The year is winding down and Hollywood is still not completely recovered from the writers and actors strikes, but there are still a lot of new options coming to the small screen.
From science fiction to documentaries, co-host Bruce Miller offers his recommendations on what to watch. Plus, he has a special holiday treat in the form of an interview with Bill Pullman, who portrays Alex Murdaugh in the new Lifetime movie "Murdaugh Murders: The Movie."
Pullman, best known as Lone Starr in "Spaceballs" and considered one of the greatest film presidents of all time as President Whitmore in "Independence Day," talks about how he took on his latest challenge.
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About the show
Streamed & Screened is a podcast about movies and TV hosted by Bruce Miller, a longtime entertainment reporter who is now the editor of the Sioux City Journal in Iowa and Terry Lipshetz, a senior producer for Lee Enterprises based in Madison, Wisconsin.
Note: The following transcript was created by Headliner and may contain misspellings and other inaccuracies as it was generated automatically:
Terry Lipshetz: Welcome, everyone, to another episode of Streamed & Screened an entertainment podcast about movies and TV. From Lee Enterprises. I'm Terry Lipshetz, managing editor of the national Newsroom at Lee and co-host of the program of Bruce Miller, editor of the Sioux City Journal and a longtime entertainment reporter. Bruce, we're back.
Bruce Miller: It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. We've got a lot of stuff unpacked because this is the week that they start opening up. A lot of new shows, a lot of new specials, a lot of new films on. Were we were really worried there for a while. But I think we're in a good place right now. There are a lot of things that we want to see. Candy cane Lane. Have you heard of this?
Terry Lipshetz: I have not, no.
Bruce Miller: Eddie Murphy. It's where he gets a chance to kind of play like Tim Allen or Chevy Chase. And it's his big Christmas thing that's coming out this week. And it's one of those kind of I want to be Clark Griswold. I want to have the house decorated with the most lights of anybody. It's Eddie Murphy then? Diary of a wimpy kid. Cabin Fever. Christmas cabin fever. are you a Wimpy Kid fan?
Terry Lipshetz: No. That kind of predated me a little bit.
Bruce Miller: It's since kind of switched because it was live action. Now it's animated. And this is a movie movie thing about he gets in trouble with a snowplow and he wants to cover his tracks so nobody knows about it because he really wants a gaming system. Sounds just like Terry. And then he has to try and figure out how he's going to promote the lie without being found out. And it's really cute. I saw it and I was like, this is pretty good. This is a nice little look at this.
Terry Lipshetz: Need a little more family stuff out there, too.
Bruce Miller: That's what we're throwing out there. We have the Doctor Who special. Are you a big Doctor Who fan?
Terry Lipshetz: Never. Never got into it, no.
Bruce Miller: Well, they're going to introduce the new Doctor Who. They're going to throw back to some of the old ones. That's a big thing that's coming this week. Then we get into what I'd like to call the documentary area. A lot of documentaries are out there. American Symphony. I think I might have mentioned this before with John Baptiste. Fascinating. Fascinating. I watched it over the weekend. And it's about how he was having the greatest time ever. And his wife was experiencing one of the biggest lows. She was, diagnosed with cancer. And she was going through a bone marrow transplant. And he was winning all the Grammys. And they juxtaposed the two things quite well. Suleika [Jaouad] is her name. And she is just a marvel at how she dealt with all of this and then how he deals with tempering, his enthusiasm over his own career because his wife is do we know how it's going to end? We don't and the documentary kind of has that same trajectory. We don't know where this is going. So that's a fascinating one. Thriller at 40. They go back and they look at all of the people who were involved in Thriller and they talked to a number of them about what it was like making Thriller. I think that's fascinating. I think that's really good documentary.
Terry Lipshetz: For me, growing up on MTV, thriller is just one of those music videos that it's just iconic. Absolutely.
