All posts by alanwp

Tom Hiddleston is swift as he swears that “The Night Manager” was “one of the most challenging and fulfilling experiences I’ve had as an actor”

Watching a film in its uncensored form is usually an important event. Witness Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie in The Night Manager.  Fans can bring home the original uncensored version now that the series has come to Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The intense spy thriller originally aired on the BBC, and has received four Emmy nominations–Limited Series, Best Actor (Hiddleston), Best Supporting Actor (Laurie) and Best Supporting Actress (Olivia Colman).20150610_amc_nightmanager_2709_press-kit-800x600

The Night Manager, directed by Oscar-winner Susanne Bier (Best Foreign Language Film, In A Better World; 2011) is the first television adaptation of a le Carré novel in more than 20 years and brings together love, loss and revenge in a complex story of modern criminality. The stunning six part series follows former British soldier Jonathan Pine (Hiddleston) who is recruited by intelligence operative Angela Burr (Colman) to infiltrate the inner circle of international businessman Richard Onslow Roper (Laurie). To get to the heart of Roper’s vast empire, Pine must withstand the suspicious interrogations of his venal chief of staff Major Corkoran (Tom Hollander) and the allure of his beautiful girlfriend Jed (Elizabeth Debicki). In his quest to do the right thing, he must first become a criminal himself.

We wondered how Hiddleston heard the news of his Emmy nomination. ” I didn’t have any expectations, and suddenly my phone started blowing up a couple hours ago,” he recalls. “This is the most wonderful surprise, and honestly the most thrilling thing about it is that it feels like an extraordinary and heartwarming affirmation for the whole team who made The Night Manager. Making The Night Manager was the most fulfilling team effort, and I’m so proud of everybody.”

Pause. “It’s very special because I so enjoyed playing Jonathan Pine,” he adds. “The Night Manager was one of the most challenging and fulfilling experiences I’ve had as an actor. He’s such a complex character—a highly skilled, impeccably courteous, morally courageous, romantic character with a kind of broken heart. I loved playing him. The playing of him was complex in lots of ways in that over the course of the six episodes of the miniseries, the character is called by four different names with four different passports.”

Notice we didn’t ask about Taylor Swift.

 

 

Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs may well be the Lucy and Ethel of the naughts

 

It’s broken, and we pray no one fixes it. The hysterical series 2 Broke Girls is not only longer funny, but it’s been nominated for nine Emmys. Not bad for a series about to begin its sixth season.

Can’t wait for new shows? Go back and laugh. Again. Start banking those laughs as Warner Bros. Home Entertainment brings 2 Broke Girls: The Complete Fifth Season to DVD on September 20.  The set will include all 22 half-hour episodes from the fifth season and unaired deleted scenes.  Warning! You may want to stock some adult diapers from the gag reel. Rosemary Markson, WBHE Senior Vice President, TV Marketing, agrees: “2 Broke Girls delivers one-liners that are worth a million bucks.”img-allshows-2brokegirls-s3-2

In season five, street-wise Max (a funny Kat Dennings) and Caroline  (a funnier Beth Behrs) continue to wait tables at the diner while trying to build their new business—a dessert bar! Caroline goes to Hollywood to meet with studio executives to discuss the idea of making her riches-to-rags life story into a movie. Max tags along and meets Randy (guest star Ed Quinn) — who becomes her new beau . . . but will it last outside Hollywood? Sophie and Oleg are expecting, and pregnancy can’t slow these two lovebirds down. Han finds himself in trouble when he can’t repay his debt from gambling on women’s tennis, but the diner gang rallies together to help him. Earl gets his feelings crushed when he discovers his old jazz band is having a reunion and he is not invited to play—it’s up to Max and the diner gang to make it happen.

Adds Markson: “With the combination of the brilliant writing that is legitimately hilarious and edgy, and TV’s favorite leading ladies, this series is sure to have you laughing over and over again!”

