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'Sons of Anarchy' boss: Violent premiere scene 'not meant to be sensational'

A scene that caps off the season 6 premiere of Sons of Anarchy reignited a conversation about television violence today at the Television Critics Association press tour, where Executive Producer Kurt Sutter urged critics to stay mum about the sequence “that’s not meant to be sensational.”

“I feel like if it gets leaked, it’s going to be like, ‘oh, they’re doing it to be controversial to bring more eyes to the episode,’” Sutter told reporters about the Sept. 10 episode on FX. “Honestly, I’m worried more about that kind of blowback than people finding out about that event.”

He then explained why he chose to feature such a shocking sequence that breaks from the typical action in Charming. “I’ve wanted to do that story for about three years,” Sutter said. “I knew obviously it would be somewhat controversial but I feel like as much as I wouldn’t do something just because it was controversial, I’m also not not going to do something because it’s controversial.

“I feel like it’ll continue to play out and that’s the truth,” Sutter continued. “I will also say that there’s a lot of blood and guts in my show and it’s the signature of the show, but I also feel like — and I feel like I’m not lying to myself when I say this — is that nothing is done gratuitously. The events that happen in the premiere are really the catalyst for the third act of [the series].”

Sutter does have a history of incorporating certain story lines that could be misconstrued as a ploy to grab headlines. That’s why FX kept it on the down low that Walton Goggins (Justified) had filmed a guest spot as transgender escort Venus Van Dam until it aired last season.

'NCIS,' 'Supernatural,' 'NCIS: LA,' 'Sons of Anarchy': Find out what's next in the Spoiler Room

Howdy, Roomies!

It’s that time of the week again. Excited? You should be! I am. I’ve also had a lot of caffeine this week while covering the Television Critics Association press tour with my colleagues, so … this should be interesting.

As always, send your questions to spoilerroom@ew.com.

‘NCIS’ BOSS: ‘EVERYONE HAS TO WATCH THE FIRST TWO EPISODES’
I hear ya, NCIS fans. The departure of Cote de Pablo is an unfortunate turn of events, to say the least. NCIS EP Gary Glasberg was “saddened” by the situation, too, telling me earlier this week during CBS’ annual bash for television critics that “it’s the last thing we planned on.” That said, he promised, “At the end of the day, I’m really happy with what we came up with. Everyone has to watch the first two episodes.”

Why? Well, for one, he teased, the episodes were completely reworked in order to accommodate this curve ball. “I literally had to lock myself away and everything I was planning on had to be blown out and I had to start all over again,” he says of the news, which came after plans for the season had already begun. “Again, it’s not what we had hoped for. This family — this NCIS family that exists between [the characters] — is so special and so unique, and this was Cote’s decision and we have to respect that … but some really fantastic work is going to come out of what occurred. We have some really terrific stuff planned for the year.”

So what ARE those plans? For one, Ziva will be “prominent” in the second episode of the season and “it’s a really touching, emotional story and I promise the viewers will not be disappointed — especially the Tiva fans, as we say. I hope it’s everything they want it to be.”

He adds: “I want some of it to be a surprise, but I think people will be pleased at the end of the day with where it’s left both emotionally and psychologically — and not only for Tony, but Gibbs, Abby, and everybody. That’s a big part of what I was taking into consideration — really understanding how the people and the fans are so connected to our characters. You really have to honor that.”

Who’s already crying?
READ FULL STORY

'Sons of Anarchy' season 6 promo comes out swinging -- VIDEO

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Short and not so sweet: That describes the promo FX debuted Wednesday night for Sons of Anarchy‘s sixth season, which premieres in September. Watch it below and feel the tension rising.  READ FULL STORY

Emmy Watch: Jimmy Smits talks Nero's dark turn on 'Sons of Anarchy'

Between now and June 28, the deadline for Emmy voters to submit nomination ballots, EW.com will feature interviews with some of the actors and actresses whose names we hope to hear when nominations are announced on July 18.

Sons of Anarchy has never earned an acting Emmy nomination, but with a dozen career nods to his credit, including one win for L.A. Law, and a character as layered as sensitive ex-addict/OG gangster Nero Padilla, Jimmy Smits might be the man to change that. After meeting Smits at a Directors Guild of America function honoring Paris Barclay, an executive producer and director of Sons of Anarchy with whom Smits feels he did some of his best work at the end of his NYPD Blue run, SOA creator Kurt Sutter began talks for Smits to join the FX drama’s fifth season as the escort service-operating “companionator.”

