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Fox Sets Season Finales, Summer Premieres

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 28, 2013

The official word:

FOX is announcing season finale dates and premiere dates for its summer programs, including new unscripted series DOES SOMEONE HAVE TO GO, the Season 10 premiere of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, the premiere of family comedy THE GOODWIN GAMES and the return of MASTERCHEF.

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My Van Cliburn Story

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 28, 2013

By now, you have undoubtedly heard that the pianist, once considered the Elvis of classic music, has died. (A particularly clear-eyed obituary, from the Washington Post, is here.)  I actually crossed paths with Cliburn once, in 1989, when he was part of an event promoting various Mobil-financed TV programs like "Masterpiece Theatre" and "Mystery!" I have no recollection of what Cliburn was promoting. I do remember there was a detached elegance about him, and a distinct lack of pretense. But mostly I remember that night because Diana Rigg was there -- although that, as you will see, has something to do with Cliburn as well.

You have to remember, for men of a certain age, Diana Rigg, who was succeeding Vincent Price as host of "Mystery," was it. (Still is.) I was happy to see recent Bond tributes include clips from "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" because Rigg was in it. One of the kicks about interviewing the delightful actress Rachael Stirling in 2003 was that she's Rigg's daughter.

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Yes, That Was Dan

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 28, 2013

Some buzzing this morning about the sighting of the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach on last night's episode of "Nashville." But ABC may not be entirely aware of what Dan does. From an ABC release about the episode:

Juliette plans a surprise birthday party for Deacon, which is attended by real-life country stars Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys), Vince Gill, Pam Tillis, Kate York and Kip Moore.

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FX Orders More "Archer"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 27, 2013

The official word: FX has ordered season five of its critically-acclaimed animated comedy series Archer, it was announced today by Nick Grad, Executive Vice President of Original Programming and Development, FX.   The network has ordered 13 episodes for the series’ fifth season.

Archer was created by Adam Reed and Floyd County Productions and it is executive produced by Reed and Matthew Thompson.  Seven all-new episodes of Archer remain in season four, which wraps up on Thursday, April 11 at 10:00 PM E/P.  This year Archer will enter into the category of Outstanding Comedy Series for the Emmy® Awards.

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Memory Lane: Fred Rogers

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 27, 2013

It has been 10 years since Fred Rogers died, and I still miss him. Here's what I wrote when he passed:

Fred Rogers was tough. You might not have thought that, based on his on-the-air style. The host of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, who died Thursday of stomach cancer at 74, was one of the gentlest presences in children's television, a soft-spoken friend and neighbor to his young viewers.

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"Walking Dead" Prepares Production for Season 4, Names New Showrunner

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 27, 2013

The official word: AMC announced today that the cast and crew of “The Walking Dead” return to Atlanta, Georgia on Monday, May 6th to begin production on season four. AMC also confirms Scott M. Gimple as showrunner and executive producer for the series’ fourth season to premiere in October with 16 episodes. Gimple has been on the show’s writing staff since season two. Co-Executive Producer, Emmy® Award-winning Special Effects Makeup Supervisor and Director Greg Nicotero and Producer Tom Luse have also been elevated to executive producers.  “The Walking Dead” is based on the comic book series created and written by Robert Kirkman and published by Skybound, Kirkman's imprint at Image Comics. Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert continue to serve as executive producers for season four.

“Scott has been an essential part of this show since he came aboard at the very beginning of season two. He's contributed to guiding this show in a substantial way that has resulted in a lot of the key scenes and storylines fans have dubbed signature moments of ‘The Walking Dead,’” said Kirkman. “I am thrilled to begin work on a brand new season of ‘The Walking Dead’ with Scott at the helm, and I truly believe we could be embarking on what will be the best season of this show yet.”

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Classic "Star Trek: TNG" Two-Parter To Show in Theaters

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 27, 2013

The official word: “You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.” Trekkers nationwide will soon heed those commands as NCM® Fathom Events, CBS Home Entertainment and IGN present “Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Best of Both Worlds,” which beams into select cinemas on Thursday, April 25 at 7:00 p.m. local time. The fan-favorite two-part episode – "The Best of Both Worlds" – is comprised of the third season finale and the fourth season premiere, with Part 1 making TV Guide's list of "TV's Top 100 Episodes of All Time.” The episodes have been remastered into a feature-length presentation and will be presented on the big screen.

Tickets for “Star Trek: The Next Generation® – The Best of Both Worlds” are available at presenting theater box offices and online at www.FathomEvents.com. The event will be broadcast to more than 550 select movie theaters across the country through NCM’s exclusive Digital Broadcast Network. For a complete list of theater locations and prices, visit the NCM Fathom Events website (theaters and participants are subject to change).

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Rock Hall Plans a Rolling Stones 50th-Anniversary Exhibit

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 27, 2013

The official word: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum presents Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Satisfaction, an exclusive exhibition from the “World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band,” will open on Memorial Day weekend on Friday, May 24. Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Satisfaction will be the Museum’s first ever major exhibition capturing the band’s legendary career spanning more than 50 years. It will include personal items and extraordinary collections that have never been seen before by the public. The exhibit will be open until March 2014.

“The Rolling Stones are the epitome of rock and roll,” said Greg Harris, president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. “This first-ever exhibit gives us an opportunity to tell the story of one of the definitive rock and roll bands. The experience should be on every music fan’s destination list this summer.”

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BBC Home Entertainment Sets Release of Early Daniel Day-Lewis TV Work

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 26, 2013

Day-Lewis, now the first man to win three Best Actor Oscars, will be seen in two different releases, one of a single production, the other a triple feature, Both arrive March 19. The descriptions:

In My Brother Jonathan, based on the Edwardian romance book by Francis Brett Young, Day-Lewis plays Jonathan, the ungainly, neglected eldest son of a family living in the Black Country.  His younger brother Harold is everything he is not - athletic, handsome and clever.  Despite the favoritism shown to Harold, the two boys build a close friendship that lasts a lifetime and ends in tragedy. 

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"Warehouse 13" Returns April 29

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 26, 2013

The official word: The stakes for the Warehouse – and the world – have never been higher when Syfy’s hit series Warehouse 13 returns for the final 10 episodes of Season 4.5, beginning Monday, April 29 in its new 10PM (ET/PT) time slot.

In the premiere episode “The Living and the Dead,” the series picks up on the stunning, mid-season cliffhanger. Artie (Saul Rubinek) has infected the Warehouse Team – and the world --with the Black Orchid Artifact’s deadly “Sweating Sickness.”

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"The Bible" On DVD/Blu-ray April 2, a Month After History Premiere

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 26, 2013

The official word: From Executive Producers Mark Burnett (The Voice, Survivor) and Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel) comes THE BIBLE — an epic 10-hour miniseries debuting on History® March 3, and coming to Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD April 2 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.


Featuring hours of never before seen behind-the-scenes footage and making-of featurettes in a stunning high bit rate HD transfer and immersive 5.1 audio, THE BIBLE is the must-own Blu-ray and DVD event of the year. The Blu-ray and DVD exclusively feature an all-new cut of the miniseries featuring more of the stories you know in ways you’ve never seen.

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Full "Dancing With the Stars" Cast Announcement

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 26, 2013

I linked to one report in the previous post, but here's the full word from ABC, with explanations of who the contestants are:

This season’s dynamic lineup of stars -- including a country music legend, a figure skating champion, a boxing dynamo, an Olympic Gold medalist and the youngest contestant to ever compete on the show – will perform for the first time on live national television with their professional partners during the two-hour season premiere of “Dancing with the Stars,” MONDAY, MARCH 18 (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.

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Houghs Plan Ballroom Dance Series for Starz

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 26, 2013

Holding onto the coat-tails of the latest "Dancing With the Stars" cast announcement comes this official word: Starz announced today that the company has partnered with actor, dancer and singer Julianne Hough (Safe Haven, Rock of Ages and Footloose),  and dance champion and actor Derek Hough (“Dancing with the Stars”) to develop for STARZ "Blackpool," a new original series set in the world of international competitive ballroom dancing.  The pair will executive produce and serve as head choreographers for the series, drawing on years of first-hand experience as competitors and world dance champions.  The series revolves around the prestigious annual ballroom competition in Blackpool, England and will explore the dancer’s obsession with perfection and the darker side of the glamorous world of ballroom dance, which has captured the fascination of audiences around the world.

 

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Your Oscars DVD/Blu-ray Update

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 25, 2013

For those of you who watched the Oscars and are now thinking about seeing the movies without spending time at the multiplex, here is the most recent information I have gathered about the availablilty of big winners and other noteworhy titles from Oscar night. All are on DVD and Blu-ray unless otherwise noted.

"Argo" (best picture): Available now.

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Quvenzhané Wallis To Star in New "Annie" for 2014

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 25, 2013

Will and Jada Pinkett Smith and Jay Z are also associated with the film, which appears to have had a challenging script history. Director Will Gluck "is currently revising the film’s screenplay, which was written by Emma Thompson and rewritten by Aline Brosh McKenna based on the musical stage play 'Annie.' " Thompson has an adapted screenplay Oscar (for "Sense and Sensibility"). 

The official word: Overbrook Entertainment, Marcy Media, director Will Gluck and Sony Pictures Entertainment have cast Academy Award® nominee Quvenzhané Wallis, the star of Beasts of the Southern Wild, in the title role of Annie, it was announced today by Doug Belgrad, president of Columbia Pictures, and Hannah Minghella, president of Production for the studio.

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Some Last Oscar Words (For Now, Anyway)

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 25, 2013

The telecast was its usual lumbering brontosaurus, and Seth MacFarlane's attempt to use both old-school humor (and singing) along with the expected bad taste was not all that successful. In fact, at times they were downright bad.

And who thought a song AFTER the best picture was announced was a good idea. It reminded me of how University of Akron sports events end with the "I believe" chant and the alma mater -- as most people are streaming toward the exits. Not interested, Seth and Kristin. It's late, and people have to work soon.

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Oscar Telecast Available Online Tomorrow

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 25, 2013

I'm not talking about some YouTube genius. This is approved by ABC. The official word:

For the first time, viewers in the U.S. will be able to stream tonight’s Oscars show in its entirety across multiple platforms including ABC.com, the ABC Player app and the free, ad-supported Hulu and Hulu Plus subscription service. The show will also be available via ABC On Demand, the network’s fast forward-disabled VOD service.

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Continued Oscar

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 24, 2013

Took a break to file my column for early editions. Can't say I missed much. Anne Hathaway was on my wish list. so that's fine. The "Ted" Jews-run-Hollywood joke was horrible (and old). The In Memoriam segment always touches me, because I see how much was lost. And Streisand -- scary fingernails aside -- was very tasteful in tribute to Hamlisch.

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And the Oscar Notes Go On

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 24, 2013


Doesn't that "Scandal" ad look like the opening of a Bond film? (And ran between the Bond tribute and Washington co-presenting with Jamie Foxx).

With the performance of "Goldfinger," I am flashing back to 1965, and transistor radios blasting out Shirley Bassey

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Still More Oscar Notes

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 24, 2013

For those of you not following on Twitter, here are some more of my notes:
 Visual effects: "Life of Pi," whose two awards show how much time audiences had to spend just looking at its pretty pictures. #oscars2013

Doesn't look as if anyone in the "Avengers" cast (except Samuel L) should be making short jokes about anyone else ... #oscars2013

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Opening Number/Best Supporting Actor

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 24, 2013

MacFarlane's opening seemed to go on forever, and to be built on jokes and bits that would have worked really well in a '60s telecast (except for the boobs song, and even that was staged old-school). Dance, crooning, Shatner, "Flying Nun" bit ...

Oscar to Christoph Waltz. So I get one I wanted tonight... I didn't particularly like "Django," but Waltz was really good in it. And, as I have said before, Tommy Lee Jones was better in "Hope Springs" than Lincoln.

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Oscars Actually Begin

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 24, 2013

Wow, Seth MacFarlane is really old school so far. Monologue which Johnny Carson could have done. Only Carson would have done it better.

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More Oscar Notes

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 24, 2013

Some more recent tweets:

When Foxx said, "When I saw you..." how many of you whispered, "I said, Oh my"?

Hard to think of Jamie Foxx having a daughter that age.

Waiting now for the Smithsonian to thank Chenoweth and Hathaway for the plug.

Cagle with Bullock, big echo and Chenoweth overheard, too. At least she wasn't talking about being short.

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More Oscars

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 24, 2013

Robert De Niro remains one of our great actors, and one of the most inarticulate under interview pressure.

Don't ask an Oscar question if you don't know the answer! When did Chris Evans last see his "Avengers" co-stars? Yesterday at rehearsal.

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Oscars Local Angle Alert!

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 24, 2013

Cathy Nesbitt-Stein of "Dance Moms" (and Canton/Jackson Township) tweeted thanks to Kristin Chenoweth for the plug on the air.

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More Oscar Pre-Show

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 24, 2013

I adore Kristin Chenoweth, but not on the red carpet. Especially when she devotes a lot of time to her height relative to Jennifer Lawrence's, then says, "I look up to you."* But the "Dance Moms" conversation got the first bleep I've heard tonight.

*A comment proven even more meaningless when Chenoweth declares she is "in awe of" Zeta-Jones.

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Oscar Night, Continued

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 24, 2013

I still think Jessica Chastain deserves the best actress Oscar but Jennifer Lawrence is beyond freakin' adorable. Admits to hunger, wants to know if there's food, complains about how long the show is ...

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Oscar Night

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 24, 2013

Watching some of the red carpet coverage on E! in anticipation of the red carpet coverage on ABC. Things I've learned: an Oscar nominee is being called "Little Q" to avoid pronunciation mishaps, Ryan Seacrest is a tiny man, Kelly Osbourne is very knowledgeable about "boobies" protection, and Seacrest apparently thought that everyone who showed up was going to get an award. Hey, this isn't the Golden Globes. And, apparently, there was a lot of drinking at "Django Unchained" -- but Kerry Washington was smart enough not to participate. And I am learning way more than I care about Washington's Oscar nails and her Olivia Pope nails..

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Mixed Notes Sunday

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 24, 2013

As you probably have gathered from the videos below, I do have Oscars on the brain and will be watching/Tweeting/blogging tonight. I also have a longish print piece about my favorites and the ceremony generally here. I did the videos the day before writing the piece, so some of my thoughts were fine-tuned a bit when I sat down to write.

But this is Sunday, so there is also a DVD/Blu-ray column about the last "Twilight" movie and "The Master," among other things, here. And I have my weekly column for our Channels TV supplement, this time focusing on new series "Golden Boy."

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Rich and the movies: 2013 Oscar nominees

By Ohio.com staff Published: February 22, 2013

Beacon Journal pop culture writer Rich Heldenfels reviews the 2013 Oscar nominees for Best Actor.

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Rich and the movies: The Oscars host Seth MacFarlane

By Ohio.com staff Published: February 22, 2013

Beacon Journal pop culture writer Rich Heldenfels discusses the Academy’s choice of Seth MacFarlane as this host for this year’s Oscars.

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Hill Harper to "Covert Affairs"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 22, 2013

The "CSI: NY" co-star appears to be lining up projects once the CBS police drama is canceled. To be sure, if the series have non-overlapping production schedules, he could in theory do both. But the CBS show looks to be done.  "CSI: NY" has its season finale tonight, pretty early for a show, and has been on the bubble for some time; last year, CBS was looking at dropping either it or "CSI: Miami" (but opted for "Miami").

Not only that, what was once an adequate show has become bad, as I observed when it did its crossover with the "CSI" mothership. In fact, looking at "NY" would make reasonable people wonder why anyone thinks Gary Sinise is a good actor. Anyway, here's the official word on Harper's new deal ...

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Mixed Notes Friday

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 22, 2013

Interesting piece on Popdust about "Harlem Shake" and whether the Billboard chart should add online streaming to its calculation of songs' popularity -- in other words, is watching a video the same as listening to a song?

"American Idol" on Thursday proved less satisfying than Wednesday's edition, with the judges seeming to be more generous -- and the singers as a group inferior to those on Wednesday. (The exception is Curtis Finch Jr., a great singer and showman, who walks a thin line between corniness and charisma, but always knows where that line is.) From Fox's official word about the proceedings:

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Cleveland Film Fest Sets Opening Feature

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 21, 2013

The official word: The 37th Cleveland International Film Festival, presented by Dollar Bank, is proud to announce that its Opening Night film on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 will be TOY’S HOUSE.  This CBS Films release is directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts and produced by Chagrin Falls native Tyler Davidson, along with Peter Saraf, and John Hodges; with Chris Galletta as screenwriter. 

Premiering to rave reviews at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, TOY’S HOUSE stars Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Alison Brie, and Mary Lynn Rajskub. 

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Timberlake, Hart Among "SNL" Hosts; JT Goes Wall-to-Wall With Fallon

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 21, 2013

First, the official word from "Saturday Night Live"": SNL returns on March 2 with Kevin Hart making his hosting debut. Just finishing his record breaking worldwide arena tour, Hart is currently starring in and producing “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” and will next be seen in the concert film “Let Me Explain” in theaters in the summer.

Musical guest Macklemore & Ryan Lewis will also make their SNL debut. Their album, “The Heist,” was released in October 2012 and their current hit single, “Thrift Shop” topped the Billboard Hot 100 Chart for four straight weeks.

Multiple Grammy and Emmy Award-winning Justin Timberlake returns to SNL on March 9 pulling double-duty as host and musical guest. Entering his fifth turn as host, Timberlake’s third solo album “The 20/20 Experience,” due out March 19, is preceded by the Billboard chart-topping single "Suit & Tie.”

"Saturday Night Live" is produced in association with Broadway Video. The creator and executive producer is Lorne Michaels.

As for Timberlake and Fallon:"Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” will host Justin Timberlake for a week of appearances March 11–15 (12:35am ET on NBC) to celebrate the launch of his third solo album, “The 20/20 Experience.” Timberlake is scheduled to perform each night and will sit down to chat with Fallon on Monday and Friday. His visit will mark the first time any featured artist has appeared in every show during a single week.
 

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Mel B Replaces Sharon Osbourne on "AGT"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 21, 2013

The official word: NBC announced today that versatile entertainer and former Spice Girl Melanie Brown (or “Mel B”) will join the network’s top-rated summer series “America’s Got Talent” as a judge, and will take her place alongside fellow judges Howie Mandel and Howard Stern beginning this summer.

The outstanding contestants from the Season 8 open-casting auditions will be invited back to perform in front of Mandel, Stern and Mel B in five cities across the country, with the Top 48 Acts moving on to compete during this summer’s live shows and vie for the coveted $1 million grand prize. Submissions are still being accepted online at www.agtauditions.com

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Results From "American Idol" Semifinal Night 1

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 21, 2013

And a surprisingly efficient night it was. The official word:

Tonight from Las Vegas, the first group of girl semifinalists performed on the stage of Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles LOVE Theatre at The Mirage. After another round of intense deliberations, judges Mariah Carey, Randy Jackson, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban announced the first five semifinalists who have secured a coveted spot in this season’s Top 20. The five semifinalists are Kree Harrison, 22, from Nashville, TN; Amber Holcomb, 18, from Houston, TX; Adriana Latonio, 17, from Anchorage, AK; Angela Miller, 18, from Beverly, MA; and Tenna Torres, 28, from Queens, NY.

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"Zero Dark Thirty" DVD/Blu-ray Set for March 19

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 21, 2013

If I were handing out the Oscars, this would get best picture. The official word:

The Oscar®-winning team of The Hurt Locker – director-producer
Kathryn Bigelow (Best Picture and Best Director) and writer-producer Mark Boal (Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay) – reunite for the powerful drama ZERO DARK THIRTY.  The story of an elite team of intelligence operatives who tracked and ultimately located Osama bin Laden, the film earned multiple Oscar® nominations, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay and scored the No. 1 spot on numerous critics’ Top 10 Lists.  Boal was also awarded honors for Best Original Screenplay from the Writers Guild of America.

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"Cloud Atlas" DVD/Blu-ray Release in May

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 20, 2013

The epic co-starring Halle Berry was at one point expected to make its home video debut in February. But the release was delayed. Here's the new, official word:

Explore how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another through the past, present and future when “Cloud Atlas” arrives onto Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital Download on May 14 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group. Based on the celebrated best-selling novel by David Mitchell, “Cloud Atlas” is directed by acclaimed filmmakers Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, and Andy Wachowski and produced by two-time Oscar® nominee Grant Hill (“The Thin Red Line,” “The Tree of Life”) and three-time BAFTA Award nominee Stefan Arndt (“The White Ribbon,” “Goodbye Lenin!,” “Run Lola Run”).

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"Longmire" DVD Release Set

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 20, 2013

The official word: Betrayal. Dedication. Grief. Ambition. Under Wyoming’s Big Sky country, one unstoppable sheriff is forced to bury personal tragedies behind a brave face while attempting to rebuild his life and career and keep the peace in an often wild and lawless land. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group will release the contemporary western Longmire: The Complete First Season on May 28, 2013, timed to the Season Two broadcast premiere on A&E. Longmire: The Complete First Season will be priced to own at $39.98 SRP.

