Archive for the ‘Television’ Category

When We Rise: The San Francisco Premiere

As a volunteer with GLAAD, I received an invitation to attend the February 20th premiere of When We Rise, Dustin Lance Black’s new ABC miniseries chronicling the LGBTQ rights movement, focusing on the lives of several San Francisco activists. I invited a friend as my plus one and submitted my RSVP, although I wasn’t sure about an 8 hour marathon or the “first come first served” seating. Then my friend got sick, and the day arrived with heavy rain and 60 mph winds expected by the evening. Still, I braved the elements alone and headed to the Castro Theatre.

When I arrived in the Castro at 1pm, the doors to the cinema had just opened. At first I got into the wrong line, where the production folks were checking in. One of the young actors turned around and was very helpful pointing out the right line. I wasn’t sure any of the cast would be there, so this was a happy omen. My line went down the block and just around the corner of 18th Street. After I got there, many more folks arrived behind me. A friendly young woman with an ABC7 cap came by to explain what to expect. She assured us we’d all get in at that point in the line. We’d be checked in and given wristbands, which would allow us to come and go during the breaks. Everyone attending would also get a ticket for a free drink and a bag of popcorn.

I chatted with the guys around me, and there was some confusion about how much of the miniseries would be shown. Dustin Lance Black tweeted that we’d watch the whole 8 hours, but the numbering of the episodes is confusing. IMDb says there are 8 episodes, Wikipedia says 7 parts, but it’s being shown on 4 nights. Anyway, the ABC7 woman assured us we’d be seeing the entire miniseries, in four segments, with two 15 minute breaks and one 2 hour dinner break. The program would start at 2pm and end around 11:30pm.

There were still plenty of seats on the ground floor when I got in, but I headed to the balcony for a front row seat above. You don’t get a crick in your neck looking up at the screen there. Since we’d be spending a lot of time together, I introduced myself to several of the folks in my section. The young guy behind me worked as an extra in several scenes, so it was fun to hear to his stories.

Dustin Lance Black went up onstage with a microphone to introduce the first segment, saying that many of the activists depicted in the series were in the audience. He also pointed out that without the commercials, each segment was shorter than two hours. Zeke Stokes of GLAAD also spoke, and later in the day Roma Guy, Cecilia Chung, and Cleve Jones got up onstage to address the audience. We also had a song performed by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.

During the screening, the audience cheered a lot—when familiar names were said, when well-known landmarks were shown, and when serious truths were spoken. The SF Chronicle says we booed the villains, but I only heard hissing.

Because When We Rise doesn’t air on ABC until next week (February 27th, then March 1st-3rd), I can’t share much about it yet. I never give plot spoilers anyway. I will say that the lesser-known young actors are terrific. These include Jonathan Majors, Adam DiMarco, Rafael De La Fuente, Fiona Dourif, Nick Eversman, Kevin McHale (familiar from Glee) and so many more. Austin P. McKenzie as the younger Cleve Jones had my heart from his first moments onscreen. I also really connected emotionally with Emily Skeggs as the younger Roma Guy. This kind of connection is crucial if the viewer is going to stick with these characters through a miniseries. I can’t count the number of shows I’ve seen where I appreciated the quality but didn’t care enough about any one character to keep watching.

During our first break, I met Emily Skeggs. It’s great to watch someone onscreen for the first time (whether it’s their first time or just yours), and then be able to tell them right away how much their performance has touched you. This is one of the reasons Twitter is so addictive, but doing it in person is so much more satisfying. I’m certain that many more viewers like me will be looking up these young actors and following them on social media. I was already doing that at the dinner break.

A tip for those folks looking at the cast lists online—at this point, the IMDb page is incomplete. Kevin McHale and Rafael de la Fuente, for example, are not yet listed. Wikipedia includes them and several other actors not listed on IMDb, but it’s not complete either.

At the end of the screening, all the folks involved with the production went up onstage. I left the balcony and came down to the front in time to video a bit of the song Oh Happy Day, and then it was done. I said hello to Dustin Lance Black and Tom Daley, then met Austin P. McKenzie and Kevin McHale (such a charmer, that one!).

I came out of the theatre to find that the rain had stopped, but the wind was blowing hard. I rode the bus home with a couple of fellow viewers, and we talked about our impressions of the miniseries. I got home tired but still wired from the experience.

