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Sons of Anarchy pay a visit to Z Nation on a Package Deal and it isn’t Utopia; television’s must-sees this week

- September 7th, 2014

Z Nation

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Sept. 7

1 Boardwalk Empire
Fifth and final season debut
Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) recalls his roots as a poor kid in Atlantic City while simultaneously plotting his next move in the event that Prohibition is repealed.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

2 Sons of Anarchy
Seventh and final season debut
Jax (Charlie Hunnam) eschews legitimacy and makes vengeance a club priority, while Gemma (Katey Sagal) and Juice (Theo Rossi) continue their unholy alliance of secrets.
When: Tuesday on Super Channel

3 Z Nation
Debut (pictured above)
No, the “Z” in this case does not stand for zebras or zeppelins or zippers or Zooey Deschanel. It’s more zombies, dammit, in a new series starring Tom Everett Scott.
When: Friday on Space

4 CCMA Awards
Live
Rick Mercer and Jann Arden host the annual Canadian country music hardware handout. Performers include Autumn Hill, Gord Bamford, Terri Clark and The Road Hammers
When: Sunday on CBC, CMT

5 Package Deal
Season-two debut
Sheldon (Harland Williams) and Ryan (Jay Malone) aren’t amused when they find out Danny (Randal Edwards) went to see the new James Bond movie with Kim (Julia Voth).
When: Friday on City

6 Hell’s Kitchen
Season-13 debut
Eighteen aspiring chefs are split into two teams. The winners this week spend time with Gordon Ramsay and Wolfgang Puck. The losers set up the living arrangements.
When: Wednesday on Fox, City

7 Fashion Rocks
Live
Ryan Seacrest hosts a concert honouring the relationship between fashion and music. Like, that needs to be honoured? Performers include The Band Perry, Duran Duran and Kiss.
When: Tuesday on CBS, Global

8 Love Prison
Debut
A carefree bachelor and a single mother who’ve “dated” online for six months finally meet in person, spending a week together on an island. Hey, what could go wrong, Gilligan?
Monday on A&E

9 The Biggest Loser: Glory Days
Debut
Twenty former athletes, including NFLers Scott Mitchell and Damien Woody, and Olympic gold medal-winning tennis player Zina Garrison, aim to regain control of their lives.
When: Thursday on NBC, Yes TV

10 Utopia
Debut
Fifteen pioneer wannabes move to a remote location where they begin the process of creating their own civilization from scratch. First rule: Telemarketing is forbidden.
When: Sunday, Tuesday and Friday on Fox, City

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Juice cleanse: Theo Rossi says Sons of Anarchy will quench everyone’s thirst

- September 5th, 2014

 

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It’s the irony of anarchy.

Loyalty is the one thing the characters on Sons of Anarchy value most. Yet it’s loyalty that is in the shortest supply.

“That’s so true,” said Theo Rossi with a big laugh. “It’s the one thing they talk about the most.

“And when you think about it, Juice (Rossi’s character) probably is the most loyal of any of them, because he’ll do anything for anybody. He’s the most loyal. Isn’t that weird?”

It is weird. But then, Sons of Anarchy always has been weird, in a good way, a complex way, a terrifying way. And with the seventh and final season of Sons of Anarchy debuting Tuesday, Sept. 9 on Super Channel in Canada and on network-of-origin FX in the United States, Rossi’s Juice Ortiz literally is at the centre of it all.

“In the first episode of this new season, we start to see the full-blown unraveling for Juice,” Rossi said. “Well, it has been unraveling already, and now he’s just trying to get a hold of it.”

If you’re not caught up on Sons of Anarchy, which tells the story of an outlaw motorcycle gang in California, and you don’t want to know anything at all about the sixth-season finale that aired last December, consider this a SPOILER ALERT. But if you are caught up, you know that Juice and Gemma (Katey Sagal) share a big secret.

“What Kurt (Sutter, Sons of Anarchy creator) really has done so masterfully is, he has taken these two characters, Gemma and Juice, and they have to have this relationship now,” Rossi said. “You talk about sleeping with one eye open? These are two people who are forced to be together because they know something that is the greatest secret ever created in this charming world.

“Juice and Gemma know something that can so completely affect our hero (Jax, played by Charlie Hunnam). But how can they ever trust each other, knowing what they both have done, or what they’ll both do? They’re both survivors. Their only goal every minute is survival.

“Juice doesn’t think about tomorrow. Juice doesn’t think about dinner later tonight. Juice doesn’t think about watching the new episode of CSI. Juice thinks about being alive in 60 seconds from the moment he’s talking to you.”

