Stories

It’s a wicked welcome-back for Broadway

Someday soon, Broadway’s endless intermission will … well, end.
Musicals — from “Hamilton” and “Hadestown” to “Chicago” and “Wicked” (shown here) – will return in September. But first, PBS will remind us what we’ve been missing.
A concert special will have Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel introduce “Wicked” tunes and sing the closing song. That’s 9 p.m. Aug. 29, 16 days before “Wicked” and three other musicals re-open.
“It’s a great way to welcome back audiences,” conductor Luke Frazier said. And to let performers finally emerge from their apartments. Read more…

Away from slick stardom: another wrestling world

For many TV viewers, pro wrestling is slick and sleek and corporate.
In shiny arenas, sweaty millionaires (current or future) collide for the cameras. It’s all quite impressive – but there’s another world out there.
That’s “when you’re on these independent circuits and you’re not on broadcast television,’ said actor Stephen Amell (shown here). It’s the world of “Heels,” his show at 9 p.m. Sundays (rerunning almost daily) on Starz.
Such wrestling circuits fill the South and beyond, offering temporary stardom to people who also have day jobs. Michael Waldron, the series creator, recalls talking to a guy who used to wrestle for one. “He said for 15 minutes a week, they got to be a superhero.” Read more…

Discovery+ is (sometimes) minus clothes

In the mega-billion-dollar world of streaming networks, people still have basic questions:
What is Discovery+, anyway? How did it become important? And what does it have that’s special?
One partial answer to that last question is … well, nudity.
At a virtual session with the Television Critics Association, programming executive Lisa Holme discussed “putting the + in Discovery+.” The session focused on six shows; by coincidence, perhaps, half of them had something to do with nudity: Read more…

It’s a “Perfect” mini-series team

This is a blend that works neatly:
Start with two Australians – novelist Liane Moriarty and actress-producer Nicole Kidman …. Have David E. Kelley write a mini-series from a Moriarty novel … Then load up on other stars.
That worked for HBO’s “Big Little Lies.” In the first of its two seasons, “Lies” won the best-miniseries Emmy, plus seven others, including ones for Kidman and two of her co-stars.
And now the combination returns with Hulu’s “Nine Perfect Strangers” (shown here), starting Wednesday (Aug. 18). Read more…

Ralph: presidential power in a witchly world

When pre-med student Sheryl Lee Ralph reached college, she got a quick lesson in being “the other.”
That was 1972, the first year Rutgers admitted women. There were only 450 of them – about one-percent of the enrollment; it was good preparation for her acting career.
“There was no room for me,” Ralph (shown here) – who has a key guest role in the season’s final two episodes of “Motherland: Fort Salem” – said of early auditions. “People were not open to open-casting back then.” Read more…

After a looong pause, PBS ripples with music and dance

Right now, the arts world is ready to end one of the longest intermissions ever.
Broadway is rehearsing, orchestras are retooling, bands and ballerinas are reviving. They reflect “the resiliency of the performing arts,” PBS president Paula Kerger told the Television Critics Association.
Now her network will spotlight that. Even before its fall season starts, PBS has specials celebrating orchestra (Aug. 27), Broadway (Aug. 29), an opera conductor (Sept. 3) and ballet (Sept. 17).
There’s more in the fall, including a John Williams (shown here) premiere, a Martin Scorsese film and a triple-diva concert that reflects the resiliency Kerger was discussing. Read more…

No reservation about it: Here’s a fun show

Growing up 8,000 miles apart, these two men emerged with similar tales and memories.
Sterlin Harjo is from small-town Oklahoma, with Seminole and Muscogee roots; Taika Waititi is from New Zealand, with Maori roots. They could easily swap boyhood adventures.
“The stories were never sad or depressing,” Harjo said, in a virtual session with the Television Critics Association. And these fun accounts “are not the stories that ever get told about native people.”
At least, not until now. “Reservation Dogs” (shown here), starting Monday on the FX hub of Hulu, offers a sly wit. Read more…

Reluctant hero? Not in Courtney’s superworld

Science-fiction fans are used to the reluctant superhero, someone longing for an ordinary life.
Then there’s the opposite. Courtney Whitmore transforms into Stargirl – eagerly.
“She is so looking for villains, looking for trouble, even (when) there is none,” said Brec Bassinger (shown here), the star of “Stargirl,” which starts its second season Tuesday (Aug. 10) on CW. “She just loves being a superhero.”
To Geoff Johns, who created the character and produces the show, that’s logical. “If you’ve got superpowers, I would think that you’d really enjoy it and you’d leap into things,” he said. At least, that’s the way he might approach it … and, more importantly, the way his late sister would. Read more…

TV’s mega-universe grows, fills a void

The zillion-channel TV universe is even larger than most people realize.
Yes, there are the broadcast networks … and cable … and streaming. But there’s also a labyrinth of digital channels. They deliver old shows, old movies and – occasionally – something new.
Meet “Johnson” (shown here), a new drama (with some comedy) on the Bounce digital channel. “I saw a void,” Deji LaRay, the creator and one of the stars, said in a video conference. Read more…

Travel the world? Hide away? Choices abound

So maybe you’re thinking about a change in lifestyle, possibly something drastic.
Not to worry. In addition two a “Baby Jessica” story (shown here), a brief CNN series – 9-10 p.m. ET on the next two Saturdays – offers opposite choices:
1) Sell the house and get an RV. Go everywhere; do everything. Just remember to write online reviews.
2) Take the opposite approach; go nowhere, do nothing. Get a bunker, suitable for any catastrophe.
3) Or acquire a new skill; underwater archaeology would be fine. Read more…