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Do you "Believe" enough to party? ESPN offers an excuse

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 28, 2016

"Believeland," the documentary about the decades of woes afflicting Cleveland sports fans, is due to air on ESPN on May 14 at 9:30 p.m.. Sounds like a viewing party to us.

Or maybe a viewing wake. In any case, what ideas do you have for a gathering to watch the film? We've been thinking about it since the film premiered at the Cleveland International Film Festival in March. About eats, pre-viewing music, activities and, of course, the best beverages for drowning sorrows. (As if there's enough Bernie Beer to do that.)

What do you have in mind? Email your suggestions to We'll have a roundup in the Beacon Journal on May 8.

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"Fast 8" to shoot in Cleveland -- but don't expect to see stars

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 27, 2016

According to the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, the likely blockbuster will "shoot second unit photography" in this area in May and June. Second unit is as a rule material that does not involve the main actors, for example big action sequences where stunt artists are doing the heavy lifting. So you may not see Diesel but you might see someone dressed up like him. Anyway, here's the official word:

The Greater Cleveland Film Commission (GCFC) is excited to announce that the eighth chapter in the "Fast & Furious" saga, "Fast 8," will shoot second unit photography in Cleveland, Ohio from May until June 2016.

On the heels of the $1.5 billion "Furious 7," Vin Diesel leads the returning cast as Dominic Toretto in the next chapter of one of the most popular and enduring motion-picture serials of all time, which is set to release on April 14, 2017. While the plot of "Fast 8" is still unknown, Neal H. Moritz, Michael Fottrell and Diesel return as producers, and F. Gary Gray ("Straight Outta Compton") comes on board to direct. It was recently announced that Oscar® winner Charlize Theron and Scott Eastwood have joined the returning cast of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, and other members of the Toretto crew from past installments of the "Fast & Furious" franchise.

"We are very excited to welcome "Fast 8" to Cleveland," said GCFC President Ivan Schwarz. "This is yet another example of what an attractive production destination Cleveland has become. We'd like to thank the State of Ohio, the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County for working with us and the production to make this happen."

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Russo brothers set special "Civil War" benefit screening for CWRU

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 26, 2016

The official word: Brothers Joe and Anthony Russo, award-winning film and television directors, will return to Case Western Reserve University on Monday, May 2, for a special advance screening of Marvel Studios' Captain America: Civil War at the Milton and Tamar Maltz Performing Arts Center at The Temple-Tifereth Israel.

The Russo brothers were graduate students at Case Western Reserve when they began directing, writing, and producing their first feature in 1997, financed with student loans and credit cards. Now they are presenting the special screening of the anticipated blockbuster as a fundraiser for Phase Two of the Maltz Performing Arts Center renovation and to raise awareness of the facility locally, nationally and internationally. Marvel's Captain America: Civil War will be shown at 8 p.m.

"We're deeply proud and excited to not only have the chance to showcase our newest film at such an exciting venue, but to also use the opportunity to further promote the Maltz Performing Arts Center and all that it offers the CWRU student body and the city of Cleveland," the Russos said.

While at Case Western Reserve-where Joe earned his Master of Fine Arts and Anthony attended the law school-they also studied film, watching movies at the Cleveland Cinematheque.

The Russos have since received international acclaim for their work on television comedies Arrested Development (for which they received an Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series) and Community, and for suchpopular films asMarvel's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, You, Me, and Dupree and Welcome to Collinwood.

Their latest production, Marvel's Captain America: Civil War, which opens in U.S. theaters on Friday, May 6, is expected to be among the year's biggest box office successes, according to media reports. Cast members include: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle and Jeremy Renner, among others.

The next chapter in Marvel's Captain America saga, which adapts the tale of the comic book Super Hero to the big screen, finds Evans' Steve Rogers leading the newly formed team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. But after another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team.

The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps-one led by Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark's (Downey) decision to support government oversight and accountability.

The Maltz Performing Arts Center, 1855 Ansel Road, Cleveland, is home of the restored Temple-Tifereth Israel in the heart of University Circle. Built in 1924 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Temple's transformation preserves the iconic building and advances the university's strategic emphasis on culture, creativity and design. Its first phase opened last September.

Envisioned for Phase Two is additional renovated space for Case Western Reserve's entire performing arts program, including theater, dance and music. New performance spaces will include a proscenium-style theater and the new black box Fowler-Green Studio Theater for innovative productions and student workshops.

Preliminary plans also include rehearsal studios, practice rooms and costume and scene shops-all with state-of-the-art technology to foster the kind of in-depth learning, creativity, and innovation that will enrich the student learning and experience, and contribute to the university's overall academic environment.

Limited tickets for the premier, reserved online at, are:

$250 (includes reception with the Russo brothers, preferred seating and valet parking);
$100 (includes complimentary parking and preferred seating);
$50 (balcony seating);
$10 (for Case Western Reserve students; includes campus shuttle); students can purchase tickets Wednesday, April 27, from 3 to 8 p.m., at the Information Desk at the Tinkham Veale University Center.

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FX sets return of 2 shows I don't care about

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 20, 2016

The official word: 

FX has set the premiere dates for its summer series Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll and Tyrant, it was announced today by Chuck Saftler, President of Program Strategy and COO, FX Networks.

Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, the comedy created by and starring Denis Leary, will begin its second season on FX on Thursday, June 30 at 10 pm ET/PT. The 10-episode second season stars Leary, John Corbett, Elizabeth Gillies, Elaine Hendrix, Robert Kelly and John Ales. Leary also serves as a writer, composer and Executive Producer along with Jim Serpico. Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll is produced by FX Productions and Fox 21 Television Studios. Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll centers on “Johnny Rock” (Leary), lead singer of a legendary early 90s New York band called The Heathens. Known for living up to their name, the band partied so long and so hard that even Keith Richards thought they needed to slow things down. The Heathens were on the brink of becoming famous for their kickass live shows and the release of their highly anticipated first album. Until they broke up. The same day the album dropped. Because lead guitarist Flash (Corbett) found Johnny in bed with his wife. So the band became legendary for all the wrong reasons - like self-destructing sooner than any group in rock-n-roll history. 25 years later, Johnny’s massively talented daughter Gigi (Gillies) reunites Johnny, Flash, and the rest of their dysfunctional rock and roll family – Ava (Hendrix), Bam Bam (Kelly) and Rehab (Ales) and– to be her new backup band, The Assassins. Together they’ve got another shot at rock glory.

Tyrant, the drama from Emmy® and Golden Globe® Award-winning Executive Producer Howard Gordon, will return to FX for its third season on Wednesday, July 6 at 10 pm ET/PT. Tyrant is the story of an unassuming American family drawn into the inner workings of a turbulent Middle Eastern nation. Bassam “Barry” Al-Fayeed (Adam Rayner), the youngest son of a war-torn country’s controversial dictator, returns to his homeland after a self-imposed 20-year exile in America, only to be forced back into the treacherous familial and national politics of his youth. When his brother, Jamal (Ashraf Barhom), assumes the presidency, Barry hopes to introduce humanitarian freedoms to his homeland. Before long, it becomes clear that Jamal lacks any sense of morality or justice, so Barry colludes with the U.S. government to overthrow him. The plan fails and Barry narrowly escapes execution. Determined to end the corrupt Al-Fayeed rule, Barry, under the alias “Khaled,” joins the insurgency, and quickly becomes a leader, and a symbol of freedom and hope. When the Caliphate targets Abuddin, Barry and Jamal become unlikely allies. They defeat the invaders but just as Jamal prepares to make a triumphant address to his people, he is shot. Jamal’s fate is unclear and the future of Abuddin is once again in Barry’s hands. Tyrant is executive produced by Howard Gordon, Chris Keyser, Gideon Raff and Avi Nir. The series stars Adam Rayner, Jennifer Finnigan, Moran Atias, Ashraf Barhom, Noah Silver, Alexander Karim, Cameron Gharaee, Melia Kreiling and Chris Noth. Tyrant is produced by Fox 21 Television Studios and FX Productions.

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ABC summer plans

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 20, 2016

A long list of what's coming in the months ahead. The network did indeed refer to "sneak peak." And they did not forget "Rookie Blue." It is done. 

ABC’s summer premiere dates are chronologically listed as follows (all times are EDT/PDT):
Thursday, May 26
8:00–10:00 p.m.                      “500 Questions”
Monday, May 30
10:00-11:00 p.m.                     “Mistresses”
Saturday, June 11
9:00–11:00 p.m.                      “O.J.: Made In America – Part 1”
Tuesday, June 14
8:00-9:00pm                            “To Tell the Truth” (Sneak Peak)
9:00-9:30 p.m.                         “Uncle Buck” (New Series Premiere)
9:30-10:00 p.m.                      “Uncle Buck”
10:00–11:00 p.m.                    “To Tell the Truth” (New Series Premiere)
Thursday, June 23
8:00-10:00 p.m.                       “BattleBots”
Sunday, June 26
8:00-9:00 p.m.                         “Celebrity Family Feud”
9:00-10:00 p.m.                       “The $100,000 Pyramid” (New Series Premiere)
Wednesday, July 13
8:00-11:00 p.m.                       “The 2016 ESPYS”
Tuesday, August 2
8:00-10:00 p.m.                       “Bachelor in Paradise”
Wednesday, August 3
8:00-11:00 p.m.                       “CMA Music Festival”
Monday, August 8
8:00-10:00 p.m.                       “Bachelor in Paradise” (Time Period Premiere)
Tuesday, August 9
8:00-9:00 p.m.                         “Bachelor in Paradise”
9:00-10:00 p.m.                       “Bachelor in Paradise: After Paradise”
Following are upcoming summer series descriptions in chronological order (all times EDT/PDT):
Hosted by Dan Harris (ABC’s “Nightline” and weekend edition of “Good Morning America”), “500 Questions” challenges the smartest people in the country to achieve the seemingly impossible task of answering 500 of the most difficult general knowledge questions ever devised. There’s only one simple rule: never get three wrong in a row — or you’re gone. No saves, no helps, no multiple choice, “500 Questions” keeps you on the edge of your seat to see if any of these geniuses can do it. It is the ultimate test, where intellect, strategy and stamina are all equally essential in order to win.
Mark Burnett and Phil Parsons are the executive producers. Ed Egan is the co-executive producer. The show was created by Mike Darnell and Mark Burnett and produced by MGM Television in association with Warner Horizon Television.
Based on the hit UK television series of the same name, “Mistresses” returns for a fourth season. The provocative and thrilling drama continues to focus on the scandalous lives of a sexy and sassy group of girlfriends, each on their own path to self-discovery. When it comes to love, these girlfriends find support and guidance with each other as they push the limits, test their boundaries and discover just how far they are prepared to go. They are willing to brave love’s turbulent journey, as well as its excitement, secrecy and betrayal, all the while bound by the complex relationships they’ve created. Tabrett Bethell joins the cast as Kate along with returning series stars Yunjin Kim as Karen Kim, Rochelle Aytes as April Malloy, Jes Macallan as Josslyn “Joss” Carver, Brett Tucker as Harry Davis, and Rob Mayes as Marc. “Mistresses” is executive produced by Rina Mimoun, KJ Steinberg, Robert Sertner, Douglas Rae and Josh Reims. The series is from ABC Studios.
It is the defining cultural tale of modern America – a saga of race, celebrity, media, violence, and the criminal justice system. And two decades after its unforgettable climax, it continues to fascinate, polarize, and even, yes, develop new chapters. Now, the producers of ESPN’s “30 for 30” have made it the subject of their most ambitious project yet. From Peabody and Emmy-award winning director Ezra Edelman, it’s “O.J.: Made in America,” a seven-hour, 45-minute documentary coming this summer to ABC and ESPN.
Based on the hit movie of the same name, Uncle Buck (Mike Epps) is a charismatic hustler who has gotten by on his charm for years. But when his brother, Will (James Lesure), and sister-in-law, Alexis (Nia Long), move to town and need help with their kids, he steps up to become their “manny,” and their lives will never be the same.  Will and Alexis are wary of Buck’s questionable parenting skills, but his unique perspective and street smarts provide some unconventional solutions to raising their three rambunctious kids, who typically make a hobby out of terrorizing their nannies.
“Uncle Buck” stars Mike Epps as Buck, Nia Long as Alexis, James Lesure as Will, Iman Benson as Tia, Sayeed Shahidi as Miles and Aalyrah Caldwell as Maizy.
Executive producers are Will Packer, Steven Cragg and Brian D. Bradley. Co-executive producers are Korin Huggins, Kenny Smith, Michael Pennie and Franco E. Bario. “Uncle Buck” is produced by Universal Television and ABC Studios.
Hosted by Anthony Anderson, “To Tell the Truth” is an anarchic and funny re-imagination of the beloved, game show of the same name. The all-new version takes the excitement to another level, featuring fun characters from pop culture over the six-episode series.
Anderson presides over four famous faces, including legend Betty White (who has appeared on previous versions of the show), actress NeNe Leakes, NBA star Jalen Rose and a special guest for each episode.  In each round they are presented with three people who all claim to be the same person with the same incredible talent, job or achievement.  One is sworn to tell the truth while the others are not. The panel of celebrities has a chance to grill each participant before taking turns deciding who they think is telling the truth.
