Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Monday, July 29, 2013

Spending the summer in Sanditon,thanks to Pemberley Digital

Fans of the Jane Austen based web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries were eager for more modern day adventures with an Austen heroine or two,so the good folks at Pemberley Digital brought us a special summer series called Sanditon.

Sanditon was one of Austen's uncompleted novels,leaving the writers a lot of leeway with the story telling yet they kept to the same plot set-up of a small town determined to turn itself into a health and fitness mecca for the tourist trade.

The outsider narrating this small town saga is Gigi Darcy( the perfect
spin-off character to anchor this storyline from the LBD,in lieu of Charlotte Heywood from the book) who is running a beta test of PD's Domino communications system. Mayor Tom Parker is more than happy to have the seaside town as the testing grounds since he gives him more of an opportunity to promote his visions of "New Sandtion" and to pressure local ice cream parlor owner Clara Breton into converting her business into a juice bar:

Clara has no interest whatsoever in trading in Sanditon Scoops(quite a great name!) for a juice bar but she is very supportive of the beta test and even offers up fun recipe videos for ice cream combos.

However,the persistence of Mayor Tom and his assistant Ed Denham(a sci-fi geek and rather reluctant administrator) into making Clara switch over to their plan for "New" Sanditon rallies her fighting spirit and even gets Gigi on her side in this debate:

The whole Sanditon Scoops situation leads to a showdown as Ed tries to stage a sit-in at the ice cream parlor. At first, it simply becomes a shouting match but later on that night, Domino works it's magic.

 While recording an after hours conversation between Ed and Clara, Domino's editing abilities seem to suggest that romantic sparks are flying here. Gigi at first assumes it's a glitch but soon enough,it's clear that Ed and Clara are intended to be a couple:

Meanwhile, The Mayor's attention is diverted by a pair of new businesses in town, which are pretty much the same kind of business there. Brother and sister Beau and Letitia Griffiths decide to open up competing spin cycle centers(that also happen to be side by side),fueling their sibling rivalry.

 As thrilled as the Mayor is with attracting new business, he and Ed's influential Aunt Denham are not pleased by the new bond forming between Ed and Clara. So,when given the opportunity, the mayor tries to put up a roadblock to their romance by making Ed and Ms. Griffiths(who prefers to be called "Griff") go out on a date at the local Fourth of July festival in town. Ed's meekness in this instance irks Clara a lot,but she would rather wait for him to make up his own mind about their possible future:

Fortunately,even in uncompleted Austen stories,love triumphs over all and it looks as if Ed and Clara will be able to make their own happily ever after.

I have to say that this has been a fun little series for summer viewing and while I could've done with less of the fan contribution clips(which were fine but sort of slowed down the story line), Sanditon has been a charming delight to watch during these insanely hot days. The series is about to finish up soon and Pemberley Digital is planning to launch another Jane Austen themed series soon(possibly a Sense & Sensibility themed one,not sure of that just yet!).

However, there is plenty of time for you to discover the joys of Sanditon(if you haven't thus far) and savor the sweet surprises along the way. While we will never know how Jane intended to end this story, I think it's safe to say that she would certainly approve of a dish of ice cream meant for two:

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bill's battle plans on True Blood,Top Chef Masters fly high and could it be the last day for those Under The Dome?

The new season of Top Chef Masters got off to a roaring start,as the thirteen contenders were equally offered an unusual advantage in their Elimination Challenge.

The challenge was to make a family style meal for a group of professional sky divers(out doors,of course) and in order to gain two hours of cook time, the chefs would have to sky dive themselves. Only one chef,Douglas Keane, declined(he drove in to the location) and had just one hour to make his dish,but thanks to his sous chef, he already had immunity.

A new twist this season allows the masters to bring their sous chefs along and they are competing in a special contest that will earn either a reward or a punishment for their chef(their portion of TCM can be seen online).

For the first sous set-up,they were tasked to create a dish that reflected the style of their master,who then had to use the same ingredients their second-in-command selected for their Elimination dish. Tricky, but it did work out for some better than others.

 Bryan Voltaggio,the first regular TC contender to enter the masters tournament, was nervous upon discovering that he only had vegetables to work with. He was luckier than three of his fellow chefs,whose penalty from the sous challenge was to have butter knives as part of their cutlery to work with!