There’s a child-like quality to Juice that actually makes him one of the most sympathetic characters on the show. This will sound like a bit of a stretch, but Juice’s journey reminds me of a quote by former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, who said (paraphrasing), the hardest part of being president isn’t to do what’s right, but to know what’s right.

“That’s actually really great, and a great quote by Johnson,” Rossi said. “Basically, there are never any ill intentions with Juice. He never, ever has done anything maliciously. He never aggressively has said, ‘I’m going to do this.’ He never says, ‘I’m doing this regardless.’ With him it’s always, ‘I’m doing this because I think this is the best way for everyone to be okay.’ And then it completely goes the wrong way, and he just spins the web bigger and bigger.

“What I love about Juice is, it’s truthful. Kurt writes him so truthful. It’s such a high-stakes world, and this kid – because he’s a kid, compared to the rest of them – this kid has to adapt to all the situations. He has done some heinous things. But you see him having to live with that in every beat.

“Juice thinks, ‘I have to be this way, I have to be like these guys.’ So externally, he is being like them. But in his eyes and in his soul, you see that he is not that person. There is no enjoyment in the stuff he’s doing. He’s lost. He’s just lost.”

I can’t imagine there could be a happy ending for anyone in Sons of Anarchy, could there? But you know, if anyone has even a remote chance for one, I hope it’s Juice.

Loyalty has to count for something in this cruel, crazy world.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Bonnie and Clyde meet Sons of Anarchy in Lilyhammer; top 10 must-sees for the week

- December 7th, 2013

Emile-Hirsch-and-Holliday-Grainger-play-Bonnie-and-Clyde-in-miniseries

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Dec. 8

1 Bonnie & Clyde
Debut: A four-hour, two-night simulcast over three channels that stars Emile Hirsch and Holliday Grainger as the infamous Depression-era title couple. Also with Holly Hunter and William Hurt.
When: Sunday on History, Lifetime, A&E

2 Lilyhammer
Second-season debut: Steve Van Zandt, best known as Bruce Springsteen’s guitarist in the E Street Band and Sil on The Sopranos, heads back to Norway for more criminal and cultural clashes.
When: Friday on Netflix

3 Sons of Anarchy
In a special extended episode to wrap up the sixth season, the ramifications of the choices made by Jax (Charlie Hunnam) put his club and his family in jeopardy. Um, isn’t that every episode?
When: Tuesday on Super Channel

4 Kelly Clarkson’s Cautionary Christmas Music Tale
Debut: This is billed as a comedic musical take on a traditional Christmas morality story. Joining Clarkson are the likes of Blake Shelton, Jay Leno, Robin Williams, Heidi Klum and Danica Patrick.
When: Wednesday on NBC, Global

5 Dragons’ Den
The Dragons – Arlene Dickinson, Bruce Croxon, Jim Treliving, David Chilton and Kevin O’Leary – get into the Christmas spirit by listening to holiday-themed pitches. Ugly festive sweater, anyone?
When: Wednesday on CBC

6 Civil War 360
Canadian premiere: Hosted by Ashley Judd, Trace Adkins and Dennis Haysbert – all of whom had ancestors who were greatly impacted – this three-part series explores the American Civil War.
When: Sunday on the Smithsonian Channel

7 Cedar Cove
Back-to-back episodes: Olivia (Andie MacDowell) is shocked by the arrival of a pregnant woman with a possible connection to Jack (Dylan Neal). Yep, might put a damper on turkey dinner.
When: Wednesday on W

8 The Sing-Off
Return: Hosted by Nick Lachey, this reality-competition holiday extravaganza for “a cappella” groups will air seven episodes before Christmas, including the two-hour finale on Dec. 23.
When: Monday on NBC, CTV Two

9 Holidaze
Debut: Made-for-TV movie follows Mel (Jennie Garth), an executive who unexpectedly finds herself in her home town trying to convince residents to let her company construct a massive discount store.
When: Sunday on ABC Spark

10 Modern Family
In a holiday episode directed by Bryan Cranston, Gloria (Sofia Vergara) is on edge because her mother is visiting. Likely will be slightly less violent than Cranston’s recent work on Breaking Bad.
When: Wednesday on ABC, City

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

The X Factor, Sons of Anarchy, Derek; must-sees for the week of Sept. 8

- September 8th, 2013

kelly-rowland-paulina-rubio-make-x-factor-us-debut

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Sept. 8

1 The X Factor
Third-season debut: Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato are back as judges, but Britney Spears and L.A. Reid are out, replaced by Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio. Will this show ever work?
When: Wednesday on Fox and CTV Two

