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Films, television, videos, or other visual media that's currently caught my eye ...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Wolverine and the X-Men

The new vehicle for one of Marvel Comics's cash cows, the merry mutants that are the X-Men, debuted this weekend.

Wolverine and the X-Men is the newest cartoon for the X-Gene challenged, and I find it so far to be a good mix between my beloved 90s series, and X-Men: Evolution (from which it takes some heavy visual cues).

The series has some serious talent on the acting side (Nolan North, Liam O'Brien,Richard Doyle, Kari Wahlgren, etc.), same writer (Craig Kyle, also a comic book scribe) as X-Men: Evolution. I'm a big Steve Blum fan, though I think he's more of a Cowboy Bebop / Spike guy than a berzerker canuck, so his emoting felt a little off in the first two episodes. I'm hoping he flexes into it (and I know he can, so it's not a talent issue at all).

Not that everything's rosy with the series. Marvel is going to have a serious challenge of doing the series justice, without bending it too much on its ear to support the X-Men Origins: Wolverine film vehicle in May (example: Cyclops is a leader of the X-Men; Storm is a leader of the X-Men; Wolverine is not so much).

Marvel also has a glut of animated content available or coming down the pipe (the current Spider-Man series; the new Iron Man series that has me concerned; all of the Lions Gate direct-to-DVD fair (they already had to smartly combine the two "Hulk Versus" films; etc.). I do have a concern that people will get saturated with it, and we'll have a late-1990s(ish) tailing of interest in all things comic book. That would make me sad.

I think what will mitigate it is companies treating these things for what they are -- not comic book properties, per se, but intellectual properties with various expressions, one of which happens to be comic books. The dark horse is whether the fanboys will give the properties that latitude.

Lookit me -- I start out with quick impressions, and wind up with the start of a biz dev article. I'm complex that way.

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Monday, November 24, 2008


It's saying something that I look forward to Chuck every week, when I no longer look forward to Heroes. Which makes me sad (but I'm behind on the show, so there's hope).

If you're missing Chuck's more polished throwback to light-hearted adventure fare, do yourself a favor and pick up season one, and give yourself some time to be entertained.

There is some very good acting going on in this flick, and I'm particularly impressed with the eponymous Chuck's Zachary Levi, the constantly under-rated Adam Baldwin, and Yvonne Strahovski (who I've only seen have one moment of not-great acting throughout the series).

Speaking of good performances, get caught up to season two and see episodes six through eight, which have Jordana Brewster guesting. Watch her closely, because she gives a nuanced, attentive performance I'm used to seeing in film, not television.

Goodness, I'm gushing. You'd think I was in the series. But no, not yet (but, call me) ...


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Monday, May 19, 2008


I so dig Scrubs.

There should be more stuff like this with heart and guts brilliant writing and as-brilliant ensemble acting.

The beauty of syndication is I watch between one to four episodes a night.

Zach Braff? Brilliant and gutsy (my agent used to rep him).

John C. McGinley? Something to which to aspire.

Favorite episodes? Probably "My Cake", "My Fallen Idol", and all of the Brendan Fraser episodes ("My Screwup", "My Hero", and "My Occurrence").


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Thursday, October 04, 2007


NBC's Heroes is back for its sophomore season, and I'm pretty stoked.

The threads are pretty thick, and they're handling them pretty well, though newcomers may struggle a bit with Peter and Ando's identities in the mix. Hang on for the ride, though -- Heroes tends to mash people's lives together -- super-hero Crash style.

Oh, and it's darker. I don't mean in tone. I mean the thing looks like it's shot darker. A bit of a pain when displayed on the projector.


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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Who Wants to Be a Superhero

I'm a big Stan Lee fan. I think he's is responsible for most of the success and positive direction of tights-wearing comic books today. I respect the guy, and look for any opportunity to hear from him and get his insights.

And I'm a comic book fan. Wednesday's are special days of the week for me.

So I'm watching the second season of Who Wants to Be a Superhero.

Sweet mother, I must be a fan.

I mean, it's better than season 1, but this show is painful for me to watch.

There are folks that are obviously not going to make it through the running and get their own comic book, action figure, and movie. "Hygena"? Please. "Basura"? Shouldn't she be enemies with Hygena? "Mr. Mitzvah"? WTF?

And these non-contenders are irritating, because it makes the audience do time to find out who the "real" contenders are. Think thinly veiled red herrings. (It's going to be The Defuser, Hyper-Strike, or Whip-Snap. In that order of likelihood.)

And the acting from the villains makes me want to spew. Crappy campy.

I did say it was better than last season. There are no Blackberries with post-production video cheesily (and falsely) overlaid. And they're intentionally being campy at times. As opposed to being unintentionally corny in season 1.

But the "Elimination" sequence has gotten worse.

So, it's a tough series to watch, but I do, because I love getting insight from Stan Lee about what makes a hero, and how you create one. He'll be 86 this year, and he's got to be one of the most active and incredible lifetime independent creatives I've ever seen. It would be an honor to work with him in any capacity, and these reality show folks are really blessed.

Oh, and this pict is from the Website's "Hero Creator", which crapped out at the last step. Forefront's a character of mine I've had for a while. But not with this costume. I think my catchphrase is obscuring my package....

Adam Creighton as Forefront

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Inside the Actor's Studio ...

I'm doing a marathon of sorts, watching the "100th Episode Anniversary", James Woods, David Duchovney, and Alan Alda (from my neck of the woods).

I am encouraged by how much I get to learn. I'm also encouraged that James Woods sounds like me in an interview, but turns in such amazing performances on screen.

There's hope ...


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Friday, February 23, 2007


I'm still watching this show. And, for the most part, it keeps getting better and better.

The initial roughness is tightening up, some of the uneven acting is getting less so, and it's a new way to scratch the comic book itch.

The second half of season 1 started out steeply, so folks not familiar with the first arc were probably left in the dark. Weird, since this is a known thing to avoid killing a series prematurely.

That said, NBC has probably the best network Website, and you can watch full episodes online. This'll probably go away, because as Season 1 winds down, I'm sure the DVD boxed set is on its way, and the network isn't going to cannibalize those sales.

Check out the series. There are some strong actors on board, and it's fun, (mostly) non-bubble gum fiction.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas comic book cartoons

Last year, I made recordings and an all-in-one DVD of three different holiday-themed comic book cartoons. I'd forgotten I had this, stumbled upon it, and popped it in during Christmas Eve festivities. Glad I did.

(And, yes, there's a theme here.)

Powerpuff Girls: Twas the Fight Before Christmas

I miss this show. Tom Kenny is an amazing voice talent. The special has Princess Morebucks, who is one of my favorite baddies to hate -- and she's a Powerpuff girl? And Santa takes Christmas away from everyone? And then he's ... had ... enough!?

Good stuff.

Justice League ("Comfort and Joy")

This was a great series, and I'd argue better than its follow-on Unlimited incarnation.

This holiday one shot (most episodes were part of 2- or 3-episode arcs) is fun, has a lot of heart, and shows some (mostly) non-combatitive vignette moments of key members of the team. Superman/Clark and Martian Manhunter/J'onn visit Smallville. Green Lantern/Jon Stewart and Hawkgirl/Shayera have a superhero version of a snowball fight (then are off to an alien bar for a decidedly different holiday tradition). The Flash/Wally West and Ultra-Humanite end up in a battle that winds up well for everyone (including some orphans).

Batman: The Animated Series ("Holiday Knights")

Perhaps my favorite all-time cartoon, this holiday one-shot was one of the last episodes of the 1990s TV series. It has three great, different stories that have Bruce Timm's trademark "I get it" take on each character. The first story has Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy kidnap Bruce Wayne and put him under their control, using his money for a huge Christmas shopping spree. In the second story, Batgirl takes on Clayface in a Gotham Department Store during the holiday shopping rush. , Finally, Batman and Robin take on the Joker, who's (understandably) trying to kill all the people at Gotham City's New Year's Eve celebration. Great, solid acting and good story throughout.

