Tag: nathalie kelley

Dynasty (The CW) pilot preview: Another Lazy Reboot No One Asked For

Written and produced by Josh Schwartz (The OC, Gossip Girl, Chuck, Hart of Dixie), Stephanie Savage (Fastlane, Gossip Girl, The OC, The Carrie Diaries) & Sallie Patrick (Revenge, Limitless, Life Unexpected). Based on the show created by Richard & Esther Shapiro. Directed by Brad Silberling (Jane The Virgin, No Tomorrow). For CBS Television Studios & Fake Empire. 59 pages. Studio Draft. 12/18/16.

Description: Two of America’s wealthiest families, the Carringtons and the Colbys, feud for control over their fortune and their children, starting with Fallon Carrington, daughter of billionaire Blake Carrington, and her soon-to-be stepmother, Cristal, a Hispanic woman marrying into this WASP family, exposing the dark underbelly that is a corrupt world built on backroom deals, betrayal, and, in some cases, murder…

With Nathalie Kelley (The Vampire Diaries, UnReal, Body of Proof), Elizabeth Gillies (Victorious, Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll), Grant Show (Melrose Place, Devious Maids), Sam Adegoke (Switched at Birth, Murder in the first), Alan Dale (Ugly Betty, Lost, Once Upon a Time), Rafael de la Fuente (Empire, When We Rise), Robert Christopher Riley (Hit the Floor)…

 

You’ll like if you already like: Revenge, Gossip Girl, Empire

Likely timeslot: Monday at 9 or Friday at 8 or 9

 

When Dynasty started in 1981 I wasn’t born yet, not even conceived. Maybe my parents haven’t even met yet. Growing up, I watched a lot of television and a lot of soap operas in particular, but never this one despite the multiple reruns. I came across some of Dallas –and was a fan of the recent follow-up- have fond memories of Knots Landing and loved Melrose Place more than anything. Why am I telling you this about my life? To make a point. I feel like we, millenials, couldn’t care less about Dynasty, even though it was a huge hit in the 80s and is considered as cult. It’s too old. Really. For us, it’s just shiny earrings, sparkly outfits, incredible haircuts and crazy catfight scenes. But not something that we’re really curious about and certainly not a show we would watch in a heartbeat. Unless I missed something, The CW isn’t targeting people over 40. So I don’t understand why this pilot has been picked-up…

Okay, I’m not stupid. Deep down I know. It’s about milking CBS Television Studios’ library at all costs (same reason why Hawaii Five-0MacGyver came back to life and why Charmed is poised to be next on the list). But seriously? No one asked for this and no one will watch it. Even if you promote it like crazy. If Dallas didn’t last long on TNT, then Dynasty is doomed on The CW. It doesn’t fit. It’s as simple as that. Plus, I feel like it’s coming at the worst time possible. Most networks decided it was time to make more shows that reflect the “real” America, the middle-America that voted for Trump. The people who watch This Is UsDynasty is the opposite of that. It’s about the 1% of American who are rich. There was a time -especially in the 80s, “The Reagan Era”- when it was all people cared about. They were fascinated by wealth. Today? Not so much anymore. Dynasties still appear everywhere, from reality TV -hello dear Kardashians!- to the polling booths. But they don’t fascinate anymore. Not in the same way at least. And straight soap operas like Dynasty, without anything that makes them special like Empire, are just dead.

It’s not that Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage didn’t try to modernize Dynasty. They just didn’t try hard enough. What they did was adding diversity to the exact same concept and script. Or should I say: adding colours. Sorry but it is what it is. So our heroine is no longer called Krystle but Cristal and she’s hispanic, something that is not even vaguely adressed in the pilot. She just is. Which is defensible. The Carringtons are still white but the Colbys are black now. Finally, to spice things up, Steven Carrington is still gay but he’s totally out of the closet and it doesn’t seem to be a problem -he’s still a trainwreck though, the black sheep of the family, but it’s not because of his sexuality apparently- while his principal love interest Sammy Jo is no longer a woman (played by Heather Locklear at the time) but a young gay man, who’s still looking for easy money and troubles. Don’t get me wrong: it’s all okay! It makes sense, those are good moves and not making them would have been heavily criticized. BUT it’s all there is. That’s where the modernization begins and ends.

