We start off this installment of our entertainment news by mourning the death of keyboard virtuoso Keith Emerson of the 60/70’s rock group Emerson Lake and Palmer. He was a classically trained pianist who produced rock versions of classical music such as Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”, the British hymn “Jerusalem” and a very funky Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies from the Nutcracker retitled “Nut-rocker”. Their album Brain Salad Surgery was considered a masterpiece and included the much sampled “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends…” phrase. However the true masterpiece was Works volume 1 and 2. This featured solo pieces by each of the trio and combine pieces by the group. Most notably was Emerson’s piano Concerto number 1 which showed what a phenomenal composer he really was. In it you will hear influences from such modern composers as Aaron Copeland and George Gershwin. The song “Pirates” could’ve easily been the centerpiece of a Broadway musical had they chosen to go that route. It was enough to make you want to grab your parrot and your peg leg and hit the high seas. While groups like The Moody Blues were the first to record rock music with a full Symphony Orchestra accompanying them, Emerson Lake and Palmer actually went on the road for the Works tour with a full symphony. Each instrument in the orchestra at its own microphone connected to a giant mixing board that was controlled by the conductor of the orchestra. I was privileged to see the concert at Market Square Arena when they came to Indianapolis and it was a concert I will never forget. Unfortunately it was so expensive to tour with a full orchestra that they needed to sell out every venue just to break even. While it was well attended it did not meet that goal. The acquaintance of mine had tickets to see them at Indiana State in Terre Haute later that week but the rest of the tour was canceled when they did not perform there. I felt so lucky that they did not cancel the tour a day earlier. The group reunited for a 40th anniversary concert but had not been any new music in years. Sadly Emerson’s death was ruled a suicide.
Last Sunday on Palm Sunday fonts that were presented a “Live” musical event titled “The Passion”. Narrated by Tyler Perry and set in outdoor set in a park in New Orleans it took modern music strategically placed in a retelling of the passion and death of Jesus. It took songs that were not really intended to illustrate that story and tried to make them fit the story, Basically they took a bunch of songs about peace and love and a couple about betrayal or alienation and tried to put them in the context of the story. In some instances it worked but in others the connections were minimal. I tried to set aside the fact that I am an enormous fan of Jesus Christ Superstar and just judge it on its own merits. It should be no surprise that I would prefer listening to or watching Superstar than this particular performance. For me the only way I can appreciate it is to just enjoy the performances of the individual songs and not try to criticize how well they fit the story they were trying to tell. In that sense the performances were well done, and often quite moving. Tyler Perry’s narration that was supposed to link the songs into the story didn’t really add a whole lot. I was a bit surprised at the way he talked about the resurrection itself. He was sensitive to the fact that not everyone believes in the resurrection. His narration included many sentences like “no matter what you believe” and then went on to say that the message of Jesus is universal even if your belief in the resurrection may not be. I thought that was an amazing and wonderful concession for what was presumably a religiously motivated presentation. It set a tone that made it in no way preachy or proselytizing. I put the word “Live” in quotes because you could hardly call it a live performance throughout. I’m estimating three fourths of it had been taped in advance at various locations around New Orleans. The audience at the stage in the park viewed those scenes on giant video screens. I have to wonder if they felt cheated being told they were going to a live musical event and then standing around and watching it on TV screens. A few of the musical numbers were presented on the stage live as well as the final few numbers. It appears that the taped segments were accompanied by live musicians and backup singers on stage but it was still stretching things to call it “live”. There was also this whole subplot of people carrying a 20 foot long electronic illuminated cross through the streets of New Orleans starting at the New Orleans Superdome and ending in the park at the concert venue. Along the way they interviewed people who were accompanying the cross talking about New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina, and whatever else. That really added nothing to the event and in fact distracted from it in my opinion. The program is still available on demand and they are no doubt selling DVDs and Blu-rays of it. If you watch it at all, do so for the musical performances themselves and not for any kind of inspirational telling of the story of the passion. The performances by Tricia Yearwood as Mary the mother of Jesus were especially good as well as Seal as Pontius Pilate singing “Mad World”.
Normally the cancellation of a TV show gets a one line mention on this blog perhaps with an extra comment of my reaction pro or con. But there is a recent cancellation that deserves special note. Typically the cancellation of a long-running show when canceled midseason is news that trickles out bit by bit. For example one of the stars of Mike and Molly send out a tweet midseason that the show is not going to be renewed beyond the current running season. Sometimes an iconic show will announce in advance that this is going to be the final season. Shows like Sons Of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, and True Blood just to name a few have in advance announced and promoted “Be sure to catch the final season”. But a midseason decision to not renew is the kind of thing you generally announce quietly. That is except for the case of the CBS legal drama “The Good Wife” they decided to announce midseason that this was the final season of the biggest stage available to them. The cancellation was announced during a Super Bowl ad. I guess this is the biggest exception to prove the rule ever created 🙂 Not only is the cancellation itself a surprise but the big stage way they did it is unprecedented.