 

Start your gift list now: PBS Distribution offers DVD box sets of complete “Mr. Selfridge” and “Inspector lewis”

We know, dear readers, that you are all waiting for our Annual Gift Guide . . . this years marks the 26th Annual Gift Guide.  There are still several away from publications, but we tease you with hot DVD box sets news from PBS Distribution. Coming date October 18: Masterpiece: Mr. Selfridge: The Complete Series. Re-live all of the dramatic moments of “Mile a Minute Harry,” the character that Jeremy Piven states was one of his favorites to play, in this beautiful 12-disc box set.

jeremy_piven_gets_ready_to_bid_farewell_to_mr_selfridge
Jeremy Piven gets ready to bid farewell to Mr. Selfridge

Created by Emmy Award-winning writer Andrew Davies, Mr. Selfridge brings to life the story of American entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge, the colorful and visionary founder of Selfridges, London’s lavish department store. Pioneering, reckless, and with an abundance of charm, Harry Selfridge created a theater of retail for early 1900s Londoners, where the latest topics or trends were showcased and traditions were challenged.

Throughout the years the series has received critical acclaim. “A treasure box of tales about love, loss, ambition, and the spirit of a new age,” enthused The Wall Street Journal during Season 1; “lush and lovely,” murmured the Los Angeles Times about Season 2; “visually glorious,” gushed the New York Daily News for Season 3.

Starring three-time Emmy-winning actor Jeremy Piven as the great Harry Selfridge, the brilliant ensemble cast features Amanda Abbington, Tom Goodman-Hill, Katherine Kelly and Frances O’Connor.

6c91d4cc895364b03de4908eeb998789
Laurence Fox & Kevin Whately clowning around after read-through of Lewis script for series 9.

Also from PBS Distribution on October 18: All eight seasons of the long-running and critically acclaimed mystery series Inspector Lewis with  “Masterpiece: Inspector Lewis: The Complete Series.

Inspector Robert Lewis (Kevin Whately) steps out of the shadow of his mentor–the inimitable Inspector Morse–in this highly-acclaimed series of intricate mysteries. Together with his brooding, inscrutable partner, Detective Sergeant James Hathaway (Laurence Fox), they take on the elite criminal underworld of Oxford, England, relying on Lewis’ instinct and Hathaway’s intellect to see past appearances and into the hearts of their upper-crust foes. Catch all 33 beguiling mysteries from the pilot to the series finale in this 18-disc set.

 

 

Mike and Dave post a Craigslist ad . . . they need wedding dates and get much more

It really started with an ad on Craigslist. Really.  The ad went up at 9:13 a.m. on February 13, 2013. It read:

TWO MEN NEED WEDDING DATES
My brother and I are looking for wedding dates. We’ve been told by the bride that bringing dates is “mandatory” so we “won’t harass all of my friends all night” and “stay under control.” Rather than ask some fringe women in our lives to go and face the inevitable ‘does this mean he wants to take it to the next level!?’ questions, we’d rather bring complete strangers and just figure it out. Still reading? In anticipation of your questions we’ve developed an FAQ section below. Dave, Mike

What’s in it for me? • An excuse to get dressed up • Open bar & food all night • Eccentric/downright dangerous bro-2-bro dance moves (may need to sign a waiver) • Adventure • Mystery • Suspense • True Love • Royalties once our night’s story is developed into a romantic comedy* *if this happens (we estimate the chances at 85%) we refuse the right to let Ashton Kutcher play either of our characters, however, we will consider him for a supporting role.

_mike_and_dave_stangle_from_the_premiere_last_night_split_with_a_pic_of_zac_efron_and_adam_devine
The real Mike and Dave (left) and the big-screen impersonators

SO – What are you fellas like, anyway? Oh us? We’re both in our 20s, single, dashingly tall, Anglo-Saxon, respectfully athletic, love to party, completely house trained, relaxed, passionate, smell great, have cool hair, clean up nice, boast great tie collections, will promise to shave, love our mother, have seen Love Actually several times, controversial, provocative, short-sighted (with a big picture mentality), raw, emotional, sensitive but still bad boys. What should us ladies be like? You should respond in pairs as you’ll want to know at least 1 person at this wedding. Sisters (twins?!) are preferable, but we’ll take friends, or even enemies. You should be attractive or our aunts will judge you, but not TOO attractive or one of our uncles might grope you. You should be relaxed and easy going as we’ll probably make up flattering lies about you on the spot. You should own a dress, or be able to acquire one because we don’t have any. If (when) you respond you should send some pictures of yourself so we know you’ve met the above requirements. Feel free to include a resume; this is a classy wedding and we’re looking for well-rounded women. Interesting/unique pairings are encouraged; don’t be afraid to make yourself stand out! This feels kinda creepy, are you guys Craigslist killers? 3 No. Well, if you want to be techni.. nevermind. No, we aren’t. We just genuinely want to do something different and we don’t see any other way to approach it. What would verify our normalness? Facebook? Instagram? We can have a pre-date screening (interview) prior to the wedding and play 20 questions over a coupla cocktails if you’d like? We’re IN! What now? First off — smart thinking. Email us, send along some pictures, information, high school athletic stats, questions, etc. We’ll take it from there. THE REAL STANGLE BROTHERS