 

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Jillian Michaels Tour Coming to Cleveland

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 20, 2013

Reserved Seat Ticket Prices: $75, $49.50 & $35.00
VIP Package with Special Meet and Greet Are Available
Tickets on sale Monday February 25th at 11 AM and available at the PlayhouseSquare ticket office, www.playhousesquare.org
or by phone 216-241-6000
(All prices do not include applicable service fees)

The official word: Promising an evening of inspiration that will forever motivate and change lives, America’s health and wellness guru Jillian Michaels is set to launch her first ever "Maximize Your Life" tour this spring and touches down at the State Theatre at PlayhouseSquare on Saturday May 4th!

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Mixed Notes Tuesday

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 19, 2013

This week's DVD and Blu-ray column, including some thoughts about "Argo" and the second season of "Game of Thrones," is available online here.

The CW premieres its new drama "Cult" tonight. I watched it some time ago and thought it atrocious -- incoherent, silly, excessive. I did not see fit to revisit it more recently. Save yourself.

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Video: Idol Chatter

By Ohio.com Published: February 18, 2013

It's the Hollywood stop for America's favorite singing competition and they're still in a Survivor frame of mind. Nice drums though.

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Mixed Notes Saturday

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 16, 2013

I offer the above classic by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell to underscore my ongoing dislike for "Glee." This week's wedding-themed episode was a huge mess in its narrative, ridiculous in the treatment of the characters and, for a show that supposedly values music, a thoroughgoing butchery/lame-down of songs from Marvin & Tammi to Sondheim. It ever more makes me doubt my early admiration of the series.

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Kirstie Alley Series a Go

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 15, 2013

TV hates me this week, Not only has it announced a new appearance by Kate Gosselin, Kirstie Alley is coming back in the fall. With Michael Richards, no less.

The official word: Multiple Emmy® Award-winner Kirstie Alley is lighting up the stage on TV Land as the network picks up “Kirstie’s New Show,” a new sitcom revolving around Alley as Broadway star Madison Banks. The sitcom reunites the actress with longtime friend and former “Cheers” co-star Rhea Perlman and pairs them with famed “Seinfeld” actor Michael Richards, both of whom have won multiple Emmy® Awards as well. “Kirstie’s New Show” also stars Eric Petersen (“Shrek: The Musical”) and will premiere in Fall 2013 with 12 episodes.

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Science Channel Sets Russian Meteor Special

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 15, 2013

The official word: Science Channel is offering an exclusive and unprecedented look at the amazing celestial event which took place TODAY.

The world premiere of the special RUSSIAN METEOR EXPLOSION debuts tomorrow, SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16 at 8PM ET/PT on Science Channel.

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Rich and the movies: 'Die Hard'

By Ohio.com Published: February 15, 2013

Beacon Journal pop culture Rich Heldenfels calls the new Die Hard the most ridiculous series to date, but it's still enjoyable.

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"American Idol" Top 40, and What's Next on the Show

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 15, 2013

Malcolm Abram and I will be recording our thoughts about the Hollywood round later today, so look for that post. As for now, here are the top 40, what will happen in the two weeks of Vegas perfromances and when the first live telecast comes.

Top 20 women ("Idol" calls them girls, which I hate. The guys are not "boys" in "Idol" parlance after all, and some of the women are not only adults but parents as well. Anyway ... ):

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Miss America Pageant Returns to Atlantic City

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 14, 2013

Did Nucky have something to do with this? The official word:

Today the ABC Television Network announced a new three-year partnership with the Miss America Organization (MAO). New Jersey’s Acting Governor, LT. GOV. Kim Guadagno, along with the Miss America Organization’s Chairman of the Board, Sam Haskell, III, and MAO President and CEO Art McMaster joined Atlantic City officials from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, the Atlantic City Alliance and the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority to announce that the Miss America organization will bring the crowning back to Atlantic City, where it first began in 1921.

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How Big is "Downton Abbey"? "60 Minutes" Is on the Bandwagon (Revised)

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 14, 2013

REVISION: An earlier version of the CBS announcement referred to Dame Maggie as "Dame Smith" on second reference. One of my readers has noted that is incorrect; she is either Dame Maggie, Dame Maggie Smith, or just Smith. CBS sent out a later announcement of the interview just calling her Smith on second reference. I have substituted that for the earlier version in this post.

"Downton" has its season finale on Sunday. "60 Minutes" has Maggie Smith that night. The official word:

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"Zero Hour" Arrives for ABC

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 14, 2013

The series premieres tonight. Here's my review from the Beacon Journal:

 In about three minutes, the premiere of the ABC series Zero Hour manages to squeeze in Nazis, Rosicrucians, a mysterious baby and mentions of the end times and biblical prophecy. It's like speed-reading Dan Brown.

But by the end of the first episode, you may be wishing you could jump ahead to the last pages — I mean episode — of this silly and overwrought series. With several folks from Prison Break working off-camera, the show aims to be a breakneck-paced thriller with just enough weirdness to entice fans of elaborate puzzles like Lost, or even National Treasure.

ABC has been vigorously beating the drum for the show, including posting the debut online before its telecast at 8 p.m. Thursday. It has enlisted the beloved Anthony Edwards of ER as the main character, Hank Galliston, the publisher of a magazine called Modern Skeptic. He is also the husband of Laila, a clock maker and collector (Jacinda Barrett).

But! Laila! Gets! Kidnapped!

Sorry. This is the kind of show where everything seems exclamatory. I am already expecting a series of promos akin to those for Scandal, promising that You! Won't! Believe! What's! Happening! Next!

After all, this is not just a routine kidnapping. Laila has something that a man known as White Vincent (Michael Nyqvist) wants. At the same time, an FBI team wants White Vincent — and for agent Rebecca Riley (Carmen Ejogo) that's a very personal task.

Desperate to get his wife back, Hank and his magazine team (Addison Timlin and Scott Michael Foster) begin to discover things that connect to old plans and mysteries. Of course, we as viewers know that he's about to be part of a big deal thanks to those first three minutes. And Zero Hour wastes little time on the way to a premiere-ending climax that is supposed to set your head spinning. (You! Won't! Believe! …)

Unfortunately, getting to that point has involved several dips into a pool of ridiculousness, particularly when it comes to the pursuit of White Vincent. Must law enforcement always be so foolish — and in such familiar ways?

I admit to something of a grudge against Zero Hour, since it is taking the time slot of the now-concluded Last Resort. That was my favorite new show of the season — at least until it got the cancellation notice and had to rush its plot to a finale. (Good finale, though.) Zero Hour is much more pedestrian, like Prison Break, a show that tries to keep moving quickly enough that you will ask only the questions the show raises — and not more demanding ones about plot and character.

 

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New WDOK Morning Team in Place

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 14, 2013

You may recall the ouster of Trapper Jack last year, The official word on the replacements: New 102/WDOK has announced that Jen Toohey & Tim Richards are the hosts of The New 102 Morning show with Jen & Tim effective immediately. 

Tim Richards comes over to New 102 from sister station Q104 where he was midday host for the past 7 years as well as serving as Music Director and Assistant Program Director. "I am very excited for this new opportunity to co-host the Morning Show on New 102," states Richards.  "This is an exciting time, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for New 102."

