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"Vikings" returns Feb. 27

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 20, 2013

The official word: Last spring, HISTORY® introduced viewers to a clan of Norse warriors with a rapacious appetite for warfare, knowledge and power. The gripping family saga of Ragnar, Rollo, Lagertha, friends and enemies was a tale of brutality and passion, alliances and infidelities, infighting and death. It portrayed life in the Dark Ages, a world ruled by raiders and explorers, through the eyes of Viking society.

The epic tale continues in 10 all-new episodes of VIKINGS, premiering Thursday, February 27 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on HISTORY®. The hit scripted drama series centers on Ragnar (Travis Fimmel), a restless young warrior and family man who longs to find and conquer new lands across the sea and claim the spoils as his own. Now he is an Earl, allied with King Horrik (Donal Logue). With more power than ever before, his desire to sail west and explore new kingdoms remains unquenchable.

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Five "Duck Dynasty" what-ifs

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 20, 2013

The controversy over Phil Robertson and "Duck Dynasty" goes on. Here are my five questions:

1. What if Phil Robertson had expressed his anti-gay opinions without referring to bestiality, anuses or vaginas? Would A&E still have suspended him?

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The HeldenFiles Online: A not-too-brief history of columns about Christmas music

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 20, 2013

As regular readers know, I am a fan of Christmas songs and have been writing about them in the Beacon Journal for quite a few years, most recently in conjunction with Malcolm X Abram. Malcolm and I will be doing a video chat about holiday fare for Ohio.com soon, but for now I thought I would post a few of my previous columns about holiday music, in case you're pondering the sounds of the season.

2005:

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"Hannibal" returns Feb. 28

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 20, 2013

The official word: NBC has announced it will premiere the 13-episode second season of the critically acclaimed drama “Hannibal” at 10 p.m. (ET/PT) Friday, Feb. 28 following “Grimm” after the previously-announced conclusion of the 10-episode run of “Dracula.”

From creator Bryan Fuller, “Hannibal” stars Mads Mikkelsen as brilliant psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lector, who is working with the FBI and gifted criminal profiler Will Graham, played by Hugh Dancy, to look into the mind of serial killers. Based on Thomas Harris’ best-selling novels, this series is the prequel to the story that began with the feature films “Red Dragon” and “Silence of the Lambs.” 

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"HIMYM" sets finale date: March 31

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 19, 2013

About time. I have drifted away from the show this season, the wedding-weekend gimmick having proven creatively unsuccessful. Anyway, the official word:

After 208 episodes told over nine seasons, the story of how Ted Mosby ultimately meets his children's mother will conclude with a special one-hour series finale on Monday, March 31 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT).  The HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER finale will be followed immediately by the series premiere of the new comedy FRIENDS WITH BETTER LIVES (9:00-9:30 PM, ET/PT).  

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"Downton Abbey" Season 4 DVD and Blu-ray plans

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 19, 2013

The official word: PBS Distribution today announced it is releasing “DOWNTON ABBEY SEASON 4” on DVD and Blu-ray January 28, 2014. The most-watched drama in PBS history enters its fourth gripping season with the whole world waiting to learn how the beloved characters deal with a shocking tragedy. The acclaimed ensemble is back, together with returning guest star Academy Award®-winner Shirley MacLaine and new guest star Paul Giamatti. Also joining the cast are Harriet Walter, Gary Carr, Joanna David, and Tom Cullen, as the legend continues in “DOWNTON ABBEY SEASON 4.”


“DOWNTON ABBEY SEASON 4” airs Sundays on MASTERPIECE on PBS from January 5, 2014 to February 23, 2014. The DVD SRP is $49.99 and the Blu-ray SRP is $54.99. The run time is approximately 8.75 hours on three discs. The DVD and Blu-ray sets contain all of Season 4, including the finale. The DVD and Blu-ray feature the original U.K. edition of Season 4 and more than 30 minutes of bonus video. The program will be available for digital download.

