Tiffany Vogt

Posts Tagged ‘Starz’

TCA 2014: Embracing the Sex and Violence of Starz’s BLACK SAILS

In * By Tiffany Vogt, * TCA, * TV Addict, Black Sails on January 25, 2014 at 12:00 pm
"Black Sails"

“Black Sails”

While first previewed at last summer’s San Diego Comic-Con, it was not until the recent Television Critic’s Association Winter Press Tour that Starz fully introduced its new pirate drama BLACK SAILS. Interestingly, based on the fans reaction at Comic-Con alone, a second season was ordered even before the first season debuted on television. So, finally, this Saturday, Starz will premiere BLACK SAILS for the entire world to see.

Helmed by likes of Michael Bay (perhaps best known for his blockbuster films such as TRANSFORMERS), Brad Fuller (THE PURGE), Jonathan Steinberg (HUMAN TARGET), BLACK SAILS has the pedigree required for a truly blockbuster pirate television series.

As described by Starz’s Managing Director Carmi Zlotnik at the TCA Winter Tour, “when Michael Bay and John Steinberg came in and talked to us about this story and this idea about taking Treasure Island, a well-beloved book and telling the prequel to it and somehow combining fictional characters with real historic characters, we were captivated by the idea. . . There are real pirates, based on actual people: Jack Rackam, Charles Vane, Anne Bonny. . . And Flint and Long John Silver are characters from Treasure Island.” Creator and executive producer Jonathan Steinberg further added, “in trying to figure out how do you have a character that’s familiar enough that people are going to care, but malleable enough and open enough that we’re not stuck in a biography – Flint and Silver was the way to get at it.”

It was the mix of reality combined with heightened fiction that seemed to attract them the most. They would be able to delve deep into modern pirate mythology by tapping into both real and fantasy pirate figures; and with so much rich material to draw from, it was like every young boy’s pirates dream.

So with larger-than-life pirates and the entire open seas at their beck and call, they put together the world of BLACK SAILS, starting with their heroes and anti-heroes. Carmi Zlotnick said that BLACK SAILS was intended to “find a place that felt historically realistic and that captured a moment in time when people who had been authorized by the British Crown to act as privateers and loot on the open ocean on behalf of the British Crown, all of a sudden became criminals.”

For star Toby Stephens, who plays Captain Flint, that meant, “The buccaneering kind of thing was sort of tacitly, “yeah, go ahead, interfere with Spanish-French trade – they are our enemy. We’ll turn a blind-eye to it. In fact, they encouraged it.” It was, as he said, “the golden age of piracy.” He also described his character Captain Flint as “very enigmatic, and a kind of serious guy.” But that’s a polite way to describe one of the most ruthless pirates in classic fiction. Co-star Zach McGowan, who plays Captain Vane, was more candid as he added, “What’s great about what Robert [Levine] and John [Steinberg] and everyone has done is that there is a level of brutality and cruelty and violence . . . and that is what is needed to actually survived the day and make it.”

Executive producer Jonathan Steinberg explained, “The show needed to feel real. It needed to feel like a world where the absence of government, the absence of any kind of authority had meaning . . . that means violence. So when things get violent, we wanted to make it feel shocking. We wanted to make it feel sudden. We wanted to make it feel the way violence feels in real life.” So they stocked their series full of cutthroat rogues and villains and are made sure that each has a personal stake in the pirates’ bounty sought by Flint.

Jonathan said, “No one has dug into this world, deep into the bedrock of it, into the reality of what it was like to wake up in the morning and know that this is your life; that if you were going to survive, if you were going to eat, you needed to take it from somebody in this environment.”

Yet in addition to the hardened men capable of doing anything to achieve their goals, BLACK SAILS is also populated by an array of women just as self-serving, conniving and desperate to get exactly what they want too. Power and greed is not reserved just for the male species – women want in on the game too. Executive producer Jonathan Steinberg described them as, “beyond just stock wenches and the occasional cross-dressing pirate, there were women in this world and they have very specific challenges and very specific expectations . . . it’s a frontier story about necessity, day-to-day survival, breaking down social convention. I think through both Eleanor (Hannah New) and Max (Jessica Parker Kennedy) and through Anne Bonny (Clara Paget), we wanted to explore three very different women and how they dealt with that – how they dealt with expectations that either they were living under or that they were in the process of shedding and figuring out a way to exist in a world that men ran, but in which they had something to contribute.”

