Tag Archives: Robert David Hall

‘Breaking Bad’ Turned ‘Upside Down’ in New Season says Bryan Cranston

Bryan Cranston in 'Breaking Bad'

Bryan Cranston in 'Breaking Bad'

Bryan Cranston, who’s earned two Emmys for his work on “Breaking Bad,” tips that the third season of the highly-lauded AMC show will be “like a million-piece puzzle that’s hiding the picture on the box.”Cranston, who directs the March 21 season-opener, reveals that as the story progresses this year, “The very structure of the show is turned upside down.” His character, science teacher Walter White, who started cooking crystal methamphetamine to make big money to support his family when he learned he had terminal lung cancer, has been keeping his double life secret.

“Yet, the one thing that can’t happen does happen. His wife finds out and all is lost,” Cranston says. “He must make amends, live with the fallout of his actions and try to win his wife back and to reconcile who his is.”

That might be, but make no mistake that drugs won’t still be a vital part of the story, as will Aaron Paul, who plays Walter’s former student who’s teamed up with his one-time teacher in the drug trade.

Cranston, who counts his role as the father in “Malcolm in the Middle” among his many credits, notes how flawed many television heroes have become today. Among them: Denis Leary as an alcoholic fireman in “Rescue Me,” Edie Falco as a cheating, drug-addicted wife in “Nurse Jackie,” murderers and such in “Sons of Anarchy.”

The way Cranston has figured it out, “In the old days, the leading man was handsome, never drank, didn’t abuse drugs, always figured out what his problems were and solved them. But today, we are accepting more sophisticated storytelling — more honest portrayals of the human experience.”

MAKING IT HAPPEN:  Robert David Hall, a.k.a. “CSI’s” coroner Al Robbins, is about to unveil “Things They Don’t Teach You in School” — a bluesy Americana-style labor of love he recorded last summer in Austin, with “some of the best sidemen in the business.”

Robert David Hall

Robert David Hall

He tells us, “I’ve been a musician and a singer almost all my life, but it just sort of faded.” Then, “My baby brother came down with cancer, liver cancer. He’s 46.” His brother’s battle awakened Hall to the fact that none of us has unlimited time to accomplish “that secret list of things we want to do in life” — and sparked him to get busy.

“I’m a good musician. I think I’m a good writer. I have no illusions. I just hope that people who check this out will enjoy it,” says Hall, who wrote seven of the songs on “Things They Don’t Teach You in School” and co-wrote two more. Samples of his enjoyable folksy fare can be checked out at his robertdavidhallmusic.com website.

Meanwhile, Hall, a mighty multi-tasker if there ever was one, continues his “CSI” duties as well as his leadership roles as an advocate for people with disabilities — as well as being among the founding fathers of the Screen Actors Guild’s iActor online casting database. It allows “all paid members to upload their reels, headshots and resume information. It’s a place where casting people can look and know that they have paid up union member.”

EXPANDING HORIZONS: Lea Thompson is moving forward with preproduction on her “Damaged Goods” project — that will have the “Jane Doe” mysteries and former “Caroline in the City” star behind the cameras, as a director. Though Lea’s directed herself in “Jane Doe” movies, this will be her first shot at helming a big-screen romantic comedy.

It’s about a high-flying, chic Malibu lifestyle guru who finds herself falling for a guy who operates a used furniture store in New Mexico and, well, owns chickens. Can love prevail?

James Denton and Jonathan Cooper are cast and subsidiary roles are being filled now.

CASTING CORNER: Now that the applause has had a chance to die down since the announcement that Kate Winslet will star in a remake of “Mildred Pierce” as an HBO miniseries, there are questions to be asked. First, who’ll play the key role of Veda — the selfish ingrate daughter that tenacious businesswoman Mildred can’t please.

Casting forces are working on that one now. The role won Ann Blyth an Oscar nomination for the 1946 feature — which, of course, netted Joan Crawford a Best Actress statuette.

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster

Julie Benz Proud of Michael C. Hall Candor

Julie Benz, Michael C. Hall

Julie Benz, Michael C. Hall

Julie Benz sounds delighted and very proud when talking about her former “Dexter” leading man, Michael C. Hall, and the way he’s handled his battle with Hodgkins Lymphoma.”He’s fantastic, doing just fantastic. His cancer is definitely in remission, and you know, they caught it very early,” she points out. And, Hall’s decision to go public, she feels, will inspire countless fans and others “to go and get checked out, because if you catch cancer early, you can kick its a–. Sorry to swear, but really, if you’re not feeling good or if you feel a lump in your gland, go to your doctor, no matter what. No matter how busy you are.”