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"Rise of the Guardians" 3D/Blu-ray/DVD on March 12

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 14, 2013

The official word: Praised by critics and moviegoers of all ages, DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc.’s (Nasdaq: DWA) spectacular and heartfelt adventure RISE OF THE GUARDIANS soars onto  Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D™ and DVD on March 12, 2013.  Hailed as “brilliant” and “the best family film of the year” (Joel Amos, MovieFanatic.com) with “spellbinding power” (James Verniere, Boston Herald) and “dazzling animation” (Tom Long, Detroit News), RISE OF THE GUARDIANS received outstanding audience reactions and a coveted ‘A’ Cinemascore.  DreamWorks Animation’s newest animated adventure has captured the imagination of audiences worldwide with a fun-filled and magical story about the legendary guardians—Jack Frost, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and Sandman—together for the first time!  When the evil Pitch threatens to take over the world, it’s up to our beloved heroes to protect the hopes and dreams of children everywhere.  Filled with non-stop action and laughs, it’s a dazzling family film that’s being hailed as “an instant classic” (Nancy Jay, Daybreak USA). 

 

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Mixed Notes Thursday

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 14, 2013

Several things to link in today's Beacon Journal. The mailbag deals with the deep question (asked by a reader) of why Chinese food is the takeout of choice on many TV shows. I also have reviews of "Safe Haven," an acting bland-off between Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel, and "A Good Day to Die Hard," which isn't good by most standards but meets the most basic needs of a "Die Hard" fan.

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ABC Makes Schedule Changes, Plans Return of "Happy Endings"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 14, 2013

And here I had hoped we were done seeing "reality super mom" Kate Gosselin ...

The official word: ABC announces midseason scheduling moves, with “Celebrity Wife Swap,” the reality series that shines a light on how controversial celebrities really live their lives, returning on TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26 from 8:00-9:00 p.m., ET with all-new episodes, and competitive cooking show “The Taste” moving back an hour to 9:00-10:00 p.m., starting that same night. Beginning FRIDAY, MARCH 29, critically acclaimed comedy “Happy Endings” will move to Friday nights, airing back-to-back original episodes from 8:00-9:00 p.m., ET.

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Kids' Choice Awards Nominees Announced

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 13, 2013

The official word: Nickelodeon fans have spoken! Voting for their favorites in television, sports, music and film, kids everywhere have made their voices heard as the network announces the nominees for Nickelodeon’s 26th Annual Kids’ Choice Awards, airing Saturday, March 23.  Vying for the sought-after blimp award are mega-stars Adele, Justin Bieber, Big Time Rush, Bon Jovi, Miranda Cosgrove, Johnny Depp, Robert Downey Jr., Selena Gomez, Anne Hathaway, Vanessa Hudgens, Victoria Justice, Jennifer Lawrence, Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, One Direction, Katy Perry, Michael Phelps, Julia Roberts, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Will Smith, Kristen Stewart, Ben Stiller, Taylor Swift, Tim Tebow, and Venus and Serena Williams.  Hollywood’s biggest kid, Josh Duhamel, will be hosting the slime-fest, telecast live from USC’s Galen Center from 8-9:30 p.m. (ET/PT).

 

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"Swimming to Cambodia" Gets DVD Release

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 13, 2013

There was apparently a previous DVD (at least, Amazon.com is selling on old one -- for about $200 new) but Shout! Factory is calling this the first official release of Spalding Gray's amazing monologue. And here, then, is the official word:

Shout! Factory has announced the May 28 DVD release of the 1987 film Swimming To Cambodia. The first official U.S. DVD release of the critically-acclaimed film includes an audio commentary by director Jonathan Demme as a special feature.

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More CBS/CW/Showtime Programs Added to Amazon Prime

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 13, 2013

The official word: CBS Corporation and Amazon.com, Inc. today announced an expanded content licensing agreement to bring classic series and hit TV shows from CBS Television Distribution and Showtime Networks to Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service, extending the already vast catalog of CBS content available for Prime members to instantly stream, and enjoy at no additional cost. 

 

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Academy of Country Music Awards Nominations

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 13, 2013

The official word: Nominations were announced this morning for the 48th ANNUAL ACADEMY OF COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS­, a star-studded event honoring country music’s best and introducing the industry’s hottest emerging talent.  Produced for television by dick clark productions, the ACM Awards will be broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 7 (8:00-11:00 PM, live ET/delayed PT) on the CBS Television Network. 

Nominees were revealed online via the second annual ACM digital press conference this morning on the Academy’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Iconic singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow, The Band Perry, 2 BROKE GIRLS star Beth Behrs, Little Big Town, Scotty McCreery, Ryan Seacrest, the ladies of THE TALK, and “Entertainment Tonight” co-anchors Nancy O’Dell and Rob Marciano all announced batches of nominations in video postings during the approximately 35-minute online event, which culminated in music fans announcing the nominees for the Academy’s biggest prize, Entertainer of the Year: Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton and Taylor Swift. For the second year, fans were invited to submit videos naming their favorite artist in this category.

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ABC Sets Amanda Knox Interview for May Sweeps

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 12, 2013

The official word: Amanda Knox, the college junior who was at the center of a murder trial that riveted the attention of millions around the world, has never told her story. Now, after the dramatic Italian trial, conviction and the court appeal that finally acquitted and freed her, she will speak to ABC News.


The exclusive interview will air during a primetime special on TUESDAY, APRIL 30 at 10:00 p.m., ET on the ABC Television Network.  It will also be featured across all ABC News broadcasts and platforms, including “World News with Diane Sawyer,” “Good Morning America” and “Nightline,” as well as ABCNews.com, Yahoo!, ABC News Radio and ABC’s local affiliates.

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FX Orders Border Drama "The Bridge"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 12, 2013

The official word: FX is headed for the border, placing a 13-episode order for The Bridge, a new drama series from Writer/Producers Meredith Stiehm and Elwood Reid starring Academy Award® Nominee  Demián Bichir and Diane Kruger, it was announced today by John Landgraf, President and General Manager, FX Networks. A, Production begins in April and the series premieres in July.  The Bridge is a co-production of Shine America and FX Productions

Set on the border between El Paso and Juarez, The Bridge centers on two detectives, one from the United States and one from Mexico, who must work together to hunt down a serial killer operating on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. Executive Producers Meredith Stiehm (Homeland) and novelist and television writer/producer Elwood Reid adapted The Bridge for American television from the international hit series Bron, which was set on the border of Denmark and Sweden.  Bron was produced by Shine Group’s Filmlance and Denmark’s Nimbus Film Production,

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Latest "Les Miserables" on DVD, Blu-ray on March 22

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 12, 2013

The official word: The sweeping and spectacular musical extravaganza Les Misérables has been seen by more than 60 million people in 42 countries around the globe.  Now the motion picture adaptation that grossed more than $340 million worldwide arrives on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, DVD and On Demand on March 22, 2013, from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.  Critically acclaimed and star-studded, Les Misérables is a stunningly realized interpretation of Victor Hugo’s epic tale of broken dreams, passion, sacrifice and redemption – a timeless testament to the endurance of the human spirit.  This Golden Globe®-winning cinematic event can now be experienced over and over again on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD with more than an hour of bonus features including cast interviews.  Additionally, the Blu-ray™ Combo Pack is loaded with an extra 45 minutes of exclusive content taking viewers behind the scenes of the groundbreaking production for an unmatched entertainment experience.


