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TV Wednesday

By admin Published: September 30, 2009

New: "Hank," "The Middle," both ABC.
Dead and gone: "The Beautiful Life: TBL," the first cancellation of the current TV season.

That's an odd pairing of comedies on ABC for the simple reason that "Hank" stars Kelsey Grammer and "The Middle" stars NE Ohio's own Patricia Heaton, and Grammer and Heaton co-starred in the sitcom "Back to You" not long ago. "Back to You" had potential, and might have realized it if it had gotten a second season. But even what got on the air of it was better than anything in "Hank," a dreary comedy with Grammer as a rich man who has to start over after losing his fortune. Blah. "The Middle," with Heaton as a working mom, is much brighter and better. The jokes snap, the performances are good and it has the sort of rapid-fire editing that marked "Arrested Development" and "Scrubs." It's one I will be coming back to. "Hank," though, no thanks.

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"All My Children" Casting News & Other Notes

By admin Published: September 30, 2009

After the jump, "All My Children," a "2012" blitz and some Connie Dieken book-signings.


"AMC" fans know that the show is moving from New York to Hollywood and that has raised some questions about the cast. Here's the answer from ABC as of today:

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Talking television

By admin Published: September 29, 2009

Join me as I talk about the new Wednesday comedies, "DWTS," DVD and other items. Note also my friend on the screen behind me.

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Now It's Just "Kate Plus 8"

By admin Published: September 29, 2009

From TLC:
TLC has announced that JON & KATE PLUS EIGHT will adapt to the changing Gosselin family and relaunch in November [Nov. 2, to be precise] under the new title KATE PLUS EIGHT.
The program will continue to capture the incredible lives of the eight Gosselin children and their family but will now include a deeper focus on Kate’s role in the family and her journey as a single mother building the next chapter in her life. TLC will continue its exclusive relationship with Jon Gosselin and he will continue to appear on the show, but on a less regular basis.
"Given the recent changes in the family dynamics, it only makes sense for us to refresh and recalibrate the program to keep pace with the family. The family has evolved and we are attempting to evolve with it; we feel that Kate’s journey really resonates with our viewers. Additionally the network is in development on a Kate project for 2010” states Eileen O’Neill, President and GM, TLC.
The series will continue to chronicle the Gosselin family as they go on outings and tackle daily challenges and adventures. It will also document Kate’s journey as a newly single mother raising 5 year-old sextuplets and 8 year-old twins.

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Tacky Tacky Tacky!!

By admin Published: September 29, 2009

The Cedar Lee will give "visibly pregnant" women free admission to upcoming showings of "Rosemary's Baby." Nor is it failing to make note that director Roman Polanski is "in the headlines again." Full release after the jump.

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AMC Sets Date for New "Prisoner"

By admin Published: September 29, 2009

The six-part updating of the Patrick McGoohan series premieres with two episodes on Nov. 15, with the remaining episodes airing two at a time on Nov. 16 and 17. Full announcement after the jump. The three-night telecast feels as if AMC is trying to create an event, but it also makes me wonder if AMC wants to minimize any possible ratings damage.

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"The Hangover" To DVD, Blu-Ray

By admin Published: September 29, 2009

The comedy, which made more than $274 million in North America and more than $453 million worldwide, lands on Dec. 15 (with the digital download a week later) -- so put it on your holiday shopping list now. Details after the jump. My potential favorite extra: a cursing compilation.

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Monday Night TV

By admin Published: September 28, 2009

New: "Trauma" (NBC)
Returning: "Lie to Me" (Fox)

After the jump, some notes on "Trauma" and "Lie to Me."

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Monday Notebook, Catching Up on TV

By admin Published: September 28, 2009

In case you missed it, my story about the movie "More Than a Game" (with comments from director Kris Belman, coach Dru Joyce II and LeBron James) is here. I will have a review in the Beacon Journal later this week, but I think the Sunday story makes clear that the review will be favorable.

The weekly DVD column, topped by the John Krasinski-Maya Rudolph film "Away We Go," is here.

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Roman Polanski

By admin Published: September 28, 2009

I was out of town Saturday and much of Sunday and am still in the process of catching up with my viewing. But before I post about some things, including tonight's offering, you have probably already heard about director Roman Polanski's arrest. Here's a brief version from the Los Angeles Times:

Director Roman Polanski is in Swiss custody ... awaiting extradition to Los Angeles after being arrested in Zurich in connection with his 1977 Los Angeles rape case.

