Category Archives: TV

The hell with VD. Celebrate life and love with your NYC besties, Abbi and Ilana, in “Broad City: Season 4”.

The flowers are dead.
The chocolates are gome.
The champagne is flat.

Doesn’t matter. That was Valentine’s Day. The love is still in the air with Galentine’s Day. What better way to celebrate than with your NY besties, Abbi and Ilana. Grab a few giant dirty martinis, a plate of bagel bites, some churrons and the new release of Broad City: Season 4.  Wasn’t that kind of Paramount Home Media Distribution?

The fourth season of the critically acclaimed series finds Abbi and Ilana growing up as they contend with gray hairs, the prospect of real relationships and, of course, living under a T***p presidency. The two-disc DVD set includes all 10 episodes from the fourth season as well as deleted & extended scenes, “Hack into Broad City” and “Behind Broad City.”

YAS KWEEN!

Jimmy Smits corrects history with “Secrets of the Dead: America’s Untold Story” 

History retold, correctly. While most history textbooks depict the British settlements on the East Coast as the first European presence in what would later become the United States, they largely ignore the Spanish men and women who built a string of culturally-diverse colonies, missions and forts here, beginning two generations before Jamestown and Plymouth. Spanish-claimed “La Florida” stretched along the East Coast as far north as Nova Scotia and as far west as Texas, and contained what is still today the oldest, continuously-occupied European colony in the U.S. Did early American historians deemphasize this period due to lack of evidence or were they glossing over national differences on race and slavery?

Secrets of the Dead: America’s Untold Story will be available on DVD March 20. The program is also available for digital download.

Broadcast on PBS as the two-hour special Secrets of Spanish Florida, America’s Untold Story (narrated by Jimmy Smits) expands to four hours to trace the Spanish presence in La Florida from 1565, when the Spaniard Pedro Menéndez established St. Augustine, through 1821, when Spain formally and finally ceded the entirety of its remaining territory to the Americans. The series details the complicated history behind this part of North America–highlighting the dramatic battles for control between European powers, the diverse populations that inhabited, fled, and fought for the peninsula over 256 years and the dramatically different status of blacks and Native Americans under the Spanish.

The program follows historians, archaeologists and marine scientists as they unearth documents and artifacts previously not known to the general public, piecing together a fuller picture of the contributions of the Spanish and the multicultural society they created, and uncovering why this story never made its way into textbooks.

For the record: Celebrate Black History Month with these historically important films and records

Black Wings  (PBS Distribution)
For early aviators, conquering the forces of gravity was a daunting challenge. But black aviators had an additional challenge: to conquer the forces of racism.

Image result for PBS BLACK WINGS

Meet the men and women of color who took to the skies throughout the 20th century and helped prove to a segregated nation that skin color didn’t determine skill level. From biplanes to commercial jets, and from barnstormers to war fighters, meet the path-breaking pilots who opened the skies for all.


In the firmament of rock ‘n’ roll’s first-generation creators, no artist looms larger than Chuck Berry. In a consistently innovative recording career that spanned more than 60 years, the iconic singer-songwriter-guitarist, who passed away on March 18, 2017, laid much of the groundwork for modern rock ‘n’ roll, while creating some of rock’s most distinctive and enduring anthems, including “Johnny B. Goode”, “Roll Over Beethoven,”, “Rock and Roll Music” and “Reelin and Rockin”.

Geffen/UMe are paying tribute to the immortal spirit of Chuck Berry with the ultimate vinyl version of his landmark greatest hits compilation, The Great Twenty-Eight, with The Great Twenty-Eight: Super Deluxe Edition.

The five-disc vinyl box set housed in a textured box, complements the original two-LP, 28-song compilation with an additional LP, More Great Chuck Berry, containing 14 more hits, rarities and B-sides missing from the original, as well as a rare live album, Oh Yeah! Live in Detroit, available on vinyl for the first time. The collection also include a newly created bonus ten-inch EP Berry Christmas, featuring four holiday-themed classics on “Rudolph-Red” vinyl, with one song on vinyl for the first time as well. A limited edition version on “Chess Blue” vinyl, limited to 500 copies.

Bob Dylan once called Berry “the Shakespeare of rock ‘n’ roll.” John Lennon stated, “If you tried to give rock ‘n’ roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry.'” As Keith Richards writes in the booklet intro, “Chuck Berry is the gentleman who started it all.”

And if those testimonials aren’t convincing enough, one listen to The Great Twenty-Eight: Super Deluxe Edition will make the case for Chuck Berry’s singular, timeless rock ‘n’ roll brilliance.


 

Cruel and Unusual, a profound documentary telling the story of three men—Robert King, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, known as the Angola 3. Wrongfully convicted for murdering a prison guard in 1972 at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, these men have spent longer in solitary than any other prisoners in the US.  On his release, Albert Woodfox had spent 43 years in a six foot by nine foot cell for a crime he did not commit.

Cover for the documentary, "Cruel And Unusual"

The film is available for sale and rental on Amazon Video, iTunes, and Vudu, as well as DVD and Blu-ray.

Told in detail by interviews and prison phone calls from King, Wallace and Woodfox, Cruel and Unusual allows viewers to experience these men’s pain and anguish. From the worst of the worst in their cells, these men managed to find the best of the best that the human spirit has to offer. They have fought for justice and never accepted defeat so that no one else will ever suffer the way they did. A call to action, the film aims to support the growing campaign to end the overuse of long term solitary confinement in America’s prisons.


The rich history of America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) began before the end of slavery, flourished in the 20th century, and profoundly influenced the course of the nation for over 150 years—yet remains largely unknown. This latest documentary from Stanley Nelson, America’s foremost film chronicler of the African American experience, is the powerful story of the rise, influence, and evolution of HBCUs come to life.

The story is told in Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities (PBS Distribution).

A haven for Black intellectuals, artists, and revolutionaries—and a path of promise toward the American dream—HBCUs have educated the architects of freedom movements and cultivated leaders in every field while remaining unapologetically Black for more than 150 years. These institutions have nurtured some of the most influential Americans of our time, from Booker T. Washington to Martin Luther King, Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois to Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison to Oprah Winfrey, Alice Walker to Spike Lee to Common.

“Frontline: War on the EPA” shows how a minor league baseball team owner came to political prominence by pledging to fight federal environmental regulations

How did Scott Pruitt go from fighting the EPA to running the agency and rolling back years of policy? The gripping documentary Frontline: War on the EPA (PBS Distribution) investigates the conservative political forces and causes, like climate change skepticism, that propelled Pruitt’s takeover of the EPA.

With access to key players on all sides of the issue, the film traces how the fossil fuel industry fought back against Obama-era regulations with the help of a “strike force” of industry-funded state attorneys general, led by Pruitt. It also explores how Pruitt, a former state senator and minor league baseball team owner, came to political prominence first in Oklahoma and then in Washington, D.C. by pledging to fight federal environmental regulations, and defend the oil and gas industries.

With Pruitt now leading the federal agency he sued 14 times as Oklahoma’s attorney general, the documentary is an inside look at the triumphant ascent of the anti-regulatory movement in America.

 

“North Korea’s Deadly Dictator” takes an eye-opening look at how King Jong-un thinks and perpetuate his own power

In 2017, Kim Jong-un’s half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, was ambushed in a Malaysian airport by two women bearing a lethal chemical weapon 10 times more powerful than sarin. He died en route to the hospital. Who planned the murder of Kim Jong-un’s half-brother, and what does it reveal about the leader and his regime?

Frontline: North Korea’s Deadly Dictator is now available on DVD. The program is also available for digital download.

As nuclear tensions between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un escalate, producer Jane McMullen examines claims the North Korean leader and his intelligence services ordered the assassination on Kim Jong-nam, and sheds light on his broader intentions and nuclear capabilities.

