News and Quick Comments

Picard ends a 35-year mission … maybe

By now, Patrick Stewart knows this “Star Trek” thing is more than a brief blip in his life.
It’s been, he said, “35 years since I first put on the captain’s uniform …. The world has changed and I have changed too.”
Or not. As “Star Trek: Picard” (shown here with Stewart and LeVar Burton) begins what it calls its final season (Thursdays on Paramount+, starting Feb. 16), he’s remained a potent performer of British classics. Read more…

Super Sunday was stuffed (overstuffed?) with stars

This Super Bowl will forever be remembered as The Night of a Kajillion (or so) Stars.
Not on the field (although there were some there, too), but in the commercials — including John Travolta, shown here.
In the past, many of the best Super Bowl commercials have been star-free. They had real horses or fake frogs or whatever. But this year, no one wanted to risk that. Read more…

New York poaches a superstar

Los Angeles is used to the arrival of new superstars, ready to dazzle.
That happens in sports, mostly – Kareem, Magic, LeBron, Gretzky, Beckham, etc. But it also happened in the classical-music world: In 2007, Gustavo Dudamel (shown here), 26, was designated as the incoming music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Jason Schwartzman, the actor-director-producer, once recalled that debut concert. “It was so exciting and exilarating,” he said. “The second he began, there was such a contagious feeling in the room.”
Now that excitement will cross the continent. It was announced this week that Dudamel will move to the New York Philharmonic, beginning in 2026. Read more…

His family tree is filled with epic drama

Joe Manganiello’s fictional world has been filled with epic adventures. He’s played superheroes and spent years (in “True Blood”) as a werewolf, surrounded by vampires.
But his familiy’s real-life stories can almost match that. They include a heroic great-grandmother.
“If you’re Armenian, you’re descended from some form of survivor,” Manganiello (shown here) told the Television Critics Association. “So I just heard all these stories growing up.”
Then he linked with “Finding Your Roots,” to learn the specifics. The results – along with those of former football star Tony Gonzalez – will be shown at 8 p.m. Tuesday (Feb. 7) on PBS, before the State of the Union address in most places and after it on the West Coast. Read more…

Sorry, Fido: These wild dogs have more skills

Sure, Fido and friends can savor their comfy lives.
They fetch balls, wiggle tales and are rewarded handsomely.
But compared to their untamed brethren (shown here), those are minor accomplishments. That becomes clear in “Dogs ion the Wild,” a three-part “Nature” series that starts at 8 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 8) on PBS.
“They’re incredibly intelligent,” producer Jo Shinner told the Television Critics Association. “They’re incredibly resilient, adaptable. They’re on all continents throughout the world, except for Antarctica. They manage to sustain in ridiculous conditions.”
Her series looks at all 37 canine species, finding adaptations to those conditions. Read more…

Good news for some shows, limbo for others

As the Fox network nears its Super Bowl spotlight, there’s good and bad news about its future:
— The good: “The Cleaning Lady” (shown here with Elodie Yung) has been renewed for a third season. That could have gone either way; the show has had modest ratings and a serialized story that reached some conclusions as the second season ended.
— Also good: Fox has expanded its agreement to put all of its scripted and reality shows on Hulu, the day after they air.
— And the bad: The spot after the Super Bowl on Feb. 12 – a perfect place to launch a new drama or showcase a fairly new one – will instead go to “Next Level Chef.” Read more…

It’s a life of TV fame and (sometimes) soup-can meals

(This is mainly for people in the Lansing, Mich., area, but should be of interest to others, especially “Shameless” fans. Jim Hoffmaster, who did 69 episodes of that show, is the subject of a fascinating documentary. It’s returning to Lansing for a week at the Studio C theater, beginning at 6:15 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27. With that in mind, I’m repeating this story, from a few months ago.)
Here are some moments in the life of a successful TV actor. Jim Hoffmaster (shown here) was:
— Visiting his alma mater, Durand (Mich.) High School, when a young woman rushed in, grinning. She was meeting the guy who plays Kermit on “Shameless” – “my favorite character on my favorite show.”
— At a street fair in Lansing,, doing one of his silly dances; the crowd cheered. “That’s as close as I’ve ever been to being mobbed,” he said later, by phone.
— And back home in Los Angeles, in a crowded studio apartment. No, he doesn’t have elegant dinner parties there. In fact, he never has guests … and he sometimes eats soup straight from the can. Read more…

Good news: quietly clever “Bob” has been renewed

One of TV’s best shows has just been renewed for next season.
And no, it’s not one that grabs awards or lands on 10-best lists. It’s “Bob (Hearts) Abishola,” the quiet gem that airs at 8:30 p.m. Mondays on CBS.
The network had already renewed its other comedies, two good ones (“Young Sheldon” and “Ghosts”) and “The Neighborhood.” Now it adds “Bob,” a quiet success. In its fourth season, it’s been averaging six million viewers, sometimes sliping into the top 10. Read more…

Here’s the opposite of the dim/hairy news

Back in 1975, newsman Charles Kuralt chastised TV stations for “hiring hair, not brains.”
A typical anchorman, he said, has great hair and an empty mind. He “wouldn’t know a news story if it jumped up and mussed his coiffure.”
And now – a mere 48 years later – we have the exact opposite. Geoff Bennett – half of the new “PBS NewsHour” anchor team with Amna
Nawaz (they’re shown here) – has no hair and a sharp, journalistic brain. Read more…