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Friday Notebook

By admin Published: July 31, 2009

MLB Network looks back at Canton's Thurman Munson during "MLB Tonight" on Monday. The announcement:

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Thursday Notebook

By admin Published: July 30, 2009

You can find my review of "Funny People" here. It covers my problems with the movie, and some of the things I liked. But even with the things I liked, they often consisted of material I admired, or ambition I respected, more than stuff that made me go to people and  say, "You have to watch this."

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Indians Trade Cliff Lee: What Do We Do Now?

By admin Published: July 29, 2009

The Indians have traded their best pitcher, a Cy Young winner. If this season was not done before this, it is now. I will still be at the ballpark now and then, because we already bought the tickets. But it's going to be for the atmosphere, which I don't expect to be great this weekend in any case. But when I ask what to do now, I mean, how do we fill the time that might have been spent watching the Indians? No point in supporting a team which has traded two Cy Young winners. I think we'd all be better off watching baseball movies instead of games. Here are a few recommendations:

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Thinking About Seeing "Funny People"?

By admin Published: July 28, 2009


Before or after seeing it, you might want to take a look at the "Undeclared" episode called "The Assistant." It's on the DVD, and has been posted piecemeal on YouTube. The first part is here. When you link to that, you'll see links to the other portions.

It's of note because part of it has Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and writer-director Judd Apatow working together. Sandler and Rogen co-star in "Funny People," written and directed by Apatow; the Sandler-Rogen relationship in "The Assistant" (co-written by Rogen and directed by Apatow) echoes in interesting ways in "Funny People." In addition, in the movie Rogen's character works as Sandler's assistant, and there's some comedy built around Sandler's dealings with his assistant on "Undeclared."

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Fox Retools Fall Premiere Dates

By admin Published: July 28, 2009

As usual, you should have filled in your calendar in pencil.
New announcement after the jump.

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New "Glee" Video

By admin Published: July 28, 2009

Not as exhilarating as the pilot, perhaps, but also out of the context of the episode in which it appears. But at least it's another taste:

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I Still Hate "More to Love"

By admin Published: July 28, 2009

Based on the commercials, I built up a strong dislike for this reality series, which premieres on Fox tonight. Then I saw the first episode. Ire undiminished. After the jump, my review, which appeared in Sunday's Beacon Journal.

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Leonard Cohen to Cleveland

By admin Published: July 27, 2009

Do I have to explain how much I love Leonard Cohen? Superb songwriter, fascinating singer. Still have my ancient copies of the first solo album, a collection of his poems, and things like "In My Secret Life." Even if no one ever covered "Hallelujah," he should still be considered one of the greats. Here is the announcement of the local gig:

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Kenworthy, Gill Contend for "Regis" Guest Slot

By admin Published: July 27, 2009

OK, so it's a blatant way to promote local stations carrying "Live With Regis & Kelly," and to give the stations more reason to promote the daytime show. And it seems a way to get some easy guest co-hosts while R&K go on vacation.
In any case, Pete Kenworthy and Kimberly Gill are among the contenders in a "From Local to Live Co-Host for a Day Search." They're up against 18 other anchors -- nine men and nine women -- including, among others, Jeff Varner, one of the contestants on "Survivor: The Australian Outback." Five men and five women will be announced as co-hosts on Wednesday's show.

You can see videos of the contestants and vote here.
You can vote once today and once tomorrow, when the polls will close at 10 p.m.

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Ben Silverman Exiting NBC

By admin Published: July 27, 2009

You can read the announcement, which focuses on Silverman's successor, here. While the network has had some shows I like very much, including "The Office" and "30 Rock," overall it has been disastrously unsuccessful in recent years. I mean, "Kath & Kim"? Revamps of "Knight Rider" and "Bionic Woman"? And this Jay Leno prime-time move in the fall is a nod to penny-pinching and an exhausted creative process. See stories here and here. The second link has a great graphic:

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Monday Notebook

By admin Published: July 27, 2009

The death of Alexis Cohen, showcased above, made the wires because she had a brief period of fame thanks to "American Idol."
Not as a great singer, of course, but as one of those raging bulls snorting and snarling after being rejected by the show. Such fits of temper remain memorable because they are so often delusional: the singer's high opinion of his/her self goes against what the judges and the TV audience actually hear. Cohen's self-importance was made even more evident because she seemed so generally unknowing; rejected as a singer, she declared she would go into "actressing."

