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Thursday Notebook

By admin Published: July 31, 2008

Got home fine Tuesday night but have been playing catch-up ever since, from reading e-mail to writing my first post-vacation HeldenFiles (in tomorrow's Beacon Journal) to mowing the lawn this evening. Nothing too dramatic on TV to write about, and I haven't been to the movies for some time. Hope to have something of substance by tomorrow.

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Rounding Third and Headed for Home ...

By admin Published: July 29, 2008

is, of course, Chuck Berry's brown-eyed handsome man. And me. Heading back to Akron this afternoon.

For the last week I've spent most of my time moving, in Firesign Theatre's phrase, forward into the past. Boxes of books, notebooks, memories -- things I have mentioned here, and some things I haven't yet. You want a taste of history, take a look at a Texas A&M yearbook from 1916.

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Don't Forget "Mad Men"

By admin Published: July 27, 2008

Season two begins tonight on AMC. The first season ended in late 1960, the second season picks up in early 1962. The clothes are still sharp, the tension is still pervasive. There are new issues and ideas in the world, and the series deals with them -- and its many characters -- with great skill. Just don't expect answers to all the questions from the first-season finale in tonight's telecast.

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More From the Road

By admin Published: July 27, 2008

I keep meaning to post but I have been spending most of the day going through boxes (my father was a saver) and then going to sleep early. And through it all, thinking about the past -- and not only my own.

How, for instance, do you not pause over a 1962 booklet called "Family Shelter Designs"? It's not a camping guide. Put out by the Office of Civil Defense, it offered instructions on building a fallout shelter -- eight different designs "for construction in backyards and basements, and for use by families who do not have access to community shelters or who prefer that their shelters be at their homes."

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Barbara Walters, "Audition"

By admin Published: July 25, 2008

I have been having some technical difficulties that have kept me from posting, but the hours have hardly been empty. In between helping my mother go through some things, I finally caught up on a bit of TV reading: Barbara Walters' autobiography, "Audition."

At close to 600 pages, it's a long read and at times an exhausting one. I was far more interested in the stories from her early life and work than in the series of anecdotes about celebrities and heads of state.

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Road Trip

By admin Published: July 22, 2008

I am now in Virginia, visiting my mother and helping her out with some things as she mends from hip replacement surgery. She is doing quite well, but it will be good to be around so she has plenty of time and assistance as she recovers.

Air travel today wasn't too bad. Packed planes but some leg room, at least on the first flight of the day. Second flight: Next to a tall man playing solitaire on his laptop. Not conducive to elbow or leg room. But on the first flight, had a nice chat with a former Canton resident now living in Las Vegas. (An aside on what it takes to get a reasonably priced plane ticket: I flew from Akron to Atlanta to Newport News, not exactly a direct route; she went from Akron to Atlanta to Las Vegas, even more indirect. As I said, this is how you keep a price under control.)

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NBC Underscores Conan "Tonight" Plan

By admin Published: July 21, 2008

He'll take over June 1, with Jimmy Fallon taking over "Late Night" just before that. Release today:

Conan O'Brien, the dominant late-night host at 12:35 a.m. (ET) for the past 14 seasons, will succeed Jay Leno as host of the preeminent series on late-night television, NBC's "The Tonight Show," in June of 2009. Beginning in Spring 2009, Jimmy Fallon will step in as the "Late Night" host. The announcement was made today by Ben Silverman, Co-Chairman, NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios and Marc Graboff, Co-Chairman, NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios. "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" will begin on Monday, June 1, 2009 (11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m. ET) with Leno's last "Tonight Show" telecast airing Friday, May 29, 2009.

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Monday Notebook

By admin Published: July 21, 2008

Alan Sepinwall has details from the press tour about "Friday Night Lights" here.

From Sunday's Beacon Journal, some thoughts about heroes on the small and big screen here.

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Television Critics Association Awards

By admin Published: July 19, 2008

Big night for "Mad Men." For one account of the evening itself, go to Sepinwall's blog. Full anouncement after the jump ...

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CW Premiere Dates

By admin Published: July 19, 2008

Things start Sept. 1. Details after the jump. First, the release from The CW, then the release about the shows another company is putting on the network on Sunday nights.

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Rethinking Paul Newman, Part 2: "Harper"

By admin Published: July 19, 2008

Detective writer Ross Macdonald once said that his novel "The Moving Target" "is a story clearly aspiring to be a movie." And it did lead to a movie, "Harper," which is significant in the Newman catalog -- but not, to modern eyes, a very good one. ...

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"Dr. Horrible" Act III

By admin Published: July 19, 2008

Now I'm going to work on my deltoids of compassion.

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Friday Morning Notebook

By admin Published: July 18, 2008

My "Mamma Mia!" review is here.

My "Dark Knight" review is linked in a post below. It's looking more and more like a gigantic hit.

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This is Otis ...

By admin Published: July 17, 2008

Coming to DVD in August is a series of movies in special "I Love the '80s" editions, each with a four-song CD (although it appears that each has the SAME four-song CD). Included in the series: "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "Some Kind of Wonderful," "Footloose," "Top Gun" and "Pretty in Pink." When the DVDs landed on my desk today, I of course had to pause and open "Pretty in Pink" for one of The Greatest Scenes in Cinema History.

I am, of course, talking about Duckie (Jon Cryer) lip-synching to Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness." And, if I am going to relive that moment, I have to share, so here's the clip via YouTube:

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"The Dark Knight" and the Star System

By admin Published: July 17, 2008

My review of "The Dark Knight" is now available online here.

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"Dr. Horrible" Act 2

By admin Published: July 17, 2008

Better even than the first ...

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Good Morning Emmy

By admin Published: July 17, 2008

The prime-time nominations can be found here. After the jump, I have posted the number of noms for indivdual shows, and the "supplemental" information -- details about nominees' Emmy history.

Based on a glance, I am very pleased with the attention paid to "Mad Men" and "Pushing Daisies." I thought "John Adams," the top nom-getter was a snore, but it's able to run up its total by being in miniseries categories, where the competition is usually light. Stunned at the disrespect for "The Wire."

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ABC Sets Fall Premiere Dates

By admin Published: July 16, 2008

Full list after the jump. ...

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Dr. Horrible: Best Musical of the Summer

By admin Published: July 15, 2008

Over the course of the day, I have tried unsuccessfully to access the first act of "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog," which went online today. I even did so in between watching the Fox All-Star Tribute To Yankee Stadium, Yankee Legends, Yankee Starters, Yankee Fans, Yankee Franks and, time permitting, "The Clang of the Yankee Reaper" -- which in other hands might have been the MLB all-star game. But it wasn't until I saw Sepinwall had found other avenues that I was finally able to watch it. And embed it, above.

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Petersen Cutting Back on "CSI" After Mid-Season: EW Report

By admin Published: July 15, 2008

William Petersen will stop being a regular after the 10th episode, says Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello. Also, Gary Dourdan will be seen at least one more time, and Jorja Fox will make several return appearances. Details after the jump.

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Tuesday Morning Grins

By admin Published: July 15, 2008

"Nashville Star" Results

By admin Published: July 14, 2008

End of the road ...

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Sarah! Jimmy! No!

By admin Published: July 14, 2008

Sarah Silverman and Jimmy Kimmel have broken up. I don't usually get into celeb romances in this space (although I do address them in my print HeldenFiles) but this one had its moments, notably those hilarious "...Matt Damon" and "...Ben Affleck" videos. (If you haven't seen them, you can find them on YouTube and on ABC.com.) I like Silverman. I wasn't a big fan of Kimmel, but I kept thinking I might be missing something if Silverman was with him.

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Your Thoughts?

By admin Published: July 14, 2008

I have some notes about "Generation Kill" below, and a few words about "The Closer" and "Saving Grace" here. (They are a few items in.) So what do you folks think? Did you watch?

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"The Dark Knight": Yes, He's Amazing

By admin Published: July 14, 2008

I saw "The Dark Knight" this morning -- review to come later -- and Heath Ledger is indeed as remarkable as the trailers and the buzz have indicated. Having seen a lot of his previous work, I kept wondering where within himself he found this performance. It's a radical departure, and suggests that he might have done other great things had he lived. But given the trickiness of the acting life, he might never have found a part this good again, either. So if he had to go, this is the kind of performance you want to go with.