Directed by Academy Award® winner Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), Les Misérables features an all-star cast including Golden Globe® winner Hugh Jackman (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Prestige), Oscar® winner Russell Crowe (Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind), Golden Globe® winner Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises, The Devil Wears Prada), Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia!, Dear John), Eddie Redmayne (My Week With Marilyn, The Other Boleyn Girl), Helena Bonham Carter (Harry Potter series, Sweeney Todd), Golden Globe® winner Sacha Baron Cohen (Hugo, Borat) and newcomer Samantha Barks.

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Third Season of Jenni Rivera Series, Special Set for mun2

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 12, 2013

The official word: mun2, the fastest growing Hispanic Entertainment cable network in January and 2012, will premiere the third season of I Love Jenni, the original, Hispanic celebrity reality series focused on Latin music superstar Jenni Rivera, on Sunday, April 14 at 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. CST. mun2.tv will stream episode one the day after air on http://mun2.tv/jenni.

The new season will feature footage shot in the month prior to Rivera's untimely death, as well as new episodes featuring her family as they create their life and preserve the legacy of their mother, sister and daughter. Featured in the series will be Rivera, her children: Chiquis, Jacqui, Michael, Jenicka and Johnny, as well as her sister Rosie.

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An Analysis of Dead Bodies on TV

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 12, 2013

I am not referring to something on "Bones" and "CSI.": Rather, a funeral organization has been tallying dead bodies on TV, and how they got that way. Some stats: Most of the bodies are men's, more than half of whom were dead from gunshot wounds, and the most corpse-heavy show in the survey was "The Walking Dead" (38 bodies per episode). Which is, after all, about zombies. The official word:

Funeralwise.com has released the results of its second TV Body Count Study. Using counts of dead bodies appearing in television programs, the goal of these studies is to characterize how death is portrayed in popular culture. An online funeral planning service, Funeralwise hopes to stimulate discussion about how people deal with death in real life vs. how they view death as fictionalized in the media.

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Syfy Sets Philip K. Dick Miniseries

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 11, 2013

The official word: Syfy has finalized a deal to adapt Philip K. Dick’s Hugo Award-winning novel The Man In The High Castle into a 4-hour miniseries event with Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files, Hunted) attached to write and serve as Executive Producer, it was announced today by Mark Stern, President of Original Content, Syfy and Co-Head Original Content, Universal Cable Productions. Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions will produce the project with Headline Pictures, Electric Shepherd Productions and FremantleMedia International. Spotnitz will write the first two hours and supervise the writing of the second two hours (writer TBA).


Producers Ridley Scott and Stewart Mackinnon bring us a startling depiction of an alternate history as imagined by author Philip K. Dick in his best-selling novel; a world in which Nazi Germany and Japan were victorious in World War II. The year is 1962 and the Axis Powers occupy the United States, where fascism rules and the few surviving Jews hide under assumed names.

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Mixed Notes Monday, Including Grammys

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 11, 2013

But first: Fox Business Network's Liz Claman will be in Cleveland again today, broadcasting from 1 to 5 p.m. on FBN. According to the network, she will be at "Cuyahoga Community College ... for the first graduation of Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Business program. The special will feature interviews with Goldman Sachs President and COO Gary Cohn, Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), along with other business executives and local politicians to discuss Cleveland’s economy, employment growth, and local business revenue."

As for the Grammys, at 3 1/2 hours (not counting pre-presentations), it manages to seem too long and still give short shrift to some things; the Dave Brubeck tribute was particularly lukewarm. But, with a little help from fast-forwarding, I enjoyed a good bit of the show. For example:

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Mixed Notes Sunday

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 10, 2013

Today's DVD/Blu-ray column is topped by another look at "Skyfall," the latest James Bond adventure, which I enjoyed very much. There are also some notes about "The Sessions," Loretta Young and other topics. A longer list of Tuesday releases is here. And, if you missed it, odds and ends (some of which have already been here) filled Saturday's HeldenFiles.

Sunday's print editions also include a review of ABC's silly new "Zero Hour." I will post a link when it is available.

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Why You Should Get the "Downton Abbey" Script Book

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 8, 2013

Julian Fellowes' "Downton Abbey: The Complete Scripts: Season One" (Morrow, $19.99) is not only a must-read, it's worth having just for the notes. Fellowes's notes cover everything from changes in the scripts for telecast to historical background to discussion of characters and more. His stage directions also complement the viewing. For example, here's his description Downton in the first episode:

April 1912 -- The sun is rising behind Downton Abbey, a great and splendid house in a great and splendid park. So secure does it appear, that it seems as if the way of life it represents will last for another thousand years. It won't.*

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Rich and the movies: 'Identity Thief'

By Ohio.com Published: February 8, 2013

The adorable Melissa McCarthy is the best part of a flat Identify Thief, Beacon Journal pop culture writer Rich Heldenfels says in his video review.

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Cinematheque Sets End-of-the-World-Movie Fest

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 8, 2013

While I might call it a "post-apocalyptic" fest since some are more about life after disaster than the actual end of the world, it's an interesting array of titles. The official word:

We may have escaped the 2012 Mayan apocalypse, but will humanity survive global warming, water shortages, the next plague, extraterrestrial events, or a Third World War? These questions have weighed on the minds of moviemakers for decades, but end-of-the-world narratives now seem more prevalent than ever.

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PaleyFest To Beam "Walking Dead," "Big Bang Theory" Panels to Movie Theaters

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 7, 2013

Tickets go on sale Friday. The official word: For the first time ever, the stars and producers of the phenomenally successful “The Walking Dead” and No. 1 comedy series “The Big Bang Theory” are coming to theaters nationwide as part of the ultimate TV fan festival – PaleyFest (The William S. Paley Television Festival).

Presented by NCM® Fathom Events and The Paley Center for Media in celebration of PaleyFest’s 30th anniversary, “PaleyFest” will feature a lively panel discussion from these sold-out events, giving audiences an exclusive look inside these TV hits.

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Sorkin's "The Newsroom" Coming to DVD/Blu-ray

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 7, 2013

The official word: Created by Aaron Sorkin (Academy Award® winner for writing
The Social Network, executive producer and writer of the multiple Emmy® winner The West Wing), the new HBO® drama The Newsroom follows the ACN news team on their quixotic mission to reclaim the legacy of Murrow and Cronkite in the face of a fickle audience, corporate mandates and tangled personal relationships. The first season of the "noble and earnest" (Entertainment Weekly) series, which was nominated for two Golden Globe awards - Best Television Series Drama and Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series (Jeff Daniels) - debuts on Blu-ray with HBO Select* ($79.98), DVD ($59.99) and Digital Download on June 11, 2013. Both sets include the full 10-episode season, along with extensive bonus materials including exclusive interviews and never-before-seen content.

A favorite with viewers, news anchor Will McAvoy has found a safe niche with bankable ratings on his 8:00 p.m. flagship cable show, "News Night." Numbed by success, McAvoy has become stoic, complacent and cynical, content not to rock the boat as he delivers the nightly news straight down the middle of the road. In a literal blink of an eye, McAvoy is catapulted from apathy to engagement when a spontaneous outburst leads him to tackle the principles of American patriotism in a public forum prompting his staff to jump ship. Setting the stage for Will's return, his boss Charlie covertly orchestrates the hiring of his ex-girlfriend, MacKenzie McHale, as his new executive producer. With their shared past, she knows exactly how good he can be. Even more unsettling for him, she challenges Will to abandon the successful, middle-of-the-road approach that has made him so popular with both sides of the aisle, and realize his full potential by delivering the news with integrity.