I’m looking forward to watching When We Rise again next week. It will be interesting to compare the difference seeing it on a small screen, without an audience, and with the ad breaks.

This miniseries will hopefully inspire viewers to read more about the activists and the history of this struggle for equality, understanding, and respect. There’s so much more to learn. The book When We Rise: My Life in the Movement by Cleve Jones is a good place to start.

Thank you to Dustin Lance Black and everyone involved for making this miniseries. Thank you to GLAAD and ABC for the privilege of attending this amazing event.

http://www.sfchronicle.com/tv/article/LGBT-community-sees-its-story-told-in-When-We-10948675.php

https://ripplenews.com/watch/san-francisco/when-we-rise-shows-emotional-powerful-san-francisco-lgbt-movement-1s7r0o5h (This is a video of the premiere from local ABC7 news.)

http://www.sfchronicle.com/tv/article/When-We-Rise-a-story-of-past-struggle-and-a-10954771.php

Tom Daley’s video of the premiere:

Happy Birthday, Chad Lowe

A week before Thanksgiving I had to go to the emergency room. The nurse practitioner resembled Chad Lowe, bringing back memories of  Life Goes On and the encounter I had with Lowe here in San Francisco. Once I felt better, I checked IMDb to see what Lowe has been doing lately, and now I follow him on twitter and Instagram. Since January 15th is his birthday, I’m sharing some wallpapers of his many roles—and looks—through the years.

The 80s

I remember watching Chad Lowe first in April Morning (1988), which aired a few days before I moved to England. It’s a TV movie about the first day of the American Revolutionary War. I was already a Rob Lowe fan, so I was curious about younger brother Chad. I remember being impressed by his performance. I wish I’d seen more of his early work, because some of it is now impossible to find.

1984-1989

The roles above are from Flight 90: Disaster on the Potomac, Silence of the Heart, Spencer, There Must Be A Pony, Apprentice to Murder, April Morning, True Blood, the 1989 Oscar broadcast, and Highway to Hell. This last movie was released in the early 90s, but according to IMDb it was filmed in 1989. The watermarks are a necessary evil.

The 90s

Chad Lowe joined the cast of Life Goes On (1989-93) during the 3rd season as a love interest for teenage daughter Becca (Kellie Martin). I watched the series off and on during its four seasons, busy those years with moving to San Francisco and doing photography for a local band. I didn’t see all of Chad Lowe’s episodes when they first aired, but the ones I did see made a lasting impression. He played Jesse McKenna, a teen whose hook up with a college girl at a frat party led to HIV. When he transferred to Becca’s school, he was cool, mysterious, tortured, and irresistible. Becca fell for him, then learned that they could never truly be together. Their relationship struggle was interwoven with Jesse’s fight for survival and acceptance. The series didn’t shy away from the physical and emotional effects of AIDS. It was bravely depicted, beautifully written, and devastating to watch. Chad Lowe gave one of the best performances of his career. He was recognized for it with a well-deserved Emmy. I spent a recent weekend binge-watching all the Jesse/Becca episodes, transferred from old degraded video tapes. I was emotionally drained by the end. It’s a sin these two seasons are not available on DVD or streaming, apparently because of legal issues over the music used in the soundtrack.

1990-1999

The roles above are: Nobody’s Perfect, Life Goes On, Candles in the Dark, Snowy River: The McGregor Saga, Floating, In The Presence of Mine Enemies, Quiet Days in Hollywood, The Hunger, Melrose Place, Touched by an Angel, ER, and Popular.

2000-2005

Chad Lowe played a lot of dark characters during the next decade of his career. I was grateful to have Take Me Home: The John Denver Story to lighten my mood while assembling this set.

2000-2005

The roles above: Now and Again, Take Me Home: The John Denver Story, Acceptable Risk, Law & Order: SVU, Unfaithful, Hack, CSI Miami, Without a Trace, Medium, and Fielder’s Choice.

2007-2016

Finally, arriving at the present!

2007-2016

The roles above: 24, Bones, Ghost Whisperer, Drop Dead Diva, Pretty Little Liars, California Scheming, Entourage, Rizzoli and Isles, and finally, Comedy Central’s Roast of Rob Lowe.

