Archive for August, 2007

High School Rules

Was there any doubt that “High School Musical 2” would rock the ratings?

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The foot-stompin’ sequel to the phenomenally successful “High School Musical” had more buzz than bee-keepers convention, with newspapers and magazines going wacky with anticipation.

But that was nothing compared to the temblors being felt across the country by young viewers clearing out their social calendars for the event of the season.

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The Friday night debut of “HSM2” on The Disney Channel ranks as the most watched basic cable telecast every, drawing 17.2 million viewers. The previous record-holder was ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” game on 9/23/06 (16.0 million).

It also stands as the most-watched telecast on record for kids 6-11 and the most watched entertainment telecast of all time for 9 to 14-year old viewers.

Oh, and “HSM3” is already in the works

Here’s a short interview that Knoxville News TV writer Terry Morrow did with Zac in July:

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“John” gone, but Kiwis come back

We weren’t surprised when HBO announced it was canning “John From Cincinnati” or that “Entourage” would be back for another season.

But color us wowed when the network announced today that “Flight of the Conchords” will be back for another season.

Starring the New Zealand music-comedy duo of Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, the kooky show follows transplanted New Zealanders Jemaine and Bret, who live on New York City’s Lower East Side and split their time between seeking venues where they can perform and awkwardly courting women.

Since they find they can express themselves easier with music, about once or twice an episode, they break into song. Really, it’s the songs that make the show.

Here’s a few samples if you haven’t heard these boys before:

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“The Nine” Goes Online

Once upon a time, when a series was canceled you just had to wipe away your tears and move on, never knowing how the season ended up.

Well, that’s not the case anymore now that there’s plenty of room in cyberland. ABC’s letting fans of the failed series “The Nine” see how the season would have wrapped by putting episodes eight through 13 on the ABC Web site.

The rollout plan began today, with episodes eight through 11 on the site now. Episode 12 will post on August 23, with the season/series finale posting on Aug. 30.

The episodes will stay online until Sept. 24.

Let’s chat about the final episodes, and if you appreciate ABC putting the rest of the shows on even if it doesn’t satsify your thirst for every last piece to the puzzle.

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“John” wipes out

Apparently, audiences didn’t take to David Milch’s cryptic series “John From Cincinnati,” about levitating surfers hanging out in the border town of Imperial Beach.

Or Venereal Beach as we used to call it when I was growing up in San Diego.

On Monday, the day after the season finale aired, HBO canceled the series after mixed reviews and lackluster ratings.

So devoted fans – and you two know who you are – will never know what the mysterious final line in the season finale meant.

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JOHN FROM CINCINNATI: Austin Nichols. HBO photo: John P. Johnson

John says “Mother of God, Cass Kai” over a shot of Kai (Keala Kennelly) surfing.

But the good news is perhaps now Milch will have the time to write that “Deadwood” movie fans have been wanting.

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Oh, Mandy. We’ve got your replacement

We’re not saying anything against Mandy Patinkin, we’ll let his co-stars like Shemar Moore do that.

Shemar railed against Mandy when he decided to simply not show up for work, quitting and leaving the cast and crew in the lurch.

“I don’t think it’s right. He left us hanging… no warning, no nothing. We all showed up to work on Day 1, and he didn’t,” a testy Shemar told a group of reporters during a CBS party last month. “He needs to take responsibility for his actions. (We’re) an ensemble, a team. We just want the courtesy and the respect that we deserve. And we felt like if he had given us that initially, this would be much easier to deal with. He essentially just slapped us in the face.”

Mandy will never work in this town again. Except maybe. Because he quit CBS’ “Chicago Hope” in 1995 after one season, then returned in 1999 for the final season. And CBS execs say he’ll come back to do at least a scene that ties up his character.

But enough about the old, now we’ve got the new: Joe Mantegna will join the cast as FBI Special Agent David Rossi, making his first appearance in the fifth episode of the season.
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Here’s our Joe!

