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April 20, 2014

TCA Press Tour

Patrick Stewart Talks About 'Hamlet,' 'Macbeth' and His IT Guy... Wil Wheaton

by Joel Keller, posted Apr 20th 2010 2:02PM
Sir Patrick StewartMost people know the recently-knighted Patrick Stewart from his movie and TV roles, many of which are of the sci fi / fantasy variety. Of course, there's Jean-Luc Picard of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation,' but there's also Charles Xavier in the 'X-Men' series and the voice of Avery Bullock on 'American Dad.'

But back in his native England, Sir Patrick is just as well known for his Shakespearean work, both on-stage and on the screen. Some of that work will be on display on April 28, when he reprises the role of Claudius (he first played the role on TV 30 years ago) in PBS's production of 'Hamlet' on 'Great Performances.' As Nick mentioned yesterday, the production, with David Tennant in the title role, mixes the classic dialogue with modern dress and settings to give the play a more contemporary feel.

Stewart will also perform in the title role of 'Macbeth' for a similarly-staged production airing on PBS later this year. I sat down with Sir Patrick in January, when he presented at the TCAs; we spoke about the two productions, what his classic training brought to his 'Star Trek' role, his guest turn on 'Extras' and how his first ever IT guy was none other than Wil Wheaton.

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Anna Gunn on the 'Breaking Bad' Bombshell

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 22nd 2010 2:02PM
Anna Gunn of 'Breaking Bad'In season two of 'Breaking Bad,' viewers saw Anna Gunn's character of Skyler White go from long-suffering wife of cancer-patient-slash-meth-maker Walter White to a person who is starting to have her own moral dilemmas.

But right at the start of the third season, Skyler's world gets turned upside down. I can't say more without spoiling things, which is why I postponed posting the interview I did with Anna Gunn in January until after the season three premiere aired. Gunn and I talk about the first episode bombshell and how her character reacted. We also talk about what might be in store for Skyler and son Walt Jr. (RJ MItte) in season three.

Our friends at AOL TV also spoke to Gunn recently, if you want to find out more about what's in store for Skyler.

(WARNING: Spoilers of the season three premiere are ahead!)

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Bob Odenkirk's Inspiration For His 'Breaking Bad' Character Was... Robert Evans?

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 21st 2010 3:15PM
Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman in 'Breaking Bad'Wanted to pass along another tidbit from the 'Breaking Bad' roundtable I wrote about the other day. When Bob Odenkirk was asked by one of the reporters if he modeled his character of slimy lawyer Saul Goodman on TV televangelists like Joel Osteen and various media hucksters, he agreed that those people informed his character. But the biggest influence on how he played Saul wasn't a huckster; it was legendary movie producer Robert Evans.

"I've never had a part with this many lines that someone else wrote. Even for myself, even that I wrote. Anything I've ever written for myself, I've never had these monologues. So that was intimidating," said Odenkirk. "I thought, if your cadence doesn't change, if you don't have an interesting delivery to this, you're never going to be able to listen to this three pages of dialogue from this one guy."

He cited the audiobook to Evans' autobiography 'The Kid Stays In The Picture' for helping him deal with those monologues.

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'Breaking Bad' Tidbits from Cranston, Paul and Odenkirk

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 19th 2010 3:05PM
Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul of 'Breaking Bad'
After speaking to Vince Gilligan at the press tour, the folks at AMC were eager to get online writers a chance to talk to the entire 'Breaking Bad' cast. So, later on that day, about a half-dozen reporters sat with Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Bob Odenkirk and Anna Gunn to talk about the show's intense second season and what's coming up in season three, which debuts Sunday at 10PM ET.

The most interesting tidbits came from Cranston, which makes sense; not only is he the show's Emmy-winning star, but he has also directed a number of episodes, including the season three premiere. When I asked him about the next-to-last episode of season two, a moment that I've dubbed the show's "holy crap" moment, he had an interesting response.

(WARNING: Spoilers of season two are ahead!)

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Andy Cohen on Jersey Housewives, 'Top Chef,' and Being the Face of Bravo

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 18th 2010 2:02PM
Andy Cohen of BravoWhen NBC Universal had their all-star party at the January press tour, I got a chance to talk to Andy Cohen of Bravo. Who's Andy Cohen? Many of you who follow Bravo's reality shows may know him as "the reunion guy," who hosts all the reunion shows at the end of each season. Others may know him from the talk show 'Watch What Happens Live,' which debuted last summer and discusses the week in the world of Bravo and beyond.

But Cohen has a day job: as the network's senior vice president of original programming and development, he's largely been responsible for bringing shows like 'Top Chef,' 'Project Runway,' 'Flipping Out,' 'The Real Housewives' series and others to the network. So he's the perfect guy to talk to about the mishegas going on with the Jersey Housewives as they shoot their second season, fluky edits on the finale of 'Top Chef,' and whatever he could say about the Salahis, who crashed a White House dinner while being recruited for 'The Real Housewives of D.C.' Our talk is after the jump.

