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zondag 7 oktober 2012

Red Dwarf X: Trojan review

Red Dwarf goes back to its roots and is all the better for it in the opening episode of this new series. Here's Pete's review of Trojan...

Trojan is the first episode of the first full new series of Red Dwarf since Red Dwarf VIII ended in April 1999. As such, it arguably has a bigger job to do than any episode since the sitcom’s conception; not only does it have to establish the status quo for the middle-aged boys from the Dwarf, but all eyes are also going to be on this one for signs that Red Dwarf X can stand up there with its lesser-numbered brothers, and that bringing it back was the right thing to do.

Perhaps wisely, Trojan wastes no time at all on continuity and forgoes any explanation of where they are, why the ship looks different, and what’s happened to Holly, instead leaping straight into a seemingly classic Red Dwarf setup - four guys in space, flying in the vague direction of home. There’s a mention of Kochanski at one point (2009’s Back to Earth ended with Lister resolving to find her), but even that’s given as part of a throwaway joke rather than a nod towards any ongoing storyline.

Not that Trojan is continuity-free, mind; a couple of minutes into the episode we’re told that Rimmer has re-sat his astro-navigation exam as part of his ongoing bid to become an officer. Some minutes later, he’s received a distress call from his brother Howard, and Rimmer’s resentment at growing up in his brother’s more talented shadow is brought to the fore.

Whether intentional or otherwise, this is a really canny move from writer Doug Naylor, as both of these were strong recurring story elements during the first few years of ‘classic’ Red Dwarf; having them pop up in the series opener feels like a deliberate message to long-term fans that the show is going back to its roots, with stories based around the characters rather than the contrived plots-of-the-week which marked some of the series’ weaker later episodes.

Predictably and comfortingly, this Rimmer-centric plot brings with it plenty of classic moments and - most importantly - very funny scenes. From the brilliant ‘hey ho pip and dandy’ exchange with Kryten through to the long-awaited confrontation between Arnold and Howard, Chris Barrie is on top form, running the full range of weasel-ly emotions, and feeling the most Rimmer-like the character has in years.

In fact, this is true of all four of the regulars; whether this is due to the cast being energised by the studio audience, a concerted effort by Naylor and the cast, the addition of long-term fan Andrew Ellard as script editor or some combination of the above, it’s been well over a decade since the characters were written and performed so well.

An early example of this is the moose bunkroom scene near the middle of the episode, which sees all four actors hitting their marks as the joke builds to a superb climax - during the recording of the episode, the mere fact that Cat entered the room when he did was enough to get a huge wave of applause - because these characters feel so familiar, we know what’s coming, and when it does come it doesn’t disappoint. It’s a scene which is easily up there with some of the best in the show’s history.

And it’s not the only one; Rimmer’s confrontation with Howard, replete with nods to Star Trek but having far too much work of its own to do to waste time engaging in full-on parody, is everything you might expect it to be and more. Guest actor Mark Dexter is excellent as the aforementioned brother, perfectly embodying the condescending Howard and imbuing him with enough of Rimmer’s own characteristics that when he makes his confession to Rimmer it’s believable and even sympathetic - yet Rimmer’s response still makes for a nice moment of triumph over his bullying sibling. This scene is accentuated by some stunning work from composer Howard Goodall, who even manages to slip in a sad version of the Rimmer Song from Series VII’s Blue.

Whilst Cat and Kryten both get their fair share of gags in the episode, with Danny John-Jules stealing more than one scene, Lister’s role in proceedings does fall slightly flat in places. Lister’s subplot, involving his attempts to get through to the call centre of an android shopping channel, does have its moments, and the way it ties into the episode’s climax is very neatly done, but it veered into weak observational humour on an oft-tackled subject too frequently for my liking.

Indeed, the comedy in Trojan as a whole does feel a little too broad on occasion - such as the pig racing or the moustache-drawing scene, which sorely lacks a pay-off - and there were exchanges, such as the conversation about Rimmer’s self-help book, that seemed to continue a line or two past their natural punchline, but by and large the jokes in this episode really did hit and, as I noted in my spoiler-free review of the episode, the fight to record the series in front of a studio audience was certainly not in vain - the audience laughter really helps get the timing on many of the jokes just right.

Praise must also go to the set and costume designers on the series. The standing sets aboard the Dwarf evoke a classic series feel whilst also being something completely new, as do the costumes of the Dwarfers themselves; all four are instantly recognisable as the old characters, but with changes befitting their increasing age.

There has already been some debate about the new Kryten costume, but Kryten’s look has always been evolving - the Kryten of series three and the Kryten of series eight look very different from one another, and this is the next step in that evolution; it’s different, but not enough to detract from the character.

As previously noted, the new super-detailed model of Red Dwarf is very impressive, and the design of the sleek and sexy (but battered) SS Trojan contrasts it well and matches the slightly Trek-y feel of the ship’s bridge. These shots are used understandably sparingly, but it really helps to add a sense of scale to proceedings, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what other visual treats Red Dwarf X has in store.

Trojan is a relatively intimate plot from a show which seemingly knows - and is comfortable with - its limitations and is all the better for it. Filled with solid character-driven gags and an enthusiastic cast who seem a good ten years younger than they actually are, it’s a very strong start to the new run. Roll on next week!

'Strictly Come Dancing' show two: Who sizzled on the dancefloor?

After last night's sizzling show opener, the sequins and fake tan machine went into overdrive this evening as the next eight celebrities performed their first routines.

Cheeky cha cha chas and wobbly waltzes was the order of the evening as the judges got their first look at the stars in their dancing shoes.

Girls Aloud star Kimberley Walsh was many fans' early tip for glory, but did her cha cha cha live up to the hype? And did Louis Smith and Flavia Cacace create magic on the dancefloor with their routine?

Richard Arnold is expected to provide laughs during the series, but can he also dance? And what did you think to Sid Owen's waltz and Johnny Ball's cha cha cha?

Dani Harmer and Vincent Simone make a cute couple, but did the pocket rocket duo's waltz electrify or bomb?

Lisa Riley and Robin Windsor made an impact with their cha cha cha, but was it a good one? And has Anton Du Beke found his first ever winner with Jerry Hall and her moves from Jagger? Or does he face the prospect of another Widdecombe-esque nightmare?

