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Renita Jablonski: Millions of people made time last night to sit down and watch the series finale of NBC's ER. Variety editor Stuart Levine was among the them. Stu, you've been covering the industry throughout the show's 15-season run. I'm wondering what you'd say is the biggest change in television that you've seen over that time?


Stuart Levine: The biggest change in television? That's a good question. Well, certainly the biggest change is the distribution model. I mean, now, you know, you can watch shows on the Internet, you can watch shoes on your iPod, there's TiVo, which you know you could watch a show in 20 minutes rather than a half hour. And that's changed the economic model. Obviously the advertisers are not happy about that. And broadcasters are not happy because they're not getting the advertising dollars. So that's changed. But as far as the quality goes, I think shows have just overall gotten better. TV gets a bad wrap that it's like the great wasteland, but shows like, you know, Lost, and The Wire, and Mad Men, and you know, The Sopranos, and comedies like 30 Rock.

Jablonski: I, myself, am going through some Wire withdrawal now after wrapping up the DVDs.

Levine: Yeah, The Wire to me is the best -- I would say is the best drama in the history of television.

Jablonski: You know, and thinking of The Wire -- don't want to ruin it for anyone who is maybe still in the process of watching -- but the newspaper industry was, interestingly enough, the center of the last season. And there's a new movie that actually takes the newspaper woes and makes that the story.

Levine: Right. It's a film called "State of Play" and it's a really good story with Russell Crowe, Rachel McAdams and Ben Affleck. Basically it's the story -- it takes place in Washington. Affleck is a congressman who has an affair, and it kind of looks at the way this fictional newspaper in Washington handles the case. It's interesting the way they look at it -- they look at the old newspaper model with Russell Crowe as kind of the beaten down journalist, you know, he's been doing this for 20 years, getting tons of sources. And Rachel McAdams, who's a blogger for the newspaper, and kind of how their paths meet. And Helen Mirren's stuck in the middle, she's the editor of the paper. She's pushing kind of these two engines together, the blogging side, the Internet side, and the old-school journalism together. And she has to put a paper together that's going to, not only going to get readers, but is going to sell a lot of papers and be right.

Jablonski: Alright. So I'll put "State of Play" on my to-watch list. Anything else coming up?

Levine: There's a little, small baseball movie, which I really like called "Sugar." It's about a player from the Dominican Republic who gets drafted by the major leagues and he comes up and he tries to make a career out of it. A really small, really good baseball movie, so look for that in your theaters called "Sugar."

Jablonski: Variety's Stuart Levine. Thanks so much.

Levine: Thank you.

Jablonski: "Sugar" opens today in L.A. and New York, nationwide on the 24th. "State of Play" hits theaters on the 17th.

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