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Archive for Saturday, September 19, 2009

‘O’Keeffe’ brings prestige to Lifetime

September 19, 2009

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This is not your mother’s Lifetime network. Or even your older sister’s. Once the place to find women-in-peril dramas and a safe bet to air repeats of “Mother May I Sleep with Danger?,” Lifetime has changed.

It grabbed “Project Runway,” Bravo’s signature series, and tonight it airs a prestige picture, “Georgia O’Keeffe” (8 p.m., Lifetime), a film that will leave some viewers wondering if they’re not watching HBO.

Joan Allen stars in the title role, the acclaimed visionary who emerged as the best-known woman painter of the 20th century, whose sensuous, detailed renderings of flowers, still-life scenes and desert landscapes evoked the female anatomy in ways that fascinated and scandalized gallery-goers.

Discovered by photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz (Jeremy Irons), O’Keeffe became a household name after Stieglitz mounted a show of nudes exclusively featuring the unknown painter. The publicity stunt worked, and soon her fame eclipsed her mentor, lover and husband.

Lavishly photographed and featuring a large cast that includes Tyne Daly as the socialite and patroness Mabel Dodge, “Georgia O’Keeffe” was directed by Bob Balaban, whose most recent made-for-TV effort was the acclaimed 2006 “Bernard and Doris,” broadcast on HBO.

• If comedies could win Emmy awards based on their titles alone, HBO would clean up for “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (8 p.m. Sunday, HBO), now entering its seventh season, and the new “Bored to Death” (8:30 p.m. Sunday, HBO).

“Curb” continues star and creator’s Larry David’s comedy-as-nightmare, a world where the tiny details of the day conspire to bedevil the most selfish, lazy and petty characters in the history of television.

The season opener explores such “sensitive” topics as how to break up with a girlfriend before her biopsy results arrive and the do’s-and-don’ts of having sex with the mentally ill.

Set in the stroller-clogged streets of some formerly Bohemian Brooklyn neighborhood, “Bored to Death” stars Jason Schwartzman (“Rushmore”) as Jonathan Ames, a sad-sack would-be second novelist freshly dumped by his girlfriend because he drinks too much and smokes too much pot with his magazine editor and mentor, George (Ted Danson).

On a whim, Ames lists himself as a private detective on an Internet site, and he’s quickly engaged by just enough clients to provide “Bored” with a case-a-week plot structure.

Jonathan also hangs out with Ray (Zach Galifianakis, “The Hangover”), a similarly arrested comic-book artist who looks very much like John Goodman under his full beard.

“Bored” comes to life when Danson’s character enters the picture, dispensing advice and speaking very much like a character out of a novel, perhaps the novel that Jonathan is yet to write.

There is a lot happening on “Bored” — detective work, guest star appearances, overlapping girlfriend problems and random shenanigans with George and Ray. But by the end of each episode, “Bored” equals less than the sum of its parts.

Sunday’s highlights

• Neil Patrick Harris hosts the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards (7 p.m., CBS).

• Sterling Cooper gets a surprise visitor on “Mad Men” (9 p.m., AMC).

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