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"Generation Kill": "Band of Brothers" Meets "Deadwood"

By admin Published: July 12, 2008

I have seen four of the seven parts of "Generation Kill," HBO's Iraq-war miniseries based on Evan Wright's book of the same name. (It premieres Sunday.) I expect to watch the rest, because I greatly admire what I have seen. While it hews closely to Wright's book, the miniseries has some of qualities writer-producer David Simon ("The Wire") has brought to other projects, from a love of the detail of life to the refusal to make things too easy for the audience. Like with "The Wire," "Generation Kill" drops you into the middle of life in progress; like real life, it declines to pause to explain everything -- recognize and understand the people as you go along. I won't deny that I occasionally referred to HBO-provided crib sheets (and to Wright's book) for some details, but most of the time I just kept following along the screen action until things got clear. And well before that fourht part, I was loving it.

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Evelyn Keyes, R.I.P.

By admin Published: July 12, 2008


L.A. Times photo of Evelyn Keyes in 1984

The actress with an impressive love life has died. Filmography here. I read her memoir, "Scarlett O'Hara's Younger Sister," many years ago and was impressed both by her offscreen adventures -- husbands included John Huston and Artie Shaw -- and her clear sense of both her career and her self.

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Tony Snow, R.I.P.

By admin Published: July 12, 2008

The commentator and former White House spokesman has died. He was 53 and had fought cancer off and on for years.

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CBS Has a (Shaggy) Sense of Humor

By admin Published: July 11, 2008


KoKo, a two-and-a-half-year old Shiba Inu belonging to CBS Photo Vice President Francis Cavanaugh, was among the many canines tuning into last night’s GREATEST AMERICAN DOG broadcast. (Photo from CBS)

Here's the release on "Greatest American Dog" ratings:

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Sid & Marty Krofft Go MySpace

By admin Published: July 10, 2008

They will offer TV highlights, some fresh content and -- judging from what I saw on there this morning -- promotion for the "Land of the Lost" movie, coming in 2009. Details after the jump.

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"The Office" Mini-Episodes

By admin Published: July 9, 2008

Don't miss "Kevin's Loan," a four-part series of abbreviated episodes beginning Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern time on NBC.com. ...

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"Burn Notice": The Second Season

By admin Published: July 9, 2008

Years ago, Calvin Trillin suggested that a good political slogan was "Never Been Indicted." I feel similarly about "Burn Notice." Even though its second season, beginning Thursday on USA, is an improvement over the first, I still end up thinking, "Not the worst show." Or, "Roughly the same quality as 'In Plain Sight,' maybe."

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"You've Got the Feed, We've Got the Food"

By admin Published: July 9, 2008

The fall season is still a ways off, but I've been thinking about it, including "Friday Night Lights" in the DirecTV/NBC era. (One thing whetting my appetite: A report from EW.com about two actors being demoted from regulars to recurrers. I can understand the issue from a storytelling standpoint, but it still makes me curious about how the show will look in the fall.)

Anyway, I am reasonably convinced that I won't be able to wait for "FNL" until it gets from DirecTV to NBC. But I am even more certain that I don't want to get DirecTV; too many financial and logistical issues.

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It's Official: The Osbournes' Variety Show

By admin Published: July 9, 2008


(2007 photo, from the Daily Mail)

Yep, Ozzy, Sharon, Kelly and Jack with "musical performances, comedy sketches and game-show competitions with the Osbournes’ unique blend of humor and outrageous sensibility." Six hour-long episodes ordered, no air date announced. The Fox boilerplate is after the jump.

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Live "Criss Angel" Telecast July 30

By admin Published: July 9, 2008

Fourth season begins July 23, with the live episode, "Building Implosion Escape," the following week. Full announcement after the jump.

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"Big Bro" Back to Basics

By admin Published: July 8, 2008

No casting stunts in the new season, which begins Sunday.

"To celebrate 10 seasons of BIG BROTHER we are going 'old school' and returning to the original concept for the show — A group of strangers living together in a house and battling it out for half a million dollars," exec producer Allison Grodner said in an announcement of the new cast. "All 13 Houseguests have no prior relationship — they are not exes, nor secret couples," said executive producer Allison Grodner. "We are also excited to have the most diverse group we have ever assembled. They range in age from 22 to 75, come from all walks of life, and have distinct points of view. This should make for an unforgettable BIG BROTHER summer."

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"Nashville Star" Results

By admin Published: July 7, 2008

Details after the jump ...

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Monday Notebook

By admin Published: July 7, 2008

A few thoughts at NBC's buying the Weather Channel are contained in this column (after the stuff about "Hancock"). Considering what NBC did to Bravo, among other channels, when it took over, I've begun pondering the shows that will end up on the Weather Channel. And realized that one line in the column would have been better if I had said "Forecast-Star Galactica." But I didn't get it quite right when I was writing.

Another suggestion: "Snowfall With Chris Matthews." I can't wait for the onscreen promos for Universal movies during "Local on the 8's." Or the UV index being tied to "Burn Notice."

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"Love Connection" Creator Dies

By admin Published: July 6, 2008

Not Chuck Woolery. Eric Lieber, the behind the scenes force on the show. One obit is here.

I was a "Love Connection" fan for many years. Actually, I was a fan of part of "Love Connection" -- the part where the dates had gone very badly. Good dates all tended to sound the same. But bad dates offered drama, comedy and variety. It could be a matter of looks, or bad behavior, or poor choice of dating venue. But the accounting would often disintegrate into one participant talking while the other, on the pic-in-pic, was shouting "Chuck!Chuck!" to get a chance to reply. (There's a YouTube clip from the show above, with both the woman picking her date and then the recap of the date. Baaaaaad one.)

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Rethinking Paul Newman, Part 1: "Nobody's Fool"

By admin Published: July 5, 2008

Since the talk that Paul Newman is very ill, I've been planning to look back at some of the pivotal movies in his career. "Nobody's Fool" may seem like an odd place to start ...

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No ABBA Concert Reunion ... Ever

By admin Published: July 5, 2008


Better days: A Telegraph photo of the group after winning the 1974 Eurovision contest. L-R: Benny Andersson, late producer Stig Andersson, Annifrid Lyngstad, conductor Sven-Olof Walldoff, Agnetha Faltskog and Bjorn Ulvaeus

If the movie version of "Mamma Mia" counts as fresh ABBA, that's probably as close as anyone is going to get to new stuff. This comes from England's Telegraph newspaper:

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Day Off/Day On

By admin Published: July 5, 2008

The bride and I tried to make July 4 a real day off -- no chores, in other words, except for a couple of short hops to check on the away-neighbors' pets. Slept in, did a little grilling for dinner, watched movies ("Independence Day," "Tootsie," "Under Siege" -- admittedly a strange trifecta but we enjoyed it). But by the end of the day, we weren't all that relaxed. Always other things to think about, I guess. So today has been chores and errands with a vengeance: groceries, trip to BMV, trip to a cell-phone store, cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen, stuff dropped at Goodwill, lawn mowed, laundry, library, car washed, as well as more pet runs. Caught a bit of Wimbledon in there, but by about 2 p.m. we had done almost everything on our list, and it feels good to have accomplished some things. Still not sure if we did all this so effectively because we rested yesterday, or we just get the urge for doing.

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Happy Day

By admin Published: July 4, 2008

I think you all know why this is here ...

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Larry "Bozo" Harmon, R.I.P.

By admin Published: July 3, 2008


(Associated Press photo)

The most important of the Bozo the Clowns on TV has died at the age of 83.

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Walking in ...

By admin Published: July 2, 2008

I've had "Walking in Memphis" stuck in my head for a couple of days, probably to purge the version on "Nashville Star" on Monday. (Makes me wonder if singer-songwriters are secretly pleased when TV talent shows commit musical heresy on their work, since it will send people scrambling for the better, earlier versions.) It's a song that, at least in Marc Cohn's original, I cannot get tired of.

UNFORTUNATELY, the Marc Cohn video of the song on YouTube has the embed disabled. (There are some other videos using the Cohn audio, but they're not as interesting.) But I did see the video for the Cher cover. ...

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Little Bit of This & That

By admin Published: July 1, 2008

You may already have gone out and bought your copy of the new "Mad Men" DVD today.

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Tuesday Morning Notebook

By admin Published: July 1, 2008

I KNOW that "Quantum of Solace" doesn't open until November. But the trailer, above, already has me thrillin'.

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