Tag Archives: Jason Lee

Jason Lee Talks Hot New ‘Beat,’ Not Imitating Elvis

Jason Lee TNT photo

Jason Lee would like to correct misconceptions about his June 22-debuting TNT “Memphis Beat” series – which a number of critics have already referred to as the best of this summer’s crop of new TV offerings.

First, “People started talking about this show as being about a cop who’s an Elvis impersonator, but that’s not what it is.  We’re taking a very, very sincere approach, absolutely without being silly or gimmicky,” he says.

Lee, clean-shaven and looking much different from his mustachioed Earl Hickey persona in “My Name is Earl,” plays a dyed-in-the-wool Memphian who is passionate about his city and his music, and who is cop and who does go out and perform at night.  “It’s a massive release for him,” he says.  And for Lee himself, “It’s great, it’s fantastic performing ‘Love Me Tender’ with a guitar onstage.  It’s really special.  It feels comfortable.”

Second — fear not, Memphis.  The “Memphis Beat” company has been shooting in Louisiana, a fact that Memphis media have noted with some dismay, but “We’re going up there soon to actually shoot some stuff.  I spent a little bit of time in Memphis before, but I can’t wait to go back within this context,” he says of the soulful drama that also stars Alfre Woodard and DJ Qualls – and is produced under the banner of George Clooney’s and Grand Heslov’s  production company.  “The city is a big part of this show and you’ve got to see it.  You can’t fake it.”

Lee admits he’s still saddened by the loss of “Earl.”  He says, “I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next when the show ended.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I’m glad it became this thing.  It’s something I’ve not gotten to do yet, and very, very exciting for me.”

The shooting schedule “is tough,” however.  “We have fewer episodes than a network drama, which is great, but the workload is pretty intense, especially in the heat.  You just take a lot of water and pace yourself.  It’s a fun, exciting gig and that certainly helps a lot.  But I’m definitely going to take a break once we’re finished, a much-needed break.  I’ll probably just kind of go camping.”

Faces to Watch this Summer Season

Betty White

It’s almost June, and you know what that means! Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. We’re talking, of course, about the summer TV season and faces to watch this time of year, when things are looser and quirkier than during the school year. Here are 10 faces to watch:

Betty White. At 88, our favorite octogenarian Superstar is back in the series game with TV Land’s ‘Hot in Cleveland’ (premiering June 16) as the caretaker of a rental property inhabited by Jane Leeves, Valerie Bertinelli and Wendie Malick. Her Elka Ostrovsky character is full of vinegar and naughtiness.

Virginia Madsen. The ‘Sideways’ Oscar nominee brings her singular presence to ABC June 20 with ‘Scoundrels,’ playing the mother of a crime family — that is, her husband (David James Elliott) and kids are criminals. When hubby gets sent up the river, she decides it’s time to go straight, and lots of luck. Do as I say, kids, not as I do.

Rhona Mitra. What could really liven up a neighborhood? How about a sexy vampire? ‘The Gates’ has already been widely accused of brazenly trying to capitalize on the ‘Twilight’ craze, so we won’t bother. Other supernatural creatures are on the prowl in this community — a witch, a high school jock/werewolf — with Frank Grillo of ‘Prison Break’ as the new cop in town.

Jason Lee. All right, we have the something old, something new and something borrowed. Let’s call Lee’s ‘Memphis Beat’ something blues, since the new TNT cop drama (June 22 premiere) is drenched in bluesy sensibility, including Lee’s detective character’s proclivity for performing — his favorite way to let off steam after a hard day’s work chasing bad guys: Making a clean-shaven break from his ‘My Name is Earl’ title character as he trades comedy for drama, Lee already has critics excited.

Terry Crews and Ice Cube. With Crews (‘Everybody Hates Chris’) taking over Ice Cube’s role from the big-screen ‘Are We There Yet?’ in the small-screen version that debuts on TNT June 2 — Ice Cube is free to launch a new character of a SWAT team member/disapproving brother-in-law.

Beth Ostrosky Stern. If you like irony, then you’re bound to find something amusing in the fact that sleaze meister Howard Stern’s gorgeous wife is making her series debut Monday (5/31) on a reality show with a premise about inner beauty and moral rectitude being more important than outward appearance. Well, as important, maybe. It’s the second season of the Tyra Banks and Ashton Kutcher-produced ‘True Beauty’

Colin Hanks and Bradley Whitford. These two have fun chemistry as a two-generation cop team on ‘Good Guys,’ the Fox show that debuts June 7.

Piper Perabo. The ‘Coyote Ugly’ and ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’ actress turns super spy in USA Network’s CIA dramedy ‘Covert Affairs.’ The cable channel has called the show, debuting in July, its most ambitious ever.

Plus…NBC has ‘Persons Unknown’ debuting June 7, with Alan Ruck of ‘Spin City’ and a group of actors unknown as a collection of kidnapped strangers trapped in a nightmare-worthy mansion, being watched by hidden forces via constantly-present cameras. It’s been compared to the vintage ‘The Prisoner.’

And…When it comes to faces to watch….ABC gets the prize for unique, OMG storylines coming up this summer, and wouldn’t you know? We’re talking about a non-fiction show: Among other things, ‘Boston Med’ will take us through the saga of a full facial transplant, including looks at the donor (a Hollywood marketing genius) and the recipient, a burned Vietnam veteran. The eight-part series debuts June 24.