Wednesday, Mar. 1
Errol Morris, the documentary auteur of The Thin Blue Line , A Brief History of Time and, most recently, Mr. Death , says he’s not interested in doing any more long-format documentaries for a while. Instead, he’ll be concentrating on his latest project, a series of half-hour mini-documentaries for Bravo called First Person .
Mr. Morris will present an assortment of passionate weirdos–there’s Saul Kent, a cryonics proponent who hid his mother’s frozen head where cops couldn’t find it, Dr. Clyde Roper, a “squid enthusiast” and Gary Greenberg, pen pal to the Unabomber. Moving along. Oscar stuff. This year Mr. Death didn’t received an Oscar nomination. None of his other films has, either.
“It’s a badge of distinction that I would have the first Holocaust movie not nominated for an Academy Award,” he said.
Any enemies out there?
“I’m starting to think that. When The Thin Blue Line wasn’t nominated, I thought, What are you supposed to do? You get a guy out of prison and you make a movie that’s actually interesting to boot. Ain’t that enough? Well, no. It’s not enough, evidently. Then I made A Brief History of Time , and I thought, O.K., crippled scientist in a wheelchair confronts the universe. If you were ungenerous, you would say this was a craven attempt for an Oscar.”
That Oscar is a fickle chap. Many woo the golden fellow. Few take him home. [BRAVO, 64, 10:30 P.M.]
Thursday, Mar. 2
Kevin Smith, the genius (you just love him) or idiot (his stuff annoys you) director of Dogma and Chasing Amy , is fuming over a snub he claims is coming all the way from tippy-top tiers of Disney. O.K. Here we go.
It seems that last year, the Disney-owned ABC struck a deal with Mr. Smith to produce six episodes of a half-hour animated version of his 1994 slacker comedy, Clerks . The show would be a joint production of the Disney-owned Miramax Television and Disney’s own TV production arm, Touchstone Television. What could go wrong, right? Well, get this: According to Mr. Smith, during the last year, while he and the other producers wrote the show, recorded the voices ( Clerks cast member Jason Mewes did a voice as did–get ready for some celeb names!–Charles Barkley, Gwyneth Paltrow and Alec Baldwin) and sent it off to Korea to be animated, ABC Entertainment Television heads Lloyd Braun and Stu Bloomberg said the show would air in March, in the Wednesday 9:30 P.M. slot, following new episodes of The Drew Carey Show . ABC even ran two promo spots for the show during the Super Bowl. But when the network released the spring schedule last week, ABC had given the 9:30 slot to Spin City ! Clerks had been pushed back until May 31.
Mr. Smith sees this as an effort by the network to bury the show in the wasteland of summer reruns. So he posted a rather impolitic message on his fan Web site, http://www.viewaskew.com, titled, “How we got fucked by ABC. Hard.”
A few highlights: “May 31st pretty much insures the show’s failure, in my book. Essentially, it seems the network doesn’t like the show … Very seldomly does a show launched in the summer get picked up … So let’s all give Disney-owned ABC a big round of applause. I can’t believe we got fucked hard by the mouse twice in the span of a year … this is why I use my television solely as a means to watch DVD’s, videos and porn.” Mr. Smith then compared ABC brass to anal rapists. Even worse, he took a shot at Who Wants to Be a Millionaire , the show that boosted ABC to No. 1 in the ratings.
“It was Eisner and Iger,” Mr. Smith said, referring, of course, to Disney’s chief executive, Michael Eisner, and newly appointed president, Robert Iger. “We showed Stu Bloomberg and Lloyd Brawn, and they seemed to like it, but then the word came down from Eisner and Iger that they didn’t get it and didn’t like it, and suddenly we’re shifted to the summer. Clearly, they’re trying to shit-can the show.”
“That statement is simply not true,” responded Kevin Brockman, a spokesman for ABC. “The decision was made by Stu Bloomberg and Lloyd Braun because it was the best thing for the show and the network. We believe in Clerks and remain committed to the show.”
Miramax television president Billy Campbell said that now, the show’ll get promoted during May sweeps, and the extra time allows for the marketing help of “the Harvey and Bob Weinstein machine” which he said, would probably include an article about Mr. Smith in Miramax’s Talk magazine.
Meanwhile, observers wonder just how the Weinstein brothers feel about their year and a half old television arm, when their first two television shows have hit roadblocks with their ostensibly friendly Disney sibling, ABC. (Miramax’s first foray, Wasteland , tanked last fall).
“Some of that sweet-ass synergy everyone’s always talking about between Disney, ABC and Miramax doesn’t pan out,” Mr. Smith said.
While you’re waiting until May 31, why not watch Who Wants to Be a Millionaire ? [ABC, 7, 9:00 P.M.]
Friday, Mar. 3
Question: Who has the largest cold sore ever recorded on film? Answer: Michelle Pfeiffer in The Witches of Eastwick . [COM, 45, 8 P.M.]
Saturday, Mar. 4
The days when entertainment trade paper Variety managed to report on the daily deals of show business without actually leaping into the fray themselves appear to be winding down.