 Bryan's glazed carrots,however, were a pleasant surprise to both the guests and the judges,with the word "sexy" being tossed about. Not sure how sexy carrots can get on the plate, but I will demur to the taste buds present at the table here.

The winner of this challenge was Odette Fada,who won ten grand for her charity Doctors Without Borders.

 Her chilled roasted lamb served with a cauliflower and anchovy salad was considered a refreshing delight by all assembled. Congrats,Odette and looking forward to seeing more from you,foodwise.
 The first chef sent off to pack their knives was Herbert Wilson, who was not able to finish his dish of oysters on time. The best that he could offer up was the grilled cucumber and mango butter meant for oysters on a half shell.

To his credit, Herbert right away owned up to his mistake and told the judges that it was only fair that he should go. That's what I like about TCM, the maturity level amongst the chefs in this competition. Sorry to see him go but perhaps he will return next season for redemption.

Sookie was rescued from yet another predicament on True Blood by
Warlow,due to Bill sending him with Maker's permission. Once she was safe, Warlow was being summoned back but Sookie helped the two of them hide out in an alternate fairy dimension.

Frustrated by his progeny's escape(plus noticing that Jessica was missing as well),Bill sought answers by a session with Lilith,who basically told him to figure things out for himself.

His solution was to drink what there was of Warlow's blood on hand and then make a daylight visit to the Governor's mansion. Granted, he didn't get the info that he needed but Bill certainly made one hell of a statement there! That's not the only major development in this episode(fare thee well,Terry Bellefleur) but it will have repercussions that will affect what comes next:

It was Visitor's Day for those trapped Under The Dome and while some folks were happy to see their loved ones, others received news that they wish they hadn't(like Julia seeing a Dear John letter from her husband sent to her sister).

Barbie managed to get some info,with the help of Dodee,from one of the soldiers outside the dome about what was being planned by the government to release them. Based on what he was told, it soon became apparent that Visitor's Day was intended to be a farewell for all concerned,due to the Mother Of All Bombs heading their way:

 As news quickly spread of the impending doom, the folks of Chester's Mill sought shelter in an abandoned factory with a large underground basement but not everyone made it in before the bomb hit.

Amongst those left above ground was Angie, finally free from that damn shelter due to Big Jim's "what-the-hell-we're-all-gonna-die" attitude yet she ran into Junior anyway. Talk about if it weren't for bad luck,Angie would have no luck at all!

Speaking of luck, the bomb did hit the dome and no one was hurt,yet no one was free from imprisonment as the impact on the dome was nada. That inspired Rev. Coggins to insist upon Big Jim "confessing" his yet unkonwn sins against the town and caused Big Jim to shut his mouth for good. Yes, this did happen in the book,only in a much more gruesome manner,and should tell anyone who hasn't read it volumes about how far Big Jim is willing to go to protect his own:


HGTV STAR: Congratulations to Tiffany for being this season's winner and her upcoming show,The Most Embarrassing Rooms in America, should be interesting to see:

Monday, July 22, 2013

Some late summer surprises at the Movie Trailer Park

With the end of July and the beginning of August comes an inevitable pop culture fact, that the dog days of summer bring on true dogs of film into our multiplex kennel.

Granted, some would say that we've already had our fair share of cinematic stinkers early on in the season but no one can deny that most of the movies released at the tail end of summer are destined for a quick opening and closing.

However, there are some actual gems to be unearthed at a theater near you this time of year and here are a handful of popcorn possibilities to go to the movies for better reasons than to beat the heat:

AUSTENLAND: This love letter to Jane Austen fans(based on the novel by Shannon Hale) stars Keri Russell as Jane Hayes,who becomes Jane Erstwhile during her stay at a specialized vacation retreat on an English estate.  She's joined by Mrs. Charming(Jennifer Coolidge) who is more interested in the men wearing snug Regency outfits than reliving an Austen novel and must stick to the guidelines for the role playing set forth by Mrs. Wattlebrook(Jane Seymour),who is the ruler of the Austenland realm.

Those who enjoyed the recent version of Northanger Abbey will be thrilled to see that production's Henry Tilney(J. J. Feild) as one of the possible love interests for our Darcy dazzled heroine while even those who aren't familiar with our Dear Jane should get a kick out of the romcom antics in place here:

 THE BUTLER: Based on the real life story of an African-American butler in the White House who served for eight presidencies, this film has a strong ensemble cast which is lead by Forrest Whitaker in the title role.

