Amber Heard can’t save “The Playboy Club”

NBC announced today that “The Playboy Club” has been cancelled after only three episodes. It’s not a surprise given the anemic ratings so far.

The show wasn’t great, but it was beautifully shot, and Amber Heard was simply stunning as Maureen, the young Bunny caught up in the murder storyline. As you can see from the photos above, Heard looked like the perfect Bunny, particularly in the red costume, and her acting was solid as well. All of the Bunnies were beautiful as you might expect, but Heard jumped off the screen. She has a great career ahead of her, and you can see her on the big screen in October in “The Rum Diary.”

  

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Bullz-Eye’s 2011 Fall TV Preview: What’s New for NBC

Monday

The Playboy Club

(10 – 11 PM, Sept. 19)

The competition: Castle (ABC), Hawaii Five-0 (CBS)

Starring: Eddie Cibrian, Amber Heard, Laura Benanti, Jenna Dewan Tatum, Wes Ramsey, Naturi Naughton, Leah Renee, Jenifer Lewis, David Krumholtz

Executive producers: Brian Grazer, Chad Hodge (“Runaway,” “Tru Calling”), Francie Calfo (“Scoundrels”), Jason Burns and Dick Rosenzweig (“The House Bunny,” “The Girls Next Door”), and Ian Biederman (“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”).

What the network says: “Nick Dalton is the ultimate playboy and one of the city’s top attorneys, rubbing elbows with everyone in the Windy City’s power structure. With mysterious and complicated ties to the mob, he comes to the aid of Maureen, the stunning and innocent new Bunny at the club, who accidentally kills the patriarch of the Bianchi crime family. Dating Nick is Carol-Lynne, a bombshell of a beauty and an established star at the Playboy Club who’s ready to be more than a Bunny. As she seeks an opportunity to elevate her stature even higher at the club, she can’t help but notice that something is developing between Nick and Maureen. Adding to the charm of the club is Janie, the foxy and carefree life of the party who is dating Max, a sweet and romantic bartender. Brenda, a stunning beauty with a dry wit, has big aspirations. Bunny Alice manages to take care of everyone but herself, and while married, is hiding a huge secret from everyone. Pearl is the club’s seamstress who’s been there since day one and knows more about what it takes to survive than anyone. Running the club and answering only to the top is general manager Billy Morton, who also shares a close friendship with Nick. With all of these larger-than-life ambitions, there are even greater secrets. It’s a good thing Hef’s Playboy Mansion is open after hours for a little R&R – and burying your past.”

What we say: Given that this is “the guys’ portal to the web,” it should come as no surprise to find that we here at Bullz-Eye find this series to be imminently watchable, in no small part because of the ever-gorgeous Amber Heard. It must be said, however, that the similarity in feel to “Mad Men” is almost unbearable at times, not just because it’s set in the ’60s, but also because if you close your eyes when Eddie Cibrian is talking, it might as well be Jon Hamm. Plus, not only is there a lot of melodrama on hand with the blend of romance and criminal activity, but the idea of having actors playing real ’60s celebrities – in the pilot episode, Ike and Tina Turner perform at the club – brings back dormant memories of “American Dreams.” By the time the proceedings are over, there’s really only one question to be asked: will beautiful babes in bunny costumes be enough to keep us coming back? Up to a point, sure…which makes sense, since that’s why people kept coming back to the real Playboy Club. As for the show, though, we’ll see where things stand after a few episodes.

Wednesday

Up All Night

(8 – 8:30 PM, Sept. 21, special preview Sept. 14 @ 10 PM)

The competition: The Middle (ABC), Survivor (CBS), The X Factor (Fox), H8R (The CW)

Starring: Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph

Executive producers: Lorne Michaels, Emily Spivey, Jon Pollack (“30 Rock”), and Erin David (“Saturday Night Live”)

What the network says: “Reagan Brinkley is a loving wife, successful career woman, life of the party and, most recently, mom. Determined not to compromise her career or cool reputation to the clichés of motherhood, Reagan adjusts to life with a baby and returns to work with the support of her stay-at-home husband, Chris. As Reagan and Chris figure out their new life, self-doubt, sleep deprivation and the pressure of today’s parenting protocols rattle their confidence. What’s more, the endless needs of Reagan’s boss, ambitious but vulnerable talk-show host Ava, threaten to throw Reagan off balance.”