Mike and Dave were surprised by the response it received. As Dave points out: “We thought the only logical way to get dates that knew each other, that would hang out with the two of us, was to put this on Craigslist. We wrote it, kind of thinking it was a joke that we could send to each other.”

With literally thousands of responses, the brothers had soon attracted national attention, discussing their creative dating tactics with Matt Lauer on the Today show and with Anderson Cooper on CNN.

The Stangles were, after all, only doing what came naturally. “I mean, that was kind of the whole point,” Mike says. “We realized that people actually were paying attention to us and so we were cool for the first time in our lives. For a neat little month we went on as many dates as we possibly could.” Adds Dave: “We did a lot of double-dating.”

The ad worked. A movie was made. They also landed a book deal. The deals were thanks to a friend, who happened to be a trainee at CAA, who spotted their viral ad on Craigslist.

And so we cordially invite all to the comedy event of the year. Adam Devine plays Mike and Zac Efron plays Dave in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, coming to Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD on September 27 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. A true life comedy: In order to avoid embarrassing their family, hard-partying brothers Mike and Dave place an online ad to find “respectable” dates for their sister’s Hawaiian wedding. Instead, the boys find themselves out-hustled by an uncontrollable duo (played by Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza). Based on hilarious true events, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is the perfect marriage of over-the-top humor and outrageous fun. The home releases doesn’t divorce themselves from extras . . .  there are more than 90 minutes of wildly inappropriate content, including never-before-seen extended and deleted scenes

No gifts needed.

Ken Burns and Artemis Joukowsky unveil a little-known, yet essential, chapter in Nazi history

 

Ken Burns in one word?  Genius. He has created a canon of documentaries that are as educational as they are entertaining, even when the topics are pretty sharp. Witness: “Defying the Nazis: Sharps’ War”, a new documentary Burns co-directed with Artemis Joukowsky. PBS Distribution releases it on DVD  on September 20. The program will also be available for digital download.

This is the story of a little-known but important mission by an American minister and his wife to rescue refugees and dissidents in Europe before and after the start of World War II.

 

The film tells the story of Waitstill and Martha Sharp, a Unitarian minister and his wife from Wellesley, Massachusetts, who left their children behind in the care of their parish and boldly committed to multiple life-threatening missions in Europe. Over two dangerous years they helped to save hundreds of imperiled political dissidents and refugees fleeing the Nazi occupation across Europe.

shar_fra
Waitstill and Martha Sharp

The story is cinematically told through the letters and journals of the Sharps, with Tom Hanks as the voice of Waitstill and Marina Goldman as the voice of Martha. It features firsthand interviews with the now adult children whom the Sharps saved, as well as leading historians, authors and Holocaust scholars, including William Schulz, Deborah Dwork, Modecai Paldiel, Ghanda DiFiglia and Yehuda Bauer.

Joukowsky, a film producer and co-founder of No Limits Media, is the grandson of Waitstill and Martha Sharp and has spent decades researching their story. He is the author of a companion book to the film, featuring a foreword by Ken Burns, which will be published by Beacon Press and has been released.

In January of 1939, as Americans remained mostly detached from news reports of the growing refugee crisis in the escalating war in Europe, Waitstill received a call from the Rev. Everett Baker, Vice President of the American Unitarian Association, asking if they would travel to Czechoslovakia to help provide relief to people trying to escape Nazi persecution. He invited Waitstill and Martha to take part in “the first intervention against evil by the denomination to be started immediately overseas.” The mission would involve secretly helping Jews, refugees and dissidents to escape the expanding Nazi threat in Europe. If they were discovered, they would face imprisonment, probable torture and death. Seventeen other members of the church had declined. With two young children at home, the Sharps accepted. They expected to be gone for several months. Instead, their mission would last almost two years.

