Pasadena, CA (The Hollywood Times) 3/25/18 – “The investigator stands in the shoes of the victim.”–Marcia Clark
A+E is leading the “reality revolution” with remarkable shows like MARCIA CLARK INVESTIGATES THE FIRST 48. The quest for truth always resonates with American audiences! Though these aren’t always the easiest stories to tell, they remain some of the most intriguing. Continue reading “MARCIA CLARK INVESTIGATES THE FIRST 48 on A+E”
Pasadena, CA (The Hollywood Times) 2/23/18 – Just in time for St. Paddy’s Day, Ireland’s #1 drama STRIKING OUT (Series 2) will come to Acorn TV on Friday, March 16th, 2018. The six-episode series follows attorney Tara Rafferty as she strikes out on her own with a private practice after finding her fiancé and another woman in bed. Series stars Amy Huberman and Neil Morrissey, who play Tara Rafferty and her mentor Vincent Pike, were introduced by Matt Graham at a TCA Winter 2018 press tour panel taking place on Monday, January 15th, 2018 at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena.
Amy Huberman “just wanted a job” when she took the wide-ranging role of Tara Rafferty. Her brother is also an actor in their small but scenic country. “I felt like a tourist sometimes, but it was lovely to work at home [in Ireland],” Huberman said. Continue reading “Ireland’s STRIKING OUT to be Aired on Acorn”
Pasadena, CA (The Hollywood Times) 2/18/18 – Who in our modern age is able to live Biblically? David Koresh (featured in WACO)? Sister Helen Prejean (featured in DEAD MAN WALKING)? People like these probably occupy opposite poles of the spectrum. Continue reading “LIVING BIBLICALLY to Air on CBS”
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 02/10/2018 – February is Black History Month and audiences nationwide are anticipating one of the grandest stories ever told featuring people of color as superheroes. But TV One’s original made for television movie, Behind The Movement, (showing on TV One, February 11, 2018 at 7pm/6c) reminds us we need not look further than 62 years in our past to find inspiration in real life heroes. Continue reading “Black Heroes In Theaters Now! Historical and Current Day”
Pasadena, CA (The Hollywood Times) 2/9/18 – “All of us here, obviously, would like to believe that Dr. Martin Luther King was correct when he said the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. We would all like to believe that we are moving toward a more compassionate society, but are we really?” asked Henry Schleiff, group president of Investigative Discovery, American Heroes Channel, and Destination America at the TCA Winter 2018 press tour panel convened on Friday, January 12th, 2018 at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena to discuss LOVE & HATE CRIME. Also present on the panel were series director Ben Steele; crime reporter Margaret Baker; and Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Project Director Heidi Beirich. Continue reading “LOVE & HATE CRIME To Premiere in February on Investigative Discovery”
Pasadena, CA (The Hollywood Times) 2/2/18 – OUR CARTOON PRESIDENT is an adult animated satirical television series from Showtime created by Stephen Colbert, Chris Licht, Matt Lapin, Tim Luecke, and R.J. Fried based upon a recurring segment from Colbert’s late night talk show. It is set to premiere on Sunday, February 11th, 2018. Continue reading “OUR CARTOON PRESIDENT Takes On the State of the Union!”
Pasadena, CA (The Hollywood Times) 1/31/18 – TNT’s smash hit drama series is set during The Gilded Age, the closing decades of the nineteenth century. This was a time when the population of the United States doubled in the span of a single generation with resultant social disparities that plague our nation even today. The uber-rich flourished alongside boys who were so poor that they had to become prostitutes. THE ALIENISTContinue reading “Gilded is not golden!”
Seattle, WA (The Hollywood Times) 1/31/18 – What you’re about to read about is a twisted tale built around lies, insanity, more lies, and deadly consequences…
The story is about Benita Alexander, an Emmy winning producer formerly with NBC. She began to follow a ground-breaking surgeon who delved into the arena of regenerative medicine – Paolo Macchiarini – The Doctor; was fascinating. He worked all over the world, speaks 6 languages, and has a reputation of being a charming bad boy… Continue reading ““He Lied About Everything””
Hollywood, CA (The Hollywood Times) 1/23/18 – It’s not surprising that Schitt’s Creek, the quirky comedy about a moneyed family who experiences financial loss so sudden that they find themselves in a bleak, backwards-Beverly Hillbillies arrangement, has lasted nearly four seasons. What is surprising is how quickly those first three seasons passed. Continue reading “Schitt’s Creek Season 4 to Premiere January 24th”
Pasadena, CA (The Hollywood Times) 1/22/18 – Paramount discussed the launch of their new cable network and true crime series WACO at a panel convened on Monday, January 15th, 2018 at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena. Kevin Kay introduced Keith Cox, President of Development and Production for Paramount Network, TV Land, and CMT; talents Taylor Kitsch, Paul Sparks, Andrea Riseborough, Melissa Benoist, Julia Garner, and Rory Culkin; Gary Noesner, the FBI’s lead hostage negotiator; David Thibodeau, a Branch Davidian member and survivor of the Waco tragedy; and John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle, executive producers for WACO. Continue reading “WACO Launches on the New Paramount Network”
Pasadena, CA (The Hollywood Times) 1/22/18 – Sarah Aubrey introduced the TNT panel convened to discuss THE ALIENIST on Thursday, January 11th, 2018 at the Winter TCA Press Tour taking place at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena. Present were cast members Daniel Brühl, Luke Evans, and Dakota Fanning along with director and executive producer Jakob Verbruggen and executive producer Rosalie Swedlin.
THE ALIENIST is based on Caleb Carr’s award-winning best-seller by the same name and premieres on Monday, January 22nd. Set in the underbelly of New York City’s Gilded Age, this series follows Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a brilliant and obsessive “alienist,” who, at the turn of the century, is using his controversial new methods of treating mental illness to hunt down a ritualistic killer. The highly anticipated ten-part series was shot in Budapest, Hungary and has been three years in the making after nearly 25 years in development! Continue reading “THE ALIENIST Premieres on TNT”
Pasadena, CA (The Hollywood Times) 1/18/17 – For over 30 years the Lifetime network has provided cutting-edge programming for women. Recent Lifetime movies previously reviewed in our publication such as FLINT and I AM ELIZABETH SMART told the important true stories of real-life women and really got noticed by both critics and audiences! Other ones to watch for include Kyra Sedgwick’s STORY OF A GIRL; FAITH UNDER FIRE starring Grammy winner Toni Braxton; and a biopic of Olympian Simone Biles, often referred to as the greatest gymnast ever.
This year, journalists have played an important role in exposing abuses of power. How far might we go to uncover a story?
Pioneering journalist Nellie Bly actually pretended to be crazy and got herself committed to uncover abuses of patients in an insane asylum. This riveting story starring Golden Globe nominee Christina Ricci as Nellie will also be told on Lifetime!
The royal wedding and Rob Lowe–what a combination! Lifetime will soon debut a movie about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as well as Rob Lowe’s re-imagining of the classic thriller THE BAD SEED. Hang on, everyone!
Academy Award- and Tony Award-winning actress Catherine Zeta-Jones spoke about her exciting new role in the upcoming Lifetime drama COCAINE GODMOTHER: THE GRISELDA BLANCO STORY at the TCA Winter 2018 press tour panel held on Sunday, January 14th, 2018 at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena. COCAINE GODMOTHER is set to debut very soon on Saturday, January 20th. Also present on the panel was Zeta-Jones’ co-star, Juan Pablo Espinosa.
Zeta-Jones told THT, although she had made such an impression in the acclaimed 2000 film TRAFFIC about the war on drugs in America, she had NOT been tapped for the role of Griselda Blanco. She herself went after it after seeing the 2006 documentary COCAINE COWBOYS and hearing about the woman everyone kept referring to as “La Madrina.”
“My God, what did I know about this woman in a very dark, dangerous, man’s world who had so much power!” Zeta-Jones exclaimed. And then it happened that Tanya Lopez at Lifetime A & E got a script about Griselda Blanco and put Zeta-Jones on to it while they were discussing some different projects.
While commenting on the roles that women often play in the drug world and the reasons they are recruited for them, Zeta-Jones referred back to the woman she played in TRAFFIC, who was neither an “unknowing wife” or “unfortunate victim.” This woman in fact became like Michael Corleone in THE GODFATHER when she took over the illicit family business! Zeta-Jones insisted that Griselda was the “polar opposite” of everything she believed in morally and she just relished playing her.
Juan Pablo Espinosa, a native of Colombia, said he had been thrilled to be part of a project that told the drug story from a woman’s perspective. He had seen Catherine Zeta-Jones in THE MASK OFZORRO (1998) and was excited to hear Colombians saying that she looked and sounded Colombian in the Griselda Blanco film and had to be Latin American!
One of the journalists said of Griselda, “This is such a strong woman who doesn’t take anything from anyone, who doesn’t give up to men’s power” and asked Catherine Zeta-Jones how important it was for her to play women like that. Zeta-Jones replied, “Well, as an actor you want to play all sorts of women, you know. This is not a cookie cutter kind of thing!”
While Griselda was not a likeable person, she definitely had layers of vulnerability worth exploring. “The cracks [in Griselda’s character] got much deeper and the wheels started to come off because, as with every addict, eventually the wheels come off,” Zeta-Jones concluded.
Catherine Zeta-Jones, herself a working mother, understands that women need to be both sweet and strong to fill the many roles required of them in life. Her advice to younger actors coming up is “Keep turning up” despite the knocks in the road. “You have to battle the storms, you know!”
Zeta-Jones considers the four weeks of shooting she did for the Griselda Blanco film to be the best four weeks of her life! Working on the film made her remember how much she loved what she did.
The opening scene of the film where the 11-year-old Griselda is shown having sex with a grown man and then being beaten by her mother shocks many who are not easily shocked. Zeta-Jones commented, “We had to have that moment. Not to justify anything, but to get a sense of where this woman came from.”
Zeta-Jones continued, “You know, Lifetime does such great stories about women for women. . . .And we’re seeing another side of women. Maybe men should watch more of Griselda on Lifetime. Get a better sense of what we really can do.”
The child actors in the film are said to be “unbelievable” in their wrenching roles. Catherine Zeta-Jones herself underwent quite a transformation to play Griselda Blanco.
While not as naturally beautiful as Zeta-Jones, Blanco wore long eyelashes, colorful clothing, and a lot of red lipstick and nail polish even in prison. “She was the movie star starring in her own movie in her own head,” observed Zeta-Jones.
Blanco called her son Michael Corleone and her dog Hitler. Clearly, she was a sociopath!
Catherine Zeta-Jones’ equally well-known Hollywood husband, Michael Douglas, told her, “You don’t have to do much. You are at your most terrifying when you do nothing.” After dissecting that comment for a few minutes, Zeta-Jones thanked the assembled group of critics for following her television work. “I love the way that television has really become a wonderful platform for us [actors],” she said right before the panel wrapped up.
Pasadena, CA (The Hollywood Times) 1/7/18 – THE ASSASSINATION OF GIANNI VERSACE: AMERICAN CRIME STORY, one of the new TV season’s must-sees, was discussed at length by a distinguished panel of executives and talents at the 2018 FX TCA Winter Press Tour taking place on Saturday, January 6th, 2018 at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena. The nine-episode limited series is set to premiere on Wednesday, January 17th. Continue reading “The Assassination of Versace on ACS”
Beverly Hills, CA (The Hollywood Times) 10/18/17 – BERLIN STATION is an American espionage drama starring Richard Armitage as an American CIA agent who is stationed in (you guessed it!) Berlin. A ten-episode first season premiered on Epix on October 16th, 2016. On November 17th, 2016, Epix renewed BERLIN STATION for a ten-episode second season that premiered on Sunday, October 15th, 2017 at 9 p.m. Continue reading “BERLIN STATION Enters Its Second Season”
Beverly Hills, CA (The Hollywood Times) 10/18/17 – EMPIRE is back for its fourth season in a new 8 p.m. time slot with the epic blend of music and drama that keeps its viewers on the edge of their seats each and every week.
Executive producers Ilene Chaiken and Sanaa Hamri; creator, writer, and executive producer Lee Daniels; and lead actors Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, and Jussie Smollett assembled at the FOX portion of the TCA Press Tour Panel which was held on Tuesday, August 8th, 2017 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel to discuss their smash hit show.
The empire in question is a fictitious media company known as Empire Entertainment. Taraji P.Henson and Terrence Howard star as ex-spouses Cookie and Lucious Lyon with mighty tempers to match their last name.
At one point last season, Cookie (an ex-con) snapped and destroyed the Empire offices with a bat! “EMPIRE shows that the biggest threats to a family business can often be the family itself,” observed an audience member.
Everyone on stage was ecstatic about the addition of Forest Whitaker to the EMPIRE family. Terrence Howard considers Whitaker to be a mentor in life and is ever so pleased to have him on the same show.
“The fans are going to follow you wherever you go,” said another audience member. “The fans know the truth. And you listen to your fans,” replied Lee Daniels. “They’re very clear. They’re very loud. And when they’re unhappy, we know!”
