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INDIE HOUSE: FUMBLING THRU, CHOOSING FATE, BIG CITY, IN BETWEEN MEN, BROKEN AT LOVE, TAMI, EMPIRE, FAILING UPWARDS, NICE GUY

STAR POWER:  Hillary, Bobbie and Michele are FUMBLING
Gossip, secrets, leaks; kudos, picks, congrats - in the Indie Soap Web Series (Indies) world, this is where they live. Listen up: Kevin's Indie House.

This is the best part of my job.

Some series I cover because they're the Big Thing Right Now. Some, because they provide solid "teaching moments" for others in the industry. Some, I would even admit, I mention because I'm in love with the showrunner.

But the best is that rare occasion when I get to boost an Indie I would watch obsessively on my own, even if I were an accountant, or a cat groomer, and not a web series guru. (You didn't know I was a web series guru, did you?) When I'm 100% honest with myself, there aren't all that many - the ones I would look forward to even if (and it's almost impossible to imagine) I didn't really like web series.

Julie A. Smith's finely-crafted, celebrity-jammed, hilarious gut-grabber, FUMBLING THRU THE PIECES, is back for season two. So far, I've watched the first episode four times. It's a home run.

- Same rockin' theme; new, gorgeous, distinctive opening visuals that are fast, fun, and memorable.
- Michele Lee's Eleanor, in an integral, meaty role that is the exact opposite of stunt casting, at one point raves (and even gyrates a bit) about a night at West Village hot spot Henrietta Hudson.
- Diane Delano is totally out of control - and yet, somehow, still believable as nosy, noisy (and hot-to-trot) neighbor Shara.
- Bobbie Eakes, cuter than ever, plays a fantastic "straight man," never an easy feat in a screwball comedy, but even more eye-catching since her character (Janice) is married to Michele's!
- Kelsey Robinson (Jesse) and Hillary B. Smith (Ellie), the sister-protagonists, double down on their chemistry something fierce, especially as they face their moms together (and by the way, I have to mention that Hillary looks gorgeous).
- The long-suffering Vince (Robert Maffia) and the momentarily sober Barb (Tara Chocol-Joyce) actually find common cause - household politics make strange bedfellows!
- At 16 minutes, this is a generous-sized season opener; yes, it whizzes by (so much happens!), but just a few moments longer and we'd have a network sitcom...

One of my favorite indicators of on-set chemistry is re-watch-ability. Over multiple viewings, I've followed each actor through every scene. I was rewarded with a density of supporting expressions, gestures, and noises that felt like Robert Altman at his best: energy, complexity and magic.

Excellent writing and tight casting have combined to create a very auspicious start to season two. This series begs to be on HBO - and yet this is better, since we are all blessed to be able to watch FUMBLING THRU THE PIECES whenever we want, for free. View the season one recap or any of the season one episodes on YouTube, if you haven't already.  Season two, episode one stands alone as well.  And I just can't wait for the next installment.

Julie, you hot piece of work you, congratulations baby. I love it.

