'TV Set': Reality Check

Friday, April 20, 2007

If a movie set is the most boring place on Earth -- lights, cameras, only sporadic action -- then a prime-time series production must hold a close second. Similarly, as the mild-mannered but sharp-eyed satire "The TV Set" demonstrates, smaller budgets don't mean smaller egos or fewer power plays.

David Duchovny (see In Focus on Page 33) plays a career television writer named Mike who finally gets the chance to bring a personal project to the small screen: "The Wexler Chronicles," a semi-autobiographical dramedy about a guy returning home after his brother's suicide. "A little 'Northern Exposure,' a little 'Ed,' " one network executive opines.

"The TV Set" proceeds to dissect with excruciating precision just how good ideas get hijacked by the System, embodied by the lethally funny Sigourney Weaver as a venal network suit who has a hit show called "Slut Wars."

"The TV Set," written and directed by Jake Kasdan ("Zero Effect"), often possesses the gimlet-eyed wit of "The Player" or the mock docs of Christopher Guest. From script-pitching soccer moms to the Orwellian rhetoric of agents and managers, "The TV Set" presents for our consideration the myriad concessions, compromises and cop-outs that get the Hollywood types addicted to drugs and viewers addicted to dreck.

-- Ann Hornaday

The TV Set R, 87 minutes Contains profanity. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company