Gordon Ramsay, Mary Portas's 'Hotel GB' trainees all offered jobs

Hotel GB came to a close on Friday night (October 5), with all the trainees securing at least one job offer.

The Channel 4 series saw stars such as Gordon Ramsay, Mary Portas, Kirstie Allsopp and Gok Wan take over a hotel and staff it with unemployed people seeking an opportunity, while also raising money for the Prince's Trust and Springboard charities.

Across the week, employers from a number of UK firms involved in the hotel and leisure industry visited undercover to test the workers' skills with a view to potential employment.

During the live final, it was confirmed that all 14 trainees had been presented with jobs, while - as promised from the beginning - Ramsay and Portas also offered jobs to one person from each of their teams.

Ramsay selected former cruise dancer and hostess Gun from Birmingham, saying: "I'm delighted to offer Gun a role within Gordon Ramsay Holdings.

"She is inspirational and has shown an amazing level of composure and leadership in a pressurised and busy environment.

"It's been an intense week at Hotel GB but I'm so pleased to see how all the trainees have developed not just in skill but confidence and I wish them all the best for the future."

Portas picked 26-year-old Emily from Huyton, who previously had difficulty finding flexible employment after giving birth two years ago.

"Emily has been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in the world of fashion to master the basics of buying, selling, styling and service before taking up a position on the floor of one of my flagship stores," the Queen of Shops star said.

'American Idol' Producers Show Support After Mariah Carey-Nicki Minaj Flap

The producers of "American Idol" are offering a seemingly sincere show of support after the seemingly manufactured blow-up between new judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj.

Following a leaked video of an altercation between Minaj and Carey, and even a report of a possible death threat, "Idol's" producers collectively issued a statement late Friday, saying that the current crew is "passionate, dynamic and invested."

"This is one of the best, most passionate, dynamic and invested judging panels we've ever had," the producers say. "We love and support all of the judges and the fantastic work they are doing, and we can't imagine a better group to find the next American Idol."

The producers added, "Despite all the accusations and media speculation --  much of which is inaccurate -- production is going extremely well today and the judges are focused on finding the best talent here in Baton Rouge."

Reports of tension between Minaj and Carey erupted earlier this week, when TMZ published a leaked video from an "Idol" audition in Charlotte, N.C., during which Minaj hurled several choice words in Carey's direction.

The situation escalated later in the week, when Barbara Walters revealed that Carey had told her that Minaj had threatened to shoot the singer.

“She said that when Nicki walked off the set, multiple people heard Nicki say, ‘If I had a gun I would shoot the bitch,’” Walters recalled on the daytime talk show "The View" on Thursday.

Very dramatic stuff. But many -- including TheWrap -- have suggested that the brouhaha had been ginned up in order to build interest in the long-running series, which begins its next season early next year.

Nice to see the "Idol" producers working to mend fences -- and assuring that people will still be talking about the incident into the weekend.

Alec Baldwin Says He Offered to Take Pay Cut to Save '30 Rock'

Apparently, Alec Baldwin has something in common with Jay Leno besides being on NBC. And having a personality that's considered abrasive by some.

"30 Rock" star Baldwin took to Twitter on Thursday to announce that he, like "Tonight Show" host Leno, had offered to lower his salary for the good of his show.

Also read: Alec Baldwin Calls Hank Williams Jr. "a Pathetic, Wheezing Fossil" for Dissing Obama

Unlike with Leno, however, his offer was declined.

"I offered NBC to cut my pay 20% in order to have a full 7th and 8th seasons of 30 Rock. I realize times have changed," Baldwin tweeted.

NBC renewed "30 Rock" for an abbreviated seventh season in May. That season premiered Thursday night to a 1.3 rating/4 share in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic, its lowest premiere performance on record. So perhaps Baldwin was better off.

The network declined to comment on Baldwin's claim when contacted by TheWrap.

Despite wanting to extend "30 Rock"'s run, Baldwin -- who plays cutthroat corporate exec Jack Donaghy on the series -- tweeted that he's eager for some rest and relaxation.

"I am looking forward to some time off. A lot of time off," Baldwin wrote.

And at least he'll have that much more cash on hand to enjoy during his down time.

Simon Cowell 'wants, Cheryl Cole for X Factor'

Simon Cowell is reportedly hoping to persuade Cheryl Cole to return to The X Factor by hiring

The show's creator is said to be planning a major overhaul for the next series and is prepared to spend "at least £2 million" to poach the Black Eyed Peas star from The Voice UK to facilitate Cole's full-time return.

The Girls Aloud singer was a popular judge between 2008 and 2010. She left for a role on The X Factor USA last year, but was axed after a few weeks. She later turned down an offer to return to the UK version, following manager's advice.

However, Cole recently helped Gary Barlow out at Judges' Houses on the current series of The X Factor and producers think her comeback would increase falling ratings.

"We need to do something dramatic and this would be a coup. It would give us the best judging lineup in X Factor history," a source told The Mirror.

"One of the problems this year has been the judges so that's what we need to address. Will would be the best person on the planet to persuade Cheryl that one last hurrah could be fun. Though we realise it would be expensive."

The report adds that Cowell is even considering returning to the show himself, meaning next year's lineup could differ dramatically from the current panel of Tulisa Contostavlos, Nicole Scherzinger, Gary Barlow and Louis Walsh.

Cowell and are said to be working on a technology-themed X Factor-style show to find the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. is also due to appear on The X Factor USA at Judges' Houses.

TV Tonight 7th of October 2012

The daily list in alphabetical order, of all the new episodes airing.

    60 Minutes (US) S45E02: "Season 45, Episode 2"
    666 Park Avenue S01E02: "Murmurations"
    Alaska State Troopers S04E01: "Extreme Justice"
    Alaska State Troopers S04E02: "Knife Fight"
    America's Funniest Home Videos S23E01: "Season 23, Episode 1"
    American Dad! S08E02: "Killer Vacation"
    Andrew Marr's History Of The World S01E03: "The Word and the Sword"
    Antiques Roadshow S35E01: "RAF Marham (1)"
    Austin & Ally S02E01: "Costumes & Courage"
    Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes S02E22: "The Deadliest Man Alive"
    Behind The Music S13E12: "Nicole Scherzinger"
    Being: Liverpool S01E04: "To Bleed Red"
    Big Brother (AU) S09E48: "Live Eviction"
    Big Rich Texas S03E01: "Botox & Billionaires"
    Bleach (US) S14E09: "Hitsugaya, the Desperate Hyōten Hyakkasō!"
    Boardwalk Empire S03E04: "Blue Bell Boy"
    Bob's Burgers S03E02: "Full Bars"
    Breaking Amish S01E05: "What Is Really Happening?"
    Bridezillas S09E18: "Cristal & Sherry"
    Built In Britain S01E01: "Episode 1"
    Cardfight!! Vanguard S02E27: "Q4 vs. Ultra-rare"
    Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew S06E04: "Anger Management"
    Code: Breaker S01E01: "Episode 1"
    Copper S01E08: "Better Times Are Coming"
    Cupcake Wars S07E01: "Big Time Rush"
    Curiosity S02E01: "Plane Crash"
    Czas honoru S05E06: "Pamiątka z Powstania"
    Deadline 14/10 S01E07: "Aflevering 7"
    Deadline 14/10 S01E08: "Aflevering 8"
    Deal Or No Deal (UK) S08E48: "Episode 2041"
    Destination Fear S01E03: "Camp Boogeyman; Wendigo"
    Dexter S07E02: "Sunshine and Frosty Swirl"
    Downton Abbey S03E04: "Series 3, Episode 4"
    Dragons' Den (UK) S10E05: "Series 10, Episode 5"
    Family Guy S11E02: "Ratings Guy"
    Football Night in America S07E05: "Week 5"
    Forbrydelsen S03E03: "Day 3"
    Formula 1 S04E38: "Japanese Grand Prix Highlights"
    Friday Night Dinner S02E01: "Buggy"
    Glam Fairy S02E01: "Wedding Clashers"
    Good Luck Charlie S03E16: "Le Halloween"
    Halloween Wars S02E01: "Evil Clowns"
    Heartland (CA) S06E04: "The Natural"
    Hell on Wheels S02E10: "Blood Moon Rising"
    Hell on Wheels S02E09: "Blood Moon"
    Hellstrøm Rydder Opp - Hjemme S02E05: "Season 2, Episode 5"
    Homeland S02E02: "Beirut is Back"
    House Husbands S01E06: "Episode 6"
    Hunter X Hunter Remake S02E01: "Ally x And x Sword"
    I Kveld Med Ylvis S02E08: "Season 2, Episode 8"
    I Survived S06E39: "Shannon / Ken / Angela"
    Iron Chef America S10E27: "Zakarian vs. Frauneder"
    Kevin McCloud's Man Made Home S01E03: "Episode 3"
    Killing Time S02E01: "Series 2, Episode 1"
    Long Island Medium S03E00: "On The Road"
    Making Monsters S02E04: "You Bug Me"
    Making Monsters S02E03: "Transworld 29.0"
    Married to Jonas S01E07: "In-Laws & Outdoors"
    MasterChef S01E06: "Season 1, Episode 6"
    Masterpiece S42E24: "Upstairs Downstairs, II
    Million Dollar Contractor S02E06: "Walls of Wood"
    NFL on CBS S15E27: "Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs"
    NFL on CBS S15E31: "Buffalo Bills at San Francisco 49ers"
    NFL on CBS S15E26: "Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals"
    NFL on CBS S15E30: "Denver Broncos at New England Patriots"
    NFL on CBS S15E29: "Tennessee Titans at Minnesota Vikings"
    NFL on CBS S15E28: "Cleveland Browns at New York Giants"
    NFL On FOX S19E27: "Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers"
    NFL On FOX S19E26: "Green Bay Packers at Indianapolis Colts"
    NFL On FOX S19E30: "Chicago Bears at Jacksonville Jaguars"
    NFL On FOX S19E29: "Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers"
    NFL On FOX S19E28: "Atlanta Falcons at Washington Redskins"
    Once Upon a Time S02E02: "We Are Both"
    One Piece (JP) S06E51: "Episode 51"
    Oprah's Next Chapter S01E36: "Fergie"
    Planet Earth Live S02E05: "A Meerkat's Tale"
    Points Of View S40E04: "October 7, 2012"
    Revenge S02E02: "Resurrection"
    Robot Chicken S06E04: "Poisoned by Relatives"
    Rove LA S02E02: "Rainn Wilson, Sarah Wayne Callies and Mike "The Miz" Mizanin"
    Sins & Secrets S03E07: "Hilo"
    Snapped S09E21: "Rachel Wade"
    So You Think You Can Dance (NL/BE) S05E06: "Season 5, Episode 6"
    Solsidan S03E01: "Season 3, Episode 1"
    Strike Back: Vengeance S03E06: "Vengeance, Episode 6"
    Sunday Night Football S07E08: "San Diego Chargers at New Orleans Saints"
    Superjail! S03E02: "Superfail"
    Tatort S43E24: "Nachtkrapp"
    The Amazing Race S21E02: "Long Hair, Don't Care:
    The Chase (2009) S05E110: "Celebrity Special - 6"
    The Cleveland Show S04E01: "Escape From Goochland"
    The Good Wife S04E02: "And The Law Won"
    The Mentalist S05E02: "Devil's Cherry"
    The Only Way Is Essex S07E03: "Series 7, Episode 3"
    The Project S04E239: "Season 4, Episode 239"
    The Real Housewives of New Jersey S04E22: "Reunion, Part 2"
    The Simpsons S24E02: "Treehouse of Horror XXIII"
    The X Factor (UK) S09E13: "Series 9 - Elimination - 1 (Result)"
    The Xtra Factor S09E13: "Series 9, Live Show Extra 1 (Result)"
    Toriko S02E26: "Episode 26"
    Treme S03E03: "Me Donkey Want Water"
    Uchuu Kyoudai S01E27: "One Question"
    Ultimate Spider-Man S01E23: "Not A Toy"
    Unusual Suspects S04E05: "Mother's Day Murders"
    Watch What Happens: Live S08E21: "Wendy Williams"
    Winx Club S05E06: "The Power of Harmonix"
    X Faktor (HU) S03E08: "Mentorok háza - 2."

