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By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 16, 2012

Celeste Holm has passed away (one obit is here), which means that another vibrant, intelligent screen presence is gone. I have long admired Holm's work, especially in "Gentleman's Agreement." That's one of those movies where, at the end, I was convinced that the wrong people had ended up together. Even if Dorothy McGuire had an epiphany, she was less deserving of Gregory Peck than Holm was.

That led me to think again about wrong matches in movies. Another example: Winona Ryder in "Reality Bites." Maybe it's because I have watched the movie as a grownup, but it seemed that Ben Stiller was better for Ryder than Ethan Hawke. And my friend George Thomas noted that Molly Ringwald should have ended up with Jon Cryer in "Pretty in Pink." There may be more. Any thoughts?

Cool interview with Michael Keaton here.

Release planned of some Hank Williams live performances. From the official word:

Live albums are commonplace today, but tape recording was in its infancy during country music legend Hank Williams’ lifetime. The equipment was cumbersome and tape was expensive, so very little live recording was done back then. Incredibly, two concerts performed by Williams were recorded in the months before his death and will be released for the first time as Hank Williams: The Lost Concerts Limited Collector’s Edition on October 2nd (Time Life). The collection includes 19 tracks as well as Hank’s revealing conversations with the audience, introducing songs and telling anecdotes about his life. As a bonus feature, a radio interview Williams did in 1951 has been added to the CD, one of very few in existence.

As is all too common with my columns for the Channels section on Sunday, my piece about "Political Animals" is not online -- or I in my clumsy way cannot find it. So here's the text:

Writer-producer Greg Berlanti has had a hand in a couple of noteworthy family dramas, Everwood and Brothers & Sisters, shows that would use the dynamics among parents, children, friends, colleagues and, yes, brothers and sisters, to deal not only with emotional matters but political and cultural ones.

What’s curious about his latest project, Political Animals, is that it reverses the formula of those previous shows. This time, as the title of the show indicates, there is an obvious current of politics through which the problems of a family become more evident.

The six-hour “event drama,” which premieres at 10 tonight on USA Network, stars Sigourney Weaver as Elaine Barrish Hammond, a former first lady and unsuccessful contender for the presidency who becomes secretary of state in the administration of Paul Garcetti (Adrian Pasdar), who beat Hammond for the Democratic presidential nomination. (Insert your favorite ripped headline here.)

Elaine has divorced her ex-president husband Bud (Ciaran Hinds) but he is still a force in politics and a savvy player in it. The Hammonds also have two sons, the focused Douglas (James Wolk) who works for his mother and the troubled T.J. (Sebastian Stan) whose behavior always seems to be one headline away from derailing his family.

Then there’s Elaine’s mother, Margaret (Ellen Burstyn), an unbridled talker reminiscent not only of Barbara Bush but of the Nixon era’s Martha Mitchell. And Elaine has to contend with Garcetti, whose agendas are not necessarily hers; the diplomatic currents of her job; and Susan Berg (Carla Gugino), a newspaper writer who has made life miserable for the Hammonds in the past and may be ready to do so again.

That’s a lot to squeeze into the program’s first telecast, which is all I have seen, and which contains even more than what I have mentioned. But the premiere still felt flat; the dialogue was often wooden, and some of the plot turns were unbelievable, especially in a show that tries to have some reality to it.

Weaver, who has been known to steal a scene or two (look at how she takes over the movie Working Girl), is a little too stolid here — especially when Hinds or Burstyn is on camera. Those two are the most entertaining elements of a series that seems constantly to wobble between earnestness and soapy excess, without settling into one or the other.


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