Keegan Allen shows the mythical magic and dark dreams of “Hollywood”

Marilyn Monroe said it best: “Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul. I know, because I turned down the first offer often enough and held out for the fifty cents.”

Keegan Allen shows it best with his lavish tome Hollywood: Photos and Stories from Foreverland (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99). Allen, an actor; photographer; bestselling author and musician best-known from the No. 1 hit show on Freeform, Pretty Little Liars; reveals the Hollywood we see—and the one we don’t—with a photography narrative featuring more than 250 emotionally charged color and black and white photos. No wonder his first book, life.love.beauty, was a national bestseller.Image result for keegan allen

The Hollywood native grew up in a world that millions
visit and many more imagine. In his new book he turns his eye and camera to the place he knows best. Hollywood captures the beauty
and glamour of the place itself—with unusual angles of the famous sign, the Chateau Marmont at twilight, secret local hideaways, red carpets and more—but also the darker side of dreams unrealized in the faces, hands, eyes and footsteps of those who live on the fringe of celebrity. His photos are enhanced by revealing, intimate captions, lyrics, and other writing, as well as exciting parodies, and iconic emulations.

A book that will engage and surprise Keegan’s legions of fans and followers, Hollywood is an essential gift for anyone who has visited or imagined this storied place

Perlman, Shatner and Hough . . . oh my! Journey with the family with “Steam Engines of Oz”

Ever since Judy’s Dorothy found herself on the Yellow Brick Road in 1939, there have been countless adaptations of the treasured film. Perhaps too many.

But on June 5, Cinedigm will unveil an imaginative new take on the classic Oz mythology with The Steam Engines of Oz,  based on the graphic novel of the same name by Arcana Studio. Think of this flick as a thrilling animated adventure with a modern steampunk twist. Featuring the voice talents of Ron Perlman, William Shatner and Julianne Hough, it’s a journey perfect for the whole family, and it steams onto shelves in a Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack, and will also be available via Digital through all leading platforms and VOD.

Set a century after Dorothy first clicked her ruby slippers together, the Emerald City is no longer a magical land but a toxic, heavily industrialized wasteland ruled by the iron fist of the once beloved hero, the Tin Man, who has seemingly lost all heart.  Oz’s only hope rests with a young engineer named Victoria Wright, who assembles a motley crew of  ill-mannered munchkins, mischievous flying monkeys and, of course, the not-so-Cowardly Lion and Scarecrow for a quest to find the tin man’s heart.

Along their journey, they ultimately learn that friendship and determination can overcome any obstacle, and together end, up teaching everyone in Oz that a heart should not be judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.

 

UMA THURMAN AND TIM ROTH DO THEIR BEST TO MAKE SURE “THE CON IS ON”

When those dog days of July come a-sweatin’, we reach for a cool and hilarious comedy caper. We cannot wait for The Con is On, arriving on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital July 24 from Lionsgate. The film is currently available On Demand.

This bold and cheeky film stars Oscar nominees Uma Thurman and Tim Roth as Harriet and Peter, a con-artist couple cooking up a jewel-theft scam in L.A. to pay off sexy-but-deadly gangster Irina (played by Maggie Q). Having squandered Irina’s loot one drunken night, Harriet and Peter escape to Hollywood, where they plot to steal a priceless jewel from Peter’s loopy ex-wife (Alice Eve) to repay the debt. The dazzling cast also includes Parker Posey and Sofia Vergara.

The fun is from the award-winning producer of Lee Daniels’ The Butler and Wild Card.

Andrew Lloyd Webber becomes “Unmasked,” dropping names and sharing tales both serious and snarky

“I have long resisted writing an autobiography,” coos Andrew Lloyd Webber. “Autobiographies are by definition self-serving and mine is no exception. It is the result of my nearest and dearest, moaning at me ‘to tell your story your way.’ I meekly agreed, primarily to shut them up. Consequently this tome is not my fault. I intended to write my memoirs in one volume and I have failed spectacularly. Quite how I have been able to be so verbose about the most boring person I have ever written about eludes me.”

Published to coincide with his 70th birthday (on March 22), Unmasked: A Memoir (Harper, $28.99) is a candid memoir by the legendary composer,  recounts his fascinating life and remarkable career.

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Norma Desmond would say it was “big.” Like her pictures.

A natural storyteller, with his signature humor and self-deprecating tone, Webber shares the details of his early personal and professional years, including his early artistic influences. In the book, Webber takes stock of his achievements, the twists of fate and circumstance which brought him both success and disappointment, and the passions that inspire and sustain him.

A record of several exciting and turbulent decades of British and American musical theater and the transformation of popular music itself, Unmaked is ultimately a chronicle of artistic creation. Lloyd Webber looks back at the development of some of his most famous works and illuminates his collaborations with luminaries such as Tim Rice, Robert Stigwood, Harold Prince, Cameron Mackintosh and Trevor Nunn. Taking us behind the scenes of his productions, Lloyd Webber reveals fascinating details about each show, including the rich cast of characters involved with making them, and the creative and logistical challenges and artistic political battles that ensued.

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Reflecting a life that included many passions (from architecture to Turkish Van swimming cats), full of witty and revealing anecdotes, and featuring cameo appearances by numerous celebrities–Elaine Paige, Sarah Brightman, David Frost, Judi Dench, A.R. Rahman, Mandy Patinkin, Richard Rodgers, Placido Domingo, Barbra Streisand, Michael Crawford, Betty Buckley–Unmasked at last reveals the true face of the extraordinary man beneath the storied legend. Make sure you check out the snarky Liza Minnelli “stories.”

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Full of colorful characters, rich storytelling and illustrated with 16 pages of color photos, Unmaksed provides unique insight into the life of the man who has entertained millions of audiences around the world with his music.

Bill Nye closes on window and opens so many more . . . and each one is majorly important

Bill Nye is on a mission to stop the spread of anti-scientific thought and action. Once the host of a popular kids’ show and now the CEO of the Planetary Society, he’s leading a mission to launch LightSail, a satellite propelled by sunlight, while in turn fulfilling the legacy of his late professor and Planetary Society co-founder Carl Sagan.

With intimate and exclusive access, as well as plenty of wonder and whimsy, POV: Bill Nye: Science Guy (PBS Distribution)  is a behind-the-scenes portrait of the “Science Guy,” who continues to inspire millennials to participate in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). In addition to Nye, the film features Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ann Druyan and many other notable voices in the field.

In addition to taking off his signature “Science Guy” lab coat, Nye has started taking on those who deny the importance of science, from prominent creationist Ken Ham to climate change skeptic, meteorologist and occasional Fox News commentator Joe Bastardi. Nye goes head-to-head to advocate for the scientific community and its invaluable findings.

And Nye acknowledges that he’s ready for a new challenge. “The Science Guy show is over, and I’ve got to move on to something bigger,” he says. “We have this increasing anti-science movement in the United States. It’s worse than ever. The anti-science movement is more powerful than it’s ever been.”

Accordingly, in his role as CEO of the Planetary Society, Nye and his team are working toward the first-ever successful launch and flight of a solar sailing satellite propelled by sunlight in space. “When I was in class 40 years ago, Carl Sagan talked about a solar sail mission, but it never happened. So, this is realizing a 40-year-old dream of building a spacecraft that could fly in space propelled just by light. So, Professor Sagan, this one’s for you,” Nye says as the satellite is being tested for the first time.

But Nye’s focus never strays far from what initially propelled him to fame: education. “If we raise a generation of kids that can’t think critically, can’t think scientifically, we are headed for trouble,” he warns. “As a science educator, I am really more serious about it than ever. These people who are denying science, denying evolution, denying the efficacy of vaccinations and especially denying human-caused climate change—we just can’t have this. We’ve got to fight this fight. I’ve got to fight this fight.”

