Category Archives: TV

Donna VanLiere’s “The Christmas Star” is a warm, wonderful gift

Prolific New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Christmas Shoes, Donna VanLiere has another incredible story to wrench and warm reader’s hearts. Published to coincide with the Hallmark Channel production of VanLiere’s previous title, The Christmas TownThe Christmas Star (St. Martin’s Press, $17.99) is a moving and uplifting story about repairing the fragile pieces of a broken heart with the help of a child and a little Christmas magic.

Thirty-two-year-old Amy Denison volunteers at Glory’s Place, an after school program where she meets seven-year-old Maddie, a precocious young girl who has spent her childhood in foster care. Unbeknownst to Amy, Maddie is a mini-matchmaker, with her eye on just the right man for Amy at Grandon Elementary School where she is a student. Amy is hesitant–she’s been hurt before, and isn’t sure she’s ready to lose her heart again–but an unexpected surprise makes her reconsider her lonely lifestyle.

As Christmas nears and the town is blanketed in snow and beautiful decorations, Maddie and the charming staff at Glory’s Place help Amy to see that romance can be more than heartache and broken promises.

A wonderfully warm gift.

An early holiday gift comes from MPI Home Media: “Pat Boone and Family: Christmas & Thanksgiving Specials”

We love Pat Boone! he looks great (he’s 84) and an early holiday gift comes from MPI: Pat Boone and Family: Christmas & Thanksgiving Specials. Boone, one of the top 10 recording artists of all time, brings us into his home to be entertained by him, wife Shirley and his four singing daughters—Debby, Cherry, Lindy and Laurie– in these music and comedy specials that first aired on ABC in 1978 and 1979.

The Christmas show includes classic holiday songs and comedic moments with the hyper-charged Hudson Brothers plus stars from ABC’s Three’s Company, Happy Days and The Love Boat, as well as appearances by songbirds Dinah Shore and Rosemary Clooney. And Yogi Bear!

The Thanksgiving special features Bob Hope and the Hudson Brothers, who join the Boone girls for a disco dance floor showcase. Among the heart-warming songs performed by Pat, Debby and the sisters are “Can’t Smile Without You,” “You Needed Me” and “Bless This House.” The DVD is packed with bonus material, including The Pat Boone Family: Christmas in Bethlehem, Christmas carols and a Boone family photo album.

We lights up our life!

The fascinating history behind Shakespeare’s greatest plays concludes with “Shakespeare Uncovered: Series 3”

To be or not to be . . . the owner of Shakespeare Uncovered: Series 3 (PBS Distribution). The answer is obvious: Be!

The fascinating history behind Shakespeare’s greatest plays concludes with celebrated new hosts Helen Hunt, F. Murray Abraham, Romola Garai, Brian Cox, Simon Russell Beale and Sir Antony Sher who seamlessly weave their personal passions with history, biography, iconic performances and new analysis to tell the stories behind Shakespeare’s most famous works. The final season investigates Much Ado About Nothing, The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, Julius Caesar, The Winter’s Tale and Richard III.

The program reveals not just the elements in the play, but the history of the play itself. What sparked the creation of each of these works? Where did Shakespeare find his plots and what new forms of theater did he forge? What cultural, political and religious factors influenced his writing? How have the plays been staged and interpreted from Shakespeare’s time to now? Why at different times has each play been popular — or ignored? Why has this body of work endured so thoroughly? What, in the end, makes Shakespeare unique.

PBS Distribution releases “Masterpiece: Poldark 4”

Masterpiece: Poldark, the rip-roaring TV drama called “swoon-worthy” by the Los Angeles Times returns for a fourth season of action-packed episodes, starring Aidan Turner as the roguish Ross Poldark and Eleanor Tomlinson as his fiery partner, Demelza. In Season 4, it’s 1796, and to defend Cornwall and those he loves from an empowered George, Ross must play the political game on a journey that takes him to the nation’s capital and into new perils.

