Miniseries, Movies: The Candidates

Mystery, horror pics in Emmy mix

Premiere: June 25
Director: Walter Hill
Cast: Robert Duvall, Thomas Haden Church, Greta Scacchi
Logline: Cowboys juggle caring for abandoned Chinese girls and horses in the Old West.
Variety‘s take: “Arrives at a satisfying conclusion, although the narrative about taciturn men and imperiled women at times seems mired in mud.”

Premiere: Dec. 11
Directors: Craig R. Baxley, Michael W. Watkins
Cast: Peter Krause, Karl Kreutzfeld, Jennifer Bloom, Dennis Christopher, Ewen Bremner, Elle Fanning
Logline: A detective uses a key to an unusual motel room to rescue his daughter.
Variety‘s take: “This well-cast project creates a dense world of ‘object hunters’ that should tap directly into the basic cabler’s geekazoid base.”

Premiere: Jan. 21
Director: Susanna White
Cast: Ruth Wilson, Toby Stephens
Logline: A governess goes to work for a moody employer and captures his heart before a dark secret intrudes.
USA Today’s take: “Love, betrayal, despair, redemption, reconciliation. All of the elements expected of any epic love story are included. The distinction here: The story is splendidly retold.”

Premiere: July 12
Directors: Rob Bowman, Mark Haber, Brian Henson, Sergio Mimica-Gezzan, Mike Robe, Mikael Salomon
Cast: William Hurt, William H. Macy, Henry Thomas, Kim Delaney, Steven Weber, Eion Bailey, Jeremy Sisto, Tom Berenger, Marsha Mason, Samantha Mathis
Logline: Horror anthology miniseries of Stephen King’s short stories.
Variety‘s take: “Despite some highlights, this foray into ‘The Twilight Zone’ territory mostly lacks the requisite punch Showtime’s ‘Masters of Horror’ delivered, primarily owing to episodes with inadequate payoffs.”

“THE PATH TO 9/11” (ABC)
Premiere: Sept. 10
Director: David L. Cunningham
Cast: Harvey Keitel, Dan Lauria, Michael Benyaer, Shirley Douglas, Patricia Heaton, Amy Madigan
Logline: Events leading to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 are portrayed.
Variety‘s take: “This five-hour presentation is earnest but scattered and a little plodding. … Plays like a compendium of movies and documentaries surrounding that fateful day.”

Premiere: Nov. 12
Director: Philip Martin
Cast: Helen Mirren, Stephen Tomkinson, Laura Greenwood, Eva Best, Katy Murphy
Logline: The retiring Detective Tennison solves a child murder while dealing with her own demons.
Variety‘s take: “Helen Mirren’s latest scintillating performance elevates this otherwise conventional potboiler into a fitting sendoff.”

Premiere: May 31
Director: Jon Avnet
Cast: Debra Messing, Judy Davis, Miranda Otto, Joe Montegna
Logline: A Hollywood ex starts a new life after divorce.
Variety‘s take: “The two-hour premiere is neither trashy enough to qualify as a Jackie Collins-type guilty pleasure nor hip enough to break ground sifting through Hollywood’s dirty, overpriced lingerie.”

Premiere: Feb. 17
Directors: Michael Offer, Daniel Percival
Cast: Jason Isaacs, Sharon Gless, Ben Daniels, Eva Birthistle, Neil Pearson
Logline: U.K. ambassador finds himself caught in web of intrigue.
Variety‘s take: “Boasts a handsome cast, but its convoluted story and rising body count strain credibility.”

Premiere: Dec. 10
Director: Bharat Nalluri
Cast: Tim Roth, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Hugh Bonneville, Sophie Okonedo
Logline: Survivors cope in the aftermath of the late-2004 Thailand tsunami.
Variety‘s take: “A beautifully performed but ultimately unsatisfying drama. … A tedious second half leaves this HBO-BBC collaboration grasping for higher ground that it never reaches.”

Premiere: Oct. 30
Director: Jim McKay
Cast: Jonan Everett, Rachel Griffiths, Denis O’Hare, Wallace Little, Jon Norman Schneider
Logline: A pivotal day in the lives of a troubled inner-city youth and his counselor
Variety‘s take: “For all the fresh observation and humanist realism in McKays previous work, the director — with regular screenwriting partner Hannah Weyer — reaches a new level of sophistication and cinematic power in the new pic.”

Premiere: May 27
Director: Yves Simoneau
Cast: Aidan Quinn, Adam Beach, August Schellenberg, Anna Paquin, Wes Studi, J.K. Simmons, Colm Feore
Logline: Portrayal of the effect of American expansion into the West on the American Indian at time of the Sioux’s victory over General Custer.
Variety‘s take: “A powerful story limply told, steeped in tired Western cliches and an overbearing score.”

Premiere: Nov. 26
Director: John Erman
Cast: Alicia Silverstone, Eion Bailey, Polly Bergen, Annabeth Gish
Logline: A New England couple is visited by the husband’s old high school crush.
Variety‘s take: “This is still the kind of production that should strike the right sentimental chords and, not incidentally, help sell lots of holiday cards.”

Premiere: Oct. 30
Director: Antonia Bird
Cast: Robbie Coltrane, Anthony Flanagan, Stefanie Wilmore, Andrea Lowe, Lilli Ella Kelleher
Logline: Forensic psychologist Fitz returns to investigate the case of a British soldier irate over the U.S. response to 9/11 and terrorism.
Variety‘s take: “Screenwriter Jimmy McGovern’s chest-clearing rant overwhelms the narrative and mutes the pleasure of seeing Fitz back on the case.”

Premiere:Dec. 2
Director: Stephen Bridgewater
Cast: Edward Asner, Brian Robinson, Lois Nettleton, Alice Evans
Logline: A soldier in Afghanistan returns home to search for the sender of an anonymous Christmas card.
Newsday’s take: “‘The Christmas Card’ is an old-fashioned heart-tugger.”

Premiere: May 22
Director: Robert Harmon
Cast: Tom Selleck, Sean Young, William Sadler, Mika Boreem, William Devane
Logline: Chief Stone reopens a 15-year-old unsolved murder in a small New England town.
Variety‘s take: “Solving cases is peripheral to these telepics, which are really about watching Selleck inhabit a character wrestling with inner demons. For a network that has largely bailed out of the made-for-TV movie biz, credit CBS with recognizing a good thing when they stumbled onto it.”

Premiere: March 10
Director: Nelson George
Cast: Queen Latifah, Anna Deavere Smith, Wendell Pierce, Rachel Nicks
Logline: A former addict works to become a role model and AIDS activist in an urban black community
Variety‘s take: “Subtext and subtlety have little place in this melodrama of a Brooklyn woman working in an HIV awareness support group and wrestling with family issues.”

Premiere: Feb. 17
Director: Tom Hooper
Cast: Jim Broadbent, Samantha Morton, Tam Dean Burn, Lindsay Duncan
Logline: A former British government minister takes up the case of a 1960s convicted child murderer.
Variety‘s take: “Though pic carries extra resonances for British viewers, the dramatic conflict is clearly enough etched and provides a sufficient feast of acting for this to work offshore as a specialist, upscale item.”

Premiere: Aug. 13
Director: Randa Haines
Cast: Matthew Perry, Ernie Hudson, Melissa de Sousa, Hannah Hudson
Logline: A small-town teacher helps guide struggling Harlem schoolkids toward a better education.
Variety‘s take: “Won’t earn high marks for creativity but features a winning performance by Matthew Perry. … Director Randa Haines elicits solid work from the youthful co-stars, adding up to an appealing (if rather elementary) equation.”

Premiere: Oct. 23
Director: Peter Werner
Cast: Sarah Chalke, Jay Harrington, Patti LaBelle, Lally Cadeau, Harvey Atkin
Logline: A young woman with a full life is diagnosed with breast cancer and finds self-acceptance with courage, humor and her red lipstick.
Entertainment Weekly’s take: “Don’t let the cutesy title fool you. This true story about a 27-year-old breast cancer survivor is heartbreaking – due in no small part to the fantastic work of Sarah Chalke in the role of Geralyn Lucas.”

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