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More with Rachel Sweet

By Rich Heldenfels Published: June 3, 2015


Online and in today's Beacon Journal is my latest interview with Akron's own Rachel Sweet, focusing on "Hot in Cleveland," which ends tonight.  And yes, this is the same Rachel Sweet who was a singing star (above).

In the piece I mentioned that writing for TV can be a tough business, which Rachel discussed in more detail in this earlier interview. I really like that story because it shows all the ways a TV show can, and does, go wrong. And the remarks about "Commando Nanny" are especially enlightening when you consider what Rachel was saying while working on the show; you can find that interview on a Facebook page about Rachel here.

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Stuff I've found interesting: Wells Fargo ad, Olstead's "Sleepwalk," TCM noir fest, "SYTYCD"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: June 2, 2015


I had not caught this commercial, which started airing about a month ago, until last night. Love it. And a nice offering during Pride Month.

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The universality of LeBron: Spelling Bee, "More Than a Game" returns

By Rich Heldenfels Published: May 29, 2015

Akron's own LeBron James came up during coverage of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, where -- as the Associated Press reported -- one of the co-champions is a fan. From the AP:

"Under his blue-and-white button-down shirt, Venkatachalam wore the jersey of his idol, LeBron James." 

Those of you who remember "More than a Game," Kris Belman's documentary about the "Fab Five" featuring LeBron James, will have another chance to see it next week. From the folks at Cleveland Cinemas: 

Like the rest of Cleveland, Cleveland Cinemas is cheering for the Cavs as they start the NBA finals on June 4th. To show our support and pay tribute to the King, LeBron James, the Capitol Theatre (1390 W. 65th St., Cleveland) will present a free screening of the documentary MORE THAN A GAME on Tuesday, June 2nd at 7:30 PM.

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NBC's "Wiz" sets Dorothy casting call

By Rich Heldenfels Published: May 28, 2015

The official word: NBC is having an open casting call for the lead role of Dorothy in the network’s upcoming holiday special “The Wiz Live!,” set for Thursday, Dec. 3.

The casting call is set for Saturday, June 6 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Telsey + Co., 311 W. 43rdSt., 10thFloor in Midtown Manhattan. Sign-in begins at 9 a.m.

Casting directors will be looking for a young African-American woman between 18-27 years old. She must have an extraordinary voice that can tell a story, as well as be mature with a youthful energy.

Candidates need to be prepared to sing the songs “Home,” “Ease on Down the Road” and “Be a Lion” from the original Broadway production of “The Wiz.”

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Notes on NBC's "Aquarius"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: May 28, 2015

For one of our Beacon Journal roundups I wrote the following about the drama starring David Duchovny, which begins tonight:

NBC at 9 p.m. Thursday begins Aquarius, which it sums up as "Murder. Madness. Manson." But that slogan is more concise and intriguing than the series itself, which based on its first two episodes is not only filled with gloom but sluggish in its presentation. 

    David Duchovny stars as a Los Angeles detective uncomfortable with the culture changing around him in 1967, the so-called Summer of Love. He gets dragged deeper into those changes when, in the manner of a classic film noir, an old girlfriend asks help finding her missing daughter. The daughter, meanwhile has joined the group assembled by a charismatic musician, Charles Manson* (played by Gethin Anthony).

Although this is two years before Manson's most notorious crimes, his menace is already evident. What is not evident is a particularly entertaining story.

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DVD news: "Woman in Gold," "Ex Machina"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: May 26, 2015


The official word on "Woman in Gold," the Helen Mirren fact-based drama, which has a 52 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes:

Anchor Bay Entertainment and The Weinstein Company are pleased to announce the home entertainment release of WOMAN IN GOLD, based on the extraordinary true story of Austrian-American Maria Altmann and her journey to bring justice back to her family. Featuring heart wrenching performances from Academy Award® Winner and recent Tony® Nominee Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Brühl, Katie Holmes, Tatiana Maslany, Max Irons, Charles Dance, Elizabeth McGovern and Jonathan Pryce, the film was directed by Simon Curtis (MY WEEK WITH MARILYN) and written by Alexi Kaye Campbell based on the life stories of E. Randol Schoenberg and Maria Altmann.

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Notes after a long weekend

By Rich Heldenfels Published: May 26, 2015

The bride and I drove to the New York area on Thursday to see my older son graduate from college on Friday. Then we returned Saturday. I was on the job Sunday and yesterday, after we did some work in the yard, it was a day of rest. And turkey burgers, cole slaw, and corn on the cob.

Here's some of what came to pass during those days:

-- We kept up our membership in the technological revolution. As I was driving along i-80 on Saturday, the bride used her iPad to connect to live-streaming of the Brelo verdict. A very long stream it was, but it was a way to hear it unfold even though we were hundreds of miles from home.

-- On Sunday, I spent some time at the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery for its Memorial Day commemoration. You can read the story from the event here. I also posted a couple of pictures on Facebook.

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"Beautiful Mind" mathematician, wife killed in car crash

By Rich Heldenfels Published: May 24, 2015


John Forbes Nash Jr., the brilliant Princeton University mathematician whose life story was the subject of the film "A Beautiful Mind," and his wife Alicia were killed in a crash Saturday on the New Jersey Turnpike, police said.

Nash was 86. Alicia Nash was 82. The couple lived in Princeton Junction.

The two were in a taxi traveling southbound in the left lane of the New Jersey Turnpike when the driver of the Ford Crown Victoria lost control as he tried to pass a Chrysler in the center lane, crashing into a guard rail, according to State Police Sgt. Gregory Williams.

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HeldenFiles: Watching David Letterman's last "Late Show"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: May 20, 2015

Dave had fun, didn't he? He found joy, didn't he? And he did not need Don Draper's chanting epiphany to know it.

I don't think the David Letterman of 30 or 20 or maybe even 10 years ago could have said goodbye with the grace and humility he showed in his farewell remarks. This Dave could look at his wife Regina and son Harry and say, "Nothing else matters, does it?" This Dave could talk about CBS boss Leslie Moonves and acknowledge Moonves had been "more than patient with me" -- and especially emphasize the "patient." (Earlier, conceding as well his flaws, he observed that not having his own show meant that any future screwups would require him "to go on somebody else's show to apologize.")

And he went out of his way to offer good wishes to his successor, Stephen Colbert.

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WCPN corrects misheard "rioting" quote

By Rich Heldenfels Published: May 20, 2015

From the station:

In early versions of the story “Cleveland Braces For Verdict In 2012 Police Shooting” that ran on Monday morning, May 18th, during Morning Edition on 90.3 WCPN ideastream, it was reported that Cleveland City Councilman Kevin Conwell said he would go out "rioting" if police officer Michael Brelo is acquitted in the shooting death of two black suspects.


An error in the report resulted from a misunderstanding between what Cleveland City Councilman Kevin Conwell said ("riding/ride”) and what the reporter/producer heard ("rioting/riot").

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