Injunction Against Lifetime's 'Steel Magnolias' Adaptation Slapped Down by Judge

The world will get to see Lifetime's take on "Steel Magnolias" on Sunday after all.

A judge in Los Angeles Superior Court denied an injunction request from Victoria White, the executive producer of the 1989 film "Steel Magnolias," requesting that the adaptation be barred from airing as part of a lawsuit against Lifetime, A&E Networks and Sony Pictures Television, a representative from Sony TV told TheWrap.

White filed suit earlier this week, alleging breach of contract and breach of implied covenant, claiming that she is entitled to a producer's credit and financial compensation for Lifetime's "Steel Magnolias" adaptation, which stars Queen Latifah and Phylicia Rashad .

According to the suit, White entered into an agreement with Rastar Productions -- which was later acquired by Sony Pictures -- that was "intended to reward Ms. White financially if the Motion Picture release was successful and derivative works based on the Motion Picture were ever produced for the television market."

White claims that, under the agreement, she should receive credit as a co-producer or co-executive producer on the Lifetime adaptation, plus a production fee of $15,000, plus other compensation, including a percentage of the profits.

The suit notes that White received credit and compensation for a 1992 TV adaptation of the film, but the defendants claimed that her agreement was limited to the 1992 adaptation when she asked about the latest incarnation.

White is seeking unspecified damages in the suit, and had asked that the film be blocked from airing without her credit being included.

'Merlin' review: Series five premiere 'Arthur's Bane (Part One)'

It may have started out rather uneven, but the longer it's gone on, the more Merlin has found its footing. The old adage of, 'This is the biggest and best series yet' may be rolled out a lot in the television world, but with this series, that really is the case.

And despite cosmetic changes to this fifth series - Gwen (Angel Coulby) has become Camelot's new Queen, the Knights of the Round Table are now firmly established in Camelot - Merlin quickly re-asserts what it does best early on in 'Arthur's Bane (Part One)'. There's epic adventure, scenes of derring-do and, naturally, some bromantic bickering between Merlin (Colin Morgan) and Arthur (Bradley James) before the opening titles even roll.

Five years in, this show is now a well-oiled machine. The action scenes are expertly crafted and the show has also struck the right balance with character.

The fan-favourite friendship between Merlin and Arthur, for example, now incorporates both humour and human drama on an equal basis and both sides of the relationship are handled with equal skill by both the writers and actors. At the episode's mid-point, the fun of Merlin impressing the court with his tricks cuts straight to an emotional moment between the pair and it's done with such skill that the transition doesn't feel jarring.

Most of the drama in 'Arthur's Bane (Part One)' comes from a shocking vision of a possible future, in which Merlin witnesses his king struck down by a mysterious figure, revealed at the episode's end to be a now-adult Mordred.

It's too early to judge Alexander Vlahos on just a few short scenes, but bringing a legendary figure like Mordred back into the fold is certainly an exciting development for Merlin and it doesn't hurt that Vlahos bears a passing resemblance to the character's former portrayer, child actor Asa Butterfield.

Let's just cross our fingers and hope that Mordred doesn't end up ingratiating himself into Arthur's court - Merlin has done well in moving beyond some of the clichés that dragged it down a little in the early years and the last thing we need is another Morgana / Agravaine style 'inside man'.

Speaking of Morgana, you won't be shocked to learn that she's the villain behind this week's sinister happenings. Katie McGrath's saucy sorceress is swiftly becoming the equivalent of The Master in 1970s Doctor Who - it's *always* her, so why are our heroes surprised time and again?

Morgana teaming up with a willing warlord is nothing new either, but we'll forgive that since her new ally Ruadan is played by fantastic Irish actor Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones), who's employing the same cut-class English accent he used to play villains to great effect in films like 2001's Dog Soldiers.

The Morgana / Ruadan scenes hint at what is presumably series five's ongoing story arc - we hear that Morgana was captured at some point after series four's finale and "saw nothing but darkness" for years. We're all for intriguing hints at a broader mythology, particularly as it implies that plot issues not addressed by this premiere - the fate of Aithusa, for one - will be explored in future weeks.

Another point worth addressing about 'Arthur's Bane (Part One)' is the larger role it affords Gwen. We already knew that Arthur was a fair and just king, but it's rather surprising to see the often meek Gwen become a strong, even ruthless Queen, condemning traitorous serving girl Sefa (Sophie Rundle) to death.

Merlin has in the past under-used Angel Coulby, with Gwen often reduced to sitting on the sidelines, politely clapping as gallant knights faced off in yet another bout. But the character's promotion to the throne sees the show finally make the most of this talented actress.

The role reversal of Gwen being waited on, rather than being the one doing the waiting, is also an interesting transition - Coulby does well in conveying the character's slight sense of unease at her new lifestyle.

In terms of performers being well-utilised, it's also great to see Merlin looking to its past and calling its best guest stars back into action, starting this week with Queen Annis, played once again by the reliably brilliant Lindsay Duncan.

There's nothing ground-breaking about 'Arthur's Bane (Part One)', but it's a solid and steady evolution of what we've seen before and that's no bad thing. Merlin has now perfected its formula - it's fun, well-made family adventure at its very best.

Development Update: The 7th of October

ABADDON'S JOURNAL (The CW, New!) - Producers Douglas Segal ("Bulletproof Monk") and Bill Haber ("Beauty and the Beast") are set to team for a potential drama at the netlet about "an Angel, empowered with a book that records all those who make a deal with the devil, who sets out to save compromised souls with the help of a sheltered young woman." Segal will pen the script and executive produce alongside Haber via his Ostar Productions banner. No studio was indicated. (

ADULTISH (FOX, New!) - Dan Gregor and Doug Mand ("How I Met Your Mother") have landed a new comedy at the network which "dissects a 30-something-couple's daily battles between the young, immature people they've been versus the adult, mature people they're supposed to become." 20th Century Fox Television-based Imagine Television is behind the half-hour with the company's Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo also among the executive producers. (

BLACK SAILS (Starz) - Jessica Parker Kennedy ("The Secret Circle") has scored a role on the upcoming drama, a pirate adventure centering on the tales of Captain Flint (Toby Stephens) and his men, and taking place 20 years prior to Robert Louis Stevenson's classic "Treasure Island." She's on board as Max, "a French prostitute with a cool swagger that matches her stunning beauty." Tom Hopper also stars in the project, from Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes banner. Neil Marshall is directing the premiere from a script by Jon Steinberg and Robert Levine. (

