There was a time, in a more analog era, when the phrase "I laughed, I cried" was considered the highest of praise (especially if the work in question also happened to be better than Cats). But in an increasingly subdivided media landscape, one in which niche narrowcasting is the order of the day, networks are increasingly trying to make you do either one or the other. Late yesterday, news broke that FX was considering undergoing the television equivalent of a schizophrenic break and splitting itself into two distinct networks, each targeting a different sentiment. One, FX prime (or FX Classic, or Locutus of Borg), would continue to broadcast its signature envelope-pushing (and tongue-swallowing) dramas like Sons of Anarchy and Justified. The other, a new, comedy-and-youth-focused channel, potentially ready to launch this fall, would rather unimaginatively be called FXX. (I assume FX2 was taken out of consideration because Brian Dennhey's quote was too high.) FXX would be built around FX's existing stash box of successful, lowbrow (and lower budget) sitcoms like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The League, as well as the outrageous backlog of Hollywood movies the network has been gobbling up over the past two years like Garfield let loose at a lasagna factory.
You sent in your questions to grantlandTVmailbag@gmail.com. And now Andy Greenwald will answer them. It's TV mailbag time!
Who's your Mount Rushmore of bad characters from good shows? Current and past shows. — Shane M., Philadelphia
I was so anxious about my very first mailbag question that I spent three days misreading it. I thought Shane was interested in the challenging reverse: good characters stuck on bad shows. So I promptly wasted multiple hours — and numerous Gchat windows — making halfhearted cases for Lucy Punch as BJ on the otherwise sucky Ben and Kate or Zak Orth as a stumbling non-swordsman on the ridiculous Revolution. From the wreckage of the recently canceled, I considered making halfhearted cases for Kyle MacLachlan as Donovan Stark, the merry 1-percenter on Made in Jersey, or Aja Naomi King as the deliciously bitchy Cassandra Kopelson on Emily Owens M.D. — but then I realized no one would know what I was talking about. (Nor would they care.)
A nightmarish scenario unfolded in Los Feliz this week, as actor Johnny Lewis allegedly murdered his 81-year-old landlady Catherine Chabot David by strangling her, and then jumped or fell to his own death off a roof. Lewis was a 28-year-old actor who worked regularly in television for years, with roles on Sons of Anarchy, American Dreams, and The O.C. He was written off Sons of Anarchy after asking Kurt Sutter to kill his character, Kip "Half-Sack" Epps. Sutter obliged, although Michael Pitt and Terence Winter style "creative differences" are also cited as a reason for Lewis's stepping down from SAMCRO after two seasons.
Lewis dated Katy Perry for a year in 2005, and remained friends with her BFF, Raising Hope's Shannon Woodward. Perry's wistful hit from last fall "The One That Got Away" is reportedly about Lewis, with a lyric about him being her "Johnny Cash." Woodward tweeted about the painful situation: "Johnny Lewis was one of my best friends. He was very, very ill. His actions were a despicable result of that. It was not who he was." (She later deleted the message.) It is rumored that Lewis suffered from extreme mental illness, and whispered that he may have had serious drug problems as well. He had been in and out of rehabilitation clinics and jail in recent months.
Johnny Lewis, best known for his role as Halfsack on Sons of Anarchy, died yesterday. It gets worse. According to TMZ, "Lewis was found in a driveway Wednesday morning in the Los Feliz neighborhood — and the elderly woman who owned the home [and rented a room to Lewis] was found dead inside ... the victim of a homicide. Investigators say they believe Lewis beat the woman to death ... According to multiple reports, neighbors heard the 81-year-old woman screaming ... and then saw a young man outside her home attack 2 other people with a piece of wood ... before he climbed onto the roof and fell to his death." Furthermore, "cops believe Johnny was on drugs — either PCP or meth" and the men he fought with say "Johnny showed 'super-human strength' and was 'phenomenally strong.'"