Due to the bisexual nature of the relationships that her character Eleanor pursues, co-star Hannah New admitted while that there were some sexual complexities to her character, for her, “It’s a world where sexuality and boundaries have been completely broken down, so to play a young woman who doesn’t have those kind of social restrictions put on her, who is free to use her sexuality, in whichever way is advantageous to her is fabulous and a great opportunity as an actress.”

Besides Captains Flint and Vane, and the lusty women of New Providence Island, the other central character to the story is John Silver (Luke Arnold). In fact, much of BLACK SAILS is seen through the eyes of the wayward sailor who has a tendency to exaggerate his value to all interested parties. Yet as luck would have it, John Silver does have one piece of valuable information that could lead everyone to a fortune beyond their wildest imagings. Now if only everyone could work peacefully together, there might be enough to share; but as anyone who knows the heart of a pirate knows, sharing is for the weak and only the strongest, cleverest and most diabolical pirate will win.

BLACK SAILS is unabashedly about hard-core pirates. It offers generous amounts of blood, guts and gore, scantily clad women (if not outright nudity) throughout the series. Sex and violence were the tools of trade for pirates and BLACK SAILS embraces every aspect of it. But what makes BLACK SAILS addictive and fun is its humor and heart. It knows that a television show is only as good as its characters and they have to have a little fun or it is not worth their dangerous adventure. So look to fall under its spell because it does not take itself too seriously.

To see where this bawdy pirates tale goes, be sure to tune in for its premiere on Saturday, January 25th at 9:00 p.m. on Starz.

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"Black Sails"

“Black Sails”

"Black Sails"

“Black Sails”

"Black Sails"

“Black Sails”

"Black Sails"

“Black Sails”


HOLLYWOOD ACTING STUDIO: Star Daniel Vincent Gordh Previews His New Outrageous Comedy Web Series

In * By Tiffany Vogt, * Interviews, * TV Addict on November 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm

In the modern world of digital media, cable television is jumping at the opportunity to launch new webseries on the internet in order to capture a piece of the shifting entertainment landscape. With Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and YouTube becoming the new kings of digital entertainment, cable and broadcast networks are looking to expand and create original content for the internet. Making a bold move in launching a series of new comedy shows strictly for the internet, Starz established its online presence with Union Pool — a YouTube channel for those in search of comedy entertainment.

One of the shows that Starz’s Union Pool channel features is HOLLYWOOD ACTING STUDIO. With just a few episodes posted, the outrageous webseries has quickly carved out a place in the comedy realm. Fortunately, additional episodes release every three weeks on Tuesdays and Thursdays extending through next March 2014 in order to satiate the growing appetite for the misadventures of Professor Lafrange — a role delightfully and deliciously portrayed by comedian Drew Droege.

HOLLYWOOD ACTING STUDIO is a fictional look at what life inside an acting class is like if the teacher was a misguided narcissist who hilariously teaches all the wrong lessons to his patient and enduring class of students. Peeling back the curtain on Hollywood has never been more hilarious. Each episode explores what a typical struggling actor has to deal with each day in Hollywood: the audition, working as a background actor, filming sex scenes, working with child actors, typecasting, and more. The show also subtly pokes at a few popular film franchises and the cinematic tropes they exploit.

But, interestingly, HOLLYWOOD ACTING STUDIO has another twist: it is not just a comedy series filled with sketches; it is an exploration of the characters who try to rise above their varied learning-curves to prove that they can one day be an actor worthy of attention and respect. So there’s an element of heart that begins to show as the students struggle to attain the elusive skills needed to refine their craft and become genuine actors. Throughout the course of the first season, Professor Lafrange’s legacy shall either be set in stone, one bad acting lesson at a time, or his students will find a way to learn to be laud-worthy actors in spite of his crazy acting classes.

But the real genius of HOLLYWOOD ACTING STUDIO: it showcases a group of talented actors as fumbling, struggling students — and the sense that they are having fun shines through in every scene.

In an exclusive interview, star and co-executive producer Daniel Vincent Gordh (LIZZIE BENNET DIARIES) talked about the genesis of this fine comedy series and how it will showcase all the pitfalls of acting classes taught by self-obsessed performers.

