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Rich and the movies: 'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation' review

By Published: July 31, 2015
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Beacon Journal pop culture writer Rich Heldenfels checks in with his thoughts on Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation. Can the Tom Cruise action franchise keep pace with the more popular Fast and Furious films?


Click here to read the full review.

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Want to bet on LeBron's future? Here are some odds

By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 27, 2015

From an online gambling-info site:

With reports surfacing that LeBron James will be taking his talents to Hollywood after apparently reaching a deal with Warner Bros., speculation is on the rise that the 1996 film Space Jam, which starred the greatest basketball player of all time*, Michael Jordan as well other NBA greats, will get a reboot with James in the lead role. LeBron has been getting good reviews in his acting debut while playing a fictionalized version of himself in the summer comedy hit, Trainwreck, currently playing in theaters around the nation. With fans across the country looking for answers, the best and newest online source for unbiased gambling reviews,** ( posted odds on what to expect after the news broke of the LeBron James and Warner Bros. partnership!

“Whether they love him or hate him, LeBron James sparks interest from fans and those looking for him to fail alike,” stated spokesperson Allan Kingsley Jones. “Even news of a possible Space Jam reboot has sparked interest on our site. While taking his talents from city to city seems to be becoming a pattern for LeBron, it will remain to be seen whether he should keep them to the hardwood.”

Analysts at the Website posted the following odds on LeBron James and Warner Bros.:

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New "Gotham" teasers

By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 24, 2015

This one is especially cool.


This one is OK but I like the other one more.

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"Entourage: The Movie" releases on digital, disc coming

By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 24, 2015

The official word about the slightly-seen, poorly reviewed continuation of the TV saga:

The boys are back! “Entourage The Movie” will arrive onto Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on September 29 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. “Entourage The Movie,” the much-anticipated big-screen version of the award-winning HBO series, reunites the hit show’s original cast led by Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara and Jeremy Piven. The film will be available early on Digital HD starting on August 25.


A Warner Bros. Pictures presentation, in association with Home Box Office, “Entourage The Movie” also stars Billy Bob Thornton and Haley Joel Osment as father and son Larsen and Travis McCredle. The returning cast from the series includes Perrey Reeves as Ari Gold’s wife, “Mrs. Ari;” Emmanuelle Chriqui as Sloan, Eric’s on-again/off-again love interest; Debi Mazar as Vince’s publicist, Shauna; Rex Lee as the ever-faithful Lloyd; and Constance Zimmer as Ari’s colleague Dana Gordon. Emily Ratajkowski and champion UFC fighter Ronda Rousey appear as themselves in the film.

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NBC sets Ed Sheeran special for Aug. 16

By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 24, 2015

The official word: Chart-topping singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran gives television audiences a front row seat to his sold out summer headlining shows at London’s Wembley Stadium in a one-hour NBC special, titled “Ed Sheeran - Live at Wembley Stadium,” airing Sunday, August 16 (8-9 p.m. ET).

“Ed Sheeran - Live at Wembley Stadium” shows the global superstar performing his biggest hits, including his breakthrough Grammy-nominated single “The A Team” and worldwide #1 smash “Thinking Out Loud,” as well as a one-of-a-kind duet with Sir Elton John. “Ed Sheeran - Live at Wembley Stadium” also features unseen documentary footage with exclusive access that captures the build up around Sheeran’s historic record-breaking shows at the iconic venue, where he played to 240,000 fans across three memorable, sold-out nights.

“I can't say that performing at Wembley Stadium was a ‘dream come true,' because I honestly thought it was out of reach and didn't think it was possible,” said Sheeran. “But with each tour, the venues continued to grow and it became something of a challenge to see how far we could take it, how big we could go and still deliver a show that connected with the entire audience. It really doesn’t get any bigger than Wembley in my mind and it was an honour to join the select few that have headlined there. It’s definitely a personal milestone and I’m so glad to share this special moment with all of my fans.”

Sheeran is a six-time Grammy-nominated, multiplatinum singer-songwriter. At only 24 years old, the British artist has already become a global phenomenon. His latest album “x” (pronounced multiply) has gone to #1 in 14 countries around the world, including the United States and his native United Kingdom, where it was both the biggest and fastest selling album of 2014. “x” was nominated for Album of the Year at the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards, and features a trio of platinum hits -- “Sing,” “Don’t," and his chart topping smash “Thinking Out Loud" -- as well as his latest single "Photograph." An acclaimed live performer, Sheeran has played countless sold-out shows all over the globe, including a three-night stand at New York City’s Madison Square Garden and four nights at London’s O2 Arena. His current worldwide tour returns to North America this fall, highlighted by his biggest stateside show yet, taking place at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on September 25.

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Coming in October: "Unauthorized" movies about "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Melrose Place"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 23, 2015

The official word:  Ah, the 1990s. Sideburns, frosted tips, slap bracelets, fanny packs and, of course, the launch of two shows that made television history -- Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place. In a Lifetime “throw back-to–back” weekend event, The Unauthorized Beverly Hills, 90210 Story premieres Saturday, October 3, at 8pm ET/PT and The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story follows on Saturday, October 10, at 8pm ET/PT. The movies are the latest in Lifetime’s “Unauthorized Story” film franchise and revisit two of the decade’s most iconic programs and reveal what transpired behind the scenes during the cast members’ rise to fame.


An international pop culture phenomenon, Beverly Hills, 90210 ruled the ‘90s television landscape and reigned as the top teen show for nearly a decade during which Jason Priestley, Luke Perry, Shannen Doherty, Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling became household names. The Unauthorized Beverly Hills, 90210 Story reveals the roller coaster ride behind the show’s first four seasons, highlighting the drama between cast members and producers both on and off-set as they journeyed together from near-cancelation to unparalled fame and success.


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LeBron, Warner Bros. make deal. Is a "Space Jam" reboot next?

By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 22, 2015

The official word: LeBron James, basketball star, international icon and one of the world’s most popular sports figures, and his company, SpringHill Entertainment, are partnering with Warner Bros. Entertainment, the global entertainment leader, in an unprecedented agreement spanning all areas of content creation. The deal will see James’ creative footprint touch all areas of the Studio, with plans for projects in television, film and original digital content. The announcement was made today by Kevin Tsujihara, Chairman and CEO, Warner Bros. in collaboration with Maverick Carter and LeBron James, co-Founders, SpringHill Entertainment.

“LeBron James has one of the most powerful, well-known brands in the world and we are excited to be in business with him and his partner, Maverick Carter, and SpringHill Entertainment,” said Tsujihara. “The combination of LeBron’s global media presence and Warner Bros.’ unmatched production and distribution expertise is a big win for fans everywhere. We’re excited to welcome LeBron and Maverick to the Warner Bros. family and look forward to partnering on incredible projects that will connect with consumers across a variety of platforms.”

“Connecting with my fans and telling meaningful stories have always been my passion. In everything I’ve done, from Nike commercials to ‘Uninterrupted’ and ‘Survivor’s Remorse,’ it’s always about connecting with people of all ages and providing unique content they can all enjoy,” said LeBron James. “And I’ve always loved movies, which makes Warner Bros. the ultimate partner to help us continue to push the envelope. I can’t wait to see what we come up with.”

SpringHill Entertainment, the entertainment and content company created by James and business partner Maverick Carter, develops creative content across a wide variety of platforms including digital, documentary and feature films, and scripted and unscripted TV. SpringHill’s growing project portfolio includes Disney XD’s inspirational series “Becoming,” the Starz’ breakout scripted comedy “Survivor’s Remorse,” “Uninterrupted,” the multimedia platform for unfiltered athlete content hosted on Turner digital platform Bleacher Report, and an upcoming primetime game show for NBC.

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Video: Two Guys Talkin' about celebrity breakups

By Published: July 22, 2015

Our two guys wonder how the little folk can stay married if the celebs can't?

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Discuss: an international list of the best American films

By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 21, 2015

"Citizen Kane," bumped from the top spot on the Sight & Sound list by "Vertigo," is number one on this list of the 100 best. The top 10:

10. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
9. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)
8. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
7. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952)
6. Sunrise (FW Murnau, 1927)
5. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
3. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
2. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
1. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)

The results were based on the opinions of 62 international critics "from daily newspaper reviewers, magazine critics, bloggers and broadcasters to authors of book-length academic criticism and the final Top 100 was calculated via a simple point system (10 points for each #1 pick, 1 point for each #10 pick). The criteria was simple: any film made by a U.S. studio or funded in some way from an American source qualifies as an “American film”. The director of the movie did not have to be born in America and the film did not have to be made in America. In fact, 32 films on the list were directed by film-makers born outside the US, reflecting America’s immigrant identity." 


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MTV Video Music Award nominees

By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 21, 2015

The telecast will be on Aug. 30. Miley Cyrus is hosting. Here's the list:


Beyoncé – “7/11”

Ed Sheeran – “Thinking Out Loud”

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The "Trainwreck" chronicles

By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 17, 2015

"Trainwreck," the movie starring and written by Amy Schumer, and featuring LeBron James, officially opens today. Here's a roundup of things I've written about it:

My review.

A look at LeBron's acting in recent years, and what he might do next.

The red-carpet preview in Montrose.

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Video: Two Guys Talkin' about movies that are so bad we love them

By Published: July 16, 2015

With the release (escape?) of Sharknado3, our Two Guys talk about other movies that are so bad they're good. There's still more about this in Sunday's Beacon Journal.

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New "Survivor's Remorse" trailer

By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 15, 2015

Kennedy Center honorees include Cicely Tyson, Rita Moreno, George Lucas, Eagles, more

By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 15, 2015

The official word: Today, The Kennedy Center Honors announced their honorees for 2015 are the American rock band Eagles, singer-songwriter Carole King, filmmaker George Lucas, actress and singer Rita Moreno, conductor Seiji Ozawa and actress and Broadway star Cicely Tyson. They will be recognized during THE 38TH ANNUAL KENNEDY CENTER HONORS, to be broadcast Tuesday, Dec. 29 (9:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. CBS has broadcast the special each year since its debut 38 years ago.


“The Kennedy Center Honors recognizes the extraordinary and unparalleled talents of individuals whose impact and genius have left an indelible mark on civilization,” stated Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein. “Quite simply, our Honorees represent the voices, soundtracks and stories of our personal lives and memories. The music of the Eagles has endured as the quintessential American rock and roll sound for generations; Carole King’s heartfelt lyrics and tunes are woven throughout the tapestry of American music; George Lucas’ films have enriched our world with stories of epic adventure; Rita Moreno’s iconic spitfire roles are embedded in the heart of American culture; Seiji Ozawa’s artistic leadership as a conductor has set a new standard for orchestras around the world; and Cicely Tyson’s range of strong female roles on stage and screen have broken boundaries for women of color.”


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Video: Rich Heldenfels talks summer movie sequels

By Dan Kadar Published: July 13, 2015

Beacon Journal pop culture writer Rich Heldenfels dishes on this year's biggest summer movie sequels.

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Witherspoon/Vegara "Hot Pursuit" on digital 7/28, disc 8/11

By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 9, 2015

The official word:  Witness a good cop turn into a fugitive when New Line Cinema’s and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures’ (MGM) comedy “Hot Pursuit” arrives onto Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD. Starring Academy Award® winner Reese Witherspoon (“Walk the Line,” “Wild”) and Sofía Vergara (“Chef,” TV’s “Modern Family”), “Hot Pursuit” follows two fugitives who are ready to cop, lock and drop it. “Hot Pursuit” will be available on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on August 11. The film will also be available early on Digital HD from MGM on July 28.


“Hot Pursuit” is directed by Anne Fletcher (“The Proposal”) from a screenplay written by David Feeney (TV’s “New Girl”) & John Quaintance (TV’s Ben & Kate). John Carroll Lynch (“Crazy, Stupid, Love.”) and Robert Kazinsky (“Pacific Rim”) also star in the film, which was produced by Bruna Papandrea (“Wild,” “Gone Girl”), Reese Witherspoon and Dana Fox alongside executive producers Jeff Waxman, Sofía Vergara and Luis Balaguer.


