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Yvette Nicole Brown leaving "Community"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 30, 2014

The former Clevelander and University of Akron alum explained her decision to TV Guide. You can read the article here. Anyone who has spent much time with Yvette knows that she has always had her priorities straight, so it is not surprising that she is putting family ahead of career at this time.

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"Married," "You're the Worst" get second seasons

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 30, 2014

After being slightly pleased with the first "You're the Worst," I ended up watching the entire season -- and being impressed with it. "Married," not so much. So I'd much rather have YTW on FX and Married on FXX, instead of the way the networks are doing it for the second seasons. 

The official word: FX Networks is staying in relationships with its new comedies, Married and You’re the Worst, with the second season of Married continuing on FX and You’re The Worst moving to its new home on FXX, it was announced today by Nick Grad and Eric Schrier, Presidents of Original Programming, FX Networks and FX Productions. 

FX Networks ordered 13 episodes of both Married and You’re the Worst for their second seasons. Both series recently completed their 10-episode first seasons on FX. The first seasons of both are currently available on FX’s VOD platform FXNOW for authenticated subscribers of the network. Married and You’re the Worst are produced by FX Productions.

“We love these shows and the creative visions of Andrew Gurland of Married and Stephen Falk of You’re the Worst,” said Grad. “Both series have terrific ensemble casts and outstanding lead performances – Nat Faxon and Judy Greer in Married, and Chris Geere and Aya Cash in You’re the Worst.  These shows are honest, 360-degree looks at relationships and we’re excited to see how they evolve.”

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In which ratings depend on who is presenting them ...

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 30, 2014

I offer portions of NBC's and CBS's releases about the first week of the TV season, in which each declares victory, as well as ABC's attempt to spin the numbers by not counting primetime sports (a tactic it never pursued when it had Monday Night Football going gangbusters).

From CBS:

CBS won premiere week in viewers for the sixth consecutive year with the largest weekly premiere week audience since 2011, according to Nielsen live plus same day ratings for the first week of the 2014-2015 season ending Sept. 28.

CBS is the only network to post year-to-year growth in viewers, adults 18-49 and adults 25-54.  The Network was up +5% in viewers (10.86m from 10.38m), +9% in adults 18-49 (2.4/08 from 2.2/07) and +7% in adults 25-54 (3.2/09 from 3.0/08) from premiere week last year.

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ICYMI: "Inherent Vice" trailer

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 30, 2014

FCC dumps NFL blackout rules

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 30, 2014

The announcement is here. (UPDATE: Here's an ESPN report that the NFL will try to continue business as usual, perhaps through specific contracts with telecasters.)_

The FCC decision should be good news for fans of the Browns (and other teams) when their declining fortunes mean that games are not selling out, because it will not interfer with telecasts.

From time to time I have had to write about near-misses with the Browns and TV, and the team declined to take advantage of an easier NFL policy a couple of years ago. As the Beacon Journal's Nate Ulrich wrote in 2012:

The Browns are among the teams that won't take advantage of the NFL's new relaxed blackout policy.
The policy gives teams the option to decrease the number of nonpremium seats they must sell to avoid a local TV blackout to as low as 85 percent. By passing on a chance to lower the threshold, the Browns must continue to sell out home games 72 hours before kickoff, unless a deadline extension is granted, to ensure they're televised locally.
"It's a non-issue for us," Neal Gulkis, the Browns' vice president of media relations, said Monday. "Our fan support has been tremendous, and we fully expect that all of our games will be sold out and televised locally."
The Browns have not had a home game blacked out since the finale of the 1995 season, after the franchise's move to Baltimore was announced, but there have been some close calls. During the 2009 season, the Browns averted four blackouts by purchasing tickets along with some of their sponsors and television partners.

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Notebook

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 30, 2014

More about "Survivor's Remorse," the new series from LeBron James and Maverick Carter (but not really about them), is here.

Tonight brings the premieres of "Selfie" and "Manhattan Love Story" on ABC. Both are romantic comedies, with "Selfie" taking Pygmalion as its model. I had no use for "Manhattan," with its too-cute voiceovers. "Selfie," on the other hand, I did not entirely hate -- although I am unlikely to watch it except when there's a gap in my viewing schedule or nothing backed up on the DVR.

And the DVR is groaning right now, not least because I was out last night at a movie ("Gone Girl," look for my review later this week). I have been keeping pace with some things, including "The Good Wife," and expect to write a roundup at some point. Short reactions: "Good Wife" is exhausting me with the Cary plot but very amusing in the will-Alicia-run story; "Agents of SHIELD" was off to a very lively start last week, continuing the momentum it built up last season; "Blue Bloods" is still "Blue Bloods," and that's OK for a Friday night; the "Saturday Night Live" season opener with Chris Pratt was so weak in the early going, I did not stay until the end, and deleted it from the DVR; I absolutely love Peter Capaldi on "Doctor Who" (but am behind on episodes); can't believe what "Bones" did in its season premiere ... and oh, I could go on. But not just now.

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Talking post-season baseball and broadcasting

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 30, 2014

The folks at Poynter Mediawire note that today is the anniversary of the first World Series game to be televised (in 1947).  A year later, the Indians made their first televised World Series appearance, and I wrote about that in 1995, when the Indians made the playoffs and appeared to be on track to the fall classic. (They in fact ended up going to the Series and losing to the Braves in six games.) Here's what I wrote about the Indians' early TV and radio adventures:

Indians fans can taste the moment when they sit down in front of their TV sets for that first American League playoff game. As they watch the coverage and highlights on local stations and network telecasts and cable programs, as the images fill a 60-inch screen and the sounds burst forth in stereo, one recurring thought will be how long fans have waited for such a moment.
The very act of watching is a reminder of how long it has been.
The last time the Indians saw the postseason, in the 1954 World Series, Akron area TV viewers had a menu of four sta-tions. When the Indians last won it all, in 1948, it was easy to choose what TV station to watch because there was only one.
Although the first TV broadcasts dated to the '20s, for most of the nation television was still a newborn in 1948.
Having even that one Cleveland station, WEWS (Channel 5), was noteworthy. By the end of 1948, there were barely 50 TV stations in the entire United States, and just under a million homes had television. Early television stars such as Milton Berle, Arthur Godfrey and Ed Sullivan were seen primarily by big-city viewers and by people gathering in bars equipped with TV sets.
Baseball and other sports were important to the growth of TV, which by 1953 was in 24 million homes, including more than 700,000 in Cleveland and 75,000 in Akron. As the '48 World Series loomed, a local newspaper ad promised, "See the World Series on Philco Television. Can Be Installed In Time for the World Series."
The promised black-and-white sets cost between $350 and $795, not counting a hefty installation fee, at a time when sirloin steak was 89 cents a pound. And that set couldn't even get you all of the series with the Boston Braves, since ABC, which televised the games, did not have a hookup to bring games from Boston to the Midwest. Only World Series games in Cleveland were televised in Northeast Ohio.
Radio was still the dominant broadcast medium, and the Beacon Journal devoted about five times as much space to radio listings -- for WADC and WAKR and WTAM and WHKK -- as it did to WEWS' slim broadcast schedule.
On radio, Tribe fans listened to Jack Graney and Jimmy Dudley. Dudley, who had begun a two-decade run with the Indians in 1947, said recently that one of the highlights of his career was broadcasting the one-game American League playoff in 1948 between the Indians and the Boston Red Sox.
But Dudley was disappointed when neither he nor Graney was included in broadcasts of the World Series. "Bill Veeck, bless his heart, tried everything he could to get me on the games," Dudley said, "but it just couldn't be done."
In his autobiography Veeck As In Wreck, the former Indians owner recalled a double disappointment that year: He had no say in either which announcers or which Cleveland station would carry the game.
Veeck said Mutual, the radio network with the World Series rights, insisted the games be broadcast on its affiliates (in Akron, that was WHKK-AM). It also chose the announcers -- Mel Allen, already a big name in radio, and Jim Britt, at the time a major voice in Boston sports radio and later an Indians broadcaster. Television games, when available, featured WEWS' Van Patrick and another sports legend, Red Barber.
According to Veeck's memoirs, he threw enough roadblocks in front of Mutual that the network ultimately agreed to let the station that carried the club in the regular season carry it in the World Series -- and to feature one of its announcers. That would open the door for Dudley in 1954, when the Indians went back to the Series.
When Dudley talks about career highlights, 1954 offered plenty. For one, he worked almost all the regular-season games, of which the Indians won a record 111. In July of that year, he broadcast the All-Star Game from Cleveland, teaming with Al Helfer. After that game, the man known for wishing listeners "lots of good luck, ya heah," was hoping to be lucky enough to broadcast a World Series. And those 111 wins provided luck enough.
Still, it was a very different broadcast world by 1954. Again, television salesmen were using baseball as a selling point -- a Motorola ad promised "everything but the dust." But TV prices had dropped, and local viewers had far more to watch on four television stations -- WNBK (Channel 3), WEWS (Channel 5), WXEL (Channel 8) and WAKR (Channel 49). Hits of the day included I Love Lucy and Dragnet, Groucho Marx in You Bet Your Life and Jackie Gleason's variety show.
When the World Series came around, two stations, Channel 3 and Channel 8, carried the games against the New York Giants, with Jack Brickhouse and Russ Hodges as the announcers. On radio, fans again found the games on WHKK, where Helfer and Dudley held court.
"Probably the greatest thrill I had had was that I got to see every one of those games," said Dudley. Although the Indians were favored to win the Series, the Giants and their young star Willie Mays swept the Indians in four games. Dudley still speaks with awe of "the fellow who caught the Vic Wertz line drive" -- Mays' seemingly impossible catch in the first game.
The broadcasts of the World Series actually merited a review in the Beacon Journal by entertainment writer Art Cullison. It wasn't a long one (see accompanying story), but TV and radio also were covered differently then.
Cullison recalled that, in addition to writing about broadcasting, "I was doing movies and legitimate theater, and I would drop in on the nightclubs." And coverage of the Indians generally "is 20 times what they had back then." But some things seem constant: Cullison complained about too-talky announcers and too many commercials.
 