Speaking of cancellations and renewals. Here are links to Tvline’s scorecards on what is being renewed, canceled, and those shows pending with speculation on the odds
Now on to our regularly scheduled entertainment news. In the links below see…
Spoilers by Michael Ausiello dated February 6
Interview with The Walking Dead show runner about romance in the apocalypse
Spoilers from Michael Ausiello dated March 1
Spoilers from Michael Ausiello dated March 17
Spoilers from Inside Line dated March 25
Not in the links below but also of interest
Jane Pinkett Smith will return to Gotham for a couple of episodes this season as Fish Mooney
Gilmore Girls in getting a revival on Netflix
Louis CK has released a new TV series available for download on his website for $3-$5 per episode. Like his previous stand up special he’s cutting out the middleman and selling it directly himself.
SyFy Channel has ordered 13 episodes of a futuristic thriller titled “Incorporated” typical everything is run by corporations in the future (like five notes from now)
WGN America has canceled “Manhattan” after 2 seasons. The show was about the building of the atomic bomb in the Manhattan project. I watched four or five episodes of the first season and didn’t really care for it.
“Colony” has been renewed for season 2 by USA Network. I’m well pleased.
The Flash is doing a crossover episode to Supergirl despite the fact it is on a different network
NBC has renewed Shades of Blue starring Jennifer Lopez for season 2
CBS is canceled the Jane Lynch sitcom Angel from Hell after just a few episodes
Disney is making a holiday special featuring characters from Frozen scheduled for 2017
The History Channel remake of Alex Haley’s “Roots” will premiere memorial day weekend just sneaking in the deadline for a 2016 Emmy nomination
Unforgettable which was previously canceled on CBS and picked up on A&E has been canceled again.
Rock ‘n roll is here to stay. HBO has renewed “Vinyl” for season 2
ABC announced renewals of Grays Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, Agents of Shield[, blackish, Once upon a Time, Quantico, The Goldbergs, Fresh off the Boat, The Middle, Modern Family, Shark Tank, Dancing With The Stars and America’s Funniest Home Videos. Still undecided Castle, Nashville, Last Man Standing, Doctor Ken, the Muppets, American crime, Gallivant, and Agent Carter.
Jimmy Kimmel will host the 2016 Emmy awards in September
Amazon prime announced that Victorian crime drama Ripper Street fifth season will be its last
Martial arts fantasy series Into the Badlands has been renewed for season 2 at AMC. I’m not really a kung fu fan but I like this one.
USA announced Royal Pains will end after season 8
CW network has renewed Arrow, The Flash, The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, iZombie, Legends of Tomorrow, Supernatural, The 100, Jane the Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Reign. It’s top three rated shows are The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow in that order.
Maya Rudolph and Martin Short will have a live comedy variety series on NBC starting May 31st at 10 PM. Will also feature Kenyan Thompson.
Netflix has announced that Marvel’s Luke Cage will premiere September 30th
Switched at Birth will end after season 5 consisting of 10 episodes in 2017.
The new legal spinoff of Chicago PD, Chicago Fire and Chicago Med will not be called Chicago Law after all. Instead it’s going to be Chicago Justice.
Peter Dinkledge will host SNL on April 2
Patrick Warburton has been cast Lemony Snicket in the upcoming series for Netflix
Cinemax has announced “Outcast” the new demon vs. humanity series from walking dead creator Robert Kirkman has been renewed for season 2 even though season 1 will not premiere until June.
The final season of Person of Interest which starts May 3. Cancellation is official.
CBS will have a summer series titled BrainDead premiering June 13. Set in Washington DC a young Capitol Hill staffer played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead discovers that the government has stopped working and bugs are eating the brains of Congress members. Sounds like a reality series to me 🙂
ABC has canceled “Of Kings and Prophets” after just two episodes. I watched about five minutes which was apparently typical 🙂
Drew Barrymore And Timothy Oliphant Will Start a Sitcom for Netflix
Elijah Wood will star in a 8 episode adaptation of Dirk Gently Detective Agency for BBC America
RIP comedian Gary Shandling age 66
Fox network has renewed Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Last Man on Earth, Gotham, Empire, Screen Queens, And Bones. Still undecided The Grinder, Grandfathered, Rosewood, Lucifer, and Sleepy Hollow. Also New Girl is considered a sure bet.
CBS has renewed Blue Bloods, Elementary, Hawaii 50, Madam Secretary, Mom, all three NCIS, Two Broke Girls, Survivor, Amazing Race, and Big Bang Theory. No word yet on Supergirl, Limitless, Criminal Minds or others.
HBO has canceled comedy series “Togetherness”
There will be a “Talking Dead” after each episode of “Fear The Walking Dead” however it will be delayed till 11:30 PM on the first episode to allow for the premiere of new series “The Preacher”
Vin Diesel has said there will be new Fast and Furious movies in 2017, 2019, and 2021. Apparently the first seven installments left lots of unanswered questions 🙂
RIP Bob Elliott part of the Bob and Ray comedy team and father of comedian Chris Elliott. He was 92.
Netflix has ordered Orange Is the New Black renewed for 3 additional seasons
Bob Costas will be the anchor of NBC Olympics coverage from Brazil. This is his 11th time which is a record.
History Channel has renewed “Vikings” for season 6.
Mark Wahlberg and Kurt Russell will star in the film titled “Deepwater Horizon” about the oil well disaster.
RIP former Today Show host and baseball player Joe Garagiola age 90
RIP SAG-AFTRA President and actor Ken Howard 871
Lady Gaga has announced she is returning for another season of American Horror Story.
It has been confirmed that Steven Spielberg will direct Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones 5
Shemar Moore has left Criminal Minds after a recent episode.