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Edward Herrmann: A Conversation

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 31, 2014

Edward Herrmann, the elegant actor whose many many roles included FDR, a vampire patriarch and the father of Lorelai Gilmore, has died. One obit is here. In 2007, he was grand marshal for the local automobile-buff event the Glenmoor Gathering. We chatted then about cars, some of his roles and the trials of acting. Here's the resulting HeldenFiles column:

When actor Edward Herrmann becomes grand marshal at the Glenmoor Gathering of Significant Automobiles today, he won't just be a big name doing a job.

    The award-winning Herrmann is very serious about automobiles. While this will be his first visit to the Canton event, he is a regular at other auto concours.

    The interest began while he was growing up in Detroit. His father, he recalled, was one of the few engineers not working in the auto industry. But the fathers of all his friends did, and he became steeped in the car culture.

    Now 64, Herrmann started car-collecting in his 20s, with an Austin Healey that he said got so hot, it was ''not a wise car to have in California.''

    In the '80s, he bought his first Packard and remains especially fond of that make. He currently owns a 1932 Packard 900 roadster and has kept track of subsequent owners of his first Packard, since ''I hope it ends up in my garage again.''

Gilmore Gone. We also talked about his day job, which included playing Richard Gilmore on Gilmore Girls, the now-ended Lauren Graham comedy-drama. Asked if it was strange to be going into the fall without the show, he said, ''It is actually. I've been doing it for seven years . . . and it was a pleasure. . . . There's been no lack of work (since the show ended), but it's not regular.''

    A Grey's Visit. The new work included three episodes for the new season of Grey's Anatomy, in which he plays ''the oldest living intern.'' At first, Herrmann said, his character was going to die from a stroke. But now it looks as if he will live, and Herrmann may do more episodes.

    He enjoyed the job, too. ''It's a terrific cast,'' he said. Asked how people felt since Isaiah Washington's departure, he said it wasn't talked about much. When Patrick Dempsey invited Herrmann to breakfast, ''We talked cars, because he races. (Washington) never came up.''

    Still, from the vibe on the set, Herrmann said, ''I think they're relieved. . . . I think everybody was glad to be rid of the guy.''

    More on Acting. Herrmann said ''the business of show business is depressing and endlessly stupid, but the acting itself is thrilling.'' And he finds that he's still fine-tuning his craft. When he worked with Alec Guinness in the late '80s, in what proved to be Guinness' last stage performance, he marveled at the way Guinness could strip his stage business down to the most economical gestures. Herrmann sees the same economy in Spencer Tracy, and in Don Cheadle, ''one of my favorite actors.''

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Remember "Blood and Oil"? Local company back in the news

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 31, 2014

You may have seen some recent reports like this one about Cutter Oil. You may also then remember "Blood and Oil," a Discovery Channel series about the company; the series premiered in June 2013 and, from what I can tell, did not last long -- possibly just one televised episode. Reviews were also harsh. Here's what I wrote about the show at the time:

 Beginning at 10 p.m. Tuesday, Discovery Channel looks at a Wayne County man trying to keep his family-owned company viable in the oil business. It's as much about family as business, hence the series title: Blood and Oil.

 The series follows members of the family involved in Cutter Oil, a firm located midway between West Salem and Wooster, with wells in Summit, Portage and other counties. (The show puts the company in Wooster; the mailing address is West Salem.) As the series begins, the business is starting to recover from the death of founder and patriarch Charles "Chuck" Cutter in 2010 and the presence in Ohio of big companies taking advantage of the statewide oil boom. Chuck's son C.J. — who has run the company since 2007 — enlists the family in relaunching the oil-drilling side of their business, hoping their company can overcome the encroachment of what is almost always referred to as Big Oil.

 Other family members — including C.J.'s mother Beth, sister Kristin Cutter Anthony and brother Josh — also appear in the show, (Kristin is listed as Kristin Anthony Cutter in the show, which C.J. attributed to more people knowing her as Kristin Cutter.) But C.J. is by far the main character in the premiere.

