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December 22, 2014

Documentary

Oliver Stone bringing the Secret History of America to Showtime

by Jason Hughes, posted Aug 19th 2009 7:02PM
Oliver StoneRather than dramatize the kinds of conspiracy theories that led to his film JFK being one of the most controversial releases of its time, Oliver Stone's latest project is a documentary series. The ten-part Secret History of America will cover the last 60 years of America, and is said to cover the dramatically "under-reported" events of that era that shaped this country.

It also promises to include "newly discovered facts" from the Kennedy administration, the Vietnam War and how America achieved its current global role post-Cold War. In other words, it'll be full of controversial ideas that will upset a lot of people. Sounds like Oliver Stone alright. I'm sure Michael Moore will be paying attention to see how successful this is.

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Tonight's Penn & Teller is about ... lawns?!?

by Bob Sassone, posted Aug 13th 2009 5:26PM
Penn & Teller: Bullshit covers a lot of varied topics, and most of them are controversial. So when I saw that tonight's episode was about lawns I thought to myself, how controversial can lawns be? Well, this clip from the episode features a man called the "Lawn Nazi," so it looks like a good one.

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Show I'm not going to watch: FOX's super-duper Octomom extravaganza

by Bob Sassone, posted Aug 11th 2009 8:04AM
OctomomCall me naive, but I honestly thought that we had seen the last of Octomom and her family, at least until that reality show debuted. But no!

FOX is going to air a two-hour special on August 19 titled Everybody Loves Octomom. Well, no. It's actually called Octomom: The Incredible Unseen Footage. I don't know what could be "incredible" about the footage, unless it's footage of the actual birth of her kids, but I do know it's a show I have no intention of watching (not even in an "ironic" way).

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Is Shark Week cool or does it just, um, bite?

by Bob Sassone, posted Aug 4th 2009 10:30AM
sharkSorry for the lame headline.

We're in the middle of the Discovery Channel's annual Shark Week celebration, a whole of programming involving sharks, sharks, sharks, sharks, and the people who love/fear them. But David Zurawik over at The Baltimore Sun doesn't understand why some people get excited about it. He wants someone to explain its appeal.

What do you think of Shark Week?
It's great! I watch it every year.177 (36.6%)
It's terrible! I mean, who cares about sharks?46 (9.5%)
I don't watch it, but whatevs260 (53.8%)

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Surreal pop-culture moment: Norman Lear watching Patti Smith - TCA Report

by Joel Keller, posted Aug 3rd 2009 9:01AM
Patti Smith at the TCA tourOne of the things that never gets old about the press tour is that at any moment, you could be in the middle of a blow-your-mind, surreal pop culture moment. That's exactly what happened to me yesterday evening, as the PBS sessions were wrapping up.

Patti Smith had the last session, to promote her biographical movie on POV called Patti Smith: Dream of Life. It was fascinating, as she was pretty open with the reporters about why she let filmmaker Steven Sebring into her life for eleven years, what she likes to watch on YouTube (Maria Callas for one) and all sorts of fun stuff. But I had to leave to interview another legend, Norman Lear, who was there with producer Mark Johnson to promote the documentary Playing For Change: Peace Through Music.

When we were done with the interview, Lear, Johnson, the publicists and I were about to walk our separate ways when we heard music coming from the ballroom. When we open it, we see Patti Smith playing her guitar for the critics, in the middle of her second song. So imagine me and Norman Lear, standing there, listening to Patti Smith.

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Tenth inning of Ken Burns' Baseball coming next year - TCA Report

by Joel Keller, posted Aug 1st 2009 5:29PM
Ken Burns Baseball documentary coverAt today's TCA session for his new documentary series on the national parks, Ken Burns was asked if he was working on a "tenth inning" addition to his iconic Baseball series, which ended in 1992. As he is wont to do, Burns took about five or so minutes to answer that question. What it boils down to is that, yes, a tenth inning is coming, scheduled to air sometime in 2010.

As one of our commenters below pointed out, this was announced awhile ago. But it was good to hear Burns talk a little about what they're going to explore in the new episode. So much has gone on in the last seventeen years, from exploding economics, new stadia, steroids, HGH, labor strife, and steroids (yes, I said steroids twice), that a tenth inning was inevitable. Unlike some of Burns' other series, which only go up to a point in history because anything after that would seem redundant -- the national parks doc, for instance, will only cover until 1980 -- Baseball was aching for an update.

Oh, and by the way, Burns' euphemism for the steroids issue was "exploring human frailties." Can't really reconcile Roger Clemens shooting 'roids into his butt with being frail, but whatever.

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Morgan Spurlock on The Simpsons Anniversary Special -- In 3-D! On Ice!

by Nick Zaino, posted Aug 1st 2009 10:03AM
Morgan SpurlockWhen documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock first saw The Simpsons, he was a 19- or 20-year-old college kid, still living at home with his mother in West Virginia. Having grown up watching Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and Blackadder, Spurlock was ecstatic to watch The Tracey Ullman Show, the show that would eventually introduce him to The Simpsons.

Twenty years later, Spurlock has established himself as a filmmaker with Super Size Me and Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden, and will direct a segment for the upcoming adaptation of Freakonomics. And he'll get to tackle the show he's loved these past two decades as he produces and directs The Simpsons Anniversary Special - In 3-D! On Ice!, which will air Thursday, January 14, 2010.

Spurlock remembers his first impression of the show, watching back in his college days. "When it first came on, I was in college, and it was literally an obsession. It was something that me and all my friends would literally ... at 8 o'clock, we were sitting there on the couch watching this show, and it was something that we all did together," said Spurlock in a conference call with media last week. "For all my four years of college, that was something that we did."

