Thursday, April 19, 2012
This year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction will honor artists who are still with us (Guns and Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys, Donovan) as well as those who sadly are not (Laura Nyro). Presenters will include Bette Midler, Carole King, Robbie Robertson, Chris Rock and Green Day.
The 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction will air on HBO May 5th (Saturday) at 9pm. It will feature the entire ceremony taped earlier at the official museum of rock in Cleveland Ohio.
We'll have more on Dick Clark in future posts as The Flaming Nose must recognize his enormous influence on television. For now, let's remember Levon Helm with this video from The Last Waltz. Levon is on drums, Robbie Robertson on guitar. The two had been estranged for many years, but reunited and buried the hatchet a few days ago before Levon passed away on April 19, 2012. I'm glad that happened, as I love and admire them both.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
- Stage 1: Best pilot I’ve ever seen. I laughed…I cried. Sheer genius.
- Stage 2: Why do I feel like the network is trying to manipulate my feelings for the characters? Why do I secretly hate Katherine McPhee? Whatever, the dance numbers still sizzle and love that NYC venue.
- Stage 3: Thank God for DVR and fast forward. Reading Vanity Fair through most of the episodes. Angelica Houston rocks though…I’ll look up from my magazine when she comes on.
- Stage 4: Oh is that still on the air? (this is the point where I usually regret the glowing, gushing blog post I wrote when it was still hot)
- Stage 5: Pull the plug, straight to the failed TV boneyard. Or worse…a 4th tier cable network like ION.
Smash is the story about the desperate people who want to make it on Broadway...as well as those who love and sometimes sort of hate them. It takes place in NYC (naturally) and it's about a stage show depicting the life of Marilyn Monroe. The characters are mostly believable and interesting. Karen (the innocent from Iowa played by Katherine McPhee) and Ivy (experienced but vulnerable played by Megan Hilty) are competing for the role of Marilyn while Tom (Christian Borle) the obligatory gay guy and Julia (Debra Messing) are featured as a song writing duo. The most compelling character so far is played by Academy Award winning actress Angelica Houston. She's the producer with a nasty ex-husband and a cute Irish bartender boyfriend. And although she doesn't appear in any of the snazzy musical numbers, I have to always put my magazine down when she joins a scene.
One thing that Smash does very well is to cleverly incorporate celebrity guest stars into the plot. Bernadette Peters appeared several weeks ago as "Mommy Dearest" to poor Ivy, who pouted fetchingly whenever her viperous mega star mother was on the set. This week's episode featured Uma Thurman as the latest actress to try to slither into Marilyn's sequined skin. She started out as a disaster (can't sing!) but if you stick around until the end of the episode, Uma morphs into an amazing version of the great MM. I can't fault NBC's production values on this series. They've spared no expense with the sets, the casting and the location. I do wish they'd fix that twinkly background music underneath the dialogue though, it's annoying.
Have you watched "Smash" yet? Do you like it as much as "Glee"? Which characters are your favorites? And....is anyone ever going to be able to play a proper Marilyn on the big stage?
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Thanks for Nothing -- ABC Takes "Titanic" Down to the Bottom Again, 100 Years After the Historic Sinking
When I said in a previous post that ABC's scheduling of the four-hour miniseries Titanic was "weird"...well, what I meant to say was that it was wrong. Just plain wrong. Clearly the network thought enough of the project over a year ago to sign on to co-produce and co-finance the Julian
"Downton Abbey" Fellowes-written television epic with Britain's ITV, Australia's Channel Seven and other international broadcasters, but they threw it away through bad scheduling. The way ABC handled Titanic was an epic fail, and they ended up squandering what should have been a successful programming stunt. How often do you get the chance to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the most catastrophic maritime disaster ever, one that has never left the hearts and minds of the world? How could ABC have taken that precious moment in time and essentially thrown it away?
To recap the results, ABC scheduled the first three hours of the four hour Titanic on Saturday night, with the final one hour held over to Sunday evening. ABC pulled in a 0.8 rating with just slightly over four million viewers for Saturday's three hours, and a 0.9 and about the same four million for Sunday's one hour conclusion. Compare that to what the hoary Easter movie perennial The Ten Commandments pulled in on Saturday, April 7th -- TTC got a 1.6 rating and pulled in almost seven million viewers for its airing from 7pm - 11:44pm. It's only taken 2000 years of Christianity to ensure ABC that kind of number; let's also not forget that it's an Easter tradition and viewers know exactly what they're getting. Presold to the max. Obviously viewers can be found on Saturday night, but it takes a religious experience to get them there.
On this 100th Anniversary of the Sinking of the Titanic, ABC surely could have set aside one Sunday -- where they usually air America's Funniest Home Videos, Once Upon a Time and GCB -- and given Titanic a one night blow-out from 7pm - 11pm. Splitting the event over two nights, with an abandoned one hour conclusion all by itself on Sunday, stuck behind a repeat of OUaT, no less, was truly a scheduling snafu not befitting the awesome reputation of Titanic. In any case, if Titanic failed only one night would have been at stake; as it was ABC sunk two of their nights and blew a class production at the same time. In the U.S. we are used to stunt programming and this one begged to be stunted in a big way. (In Britain it ran -- from what I've been able to find -- one hour on two successive weeks then the last two hours on one night. Also not perfect. And in Canada it aired once a week for four weeks. Not good either.)
Some have said that the unique storytelling device -- essentially retelling the tale through different eyes over each hour, finally culminating in the sinking itself and finding out the fate of the various characters we've been introduced to -- is what doomed the show from the start. That's not much of an excuse; I'm sure a cable network audience would have been able to follow the story just fine. What happened to Titanic, a hundred years after her sinking, is that ABC possibly over-estimated the appeal and thought that viewers would find it on a dreary Saturday then seek it out on the next night to find out the rest of the story. Or else ABC was throwing it away because they didn't think the usual broadcast network TV audience would want to watch it anyway.
Can I say that this really belonged on PBS? Although the four-hours are available right now to watch on ABC's website (but not OnDemand, interestingly), if I were ABC I'd offer a run to PBS. This Titanic wouldn't exist without Julian Fellowes' huge highbrow success with Downton Abbey, here in the U.S. and all over the world, so PBS deserves a taste of it. The PBS audience would appreciate Titanic, even if the ABC audience didn't.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Despite ABC's somewhat weird scheduling of their imported British miniseries Titanic -- three of the four hours air tonight Saturday from 8p - 11pm, then the final part airs tomorrow Sunday at 9pm for one hour, sandwiched between regular programming -- viewers loving both all things Titanic and recent PBS sensation Downton Abbey will be in heaven. DA's creative force Julian Fellowes is one of the chaps behind this newest version of the Titanic story, and it also features several DA alumni in this multi-point-of-view Rashomon-like retelling of the castastrophic event. Viewers will meet and experience Titanic's maiden voyage through different passengers' experiences, then in the concluding hour we will see their fates played out before us.
Eagle-eyed viewers spot some of the creme-de-la-creme of British acting talent throughout the four hours, including familiar faces from The Tudors, Bleak House, the Harry Potter films, and others. This Titanic might better have played on PBS, and surely they could have done a less messy job with the programming than splitting the mini up as ABC has done, but many viewers will probably DVR it anyway so no harm done, really. Still, mustn't grumble! Here's a selection of promos from various outlets for Titanic:
Titanic isn't a new subject for TV miniseries. In 1979 ABC made big splash (sorry about that!) with their September start-of-season presentation of S.O.S. Titanic, with David Janssen top-billed in his role as John Jacob Astor. Perennial TV favorite Cloris Leachman landed the plum role of the raucous Molly Brown, a just post-Alien Ian Holm played Bruce Ismay, plus Susan St. James, David Warner, an early Helen Mirren, and Ed Bishop (from cult favorite series U.F.O.) also co-starred. There is a new DVD out on this TVM, but it's been severely edited down from the original 140 minute version.
Though many people assume that there must have been an episode of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone about the Titanic, there never was. One of the hour TZ episodes had Dana Andrews traveling back in time to prevent various disasters and he ended up on the Lusitania, one of history's other famous sunken ships, but the Titanic never sailed through the Twilight Zone. However, in Serling's second series The Night Gallery he wrote an episode -- or a segment, each hour contained several stories -- entitled "The Lone Survivor" about a haunted passenger from the doomed Titanic who ends up on...the Lusitania.
"The Lone Survivor" is John Colicos (left), the great character actor well-remembered as Klingon Commander Kor in the Star Trek TOS episode "Errand of Mercy" and from his role in classic Battlestar Galactica; his performance here is wonderful. The equally great actor Torin Thatcher -- Star Trek TOS "Return of the Archons" (the one with Landru and the Red Hour) and the wizard in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad -- co-stars as the captain of the Lusitania.