Beautiful Benz debuted this past Sunday in her new recurring role on “Desperate Housewives” as Robin, the highly-educated stripper.

“It’s offered me the chance to do some comedy. It’s a very fun character, and very different from Rita,” she says, referring to her “Dexter” role. “I’m always looking for where I can go next and how I can do something different,” notes the actress. She plays a business executive who finds love among the vineyards in the Hallmark Channel romantic comedy, “Uncorked,” airing March 6.

Her schedule has been so grueling, between shooting the series, doing promotion and attending the Golden Globes and SAG Awards, she wound up getting sick with laryngitis last month. However, “I’m a workaholic and I thrive when I have to work hard,” she says.

And, it’s helped move her beyond the trauma of getting killed off “Dexter.” So did the fact, “I’m very close to a lot of the cast — Jennifer (Carpenter) and I are close friends, and Michael, James Remar and his wife, David Zayas and his wife — and I had the pleasure of going through awards season and being reunited with everyone.”

She doesn’t mind the fact that people are still approaching her and exclaiming about what happened to Rita. “I love that it was that impactful. It would really suck if they killed off Rita and nobody responded.”

ON THE PERSONAL SIDE: It’s not often that a celebrity begs to differ with Dr. Oz, but such is the case with Carnie Wilson, who turns up on Oz’s show today (2/4), ready to make a fresh start in her weight battle.

“He and I sort of have a conflicted diagnosis about something. He called me pre-diabetic, but that’s not right, according to my doctor and my numbers. I am in the very normal range. Maybe it was something he said for the show,” says the singer-cum-reality show star — “Carnie Wilson: Unstapled” on GSN — baker, and “Newlywed Game” host.

Carnie admits she was startled by some of what Dr. Oz told her, including that “at 65 pounds overweight, I fall into the morbidly obese category. When I weighed 300 pounds, I knew that I was in that category, but not now, at 218. I looked into that, and he’s right. My BMI is 39 and that’s too high,” adds Carnie, who has been trying to get rid of the weight she put on while pregnant with daughter Lucy, 7 1/2 months.

“The great thing about Dr. Oz is, he looked me in the eye and gave me big hugs and said, ‘I don’t see you as a celebrity. I see you as a wife and mom, and someone who has the opportunity to help millions of people.’ That’s the kind of man he is.”

She’s now going on the diet regime Dr. Oz lays out in his books, but admits that fitting in his prescribed daily workouts is a challenge for her. “When I’m filming and promoting the show, it’s not possible, but I’ll do as much as I can,” says Carnie.

STRUNG OUT: “CSI’s” Robert David Hall says he enjoys the occasional curve ball thrown his way by the show’s writers. For instance, a bit on the upcoming installment featuring Rascal Flatts required him to “autopsy a guitar that electrocuted some musician.

“I like it when odd things happen,” says Hall, who is a musician and singer himself. “I try to prepare for anything I do, so I went down to my guitar repairman, Norick Renson, and said, ‘I have to do an autopsy on a guitar,’ and he and his sidekick, Bret, told me exactly how to take apart a Fender bass guitar.” That’s going the extra mile for verisimilitude, all right.

COURSE OF DISCOURSE: Naomi Judd has a great gift of gab, but according to her, she had to sharpen her debate skills once she started appearing on TV all the time.

“Bill Bennett always calls me ‘the common sense’ celebrity,” notes the singer and talk show favorite, who’s exchanged words with hosts from Chris Matthews to Bill O’Reilly, in addition to having her own shows. “I’m pretty known for telling it straight.

“I learned to be more assertive on Bill Maher’s show. He said, ‘You are a Southern belle. You are too nice. If you’re going to be on this show, you can’t wait ’til Ann Coulter finishes saying something to jump in and try to negate her.'”

Still, Judd maintains a respectful attitude and fully intends to keep it that way.

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster

Rob Dyrdek Foresees Getting Too Busy for TV

Rob Dyrdek MTV photo

Rob Dyrdek MTV photo

Skateboarding superstar Rob Dyrdek may have amassed a huge fan following with his “Rob & Big” and “Fantasy Factory” MTV reality shows, but he foresees the day when he might be too busy to remain a television star.

