Category Archives: british actors

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Hugh Laurie’s Best House Scenes

I’m working on a new piece for Blogcritics: why Hugh Laurie absolutely MUST get the Emmy this year. I will be highlighting specific scenes over the years, excerpting the dialogue and then what he does with the writers’ words to make them come so incredibly alive. His performance is always so real and natural it’s easy to overlook just how powerful his acting can be. So…

For example in Season one DNR when Dr. Marty comes to “pull the plug” on John Henry Giles. What’s said and what comes across are remarkably different.

What I’m asking you all for are your favorite acting scenes from six years of House. I will include as many in the article as I can without going overboard. Just name the scenes–one from each season if you can. Use the comments below to do it.

My first book: Journaling the Journey


It’s a weird feeling seeing my book up there on Amazon.com, where I’ve bought hundreds of books written by others. Knowing that my book, Chasing Zebras: THE Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. (ECW Press, September 2010) would be on pre-order sometime during March, I’ve indulged my vanity by checking the site daily. And Friday was the day.

Of course I tweeted the news (from the rooftops); I launched an “author” website, although there’s not much to tell–yet. And feeling rather self-conscious about the whole thing.

The book is six months from hitting the shelves of the local Barnes and Noble; there’s not even an image yet on the Amazon.com site (although I assure you the book has a cover–and a very nice one, which you can see at BarbaraBarnett.com, my “author” site). There’s no description of the book either (it’s an introspective and hopefully intelligent companion guide to the series), yet the first day I hit #48,000 on the Amazon.com sales rank. “See Bestsellers,” the product description provocatively beckoned.

Besteller?! On the first day? Cool. Of course, ever the skeptic, I tried figuring out just how #48,000 actually translated to “bestseller.” It meant, I supposed, that at least someone bought a copy. Maybe more than one. By mid-day Saturday, Chasing Zebras had reached 13,000. And more than that, it was #11 in Guides and Review about Television shows. A menu appeared below the product listing that showed what other products people purchased who also purchased Chasing Zebras. (Obviously mostly books, DVDs and other things to do with House, M.D. and/or its star Hugh Laurie. OK, so now I was pretty sure more than one person bought the book. Very cool indeed.

By Sunday (yes, I’m obsessing), the book has settled to 170,000 (Note to self: learn to toughen that easily bruised writer’s ego.) and #65 on the Bestsellers in TV guidebooks and reviews. Well, at least its still on the best seller lists, for what it’s worth. My agent says that it’s encouraging and a good sign that my book is on the charts at all right out of the gate (especially with no image, no description, no keywords in the product description).

So, who knows what this week will hold. And on into the spring, summer and the book’s official launch. In the meantime, check out the book, if you’d like and follow my blogposts here about my virgin journey in publishing.

Chasing Zebras: THE Unofficial Guide to House, M.D.–A new book about the hit series

Chasing Zebras: THE Unofficial Guide to House, M.D.

Coming September 2010 from ECW Press–and now available for preorder on Amazon.com

A new book about the series House, M.D.!

Also, please visit my author site for updates on the book, excerpts, etc. in the weeks to come.

Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. is the essential companion to one of television’s most popular and fascinating series. Using her unique perspective and insight into the show, writer Barbara Barnett, noted as “one of the industry’s leading experts on the series,” immerses fans new and old into the heart and soul television’s most compelling series. It will be a dog-eared resource for seasoned fans, an indispensable atlas to anyone new to the show, and valuable guide to students of television, film and pop culture.

House, MD is a study in contradictions: straightforward medical procedural on the outside; intricate character drama within. No wonder the acclaimed series is the most watched television show in the world.

Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D takes readers deep within the series’ rich layers—into the heart of its central character and his world:

Who is this medical Sherlock Holmes? Is he simply a misanthropic jerk with a brutal sense of humor–or a tormented romantic hero in the tradition of Byron?

