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CHOCOLATE NEWS
TV BlogDavid Allen Grier stars in this new comedy show that promises news and commentary, "from an afro-centric perspective, be it sports, politics, or human interest, as long as there is a brother involved we're going to kick it to you raw."

To start the show, Grier delivers a funny, stinging monologue on the current state hip hop; he's an engaging host with superior monologue skills. This brilliant comic has the chops to pull off a program that revolves around his outrageous, spot on characterizations and genial nature.

In most ways this program is a traditional comedy variety show masquerading as political and social satire, totally dependant on bits that sometimes go on entirely too long, like the one with Grier appearing as Maya Angelou.

Better was the N Word Peace Treaty where a panel of 'experts' tries to come up with a word as offensive to whites as - you know. But the skit ends in a brawl, sure sign of a comedy writer's desperation.

There's nothing to stop Chocolate News from being a top show; a bit with Grier as rap star Phat Man in a PSA for No Child Left Behind was hilarious but Chocolate News lacks the reality quotient that makes Comedy Central's other political commentary shows so deadly.

It's the Colbert Report meets In Living Color, whether that's a good recipe in the long run remains to be seen. One good thing - it's a lot better than the previews make it out to be.

Chocolate News debuts Wednesday, October 15th at 10:30pm on Comedy Central.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 - 11:05am
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THIS 'N' THAT
I just read where friend of this site, TV legend Lloyd Thaxton has passed away. He was 81. Ken Levine has a nice write up on the guy, our condolences to his family, he was a great talent and a nice guy to boot.

This looks like fun, from the press release: On behalf of City Lights Home Video we would like to present MITZI GAYNOR RAZZLE DAZZLE! The Special Years on DVD November 18th! In celebration of the 40th anniversary of her first televised special (Mitzi, NBC, 1968) and the 50th anniversary of her break-through Golden Globe nominated performance in the blockbuster film Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific, City Lights Home Entertainment in association with Green Isle, Inc. is releasing this new documentary encompassing the ultimate collection of song and dance performances from Gaynor's classic network television specials unseen for three decades.

In addition to the highlights of Gaynor's classic performances are new interviews with Gaynor herself, world renowned Emmy® winning costume designer Bob Mackie, Tony-winner Kristin Chenoweth (Wicked, Pushing Daisies), director/choreographer Tony Charmoli, dancers Alton Ruff and Randy Doney (who performed with Mitzi on the road and in her TV specials), Nine-time Emmy® Award winning comedy legend Carl Reiner, best-selling author and critic Rex Reed, and Tony nominee Kelli O'Hara, currently starring on Broadway as "Nellie Forbush" in the 2008 Tony Award® winning version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific, the role made famous by Mitzi Gaynor in the 1958 film version.

As well as coming to DVD, Mitzi is coming to public television! There will be one hour special on channel WLIW, NYC, Ch 21 on OCTOBER 11th at 8pm! Mitzi herself will be making a live in-studio appearance and you will have the chance to call in and ask her questions. This will also be the start of the NY telephone pledge drive which then will become national starting in December.

I just saw a funny TV ad for Oliver Stone's W. I used to be good at predicting box office grosses when I worked in the business so I'll go out on a limb and say that this movie will have a historically low opening weekend. Reviews are overwhelmingly tepid.

Thanks to Dan Wingate for this very funny clip about the upcoming digital conversion from Talkshow with Spike Feresten:

Look what's coming to DVD: ZOOM - Back to the 70s.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 - 7:55am
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RING AROUND THE ROSIE
Patrick writes: "I read your item in your blog, in which one of Rosie O'Donnell's bootlickers gives her more credit than she deserves for "inventing" the talk-variety format. How appalling. I hope she falls flat on her face with her upcoming "variety show". How could NBC give that crackpot prime-time exposure? On the night before Thanksgiving, no less. Ellen DeGeneres had something called "Ellen's Big Variety Show" on about a year ago. That may have tanked, as we never saw more. I had forgotten how many variety shows were on until I read your site; seems like you're right - everyone did have one. The variety format has taken out bigger stars than O'Donnell - Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor, to name two. As you know. Maybe Rosie and her show don't stand a chance.

