the Buzz for April 2013


”I loved [season] finales as a kid. Knots Landing had the best finales. So I really put my heart and soul into [mine] and try to make them special because I know that’s what I want to see as a viewer.”

The Following creator Kevin Williamson, speaking to Entertainment Weekly about the climactic final installment of his cat-and-mouse drama’s intense first season, which airs tonight on Fox. (The above quote doesn’t really have anything to do with anything, except that I’ve had Knots on the brain lately — perhaps you can blame the conversation I just recorded for Brandon’s Buzz Radio with its legendary star Joan Van Ark, which I’ll be posting directly — and, seeing as how that show never really got the respect it so richly deserved during its original run throughout the ’80s and early ’90s, I always get a peculiar thrill out of spotting any of today’s brilliant showrunners daring to reference Knots as an inspiration for their own work. After all, their more muted, character-driven cliffhangers were often overshadowed — at least in terms of cultural interest and impact — by the flashier season-ending antics displayed by Dallas and Dynasty back in the day, but I for one strongly doubt I’ll ever see another finale as compelling as Knots‘ 1987 outing — the infamous “crack in the cement” event, which TV Guide‘s ace critic Matt Roush just this morning named as one of the 60 greatest closing episodes in television history — or its 1988 effort, a taut and terrifying two-person teleplay starring the dynamite Teri Austin as a completely deranged hellcat hell-bent on murdering her romantic rival — the aforementioned Ms. Van Ark — and making it look like suicide. Good luck trying to top either of those episodes, Kevin, and thanks for bringing back some fun memories, kind sir.)


Julie Roberts — “Break Down Here” (from Julie Roberts) —

Was I the only one devastated this past Monday night when not one of the four judges on NBC’s thrilling singing competion The Voice — not even fellow country artist Blake Shelton, who has made her acquaintance in the past and who was clearly heartbroken when he realized whose fine vocal stylings he had failed to recognize — turned his or her chair around for the magnificent Roberts, who was so desperately resolute in her determination to steal a second shot in the spotlight after a series of personal setbacks wiped out her once-promising career? Granted, her wobbly take on Shelton’s smash “God Gave Me You” was perhaps not the finest showcase for Roberts’ still-potent pipes, but I was rooting hard for her nonetheless, if only because I still clearly remember the blinding brilliance of her profoundly powerful 2004 debut album, as fine a collection of torch songs and burning ballads as Nashville has produced in the last two decades. That record, for reasons that still remain unclear to me, failed to make a serious dent in the country charts that year: “Here,” the stunning lead single, barely clawed its way into the top 20 at country radio, and its two follow-up tracks (including “Wake Up Older,” a gorgeously harrowing chronicle of an unfulfilling one night stand) hardly made it above number 50. A poorly-promoted sophomore effort stiffed a couple of years later, marking the end of the line for Roberts’ first stab at fame. Seeing her on national television the other night (for the first time in years!) served as a strong reminder that although said fame can be fickle and fleeting, talent always finds a way to re-emerge.


georgia king

One of the rare creative high points in what has become yet another disappointing television season for NBC has been Ryan Murphy’s charmingly deranged dramedy The New Normal, which, with its stories on love, civil rights, fairness within the evolving social fabric, and the ties that bind us together — hardly paint-by-numbers, laugh-a-minute sitcom fodder — has offered up a fresh new twist on typical prime-time family fare. Among the sterling standouts of Normal‘s instantly winning ensemble has been the lovely lass Georgia King, who was already a star in the United Kingdom long before she took these shores by storm in the role of Goldie, a naive young Midwestern woman who winds up carrying as a surrogate a baby for a pair of California men — one of whom is portrayed by Broadway veteran Andrew Rannells, with whom I spoke earlier this year — desperate for a child of their own. Normal ends its first season this very evening on NBC with a special hourlong finale episode which will presumably showcase the conclusion of the pregnancy in question; I spoke with King a few months back about her entree into American television, keeping a straight face in a cast of utter cut-ups, and how in blazes she manages to hide that Scottish accent so impeccably.

BRANDON’S BUZZ: Having watched every episode of your show, I didn’t have the foggiest clue until I started reading up on you, in preparation of speaking with you, that you aren’t even an American actress! You’ve done an utterly marvelous job of masking and losing altogether your Scottish brogue!

GEORGIA KING: [Laughs] I forget myself that I’m doing another accent [for the show], to be honest, and the shock on peoples’ faces during Emmy weekend [last year] was enough to sort of jog my memory. I don’t stay in character [on set] either, so I’m there going — [assumes full Scottish accent] — “Hellooo, cup of tea!” And then it’s, “Action!” and we go straight for it.

I don’t know what it is. My mum is an opera singer, and I’m thinking maybe — I don’t know if that makes you, musically, quite good with hearing accents, or if I inherited some genetic [talent] from her. But I’ve certainly worked on it, and I certainly listen. I’ve spent a lot of time chatting with people from the Midwest just to double-check, and I definitely want to make sure I do a good job. But I’m focusing so much on the character’s pain and struggle and excitement and joy, all these different things that Goldie goes through, and I focus on that so hard that I tend to forget that the accent, to a lot of people, is shocking.