Friday, January 30, 2009

The Horror The Horror - Supernatural, American Idol And Private Practice

Oh the horrors of this week's Thursday night! The continuing horror of the auditions on American Idol, the continuing horror that is called Private Practice, and the awesomeness of the horror show Supernatural!

Supernatural - After School Special - Ep. 413

In theory I like Supernatural but I've never been a horror fan, and get easily freaked out, so I usually keep putting off watching the show while it collects over the season (basically cause I'm scared). I was just about to give up on catching up with it but then tuned in last night, since Grey's, The Office and 30 Rock weren't on, and was reminded of how awesomely funny and terrific the show is. I was still scared and covered my face a few times, but the handsome faces of Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki and their hilarious repartee more than make up for the scary bits.

Plus, any show that has an episode called Criss Angel Is a Douche Bag (last week's episode 412 which I still have saved and need to watch soon, preferably not at night when it's already dark) has got to be awesome!

I loved that they actually found two young actors (Brock Kelly and Colin Ford) that actually looked a bit like Ackles and Padalecki with Kelly even mimicking Dean's speaking tone. The flashback's to Sam and Dean's youth were hilarious (when it wasn't freaky scary) and I loved the slight twist on the bully story.

Meanwhile, Jensen Ackles can blow my whistle anytime! (As he pretends to be the gym teacher substitute while they investigate creepy deaths at their childhood school).

Though I will have one complaint. I still think of "DEAN" as Jared from his Gilmore Girls days so I get very confused when they refer to each other and they say Dean and I look straight at Jared and not Jensen. Seriously, they couldn't have named the character something else when they cast Jared straight from Gilmore?

American Idol - Auditions in New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico - Ep. 807

OH THEY'RE DONE. THEY'RE DONE WITH THE AUDITIONS! HALLELUJAH! Finally Hollywood week which means it's one step closer to the Top 36 and the Top 12. THANK GOODNESS.

Seriously, do they think these bad auditions are entertaining anymore? I think I was watching the boat bobbing up and down behind the judges in New York for most of last nights episode. When the windows fell (or really the filters used for camera. OH so they DO use them), it was probably the most interesting thing that happened all night.

I've been more interested with the production logistics (like the window filters) than the actual auditions this year. I've been fascinated by that black woman who sits on the side holding the golden tickets. Is that ALL she does? Love that she always looks positively bored out of her mind. Yah, you're not the only one babe. At least you're being paid for it.

Why can't they show some of the better singers instead of showing the two decent (and this year, they are only decent so far, not excellent) singers with sob stories and then flip through the other 7 that got gold tickets in a montage? Then spend the other 45 minutes with endless droning? The bad auditions were funny in the FIRST season.

Private Practice - Second Chances - Ep. 214

Okay, I approve of Audra MacDonald macking on with Grant Show cause that's kinda hot. I still wish Audra would sing but that's another post.

As for the rest of the show, what a hot horrific mess. First, do they have to stick Paul Adelstein with the two most annoying female characters around? KaDee Strickland is still supremely annoying (just look at her NAME) and I can't believe she's married to my exTVboyfriend Roswell's Jason Behr (no longer my TV boyfriend mainly cause he's not on TV anymore but he SHOULD).

And Violet is such a BLOB that I feel like she's sucking in everyone else into her green teary goo. Amy deserves better than this.

At this point, the big crossover episode with Grey's Anatomy next week might be too late, especially now that Grey's itself has become so scarily bad. At this point, the only way to save it is if George and Grant Show start making out and Sloan and Taye Diggs joins in. Then the show will have to be called "Privates Practice" or "Gay's Anatomy"... hmm... that might work!

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Friday Night Movie Lights

I was just thinking I need to post more about Friday Night Lights now that it's back on NBC (On Fridays at 9pm!!!) but not sure if I will recap or not yet (not that I really recap anymore) and there's only so many times I can post about HOW AWESOME THIS SHOW IS because... you know... this show is AWESOME!

Now I hear of FNL's Zach Gilford (Matt Saracen) is in this new movie Dare that premiered at Sundance! It's apparently an edgy and dark realistic look at the final year of high school. Wait, doesn't that sound a bit like Friday Night Lights? Except apparently now, Zach plays a football player (named Johnny). Wait, doesn't that sound a bit like Friday Night Lights? And apparently Zach Gilford's Johnny will be kissing a boy Ben (Ashley Springer). Now that will be new!

With all the new gay themed movies being talked about at Sundance, Dare definitely excites me the most! Humpday actually got good reviews and apparently is better than the gimmick suggests (two straight guys plan to have gay sex together), and I Love You Philip Morris which puts Ewan McGregor together with Jim Carrey. But what hormones gets stirred at the thought of Ewan playing gay, gets dissipated with Carrey playing gay.

Dare seems more like a darker FNL. Apparently it's like the anti-Disney High School Musical. And it co-stars Emmy Rossum (above with Gilford) along with gay icons Ana Gasteyer, Alan Cumming, and Sandra Bernhard!

"Dare follows three very-different teenagers through the last semester of high school. There are Alexa (Emmy Rossum), the overachieving good girl who longs to break out of her shell; Ben (Ashley Springer), the melancholy outsider confused about his sexuality; and Johnny (Zach Gilford), the rich kid who has everything, including good looks, but hides behind his bad-boy persona. This unlikely trio fall into each other's lives and each other’s arms, making a last-ditch effort to shake things up before they actually have to start living as adults. Director Adam Salky and writer David Brind takes us into some uncharted territory with fresh eyes and matter-of-fact authority. Sweet and sexy don’t always go together, but they work beautifully in this instance because the sexuality of the film is cleverly woven into the fabric of the story. You can ask why the kids are in such a hurry to experience adult feelings, especially when their parents, comically enough, are afraid to get in the way. All is answered in the nuanced performances of this exceptional cast. They capture perfectly a generation with nothing to rebel against except their self-imposed inhibitions. By being keenly perceptive, director Salky stacks up countless priceless moments in crafting teen romance with a decidedly modern spin. In Dare, the kids do what they need to do to become the adults they should."
Directed by Adam Salky, Writen by David Brind.

Sadly, I don't know if it picked up a distributor and has no release date yet.

On more Friday Night Lights's cast in movies news, I'm sure you know that Tim Riggins'Taylor Kitsch is in Wolverine: X-Men Origins. Kitsch in the same movie with Hugh Jackman, Ryan Reynolds and Dominic Monaghan? Hot. I actually don't have high hopes for the movie but Kitsch and company will suck me in.

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Sucker Punched - Taken - Movie Review

I was all ready to write "Don't Be "Taken"" but in the end, I think I was taken for a ride. Taken is kinda like SPAM, it's processed, full of crap and squeezed into a shiny tin shell, but there's a comfort to it, even if you're going to be sick after.

The movie takes every republican fears of European cliches and throws them into some fear mongering thriller and gets Liam Neeson all vigilante-like cause vengeance is a bitch. Neeson is conveniently a former spy who goes after the greasy Eastern Europeans who have taken his sweet little estranged daughter (Maggie Grace, Lost) who has been living with her mom (a wasted Famke Jansen) and her conveniently filthy rich step-father (a wasted Xander Berkeley, 24), who happen to actually have nothing to do with the kidnapping. (Oh, did I spoil that for you? Trust me. I didn't.)

You kind of want to kidnap the excellent cast (Neeson, Grace, Jansen, Berkeley) from the horrible writing (co-written by Luc Besson) but they make do with the little they're given in a plot that's manipulating and sloppily constructed.

And yet, it was all mildly entertaining in that "Vengeance is Awesome" way. I felt like cheering for Bush again after watching the movie. Boy, was I taken.

Taken = C or 6/10

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Dance Dance Revolution - Billy Elliot - Musical Review

Billy Elliot - Imperial Theatre - Broadway - New York City, NY - ****1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Music by Elton John, Book and Lyrics by Lee Hall, Directed by Stephen Daldry, Choreographed by Peter Darling

Well, it doesn't really matter what I say or how late this review is, it's going to run for a long time on Broadway, recession or no recession. And considering the subject matter and the ultimate feelgood aspect of the show, is probably exactly what audiences are looking for in these bleak economic times.

After seeing the original cast in London a few years back, I returned last fall to see the new Broadway transfer with the great Hadyn Gwynne crossing the Atlantic to reprise her role as Mrs. Wilkinson, the crass small town ballet teacher that begins Billy Elliot's self discovery of his artistic side.

For the few of you who haven't seen the amazing movie this musical is based on, Billy Elliot follows a boy in a poor mining town in England as he discovers he prefers ballet over boxing, all while his father and brother are striking with the unions over their coal mining jobs, all during the 80's Margaret Thatcher era.

The brilliance of the musical is that it nicely mixes the two worlds, of Billy's ballet dreams, and the realistic union struggles, and shows them clashing while emanating from the same core problem of living in a downward town on the brink of becoming obsolete. The musical plays the political strife of the era against a young boys hopes for his future in a very universal and relatable story but set in a very specifically British setting.

Like the movie, it's a feelgood show that still touches on realistic problems (what British movies seem to do best) and Lee Hall and Stephen Daldry, who made the film, are back in the musical adaptation, now with Elton John writing extremely British sounding music that sounds less pop and more like his older classic stuff.

It all can be powerfully moving, with some terrific scenes that mix in ballet dancing with striking miners and police barricades (in "Solidarity") and the transfer to New York didn't lose any of its Britishisms (including keeping the song "Merry Christmas Margaret Thatcher" fully in tact). The choreography could be more innovative at times but still has some unique moments and is serviceable to the tale.

