<p>&quot;Undateable&quot;</p>

"Undateable"

Credit: NBC

Interview: Bill Lawrence and Adam Sztykiel on 'Undateable' and The State of TV Comedy

Network vs Cable, Single-Cam vs Multi-Cam and more more.

I interviewed "Undateable" executive producer Bill Lawrence and Adam Sztykiel at a noisy bar in Pasadena shortly before a press conference in mid-April.

Going back and transcribing the 35-minute interview is bittersweet.

At the time, Lawrence had two shows in limbo -- TBS' "Cougar Town" and FOX's newly premiered "Surviving Jack," which he EPed along with creators Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker. While Lawrence wasn't directly involved with "Enlisted," he has a close relationship with "Enlisted" and "Cougar Town" creator Kevin Biegel, whose comedy was newly shelved.

Since that time, "Enlisted" and "Surviving Jack" were both cancelled. "Cougar Town" was renewed for a final season on TBS.

At the time, Lawrence also wasn't feeling especially confident about "Undateable." The multi-cam sitcom, which features Chris D'Elia as seemingly cocksure ladies man Danny, who mentors the less confident Justin (Brent Morin) and his group of allegedly "undateable" friends.

"Undateable" had been announced for NBC's 2013-2014 slate at the May 2013 upfronts and went without a premiere date until spring. And when a premiere date was slated, NBC gave "Undateable" a launch on May 29, after the conclusion of the season. The network also announced plans to double-pump the comedy, airing two episodes per week.

Normally, that would be a sign of pessimism, but just because Lawrence wasn't confident doesn't mean he lacked confidence. A network veteran who burst onto the scene as a wunderkind on "Spin City," had a huge hit with "Scrubs" and has most recently been shepherding a series of protégées including Biegel, Halpern and Sztykiel, Lawrence has watched the TV business shift and watched the business of TV comedy shift and he's never been shy when it comes to holding court on Small Screen State of Affairs.

In this wide-ranging interview, Lawrence and Sztykiel talk about why they're not discouraged about "Undateable," why they think the show is special and why they think the cast is special. They also talk about TV ratings, the eternal battle between multi-cam and single-cam comedy and other industry shifts.

It's a huge interview -- 6200 words of transcribing -- but I think it's a good one... [And remember the timing of the interview as it relates to "Cougar Town," "Surviving Jack" and "Enlisted." Lawrence was hopeful on all three shows. Oh well...]

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<p>&quot;The Mysteries of Laura&quot;</p>

"The Mysteries of Laura"

Credit: NBC

DVR Gridlock 2014-15: Wednesday Nights

Does everybody feel liberated by the absence of 'X Factor'?

[As is my recent tradition, over the next six days, I'm going to be glancing, night-by-night, at how the primetime schedules have changed after the network announcements at upfronts. I'll be looking at how the various changes will impact the ratings races on each night, as well as my own DVRing habits. Readers can chime in on how their own DVRs will be impacted. And yes, this brief series assumes that anybody still watches TV on their TVs. I'm old-fashioned. It also assumes that you/I only have a dual tuner DVR (plus occasional access to a Slingbox on ET. Check out last year's DVR Gridlock installments and the DVR Gridlock segments for 2012.]

WEDNESDAY NIGHTS

8:00 p.m.
ABC: "The Middle," "The Goldbergs"
CBS: "Survivor"
The CW: "Arrow"
FOX: "Hell's Kitchen"
NBC: "The Mysteries of Laura"


9:00 p.m. 
ABC: "Modern Family," "Black-ish"
CBS: "Criminal Minds"
The CW: "The 100"
FOX: "Red Band Society"
NBC: "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"


10 p.m. 
ABC: "Nashville"
CBS: "Stalker"
NBC: "Chicago PD"


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Sharlto Copley discusses giving his 'Maleficent' villain human shadings

Sharlto Copley discusses giving his 'Maleficent' villain human shadings

Also, reuniting with Neill Blomkamp on 'Chappie'

Sharlto Copley intrigues me.

Here's a guy who was producing and directing little things, who suddenly captured Hollywood's imagination in Neill Blomkamp's surprise smash "District 9." Even though his "District 9" character, Wikus van der Merwe, was hardly a clean-cut, matinee idol showcase, Hollywood decided out of nowhere that Copley, who improvised much of his dialogue in "District 9," was a leading man, or at least a candidate to be a featured villain.

Subsequently, Copley has taken roles in features like "The A-Team," "Oldboy" and, reuniting with Blomkamp, "Elysium." Each role could have positioned Copley for his next step up the A-list actor. Instead, the South African star has approached each of them with the dogged quirkiness of a character actor.

The same is true in "Maleficent," where Copley's Stefan is a love interest and then an adversary for Angelina Jolie's title character. Working with a scraggly beard, a paranoid mien and an accent that gravitates towards the Scottish Highlands, Copley is, as usual, basically unrecognizable.

