Here we go: despite receiving an order for three more episodes on Friday, the Aaron Sorkin NBC drama "Studio 60 on Sunset Strip" is about to be put out of its misery.
Cast members are already confiding in friends that the end is near. It's likely NBC will pull the plug shortly I am told by insiders.
Last week, Studio 60 had 7.7 million viewers. Compare that with competing "CSI: Miami," with 17.5 million. That gap cannot be closed.
But 'Studio 60' has trouble internally at NBC, forget its intramural rivals. According to ratings stats, the "Saturday Night Live" behind the scenes soap opera loses almost half the viewers delivered to it a few minutes earlier by another new show, "Heroes," which has become a surprise cult hit.
On Monday, 'Heroes' had 14.3 million viewers. The substantial drop off with 'Studio 60' is probably the last nail in its coffin. The order of the three extra episodes is considered by insiders to be a contractual move, and not one based on faith that they will ever be made or aired. The all important demo situation didn't help: 'Heroes' had 15 percent of viewers aged 18-49. Studio 60 had 8 percent. The notion that 'Studio 60' is a big draw for NBC among desirables is, sadly, blown on those stats.
Sorkin and friends will argue that NBC has done something wrong, or that the audience isn't smart enough. Alas, in this case, neither is true. 'Studio 60'—as I wrote on August 7th after viewing the pilot—is just a bad show. There's nothing wrong with the acting, directing, or dialogue writing. But the premise is faulty. No one cares whether a bunch of over caffeinated, well off yuppies, some with expensive drug habits, put on a weekly comedy sketch show from Los Angeles.
Even worse: no one cares whether or not the people from the Bartlett White House puts on a comedy show. That's what 'Studio 60' is, essentially: the "West Wing" annual talent show. There's so much earnestness involved in this endeavour, you start to think that nuclear war will be declared if the 'Studio 60' staff doesn't air some joke—usually one we don't hear anyway. The whole thing just feels weighted down and frankly, not entertaining.
There is one winner to come out of 'Studio 60,' however: Matthew Perry. In this show he's proven himself to be a star on his own separate from "Friends." His comedic timing and ability to ad lib, toss off lines, and give restrained physical reactions is what keeps 'Studio 60' even remotely interesting. We can only be hopeful that someone comes up with a great new show for him quickly—but a comedy that's funny, not a drama that isn't.
NBC will probably fill the lost 'Studio 60' timeslot with 'Deal-No Deal: The Next Generation,' or some such thing. So the losers here will be the audience, which is about to be pummelled by more reality and game shows. It's too bad because around the dial there are good new dramas. Despite its heavy "thirtysomething" feel, "Brothers and Sisters" is worth keeping if only for Sally Field, Ron Rifkin and Rachel Griffiths. (But there a mistake was made, too: killing off patriarch Tom Skerritt in the first episode.)
Oh well: I hope Regis is warming up the holiday edition of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." We're ready!
Emilio Estevez's terrific movie, "Bobby," got a standing ovation last night at its premiere sponsored by the Times of London for the London Film Festival.
Estevez looked mildly shocked on stage as a full Odeon theatre, with guests including likely future prime minister of England Gordon Brown, honored him for his work on this outstanding film.
"Bobby," as I told you some weeks ago, is a Robert Altman-like story of many different characters at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 4, 1968, as Kennedy makes his way there to celebrate winning the California primary.
Last night, a few of the cast members including Christian Slater, Joy Bryant, Svetlana Metkina and Freddy Rodriguez (of "Six Feet Under" fame) came with Estevez and his new fiancée to accept the kudos.
The screening — and following swellicious party at Claridge's — was such a hot ticket that Estevez's other guests included Oscar-winning directors Anthony Minghella and Hugh Hudson; actors Jason Isaacs, Eric Bana, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as well as Americans Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins, who came over from shooting "Fred Claus" nearby with Judi Dench, Vince Vaughn and Kevin Spacey.
