Category Archives: TV

Amazon’s new kiddie show, “The Stinky & Dirty Show”, teaches wee ones to never give up

Kids love things dirty and stinky and yucky and mucky. Think of mudpies, puddle jumping, food fights. (Now that I think of it, many adults like such messy moments.) We are sure that the new Amazon Original Kids Series, The Stinky & Dirty Show, premiering on September 2, is going to be a five-star winner, even if mudpies, puddle jumping and food fights are reserved for the older folks.
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Based on the popular  I Stink! books by Kate & Jim McMullan, garbage truck Stinky (voiced by Jaden Betts) and backhoe loader Dirty (voiced by Jacob Guenther) are a dynamic and hilarious duo who use critical thinking, creativity and resourcefulness to help their other best friends and the town of Go City. There’s no problem too big for the best friends; when things don’t go as expected, they know asking “what if” can lead to success.  Stinky & Dirty teach our kids values that they should be learning at an early age. They will learn to never give up, and this is reinforced by negotiation and social problem solving.

The series features original music from Dan Bern and celebrity voice talent, including Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Lynch, Andy Richter, Joan Cusack and Wallace Shawn.

The pilot episode, rated 4.8 stars by customers with 86% 5-star reviews, is available to stream and download now, with nine additional episodes to debut next month, exclusively for Prime members via the Amazon Video app for TVs, connected devices including Fire TV, mobile devices and online—Prime members can also download the series to mobile devices for offline viewing.

“The popular books have laid the groundwork for a beautifully inspiring television series for preschoolers that instills one of the most important life skills—resourcefulness,”  coos Tara Sorensen, Head of Kids Programming at Amazon Studios. “We are thrilled to bring to our customers, who embraced the pilot, a full season of The Stinky & Dirty Show and are proud be collaborating with Kate, Jim, Guy and Jessica as well as Dan Bern and a very recognizable celebrity voice cast on this upbeat and empowering show.”

The first season of The Stinky & Dirty Show will be available for Prime members to stream and enjoy using the Amazon Video app for TVs, connected devices including Amazon Fire TV, and mobile devices, or online at Amazon.com/originals, at no additional cost to their membership. Customers who are not already a Prime member can sign up for a free trial at www.amazon.com/prime. For a list of all Amazon Video compatible devices, visit www.amazon.com/howtostream. The Stinky & Dirty Show will also be available as part of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, the all-you-can-eat subscription service designed from the ground up for kids. FreeTime Unlimited is available exclusively on Amazon devices including Amazon Fire TV and Fire tablets, and a year-long subscription is included with every Fire Kids Edition.

 

Danny DeVito’s lost film and fan favorite, “The Ratings Game,” gets much-needed new life

Olive Films continues playing the game, and they remain the winner in the victorious game known as Rare, Forgotten and Lost Movies That Must Be Seen and Owned.

Witness: Commemorating the 30th anniversary of Showtime’s first original movie, The Ratings Game, actor-director Danny DeVito and producer David Jablin sought to finally bring their passion project to the home video market. “Being collectors of special edition discs of our favorite films, we decided that if we were going to do it at all, we’d want to give our ‘baby’ the same kind of loving treatment and do it in a way that would appeal to comedy fans and video collectors like ourselves,” says DeVito.

“In looking for a distributor, we specifically wanted a filmmaker-friendly company that would recognize and respect that this was a passion project for Danny and I and still is” explains Jablin. “It’s been great dealing with everyone at Olive who have truly cared about getting all the details right as much as we have. Danny had the one print ever made of the film for its 1984 big-screen premier party in storage all this time and Olive Films has done an absolutely beautiful job restoring it in full HD.”unnamed

See what we mean? Olive played, they won, Danny and David won. And we won.

In 1984, Showtime Networks made their first foray into original movies with The Ratings Game starring Danny DeVito and his wife Rhea Perlman. The hilarious and biting take-down of the ratings-obsessed network television industry, which also marked DeVito’s feature directing debut, was greeted with love-letter reviews from critics and fans alike. The feature also boasts an eclectic comedy ensemble with performances from Gerrit Graham, George Wendt, Vincent Schiavelli, Ronny Graham, Steve Allen, Huntz Hall, Michael Richards and Jerry Seinfeld. Unfortunately, after its premiere, the film slipped through the cracks of the network’s slowly evolving distribution channels and fell into obscurity as a result, “except with its many fans who continue to hound us for copies to this day” adds Jablin.

