Stay Tuned
Reviews, previews and much more on "The Real Housewives," "How I Met Your Mother," "NCIS" and many more of your favorite shows. This is the place to talk about all of the things that make us "Stay Tuned"…

Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Top Chef All-Stars" Winner Richard Blais: "I wanted this really badly"

There are some times when it’s just impossible to be objective. And today was one of those for me as I got the opportunity to personally congratulate Richard Blais on his “Top Chef All-Stars” win.

Don’t worry. I asked him a couple of questions too…

Of course, I wasn’t the only reporter on the phone, so maybe I shouldn’t have also confessed that I’ve teared up all three times I’ve seen the ending. But I couldn’t help myself. Blais is my favorite “Top Chef” contestant of all time, and definitely my favorite non-“Idol” reality show contestant of all time. He might even be edging out some Idols after his conference call today…

Here is our conversation with Richard, almost in its entirety. I just took out some questions about specific cities and their restaurants…

What did your wife say to you on the phone when you called her?

“She pretty much just said OMG and congratulations. I’m not really sure. It was some kind of combination of joy and surprise. It was really early in the morning so that probably caught her off guard a little bit.”

Before Padma said your name, did you still think it was Mike who won?

“Throughout the season, I’m just expressing what I think restaurant chefs are feeling when they’re awaiting a critique or a review in a major publication. I think I’m just constantly analyzing what could have gone wrong even if something might be good in the end. But I was prepared, certainly, to shake Mike’s hand and say congratulations if that was the case. It was definitely up in the air but as you’ve seen, I kind of expect the worst and am just happy with a good outcome.”

Why did you make the decision to switch out the Captain Crunch ice cream?

“Definitely the Captain Crunch ice cream is something that I’m doing in my restaurants right now. We actually do a Captain Crunch milkshake. But I thought, you know, when you’re kind of in the menu planning, which was only an hour the day of, and then going into the event I just thought the foie gras thematically fit the restaurant I was building a little more than the Captain Crunch. It really wasn’t over which is more delicious than the other. I just thought the foie gras and the Tongue and Cheek theme fit a little bit better.”

What are you going to do with the $200,000?

“I think that the show is set up so when you win this prize you use it to better your career and move forward. That’s what I’m going to do with the majority of it whether it’s invest it in the restaurants I’m operating or find new investments to perhaps someday to do a Tongue and Cheek in a big city market or something like that. And I think a portion of it is going to go to some real world uses like education for my kids.”

Did you think at any point during the finale that you were playing it safe?

“I think collectively that the menu was far from safe, but I think that unfortunately I sort of, you know sometimes my own reputation gets in my way sometimes. I think people expect laser beams and liquid nitrogen all the time and one of my goals of the whole entire season was to try and sort of prove that although I enjoy playing with some modern techniques and I will definitely use technology and science if it makes things better, if I have a sauté pan and a spoon and some salt and pepper and some butter, I can cook as well. The beef course is where they said it was a little safe and I’d agree with that. Under the circumstances of having only a few hours to build a restaurant I don’t disagree with that. But that being said, it certainly ended up being delicious and well executed.”

Is it important for you to be a good guy as well as to be a fierce competitor?

“I don’t intentionally try to be a good guy. I guess that just happens. But I love what I do, I love sharing information. I’m kind of like a kid on Christmas morning. If I have a new toy to play with I want to share it with my neighbor. And I think a lot of that probably comes from wanting to share information. A restaurant kitchen and a chef in the real world works with a big team and there’s a lot of collaboration and a lot of sharing and that’s how you make a great restaurant. So, I think I bring a little bit of that to the game. But it’s always a big honor to read any of these interviews and hear one of my colleagues who I admire and learn from everyday say that they were rooting for me. It’s an honor to hear them say that.”

Did the judges tell you what it was that put you over the top?

“I have to be honest that I’m saying this after reading Tom Colicchio’s blog this morning, so that would be where I’m getting this information from, but it’s just that it was the overall experience. That maybe thematically my food kind of fit in a little more than Mike’s did. The whole meal in its entirety may have been a little more cohesive than Mike’s. I’m kind of paraphrasing what Tom said in his blog I’m sure but the differences between the courses, I think he said something like I won the first course by a long way and Mike won the meat course by a small margin. So the distance between winning and losing on some of the dishes may have favored me a little bit.”

What did you mean when at the end of last night’s show you said you “willed” the win to happen?

“This is the first I really, I mean, I won. And this is the first time I’ve really done that. I kind of had to teach myself to try and win. When I say I willed it, I mean I never let that out of my mind. That’s what you kind of saw with my high anxiety. I knew what the consequence of not winning felt like and I certainly didn’t want to feel that again. I gave a very strong effort to not have to go through those feelings again. When I say I willed it, I thought about winning. I thought about everything I was doing in reference to how to win. To the point of watching the U.S. hockey team 1980 miracle speech on the plane to the Bahamas, which sounds totally dorky, and that’s me, but I just really, I did. I willed it. I wanted this really badly and I tried really hard to do it.”

How did your cooking change between your season in Chicago and now?

