Seven ways ‘ER’ changed TV in 15 years

Some shows change TV, and some change lives. Then, there are a few - very few - that actually accomplish both.

As "ER" comes to an end after 15 seasons (Thursday at 10 p.m., NBC/4), here are seven ways NBC's extraordinary medical drama made a difference.

"ER" is the last holdout of NBC's "must-see TV" Thursday lineup. By the mid-1980s, NBC's Thursday had become national appointment TV, with roughly a third of viewers who were watching at 10 p.m. tuning in to "Hill Street Blues," then "L.A. Law" and finally "ER," which bowed in 1994, the same season as "Friends."


Behind the scenes of an episode of AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad’

Our locale: inside Stage 5 of the Albuquerque Studios, where “Breaking Bad” is largely shot. The interiors of the White household are here, and we’re standing with Bryan in the living room, along with about a dozen crew members. It feels a bit like 1985 –- the floor is covered in a plush brown carpet, and the walls and decorations are all earth toned as well, but not in a good way, really. Basically, this your grandmother’s house –- the one that hasn’t been redecorated in decades.


The New Ad Frontier for Filmmakers

When the big ad agencies and media companies contract, gaps in the landscape form wherein new blossoms can sprout. One such newcomer is Maximum Entertainment, a production company that makes video ads. Maximum's pitch, to marketers and ad agencies that might be interested in hiring it, revolves around the company's stable of directors, almost all of whom come from the world of film.

The Internet continues to rework most long-held assumptions about media and marketing, but many advertisers, rightly or wrongly, still spend serious sums to ensure they get beautiful images. There are ego issues associated with hiring famous directors—all marketers think their products are stars—but the real dividends come from unusually memorable ads. (A favorite, at least around my cubicle, is the "My Life, My Card" American Express spot shot by critics' darling and Rushmore director Wes Anderson.)


Will the gods at ABC laugh at new ‘Cupid’?


Trying to understand the whims and decisions of ABC is not easy. It has a good eye for quality and often takes creative risks while maintaining its core programming strategy, but ultimately some hitch happens along the way and things go sideways.

Although there are many examples of this disconnect, let's focus on "Cupid," which defies F. Scott Fitzgerald's "there are no second acts in American lives" idea by allowing Rob Thomas a second shot on the network with a show of the same name. Yep, in 1998, Thomas created "Cupid," starring Jeremy Piven and Paula Marshall, about a man who thinks he's actually the god Cupid, sent down from Mount Olympus as a punishment. His job is to unite 100 couples in true love. Naturally, everyone thinks he's insane and he's hospitalized and eventually diagnosed by a psychiatrist and later put under her watchful care.

The show back then was a romantic comedy with not only heart but quirky humor and a brilliant performance from Piven. When ABC canceled the series before the first season, it quickly became one of those cult shows everyone raved about - killed before its time.

Now, 11 years later, Thomas ("Veronica Mars") is back on ABC with "Cupid," which is essentially the same show, except that Bobby Cannavale ("Will & Grace") is now Cupid, a.k.a. Trevor, and Sarah Paulson ("Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip") is Claire, his psychiatrist. Formerly set in Chicago, the new version is set in New York. Minor tweaks are here and there, but essentially this "Cupid" is the same good idea as the one in 1998.


Top 10 movie car chase scenes

Which star do you most associate with car-chase movies: Steve McQueen or Michael Caine? Gene Hackman or Burt Reynolds?

Although most car-chase movies pack some serious A-list talent, we like to think that in many cases the real star in this particular movie genre is the car: from McQueen's super-tight Ford Mustang in "Bullitt" to the stripped-down Dodge Charger in Quentin Tarantino's "Death Proof."

But which movie has the best car-chase scene in history? We take a look.


‘Star Trek’ screenwriters partnerships endure blockbusters

On a leafy hillside on the Universal Studios lot, childhood friends Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman share not just a bungalow but a single desk that sits beneath large letters that spell out "C-O-F-F-E-E" -- vintage neon salvaged from an old diner. There, sitting face to face and finishing each other's sentences, the screenwriters crank out tales of the fantastic for Hollywood, including two of this summer's biggest popcorn films, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" and "Star Trek," as well as Fox's eerie hit series "Fringe."


Behind the special scenes of ‘ER’


Though the long-running NBC drama finally checks out Thursday (9 ET/PT), it leaves a lasting, indelible impression not only on its viewers over the 15 seasons, but also on its cast and crew.

A selection of special memories and observations as we observe the behind the scenes filming of several favorite episodes of 'ER'.


MOVIE OPENINGS – March 27, 2009


Director: Rob Letterman Conrad Vernon 
Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Rainn Wilson, Stephen Colbert 
Studio: DreamWorks Distribution

The Plot: After being hit by a meteorite on her wedding day, Susan Murphy (Witherspoon) is transformed into a monster named Ginormica and subsequently whisked away to a secret government compound where others like her have been rounded up over the years. When the Earth comes under attack by an alien commander known as Gallaxhar (Wilson), however, Ginormica and her new allies are set free to save the planet.


Director: Peter Cornwell 
Stars: Virginia Madsen, Martin Donovan, Elias Koteas
Studio: Lionsgate

The Plot: For reasons related to their son's health, Peter and Sara Campbell (Donovan and Madsen) relocate their family to Northern Connecticut. As they settle into their new Victorian home, however, they come face to face with their abode's unsettling history and the supernatural forces who share the space.


Director: Renny Harlin 
Stars: John Cena, Ashley Scott 
Studio: Fox Atomic

The Plot: Detective Danny Fisher (Cena) discovers his girlfriend (Scott) has been kidnapped by a ex-con tied to Baxter's past, and he'll have to successfully complete 12 challenges in order to secure her safe release.


Director: Fred Durst 
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Ritter, Eva Amurri 
Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment

The Plot: College student Charlie Banks (Eisenberg) has to face old problems when Mick (Ritter), a troubled young man from his past, arrives on campus and begins to insinuate himself into Charlie's life.


Director: Emmanuel Mouret 
Stars: Julie Gayet, Michaël Cohen, Virginie Ledoyen 
Studio: Music Box Films

The Plot: At the end of their casual evening together, Emilie (Gayet) rejects Gabriel's (Cohen) offer of a "kiss without consequences" and proceeds to tell him a story, which unfolds in flashbacks, about the impossibility of indulging your desires without affecting someone else's life.

Twilight sequel ‘New Moon’ starts shooting in Canada


For "Twilight" movie fans who are anxiously awaiting the sequel but haven't read the second book in the vampire series, "New Moon," the film's star Robert Pattinson offers this advice -- be ready for something different and perhaps a little strange.

Pattinson became an overnight sensation playing a lovestruck vampire in the smash hit that sucked $373.4 million from global box offices, and he is in Vancouver, Canada, this week starting production on the film version of "New Moon."


Warner Bros tries to figure new change of guard

With the heads of Warner Bros. signing only two-year contract extensions, Time Warner Inc. Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes will focus on succession and how the movie and television studio should be managed in the face of tectonic shifts in the entertainment industry and a harsh economic environment.

The performance of the legendary Hollywood studio, with its rich legacy of producing cultural touchstones such as Looney Tunes and the "Harry Potter" series, will receive closer scrutiny as it becomes more important to the bottom line of parent Time Warner in the wake of its spinning off its cable TV systems.

At the same time, Time Warner must grapple with a movie and TV business that, after years of double-digit growth and spending, confronts mature markets being undercut by technology and the Internet.


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