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TV Tonight: Friday

By admin Published: September 25, 2009

New tonight: "Brothers" (Fox), and you may count "Medium" being on a new network, CBS.
Returning: "Ghost Whisperer," "Medium," "Numb3rs" (all on CBS); "Dollhouse" (Fox), "Law & Order" (NBC), "Smallville" (CW).

As you may have gathered from some of my posts here and on Twitter and FB, I have been doing some other things that have cramped my TV viewing. I have been meaning to get to the second-season premiere of "Dollhouse," for instance, see I was so intrigued by the DVD-only episode indicating a new direction for the show. But I just did not get to it, and I am going to be on the road for a good chunk of the weekend. So maybe we can have some ex post facto discussions later.

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"The September Issue"

By admin Published: September 25, 2009

The documentary about the inner workings of the American version of Vogue, and about its famed editor in chief, Anna Wintour, is playing at the Cedar Lee as of today. I took a look at a review disc of "The September Issue" last night (that's one of the reasons I am way behind on my Thursday viewing, but let's move on) ...

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TV Tonight: Thursday

By admin Published: September 24, 2009

Am managing to get over the loss of Macy Gray from "Dancing With the Stars" enough for a few notes on tonight's TV.

New: "FlashForward" (ABC).
Returning: "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, two hours; "Private Practice" returns next week), "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "The Mentalist" (both CBS).
In progress already: "Bones" and "Fringe" (Fox), "Survivor: Samoa" (CBS), "SNL Weekend Update Thursday," "Parks and Recreation," "The Office" and "Community" (all NBC); "Vampire Diaries" and "Supernatural" (The CW).

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TV Tonight: Wednesday

By admin Published: September 23, 2009

New shows: "Mercy" (NBC), "Modern Family," "Cougar Town," "Eastwick" (all ABC).
Returning: "The New Adventures of Old Christine," "Gary Unmarried," "Criminal Minds," "CSI:NY" (all CBS), "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC).

Some thoughts on the new shows, with praise for one of the comedies, after the jump.

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Another "Watchmen" DVD

By admin Published: September 22, 2009

I expected that Warner Bros. would integrate "Tales of the Black Freighter" into the "Watchmen" movie at some point, to make the story more closely resemble the Alan Moore-Dave Gibbons tale. And, now that you have bought the separate incarnations of "Watchmen," "Tales" and the motion comic, here comes the 215-minute mega cut. The announcement:

Be the first to own the must-have collectible for Watchmen fans when Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on November 3 from Warner Home Video. From director Zack Snyder, this new and complete version of the action-packed blockbuster weaves Watchmen: Tales from the Black Freighter, the animated story-within-a-story into the Director’s Cut of the film, creating a true ultimate version of the critically acclaimed story. ...

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TV Tonight

By admin Published: September 22, 2009

New shows: "NCIS: LA" and "The Good Wife" (CBS), "the forgotten" (ABC, pictured above).
Returning: "NCIS" (CBS). "Dancing With the Stars" continues its premiere week with performances by the women contestants.

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Morning File: Locklear on "Melrose," More "Glee," Other

By admin Published: September 22, 2009

As she did with the original "Melrose Place," Heather Locklear will ride to the rescue of the new version in November. That, and other items, after the jump.

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TV Monday

By admin Published: September 21, 2009

New tonight: The excruciating "Accidentally on Purpose" (CBS) pictured above.
Returning: "House" (Fox, two hours), "Heroes" (NBC, two hours), "How I Met Your Mother," "Two and a Half Men," "Big Bang Theory," "CSI: Miami" (all CBS), "Dancing With the Stars," "Castle" (ABC).
Notes on some of these items after the jump.

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Notebook: Emmys, "Mad Men"

By admin Published: September 20, 2009

In my previous post on what I'd have voted for in the Emmys, I listed 10 categories. My fave won in five (Chenoweth, Cryer, Emerson, Collette and "Mad Men" as drama) and I was OK with one other (Baldwin). I wasn't in the loop on four: drama supporting actress (Cherry Jones when I leaned toward Chandra Wilson/Sandra Oh), drama lead (I had Elisabeth Moss, but Glenn Close won) or lead actor (Jon Hamm was my guy, not Bryan Cranston) and best comedy (I like "30 Rock" and "HIMYM" but think "The Office" had a better year). Is 50-60 percent OK? Well, I was very happy for Chenoweth and Cryer especially, but I still can't be all that pleased overall. And will once again note that "The Shield" and "Friday Night Lights" were not even in contention tonight.