The screening was also such a success that later at Claridge's, Slater showed off a previously unknown talent: he performed with the 12-piece swing band that the Times had hired, credibly crooning Frank Sinatra's hits like "Come Fly with Me" and "Luck Be a Lady Tonight." Who knew Slater could give such a credible show? Maybe a Broadway musical is in his future.
But it was Emilio's night, and he was a bit overwhelmed. The eldest son of Martin Sheen (and brother, yes, of Charlie Sheen) has been absent from Hollywood for 10 years after a wild ride as part of the Brat Pack with Demi Moore and Rob Lowe and as star of the "Mighty Ducks" movies for Disney. The latter, however, was what did him in.
"I made a deal with the devil," Emilio told me. "Disney wanted me to do another 'Mighty Ducks' movie. I wanted to direct a film called 'The War at Home.' Disney said they would put it out. So I made the 'Mighty Ducks' and they opened it on 2,000 screens. Then I made 'The War at Home,' with Kathy Bates and my dad. Disney opened it on four screens and it died. It just about killed me. I quit the business. I said, that's it."
It's nothing new about Disney, of course. The much-praised small drama should never have been released by them. It made $35,000 and disappeared without a trace.
Estevez — who'd been briefly married to Paula Abdul and had seen the ups and downs of Hollywood from all sides — packed up his tent.
Luckily, he didn't go away forever. "Bobby" springs from the stories of the people who were shot by Sirhan Sirhan in the Ambassador kitchen when he assassinated Kennedy. It's kind of a brilliant idea, since no one remembers that there was collateral damage that day (none of the people died, but they were badly wounded).
Estevez combined several of the characters, and invented others in the hotel. The result he says, is "that we could have called the movie 'Ordinary People' if that title didn't already exist. The movie is about those people."
"Bobby" is filled with cameos by famous actors, many of whom are Estevez's friends. They are not the usual Oscar-worthy crowd — no Denches or Blanchetts, although Anthony Hopkins and Harry Belafonte have some wonderful scenes together as the former doorman and security guard of the hotel now facing retirement (watch Hopkins' wordless reaction when he's told Kennedy has been shot. It's perfect).
But the movie, strangely enough, soars with more unlikely types. Sharon Stone as the hotel beautician is a revelation, and will likely gain a Best Supporting Actress nomination.
If Moore were in the movie longer, she'd be there too. But her performance, however brief, as Stone's customer, is the best work she's ever done.
On the male side, Jacob Vargas, Laurence Fishburne and Rodriguez — who may also get an Oscar nod — are wonderful as kitchen workers.
William H. Macy, Slater and young Shia LaBeouf — who's also the star of the current "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" — are memorably good.
Estevez's next stop with "Bobby" is the American Film Institute on Nov. 1, where the movie gets it's Los Angeles premiere.
But paparazzi be warned — Charlie Sheen is not coming.
"He says he has to memorize his lines for 'Two and A Half Men,'" Emilio says, rolling his eyes.
The big news is that our pal Regis Philbin is going to be the honorary Grand Marshall of the annual Hollywood Parade on Nov. 26. The reason — and this is shock — is that Regis has turned 75 and the parade is that age, too.
Regis is 75? He looks and acts a generation younger! Mazel tov …
Meanwhile, Dr. McChokey, aka Isaiah Washington, infamously of "Grey's Anatomy," will appear as well. If he can get Patrick Dempsey and T.R. Knight to join him, that will a trickier maneuver than any of the surgeries he performs on the show …
Sting and Trudie Styler are hosting a screening and dinner Nov. 6 for the aforementioned "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" in New York. The honorees will be stars Chazz Palminteri and Dianne Wiest, each of whom is the subject of awards buzz. Expect Robert DeNiro to put in an appearance at Florence Gould Hall. He gave Chazz his start with "A Bronx Tale" …
Tickets are still available for a delicious music industry event on Monday night. Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Foundation has every big chef in town coming to cook and shmooze and raise money for this vital charity that supports children with autism, among other things. Expect many "Sopranos," and a variety of celebs. Call Sunny Ralfini at (917) 544-0799 for more information.