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E. Lynn Harris, R.I.P.

By admin Published: July 24, 2009

The Associated Press is reporting that the author has died. If you are unaware of his enormous body of work, his Web site is here.

I interviewed Harris by telephone back in May before he gave a talk and reading at the Akron-Summit County library. It was a briskly business-like interview, but a good one. He spoke vigorously and openly, and was looking ahead as well as enjoying his current place in literature. It was one of those interviews where I thought it would be interesting to talk to him much more at another time. Which now, alas, there won't be.

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NFL Draft Goes Prime Time

By admin Published: July 23, 2009

Announcement below. Some skepticism here: I suspect it won't be able to end at the scheduled time, since the announcement had an asterisked note saying "end times approximate." And pushing it into prime, as well as on a school night, takes away yet another opportunity for families to bond. ("Daddy, why does picking that running back with a history of felony arrests make our team's management a bunch of flippin' hoseheads?") Not to mention that it will now be airing opposite some shows that people want to watch. (Hello!  Thursday night!)

I would much rather it be in prime time on Saturday (when it will now end at 6 p.m.), and with the first round. There's seldom much new to watch on a Saturday night. And moving it out of daytime takes away my need to come up with a list of "chores" that need to be done indoors, where I can keep an eye on the draft, instead of outside.

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Obama Press Conference Viewing Down

By admin Published: July 23, 2009

So says Nielsen, which provided the charts above (sorry about the small image)  and below and this summary:

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"Family Feud" Auditions in Cleveland Fri.

By admin Published: July 23, 2009

Here's the official word:

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Thursday Notebook

By admin Published: July 23, 2009

Some inspirational verse:

"We took cognizance of the new synthetic folksiness that saturated certain programs and the excursions into political waters by these 'I-don't-know-anything-but-I-know-what-I-think" guys."

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R.I.P., Taco Bell Chihuahua

By admin Published: July 22, 2009

From People.com, this "exclusive":

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Of Doritos, Eating and Cooking

By admin Published: July 22, 2009

The other day, I had the most sublimely perfect, splendid, utterly edible Nacho Cheese Dorito I had ever had in my life.

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Tuesday Notebook

By admin Published: July 21, 2009

A column about tonight's "Primetime: Family Secrets," which deals with gender change and a Massillon family, is here.

I welcome your thoughts about the first night of "Torchwood" in the comment section. And hope you will stick around for the second through fifth nights. Considering how many people called me yesterday to find out where BBC America is on their cable, folks were curious about the program.

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New Shaq TV Show

By admin Published: July 20, 2009

New Cleveland Cavalier Shaquille O'Neal will be taking up TV time outside local sportscasts in August. From ABC today:

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"It's Garry Shandling's Show" on DVD

By admin Published: July 20, 2009

The complete series is coming on Oct. 20. Full announcement after the jump. This is not "The Larry Sanders Show" but an earlier (1986-1990) series with Shandling playing himself; created by Shandling and Alan Zweibel, it was very funny and quite adept at playing with TV's narrative conventions, a la "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show." It first ran on Showtime, but Fox carried repeats for a couple of years, although it was more enjoyable in its commercial-free, Showtime form.

Here's a clip with the classic opening theme:

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Frank McCourt, R.I.P.

By admin Published: July 19, 2009

The great storyteller has died. He leaves behind a wonderful book, "Angela's Ashes," which was terribly funny and equally heart-breaking; which said a lot about the perils of the drink and the unfairness of Irish society; which was a joy to read aloud and important enough to think about quietly. Loved the book. Liked the successor, "'Tis," far less; it was more labored, a bit lost, perhaps true to that time in McCourt's life but not as notable a written work as "Angela's Ashes." The third book, "Teacher Man," I have started and put aside and not finished. I will try to do so sometime, because there has to be good McCourt story or two in it. But when I think of McCourt fondly, and I will, the reason will be "Angela's Ashes."

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Walter Cronkite, R.I.P.

By admin Published: July 17, 2009

The anchorman has died at the age of 92.  A column I wrote about him for the Beacon Journal is here. CBS has announced a tribute to Cronkite to air on Sunday night. Here's the release:

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"Torchwood: Children of Earth"

By admin Published: July 17, 2009


Airs Monday through Friday on BBC America; on DVD on July 29.

In one of my many attempts to explain why "Torchwood: Children of Earth" is so good, I described it as a smarter "24." But that doesn't quite do it. Yes, it's a thrill ride on a par with "24" at full throttle, and with just five episodes, "Torchwood: COE" moves much more intensely and efficiently than a "24" season. But the thing that makes "Torchwood" so very good has more to do with its fixation on consequences -- the consequences of great power, and of great responsibility. ...

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Fix the Emmys: 2009 Edition

By admin Published: July 16, 2009

I've already posted some notes, as well as writing a brief column covering some of the same ground for tomorrow's Beacon Journal. Now that I have complained, I am going to be -- wait for it -- pro-active and offer four ways the Emmys can make themselves better. To wit:

1. Kill the "best miniseries" category. Miniseries are the polkas of the Emmys. It's nice that "Generation Kill" (and therefore David Simon) have a chance of winning a best something after "The Wire" was so often snubbed. But even as Emmy was expanding other categories to make room for nominees, it came up with just two miniseries nominees, "Gen Kill" and "Little Dorrit." That suggests that there's not enough going on in the field to make it viable awards material. So retool the movies category to include minis (which Emmy does with some of the awards anyway).

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Emmy Nominations

By admin Published: July 16, 2009

After the jump, the nominations list. But where are the nominations for "The Shield"? It had a superb last season, a brilliant finale and some great performances. "Friday Night Lights" got one nomination -- for casting, even though no one in its fine cast was nominated. HBO was the most nominated network, with 99, although it continues to benefit from categories where there's not a lot of competition, such as TV-movies and miniseries; "Grey Gardens" alone had 17 nominations and "Into the Storm" another 14. "Generation Kill" had 11, and is one of only two nominees for best miniseries.

Most nominated show: "30 Rock" with 22. Most nominated drama: "Mad Men," 16.

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Wednesday Notebook

By admin Published: July 15, 2009

A couple of recommendations: "The Hurt Locker," new movie, which I saw yesterday, and "Torchwood: Children of Earth," on BBC America next week. I expect to write at greater length about both. Here's a peek at the first seven minutes of "Children of Earth":

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Springsteen Adds Cleveland, Other Shows

By admin Published: July 15, 2009

Cleveland, one of 25 new dates, is in the Quicken Loans Arena on Nov. 10. Tickets go on sale Aug. 22. Complete announcement after the jump.

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Russell Brand Return to VMAs

By admin Published: July 14, 2009

I thought he was funny in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall,"
not in his standup or at the Video Music Awards. But that Jonas Brothers bit got MTV a whole bunch of attention, so he'll be hosting again on Sept. 13. Full announcement post-jump.

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"Lebowski" Documentary Coming to DVD

By admin Published: July 13, 2009

The trailer is above. The announcement is after the jump.

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"Fame" TV Series to DVD

By admin Published: July 13, 2009

The first two seasons, in a nine-disc set, arrives Sept. 15, not long before the big-screen premiere of the new "Fame" movie. Details from the announcement after the jump.

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Monday Notebook

By admin Published: July 13, 2009

Busy-looking week ahead, starting with a screening of the new "Harry Potter" today. And am coming off a weekend that included seeing "The Proposal," a few hours at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, some dipping into "Star Trek" movies on Blu-ray and what-not. Notes after the jump.

