Stories

After 40 years (throat permitting), Bon Jovi rocks on

Like a good father should, John Bongiovi Sr. took his son to a some music teachers.
One was at the school, one was private, both said the same: The kid was not a singer.
Except now he is one. As Jon Bon Jovi (shown here), he’s one of the top-selling rock frontmen. His band has soared beyond 100 million records; five of his Grammy nominations (including his one win) are for vocals.
“I pride myself on having been a true vocalist,” he said. “I’ve sung with Pavrotti. I know how to sing; I’ve studied the craft for 40 years.”
That adds to the poignancy of a four-part documentary that debuts Friday (April 26) on Hulu and Disney+. Alongside a history of his band, it focuses on Bon Jovi struggling with vocal issues – trying other steps and then resorting to surgery. Read more…

TV is ready for Earth’s big day

The Earth, it seems, is a really large place. Maybe not compared to Jupiter or the sun, but compared to you, me and a chihuahua.
And Earth Day is a really big subject for TV. There will be a flurry of specials that day (Monday, April 22) and the weekend before it, starting Wednesday(April 17) with Netflix’s “Our Living World” (shown here). Read more…

The octopus becomes an Earth Day star

It’s easy to fall for something that’s cute, cuddly and koala-like. An octopus might be a bigger challenge.
Almost 2,000 years ago, Pliny, a Roman commander/philosopher. said: “No animal is more savage.” As recently as 20 years ago, writer Sy Montgomery told the Television Critics Association, people “thought: ‘Aren’t they monsters? Aren’t they gross?’”
They do look odd, but they also have remarkable skills and personalities And now, as researcher Christine Huffard put it: “Octopuses are having a moment.”
There was the fictional Hank in “Finding Dory” and real-life creatures in PBS’ “Octopus: Making Contact” (2019) and the Oscar-winning “My Octopus Teacher” (2020). Next is an Earth Day documentary mini-series from James Cameron. Read more…

“Franklin”: a charm offensive to save a revolution

Ben Franklin kept exceeding limitations.
That was true involving education. “He didn’t go to school past 12 years old,” said Michael Douglas, who plays him (shown here) in a mini-series that starts Friday on Apple TV+. So everything is sort of self-learned.
And it was true involving age. In 1776, where “Franklin” begins, he was already 70 or (some sources say) 71. By comparison, Washington was 44 or 45, Jefferson was 33, Hamilton was 21 or 19.
That senior citizen had a crucial assignment, Douglas, 79, told the Television Critics Association: “The Continental Congress decided, ‘Well, we need Ben,’ because he was was well-known around the world, to do sort of an undercover diplomatic trip to France, to get their support.” Read more…

Elton and Bernie: lots of hits, lots of lore

Somehow, Montgomery Clift turned into Marilyn Monroe and then into Princess Diana.
And that begat the No. 1 (or maybe No. 2) single record of all time.
Bernie Taupin, Elton John’s lyricist, had lots of such stories, while discussing a top honor: They’re this year’s winners of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. ‘It’s a joy,” he told the Television Critics Association. “I’ve got the best job in the world, man.”
John (shown here in a previus concert) and Taupin seemed joyful during the ceremony, which airs at 8 p.m. Monday (April 8) on PBS. Their songs were done by stars with roots in country (Garth Brooks, Maren Morris), gospel (Jacob Lusk), rock (Metallica), Broadway (Billy Porter) and pop: Joni Mitchell, Charlie Puth, Brandi Carlile … and, for the final three songs, John himself. Read more…

Off the sidelines, “Sheldon” sets its final push

For two weeks, TV’s top comedy was on the sidelines, waiting for the basketball tournament to end.
Now “Young Sheldon” (shown here) is back – for a while. It returns April 4, has the wedding of Georgie and Mandy a week later … then moves toward its May 14 finale, with the return of Jim Parsons and Mayim Bialik as the not-young Sheldon and his wife Amy.
And that’s it … except for reruns and a Georgie-and-Mandy spin-off next season.
That may sound like there’s been a master plan, but co-creator Chuck Lorre insists he and the others have been improvising. “The whole process has been learning as we go.” Read more…

An auto passion propelled him to “Parish”

As Giancarlo Esposito talks, rich passions come pouring out.
There’s his love of acting … and people … and cars, which makes “Parish” (show here) seem ideal.
This is a bracing, six-part mini-series that starts at 10:15 p.m. Sunday (March 31) on AMC, right after the conclusion of “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live.” He plays a former getaway driver, nudged back into hiis old life to save a friend.
“I’ve lived wiith it for so very long, through many incarnations and developments,” he told the Television Critics Association. Read more…

Here’s TV’s Easter surge, March 29-31

TV networks seem to be like many of us – suddenly remembering religion twice a year.
Now the Easter rush begins. In a three-day surge, TV ranges from Easter lite (bunnies and bonnets and such) to the intensity of “The Ten Commandments” and “The Passion of the Christ.”
Here’s a round-up, from Good Friday through Easter, March 29-31. Some of the channels (ABC, History, Hallmark, Turner Classic Movies) are easy to find; others have scattered availability, via cable, digital, satellite and online.
This skips some of the regular church services, but includes the rest. All times are ET; many of the channels – TCM, UpTV, INSP and more – only send one signal, so an 8 p.m. show listed here is 5 p.m. PT. Read more…

For CW, it’s been a brisk transformation

This was a quick change, sort of like Superman in a phone booth or The Flash anywhere.
Less than two years ago, CW was the network of superheroes and such. Superman was in Smallville, Jughead was in a gang, Batgirl was in charge, The Flash was in a hurry..
And now? The network is a mash-up of cops, crooks and Canadians (lots of Canadians), plus golfers, wrestlers and more. It has shed most of its old shows, with a few exceptons, including “Walker” (shown here), which returns soon. It also shed its brand image.
“What is NBC’s brand?” Brad Schwartz, the CW program chief, asked the Television Critics Association. “What is CBS’ brand? What is ABC’s brand? What is Fox’s brand?” Read more…

Work/home balance? Try a coup and a birthday party

For decades, Mariana van Zeller (shown here) has reported about scary people in scary places.
“She really is the bravest person I know,” Courteney Monroe, the president of the National Geographic Channel, told the Television Critics Association.
But she still feels fear and regret. “As a working mom who travels all the time, I live with this eternal guilt of not being there at important moments,“ van Zeller said..
That peaked last summer, in an embattled desert country. The story will be on the season-finale of “Trafficked,” at 9 p.m. Wednesday (March 20) on National Geogeraphic; van Zellar gave the TCA a verbal preview. Read more…