Notorious: True Life as Fiction (Review)

KATE JENNINGS GRANT, RYAN GUZMAN, SEPIDEH MOAFI, PIPER PERABO, DANIEL SUNJATA, J. AUGUST RICHARDS, AIMEE TEEGARDEN, KEVIN ZEGERS

ABC has included Notorious to is fall schedule. Starring Piper Perabo and Daniel Sunjata the show is inspired by the real life relationship between criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos and the award-winning cable newsproducer Wendy Walker. Incidentally, Walker is acting as executive producer for this new series.

Walker, who was Larry King’s producer for years,  worked with Geragos to not only break news but to craft it.  These  two influenced  some of the world’s most infamous news stories.

In Notorious, King has been replaced with a woman; Louise Herrick (Kate Jennings Grant). Walker has become Julia George (Perabo) and Geragos is Jake Gregorian (Sunjata). The first episode also features Jake’s brother Bradley (played by J. August Richards).

The first episode features a hit and run, allegedly committed by a “dot com”  businessman.  Oscar Keaton (Kevin Zegers) is a success in the social media world and he is in a stand off with the police at the beginning of the episode. 

Through the course of the show, his wife is murdered and now the case has taken on a new significance.

Julia and Jake work together behind the scenes to “make” the news go in the direction of their choosing.  Presumably these fictional representations of Walker and Geragos are merely aping what happened in the real world.

George is the power behind “Louise Herrick Live” (LHL),  hers is the voice on the other end of that earpiece and it is Julia who manipulates facts to fit their story.  Although Louise can and does run with a story when she senses the time is right. Gregorian is the willing partner in this creation of news to order.  He represents Keaton and is juggling facts as furiously as George.

Other series regulars include Aimee Teagarden as Ella Benjamin, Ryan Guzman as Ryan Mills and  Sepideh Moafi as Megan Byrd.  Marc Blucas plays  Julia’s boyfriend/fiancé who is a newly appointed judge and a bit of a player. 

The chemistry between Perabo and Sunjata is good, it is easy to believe that these two have a working friendship that is built on necessity and mutual attraction of talents.  Just as Walker and Geragos must have seemed in the real world.

The story in the opening episode may  not be based on hard  fact or, if it is, has been altered “to protect the innocent.”  Perabo’s character, the fictionalized Walker, gives the impression that this job is an addiction for her.  Julia George loves the thrill of the chase and beating every other network to the punch.

Sunjata plays Geragos as George’s ethereal twin. He too loves the rush of battle but savors the win and using the news to shape the headlines and his client’s outcome. It is a perfect pairing and each actor plays their role impeccably.

On a sidenote: It was brilliant to see the excellent Marc Blucas again.

While the pilot episode is entertaining, it has one heck of an open ending,  it will be interesting to see how long this new series runs. It may prove difficult to keep coming up with clients that do not come near any real life personalities that Walker and Geragos “managed.”

Notorious looks polished and snappy. The pace is quick, as it should be, and offers the viewer some entertaining characters.  It may be influenced by  real people but being  based in fiction may have a hard time delivering each week.

The series premieres 22  September  on ABC.

Carriers (2009): The World Ends with a Cough

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As apocalyptic films go, this offering from the writing and directing duo of David and Alex Pastor is pretty damned good. In case you’re wondering why their names sound so familiar, it’s probably because they gave us the film Splinter as well as a few other gruesome films. I do mean gruesome in a “good” way.

The world has been infected with a plague. This viral (and air-borne) disease is an instant death sentence. With no cure in sight, survivors are trying to hold out until a cure can be found. The Green Brothers; Brian and Danny have teamed up with two girls and they’re heading to Turtle Beach. A place from their childhood; a place that holds happy memories and a chance to escape the disease.

Starring Chris Pine as the arsehole-ish older alpha male brother (Brian) of Lou Taylor Pucci (Danny) and the self acclaimed leader of their little band of survivors. The other members of the gang are: Piper Perabo as Bobby, Brian’s love interest and Emily VanCamp as Kate, who is maybe and maybe not, Danny’s love interest.

*On a side note here. Am I alone in thinking that VanCamp could pass as a Helen Hunt clone? She really resembles the older actress. Or is it just me? Answers on a postcard please.*

At the beginning of the film, this little band of travellers come across Frank (Christopher Meloni) and his sick daughter Jodie (Kiernan Shipka) rather than help the two by giving them much-needed petrol (gasoline) they swerve their car around and cause damage to the oil pump. They wind up going back and “taking” Frank, Jodie and their car with them.

It is the addition of these two that changes the path of the film and affects everyone in the gang of four.

Frank and Jodie; deadly cargo.
Frank and Jodie; deadly cargo.

I really enjoyed the film, despite it being about the umpteenth apocalyptic film I’ve seen this year. (Jeeze, obsession much?) I decided to give it a go, even though the trailer was a bit misleading. It looked like yet another Zombie Apocalypse, but it is not. It is an ensemble “end of the world” film that relies on the power of the story and the actors to sell it.

I think they succeeded.

All the actors delivered, no matter how small their screen time actually was. Mark Moses (Paul Young on Desperate Housewives among other great roles) was brilliant as the emotionally shattered Doctor who the group meet in Farmington. Honourable mention also has to be given to Kiernan Shipka as the “masked” Jodie. Despite not getting to see her whole face for the majority of her performance, she sold it, baby, she sold it.

At about an hour and a half running time, the film is not overly long and the story moves forward quite well.

I got a huge “kick” out of one moment in the film where the group have decided to stay in a posh Country Club Golf Course Hotel (and yes, all such “posh” places must be capitalised, thank you) and they have inadvertently put themselves in danger. The two “blondes” of the gang, Danny and Kate recreate the kitchen scene from Jurassic Park (minus the velociraptors). To me, it was a highlight in the film and showed the makers sense of humour and their movie “geek-cred.”

This is a real 4 out of 5 star film mainly because of the strength of the performances. Amazingly, even though I did not like Brian, the leader, I at least understood him. So great result from “Team Pastor” and all of their cast.

Bleach and petrol, images of a post apocalyptic world.
Bleach and petrol, images of a post apocalyptic world.