“I think at some point after losing the first time and going through some of my experiences being a chef in the real world and as a restaurauteur, a switch just went off and I just became very tired of trying to keep up with doing food that was so progressive that I was starting to lose a little bit of tract on what food’s all about—making tasty, simple, beautiful food that people want to come back and eat the next day. And I think over the last few years and hopefully what I showed on the season of ‘Top Chef’ this year was that’s my goal. I just want to make food that people want to eat every single day. Not just to say that they had it or not to say that it was a unique experience. I don’t want people to say my food’s interesting any more. I want them to say that it’s delicious and perhaps interesting. But delicious has to be the first thing. And I hope that makes sense. But that was definitely my biggest change as a chef over the last few years.”

How did you avoid letting the pressure get to you this time around?

“One of the good things about failing the first time was I had enough time to really figure out where I failed. And it was very much in the conceptual part of it. I had so many ideas running through my head. The scrolling database of what I want to do doesn’t stop. I kind of made a commitment this time around, knowing where I failed last time to commit to certain ideas or at least to have a sort of mental time clock on of when I have to stop thinking those decisions conceptually.”

What was your favorite challenge?

“My favorite challenge not, well probably because I won, definitely this last challenge. I said in the episode yesterday when we were asked to create a dream restaurant I had goosebumps. It’s something all chefs young and old kind of dream about. If you have a couple of restaurants, you’re always thinking about the next one or you’re thinking about that perfect restaurant or that new place you want to open up. So, to me, the whole idea of that challenge I loved. I thought it was amazing and I embraced it.”

What’s it like to be a part of the “Top Chef” family?

“It is a wonderful fraternity. I’ve met a lot of great chefs and have a lot of new friends, especially on this season here. This was a very talented cast up and down, 1 through 18 and I learned so much from my colleagues. It’s a great family to be a part of for sure.”

Did it help at all to have favorites like Jen Carroll go home early?

“Going in, if you would have asked me who were the two strongest people in the field, it was definitely Angelo and Jen Carroll in my mind. But as it kind of progressed, you started to realize that there was so much talent. And even if you’re like, ‘Oh Jen’s gone, maybe this is going to get a little bit easier,’ there’s still four or five names right behind her that are quite talented as well. And that sort of happened the whole way. And even when you got near the end, Mike Isabella is very talented. It may seem like on TV that he all of a sudden turned this on in the last two or three episodes. I knew from episode two or three that this was a guy who was also in that top tier of people who have the ability to be around at the end. I think you could say it made it easier when some of the talent left, but it also made it more difficult because you realized that anyone could go at any different time.”

During the tasting for sous chefs, was there anyone that you knew who it was and you didn’t pick?

“When we were initially faced with the challenge, you see all these dishes and our colleagues there, you want to try and figure out hey, I can match this dish with that person. That sounded like a great idea, but it was impossible to do that. Even though I think some contestants did try to throw up a flag like hey, there’s tarragon in this dish, I love tarragon. But under the circumstances and at the moment, it was impossible to do. So I just approached it by picking out some specific, aggressive flavors that I was looking for in my own cuisine. I picked the dish that was the spiciest but not too spicy and the dish that was the most acidic, but not too acidic and the dish that was well seasoned, but not over seasoned. And that’s how I got my team.”

Photos Credit: Virginia Sherwood/Bravo

Today's Column: Is "The Kennedys" Worth all of the Trouble?

You know about the controversy over “The Kennedys” miniseries, but is it actually any good?

Well I spent two days watching all eight hours and you can read my review in today’s “Stay Tuned” column here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

All Hail Our New Top Chef!

Warning: If you have not seen the “Top Chef All-Stars” finale yet, stop reading now…

Okay, ready?


I am SO happy right now! And tomorrow, I get to congratulate him personally and I am SO excited about it. So Stay Tuned for some great stuff tomorrow…

A "Coal" Reminder...

Just a reminder that if you’re not all swept up in the “Top Chef All-Stars” finale like I am—or even if you are—you should check out Spike TV’s “Coal” tonight which takes you inside a West Virginia coal mine.

You can read my complete review of the show here. And be sure to read my story about the show here.

“Coal” premieres tonight at 10 on Spike TV…

"Top Chef All Stars": Tonight's the Night!

So tonight is the night when Richard Blais finally gets the title he has long deserved—the title of Top Chef.

Oh yeah, and Mike Isabella will be there too…

There’s no sense in me being objective here because you all know who I’m rooting for. Blais is my favorite “Top Chef” contestant of all time and one of my favorite reality show contestants of all time.

He deserved to be the winner of his season, but he choked (His words, not mine). Here is his chance for redemption. And if he doesn’t get it, I’m not afraid to say, I’ll be pretty upset.

I admit I’m also a fan because I actually got to meet Blais when he came to Columbus a couple of years back for the Top Chef tour. You can relive my “Top Chef” adventure here and here and here and here.

I’m hoping to share some really cool “Top Chef” related stuff with you guys tomorrow, so Stay Tuned…

Monday, March 28, 2011

Your First Look at "The Judds"

In last week’s “Stay Tuned” column, I gave you my thoughts on the new OWN reality series, “The Judds,” which follows Naomi and Wynonna Judd as they travel on their farewell tour.

Now you can get a preview of the show yourself here. Be sure to let me know what you think.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Paramount Players' "Hairspray": "You Can't Stop the Beat"

ABC Family is airing its premiere of the 2007 movie “Hairspray” Sunday at 9:30 p.m. But if you really want the “Hairspray” experience, I highly recommend you check it out this weekend at the Paramount Arts Center in Ashland.

The Paramount Players are presenting the musical today (March 25th) at 8 p.m. and Saturday, March 26th at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.

I have never seen either movie or any performance on stage, so this was my first introduction to the “Hairspray” world. I was impressed at how socially conscious it is, and I had to wonder if the middle school and high school students I was watching it with really got it since it’s something I hope they’ve never had to face in person.

If you have never seen it, “Hairspray,” which is based on the 1988 John Waters movie, tells the story of Tracy Turnblad. She’s an adorable, talented high school student whose dream is to be one of the dancers on the “Corney Collins Show” (Think “American Bandstand.”) and to get heartthrob dancer Link Larkin to fall in love with her. But Tracy’s a tad on the overweight side and doesn’t really get the attention she deserves until she learns a few moves from her black classmate. Her newfound popularity turns not only her life on its ear, but everyone else’s as well—including Link’s.

It’s clear from the show’s first note that the key to a successful performance is to cast a good Tracy and they’ve definitely got a good one here in Portsmouth High School junior Abbie Emmons. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that Emmons and I are Facebook friends that met when we both competed in this year’s “Portsmouth Idol.” But it’s hard to believe I would feel any differently about her performance if I didn’t know her. She has just the right amount of sweetness and perkiness to make you root for Tracy to get the guy and find a way to integrate “Corney Collins.”

But Emmons doesn’t have to carry the show on her own as she has great support from the rest of the cast. Savannah-Lee Mumford was deservedly a crowd favorite as Tracy’s goofy best friend, Penny. And if you know anything about “Hairspray,” you know that the part of Tracy’s mother, Edna, is played by a man—in this case, Michael Niday. Niday was outstanding and lit up every scene in which he appeared. And I loved every solo Susan Taylor (Motormouth Maybelle) sang.

In all honesty, I could say something good about every member of the cast. Director Melanie Sweeney, who also plays Penny’s mother, Prudy, has done an excellent job putting the cast together. Kudos also to Sweeney for her outstanding choreography and Amber Ferguson for her musical direction.

Even the high school students that attended Thursday morning’s special performance left the theater singing the songs because try as you might, “You Can’t Stop the Beat”…

We are so fortunate to be able to see local performances of this caliber in the Tri-State, so I hope theater lovers will take advantage of this opportunity to see a good one in the beautiful Paramount Arts Center.

For ticket information, visit the PAC website.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Coal" Review: Time for the Spotlight to Shine

In the premiere of the new Spike TV docu-series, “Coal,” one of the coal miners laughs that if anyone has a problem with their job, they should come do his.

I actually said out loud while watching it, “No thank you.”

I could never be a coal miner. But I am very thankful there are people who can be. Because without them, I wouldn’t be able to share this with you right now.

“Coal” tells the story of a group of those working class heroes at the Cobalt Mine in Big Sandy, W.Va. It’s a fairly small operation so every ounce of coal is important.

In the premiere, mine owners Tom Roberts and Mike Crowder realize that the evening shift is not mining as much coal as the day shift. And the two are forced to consider letting go one of their miners. The decision is made even harder by the fact that mining is not just a job for these men. It’s a way of life.

But the difference in production is hard to overlook, especially since the dayshift’s operator of the continuous miner (the machine that extracts the coal), Andy Christian, Sr., is so proficient. However, when Andy calls in sick, the whole day’s work could be in jeopardy. And the mine really can’t afford too many bad days.

The show has the dramatic elements necessary to make a successful docu-series, but it never loses its reverence for the miners. There’s so salaciousness here. This is real people, working real hard for their real families. And it’s that realism that makes the show so fascinating.

Executive Prodcuer/Show Creator Thom Beers told me last week that his goal with all of his shows, which include “Deadliest Catch” and “Ice Road Truckers,” is to take people places they never get to go to see blue collar heroes in high risk, high reward situations. That’s exactly what he’s done with “Coal” and I for one am glad he did.

It’s time for a spotlight to shine through the dark.

“Coal” premieres Wednesday, March 30th at 10 p.m. on Spike TV…

Photo Credit: Scott McDermott for Spike TV

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Taking Some Time to Mourn the End of the "Two and a Half Men" We Know and Love

My “Stay Tuned” column today lists my five favorite episodes of “Two and a Half Men.” Now, here as promised, is the bottom half of my ten favorite episodes of “Two and a Half Men”…

10) “He Smelled the Ham, He Got Excited,” December 8, 2008 (Season 6)
Just when it seems there’s no hope for Jake’s (Angus T. Jones) future, Evelyn (Holland Taylor) discovers he may have a future as a chef—until he almost burns down her house.

9) “Twenty-Five Little Pre-Pubers Without a Snootfull,” November 10, 2003 (Season 1)
When Charlie (Charlie Sheen) ends up in charge of Jake’s school musical about the Industrial Revolution, it turns into a salute to his most popular commercial jingles. “It’s got oats and corns and wheat. It’s the sweetest breakfast treat…”

8) “Hey, I Can Pee Outside in the Dark,” April 19, 2004 (Season 1)
Jake is in a surly mood and nobody can figure out why—except Charlie’s housekeeper, Berta (Conchata Ferrell). This episode introduced Jane Lynch (“Glee”) as Dr. Linda Freeman, who would eventually become Charlie’s therapist.

7) “Squab, Squab, Squab, Squab, Squab,” May 16, 2005 (Season 2)
When Evelyn demands that Jake spend the night with her, she gets way more than she bargained for when he doesn’t react well to her dinner menu. I’ve never heard the word squab so many times in such a short span in my life. But every time is funny.

6) “My D---n Stalker,” February 12, 2007 (Season 4)
When faced with the prospect of losing her, Charlie finally admits his feelings for his stalker, Rose (Melanie Lynskey). Meanwhile, Allison Janney guest stars as a woman Alan meets online. I’ve always liked this one because Charlie shows a lot more heart than he usually does.

You can see a video that includes what I think is one of the funniest moments of the series here. It’s the scene from “Those Big Pink Things With Coconuts” where Charlie and Jake play quiz bowl. Of course now, it almost makes me want to cry more than it does laugh…

So what are your favorite episodes? Feel free to post a comment or let me know on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Greg Gayne/Warner Bros.

Billy Ray Cyrus Visits "The View"

Billy Ray Cyrus will guest on “The View” tomorrow (Friday, March 18th) morning.

According to a release from ABC, “Cyrus opens up to hosts Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd about his daughter Miley, his marriage, family, and clears up some recent controversial topics that made national headlines.” He’ll also perform a song.

“The View” airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on ABC.

By the way, Cyrus will be returning to Ashland’s Summer Motion July 4th…

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Simon Cowell Picks His First Judge

Simon Cowell has hired his first judge for “The X Factor,” according to reports…

“The Hollywood Reporter” first reported that its Island Def Jam chairman Antonio “L.A.” Reid.

Reid’s contract with Universal Music ended in December, but he’s getting an early release so he can be a part of the show. Word is he will land a position at Sony Music, which is offering the $5 million record contract to “The X Factor” winner.

FOX has not confirmed the news…

Charlie Sheen to Play Columbus: Duh, Winning!

Charlie Sheen is bringing the winning to Columbus…

Charlie Sheen LIVE: My Violent Torpedo of Truth tour will hit Columbus’ Palace Theater Wednesday, April 6th at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $47-$77 and go on sale tomorrow (Thursday) at 10 a.m.

His first two venues sold out VERY quickly, so if you’re wanting to go, you’d better move fast…

Sheen will hit Cleveland April 5th AND somehow he’s got a date at Radio City Music Hall April 8th…

Is there anyone out there who’s going to see him in Columbus? Post a comment or hit me up on Facebook. I’d love to hear about it…

"Hot In Cleveland" Turns Up the Heat For Its Final Episodes

There are only two episodes of “Hot in Cleveland” remaining and they are pulling out all of the stops for them…

Carl Reiner, Gregory Harrison, Sherri Shepherd and Amy Sedaris will guest star and Mark Deklin will reprise his role as Elka’s (Betty White) attorney, Kirk.

Here are the episode descriptions from TV Land:

Wednesday, March 16
Carl Reiner reprises his role as Max, Elka’s (Betty White) on-again-off-again beau, who Elka tries to convince to stay in Cleveland during the winter, while Victoria (Wendie Malick) falls hard for a new man (Gregory Harrison) she meets during an “Oh, Hi, Ohio” interview, but she must contend with his two young children.

Wednesday, March 23
While trying to find a way out of her immigration “problem,” Joy (Jane Leeves) gets herself smack dab in the middle of another scandal, of sorts, involving the governor and his wife, played by Amy Sedaris. In the meantime, Elka’s trial has come at last, where she faces a no-nonsense judge played by Sherri Shepherd, who returns to reprise this role. Elka’s attorney, played by Mark Deklin, suggests that her only hope for a not guilty verdict might be some questionable contact with a jury member.

“Hot In Cleveland” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on TV Land…

TV Land Awards to Learn "The Facts of Life"

The TV Land Awards continue to add some pretty cool reunions…

The cast of “The Facts of Life” will reunite to receive the Pop Culture Award. Mindy Cohn, Kim Fields, Nancy McKeon, Lisa Whelchel and Charlotte Rae are all scheduled to appear.

Also, Gabe Kaplan, who played Mr. Kotter, and Robert Hegyes, who played Juan Epstein, have committed to joining the rest of the “Welcome Back, Kotter” cast to receive the 35th Anniversary Award.

The TV Land Awards will air Sunday, April 17th at 9 p.m. on TV Land…

FOX Sets "So You Think You Can Dance" Return

FOX has announced the premiere dates for its returning summer favorites…

“So You Think You Can Dance” will return for its eighth season with a two-hour premiere Thursday, May 26th at 8 p.m. Mary Murphy returns as a regular judge this season, along with executive producer/creator Nigel Lythgoe. They’ll be joined by guest judges Robin Antin, Lil C, Tyce Diorio, Toni Redpath and Jason Gilkison.

After the audition episodes, the weekly two-hour performance shows will air Wednesdays at 8 p.m. with the results shows airing Thursdays at 8 p.m.

“Masterchef” will return for a second season beginning Tuesday, July 19th at 9 p.m. Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot return as the judges. The show will air on both Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m.

Photo Credit: Frank Micelotta/FOX

The Black Eyed Peas to Rock the Kids' Choice

Sounds like the Black Eyed Peas are going to give that medley thing another shot after their widely panned Super Bowl performance…

The Peas will do a medley of their hits at Nickelodeon’s 2011 Kids’ Choice Awards. Jack Black is hosting the event with appearances by Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Josh Duhamel, Jaden Smith, Jane Lynch, Miranda Cosgrove, Danica Patrick and many more. Big Time Rush will also perform their newest single, “Boyfriend.”

Kids can now cast their votes online in 20 different categories.

The 2011 Kids’ Choice Awards will air Saturday, April 2nd at 8 p.m. on Nickelodeon.

"Nick at Nite" Will Be There For You This Fall

Last week, Nickelodeon announced two new additions to its Nick at Nite lineup for 2011-2012…

“Friends” will begin airing on Nick at Nite in September. And in 2012, “Yes Dear,” the CBS comedy which starred Mike O’Malley, will join the lineup. “Nick at Nite” airs weeknights on Nickelodeon beginning at 7 p.m.

Since “Friends” is my favorite show of all time, I am thrilled at having one more place to watch the episodes…

TeenNick is Going Back to the 90s

For anyone who misses the kids programming of the 90s, you’re in luck…

TeenNick is bringing back many of its classic 90s shows for the nighttime programming block, “The 90s are All That!” The block will rotate shows including “All That,” “Clarissa Explains It All,” “The Adventures of Pete & Pete,” “Rugrats,” “Rocket Power,” “Salute Your Shorts,” “The Amanda Show” and “Kenan & Kel.”

The block will air Monday through Sunday from midnight to 2 a.m. beginning in the fall.

"The Cape" Concludes Online

If you’re looking for the final episode of “The Cape,” you’ll only find it on NBC’s website.

The network decided to not air the show’s 10th episode. And yes, that means the show is over.

You can see that episode here.

NBC Sets Steve Carell's "Office" Exit Date

Fans of Steve Carell (Michael) on “The Office” should mark their calendars now… is reporting that Carell’s last episode of “The Office” will air Thursday, April 28th. That’s three weeks before the show’s one-hour season finale May 19th.

Will Ferrell will guest star as Michael’s replacement for several episodes beginning in April…

"Terra Nova" Gets Pushed Back

Those of us who were psyched to see the premiere of FOX’s “Terra Nova” got a little dose of disappointment last week.

FOX announced that instead of giving us a sneak preview in May, as originally planned, the show will now premiere in the fall.

In the official press release, Kevin Reilly, FOX’s president of entertainment, said the reason was the show’s special effects. “‘Terra Nova’ is one of the most ambitious television series ever produced. The cutting-edge visual effects used to create the world of ‘Terra Nova,’ which is of massive scope and scale, require more time to be realized. This aspect of the series is essential, so we are pushing back the special early preview date to give the visual effects team the time needed for their ground-breaking work.”

Photo Credit: Michael Lavine/FOX

"Drop Dead Diva" Adds Some Divas for Its Season Premiere

The third season premiere of Lifetime’s “Drop Dead Diva” will be jam packed with guest appearances…

Paula Abdul will return as the judge that acts as Jane’s (Brooke Elliott) conscience. LeAnn Rimes will guest star as Jane’s client ad talk show host Wendy Williams will guest as a judge. There will also be a musical dream sequence with the cast choreographed by Keith “Tyce” Diorio of “So You Think You Can Dance.”

By the way, Huntington native Richard Boggs is working as one of the hairstylists on the set of “Diva” this season, which is currently in production in Atlanta. The show will return to Lifetime this summer…
Photo Credit: Lifetime

TNT Brings Old Favorites Back This Summer

Last week, TNT unveiled its summer schedule and there are a lot of things to get excited about…

“The Closer” and “Rizzoli & Isles” will return Monday, July 11th. Also returning this summer on dates to be announced are “Men of a Certain Age,” “Leverage,” “HawthoRNe,” with new cast member Marc Anthony, and “Memphis Beat,” which was co-created by Huntington native, Josh Harto.

Two new series will premiere this summer as well. The much anticipated “Falling Skies” starring Noah Wyle and executive produced by Steven Spielberg. It will premiere Sunday, June 19th with a two-hour movie. “Franklin & Bash” starring the always welcome Mark-Paul Gosselaar, will premiere Wednesday, June 1st.

Photo Credit: Darren Michaels/TNT

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"V" Season Finale: What Now?

My first thought when the season finale of “V” concluded was what now? Because I’m totally unsure of where the show will go next.

But I’m totally sure that I want to find out…

ABC always finds a way to infuriate me, but I’m hoping it does the right thing this time. After the amazing hour we got tonight, “V” totally deserves another season…

Warning: If you have not seen the season finale of “V,” stop reading now.

When Anna kicked her plans into high gear, forcing the Fifth Column to speed up their plotting, it was almost like ABC telling the show they had to speed up their plans. The Fifth Column rose to the occasion and so did the show’s writers. And fortunately for us, the writers’ plans didn’t unravel as badly as the Fifth Column’s did.

I thought both Laura Vandervoort (Lisa) and Morena Baccarin (Anna) both rose to the occasion as well. With more time, the story probably could have been fleshed out a little better, but it was a good twist to see Anna using what she fears most—human emotion—to save her own life. And it was totally understandable that someone so new to emotion could be so overly manipulated by it. The horror on Lisa’s face as she realized her mistake was beautiful.

Speaking of Lisa’s mistake, it was tough to see Diana (Jane Badler) die, but I can understand why it was necessary for the story. Kudos to Badler for all the great drama she gave us this season.