  • How do House’s colleagues and patient relate to and reflect him and each other?
  • How do the music, settings, even the humor enhance our understanding of the series narrative?
  • What does the series say about modern medicine? Ethics? Religion?

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Writing about  House for Blogcritics magazine, I thought it would be nice to develop a book to serve as a guide for the intelligent fans of the show. Rather than a straight-on episode guide, I wanted to do a book about the series’ character and story narratives and the themes, it would provide intelligent and thoughtful analysis of the complex series.

I’m not really a television watcher, but when I started watching House, I was immediately drawn to the writing and the indelible performance of Hugh Laurie as the central character. Always fascinated by romantic anti-heroes, especially “Byronic Heroes,” I felt that there was much lurking beneath the surface of this “medical procedural drama.”

Like my Blogcritics.com blog “Welcome to the End of the Thought Process,” Chasing Zebras takes readers between the lines and action and takes an introspective look at House and his world.

House demands deeper thinking and analysis than most TV shows. Sure it’s fun to laugh at House’s antics; cringe at his anti-social behavior and grin the interplay between the characters. But the show is much more than that. House is meant to provoke discussion and thought. House offers commentary on everything from ethics to mental illness, race, relationships, family dysfunction, sex. The scripts are fragile and intricate Faberge Eggs and half the fun is getting inside them to poke around and find the inner depths within the writing and performances.

Film Review: Fugitive Pieces

As I watched Fugitive Pieces, I could not help but think of my many friends and family members who are the children of Holocaust survivors. When they discuss it at all, these friends often recall how difficult it was to be raised by parents who lived day in and day out with the wrenching guilt of having survived when so many others perished (sometimes being the only family member to have done so). Sometimes shut out of their parent’s heart, left inaccessible by immeasurable loss, they often feel unloved, resented for their lives, lived in relative comfort and ease, even as they are overprotected and cherished.

And how can they share something with their children that is nearly impossible to understand; something of which they themselves have yet to fully gain closure? There have been many, many films about the Holocaust, and about survivors, but Fugitive Pieces (currently showing in art house cinemas throughout the country) gives us a detailed character study of one man, haunted and driven by having survived, when his family did not.

Fugitive Pieces tells the story of Jakob Beer (played as a boy by Robbie Kass), who as a young boy in Poland observed from behind a closet door as his parents were murdered in  their home, and his sister was dragged away by Nazi Storm Troopers. A terrified Jakob runs into a nearby forest, hiding in the freezing cold under piles of dead leaves. Seen by Greek archaeologist Athos (Croatian actor Rade Serbedzija), Jakob is rescued and smuggled out of Poland and into Greece, where Athos hides the wary and terrified Jakob for the duration of World War II. In a sense, Jakob has saved Athos, too, as his colleagues, still digging in Poland (for evidence of Nazi atrocities, we learn) are discovered and murdered. Both Jakob and Athos suffer the sort of guilt only possible when one has escaped due to fortune or circumstance, while everyone else has perished.

Continues…..

Discovering Stephen Dillane (Thomas Jefferson in HBO’s “John Adams”)

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Originally published at Blogcritics magazine

t always gives me great delight to “discover” an actor. I don’t mean in the Hollywood sense (because I’m not an agent or producer, nor do I have any clout whatsoever), but “discover” in the sense that I’ve not really ever heard of the guy before. It happens to us all, I think. You see a film and something in the actor’s performance or looks (or both) touches you in a way that makes you want to see more of what he’s done. For me, it’s always a soulfulness that seems to lurk about the eyes and expression. (See Reflections of a Recidivist Fangirl.) Then, wham. I just have a need to find out who the guy is and what else he’s done and find out what I’ve been missing. All I can say is, “Thank God for Google!”