MV5BMTkxNjYwMjA0NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjgwODI0NDE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_With some notoriously bad, foreign-made bootleg versions floating around under the name The Mogul, the film has remained essentially lost for more than 30 years. “The mere existence of those totally crap bootleg copies really stuck in our craw and definitely motivated us to set the record straight and put out our film in all of its original glory,” adds DeVito.

In addition to the film itself, the DVD and Blu-ray includes a liner notes booklet with photos and art from the film, as well as a rare collection of four early short films directed by DeVito. “The bonus materials we included have also never been distributed on disc and were fan favorites from our early work,” says Jablin. Altogether they tell the story of Danny’s journey as a film director of distinction.”

Olive Signature releases two films in pristine prints and essential extras

Olive Films continues its tradition of releasing lost, little-known films . . . even films that have had DVD life, but are resurrected through 4Ks scan of original camera negatives and crammed with essentials extras.

The next titles to be included in Olive Signature, a new series of DVD & Blu-ray releases offering deluxe editions of time-honored classics, fan favorites and under-appreciated gems from the Olive catalog. Olive Signature titles feature pristine audio and video presentation and an abundance of bonus material that will delight fans, collectors, and cinephiles. They continue the series with two distinct, but beloved classics. Save the release date: October 25.

The Quiet Man (1952)unnamed (14)
Sean Thornton (portrayed by John Wayne), an American boxer with a tragic past, returns to the Irish town of his youth. There, he purchases his childhood home and falls in love with the fiery local lass, Mary Kate Danaher (the lovely Maureen O’Hara). But Kate’s insistence that Sean conduct his courtship in a proper Irish manner with matchmaker Michaleen Oge Flynn (Barry Fitzgerald) along for the ride as chaperone is but one obstacle to their future together; the other is her brother, “Red” Danaher (Victor McLaglen), who spitefully refuses to give his consent to their marriage, or to honor the tradition of paying a dowry to the husband. Sean couldn’t care less about dowries or any other tradition that might stand in the way of his happiness. But when Mary Kate accuses him of being a coward, Sean is finally ready to take matters into his own hands. The Quiet Man would go on to win two Academy Awards in 1953, including Best Director (John Ford) and Best Cinematography and received five more nominations including Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (McLaglen).
Bonus tracks abound!

  • Mastered from 4K scan of original camera negative
  • Audio commentary with John Ford biographer Joseph McBride
  • Tribute to Maureen O’Hara with Ally Sheedy, Hayley Mills and Juliet Mills
  • Don’t You Remember It, Seánín?: John Ford’s ‘The Quiet Man’ – A visual essay by historian and John Ford expert Tag Gallagher
  • Free Republic: The Story of Herbert J. Yates and Republic Pictures
  • The Old Man: Remembering John Ford – An appreciation of the director with Peter Bogdanovich
  • The Making of The Quiet Man – Written and hosted by Leonard Maltin

The Night of the Grizzly (1966)
Adventure is the name of the game in this action-packed, western-tinged adventure. Clint Walker stars as “Big Jim” Cole, a former lawman who trades his badge for rancher duds when he inherits land in Wyoming. But no sooner has the Cole family begun settling into their new life when nature—in the form of a blood-thirsty grizzly bearrears its ugly head. Adding to the terror and tension are a group of envious neighbors who want the Cole property for themselves, and the unwelcome return of an outlaw from Big Jim’s past who’s out for revenge.unnamed (15) Directed by Joseph Pevney, The Night of the Grizzly features a who’s-who of great character actors including Keenan Wynn, Jack Elam, Leo Gordon and Ron Ely.

  • New High-Definition digital restoration
  • Audio Commentary by film historian Toby Roan
  • Blood on the Claw: How Cheyenne Bodie Became a Movie Star – An essay by C. Courtney Joyner
  • The Legend of Big Jim Cole – Interview with Clint Walker
  • The Night of the Grizzly World Premiere archival footage
  • At Home with Clint Walker and His Home Gymnasium – Archival interview

Jonathan Tropper: “‘Banshee’ has been an incredible ride.” Save the date for the Blu-ray/DVD release of the final season

No one, nothing, did violence on the small screen as well (and bloody) as Cinemax’s Banshee. Die-hard fans—so die-hard they are called “Fanshees”—went into deep mourning when they learned the Emmy-winning action-packed series (ex-con assumes the identity of a small-town Pennsylvania sheriff deep in Amish country)—would be coming to an end.