Besides, I also went to sports events this weekend, and the hoped-for result there was a better 67 percent -- two wins (both by the UA soccer team), one loss (UA football).

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Sunday Morning Notebook

By admin Published: September 20, 2009

A chat with Akron's Melina Kanakaredes, star of "CSI: NY," is here. I have been talking with her for about 15 years now -- since I came to Akron, and she was working on "Guiding Light" and "NYPD Blue" -- and she remains among the friendliest and most accessible of celebrities.

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If I Were An Emmy Voter...

By admin Published: September 18, 2009

After the jump, my faves in some acting and series categories, as well as some of those overlooked. As for the show, anyone planning to watch Sunday? And if you are, how much to see Neil Patrick Harris host, and how much because you care about who wins?

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More Thursday TV Notes

By admin Published: September 17, 2009

After the jump: "Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday" and "Survivor: Samoa."

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Where I've Been

By admin Published: September 17, 2009

Spent the day at the "What Values?" workshop and panel discussions on issues involving journalism and new media. You can find out more here, and the session labels at the top of the page will link you to video of the panel discussions. Of particular local interest is Session 4, which includes Eric Mansfield and Ed Esposito.

As a result of the day, I am now spending more time on FARK.com, Talkingpointsmemo.com and Tehranbureau.com, as well as thinking a lot about better ways not only to do my work but to talk with readers like yourselves about how best to do it. Am open to suggestions, too.

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Wednesday/Thursday Notes (Updated)

By admin Published: September 16, 2009

Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary has died. NY Times obit is here. She had a memorable voice, and, with Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey, she was a great ambassador for folk music and singer-songwriters. I'll mention just one favorite: their cover of John Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane," where she gave it longing and sadness from the beginning; although I'm generally a believer that singer-songwriters do their work best, in this case PPM trumps Denver.

Watched tonight's "Glee" (a show that has used "Leaving on a Jet Plane," by the way) and it was the weakest of the four episodes I've seen so far -- three that have aired, plus next week's. The plot didn't quite work, although the musical numbers were amusing enough. And the showiest piece, of "Bust Your Windows," was not a surprise because Fox had already made it available as a music video. Oh, well. I feel the need to invoke the Dick Wolf Principle, which says that in any given season, one third of a series' episodes are good, one third awful and one third so-so. This was not one of the good ones. But next week's is.

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More Swayze Telecasts

By admin Published: September 16, 2009


From Encore:
Encore celebrates the late Patrick Swayze with three films on Saturday, September 19 beginning at 4:00 p.m.
4:00 p.m. – City of Joy - Swayze plays a disenchanted American surgeon who arrives in Calcutta seeking enlightenment - instead he's mugged and taken to a free clinic in the slums, where he finds a new purpose for his life.
6:15 p.m. – Youngblood - As young hockey hotshots, Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze make an unbeatable team in a film that counterpoints a tender love story with thrilling, on-ice action.
8:10 p.m. – Point Break - An FBI agent goes undercover to infiltrate a gang of crazed surfers who rob banks - while disguised as presidents - to support their free-spirited lifestyle in this action-packed crime drama.

And from ABC Family:
To celebrate the life of actor, dancer and leading man, Patrick Swayze, ABC Family will air “Dirty Dancing” this weekend on Saturday, September 19 at 8:00PM ET/PT, with an encore on Sunday, September 20 at 9:30PM ET/PT.

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Swayze Tributes: ABC Trying to Blunt Leno?

By admin Published: September 15, 2009

From today's email:

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Patrick Swayze, R.I.P.

By admin Published: September 14, 2009

The actor has died. It isn't unexpected, of course, considering all the publicity about his illness, but it is still sad. I saw him in the flesh once, when he was young and very handsome and starring in TV's "North and South." He also came across as a very happy man. He deserved a better end than this.

For some, it is enough to remember him for scenes where he took his shirt off, or for the sexy grace he showed as a dancer. When I think of "Dirty Dancing," it's usually for the scene of Swayze leading the other dancers down the aisle, in determined motion, asserting their power and youth in the face of ancient authority. For others, it was his beauty and sensitivity and sexiness in "Ghost." He would endure in many memories on his looks alone, and with the way he said that one line: "Nobody puts Baby in a corner."