THE CENTURION (CBS, New!) - Feature writers Charley and Vlas Parlapanides ("Immortals") have booked a potential drama at the Eye about "an elite Force Recon Marine who, after a near-fatal accident in combat overseas, makes a promise to God to clear the debt of the lives he's taken if he safely returns home to his family." Robert M. Sertner ("Mistresses") and Chris Morgan ("Fast Five") are also on board to executive produce the hour, which will then track said fellow as he settles "back into his former career as a police detective, he is making good on his promise, guided by the angel of his best friend who died in the accident." ABC Studios is producing. (

DAKOTA (ABC, New!) - Andrew Chapman ("A House Divided") and John Eisendrath ("Outlaw") have sold a new drama to the Alphabet about how an oil boom in the tiny farm town of Williston, North Dakota affects its residents, both new and old. Said duo will pen the script for the Sony Pictures Television-based One-Two Punch Productions with the company's Maria Grasso and Deb Spera also serving as executive producers. (

THE FOSTERS (ABC Family) - Maia Mitchell and David Lambert are the latest additions to the drama pilot, about Stef (Teri Polo) and Lena (Sherri Saum) Foster, a mixed race couple who are raising a biological son, along with several adopted children. Lambert will play Stef's biological son Brandon with Mitchell as adopted daughter Callie, a troubled teen with an abusive past. Bradley Bredeweg and Peter Paige are behind the hour, which comes from Jennifer Lopez and Simon Fields's Nuyorican Productions. (

I HATE L.A. DUDES (ABC, New!) - Issa Rae ("The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl") has booked a new half-hour comedy at the Alphabet about "an aspiring journalist, new to Los Angeles, who becomes the lone female voice on a budding, male-driven Internet talk show, while learning to decode the often humiliating and exasperating rules of the LA dating scene." ABC Studios-based Shondaland is behind the half-hour with Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers executive producing alongside co-executive producer Rae. (

THE MIX (ABC, New!) - Screenwriter John Hoffman ("Igor") has snagged a script order from the Alphabet for a new drama about "the public and not-so-private lives of five very different women who sit in the hot seats as hosts of an influential morning talk show." He'll write and executive produce the ABC Studios-based hour alongside Shondaland's Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers. (

MONTAUK (FOX, New!) - Brian Miller ("Apollo 18") has landed a potential hour at the network described as "a family thriller set against one of the biggest conspiracies in American history in the small town of Montauk, Long Island." 20th Century Fox Television-based Ryan Murphy Television is behind the drama, with Murphy and Dante di Loreto executive producing alongside Miller. (

MURDER BITCHES (CBS, New!) - Ashley Gable ("Vegas") and Tom Szentgyorgyi ("The Mentalist") have sold a potential drama to the Eye about "two young female detectives who are complete opposites, their relationship made more complicated by the fact that one of them suffered a stroke two years ago at age 27." Said duo will pen the hour for Warner Bros. Television with Bruno Heller also among the executive producers. (

UNTITLED BRIAN GALLIVAN PROJECT (CBS, New!) - Brian Gallivan ("Are You There, Chelsea?") has scored a put pilot commitment from the Eye for a single-camera comedy about "an Irish-Catholic, sports-crazed Boston clan and the gay son whose greatest sin is not his sexuality but his desire to spend less time with his family." The semi-autographical project is set up at the Sony Pictures Television-based Olive Bridge Entertainment with the company's Will Gluck and Richie Schwartz also serving as executive producer and co-executive producer, respectively. (

UNTITLED MATT SPICER/MAX WINKLER PROJECT (NBC, New!) - Newcomers Matt Spicer and Max Winkler have sold a half-hour comedy to the Peacock, details of which are being kept under wraps. Said effort comes from the 20th Century Fox Television-based Ryan Murphy Television. Winkler is also attached to direct the untitled project which he'll executive produce alongside Spicer, Murphy and Dante di Loreto. (

- Michael Colton and John Aboud ("The Penguins of Madagascar") have sold a new comedy to the network about "a couple that has their peaceful Brooklyn existence turned upside down when the wife's Uruguayan parents move in to help take care of their kids." Said half-hour - inspired by Colton's relationship with his Uruguayan in-laws - is set up at Sony Pictures Television with Principato-Young Entertainment's Peter Principato and Paul Young executive producing alongside the duo. (

BATES MOTEL (A&E) - Mike Vogel ("Pan Am") and Nestor Carbonell ("Ringer") have both scored roles on upcoming drama, a contemporary exploration of the formative years of Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore), relationship with his mother, Norma (Vera Farmiga), and the world they inhabit. Carbonell will recur as Sheriff Royce Romero, "who has something almost sinister about him"; with Vogel as Deputy Zach Shelby, "a completely engaging, attractive, intelligent sociopath." Max Thieriot, Nicola Peltz and Olivia Cooke also star in the Universal Television-based hour. (

BIRTHRIGHT (ABC, New!) - Jon Harmon Feldman ("No Ordinary Family") is set to team with Patrick Massett and John Zinman ("The Finder") for a new drama about Hal Chester, "former dashing prince of the tabloids, and heir apparent to the true royal family of New York, who returns home a war hero, only to shock the nation, publicly renouncing his family and their ilk, and vowing to now fight against them for the common good and repair the damage that their centuries of insular wealth and power have wreaked upon America." Feldman will pen the teleplay off a story he conceived with said duo for Sony Pictures Television. (

GROSS ANATOMY (ABC Family, New!) - The cable channel is developing a new reality series based on the popular feature from "The Doctors" designed to help teens with what they consider embarrassing medical conditions. Ghost Mountain Productions is behind the presentation with the company's Jay McGraw, Dr. Phil McGraw, Jay Bienstock and Eugene Young serving as executive producers. (

HOSTAGES (CBS, New!) - Writer/director Jeffrey Nachmanoff ("Traitor") has booked a pilot production commitment from the Eye for a new drama about "a family caught in the middle of a grand political conspiracy that will change their lives forever." Warner Bros. Television-based Jerry Bruckheimer Television is behind the hour, which is based on a proposed Israeli format from Alon Aranya. Nachmanoff will write, direct and executive produce the project alongside Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman, Omri Givon, Rotem Shamir and Chayim Sharir with Aranya and KristieAnne Reed serving as co-executive producers. (

