Category Archives: Uncategorized

June is busting’out all over, and PBS releases a slew of must-see, must-own DVDs

June will be bustin’ out all over, and when it does, get ready for some exciting new DVD releases from PBS Distribution. Let us share some of the news . . .

Nature: Natural Born Rebels (available June 5)
From a promiscuous prairie dog to a kleptomaniac crab and an alpha chimpanzee who reigns with an iron fist, this three-part series introduces the most rebellious animals in the natural world. But are these creatures really breaking bad?

Across the world, new studies are uncovering an astonishing variety of rebellious animal behaviors, and despite how it appears on the surface, researchers are discovering the complex and fascinating science behind why these animals behave the way they do. In fact, being a rebel could be the key to success in the wild.

Secrets of the Dead: Hannibal in the Alps (available June 5)
Hannibal, one of history’s most famous generals, achieved what the Romans thought to be impossible. With a vast army of 30,000 troops, 15,000 horses and 37 war elephants, he crossed the mighty Alps in only 16 days to launch an attack on Rome from the north.

For more than 2,000 years, nobody has been able to prove which of the four possible routes Hannibal took across the Alps, and no physical evidence of Hannibal’s army has ever been found until now. In this program, viewers will follow a team of experts–explorers, archaeologists and scientists–combine state-of-the-art technology, ancient texts, and a recreation of the route itself to prove conclusively where Hannibal’s army made it across the Alps – and exactly how he did it.

Chinese Exclusion Act (available June 5)
On May 6th, 1882, on the eve of the greatest wave of immigration in American history, President Chester A. Arthur signed into law a unique piece of federal legislation.  Called the Chinese Exclusion Act, it singled out as never before a specific race and nationality for exclusion–making it illegal for Chinese workers to come to America–and for Chinese nationals already here to become citizens of the United States.

A deeply American story, this program examines the economic, cultural, social, legal, racial and political dimensions of the law; the forces and events that gave rise to it; and the effect it had, and continues to have, on American culture and identity.

The Jazz Ambassadors (available June 19)
The Cold War and Civil Rights movement collide in this remarkable story of music, diplomacy, and race. In 1955, as the Soviet Union’s pervasive propaganda about the U.S. and American racism spread globally, African-American Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., convinced President Eisenhower that jazz was the best way to intervene in the Cold War cultural conflict. For the next decade, America’s most influential jazz artists, including Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Dave Brubeck, along with their racially-integrated bands, traveled the globe to perform as cultural ambassadors.

But the unrest back home forced them to face a painful moral dilemma: how could they promote the image of a tolerant America abroad when the country still practiced Jim Crow segregation and racial equality remained an unrealized dream? Told through striking archival film footage, photos, and radio clips, with iconic performances throughout, this program reveals how the U.S. State Department unwittingly gave the burgeoning Civil Rights movement a major voice on the world stage just when it needed one most.

Nova: Decoding the Weather Machine (available June 26)
Disastrous hurricanes. Widespread droughts and wildfires. Pervasive heat. Extreme rainfall. It’s not hard to conclude that something’s up with the weather – and many scientists agree this trend in the weather is not just a coincidence. It’s the result of the weather machine itself–the earth’s climate changing, becoming hotter and more erratic.  Climate change is arguably the defining challenge of this century, yet widespread misunderstanding and misinformation has hampered the public’s ability to understand the science and address the issue. In this program, viewers will cut through the confusion and help define the way forward.

Why do scientists overwhelmingly agree that the climate is changing, and that human activity is causing it? How will it affect the world through the weather we experience, and when? And what will it take to bend the trajectory of planetary warming toward more benign outcomes? Join scientists around the globe on a quest to better understand the workings of the weather and climate machine we call Earth and discover how they are finding that we can be resilient – even thrive – in the face of enormous change.

Going to War
War is the ultimate paradox. Filled with terror, pain, and grief, it brings exhilaration, and a profound sense of purpose. This program provides an insight that helps viewers make sense of this paradox and get to the heart of what it’s like to be a soldier in times of war. The film illuminates the experiences of training, battle, and coming home for soldiers across conflicts, revealing the universals of the warrior’s journey.

Leading the exploration are Sebastian Junger, bestselling author and director of the Academy Award-nominated film Restrepo, and Karl Marlantes, decorated Marine officer and author of the bestselling novel Matterhorn and the fearless memoir What It is Like to Go to War. Both men bring firsthand experience, hard-won wisdom, and an abiding commitment to telling the warrior’s story with insight and unflinching candor.

Just how queer does cinema get? Film Movement releases, for the first time on Blu-ray, Derek Jarman’s stunning “Edward II”

There are so many ways to celebrate Gay Pride, but nothing deserves first place other than Edward II, the new Queer Cinema landmark film that Film Movement is making available for the first time on Blu-Ray in a stunning digitally restored version. This special edition includes the featurette “Derek’s Edward” and an essay by filmmaker Bruce LaBruce with a prologue by Tilda Swinton. Celebrate the flick on June 12, when it flies into stores.

In 1593, Christopher Marlowe penned Edward II, based on the life of Britain’s only openly gay monarch. In 1991, legendary artist and director, Derek Jarman radically adapted the Elizabethan drama in a highly-stylized feature starring Jarman and Oscar-winner Tilda Swinton and Steven Waddington.
Jarman’s postmodern adaptation delivers filmgoers to the court of Plantagenet King Edward II (portrayed by Waddington), a weak gay monarch with a tenuous grasp on the throne. The stage is set for palace revolt when the King rejects his wife, Queen Isabella (Swinton), and takes a male lover, the ambitious commoner Piers Gaveston (Andrew Tiernan) upon whom he bestows gifts and power. The spurned Queen and the sober court officials become enraged and the plotting begins in this festival favorite, a Golden Lion nominee at Venice, called “intelligent and striking” and a “phantasmagoric, outrageously stylized interpretation”. With anachronistic imagery, gay activists battling riot police and a rare film appearance by Annie Lennox singing Cole Porter’s 1944 classic “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye,” the story of Edward and the persecution he suffered is given contemporary resonance in one of Jarman’s most powerful and personal films. He died in 1994, at the age of 52.

Andrew Lloyd Webber becomes “Unmasked,” dropping names and sharing tales both serious and snarky

“I have long resisted writing an autobiography,” coos Andrew Lloyd Webber. “Autobiographies are by definition self-serving and mine is no exception. It is the result of my nearest and dearest, moaning at me ‘to tell your story your way.’ I meekly agreed, primarily to shut them up. Consequently this tome is not my fault. I intended to write my memoirs in one volume and I have failed spectacularly. Quite how I have been able to be so verbose about the most boring person I have ever written about eludes me.”

Published to coincide with his 70th birthday (on March 22), Unmasked: A Memoir (Harper, $28.99) is a candid memoir by the legendary composer,  recounts his fascinating life and remarkable career.

Image result for andrew lloyd webber

Norma Desmond would say it was “big.” Like her pictures.

A natural storyteller, with his signature humor and self-deprecating tone, Webber shares the details of his early personal and professional years, including his early artistic influences. In the book, Webber takes stock of his achievements, the twists of fate and circumstance which brought him both success and disappointment, and the passions that inspire and sustain him.

A record of several exciting and turbulent decades of British and American musical theater and the transformation of popular music itself, Unmaked is ultimately a chronicle of artistic creation. Lloyd Webber looks back at the development of some of his most famous works and illuminates his collaborations with luminaries such as Tim Rice, Robert Stigwood, Harold Prince, Cameron Mackintosh and Trevor Nunn. Taking us behind the scenes of his productions, Lloyd Webber reveals fascinating details about each show, including the rich cast of characters involved with making them, and the creative and logistical challenges and artistic political battles that ensued.

Image result for andrew lloyd webber

Reflecting a life that included many passions (from architecture to Turkish Van swimming cats), full of witty and revealing anecdotes, and featuring cameo appearances by numerous celebrities–Elaine Paige, Sarah Brightman, David Frost, Judi Dench, A.R. Rahman, Mandy Patinkin, Richard Rodgers, Placido Domingo, Barbra Streisand, Michael Crawford, Betty Buckley–Unmasked at last reveals the true face of the extraordinary man beneath the storied legend. Make sure you check out the snarky Liza Minnelli “stories.”

