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"Love, Marilyn" reveals the private side of Monroe

As suggested early in "Love, Marilyn" (9 tonight, HBO), actress/cultural icon Marilyn Monroe has been written about, explored, examined, dissected, and probably, exploited many many times.

But this documentary has something different; it has Monroe on Monroe. The film, by director Liz Garbus, uses recently discovered personal papers, letters and diaries by Monroe to let the woman explain her thoughts. The result is a well-done work, one that's both bittersweet and illuminating.

Monroe's words are supported by interviews with some who knew her as well as the words of others, among them Gloria Steinem, Norman Mailer and Truman Capote, all who all wrote about Monroe. Actors perform the Monroe's words (and the writings of the others). Among the participants are Glenn Close, Adrien Brody, Viola Davis, Winston-Salem native Jennifer Ehle, Raleigh native Evan Rachel Wood and sad Marilyn wannabe Lindsay Lohan.

The film takes you though Monroe's life, from her orphaned beginnings to her determined stride to the top to her marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller (who does not look good in this telling). I've read some about Monroe and I can't say I learned a lot that was new. It's more about the shadings her words add to what you might know.

Those words show how thoughtful, intelligent, lonely, insecure, desperate, Monroe was. What was new to me was her shrewdness; like many women, Monroe was taken advantage of by her employers. She was undervalued despite being the studio's biggest star. And so she learned how to work the system, forming a production company that would allow her to do the work she was committed to doing and get the money she deserved.

And that's the value, I think, of this film. It posits Monroe squarely as an artist, a sensitive one who seems to have been ultimately upended by the struggle to control her own destiny, to be treated as the full creative being she wanted to be. It's tough to view this film and not have a new respect for Monroe. After all, she was the creator of the Marilyn Monroe character and that character is still being talked decades later.

Today's giveaway has legal ramifications

But if you've got Patty Hewes as your litigator, you should be fine.

That's Glenn Close's character on the rightfully acclaimed series "Damages," and we've got the complete third season DVD. There are 13 episodes on 3 discs. Special features include cast and crew commentaries, deleted scenes, episode introductions and a blooper reel.

This third season is the one before the show moved to Direct TV, and features Lily Tomlin, Campbell Scott, and Martin Short. You'll get to see Rose Byrne, Tate Donovan and Ted Danson too.

And it's so easy to snag. Just send an email by 8 p.m. today (12/12). We'll have a random drawing. We'll send it to that person. They'll get good TV. It's what we do.

Giveaway: "Damages" Season 3 on DVD

The fourth season of "Damages" premieres tonight on DirecTV (the show previously aired on FX). To celebrate the return of one of our favorite shows, we're giving away a DVD set of "Damages" Season 3, which just went on sale yesterday.

Season 3 borrowed from the Bernie Madoff scandal and featured amazing performances from guest stars Lily Tomlin, Martin Short, and Campbell Scott (as well as "Damages" regulars Glenn Close, Rose Byrne, Ted Danson, and Tate Donovan).

To win, send me an email with your name and mailing address. I'll draw a winner randomly from those entries. I'll take entries until midnight this Sunday (July 17).

If you don't win, the gorgeous Sony Home Pictures Entertainment set lists for $39.99, but you can usually get it a little cheaper than that (Amazon has it for $19.99 right now).

WINNER! Congratulations to Justin from Greenville! 

Season 4 of "Damages" debuts on DirecTV

Much as it did a few years ago with NBC's neglected jewel "Friday Night Lights," DirecTV rescued FX's superb drama "Damages" from the scrap heap last year, promising the show's fans two more seasons of Patty Hewes' mind-bending machinations.

The fourth season of that acclaimed Glenn Close series -- its first on DirecTV -- premieres tomorrow night at 10pm.

Season 4's legal plot involves a lawsuit against a powerful military security contractor, à la Blackwater, with John Goodman playing the Erik Prince role (in a fairly obvious nod, Goodman's character is named Howard Erickson). Chris Messina ("Julie and Julia") plays an Iraq war vet who took a job in Afghanistan with Erickson's High Star Security Corporation. He just happens to be an old high school friend of Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne), who is trying to bring about the lawsuit on behalf of families of those killed during questionable High Star missions.

Have DirecTV? Then do some Damage.

If you subscribe to DirecTV, you're in for a real treat.

Starting tonight at 10pm, the carrier will begin showing episodes of the critically acclaimed FX drama, "Damages." They will start with the first episode of Season 1 and show a new episode each Wednesday night at 10pm, leading up to the premiere of Season 4 this summer.

Season 4 of "Damages" will be available exclusively on DirecTV.

"Damages" stars Glenn Close, Ted Danson, and Rose Byrne. It originated on FX but the ratings for Season 3 weren't fantastic, so the series was canceled and DirecTV picked it up. Unlike DirecTV's deal with "Friday Night Lights," in which that show is broadcast first on DirecTV and later on NBC, "Damages" will not be shown later on FX. If you don't have DirecTV and want to see the final season, you'll have to wait for the dvds. I know. Bummer.

I highly recommend DirecTV customers tune in tonight. It airs on Channel 101.

The big OMG moment on last night's "Damages"

There was a pretty major twist on last night's "Damages" premiere.

Of course, we learned in the first few minutes that someone is trying to kill Patty (or are they?). And we met the core players in this year's main storyline (or did we? Just kidding.): the greedy financier, his family, and his ruthless attorney.

But of course, the big shocker came at the end of the show.


Mind-bending "Damages" premiere is loaded with intrigue

The Emmy award-winning "Damages" returns tonight for its third season on FX, and the drama surrounding lawyer Patty Hewes is as fantastically tense (and confusing) as ever.

As with previous seasons, there's a startling bit of action in the opening minutes to hook you, followed by the usual mind-bending jumps back and forth in time to reveal tiny, gratifying bits of information to keep you guessing about, well, about everything, up until the very last minute of the very last episode.

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