My latest “discovery” is Stephen Dillane, the brilliant British (you knew I was going to say that, didn’t you?) stage and film actor. Most recently, Dillane played Thomas Jefferson in HBO’s John Adams miniseries. It didn’t hurt that he played my favorite Founding Father exactly as I had always imagined him: an enigmatic intellectual, at once fiery and guarded; eloquent and shy. I was immediately hooked. Who wouldn’t be? It was a terrific performance, right down to his accent, which began as slightly Gaelic, but as Jefferson aged over the course of some 50 years, so did the accent – to more of a relaxed “southern” drawl. Nice touch.

I was delighted to find out that Dillane is starring in not one, but two forthcoming films, bookending the month of May. Later this week, Dillane opens in Fugitive Pieces, a film about a boy rescued from the horrors of the Holocaust, who now, as an adult (played by Dillane), is haunted by his childhood memories. It is written and and directed by Jeremy Podeswa, and based on the novel by Canadian poet Anne Michaels. I’m looking forward to reviewing that film for Blogcritics when it opens.

Dillane also stars with Julianne Moore in Savage Grace, (opening May 30) based on the controversial life of the Bakeland family (who invented “Bakelite“). Both films look intriguing, dark, and serious. Can’t wait. Later this year, Dillane will appear as Charlemagne in the film Love and Virtue which takes on the French epic poem The Song of Roland. So lots of things coming up for us newbie fans of Mr. Stephen Dillane.

Dillane is an accomplished stage actor, having recently performed a one-man rendition of Macbeth in London, and whose Hamlet (also in London) has been considered amongst the best. He has won major stage awards, including a Tony (for Leading Actor) in 2000 for Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing. But unless you want to dig through YouTube (yeah, I’ve done it) for snippets, you’ll have to stick to film and television DVDs to catch up with Dillane’s works. And lucky for us, there are quite a few.

I am slowly digging my way through his film oeuvre, so here are a couple of suggestions to start:

Welcome to Sarajevo is based on the true story of a British journalist who, in an act of impulsive bravery, rescues a young girl from the hell of early 1990s Bosnia. Dillane, as the journalist is wonderful at expressing the world-weariness of the protagonist Michael Henderson. The story is intense, and at times nearly unbearable for its tragedy. Woody Harrelson gives a disarming and surprising performance as Dillane’s American colleague. It’s a great and serious film.

Déjà Vu is about as romantic a film as possible. Not a chick flick by any means, Déjà Vu is a story of love lost and rediscovered; of destiny and soul mates. It’s gorgeously shot with Henry Jaglom’s signature realism (despite the fact that the film has strong supernatural overtones), with much of the dialogue improvised from rough sketches and notes. Dillane is fantastic as an English painter drawn hopelessly to an American designer, whom he encounters in a series of coincidence meetings. She is equally drawn to him, although they are both tied to other partners. Terrific supporting performances by Vanessa Redgrave and Noel Harrison (anyone remember him from the old ’60s series The Man From UNCLE?).

I look forward to many months of catching up on my new discovery! And I’m open to suggestions.

Why had I never heard of Stephen Dillane before?

Thomas Jefferson in “John Adams” is played by the very brilliant (and quite easy on the eyes) British actor Stephen Dillane.  As many of you have probably guessed, I have a penchant for actors from the other side of the pond.  Among my favorites are Ralph Fiennes, Timothy Dalton, Alan Rickman, Jeremy Northam (wasn’t he fabulous tonight in The Tudors?) and of course Hugh Laurie.

Stephen Dillane was marvellous as Jefferson, a quiet and intense intelligence poured from his eyes, as he body language suggested a shyness and reticence.  And those lovely 18th century clothes!

Anyway, Dillane is about to appear in two new films:  Fugitive Pieces (I will be reviewing this one for Blogcritics officially later this week.) and a film about the family who invented Bakelite (the name of the film escapes me for the moment), but I’ll be reviewing that as well, once it’s released and I’ve seen it.

For you newbies (like me) to Mr. Dillane’s work, may I suggest the following for starters:  “Welcome to Sarajevo” (he plays a brave British journalist) and “Deja Vu” in which he plays an artist/architect (it’s a great romance). 

Anyway, more on Dillane in the days and weeks to come.