- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 8, 2004

‘School’s‘ in

IFC, the Independent Film Channel, is bringing in the fall season with an original documentary or docu-series, as IFC likes to call it, about a subject it knows a little bit about — filmmaking.

Oscar-nominated director Nanette Burstein’s “Film School” follows four very different graduate-level filmmakers as they try to complete their student film at the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.

From writing scripts and scouting locations to finding funds for their films, the students must take on every detail. With family emergencies, on-set fights and unpaid tuition bills looming, it’s truly absorbing to see who drops out, who changes careers — and who’s on the way to becoming the next Martin Scorsese.

“Film School” debuts at 10:30 p.m. tomorrow on IFC.

Jump for ‘Joey’

The initial episode of “Joey,” the uber-high-profile spinoff from “Friends,” goes a long way toward answering the question: “Is it ‘The Ropers’ or ‘Frasier’?”

The former TV spinoff sank with nary a trace, while the latter sailed for a decade.

It’s way too soon for concrete predictions, but the assured performances and seasoned jokes in tonight’s first “Joey” stack the deck in the former “Friend’s” favor.

The highly anticipated series debuts at 8 p.m. tonight on NBC.

The dimwitted character (relentlessly appealing as played by Matt LeBlanc) pulls up stakes and heads to Los Angeles in the opener to try his luck in Hollywood.

He’s greeted by the West Coast’s answer to “Frasier’s” Roz, Joey’s sister Gina (Drea de Matteo of “The Sopranos” fame).

She gives as good as she gets and promises to be a rich comic foil.

Also solid is Paulo Costanzo as Gina’s brilliant son. Mr. Costanzo’s early clashes with lunkheaded Joey prove refreshing and sincere.

We can never have enough “Friends,” at least when they’re as engaging as our pal “Joey.”

You’re fired’ redux

Ready for another round of coldblooded firings?

NBC sure hopes so. The network brings back “The Apprentice,” its surprise smash — at least to everyone save a certain real estate mogul with a skyscraper-sized ego — tonight at 8:30.

The first assignment for this year’s class of would-be moguls: create a new toy for Mattel.

Tale of two brothers

Banking on name recognition from baby boomers, the producers of “Jack & Bobby,” the WB’s new drama premiering Sunday at 9 p.m., expect to attract a number of viewers who may believe the show has something to do with former President John F. Kennedy and his younger brother, Robert, the nation’s one-time attorney general.

It doesn’t — but it certainly involves politics.

“Jack & Bobby,” executive-produced by former “West Wing” director-producer Thomas Schlamme and “Everwood” creator Greg Berlanti, looks at the early years in the lives of two brothers who establish a political dynasty.

We meet the young men as teenagers in the not-so-distant future. Older brother Jack McCallister (Matt Long) is a popular jock, while younger brother Bobby (Logan Lerman) is an asthmatic, idealistic geek.

Their mother, a college professor played by Mr. Schlamme’s wife, Christine Lahti, smokes pot and makes such pronouncements as: “The majority of television caters to the majority of Americans and is, as a result, garbage.”

What the boys don’t know — but viewers will — is that the two will grow up to head a powerful political dynasty in the middle of the 21st century.

As the story unfolds in a series of flashbacks, we learn that there has been a McCallister in the White House by 2049 — ah, but which one? Bobby? Jack? Or both?

We learn, too, that one McCallister dies.

“Jack & Bobby’s” characters are compelling (especially Miss Lahti at her self-absorbed best), and its tantalizing peeks into the future promise to provoke continuing curiosity about the brothers.

Compiled by Christian Toto, Thomas Walter and R. Denise Yourse from staff and wire reports.

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