Bruce Miller: MJ The musical, is on Broadway. And I think this is another one of those ways to politely deal with Michael Jackson's life without getting into Michael Jackson's life. so that'll be interesting to see how that plays out. Now, later in the month, we're going to get Oprah's journey. Oprah and her color purple journey. And if you ever heard her talking about this, she did a couple of interviews this last week. I sat in on one of them where she talks about that really started her career. She was just a, local television personality who wanted more but didn't know what to do. And Steven Spielberg offered her the job in the movie Color Purple. And by just kind of letting go and not worrying about anything, she was able to create Oprah. And this talks about how she got from that movie to now, where she's producing the new musical that's coming out at Christmas time.
Terry Lipshetz: Wow.
Bruce Miller: And the musical is different. It is not what I was expecting, having seen the Broadway revival that was very spare and kind of pulled back. This movie is just like a huge musical. It's got big musical numbers. It's interesting. Very interesting. And then having Oprah kind of as an overlay on this whole journey. Fascinating. So those are kind of, the documentaries that are hanging out there. Then we've got series, some series that are interesting. I talked to the cast of Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
Terry Lipshetz: Oh, yeah.
Bruce Miller: That has been hanging out there. How long, did you see any of the Percy Jackson movies?
Terry Lipshetz: Yeah, this was something that we as a family watched a lot of, in the last year or two. One of my daughters, who's just a crazy bookworm, knock through the entire series of the books. And then we watched, I think it was, what, two movies. And they were planning on continuing it, but then it just fell apart. The movies were okay. They weren't spectacular. We've been eyeballing this one. So tell me it's good, please.
Bruce Miller: Well, they did the Lightning Thief as a Broadway musical. It did okay. It didn't win awards, but it was interesting. And it's been touring around. So you might find it somewhere in the country if you're looking. But now they decided we're going back to the beginning. We're going to try this again and see where we can get and the first season will deal with the first book. They have three kids that are basically unknowns that are cast in this. And they're excited about it. For them, there are a lot of these kind of guest star gods that show up. So you're going to find a bunch of big names, including Lin Manuel Miranda, He's, Hermes. So there are a number of these ones that will kind of pop in and be a surprise. I think its 810 episode, something like that. But fascinating. They spend a lot of money on it. They're trying hard to create another Harry Potter vibe. I think that's what three kids friends dealing with things. And the kid said that the fight scenes were really kind of fun. So who knows if that's it could be the big thing. But that's coming up. I think it starts December 20. So we'll see how that kind of spins down and if it is interesting. Back in my documentary, Kick, we, live here. It's a series of stories about LGBTQ residents around the country. And it's in unlikely places like Iowa, where they talk about their lives and what it was like. And I think this is a fascinating look at people in places that you wouldn't expect, if that's the right terminology for this. It's fascinating because they'll talk about their lives and what kind of struggles they have in every part of the country. It's produced by Ryan Murphy's husband. And Ryan Murphy. You may know from a lot of those TV series like glee and, American horror Story. he's got a lot of things on the front burner. But this is one that his husband is producing. And he sees a hope for this, that they will go all around the world eventually and tell you all about what's happening. Murder in Boston. It was a 1989 murder in Boston. Obviously, the husband tried to pin it on a black man.
Terry Lipshetz: Okay.
Bruce Miller: They then later found out that the husband was maybe trying to get out of something. Netflix had a series on it. And then who else has one now? Max. So it's like one begets another. Murdaugh murders the movie. It's on Lifetime as a movie. And this is about the Alex Murdaugh, case, where he was charged with killing his wife and his son.
Terry Lipshetz: Right?
Bruce Miller: It was unfolding while they were making the movie version of this. It's like, how do you get a resolution out of this? But they were worried about the strike. They were worried about everything else. And finally it came out in October. And still the case wasn't over. And I got a chance to talk to Bill Pullman, who's the star who plays Alec in the film version. And he said he was watching the Netflix documentary before he started filming. So he'd get a little more sense of all this because it was changing daily and what this was like for him. He also has a son who's in Lessons In is his career is just blossoming. And dad will talk about what he thought was going to happen with Lewis's career. Lewis today was just nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for lessons in chemistry.
