Watch: 'Raising Hope' star Lucas Neff celebrates keeping Hope alive

Watch: 'Raising Hope' star Lucas Neff celebrates keeping Hope alive

FOX comedy star discusses Jimmy and Goth Jimmy
Lucas Neff is a good company man. 
 
When I sat down with the "Raising Hope" star, he was wearing a "Raising Hope" hat, a "Raising Hope" jacket and he was drinking from a "Raising Hope" mug. He's also wearing a "Raising Hope" t-shirt underneath the jacket, not that you can see it.
 
"Raising Hope" is returning for its third season on Tuesday (October 2) night and much of my conversation with Neff focuses on the way that the show has grown and changed, including the progression of his character and the evolution of the twins who play Baby Hope. 
 
He also, in moments of variable jest, discusses a fatalistic potential ending for "Raising Hope" and picks his favorite twin. 
 
It's a funny interview and I think you'll always keep in mind what show Neff is promoting, which is truly what counts.
 
"Raising Hope" returns on Tuesday, October 2 at 8 p.m. Stay tuned for my interviews with Garret Dillahunt & Martha Plimpton and with Shannon Woodward.
Watch: 'New Girl' star Hannah Simone discusses Cece's evolution

Watch: 'New Girl' star Hannah Simone discusses Cece's evolution

Why do Cece and Schmidt make sense?
My first mistake: Insinuating to Hannah Simone that her "New Girl" character, Cece, may have started out last season as just The Hot Friend, before very quickly becoming a valuable part of the show's comedic ensemble. 
 
In my mind, this was a double compliment. Lesson learned, though. Hannah Simone is sure that Cece was funny from the beginning and since she was a tremendously good sport and, I'd like to believe, only feigned offense, I'll take her word for it. 
 
That was probably my only real mistake in the conversation I had with Simone a couple weeks back, discussing Cece's evolution and her increasingly pivotal relationship with Max Greenfield's Schmidt. 
 
Simone was battling laryngitis, but she did a terrific job of perking up for the conversation, especially when discussing her awe at getting to play opposite legendary Indian actress (and cookbook maven!) Madhur Jaffrey, who played Cece's grandmother last season.
 
Check out the full interview above.
 
After its two-episode premiere last week, "New Girl" settles exclusively into its regular Tuesday 9 p.m. slot on October 2.
Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 152

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 152

Dan and Alan talk '30 for 30,' ratings, 'Homeland' and much, much, much more

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls!
 
It's a Kitchen Sink installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
In this week's installment, we talk about Tuesday's return of "Raising Hope" and review the first two new "30 For 30" films. We also talk about a ton of TV from last week, including weighing in on "Sons of Anarchy," "How I Met Your Mother," "The Office" and "Homeland." We also discuss the idea of Seth MacFarlane as Oscars host and Week 1 ratings. 
 
Seriously. Lots of stuff. 
 
And pay close attention to the outline if you don't want things spoiled. I take a long pause before we get into The Big Thing That Happened on "Sons of Anarchy," but beyond that... It's on you!
 
Today's breakdown:
"Raising Hope" (00:01:15 - 00:10:55)
"30 for 30" (00:10:55 - 00:23:45)
Oscar host Seth MacFarlane (00:23:45 - 00:31:40)
Early Ratings (00:31:40 - 00:40:30)
"Sons of Anarchy" (00:40:40 - 00:50:15)
"The Office" (00:50:15 - 00:54:05)
"How I Met Your Mother" (00:54:10 - 01:00:45)
Listener mail - Guest Appearances (01:01:10 - 01:04:15)
Listener mail - "Life" (01:04:15 - 01:07:15)
"Homeland" (01:07:15 - 01:14:00)

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.

<p>Jaymes and James of &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

Jaymes and James of "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' Premiere - 'Double Your Money'

Which team earned the chance to hypothetically win $2 million?
If you're a regular reader of my "Amazing Race" recaps, I bet you think you can predict the first thing I'm going to say about Sunday (September 30) night's premiere.
 
Wrong!
 