During this time, the Sharps would face harrowing encounters with Nazi police, narrowly escape arrest and watch as the Third Reich invaded Eastern Europe. Their marriage would be tested severely and the two children they left behind would be saddened by their parents’ absence. But dozens of Jewish scientists, journalists, doctors, powerful anti-Nazi activists and children would find their way to freedom and start new lives as a result of their efforts. To recognize their heroic sacrifice, Martha and Waitstill were honored at Yad Vashem in Israel and declared “Righteous Among the Nations.” Of the thousands so honored, there are only five Americans, including the Sharps.

A must-see, must-own film for everyone’s library.

The Black Eyes Peas (not the legumes, but the band) ready for a stunning vinyl collection

For the record: Originally formed in Los Angeles in the late ’80s by rap partners will.i.am and apl.de.ap., The Black Eyed Peas were signed to Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records, then joined Jimmy Iovine’s Interscope in 1998 for their critically acclaimed major label debut album, Behind the Front.  Since then, The Black Eyed Peas have gone on to sell more than 35 million albums around the world, emerging from the West Coast rap underground to become Grammy-winning, multi-platinum superstars who have stormed the pop charts after adding pop diva Fergie to their ranks for 2003’s breakthrough album, Elephunk, which produced their first hit single, “Where Is the Love,” “Shut Up,” “Hey Mama” and “Let’s Get It Started.”unnamed

UMe will now bring all six Interscope studio albums in The Black Eyed Peas’ hit-packed catalog together for the first time in The Complete Vinyl Collection, a limited edition vinyl box set that includes 180-gram double-LPs of each (for a total of 12 discs) in a black rigid lift top box, with gold foil band logo, to be released September 30. All six individual vinyl LPs will also be released separately in a limited edition run. 

images
Real black-eyes peas
black-eyed-peas-thatgrapejuice
The other The Black Eyed Peas

We end with a bit of interesting piece of minutiae, no bigger than a black-eyed pea. Bridging The Gap, which came out in 2000, is the last album recorded as Black Eyed Peas before the band added a “The” to their name.  They never added the hyphen . . . afraid to be confused with those yummy  legumes?

Don’t skip “Skiptrace”; Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville and a fluffy and funny flick

The critics may not have skipped their praise for Skiptrace, but we found it as funny as a bowling ball that serves another purpose: Possible murder weapon.  Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville team up in the hilarious action-packed buddy comedy, arriving on Blu-ray (plus Digital HD), DVD (plus Digital) and Digital HD on October 25 from Lionsgate. The film is currently available On Demand.

For years, by-the-book Hong Kong detective Benny Chan (Chan) has tried to avenge his partner’s murder at the hands of a drug lord. Chan’s Chan meets freewheeling American gambler Connor Watts (Knoxville), who has an important piece of evidence that will bring the man who murdered Chan’s partner to justice.

Those expecting a hard-boiled film noir should remember this fick comes from acclaimed director Renny Harlin; think Die Harder, Cliffhanger, Deep Blue Sea. Fluff and funny.

Julie Walters, again, proves why “Indian Summers” is “a terrific melodrama with brains.”

America is still reeling from a record-breaking hot summer and an Indian Summer is in the wings. We’d much rather savor Indian Summers . . . the continuing story of love, death and unbridled ambition, set in British India’s exotic summer capital in the ’30s that has been hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “a terrific melodrama with brains.” PBS Distribution will be releasing “Masterpiece: Indian Summers Season” on DVD and Blu-ray on September 27. The program will also be available for digital download.

