<p>&quot;The Summit&quot;</p>

"The Summit"

Credit: Sundance

Sundance Review: K2 doc 'The Summit' never quite peaks

A terrifying mountain-climbing story becomes a jumbled film
Grad school degree and decade-plus of entertainment journalism aside, there are many film industry jobs that I must confess I don't completely understand.
 
I can tell a gaffer from a grip from a best boy, but I'm not sure I could explicate the role of the "writer" on a documentary film. In some cases, it's simple, I suppose. If there's a voice-over or on-screen text, I get that somebody writes that. I don't know, though, if a writer on a documentary has a role in shaping the storytelling approach. I don't know how a documentary writer comes to be associated with multiple films that aren't connected in subject matter, production or filmmaking team. What makes somebody a good "writer" on a documentary? And what makes somebody a bad writer on a documentary?
 
I suspect it varies and that sometimes a documentary writer is just the guy providing the text that isn't coming from talking heads and that sometimes it's a more involved role. 
 
The nature of the documentary writer is one that I'm musing on today, because I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever noticed the same documentary writer's name recurring in a short span. 
 
Mark Monroe wrote Marc Silver's "Who Is Dayani Cristal?," which I reviewed after its world premiere on Thursday (January 17) night at the Sundance Film Festival. And there was Mark Monroe's name on Nick Ryan's "The Summit," which is also in the World Documentary Competition here at Sundance.
 
Again: I don't know what Mark Monroe actually did on either "The Summit" or "Who Is Dayani Cristal?" Both documentaries are examples of fantastic stories at least somewhat undermined by the storytelling approach, though neither film is undone by voiceover or on-screen text, per se. So I'm guessing that Mark Monroe isn't to blame for anything I disliked in either film, but I still wanted to think out loud on this one, since it's not something I usually notice. [Monroe also was the credited writer on "The Cove," "The Tillman Story" and "Chasing Ice," all docs I put in the "Good story, well told" category. Whatever a writer on a documentary is, Monroe appears to be successful at it.]
 
But anyway... "The Summit." Full review after the break...
 
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<p>Matthew Macfadyen of &quot;Ripper Street&quot;</p>

Matthew Macfadyen of "Ripper Street"

Credit: BBC America

Matthew Macfadyen talks 'Ripper Street' and 'Anna Karenina'

New BBC America drama premieres on Saturday night
Like many a British thespian, Matthew Macfadyen has reliably bounced back and forth between the big screen and television, whether wooing Elizabeth Bennett in "Pride & Prejudice" or battling international intrigue in "MI-5."
 
Fresh off a well-received supporting turn as Oblonsky in Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina" this winter, Macfadyen is back on TV on Saturday (January 19) night fighting crime in Victorian England in BBC America's "Ripper Street."
 
During the Television Critics Association press tour this month, I sat down with MacFadyen to talk about his role as Detective Inspector Edmund Reid on "Ripper Street," which was created by Richard Warlow and co-stars Jerome Flynn and Adam Rothenberg. We also talked a bit about Wright's highly theatrical Tolstoy adaptation, as well as his creative process. 
 
Click through...
 
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<p>&quot;The World According to Dick Cheney&quot;</p>

"The World According to Dick Cheney"

Credit: Sundance

Sundance Review: 'The World According to Dick Cheney' offers no apologies

HitFix
B+
Readers
n/a
R.J. Cutler doc will premiere on Showtime this spring
I watched "The World According to Dick Cheney" last week to talk with director R.J. Cutler about the doc, which is set to air on Showtime in March.
 
I found the film to be informative and compulsively infuriating in intriguing ways. And in the 15 minutes I chatted with Cutler -- that interview will run closer to the Showtime premiere -- it became very, very, very clear that the fascination I felt with "The World According to Dick Cheney" wasn't, in any particular way, in synch with Cutler's perception of his own movie. This doesn't bother me. An artist creates work and puts it out there for interpretation. I've often interviewed filmmakers about projects I actively disliked and that they thought were brilliant, or at least they professed to at the time. This isn't that sort of thing. In fact, I mostly mention the discordance here because it's somewhat less frequent that I get into disagreements with filmmakers over the nature of something that I quite liked.
 
Realistically, "The World According to Dick Cheney" is, as you might guess, designed to be a litmus test sorta movie and many reactions are going to hinge on your position on the political spectrum and your interpretation of what Cutler was or wasn't able to get from Dick Cheney. 
 
I rewatched "The World According to Dick Cheney" at its premiere on Friday (January 19) afternoon at the Sundance Film Festival and even watching with Cutler's words in my head -- not necessarily something a critic should normally try to do -- I came away with my opinion -- still positive -- and my perception still intact.
 
Your perception, like R.J. Cutler's perception, may vary. [Note that Greg Finton is also credited as director on "The World According to Dick Cheney," though it's still called "an R.J. Cutler film."]
 
Full review after the break...
 
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<p>&quot;Who Is Dayani Cristal?&quot;</p>

"Who Is Dayani Cristal?"

Credit: Sundance

Sundance Review: 'Who Is Dayani Cristal?' strands Gael Garcia Bernal in the desert

HitFix
B-
Readers
A
Beautifully shot border documentary has key structural flaws
From Rory Kennedy's documentary short "The Fence" to Cary Fukunaga's bracing-yet-lyrical "Sin Nombre," the border experience and America's immigration failures have been reliable Sundance staples in recent years, so it was fitting to have Marc Silver and Gael Garcia Bernal's "Who Is Dayani Cristal?" kicking off the 2013 Festival on Thursday (January 17) night.
 