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Ed O'Neill on Being the 'Modern Family' Patriarch

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 17th 2010 5:02PM
Ed O'Neill of 'Modern Family''Modern Family' is a repeat tonight, so I figured it would be a good opportunity to give fans a little taste by posting the quick talk I had with Ed O'Neill in January. It was the last day of the press tour, and the critics were in the middle of an epic day of set visits; one of the most fun aspects of the day was that were able to wander through the sound stages at 'Family' and talk informally to the show's stars.

I found O'Neill in the kitchen of the house where his character, Jay Pritchett, lives with his trophy wife Gloria (Sofia Vergara) and old soul stepson Manny (Rico Rodriguez). As my fellow critics were beckoning me to get on the bus to go to the next set, I asked Ed a few questions about how Jay has changed this season, and what he thinks the legacy of 'Married... With Children' might be.

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Vince Gilligan on 'Breaking Bad' Season Three

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 17th 2010 11:02AM
Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul of 'Breaking Bad'
'Breaking Bad' comes back for its third season this Sunday on AMC (10PM ET / 9PM CT), and after watching the last few episodes of season two, the new season can't come soon enough. The dramatic ante was upped for meth-making science teacher Walter White (a role for which Bryan Cranston won another Emmy) and his partner Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), and the season ended with the fallout of Walter's actions spreading from his family to the greater Albuquerque area.

Creator and executive producer Vince Gilligan is the man behind the dark but wryly amusing world of 'Breaking Bad.' After watching the first two season three episodes while I was at the TCA tour in January, I got a chance to sit with Gilligan poolside at the Langham Huntington for a few minutes.

We talked about the "holy crap" moment of season two, on how he and Cranston see Walter differently, how many seasons he envisions the show running, how Walter might transform over the season's run, and what it's like to be on the same network as 'Mad Men.'

Stay tuned for interviews with the cast later in the week.

(SPOILERS AHEAD! Stop here if you haven't seen season two yet...)

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Aziz Ansari: The ODB of 'Parks and Recreation'

by Joel Keller, posted Feb 24th 2010 7:02PM
Aziz AnsariAziz Ansari has had the kind of career you'd expect to see from a guy who's 35 or so, not from someone who's only four years out of business school.

The 26-year-old comedian's profile has risen quickly over the last couple of years. From being an up-and-coming stand-up star playing the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York, the last three years have seen him do two seasons of MTV's 'Human Giant,' a half-season as lazy intern Ed on the eighth season of 'Scrubs,' a big role as awful stand-up comic Randy in Judd Apatow's 'Funny People,' a one-hour stand-up special on Comedy Central, and a season and a half as Tom Haverford on 'Parks and Recreation.'

I caught up with Ansari at NBC's all-star press party last month and asked him about how his character, who plays the scheming right-hand man of the earnest Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), has developed since the show started, and what's next for a guy who's done a lot in such a short period of time.

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Alison Brie On Shifting Between 'Mad Men' And 'Community'

by Joel Keller, posted Feb 18th 2010 2:02PM
Alison Brie at the NBC all-star Party at the Winter 2010 TCAsUsually during a press tour all-star party, there's one or two unexpectedly popular stars who just seem to attract throngs and throngs of reporters for the entire night. A couple of years ago, it was George Takei right after he started on 'Heroes.' This year, the NBC star attracting the attention at their all-star party in Pasadena last month was Alison Brie.

Why? Well, besides being cute and chatty, having significant supporting roles in two critically-acclaimed shows probably helped. Brie not only plays the uptight and naïve Annie on the comedy 'Community,' but she also plays Trudy, the hard-driving wife of Pete Campbell (played by Vincent Kartheiser) on 'Mad Men.'

I managed to wait out the crowds and get a few solo minutes with Brie. We talked about how she shifts between the high comedy of 'Community' and the intense drama of 'Men,' and if her presence in 'Men's' finale means she'll be back for season four.

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Richard Hatch Still Ticked About Being Thrown Back in Jail

by Joel Keller, posted Feb 17th 2010 2:07PM
Richard Hatch attends 10th Anniversary party for 'Survivor' in January 2010When CBS threw their tenth-anniversary party for 'Survivor' last month during the TCA press tour, there was only one person I wanted to talk to: Richard Hatch. And there was only one reason I wanted to talk to him: Someone claiming to be him sent us an e-mail comment in response to a post Allison did in October; Allison basically told him to stop airing public comments regarding the incident that sent him back to jail last summer.

If you recall, he gave an interview with 'Today' and two other NBC properties last August; he was sent back to jail because he was supposedly only given permission to talk to 'Today.'

In the note to us, the person -- who we're pretty sure was Hatch, based on some digging we did after the note came in -- claims that the system is "broken" and that he doesn't owe any back taxes, something Hatch has said in public a number of times.

