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RNC in Cleveland: Some media notes

By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 17, 2016

While the Sunday-morning news shows were full of political discussions and other news, those of us who are here even between conventions had to wonder how Northeast Ohio was being presented to the worldwide audience.
There had been reason to cringe when decided this was just the right occasion for a post about “notorious Cleveland crimes.” Among the criminals: Ariel Castro, Anthony Sowell and Jeffrey Dahmer (who did most of his killing outside Ohio but was included because “he killed his first victim at his childhood home in Bath Township.”
And, especially for anyone who has plans in Cleveland, there were the unsettling discussions across news media about whether the city’s security plans were good enough. A CNN report later in the day, following the murders in Baton Rouge, ominously noted that Cleveland was a potential target not only because of the convention but because of the enormous law-enforcement presence.
One passer-by in Cleveland Sunday afternoon was heard referring to “so many cops.” Not long after, I passed a large group including state highway patrolmen and others — but I’d hardly expect them to be solo in light of current events.
Earlier Sunday, This Week host (and former Clevelander) George Stephanopoulos grilled Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson about security. Jackson was so low-key in his responses, you’d have thought he was trying to put the audience (including protesters) to sleep.
But Ohio was also showcased for more than just the potential for violence. On Fox New Sunday, Bret Baier pointed out that the Ohio delegation is “jammed in the corner” because “these states are organized by how they voted for Donald Trump, not by their importance as being swing states or even the home state.” And Trump lost the Ohio primary to Gov. John Kasich.
Added Chris Wallace: “, In my experience, which goes back a lot of conventions, the home state always ... is, if not at the front, very close to the front.”
While some people still think you can’t talk about Cleveland without “mistake” and “lake,” there were valentines for the region, especially on CBS Sunday Morning.
­Mo Rocca ­— whom you may remember for his 2015 visit with the LeBron James Grandmothers Fan Club on his Cooking Channel series — offered an admiring look at Cleveland’s history and innovations.
All right, so he also had mistake and lake. Overall he was really nice.
A second Sunday Morning piece, by Scott Simon, showcased Cleveland Play House.
And even a piece on the 75th anniversary of Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak noted it ended “in CLEVELAND, as it happened.”

I spent part of Sunday wandering in downtown Cleveland, trying to navigate around blockades and closed roads; watching police patiently redirect drivers, some of whom seemed unfamiliar with officers’ hand signals, and eyeing a vendor’s display of freshly made Trump-Pence buttons ($5 for one or $10 for three, and with three you could mix buttons and bumper stickers).
I also checked out a couple of the major gathering places for news and information operations, the “media row” in a Quicken Loans Arena parking deck and the Huntington Bank Convention Center.
Media row was in fact a long, winding stretch of spots where radio in particular could set up for interviews — since they were conveniently near the Q, and inside the security zone — and broadcasts during the convention. With the big doings not starting until Monday, parts of it were still being assembled, or had no one working yet. Still, you could see everything from a single table with a couple of chairs for one radio station, to an elaborate setup for CNN, and large sections encompassing not only radio networks but a fistful of affiliates. And some commentary: a worker at one right-wing outlet wore a “Hillary for Prison” T-shirt.
The presence of newer media was also evident, whether it was a Buzzfeed News sign explaining how people could use the Facebook Messenger app to “tell us your convention story” to Facebook Live locations where news outlets could live-stream, elaborately near the Q and more casually in the convention center.
What a few months had been a huge, empty space in the convention center is now a massive media headquarters. You walk through aisles between high curtains, behind which news organizations’ staffs and equipment are gathered. Not that all are like that. In another area, you would find rows of individually numbered spots for reporters who had sought just a desk and a way to file. 

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Rich and the movies: Films to get you ready for the Republican National Convention

By Published: July 15, 2016

As you prepare for the upcoming Republican National Convention, Akron Beacon Journal pop culture reporter Rich Heldenfels has some movie choices to get you ready.

MORE: A woman president? Movies and TV got there first, though not always well

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Danger, Will Robinson 2.0! Netflix sets "Lost in Space" reboot for 2018

By Rich Heldenfels Published: June 30, 2016

Or is that 2.5? I guess we should count the 1998 movie? Naw.

The official word: Netflix, the world’s leading Internet TV network, has ordered a 10-episode first season of the one-hour sci-fi drama, from Legendary TV, based on the beloved 1960’s sci-fi classic from Irwin Allen. Reimagined by feature writing team Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless (Dracula Untold, Last Witch Hunter), with Zack Estrin (Prison Break) showrunning, the series will premiere worldwide on Netflix in 2018.

Taking its cues from the original series, the show centers around the Robinson family, who is forced to come together in a time of crisis. Stranded light years from their intended destination, they find themselves battling a strange new alien environment and also their own personal demons. Equal parts family drama and sci-fi adventure, it is a survival story for the ages.

“The original series so deftly captured both drama and comedy, and that made it very appealing to a broad audience. The current creative team’s reimagining of the series for Netflix is sure to appeal to both fans who fondly remember the original and to create a new generation of enthusiasts around the world,” said Cindy Holland, Netflix Vice President of Original Content.

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A big bunch of "Star Trek" on TV

By Rich Heldenfels Published: June 30, 2016

The Heroes & Icons channel will begin carrying all five live-action series (TOS, TNG, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise), in order, in a programming block starting July 24. Here's the announcement:

Heroes & Icons TV Network (H&I) will boldly go where no network has gone before, as it proudly presents All Star Trek. This historic television programming first will feature all five of the original live action Star Trek TV franchises airing together, six days a week. Beginning Stardate Sunday, July 24, 2016, at 8:00pm ET, viewers will see Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise. H&I will broadcast all five series, beginning with the first episode of each one, all on one network, for the first time in the history of the franchise.


Fifty years ago this fall, the original Star Trek series debuted on television, transporting viewers to a creative universe that grew to include five successful television shows, and many movies. Now the H&I Network is providing fans and viewers of all generations the unique opportunity to enjoy the complete package of All Star Trek series together on one broadcast network. Presented as a continuous 5 hour block on Sunday nights, and as 5 hours each weeknight Monday through Friday, H&I’s All Star Trek begins with the very first episode of each iconic series and will present them all in sequence. Viewers can watch the All Star Trek trailer and find out where to watch each night of All Star Trek programming on the H&I website.

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Movies and a TV show to watch before the conventions

By Rich Heldenfels Published: June 29, 2016



I've been planning a column about fictional representations of conventions but, when you get down to it, the selection is pretty thin. Part of that may have to do with the way conventions by themselves are notoriously dull for anyone not interested in how North Dakota is going to split up its votes, or what superlatives Georgia will use to describe itself.

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Kasich signs expanded movie-production credit for Ohio

By Rich Heldenfels Published: June 29, 2016

Since productions have come to Ohio because of the credit ("Draft Day" would have been in Buffalo without it), this is good news for the economy and film fans. The official word from the Greater Cleveland Film Commission:

The Greater Cleveland Film Commission (GCFC) is excited to announce that Ohio Governor John Kasich has signed into law a revised Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit, passed last month by the Ohio General Assembly, which raises the annual incentive cap to $40 million, removes the $5 million per project cap, and changes the incentive rate to a flat 30% on all production dollars spent in Ohio.

"The changes to Ohio's incentive will help us bring thousands more jobs, and hundreds of millions of dollars to the state, and is one more step toward making us more competitive with other states that are leaders in media production like Georgia and Louisiana," said GCFC President Ivan Schwarz. "We are grateful to Governor Kasich, the Ohio House, and the Ohio Senate for giving us this opportunity to continue to grow a thriving and adaptive media industry in Northeast Ohio. I'd also like to thank Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, Rep. Kirk Schuring, and Sen. Tom Patton, who have championed this legislation, and know just how much a sustainable media industry can benefit Ohio."

The changes to the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit are the latest in a line of recent successes for Northeast Ohio's media industry. In April, officials from the State of Ohio and Cleveland State University announced $7.5 million in funding for a new School of Film, Television, and Interactive Media, Ohio's first standalone school of the sort. On June 10, second unit shooting wrapped in Cleveland for Universal's "Fast 8", which was expected to create more than 380 direct jobs for Ohioans, book almost 9,000 hotel room nights and engage over 200 Ohio businesses for a range of goods and services.