FINISHING LAST:  A Big Boy Indie, NSFW and proud.
WHO'S NEWS?
- New York City's new Indie CHOOSING FATE will be shooting its first trailer in early September. The cast: Briana Marin as Ellie, Dan Hendrock as Mike, (showrunner) Joshua Weigand as Jack, Matthew Kuehl as Joey, Nathan Spiteri as Darren, Matt Cullen as Andy, Patrick Smith as James, Blaine Pennington as Elliot and Zachary Spiegel as Scott.  This one has a lot of heart.  We're rooting for you, Josh.
- BIG CITY is another New York series.  For the most part, the micro-mini episodes (ranging from two to four minutes in length) star showrunner Lauren Ruff alongside actor/musician Zane Carney (DAVE'S WORLD, TOTALLY IN TUNE). As New York City apartment mates Josie and Dan, they live a low-rent SEINFELD sort of life.  Zane's music is awesome, the situations relatable but a bit bland.  Still, the production vallues are pretty good and sometimes, all a guy is looking for is a couple of pretty people doing funny stuff.
- Another detour for struggling, reluctantly gay Indie IN BETWEEN MEN.  Showrunner Quincy Morris recently announced a "new technology" that would let viewers click through the screen image.  I thought YouTube let you do that?  Regardless, seems like a needless distraction when I've been waiting so long for season two to launch.  The last epi launched well over a year ago... come back! The series has its ups and downs, but since I admit I want more of those glamour shots of NYC and, of course, lead actor Nick Matthews, let me tell you how to make this happen, Quincy:  lose the mildly offensive official synopsis, solicit fun perks from your talented and adorable cast, and mount a kickstarter campaign.  Yes, it's been done - because it works!
- Karolina Sivas (THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS) wrote me a lovely email to introduce her new Indie, BROKEN AT LOVE. Episode 2 is on the way (Thursday, August 30) but so far, so good. Production-wise, we may be singing the pilot-episode blues - same tune for the storyline, which is a bit exposition-heavy for the first half. However, the dance sequence is sweet and sincere and makes this one promising. With Rob Healy, Charlie Scheerer, Joanna Tiwald, Pamela Bowen (DAYS OF OUR LIVES), Carly Reeves (NIP/TUCK), Patrick Morgan, Amber Smith, Bobby Quinn Rice, Tony Brown and Francesco Dandekar.
- IN the most clever Indie genesis I've ever encountered, Canada's Local2 has crafted a soap opera from an existing reality/talk show.  Though it's bit rough around the edges, I'll be watching just to cheer on the clever premise. See the genre-shift play out in an encore presentation of the last episode of of TAMI on October 23 and then the premiere of WHO SHOT TAMI? on October 30.
- In case anyone out there has been slacking on their EMPIRE consumption, heads up: season four is coming to a head and the inside line is that you're going to want to be up-to-date for today's premiere of episode seven. The murder mystery that spans this the season has elevated EMPIRE, "the original Indie Soap," and I'm wicked proud of showrunners Brian Hewson and Greg Turner. Besides, Ellen Dolan's kooky homeless get-ups are worth a peak all by themselves. Also outstanding this season: new cast members Lauren B. Martin and Josh Davis.
- The season finale of RAGGED ISLE takes place underwater, and that is all I need to say. Watch it!

FAILING UP:  Employed as the unemployed.
F. U.
The premiere of out-of-work Indie FAILING UPWARDS is almost here.  With a built-in audience of the idle unemployed and an achievable focus on just four main characters, I have high hopes for this one.
Failing Upwards is a feel good comedy about Unemployment and the hilarity of finding a job...even if you have to lie to get one. The show follows a group of four unlikely friends who find themselves going through unemployment, TOGETHER!

Each of our characters, inept, in their own special way, end up surprising themselves, each other, and the audience with their ability to get the job done…WHATEVER it may be!

Many people have experienced unemployment. This is our comedic take on that experience. Please watch us Failing Upwards with one bizarre success after another…using the term “success” loosely, of course!
FAILING premieres in less than a week, on Monday, September 3, 2012 (Labor Day - cute, huh?) and stars Michelle C. Bonilla (E.R.; DR. QUINN, MEDICINE WOMAN), Matt Crabtree (GREEK, THE CONSULTANTS), Deidra Edwards (Disfigured) and Pip Lilly (BETTY WHITE'S OFF THEIR ROCKERS). Thea Gill (QUEER AS FOLK), Stephanie Erb (TRUE BLOOD) and Gerald McCullouch (CSI, BEVERLY HILLS, 90210) will guest.

GASP: NICE GUY
My pick this week is NICE GUY:
When Caleb Sullivan (Andrew Ruth) left college, he had all the talent to be a notable photographer in the New York art scene, but opted, instead, to “grow up” for his long-time girlfriend and get a desk job. Three years later, she’s left him for another guy and he’s just been fired. Now, Caleb finds himself on a path of self-destruction as he navigates from one bad decision to another.
With only one episode released publicly so far, the second has already been selected to be screened at Dailymotion USA's "Cinema Selects Event: Web's Best Creative Videos." Gritty, dark, real and dirty, NICE GUY is worth the hype. I think it's the most grown-up Indie out right now. Although - the lead character is anything but mature.

If you're familiar with last summer's CALEB & RENEE, you'll recognize most of the rest of the cast members: Andrew, Stephen Reich, Matt Wise, David Bly, Caitlin Gold, Petra Denison, Annette Naudin, Kyle Patrick Brennan, Kate Godkin and Jonathan Hinman. The second episode (of five) will premiere Sunday, September 2, 2012.

Do you have an item for Kevin's Indie House? Please email me!

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