When Stars Leave Our Favorite Shows

Don’t forget about your chance to win tickets to see Hall and Oates on June 15 at Bethel Woods. We’ve got four reserved seat tickets to give away, here are all the details and rules. And please, before you enter, know that you can go. The deadline is tomorrow, good luck! The biggest ticket giveaway announcement of the summer is coming Friday.

OK, let’s see if I can make up for missing a couple days. Crazy schedule this week, sorry. How about two blog posts in 1? Links likely will be back tomorrow.

POST #1

oooo, i'm sooooo good at charades. ok, first word, sounds like ...

oooo, i'm sooooo good at charades. ok, first word, sounds like ...

We’re now at five major players on five major shows all leaving this year with the news that Laurence Fishburne is jumping the CSI ship. That’s gotta be the most in a long time, right? If last year was the year of the end of long-time shows (24, Lost, Law & Order), this year is the Year of the Departing Star. NBC loses stars of its two biggest scripted shows, CBS loses two movie stars slummin’ in the TV world, Fox loses a major love interest and TV has some real work to do to replace some of its most recognizable faces:

Steve Carell, The Office: The biggest loss. Steve Carell was the show, and what’s a little scary is that we don’t have a clear idea for who’s taking over — even though we were supposed to. Talking to producer (and Stroudsburg native) Danny Chun before the start of the season, he said we’ll probably know by the end of the year who the new boss is going to be. Yeah, umm, that didn’t happen. That means one of three things happened: Either they wanted to drag it out over the summer to build up a little extra buzz, the show’s production team doesn’t have a clear idea who they want or they’ve been turned down by their top five choices and now they’re kinda stuck. Let’s hope it’s the first, if I get a chance I’ll try to talk to Danny this week and ask him just that. One more name I want to throw out there for the new boss that dawned on me a couple weeks ago: Jason Lee. It has nothing to do with the fact that he’ll be at the race this weekend. But I’m sticking withSuggested replacement: Jason Bateman.

Christopher Meloni, Law and Order SVU: The show is designed to lose people. It seems the business model is that when actors get too expensive, they’re shown the door. Anyone who went in to this show thinking the stars would never leave probably wasn’t paying attention to any of the other L&O incarnations. It shouldn’t be a surprise. Suggested replacement: James Gandolfini. NBC needs to make a big splash, and the media coverage on this would be huge, with Tony Soprano working the other side of the law now.

Laurence Fishburne, CSI: When Fishburne started in 2009, CSI was the biggest scripted show on TV. In 2011, CSI finished as the fifth-best on its own network. Let’s not try and go crazy figuring this one out, OK? Fishburne is one of the few guys I just cannot picture playing any other role than the one I associate with him — as Furious in Boyz n the Hood. It continues to cloud my enjoyment of The Matrix. Most people see Fishburne and quote lines like, “Stop trying to hit me and hit me!” but I see him and immediately think of his Boyz monologue from when he was standing in Compton. One of my 10 favorite movie performances of all time and probably the closest movie dad to my own.

Suggested replacement: Tim Roth. Available after the cancellation of Lie to Me, so why not? He can tone it down a notch, right? It’s probably too soon this year, it would have been better next year.

i'll figure out some way to get her on tv next year

i'll figure out some way to get her on tv next year

Lisa Edlestein, House: Despite never seeing more than a couple House episodes, I’m not a big fan of drawn-out love stories that go nowhere. Even Zack and Kelly got married. Every now and then you have to switch things up, and if you have the choice between House and Cuddy, who would you think Fox would want to 86? Suggested replacement: Elizabeth Hurley. She’s available now after NBC passed on the Wonder Woman pilot.

Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men: Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on … Charlie Sheen is leaving 2.5 Men? Already announced replacement: Ashton Kutcher.

Joshua Jackson, Fringe: Just kidding. Even though Peter was supposedly erased in the season finale, he’s back next year.

And we’re already hearing about a couple that might/could/will leave their shows after next season:

Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock: 30 Rock prides itself on being an ensemble comedy and now the show is going to find out. Is it really an ensemble comedy, or is it Jack Donaghy’s personal comedic playhouse? For as much as Jack is designed to be a supporting character, Jack Donaghy is too big a personality to be pushed to the side by any of the staffers or even Liz or Tracey. That leaves TGS at a crossroads — replace Baldwin with someone who will have just a big a personality as he brought to Jack Donaghy, or turn the head of GE’s Microwave Division and occasional NBC chief into someone that can fade into the background while the focus goes back onto the TGS staff. Like Carell, there can’t ever be a real replacement for him, just someone to fill his shoes for a couple years while the show drifts into syndication heaven. Suggested replacement: No replacement. Isn’t the question of the show whether Liz Lemon can be an independent woman? Well then let’s find out.