On the plus side, it’s mostly efficient, like the original pilot was. Except the beginning of the opening sequence. It’s just two minutes long tops but two minutes that are really not engaging, with people talking about the solar system, green energies… Please cut this. Many viewers will change the channel immediately! You can’t just start with this. Most of the plots are tired, cliché. That’s what happens when you decide to copy/paste a 35 years-old pilot script. We know the tricks. Dynasty must have been one of the first soap operas to perform them, but time has past and other shows that came and went used them in the meantime. So it’s predictable. Even if the end has been changed. There’s a death. Won’t say who. But damn, adding a murder mystery is not what I would call a wild and original idea…

About the tone, it can be funny sometimes. Especially with Joseph Anders, the estate manager of the Carrington family, who’s a really amusing guy who clearly hates Cristal and isn’t afraid to show her everytime he has the chance. And the catfights between Fallon and Cristal are quite enjoyable on paper, as they should be. I wouldn’t say there’s anything really daring in this version of the show, unless if you still consider that showing two men kissing and making love is daring, as well as suggesting that Fallon’s pussy is being eaten out by her african-american chauffeur in one scene. How shocking!

This Dynasty reboot feels lazy. It’s like putting makeup on a tired old lady. She looks better with the makeup on but it doesn’t really hide the fact that she’s old and tired. It doesn’t have the freshness, the cleverness and the relevance of a Jane the Virgin, neither the nostalgic vibe of a Riverdale. it’s more like Revenge, without much of a concept and new ideas. A hot and charismatic cast would certainly help but it’d still be a mistake for The CW to bet on it next year, unless they really have nothing better to offer…

Cruel Intentions (NBC) pilot preview: Is this the ultimate soap opera?

Sarah Michelle Gellar in a scene from the film 'Cruel Intentions', 1999. (Photo by Columbia Pictures/Getty Images)

Created by Roger Kumble (Cruel Intentions 1 & 2), Lindsey Rosin & Jordan Ross. Based on novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses & movie Cruel Intentions. Directed by Roger Kumble (Pretty Little Liars, The Sweetest Thing, Just Friends). Produced by Roger Kumble, Pavun Shetty (New Girl), Neal H. Moritz (Cruel Intentions, Fast and Furious, Prison Break, I Am Legend), Becky Hartman Edwards (Parenthood, Switched at Birth, American Dreams), Lindsey Rosin & Jordan Ross. For NBC, Sony Pictures Television, Original Film & AMBI. 65 pages.

Description: The beautiful and cunning Kathryn Merteuil vies for control of Valmont International as well as the soul of Bash Casey, the son of her brother, the late Sebastian Valmont, and Annette Hargrove. Upon discovering his late father’s legacy in a hidden journal, in search of answers, Bash trades his small-town Kansas upbringing for a scholarship to the prestigious Brighton Preparatory Academy in San Francisco and soon finds himself in a world of sex, money, power, and corruption he never could have imagined.

With Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy, Ringer, I Know What You Did Last Summer), Taylor John Smith (Insidious 3, American Crime), Kate Levering (Drop Dead Diva), Samantha Logan (The Fosters, 666 Park Avenue), Nathalie Kelley (UnReal, Body of Proof), Coby Bell (Burn Notice, The Game), Peter Gallagher (The OC, Covert Affairs), Sophina Brown (Numb3rs, Shark), Taylor ZakharBryce Cass

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I feel exactly the same as you probably do about sequels of all sorts. And when it comes to giving an unnecessary follow-up to a movie that is cult for me, that takes me back to my teenage years and that I still enjoy watching from time to time, I’m like a papa bear: I feel protective, the whole idea makes me angry and sad. Cruel Intentions was an awesome movie when it came out in 1999, bold and racy. At a time when you question your sexuality, your confused desires, it was certainly unsettling, disturbing and thrilling. Writer and director Roger Kumble kept the best from Les Liaisons Dangereuses and turned it into a modern and generational tale of power struggle and perversion. It was powerful and cunning and became a boxoffice success, grossing $75 million on a $10.5 million budget. So I read the pilot script of this sequel with a mix of tremendous excitement and terrible fear. And oh boy, I’m relieved to tell you Cruel Intentions the series looks like something primetime soap opera lovers could love to death. Even though we had many disappointments in that department the past few years like RevengeEmpire proved recently there is still an audience for it as long as it’s assumed as such, with wittiness and a bit of insanity. And that’s what’s Cruel Intentions is offering.