"Didn't anyone tell her variety shows are dead, and have been for over 20 years? Who at NBC did she bully-boy to get prime-time exposure? Jeff Zucker himself? Guess I'll be watching House or Law & Order that night.
One question that sticks in my mind, and has for years, is this - I distinctly recall an article in TV Guide saying that when NBC cancelled Get Smart in 1969, they offered Don Adams to host his own variety show. Adams stuck with Get Smart on his own. Carl Birkmeyer, the web's Smart expert, said "No." Adams was under contract to Get Smart and was obliged to follow the show. Which he did, when it went to CBS for its last seasons. He did not recall any variety show offer to Adams, yet I more than vaguely remember that from the Guide. Do you? I also recall one of the reasons McLean Stevenson left M*A*S*H was to host his own variety show. Which never materialized. Bad career move."

I think, if nothing else, it shows how desperate the networks are to find something the people want to watch that can be produced on a reasonable budget.

You're right, McLean Stevenson did have his own variety special / pilot (it was produced by Sonny & Cher alums Allan Blye and Bob Einstein with guest Raquel Welch) that went nowhere and he guest hosted The Tonight Show several times besides the dumb failed sitcoms he presided over at NBC. As for Don Adams he did turn up on a bunch of variety shows after Get Smart and had a syndicated series called Don Adams' Screen Test.

That said, I think it's vaguely possible that O'Donnell's show COULD be a hit if the focus isn't on her, there are no silly skits, and the game show aspect of it works. There hasn't been a show that offered audience members at home a chance to win money or prizes in a long time. Dialing for Dollars anyone?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008 - 7:15am
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MONDAY MUSINGS
I've been occasionally watching the daily versions of Deal Or No Deal and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, both shows are faster paced and loads more entertaining than the primetime versions are/were. On both programs contestants can win up to $500,000 in a half hour. Then again, on Deal the other day, a contestant walked away with $40. And he took a deal!

I netflixed Big Bang Theory Season 1 last week and I have to say I really enjoyed it, it's a pleasant time killer. Frothy. And it's great to see Roseanne co-stars Sara Gilbert, Laurie Metcalf, and series star Johnny Galecki working together again as they did in one episode (Sara Gilbert pops up in several).

Take a look at the original locations for 15 famous mega-chain stores.

"Critics are still analyzing Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric and they're saying she was halting, repetitive and stumped on basic questions. In other words, Palin appeared very presidential." - Conan O'Brien

Matthew Perry will be starring in a Friends spin-off in which his character Chandler will act as a sort of den father to a couple of young guys trying to make it in Hollywood. Given that Chandler was living in New York for all those years, it sounds like the producers took an existing idea and stamped the Friends brand on it. Then again, I probably haven't watched a dozen episodes of Friends so what do I know?

Oh yuck. There's a live-action/animated Yogi Bear coming to theaters in 2010.

I was watching The Price Is Right today (it's my job!) - did CBS tell Drew Carey to amp up the excitement, he seems a bit over-caffeinated. Now when you spin the wheel you have a chance at a bonus of $25,000 or $10,000.

Monday, October 6, 2008 - 11:39am
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TV BlogREMEMBERING ALFALFA
Teresa Bain writes: "My mother, who now lives in Brandon, FL., was Alfalfa's cousin. She told me how Alfalfa died. This is the story, according to the family... Someone OWED money to Alfalfa and he went to get it. Alfalfa was drunk at the time. Alfalfa confronted the guy and the guy pulled out a gun. Alfalfa only had a knife. According to the family, Alfalfa was shot over a debt of only $50.00. My mother told me she hated Alfalfa because he was so mean to her."

That's close to what happened, the official story at the time. You can read all about the mystery behind the death of Alfalfa here.

Monday, October 6, 2008 - 11:20am
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Super Circus on DVDCOMING TO DVD
Bob Huggins writes: "Alpha Video will have two releases of children’s shows coming up on November 25th - Diver Dan (Volume 2) and Captain Video and his Video Rangers. And, later this month (October 28th) Alpha will release Super Circus. It’s really great to see these old series resurrected in the digital age."

Here's a collection I just discovered that came out a couple of months ago, Kids TV of the 50s and 60s. From the product description: Be a Baby Boomer Kid all over again with this collection of shows from television of yesteryear! Watch -Diver Dan as he has under water adventures with talking fish-Howdy Doody as Buffalo Bob tries to sell his milkshake machine-Super Circus filled with clown and circus fun-The Magic Clown as he promotes Bonomo Turkish Taffy-plus a promotional film for Gilbert Toys from 1963! It's a collection that's sure to bring back the happy days!

I don't know but I'm betting these episodes are on the wonderful Hiya Kids! DVD collection.

The current best selling DVD on TVparty!: Carole and Paula in the Magic Garden. Hiya Kids! is right behind.

Monday, October 6, 2008 - 8:40am
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