What we say: As is only appropriate for a show about a new baby, “Up All Night” has already experienced some growing pains, with the producers making the decision to A) pump up Maya Rudolph’s role on the series, and B) add Nick Cannon to the cast as Ava’s onscreen cohort. As a result, the revised pilot – which still doesn’t include Cannon but does offer much more Maya – feels less about the new parents than it should, which isn’t in and of itself a bad thing, but…well, isn’t it ostensibly about the new parents? This is the kind of shift that you’d expect as the series progresses, not before it ever leaves the station. Granted, it isn’t as if anyone outside of the TV critic community will have any idea that a change has occurred, but viewers are still likely to wonder why a show revolving around Reagan and Chris becoming new parents spends so much time focusing on Reagan’s boss.

Free Agents

(8:30 – 9 PM, Sept. 21, special preview Sept. 14 @ 10:30 PM)

The competition: The Middle (ABC), Survivor (CBS), The X Factor (Fox), H8R (The CW)

Starring: Hank Azaria, Kathryn Hahn, Anthony Head, Mo Mandel, Al Madrigal, Natasha Leggero, Joe LoTruglio

Executive producers: John Enbom, Todd Holland, Ira Ungerleider and Karey Burke (“Miss Guided”), Kenton Allen, Nira Park, Chris Niel

What the network says: “Newly-divorced Alex is missing his kids and trying to keep himself together. Alex’s co-worker Helen thinks she has it together, but she drinks too much in order to cope with her fiancé’s untimely death. It’s no surprise then, when these two overworked public relations executives share an ill-fated night of passion and are forced to cope with the awkward aftermath. Thus begins the journey of two lost and emotionally damaged souls in search of happiness. Joining the cause is an array of co-workers who are both helpful and meddling at the same time. Stephen is the office boss who is concerned about Alex’s emotional stability, yet needs him to focus on his work; Dan is a bachelor in search of a wingman; and Gregg is the nerdy, lone husband of the group. Despite their valiant and well-intentioned efforts, they are failing in their attempts to help Alex get back into the dating scene. In addition, Emma is Alex’s spitfire assistant who is always ready with a quick comeback, and the building security guard is always ready to share a little advice. Together, this motley, and often dysfunctional, group takes on a new level of damage control.”

What we say: As it stands right now, “Free Agents” lives or dies on the performances of the couple at the heart of the series. Fortunately, Azaria and Hahn are sweet, likeable, and very funny. So, for that matter, is Mr. Head, but we’ve come to expect that from the artist formerly known as Rupert Giles. Insofar as the rest of the ensemble goes, however, it’s mostly and miss. The only other person who really stands out is Leggero, but she’s only got a couple of lines. The big question is where the series will go from here. Will it stick to its current strengths and phase out most of Alex and Helen’s coworkers, or will it begin to flesh them out and turn this into a good old fashioned ensemble comedy? Hard to say. At the moment, though, it’s worth sticking around just to see Azaria and Hahn interact with each other. They’re just so darned cute!

Thursday

Whitney

(9:30 – 10 PM, Sept. 22)

The competition: Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), Person of Interest (CBS), Bones (Fox), The Secret Circle (The CW)

Starring: Whitney Cummings, Chris D’Elia, Zoe Lister-Jones, Rhea Seehorn, Maulik Pancholy, Dan O’Brien

Executive producers: Scott Stuber, Quan Phung, Betsy Thomas, Barry Katz, Andy Ackerman, Whitney Cummings

What the network says: Whitney and Alex are a happily unmarried couple. Together for three years, the duo is in no rush to get hitched, which seems to get a mixed response from their friends. Whitney’s close circle of girlfriends includes on one side: Lily, a romantic idealist who loves being in love, and on the other: Roxanne, a recent divorcee who is practical, cynical, and dreading being single again. Lily and Roxanne’s opposing points of view only exacerbate Whitney’s own complicated outlook on relationships. Completing their close-knit group is Neal, a real modern day Renaissance man – sensitive, cool and knows a little bit about everything and happens to be dating Lily. On the other end of the spectrum is Whitney and Alex’s next-door neighbor Mark, a police officer and total bachelor, who claims to be the ultimate player, but likes to talk a good game. At the end of the day, Whitney and Alex try to have a relationship on their own terms – in a world that expects a more traditional approach.”