Oprah Winfrey plays a key role as his wife while other notable names include Robin Williams( President Eisenhower),John Cusack(Nixon),Alan Rickman and Jane Fonda(Ron and Nancy Reagan),plus Nelson Ellis(Martin Luther King,Jr.).

Also on board are folks such as  Mariah Carey,Cuba Gooding Jr, Vanessa Redgrave. and Lenny Kavitz. The screenplay is co-written by the director Lee Daniels and Danny Strong and it's the last picture to be produced by the late producer Laura Ziskin. With such a distinguished group joining together for this project, the results should be impressive,indeed:

LOVELACE: Amanda Seyfried portrays the actress who brought pornography into the mainstream and then later in life, sought to break free of that industry as well as her controlling husband(Peter Sarsgaard).

 Included in the cast are Sharon Stone,playing her mother and Chloe Sevigny as a feminist journalist who encouraged Linda Lovelace to strike out on her own. The movie has already hit the film festival circuit and received mixed reviews but at this point, the good outweigh the bad.

Lovelace is set for a limited release,so you may have to hunt around to find it playing at a theater near you. Sort of ironic,if you think about it there:

THE WORLD'S END: Fans of Simon Pegg's pop culture parodies  will be happy to discover his latest British import. Pegg leads off the cast as Gary, a professional idler who convinces his old school buddies to complete a pub crawl(marathon attendance of bars) back in their old home town.

During their mission, the gang realizes that most of the town's residents have been taken over by alien invaders and replaced with robot duplicates. Naturally, the fellas attempt to stop this insidious scheme in their own bumbling manner which doesn't offer as much hope for humanity as you would want in this situation.

 The World's End is meant to be the last in a trilogy(with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz being the earlier installments) but fortunately, this is not a series that requires you to view the first couple of movies and hopefully, this won't be the last we get to see of Pegg and company's marvelous sense of humor:

 I'm sure there will be a few other decent movies worth checking out,each according to your own taste. However, when it comes to film going during the last half of summer, bad movies must be endured as much as a heat wave is,with patience,care and surety that cooler fare will eventually come. Autumn will be here soon enough and with it, plenty of that sophisticated Oscar bait cinema we've grow to expect there:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Warlow's Bill situation on True Blood,sick with secrets Under The Dome and who will recieve Star Salvation on Food Network Star?

 When we last left True Blood, Sookie had Warlow on the ropes with her fairy fireball ready for action. As she held him off, he insisted that his intentions were honorable and that killing her parents was done as a means to protect her from them( that info turned out to be somewhat true,which she later found out during a seance with Lafayette).

However, Bill entered the scene and used the power of Lilith to take control of Warlow,who has no love for his vampire brethren. Seems that Warlow was the one to destroy his Maker back in the day and resents being used to preserve them from extinction. Bill, on the other hand, is happy to have a replacement for Andy's fae daughters(one of whom survived the Jessica slaughter and was rescued by her dad).

Meanwhile, Eric and Tara went to find Pam,who had been captured by the vamp patrols who sent her off to a paranormal prison camp run by the Governor(who also sent his newly turned daughter there).

A lot of vamp folks are reuniting in this place,as Tara came upon a very wired from fae blood Jessica(who walked on a little reunion between Jason and Sarah,the former Mrs. Newlin) and Eric did get to see Pam,however with the pair of them forced into a death match, this isn't going to end well for either one.

If I had to take a wild guess about what's to come on True Blood this season, my major bet would be on Jessica taking down Bill. That flashback to Warlow's past was an indicator of what has to be done to stop Billith,in my opinion, but hopefully not until he does something about that vamp camp there:

 The folks in Chester's Mill were already agitated on Under The Dome when it looked as if the outside world was abandoning them but soon enough, they were distracted from that by an outbreak of meningitis.

 The lack of medical help available had Big Jim recruit newcomer Alice into being the doctor in charge and made Julia question Barbie's background(something she should've done a lot sooner,dome or no dome). She eventually tumbled to the truth regarding her husband's disappearance to Barbie and got him to 'fess up,yet he managed to get away with some half truths there.

