Stories

Lopez rift was patched via TikTok and TV

Here’s a fresh approach to daddy-daughter problems:
He had too much alcohol and too many absences. She avoided him. “The only way these two were going to heal their relationship was on the set of their own NBC sitcom,” Debby Wolfe said.
Now that show is here. “Lopez vs. Lopez” (shown here) debuts at 8 p.m. Friday (Nov. 4) on NBC; Wolfe created it, with George and Mayan Lopez playing versions of themselves that are exaggerated – a little.
“There was a time when we didn’t speak and were estranged for about three years,” Mayan told the Television Critics Association. That split, George said, “was so painful and so much my fault.” Read more…

Jordan brought a new version of TV stardom

When Leslie Jordan first got there, Hollywood knew what a star should look like.
That was 40 years ago, when TV was dominated by Tom Selleck and Selleck types. A star would be 6-foot-4, handsome, a lades man, with a Midwestern-type voice.
And Jordan (shown here), who died Monday (Oct. 24), was the exact opposite. He was 4-foot-11, gay, with an impish charm and a pronounced Tennessee accent.
“I realized that my job was the funny guy that comes in with the zingers,” he told the Television Critics Association in 2018. Read more…

After a long break, TV’s busiest actress returns

After decades of TV movies, Kellie Martin (shown here) had a good reason to step back.
That was during the start of the pandemic, when her daughters were 13 and 4. “They had never needed me more,” she recalled. “There was so much to figure out, with online schools and everything else.”
Now, two and a half years later, she’s finally returned to acting. She has a small and dead-serious role in “An Amish Sin,” at 8 p.m. ET Saturday (Oct. 29) on Lifetime.
Her return, she said, was partly because of the story – from real-life accounts of Amish girls whose sexual abuse reports were discounted. And also because a friend asked her to. Read more…

“Hair Tales” soars with Black history

It’s a subject that’s close to most people, elusive to some.
It sometimes soars above us, sometimes not. It droops or dazzles or delights or just disappears.
We’re talking about hair, and the special role it has had in Black history, before and after the Afro-powered (shown here) ’70s. Now that’s the subject of “Hair Tales,” a six-hour series available on Hulu and (9 p.m. Saturdays) on the Oprah Winfrey Network. 
Yes, six hours on hair. There’s a lot to talk about, said producer Michaela Angela Davis. “There’s joy, there’s resilience, there’s challenge. There’s history … there’s hysteria.”

Read more…

After a l-o-o-o-n-g pause, funny docs are back

As the pandemic lingered, some TV shows rushed to get back.
Then there were shows like “Documentary Now,” the much-praised comedy. It finally returns (shown here) at 10 p.m. ET Wednesday (Oct. 19) on IFC (and then on AMC+), after almost vanishing.
“We certainly took advantage of the three-and-a-half years between seasons,” Seth Meyers told the Television Critics Association. “At this point, we were definitely the ‘Sopranos’ of IFC.”
And then some: “Sopranos” often had 15-month gaps between the end of one season and the start of another. “Documentary Now” had a 43-month gap after it third season. Read more…

Cheerful author creates grumpy, grouchy author

Alan Conway grumbles and grumps his way through the start of a new mystery mini-series. He’s an angry author, ensnared by success.
Conway is fictional, at the core of “Magpie Murder” (shown here),. which debuts at 9 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 16) on PBS – surrounded by more-traditional mysteries: “Miss Scarlet and the Duke” (8 p.m.) is light and bright, “Annika” (10 p.m.) is darker, but both follow the usual pattern of solving a crime each week.
Not “Magpie.” It spends six episodes probing two murders – one of them nowadays, the other in Conway’s novel (set in the ‘50s), which is missing its final chapter. Read more…

Remember light dramas? They’re back (a little)

Let’s call this a micro-mini-trend, a course-adjustment in the TV world:
This fall, a few shows — including “The Rookie: Feds,” shown here — are trying to do it all. They want to be funny, be serious and solve a case each week.
And yes, that used to be commonplace. Writer-producer Scott Prendergast says his show (“So Help Me Todd”) is “a bit of a throwback. My main inspiration is ‘Moonlighting’ and shows like ‘Hart to Hart’ and ‘Remington Steele’ and ‘Simon & Simon.’”
Such shows used to fill TV. Now it’s a pleasant surprise to find three new ones: Read more…

A tempest role required a Pacino-esque touch

Actors hardly ever quote Al Pacino when discussing a Lifetime movie.
Alicia Witt (shown here in a previous role) can do that. Her career has been that varied.
Her latest film, is “The Disappearance of Cari Farver,” at 8 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 8) and 6 p.m. a week later (Oct. 15) on Lifetime. It’s a true-crime tale that takes her character through some sharp twists; “I was kind of bouncing off my seat when I got to the end” of the script, she said.
Early in her career, this might have wracked her. But at 31 she did “88 Minutes” with Pacino. Read more…

A new Van Peebles lands a starmaking role

Imagine that you’re a Van Peebles – smart, charismatic, almost absurdly handsome.
Many possible careers loom, but there’s the obvious one – be a movie or TV star.
Mandela Van Peebles (shown here with his dad) went that route. “I graduated college and I tried getting a regular job,” he said. “And I just thought, ‘Wow, that was really hard!’”
So he got an irregular job, as an actor. Now he co-stars in “Reginald the Vampire,” which debuts at 10 p.m. Wednesday (Oct. 5) on Syfy, after the “Chucky” season-opener at 9. Read more…

Tubman and Douglass: Opposites sparked freedom

As Blacks fought for freedom, two people took opposite approaches.
Harriet Tubman was almost invisible. A tiny person, rarely photographed, she slipped in and out of the South as a spy, a scout and, especially, a master of the underground railroad.
Frederick Douglass (shown here) was the opposite, a man of many words and images. “He wrote so much and he spoke so much and there were so many great speeches,” filmmaker Stanley Nelson said.
Now Nelson – an Oscar-nominee and two-time Emmy-winner – has made films about both people. “Harriet Tubman: Visions of Freedom” and “Becoming Frederick Douglass” will be at 10 p.m. Tuesdays (Oct. 4 and 11, respectively) on PBS and then online. They follow 9 p.m. episodes of Henry Louis Gates’ “Making Black America” — an amiable look at clubs, institutions and traditions, continuing through Oct. 25. Read more…