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.Maisel actresses

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).

Paul Giamatti.jpgIn 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.

Russell and RhysBut 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

the voiceDanielle 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

American IdolI’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“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)

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