Today in show business news: PBS had a real ratings bonanza last night, Ryan Lochte has officially been given his own show, and One Direction unveils their latest filmic masterpiece.
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Last night's imperfect but undeniably entertaining third-season premiere of Downton Abbey earned the show its highest American ratings to date. The two-hour broadcast bowed to a whopping 7.9 million viewers, coming in behind only CBS for the night. That 7.9 million number marked a whopping 96% increase over last season's premiere, so the past year in Downton praise certainly did the show some good. And y'know what? That is great. Sure the show isn't quite as intelligent or complexly crafted as it's sometimes made out to be, but it is smarter and subtler than lots of stuff on television, and it's set in an interesting historical time, so, well done, Americans! Not everything has to be terrible urban murder or goofy doctors. Some things can be quiet looks between two stifled people and details about Canadian railway companies and drama about broken ovens. We don't require hokey special effects or wine-soaked cat fights in mansions. Sometimes we can like small(-ish) and mostly serious stuff, and Downton Abbey reminds us of that. Jolly good job all around. [The Hollywood Reporters]
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Back to the sad dumb regular world of American television: Ryan Lochte, swimbo hunk of the London Olympics, has landed a reality show on E!. The show, called What Would Ryan Lochte Do?, was hinted at a while ago, but now E! has officially confirmed its existence at the TCAs. The six-episode series "will feature the swimmer partying and training as he prepares for the 2016 Rio Olympics while building his fashion line, making media appearances, dealing with his close-knit and outspoken family and friends and looking for the right girl." So... basically every reality show on E! plus Olympics. The other stuff — fashion line, media appearances, looking for love, wacky family/awful friends — is pure E!, from Keeping Up to Pretty Wild. Welcome to the family, Ryan. No, no honey, not really, it's just an expression, you're still part of your real family. Don't worry. It's fine. Shh, shh, sweet boy, it's OK. Here's a glass of milk, why not go play with your toys in the living room and we'll make you a grilled cheese. There's a lad. Go on now. [Deadline]
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Theater news! Aren't you guys excited for some theater news?? Of course you are. The first bit is that Maura Tierney has been officially confirmed as Tom Hanks's costar in the upcoming Nora Ephron play Lucky Guy, which will mark both Hanks's and Tierney's Broadway debuts. Tierney will play the wife of Hanks's New York Post tabloid reporter, while Courtney B. Vance will play his editor. So while the subject matter of the show isn't exactly the most thrilling — Ephron covering seedy 1980s New York seems like a strange fit — it certainly has a good cast. Speaking of a show with a good cast, the upcoming play I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat With Sue Mengers has a great roster: Bette Midler. That's it! It's a one-woman show, you see. Midler will play real-life Hollywood "superagent" Sue Mengers, who basically represented anyone who was anyone in the 1970s. And she was a refugee from Nazi Germany. So this ought to be a fun role for Midler, all brassy and powerful and steeped in the vernacular of the 1970s. That's essentially her wheelhouse, isn't it? Excitingly, this will be Midler's first time on Broadway in a non-concert/revue type thing since she was in the chorus of Fiddler On the Roof in the 1960s. Welcome back, Bette. Maybe stay for a while? Like forever? [Playbill; Playbill]
Rachel Weisz suggested in a recent interview that her witch character will be the bad one in Sam Raimi's upcoming Oz the Great and Powerful, though there has been some online speculation as to who would eventually end up the Wicked Witch of the West. The leading theory seems to be that Weisz actually plays the Wicked Witch of the East, with Mila Kunis as the ultimately avenging Wicked Witch of the West. That would make Michelle Williams Glinda the Good Witch, but I think that's all a little too obvious, don't you? I know that Williams is credited as Glinda on IMDb and everything, but maybe there's a chance they'll pull a fast one on us, some big late-game twist, that has Williams actually playing the villain? I think that would make a currently unexciting-looking movie actually somewhat interesting. So let's hope that's the case. Kunis turns out to be the good one, Weisz gets smooshed by the house, and Wiliams is purest evil. Even if that's not currently the case, maybe they have time to do some reshoots? Can't imagine that would be all that difficult. Get on it, Raimi. [Entertainment Weekly]
If you heard a wail up in atmosphere today and thought it was a new, high-pitched kind of Sky Noise, fear not. It wasn't the HAARP or the aliens or whatever causes those fearsome moans and rumbles, it was just millions of tween girls and boys screaming about the new One Direction video, "Kiss You," which was released today. In it, the five beloved boys -- Harry, Niall, Fritz, Aloysius, Dr. Destructo -- are dressed in prison uniforms! They're driving a motorcycle! OMG, they're shirtless. It's all a very big deal and thus their fans reacted bigly. We saw an entire pack of girls actually lift off the surface of the Earth and blast off into the air. We've also heard reports of a pack of young gay men spinning themselves into a whirling dervish so quickly that they bore a hole in the ground and bobbed up in the ocean near Australia. It's serious business. To know what all the fuss is about, give it a watch.