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A Dick Wolf crossover event: "Chicago Fire," "Chicago PD," "SVU"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 29, 2014

The official word: Dick Wolf’s Universal Television/NBC series “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago P.D.” and “Law & Order: SVU” will be united during a major three-part crossover airing Nov. 11-12.


The three series will share a storyline about a child pornography ring that stretches from Chicago to New York and will arc over three episodes, beginning with “Chicago Fire” (Tuesday, Nov. 11, 10 p.m. ET/PT) and continuing on “Law & Order: SVU” and “Chicago P.D.” (Wednesday, Nov. 12, 9 and 10 p.m., respectively). 


“Warren Leight (“SVU” showrunner) and Matt Olmstead (“Chicago Fire”/“Chicago P.D.” showrunner) are two of the best writers in the business. We wanted to figure out a way to create a crime that connects all three shows. Warren, Matt and I came up with a story that was big and unique enough to transit to all three,” Wolf explained.


Each of the three shows opened their seasons to strong ratings, with “Chicago Fire” averaging a 2.6 rating, 8 share in adults 18-49 and 9.1 million viewers overall Tuesday, Sept. 23 to match its second-highest rating ever in 18-49 and deliver its #2 total-viewer result to date. “Law & Order: SVU” debuted Wednesday, Sept. 24 with a 2.2/6 in 18-49 and 10.1 million viewers overall, making it the show’s most-watched season premiere since 2007. “Chicago P.D.” followed with a 1.9/6 in 18-49 and 8.5 million viewers overall to win the hour among ABC, CBS and NBC in total viewers with the show’s biggest overall audience since its series premiere on Jan. 8.

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Your Cote de Pablo update

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 29, 2014

The official word from CBS: THE DOVEKEEPERS, a four-hour limited event series from executive producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, commenced production today in Malta for broadcast on the CBS Television Network in 2015. The project stars Cote de Pablo, Rachel Brosnahan and Kathryn Prescott in the title dovekeeper roles. The series is based on Alice Hoffman’s acclaimed historical novel about a group of extraordinary women whose lives intersect in a fight for survival at the siege of Masada. Diego Boneta also stars.

 

“Mark and I are absolutely thrilled to finally see Alice Hoffman's beautiful story come to life,” said executive producer Roma Downey. “This is a remarkable opportunity to see these wonderful actors bring their unique gifts to these significant rolls. We look forward to sharing this epic television event with the CBS audience.”

 

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Men, women and my mail

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 26, 2014

Some of you may have read my notes elsewhere about an angry reader who took issue with my criticism of the TV series "Stalker" for its portrayal of violence against women. His letter, and many other events, inspired this column. (By the way, since I wrote the piece, the fella from Fox News has apologized for his comment -- basing the apology on his wife's not liking what he said.)

Where the original angry email said the writer would throw any reply I made into the trash, apparently he bothered to read my column. He sent the following:

See my email must have had quite an effect on you. Good. Yet again I've never seen you getting all worked up about all the violence against men in "entertainment". As far as bringing Ray Rice into this as you did I challenge you to direct your readers to MARTIN FIEBERTS web page in your column. Sadly what's reported isn't all over the network news on video. And it's all documented by some heavy hitters. But then are we hearing about it in the liberal media?
As far as BILL FREZZ'S  comments unfortunately these things can happen. False accusations of rape,absolutely. Our military is very seriously looking into these matters. Bad report from a superior officer
with whom some form of consensual relationship was going on- rape. As for Erin and her statements about frat boys, well again, apparently right over your head.

All I can say at this point is, well, haters gonna hate. And I did receive some very positive, thoughtful replies to the piece. For example:

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Copley's Carrie Coon coming to Cleveland for "Gone Girl" screening (UPDATED)

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 25, 2014

Update: More appearances are planned. 

Carrie Coon  will take part in a red-carpet event at the Regal Interstate on Oct. 3, introducing the 7 p.m. showing of the movie and taking part in a Q&A afterward. The movie itlself runs about 2 1/2 hours. There will also be a red-carpet arrival at about 6 to 6:30 p.m. before the movie. I will post more details about that as I get them.

There may also be other events, including an appearance at her alma mater, the University of Mount Union, but I am still gathering info.

If you want to read more about Coon, here's an interview I did in June.

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Hulu Plus presents James Franco's "SNL" documentary

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 25, 2014

The official word: Saturday Night, adocumentary created and directed by Oscar nominee James Franco, will stream exclusively on Hulu in an agreement with Rabbit Bandini Productions. After garnering buzz from fans and critics since its sold-out premieres at SXSW and the Tribeca Film Festival, the film will be available exclusively on the Hulu Plus subscription service beginning Friday, September 26th.

 

Directed by James Franco, Saturday Night, explores the production process behind NBC’s iconic sketch-comedy show Saturday Night Live. A never-before-seen look at what it takes to make one single episode of the hit series, Saturday Night provides access into the hectic, sleepless week the show’s talented writers and cast members endure to create a single episode - from the Monday afternoon pitch sessions to the live taping on Saturday night.  The current feature-length documentary was initially a short film project for Franco’s New York University film class in 2008.

 

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Details on next "Mad Men" DVD/Blu-ray

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 25, 2014

The official word: The beginning of the end for television’s most celebrated show, Mad Men: The Final Season, Part 1 will arrive on Blu-ray™ (plus Digital HD), DVD (plus Digital) and Digital HD on October 21 from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

From creator Matthew Weiner (HBO’s “The Sopranos”), the critically acclaimed show features a top-notch cast that includes Golden Globe® winner and Primetime Emmy® nominee Jon Hamm (Friends with Kids), Primetime Emmy® nominee Elisabeth Moss (TV’s “Top of the Lake”), Primetime Emmy® nominee Christina Hendricks (Ginger & Rosa), Primetime Emmy® nominee January Jones (X-Men: First Class), John Slattery (The Adjustment Bureau) and Primetime Emmy® nominee Robert Morse (TV’s “City of Angels”). As TV’s most talked-about drama, MAD MEN has been recognized for its intelligent storylines and stellar acting, winning three consecutive Golden Globe® awards for Best Television Series - Drama and four consecutive Primetime Emmy® awards for Outstanding Drama Series.