It's the second segment of the episode; you can forward past the first, unless you want to watch Phyllis Diller in her story, which you might. She's always fun!
More on Titanic later today!
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Although everybody confuses it with either The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Thriller or even Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the neat little half-hour spooker One Step Beyond has its own unique niche in mid-century TV. Each of its episodes purported to be based on a true story, and after hearing host John Newland (above) set the circumstances before each tale, you believed it! Also known as Alcoa Presents (for the aluminum company which sponsored the series), One Step Beyond (it ran from 1959 - 1961) served up neat and chilling stories of hauntings, extrasensory perception, strange possession, psychedelic mushrooms, Gef the talking mongoose, Fortean rock falls from the sky, and other assorted anomalies. Great fun!
The second of its ninety-six episodes dealt with history's favorite downed oceanliner, with a story involving a newlywed's eerie premonitions which turn out to be deadly accurate. The episode is titled "Night of April 14th" and stars Patrick MacNee (the brilliant Mr. Steed from The Avengers) and Barbara Lord (Patrick "Puddy" Warburton's real-life mother).
We'll have to talk more about One Step Beyond here at a future date; it's a fascinating collection of interesting acting talent and genuinely unusual stories that has continued to delight audiences for decades. But for now, settle yourselves back in to January 27, 1959 as One Step Beyond presents a Titanic adventure called "The Night of April 14th". Enjoy!
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
We also loved Irwin Allen because he often inspired us with tantalizing tales from history, especially so in The Time Tunnel which featured a pair of time-traveling scientists careening throughout the mysterious eras of existence. Where would Dr. Doug Phillips (Robert Colbert) and Dr. Tony Newman (James Darren) turn up next? King Arthur's Court? Gettysburg? The Alamo? Riding against Genghis Khan? Dodging the guillotine during the French Revolution? We could only guess, but Irwin Allen knew that this recipe for excitement was a sure thing. He chose for his pilot episode a plot revolving around one of modern history's most enduring mysteries, the sinking of the Titanic. Hard to believe, perhaps, that at the time of The Time Tunnel premiere in September 1966 we were only a little past the 50th anniversary of the sinking, and now we are observing the 100th. Time flies when you are the most dramatic maritime disaster of the 20th Century, occuring only 12 years into the century but never being topped in terms of sheer emotional appeal.
And so we are pleased to be able to offer The Time Tunnel pilot episode "Rendezvous with Destiny". Adding to the luster of this episode is the presence of acting great Michael Rennie (seen above) as Captain Smith, the lovely British actress Susan Hampshire as a passenger, and back in the lab, Gary Merrill as a Senator. Series regulars Whit Bissell, Lee Meriwether also star. Enjoy!
More Titanic posts coming up!
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Television is having a field day with this week's 100th Anniversary of the Sinking of the Titanic, and The Flaming Nose is all for it. We're Titanic buffs around here and love nothing more than great TV commemorating an unforgettable historical moment. Many of our favorite networks are loading up their schedules with Titanic-related programming, starting this past Sunday on Smithsonian. They premiered two very interesting specials, one with Titanic movie director James Cameron further exploring one of his favorite subjects, and another with the actual Titanic's amazing 1985 re-discoverer Bob Ballard. (Both are repeating this week, so don't worry if you missed them on Sunday.)
We thought the best way to cover this already-started seminal week of television was to go day to day, beginning today, and let you know what's coming on. Obviously Sunday is the biggest blow-out, but Titanic treasures are on tap all week long. We will cover ABC's new Titanic dramatic miniseries in another post coming up, plus we also have some looks at historic television references to Titanic which have intrigued viewers over the years.
But first -- the documentaries!!
Tonight, Tuesday, April 10th:
The Titanic With Len Goodman: PBS, 8pm - 9pm (Definitely check PBS local listings!) Also airs Friday 4/13 at 10pm (Check local PBS listings!) Click here for Program Website.
We're thrilled to see PBS get into the Titanic action; too often cable nets steal all the thunder for historical documentaries. Dancing with the Stars judge Goodman leads viewers on a tour of Belfast and other Titanic-related cities, and talks with descendants of Titanic passengers and crew.
Saving The Titanic: PBS, 9pm - 10pm (Again, check your local listings!) Click here for the Program Website, and the entire special is available for viewing there, too.
