Thursday January 9, 2014

The Real World: Ex-Plosion finally made its debut last night and it did not disappoint.  There were drunken hook ups and fighting, sex in the confessional room and 7 strangers learning to hate one another right out of the gates.  The production was tweaked with new graphics (don't like them) and some different angles where you can see the cameramen in multiple scenes (don't like it).  They are counting down the days until the exes arrive and we left episode 1 with 25 days remaining (down from 29 days to start the show).  I've warmed up to this new twist and look forward to the chaos that ensues in 25 days . . . .

The Los Angeles Times talked to the show's co-creator Jon Murray who shed some additional light on this season: "[a]fter 28 or so seasons, we just thought it was time to evaluate the show and take a look at it and think about who our audience is today and make some changes as a result of that. So as you’ll see, the cast will have a phone, and when they’re going out they’re taking pictures and we’re using those as part of the transitions; there’s a closed social-media site where family and loved ones, and most importantly exes, can see what’s going on when the cast posts pictures and things. We looked at the way we tell stories and the pacing of the show. We’re playing more scenes dry, without music. We’re pulling the lens back a little, you see some of the cameras on the floor. We just feel in the reality world where a lot of people are doing soft-scripted and very orchestrated reality television, "Real World" is still very raw, and we wanted to really reinforce that fact."

Read the entire interview here.

Former cast members of The Real World, where are they now?

The Wire ranks the best RW housemates of all time.

Moving on . . . 

Here's Grantland's Andy Greenwald's take on the upcoming HBO series True Detective, starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey.  Man does Greenwald know how to pontificate.   I can save you the read.  He doesn't like the show all that much.

Carlos Danger is going to be making a cameo on Amazon's Alpha House, a terrific show if you're not watching.  The show has already had cameos from Bill Murray, Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan, amongst others.  Among the insiders scheduled to join the program are former GOP head Michael Steele, CNN analyst and Supreme Court guru Jeffrey Toobin and former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw.

"Alpha House was created by Doonesbury Garry Trudeau and stars John Goodman. It centers on four U.S. Senators who bunk together in a Washington, D.C. house. The show is part of Amazon’s attempt to break into the original content business, following the mold of Hulu and Netflix. So far, reviews for the series have been strong, with the Los Angeles Times’ Robert Lloyd calling it, an accomplished piece of work.'”  I concur.

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Per TheWrap, "Penn Jillette is making the journey over to the Travel Channel.  The network has greenlit a pilot from the magician, tentatively titled “Street Cred,” as part of a trio of greenlit pilots.

"The Jillette show is billed as a hidden-camera talent show that will search America for the best street performers. Jillette will scour the country with a team of undercover experts to find the best street performer, who will receive a $10,000 tip, with the cameras there to capture the performer’s reaction. The half-hour pilot is being produced by High Noon Entertainment.

"Also receiving a green light from Travel Channel: The pilot Booze Traveler, which will star entrepreneur Jack Maxwell 'as he travels around the world one drink at a time.' The pilot will feature Maxwell, billed as a 'cocktail connoisseur,' exploring new locales and “seeking out the people, places, customs, and cultures behind drinks across the globe.”

"Finally, escape artist/history buff Steve Santini will star in the pilot Great Escapes. Exploring iconic locations and tourist destinations often visited for their notorious confinements, Santini will look at history and meet with experts to determine how a breakout could be accomplished in the location. Santini will then attempt to free himself with expert techniques."  

Wow.  I will NOT be watching any Travel Channel this year so it seems.

Per Deadline, "[t]he single-camera half-hour from Happy Endings creator David Caspe already had one of the biggest commitments for a comedy project this season, a big pilot production commitment at NBC that included a full license fee and series penalty. Now the network has given the Sony TV project — which has Seth Gordon set to direct and executive produce and Jamie Tarses to executive produce — a formal pilot green light. Said to be in the vein of Mad About You, Marry Me centers on a young couple who get engaged, something they quickly realize is harder than it looks."

Per EW, "Damon Lindelof returns to the world of television later this year with a novel concept —  literally and figuratively. The Lost co-creator is adapting Tom Perotta’s 2011 bestseller The Leftovers into an HBO drama series (starring Justin Theroux, Liv Tyler, and Amy Brenneman, among others) that follows the residents of New York town three years after a rapture-like event whisked away 140 million people across the globe."  Read the full interview with Lindelof here 

Big Brother creator John de Mol, is throwing his hat into the survival reality tv show ring with his latest series, "Utopia, in which 15 people set up their own new society. Like he does with most of his formats, which include global hit The Voice and Deal Or No Deal, de Mol launched Utopia in his native Holland, where the show premiered Monday night on SBS 6, part of SBS Broadcasting’s Dutch operations, in which de Mol’s Talpa Media has a 33% stake. The debut exceeded expectations, ranking as SBS 6′s highest-rated nonscripted premiere in six years. It won its time slot and pulled a 25.2% share in adults 18-49, improving the network’s market share in the time period by 500%, and drew almost 1.6 million overall viewers compared to SBS’ average viewership in the slot of 300,000. I hear at least one US network already has reached out to the Utopia producers, with Talpa Media USA’s chief creative officer Stijn Bakkers, executive producer of The Voice, and SVP Sadoux Kim expected to begin meeting with American broadcasters early next week about an U.S. version.

"Social experiments formats have been heating up, with former Fox reality topper Mike Darnell also said to be shopping a series in that arena with Shed’s Twenty Twenty. In Utopia, 15 contestants leave their current lives to create their own ideal mini-society while being followed by hundreds of cameras. (Watch a trailer in Dutch below.) They will spend one year in a place where no rules or laws exist. All the participants — aka “inhabitants” — in the Dutch show have been given is an empty barn on an undeveloped piece of land just outside of Amsterdam, some cows and chickens, water and electricity connections, one phone and a sum ofcash to create their environment and survive for the first few months. Like in Big Brother, the Utopia participants nominate fellow inhabitants for elimination in a process in which the viewers also vote to nominate a contestant for elimination. After the vote, three inhabitants land in the danger zone and two aspiring new contestants arrive. One of the two newcomers will quickly have to leave, but the one who gets to stay receives exceptional power; he or she decides which one of the three nominated inhabitants will definitively be eliminated. Also like with Big Brother, viewers can sign on to get full access to an exclusive 24/7 live stream from the show. In the Netherlands, nearly 100,000 people downloaded the show’s app after the first episode."

If you're not already following Anna Kendrick on Twitter, you should go do so right now.  Here are 25 reasons why.

The Spoils of Babylon seems as if it ought to be funnier, or at least more daring, given the personnel involved. But it’s good for some dumb laughs, and — important in this age when complex television dramas consume so many of our brain cells — it doesn’t demand much of a mental commitment.

"The six-part series, which begins [to]night on IFC with two half-hour episodes, is a broad parody of those overblown mini-series of yore in which wealthy clans lived vapid lives full of steamy melodramatics. It is from Adam McKay and Will Ferrell’s Funny or Die shop and features Mr. Ferrell as Eric Jonrosh, an overweight author who introduces each episode, Orson Welles-like, explaining the torturous history of his efforts to bring his “Spoils of Babylon” novel to the small screen."  I'm all in on this.

Food Network has announced Buy This Restaurant, which sees real estate expert Keith Simpson helping prospective restaurateurs choose their locations, will debut on February 5.

The WWE is launching a 24-hour network next month.  Zzzzzzzz.

Finally, here's a Q&A with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

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Getty Images