Lance Armstrong Kinda Saves Oprah

The Atlantic

Today in show business news: The ratings are in for the big Oprah/Armstrong interview, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg head back to war, and a look at the pilots currently in development for next season. 

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Last night's big Oprah Winfrey interview (part one of two) with disgraced bicycling champion Lance Armstrong was big for a few reasons. Obviously the main reason was that he admitted, after years of denial, to doping. The bicycling world, and by extension everyone's world because who among us isn't absolutely obsessed with professional bicycling, is changed forever. But it was also a big deal because it was meant to reinvigorate OWN, Oprah's floundering television network. So did it? Well, sorta. While its 3.2 million initial viewers (4.3 million when you factor in the rebroadcast) is definitely a strong number for the little-watched network, the number isn't quite as high as the network maybe hoped for. The broadcast didn't beat Oprah's interview with Whitney Houston's family from last year, though it came close. So, it's good news for OWN, but not great. We'll have to see how tonight's part two goes, though without the oomph of Armstrong's initial confession to attract viewers, we can't imagine it will best last night's. What Oprah really needs is a singing competition show. And I've got just the one for her: It's called You Get a Record Contract and it's on seven days a week. It worked for NBC, after all. Think about it, Oprah. You know how to reach me. [Entertainment Weekly]

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Elsewhere in big TV, HBO has announced that, in conjunction with Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, it is developing a miniseries about... gay space lawyers. Haha, no, no, no. Think about it. It's Tom Hanks, it's Steven Spielberg, it's HBO. It's a miniseries about World War II, dummies! Yeah you thought they were done with that, because they covered the European theater in the excellent Band of Brothers and the Pacific theater in the scattershot, meandering The Pacific. But they are not done. Where will they turn to next? Well, look up. To the skies! Yes, they're working on something about WWII pilots, specifically the Eighth Air Force, aka the Mighty Eighth. These were heroic pilots who flew bombing campaigns in Northern Europe, so we'll be rooting against the Nazis again. Look, even though The Pacific paled in comparison to Band of Brothers, it was still pretty good, so we really have no reason to suspect that this new one will be anything but stirring and watchable. I'm a little concerned about how HBO is going to handle all those aerial effects, but they're not scared of giving big budgets to the war fetishists over at the Playtone/DreamWorks collective, so they just might figure out a way to do it credibly. The airplane scene in Band of Brothers, which was made over a decade ago, looked pretty good, so they should be able to pull it off here in the future. Anyway, it may seem like WWII overkill, but I think this is exciting news. Tell us more inspiring stories about the fast-talkin' greatest generation, Uncle Hanksy and Uncle Steven. We're ready for them. [The Hollywood Reporter]

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Last year, director Ira Sachs released the film Keep the Lights On, an addiction drama about a love affair between two attractive young gay men. And now he's set to direct Love Is Strange, about a love affair between Alfred Molina and Michael Gambon. So. While it may not be as sexy to film, it will probably feature some finer acting work than, say, Zachary Booth is capable of. The story is about a longtime couple who get married in New York City but then have to live apart for some reason. So it could either be sweet and funny or really sad. Or maybe all of that. If nothing else, it will be, well, interesting to see how many sex scenes there are. [Deadline]

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Here's a really handy guide to all the network TV pilots in the works so far. The silliest/most intriguing show on the list? Hostages, which is described thusly: "Follows Ellen (Toni Collette), a Washington, D.C., surgeon who is thrown into a political conspiracy after being chosen to operate on the president of the United States. Her family is taken hostage, and it's her responsibility to save their lives." Haha. It's Homeland meets 24 meets E.R. meets The Mob Doctor meets Toni Collette! What could possibly go wrong? Anyway, it's an interesting and comprehensive read if you care about such things. [The Hollywood Reporter]

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