How were you approached to be a part of this project?
DANIEL: HOLLYWOOD ACTING STUDIO came about because me, my brother, and Kevin Best (who is the creator and writer) make up the Natural Disastronauts, which is my sketch troupe/production company, and one of our friends worked over at Starz in its scripted department, Starz Digital (which is headed by David Katz and Ryan Heller), wanted to launch Starz’s inaugural web series. So they were in the process of putting together a new comedy channel, which is now called Union Pool, and they have a show called HOW IT SHOULD HAVE ENDED, which has 2.5 million subscribers and is one of the most viewed web shows out there. It plays on popular movies and how those movies should have ended. So they wanted to do something in the same vein where they were looking at popular movie franchises, either parodying them or playing on them in some way. So our friend got us in contact with the guys at Starz Digital and they reached out to us. They were like, “Hey, we’re looking for shows kind of like this. Can you send us some of your stuff?” We had been doing sketch comedy for years and we sent over some of our sketches that we have done for Cracked and they loved them. So they invited us to pitch them some ideas. They wanted series that one could pick up in the middle of the show and not have to watch the entire series to get what is going on. So Kevin put together a bunch of pitches for them, and one of them is what ended up being HOLLYWOOD ACTING STUDIO, and they said, “We want to do this one.” And suddenly we were doing a new show. With my sketch comedy, I’m sometimes writing and sometimes I’m producing, and a lot of times I’m acting. But for this series, Kevin wrote and we all kind of produced together. We decided, “why don’t we take this on as a team and produce the show?” It ended up being really fun for me as I got to produce and get people involved — like Myra Turley, playing Drew’s mother — and also be in the show.

What made you want to be behind-the-camera and in-front-of-the camera for this project?
DANIEL: I really like being on the behind-the-camera side of things because I’m very story-driven in my approach to any work I’m doing; and the fact that we had this opportunity to create the show — because I’m also a writer — and the opportunity to work with my brother, who is my closest friend, and Kevin, who is also one of my closest friends. Also, partially because we needed me to because there was a lot to do and not a ton of us to do it. So I encouraged them. I was like, “You guys, I would really like to be involved in producing this.” One of the main things is I just love collaborating with those guys. I love working with my brother on projects. It’s kind of one of the reasons I got into this business, it’s because my brother is a filmmaker. He’s a director and editor. And I just love working with him. It was really fun to get to work with him on this. Plus, you get to be creative as a producer in ways that you don’t get to be as an actor. When you’re producing, you have all kinds of odds and ends that are affecting the storytelling in a completely different way than when you’re acting.

It seems like it would be exhausting to do both, to be memorizing lines, acting in the scenes and then producing on the side.
DANIEL: Yeah, but one thing we did is we had some time in development even before the scripts were set. So a lot of my producing work was before filming began. Like I got the actors involved. In fact, I got Drew Droege involved. So when we were imagining what this project would eventually be, we all got to imagine it together and kind of start putting those pieces together well before my work as an actor even started. Then on set, I tried my best (and I couldn’t totally do it), but I tried to put on only my actor hat so that once I was on set I was just an actor. There were still little things that I had to do while on set, but mostly I got to be just an actor while on set. That was something my brother insisted on too. He did not want me worrying about anything but acting while I was on set. But, also, it was exhausting. It was totally exhausting.

Did you work on crafting the character of Thomas or was that an already created character by the time you stepped into it?
DANIEL: The way Thomas came about is we have a really funny group of friends, who we’ve worked with for a long time, and when Kevin was developing this show — you’ll notice in the show that a lot of the characters have the same name as the actor who portrays them, including Kevin — a lot of those people were people that we just thought were so funny and they are people we’ve worked with. So he wrote in a lot of people. But as we were developing it and working on it, Kevin asked me, “What do you want to do on this show? I want you to be in this show. I want you to bring something to this class. Why don’t you kind of create this character?” So it was fairly left open to me what I really wanted this character to be. Kevin had originally called the character Daniel, and I wanted to change that. I didn’t want to be playing a version of myself. I wanted to create a character for this. Somehow the British accent just came to me. I thought, “What if he was the one person who is untouchable in this class?” I wanted to bring a bit more dynamicness to what was going on in the class. This teacher is so insecure and so nasty to everyone, so I thought, “What if there was one person in this class who is fooling him? We learn a lot about Professor Lafrange by who he thinks is bad; but we’ll also learn a lot about him by who he thinks is good. So what if Thomas comes in and basically just by virtue of having a British accent, suddenly Lafrange thinks he’s brilliant?” We learn a lot about what a hack Lafrange is because he buys into all these conventions of Hollywood movies, like the second someone has a British accent, he thinks they deserve an Academy Award. So I just wanted to bring another dimension to the show where instead of Lafrange just beating everyone down, there’s one character who is secretly kind of manipulating the whole thing. And that’s kind of how that character, Thomas, came about.

