Eureka! We've found (again) a good show


First, please read my previous blog about the stand-up comedy show coming Sunday. I'm hoping someone shows up and even laughs.

And speaking of humor, "Eureka" is finally back tonight (Monday, April 16). This show leaps between droll humor and straight science-fiction action, but usually works well. Its final season starts now; here's the story I sent to papers:

By MIKE HUGHES

Eureka is sort of like any little town.

It has pleasant people, casual
conversations. It also has occasional shifts in time, space and
reality. Things disappear; robots are polite – one is a deputy
sheriff, another is a house – or menacing.

OK, Eureka isn't exactly like other
towns. It's fictional, in the “Eureka” series, now starting its
fifth and final season on the Syfy Channel; it's filled with
scientists and with things that can go wrong.

Still, the core is hometown life. “I
grew up in a small town in Oregon,” said Jamie Paglia, the
co-creator and producer; he got to sort of re-create that on screen,

Paglia is from Warrenton, a town of
4,500 people, near the state's northwestern tip.”We got our first
traffic light now,” he said. “It used to be a stop sign.”

To capture its mood, the show goes to
Chilliwack. a British Columbia city of 58,000, spiffed up with a few
signs and such. Much of the rest is filmed nearby in Vancouver
studios.

“Eureka” began in the summer of
2006, with U.S. Marshal Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson) returning his
runaway daughter to Los Angeles. His car crashed and he ended up in
this odd place – where the sheriff had fallen into a fiery hole.
Soon, Jack was sheriff of a town filled with science experiments.

This skipped the usual sci-fi touches.
“We were told, 'no space ships, no aliens,'” Ferguson said.

Paglia, with no TV experience, had
chosen just the right time to pitch it to what was then the Sci-Fi
Channel. “They were really seeking Earth-based sci-fi, especially
grounded in humor,” he said.

And “Eureka” has plenty of room for
laughs. Ferguson looks like the standard hero, but he shows a quiet,
Canadian humor and spent time with the Second City Detroit comedy
troupe.

Jack has changed, Ferguson said. “He
was a closed-off father.” So has the town, the show and the Syfy –
which has tried to match the “Eureka” tone, especially with its
hit, “Warehouse 13.”

Still, “Eureka” has never been
huge. It should be starting its seventh season, but with
complications (including the writers' strike), this is only the
fifth.

Last season ended with a space ship –
yes, “Eureka” was finally allowed to have one – disappearing
with people on-board. The opener starts and ends with huge twists;
another cliffhanger was also planned for the year's 13th
and final episode.

Then Syfy – which had announced the
renewal for a sixth season, reversed itself. Paglia begged for one
extra episode, to wrap things up. Syfy said yes – if it could be
done without the expense of a break.

So he broke the news to his people: “I
said, 'The good news is we have a last episode. The bad news is it
(starts preparation) tomorrow.'”

The entire process of writing and
preparing an episode – usually spread over two months, alongside
other episodes – was done in five days, he said. Odd things happen
sometimes in Eureka.

– “Eureka,” 9 p.m. Mondays, Syfy,
rerunning at 11

– Season-opener is April 16; a
marathon of the 11 previous episodes starts at 10 a.m.

– Season-opener also airs at 8 p.m.
April 23, before the second episode

 

It's stand-up time again?


A couple things about my stand-up comedy undertakings:

The bad news: It's been 15 years or so since the last time I did it.

The good: I should have some new material by now.

My last gig (which was also my first) was at the Connxtions Comedy Club in Lansing, part of a fundraiser for some worthy thing or other. Now -- with just a decade or two to rest up -- is a follow-up.

This one will be at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 22, at the Sir Pizza/Grand Cafe in Old Town of Lansing. It will apparently be a contest, with four of us doing 12-minute bits and Strange Bedfellow performing in-between.

I don't know any more about it now, but maybe I'll see you there. I'll be the one on stage, working at being amusing.

 

 

 

Who needs technology?


Right now, an item on my AOL home page says this: "App shows you old, fat and bald."

No thanks, I already have something that does that. It's called a mirror.

Film festival: There's great fun in bathing, sex (or lack thereof) and life after "90210"


The Capital City Film Festival is this weekend in Lansing, Mich. In my previous blog, I pointed to a few favorites and included a schedule; a lot more stories ran in the Lansing State Journal and are at www.lsj.com.

Still, I also wanted to throw in one more. "Bathing & Th Single Girl," being show Saturday noon, is a delight; it's beautifull written, directed and acted -- all by Christine Elise McCarthy, once of "Beverly Hills, 90210." Here's a story about her:

By MIKE HUGHES

Let's say Hollywood has tucked you into
a tight little niche. Hollywood does that a lot,

Now you want to prove you can do more.
The solution is to produce, direct, write and star in a short.

At least, that's what Christine Elise
McCarthy did with “Bathing & The Single Girl,” which will be
shown Saturday (April 14) at the Capital City Film Festival. It helps
that she made an 11-minute gem; so far, it's won awards at 17
festivals, from Hawaii to Alaska.

“It's been really successful in the
South, in the red states,” McCarthy said.

That's a surprise, for a film that's
basically about sex and the lack thereof. “The most conservative
place we showed it was Victoria, Texas,” she said. “It went over
really well there.”

And all of this started, she said, with
a reading in front of 50 people. “A friend dared me to do it ….
Then someone said, 'Oh, you should record it so people will know you
can be funny.'”

No one seemed to know that, because she
had found some fame, as Christine Elise, in drama.

She was 26 when she joined “Beverly
Hills, 90210” as Emily Valentine, complete with motorcycle, leather
jacket and bleached hair. Emily promptly seduced Brandon (Jason
Priestley), spiked his drink, stalked him, set fire to a homecoming
float and was institutionalized.

The romance – briefly revived in two
other seasons – never lasted long on the show, but did in real
life. McCarthy lived with Priestley for six years.

By now, Hollywood had her pegged for
heavy roles. She did a season of “ER” as Harper Tracy, an intern
who had an affair with Carter (Noah Wyle); she was the female lead in
“L.A. Firefighters,” then a guest star on many shows,most of them
dead-serious.

That's when a friend pointed her toward
a Los Angeles nightspot where people would simply read their work.
McCarthy wrote about her futile efforts to get a younger boyfiend
into the bath tub and bed.

She had written before – including
three of those “90210” episodes – but friends were impressed by
the wit and verbal skill. The next step was to film it.

McCarthy hired top pros and dressed as
a 1940s nightclub performer, talking into an old-time microphone. “I
just love that era and dressing that way,” she said.

Alongside that elegance – including a
Bessie Smith tune in the background – is the non-fiction tale of a
Hollywood beauty who unintentionally went five years without sex. “So
many men have seen this as basically a classified ad looking for
someone to end the drought,” she said.

It isn't. The drought has ended, the
film has been in more than 80 festivals; McCarthy, 47, has her life back in order.
Except that so far, no one has really cast her in a comedy. Hollywood
is slow to shed its niches.

– “Bathing & the Single Girl,”
at the Capital City Film Festival

– Part of a package of eight shorts
shown at noon Saturday at the Old Town Temple, 502 E. Grand River
Ave.

– More stories on the festival are at
www.lsj.com; the schedule is
subject to change, so check www.capitalcityfilmfest.com.
For more on McCarthy, see www.bathingandthesinglegirl.com.

Lansing note: It's film festival time


Two things:

1) Yes, I'm upset (and relieved) about the near ouster of Jessica Sanchez on tonight's "American Idol." Please see my previous blog.

2) And now some comments for people in the Lansing, Mich., area:

The Capital City Film Festival continues all weekend, and is well worth catching. You can get details at www.capitalcityfilmfest.com and read stories I wrote about the fest and the filmmakers at www.lsj.com. I'll also put a schedule at the end of this blog.

I've only been able to sample some of the films, but I wanted to point you toward a few that stood out:

-- "Searching For Sonny" is a delight. Andrew Disney wrote a nimble comedy about a guy at the high school's 10-year reunion, then directed it beautifully. He mixed TV people and lesser-knowns, emerging with an easy, breezy film that also surprises. It's at 9 p.m. Friday (April 13) at 2500 S. Washington Ave. in Lansing.

-- There are a couple of films that I haven't seen, but they bear promise: "Detachment" is 7 p.m. Saturday at the Old Town Temple, 502 E. Grand River Ave. "We Need to Talk About Kevin" at 7 p.m. Sunday at 2500 S. Washington.

-- And each shorts package has gems. In particular, I found Christine Elise McCarthy's "Bathing & the Single Girl" (noon Saturday, Old Town Temple) to ripple with witty writing, gorgeous direction and great delivery. Catherine Owens' "Surf Detroit" (noon Saturday, 2500 S. Washington) is beautifully filmed and quietly moving. Lisa Gold's "Death of Toys" (4:30 p.m. Sunday, 2500 S. Washington) starts with an interesting gimmick, then stirs solid, gimmick-free emotions. 

Here is the schedule for what's left. Keep in mind that everything is subject to change, so check
www.capitalcityfilmfest.com:

Music.

– Each is at The Loft. Listed are the
times when doors open; music continues throught the night.

– April 13:Murder By Death
(eight-piece blues-rock band), plus Bars of Gold, The Fencemen,
Flatfoot; 7 p.m., $13

– April 14: William Allen Witmore
(strong singer-songwritr), plus American Opera, Those Willows, Alan
Nathan; 7 p.m.

– April 15: Lights (pop band led by
female vocalist), 7 p.m.

Full-length, scripted movies

– April 13: “Searching For Sonny,”
9 p.m., 2500 S. Washington Ave; plus short, “Cotton County Boys.”

– April 14: “Good Luck, Mr. Gorsky”
and “Horizontal Accidents,” 6:30 p.m., 2500 S. Washington (two
“long-form comedy shorts”).

– April 14: “Detachment” (Drama
from “American History X” director Tony Kaye, with Adrien Broddy
as a substitute teacher), 7 p.m., Old Town Temple.

– April 14: “Bottle Rockets” and
“Rushmore” (double feature of the first films from director Wes
Anderson), 9 p.m., Old Town Temple; free, all other screenings ar $5
each.

– April 15: “Teddy Bear,” 2 p.m.,
2500 S. Washington Ave.

– April 15: “We Need to Talk About
Kevin” (Tilda Swinton drama), 7 p.m., 2500 S. Washington Av.

Full-length documentaries

– April 13: “Man On a Mission,”
6:30 p.m., 2500 S. Washington; plus short, “Little Mom.”

– April 14: “Fake It So Real,”
2:30 p.m., Old Town Temple; plus short, “Street Pillow”

– April 14: “Bath School Disaster”
premiere and “everydayPeople,”5 p.m., 2500 S. Washington.

– April 14: “Boogie Stomp,” 7:30
p.m., 2500 S. Washington.

 

More shorts

– April 14 (at Old Town Temple):
Packages of professional shorts, noon and 5 p.m.

– April 14 (2500 S. Washington Ave.):
Packages of student shorts, noon and 2 p.m.,

– April 15 (2500 S. Washington): At
11 a.m., the top 15 films in the Fortnight Film Contest (each 10
minutes or less), with the announcement of the winners; at 4:30 p.m.,
seven from the American Film Institute's directing workshop for
women.