KIRBY GATES (Disney XD, New!) - The cable channel has ordered a pilot to a new single-camera comedy about "a high school freshman who dreams of becoming a world-famous animator." Gabe Snyder and Mike Alber ("Death Valley") penned the half-hour, which use animation as part of title character's daydreams. David Bowers ("Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days ") is attached to direct and executive produce alongside the duo. (

STALKERS (A.K.A. WHISPER OF FEAR) (Lifetime) - Drea de Matteo ("Sons of Anarchy") is set to star in the backdoor pilot telefilm, about "a hot-headed cop with a troubled past, and a polished DA who team up to bring a stalker, obsessed with her former lover, to justice." She'll play said woman, Diane Harper, in the project, which is based on the book "Whisper of Fear: The True Story of the Prosecutor Who Stalks the Stalkers" by Rhonda Saunders. Mark Tonderai is directing from a script by David Wiener with Craig Piligian of Pilgrim Studios executive producing. (

THEN CAME ELVIS (NBC, New!) - D.J. Nash ("Up All Night") has booked a new single-camera comedy at the Peacock set in the 1980s about "a family that finally comes together when the parents divorce" as told through voice-over from the adult son's perspective. Universal Television is behind the half-hour, loosely based on Nash's experiences, with Aggregate Films' Jason Bateman and Jim Garavente also on board as executive producers. (

UNTITLED CHRIS SHERIDAN PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Chris Sheridan have booked a semi-autobiographical comedy at the Alphabet about "35-year-old Rob Campbell who, a year after his divorce decides to re-enter the dating world for the first time in 10 years." Seth Gordon ("Breaking In") is on board to direct and executive produce the Sony Pictures Television-based project, as are Amblin Television's Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank. (

WENDY & PETER (FOX, New!) - Jill Soloway ("How to Make It in America") has sold a potential half-hour to the network about "single working mom Wendy, who gets the hardest assignment of her life: as the right-hand woman and den mother to kid-genius tech billionaire Peter and the lost boys he calls family." 20th Century Fox Television is behind the comedy with Pacific Standard's Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea and Television 360's Meghan Lyvers and Evelyn O'Neill executive producing alongside Soloway. (

LOST HORIZON (NBC, New!) - Director M. Night Shyamalan ("The Last Airbender") is set to team with screenwriter John Glenn ("Eagle Eye") for a new drama described as a modern-day "Moby Dick" revolving around a small fishing village on the East Coast. Sony Pictures Television is behind the project, which has a put pilot commitment. Shyamalan then will direct from a script by Glenn and executive produce alongside Ashwin Rajan via their Blinding Edge Pictures banner. (

STALKERS (Lifetime) - Jodi Lyn O'Keefe ("Prison Break") has joined the cast of the original movie/backdoor pilot, about Diane Harper (Drea de Matteo), "a hot-headed cop with a troubled past, and a polished, ambitious DA (O'Keefe) who team up to bring a stalker, obsessed with her former lover, to justice." Mark Tonderai will direct the Pilgrim Studios-based project, which is based on Rhonda Saunders's book "Whisper of Fear: The True Story of the Prosecutor Who Stalks the Stalkers." David Wiener penned the adaptation with Craig Piligian executive producing. (

TAMING OF THE SHREW (ABC, New!) - Marc Hyman ("Meet the Fockers") has landed a potential comedy at the Alphabet about "a tyrannical CEO and the office staff who try to tame her." Red Om Films' Julia Roberts and 3 Arts Entertainment's Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas are also on board to executive produce the half-hour, which is set up at ABC Studios. Red Om's Lisa Gillan and Marissa Yeres Gill will also serve as producers. (

UNTITLED SAMUEL BAUM PROJECT (CBS, New!) - Samuel Baum ("Lie to Me") has sold a new medical drama to the Eye about a fictional Surgeon General who, alongside his team, "battle the powerful forces of politics and business, fighting to protect the health of everyday Americans." CBS Television Studios is behind the hour, home to Baum's recently signed overall deal. (

UNTITLED JAY SCHERICK/DAVID RONN PROJECT (CBS, New!) - Jay Scherick and David Ronn ("The Smurfs") have sold a new multi-camera comedy to the Eye about "two very opposite brothers forced by circumstance to move their two very opposite families into the same house." The untitled half-hour is set up at Sony Pictures Television, the result of a blind script deal, where they'll write and executive produce. (

'Detropia': The Right Movie Right Now

Detroit may be the best city to illustrate the problems facing America today -- and the thoroughly independent documentary "Detropia" may the best movie.

In a tight, fluid 90 minutes, "Detropia" offers a hypnotic look at every major issue in the presidential election, from lost manufacturing jobs to outsourcing to the disappearing middle class. With gorgeous, unflinching images, it tracks the decomposition of one of America's greatest cities into a place where people scavenge for scrap metal to survive.

Yet somehow, it isn't hopeless. More remarkably, it isn't partisan, even though its release was timed to the presidential campaign. The film, which premiered in New York last month, arrives in Los Angeles today.

Co-directors and producers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, Oscar nominees for their 2006 documentary "Jesus Camp," turned down offers from distributors who wanted to release it in only a few markets, or after the election. To ensure the film was released earlier, and across the country, they distributed it themselves.

They did it by getting $90,000 in contributions, $71,000 of them through Kickstarter. The film itself was made with grants from the Ford Foundation, Sundance, Impact Partners and the Independent Television Service, which will air it on PBS next year. None had input into the filmmaking.

One reason "Detropia" doesn't advocate a particular solution? The filmmakers haven't found one.

"Both candidates are flailing around trying to figure out how to create jobs," Ewing, a Detroit native, told TheWrap. "If we had stumbled across what we thought was an amazing solution, we certainly would have included it. ... We didn't really find any silver bullets."

The film premiered in New York on Friday, Sept. 7, the day after President Obama accepted his party's renomination at the Democratic National Convention, where the auto industry bailout was hailed as one of his biggest accomplishments. The bailout was supposed to especially help Michigan, the heart of the auto industry. Mitt Romney, whose father was Michigan's governor, strongly opposed it.