There feels like a flavor of James Bond-ness to the character of Thomas. It just comes across that way sometimes. Was that intentional?
DANIEL: (Laughs) That is something I originally thought a little bit about. I wanted him to come into this class, secretly pulling all the strings, and kind of stealthily being in control of the entire situation without him ever having to play all his cards — which is a James Bond kind of thing. Funny enough, also recently did a photoshoot with a James Bond-esque pose where I am holding an old school Nintendo duck-hunt gun. The shoot was with a really amazing photographer Ricky Middlesworth. So I am very excited to release that on the world. It is really something.

You mentioned that HOLLYWOOD ACTING STUDIO was based on the idea of being a parody of modern film, and there are a lot of references to modern films in the comedy sketches. Was it meant to be more of an homage or just learning mechanisms within the sketches?
DANIEL: The way we wanted to do it was it parodies it a certain amount. I think it more plays on the conventions of blockbuster cinema, rather than really necessarily trying to parody a movie as a whole. It just tries to point out the absurdity of certain cinematic conventions. It also shows the absurdity of someone like Professor Lafrange who buys into them entirely. That’s more of what we wanted to do. Eventually, we were like, “What if pretty much every episode we take a modern movie — and there are a couple episodes where we do not take a specific movie — but pretty much every episode we take a specific movie and we have the teacher give an acting lesson about something specific based on that movie?” So each episode has a couple things that we’re trying to point out the absurdity and play on. Like background acting. Episode two is about background acting. So we show Professor Lafrange trying to make it seem glamorous to be a background actor. Like, he’s saying, “Congratulations! You’re the extras. Welcome to Hollywood.” It’s also trying to show the gross other side to Hollywood. And his lessons are so backwards. Drew is just brilliant as Professor Lafrange.

This series feels like it has an over-arching theme and it is a bit of a satire at times, but maybe that is reading too much into it and you’re going for more straight comedy.
DANIEL: I think it’s a combination. We’re doing a lot of referential stuff. So we’re satire-ing certain moments of films. We don’t really get into the details of those movies that much. You don’t see us talking about specific things that happen in the movies and trying to make fun of them or anything like that. We’re more using those as the backdrop for the absurdity of the class. I think the most interesting thing about the show is the weird relationships that happen in the class, especially the dynamic between the professor and all of the students. I think if anything the thing that the show is most poking fun at and is most satirizing is acting classes — acting classes in Hollywood and the people who are really trying to make it. Like so many of us actors have been one way or another accidentally in a class disturbingly like this — where the teacher isn’t really trying to teach anyone anything, as much as they are trying to build their own ego. In a lot of the ways we’re taking those conventions from modern films is to show how ridiculous the teacher is. The show is really focused on Professor Lafrange and his over puffed-up sense of self. His absurd ego and things like that.

Professor Lafrange is certainly the focus of the show, but at the same time through each episode one starts to get more and more invested in the characters in the class. Did you find as you’ve been working on the show that one or more of the class characters began to stand out and you wanted to feature more on the show?
DANIEL: Each episode tends to focus on someone’s story a little bit more and have one person in the class who is a little bit more featured. But the first couple episodes is where we get to meet everyone. Then as it goes on, we found as producers and as Kevin was writing it (since he was writing it as we filmed it), we found in certain episodes that we just wanted to focus on someone a little bit more. There’s episodes to come that will focus on characters that we haven’t gotten to focus on yet. There was so much improv on set that all the actors really started to bring stuff to the characters naturally, and we found something interesting about everyone. By the end of the show, we had fairly featured episodes on every character because we found interesting things about the characters. It was like, “This is good episode to feature Brittany.” Like the sex scene episode, it wasn’t actually written to be focused on Brittany. Sarah’s [Scott] such a great actress and she’s nothing like this character in real life, but she brought this sexuality to the character from the beginning; and we always wanted some of that, but it was so overwhelming. So we thought, “Wouldn’t it be funny in the sex scene episode that the person who has been bringing the sexuality to everything that she’s doing, completely inappropriately, is now left out of all sex scene exercises?” Then another character that surprised us was Debbie. She’s one of my favorite characters. She’s brilliantly played by Karen Furno. She portrays someone who is middle aged, that is completely there to learn, but is constantly being put down by the teacher. There’s a lot of good moments coming up with her where she’s going to surprise everyone.

