Inside TV+Movies with Daniel Fienberg
'Six Feet Under' vet talks gender identity, Jewishness and the Amazon process
[Warning: Read this interview after you've watched Jill Soloway's Amazon pilot "Transparent." It discusses the "surprise" of the pilot. Really, you can watch and enjoy the half-hour family comedy knowing the surprise, but if you like being 100 percent unspoiled, just check out the pilot and then come back.]
Usually there's a finite number of things to discuss when it comes to a half-hour comedy, but I probably had enough questions for "Transparent" writer-director Jill Soloway to fill an hour.
"Transparent" has been generally hailed as the cream of Amazon's most recent crop of pilots, which dropped last week. As with the first round of pilots, which yielded series orders for "Alpha House" and "Betas," Amazon is letting viewers watch all of the pilots and then weigh in with their feelings. That public sentiment will then factor into the decision-making process for the website.
So far so good, then, for "Transparent," the story of a dysfunctional group of siblings (played by Gaby Hoffman, Amy Landecker and Jay Duplass) who are about to learn that their father Mort (Jeffrey Tambor) is actually Moira, a trans woman.
Soloway, a "Six Feet Under" and "United States of Tara" veteran, has layered the pilot with sometimes sensitive, sometimes trenchant (sometimes both at once) observations about gender identity, sexuality, family ties, religion and Los Angeles. It's a pilot with a lot on its mind and a pilot that finds itself in the middle of a much bigger societal conversation.
I only got to the tip of those conversations, so you'll have to watch "Transparent" and rank it highly so that I can broach some more topics with Soloway after Amazon picks up a full season. Future topics will have to include the punny title, Gaby Hoffman's comeback, LA's East Side and more. But we covered some good ground.
Click through for the full Q&A...
'Buffy' vet will join Tom Papa in 'More Time With The Family'
On the day that all of the "How I Met Your Mother" cast members were tweeting about the show's final table read, we can confirm that Alyson Hannigan is hoping to stick with the network, signing on for a comedy pilot.
CBS' "More Time With The Family" stars veteran comic Tom Papa, who co-wrote the semi-autobiographical script with Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa. Papa plays a man who changes jobs in order to spend time with his family, only to discover that nobody in his family particularly wanted that quality time.
Oscar winner bounces back after 'Murder, She Wrote' stalled
It's hard to keep an Oscar winner eager to do television down.
Less than a month after NBC scrapped plans to reboot "Murder, She Wrote" with Octavia Spencer, the "Help" star has landed the lead in FOX's hour-long genre hybrid "Red Band Society."
Two casting stories... One blog post!
Time for a pair of casting notices that have nothing in common, but are still getting stuck together in one blog post just because:
Jane Krakowski has landed the lead in FOX's comedy pilot "Dead Boss," while Jason Isaacs is set to topline USA's event series "DIG."
More details below...
'Crazy Ones' and 'Two and a Half Men' will swap time slots
We may already be well into midseason, but CBS had some scheduling moves to make on Friday (February 14), including a pair of premiere dates and some scheduling experimentation ahead of upfronts in May.
The announcements include premiere dates for the new comedy "Bad Teacher" and the returning drama "Unforgettable," plus a Thursday comedy shakeup.
'American Idol' dips, while 'Rake' stays low-and-steady for FOX
Fast National ratings for Thursday, February 13, 2014.
A smattering over coverage from the men's figure skating short program helped NBC's Thursday Sochi Winter Olympics coverage rise slightly from Wednesday's block. The Sochi numbers were still well below what NBC was drawing earlier in the week, but still easily dominated Thursday primetime.
The night's only other original programming came on FOX, where "American Idol" dipped below 10 million viewers and also dipped below a 3.0 in the key demo. While "Idol" edged out CBS' "Big Bang Theory" repeat among young viewers, the "Big Bang" repeat dominated overall. It's the tiniest of silver linings for FOX, but "Rake" didn't slip any further in its latest airing.
Oh. Wait. ABC's "The Taste" is also original programming. It drew "Oops, we left the TV on to ABC" numbers on par with Tuesday's "Killer Women."
On to the numbers...
The judges make decisions, but leave one choice up to America
In two hours on Wednesday, "American Idol" revealed, by my count, the first 17 members of the Season 13 Top 30.
So that means that Thursday's (February 13) episode is going to take an accelerated pace as we zoom toward next week's live shows.
Lots of my early favorites haven't heard judgment yet, so click through and bite your fingernails along with me.
'Idol' is down week-to-week and NBC is down day-to-day
Fast National ratings for Wednesday, February 12, 2014.
[Ratings were delayed this morning, forcing you to wait four full hours to learn what you could have already guessed. Sorry.]
For the second straight day, NBC's primetime Winter Olympics coverage was built around the quest for a gold medal three-peat that fell short. But just as audiences tuned in to NBC to see Shaun White's disappointment, speedskater Shani Davis' loss (and other coverage from Sochi) still drew big numbers.
As we move deeper into the Olympics, the other networks are offering less and less competition -- "American Idol" was the only other original and took a week-to-week dip -- which made it even easy for NBC to coast, even if Wednesday's Olympics ratings were on the low side.
On to the numbers...
'Supernatural,' 'Originals' and one surprise also get pickups
Getting way out ahead of the spring curve, The CW renewed half of its primetime lineup on Thursday (February 13), led by four shows you already knew they were going to renew, plus one small surprise.
The not-surprises first: The CW has ordered a sixth season for "The Vampire Diaries," a 10th season for "Supernatural," a third season for "Arrow" and a second season for "The Originals."
What? you figured any of those dramas were going to be on the bubble? No.
El Rey Network's first original debuts on March 11
I'm mighty curious
about Robert Rodriguez's El Rey Network, which he has described as basically a curated network driven by the sensibility of the "El Mariachi" and "Spy Kids" creator.
Starting on Friday (February 14), El Rey Network will be doing the 24-hour programming thing, driven by cable rights to shows like "Starsky & Hutch," "Dark Angel" and "The X Files." Then on February 28, El Rey will begin Grindhouse Fridays.
El Rey gets really serious, though, on Tuesday, March 11 with the premiere of "From Dusk Till Dawn," an expansion of the universe created for the vampire film.