Tag: marianne jean-baptiste

Mixtape (FOX) pilot preview: Life Bursting Into Songs

“Track I : Sam & Nellie” written and executive produced by Josh Safran (Quantico, Smash, Gossip Girl). Also produced by Megan Ellison (Her, Zero Dark Thirty, Foxcatcher, American Bluff) & Sue Naegle (Outcast). Directed by Jesse Peretz (Girls, GLOW, Divorce, Nurse Jackie, Juliet Naked). For FOX,  20th Century FOX Television & Annapurna Television. 66 pages. Third Network Draft. 1/09/2018.

Description: a romantic musical drama that looks at a disparate group of interconnected people in contemporary Los Angeles through the lens of the music that defines who they are. Mixtape captures the different stages of love, exploring if time can heal a broken heart and if love can withstand life’s tragedies…

With Raul Castillo (Looking, Seven Seconds, Atypical), Callie Hernandez (La La Land, Too Old To Die Young, Graves), Madeleine Stowe (Revenge, 12 Monkeys, The Last of the Mohicans), Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Without a Trace, Broadchurch, Blindspot), Jenna Dewan Tatum (Step Up, Witches of East End, American Horror Story), Jahmil French (Degrassi: The Next Generation), Megan Ferguson (Bad Moms, Heart of Dixie), Campbell Scott (House of Cards, Royal Pains, Damages, The Amazing Spider-Man), Evan Whitten & Christina Milian (Grandfathered)…


You’ll Like It If You Already Like: Smash, Rise, La La Land, This Is Us…

Likely timeslot: Somewhere midseason with a limited run


Every Song Is A Love Song“. That’s with those words that Mixtape starts… and ends. And a very beautiful and emotional demonstration ensues from our hero Sam. I’m not gonna lie and there’s no suspense anyway if you’ve seen those 5 stars up there: I fell in love with this script as you fall in love with a song. So everything in this review will only be displays of affection. I will keep it short, by the way. I hate it when songs are too long. But also, I’ll be walking -or more like dancing- on eggs here. There are things that has to be kept secret and I don’t want to spoil any surprise to anybody. That’s part of the reason why it’s so good. You never know where it’s going, like you never know what life is bringing upon you, good or bad. And when you finally get a sense of what’s really going on, you’re just happy to see it play before your eyes. Mixtape is not just another musical drama. At the core, it’s a love letter to music where life burst into songs.

Let me tell you first about the structure of this very unique pilot (and future show). It is broken up into five parts (acts), with every one of them containing one song: Nellie’s Side A, Sam Side A, Nellie Side B, Sam Side B, and finally their mashup; this development illuminates the overarching metaphor that weaves throughout the pilot: music is life, life is music. And there’s a lot of love and loss in between. It’s quite simple and very clever at the same time. I don’t remember anything like it before. Of course, every song expresses the feelings of the character who sings. That’s how we get to know them better, their profound fears, and desires, and pains, and sometimes joys. That’s how every musical works. Every song is a big number, with or without dancers, while life happens. The reference is obviously La La Land. They’re aiming at something as modern and somehow timeless too. Those songs are not originals and not even hits but more like the perfect song for the situation, even if it has to be a lesser known one from a famous or not so famous artist. If the directing is as good as the writing, we’re gonna have a lot of fun my friends, music lovers and others.

The characters happen to be very well-written too and their stories are both intimate and universal, as they should be. Nellie seems to be living the American Dream: she’s beautiful and her hot boyfriend’s band is catapulting into massive stardom. Nothing can get to her, until, on the eve of her third anniversary, fantasizing about being proposed to, her life explodes as her punk boyfriend dumps her. Her own dreams of becoming an artist have derailed along the way. Now, her life turns completely upside down. Meanwhile, Sam, a scrupulous and shattered widower, aspiring songwriter and secret romantic, who has been forced to move into low income housing with his son after his wife’s death, spends his time balancing jobs and fathering his bright-eyed son. He’s helped by his aunt and now neighbour, a warm, pragmatic woman in her fifties that loves him like her own daughter. There’s other women in there: Joanna, a young professional with everything always under control, the most rational person ever, and yet she’s a little guarded, as if always prepared for the worst; and Margot, an actress who carefully controls how she presents herself to the world, but is secretly exhausted by having to do it. All those characters are very human, attractive and appealing, fragile, sometimes shattered, simply beautiful. And that’s all I can say. Just know there’s a twist. It’s also this kind of show.