So, happy birthday to Chad Lowe, with my thanks for all the years of entertainment (and good cries). I hope there are many more to come!

I also hope fellow fans will leave a comment below—be sure to share your favorite role!

Chad Lowe as Spencer (1985)

Spencer pilot (1985)

Notes

A special thanks to my friend Amy for sharing the hard-to-find movies with me.

There are quite a few roles not shown here, but every year with an acting credit on Chad Lowe’s IMDb page is represented. I only used my sharpest images. YouTube has Dare To Love, Fighting for My Daughter, and Captive (at the moment) but they’re in poor shape. Several titles that I own are the same (example below); I had to use publicity shots for Life Goes On and Silence of the Heart. Some movies didn’t arrive in time to use here. Some I just couldn’t locate. The hardest-to-find category include these: the after-school specials, Red Betsy, So Proudly We Hail, Siringo, The Others, Target Earth, Driven, and Suicide the Comedy. I’m listing them here in case other Lowe fans can help me locate them.

As Kippie Petworth (such a great name!) in An Inconvenient Woman (1991)

I’ve focused here on his acting, but Lowe is also a director. I’m looking forward to seeing more of his work behind the camera.

Life in Pieces episode

Life in Pieces episode “Musical Motel Property Bingo” with guest star Andy Richter

The credits on IMDb overall seem pretty accurate, although he’s not in some of the season three episodes listed for Life Goes On.

I have to give a bemused shout-out to the girl at Lowe’s Wikipedia page who, despite various efforts to correct her, keeps “fixing” his TV credits.  All but two of them are so wrong they’re inspired. The edit history reveals that they’ve been far worse. I saved the December version:

Chad Lowe's wacky TV Credits from Wikipedia (circa December 2016)

Chad Lowe’s inaccurate TV Credits on Wikipedia (from December 2016). Only the first and last credits are correct.

I’m Back!

After a 3+ year break, I’ve decided to start posting again.

Why?

The same reason I started this blog in 2010. Instead of driving friends crazy with my obsessions, I can share them here and find other fans with the same interests. Even when I’m the only one here, the blog keeps me open and searching for new things to post.

Why did I stop?

When I first began this site, I was doing lots of writing, which doesn’t come easy. I got better at it, but it’s less effort to play in Photoshop—enhancing screen captures, making memes, restoring old photos, etc. Unfortunately, when you share those online, you end up providing free content for Pinterest and Tumblr, not to mention the folks who think “google search” is some kind of a public domain free-for-all. (“I didn’t steal your photo. I got it on google!”) I also learned to edit videos, which sucked up all my free time. Finally, I became too singularly focused on one actor who already had websites devoted to him, so he didn’t need another one.

And now?

I’m trying to keep the focus wide. No more singular obsessions! (Until the next one.) I also want to focus more on local entertainment. I’ve missed some great stuff here in San Francisco, just because I was too busy moaning about where I’m not. The plan is to write more, Photoshop less, and watermark everything!

What’s new?

These days, I’m watching four different foreign soaps: EastEnders from the UK, Neighbours and Home and Away from Australia, and Shortland Street from New Zealand. That’s 19 episodes each week, but thankfully they’re only 20-30 minutes long. I love A Place To Call Home, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Janet King, Please Like Me, and Jack Irish (all Australian TV series). I’m also watching Poldark, Victoria, Outlander, Quarry, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Chicago Med, Code Black, Lucifer, and Mercy Street.

I’ve added some new actors to my “favorites watch list,” and they include Marta Dusseldorp, Anna McGahan, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Tveit, Jesse Lee Soffer, Christian Kane, Michael Fassbender, George MacKay, Ben Schnetzer, Nick Robinson, Alden Ehrenreich, and Matthew James Thomas.

I recently got a 7″ Kindle Fire, so that’s been a small revolution. Before now I resisted touch screens, tablets, and electronic readers. I’ve played a few games on the Kindle, watched a few videos, sampled all the features, and hey, I’m even reading books.

So, I’m finding my way around the blog again, trying to learn all the changes that WordPress has made to the platform since 2013. Let’s see how this goes.

One more thing.

If you’re a subscriber and you’ve forgotten why you’re getting this in your inbox, well, who can blame you?! If what entertains me now no longer entertains you, don’t feel bad about unsubscribing. Otherwise, thanks for sticking around, and be sure to let me know what’s new with you. We have a lot of catching up to do!

TV Star Parade

A friend sent me a vintage fan magazine from July, 1963.   She knows me so well!  Every page is a treat, even the back pages, with ads for everything from toasters to suppositories.  I’m going to be sharing some of my favorite articles and ads.

Cover July 1963

The cover features Connie Stevens and Donna Douglas

James Drury

This issue doesn’t have any articles about my current favorite, Robert Fuller, but western actor James Drury gets a page.

Max Baer drinks eggnog

This photo of Max Baer drinking eggnog (left) freaks me out.

Star Photo Ad

Lists of stars from the past always fascinate me.  I also love how all the photos are FREE, but be sure to include 10 cents for each one, to cover mailing and handling costs!  I looked it up, and postage per ounce in 1963 was 5 cents.  That means someone who ordered 25 prints was paying enough to ship over three pounds.  Either the photos were really big, really heavy, or not very free after all.  And yet, I wish I could still order some now.

More to come!

My Big Hollywood Career

When I first began this blog, I wrote about being an extra for a location shoot here in San Francisco. It was for the TV series Party of Five. I was in London when “my” episode was broadcast, and the later seasons of the series have not yet been released on DVD. It’s taken fifteen years, but today I finally got to see my big moment onscreen. It’s season four, episode 6: Immediate Family, which aired on October 29, 1997. I walked behind Julia (Neve Campbell) and Griffin (Jeremy London) as they strolled through Alamo Square. Here’s the scene, followed by a slow motion clip of my walk through. I only know it’s me because of the hat I was wearing. Such exciting stuff!

Here’s the photo I took of my friend and Jeremy London at the Legion of Honor the day before, where we watched another scene being filmed. That night in Alamo Square, once we were done filming, we got London to autograph her copy of the photo. We didn’t want to bother him too much, so mine isn’t signed.

Jeremy London, 1997

So, my Hollywood career ended almost as soon as it began, with a couple of seconds of actual screen time in a dimly lit park on a chilly San Francisco night.  It was fun while it lasted.

A Laramie Christmas

I had to wait to share this, one of my best Christmas gifts this year.  My friend was making them for others, so I didn’t want to spoil their surprise.  It’s a Laramie Christmas ornament.  I like it so much, I’m not going to be putting it away in storage for the year.  Poor Jonesy had to be left out to squeeze me in, but I love that my stocking is hanging next to Jess’s stocking!

Laramie Christmas ornament

For those who haven’t been paying attention, Laramie (1959-63) is a television western that I love.

My Year End Wrap Up 2012

Another year has slipped away, and here I sit, reflecting back on what entertained me in 2012.  I always start my wrap up by going back to the beginning of the year, to see how my interests have changed.  I began the year dividing my time between British stuff and vintage television shows…and that’s exactly where I find myself now.  Only the faces have changed!

Best Books:  Might as well get the embarrassment out of the way first.  Normally I read a couple of books a week, but I went 8 months out of the last 12 without finishing a single book!  Oh, the shame.  I could blame my eyes, since I need new glasses, but the real truth is that I spend too much time online.  Making videos has also sucked up my reading time, but that’s for another category.  Of the small selection of books read this year, I really enjoyed Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt, Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth, and Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim.  (More about Arngrim’s book in an upcoming post.)  The biggest disappointment was Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James.

Best Television:  My television is usually always tuned to either Me-TV or CBS, except on Sunday night, when I watch Masterpiece on PBS.  I still enjoy The Big Bang Theory, but I do think it’s losing something from having too many separate storylines, with the characters spending less time gathered in the same living room.  More characters means less screen time for favorites Sheldon and Raj.  I discovered Leverage in reruns just as the show got cancelled, but at least I have five seasons to explore further.  Since September, I’ve been enjoying reruns of Emergency! on Me-TV.  Another season of Sherlock brought more delight, as well as more Inspector Lewis.  Thanks to a friend, I’m now back to enjoying EastEnders, the British serial drama, and already my life wouldn’t be complete without weekly visits to Albert Square.   This year’s favorite program was Call the Midwife, featuring new favorite Miranda Hart as the wonderful Chummy.  I can’t wait for more of this series!

