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All Arrow, no slings, as Stephen Amell gets to tell crew about record ratings

- October 12th, 2012

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Arrow was on the mark ratings-wise on both sides of the border for its debut this week, and Canadian star Stephen Amell was thrilled to share the news with his co-workers.

“It was really encouraging, because everything seemed to be in place, but then you just never know if people actually are going to watch the show,” Amell said on Friday. That’s Amell above, celebrating the success of the show with some kind of torture ritual, apparently.

“So I woke up to the news of the (U.S.) viewership (Thursday) morning,” Amell continued. “And then when Bell Media released their Canadian numbers, I was in a quick break on set and I got to tell the crew about the Canadian numbers (Arrow is shot in Vancouver).

“Which was really cool, because most of the crew are Canadian. So to have such a big bow here (in Canada), I think it resonated just as much if not more as the news in the States.”

In Canada, Arrow’s debut on Wednesday scored the highest viewership in the history of CTV Two, at 1.1 million viewers. Bell Media is going to re-air the Arrow pilot on its main CTV network Sunday night.

In the States on CW, which is Arrow’s network of origin, the premiere averaged 4.14 million viewers. That was CW’s best debut for a new series since The Vampire Diaries in 2009.

“In both instances, in the States and here, it seemed that the viewership went up through the hour,” Amell said. “And that makes me excited, because in the same way that I’m proud of the show overall and proud of the pilot, I think that episode two and episode three, I like them better.

“They take everything we do in the pilot, that template, and we start to zero in on it. So I’m excited for next week already.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Well-rested Stephen Amell prepares for Arrow with some “private practice.”

- October 3rd, 2012

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When Stephen Amell was cast in the new superhero series Arrow, he happened to be working on an existing series, Private Practice.

So, Amell thought, why not take advantage of this opportunity to pick some brains?

“I asked Benjamin Bratt, Amy Brenneman, Kate Walsh and Tim Daly, who all have played leads in shows, I asked each one of them for a tidbit of advice,” recalled Amell, who is pictured above in Arrow garb (at least, we hope it’s Arrow garb, and not casual Fridays). “Not like a game plan or anything, just, ‘Hey guys, give me one thing.’

“Each of them had something different. But then all of them added, ‘Oh, by the way, when you get more than 30 minutes to yourself, sleep.’

“They were like, ‘Lunch time is not for eating. Lunch time is for sleeping. You have to train yourself to be able to shut down for 25 minutes.’ They all said it, independent of one another. Sleep.”

So both Amell and TV viewers should aim to be well-rested for the debut of Arrow, which takes place Wednesday, Oct. 10 on CW and CTV Two.

Arrow, not shockingly, is based on a comic book. But purists aside, most people actually don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of every comic book ever written, so here are the basics.

After a deadly shipwreck, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen (Amell) goes missing and is presumed dead. Five years later he is discovered alive on a remote island in the Pacific.

Oliver returns home, but his friends and family quickly detect that he is not the man he used to be, mentally or physically. But only Oliver knows just how dramatically he has changed, and how he now is on a quest to right past wrongs.

Amell is a Canadian actor whose resume includes not only Private Practice, but also a season on Hung, a stint on The Vampire Diaries, the Canadian series ReGenesis and Rent-a-Goalie, as well as loads of episodic work on various series.

But Arrow is a big step in Amell’s acting career, and he knows it.

“I don’t feel like it’s live or die, but I do feel ready for it,” Amell said.

“I felt comfortable taking an ownership. I felt comfortable dealing with actors who are much more experienced than I am, either because they’re older or just because I haven’t been in the business that long, who are looking to me to anchor the show.

“I felt like a host at first. I felt like it was my responsibility to introduce people (on set).”

Arrow, which is shot in Vancouver, also stars Colin Donnell as Tommy, Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance, David Ramsey as John Diggle, Willa Holland as Thea Queen, with Susanna Thompson as Moira Queen and Paul Blackthorne as Detective Quentin Lance.

“I know actors say this all the time, but we have a great ensemble cast,” Amell said. “I get what you’re saying about the responsibility, though.

“I’m playing a superhero on TV. It’s not called Arrow and Friends.”

All the more reason Amell needs his sleep. Remember, Stephen, a weary Arrow is a dreary Arrow.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Olympics? When did those start? Emerging from the Television Critics Association tour bubble

- August 5th, 2012

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TCA TLC: Random thoughts at the conclusion of the Summer 2012 Television Critics Association tour in Beverly Hills, Calif.  See if you can spot me in the scrums pictured above with Russell Brand of Brand X with Russell Brand (FX, FX Canada) and Charlie Sheen of Anger Management (FX, CTV) – kind of a “Where’s Dumbo” thing.

Person I never anticipated I’d speak to: Sarah Palin poolside at the Beverly Hilton. Her husband Todd is in a reality show about snowmobile racers. Just kidding, it’s called Stars Earn Stripes (NBC, Global).

Most bizarre panel session: Kelsey Grammer of Boss (Starz, Super Channel) takes a non-emergency, personal phone call from his wife for 90 seconds as an entire ballroom full of journalists waits for him.

Most electric session: Normally blase critics genuinely were excited to see the stars of Downton Abbey (PBS, Vision TV). Hugh Bonneville’s “Free Bates” T-shirt was the topper.

Best interview in a post-panel scrum: Sophia Bush of Partners (CBS, Citytv). Intelligent, thoughtful, fun, swears like a sailor, will talk about anything.

Best interview at a party: Let’s call it a three-way tie between Elisha Cuthbert of Happy Endings (ABC, Citytv), Matt LeBlanc of Episodes (Showtime, The Movie Network, Movie Central) and Kiefer Sutherland of Touch (Fox, Global).

