Monthly Archives: April 2006
One of the best shows on TV…PERIOD!
Huff is a Showtime television series about a successful psychiatrist
Dr. Craig Huffstodt(Hank Azaria) is a family man and a successful psychiatrist who gets a wake-up call when one of his patients, a 15-year-old boy, commits suicide during a therapy session. Huff’s whole existence – as doctor, husband, father, son, brother and friend – goes through a dramatic reawakening as he begins to question who he is, what he’s made of and how he fits in — anywhere. Having always considered himself the eternal caretaker, whose mission is to save people, Huff suddenly realizes that he can’t save everyone. The lines of reality start to blur as he goes from the functionally insane at the office to the daily insanities of life with his family at home. His nurturing nature is tested at nearly every turn and soon his so-called "normal" world and family life start to become as surreal as the world of his patients.
Whenever people talk about the great shows pay cable has to offer, they always talk about HBO. Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Sex and the City, Deadwood… Showtime never gets a mention, despite such great and innovative programs such as Dead Like Me, Jeremiah and now: Huff.
With Huff, like all their shows, Showtime manages to make a show with conflicted, real characters without resorting to graphic sex or violence. The language is still as harsh as ever, but it’s nothing you probably wouldn’t hear in the course of a day if you were in these situations.
Even if HBO gets all the press for their sex and violence, Showtime has another winner with Huff. Great stories, wonderfully real characters who – gasp! – make mistakes, amazing acting… Craig Huffstodt and Hank Azaria are two different people who happen to look and sound a lot alike, I must say. Paget Brewster is completely believable as the harried housewife and who would have thought Blythe Danner could be unlikeable?!
The show’s creator and executive producer is Bob Lowry. Hank Azaria plays the title character, Dr. Craig "Huff" Huffstodt.
The first season of the series (13 episodes) was broadcast on Showtime between November 7, 2004 and January 30, 2005. The second season is currently in production and premiered on April 2, 2006.
Huff is filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Besides Azaria, the cast includes Paget Brewster, Blythe Danner (who won the Emmy Award in 2005 for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Izzy), Oliver Platt, Anton Yelchin, Andy Comeau, Kimberly Brooks, and Jack Laufer.
Those making recurring guest appearances on the show during its first season include Lara Flynn Boyle, Robert Forster, Swoosie Kurtz, Annie Potts, and Faith Prince.
Sharon Stone and Angelica Huston are the recurring guest appearances this year.
What I liked:
The whole exchange between Sam and Josh was great
The second before the Sam reveal I was totally thinking to myself, this reminds me a lot of that scene in “In Search of Two Gunmen.”
It was not the old Sam Seaborn, but 4 years later, he wouldn’t be the same no matter what he was doing in the interim. But the fact that we still knew it was Sam is what makes me smile, because that’s what Rob does, make us believe that Sam means what he says. Sam clearly was paying attention, even if he wasn’t in the Santos campaign circus.
Lou waiting in the hallway for much of the episode. Her talk about "having a life."
The only thing that was missing was a scene with Donna and Sam.
Line of the night: "If it didn’t involve a motorcade, I’d drive you to the airport myself."
Very best part of an awesome episode: John Spencer still in the credits!
The Last Hurrah
While Santos is busy trying to select a new vice president, his wife finds her new responsibilities staggering.
So sad it’s going to end, thank goodness for Bravo and DVDs.
Ace Young becomes the sixth ‘American Idol 5’ finalist eliminated
American Idol voted out the sixth of its fifth season finalists during last weeks live results show, with Ace Young, a 25-year-old from Los Angeles, CA, being eliminated from the Fox reality talent competition as a result of receiving the fewest home viewer votes.
Ace had entertained the show’s audience by singing "That’s All" during the Tuesday night performance show that featured the finalists singing songs from Rod Stewart’s Great American Songbook series. While the night had featured an unprecedented amount of positive feedback from Idol’s judges, Ace — a one-time oddsmakers’ favorite who had been speculated to be on the elimination bubble in recent weeks — had been one of the few contestants to hear less than completely flattering comments. "It wasn’t bad, it was a little bit nasally in the middle of the song, but it was… a charming performance," judge Simon Cowell had remarked on Tuesday.
In addition to being a member of last week’s bottom three vote-getters, Ace had also been a member of Week 2 and Week 3’s bottom threesome.
Joining Ace in the week’s bottom three vote-getters were Paris Bennett and Chris Daughtry. While Paris had been a previous member of the show’s prior bottom threesomes, the inclusion of Chris — considered to be one of the competition’s strongest singers — was unexpected.
