Friday, April 02, 2010

TV Rebels: People and Programs that Shaped the Medium, Volume 1 Review; Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 5, 2010)

Today we will be reviewing the book TV Rebels. Sound familiar? We exclusively posted 12 essays from the book over the past year or two and now the book is out! TV Rebels: People and Programs that Shaped the Medium, Volume 1 has been released as the first in a series of chapbooks by The Last Automat Press. Innovators like Norman Lear, Rod Serling, Irwin Allen, and Desi Arnaz, and series such as Star Trek and The Sopranos are honored in this collection of essays as significant contributors to the growth of television.
To achieve "rebel" status is to have presented something new, innovative, and thought provoking. It was to have set a standard that those who followed were inspired by and in turn looked to emulate. The people and programs in this volume and in subsequent TV Rebels collections have done just that. In so doing they have become part of our collective pop culture consciousness. We quote them, we laugh at them, we cry for them, and here, we remember them.
Contributing authors to this volume are Oscar De Los Santos, Brett Glatman, Kelly Goodridge, Mark Misercola, Justin Orfanella, Lou Orfanella, Pasquale Palumbo, and William Suesholtz.
Copies may be ordered for $10 each, plus $1 shipping per order. Orders: The Last Automat Press, P.O. Box 35, Patterson, NY 12563. Mention SitcomsOnline.com and your copies will be signed by at least two of the contributing authors!
Visit http://www.thelastautomat.com/ for more details.

TV Rebels: People and Programs that Shaped the Medium, Volume 1 (The Last Automat Press, $10.00)

TV Rebels: People and Programs that Shaped the Medium was originally conceived as a companion piece to Oscar De Los Santos' 2008 text Reel Rebels: Eleven Directors who Bucked the System and Shot the Flick their Way (Fine Tooth Press). Several of the authors herein also contributed essays to Des Los Santos' book.

The book has a soft red cover and features cover art by Ivana Masic. It's divided into 18 sections and runs 48 pages. Each essay is 1-4 page(s) in length.

Sign On: Felix the Cat: The First TV Star - Lou Orfanella discusses the history of the magic bag toting feline.

Irwin Allen: A Master of Disaster Who Changed the Way We Look at Sci-Fi - Mark Misercola talks about Irwin Allen who brought us shows such as Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Spae, The Time Tunnel and Land of the Giants.

The Andy Griffith Show: Mayberry's Sheriff Without a Gun - Oscar De Los Santos takes a look at the success of The Andy Griffith Show.

Desi Arnaz: More Than Just a Bongo Player - Lou Orfanella comments on Desi Arnaz who changed the traditional method of producing sitcoms by shooting on film with multiple cameras.

Bill Cosby: Double Rebel - Lou Orfanella looks at the career of Bill Cosby from I Spy to The Bill Cosby Show, as well as his other credits.

ESPN: He-Could-Go-All-The Way! And Other Catch-Phrases - William Suesholtz comments on the development of ESPN's SportsCenter, Chris Berman's nicknames and other ESPN personalities.

The Flintstones: The Honeymoon That Never Ended - Mark Misercola traces the history of the family from Bedrock.

Norman Lear: Changing the Face of Comedy - Lou Orfanella takes a look at the career of Norman Lear who brought us groundbreaking and influential hit series such as All in the Family, Maude, Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.

The Mary Tyler Moore Sow: She Made it After All - Justin Orfanella discusses the issues that were dealt with on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and how it was revolutionary.

Monday Night Football: Cultural Phenomenon - William Suesholtz analyzes the impact of Monday Night Football and how it has changed who and why Americans view the game.

Monty Python's Flying Circus: And Now for Something Completely Different - Kelly Goodridge comments on how the "Pythons" altered the face of television comedy and were inovators with their jokes and sketches.

Saturday Night Live: Live From New York, it's Saturday Night! - Kelly Goodridge takes a look the history of the long running sketch comedy-variety show and some of the memorable characters.

Rod Serling: Submitted For Your Approval - Lou Orfanella talks about Rod Serling who brought us The Twlight Zone.

The Smothers Broithers: You Can't Do That on Television - Lou Orfanella looks at the development of the show and how they battled censors over the content of it.

The Sopranos: An Offer We Couldn't (and Didn't Refuse) - Pasquale Palumbo analyzes the HBO show and what made it so popular with viewers. The cast and characters are discussed.

Aaron Spelling: More Than Just Jiggle TV - Brett Glatman discusses the work of Aaron Spelling who brought us shows such as Fantasy Island, The Love Boat and Charlie's Angels.

Star Trek: Where No Science Fiction TV Show Has Gone Before - Oscar De Los Santos takes a look at the development of the show, the cast, the writing, cancelation and legacy of the series.

Sign Off: TV Dinners: Culinary Pop Culture - Lou Orfanella provides a short history of the TV Dinner.

This is a nice collection of essays that cover a variety of topics. They are well written and researched with a works cited section for each of them. Many genres are covered including animated series, sci-fi, sitcoms, sports, sketch comedy/variety series and dramas. I think they made some fine choices for shows and people that made significatnt contributions to the growth of television. This is a quick read at only 48 pages and with no photos. It would be nice to see them cover some other genres like news programs, soap operas, game shows, children's and educational programs, music television, talk shows, reality shows and westerns in future volumes. Most of the shows and people covered here are pretty well known. It would be interesting to read about some tv rebels and innovators that may not be household names.

Reviewed by Todd Fuller
(3/5 stars)

It's Friday, so it is time for "Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows" for the coming week. This is where we list what sitcom stars are appearing on talk shows for the coming week, the stars are both current and past sitcom stars (but we won't cover movie stars like Tom Hanks or John Travolta, since they won't be talking about their past sitcoms likely), so this is for all sitcom fans of all eras!
For the week of April 5-0, 2010, we have many current sitcom stars and past sitcom stars on TV talk shows! So get your DVR's (or whatever you use) ready! Ready? Here is all what you need to know for the coming week!

Monday, April 5, 2010
  • None.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

  • Steve Carell (The Office) - Steve is promoting his movie on Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm ET on CBS. But before that catch him with Tina Fey on The Oprah Show, check your local listings.
  • Tina Fey (30 Rock) - See Tina with Steve Carell on The Oprah Show, check your local listings for time and channel.
  • Betty White (The Mary Tyler Moore Show/Golden Girls/Hot in Cleveland) - She will be a guest on a "Funny People" edition of Oprah Show. Check your listings for time/channel!
  • Tracy Morgan (30 Rock) - Tracy will also be a part of the "Funny People" edition of Oprah! Check listings.
  • Carol Burnett (Carol Burnett Show/Mama's Family) - The legendary comedy queen stops by NBC's Today show sometime between 7-9am and then later LIVE! with Regis & Kelly. Check local listings for time and channel.
  • Mindy Kaling (The Office) - She stops by CBS's Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:35am.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

  • Steve Carell (The Office) - Steve stops by The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central at 11pm ET. Earlier in the morning Steve joins Tina Fey on NBC's Today show between 7-9am.
  • Tina Fey (30 Rock) - Tina will be on LIVE! with Regis & Kelly so check your local listings for time and channel. And a bit earlier Tin joins Steve Carell on NBC's Today show sometime between 7-9am.
  • David Duchovny (Californication) - David stops to chat with Leno on The Tonight Show at 11:35pm on NBC.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

  • Martin Lawrence (Martin) - Martin will be on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 12:05am ET and will also on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your listings!
  • Tin Fey (30 Rock) - Tina will promote her movie, but will probably mention her sitcom on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at 12:35am on NBC.
  • Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie) - Edie stops by to talk to the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am PT.
  • Steve Carell (The Office) - Steve's press tour for his movie continues, this time on LIVE! with Regis & Kelly, check local listings for time and channel.
  • Carol Burnett (The Carol Burnett Show/Mama's Family) - Carol stops by HLN's The Joy Behar Show at 9pm.

Friday, April 9, 2010

  • Jennifer Aniston (Friends) - It's a slow Friday, so we'll mention her. Her repeat appearance on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman from March 15 reairs at 11:35pm.
  • Steve Carell and Tina Fey (The Office, 30 Rock) - The duo stop by The Rachel Ray Show to discuss their movie. Check local listings for time and channel.
Leave us comments on our message board or Tweet/Facebook us to let us know what you think of this new feature! We do listen!

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blog Book Review: The Brady Bunch: Super Groovy After All These Years!

