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HELL, MICHIGAN - Sometimes even a deal with the devil isn’t a guarantee of network renewal. There was hope that Reaper would gain a third season. The series about Sam Oliver (Bret Harrison) forced by the devil (Ray Wise) to be a bounty hunter of demons had grown a loyal following. However Sam’s biggest evil spirit lurked in an office at the CW.

To celebrate the release of Reaper: Season Two, the Party Favors hotline received calls from Bret Harrison and Tyler Labine, who played Sock, Sam’s co-worker. Until that day Tyler called, there were rumors that the show might get picked up or even go to first run syndication. However things weren’t sounding good before the phone rang.

My first question to Tyler Labine was confirmation that the sets for Reaper had been struck.

“I don’t know if they’re officially torn them down. But we’re officially finito,” Tyler confirmed.

Did having a show in limbo for so long affect his career as an actor?

“It didn’t. Basically they committed suicide with our show by putting on us on against American Idol. We knew that things weren’t going well. Our creators had signed a new deal with Fox. The writing was on the wall that the show was pretty much done. I started shopping around for movies. A little TV show called Sons of Tucson over at Fox fell into my lap. They took a second position contract on me. I went and shot a new pilot that’s been picked up so we start production in September,” he jubilantly reported.

Is Sons of Tucson a spin-off of Sons of Anarchy?

“Nothing to do with Sons of Anarchy. It’s totally different. It’s a comedy. It’s going on Sunday nights between The Simpsons and Family Guy.

Does this mean Tyler will be sucking down Pawtucket Petes with Peter Griffin?

“I wish,” Tyler said. “I met Seth McFarlane at the up fronts. There was talk of me doing a guest star voice on Cleveland, the new Family Guy spin-off.”

What does he think of both seasons of Reaper being on DVD?

“It’s cool,” he said. “I’ve done shows that don’t get blessed with a DVD release. All that work and see you never again. It’s nice to know our show and characters will be immortalized on DVD. People can and should go out and buy them. They can get two seasons of a show that I really, really loved doing and cared about deeply. I’m super stoked that we got them all out on DVD.”

There’s an internet rumor that Reaper will continue as a comic book. Any truth to it?

“You’re not wrong,” Tyler confirmed. “The comic book is happening. People have been hinting that we should be able to get a two hour movie finale. You can never guess what’s going to happen there.”

The idea of a two hour movie based on the series isn’t that far fetched seeing how it was recently done for the cult hit Dead Like Me. Would Tyler consider reading the forthcoming graphic novels for a book on tape?

“Probably not,” he said. “I’m not adept enough at that kind of stuff. I’d rather people use their imagination than let me read it.”

Tyler’s been acting in high profile projects since 1991 in everything from Road to Avonlea, The X-Files and Dark Angel. But I had to ask about his outrageous role of Croker in Evil Alien Conquerors with North Carolina School of the Arts graduates Diedrich Bader (Office Space) and Chris Parnell (Hot Rod)

“Diedrich and Chris were great,” Tyler said. “It was really fun. But playing a guy who thinks he’s a 100 foot giant is physically taxing. I lost my voice for four months after shooting that movie. Ended up seeing a vocal pathologist. I may have to get vocal surgery. It was crazy, but it was so much fun. I loved working on it. That’s a once in a lifetime character if I’ve ever seen one. I thought the music turned out pretty funny.”

Another odd title on his filmography is Canadian Zombie. What Canuck has the tastiest brains in all of the Great White North?

“If I was a zombie, I would eat Gordon Campbell brains,” he speculated. “He’s our premier in British Columbia. He’s got probably got a tasty, mushy brain.

Was this film about the undead who wanted more than Tim Horton’s donuts?

Canadian Zombie was a short film I shot for a friend. He basically went back to the old Night of the Living Dead making a political statement through a zombie film. It was more of a statement about zombies at the voting booths. We don’t get out there and vote enough as a country. We just had our election in British Columbia and 40 percent came out to vote. It’s staggeringly awful. The voters were so complacent at the polls because the Canucks were actually in the playoffs. People weren’t going out. They were staying at home drinking beer and watching hockey.”

In his career, Tyler has worked with some of the major creepy actors of our day including James Spader (Boston Public), Terrance Stamp (My Boss’s Daughter) and Ray Wise (Reaper). Which of these men would he describe as the most creepy to face on the set?

“Iconically creepy would definitely be Ray Wise… Leland Palmer,” Tyler declared. “The funny thing is the contrast. He’s so nice in everyday life. He’s a real sweetheart of a man. He’s a real joker. And then you just watch him turn on that creep. And you’re like, ‘Oh my god.’ He’s so good at it. He played one of my favorite villains of all time - Leland Palmer. I’ll definitely have to put my stamp on Ray.”

After his numerous appearances on Boston Legal playing Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Winant, could he hold his own in the courtroom of Judge Judy?

“Hell no,” he said. “I would be eating my foot and I’d be still be hungry eating my other foot. Pretending to know what I’m talking about is one thing, but I’d be terrible defending myself. Plus I’d probably be guilty.”

Recently Tyler finished A Good Old Fashioned Orgy with Don Johnson (Miami Vice. Since he’d also worked with William Shatner on Boston Public, Tyler would be an authority in knowing who would win in a Fight Club beatdown: The Shatner or Don Johnson.

“I got to go with D.J. on that one,” he declared. “I gotta say that Don was looking fit. Shatner, not that he’s completely falling apart, but I think Don Johnson would have the cutting edge there.”

Bret Harrison called up a few days later. He’s been a primetime fixture since 2001 when he appeared as Brad on Grounded For Life followed by Fox’s The Loop. Reaper was his second series as the lead. The news of the show’s cancellation had settled. I was compelled to ask him how much does he hate American Idol?

“I don’t watch American Idol. I don’t despise it,” Bret said. “Am I supposed to despise it?”

He’s reminded that when Reaper returned for its 13 episode second season, CW put it right up against the ratings juggernaut.

“Right. Right. I stopped paying attention. That’s what I do,” he explained. “That’s what you learn to do when you’re on a show that’s on the bubble and you’re trying to break through. You pay to attention to that stuff too much and you start to go crazy.”

The act of being sacrificed in such a horrible time slot brings out the conspiracy theory that the CW didn’t want Reaper to have a sophomore bounce.

“I think there’s probably somebody behind a big door saying, ‘We’re going to kill the show.’ It’s predestined. I hate to say that,” Bret admitted.

However Bret likes the fact that both seasons of Reaper will be available on DVD. Those who were too mesmerized by Adam Lambert can have a chance to catch what they missed over the last few months. Bret enjoys buying season sets and binge viewing.

“The few shows that I’ve gotten into I don’t watch on TV. I buy the DVDs and end up watching them like Dexter in a week,” Bret said. He used this same method to watch HBO’s The Wire.

What excites the star of Reaper about his upcoming boxset?

“I’m really curious about seeing the gag reel,” he said.

Does Bret ever figure out creative ways to blow take in order to get into the gag reel?

“I learned a long time ago that you do not do that because they use those takes sometimes,” he warned. “The gag reel is very authentic.”

After two seasons of playing a guy working at a mega-hardware store, how does Bret get treated when he strolls into a Home Depot? “I haven’t needed to visit the Home Depot in past couple months,” Bret said. “I feel like it could work in my favor. I think I could get help now. I’ve never had a good experience at Home Depot.”

How did he react when he was told that Ray Wise would be his nemesis?

“I didn’t know who he was. They said, ‘You got to check this guy out. He’s done sixty something films.’ I googled and saw a picture of him. I was like, “Oh my God, they hit gold. That’s the guy. The guy is the cool Frank Sinatra Devil guy. He’s so good.”

His desire to watch TV shows on DVD came into play once more. “I ended up buying the first season of Twin Peaks and got into that,” he said.

Over the course of the 21st century, Bret has been a fixture on network TV with three series. But none of them had anything close to a conventional season. The first season of Reaper was interrupted by the writer’s strike. Does he dream of a time he hooks up with a show that doesn’t have scheduling hiccups?

“That would be nice. That’s the dream of getting on a show that’s a huge hit. Even though the few shows I’ve done have had hiccups, I feel like they’ve all been good shows. I’d rather be on a show that’s having problems with the network and always on the bubble. There’s a core audience out there that really appreciates them.”