“American Experience: The Circus” celebrates the daze of popular entertainment

Send in the clowns! And elephants and trapeze artists and jugglers and, of course, the ring master.

American Experience: The Circus (PBS Distribution) is a four-hour, two-part documentary exploring the colorful history of this popular, influential and distinctly American form of entertainment.  A transformative place for reinvention, where young women could become lion tamers and young men traveled the world as roustabouts, the circus allowed people to be liberated from the roles assigned by society and find an accepting community that had eluded them elsewhere.

Drawing upon a vast and richly visual archive, and featuring a host of performers, historians and aficionados, The Circus brings to life an era when Circus Day would shut down a town, its stars were among the most famous people in the country, and multitudes gathered to see the improbable and the impossible, the exotic and the spectacular.

The program begins with the history (Part One) of the first one-ring show at the end of the 18th century in Philadelphia when the circus met the disapproval of the religious. In a society that valued sobriety and hard work, a wide-eyed day peering at half-naked aerialists amid shifty circus workers was frowned upon. Soon, circuses began to add elaborate menageries of exotic animals including lions, hippos and elephants, and “human oddities” from across the globe—rebranding themselves as “educational” experiences to concerned communities. Once the infamous showman and huckster P. T. Barnum transformed the trade in 1871, he and his partners created the largest touring show in existence.

The program continues (Part Two) as James Bailey takes his circus to Europe on a five-year tour. When the show paraded through British streets for the first time, throngs of people turned up to watch—and the scene was repeated in towns across Europe. Upon returning the circus tour to the U.S. the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey merged, creating a moving town of more than 1100 people, 735 horses, nearly 1000 other animals and 28 tents.

Featured were some of the most storied circus performers in history, including the famed aerialist Lillian Leitzel; May Worth, who stunned audiences by somersaulting on horseback; and big cat trainer Mabel Stark. In an era when women were still fighting for the right to vote, women circus performers stepped to the forefront of the suffrage movement.

For more than a century, the circus had brought daily life to a standstill. Shows took over rail yards. Parades clogged Main Street. Acres of billowing canvas appeared mirage-like on the outskirts of town. And then, when day broke, the miracle had vanished. Equestrians, sideshow performers, clowns, roustabouts, an enormous collection of curious beasts—all became just figments of a glorious dream.

Art21’s “Art in the Twenty-First Century” underscores what great art (and a great Peabody Award-winning series) is all about

The ninth season of Art21’s Art in the Twenty-First Century underscores what great art (and a great Peabody Award-winning series) is all about. Season 9 charts art making in three urban centers-–Berlin, Johannesburg and the San Francisco Bay Area-–featuring twelve artists and one non-profit art center who each respond to the forces shaping the places where they live and work, while pursuing their personal visions for a better future.

Viewers will travel the world with Art21 to be inspired by the creative processes of today’s most compelling artists in the ninth season of the series gives viewers unprecedented access to the leading creative minds of our time, drawing upon artists’ relationships with the places in which they work.

Wilkie Collins’ classic “The Woman in White” is delivered by PBS Distribution

We have loved the works of Wilkie Collins ever since we discovered him years ago. We were excited when we found out that PBS Distribution will release the DVD The Woman in White, based on his 19th century mystery novel , on November 6. This five-part screen adaptation brings to life the secrets, mistaken identities, surprise revelations, amnesia, locked rooms and asylums, that made this mystery thriller an instant success when it was published in 1868.

The program begins when Walter Hartright (played by Ben Hardy), a young drawing master, encounters a spectral woman dressed all in white on a moonlit road on Hampstead Heath. After offering his assistance to the strange woman, he is shocked to discover that she has just escaped from a nearby insane asylum. The encounter draws him into a web of mystery and deception that transforms his life forever.