Hadyn Gwynne (above) is superb and pretty much a shoo-in for a Tony Award. She somehow mixes her acerbic attitude with hints of motherly concern all underneath a jaded woman past her prime and makes the role soar with humour and pathos.

Gregory Jbara (above with Alvarez as Billy) plays Billy's gruff father and creates a slightly softer more loving role than that of the movie or the London version of the musical. He's transition from angered to understanding father seems more believable since he seemed more angry out of his true beliefs that his way was better for Billy. When he realizes his errors, his curiosity into the ballet world is sweet and honest.

Santino Fontana as Billy's brother Tony, Joel Hatch as George and the other coal miners ensemble are a strong backup. The little girl ballerina's are adorable. Carole Shelley is charming as Grandma. Erin Whyland is great in the small hilarious role of Debbie (Mrs. Wilkinson's daughter).

Meanwhile, the big central (and extremely demanding) role of young Billy is played by a rotating cast of three actors. David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, and Kiril Kulish all play Billy on different days (but it isn't announced until just prior to the shows start) and each of them apparently have their own special qualities. I happened to get David Alvarez (above, from Montreal), who was the opening night Billy, and his strength is in his ballet skills, and his dancing was spectacular. His singing was good but he sounded slightly tired that night which is still understandable for a role that requires the young teen (the character is supposed to be around 11-13) to be on stage almost for the entire show. I had an AMAZING Billy in London (James Lomas) who danced, acted and sang so amazingly so it was a hard memory to follow, but Alvarez did a comprable job in a role that is difficult but hard not to be winning.

Billy is partnered with his best friend Michael, also played by rotating actors Frank Dolce and David Bologna, and it's a fun character to play that can't lose. Michael, if you remember from the film, is Billy's more flamboyant friend, which gives them a scene where they get to dress up in heels and girls dresses. In the one major surreal and cheesy move, their big musical number ("Expressing Yourself") turns into a big Broadway razzle dazzle number with giant dancing dresses that feels extremely odd and out of place (it's a WTF is this? moment) with the rest of the more somber and darker tone of the musical.

The songs work well within the show, though overall, some songs are stronger than others (my faves are probably "The Stars Look Down", "Solidarity" and "Electricity") and you tend to forgot some of the other middle numbers, so it's not the most perfect musical, but it all comes together on stage in a wonderful package that mixes a personal intimate story with larger social themes in an entertaining musical. There are definite flaws in the show but it can be easily overlooked as the power of the uplifting message in the show and the winning cast will shine through.

As for ticket advice, the $41.50 tickets at the Rear Mezz are actually really good for the price, as the theatre is wide but not that deep, so even the farthest row from the stage is relatively close (by Broadway theatre standards). There is currently a student rush ($40, 2 per ID, at box office 2 hours before the show on Tue., Wed. and Thur. only) but apparently they are the obstructed view tickets (usually $80) that are worse than the $41.50 tickets.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Loves Lost - Lost, Degrassi:TNG and More

I'm actually going to combine a post for Lost and Degrassi: The Next Generation! I know, I'm crazier than one of the Losties! (Also, there wasn't that much new scripted television so far this week).

Degrassi: The Next Generation - Lost in Love: Part 2, Bad Medicine - Eps. 809, 810

Um, is it wrong that I was slightly turned on by this week's Degrassi: TNG? It's a second episode dealing with Riley (Argiris Karras) dealing with coming out, and I like the total opposite character direction from Marco, with Riley dealing with his personal struggles by relying on steroids and being the closeted hero football player, all while secretly meeting up with an old friend from camp (why is it always camp?). I also like how Peter, the object of desire for Riley, can also be a good and understanding friend. It's a nice sweet touch!

While Riley's anger at Sav, under all the 'roids, saves it all from being too idealistic and rings some truth. Karras does a nice job with his emotionally confused Riley and can play up the awful intensity while still keeping him likable.

Meanwhile, everyone else is in love. Emma and Kelly (Even Williams) are getting it on!

Jane and Spinner are on again!

And there's drama with the new niners! I love the new kids, including the adroable Melinda Shankar's Ali, A.J. Saudin's Connor, Samuel Earle's K.C. and Aislinn Paul's Clare (below with Earle). They are so cute and I'm liking them a lot more than the Lakehurst batch they tried to stick on us in the last few years.

More on Bones, Lie To Me, Scrubs, Lost:

Bones - Fire in the Ice - Ep. 412

I didn't realize there was a SECOND episode of Bones last Thursday following the excellent Circus one, but I guess FOX was catching up with a double dose to make up for Bush's farewell speech that bumped the 2009 premiere by a week (boy, President Bush. That seems so long ago now! Thank god!).

Global in Canada is actually running the episode this week (since they had The Office to air at 9pm).

It was another great episode that really proves that this show is excelling at making a typical "procedural" into more.