The series stars Julie Walters (below) plus “a constellation of strong performances” (Los Angeles Times)—among them Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Nikesh Patel and Jemima West. New this season are Art Malik, Rachel Griffiths, Blake Ritson and James Fleet.indian-summers-s1-julie-walters-6-things-1920x1080

Viewers will recall that last season ends with colonial official Ralph Whelan (Lloyd-Hughes) deftly playing his hand to be the next Viceroy of India and engaged to American socialite Madeline Mathers (Olivia Grant). Learning that Madeline is penniless, he decides to marry her anyway since she impresses all the right people. However, Madeline doesn’t know that Ralph has a mixed-race son, Adam, by his former lover Jaya, or that Ralph was complicit in hanging an innocent man for Jaya’s murder.

In other action, Ralph’s sister, Alice (West), is secretly having an affair with Ralph’s Indian head clerk, Aafrin Delal (Patel), while Aafrin is clandestinely aiding the Indian independence movement. All of these events revolve around the social scene in India’s summer capital, Simla, presided over by crafty military widow Cynthia Coffin (Walters).

As Season 2 opens, it is three years later, 1935. Ralph and Madeline are married. Aafrin has just returned from an official posting in Bengal, where he has fallen in love with freedom-fighter Kaira Das (played by Sugandha Garg) and also befriended firebrand nationalist Naresh Banerjee (Arjun Mathur), who is menacingly paranoid. Just as unbalanced is Alice’s estranged husband, Charlie Havistock (Ritson), who has shown up from England, determined to humiliate her for deserting him with their young son.

Adding to the intrigue is the Maharajah of Amritpur (Malik), the fabulously wealthy ruler of one of India’s princely states. A man of influence and strong appetites, he holds the key to Ralph’s future—in concert with his sensual English mistress, Sirene (Griffiths), whose face is strangely familiar to Simla’s expats.

And then there is Ralph’s rival, Lord Hawthorne (Fleet), who has the aristocratic lineage for the viceroy’s job but is having trouble adapting to the culture of the subcontinent. Still, he has no problem turning on the charm to Leena Prasad (Amber Rose Revah), the attractive former teacher at Simla’s mission school.

Enriching the new season is the dilemma faced by Aafrin’s sister Sooni (Aysha Kala), who wants to use her law degree to benefit the people but faces family pressure to submit to an arranged marriage. Fate intervenes to give her the choice of three very different suitors.

Of course, the big story is the inexorable push toward Indian independence, which is being promoted peacefully by Gandhi and less temperately by someone who promises “to blow them all up until it is raining hands and bloody feet!”

“Churchill’s Secret” is a riveting drama about Winston’s historic hidden truth

We all have secrets . . . but Winston Churchill, perhaps he greatest statesman of the twentieth century, kept one  in his most difficult hour: a debilitating stroke which he seeks to hide from the world. The fascinating story in told in PBS Distribution’s Masterpiece: Churchill’s Secret, arriving on DVD on September 13.

Based on a true incident in the life of Winston Churchill and directed by three-time Emmy nominee Charles Sturridge, Churchill’s Secret  is an adaptation of Jonathan Smith’s acclaimed 2015 novel, The Churchill Secret: KBO, which was hailed as “delightful, funny, heart-warming” by The Mail on Sunday (London) and praised for its “elegance and wit” by The New Statesman (London). “KBO” in the book’s title stands for Churchill’s favorite advice in the face of adversity: “keep buggering on.”

Sir Michael Gambon,74,smokes a cigarette whilst on set of ìSecret Churchillî in London. The ITV drama follows the story of a nurse guiding the ailing Churchill back to health during his final years in power at his Kent home. Set in the summer of 1953, it is based on book, The Churchill Secret: KBO, by Jonathan Smith, which tells the story of the PM's secret stroke. Credit Byline:Eagle Eyes_Exclusive. 28/6/2015
Sir Michael Gambon,74,smokes a cigarette whilst on set of “Churchill’s Secret”

Churchill stars Michael Gambon, in one of those performances that deserves awards. The action opens in the summer of 1953. Churchill, 78, is prime minister for the second time and as pugnacious as ever—until he is felled by a severe stroke while hosting a state dinner at 10 Downing Street. Lady Churchill (played by Lindsay Duncan) manages to conceal the seriousness of her husband’s sudden incapacity, while he is evaluated by his personal physician, Lord Moran (played Bill Paterson), and later transported in worsening condition to his country home, Chartwell.

