By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published May 13, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Will Ferrell's brief stint as Steve Carell's replacement on "The Office" wasn't the high point of his career.

He seemed to offer disjointed versions of his characteristic wackiness in succeeding episodes, without establishing a real, solid character.

While he's hardly the wacky Ferrell in "Everything Must Go," a little film opening today at the Oriental Theater, Ferrell establishes a focused character using familiar bits in this version of a Raymond Carver short story.

Ferrell's alcoholic Nick Halsey is a tragic figure, a once hot salesman who loses his job, coming home to find that his wife is dumping him as well, dumping all his stuff on the front lawn of their home. She's changed all the locks and left.

There are comic moments to be mined in the succeeding days the film covers, and Ferrell does provide laughs. But this is ultimately a heavy story about a middle-aged guy trying to save his failed life. It's not a big film, or one that's particularly memorable.

Still, there's much many of us can identify with. We all know versions of Nick Halsey, and his story is told efficiently here by director Dan Rush in his first feature.

I screened this movie at last fall's Toronto Film Festival and I'm happy to see that Milwaukee movie-goers will get a chance to see it. Just don't go expecting to see Ron Burgundy or Ricky Bobby.

And while we're talking about Ferrell, he'll be awarded the Kennedy Center's  Mark Twain Prize for Humor this fall, following another "Saturday Night Live" alum, Tina Fey, who received the honor last year.

Here's the trailer for "Everything Must Go":

On TV: All signs point to Ashton Kutcher filling the spot opened by Charlie Sheen's very messy departure from  CBS' "Two and a Half Men," including this tweet from Kutcher.

  • Word that 76-year-old Jim Lehrer is ending his regular anchor duties on PBS' "NewsHour" on June 6 ends an era that began in 1975 with the launch of what was then "The Robert MacNeil Report." He'll continue to moderate the news show's analysis segment. "NewsHour" airs at 6 p.m. weeknights on Milwaukee Public TV's Channel 36.
  • Speaking of Channel 36, Milwaukee Public TV students take over the channel from 8 a.m. to 11:30 for the annual operations day. You can sample their video work at the MPTV Web site.
  • Starting with the June 2 episode, NBC's "The Voice" will expand to two hours for the final few episodes.
  • Alton Brown tells the Chicago Tribune he's ending the regular "Good Eats" after 249 episodes on Food Network. He'll do three "Good Eats" specials next season.
  • It's not official yet, but signs are pointing to "Chuck" and "Parenthood" both returning to NBC next next season, a double surprise.
  • When Keith Olbermann's new show launches June 20 on Current TV, he'll have Ken Burns and, less surprisingly, Michael Moore among his regular contributors.

Ed Helms this week's SNL: With his "Hangover 2" out at the end of the month, and this season's work on "The Office" wrapping up next week, Ed Helms is hosting this weekend's "Saturday Night Live," with Paul Simon as musical guest.

Here are NBC's promos for this week's show:

Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.

A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.

In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at

When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.