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Quick Takes

April 05, 2011
  • Jon Hall in "Mad Men."
Jon Hall in "Mad Men." (AMC, AMC )

New cable series score

On a night crowded with cable premieres, "The Kennedys" set a record for the previously little-known ReelzChannel. Sunday's premiere of the sprawling eight-hour epic about the American political dynasty, starring Greg Kinnear, Katie Holmes and Tom Wilkinson, delivered 1.9 million total viewers in its original airing plus an encore immediately afterward, according to the Nielsen Co.

Meanwhile, AMC seems to have gotten the hang of this original-series thing. On Sunday, the cable network premiered its crime drama "The Killing" to critical acclaim and its second-best series opener ratings ever. "The Killing" averaged 2.7 million total viewers for its two-hour premiere, according to the Nielsen Co. Those are AMC's best series premiere ratings since the start of the zombie series "The Walking Dead" last year.

And finally, "The Borgias" delivered solid ratings Sunday as well for Showtime, which saw better numbers than it did for the opening of "The Tudors" a few years back. The premiere of the series about the famously treacherous Italian family — with Jeremy Irons as Rodrigo Borgia, the Renaissance baron who became a pope — delivered 1.1 million total viewers, according to the Nielsen Co.

—Scott Collins

SCI-Arc brings Mayne on board

Thom Mayne, the Pritzker Prize-winning architect who heads the Santa Monica firm Morphosis Architects, is joining the board of trustees of the Southern California Institute of Architecture in downtown Los Angeles. The school said Mayne was elected by the board at its quarterly meeting last week.

Mayne was one of a handful of faculty members, along with about 40 students, who abruptly left Cal Poly Pomona in 1972 to create SCI-Arc. The rift was because of differences between the dean at Cal Poly at the time and Ray Kappe, who headed the school's architecture department.

A founder of Morphosis, Mayne has overseen a number of famous buildings. Some of the firm's notable creations include the Caltrans building in downtown L.A., the new academic building at Cooper Union in New York and the Cahill Center at Caltech in Pasadena.

—David Ng

Sci-fi film next for the Smiths

Will Smith and his talented spawn Jaden Smith are in pursuit of another big-screen collaboration — this time with filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan.

In the film, set a thousand years in the future, the Smiths will play an estranged father and son navigating a desolate planet Earth after a spacecraft crash. Jaden's mom and Will's wife, Jada Pinkett, will serve as a producer.

Will and Jaden first appeared together in the 2006 drama "The Pursuit of Happyness." At 12, Jaden is a breakout star in his own right, with 2010's "The Karate Kid" under his belt. Jaden's little sister, Willow, became a musical sensation last year with her hit "Whip My Hair."

—Matt Donnelly

Conservancy lauds 'Mad Men'

The Los Angeles Conservancy's annual Preservation Awards will be given this year to the Natural History Museum of L.A. County, the Emmy-winning AMC drama series "Mad Men" and the city's Community Redevelopment Agency, among other recipients.

The award is given to organizations and individuals that have contributed to the historic preservation of architecture around Southern California.

Now in their 30th year, the awards will be handed out May 12.

The award for "Mad Men" may seem slightly strange because, though the series shoots in L.A., the action is set in New York. In its citation, the L.A. Conservancy noted that the series "is produced in Los Angeles and has used local midcentury sites as filming locations." The group also noted that the show's creator, Matthew Weiner, has supported preservation efforts.

The Natural History Museum is being honored for the seismic retrofit of the original 1913 building. The seismic retrofit, which was completed in 2009, is part of a larger, $135-million upgrade of its campus.

—David Ng

'Hunger Games' leads are cast

"The Hunger Games" has nabbed its boys. Lionsgate announced Monday that "The Kids Are All Right" star Josh Hutcherson will play opposite Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss as her fellow competitor Peeta Mellark, and teen heartthrob Liam Hemsworth ("The Last Song") will take the role of childhood friend/love interest Gale Hawthorne.

The announcement completes the much-anticipated lead trio in the adaptation of Suzanne Collins' bestselling series "The Hunger Games."

As the film, to be directed by Gary Ross ("Seabiscuit"), has received a slew of comparisons to the "Twilight" franchise, the big question is whether these relative unknowns are on the same path to mega-stardom that engulfed Kristen Stewart, Rob Pattinson and Taylor Lautner when "Twilight" opened.

—Nicole Sperling

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