“Fargo” is here — at last

The world seemed to conspire against there ever being another “Fargo” mini-series.
The first three – spread over four years – drew waves of praise. There were 53 Emmy nominations, a Peabody Award … and lots of Hollywood admirers. “I thought it was easily the best thing on television,” Chris Rock told the Television Critics Association.
But there was a three-year delay, while writer-producer Noah Hawley was busy making “Legion.” He finally started a fourth “Fargo,” to debut this April 19, with Rock (shown here) starring. Actors gushed, critics praised … and then, with three episodes left to shoot, there was the COVID shutdown. Read more…

Daniels towers over his “Comey Rule” role

It’s a problem Jeff Daniels rarely faces – being too short for a role.
But this was a role anyone in Hollywood – well, anyone except Brad Garrett or John Salley – would fall short of. Daniels was playing James Comey, the 6-foot-8 former FBI director.
“I put two-inch lifts in my shoes,” Daniels said, “which got me to 6-foot-5 …. I could act the other three inches.”  (He’s shown here with Comey towering over Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, played by  Holly Hunter, who’s 5-foot-2.)  
That’s part of the towering persona of someone who exudes authority. Comey confirmed that, Daniels said, during the only day he visited the set of “The Comey Rule,” the Showtime mini-series. “He said, ‘You’ve got my posture, the uprightness.’” Read more…

“Gone Girl” author finds a writer’s utopia

Gillian Flynn is now at a blessed stage of her career.
“I can make up anything right now,” she told the Television Critics Association recently. Proof is “Utopia” (shown here) the wildly distinctive series that arrives Friday (Sept. 25) on Amazon Prime.
Earlier, Flynn was confined to non-fiction, including a decade at Entertainment Weekly. Her novels – including the mega-seller “Gone Girl” – were steeped in the hard choices of almost-normal lives.
But underneith those gritty tales was a fantasy writer, waiting to emerge. “My dad raised me on EC Comics and we’d talk about Ray Bradbury,” said Flynn, 49. Read more…

Emmys were fun — in a drearily monotonous way

The Emmy telecast had been on for 73 minutes Sunday, before an American won an award.
The entire first hour on ABC (yes, the American Broadcasting Company) was spent giving prizes to Canadians. “Schitt’s Creek” (shown here) swept all seven of the awards given on-air for comedies – best series, plus four acting awards and ones for directing and writing.
It was a remarkable – and monotonous – stretch for a pleasant little show that is usually ignored. Having finished its run on the obscure PopTV channel, “Schitt’s Creek” is now confined to the CW Seed streaming service. The Emmy voters had ignored it for years … then showered it with those seven on-air wins and two more (costumes and casting) before the telecast.
When all of that finally ended, it was time for the award for the best variety talk series … which went to John Oliver, an Englishman.
Eventually, the Emmys did find some Americans and revert to their traditional state … which involves HBO winning everything. That included Emmys for best: Read more…

“The Choice”: This time, it’s a chasm

For the ninth time, Michael Kirk faced an imposing task:
Create simultaneous profiles of both presidential candidates. Interview everyone (except the candidates); ask everything. Hope there are differences between them.
The result – “Frontline: The Choice” – debuts Tuesday (Sept. 22) on PBS and reruns twice. Compared to Kirk’s eight previous “Choice” films, it was:
– Harder, with the interviews – usually two-hours-plus – done long-distance. “I shoot it remotely, with high-quality cameras,” he told the Televisions Critics Assosciation – in a remote press-conference with a high-quality camera. Interviewees “know we are in it for the long haul.”
– Easier. These two candidates have ample contrasts. “Their lives have been sort of weirdly contradictory,” Kirk said. Read more…

Teen years are tough (and funny) the second time

The first time they were teenagers, Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle  found life was tricky.
“You’re hiding all of the freaky parts of yourself,” Erskine said.
And what’s it like, now that they’re teens again, in Hulu’s “Pen15” series? The more she gets into it, Konkle said, “the more confused I get about who I was.”
In “Pen15,” the actresses (both 33) play 13-year-old versions of themselves. (They’re shown here, with Erskine at the back of the bike.) Read more…

The Emmys could go wrong … maybe in fun ways

Are you wondering what the Emmys telecast will be like Sunday?
So are Reginald Hudlin and Ian Stewart (shown here). And they’re the producers.
“Things are going to go wrong,” Stewart said. “It’s never been done before.”
Emmy ceremonies have been done; this is the 72nd one, most of them on national TV. But the others had most of the nominees in one place, ready to step onstage and gush. Read more…

Drew Barrymore: She’s done it all … and is happy to talk

Heading into her new talk show, Drew Barrymore has one big advantage.
She’s already seen it all, done it all, been it all. And most of that was decades ago.
“I hosted (‘Saturday Night Live’) when I was 7 years old,” she reminded TV critics. Then came the wilder years, when she was “blacklisted at 12. (When) you’re on the cover of the Natonal Enqurier at 13 years old for being institutionalized, there’s not much people can throw your way.”
All of that is deep in the past. Now she’s 45, thrice-divorced, with two young children and a life she once described as “almost a nun.” And she’s ready to talk; she always has been. Read more…

In the midst of shutdown, five actors made at-home movie

For months, actors were simply in limbo.
“People used to say show-business was Depression-proof,” Bette Midler told the Television Critics Association recently. “In the Depression, the movies were the only things that survived.”
Not this time. During the COVID shutdown, writers kept writing and musicians kept recording, but actors mostly stayed at home and waited … except for five of them.
Those were the actors in “Coastal Elites” (shown here with Kaitlyn Dever ), which debuts at 8 and 11:20 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 12) on HBO, rerunning often. Working in social-distanced ways, they did monologues about distanced lives. Read more…

Wonder-ful Elinor sparks new cartoon series

There really is an Elinor, it seems, and she often wonders why.
That’s key to “Elinor Wonders Why,” which has just started. (It’s 10:30 a.m. weekdays on most PBS stations, plus 3:30 and 11:30 p.m. on PBS Kids.) “We wanted the show to be fun for the kids and to engage with them,” said co-creator Daniel Whitson.
So each episode has a little girl/bunny named Elinor discover things about nature. And yes, that girl is a lot like Elinor Cham, daughter of the show’s co-creator. Read more…