A show source says that “we have not been canceled, but on the creative side, we have decided to end the show, basically because we were done telling the story. As Cinemax’s highest-rated show, no one was looking to cancel us. It was a creative decision. The premise was never meant to survive a long stretch. We all made the decision at the end of season three that we were going to make season four our grand finale.”
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Banshee co-creator Jonathan Tropper adds his take: “’Banshee’ has been an incredible ride, and we continue to break new ground in season four. While we certainly considered returning for a fifth season, I always said that when the story was told, it would be time to move on, and that time has come. I am grateful to Cinemax for making ‘Banshee’ the great success it has been and for supporting our creative decision to wrap things up.”

This leaves four electrifying seasons, now on Blu-ray and DVD, though Banshee: The Complete Fourth Season doesn’t arrive until October 4.  Sure to lift any “Fanshee” out of the doldrums, the three-disc sets are packed with behind-the-scenes extras including audio commentaries, exclusive deleted scenes, episode recaps, Banshee Origins (which tells the story behind the story with eight prequel videos featuring the cast of Banshee); Zoomed In Episodes 1–8 (an on the set feature highlighting how key, adrenaline-filled scenes were created); and specially-created cast retrospectives on “Best Fight Scenes” and “Job’s Best Outfits.”

Created by Tropper and David Schickler, Banshee charts the final twists and turns that follow Lucas Hood, an ex-convict who assumed the identity of sheriff in the Amish-area town Banshee, where his former lover and partner-in-crime was living under her own alias, Carrie Hopewell. The final season takes place two years after Lucas gave up his badge after a bloody, multi-million-dollar heist at the Camp Genoa Marine Base which proved costly: Carrie’s husband Gordon was killed, and Lucas’s longtime computer-hacker partner, Job, was abducted by a shady criminal ring.

After settling a score with a “recruiter” from Lucas’s past whom he hoped would have intel on Job, Lucas went on a bender before being rescued by an unlikely savior, Proctor’s niece.  Emerging from a self-imposed exile, Lucas returns to Banshee to find it a changed town. Brock Lotus is now sheriff, Kai Proctor is the mayor, and the old “Cadi” police station has been replaced by a state-of the-art facility.


A new deputy with ties to Proctor, Nina Cruz, has joined Brock’s team, along with Kurt Bunker, the skinhead-turned-deputy who continues to make amends for his dark past while fighting the racist overtures of the group led by his younger brother Calvin. After reuniting with Carrie, their daughter Deva, and ex-boxer Sugar Bates, Lucas becomes immersed in a new Banshee crisis: rooting out a vicious serial murderer whose latest victim is someone near and dear to his heart.

A bird? A plane? Nope. It’s Melissa Benoist and Supergirl flying onto Blu-ray and DVD

It’s a bird! it’s a plane! It’s Super . . . girl!

A new superhero will begin flying into homes on Tuesday, as Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases Supergirl: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray and DVD on August 9.  Fans can purchase the set which, in addition to all 20 exhilarating episodes, contains more than an hour of extra content, including the 2015 Comic-Con panel, featurettes, deleted scenes and a gag reel.


The show, starring Melissa Benoist as Supergirl, is a delightful high-soaring romp; it’s no surprise Supergirl was the winner of the 2016 People’s Choice Award for Favorite New TV Drama.

The plot is the stuff meant for the Daily Planet. Born on the doomed planet Krypton, Kara Zor-El escaped at the same time as her cousin, Superman, but didn’t arrive on Earth until years later after being lost in the Phantom Zone. Raised by her adopted family, the Danvers, Kara grew up in the shadow of her foster sister, Alex, and learned to hide the phenomenal powers she shares with her famous cousin.
107117_D0437bc_36a54143_566b7159c0be06.95399558Years later, at age 24, and now living in National City while working as an assistant for Catco Worldwide Media mogul Cat Grant, Kara has spent so many years trying to fit in that she forgot to ever stand out. All that changes when she decides to embrace her superhuman abilities and become the hero she was always destined to be. With the help of Daily Planet photographer James Olsen, her bioengineer sister Alex, and the research of the super-secret, off-the-grid Department of Extra-Normal Operations (DEO), who are tasked with keeping the Earth safe from aliens, Kara takes to the skies to protect her world.

