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.

Why you must never fly Spirit Air. They refuse to acknowledge the Jewish massacre in Pittsburgh.

I hate Spirit Airlines. I only JetBlue, one of the highest-rated air carriers. And for good reason. They rise above and beyond expectations!

I had to book a flight on Spirit (known to insiders as “Air Titanic”) because all JetBlue flights were sold out. I dreaded when I saw the very, very user-unfriendly website that looks like a dying bumble bee on meth.

Gulp! And so I booked.

And so Saturday there was a horrendous massacre less than eight minutes from my house. I do not feel safe. I do not want to fly.

As a press member, I asked a “man” named “Derek Dombrowski” to cancel my flights and refund my money. I would have even taken flight credit . . . one of the most marvelous perks of JetBlue.

Two days after I emailed him, he finally emailed me back.

He claims he has “strong media and communications professional skilled in storytelling.”

Indeed, I know have stories to tell.

And he said no.

I urge you not to fly the “airline” that scams you on everything from seat prices to luggage rules.

Boo! Hiss!


Vincent Lindon brings the life and loves of great sculptor “Rodin” to life

Paris, 1880. The 40-year-old sculptor Auguste Rodin finally receives his first state commission, The Gates of Hell, which will include The Kiss and The Thinker, two of his most famous creations. Constantly working, he shares his life with his lifelong partner, Rose,  and his mistress, young Camille Claudel, the gifted student who becomes his assistant and a talented sculptor in her own right during a decade of passion, mutual admiration and creative collaboration.
Following their painful breakup, Rodin continues to work relentlessly while facing both the rejection and enthusiasm provoked by the sensuality and originality of his sculptures. Rodin’s statue of Balzac, long in the making and rejected during his lifetime, will become the starting point of modern sculpture.

Cohen Media Group will release the 2017 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or nominee Rodin on Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms on October 2.  The biographical drama, starring Vincent Lindon as the great sculptor, is the latest from Jacques Doillon, the multiple award-winning director of Ponette, La Drôlesse and dozens of other films that have made him one of the most esteemed European auteurs of the last 40 years.

Bonus features on the Blu-ray and DVD include the featurette Sculpting Rodin.

A trio of great new releases from W.W. Norton & Company

Kafkaesque: Fourteen Stories ($19.95, on sale now)is a mesmerizing interpretation of fourteen iconic Kafka stories. Long fascinated with the work of Franz Kafka, Kuper began illustrating his stories in 1988. Initially drawn to the master’s dark humor, Kuper adapted the stories over the years to plumb their deeper truths. His style deliberately evokes Lynd Ward and Frans Masereel, contemporaries of Kafka whose wordless novels captured much of the same claustrophobia and mania as Kafka’s tales.

Kafkaesque: Fourteen Stories

Kuper has reimagined these iconic stories for the twenty-first century, using setting and perspective to comment on contemporary issues like civil rights and homelessness. Longtime lovers of Kafka will appreciate Kuper’s innovative interpretations, while Kafka novices will discover a haunting introduction to some of the great writer’s most beguiling stories, including “A Hunger Artist,” “In The Penal Colony,” and “The Burrow.” Kafkaesque stands somewhere between adaptation and wholly original creation, going beyond a simple illustration of Kafka’s words to become a stunning work of art.

In End of the Megafauna: The Fate of the World’s Hugest, Fiercest, and Strangest Animals ($35, on sale November 13) paleomammologistRoss D.E. MacPhee a look into the fascinating lives and puzzling demise of some of the largest animals on earth. Until a few thousand years ago, creatures that could have been from a sci-fi thriller roamed the earth. These great beasts, or “megafauna,” lived on every habitable continent and on many islands. With a handful of exceptions, all are now gone. What caused the disappearance of these prehistoric behemoths?

End of the Megafauna: The Fate of the World's Hugest, Fiercest, and Strangest Animals

MacPhee explores that question, examining the leading extinction theories, weighing the evidence, and presenting his own conclusions. He shows how theories of human overhunting and catastrophic climate change fail to explain critical features of these extinctions, and how new thinking is needed to elucidate these mysterious losses. Gorgeous four-color illustrations by Peter Schouten bring these megabeasts back to life in vivid detail.

