A&E Renews ‘The Cleaner’

According to EW’s columnist Michael Ausiello, A&E has renewed “The Cleaner” for a 13-episode second season.

TV Week and Star Pulse report the news, too, adding that production should start soon and the new season should air next year (next spring, perhaps :ponder: ).




Edited to add:

Meanwhile, a press release from A&E makes it official that a second season of “The Cleaner” has been picked up.

A&E Picks Up Second Season of The Cleaner Starring Benjamin Bratt

The Cleaner, episode 13

Lie With Me
Neil and Shelly have a beautiful daughter, a wonderful home, successful careers and dangerous addictions to alcohol. Neil’s father comes to William, concerned for his granddaughter’s safety. William and his team make a risky play posing as Child Protective Services to remove the little girl from the house and scare Neil and Shelly straight. Can they get clean together, or will the price of sobriety be their marriage?

The strain addictions put on a couple is what springs out of this episode, a strain that may lead to separation.

Though he warned Neil that it is seldom viable that a couple can go through rehab/detox together and succeed, William manages to have both Neil and Shelly admitted into Transitions (William’s rehab center), but Shelly – who is the weakest partner – leaves when the treatment has barely begun.

Besides wondering how it is possible that Swenton was detoxing in episode 12 and already on a case in episode 13, what came totally unexpected (to me, at least) and upset me is William packing and move out of his home, after things seemed to go pretty well family-wise for him. The scene where he was with his son and daughter and they were crying was heartbreaking – I was crying, too.

William knows from personal experience how hard it is to fight your addiction — he’s a recovering addict and stumbled many times before finally getting “clean.” And even though he’s turned his life completely around, that doesn’t mean his family is ready to accept that he’s changed or willing to believe that he will never fail. His son Ben has had a hard time adjusting, but he is now “getting there.” His daughter Lula copes by being the perfect daughter, though it is probably easier for her adjusting that it is for her brother and mother, as she is too young to remember her father at his worst.

I am disappointed in Melissa, though, and she is the downside to the show final episode. I can understand how the past has left many scars on her and she is not ready to forget what she went through when she had to deal with William as an addict while she was trying to raise their two young children. And she has the right to have a piece of her life that her husband doesn’t intrude on. Considered the times he ran off when they were in the middle of family events because he had to help an addict, she can be excused for running off to prepare for her open house the next day with Duncan when William brings her breakfast in bed one morning.

However, Melissa didn’t leave him when he was “on the needle,” she invited him back to their bed after she found out he slept with Akani, but now that he’s clean and has a job she’s breaking up the family, depriving her children of their father, and kicking her husband out of the house. Why? Because he can’t be excited for her when she makes. Then he shows up at the open house the next day. That was annoying, not break-up worthy.

She was given no motivation for her actions, except that she might be having an affair. At the open house, Melissa tells William that she wants boundaries. She doesn’t come to his job, so he doesn’t need to come to hers. When Duncan comes out, you can tell William is more than a little jealous, especially after the “boundaries” conversation. And his wife is picking up new lingo from Duncan: “It’s all good.”

This leads to a major fight later on where William lets out a comment about her “real estate boyfriend.” Melissa can’t believe he would have the nerve to say anything with all she’s been through with him – his past addictions, sleeping with other women (referring to his one-night stand with Akani while they were separated). William tries to apologize and says he will try to change, but Melissa doesn’t want to hear it. Now she wants a break – from them together.

On a side note, I’ve been waiting episode after episode for the clip from “The Cleaner” that Teresa told us about and that was featured on Live with Regis and Kelly on September 1, where Ben and Lula have listed all the activities they want to stop doing so that they can be with their father more, but it looks like it was in none of the episodes aired, so they must be have cut that scene out, or else it was in an episode aired before September 1 and I did not give it much importance and forgot about it.

Finally, I would like to wish good luck to all of the people that wrote me to share stories of their or a relative’s struggle with present and past addictions, and how they found The Cleaner truthful and/or inspirational. One is Anthony/Tony Mucciacciaro, an ex-addict who has been clean for 4 years and decided to share the story of his life in book and a website, http://www.oocities.org/reflectionsofamiracle/.

“Trucker” at the Austin Film Festival 2008

“Trucker” will be screened at the 15th Annual Austin Film Festival this month. The 15th Annual Austin Film Festival will run October 16-23, and “Trucker” is to screen in the Narrative Feature Competition category at 7.15 pm, on Sunday, October 19, at the Bob Bullock Spirit Theater, and at 7 pm, on Tuesday, 21 October, at Arbor. Benjamin features in this movie as Leonard/Len Bonner. “Trucker” tells the story of Diane Ford (Michelle Monaghan), a vivacious and successful independent truck driver, leads a carefree life of long-haul trucking, one night stands and all-night drinking until the evening her estranged 11-year-old son Peter (Jimmy Bennett) shows up at her door. Peter hasn’t seen his mother since he was a baby and wants Diane as little as she wants him; but with his father Len (Benjamin Bratt) in the hospital, Diane and Peter are stuck with each other – at least for a while. Burdened with this new responsibility and seeing the life of freedom she’s fought for jeopardized, Diane steps reluctantly into her past and looks sidelong at a future that is not as simple or straightforward as she had once believed. (Trucker Official Fan Site)

“Trucker” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 24, 2008, and received good reviews (snippets can be found at the movie official fan site, Review Snippits). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find announcements about when it will be released in theaters, as from what I read, it sounds a promising movie and it would be a pity if just festival goers had the chance to see it.