Misplaced arrogance: A dude in a tank top and a trucker cap calls critics “ignorant” for daring not to take his TV series 100% seriously. The series is called Finding Bigfoot (Animal Planet).

Nice girl: Canadian Emily VanCamp of Revenge (ABC, Citytv) sends word to reporters before our set visit that she isn’t feeling well, so please don’t be offended if she doesn’t shake hands. Awww. You could tell she was under the weather by her crackly voice, but she patiently and pleasantly answered questions for a long time.

Coolest party: The folks behind Copper (Showcase, BBC America) – filmed in Toronto, set in 1860s New York – turned a West Hollywood restaurant into an 1860s whore house, complete with come-hither actresses-as-hookers in the balcony. Saw a picture afterward of what the restaurant normally looks like and it was virtually unrecognizable.

Sad moment: Just before I interviewed Michael C. Hall of Dexter (Showtime, The Movie Network, Movie Central), I realized I was very near the exact spot in the hotel where, one year ago, I interviewed Davy Jones of the Monkees. Jones passed away last February.

Best individual panel performance: Toronto native Stephen Amell of Arrow (CW, CTV Two). Charming, engaging, speaks in sound-bytes, told stories people could use. Good-looking show, good-looking guy. Star in the making.

Panel at which the reporters were most prickly: The panel for The Newsroom (HBO, HBO Canada) with Aaron Sorkin and Jeff Daniels. Apparently a high percentage of TCA members take this series very seriously and very personally.

Panel at which the main panelist was most prickly: Showbiz mogul David Geffen, who supposedly was there to “promote” the PBS documentary Inventing David Geffen, would have preferred to be anywhere else on earth. He seemed completely bored, even exasperated, with the subject matter, namely himself.

Panel at which one of many panelists was most prickly: At the panel for Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars (ABC, CTV), Bristol Palin (Sarah and Todd’s daughter) was equal parts bold and cold. Keeping politics out of it, when I spoke with Sarah and Todd Palin (pictured below at the NBC party), there seemed to be genuine warmth there. They were cordial and pleasant and friendly. I actually found Bristol to be icy.

Breaking news: Fox president Kevin Reilly announces Mariah Carey is joining American Idol (Fox, CTV) as a judge, then gets her on the phone immediately to give a statement to reporters.

Right place, right time: Being seated beside Whitney Cummings of Whitney (NBC, CTV) and Love You, Mean It (E!) when she first found out about the Kristen Stewart cheating scandal. Cummings gleefully exclaimed, “That whore!” (Not to be confused with the whores at the Copper party.)

Coincidental “in the TCA bubble” benefit: I was completely, blissfully oblivious to the first half of the Olympics. Checked in just in time to see Usain Bolt, though. That dude is Usain in the membrane.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Todd and Sarah Palin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arrow drives a Smart Car: TCA tour day 10

- July 30th, 2012

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Television Critics Association tour, day 10. Networks: CW, Showtime.

The lead character in the new TV series Arrow gets stranded on an island and, let’s face it, he goes a little nuts.

Lead actor Stephen Amell (pictured above) was asked if he can draw upon anything from his own life to understand what transforms his character Oliver Queen into Arrow.

“The closest I can get in my own life is driving from Toronto to California in a Smart Car,” Amell said. “I was crazy by the time I got to Missouri.”

Let’s get this straight. Arrow was driving a Smart Car?

“Cars for me are a point-A-to-point-B thing,” said Amell, who is from Toronto. “I like big TVs, but I’m not a fan of big cars.”

Arrow, which will debut Oct. 10 on CW and CTV 2, uses isolation as a great device in the creation of a superhero. But there’s a side to it that’s all too real, according to Amell.

“Clearly (Oliver) has post-traumatic stress disorder,” Amell said. “That’s a serious subject and we’re going to get into it.

“For all the talk of superheroes and villains, the most imminent danger to Oliver right now is himself.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Evil Queen applies for job at CTV

- June 1st, 2012

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“Lana Parrilla, thanks for coming in. We’ll keep your resume on file. Our people will be in touch.”

That’s how my interview with Lana Parrilla ended at the Bell Media/CTV upfront event in Toronto on Thursday.

The interview had taken place in PR whiz Amanda Rinaldo’s office at the CTV building downtown, which actually was a perfect place – private, quiet – to have a chat. But it also led to a running gag, since I was seated behind the desk, and when Parrilla came in, it was as if she were interviewing for a job.

As Parrilla walked out, the joke continued as I bellowed “next applicant,” and Jordana Spiro from The Mob Doctor entered the office for our interview.

Later in the office of another PR whiz, Mary Costa, it was Kyle Bornheimer of The Family Tools behind the desk, and I was the one applying for the job. Kyle ended our interview by saying, “We’ve seen some pictures of you on Facebook that we aren’t completely comfortable with, so don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

CTV had a thick list of talent for its upfront. Stephen Amell of Arrow impressed me with his appropriately green socks, although he insisted it was a personal fashion choice, not a contractual obligation. I had a great chat with Hayden Panettiere of Nashville about how her career seems to be going in something of a diabolical direction. The story I wrote about that, as well as the scheduling of Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management and other things at the CTV upfront, for Sun Media/QMI Agency can be found here.

Who knew that women loved Shemar Moore of Criminal Minds so much? I haven’t felt so out of touch since last year’s Anderson Cooper incident (column here).

Anyway, The ladies went crazy on Thursday when Moore took the stage at the upfront presentation. Later, I hear people almost fainted when Moore was posing for pictures with some of the advertising folks and he took off his shirt.

In support, I also took off my shirt. Reaction: Different.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv