I recently signed on to be Director of Photography for a TV pilot called “Out on a Limb.” Here’s a shot of me getting prepped for the first day of shooting.

Out on a Limb

Oh my god. I have chills…

In three months, I will be ordering HBO.

Words cannot express how excited I am about A Game of Thrones coming to HBO. I get chills every time I see a new teaser trailer. It looks like they did a great job capturing the mood of the books, and the cast is fantastic. Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage, Mark Addy, & Lena Headey? Oh hell yeah. I don’t have HBO, but the week before A Game of Thrones starts, I’m ordering it.

A Song of Ice & Fire is by far my favorite book series. A Game of Thrones was the book that got me back into reading after high school, where I hadn’t done much reading for pleasure outside of fanfiction. But it’s been torturous. I started reading the books in early 2002 and read the first three back-to-back-to-back. After that, though, it was three years before A Feast for Crows came out, and five years later there’s still no definite release date for the fifth book, A Dance With Dragons.

I was really into the card game until 4-5 years ago, and still have a few boxes of the cards sitting on top of my bookshelf. It looks like it’s changed a good bit since then, but if I can get friends back into it I’d be all for starting up again. I’ve got the board game too, but was never able to get anyone to give it a go. And I’ve spent tons of time on forums & sites like Westeros.org, reading up on various characters/history in the books & theorizing on possible things to come. It helps to whet the appetite, but at the end of the day I think it just makes me all the more anxious for the next book.

Yes, I’m a geek. But I’m a geek with damn good taste.

Well, it was announced this week that Heroes is officially canceled. This doesn’t come as any surprise, considering how the show’s performance has steadily declined over the last few seasons, along with the quality of the show in general. I’ve heard a lot of people say that it was good that NBC finally put it out of its misery, but this is where I disagree. Yes, Heroes fell a long way since its amazing first season, but I’ve always believed it would just take one good kick to get it back on track.

Why? Because for all its flaws, Heroes has a great core concept, and a nice assortment of interesting characters. And although some of them got completely lost in the shuffle last season (Mohinder) and others spent the season spinning in circles accomplishing nothing (pretty much everyone except Noah), what makes the characters cool is still there: Peter has an unmatched sense of duty, Hiro longs to be a real hero, and Sylar is just plain cool.

I guess I never really felt the show had lost its edge until the last season. While lots of people lost faith in the show after season one, I actually liked seasons two and three for the most part (though I still wish they hadn’t stripped Peter of all his powers.) They weren’t as strong as the first and they certainly had their lulls, but I still enjoyed them. But season four? I think I continued to watch out of obligation to a show I’d become attached to, hoping it would get better.

The problem wasn’t necessarily the general arc of the season. The idea of Samuel and the carnival was really cool and had potential. The real issue was with the characters themselves. They spent six episodes or more accomplishing tasks which should have taken one or two. In essence, season four was the season of tail chasing. Hiro, Parkman, and Claire somehow spent the entire season running in circles. While each had things that needed to be done, it took them so long I’d sometimes forget if the episode I was watching was actually a rerun. Claire also suffered the most from unclear motivations for her actions. She seemed to turn on a dime and make rash decisions for no apparent reason. It got really annoying after a while.

I really hope there ends up being some kind of wrap up to the show, because the way the series ended isn’t a fitting conclusion. Maybe the idea is there (Claire revealing their existence to the world, redemption for Sylar, closure for Hiro), but too many characters didn’t have a solid wrap up (hell, Mohinder wasn’t even in the finale.) Again, all the elements are there for them to do something great, they just have to grab it by the horns and do it. That’s why a feature film or TV movie would be ideal. They would have a set amount of time to wrap everything up, which would eliminate the wheel spinning that plagued season four. They could focus on a solid story that gives a good, cathartic end to the series and its characters. Considering how strong the show was when it started, that’s something it deserves.

At long last, an official announcement has been made about Conan O’Brien’s future on television! Despite rampant belief that he would be going to Fox, it was revealed today that he will be making the move to TBS at 11pm starting in November. This came as a big surprise to me, since all of the talk had been about Fox, and TBS hadn’t seemed to even be factoring in to the equation.

The other reason I hadn’t given much thought to TBS was the fact that they already have a late night show with George Lopez. But now, with the addition of Conan, it appears that they’re looking to be a real contender. A detailfrom the reports that I particularly liked was how Lopez himself was actually instrumental in making this deal come together. Conan originally rejected TBS’s pitch because he didn’t want to do to Lopez what NBC did to him, and it was a call from Lopez that convinced Conan to jump on board.

Now that I think about it, it’s actually a good move on all parts. Conan moves to a station that’s excited to have him & whose median demographic is younger than that of the broadcast networks, and Lopez gets a solid lead-in to help boost his own ratings. I’ll be glad to have Conan starting a full half hour before Leno & Letterman, which should hopefully give him some edge. The only downside I see to this is that now he’s going directly up against Jon Stewart & Steven Colbert, who go after the same audience as CoCo. This is less of an issue for me, since I usually watch the late night reruns of the Daily Show & Colbert Report, but I’m less sure about others.

I’m excited, and can’t wait until November so I can start getting my Conan fix again!

