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Mixed Notes - Wednesday

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 11, 2012

Ready for lots of Fat Albert? Not that there could ever be just a little Fat Albert. Anyway, the announcement:

Hey Hey Hey! Shout! Factory today announced that Fat Albert and the Cosby kids™: The Complete Series is coming to DVD on July 31, 2012! This 16-DVD box set features nearly 40 hours of content, including all 110 episodes of Fat Albert and the Cosby kids (36 episodes), The New Fat Albert Show (24 episodes) and The Adventures of Fat Albert and the Cosby kids (50 episodes), of which seasons 2 - 4 have never before been released on DVD before. Special features include commentary and a documentary on the history of Fat Albert by Bill Cosby and a 20-page book featuring an essay by Dr. Gordon Berry, the show’s educational advisor.

ABC tonight premieres yet another example of its love-hate relationship with the word "bitch" (loves the idea of it in a title, hates to actually use it: see also "GCB"). "Don't Trust the B--- in Apt. 23" is a dueling-buddy comedy, with a tone that fits with "Modern Family" and "Suburgatory." I found the pilot somewhat funny on first viewing, and funnier the more I thought about it. A second episode was even more enjoyable.

Kelsey Grammer's series "Boss" returns in August. The official word:

The STARZ Original Series “Boss” is set to premiere its second season on Friday, August 17th at 10pm ET/PT. Starring Kelsey Grammer in his Golden Globe®- winning role as fictional Chicago Mayor Tom Kane, the series also stars Connie Nielsen, Hannah Ware, Jeff Hephner, Kathleen Robertson, Troy Garity and Rotimi. Produced by Lionsgate, “Boss” earned a Golden Globe® nomination for Best Drama Series for its debut season and is currently shooting season two in Chicago.

Joining the ensemble cast as series regulars this season are Jonathan Groff (Spring Awakening, “Glee”) as Ian Todd, a smart and ambitious young advisor to Kane, and Sanaa Lathan (“Nip/Tuck,” A Raisin in the Sun), Alderman Ross’ strong-willed and politically savvy Chief of Staff. Special guest star Tip Harris, who is known internationally as rapper T.I. (“American Gangster,” “Takers”), will be featured as Trey, a former gangbanger with designs on a career in City Hall. Additional guest stars include Amy Morton (Up in the Air, “Private Practice”) as State Senator Catherine Walsh, who has been defeated in her bid for Governor three times, but is now determined to win. ...

In season two of “Boss,” Kane ferociously beats back the physical symptoms of his illness with high doses of medication. But this comes at a cost -- experiencing heightened psychological manifestations of the disease. Without his longtime advisors Stone and Kitty, Kane is also forced to reconfigure his inner circle. Surrounded by strangers and without much time left, he acts quickly to protect and repair his legacy by cutting out the cancers within the political machine. But as corrupt heads roll and his list of enemies grows, Kane's virtuous actions begin to erode the very foundation of power he's worked a lifetime to build. In order to maintain it, Kane must govern as he always has—ruthlessly.

Ken Burns's latest documentary, "The Dust Bowl," arrives in November. The word about that:

 PBS announced today that THE DUST BOWL, a new two-part, four-hour documentary by Ken Burns, will air November 18 and 19, 2012, 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings). The film chronicles the environmental catastrophe that, throughout the 1930s, destroyed the farmlands of the Great Plains, turned prairies into deserts and unleashed a pattern of massive, deadly dust storms that for many seemed to herald the end of the world. It was the worst manmade ecological disaster in American history.

“The Dust Bowl was a heartbreaking tragedy in the enormous scale of human suffering it caused. But perhaps the biggest tragedy is that it was preventable,” said Burns. “This was an ecosystem—a grassland—that had evolved over millions of years to adjust to the droughts, high winds and violent weather extremes so common to that part of the country. In the space of a few decades at the start of the 20th century, that grassland was uprooted in the middle of a frenzied wheat boom. When a drought returned, all that exposed soil took to the skies, and people worried that the breadbasket of the nation would become the next Sahara desert. If we show the same neglect to the limits of nature now as we did then, it is entirely possible that this could happen again.” ...

THE DUST BOWL is also a story of heroic perseverance against enormous odds: families finding ways to survive and hold on to their land, national and local government programs that kept hungry families afloat and a partnership between government agencies and farmers to develop new farming and conservation methods. THE DUST BOWL chronicles this critical moment in American history in all its complexities and profound human drama. It is, in part, oral history, using compelling interviews with 26 survivors of those hard times—what will probably be the last recorded testimony of the generation that lived through the Dust Bowl. Filled with seldom-seen movie footage, previously unpublished photographs, the songs of Woody Guthrie and the observations of two remarkable women who left behind eloquent written accounts, the film is also a historical accounting of what happened and why during the 1930s on the southern Plains.

In conjunction with the broadcast, PBS is partnering with The GRAMMY Musem to celebrate the centennial of Woody Guthrie’s birth. As with other Burns films, PBS will also partner with other organizations to expand the conversation around the film, as well as screening clips around the country building up to the broadcast. There will also be an extensive education initiative, reaching students in schools around the country.

A preview website for THE DUST BOWL is available at pbs.org/dustbowl.

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