"Who Is Dayani Cristal?" takes the familiar backdrop and attempts to present it in a complicated way, creating a well-intentioned documentary that makes admirable intellectual sense on paper, but becomes an occasional semiotic nightmare in execution. 
 
On one hand, had this been yet another straight-ahead story about "The Corridor of Death" in the Arizona desert across the Mexican border, I'd have probably complained at its lack of inspiration. On the other hand, if the inspiration becomes frustrating and obfuscating more than illuminating... Well, that's a struggle. 
 
More after the break on "Who Is Dayani Cristal?," which is playing in the World Documentary Competition at Sundance...
 
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"American Idol"

 "American Idol"

Credit: Fox

Recap: 'American Idol' Season 12 Live-Blog - Chicago Auditions

Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj take their ongoing squabble to a new locale

Yet again, I do want to reassure everyone that Dan is fine. He will be back to recap "American Idol" very soon, and he's just asked me to help out this week and next week, as he's very busy in Park City, Utah. I do hope he gets to see some of these early episodes, though, just so I know I'm not hallucinating these Mariah vs. Nicki encounters, which don't always make much sense (I blame editing) but thankfully don't seem too heated. Yet. 

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"American Idol"

 "American Idol"

Credit: Fox

Recap: 'American Idol' Season 12 Premiere Blog - New York Auditions

Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban join the judges' table

First off, Dan is fine. He was planning to be with all of you today, but alas, it was not to be. He called me shortly after he landed in Park City, Utah (where he's on deck to cover Sundance) and asked me to pinch hit, as the wi-fi there was on the fritz. There are very few things that can keep Dan from his appointed rounds (he's like a postal carrier that way), but an inability to actually file a story will take any reporter down at the knees. To complicate matters, I was in Santa Clarita visiting the set of "Vegas" at the time, so I'm also coming to the party a little late (thus, the lack of live blogging). My apologies in advance if this seems a little harried because, well... it is. So let's get on with the show!

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<p>Shirley MacLaine of &quot;Downton Abbey&quot;</p>

Shirley MacLaine of "Downton Abbey"

Credit: PBS

Press Tour: PBS chief addresses 'Downton Abbey' airing delays, Kevin Clash fall-out

Will 'Downton' ever air day-and-date with The UK?
PASADENA, CA. - After 10 days of network and TV panels at the Television Critics Association press tour, Monday (January 14) marked the beginning of PBS' presentation time, with PBS President Paula Kerger addressing big news like the "Downton Abbey" premiere schedule and the fall controversy involving departed "Sesame Street" star Kevin Clash.
 
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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 166

Dan and Alan talk TCA press tour, 'The Following,' 'Legit' and more

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls! It's time for a new installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
You'll notice that while we're posting on Monday, this podcast was actually recorded at the end of last week, so there is NO discussion of the Golden Globes. Sorry. Sepinwall and I recorded when we had the time, contemplated recording more if we had time and then didn't have time. There's plenty here, but there's nothing about the last two days of TCA Press Tour or other things from the past few days.
 
Sorry.
 
And there's plenty here because I'm off to Sundance on Wednesday, so we won't have time to podcast again for the next 10-ish days. There may be a podcast at the *end* of next week, but there won't be anything before that. So we have lots of reviews here, including this Monday's premieres ("The Carrie Diaries") and next Monday's big premiere ("The Following).
 
Enjoy!
 
This week's breakdown:
Press tour stuff (00:01:20 - 00:34:00)
"The Carrie Diaries" (00:34:10 - 00:43:50)
"Continuum" (00:44:00 - 00:50:55)
"The Kroll Show" (00:50:55 - 00:55:30)
"Archer" (00:55:30 - 00:58:00)
"Legit" (00:58:00 - 01:07:00)
"Ripper Street" (01:07:10 - 01:14:40)
"The Following" (01:15:10 - 01:31:10)

 

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

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<p>Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at the Golden Globes</p>

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at the Golden Globes

Credit: AP

2013 Golden Globe Awards Live-Blog

Following Tina Fey & Amy Poehler and all of Sunday's winners

Because of the football game between the Patriots and Texans -- GO PATS! -- I missed most of the red carpet coverage before Sunday (January 13) night's Golden Globe awards.

That gives me something else to muse on during this live-blog, other than the usual winners, losers, speeches and graceful hosting by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

Follow the live-blog, join the conversation and make fun of the dreadful predictions from me and Greg Ellwood.

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<p>The CW President Mark Pedowitz</p>

The CW President Mark Pedowitz

Credit: The CW

Press Tour 2013 Live-Blog: The CW Executive Session with Mark Pedowitz

Expect 'Battle Royale,' 'Arrow' and 'Vampire Diaries' spinoff questions

The CW President Mark Pedowitz has met with the Television Critics Association press tour a few times now, but Sunday (January 13) morning marks the first time he's come before us with that most elusive of TV programming unicorns -- a bona fide hit. 

How will the fall success of "Arrow" impact The CW in the present and what will it mean for future development, including the network's "Wonder Woman" prequel and more? 

Click through for the full TCA press tour live-blog:

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