Hollywood notebook: 'Falling Skies' interview falls through

Technology is a wonderful thing -- when it works.

My plan was to interview Connor Jessup in connection with the third season opener of the TNT series "Falling Skies." The war between the last humans and the invading alien army continues. Along the way, Jessup's character has gone through some very dramatic moments.

To get the interview in time to publish in advance of the June 9 debut, I needed to talk to the Canadian actor last week. First complication: Jessup was on a backpacking trip across Europe. He would make the call during his stop in Florence.

The phone rings at the designated time and after a few seconds Jessup says hello. There's a major lag in the connection, so my response takes at least 15 seconds to get back to him. It becomes clear after 45 seconds of silence that the lag has turned into a full-scale failure.

A few minutes later, Jessup calls back. The connection starts clear, but after a question about why several months pass between the seasons of the show (because the young actors age), Jessup's answers get choppy. First, it's every fourth word that is lost. Then it's the third. After it gets to every other word, the line goes dead.

The third attempt is the worst yet. Every word Jessup says sounds like he's talking in molasses. The decision's made to quit the call and try to reschedule. That may happen, but just in case it doesn't, here's what you need to know about the third season of "Falling Skies."

In addition to Jessup, "Falling Skies" stars Noah Wyle, Moon Bloodgood, Will Patton, Drew Roy, Maxim Knight, Seychelle Gabriel and Sarah Carter. Seven months have passed since the survivors of the 2ndMass reached Charleston (in season two), which has been named capital of the New United States. The government has formed a tenuous alliance with a band of rebel skitters, but the alliance may not be enough to overpower the enemy Espheni, whose forces are now being led by an even more sinister overlord.

Last month, People magazine named Gwyneth Paltrow the world's most beautiful woman. I've interviewed her several times and can say that the magazine is right both when you talk about her outer and inner beauty.

Paltrow's one of those people who makes you immediately feel comfortable. She seems to care about people. I saw another example of this when Paltrow was talking about being in "Iron Man 3." Her character, Pepper Potts, has gone through some major changes during the series run, but when asked about the success of the films, Paltrow prefers to point to the work of others. She's convinced the films work only because of the performance of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark.

"Not only because of the similarities in their own lives and not because of his specific brand of vulnerability and strength and humor and all those things. But because Robert has a really big-picture creative mind about what these movies should feel like. I think one particular strength of Robert's that we don't see on screen is the fact that he's always asking like what is the big picture here? How can we make it feel real? How can we make it feel like something we care about and we want to watch? I think that's why the movies keep working," Paltrow says.

The third film proves her point: "Iron Man 3" has pulled in more than $1 billion around the globe.

Maybe Paltrow's too beautiful to take credit for some of the movie success, but she should. A lot of the buzz before "Iron Man 3" opened was whether Pepper would get her own suit and become the action hero Rescue. You'll have to see the film to find out whether that happens, but I will say that Pepper's not a passive participant in this film.

It's the growth of the character from assistant to company boss that Paltrow likes the best about playing Pepper.

"I think very rarely do you start at such a distinctive place and end up somewhere else. And I really loved their relationship in the first movie when she was a supplicant, and cleaning up his messes and I loved that. It was very specific, and then to get all the way to where she is at the end of the trilogy, it was a big transformation. One of the things that I loved the most is that she really steps into her power in all areas. And you do see her as a very intelligent, articulate CEO. You see her now in an equal relationship with Tony where she wants her needs met as well, while still remaining a very supportive woman in his life," Paltrow says.

Summer TV programming is a mix of a few new programs and reruns. I suggest that if you didn't watch the new CBS series "Elementary" during its initial run, catch the repeats. Jonny Lee Miller is incredible as a modern Sherlock Holmes. What adds to the quality of the show is Lucy Liu's equally strong performance as Watson.

The pair work wonderfully together. Miller says the chemistry developed with each episode until they had become a very strong acting team.

"And then you get to keep doing that. It's not like we're doing a run on a play where we do the same two hours every time, repeat that. It's constantly evolving. So it's extremely interesting, and it's a wonderful thing to be able to help each other. It's a real blessing to form a working relationship and a bond with someone that I love and respect so much," Miller says.

Liu agrees and adds that "the one thing that's wonderful about television is that you get to really recognize your own character as you go and your relationships around you. And the fact that their relationship is still somewhat amorphous makes it much more interesting and enigmatic in the end, because you don't really want it to be something that's so formulated. That keeps it unpredictable."