You had mentioned there was some improv. How much of what we see on the screen is scripted versus improv scenes?
DANIEL: The writing style was such that Kevin would write an episode, but there was a lot of freedom for the actors to create the character themselves and for them to surprise us on set rather than in writing. As we went on, Kevin left the episodes general so that actors who were starting to know their characters could flesh them out on their own. And it was just some of the most fun I’ve ever had.

Where is the show going? How many episodes will there be for the first season? Will there be a second season? What’s kind of the game plan?
DANIEL: We have the first season, which is releasing through March. So we have a good amount of time. We have a total of 12 full episodes. The way it is happening is we have 12 full main episodes, then we have 12 bonus episodes — and the bonus episodes are either after-class episodes, like there was one with Thomas and Professor Lafrange, or the Q&A episode. Those are just kind of bonus episodes where we get to see what’s happening after class or a little different from the main episodes. Then some of the bonus episodes are deleted scenes and bloopers, which we call cutting-room-floor episodes. The show is releasing through March, so we do not know yet if there would be a second season. I know I would die to make one. It was just so much fun to make.

The episodes do feel like stand-alone comedy sketches, but is there an endgame or an endpoint that the first season is aiming for with the characters? It seems like the characters learn a little bit in each episode and they would progress to a certain level.
DANIEL: We started off with the show thinking that every episode was going to be a little stand-alone. You watch it and you see whatever funny madness happens during that episode and then it’s over. But as we were filming it, we started to surprise ourselves and the actors started to surprise us. The show is not completely narrative, obviously, in that there’s not big plot points, but we kind of naturally started to see arcs for the characters. So you will notice that there are certain changes in the dynamics between people. And despite all of the horrible, nasty things Lafrange says to people, some do have successes. So the first season, while we started off not pursing arcs, there is movement. There is an arc that happens in the show, which is one of the most satisfying things about it.

Have you gotten any feedback from the fans or people discovering the show?
DANIEL: Yes, we have! It’s funny Drew was just in Norway for a film festival, and when he got there, there were a bunch of people who had already seen the show. It’s interesting building a new show because, obviously, I’ve done a lot of web series and they all have different kind of life cycles. CRACKED has its own specific audience, and LIZZIE BENNET DIARIES was something I jumped on after it already had a large following (though it grew to a size I never anticipated), so starting a new show is interesting. I have fans who followed me to start watching this. It’s such a different show than LIZZIE BENNET DIARIES, but I’m so pleased when fans from that come over to watch. Not everyone who likes LIZZIE BENNET DIARIES is going to like HOLLYWOOD ACTING STUDIO because they are like apples and oranges. But I’ve been surprised by the crossover fans who have come and said, “I actually love this.” Then Drew has his fans from his work on his Chloe videos, which I think are brilliant. So Drew has fans of his comedy that have crossed over. So we had certain people who came for us, but we have also been surprised by a lot of new fans who have been discovering it and loving it too. The show is building its fan base and it’s always exciting for a project that starts in your head and then we’re able to shoot it and then people are watching it. It’s always a surreal process — the process of creation and then sharing it. It’s beautiful. And it’s been really fun to watch it grow.

To see all the misadventures of HOLLYWOOD ACTING STUDIO, be sure to catch new episodes Tuesdays and Thursdays as they post on Starz’s Union Pool channel at Each runs 5-8 minutes in length and guarantees to make you quirk a smile and laugh. (As a fun side-note, last week’s episode of HOLLYWOOD ACTING STUDIO was the featured video of the day at Nerdist, “The Most Intentionally Funny Video of The Day 11/21/13: Hollywood Acting Studio: How to Film A Sex Scene” In case you have not seen it, the episode is totally worth a peek and a lot less x-rated than you may expect.)