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Rich and the movies: 'Saving Mr. Banks'

By Ohio.com Published: December 19, 2013

This week, Beacon Journal pop culture writer Rich Heldenfels checks out Saving Mr. Banks and finds it's a more dramatic and emotional story than the previews imply. Read his full review here.

 

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Grammy performances announced

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 19, 2013

The official word: The first performers announced for THE 56TH ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS® are current GRAMMY® nominee Daft Punk, nominee Kendrick Lamar and nominee Imagine Dragons, who will also perform together, and  nominees P!nk and Nate Ruess (of two-time GRAMMY-winning group FUN.) who will perform together for the first time on network television. There will also be a special “GRAMMY Moment” performance featuring two-time GRAMMY winner Merle Haggard, three-time GRAMMY winner and 2014 Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Kris Kristofferson, seven-time GRAMMY winner Willie Nelson and current nominee Blake Shelton. The music industry's premier event takes place Sunday, Jan. 26 (8:00-11:30 PM, live ET/delayed PT) at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles on the CBS Television Network. Additional performers, presenters and special segments will be announced soon.

 

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Mixed Notes (Updated)

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 19, 2013

The latest mailbag is here. The print version contained an error because I (a) can't type and (b) can't read Roman numerals very well. In the reader question, the first Roman numeral should be MCLXIV, for 1,164, and the second should be MCMLXIV, for 1964. We have corrected this for the online version at least.

My review of "Saving Mr. Banks" is here.

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National Film Registry 2013 selections

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 18, 2013

Here are the 25 films chosen for preservation by the registry, and descriptions of each as provided in the announcement:

Bless Their Little Hearts (1984)
Part of the vibrant New Wave of independent African-American filmmakers to emerge in the 1970s and 1980s, Billy Woodberry became a key figure in the movement known as the L.A. Renaissance. Woodberry crafted his UCLA thesis film, "Bless Their Little Hearts," which was theatrically released in 1984. The film features a script and cinematography by Charles Burnett. This spare, emotionally resonant portrait of family life during times of struggle blends grinding, daily-life sadness with scenes of deft humor. Jim Ridley of the "Village Voice" aptly summed up the film’s understated-but- real virtues: "Its poetry lies in the exaltation of ordinary detail."

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Best of the year in TV? Best new shows?

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 17, 2013

Hitfix conducted its annual poll of TV critics, and I was one of those participating. You can see the consensus list here. I am always leery of these things, much as I am about best-movie lists, because time and obligation keep me from seeing everything I want. There are some shows my colleagues rated highly like "Broadchurch" which I liked in what I saw, but didn't see enough to add to my list. And I might have considered "Inside Amy Schumer," among others, for the new show list -- if I had remembered it. That said, six of my top 10 were consensus top 10 -- but I am content with even the choices that the poll as a whole ranked low.

In any case, here's how my list of best shows looked, with the corresponding HitFix number in parentheses. I have added some notes I made when I was assembling the list.

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"Sing-Off" tour coming to Cleveland in '14

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 17, 2013

The official word: The Sing-Off, NBC's No. 1 rated a cappella music competition, is hitting the road for the first-ever Sing-Off Live Tour! Appearing locally at PlayhouseSquare's State Theatre, Fri., March 14 at 8 pm, tickets for the tour go on sale Friday, December 20 at 10 a.m. Priced at $39.50, $29.50 & $10 Smart Seats, tickets will be available at playhousesquare.org; 216-241-6000 and the Ticket Office.

 

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Rock Hall inductees announcement

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 17, 2013

Inductees are KISS, Cat Stevens, Linda Ronstadt, Hall & Oates, Nirvana and Peter Gabriel as performers; Brian Epstein and Andrew Loog Oldham as non-performers, and the E Street Band under the award for musical excellence. The full release:

The 29th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place on Thursday, April 10, 2014 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The 2014 Ceremony will again be open to the public, as it has been for the Induction Ceremonies in Cleveland (2009, 2012) and Los Angeles (2013). This will be the first time that the ceremony will be open to the public in New York.