An economic impact study prepared by Cleveland State University in June 2015 reported that since July 2011, the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit has accounted for the creation of the equivalent of 1,729 full-time jobs, over $400 million of total economic impact, and a return on investment of $2.01 (for every $1 spent by the state through the incentive, $2.01 went into the state's economy). Since 2009, over 65 productions have shot in Northeast Ohio, and in the last two years examined by the study, 71% of all Ohio production dollars were spent in Northeast Ohio.

The Greater Cleveland Film Commission is the only 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to fostering economic development in Northeast Ohio by attracting media production and businesses that can make a significant economic impact on the local economy, advocating for continued support of the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit and other public policies that promote and support media production and developing our local workforce by providing programs designed to provide local talent with the training, experience and professional connections to enable them to succeed in the film industry.

Promote the increase of media production in Northeast Ohio using effective strategies for attraction and workforce development including building an artistic infrastructure through film.

Achieve increased economic development in Northeast Ohio by using the artistic and culturally enriching activities of film and other media production to strengthen the workforce, support the media production industry and attract media production to the region.

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ABC prime-time premiere dates for Fall '16

By Rich Heldenfels Published: June 28, 2016

The official list:
Monday, September 12
8:00-10:00 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars” (Season 23 premiere)

Sunday, September 18
7:00-8:00 p.m. “68th Emmy Awards Arrival Pre-Show” (live from Los Angeles)
8:00-11:00 p.m. “68th Emmy Awards” (live from Los Angeles)

Tuesday, September 20
8:00-10:00 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars Results Show”
10:00-11:00 p.m. “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (Season 4 premiere)

Wednesday, September 21
8:00-8:30 p.m. “The Goldbergs” (Season 4 premiere)
8:30-9:00 p.m. “Speechless” (Series premiere)
9:00-9:30 p.m. “Modern Family” (Season 8 premiere)
9:30-10:00 p.m. “black-ish” (Season 3 premiere)
10:00-11:00 p.m. “Designated Survivor” (Series premiere)

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LeBron's "Cleveland Hustles" details; Akron Honey Co. involved

By Rich Heldenfels Published: June 24, 2016

The official word:

CNBC announced LeBron James’ and Maverick Carter’s selection of local judges and globally recognized c-suite host for the network’s highly anticipated unscripted primetime series, “Cleveland Hustles,” premiering ‪Wednesday, August 24 at 10pm ET‪/PT. The series teams four successful Cleveland business leaders with local entrepreneurs looking for an investment to launch their own brick-and-mortar stores. The series is set in the Gordon Square Arts District, a once troubled neighborhood that’s working to rebuild.


“This show is special to me because it’s about giving hard-working people a life-changing opportunity to make their dreams a reality while creating real change in the Cleveland community,” said Maverick Carter. “I’m proud that SpringHill Entertainment is behind a project like this that is more than a TV show – it’s a transformational series that can lift up all of Northeast Ohio and one that will resonate with people across the country.”

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CBS sets new-season premiere dates

By Rich Heldenfels Published: June 21, 2016

The breakdown:

Thursday, Sept. 15


8:25 PM, ET THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL (NY Jets @ Buffalo Bills)

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"Believeland" getting revised ending; the women question remains

By Rich Heldenfels Published: June 21, 2016

As I've mentioned elsewhere, ESPN is updating its "Believeland" documentary about Cleveland's history of sports frustration, thanks to the Cavs winning the NBA championship. Here's the official announcement:

With the Cavaliers delivering Cleveland its first major championship in over 50 years, ESPN Films has decided to update the 30 for 30 documentary “Believeland” with an ending focused on the 2016 NBA Finals and the immediate aftermath. The new version of the film will premiere Thursday, June 30, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

“Believeland,” which originally debuted May 14, focuses on the struggles of Cleveland’s major sports franchises over the last half-century. Director Andy Billman and his production team were in Cleveland for Game 7 and will be there through the championship parade to capture the historic celebration. The Ohio native will also record a new introduction to the film based on the events of the last month.

John Dahl, ESPN Films VP told me this in a phone call today:

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