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"How I Met Your Mother," the finale

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 31, 2014

Well, crap.

On a stick.

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Catch up with the action from "Dancing With the Stars"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 31, 2014

If you only care about Drew Carey, notes on his performance are in bold below. 

Welcome to the live, in-progress blog of the show. News already: Billy Dee Williams is not dancing tonight.

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Another change at ABC News: Josh Elliott exits for NBC Sports, Amy Robach becomes GMA news anchor

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 30, 2014

From the memo by ABC News President Ben Sherwood:

I want to share some news about GMA.

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Sunday morning notes

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 30, 2014

Those of you who have been dismayed by the demise of our weekly Channels supplement may take some comfort from this note in today's Beacon Journal, about an expansion of the daily editions' listings to include some daytime hours.

In my corner of the world, I am trying to replace my old Channels column, which tended to be about a single program in the coming week, with a roundup column on several shows and topics. You can read this week's effort here.

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"Helix" gets second season

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 28, 2014

The official word: Helix, Syfy’s chilling scripted drama, has been renewed for a second season, it was announced today by Bill McGoldrick, EVP, Original Content, Syfy. The 13-episode second season will commence production later this year, with an eye towards a winter 2015 premiere.

 

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Rich and the movies: Talking Cleveland International Film Festival

By Ohio.com Published: March 28, 2014

Why the Cleveland International Film Festival reminds us of what filmmaking really is.

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Juju Chang becomes "Nightline" co-anchor; Cynthia McFadden heading to NBC

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 27, 2014

The memo from ABC News President Ben Sherwood:

I want to share some news with all of you. 

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"True Detective" DVD/Blu-ray plans

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 27, 2014

The official word: Starring Academy Award® nominee and Emmy Award® winner Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games) and Academy Award® winner Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) as two detectives assigned to a grisly and cultish murder case in the Louisiana bayou country, True Detective has become one of the most critically-acclaimed new series of 2014.

This "breathtaking" (Time) crime drama, which was the most-watched first season of any HBO® original series since the legendary premiere of Six Feet Under® in 2001, makes its home entertainment debut on Blu-ray with Digital HD ($79.98), DVD ($59.99) and Digital Download on June 10, 2014, just in time for Father's Day. Both sets of True Detective include the full eight-episode season, along with extensive bonus materials including exclusive interviews with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, a discussion between series creator Nic Pizzolatto and Academy Award®-winning composer T Bone Burnett about the development of the show and the pivotal role of the series' music, and never-before-seen footage from the series.

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More Akron-related music: new Joseph Arthur album, an homage to Lou Reed

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 27, 2014

As one of my bosses notes, this makes an Akron hat trick, following as it does recent news about the Black Keys and Chrissie Hynde. Here's the announcement about Joseph Arthur:

Joseph Arthur, the critically-acclaimed, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter will be performing “Walk on the Wild Side” the Lou Reed classic on Late Show with David Letterman Wednesday, April 2nd.  “Walk on the Wild Side” is the new single from Arthur’s upcoming album LOU - a very personal and difficult album for Arthur to make. But the deep friendship between the two made this a natural way for Jo to express his appreciation and connection to Lou's life and work. LOU embodies the spirit in which Arthur set about to record his own interpretations of his favorite Lou Reed songs. He performed, recorded and produced the record in his home studio. LOU will be released on May 13th and marks his debut on Vanguard Records.
Arthur premiered the video for “Walk on the Wild Side” on the AV Club which you can view here.

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NBC's late spring/summer plans

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 27, 2014

The official word: Continuing NBC’s summer dominance, which for the past three years has been led by “America’s Got Talent,” the network spreads its wings to bring a content-rich summer schedule to build off strong anchor shows that also include the emerging hit “American Ninja Warrior” and returning favorite “Last Comic Standing.”

Six original scripted summer series — the most of any broadcast network in more than 20 years — as well as a new original alternative series will join the line-up as the network continues to have strong original programing year-round rather than just during the September-May season.