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"Ender's Game" DVD/Blu-ray plans

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 16, 2013

A box-office disappointment, and dogged by controversy, it was still a movie I liked somewhat.

The official word: Action icon and Academy Award® nominee Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones franchise, Star Wars franchise, Best Actor, Witness, 1985), Asa Butterfield (Hugo), Academy Award® nominee Hailee Steinfeld (Best Supporting Actress, True Grit, 2010), two-time Academy Award® nominee Viola Davis (Best Supporting Actress, Doubt, 2008; Best Actress, The Help, 2011), Academy Award® nominee Abigail Breslin (Best Supporting Actress, Little Miss Sunshine, 2006) and Academy Award® winner Ben Kingsley (Best Actor, Gandhi, 1982) star in the epic adventure Ender’s Game, arriving on Blu-ray Combo Pack (plus DVD and Digital HD UltraViolet), DVD (plus Digital UltraViolet), Video on Demand and Pay-Per-View February 11th from Summit Entertainment, a LIONSGATE company. The film will also be available on Digital HD January 28, two weeks prior to the Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD release. Based on the award-winning best-selling novel by Orson Scott Card, and written and directed for the screen by Gavin Hood (Rendition, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Tsotsi), Ender’s Game is a visually stunning and thrilling film that has been 28 years in the making.

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A weekend of passages

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 16, 2013

It would seem that Turner Classic Movies is going to have to make some big schedule adjustments, considering the passing of Peter O'Toole. Joan Fontaine and Tom Laughlin over the weekend. I will post announcements if and when they come in.

While Fontaine was a successful actress for a time, and Laughlin tapped into pop culture with some of his Billy Jack movies, the death that struck me most was O'Toole's. Here's what I said on Facebook yesterday:

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Bruno Mars is Billboard's artist of the year

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 13, 2013

Full account here. The magazine's top winners:

#1 Artist: Bruno Mars

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Watching Movies: "The Armstrong Lie"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 13, 2013

3.5 stars. Now playing at the Cedar Lee.

It seems that everything Lance Armstrong has ever touched has become, if not tainted, then certainly more complicated. that was certainly the case for Alex Gibney, an Oscar-winning documentarian who in 2009 set out to make a film with Armstrong about the cyclist's comeback attempt. Gibney had considerable access to Amstrong -- except on the biggest issue in the cycling champion's life, doping, which Armstrong denied to Gibney. The growing doping scandal put Gibney's film on hold. But, after Armstrong,  finally confessed to his misdeeds in an interview with Oprah Winfrey earlier this year, Gibbey felt Armstrong owed him another interview; that interview, along with older footage from throughout Armstrong's career and interviews with others in and out of Armstrong's circle, has led to the film bluntly titled "The Armstrong Lie."

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"House of Cards" Season 2 trailer

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 13, 2013

"Captain Phillips" DVD/Blu-ray plans

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 13, 2013

My review of the movie is here.The official word: Two-time Academy Award® winner Tom Hanks (Best Actor, Forrest Gump, 1994; Best Actor, Philadelphia, 1993) stars in the tense, action-packed thriller CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, available on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD UltraViolet™ Jan. 21 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Directed by Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum, United 93),

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is based on the true story behind the first American cargo ship hijacking in 200 years, the Maersk Alabama, and its U.S. Navy rescue in 2009.  The emotionally charged and critically acclaimed film focuses on the relationship between the ship’s captain, Richard Phillips (Hanks), and the Somali pirate captain (breakout actor Barkhad Abdi) who takes him hostage 145 miles off the Somali coast, with both men at the mercy of forces beyond their control.

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Rich and the movies - 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug'

By Ohio.com Published: December 12, 2013

This week, Beacon Journal pop culture writer Rich Heldenfels checks out The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the middle movie in the Hobbit trilogy. Read his full review here.

 

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CBS orders more "Survivor"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 12, 2013

The official word: CBS has ordered two more editions of SURVIVOR to be broadcast during the 2014-2015 season.  These will mark the 29th and 30th editions of television's longest running hit reality competition series.

 

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Ready to plan your "Christmas Story" marathon?

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 12, 2013

TBS is reminding you of it, and that the various Turner networks have shown the movie more than 275 times since 1992. And I still think, if you watch it, you should see it uncut and commercial-free, for instance through one of these. But here is the TBS pitch:

One of television's most popular holiday traditions will be back this year as TBS presents the 17th Annual edition of 24 Hours of A CHRISTMAS STORY, beginning Christmas Eve at 8 p.m. (ET/PT). Making this a particularly special year, the movie A Christmas Story is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

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CW mid-season shuffles

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 12, 2013

The official word: The CW announced its midseason schedule today, including the premiere of two new dramas, STAR-CROSSED and THE 100, and the second cycle of the hit comedy/improv series WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY?

In February, the futuristic story of an alien/human romance begins with the premiere of STAR-CROSSED on Monday, February 17 (8:00-9:00pm ET), leading into another epic romance, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

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"Treme" Season 4, complete series sets announced

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 12, 2013

The official word: Over the course of its four seasons, Treme®, David Simon and Eric Overmyer's critically acclaimed follow up to the legendary HBO® hit The Wire, has used the interweaving tales of a community of musicians, artists, politicians and regular citizens of New Orleans to shine a light on the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina and to demonstrate that the power of music and cultural traditions can overcome corruption. The Emmy®-nominated series will be released as a complete series day-and-date with the final season box set on January 28, 2014, a few short weeks after the on-air series finale. Treme: The Complete Series will be available exclusively on Blu-ray for $134.99. Pricing for Treme: The Complete Fourth Season will be $49.99 (BD) and $39.98 (DVD); it will also be available as a Digital Download.

Treme: The Complete Series begins three months after the storm-when more than half the population of New Orleans is still displaced and the city is left wrecked, muddied and cased in mold-and follows the stories of a community of locals trying to piece their lives back together. Over the course of the series, years pass and as the city slowly recovers, crime rates and corruption rise as newcomers try to capitalize on the city's rebuilding efforts. Throughout, the ordinary people of the Big Easy must band together to demand that their music, art and well-being be protected against opposing institutions. The complete series includes all 36 episodes from all four seasons, plus all of the extra features from each individual release that highlight the music, food and culture of the show. Also included is a bonus disc that offers more than a dozen music videos from the series.

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Golden Globe nominations -- tally by production

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 12, 2013

Movie  nominations at the top, TV nominations below

Movie Nominations
12 YEARS A SLAVE 7
AMERICAN HUSTLE 7
NEBRASKA 5
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS 4
GRAVITY 4
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS 3
MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM 3
PHILOMENA 3
HER 3
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY 2
ALL IS LOST 2
BLUE JASMINE 2
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB 2
FROZEN 2
RUSH 2
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET 2
BEFORE MIDNIGHT 1
BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR 1
DESPICABLE ME 2 1
ENOUGH SAID 1
FRANCES HA 1
LABOR DAY 1
ONE CHANCE 1
SAVING MR. BANKS 1
THE BOOK THIEF 1
THE CROODS 1
THE GREAT BEAUTY 1
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE 1
THE HUNT 1
THE PAST 1
THE WIND RISES 1

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Golden Globe nominations -- movie categories

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 12, 2013

1. BEST MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
a. 12 YEARS A SLAVE
Plan B Entertainment, New Regency Productions and River Road Entertainment;
Fox Searchlight Pictures
b. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS
Columbia Pictures; Sony Pictures Releasing
c. GRAVITY
Warner Bros. Pictures / Esperanto Filmoj / Heyday Films; Warner Bros. Pictures
d. PHILOMENA
Pathe, BBC Films, BFI, Canal+, Cine+, Baby Cow/Magnolia Mae;
The Weinstein Company
e. RUSH
Universal Pictures, Cross Creek Pictures, Exclusive Media, Imagine
Entertainment, Working Title, Revolution Films; Universal Pictures

2. BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
a. CATE BLANCHETT BLUE JASMINE
b. SANDRA BULLOCK GRAVITY
c. JUDI DENCH PHILOMENA
d. EMMA THOMPSON SAVING MR. BANKS
e. KATE WINSLET LABOR DAY

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Golden Globe nominations - the TV categories

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 12, 2013

I will put the movie nominees in a separate post. The Globes list the movie categories first, hence the numbers starting at 15.

15. BEST TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
a. BREAKING BAD AMC
Sony Pictures Television
b. DOWNTON ABBEY PBS
Carnival Films
c. THE GOOD WIFE CBS
CBS Television Studios in Association with Scott Free Productions and King Size
Productions
d. HOUSE OF CARDS NETFLIX
Donen/Fincher/Roth and Trigger Street Productions, Inc. in association with
Media Rights Capital for Netflix
e. MASTERS OF SEX SHOWTIME
Showtime, Sony Pictures Television, Round Two Productions,
Timberman/Beverly Productions

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Akron's Ted Sikora gets national deal for Cleveland-set comic

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 12, 2013

The official word: Cleveland stars as itself in the new globally-distributed superhero comic series, APAMA!

The creators of the series, Ted Sikora and Milo Miller, have signed a deal to be delivered worldwide digitally via Comixology, the same service that delivers downloadable comics of Spider-Man, Bat-Man, Walking Dead, and another Cleveland creation, Super-Man!

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TCM plans Eleanor Parker films for Dec. 17

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 11, 2013

The Cedarville, Ohio, native whose credits also include the original movie version of "The Sound of Music," died Dec. 9 at the age of 91. You can read an obit here.

Here's the lineup:

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3 vintage titles coming to DVD in January

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 11, 2013

They are, in order of title length, "The April Fools," "The War Between Men and Women" and "Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?

The official word:

THE APRIL FOOLS

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MTV's best movies of the year

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 11, 2013

The official word: I wanted to let you know that MTV just announced its “Best Movies of 2013” list available here: www.bestof.mtv.com. The criteria included overall quality, box office success, buzz and consideration of the Awards season horse races. All films included must have a premiere date prior to the end of this year....

According to the experts at MTV – the Top 10 Best Movies of 2013 include in rank order:
1. Gravity
2. This Is the End
3. Wolf of Wall Street
4. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
5. Iron Man 3
6. 12 Years a Slave
7. American Hustle
8. Spring Breakers
9. World War Z
10. The World's End

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SAG Awards nominees announced

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 11, 2013

From the  very long official word:  Nominees for the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® for outstanding performances in 2013 in five film and eight television categories as well as the SAG Awards honors for outstanding action performances by film and television stunt ensembles were announced this morning in Los Angeles at the Pacific Design Center’s SilverScreen Theater in West Hollywood....

The 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® will be simulcast live nationally on TNT and TBS on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at 8 p.m. (ET)/5 p.m. (PT) from the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center. An encore performance will air immediately following on TNT at 10 p.m. (ET)/7 p.m. (PT). A live stream of the SAG Awards can also be viewed online through the TBS and TNT websites, as well as through the Watch TBS and Watch TNT apps for iOS or Android. (Viewers must sign in using their TV provider user name and password in order to view the live stream.)

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CBS sets "Dovekeepers" miniseries

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 11, 2013

The official word:

CBS has ordered THE DOVEKEEPERS, a four-hour miniseries event based on Alice Hoffman’s acclaimed historical novel about four extraordinary women whose lives intersect in a fight for survival at the siege of Masada. The miniseries, which is planned for broadcast in 2015, is the first project from CBS Entertainment and CBS Television Studios’ recently announced Limited Series and Event Programming unit.

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NBC plans "Rosemary's Baby remake

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 11, 2013

The official word: NBC has greenlit the four-hour miniseries “Rosemary’s Baby,” an adaptation of the 1967 best-selling suspense novel by Ira Levin.

Production is set to begin in January in Paris.

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Sally Struthers in "Hello, Dolly!" coming to Akron

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 11, 2013

The official word: One of the most enduring Broadway classics of all time, HELLO, DOLLY! starring Sally Struthers, arrives in Akron as Broadway In Akron brings this timeless masterpiece to The University of Akron’s E. J. Thomas Hall on January 9 & 10, 2014 at 7:30PM.

Tickets for HELLO, DOLLY! Are on sale now and start at only $36.50. Tickets are available online at ticketmater.com or at the Thomas Hall Ticket Office.  To Charge-By-Phone, call 800-745-3000. Groups of 10 or more should call 855-824-3405.

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Catching up

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 11, 2013

Posts here will be more sporadic for the rest of December. The past week included the end of my teaching stint for the fall and then preparing the final grades, some extra time in church, and now I am heavily into holiday preparation and taking off chunks of time to do so. But I expect to post a few times a week, if not more often for the remainder of the year.

Anyone else watching "The Sing-Off"? I am glad to have it back and find it much more enjoyable than "The X-Factor,": "The Voice" and other elaborate musical efforts.

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AMC sets "Breaking Bad," "Walking Dead" marathons

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 5, 2013

The official word: AMC announced today it will air two back-to-back marathons of its Emmy® Award-winning original dramas Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead.  A four-day Breaking Bad marathon, which kicks off at noon ET/PT each day from Friday, December 27 through Monday, December 30, will feature every episode from the series’ critically acclaimed five seasons, making AMC the only destination for cable subscribers to watch every Breaking Bad episode for free.  On New Year’s Eve day, December 31, at 9am ET/PT, AMC will air a two-day marathon of The Walking Dead.  Beginning with the pilot, episodes will air back-to-back in chronological order until 5am ET on January 2, 2014. ...

  The Walking Dead will return for the second half of its fourth season at 9pm on Sunday, February 9, followed by a new episode of Talking Dead at 10 pm.
 

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ICYMI: Jimmy Kimmel name-drops Akron, local TV station

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 5, 2013

The sketch, by the way, is based on a survey that was originally released in May.

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"Fruitvale Station" on Digital HD 12/31, DVD/BD and other platforms 1/14

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 4, 2013

You can read my review of the movie here. The official word: Anchor Bay Entertainment and The Weinstein Company are proud to announce the new Digital HD date of the critically acclaimed FRUITVALE STATION on December 31, 2013.

The film premiered to high praise at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, winning both the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film, the first film since 2009’s Precious to simultaneously capture both awards. It also played in the Un Certain Regard section at this year’s Festival de Cannes, taking home the Prize of the Future award. On Monday evening, the Independent Filmmaker Project awarded Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan for the 2013 Gotham Independent Film Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director and Breakthrough Actor awards, respectively. The NYFCC will honor Ryan Coogler with the Best First Film award on January 6, 2014.

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A few words about "Mob City"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 4, 2013

Tonight at 9, TNT premieres the series set among '40s cops and mobsters in Los Angeles, with two episodes running tonight and the next two Wednesdays. This is my kind of stuff. I have read the John Buntin book "L.A. Noir" which inspired the TV series, not to mention Paul Lieberman's articles about the real-ife L.A. "gangster squad" -- which led to a book and then, later, the "Gangster Squad" movie -- which disappointed me even more because I am so interested in the period.

This should all have made me a prime viewer for "Mob City," which has some of the look and none of the energy of the period it deals with. In fact, during a key scene in tonight's telecast, the drawn-out and draggy dialogue put me to sleep.