 

106641_D_0833r_dd5a9040_566b70f8251f06.86574174In addition to Melissa Benoist, Supergirl  stars Chyler Leigh, Mehcad Brooks, Jeremy Jordan, David Harewood and Calista Flockhart.  Season One guest stars include Dean Cain, Peter Facinelli, Jenna Dewan Tatum, Laura Benanti and Helen Slater.  Die-hard Superman fans will know at least two of the guest stars make appearances!

We leave with some insight into how Melissa Benoist plays Supergirl; she knows young people look up to her, so she is careful how she plays her character, keeping a certain purity and goodness in your performance.

“I think that’s the driving force behind her. That makes it easy because I always know what to fall back on when I’m playing Supergirl. She does get angry, she does have flaws. But what ultimately is the most important about her is that she always finds the silver lining. She always finds a way to be heroic and good and pure at heart. So, there’s a pressure, but it’s something that’s kind of constant about her that I rely on.”

 

“Confirmation” revisits the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings with grit and power

It only takes one voice to change history. Let’s discuss Anita Hill and her powerful voice.
In July 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated Judge Clarence Thomas to fill Justice Thurgood Marshall’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. In October, during the final days of Thomas’ confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, both Newsday and NPR broke the story that one of Thomas’ former employees, law professor Anita Hill, had accused him of sexually harassing her 10 years earlier. These revelations triggered a maelstrom of events, with both Hill and Thomas testifying about the allegations before a stunned and riveted television audience.

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Kerry Washington as Anita Hill; Wendell Pierce as Clarence Thomas
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The real Thomas and Hill

History has been revisited in the HBO Home Entertainment TV movie Confirmation, now on DVD with Digital HD and Blu-ray with Digital HD. The film details the explosive Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination hearings, which brought the country to a standstill and forever changed the way we think about sexual harassment, victims’ rights and modern-day race relations. It looks behind the curtain of Washington politics, depicting a pivotal moment in American culture that became a turning point in workplace equality and gender politics.

The HBO Film was nominated for two 2016 Emmy Awards including Outstanding Television Movie and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie (Kerry Washington as Anita Hill).

The Blu-ray and DVD releases include brief discussions with Washington and Pierce on the historical impact of the hearings as well as “Character Spot” featuring cast members discussing the character they play.

Save the date! “All the Way” gets our vote as best TV movie of the year

“Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men’s skins, emancipation will be a proclamation, but not a fact.” – Lyndon B. Johnson
Yes, Hillary will win, but put aside that lovely thought . . . just for a moment. As race relations and presidential politics continue to be top-of-mind, hot-button issues, HBO will be bring the Emmy-nominated All the Way to Blu-ray and DVD on September 6. Recently nominated for eight Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Television Movie and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie (Bryan Cranston, who reprises his Tony-winning role), the powerful film underscores the fact that as much as things change, they remain the same.

All the Way is a riveting behind-the-scenes look at President Lyndon B. Johnson’s tumultuous first year in office in the wake of President Kennedy’s assassination. Witness LBJ during his early administration, as he stakes his presidency on what would be an historic, unprecedented Civil Rights Act. Johnson finds himself caught between the moral imperative of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the expectations of the southern Democratic Party leaders who brought Johnson to power. As King battles to press Johnson while controlling more radical elements of the Civil Rights movement, Johnson navigates the bill through Congress, winning a landslide victory against Barry Goldwater, but causing the South to defect from the Democratic Party.
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Bryan Cranston is brilliant; joining him in pivotal roles are Anthony Mackie as Martin Luther King, Jr., Melissa Leo as Lady Bird Johnson, Bradley Whitford as Hubert Humphrey, Stephen Root as J. Edgar Hoover and Frank Langella as Sen. Richard Russell.
You may now return your thoughts to Hillary.

Liam Neeson narrates a fascinating documentary on the Irish Rebellion

It’s a great day for the Irish. Yet it wasn’t always so great. On Easter Monday 1916, a small group of Irish rebels including poets, teachers, actors and workers took on the might of the British Empire. Although defeated militarily, the men and women of the Easter Rising would soon win a moral victory with their actions leading to the creation of an independent Irish State and contributing to the eventual disintegration of the British Empire. They have inspired countless freedom struggles throughout the world from Ireland to India.