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Thursday Notebook

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 7, 2013

Several things in today's Beacon Journal and on Ohio.com. Much as I like Melissa McCarthy of "Bridesmaids" and "Mike & Molly,": I wasn't crazy about "Identity Thief," as you can see here*.I also think there's something longer to be written about a point I made at the end, regarding whether Hollywood will let McCarthy or someone like her be sexual but not erotic -- that she can have the appetite but is denied the heat. The more I think about "Identity Thief," the more that is evident; the man most attracted to McCarthy's character is a plus-sized guy (Eric Stonestreet from "Modern Family") while conventional hunks are unmoved by her; and even when McCarthy gets busy in the movie, it is played for laughs. So is the question of whether Jason Bateman might be attracted to her, although McCarthy plays up the vulnerability and longing in that scene.

Still, I am reminded of Yvette Nicole Brown's' recent comment: "I’m trying to figure out why beauty is negated by size" -- from an interview last week in which she specifically brought up McCarthy as a beautiful woman. And that brings me to "Community," in which Brown co-stars, and which returns tonight. I am happy to have it back, and generally happy with tonight's episode -- especially the explicit dig it takes at NBC's declarations about wanting more broadly appealing comedies. There's also a cameo that points to another off-camera issue about the show, so the departure of Dan Harmon hasn't diminished the show's hand-biting at all. And the two episodes I have seen are more than funny enough to justify another season of the series.

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Robin Roberts Returning to "Good Morning America" on 2/20

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 7, 2013

From ABC News: Robin Roberts will return to the “Good Morning America” anchor desk on Wednesday, Feb. 20, five months to the day since she underwent a bone marrow transplant to treat myelodysplastic syndrome or MDS, a rare blood disorder.
“What a difference a year makes,” said Roberts, who began feeling the symptoms of her illness about a year ago. “I cannot wait to return to my GMA family. It's going to be an incredible morning in Times Square. The overwhelming thoughts and prayers of the viewers have played a major part in getting me here today. I cannot thank everyone enough."

The official announcement was made today on “GMA” after Roberts received the all-clear from her doctors. Her most recent test showed no abnormalities, and over the course of her recovery, the anchor has continued to regain her strength and energy.
Since reaching the critical 100-day benchmark from the bone marrow transplant back in December, she has been counting down the days to her return to the anchor chair. In the weeks before Roberts’ return to “GMA,” the show will spotlight stories of other resilient men and women who are facing similar challenges with MDS and those she has inspired along the way. Roberts will also share her personal journey on a special edition of “20/20” on Friday, Feb. 22 at 10 p.m., ET. The hour will offer a candid behind-the-scenes look at Roberts’ experience and those who have drawn hope and courage from her example.

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"Veep" Coming to DVD and Blu-ray in March

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 6, 2013

A second season is coming  to HBO. I wasn't enthralled by the first season, but part of that has to do with my lack of enthusiasm for Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

The official word: The new HBO comedy Veep, about a woman who becomes vice president, only to discover the job is nothing like she expected, but everything she was warned about, was hailed as "hysterical" (TV Guide) and "sophisticated" (People Magazine). Created by Armando Iannucci (Academy Award® nominee for co-writing In the Loop), the series was nominated for three 2012 Emmy® Awards winning one for its star Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series). Veep: The Complete First Season, releases on Blu-ray with HBO Select* ($49.99), DVD ($39.98) and Digital Download on March 26, 2013.

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"Buckwild" Gets Second Season

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 6, 2013

The official word: MTV today announced a second season pick-up of its hit new series “BUCKWILD.” The half-hour, 12-episode series follows a group of nine young, carefree and adventurous friends living in West Virginia, who find unique ways to create their own fun. Since the series premiere last month, “BUCKWILD” ranks as #1 rated original cable series of Thursday nights among P12-34, while pulling in an average of 3 million total viewers per episode (Live +3). Additionally, MTV has two of the top three rated cable series of the first quarter of 2013 among P12-34, with “Catfish: The TV Show” as #2 and “BUCKWILD” as #3.*


Leading into the upcoming season one finale on Thursday, February 7, MTV will air interstitial interviews with the entire “BUCKWILD” cast from West Virginia throughout the night beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT, as they prepare to watch the end of the first season that introduced them to fans across the country.

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More About "China Beach" DVD

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 6, 2013

As I mentioned in a previous post, "China Beach" is finally making its way to DVD, with more than 250 songs licensed. (Music rights long delayed this release on video.) Seventeen songs could not be licensed. \And, because it says something about what distributors have to go through with older shows, below is the list of the songs that weren't licensed and what was done in each case. As a rule I am a strict constructionist about this, wanting the music as it originally was; I have seen too many shows harmed by music substitutions on video. ("WKRP in Cincinnati" was one glaring example.) And I am concerned about the Season 2 deletion of part of a scene because it included a recitation of lyrics. But considering how much music the new "China Beach" set managed to include, and that in some of the examples below the substitution was a sound-alike, should the show's fans be content?

The list:

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Finally! "China Beach" Coming to DVD

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 6, 2013

This is one of the most asked-about titles in DVD-land. Time Life is taking online orders now, to ship in mid-April. Retail sales of the box and individual seasons will come later in the year. And, given that music rights were the big hangup for the DVD release, this set has licensed more than 250 songs from the original series for the DVD; I'm told only 16 (UPDATE: it was 17) were not available and have been replaced with comparable tunes. Look, too, at the extras in both the complete series box and the even larger collector's edition. And now the massive official word:

From the moment CHINA BEACH debuted in 1988, it was hailed as groundbreaking television.  Now, in time to celebrate its milestone 25th anniversary, the TV DVD archivists at Time Life, in conjunction with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, will release the beloved ABC-TV series on DVD for the very first time.  One of the most eagerly-anticipated, unreleased television programs of all time, according to TVShowsOnDVD.com, the release marks the first time the complete series will be available on any format.  CHINA BEACH: THE COMPLETE SERIES will be offered as a 21-disc collector's set featuring all 62 episodes and over ten hours of exclusive, never-before-seen bonus features including a recent cast reunion, extensive interviews with Dana Delany, Marg Helgenberger, producers John Sacret Young and John Wells, original featurettes, as well as "Tales from the Five & Dime", a collectible memory book containing casting notes, rare, archival photos, emotional, heartfelt letters from Vietnam veterans and more. CHINA BEACH: THE COMPLETE SERIES will initially be available exclusively online, available for pre-order beginning February 5 at ChinaBeachOnDVD.com for $199.95.

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"Hobbit" DVD/BD,Digital Release Plans Set for March

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2013

The official word: From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), arriving on Digital Download on March 12 and on Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack and 2-Disc DVD Special Edition on March 19 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. All disc versions feature UltraVioletÔ and more than 130 minutes of bonus content. The first of a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” which is nominated for three Academy Awards*, is an epic adventure that immerses audiences once again in the fantastical world of Middle-earth. The March 19 home entertainment release will be followed by an Extended Edition available just in time for the holidays.