Chris, a 26-year-old from McLeansville, NC, had performed "What A Wonderful World" during Tuesday night’s show. After weeks of prodding from Simon, the song had marked Chris’ first departure from the rock format with which he had admitted being most comfortable — and Simon hadn’t hesitated to take credit for Chris’ strong performance of the song on Tuesday. However, after Wednesday’s broadcast revealed that the performance had landed Chris in the week’s bottom three, Simon quickly changed his tune. "I wasn’t the one who was singing," Simon replied curtly when Idol host Ryan Seacrest asked the Idol judge about the turn of events.
Paris, a 17-year-old from Fayetteville, GA, had sung "These Foolish Things." All three judges had largely praised the performance. "This was a classy, great performance," Idol judge Randy Jackson had remarked, deeming it her greatest performance ever. "I thought it was terrific," normally sharp-tongued Simon had added.
After revealing the bottom three vote-getters, Ryan disclosed that Paris had finished as the week’s third lowest vote-getter, leaving Ace and Chris to face elimination alone.
Ace took his elimination well. "I’ve had a blast and I can’t wait to perform [on Idol’s summer concert tour] with all the Top 10 and see all my fans that have seen me through the TV," he told Ryan after his fate was revealed.
This week will see another of Idol’s finalists eliminated, with the six remaining contestants once again taking to the stage during Tuesday’s 8PM ET/PT performance show and later learning their fate during Wednesday’s 9:00-9:30PM ET/PT live results show.
This episode was utterly disappointing to me. Just a glimpse of the end of the funeral?
I thought this episode was to be Leo’s funeral!
Too much politics. Not enough honoring Leo.
The moments that did get me:
I did love the montage in the teaser.
All three of Jed’s daughters in one shot!
When Jed told Margaret, "he loved you, you know." And the last scene between Jed and Josh . . . "Leo and I are the past, you are the future . . ." Also, Charlie was awesome, with Toby, with Donna, and throughout.
The second half got a little better — good Josh/Amy banter, Santos/Josh tension, Santos rendering Amy speechless — but the whole time, I’m waiting for them to get back to Leo, to a goodbye worthy of both the character and the actor, so the scenes didn’t play as well as they might have otherwise. And finally — FINALLY — the Leo story session: good stuff, but too little, too late.
Maybe even Sorkin would have found Leo’s requiem a daunting task, but this was appallingly off the mark. Leo, and John, deserved better.
For Mrs. Langinham we got one of the most moving hours on television. For Leo/John Spencer we got "another episode".
And he really died.
Maybe it’s just because Leo was one of the reasons I kept watching this show, but I was terribly disappointed. The moments that were best were the moments where they really commemorated Leo and how wonderful he was and they could have really used this episode to focus on that. They also could have found ways to work in scenes from previous episodes that really remind us of how wonderful the man was and what a fantastic actor John Spencer was, instead, this episode was devoid of the one soul who should have been a part of every single scene: Leo McGarry.
Next week Sam is back!!!
Sun, Apr 23
Former cast member Rob Lowe returns as Sam Seaborn in this episode, which finds Bartlet and his staff making the transition as easy as possible for the president-elect, who discovers some unpleasant realities about his new job. Meanwhile, a stressed-out Josh realizes that he may need to take some time off after he reaches his breaking point.
Leo Thomas McGarry
Position: White House Chief of Staff
Played By: John Spencer
Leo Thomas McGarry is a fictional character played by the late actor John Spencer on the television serial drama The West Wing. McGarry is the former United States Secretary of Labor, former White House Chief of Staff, Senior Counselor to Democratic President Josiah Bartlet, and the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee for the 2006 election. McGarry is in two of the five episodes of the show which were filmed but had not yet aired on television at the time of Spencer’s death on December 16, 2005. The show’s producers decided to let those episodes air in his memory.
Leo McGarry is from Chicago, Illinois, though there seems to be some family connection to (likely one or more of his parents were born in) Boston, Massachusetts. In seasons 2 and 6, Leo is said to be from Chicago, and in a season 1 episode Josh Lyman calls Leo "Boston Irish-Catholic." During the episode "The Portland Trip", it is strongly suggested by a conversation between the President and Leo that Leo attended the University of Michigan, at least for undergraduate work. Leo is a recovering alcoholic and valium addict. His problems with alcohol, as well as his workaholic attitude towards his job as Chief of Staff, contributed to his divorce from wife Jenny. It has also been revealed that Leo is an Air Force veteran and has achieved the rank of colonel, having flown F-105 Thunderchief fighter-bombers in the Vietnam War. Leo and Jenny have a daughter, Mallory, who is a recurring character and was a potential love interest for Sam Seaborn. They spent most of their time arguing; Mallory usually picks the fights just to have Sam argue with her. Since Sam left the White House, Mallory has been largely absent from the show as well.