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"Fast & Furious 6" sales to benefit Paul Walker charity

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 4, 2013

The official word: 2013—Universal Pictures today announced that a percentage of proceeds from the upcoming home entertainment release of Fast & Furious 6 will be donated to Paul Walker’s non-profit Reach Out WorldWide, a network of professionals with first responder skill-sets who augment local expertise when natural disasters strike in order to accelerate relief efforts. Walker founded the organization after witnessing deficiencies in local activations following the January 2010 Haiti earthquake, and he remained passionately devoted to the charity.

“With the passing of Paul, the world has lost a man who spent a great deal of his life in service to others. We share in the deep grief of his family, friends and the countless fans who love him,” said Donna Langley, Chairman, Universal Pictures. “We keep Paul’s memory alive and honor his legacy through continued support of Reach Out WorldWide, the non-profit he founded to give hope to those who must rebuild after they have experienced natural disasters.”

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"House of Cards" returns Feb. 14

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 4, 2013

The official word: The second season of the Netflix original series, from Media Rights Capital, “House of Cards,” premieres Friday, February 14, 2014. All 13-episodes of the season starring Academy Award® winner Kevin Spacey (“Horrible Bosses,” “American Beauty,” “The Usual Suspects”) and Golden Globe® nominee Robin Wright (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Forrest Gump”), who both received Emmy® nominations for their performances in the first season, will be available for members to watch instantly in all territories where Netflix is available.

From director David Fincher (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Social Network”), award-winning playwright and Academy Award® nominated screenwriter Beau Willimon (“Farragut North,” “The Ides of March”) and Academy Award® winner Eric Roth (“Forrest Gump,” “Munich,” “The Insider”), this critically-acclaimed drama slithers beneath the curtain and through the back halls of greed, sex, love and corruption in modern Washington D.C.

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"Five-O" airing episode about Japanese interments in World War II

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 3, 2013

A note from series co-star Daniel Dae Kim arrived today. The textt:

Dear Television Reporter:

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"Sound of Music" soundtrack on sale today

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 3, 2013

I know, the production airs live on NBC Thursday. Wouldn't want to delay a chance at product cross-promotion, would we? The album includes "studio recordings for all of the musical numbers that are performed by the cast members in the live broadcast." The full official word:

In stores today, Sony Masterworks releases the companion soundtrack to NBC’s live broadcast of “The Sound of Music,” based on the classic stage musical. The three-hour live production, starring six-time Grammy Award winner Carrie Underwood as Maria von Trapp, will air on December 5, 2013.

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Lady Gaga 2014 tour includes Cleveland show in May

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 3, 2013

Tickets for the Cleveland show go on sale Dec. 16. The official word: One of the top global touring acts of our time, having sold nearly 4 million tickets during her first 3 tours, Lady Gaga is hitting the road in support of her new album ARTPOP. Live Nation announced today that Lady Gaga’s artRave: The ARTPOP Ball will begin May 4th in Ft. Lauderdale. The tour
will include several cities that have not hosted Lady Gaga before as well as cities
that missed her tour earlier this year following a hip injury, which forced her to cancel. The announcement of artRave: The ARTPOP Ball tour follows the immediate sell-out of a historic residency at NYC’s Roseland Ballroom from March 28 - April 7, 2014. Lady Gaga will perform the final seven shows at the venue before it closes down forever, and simultaneously set the record for the most consecutive shows by any
artist at the Roseland. Tickets for artRave: The ARTPOP Ball will go on sale beginning Monday, Dec. 9, 2013.
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Littlemonsters.com members will have first access to tickets. Members who RSVP to the event listings for the shows they wish to attend within LittleMonsters.com will be provided a unique code and may order online while quantities last. For all shows going on sale on December 9th, members will be able to purchase tickets starting Tuesday, December 3rd at 2:00 p.m. through Thursday, December 5th. For the shows going on sale December 16th members will be able to purchase tickets starting Tuesday, December 10th through Thursday, December 10th. There will be a ticket limit of four (4) per member.Citi is the official credit card of the Lady Gaga’s artRave: The ARTPOP Ball tour. Citi cardmembers will have access to presale tickets beginning Wednesday, December 4th at 10 a.m. through Citi’s Private Pass Program. For complete presale details visit: www.citiprivatepass.com.

Tickets for artRave: The ARTPOP Ball will go on sale starting Monday, December 9th at 10 a.m. General Admission floor tickets are $85.00. Reserved seating also available for $35.00, $49.50, $85.00 and $200 (plus applicable service fees). Tickets on sale at www.livenation.com.

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"Day of the Doctor" on DVD, Blu-ray on Dec. 10

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 3, 2013

BBC Home Entertainment will  release Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary Special, Doctor Who: The Day of The Doctor, in a Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD combo pack or DVD on December 10, 2013.

Bonus features include:

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Lemurs? Why not? Remember the meerkat craze?

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 2, 2013

Amy Schumer tour announced, includes Cleveland and Columbus shows

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 2, 2013

The official word: Be sure to get some of Amy Schumer’s comedy when she hits the road next year. Tickets for Inside Amy Schumer’s Back Door Tour will go on sale this Friday, December 6 at 10:00 a.m. (local time) with tour info and links to purchase tickets available at http://www.cc.com/comedy-tours and www.amyschumer.com. This is Schumer’s second national tour with Comedy Central which kicks off on Friday, January 24, 2014 in New York City at Best Buy Theater and travels to more than 30 cities (full tour schedule at the end of this release). The tour is produced by AEG Live.

“Inside Amy Schumer” launched on April 30, 2013 and ranked as a top three program on cable among M18-34 and M18-24 in its Tuesday 10:30P-11P timeslot during its first season. The series is currently in production for its second season and set to debut on Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on Comedy Central. “Inside Amy Schumer,” created by Schumer and Daniel Powell, who executive produces along with head writer Jessi Klein, provides an intimate look into the mind of comedian Amy Schumer, who, through a series of scripted vignettes, stand-up comedy, and man- on-the-street interviews, explores topics revolving around sex, relationships, and the general clusterf*ck that is life.

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An "Almost Human" warm-up

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 2, 2013

A clip from tonight's telecast. The show has been somewhat uneven, but I am still watching.

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Telemundo to mark anniversary of Jenni Rivera's death

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 2, 2013

The official word: Telemundo announced its special programming to commemorate the anniversary of the tragic death of blockbuster Hispanic singer Jenni Rivera. Starting Thursday, December 5, the network’s reporting team will travel to the state of Nuevo León in Mexico to cover tributes organized by family and fans of the Diva de la Banda for “Un Nuevo Día”(7AM/6 C), “Al Rojo Vivo con María Celeste” (5PM/6 C) and “Noticiero Telemundo” (6:30PM/5:30 C).


The commemorative programming will include an investigative segment on “Enfoque con José Díaz-Balart,” Sunday, December 8 at 12PM/11AM C, about the plane crash that took the Hispanic superstar’s life.  That evening, at 8PM/7 C, the network will present “Jenni Siempre Vivirá,” a Noticias Telemundo special hosted by María Celeste Arrarás and José Díaz-Balart in Monterrey. The special will include revelations about the circumstances of Rivera’s accident, exclusive interviews with family and close friends, the testimony of pilots and rescue workers, and a recreation of the star’s final days. Following the program, Telemundo host Mónica Noguera will present one of the singer’s most popular and acclaimed performances, “La gran señora en vivo” (9PM/8 C), held originally at Los Angeles’ Nokia Theater in November 2010. Between songs, Rivera spoke about her artistic influences and her relationship with her fans.

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Sam Champion going to Weather Channel

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 2, 2013

The word from ABC News President Ben Sherwood:

I’m writing with important news:

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