We interrupt our regular weekly Saturday Blog DVD Review to bring you a special Book Review. Today we take a look at The Brady Bunch: Super Groovy After All These Years! by author Mike Pingel. The book includes new interviews with actors, Ann B. Davis, Susan Olsen, Robbie Rist, Geri Reischl and producers, Sherwood Schwartz, Lloyd Schwartz, plus so much more. See my Blog Book Review of The Brady Bunch: Super Groovy After All These Years!:

The Brady Bunch: Super Groovy After All These Years!

The Brady Bunch: Super Groovy After All These Years! (BearManor Media, $19.95)

It was 40 years ago when The Brady Bunch family hit the airwaves and is still being shown all around the world today. The Brady Bunch was the story of a widow with three girls who married a widower with three boys, who lived under one roof and solved life's problems within 24 minutes! Author Mike Pingel's new book shares the history, fun facts, full episode guide and interviews with actors, Ann B. Davis, Susan Olsen, Robbie Rist, Geri Reischl and producers, Sherwood Schwartz, Lloyd Schwartz, plus so much more. Brady Bunch fan Charlene Tilton (Dallas) has penned the foreword.

The book opens with A Very Brady History Lesson. This chapter provides information on how Sherwood Schwartz came up with the idea of the show, how the show was cast, highlights from various seasons and the release of the Brady Kids albums, filming at the Paramount Studios lot, the friendships between the cast members, and the end of the show and later spin-off series and reunion specials. There's a good general history of the show, but I've seen more detailed information in previous Brady Bunch books. Various "groovy tips" are sprinkled throughout the book where we learn which Brady kid was the only one to have brown eyes, that First Lady Michele Obama is an avid fan of the show and the Brady kids and Liberace did the limbo on The Mike Douglas Show on June 13, 1973. Groovy indeed!

Next up is a Brady Chat with creator Sherwood Schwartz. He talks about casting Florence Henderson and Robert Reed, about the fights he had with Reed and how Reed had no sense of humor and how the Brady kids were cast. We also learn how Tiger the dog was killed and why Robert Reed refused to act in the final episode of the show. He then shares his favorite episode and memory of the show.

Chapter Two deals with The Brady Actors and includes interviews with some of the cast and crew. This section provides brief bios of the cast members and some of their recent projects. Again, the information isn't incredibly detailed and you won't find a listing of all their credits. Links are provided to the cast member's official websites where you can find more information on them.

Susan Olsen is interviewed talks about many different subjects, including her hairstyles on the show, her relationship with Mike Lookinland, her favorite outfit and favorite/most hated episode, her favorite guest star, working with Robert and Florence and the Schwartz family, why she didn't return for A Very Brady Christmas and her current/future projects.

Ann B. Davis is the next cast member to be be interviewed. She discusses how she was cast in the show, her favorite episode and crazy kid moments, meeting Henry Kissinger, working with Allan Melvin (Sam), working on The Bradys and The Bob Cummings Show and what she most remembers about the show.

The next member of the Schwartz family to be interviewed is Lloyd Schwartz. This is the most comprehensive interview in the book with some detailed responses. He talks about the origins of the show, the typical film week, working with his family, what was behind the Robert Reed fights, his favorite guest star/episode, the Brady Musical, the kids dating and his future projects. I'm surprised how critical the Schwartz family is of Robert Reed, but I guess they are entitled to their opinion.

A short section provides some information on books that were written by the cast, including Growing Up Brady (Barry Williams), Here's the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice (Maureen McCormick), Love to Love You Bradys: The Bizarre Story of The Brady Bunch Variety Hour (Susan Olsen) and Alice's Brady Bunch Cookbook (Ann B. Davis).

Chapter four is titled Brady's Reincarnated. "Fake Jan", Geri Reischl, is interviewed. She talks about how she was cast in The Brady Bunch Hour, her favorite episode, working with the cast, the "Fake Jan" phenomenon, the typical filming day, her favorite guest star and memory, and funny stories from the set. It's cool how she is proud of being called "Fake Jan."

The spin-offs, tv reunion movies/specials and feature films are covered with some short summaries and original airdates. Zach Bostrom, who played Kevin Brady in A Very Brady Christmas, is the next person interviewed. He discusses his favorite memory, working with Barry, funny incidents on the set and why he didn't return on The Bradys.

Hope Juber, daughter of Sherwood Schwartz, is next to chat. She appeared in several episodes as various characters. She talks about working on the show, filming The Slumber Caper episode, working on A Very Brady Musical and her favorite incarnation of the Bradys.

The Brady Effects details some of the references in pop culture and on other shows. This includes the Day by Day episode, Brady Bunch vs. Partridge Family Saturday Night Live skit and references on Family Guy and The Simpsons. It seemed a little unnecessary to mention some adult movies, but I guess this book could be rated PG or PG-13 for some of the content.

Chapter Five is Why We Love The Bradys. This section talks about the opening theme, the hair & clothing, the family cars, the Brady Home and links to some groovy websites. Wendy Winans, creator of the excellent Brady World, is interviewed. She is asked about the the number one question fans write in about the show, how she became a fan of the show and created her website, and her favorite episode.

The Very Brady Characters are profiled in Chapter Six. This section provides details on the characters pulled from the episodes. Honorary Bradys Alan Melvin (Sam the Butcher) and Robbie Rist (Cousin Oliver Martin) are listed as well. The replacement Brady Girls and extended Brady tree are noted. Robbie Rist is interviewed and chats about how he landed the gig on the show, the "Cousin Oliver Syndrome", working with the cast and fun stories from the set, and what he is doing today.

Chapter Seven is titled The Brady Stories. This is an episode guide and is the largest section of the book. Episode titles, writing/directing credits, original airdates and short summaries are provided. While the summaries aren't as detailed as some of the previous Brady Bunch books, there are some cool tips, tidbits of trivia about the episodes, and notes on the cast and guest stars included. This would be a pretty good reference for answering trivia questions. There is also a section on various Brady Bunch toys and records and a very short interview with Steve Sandberg who produced new Brady dolls for ClassicTVToys.com .

Final Comments: Overall, I liked the book and it would be a worthy addition to your Brady Bunch library. It's organized nicely and researched well. There are about 15 or so black and white photos scattered throughout the book. It wasn't as detailed as some of the previous books published over the years on the series. Other books have provided more detailed information on the history of the show and behind-the-scenes details on the cast, but this book has a nice mix of all things Brady. The most interesting sections were the interviews with the cast and crew. Some unique questions were asked and it was interesting reading their responses. The book probably could have benefited from even more interviews with the cast. The author is pictured with other cast members who weren't interviewed, so it's a bit surprising they weren't asked any questions. As a fan of The Brady Bunch for over 30 years, I can never have enough information on the show and cast and I recommend you pick up this groovy book for the 40th anniversary of the show.

Reviewed by Todd Fuller
(3.5/5 stars)

To purchase this book, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

Related links:
The Official Mike Pingel Website
Brady World
Love to Love You Bradys: the bizarre story of The Brady Bunch Variety Hour

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Book Review: People - Child Stars Then & Now

It is Saturday, so that must mean it is time for the mini review. Today we take a look People's Child Stars Then & Now. Ever wonderered what the actors who starred on Blossom, Saved by the Bell, Roseanne, Boy Meets World, The Wonder Years, The Cosby Show or Family Matters are doing today? Find out what happened to over 125 child actors after they outgrew their first burst of fame.

People - Child Stars Then & Now

People - Child Stars Then & Now (Hardcover) (People, $29.95)

They starred in TV's The Brady Bunch, The Cosby Show, Boy Meets World and The Wonder Years and in movies like Stand By Me, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and more. Many got famous, and rich, before they got driver's licenses. What happened after that first -- and often fleeting -- burst of fame? Who got married? Who went to rehab? Who built a career behind the camera? Who's hawking hair products on infomercials? Who's delivering pizza? Find out what became of all of the kids who came of age in Hollywood in the '70s, '80s and '90s.

This book comes in two formats. The softcover version is available on newstands now until September 22. A more expensive hardcover version will be available on August 5. The front cover features 7 then photos and there are 7 now photos on the back cover. There are 144 pages and tons of photos from the past and present. A few of them get some pretty extensive updates spanning a few pages while others get only a short update. At the end of the book, there is a gone too soon section with some tributes to a few child stars that have passed away and an "I'm not a kid, but I played one on tv" section that provides no current updates.

