Northeast Ohio, as you all know, is the center of the television universe. After all, didn’t the first-season finale of Bates Motel reveal that Norman Bates’ mother came from Akron?

The center is especially obvious when you look at reality TV. Former Clevelander Steve Harvey, for one, has seen his daytime talk show picked up for a second season. Former Clevelander (and Kent State graduate) Arsenio Hall is going back into the late-night talk wars this fall — after getting new attention for a Celebrity Apprentice win in 2012. But it’s not just about the stars; look at the regular folks who have recently jumped into shows.

As I have mentioned in recent stories, Kent State graduate and former Green resident McKenzie Jackson is competing on the Golf Channel’s Big Break Mexico (and managed to avoid elimination again on the third episode). Three men with Northeast Ohio ties — Chris Cerino, Gary Quesenberry and Brian Zins — not only competed on History’s Top Shot All-Stars but also survived the first telecast’s competitions. Quesenberry had to win a show-ending challenge to stay in the game, but he did so.

Nor does it end there. DezJuan Wrinch of Akron will be seen in a June 7 installment of Bridezillas on WE tv. The Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum series has been working with the University of Akron’s Center for the History of Psychology on a piece about the notorious “shock box,” which the center has. That was the device psychology professor Stanley Milgram devised to test how willing people were to harm others when told to do so. Canton dance-studio operator Cathy Nesbitt-Stein is famous to the viewers of Lifetime’s Dance Moms. And West Salem’s family-run Cutter Oil Co. will be the subject of Discovery series Blood and Oil premiering on June 18.

As reality participants have told me again and again over the years, TV appearances provide a career and business boost, whether through the prizes and paydays or the publicity. So you have people lining up for these gigs, or going back for more. All the Top Shot all-stars have been on earlier seasons of the show.

And Cleveland fashion designer Valerie Mayen, who appeared on the eighth season of Project Runway, is currently one of three designers seeking “runway redemption” by returning to the series for its 12th season later this year. You can vote for Mayen by going to the show’s website,, and clicking on “runway redemption.” Voting ends Monday.

Not that getting on a show guarantees a big win. Ravenna’s Jenn Thomas-Pallotta was among the early contenders on Fox’s MasterChef but did not make it to the next round.

Viewing File. AMC’s The Killing will present a two-hour premiere of its third season at 8 p.m. Sunday, and hope to regain some of the good will that greeted the show when it began.

As you may recall, the series set out to be a serialized examination of a murder mystery, only to infuriate viewers who had patiently endured some draggy stretches — only to see that the first-season finale did not resolve the mystery. It was cleared up in the second season, but only after dragging even more. AMC at first canceled the series, then agreed to a third season after some deep deal-making with the production company, Fox Television.

So now the show is back — picking up a year after the end of the second season. Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) is no longer a police detective. Her old partner Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) has stayed in law enforcement, and is on the rise in the Seattle police department. But one of Holder’s investigations has him turning to Linden for help. And the case itself takes a chilling turn by the end of the first two hours.

Of course, it takes two hours to get to a point that advertising for the show has given away. And as was the case in the past, The Killing is very slow getting to the point. Linden and Holder remain intriguing characters, and Enos brings a deep current of tragedy to her performance. At the same time, though, the dialogue can ring hollow and the plotting seem mundane. As good as Peter Sarsgaard is at playing a death-row inmate, the creepy-cunning guy in a cell is a pretty tired conceit; Star Trek Into Darkness made use of it, and Body of Proof also went to that well for its season finale.

I like the mood of the show, but not enough to keep from thinking, “Would you get on with it?”

Finally … American Idol is over but Malcolm X Abram and I are still talking online. Check (or my HeldenFiles Online blog) for chats about pop-culture subjects. First up: Are people really too lazy to make microwave popcorn?

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and, including the HeldenFiles Online blog, He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or