Make Canoe my Homepage

The Oscars get Spun Out in Chicagoland; TV must-sees for the week of March 2

- March 1st, 2014

ellen-degeneres-leads-flashmob-in-2014-oscars-promo

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of March 2

1 Academy Awards
The 86th edition of the annual hardware handout will be hosted by Ellen DeGeneres. Scheduled performers include Bette Midler, Karen O, U2 and Pharrell Williams. What is this, the Grammys?
When: Sunday on ABC, CTV

2 Big Brother Canada
Second-season debut: Pack a bunch of young people into a confined space. What could go right? What could go wrong? Hosted again by Arisa Cox. And new this season is a Side Show following evictions.
When: Wednesday on Slice, Global

3 Bates Motel
Second-season debut: No, this isn’t a Downton Abbey spinoff with Mr. Bates starting his own business. Rather, it’s the return of a creepy Psycho prequel starring Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore.
When: Monday on A&E

4 Spun Out
Debut: Starring Dave Foley from Kids in the Hall, this sitcom is set at a dysfunctional PR agency. Hmmm, they never should have taken on Rob Ford as a client. Also with Rebecca Dalton and Holly Deveaux.
When: Thursday on CTV

5 Kirstie
Debut: Kirstie Alley plays a Broadway star suddenly faced with the son she gave up for adoption 26 years earlier, played by Eric Petersen. Not to be confused with Eric Peterson, a.k.a. Oscar on Corner Gas.
When: Friday on CTV

6 Seed
Second-season debut: Harry (Adam Korson) and “sperm recipient” Rose (Carrie-Lynne Neales) try to raise a baby in a platonic arrangement. Reminds me of Hermey in the Rudolph Christmas special: “Let’s be independent together.”
When: Thursday on City

7 Those Who Kill
Debut: It seems every second show on TV these days is about serial killers in some way, shape or form. Well, here’s another one, with Chloe Sevigny starring as a recently promoted Pittsburgh homicide detective.
When: Monday on A&E

8 Chicagoland
Debut: No, this isn’t yet another scripted series about cops or firefighters in the Windy City. It’s an eight-part documentary series, executive produced by Robert Redford, about real-life Chicago issues and politics.
When: Thursday on CNN

9 The Next Step
Season-two debut: The A-Troupe has won regionals, but the dancers are shocked to learn that prior to nationals they must re-audition with rivals from other studios. Bet those wimps on Fame never had to do that.
When: Friday on Family

10 Almost Human
Season finale: Years ago the father of Kennex (Karl Urban) put away a bad guy. Now new copycat murders are being committed. As always, Dorian (Michael Ealy) is there to help with his dreamy eyes.
When: Monday on Fox, Global

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

The actor did it; new TV special Killing Lincoln stars Billy Campbell, narrated by Tom Hanks

- February 13th, 2013

rsz_1killinglincoln_8341

Abraham Lincoln is the comeback president of the year.

And now even the National Geographic Channel is leaping on the Lincoln bandwagon.

Killing Lincoln, a two-hour historical drama that debuts Sunday, Feb. 17, is the National Geographic Channel’s first original scripted project. Featuring Tom Hanks as the on-screen narrator, it stars Billy Campbell (pictured above) as the title character and Jesse Johnson as assassin John Wilkes Booth.

The 16th president of the United States is everywhere these days, in no small part because of the Academy Award-nominated film Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

But unlike the movie, Killing Lincoln focuses specifically on the assassination.

We really sort of pick up where the Lincoln film left off,” said Erik Jendresen, the writer and executive producer of Killing Lincoln. “I think of (Steven) Spielberg‘s film as the prequel to Killing Lincoln.

Spielberg’s film really focuses on the 13th Amendment (to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery). It’s the story of the victory of Abraham Lincoln.

Ours really is the story of the tragedy, and the irony that, with the ending of the Civil War, the signing of the surrender, and the 13th Amendment passed, Lincoln had a moment – literally maybe 48 hours – in which he was able to shed all the grief and pain and responsibility he had been living with. And it was all taken from him.”

Campbell is a veteran actor who in recent years is best known to TV viewers for his role as Darren Richmond on the AMC series The Killing (apparently he likes shows with that word in them). Campbell was asked if he felt any weight on his shoulders playing Lincoln, especially in light of Lewis’ Academy Award-nominated performance.

I felt almost no weight at all,” Campbell insisted. “The script was so brilliant and so deep in its own way that it was all there on the page.

And I felt really, really safe in the hands of some obviously very passionate people who were passionate about doing this the right way. So I felt nearly no pressure.”

Killing Lincoln actually has a Law & Order feel to it, right down to its own version of classic two-note musical tag. But no real-life murder wraps up as neatly and tidily as a Law & Order episode.

Hanks makes the striking observation that 1,500 theatre patrons were eyewitnesses to the murder of Abraham Lincoln, and yet no two accounts matched. Few even could agree on what Booth shouted after leaping to the stage from Lincoln’s private box.

One of the things that struck me emotionally when I was researching this – and kind of hurt my feelings because I’m a real (American) patriot – is that up until this moment, the White House always was known as the people’s house,” Jendresen said. “It literally was open 24 hours a day. Anybody could walk in to see the president.

The security Lincoln had was solely to get him from one place to the next, not to be there with him. And yet, the threats against Lincoln were numerous. Nothing was ever really done about it.

I don’t think anybody could conceive this would happen. Subsequently, of course, it began a trend. It’s as if we invented something in this country.”

Comebacks aside, some things are better left uninvented.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv