Category Archives: DVDs

Forget the lions and tigers; it’s merely polar bears converging at Kaktovik

Each summer, an increasing number of polar bears are converging at Kaktovik, a tiny Alaskan town on the shores of the Southern Beaufort Sea, to feast on the remains of whales left on a nearby beach by the Inupiat tribe.  Those who crave witnessing the experience can spend lot$ of money and go to the state . . .  or take a gander at PBS Distribution’s DVD The Great Polar Bear Feast.

The program documents the immense struggle that polar bears face in the wild and how a unique relationship between the bears and the local village is shedding new light on the future of this iconic animal. The filmmakers accompanied the U.S. Geological Survey lead polar bear scientist, Dr. Todd Atwood, as he and his team fit one dozen female bears with satellite tracking collars to gather data on them over the several months and witness never-before-seen behaviors.

 

The program tells the story of Southern Beaufort Sea polar bears as they face the challenges of the Arctic summer, the time of year when the sea ice they depend on for hunting melts at an increasingly rapid pace. Using the satellite data, the film follows two female bears and their cubs as the ice begins to melt.  One mother, with two cubs, travels south to Kaktovik and is able to partake in the feast of whale blubber. The other, with a single cub, stays put and then must swim several hundred miles to the north to reach the nearest ice.

‘Tab Hunter Confidential’ opens his closet (once again) to tell all

He was one of Hollywood’s male heartthrobs during the ’50s. In dozens of films and on the pages of countless movie magazines Tab Hunter’s good looks and golden-boy sex appeal drove his (mostly female) fans into screaming, delirious frenzies, making him the prototype for all young matinee idols to come. Bristling against being just another pretty face and wanting to be taken seriously, Hunter was one of the few to be able to transcend pin-up boy status. He earned his stripes as an actor to become a movie star.

Hunter’s career was launched with “Island of Desire” in 1952. He was cast in a lead role opposite screen legend Linda Darnell. Both the movie and Hunter were panned by critics, but teenage girls went wild for the shirtless blond hunk with the dreamy face and the steely jaw. Overnight, with only one role under his belt, Tab Hunter erupted into a media sensation.

Suddenly, an army of photographers charts his every move as he squires glamorous actresses like Natalie Wood and Debbie Reynolds from event to glittering event. Several more low-budget films came his way, and Hunter began to taste the intoxicating perks of stardom. And the pressures. In private he began a secret affair with figure skater Ronnie Robertson, but in public he was required to date Hollywood’s most eligible starlets. Tab was deathly afraid the party could end at any moment, and equally apart by the contradictions.

But behind the scenes, Tab’s life was in turmoil. His mother Gertrude had a nervous breakdown and had to undergo electro-shock treatments. And he finally broke with agent Henry Willson–who had done surprisingly little for his career and wanted to bed the boy like mad . . . always to rejection. A furious Willson got his revenge by feeding the scandal magazine “Confidential” a story about Hunter’s arrest years earlier at a gay party. Willson provided “Confidential” with all the lurid details of Hunter’s “disorderly conduct” charge. The headline read: “The Truth About Tab Hunter’s Pajama Party” and the story mentioned “limp-wristed lads” and “queer romps”. Suddenly, everything Hunter had worked for was about to be cruelly snatched away. But an odd silence followed. The mainstream media said nothing and the scandal quietly faded away. Part of the reason may be his loyal adherence to Hollywood’s so-called “Gentleman’s Agreement”, dating women publicly and keeping his private life private.

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Now, the actor’s dramatic, turbulent and ultimately inspiring life story is told in “Tab Hunter Confidential”, a documentary directed by Emmy-winning filmmaker Jeffrey Schwarz. The film has the unique advantage of exclusive, unprecedented access to Hunter who shares first-hand, for the second time, what it was like to be a manufactured movie star during the Golden Age of Hollywood and the consequences of being someone totally different from his manufactured image. We will trace Tab’s dizzying rise to Hollywood super-stardom, his secret life in an era when being openly gay was unthinkable, and his ultimate triumph when the limelight finally passed him by.