Jussie Smollett considers himself both a cast member AND a fan of EMPIRE. He said, “I’ll be the first one to call up Lee and be like, ‘Lee, the streets are talking. We need to talk.’ And he’ll listen and he’ll be like, ‘Honey, what are the streets saying?’
“You call and you’re like, “Sanaa, the streets are talking.” And I’m like, “Okay, said Sanaa Hamri.
“I’ll send tweets and Instagram. I’ll send them right up the flagpole!” added Taraji P. Henson. Could this kind of interplay on and off screen be a secret of EMPIRE’S enduring success?
The EMPIRE body count continued with veteran actress Leslie Uggams, best remembered for her heart-rending portrayal of Kunta Kinte’s daughter Kizzy from the renowned 8-part 1977 ABC miniseries ROOTS. These are Lyons after all!
Phylicia Rashad of THE COSBY SHOW has also appeared on EMPIRE. Taye Diggs and Demi Moore will soon guest star.
“The ones who fit in have stayed the longest,” observed Sanaa Hamri. “It’s so beautiful how the show has evolved into us finding ourselves, really,” said Lee Daniels.
One TV critic had been singing FOX’s praises for having women and minorities in prominent roles, saying, “EMPIRE is certainly an all-star on this roster. You guys kill it year after year. I just wanted to know, is there an extra amount of pressure to keep blazing that trail?”
“No. I don’t put myself under any pressure. I think our goal is just to continue to do good work,” replied Taraji P. Henson. “Why put that kind of pressure on yourself? If we stay true to what we started off with and that’s doing good work, giving the audience good, impactful stories, then there’s nothing to compete with. Did I answer that good?” Yes indeed!
Sanaa Hamri said, “We’re lucky to have not only the creatives and everybody involved pushing that, but also FOX being behind us to ensure that we keep moving forward to what really is the truth.” “Which is diversity,” said Lee Daniels.
“It’s the voices that make the show what it is,” said Ilene Chaiken. “Well, I definitely feel represented. So thank you,” said a satisfied audience member. “Job well done, y’all!” exclaimed Taraji P. Henson.
The explosive chemistry between Henson and Terrence Howard (“Mama Bear” and “Papa Bear”) is what keeps the show sizzling for many. Some EMPIRE fans have pushed for a reconciliation between the exes. Like many of us, they fell in love when they were young and life got in their way.
EMPIRE also puts an interesting spin on the dynasty concept by making the Lyon family African American and setting the urban drama in the seductive and sometimes dangerous world of hip-hop music. For big money can be made many different ways in the USA! Terrence Howard sagely pointed out that affluence and success don’t always make your family members saner or safer.
Jussie Smollett liked that the show included many different character types and music from all genres. “Jussie’s on fire!” commented Lee Daniels. Sanaa Hamri thought that EMPIRE’S universal Shakespearean themes were of the sort that everyone could relate to.
Taraji P. Henson is the rare performer who looks like a leading lady but can play character roles. She and Jussie Smollett have become quite a mother and son comedy team on social media! Perhaps FOX should hop on a new series as she suggested from the stage.
“Go forth into the world and be great,” said Ms. Henson in closing. EMPIRE
has already accepted this challenge for three smashing seasons! With its season premiere on Wednesday, September 27th, 2017 just behind us, there is still time to catch up and tune in!
Beverly Hills, CA (The Hollywood Times) 9/27/17 – THE STORY OF US WITH MORGAN FREEMAN is a six-part National Geographic Channel docuseries that follows Freeman’s global journey to uncover the fundamental forces that keep our societies together, while revealing the common humanity that lies inside each of us. The show is produced by Freeman’s Revelations Entertainment.
Each of the six hour long episodes from THE STORY OF US will include a single fundamental force or topic, such as strength of belief, the thirst for power, how love shapes us, the role conflict plays in our lives, the spirit of rebellion, and the concept of freedom.
Morgan Freeman spoke at length about THE STORY OF US at the TCA Press Tour panel hosted on Monday, July 25th, 2017 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Freeman was joined by fellow executive producers Lori McCreary and James Younger, the team behind predecessor series THE STORY OF GOD, along with subjects of the doc: Albert Woodfox, former prison inmate and “Angola Three” member; Joshua Coombes, founder of social campaign #DoSomethingForNothing; and Megan Phelps-Roper, a former member of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church.
“Your task in life is probably to do as much as you can for others for nothing,” said Freeman, echoing the precepts of Nelson Mandela.