 

Nominated for a 2014 Primetime Emmy® for Outstanding Drama Series, Mad Men: The Final Season, Part 1 is set in the captivating world of 1960s New York and continues to follow iconic ad man Don Draper, his colleagues and his family, as viewers get a glimpse at how the renowned television series will end.

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CBS shuffles Monday, Thursday; moves involve "Big Bang," "Mom," "Millers"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 25, 2014

The official word, including the modified schedule: Capitalizing on the early success from its premiere Monday, CBS will double up on THE BIG BANG THEORY to open the night for the next three weeks. An original episode of THE BIG BANG THEORY will air at 8:00 PM, followed by a rebroadcast of a different episode (8:30-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on Monday, Sept. 29, Monday, Oct. 6 and Monday, Oct. 13.

 

The critically acclaimed comedy MOM, originally scheduled to premiere next Monday at 8:30 PM, will now premiere as part of CBS’s signature Thursday comedy block. MOM will premiere after THE BIG BANG THEORY on Oct. 30 (8:30-9:00 PM, ET/PT), the night CBS launches its Thursday entertainment lineup (following THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL). MOM will return to Mondays (8:30-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on Jan. 5.

 

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Two guys talk ... about Alessandra Stanley and Shonda Rhimes

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 24, 2014

I should note on error of my own: Stanley called Clair Huxtable benign and reassuring, not benign and endearing, as I said in the video.

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Metallica movie getting 10th-anniversary Blu-ray/digital/on-demand release

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 24, 2014

The official word: Metallica today announced they would release a ten-year anniversary 2-disc Blu-Ray of their long out of print, groundbreaking movie, METALLICA:  Some Kind of Monster on November 24, 2014.

Originally released on July 9, 2004, METALLICA:  Some Kind of Monster follows the band through three of the most turbulent years in their over three-decade long career, and gives viewers an incredibly raw and intimate look into the lives and psyches of the members of one of the most successful rock bands in music history as they battle their way through addiction, domestic life, backlash from their fans, and near-total disintegration during the making of their St. Anger album.  The documentary, directed by the award-winning team of Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky (Brother's Keeper, Paradise Lost 1-3), won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature.

 

"Two Thumbs Up!" -Ebert and Roper

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"Gotham" blurbs for upcoming episodes

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 24, 2014

Here's how Fox is describing the next two:

“Selina Kyle” – Airing Monday, Sept. 29 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT)

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Watching stuff: "black-ish"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 24, 2014

Tonight includes the return of ABC comedies "The Middle," The Golbergs" and "Modern Family," the ABC drama "Nashville" (nicluding live performances), CBS reality series "Survivor" (resuming the family-feud theme), NBC dramas "Law & Order: SVU" and "Chicago PD," and second episodes of "The Mysteries of Laura" and "Red Band Society."

There is also a noteworthy newcomer, "black-ish," at 9:30 p.m. on ABC, between "Modern Family" and "Nashville." Watch it.

The series stars Anthony Anderson as Andre "Dre" Johnson,  a modern dad who is trying to navigate what seems to be a post-racial world. His children, for instance, are blithely unaware of African-American history, and his wife Rainbow  (Tracee Ellis Ross) is biracial. But Dre's father (the very funny Laurence Fishburne) has not forgotten the old struggles, and Dre himself is aware not only of those lessons, but of racial legacies from Africa -- and that, even in seemingly enlightened times, a word like "urban" is still code for something else.

So what should he do? Should he become what Alessandra Stanley might call an "angry black man"? Should he go full Huxtable? How does he teach his children their ethnic history -- while accepting that their enthusiasm may be for things that Dre cannot help but think of as white? How much of that is not about being black, but about being rich?

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Watching stuff: "NCIS: New Orleans"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 23, 2014

We're just a couple of days into the real start of the TV season, and there's already a backload on the DVR. (Hey, a fella has to sleep. And those student essays aren't grading themselves.) Tonight I will be adding to the pile with "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD," another installment of "Forever" and the season premiere of "NCIS."  I have seen the premiere of "NCIS: New Orleans" and a few notes follow.

I like the original "NCIS." I like the characters, and the plotting is richer than the show generally gets credit for. I never warmed to "NCIS: Los Angeles"; whether because of the storytelling or the character mix, it just seemed like a light reworking of the mother ship. So now we come to "NCIS: New Orleans," and I am on the same fence I was on when it aired as a backdoor pilot on the main "NCIS."

The pluses: Scott Bakula is a very likable actor, able to portray amiability without sacrificing dignity or professional competence. In other words, he is in the same TV-acting tradition as Mark Harmon*, so the idea of him running an "NCIS" series makes perfect sense. They've even been given comparably colorful names: Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Harmon) and Dwayne Cassius Pride (Bakula).

The supporting cast is also appealing. CCH Pounder, for pete's sake, has enhanced shows like "The Shield" and "Warehouse 13." Zoe McLellan could easily have slid into the main "NCIS" after Ziva left -- let's not get started on that, please -- and maybe even mollified some of the Bishop haters. And I've liked Lucas Black ever since he was a kid actor on "American Gothic," and can forgive him "Tokyo Drift." He has a laid-back-but-able quality that makes clear why his LaSalle would be working with Pride; they're almost the same guy. And tonight's telecast shows an entertaining connection between LaSalle and McLellan's Brody.

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Stephen King's "11/22/63" to become Hulu series

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 22, 2014

I liked the novel quite a bit. Let's hope the TV version does not turn into "Under the Dome." The official word: “On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy was killed, and the world changed. What if you could change it back?” Hulu is about to take viewers on a journey to find out in 11/22/63, a new Hulu Original series from J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions (Person of Interest, Fringe, Lost), acclaimed author Stephen King, executive producer/writer Bridget Carpenter (The Red Road, Parenthood, Friday Night Lights) and Warner Bros. Television. The announcement was made today by Craig Erwich, Senior Vice President and Head of Content, Hulu.

 

Based upon the best-selling 2011 novel written by King and published by Scribner, 11/22/63 is a thriller in which high school English teacher Jake Epping travels back in time to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But his mission is threatened by Lee Harvey Oswald, his falling in love and the past itself … which doesn’t want to be changed.

 

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Watching stuff: "Gotham," "Scorpion," "Forever"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 22, 2014

"Gotham" and "Scorpion" premiere tonight; "Forever" gets a boost from a "Dancing With the Stars" lead-in before going to Tuesdays.

I have been telling people to watch "Gotham" for so long, I feel as if I am repeating myself at this point. But if I am going to repeat myself on behalf of a series, this is a good one to do it with.

The series takes place when Bruce Wayne, the future Batman, is a boy; it is during the premiere that his parents are murdered. We are more focused on Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie), who will later be police commissioner and Batman's friend, and who in this telling connects with Bruce in the search for his parents' killer. Even more to the point of this grim series, Gotham City is already a cesspool of corruption and criminality, and Gordon is a rare righteous man in the middle of it. Even as he is trying to do right, he is faced by other criminal masterminds (notably one played by Jada Pinkett Smith) and intersecting with people who will become the Riddler, Penguin, Poison Ivy, Catwoman -- and, from my reading of Batman lore, the Joker.

Thus, while we are getting just an early piece of the Batman origin, we are getting an array of other origin stories -- and we are seeing how Gordon can survive in this world. The premiere as a whole, and especially the ending, make clear that he will not get by easily. It almost seems as if the best he can hope for is something out of "Red Harvest," the Dashiell Hammett novel -- that the criminals will get busy killing each other and so clean up some crime. Well, at least until the Penguin et al. begin their own mad sprees. And by  then, what will have become of Gordon's soul?

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Fall TV preview podcast: What to watch this season

By Dan Kadar Published: September 22, 2014
gotham

Akron Beacon Journal and Ohio.com pop culture reporter Rich Heldenfels previews this fall's slate of TV shows. There are several big network shows are returning this week. Rich lets us know which to watch and some new shows to check out.

 

Short on time? Here's a show rundown if you want to skip ahead: 

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Slagging Shonda

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 19, 2014

Let's say you watch "NCIS." You don't watch all of it, but an episode here and there. And when you do, the only thing you look at is Mark Harmon. The only thing you think about is Mark Harmon. And then, when writing about "NCIS," you call the piece "How To Get Away With Being a Grumpy Old White Dude."

Of course, that's an unfair description of "NCIS." Yet it is also, in essence, what Alessandra Stanley did in a recent contemplation of Shonda Rhimes. It's the sort of piece that manages to patronizingly pat its subject on the head with a muttered "aren't you something?" before sending the subject off on its now throughly baffled way.

Rhimes herself has quite justifiably taken issue with the work by the famously error-prone Stanley, who adds to that reputation here, getting a basic fact wrong, while showing a racist and elitist streak so considerable that reading the piece not only makes you wonder about Stanley but why no editor questioned Stanley's interpretation before letting it appear in the Times.

I cannot say I am an absolute admirer of Rhjmes's work. I jumped off "Grey's Anatomy" years ago, and never embraced "Private Practice." But I love "Scandal" and her new series, "How To Get Away With Murder," is among my favorite new pilots this season.

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"Justified" casting: Sam Elliott! A "Deadwood" reunion!

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 19, 2014

When I saw that Elliott was coming to "Justified," I thought, what took so long? And Dillahunt did a couple of turns on "Deadwood," which also featured Timothy Olyphant. The official word: FX has cast Sam Elliott and Garret Dillahunt in recurring roles on its critically-acclaimed, award-winning drama series Justified, which enters its final season January 2015.

 

Sam Elliott will portray “Markham,” a legendary Kentucky gangster who returns from exile with a private army and bags of cash (earned growing legal weed in Colorado), hell-bent on winning back his empire and the lost love of his life, Katherine Hale (Mary Steenburgen).  He'll find himself butting heads with Raylan and Boyd and even with Katherine herself, who secretly believes that Markham is the rat who brought down her husband.

 

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Nick Frost joins "Doctor Who" Christmas special

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 19, 2014

It also features Patrick Troughton's son. The official word: Production on 2014's Doctor Who Christmas episode has begun, with a host of British acting talent set to appear.  The Doctor Who Christmas special, a cracker of a highlight in the festive season’s schedule, will air Christmas Day on BBC AMERICA and promises to be an action-packed adventure.

 

Nick Frost, actor and screen writer, has starred in numerous hit film and television roles, including Spaced, The World’s End, Shaun of The Dead, Hot Fuzz, Cuban Fury and Paul, which he also wrote.

 

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FX orders more "Tyrant"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 18, 2014

The official word: FX has ordered a 13-episode second season of the drama series Tyrant, from Emmy® and Golden Globe® Award-winning Executive Producer/Showunner Howard Gordon, it was announced today by Nick Grad and Eric Schrier, the Presidents of Original Programming for FX Networks and FX Productions.

 

Production of Tyrant is scheduled to begin next spring with the second season returning in the summer of 2015.

 

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Video - Two Guys Talkin': Stuff we don't want edition

By Ohio.com Published: September 18, 2014

That free U2 album isn't the only "free" thing that's upset our two guys.

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"DWTS": Why Lolo had to go-go

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 17, 2014

After being the first one kicked off this season of "Dancing With the Stars," Lolo Jones wrote a long Facebook post about it. Here's the text:

My prayer tonight is for God to soften me and my heart. When you go so many times rejected in public you put walls up. When I was dancing last night and messed up I had flashbacks of the three Olympics and that people constantly tease me about. I thought oh no here it comes again. People are going to ridicule me. I'm so tired of feeling embarrassed.

I joined the other competitors upstairs and I couldn't force a smile on my face. I felt like vomiting and in between the other dances I went in a back room and fought back tears. I felt so broken. So unlovable. Embarssed.

My brief time on #DWTS was a lasting lesson. I really wanted to stay on the show and have the layers of hurt wash away by showing the public how hard I work. I wanted to come away a victor for once. I wanted to do so good performing in public that the haters would stop teasing me.

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Watching stuff: "Red Band Society," "The Mysteries of Laura"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 16, 2014

A couple of new series get early premieres on Wednesday, both hoping to benefit from special lead-ins. "The Mysteries of Laura" (10 p.m.) on NBC follows the season finale of "America's Got Talent," and Fox's "Red Band Society" (9 p.m.)  will be after the time-period premiere of "Hell's Kitchen."

I have watched the pilots for each show more than once, and I will be back for more of "Red Band Society." I have seen all I need of "The Mysteries of Laura." In fact, you can watch the trailer for it above and get all you need in about three minutes -- including a serious spoiler.

But let me talk about "Red Band Society" first. It concerns teens in a pediatric hospital ward, some of whom have been there a long time, all of whom have major medical problems -- cancer, an eating disorder and, for the narrator, a coma. There are adults around, notably Octavia Spencer as the no-nonsense nurse in charge of the ward, but the focus is on the young people.

While this is based on a Spanish series, it also owes a debt to "The Fault in Our Stars," which in both book and movie form presented articulate and attractive young people whose medical struggles do not prevent them from misbehavior, cleverness and romance.

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DVD notes: "Penny Dreadful," "The Following" Season 2, more

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 16, 2014

Some announcements in the email:

The acclaimed SHOWTIME® original series PENNY DREADFUL – SEASON ONE will arrive on Blu-ray Disc and DVD October 14.  From Showtime Networks, CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Media Distribution, the Blu-ray and DVD collections will include every episode of the series’ first season, celebrated by critics as “scary, seductive, surprising, and smart” (NPR) and “solidly entertaining, well cast and oozing with atmosphere” (Variety). Both Blu-ray and DVD collections also boast extensive special features that delve into the gripping thriller.

From three-time Oscar® nominee John Logan (Skyfall, Hugo, Gladiator) and Oscar winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Skyfall), PENNY DREADFUL is a frightening psychosexual drama that weaves together classic horror origin stories into a gripping series that is “moody, mystical and wonderfully twisted” (Cleveland Plain Dealer). PENNY DREADFUL, starring Josh Hartnett (Black Hawk Down), Timothy Dalton (The Living Daylights) and Eva Green (Casino), completely reinvents literature’s most famous characters. Icons of terror such as Victor Frankenstein, Dorian Gray and timeless figures from Dracula join a core of original characters in a dark and brutal quest to save a soul – even as they grapple with their own monstrous temptations.

The series also stars Reeve Carney (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark), Rory Kinnear (Skyfall), Billie Piper (Doctor Who, Secret Diary of a Call Girl), Danny Sapani (The Bill) and Harry Treadaway (The Lone Ranger). A co-production of Sky Atlantic, PENNY DREADFUL was created, written and executive produced by John Logan and executive produced by Logan's Desert Wolf Productions, along with Sam Mendes and Pippa Harris (Revolutionary Road, Call The Midwife), both of Neal Street.

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Whitney Houston's first album of live performances coming in November

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 16, 2014

The official word: Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, has announced plans to release Whitney Houston Live: Her Greatest Performances, on Monday November 10th. The six-time Grammy-award winning singer’s first-ever live album features the most memorable live performances from her storied career. The album will also be available as a CD/DVD, which includes stunning videos of Houston’s most unforgettable performances, reinforcing her as one of the greatest vocalists of all time. Both the audio and visual content have undergone state of the art restoration and remastering.

 

Fans are now able to pre-order the CD/DVD from the Whitney Houston official fansite (http://smarturl.it/WH_Live_d2c) to get their names included on an exclusive poster. A limited edition fan bundle, which includes a purple vinyl, is offered on the site as well. Both the CD/DVD and the CD are also available for pre-order on Amazon (http://smarturl.it/WH_LiveDVD_amzn) and iTunes (http://smarturl.it/WH_LiveDVD_itunes)

 

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"WKRP in Cincinnati" to DVD with restored music

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 15, 2014

You may recall a previous release but, as I said of a first-season DVD, it "bears the warning 'some of the original musical content has been edited for this DVD release.' So instead of period tunes, you'll be hearing a lot of generic sounds" Shout! Factory is trying to bring back the classic soundtrack. The official word:

When it comes to the music on-air, nobody does it better than WKRP In Cincinnati. On October 28, 2014, Shout! Factory will release the highly anticipated WKRP In Cincinnati: The Complete Series in a 13-disc set. The box set contains loads of bonus features and original music including tracks by artists such as The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC, Eric Clapton, Bob Marley, The Doors, Grateful Dead, Blondie, Tom Petty, The Cars, Elvis Costello, Marvin Gaye, Paul McCartney and Wings, Van Morrison, The Police, Otis Redding & more, all waiting to transport viewers back in time to that wacky radio station in Ohio.