So, I decided to ask him about whether he liked sending websites e-mails like that, then we talked a little about the case.

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'Human Target's' Chi McBride Misses 'Pushing Daisies'

by Joel Keller, posted Feb 16th 2010 3:02PM
Chi McBride at the FOX all-star party January 2010One of the most fun things of any press tour is getting to sit down with Chi McBride and just talk, about anything. Politics, baseball, cigars... when you're talking to Chi, the conversation can go just about anywhere.

The drawback to seeing McBride on so many tours is that he's always there with a new show to promote. Because he's able to handle drama and comedy with equal ease, he's cast in a lot of pilots. The problem is, most of the resulting shows rarely last more than a couple of years. In the last six years, since his four-season run on 'Boston Public' ended, we've seen McBride in 'Killer Instinct,' 'The Nine' and 'Pushing Daisies.' Now he's co-starring with Mark Valley and Jackie Earle Haley in the FOX popcorn-action series 'Human Target.'

I sat with McBride as he held court at FOX's all-star party in Pasadena last month. As he puffed away on an Opus X -- he offered me one and I very reluctantly declined -- we talked about which of his roles he misses the most, and how he does his running scenes on 'Target.' Let's just say he doesn't waste too much film on those.

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Nick Offerman on Being Ron "F@%&in'" Swanson

by Joel Keller, posted Feb 11th 2010 2:01PM
Nick Offerman of Parks and RecreationWhen viewers and critics first saw the government-hating parks director Ron Swanson on 'Parks and Recreation,' they didn't quite know what to make of him. Is he just a hard-ass? Or was there more to him?

Well, as the show has improved so has viewers' opinion of Ron, played by Nick Offerman. In the first half of 'Parks and Rec's' second season, Swanson has become a favorite of fans and critics; we've seen his love of breakfast food, his ability to build a small harp while drinking, and his secret life as smooth jazz stylist Duke Silver. And the 'stache... oh, the 'stache. It's the best one on primetime since Tom Selleck's.

When I was at the NBC party at the TCAs last month, I spoke to Offerman about how Swanson has developed, having his real-life wife (Megan Mullally) play Swanson's ex, and if we're going to see more of Swanson's jazzy alter ego.

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Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on 'Faces of America' and the Beer Summit

by Joel Keller, posted Feb 9th 2010 2:03PM
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. at the premiere of 'Faces of America'While I was in Pasadena for the TCAs, I got a chance to have a very interesting talk with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. He was at the press tour to promote his new PBS series 'Faces of America,' which debuts on Wednesday, February 10.

In the four-part follow-up to his 'African-American Lives' series, Gates traces the lineages of a number of celebrity guests via the use of both old-fashioned digging -- documents, genealogical investigations -- and cutting-edge genome research. Some of the guests include Eva Longoria, Yo Yo Ma, Stephen Colbert, Malcolm Gladwell, Dr. Oz and Meryl Streep.

Professor Gates and I talked mostly about what he found surprising about his research, and what guests were most surprised by their lineages. Of course, I also asked him about the aftermath of the "beer summit" with President Obama and James Crowley, the Cambridge police officer who arrested him for breaking into his own house last summer. You'd be surprised what the officer gave Professor Gates as a keepsake of the incident.

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Nick Offerman Really Does Have a Woodshop

by Joel Keller, posted Feb 8th 2010 5:02PM
Ron Swanon in his woodshop on 'Parks and Recreation'
On last week's 'Parks and Recreation' we saw Ron Swanson prove to Leslie how much of a tolerance he has for alcohol: he finished building a small harp in his woodshop while downing a bunch of whiskey. Power tools, precise measurements, minute tuning, the whole works. He even showed her photographic evidence (above).

When I spoke to Nick Offerman at the press tour, he told me that the show would be getting a look inside Swanson's woodshop. When he talked about the prospect, his eyes lit up and said, "I'm very excited about it." Well, now we know why: Offerman owns his own woodshop, and has a website full of examples of his and his crew's work. They make some very nice furniture, and they also build small structures and canoes.

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Diablo Cody thinks a Jennifer's Body series would be "amazing"

by Joel Keller, posted Jan 22nd 2010 3:02PM
Diablo Cody at the 2010 Winter TCAsAbout a month ago, our friends at CliqueClack listed five reasons why Diablo Cody's thriller Jennifer's Body should be made into a television series.

They seemed to list some compelling reasons, especially the fact that it would play well with fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So when Cody was at the TCAs to promote the upcoming season of her Showtime hit United States of Tara, I decided to ask her about the prospect as she got off-stage.

"I had never heard that," she replied. "That would be amazing."

When I asked her if the show would appeal to Buffy fans, she asked, "Did the original Buffy movie do well in the theaters?" When we said it didn't, she shot back in self-deprecating fashion: "This could be the perfect metaphor, then."

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