Summoned to care for the apparently dying prime minister is a remarkable young nurse, Millie Appleyard (Romola Garai), who treats the world’s most famous man as she would any other difficult patient: with compassion, firmness, and occasional indulgence. In the weeks that follow, the two bond over the Victorian poet William Ernest Henley, whose celebrated poem, Invictus (Latin for “unconquered”), helps inspire Churchill to relearn to speak, stand and walk.

He is also determined to hold onto the reins of power, and the program tells the astonishing story of a bedridden, incapacitated leader who plots to outwit the high government officials who are maneuvering to replace him. Chief among these is Anthony Eden (Alex Jennings), Churchill’s right-hand man and designated successor.

Then there is Churchill’s family, of whom Lord Moran observes, “There’s a price to pay for greatness, but the great seldom pay it themselves.” Those who paid were Churchill’s children, who grew up in the permanent shadow of their exuberant and ambitious father. When Diana, Randolph, Sarah and Mary arrive at Chartwell to comfort their stricken parent, all except Mary fall to bickering and boozing—hardly an environment conducive to convalescence.

Through it all, Lady Churchill tries to keep the family peace and above all save some portion of her husband’s declining years for herself—far away from the demands of war and politics. As for Winston, a strange vision and a hit song haunt him from the early ’20s: “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.” What could it mean?

Color away stress and cultivate inspiration with nifty Inkspirations coloring books

Color us happy. Ever since “adult” coloring books came into vogue, we have been using a palette of favorites to create beauty . . . while reliving imagination and soothing anxiety, usually in shades of mauvelous.

We have just discovered  a beautiful and inspiring line of coloring books and greeting cards from HCI that are the perfect antidote to a chaotic and troubled world.

Inkspirations coloring books offer a way to turn off negativity while healing the spirit. Art therapy has long proven its effects as an aid in emotional and mental restoration, and it is not news that coloring as active meditation reduces stress and quiets thoughts. From the original publishers of Chicken Soup for the Soul now comes a line of coloring books ready to encourage, inspire and help worries fade.

Whether coloring with friends, family or on your own, it doesn’t take much to color your day a little brighter. With moving quotes alongside unique and graceful images, Inkspirations coloring books include a wide array of themes to help express creativity and enjoy therapy through coloring.

We love ’em all, but were happy to see Inkspirations in the Garden.
bk-4370-garden-1-231x300Anyone blessed with a green thumb knows that a garden is nature’s haven, and when properly tended can transform a patch of ground into a place of splendor that abounds with intoxicating colors, scents and wildlife. Inkspirations in the Garden celebrates gardens in all their glory, from images of delightful cottage gardens to well-manicured rose gardens, from lush tropical gardens to relaxing Zen gardens. The original designs feature exquisite floral patterns to color and customize, plus heartwarming scenes of lovable backyard critters, like ladybugs and bumblebees, and even the squirrels and rabbits who sometimes become our garden nemeses. Inkspirations in the Garden pays homage to those who make weeds into wonders and have been enriched by gardening’s lessons about a life well-tended and nurtured.

Inkspirations for a Happy Heart shares more than 30 original designs to make your own, plus motivating mantras to help you relax, unwind, and greet each day with renewed optimism and creative energy. Whether you’re new to coloring or a gel-pen aficionado, you may have already admired the artistic creations of Diane Yi, whose stunning artwork has been shared, pinned or colored around the world. bk-4371-heart-231x300With Diane’s style of intricate details with exquisite flourishes, Inkspirations for a Happy Heart provides a perfect canvas that will inspire you to color your world a little brighter.

The cat’s meow? Inkspirations for Cat Lovers. Cats are curious, regal, intelligent, and playful. They oblige us humans by allowing us to share our lives and hearts with them. Inkspirations for Cat Lovers celebrates the magic, mystery and merriment of cats throughout the seasons, from Siamese to the Sphinx, Abyssinians to Persians, Maine Coons to calicos, and more. From long-haired to short-haired and everything in between, you will find more than 30 original designs that celebrate the many ways in which cats bring joy (and fur!) into our lives.bk-4373-cat-233x300 Inkspirations for Cat Lovers is a fitting tribute to our whiskered companions who color our world brighter every day.

Visit Inkspirations.com or amazon.com for more details or to order.