Variety ‘s New York-based national correspondent Dan Cox told NYTV that he is shopping an entertainment-themed news magazine–”a 60 Minutes about entertainment,” as he calls it–to the brass at various cable channels around town. And Mr. Cox is no rogue deal maker–he’s doing it with the full blessing of Variety ‘s editor in chief Peter Bart and publisher Gerry Byrne.
The whole idea started in the summer of 1997, when Mr. Cox wrote a highly publicized story about contract perks on film sets–how, say, a Sylvester Stallone may get a flat salary of $20 million for a movie, but how his agent will negotiate for $4 million in trailer Jacuzzis and avocado masks, that sort of thing. The article made a splash, and soon Mr. Cox was being booked on various talk shows.
Mr. Cox went on the Fox News Channel’s O’Reilly Report –hosted by Bill O’Reilly–to talk about his story. Mr. Cox, who started his career at Reuters news service before going to Variety in 1993, wasn’t impressed by how Fox–and Mr. O’Reilly in particular–were covering entertainment. “I sat there and said to myself, this is the dumbest interview I have ever sat through. It was so stupid!” Mr. Cox said. “It was a good indication of where the interview would go that the woman who went on before me was the Snapple lady. It was the dumbest show! I almost walked out.”
Mr. Cox decided he wanted to create an entertainment TV news magazine–a smart one.
After a trying to sell the idea once, leaving journalism completely and returning again last May, Mr. Cox, with the blessing of Variety , gathered his team, which included veteran news producer Janet Tobias, and veteran broadcaster Forrest Sawyer.
Just think of the possibilities! Mr. Cox wants to do an eight to 10-minute Firing Line segment on every show, where showbiz execs field questions from reporters. He’d like to do a one hour show every month, just like HBO’s Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel. And think of all those guests who depend on good press from Variety the show will attract!
“We’d bring in high-profile people. That’s one of the advantages of having Variety behind this thing,” Mr. Cox said. “If we need to get Michael Eisner on the seat, we can get him there.”
Mr. Cox said that he expected that Mr. Bart would be serve as a sort of Andy Rooney presence, delivering cranky little essays at the end of each show Tonight catch Mr. Cox’s inspiration, that damn O’Reilly Factor , formerly The O’Reilly Report . [FNC, 46, 8 P.M.]
Sunday, Mar. 5
“Women. Love. Women.” Vanessa Redgrave. Chloë Sevigny. Michelle Williams. Ellen DeGeneres. Sharon Stone. If These Walls Could Talk 2 . Settle in for some serious viewing. Very important subject matter handled in a very appropriate fashion. [HBO, 32, 9 P.M.]
Monday, Mar. 6
VH1 unveils The Daily One , a news show for grownups who want to stay in touch with pop music. [VH1, 19, 8 A.M.]
Tuesday, Mar. 7
Charlie Rose, how do you do it? All your guests have to do is hear that caramel voice, that Atticus Finch patter, and before you know it, they’re on national television revealing their darkest secrets. That’s what audiences observed when they tuned into 60 Minutes II on Feb. 22. On that show, Mr. Rose did a segment on Carlos Santana’s stellar comeback year, just a night before Mr. Santana won eight Grammies for his album, Supernatural . There was interview footage of Mr. Santana getting cosmic-tongued and talking about how “sound immediately rearranges the molecular structure of the listener,” and clips of him playing guitar on tour, and then, and then … He started talking to Mr. Rose about the things he’d learned in therapy. “I was thinking wrong, like a victim,” Mr. Santana said. “You know, the issues of being child molested, you know, were–surfacing.”
“What do you mean?” Mr. Rose asked.
“Well, you know, when you’re a child, you know,” Mr. Santana began, “Some people are blessed and some people are blessed but, you know, they also go through this experience of child molestation.”
It was a wrenching–a slightly icky–television moment that looked unscripted, unplanned.
“He had told John Hamlin, my producer, that there was something personal he wanted to talk about, and I didn’t know exactly what it was,” Mr. Rose explained to NYTV. “I did not know the specifics of it at all. I was sort of exploring as you could tell in the interview. I had no idea when it took place. I had no idea whether this was something that took place one time, many times, or over a period of years.”
It turned out that the molestation took place many times from 1957 to 1959. But the question remains, how does Mr. Rose make his guests–even Puffy!–feel like spilling their guts? Does he get them liquored up in the green room? “No. Uh-uh,” Mr. Rose said. “First of all, we tape in the morning. Hunter Thompson is a friend of mine. He requested I have Chivas in the room, to which I said, ‘No, I’m not buying you any liquor.'”
So what’s the trick?
“I don’t have any techniques,” Mr. Rose said. “I don’t lower my voice, raise my voice. One thing is that I don’t look down. If you ever see a wide shot you can see that I maintain eye contact throughout the interview. But I don’t think that’s technique. It’s just the way I talk to people.”
See his eponymous show, Charlie Rose , tonight. [WNYW, 13, 11 P.M.]