Posts Tagged ‘TV’

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Primetime Emmys: The Race Is On

June 19, 2011

Who knew there were this many tv shows, actors, actresses, and executive producers who are indisputably brilliant and Emmy-worthy?

I can tell when the Primetime Emmy race is on by checking my mailbox. “Emmy Magazine” arrived the other day…the 2nd quarter issue…and that means all the industry ads for Emmy consideration. The nominees will be announced next month and the awards are handed out the end of September.

And so now the advertising and pr push to sway Academy voters.

I admit I love the ads this year. Universal Studio’s 13 page spread is especially funny, each page promoting a different show for Emmy consideration with titles including, “Outstanding Corporate Interference” for genius “30 Rock”; “Outstanding Upstandingness” for “Parks And Recreation”;  “Outstanding Paper-Pushing” for “The Office.” Clever and in the spirit of the shows themselves.

FX is really trying to nail an Emmy for Dennis Leary of “Rescue Me.” It’s two page ad includes three pull quotes in a row from tv critics describing “Rescue Me” as the most “underrated drama.” I guess it’s time for Emmy to the rescue.

FX is also championing Margo Martindale as supporting actress in “Justified” with a similar ad rattling off of quotes like, “surely the Emmy Gods will smile upon her,” and “I wonder if they’re printing Margo Martindale’s name on that supporting actress Emmy yet?” We’ll find out.

The lesser known Reelz Channel sprung for a splashy 6 page fold out ad and enclosed  a dvd of episode 2  for “The Kennedys.” Clearly it’s hoping a nomination will be a reputation builder. It’s not the only dvd. I have one here for “Survivor: Redemption Island” and “The Amazing Race.” The producer is trying to win nominations for Best Reality Competition Program and best host.

Is there a little-show-that-could out there on a channel I maybe haven’t even heard of? One that can’t afford the glossy ads and pr machine but is every bit as Emmy worthy?  Tell me.

 

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New Features On The Site

February 23, 2011

Many of you who are new to my blog find me through online searches for stars or shows that I have interviewed or am writing about. Take a minute to click on my homepage and you’ll find some video just added including new bonus features with singer Darlene Love and celebrity and movie poster photographer, Timothy White.

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Grammy Awards: Mars Attacks, Rihanna Grinds, Mick Rocks

February 15, 2011

The most vehement, fire-up, hand wringing conversation I’ve been a part of lately came today from my colleagues who wanted to hash over last night’s Grammy Awards.

Let me say up front, everybody I talked to agreed with me 100 percent that the Aretha Franklin tribute was pathetic. This is not an attack on Aretha’s taped appearance but on the embarrassingly bad choice of singers for the tribute…Yolanda Adams and Jennifer Hudson are the only two of the five who came close to being reasonable picks for the job.  What should have been the most moving moment of the night dragged on, and is remembered now only for its disappointments.

Bruno Mars is a Grammy standout and the James Brown send-up in his performance was perfect for this awards show. It has a lot of people including me seeing him in a broader context as an entertainer and artist, now, and so ultimately he may have had the best night of anyone.

Among my colleagues (avid music fans and some musicians) I am alone in liking the Bob Dylan performance, not everyone shares my thrill in seeing Mick Jagger on stage once again, and it is unanimous we didn’t need that second helping of a grinding Rihanna.

 

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The Grammys Aretha Franklin Tribute

February 14, 2011

Tonight the Grammy Awards proved five singers together can’t come close to doing an Aretha Franklin song as well as the original can by herself.

And could they have had any less chemistry? With the exception of Yolanda Adams, not an inspired looking group given the honor and international visibility they were handed.

 

 

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My Most Fascinating Interviews of 2010

January 1, 2011

I don’t spend a lot of time in the past. Sometimes I think “reminisce” is another word for “can’t get on with life.”  Show me the person who’s always talking about the “old days” and I’ll show you someone who’s stuck there.

But I also know there’s a place for taking stock of what’s happened in life, how we dealt with it and pinpointing what we learned from it.

And here it is New Year’s Day, 2011, and I’m feeling strongly about the year just ended.

I interviewed some memorable talents for ON THE SCENE who left an impression on me.  In 2010, the show became more in depth, the interviews more revealing than ever. To get there, I demanded more of myself, extended myself, and dived into creative risks that I know I wouldn’t have just a couple years ago. Now that’s progress.

Maybe it’s natural I would do those things because the artists I interviewed who impressed me most are those who went outside their comfort zone and moved their careers into new directions.

For starters, David Bryan. For almost 30 years, now, the keyboardist in Bon Jovi.  But in 2010 he became a triple-Tony Award winner for “Memphis,” the musical which he wrote and co-produced. I interviewed him at his New Jersey beach house on a sweltering July afternoon. It was shortly after the Tony awards and he was reliving the winning moments. We also talked about how life altering it was for him to step outside Bon Jovi and helm a project in his own right and how it’s forever changed his career.

Oscar winners Geoffrey Fletcher, who won the Academy Award for writing the screenplay for “Precious,” and Roger Ross Williams who received his Oscar for directing the documentary, “Music By Prudence,” both saw their long efforts pay off in 2010. When I interviewed Geoffrey he described how just a year before “Precious,” hit the screen, agents would hang-up on him. Suddenly, they were calling him. I interviewed Roger (and the subject of his film, Prudence Mabhena) on stage for an audience q and a after a screening of his film. After a long career producing and directing television news and entertainment programs, he headed to Zimbabwe and shot this documentary for theatrical release. Look where it led.

And there was refreshingly honest singer Duncan Sheik, who went broke after scoring a big hit with “Barely Breathing,” then came back strong writing songs for “Spring Awakening” (another rocker turned Broadway success story).

Joy Behar was the year’s lightning rod. God, the hate mail. And that was before the interview even aired.

That’s only a few. Read the blog archives for more on these interviews and many others if you’re interested,  and there are interview photos in the gallery of http://www.johnbathke.com.

Now let’s see what we can make happen in 2011. All of us. Happy New Year.

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Interviewing Darlene Love

December 22, 2010

Darlene Love couldn’t hold back the tears today during our interview. The news is still fresh that she’ll be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in March (she found out last week and it had been her dream for years). I asked  what it meant to her and I could see the decades of music industry rejection, disappointments, and breaks that took so long to come her way, flash across her face. Her eyes teared over as she told me, “this means they recognize and appreciate what I did for the world of music.”

Spoken like someone who sang next to the A-list headliners as a back up singer for 20 years…to Dionne Warwick, Tom Jones, Cher, all the time yearning for more. She had her own records in the 1960s produced by Phil Spector, most notably the holiday classic she performs every year on David Letterman,  “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home.)

By the 1980s she was broke and working as a maid in Los Angeles.

But as I said to her today, what people find so “rock star ” about her, is that she never gave up. She got her singing career back and had a long run on Broadway in “Hairspray” a few years ago.

I also watched Darlene  rehearse for a show she’s performing Wednesday night, along with Freda Payne, who I also met today. They both sound astonishing.

Her interview with air in an ON THE SCENE episode next month, we can’t wait to put it together.

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Awards Season and ON THE SCENE Alums

December 4, 2010

It’s exciting for me whenever something great happens for an artist I’ve enjoyed interviewing for ON THE SCENE.

That happened again Friday when the Producers Guild of America (PGA) nominated “Smash His Camera” for its Best Documentary Feature award. The film chronicles the photography and life of paparazzo Ron Galella. In previous posts I’ve written about my experience interviewing the controversial and colorful Galella. And I’ve heard from a lot of viewers and colleagues who were fascinated by the ON THE SCENE profile, and I appreciate how engaging people found it.

What I don’t understand, is why “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” was eliminated from Oscar contention and hasn’t picked up any other early awards nominations after playing to rave reviews at film festivals all over America and becoming, I have to believe, the most seen documentary of the year, if the number of theaters that showed it is any indication. It’s a compelling, surprising, and extraordinarily well produced story of a show business life, by filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg. They are serious storytellers whose work here merits upper echelon award consideration. In a documentary, the award is for the filmmakers, not the subject of the piece. Is there a preconception that  a film about a comedian is by nature a less serious endeavor? Is there red carpet resentment against Rivers by the industry? If so, that’s absurd. Quality filmmaking needs to be recognized or we risk losing it. (I interviewed Joan Rivers for ON THE SCENE last year, at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in Times Square. People still ask me about her. It’s one of my most popular interviews and one I will always remember vividly.)

The Grammy nominations also came out this week. I was wondering if the cast recording for “Memphis” the Broadway musical would be nominated for Best Musical Show Album. It wasn’t. When I interviewed David Bryan at his house this summer, he told me how much he hoped the album would get a nomination. He was proud of the cast and creative team for working well together as they plowed through the recording session at a lightning pace. “Memphis” won the Best Musical Tony Award this year and often the recording of the Best Musical winner receives a Grammy nom, but not this time. (David Bryan won three Tony Awards for writing the music and producing “Memphis.” You may also know him as the keyboardist in Bon Jovi.)

Awards season is just beginning, we’ll see who stands out over the next couple months.