Category Archives: Television

TELEVISION: This Just In! Champion Jeopardy Player Donates Winnings To Charity!

Every now and then, someone does something so cool that it takes a few seconds to wrap one’s head around it. Such was the case of Donna Vogel’s decision to donate of $85,299, her complete winnings on Jeopardy [check your listings for time], last year.

Donna Vogel 

Vogel, a scientist from John Hopkins Medical Institute, said she did so because “Being on Jeopardy! last year was so much fun, but I felt like I didn’t ‘earn’ the money—I received it for playing a game. Need is enormous now, and contributions are down all over. I have a pretty comfortable life and so many people need this more than I do.”

Currently playing in this year’s Jeopardy Tournament of Champions, Vogel is, again, planning on donating her winnings to seventeen charities – especially those that deal with helping the hungry and homeless, and with global disaster relief.

Her next appearance is for the tournament’s semi-final, this evening.

INTERVIEW: Guiding Light’s Jessica Leccia

Jessica Leccia

Recently I had the pleasure to sit down with Guiding Light’s Jessica Leccia to discuss her character Natalia Rivera and the burgeoning same-sex love story energizing daytime TV. The stunning Leccia alongside sexy soap siren Crystal Chappell (Olivia Spencer) are throwing caution to the wind and raising some eyebrows on Guiding Light with their latest angst filled plot twist gradually revealing the unlikely love story between the two friends while trying to raise Olivia’s eight year old daughter Emma (Jacqueline Tsirkin) in a loving, stable home. You wont find any mention of labels or jumping on the bandwagon of what’s hot and controversial. There’s no fanfare or press conference bragging to the audience or mainstream America, “Hey look at us, we’re ground breaking!”

What you will find is the portrayal of a beautiful, loving family who, like most families, make school lunches in the morning and build class projects together at the kitchen table. More importantly there’s a true-to-life story that has been carefully crafted over the course of a year. Yes, I said a year! It’s not contrived or salacious, though the on-screen chemistry between Leccia and Chappell will melt your TV. It’s playful, intense, passionate, sexy and funny and has everybody glued to the edge of their seats, begging for more!

But at its heart, there is a love story in the truest possible sense. Brilliant writing from Ellen Wheeler (executive producer) and Jill Lorie Hurst (co-head writer) paired with two talented actresses, Jessica Leccia and Crystal Chappell, have not only struck a cord with daytime fans but are also paving the way for a positive change.

A very pregnant and incredibly busy Jessica Leccia graciously took some time out of her day to chat with me. Here’s what she had to say:

Continue reading INTERVIEW: Guiding Light’s Jessica Leccia

Television: Smallville ‘Turbulence ‘Sneak Peek’

TESS SETS A TRAP FOR CLARK — Tess (Cassidy Freeman) invites Clark (Tom Welling) to a press conference in New York but when an explosion rocks the private jet they are on, Clark must figure out how to save them without Tess learning his secret.  Unbeknownst to Clark, Tess orchestrated the explosion to get Clark to reveal his powers.  Meanwhile, Davis (Sam Witwer) discovers a surprising way to control the monster within.  Kevin Fair directed the episode written by Turi Meyer & Al Septien.

The all new Smallville episode Turbulence airs on the CW Network on March 19th at 8PM EST right before an all new episode of Supernatural. Check out the sneak peek of this exciting new episode of Smallville.

Television: Supernatural ‘On The Head of A Pin’ Stills Gallery Plus Cool Supernatural News

SOMEONE’S KILLING ANGELS — Someone found Lucifer’s sword and is using it to kill angels.  Castiel (Misha Collins) and Uriel (guest star Robert Wisdom) have captured Alastair (guest star Christopher Heyerdahl) and ask Dean (Jensen Ackles) to use the torturing skills he learned in Hell to extract information from him so they can stop the murders.  Sam (Jared Padalecki) is concerned Dean can’t handle the job but Dean agrees to do it.  However, when Alastair reveals some shocking information, Dean’s world is shattered.  Mike Rohl directed the episode written by Ben Edlund.

‘On The Head of Pin’ Airs on the CW Network on March 19th at 9PM EST following an all new episode of Smallville.

Click on the photo to see the Stills Gallery for ‘On the Head of Pin’

All Stills are copyright 2009 to Warnerbros Television/The CW Network

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In other Supernatural related news

The new issue of Entertainment Weekly (on stands 3/20) will have a big SUPERNATURAL feature that fans and viewers alike won’t want to miss!!

Young John Winchester is now Syd on “Rockville CA”: Fans of “Supernatural” can see Young John Winchester himself – actor Matt Cohen – in “Rockville, CA,” the original digital series from executive producer Josh Schwartz (“Gossip Girl,” “Chuck,” “The O.C.”). The music-themed show premieres March 17 on TheWB.com, with four episodes posted at launch and two new episodes every Tuesday thereafter through May 12. Cohen plays Syd, the gorgeous-looking male presence at the club, who drives the girls wild. He is a local bass player and also serves as a part-time bartender. Syd hardly ever speaks, but when he does, it is often in the form of a song lyric or a commentary about music.  Catch Cohen beginning Tuesday, March 17 at www.rockvilleca.com. Get on the list!

Television: Gossip Girl ‘Age of Dissonance’ Sneak Peek

THE SENIORS PUT ON A PRODUCTION OF “THE AGE OF INNOCENCE”/SEBASTIAN STAN (“KINGS”) RETURNS AS CARTER BAIZEN — MONDAY MARCH 16TH AT 8PM EST ON THE CW NETWORK.

The Constance Billard and St. Jude seniors put on a production of “The Age of Innocence” and find their personal lives mirroring conflicts in the play.  Serena (Blake Lively) develops a crush on the play’s director, Julian (guest star Harmon Walsh), and enlists Vanessa’s (Jessica Szohr) knowledge of theater to help her get the otherwise uninterested guy’s attention.  Blair (Leighton Meester) receives devastating news about her future that leads her on a witch-hunt for the person responsible.  Dan (Penn Badgley) and Rachel (guest star Laura Breckenridge) agree to stay away from each other in the aftermath of being discovered as more than teacher and student, but find it impossible to keep that promise.  Chuck (Ed Westwick) enlists help from an unlikely source, his nemesis Carter Baizen (guest star Sebastian Stan).  Chace Crawford, Taylor Momsen and Matthew Settle also star.  Norman Buckley directed the episode written by Jessica Queller.

Catch the Sneak Peek below.

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TELEVISION: Better Off Ted – R&D Becomes Fodder For Sitcom!

Ted [Jay Harrington] is the head of a Research & Development team at Veridian Technologies. As the central character on Better Off Ted [ABC, Wednesdays, 8:30/7:30C], Ted is faced with the moral, ethical and legal situations that can arise out of the search for new and exciting products and processes – like the one where a member of his research team, Phil [Jonathan Slavin] is to be flash frozen for a year to see if the company’s suspended animation process will actually work.

BetterOffTed

In his position, Ted is aided by scientists the aforementioned Phil and his lab partner, Lem [Malcolm Barrett]. He relies on Linda [Andrea Anders] to check out the paperwork to make sure that the testing of the company’s various products and processes are safe enough to test on human subjects. He answers to Veronica [Portia de Rossi], a morally and ethically bankrupt vice-president of the company.

The premiere opens with a Veridian Technologies orientation video that explains exactly what it is that Viridian does – which seems to be almost everything [they don’t make cows, for example, but they have made a sheep]. After viewing the orientation video, it’s easy to see why the characters have their specific attitudes – something that makes situations like Ted and Linda’s attraction [which he fights and she ignores, for the most part] make sense.

Harrington is excellent as the morally and ethically sound Ted who has to try to squelch the many potential fiascos that Veronica causes through her complete obliviousness to even the concept of ethics [weaponize pumpkins, you say?] – and when Ted isn’t clear on the ethics of the situation, he has his daughter, Rose [Isabella Acres] to set him straight.

As Veronica, it’s good to see de Rossi working in a sitcom again, though I expect Better Off Ted to be another one of those shows that quickly gain critical acclaim but only a cult following. That would be a shame. She does have a way with blithe demands and matter-of-fact indiscretions. The support team of Anders, Slavin and Barrett complement Harrington and de Rossi beautifully. The five cast members have good chemistry and each possesses excellent comedic timing.

The script for the premiere does a good job of giving us the essentials of the premise and characters in a concise and remarkably thorough manner. Better Off Ted has the potential to be a bright spot in the diminishing universe of sitcoms.

Final Grade: B+

TELEVISION NEWS: Sci-Fi Channel is now SyFy

TELEVISION NEWS: Sci-Fi Becomes SyFy

In one of the dumbest rebranding moves ever, one of my favorite networks Sci-Fi Channel is rebranding itself to become the SyFy network. There must be some reason beyond the explanation they give for this change. Their stated reason is they have grown beyond the “generic” Sci-Fi moniker and wanted a new name to reflect that. But really, is SyFy not going to make people think Sci-Fi?  No, my conspiracy radar is up. What’s going on here?  Since Eclipse is part of Sci-Fi’s “Digital Network,” I’m going to see if I can get some email or phone time with Sci-Fi President Dave Howe later this week to see what the dillio is with this. At the very least I’m sure there will be a conference call in a few weeks. I’m sure I won’t get more than what’s in the press release, but I’ll give it the old college try. My characteristic, tactful response to the PR folks who sent the press release “What? This is a stupid idea.”  Read the full press release after the break.

Continue reading TELEVISION NEWS: Sci-Fi Channel is now SyFy

Television: Gossip Girl Sets the Stage for The Age of Dissonance

               “When God closes one door, he opens a play”

Gossip Girl makes it return to the CW Network lineup on Monday March 16th at PM EST with an episode that finds the senior class putting on the play ‘The Age of Innocence’ amid their own lives filled with the usual dealings of lies, deceits, revenge and friendship.

gossip girll

Blair (Leighton Meester) gets some difficult news about her hopes of attending Yale, while Serena (Blake Lively) deals with her crush on the play’s director a handsome, yet self absorbed man that Serena says ‘broods sexily’. Meanwhile Dan (Penn Badgley) is drawn back to his relationship with former teacher Rachel Carr(Laura Breckenridge).

Outside of the issues going on with the senior class students and their play, Chuck (Ed Westwick) finds himself going deeper into intrigue  as  he tries to uncover the mystery about his late father and what connections he had with the super-secret underground society and catches up with the elusive Elle, who warned him about investigating the secret society.

The episode, written by Jessica Queller and directed by Norman Buckley is fast paced and filled with excellent character moments.  The Gossip Girl cast of young, talented actors continues to take the material given them and make it stand out in a line up of similar shows on the CW.

The Gossip Girl episode ‘The Age of Dissonance’ airs on Monday March 16th at pM EST on the CW Network.

TELEVISION: Kings Brings The Story of David To Life In An Alternate Universe!

The story of David’s conquest of the giant, Goliath, is timeless – the little guy defeating the much bigger guy because he isn’t taken seriously [and with the hand of God to guide him]. Of course, the rest of the story isn’t as well remembered because it can’t be boiled down into three words like “David and Goliath.” Once you get past the archetypal underdog tale, though, you find a rich story about how David rises from being a kid with a slingshot, to becoming King David – warrior, philosopher, musician and ruler.

Media Savvy King

Kings [NBC, Sundays, 8/7C] takes the story of David and translates it into a vaguely science-fictional alternate universe setting where it can be told as a contemporary drama. The result is American television’s first sci-fi/Biblical soap opera. It begins with King Linus Benjamin [Ian McShane] dedicating the newly completed capitol city of Shiloh – the story of how he became aware that God wanted him to become king and build the city is important. Shortly thereafter, war breaks out between Gilboa and its neighbor, Gath.

Continue reading TELEVISION: Kings Brings The Story of David To Life In An Alternate Universe!

TELEVISION: Cold Case: When is A Standard Procedural Not a Standard Procedural?

Cold Case [CBS, 9/8C] deals with a team of detectives that solve “cold” cases – cases that that have long since been given up on – usually because some pertinent information has floated to the surface, figuratively speaking. The one thing they are completely unprepared for is a case that involves the here and now – and when the victim is one of their own, they find themselves in a place they’ve never been.

Cold Case - Officer Down

In Officer Down, Will Jeffries [Thom Barry] and Nick Vera [Jeremy Ratchford] stop so that Will can pick up some milk. When Will enters the corner store and goes to the milk cooler, he is shot from behind and left to die, along with the store owner, a neighborhood mainstay whom everyone calls “Pops”. From there, the episode deals with the reactions of the rest of the team – Lilly Rush [Kathryn Morris], Scotty Valens [Danny Pino], Lt. John Stillman [John Finn], and Kat Miller [Tracie Thoms].