I want to talk about the fact that Team Monster Truck -- Rob & Kelley -- seems to be using rollaboard luggage rather than traditional backpacks. My knowledge of "Amazing Race" isn't as encyclopedic as for some of the shows I recap, but I can't remember this ever being done previously. Was there a rule change? Or do Rob and/or Kelley have back problems of some sort that require a luggage alternative? It's not like backpacks with wheels are a new invention. Is the theory that rollies are actually slower than backpacks? They obviously are slower when you're in a crowded area and you have to navigate quickly. But they're easier if you happen to be weaker. 
 
These are the questions I pondered as I saw Team Monster Truck navigating around the Bund in Shanghai. It struck me as weird. And so I wanted to bring it up.
 
[Buddy Andy from RealityBlurred notes that flight attendants Jodi & Christie from S. 14 had rollaboards.]
 
Bet you didn't expect that to be the first thing discussed in my recap tonight.
 
I bet you expected me to go on my traditional jeremiad about how it's absolutely asinine to premiere seasons of "The Amazing Race" or "Survivor" with hour-long episodes. 
 
And guess what? It's true, darnit!
 
Normally, I just use my premiere week recaps to go through each of the teams, listing the teams that I'm liking and the teams I'm disliking, which tends to be a good way for me to keep the teams straight in my head and break down the initial impressions they left. 
 
Guess what? After one hour? I'm really not liking or disliking anybody. I'm impressed by Monster Truck Rob and his eating prowess (more on that in a bit). It's absolutely impossible not to be impressed by Amy with her two artificial legs. I've decided that Nadiya is The Annoy Twin. I find Beekman Boys Josh and Brent to be amusing, but they're professional reality show stars, so of course they are. But, in the balance after one hour, I have no rooting interest, positive or negative, towards any team. And that's the kind of thing you avoid by doing an extended premiere for competition series that have to introduce 22 new people. Look at "Survivor," which premiered its Philippines season with a 90-minute episode. After 90 minutes, I had vague awareness of all 18 contestants (albeit a group that included three returning players and two pseudo-stars). 
 
After 60 minutes tonight? Whatever. 
 
And what's worse: Of the 11 "Amazing Race" teams this season, at least four of the teams are same-gender pairings in which I will NEVER be able to properly distinguish between players, at least not on my tiny Slingbox screen. Team White Lion and Team Sri Lankan Twins were always going to be a struggle. If Natalie wears her hair down and Naiya always wears a scrunchie, I might occasionally make a correct ID. Ditto if James (he of White Lion and Megadeath) always wears dark shades and Abba (formerly "Mark") wears clear glasses. James and Abba aren't brothers and they don't look that much alike, but in the "Amazing Race" chaos (and, again, on my Slingbox), there're close enough. 
 
I have the same issue with Team Chippendale. Jaymes (blonde and scruffy) and James (brunette and scruffy) have similar stature and different features, but recognizing those differences while also retaining which is "James" and which is "Jaymes" is a lost cause.
 
And finally, Caitlin and Brittany? One played soccer and one played volleyball, but otherwise? they're both tall, slender blondes with REALLY white teeth. Staring at headshots for a couple seconds, I think Brittany is the one I find cuter, but that's not useful on the fly.
 
[More after the break...
 
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Watch: 'The Simpsons' producer Al Jean talks Season 24

Watch: 'The Simpsons' producer Al Jean talks Season 24

Longtime showrunner teases guest voices and more
"The Simpsons" kicks off its 24th season on Sunday (September 30) night.
 
Long-time showrunner and writer and executive producer Al Jean hasn't been there for all 24 seasons, but it certainly seems like he has been. One of the original "Simpsons" writers and in the midst of a showrunning tenure that has dated back to 2001, Jean has been one of the show's key media presences, responding to every milestone, development and controversy, every innovation or wrinkle in the show's venerable formula, every guest star and every programming stunt. 
 
That means that I've chatted with Al Jean with a regularity that's almost like clockwork. Here, for example, are our conversations before the start of Season 21, Season 22 and Season 23. If you look at the publication dates for those interviews, you'll see that it's almost eerie.
 