Shortly afterwards, Walter takes up a teaching position in the Cumbrian village of Limmeridge. There, he meets his pupils-–the clever, bold Marian Halcombe (Jessie Buckley), and the beautiful, sweet-natured Laura Fairlie (Olivia Vinall). Walter notices that Laura bears an uncanny resemblance to the mysterious woman in white, who was known to the household as Anne Catherick (also Olivia Vinall): a mentally disabled child who grew up in the village. Over the next few months, Walter and Laura fall deeply in love. However, she is promised in marriage to Sir Percival Glyde (Dougray Scott), a charming local Baronet with a secret he will do anything to protect.

Soon after the wedding, Glyde’s true cruel nature begins to emerge. Conspiring with his companion, the compelling and Machiavellian Count Fosco, he enacts a terrible plan to access his new wife’s considerable fortune. Marian and Walter toil to rescue Laura and expose the unscrupulous, scheming masterminds and their twisted conspiracy.

FYI: For those who have npot heard of Collins, look him up. His books are public domain. The Woman in White  is widely considered to be among the first mystery novels; written in 1859, it was considered a commercial success and cultural sensation at the time.

Robbie Robertson narrates the riveting “Native America”

Save the date: On November 6,  PBS Distribution releases Native America, a new series from Providence Pictures, that weaves history and science with living indigenous traditions. The series brings to life a land of massive cities connected by social networks spanning two continents, with unique and sophisticated systems of science, art and writing. Made with the active participation of Native American communities and filmed in some of the most spectacular locations in the hemisphere, the program illuminates the splendor of a past whose story has for too long remained untold.

Narrated by Robbie Robertson (Mohawk and member of the famed rock group The Band), each part of Native America explores Great Nations and reveals cities, sacred stories and history long hidden in plain sight. In what is now America’s Southwest, indigenous people built stone skyscrapers with untold spiritual power and transformed deserts into fertile fields. In upstate New York, warriors renounced war and formed America’s first democracy 500 years before the Declaration of Independence, later inspiring Benjamin Franklin. Just outside of Mexico City, the ancient city of Teotihuacan is home to massive pyramids built to align with the sun and moon. On the banks of the Mississippi, rulers also raised a metropolis of pyramids and drew thousands to their new city to worship the sky. And in the American West, nomadic tribes transformed a weapon of conquest—the horse—into a new way of life, turning the tables on European invaders and building a mobile empire.

The producers of the program were given remarkable access to Native American communities, going behind the scenes at special events, including a pilgrimage to ancestral ruins at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, a trek across lost territories in the American West and an investiture ceremony for a chief in the Pacific Northwest, surrounded by cedar totem poles and centuries of tradition. Numerous Native American musicians provided music for the series and tribal members and descendant communities, whose ancestors built this world, share their stories, revealing long-held oral traditions as the thread that runs through the past to these living cultures today.

Shout! Factory to release “The Sound of Music Live”

Doe a deer.

Those three words instantly bring the Rodgers & Hammerstein’s beloved classic The Sound of Music comes to mind.

And this November, Shout! brings The Sound of Music Live, the ambitious, live-broadcast production from BAFTA-nominated director Coky Giedroyc, to DVD and Blu-ray.   Save the date: The discs will arrive on November 6, just in time for the holidays.

The musical, celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2019, has become a favorite of families the world over with such perennially classic and unforgettable songs as “The Sound of Music,” “Edelweiss,” “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” and “My Favorite Things”. The Sound of Music Live, destined to become a new family chestnut, brings this beloved and timeless story to lavish life with a cinematically staged production featuring three soundstages and more than150 period costumes, all stunningly shot with 17 cameras.
In the new production, Kara Tointon delivers a “mesmerizing performance and incredible vocal talents” as Maria, the tomboyish nun who reluctantly becomes the governess for seven children living in the shadow of their stern widower father (played by Julian Ovenden). Along with her required duties, Maria brings love, music and excitement back into the children’s lives . . . and also eventually begins to have an effect on their father. But just when things are looking up, the rise of Nazism and the looming threat of war darkens their future.
Supported by Katherine Kelly as Baroness Elsa Schraeder and Alexander Armstrong as Max Detweiler, The Sound of Music Live-— which also features “How Can Love Survive” a song not in the original movie but part of the stage show since 1959—is an enchanting experience that will remain with audiences long after the last curtain call.