What we say: How odd that a comedienne who’s generally perceived as being relatively cutting-edge should offer up such a pedestrian sitcom. “Whitney” suffers from the same problem as “Free Agents,” which is to say that the two leads are great, but the rest of the ensemble tends to fall relatively short of the mark. In particular, Zoe Lister-Jones is so over the top as to be annoying, and while Seehorn is amusingly brusque, her character needs to be toned down a bit as well. Speaking of toning things down, it’s remarkable how loud the live-before-a-studio-audience laughter is, especially given the majority of the material. Here’s hoping the rest of the show manages to climb up to the level where Cummings and D’Elia are.

Prime Suspect

(10 – 11 PM, Sept. 22)

The competition: Private Practice (ABC), The Mentalist (CBS)

Starring: Maria Bello, Aidan Quinn, Brian F. O’Byrne, Tim Griffin, Kirk Acevedo, Damon Gupton, Peter Gerety

Executive producers: Peter Berg (NBC’s “Friday Night Lights”), Alexandra Cunningham (“Desperate Housewives”), Sarah Aubrey, Julie Meldal-Johnson, Paul Buccieri, Lynda LaPlante and John McNamara

What the network says: “Tough-as-nails NYPD homicide Detective Jane Timoney is an outsider who has just transferred to a new squad where her new colleagues already dislike her. Jane is confident and focused – and also rude, abrupt and occasionally reckless. She has her vices, and rumors of a questionable past follow her everywhere – but at the end of the day she’s a instinctively brilliant cop who can’t be distracted from the only important thing: the prime suspect.”

What we say: Is it wrong that the first opinion I feel obliged to offer is that I hate the hat? It’s just feels like an unnecessary affectation, and it drives me crazy whenever I see her wearing it. Okay, I’m done bitching about the hat. But, you know, it could’ve been worse. I could’ve been a huge fan of the original “Prime Suspect” and could be sitting here bitching about how this is an affront to Helen Mirren’s accomplishments in that series. As it happens, though, I’ve never seen so much as a single episode of the original, so I’m able to take this American version on its own merits. I’m not sure how long the sexism situation can last as a running thread, frankly, so unless they want this to devolve into just another procedural (which would be depressing, since lord knows we have enough of those already), they’re going to need to maintain the unique personalities of the various characters that they’ve introduced. With Peter Berg working behind the scenes, I’m hopeful that that’ll happen. But we’ll see.

Friday

Grimm

(9 – 10 PM, Oct. 21)

The competition: Shark Tank (ABC), CSI: New York (CBS), Fringe (Fox), Supernatural (The CW)

Starring: David Giuntoli, Bitsie Tulloch, Russell Hornsby, Silas Weir Mitchell, Reggie Lee, Sasha Roiz

Executive producers: Sean Hayes, Todd Milliner, Jim Kouf, David Greenwalt

What the network says: “Portland homicide Detective Nick Burkhardt discovers he is descended from an elite line of criminal profilers known as ‘Grimms,’ charged with keeping balance between humanity and the mythological creatures of the world. As he tries to hide the dangers of his new found calling from his fiancé, Juliette Silverton, and his partner, Hank Griffin, he becomes ever more entrenched in the ancient rivalries and alliances of the Grimm world. With help from his confidant, Monroe, a reformed Grimm creature himself, Nick must navigate through the forces of a larger-than-life mythology, facing off with Hexenbiests, Blutbads and all manner of ancient evils, including royal lines dating back to the original profilers themselves, The Grimm Brothers.”