As I sat down to talk with Copley at the "Maleficient" junket, it struck me that I actually had no idea what Shartlo Copley actually looked or sounded like out-of-character. I assume he'd take that as a compliment. 

In our conversation, Copley candidly discusses his process of character actor-izing leading man roles, how he chose Stefan's particular eccentricities and the role of the director in helping steer his path. And, if you didn't see that excerpt earlier, he discusses his latest collaboration with Blomkamp in the upcoming robot film "Chappie."

Also check out my interview with "Maleficent's" Sleeping Beauty, Elle Fanning.

"Maleficent" opens on Friday, May 30.

<p>&quot;The Night Shift&quot;</p>

"The Night Shift"

Credit: NBC

TV Ratings: 'America's Got Talent,' 'Night Shift' premieres help NBC rule Tuesday

'Supernatural' repeat ties 'I Wanna Marry 'Harry'" among young viewers

Fast National ratings for Tuesday, May 27, 2014.

"America's Got Talent" returned nearly flat with last year -- Down 3 percent if you want to quibble -- and combined with a respectable premiere for "The Night Shift" to help NBC score commanding Tuesday wins in all measure.

NBC wants you to know that "The Night Shift" had the biggest NBC summer drama series debut since... "The Philanthropist" in 2009.

Among other notables, "Extreme Weight Loss" premiered well enough to put ABC in second for Tuesday in the key demo, while CBS' procedural repeats buoyed an easy second place finish overall. 

Meanwhile, FOX's "I Wanna Marry 'Harry'" and "Riot" hit embarrassingly low levels, though "Riot" did it while rising from its previous episode. "Harry," stripped of its "Idol" lead-in, tied with a "Supernatural" repeat on The CW among young viewers. Ouch.

On to the numbers...

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<p>Brendon &amp; Rachel of &quot;The Amazing Race: All-Stars&quot;</p>

Brendon & Rachel of "The Amazing Race: All-Stars"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Brendon & Rachel talk 'The Amazing Race: All-Stars'

'Big Brother' veterans were expecting more from an All-Stars finale

Does anybody still remember the "Amazing Race: All-Stars" finale? 

My apologies.

I'm apologizing both for how long it took me to get to these exit interviews -- Last week was a bear -- but really I'm apologizing because you still remember what was almost certainly the dullest finale in the 24-season history of the Emmy-winning juggernaut. 

Brendon & Rachel probably haven't forgotten the finale. That's because they made it all the way to the last Leg of "The Amazing Race" for the second time and, once again, finished in third. And this time, they didn't really do anything wrong. They got a bad cab driver. Yes, they got a little bit lost wandering around the Mirage in Las Vegas, but they were already behind the other two teams entirely because of their cabbie in a Leg that didn't feature a single challenge that allowed teams to wreath themselves in any glory at all.

Had they won, Brendon & Rachel would have been celebrated by their cadre of passionate fans and lambasted by their equally passionate cadre of haters, a polarization that should have been static after two seasons of "Big Brother" and a previous season of "Amazing Race." But I'll admit it: I kinda rooted for the entity known as Brenchel this season. They were kind to Margie & Luke when they had no reason to be kind. Rachel kept her bawling to a relative minimum. And in the controversy of U-Turn-Gate, I took Brendon & Rachel's side, because... Why not?

This was a filibustering interview, which shouldn't be a surprise, so there were a few questions I didn't get to ask that were on my list. That happened a lot with my finale-week reality interviews. This must have been The Spring of the Chatty Reality Competitor.

Still, Rachel & Brendon have things to say about the lame closing Leg, the disappointing All-Stars competition, their reality TV future and stay tuned for at least one vintage Rachel over-share towards the end...

Click through for the full Q&A...

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<p>&quot;Selfie&quot;</p>

"Selfie"

Credit: ABC

DVR Gridlock 2014-15: Tuesday Nights

What will the 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' move, 'Flash' premiere and 'NCIS' continuation mean?

[As is my recent tradition, over the next six days, I'm going to be glancing, night-by-night, at how the primetime schedules have changed after the network announcements at upfronts. I'll be looking at how the various changes will impact the ratings races on each night, as well as my own DVRing habits. Readers can chime in on how their own DVRs will be impacted. And yes, this brief series assumes that anybody still watches TV on their TVs. I'm old-fashioned. It also assumes that you/I only have a dual tuner DVR (plus occasional access to a Slingbox on ET. Check out last year's DVR Gridlock installments and the DVR Gridlock segments for 2012.]

TUESDAY NIGHTS

8:00 p.m. 
ABC: "Selfie," "Manhattan Love Story"
CBS: "NCIS"
The CW: "The Flash"
FOX: "Utopia"
NBC: "The Voice"


9:00 p.m.
ABC: "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."
CBS: "NCIS: New Orleans"
The CW: "Supernatural"
FOX: "New Girl," "The Mindy Project"
NBC: "Marry Me," "About a Boy"


10:00 p.m. 
ABC: "Forever"
CBS: "Person of Interest"
NBC: "Chicago Fire"


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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 232

Dan and Alan discuss talk 'Crossbones,' 'Undatable,' 'Hannibal' and 'Mad Men'

The

Happy Tuesday, Boys & Girls! Time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast!

