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Thompson on Hollywood

TV Is the New Cinema: But It's Still Waiting for Its Close-Up

A highly readable new book promises to anatomize the shifts in entertainment technology and in the culture in the cable era that gave rise to the 21st Century's most lionized form of "art television": the 12-episode, novelistically textured premium cable serial. Brett Martin's "Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From 'The Sopranos' and 'The Wire' to 'Mad Men' and 'Breaking Bad'" (Penquin) provides a useful overview of the changes that enabled this alternative to the 30-to-22 episode anthology-of-short-stories format that for decades was the only game in town in Television City.
  • By David Chute
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  • July 16, 2013 4:30 PM
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  • 6 Comments

'The Newsroom' 2.1 Review: "First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All the Lawyers" (TRAILER)

The second season of Aaron Sorkin's HBO drama series "The Newsroom" promises to be every bit as entertaining as its first -- if not more so, due to a unifying structural choice that takes fuller advantage of novelistic narrative freedom of post-"Sopranos" cable drama.
  • By David Chute
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  • July 9, 2013 7:53 PM
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  • 3 Comments

Emmy Watch: 'Scandal' Star Kerry Washington Graces August Vanity Fair Cover

It won't do the "Scandal" Emmy campaign any harm for Kerry Washington to be on the cover of the August issue of Vanity Fair. It's a pretty stunning cover photo by Norman Jean Roy. Contributing editor David Kamp wrote the feature interview with the actress, 36, who grew up in the Bronx and broke out at Sundance in 2001 indie feature "Lift."
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • July 2, 2013 4:51 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Review Roundup: Must-See Doc 'Gideon's Army' Follows Tenacious Public Defenders in the Deep South (TRAILER)

Dawn Porter's documentary "Gideon's Army," which premiered earlier this year at Sundance, had its HBO debut July 1. The film, which follows overworked yet idealistic public defenders in the deep South, has gained high praise from critics: the Village Voice hails it as "the most illuminating crime drama since 'The Wire,'" while the New York Times claims it will "grab you by the throat." Look out for this one come Oscar season. Review roundup below.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • July 2, 2013 1:26 PM
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  • 2 Comments

'Venus Vs.' Review: Venus Williams Fights for Gender Equality at Wimbledon in Ava DuVernay's Rousing Sports Doc

Ava DuVernay’s skilled documentary “Venus Vs.,” which debuts on ESPN July 2, charts Venus Williams’ two-year battle from 2005 to 2007 for equal prize money among genders at Wimbledon. In the film, sports journalist Howard Bryant explains that it takes a certain collision of factors for someone to be the right and most effective person to champion a cause. In 1973, it was Billie Jean King. In this millennium it’s Williams, a superstar in the world of tennis who also understands acutely what it is to be an outsider in that sport -- racially, economically and in terms of gender.
  • By Beth Hanna
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  • July 2, 2013 11:42 AM
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  • 3 Comments

'Ray Donovan': The Next Big Thing? Debuts to Record Ratings

The terrific new series "Ray Donovan" is premiering on Showtime Sunday night -- and you should be watching it rather than reading this. If the show fulfills the promise of its pilot episode it could turn out to be one of the great ones, an ideal anecdote for those of us who expect to be suffering from "Breaking Bad" withdrawal in a few months.
  • By David Chute
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  • July 1, 2013 4:44 PM
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  • 6 Comments

How Danish Political Drama Series 'Borgen' Is Reviving KCET (Trailer)

To misquote Mark Twain, the death of KCET has been greatly exaggerated.
  • By Aljean Harmetz
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  • June 28, 2013 12:07 PM
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  • 5 Comments

Cam and Mitch May Finally Wed on 'Modern Family' after Supreme Court Ruling (UPDATE)

Americans love Cam and Mitch, from Barack and Michelle Obama to Anne and Mitt Romney. The two men aren't just the funniest duo on ABC's hit sitcom "Modern Family," they're easily the most visible fictional gay couple in the U.S--and perhaps the nation's most visible gay couple, period. Along with their adoptive daughter, Cam and Mitch are funny, engaging and relatable: the perfect manifestation of the show's title.
  • By Jacob Combs
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  • June 27, 2013 8:16 PM
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  • 0 Comments

EMMY WATCH: Willimon Talks Fincher's 'House of Cards,' Last-Minute Corey Stoll Rewrites

You don't just wind up running a $60 million web series like "House of Cards" out of nowhere. Writer Beau Willimon is the guy who, day in and day out, steers and makes sense of the Netflix show that is swiftly heading toward production on Season Two. Director David Fincher pulled him in after seeing what he did with George Clooney's "Ides of March," for which Willimon earned an Oscar nomination for adapting his own nasty political play "Farragut North." Willimon knew what he was writing about. He had worked on several campaigns, brought in by his chum Jay Carson, who rose through the K-Street ranks--and now consults for "House of Cards."
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • June 27, 2013 4:21 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Emmy Pick: 'Orphan Black' Chameleon Tatiana Maslany

An awards-season backlash seems be developing against the underdog BBC America clone conspiracy drama "Orphan Black," even though the frontlash for this absorbing Canadian production is still gathering steam. Naysayers are suggesting that the elaborately plotted show is too coyly fond of it’s own contrivances; that it races ahead and leaves its audience in the dust. To one commenter on Deadline this post-meta playfulness typed the show as “hipsterish” and thus problematic for Emmy voters.
  • By David Chute
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  • June 26, 2013 4:27 PM
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  • 14 Comments

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