The film finds a Detroit far from rescued by the bailout, and even further from the heyday of the industry, when Romney's auto-executive father was hailed as a visionary for championing smaller and more fuel-efficient cars. George Romney became governor in 1963, and though he was one of the most progressive Republicans of his time on Civil Rights, he served during the 1967 Detroit riots that led to massive white flight from the city. So began Detroit's decline.

This could all be the basis for a very grim, assembly-line of a documentary, filled with sad statistics and voyeuristic scenes of ghetto decay. There are plenty of fans of these sorts of images: At one point in the film, we meet two European tourists who come to Detroit just to see it crumbling.

But "Detropia," as its name suggests, looks at the hard facts of life in Detroit even as it imagines a miraculous recovery.

Cinematographers Tony Hardmon and Craig Atkinson shoot plenty of once-glorious, now vast and abandoned buildings. But they capture their potential as well.

That potential isn't lost on a small group of mostly white artists who travel to mostly black Detroit to buy houses and studios for as little as a few thousand dollars. Those artists include the gold-gasmasked pair featured on the film's poster.

But rather than white artists, the film's heroes are African-Americans who have spent most of their lives in the city, and who could leave but choose not to. They include a blogger-barista, a gregarious union leader, and a small business owner who offers the film's most trenchant insights, even when he's occasionally dismissed.

His name is Tommy Stephens, and he is a retired teacher who now runs a blues bar near an old auto plant. In one of the film's best moments, he goes to the Detroit Auto Show, where he has an exchange that scarily encapsulates America's problems as it competes with China.

Stephens is somewhat impressed with the electric Chevrolet Volt -- until he sees a Chinese electric car, not yet available, that is expected to cost half as much as the $40,000 Volt. He asks the Chevy reps how their car can compete at twice the price.

Their answer comes from a place of extreme comfort: People will pay for the car, they explain, because it has more and better features.

It's the answer of someone who has never faced a hungrier rival. And one that forgets the millions of hungry customers who simply want cars -- and won't pay twice as much for comfortable ones. (Did no one listen to George Romney?)

"Detropia" finds a city where a small portion of the population lives in comfort while the rest scrounge. Stephens offers a blunt and brilliant explanation for why the rich need a middle class more than the poor do. And the film warns that the rest of the U.S. could look a lot more like Detroit if that middle class disappears.

It shouldn't be lost on anyone that its hero is a small business owner who gives back to his community -- not just by providing a place to drink and be entertained, but by buying up some of Detroit's abandoned buildings.

The existence of people like him proves the situation isn't hopeless. So does the film's final scene, which finds one Detroit artist making beautiful use of one of those big empty buildings.

Gary Barlow: 'X Factor judges should be ashamed of picking Rylan'

Gary Barlow tonight (October 6) told the other X Factor judges that they should be "ashamed" of letting Rylan Clark through the auditions stage.

He made the comment after Clark had performed his promised Egyptian-themed rendition of Spandau Ballet's 'Gold'.

Louis Walsh was full of praise, calling Clark "amazing", and Tulisa Contostavlos said: "I don't think this competition would be the same without you."

However, Barlow commented: "I really was having fun until you started singing tonight... I'm embarrassed to be sat here."

He added: "I said 'no' at the first audition, which means you [Contostavlos] should be ashamed of yourself, you [Walsh] should be ashamed of yourself."

He then criticised Nicole Scherzinger for picking Clark when there had been "five amazing singers" for her to pick from.

Telling the Take That singer not to be "an old, grumpy fart", Scherzinger teased him by referring to the band's risqué video for old track 'Do What You Like'.

Clark admitted that he did not have the "best voice" in the competition, but insisted that there was a "lot more to the show than the voice" and declared: "This is what I want to do."

Martin Landau, Mary Harron Join Lifetime's Anna Nicole Smith Biopic

'Lifetime's upcoming Anna Nicole Smith biopic might turn out to be gorier than one would expect.

Getty Images"American Psycho" writer/director Mary Harron has signed on to direct "The Anna Nicole Story," about ill-fated Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith, a representative of Harron's told TheWrap.

Harron, who most recently directed the 2011 Irish-Canadian horror film "The Moth Diaries," also co-wrote and helmed the 2005 biopic "The Notorious Bettie Page," so she has some experience in documenting the lives of pin-up models.

In addition to Harron signing on, Martin Landau has been cast as oil executive J, Howard Marshall, who married Smith just before his death in a union that would spark a bitter inheritance feud between Smith and Marshall's family.

Landau's spokesman told TheWrap that Landau is "very excited" to play Marshall, particularly after learning more about Marshall's background.

"He's found that Marshall was quite a talented man, that he was a key advisor to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harold Ickes during WWII and was a sharp intellect with a distinguished business career," the spokesman said.

Smith died in 2007 at the age of 39, of combined drug intoxication.

Smith has been the subject of a biographical film before, in the form of 2009's "The Anna Nicole Smith Story," which was released on DVD and starred Willa Ford as the model-turned-tragic reality TV star.

Deadline first reported the news of Harron and Landau signing on for "The Anna Nicole Story."

Tulisa Contostavlos: 'MK1 are the dark horses to win X Factor'

Tulisa Constostavlos has identified MK1 as her "dark horses" to win The X Factor.

The 'Live it Up' singer picked the pair when speaking to Little Mix member Jade Thirlwall on The Xtra Factor.

Thirlwall pointed out that her own band had been far from favourites in week one of their series, and asked Contostavlos who she thought might be the dark horses this time.

Louis Walsh butted in, saying he was going for Jahmene Douglas.

After Consostavlos pointed out that Douglas was already a "strong contender", she went for duo Lotte Rundle and Simeon Dixon.

Earlier in the evening, MK1 had been praised by the judges for their performance of 'Champion'/'Everyone's a Winner'.

When MK1 were asked on The Xtra Factor whether they thought they could go further with Contostavlos as their mentor rather than Walsh, Dixon insisted: "I think Tulisa would do a really, really good job. However Louis is, like, experienced, and the way he understood when we went for that 'Champion' song as well, he just clicked and knew it would work for us, so I don't think it would be an issue having Tulisa or Louis."

