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November 5, 2006 Episode: The Thibodeau Family

So we just returned from South Dakota. Having never been, I didn't know what to expect.The first thing that I noticed was corn, corn, corn and more corn. As the bus got closer to the farm, I realized that we were in farm country! This family is miles away from their nearest neighbor or hospital — and knowing Siehera's story, how difficult that must be. I knew this little girl had been through so much and that the house was working against this little girl's health. We finally got to meet the whole clan: Nila, Kevin, Siehera and two feisty little boys named Kyle and Kevin, not to mention the family ferret. When I first arrived at the house, the first thing I noticed was that from the outside, it wasn't so bad. But upon further inspection, the house was the root of their problem. This is a young vibrant family and regardless of what they've been through, they have each other. As the design team descended on them, they looked a bit stunned… I guess it's not every day a giant... read more

Mr. Lowe's Second Act

He has lines on his face, mostly around the eyes, but he's still almost comically handsome. More so, given the absence of post-teen heart-throb vapidity. The lines help. They humanize. They seem earned. The mark of a grownup. The battle scars of life. The smile is vivid, and slightly knowing. It is the smile of someone with a lot of experience being in the public eye, someone who knows all the punchlines but still loves the jokes. I am talking about Rob Lowe, who is joining the cast of Brothers &Sisters [Sundays at 10 pm/ET, on ABC] this week, following an arduous and elaborate courting ritual which required forbearance and good intentions from all parties. Everyone — Rob, agents, producers, studio and network execs — wanted to happen. So it did. He's sitting in my office. It's me, [show runner Greg] Berlanti and [executive producer Ken] Olin, telling him about the part. The part, as written by Mr. Berlanti and Mr. Guggenheim, is tailored for Rob like a very good Paul ... read more

How did I get a TV show?

Hi there blog reader. My name is John Lehr and I am the star of a yet-to-be-aired TV show called ‘10 Items or Less’. I just re-read that first sentence and laughed. It is laughable that this show came to be at all and now, after two years of struggling to get it on the air, here we are—days away. This show is a dream job for me: I executive produce, write and…as you already know, act as well. This show really started 20 years ago when I was at Northwestern University outside Chicago where I discovered a thing called improv. “You mean I can say anything I want?” I had grown up in Kansas and the idea that you could get on stage and say whatever hit your brain was a shock. It was love at first sight. After graduating I hooked up with a bunch of Second City grads, formed a group called ‘Random Sample’, and started doing bar gigs all over Chicago. But after a while, doing improv games in bars for $20 a night ran a little thin. Soon I was working ... read more

Episode 6: "Diwali"

Happy belated Halloween. I understand that instead of Halloween office parties, this year there were Office Halloween parties. Get the difference? The word got out that this year there were a lot of Office-inspired Halloween costumes. It's true. Office-inspired Halloween costumes! We have officially arrived. How bizarre. How cool, but how bizarre. Let's hope those women, and in some cases men, who dressed like Meredith look good in a one-size-fits-all denim skirt. There are some fun Office Halloween-party photos up on OfficeTally.com, and I got sent a few photos on MySpace.com/kateflan. Imitation is the highest form of Flannery.... I mean flattery. Thank you. Thanks to all for playing my Office Trivial trivia last week. That was fun. Some of you readers actually admitted that you were stumped! Pretty cool. I generally think of the Office fans as remembering more than I do. (And I'm in the episode!) No, I am not sucking up to the Office fans. I actually find them a little intimidati... read more

The Numbers and Why They Lie

My point of view about working in television will always be that of a playwright — a person who still lives and works in New York, in the theatre, an outsider entering a strange world.I am learning something about fear here in television land. There is no more powerful force at work in how networks decide what shows live and die. In television, fear translates to numbers, either in terms of viewership or bucks. The network execs claim that the marketplace — in other words, the Nielsen ratings — tell the whole story of a show. They may not truly even believe that, but the economics force them to act as though they do. The morning after the show airs, we get our report card, as does every other new show on television. I still don't know what the damn ratings mean — the Monday-morning numbers feel like tea leaves to me, read by psychics and seers and then examined as holy writ and reported dutifully in the press. I'm a playwright, not a psychic.Nevertheless, I am ra... read more