In addition, Peter Jackson will host a live first look at “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” the second film in The Hobbit Trilogy, on Sunday, March 24 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern/Noon Pacific. Content will be streamed live and an edited version will be archived on the Trilogy’s official website. Access to the live event will be limited to holders of an UltraViolet code available by purchasing “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack or 2-Disc Special Edition DVD. Select digital retailers will issue access codes upon purchase of the film. Visit www.thehobbit.com/sneak for more information.

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Oh, Yeah, "Smash"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2013

The drama with music returns to NBC tonight, continuing its Broadway saga after many changes to the cast and in the production team. Much has been written about the first season, including this epic Kate Aurthur article.

I didn't hate the first season as much as Kate does, but was often mixed about the awkward storytelling (how did Ellis last so long? why the hicks-in-sticks approach to Karen's background? enough of Julia's marital woes!) and staging; the forcing of pop tunes onto the soundtrack, and the inflation of Karen in singing terms almost as much as Glee oversells Rachel. At the same time, there was Megan Hilty, who was consistently good, as were some of the songs from "Bombshell." So I kept tuning in, and waiting for it to get better.

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For Your Viewing Amusement

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2013

Jennifer Love Hewitt has recorded "I'm a Woman" (with Randy Jackson as co-producer) in connection with the March 10 return of "The Client List." You can see the video below and buy the song or the video on Feb. 8.

 

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Tuesday Notebook

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2013

If you missed last night's funny, Canadian-laden "How I Met Your Mother," you should go see it now, at CBS.com. If that seems like too much of an effort go here to see the latest video in the Robin Sparkles oeuvre.  Very '90s, very funny.

If you missed the news about Dick Russ leaving broadcasting, here's my story.

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fun. Sets Tour, Includes Cleveland Date

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 4, 2013

The official word;   fun. has announced their upcoming “Most Nights” summer headline tour with very special guests Tegan and Sara.  The Grammy-nominated band’s biggest North American headline trek to date will get underway July 6th at Toronto’s Downsview Park and then travel to Cleveland on July 9th  at Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica in Cleveland  8 PM.

A pre-sale for fun. and Tegan and Sara fans will take place from Wednesday, February 6th at 12 PM  to Thursday, February 14th at 10 PM .  American Express® Cardmembers can also purchase tickets before the general public at that time. 

Tickets go on-sale to the general public Saturday, February 16th at Noon.  For complete details and ticket availability, please see http://ournameisfun.com/tour.

A portion of the ticket sales from the tour will benefit The Ally Coalition, a partnership created by the band and designer Rachel Antonoff devoted to encouraging and inspiring the music, fashion, and entertainment communities to take action in support of LGBTQ equality.

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Mixed Notes Monday

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 4, 2013

Yes, I watched the Super Bowl, including about 90 minutes of pregame (although I was making dinner during some of that) but none of the post (so I missed the swear-fest, or maybe it was an homage to "Thrift Shop"). Early ratings news from CBS is, as you would expect, impressive: "average overnight household rating/share of 48.1/71, the highest-rated Super Bowl in the metered markets in history."

I kept an eye on the commercials, only I had already seen many of them online, so there wasn't much in the way of surprise or great delight. The Jeep/USO ad, maybe. Amy Poehler's bit about "50 Shades of Grey" was cute -- but Poehler almost always is.

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Mixed Notes Sunday

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 3, 2013

Recently in the Beacon Journal and on Ohio.com, my chat with Yvette Nicole Brown of "Community." A look ahead to "Monday Mornings," the drab series from David E. Kelley. This week's video column, with "Flight," "Peter Pan" and a good documentary about movie making, is here. In fact, it is a big week for video releases; I meant to include "Cloud Atlas*" and a Paul Williams documentary but forgot (and would have run out of space anyway). Will try to add some thoughts here before Tuesday's release.

I have begun watching Netflix's "House of Cards," the Americanized version of the excellent British TV saga, and after a couple of episodes have found it quite satisfying. Kevin Spacey is superb as a scheming politician, and the series has kept some of the best elements of the British one -- such as Space confiding his thoughts and plans directly to the camera. Much as I enjoy "Scandal" for its sheer craziness, it never feels as if it takes place in the real world; "House of Cards" has much more of the sound and feel of real politics, and deal-making. And the journalism part of the story recalls another fine British production, "State of Play" (later adapted for an American movie). I'm very curious about how well "Cards" will hold up over its total run -- and delighted that Netflix has the entire thing available at once.

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Video: Idol Chatter

By Ohio.com Published: February 1, 2013

It's baaaack! And our caustic critics can't wait for the 12th season of America's favorite singing competition to just get on with it!

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"NCIS" Renewed for '13-'14, Harmon Extends Contract

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 1, 2013

Not surprising considering the success of the show, but here's the official word: CBS announced today a new contract extension for NCIS star and executive producer Mark Harmon, and that the U.S. and global ratings phenomenon NCIS has been renewed for the 2013-2014 season. 

"In a world gone niche, NCIS keeps getting bigger, and Mark Harmon continues to define the role of leading man on the #1 show on television," said Leslie Moonves, President and Chief Executive Officer, CBS Corporation.  "NCIS is the type of franchise every company wants in today’s global content ecosystem – high-quality storytelling that generates passionate viewers and drives revenue on every conceivable platform."

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Kellie Baker-Supported Charities Get a Boost on Sunday

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 1, 2013

If you have followed the story of Kellie Baker and Q92's Mo, chronicled in several previous posts, you may also be interested in this official word: 

All of the Tilted Kilt Pub & Eateries in Ohio will be hosting their Super Bowl party in honor of Kellie Baker this Sunday, February 3, 2013. Kellie Baker was born with Down syndrome and feels strongly about raising awareness against bullying people with disabilities. In support of this, the Tilted Kilt locations in Canton, Cleveland and Columbus will be donating 10% of total sales on Sunday to two charities that Kellie has selected: The Megan Meier Foundation to Stop Bullying and Cyber Bullying and The Tuscarawas County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Join us at your nearest Tilted Kilt pub this Sunday to support Kellie and her family; and together, we can help stop bullying in our community and beyond.

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Yes, I Loaded It

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 1, 2013

There's a "Star Trek Into Darkness" app, which wil get a showcase Sunday, and is now on my phone. Hey, it's "Star Trek." And at first glance the app is kind of cool. The official word:

“STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS” FIRST OF ITS KIND APP AVAILABLE FOR FREE FROM THE APP STORE AND GOOGLE PLAY

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Kinzbach Joins WONE

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 1, 2013

The official word: It’s a brand new morning on 97.5 WONE.  Veteran morning personality Jeff Kinzbach has joined “The Home of Rock n’ Roll” as the new WONE morning show host (6a-10a, Monday-Friday) effective immediately.

Jeff is very excited about joining WONE stating: “WONE is a great radio station. I’m excited to join the excellent staff and play the outstanding music that we all grew up with.” 

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Watching Movies: "Stand Up Guys"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 1, 2013

Back in the ‘70s, Al Pacino was one of the heavyweights of the big screen. It felt as if he was in a constant series of grudge matches against the other greats of the era, that whatever Pacino did, he knew that Dustin Hoffman or Jack Nicholson was in another part of the multiplex, tearing up moviegoers and daring Pacino to top them. And any movie with one of those names in the credits was something you had to see.

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