Fiction: lately I’m vaguely aware that there’s this thing called television and that on it, they show shows, but that’s about the extent of it.
    Two of my co-workers rave about “Entourage” every week; I keep meaning to check it out but I’m usually doing something else (no Tivo. Maybe someday).
    I’ve been following “Lost” and lately I’ve been TV surfing instead of Web surfing in my limited spare time. I usually end up on a good movie (recent examples include “Double Indemnity” and “The Mouse that Roared”), or switching between music videos and something edu-taining.
    I’ve heard rumors of a pilot….

  15. eric g.

    “The Wire” is indeed the best show on television. I thought the writers made their first slight misstep in Season Three with the whole free-drug-zone plot; I felt like it strained credulity that the situation could have gone as long as it did before it leaked to the press and/or the higher-ups in police and city governance. In one way I suppose it pointed up the plight of those in economically blighted areas whose troubles are ignored; there have been some hideous things happening in New Orleans that no one in power seems to notice, either. But it still struck me as a little subpar after the tight scripts of Seasons One and Two. With that said, I can’t wait for Season Four. Other shows I’m looking forward to are “The Nine” and “Studio 60.”

  16. CP

    for once, dean could totally be right. then again, the reason 30 rock works is not that it’s a “behind the scenes” of glamorous showbiz, but that it’s a really good (if absurdist) workplace comedy, regardless of what the particular job is (cops, firefighters, paper merchants in scranton pa.) it also continues the tradition of things like the mary tyler moore show, busby berkeley musicals, and the plays of noel coward and george s. kaufman. I don’t know. I think it’s neat, and something my dad (a foreigner not in show business) might like. hopefully it’ll catch on.
    from what I’ve seen and read so far, studio 60 is a pretty good workplace drama, though I didn’t find pilot so much fun or captivating. could be interesting and maybe raise some cool questions about the state of our culture/opiate of the masses/media (a la network, the masterpiece on which it’s somewhat based), or it could also be, in the words of a friend of mine: “a really low-stakes version of the west wing.” credits/theme music is kinda funky. and it’s got a stylish, almost sexy vibe. but I don’t really buy the 3 stars of the show within the show as real TV stars, nor is it actually sexy, just almost. the whole thing kinda struck me as neither here nor there.
    (then again, I could be wrong. it might be great, 30 rock might suck. we’ll see.)
    blah blah blah.
    (good weekend.)

  17. cullen

    Bud mustB talking about Mt.Pilot, metropolis to Mayberry. Now there’s a show Ian–similar to the CSI series, we take the Wire to NC; imagine the Mt. Pilot metroplex invaded with inner city problems (in some areas the meth problem is the rural blight). Deputy Barney Fife (rip) and McNulty enlist all us Goobers in the war on drugz and thugz.
    Watch The Wire, and yeah, the drug-free zone was a stretch, but they’ve been intelligently operating in every periphery (the waterfront?), so I expect similar results this year.
    Heels will lose embarassingly. Do ya like my confidence?

  18. Claverack Weekender

    I watch basketball, Miffy, Sunrise Earth, and the Daily Show. Before this thread I couldn’t name a show in the Fall Lineup even if threatened with another 1995 Mavs season. Sorkin thing looks vaguely interesting, but I agree with the poster above: inside whitehouse = 10x inside hollywood.

  19. KTS

    The two new shows that I’m aware of, and interested (not psyched) in watching, are the two about the media: Studio 60 and 30 Rock, though for awhile there, it was confusing which was which… Which one is Sorkin involved with? Which one did the comic from SNL get switched to a different role for a blonde cupcake?
    The only one I’m really psyched to watch is Smith. Any show with Ray Liotta, the magnificent Virginia Madsen, and the beautiful and talented Amy Smart, must have something going for it. Plus, it’s about a group of super thieves! Who could ask for more?

  20. rebeccalowman

    CP — do you know that the wire’s rhonda pearlman (deirdre lovejoy) was in The Water Children of which you spoke at PH, directed by DP? if not, it’s cool to know, if so, sorry about that.