They find themselves not only having to work in the present, but also trying to find who ambushed one of their own. From their initial responses [Rush gets the call as she’s jogging and pulls up short; Valens was in a dare with a gorgeous young thing and just drops her off near her home and pulls away even as she’s asking if “we can do this again?”], to their intensity in working the investigation, we’ve never seen the team as focused – or as frustrated.

Thanks to a solid script from co-producer Charles Silber, we actually get to see new shadings of these characters [who would’ve thought that the sceptical Vera would find himself “getting good at prayer?”]. We get the show’s trademark flashbacks, but with one exception they’re only back a matter of days – but director keeps show’s unique look for them, which gives them more impact than usual. In fact, it’s through the flashbacks that we get to know Pops [Clarence Williams III] – something that both keeps us firmly grounded in the here and now, and shows us something we didn’t know about Jeffries.

There’s even an internal affairs investigation that doesn’t feel gratuitous – and Lt. Stillman learns who has it in for him. And yet, “officer Down” doesn’t feel rushed or cramped. It may be Cold Case’s best episode of the season [and there have been some really good ones].

Final Grade: A-

TELEVISION: 4 Reasons American Idol Has been Destroyed

TELEVISION: 4 Reasons American Idol is Ruined
TELEVISION: 4 Reasons American Idol is Ruined

This season of Idol so far has sucked. None of these contestants would be in the top 13 in any other year. But this year the Judges are exerting more blatant control over the process than ever. I’ve come up with a list of why American Idol is terrible this season.

4) Kara DioGuardi

I like KD but she adds nothing to the show, yeah her comments are cogent and on point but it seems like this year there really hasn’t been any disagreement from any of the judges on anything this year. I would have liked to see what would have happened if there was a 2-2 split decision, but so far that hasn’t happened. The Producers hired her as a big FU to Paula so she serves as a check against Paula’s antics, only problem is sober Paula is just boring.

3) Contestants

Can we have a more generic batch of folks with mediocre talent this year?  I’ve said it before, but after spending 8 years scouring the country and auditioning millions of people maybe it’s time the producers of AI finally give up. There really is a finite amount of truly talented singers in this country and they all have probably already auditioned for Idol. There’s no way this year’s crop of talent would be in the Top 13 in any other year – well maybe the Sanjaya year. I can see how these folks have potential with the right producer and songs behind them, but standing up there “naked” they just don’t have it. Even the Adam guy. He’s a good showman but singer, no.

2) Houseband/Production Values

I don’t remember if it was this bad in other years, but this year the houseband has been terrible. The arrangements were all really weird, the background singers have been off key and the audio quality on the microphones seem off which further exposes the fact that most of these people really aren’t that good.

1) Judges taking Control

I firmly believe that Simon hated Taylor Hicks so much that he raised his fist to the air and screamed “Why, God, Why!??!” And then vowed, “Never again.” Personally, I loved Hicks the season he won. But every since then the Producers have become more proactive in trying to direct the show to get the results they want. Last season it was the blatent favortism and over the top praise for the matchups that they wanted. They clearly wanted Archuletta to be last year’s Idol and they went through great lengths – in terms of their commentary to make that happen. David Cooke actually really fought his way to victory because the Judges clearly didn’t start to like him until round 5 or 6.  This year beyond simply directing the voting with overenthusatic praise and viciously slamming the people they don’t like. They’ve become more braisen, starting with the call back round when they saved 3 people that the audience had already voted off which was bad enough. But then they changed the top 12 to top 13 to save Anoop who they really liked. And now they instituted this ridiculous Save card.  So now if the judges disagree with America, they can decide to save one contestant as long there’s total agreement amongst the judges – who haven’t disagreed on anything else so far this year. So I seriously doubt there will be a case where Paula will want to save someone but then everyone else will veto her.  This is total crap, it destroys the spirit of the show and proves the Producers ultimately don’t care what America thinks.  I for one don’t think I’ll be watching any more Idol the rest of this season. This year they keep changing the rules at the last minute to get the result they ultimately want. The ironic thing is, this year,  everyone is so mediocre and bland that’s it’s hard to tell who the judges actually want in the top 3 this year. Where in the past it was always pretty clear.