That means that this year's Al Jean interview is a few days late, but I think it's the best we've done together. In the conversation, we talk about  Sunday's premieres, about Season 24 guest stars and about the show's ongoing ability to stir up controversy for the oddest of reasons. 
 
It's kinda long, so the first part is above and the second part is embedded below.
 
<p>Anne Heche of &quot;Save Me&quot;</p>

Anne Heche of "Save Me"

Credit: NBC

Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Save Me'

Anne Heche stars in a Showtime half-hour misplaced on NBC

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"Save Me" (NBC) [Midseason]
The Pitch: "What would happen if we did a Showtime half-hour on NBC?" "It would probably do Showtime ratings." "I'm OK with that if you are."
Quick Response: A few years ago, there was a rush of "Women who may or may not be prophets" dramas. I'm thinking "Wonderfalls" and "Joan of Arcadia," though if you expand gender boundaries and your definition of "prophet," you might include "Book of Daniel" or "Dead Like Me." After letting the genre lay fallow for a while, NBC is jumping back into the fray (after, possibly, HBO's "Enlightened," which has similar underpinnings without needing to be so darned overt) with John Scott Shepherd's "Save Me," in which Anne Heche plays an awful woman who has a near-death experience and begins to think that she's a prophet. Or maybe she is. One thing she certainly is is a Showtime-style comedy leading lady, in that she's quirky, flawed, prickly and only occasionally [rarely, even] funny. And when you look at the director and producers on "Save Me," it isn't even slightly surprising to see that their credits include "Californication," "The Big C," "The United States of Tara." And, heck, NBC's entertainment operation is overseen by former Showtime boss Robert Greenblatt, so really none of the Showtime-ness of "Save Me" is surprising. And if "Save Me" were, indeed, on Showtime, we'd probably be talking about Anne Heche as a possible Emmy contender, because she's got her best part in years and she embraces every peculiar, not-entirely-likabe aspect of this character. Figuring out the exact point of "Save Me" is a bit more complicated. It either has a very superficial theme regarding faith and spirituality in the Midwest and in the suburbs, or else it's eventually going to make a bigger point that hasn't even been approached yet. And beyond Heche and Alexandra Breckenridge as the main character's husband's mistress, none of the actors or characters in the pilot make even the slightest impression. And, performance-wise, nobody seems to know exactly what the tone of the show is supposed to be, so some actors are playing it as a "Desperate Housewives" style comedic soap, some are thinking it's a sitcom and some are playing straight drama. It's confusing. [I'd point to Michael Landes in the "most confused" category. And I don't know which version of the show Landes would really succeed in.] Some of those Showtime "comedies" have also struggled to find their subtext and tone in the early-goings and have eventually become quite solid. But those shows have had the ability to produce in a vacuum and premiere without worrying about ratings. "Save Me" won't be able to do that and it is, like "Red Widow," another midseason show that isn't a fabulous match with its future home.
Desire To Watch Again: Moderate. I liked Heche and I was perplexed, but interested by "Save Me." I want to see what an episode or two of "Save Me" sausage will look like after it goes through NBC's development meat grinder. Or maybe I'm just perversely fascinated to see where NBC intends to schedule this show and how they intend on promoting it without raising an uproar from special interest groups that often take exception when a TV character talks to God. 

 

That's it for the 2012-2013 installment of Take Me To The Pilots...What a crazy journey it's been...

Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Red Widow'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Cult'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Next Caller'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Following'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Family Tools'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Infamous'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'How To Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's '1600 Penn'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Zero Hour'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Do No Harm'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'The Carrie Diaries'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Malibu Country'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'The New Normal'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Guys with Kids'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Mindy Project'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Partners'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Nashville'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Made in Jersey'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Emily Owens, M.D.'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Mob Doctor'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Animal Practice'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Last Resort'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Vegas'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Beauty & The Beast'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's '666 Park Avenue'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Ben and Kate'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Elementary'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Arrow'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Neighbors'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Revolution'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots entries

 

<p>Roxy of &quot;Survivor: Philippines&quot;</p>

Roxy of "Survivor: Philippines"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Roxanne 'Roxy' Morris talks 'Survivor: Philippines'

Roxy remains convinced there was more than warmth between Angie and Malcolm
You know who's not a fan of showmances?
 
That's right. Roxanne "Roxy" Morris of "Survivor: Philippines."
 
For the duration of Wednesday night's episode, Roxy told everybody on her Matsing tribe that something was stirring in the night between youthful hardbodies Malcolm and Angie. Like a reality TV Cassandra, Roxy tried to warn the tribe that any sort of Angie/Malcolm alliance would eventually be dangerous and tried to make it clear that booting Angie and her distracting physical attributes would be the easiest path to success and harmony. 
 
Unfortunately for Roxy, her caution went unheeded or, at the very least, the Matsing tribe found itself more concerned about Roxy's energy at the camp and the seminary student's outspoken faith. Angie survived and this week's exit interview is with Roxy.
 
In the conversation, Roxy reiterates her certainty that Angie and Malcolm were generating more than just warmth, explains her complaints about the tribe's excessive productivity at camp and also discusses her decision to throw Angie under the bus in the season's second Immunity Challenge.
 
Click through for the interview...
 
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Watch: 'Fringe' star Lance Reddick teases the final season

Watch: 'Fringe' star Lance Reddick teases the final season

Which Broyles is getting closure in these last episodes?
I was a little nervous when I sat down with Lance Reddick a couple weeks ago. 
 
It wasn't because Reddick is a terrifying man -- despite playing steely authority figures like Daniels on "The Wire" and Broyles on "Fringe" he's soft-spoken and friendly. 
 
It's just that I had already had a really good chat with Reddick at Comic-Con in July and given the secretive nature of all things "Fringe," there's sometimes a finite amount to discuss without new information.
 
Instead, my conversation with Reddick was perhaps the best of the slew of FOX-related interviews I did during the recent junket. We talked about what we can expect from Broyles in the final "Fringe" season, what it's like to approach this as a final season and what will come next for him. And despite the junket's relatively tight time confines, it's a fairly long interview, which our video guys figured would be more easily digested in two chunks. 
 
So check out the interview. The first part is above and the second part is below. I'm pretty pleased with it. 
 
And "Fringe" kicks off its final season tonight (September 28) at 9 p.m. on FOX.
 
 
<p>It's Britney!</p>

It's Britney!

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Thursday - Auditions #6

Would more singers thrive? And would Trevor Moran survive?

Have you been holding your breath for the past 23 hours?

When we left "The X Factor" on Wednesday night, 13-year-old Trevor Moran was being raced to the hospital. Yes, Trevor was annoying, but we hope he survives.

Note that this is the third or fourth time that FOX has used the "Medical Emergency Cliffhanger" to liven up an otherwise dull episode of reality TV auditions. Each time, the hospitalized contestant has survived. 

So I've got a good feeling about Trevor.

Let's see!

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<p>Kerry Washington of &quot;Scandal&quot;</p>

Kerry Washington of "Scandal"

Credit: ABC

Interview: Kerry Washington discusses Season 2 of ABC's 'Scandal'

Thursday's premiere is titled 'White Hat's Off'
"Scandal" was one of the pleasant surprises of last spring.
 
Held back until April and then rushing through its first season in only seven episodes, the Shonda Rhimes-created Beltway drama proved to be stylish, soapy, occasionally shocking and, as the title suggests, scandalous. 
 
Anchoring the whole production was a compelling performance by Kerry Washington, playing uber-fixer Olivia Pope, a success-at-any-cost DC mastermind with a sensitive past involving the President of the United States.
 
"Scandal" returns to ABC on Thursday (September 27) night with an episode titled "White Hat's Off." Last week, I got on the phone with Washington to chat about the premiere and the development of "Scandal" into its second season. 
 
Washington wasn't always prepared to humor my suppositions about her character, but it's still a good conversation...
 
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