Order from ShoutFactory.com and get free standard U.S. shipping, five weeks early, on September 23.

Pairing an impeccable ensemble cast with sharp wit and great tunes, WKRP In Cincinnati celebrated four amazing seasons, making it the quintessential sitcom for music lovers.  Join everyone's favorite radio DJs—the rockin' Dr. Johnny Fever (Howard Hesseman) and the soulful Venus Flytrap (Tim Reid)—as they weave through the inner-office antics of the crazy WKRP staff; including the station's program director Andy (Gary Sandy), indecisive manager Arthur (Gordon Jump), advertising executive Herb (Frank Bonner), quirky news man Les Nessman (Richard Sanders), young ingénue Bailey (Jan Smithers) and, of course, the station's lovely receptionist, Jennifer (Loni Anderson).  

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Hello, Fall TV

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 14, 2014

You can find my package of stories and lists relating to the coming months of broadcast TV here. Dive in.

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TNT orders second "First"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 12, 2014

The official word:

TNT has ordered a second season of its powerful crime drama Murder in the First, starring Taye Diggs (Private Practice) and Kathleen Robertson (Boss). The series, which is executive produced by Emmy® winner Steven Bochco (NYPD Blue) and Eric Lodal, ranked as one of basic cable's Top 10 series of the summer. TNT has ordered 10 episodes for the second season.

 

Over the summer, Murder in the First took viewers deep inside a complex homicide investigation that spanned the entire season. The series followed San Francisco homicide detectives Terry English (Diggs) and Hildy Mulligan (Robertson) as they investigated two seemingly unrelated murders. The mystery deepened, however, when they found that both murders had a common denominator in a Silicon Valley wunderkind.

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Things I learned from the "Survivor's Remorse" screening

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 12, 2014

The comedy, which has LeBron James as an executive producer and is inspired by his life and his friendship with Maverick Carter, premieres on Starz on Oct. 4. On Thursday, an invitation-only preview of two episodes was held at the Capitol Theatre in Cleveland, followed by a somewhat stilted Q&A with Carter, James, executive producer Tom Werner and Johnny Manziel, moderated by Karen Civil.

I wrote a brief story about the event, but because of space and deadlines did not get into as much detail as I would have liked. So here are some other things I heard.

Survivor's Remorse is and isn't about James and Carter. The inspiration is clearly the friendship between those two, reflected in the show's relationship between Cam Calloway (Jessie T. Usher), a basketball star who has gone from undrafted player to mega-contract getter, and his cousin Reggie Vaughn (RonReaco Lee), who is serving as Cam's advisor/manager. Local folks, for that matter, will see more than a little of the public image of LeBron's mother Gloria in Cam's mother Cassie (the splendid Tichina Arnold). But even as Carter acknowledged that some of the characters derived from ones in his own life. he was adamant about the characters being fictional creations from actor-writer Mike O'Malley (Glee. Justified). And it's not just the surface details -- Cam is from Boston and playing for an Atlanta team -- that are different. So are some supporting characters and the dynamics among them.

James's role in the series is to be "empowering." Busy with his fulltime job and other projects, such as acting in a movie this summer, James did not even visit the set of Survivor's Remorse during its shoot last spring. Carter said he and Werner (a TV legend from his work on The Cosby Show, Roseanne and other programs) pitched the series to Starz. But getting a meeting with Starz, and everything else that Carter's and James's Spring Hill Productions does going forward, happens in large measure because James is a big name who is going to get meetings and deals that might not happen otherwise.

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A Democrat. A Republican. An island. "Rival Survival"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 11, 2014

The official word: At a time when partisanship in U.S. politics litters the media landscape, Discovery Channel’s RIVAL SURVIVAL brings together two real world political adversaries and maroons them on a remote island for a week. Disconnected from the world on an uninhabited island surrounded by shark infested waters that mirror the seemingly treacherous terrain of the U.S. Congress, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) must put their political differences aside and work together for six days and six nights to find common ground through compromise if they want to survive in RIVAL SURVIVAL which premieres on Discovery October 29 at 10PM ET/PT. 

 

Sen. Flake, a true conservative Republican, served in the U.S. House of Representatives for six consecutive terms from 2001-2013 prior to his election to the U.S. Senate. Sen. Flake is a self-described reformer who attacks government spending and is vocal on hot-button issues like immigration reform. Last year, Sen. Flake and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) were part of the "Gang of 8" who teamed up to try to change immigration policies in the U.S.  Sen. Heinrich, a member of the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is a self-described conservationist and a strong progressive voice from New Mexico on issues that include education, health care and social security. Polar opposites and often at odds in the Senate, these two men must come together to take on the island of Eru, Marshall Islands, an utterly unforgiving deserted destination where the reefs alone are fraught with dangers that include venomous stonefish, lionfish and scorpion fish.

In RIVAL SURVIVAL, our senatorial adversaries turned survival teammates are given a modest choice of items from which they can select only three. Using only these limited resources and their wits, the pair must work together as they attempt to spear fish, build shelter and find enough water to survive for one week.  There is no natural source for fresh water on Eru, and what lives in the ocean will be their major food source. This unusual pairing will leave behind the daily life of congressional staff, senate hearings and committee meetings to navigate the rigors of surviving on an isolated island with no contact with the outside world to call upon for help. 

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With the portrayal of domestic violence in pop culture, some just don't get the reality of Ray Rice

By Ohio.com Published: September 11, 2014

Has the presentation of domestic violence in movies and TV warped how we react to it in our lives? That's the topic of discussion this week for Beacon Journal pop culture writer Rich Heldenfels.

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Barbra Streisand makes first late-night talk appearance in 50+ years ...

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 11, 2014

... and it's on "The Tonight Show." The announcement:

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” welcomes Barbra Streisand on Monday, September 15 (11:35pm ET on NBC) for a night of talk, comedy and performance to celebrate the upcoming release of her new album “Partners.” 

The visit will mark Streisand’s first U.S. late-night talk show guest appearance in over 50 years. Streisand will be the only featured guest on Monday’s show.

Streisand’s album “Partners” is set to be released by Columbia Records on September 16. The project features 12 new duets with world renowned male vocalists including Andrea Bocelli, Michael Bublé, Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds, Jason Gould, Josh Groban, Billy Joel, John Legend, John Mayer, Lionel Richie, Blake Shelton, Stevie Wonder and an one-of-a-kind virtual duet with Elvis Presley.

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Cumberbatch/Miller "Frankenstein" returns to theaters in October

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 10, 2014

As you may know, the production had Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternating who played Frankenstein and who the Creature. You can find participating theaters at www.ntlive.com. There are some Northeast Ohio venues. The official word:

Due to unprecedented audience demand, NATIONAL THEATRE LIVE is pleased to announce special encore screenings of The National Theatre of Great Britain’s acclaimed Olivier Award winning production of FRANKENSTEIN, a play by Nick Dear based on Mary Shelley’s novel. The production stars Olivier Award winners Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, and directed by Academy Award-winner Danny Boyle, in select cinemas worldwide on October 27 & 29, 2014. Tickets go on sale beginning this Friday, September 12. Dates vary at venues internationally and further screenings will follow.

The production was a sell-out hit at the National Theatre in 2011, and the broadcast has since become an international sensation, experienced by almost half a million people in cinemas around the world. In this new adaptation, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternated in the roles of Victor Frankenstein and the Creature. National Theatre Live filmed FRANKENSTEIN twice so audiences could experience Cumberbatch and Miller in each role.

 

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Chris Pratt to host "SNL" season premiere on Sept. 27; Sarah Silverman's next

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 10, 2014

Considering Pratt's resume, and all the people musical guest Ariana Grande works with, there are plenty of opportunities for surprise appearances.

The official word: SNL's 40th season starts with Chris Pratt taking the 8H stage as host.  The "Parks and Recreation" actor starred in this summer’s box office smash "Guardians of the Galaxy," and will be seen in the upcoming film "Jurassic World."


Ariana Grande will make her SNL musical guest debut. Grande is currently sitting at Number One on the Billboard 200 chart with her album "My Everything," a year after her major label debut "Yours Truly" topped the chart.


On October 4, Sarah Silverman will return to 8H for her first time as host.  Taken from Silverman’s Emmy-winning HBO special, her comedy album “Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles” is due out September 23.

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HBO sets return dates for "Comeback," "Newsroom," "Getting On"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 9, 2014

The official word: HBO has confirmed that the new seasons of THE NEWSROOM, THE COMEBACK and GETTING ON will debut back-to-back on SUNDAY, NOV. 9, starting at 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT).

THE NEWSROOM begins its six-episode, third and final season, SUNDAY, NOV.
9 (9:00-10:00 p.m.). Created by showrunner Aaron Sorkin, the drama series follows the
members of a cable news team on their quixotic mission to do the news well in the face of a fickle audience, corporate mandates and tangled personal relationships. Sorkin, Scott Rudin and Alan Poul return as executive producers, with Paul Lieberstein joining the show as an executive producer. Returning cast regulars include Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer,Sam Waterston, John Gallagher, Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, Dev Patel and Olivia Munn.


THE COMEBACK returns for its eight-episode season SUNDAY, NOV. 9 (10:00-
10:30 p.m.). The limited comedy series stars Lisa Kudrow as the embattled Valerie
Cherish, a fading TV “It Girl” who was once so desperate to stay in the spotlight that she allowed cameras to follow her every move as she appeared on a new sitcom – with disastrous results. Now, it’s ten years later, and Valerie thinks she has it all figured out this time. She doesn’t.

Created by Michael Patrick King and Lisa Kudrow, who serve as executive producers along with Dan Bucatinsky.

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Jim Doney, RIP

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 9, 2014

 

Neil Zurcher reports on Facebook that the newscaster and "Adventure Road" host has passed away in his Florida retirement home

Doney, a native Clevelander, joined WJW in 1953 as a general announcer and weekend newscaster. He also worked in local radio, as well as hosting "Adventure Road" from 1962 to 1975. That show was his major claim to TV fame.

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DVD/Blu-ray notes: "A Most Wanted Man," "Sharknado 2," "Sherlock" gift set, "Houdini," more

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 8, 2014

Some recent announcements...

"A Most Wanted Man":

In what would become his final starring performance, Academy Award® winner Philip Seymour Hoffman (Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Capote, 2005) leads an impressive all-star cast in the "tense spy thriller" (Wall Street Journal) A Most Wanted Man, coming out of the shadows and onto Blu-ray™ (plus Digital HD), DVD (plus Digital) and On Demand November 4 from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. Directed by Anton Corbijn (The American), the 2014 theatrical release will be available on Digital HD October 28. Inspired by true eventsand adapted from the acclaimed novel by master spy novelist John le Carré (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Constant Gardener) and adapted by Andrew Bovell, A Most Wanted Man boasts powerhouse performances fromRachel McAdams (The Vow, Red Eye), Golden Globe® winner Robin Wright (TV's "House of Cards," Forrest Gump) and Academy Award®nominee Willem Dafoe (Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Platoon, 1986).

 

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Local cook on TNT's "On the Menu" series premiere

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 8, 2014

Says TNT: Cleveland resident, and home cook Daniel Marks will be competing to have his recipe featured on Chili’s menu.  ...Daniel is a logistical genius- he’s a government Consultant for immigration customs. He’s obsessed with BBQ. His love for cooking comes from his mother, who passed away when he was 20. He cooks to keep her memory alive. Getting his dish on the menu would be the ultimate homage to her.

Here are the basics about the show:

TNT has unveiled the 10 restaurant chains that have signed on for the first season of On the Menu, the network's revolutionary new cooking competition show. Host Ty Pennington (Trading Spaces, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition) and legendary Chef Emeril Lagasse (Emeril Live, Top Chef, Emeril's Florida) headline the series in which everyday cooks will vie for the chance to have their own dishes served in major restaurant chains across the country. On the Menu is set to premiere on TNT Friday, Oct. 3 at 8 p.m. (ET/PT).

 

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New boss at Sesame Workshop

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 8, 2014

The official word: Vincent A. Mai, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Sesame Workshop, announced today the appointment of Jeffrey D. Dunn as President and Chief Executive Officer of Sesame Workshop, effective September 29, 2014. Mr. Dunn, formerly the President and CEO of HiT Entertainment, will succeed Mel Ming who announced his retirement earlier this year. Mr. Dunn will lead the nonprofit educational organization in its mission to use the educational power of media to help all children reach their highest potential.

 

Mr. Dunn currently serves as a 2014 Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow at Harvard University with a focus on media and education. Previously, he served as President and CEO of HiT Entertainment from 2008 until 2012. HiT was one of the world’s leading independent children’s entertainment producers airing its content in more than 160 countries around the world, primarily on public broadcasters. HiT’s signature property was Thomas & Friends, which was the world’s leading boys’ preschool brand. Before joining HiT, Dunn served as Group Chief Operating Officer of the Nickelodeon Networks group and the President of Nickelodeon Film and Enterprises, where, among other things, he built Nickelodeon’s international networks business and oversaw the growth of Blue’s Clues, SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer into three of the world’s largest licensed property brands. 

 

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SiriusXM to have Barbra Streisand channel beginning Friday

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 8, 2014

It's a temporary deal, like the Billy Joel channel. Here's the announcement:

SiriusXM announced today that it will launch The Barbra Streisand Channel, an exclusive channel featuring the works of Grammy, Oscar, Emmy and Tony award-winning artist Barbra Streisand.


The limited-run channel will launch on Friday, September 12 at 5:00 pm ET and will run through Friday, October 10, via satellite on Sirius channel 69 and XM channel 73. The Barbra Streisand Channel will also be available online on channel 69 and through the SiriusXM Internet Radio App.

The Barbra Streisand Channel, the exclusive, limited-run channel, will feature music spanning Streisand's legendary career, from her 1963 debut through her newest album, Partners, scheduled to be released on September 16. The channel will be fully dedicated to Barbra Streisand's extensive body of work and will include selections from her live and studio recordings. The channel will also include Streisand's personal song selections from her catalog, spanning 50 years.

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CBS names James Corden "Late, Late Show" host

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 8, 2014

There was so much discussion of Corden becoming Craig Ferguson's replacement, I thought it was already official. But CBS made this announcement today:\

The CBS Television Network announced today that James Corden will be the new host of THE LATE LATE SHOW. Corden – a multi-faceted performer, host, writer and producer with accomplishments that span television, theater, film and comedy – will take the reins of the daily late night show in 2015.

 

The 36-year-old Corden comes to American late night television with a growing list of award-winning and critically acclaimed credits. He is a Tony Award-winning performer on Broadway, a BAFTA-winning star of a UK television series, a feature film actor with two releases this year, and an acclaimed host, writer and producer in several genres of television.

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Bruce Morton, RIP

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 5, 2014

The longtime TV newsman was 83. I remember talking with him one day in 1995, when he was working on a piece about Kent State. I have included that text below the CBS announcement.

The announcement:

Bruce Morton, an award-winning political correspondent for CBS News who also covered the Vietnam War and the space program, died today (5) at his home in Washington, D.C., after a battle with cancer. He was 83. 

Morton spent most of a distinguished six-decade career on television and radio for  CBS News, where he made a record 146 appearances on television in 1988 alone.  He left CBS in 1993  after 29 years to join CNN; he retired from that organization in 2006.