Here is a list of who is featured (in alphabetical order):

Tatyana Ali - The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Chad Allen - My Two Dads, Our House
Sean Astin - The Goonies
Christopher Atkins - The Blue Lagoon
Christian Bale - Empire of the Sun
Drew Barrymore - E.T.
Jason Bateman - Little House on the Prairie, Silver Spoons, The Hogan Family
Brice Beckham - Mr. Belvedere
Elizabeth Berkley - Saved by the Bell
Valerie Bertinelli - One Day at a Time
Mayim Bialik - Blossom
Peter Billingsley - A Christmas Story
Thora Birch - Monkey Trouble
Tempestt Bledsoe - The Cosby Show
Lisa Bonet (aka Lilakoi Moon) - The Cosby Show
Brian Bonsall - Family Ties
Jonathan Brandis - seaQuest DSV
Josh Brolin - The Goonies
Chris Burke - Life Goes On
Kirk Cameron - Growing Pains
Gabrielle Carteris - Beverly Hills, 90210
Max Casella - Doogie Howser, M.D.
Keisha Castle-Hughes - Whale Rider
Lacey Chabert - Party of Five
Anna Chlumsky - My Girl
Jeff Cohen - The Goonies
Jennifer Connelly - Labyrinth
Macaulay Culkin - Home Alone, Home Alone 2
Claire Danes - My So-Called Life
Stacey Dash - Clueless
Josie Davis - Charles in Charge
Dustin Diamond - Saved by the Bell
Leonard DiCaprio - Growing Pains, This Boy's Life
Elisa Donovan - Clueless
Hilary Duff - Lizzie McGuire
Kirsten Dunst - Interview with the Vampire
Nicole Eggert - Charles in Charge
Halie Kate Eisenberg - Pepsi commercials, Paulie
David Faustino - Married... with Children
Fergie - Kids Incorporated
Corey Feldman - The Lost Boys
Danielle Fishel - Boy Meets World
Michael Fishman - Roseanne
Jodie Foster - Taxi Driver
Jaimee Foxworth - Family Matters
Will Friedle - Boy Meets World
Soleil Moon Frye - Punky Brewster
Edward Furlong - Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Sara Gilbert - Roseanne
Alicia (Lecy) Goranson - Roseanne
Joseph Gordon-Levitt - 3rd Rock from the Sun
Mark-Paul Gosselaar - Saved by the Bell
Corey Haim - The Lost Boys
Jackie Earle Haley - The Bad News Bears
Anthony Michael Hall - Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science
Neil Patrick Harris - Doogie Howser, M.D.
Melissa Joan Hart - Clarissa Explains It All, Sabrina the Teenage Witch
Noah Hathaway - The Neverending Story
Justin Henry - Kramer vs. Kramer, Sixteen Candles
Jason Hervey - The Wonder Years
Jennifer Love Hewitt - Kids Incorporated, Party of Five
Gaby Hoffman - Field of Dreams
Ron Howard - The Music Man, The Andy Griffith Show
Scarlett Johansson - The Horse Whisperer
Stacy Keanan - My Two Dads, Steby by Step
Christopher Knight - The Brady Bunch
Charlie Korsmo - Dick Tracy, Can't Hardly Wait
A.J. Langer - My So-Called Life
Diane Lane - The Outsiders
Joey Lawrence - Gimme A Break!
Jared Leto - My So-Called Life
Emmanuel Lewis - Webster
Jenny Lewis - The Wizard
Jonathan Lipnicki - Jerry Maguire
Lindsay Lohan - The Parent Trap
Mario Lopez - Saved by the Bell
Ralph Macchio - The Karate Kid
Tobey Maguire - This Boy's Life, Deconstructing Harry
Tina Majorino - Andre
Kellie Martin - Life Goes On
Maureen McCormick - The Brady Bunch
Danica McKellar - The Wonder Years
Jeremy Miller - Growing Pains
Illan Mitchell-Smith - Weird Science
Tahj Mowry - Smart Guy
Tamera Mowry - Sister, Sister
Tia Mowry - Sister, Sister
Jerry O'Connell - Stand By Me
Olsen Twins - Full House
Amy O'Neill - Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Heather O'Rourke - Poltergeist
Haley Joel Osment - The Sixth Sense
Peter Ostrum - Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Sarah Jessica Parker - Square Pegs
Luke Perry - Beverly Hills, 90210
River Phoenix - Standy By Me
Corky Pigeon - Silver Spoons
Danny Pintauro - Who's the Boss?
Dana Plato - Diff'rent Strokes
Eve Plumb - The Brady Bunch
Alexander Polinsky - Charles in Charge
Natalie Portman - The Professional
Jason Priestley - Beverly Hills 90210
Keshia Knight Pulliam - The Cosby Show
Aileen Quinn - Annie
Raven-Symoné - The Cosby Show
Brad Renfro - Sleepers, The Client
Alfonso Ribeiro - Silver Spoons, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Christina Ricci - The Addams Family
Ariana Richards - Tremors, Jurassic Park
Molly Ringwald - The Facts of Life Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club
Brian Robbins - Head of the Class
Ben Savage - Boy Meets World
Fred Savage - The Wonder Years
Scott Schwartz - The Toy, A Christmas Story
Brooke Shields - Pretty Baby, The Blue Lagoon
Taran Noah Smith - Home Improvement
Rider Strong - Boy Meets World
Tiffani Thiessen - Saved by the Bell
Henry Thomas - E.T.
Jonathan Taylor Thomas - Home Improvement
Jenna von Oy - Blossom
Lark Voorhies - Saved by the Bell
Malcolm-Jamal Warner - The Cosby Show
Gedde Watanabe - Sixteen Candles
Wil Wheaton - Stand By Me, Star Trek: The Next Generation
Jaleel White - Family Matters
Kellie Williams - Family Matters
Elijah Wood - Avalon
Tina Yothers - Family Ties

Final Comments: This book had a lot of promise, but ultimately there are simply too many updates on people that are well-known to everybody. Who doesn't know what Christian Bale, Drew Barrymore, Josh Brolin, Jennifer Connelly, Leonard DiCaprio, Fergie, Jodie Foster, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ron Howard, Jared Leto, Lindsay Lohan, Tobey Maguire, Sarah Jessica Parker, Natalie Portman, Christina Ricci, Brooke Shields or Elijah Wood are doing today? Also, they included no updates for the people in the actors who were not really child stars section. The photos included in the book are very nice and the updates do seem to be researched well, so if you are a fan of a number of the people profiled it would still probably be worth it to check it out. The softcover version that is out now is considerably cheaper than the hardcover version that will be released next month

This book simply needed more updates like they had for Corky Pigeon from Silver Spoons and Alexander Polinsky from Charles in Charge. It would have been nice to see updates for more people that are not as well-known and no longer in the public eye. I would love to see a book devoted to more child stars from the '70s-'90s that was a bit more in depth. I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting to see updates on the actors from shows like Diff'rent Strokes, Gimme A Break!, The Hogan Family, Charles in Charge (first season cast), The Facts of Life, What's Happening!!, Head of the Class and Kate & Allie.

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller
(3/5 stars)

To purchase this book, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

Related links:
Sneak Peek! Child Stars: Then & Now
Former Child Star Central

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Sitcom Book Review: Close-ups: Conversations with Our TV Favorites By Eddie Lucas

Today instead of a mini-DVD review we have a book review! We have done a few book reviews in the past such as a review of the Desperate Housewives cookbook, Jim Belushi's book, and a book on the Sitcoms of Norman Lear. Man we do a lot of types of reviews...DVD reviews (full and minis), book reviews, CD reviews, pilot reviews, and we even did a review of the In2TV system and ABC Full Episode Player system! We were supposed to do this book review some months back, but we never got the book. Now we have it and it seems to have been worth the wait! I think all sitcom fans will like this and should buy it...but let skees53 tell you that in his review:

Close-ups: Conversations with Our TV Favorites by Eddie Lucas (Bear Manor Media, $22.95) gets in-depth and personal with many of our favorite TV stars from the past. The author of the book, Eddie Lucas, gets together with 17 different well-known actors and actresses from classic TV series that we all know and love and interviews them, asking them questions from the obvious to the less obvious, providing us with answers that don't surprise us as well as candid answers that do surprise us.
The book begins with an introduction, telling fans--both casual and die-hards--what the book is all about, and why the author embarked on the project. After that, the book is presented in chapters, 17 of them to be specific, each one featuring a recent interview with 17 different actors and actresses from TV series going back from the 1950s all the way up to the mid 1980s, though the book does have an emphasis on series from the 1950s and 1960s. The actors and actresses included are as follows:

• Alice Ghostley (Bewitched and Designing Women)
• Peter Breck (The Big Valley)
• Elinor Donahue (Father Knows Best and The Andy Griffith Show)
• Lynn Borden (Hazel)
• Ray Fulmer (Hazel)
• Keith Thibodeaux (I Love Lucy)
• Marla Gibbs (The Jeffersons and 227)
• Jon Provost (Lassie)
• Barbara Billingsley (Leave it to Beaver)
• Tony Dow (Leave it to Beaver)
• Dwayne Hickman (The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis)
• Peter Lupus (Mission: Impossible)
• Kaye Ballard (The Mothers-In-Law)
• Stanley Livingston (My Three Sons)
• Jon Walmsley (The Waltons)
• Ernest Thomas (What's Happening!! and What's Happening Now!!)
• Haywood Nelson (What's Happening!! and What's Happening Now!!)

Unlike many books about TV and TV stars, this book is not just some author writing a story in his own words, but instead, the book is exactly as it is described in the title: conversations. What appears in the book is verbatim conversations with each one of these stars, with the author asking the questions and the stars giving their own responses in their own words. As you read the book, you can almost hear the stars saying things the way that they are written in the book in their own voices. It makes everything in the book sound more natural and authentic (and it also avoids the pitfalls of paraphrasing, where details all too often get changed into something inaccurate).
When I first received the book, my first thought was "huh, another book about TV, I've heard it all already," but only minutes after getting into the book, I realized that this was by no means just another book. In fact, this is a very different and interesting book that actually gets in-depth with the actors and actresses and tells more personal stories with more details than I've heard in many other places. It is interesting, for example, to read about Barbara Billingsley's life outside of Leave it to Beaver. We learn that before Leave it to Beaver, she was offered a TV pilot in a series where she would have been married to a character played by Buddy Ebsen, and we also get to learn the story about why she wore the high heels and pearls. There actually was a real reason, and it wasn't because the producers believed that a typical housewife WOULD be wearing that. In the interview with Ernest Thomas, we get to learn why Mabel King's character simply disappeared from What's Happening!! and how she felt about the series after her departure. Perhaps one of the most interesting interviews, however, is the one with Alice Ghostley. While her insights on Bewitched are interesting, it is even more interesting to hear her very candid insights on Designing Women, particularly how she felt about the series and the direction that it took in the later seasons. Her story about the "Black Man" song on Designing Women is also very interesting to hear. What is unfortunate, however, is the fact that this was probably among her last interviews ever, if not the last, as the interview was done while she was ill. In fact, the book was officially released just one day before here death in September.
For the many people out there that love books about TV, this book is a must-own book for sure. But for those that just love TV but don't really care to read about it may find themselves interested in this book also. The book is nearly 300 pages, but it is actually very easy to read, and of course, the book doesn't require the reader to read every interview. Readers can pick and choose which ones they are interested in. The material presented in this book is more insightful and interesting than anything you can get off of any tabloid entertainment (such as a TV interview where just the bits and pieces that the producers want you to see are presented), and you actually learn things about the stars that give you a better idea of who they are. This is definitely worth adding to your book collection, even if you haven't started one!

-- Reviewed by skees53
(5/5 stars)

To purchase the Book, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

Related links:
Official Website of Close-ups: Conversations with Our TV Favorites
Author Eddie Lucas' Blog

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Mini-DVD Review: Entourage Season 3 Part 1 (April 3); Book Review: My First Five Husbands... By Rue McClanahan (April 10)

Welcome to another edition of mini-DVD reviews! Today we take a look at HBO's Entourage: Season 3, Part 1. Entourage of course is the popular HBO series that is about a guy named Vince (played by Adrian Grenier) that is about to make it big in showbiz and moves to Hollywood in hopes that he will make it to the top. Also, we have a special book review of My First Five Husbands from sitcom star Rue McClanahan (The Golden Girls) See skees53's mini-DVD review of Entourage: Season 3, Part 1 and the book review of My First Five Husbands:

Entourage: Season 3, Part 1 (HBO, $39.98) contains the twelve episodes of the hit HBO comedy series that aired in the summer of 2006 on HBO (apparently the third season is still going on right now according to HBO, beginning with the new episodes that started earlier this week). A little introduction may be needed for those that don't have HBO or those that (like me) wouldn't normally watch an original series that airs on a cable channel: it is a series about a guy named Vince (played by Adrian Grenier) that is about to make it big in showbiz and moves to Hollywood in hopes that he will make it to the top. But he doesn't going to Hollywood all alone, he is bringing his childhood friends--his "entourage" (including his friends Eric and Turtle, and his half-brother who also aspires to be an actor, but just isn't that good, Drama)--to help him through it all. The whole series is loosely based upon the life of Mark Wahlberg, who is more infamously known as Marky Mark. The whole premise of the series is quite simple really.
Season Three, Part 1, as previously mentioned, contains 12 episode which, despite only being part of a season, is about the same number of episodes that was contained on each of the first two season sets), beginning with "Aquamom," where Vince's "Aquaman" movie is about to premiere--but who will he go down the red carpet with at the premiere?
Los Angeles is having rolling blackouts in "One Day In the Valley," could this affect the box office numbers for Vince's movie? In "Three's Company," Vince's star power goes to his head and he demands more money to do the "Aquaman 2" movie... and Eric's girlfriend wants him to have a threesome. But will his girlfriend regret that threesome? Maybe so if she knew what Eric was thinking in "Strange Days." The season (or partial season) ends with Ari (Vince's agent) possibly getting canned in "Sorry, Ari." There are many guest stars to be found within the episodes including Martin Landau, Seth Green, Penny Marshall, James Woods, and more (as an unrelated side note, check out season 2 to see Bob Saget in a way that is nothing like Danny Tanner!).
The audio and video quality of the set is superb, with the episodes being presented in widescreen format with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. The set isn't hefty in bonus features, but it does contain commentaries on three episodes ("One Day in the Valley," "Vegas Baby, Vegas!," and "Sorry, Ari") as well as a behind-the-scenes featurette for the "Vegas Baby, Vegas!" episode. The set itself comes in a nice and sturdy digipak (no outer case, but with the sturdy manner in which this is designed, it doesn't need one) on three discs. So what else can I say? Get your entourage together and head out to Hollywood (or just go to wherever you would get your DVDs from) and pick up this set!
-- Reviewed by skees53
(4.5/5 stars)

To purchase this DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
Entourage TV.com Page


My First Five Husbands... and the Ones Who Got Away (Broadway, $24.95) is Rue McClanahan's autobiography--talking about her life so far chronologically in terms of her husbands and love interests that she has had along the way. The book is presented in a very personal, almost conversational tone, with Rue talking about the good guys and the bad guys she has met along the way--and there are so many of them that it is no surprise that she played Blanche on The Golden Girls.
The book starts out with her childhood and her mother (whom she actually called "Mother" for reasons she explains in the book). She then moves on to talk about when she finally got into showbiz, in the 1950s, where she began to take on some minor roles here and there on the stage in New York City. But of course, where the book really gets interesting is where she gets in to the 1970s, where she begins to become a television star. She talks about her lucky day being the day that she choked on the "luckiest chicken bone" when they decided to kill off her character Aunt Fran on Mama's Family--little did I know that she disliked that role so much! Of course, knowing what happened after being killed off on Mama's Family (getting the role on The Golden Girls), it is understandable why her character being killed off on Mama's Family was a lucky thing for her. Chapter 21 is perhaps the most interesting one in the book, where she talks all about the beginnings of The Golden Girls.
Along the way, we meet her many boyfriends that she has had along the way and all of her first five husbands (there is even a chapter for pretty much all of them) and we find out why none of the marriages ever exactly worked out as planned. She doesn't spare any details on why the marriages didn't work--and I would think some of the ex-husbands wouldn't be too thrilled about what she says, as she even talks about what life is like in bed! But she does stay open and honest the entire way through. Now, on her sixth husband, she is convinced that she has finally found the one--and only time will tell if she is right this time.
The book gives a very interesting perspective into McClanahan's life, though for those that know her best through her work on television, much of the first eighteen chapters will seem unfamiliar. All-in-all, it is a decent book that is a pretty easy read, though sitcom fans may be totally unfamiliar with everything she talks about early on (she even somewhat acknowledges this herself, although she doesn't seem to mind being known as Blanche). But on the other hand, it does give those that know her through her sitcoms a perspective on what her life was like before, and how she ultimately got to where she is today (you can't neglect the back story in any autobiography). Any true fan of Rue McClanahan--one that is interested in more than just her days as Blanche Devereaux--would enjoy this book.
-- Reviewed by skees53
(4.5/5 stars)

To purchase this Book, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
Rue McClanahan TV.com Page

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