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Video: Rich and the movies - 'Unbroken'

By Published: December 26, 2014

Unbroken, Angelina Jolie's directorial debut, opened in theaters on Christmas. Beacon Journal pop culture reporter Rich Heldenfels gives his thoughts on it below.

Check out Rich's profile on one of the movie's stars, Stow-Munroe Falls High School grad John Magaro here.

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Rich and the movies - 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies'

By Published: December 19, 2014

Beacon Journal pop culture writer Rich Heldenfels checks out The Hobbit, which features spectacular action, beautiful landscapes and some good acting. But should a single novel been turned into three movies?

For a full review of the movie, click here.

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Notes on "The Interview" (Updated)

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 18, 2014

This is what I plan to say in my Friday print column. An updated portion is in bold type below.

Had a movie theater owner said his cinema was going ahead with showings of The Interview, I would have politely and respectfully said, “Are you out of the flippin’ mind?”
The comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco as two guys out to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had its planned Christmas Day release abruptly cancelled on Wednesday amid concerns about North Korean-backed terrorist attacks on theaters showing the movie.

The cancellation followed the very public threat of an attack by a hacker group which had already successfully broken into the digital files of Sony Pictures, the studio behind The Interview. The hackers were thought to be tied to North Korea, and the U.S. government concluded there was a connection.

Rogen and Franco dropped public and TV appearances to promote the movie, and planned premiere in New York City was cancelled. Theater owners including Regal and Cinemark began dropping plans to show the film, with Regal in a statement citing “the wavering support of the film … by Sony Pictures, as well as the ambiguous nature of any real or perceived security threats.”

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Start planning your Free Comic Book Day purchases now

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 17, 2014

Here's a list of what is already planned for the day, May 2, 2015.

Free Comic Book Day 2015: Gold Comics
*Gold comics will be available at every participating retailer on May 2nd


Free Comic Book Day 2015: Silver Comics
* Silver comics are optional. Not all titles will be available at participating comic shops.

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National Film Registry 2014 selections: "Lebowski," "Private Ryan," "Little Big Man," more

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 17, 2014

List below. Complete announcement and descriptions are here.

13 Lakes (2004)
Bert Williams Lime Kiln Club Field Day (1913)
The Big Lebowski (1998)
Down Argentine Way (1940)
The Dragon Painter (1919)
Felicia (1965
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
The Gang’s All Here (1943)
House of Wax (1953)
Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport (2000)
Little Big Man (1970)
Luxo Jr. (1986)
Moon Breath Beat (1980)
Please Don’t Bury Me Alive! (1976)
The Power and the Glory (1933)
Rio Bravo (1959)
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Ruggles of Red Gap (1935)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Shoes (1916)
State Fair (1933)
Unmasked (1917)
V-E + 1 (1945)
The Way of Peace (1947)
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

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Darlene Love's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" Performances on Letterman

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 16, 2014


As you may know, Darlene Love has been performing her classic tune on David Letterman's TV shows since 1986 -- 21 times over those 28 years. (Letterman once called "Christmas" "the only rock and roll Christmas song I truly enjoy.") With Letterman stepping down on May 20, 2015, this Friday's telecast will be the last time Love does this on the show. In fact, this will reportedly be her last performance of the song on TV ever. Above is a mashup the network has done usiing clips of Love performances over the years. It's pretty nice, and it sent me to YouTube to look at complete performances through the years. A lot of hairdos, the aging of Dave, and mostly great singing. Some selections:

Here's her first performance, in all its simplicity.

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NBC announces new winter/spring series; moves return of "Undateable" and "The Night Shift" earlier

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 12, 2014

The official word: NBC has announced premiere dates for its burgeoning midseason schedule — dramas “The Blacklist,” “Allegiance, “Night Shift,” “A.D.” and “Odyssey,” event series “The Slap,” and comedies “One Big Happy” and “Undateable.”

