The show formerly known as ‘Let’s Rob Mick Jagger’
Want a great name for a show? Try “Let’s Rob Mick Jagger,” which is a more fitting title for ABC’s new comedy than the name the show currently carries: “The Knights of Prosperity.” Even in the pilot, one character tells star Donal Logue “That name sucks!”
“Tao of Steve” star Logue leads a band of hapless if charming criminals who plan to rob the luxurious New York home of the Stones’ frontman. In fact, the show was briefly called “Let’s Rob…”, leaving the possibility open that the crew would rob other stars in the future. But the fragmented sentence didn’t work for the producers, who also thought finishing the thought with “Let’s Rob Mick Jagger” would oversell Jagger’s involvement. (The rocker filmed his cameo while on tour in New Zealand; the resulting footage is all in the pilot.)
The show seems fairly focused and the supporting cast is strong, even if their roles can be called sterotypes (the Middle Eastern cabby, the Brooklyn tough, the giant African-American man, the Latin-American hottie). But the way they go about their crime is engaging and there’s plenty of real laughs in the pilot. Said one producer “It’s a workplace comedy with a very odd workplace.” And Logue remains one of the few regular-looking, goofy guys on TV — though in person, he’s actually quite styling. At first I mistook the tech guy who came out to adjust the stars’ microphones for Logue, that’s how much I expect Logue to look like Joe Regular Dude.
Random tidbits from the robbery:
- The show was originally called “Let’s Rob Jeff Goldblum,” but Goldblum’s name was just tacked on sort of randomly. Goldblum didn’t know about this until publicity for the show broke.
- If you want to say Donal Logue’s first name correctly, just remember it has the same first syllable as “Donut.” However, Logue himself has been eschewing the donuts, he’s much thinner in person than he appears in the pilot. “Two words for Donal: Fat suit,” joked a producer.
- The producers admitted they thought Jagger would never agree to appear in the show, even doing joking imitations among themselves in which they’d mimic Jagger calling them. When he actually did, they found he “couldn’t have been nicer or more professional.”
Oh, baby: ‘Notes from the Underbelly’ finds pregnancy funny
Two of the most popular topics on Internet bulletin boards have got to be marriage and pregnancy. Going through these experiences is life-changing, and it’s natural that they would consume the thoughts of those involved. ABC is going after the engaged couples with “Big Day”; in “Notes from the Underbelly,” they do the same for the pregnant.
Jennifer Westfeldt, of Broadway’s “Wonderful Town” fame and the co-writer and star of “Kissing Jessica Stein,” plays the newly pregnant Lauren. Charming new face Peter Cambor plays the daddy-to-be (and freaks me out a little bit for his resemblance to an ex-boyfriend of mine). Real-life married couple Kim and Eric Tannenbaum (who both worked on “The Mullets,” yikes) and Stacy Traub are producers, and all have drawn from their own experiences with parenthood to create the show.
“I give this four episodes,” opined one critic to me quietly. There are some funny lines and situations in the pilot, mostly thanks to Rachael Harris, who’s one of the best reasons to catch reruns of VH1’s “I Love The 80s” and I Love The 70s.” I couldn’t help thinking the show would have been sharper had the acerbic Harris played the pregnant woman instead of the gauzily lovely Westfeldt.
- Critics did not have a lot of questions for this panel, perhaps due to its lack of familiar faces, or perhaps due to the fact that they’re not putting much hope into its chances. The clips shown before the panel were well-received, however, with laughter and applause, which isn’t always the case here.
- Although comedies are famous for tanking once a baby arrives (Jump The Shark.com has a whole section devoted to the concept), the producers have high hopes for life with baby, should the show eventually be renewed after ending this season with the birth. “Life gets even crazier and funnier [with a baby,”] said Kim Tannenbaum. Hmm, did she watch “Mad About You” post-baby Mabel?
- Star Jennifer Westfeldt isn’t looking to imitate her character and get knocked up any time soon. “I’ve got a dog, it’s a lot of responsibility,” she said with a laugh.
