Thursday, July 2, 2015

POSTED: Friday, May 1, 2015, 4:13 PM
Cherry Hill East singers. (Image via Twitter)

With "Pitch Perfect 2" hitting theaters later this month, Lifetime's announced a new docu-series, tentatively titled "Sing It!" and already in production, that will follow two "elite" a capella groups from New Jersey, including Cherry Hill East High School's Stay Tuned, "as they are given a chance to work with the world’s best coaches and face off in weekly competitions."

Coaching the Cherry Hill East singers: Deke Sharon, a singer and composer who was music director and arranger for both "Pitch Perfect" films.

According to Lifetime, he's also "founder, director and arranger for the pioneering a cappella group House Jacks and has shared the stage with countless music legends, including Ray Charles, James Brown, Crosby Stills and Nash, Run DMC, The Temptations, LL Cool J and the Four Tops, and performed for luminaries including President Bill Clinton."

Ellen Gray @ 4:13 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, April 20, 2015, 11:18 AM
Jon Stewart attends the First Annual Comedy Awards at Hammerstein Ballroom on March 26, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

I really, really hope Jon Stewart doesn't have to spend the next several years explaining why, after 16 years of delivering the fake news, he's decided to move on.

Because we've seen what that looks like for "Sopranos" creator David Chase, and it mostly isn't pretty.

Tony Soprano may or may not be dead, but Stewart's very much alive, and his decision, at 52, to try something different seems like a good one. And not just because even the fake news can wear a body down -- though Stewart's struck me, on many nights in the past year or so as being at least as frustrated as he's funny. Running in place isn't good for anyone, and for those lucky enough to have a choice, moving on can be a good thing.

Ellen Gray @ 11:18 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, April 6, 2015, 11:38 AM
Edward Snowden sits down with John Oliver. (Screenshot via HBO)

I'll admit I felt a twinge of regret that John Oliver was no longer at Comedy Central when Jon Stewart announced in February that he'd be leaving "The Daily Show" sometime this year.

We had the summer of 2013 to see what Oliver could do in Stewart's chair -- he kept it sizzling hot most nights -- and as much as I've loved what he's been doing since on HBO as the host of "Last Week Tonight," I wouldn't have minded seeing a lot more of him.

This Sunday, though, showed that Oliver had made the smarter move, as he unveiled a surprise interview -- in Russia -- with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. And somewhere between asking if Snowden missed Hot Pockets (yes) and talking about how the government can see pictures of penises belonging to U.S. citizens, he pulled off a tough interview, at one point calling Snowden on his culpability in a New York Times error that allowed access to redacted material related to U.S. efforts against al-Quaeda.

Ellen Gray @ 11:38 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, March 30, 2015, 9:38 AM
Comedian Trevor Noah. (REUTERS/Courtesy Comedy Central)

A 31-year-old South African comedian will replace Jon Stewart at the helm of "The Daily Show" later this year, Comedy Central announced Monday.

Trevor Noah, who joined the show last year as a contributor, has, according to the network, "hosted numerous television shows, including his own late-night talk show in his native country, 'Tonight with Trevor Noah.'"

Comedy Central president Michele Ganeless called Noah "an enormous talent."

Ellen Gray @ 9:38 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, March 26, 2015, 12:19 PM
Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley on “Downton Abbey.”

Read it and weep (if you have any tears left): PBS' "Downton Abbey" will end after next season.

And this time it's official.

Executive producer Gareth Naeme delivered the bad news in a prepared statement Thursday morning that doubled as a plug for the sixth and final season of the show, whose U.S. distribution helped shore up the fortunes of "Masterpiece."

Ellen Gray @ 12:19 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, March 24, 2015, 12:56 PM
Mulder and Scully are heading back to Fox for special "X-Files" event series.

Cue the eerie music: "The X-Files" is coming back to Fox.

Production is scheduled to begin this summer on a six-episode "event series" starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, the odd-couple FBI agents who investigated unexplained phenomena for nine seasons, beginning in 1993, and two movies, the most recent in 2008.

"I think of it as a 13-year commercial break," said "X-Files" creator Chris Carter in a statement included in Fox's Tuesday announcement. "the good news is the world has only gotten that much stranger, a perfect time to tell these six stories."

Ellen Gray @ 12:56 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, March 19, 2015, 10:56 AM
Neil Sandilands (left), Matthew Rhys and Dwayne Alistair Thomas in a scene from (FX)

I remember when entire seasons would pass without my having to see a single TV character burned alive.

I wish I'd savored that time more. Because it's gone.

A couple of years ago, I didn't make it past January, by which time I'd seen characters set ablaze on "Boardwalk Empire," "Sons of Anarchy" and "The Following."

Ellen Gray @ 10:56 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, March 17, 2015, 2:08 PM
Robert Durst, subject of (HBO)

It’s only a matter of time before “The Good Wife” writers take on a fictional version of  HBO's “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst,” and it could be a wakeup call for anyone who thinks Durst’s number is up.

Because as USA Today television critic Robert Bianco noted in an exchange we had on Twitter Tuesday, “Imagine what Diane [Lockhart] could do” with the letter revealed in the fifth episode of “The Jinx.” The envelope from that letter, on Durst’s letterhead, whose block printing (and one misspelling) resembled that on the anonymous letter notifying “Beverley” Hills police of Berman’s “cadaver,” apparently looked potentially incriminating even to Durst, who on Sunday was arrested in connection with the 2000 death of his friend Susan Berman.

My uneducated guess is that Diane (Christine Baranski) would make short work of the electrifying “killed them all, of course” moment in Sunday’s finale, because, as many have pointed out, it took place in a bathroom in which Durst was alone and likely unaware  he was still being recorded. Filmmaker Andrew Jarecki has said the recording wasn’t even discovered until much later (the timeline of some parts of the finale remain muddy). Would that matter?

Ellen Gray @ 2:08 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog
As the TV critic for the Philadelphia Daily News, I've always believed my job is less about thumbs -- up or down -- and more about the conversation. Because the more choices we have, the fewer people in our lives know what we're talking about when we say, "Did you see that?" And that's when television really starts to get interesting. Reach Ellen at

Ellen Gray Daily News TV Critic
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