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Posts Tagged ‘Prime Time Television’

So That Happened – Jon Cryer’s New Memoir

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Jon Cryer’s memoir of his long and checkered career makes for surprisingly thoughtful, entertaining reading.

Show biz memoirs are usually “and then I did this” or “and then I met” or else redolent of both scandal and self-promotion, but despite the high octane material Jon Cryer has the ability to exploit, with the whole Two and A Half Men saga just a part of his many decades as an actor, Cryer’s So That Happened deals most effectively not with shock, but rather introspection – into his personal life, but more importantly, into the craft of comedy itself.

After his initial hits in films, Cryer wandered in the wilderness with a string of failed television pilots until he was considered within the industry to be almost “the kiss of death” for any new project, until, by a long and torturous route, he finally landed the gig on Two and a Half Men.

But his major discovery was that, for some reason, his mere presence on a set seems out of place for audiences, who are almost waiting for some misfortune to befall him, and when he registers confusion, disbelief, or irritation, the result is amusement, as if his very being is perpetually alien.

He also discusses the mechanics of building a joke; how the auditioning process in Hollywood has become completely corrupted by the fact that one has sign an agreement merely to audition for a part, with no assurance of getting it; how the entertainment industry is so mercurial that success can vanish literally overnight; and how his oldest friends sadly fell away when fame finally came to him.

Sad, ruminative, literate and deeply analytical, this book is a real surprise, and offers some genuine insight into why the entertainment world is so stratified today, into the superstar brackets and nothing else, as the middle class of movies, music, books and other media are shuffled off into VOD oblivion.

For Cryer, it’s a craft, but it’s also job, and you have to hit your marks and perform, no matter what. So That Happened is about the triumph of professionalism. As Cryer notes, “you can’t do television shows caring whether or not the network picks you up. You can only do them enjoying the work, because if you’re always on pins and needles about whether you’ll be picked up, you’ll lose your mind. I learned that the hard way.”

All in all, very much worth reading.

Two and A Half Men Finally Runs Out Of Gas

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Two and A Half Men has finally ended, with an extremely self-reflexive episode.

Two and A Half Men ran out of gas a loooooooong time ago, but finally it was laid to rest last night, with a one-hour finale that strongly suggested that we’ve been wasting our time in a rather epic fashion for the past 12 years. Charlie Sheen left four years ago; since then Ashton Kutcher has filled in for him, and the series has been running on fumes ever since. That’s why my favorite moment in the show’s final episode – what? I’m going to miss this? – came when Angus T. Jones, apparently forgiven by Chuck Lorre for his outbursts against the series, made a final cameo appearance in a blizzard of truly terrible jokes – gags so wheezy that the entire cast broke the fourth wall – twice - to stare directly at the audience, as if to say, “you’re stupid enough to laugh at this?”

There were any number of in jokes at Sheen’s expense, cameos by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Christian Slater, and endless references to the long running feud between Sheen and producer Chuck Lorre, culminating in a capper in which a piano is dropped on a Sheen lookalike, and then on Lorre himself in the final shot. The cast and writers clearly threw any aspect of faux “realism” – even for a sitcom – out the window for this last episode, preferring to make something as meta as meta could be – an episode about the whole trajectory of the series over the last decade plus. In any event, it was a perfectly fun way to waste an hour, and now that the show’s gone, we won’t have to worry about it anymore, except that it will live on forever in reruns, which it’s already doing.

Click here, or on the image above, to see a clip from final episode.

Marc Cherry of “Desperate Housewives” on Hollywood, The Biz and Life

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Click on the bucolic image above to see the promo for Season 8 of DH.

As I’m sure you know, the long-running nighttime soap Desperate Housewives is running its final lap right now, with the conclusion coming up shortly. Series creator Marc Cherry, above, will make a brief guest appearance on the final episode of the series, and offered these thoughts, as reported by Nellie Andreeva in Deadline Hollywood, on the end of the show, and his future within the industry. They’re worth reprinting here, as an example of how things change, how to cope with that change, and how to deal with what life hands you.

“People keep asking me if it’s bittersweet, and I go, ‘No.  It’s completely sweet,’ because I’m smart enough to know, when I started this ‑‑ this is my 23rd year as a professional writer ‑‑ there’s no such thing as a job that goes on forever.  All good things come to an end.  And I was SO [screwed]. I was in ‑‑ like a $100,000 in debt to my mother.  I went through years without an interview for a job.  No one thought I was anything.  I had friends that didn’t even call for a while.  And then, like, I write this script because it was my attempt to show people that I was a better writer than maybe they thought, and all hell broke loose.  And right from the start, I knew it was going to be a roller coaster, but I’m smart enough, and the way my mom brought me up, I was humane enough to go, ‘It’s all good.  Even the bad stuff is good.  Even those days when I’m exhausted’ ‑‑ and for those of you who saw me, I’m, like, 50 pounds thinner than I was the first season because I was stuffing carbs into my face constantly to write because I was writing so much of that first season.  That’s why I was so thankful when folks like (exec producer) Bob (Daily) came along to take some of the burden off me ‑‑ that even during the bad times, it was fantastic.  Even, like, when some other show comes along and it’s the hot new show, I’m like, ‘Good for you.  Go with it, babe.’  This is how this industry works.  It’s like life.  To everything there is a season.  Our seasons are coming to an end.  And so I just ‑‑ for all of us, we’re just so grateful for the ride we’ve had because not many people in this business get to experience what we have all collectively experienced.  So that’s how I feel, is just grateful and looking forward to the next chapter.”

Streaming Media — “Prime Time all the Time” per NPR

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

A fascinating discussion on the impact of streaming media on the NPR website for their Talk of the Nation show, moderated by Tony Cox; in essence, what they’re saying is what I’ve been arguing for years; the advent of complete, anytime, on-demand streaming video, music, and text means that any time is prime time, and that we aren’t slaves to the networks anymore when it comes to scheduling. As far as content, though, that’s another matter. There’s still 500 channels and nothing on, if you know what I mean.

Read the transcript, and/or listen to it here.

About the Author

Wheeler Winston Dixon

Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan Professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is an internationally recognized scholar and writer of film history, theory and criticism. He is the author of thirty books and more than 100 articles on film, and appears regularly in national media outlets discussing film and culture trends. Frame by Frame is a collection of his thoughts on a number of those topics. To contact Prof. Dixon for an interview, reach him wdixon1@unl.edu or his website, wheelerwinstondixon.com

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