“I was in Las Vegas the other day introducing [Vice President Joe] Biden at this function, and he comes walking in, and there’s this long receiving line, and he clocks me at the end of the line — because I’m the tallest, I always go to the end — and he says, ‘Smits, you’re breaking my heart. You go from a politician, to a policeman, to a judge, to now you’re with these guys,’” Smits tells EW, laughing at the ribbing. Here, we asked Smits to talk about the episode (“To Thine Own Self”) in which nice-guy Nero, who wanted to leave the life behind him, was sucked back in.

And yes, Barclay directed it.
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Emmy Watch: 'Sons of Anarchy' star Maggie Siff talks Tara's rise and fall (and rise again)

Between now and June 28, the deadline for Emmy voters to submit nomination ballots, EW.com will feature interviews with some of the actors and actresses whose names we hope to hear when nominations are announced on July 18.

Jax’s old lady Tara has always been the character to whom many Sons of Anarchy fans relate most: As long as this strong, smart woman is willing to stay in this outlaw world, it’s safe for us to play in it, too. That’s why it felt like we were all being punished when she was led away in handcuffs at the end of the season 5 finale. Siff spoke with EW about filming that soul-sucking scene, the season’s controversial masturbation moments (including the one with death row inmate Otto, played by series creator Kurt Sutter), and where her character goes from here. READ FULL STORY

'Sons of Anarchy': Drea de Matteo returning

With Tara (Maggie Siff) being led away in handcuffs in Sons of Anarchy‘s season 5 finale, it’s no surprise that Wendy (Drea de Matteo), Jax’s ex-wife and mother of his first-born, Abel, will be back in the picture in season 6. As TV Line was the first to report, de Matteo will reprise her role in multiple episodes. EW has confirmed the return engagement starts with the season 6 premiere in September.

In the December finale, Tara had wanted Jax to sign legal documents naming Wendy as their sons’ legal guardian should anything happen to them. But after Tara’s arrest for conspiring to murder the prison nurse Otto stabbed with the crucifix she’d brought him, Jax tore the papers in half. He’d recently shot up recovering addict Wendy with heroin to discredit her should she try to pursue a custody battle for Abel, so we wouldn’t expect him to welcome her help now.  READ FULL STORY

'Good Wife' co-creator Robert King explains that 'Vampire Diaries' fan fiction reference -- VIDEO

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On Sunday’s episode of CBS’ The Good Wife, Diane (Christine Baranski) asked the firm’s investigator Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) to run a background check on her so she’d know where she’d be vulnerable if Peter Florrick (Chris Noth) is elected governor and nominates her for the vacant seat on the Illinois Supreme Court, as planned. The first thing Kalinda turned up: Vampire Diaries fan fiction originating from Diane’s home IP address and email. Watch the scene below. (Spoiler alert: Diane blames her housekeeper, who lacks boundaries.)

“We know [TVD exec producer] Kevin Williamson through Writers Guild things, and we think he’s wonderful. And we also thought he’d be fine with a reference to the show’s fan fiction,” Good Wife co-creator Robert King tells EW in an email. “We obviously wanted something that seemed ludicrous and out-of-character for Diane to be doing. We tried two other things: Sons of Anarchy fan fiction and incestuous fan fiction for Supernatural.”  READ FULL STORY

Best of 2012: 5 TV shows that got better

Few things are more satisfying than realizing that a TV show you love is getting better. Evolution and experimentation is built into the long-form television medium. Sometimes that experimentation goes horribly wrong, and some course-correction is required. Other times, a show that’s always been good starts firing on all cylinders at once. Here are our five picks for the Most Improved TV Shows of 2012.

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InsideTV Podcast: Is 'Homeland' getting dumber each and every week?

Image Credit: Kent Smith

Image Credit: Kent Smith

Homeland is taking a lot of heat for its most recent episode. And with good reason — it was preposterous! Are we supposed to believe that the CIA would actually not be monitoring the phone of an admitted terrorist who recently had a bomb strapped to his chest while he tried to assassinate the Vice President of the United States? Are we also supposed to believe that there is no security or cameras in the Vice President’s house and that you can tell someone you’re going to take a leak and then simply go anywhere you want? Oh, and since when can you Skype on a Blackberry? Those were just a few of the head-scratchers that we were expected to swallow.