First, remember there was a first attempt to make it a TV series for FOX in 2000, which was a prequel that took place several years before, back to when Kathryn first met Sebastian at a prestigious school, called Manchester Prep. They filmed three episodes and it got cancelled even before it premiered. Episode 3 reportedly outraged FOX chairman Rupert Murdoch because of a scene where the character of Cherie has an orgasm while riding a horse. Yes, maybe it was a bit too much. But still, it could have been a really cool teen show, distinctive from what was already on the air at the time like Dawson’s Creek or Buffy. A better Gossip Girl, way before Gossip Girl. In the end, it was transformed into a TV movie entitled Cruel Intentions 2. What happened was a shame and we can see this sequel as Roger Kumble’s revenge, especially since what is depicted in the show is not as difficult to imagine on network television as it was 15 years ago. In the event of another failure, we can still hope for a release of the pilot one way or another. And Sarah Michelle Gellar’s still very active fans will probably campaign for it. But let’s be hopeful for now!

The idea of this sequel came from Roger Kumble himself, as well as Lindsey Rosin and Jordan Ross who wrote The Unauthorized Musical Parody Of Cruel Intentions, whose staging at Los Angeles’ Rockwell Table & Stage in May 2015 generated some buzz and drew Reese Witherspoon, Gellar and co-star Selma Blair, who all attended. The new writers loved the movie, it really shows when you read the script. They tried their best to stay true to the characters, especially to Kathryn Mertueil and Annette Hargrove since they’re coming back, and true to the vibes the movie sent. And they did a great job in my opinion. There’s not a moment when you think “Oh, Kathryn would have never done that!”. They make several allusions to the past, with scenes that mirrors what happened 15 years ago but with the new generation -especially one where Bash leaves Kansas in his car with the diary of his late father on the passenger seat, while the iconic Bittersweet Symphony starts to unfold. But they’re not telling the same story all over again. They update it and move forward.

You got “the parents”, still at war despite appearances, with Kathryn still holding a grudge against Annette who ruined her reputation and made her life a living hell for quite some time. She’s still savory and totally insane, now living with a rich man she’s not in love with anymore but who’s too precious to lose in her great scheme of things. And rest assured, she still got the best lines. Sarah Michelle Gellar can only thrive on this. Some might think it’s sad for her, a step back in her career but let’s be honest: refusing to reprise the role would have been a mistake, whatever happens next. Annette is more or less the same nice gal. But she’s not played by Reese Witherspoon anymore and of course that’s a real concern. We will have to get past this, as hard it is. We can only hope this part of the show will be taken care of as well as in The OC, equally.

The kids, living in the era of Twitter, Snapchat, sextapes, are more promiscuous than ever, still confused and adventurous. Bash is the perfect mix between his smart and innocent mother and his smart and devious father. I don’t know if this Taylor John Smith is any good but he can do wonders with what he’s given. Cassidy, Kathryn’s daughter-in-law, is sexy and bitchy, but I think her ex-boyfriend is way more refreshing. He is gay now and I would compare him to Connor from How To Get Away With Murder. The same kind of manwhore, which is still very new on television. I guess we’ll have a lot of fun with him. He’s funny… and cruel. But they all are, that’s the beauty of it. There’s a huge cliffhanger at the end of the pilot. My lips are sealed. I’m not sure the production will be able to keep it a secret (or will even try?) but it won’t please everybody, that’s for sure. Me, I think it’s bold and probably too hard resist to…

I could elaborate on this Cruel Intentions sequel even more but I don’t want to spoil the whole thing. I’m asking you not to be afraid. It’s the soap we’re waiting for a long time. The ultimate soap? Dangerous Liaisons kinda is, after all. It’s respectful to the movie, it’s full of twists and turns, it’s funny and racy, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and you shouldn’t watch it too seriously either. It’s exactly what you secretly want and hope for. Trust Me. Of course, with all the Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars and Revenge that came and went, it doesn’t feel like it’s this original. But it’s better written. It’s not surprising NBC chose this soap project among all of those they developed. You can hardly do better than this! That being said, it doesn’t fit with the network. At all. And I’m not entirely sure people who didn’t watch the movie at the time, because they were too young or already too old, are willing to give it a chance. You can’t say no to a script like this but casting will be crucial… NBC’d better not be cruel. We need this and we didn’t even know it for all those years!