Drawing on interviews with a leading North Korean defector, diplomats, experts, Kim Jong-nam’s school friends and even a former North Korean secret agent, the documentary is a rare glimpse inside the secretive country; an eye-opening look at both how King Jong-un thinks, and how he’s trying to ensure his regime’s survival and perpetuate his own power.

“VA: The Human Cost of War” is a probing, profound film, another winner from Ric Burns

What is the exact human cost of war? Directed by six-time Emmy -winning filmmaker Ric Burns and executive produced by Lois Pope, VA: The Human Cost of War (PBS Distribution) takes a broad look at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, examining the organization’s history, leadership, structure, funding and relationship to veterans.The documentary examines the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, from its inception to the present day, exploring its successes and failures in properly caring for veterans upon their return from war, its critical role in the American healthcare system, and the need for major reform.

 Tracing its troubled beginnings as the Veterans Bureau of the 1920s through to the organization’s transformation into a modern healthcare system after World War II, the film tracks the ways in which the VA has had to quickly adapt to new challenges and obstacles as it attempts to care for veterans. Beholden to the executive branch for its funding and detached logistically from the leaders who plan and execute war, the VA has had to find ways to deal with the consequences and costs of war, which are incurred long after the fighting ceases. From the psychological and physical wounds of soldiers returning from Vietnam, to the changing demographic make-up of the troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, the film investigates the Department’s successes and gross missteps as its burden continues to grow larger, more complicated, and increasingly politicized.

Told through a series of personal stories from veterans and intertwined with deep historical and political analysis from leading scholars and elected officials, the film illustrates the key ways in which the VA, and we as a society, fail our veterans, who, according to Department of Veterans Affairs research, continue to commit suicide at the harrowing rate of 20 veterans per day.

Public Media Distribution serves up a most tasty MOVEABLE FEAST WITH FINE COOKING – SEASON 5

Good food takes time. Good DVDs showcasing good food takes time. We urge you to save the date: Public Media Distribution, LLC is releasing Moveable Feast With Fine Cooking: Season 5 on DVD on March 6. The program will also be available for digital download.
Nominated for an Emmy and James Beard Award, and winner of both Telly and TASTE Awards, Moveable Feast With Fine Cooking is co-hosted this season by award-winning chefs Pete Evans and Curtis Stone, and special guest chef Michelle Bernstein. In Season Five they bring viewers to Europe and Puerto Rico, in addition to locations in the United States, to meet top chefs and award-winning food artisans to source the finest regional ingredients and create a multi-course feast for friends.

Viewers will learn cooking tips and techniques from talented chefs, including Patricia Wells, Guy Savoy, Bryan Voltaggio, Tom Douglas, and Sherry Yard, and discover how they can interpret the chefs’ flavorful dishes in their own kitchen. Diners enjoy these spectacular meals hosted in unique places, from the breathtaking mustard fields of Dijon and rice farms near Turin, to a stunning vineyard in San Luis Obispo and an authentic Taos pueblo. Viewers will want a seat at the table!

“The Gilded Age” is a riveting documentary about the very, very, very, very rich . . . and the rest of us

To Gild the lily? We know that means unnecessarily adorning something already beautiful.  The expression is a condensation of Shakespeare’s metaphor in King John: “To gild refined gold, to paint the lily … is wasteful and ridiculous excess.”

Thirty years after the Civil War, America had transformed itself into an economic powerhouse and was fast becoming the world’s leading producer of food, coal, oil and steel. But the transformation had created stark new divides in wealth, class and opportunity. By the end of the 19th century, the richest 4,000 families in the country—less than one percent of all Americans—possessed nearly as much wealth as the other 11.6 million families combined. The simultaneous growth of a lavish new elite and a struggling working class sparked passionate and violent debate over questions still being asked today: How is wealth best distributed, and by what process? Should the government concern itself with economic growth or economic justice? Are we two nations—one for the rich and one for the poor—or one nation where everyone has a chance to succeed?

