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‘Community’ at Comic Con: ‘F— you network television’

- July 24th, 2014

No one thought they were going to be sitting through or reading about this panel just a couple of weeks ago.

One of the most anticipated panels of Comic Con, attendees were howling with excitement when the cast of Community, along with their beloved creator, took the stage to address their upcoming (final?) season.

Addressing the enormous elephant in the room, Harmon stood up, yelling, “Sony and Yahoo are giant corporations. Their tentacles reach — hail Hydra! — into every crevice,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

It was only in May that diehard Community fans were crushed when NBC announced they would be pulling the plug on the series -which ran for five seasons on the network- for good, citing poor ratings as the main reason.

Fans were hopeful Harmon and his team would find a new home, many speculating that Netflix or Hulu would be interested in becoming the new destination for the show, but nothing was certain.

Until just weeks ago when Harmon and Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, announced they would be teaming up to carry the show’s sixth (and seriously, final?) season out.

Harmon admitted he had no confidence in the the show being picked up by one outlet or another, and didn’t want to say anything out of respect for fans.

“I didn’t feel that this was possible so I didn’t want them to get optimistic. I knew that honestly, it was corporate politics,” he said.

Luckily for fans, most of the cast didn’t feel the same way. Especially the snarky main Joel McHale.

McHale told the hall they were situated in for the panel he never had any doubt they were going to be returning to screens one way or another.

“Much like a Japanese general in World War II, the only option was victory or suicide. As I’ve said a lot, I love the show,” McHale said.

Like Harmon, McHale admitted they were looking into any avenue to complete the series they had all been working diligently on for the past five years. He even jokingly admitted they were ready to take it off-Broadway for fans to come and see.

“I know most of you watch on tiny little screens and now we’re on one. F— you network television! Unless they want us back,” McHale told a roaring crowd (according to Twitter).

It’s a facet of the show Harmon acknowledged at the beginning of the panel, too. Most of their audience are twentysomething’s who aren’t going to purchase any kind of television set, let alone subscribe to a cable company. Harmon has also argued those that do have television sets, aren’t going to be sitting down in front of them every Thursday night to catch the latest episode.

“It’s season six of Community. You’ll be watching it the way you’ve always watched it — only now it’s legal,” Harmon semi-joked.

It’s a conundrum the industry is facing as a whole, and is without a doubt the reason Community wasn’t more successful ratings wise. As all Greendale students know, it’s fandom is on par with Joss Whedon shows like Buffy and Firefly.

It’s a new era that traditional networks are trying to figure out.

Even stars Jim Rash (Dean Pelton) and Gillian Jacobs (Britta Perry) admitted to the crowd they found out the show had been picked up through Twitter, just like the rest of us.

For now, though, Community is back and preparing to shoot their sixth season. Harmon announced fans will be able to watch the new season sometime after Christmas, and assured fans the Community they would be walking into on Yahoo would feel like the Community they’ve known all along on NBC.

Just a bit more uncensored.

Score.

How I met neither? Milioti comically disses co-stars

- July 14th, 2014

Capture a to z

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Cristin Milioti knows what it’s like to be a woman of destiny.

In her new sitcom A-to-Z (coming this fall to NBC and Global), Milioti’s character has been the vague object of infatuation for a character played by Ben Feldman, after he merely caught a glimpse of her. Milioti, of course, had a philosophically similar role when she was brought on late in the series run of How I Met Your Mother to play the iconic “mother” that Josh Radnor’s character was fated to find and marry.

Milioti was asked at the Television Critics Association event if she actually believes in destiny, and that there’s one perfect person out there for all of us.

Before Milioti could answer, her A-to-Z castmate Feldman chimed in, “Is it me or Josh Radnor?”

“That’s what everyone wants to know,” Milioti answered. “Surprise! It’s neither!”

Ouch. Sorry, Ben and Josh.

“(Believing in destiny) depends on which day you get me,” Milioti added. “I would say I believe in destiny 85% of the time. No, 94% of the time. If the right song is playing and the sunlight is good and hits me a certain way, I believe in it.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Maybe Community should have aimed higher, mathematically speaking, says NBC chairman

- July 13th, 2014

Capture comm

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – The sitcom Community launched the phrase “six seasons and a movie” as a joke-but-not-a-joke goal, and NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt wonders why they didn’t go bigger.