When it didn’t look like there would be a third season, did Bret snag a couple souvenirs from the set? “I took some bar glasses,” Bret said. He also snagged the remote control car that was used as a vessel.

Many people recognize Bret as the whipped neighbor on Grounded For Life. Who was more demanding: The Devil or Lily on Grounded For Life?

“I would say Lily,” Bret asserted.

Reaper: Season Two is available at your favorite DVD stores. Keep an eye out at your local comic book shop for the continuing adventures of Sam Oliver and the Devil.

WHAT SHE REALLY IS

Enough with the media comparing Megan Fox with Angelina Jolie. If anything, Fox is the second coming of Caroline Munro. Is there that much of a difference between Fox’s performance in Transformers and Munro in the epic Golden Voyage of Sinbad? If they ever remake that Ray Harryhausen flick, they ought to tattoo eyeballs on Fox’s palms.

SEE YOU IN THE FALL

The hottest new cable show will be Cream of Soup being executive produced by me.

Each week you’ll be able to tune into Cream of Soup to see the best clips of Comcast’s 20 Soup shows. What’s better than our host cracking jokes about clips from the numerous clipshows such as E!’s The Soup with Joel McHale, Versus’ Sports Soup with Matt Iseman, G4’s Web Soup with Chris Hardwick, Style’s The Dish with Danielle Fishel and RFD’s Caboose Soup with Boxcar Willie Jr. Plus we’ll be having the laughlights from VH1’s Best Week Ever and Comedy Central’s Tosh.0 There’s not enough time in the weekend to watch all those comic commentary clipshows. Cream of Soup will give you the highlights and the outright bombs so you’ll be the cool guy at the watercooler on Monday morning. We can’t announce the name of our host, but he was nominated for a Cable Ace Award, held the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Belt and saved the Pope’s life.

NO JUSTICE FOR JUDGES

I’m furious that once more a president has discriminated against our greatest judicial minds when it comes time to appoint a Supreme Court Justice. Did you notice whose names didn’t even come close to be discussed as replacements for Justice Souter? Not one short listed judges had their own TV show. Where’s the justice?

This ugliness goes back to when Ronald Reagan scoffed off The People’s Court’s Judge Wapner. You’d expect the end of this stigma to be part of the change we need.

What disqualifies Judge Greg Mathis from sharing the shower room with Chief Justice Roberts? He’s got a biography that gets told to America every day. He testifies, “Troubled kids? I was one. Gangs? Jail? I was there. Second chances? I got one. I went to law school, became a lawyer, and then a judge. Now I get to give second chances. It’s time for hard decisions and tough love. Justice that makes a difference; that’s what I’m about!” Where is his chance?

The most popular judge in America is Judge Judy. America loves her verdicts. She’s not a game player. How can you not be moved to hear a judge proclaim, “Lawyers are always asking me if I will cut some slack for their clients. My standard answer is this is not Let’s Make A Deal.” Why didn’t she get a presidential interview at Camp David?

If the president wanted a Latina woman on the bench, why not short list Marilyn Milian from The People’s Court? She’s the first Hispanic TV justice. Why not let her keep trailblazing to Washington D.C.? What makes her less of a judge than a court of appeals sitter? She might have a lot of explaining before the senate about knowing Harvey Levin. But she’s a pro before the cameras. She can charm the hardest neo-con into thinking she’s not going to ruin the Constitution.

When the next justice decides it’s time to step down, this administration must seriously consider picking a justice who has figured out a way to hear cases in the private sector. The president wanted to hire a TV doctor (CNN’s Sanjay Gupta) to be the Surgeon General. Why are legal minds ineligible for the top job because they wear a little make up during hearings?

BLAH GAME

Who thought it was a swell idea to make a movie adaptation of Moneyball with a $50 million budget? Are audiences ready to see Brad Pitt doing payroll math and breaking down walks to hits ratios? The pitch must have sounded been, ‘It’s like A Beautiful Mind with guys scratching themselves.’ Do we really crave Pitt playing Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane? Even with Stephen Soderbergh directing it sounds like The Horrible Truth About H.R. Block. Thankfully some young executive realized he might be eating Top Ramen for the next decade and red lit the production.

The only film about mathletes that made money was Mean Girls.

Soderbergh should have just adapted the book as a documentary for ESPN’s new major filmmaker program. Speaking of which, Spike Lee’s Kobe Doin’ Work was created with 30 cameras and one pair of kneepads. Kobe reminded me why I despise him so much from only 3 minutes of his self-fellatio narration on himself. This isn’t a tenth as good as Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait that Spike ripped off for this Hoover sponsored suck up. Thirty cameras watching Kobe? As if he’s not on camera for the entire game when a Lakers game is televised. I’d rather see 30 cameras following the 12th man on a team. What does he at the end of the bench? How does he warm up knowing that will be the only time he touches the hardwood for the night? Does he really shower after the game? Why couldn’t Spike tell us this man’s story?

ESPN did red light my special sports film which was going to be a 60 minute montage of fans at Fenway shouting “A Rod, You Suck!!!!” between highlights of him striking out.

BLU-RAY HEAVEN

The Jonas Brothers The 3D Concert Experience Deluxe Extended Movie Blu-ray Combo Pack is the winner of the quick gift to make you look like a cool uncle award. Inside the blue box is the concert film on Blu-ray, DVD and a disc with the digital copy. No matter what format the kid has connected to her bedroom TV, she ought to be able to watch the sibling trio. Only the Blu-ray disc contains the film in 3D. They include 4 sets of glasses with the red/blue lenses so you won’t hear the third kid screaming that she can’t see Nick Jonas unloading foam in her face. The music of the Jonas Brothers is pure bubble gum. Nick, Joe and Kevin appear happy while playing their hits including “That’s The Way We Roll” and “Burnin’ Up.” The last song has enough stage pyro to satisfy a wrestling fan. There’s a twisted moment where the three brothers shoot foam at the screaming teen girls sitting close to the stage. There are guest stars at the concert with Demi Lovato and Taylor Swift popping up for a song each. Snippets of the life of the Jonas Brothers including a Time Square mob scene when they showed up to buy their record at midnight. They’re not even autographing stuff for the fans. They race in the record store, buy the CDs and run back to their limo. Thousands packed the street like it was New Year’s Eve. Audrey, a friend’s 8 year old daughter, was glued to the set for the entire 89 minutes. The 3D does a fine job of separating the brothers during their solos. The bonus features include two more songs and a more footage of the brothers off the stage.

Mel Brook’s Spaceballs - Blu-ray brings the 1080p love to the sci-fi spoof of Star Wars. Decades ago before the Scary Movie series, Mel Brooks was the source of mocking movie genres. He struck gold with Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. It seemed only natural that in 1987 he poked fun at George Lucas’s epic with his Borscht Belt humor. Daphne Zuniga is a spoiled Druish princess that doesn’t want to marry Prince Valium (Jim J. Bullock). During her bolt with a robotic Joan Rivers, she finds herself also running from Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis). He’s like Darth Vader except he has a mega-huge helmet. Her only hope is Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and his co-pilot Barf (John Candy). Mel Brooks plays both the evil president and the mystical Yogurt (a Yoda knock-off). Darth Helmet’s ultimate goal is to hold the princess hostage so they can steal all the air off her planet with a unique version of the Death Star. My favorite moment involves the one man sound effect machine Michael Winslow as the radar technician. They should have had him make all the space noises. What funny is the scene where Brooks has Starr and Barf eating at an intergalactic greasy spoon diner. Years later Lucas would use this location in Attack of the Clones. Who influenced whom? The high def transfer is crisp and detailed. Joan Rivers has never looked better on the screen. There’s a bushel basket of bonus features including a commentary track from Brooks. There’s a documentary about the film, a tribute to John Candy and the flubs. The Exhibitor Trailer with Mel Brooks reminds us what a great salesman he was before going off to recycle his films on Broadway. They include a DVD of the movie so you don’t have to chose which version to buy. Spaceballs is still funny although not as hilarious as Phantom Menace.