Urban Cowboy (FOX) pilot preview: The same old tired rodeo…

URBAN

Written, directed & produced by Craig Brewer (Black Snake Moan, Footloose, Terriers, Empire). Also produced by Sue Naegle (Outcast), Chris Levinson (Tyrant, Charmed, Dawson’s Creek, Law & Order) & Robert Evans (Sliver, Chinatown, The Godfather). Based on 1980 movie Urban Cowboy. For Paramount Television & 20th Century FOX Television. 57 pages.

Description: Juan Miguel, a country boy from Mexico, known as “El Tornado” in the rodeo world, moves illegally in Houston, Texas, with his baby sister, after their parents have been killed because of a cartel. Now they have to change their identity -he becomes Kyle- and start anew with the help of their uncle, Al. At the popular local bar called Gilley’s, he meets the daughter of the owner, Gaby, a young immigrant lawyer, who’s taking over the business since her dad is dying. There’s a spark between them… This is the story of young lovers as they pursue their dreams and passions through the dust of the rodeo, the grime of the oil refineries, the sweat of line-dancing in honky tonks, the glamour of modern Texas, but the drug cartels are never far from them…

With Alfonso Herrera (Sense8, Terminales, El Equipo, El Diez), Nathalie Kelley (UnREAL, Body Of Proof), Jim Belushi (According to Jim, Red Heat), Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica, Blade Runner), Lindsey Gort (The Carrie Diaries, Impastor), Riley Smith (The Messengers, 90210, True Blood), Billy Miller (General Hospital, The Young & The Restless), Bryana Salaz

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While every network, especially NBC, is looking for the next Empire, a soap that will draw huge numbers and become a phenomenon -can lightning strike twice?- FOX is already searching for a suitable companion for Empire, since Rosewood is just a temporary solution that will collapse sooner or later, and move to another night (where it will get cancelled eventually). They speed up the process and picked-up two pilots: Star, from Empire‘s Lee Daniels, but without a script ready at the time the shooting is postponed to december, and Urban Cowboy, based on the 1980 movie with John Travolta & Debra Winger. The first one is musical while the second one only contains one little musical element. But it’s a soap, meant to attract latino viewers the same way Empire did with african-americans. Urban Cowboy has just finished shooting. FOX should decide in the next few days if they order it to series, probably for a spring launch.

Urban Cowboy‘s pilot script doesn’t really convince me that it is THE ONE. It’s just not good enough. And it doesn’t have any Cookie in it. In many ways, it reminded of Blood and oil, the soap ABC just launched with mediocre ratings, and of course Dallas, not just because it is set in Texas, with a oil refinery component -‘cos apparently Texas economy only revolves around oil and nothing else- but also because it’s the same old tired story of drug cartels screwing everything up that was the worst part of the Dallas remake. The dialogues are dull, the characters are too kind and innocent -of course there is one villain or two- and it misses the key of Empire‘s success: the fun! Urban Cowboy is only fun (and sexy) when the character of Vivian (played by Lindsey Gort), a young woman with the western style -jeans, vest with fringe and hat- comes into action to shake things up a little bit. A classic love triangle between Kyle, Gaby and him is to expect. And to be clear: every development of the pilot is predictable.

My biggest concern about the show it could become is the fact that it is based prominently on a love story between the two leads. It’s okay for a romantic movie or even a romantic TV comedy, but for a drama, especially a soap, it can turn into a curse. Of course there are secondary characters and many other stories to tell, but the central focus of the writers will be making them a couple -there are still not at the end of the pilot- and then making them marry like in the movie and then break up. And then what? Putting them back together? I’m already fed up with it and it hasn’t even started yet! And it’s not like the other stories are that promising either. Even though the show starts with Kyle’s sister Ana Sofia -later known as Anita- playing the piano and writing a song, the musical part doesn’t really exist as of now. Sure, she’s listening to an Ariana Grande song with her cousin at some point, but that’s all. Of course, it will be revisited but it’s not enough to make a good pairing with Empire. Plus the fact that there is not any african-american character. It’s either you do a show for latinos or for black people but you can’t mix them. That’s stupid and sad. Studio City did that, but FOX didn’t want it past pilot season, for reasons still unknown.

Urban Cowboy could have been an interesting soap with more time to develop it and maybe another writer, ‘cos the rodeo background is a good idea. But in the end, it’s just the same thing we’ve already seen failing a thousand times. FOX probably rushed things to have something to pair Empire with but they didn’t bet on the right horse. We’ll see if they order it to series but don’t hold your breath on this one…