Tag Archives: Kelsey Grammer

Killing Jesus

National Geographic’s third TV movie to be based on Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s lightweight historical books takes on Christ with unimpressive results. The story of the carpenter’s life and death has been chronicled so many times that this adaptation, which is sorely lacking in ambition, is imminently forgettable. The focus lies on the Jewish and Roman intrigues leading up to the crucifixion, but there is little tension and Haaz Sleiman is far too bland in the lead. Trevor Morris’s music theme is better than anything else here.

2015-U.S. Made for TV. 132 min. Color. Directed by Christopher Menaul. Teleplay: Walon Green. Book: Bill O’Reilly, Martin Dugard. Music: Trevor Morris. Cast: Haaz Sleiman (Jesus), Alexis Rodney (Peter), Joe Doyle (Judas Iscariot), Aneurin Barnard, Abhin Galeya, Rufus Sewell… John Rhys-Davies, Kelsey Grammer.

Trivia: Co-executive produced by O’Reilly and Ridley Scott. Also released as a three-part miniseries. Grammer, who plays King Herod, also serves as narrator.



VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Best of Enemies: The Original Crossfire


bestofenemiesI’m writing this review in the midst of Donald Trump’s campaign for the U.S. presidency. What started as an empty circus act, cherished by angry rightwing voters who feel left out, has turned into something threatening. Not once through his nasty campaign has the billionaire presented any kind of plan for something that has deserved to be taken seriously and debated. The 2016 presidential campaign has become a spectacle as unintellectual as they come. How amazing then to see a great documentary remind us of a time when both the left and the right were going through tumultuous times where ideas, and not just egos, clashed.

In 1968, Miami and Chicago were preparing for the Republican and Democratic conventions. So were the three TV networks. At the time, ABC News was less respected than its counterparts on CBS and NBC, which is probably why the network felt free to try something new. TV coverage of the conventions used to be static, but ABC News decided to invite two commentators, intellectuals from the left and the right. The conservative choice was William F. Buckley, Jr., the founder of National Review and the most prominent thinker within the modern conservative movement. The liberal choice was gay author Gore Vidal, a man Buckley loathed, perhaps because he was his intellectual equal. Their first encounter in the studio became must-see TV, two sharp wits going at each other. It would be followed by debates that became sensational and increasingly heated until that moment during the Chicago riots when both men completely lost it…

Gloves are off – 24/7
Today we are used to seeing pundits battle each other, especially on cable. In almost every debate, the gloves seem to be off, and the novelty has worn off. Naturally, there has been a backlash. There’s a famous clip from 2004 where Jon Stewart is telling the liberal and conservative hosts of CNN’s Crossfire that they are “hurting America”. It all started with those Buckley/Vidal battles on ABC; audiences were fascinated by them and the floodgates opened. Still, the intellectual level of the men’s conversations was completely different from what passes for debates on cable today. Viewers knew how elitist both men were, with their upper-class accents and effeminate mannerisms, but still took to them because they were funny, sharp and what they had to say was worth listening to. The filmmakers present the political context of both conventions well and build excitement around the debate clips, using Buckley and Vidal’s notes on how they felt about the encounters to give us further insight. The notes are read by Kelsey Grammer and John Lithgow as Buckley and Vidal; not only are they terrific choices because of their acting chops, but they also fit particularly well since each man’s political views are similar to the icon they’re playing. Tension builds until that moment when Buckley and Vidal exploded in a way that just wasn’t seen on TV – we are made to understand that the former regretted his outburst for the rest of his life, while the latter was almost gleeful at having driven his opponent that far. Interviews with interesting people like literary critic Christopher Hitchens and Buckley’s colorful brother F. Reid provide a greater understanding of what made the two men tick.

Jon Stewart wasn’t entirely fair. The element of spectacle was obvious already in the Buckley/Vidal debates – just because it gets heated, even childish, it doesn’t mean that the discussion is worthless. It’s when the general conversation has no substance, only furor and bullying, as in the case of Trump, that we’re in trouble. 

Best of Enemies 2015-U.S. 87 min. Color-B/W. Produced and directed by Robert Gordon, Morgan Neville. Screenplay: Robert Gordon, Morgan Neville, Tom Graves. Voices of Kelsey Grammer, John Lithgow.

Last word: “We knew in the beginning we didn’t want to make a film with our arguments. We wanted to make a film about how we argue, and in the same way when you’re writing a story or an actor playing a role, you should never think of your characters as heroes or villains. You have to think of them as people first. That was something we kept reminding ourselves about. At one point, I remember us thinking there’s an intellectual story here, but what’s the emotional story here? Who are these guys, and what defines them and what drives them? That was really informative.” (Neville, The Moveable Feast)

3 kopia



VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)



entourage15Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), now a studio boss, agrees to let Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) direct his first movie, but when the project needs more money the Texas financiers start making awkward demands… This big-screen adaptation of the 2004-2011 TV series will satisfy die-hard fans, but not many others. Nothing much has seriously happened in the lives of these hopelessly childish characters. Their shallow Hollywood issues are fun to follow for a while – a whole movie is asking a lot, though. Grenier is still not very convincing as Tinseltown’s biggest star, but some of the cameos are amusing.

2015-U.S. 104 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson, Rob Weiss. Written and directed by Doug Ellin. Cast: Kevin Connolly (Eric Murphy), Adrian Grenier (Vincent Chase), Kevin Dillon (Johnny “Drama” Chase), Jerry Ferrara (Salvatore “Turtle” Assante), Jeremy Piven, Perrey Reeves… Billy Bob Thornton, Haley Joel Osment. Cameos: Jessica Alba, Martin Landau, David Arquette, Liam Neeson, Warren Buffett, Piers Morgan, Gary Busey, Andrew Dice Clay, Common, Mark Cuban, Jon Favreau, Kelsey Grammer, Ed O’Neill, Armie Hammer, Calvin Harris, Thierry Henry, Matt Lauer, Bob Saget, David Spade, George Takei, Mike Tyson, Mark Wahlberg, Pharrell Williams.

6 kopia



VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

The Expendables 3


expendables3When the CIA learns that one of the original Expendables (Mel Gibson), who went rogue and was presumed dead, has resurfaced, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) assembles a new team to capture him. The first film in the series to get a PG-13 rating, which to the disappointment of many fans means less of a bloodbath. The action is nevertheless explosive, especially in the opening and end sequences… but it’s a lot duller in between. The cast is the franchise’s most impressive line-up yet, with Gibson a shot in the arm as the bad guy.

2014-U.S. 126 min. Color Widescreen. Directed by Patrick Hughes. Cast: Sylvester Stallone (Barney Ross), Jason Statham (Lee Christmas), Mel Gibson (Conrad Stonebanks), Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Wesley Snipes… Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, Kelsey Grammer, Randy Couture.

Trivia: Bruce Willis dropped out after a salary argument. Nicolas Cage and Jackie Chan were allegedly considered for roles.

Razzie: Worst Supporting Actor (Grammer).

Quote: “I am the Hague”. (Stallone appoints himself both judge and executioner)

6 kopia



VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

Crazy on the Outside


crazyontheoutsideAfter being released from prison, Thomas Zelda (Tim Allen) moves in with his sister (Sigourney Weaver)… and soon learns that she was lying when she told him that the love of his life is dead. Allen’s directing debut reunites him with several actors from his past movies, and it’s particularly nice to see Weaver from Galaxy Quest (1999) as his fibbing sister. Kelsey Grammer is sorely underused though, Allen’s daydreaming is a device that never quite works and the script disappoints, with barely a laugh.

2010-U.S. 96 min. Color. Directed by Tim Allen. Cast: Tim Allen (Thomas Zelda), Sigourney Weaver (Vicky), Ray Liotta (Gray), Jeanne Tripplehorn, J.K. Simmons, Julie Bowen… Kelsey Grammer. 

7 kopia



VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Transformers: Age of Extinction


transformers4Five years after the battle that almost destroyed Chicago, a CIA unit is hunting both Autobots and Decepticons; Optimus Prime finds refuge in a barn owned by an inventor (Mark Wahlberg). The fourth film in the franchise is a reboot in name only. Wahlberg and Stanley Tucci (as a Steve Jobs-type corporate leader) are welcome additions to the cast, but this 3D extravaganza offers nothing new, just tedious battles and Michael Bay’s expected clichés. The running time is almost an insult.

2014-U.S. 165 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Michael Bay. Cast: Mark Wahlberg (Cade Yeager), Stanley Tucci (Joshua Joyce), Kelsey Grammer (Harold Attinger), Nicola Peltz (Tessa Yeager), Jack Reynor, Titus Welliver… Thomas Lennon. Voices of John Goodman, Ken Watanabe. 

Trivia: Dwayne Johnson was allegedly considered for the lead. Followed by Transformers: The Last Knight (2017).

Razzie: Worst Director, Supporting Actor (Grammer).