A totally gross ice-fishing trip, Booth playing hockey with my favorite new squint Wendell Bray (Michael Grant Terry), and an appearance by Luc Robitaille (looking FINE!)! Plus guest appearances by Nick Warnock (from The Apprentice) and Nathan West (looking more handsome than his days in Bring It On!).

And again, the continuing interplay of relationships between Sweets, Camille, Hodgins and Angela back in the lab, is simply darling. I liked squint Vincent from the previous episode but I LOVE Bray and how he gets along with everyone (plus who knew he played hockey with Booth?)

Plus poor unconfident Bray, who is probably the most liked replacement squint of the rotating bunch (within the show), but love when Camille tried to get Bones to boost his confidence and instead calls him out on his mistake. Oops! Awww...

I even somehow bought Marisa Coughlan (Boston Legal) as Special Agent Payton Perotta, an obvious plant to become the third wheel Camille never ended up being. It worked, even though it probably shouldn't have.

Lie To Me - Moral Waiver - Ep. 102

SARK!!! David Anders guest stars in his regular American accent. It's a little jarring actually. I think I prefer his fake British accent. LOVE his fake British accent.

Second episode and the lie detector tricks are still fascinating for now. I like the cast of four but I guess we will see how they can stretch it all. They will really have to build an audience rapport like the crew from Bones have.

Scrubs - My ABC's, My Cookie Place - Ep. 805, 806

Oddly enough, I was trying to clear out stuff I taped and ended up watching A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa (I know, like more than a month late and out of season) right before I caught up with this week's Scrubs and then got a double dose of Muppets. Which is not a bad thing! Though seeing Elmo all over a girl was a little disconcerting. And the best joke of seeing the hands in the X-ray of the sick muppet was already shown in the commercials.

Courtney Cox is gone and I already miss her presence, as I thought it added a nice new twist, while I'm not loving the newbie interns as much as everyone else seems to be.

At this point, I'm most interested in Elliot's stories with Sarah Chalke's performance anchoring the 8th season.

Lost - Jughead - Ep. 503

What a bombshell! Desmond, Faraday, Locke, Richard Alpert. How DO they all fit together?

I'm seriously enjoying this season even though I've let my brain go now and decided not to even try to figure it all out. I'm just going with the flow and realizing that we probably won't REALLY understand anything until May 2010.

Loved the discovery of Jones' (Tom Connolly) true identity.

Kay wait. Did we know that Desmond and Penny had a baby before this? Who is this Ellie connection?

Still loving the interactions between Faraday, Charlotte and third-wheel Miles. I didn't even notice that we didn't even see most of the rest of the gang in this episode. At least until the preview for next week! Oh man, I can't wait!

Thanks to Laughcrylive for the Bones screencaps!
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The Entertainment Value of Fake Reality - The Week The Women Went, The Real World: Brooklyn, And More

The Amazing Race, Top Chef, Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance are the gold standards of reality TV. American Idol and Survivor are the popular ones. Then there's everything else. And I'm such a hypocrite because while I recommend the ones above, I'll admit, I still watch a lot of others. (Despite my usual rants against bad reality TV and the death of scripted television, yet here I am, one of the culprits of the problem).

For one, I've been watching ABC's What Would You Do, which replaced Eli Stone in the Tuesday 10pm timeslot. I should be boycotting the pseudo-news reality show but the "social experiments" they set up with actors are quite entertaining. Fake and obvious as hell but it still brings some moistness to my eyes when strangers do good and step up to stop the wrongs being recreated. That or I'm having my period every Tuesday at 10pm.

The Week The Women Went is the CBC series (Wednesdays at 8pm) that documents the ... well... the week the women went. The production sends all the women in a small town away (to a resort to be pampered), leaving the menfolk to run the town, the households and take care of the children. It's a contrived set up to help reinforce stereotypes but it's hilarious nonetheless.

Especially when watching the father that always throws up while changing the baby's diapers. Plus it's a CBC show (think BBC or PBS), so they make it as classy as you can on one of these things.

This second season turns the lives of the townspeople of Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia upside down.

My favorites are the guy with the leaky ceiling in the kitchen who finally gets a taste of what his wife has to deal with now that he has to cook in the kitchen.

There's also hottie Micah Stewart (below), the man's man who loves to work and take care of the town more than he does his own children. His poor wife Treva tries to engage him but alas, this is the week he's going to be forced to.

Mark Langille has the same problem and though he's willing to watch the kids, his obsessiveness over cleanliness and organization is kind of hilarious, especially when his kids call him out on it.

I also love Jimmie LeFresne, the "train conductor" who turned the local train and train station into a bed and breakfast. He's essentially a kid who gets to play with his giant train set all his life. Love it! But now that all his workers left (duh, the maids, the cooks, the waitstaff), the boys will have to run the show now.

More on The Bachelor, True Beauty, The Real World: Brooklyn, Top Chef, Project Runway Canada, American Idol:

The Bachelor - Jason Mesnick - Ep. 1304
True Beauty - Ep. 104

So I was wrong about CJ winning the whole damn thing. I mean, Chelsea really should have been in the bottom 2 and on her way out but they REALLY want her in don't they? Considering she creates the most drama on the show. On the other hand, I actually kinda like Billy so I'm glad he wasn't kicked off.

Meanwhile, was this the first time the bachelor didn't give out all the roses? That was fantastic. Nice move Jason! Bold, truthful and highly entertaining for those last few minutes. Now what's next in the script!? (When is DeAnna going to return? Dun dun DUN! Cue soap opera music).

The Real World: Brooklyn - The Outs & Ins of Brooklyn, The BFF-O-Meter Eps. 2102-2103

Yah, Chet just needs to come out. Or shut up. Loved his family's reaction to JD though. On learning that JD is gay: Mormon Mom "Oh that's why he was so nice!".

I still think Ryan's hair is adorable and I'll give him props for going to the gay bar but he needs to STOP WITH THE SINGING. Apparently I'm not the only one. He should, you know, stick to pole dancing!

And Scott needs to keep his shirt off... hola!

Top Chef - Down on the Farm, Restaurant Wars, Super Bowl Chef Showdown - Eps. 508- 510

I kind of want to stab Stefan and kiss him at the same time. Is that wrong?

I loved the farm challenge. There was a freshness to it and it all looked SO good!

Oh, the Top Chef Showdown brought back past season chefs and man, I miss Andrew. He was so cute and quirky.

Although I cannot BELIEVE Stefan, of all chef's, he who had won 5 competitions in a row, lose badly to Andrew from the All Stars team.

I was just about to list who I still love but at this point, I actually like everyone left. Carla makes me laugh. Jamie scares me a little but she really does seem concerned with impressing. Fabio makes me laugh, and Leah and Hosea seem like nice people and I have no real reason to hate them.

I still think Arianne got shafted way back when but oh well. I know most people hate Jeff's douchiness but I find it endearing but alas, I think he got himself chopped by talking too much against the judges cause I think Fabio was close to being cut.

Meanwhile, I'm hungry again...

Project Runway Canada - Fashion Is A Battlefield - Ep. 201 - Season Premiere

OTTAWA? They are in Ottawa this season? There's fashion in Ottawa? I thought it was a bunch of government suits. So the show starts off in the new Canadian War Museum (which I really must go and visit at some point).

Apparently fashion wars are bloody because who would have thought TWO people would flake out of the competition in the FIRST EPISODE? How lame is that? The producers must have been having a fit. Danio drops out due to health problems while Jaclyn has a panic attack (again. in the FIRST challenge) and drops out. For REAL?

So using a camouflage theme, the new designers show their stuff and the people with the irregular names; Adejoke, Baylor and Sunny, seem to have the best stuff. I don't really remember the others, except for Jason's blanket dress, that flips from a dress to a cloak to hide in on the field. For real. What was he thinking? It's too bad because it looked half decent as a dress.

Christie's blue lighting bolt was hideous. Like something that survived from the 80's under a pile of rubble and discovered for the show. I can't believe she's still in.

In the end, Camille's dress, with an unflattering top, just didn't measure up, and Iman said so long to her.

I'm also liking Jessica and Jeff so far, but I don't really remember the others yet right now (not that many were given much screen time with the two flake-outs and all).

But I am happy that Iman is back! She scares me but in a good way!

American Idol - Auditions in Jacksonville and Salt Lake City - Ep. 805, 806

There's still one more new audition episode tonight (on a special Thursday episode) before next week's Hollywood week (oh god finally. I know they already shortened the auditions this season but I never cared for it and am only watching to keep my eye on anybody that I might put my bet on for the pool I'm entering).

And seriously, so far this week, I've really seen no one that I would put my money on yet. Jacksonville was horrific. Salt Lake City was a little better at least.

The Osmond kid with MS (what's with these sob stories this year?) was pretty good. There were a few other singers in Mormon country that seemed cute.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Daytime Gaytime

I'm watching Ted Haggart on Oprah right now and I'm not really buying any of it (including the poor hair dye job). I like that Oprah is calling him and his wife Gayle on some of their delusions, but I will respect that he understands that he's truly confused about his sexuality and doesn't want to be pegged with a label (and supposedly anything else for that matter). Fine, I get it, but defending the church that booted him out is nauseating.

I feel bad for the kids though. They actually seem pretty well adjusted, considering.

OMG, he really hasn't changed has he? He's still spewing the church stuff as a sideways slight towards gays. WTF? And this was taped before the new Grant revelation.

Plus was it me or did gay-for-pay porn star Aaron James strangely come off (no pun intended) the best on The Tyra Banks Show last week on her "Gay for Pay" episode? You know, the one all the gay blogs commented on if only to show the picture of gay porn star cutie Kurt Wild (and I'm going to be no exception! But I'll save it for after the jump. Though I'm not going to link to his "body of work". I'll let you google that yourself, :P).

Strangely, I didn't cringe at Kurt (above left, below left) or Aaron's (above centre, below right) responsive and if anything, their "gay for pay" experiences have taught them to be pretty good spokesman for the gays (instead of spewing some macho stuff to make up for their work). (Here's some of the clips). And you gotta hand it to Tyra for trying her best (yet still being good ol' Tyra) and playing the salacious cards but still keeping it real and supportive of the gays (in her usual self-involved roundabout way). AfterElton has a pretty good review of the show. I think Dean (above right) spoke pretty well too but I think I couldn't stop laughing at his frosted tips to actually take his claims to straightness seriously.

I'm not even going to bother questioning their straightness or not, and whether they delude themselves or just really do it for the money, but there has got to be some irony (that's not the word I want but I can't think what else it could be) to the fact that the porn stars seem more grounded than Ted Haggart.

Meanwhile, was it me or was the Advocate guy a little off-putting? And sraightphobic? Seriously dude, what a way to make gays look defensive and antagonistic.

Things got a little yucky when some of the straight bartenders talked about the sleazy gay men offering them money for sexual encounters but at least Tyra pointed out that ALL men are like that (gay or straight) and that "Men are NASTY". Oh Tyra.

On a non-gay-related note (well, depending on what you believed), I passed by The Doctors and Big Brother king Will Kirby was on. Seriously? It's not bad enough that The Bachelor's Dr. Travis Stork co-hosts, but Kirby? I know he's a "REAL" doctor but I cannot take this show seriously, informative or not.

And on Bonnie Hunt today, there's a cute (if slightly cheesy) illusionist on. Joel Ward. Between his demeanor and the blond hair, he reminds me a bit of NPH! Yah, that's all. No idea if he's gay or straight. Though he did mention he is single. I just wanted to mention him. Adorable! I'm shameless!

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Being Tyron Leitso

Now that ABC has placed the last 3 episodes of Pushing Daisies on hold (until ?), I'm having some Lee Pace withdrawal syndromes.

I've found a suitable replacement! Strangely, in Lee Pace's costar from his previous series Wonderfalls (also by Bryan Fuller), Canadian Tyron Leitso, who I always thought looked remarkably similar and could totally be brothers with Pace (except they didn't play brothers, in fact, Pace was the leads brother, Leitso her romantic possibility), is in the new Canadian CBC series Being Erica which I finally checked out the other week and it's amusingly cute. (And apparently will premiere in the US on SoapNet on Feb. 19)

It's about 30's something Erica who gets sent back into different times of her past to re-live and change things. A do over of sorts. Or something like that.

I was just overjoyed that Tyron Leitso is back on TV! And now looking like a cross between Lee Pace and Matthew Fox!

The series is from some of the former writers of Degrassi: TNG and has already had guest roles for Paula Brancati (Jane) and Scott Paterson (Johnny, and seriously one of the nicest guys in real life and TOTALLY unlike his Degrassi character).

It's still a little clunky (basically due to low Canadian TV series budgetary reasons) as much as it tries to be a slick and glossy "girl dramady" TV show (think Ally McBeal with less annoying ticks or Ugly Betty without the colorful camp). But Erin Karpluk is likable as the lead, and again, I'm already enjoying her will-they-or-won't-they interplay with Tyron Leitso's Ethan. Plus, these "do-over" shows are always kinda fun. This last week's episode where Erica ends up stealing a future page from Britney Spears, and reciting the lyrics to "Baby Hit Me One More Time" as her own poem in university was pretty hilarious.

Here's the trailer:

Meanwhile, if you never caught Wonderfalls the first time around (on of all places, FOX), the full series is out on DVD. It was a total pre-curser to the wonderfullness of Pushing Daisies.

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How Am I Going To Beat 96 Stage Shows This Year?

I don't want to steal away from ModFab's Stage Addiction thunder but I'm going to go on a Theatre linking binge right now, so bear with me or just wait until I get back to my regular TV programing/posting.

So I saw 96 shows last year on stage and I doubt I'll surpass that this year especially as I should probably save my money a bit more this year with the current tanking economy, but I'm sure I'll still try! (So far I'm at 2, but then again, I was at 1 this time last year).

I mean, I know I'll already be going back to Spring Awakening a few times when the National Tour finally hits Toronto in March! (Seriously, join The Toronto Guilty Ones!) (Only 2 more times before I break my own record for seeing a musical the most times!)

Now, I've already seen Hair (loved it!) , West Side Story (loved it!) and 9 to 5 (liked it) in their pre-Broadway runs (and I'll probably go see them again), but I feel like I don't have many new musicals left to see on Broadway (and no, I still have no intention of seeing Mary Poppins or The Little Mermaid).