(Photo credit: Ricky Middlesworth)

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TCA Summer 2013: Things We Loved (part 2)

In * By Tiffany Vogt, * TCA, * TV Addict on August 5, 2013 at 3:43 pm


"Sleepy Hollow"

“Sleepy Hollow”

Fox – Make no “bones” about it (all puns intended), Fox knows how to take chances on ground-breaking genre shows. This Fall it launches two new extraordinary series: SLEEPY HOLLOW and ALMOST HUMAN. Both are highly appealing, full of adrenaline-pumping excitement, mystery, and fantastic character chemistry.  SLEEPY HOLLOW makes its grand debut on Monday, September 16th at 9:00 p.m. following Fox’s hit series BONES.  Then ALMOST HUMAN will take the BONES timeslot in early November as BONES shuffles into its new timeslot Friday nights.  SLEEPY HOLLOW comes from the “Star Trek” minds of Orci/Kurtzman as they seek to modernize the classic tale of Ichabod Crane by bringing him into today’s world along with the seemingly indestructible headless horseman. With hints of the supernatural, occult, Biblical themes, and man crossing through time in search of his cursed beloved, SLEEPY HOLLOW is a dazzling adventure.  It also co-stars the very appealing and likable cast of Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, and Orlando Jones.

"Almost Human"

“Almost Human”

Then ALMOST HUMAN comes also from “Star Trek’s” JJ Abrams and FRINGE’s J.H. Wyman.  It is a futuristic buddy-cop tale of a man and an android who team up to solve crimes and perhaps a bigger mystery or two.  With the fun casting of Karl Urban (who played the character “Bones” in Trek) along with Michael Ealy, the chemistry between the two is hilarious and captivating. Because their characters live 35 years in the future, humanoid androids are an accepted part of society; yet just because one walks and talks like a human, does not make them human.  There is an undercurrent of tension, suspicion and even jealousy between the two paired detectives as they learn to work together on crimes. Kudos to Fox for taking a chance on these fun shows and allowing viewers the chance to discover such magnificently envisioned worlds.

"The Mindy Project"

“The Mindy Project”

THE MINDY PROJECT – Another shout-out to Fox for staunchly standing behind its successful comedy series from the hilarious Mindy Kaling.  Overshadowed a bit by the lackluster season for comedies as a whole last year, everyone seemed to overlook the one sure-fire hit that broke out.  Anyone familiar with Mindy Kaling knows that her comedic voice is undeniably worthy of attention.  First to admit that she needed to make her character more likable as “unlikable” characters tend to turn off audiences, Kaling strove to help make her character a woman that everyone could identify with and would want to spend time with.  The end result was a show that pulled in viewers of all ages from all walks of life.  Everyone wanted to see what Mindy would do as the rom-com addicted Mindy Lahiri in THE MINDY PROJECT.  Invited to the set to peek behind the curtain of the show, press were tickled to find a few spoilerish items right in plain sight.  There were balloons and a cake celebrating an occasions that the show’s producers hope the press will keep under wraps ’til the new season debuts.  Suffice it to say, fans are going to enjoy the surprise.  A few delicacies we can share were the custom-made fortune cookies provided that offered such bits of wisdom as:  “You sound pretty, like you lost weight,” “Catch you on the slime,” and “Your warrior name is Beyonce Pad Thai.”   With such sharp, fun humor to look forward to and perhaps another funny adventure as Mindy tries to live out her Jane Austen/rom-com fantasies, Season 2 of THE MINDY PROJECT returns on Tuesday, September 17th. 



CBS – Coming off a high from last season where CBS scored the enviable Number One position in both viewers and the coveted 18-34 year old demograph, CBS is playing it safe launching the new drama series HOSTAGES this Fall.  Starring Toni Collete, Dylan McDermott and Tate Donovan, the series microscopically examines the life of one family held as hostages while terrorists try to assassinate the U.S. President.  The drama takes place over a 2-week period and examines each of the characters secrets and exploitable flaws as they try to outwit one another to prevent a national tragedy.  HOSTAGES is a finely-tuned mystery that will have viewers on the edge of their seats as they try to guess what is really going on.  Then also returning for its fifth season is CBS’s stellar drama THE GOOD WIFE.  Play to its strengths, the show explores how Alicia Florrick will extricate herself from her current firm Lockhart Gardner and make the leap to the new firm with her co-conspirator Cary Agos, and continue to dance the fine line of attraction with her boss Will Gardner and her duty as a wife to the new state governor.  Alicia’s world has never been more treacherous and tricky to navigate — and we cannot wait to see how it all plays out!  THE GOOD WIFE returns on September 29th and HOSTAGES premieres September 23rd.