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TV Land adds live commercials to tonight's live telecasts

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 26, 2014

The network is airing live performances of "Hot in Cleveland" and "The Soul Man," and is going live in a couple of ads, too. The official word:

TV Land is taking the network’s big LIVE event on Wednesday, March 26th and making it EVEN MORE LIVE! Stars of TV Land’s “Hot in Cleveland” and “The Soul Man” will participate in LIVE commercials during the shows’ season premieres on Wednesday, March 26th at 10pm ET/PT, the network announced today. The cast of “Hot in Cleveland,” Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick and Betty White, will take part in an ad for Toyota and Niecy Nash of “The Soul Man” will do the same for Bush Brothers.

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Fox announces more spring/summer scheduling, some finales

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 26, 2014

"Gang Related," whose pilot I liked a lot, is now set for May 22. Lots of other details here. The official word:

FOX is announcing additional spring and summer premiere dates for 2014. FOX spices up summer with new seasons of Gordon Ramsay’s KITCHEN NIGHTMARES, MASTERCHEF and HOTEL HELL; the debuts of event series 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY and new drama GANG RELATED; the premieres of dating show I WANNA MARRY “HARRY” and new unscripted series RIOT; and the Season 11 premiere of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE.

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PlayhouseSquare sets Broadway series for '14-'15

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 26, 2014

The long official word: Cleveland’s most anticipated entertainment news announcement has finally arrived! PlayhouseSquare has just announced its 2014-2015 KeyBank Broadway Series, and the line-up is jam-packed with Broadway’s hottest hits. Senior Vice President of Theater Operations, Gina Vernaci, made the announcement this evening on the Palace Theatre stage to a crowd of 2,000+. The Series includes multiple Tony® Award-winning productions, including 2013’s winner for “Best Musical,” KINKY BOOTS, 2013’s winner for “Best Revival,” PIPPIN, and 2012’s winner for “Best Choreography” and “Best Original Score,” Disney’s NEWSIES. ...

 In order to appease their current season ticket holder base of 29,000+ and to appeal to new audiences alike, PlayhouseSquare’s 2014-2015 KeyBank Broadway Series offers a diverse, artistic and exciting season that all generations will enjoy. The only way to guarantee tickets to each of these seven incredible productions is to purchase season tickets now!

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After bloody Sunday ...

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 25, 2014

ICYM 'em links

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 25, 2014

Not long ago I talked to local radio legend John Lanigan about his long career and upcoming retirement. You can read the resulting story here.

Among the offerings at the Cleveland International Film Festival is a short film, "One Armed Man," directed by Tim Guinee and co-starring NE Ohio's own John Magaro. You can read more about that here.

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Elvis Costello coming to PlayhouseSquare in June

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 25, 2014

Hard to believe how long it's been since I saw him in concert. (He was young and snarling, playing with the Attractions -- and having the Rubinoos open the show.). The official word:

Elvis Costello makes a rare stop in Cleveland June 16 at the Palace Theatre at PlayhouseSquare. Tickets go on sale this Friday, March 28 at 11am.

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ABC announces late spring/summer plans: new "Bachelor" spinoff, return of "Rookie Blue," more

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 25, 2014

The official word: ABC announced its summer lineup, with four new series joining the schedule: “The Astronaut Wives Club” on Thursday, July 24 at 9:00 p.m.; “Bachelor in Paradise” on Monday, August 4 at 8:00 p.m.; “Rising Star” on Sunday, June 22 at 9:00 p.m.; and “The Quest” on Thursday, June 19 at 8:00 p.m. 

These series join returning shows “The Bachelorette,” which premieres at a special time, on Monday, May 19 at 9:30 p.m., before moving to its regular time period of 8:00 p.m. on Monday, May 26; “Bet On Your Baby” on Saturday, May 31 at 8:00 p.m.; “Extreme Weight Loss” on Tuesday, May 27 at 8:00 p.m.; “Mistresses” on Monday, June 2 at 10:01 p.m.; “Motive” on Wednesday, May 21 at 10:00 p.m.; “NY Med” on Tuesday, June 24 at 10:00 p.m.; “Rookie Blue” on Thursday, July 17 at 10:00 p.m.; and “Wipeout,” which debuts with a special two-hour premiere on Sunday, June 22 at 7:00 p.m., before moving to its regular time period of 8:00 p.m. the following Sunday, June 29.