Having resigned from his post as Secretary of Labor to Republican President Owen Lassiter some time in mid-1997, Leo went to New Hampshire to persuade Governor Josiah Bartlet, an old friend, to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Having so persuaded Bartlet, Leo became his campaign manager, dubbing the campaign "Bartlet For America" and hiring such top political talent as Josh Lyman, Toby Ziegler, C.J. Cregg, and Sam Seaborn to work for the campaign. Eventually, Governor Bartlet, who was considered to be an insurgent candidate by the media, defeated Senator John Hoynes of Texas (whom Leo picked as Bartlet’s vice presidential nominee to balance the ticket) for the nomination and went on to win the presidency.
As President Bartlet’s top advisor, Leo had an office adjacent to the Oval Office and sat in with the President in the Situation Room. Leo was very involved in the formation of policy and the day-to-day operations of the White House and its staff. On more than one occasion, Leo was said to be the man who "runs the country", and is treated with great respect/fear by people on both sides of the aisle.
Education: Undergraduate – There is a discussion in "The Portland Trip" that might indicate that he went to Michigan (traditional rival of Notre Dame where Bartlet went). Law School (?Chicago?) Background:
Military Service: Served in Vietnam as a pilot (flew an Air Force F-105, one mission he was part of was called "Rolling Thunder" in 1966 as part of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing
MY TWO CENTS ON JOHN SPENCER:
A truly talented actor who gave a depth and dimension to the roles he played that we very rarely see in the modern acting world. Leo McGarry was one of my my favorite characters on the West Wing and one of my all time favorite characters on television.
The untimely and premature death of John Spencer and to this character will leave a deep void in the acting industry and many of us around the world will miss seeing his face and his wonderful acting grace our television screens.
Rest in peace John Spencer and thank you for your contribution to this world. My sincere and heartfelt thoughts, and condolences go out to John Spencer’s family, friends and co workers on the loss of such a wonderful man.
You will be deeply missed!!
WEST WING QUOTES
Bartlet: Thank you for coming. How was your flight?
Leo: So I see.
Marbury: [to Leo] Allow me to present myself, Lord John Marbury, I was summoned by your President.
Leo: Yes. We’ve met, ten or twelve times. I’m Leo McGarry.
Marbury: I thought you were the butler.
Leo: No, I’m the White House Chief of Staff.
Marbury: Nonetheless, would you have something with which to light my cigarette?
Leo: No, I’m afraid we don’t allow smoking in this part of the world.
Marbury: Really? In that part we encourage it!
Leo McGarry and John Spencer
Bucky Covington the fifth ‘American Idol 5’ finalist eliminated
American Idol voted out the fifth of its fifth season finalists during last weeks live results show, with Bucky Covington, a 28-year-old from Rockingham, NC, being eliminated from the Fox reality talent competition as a result of receiving the fewest home viewer votes.
Bucky had entertained the show’s audience by singing "Fat Bottomed Girls" during Tuesday’s Queens-themed performance show. Although Simon Cowell had deemed the countrified performance "quite mediocre," fellow judges Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson had liked it. "You stayed true to who you are, and you made ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ a country song," Paula had gushed on Tuesday.
Joining Bucky in the week’s bottom three vote-getters were Elliott Yamin and Ace Young. Both had previously ranked among the competition’s bottom three, with Elliott also ranking as a member of last week’s threesome and Ace being a part of Week 2 and 3’s bottom three.
Elliott, a 27-year-old from Richmond, VA, had performed Queen’s "Somebody to Love" during Tuesday night’s show. All three judges had made positive comments about the performance. "All in all, I loved you man, I thought it was really, really good," Randy had remarked during Idol’s performance show.
Ace, a 25-year-old from Denver, CO, had sung "We Will Rock You" — a shaky performance that had even Paula struggling to offer positive feedback. While Randy and Paula attempted to remain more diplomatic, Simon was — as usual — more blunt. "It was ‘We Will Rock You Gently,’ I really, really, really hated that, I’m Sorry" said Simon. "It was a complete and utter mess."
After dragging out the special even more padded than usual one-hour results show by having each of the bottom three vote-getters re-perform their song after learning they were in the bottom three, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest revealed that Bucky would be going home.
Bucky took his elimination well. "Somebody’s got to go," he told Ryan after his fate was revealed.