Terry Lipshetz: All right, that sounds good. Let's go ahead to that.
Bruce Miller: Know, the strange thing about this is the news was unfolding while you were making this. Have you ever had that before where you've had to kind of deal with what might be happening and then play the story or what's that like?
Bill Pullman: Yeah, I have never done that before. I don't think there's a lot where, like with the sinner, you don't know what the story is going to be. But this is different. This was like wild rogue people doing people things. It's not a manipulation of writers or anything. And, that was one thing. And then the fact that you just knew that nobody was going to it wasn't like they saw all the footage when it happened, and then they were going to give it a break. And then you come in with a clean slate. You're layering your story on top of yet another doc series like the Netflix. One was strong, and everybody saw that. And then there was many others that came on. Most of them are called Murdoch murders. And then we came along. Murdoch murders the movie.
Bruce Miller: The movie. Do you prepare by watching all of that? Or do you say, no, I don't want to be teeded by that.
Bill Pullman: Well, my first instinct was I didn't want to do it if they were expecting to be a mimic kind of thing. And I played, like in Too Big to Fail. I played Jamie Diamond. And there was a lot available on him that I, could access. He's pretty public person. This one. I felt like an HBO can be very there's just a lot of producers, sometimes that give you the feeling like you've got to fit their idea of what they think is the way he wore his hair, all that. Whereas this one, I didn't want to get into that. And I thought, I'll not watch a lot of it. I think I've seen enough. And then I started in. And then like everybody else, curiosity just led me to just say, I got to look at it again. Some of it was a tension between needing to learn lines and keep moving with shooting. Ah, so you're going vertical then. But then you get online and you're watching this stuff and you're going horizontal. And you know that it's like, I can't spend more time looking at this, because I got to go vertical. And yet you can't pull out just too many details, too compelling. But somehow I did end up watching more than I thought.
Bruce Miller: Are you still interested in his case, in his situation? Or have you said, okay, I'm done now. I'm out of it.
Bill Pullman: Well I don't have a search on him or anything but like today was the verdict for the state embezzlement that all came down today and somebody showed me on the phone what the results were. Pretty much everybody I know will say hey, did you hear or check it out, what's happening? And then I would check it out the voice too. Did you study that so you could.
Bruce Miller: Get the voice just like his voice?
Bill Pullman: Some of it was this great thing about southern people. There's lots of different versions of that South Carolina thing. There's the mountain and then there's this southern pied bond that's slower but he could talk very fast but also very good communicator and a lot of it came from the starting low and going up high and hidden certain words especially when he was doing his testimony and he just loved to say dog. Well what you have to understand about these dogs they're Munton dogs all that just watching how those signature ah, coded dialect I think and so much performative in his case he was different in different circumstances.
Bruce Miller: There's so much in this about his relationship with his dad and then his relationship with his son. How does that work with you and your kids? Here you have a kid going in the same business say you're in find yourself giving advice or saying you're not doing this, you're not doing that. Where does that work?
Bill Pullman: Yeah that is the thing about as an actor now it's common when you're running into people laypeople or young actors. Do you have any advice for me? I don't know when this started but it's like a virus man. I never asked anybody to give me advice and I don't think if they did I usually thought I was scornful of know because I figured I don't just have a mistrust of that that's A leads to B equals learning. You get so much by osmosis and everything and I think that's true with Lewis really would only be really granular with him. I don't have it Bruce. I don't have overarching big wisdoms of truisms that always hold up brain or shine. I'm always aware that I'm looking at opposites so much. I'm so much more intrigued by what I say and then I could also get behind the opposite of that quite quickly.
Bruce Miller: Did you think he would go into the business when he was a kid? Did you say oh yeah, this one's going to be an actor?