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Friday Notebook

By admin Published: July 10, 2009

"The Menopause Years"? That, seriously, is the subtitle of a planned DVD release of four "Cagney & Lacey" reunion movies from the '90s. That and other topics -- including the watch shown above -- after the jump.

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Who Will Get the Michael Media Treatment Next?

By admin Published: July 8, 2009

We're in the wind-down of the Michael Jackson saga -- I actually saw a non-Michael story on CNN a little while ago, although "The View" is doing a "Remembering Michael" thing. So here's the question: Whose death will next get this degree of coverage? ...

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The Michael Jackson Memorial

By admin Published: July 7, 2009

You know how ambivalent I am about Michael Jackson. You can see that in my previous post. You know how I think many people have made great sacrifices and contributions, without the kudos bestowed on someone like Michael Jackson. I've written about that, too. And today I generally avoided the run-up to Michael's memorial, and the blather afterward. (And I hope the copyright on the memorial service doesn't mean it will be turned into profit-taking.) Still, I watched the memorial on TV, and here's my summation:

A good funeral makes you feel both the joy someone brought to the world, and the pain his or her passing causes. A great funeral makes you miss someone you didn't even know, to feel what those closest to the dead have felt. Michael Jackson didn't always get a good memorial service. But at times he got a great one.

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Monday Notebook, New "90210" on DVD

By admin Published: July 6, 2009

How was your weekend? Mine was all right. Friday night the bride and I saw the Indians not only play but win, 15-3, with a great performance by Shin-Soo Choo -- 4 for 5, 2 HR, 7 RBI. (Not a bad weekend for Koreans, in fact, between Choo's achievements and Korean-American golfer Anthony Kim's performance.) Had a work shift Saturday, hitting the Kent Heritage Festival and encountering the Matsiko Children's Choir of Uganda.

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Songs for an American Day

By admin Published: July 4, 2009

Not talking about patriotic tunes (although there's a reference to Independence Day in "Tears of Rage"). More about songs whose roots are deep in U.S. soil. And "Whipping Post" because it would be so much fun to dance around a grill while it was blasting from the speakers in the house.

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I Hate "More To Love"

By admin Published: July 2, 2009

I have not yet seen the Fox series, which premieres July 28. But all it takes is the promos for me to believe it's the height of hypocrisy, and that Fox's declarations that the show is "inspirational" are ridiculous. ...

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Thursday Notebook

By admin Published: July 2, 2009

Today's mailbag column, with questions about the end of "Soap," a pregnancy on "The Bold & The Beautiful" and how to connect your VCR to your digital-to-analog box, is here. And since there was some delay in getting last week's mailbag online, you can find it here. That one includes some FAQs for the mailbag.

I read with some interest the new Todd Purdum piece on Sarah Palin from Vanity Fair. Can't say it changed any of my thinking about her. But it did make me think of some other recent reading: "Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus," a book by Rick Perlstein. It was part of my vacation reading, and has lots of parallels between Palin's view of political tactics and Goldwater's. It's also a good book even without that context.

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Got Dizzy Feet?

By admin Published: July 2, 2009

That's the name of the new foundation announced on last night's "So You Think You Can Dance." The goal is to help "talented underserved youth" in dance. Katie Holmes is involved (and, as previously reported, will perform on "SYTYCD's" July 23 telecast). Full announcement after the jump.

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Karl Malden, R.I.P.

By admin Published: July 1, 2009

He was an Oscar winner, a perennial on TV, a stage actor, a friend and repeat co-star of Marlon Brando, just about always believable and natural in his work. And his believability meant that, for decades, most people took his word on this:

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New "Big Brother" Cast, High-School Gimmick

By admin Published: July 1, 2009

The cast will be broken into four HS-style cliques. And there will be a mystery houseguest. Announcement after the jump.

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Wednesday Notebook

By admin Published: July 1, 2009


 

Tom Shales has offered a defense of TV critics. Too bad it's short and overloaded with strained jokes.

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