After a year on the film festival circuit and a theatrical run across 50 cities in the United States, the acclaimed documentary, based on Hunter’s “New York Times” bestselling memoir, is available to rent or own nationwide on Digital HD. A DVD release is planned for later this summer.

Punctuating Tab’s on screen presence will be rare film clips and provocative interviews with friends and co-stars including John Waters, Clint Eastwood, George Takei, Debbie Reynolds, Robert Wagner, Noah Wyle, Connie Stevens, Lainie Kazan, Rona Barrett and Robert Osborne. “Tab Hunter Confidential” is an important piece of Hollywood’s hidden history that is more relevant than ever in today’s obsessive, star-driven, sexuality speculating media.

“Tab Hunter Confidential” concludes with Hunter and the film’s co-producer Allan Glaser living their lives in Santa Barbara, where he spends time with his horses and is “happy to be forgotten.” Now, Tab Hunter’s secret is out and he rides into the sunset a happy, healthy survivor of Hollywood’s roller coaster.

Anchor Bay Entertainment delivers the latest chapter (six) of “The Walking Dead”

They walk. They talk. They eat. They are dead. With the end of every season comes the bittersweet knowledge that we must wait with bated breath until the next ride. To keep your “The Walking Dead” appetite satiated, Anchor Bay Entertainment proudly continues the tradition of offering fans an opportunity to relive the so satisfying series by delivering “The Walking Dead: The Complete Sixth Season” on Blu-ray + Digital HD and DVD on August 23. Welcome back new cast members and guest stars for season six including Merritt Wever as Dr. Denise Cloyd, Ethan Embry as Carter, Corey Hawkins as Heath, Thomas Payne as Jesus and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan. Watch, savor and save another date: “The Walking Dead” Season 7 premieres on AMC this October.

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Just like the previous award-winning home entertainment releases, “The Walking Dead: The Complete Sixth Season” will take fans down a memory lane that refuses to be a dead end: All of the season’s most haunting and indelible moments, including never-before-heard audio commentaries, deleted scenes, six new featurettes, additional extras and the highly anticipated Alternate Negan Scene, live on Blu-ray and DVD.

Writer/producer Scott M. Gimple revealed that the sixth season would continue to remix material from the comic and explained that there would be a flashback backstory to some of the characters: “”There are other people that we’re going to see throughout the season from the comics, and I’m excited for people to see it, but I don’t want to tell them now. I think a few minor remixes, but some direct stuff from the comic as well, as far as these characters go. I think there’s a really cool aspect to the first half of the season that serves almost as a prequel to some direct comic stuff in the second half of the season. I think there’s a way that Robert did some of the story that we’re reaching that had a real past to it, where people are referring to some things in the past in the comic. And we’re able to portray some of that backstory in some ways that you didn’t get to see in the comic.”

Rob Paulsen continues to give voice to a most animated career

Robert Fredrick Paulsen III has always given voice to his career. He first started out as a singer, did stage work and made a handful of films and TV shows. “I just wanted to perform,” he says, “and I didn’t care what that meant.” And perform he did and does, once he stumbled into the profession that truly had him give voice to his work. (He began his voice-over career in 1983 with “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero”, where he played “Snow Job” and “Tripwire”.)

Today, the 60-year-old actor is one of the most prolific voice actors in the industry. Paulsen has recorded thousands of different character voices for nearly 500 different films and TV series, not counting his endless work in commercial voice-overs and video games. Perhaps he’s most known for the original commercial of “Got Milk?” campaign. The famous commercial (remember “who shot Alexander Hamilton in that famous duel?”) aired in 1993, and launched the Got Milk? (in)famous campaign.