This doc-with-drama focuses on the efforts of the fireman, stokers and engineers of the Titanic who worked so courageously to keep Titanic aloat as the minutes ticked away to her inevitable doom.
Titanic Belfast: Birthplace of a Legend: PBS, check your local PBS outlet for dates & times!
Click here for more information on the special.
This documentary focuses on the construction of the Titanic at the Harland and Wolff shipyards in Belfast, where work began on her in March of 1909.
PBS outlets are also featuring several other Titanic-related specials:
Titanic: The Wonders Exhibit: PBS, check your local PBS outlet for dates & times.
This special is about the 1997 exhibit of artifacts from and relating to the Titanic and her demise.
Words from the Titanic: PBS, check your local PBS outlet for dates & times. Click here for more information on the special.
The actual words of Titanic survivors are read by actors including The Iron Lady's Richard E. Grant, bringing to life the terrible night from those who were able to escape with their lives.
(You may also be interested in a NOVA episode from a couple of years ago entitled Titanic's Lost Sister about the Brittanic; lots of resources and a transcript available, too.)
I can't emphasize enough the importance of looking up your local PBS outlet to find out when they will be airing some or all of these programs. PBS schedules are not standardized across the country and you need to figure out where your particular station will be airing these.
Wednesday, April 11th:
Titanic's Final Mystery: Smithsonian Channel, 9am - 11am. Also airs Friday 4/13 at 6pm and Saturday 4/14 at 3am. Click here for Program Website.
This terrific documentary follows Titanic researcher Tim Maltin as he investigates the various theories surrounding the sinking and comes up with some fascinating optical, meteorological and other scientific evidence that brings more understanding to the tragedy. I watched this the other day and I highly recommend it! Very science-y and completely riveting!
Last Mysteries of the Titanic: Science Channel, 10p - 11pm, 1am - 3am and Friday, 4/13 at 5am. Click here for Program Website. Also airs on Discovery Channel on Saturday 4/14 at 1pm.
This 2005 documentary features director James Cameron on another trip back to the site of the shipwreck to examine the Titanic's final resting place once more.
Thursday, April 12th:
Modern Marvels -- Titanic Tech: H2 Channel, 9am, 3pm.
From their website:
From their website:
Titanic's Tragic Sister: H2 Channel, 1pm, 7pm.
From their website:
Titanic's Final Moments: Missing Pieces: H2 Channel, 10pm - 12m, 2a - 4am. Check here for more information on the special.
The hosts of History's hit series Deep Sea Detectives took a dive to the Titanic in 2005, discovering several lost hull pieces that may hold the answers to questions about the ship's last minutes.
Titanic's Achilles Heel: H2 Channel, 8pm, 12am. Click here for info and whole video to view. This is the follow-up show to Titanic's Final Moments: Missing Pieces.
From their website:
The Real Story--Titanic: Smithsonian Channel 5pm, also Sunday 4/15 4am & 10pm. Click here for more information on the special.
This special looks at the differences between the Titanic story as presented in James Cameron's epic film Titanic and many newly-discovered facts and theories which are causing experts to look at the tragedy in a new light.
Saturday, April 14th:
Titanic-Birth of the Legend: Discovery Channel, 2pm - 3pm.
From their website: The story ended with the loss of 1,500 lives in April, 1912. But it had begun exactly three years before with a dream to build the largest moving object ever made. This extraordinary story is about the building of the Titanic and the men who built her.
What Sank Titanic?: Discovery Channel, 3pm - 4pm.
Trial records from the inquiries following the sinking of the Titanic provide insight into the technical and personal stories behind the monumental event.
Nazi Titanic: H2 Channel, 9pm - 11pm, 1am.
Premiere of a brand new documentary. From their website:
Sunday, April 15th:
Titanic's Final Moments-Missing Pieces: H2, 9am - 11am. See Thursday's listings for description.
Titanic's Achilles Heel: H2, 11am - 1pm. See Thursday's listings for description.
Antiques Roadshow, Belfast: Ovation, 1pm - 2pm. From the offices of Titanic shipbuilder's Harland and Wolff in Belfast, Ireland.
Rebuilding Titanic: National Geographic Channel, 10am - 3pm. Click here for more information.