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HBO schedules James Brown documentary

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 5, 2014

Mick Jagger is a producer; he was also key to the making of "Get On Up," the recent James Brown biopic starring Chadwick Boseman. The official word on the documentary:

HBO has acquired the U.S. and Canadian TV rights to the feature-length documentary MR. DYNAMITE: THE RISE OF JAMES BROWN, directed by Oscar® winner Alex Gibney and produced by Mick Jagger, with debut scheduled for MONDAY, OCT. 27 (9:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.

 

James Brown changed the face of American music forever. Charting his journey from rhythm and blues to funk, MR. DYNAMITE: THE RISE OF JAMES BROWN was made with the unique cooperation of the Brown Estate, which opened its archives for the first time. The documentary features rare and never-before-seen footage, interviews and photographs, chronicling the musical ascension of the "hardest working man in show business," from his first hit, "Please, Please, Please," in 1956, to his iconic performances at the Apollo Theater, the T.A.M.I. Show, the Paris Olympia and more.

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Joan Rivers, RIP

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 4, 2014

I remember reading Joan Rivers’ book I Hate Everyone … Starting With Me and at once wanting to put it down and not to. It was so mean. So nasty. But so funny.

That was the problem with Rivers, who died today. She didn’t seem to care what she said as long as you kept listening to her, coming to her shows, watching her on Celebrity Apprentice. She brushed  aside any criticisms regarding taste or propriety with the insistence that it was just a joke.

Of course, damn few things are just a joke, as Rivers herself knew. She had made enough of them after all. She’d heard more than a few about herself.

And the joke that stung, the joke that echoed – that was comedy gold. Kathy Griffin gets close to it, but there’s still a jollity to her celebrity barbs that softens Rivers’s rage. Even with her own malice unleashed, Ann Coulter is a wannabe next to Rivers at her best, or worst. Roger Ebert called her “a sadist of comedy.”

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Chagrin Documentary Film Fest tickets on sale

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 4, 2014

The official word: Tickets, event passes and online program are now available for the upcoming Chagrin Documentary Film Festival, Oct. 8-12. In just five weeks, Chagrin Falls will be bustling as an anticipated record-breaking crowd celebrates the power and passion of the documentary film at the five-day festival featuring more than 70 documentary films being shown in venues throughout the town. The full lineup, including special event information, can be found in the 2014 program here. 

Filmmakers from across the country and around the world will be attending to share insights about their films and to attend the Festival Awards Ceremony at the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre on Saturday, Oct. 11. Dewey Forward, proprietor of the iconic Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop, will serve as Master of Ceremony for the awards presentation.

The Festival kicks off Wednesday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. with opening film “The Curse and the Symphony” directed by David Schulte, at the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre. Guest speaker will be Ivan Schwarz, Executive Director of the Greater Cleveland Film Commission. The documentaries presented at the 5th Anniversary Festival highlight thought-provoking topics, tales of the power of the human spirit, and even humor. A few highlights of the Festival’s 2014 program include:

·         Perseverance: The Story of Dr. Billy Taylor, directed by Dan Chace. The Ohio premiere of a real life story of an improbable comeback, this powerful film traces the life, downfall and recovery of one of the University of Michigan’s greatest running backs, Billy Taylor. Dr. Taylor will be on hand for the film on Thursday, Oct. 9, 2:00 p.m. at Judson Manor. An additional screening will be on Thursday evening, 7:45 p.m. at the United Methodist Church of Chagrin Falls.

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BET Hip Hop Awards nominees announced

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 4, 2014

The official word: Back by popular demand, Uncle Snoop and BET Networks team up once again to present the biggest night of hip hop with cyphers and legendary tributes that encompass the BET “HIP HOP AWARDS” 2014!  Highly respected with more than 20 years in the industry, Uncle Snoop continues to set trends and pave the way for both new and established artists.  At last year’s “Hip Hop Awards,” Uncle Snoop opened the show OG style, participated in star-studded performances and revealed the persona of his moniker DJ Snoopadelic by spinning on the turntables for various artists. “I’m looking forward to returning to host the BET Hip Hop Awards after the success of last year’s show,” said Uncle Snoop. “This year we are coming back with a bigger and better show, packed with surprises for everyone. You don’t want to miss it, ya hear me?” 

 

This year Drake leads the BET “Hip Hop Awards” 2014 with eight impressive nominations for ‘Best Hip Hop Video,’ ‘Best Live Performer,’ ‘Lyricist of the Year,’ ‘MVP of the Year,’ ‘Album of the Year,’ ‘Hustler of the Year,’ ‘Sweet 16: Best Featured Verse,’ and the coveted ‘People’s Champ Award.’  Followed by JAY Z, Future and Pharrell who each received six nods; Nicki Minaj, Rich Homie Quan and YG garnered five HHA nominations.

 

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Canton Film Fest plans, schedule announced

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 4, 2014

Guests include Brannon Braga. The official word: Cantonfilm.com, in association with the Canton Palace Theatre, will host the 2014 Canton Film Festival in downtown Canton on October 2, 3 and 4, 2014. During this three-day film forward event, the public will get the chance to screen the short films of independent directors from Canton, North East Ohio and all across the country.

 

Tickets start at just $5 per block. An All Festival Pass is $40 and includes admission to all movie events and the VIP Reception on Saturday afternoon at Basil Asian Bistro.  Tickets can be purchased online at www.cantonpalacetheatre.org or by calling the Palace Box Office at 330.454.8172 Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm.  

 

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Kennedy Center Honors includes Al Green, Tom Hanks, Sting, Lily Tomlin, Patricia McBride

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 4, 2014

The official word from CBS: Singer Al Green; actor and filmmaker Tom Hanks; ballerina Patricia McBride; singer-songwriter Sting; and comedienne Lily Tomlin will receive honors for 2014 on THE 37TH ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS, to be broadcast Tuesday, Dec. 30 (9:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. CBS has broadcast the special each year since its debut 37 years ago.

 

In a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, the 2014 Honorees will be saluted by great performers from Hollywood and the arts capitals of the world. Seated with President and Mrs. Obama, the Honorees will accept the thanks of their peers and fans through performances and heartfelt tributes. 

 

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Melissa McCarthy's "Tammy" headed to DVD/Blu-ray/digital

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 4, 2014

The official word: Prepare for your holiday road trip when “Tammy” arrives onto Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD on November 11 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Oscar® nominee Melissa McCarthy (“Bridesmaids”) and Academy Award® winner Susan Sarandon (“Dead Man Walking”) embark on an unforgettable highway adventure in “Tammy,” marking Ben Falcone’s directorial debut.

 

“Tammy” stars Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon, alongside Allison Janney (“The Help”), playing Tammy’s world-weary mom, Deb; Gary Cole (TV’s “VEEP”) as ladies’ man Earl; and Mark Duplass (HBO’s “Togetherness”) as his son, Bobby; with Dan Aykroyd (“The Campaign”) as Tammy’s dad, Don; and Academy Award® winner Kathy Bates (“Misery,” “Midnight in Paris”) as Pearl’s fun-loving cousin Lenore. Rounding out the cast are Sandra Oh (TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy”) as Lenore’s partner, Susanne; Oscar® nominee Toni Collette (“The Sixth Sense”) as Tammy’s neighbor, Missi; and Nat Faxon (“Bad Teacher”) as Tammy’s husband, Greg.

 

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"Unauthorized Saved by the Bell" TV movie on DVD on Nov. 4

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 4, 2014

The official word: Go back in time to Bayside High School and get a behind-the-scenes look at America's favorite teens when The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story arrives on DVD November 4 from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. Timed to the 25th anniversary of the premiere of the iconic series, the tell-all TV movie based on Dustin Diamond, aka "Screech" Powers' book Behind the Bell, will shine light onto the on and off-screen drama of the hit '90s television sitcom that changed the face of American Saturday morning television. Featuring a brand new cast hand-picked by the original casting director for "Saved by the Bell," Robin Lippin, The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $14.98.

 

Lifetime®'s The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story follows six young, unknown actors thrust into the Hollywood spotlight and exposed to the challenges of growing up under public scrutiny. The movie goes behind-the-scenes to portray their struggle to maintain the squeaky-clean image of their popular characters both on and off-screen.

 

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"Jersey Boys" DVD/Blu-ray/digital coming in November

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 4, 2014

The official word: Based on the Tony Award-winning musical, “Jersey Boys” arrives onto Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD on November 11 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Directed by Oscar® winner Clint Eastwood (“Million Dollar Baby,” “Unforgiven”), “Jersey Boys” is an inspiring drama featuring The Four Seasons’ songs that influenced a generation.

 

“Jersey Boys” stars John Lloyd Young, who reprises his Tony Award-winning portrayal of the legendary lead singer of The Four Seasons, Frankie Valli. Erich Bergen stars as Bob Gaudio, who wrote or co-wrote all of the group’s biggest hits. Michael Lomenda and Vincent Piazza star respectively as Nick Massi and Tommy DeVito, two original members of The Four Seasons. Oscar® winner Christopher Walken (“The Deer Hunter”) stars as mobster Gyp DeCarlo.

 

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Performers in Rock Hall tribute to Everlys announced

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 4, 2014

Still hoping Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones will get into this. The official word:

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and Case Western Reserve University are pleased to announce the lineup of artists honoring the Everly Brothers at the 19th annual Music Masters® tribute concert on Saturday, October 25, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. at PlayhouseSquare’s State Theatre. Don Everly will appear to accept the Annual Music Masters honor.

Tribute concert performers scheduled to appear include:
• Two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Graham Nash
• Peter Asher
• Vince Gill
• Emmylou Harris
• Shelby Lynne
• The Secret Sisters
• Additional guests will be announced soon. 

Two-time Grammy Award winner Rodney Crowell will serve as musical director for the tribute concert. The house band will feature Grammy Award winning guitarist Albert Lee, who served as musical director for the Everly Brothers’ 1983 reunion concert.

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New "The View" cast

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 4, 2014

The announcement: It’s official! The panel is now complete. Rosie Perez and Nicolle Wallace are the new co-hosts of “The View” joining moderator Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O’Donnell. The new season will be unlike any in recent history and premieres live on MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15 (11:00 a.m.-12:00 noon, ET) on the ABC Television Network. 

 

“These are powerful and accomplished women from different walks of life who have had amazing personal and professional experiences. Each brings incredible perspective and information to the table,” said Bill Wolff, executive producer. “This mix of smart, vibrant and energetic women is unlike anything else on daytime television.”

 

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I know, it's September. Idina Menzel announces her Christmas album -- and it's coming in October

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 4, 2014

The title is Holiday Wishes. Gwen Stefani calls it Holiduh Wershes.  John Travolta says Hmdrflbdy Wrshnes.

The official word: Tony Award-winning singer/actor Idina Menzel will release a Christmas album, entitled Holiday Wishes, on October 14th on Warner Bros. Records. The album was produced by Grammy Award-winner Walter Afanasieff (Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey) and features such classic favorites as "A Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," as well as Joni Mitchell's Christmas-themed "River," one of Menzel's favorites. More info about Holiday Wishes, including the full track-listing and special guests, will be revealed soon.

 

Menzel's career has traversed stage, film, television, and music. She was most recently heard as Elsa in Disney's global box office smash Frozen, in which she sings the film's Oscar-winning song "Let It Go." After Menzel's performance of the multi-platinum song at the 86th annual Academy Awards, she made history as the first person with both a Billboard Top 10 hit and a Tony Award for acting.

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Lea Thompson, Lolo Jones, Alfonso Ribeiro join latest "Dancing With the Stars" cast

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 4, 2014

The full, official word; This season’s cast of celebrity dancers includes a fashion icon, a YouTube sensation, a NASCAR legend, and a movie star, to name a few. The stars will grace the ballroom floor for the first time on live national television with their professional partners during the two-hour season premiere of “Dancing with the Stars,” which airs MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15 (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. One couple will be eliminated on the “Dancing with the Stars” results show the following day, on TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET).

The thirteen professional dancers teaching the celebrity cast how to bring heat to the dance floor are Mark Ballas, Cheryl Burke, Sharna Burgess, Witney Carson, Artem Chigvintsev, Valentin Chmerkovskiy, Tony Dovolani, Allison Holker, Derek Hough, Keo Motsepe, Peta Murgatroyd, Emma Slater and Karina Smirnoff. Two-time Mirrorball champion and movie star Julianne Hough joins Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba at the judges’ desk.
As announced this morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America” by “Dancing with the Stars” hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews, the 13 celebrities with their professional partners heading to the dance floor this season (in alphabetical order) are:

JONATHAN BENNETT -- Though his striking good looks may have made Jonathan Bennett an object of affection for the ‘plastics’ in “Mean Girls,” his talent and commitment are what have led him to become one of the most sought after young actors in Hollywood. Bennett’s first foray into feature films was in Paramount’s smash hit “Mean Girls” from producer Lorne Michaels and writer Tina Fey, in which he starred opposite Lindsay Lohan. In the romantic comedy “Lovewrecked” for the Weinstein Co., Bennett transitioned into the love interest of Amanda Bynes. He has since starred as Bo Duke in Warner Bros. prequel to “The Dukes of Hazard,” the comedy romp “Bachelor Party Vegas,” in Fox’s sequel to the hit comedy “Cheaper by the Dozen,” as Steve Martin’s antagonistic son-in-law, and as the title role in “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder: Freshman Year.”

More recently, Bennett executive produced and starred in the film “Authors Anonymous” opposite Kaley Cuoco. He continues to wear his producing hat, as well as carry a supporting role in the feature “Pawn” with Ray Liotta and Academy Award-winner Forest Whitaker. More recently, Bennett wrapped the dramatic thriller “Submerged,” the comedy “Do Over,” the crime thriller “Paid in Full,” and the Lifetime telefilm “Romantically Speaking” opposite “Glee” star Heather Morris. Originally from Ohio, Bennett currently resides in Los Angeles where he continues to hone his craft. JONATHAN BENNETT partners with new “Dancing with the Stars” pro ALLISON HOLKER. Follow @j_benntt, @AllisonHolker

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Larry States retiring

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 2, 2014

Longtime radio newsman Larry States will retire at the end of September.

States said Tuesday that he was retiring to take of his wife, Wanda, who has ataxia, a brain disorder that affects coordination. “Intellectually it is not a problem,” States said. But the physical challenges can be enormous.

States, 62, has been with WAKR (1590-AM) since September 1982 and in radio for about a dozen years before that, beginning with work as an intern at WCUE. He has also been heard on WINW, WHLO and WAKR’s companion stations in the Rubber City Radio Group, WONE, WQMX and WNWV.

As he observed in an interview a decade ago, he has covered such big stories as “the Dean Milo murder case. The corruption case against former Summit County Common Pleas Judge James Barbuto. The closing of tire plants in Akron in the ‘70s and the move of Firestone headquarters out of Akron. The 1986 attempted takeover of Goodyear by British corporate raider Sir James Goldsmith. The Jeff Dahmer serial killings case in Summit County and Milwaukee.”

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Back from the long weekend

By Rich Heldenfels Published: September 2, 2014

I took a break from the blog over the holday weekend, which included both Labor Day and my birthday. (Yes, I'm ancient.) Some of the items of possible interest in recent days ...

Two ponderings of blimps, including the saving of rare footage of the USS Akron and then a discussion of the differences among blimps, dirigibles and zeppelins. Because in the Akron area we care about such things. As I point out in the second column, many sources now make no distinction. But it is interesting to talk about. And make note of the item about the song "The Wreck of the Akron Dirigible."

The home viewing column dealt with "The Fault in Our Stars," now on digital, and other items.

In case you wonder how I spend my quiet hours, my nightstand has now added a handsome stack of books, including Ben Winters' "World of Trouble," which I read immediately since I had read the two books preceding it in a police-at-the-end-of-the-world trilogy; Ken Hughes' "Chasing Shadows," about Watergate and the Chennault affair; Dana Stabenow's "Everything Under the Heavens. the first in a trilogy by the author of the Kate Shugak noversl;  Laura Hillenbrand's "Unbroken" and Rebecca Skloot's "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Sacks."

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