Ben Affleck

MAD MEN MADNESS – While we were traveling last week, AMC and Lionsgate Studios announced that they had finally resolved their financial issues to move their titular series Mad Men along to another season; which ultimately, will not appear to 2012. Creator Matt Weiner is going to make millions for the next three seasons, which he said would be the final three. Now, I've met Weiner and he’s one rather complicated fellow; another Chuck Lorre-in-a basket if you will. Sure, he’s the creative mainstay for sure; the lead writer; but, a prickly fellow nonetheless. Several seasons back, one of MM’s shows won an Emmy and next day, the co-writer was casually let go. Hey, the TV scene is more volatile than ever before; egos are more fragile than ever; so, nothing ever, really surprises me. Yes, the ground-breaking series made bona fide stars out of Jon Hamm; January Jones; and, John Slattery …but, there are many who say the show’s best years have come and gone. I don't know; the scripts are nothing short of marvelous and the character arcs just amazing. Hamm’s performance in Ben Affleck’s The Town was astonishing, and I’ve become a huge fan. Slattery’s array of ads for Buick are certainly riveting, but his turn in The Adjustment Bureau (wearing the MM-fedora no less) was great too, but not a breakout role. As JJ Abrams demonstrated with LOST; setting a definitive end date for the show to end is not always a bad idea; in fact, it can jettison the show into the next level as the writers realize the end is nigh. Finally, 2012 … really? Seems like a middle finger for the show’s fans … I mean, it’s not even June 2011 yet! Regardless … I'll be watching then!


Lorne Michaels

MORE TV TID BITS – Speaking of TV, we'd be remiss if we didn't update on a few observations we've made in the past several columns: First, back from the jaws of death, Fox’s Fringe has been renewed for another 22 episodes come September. Now, I'm a sci-fan of the first order and this show has positively enthralled me for the past three seasons. This show, from the fertile-mind of JJ Abrams, has this season become somewhat muddled in several alternate-universe episodes, but somehow, they've all seemed to work. Last season they had an episode with the original-Robo Cop, Peter Weller entitled White Tulip that came close to approaching some of the best writing ever I've seen on TV; it was almost pure poetry. This season, they had actor Christopher Lloyd in an EP called Firefly that was nearly as good. It’s quite the brilliant show, acting, writing, production values, but again, sci-fi is a dicey area. Glad for all of them … This past weekend SNL had no less than Elton John as host and musical (!!!) guest. The one thing about Elton that all his intimates will agree on is that he has a devilish sense of humor about him and can certainly take one for the team. The writing was somewhat spotty, but a sketch called Knights of the Realm, where several of the true knighted people in the U.K. (Elton; Richard Branson; Bono; Michael Cain; not Ringo) discussed ways to vanquish a dragon destroying England (don't ask!) was funny … even if Elton blew a rather crucial line in the sketch. And, Tom Hanks’ send-up of actor Caine bordered on the brilliant. I’ve known Hanks for years and didn't even realize he had this talent. Brilliant! Btw: Fred Arminsen’s send up of Ringo Starr was nothing short of stellar; Ringo probably didn’t care for it, but it was spot on. The music numbers were terrific, but I wished they had performed my favorite from the album “I Should Have sent Roses.” It was also interesting to see Elton’s band perform; as they didn't on the original album The Union. Davey Johnstone (Longdancer!!!) and Nigel Olson, with Elton for years were just terrific. Also, what was up with the several muted negatives comments for the Spider Man musical in the Realm and Laser Cats segments? Is Lorne Michaels lobbing a volley? As my colleague Roger Friedman pointed out earlier today, did Elton forget about his own play Lestat (2006), which closed after 6 performances? Ouch! It wasn't the best SNL but, it did have its moment. CBS ’ the Defenders with Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell was one of the great unsung hits of the past TV season to me; they had a great opener and a great closer, and dramatically the shows began to draw more viewers when it moved to Friday’s. The writing was crisp and the acting just stellar. No word yet on their chances for another season; but, I say they should be back.


Stan Lee

STAN THE MAN – I knew Stan Lee would surface, but I didn't realize it'd be with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold is in fact at TV’s MIPTV press conference this morning formally announcing his new animated TV series, a comic book, and 3D feature that will all launch in 2013; all to be titled The Governator. Arnold said that it will start with a 52-episode series that will feature the voice and animated image of the former Governor; a super-hero bent on beating the bad guys and the forces of evil. Last week, Leonard Nimoy, who sort of formally retired last year, even though he appeared in several episodes of Fringe, announced that he'll be featured in the forthcoming Transformers 3 as the voice of one of the evil robots. Gone, but not forgotten!


Jerry Weintraub

MY WAY, HIS WAY -- Tonight's the HBO special on producer Jerry Weintraub called My Way. Don't miss it! Baaed on his terrific book When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead.

South American Frenzy – While we collect our thoughts and photos from last week, we'll just say that we had a thoroughly enjoyable romp way down there and are glad to be back home! More next time.

Photos By: RD/Orchon/Kim/Kabik/Retna