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Could HBO's 'Rome' rise again?

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Rome was Game of Thrones before Game of Thrones.

Like HBO’s fantasy hit, the 2005 series was a sprawling non-contemporary swords-and-shields drama with a large ensemble cast and plenty of violence and sex. It was extremely well written and acted, launching its cast into stardom. Rome was also quite expensive and shot overseas, just like Thrones.

Except Rome was canceled, with HBO making the tough decision to ax the show before its second season even aired in order to save money on maintaining production resources in Italy. It’s rare that networks ever admit that ending a show was a mistake, but HBO executives later did, at least privately. Actors such as Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson, and James Purefoy went onto other ventures, and creator Bruno Heller launched a more more traditional drama — The Mentalist — to big CBS ratings.

After Thrones debuted to acclaim and popularity in 2011, one Rome star couldn’t help but feel a little sore about the way things turned out, with Purefoy declaring Thrones “stole our f–king show.”

Today, Heller doesn’t agree with that sentiment, but does note Rome helped pave the way for Thrones. READ FULL STORY

Michael Patrick King talks the future of 'The Comeback' -- EXCLUSIVE

If you blinked between June 5 and September 4, 2005, you might have missed one of the funniest TV shows to ever grace premium cable. Though it aired in a primo time slot right after Entourage, HBO’s meta-reality series The Comeback never garnered the numbers to save itself from cancellation doom, and so after 13 riotous episodes, the first season of the Lisa Kudrow comedy also became its last.

“In the beginning, my joke was that The Comeback fans were like the early Christians — they were small groups hidden in caves who knew there was a message but they were afraid to get it out,” says Michael Patrick King (of Sex and the City fame), who co-created the series with the show’s star Kudrow, in her first major TV role since Friends ended in 2004.

Kudrow starred as Valerie Cherish, a washed-up actress who allowed her quest for fame to be filmed for a reality show called The Comeback. Valerie’s reluctant acceptance of the invasive cameras in her home spelled out her sheer desperation to be back in the spotlight again (her network show I’m It! was a three-year hit before it, too, was canceled). Throughout the season, viewers began to see the horribly depressing but somehow hilarious struggle of a woman who faced Hollywood through a gritted smile as she desperately tried to stave off the inevitability that she was becoming a joke (she earns pseudo-redemption when she’s cast on a sitcom about four sexy singles… as frumpy supporting cast member Aunt Sassy). READ FULL STORY

John Oliver's new show gets title, premiere date

This April, John Oliver will begin delivering last week’s news.

HBO announced Wednesday that its new topical comedy series — starring the former Daily Show correspondent  – has a name: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. (What, The Weekly Show felt too on the nose?) The show, which will present “a satirical look at the week in news, politics, and current events,” is set to debut Sunday, April 27 on HBO.

Oliver joined The Daily Show in 2006 and had what amounted to a two-month-long audition for his own program this past summer, when he filled in for regular host Jon Stewart. He has received three Emmys for his work on Stewart’s writing staff. Oliver is also the host of Comedy Central’s John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up Show, which showcases both up-and-coming and established comedians.

'Game of Thrones' trailer: The full season 4 preview -- VIDEO

Skip these mere words and hit play on the awesomeness below then come back up and read this text if you’re still seeking an introduction to the epic Game of Thrones season 4 trailer.

Done? Great. What you just saw was nearly two minutes of Game of Thrones‘ upcoming season. Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss tell us that fans should expect this season to have plenty of action, and the trailer certainly suggests the Seven Kingdoms and beyond will see plenty of drama and unrest despite Tywin Lannister’s tragic crushing of the Northern rebellion last year. In case you’re wondering who is that spear-wielding balletic young warrior in the arena, that would be the Red Viper, a new character who plays a major role this season (more on him here). Thrones returns April 6 on HBO. READ FULL STORY

Julia Roberts originally turned down role in HBO's 'The Normal Heart'

Ryan Murphy may have scored a star-studded cast for his HBO adaptation of the Tony-winning play The Normal Heart, but he almost had to do it without Julia Roberts.

