Saturday, October 22, 2016
Friday, October 21, 2016
Norman Lear was born on July 27, 1922 in New Haven, Connecticut where he was raised Jewish to parents of Eastern European extraction. He dropped out of college to enlist in the Air Force following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He flew 52 combat missions over Germany as a gunner/radio operator before being honorably discharged in 1945.
After World War II, he headed to Hollywood to embark on a career in comedy. In 1968, he first enjoyed a measure of success when he landed an Oscar nomination for writing the original screenplay for Divorce American Style. He skyrocketed to the heights of fame a few years later as the creator of All in the Family.
That groundbreaking TV series revolved around a small-minded, blue-collared character from Queens named Archie Bunker. America found the bigoted buffoon so appealing that the show soon became #1 in the ratings and retained the top spot for five years in a row.
His finger on the pulse, Lear quickly began cranking out a string of similarly-realistic sitcoms, including Sanford & Son, Maude, Good Times, The Jeffersons and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. And at one time in the Seventies, he was the producer of a half-dozen of the Top Ten TV shows in the country.
Despite the unparalleled achievement, Norman occasionally found himself facing discontent in the ranks, such as a rebellion on the set of Good Times. It seems that some of its cast members had become upset about the series' portrayal of African-Americans.
Esther Rolle, who played Florida, complained about the buffoonery, while John Amos, who played her husband, James, became so disillusioned that he quit after three seasons at the peak of program's popularity. Matters came to a head when the Black Panthers stormed Lear's office, demanding that he present some positive African-American characters. That prompted Norman to give Archie Bunker's irascible neighbor George Jefferson his own spinoff as a wealthy businessman "Movin' on up!" on Manhattan's exclusive Upper East Side.
Co-directed by Oscar-nominees Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (for Jesus Camp), Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You is an intriguing retrospective offering a revealing peek inside the mind of a pivotal figure in the evolution of American culture. For, Lear, now 93, appears prominently in the documentary, along with luminaries like George Clooney, Jay Leno and Russell Simmons, to name a few.
An alternately penetrating and poignant portrait of a true trailblazer!
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 90 minutes
Studio: American Masters Pictures / Loki Films
Distributor: PBS Films
DVD Extras: Mary Hartman Breakdown; Mary Hartman Casting; Not Dead Yet; Bill Moyers on Norman Lear; The Shrink and Syndication; and What do a 92 year-old Jew and the world of hip hop have in #Common?
To order a copy of American Masters: Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You on DVD, visit:
Posted by Kam at 6:23 PM
Blu-ray Review by Kam Williams
Beware of the Dark in Old School Horror Flick
When Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) was growing up, she spent many a sleepless night frightened by noises that she only heard after the lights went out. Today, the emancipated 22 year-old has all but forgotten that unfortunate chapter of her childhood. After all, she's long-since moved out of the house and has her own apartment as well as a devoted, if dimwitted, boyfriend, Bret (Alexander DiPersia), she's been dating for 8 months.
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence, mature themes, disturbing images, incessant terror and brief drug use
Running time: 81 minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group
Blu-ray Extras: Deleted scenes.
To see a trailer for Lights Out, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LiKKFZyhRU
Posted by Kam at 5:15 PM
Jackie Chan made dozens of martial arts movies in his native Hong Kong prior to finding phenomenal success stateside in 1998 co-starring with Chris Tucker in the buddy-comedy Rush Hour. Their pairing as unlikely-partners proved so popular that they returned to the well to shoot a couple of sequels in Rush Hour 2 and Rush Hour 3. And Jackie further milked the familiar formula in outings opposite Owen Wilson in Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights.
Good (2 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence, suggestive content, profanity, drug use and brief nudity
Running time: 98 minutes
Distributor: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Extras: Director's commentary; and "When Jackie Met Johnny" featurette.
To see a trailer for Skiptrace, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWUjtb0i7dg
Posted by Kam at 4:34 PM
Marie Brody (Natascha McElhone) was told she only had half-a-year to live when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1965. But, not wanting to upset her daughter, she initially hid the fact that she was terminally-ill from 10 year-old Charlotte (Natalie Coughlin).
Rated PG-13 for mature themes
Running time: 105 minutes
Distributor: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Extras: Actress Britt Robertson interview; "Eddie Murphy: Doing a Drama" featurette; "Food on Film" featurette; and "Based on a True Friendship" featurette.
To see a trailer for Mr. Church, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT3bzXXKtrs
Posted by Kam at 4:00 PM
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
OPENING THIS WEEK
BIG BUDGET FILMS
Posted by Kam at 11:40 AM
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
After only four shows, they were hired away by Jerry Lewis to write for him and Dean Martin on The Colgate Comedy Hour, where they worked until the end of 1953. They then spent a couple years on The Martha Raye Show, after which Norman worked on his own for The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show and The George Gobel Show.
In 1958, he teamed with director Bud Yorkin to form Tandem Productions. Together they produced several feature films, with Norman taking on roles as executive producer, writer and director. He was nominated for an Academy Award in 1967 for his script for Divorce American Style.
In 1970, CBS signed with Tandem to produce All in the Family, which first aired on January 12, 1971, and ran for nine seasons. It earned four Emmy Awards for Best Comedy series, as well as the Peabody Award in 1977. All in the Family was followed by a succession of other television hit shows, including Maude, Sanford and Son, Good Times, The Jeffersons, One Day at a Time and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.
Concerned about the growing influence of radical religious evangelists, Norman decided to leave television in 1980 and formed People for the American Way, a non-profit organization designed to speak out for Bill of Rights guarantees and to monitor violations of constitutional freedoms. He has also founded other nonprofit organizations, including the Business Enterprise Trust, which spotlighted exemplary social innovations in American business, and the Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, a multidisciplinary research and public policy center dedicated to exploring the convergence of entertainment, commerce and society. In addition, he and his wife, Lyn, co-founded the Environmental Media Association to mobilize the entertainment industry to become more environmentally responsible.
In 1999, President Clinton bestowed the National Medal of Arts on Norman, noting that “Norman Lear has held up a mirror to American society and changed the way we look at it.” He also has the distinction of being among the first seven television pioneers inducted in 1984 into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.
In 2001, Lyn and Norman Lear purchased one of the few surviving original copies of the Declaration of Independence, and shared it with the American people by touring it to all 50 states. As part of this Declaration of Independence Road Trip, Lear launched Declare Yourself, a nonpartisan youth voter initiative that registered well over four million new young voters in the 2004, 2006 and 2008 elections.
Norman’s memoir, Even This I Get to Experience, was published in October 2014 by The Penguin Press. At 94 years old, he just may be one of the oldest working executive producers in television.
He and his wife, Lyn, reside in Los Angeles, California. He has six children — Ellen, Kate, Maggie, Benjamin, Brianna and Madeline — and four grandchildren: Daniel, Noah, Griffin and Zoe. Here, he talks about Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You, the first documentary about him.
The biopic premieres nationwide Tuesday, October 25 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). In addition, PBS Distribution will release the film on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD on the same day, with additional bonus features.
Posted by Kam at 7:32 PM