Obama's First Post-Debate Interview Goes to ABC

President Obama will get a second chance to explain himself on Oct. 10 on "ABC World News," when he gives his first interview after Wednesday's presidential debate to anchor Diane Sawyer.

The interview -- which will take place at the White House -- occurs the night before the vice presidential debate and will air in part on "ABC World News," with other portions being highlighted across other ABC broadcasts and platforms such as, Yahoo!, ABC News Radio, and local network affiliates.

The extended interview will air later this month, as part of the special "Portrait of a President."

Hopefully, the nation's chief executive will remember to look directly into the camera more often this time.

Oprah Winfrey's OWN Making Progress After Rough Start

Is OWN turning around?

After a rocky start marked by low ratings, executive shakeups, and layoffs, Oprah Winfrey's network is getting some good news. Its latest quarter, from July to September, was its biggest in ratings growth. And this week, the network announced it will air two shows next year from Tyler Perry, who has a special talent for tapping into once-overlooked audiences. The shows will be the first scripted programs for the network.

Strikingly, OWN is hitting ratings highs without resorting to programming lows. Networks from Bravo to Oxygen have resorted to trashy reality shows about feuding "Bridezillas," "Bad Girls" and "Real Housewives" to juice ratings. OWN has pledged not to go that route and has so far kept its vow.

"We've been in the pivot, we're turning, and there's a lot of points of view about where in the turn you are," OWN co-president Erik Logan told TheWrap. "We certainly welcome the conversation about, 'Are you in the beginning part of the turn? Are you out of the turn?' I think that's a much better place to be than we were twelve months ago."

Or even six months ago. In April, Winfrey appeared before advertisers to say she could "see the summit" of her climb with OWN. But that metaphor came within weeks of the network laying off 30 employees, and SNL Kagan predicting it would lose $143 million this year.

The research firm is sticking to that number. But the analyst who provided it, Derek Baine, said in an interview that OWN does appear to be making progress.

"There's still a lot of work to be done, but I think they're definitely making a lot of improvements," he said. "Oprah herself is paying a lot more attention. I think you'll see steady improvement, but I think it will still take a couple of years, probably, to get to where they wanted to be as a network."

He notes that despite gains, OWN is still averaging fewer total-day viewers than advertisers initially expected.

OWN disputes the $143 million estimated loss, and Logan said the network expects to hit the cash-flow break-even point in the second half of next year.

Co-owned by Winfrey and Discovery Communications, OWN debuted in January 2011. It replaced Discovery Health, but in its first year fell slightly short of its predecessor's ratings.

In the latest quarter, OWN has not only dramatically improved on its Nielsen ratings year-over-year, but topped Discovery Health's ratings for the same period in 2010. Since last year, it is up at least 55 percent in total viewers and its key demo, women 25-54, in total day and primetime. It is up at least 34 percent in each of those categories over the third quarter of 2010, when it was still Discovery Health.

Small changes in small audiences can register as huge percentages, but OWN is also up significantly in actual viewers: Its primetime audience grew from 203,000 to 314,000 viewers. 

Out of 97 top cable networks, OWN is ranked No. 32 in its key demo, women 25-54 – "Not bad for a network that's 22 months old," Logan said. OWN is tied with similarly female-centric network WEtv and Oxygen. Winfrey was an investor in Oxygen, but later resigned from its board of directors, telling the Baltimore Sun it did not reflect her voice.

Perry presumably will. To the frequent bafflement of critics, the actor/writer/director has produced one box office success after another, as well three successful sitcoms on TBS. He has succeeded in large part by appealing to churchy African-American women -- a group that overlaps nicely with Winfrey's audience, but has been largely ignored by Hollywood. OWN's primetime audience is about 34 percent African-American, and shows including "Welcome to Sweetie Pie's" skew African-American, Logan said.

Logan declined to discuss the terms of Perry's deal, but it continues a long period of investment at OWN.

Five months before its debut, Discovery agreed to increase its initial $100 million commitment by $89 million. In February, it pledged another $50 million, mostly to improve programming.

Executive shuffling also marked the network's early days. It went through a permanent and temporary CEO before Winfrey appointed herself "permanent" CEO and chief creative officer in July 2011. At the same time, Logan and Sheri Salata were named co-presidents.

The top ranks have remained stable since then, and ratings have slowly improved. But the March layoffs, coupled with the SNL Kagan report, seemed like a new red flag.

"That was a very challenging time for our network," Logan said. "We've made all the right decisions that I think have put the network in the position to enjoy the level of success it's having today."

'Homeland' Duo Lands FBI Drama Pilot With CBS

"Homeland" creators Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa are expanding from the CIA to the FBI -- and they're doing it with CBS.

Gordon and Gansa have landed a a new drama project with CBS, "Anatomy of Violence," that revolves around a female FBI agent who starts working with a mysterious psychiatrist with whom she shares a past connection. The project is based on Adrian Raine's soon-to-be-published nonfiction book "The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime.”

Gordon and Gansa will write and executive-produce the project, which comes from 20th Century Fox Television and will be produced through Gordon's recently created Teakwood Lane company. Teakwood Lane's Hugh Fitzpatrick will also co-executive produce.

"Homeland" dominated the Emmys last month, taking home multiple trophies. The second season of the series recently debuted at Showtime.

'X Factor' Nicole Scherzinger: 'I had death threats'

Nicole Scherzinger has slammed the "hateful" viewers who sent death threats to Rylan Clark.

The X Factor judge revealed that she received similar threats while working on the US version of the show last year.

Nicole Scherzinger X Factor judges leaving their hotel for the first day of boot camp Liverpool, England

Scherzinger has now asked show bosses to increase security for herself and her acts since her decision to send Clark to Live Shows caused controversy.

"It breaks my heart. Last year I had death threats on X Factor USA. That kind of ruined me. I didn't want to leave my hotel room. I didn't know that people could conjure up such thoughts - so hateful," she told The Sun.

"It really frightened and scared me when I got death threats so it upset me to hear Rylan had to go through that pain. To read some of the comments he has had hurt me too.

"People need to give Rylan a chance. Everyone that gets to know him has a great fondness and affinity with him. This is the number one show in the UK so we do have security."

Scherzinger defended her decision to chose Clark, insisting that the show is about "having the X Factor and he has the X Factor".