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"Mad Men": Dreams denied (contains spoilers from Sunday)

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 27, 2015

So much of "Mad Men" has been about dreams: dreams of success, dreams of a perfect life, the American dream, and so on. As I have said before, including at the beginning of this season, the show has especially been about people fulfilling their dreams -- getting what they thought they wanted -- only to discover that the getting is far less satisfying than it seemed in those dreams.

As we began this year, the central characters in the ad agency were sitting on piles of money from the McCann deal, and still they weren't happy: for example, Don was going through another divorce, and Joan and Peggy were still confronted by unapologetic sexism.

Then, in Sunday's episode, the dreamscape pretty well vanished.

The agency, long independent within the McCann organization, is getting folded into the main operation. (The minute I heard that, I thought, OK, this is the move toward a definite series ending which we have been awaiting.)

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HeldenFiles: Notes on Bruce Jenner

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 24, 2015

First, no jokes.

Second, when watching Jenner's interview with Diane Sawyer, I thought of the other transgender people interviewed or shown in the program. Though some had a measure of fame, not one of them was going to get two hours of prime time on ABC to talk about their lives, their fears, their changes. Not one of them would have drawn the kind of audience expected for this program, including plenty of people who had not thought about transgender people and issues before this program -- and who might have come away with some understanding because they watched Sawyer and Jenner.

After all, as much as Jenner's story was the reason people would watch, there was an effort to make this about more -- about transgender people generally, about the science and medical work involving them (including comments from Dr. Steven Levine of Beachwood, Ohio). Jenner, it emphasized, is not unique.

I do not want to suggest that the program was thoroughly respectful and thoughtful. Not when Sawyer was asking what song is in Jenner's head, nor when the show is plugging the music done by one of Jenner's sons. Sawyer pressed too much on what Jenner's sex life will be after the transition is complete; Sawyer leaves it to Jenner to remind her of what the show had already said, that your gender and your sex life are different issues. Also unseemly were the endless teases for what Jenner will look like when he has completed transition, deliberate titillation for some viewers -- but which ended only in a display of a Jenner dress, and not what Jenner in it.

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How big is ABC's Bruce Jenner interview? Well ...

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 24, 2015

These are the network's rules for use of clips from the show, which airs at 9 tonight. I offer them verbatim.

1. Excerpts of no more than ONE MINUTE (1:00) of actualities from “20/20” may be incorporated in your regularly scheduled news programs broadcast within the seven (7) day period commencing at 3:35a.m. ET Saturday, April 25 following the West Coast airing of Nightline.



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Don't pay the ransom, I've escaped ...

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 24, 2015

I feel compelled to bring up that old punchline from time to time when I have been away from the blog a lot, including lately. It's not that I haven't been writing. But more energy has gone into print/ items, Twitter (@rheldenfels) and Facebook (Rich Heldenfels, Pop Culture Guy) than this space. Still, there are some topics you may find of interest, including:

My look at the "Cleveland Abduction" movie, including interviews with both Taryn Manning (who plays Michelle Knight) and Raymond Cruz (who plays Ariel Castro). You can read that piece here or wait to see it in print in Sunday's Beacon Journal.

Another interview, this time with Mary Murphy, formerly of Canal Fulton and "So You Think You Can Dance," who is now co-hosting "America's Ballroom Challenge," a PBS series beginning tonight. (Check local listings. Even here in Northeast Ohio, telecasts vary.)

As you may have heard, the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal is dead. This wire story reports that, with my local notes about the impact here. As you may remember, when Comcast and Time Warner planned to merge, the plan included the sale of old Time Warner cable assets here to a third company, Charter. Now it may be that Charter will go directly for TWC (as it tried to do once before) -- or, as this report says, there may be regulatory roadblocks to such a deal, and to a separate deal Charter has made for a different company.

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"Last Tango in Halifax" third season coming

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 22, 2015

The official word: BBC Worldwide North America Sales & Co-productions and PBS announced today that the critically acclaimed British drama LAST TANGO IN HALIFAX will return for a third season in the U.S., premiering June 28, 2015, at 8:00 p.m. ET on PBS. The six-part series leads into the second episode of the MASTERPIECE romantic drama POLDARK and the second episode of “The Crimson Field,” continuing PBS’ role as the home for drama on Sunday nights.


Written by Sally Wainwright (“Scott & Bailey” “Unforgiven,” “At Home With the Braithwaites”) and directed by Euros Lyn (“Black Mirror,” “Sherlock”) and Jill Robertson (“Law & Order: UK”), LAST TANGO IN HALIFAX tells the story of love-struck septuagenarians Alan (Jacobi) and Celia (Anne Reid) who rediscover their love for each other later in life — 60 years, in fact, after they first met. The heart-warming series, which was rated “utterly charming” by Buzzfeed,was the BBC’s highest-rated new mid-week drama of 2012, regularly attracting more than seven million viewers with its captivating mix of effervescent humor and moving drama. Made by Red Production Company for the BBC, LAST TANGO IN HALIFAX is produced by Karen Lewis, with Nicola Shindler, Sally Wainwright and Matthew Read as the executive producers.


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Yes, a "Full House" sequel series

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 21, 2015

John Stamos announced this last night, and there's a detailed account of how the show came to be here. And here's all the boilerplate from Netflix:

Candace Cameron-Bure, Jodie Sweetin and Andrea Barber to Star in the Sequel to theIconic Hit Show Full House, with John Stamos Set to Produce and Guest Star;Discussions with Additional Full House Cast Members Ongoing.

Beverly Hills, CA., (April 21, 2015) — Netflix, the world’s leading Internet TV network, has ordered a 13-episode season of a new multi-camera comedy from Warner Horizon Television, Miller-Boyett Productions and Jeff Franklin Productions. Fuller House is the long-awaited sequel to the iconic hit series Full House. Created by original Full House creator Jeff Franklin, Fuller House will premiere exclusively across all Netflix territories in 2016.

Candace Cameron-Bure, Jodie Sweetin and Andrea Barber are set to star in Fuller House, with fellow Full House star John Stamos set to produce and reprise his original role of Uncle Jesse as a guest star in the new show. Discussions with Full House stars Bob Saget, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Dave Coulier and Lori Loughlin regarding guest appearances in Fuller House are ongoing.

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"Jurassic World" trailer: "She's killing for sport"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 20, 2015

And, in case you missed, it "Fantastic Four":

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Did John S. Knight kill a story about the Bay of Pigs?

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 20, 2015

The Miami Herald has a long piece today about a Herald scoop that was then buried before the invasion. CIA director Allen Dulles told reporter David Kraslow that such a story would harm national security. Kraslow relayed that concern to  managing editor George Beebe and executive editor Lee Hills -- and here's what the story says next:

They in turned discussed it with Herald publisher John S. Knight. “I can’t prove it, I’m just guessing, but I’ve always suspected that the minute I left his office, Dulles called Knight and said, ‘Don’t publish that story,’” Kraslow says. “Knight was a big Republican and a very patriotic guy, and I think Dulles probably believed a direct appeal to him would work.”

Whatever exactly happened in Miami, Kraslow got word from Beebe a couple of days later: The story was dead. The Herald wouldn’t run it. Kraslow was disappointed, but not angry. “It was a tough call,” he said. “Those guys — Beebe, Hills, Knight — were all great men and great bosses. It’s very hard to run a story when the director of the CIA tells you it will harm national security. I think the Herald was wrong, I think the Herald made a mistake, but it was a mistake born of good intentions.”

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"Astronaut Wives Club" coming in June

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 20, 2015

Azure Parsons plays Annie Glenn in the series. The official word: “The Astronaut Wives Club” – A new television drama series based on the book by Lily Koppel, focuses on seven women who were key players behind some of the biggest events in American history. As America’s astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, the lives of their young wives were transformed, seemingly overnight, from military spouses to American royalty. As their celebrity rose, and tragedy began to touch their lives, they rallied together. “The Astronaut Wives Club” premieres THURSDAY, JUNE 18 (8:00–9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.

“The Astronaut Wives Club” stars JoAnna Garcia Swisher as Betty Grissom; Yvonne Strahovski as Rene Carpenter; Dominique McElligott as Louise Shepard; Odette Annable as Trudy Cooper; Erin Cummings as Marge Slayton; Azure Parsons as Annie Glenn; Zoe Boyle as Jo Schirra; Desmond Harrington as Alan Shepard; Bret Harrison as Gordo Cooper; Wilson Bethel as Scott Carpenter; Kenneth Mitchell as Deke Slayton; Joel Johnstone as Gus Grissom; Sam Reid as John Glenn and Aaron McCusker as Wally Schirra. The first episode was directed by Lone Scherfig, director of the Academy Award®-nominated film “An Education.”

“The Astronaut Wives Club” is executive produced by Stephanie Savage (“Gossip Girl,” “The O.C.”); Josh Schwartz (“The O.C”; “Chuck”); Len Goldstein (“The Carrie Diaries,” “Hart of Dixie”); Michael London (“Milk,” “Appaloosa”) and Janice Williams (“All Good Things,” “The Hollars”).

The series is produced by ABC Studios, Fake Empire and Groundswell and is broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC’s selected HDTV format with 5.1 channel surround sound. A TV parental guideline will be assigned closer to airdate.

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LeBron-backed "Survivor's Remorse" begins production on second season

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 16, 2015

The official word:  The STARZ Original series “Survivor’s Remorse” has returned to Atlanta to begin filming the second season of the critically acclaimed half-hour scripted comedy series from LeBron James, Tom Werner, Mike O’Malley, Maverick Carter, Victor Levin, Paul Wachter and Hilton Smith. ...

“Survivor’s Remorse” follows Cam Calloway, played by Jessie T. Usher, a basketball phenom in his early 20’s who is suddenly thrust into the limelight after signing a multi-million dollar contract with a professional basketball team in Atlanta. Cam moves to Georgia with his cousin and confidant Reggie Vaughn, played by RonReaco Lee, to begin the journey to superstardom. The two confront the challenges of carrying needy family members who are along for the ride and their strong ties to the impoverished community where they were raised. Cam, Reggie and an unforgettable group of characters wrestle with the rewards and pitfalls of stardom, love and loyalty.


Returning alongside Usher and Lee are cast members Erica Ash as M-Chuck, the sister of Cam Calloway; Teyonah Parris as Reggie’s wife, Missy; Tichina Arnold (“Martin,” “Everybody Hates Chris”) as Cassie, Cam’s mother; and Mike Epps (“Being Mary Jane,” The Hangover, the Friday franchise) as Cam’s Uncle Julius.

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