Tagged: Starz

The Point Radio: SPARTACUS Coming Back With A VENGEANCE

Starz brings us a new (full) season of SPACTACUS in a few weeks and we talk with the cast about what to expect, plus NBC gives us Free TV and we’re celebrating our birthday!

THE POINT PODCAST will take the day-after-Ho Ho off, but we will be back on Friday December 30th! MERRY CHRISTMAS To All!

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JOHN OSTRANDER: Hits and Misses

Like everyone else, I watch too much TV and see the occasional movie or read a book or two and I have my own reactions to them. Here’s some of what I’ve seen, good bad and indifferent.

Boss, on Starz starring Kelsey Grammar as a tough mayor of Chicago. I’m an old time Chicago boy and a series set in Chicago, dealing with its mayor, and using actual Chicago locations, will always attract my eye. I was so looking forward to this. However, by the third episode, I was taping it and I haven’t gotten around to watching those episodes and then I just stopped. I didn’t care. Too much melodramatic bullshit.

The main character, Tom Kane (obviously named for Tom Keane, a formerly very strong alderman in Chicago, later imprisoned), is diagnosed in the opening moments with some sort of brain disease that can’t be cured, can’t be operated on, and is going to mess him up royally before the end and, of course, he opts to tell no one. We never get a chance to see who he is without the disease; it’s part of what defines the character from the beginning. His wife is an ice queen although very supportive politically. They have a daughter who is now an (I think) Episcopal minister. The parents are estranged from her because she has also been a junkie in the past and looks like she’s going to be that way again. The mayor also has a young female aide who is pretty and has sex with inappropriate men apparently in semi-public places because, you know, ratings.

The creators have a good cast but they don’t apparently trust the setting enough to generate real material because they saddle it with all the nonsense above. You only have to look at political drama in Chicago and Illinois in recent years to find plenty of material. The prison bound Rod Blagojevitch alone could have been a stunning model for a TV series if some of his doings (real or alleged) didn’t appear so preposterous. He sounds too made up. He’s also a hell of a lot more interesting to me than Boss turned out to be.

You want something of Chicago that has real snap and bite? Max Allan Collins has released a volume collecting his Nate Heller short mysteries called Chicago Lightning. I recommended his Nate Heller novel, Bye Bye Baby, earlier and I’m equally enthused for this. It runs the gamut of Nate Heller’s career and is great reading. Highly recommended.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve gotten heavily into Westerns. I’ll plug myself by reminding folks that DC is releasing The Kents historical western miniseries that I wrote. It was originally done in twelve monthly issues and then gathered into a single TPB. This time they’re releasing it in three 100-page spectaculars, each gathering four issues (it was written that way, every four issues an arc). The first two of these are now out and the third will be out next month. Some of my best stuff, I think, and my artists – Timothy Truman and Tom Mandrake – have been my partners-in-crime for a long time.

Anyway, this is really a prelude to my looking in on AMC’s western Hell On Wheels. Another series I was looking forwards to and, again, I started taping it and then abandoned it. Very violent (which is okay but it seems violent for the sake of violence) and I haven’t gotten into the characters. You could spot who was going to be dead early on. It wants to be Deadwood which, even with its faults, was superlative. I may give it a try again at some point but I’m just not feeling drawn to it right now.

Finally, to end on an up note – Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. Saw it and loved it. It’s a love letter to the movies from a master film maker who loves movies. It drew me in from the opening frames. There’s a long tracking shots (who does long tracking shots these days? How many directors can?) that pulls you right in. I’ve seen some grumblings about its length and pace, but you won’t hear that from from me. Scorsese loves movies but he also loves story and he weaves a wonderful, rich, emotional story with a wonderful cast and an eye towards detail.

We saw it in 3-D and that’s how it should be seen. Simply one of the best uses of 3-D I’ve seen, and I’m including Avatar. This is what happens when a master filmmaker gets a new tool – not a gimmick, but a tool – and figures out how to use it. Every effect is to tell the story and make it more real, more immediate.

I also know a lot of people who are waiting to see it on DVD or their iPhones or iPads or whatever and that would be a mistake. It’s meant to be seen in a theater; if I could find it somewhere near me in IMAX, I would go see it that way. I’ll own the eventual DVD but it will simply remind me of the experience I had at the movie theater. That’s what Hugo was for me – an experience and one I’m so glad to have had.

All the above are just my reactions. Your mileage may vary.