 I don't think he's meant to be a bad guy in this version but his story line definitely has some shades of gray in it(and not fifty of them!). At some point, Barbie needs to come clean in full with Julia before she discovers the complete story for herself:

Speaking of coming clean, Big Jim is going to have to have a little talk with Junior now that he's found his dirty little secret in the family fall out shelter. With the place flooding due to a broken pipe,Angie was already up to her ears in trouble but with Big Jim on the scene, her worries may be far from over.

Granted, this show is far from perfect and with some of changes from book to screen a tad questionable, viewers seems to be of two minds about it. While they can't avoid looking at the flaws(someone should've realized Angie was missing by now, even with the ongoing chaos in town),they also can't help tuning right back in.

I have a feeling that whatever Big Jim decides to do about Angie will be a major game changer for the rest of the season,so I am without a doubt going to see what happens next:

In the tradition of Top Chef's Last Chance Kitchen, this season of Food Network Star has been offering "Star Salvation" for eliminated contenders, mini challenges that will earn one of them a chance to get back into the game.

The last round of Star Salvation brought three time winner Lovely to square off against the most recently dismissed contestant Chad. They had to "cook their heart out" by using certain edible hearts such as heart of artichoke, celery and chocolate shaped ones as well.

Both of them did their best and if I had to guess who gets to return to the competition, I'd have to go with Lovely. She's been on a strong streak and while Chad does know his barbecue, her dish seemed to be a touch better than his. We'll see this Sunday the savory results and good luck to whoever receives their second shot at stardom:


THE WHITE QUEEN: The Starz miniseries that adapts Philippa Gregory's set of historical novels about the War of the Roses will begin on August 10 and many viewers will be awaiting as eagerly as the announcement of the new born royal baby(hope it's a girl!):

Monday, July 15, 2013

A look at both sides of the controversal board for Ender's Game

While plenty of big summer movie showpieces are being displayed at the multiplex this season,concerns about an upcoming sci-fi flick for the fall are causing quite a cinematic stir.

 Due this November, the big screen adaptation of Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game has already inspired a call for a boycott of the film and it's merchandise,due to the author's long standing intolerance towards the LGBT community.

 OSC is not merely against gay marriage, he also has stated very outdated beliefs and prejudices regarding the gay lifestyle over the years, which brought about a strong protest against his being a guest author for DC's Adventures of Superman series(the project was put on hold,particularly after the illustrator Chris Sprouse chose to give up the assignment).

 With OSC also being a producer of the film, this protest is designed to hit him right square in the pocket book,giving new meaning to the phrase "put your money where your mouth is":

 The studio is naturally worried about the boycott and it has raised a few hackles amongst fans,along with concerns from LGBT supporters who feel that the time and energy devoted to this cause could be better spent elsewhere for the benefit of the gay community.

Granted, the latter makes a valid point but since OSC will directly reap any financial rewards from the possible success of the movie, I felt that this boycott is well aimed at the proper target. As long as the cast and crew(which more than likely had no idea about the author's views) are not harassed for their participation in the film, I'm very supportive of the boycott.

In fact, I think a fun counter move would be to strongly encourage film goers to see the animated feature Free Birds,which opens up that same weekend,instead. After all, Despicable Me 2 beat out the Lone Ranger(that raised many an eyebrow due to Johnny Depp's taking on a Native American role) big time at the box office recently and it had the advantage of being a sequel, so Free Birds could use an extra push there. Besides, it also has a sci-fi theme in the form of time traveling turkeys( I am so not making that up,folks) and geared for both kids and adults,so why not?

Orson Scott Card's reaction has been to release a statement that reeks of sour grapes, as he claims the gay marriage issue is now "moot" due to the recent Supreme Court decisions and that people should show him tolerance for his views. A call for tolerance from an intolerant man, the irony is certainly rich here:

The infighting amongst fans is what has me worried,between those who are beating themselves up for liking his work and those whose argument for seeing the movie(and encouraging others to do so) is "separate the art from the artist."

 The problem with that stance is that it's far easier to be forgiving of an artist's personal life when he or she has been dead for a hundred years. For example, I can appreciate the works of Charles Dickens(who was a terrible husband in every sense of the word) while finding it hard to even watch a Woody Allen film these days. Hollywood may have forgiven Woody for what he did to Mia but I'm not so charitable.