Image result for andrew lloyd webber

Full of colorful characters, rich storytelling and illustrated with 16 pages of color photos, Unmaksed provides unique insight into the life of the man who has entertained millions of audiences around the world with his music.

“The Read Mad Men of Advertising” provides an inside look into the men and women who re-invented the advertising industry

Ah, men. Real men. Who know how to sell. Anything. Public Media Distribution has released the Smithsonian Channel series The Read Mad Men of Advertising on DVD. The series provides an inside look into the men and women who re-invented the advertising industry from post-WWII America through the ’80s. Driven by memorable, classic ad campaigns, many of which are in the collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the series also features clips and interviews with the creators of the groundbreaking series Mad Men.

In 2015, the National Museum of American History accepted a donation of artifacts, costumes and props from the series Mad Men against the backdrop of actual advertising history as displayed in its exhibition, American Enterprise. The Real Mad Men of Advertising uses these museum objects to explore the fascinating commercials and ad campaigns of mid-century America. Ads from Howdy Doody to MTV reveal the impact of commercial culture, while clips and interviews with Mad Men cast and crew members offer a glimpse into the meticulously constructed world of the iconic series.

Related image

Their stories are set alongside interviews with the real ad men and women of the ’50s through the ’80s–from the top ad creators of the ’50s to Brooke Shields, who as a teen model was the centerpiece of a controversial early ’80s Calvin Klein ad campaign.

 

 

Never use Shutterfly. They are a scam. A true story.

Christmas 2017.

A pathological liar, racist, misogynist, homophobe and xenophobe “heads” the country.

Shutterfly heads the scam process.

Let me explain.
On November 25, I ordered a personalized photo pillow as a gift.
It never arrived.
I complained to Shutterfly, spoke to an outsourced (!)  woman in some foreign country who could barely speak English. She had another sent.
It never arrived.
A third one was sent. It never arrived.
They never arrived to the legitimate Boston PO Box to which they were addressed; they were delivered to Tempe, Arizona.

Here is the tracking information for one pillow:

Delivered

  • TEMPE, AZ
    DEC 14

    OUT FOR DELIVERY TODAY
    TEMPE, AZ
    DEC 12

  •  

    PROCESSING FOR DELIVERY
    Tempe, AZ
    DEC 12

I learned that UPS is not legally allowed to deliver to the USPS (a post office), yet Shutterfly refuses to acknowledge they did something wrong.
Shutterfly bookmaking
The Tempe, AZ scam room.
As a noted journalist since 1979, I contacted Nicole Steir, who is listed as the “media representative.” Emails were sent to  and nstier@shutterfly.com. Her photo is below, stolen from Linked IN. (That site descibes her as “Director, Public Relations & Corporate Communications/Shutterfly Inc./ – Present (3 years)”
She refused to return my calls and refused to answer my emails. Instead, she had someone named Levy Hamilton call me from South Carolina. He refused to leave a message on my machine. 
Nicole (Bender) Stier

Even a cursory web search  will lead you to the ONE STAR reviews Shutterfly has received. [Read them here: resellerratings.com/store/Shutterfly]

As a way to doing damage control, CEO Christopher North has been heading south . . . he has Shutterfly “Donating” and “giving away” $10,000 checks to various guests on Ellen DeGeneres’ show. Anything to make Shutterfly look good.

 

Their website claims their mission is “Make the world a better place by helping people share life’s joy.”

Bullshit! That’s why we refer to them as Shitterfly, away.

Edgar Allan Poe dead? Nonsense. He’s “Buried Alive”. Just ask Denis O’Hare and Kathleen Turner

No wonder we love Edgar Allan Poe’s works . . . the Gothic gems deal with questions of death, including its physical signs, the effects of decomposition, concerns of premature burial, the reanimation of the dead and mourning.

No surprise we ate PBS Distribution’s American Master: Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive. Missed it on TV? It’s now on DVD. Written and directed by Eric Stange, this new documentary draws on the rich palette of Poe’s evocative imagery and sharply drawn plots to tell the real story of the notorious author.

Starring Tony-winning and Emmy-nominated actor Denis O’Hare  and narrated by Oscar- and Tony-nominated, two-time Golden Globe-winner Kathleen Turner, the program explores the misrepresentations of Poe as a drug-addled madman akin to the narrators of his horror stories. This caricature is thanks, in large part, to a high-profile obituary filled with falsehoods, written by his literary rival Rufus W. Griswold. Determined to re-invent American literature, Poe was an influential–and brutally honest–literary critic and magazine editor, who also invented the detective protagonist with his character C. Auguste Dupin, refined the science fiction genre and popularized short stories, actually writing more comedies than horror.

An orphan in search of family, love and literary fame, Poe struggled with alcoholism and was also a product of early 19th century American urban life: depressed from the era’s culture of death due to the high mortality rate and the struggles of living in poverty. Poe famously died under mysterious circumstances and his cause of death remains unknown.

Image result for allan poe

Filmed in Boston Harbor’s historic Fort Independence at Castle Island, this program combines dramatized re-enactments with O’Hare of key moments in Poe’s life, readings from Poe’s works by O’Hare, Oscar-nominated actor Chris Sarandon and actor Ben Schnetzer, and interviews with authors including Marilynne Robinson, Matthew Pearl, Jeffrey Meyers and Zach Dundas, director Roger Corman and others who reveal how Poe tapped into what it means to be human in a modern and sometimes frightening world.

 

 

 

 

PBS Distribution offers a one-hour probe into the Worst. U.S. president. Ever.

How did Donald Trump transform himself from real estate developer to entertainer to sexual predator to the worse president? Through lies and hate. In Frontline’s President Trump, filmmaker Michael Kirk and his investigative team go behind the headlines to examine the key moments that shaped America’s 45th president—from his childhood, to his tumultuous career in the public eye.

Drawing on the critically acclaimed film The Choice 2016, the program features dozens of in-depth interviews from advisors, business associates, and biographers, and paints a revealing portrait of where Trump came from, how he leads and why he sought out one of the most difficult jobs imaginable.

PBS Distribution has released the DVD; the program will also be available for digital download.

We’re not kidding: “I Have a Voice” features more than 75 Broadway children raising their voices to stop bullying

We have always given Broadway Records President Van Dean standing ovations . . . for his off-stage work. (For those who have never heard of him, please Google him instead of admitting your theatrical and charitable ignorace.)

We now raise the curtain on the exciting news that Dean has now joined executive producers Gina Holland and Michelle Shapiro and launched the charitable recording, “I Have a Voice” with 100% of the profits to benefit www.NoBully.org. The song and videos feature more than 75 Broadway kids from shows such as Matilda the Musical, School of Rock, Kinky Boots, Fiddler on the Roof, The Lion King and On Your Feet!  We must share other important news: The song boasts music by Frank Wildhorn, lyrics by Robin Lerner and comes from the upcoming new musical The Song of Bernadette.

“In the recording industry, I often work with children and have seen how saddened they are by the increased bullying and intolerance in schools across the country over the past year,” says Dean. “The ‘I Have a Voice’ initiative is an opportunity for 75+ child performers from Broadway and beyond to express their own voice and let other children know they too, have a voice. I truly hope this song will inspire others to be more inclusive, tolerant and unite kids to celebrate our differences.”

“I am so honored and grateful for my music to be used for this cause, which as a father, is so very important to me,” says Wildhorn. “I believe music can heal and believe so strongly in its power to communicate. Being in the studio, watching and hearing these beautiful children sing Robin’s beautiful words was a truly inspiring moment, and one I’ll never forget.”

The digital download of “I Have a Voice” is $1.99 ($1.29 on iTunes) and is available for purchase at BroadwayRecords.com.

 

 

 

They are SuperBirds! Hummingbirds can fly backwards, upside-down and float in mid-air!

Hummingbirds are amazing creatures to behold. They are the tiniest of birds, yet possess natural born super powers that enable them to fly backwards, upside-down and float in mid-air. Their wings beat faster than the eye can see and the speed at which they travel makes people wonder if it was indeed a hummingbird they actually saw. They also are only found in the Americas. These attributes have both intrigued scientists and made it challenging to study the species, but with the latest high-speed cameras and other technologies, the program reveals new scientific breakthroughs about these magical birds.hummingbird_hero_roger_levien

See the magic in Nature: Super Hummingbirds (PBS Distribution). The program is also available for digital download.