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Valerie Bertinelli sets Food Network show

By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 9, 2015

The official word: Golden Globe® award-winning actress and best-selling cookbook author Valerie Bertinelli shares her passion for preparing delicious meals for her family and friends on Valerie's Home Cooking, premiering on Saturday, August 8th at 12pm ET/PT on Food Network. Join her in the kitchen as she prepares homemade, modern, easy recipes and offers how-to tips and techniques for delicious date nights, pizza parties, family barbecues and so much more. Inspired by family recipes passed down through the generations, Valerie adds her own flavor and flair to create mouthwatering meals that everyone can enjoy.


"Throughout the years fans have come to love Valerie for her acting talents, and now on Valerie's Home Cooking they will get to experience her passion and talent for cooking as she creates crowd-pleasing meals," said Bob Tuschman, General Manager and Senior Vice President Programming, Food Network. "We first welcomed Valerie to the Food Network family as co-host of Kids Baking Championship, and now we are thrilled to join her in the kitchen as she prepares delicious dishes for friends and family."


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Fox's "Empire" sets singing competition via bus tour; spot on show is the prize

By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 9, 2015

No Cleveland date, but you could travel. The official word: 

EMPIRE is bringing fans the ultimate music experience this summer as it launches the “FOX’s Next Empire Artist” nationwide bus tour, which kicks off Thursday, July 16 in Los Angeles. The gold EMPIRE bus, outfitted with a one-of-a-kind recording studio, will travel to 15 cities across the country, giving fans the opportunity to record their versions of EMPIRE’s biggest hits. In addition, fans recording songs will also have the opportunity to record an a capella version to submit in the “FOX’s Next EMPIRE Artist” contest, in which one lucky winner will appear as an EMPIRE artist during Season Two.


In addition to recording EMPIRE music on the bus, from “No Apologies” to “Drip Drop,” fans will have the chance to be part of a special photo experience, as they stand in for “Lucious Lyon,” and, of course, they will be treated to “Cookie’s” fresh-baked cookies!

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Monday notebook

By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 6, 2015

If you have not seen the story already, here's mine about the new movie "Trainwreck" getting a special Akron preview. It stars Amy Schumer but is also a showcase for a young man from Akron named LeBron James.

Also of local note is this story about the making of the Cleveland classic "Major League." Sportswriter Jonathan Knight tells the tale in a new book. You can read more about the book here.

The Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage had some people asking whether pop culture efforts such as "Modern Family" and Ellen DeGeneres's talk show affected the way the public thinks about the issue. I considered that, and the relationship between pop culture and social issues generally, in this column.

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WKSU changes weekend lineup 7/11 and 7/12; previews shows next week

By Rich Heldenfels Published: July 2, 2015

Here's the official word:

WKSU is changing its Saturday and Sunday program schedules starting on Saturday, July 11 and Sunday, July 12. The station is adding The Moth Radio Hour and moving Snap Judgment to Saturdays, creating a “storytelling block” with This American Life beginning at noon. Radiolab moves to 3 p.m. An hour dedicated to limited run specials (like last year’s Invisibilia) and hour-long documentaries will air weekly on Saturdays before All Things Considered. Says WKSU Program Director Ele Ellis, “Invisibilia was part of a significant trend in public radio. It is vital for WKSU to have a dedicated time for these exciting and worthwhile programs.” The station’s initial airings in this slot include the investigative documentary series Reveal.


Sundays will now be home to a “food block” with the radio version of America’s Test Kitchen following Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s The Splendid Table at 3 p.m. The Christopher Kimball-hosted ATK will also include a weekly rebroadcast of Vivian Goodman’s Beard Award-finalist Quick Bites segment. Ellis says, “Food – eating, growing and cooking – is something everyone relates to, especially in Northeast Ohio. Being a ‘foodie’ here seems part of the region’s DNA!” To make room for food lovers, the TED Radio Hour now airs at 4 p.m.

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