Also,while people do have the right to hold opposing views, we do have the right to vehemently disagree with such ignorant and outlandish viewpoints and as to respect, such a thing must be earned at times:

  For those of you regretting your enjoyment of OSC's books before you knew his views, don't be so hard on yourselves. Many of us have been disillusioned by artists whose work inspired their partakers to expand their mental horizons and it's not a reflection on you as a person.

 It's like with me and Woody Allen; do I regret watching his earlier films? No. Would I recommend some of them to folks who haven't seen them before? Yes, but mainly for rental or cable viewing. Do I think less of film fans who continue to see his movies in theaters? No, because it's their personal choice as much as mine to do or do not. As long as neither of us contests our right to agree to disagree,it's all good.

 And,no, I am not saying that Orson Scott Card's books should be banned. There are ways to read them without directly putting cash in his pocket(that's what libraries are for!) if you're interested to check him out but be prepared for some serious disgust if you run into his novella Hamlet's Father( very WTF material,trust me on this). However, I do respect the right of peaceful protesters to "let the marketplace decide" as the saying goes.

Of course, it is possible that this situation will solve itself at the box office this fall. It wouldn't be the first time a questionable fantasy film received fame for it's less than stellar performance,financially and/or artistically, so we shall have to wait and see-preferably from a safe distance in another theater at the multiplex:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sookie vs. Warlow on True Blood,Under The Dome goes on a manhunt and the winner of The American Baking Competition is....

The plot points on True Blood are still making strong connections, as Eric decides to make the Governor's anti-vampire tactics more personal by turning his daughter into one,Bill and Jessica round up Andy's rapidly aging fae daughters for his blood experiments and Sookie catches on to who Ben really is.

You do have to give Sookie credit for forming a pretty decent plan, once she realized that "Ben" was both fairy and vampire, by setting him up for a bit of romance only to truly have the upper hand in dealing with him.

Hopefully, she won't back down from taking him out for good yet she should find out what happened to Niall(who is now trapped in a bad part of the universe) first and try to bring him back. It would be a shame to leave him stranded and a real waste of Rutger Hauer as well.

As for Andy's girls, I do hope that Jessica's feeding frenzy didn't wipe them all out(especially since Daddy was knocking on Bill's door after that biting blitz attack).  Mainly for Andy's sake, since he was really bonding with them rather nicely.

Those attempts to create fae sunscreen for vamps didn't seem to be heading for success anyway, as the scientist Bill captured pointed out how the fairy blood quickly loses it's powers the longer it's outside the host.  Jessica's remorse might spare her and Bill from Andy's wrath but not for long,since he now has access to those high tech vamp weapons. Either way, this is not going to be pretty,folks:

The residents of Chester's Mill were distracted from their plight on Under The Dome this week with the arrest of the panicked deputy  who killed one of his colleagues and later escaped from jail.

Big Jim organized the hunting party to track him down and had Barbie(who he knows fought with crazy Junior) along for the ride, mainly to see how he might fit into Big Jim's future plans.

 The situation was resolved but people need to keep their eye on Big Jim because he may be trying to appear as one of the good guys yet as the old saying goes, appearances are not what they always seem to be. Also, don't underestimate Linda,who is definitely tougher than she looks:

 It was the season finale of The American Baking Competition,with Francine,Darlene and Brian battling it out for the big win. The Signature round insisted on making peanuts the focus of the dish and Darlene and Brian both made roll cakes while Francine whipped up a torte.

Unfortunately,Francine went too heavy on the cream cheese and that overwhelmed the flavor of the filling. She did better with the Technical Challenge that had all of them prepare a batch of Boston cream donuts.

By the time it came down to the Show Stopper, it was anyone's game but Brian had stronger pluses than minuses with his mini desserts and he became the first official winner of TABC. Darlene and Francine did very well and while I do wish one of them took the victory slice, Brian did display his skill set nicely here. So congratulations to Brian and to Darlene and Francine for making this show one to watch:


CHOPPED: The show is now doing an "After Hours" edition online,where the judges tackle the most offbeat of the mystery baskets during each new episode being currently aired. It's fun to see these high profile chefs prove they can put their money where their mouth is(outside of Chopped Champions,that is) as well as add some fun to the flavor profile:

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Barbara Rogan opens the page to A Dangerous Fiction this summer

The world of publishing is no stranger to being the subject of many a good book and in Barbara Rogan's upcoming mystery novel,A Dangerous Fiction, the story spotlight is set behind the scenes as a literary agent becomes a target of obsession.