7 kopia



VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

X-Men: Days of Future Past


xmendaysoffuturepastIn 2023, most mutants have been wiped out by man-made robots called Sentinels; with the help of Shadowcat (Ellen Page), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is sent back in time to 1973 to kill the Sentinel program before it’s born. A sequel to three X-Men movies (The Last Stand, Wolverine and First Class), this ambitious chapter brings Bryan Singer back to the franchise as director and unites two generations as the older mutants try to influence their younger, more irresponsible selves. The result is a dark, sprawling, exciting and handsome comic-book adventure in 3D with clever political touches, a magnificent cast and, unlike many other genre pics, it delivers in the finale as well.

2014-U.S. 131 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Simon Kinberg, Hutch Parker, Lauren Shuler Donner, Bryan Singer. Directed by Bryan Singer. Screenplay: Simon Kinberg. Music, Editing: John Ottman. Cast: Hugh Jackman (Logan/Wolverine), James McAvoy (Charles Xavier), Michael Fassbender (Erik Lensherr), Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Nicholas Hoult… Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart. Cameos: Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Kelsey Grammer.

Trivia: Followed by X-Men: Apocalypse (2016).

Last word: “This is a story about a bad future, not a bad situation with an individual, but a bad future and how do you go back and change that. So it’s a very simple conceit and I pitched it to James Cameron when I was in New Zealand and he put it into physics terms and I wish I could articulate the physics of it, the experimental physics. It deals with the notion that objects and things evolve differently and behave differently when they’re observed and when they’re not observed. So I play with the principle of the travel, in this case it’s consciousness that moves into your younger self, and that traveler is the observer and the observer perceives one thing while the rest of the world perceives something else. In this case, Hugh is the observer.” (Singer, Collider)

4 kopia



VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

I Don’t Know How She Does It

idontknowhowshedoesitBoston finance executive Kate Reddy (Sarah Jessica Parker) is juggling her work and life at home with a husband and two kids; things become even more stressful when she takes charge of a new project involving a Manhattan executive (Pierce Brosnan). This Americanization of a British novel pretends to have witty things to say about working women, but the subject deserves to be treated by filmmakers who understand that this is 2011, not 1951. Has likable moments, but ultimately too silly and outdated.

2011-U.S. 90 min. Color. Directed by Douglas McGrath. Novel: Allison Pearson. Cast: Sarah Jessica Parker (Kate Reddy), Pierce Brosnan (Jack Abelhammer), Greg Kinnear (Richard Reddy), Christina Hendricks, Kelsey Grammer, Seth Meyers.

7 kopia



VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

The Greatest Hits of 2014

It’s time for that annual list of this year’s highly anticipated Hollywood films. Here’s 2014 for ya.


* Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – This reboot of Tom Clancy’s CIA analyst cum action hero has Chris Pine, Kevin Costner and Kenneth Branagh (who’s also directing), but the trailer disturbingly shows another variation on the Jason Bourne concept.

* Labor Day – Jason Reitman returns, aided by Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet. Unfortunately, what looked like a promising drama has now been dumped in the frigid January slot.


* The Monuments Men – George Clooney directs this story about museum curators and art historians trying to rescue vital pieces of art before Hitler gets his hands on them. Starring Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon and Daniel Craig. Originally slated for a late 2013 release.

* RoboCop – The remake has Joel Kinnaman, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton and Gary Oldman. One vital question remains: What’s the point?

Also interesting to note this month: Kevin Costner and Liam Neeson will clash in 3 Days to Kill and Non-Stop, two action thrillers that look pretty similar in style and tone. One likely hit will be Son of God, a movie based on material from The Bible as well as previously unseen footage.


* The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson’s new movie has a star-studded cast and an intriguing story set between the world wars.

* Grace of Monaco – Another movie originally slated for a late 2013 release, this one is hopefully better than Diana. Nicole Kidman plays the princess.

* Muppets Most Wanted – The Muppets return for a jewel-heist caper. Lots of star cameos, as expected.

* Noah – One can’t help but being intrigued by a Darren Aronofsky movie about the biblical hero. Stars Russell Crowe, and the trailer has Gladiator-esque qualities.


* Captain America: The Winter Soldier – A summer of big blockbusters begins with this Marvel sequel.


Sabotage – Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to movies has been largely tongue in cheek, but the trailer for this film, directed by David Ayer of End of Watch fame, suggests a different approach.

* Transcendence – Johnny Depp stars in this sci-fi flick about a scientist who downloads his mind into a computer. Directing debut of cinematographer and Christopher Nolan loyalist Wally Pfister.


* The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – The sequel looks like it might have the same problems as the first one. On the other hand, the first one was surprisingly good.

* Godzilla – Looks like a tired retread on paper, but director Gareth Edwards and the cast might make a difference. The trailer has the right look.

* X-Men: Days of Future Past – Bryan Singer tries to unite two franchise threads. Let’s hope it’s better than Star Trek Generations (1994).


* Edge of Tomorrow – Tom Cruise fighting aliens. Again. Directed by Doug Liman.

* How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Could become the animated hit of the summer. DreamWorks will be anxious to make sure that the sequel matches the wonderful original.

* Transformers: Age of Extinction – The last time I made the mistake of giving Michael Bay the benefit of a doubt. This time I’m sure Mark Wahlberg will be lost in a flurry of incomprehensible battles.


* Tammy – Melissa McCarthy puts her stardom to the ultimate test, being directed by her husband, Ben Falcone, in a summer blockbuster comedy that has Susan Sarandon playing her alcoholic grandmother.

* Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – The sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) has Gary Oldman (but Andy Serkis is still the star). Directed by Matt Reeves of Cloverfield fame.

* Jupiter Ascending – The Wachowski Siblings return after Cloud Atlas (2012) with another sci-fi movie, this one starring Mila Kunis.


* Guardians of the Galaxy – Marvel strikes back with another adventure, this one starring among others Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel.

* Sin City: A Dame to Kill For – Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s follow-up to their 2005 movie. Postponed for a year after its original 2013 release date. Hardly promising.

* The Expendables 3 – I’ll mention this simply because Mel Gibson plays the villain and the cast also has Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas and Kelsey Grammer. I guess it has to be seen to be believed.

As a Swede, I have to highlight two world-famous fellow Swedes this month: Lasse Hallström is set to release The Hundred-Foot Journey, a film about an Indian family competing with a Michelin-starred restaurant in France, starring Helen Mirren, and Alexander Skarsgård who’s starring alongside Meryl Streep in Phillip Noyce’s sic-fi drama The Giver.


* The Equalizer – Another TV show gets a movie adaptation, this one directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Denzel Washington.


* Gone Girl – David Fincher adapted the bestseller, with Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike and Neil Patrick Harris set to put the screen ablaze.

* Get On Up – James Brown is the latest music star to get a proper screen biography. Directed by Tate Taylor (of The Help) and starring Chadwick Boseman.


* Interstellar – Christopher Nolan returns with one of the year’s most highly anticipated sci-fi films. Starring Matthew McConaughey, who’s clearly continuing his current brilliant streak.

* Dumb and Dumber To – Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels return after 20 years. Are they getting any smarter?

* Fury – Another film by David Ayer this year (after Sabotage), a war movie set near the end of World War II. Stars Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf.

* The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 – Francis Lawrence directs this complex endeavor, where author Suzanne Collins’s book has been chopped into two chapters.


* Exodus – Ridley Scott mounts a comeback after the creative abyss known as The Counselor. This biblical epic, starring Christian Bale, looks more like Kingdom of Heaven (2005).

* The Hobbit: There and Back Again – The third and final chapter in Peter Jackson’s insanely protracted franchise

* Annie – Another movie adaptation of the Broadway hit, this time featuring Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne, Cameron Diaz and Beasts of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhané Wallis.

* Into the Woods – The Brothers Grimm fairy tales are presented with a twist in this film, directed by Rob Marshall, and starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine and Johnny Depp.

* Unbroken – Angelina Jolie is set to direct this World War II story, which is based on a best-selling book and adapted by the Coen brothers, Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

All NBC Has is Its History

The clip above shows the wonderful opening of last weekend’s Saturday Night Live, where Justin Timberlake enters the magical world of the “Five-Timers Club” (people who’ve hosted the show five times or more) and finds that its members include the likes of Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Martin Short, Paul Simon and Candice Bergen; there’s also Tom Hanks, Alec Baldwin and Dan Aykroyd. Very funny, and yet another testament to the kind of power that is inherent in the brand name of Saturday Night Live and NBC.

What’s sad is that things have changed over the years. Last week I took some time off, went skiing with friends, and read Warren Littlefield’s book “Top of the Rock”, an account of the network’s “Must See TV” era. Funny, bitter and completely engrossing, the book offers memories and insights from NBC executives, directors, writers and stars, starting with Cheers and ending with Will & GraceIt’s the story of how Kelsey Grammer went from living in his car to becoming one of television’s top-paid stars (surviving an alcohol and cocaine addiction in the process); George Clooney quickly realizing how good ER would become and taking in Anthony Edwards and the bright-eyed Noah Wyle under his wings; and Jerry Seinfeld fighting like an animal to make sure his show survived without Larry David. It’s the story of how director James Burrows became an integral part in the success of all these shows… and how Littlefield himself got embroiled in a fierce struggle with Don Ohlmeyer, another NBC executive, which ended in Littlefield’s departure. 

Does the book offer only the perspective of Littlefield and his allies? Yes. Ohlmeyer doesn’t get a say in this. A fair-minded person might say that both guys share a credit in the success of NBC in those days, but it’s also easy to believe Littlefield as one of the few creative-minded executives in the business; after he left, “Must See TV” was a dead phenomenon and the network’s greatest shows were on their way to being replaced by cheap reality rating-winners like The Apprentice and The Biggest Loser. It’s the kind of programming that requires a minimum effort compared to what lay behind “Must See TV”… and yet those shows are among the best of what the reality genre has to offer!

I remain a fan of NBC simply because of its history. But what passes as NBC these days is just depressing. The network cannot survive simply on Sunday Night Football and reality shows like The Voice. There’s goodwill among fans in the shape of Saturday Night Live… but just as much “bad will” lingering in Jeff Zucker’s disastrous handling of the Jay Leno/Conan O’Brien disaster. It’s time for NBC executives to read Littlefield’s book again and try something risky.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)


bossKelsey Grammer got out of sitcoms and delivered a full-blooded performance as the Mayor of Chicago in this dark political drama with Shakespearian overtones. Emphasis lay on the corrupt agenda of not only the fearsome Mayor but his rivals; among others, a reporter was trying to uncover secrets about him (the Mayor had not revealed to the public that he was suffering from the early stages of dementia, and his family seemed to generally loathe him). Shot in Chicago, with de-saturated colors; rarely has the city looked bleaker and the same could be said for the entire show. Intelligent, often engaging, with riveting performances… but the nauseating nastiness, with virtually no one to root for, made it at times hard to watch.

2011-2012:U.S. Made for TV. 18 episodes. Color. Created by Farhad Safinia. Cast: Kelsey Grammer (Tom Kane), Connie Nielsen (Meredith Kane), Hannah Ware (Emma Kane), Jeff Hephner, Kathleen Robertson, Troy Garity, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Rotimi, Martin Donovan, Sanaa Lathan (12), Jonathan Groff (12).

Golden Globe: Best Actor (Grammer) 12.



VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Life After Frasier

Kelsey Grammer is in dire need of bouncing back. These days he seems more occupied with tabloid nonsense involving his ex-wife Camille. His latest show, Boss, canceled after two seasons, was an earnest attempt to deliver hard-edged drama for primetime television. This after two multiple-camera sitcoms that crashed and burned, Back to You (2007-2008) and Hank (2009).


Back to You showed a lot of promise, but perhaps we should be thankful for its cancellation; after all, its creators Steven Levitan and Christopher Lloyd went on to make Modern Family, with Back to You co-star Ty Burrell, after this.


Hank also seemed to do everything right in the beginning. The subject was timely, having a Wall Street executive lose everything and trying to get used to a new life; Grammer also seemed to connect with his character on Frasier. But viewers never gave it a shot, and it was pretty conventional stuff. 

So, what’s up next? Well, Grammer is currently shooting Reach Me, a drama co-starring Sylvester Stallone and Cary Elwes, directed by John Herzfeld who made another film Grammer starred in, 15 Minutes (2001). I have a feeling that Grammer will bounce back. The hunt for the right project post-Frasier continues.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

An American Carol


americancarolAs America-bashing documentary filmmaker Michael Malone (Kevin Farley) is preparing a campaign to have July 4th abolished as a holiday, he is visited by the ghost of John F. Kennedy. From a right-winger’s point of view, this take on Dickens’s “Christmas Carol” is a clever idea executed as a Naked Gun-type spoof. However, the low quality of the jokes (as well as David Zucker’s flawed grasp of history) should make even righties squirm in their seats. At least Kelsey Grammer and Jon Voight avoid embarrassing themselves.

2008-U.S. 83 min. Color. Directed by David Zucker. Cast: Kevin Farley (Michael Malone), Kelsey Grammer (George Patton), Trace Adkins (Angel of Death), Robert Davi, Jon Voight, Chriss Anglin… Leslie Nielsen, Dennis Hopper, James Woods, Gary Coleman. Cameos: Bill O’Reilly, Paris Hilton.

Trivia: Alternative title: Big Fat Important Movie.

8.gif kopia



VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)