Monthly Archives: August 2011

Wednesday night highlights, 8/31/11

“Dragonball Evolution” (7 p.m., FX): Justin Chatwin and Emmy Rossum say that filming sex scenes for “Shameless” aren’t awkward, because they already knew each other from filming this flop. Apparently there are “magic orbs” involved in the plot (and not Emmy’s).

“I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” (7 p.m., TLC): New episode! A woman miscarries, and then five months later goes into a coma — it turns out that she was pregnant with twins. I realize this doesn’t make you want to watch it, but I feel compelled to report it.

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‘DWTS’ and the art of casting

The only casting director I know by name is Mary Jo Slater, whom I’ve always admired. She’s cast everything from “Nine 1/2 Weeks” to “Ace Ventura, Pet Detective,” but mainly I’m impressed with her because she gave birth to Christian Slater. How do you top casting Christian Slater as your son?

They might not always get the glory, but a good casting director can make magic. I’m thinking back to “The All New Mickey Mouse Club” (Ryan Gosling, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Keri Russell) and “Freaks and Geeks” (I am most grateful for James Franco, Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, Busy Philipps and sometimes Shia LaBeouf), but there are some series that are just brilliant across the board: “Arrested Development,” “Mad Men,” “Friday Night Lights.” Just picturing Grandma Saracen makes me smile.

It’s tricker to cast a reality series, if only because you’re not looking for talent. Some of the best reality stars have been truly reprehensible creatures. However you feel about Snooki, for instance, you have to admit that she’s a very, very special person.

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Tuesday night highlights, 8/30/11

Note: All times are Central. 

“MTV Presents: Seventeen Magazine’s Pretty Amazing Contest” (7 p.m., MTV): Miranda Cosgrove helps judge five aspiring cover girls. Compare and contrast with . . .

“Big Sexy” (9 p.m., TLC): Five larger-than-“real”-sized models try to break into the business — and into New York Clubs. “OK, get your boobies out,” instructs one of the wannabes. One preview episode featured a “vagazzling” session, so discretion advised.

“Cocaine: History Between the Lines” (7 p.m., History): What better cocktail conversation starter? Compare and contrast with . .

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Friday TV highlights, 8/19/11

“Windy City Live” (9 a.m., WLS-Channel 7): I’m reviewing movies with David Plummer!

“The Dark Knight” (7 p.m., TNT): Heath Ledger, just as I prefer to remember him: in evil clown nurse drag.

“Karaoke Battle USA” (8 p.m., WLS-Channel 7): I have already grown tired of Carnie Wilson’s “shocked” expression. But like most of America, I cannot resist karaoke.

“Ebert Presents At the Movies” (7:30 p.m., WTTW-Channel 11): Classic reviews with Gene Siskel and Roger.

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Thursday TV highlights, 8/18/11

“Conan the Barbarian” (7 p.m., AMC): Don’t you dare go see the new “Conan” movie opening this weekend without first doing your homework. Arnold Schwarzenegger, circa 1982, had to do his own stunts, because they couldn’t find a believable body double.

“Do Something Awards” (8 p.m., VH1): Upcoming Emmy host practices her shtick on this ceremony, rewarding celebrities’ social activism. Demi Lovato is performing? I’m there.

“The Botany of Desire” (8 p.m., WTTW-Channel 11): Frances McDormand narrates this special exploring the human-planet relationship, including apples, marijuana and tulips. Sometimes I think we forget how sexy plants can be.

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Wednesday TV highlights, 8/17/11


“The Challenge: Rivals” (9 p.m., MTV): I’m not entirely proud of this, but I have not missed an episode this summer. I watch for Kenny Santucci, who should be cast in a (non-dancing) remake of “Saturday Night Fever,” and CT — who erotically enslaves every woman by just standing there.

“Friday Night Lights” (9 p.m., TNT): The movie, set in 1988, with Billy Bob Thornton and Tim McGraw.

“Confessions: Animal Hoarding” (9 p.m., Animal Planet): Updates from fan favorites — including the guy with more than 100 chickens!

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Tuesday TV highlights, 8/16/11

“MasterChef” (7 p.m., Fox): With Chicago’s Suzy Singh out of the running, I am no longer invested in the finale — but maybe you are.

“A Kiss Before Dying” (7 p.m., TCM): Those of us still looking for a steady job could use a reminder that there’s one foolproof financial plan: marrying well. The 1956 classic stars Robert Wagner, Joanne Woodward and Mary Astor.

“Criminal Minds” (8 p.m., Ion): This series keeps getting darker, and I love it. The crimes are appalling. If you missed the “Killer Women of ‘Criminal Minds'” marathon over the weekend, here’s your chance to catch four episodes in a row.

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Recent radio appearances

I know “appearances” can’t be the right word, because radio isn’t a visual medium… Have we really not invented an appropriate word in English?

At any rate, Steve King and Johnnie Putman were kind enough to have me on WGN in the wee hours of Aug. 10. Here’s Part I, and here’s Part II. 

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Spoiler alert: Spoilers good for you

A new study from the University of California at San Diego has concluded that spoilers have gotten a bad rap. Knowing the ending of a movie or book doesn’t necessarily ruin it – and it may even enhance the entertainment.

Of course, I knew that already.

I’ve always insisted my friends tell me what happens in movies. It’s hard to know if you’re ever going to actually get to the movie, or if you’re even going to be alive tomorrow, and do you really want to die without knowing that Bruce Willis can see dead people because HE’S ONE TOO?

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Best moments from ‘Bachelor Pad’

You know it’s summer when it takes two days to put together a post about “Bachelor Pad.” Luckily, I took notes…

Most “This Seems Wrong on So Many Levels” Moment: 

The revelation that Graham was playing “Bachelor Pad” — ie, “Snogging for Dollars” — to benefit children’s charities.

Toughest comment to say with a straight face:

“Let the journey begin.” — Chris Harrison

Let’s not hold back, ladies:

Erica Rose said, “Vienna’s definitely been around the ‘Bachelor’ block.” And it turns out they’re friends! Erica’s dad did Vienna’s nose for free (he’s a plastic surgeon).

I’ve got to get me that:

Holly’s brief, befeathered skirt (at right). I will pay ANY amount of dollars.

Best accessories:

All the women were wearing enormous rings that could double as brass knuckles.

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