  21. CP

    bomb, rebecca lowman! totally! now we’re talking! and to answer your question, yes. from that play I distinctly remember her and an older actress named joyce reehling (as a cat) and ian’s pal michael mastro, who had a great scene at the end of the play as a japanese buddhist monk. (“which one your child?”) DL was also the last lil’ bit in the off-broadway how I learned to drive (post ML parker, jayne atkinson and molly ringwald) and the one I saw since they were in the final weeks of the run and papering the house and somehow I got in for free. (from what I remember, she and a guy named cotter smith — as uncle peck — were both quite good.)
    and really now, when it comes to old new york theater trivia, never ever EVER any need to be sorry. makes me feel nostalgic and slightly misty for my early 20’s/younger days, so thank you.
    PS — not to toot horn/namedrop, but cutty and stringer from the wire were each in something I wrote a couple years ago, pre-LA. cool guys and good actors, though chad is kind of from another planet, and as such has far better comic timing than idris.

  22. kent

    I’m most excited to find out about season 2 of “Sugar Rush”, UK Channel 4’s wonderful series about lovable foulmouthed lesbians in Brighton.

  23. Deb

    CP, we are “Wire” soulmates. I couldn’t agree more and couldn’t be more excited about tonight’s opener. I, too, am incredulous about the lack of Emmy nods/wins, but am really grateful that the show itself, seemingly always on the brink of cancellation, is not only still on, but is now the show HBO is (finally) banking on; the cornerstone of its original programming. With all the hype it’s been getting, this could be its breakout year.
    As for what I’m excited for: Lithgow? Tambor? “Twenty Good Years” had me at Lithgow and Tambor. The Heroes trailer (I saw an extended one on a United flight) does look insanely good, but I don’t know if it’ll hold up. I’m intrigued by ABC’s “Brothers and Sisters”, because of some cast members (Griffiths, Wettig, Field, Rifgin and Getty) and in spite of another (Flockhart). As for “Studio 60”, I’ve been reticent to jump on board, because it’s too soon for me to see Bradley Whitford as anyone but Josh. I keep thinking he’s on assigment at the tv show. I’ll give “30 Rock” a try. I’ve heard good buzz about “The Nine”, and if it’s after “Lost”, I’ll probably tune in. Similar interest piqued about “Ugly Betty”. The other show that looked neat was the defense attorney one with Victor Garber, but, as with Whitford, I keep wondering what Jack Bristow is doing there.
    Meanwhile, the “House, M.D.” season opener was wonderful. Everyone should be watching. And I’m in the middle of season 2 of “Veronica Mars” on DVD, which is terrific. Long live the British “Office”.

  24. Deb

    Craig–I’m just curious why you’d want to see a fictionalized retelling of something you (and all of us over the age of 5) lived through. I can understand dramatizing/fictionalizing a movie about the Revolutionary War, but when we have actual footage and actual people who survived, why on earth would you need to/want to “dramatize” it? Other than for political gain and false edification of the ignorant, that is.

  25. Deb

    Expat Mama–I saw the “Nip/Tuck” season opener, and McMahon is as hot as ever. The show is total junk food, and I’d never recommend it to anyone, but he is so ridiculously beautiful that I can’t look away.

  26. Deb

    THPride–Amen!! I couldn’t agree more with everything you said. I’ve watched all the HBO shows with the exception of “Rome”, “Carnivale”, and “Deadwood”. They broke my heart when they cancelled “The Comeback”. “Entourage” is good for a half hour of semi-junk food, but stops short of rotting your teeth with Jeremy Piven’s brilliant performances week after week.
    “The Wire” requires an attention span: the writing is dense and plot can be convoluted. It requires a commitment: you can’t pick it up in the middle, and it sometimes takes several episodes to get where it’s going. It requires trust and surrender: I wasn’t riveted from the series premiere (seen on DVD), but I’d heard you have to give it a few eps to catch on. I couldn’t be happier/luckier that I did. And with each season, each remarkable reinvention (I loved the Season 2 waterfront plot) it takes me awhile to figure out who’s who, what’s going on, where they’re trying to take me. But I trust that I won’t be disappointed, and I never have been. And, if you haven’t figured it out, I watch a LOT of tv. This isn’t tv. It’s on another plane.
    CP–nothing nutless about watching “Sex & the City”.

  27. thpride

    the drug zone was actually somewhat attempted by former baltimore mayor kurt schmoke who had a cameo in the wire, playing one of the people who the mayor called in to discuss whether the plan could work.

  28. david p

    ok..so ian was the perfect “set guest”. And the best next door nieghbor. oh..AND the best gift giver. he actually brought me a cupcake all the way from nyc, sealed in ziplock baggie and managed to sneak it through current airport security.
    top that one


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