Silicon City: San Francisco in the Long Shadow of the Valley($26.95, on sale November 13) is an intimate, eye-opening portrait of San Francisco transformed by the tech boom that asks: Can a city lose its soul? The tech boom of our time is changing San Francisco at warp speed. Famously home to artists and activists, and known as the birthplace of the Beats, the Black Panthers and the LGBTQ movement, the Bay Area has been transformed by Silicon Valley. But the richer the region gets, the more unequal and less diverse it becomes, and the cracks in the city’s facade begin to show. Writer and filmmaker Cary McClelland has spent several years interviewing people at the epicenter of the Bay Area’s rapid change: tech innovators, venture capitalists, coders, homeless advocates, pawn brokers, prosecutors and public defenders, tattoo artists, and tour guides.
Silicon City: San Francisco in the Long Shadow of the Valley
Silicon City masterfully weaves together their voices and unforgettable stories to create a dynamic portrait of a beloved city and a cautionary tale for the entire country.

A Chat with Ken Starr, whose book “Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation” is now out

Two decades after the release of the Starr Report that led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, former independent counsel Ken Starr presents for the first time his full and candid perspective on one of the most contentious episodes in American history, in Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation (Sentinel/Penguin, $28.00).

Here, he chats about the book and then some.

Why did you decide to write this book now?
The time was right, both personally and historically. I was no longer serving at Baylor University, and in my new-found freedom was moved to write–at long last–the story from my perspective of the President’s abuse of power and crimes against our justice system.

What is the significance of the book’s title? Why do you say “contempt” is the dominant quality of the legacy of Bill and Hillary Clinton?
The title literally applies to the former President. Bill Clinton is the only president in American history to have been found in contempt by a court of law. That courthouse judgment pointed to a larger truth–the contempt with which both the President and Hillary treated our foundational value of the rule of law and the human beings with whom they dealt.
Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation
How did you come to be appointed as Independent Counsel in the investigation of the Clintons?
Under the independent counsel law, a three-judge court – the Special Division of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit–appointed me. I definitely did not volunteer for the job. To the contrary, I was asked to serve  I was asked to serve.

As Independent Counsel, you were under continuous attack by the Clintons and their surrogates. They tried to portray your investigation as a politically and personally motivated witch hunt intended to bring down a president. Of course, your book is largely a point-by-point rebuttal of this view. But briefly, why was it wrong?
The unrelenting attacks from the White House were, by definition, politically inspired. They were clearly intended to erode the principles of the rule of law and the fair administration of justice. Our record of professionalism and integrity is demonstrated by the fourteen criminal convictions in Arkansas, and the universal acceptance of the factual accuracy of the so-called Starr Report.

What toll did your vilification by much of the media and the public take on you personally, as well as your family?

The years-long attacks as to my personal and professional integrity were not only profoundly unpleasant, but they took a toll on the investigation itself. In all too many quarters, the Whitewater investigation came to be characterized as a personal and political vendetta. In the process, my family members suffered grievously–most dramatically by the fact that our daughter, Carolyn, had to have round-the-clock security protection due to death threats.

In fact, you were such a lightning rod for controversy that you kept a very low profile throughout the investigation, staying mostly behind the scenes. But when the House considered impeachment, they
wanted only one witness to appear before them—you. What was it like to testify for twelve hours in a single day? What did you think of your performance then, and how do you think it stands up now?
That “longest day” shortly before Thanksgiving was the most difficult single day of my professional life. It profoundly tested my patience, when I had to listen–respectfully–to tirades by Judiciary Committee members such as Maxine Waters and Chuck Schumer.

What disappointed you about the way the House of Representatives handled the Clinton impeachment proceedings?
The House saw fit not to have real witnesses–those who knew the facts from their participation. I was the sole witness before the Judiciary Committee. I was put on trial, but I was simply the custodian of the facts. More fundamentally, I regretted that the House was not willing to consider a lesser sanction, namely a resolution of censure, rather than the ultimate sanction of removing a President from office. The debate would have been
more balanced, and less politicized, if that alternative sanction would have been seriously considered. But I respect the constitutional view that, as to the President’s misconduct, it has to be impeachment or nothing.

Were you surprised when the Senate failed to convict Bill Clinton and remove him from office after he was impeached by the House?
No, I wasn’t surprised at all. First, the House had seen fit not to move forward on our Count 11, namely the President’s abuse of the powers of his office. I describe that in detail in the book. We felt that all ten counts led up to, crescendo-like, his misuse of his powers of office for reasons of self-preservation. Second, impeachment
and conviction represent the ultimate weapon in the arsenal of our representative democracy. The American people would see their considered judgment–rendered at the polls overturned through an inherently political–and highly politicized–process where a President would be stripped of the power granted to him through the election process. That would be inherently destabilizing. The American people want the President to serve out his term, and to be able to get his job done without this sword of Damocles having over his head.

Many people continue to believe that Bill Clinton was impeached for “lying about sex.” What is your response?
That bumper-sticker takeaway ignores the undisputed evidence that he obstructed justice, intimidated witnesses,
encouraged witnesses to lie under oath, and profoundly misused the powers of his office to, among other things,
invent a non-existent privilege to try to hide the truth.