Anne Heche heads north to Alaska for ‘Men in Trees’
The plot for “Men in Trees” looks an awful lot like “Northern Exposure.” Neurotic, successful New Yorker finds self in Alaska, viewers are charmed by the quirky originality of the Last Frontier. Only instead of Rob Morrow playing a doctor, Anne Heche is playing an author of relationship books, and instead of being stuck in Alaska to pay for an education, her character chooses to be there after she’s dumped by her fiancé. As the media have drilled into our head, more men than women live in Alaska, although the idea that it’s ripe dating territory might be argued with by those poor ladies from the disastrous reality show “Looking for Love: Bachelorettes in Alaska.” An old saw about Alaskan men, “The odds are good, but the goods are odd,” makes it into the pilot (and was also tossed around on “Bachelorettes,” if my memory of that show is correct).
People have strong feelings about Anne Heche, thanks in part to her autobiography, “Call Me Crazy,” in which she discussed her alter ego, Celestia. (with all the standard caveats that Wikipedia can be edited by the public and cannot be held to be completely accurate) for enough sideplots to keep 10 soap-opera writers busy. Personally, I don’t know if any actress could have attracted me to Maren Frist, Heche’s whiny character, who’s a walking bad stereotype of the self-obsessed New Yorker. But several of her supporting cast members are charmers, including John Amos (“Good Times! Ain’t we lucky we got em?”) and Abraham Benrubi, a.k.a. giant desk clerk Jerry on “ER.”
“Men in Trees” producer and creator Jenny Bicks says she’s flattered to hear her show compared to “Northern Exposure,” but points out differences, including that the focus is on a woman and her journey of self-discovery. “It’s not really a show about finding each other [so much as about] finding yourself,” she said.
Gold nuggets found in Alaska:
- A nutty raccoon features prominently in the pilot. Bicks shared that at one point, the raccoon is played by a terrier in a raccoon suit, because the dog would run down the stairs as desired, whereas the raccoon would only lope. I wasn’t quite sure how they got the dog into a raccoon suit, but really, my fellow critics were dwelling much too much on the raccoon, so I wasn’t about to ask. “It is a mistake [the dog and raccoon] are not [on the p-panel],” said Bicks good-naturedly, after about the millionth raccoon-related question.
- Heche says she does not like to know what’s coming up for her character. It seemed at first like a joke, but later when Bicks began to describe an upcoming plot, Heche put her hands over her ears and did the “la la la, I can’t HEAR you” thing.
- Amos’ character is a pilot. Since he’s been memorably killed off both on “Good Times” and “West Wing,” a critic asked if he’s worried that a plane crash could be in his future. “The plane’s working fine,” Amos responded.
Sally Field acquires a few more ‘Brothers and Sisters’
A pilot of family drama “Brothers and Sisters” wasn’t provided to most critics, but the Associated Press says it “follows a close-knit family socially and financially intertwined by love, business — and secrets.” only recently joined the show, signing on to play the mom of five siblings, including Calista Flockhart (who spent the entire panel looking noticably wistful and sad).
It’s a star-studded cast in addition to Field and Flockhart. Ken Olin and Patricia Wettig, the married couple so memorable in many things, including “thirtysomething,” are involved here — Olin is a producer, Wettig an actor. Ron Rifkin (“Alias”), Marti Noxon (“Buffy”), Balthazar Getty, Rachel Griffiths and playwright Jon Robin Baitz are also involved. Oh, and my fellow “Reunion” fans: Dave Annable, “Reunion’s” cute computer geek, Aaron, is also one of the stars of this show.
- Flockhart plays a conservative radio talk-show host. When asked if she was anything like Ann Coulter, Ken Olin shot back, “She’s not Ann Coulter. She’s not insane.”
- Olin said that before it was decided that Flockhart’s character was to be a radio host, plans were to make her a baker in an cupcake factory.
- She’ll be 60 this November, but Sally Field, gorgeous in an all-white outfit, could still pass for “Gidget.” And “The Flying Nun” would not object to her language: Where a crasser actor would have found a blunter body-part term, Field delicately mentioned someone’s “hind end.”
When asked if the lack of a pilot for critics to see meant “Brothers and Sisters” was the season’s “troubled show,” Marti Noxon slyly parried with “We’re the private show.”