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April 23, 2014

Posts in "Television"

February 19, 2014

‘House of Cards’ — Inspiration for the Politically Oppressed

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Kevin Spacey, the man behind Frank Underwood. (GC Images via Getty Images)

We might be reaching the stage of development where everything can be viewed through the “House of Cards” prism. The second season of the Netflix original series, which was released on Feb. 14 and has set forth a torrent of status tweets and cultural piggy-backing, even provides an illustration of the Republican establishment’s attempt to marginalize the tea party.

That’s according to FreedomWorks Outreach Director Deneen Borelli, who writes on her blog: “Just like the fictional character Frank Underwood, elected officials from either political party will intimidate and threaten those that dare oppose them. In fact, FreedomWorks – a Tea Party affiliated group and the organization that I work for – is being targeted for daring to challenge the Republican establishment.” Full story

By Jason Dick Posted at 5:29 p.m.
Television

January 30, 2014

WaPo’s ‘Cap’N Tugg’ Obit Is a Peek Into Weird DC

The Washington Post’s obituary of Lee Reynolds, a local actor who starred in a children’s television show “Cap’N Tugg,” is a great snapshot of a District of Columbia not defined entirely by politics.

Cap’n Tugg was a sort of live version of Popeye, except Cap’n Tugg piloted the treacherous waters of the Potomac River in his tugboat. Oh, and Reynolds played all the other parts of the low-budget show, including a parrot called Fantail and Tugg’s arch nemesis, Capt. Flash Flood.

Too cool.

By Jason Dick Posted at 12:59 p.m.
Television

January 8, 2014

House of Cards — Just in Time for Valentine’s Day

“Democracy is so overrated.”

So says the grinning smugness that is Kevin Spacey’s Rep. Francis Underwood in the recently released trailer for season two of the house show for Washingtonians, the Netflix original series, “House of Cards.”

Just to check off all the boxes for the noir-minded, there is rain, a substance resembling anthrax, red meat, a little blood, dark corners in the Metro, some girl-on-girl action, a bete noire and lots and lots of threats delivered in an even tone of voice.

Good times!

Netflix releases season two on Feb. 14, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

December 9, 2013

What to Watch: The Lists for the AFI Awards 2013

Wondering how to spend precious cinema/television/couch potato time? The American Film Institute is there for you, having announced its official selections of AFI Awards 2013, the 10 movies and 10 television programs it thinks everyone should check out.

For Washington viewers, the television list shows a significant interest in capital doings, with four of the 10 taking place, fictionally at least, in D.C.: “The Americans,” “House of Cards,” “Scandal” and “Veep.”

The movie list doesn’t have a Washington flick per se, although it’s certainly one that contains its fair share of issues of interest to the political set, particularly “12 Years a Slave,” “Captain Phillips” “Fruitvale Station” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Here are the lists: Full story

November 13, 2013

‘Anchorman: The Exhibit’ Sweeps the Newseum Into Planet 1970s

The Newseum became a little bit more of a big deal on Wednesday as “Anchorman: The Exhibit” was unveiled.

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TV crews roll tape during the media walk-through of the “Anchorman: The Exhibit” at the Newseum on Tuesday. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

The exhibit — created in partnership with Paramount Pictures, which is releasing “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” on Dec. 20 — brings together some of the more iconic artifacts from the 2004 Will Ferrell comedy “Anchorman,” including the Channel 4 news desk, Sex Panther Cologne and Ron Burgundy’s burgundy suit.

“Maybe our ruby slippers are Ron Burgundy’s signature suit,” Carrie Christoffersen, the Newseum’s director of collections, said at Wednesday’s press walk-through. Full story

October 22, 2013

Jeff Greenfield’s Big Day

Political journalist Jeff Greenfield gets a nice one-two punch for his most recent creative ventures today, with the release of his book “If Kennedy Lived: The First and Second Terms of President John F. Kennedy: An Alternate History” and the world premiere of “What If …? Armageddon 1962″ on the Military Channel.

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President John F. Kennedy, left, Speaker Sam Rayburn, center and Vice President Lyndon Johnson in 1961. (CQ Roll Call File Photo.)

“In the case of John Kennedy, there were so many possible turning points that would have ended either his life or his political life before Dallas,” Greenfield said, ticking off the multiple times JFK almost bought it, whether by scarlet fever as a youth or his near miss in World War II in the Solomon Islands.

