Jeremy Strong: ‘I try to bring as much empathy as I can’
November 25, 2019 § Leave a comment
NEW YORK — As Kendall Roy, an heir to a Murdoch-like family media empire competing with his siblings for primacy, power and paternal approval on HBO’s “Succession,” Jeremy Strong has gone through the wringer.
In two seasons, the actor, 40, has embodied Kendall as he has been undermined by his father, tormented by his own shortcomings and misdeeds, and hollowed out by addiction. All the while, Strong has made us care about this wealthy, jet-setting mess of a man.
Sitting in a modest conference room in New York’s Hudson Yards, sporting a scraggly beard (he’s portraying Jerry Rubin in Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7”), earth-toned clothing suitable for a Yale English-lit grad (which he is) and a silver necklace bearing his 18-month-old daughter’s footprint (his second child is due as we speak), and peppering his conversation with references to writers and artists (Balzac, Rilke, Twombly, Ferlinghetti, among many others), Strong muses on why audiences are invested in Kendall and the Roys.
“You can be human and also reprehensible,” Strong observes. “These people are wounded, damaged by their legacy. I try to bring as much empathy as I can.” …
As Kendall in ‘Succession,’ Jeremy Strong draws on the Murdochs … and Shakespeare (Los Angeles Times)
4 new shows that connect
November 19, 2019 § Leave a comment
The best TV shows introduce us to new worlds and reveal something about our own. That’s definitely true of “Euphoria,” “Modern Love,” “The Morning Show” and “Watchmen,” four of this year’s most interesting new shows. On the surface, the series — about troubled teens, people in love, workers in the age of #MeToo and masked heroes, respectively — could not be more different, but on a deeper level, they all seek to help us better understand and empathize with one another, overcome collective and personal trauma and find connections ….
‘Watchmen,’ ‘Euphoria’ among new shows that cry out for awards season attention (Los Angeles Times)
Elisabeth Moss is no riot-grrrl (but she plays one in ‘Her Smell’)
November 7, 2019 § Leave a comment
New York — In “Her Smell,” Elisabeth Moss’ third collaboration with director-writer Alex Ross Perry, which hit theaters in April 2019, the actress plays Becky Something, the raw, reckless, strung-out yet brilliant lead singer of an iconic ’90s riot-grrrl trio called Something She, who, when we first meet her, is spinning out of control and in danger of taking down everyone around her. Moss has been nominated for a Gotham Award for the role.
Think Courtney Love, because everybody does, although Moss — probably best known for her TV roles in “Mad Men” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” — says she and Perry, with whom she also co-produced the film, found inspiration in other performers, including Amy Winehouse, Marilyn Monroe, Axl Rose and Kurt Cobain.
Seated on a tweedy armchair, demurely sipping a Moscow Mule beside a crackling fireplace on a crisp October evening in a clubby cocktail lounge on New York’s Upper East Side and looking nothing like a dissolute rocker, Moss muses, “Becky was everyone and no one.” …
‘Her Smell’!? Yeah, Elisabeth Moss was turned off by her film’s title at first too (Los Angeles Times)
An uncorseted conversation with the actresses of ‘Mrs. Maisel’
August 15, 2019 § Leave a comment
New York — Fans of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Amy Sherman-Palladino’s intoxicating, award-winning TV show about a 1950s housewife launching a standup-comedy career, are used to seeing Rachel Brosnahan, Alex Borstein and Marin Hinkle inhabit a deliciously retro, candy-colored world filled with figure-enhancing frocks and perfect prewar apartments. Each is contained and restrained within the proscribed bonds of her role in the world.
So seeing these actresses (who play, respectively, Miriam “Midge” Maisel; Midge’s manager, Susie Myerson; and Midge’s mother, Rose Weissman) sitting together on a leather couch, loosely clad in muted hues and playfully posing for photos in an industrial-chic Brooklyn studio can create a sense of cognitive dissonance
At its core, “Maisel,” its third season due soon on Amazon, is about women finding their voices, and on this summer Saturday, the Emmy-nominated actresses seem pleased to share theirs in an uncorseted conversation about how far we as a society have come — and still have to go …
‘Mrs. Maisel’ actresses battle restraints on women — then and now (Los Angeles Times)
The flawed-everyman charm of Paul Giamatti
June 8, 2017 § Leave a comment
Paul Giamatti has spent two decades bringing his flawed-everyman charm to diverse roles: frustrated writer, Founding Father, even God. For two seasons, in Showtime’s “Billions,” he has brought it to Chuck Rhoades, a U.S. attorney locked in an alpha-dog struggle with hedge-fund billionaire Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis).
In Giamatti’s first ongoing TV role (no one had ever offered him one before, he says), Chuck has a complex relationship with power — as well as with his wife, Wendy (Maggie Siff). Serenely sipping water in a quiet Brooklyn bistro, Giamatti says he enjoys exploring Chuck’s “nooks and crannies and layers” and carefully reveals a few of his own …
Paul Giamatti explores male power and the clash of egos in ‘Billions’ (Los Angeles Times)
Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys throw sparks
June 8, 2017 § Leave a comment
One thing that makes FX’s lauded Cold War drama “The Americans” so compelling is the chemistry between Keri Russell, who starred in four seasons of “Felicity” in her early 20s, and Welsh actor Matthew Rhys. As Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, Russian spies living as Americans in 1980s suburbia, they make their kids’ lunches and then slip away to don disguises, seduce sources and break necks for the Motherland.
But Russell and Rhys’ electricity on the show, created by former CIA officer Joe Weisberg and just having finished its fifth season before a 10-episode sprint to a series finale, is nothing compared to the sparks they throw off in real life.
Settling into the series’ writers room in gritty Gowanus in New York’s Brooklyn, surrounded by whiteboards with scribbled plot points and grainy show stills, the couple, who have an infant son (Russell also has two children from a previous relationship), are clearly simpatico — finishing each other’s thoughts and cracking each other up …
‘The Americans’ and its stars forge on — who knew Russian spies could be so relevant? (Los Angeles Times)
Who will win ‘The Voice’?
September 23, 2013 § Leave a comment
Danielle Bradbery took top honors on “The Voice” last season, becoming, at age 16, the youngest singer in the show’s four-season-long history to do so. The Texas teen’s first single, “The Heart of Dixie,” released in July, a week before her 17th birthday, showed off her pipes and her country-music-star potential, hitting No. 16 on the Billboard country songs chart. Her debut album, due out in November, is already generating buzz among fans of her silky vocals and sweet stage presence.
Will this season of “The Voice” — in which the show’s original four coach/mentors will reunite, as Christina Aguilera and CeeLo Green return to their stately, spinning red chairs – find as worthy a winner? I’ll again be in my (alas, stationary and far less majestic) TV chair, tracking the competition for the Los Angeles Times. The show has just snagged an Emmy, proving its high ratings are not for nothing. Why not watch with me?
‘The Voice’ recap: Night 4 of blinds shows value of second chances (Los Angeles Times)
‘The Voice’ recap: Coaches play nice as blind auditions continue (Los Angeles Times)
‘The Voice’ recap: Talents impress in second night of blinds (Los Angeles Times)
‘The Voice’ recap: The old gang’s back for Season 5 (Los Angeles Times)
Back on “American Idol” duty
February 3, 2012 § Leave a comment
I’m blogging about “American Idol” for the Los Angeles Times again this season. It’s my third time around on Showtracker “Idol” duty, and I’m looking forward to a great Season 11. If the auditions, which just wrapped up in St. Louis, are any indication, we’ll see a lot of talent crowding the stage in Hollywood. (Hooray for that!) “Idol” judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler will have their work cut out for them when it comes to winnowing down the masses to a handful of finalists. Of course, there are always a few contestants who start out strong, only to take a heartbreaking tumble when the going gets tough in Tinseltown. Who will it be? Stay tuned …
Showtracker: “American Idol” recaps (Los Angeles Times)
The “Glee” gang heads toward graduation
January 18, 2012 § Leave a comment
“Glee” has rounded the corner to the second half of its third season. As Rachel, Finn, Kurt and other New Directions members contemplate life after McKinley High, I continue to chart their high school heartaches and hard choices in the Los Angeles Times’ TV blog, Showtracker. Will Finn and Rachel marry? Will New Directions thwart that villain Sebastian and beat Dalton’s Warblers at Regionals? I, for one, can’t wait to find out.
Showtracker: “Glee” recaps (Los Angeles Times)
“The X Factor” crowns a winner
December 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
It took many “X Factor” viewers a long time to forgive judge Simon Cowell for sending the show’s eventual winner, Melanie Amaro, home early in the show’s first season — only to dramatically bring her back again — but Amaro said she didn’t find it difficult to let Cowell off the hook for his mistake. “He was so sincere about coming back to my house and apologizing about everything that I could not stay mad at all,” she told me during a conference call the day after her big win. “I mean, I was hurt at first, but I forgave and forgot and let go. I really made peace with it.”
So what does the 19-year-old singer plan to do with her $5 million “X Factor” payday? “I’m definitely going to buy myself a foot massager and buy my mom a new house,” she said.
You can read more of what Amaro had to say here and find my full coverage of season one of “The X Factor” (lots and lots of recaps) in the Los Angeles Times here.
Showtracker: “The X Factor” recaps (Los Angeles Times)