Showtime, July 1, 10:30 p.m. ET/PT |
Season 2 of the Hollywood satire still plays too broad, like Entourage written in Magic Marker. But Matt LeBlanc's understated performance as himself-an ex-Friends star in a lousy sitcom called Pucks!-has gotten even better. LeBlanc soon learns that network execs, panicked that Pucks! is being killed in the ratings by a show about a talking dog, have concluded he's too old. They tilt the show toward its younger actors. LeBlanc's response-a few crumbs of dignity topping a piping-hot ego-is a fine, funny portrait of punctured vanity.
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After seven seasons, Kyra Sedgwick closes the book on a classic TV detective
The final season of The Closer has been carefully parceled out since last summer. TNT was in no hurry to end a show that's both superbly entertaining and a ratings hit. But July 9 marks the start of the absolute final six episodes, and after that TV will be without its best female crime fighter of the past decade. Things are going very, very badly for Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson of the LAPD's major crimes division: She's being forced out (consequence of a huge ethical blunder), and yet at the same time, efforts are being made to let her go gently. Trapped, confused and exasperated, Brenda can't outmaneuver the bureaucracy with her old tricks: her perfectionism, her Southern drawl and her disarming gawkiness. These were the traits that made Brenda such a winning character, and they were at the heart of Kyra Sedgwick's terrific performance. This was a seamless meld of actor and role, currently matched only by Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens on Justified. What will happen to Brenda? I can't imagine The Closer ending tragically. Even as Brenda stepped gingerly around corpses, the tone was usually kept light. It was Law & Order with a spring in its step. There is an old sentiment with the best television that you're glad you let these people into your home. So it was with The Closer.
YOU'VE GOTTA SEE THIS ...
It should be called Bananas. Mary-Louise Parker's wild comedy starts its last season in the aftermath of a sniper attack. Showtime, July 1.
Quite the lineup: The mighty Samuel L. Jackson hosts, with Idris Elba and Regina King among acting nominees. BET, July 1.
BRAND X WITH RUSSELL BRAND
The witty, messily dandy British comedian is given his own late-night space in which to riff. FX, Thursdays.
YOU PLAY A CABLE NEWS ANCHOR. DO YOU KEEP UP WITH CURRENT EVENTS?
I'm a bit of a news junkie. Every morning I slam a double espresso and read The New York Times online. Since the 2000 election, I've been glued to cable news. I need a daily dose of political news.
ANY GUILTY-PLEASURE NEWS OUTLETS YOU READ?
I'm a hockey fan, and I go to hockeyfights.com. I also enjoy acoustic music. I read acoustic-guitar-playing-artists' websites like Kelly Joe Phelps, Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt to check out what they're doing.
HOW DO YOU LEARN AARON SORKIN'S FAST-PACED DIALOGUE FOR THE NEWSROOM?
There's lots of pacing and a lot of talking to the refrigerator as if it's [costar] Emily Mortimer. My wife, Kathleen, is bored with the process. It's drudgery. She goes in the other room and watches The Voice to tune me out.
YOU LIVE IN MICHIGAN. WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN?
I live on a lake, so I sit on my porch and play guitar and write songs. I've been playing since the '70s. Two years ago my wife and I drove across the country in our 42-ft. RV to perform my one-man show. You haven't lived until you've seen people doing a drunken dance onstage.
Bethenny Frankel has leaped from Bravo to her own syndicated talk show, Bethenny. She should jump again. She's bright, funny, quick, but the format breaks no new ground. So far she's been at her best advising women how to market products they've created. Is there room for her on Shark Tank?