<p>Patrick Wilson</p>

Patrick Wilson

Patrick Wilson on sex addiction and why his 'Zipper' politico isn't John Edwards

Also, check out Wilson's discussion of 'Fargo' Season 2

PARK CITY. We're so accustomed to politicians getting caught up in embarrassing sex scandals that it's tempting (or darned near inevitable) to compare Patrick Wilson's character in the Sundance drama "Zipper" to any of several real life kerfuffles. 

Chatting with the newly minted "Fargo" star on a balcony scenically overlooking Park City's Main Street, I asked Wilson if any of those famous examples informed his character here.

"No, because I didn't want it to be 'Oh, it's the Eliot Spitzer story' or 'Oh, it's John Edwards,' because sadly, those are the few that we know about and I'm sure that there are many, many, many more," Wilson said, though he noted that his character's Southern accent will make Edwards comparisons easier.

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<p>Thursday&#39;s &quot;Scandal&quot; return</p>

Thursday's "Scandal" return

Credit: ABC

Thursday Ratings: Big 'Parenthood' finale bump, 'Scandal' up, 'Backstrom' down

'Big Bang Theory' leads CBS to overall victory

Fast National ratings for Friday, January 29, 2015.

"Scandal" and "Grey's Anatomy" both returned up from their November finales, leading ABC to an easy Thursday win among young viewers, though a strong primetime start from "The Big Bang Theory" let CBS hold on for an overall win.

With ABC's dramas returning big and several CBS comedies rising from last week, FOX bore the brunt of the audience hit, with "American Idol" drooping 19 percent week-to-week and "Backstrom" falling 26 percent.

Finally, the series finale of "Parenthood" rose 31 percent over both last week and last series finale's 18-49 numbers, drawing its biggest overall audience since December 2012.

Let's get to the numbers...

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'Zipper' stars Dianna Agron and Richard Dreyfuss talk political sex scandals

'Zipper' stars Dianna Agron and Richard Dreyfuss talk political sex scandals

Director Mora Stephens chats about the inspirations for her Sundance thriller

PARK CITY. Stop us if you've heard this one before: A handsome Golden Boy politician is moving up the political ladder only to have his progress threatened by a scandal brought about by his sexual appetites.

That's the thumbnail sketch for Mora Stephens' "Zipper," which features Patrick Wilson as Sam Ellis, a Southern lawyer on the cusp of a nation election. To deflect temptation away from his firm's attractive young intern (Dianna Agron), Sam spirals deep into the world of high-priced escorts, a secret that could cause issues for his cutthroat campaign svengali (Richard Dreyfuss).

"The movie is designed to provoke a dialogue," says director and co-writer Stephens, who previously directed 2006's "Conventioners."

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<p>&quot;People, Places, Things&quot;</p>

"People, Places, Things"

Credit: Sundance

Review: Jemaine Clement, Regina Hall lift sitcom-y 'People, Places, Things'

Jessica Williams and Stephanie Allynne also get some laughs

PARK CITY. Jim Strouse's "People, Places, Things" plays like an 86 minute pilot for an HBO comedy series and even in this age of "TV and Movies Have Achieved Parity," I doubt that's what anybody wants to hear. But if you know me, you know I mean it largely as a compliment. 

And what does that mean?

Well, not too much happens in "People, Places, Things." It's a low-incident narrative that's supposed to be about emotional truth mixed with humor, but a lot of the comedic beats are being played rather broadly.  It feels as if the basic plot elements and, particularly, characters are in place at the end of the film for an ongoing storyline that might be amusing. Give me this cast and some of these characters on a weekly basis for 10 or 13 half-hour episodes per season and I could grow to really like them.

And speaking of growth, if you do a few episodes of a TV comedy and you don't quite nail the tone, but you show potential, generous critics such as myself will write, "Well, sometimes it takes comedies a while to find themselves" and then you get the benefit of the doubt. If you do an 86 minute feature comedy that doesn't quite nail the tone, but shows potential, the most generous critics such as myself will write is, "Well, some of it works, but it really could have used a bit more fleshing out so that I was left with more in the end."

Why wouldn't everybody want to just make TV? Show potential. Get the opportunity to develop your characters. Make sure that you aren't just relying on cuteness and comic timing, because those can't always yield depth immediately.

"People, Places, Things" has cuteness and comic timing in abundance, but if we assume that Strouse isn't really going to turn around and sell this to HBO, it doesn't amount to much.

More after the break...

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<p>Stanley Tucci of &quot;Fortitude&quot;</p>

Stanley Tucci of "Fortitude"

Credit: Pivot

Interview: 'Fortitude' creator Simon Donald discusses his chilling Pivot mystery

Is the story supernatural? Was Stanley Tucci nearly Scottish? And more...

On Thursday (January 29), Pivot premieres the intriguing new Arctic Circle mystery "Fortitude."

Now you have the better part of the day to figure out where Pivot is hiding on your TV dial.

"Fortitude" is set in a chilly and alien world in which both the characters and the ice hide secrets.

Featuring a strong cast led by Richard Dormer, Stanley Tucci, Michael Gambon, Christopher Eccleston, Jessica Raine and Sienna Guillory, "Fortitude" was created by scribe Simon Donald, whose credits include the original incarnation of "Low Winter Sun."

At TCA Press Tour earlier this month, Donald and I sat down over a couple pints and discussed "Fortitude," starting with its brutal opening scene. We talked about the decision not to have Tucci do a Scottish accent, the drama's environmental message and the hints at horror or supernatural elements.

It's a good conversation about a good show.

Check out the Q&A...

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<p>Patrick Wilson</p>

Patrick Wilson

Patrick Wilson teases his 'Fargo' Season 2 accent and more

In the rain from Sundance, Patrick Wilson discusses his inner Keith Carradine

PARK CITY. That moment when you do an interview about a movie you haven't seen to get the chance to briefly talk about a TV show that has barely begun production. 

So it was that on Tuesday (January 27) afternoon, I found myself standing on a balcony off of Park City's Main Street chatting with Patrick Wilson about the sex-themed political thriller "Zipper," which wouldn't premiere until Tuesday night. 

Wilson's an interesting actor and "Zipper" has such a strong cast that I was more than happy to chat with its lead, as well as Dianna Agron, Richard Dreyfuss and director/co-writer Mora Stephens. But I'd be lying if I said that the chance to chat with Wilson after his first week of production on FX's "Fargo" wasn't a big inducement. 

"Fargo" was my favorite TV show of 2014 and Wilson is joining the new ensemble cast playing Lou Solverson, the younger version of Keith Carradine's character from the first season. 

Pushing Wilson for spoilers probably wouldn't have accomplished anything, but as rain began to fall, we were able to talk about channelling his inner Carradine, the elements that convinced him to take the role and the amount of Minnesota accent he'll be attempting. 

It's just basic stuff, but he seemed excited to talk a little about it, so check out that interview chunk above. 

The "Zipper" stuff will post in the next day or two.

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Credit: Sundance

Review: 'Dreamcatcher' is a harrowing, but inspirational journey

Former prostitute Brenda Myers-Powell survived the worst, helps people to the best

PARK CITY. The breakout hit of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, Lee Daniels' "Precious" was an intriguing tightrope act on the threshold of misery audiences could withstand in a movie that was still fundamentally meant to be life-affirming. 

Already acquired by the extremely busy folks at Showtime, this year's Sundance World Documentary Competition entry "Dreamcatcher" is another test for that precarious balance. 

Full of moments that are sure to cause cringing and wincing, sure to push some viewers to an empathetic breaking point, "Dreamcatcher" does, indeed, manage to unfold with a consistent sense of uplift thanks to Brenda Myers-Powell, its featured subject. Because of Brenda Myers-Powell, Kim Longinotto's film is finally quite inspirational, though the journey is through such muck as to make you question the darkness of human nature entire. 

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'Digging For Fire' director Joe Swanberg says he's already made a superhero movie

'Digging For Fire' director Joe Swanberg says he's already made a superhero movie

Swanberg, Jake Johnson and Rosemarie DeWitt talk maturation and Jude Swanberg

"Digging For Fire," the new film from indie relationship dramedy favorite Joe Swanberg, premiered on Monday (January 26) evening at the Sundance Film Festival.

You can check out my review of the star-studded film here.

Bright and early on Wednesday, I caught up with the sleep-deprived Swanberg, co-writer and star Jake Johnson and star Rosemarie DeWitt to talk about "Digging For Fire."

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<p>&quot;Digging For Fire&quot;</p>

"Digging For Fire"

Credit: Sundance

Review: Jake Johnson, Rosemary DeWitt charm and mature in 'Digging For Fire'

Joe Swanberg's latest is heavy on aging metaphors

Joe Swanberg is 33. I don't know whether to be amazed by how high or low that number is. 

On one hand, that's ridiculously young for a filmmaker who broke out back in 2006 and 2007 with "LOL" and "Hannah Takes The Stairs" and has been absurdly prolific since then.

On the other hand, though, the filmmaker who made his name -- and, depending on your generosity, made a genre -- chronicling the dramatically limited foibles of recent college graduates has reached the "thirtysomething" phase of his career. The erratic and misdirected youths at the center of Swanberg's earlier films have become the pesky nubiles who show up to make Swanberg's new leads feel either old or optimistically mature.

It's a transition that has been in the works for a little while. Last year's Swanberg Sundance entry "Happy Christmas" featured the director and Melanie Lynskey as a grown-up, responsible couple whose house nearly burns down when they welcome flighty Jenny (Anna Kendrick) into their home. Jenny would have been the star of an early Swanberg film (probably played by Greta Gerwig), but in "Happy Christmas," whatever temporary rejuvenating powers she has for the central characters, she's the one constantly passing out and unable to find herself. They're the ones with the house, the love and the gigantic toddler.

Swanberg's latest feature, the Sundance out-of-competition premiere "Digging for Fire," cements either the director's maturation or else his commitment to wallowing in a different phase of life, again depending on your generosity. Simultaneously more plot-driven than most of Swanberg's early films -- There's a freaking gun found in the opening scene, instigating something that resembles a mystery -- and also more submerged in extended metaphor and symbolism, "Digging For Fire" is a messy movie, but it's also full of terrific little moments and you'd be hard-pressed to find a better ensemble cast at Sundance this year.

[More after the break...]

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<p>Colorado City, Arizona</p>

Colorado City, Arizona

Credit: AP

Review: Disappointing 'Prophet's Prey' offers nothing new on Warren Jeffs

The polygamous cult leader is in jail, but now what?

It's been around 150 years since we gave much respect to Scottish writer Thomas Carlyle's so-called Great Man Theory of history. While there are unquestionable great men and great women who helped shape culture and history, the number of great men and women who made impacts that are worth studying outside of the context of their society is virtually nil. It's not an interesting or accurate way to view history and, as a result, we don't give credence to people who try it. 

It's even less informative to view tragedy through an Awful Man Theory. It's almost inconceivable to imagine an interpretation of World War II, for example, that said, "So Germany was just going along fine and then Hitler came and ruined everything." As monstrous as Hitler was, you'd never write a story of Nazi atrocities in which you reached the end and said, "And it was all Hitler's fault." It's a total dead-end when it comes to ongoing conversation.

Amy Berg's disappointing "Prophet's Prey" isn't looking at anything as wide-reaching as pre-WWII Germany or the crimes of the Nazis, but she still offers up an almost absurdly one-dimensional Awful Man Theory when it comes to last decade's scandal in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church), a scandal which, in Berg's hands, can be boiled down to: Warren Jeffs is an evil monster. 

And I think we can mostly agree on this one. When you're sentenced to Life+20 for the sexual assault of a 15-year-old and a 12-year-old and the world agrees that that's only the tip of the horrifying iceberg of things that you probably could have been charged with, then the vast majority of people will probably co-sign the "monster" accusation.

But the Warren Jeffs case wasn't a case that the media ignored. It was covered very adequately by the most mainstream of organizations and was the subject of various cable specials and whatnot. Ample evidence was given and disseminated that reenforced the monster narrative, which is part of why Warren Jeffs is -- SPOILER ALERT -- in prison today.

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