Roberts, who took the stage today with the rest of the cast at the Television Critics Association press tour, said her initial hesitations to play Dr. Emma Booker, a doctor with polio who does HIV research, stemmed from what she felt was a lack of understanding about the character. That changed after she saw a documentary on polio. “It unlocked the door to who this woman is to me and where her ferocious pursuit of correctness comes from,” said Roberts. “That’s when Ryan received what he always gets, which is the answer he wants.”

When casting the male characters in the film — many of whom are gay — Murphy said that process involved simply going “after people who we thought would be wonderful and committed in the roles, and that’s what we got.” No thought went to sexuality of the actors themselves. “I don’t think of actors as gay or straight. I think of them as great actors, and I never went after anybody because of their sexuality. I went after what I considered to be the best actors for the part — the one who added the most nuance to it.” Above all, said Murphy, “Really this movie is about love and fighting for love and wanting to be treated equally, and I think that’s an incredibly modern idea. We read about it every day.”
READ FULL STORY

Damon Lindelof reveals details about his new HBO drama 'The Leftovers'

Damon Lindelof returns to the world of television this summer with a novel concept —  literally and figuratively. The Lost co-creator is adapting Tom Perrotta’s 2011 bestseller The Leftovers into an HBO drama series (starring Justin Theroux, Liv Tyler, and Amy Brenneman, among others) that follows the residents of New York town three years after a rapture-like event whisked away 140 million people across the globe. Pick up a copy of EW’s 2014 Preview Issue to steal a glance at a script page from the first episode, which is directed by Peter Berg (who is also an executive producer on the show). Below, Lindelof reveals more to EW about this highly anticipated disappearing act.

On his decision to make another TV show and what attracted him to The Leftovers
“When Lost was ending, the two questions were: ‘What are your feelings about the ending of Lost?’ And ‘What’s next?’ The way I was answering the ‘What’s next?’ question was, ‘I don’t really want to think about it right now — I just want to enjoy this process,’ but the truth was ‘I don’t know if I can ever do another television show again because I’m so terrified that it’ll be just so much less than Lost,’ and I didn’t quite know any classy way of articulating that idea…. I went off into movie-ville with no real strong feelings about whether or not I was going to do TV again. I’m fairly monogamous when it comes to whatever project I’m working on, so I spent a year working on Prometheus and nothing else and then I spent a year working on Star Trek: Into Darkness. And then I was reading The New York Times Book Review – which is the way that I pretend to read books; I read the reviews of the books and then I can articulately pretend like I’ve read them — and Stephen King wrote a review of The Leftovers, which he described as the best episode of The Twilight Zone that had never been shot. I was a Perotta fan. I read Little Children and The Abstinence Teacher and just on the premise alone [of The Leftovers]. I was completely and totally engaged by this idea. I ran and got the book immediately and I got maybe 50 pages in before I decided: This should be a television show and I need to collaborate with Tom [Perrotta, who is an exec producer and co-wrote the pilot with Lindelof] on that show. It took a year for things to sort themselves out but there was never any doubt as to like, ‘Should this be my next project?’ It was love at first sight.”
READ FULL STORY

Get to know HBO's 'True Detectives,' a.k.a. Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey -- VIDEO

Who, exactly, are the men at the center of HBO’s upcoming crime drama True Detective? That’d be Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson), a pair of vets with opposing personalities.

See, Marty was once a good man, according to his wife Maggie (Michelle Monaghan) — but his “f—ing job, it confused him and it tested him… brought out the worst in him,” she explains over footage of Harrelson slowly lowering a gun and drinking heavily. “Marty’s single big problem is that he never really knew himself,” she continues.

Rust, on the other hand, has the opposite problem: “Rust knew exactly who he was, and there was no talking him out of it. Rust was maybe the least confused person I’ve ever met,” she says, as we watch McConaughey violently confront someone in an interrogation room. So… bad cop/worse cop, then?

READ FULL STORY

New 'Girls' trailer: If there's no turkey bacon, Hannah will take regular bacon -- VIDEO

That sort of sums everything up, doesn’t it?