The story is told in the riveting American Experience: The Gilded Age (PBS Distribution).

The Gilded Age, as it later came to be known, was dominated by larger-than-life men who wielded power across industrial and economic sectors. While the elite luxuriated in splendor, America’s cities were bursting with immigrants and former slaves looking for opportunity. A message resounded among the working class: Was America a land of opportunity or a closed system run by the few for their own gain? The program is a compelling portrait of an era of glittering wealth contrasted with extreme poverty.

And awaaay we go! Time Life releases “The Jackie Gleason Show” in color

Everything about Jackie Gleason was big: his huge talent, his outsized personality, and his expansive waist line.  Even his grave, which we visited when we were in Miami. (June Taylor, best known as the founder of the June Taylor Dancers who appeared on The Great One’s show, is buried close to Jackie’soutdoor mausoleum.)
Jackie and June’s dancers.

Even bigger was The Jackie Gleason Show, his successful TV Variety show, taped in color from his hometown of Miami Beach from 1966 to 1970.  Tomorrow, Time Life releases the inaugural DVD release of Jackie’s show, one of the ’60s most beloved programs . . . . and unseen for nearly 50 years! (The master tapes had resided in a vault in South Florida until now.)

Gleason was everyone’s working-class hero, and his smash-hit show delivered an hour of non-stop entertainment every single week.  Enthralled home audiences were treated to entertainment of the highest order, singing, dancing, hilarious comedy and Jackie at his very best as Ralph Kramden and on stage with all his famous friends, including Milton Berle, Red Buttons, George Carlin, Nipsey Russell, Phil Silvers.  The single disc features four never-before-released, remastered episodes of the show including three unreleased Honeymooners sketches, all unseen for more than 50 years!
 Image result for jackie gleason grave

 

The Jackie Gleason Show had been broadcast live and later taped in New York City since 1952, but in 1964, Gleason wanted to be based where he could play golf all year round.  Hank Meyer, a longtime South Florida publicist, knew just the spot and convinced Jackie to bring his show to Miami Beach, the sun and fun capital of the world.  However, back in the ’60s, it was a novel undertaking to broadcast from Miami Beach, and more than a hundred families relocated to stay with the show.  Plus, there was barely any production infrastructure in South Florida, which all had to be created by Jackie and his team.  It paid off and the revamped show was a huge success.

This postcard was sent to fans who requested tickets to the show. Note a very tanned Gleason.
The Jackie Gleason Show delivered, Ralph Kramden, Gleason’s most indelible and legendary creation, as well as an unforgettable gallery of characters he himself created and fine-tuned. Most memorably, Gleason and Art Carney revived their Honeymooners roles, with Sheila MacRae and Jane Kean added as the new Alice and Trixie, all presented in glorious color for the first time.
So cue the travelin’ music and heed the big man’s message before he glides offstage: “And awaaay we go!”

Sat it isn’t so! The blockbuster French drama “A French Village” has ended. Yes, we cried. Much.

Dire que c’est pas si! We spent much of January 30 weeping. That was the dreaded day we learned that the final season of A French Village would premiere on MHz Choice. The only “good” news: The show would be followed by a February 13 DVD release.

The blockbuster French drama, starring Audrey Fleurot and Thierry Godard, chronicled the impact of World War II on a small village in central France. The German occupation changes the life of the village of Villeneuve forever, and as its residents come under the pressures of war, they make choices that are inspiring and heartbreaking.

In this gripping drama, ordinary citizens become patriots, traitors, Nazi employees or activists. Beginning with the Germans’ arrival in June 1940, they endure five years of rationing, fighting and betrayals, and strain to keep some semblance of their existence intact. The war shatters all their lives, but a few of them, even in the shadow of destruction, reach out to find fleeting moments of connection and love. Now it’s 1945, the war is over and those survivors are left to face their greatest battle, the future.