This past Friday was Conan O’Brien’s final night hosting The Tonight Show, and it was a sad moment for me. As I’ve said, Conan is my favorite talk show host, and my idol as a comedian. I wish it hadn’t have come to this, but I’m glad that he took the opportunity to go out with a helluva bang. Steve Carell was a fun surprise, Tom Hanks proved why he’s the best guest out there, Neil Young’s performance was great, and going out by playing Free Bird with Will Ferrell, Billy Gibbons, Beck, & Ben Harper was an awesome way to exit (loved the cowbell, by the way.)

But more than that, I loved the speech Conan gave at the end. It was heartfelt, sincere, positive, and above all, classy. It’s clear how much he cares about his staff, and that he was deeply touched by the outpouring of affection from his fans. When he started choking up, I started to tear up.

Even though I wish his ratings had been higher & he had been able to reach a more mainstream audience in his stint on The Tonight Show, I wouldn’t have wanted it to happen at the expense of Conan’s unique brand of humor that I fell in love with 15 years ago. Like he said in his speech, he did it his way, and I wouldn’t have wanted to see it any other way. I don’t know where he’s going to end up, but I know that wherever it is, that’s where my TV is going to be tuned every night. I just hope that it’s as close to September 1st, as possible, because I know I’ll be going through some serious withdrawal by then.

And now, I leave you with a line from Conan’s speech that sums up not only what I love about him, but also the way I look at life, and why cynicism never leads anywhere:

“Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”

So I’ve been following this whole mess between NBC, Conan O’Brien, & Jay Leno pretty closely since the rumors started popping up last week, and I don’t see any possible way that NBC could have screwed the pooch more than they did here.

Conan O’Brien is probably my biggest influence as a comedian. I’ve been watching his show regularly since 1995, back when I was 13. Hell, I used to record his show, and then piggyback two VCRs together and make compilation tapes of his best jokes, bits, and interviews. Kinda crazy, sure, but there’s always been something about Conan that makes me laugh. Doesn’t matter how bad my day’s been, when I tune into his show, I just can’t help but laugh. Maybe it’s a redheaded geek kindred spirit thing. Who knows.

When it was announced in 2004 that Conan would be taking over The Tonight Show in five years, I was ecstatic. It was nice to see NBC respected Conan enough to give him their flagship show, and that planning the switch that far ahead would help them avoid a messy situation like what happened between Leno/Letterman when Johnny Carson retired. Needless to say I wasn’t happy when in the months leading up to the intended switch there were rumblings that Jay wasn’t ready to hand over the reins. So NBC worked out a deal to keep Jay on at 10pm in order to keep him from going to another network.

I didn’t like this for a couple of reasons. For one, that’s five less scripted shows per week, and as a person who loves scripted TV, I hate seeing five hours of primetime programming wiped off the board for something like this. For another, it struck me as an unclassy move. In their bid to keep Jay from going to a rival network, NBC pretty much slapped Conan in the face by putting another talk show on an hour and a half earlier, and it greatly diminished the significance of Conan taking over as host of the Tonight Show.

So what do the brilliant suits at NBC do? They decide to give Leno a half hour show at 11:35, then follow that up with Conan & Jimmy Fallon. Conan released a statement today saying he wouldn’t do the Tonight Show starting at 12:05, because moving the Tonight Show back to the next day would tarnish the franchise. And you know what? He’s absolutely right. The Tonight Show has started at 11:35 for 60 years, and NBC’s proposed plan would ultimately end in failure for all parties involved.

Despite how much he’s been taking shots at NBC, I don’t really see that Jay has reason to complain. He’s getting exactly what he wants: His 11:35 time slot back. And now that Conan has said he won’t be responsible for moving the Tonight Show to 12:05, all Jay has to do is sit back and wait until NBC shuffles Conan out the door and gives him the keys to the Tonight Show again. My perfect world scenario is that Leno takes the classy route of stepping down and letting go of the show he promised to Conan five years ago. But considering that he’s said recently that he’d take the Tonight Show back if NBC offered it to him, I really don’t see that happening.

There is one person who gets screwed over in this whole mess that nobody’s talking about, and that’s Carson Daly. The proposed change would find his show canceled (no idea if he gets to stay if Jay takes the Tonight Show back.) Now, when Carson Daly first came onto the late night scene, I hated his show. And I hated it because he tried to do a typical late night talk show: Open with some jokes, maybe do a bit, then guests. And that didn’t work, primarily because he’s not a comedian. However, since then he’s found a format that really works for him, where he just sits down and talks to people, and has guests on the show who are interesting or just now breaking out. I’ve found that I actually like it a lot, and regularly watch his show as part of my late night lineup.

I would love for Conan O’Brien to remain the host of the Tonight Show. I think he deserves it, and I think he’s earned it. Conan’s tenure as Tonight Show host has been much more reminiscent of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show than Leno’s ever was, and it’s always much more interesting. When Leno was host, I’d only tune in if there was a guest I liked. With Conan as host, I want to catch every monologue, every bit, every guest. Unfortunately, it’s looking more and more likely that Conan is going to be heading to Fox, rather than remain a part of the Tonight Show legacy. And I can’t say that I blame him. While I do still curse Fox for canceling far too many quality shows before giving them a chance (I’m looking at you, Firefly), they’d probably give him more respect than NBC does. The best late night host in the biz deserves to be on a network that isn’t continually in last place. But with great programming decisions like this, is it really any wonder that NBC’s a sinking ship?