A five-part series where modern engineers and craftspeople tackle the question of how to bring the Titanic back to life via authentic re-creation. Episode titles and times: 10a -- Raising the Bow; 11am -- Forging the Anchor; 12n -- Powering a Giant, 1pm -- Floating Palace; 2pm -- Preparing for Disaster. A two-hour version of this aired in May of 2011, but this one seems to be expanded.
Secrets of the Titanic: National Geographic Channel, 3pm - 4pm. Click here to watch the documentary online.
This is the original documentary chronicling Bob Ballard's discovery of the wreck of the Titanic. More information here. Highly recommended!
The Final Word with James Cameron: National Geographic Channel, 4pm - 6pm, and also Monday 4/16 4pm - 6pm. Click here for more information on the special.
One of the two documentaries that Nat Geo premiered this past Sunday, this is a fascinating documentary exploration featuring Titanic director James Cameron along with a cadre of Titanic specialists and maritime experts who look at all the recent discoveries and come up with some new conclusions regarding the most famous shipwreck of all. I've watched this one; very interesting, clearly an extremely emotional subject and interest for all these men (no ladies in the group!). Although Cameron sort of leads the pack and the discussion, all the smart guys in the room get their turn to speak. It's a great example of passionate individuals seeking the truth about a fascinating and tragic event. Highly recommended!
Save the Titanic with Bob Ballard: National Geographic Channel, 6pm - 7pm, also Monday 4/16 6pm - 7pm. Click here for more information on the special.
The other new documentary which debuted last Sunday. Bob Ballard looks back on his discovery of the wreck of the Titanic, reflecting on the current condition of the ship and what "Titanic-tourism" might be doing to hasten the demise of the remains. He also visits Belfast and the birthplace of the Titanic, coming to some serious conclusions that don't bode well for the Titanic. This is a really sober look at the current state of affairs about the wreck, coming from the man who made it all possible and who knows what an awesome step it was but also realizes that the Titanic needs careful attention and protection. Highly recommended!
Titanic at 100: Mystery Solved : History Channel, 8pm - 10pm, 12m - 2am, also Tuesday 4pm - 6pm. Click here for more information on the special.
Premiere of a new documentary. From the website: Titanic at 100: Mystery Solved
As the 100th anniversary of Titanic's sinking approaches, a team of scientists, engineers and imaging experts have joined forces to answer one of the most haunting questions surrounding the legendary disaster: Just how did the "unsinkable" ship break apart and plunge into the icy waters of the North Atlantic on April 15, 1912? Two years ago, HISTORY took part alongside the world's top underwater experts in the most thorough and exhaustive study of the wreck ever made. The undertaking yielded unprecedented new discoveries and the first comprehensive map of Titanic's watery grave. This 2-hour special documents this mission, captures the high-tech mapmaking process, unveils astonishing pieces of never-before-seen wreckage and presents the expedition's unexpected findings.
We also recommend taking a look at some nice tributes and general Titanic info at some of the network websites. History Channel has this user-friendly "Titanic by the Numbers" infographic and a good selection of resources here. National Geographic Channel has set up a very informative page with tremendous links and much fascinating info to be explored at your leisure. You also might enjoy reading some of the other compilation articles about the wealth of Titanic programming coming our way, such as the Reuters coverage by Julian Rieffe and Scott Timberg's for The Los Angeles Times.
FYI, a bit of good news on the Titanic front came through today -- UNESCO has extended protection to the Titanic wreck site, as detailed here. This will certainly make Bob Ballard a little happier, though as he points out in his new documentary, there are no police out there to make sure people follow the rules.
We'll be updating this post if we learn of any other Titanic documentaries coming our way.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Myron Leon "Mike" Wallace (May 9, 1918 – April 7, 2012), best known as one of the foremost correspondents on the long lived CBS news magazine 60 Minutes. He was 93 years old and his career spanned 60 years.
During his 37+ years as an investigative reporter on 60 Minutes, Mr. Wallace earned a reputation for exposing corruption that struck fear in the hearts of those who had something to hide. It was said that among the most feared words in the English language were, "Mike Wallace is here to see you now".
He interviewed the famous, uncovered the truth and inspired countless young people to choose broadcast journalism as a career. Who among us can hear the ticking of the 60 Minutes clock open without thinking of him?
Steve Croft, a former colleague at CBS put it best by saying, "He was hands down the best television interviewer ever. I can't think of anyone, besides (CBS legend Edward R. Murrow), who had a greater influence in shaping television journalism."
Here's a little recap of his life. We bid farewell to one of the giants of television.