Showtime – Coming back for its 3rd season, the scorching hot series HOMELAND is still a force to be reckoned with.  Having swept the Emmys last year, it stands poised to do so again this year.  Daring to end its second season with a literal bang as the show blew up a good portion of the CIA building and a number of its characters in the process, HOMELAND returns with vengeance on everyone’s mind — or better yet, with the question: where’s Brody?  The most hated/hunted man in the world at the beginning of the 3rd season, suspicions and tensions are high amongst the survivors.  Carrie’s unorthodox relationship with Brody is in the spotlight and Brody’s family is left with the unenviable fall-out of being related to a traitor and a terrorist.  The show comes back strong and with even more intense issues of honor, loyalty, crime and punishment and whether or not Brody will ever be able to come back alive.  HOMELAND in a word is riveting.  When it returns on September 30th on Showtime, fans will be glued to there TV sets (assuming the lambasted standoff between CBS/Time Warner has been resolved by then).



CW- If there is anything the CW knows, it is how to cast some of the most attractive and appealing young actors in Hollywood in its shows.  Debuting three new sizzling new series this fall, the CW is hoping to lure in a few million viewers to check-out the lush and inviting worlds of REIGN, THE TOMORROW PEOPLE, and THE ORIGINALS.  All three series hold enormous appeal and are sure to score well with their intended audiences.  REIGN is through and through a delicious historical romance featuring the tale of Mary, Queen of Scots as she travels to France to wed her betrothed, the French Prince.  Yet with intrigue, political scandals and perhaps a forbidden romance or two, REIGN seeks to seduce its viewers with a modern feel to the classic tale.  Starring Adelaide Kane, Torrance Coombs, and Toby Regbo, these young actors shall woo audiences right through their TV screens. Plus with the use of real castles to backdrop the visually stunning series, viewers shall soon find themselves fully entranced by the REIGN world, which debuts October 17th.  Then taking a page from its cousin series ARROW, the new supernatural series THE TOMORROW PEOPLE actually cast ARROW star Stephen Amell’s cousin Robbie Amell to star in the new series.  Knowing that two Amells are sure to make a dynamic TV duo, the CW has paired the two shows to air back-to-back Wednesday nights this Fall. Clever! 

"The Tomorrow People"

“The Tomorrow People”

THE TOMORROW PEOPLE explores a world where telepathy, teleportation and telekinesis exist and a groups of special young teens are on the run from a big, bad government agency seeking to exterminate them.  Robbie Amell along with castmates Peyton List, Luke Mitchell, Aaron Yoo and Mark Pellegrino offer a fun array of characters that we can cheer for and want to get to know as THE TOMORROW PEOPLe debuts on October 9th.  Then fans of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES are already familiar with the new series THE ORIGINALS, which spins off with Klaus, Elijah and their sister Rebekah at the center of a vampire-werewolf-witches world where supernatural beings rule by day and night. Helmed by the core strength of its desirable cast starring Joseph Morgan, Daniel Gillies and Claire Holt, THE ORIGINALS is certain to lure fans as it debuts on October 10th and then moves into its regular timeslot on October 15th.

"American Horror Story"

“American Horror Story”

FX – The network that holds itself out as offering “fearless” television shows certainly lives up to its name with its latest series THE BRIDGE, as well its rock-solid continuing series SONS OF ANARCHY and AMERICAN HORROR STORY.  FX series are not for the faint-of-heart.  Yet for those who can withstand drama with a darker edge, FX offers some of the most gripping and addictive shows on television.  It’s new summer series THE BRIDGE starring Diane Kruger and Demian Bichir is the tale of boiling tensions both sides of the U.S./Mexico border when a body is discovered, one-half the body of a U.S. white woman and one-half the body of a Mexican girl.  As the threads tying the murders together are unraveled, a bigger hot-bed of political issues and criminal oversights is brought to light.  But not before many more bodies are found. Serial killer or political activist, the body count piles up and everyone’s lives are caught in the cross-fire.  To say that the series is riveting is under-selling it.  But it is also not an easy show to watch, so viewer discretion is advised.  That’s a warning that could be equally applied to FX’s other core series SONS OF ANARCHY and AMERICAN HORROR STORY. 