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Matt Damon and Marisa Tomei promote History's The People Speak - TCA Report

by Joel Keller, posted Jul 30th 2009 2:01AM
Matt Damon, Chris Moore, Marisa Tomei, and Howard Zinn on The People Speak TCA panel
You never know when the most innocuous-sounding panel is going to bring out the A-listers here at the TCAs. But when a big name is behind a project and he or she is passionate about it, that person will brave the room of critics to promote it.

To say Matt Damon is "dedicated" to the new History documentary The People Speak would be an understatement. The family of the Oscar winner lived next door to Professor Howard Zinn, on whose book, A People's History of the United States, is based. He and his Project Greenlight partner Chris Moore have been trying to bring the book to TV for a decade. "I have one of first copies (of Zinn's book) in hardback. It had a huge impact on my life so that's why I stayed with it. The moment we had iany influecne in this town we tried to get thids project off the ground."

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Cable day two: they keep you runnin' - TCA Report

by Joel Keller, posted Jul 29th 2009 6:32PM
Rescue Ink UnleashedIt becomes extraordinarily tough to do reports during the cable sessions, mainly because the various networks give you one session after another without much time to breathe. You're also shuttling back and forth between two ballrooms. Finally, if you happen to be lucky enough to get some one-on-one time with a few people (as I did with Joan Rivers and the guys behind the new BBC America show The InBetweeners)... well, it leads to posts that don't go live until nighttime on the East Coast.

Heck, I haven't even written about last night's AMC cocktail party and the comic stylings of Jon Hamm yet. That'll come when I get a chance. The latest info and quips will always be on our Twitter feed if you're curious.

For now, though, some highlights of the day:

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A TV series about Twilight's New Moon movie means we have too many channels

by Jason Hughes, posted Jul 20th 2009 8:27PM
The Twilight Saga: New MoonTV Guide has a couple of weekly recap shows about American Idol when it's on, but even so this seems a bit excessive. I know Twilight is a big hit with the kids, but is it big enough that we need a weekly hour-long show to build up to the premiere of New Moon, the second film in the franchise.

"This week we'll interview the cast and crew and show you some sets. Next week we can talk more to the cast and show you another piece of set. Ooh! Ooh! Wanna see an exclusive six second sneak preview of Jacob growing fur and a snout. Enthralling!" Sadly, this will probably work. If nothing else, it will get young girls watching ReelzChannel.

I have no problem with the behind-the-scenes specials we get to spotlight upcoming movies, but an entire series based on one movie seems a bit ridiculous. That said, maybe NBC should look at picking this up in case Leno doesn't work out. Make it a nightly thing. After all, there's more movies coming!

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Here's a preview of tonight's Three Sheets (yes, there is a show called Three Sheets)

by Bob Sassone, posted Jul 20th 2009 1:33PM
If you're like me, you didn't know that there was a show called Three Sheets. It's on the Fine Living Network (I bet there are some of you who didn't even realize there was a Fine Living Network), and the new season starts tonight at 10PM.

The show was formerly on MOJO, but Fine Living will be showing the never-before-seen season 4 and older episodes. Basically it features comedian Zane Lamprey, going around the world and checking out various bars and various drinks and local food. Here's a preview.

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Reality TV gets serious with NBC's The Wanted

by John Scott Lewinski, posted Jul 19th 2009 9:03AM
NBC's The Wanted is going after the world's terrorists.A new reality show premiering Monday is on a bit more serious quest than giving a D-list celebrity malaria or finding the next pop star. NBC's The Wanted is going after suspected terrorists and war criminals.

The show has already drawn its share of controversy as governmental officials say it could interfere in ongoing criminal and espionage investigations. Media critics are all over it, too -- calling it stunt journalism.

But, NBC is no stranger to such claims. Its investigations into alleged pedophiles on Dateline (To Catch a Predator) went from gritty reporting to police support to sensational pop culture phenomenon.

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Next week's Penn & Teller is all about lies, lies, lies

by Bob Sassone, posted Jul 17th 2009 3:25PM
I watched a TV show years ago that showed you how to beat a polygraph test, if you're ever in the situation where you need to beat a polygraph. Next Thursday's Penn & Teller: Bullshit! is titled "Lie Detectors," and here's a preview. It shows a married couple going to a lie detector specialist because the wife thinks that the husband might be cheating on her. Ah, love.

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Discovery renews Pitchmen

by Bob Sassone, posted Jul 15th 2009 12:04PM
PitchmenWhen Billy Mays died a couple of weeks ago, we were trying to figure out what exactly Discovery was going to do about their show Pitchmen. Would they cancel the show? Renew it with just Anthony Sullivan as the star? Try to find another pitchman (or woman)? Turns out it's going to be none of those things.

Instead, the show is going to continue with the addition of Mays' son, Billy Mays III. No word yet if the younger Mays will step into the co-host role with Sullivan or be involved in other ways, but I'm sure he'll have at least some on-screen role.

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Discovery might have gone overboard with this marketing gimmick

by Bob Sassone, posted Jul 10th 2009 5:26PM
Shark Week shorts
I almost chose the above pic for this week's "What the heck is this?," but realized it would be too obscure for readers to get. What is it? It's a bloody pair of chewed up shorts, and it's part of the press kit for Discovery Channel's "Shark Week." James Hibberd over at The Hollywood Reporter gives a rundown on what the kit looks like up close. It includes Hibberd's obituary.

I once got a "Shark Week" T-shirt from the network but nothing like this.

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