But it is not the first time that Homeland has dipped into the pool of preposterous. Remember earlier this season when Abu Nazir needed to send someone discreetly to get his tailor/bomb maker — who was under surveillance — out of Gettysburg, and instead of dispatching a faceless nobody, he sent a famous war hero and U.S. congressman (Brody) to the man’s shop instead? Sure, that wouldn’t raise eyebrows! Makes about as much sense as answering a call from your wife on your cell phone while you are in the process of killing a guy in the woods. All this raises the question — did we give Homeland too much credit as a thinking person’s thriller? Have the incredible performances by Claire Danes and Damian Lewis blinded us to the fact that the show has had some creative missteps — hit and run, anyone? — along the way? Or are we simply holding the show to too high a standard? Should we just take the dumb plot twists in stride, like we did on the producers’ previous cougar-infested terrorist series, 24, where such absurdity almost added to the show’s charm? Jessica Shaw and I tackle that very topic on this week’s installment of the InsideTV Podcast. (The Homeland discussion starts at 14:45.)

Also, on the menu, Mandi Bierly and I break down the crazy Sons of Anarchy finale, and then the most recently voted off contestant of Survivor: Philippines, Carter Williams, calls in to talk about how he feels about being practically edited out of the entire show while also sharing his big move that we did not see. READ FULL STORY

InsideTV Podcast: Carter from 'Survivor' talks about being invisible, and his big move that was never shown

Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

He came. He saw. But we barely saw him. Carter Williams did a good job on Survivor: Philippines, winning challenges and making it all the way to the final six. But he didn’t do a good job when it came to air-time as he was seemingly MIA the entire season. What is it like to live out on an island for 33 days with a camera in your face 24 hours a day recording every step you take and every move you make, and then have basically none of it air once the show makes in onto TV? We asked the ousted Carter that very question when he called into this week’s edition of the InsideTV Podcast, and it turns out the running coach was not too psyched about his skimpy air-time. Carter also gives us his take on Hurricane Abi, as well as some insight into what we didn’t see, including what he calls his biggest move of the game. To hear more from Carter than you heard all season long, just click on the audio player icon below. (The Survivor chat starts at 22:00 while the  interview begins at 28:00.)

We start things out, however, by looking back at this week’s big Sons of Anarchy season finale. SOA expert Mandi Bierly gives her take on an episode that was so tense it almost had her biting off her own tongue. We exchange our dueling theories as to who is responsible for Tara heading to the slammer, and Mandi offers up bits of intel for where things could be headed in season 6.

Then, Jessica Shaw and I lament last Sunday’s episode of Homeland, which we agree was the series’ worst ever — an installment that was filled with massive plot holes and characters acting in ways that made no sense. Are we bring too nitpicky and holding this show to too high a standard, or was it as bad as we say it is? And after some other plot missteps — hit and run, anyone? — can the show recover? (The Homeland discussion begins at 14:45.) READ FULL STORY

Best of 2012: From 'Bachelorette' to Fox News and 'Revenge' -- The fights of the year

Whether TV’s feistiest figures were slapping each other down with words or fists, there was plenty of strife to go around this year. Below, we reminisce fondly over all the boob slapping, bare knuckle boxing, Bachelorette beatdowns, and more. READ FULL STORY

Best of 2012: Did that really just happen? TV plot twists

Deaths, daddy issues, and a “Did she just do that?!” moment. These five single moments had lasting effects on their shows — and their shocked viewers. READ FULL STORY

'SOA' season finale: Kim Coates talks Tig's fate

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched Sons of Anarchy‘s season 5 finale, stop reading now. One of the big questions was whether fan favorite Tig (Kim Coates) would live or die. In a pre-finale EW.com poll, 21 percent of readers thought Pope (Harold Perrineau) would get his revenge on Tig, the man who killed his daughter (and the man whose daughter Pope burned alive in retaliation in the season premiere), while 28 percent thought Jax (Charlie Hunnam) would find a way to save Tig and 51 percent believed Tig would end up flying to Ireland with Clay (Ron Perlman). And… READ FULL STORY

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