(BTW, 9 to 5 just released Stephanie J. Block singing "Get Out and Stay Out")

There still is Guys and Dolls (with Lauren Graham, Oliver Platt and Craig Bierko), The Story of My Life (with Malcolm Gets and Will Chase, yum!) and Rock of Ages (which is getting such good word of mouth from people I would never have thought would have liked it that I guess I'll have to go see it, especially now that it's moving to Broadway) that I would like to see, but I'll have to figure out when I have time to return back to New York.

Meanwhile, as Broadway shutters down a lot of the musicals (man, even Wicked and Jersey Boys aren't selling out anymore. Whoa. I mean, no worries that they will close (sadly, Phantom won't die either) but still. No more 101% capacities right now), tons of plays are taking its place. Blithe Spirit (with Christine Ebersole, Rupert Everett and Angela Lansbury), Gods of Carnage (with James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis, and Marcia Gay Harden) and reasons to be pretty (with Piper Perabo and Steven Pasquale (Rescue Me)) sound pretty interesting.

Then there are other starry plays that I feel I should be more excited about, but so far I'm not. 33 Variations (with Jane Fonda), Impressionism (with Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen), Exit the King (with Geoffrey Rush and Susan Sarandon), Accent on Youth (with David Hyde Pierce), The American Plan (with Mercedes Ruehl), Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Irena's Vow (with Tovah Feldshuh), The Philanthropist (with Matthew Broderick), Waiting For Godot (with Bill Irwin, Nathan Lane, John Goodman, and David Strathairn), Mary Stuart (with Janet McTeer) and Hedda Gabler (with Mary Louise Parker, which sadly didn't get great reviews).

Who said Broadway's shutting down? Just the musicals. Well, let's get out of New York then.

I'm seeing Minsky's and Pippin in LA a month from now! Pictures from Pippin are out (and a first look video) and reviews should be out soon. Word is it's problematic but still pretty good and better than the 2007 Goodspeed production. Most interestingly, it's a coproduction with Deaf West Theatre, so the musical is also entirely signed. With many characters portrayed by two actors. One regular singing, one signing. (Including Michael Arden (Bare) and Tyrone Giordano (Big River) both as Pippin). The awesome Harriet Harris also stars!

Minsky's is the new musical from Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone) starring Christopher Fitzgerald (the one redeeming thing from Young Frankenstein) and Beth Leavel (The Drowsy Chaperone).

Here's also an early look at Minsky's from the local LA NBC affiliate:

I'm also heading to London in 2 months but I'm still trying to figure out what I should see in my limited time there. (Plus, I want cheap if possible. You know. Recession! (Okay, fine. I'm just generally cheap)). I think my choices are down to New Boy, Carousel, Entertaining Mr. Sloane, La Cage Aux Folles, Three Days of Rain and Sunset Boulevard. (I'm skipping Priscilla Queen of the Desert (UPDATE: I forgot to explain why. It's because it's rumoured that it will open in Toronto later this fall!!! So I'll get to see it at home anyways) and I'd love to see A Little Night Music but I get there after it closes).

At this point I'm only going to be there for a weekend and I'm already seeing Madame de Sade with Dame Judi Dench at the Wyndham (from tickets I bought almost a YEAR ago!), but I'd like to fit whatever I can in my short time there. I may try to stretch my visit if I can, but there's no guarantee so most of it might have to be last minute.

Hmm... so what to see, what to see? Three Days of Rain has James McAvoy. Yum! But I can't afford close up and would be stuck at the back of the theatre up high so is there really a point? (Plus I just saw the Broadway revival recently with Julia, Bradley and Paul).

Entertaining Mr. Sloane has Matthew Horne from Gavin & Stacey and Imelda Staunton (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Vera Drake)! But Orton scares me. And I've never even seen any of his shows before yet.

New Boy might be my most likely choice even though I know nothing about the play or the author, but Nicholas Hoult (below, Skins, About A Boy) makes his stage debut, plus tickets are "cheap" (at least in London terms)! Plus, you know. Nicholas Hoult! All grown up!

I've never seen Carousel, La Cage Aux Folles, or Sunset Boulevard so I'm curious. Not a big Webber fan but I'm curious about Sunset (though reviews were middling I think) and I figure I should see the classic Carousel.

But again, I need a deal too. I need CHEAP! (And sadly I find London theatres no longer offers as many good deals as New York does, though maybe the recession might change that). I'll be going back in the summer too (to see Jude Law in Hamlet so I could probably save the longer run shows for then).

Meanwhile, if you're in Toronto, the promotional coupon code HARPO gets you 50% off The Color Purple at the Canon Theatre (via Mirvish).

Also through Mirvish, codes SASTAR or SPRING will get you 20% off Tue-Thur shows from March 17-26th (the first 2 weeks of the run) of Spring Awakening at the Canon (via Mirvish).

And the code MUSIC will get you the $199 "Family pack" of 4 tickets to The Sound of Music (for Wednesday through Friday (7:30) and Sunday evening (6:30) performances only).