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"Dancing With the Stars": Tonight's blog post

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 24, 2014

If all you care about is Drew Carey, he will be back next week, and was the first announced returner on tonight's show. He also did a jive, got good judges' comments but scored only 21 (triple 7s). Diana Nyad and Sean Avery are out.

Below is my in-progress post throughout the telecast.

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For your musical pleasure

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 24, 2014

New Chrissie Hynde, above, and new Black Keys, below.

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Video of the day

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 22, 2014

"Her" DVD/Blu-ray/digital plans

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 21, 2014

The official word: heartfelt love story for the modern era, “Her” arrives onto Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD on May 13 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Written and directed by Oscar®-winning filmmaker Spike Jonze (“Being John Malkovich,” “Where the Wild Things Are”), “Her” stars Oscar® nominee Joaquin Phoenix (“The Master,” “Walk the Line,” “Gladiator”), Oscar® nominee Amy Adams (“American Hustle”, “The Master,” “Doubt”), Oscar® nominee Rooney Mara (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”), Olivia Wilde and Scarlett Johansson. ..

“Her” recently won the Academy Award® for Best Original Screenplay (Spike Jonze); it was also nominated for Best Picture, Music – Original Score, Music – Original Song, and Production Design.

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U of Akron releases presidential applicants list: Tressel's on it

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 21, 2014

He is also the only applicant without a degree beyond a master's.* Sure feels as if the fix is still in. ((Consumer adviisory: I have a master's from UA and teach part-time there.)  Here's the university update on the presidential search with the list of applicants to date:

The Presidential Search process is progressing as anticipated, with the Board of Trustees as the Search Committee continuing to accept applications for the presidency until the position is filled.

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"Walking with Dinosaurs: Arena Spectacular" returning to Q in July

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 20, 2014

The very long official word:

Dinosaurs once again roam the earth when the spectacular production, WALKING WITH DINOSAURS THE ARENA SPECTACULAR, based on the award-winning BBC Television Series, returns to North America this summer.

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CBS sets season finale dates

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 20, 2014

The official word:

Monday, March 31

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Amazing clip

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 20, 2014

Thanks to Mashable for posting this clip of a guy solving a "Wheel of Fortune" puzzle with TWO letters filled in. Never would have guessed. ...

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Drew Carey makes his "Dancing" debut

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 17, 2014

Northeast Ohio's own Drew Carey made his "Dancing With the Stars" debut tonight, foxtrotting to the rock & roll classic "Money" with Cheryl Burke.

In the pre-performance clips, Carey said he was a guy making the best of what he has. Although Carey danced more than once in musical numbers on his old sitcom, he said the discipline of "DWTS" rehearsal had him "so out of my comfort zone. ... I can't slouch. ... Everything has to be precise."

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ICYMI: TNT summer plans

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 17, 2014

The official word:

TNT, home to more hit dramas than any other cable network, is preparing to roll out a stellar summer lineup of 10 original series, including five returning hits – Rizzoli & Isles, Major Crimes, Perception, Dallas and Franklin & Bash – and the launch of Murder in the First, a powerful new crime drama from 10-time Emmy®-winning executive producer Steven Bochco. These six shows join the previously announced season premiere of Falling Skies and the debuts of the exciting new series The Last Ship and Legends in giving TNT a total of nine scripted dramas this summer, the most ever for a basic cable network. In addition, TNT's unscripted crime-investigation series Cold Justice, which is currently in its second season, will join the lineup with a run of new episodes.

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ICYMI: CBS renews 18 shows

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 17, 2014

The official word: CBS, America’s most-watched network, today announced pick-ups for 18 series for next season. Combined with its previously announced pick-ups, CBS has now renewed 20 returning series for the 2014-2015 season, encompassing 17 hours of primetime programming.