I need to add the "Christmas With The Joker" episode to this collection. That episode has Mark Hamill (The Joker) in top form. And he sings a special version of "Jingle Bells".

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights is important to the Central Texas acting scene.

The thing is shot and produced here, and a big lift for this part of the acting world. I've got a lot of friends in it.

Watch it. It's genuinely good.

It's about competition and relationships and that passion and importance that is spotlighted in high school, but exists as part of the human condition, and we probably shouldn't be covering up so much once we graduate.

Wow, NBC has Friday Night Lights, Heroes, 30 Rock, Studio 60, Twenty Good Years ... This is becoming my network ...

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Friday, September 29, 2006


I am such a comic book geek, so I so want Heroes to succeed.

The pilot was pretty good. Good rough, and setting stuff up to hit the fan.

I'm hoping the tightness improves following episodes -- there were some particularly bad editing moments in first episode, and at least two scenes that seemed so contrived (dropping the ring in the garbage disposal, etc.), that I got jarred out of the moment.

And the acting is a mixed bag. Some good, some definitely showing us acting -- which I've gotten really sensitive to.

I was thinking this series was going to be an episodic version of Unbreakable, but it looks like it's actually going to be more blatant about its comic book tie-in.

I hope they don't try to ape to many past dramas, like the X-Files Smoking Man or TNT's Witchblade (though if they must ape Witchblade, let it be season 1, not season 2).

And check out the Website --Everything from watching missed episodes (full or 2-minute summary to keep you up to date), interviews, downloads, and an ongoing, online-only comic book that expands the Heroes world.

Hey, it's better comic book fare than Who Wants to be a Super Hero?, which I'm painfully working my way through (only because of Stan Lee's brilliance and entrepreneurship).

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A&E Biography (Johnny Depp)

I watched the new A&E Biography on Johnny Depp.

What a fascinating guy, and successful at doing things his way.

It wasn't as good as the Inside the Actors Studio with Depp, and I could do without all the gossipy pieces that drag down what I otherwise consider to be one of A&E's best series.

But it is fascinating to watch how hard he worked to make his career move in the non-beefcake way he wanted, the off-beat choices in characters he made, his continuing partnership with Tim Burton (I would so love that), and what his friends and co-stars had to say about him.

And I find it incredibly ironic that Keira Knightley says "it's so unfair to do a two-shot" with Depp, because "he's so beautiful."

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Inside the Actor's Studio (Fiennes, Gandolfini, Will & Grace)

I watched a few Inside the Actors Studio back-to-back yesterday. I consider this free, high-caliber class for feeding the acting part of my soul. Here's a brief summary.

Ralph Fiennes

First up was Ralph Fiennes. Brilliant and humble, I am most struck by Fiennes statements about voice acting, sex scenes, and the importance of acting as a medium that elevates and serves a much higher purpose -- personal and corporate -- than to "merely entertain."

James Gandolfini

Next up was James Gandolfini (The Sopranos, Get Shorty, etc.).

I was struck by his anecdote of his "break out moment", where he let go and tore apart a stage in anger during a Meissner class, and the instructor's explanation of the moment.

"See," she said. "Everyone's all right, nobody's hurt. This is what people want to see. They don't want to see the guy next door -- they want to see this."

She went on to explain that being, and controlling that being, is what acting's about.

I think a lot of folks may misunderstand Meissner, and are scared that control part isn't part of the process. If it's not, it's not process, it's anarchy.

I'm really impressed with Gandolfini's honesty, work ethic, and detailed openness about his craft.

"It's just a matter of showing up every day, even when you don't feel like it, even when don't want to be there, and doing what you're supposed to do, that's part of it -- that's a valuable lesson."

I was also encouraged by Gandolfini talking about some of his tough scenes -- particularly some of the brutal scenes he's had with women. He was up front and emotional about how "that stuff really messes with you," and talked about how that generally throws him off for days. This was important to me, because high emotion and tough conflict scenes that are against type for me (especially with women) really shake me up for a few days. Glad one of the greats has the same response.

The Cast of Will and Grace

Third up was the cast of Will & Grace.

Eric McCormack (Will), Debra Messing (Grace), Megan Mullally (Karen) Sean Hayes (Jack), James Burrows (Director), David Kohan and Max Mutchnick (Creators/Executive Producers) were all on hand to talk about themselves, the show, and the process.

For me, ensemble ItAS like this are more fluff than meat, just by nature of having to fit 5 mini-interviews into the allotted time.

These are some seriously impressive folks. many with impressive pedigree, and all of the them with a track record of making stuff happen (in my book, James Burrows is one of the more impressive directors out there).

I did like getting insight from non-actors Burrows, Kohan, and Mutchnick. In particular, Mutchnick had some interesting things to say for actors, and what he wants to see in auditions, and what he doesn't want to see (do people actually try to kiss the Casting Director? I'm sure that's not high on Tracy Lilienfield's list).

Good stuff, all around ...

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Justice League Unlimited

I watched Saturday's new Justice League Unlimited last night, and it was pretty impressive -- but probably only for the moments long-time comic book fans will notice.

The tale centers around Deadman (yeah, they actually showcased Deadman -- the whole JLU framework is awesome!), and had some great, subtle vignette moments.

Like Deadman, in ghost form, trying desperately to pull boulders off of a loved one.

They're actually killing people in cartoons. None of this "Oh he's stunned" crap -- but a more believable, non-candy coated, non-gratuitous depiction.

And there's a powerful moment related to Batman and Devil Ray (wasn't he Black Manta in the old Super Friends? What, is that not PC or something?). I won't give the moment away, but if you're a Batman fan, and know what makes him tick (and ticks him off), this may be a pretty powerful moment for you.

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Justice League Unlimited

Justice League Unlimited is finally back after an unnecessarily long hiatus, and last week's episode, "Flash and Substance", was a great return to what makes the series fun.

The series does a fantastic treatment of the wit and heart of the Flash character, and Michael Rosenbaum brings perfect light to the character. Flash also makes a great foil for Batman, and the writers are doing a slick job on the character development front for both.

Speaking of Rosenbaum, kudos to this guy -- he's Lex Luthor on Smallville, and the Flash on Justice League -- bad comic book guy, and good comic book guy.

That rocks, and I will be there someday ...

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

OK, so I'm not really watching Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.; I tried to watch Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D..

It's on right now, and I'd missed this 1998 made-for-TV movie when it first premiered, and its subsequent airings since.

A caught it just as it started today, and since it seemed fortuitous, thought I'd watch the whole deal for my "absorb-all-things-comic-book" shtick, and ... I can't do it.

Sweet mercy, who let this thing air?

Don't get me wrong; despite the multiple popular media jokes around David Hasselhoff, I'm incredibly impressed with his long-standing, solid, and ongoing career. Besides, he seems like a genuinely engaging person in various interviews and guest appearances, and takes his (arguably undeserved) lumps in stride and in good humor.

But this film blows. It takes a cool Marvel staple and makes it a cartoon (in a bad way), rips off a bunch of coventions, and parlays so many performance stereotypes (like "third-wheel-nervous-guy-who-comes-through-in-clutch-time") to no effect.

And to think the first Fantastic Four movie targeted for direct-to-video was so bad they didn't let it go live. Looking at this S.H.I.E.L.D. fiasco, I so want to watch and MST3K that film other.

Here's hoping the new S.H.I.E.L.D. film off of Marvel's recent licensing deals doesn't suck even half this much.

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Sitdown Comedy with David Steinbert (John Lovitz)

I just watched John Lovitz on TVLand's new series Sitdown Comedy with David Steinbert.

I wondered what happend to John Lovitz, who's 2002 to 2005 was a bit quiet, but with Bailey's Billion$, The Producers, The Benchwarmers, and Southland Tales in the works, maybe he's back in the game.

He had some interesting things to say about comedy and his process, like drama being from the heart, and comedy from the head, and you still do the drama, and layer the head stuff on top. He said you as an actor should know if the comedy is funny, but the character should be oblivious. Not sure how that works, but I think I'm going to try playing with it a bit.

He also talked about writing out Woody Allen's standup routines on index cards, highlighting words for diction and comedic timing. I hadn't thought of trying that (I figure if I can pull it off believably with with Eddie Murphey's Raw, I should be golden).

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Friday, January 13, 2006

Sitdown Comedy with David Steinbert (Mike Myers)

Just coincidently after watching Mike Myers on Inside the Actors Studio, I caught him on TVLand's new series Sitdown Comedy with David Steinbert.

There was some retread from ItAS, but it's Mike Myers -- so it was still brilliant and insightful.

Oh, and you should check out the website for Sitdown Comedy with David Steinbert -- you can watch full episodes online, including interviews with Larry David, Bob Newhart, Martin Short, John Lovitz, and George Lopez.

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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Inside the Actors Studio: Mike Myers

I re-watched Inside the Actors Studio with Mike Myers, and was, yet again, impressed and inspired.

Besides his memorable characters from his Saturday Night Live run, Myers is such a prolific writer, with big-successes like Wayne's World (and its sequel), Austin Powers (and its sequels) written in a stunningly short few weeks to few months.

Best advice I got from the interview? Two-fold:
  • Go-after-it-tenacity -- They guy makes sweeping comments like, "I'm going to be on Saturday Night Live", and makes it happen.
  • The intellect and acting -- Myers says intellect and workshop skills and things of the mind are for when you're stuck. When you're not stuck, you don't need them if you're truly in the moment ...
And So I Married an Axe Murderer is one of the most under-rated comedic flicks (with one of my favorite movie soundtracks).

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Friday, December 30, 2005

Inside the Actors Studio: Barbara Walters

I watched Inside the Actors Studio with Barbara Walters.

Has Walters really done over 4,000 big-gun interviews? Wow.

I found a bunch to learn from Walters that's applicable to acting. Most notably, her immense preparation and "homework" that she does, re-does, does again, then puts away for the actual interview, and adapts based on what's said (yep, she listens).

Sounds like a good recipe for success.

It's almost sad there's a whole generation that will just know her as "the older one on The View" (she's really good on the The View; she's just more than that).

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Inside the Actors Studio: Robert Redford

I watched Inside the Actors Studio with Robert Redford.

Besides being a legend in the industry, Redford has done a ton for independent and off-mainstream media (largely through the Sundance Film Festival and its offshoots).

Redford told a very visceral story (of which he admits, "I'm not proud of this"), where in his first class acting scene, he became so incensed at his scene partner not listening to him -- even mouthing Redford's own lines in preparation for his own -- that Redford grabbed him and physically threw him across the room.

Visceral, yes, but it was a vivid reminder of what my coaches -- particularly the wonderful Van Brooks -- have been drilling into me: Listen, connect, and genuinely interact with your partners in the scene.

Along those lines, it encouraged me immensely to hear Redford say he "kind of distrusts actors who have their lines memorized." He said he thinks genuine acting comes from improvisation -- but improvisation that doesn't "show" it's being improvised. I find a lot of freedom in knowing my lines cold, but having the directorial lattitude to see where the scene takes us.

Though I was encouraged, but also a little discouraged, because I haven't yet run into many directors with Redford's same mindset (OK, one; but all of my scenes ended up being cut from the final film); and I'm not sure I'll get the chance to act in one of Robert Redford's films in the short term ...

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Saturday Night Live

I watched Saturday Night Live this last weekend.

I think I'd unofficially sworn of SNL some years ago; it just wasn't doing
it for me anymore.

I watched this weekend because Jack Black was hosting, and the musical
guest was Neil Young -- two of my favorites.

The show was OK in places, and I only really enjoyed Black when he was
singinging (dude is talented and funny).

The other stuff was kinda weak (though the "Chronicles of Narnia" rap did
crack me up).

Neil Young was, of course, amazing.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

reality tv

'Twas the week of finales for reality television.

Survivor: Guatemala on Sunday (Stephenie should have won, and certainly deserved more votes); The Amazing Race: Family Edition (I'm happy the Lenz Siblings took it); and Thursday for The Apprentice (Randal's da man).

Yeah, I know actors aren't supposed to like reality TV, 'cause it's "robbing us of jobs", and ... whatever.

Anyway, now I've got three additional hours a week to devote to, uh, other frivoulous activities ...

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

"Live with Regis & Kelly" (Alan Alda)

I'm probably outing myself in some way, but I watched Live With Regis and Kelly, and their interview with Alan Alda.

Say what you will, but Live has some of the more mature inteviews with big people in the Biz; people from whom I want to learn -- and Alda is one of the best.

I'm grateful for my ReplayTV, which lets me record interviews from various shows/channels/times, and watch them at my leisure (because it's all about me ;-).

Oh, and The Click Five performed. I may have to check these guys out. And I don't know who this generation's Yoko is, but keep her away from these guys ...

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"The Amazing Race: Family Edition"

I'm watching "The Amazing Race: Family Edition".

Phil, you are quite the trickster (and a genuinely great host).

Lenz siblings, rip it up!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Austin City Limits

Just saw Austin City Limits tonight, with Franz Ferdinand and What Made Milwaukee Famous.

Like 'em both. The latter more than the former.

Can't wait for the The Pixies on November 26.

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Sunday, November 06, 2005

Inside the Actors Studio: Russell Crowe

It's a two-fer ItAS kind of day!

I watched Inside the Actors Studio: Russell Crowe, and I'm impressed -- has this guy really done 25 films in 13 years? I'm amazed and inspired by people in the biz that work this hard.

I think Crowe's got a "Hollywood Bad Boy" monicker, but at least on this ItAS, he was direct, generous, and humble. Maybe he's hated because he's so direct, and cares about working, not being a metaphorical rockstar?

Anyway, particular nuggets of wisdom I got out of the interview included Crowe asserting what I already know -- it's a director's medium. As Crowe said, "It's his gig. It's her gig. You're just lucky enough to be along for the ride."

What made this particularly remarkable to me is this was Crowe's response as to when do you push your ideas for the character or the scene as an actor, and when do you bow to the director's wishes.

I also found it interesting that he advocated not falling in love with the part, because that can keep you from being objective about the character. Crowe made the argument that you need to be able to show the character's flaws, and if you fall in love with the character, you might not be willing to do that. He did say we should fall in love with the job; the acting.

I'm glad that despite his success and marquee status, Crowe's staying humble.

"Wasting time on a film set is not your privilege," he said. "Being on the film set is your privilege."

Bloody brilliant.

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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Inside the Actors Studio: Sissy Spacek

I watched Inside the Actors Studio: Sissy Spacek, this morning.

I think Spacek (Coal Miner's Daughter, Carrie, Badlands) is an amazingly solid actress (and a native Texan), and though I think she's an attractive woman, she's inspirational in her success as a self-labeled "Hollywood ugly duckling". This gives me hope.

Though I like Spacek, this ItAS wasn't all that engaging.

Could have been me, though ...

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Inside the Actors Studio: Robin Williams

I caught up the Inside the Actors Studio with Robin Williams.

The guy is brilliant and amazing, unstructured but rich in continuity ...

"Legalized insanity", he calls it.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Amazing Race Family Edition

I'm a bit hooked on The Amazing Race reality TV series, and The Amazing Race Family Edition takes the show in a fun new direction.

There are some opportunites to watch some compelling personality dynamics in this kind of highly competitive show anyway, but the whole family dynamic lets me see more facets of each person's personality. As an example, whereas before I might see a guy acting as a competitor and a husband, now I get to see him as a husband and dad, and maybe how he acts differently as a dad of son versus the dad of a daughter; "Dad as Disciplinarian", or "Dad as Encourager"; etc.

I wonder if Phil Keoghan just got this gig because of that eyebrow thing he can do. Not that I begrudge him at all -- more power to him. I also wonder if he gets called a "kiwi", like Russell Crowe. And I wonder if that makes them kindred spirits. And I wonder if I'm rambling ...

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