The last blog (sort of)

Posted on September 24th, 2009 – 2:30 PM
By Neal Justin

Remote Island is closed for business. This is my last post at this site. But don’t worry – TV blogging is alive and well at a more populated resort. My updates on the local and national TV can now be found at the new all-things-A&E blog called Artcetera, which debuted today. Click here to reset your RSS feeds to the new blog.Once there, you can set the category to just “Television.” You’ll also have the option of checking out the best in movies, theatre, art and nightlife from my esteemed Star Tribune colleagues.

Please stay with us and continue posting your own comments, although you’re going to have to log in to the Strib mothership log-on center to do so (pretty easy).

See you there.

The Emmy Awards: The morning after

Posted on September 21st, 2009 – 3:09 PM
By Neal Justin

I blew it. In the 12 races I predicted, I only got three right. Granted, there were the three biggies – best comedy, best drama, and best movie – but still…not good odds. I should have recognized that Emmy voters love old favorites and movie stars, both of which dominated the winner’s circle. But did they deserve it? Here’s a rundown of the winners – and my take.


Good year for a solid sitcom. Can’t argue with the results, although I would have liked to have seen “Weeds” pull an upset. But this might have been the strongest year for the show.


Yes, it’s slightly overrated, but given the competition, it deserved to win, especially considering the second season was stronger than the first.


No brainer. This has Emmy written all over it.

BEST ACTRESS, COMEDY: Toni Collette, “Tara.”

Not sure how “hilarious” Collette is, but she did play more than four roles – and Emmy loves that. She’s also an Oscar nominee, which is a big plus in her department. I wish she would have given a better acceptance speech.

BEST ACTOR, COMEDY: Alec Baldwin (“30 Rock”)

How did Baldwin do it again? The episode he submitted had him playing two roles (a foreign soap opera star and Jack). Again, Emmy loves the multiple roles, especially when one is an “evil twin.” My hopes that Jim Parsons would win for “Big Bang Theory” died hard.

BEST ACTRESS, DRAMA: Glenn Close, “Damages”

I rooted for Close last year, and have no big problem with her repeat win. Still, this was Rose Byrne’s season to shine, not Close. She should have been in this category – and won.

BEST ACTOR, DRAMA: Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad.”

Cranston’s win last year was my favorite upset in years – so I was a bit stunned that he did it again. But he’s a great guy and a great actor. I’m thrilled that he slipped by my early pick, Jon Hamm.

BEST ACTRESS, MOVIE: Jessica Lange, “Gray Gardens.”

Right project, wrong star. Lange was terrific, as always, but co-star Drew Barrymore was a revelation. This should have been her night.

BEST ACTOR, MOVIE: Brendan Gleeson, “Into the Storm.”

I like Gleeson, but he was following in the footsteps of Albert Finney, who played Churchill in the earlier film, “The Gathering Storm,” one of the best performances I’ve ever seen – period. In comparison, Gleeson was just OK.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMA: Michael Emerson, “Lost.”

OK, “Lost” deserves to win something. Might as well be for Emerson. Sorry, Mr. Slattery.


Not a great year for “24.” Great year for Rose Byrne. She was robbed.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, COMEDY: Jon Cryer, “Two and a Half Men.”

The evening’s biggest head scratcher. Holland Taylor won an Emmy for her work in this show a few years ago. That should have been enough.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMEDY: Kristin Chenoweth, “Pushing Daisies”.

Thank you, Kristin, for actually being enthusiastic about winning. And thank you for being so gosh darn cute. Call me!

WCCO Radio suspends Dark Star

Posted on September 16th, 2009 – 4:38 PM
By Neal Justin

We have it on good authority that Dark Star, a WCCO radio personality since 1986, has been suspended without pay for a week after the “F” bomb was dropped during his pro football picks last Thursday. Others involved in the show may have also been suspended. At this point, we’ve gotten a no comment from Star and WCCO’s general manager, Mick Anselmo. We’re still tracking…

UPDATE: It appears that the suspension started last Friday. Star’s boss Wendy Paulson says that he’ll be back on the air this Sunday. She wouldn’t comment further.

Review: Jay Leno’s first night

Posted on September 14th, 2009 – 10:06 PM
By Neal Justin

Same host, different time. Anyone expecting that Jay Leno would emerge on his opening night in a tutu and working blue, must have been deeply disappointed. Based on just one night, Leno – for better or worse – is still swinging for singles right down the middle. That’s probably smart, considering that his  new prime-time gig must play to older, more socially conservative audiences, even more than before.

Still, Leno can’t rely solely on his easygoing charm and rat-a-tat jokes. At his best, last night, he didn’t. The absolute highlights: A sitdown with Kanye West and a surprise video appearance from Oprah Winfrey.

Jay did a great job with Kanye, still in hot water because of the way he interrupted Taylor Swift at last night’s VMA Awards. Jay smartly asked him what his mother would have said about his behavior. Great question, and while Kanye didn’t really answer,he did tear up – the kind of emotional, real, live moment this show can really jump on. Oprah’s appearance also  scored, in large part because she only addressed guest Jerry Seinfeld, ignoring Jay, and also because, well, she’s Oprah.

But let’s face facts. It won’t be every night that a booked guest will be in the news. It won’t be every night you can get a cameo from the Queen of All Media. On the nights that happen, “Leno” will score. On slow nights, he’ll have to rely on typical banter, monologues and taped bits. In the last category, the show was a big disappointment, kicking off with comedian Dan Finnerty singing silly songs to a car-wash customer. I was also surprised that Leno’s monologue was short, by his standards, only six minutes.

Yes, Headlines was still a reliable chuckler and the “fake” interview with President Obama was amusing, but those are bits I can see on late-night TV anytime I want. Fair or not, people will expect more in prime-time. Leno, for the most part, hit those expectations - for one night. Only 2,300 to go…

Patrick Swayze dies

Posted on September 14th, 2009 – 7:26 PM
By Neal Justin

The “Dirty Dancing” star has died at the age of 57 after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. I was scheduled to meet him earlier this year, but his health forced him to cancel at the last minute. I still managed to get a column done on Swayze, thanks to the help of some of his friends on the show. You can read the column here:


Remote Island on the airwaves

Posted on September 14th, 2009 – 5:07 PM
By Neal Justin

Selfish self-promotion: Will be on KARE-11 Monday night, right after Jay Leno Show and on Pat Reusse’s radio show at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday. Also, look for “Leno” review later tonight!