Tag Archives: “Dexter”

Craig T. Nelson’s Loss Was Ed O’Neill’s ‘Modern Family’ Gain

Ed O'Neill ABC photo

Ed O'Neill ABC photo

The raft of rave reviews that preceded Ed O’Neill’s “Modern Family” sitcom onto the ABC lineup this week are being received with a mixed response by the actor.

“It’s kind of spooky,” says the man who first found television fame as Al Bundy on the long running “Married, With Children.”  “I’m not used to such good fortune. I’ve never had a show that’s come out of the gate like this.  It seems too good to be true.”

It was too good to be true at first.  Ed reveals that the creators of the hilarious   three-generation sitcom offered him the starring part before it had even been written.  But it turned out the network wanted Craig T. Nelson as the lead, “and it was only when that didn’t work out,” says Ed, “that they came back to me.  I told my manager, ‘Make the deal — it’s too good a show to pass up.”

It wasn’t the first time fate played a happy hand on Ed.  “The hardest job I never got was David Milch’s “Deadwood.” he says. “I was slated to play the lead, but it turned out that HBO didn’t want me.  There was no point in asking why.  But about 15 minutes after I got the word that I wasn’t doing the show received a call from producer Dick Wolf who was doing a remake of ‘Dragnet.‘  Danny Huston was supposed to star, but backed out and here was Dick telling me, ‘I need you to play Joe Friday.’ Joe, of course, was the lead.”

O’Neill reveals, “I’m rarely the first pick, and there have been times that that’s been really upsetting.  But it didn’t put me to bed.  After a day or two I would shrug it off.  I’d be crazy if I didn’t consider myself one of the lucky actors.   At first, after ‘Married,With Children,’ there was the tendency to typecast me, but I never took it personally.  I just kept going forward and thought that eventually I’d be able to get away from the role of Al Bundy.  And I have.  And that’s enabled me to get out of the system money-wise, where I don’t have to do jobs I don’t want to do just because I need the money.  Indeed, I am lucky.”

THAT’S WHY THEY CALL IT ACTING:  When you’re an actor on a series doing love scenes with the actress who is married to the star of the show in real life, it would seem things might get a little nerve-wracking.  But David Ramsey – guitar-playing, pot-smoking confidential informant Anton Briggs to “Dexter” fans – makes it sound as if he and Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter take it all in stride. 

 “Love scenes in general are awkward.  I don’t know that it’s more awkward,” he tells us.  “You try to be careful in scenes where you have to kiss, to make sure you haven’t had hot dogs that day or whatever.” 

 According to Ramsey, there’s lots more of Anton and Debra (Dexter’s sister) ahead on this season of the Showtime hit, which has its season premiere Sunday (9/27).  “The writers, to their credit, aren’t going for the same type of shock value they did last year in terms of something life-threatening happening to Anton,” divulges the actor – whose character, last year, was nearly skinned alive.  This season “delves into the psychology of Debra and Anton’s relationship.  He’s the calm in the storm for her.  The major challenge between Debra and Anton this season is how she sees herself as not really worthy of love.  She has a major problem with her self-worth.  That fact becomes illuminated by Frank Lundy (Keith Carradine) coming back into her life.”

 THE INDUSTRY EYE:  Keanu Reeves’ “Henry’s Crime” is set to go into production the end of November with shooting set for New York City and Buffalo, Malcolm Venville directing and Keanu producing.  Just one big element still missing, it would seem, from the romantic comedy about a nice guy who’s mis-identified as a bank robber — the leading lady.  They’re talking to prospects now to fill the role of Julia, an aspiring actress (a good one – who’s in a production of “The Cherry Orchard”) who’s Henry’s love interest.

 An even bigger actor space to fill is that of the lead character Sutter Kelly in Fox Searchlight’s adaptation of the Tim Tharp novel, “The Spectacular Now.”   The coming-of-age dramedy is about a hard-partying, popular high school boy whose world changes when he meets a shy, insecure girl – a boy also facing the uncomfortable realization that his youth is almost over – so it’s very choice role.  Marc Webb of music video and “500 Days of Summer” fame is set to direct the movie

 It was announced last March that Corey Feldman would be on board for “The Lost Boys 3” – and now preproduction is picking up on the direct-to-DVD threequel, with casting being completed on subsidiary roles.

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster 

Borgnine Keeping a Pace That Could Scare Guys Half His Age

Ernest Borgnine on

Ernest Borgnine may be 92 years old, but he’s keeping up a pace that could scare a man half his age.

The “Marty” Oscar winner just wrapped up work on “The Genesis Code” big screen drama with Louise Fletcher and Fred Thompson in Michigan, and he leaves next week for New Orleans to start work on the comedy “Snatched” — his 202nd picture.

He’s also been busy this summer with book signings for his recently-launched “Ernie, the Autobiography.”  “I love being out meeting the people!” he enthuses.

He helped launch “Another Harvest Moon,” his ensemble drama with Anne Meara and Cybill Shepherd, at this month’s Rhode Island International Film Festival — where Lifetime Achievement Honors were bestowed upon him.  And he squeezed in a visit to Naval Station Newport, where he went through boot camp some 74 years ago.

“This time, they were saying, ‘What can we get for you, Mr. Borgnine?’  None of the finger-pointing and ‘Hey you’s!’ I remember from before,” says the Navy veteran of 10 years, including WWII.

With all that going on, he’s barely had time to celebrate his Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama.  He tells us he and wife Tova will definitely be on hand to see whether he’ll win the honor for his portrayal, on the final episode of “ER,” of a man whose wife of many years is dying.   He played it with such honest simplicity, it was a four hankie job, for sure.

“It was hard in the sense that it never happened to me and to make it look like it was real, I had to really dig into my heart and my head,” he says.  “It turned out fine.”

So fine, he got nominated — while returning stars George Clooney, Eriq LaSalle and Noah Wyle did not.

“I know,” he says and smiles.  “I shouldn’t gloat, believe me.”

Nevertheless, Ernie’s competition is fierce – Michael J. Fox on “Rescue Me,” Ted Danson on “Damages,” Jimmy Smits on “Dexter,” and Edward Asner on “CSI: NY.”

He assures, “I’m just glad I was nominated.  I was also nominated for the Golden Globe and I missed out on that one.  People were saying they were sorry, but I said, ‘Hey, man – I won the nomination!  Are you kidding?’”

BAD BOY: Moviegoers who remember Daryl Sabara as Juni, the cute younger brother of Robert Rodriguez“Spy Kids” movies, are in for a paradigm shift of perception if they see him in “World’s Greatest Dad” starring Robin Williams, opening tomorrow (8/21).  Sabara plays the teenage son you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, a profane and mean-spirited kid whose departure from this earth could only improve it.  So how did writer-director Bobcat Goldthwait come to know that the 17-year-old actor had this ability to play rotten?

“Daryl is a funny guy.  He came in and lied, saying he wanted to play Andrew, the sweet kid in the movie” – when in fact, he had his sites set on terrible Kyle instead.  Bobcat let him read for the latter, and found “he was such a convincing creep – a teenage Gary Oldman, you know?  I had him come in again just to meet with him.  I needed to know he wasn’t really a jerk.”

Goldthwait also tells us there was a surprise when it came to casting Robin Williams as the beleaguered, bereaved title parent in the truly twisted black comedy that was a Sundance Festival hit.  According to Goldthwait, Robin recently confessed, “he thought he was going to help me out and do a cameo.  But then he read the script and said, ‘I’d like to be the guy.’  It really changed everything.”

These days, Goldthwait does stand-up if he needs to support his efforts as an auteur filmmaker.  Admits the show business veteran once thought of as a way-too-out-of-control comic, “The early part of my career, I had the kind of career you usually have when your career is ending.  Having a new career now at 47, I have much more appreciation.”

READ NO EVIL:  Joan Rivers, the queen of jabs, tells us she has one big secret to her success.  If you’ve written something about her, she wants no part of it.  “I don’t read it.  I absolutely don’t read it.  I don’t read good reviews and I don’t read bad reviews,” admits Rivers.  “Obviously I’m told about good reviews,” she adds.  “I know when it’s been a good show and I know when it’s been a bad show.  I don’t need an outsider to tell me.  I can come off stage and tell you how it was and what went wrong a lot faster than somebody else can say it.  I’m sure they say terrible things about it.  I don’t need it.  I don’t need to look at it.”  So, there!

Rivers currently can be seen enjoying the high life with some fellow hard workers in the TV Land series “How’d You Get So Rich?” “We go to their houses and we see all of their toys.  It’s fascinating how differently they spend their money. One man made all this money so he bought himself a Lamborghini for every day of the week,” she says.  “I think it’s very uplifting that in this day in age you can do it if you’ve got the right attitude and the right product.  But it teaches you a good lesson that you’ve got to work for it or win the lottery.”

A WEIGHTING GAME: Angie Dickinson was one of those perpetually perfectly lean ladies in her heyday on small and big screen, but now the still-beautiful septuagenarian complains that she’s 20 pounds overweight.  “If I lost 20 pounds I’d be more viable.  I’m serious about that,” she says.  “I watch ‘The Biggest Loser’ and I am so enamored of those incredible people, how they shame themselves and go through whatever it takes to get in shape.  I could no longer get out there in a little top and shorts.  They expose their worst sides and I admire them beyond belief – but I still don’t lose the weight.”

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster

Julie Benz Branches Out Beyond ‘Dexter’

Julie Benz

Julie Benz

Julie Benz has been branching out beyond her “Dexter” role – and how!

In “The Boondocks Saints II: All Saints Day,” due in September, “I get to play a badass.  I’ve always been the damsel in distress.  In this I play this really, really phenomenal FBI agent who’s smart and sexy and feminine.  She can shoot a gun better than the guys.  She wears pink rubber gloves and stiletto heels to a crime scene, but she can hold her own with the fellas, no problem.

“It’s a highly-anticipated sequel.  They’ve done an amazing job,” she adds.  “I can’t give anything away, but it’s such a cool movie.  There’s one stunt in it that is so amazing and we only had one take to do it.  It’s probably the coolest thing I’ve ever gotten to do.”

Benz notes, “I didn’t have any time to train for it because I was wrapping for the last season of ‘Dexter.’  They put a gun in my hand on the first day and I had to break into a room and start firing away like a pro.  That’s when your acting technique and sheer will kicks in.”

Benz has also branched out to star in the Lifetime Movie Network’s TV movie “Held Hostage,” airing July 19, in which she plays real-life kidnapping victim Michelle Renee.

“Michelle and her daughter both came on set for a couple of days so I got to meet them.  I was so overwhelmed when I met Michelle I started to cry,” Benz tells this column.   “Her story of being kidnapped and having a bomb attached to her and her daughter and having to rob a bank — it so deeply touched me and moved me that I was at a loss for words when I met her.  She complemented me on my work and what was I supposed to say, ‘Thanks for going through such an awful thing so I could have a great role to play.’  No,” she notes.

“The whole thing was just very intense.  There was a lot of sensitivity in developing this project and really being as true as possible to what happened, and I’m really proud of the movie.”

Emily-Fortune Feimster