Best Twitter:   I’m very picky about twitter.  Too much shameless self-promotion?  Unfollow.   Too many retweets?  Unfollow.   Too many conversations that should be private?  Unfollow.  No sense of humor?  I shouldn’t have been following in the first place!  I enjoy humor, whimsy,  and folks who don’t take themselves too seriously.   The most consistently entertaining tweets this year have come from Josh Groban.  I’ve also enjoyed following Russell Tovey.  I can count on a friend to share the best of Demetri Martin and The Onion, so I guess they count, too!

Best Theatre:  Oops.  Didn’t see any.  Never mind.

Best Movies:   I had good luck with the movies I saw in the cinema this year.  Mind you, I still haven’t seen three of the four films I was most looking forward to in 2012, so they will have to wait until 2013!  The Avengers was terrific, and I also enjoyed Life of PiThe Dark Knight Rises wasn’t a favorite, but Tom Conti and Joseph Gordon-Levitt made it worthwhile for me.   I saw my first 3D movie, John Carter, but I’m not a fan of the technology.  It was a great year for silents: Napoleon was stunning, and I also saw three films at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, with The Canadian (1926) making the deepest impression.   Shah Rukh Khan’s Jab Tak Hai Jaan had an entertaining beginning and middle, but I was disappointed by the third act.  The best new film I saw in 2012 was Argo.

Best DVDs:  I spent six months of this year with Wagon Train at the top of my Netflix queue.  They never sent me any on the discs, and my queue always said “short wait.”  I could have bought the DVDs for the money I spent on my Netflix plan, especially since I wasn’t watching the discs they sent me instead.  I cancelled my account.   This means I can’t go look at my history for this year to review, but this an easy category.  The best DVDs of my year have been the classic television western Laramie, particularly seasons one and two.  When I’m not watching the episodes again and again, I’m making tribute videos and posting them on YouTube.  I now have more YouTube followers than blog followers!   Which leads me to a new category…

Best Time-Sucker-Upper:  Call it a hobby, a passion, an obsession, a skill or an art.  But this year I started making videos, and now I can’t stop.  I’d been making slideshows using still images at animoto.com, and this summer I tried using their template program for short video clips.  It was okay, but I didn’t like their wide border which wasted space, so it forced me to try Windows Movie Maker.  I had no idea it would be so much fun!  My Laramie tribute videos aren’t very interesting to people who aren’t fans of the series, but I’m proud of my channel and grateful for all my followers.

Best Music:  Mostly I’ve listened to older stuff this year.  When Davy Jones died, I started listening to lots of the Monkees.  I love Gaelic Storm’s album How Are We Getting Home? (2004), discovered in a stack of my own CDs that I never got around to hearing.  I’m definitely going to listen to more of this group in 2013.  I’ve also been enjoying lots of Kate Rusby.  One of my favorite new old songs is “Can’t Turn My Heart Away” by Art Garfunkel.  I’m still enjoying The Book of Mormon Broadway soundtrack, but I learned the hard way not to listen to it in public.  Even with earphones, you look like a nutter snickering at the lyrics.

Best Music Video:  My choices are never conventional, but that’s what you get for taking musical advice from me!   Here’s my favorite:

Never mind that it was uploaded in 2008.  It’s still the most adorable video I’ve seen on YouTube this year!  If you don’t know it, this is India’s national anthem.

Best New-To-Me Software:   Handbrake for ripping DVDs, and Google Talk for saving me a fortune on phone bills.  I chat now with friends around the world, without the complications of installing Skype, and no webcam to show everyone how hideous I look through a fisheye lens.

Entertainer of the Year:  Honorable Mention this year goes to Miranda Hart.  I discovered her in Call the Midwife, and now I’m enjoying her comedy on YouTube and her BBC series Miranda.  The winner is an easy choice.  In April, I purchased season one of Laramie on DVD, and by the end of May, I was a member of Robert Fuller’s official fan group.  While my favorite role is Jess Harper in Laramie, I’ve been enjoying Wagon Train, Emergency!, and all of Fuller’s other television shows and movies.   I’ve spent hours chatting with other fans, making tribute videos and collages, and searching ebay for vintage photos.  For so much entertainment in so many different ways, Robert Fuller is my Entertainer of the Year.  Thank you, Mr. Fuller!

Jess Harper whip blog crp

Robert Fuller in Laramie

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