"Sons of Anarchy"

“Sons of Anarchy”

Yet despite their willingness to depict grisly and off-putting subject matter, both remain some of the highest rated and highest regarded dramas on television.  Both easily win their timeslots with viewers and being the number one in social media for their respective nights.  FX knows what topics and shows will capture the attention of the national zeitgeist; not to mention Emmy voters attention as AMERICAN HORROR STORY swept the Emmy nominations for the 2nd year in a row.  SONS OF ANARCHY returns on September 10th with its penultimate 6th season. With an opening episode that will certainly shock, horrify and turn a few stomachs, SONS OF ANARCHY sets the bar high this next season in exploring the underbelly of the harsh world that its SAMCRO anti-heroes live amongst.  Then AMERICAN HORROR STORY will attempt to take a more fun tone in exploring the world of witches, covens and all the things that go bump in the night when it returns with its 3rd season in October.

"Lost Angels"

“Lost Angels”

TNT – Dipping its toe into the noir world, TNT’s new series LOST ANGELS comes from former WALKING DEAD producer Frank Darabont, who coincidentally cast two former WALKING DEAD co-stars Jon Bernthal and Jeffrey DeMunn in this new drama series.  Fleshing out the remarkable cast are co-stars Neal McDonough, Milo Ventimiglia, Robert Knepper, Alexa Davalos, Edward Burns and Jeremy Luke.  The show explores the dark tale of the L.A. police force versus the encroaching mobsters of the late 1940’s.  Mob warfare has taken a toll and the time has come to eradicate the cancerous criminals ruling the streets.  With a rare invitation to the set, press explored the authentic feeling sets of the police precinct and a smoke-filled lounge bar, while chatting briefly with the cast about their new series.  Most seemed smitten with the chance to work together and step into the snazzy shoes of such famous characters.  But given the camaraderie and general feeling of pride amongst them in the fine work they have been invited to be a part of, TNT’s LOST ANGELS is certain to be a gripping drama that will invoke nostalgia for a bygone era of opulence seeded with violence.  Look for LOST ANGEL’s to debut in 2014 on TNT.

"Black Sails"

“Black Sails”

Starz – Wholeheartedly embracing adventure tales with its two new series BLACK SAILS and OUTLANDER, Starz is looking to draw audiences with larger than life tales of pirates and time-travel back to the time of Scottish warlords.  With audiences today looking for television shows to capture their imaginations and take them on grand adventures, Starz’s new series are certain to be a dazzling display of drama, romance, and adventure.  Alas, both series are slated to debut in 2014, so there is a bit of a wait for those chomping at the bit to see these new series.

AMC – Also catching our attention were the announcement of AMC’s new drama series HALT & CATCH FIRE and TURN.  HALT & CATCH FIRE stars Lee Pace (PUSHING DAISIES) and TURN will star Burn Gorman (TORCHWOOD).  Without much more than casting to catch our attention, AMC has managed to ensure that we will be impatiently waiting more about both series.  After all, this kind of key casting is again to the phrase, “You had me at hello.”  But then to add a little more excitement and buzz to each, HALT & CATCH FIRE will focus on the 1980’s tech boom, and TURN will explore the world of the Culper Ring spies in Washington D.C.  in 1778.  Coming from the network that brought us MAD MEN, BREAKING BAD, HELL ON WHEELS, THE KILLING and THE WALKING DEAD, these two new series are certainly ones to watch to your watch list.

"Cedar Cove"

“Cedar Cove”

Hallmark – Finally, looking to satisfy viewers cravings for wholesome goodness with a touch of romance, the Hallmark Channel debuted its first original scripted series CEDAR COVE this summer and will debut the made-for-television film THE THANKSGIVING HOUSE this Fall.  CEDAR COVE stars Andie MacDowell as a small town judge tentatively embarking on a new romance while trying to keep the peace in cases both in and outside of the courtroom.  Backdropped against the beautiful and rugged scenery of the Pacific Northwest, CEDAR COVE is a fun family series that has already scored with viewers looking for something charming to watch on Saturday nights.  Everyone should also keep an eye out for THE THANKSGIVING HOUSE, which stars Emily Rose of Syfy’s hit series HAVEN.   THE THANKSGIVING HOUSE shall air this November on Hallmark Channel.

This summer’s Television Critics Association tour has been a wonderful showcase of many existing, returning and new shows on the television horizon.  It is exciting to see what each offers to entice audiences to discover the new shows and keep up with the existing shows.  In this era of more and more television shows, it is harder and harder to shift through them all and find out which are worthy of our attention.  These were just a few that we chose to highlight and hope that you will take the time to discover them too.

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