On filming in Monument Valley, keeping secrets from her co-stars and more
As I explained yesterday, the new season of "Doctor Who" - the first one to air day-and-date in both American and the UK, and the first to feature filming on location in America - debuts on BBC America on Saturday night at 9. And last week, I went to BBC America's New York offices to interview Matt Smith, Alex Kingston and Karen Gillan. I posted the Smith interview in two parts yesterday, and Gillan will be posted tomorrow.
Today, though, it's Alex Kingston's turn. She's not a regular castmember, but producer Steven Moffat has made her time-traveling archaeologist character River Song just as important as the ongoing companions - in some ways more, since River and the Doctor have such a complicated, and possibly intimate, relationship.
In part 1 of the interview (part 2 is here), Kingston and I talk about how it felt to film in Monument Valley, at what stages she's learned things about River and the Doctor's relationship that even Smith doesn't know, and more.
Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Louis C.K. and Ricky Gervais discuss their profession, no holds barred
I'm a decent interviewer, and certainly better than in my younger years when most of my interviews amounted to little more than a tape-recorded version of "The Chris Farley Show." ("Remember when Sipowicz called that guy a hump? That was awesome!") Still, no matter how skilled I get at asking the right questions in the right order, I can never shake the feeling that, because I don't share a common frame of reference with my subjects, there's only so deep our conversations can go. Even in the midst of a long, involved, interesting discussion, there will inevitably come a point where I can see in my subject's eyes, or hear in their voices, that sense of, "I wish I could explain it to you, but you really had to be there and do what I've done."
Because that's a barrier I usually can't cross, I've always been a sucker for subject-on-subject interviews, where a pair of people from the same field, usually at the same level of fame and often familiar with each other in real life, sit down, shoot the breeze and - if they're done right - ask each other the sorts of questions that would never occur to me no matter how much research I did.
HBO's new special "Talking Funny," which debuts Friday night at 9, is a classic example of how effective that approach can be. The concept is simple: Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Louis C.K. and Ricky Gervais sit on a living room set and spend an hour discussing their approaches to stand-up comedy.
Paint cans, pierced ears and a rock-climbing wall figure into one of the season's best episodes
Raylan goes rogue, while Boyd and Dickie square off, in another tense episode
Jules tries to prove a point to Ellie, while Laurie fights maturity, in a very strong episode
Louis C.K. to team up with talking dog in June, final 'Rescue Me' season in July
While FX's two most recent series, "Terriers" and "Lights Out," didn't succeed, overall the channel has had a healthy last few years, including last summer's launch of Louis C.K.'s brilliant low-budget comedy "Louie." Today, FX announced the return date for "Louie," which will be paired with the very promising - and very strange - new comedy "Wilfred," along with the premiere date for the final season of "Rescue Me."
On the Doctor's companions, the franchise's legacy, and more
As I explained in part 1 of this interview post, the new season of "Doctor Who" debuts on BBC America Saturday night at 9 with an episode set in, and that was partially filmed in, America. I went to BBC America's offices last week to interview three of the show's stars, including the Doctor himself, Matt Smith, and will be posting my videos of those chats over the next few days.
In part 2, Smith and I (each with a hoarse voice for an entirely different reason; his is better than mine) talk about the Doctor's feelings about Amy Pond's husband (and new full-time companion) Rory, about being part of the "lost generation" in the UK that grew up without new "Doctor Who" episodes, and a lot more.
Enjoy. Back tomorrow with Alex Kingston, then Karen Gillan on Friday and a review of the premiere Saturday night after it airs on the East Coast.
On filming in America and playing the youngest Doctor ever
The new season of "Doctor Who" debuts on BBC America Saturday night at 9, and for the first time in this modern era of the iconic sci-fi series, the new episodes will be airing in America on the same day they premiere in the UK. No more complicated spoiler rules, no more worrying about people from one continent (or people who illegally downloaded the UK versions) messing things up for people on another, etc. Now, the great majority of us will be on the same page.
And in a very appropriate (if coincidental) move, given the new scheduling arrangement, the new season has another first: the first footage actually produced in America, as significant chunks of the season-opening two-parter were filmed in Utah's famed Monument Valley, made famous by classic John Ford Westerns like "Stagecoach" and "The Searchers." It's a terrific two-parter, full of the kind of twisty puzzle logic that's been a hallmark of producer Steven Moffat's writing for the series, and a fine showcase not only for the regulars but recurring guest star Alex Kingston.
Last week, I went to BBC America's Manhattan office to interview Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Kingston about the new season, and the experience of filming in the States, and I decided to try something different and do them as videos. On the plus side, Smith is a very animated speaker, as you'd imagine from watching him play the Doctor. On the minus side, Smith and I were both speaking with wrecked voices, me from a cold, Smith from having been out the night before at a soul concert in Brooklyn.
Slow and steady progress from the great love letter to New Orleans
As we return to the post-Katrina New Orleans of "Treme" for the start of season two (Sunday night at 10 on HBO), things are in many ways much better for the musicians, chefs and other locals we met in the drama's first season.
Itinerant trombonist Antoine Batiste (Wendell Pierce) decides the time is right to form and front his own band, while his ex-wife LaDonna (Khandi Alexander) coincidentally decides to expand her bar's business by adding live music. Trouble-making DJ Davis McAlary (Steve Zahn) tries to start a record label to promote his love of the city's bounce music, while his violinist friend Annie (Lucia Micarelli) finally starts establishing herself in the local music scene. Mardi Gras Indian chief Albert Lambreaux (Clarke Peters) gets to work patching up the home that was destroyed in the storm, while his trumpet-playing son Delmond (Rob Brown) sets out to reinvent his sound and, in the process, reconnect with his New Orleans roots.
Most of these characters have moved past mere survival now. Their lives have found some level of post-Katrina equilibrium, and now they're all looking to build something. It's an attitude exemplified by one of this season's two new characters, Nelson Hidalgo (Jon Seda), a carpetbagger from Texas looking to get rich by helping to reconstruct the devastated city.
Lots of laughter and tears in the season 2 finale