“You can definitely do something today!” added Coombes. Big problems such as homelessness cannot be solved overnight, but the actions we take every day do start to add up.
“In film, I just need to belong,” said Freeman. “I grew up in the movies, watching them, and not seeing enough of me, none of me. So my film career is actually predicated on being able to see me. That doesn’t cross over to this line of fire. This is a completely different set of rules, I guess, I can use to live by.”
Realizing that he had just talked with someone from the other side of the world who was saying pretty much the same thing as he was came as a revelation to Freeman while making THE STORY OF US. “They are just using a different language!” he exclaimed.
Getting in touch with the common humanity that binds us all was perhaps the biggest benefit to the many talents who produced THE STORY OF US WITH MORGAN FREEMAN, whichpremieres on Wednesday, October 11th on the National Geographic Channel. Here’s hoping the show succeeds in its honorable mission to incorporate more of “them” into “us”!
McCreary had high praise for the boundless curiosity shown by the much-loved Morgan Freeman throughout the one on one interviews in THE STORY OF US. “I think that without someone like Morgan, who can really get to the center of these wonderful people, it might not be as impactful, and with him, it’s impactful,” she said.
Beverly Hills, CA ( The Hollywood Times) 9/20/17 – When we think Beverly Hills and violent crime, we would generally presume it to come from outside. This was just confirmed for the present reporter at a lengthy stint of voir dire during which 75 prospective jurors from the wealthy Westside in LA were closely questioned in connection with a criminal case being tried near LAX.
With regard to the 1989 Menendez murders, crime came from inside when Eric and Lyle Menendez brutally murdered their parents in their Beverly Hills mansion once rented by celebrity singers Prince and Elton John. The sensational trial which followed still lives on in memory for many. In 1994, both brothers were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Now Dick Wolf has created an eight-part LAW & ORDER TRUE CRIME series about the Menendez case starring four-time Emmy Award-winner Edie Falco that was discussed on Thursday, August 3rd at the NBC TCA Press Tour held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Jennifer Salke lead the panel discussion with Wolf and Falco; emerging talents Gus Halper and Mike Gaston Villanueva, who played the Menendez brothers; director/executive producer Lesli Linka Glatter; and showrunner/executive producer Rene Balcer.
Falco portrays tenacious defense attorney Leslie Abramson for whom the job always came first on this true crime series. Dick Wolf has become almost a “bottomless pit” of programming for NBC and hopes it continues!
Here family dysfunction and collusion between the judge and the district attorney’s office combine in a scenario in which all seven deadly sins are in one place! Angelenos will shudder to hear all too familiar names in law enforcement emerge again and again.
The psychology of abuse victims takes center stage in this series. Both Menendez boys were supposedly molested by their pedophile father and felt their lives to be in imminent danger every single day.
Wolf felt that the audience was one of the biggest mysteries when trying to create compelling crime shows. Hopefully THE MENENDEZ MURDERS has found a winning formula! Judge for yourself when the series launces on Tuesday, September 26th at 10 p.m. on NBC.
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 9/13/17 – “We want to give our folks a proper dance floor, a proper place where they can be themselves; where there is no borders, no race, no age, it’s intergenerational, gender neutral, everything like that. It’s about the human spirit, that pulsing feel that we feel.” Last night the group Buyepongo took the stage of Artbound Studio A. The name Buyepongo means “to cause a ruckus” which is exactly what happens on the dance floor when this group takes the stage. Their eccentric sound, using only their voices, the accordion, trumpet, bass, different kinds of drums, and a cowbell, separates their sound and music from all other artists. These 5 men seem to have blast every time they perform; “We’ve all been homies for well over 10, 15 years…the music kinda reflects that.” Their set list included “Musica Allegra”, “Maestros”, “Solo Yo”, and “Sin Para”. Their music has infectious rhythms that absorb the genres of funk, jazz, punk, and hip-hop. Their almost tropical sound makes their music impossible to not dance to. When there is infectious rhythm, there is infectious joy and dancing. Buyepongo started out by playing on the street and at parks in their community. Their community is central to who they are as a band; “At our shows, at our performances, the interaction with the community, to us, is pretty much the most important thing we want to be able to ignite.” Even 15 years later, they want to have the same effect on their community as when they first started. To be able to give the people a little step, or an extra feeling, is how they give back to the community. They want to spread good vibes and promote social interaction between each other through their music; “We plant the seed, it’s gonna harvest, and then down the line, more trees will grow all stemming from our music.”