Welcome to PBS Distribution’s 1916: The Irish Rebellion on DVD. Narrated by acclaimed actor and Irish native Liam Neeson, and directed by award-winning Irish documentary directors, Ruán Magan and Pat Collins, the three-episode series commemorates this seminal event with a combination of rarely seen archival footage, new segments filmed on location worldwide, and interviews with leading international experts. The documentary also uncovers the untold story of the central role Irish Americans played in the lead-up to the rebellion that would change the course of Irish history.

Called a “thoroughly engaging history lesson” by The Irish Times, the film was produced to coincide with the international celebration of the centenary of the Easter rising. The program aired on American Public Television (APT) in the United States and Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) and the British Broadcasting Corp, and a shorter version will be screened globally at Irish embassies throughout the world.

Éirinn go Brách!

“Person of Interest” comes to an end . . . and what an ending says Michael Emerson

All things come to an end. Even great things. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has released Person of Interest: The Complete Fifth and Final Season on Blu-ray and DVD.  This is the end of one of television’s most compelling, action-packed, crime dramas. 

For years, the Person of Interest team, consisting of tech genius Harold Finch (Michael Emerson), ex-agent John Reese (Jim Caviezel), NYPD Detective Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman), cyber-hacker Root (Amy Acker) and missing-in-action operative Sameen Shaw (Sarah Shahi), have been protected by The Machine. As worlds collided, however, and a rival AI known as Samaritan finally cornered The Machine inside the nation’s power grid, it was the POI team’s turn to protect Finch’s creation.

 In season five, the cold war is over. The world might appear to look the same, but something has drastically changed. Samaritan’s lethal “correction” has initiated its control. Finch’s Machine is essentially dead. Shaw is still missing. And the team is once again hiding in plain sight. But with Samaritan’s invisible grip tightening everywhere, will Finch be able to rebuild and resurrect The Machine? And if he does, will it be the same Machine when it comes back online?

We wonder what Michael Emerson (best-known for his theater work, including a great run as Oscar Wilde in Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde and a greater Willie Oban in The Iceman Cometh), feels about Person of Interest ending.

“I feel good. I think we were surprised when we first heard that it was coming to an end,” he says. “You always think that as long as your ratings are high, you’re good to go. But it doesn’t necessarily always play out that way. There were other kinds of concerns and such.  Once we got used to the idea, and when they said, ‘We’re just going to shoot 13,’ somewhere in my heart there was a leap of joy because I thought, ‘Praise God. I think I can get through 13.’ I wasn’t sure I could do another 22.”

As for the way the series ended? “Oh, that’s alright. That’s a human ending, not some contrivance or irony or device. I’m really pleased with it and at peace with it and so happy that I’m not still out there shooting,” he adds.

Stephen King, James Franco and a dead Kennedy make for riveting TV

It’s a question most people can readily answer: Where were you when JFK was shot? And almost everyone remembers Walter Cronkite wiping away tears while reporting the tragic news.

Imagine having the power to change history. Willing? Then journey back to 11.22.63.  The Hulu original series stars James Franco as Jake Epping, a high-school teacher at a loss with his life, who wants to make a difference and do something meaningful. Encouraged by his ailing friend (the wonderful, but aging Chris Cooper), Jake journeys back in time to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The story transports audiences into the world of ’60s Texas as Jake explores the multiple mysteries surrounding the alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald (Daniel Webber).

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Lee Harvey Oswald, recreated by the brilliant Daniel Webber

But Jake’s mission faces threats not only from Oswald, but from Sadie (Sarah Gadon), a beautiful librarian he falls in love with, and from the past itself . . . which doesn’t want to be changed. And if the Past doesn’t want to be changed, it will push back­ often violently. With something for everyone, this edge-of-your seat mystery offers an epic and emotional thrill ride as viewers hurtle deep into the unpredictable darkness of the American dream.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s release of 11.22.63 is on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.  Executive Produced by Emmy winner J.J. Abrams, Stephen King, Bridget Carpenter and Kevin Macdonald, the event series includes all 8 episodes as well as a brand new featurette. The series is based upon the New York Times best-selling 2011 novel written by King.