It was not difficult to see Ryan (Morris Chestnut) die since he kind of had it coming and it was a great twist to see him killed by the very person all of his actions were meant to protect. It was hard to watch Tyler (Logan Huffman) die, but only because it was gross. I wasn’t sorry to see him go.

I’m so glad to see Jack (Joel Gretsch) survive the mayhem. He has certainly come into his own as of late. Chad (Scott Wolf) had started to play a much more important role as well, but I’m pretty sure he’s a goner—unless Anna has another, more devious plan for him.

And how about Marc Singer? Although he only appeared briefly, he was awesome. And the idea of a secret network of agencies working together to bring down the Vs is a good one that makes sense.

But the most exciting part of the network is that Paul (Roark Critchlow) is a part of it. When it was revealed that Paul and Chris (Jay Karnes) had been spying on Erica, I was bummed because I was sure that meant Paul was with the Vs. Now it’s clear there’s somewhat of a future for his character and I couldn’t be happier for Critchlow.

Which leads me back to my original question. What now?

Hobbes is mysteriously gone. Lisa is imprisoned and replaced by an imposter, Marcus may or may not be back on Anna’s side (He seemed to know Erica was Fifth Column.), Chad is who-knows-where, Erica has been introduced to Project Aries and all of humanity appears to be under Anna’s control thanks to Amy’s bliss.

So many questions to be answered, But first and foremost ABC has a question to answer. Should “V” get a third season? I believe the show has done everything it can to receive a resounding yes.

So what did you guys think of the finale? Who were you sad to see go? Feel free to post a comment, or hit me up on Facebook.

Attention "V" Fans: Tonight's Season Finale ROCKS!

There’s so much that I could say about tonight’s season finale of “V,” but I am not a spoiler kind of girl.

So instead I will just tell you that it absolutely ROCKS! There are surprises at every turn—surprise deaths, a surprise disappearance, AND a surprise about my favorite character that actually made me cheer out loud.

The episode is entitled “Mother’s Day,” but I would have called it “Shifty Eyes” because there are plenty of cool shifty looks between members of the Fifth Column as they carry out their plan.

Plus, Marc Singer is awesome in a fairly brief appearance. And Jane Badler is as awesome as always. I’d also give some kudos to Morena Baccarin (Anna) and Laura Vandervoort (Lisa) who really rise to the occasion as well.

And I don’t think it will spoil anything to tell you that everything ends in a game-changing cliffhanger that will make you want to storm the halls of ABC if the show doesn’t get renewed. It’s that good…

I’ll have more to say after the show when I’m allowed to say it. Feel free, in the meantime, to post a comment here or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

Photo Credit: Bob D'Amico/ABC

Sunday, March 13, 2011

"V" Executive Producer: "It's a pretty terrific season finale"

Thursday, I was privileged to speak with Steve Pearlman, one of the executive producers of “V.” He was very frank with me about the difficulties the show faced this season when its episode order was cut. And he made a pretty good case for why the show should be renewed.

Plus, he told me a little about the season finale, though he was very careful not to give anything away…

Q: One of the great things about the show this season has been how fast everything moves. Tell me a little about the decision process to speed up the pace of the storytelling.

It was a very conscious decision. The feedback we were getting from the network and even the viewers was that not enough was happening. So going into the second season, it was a very conscious decision to really try to jam pack each episode as much as we possibly could.

The fact that we had originally been ordered for 13 episodes and it ended up being 10 episodes ultimately kind of ended up accelerating even more than we had planned toward the end of the season. Because we knew where we wanted to get to by the season finale, we just had to figure out a way to get there quicker. So the last three episodes had been planned to arc out over 6 episodes. And then we ultimately had to collapse that.

Q: Was it tough for you guys and the writers to go from 13 episodes to 10?

It was very difficult. It was difficult on a lot of levels. It was difficult emotionally because nobody likes to get cut back. There were very logical kinds of reasons having to do with scheduling and what not that the network made that decision. But when you’re kind of in the throes of it, it becomes very emotional. So there was that component of it. And it was kind of a doubly hard pill to swallow because all of the feedback we had been getting from the network to the finished cuts was that they had been very happy. So to be getting the feedback of, we really like what we’re seeing, we’re putting you on in a time period that is more protected, but now we’re going to cut your order short, I think that was emotionally very difficult for the writers, for the cast. The crew was a little bit more protected from the ins and outs of the politics of the network.

It didn’t jive. It was like you like us but you want to break up. It was tough on that basis. It was also tough practically because we had arced the stories out over 13 episodes. We knew how we wanted to end up. We knew basically how we wanted to get there. This was around episode six, seven, when ABC decided to put us on in January, thereby cutting the order by three. We were shooting episode six, we were prepping episode seven, we had scripts at that point for episodes eight and nine, I believe, already in some various forms of drafts. So basically, we already had a script for episode nine, we were planning three more episodes after that. Now all of a sudden episode nine is your second to last episode. So you’ve got to take what was episodes ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen and jam it all into episode 10. So just purely from a storytelling, practical, logistics basis that was very difficult and it meant that episode nine, which was already in existence as a script, had to be modified a little bit to be able to step out some of the stories so that we could get to what was ultimately our season finale.