I'm in London on work. The audio quality in the podcast sucks. Sorry. Deal with it. It was either that, or we didn't talk about "Hannibal" and "Mad Men" and the various new shows that, frankly, we don't especially care if you watch or don't watch, since they're either not especially good, or we haven't seen enough of them to know for sure. 

But we definitely wanted to talk about the "Hannibal" finale, which capped off a terrific season, and the "Mad Men" midseason finale, which was a spectacular ending to a small chunk of episodes that doesn't quite seem like a season or a half-season.

Here's today's breakdown:
"Undateable" (00:01:20 - 00:10:30)
"Crossbones" (00:10:30 - 00:17:20)
"Halt and Catch Fire" (00:17:30 - 00:25:20)
"Hannibal" finale (00:25:40 - 00:43:30)
"Mad Men" midseason finale - (00:43:35 - 01:05:30)

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 or subscribe on IHeartRadio.] 

 

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

 

<p>The &quot;MasterChef&quot; judges</p>

The "MasterChef" judges

Credit: FOX

TV Ratings: '24,' 'Bachelorette' lead a slow Memorial Day Monday split

'MasterChef' is down from last summer's premiere

Fast National ratings for Monday, May 26, 2014.

FOX's "24: Live Another Day" and the premiere of "MasterChef" were down from last week and last summer respectively, but still helped FOX lead Monday night among young viewers, while ABC's "The Bachelorette" helped that network win overall despite its own week-to-week drops.

Want to know what was up from last week on Memorial Day? CBS' "Friends with Better Lives" was up, at least overall, though it was down in the key demo, as was NBC's return for "American Ninja Warrior."

There were lots of ugly numbers on Monday. Let's get to them...

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<p>&quot;Survivor: Cagayan&quot; winner Tony</p>

"Survivor: Cagayan" winner Tony

Credit: CBS

Interview: Tony Vlachos talks 'Survivor: Cagayan'

The season's winner on Trish, Idol-finding and Russell Hantz

The most memorable player in any give "Survivor" season is more a function of editing than of outwitting, outplaying and outlasting, so it stands to reason that there's absolutely no reason why the Sole Survivor should also be the Most Memorable Survivor.

When it comes to "Survivor: Cagayan," however, there will be no doubt: It was the season of Tony Vlachos.

The Jersey Cop build alliances, tore alliances apart, schemed, conspired, swore on loved ones, swore on his badge, found Idols, used Idols and bluffed with Idols. He also wasn't quiet about his domination of the game. Tony wore a target on his chest for 39 days and other players either chose to work with him, chose to vote other people out first or actively, in the case of Woo, carried Tony with him.

Woo's decision to bring Tony rather than Kass with him to Final Tribal will be debated as long as people debate "Survivor," but for a while it looked like a good move. The Jury was angry at Tony and one castaway after another stood up and criticized him and the spat vitriol at him. The Final Tribal concluded with 4th place finisher Spencer making a long, passionate speech in Tony's favor, but right up until the reading of the votes, it looked like it might be close.

It was not close.

Tony beat Woo 8-1, with only Tasha favoring Woo. 

I had a ton of questions for Tony, but a couple really long answers left me unable to ask a few good ones. Oh well. Tony's answers are thoughtful and, for the most part, do a good job of restating his convincing case as the season's dominant player and character.

Check out the full Q&A...

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<p>FOX&#39;s &quot;Gotham&quot;</p>

FOX's "Gotham"

DVR Gridlock 2014-15: Monday Nights

'Gotham' and the maybe-or-maybe-not triumphant return of Katherine Heigl mix things up

[As is my recent tradition, over the next six days, I'm going to be glancing, night-by-night, at how the primetime schedules have changed after the network announcements at upfronts. I'll be looking at how the various changes will impact the ratings races on each night, as well as my own DVRing habits. Readers can chime in on how their own DVRs will be impacted. And yes, this brief series assumes that anybody still watches TV on their TVs. I'm old-fashioned. It also assumes that you/I only have a dual tuner DVR (plus occasional access to a Slingbox on ET. Check out last year's DVR Gridlock installments and the DVR Gridlock segments for 2012.]


MONDAY NIGHTS

8:00 p.m.
ABC: "Dancing with the Stars"
CBS: "The Big Bang Theory" and "2 Broke Girls," "Mom"
The CW: "The Originals"
FOX: "Gotham"
NBC: "The Voice"

9:00 p.m.
ABC: "Dancing with the Stars"
CBS: "Scorpion"
The CW: "Jane the Virgin"
FOX: "Sleepy Hollow"
NBC: "The Voice"

10:00 p.m.
ABC: "Castle"
CBS: "NCIS: Los Angeles"
NBC: "The Blacklist"/"State of Affairs"

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