Nye’s mission is driven in part by anxiety about what future generations may face. Sitting on climate change denier Joe Bastardi’s porch, Nye implores, “What if you’re wrong? What about Garrett?” Garrett is Bastardi’s college-age son, who is following in his father’s footsteps by studying meteorology and also shares his father’s skepticism about climate change.

Another flashpoint in the film comes when Nye is touring the Creation Museum founded by Christian fundamentalist Ken Ham. The museum features displays suggesting that humans lived alongside dinosaurs and that the earth is 6,000 years old. Nye finds it alarming. He points out, “Humans and ancient dinosaurs did not live at the same time. The evidence for that is overwhelming, and to suggest this to school-children is irresponsible at best. It’s reprehensible at worst.”

Nonetheless, Nye is not without his own critics. Even some in the scientific community feel there have been times when Nye’s mission has taken a back seat to his ego. Some say that by agreeing to a televised debate with Ham about our evolutionary origins, Nye gave Ham undeserved media attention. “Nye’s mistake was giving credibility to Ken Ham by giving him a public platform. Everything I’ve seen about Nye is that he really misses being the Science Guy because he was much beloved and very popular. It’s hard to give up celebrity,” says evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne.

The program also illuminates Nye’s private life. He remains close to his two siblings, who are struggling with a hereditary neurological disorder that Nye doesn’t have. Numerous friends, both from his childhood and from his Science Guy days, speak to his quirks and ambitions. Nye even opens up about his romantic life.

Ultimately, the Science Guy and Nye are indistinguishable from each other. “Bill has always wanted to be famous,” one of his longtime friends says. Expertly chronicling the TV character and the very real human subject behind him, Bill Nye: Science Guy presents an absorbing, charming portrait of a man and his not-so-modest mission to educate and change the world.

The real royal marriage mess? King Edward VIII and his lover, American Wallis Simpson

Forget this upcoming royal marriage. The real gossipy, juicy royal mess happened on the weekend of December 5, 1936. A frazzled King Edward VIII sat alone at Buckingham Palace; in secret, he telephoned his brother Bertie to tell him of his major decision–that he could no longer be King if it meant abandoning the woman he loved, Wallis Simpson. But little did the royal brothers know that others were listening to their call.

Spying on the Royals (Public Media Distribution) shares declassified documents bring to light the secret story behind the events that stunned the world eighty years ago, detailing the most controversial espionage operation in British history. The targets were none other than King Edward VIII and his feisty American lover Wallis Simpson.

Image result for photos King Edward VIII and his feisty American lover Wallis Simpson.

Both were considered major security threats and were suspected of having Nazi sympathies by both Britain and America. This top-secret surveillance operation involved hundreds of spies over eleven years, spanning two continents, eight countries, and the Atlantic Ocean. Edward and Wallis were bugged, wire-tapped, and followed – on the orders of both the British prime minister and the American president. This documentary will reveal the greatest royal scandal of the twentieth century through an entirely new perspective.

Ashley Judd, Dennis Haysbert and Trace Adkins head the superb “Civil War 360”

A power film. An unforgettable war. The acclaimed Smithsonian Channel three-part miniseries Civil War 360 (Public Media Distribution) explores one of the most divisive eras in American history from multiple perspectives. Celebrity hosts Ashley Judd, Trace Adkins and Dennis Haysbert each helm an hour-long program that takes viewers back to a time when their ancestors and those of many viewers were involved in the conflict. Through exploration of iconic and often poignant Smithsonian artifacts, the hosts gain insight into their own family’s experiences and uncover new dimensions of our nation’s history.

