Nashville – Sn 1 Episode 7 – The Wrong Song – Recap

Nashville – In seven weeks they’ve had 6 different episode directors, and 7 different episode writers. Next week – Episode 8, will also have a new director/writer combination. They are billing next week’s show as Nashville’s Winter Finale – maybe that means a small scheduling break. What do you think – is Nashville’ revolving door for directors and writers one very unique concept or are they still trying to find the right formula?

This week’s episode was entitled The Wrong Song – and in my view this was a decent episode; I’ll even wager that it got an uptick in the ratings. Maybe the ratings were aided by having the show take the night off last Wednesday (Thanksgiving week). Or just maybe it was a good episode. So what did we see?

Left to right, Marv Green, Sonya Isaacs, and Jimmy Leary – the real authors of the song

01 – Rayna and Liam are hard at work in the studio. They like their new song very much. Rayna’s manager comes in with the news that Marshall Evans wants to release a Greatest Hits album. Rayna is against it as she wants to turn the page and head in a new direction – you know, Liam-style. She also decides that she’d be perfect to close the labels anniversary show at the Ryman Auditorium. While they work …

02 – Juliette Barnes and her QB main squeeze, Sean Butler, are being discussed. The good news? They hit if off nicely and this is good press for Juliette. The bad news – The QB’s connections (is that the No Fun League otherwise known as the NFL) don’t think it is a good idea for their All-American Quarterback to be seen in the company of The Bad Girl – Juliette Barnes. Actually they don’t mention the NFL – but isn’t it easy to connect the dots. Either way – it is more bad press for Barnes.

03 – At the Tequila Cowboy Club – Avery and his band are about to have a big night. With Avery’s new ‘handler’ Marilyn Rhodes on hand, as well as a big-time music guy – Domino Wells, Avery’s night is going to get even better. Still he wishes Scarlett were there.

04 – At the recording label offices, the label’s head honcho, Marshall Evans, is telling Juliette that she’s going to close the concert celebrating the label’s anniversary by doing just one song. Barnes of course objects. Not only that, the concert at the Ryman Auditorium will close with Juliette’s one number and it will be with Rayna Jaymes. More protests from Barnes.

05 – While this is going on Rayna is at home with her kids and Teddy. A night in for the family, until …

06 – The phone rings – It is Coleman Carlisle who requests a meeting, like right now, with Teddy. We wonder what this will be about. So does Teddy, but he makes his apologies and leaves.

07 – The Bluebird Cafe. Deacon is singing a sad song called Stranger on the Street – naturally it is about a failed relationship. Naturally, Scarlett is there and the Deacon’s song reaches her core. Has she made a mistake in breaking it off with Avery?

As expected, here comes Gunnar to console Scarlett. Naturally – Hailey notices and isn’t thrilled.

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Giulia Doesn’t Date At Night

Do you know this woman? The photos below are from early in her career.

She had 3rd billing in a 1988 film that won 4 Oscars in 1989 – including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. I know, 1988 is a long time ago. That film was Rain Man, and the actress is Valeria Golina and she was listed right after Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman in the cast credits.

But that was then. Here is a more current image of her, taken from this film. I’m talking about the 2009 film from Italy called Giulia Doesn’t Date At Night. Directed by Giuseppe Piccioni, the film hasn’t received much attention outside of Europe. Maybe you know it by its Italian title – Giulia non Esce la Sera?

There is a very good reason why Giulia doesn’t go out at night, and we will get to that shortly. As the film opens we find ourselves watching a swimming lesson – actually we watch a man watching his daughter take a swimming lesson at a large indoor pool in Rome.

He is Guido Montani, a novelist and short story writer. He’s been short listed for a major literary prize in Italian literary circles, and is a celebrity. He’s married with one child – it his daughter Costanza that is taking the swimming lessons.  Only she’d rather being doing something else. Since a block of lessons had already been arranged and paid for, Guido decides to take the lessons himself.

Played by the gifted actor Valerio Mastandrea, Guido seems to floating through his life.  He doesn’t seem to care very much about anything. Be it his writing, or his family, or even his celebrity status. His books are popular (to a degree) but most people say they haven’t finished any of his books.  His wife is unhappy with him because she says she hasn’t found a character that she resembles in any of Guido’s books or stories.

Simply, Guido lacks a muse, or inspiration. He’s not driven, or goal oriented. More often than not – he will get up and walk away from his word processor unable to go any further. He’s a decent parent, but not much of a husband. The film maker introduces two of Guido’s ideas for stories. These stories are somewhat surreal, however- they are so beautifully shot – that you won’t care. One is about a man who travels about Rome hoping for rain. He never carries an umbrella because if it rains, he can purchase an umbrella at this one particular shop because he’s attracted to the sales girl. Only he never pursues her in the standard sense.

Another story centers around a parish priest and a young and beautiful woman who makes regular visits to the confessional booth. She confesses to this priest that she works as a lap-dancer – not because she needs money desperately, or that she is a student who supplements her income a few nights a week. Instead she tells him that she enjoys her work. She promises to follow any instructions the priest gives her, but only if he visits her when she is working.

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Silver Linings Playbook

I never knew mental illness could be a subject for a wonderful and funny romantic comedy. As for Jennifer Lawrence – who needs The Hunger Games? I caught Bradley Cooper along with Ms Lawrence in David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook in Sarasota, Florida, on Black Friday, rather than dealing with the frenzied shoppers just minutes away in the mall otherwise known as Retail Town.

Now before you jump all over me for my opening sentence, let me say that struggling with mental disorders is not my, or anyone else’s idea of a good time. However, Russell has based his screenplay on Matthew Quick’s novel and done exactly that – made a gem of a funny film. The bare bones synopsis tells us that Pat Solitano, a former school teacher has done a stint in a mental hospital ( a plea-bargain deal) after becoming extremely violent when he discovered his wife and another man together in the shower.

Following his release, he lives at home with his parents. He has no where else to go having lost his wife, his home, and his job. He believes he can not only get his life back on track but he can also reconcile with his ex-wife, who not surprisingly has taken out a restraining order against him. While heading in that direction, reconciliation and doing it via exercise, a positive outlook, and without meds – Pat meets Tiffany – a girl, much like himself – meaning she has issues and problems to work out.

What makes this film so exceptional is that fact that despite the film’s following a standard structure: boy meets girl – there are problems – the relationship struggles – all of which lead to a happy ending, the film is filled with surprises, along with unexpected twists and turns, so much so, that the fun comes from not knowing what will come next. Though I’ve read that the film has veered sharply from the source novel – I’ve not read Quick’s book – so I won’t hold that against Mr. Russell.

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Happy Thanksgiving – 2012

As has been my custom on the Thanksgiving holiday, not only do we give thanks for everything we have, but I like to share works of art with you. Sometime the paintings have a theme to them, and other times they have been included just for being both masterful and magnificent treats to look at.

For Thanksgiving in 2009, I covered the art of James Bama, an American artist born in 1926. As a younger man he was an illustrator, but he moved to the west and began a second career. His works are most often described as photo-realistic. I love his work, and he was my first choice for a Thanksgiving tribute. You can find my post on Bama here: Happy Thanksgiving – 2009.

in 2010, I mixed the modern with past with regard to the subjects. The artists however, are definitely in the present. I went with Steve Hanks and Alfredo Rodriguez, Tim Cox, and Martin Grelle. It was an eclectic mix of trappers and hunters, frontiersman and Indians, and people caught up in the Gold Rush of the mid 19th century. Steve Hanks was included for the sheer beauty of his famed watercolor paintings. That post can be found here: Thanksgiving 2010.

Last year, I focused on a single artist – Robert Duncan. Duncan’s works bring memories of when we were children. It was a kinder and gentler world when I was a kid, and Duncan’s works capture the essence of those innocent days. Though I didn’t grow up on farm, there were farms nearby. The paintings are displayed in a video accompanied by the classic music, Sunshine on My Shoulder, by John Denver. You can find this post here: Happy Thanksgiving 2011.

This year, I’ve decided to bring forth, in honor of Thanksgiving, a number of paintings made by a number of different artists. I hope you will enjoy these works as much as I do.

Leading off we have a quartet of great pieces of art by Alfredo Rodriguez. While these paintings are not specific to the holiday of Thanksgiving, they do represent how the artist feels about being grateful, and appreciative. The first one (above) is called They Are Coming Duke. A man and his dog are watching for the arrival of their family. Note the continuity of the stripes on his pants despite the folds and creases, and the intricate work done for the dog’s fur. Below, a lonely old-timer prepares his food. This one is called First Meal of the Day. I love the rich color of his shirt, the hanging powder horn, and his gun belt which seems awfully close to the fire.

Directly above we have a third classic by Alfredo Rodriguez. He calls this one Counting His Blessings. As you can see, this isn’t about food, instead we have an old prospector who has just discovered that his panning for gold has brought for some dividends. Is it the same prospector as the one in First Meal of the Day? Might be. While you ponder that – check out the wear and tear on his boots. The last Alfredo Rodriguez painting (below) is called Grateful Hearts.  This one portrays simple homesteaders about to sit down for a meal of a cooked bird.

Next out of the chute is a portrait. The (above) painting is called The Pearl of Sante Fe.  The artist – Carrie Ballantyne. As soon as I saw it, I knew that it would have to be, make that – must be – included in this Thanksgiving post. There’s something about the way the hat, the braid, the scarf, the drop earring, and the woman’s expression that just captivates. Note the lack of a background.

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Boss – We Won’t Be Seeing Any More New Episodes Any Time Soon

Boss won’t be back !

This just in on the EW website:

Starz fires ‘Boss’

Tags: News
boss-wtw.jpg

Starz is canceling Kelsey Grammer’s Boss.

After two seasons on the air, the network has elected to conclude the drama series. Boss was critically well-regarded, though rather grim and low rated. It earned Grammer a Golden Globe for his portrayal of a vindictive Chicago Mayor who was increasingly impaired by a neurological disease.

“After much deliberation, we have made the difficult decision to not proceed with Boss,” the network said in a statement. “We remain proud of this award-winning show, its exceptional cast and writers, and are grateful to Kelsey Grammer, Farhad Safinia and our partners at Lionsgate TV.”

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Nashville: Episode Six – You’re Gonna Change (Or I’m Gonna Leave) – Recap

After last week’s show, which I said was a step in the wrong direction – I even said the episode landed with a thud, I took a look the ratings . From a high of 8.93 (Millions of viewers) which were the numbers for the pilot, the numbers declined.  Here is the chart:

Ratings

# Title Air date Rating/Share (18–49) Viewers (millions)
1 “Pilot” October 10, 2012 2.8/8 8.93[31]
2 “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love with You)” October 17, 2012 2.0/6 6.74[32]
3 “Someday You’ll Call My Name” October 24, 2012 2.0/6 6.54[33]
4 “We Live in Two Different Worlds” October 31, 2012 1.8/5 5.74[34]  
5 “Move It on Over” November 7, 2012 2.0/5 6.07[35]

Well they did decline. But after a slight uptick in Episode 5 – On Monday, November 12th, ABC announced that they had picked up the  series for the full season. That means 22 episodes. The decision may have been based on the uptick for Episode 5, or maybe the show runner showed them what could be expected as a way of goosing up the rating. Whatever the answer to that question is – I don’t know – I wasn’t at the meeting.

Nevertheless, the show did get the hoped for full season order, AND four new characters were introduced in Episode 6.  How things will go from here, ratings-wise, is not really what I’ll be concerned with in my recaps.  As I mentioned last week, I didn’t care for the super-short scene lengths. This episode had 39 scenes, so the average length was even shorter than the previous week.  But I rolled with it, and wasn’t bothered by it as much.

The Four new characters are:

Sean Butler – a professional football player. He’s a Quarterback and he’ll be involved with Juliette Barnes. Reid Olsen – a regional booker who watched Avery perform. Marilyn Rhodes – a  manager of music performers, and she’ll be getting it on with Avery. And one more, Liam McGinnis – a  bad boy in the music world who will produce Rayna’s album and more.

So shorter scene seems like the style they’ll go with, and that’s with another ingredient which I’ll call trashy. Now there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with adults doing adult things. That’s not where I’m coming from – what I felt was the fact that you can see and predict the directions that the characters will take. I think predictability isn’t something you want in a dramatic series – but we’ll have to give them a chance, won’t we?  Okay, so what happened in this week’s episode?

01 – The episode opens at the zoo. We’ll meet Sean Butler and Juliette Barnes is not the least bit happy about being here.  Nor is she thrilled about Butler.  But McKenna (the PR woman) tells Juliette that Butler is a NFL rookie QB and this is his fund-raiser. Being seen at this event, can only be seen as a positive, and we all know you need some good PR.

02 – Bucky and Rayna play the song which Rayna wrote. Hopefully they’ll like it and it will lead to Rayna’s getting to do a new studio album. Marshall Evans, the head of the label, likes what he hears and gives the go-ahead. He tells Rayna and Bucky that they may hire any producer they like from the list of label-approved producers.

03 – Teddy, Lamar, and Tandy, Rayna’s sister, discuss campaign plans. Teddy and Coleman are about to sign a ‘keep the campaign clean agreement’ publicly. Lamar suggests that small stop of Coleman Carlisle’s car for a minor traffic violation would delay his arrival, and Teddy could make good use of the time. Teddy demurs but Lamar reminds him that he had already agreed to do whatever it takes to become the Mayor. Tandy pipes in with ‘Campaigns are about creating opportunities‘.

04 – Avery and Scarlett are enjoying the fact that Avery and his band have a gig at the 5-Spot Club, and Reid Olsen is coming. He’s a regional booker (meaning he hires local talent to open for national touring stars – in this case – The Lumineers). Marilyn Rhodes, a talent manager, will also be on hand. This could be a major opportunity for Avery.

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Skyfall

Skyfall, the latest James Bond film opened in the US yesterday. They’re calling this event James Bond’s 50th Anniversary. Actually Bond is a bit older than 50 having made his 1st appearance in Ian Fleming’s novel, Casino Royale, which was first published on April 13, 1953. The 50th anniversary marks the length of Bond’s career in films.

Directed by Sam Mendes, and written by John Logan, Neal Purvis, and Robert Wade, the film opens with an exciting chase sequence involving cars racing and careening through Istanbul, Turkey. Then after the cars are rendered useless, they switch over to motorcycles, where they race across the roof tops, then finally Bond and his adversary go to hand-to-hand combat on the top of a moving train.

Fairly thrilling stuff? Certainly. But the exotic location of the Istanbul rooftops is becoming less of an exotic location and more commonplace and familiar as we’ve been on these very same rooftops in Taken 2 (released less than 5 weeks ago on October 5th, 2012) and The International (2009). This lengthy triple set piece is pre-credits and serves the film well as an introduction. What was the chase about – a hard drive was stolen from another MI6 agent’s laptop, and it contained the names and identities of all of the MI6 super spies – in short, Bond’s brothers-in-arms. But this hard drive is never seen or heard from again, aside from the fact that Bond is tasked to recovering it, and the list of agents becomes something of a MacGuffin. We do hear later on that 5 agents have been ‘outed’ or killed, rendering them useless.

Daniel Craig is on hand as Bond for the third time. Now I happen to like Craig as Bond, but this film runs a distant second to Casino Royale, Craig’s first go-round as Bond, James Bond. Craig himself runs a distant second to Connery’s Bond too, but that’s just a matter of taste.

After the opening we get the credits and the song – Adele sings Skyfall, and it is quite decent as a Bondian theme song, albeit very familiar. Familiar is a key word in this review, as much of the legendary Bond gimmicks are included. I think this film, Skyfall, is less of a new Bond film and more of a compendium of some of the old Bond-isms as well as a farewell to them. As someone else said –  The past becomes the present.

For example, we have a new Q – this time Q is a young lad, played by the 32-year-old Ben Whishaw, who looks 22 when Bond first meets him. He’s so strikingly young, that when Bond meets him in a museum, and after they go through the required codes about a specific painting, Q introduces himself:

Q: I’m your new quartermaster.
Bond: You must be joking …

Unfortunately, they’re not. Also unfortunately, they’ve changed up Q’s arsenal. He hands Bond a box containing what the Q Department believes is all of what Bond will need for the mission – a Walther PPK/S 9 millimeter short with a special hand grip coded from Bond’s palm print so that the gun will not fire if held by anyone other than Bond. And two – a small transmitter called – a radio. Gone are the days of cars that go underwater, and other assorted transportation/armament gadgetry that we’ve come to love and expect over the decades. They even make a joke of it:

Bond: That’s it?
Q: What did you expect, an exploding pen?

However, for all of us die-hard Bond fans the Aston Martin DB5, that we first met long ago in Goldfinger, is literally dusted off – it’s been kept in garage under a tarp – and is pressed into service. This is literally a walk-on, or should I say drive on – as all we see is the car leaving London, then arriving in a desolate Scottish Highland. Total screen time – less than 30 seconds.

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Nashville: Episode 5 – Move It On Over – Recap

Nashville – Episode 5 – Move it on Over hit the airwaves Wednesday night, November 7th, with a resounding thud. Even the news that Nashville is now available on all new Windows 8 PCs and tablets with a new app called ABC Player didn’t soften the thud. If the episodes are getting weaker, does that change merely by making the episodes available on more platforms than just TV? I don’t think so.

What I felt was the major problem this week was the choppiness. In the 42 minutes of air time (which left 18 minutes of promos and commercials, we had 32 scenes. That’s just under 1 minute 19 seconds per scene on average. Because of the songs being longer, the dramatic scenes were really even shorter on average. You can’t get your arms around any scene. They seem to simply whiz by. More scenes equals shorter scenes and that equals bad television.

01 – Episode 5 – Move it on Over opens at a recording session. Juliette Barnes sings with Deacon, now installed as band leader and more, on lead guitar. Barnes’s manager and PR rep are discussing what they say is Juliette’s major problem these days – her Mom. Barnes is not happy after 20 ‘takes’. The producer wants to call it a day citing the law of diminishing returns. He calls the 20 takes ‘perfect’. Barnes says, ‘I’ll tell you when we have a perfect take‘. In an aside to Deacon, she tells him that she’s counting the days till her Mom leaves. Deacon thinks he can help. Juliette just wants it , the Mom problem, to simply go away. Deacon tries to says let me talk to her. Barnes doesn’t want to hear it and leaves for parts unknown.

02 – Rayna is trying on a new dress. The label extends a peace-offering in the form of an ok to do a Best of Album. But Rayna wants to do an album with new songs. Teddy calls. He has a debate with Coleman.

Rayna offers to come to it, but Teddy says – you don’t need to. All of this flew by so quickly you might have a tough time even remembering the new dress’ color.

03 – Teddy meets the old girl friend who is scared of going to prison. Turns out that Peggy wants to go to the feds and fess up., You see, both Teddy and Peggy participated in an embezzlement of a land development project tied to a credit union. What got me about this is that last week, we were given every indication that this was about a love affair, rather than a business deal that went south on them.

04 – Rayna sings – American Beauty for the commercial. I can feel the freedom running through me. Not. There’s a problem about a change in the song’s structure that they needed to make to make the song fit the commercial – with Deacon who objects not only to the changes, but using the song for a commercial. Geez, I thought he knew that Teddy and Rayna were ‘cash poor’ so Rayna needed to earn some $$$ for doing the commercial.

05 – Gunnar’s gal friend at the music publishing house doesn’t want to come between Gunnar and Scarlett. Hayley believes, as do we, every time we watch Gunnar look at Scarlett, that he has deep feelings for her. He does – but he has to keep them submerged as Scarlett is with Avery, and committed to Avery. Gunnar and Scarlett are about to do a musical audition for a big music producer who works with Lady Antebellum.

06 – Barnes home. Where’s Momma – Drunk in bed with a strange man. Booze bottles and pills are in plain sight. That can’t be a good thing.

07 – When Juliette Barnes comes home and sees the new ‘domestic scene’, she loses it, and tosses the man out of the house. She then has a fight with Mom.

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Nashville – The ABC-TV Series So Far: Episodes 1 – 4

Long ago, oh say back in late 1975 a song was recorded by Ed Bruce. This song rose as high as Number 15 on the Billboard’s Hot Country Singles Chart. Written by Bruce and his wife Patsy Bruce, this song was what you might you’d call a mild hit.

Then in 1978, the song was covered by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson on their duet album, Waylon & Willie. This time the song had great legs, and by March of 1978, the song peaked at No. 1 and spent four weeks atop the Country Music charts. If that wasn’t enough, the song won the 1979 Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

The name of the song?

Thought you’d never ask – Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.

Here in November of 2012, a mere 37 years after Bruce and his wife wrote the song – I think a variation is needed. I’m going to call it, Mammas Don’t Let Your Daughters Grow Up to Be Singers. And what’s that got to do with the subject of this post – the ABC-TV hit series – Nashville?

Well darn near everything. There are three female actress/singer/songwriters on the show – the two leads: Connie Britton as Rayna James and Hayden Panettiere as Juliette Barnes, and in a supporting role, there’s Clare Bowen as Scarlett O’Connor. While each of these three are beautiful with varying degrees of success in their chosen field – Music – it all comes with a price.

Rayna James is the Queen of Country Music. She’s been at or near the top of Nashville aka Music City for two decades. But this year her cd sales are lagging, and some of her concerts have not been sold-out shows that could be described as packed-to-the-rafters. So the suits at the head of the label decide that Rayna needs a shot of youth at her side. They propose to her that she go out on tour with the nation’s biggest cross-over artist – Juliette Barnes.

James is incredulous – You want me to open for her? Yeah, we do, and we need your decision soon. Rayna stands and says, Well you can kiss my decision as it walks out the door. But Rayna James has tons of other issues besides her flagging cd sales and unfilled arenas. And these can be described in a single word – MEN. Let’s have a look.

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