As previously announced, Emmy Award winner James Spader and “The Blacklist” will return to the NBC schedule on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 1, immediately following the game. The series then shifts to its new timeslot beginning Thursday, Feb. 5 at 9 p.m.

“The Blacklist” will serve as a lead-in to the new spy thriller “Allegiance” from writer-director George Nolfi (“The Adjustment Bureau”). “Allegiance” will air Thursdays at 10 p.m. beginning Feb. 5.

The eight-episode event series “The Slap,” written by Pulitzer Prize finalist Jon Robin Baitz and executive produced by the team of Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald (“Gladiator,” “Men in Black”) and director Lisa Cholodenko (“The Kids Are All Right,” “Olive Kitteridge”), will air Thursdays at 8 p.m. beginning Feb. 12. The series stars Peter Sarsgaard, Uma Thurman, Thandie Newton and Zachary Quinto.

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ICYMI: Dunst, Plemons join "Fargo" Season 2

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 12, 2014

The official word: Golden Globe nominated actress Kirsten Dunst (Interview with the Vampire) and Breaking Bad’s Jesse Plemons have signed on to star in the second installment of MGM Television and FX Production’s Emmy and Award winning miniseries franchise Fargo, it was announced today by Eric Schrier, President, Original Programming, FX Networks and FX Productions and Steve Stark President, Television Production & Development of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.  Production will begin in Calgary in January 2015 and the 10-episode anthology miniseries is slated to premiere next fall on FX.


Emmy Award winning Executive Producers Noah Hawley (showrunner/writer), Joel & Ethan Coen, Warren Littlefield and John Cameron all return for the second installment.  Fargo is produced by MGM Television and FX Productions. MGM Television serves as worldwide distributor of the series.


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Video: Rich and the movies - 'Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me'

By Published: December 11, 2014

This week, Beacon Journal pop culture reporter Rich Heldenfels talks about Glen Campbell, and the new documentary about him. Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me, which details Campbell's struggle with Alzheimer's, is impressive.

Read Rich's full review of the movie here.

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Akron: Words matter

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 11, 2014

Here's a link to a nifty list of words and phrases that mean one thing in the rest of the world, and something different in Akron.

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Oh, Golden Globes

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 11, 2014

The nominations have been announced. I watched them online and the pronunciation gaffes by the announcers were amusing. Then, as usual, there are laughable elements in the nominations themselves (as there were in the more earnest SAG awards nominations this week). But we should always keep in mind that the Globes are not sold as a prestigious award but as an excuse for what NBC likes to call the biggest party of the year. So party on, Globers. Just don't expect me to celebrate with you.

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Christmas tunes time

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 10, 2014

I have too many Christmas songs in my head. So you should, too. Here are some ...

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Last Letterman "Late Show" on May 20

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 10, 2014

The official word:

David Letterman will host his final broadcast of the LATE SHOW on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 (11:35 PM-12:37 AM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network, it was announced today by CBS and Worldwide Pants Incorporated, Letterman’s production company.


“David Letterman has given to all of us a remarkable legacy of achievement and creative brilliance that will never be forgotten,” said Leslie Moonves, President and CEO of the CBS Corporation. “It’s going to be tough to say goodbye, but I know we will all cherish the shows leading up to Dave’s final broadcast in May.”

