Lee, one of the greatest living
directors (yeah, I said it), will direct the pilot for NBC’s M.O.N.Y. That stands for “Mayor of New
York” and focuses on an ordinary man who becomes mayor of the greatest city in
the world (said that, too). Of all the pilots I’ve read about so far, this is
one I’m already pumped for and one that seems built with Lee in mind. Last
year’s Inside Man showed that hecan
balance commercial entertainment without sacrificing the issues he cares
about…but Spike directed the blander than bland Shark pilot last year, too. I won’t even gripe about how this
better be shot in New York City rather than some bassackwards Vancouver or a
Los Angeles set standing in for NYC (I’m looking at you, CSI: NY), because I get the feeling Lee won’t let that happen.

NBC also hired Joseph “McG” McGinty, one of
the most delusional living directors, to direct the pilot for Chuck. (That “most delusional line” was
kind of mean. I actually think McG – if his work on The O.C. is an indication – a better television director than he is
a film director.) Chuck, an
action-adventure series about spies which called “in the vein of Grosse Point Blank”, comes from O.C. mastermind Josh Schwartz. So does
that mean Chuck will have one great
season before collapsing under the weight of its own snark and self-aware

Among the other new pilots announced this
week were the CW’s Reaper, which is
just as derivative as it sounds. How to put it best…let’s see…okay: It’s Brimstone meets Dead Like Me with just a little – just a little – bit of Dog the Bounty Hunter thrown in there
for good measure. describes Reaper,
a comedic drama about a 21-year-old slacker who
becomes the devil’s bounty hunter, retrieving souls escaped from hell.” Odds of
this being high on comedy (The slacker goes undercover to catch a priest! Oh
noes!) and low on drama: 2 to 1. Give me a call when you decide who’s playing
the devil, CW.

The Peabody Award-winning iconoclasts at Fox
News are at it again! Those anarchistic rascals says it got its liberal little
paws on the footage – including a scene where an advisor to President Clinton denies
the CIA an opportunity to kill Osama Bin Laden — cut from ABC’s stunning
docudrama The Path to 9/11. And how
did these guerilla muckrakers get away with this one? They taped a speech by Path ‘s writer-producer at California State University
where the scene was shown unedited. What will this generation’s answer to Upton
Sinclair think of next?!

The FOX Network, on the other hand, reminded
Time’s People of The Year – You – that you
are still subject to copyright law. The network has handed the website YouTube
a subpoena demanding they reveal the name of its user “ECOtotal,” who uploaded
episodes of 24 before the Jack Bauer
Power Hour aired on FOX. I don’t think this is going anywhere, because
YouTube’s revealed usernames before and because I don’t want to tell my great-nephews
about underground hero “ECOtotal,” crushed by The Man.

Daily “Oh, Shut Up About How Awesome SVU Is
Already” Update: The speculation that Olivia “tell me what he did to you”
Benson and Eliot “TELL ME WHAT YOU DID TO HER!” Stabler would be leaving the
elite team known as the Special Victims Unit has come to an end, reports Stars Christopher Meloni (Stabler) and Mariska Hargitay (Benson) both
signed deals that put them in the top bracket of television stars — at 330,000
dollars an episode, Hargitay is now the highest-paid actress on television,
while Meloni is in the “top tier”. SVU
remains the highest-rated of the three Law
& Order
shows on air and the first to receive a pickup for the
2007-2008 season. I know Dick Wolf likes to say that the story is everything
when it comes to the L&O multiverse, but one of the reasons SVU works so well is that the audience
knows and loves the characters because the focus remains on them – and in the
endless reruns I’ve seen, Meloni and Hargitay always deliver. This is one star
salary I don’t have any problem with.

From the files of Mrs. Basil E. How Did We
Miss This One? FX’s newest series is The
, and it sounds awesome. Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver play a
husband-and-wife team of grifters – con artists, living off the grid – who,
along with their three children, assume the identity of a wealthy family living
in a Louisiana
gated community. I hope The Riches is
less a comedy and more a drama, though, and its pedigree (created by playwright
Dmitry Lipkin, the pilot directed by Carl Franklin), suggests that. And Izzard
is one of those actors that I’d watch in damn near anything. Except for The Avengers. The Riches premieres with
limited commerical interruption on Monday, March 12th.

All in the game: One of the greatest moments
in The Wire’s first season — one of
many that made me fall in love with the HBO crime saga – is a five-minute scene
where Detectives Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West) and Bunk Moreland (Wendell
Pierce) investigate a murder using only the word “fuck.” It’s wonderful,
hilarious, and makes perfect sense for the characters – the language used not
to shock but to inform. So what happened when The Wire began airing in a censored form on basic cable BET?
According to Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle, this opus of profanity
was reduced to the actors saying “Mother,” Bunk grunting a lot, and a lot of
tape hiss. Motherfuckers. Oh, and the first THUD reader to send me the clip of
this once it pops up on YouTube gets a big shout-out in the lead to my next
column. (Everybody loves a shout-out.)

Were Wrong, I Was Right”: In my THUD News Roundup of January 23rd,
2007, I expressed displeasure over The Futon Critic’s inclusion of Veronica Mars’s second season finale on
its “best episodes of 2006” list. Having seen the episode, “Not Pictured,” in
the context of the entire season, I retract my previous statement. I still have
major problems with the episode’s blame-it-all-on-Beaver resolution, but there
was enough good stuff between the characters – Woody Goodman and Keith, Duncan
and Clarence Weidman, Weevil and Sherrif Lamb, and my personal favorite
Veronica and Principal Clemmons – to make the episode and the season worth my
time and continuing adoration.