“That six-season thing was created by them,” Greenblatt said Sunday at the Television Critics Association tour. “I’m surprised they didn’t say ’10 seasons and a movie.’ ”

After five seasons on NBC, Community will in fact get its sixth season, but on the internet streaming service Yahoo! Screen.

“It just didn’t make sense for us (NBC) to have another season at that level of audience,” Greenblatt said. “I don’t know if we’ll ever know how many people watch it on Yahoo! I’m curious to see if they can get a bigger audience than we did.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

 

Seth Meyers not sitting down on standing up; headed to Toronto for JFL42

- July 13th, 2014

Gallery art, Seth Meyers

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – If timing is the most important thing in comedy, it also is the most important thing in writing comedy. Just ask Seth Meyers.

The host of Late Night with Seth Meyers on NBC and CTV will be appearing at the Just For Laughs comedy festival in Toronto this September. He said he currently is trying to hone his standup act one or two weekends per month, after taking several months off from standup completely when he launched his Late Night show last February.

So how does Meyers find the time to work on his separate standup routine while doing a TV show every night?

“I don’t know,” Meyers said. “So if it seems like I’m doing last year’s act when I’m in Toronto, you’ll know why.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

 

Abba and Queen have nothing on Jaime Murray as Defiance returns for season 2

- June 13th, 2014

Jaime Murray as Stahma Tarr in Defiance, two

Whenever I see the science fiction series Defiance, I think it looks like all the music videos from the 1970s and 1980s rolled into one.

“I know!” said actress Jaime Murray, who plays Stahma Tarr. “There was a scene recently where, just the way they were shooting it, I thought, ‘My God, we look like Abba, or Queen.’ ”

Well, whether or not there’s a musical episode coming up at some point, Defiance returns for its second season, Thursday, June 19 on Showcase in Canada and on Syfy in the United States. As for Abba and Queen particularly, I imagine Stahma Tarr’s favourite songs might be The Winner Takes it All from the former and Under Pressure from the latter.

Defiance is set in a future world that has been radically transformed by the arrival of several alien races. Murray – who, prior to this series, probably was best known to TV audiences for her portrayal of Lila, the main antagonist in the second season of Dexter – plays a member of an alien race known as the Castithans.

The Castithans have the most striking look in Defiance, with their long white hair and bleach-white skin. Remember the band Nelson? Just pretend there were more than two of them and you’ll be on the right track.

“(The makeup) is a huge part of the job, it takes two hours in the morning to put it on, and then an hour to get it off, because you don’t just pull off the wig, it’s glued on,” Murray said. “After season one, I felt as if I had been home for a good two or three months before I got the white residue fully out of my skin.

“I actually do quite a lot of Pilates when I’m up in Toronto (where Defiance is shot), and the Reformer machines and the mats are all black. So the instructors always know when I’ve been in, because there are all these white Jaime shapes and marks everywhere. It’s like a chalk outline.

“I couldn’t commit a crime while I’m filming. Everyone would know it was me very easily.”

For Murray’s character in Defiance, however, getting things done without calling attention to herself has been her specialty. But there’s a striking scene in the first episode of the new season where Stahma’s icy resolve will give you a whole new way of thinking about the character.

“You see that steely moment in the first episode and you just know there’s more to come,” Murray said. “It’s quite frightening when somebody has been so repressed culturally and psychologically for such a long time. You don’t know how angry she is and what’s going to come out of that, but you definitely have a feeling that it’s not going to be good.”

Murray also has the added burden of having to speak an alien language, in addition to English, in Defiance. Jaime, please tell me you just make that up on the spot. That would be so cool.

“No! I don’t make it up on the spot!” Murray said with a laugh.

“You’d think that you could, because it’s gobbledygook. But it’s so well thought out, and there’s such a rhythm and a symmetry and there are certain vowels that just sound like Castithan vowels. I learn it from these recordings, and if I get a syllable wrong, I’m like, ‘Damn, I messed it up,’ and I go back to the beginning.”

Considering the makeup and the language, I sure hope Jaime Murray is getting paid in future “adjusted for inflation” dollars.

“I should get paid more than the other actors!” she said. “The amount of time I spend learning Castithan and being painted head to toe in white, surely there has to be more compensation than the human characters. The humans have it so easy.

“I’m like Pinocchio. I go in and by the third episode every season, I’m like, ‘I just want to be a real girl.’ ”

Hmmm … what’s the Castithan word for “renegotiate?”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv