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Retrieving a once-famous chemist

History tends to remember a few rebels and reformers
.They’re authors and politicians, mostly. But then there’s the guy – now semi-forgotten – who was once the world’s most famous chemist
.That’s Harvey Wiley (shown here with his young “poison squad”), subject of a fascinating PBS profile Tuesday. He was an early target in the war against science. He also was also a reason why we know (sometimes) what we’re eating. Read more…

Birth of the “Grammy moment”

Ken Ehrlich has his last Grammy telecast Sunday, after 40 splendid years.
Before that, let’s flash back to a key bit. It was “the big one,” Ehrlich wrote, “the one that is generally credited with starting the phrase ‘Grammy moment.'”
That phrase isn’t just hype, you know. It reflects decades of innovative mash-ups, from Elton and Eminem to this year (8-11 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26), with epic numbers built around one song from Lil Nas X and another — ranging from singer Camila Cabell to rapper Common and dancer Misty Copeland (shown here) — built around a song from the “Fame” movie. Read more…

A hostless night (alas) begins

Let’s make this clear again — a no-host awards show is an awful idea
.Music shows can get away with it sometimes; the Oscars did because they had a musical start. But mostly, it’s a dreary notion … as proven by the Emmys, most of the Oscares and more.
These shows soon deteriorate into droning speeches, thanking agents and such. With rare exceptions — one at tonight’s Screen Actors Guild was Alex Borstein (shown here in her “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” role) — this becomes dull; it needs a clever host to spark things. Read more…

Hillary Clinton: “Vote for someone who will win”

PASADENA, Cal. – As Hillary Clinton prepares for a film-festival surge, she has a thought about the Democratic primaries:
Choose someone who will win in November.
“Vote for the person who is most likely to win,” she said this morning. “And not just the popular vote.
”That last part brought a laugh from the people who were questioning her, the Television Critics Association. Clinton won the popular vote by three million voters … but lost to Donald Trump in the electoral vote. Read more…

It’s nature (and nature filmmaking) at its best

PASADENA, Cal.  – You can say what you want about the British.
You can mock their food, their politics, their odd insistence that “football” is a game in which no one catches, tackles or scores
.But let’s agree on this: These people make good dramas, smart mysteries and (shown here) superb nature films.
At the current Television Critics Association sessions, we’ve seen proof of that. One streaming service (Acorn) ranges from the steely drama of “Blood” to the giddy mysteries of “Agatha Raisin.” Another (Britbox) ranges from the sharp “Vera” mysteries to Martin Freeman’s complex “Confession.”
But we’ve also seen more proof of just how good the BBC Natural History Unit is. Read more…

Showtime has shameless, homeless, dreadful plans

PASADENA, Cal. – “Shameless” is the latest TV series to know its endgame
.Showtime announced today that the series (shown here) will be back this summer for an 11th and final season.
That follows another Showtime series ending its run. On Feb. 9, “Homeland” starts its eighth and last season with a characteristically tough hour: Carrie (Claire Danes), back from imprisonment and torture, is plunged into a new mission, amid doubts about her memories and sanity.
Her show ends its run on April 28 … the same night that a once-dead show returns to life. Read more…

North America has its TV moment … eventually

PASADENA, Cal. – As North America gets ready for its close-up, it has bad and good news. Both involve the BBC unit that makes lush nature films:
– The bad news: The continent will no longer provide the opening of “Seven Worlds, One Planet” (shown here), which debuts Saturday (Jan. 18) on four cable channels. It series had planned to open with North America, but now switched to Australia, due to its current wildfire crisis
.– And the good: In 2024 – yes, four years from now – it will be part of an epic series. Paul Telegdy, chairman of NBC (which will share it with BBC) promised “an amazing piece of entertainment.” Read more…

Impeachment mini-series? Not right away

One pre-election controversy has faded quietly
.There probably won’t be a Clinton-impeachment mini-series on FX this fall, network chief John Landgraf told the Television Critics Association today. He said it just won’t be ready on time.
Last summer, Landgraf said the mini-series was set for September of 2020, focusing on the effort to impeach Bill Clinton. That brought instant complaints about the timing, just before the election.
That’s now a moot point, Landgraf said. Murphy (shown here) – “probably the busiest person in show business” – is directing “The Prom.” Based on the Broadway musical about commotion when an Indiana girl wants to bring her girlfriend to the prom, it stars Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, James Corden and more. Read more…

“Ackley” bridges gaps and stirs emotion

For two seasons, this has been an intriguing duo – two teens who have everything in common and somehow, nothing in common.
They are friends on “Ackley Bridge,” a series that – as its third season starts streaming Monday (Jan. 13) – is about to change profoundly.
Missy Booth and Nasreen Paracha (shown here) were born on the same day, in the same hospital. They’ve grown up together, in a town where jobs are scarce and expectations are low. We often see them on an abandoned couch, surveying a world they (and others) don’t really understand. Read more…

Golden Globes: The fun returns

As the Golden Globes were wrapping up … as viewers were pondering why they’d never heard of the winners before, there was one redeeming thought.
In a way, we were all winners. This one was fun.
The Globes ceremony has always been looser than the others; hey, it serves alcohol.But there’s something more: It has stuck to the notion of having a host.
Lately, we’ve had hostless Oscars (twice) and Emmys. But the Globes had Rickey Gervais (shown here) for the fifth time. He didn’t eat up that much time, but he crackled some good lines that poked at Hollywood. Read more…