Emmy-winning filmmaker Ann Johnson Prum  returns with her second film on hummers which presents new scientific discoveries such as how they drink a flower’s nectar so quickly or why they are able to thrive in the thin air at high altitudes. For the first time, viewers will see the birds mate, lay eggs, fight and raise families in intimate detail.

The program begins with the research of Dr. Alejandro Rico-Guevara, who returned to his native Colombia after getting his doctorate at the University of Connecticut (he’s currently a postdoctoral researcher at University of California at Berkeley), to determine how a hummer is able to lap up nectar inside a flower at a rate of 20 times a second. A hummingbird spends its days darting from flower to flower to drink the nectar so vital to fueling its metabolism to keep it in the air.

To solve the mystery, Rico-Guevara mounted a real flower onto a clear feeding tube containing the same amount of nectar found in a genuine bloom. After attracting a hummer to the test site, high-speed macro photography revealed that the hummingbird’s long tongue has forked tips that open as the tongue dips into the nectar. Grooves are created along the edges of the open tips that collect and fill the tongue with nectar. Identifying this highly efficient means to drink nectar so rapidly was a scientific breakthrough never seen before.

The program also chronicles a major discovery by Dr. Christopher Witt and his University of New Mexico team high in the Peruvian Andes where oxygen is 40 percent more scarce than it is at sea level. Tests were conducted on hummers living at high altitudes to determine how little oxygen they needed to fly and the results were impressive. For example, only when the oxygen level reached six percent did the Sparkling violetear reach her limit which is an altitude equivalent of 43,000 feet. Witt discovered that a protein called hemoglobin, which humans also have in our blood, has evolved in each hummingbird species to match its elevation. He also found that these flower feeders are able to fly at such dazzling speeds due to an ability to capture extra oxygen with every breath, a true super power.

In the rainforests of Costa Rica, Dr. Marcelo Araya-Salas of Cornell University has spent seven years studying and recording the vocal stylings and mating rituals of Long-billed hermit hummingbirds. As the film shows, male hermits gather in a place called a lek to attract and compete for females by singing and performing elaborate choreography. After shooting more than 2,000 hours of footage, Araya-Salas caught his first video of hummingbirds mating, one of the first times it has ever been filmed. The documentary then concludes with a life cycle of super hummingbirds, from the nest-building, to the motherhood, to the first flight!

Hummers may be the smallest birds in the world, but what they lack in size, they make up in speed and the ability to adapt in ways we’re just beginning to learn about as they continue to evolve.

 

The legendary book “Hitchcock/Truffaut” turns into a film that brings the pages to life

It’s been called “The Greatest Story Hitchcock Ever Told”. In 1962, Alfred Hitchcock, then at the height of his fame, sat down with acclaimed director Francois Truffaut, the rising star of the French New Wave, to reveal in detail the making of the long string of hits that earned him the title “Master of Suspense.”

The interviews became the basis for the book Hitchcock/Truffaut, one of the most acclaimed and widely read books about the cinematic process. Now, critic and filmmaker Kent Jones “brings the pages to life” (Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times) in a feature film that honors its source material while also serving as a moving and entertaining portrait of two great directors talking shop. Fresh off the heels of a successful theatrical release by Cohen Media Group, Hitchcock/Truffaut arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on December 20, 2016, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.unnamed-1

Hitchcock and Truffaut locked themselves away in Hollywood for a week to excavate the secrets and meaning behind Hitchcock’s greatest achievements. Based on the original recordings of this meeting, Jones’ film illustrates the greatest cinema lesson of all time and plunges us into the world of the creator of Psycho, The Birds, Vertigo and dozens of other thrilling masterpieces.
Jones has expanded on the original book by including insightful new interviews with many of today’s most renowned directors and Hitchcock aficionados, including Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Arnaud Desplechin, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Wes Anderson, James Gray, Olivier Assayas, Richard Linklater, Peter Bogdanovich and Paul Schrader.
This is a fascinating journey between two geniuses.