“We are all THRILLED (yep, they used capitals in the press release) to have Joe Mantegna joining our family. He’s an incredible actor, a genuinely nice person and, as a fellow Chicagoan, I can tell you he makes fantastic Italian Beef sandwiches and Chicago Style Hot Dogs,” said Executive Producer Ed Bernero.

Special Agent Rossi is an original member of the Behavioral Analysis Unit who took early retirement to go on lecture and book tours, and has volunteered to return to the unit.

Joe wowed us this summer in the miniseries “The Starter Wife,” which earned him an Emmy nomination. He also won a Tony Award for her performance in “Glengarry Glen Ross.”

His credits include the CBS series “Joan of Arcadia,” and we’d like to note that he has never once walked off a TV series.

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Merv Griffin dead at 82

There’s a big black and white picture of Merv Griffin in Elizabeth Jardina’s San Mateo home, a gift from the realtor who sold them Merv’s childhood home.

As Elizabeth, a former ANG features writer and now Sunset magazine researcher, tells it, she could hardly wait to get the opportunity to meet Merv and tell him that he was living in his house.

Merv died today at 82 after a long battle with prostrate cancer.

Merv was born in San Mateo, the son of a stockbroker, on July 6, 1925. His aunt, Claudia Robinson, taught him how to play the piano when he was just 4 and soon he was staging neighborhood productions on what is now Elizabeth’s back porch.

“Every Saturday I had a show, recruiting all the kids in the block as either stagehands, actors and audience, or sometimes all three,” he wrote in his 1980 autobiography. “I was the producer, always the producer.”

At first, Merv stayed close to his hometown roots. He studied at San Mateo Junior College and the University of San Francisco before bagging college for a gig as a vocalist at KFRC radio in San Francisco.

It was there that he caught the ear of another Bay Area bright light, Joan Fontaine, who was married to RKO honcho Wiliam Dozier. Merv soon chucked the Bay Area to seek his fortune and while touring, grabbed Doris Day’s attention, which led to hs film career.

After some success, Merv moved on to host a TV talk show in 1962 and stayed on for more than 20 years. He sang, schmoozed and mostly just listened. He would always say in interviews that “if the host is sitting there thinking about his next joke, he isn’t listening.”

Here’s a few clips from his show, including Whitney Houston’s TV debut, courtesy of YouTube:

While the talk show was all good fun, he made his fortune in the game show world. After a suggestion from his then-wife, Julann, he came up with the idea for “Jeopardy” in the 1960s and “Wheel of Fortune” in the 1970s. He later sold the rights for $250 million in 1986 but retained a share of the profits.

Merv went on to become a real estate tycoon, spiffing up such landmarks as the Beverly Hilton.

Merv and his wife divorced in 1976 after 18 years of marriage. He never remarried. He is survived by his son Anthony, 49, daughter-in-law, Tricia, and two grandchildren.

Oh, and Elizabeth finally got a chance to meet Merv a few years ago when he came back to San Mateo for yet another hometown boy honor.

She mentioned that she had bought his childhood home, and he countered with the fact that the family had lost that home after his father’s fortunes tumbled in the years following the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression.

Perhaps that’s what sparked his drive that turned a small town boy into Hollywood heavyweight.

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Idol Baby

Antoria Gillon wasn’t going to let a little thing like going into labor stop her from her dream of becoming the next “American Idol.”

Antoria went into labor while waiting with 13,500 hopefuls at Texas Stadium. As she got closer to her audition time, she realized she was in labor. Determined not to miss her shot at fame, Gillon sang her best while in the midst of contractions.

After completing the audition and learning she will return for the next round, Antoria was taken to a local hospital, where she gave birth to a healthy son – whom she named Jamil Labarron Idol McCowan.

Baby Idol arrived early Tuesday morning and weighed 6 lbs. 7oz.
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