Week 8

Greetings, all! I'm back from the wilderness of Men in Trees [Fridays at 9 pm/ET, on ABC]. Actually, I am back from being trapped in the wilderness, literally! It's as if I was living this week's episode of Men in Trees, "The Buddy System," which also involves a couple of characters getting trapped in the wilderness. It's a real cliff-hanger.Yesterday I went on a hike with Adrian McMorran, who plays Carl on Men in Trees. He's the rather morose drunk who's always at the bar next to Jerome (the hilarious Timothy Webber, whom I also worked with on a Spielberg miniseries called Taken.) Well, it turned out this hike Adrian and I went on was a 10-mile, 1,700-meter climb up to the top of West Lion Mountain. We were a little ambitious, and by the time the sun had set, we were way up on the side of this mountain, in the middle of the forest, where large bears and cougars reside. Even outside of Alaska, bears seem to be a recurrent theme in my life. It took us three hours to find the trail in... read more

October 29, 2006 Episode: The Kibe Family

Smack in the center of farm country is where the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition bus stops this week. Beautiful fields of corn arranged in perfect rows stretch as far as the eye can see. We are in Gladbrook, Iowa, and we are here to join the community to help a local family rebuild their home and farm. The Kibe family: Shawn and Amy, Kody (13), Blake (10) and Christian (6). Theirs is the story of a young family who leave big-city life and move to the country to introduce their children to the wholesome, hardworking and rewarding life of running a farm. These kids have thrived, learning the lessons of hard work and reaping the rewards of working together. The boys' grades began to improve and they began to spend a whole lot of quality time together tending to the livestock and scraping by running a working farm. A few days before Christmas '05, the family was out picking up Mom from her job at a local department store when they received a frantic call from a neighbor: Their house was ... read more

The Office Trivial Trivia Quiz!

Hi, everyone. It's my favorite time of year, folks. It's not just that I need to carry a sweater (can you feel the slight change in the air? Can't you sense it?) but it's also time for the very first rerun of the new season. I love The Office reruns. I get to see what I laughed over. Just because I play Meredith the drunken redhead doesn't mean I don't enjoy watching the reruns! This week is the "Gay Witch Hunt" episode again. Rerunning this episode will make you feel even more up-to-date than you did six weeks ago.Did you know that right now we are shooting two episodes at the same time? That's right. Steve [Carell]'s grueling movie schedule has us doing things a little differently. Usually we shoot one episode in a five-day week, but we had to shoot all of Steve's scenes for two episodes in one week. I'll bet you won't be able to tell which episodes they are.So it's a great time for you, and I get to get a little intimate. Or not. Anyway, it's time for The Office Trivial Trivia.He... read more

On the Set

It is the first day shooting episode 8 – first shot, 11 am – and I am writing from the set.A great mood here at "Brothers & Sisters" in the wake of being picked up for a back nine, or ten or eleven, depending on whom you ask. When the executives told us, I felt like we had a full term in office. Our show, the little candidate, like Clinton after New Hampshire, was elected. Driving home on Monday night, after we heard, I felt like I could finally rest a little, and relax. For a moment. But the news dovetails nicely with the ambition of the episode we're shooting – a more emotional, deeper palate for us – a little advance by "Brothers & Sisters" into deeper waters. Now that we know we are here for a while, we are getting bolder. The network and studio seem thrilled.Rachel Griffiths is shooting a scene with Tyler Posey, who plays Sarah's stepson, Gabriel. A tough scene in which the 14-year-old's sense of being on the outside of the family looking in comes ou... read more

Episode 5: The Initiation

Meredith, from NBC's The Office, here. OK. Last week's "GriefCounseling" [episode] was one of the best! Nobody breaks down andcries like Steve. Am I right? My favorite moment was when he grabbed Phyllis' hand and my hand and started to sway during the bird funeral.I like to ask a lot of questions in my blog to make sure you're paying attention. I want to give you something to comment on. Your comments are very important. All kinds of folks have left me a comment. Drag queens, mothers, cops, social workers, market researchers... even the president of wine company have commented on my blog, so please don't feel intimidated. I accept all of your compliments, I mean comments. (You've been very supportive of lil' old drunken, redheaded Meredith from The Office. Keep up the good work!)This week's new episode is "The Initiation," written by B.J. Novak. Salesman Dwight Schrute teaches Ryan-the-former Temp how to be a salesman for Dunder Mifflin. Aside from the beet farm, I can't give away a... read more

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