Again, Mixtape is a love letter to music where life burst into songs. I don’t know if it can be successful, it’s probably too ambitious to become a huge instant hit, but it doesn’t look like a one-hit wonder either. This script is pure beauty and artistry. Those characters need to be heard. Between La La Land & This Is Us, it may be the best thing network television will bring us next year. Prepare your eyes, your ears and your hearts to it!

“Blindspot” (NBC) pilot preview: the Blacktattoolist!


Written & produced by Martin Gero (Stargate SG1, Atlantis, Universe, The LA Complex). Executive produced by Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Flash, Brothers & Sisters) & Sarah Schechter (The Flash, The Mysteries Of Laura). Directed by Mark Pellington (Cold Case). For NBC, Warner Bros. Television & Berlanti Prods. 62 pages.

Description: a beautiful woman with no memories of her past is found naked in Times Square with her body fully covered in intricate tattoos. Her discovery sets off a vast and complex mystery that immediately ignites the attention of the FBI who begin to follow the road map on her body to reveal a larger conspiracy of crime while bringing her closer to discovering the truth about her identity…

With Jaimie Alexander (Thor, Agents of SHIELD), Sullivan Stapleton (Strike Back, 300 Rise of an Empire, Satisfaction), Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Without a Trace, Broadchurch), Rob Brown (Treme), Audrey Esparza (Black Box), Ukweli Roach (Grantchester)…

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You may not be familiar with Martin Gero yet but I bet his name is gonna count in the future of TV, whatever happens with Blinspot. After writing many episodes of sci-fi saga Stargate, some of HBO’s irresistible dark comedy Bored To Death, the interesting movie -let’s put it like that- Young People Fucking and the nice little show The LA Complex, which was worth a longer life in my opinion, here he is, entering pilot season with a script that shows the potential of a hit in the making. It’s no surprise if two of the most sought after actors, Thor‘s Jaimie Alexander and Strike Back‘s Sullivan Stappleton, chose to star in it. Two years ago, The Blacklist was THE show everybody in the business was talking about. And it became a hit of some sort. Blindspot might become this years’. And with genius Greg Berlanti as a producer, I don’t see how it could turn into something else than a series order, with NBC giving it a big promotional push (and a spot behind The Voice). You’re gonna hear about it a lot. You’ve been warned!

In its DNA, Blindspot shares a lot with The Blacklist (and a certain John Doe, for those who remember it). It’s the same kind of “go big or go home” pilot where nothing sounds realistic in any way but somehow it manages not to turn into a ridiculous disaster because it’s highly entertaining, fast-paced -doesn’t really give you time to think- and ambitious. It starts with a very intense and visual scene that is definitely gonna be remembered. When I say “Go big” I mean: a NAKED woman who goes out of a BAG in the middle of TIMES SQUARE in NEW YORK, covered with TATTOOS. Of course, everybody think it’s a human bomb ready to explode. Can you imagine something bigger than that to start a show? In comparison, the first scene of The Blacklist was just a walk in the park. Because it was probably not enough, there’s another story in parallel where our hero is saving a group of kidnaped women stuck in the attic of a house. Just for the sake of showing how great he is at his job. So you have in one hand a beautiful amnesiac woman, who is looking for answers about her past, and on the other hand a brilliant man of action, who needs to take care of her if he wants to catch the bad guys until there is none anymore in the surface of the Earth. And now you have a show to toy with in your hands.

I can’t definitely tell you how Blindspot will look like after the pilot but my guess is it will be like The Blacklist, a mix of procedural and serialized elements, thanks to the hundreds of tattoos on her body and their meanings. One bad guy will be caught every episode, with a bigger story told from time to time because there’s clearly a great conspiracy behind all this. A flashback is here to prove that, and a mysterious face in the shadows too. Classical elements, efficient. There are two main differences with The Blacklist though. Let’s start with the bad one: there is no Reddington in Blindspot. We’re missing a mastermind of that sort that cracks funny and cruel jokes while fascinates the audience and eveybody around him. But he could arrive later in the season… The good one is our Jane Doe is not the same as pretty boring and inexpressive Elizabeth Keen. She’s the fascinating one in fact. She has a lot of stories from her past to tell. A lot of secrets also. And so many skills. It’s already too much. Plus, she may not be the victim here… I don’t want to spoil anything but I’ll just say there is a connection between our two heroes, an obvious one after a few minutes. And the writer doesn’t wait for an entire season to tell us the truth about it. Many thanks for that!

Blindspot is an high octane thriller with two kick-ass characters at the center of it, that will please those who like action scenes as much as those who are more into suspense and mysteries (and you’re allowed to like both). It’s a no-brainer pick-up for NBC and truthfully, I’d watch it blindly.