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One version of the fall season's winners and losers

The Nielsen ratings for the new fall season shows are still shaking out (though in three cases -- Nashville, Online Nation and Viva Laughlin, the operative words is "out"). But E! Online gossip columnist Kristin polled her readers to see what they'd like to save and what they'd like to sink.

Gossipgirl The good news for her readers is that four of their top five -- ABC's Pushing Daisies and Samantha Who?, The CW's Gossip Girl and NBC's Chuck -- have already gotten orders for additional episodes from their networks. The fifth, ABC's Big Shots, is looking a little shaky.

At the other end of the scale, it's a mirror-image story -- four of the least-favored shows (CBS' Viva Laughlin and Kid Nation, ABC's Cavemen and Fox's K-Ville) have either been canceled or are in serious trouble. The fifth, CBS' Cane, has gotten an order for additional episodes. Interesting that three of the five belong to CBS; television's top-rated network had the weakest fall development.


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Jake Malone


What it’s about: Based on a BBC series called Blackpool, Viva Laughlin is about a guy who opens a brand new casino in a smaller city in Nevada. Did I mention that this is a musical?

What’s good: Oh sweet Lord, how I love this show. If you’d told me that CBS was going to put on an Americanized remake of an interesting but not great Brit-drama and that the characters would spontaneously start singing, I wouldn’ve told you that sounded like certain disaster. To have it turn out to be the best network show of the season (or at least my personal favorite – by a very wide margin – is damn near miraculous.

It’s important to note for the skeptical (though this might not allay any reservations) that the songs are not original compositions, but pop tunes spanning the last 40 or 50 years. “Viva Las Vegas” and Blondie’s “One Way or Another” are some notable ones. The characters don’t lip synch or merely sing…they sing along with the original track, so you can hear both at once…an interesting and confident stylistic choice.

Cast is also great. Lloyd Owen, a british actor with a long career behind him plays the lead, and he’s got just the right amount of smarmy confidence and, when the story calls for it, abject fear. And, somehow, they got Hugh Jackman (Wolverine from Oklahoma!) to play the bad guy! Melanie Griffith makes an appearance.

Viva Laughlin is totally ridiculous and extremely fun to watch. It reminded me a lot of the early seasons of Nip/Tuck, only without the mean-streak and pretentious aspirations. Oh, and with singing.

What’s not so good: Hell, I don’t know. I just really, really love this show.

Will it be a hit? Will see what CBS does ???
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You decide if you like Viva Laughlin:

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New Clip on Viva Laughlin:

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Click here: Hugh Jackman in a whirl from 'Australia' to 'Laughlin' - USATODAY.com

Hugh Jackman in a whirl from 'Australia' to 'Laughlin'
Updated 11h 40m ago | Comment | Recommend3 E-mail | Save | Print | Reprints & Permissions |

Enlarge CBS

Casino king: Executive producer Hugh Jackman plays mogul Nicky Fontana in at least four episodes of Viva Laughlin.

By Bill Keveney, USA TODAY

Hugh Jackman's new TV project is an intercontinental effort.
While filming Australia in Australia, the movie star has been as involved as he can be as an executive producer of CBS' Viva Laughlin, a mystery drama mixed with music, based on the English series Viva Blackpool.

"I have a mountain high of DVDs of dailies. I watch every (one) that comes," says Jackman, 39, speaking by phone from Australia.

With producing partner John Palermo, he helped adapt Blackpool and has taken part in casting, story development and other duties, often via phone and e-mail. He will appear in Thursday's premiere (10 ET/PT, before moving to Sunday, 8 p.m. ET/PT) and at least three more episodes.

Jackman plays Nicky Fontana, a villainous casino mogul and "mortal enemy" of Ripley Holden (Lloyd Owen), a blend of family man and rogue who wants to open a casino in Laughlin, Nev.

FIND MORE STORIES IN: CBS | Australia | Broadway | Nicole Kidman | Hugh Jackman | X-Men | Laughlin | Blackpool
Ripley, facing the demands of his wife (Mädchen Amick) and two teens, must battle Nicky and his right-hand man (DB Woodside) and fend off a murder investigation. Ripley is "a bit of a Barnum character but he also … is somewhat of a Tony Soprano," Jackman says.

The native Australian, who won a Tony for the Broadway musical The Boy From Oz, makes a dramatic entry, landing on a roof via helicopter and strutting through a casino singing The Rolling Stones' Sympathy for the Devil.

Singing makes Laughlin stand out from other shows, but Jackman, echoing the CBS line, says it's not a musical. "I'm even nervous to say it's a musical drama. It sets up so many judgments. Immediately, a lot of people go, 'Ugh, musical? I'm not into musicals.' It's a drama. I think the musical element is going to be something that is delicious to people, but the show will live or die by the drama."

He rejects references to the series Cop Rock, a legendary 1990 failure that featured singing, and prefers to point to the success of Chicago, Moulin Rouge and Hairspray. Because Laughlin features pop hits, he believes viewers will develop a comfort level.

Growing up, Jackman liked musicals, "but I wouldn't say I was obsessed with them." He participated while attending a boys' school because it was a chance to meet girls. He was just out of drama school looking for a job when he got a role in a musical. Today, if he feels passion for a musical, he gets involved.

With his musical experience, Jackman says he has tried to give support and suggestions to the cast, which includes Melanie Griffith, Eric Winter, P.J. Byrne, Ellen Woglom and Carter Jenkins. Some are new to the form, but Owen, Jackman says, is a natural. "He's got a phenomenal voice. He's kind of got a Richard Burton quality."

While working on Australia, Jackman is getting musical advice from the film's director, Baz Luhrmann, who also wrote and directed Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge. "Baz has been very helpful. He reinvented the art form."

In Australia, a drama set in the northern part of the country on the cusp of World War II, Jackman's ranch worker and Kidman's English aristocrat are on a cattle drive when they experience the bombing of Darwin, Australia, by Japanese forces. He says it's bigger than any other film shot in Australia.

"It's probably the role of a lifetime for me, this feast of a movie. It's Gone With the Wind and Out of Africa and The African Queen for me," he says.

It also allows Jackman the comforts of home, where he lives with his wife and two children. He will be in Australia and New Zealand for the filming of Wolverine, in which he reprises his role from the X-Men movies. In the meantime, moviegoers will be able to see him in The Tourist, which may have a new title when it hits screens in 2008.

His commitment to musical entertainment will continue with Carousel, a film remake of the Broadway musical and movie that he has in development.

He says there will be an audience for that, just as he does for Laughlin.

"When it's done right, it works," he says. Laughlin "is a show that will take people by surprise."

I believe CBS Failed in a few ways on the Viva,

Not only is it a shame it is a waste of money. They say everything happens for a reason so we must all be positive in our thoughts. But, I am really upset for the Viva.....I was really excited about the show. I watch a lot of tv shows and I have to tell you. I loved the show. It was energenic, it made you feel good, it was exciting and it had you guessing what would happen next. And it just really pissed me off to see it is being replaced by a reality show called the great american race.

This show should have been given a chance and it would have caught on. Those 8.5 million viewers would have grown if given an opportunity. Based upon two straight airings against Major league playoff race, especially game 7.

I feel like CBS did not do it's job by promoting this show. I feel there should have been a lot of buzz on the entertainment shows preparring viewers for the shows unique style.

You are correct about one thing. WHAT A SHAME! I am now going to write cbs a shitty piece of mail! So much so that they will wish they were Buddy Baxter! As the writers killed off Buddy, CBS Killed Viva!!!!!!!!!
CBS went for it half way!!!

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