Patrick Dempsey, Grey’s Anatomy: I couldn’t tell you if he’s McSteamy, McDreamy or McMuffin. But I do know this show never would have been watched at the start if it wasn’t for him. In a show of no-names, he was the one draw the show had. That’s changed over the last however many years the show has been on (Five? Six? 15? I’m going with six. How’d I do?) but there’s no doubt that if Dempsey does leave, everyone on this show owes him a big, fat thank you. Suggested replacement: Josh Brolin. For some reason, he’s never really got the chance to completely carry a movie other than W. It’s got to be frustrating. So why not go out and show he could carry a TV show and see if the top-banana offers start coming in then? Grey’s can’t have more than about three years left on its lifespan, that should be plenty of time to prove it and still have a John Travolta-like post age-45 movie career.

POST #2

disappointing any way you slice it

disappointing any way you figure it

I’d love to make excuses for why $56 million is still a good total for X-Men: First Class, but a couple weeks ago I ripped the Hollywood spin machine for saying the fourth Pirates movie opening at $90 million was a good opening when it was down from the openings of all the other movies.

So here is the fact: The latest X-Men is the smallest opening for any X-Men movie. And that includes the critically panned Wolverine. While $54 million would be a huge opening for about 99 percent of Hollywood movies, it’s not good enough enough for X-Men and it’s $1.5 billion franchise. Everyone is still going to be making money on this thing, but you can bet if the franchise continues in this direction, it’s going to have its budget slashed so that there is more money made the next time around.

It’s not like X-Men got less popular over the past 10 years — it’s probably way more popular than it was when the first one came out in 2000. The reviews were way, way better for First Class than X-3 and Wolverine and the trailers don’t suggest any fall off from the first series.

So there has to be something else at work here that kept it from being as big a money-maker as the first four:

1. No Wolverine. OK, well (spoiler alert!!!) kinda no Wolverine. It’s like making a movie about the 1927 Yankees and not including Babe Ruth in the cast. Or remaking Happy Days without the Fonz. If Wolverine’s in the next one, it makes $90 million, guaranteed. And why stop at Wolverine? There’s no Cyclops, no Jean Grey, no Storm … there’s a reason those four were the basis for the first movie. BECAUSE THEY’RE THE MOST POPULAR X-MEN!!! If you don’t have them, it’s tough to get excited for an X-Men movie. First Class recasts some characters from the first series, so why not just go all the way and recast them all? Not even Iceman? Really? Maybe people thought that since X-Men was a popular comic before Wolverine, people would see an X-Men movie without Wolverine. But it was popular because we didn’t know we missed Wolverine since he wasn’t introduced yet. Now we know what we’re missing, and we want to see him.

what, ellen parsons isn't a big enough draw?

what, ellen parsons isn't a big enough draw?

2. No stars. At least the first ones had an established hot girl (Halle Berry) and some sci-fi geek cred with Patrick Stewart. Apparently the relatively paltry 400,000 people that watch Damages had something better to do than to see Rose Byrne in this movie. This could be a big, big problem for Spider-Man next year. Even Thor had Natalie Portman, but Spider-Man’s got bupkis.

3. X-Men burnout. It’s been five years since Last Stand and just two since Wolverine — maybe that’s not a long enough wait for a total reboot. That’s a lesson to be learned, perhaps, for the upcoming Superman movie. 

4. It wasn’t burned out enough. Not everyone hated X3 or Wolverine, so there wasn’t a huge call for a reboot. OK, so I’m probably the only one that liked them both a pretty good deal. Sue me. But they both made huge, huge money and people probably weren’t yet ready to see Stewart dumped as Professor X just yet. The actors just became too expensive to keep them all around, and half of them got killed off. But guess who wasn’t killed off? Wolverine. Can you figure out why? Because they wanted him for sequels!!!

5. A combination of 3 and 4. Maybe superhero franchises shouldn’t be rebooted until they’re totally, completely played out. It was eight years between Batman franchises, during which time we knew we wanted to see more Batmans but we wanted Joel Schumacher physically restrained from having any involvement in them. Batman had been run into the ground — X-Men seemed like it still had legs.

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