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posted: 11/29/2013 6:00 AM

'Shawshank' director comes back to TV

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  • Frank Darabont, left, directs his cast on the set of "Mob City," premiering Wednesday, Dec. 4, on TNT.

    Frank Darabont, left, directs his cast on the set of "Mob City," premiering Wednesday, Dec. 4, on TNT.

  • Jon Bernthal ("The Walking Dead") stars as Joe Teague in "Mob City," premiering Wednesday, Dec. 4, on TNT.

    Jon Bernthal ("The Walking Dead") stars as Joe Teague in "Mob City," premiering Wednesday, Dec. 4, on TNT.

  • Video: Raccoon at dinner table

  • Video: "Mob City" trailer

  • Video: Darabont on casting Duncan


Frank Darabont, the writer/director who made his name with three big-screen Stephen King adaptations, returns to television next week, two years after being ousted as showrunner of AMC's wildly popular "The Walking Dead."

Billed as an "epic three-week event," "Mob City" premieres at 8 p.m. Wednesday on TNT with two back-to-back episodes; the remaining four will air over the following two Wednesdays. The show culls its premise from the John Buntin book, "L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City," taking us back to the City of Angels at a time when real-world mobsters Mickey Cohen (played by Jeremy Luke) and Bugsy Siegel (Edward Burns) were causing trouble.

Darabont brought fellow "Walking Dead" castoffs Jon Bernthal (troubled cop Shane Walsh) and Jeffrey DeMunn (kindly Dale Horvath) aboard a cast that boasts a big-name guest star in "Star Trek" and "Shaun of the Dead" funnyman Simon Pegg.

Darabont's resume includes a bona fide film classic in "The Shawshank Redemption," so his name brings prestige to any project -- but don't expect AMC to make nice and bring him back to "The Walking Dead." Speaking recently with Rolling Stone, Darabont said that he took time off after his clashes with AMC executives "to really get over the emotional devastation of having some truly malevolent people tear asunder a brilliant family that had gathered to create this hit for them."

Here's hoping Frank has some friends at TNT.

What I'm thankful for: Nerd Edition
Of course I'm thankful for health, family, love and friendship. But I'm also thankful for:

• The amazing documentaries on the extended Blu-ray/DVD edition of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." Just as he did with "The Lord of the Rings," director Peter Jackson has given fans of Middle-earth unparalleled access to the filmmaking process. The two "appendices" discs with "The Hobbit" contain more than nine hours of footage showing everything from Jackson's reunion with members of the "LOTR" cast to Crowded House frontman Neil Finn performing at the film's New Zealand premiere. The sense of family fostered on Jackson's productions comes through, and the result is an entertaining, educational document that is almost certainly better than "The Hobbit" itself. A must-own for film fans.

• "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," the funniest new show on TV. "SNL" veteran Andy Samberg may get top billing, but the real stars of Fox's cop comedy are erstwhile "Homicide" actor Andre Braugher and newcomer Stephanie Beatriz. Braugher uses his inherent gravitas to great deadpan effect as the show's openly gay precinct captain, but nobody gets more laughs than Beatriz. Her Det. Rosa Diaz is scary, mysterious and capable of saying unbelievably funny things. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" airs at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays on Fox, and you can catch up on Hulu.

• The YouTube video titled "Raccoon Eats Grapes at the Dinner Table."

• And finally, the new "Star Trek" pinball table, featuring the voice talents of the big-screen cast, from the geniuses at Stern Pinball in Melrose Park. You can help Capt. Kirk battle Nero and John Harrison with silver balls in your home for a few thousand bucks, or find an arcade or bar that has the table using's handy pinball map.

• Sean Stangland is a Daily Herald copy editor and tireless consumer of pop culture. You can follow him on Twitter at @SeanStanglandDH.

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