Even at that, we went back to the network and pitched them on the idea of maybe doing a two-hour season finale and that was not something, we couldn’t get them to agree to that. So it was, okay guys, we’ve got one episode now. We’ve got episode 10. We’ve got to get four episodes of story jammed into episode 10. I think when you see the episode it’s pretty non-stop out of the gate, which is great. I wish we could do that every single week. It’s a pretty terrific season finale. One of the by products of having to jam so much story into one episode, we ended up shooting a script that ended up being almost 18 minutes longer than what we’re allowed by our format time. We crammed too much in, we couldn’t fit it all and ultimately we had to cut quite a bit out in editorial. But I think in the end it actually made for a stronger episode so I’m not unhappy about that.

Q: What can you tell me about the finale?

I think the main story, which is something we’ve certainly been tracking all season long, we get to a climax with the story we ended episode nine on the other night where Diana has now joined with the Fifth Column. At the end of the last episode, Lisa’s in, Diana’s in, we’ve seen now that Marcus is on their side. Joshua has regained his memory so it’s all kind of coming together now for some kind of big showdown. I think that’s all I’ll say. I think that’s what you can expect to see in the season finale.

Q: Is it fair to say that possibly not everyone will make it out alive?

I think that is fair to say.

Q: What was it like having Marc Singer in the finale?

Marc was great. He was only with us shooting for two days. We shot nine days for the episode and he came in toward the end of the shoot. He was terrific. The cast got along with him and he seemed to just slip right in. It was fun to see Marc and Jane [Badler] together. I don’t think that the two of them had actually seen each other since the original series wrapped back in the 80s. So they had a little bit of a reunion, which was kind of fun. The thing about Marc that I think we enjoyed and appreciated, much like Jane Badler, was certainly there’s a connection from them to the old series and for fans that’s a real treat. For us, he embodied the character that has been written. For new viewers, people who didn’t know or watch the original series, you can tune in to this episode and see he’s just a great actor playing a great character. It’s not like this big stunt. So it really works on two levels.

Q: The transformation of Erica has been a major arc this season. Why was it important to transform Erica and send her in this tougher direction?

You see this on a lot of television shows where you see characters go through transformations. The arc of Erica, which the writers kind of dubbed the Annafication of Erica, I think was a great arc for her. And I think to see a mother, a woman, a leader, a professional who at the beginning when we first meet her is all about doing things the right way and ultimately we see that character pushed to the brink where they’re willing to compromise anything, including their own family, for a cause. And then presumably they have some kind of wakeup call that they’ve gone too far. That maybe they’re not looking at things too clearly. And I think that’s ultimately what we’re seeing with Erica. And the question is when does she wake up? When does she realize she’s gone too far? And I think you’ll start to get a sense of that in the season finale.

Q: How optimistic are you that you’ll be picked up for another season?

I’m always optimistic. I think that the show is kind of a bright spot in an otherwise dim night on ABC. I read last night after I got home from work that Michael Chiklis has now signed on to do a pilot for another network, which pretty much spells the end for “No Ordinary Family.” As if that wasn’t already kind of prescribed. And I know that “Detroit 1-8-7” is a show that the network is very fond of creatively, but no one’s been watching it. So week after week after week, since we premiered nine weeks ago, we’ve seen this kind of tentpole at 9 o’clock.

When I first got into this business a hundred years ago, my background was in research. So I have a background in understanding the ratings probably more than anybody would want to. And to see that kind of ratings build at nine o’clock, I mean we’re building a half a ratings point or more in the adult 18-49 demo, which is pretty extraordinary, and then those people just go away at 10 o’clock. There is definitely a sense of appointment television for this show.

I wish the numbers were bigger, I can’t lie about that. But there is a pretty extraordinary fan base that is coming to the show week after week and I think that’s the kind of thing that if you’re sitting in an executive office in Burbank trying to make decisions about your schedule, you can’t ignore that. Because the reality in today’s television environment is that they could decide to take “V” off the air and put something else on there next year and it could be doing “Detroit 1-8-7” kind of numbers and they would be a half a ratings point less than what they’re getting now in that time period.

In reality, my expectation is if the show were to get ordered for a third season, we would be in a similar fashion where we’re not on the fall schedule, it kind of comes on mid-season as a replacement which is a challenge in and of itself because it’s off the air for seven or eight months. Television viewing is kind of a habitual thing. You watch it because you get hooked. If it’s not there, the habit can become broken. And that’s unfortunate. But in reality, if the show were ordered for a third season that’s how it would be ordered.

Q: Have you made any plans for what you’d do in the third season?

Broad strokes. We haven’t nailed down anything specific, it’s a little bit early for that. In reality, we just finished doing the sound mix for episode 10 literally last week and we’ve still got visual effects that we’re fine tuning for the episode that airs Tuesday. So focusing on season three, that would be something we would start doing in the next several weeks.

Q: What would you say to the fans?

I’ve been a part of a lot of shows over the years, both producing and prior to that I was an executive at Warner Bros. I’ve seen in this show something that is unlike anything I’ve seen before in terms of the passion for this show. When I came to “V” back at the pilot, that was not something that I really expected or anticipated. I knew it was based on an old series. I knew when that series was on in the early 80s that it had been popular, but I never expected the kind of passion and the kind of attachment that people have to this. So first and foremost, I’d say thank you to the people who are watching it. It’s pretty extraordinary. And I’d say thank you to our cast. You’ve got a group of very talented people who were displaced from their homes to move up to Vancouver for the better part of two years. And they really put their heart and soul into these characters. I think they really found nuance to the characters. I think that they took the characters to new levels and it was fun to see that happen on a weekly basis.