Heck, “maybe [Richard Nixon] has a better make-up man” during the 1960 presidential debates, Greenfield said. That sentiment of “what if?” infuses both the new book and the documentary, which is based on a chapter from Greenfield’s previous book of alternate history, “Then Everything Changed.” Full story

September 23, 2013

Ellen Burstyn’s ‘Political Animals’ Role Was Unheralded at First

Congrats to Ellen Burstyn, who won an Emmy award on Sunday night for her role as Margaret Barrish in the mini-series “Political Animals.”

Too bad the publicity folks at USA Network didn’t think enough of her when they were flogging the show to even put her visage on their “Political Animals” animal crackers PR swag that went out to untold hacks last year.

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Publicity materials for “Political Animals” didn’t feature Burstyn, who won an Emmy on Sunday night for her role on the show. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

From left to right on the munchie box were James Wolk, Sebastian Stan, Sigourney Weaver, Carla Gugino and Ciaran Hinds. Burstyn’s Emmy was the only one the show earned.

September 10, 2013

‘Homeland’ Premiere Comes to D.C. in Perilous Times

Questions about the accuracy of intelligence, possible terrorist strikes, revenge, antagonistic congressional oversight, sending a message to our enemies. Wait. Are we talking about the Syria situation, drone killings and the upcoming 9/11 anniversary or Monday night’s premiere of Season 3 of “Homeland” at the Corcoran Gallery of Art?

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Let them eat “Homeland!” (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

It was tough to tell, as Showtime’s touchstone show is so good at capturing the special kind of tension and paranoia that fills debate on U.S. foreign policy, intelligence, defense and the like. And bipartisan love for the winner of the the 2012 Outstanding Drama Series was on display Monday night. Gen. Michael Hayden, the CIA director under former President George W. Bush mingled with series star Claire Danes. MSNBC host Alex Wagner shot the breeze with co-star Mandy Patinkin. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., snapped pix of Damian Lewis, the fictional Congressman/maybe traitor Nicholas Brody.

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Gingrey, left, was a shutterbug for series star Lewis. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

“The show tries hard to get the culture of D.C. right,” David Nevins, president of entertainment, Showtime Networks, told the crowd before rolling the premiere. He added that the creative team had spent a good deal of the day at the CIA and had an “amazing” time there. Given how much damage the writers have inflicted on Langley on the show, it must have made for interesting conversation.

As for Season 3? Suffice to say that, after the screen went dark when the episode was over, with Patinkin’s now-acting CIA Director Saul Berenson testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, there was a stunned silence, followed by one lone person saying, “Shhheewww.”

The premiere on Showtime is set for Sept. 29.

July 22, 2013

‘Crime Story’ — Television That’s a Worthy Memorial for Dennis Farina

Actor Dennis Farina, the former Chicago cop who rose to fame as an actor in movies such as “Thief” and “Midnight Run” and television shows such as “Law and Order” died Monday.

A fitting tribute for anyone up for a little DVD/streaming digging would be to check out Farina’s star turn in the Michael Mann-produced television series “Crime Story,” a criminally under-watched show from 1986-1988 that was an amazingly hard-edged, well-acted, crazy-good noir set in 1960s Chicago and Las Vegas.

The show’s verisimilitude was aided not just by Farina’s background as a police officer, but by the fact that one of the actors who played a key mafia henchman, John Santucci, was a hood that Farina used to bust!

Anyway, they don’t really make them like Farina anymore. Watch “Crime Story” to see what a talent he was.

May 20, 2013

Yes, ‘Mad Men’ Was Freaking Out

It wasn’t your imagination: Sunday night’s episode of “Mad Men,” aptly titled “The Crash,” was pretty freaking weird.

It seems like other people have noticed that, once the team at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (slash Cutler Gleason and Chaough, whew!) injected some Hunter S. Thompson-esque doctor’s stimulant serum to help them power through a weekend on the Chevy account, things got hinky.

The Atlantic’s roundtable recap starts off with “This is your ad agency. This is your ad agency on drugs.” TIME’s Jesse Dorris echoed that and said, “I’ll now drop trou and prepare for Dr. Hecht’s next injection. They make me feel like Peggy felt when Stan complimented her ass: alive.”

Was it when Stan got impaled during a game of William Tell? When “Grandma Ida” terrorized the Draper children? When Ken cane-stepped? When Stan and Cutler raced around the office?

Who knows. This season is set in 1968, the year things started really going sideways in the United States. Maybe the show is just reflecting that sense of WTF.

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