LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Marcia Strassman made her mark as the 1970s version of Alice Kramden, playing the (mostly) understanding wife of Gabe Kaplan on ABC's "Welcome Back, Kotter."
But Strassman, who died Friday at 66, was in showbiz for more than 10 years before she wound up on the sitcom that became a pop culture touchstone, in part because it made a star of John Travolta.
Lithe and raspy-voiced, Strassman began her showbiz career on stage and also tried to become a pop star in the mid-1960s before her thesping work took off. After she got her break on "Kotter," she became active in the Screen Actors Guild.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - In honor of the scariest night of the year, Showtime will re-air the first two episodes of "Penny Dreadful's" first season.
Starting at 9 p.m. on Oct. 31, fans can reacquaint themselves with some of horror lit's finest, including Dr. Frankenstein, Dorian Gray and figures from "Dracula." Viewers can also sample the two episodes for free on YouTube and various television providers' video-on-demand channels and websites.
The two "Penny Dreadful" hours will also be available on Showtime Anytime across platforms in the U.S.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Add TLC to the list of networks who have discovered when it comes to reality-TV stars, reality isn't always so funny.
The Discovery-owned network's decision to cancel "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," one of its most popular shows, represents just the latest in a long line of public-relations headaches and nightmares surrounding the colorful characters cast in such franchises. Not all the dust-ups are created equal, obviously, but they include -- just in the past 18 months -- fraud charges surrounding "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," racism and homophobia within the "Big Brother" house, and Phil Robertson's biblical ruminations triggering his fleeting (as it turned out) suspension from "Duck Dynasty."
But honestly, why should anyone be surprised? The main reason these shows exist, after all, beyond the budgetary considerations, is precisely because of the combustible aspects of casting such personalities. So it's hard to feel particularly sorry for anyone -- producers, networks, etc. -- when their "stars" wind up going off script.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Score the "Boardwalk Empire" finale as one HBO mob drama where viewers won't be debating what happened a decade later.
In fact, the eight-episode fifth season steadily built, through its flashbacks in particular, toward the show's powerful conclusion, while wrapping up various loose ends (and leaving a few dangling) along the way.
Series creator Terence Winter, in an interview, said the producers "told exactly the story we wanted to tell," moving at their own pace and speed. Indeed, despite the amount of plot developments jammed into the last season, Winter said he determined the number of episodes after hashing out the climactic arc with the writing staff.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Terence Winter has professed his love for "The Sopranos" finale, but the "Boardwalk Empire" creator certainly didn't choose to emulate his former show's cryptic conclusion in crafting a fifth season that steadfastly built toward its final, revelatory sequences. And that's to his and the program's credit, as the HBO drama methodically detailed the history of its central character, Nucky Thompson, while tying up loose ends (or most of them, anyway) with a ruthless efficiency that would have made Michael Corleone proud.
Sunday's closing hour (and SPOILER ALERT if you haven't watched) saw Nucky become the embodiment of fellow mobster Johnny Torrio's rueful admonition that there's little point to being the richest man in the graveyard. In that, he joined a rather lengthy roster of key players who had bitten the dust in this fast-moving final flight of episodes, to the point where in hindsight the truncated eight-episode season felt a trifle rushed.
With Michael Kenneth Williams' Chalky White and Michael Shannon's Nelson Van Alden having already met violent ends (hell, the gambler Arnold Rothstein, played byMichael Stuhlbarg, checked out in the prolonged lapse between seasons), the question lingered as to whether Nucky (Steve Buscemi) - having shrewdly cashed out, under pressure from the rising tandem of Lucky Luciano (Vincent Piazza) and Meyer Lansky (Anatol Yusef) - could somehow cheat the fates and get out alive.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - TLC has pulled the plug on "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," one of its most prominent series, following allegations that the mother at the center of the show has been dating a convicted child molester.
TLC's move comes two months before the show's fifth season was to premiere in January. The Discovery Communications cabler will take a financial hit in scrapping an undetermined number of episodes.
"TLC has cancelled the series 'Here Comes Honey Boo Boo' and ended all activities around the series, effective immediately. Supporting the health and welfare of these remarkable children is our only priority. TLC is faithfully committed to the children's ongoing comfort and well-being," TLC said in a statement.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - ABC has padded the episode orders for comedies "The Goldbergs," "Black-ish" and six other shows as the Alphabet surveys its needs following a solid start to the 2014-15 season.
"The Goldbergs" (pictured), the Sony Pictures TV family comedy in its sophomore season, has added two episodes for a total of 24. ABC Studios' "Black-ish" is also upped by two segs for a total of 24, as are comedies "Modern Family" and "The Middle" from 20th Century Fox TV and Warner Bros. TV, respectively.
ABC Studios' Grey's Anatomy" also climbs by two episodes to 24. ABC Studios' "Resurrection" got one additional episode for a total of 14 so far, while the studio's stalwart "Castle" and "Once Upon a Time" also grew by one episode apiece for a total of 23.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - CNN has announced a new original series to join its lineup in 2015.
"High Profits" will introduce viewers to Brian Rogers and Caitlin McGuire, two business-minded, relentless individuals with a plan to franchise marijuana. The eight-part series will grant exclusive access to the couple, owners of the Breckenridge Cannabis Club, and will highlight how the business has grown in the months since Colorado became the first state to legalize the use and sale of recreational marijuana.
Each episode will follow Rogers and McGuire as they manage a chain of retail marijuana stores, one of the largest grow facilities in the state, and work to build their franchise empire while navigating employee issues, customer demands, product testing, complicated taxes, safety concerns and legal and political hurdles.