Ken Tucker's TV Prime-Time TV commentary

Tag: Book (1-9 of 9)

Why did Oprah matter? Will she ever again, on her OWN?

Unlike so many trumped-up celebrations of famous people, the three-day farewell to Oprah Winfrey taking place — where else? — on The Oprah Winfrey Show can scarcely be dismissed as self-congratulation or hype. READ FULL STORY

'Parks and Recreation' and its wonderfully charming Jonathan Franzen-'Freedom' joke

On the first of its back-to-back episodes this week, Parks and Recreation made an impeccable joke about Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. It was all the more impressive for being (a) a throwaway line that didn’t call attention to its own smartness, (b) not a dig at Franzen or his novel, and (c) totally in keeping with Leslie Knope’s character. READ FULL STORY

Ken Burns is making a 'Vietnam' documentary. Here are 5 things he should read before he does.

Ken Burns has found another war, one arguably as divisive as the one that made his career, the Civil War. PBS announced today that Burns is working with various collaborators on Vietnam, “a ten-to-twelve hour documentary film series about the history and meaning of the Vietnam War.” READ FULL STORY

Jon Stewart announces 'Rally To Restore Sanity' in Washington, D.C., for Oct. 30

Jon Stewart announced a “Rally To Restore Sanity” on Thursday night’s The Daily Show. He also called it, with a certain hopefulness, “A Million Moderate March.” Attempting to gather what he called the “70-to-80 percent” of Americans who aren’t extremists on the right or the left, Stewart invited viewers to come to Washington’s National Mall “on 10/30/10″ to embody common sense under the banner “Take It Down A Notch For America.”

Knowing that appealing to folks who are reasonable and usually “have s— to do,” unlike most protesters, Stewart said he’d READ FULL STORY

Christopher Hitchens and Anderson Cooper talk about cancer, God, and suicide

Last night on CNN, Anderson Cooper conducted a terrific interview with Christopher Hitchens, who was recently diagnosed with esophageal cancer while promoting his excellent new autobiography Hitch-22.

Hitchens is famous for, among other things, being a blunt-talking atheist and a ferocious dismantler of cant language. While it makes one’s heart ache to see Hitchens without his thick thatch of hair, he’s quietly funny in his lucid explanations of why he’ll try to avoid any death-bed conversions and READ FULL STORY

Alan Ball talks about new 'True Blood' comic-book series

True Blood will become a comic-book series this summer. IDW Publishing and HBO have announced the July release of True Blood as an ongoing comic with storylines that will be faithful to the mythology of the hit TV series but “different from” the show’s story lines. The TV show’s creator Alan Ball had this message for fans at this week’s WonderCon:

This sounds like a cool project. With artists such as READ FULL STORY

It's 'True Blood on Twitter Thursday'!


Proving once again that True Blood and Twitter (and, well, are taking over the culture, I take modest pride in informing you of “True Blood on Twitter Thursday.”

It’s a group of Blood fans who gather on Twitter and act out various characters and scenarios each week. This week, today, the “True Blood on Twitter Thursday” group will be performing, via Twitter, the winning entries of my Write Your Own True Blood Episode competition. Couldn’t be more proud. And congrats once again to the winners, “B.E.V.” and “TJ.”

You can check out the details and all the fun on True Blood on Twitter Thursday” here.

And keep getting ready for this Sunday’s season finale.

'A Year In The Life' of J.K. Rowling: from 'Harry Potter' to 'a political fairy tale'


Just as I sat down to write this, I saw a new Variety report that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has “jumped the $100 million mark in its first 24 hours.” More millions made from the imagination from J.K. Rowling, yet if there’s one thing you came away with after watching the documentary J.K. Rowling: A Year In The Life, it’s probably something along the lines of, “Jolly good for her.”

Rowling has long seemed one of the best sorts of literary superstars: hard-working yet unafraid to express the pleasure she takes in her success; possessor of, as she said in this film, a “short fuse” but also full of sly humor when she speaks. A Year In The Life was shown in Britain in 2007, and was overseen by novelist-filmmaker James Runcie. I’m still not quite sure if I don’t believe the scenes of her typing the last words of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows weren’t re-staged for the camera crew, but even if they were, who cares? What came across was a complicated, likable person, a writer who has worked very hard and, to judge from some of the questions Runcie put to her, still does.

There’s no reason, for example, for Rowling to have to answer whether she believes in God, especially when her response is a slightly tortured, tentative, “Yeeeees,” as though she was trying to re-convert to her original faith right in front of us. But that’s one reason she’s so charming: unpretentious (with a fondess for expensive high heels), blunt (she hasn’t had any contact with her father “for a few years”), and emotional. Runcie knew what he was doing when he saved the last bit — a visit to the small apartment where she wrote the first Potter book and she began quietly weeping, saying that her life had  been “very hard” and this was the place where she turned her life around.

The bestselling author she reminds me of most is Stephen King, in the sense of being enormously popular, prolific, and wealthy, and also down-to-earth and a force for good in the popular culture. She’s generous with charity; she speaks her mind about social issues she’s passionate about (though she was careful not to attempt any proselytizing during this prime-time hour). No recluse, probably a good cook (that birthday cake she was making for one of her kids looked yummy), and at work, she said, on “a political fairy tale.” Jolly good for her. And, therefore, for us.

Did you watch? What did you think?

James Frey to Craig Ferguson: 'I'm happy to be notorious,' plus what he said about Tom Cruise

James Frey gave a rare and revealing interview to Craig Ferguson last night on the Late Late Show. The author, whose 2003 memoir A Million Little Pieces brought a hailstorm of criticism for charges of inaccuracy, most notably in a 2006 TV interview with Oprah Winfrey, has apparently come to terms with his reputation. Check it out: 

Due to his various addictions, “I didn’t remember [various details] so I just made it up,” was how Frey summarized his Pieces experience to Ferguson. “I’m perfectly happy to be notorious,” he said. He was put at ease by Ferguson, who has spoken openly about his own struggles with drugs and drink, and will himself publish an autobiography in September called American On Purpose.

Frey was promoting the paperback release of his novel Bright Shiny Morning. At one point, Ferguson asked whether the Morning character Amberton Parker, whom Frey described on the Late Show as “a gay movie star with children,” was modelled on Tom Cruise. Frey agreed that he “thought Tom Cruise” while writing the character. Strikingly, the studio audience laughed and clapped at this. 

Frey made no reference to a deal announced this week, in which he will collaborate with another, unnamed writer on a six-book science-fiction series, the first of which, I Am Number Four, has been optioned by director Michael Bay.

For more on James Frey:

Michael Bay and DreamWorks to partner on James Frey sci-fi project

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