 

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Sunday notes and links

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 16, 2014

Another link to the Johnny Carson era is gone. The comedian David Brenner died Saturday. An obit is here. According to the obit, Brenner believed that he would have succeeded Carson if the late-night king had retired in the '80s instead of later, and Brenner was not off-base. There was a long period when it seemed that Carson was constantly musing whether to step down, and Brenner was often on the speculative short lists of successors. Of course, that was a no-win game for just about everyone who ever guest-hosted for Carson, and ultimately for Carson himself, who preferred Letterman and saw Leno get the job.

My chat with David Giffels about his new book and life in Akron is here.

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Basketball Jones

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 15, 2014

The last couple of days have been intensely busy. I took some time off from the Beacon Journal on Thursday and Friday so the bride and I could see the University of Akron men's and women's basketball teams play in the MAC tournament. (For those of you tuning in late, we are avid followers of Akron basketball and soccer, and will be giving football another chance in the fall.)

The men were eliminated in the semifinals after leading by 17 points at the half; I have no more to say about that. The women won their  first two games, so we were back in Cleveland this afternoon for the MAC championship, which they also won in exciting fashion, They have been great fun to watch. And now they are headed to the NCAAs for the first time in UA women's basketball history.

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"Big Bang" gets big deal

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 12, 2014

The series has been renewed for three* more seasons, into 2017. The official word:

CBS announced today a multi-year broadcast renewal for the top-rated, critically acclaimed comedy THE BIG BANG THEORY.

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Adult Swim sets new series from "Boondocks" creator

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 11, 2014

It's called "Black Jesus." Were you expecting something milder? The official word:

Adult Swim has announced that they have greenlit a new half-hour live-action scripted comedy called Black Jesus from award-winning writer/producer, Aaron McGruder (The Boondocks, Red Tails). The show finds Jesus living in present day Compton, CA on a daily mission to spread love and kindness throughout the neighborhood with the help of his small but loyal group of downtrodden followers. The series stars newcomer Gerald "Slink" Johnson (Grand Theft Auto V) as Black Jesus, and also stars Charlie Murphy (Are We There Yet), Corey Holcomb (The Cleveland Show), and John Witherspoon (The Boondocks, The First Family). Production has begun on the new series in Los Angeles, CA, which will premiere later this year.

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Planning summer? CBS has some ideas, including new date for "Extant"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 11, 2014

The official word: CBS today announced premiere dates for its summer slate of original programming, which includes the event series UNDER THE DOME and EXTANT, the new steamy legal drama RECKLESS, the police drama UNFORGETTABLE and the return of the summer reality hit BIG BROTHER.  Together, CBS will present approximately 90 hours of first-run series programming this summer.

 

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Mixed notes Monday

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 10, 2014

Readers have been writing and calling about the end of the Beacon Journal's Channels supplement.  While I am no longer writing for that section, I still have a Sunday column which will deal with upcoming TV and possibly other entertainment options. It is running in the Community section; you can see the one from Sunday here.

Still, older readers in particular are unhappy that they no longer have a print, full-week guide to TV.

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Video - Rich and the movies: Dance in popular culture

By Ohio.com Published: March 7, 2014

This week the Beacon Journal's Rich Heldenfels discusses dancing in pop culture. It's not just contained within musicals.

 

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Video: Two guys talkin' - Hubris Edition

By Ohio.com Published: March 6, 2014

Our guys ask "What were those people thinking when they opened their mouths?"

 

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"Rectify" Season 2 begins June 19

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 6, 2014

The official word: SundanceTV announced today that the second season of its critically acclaimed scripted series “Rectify” will premiere on Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 9:00pm ET/PT. The haunting story of a man released from prison after spending nearly two decades on death row, “Rectify” has been overwhelmingly well-received by critics and has landed on numerous year-end top ten lists in 2013.

Matt Roush at TV Guide rated the series a “10 out of 10” and called it “TV’s most absorbing, unsettling new drama.”  The Daily Beast dubbed “Rectify” “the best new show of 2013” and Mary McNamara at the Los Angeles Times said “‘Rectify’ is a revelation that sets a new standard… a game changer.” “Rectify” is created and written by Ray McKinnon (The Accountant, “Deadwood,” “Sons of Anarchy”) and executive produced by Mark Johnson and Melissa Bernstein, the Emmy Award® winning producers behind “Breaking Bad” and the upcoming “Halt and Catch Fire.”

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Mixed notes

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 6, 2014

Those of you who remember David Bianculli from his print days, including here at the Beacon Journal, may be amused by this profile.

Hitfix.com notes that today is the 16th anniversary of the premiere of "The Big Lebowski." That, of course, reminded me of Medina Sod, and a column I did on it some years ago. You can find that here.

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It's a "Wonder Years Redux" kind of week

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 5, 2014

Another 50th-anniversary show: PBS marks the British invasion through DC5

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 5, 2014

The official word: Great Performances presents a look at the British invasion 50 years after both the Dave Clark Five and the Beatles hit our shores.

The Dave Clark Five and Beyond - Glad All Over features newly filmed interviews with Tom Hanks, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt of The E Street Band, Stevie Wonder, Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne, Gene Simmons of Kiss, Whoopi Goldberg, Dionne Warwick, '60s fashion icon Twiggy and Sir Ian McKellen, all sharing their memories of how the music of the 60s and the cultural revolution of 1964 changed their lives forever.

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AMC sets new series premiere

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 5, 2014

The official word: AMC announced today it will premiere its upcoming new drama series “Halt and Catch Fire” on Sunday, June 1 at 10pm ET/PT.  From AMC Studios, the series captures the rise of the PC era in the early 1980s, during which an unlikely trio – a visionary, an engineer and a prodigy – take personal and professional risks in the race to build a computer that will change the world as they know it. The 10-episode series is created by Chris Cantwell and Chris Rogers and executive produced by showrunner Jonathan Lisco (“Southland”) and Gran Via Production’s Mark Johnson (“Breaking Bad,” “Rectify,” Diner, Rain Man) and Melissa Bernstein (“Breaking Bad,” “Rectify”). Filmed on location in Atlanta, the series stars Lee Pace (Lincoln, “Pushing Daisies”) as Joe MacMillan, Scoot McNairy (Argo) as Gordon Clark, Mackenzie Davis (Smashed) as Cameron Howe, Kerry Bishé (Argo, Red State) as Donna Clark and Toby Huss (Cowboys & Aliens) as John Bosworth. 

 

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More casting of "Gotham": young Bruce Wayne, Selina Kyle

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 4, 2014

From today's email:

We’re pleased to announce the casting of the final two series regular roles — Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle — in the FOX/WBTV drama project GOTHAM, which has a series commitment at the network.

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"Longmire" Season 2 DVD set

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 4, 2014

The official word: Big Sky drama from Absaroka County, Wyoming  is back as Season Two  of LONGMIRE is released for the first time on DVD. In the show’s second season, everyone’s courage is tested, and how they face their challenges will define them. Timed to the Season Three premiere on A&E this summer, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the contemporary western Longmire: The Complete Second Season on May 13, 2014, being priced to own at $39.98 SRP.

 

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Complete "Bob Newhart Show" DVD coming

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 4, 2014

The official word: Dr. Hartley will see you now… Shout! Factory has announced the May 27 release of The Bob Newhart Show: The Complete Series, a 19-DVD box set of the iconic TV show. The box set includes new interviews with Bob Newhart, Jack Riley, Bill Daily, Peter Bonerz, and Michael Zinberg, The Bob Newhart Show 19th Anniversary from 1991, the original unaired pilot, audio commentaries, a gag reel, and a 40-page book including an essay by the Emmy®-winning writer Vince Waldron.

 

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"August: Osage County" DVD/Blu-ray/digital plans

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 4, 2014

Early digital download window is March 28, other formats and platforms get it on April 8.

The official word: Anchor Bay Entertainment and The Weinstein Company announced today the Blu-ray™ combo pack, Blu-ray™ and DVD release of AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY starring Meryl Streep, nominated for a Golden Globe® for Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy and Julia Roberts for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for their roles in AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY. Most recently, the film received two Academy Award® nominations including Meryl Streep for Best Actress and Julia Roberts for Best Supporting Actress.

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Memory lane: Dancing with the Carey

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 5, 2014

You may not remember, but Drew Carey's sitcom included several musical numbers over the years, so don't underestimate him on "DWTS." Here's one that has a move between Drew and then-co-star Katy Selverstone that could work nicely with Drew and Cheryl Burke:

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Complete ABC "DWTS" announcement

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 4, 2014

This season’s dynamic lineup of stars -- including two Olympic Gold Medalists, a game show host, a swimming legend and a teen pop star – 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 17 (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.

In a first for “Dancing with the Stars,” the competition will feature a new game changing twist called “The Switch Up.” This season, America will be given the power to vote and change celebrities and professional dance pairings. This new rule will affect all couples as they will be required to switch partners at a point in the season. Never before have dance partnerships been split up during the course of competition. 

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Drew Carey to go "Dancing With the Stars"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 4, 2014

From Yahoo!:

"Dancing With The Stars" returns for its 18th season and the new crop of celebrity competitors may be the fiercest yet.

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Cleveland Film Fest adds "To Be Takei" documentary

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 3, 2014

 

It's not in the program guide, but here's the info:

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Rufus Wainwright coming to Kent Stage

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 3, 2014

I should make that "the superb Rufus Wainwright." But you know that. The official word:

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Ken Burns coming to Kent State in April

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 3, 2014

Tickets are available today. The official word: Filmmaker Ken Burns will speak at the fifth Kent State University Presidential Speaker Series on Tuesday, April 22, at 7:30 p.m. in the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center (MAC Center).

This ticketed event is open to the public. Free general admission tickets will be available beginning Monday, March 3, at http://kentstate.universitytickets.com. A limited number of $15 chairback seats also will be available. Burns’ appearance is sponsored by Kent State’s Office of the Provost, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of the Arts and the College of Communication and Information.

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Oscars: best picture and final notes

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 3, 2014

As you know by now, "12 Years a Slave" won best picture, and that was what I was rooting for. (I would have posted sooner but had to do some video for WEWS, which you can see on the early news in a few hours.)

I had also put in my pitch for Blanchett, Nyong'o and Leto, so I can't complain there. I had McConaughey winning best actor, but was wishing for a tie with Chiewetel Ejiofor, which did not happen. And I would have given Steve McQueen best director, although I completely understand that, when it comes to technical achievement, Alfonso Cuaron was going to be the favorite (and "Gravity" racked up a ton of technical awards to underscore that). But I have had years when I was much grumpier than this one.

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Best actor, best actress

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 2, 2014

Cate Blanchett, with a balls-out acceptance speech, and Matthew McConaughey, all joy and grace and McConaughey-ness.

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Oscars, rounding third and heading toward home

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 2, 2014

Screenplay prizes go to John Ridley for "12 Years a Slave," and Spike Jonze for "Her." Best director goes to Alfonso Cuaron for "Gravity."

Weirdest moment tonight: John Travolta butchering Idina Menzel's name before she sang "Let It Go" (which then won the Oscar for best song).

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More Oscars

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 2, 2014

Because I am also tweeting (and because on heavy-use nights like this, tweets don't get to Facebook so I have to copy and paste), I have been doing more on those platforms than this one.  But you're not missing much. Ellen's not great, P!nk was good on the "Wizard of Oz" tribute, "Gravity's" wrapping up the tech awards as expected. Lupita Nyong'o gave a lovely acceptance speech, U2 made me wish Darlene Love had sung their song ... anyway, I will be back with any winners of note, and some final words when this is done.

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Oscar ceremonies, continued

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 2, 2014

We are in a long march of montages, special and tech awards, and things like animated film ("Frozen") and feature documentary ("20 Feet From Stardom"). In other words, a period where it only matters if you care about "Frozen" or "20 Feet," or relished the latter's win because Miss. Darlene. Love. offered some world-class gospel in celebration. A moment then nearly topped when Kevin Spacey came out to talk about special-Oscar winners and started out in character as Frank Underwood.

 

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Oscar ceremonies, continued

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 2, 2014

Costume design to "The Great Gatsby," makeup/hair to "Dallas Buyers Club." Harrison Ford to introduce clips from the best-picture nominees, sounding wheezy to the point of asthmatic. I wonder if he was just sighing over hearing the Indiana Jones music again.

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Oscar ceremonies: the first half-hour

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 2, 2014

Ellen DeGeneres went with an old-school monologue, which was mostly uneven: bad June Squibb joke, good Barkhad Abdi gag, lots of empty air -- and then a strong punch to the whiteness of Hollywood at the end.

Jared Leto wins for best supporting actor, which as you know was my choice (and just about everyone else's). Excellent, touching speech about his mother, dreams, and more. (And James Poniewozik noted the nods to the Ukraine and LGBT probably got the Oscars blacked out in Russia.)

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Oscar night: the red carpet, continued

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 2, 2014

I am now exhausted by fashion talk and ready for the presentation of any award. Any. See my tweets and FB posts for more.

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Oscar night: the red carpet

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 2, 2014

I have been watching E!'s red-carpet coverage for about 50 minutes now, because, well, it's Oscar night and I just can't get enough punishment. Also, this is the one night of the year I write about dresses and hair, and E! loves that stuff. But so far I have heard a few words from Wolfgang Puck, a pretaped interview with Ellen DeGeneres, red-carpet talk from Viola Davis and Portia de Rossi -- and an awful lot of Seacrest and Giuliana and Kelly and Ross. I have been tweeting, but will be back here when breaks permit.

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Ranking the Oscar nominees: best director

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 2, 2014

There are directors who win awards for their managing of actors. There are others who win for managing grand vistas, casts of thousands and the heavy demands of technology. This year, those leaning toward a win for Alfonso Cuaron have to concede his enormous technical skill: "Gravity" was visually splendid, and made as good a use of 3D as we have seen in modern times. But is that enough? As fine as Sandra Bullocki is in "Gravity," is the film more than a suspenseful adventure?

I have written elsewhere about the currents in the film, the echoes of the Old West especially, but I am still not convinced it is a film as rich in character and ideas as "12 Years a Slave" or "Nebraska." So, while I admire what Cuaron did, and understand the urge of some voters to split the difference between "Gravity" and "12 Years" by giving the former best director and the latter best picture, I at this moment go a different way, Specifically, in descending order, like this:

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Ranking the Oscar nominees: best supporting actor, best supporting actress

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 2, 2014

For supporting actor, my preferred list in descending order:

Jared Leto, "Dallas Buyers Club"

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Ranking the Oscar nominees: best actress

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 2, 2014

In descending order:

Cate Blanchett, "Blue Jasmine"

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Ranking the Oscar nominees: best actor

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 2, 2014

Here's how I would line up the nominees. In descending order:

Tie, Matthew McConaughey, "Dallas Buyers Club," and Chiwetel Ejiofor, "12 Years a Slave."

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Ranking the Oscar nominees: best picture

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 2, 2014

I have seen all the major film nominees, so I thought it would be useful to you readers if I told you where I stood as we go into tonight's telecast. Here's how I would rank the nine best-picture nominees, from best to not:

"12 Years a Slave"

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It's Oscar day! (Updated)

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 2, 2014

I will be tweeting during the telecast tonight, and you can keep tabs on that with the hashtag #OscarsABJ. I will also post to the blog here, although most of the posting will consist of the text from tweets. And I have a piece today about the chances of five films splitting the five major awards (I wouldn't be surprised if four do, but five seems a tantalizing long shot); you can find that here.

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