Bill Pullman: You know he were I've talked about this particularly with actresses know different times about what their kids are like and I remember it was Julia Armand who was just know, some actors come out of exhibitionism and some comes out of extreme shyness and they both can be good actors. Lewis was not I didn't think of him as overly exhibitionist. In fact he really had a lot of performance anxiety early on that he decided he didn't want to be victim to. And he was a drummer and was having trouble performing in high school. And he worked through that. And by his senior year, he said, now I'm going to try to be in a play. I'm going to work through that. So it was an effortful to get through all that, which I admire him for.
Bruce Miller: What is it like now when you see him and he's doing so well?
Bill Pullman: Yeah, he really is such a wash of relief and wonderment that comes over me when I watch now this lessons in chemistry. Now know, he has Astounding chemistry with Brie Larson that I've been watching that and it's know, watching an animal at the like just so curious about the behavior.
Terry Lipshetz: Thanks again for that interview, Bruce. Fascinating stuff. It sounds like an interesting series. So it might be one I'm going to look to check out.Now, Bill Pullman, he's been around. He's done a know, he's Lone Starr from Spaceballs right.
Bruce Miller: His career is so eclectic. You really can't pin it down as to he's this or he's that. they always talk about him as the best president on film.
Terry Lipshetz: I would vote for Bill Pullman for president. Is he a Democrat? Is he a Republican? I don't even know what he cares. He saved Planet Earth. He knew what he was. He was a war hero.
Bruce Miller: Right.
Terry Lipshetz: Because he was a fighter jet pilot.
Bruce Miller: And he was presidential. That's all we need.
Terry Lipshetz: Yeah, but he's been around. I mean, you look at, Spaceballs, obviously. He played the father of Christina Ricci and Casper back in 96. USA Network had a, it was a very brief series. It was called The Sinner. And he played a detective, Harry Ambrose. And it was sort of an anthology because he was the only character that went through all four seasons. But it was these very strange cases that only the detective, Harry Ambrose, could somehow solve.
Bruce Miller: Well, and he says this kind of plays off that by doing this real life thing. It's a different kind of skill set that he needed to have. Because when it's unfolding while you're making it, it's a different world. And I like it. It's very easy going, very kind of dad like, if that's a good term.
Terry Lipshetz: Okay.
Bruce Miller: And he never wanted to be an actor, really. He taught acting, in Montana. And the students all said, you need to be an actor. You need to try. And it worked. It worked for so, he's one of the good guys. But they're bringing it back now because he didn't get to do publicity when it first premiered, because we were airstrike time. So pushing him because we're heading into the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Oscars, Golden Globes, all the Critic Awards, and they want to give him some attention for this. And hopefully it'll work they'll be able to get that momentum going behind his performance. He's one of the biggest names Lifetime has had on their channel. He gets a chance to really kind of do what he wants to do. You see him playing around with his voice a lot. You might come to a different conclusion about some of this, but you see the pressures that Alec was facing and, how it being part of a family that has a history. I'm glad I'm not. It's like so often when you see on TV an ad that says, we don't charge you a cent for representing you. Well, no, they don't, but they take a piece of the action if you win, and it's probably a huge part of the money you get in a settlement. is this a good way to go? I don't know.
Terry Lipshetz: When are we getting the sequel to Spaceballs? Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money?
Bruce Miller: He did not say. He did not say. But I have a feeling that if somebody brought him a script, he'd say, I'm in.
Terry Lipshetz: What's Mel Brooks doing? He's semi-retired, but he's still doing things.
Bruce Miller: Mel is still working. He's got a lot of the front know he's been redoing his young Frankenstein Broadway musical. Well, another one that I want to mention to you, because I think it's kind of interesting. It's Monk's last case. Remember Monk?
Terry Lipshetz: Oh, sure.
Bruce Miller: And he kind of disappeared on us. Where has he been? Well, he's been at the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is where he's of course. But he's coming back to do what they say. It's one more this is the last one. Is it? I mean, it's even titled Last Case. But I bet you any money, if it works really well and they can work it out, he'll do more. Yeah. And so it's his last chance to kind of deal with issues that surround him. They sent, in the mail as kind of a thing, of course, and Sanitizer Nice a hanger and a suit bag. And it's all a way to push the idea. Tony Shalhoub is back, and many of the other people that you saw on the series over the years will make special appearances.
Terry Lipshetz: You know, Tony Shalhoub, though, he made a special appearance recently, because I live in Wisconsin, and he is, from Wisconsin, and he is one of the Green Bay Packers biggest fans. And while everybody in the world was talking about Taylor Swift coming to Lambeau Field, Tony Shalhoub was there. He was mingling with the people. He wasn't in the glass box with Taylor Swift. He was down on the field hanging out with Simone Biles.
Bruce Miller: That could be the next Prave. For Taylor Swift.
Terry Lipshetz: That's right. Right.
Bruce Miller: If you're not with Tony Shalhoub, who are?
Bill Pullman: Exactly.
Bruce Miller: It's nice to see him doing something know, after they end a series, you think, now, how much sooner will it be until I get to see him again. Well, this was great. He had this one two punch. I don't think he was that big in this last season of Mrs. Basil, but, it's nice to see him revisit his old parts. And who knows if he might not be back for another Wings Redo. They've talked about that many times, so you never know. So that's what we've got. But it's a lot on TV this time. So look at your TV schedules, what you like to watch. All of the premium channels are introducing things, even like, Jeff Lewis. Are you a Jeff Lewis fan? Jeff Lewis is a home improvement guy. And I thought I had given up on it. I didn't think it was coming back. But he's doing more Hollywood house lifts and we'll see what happens there. But there are a lot of those things that are out there. I want you to call attention to it because this is the time of year when some of those might just slip by.
Terry Lipshetz: You know, we talked about this also where when we're trying to come up with their predictions for when would the writer strikes and the actor strike ends. And I threw out the idea of things would kind of loosen up right around Thanksgiving. Because it's that time where all of a sudden there's no college football. The NFL season is winding down. We're heading into the winter. People aren't outside as much. It's time to become snuggle up by the fire and become a couch potato again for a few months. So you need programming. And sure enough, as we're getting into the holidays and there's things out there, and I'm starting to see previews for show. I keep seeing this preview on football for, like, Night Court. Season two is coming back. And I just saw and this is a ways out, but I was watching something on HBO, and all of a sudden, the preview for the season two of House of the Dragon is coming up. And that's getting me excited for next summer already. So it's just good to see programming is coming back.
Bruce Miller: It gives us hope. Isn't that looking? If I have TV shows, I'll be okay. I could make it through the winter.
Terry Lipshetz: The holiday season, the time for hope in television.
Bruce Miller: That's right. Next week, I've got a really special thing for you, and I hope you tell others about it.
Terry Lipshetz: Okay?
Bruce Miller: it is a look at somebody who was part of two of the biggest things this year. The biggest movie, one of the biggest movies. It's not Barbie and Ken, so don't look for that. And also one of the biggest series. And he talks about what that whole year has been like and also how he got the gig. He did not plan to be an actor. He was not in it. Like some are where they go to school for this. He was going to be a chemist. All of a sudden, things changed for him. And you'll hear the story. It's a fascinating story, a story I didn't know. I was excited to hear the interview, to be a part of the interview. And that'll next week, and we won't spoil it anymore. But you want to tune in for that because think that's very special.
Terry Lipshetz: That sounds good. Well, I guess, on that note, we will wrap up this week's episode and we have to look ahead. Then you've got to come back to find out who we're going to talk to on another episode of streamed and screen.
Bruce Miller: And after that, we're going to be talking the best pictures of the year and the best TV shows of the year. So get ready. Those are going to be coming up later in the month. Bye.