His career runs as a long as that yellow brick road: Career highlights include “Animaniacs”, “The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius”, “Pinky and the Brain”, “The Tick”, “Tiny Toon Adventures”, “Goof Troop”, “Dexter’s Laboratory”, “Histeria” and “The Mask”. In “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” Paulsen voiced both Raphael in the original 1987 animated cast; he gives life to Donatello in the more recent take on the series. And let us not forget a role he holds close to his heart: Oz’s Tin Man (and his alter ego Hickory), a role he has voiced first in “Tom and Jerry & The Wizard of Oz” and in the newly released “Tom and Jerry Back to Oz.” Both are available on DVD, thanks to Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Chatting with the actor is an animated adventure. He has so many stories to tell about places he has gone and people he has met. We gabbed with him on a Saturday afternoon, in time away from his wife, Parrish, and their Yorkshire terriers, Pooshie and Tala. We even got to hear him sing a snatch of “If I Only Had a Heart”!

Alan W. Petrucelli: First things first: You wanted to be a hockey player. What happened?
Rob Paulsen: The one big fly in the ointment was that I hadn’t the talent or temperament. I was a decent high school player and maybe so in college, but professional hockey players are bigger and more mannish.

AWP: One of your heroes was Gordie Howe. Did you ever met him?
RP: Gordie was my idol. He passed away just a week ago. He was my hero. His planet on ice made him an idol of mine. When I met him and his wife, Colleen, it turned out that their grandkids were great Ninja Turtle fans. I was lucky to have Gordie in my life: At a fundraiser in Vancouver, I was sitting next to him during an autograph signing. Gordie was in early ’60s and had been signing for a couple hours. A guy my age came up to Gordie after waiting an hour for him to sign a puck, and said, ‘Mr. Howe, thank you for signing my puck.’ Your hand must be getting tired.’ Gordie looked at him, and sober as judge, he held his hand out to the man and said, ‘I worked too hard for this privilege. It’s my honor.’ What he said was like a laser beam right to my head. Gordie was a God.

AWP: You worked closely with another God, Steven Spielberg. Any stories?
RP: He has not only created the world’s greatest impression of cartoons and movies, but up close and personal, Spielberg is the most delightful and kind and generous person I have met. He makes any conversation or experienced with him about you. That is important since I have met people whose goal is to be self-centered. I have zero tolerance to run into those types of people. They think they will impress me, but they never do. Spielberg is the kind of famous person who impresses people . . . without an ego.

AWP: You are another famous person who impresses people.
RP: No. I am not a celebrity. A lot of the characters I voice are celebrities. but I am not a celebrity. I don’t draw or write them. I have developed a certain reputation: Casting people know to call Rob if they give me a live action job because I have developed a reputation that I can sing it, I can act it. [Pauses, then laughs] Yet I am limited by how I look, so doing voices is freeing because I can swing from the fences since I’m a 5-foot, 10½-inch white guy, as average-looking as a million other guys.

AWP: You must admit you got a great job. It must get tough changing your voice so many times.
RP: No. A job is what blue-collar men do. Pouring hot tar in July is a tough job. Laying sod on a farm is a tough job. Working on a conveyor belt in a factory is hard work. My job is like freedom . . . I get to do what I want with my voice; my interpretation is only limited by my voice. I would be lying if I said I don’t like when people make a fuss over me. Sometimes when I sign a credit card receipt, a person says, “Hmm, Rob Paulsen. Are you . . .?’ Sometimes a person will listen to me and say, ‘Hmm, I know that voice.’ That’s incredibly flattering. When I was growing up, cartoons were on only three networks. And now . . . [Pauses] I am in incredible receipt of so much fan anticipation. All things considered, I love what I do so much I would do it for free.

AWP: When you made the two Oz films with Tom and Jerry, where you asked to sound like Jack Haley?
RP: The people who made the movie wanted me to be really close to what he sounded like. That’s what they were definitely looking for. Haley was very light and sweet and ingenious, yet he still had a pretty thick Boston accent. When I got to sing, it’s such a thrill they wanted the Haley influence. [Begins singing in a Haley soundalike voice] “When a man’s an empty kettle he should be on his mettle . . .”

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Paulsen supplies the Tinman’s voice in two Warner Bros. DVDs

AWP: Is your voice insured?
RP: No. I heard and presume that Luciano Pavarotti and Richard Tucker and Kathleen Battle had their voices insured. I did think about it now that I am getting older and had an issue with laryngitis,

AWP: You’ve done commercials for Honda, Frosted Mini-Wheats, McDonalds and Taco Bell. Do you have lifetime free cars, cereal, Big Macs and Cheesy Double Beef Burritos?
RP: [Laughs] No. They offered me a crazy deal on a Honda but I ended up buying one in 1974. The Honda Civic cost $4,496. When McDonald’s was doing a promotion with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a local guy was a big man and asked me to sign some Turtleblila. He gave me some free stuff . . . I think it was two burgers.

TV’s sassiest and most trustworthy female newscasters? No, not Kim Barker!

TV’s greatest newscaster? In honor of the home entertainment debut of the smart and satirical comedy Whiskey Tango Foxtrot starring Tina Fey as a broadcast journalist, the National Research Group (a Stagwell Company) conducted an online survey on behalf of Paramount Pictures among a nationally representative sample of U.S. residents to elicit opinions about female journalists who appear on broadcast and cable news programs.
Yes, sometimes long sentences need to be long.

Respondents, all of whom watch national broadcast or cable news at least once per week, chose Diane Sawyer as their favorite on-air reporter (yes!), followed closely by Barbara Walters, Katie Couric and Robin Roberts.  All four were selected as top favorites regardless of respondents’ political party affiliation; however Republicans also chose Megyn Kelly as a favorite and Democrats added Lisa Ling.  All respondents considered Sawyer, Walters, Couric and Roberts the most trustworthy.

Respondents’ top picks for “great interviewer” were Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters.  Those surveyed also described Walters, Sawyer, Lisa Ling, Rachel Maddow and Christiane Amanpour as “intelligent.”

The “classiest” broadcast journalists were Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric and Barbara Walters, while the “sassiest” was Megyn Kelly and the most “down to earth” was Robin Roberts.

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Most often described as “brave” were Robin Roberts, Lisa Ling, Christiane Amanpour and Lara Logan.  Respondents most often cited Megyn Kelly, Greta Van Susteren and Rachel Maddow as “opinionated.”

Based on real-life reporter Kim Barker’s revealing and funny memoir about covering the war beat in the Middle East, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is a sharp and savvy take on combat journalists as well as an illuminating story of self-discovery. The film follows Kim (Tina Fey) as she decides to shake things up by taking a dangerous assignment in Afghanistan.


There, in the midst of chaos, Kim discovers her true strength as she risks it all to find the next big story.  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot has arrived on Digital HD and on Blu-ray Combo Pack. No, none of TV’s “winners”  make an appearance.

 

“The Man Who Knew Infinity” adds up to an enjoyable event

Not everyone deserves being called a “genius.” So we introduce you to The Man Who Knew Infinity.  Dev Patel stars as Srinivasa Ramanujan,  a self-taught Indian mathematics genius. In 1913, he traveled to Trinity College, Cambridge, where over the course of five years, he forged a bond with his mentor, the brilliant and eccentric professor, G.H. Hardy (played by Jeremy Irons), while fighting against prejudice to reveal his mathematic genius to the world. As the Chicago Sun-Times raved, the film “is not so much a film about understanding the numbers, but understanding the men who made us see their merit, and the passion that drives each of us to find the true meaning in our lives.”


The Man Who Knew Infinity 
arrives on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD August 23 from Paramount Home Media Distribution.  The film will also be available for sale or rental from cable, satellite and telco providers through IFC Films.

A great film that adds up to a most entertaining adventure!