The Cleaner, episodes 10, 11, 12

Rebecca, a gifted teenage pianist, has turned to meth to cope with the pressures in her life. Her father, who has been reluctantly supporting her habit out of fear of losing her, requests William’s help. William and his team face an unexpected challenge in Rebecca’s mother, whose control issues have influenced her daughter’s neuroses. As Rebecca spirals out of control -“dating” a 50-year-old man for drug money and stealing from neighbors – William realizes that, in order to save her, he must first heal her family.

Back to One
Lisa moved to Los Angeles years ago with dreams of becoming an actress, but thus far, all she has managed is a steady career as an extra. When her visiting brother discovers the depth of Lisa’s cocaine problem, he enlists William. He learns that Lisa has been supporting her habit via a credit card scheme and moves to grab her, only to have her finally land a role that could be her break. Meanwhile, Swenton goes missing, and Akani, fearing the worst, races to locate him.

Five Little Words
William brings Swenton into the Banks home to detox, determined to save him from the fate that Mickey suffered. Meanwhile, Akani and Darnell take on a case from drug dealer Gaza Rashburg. They infiltrate his daughter’s sorority house, where Akani discovers that the girl is severely bulimic, while Darnell harbors a personal vendetta against Rashburg. William’s past with drugs and his struggle to get clean is also explored.

Rebecca. I really felt sympathy for Rebecca and her family. It is only too human on the mother’s part to push her daughter to extremes, given that she saw how talented Rebecca was at playing the piano and she could have the career that she dreamed about. It must have been hard for Rebecca to cope with a parent who did not leave it to her to choose whether she wanted to be pianist or not. And the father was caught between the two of them. At one point he said that he was tired of fighting. The advice given? Choose what you care about, but no matter what don’t stop fighting. And this is hard when you have to fight on two fronts for the good of the people you love.

Back to One. Can I admit this episode made me cry? Actually, Lisa, the striving actress, dying (ouch, another failure by William and his team) is not what made me cry, that was sad, and expected. I was about to cry “Get to Swenton!” when they were there on the set where Lisa died. It was William’s prayer that brought tears to my eyes (“How much pressure can we handle before we crack? What will it take to piece us back together? Because whether you send us angels or not, the only real hope we have is.. Each other… We get lost, we are afraid and you know what it’s like for the lost and the frightened.. The lose faith in you, in themselves, in each other, so maybe you sent us those angels, so maybe… Maybe you just need us to believe in them, but for me… I need you. This time my faith, my belief even in the angels you might have sent my way… They are not enough… They are not enough, not this time… Please… Please, help me, don’t let this happen again.” ): it was a very emotional moment, a sign of his humility and one of the very few times he has admitted weakness.

Five Little Words. This is one of the best episodes in the series, in my opinion. I related so much to it that it almost hurt. William’s monologues were awesome, I felt sympathy for both Akani and Melissa, Darnell’s pain was so real, so understandable (he knows it’s wrong, he knows his brother made his own choices, he knows it’s not what God wants, but he still wants to shot the guy), and so was Gaza’s explanation. Considered that I struggled with an eating disorder myself (I had a period when I weighed 100 pounds like Gaza’s daughter supposedly weighs), Gaza’s daughter was very real to me. The whole negative self talk thing as well as the “get away from me, just leave me alone, I’m fine…” hit close to home.

Swenton’s vulnerability and relationship with William and Melissa were powerful in this episode as well. The flashbacks were heart wrenching. It also really hit me when Swenton was talking about how he knew he was damned from the start because of the whole cough syrup thing when he was a kid and how William told him that we are just hardwired from the get go. Also I could feel Swenton’s pain when he was outside smoking and he apologizes to Melissa. Letting people see that you’ve slipped and admitting you are at your worst are the hardest things in the world. It was clear much Swenton depends on William – almost in a father-son dynamic – and the extent of his low self-esteem.

Melissa and William had this great emotional scene at the end where they just look at each other and she knows. After all she put up with from him, she knows he cheated. And she still had the strength to forgive him.

How hard it is to make those five little words change from “I wish I were dead” to “I wish I were alive”, choosing life over death…

So, ready for the season finale next week? Personally, I’m ready for a new episode, not for the first season ending and really hope a second is in the cards. Anyway, don’t miss the season finale on TV and then head for AETV.com to watch the Extended Final Scene

The Recovery Project: The Stars

Benjamin features in public service messages, along with other celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg, Russell Simmons, and Christopher Lawford, to raise awareness about addiction and spread the message that recovery is possible and treatment works.
Hear what some familiar faces have to say from a clip on A&E website: http://link.aetv.com/services/link/bcpid1772823653/bclid1773232950/bctid1834373753