A sampling of St. Martin’s Press new releases . . actors, rock ‘n roll, cake and the biggest liar since Nixon

Fear not.
There’s another great book  about Adolph Frump: Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride: The Thrills, Chills, Screams, and Occasional Blackout of an Extraordinary Presidency($28.99). CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett  shares his unique insider’s perspective in this authoritative and entertaining account of the most important and wide-reaching events of the asshole’s first year in office. Mr. Trump's Wild Ride: The Thrills, Chills, Screams, and Occasional Blackouts of an Extraordinary PresidencyAs Entertainment Weekly wrote in a preview of the book, “CBS News’ Major Garrett is a more careful journalist than Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff, but the conceit of his book—the first year in the Trump White House—is similar enough to have us plenty intrigued.”


Just because we can’t stand him doesn’t mean William Shatner shouldn’t have even more attention paid to him. After a brief health scare in 2016, the veteran actor offers one piece of advice to live a long and good life: Don’t die.
Live Long And . . .: What I Learned Along the WayIn Live Long And…: What I Learned Along the Way, he uses a combination of pithy humor and thoughtful vulnerability to reflect on his unique and fascinating life. Booklist says, ” . . . fans will enjoy Shatner’s musings on his passions and adventures.”


Just how much does Jeff Bridges like his friend, Gary Busey’s, new book? “Get to know Gary Busey, who once told me he was an angel in an earth suit. Indeed he is, giving us messages he’s received from on high, messages that inspire and support us in living a beautiful fulfilled life. Get to know my dear friend Gary Busey, read Buseyisms.”
Professional actor and semi-professional wildman Busey has done more things in his life, ranging from the impressive to the insane, than most people have done in ten lifetimes, and he’s still going.

Through it all, Busey has kept a positive outlook, even as he’s endured more extreme highs and lows then one would think possible. He’s rubbed elbows with cinema legends, partied with the rich and famous, and even toured with a hit band. It’s all in Buseyisms: Gary Busey’s Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth ($24.99), along with some sage words from a real character.


Regarded as one of the greatest drummers of all time, Kenney Jones has seen it all, played with everyone, and partied with all of them. He’s enjoyed the highs, battled the lows, and emerged in one piece.
Let the Good Times Roll: My Life in Small Faces, Faces, and The WhoLet the Good times Roll ($29.99) is the long-awaited memoir of the legendary drummer’s life and times in the bands Small Faces, Faces and The Who. Jones has penned a breathtaking immersion into music past that leaves readers feeling as if they lived it too.SS moving memoir from one of ESPN’s top football reporters, Kirkus Rviews says that Adam Schefter’s The Man I Never Met “is affecting not only for the story it tells of how the author learned to honor his wife’s husband as ‘the fifth member of [his] family,’ but also for how it shows a man growing into a mature understanding of the true meaning of love and sacrifice.” The Man I Never Met: A Memoir|
Super Bowl-winning coach and author Tony Dungy calls  “a story every American should read” and New York Times bestselling author Mitch Albom hails this memoir as, “A fresh and triumphant take on the aftermath of 9/11.”


The duo behind Delicious Poke Cakes and Delicious Dump Cakes is back with another book of quick and easy desserts. Delicious Bundt Cakes: More Than 100 New Recipes for Timeless Favorites
In Delicious Bundt Cakes, ($19.99), Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore unlock the secret of the Bundt cake. The book features more than 100 recipe—made completely from scratch, as well as recipes based on boxed cake mixes—and color photos throughout, along with all the hints and tips you’ll need to make a spectacular Bundt cake every time.  Chocolate Peanut Butter Tunnel Bundt Cake anyone?