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Rich and the movies: Remembering Pete Seeger

By Ohio.com Published: January 31, 2014

This week Beacon Journal pop culture writer Rich Heldenfels remembers folk icon Pete Seeger and gives some recommendations on how to find him on DVD.

 

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Blind Boys of Alabama coming to Kent Stage

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 31, 2014

The official word: Music Legends, Grammy & Gospel Music Award Winners, The Blind Boys of Alabama will appear in concert on Saturday, March 22nd, 2014 at the historic Kent Stage.

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For your viewing amusement

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 30, 2014

The latest ritual with Super Bowl ads is to release them online before the Super Bowl, since they're going to get leaked anyway. And some ads have been released. But now we also have this snappy variation -- a tongue-in-Anna-Kendrick's cheek piece about not getting to do a Super Bowl ad. Which is almost enough to get me to try this ale.

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A night at "Draft Day"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 30, 2014

Earlier this week I saw the Browns-connected movie "Draft Day," which does not premiere until April 11. The studio had a screening of the movie to build buzz about the film much the way the trailer above is expected to do as people are football-conscious because of the Super Bowl.

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Showtime's "60 Minutes Sports" sets Eddie George profile

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 30, 2014

I know, he gets seen plenty. But here's the official word:

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Eddie Izzard coming to Cleveland

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 30, 2014

"From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series" trailer and notes

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 30, 2014

OK, so it doesn't have Clooney or Salma Hayek. But the casting makes me grin. Robert Patrick! Don Johnson! Wilmer Valderamma! The official word: El Rey Network released today the first official trailer from the supernatural crime saga, “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series,” premiering March 11th at 9pm ET/PT. The network's first scripted original on Robert Rodriguez’s new genre-busting cable network, the series is based on the thrill-ride film of the same name. The 10-episode serialized drama is centered around bank robber, Seth Gecko and his violent, unpredictable brother, Richard “Richie” Gecko, who are wanted by the FBI and Texas Rangers Earl McGraw and Freddie Gonzalez after a bank heist left several people dead. While on the run to Mexico, Seth and Richie encounter former pastor Jacob Fuller and his family, whom they take hostage. Using the family RV to cross the border, chaos ensues when the group detours to a strip club that is populated by vampires. They are forced to fight until dawn in order to get out alive. The series features D.J. Cotrona (Dear John, G.I. Joe: Retaliation) who plays Seth Gecko; Zane Holtz (Holes, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) as Richie Gecko; Jesse Garcia (Quinceañera, Sons of Anarchy) who plays Texas Ranger Freddie Gonzalez, a new character created for the series; Don Johnson (Django Unchained, Nash Bridges) who joins in a recurring role as Sheriff Earl McGraw; Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgment Day, The X-Files) as Jacob Fuller; Madison Davenport (Save Me, Shameless) as Kate Fuller; Brandon Soo Hoo (Tropic Thunder, Ender’s Game, Incredible Crew) as Scott Fuller and Eiza González (Lola: Érase Una Vez) as Santánico Pandemonium, and Wilmer Valderrama (That 70’s Show) as Carlos.

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Mixed notes

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 30, 2014

Rich and the Movies: The greatest movies you'll never see

By Ohio.com Published: January 28, 2014

What happens when a buzzed-about movie fizzles into oblivion? This week, Beacon Journal pop culture writer Rich Heldenfels discusses the book The Greatest Movies You'll Never See, which chronicles some big-name movies that never landed on the screen.

 

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Remember the King Family? DVD set is coming

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 28, 2014

Remembering Pete Seeger

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 28, 2014

The music icon has died at the age of 94. He was pervasive as a performer, friend and influence: consider just the Weavers, Dylan, the Byrds, two Guthries, Springsteen. He was part of the blacklist and in the middle of controversies about "Hootenanny" and the Smothers Brothers. He was a major figure in the American environmental movement. I am reading Robert Hilburn's biography of Johnny Cash, and there's Seeger, scolding Cash for showing up late at the Newport Folk Festival, but also supporting Cash's work. On my DVD shelves are two involving Seeger, an Australian concert from the '60s and the fine "Power of Song" documentary. On the record shelves, an old copy of Seeger's "greatest hits," among them "Abiyoyo," which my sons listened to when young. For this post, I present some YouTube clips of Seeger and Seeger's music through the years:

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"Amazing Race" all-stars cast

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 27, 2014

And one team won't last long. The official word:

CBS announced today the 11 all-star teams returning for another sprint around the globe and the opportunity to win the $1 million dollar prize, on the new season of THE AMAZING RACE, premiering Sunday, Feb. 23 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Phil Keoghan (@philkeoghan) is the host.

