Friday, October 31, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Tuesday, October 28, 2014, 9:56 AM
PBS.

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - "Odd Squad," a new series about problem-solving kid detectives, won't appear in full on PBS's airwaves until late November - but the audience most likely to watch the program will be able to get clues about it starting today.

In the latest signal that TV shows are no longer relegated to merely existing on TV, PBS is making videos from the show and games related to it available to kids who will make up its audience, another attempt by TV players to use digital media to build audience anticipation for a coming program.

Six full-length 11-minute "Case Files" from the series, as well as many additional clips that include profiles of the agents, agent training videos, recruitment videos and more, are being made available for free on pbskids.org, the PBS Kids Video App, and PBS KIDS on Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast and Amazon Fire. In addition, two games and parent resources are now available on the series' website, pbskids.org/oddsquad. The release marks the most full-length content the network has made available to date in advance of a series premiere. 

POSTED: Tuesday, October 28, 2014, 9:51 AM
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 28: Rapper Pitbull performs during T.J. Martell Foundation's 15th Annual Family Day Honoring Tom Corson, President & COO of RCA Records and his Family at Hammerstein Ballroom on September 28, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for T.J. Martell Foundation)

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Rap star Pitbull has teamed with the Weinstein Co. to develop two reality shows. 

"Pitbull: The Lyfe" is billed as a behind-the-scenes look at his life on the road and in the recording studio. "The Real Change Project" is envisioned as a showcase for pop stars and other celebs to share stories of how they made it big and the mentors who inspired them. 

Both projects will be produced through Pitbull's Honey I'm Home production banner. 

POSTED: Monday, October 27, 2014, 5:21 PM
Jenna Bush Hager and Natalie Morales check out the sights at Eastern State

Eastern State Penitentiary will be featured on the “Today” show tomorrow morning. Last week, Natalie Morales and Jenna Bush Hager stopped by the landmark to check out the Terror Behind the Walls Halloween extravaganza for the segment, learning about the prison's history and hamming it up at some of the exhibits.

Speaking of Terror Behind the Walls, if you haven't read about my buddy Helen Ubinas' experience as a zombie, catch up here.

POSTED: Monday, October 27, 2014, 1:07 PM
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 20: Actress Marcia Strassman arrives to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Hall of Fame Committe's 20th Annual Induction Gala on January 20, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

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.

POSTED: Monday, October 27, 2014, 12:53 PM
Showtime.

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. 

POSTED: Monday, October 27, 2014, 10:26 AM
TLC.

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. 

POSTED: Monday, October 27, 2014, 10:25 AM
HBO.

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. 

POSTED: Monday, October 27, 2014, 10:16 AM
Filed Under: Television
"Boardwalk Empire" (Variety.com)

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.

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