Project Greenlight

The original Project Greenlight‘s 3-year run was an intriguing idea for a competitive reality series that, despite copious amounts of drama, never really took hold as anything other than documentation of completely uninteresting failures. The original structure of the series was flawed from Day One: finding a decent screenplay among thousands of submissions written by someone who could also direct — a very tall order for anyone. After watching the original director (Pete Jones, who shows up in Season Four) crack under the considerable pressure of making a film, seasons two and three split the contest into a screenwriting and directing contest, which offered its own set of problems.

Project Greenlight Season Four then tries to address previous issues by selecting a director based on a pre-existing screenplay, written by Jones. By doing so, the producing team, including Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, eliminates the issue of finding the right fit between director and material — or so we thought. Overall, Greenlight fits very comfortably back onto our television screens and becomes a classy addition to the competitive reality genre even if their ultimate selection of director was clearly designed to elicit the kind of conflicts inherent in the reality genre.

Affleck and Damon introduce the series with their by-now patented brand of affable chemistry, and then they quickly get out of the way and let the cameras focus on the real stars of the pilot episode — the budding filmmakers. After narrowing the field down to ten, we watch as Affleck and Damon, along with HBO producers and the Farrelly Brothers (who have signed up to shepherd the director through the broadly comic romantic script), interview the remaining field. From what I can tell, nearly everyone has some kind of filmmaking talent, so those who chose the field selected well. After a few incredibly awkward interviews (including one highly sketchy couple who filmed their entry movie as a couple, subsequently broke up, and saw the film submitted with only one name), the field is narrowed down to two major contestants — Chris, an immediately likable guy whose initial entry film was a huge hit with the team, and Jason, a pretentious and indy-influenced filmmaker with a very specific style akin to Louis C.K.

The laws of reality programming tell you which one they selected.

The episode is edited to make it appear that Jason has bombed his interview, yet he is widely seen as the best filmmaker. Jason even majorly hints that he hates the screenplay and would vastly re-write it, something that doesn’t set well with the Farrelly Brothers at all. Naturally, he is selected as the winner because his pretentiousness and repellant personality will guarantee maximum conflict which, in turn, will guarantee maximum ratings. Or HBO surely hopes, anyway.

Project Greenlight still remains a class act in the world of reality programming, not a small feat to undertake. It appeals to the inner director/writer/producer in all of us, and we watch with equal parts support in Jason’s successes and glee in his failures. It will be fascinating to see the resolution of what appears to be the central conflict: that Jason’s personal filmmaking sensibilities don’t align with the Farrelly Brother’s broadly comic tendencies at all. When Jason, after being awarded the director title, quickly approaches Affleck and Damon about replacing his screenwriter with the screenwriter of Boys Don’t Cry (quite the fit for a broad romantic comedy), you do watch with glee when Affleck and Damon kind of emotionally back away from the ensuing disaster as Bobby Farrelly gazes on in horror.

Welcome to filmmaking reality TV, folks. Strap in. It’s going to be a bumpy night.

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Note: In response some remarks by Matt Damon in last night’s episode, Clarence has expanded on this post at AwardsDailyTV:

Mansplaining Diversity on ‘Project Greenlight’

– Ryan

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 10.54.45 AM

Hopefully you have your DVRs set to record Showtime’s The Years of Living Dangerously which premieres this Sunday. Many celebrities have contributed to bring attention to the global warming crisis that conservatives continue to deny.  Jim Cameron, who really does put his money where his mouth is, and Harrison Ford are at the forefront but many famous faces dot the series. Showtime is hoping for a Season 2.  Can celebrities change the minds of people who have bought and sold by corporations to doubt what they see happening before their eyes? Who can say.  Does anything surprise us anymore about Big Money in America and what it can buy? Hm.  Either way, supporting this show isn’t the worst idea.


It’s the heat of Oscar season and all anyone can talk about is House of Cards and True Detective. When did it become all about TV? It’s hard to say when but television has provided a global community in ways that film can’t quite match.  David Fincher’s Netflix series House of Cards has revolutionized how production companies roll out TV shows but it has done more than that.  Not only does House of Cards offer a seamless array of diverse cast members – women, African Americans, Asians – it does this without breaking a sweat, proving that it really is about how minds open and close that determines casting, not a white-centric ticket-buying audience or television viewership.  Moreover, two of the episodes from House of Cards Season 2, are directed by women – Jodie Foster and Robin Wright.  The strongest characters on the show are easily the women. Anyone who binge-watched the show recognizes this – and not girly women, straight up, strong, adult women.

(continued at ADTV)

Guillermo del Toro spins The Simpsons couch opening into a montage of madness for Treehouse of Horror XXIV.

Story at ADTV


From the WGA/TV Guide via Deadline

1. The Sopranos – HBO – Created by David Chase
2. Seinfeld – NBC – Created by Larry David & Jerry Seinfeld
3. The Twilight Zone (1959) – CBS – Season One writers: Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, Robert Presnell, Jr., Rod Serling
4. All in the Family – CBS – Developed for Television by Norman Lear, Based on Till Death Do Us Part, Created by Johnny Speight
5. M*A*S*H – CBS – Developed for Television by Larry Gelbart
6. The Mary Tyler Moore Show – CBS – Created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns
7. Mad Men – AMC – Created by Matthew Weiner
8. Cheers – NBC – Created by Glen Charles & Les Charles and James Burrows
9. The Wire – HBO – Created by David Simon
10. The West Wing – NBC – Created by Aaron Sorkin

Read and comment on the full list at Awards Daily TV


NBC premiered Hannibal last night and today makes a replay available for anyone who missed it. We’re hosting the complete pilot episode at AwardsDaily/TV. Feast your eyes. It’s quite tasty.


Television development news continue to be the greatest source of excitement in the off-season.

(via THR) FX is moving forward with a Fargo adaptation. Network president John Landgraf announced during his first upfront presentation Thursday that it will launch a 10-episode adaptation of the 1996 best picture Oscar nominee as a limited series during spring 2014.

The move comes as the network looks to push into limited series and mini-series fare, a bid to compete with premiere channel HBO and to fill a void left by the increasingly tentpole-focused film industry. To hear Landgraf tell it, there is a “huge opportunity” for content that falls between between those feature films and FX’s long-running series, or “90-hour movies” as he often dubs them.

Continue reading…

Norman Bates’ origin story is revealed in the Bates Motel, premiering on A&E March 18.

Season 6 kicks off with a 2-hour season premiere, April 7. Promo for Season 5, after the cut.

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In an interview with French TV network Canal+, Steven Spielberg spoke about producing a Napoleon miniseries based on Stanley Kubrick’s script written 40 years ago.

(NYTimes) While another collaboration between Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg would seem to require a time machine, a Ouija board or some sort of interdimensional extraterrestrial monolith, plans are nonetheless underway for these two celebrated filmmakers to work together again…

“I’ve been developing Stanley Kubrick’s screenplay for a miniseries, not for a motion picture, about the life of Napoleon,” Mr. Spielberg said in the interview. “Kubrick wrote the script in 1961, long time ago, and the Kubrick family — because we made ‘A.I.’ together — the Kubrick family and I, and the next project we’re working on is a miniseries, is going to be ‘Napoleon.’”

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