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Hello ... Leno.

By admin Published: September 14, 2009

Tonight begins what may or may not be a watershed moment in the history of television, as NBC tries airing Jay Leno in prime time five nights a week. After the jump, my Beacon Journal column on the subject, and on the fundamental question for viewers in this business experiment.

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"Vega$" on DVD on Oct. 20

By admin Published: September 14, 2009

Not the James Caan series. You can get that. This is the vintage show starring (Toronto, Ohio native) Robert Urich, which fans have wanted on DVD for ages. The announcement:

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"Mad Men": "The Fog"/"The Arrangements"

By admin Published: September 13, 2009

I neglected to post on last week's "Mad Men." So, after the jump, some remarks on both last week's and tonight's telecasts.

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Sunday Notebook

By admin Published: September 13, 2009

An interview with Akron's Frank Dicopoulos about the end of "Guiding Light," with a special appearance by Melina Kanakaredes (a "GL" alum), is here. The weekly DVD column, topped by some thoughts on the second-season set of "Big Bang Theory," is here.

Had a good Saturday. The bride and I went to the opening game at the new University of Akron football stadium. While I have some reservations about the beast -- the UA soccer team has a long record of major success yet plays in far less impressive surroundings than the stadium provides -- it is a really nice place to watch a game, especially with a packed, happy house. Then, Saturday night, we had dinner with friends from work -- hosted by the ABJ food writer, Lisa Abraham, and her husband, and predetermined as a break from Weight Watchers. Mmmmmmm. I will pay for the next several days, of course, but the food-friends-conversation combo was still unbeatable.

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Larry Gelbart, R.I.P.

By admin Published: September 11, 2009

The writer for stage, screen and TV has died. L.A. Times obit is here.

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Eight Years

By admin Published: September 11, 2009

People are being asked today to remember Sept. 11, 2001. In that vein, I have posted after the jump three columns I wrote in 2001, one from Sept. 12, two from the following October; then you can read a piece George Thomas and I did for Sept. 9, 2006, the fifth anniversary.

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More Notes: "Friday Night Lights," "Coal Country"

By admin Published: September 10, 2009

My latest feature on "Coal Country," the locally produced documentary, is here.
Lots of intriguing details about Season 4 of "FNL" in this release from DirecTV, which begins airing the new episodes on Oct. 28. (NBC will carry them in 2010, probably in summer.) From the DirecTV announcement:

Viewers will meet the East Dillon Lions when the fourth season of the critically acclaimed and Emmy-winning drama series Friday Night Lights premieres October 28 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on DIRECTV’s The 101 Network. Executive Producer Peter Berg (“Hancock”) will direct the season premiere, returning to the series as director for the first time since directing the show’s pilot in 2006. Four new additions to the cast, as well as the returning characters, will be central to the fourth and fifth seasons of the show.

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Thursday Notebook: "Vampire Diaries," Songs in My Head

By admin Published: September 10, 2009

First, you can find this week's mailbag column here. Now tunes: Marianne Faithfull sings "Solitude," the Duke Ellington tune. You can also find her performing it on "Easy Come Easy Go: 12 Songs for Music Lovers."

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Late Wednesday Notebook: Ellen DeGeneres New "Idol" Judge, More "Big Brother," Any Thoughts re "Glee"?

By admin Published: September 9, 2009

I had a class after work today, then met a friend for late coffee, so I've been away from the computer most of the evening. But here are a couple of things that came in the email while I was out.

First, Ellen DeGeneres will be the fourth judge on "Idol," replacing Miss Paula. Not a bad call. Ellen has demonstrated plenty of empathy for regular people on her show, she has a sense of humor and she can speak in complete sentences. So I can see her providing the supportive element they want in one judge (and more of it than Kara calling the singers "sweetie") while also being fairly entertaining. And I think she'll be better in banter with Simon.

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"Glee" Time

By admin Published: September 9, 2009

Tonight's new TV includes the season premiere of "America's Next Top Model," the start of a new season of "So You Can Think You Can Dance" (hot on the heels of the previous season, as the show leaps from summer airings to a fall slot) and my biggie, the beginning of new episodes of "Glee." I have said just about everything I can to get you to watch, so after the jump I am reprising my column from a little over a week ago, just before Fox began several replays of the pilot.

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New "Little People, Big World" Episodes in October

By admin Published: September 8, 2009

Here's the announcement:
TLC today announced that fan-favorite LITTLE PEOPLE, BIG WORLD premieres its fifth season on Monday, October 16 at 8 & 8:30 PM. The series, which follows the Roloff family – comprised of both little and average height people – will continue to share their heart-warming moments and real-life challenges.

The season will pick up exploring how life is changing for the entire family as the kids grow up. Matt and Amy start to explore new territory as their oldest children are ready to start their own lives. They are left with different ideas on how to fill their time and have to figure out what will be their next chapter in life. Meanwhile, as Molly settles into high school, Zach's poor grades and Jeremy’s lack of direction leaves their future undecided.

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"Melrose Place" Anew

By admin Published: September 8, 2009

After the jump, my thoughts after seeing two episodes of the reworking of "Melrose Place," from my Sunday column in the Beacon Journal, and a few words about "90210's" second-season premiere.

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Tuesday Morning Notes; "Flashpoint," "Angels & Demons" to DVD

By admin Published: September 8, 2009

I took a day off from this space for Labor Day, instead spending it on some yard activities (mulch - done!), a little shopping with the bride, a bit of schoolwork, and watching the season premiere of "House (good - more about that later) and the documentary "Coal Country."

Later I expect to have a post about the return of the newer "90210" and the premiere of "Melrose Place," and maybe some thoughts on Sunday's "Mad Men.'

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Sunday Notebook

By admin Published: September 6, 2009

My overview of the fall TV season is here. Brief descriptions of new network shows, with premiere dates, are here. Premiere dates for returning shows are here. Planned midseason shows, new and returning, are listed here.

The latest DVD column, focusing on "Fringe" and the merits of getting it in Blu-ray, is here.

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Thursday Notebook

By admin Published: September 3, 2009

This week's mailbag is here. Questions about "Guiding Light" and other topics. I have also chatted with Akron's Frank Dicopoulos, a longtime regular on "GL," for a story to run in a week or so, before the last CBS telecast. Although CBS is ending its relationship with the show, and taping stopped a couple of weeks ago, Frank is still hoping that "GL" owner Procter & Gamble will find another home for the daytime serial in some form. And he firmly believes that there is a loyal audience for daytime dramas like "GL." More about all that, as I said, in a later story.

I watched the revised version of the "Glee" pilot last night, and I still enjoy the show. But the major change from the original pilot was the insertion of "Leaving on a Jet Plane," and that didn't work very well. While there are plenty of times when the show is absolutely right in its song selection, this was more of a case of shoehorning in something that was only vaguely appropriate. Just a gimmick -- like the "tweet-peat" telecast, to get people back in tune with "Glee." But I still have faith in the show, and was generally pleased with the next two episodes. We can talk more after you start seeing new stuff next week.

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Charles Gibson To Retire, Diane Sawyer Gets "World News" Chair

By admin Published: September 2, 2009

Gibson apparently planned to retire a couple of years ago but deferred the decision because of Peter Jennings's illness and problems with a planned two-anchor format. awyer could reasonably be considered ABC's biggest current news star, so it makes sense that she would get the big show. Changes take effect in January. Full report from ABC News after the jump, followed by a 2006 story I wrote about Gibson.

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Megan Mullally Joins "Party Down"

By admin Published: September 2, 2009

The show was facing a serious gap with Jane Lynch moving over to "Glee." But Mullally knows how to improvise, so this could be a good addition. Announcement after the jump.

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Fourth "Mad Men" Season Ordered

By admin Published: September 1, 2009

And, considering how good the third season has been so far, why not? Full announcement after the jump.

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DVD Notes

By admin Published: September 1, 2009

My regular DVD column on new releases is here. A local addendum, from filmmaker Butch Maier:

"The Bride & The Grooms" -- the indie romantic comedy written, directed and produced by Copley resident Butch Maier -- will be released on DVD on Tuesday, Sept. 1.
The movie, which was shot primarily in Akron and shown in theaters in 12 states in April, is about a woman who accidentally gets engaged to four men at the same time. It stars University of Akron graduate Jacilyn Ledford, who portrays a bride-to-be who is too nice for her own good.
The DVD includes deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes footage and a gag reel. It costs $15.99 plus shipping and can be purchased via the PayPal button at thebrideandthegrooms.com/news.html.

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