Thursday, July 30, 2015

KCRW's The Spin-Off: "Homeland" Producer Alex Gansa on Emmys, Season 5, Social Media

On the latest edition of KCRW's The Spin-Off, we talk to "Homeland" executive producer Alex Gansa on how the show rebounded in Season 4-- and how bad buzz from Season 3 motivated them. The show is back in the Emmy race, and Gansa is now in the middle of producing next season. Details:

When Homeland creators Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon were first developing the drama, their goal was to devise a story so compelling, that by the end of the first season, viewers would be cheering for the terrorist to flip the switch on rotten, fictional American politicians.

The broadcast networks said no thanks, but the show found a home at Showtime, where it's been a powerhouse drama ever since. Many critics felt the show's storyline faltered in its third season, but Gansa says he tries not to let that feedback impact him too negatively while a season is in progress, so he now avoids reading online criticism of his show until an entire season has wrapped.

When Gansa joined us in the studio, he talked about the tough decision to let go of Damien Lewis's character Brody, and what that meant for then starting a fourth season of the show with a clean slate and almost entirely new cast.

He also addresses some of the most controversial scenes from that fourth season, including one particular one that Gansa and his team spent five solid days editing, just to make sure they could get the tone and sequence exactly right.

Gansa also gives some hints as to what's to come for Season 5, which is filming in Berlin as we speak. The topics they'll tackle this year come from real-life inspiration like privacy concerns and Edward Snowden. And while the show has previously used locations like South Africa to fill in for Pakistan, this time they'll actually be shooting in the city where the story is set. After all, Gansa tells us, “Berlin is a great spy town."

Listen below!


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

License Plate of the Day: Late 80s SNL Edition

License plate

Is someone in Chicago a big fan of the Dana Carvey/Dennis Miller/Nora Dunn/Jan Hooks era of "Saturday Night Live"? Is this Nora Dunn's car? Hmm.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Rate-A-Restaurant #348: Nookies (Chicago)


Restaurant: Nookies

Location: 1746 N. Wells (Chicago)

Type of restaurant: Coffee Shop/Diner


We stipulated: Looking for a simple, late lunch near our hotel in Lincoln Park.


They stipulated: "Situated in the Heart of Chicago’s Old Town, Nookies Restaurant first opened its doors as 'Nookies Snack Shop,' in 1973. Two co-workers, Spiros Alexopoulos, a recent immigrant from Greece, who used to work as a server in a Lincoln Park restaurant, and Ralph Fisher, a cook, joined forces to open what was to become one of Chicago’s favorite diners. The original snack shop was equipped with a deli and an ice cream parlor, and seated only a handful of patrons. Spiros and Ralph named it “Nookies” as in a breakfast nook, although the innuendos of the name where not lost on passersby and local patrons."


What we ordered: Maria: Chicken Piccata (Lightly breaded, sauteed with tomatoes and a lemon caper sauce) $12.45; Mike: Blackened Chicken (Coated with cajun spices, topped with mango chutney) $12.45; Kids: Burger (Lightly seasoned charbroiled and served with lettuce, tomato and pickle) $8.95; kids' spaghetti $3.95


High point:  The blogger kid 2.0's spaghetti with meat sauce was delicious and extremely cheap. Also, loved the '70s/'80s music soundtrack.

Low point:  They didn't accept American Express.


Overall impression: Old fashioned diner, complete with comfort food. Nice vibe.


Will we return: If we stay at the Hotel Lincoln again, I'm sure we'd stop by at some point.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

KCRW's The Spin-Off: The Last Man on Earth / Togetherness / Portlandia Edition

On the latest bonus edition of KCRW's The Spin-Off, we replay the audio from my Emmy For Your Consideration panel featuring the people behind Fox's "The Last Man on Earth," IFC's "Portlandia" and HBO's "Togetherness." I wrote about it back in May; now you can listen to it too! Details:

Members of the panel included Carrie Brownstein and Jonathan Krisel from Portlandia, star and creator of Last Man on Earth Will Forte, and Mark and Jay Duplass from Togetherness. For years the Duplass brothers were known for their work in indie film. They kicked the conversation off by telling Schneider how they got drawn into working on television projects.

Listen below!


Big Emmy Winners Include KMEX, Jon Weisman and Variety


Well, how about that. Two of my favorite former Variety colleagues (FYI, you're all my favorites) took home Emmy gold on Saturday night! I've been writing about the Los Angeles Area Emmy awards for years, but this year it truly hit home: Jon Weisman won the Emmy for Outstanding Sports Feature, having served as an associate producer on Time Warner Cable SportsNet L.A.'s "10,000 Wins" (on Access SportsNet Dodgers). And "Variety Studio: Actors on Actors," including executive producer Donna Pennestri (above, right), won the Outstanding Entertainment Programming Emmy on behalf of PBS SoCal.

Meanwhile, Spanish-language L.A. TV won the day in most of the key categories: NBC-owned Telemundo station KVEA won the top prize, the Regularly Scheduled Daily Evening Newscast (7 pm to Midnight) Emmy for Noticiero Telemundo 52 A Las 11 PM. Univision-owned KMEX won the Emmy for best morning newscast (4 am to 11 am) for Primera Edicion. And KMEX's 6 p.m. newscast tied with KVEA's 5:30 p.m. newscast for best daytime news.

KMEX led all stations with 9 awards, also including outstanding editor-programming (Antonio Camberos), outstanding news director (Horacio Cervantes), outstanding sports reporting (Diana Alvarado), outstanding investigative news reporting, outstanding hard news reporting (Antonio Valverde), outstanding light news story- multi-part report, and outstanding serious news story - multi-part report.

KVEA followed with seven Emmys, then Time Warner Cable SportsNet L.A. (six) and KTLA (five). KCBS' Pat Harvey was given the Governors' Award.
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