“I’ll do TV for a little bit more,” assures the holder of multipleF Guinness book records for skateboard stunts.  “I have so many other things I’m doing like developing a cartoon.  I’m developing a professional skateboard tour.  I’ve got my shoe and clothing line.  And I actually sold MTV another show that I’m developing…At some point I’ll have to focus more on that stuff, but for now, I’m having a lot of fun shooting TV,” he says, referring to his current “Fantasy Factory” show – on which he’s up to even more outrageous adventures than ever before. 

“I think part of last season was sort of understanding the dynamics of everybody in the building and sort of each person’s role,” notes Dyrdek, whose office contains an indoor skate plaza.  “Now we’re just having fun.  We’re making some really ridiculous and over-the-top television, from buying a racehorse and jockeying it in its first race to building a mini drifting car and doing tandem drifting with the world’s most famous drifter, Ken Block — to bringing back Bobby Light and opening up for Blink 182 in Vegas, to swimming with tigers.”  Wow.

 For those who didn’t get a chance to see Dyrdek’s antics in Season 1 (such as riding the purported World’s Largest Skateboard with L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa), it is now available on DVD.  “There’s so much funny, ridiculous stuff that could not find a place in a 22-minute episode,” he notes, “so it’s all on the DVD.”

 MEANWHILE:  Dyrdek tells us his thoughts have been with his buddy and business partner Travis Barker, who has been mourning the loss of DJ AM.  Barker and DJ AM survived a plane crash together last year.  “It’s just so tragic.  I think for Travis, especially, because of the significance of what he lost in the first crash and being bound by that, and to see DJ AM come to an untimely passing was really hard on him.”   

Kathy Ireland and Tony Dovolani  ABC photo

Kathy Ireland and Tony Dovolani ABC photo

A GIVING SPIRIT:  “Dancing With the Stars” participant Kathy Ireland sent flowers arrangements to every one of her 31 fellow performers (stars and their dance partners), for Monday night’s kickoff of the show, designing the displays herself since they were from Fabulous Florals.com, one of the companies of her $l.4 Billion-a-year lifestyle design empire. 

 The supermodel turned super mogul is giving any money she earns on “DWTS” to non-profit charities, much of it to her dear friend Elizabeth Taylor’s HIV/AIDS foundation.  Dame Elizabeth did some giving of her own, selecting and purchasing the Valentino gown Kathy wore on the show’s premiere.  And those fabulous jewels in which she was bedecked were from Elizabeth’s personal collection.  Kathy is one of the top jewelry designers herself, but Dame Elizabeth is her lucky charm.

LEFT HANGING:  Ever since “CSI’sRobert David Hall told us that we’ll be seeing the cast suspended from wires this season, as “a moment in time is frozen,” we’ve been kinda wondering what exactly that means.  Hall declined to elaborate, beyond saying that tonight’s (9/24) season premiere is some of the most ingenious TV he’s ever seen.  “Not just in terms of the storyline, but in terms of camera angels.  It’s just movie magic,” according to him.  

That’s not all they’re keeping suspended.  Now we hear from casting sources that “CSI” is looking for real pole dancers “who can hang upside-down unsupported” for an upcoming episode.  “Must be athletic… No nudity.” 

SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT:  With “Little Miss Sunshine” being turned into a musical via the Sundance Theatre Lab at White Oak, casting is underway for all the characters remembered from the quirky 2006 flick about a family trip to a children’s beauty pageant — that was made for $8 million and grossed more than $100 million worldwide, and scored Oscars for Best Supporting Actor (Alan Arkin) and screenplay (Michael Arndt).  The plan is for the new show to be unveiled Oct. 25 in Yulee, Fla.

And they’re looking for a girl to play Mary Jane Greenberg, daughter of 60’s record producer (“It’s My Party,” etc.) Florence Greenberg, for the Pasadena Playhouse production of “Baby, It’s You.”  That musical has been moving up the Equity chain – with intentions aimed at Broadway next year.  It arrives in Pasadena in December.

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster

Hamilton’s Mom Wouldn’t Get Zellweger Casting

Debonair actor George Hamilton says he’s amazed at how well the movie “My One and Only” turned out — but

Renee Zellweger and Chris Noth  in "My one and only"

Renee Zellweger and Chris Noth in "My One and Only"

admits he’s not so sure his mother would have felt the same.

In fact, says George of the feature, which is loosely based on his colorful mom’s adventures during his childhood, “I don’t know if my mother would agree with the movie at all.  I think in some strange way she probably wouldn’t have gotten the casting.”  That’s Oscar-winning actress Renee Zellweger as Anne Deveraux, a.k.a. George’s mother.

“I think she would have loved the fanfare but she’d say, ‘I wouldn’t wear that hat and why is she wearing that dress?’  My mother was much to do about the exterior.  She divorced one husband because he wore brown shoes after 6:00,” he tells us, adding that Zellweger of course has the good looks — she just doesn’t look like his mother.  “If I had been left to it, I might have gotten someone with more similarities to my mother, but at the end of the day, they wouldn’t have had the talent that she has.  What’s amazing about this picture is Renee gave a performance that really told the truth about my mother and made my mother come alive – whereas my mother would have played it externally.”

The movie, which also stars Kevin Bacon, Chris Noth, and Nick Stahl, has a national release in select theaters starting Sept. 4.

“I’m not in it and maybe that’s one of the best things that could have happened to it,” says Hamilton with a laugh, but he and his late, longtime pal Merv Griffin produced it.

“Years ago Merv and I were talking about doing something and I told him this story about my mother deciding that she was going to find every boyfriend she ever had in order to find a father for us and a husband for her.  She was going back 30 years of her life in this odyssey across the United States trying desperately to keep our family together.  She would talk about this guy being the most attractive man at Yale and we’d go to a restaurant to meet him, and my brother and I would stay in the car, and she’d come out and say, ‘Oh, he let himself go.’  It happened one after the other.  We finally realized all we had was each other.”

WHEN HUMILIATION IS A GOOD THING: Kelsey Grammer is back with a new ABC sitcom after a short-lived stint on Fox last year, but can he get past his extremely popular Frasier Crane character?  “When you play a character for as long as he did and it’s such a beloved character, of course people have that in the back of their minds, but I think a lot of the reason that character is so beloved is Kelsey himself,” says his new “Hank” co-star Melinda McGraw.  McGraw plays Grammer’s his wife in the comedy about a Wall Street executive who loses his job and reconnects with his small-town family.  “He’s so good at playing that guy who is having to overcome humiliation, which is a lot of what comedy is.  I have no doubts people are going to be able to look beyond that and enjoy him in this character.”

Meanwhile, “Mad Men” fans, who have eagerly awaited the show’s second season, want to know if McGraw will be reprising her role as John Hamm’s steamy mistress Bobbie Barrett.  “That’s a revolving door over there so that door is always open.  They’re very secretive and we’re never allowed to talk about it, but we don’t mind because no one wants to ruin it for the fans.  It’s a show where people look forward to finding out what happens,” notes McGraw.  “I loved playing that woman.  She was unique for that time.  It wasn’t until I was playing her that I realized this was the character I’d been waiting my whole life to play.”  Hopefully that won’t be the last of her!

FROM THE INSIDE LOOKING OUT: Robert David Hall s grateful to be back to work on the 10th season of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” yet is aware “It’s a tough time.  All my brother and sister actors are struggling.  I love working on the show, but I’d like to see other people working as well.”  At the forefront of his concerns are actors with disabilities, for whom Hall has advocated tirelessly, having served in positions including that of chairman of the Performers with Disabilities Committee of the Screen Actors Guild

Hall, a double amputee himself, was in Washington, D.C. during hiatus at the invitation of President Barack Obama., “to celebrate the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.   And I was asked to speak to some disabled artists at the Kennedy Center.  I worked the night before, caught the redeye — my wife went with me – and we had the day of our lives in Washington.”

Hall reports that before the Prez gave his 20-minute speech at the anniversary event, “when he came up to the podium, he looked down at me and mouthed the words ‘C.S.I..’  I don’t know that he watches the show, but it was nice,” says Hall, who’ll see Obama again this fall when he’s honored for his civic contributions.  Hall adds that “We were seated in the first row and there were all these senators and cabinet people and it really was overwhelming and awe inspiring.”

Especially for Hall, who grew up in D.C. and remembers lots of  “mandatory field trips.”

NOT RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES: When Lifetime’s “The Honeymoon” movie turns up on the cable channel, chances are people will be reminded of the July case of murder on the high seas involving Robert McGill, who’s accused of doing away with wife Shirley while cruising off the coast of Mexico.  However, the planned telepic – which has the husband disappearing from a ship and the grieving bride eventually coming under suspicion – was in the works before the McGills set off on their ill-fated voyage.

With reports by Emiliy-Fortune Feimster