Next week will see another of Idol’s finalists eliminated, with the seven remaining contestants once again taking to the stage during Tuesday’s 8PM ET/PT performance show and later learning their fate during Wednesday’s 9:00-9:30PM ET/PT live results show
"24" star Kiefer Sutherland has inked a multifaceted deal with 20th Century Fox Television and is on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine.
The rich pact, which is set to begin in June, calls for the actor to continue on the hit Fox drama for three more years and includes a two-year development deal for Sutherland’s soon-to-be-launched production banner.
Details on the deal were sketchy Friday, but sources pegged the acting portion alone at more than $40 million for the three seasons, which could make Sutherland the highest paid actor in drama series.
While the deal with Sutherland locks him in for three additional years beyond the current fifth season of "24", the 20th TV/Imagine TV-produced show so far has been picked up for one additional season.
Under the pact, Sutherland also will be elevated from a co-executive producer to executive producer on "24" next season alongside Joel Surnow, Robert Cochran, Howard Gordon and Evan Katz.
The development portion of the deal is said to include overhead and a development fund for Sutherland’s company. Sutherland will hire a development executive and will begin to develop and executive produce projects for television as well the Internet and wireless devices.
"Working with Kiefer Sutherland over the past five seasons of ’24’ has been one of the great pleasures of my professional career," 20th TV president Dana Walden said. "He is an extraordinary actor with amazing instincts, he’s fiercely intelligent, and he has fantastic taste in material."
Added 20th TV president Gary Newman, "In his years on ’24,’ Kiefer has demonstrated an incredible understanding of what makes for a compelling story or character, and he brings a passion to the process of making television that extends well beyond his own performance. We believe he could become every bit as accomplished a producer as he is a performer."
Sutherland called his past five years on the show "one of the most creative and rewarding experiences in my career."
He added: "The extraordinary support that we have received from Dana Walden, Gary Newman and everyone at Twentieth has made a difficult show like ’24’ succeed on all levels, and for that I’m truly grateful. I am thrilled to extend my commitment to all my friends and colleagues at ’24,’ and I’m looking forward to this expanded relationship with 20th Century Fox."
In its fifth season, "24" is enjoying some of its best ratings and critical notices. The show, which introduced the now-hot serialized thriller genre, also has become a DVD best-seller and has spawned a mobile phone series.
Sutherland’s performance on "24" has earned him a Golden Globe award and four Emmy nominations.
On the big screen, he next will be seen opposite Michael Douglas and Kim Basinger in "The Sentinel" and also as the voice of the lion in Disney’s "The Wild."
This is a great op ed piece I read about the Legacy of the West Wing
The Legacy of The West Wing How Things Ought to Be
by Katherine Brengle
On Sunday night, the greatest show in television history said its final farewell to America. In a mad swirl of drama and classic idealism, we watched as Leo McGarry mirrored John Spencer’s too early departure from this world. We watched as an eerily familiar election night played out, both sides wondering if they would need to file lawsuits after the polls closed, a razor thin victory, and a news media extremely hesitant to announce the results of exit polls or call the election for either candidate.
Perhaps the integrity and strength of character shown by both candidates was a little unrealistic–after all, politicians are not known for always taking the high road–but it showed us what elections should be like in this country.
Our elections should be positive, not fraught with tension and negative campaigning.
Our elections should be clean, not filthy with corruption, conflicts of interest, and fraud.
Our elections should be between Americans of quality, not battles between megalomaniacs.
Our elections should be about making America better for Americans, not about dividing Americans in order to make life better for a tiny handful of wealthy business owners.
The West Wing was fairly idealized fiction, but for one hour a week for the past six years, it gave us a glimpse of what American politics could be, with a little integrity, honesty, and heart. For those of us deeply pained by the current direction in which this country is moving, it was a necessary and beloved escape from reality. For me, it was a peek at possibility.
There really are Josiah Bartlets in this world–men and women who, though imperfect, have a deep and abiding love for this country and its people, a desire to perform a vital public service, and the ability to do so with honesty and an open-mind not guided by political dogma alone.
There really are politicians out there who understand what they have been elected to do, to represent the will of the American people, and want to fulfill this sacred duty. There really are American men and women serving in public office who know that when it comes to matters of public policy, their job is truly to put their own opinions and needs aside and listen to the people.
If this television phenomenon taught us anything, it showed us that there is something of American politics left to save. There is a tiny shard of truth and hope and beauty and idealism buried beneath the surface of grime and mud and lies and nastiness and corruption and pragmatic indifference to which we have become accustomed.
The West Wing is now a thing of the past, added to our DVD collections and pop-culture trivia, but its message is one that will be carried into the future.