2 Sons of Anarchy
Season-six debut: Having taken extreme measures with regard to Clay (Ron Perlman), the leadership of Jax (Charlie Hunnam) is uncontested. I’ll bet you a Harley it doesn’t last.
When: Tuesday on Super Channel

3 Breaking Bad
Only four episodes to go. This one is titled To’hajiilee, which is a Navajo reservation in New Mexico. Creator Vince Gilligan has hinted that this will be a big episode for quirky Lydia (Laura Fraser).
When: Sunday on AMC

4 Mistresses
First-season finale: April (Rochelle Aytes) makes a decision about the men in her life – it’s about time – while Elizabeth (Penelope Ann Miller) and Karen (Yunjin Kim) have a showdown.
When: Monday on ABC, CTV

5 The Million Second Quiz
Debut: Hosted by Ryan Seacrest, this is a live competition with contestants partaking in head-to-head trivia matches. Airs 10 times over 11 nights. That’s a lot.
When: Monday on NBC, City

6 Derek
Debut: Having already aired on TV in Britain, this stars Ricky Gervais as a naïve and intelligence-challenged worker in a home for the elderly. A second season has been ordered in the U.K.
When: Thursday on Netflix

7 So You Think You Can Dance
Tenth-season finale: A new champion is awarded the Golden Boot (not really) in front of judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy, as well as host Cat Deeley.
When: Tuesday on Fox, CTV

8 MasterChef
Fourth-season finale: A new king of cooking is crowned before hard-to-please judges Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot. First prize is getting away from those guys.
When: Wednesday on Fox, CTV

9 Graceland
First-season finale: The high-strung housemates – played by Daniel Sunjata, Aaron Tveit, Vanessa Ferlito, Brandon Jay McLaren, Manny Montana and Serinda Swan – unite to save one of their own.
When: Thursday on Bravo

10 The Newsroom
Election-night coverage moves forward, while Sloan (Olivia Munn) is upset that her book was auctioned with a forged signature. Hey, glass half full, it could have been a forged cheque.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

Harold Perrineau is Lost no more; now everyone knows his songs in Wedding Band

- October 31st, 2012

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Everybody always knows all the songs you’re playing. There’s never that awkward moment when you announce, “And now here’s something from our latest album,” and everyone groans.

That’s the up-side of being in a wedding band according to Harold Perrineau, one of the stars of the new comedy series Wedding Band.

“Everybody knows the words and nobody is going anywhere,” said Perrineau, who is pictured above in full rock ‘n’ roll pose. “They’re all screaming and they all want to have a good time.

“And yet if you’re observant, there is hilarity to be found all around.”

Wedding Band, which debuts Saturday, Nov. 10 on MuchMore in Canada and on TBS in the U.S., stars Perrineau, Brian Austin Green, Derek Miller and Peter Cambor as four dudes in a wedding band called Mother of the Bride.

The foursome is intent on moving up the chain of command in the wedding-band world. And yes, there is a chain of command.

“It’s a whole sub-genre in the music business,” said Perrineau, who is best known for his roles on Lost and Sons of Anarchy.

“You can be really popular as a wedding band, people request you. There’s a hierarchy, you can move up the ladder.”

There are rivalries, too. One of the funniest scenes in the first episode of Wedding Band is when Mother of the Bride gets into a physical fight with a Def Leppard cover band called Armageddon It.

Perrineau’s character, Stevie, is an “African-Canadian” – it’s a one-off joke early in the first episode – who is both the newest member of the band and its most seasoned member.

Stevie is an accomplished studio musician who has played bass with the biggest acts in the world, but his face never has been on an album cover because he hasn’t been an official member of any band – until now. He relishes playing live and being in the spotlight, even one as narrow as the spotlight into which Mother of the Bride crowds.

Stevie quickly is schooled by the veteran Mother of the Bride members on how to suss out the ceremony attendees.

“That whole Derek thing makes me laugh more than almost anything in the pilot,” said Perrineau, referring to the stereotypical guy at a wedding who just never is going to hook up with anyone. But the band still has to make sure every single person has a good time, because that leads to more bookings.

“At every wedding there’s a Derek, and as his tie gets a little lower and a little looser, that’s when he needs to be made an honorary band member,” Perrineau said. “And if you do that, he’ll also sneak you booze all night.

“Now, you can go with the tragedy that often happens at weddings. But if you focus on the funny stuff, that’s why I think this genre works, with films like The Wedding Singer or Wedding Crashers, any of those.”

Perrineau was a musical theatre major in college so he has some skills in this world. But training aside, Wedding Band showcases a very unique aspect of the music biz.

“You really get to be the rock star you’ve always wanted to be,” Perrineau said.

Rock star, mock star, same dif.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv