Hollywood Playbook: Tuesday's Top 5 News Items

Hollywood Playbook: Tuesday's Top 5 News Items

HBO’s ‘The Leftovers’ – Please Tell Me It Gets Better

Some reviewers who have seen the first three episodes in advance claim that creator Damon Lindelof (“Lost”) and Tom Perotta’s “The Leftovers” gets better and really comes together in the third episode — so I’m going to hang in there. The premiere episode, which hit HBO Sunday night, is a real downer, and not just in tone.

The premise (based on Perotta’s novel) is pretty lame: One day 2% of the world’s population vanishes without explanation into thin air. No one know how or why. The Pope disappeared but so did Gary Busey and Jennifer Lopez.

We cut to three years later to see how the fictional town of Mapleton is dealing with it.

The action surrounds Police Chief Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) who will remind you more than just a little of Roy Scheider’s Chief Brody character in “Jaws.” His wife, played by Amy Brenneman, has joined a bizarre cult that wears all white, doesn’t speak, and chain smokes. His son Tom is involved with a frightening Jim Jones-type guru. Jill, Garvey’s hot daughter, is in high school and on the cusp of either losing herself to the nihilism that has claimed most of her friends, or not.

The show is darker than the inside of a cow locked in a coffin at midnight. It’s also not all that compelling or interesting. Through background television we learn that no one has any idea how or why the disappearance happened.

What stinks is that premise appears to be just a device to watch people disintegrate. You keep waiting for the show to cut to the agency or person on the hunt to solving the mystery.

There is none.

Worse still, society looks the same. Two-percent isn’t enough of a loss to change the landscape into something different and, you know, interesting.

The disappearances, though, are slowly draining the souls out of everyone left behind. They have no idea how to cope with the loss, the supernatural, the helplessness or the fear.

That appears to be what the show will be about.

In this universe (so far) no one turns to God, they turn to cults or alcohol or teenage sex parties involving loveless hook-ups where the spin of an iPhone could mean you have to choke a guy you barely know as he masturbates.

Like I said: Cow. Coffin. Midnight.

There is also something involving feral dogs.

What I liked most is that the nihilism, especially the sexual nihilism, is portrayed as what it is: hollow, bleak, and ugly — not normal and cool. 

What I hated most is that we have yet another moody, mouthy. smarter-than-thou teenage girl on our hands. I’m so fed up with that trope I could scream.  

I’m giving “The Leftovers” 2 more episodes.  

Shia LaBeouf Checks Himself Into Rehab

Reports are dribbling out that troubled actor Shia LaBeouf has checked himself into rehab. I’m the furthest thing from a hardass when it comes to people dealing with drug and alcohol issues and I have a lot of respect for those able to humble themselves into getting help.

‘Better Call Saul’ Will Use ‘Flexible Timeline’ for Possible Bryan Cranston Return


Fan pressure has the talent behind “Better Call Saul” thinking about shifting the show’s timelines in a way that will allow “Breaking Bad’s” Walter White and Jess Pinkman to return in some way.

“Saul” was originally advertised as a “Bad” prequel set before Bob Odenkirk’s sleazy criminal lawyer met Walter and Jesse.

As I’ve said before, I actually like the idea of discovering what happened to Saul after he was forced to drop everything and run at the end of “Bad,” but I hate the idea that the show could be compromised with gimmicks to please The Twitters.

Sometimes fans don’t know that what they really want is a good show — a good show forgives all.

Anyone excited for “Saul: Days of Future Past”?

Yahoo Screen Makes Streaming Splash with ‘Community’ Pick Up

Yahoo Screen is a streaming video outlet that’s been around since 2011 but hasn’t made much impact in what is becoming a crowded Streaming field of old and original content providers like Netflix, PlayStation, and Amazon.

In an attempt to get on the map, Yahoo Screen just picked up the sixth season of “Community” for what is likely to be a final season that consists of 13 episodes.

Yahoo is also offering the premiere episode of HBO’s “the Leftovers,” to anyone interested.

Best of all, at least for “Community” fans, Yahoo Screen is free. There’s no subscription cost.

Nikki Finke wonders why Yahoo would grab a low-rated show with such a small fanbase. The reason is pretty obvious though: it’s a high-profile announcement that Yahoo is open for business and ready to try and compete with the Big Boys. What better way to tell the actor/writer/producer with the next “House of Cards” under his arm to add Yahoo to their list of pitch meetings. Also, what might be a small audience for a broadcast network could be a record audience for Yahoo Screen.

‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ Compared to ‘Empire Strikers Back’

Leaving “Transformers 4” alone to play itself out over the three-day holiday, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” won’t hit screens until July 11 but already a number of reviewers are declaring it a masterpiece.

With so few reviews posted, the 89% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes is deceiving. A single negative review is skewing the field. The rest of the reviews are not only positive, they are glowing:

THR: In the annals of sequels, Dawn is to Rise of the Planet of the Apes what The Empire Strikes Back was to Star Wars — it’s that much better.

Variety: An altogether smashing sequel to 2011′s better-than-expected “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” this vivid, violent extension of humanoid ape Caesar’s troubled quest for independence bests its predecessor in nearly every technical and conceptual department, with incoming helmer Matt Reeves conducting the proceedings with more assertive genre elan than “Rise” journeyman Rupert Wyatt.

Quick Hits:

First Look at ‘Batman v. Superman’ Star Henry Cavill On Set as Clark Kent

‘Transformers’ Won’t Save the Summer or 2014

Rick Santorum’s Company Set to Release Hobby Lobby Doc

Universal Home Entertainment To Release Steven Spielberg Director’s Collection

The 7 best patriotic speeches from movies

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