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Screen Actors Guild Award nominations

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 10, 2014

I know that TV is stacked with great stuff right now; still, when we're talking about acting, did none of the SAG voters see "The Leftovers"? Sure seems that way. The awards will be presented Jan. 25. The official list of nominees:


Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
STEVE CARELL / John du Pont – "FOXCATCHER" (Sony Pictures Classics)
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH / Alan Turing – "THE IMITATION GAME" (The Weinstein Company)
JAKE GYLLENHAAL / Louis Bloom – "NIGHTCRAWLER" (Open Road Films)
MICHAEL KEATON / Riggan – "BIRDMAN" (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
EDDIE REDMAYNE / Stephen Hawking – "THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING" (Focus Features)

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
JENNIFER ANISTON / Claire Bennett – "CAKE" (Cinelou Films)
JULIANNE MOORE / Alice Howland-Jones – "STILL ALICE" (Sony Pictures Classics)
ROSAMUND PIKE / Amy Dunne – "GONE GIRL" (20th Century Fox)
REESE WITHERSPOON / Cheryl Strayed – "WILD" (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

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"Rizzoli & Isles" gets sixth season

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 10, 2014

The official word: TNT has ordered a sixth season of the blockbuster hit Rizzoli & Isles, which finished this past summer as basic cable's #1 series. Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander star in the drama, which has ranked as one of basic cable's Top 5 series for five consecutive years, including 2014-to-date. Season five of Rizzoli & Isles is set to return with new episodes in early 2015. TNT has ordered 18 episodes for season six, which is slated to launch in summer 2015. Rizzoli & Isles is produced for TNT by Warner Horizon Television and Bill Haber’s Ostar Productions, with Haber and showrunner Jan Nash serving as executive producers.


Based on characters created by best-selling crime novelist Tess Gerritsen and developed for television by Janet Tamaro, Rizzoli & Isles stars Harmon as Jane Rizzoli, a tough-as-nails Boston police detective, and Alexander as Maura Isles, a smart, impeccably dressed medical examiner from a privileged background. Despite being complete opposites, the two women share an offbeat chemistry, an authentic and deep friendship and a unique working relationship that together, helps them to solve the most complex murder mysteries in the city of Boston.


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RIP, Mary Ann Mobley

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 10, 2014

Here is the obit released by her family: Mary Ann Mobley Collins, 77, died at her Beverly Hills, California, home on Tuesday morning, December 9, 2014, from complications due to breast cancer. Services will be held Monday, December 15, at Christ United Methodist Church in Jackson, Mississippi, with burial at Parkway Funeral Home.


A native of Mississippi, the former Miss America, actress and humanitarian led a fascinating and varied life. A Golden Globe winner, Mobley starred opposite Elvis Presley on screen, performed death-defying circus acts in television’s Circus of the Stars and dedicated many years to documenting the young victims of war and starvation in places like Cambodia, Ethiopia, Somalia and the Sudan.


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"Gone Girl" home-viewing options

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 10, 2014

The movie, as you know, co-stars Copley's own Carrie Coon. The  official word: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will bring you to the edge of your seat when GONE GIRL hits Blu-ray™ and DVD January 13. Based on Gillian Flynn’s New York Times Best Seller, GONE GIRL delivers critically-acclaimed performances from Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike and the entire all-star ensemble.

GONE GIRL— directed by David Fincher and based upon the global best seller by Gillian Flynn — unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

Every Blu-ray™ comes with an exclusive new Amazing Amy story – “Tattle Tale.” The 36-page children’s book is only available with the purchase of the GONE GIRL Blu-ray™.

● Audio Commentary by David Fincher
● ‘Amazing Amy Tattle Tale’ Book

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Best TV of 2014?

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 8, 2014

I have taken part once again in the annual Hitfix TV critics' poll, which this year had three elements: best shows, best new shows and best performances. You can find a link to all of those categories here. That will show you that "Fargo" topped both best show and best new show, while Matthew McConaughey topped performances for his work on "True Detective."

As I said, I voted in this thing, and my votes do not exactly match the consensus. But that's fine. I did not see anything in the top 10s I thought was outrageous, and my own lists, below, are defensible -- especially when you factor in what a deep year it has been in TV quality, and that my viewing habits probably vary from my colleagues' And I know that, these lists are so difficult, I might have settled on a somwhat different ranking on a different day. There was a lot of writing down, then scratching out, then writing in as I was doing my list. In retrospect, I wonder why I didn't rank "Fargo" higher among current series, but doing so would have meant knocking out something else, and I don't know what.

So, check out the poll winners above, and see my lists here. Each is in descending order.

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CBS sets premiere dates for "Battle Creek," "CSI: Cyber" in March

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 5, 2014

"Cyber," which seemed a loglcal space-filler when the "CSI" mothership was on hiatus or done, is being moved to Wednesday. "Battle Creek" will get the Sunday spot. Here's the official word:

Continuing to provide more original programming year-round, CBS announced today March premiere dates for two new dramas, BATTLE CREEK and CSI: CYBER.


BATTLE CREEK, from Emmy Award winners David Shore (“House”) and Vince Gilligan (“Breaking Bad”), will premiere Sunday, March 1 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT), two weeks  following CSI's season finale in the time period. The series stars Josh Duhamel and Dean Winters as two mismatched law enforcement officers whose polar opposite views of the world and crime-solving breed frustration, disdain and humor as they clean up the hardscrabble streets of Battle Creek, Mich.

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Video - Rich and the movies: 'Birdman'

By Published: December 5, 2014

This week, Beacon Journal pop culture reporter Rich Heldenfels offers his thoughts on Birdman starring Michael Keaton. The movie is picking up awards buzz thanks to Keaton's performance.

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TNT orders second "Legends" season

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 4, 2014

The official word: TNT has ordered a second season of its exciting drama series Legends, starring Screen Actors Guild Award® winner Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings). The show is a key part of TNT's ongoing expansion into high-quality genre fare, which also includes the summer blockbuster series The Last Ship and the upcoming series The Librarians. Legends is produced by Fox 21, with Howard Gordon (Homeland, 24) serving as executive producer. TNT has ordered 10 episodes for season 2, with plans to launch next year.


Legends is based on the award-winning book by master spy novelist Robert Littell. In the series, Bean plays Martin Odum, an undercover agent working for the FBI's Deep Cover Operations (DCO) division. Martin has the uncanny ability to transform himself into a completely different person for each job. But he begins to question his own identity when a mysterious stranger suggests that Martin isn’t the man he believes himself to be.


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WOIO sets Browns' championship 50th-anniversary special

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 4, 2014

The official word: — As the 2014 Cleveland Browns fight for the postseason, CBS 19 takes you back 50 years to the last time a Cleveland team won a championship. “When Cleveland Was Title Town” is a special one hour CBS19 retrospective of the 1964 NFL Champion Cleveland Browns.

Hosted by 19 Sports Anchor Tony Zarrella, the special will include exclusive interviews with Browns legend and Hall Of Famer Jim Brown, NFL Hall of Famer Don Shula, Browns player Gary Collins, and other surviving key participants of the game. The program will also include extended highlights of the CBS telecast of the 1964 NFL championship game, which was not shown live Cleveland.

WOIO CBS 19 will telecast an hour-long 50th anniversary special on two nights: Saturday, December 27th at 8pm, and as a special prime time presentation on Monday, December 29th, at 8pm.

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Local screening of 1977's "The Gathering" on Friday

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 3, 2014

The holiday film is much loved in this area because scenes were shot in Hudson and Chagrin Falls. Here's the announcement:

The community is invited to attend a night at the movies on Friday, December 5, when Hudson Heritage presents a viewing of “The Gathering,” the 1977 holiday classic starring Ed Asner and Maureen Stapleton.  The film will be shown at Barlow Community Center auditorium at 7:30 p.m.  Admission to the movie is free.


“The Gathering”, which takes place over the Christmas holidays, is the story of a family brought back together when its patriarch learns he has only a limited time to live.  Although the movie was set in New England, much of it was actually filmed on location in Hudson and Chagrin Falls.  Pierce House at Western Reserve Academy served as the family home and many Hudsonites were included as extras in the cast.  Long-time Hudson residents including John Hubbard, Cynthia Longstreth and Priscilla Graham had speaking roles and many residents helped behind the scenes with the production.  More details on how the filming took place in Hudson will be shared with the audience on the 5th

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"Downton Abbey" Season 5 on DVD/Blu-ray Jan. 27 - before it has all aired on PBS

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 3, 2014

The official word: PBS Distribution announced today it is releasing “DOWNTON ABBEY SEASON 5” on DVD and Blu-ray January 27, 2015. “Downton Abbey” returns for an epic fifth season of intimately interlaced stories centered on an English country estate – a deliciously entertaining formula that has made it the highest-rated drama in PBS history.

Season 5 features returning stars Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter, Laura Carmichael, Joanne Froggatt, Allen Leech, Robert James-Collier, Penelope Wilton, Phyllis Logan, Lily James, Brendan Coyle, Lesley Nicol, Sophie McShera, Samantha Bond, Ed Speleers, Kevin Doyle, Raquel Cassidy, David Robb, Tom Cullen, Julian Ovenden, Daisy Lewis, Douglas Reith, Jeremy Swift, and Andrew Scarborough.

This acclaimed ensemble is joined by guest stars Harriet Walter (“Atonement”), reprising her role as Lady Shackleton, and Peter Egan (“Death at a Funeral”), who returns as Lord Flintshire, together with completely new characters played by Richard E. Grant (“Girls”), Anna Chancellor (“The Hour”), and Rade Sherbedgia (“24”).

“DOWNTON ABBEY SEASON 5” airs Sundays on MASTERPIECE on PBS from January 4, 2015 to March 1, 2015. 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 5, including the finale. The DVD and Blu-ray feature the original U.K. edition of Season 5 as well as more than 40 minutes of bonus video. The program will be available for digital download.

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ICYMI: Oscars documentary short list

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 2, 2014

The complete announcement of the 15 films from which five final nominees will be chosen is here. Notable contenders include "Life Itself," the film about Roger Ebert, and "CitizenFour," now showing at the Nightlight through Dec. 11. The list:

"Art and Craft," Purple Parrot Films
"The Case against 8," Day in Court
"Citizen Koch," Elsewhere Films
"CitizenFour," Praxis Films
"Finding Vivian Maier," Ravine Pictures
"The Internet’s Own Boy," Luminant Media
"Jodorowsky’s Dune," City Film
"Keep On Keepin’ On," Absolute Clay Productions
"The Kill Team," f/8 filmworks
"Last Days in Vietnam," Moxie Firecracker Films
"Life Itself," Kartemquin Films and Film Rites
"The Overnighters," Mile End Films West
"The Salt of the Earth," Decia Films
"Tales of the Grim Sleeper," Lafayette Film
"Virunga," Grain Media

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Lifetime sets the date for its Whitney Houston movie

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 2, 2014

The official word: Golden Globe® Award winner and Academy Award® nominee Angela Bassett makes her directorial debut with the Lifetime Original Movie Whitney, featuring Yaya DaCosta (Lee Daniels’ The Butler) in the lead role with Arlen Escarpeta (Final Destination 5) alongside her as Bobby Brown. The much-anticipated world premiere will be on Saturday, January 17, 2015, at 8pm ET/PT.

Whitney chronicles the headline-making relationship between the iconic singer, actress, producer and model Whitney Houston and singer and songwriter Bobby Brown from the time they first met at the very height of their celebrity to their courtship and tumultuous marriage.

Throughout it all, difficulties followed the superstar couple while they dealt with the overwhelming rewards and consequences of the fame and fortune created by Houston’s meteoric rise that would soon overshadow them both.

Houston’s vocal performances in the film are sung by Grammy®-nominated and multiplatinum-selling entertainer Deborah Cox. The music featured in the film includes Houston’s hits “The Greatest Love of All,” “I’m Your Baby Tonight,” “I’m Every Woman” and “I Will Always Love You” as well as Brown’s “Every Little Step.”

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"The Judge" home-viewing plans

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 2, 2014

You can read my negative review here. The official word: Defend your honor when “The Judge” arrives onto Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD on January 27 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. “The Judge” stars two-time Oscar® nominee Robert Downey Jr. (“Chaplin,” “Tropic Thunder”) and Oscar® winner Robert Duvall (“Tender Mercies,” “Crazy Heart”) alongside Oscar® nominee Vera Farmiga (“Up in the Air,” “The Conjuring”) and Oscar® winner Billy Bob Thornton (“Sling Blade,” “Friday Night Lights”).

In “The Judge,” Downey stars as big city lawyer Hank Palmer, who returns to his childhood home. The film also features a stellar supporting cast, including Vincent D’Onofrio (TV’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”), Jeremy Strong (“Zero Dark Thirty,” “Lincoln”), Dax Shepard (TV’s “Parenthood”), Leighton Meester (TV’s “Gossip Girl”), Ken Howard (“J. Edgar,” “Michael Clayton”), Emma Tremblay (“Elysium”), Balthazar Getty (TV’s “Brothers & Sisters”), David Krumholtz (“This Is the End”), Sarah Lancaster (TV’s “Chuck”), Grace Zabriskie (TV’s “Big Love”) and Denis O’Hare (TV’s “True Blood”).

“The Judge” was directed by David Dobkin, who also produced the film along with Susan Downey and David Gambino, with Herbert W. Gains, Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Kleeman and Bruce Berman serving as executive producers. The film is presented in association with Village Roadshow Pictures and a Big Kid Pictures/Team Downey production.

“The Judge” will be available on Blu-ray Combo Pack for $35.99 and includes the film in high definition on Blu-ray disc, a DVD, and a digital version of the movie in Digital HD with UltraViolet. Fans can also own “The Judge” via purchase from digital retailers.

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"Dear White People" home-video plans

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 2, 2014

You can read my review of the movie here. I also brought it up in the context of this incident. And it will be shown at the University of Akron on Jan. 30 as part of its annual Rethinking Race programs.

The official word: Dear Movie Lover: If you're looking for a comedy that's fresh, smart and "non-stop fun" (Rolling Stone), you've found it! Dear White People arrives on Digital HD and On Demand January 20th and follows on Blu-ray™ (plus Digital HD) and DVD (plus Digital) on February 3rd from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

Starring Tyler James Williams (TV's "Everybody Hates Chris," AMC's "The Walking Dead"), Tessa Thompson (upcoming Selma, For Colored Girls), Kyle Gallner (upcoming American Sniper, A Nightmare on Elm Street), Teyonah Parris (TV's "Mad Men," They Came Together) Brandon Bell (TV's "Hollywood Heights," TV's "Switched at Birth"), Malcolm Barrett (Peeples, The Hurt Locker) and Dennis Haysbert (TV's "24," TV's "The Unit"), the film was the winner of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival's Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent. The critically acclaimed, box-office success, Dear White People is the feature film debut from writer/director Justin Simien, and earned him a spot on Variety's annual "10 Directors to Watch" list.


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This means exactly what I think it means: "Princess Bride" marathon

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 2, 2014

With Cary Elwes hosting, no less. (But you will need to take a break at 9 p.m. on Dec. 25 for the "Doctor Who" Christmas special on BBC America.) The official word:

SundanceTV is preparing for an inconceivably merry Christmas with “As You Wish: The Princess Bride Marathon,” hosted by the film’s star, Cary Elwes. The marathon will begin airings of The Princess Bride on Thursday, December 25 at 1:00pm ET/PT and will end on Friday, December 26 at 2:00am ET/PT. Throughout the day, Elwes will share his personal insights about the making of the timeless classic and provide a first-hand account of everything fans of the film have always wanted to know.