MONDAY: Mindy Newell

Preview: ‘Torchwood: Miracle Day’

Preview: ‘Torchwood: Miracle Day’

Well, this will make Mike Gold happy:


Torchwood: Miracle Day starring John Barrowman, Mekhi Phifer, Eve Myles, Bill Pullman, Lauren Ambrose, Alexa Havins, Arlene Tur, and Kai Owen, premieres July 8th at 10 PM Eastern on Starz and will be endlessly rerun during the week. For more info, visit http://www.starz.com/torchwood

Bill Pullman Joins Torchwood

The actor who starred in such movies as Ruthless People, Sleepless in Seattle, While You Were Sleeping, Spaceballs, Casper, and, of course, Independence Day has joined the cast of the Doctor Who adult spin-off, Torchwood.

Pullman will be playing Oswald Jones, a psychotic murderer and pedophile. Oddly, he’s not a nice guy, defined by the BBC as “repentant yet boiling with lust and rage.”

He should fit in nicely.

The fourth season of Torchwood will be broadcast in the United States on the Starz cable network beginning this summer.

‘Spartacus’ Prequel Announced with Lucy Lawless and John Hannah

‘Spartacus’ Prequel Announced with Lucy Lawless and John Hannah

While we eagerly await next week’s upfront announcements to see which of our favorite genre shows survive or vanish, one series has figured out their next step. During production of Starz Network’s Spartacus: Blood and Sand, its title star Andy Whitfield was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. As he undergoes treatment in New Zealand, there remained question as to how long it would be before the second season could begin production.

The producers came up with a clever filler by striking a deal to produce a six-part prequel that would require no more than a cameo from Whitfield. Instead, the focus will be on the randy pair played by Lucy Lawless and John Hannah as the story chronicles the rise of the House of Batiatus in the days before Spartacus arrived as a captured Thracian slave.

The producers, writers, and production crew will continue with their roles while a new actor will be added to play the pre-Crixus champion. Production will start this spring with Starz scheduled to air the series beginning in January 2011.


Showtime Orders Final Season of ‘The Tudors’

Showtime Orders Final Season of ‘The Tudors’

Showtime’s The Tudors has been renewed for a fourth and final season according to Variety. The series’ third season launched just two weeks ago and comes in the wake of the premium channels’ decision not to buy four new series. Showtime did not launch a new series in 2008 and the pressure is on to launch successful projects in order to grow and remain competitive with HBO and Starz.

Jonathan Rhys Myers returns as King Henry VIII for the final ten episodes which will shoot in Dublin starting in June and air next spring. Creator/showrunner Michael Hirst will be writing all the scripts as he has for the previous thirty installments.

The third season opened April 5 and the ratings showed a cumulative audience of 1.3 million once all airings were totaled. The first two seasons, which we positively reviewed, are available on DVD.

I am Spartacus!

I am Spartacus!

The cry of “I am Spartacus!” will once more resound, this time weekly. Starz will air a new 13-episode series from executive producers Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Joshua Donen.

The premium movie channel has already produced Crash, a weekly series based on the Oscar-winning film, which began airing several weeks back. This will be the first in-house production for the channel. Steven S. DeKnight (Smallville) will be the head writer and showrunner.

Raimi, Tapert, and Donen developed the series and intend to produce the series in New Zealand in time for debut next summer. Each episode is likely to have a budget in excess of $2 million, surpassing their other series, Legend of the Seeker.  The world of ancient Rome will be digitally rendered, a first for a weekly TV series.

No casting has been announced as yet.

The real story of the slave who led a rebellion against his Roman captors in 73 A.D. was immortalized in the 1960 movie starring Kirk Douglas which won four Academy Awards. It was most recently retold as a 2004 miniseries starring ER’s Goran Visnjic and Rhona Mitra.

"This is not going to be at all like the 1960s Kirk Douglas film," Starz Entertainment executive vp programming Stephan Shelanski told The Hollywood Reporter. "We didn’t want your typical sword-and-sandals. It’s going to be fun, fast-moving, full of action and interesting characters and have a little more depth to it than the 1960s film."

Shelanski says the channel acknowledges the storytelling has to be done for an audience primed by movies like 300.  Being a premium channel, they can go for R-rated violence and storytelling. "It will bring the younger audience who has grown up on graphic novels and video games this heightened reality; it’s not going to look like anything you’ve seen before, especially on TV," said executive vp original production William Hamm. Hamm has previously worked with Raimi and Tapert at Universal TV to produce the similar Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.