Story By: G. H. HARDING
Katy Perry

KEATON’S BIRDMAN --- We caught Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman last weekend, but wanted to thoroughly brainstorm what we saw before putting pen to paper. We loved it and can best describe it as an existential treastie on one’s own work; initially very successful, but, now needing a good kick in the butt.

Michael Keaton plays Riggan Thomson, who enjoyed years of success, essaying a comic-book character Birdman; he did three (like he did in Batman) and passed on a fourth installment.

Now, trying a stage adaption of a Raymond Carver play (!), he’s going through the motions with the play; a daughter he never really got to know; an ex-wife that he still has feelings for; and, a girlfriend in the play, who may or may not be pregnant. Conflicting thoughts indeed.

I’ve always loved Keaton’s work, from Night Shift to Batman to great interviews on the Letterman show … and, this is definitely a career highlight for him.

Inarritu’s script is splendid and the camera work consisting of mostly long, uninterrupted sequences is positively mesmerizing. Also, the way he cuts from one-shot to another, often in a two different times, is amazing; one character will talk about appearing on stage later that night and miraculously, he appears onstage continuing his dialogue.

The movie struggle with one’s own thoughts, memories and hopes for the future and is totally captivating. The narrative isn’t new, but the execution is spot-on brilliant.

Not for everyone, but if you loved Lost In Translation, as did I, this is definitely for you. A gem of this quickly ending year.

Adios Constantine? – And just as we were just writing about it: we've learned the freshman season of NBC drama Constantine will consist of just 13 episodes. The cast and crew of the series were informed on Friday night that the series will halt production.

Constantine will remain in its current 10:00 PM ET Friday time slot for the remainder of its run.

While the network recently made a similar decision on freshmen comedy series Bad Judge and A to Z, I hear the circumstances are different. While Bad Judge and A to Z had been de facto canceled, Constantine remains in strong contention for a second-season renewal.

The show, based on the DC-comic revolves around demon hunter and master of the occult John Constantine. Constantine figured there was no longer any point in fighting the good fight since his soul belongs to the netherworld, but when demons target the daughter of one of his closest friends, Liv, he reluctantly rejoins the battle.

It turns out that Liv has second sight, an ability to see other worlds and predict supernatural occurrences, a power that makes her a threat to the new evil rising from the shadows. She and Constantine take their combined skills on the road, traveling the country to find demons and send them back to hell.

The network had to make a decision whether to keep Constantine in continuous production with little ratings information. While the series began production on a standard fall premiere production schedule, its launch was delayed until late- October when NBC’s Friday genre block usually debuts, so the network had to make a quick call whether to order additional episodes after only four episodes had aired vs. at least seven.

Constantine had not been a breakout hit the way fellow NBC Friday genre drama Grimm was in its debut. But NBC brass were probably encouraged by the freshman’s +38% week-to-week ratings jump for Episode 5 this past Friday, the show’s highest mark since the series debut, and by its best retention of the Grimm lead-in, also since the series debut.

Additionally, Constantine had a strong fan base because of its comic origins and has seen big DVR lifts, most recently rising +81% for Episode 4, regarded by fans as a possible creative turning point in the series.

NBC has been supportive of the show, running a marathon of episodes on cable sibling Syfy this weekend and slating Constantine cast members to appear on the network’s broadcast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade next week.

It is not clear what NBC will air in the Friday 10 PM time period after Constantine’s run is over, though previous slot occupant Hannibal, which has been renewed for a third season, is considered a strong possibility.

Constantine was one of three DC-themed new dramas this fall. The other two,Gotham on Fox and The Flash on the CW, both earning full-season orders.

CLOSING NOTES --- Katy Perry will headline the Super Bowl halftime show in February. Excellent choice …

Looking forward to seeing my friend, horn-man David Sanborn tomorrow night at the Blue Note in NYC …

Paul Simon’s song “America” being used in the new Amex-Small Business Saturday commercials just re-affirms what a great, great track it always has been. Great to hear every time …

Don't know what to make of last night's American Music Awards other than it's good to be young. I think Garth Brooks (and producer Larry Klein) were the oldest-performers there. And, One Direction, named band of the year? I don't think so ...