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.

Firefly Books dishes out two tasty cookbooks. Seconds, anyone?

We savor news about new cookbooks, then dish out the information to our hungry readers. Twp tasty treats from Firefly Books.

Casablanca: My Moroccan Food ($35)
Nargisse Benkabbou grew up in a food-oriented family that nurtured her connection with her roots and country of origin, Morocco. On her popular blog,, she shares her family’s recipes and her innovative cross-cultural creations. Named one of 18 talents to watch in 2018 by The Guardian, Nargisse is certainly a rising star in the UK and North America.

Casablanca features 100 recipes for simple and satisfying Moroccan meals for family and entertaining. Nargisse describes the essential elements in Moroccan cuisine and how to make them including Ras el hanout spice mix, preserved lemons, Harissa paste; scented waters, couscous, preserved lemons, Chermoula, Moroccan tea and much more. She also introduces the tagine and explains how to use it.

Nargisse breathes new life into Moroccan cuisine, blending that authentic Moroccan spirit and the contemporary to create accessible recipes for the everyday.

Don’t believe us? SaysNigella Lawson:“A book that is infused with the flavors of Morocco and is as accessible as it is inspiring.”

Nothing is as complex in its simplicity as the taste of an oyster. Salty, sweet, briny notes of merrier – the flavors change from country to country, from week to week, and according to the season.

Patrick McMurray, world record holding Oyster shucker, has written an insightful and entertaining guide to the pleasures of one of the oldest and most universal delicacies in the world–the oyster.

The Oyster Companion: A Field Guide ($19.99) is rich in history and lore providing everything you could want to know about the oyster, how to enjoy them injury free and compares the differences between 50 (!) varieties found world-wide. This is the essential guide to the world of oysters.

He Fucked Stormy Daniels. Now she fucks him. Thanks, Stormy!

How we love Stormy weather.

How we hate Adolph Frump.

He fucked Stormy Daniels. And She now fucks him. Hard.
St. Martin’s Press spotlights Stormy on October 2, when it releases Full Disclosure ($27.99), Stormy Daniels’ memoir. She and the book will really fuck the bastard:  The book will be published simultaneously in the UK, Australia, South Africa and India, and in hardcover, ebook and audio formats.

She was already well-known in some circles before March 6, 2018, but that’s probably the first time you heard the name Stormy Daniels. That’s the day she filed a lawsuit against the prick over a nondisclosure agreement negotiated before the election but never signed.
Now the woman referred to in The New York Times opinion pages as “Stormy Daniels, Feminist Hero” and “Joan of Arc,” and in Rolling Stone as “the hero America needs,” tells her whole story for the first time. In Full Disclosure, she shares everything about how she came to be a leading actress and director in the adult film business, the full truth about her journey from a rough childhood in Louisiana onto the national stage, and the events that led to the nondisclosure agreement and the behind-the-scenes attempts to intimidate her.

In Full Disclosure, Daniels is funny, sharp, warm, and impassioned by turns. “I own my story and the choices I made,” she writes. “They may not be the ones you would have made, but I stand by them.”

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?

Taste you way across America with “No Passport Required”

Want to go on an inspiring journey across the U.S., exloring and celebrating the wide-ranging diversity of immigrant traditions and cuisines woven into American food and culture? Welcome to No Passport Required (PBS Distribution), available on DVD October 30

Chef Marcus Samuelsson—co-owner of New York’s critically-acclaimed Red Rooster Harlem—embodies America’s extraordinarily rich cultural diversity. Born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden, and a proud resident of Harlem, he’s inspired by this global background to infuse his culinary experiences with diverse elements of music, history, culture and the arts. Today, he is a celebrated award-winning chef, restaurateur, author, philanthropist and food activist.

From Detroit, where Marcus meets Middle Eastern immigrants who call the city home, to the Ethiopian community in Washington, D.C.,  the program showcases how food can bring Americans—old and new—together around the table. In New Orleans, Marcus learns how Vietnamese culinary traditions have fully integrated into the fabric of the city, taking center stage with long-established French and African influences. In New York, he’s shown how the Indo-Guyanese culture thrives in a small enclave of Queens, and how this one community has taken the best of its Indian and Caribbean roots and incorporated those influences into its customs and cuisine. In Chicago, Marcus heads to the city’s Mexican neighborhoods and discovers their impact on the area’s food and cultural landscape. Then in Miami, he meets with members of the proud local Haitian community.

Bon appetit!


Petrucelli Picks the best in books, music and film . . . and then some