What we say: This is the kind of show that has “cult hit” written all over it, but 2011 is hardly the perfect time for a floundering network like NBC to hang onto a series like this long enough for it to build an audience. That’s a shame, because as odd as the premise might be, it actually feels like it has a lot of potential, blending the dark and spooky mythology of all the Hexenbiest and Blutbad stuff with a relatively straightforward police procedural. But with no real “name” actors in the cast, the only way “Grimm” isn’t going to meet a grim fate in only a few weeks’ time is if NBC throws a lot of promotion heft behind it. A couple of seasons ago, this could’ve been the next “Heroes.” Now, it’s more likely to be the next “Cape.”

  

The video portion of “A Chat with Diedrich Bader and Parvesh Cheena”

Remember last week when I posted my chat with Diedrich Bader and Parv Cheena of “Outsourced”, and how I was bummed when I thought I was going to be getting a video clip of their side of the conversation but didn’t? Well, the clip finally arrived. Enjoy!


  

A Chat with Diedrich Bader and Parvesh Cheena (“Outsourced”)

The publicity train for “Outsourced” keeps rolling on, and I have no problem catching it whenever I have the option to do so. Even though I’d already talked to Diedrich Bader and Parvesh Cheena during the Winter 2011 TCA Press Tour, I hadn’t talked to them together, so when NBC offered them up as part of the satellite tour for the show, I said, “Sign me up.” Now, granted, I thought I was going to be getting a video clip of their side of the conversation, and I didn’t, which is kind of a bummer, but the guys’ ability to ad-lib and bounce off each other is in great evidence here, so I’m still glad I took the time to chat with them again.

Diedrich Bader and Parvesh Cheena: Hi, Will!

Bullz-Eye: Hey, guys , how’s it going?

DB: (Suspiciously) Say, didn’t I just talk to you the other night?

PC: (Laughs) Good to talk to you again!

BE: Well, you guys are making your 10:30 PM debut with an episode filled with Bollywood dance numbers, singing, guitar playing…the perfect opening salvo for the new timeslot.

DB: Absolutely. We’re entering with a bang. And a sitar.

PC: And a tabla, too!

BE: So, now, was this huge episode by design, or was it already in the works before you got word of the move?

PC: Well, I had a little bit of creative input, and it was very nice, because I said, “Anisha can kind of sing, and her character’s so quiet, anyway, so we might as well give her a little bit of something to do.” But primarily it was more for me to showcase my t-shirt making ability for my fans. The Guptees. Our album will be dropping later this spring, by the way. It’s called Hey, Hey, We’re the Guptees.

DB: By the way, none of this is true. He just made up all of that.

PC: No, no, no.

DB: Uh, yeah. (Laughs) We were going to do a big musical episode, and we kind of wanted to start off the new timeslot with a splash, and…you’ll see what a deep bench we have, talent-wise, because Anisha can really sing, and Parv…does what he does.

PC: He’s just a little sore because I did not use any of his original choreography.

DB: (Growling) Yeah.

PC: I decided to go with Fred Tallaksen, who is a big choreographer here in LA. He choreographed two of Madonna’s tours.

DB: (Sarcastically) Oooooooh, Madonna! Who’s Madonna?

PC: (Dismissively) All right, Diedrich, sorry she’s not Lady Gaga…

BE: So there are worse places to be than following “30 Rock.” Are you guys pleased to be part of NBC’s great 3-hour comedy experiment?

PC: Yeah, it’s going to be awesome: comedy night done right all night.

DB: (In awe) That’s so good!

PC: Thank you. I came up with that, too, so it’s nice to know that I’m gaining a little bit more traction in marketing and branding.

DB: Oh, yeah, he’s very good at that. He’s like Madonna.

PC: Lady Gaga, I thought, was your favorite. You can’t have both.

DB: No, that’s true. But they’re basically the same person.

PC: No, Diedrich. No, they are not.

BE: Diedrich, your fellow cast members seem to have been mildly surprised to discover what a consummate professional you are. Have you always taken your comedy seriously?

DB: No. I don’t take it seriously at all, and I think that’s very helpful. I don’t learn my lines or know any of the cast members’ names. Or anyone, really. I just come in and I do what I do, which is offend everyone as much as I possibly can. And then I leave after I’ve slapped most of the cast.

PC: He’s called me many different names.

DB: Who are you, anyway?

PC: On set, he’s called me Parvaish, Gupta, Bara, Rajel, and a bunch of others.

DB: And sometimes I just say, “Hey, you, get me a cup of coffee.”

PC: And I do.

DB: Yeah. He does.

PC: Because I was taught to respect my elders.

DB: (Bursts out laughing)

BE: Parvesh, Rizwan Manji said that you once took a video of the inside of his nose. Do you have directorial aspirations or just an odd nasal fetish?

PC: No, actually, I do have… (Takes a deep breath) Being a director is one aspect that I’m very good at. I do also do, like, the crevices of the human body. In between the toes is going to be my next visual. For all of those who like feet, I’ll be video-taping Rebecca (Hazlewood’s) and Anisha (Nagarajan’s) toes. So that is a definite niche market.

DB: Oh, yeah. ‘Cause it’s Anisha.

PC: (Bursts out laughing) It’s the niche of Anisha!

BE: Speaking of Anisha, she’s of the belief that Gupta has been slapped by just about every character on the show. What do you think it is about him that brings out physical violence in others?

PC: You know, I like to think of it as a mirror that’s held up to everybody. Gupta really just wants you to be the best, and sometimes people aren’t ready for it.

DB: This is something that the writers took from real life. We like to beat up Parv as much as we possibly can. I was just chasing him around a little earlier, before the interview started. I didn’t catch him, so I’m hoping that when we cut I can catch him and just slap him around. It’s kind of a thing: the writers pay attention to our real lives. That’s what’s exciting about the show.

PC: Apparently, it’s something like, “If you catch him, you get to slap him around a couple of times.”

DB: That’s right. It’s kind of a game. Now, the crew’s taken it on, because, you know, we love our crew, so they’ve started to beat up Parv, too.

PC: But it’s also helping me, because I was 225 pounds before.

DB: He’s lost a lot of weight. A whole other Parv, basically.

PC: It’s true. I’m down to 210. So something’s working.

DB: It’s really exciting. For all of us. Although he is faster now. But, you know, we’ve all lost weight. We’re all coming down together.

PC: I’d like to think that the fat has converted to muscle. It’s all right here in my thighs.

DB: Right. (A beat) You can think that.

BE: Lastly, what can we expect from the rest of the season? Or at least for the next couple of episodes, anyway?

PC: Oh, you have a big episode.

DB: I have a big episode coming up where Charlie finds out that Tanya and Todd are dating, and it breaks his heart. And he kills somebody.

PC: So I’d like to start saying my goodbyes to everyone. It’s been really fun being on national television.

DB: Oh, way to let it out of the bag. I guess you’ve got the scoop, Will: we kill Gupta.

PC: Yes, but since this is India, I am reincarnated the next episode. And, you know, we don’t lose a beat.

DB: He’s like a phoenix. He rises from the ashes again and again and again.

PC: Yes. (A beat) Actually, I like to think of myself as a cat.

DB: Of course you do.

  

TV Turmoil

Our man Will Harris is in Los Angeles for the latest gathering of the Television Critics Association and he’s been reporting on all the turmoil in TV land. The hot story of course surrounds NBC and the recent decision to cancel Jay Leno’s prime time show. He also reported that Simon Cowell will be leaving “American Idol.”

Of course, the NBC decision has now led to complete chaos, as the NBC brass decided that they wanted to keep Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon in their late-night lineup. All of the late-night comedians are having a field day with the situation, but Conan had some of the best zingers in a recent monologue that you can see above.

Will just reported, however, that the situation is now breaking down completely, as Conan released a statement claiming that he won’t stay on as host of “The Tonight Show” if the start time is moved back to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno show. Good for him! As Will says, “you should absolutely read it in full, as it’s a ballsy missive that’ll make a whole lot of his fellow comedians (not to mention quite a few TV critics, including myself) stand up and cheer.”

You can get your “I’m with Coco” t-shirts here.

  

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