I think we had very talented writers and crew. In many respects, I think we were like the little engine that could. We had a very rough first season, we overcame that, were ordered for a second season. I think that for whatever reason, expectations from the network have been fairly low, and I think we’ve managed to exceed the expectations. And I think that’s just because there’s something about this show, about this particular piece of iconography in television lore, that people have tapped into. I’m happy to have been a part of this. I hope we have the opportunity to continue and make more. But more than anything I think I would just say thank you to everyone who has been watching and showing their incredible support.

The season finale of “V” airs Tuesday, March 15th at 9 p.m. on ABC…

Photos Credit: Jack Rowand/ABC

Friday, March 11, 2011

Jon Cryer Once Again Takes the High Road

If only more of Jon Cryer had rubbed off on Charlie Sheen...

Cryer once again turned to "Conan" to answer Sheen calling him a "troll." And once again, he showed how classy--and funny--he truly is.

Hey, Chuck Lorre! Let's get him to "Mike & Molly" or "The Big Bang Theory" stat!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Today's Column: More About "V" With More Coming...

Today’s “Stay Tuned” column in the “Herald-Dispatch” is a reminder to everyone that the season finale of “V” is coming up this Tuesday.

But I’ve got much more coming, including an interview with “V” executive producer, Steve Pearlman, who gave me a very candid interview. He told me about the reaction to the network cutting the show order from 13 to 10 episodes and his thoughts on whether the show will be back for another season.

Plus, he gave me the scoop on Marc Singer’s time on the set and a small fragment about what we’ll see in the finale.

I’ll have it up just as soon as I can, so Stay Tuned…

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Today's Column: "The Celebrity Apprentice" Is Bringing the Crazy

Today's "Stay Tuned" column in "The Herald-Dispatch" is my review of "The Celebrity Apprentice."

It is going to be all kinds of crazy!
Photo Credit: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

TV Land Welcomes Back the Sweathogs

Welcome back, sweathogs!

TV Land announced today that John Travolta will reunite with the cast of “Welcome Back Kotter” at the 2011 TV Land Awards.

“Kotter” will receive the 35th Anniverary Award at the show, which will tape Sunday, April 10th. It will air Sunday, April 17th at 9 p.m. on TV Land.

Travolta will reunite with Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Ron Palillo, Marcia Strassman and more cast members to be announced.

Other awards being presented are the Legend Award to Regis Philbin, the Fan Favorite Award to the cast of “Family Ties” and the Impact Award to “The Cosby Show.”

Photo Credit: TV Land

Cincinnati's Mayor Goes "Undercover"

This Sunday will be an “Undercover Boss” first as Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory becomes the first elected official to go undercover.

Here are the before and after pictures. Would you recognize him?

“Undercover Boss” airs Sunday, March 6th at 9 p.m. on CBS

Photos Credit: Copyright 2011 Studio Lambert. All Rights Reserved.

USA Teams With Mark Harmon

USA has added another great character to its repertoire and he’ll be played by TV’s most popular actor…

USA announced today that they have acquired the rights to develop a two-hour movie based on the best-selling series of “Prey” novels by John Sandford. The movie will star Mark Harmon.

USA’s programming chief, Jeff Wachtel, said today, “Mark Harmon could read the phonebook and we’d probably want to put it on the air!”

Amen, brother…

The movie will be based on the 10th “Prey” novel, “Certain Prey.” Harmon will play the series protagonist, Minneapolis Deputy Police Chief Lucas Davenport.

“The Real Housewives of Orange County” Review: Will We Still Care?

After the craziness of New Jersey, the catfights of Beverly Hills, the brashness of Atlanta and the political scandals of D.C., you have to wonder if anyone will still care about the original housewives of Orange County.

And after watching the premiere, I’m still wondering…

In case you’ve forgotten, the Orange County Housewives are Tamra Barney, Vicki Gunvalson, Alexis Bellino and Gretchen Rossi (Lynne Curtin is no longer a regular.). They will eventually be joined by Peggy Tanous, but we don’t meet her in the premiere.

Tamra is divorced from Simon, who she had troubles with all last season, and she’s loving every minute of her freedom. She’s also trying to mend fences with everyone she hurt last season, especially Vicki. But she also decides she wants to try and finally bury the hatchet with Gretchen. But things do not go as planned for Tamra as Gretchen seems to have no interest in being friends with Tamra. However, her reluctance to try with Tamra may end up destroying her friendship with Alexis.

Rivalries are the touchstone of all of the “Housewives” shows, but the central “Orange County” rivalry—Gretchen vs. Tamra—has honestly grown a little stale. Especially since Tamra seems willing to move on, making Gretchen look even worse than she has in the past.

Of course, there is the possibility that I’m being unfair to “Orange County” because I’m comparing it to all of the other “Housewives” shows. And it’s always been pretty tame in comparison. Or maybe it’s honestly time to shake this one up a little.

It could start by digging a hole and putting a hatchet in it…

“The Real Housewives of Orange County” premieres Sunday, March 6th at 10 p.m. on Bravo…

Photo Credit: Tommy Garcia/Bravo

Jon Cryer Takes the High Road

THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is how you handle a scandal not of your making.

This is also why I love Jon Cryer and feel SO badly for him.

Check out this video from today's "Ellen"...