Her name is Jo Donavan, widow of renowned author Hugo Donavan, who has ,in the three years since his death,become the head of a top literary agency in New York. Her climb to success is not without strife, as she must work along side Harriet Peagoody, a hold over from the days of Jo's mentor Molly whose taste in books is impeccable yet not very flexible to the changing times.

 There's also a former member of the agency who is still angry about his ouster and delights in spreading his ill will towards Jo online and a new assistant,Jean-Paul, who appears to be nurturing a crush on her.

Despite her everyday troubles, Jo is rather content with her current life until a determined writer confronts her in the street and demands that she be the one to get his work published. Jo is used to the offbeat antics of wannabe authors but the extreme determination of this man,who earns the sarcastic nickname Sam Spade, starts to become a major threat to her work and life:

 That's not the only front that Jo feels threatened on,however. A literary biographer,Teddy Pendragon, has set his sights on Hugo as the subject of his next book and is eager to get Jo's help.

Feeling that any look into her life with Hugo is a complete invasion of their privacy, she resists for awhile but with word of a less than respectable biographer(think Kitty Kelley) also deviling into a book that would dishonor her husband's memory even more,Jo reluctantly agrees to Teddy's questions and queries into Hugo's world.

While Jo knows full well about her husband's reputation as a ladies man before their marriage and the whispers from others regarding their age difference, she clings strongly to the belief that her bond with Hugo was no less than perfect.  Going through some of Hugo's papers and learning what Teddy has found out about him without her, Jo has to face the truth behind the secrets and lies that she's used to keep her version of her life with Hugo as picture perfect as possible:

The more immediate danger to Jo seems to come from Sam Spade, who Jo believes is the one responsible for the hijacking of her e-mail and the string of false offers sent to several clients on her contacts list.

The police become involved not only due to the cyber attack but take an even closer look into the situation when a major client of Jo's is found dead in her own apartment. While plenty of personal and professional friends flock to Jo's side to offer their support, she begins to feel pretty unbalanced yet determined not to crumble under pressure.

Another man enters her life,this one a former love interest named Tommy Cullen,who is now a police detective assigned to her case. Conflict of interest aside, Jo reexamines her past relationship with Tommy and wonders if she may have been mistaken about her real feelings about him both then and now:

With a wide array of suspects and ever mounting threats to her life,work and friends, Jo has to muster up all of her own underestimated stamina to find the person targeting her as well as discover who Sam Spade really is.

Barbara Rogan blends witty insider knowledge with a engaging character study of her leading lady,who must resolve a few personal mysteries of her making. The plot line is peopled with relatable characters who are more than just supports for her lead to lean upon and I can honestly say that this story had me turning pages at a fast and furious pace. I finished this book last night and could hardly wait to start spreading the good word for this riveting suspense story.

A Dangerous Fiction will be out and about by July 25 at a bookseller near you and if you're searching for a smart and snappy summer read, this is the one to watch for,folks:

Monday, July 08, 2013

Embracing the magic of theater on the small screen

Over this past weekend, my sister and I relived a shared experience in TV viewing by watching the 1984 production of True West,starring Gary Sinise and John Malkovich that was filmed for PBS.

This Sam Shepard drama about two combative brothers,one a struggling Hollywood screenwriter,the other a drifter and occasionally thief, who wind up collaborating on a script over the course of a long hot weekend, made a strong impression on us back then and finding it available online was a pleasant surprise.

The play's multiple themes of family,class and pursuit of the American dream hold up amazingly well and while other versions of this play have been and are currently in production, I believe this particular Steppenwolf Theatre Company production is the most definitive of them all.

While I do regret not having seen the 2000 revival with Phillip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly(who switched roles many times during the run of the show), the chemistry between Sinise and Malkovich practically crackles with intensity in every scene. Bruce Willis did film a version of True West several years ago(it aired on Showtime) but for this play to work, you need two powerhouse actors in the main roles and Willis did not have an equal counterpoint in this production,according to the critics. The real True West,for me and my sister, is the Sinise/Malkovich one:

Another theater on TV favorite of mine is Into The Woods,which also aired on PBS in 1991. It was a reunion of the original American cast,including Bernadette Peters as The Witch and Joanna Gleason as The Baker's Wife which was released on DVD.

The show has been revived since then and after many delays, the movie version is finally under way,with Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt taking over those pivotal roles of witch and wife. While I have confidence in their upcoming performances, Peters and Gleason did leave very deep impressions on the roles that will be a challenge to follow up on.

At least the cast and crew for this Hollywood version are a very respectable set of folks and if they can bring this enchanting show to life on screen as well as Les Miserables was last year, then it will be worth trekking up the steps of the movie palace to see opening weekend:

I also remember a time when HBO showcased theatrical performances,back in the 1980s with productions of classic Broadway hits like Bus Stop( starring Margot Kidder) and Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park(with Bess Armstrong and Richard Thomas of Walton's Mountain fame).

One of the most memorable that I can recall is Wait Until Dark, with Katherine Ross as Suzy Ross, the preyed upon blind woman and Stacy Keach as Harry Roat,junior and senior, who goes after her in a scheme involving drug smuggling and con artist games. I hadn't seen the classic 1967 film version with Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin at the time,so this version made a considerable mark on my theater check list.

The film adaptation is chilling but seeing this story in it's originally intended format makes it all the more engaging as well as more appreciative of it's complex simplicity:

The last time I recall seeing a Broadway show on TV was on the most unlikely of sources, MTV.  They aired the premiere performance of Legally Blonde: The Musical in the fall of 2007(complete with singalong subtitles) and even sponsored a reality series that tracked the audition for a new leading lady once the original one,Laura Bell Bundy, left the cast.

 LB:The Musical was a success with audiences and earned several Tony nominations,including one for Laura Bell Bundy, and while I usually don't find most of these Hollywood to Broadway musicals that great,this was one of those happy exceptions to the rule:

It would be nice to have more stage shows on TV,especially since most of us can't get to or afford to see these productions and keeping live theater going is important to the artistic community. Granted,the Tony Awards do showcase musical numbers but not as many dramas,which is a shame. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing the show stopping song fests but drama should have it's due as well.

 With the series Smash being cancelled, this may not be the best time for theater love on the small screen but as the best theater pieces show us, taking big chances can lead to even bigger rewards,particularly for audiences everywhere:

Thursday, July 04, 2013

True Blood's battle plans,fear brewing Under The Dome and The American Baking Competition goes viva la France!

Happy July Fourth,folks and we kick off our TV Thursday with some of the gang on True Blood seeing red about the new crackdown on vampires. Not only is Steve Newlin beginning to regret his bitter divorce with his ex-Mrs. running the secret camp for vamp experiments but the Governor is already having a few doubts about his plans as Eric has made off with his daughter Willa.

Willa is proving herself to be a useful hostage,as she spills the beans regarding the vampire camps to Eric, plus a taste of TMI when she also tells him that the real reason her father is so anti-vampire is due to her mother running off with one.

 If Pam doesn't get her way by having Willa's head ripped off, this could be an interesting transition relationship for Eric to have.

Meanwhile, Sookie is up to her ears in trouble as usual. With Jason and Grandpa Niall looking to protect her from the clutches of Warlow, the last thing she needed was a visit from Billith but stop by he did(and the invitation clause for vampires apparently no longer applies to him).

Billith wanted Sookie to donate her fairy blood to his new plan for protecting vampires by giving the scientist responsible for True Blood some to turn into the ultimate sun block. She flatly refused and I don't blame her,considering his new attitude, but that is going to put Andy's foursome of fae girls(who are in their teens at this point) in Bill's line of fire. The story connections are rather sturdy this season but I think that Warlow needs to show up and get this party started for real:

On Under The Dome, tensions went up a notch as Julia let everyone in town know that the government forces outside are calling their invisible prison a dome,which understandably has them even more freaked out.

What she doesn't mention is that,based on the transmissions from local radio station engineer Dodee's(whose character rewrite I am liking a lot)rigged receiver, that the official powers that be have no clue what this is. I think at some point the radio station is going to be taken over by someone looking to take charge of things *cough*Big Jim*cough* in order to control the flow of information that can be gleamed from the outside world:

A more immediate danger was the fire set somewhat accidentally at the home of the recently deceased Sheriff Duke. Big Jim was concerned about what evidence of the propane hoarding was still there,so he got Rev. Coggins to search and destroy any incriminating paperwork before Deputy Linda(who was given the house in Duke's will) could take a look around.

Everyone managed to work together to put the flames out and while that small victory gave them some hope, it's only a drop in the bucket of troubles that Chester's Mill is stuck in,with the only thing being certain is that,despite appearances, Big Jim is up to no good, one way or another:

It was the semi-finals on The American Baking Competition last night and the theme was French pastries. It was also a double elimination, leaving three competitors left in the kitchen for next week's finale.

The Signature Bake was a tarte tatin  and the Technical was a napoleon,with the Show Stopper being a choux tower(or as some of us know it, a croquembouche).

 Hate to admit it,but Brian did his best work here and rightly earned the title of Star Baker. He will be going to the finals with Darlene and Francine and while it was nice of Brian to help James out, I'm still rooting for my girl Francine to take the big win home:


FOOD NETWORK STAR: In the tradition of Last Chance Kitchen, eliminated contenders are being given "Star Salvation" rounds in order to win their way back into the game. It's a pretty cool idea and as long as certain obnoxious people(yes,Danushka,this means you) don't return to the foodie fold, this second chance is worth taking:

Monday, July 01, 2013

A Booming Summer Sale and other literary highlights

With the Fourth of July holiday only a few days away, planning for your extended weekend celebration should include fun reading material and to that end, my e-book publisher Smashwords is having a big summer sale and yes, I am participating!.

 So, starting today and ending on July 31, the first two volumes of my e-book series,The Chronicles of Copper Boom, will be available for free downloads at Smashwords. Just use the code SSW75 at the SW site to get part one,Party Overkill and part two, A Chilling Warmth to cool you down this steamy season.

 My other e-book titles,The Hench Woman's Handbook and The Austen Avenger, are also still free reads and I hope those of you who enjoy those stories will take this golden opportunity to check out Copper Boom as well.

 The Copper Boom series tells the tale of Penny Slater, a young woman who has hidden her extraordinary abilities out of fear of being rejected by family and society alike. However, the unexpected meeting of a pair of super villains has Penny coming out into the open and learning to deal with her power,not to mention deciding whether she's meant to be good or evil.

The cover art for these book were done by my talented sister Stephanie,whose work can also be seen in the online graphic novel Perfect Agent(written by Greg Carter) and who will be doing the cover for my next e-book in 2014,Fanny Price:Slayer of Vampires. In the meantime, tune into my own version of a potential Hit Girl,whose adventures will continue:

On the print side, the paperback edition of Emma Straub's debut novel, Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures, goes on sale tomorrow and it's definitely something to snap up for your beach bag this week. I'm reading it now and for fans of old school Hollywood star stories,this is a real treat complete with sprinkles on top.

 The book chronicles the journey of Elsa Emerson, a Midwestern girl with dreams of acting, who becomes glamorous movie star Laura Lamont. Along the way,she struggles to maintain a harmonious family life while putting a happy face on her inner demons of doubt and the haunting presence of her doomed sister in the past.  

If you're expecting a tawdry little Hollywood romp,think again. The tale of Laura Lamont is much more down to earth and I look forward to spending this holiday weekend with her,far from the glare of the studio system limelight:

And in movie adaptation news, the release date for the film version of Fifty Shades of Grey was announced late last week. The targeted time period is August 1,2014 and the cast assembled for this erotic extravaganza is set to be revealed at Comic Con(why there is beyond me,folks).

Not that I'm planning to camp out at my local theater to get a ticket for this one but I have to say,August? That's one of the calendar months where movies open up only to die quickly and quietly at the box office(which is why I hold Bad Movie Month then). It doesn't sound like the studio has much faith in the film if that's the date they're going for.

Granted, some late summer movies have done well but those were mostly along the lines of mature as in older adult(Julie and Julia,for example) that mature of "for adult audiences only" nature. We shall see, I suppose, if we can get a peek through all of the steam this flick promises to make at the multiplex :

 I will be back later this week with my regular TV Thursday round-up but still want to wish all of you out there a very happy Independence Day. Even if you can't watch the fireworks where you are, there is still fun to be had with all sorts of games such as Book Shelf Scavenger Hunt(tag, you're it!),suitable for readers of all ages-enjoy!: