[01/12/04 - 12:00 AM]
TCA Winter Press Tour: Showtime, Part 2
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The Television Critics Association began its winter press tour this week in which the various broadcast and cable networks talk about their upcoming plans to the nation's top critics and entertainment reporters.

Here's a breakdown of the highlights of Showtime's presentation (via press release):

SHOWTIME Picks Up 'HUFF' for 2004 the Series Stars Hank Azaria, Paget Brewster with Blythe Danner and Oliver Platt

Series Also Stars Anton Yelchin and Andy Comeau

Scott Winant Serves as Director

A psychiatrist who lacks balance and clarity in his own life, while struggling to help others achieve these goals, will be the subject of HUFF, the newest SHOWTIME series for 2004, it was announced today by Robert Greenblatt, President of Entertainment for Showtime Networks Inc. The series, which consists of a one-hour pilot and 12 additional episodes, is slated to air on SHOWTIME in the summer of 2004.

HUFF stars multiple Emmy(R) Award winning actor and noted voice artist Hank Azaria ("Tuesdays With Morrie," "The Simpsons," "The Birdcage") as psychiatrist Craig Huffstodt. Azaria is joined by Paget Brewster ("Friends"), Anton Yelchin ("Taken," "Hearts In Atlantis") and Andy Comeau ("One Hour Photo," "8 Heads In A Duffle Bag") with Emmy(R) nominee and Tony(R) Award winner Blythe Danner ("Meet The Parents," "The Prince of Tides," "The X Files") and Emmy(R) nominee Oliver Platt ("The West Wing," "Pieces of April").

The one-hour pilot is produced for SHOWTIME by Sony Pictures Television and is written by the show's creator, Bob Lowry ("Any Day Now," "Profiler"). Scott Winant, who directed the pilot for the hit SHOWTIME series DEAD LIKE ME, as well as episodes of "Carnivale," "The West Wing" and "My So Called Life," will serve as director of the HUFF season premiere and producer on the series.

Mike Newell ("Mona Lisa Smile," "Donnie Brasco," "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and "Enchanted April"), Cameron Jones ("Traffic") and Bob Lowry serve as executive producers. Azaria and Nancy Sanders serve as the show's producers. Danielle Gelber is the creative executive on behalf of Showtime Networks Inc.

Dr. Craig Huffstodt, better known as "Huff," is a successful psychiatrist who is thrown into turmoil after a 15-year-old patient, who had just "come out" to his parents, commits suicide in Huff's office. Forced to stay home now that his office is a crime scene, Huff must endure the conflicting personalities and complicated alliances within his own family. He is also under the burden of possible legal liability regarding the suicide and his own feelings of guilt and failure for his patient.

Amidst the turmoil, Huff finds himself plagued by a rich fantasy life populated by, among others, a random homeless Hungarian man who he is never sure is really there, but who makes Huff feel like a good person despite his internal struggles. Huff's lawyer and good friend Russell (PLATT) serves both as the voice of reality and provides comic relief with his one-liners and crass sense of humor. Huff's family consists of his son Byrd (YELCHIN, brother Teddy (COMEAU), his antagonistic mother Izzy (DANNER), who is critical and nosey, but means well, and his strong-willed wife Beth (BREWSTER).

This is the story of a psychiatrist who has spent his entire life helping others find peace and clarity while his own state of mind is in constant question. The suicide of his patient has now forced him to re-evaluate everything. We watch as a midlife crisis erupts into brief outbursts of delusion. The series is interspersed with fantasy sequences which expose Huff's take on his family and work as he struggles with his daily life.

HUFF adds to a successful slate of SHOWTIME series that includes proven hits such as QUEER AS FOLK returning for its fourth season, SOUL FOOD returning for its fifth and final season, THE CHRIS ISAAK SHOW returning for a third and final season, DEAD LIKE ME, PENN AND TELLER: BS! and FAMILY BUSINESS which were all renewed for a second season earlier this year and the debut series THE L WORD, which begins January 18.

SHOWTIME Presents Britney Spears Live in Concert From the American Airlines Arena Miami, Florida

Sunday, March 28 at 9 PM ET/PT

Britney Spears Brings Her High Octane Show to Premium Television

Multi-platinum superstar Britney Spears will turn up the heat on SHOWTIME Sunday, March 28th with a live, full-length concert at *9 PM ET/PT. The SHOWTIME concert event will take place at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida, just one of the stops on Britney's THE ONYX HOTEL TOUR 2004, which covers over 25 cities in the United States and Canada.

Known for her elaborate productions, whether it's flying a barge, an over-sized music box, a water curtain or suspension from the arena ceiling, Spears and her high-octane team never cease to amaze. The television production will be nothing short of extravagant, with award-winning directors and producers on board and multiple cameras shooting the action in HDTV.

"We are committed to bringing the best special event programming to our subscribers. Collaborating with Britney on this unique event, and presenting her spectacular concert to a broad audience is an incredible opportunity for our network," said Bob Greenblatt, Showtime's President of Entertainment.

"In The Zone," Britney's 4th Jive Records release, shows her flexing her notably strong and mature songwriting muscles. She co-wrote 8 of the project's 13 sterling new compositions, collaborating with such heavy hitters as Red Zone ("Me Against The Music," "The Hook Up"), The Matrix ("Shadow"), Moby ("Early Mornin'"), and Cathy Dennis ("Toxic," "Showdown"). Also contributing hit worthy material to the album is R. Kelly ("Outrageous") and Ying-Yang Twins on "(I Got That) Boom Boom."

Britney Spears recently broke her own record by debuting #1 on the Billboard 200 Album chart with her 4th album In The Zone. Britney is the first female in Soundscan history to have four #1 albums in a row. The first single off the album, "Me Against The Music," is also the #1 video on MTV's TRL. The video is also on Much Music, VH-1 and Fuse.

According to Soundscan, "In The Zone" has sold 609,364 units in the first week alone. Britney holds the #1 (1.319 million for Oops! ... I Did It Again 5/09/00), #3 (745,744 for Britney (11/06/01) and #5 (current album) debuts on the Billboard Album 200 chart for any female artist in the history of Soundscan.

SHOWTIME secured first caliber talent Hamish Hamilton to direct the show. Hamilton has built a reputation as one of the finest young directors of live music entertainment. He recently mesmerized audiences with his direction of the elaborate MTV Europe Awards from Scotland. The combination of Britney and Hamish should make for an explosive night of television unlike anything she's done before.

SHOWTIME Original Pictures For All Ages Celebrates Black History Month With The Premiere of CROWN HEIGHTS on February 16, 2004

Based on a True Story, the Film Stars Mario Van Peebles and Howie Mandel

In celebration of Black History Month, SHOWTIME is proud to present CROWN HEIGHTS, a SHOWTIME Original Picture for All Ages which stars Mario Van Peebles ("Ali," "New Jack City," the SHOWTIME Original Picture 10,000 BLACK MEN NAMED GEORGE) and Howie Mandel ("St. Elsewhere," "The Howie Mandel Show," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno"). Jeremy Blackman ("Magnolia") is cast as Yudi Simon and DeQuan Henderson ("Disappearing Acts") plays T.J. Moses. The film premieres on SHOWTIME, Monday, February 16 at 9:00 PM (ET/PT).

CROWN HEIGHTS is produced and directed by Jeremy Kagan ("The Chosen," "The West Wing," "The Journey of Natty Gann" and the SHOWTIME Original Pictures ROSWELL, COLOR OF JUSTICE and BOBBIE'S GIRL) from a story by Michael D'Antonio and a teleplay by Toni Ann Johnson ("The Courage to Love," "Ruby Bridges"). CROWN HEIGHTS is a Jeremy Kagan production. This film is based on a true story and weaves together drama, music, documentary and interviews to explore the challenges of conflict resolution and overcoming prejudice in the wake of the Crown Height riots of '91.

August, 1991, the dog days of summer have New Yorkers on edge. When a young black child is hit and killed by a car driven by a Hasidic man in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the tensions between neighboring Hasidic Jews and African- Americans break out into three days of rioting. One rabbinical student is murdered and many others are injured.

Two community leaders, Dr. Lazerson (Howie Mandel) and Paul Richards (Mario Van Peebles), find that they must join forces and look for a way to bring together the youth from the opposing sides. Despite resistance and anger from parents in both communities, they are able to create a forum between Black and Hasidic teenagers. A dialogue is started, which leads to community projects and eventually the formation of Project Cure. Two kids become a target for their work: Yudi (Jeremy Blackman), whose father was attacked during the riots, and T.J. (DeQuan Henderson), a former gang member. What the boys surprisingly have in common is rap music and together they create a Hip-Hop band. But the pressures of family, politics, religion and friends threaten to undermine their friendship and the group's efforts to transcend bigotry and fear.

  [january 2004]  


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