“To Tell the Truth” is produced by FremantleMedia North America. Barry Poznick, Toby Gorman, Jeff Gaspin, George Moll and Anthony Anderson are executive producers.
“BattleBots” is a reimagined take on the killer robot combat sport, from Whalerock Industries and the creators of the original “BattleBots” franchise, Ed Roski and Greg Munson. The homemade robots are back for season two, where they will battle against each other in a single elimination tournament until there is one champion. The ten episode series will feature next generation robots – bigger, faster and stronger than ever before. The show will continue to emphasize the design and build elements of each robot, the bot builder backstories, their intense pursuit of the championship and the spectacle of the event. While there’s only one weight class, there are a huge variety of deadly weapons. Forty-eight robots will enter, but in the end, only one will win the final trophy. Executive producers are Lloyd Braun, Chris Cowan, Edward P. Roski (Trey), Greg Munson and Aaron Catling.
The primetime summer hit “Celebrity Family Feud,” a celebrity version of “Family Feud,” returns for a second season. The 10-episode series will feature celebrity families and their immediate family members or their extended TV families, competing against each other to win money for charity.
Hosted by Steve Harvey, the highly popular multi-hyphenate standup comedian, actor, author, deejay and Emmy® Award-winning game show host, “Celebrity Family Feud” pits celebrities and their families against each other in a contest to name the most popular responses to a survey-type question posed to 100 people.
“Celebrity Family Feud” is produced by FremantleMedia North America and is taped in front of a live audience in Los Angeles, California. Gaby Johnston and Jennifer Mullin are executive producers.
The Pyramid is back!  Hosted by Pro Football Hall of Famer and celebrated TV personality Michael Strahan, “The $100,000 Pyramid” features 10 episodes with 100 grand up for grabs each week when some of today’s hottest stars team-up with players from across the country to take on the timeless war of words, racing against the clock to give and guess clues in one of TV’s all-time great word-association games. “The $100,000 Pyramid” is produced by SMAC Entertainment in association with Sony Pictures Television and is taped in front of a live studio audience in New York. Michael Strahan, Constance Schwartz and Vin Rubino are the executive producers.
The 24th annual ESPYS Awards are back on ABC for the second year with a star-studded night celebrating major sports achievements, reliving unforgettable moments and saluting the leading performers and performances of the past year in sports. Top celebrities from sports and entertainment gather to recognize nominees and honor winners in categories such as “Best Team,” “Best Moment,” “Best Breakthrough Athlete” and more. The ESPYS showcase inspiring human stories that transcend sports through three pillar awards – the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, the Jimmy V Perseverance Award and the Pat Tillman Award for Service.
The much anticipated third season of the hit series “Bachelor in Paradise” returns with all the shocking twists, surprises, unexpected guests and some of the most unlikely relationships in “Bachelor” history that viewers have come to expect. The cast, comprised of former fan favorites and controversial characters from “The Bachelor” franchise, is back looking for a second chance at love. They all left “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette” with broken hearts, but now they’ll travel to a romantic paradise, hoping to turn a potential summer fling into the real thing. We’ll follow these former bachelors and bachelorettes as they explore new relationships while living together in a secluded and dreamy paradise. America will watch as they fall in love or go through renewed heartbreak. Chris Harrison hosts.
“Bachelor in Paradise” is produced by Next Entertainment in association with Warner Horizon Television.  Mike Fleiss, Elan Gale, Peter J. Scalettar and Nicole Woods are executive producers.
The CMA Music Festival will host country music superstars Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Brett Eldredge, Florida Georgia Line, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Thomas Rhett, Rascal Flatts, Chris Stapleton, Blake Shelton, Cole Swindell, Steven Tyler, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Hank Williams, Jr., and Chris Young. This is the 13th consecutive year the event has been filmed for a network television special, a feat no other music festival has achieved. “CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock” will be executive produced by Robert Deaton.
“After Paradise” features host Chris Harrison discussing and dissecting the most recent episodes of “Bachelor in Paradise,” alongside cast members and celebrity fans. The man who has seen it all as the host of “The Bachelor” franchise since the first rose ceremony took place over 13 years ago, Harrison presents questions and comments from viewers, debuts deleted scenes, outtakes and exclusive extra content, all the while allowing members of #BachelorNation to have their say.
“Bachelor Live” is executive produced by Mike Fleiss for Next Entertainment in association with Warner Horizon Television, and Michael Davies, Jen Patton and Elan Gale for Embassy Row.

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Put down that beach ball: A list of banned items at the Cleveland GOP convention

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 19, 2016

From the media guide.

Prohibited items within the Quicken Loans Arena and the FirstMerit Convention Center of Cleveland include, but are not limited to the following:

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"Daily Show" coming to Cleveland, Philadelphia for conventions; tickets already sold out

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 14, 2016

Yes,tickets were gone in a  blink. Here, at least, is what Comedy Central has to say about the shows: 

“The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” is primed and ready to hit the road to cover the 2016 Republican and Democratic National Conventions, producing a special week of shows in each city. “The Daily Show’s” coverage of the 2016 RNC will be telecast from The Breen Center for the Performing Arts in Cleveland from Tuesday, July 19 through Friday, July 22 with coverage of the 2016 DNC telecast from the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia from Tuesday, July 26 through Friday, July 29. The two-week special convention coverage is scheduled to premiere nightly at 11:00 p.m. ET/PT on Comedy Central.

“As someone who knows almost nothing about how American politics works, I look forward to spending two weeks with people just like me,” said Trevor Noah.

Tickets for the tapings are free and only available through dedicated “Daily Show” convention ticket websites and not through the host venues. Tapings in Cleveland will take place from July 19-22 at The Breen Center for the Performing Arts located at 2008 West 30th Street and can be requested via Tapings in Philadelphia will take place from July 26-29 at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania which is located at 3680 Walnut Street and can be requested via

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ABC season-finale and sweeps series plans

By Rich Heldenfels Published: April 5, 2016

The complete official word:

8:00-9:00 p.m. GREY’S ANATOMY – “You’re Gonna Need Someone on Your Side” – Stephanie struggles with boundaries while Callie and Arizona ask their friends for support during a difficult situation.

9:00-10:00 p.m. SCANDAL – “Buckle Up” – As Mellie, Susan and Hollis prepare to meet with Florida’s governor and vie for her influential endorsement, a spin war between Abby and Olivia threatens to keep their candidates grounded. Meanwhile, Cyrus is faced with a decision that could dramatically alter his future. Guest stars include Artemis Pebdani as Susan Ross and Gregg Henry as Hollis Doyle.

9:00-10:01 p.m. SHARK TANK – “Episode 724” – It’s a battle of the billionaires when
two Sharks fight over an entrepreneur’s all-in-one solution to early
education. Silicon Valley billionaire Chris Sacca returns as a guest

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NBC slates live production of "A Few Good Men" for 2017

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 30, 2016

My potential cast: Chadwick Boseman as Kaffee, Wendell Pierce or Lance Reddick as Jessup. The official word: 

Emmy and Academy Award winner Aaron Sorkin, the creator and mastermind behind the beloved NBC drama “The West Wing,” is returning to the network with a live presentation of “A Few Good Men,” set to air in early 2017.

Setting a high mark in his professional debut, Sorkin wrote “A Few Good Men,” which premiered on Broadway in 1989 at the Music Box Theatre to critical acclaim. Three years later he adapted the play as a feature film that went on to receive an Oscar nomination for best picture.

“I am thrilled that Aaron Sorkin is coming back to NBC to adapt and produce a live broadcast of his electrifying play ‘A Few Good Men,’ which seems as timely as ever today,” said Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment. “Aaron is one of the most acclaimed theater, television and film authors of our time, and I am pleased that the live event business that we pioneered with musicals is now expanding into other genres and attracting artists of his caliber. I look forward to his collaboration with our ‘A-team’ producers, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, to bring another exciting piece of live drama to a broad audience.”

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Canton Film Festival announces lineup

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 29, 2016, in association with the Canton Palace Theatre, will host the 2016 Canton Film Festival in downtown Canton on April 21, 22 and 23, 2016. During this three-day film forward event, the public will get the chance to screen the short films of independent directors from Canton, North East Ohio and all across the country.

Tickets are just $5 per day. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling the Palace Box Office at 330.454.8172 Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm. 

The official 2016 Canton Film Festival schedule is as follows:

Thursday, April 21, 2016 

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