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Sundance Channel becoming Sundance TV

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 27, 2014

The official word: Sundance Channel announced today that it will rebrand itself as SundanceTV in February leading up to the premiere of the network’s newest original scripted series, “The Red Road.” The network’s rebrand supports its commitment to creating fresh and daring original programming. The new design adapts to stand out in today’s multi-platform digital TV ecosystem and will feature a streamlined logo in a modern sans serif font and neutral palette.  The updated logo reflects the creativity, ambition and innovation of the network’s original content.

“We have made great strides in the past few years with our original programming and we see this as the perfect moment to mark that shift with a new name and fresh logo,” stated Monica Bloom, SundanceTV’s SVP of Marketing. “SundanceTV aims to create television that is as remarkable as the best independent films, and this rebrand embodies that position with confidence.”

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Youngstown fundraiser offers dinner with Ed O'Neill, Boom Boom Mancini

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 27, 2014

A$25 chance to win the dinner can be purchased online or by phone up to the Super Bowl kickoff.

The official word: As part of its 2014 fundraising drive, the Youngstown Playhouse--America's oldest, non-profit community theater--is sponsoring a "Hollywood Goes Youngstown" raffle that also celebrates two of its city's most famous sons.

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DirecTV and 45/49

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 27, 2014

A couple of letters have come in from DirecTV subscribers who watch PBS shows on Western Reserve Public Media, about the seeming absence of the channel. Short answer: You can get it, but only if you have DirecTV in HD. Here's the note on the Western Reserve website:

Thank you for your patience while Western Reserve PBS and DirecTV have been working to resolve reception issues. We have finally implemented a solution that should solve the problem. The solution, however, requires you to have high-definition equipment and to receive DirecTV's high-definition channels. If you have any related questions or concerns, please contact Western Reserve PBS by phone at 1-800-554-4549 or by email at directv@westernreservepublicmedia.org.

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A racism triple play

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 24, 2014

If you ever want to believe that race is no longer a big issue in this country (as some commentators and Supreme Court justices would like you to believe), I offer three stories from this week:

Yvette Nicole Brown talks about racism in entertainment, and her career, as she prepares to take part in the University of Akron's "Rethinking Race" program.

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WMJI's Lanigan sets retirement in March

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 24, 2014

The station made note of it in the midst of a Moondog ball announcement, to wit:

This year’s Moondog Coronation Ball will also include special tributes to Cleveland radio legend and longtime Majic 105.7 morning man John Lanigan. Lanigan will be retiring following the Moondog concert after almost 40 years on the Cleveland airwaves - the last 27 years of which were spent on the Lanigan & Malone show on WMJI. He was also inducted in the National Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago last November.

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Talking movies -- in a book

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 24, 2014

"Hot in Cleveland" plans animated episode, and another live one

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 24, 2014

The live show will be paired with one on "Soul Man." The official word: TV Land announced today a LIVE television event: one hilarious hour with two LIVE back-to-back season premieres of original sitcoms – “Hot in Cleveland” and “The Soul Man.” “Hot in Cleveland” will go LIVE on Wednesday, March 26th at 10pm ET, and “The Soul Man” will follow at 10:30pm ET.

“The Soul Man,” a spin-off of “Hot in Cleveland,” stars Cedric “The Entertainer” as Reverend Boyce Ballentine, a character that originated as Elka Ostrovsky’s (Betty White, “Hot in Cleveland”) pastor. Their characters will again cross over into each other’s worlds during the live shows. The West Coast will get the live-to-tape versions beginning at 10pm PT.

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Harry Connick Jr. is the greatest "American Idol" judge of all time

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 23, 2014

I know, we are not talking about a big pool of people here. But the retooled "Idol's" best move has been the inclusion of Connick on a panel with Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban.

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Watching stuff: "Rake"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 23, 2014

Premiering tonight after "American Idol," the comedy-drama "Rake" stars Greg Kinnear as a lawyer who is skilled in the courtroom and a mess in his personal life. That's a TV trope going back to at least 1965 (Peter Falk in CBS's "The Trials of O'Brien"), and on through shows like "L.A. Law," "The Practice" and "Shannon's Deal" (a show I very much miss). Based on an Australian series, "Rake" does not really advance the form but it's somewhat watchable, and the premiere has some amusing moments.

Kinnear's character, Keegan Deane, is in hock to his bookie, homeless and wearing out his welcome as a guest of an old friend (John Ortiz) , unable to pay his assistant (Tara Summers), and scrounging for clients. Yet it appears that he can keep up his bar tab and still is a charmer to some women. He often sees clients as only a meal ticket -- although, in the premiere, his representing an accused serial killer (Peter Stormare) does at least momentarily lead him to put aside his amoral impulses to try to Do The Right Thing.

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Something else to blame on Jimmy Haslam

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 23, 2014

You live in Ohio. You root for the Browns, Of course you're drinking. An Ohio Department of Commerce release, below, claims spending went up more than actual consumption, but that just means (a) prices went up, (b) people thought they would feel better by downing pricey stuff and (c) the continued woes of the Browns meant people just kept drinking at the same pace as last year. (It didn't drop, did it?)

 Anyway, the official word:

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"Nebraska" DVD/Blu-ray plans

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 21, 2014

Loved this movie. Bruce Dern is excellent as is June Squibb, who early in her career was at the Cleveland Play House. The official word:

Called “poignant and hilarious”(Roger Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service), “genuinely touching” (Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly) and “damn near perfect”(Peter Travers, Rolling Stone), the “brilliant, wisely observed and wryly funny” (Claudia Puig, USA Today) NEBRASKA makes its Blu-ray, DVD and VOD debut on February 25, 2014 from Paramount Home Media Distribution. The film will arrive on Digital and Digital HD February 11.

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Mixed notes Monday

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 20, 2014

Spent part of Sunday watching "Her." Some of it quite good, including the performances by Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johannson. The ending was sweetly touching, and the whole thing raised plenty of questions about emotional connections and physical ones in technological times like these. And those questions go beyond whether an operating system can have an emotional connection.  (In more contemporary terms, is a Facebook friend really a friend if you never see each other in person?) It took a good bit of time to connect, though, because director Spike Jonze was so deliberate in his pace.

Also went through some more of the fourth season of "Downton Abbey," which arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on Jan. 28. One episode to go, then I will have some non-spoilery thoughts. (I have avoided an episode-by-episode discussion because I have fallen prey to binge-watching, and have seen stuff most American viewers have not, and cannot remember what is where.) I remain hooked, though with reservations; there's a lot of soap in this season.

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A tough day for family-TV fans

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 16, 2014

Two deaths from classic TV have been reported today: Dave Madden, best known as Reuben Kincaid on "The Partridge Family," and Russell Johnson, The Professor on "Gilligan's Island."

I remember Madden first from "Camp Runamuck," a comedy from 1965-66 which was really funny to my 14-year-old self. But here's a clip of him talking about "Partridge":

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Mr. Olbermann looks at the Browns

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 16, 2014

TCM's "31 Days of Oscar" themes

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 16, 2014

The festival, beginning Feb. 1, also includes a new special described after the theme list. Which is:

Feb. 1: Best Picture nominees from 1939

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Some love for the Cramps

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 16, 2014

The band, which has roots in Akron, got a showcase in Rolling Stone when Lorde wore a Cramps shirt for her cover photo. (Technical difficulties won't let me post the photo but you can see it here.) The prompted the mag to explain the band to readers in this article. The piece also embeds some Cramps songs. Bandleader Lux Interior died in 2009, and here's Malcolm X Abram's piece:

  To a couple of generations of music fans, he was Lux Interior, lead singer for campy punk and rockabilly icons the Cramps, seldom seen without his guitarist and wife of 37 years, Poison Ivy.

But to Mike Purkhiser, Lux Interior was just Rick, his older brother by nine years (their eldest brother Ron, 67, lives in Florida) and friend.

Mike Purkhiser, a musician who played with the Action and the Walking Clampetts and is currently sound engineer for Beatles tribute band 1964, remembers the man behind the patent leather pants and mascara. Lux Interior, who was 62, died Feb. 4 of a pre-existing heart condition at a hospital in Glendale, Calif.

Purkhiser remembers the young man who used to watch, listen and absorb the antics of Ernie ''Ghoulardi'' Anderson and Pete ''Mad Daddy'' Myers, the talented artist who always loved music and shared it with his younger sibling, though not always with the most noble intentions.

''He always had a lot of records, and when I was a kid, I was always coming up in his room and I'm sure I was pestering him, so he would make me promise that if I could be quiet for 24 hours, he'd give me a record,'' Purkhiser said.

''And I'd think, 'Man, that's a really good deal, I don't have to say nothing and I'll get a record?' And it didn't dawn on me until years later when I thought 'Damn him, he was just trying to get me to shut up for a day.' I did get a lot of records,'' he said laughing.

Purkhiser says all three brothers shared a dark sense of humor.

''Rick was definitely the one into Ghoulardi and Mad Daddy, and basically what the Cramps became is what he was into his whole life,'' he said.

When Rick left Akron for California in the late '60s, he was still an artist, while Mike was already playing guitar in bands. Mike recalls a letter he received from Rick.

''Basically he said 'I want to do what you're doing, I want to play in a band and make music like you do,' '' he said.

''And I thought that was pretty cool because I always knew him as an artist and as a music lover but not as a musician or performer.''

While in California, Rick met Ivy, and in 1973 the new couple moved back to Akron while deciding what to do with themselves. They worked odd jobs, saw movies and concerts at the Akron Civic Theatre and scoured garage sales and flea markets for rare albums and 45s. They would bring their finds to the family home and excitedly listen to the new vinyl treasures.

When Mike Purkhiser thinks of his brother, he says he thinks of both Rick and Lux, because Erick Lee Purkhiser and Kristy Wallace were Lux Interior and Poison Ivy for so long and the personas were so strong, most folks probably think the pair went grocery shopping in leather pants and 6-inch stilettos, or slept hanging upside-down like vampire bats. But though they wrote kitschy, provocative songs such as All Women Are Bad and Beat Out My Love, the couple's love for each other was more storybook romance than horror movie.

''They seemed very much like soulmates,'' Purkhiser said. ''They just loved each other, they were always seen together and they might have had disputes between the two of them, but I never heard them say a bad word about each other the way some couples do.''

During that transitional time, the pair started the Cramps, and Purkhiser recalls watching early rehearsals with drummer Miriam Linna shortly before they moved to New York and joined the punk scene centered around CBGB's. Though Purkhiser doesn't remember the first time he saw the Cramps onstage, he fondly recalls his band, the Action, playing a few gigs with them at the fabled club in 1977. Interior's wild stage antics managed to shock even the hardened NYC punk crowd, though Purkhiser was less surprised.

''It was so Ghoulardi, so Mad Daddy, it was that whole kind of schtick and I knew that was what Rick was all about and Ivy, too. So that didn't surprise me. The music surprised me because it was so raw, and I was the Beatles fan and he was the Stones fan, he liked the raw stuff. But later I realized what it was all about — it was about the feeling and the emotion just like those early records were. They weren't really doing anything too different than the early rockabilly or blues records, they just put their own twist on it,'' he said.

Mike Purkhiser said his brother and sister-in-law never aspired to be rock stars but were wholly dedicated to the rockin' beast they created.

''I think if they never got any notoriety out of it and they were just bound to play basements the rest of their lives, they would have been happy doing that. It wasn't about the money or about the fame. They just wanted to play rock 'n' roll.''

Purkhiser says it's hard to believe his big brother is actually gone.

''I was his first fan. He was pretty much preaching the rock 'n' roll gospel at a young age, like 'listen to this record' or 'listen to that record,' and I just always looked up to him,'' he said.

''I just thought he was the greatest, he was so inspiring and so alive. It's hard to think of him as dead right now because he was so alive. It just seems like he was somewhere else right now. And it's the same with Ivy, I swear I never heard those two down,'' he said.

Purkhiser said Rick and Lux were two sides of the same coin, and he has found some comfort in reading the many comments online praising his brother and the band for touching fans' lives. But while he knows the most indelible images of his brother will always be Lux Interior writhing on the floor in black leather briefs or hopping like a bunny on speed while singing to mental patients at Marin County Hospital (a popular video on YouTube) while Ivy bangs out three-chord rock, he also hopes people realize that underneath all the makeup, leather and B-movie schtick were two real people.
Purkhiser said that when he would take friends to meet Lux and Ivy, they would usually assume they were going to step into a horror-movie funhouse where the pair would play the creepy hosts. But unfailingly, those folks would come back and tell Purkhiser how surprised they were that the two were so ''normal.''
''They were so kind and so down to earth, and you'd expected that when you went to see them it would be some kind of horror show or they would act real creepy. But they were just very, very genuine people.''

 

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Oscar nominations

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 16, 2014

The Oscars have a handy list of the nominations online here. Some omissions: Tom Hanks and Robert Redford in best actor, Oprah Winfrey for acting, "Fruitvale Station" in the major categories; "Stories We Tell," "Blackfish" and "The Armstrong Lie" in documentary.

On the plus side: everyone from "Nebraska," and the documentary nomination for "20 Feet From Stardom."

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Katy Perry tour includes Cleveland show

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 15, 2014
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The official word: International superstar Katy Perry will bring her highly anticipated PRISMATIC WORLD TOUR with special guest Kacey Musgraves to Quicken Loans Arena on August 14th at 7:00 p.m. Her 46-city tour is presented by Goldenvoice, a division of AEG Live.   She will be touring in support of PRISM, which debuted at number one on The Billboard 200 and remains in the Top Ten three months after release. The platinum album has given Katy her biggest ever single with "Roar," while "Dark Horse" just became her lucky 13th Top Ten hit on The Billboard Hot 100. More information regarding on-sale dates will be announced soon.

 

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Planning ahead? CBS sets dates for "Under the Dome," "Extant"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 15, 2014

The official word: CBS today announced premiere dates for its two scripted summer event series—UNDER THE DOME and EXTANT, both produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Television.

 

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New "Girls" soundtrack available

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 14, 2014
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The official word: Atlantic Records has announced the release of "GIRLS VOLUME 2: ALL ADVENTUROUS WOMEN DO... MUSIC FROM THE HBO® ORIGINAL SERIES," the musical companion to the acclaimed comedy series. The album arrives digitally at all DSPs on February 11th.

In addition, "GIRLS VOLUME 2: ALL ADVENTUROUS WOMEN DO... MUSIC FROM THE HBO® ORIGINAL SERIES" is available for pre-order beginning today via iTunes (https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/girls-vol.-2-all-adventurous/id795414070?ls=1). All pre-orders will receive an instant download of Jenny Lewis' "Completely Not Me," heard this past weekend during HBO's two-part season premiere of the hugely anticipated third season of Girls (track links & embed codes below).

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"Best Man Holiday" coming to DVD/Blu-ray

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 14, 2014
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I have seen the film and very much enjoyed it. The official word:

A tight-knit group of college friends reunites for the first time in 14 years for an unforgettable celebration in The Best Man Holiday, coming to Blu-ray™ Combo Pack including Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD with UltraViolet™ on February 11, 2014, from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.  The all-new sequel to 1999’s beloved ensemble comedy The Best Man finds all nine friends together again for a reunion packed with laughter, love, and surprises. The Blu-ray Combo Pack comes with exclusive bonus features that include an alternate ending and deleted & extended scenes.

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Mixed Notes Tuesday

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 14, 2014

On Monday I began a new round of teaching freshman composition at the University of Akron; I have two sections, and spent some time on other teaching-related activities, so I was away from the blog. Some notes and links on recent news:

"19 Action News" could be chasing a juicy story about allegations of misbehavior at a local business -- only the allegations are in a lawsuit against WOIO. The Plain Dealer story including WOIO's response is here, with the court filing here.

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This week's video chat: "Rewind This"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 10, 2014

NBC announces mid-season premieres, dates

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 10, 2014

The official word: NBC has announced premiere dates for five of its upcoming midseason series — comedies “About a Boy” and “Growing Up Fisher,” dramas “Believe” and “Crisis,” and alternative program “American Dream Builders.”

Created for television by Jason Katims (“Friday Night Lights,” “Parenthood”), “About a Boy” — based on the best-selling Nick Hornby novel — will premiere in its regular time period Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 9 p.m. ET/PT leading out of “The Voice.” A few days earlier, however, the first episode of the show will preview in primetime during the Olympics on Friday, Feb. 21 (10:30 p.m.) immediately following NBC’s coverage of the Winter Games from Sochi, Russia that night.

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Rock Hall sets free events for MLK Day

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 10, 2014

The official word: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is pleased to host the 13th annual FREE admission day in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, January 20, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The museum will offer a day filled with live performances, education programs and family activities that will highlight how people use music to find their voice and create a sense of community. Visitors are invited to experience the Rock Hall's many exhibits that showcase how Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees and other artists have used popular music to communicate ideas to a wide audience and bring about social change. The day of events is sponsored by KeyBank.

Main Stage acts include:

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"Under the Gunn" sets contestants

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 10, 2014
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The official word: Lifetime’s newest fashion competition series, Under the Gunn (#UnderTheGunn), premieres January 16, 2014, at 9pm ET/PT.  The series’ Emmy® Award-winning host Tim Gunn selected three past Project Runway luminaries, Mondo Guerra, Anya Ayoung-Chee and Nick Verreos, to each lead a group of designers to fashion stardom.  They will have to nurture and inspire their band of hopefuls week-after-week to ensure their designers’ looks impress the program’s judges, including designer Rachel Roy; celebrity stylist Jen Rade, creator of some of the most iconic red carpet looks in Hollywood; and TV fashion correspondent and Marie Claire Senior Fashion Editor Zanna Roberts Rassi.  Under the Gunn will feature guest judges Heidi Klum, Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), musician Macklemore, actors Jaimie Alexander (Thor), Zoey Deutch (Vampire Academy), Zendaya (Disney Channel’s Shake It Up), designers Georgina Chapman (co-founder of Marchesa) and Trina Turk, and costumer Wendy Partridge, and special appearance by Sarah Hyland (Modern Family, Vampire Academy).

 

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"Devious Maids" return date set

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 10, 2014

The official word: Lifetime’s critically-acclaimed hit series Devious Maids (#DeviousMaids, #DeviousArmy), returns for a second season on Sunday, April 20, at 10PM ET/PT.  The series is executive produced by Marc Cherry and Eva Longoria, and stars Ana Ortiz, Dania Ramírez, Roselyn Sánchez, Edy Ganem and Judy Reyes as five maids with ambition and dreams of their own while working for the rich and famous in Beverly Hills.  Longoria will direct the series’ eagerly anticipated season two opener, marking her television directorial debut.

 

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Name changes

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 9, 2014

The Military Channel is becoming the American  Heroes Channel (and broadening its brand in the process) and IFC is no longer the Independent Film Channel but just plain IFC. (This will not surprise the people who know that the letters in ESPN no longer stand for anything, either.)

The IFC news:

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ICYMI: The ice desk

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 8, 2014
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Yes, it was cold. We know.

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Did "The Real World" change the world?

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 8, 2014
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My colleague Kate Aurthur has a fine piece on Buzzfeed about the importance of "The Real World: San Francisco." That season, you may recall, included Pedro Zamora (pictured), an activist with AIDS, who had a major impact on the portrayal of gay men in the media.

The titlle of that piece called "San Francisco" "the show that changed the world." After I posted a link to it on Facebook, another colleague called that title "a laugh line." A couple of  significantly younger friends then weighed in, defending the show. Said one: "It really was the first instance my generation had ever seen of such social issues being discussed on television by real people our age. ...  It was powerful social commentary and made us ponder serious things, when at that time in our lives, we were all otherwise still out having fun, working, and starting our adult lives."

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"Dallas Buyers Club" DVD/Blu-ray plans

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 7, 2014

Lots of Oscar talk around this, especially for Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. The official word:

Golden Globe Award® nominee Matthew McConaughey (Mud, Magic Mike) delivers a career-defining performance as Texas cowboy Ron Woodroof in the “hugely entertaining” Dallas Buyers Club, the inspiring and powerful story of an imperfect man’s fight for survival during an uncertain time in America (Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal). Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (The Young Victoria) Dallas Buyers Club arrives on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack including Blu-ray™, DVD, & DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet™ and On Demand on February 4, 2014, from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

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Chelsea Handler bringing tour to Cleveland

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 7, 2014

The official word: Superstar comedian, author and talk show host, Chelsea Handler, is set to embark on a national stand-up comedy tour in support of the release of her fifth book, Uganda Be Kidding Me.  Handler will bring her highly-anticipated tour to Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday, March 6th at 8:00 p.m. 