In this newest trailer for Girls season 3, Shoshanna marvels at how little her three older pals have accomplished in the four years since they graduated college. (Wait — we don’t count spending two days hooking up with Patrick Wilson as an accomplishment?)

If the clip is any indication, that all could change in the show’s upcoming episodes. Hannah, at least, seems like she’ll find some success during a meeting with a publisher. But elsewhere, things seem pretty business as usual; Marnie is telling someone standing offscreen that he can’t break up with her. Jessa is looking moody and pseudo-European. Hannah is doing spit takes and dancing around and incessantly talking about food. (It’s like she knows what the haters are saying!) At least they still seem to be having a little more fun than they did last season.

READ FULL STORY

'Boardwalk Empire' post-mortem: Jeffrey Wright says Narcisse suffers 'spiritual assassination'

Spoilers for the Boardwalk Empire season finale ahead! With Nucky winding down his operations, Van Alden reclaiming his identity, and Harrow going from living to not living (sad!), the major players of Boardwalk Empire each found themselves undergoing a transformation during the fourth season finale.

Harlem intellectual and “business” man Dr. Valentin Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright) started off the season as the new king in town, chipping away at Chalky White’s control of the predominantly black North Side community in Atlantic City. By season’s end, he may have survived a botched assassination attempt, but according to Wright, he suffers a “real spiritual assassination” when J. Edgar Hoover (Eric Ladin) forces him to become his informant for the Bureau of Investigation.

“He becomes what he despises at the beginning and that is a servant pretending to be a king, so it all comes full circle,” Wright explains. READ FULL STORY

Watch HBO's 'Getting On' pilot online

Last night, HBO premiered its latest half-hour comedy Getting On. Starring Niecy Nash, Alex Borstein, and Laurie Metcalf, the show follows the three women through their daily lives working in an extended care unit and caring for the elderly women residing there.

The pilot introduces viewers to Dawn (Borstein), the veteran nurse who’s eager to please Dr. James (Metcalf), and the newbie in the department, Nurse Didi (Nash), who quickly realizes that she’s taken a job where she can expect the unexpected, even when it comes to the chairs in the lobby. It will all make sense when you watch the pilot, which HBO has already put online.

You can watch the pilot here, and catch the next episode of Getting On Sunday, Dec. 1 at 10 p.m. on HBO.

Jonathan Groff navigates the perils of online dating in full-length trailer for HBO's 'Looking' -- VIDEO

Earlier this month we saw the teaser for HBO’s upcoming series Looking, but now we’ve our first full-length trailer for the gay dramedy starring Jonathan Groff (C.O.G). In the opening, Groff’s Patrick proclaims  “It’s San Francisco, it shouldn’t be too hard to meet cool people in this town.” But his optimistic adage is easier said than done. Patrick finds difficulty deciphering potential matches’ online profiles when photo apps prove too sneaky, “Instagram filters have ruined everything and I can’t tell if this guy is hot or not.” We also see Dom (Murray Barlett) trying out new fitness classes, re-evaluating his career prospects, and ragging on his aging self, “God, I’m such a cliche.”

Watch the full-length trailer below: READ FULL STORY

Niecy Nash on her new HBO comedy 'Getting On': 'We are not doing 'Scrubs,' okay?'

Niecy Nash is trying something new. The comedic actress and author is currently starring in HBO’s latest half-hour comedy Getting On, a far cry from her days as the loud-mouthed Raineesha Williams on Reno 911!

From the writers of Big Love, Getting On tells the story behind the doctors and nurses of the Billy Barnes Extended Care Unit of Mt. Palms Hospital in Long Beach, California. A remake of the BBC series by the same name, the comedy stars Laurie Metcalf, Alex Borstein, and Nash as three women who spend their days helping the elderly live their day-to-day lives.We caught up with Nash to talk about her latest career choice, and Getting On‘s pilot, which aired Sunday.

READ FULL STORY

Watch the new trailer for HBO mystery series 'True Detective' -- VIDEO

HBO released a new trailer for its mystery drama True Detective.  Starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, the series centers around two detectives on a hunt to close a case involving a serial killer in Louisiana on the loose for over seventeen years.

Watch the trailer below: READ FULL STORY

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