THE DVD SHELF

Diary of Anne Frank: 50th Anniversary Edition adapts the journal of a teenage girl trapped in an attic with family and friends to avoid being executed by the Nazis in occupied Holland. There’s plenty of tension as they Nazis constantly search the neighborhood looking for hidden Jews. The black and white images allow the stark nature of their survival to be emphasized. Anne has a sense of hope even under such dire circumstances. I’m not going to spoil the ending. Director George Stevens didn’t go Hollywood on this true story. There are seven featurettes created for this new DVD. Millie Perkins recalls her time playing Anne Frank on both the commentary track and on camera. We also get to explore George Stevens’ service in World War II. He didn’t merely watch battle action in the safety of his screening room. There’s also a Blu-ray with the bonus features.

Two Lovers might be Joaquin Phoenix’s last film role if he truly devotes himself to his rap career. He plays a guy who has suffered a breakdown that caused him to break up with his fiance and move back with his parents in Brooklyn. He’s stuck in his childhood bed. He delivers clothes for his dad’s dry cleaning. But life isn’t that bleak. He ends up getting entangled with Vinessa Shaw (Eyes Wide Shut) and Gwyneth Paltrow. But can he really enjoy his time with these women? The man has issues. Two Lovers could have easily turned into a stupid romantic comedy with Matthew McConaughey, but it doesn’t. Two Lovers stays grounded with the characters instead of jumping to the whims and expectations of an audience. After the film was over, I felt myself getting angry that Joaquin jerked out with this rapper charade.

Petticoat Junction: The Official Second Season brings the biggest star of the ’70s to the spotlight: Benji! Well his name is Higgins the Dog at this point. But he’s the super mutt who arrives at the Shady Rest Hotel at the start of the season. “Betty Jo’s Dog” wastes no time in letting the pooch dominate the show. He’s almost as imposing a figure as Arnold Ziffel on Green Acres. Petticoat Junction is about Bea Benaderet (the voice of Betty Rubble) and her three daughters running a hotel that’s between Hooterville and Pixley on the train line. The 36 episodes on Season Two have the homespun humor you find on The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres. Most of the episode have the hot daughters planning for their future. Edgar Buchanan comes up with scams to make the hotel feel busy. Several characters from Green Acres got their start here including Fred Drucker (Frank Cady) and Mr. Ziffel.

Matlock: The Third Season starts off with the reunion of Andy Griffith and Don Knotts. This time Don plays Andy’s new neighbor. In an un-Barney Fife manner, Don gets accused of killing a used car salesman. Seymour Cassel plays a rival used car dealer. There’s a chance a people thought he was an aging Goober. There’s only 20 episodes this season of homespun judicial prudence. “The Thoroughbred” brings us the magic of Don Swayze, the brother of Patrick. “The Cult” has Matlock sending Kene Holiday to infiltrate a cult in order to find out who killed their leader. No matter how tight the action seems, there’s something way too relaxing about the cases on Matlock. You’ll never drop your sweet tea in shock. What makes this enjoyable viewing is seeing Andy and Don sharing screentime. They were priceless in their chemistry.

Saving Grace: Season Two brings more of Holly Hunter to the little screen. She’s an Oklahoma City detective with a lot of issues. She’s doesn’t hold back her desires when it comes to smoking, drinking or screwing. She’s dealing with an angel from God that’s trying to clean up her wicked ways. Can she save herself? Or will everyone around her drive her nuts. There’s 14 episodes on the boxset that touch upon an impending marriage and death.

Burn Notice: Season Two is another 16 episodes from USA’s freelance spy hit. The big reason to watch is Bruce Campbell. Why isn’t he on a Bond film? Also nice to see Gabrielle Anwar pulling off a little espionage. Jeffrey Donovan looks great with his spy sunglasses. This is just a smooth and sexy series.

GIVEAWAYS

CBS DVD is being twice as nice with two giveaway for lucky readers.

CBS DVD has given us 5 copies of Petticoat Junction: The Official Second Season to give to very special Party Favors readers. In order to win, answer this question: Who owned Higgins the dog? Send your answer, name and address to mokaha@aol.com. Put “Petticoat” in the subject.
CBS DVD has also given us 5 copies of Matlock: The Third Season to give to very special Party Favors readers. In order to win, answer this question: Where did Matlock shoot its final season? Send your answer, name and address to mokaha@aol.com. Put “Matlock” in the subject.

Family, friends and Abe Simpson are not eligible to win.

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