 

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Welcome back, "Justified"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 7, 2014

“Justified” is one of my favorite TV shows; I ranked it fifth in my list for 2013 for the Hitfix critics’ poll, where it ranked 12th overall. It has superb lead and supporting performances (Walton Goggins is formidable as Boyd Crowder, and Patton Oswalt had a fine guest turn last season as Constable Bob), and the writing blends humor and violence, brilliance and stupidity, light and dark, often in the same character.

In other words, it is very much in the vein of the late, great Elmore Leonard, whose work inspired the series and who had a hand in the making of it. Leonard was a masterful creator of characters and that, too, was one of the hallmarks of the series. Raylan Givens, played by Timothy Olyphant, is a blend of sharpness (and sharp edges) and puzzlement, the latter especially when it comes to dealing with family. And few shows have come up with as many compelling psychos as “Justified.”

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The Internet as horror show

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 7, 2014

Some stories for your consideration, two about women writing on the web here and here, and one on the issue of anonymity in commenting.

Much as I love working online, I am not blind to some of the problems of the form, particularly the nastiness coming from commenters, especially those who can hide behind anonymity.

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ICYMI: "Downton" themed Valentine's Day dinner dance

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 7, 2014

There are already about 100 reservations for the event, which will accommodate a maximum of 330. The official details:  Northeast Ohio is in for an evening fit for the British aristocracy when Western Reserve PBS hosts a Valentine's Day dinner-dance inspired by the wildly popular Masterpiece Classic program "Downton Abbey," which is currently airing on the station. The charitable event will be held Friday, Feb. 14, beginning at 6 p.m. at Sheraton Suites Akron-Cuyahoga Falls and will include a five-course Edwardian feast, a live dance performance and instruction, dancing to live music and a silent auction. Attendees are encouraged to dress in the attire of the 1920s era.

 

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"Antiques Roadshow" announces 2014 tour

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 6, 2014

The events will be used for episodes in the 2015 season. The official word, including tour stops:

ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, PBS's most-watched primetime series, has announced its Summer 2014 Tour destinations: Bismarck, North Dakota; Santa Clara, California; Birmingham, Alabama; Austin, Texas; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Chicago, Illinois; New York, New York; and Charleston, West Virginia.

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Angela Davis! Why -- oh, never mind

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 6, 2014

New York Post columnist Naomi Schaefer Riley wrote a column pinned to a poster featuring the images of Gloria Steinem and Angela Davis. You can read it here.and see the poster here.

Small problem: while Steinem was portrayed, the other woman was not Davis. It was, instead, Dorothy Pitman Hughes. The Post pulled the column for a time (Jim Romenesko posted the cached link, above) and now has a revised version of it. You can read that here. Wouldn't want a fact to get in the way of a screed, would we?

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Watching stuff: "Intelligence," "Killer Women"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 6, 2014

Molly is committed to finding the truth and seeing justice served. She's even willing to break some rules to get it done.

That’s a line from ABC’s description of “Killer Women,” a new series starring Tricia Helfer and it’s almost enough by itself to make me never watch the show. Can we possibly count all the rules-breaking justice seekers who have populated television over the last 50 years, not to mention their movie mates? Can we not just sit and wait for the moment when “the rules” work against “the truth” and someone’s going to have to break "the rules” so to get “justice served” – usually with a big can of whipass on the side?

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Nicholas Sparks multi-movie DVD set coming Jan. 28

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 6, 2014

The official word: On January 28, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the Nicholas Sparks Limited Edition DVD Collection.

Available for the first time in one collection, the giftset features seven films based on the best-selling author’s novels, including Safe Haven, The Lucky One, Dear John, Nights in Rodanthe, A Walk to Remember, Message in a Bottle and The Notebook.

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"Joanie Loves Chachi" coming to DVD on Feb. 4

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 6, 2014

How's this for a pop artifact? The official word: Romance is in the air just in time for Valentine’s Day when JOANIE LOVES CHACHI: THE COMPLETE SERIES arrives on DVD February 4th from CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Media Distribution. Starring Scott Baio and Erin Moran in their roles as young teenagers in love, the new collection marks the very first time the series becomes available on DVD.


Created by Garry Marshall (Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley) and Lowell Ganz (Laverne & Shirley) JOANIE LOVES CHACHI: THE COMPLETE SERIES includes all 17 episodes of the classic show in a three-disc collection.

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"Swamp People" returns Feb. 3

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 6, 2014

The officialn word: Louisiana Alligator hunting season roars into action once again, and this time our beloved swampers will face the most vicious and aggressive gators ever. Season Five of SWAMP PEOPLE returns to HISTORY, premiering Monday, February 3 at 9PM ET/PT.

Season Five of SWAMP PEOPLE follows the fearless swampers of Southern Louisiana as they attempt to fill their alligator tags while under attack from the deadly beasts below the surface. After last year’s storm shortened the culling season, big gators are back with a vengeance and have become more brash than ever - boldly encroaching on residents of the bayou. But hunters have drawn a line in the swamp, vowing to stop their deadly march – no matter the cost.   

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Lifetime schedules Gabby Douglas movie, new "Trip to Bountiful"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 6, 2014

The official word: Lifetime celebrates Black History Month in February with two all-new original movies featuring major award-winning casts, including The Gabby Douglas Story, starring SAG Award nominated actress Regina King (Southland), Golden Globe and Emmy winner S. Epatha Merkerson (Law & Order), Imani Hakim (Everybody Hates Chris), Sydney Mikayla (Whitney) and Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas; and The Trip to Bountiful, featuring two-time Emmy winner, Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee, and SAG and Tony winner Cicely Tyson (The Help), Emmy and Grammy nominee Vanessa Williams (Ugly Betty), Golden Globe nominee and Grammy winner Blair Underwood (In Treatment) and SAG nominee Keke Palmer (CrazySexyCool).

 

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"House of Cards" Season 2 trailer!

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 6, 2014

Welcome back, "Downton Abbey"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 4, 2014

You can read my column about the series and the new season here.

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Writer whose work inspired "The Butler" coming to Cleveland

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 3, 2014

"Lee Daniels' The Butler" will be shown in conjunction with Wil Haygood's appearance. The official word:

Acclaimed Washington Post reporter Wil Haygood chronicled the compelling story of Eugene Allen’s incredible life, from growing up in the segregated South to serving as White House butler to eight presidents.

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Another trailer of interest: "Draft Day"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 3, 2014

Oh, yes

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 3, 2014

Vivian Maier exhibit, documentary coming to Northeast Ohio (Revised)

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 3, 2014

The photographer is quite a story, as you can see here. Here's the official word on the exhibit:

The Cleveland Print Room is proud to present the Ohio premiere of Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows, on display in our gallery from January 10 through February 23, 2014.

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Tyson documentary on DVD in February

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 3, 2014

The official word: Controversial and charismatic former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson bares it all in Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, his hit one-man stage show directed by Academy Award® Nominee and personal friend Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing, HBO's When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts). Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth will arrive on DVD with Digital Copy ($14.98) on February 11, 2014 (timed to Black History Month) and includes "Conversations," a featurette including interviews with Lee and Tyson, along with executive producer/writer Kiki Tyson and executive producer Jon Kilik, that discuss the story behind Undisputed Truth.

Raw, honest, powerful and full of humor, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth features "Iron Mike" recounting his life's highs and lows in his signature candid style. Filmed before a live audience at Broadway's Imperial Theatre in New York City, this HBO Films® presentation finds Tyson opening up about his troubled youth, landmark boxing career, key people in his life, controversies, time in prison, self-examination, family and new beginnings. Reviewing the stage production, the Los Angeles Times called Tyson "a riveting stage presence with compelling stories to tell" and the New York Daily News described his show as "entertaining" and "fascinating," adding that he "is gifted with iron-clad charisma."

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Stuff from my time off

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 2, 2014

Besides family activities, including a trip to Virginia for Christmas, I have not been completely removed from pop culture.

Have been doing some reading, in a scattershot way. Matt Zoller Seitz's "The Wes Anderson Collection," for one, which I am going through carefully; lots to digest, including Anderson's many "Hmmm"s and lavish illustration. But I wish every filmmaker was the subject of a book like this, with a highly detail-oriented interviewer probing the body of work. Colum McCann's * "Dancer," his consideration of Nureyev, which is dazzlingly written. and I am reading in tandem with "Anderson." And possibly in triple form, since I also dipped into Reza Aslan's "Zealot." about Jesus, and it has me wanting to keep going.

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Back at it

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 2, 2014

As should be obvious, I took a long holiday break, confining my media commentary to shorter notes on Twitter and Facebook. (And if you are not keeping up with me there, feel free to join in now.) I will have some posts later today. For now, here's today's mailbag, and let's all give a big welcome to "Community," which returns tonight to NBC.

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