And Acting Upstage in Toronto will be producing a revival of A New Brain (by William Finn (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) and James Lapine (Sunday in the Park with George). No deal but it's generally pretty inexpensive already. This little upstart theatre company has done pretty well in the past year with Edges and A Man of No Importance and this is probably the starriest (in Toronto terms) cast yet (with Steven Gallagher, Barbara Barsky, Thom Allison and Patricia Zentilli).

Also, don't forget, a bunch of Degrassi kids (and others) will star in Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead opens at Six Degrees (on Yonge north of Eglinton) starting March 13th with an official opening on April 1st!

And then in 3 months, I'm heading back to D.C. to see Ragtime, one of my favorite musicals of all time.

But while I'm in D.C., I want to try to catch two new musicals by Michael John LaChiusa at the Signature Theatre. A musical adaptation of Edna Ferber's Giant and See What I Wanna See (a new musical based on short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa).

Finally, in theatre news at the cinemas, Every Little Step, the great documentary that followed the audition process to the Broadway revival of A Chorus Line (a show about auditioning for a Broadway show), is being released in North America on April 17th 2009!

Now let's hope Passing Strange gets a release date. The film version of last years Broadway musical (filmed by Spike Lee) debuted at Sundance to rave reviews.

So in the end, I averaged $26.61 per show last year. Let's see if I can beat that this year! (Plus who said that seeing theatre needs to be expensive? There are ways! Though yes, that means I spent $2555 last year. So THAT'S where all my money went. Oh well, I would have probably lost it all in the stock market anyways. At least this way I was entertained!)

Vance at

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Iman Is Back And Ready To Cut You Up!

I've been waiting for Iman to return and give her regal smackdown in Canada but in the rush of things in my life, I almost forgot that she's back TONIGHT in Project Runway Canada, now on the main Global network at 10pm on Tuesdays. (Encore presentations will run on Slice on Saturdays at 9pm).

If you never saw any of season 1, Iman had this perfect blend of scary regality and motherly love. This show is Heidi Klum's baby and she's great in her own enthusiasm, but Iman could take Heidi. Iman is Heidi AND Tim combined in one.

And since you Americans may never get to see the new season of Project Runway on Lifetime/Bravo?, nows the time to join us up here for a dose of Canadian sewing here in Toronto! (Is it still in Toronto? I don't know anything about this new season. I haven't even had time to check out the new designers competing). Same basic show, we're just a little nicer! I'm kidding I'm kidding. We're just nicer on TV. (Seriously, we just don't do drama just quite as well here).

I will admit, we don't have Tim Gunn though. But Iman more than makes up for that. Plus our "Tim" Brian Bailey isn't bad. No Tim Gunn but he's far better than the Australian and British "Tim".

Meanwhile, I already forgot who won the first season (It was Biddell, right?), but then again, I've actually forgotten who won all the American seasons too (Jay? Chloe? Christian. Leanne. I missing someone aren't I?).

Vance at

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You Won't Have To Force Me To Watch Leverage From Now On

Looks can be deceiving. I had no intention of watching TNT's new show Leverage (Tuesdays at 10pm) but they were nice enough to send some screeners and I was slightly intrigued because of one of the stars. No, not Oscar winner Timothy Hutton. Not Angel alum Christian Kane (though more on that later). No, it was Brit Gina Bellman from the UK Coupling (which seems to pop up a lot in my life recently). Still, the posters and ads looked kinda terrible so I wrote it off, but then the reviews came out, they were good, and then I still continued to ignore it until last week.

Because I was still on my Coupling high (I re-watched the entire series last last weekend), I decided to check Leverage out (finally, for my love of Bellman) and boy, it is a LOT of fun! It's actually quite sly and clever disguised under a dumb procedural show, and it turned out far wittier than I thought it would be.

The basic premise is this. Timothy Hutton is Nathan Ford, someone who used to work for the good guys, but then gets screwed over by the same insurance company he has helped for so long. He gets recruited to help a friend and do right, all while screwing said insurance company. Nathan recruits a ragtag set of criminal experts, including a computer nerd Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge, Voodoo from Friday Night Lights), the expert muscle Eliot Spencer (Christian Kane in dire need of a haircut but won't cause it adds "character", Angel), the spy gadgets expert Parker (Beth Riesgraf) and the actress Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman).

If you haven't seen the pilot, I won't spoil it for you but basically there are double crosses and triple crosses but in the end, it leaves our characters extremely rich and ready to be true do-gooders and thus it sets up the series. From there, the group decides only to help those in dire need, becoming sort of vigilante spy angels, a modern day group of Robin Hoods. It's a feelgood premise that is extremely fantastical and winning but the series melds it with some nice plot twists and interesting cases that are clever and exciting. It's Veronica Mars and Alias with less of the darkness.

Vance at

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