The Princess Bride, a romantic comedy and fantasy adventure film directed and co-produced by Rob Reiner, is told in the form of a grandfather (Peter Falk) reading a story to his sick grandson (Fred Savage). This fairy tale adventure about a beautiful young woman and her one true love features additional iconic characters played by Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest and Mandy Patinkin.

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"Fashion Police" adds Kathy Griffin

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 1, 2014

She succeeds the late Joan Rivers. The official word: E! Entertainment today announced “Fashion Police” will be in good – and very funny – hands with actress and comedienne Kathy Griffin as host.  Joining Griffin will be Kelly Osbourne and Giuliana Rancic, who return to the panel along with a new face: celebrity stylist and television personality Brad Goreski (“It’s A Brad Brad World”). 

“Fashion Police” – made famous by the iconic and indelible Joan Rivers – will air 17 style-studded episodes throughout the year, focused exclusively on the excitement surrounding the biggest red carpet and fashion events of 2015 including the Oscars, Grammys, Emmys, New York Fashion Week and more.  E!’s “Fashion Police” returns Monday, January 12, 2015 with Golden Globes coverage.

“Not only was Joan a trailblazer, she was also a dear friend and mentor to Kathy, who will no doubt continue her legacy and do the series justice by bringing her own unique comedic style and tell-it-like-it-is personality to the host chair,” said Jeff Olde, Executive Vice President, Programming and Development, E! "Plus, the addition of trendsetting stylist Brad completes the panel as the show begins its next chapter, which will focus on covering the major award shows and fashion events throughout the year.”

“Kathy just feels right, and Brad brings a fun, new voice to join Giuliana and Kelly in this ensemble,” said Melissa Rivers, Executive Producer.  “I’m excited to see where this panel takes this series my mother so adored in this next incarnation.”

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"Parks and Rec" final season begins Jan. 13.

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 1, 2014

In the first TV event of the new year, NBC is giving its landmark comedy “Parks and Recreation” a sendoff that will maximize the show’s cultural impact. The seventh and final season of this critically-acclaimed and beloved series will begin Tuesday, Jan. 13 with back-to-back episodes (8-9 p.m. ET/PT) and continue with back-to-back episodes each week until the hourlong series finale on Tuesday, Feb. 24 following “The Voice.”

The return of the series, in fact, will be scheduled to premiere in the afterglow of the Jan. 11 “72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards,” co-hosted by Amy Poehler and Tina Fey.

“Mike Schur and Amy Poehler, along with their incredible producers, cast, and crew, have given us one of the great television comedies of all time, and we’re inordinately proud of ‘Parks and Recreation,’” said NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt. “In an effort to give it the send-off it deserves, we wanted to ‘eventize’ the final season to maximize the impact of these episodes, which really do take the show to a new level. The highly-anticipated one-hour finale will air behind ‘The Voice’ in order to lead the largest audience possible into what promises to be a very special hour of television.”

“Critics, viewers and all of us at NBC fell in love with this endearing, funny, heartfelt show and its authentic cast of characters,” added Jennifer Salke, President, NBC Entertainment. “After seven amazing seasons, saying goodbye to the folks of Pawnee will be bittersweet, so we want to give the show and its fans the most impactful final season possible.” 

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Notes on this and that

By Rich Heldenfels Published: December 1, 2014

Netlfix will air the third season of "House of Cards" on Feb. 27. The announcement came in Twitter and Facebook posts.

Bill Carter, veteran TV reporter for the New York Times, is taking a buyout as the paper trims staff.

I first saw that item on Jim Romenesko's must-read journalism news site. Also on the site is this note regarding an AARP magazine-cover change to remove Bill Cosby's name:

I called AARP for comment and was told by the switchboard operator the magazine doesn’t accept phone calls, and I couldn’t be transferred to media relations if I didn’t have a name. I then emailed my questions about the vanishing Bill Cosby cover line.

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