Here’s some insights into each episode: 

Fight for Freedom
In some ways, the story that Haysbert tells is perhaps the least known of all, but it is an agonizing and heroic account of a great struggle for freedom. Haysbert experiences painful reminders of this struggle firsthand as he encounters Smithsonian treasures: a ship’s manifest listing a cargo of slaves, the inkwell Lincoln used to write the Emancipation Proclamation, and a hymnal owned by Harriet Tubman.  As Haysbert traces his ancestry back to enslaved people in America’s deep South, we are transported back to the brutal and complicated time when those with the most to gain also had the most to lose.  For Haysbert the lesser known stories, especially of individual courage, are the most inspiring, “So many people stood up and fought together to make this country a free country. It just gave me a different perspective on what our country is about and what we can be.”

The Confederacy
Hosted by dkins, this program begins back in 1861, when the South made the radical decision to leave the Union and form a new nation.  While honoring the experiences of everyday soldiers like his great-great grandfather, a Confederate infantryman from Louisiana, Adkins explores music, art, and firearm collections at the Smithsonian Institution. Says Adkins: “I’ve had a real personal connection with the Civil War ever since I was a kid. This is our last best chance to raise awareness. The battlefields, the guns, the pikes, the uniforms and flags–all these things are all that we have left from that pivotal period in this nation’s history.  They should be treated as treasures, and we should try to preserve them and save them for future generations. Because it’s impossible to know who you are if you don’t know your history, or where you’ve come from, or what you’ve done.”

The Union
It’s common knowledge who won the Civil War. But 150 years ago, a Union victory was anything but guaranteed. Judd seeks to understand the experiences of two of her great-great-great grandfathers, both Union soldiers from Kentucky. In the program Judd remarks: “I hope it inspires people to take a look at their own family history, and learn the interesting stories that can help enlighten them as well as move their hearts.”  Judd is visibly moved when she examines field surgical instruments, a Union private’s letter home about life in Kentucky, and battered dishes from Libby Prison- all providing glimpses of daily life during the grinding war.

A celebration of three real stories: “”True Grit,” “Braveheart,” “Live Free or Die Hard”

They’ve thrilled us, horrified us, and devastated us. They’ve raised questions about our past and given us hope for a brighter future. They are some of Hollywood’s biggest hits, all works of fiction, but all inspired by real events more dramatic than anything a screenwriter could dream up. Smithsonian Channel goes behind the scenes of Hollywood blockbusters to uncover the actual characters and true stories that inspired some of the world’s most famous films. On June 5, Public Media Distribution released a trio of three DVDs that tell the real stories.

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John Wayne in “True Grit”

The Real Story: True Grit
True Grit has the foundation of a typical Western–revenge, retribution and redemption. The story centers on the unlikely partnership between a 14 year-old girl and a one-eyed Deputy Marshal, who join forces to avenge her father’s death. The story may be fiction, but it’s closer to truth than many imagine. This program shows how the character of Rooster was inspired by a gun-toting Deputy Marshal; introduces “Hanging Judge” Parker, who delighted in sending legions of men to the gallows; and leaves the viewer with no illusions about what really happened in the Wild West.

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Mel Gibson in “Braveheart”

The Real Story: Braveheart
Mel Gibson’s Oscar-winning box office smash tells the story of real-life Scottish rebel and freedom fighter William Wallace. The savage battle scenes and cast of thousands created a film of epic proportion, but ever since it was first shown historians have challenged the accuracy of the movie. Did William Wallace really live the life that “Braveheart” depicts? This program draws on medieval accounts and uses forensic evidence and weapons testing to build a picture of the real man and his times.

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Bruce Willis is “Live Free or Die Hard”

The Real Story: Live Free or Die Hard
In the fourth film in the Die Hard franchise, New York cop John McClane takes on a sophisticated cyber-criminal mastermind who shuts down the USA remotely via the Internet. It’s a story that is chillingly topical. This program shows how a similar cyber-attack could be a real possibility. Featuring interviews with real-life cyber-criminals, FBI investigators and computer specialists, the program uncovers the shadowy world of hacking on a scale that could shutdown entire countries. Meet the government officials and former hackers who are tasked with ensuring it never does.

Just what the doctor ordered: ” Who-ology: The Official Miscellany”

Who  thinks they know everything about Dr. Who? You think you do? Harper Design has just what the doctor ordered: Who-ology: The Official Miscellany ($19.99).

How many planets has the TARDIS visited?

What’s the best way to defeat a Sontaran?

Doctor Who: Who-ology Regenerated Edition: The Official Miscellany by [Scott, Cavan, Wright, Mark]Who are the members of the Doctor’s family?

What are the 20 best ways to defeat a Dalek?

What are the galactic coordinates of Gallifrey?

And you thought you knew all the answers?

Packed with amazing facts, figures and stories, Who-ology is an unforgettable journey through 55 years of Doctor Who. Test your knowledge of the last Time Lord and the worlds he’s visited, from Totters Lane to Trenzalore. Get lost in guides to UNIT call signs, the inner workings of sonic screwdrivers and a complete list of Doctor Who monsters and their creators. Who-ology is an utterly unique tour of space and time.

This revised and expanded edition features new material and covers Matt Smith’s final season, all three seasons of the Peter Capaldi era as well as the 2017 Christmas special introducing the first female Doctor played by Jodie Whittaker.

 

The four-disc “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame” Blu-ray/DVD is a must-have for every music lover

“Watch out for the music. It should come with a health warning:
It can and should make you think the world can be a better place.”
— Peter Gabriel
Each year, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honors rock music’s pioneering figures during a prestigious, black-tie ceremony. As the Hall of Fame enters its third decade, it’s these singular induction ceremonies- featuring the biggest names in classic rock from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s–that have become nearly as iconic as the artists they celebrate. On April 24, Time Life and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame give home audiences front row seats to the four most recent incredible induction ceremonies with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: In Concert.
 
Never before available at retail on any format, these four memorable live concert events are filled with the kind of collaborations and jam sessions that have made Rock Hall concerts legendary. With egos set aside–in many cases original band lineups perform together for the first time in years–inductees and friends take the stage to deliver once-in-a-lifetime performances, often with a truly mind-blowing combination of talent.
“From the first induction ceremony in 1986, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has sought to honor the top names in all genres of rock ‘n’ roll,” says Joel Peresman, President of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. “These ceremonies have provided unique once-in-a-lifetime moments as the inductees and presenters come together to celebrate the legacy of these artists and it’s a privilege to produce this important part of music history and to share it with you!”
This four-disc set –a must-have for every music lover–features poignant reunions, moving and often hilarious induction speeches, and 53 iconic performances.
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Cat Stevens (Yusuf) at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on April 10, 2014 in New York City.(
Among the unforgettable highlights on the DVD and Blu-ray sets:
  • Bruce Springsteen joining inductees E Street Band for the deep cut classic “E Street Shuffle” from the Boss’s second album, from 1973.
  • Legendary grunge-rock group Pearl Jam delivering thundering performances of “Alive,” “Given to Fly” and “Better Man.”
  • The two surviving members of Nirvana joined on stage by Lorde, Annie Clark, Kim Gordon and Joan Jett for emotional renderings of the group’s biggest hits.
  • Cat Stevens performing a spine-tingling version of “Father & Son” that turned the massive Barclay Center quiet as a church.
  • Journey performs three classics: “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart),” “Lights” and “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
  • Ringo Starr being welcomed into the Rock Hall with a little help from Paul McCartney.
  • Original Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos joining the band for the first time in 6 years tearing through their early hits including “Surrender” and “Dream Police.”
  • Five of the original members of Chicago performing on stage for the first time in 25 years.
  • Features complete Hall of Fame Induction speeches including Coldplay’s Chris Martin inducting Peter Gabriel and Metallica’s Lars Ulrich inducting Deep Purple. 
Proof that music remains the soundtrack to all lives.

Petrucelli Picks the best in books, music and film . . . and then some