PAYING ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN

If anyone tunes their TV type device during the weekday hours between 9:00 AM to around 5:00 PM local time, one will step into the video limelight that’s called Daytime Television. Most of what is available during those Monday through Friday hours appearing on local or regional outlets, rather than what one can find on many of the alphabetical named cable channels found via coax, satellite, or through internet streams, consists of mostly talk based programs. Many of these shows tends to cater to a female demographic that consist of a mix of domestic  lifestyle information, promotion of products/services, and celebrity based personalities that tend to spit out domestic information while promoting a product and/or service. Games shows and soap operas, the one time mainstay of what was aired during those daylight hours, has taken a backseat in terms of programming where the titles that currently exist come from an era when over the air broadcast ruled, and served the passing hours for the so-called housewife that was likely to tune their TV sets during the work day.

Getting back to today’s video landscape, out of the many titles that are of the talk show genre is the syndicated series “Dr. Oz” featuring Dr. Mehmet Oz that was an Oprah discovery. The good doctor was eventually awarded with his own talk program as well as a magazine title featuring the photogenic and appealing TV doc than many would wish that their own doctor (assuming that these viewers had access to a regular doctor) was like Oz.

Each week, Dr. Oz would have a number of topics discussed on his program that are medical related. Aiding with a series of fellow “experts”, along with colorful (read: amusing, rather then consisting of blotches with red, green, yellow, purple, and other shades associated with bodily functions and physical traits) illustrations that presents their purpose. (This writer, serving as a judge for the Daytime Emmys, noted that the Dr. Oz show uses props and devices that recreate such ailments as giant pimples, skin blemishes, and other bodily aspects to prove its point created with foam, vinyl, and other materials as designed by its art direction staff.)

One would assume that whatever is noted on the Dr. Oz show is helpful and correct advice that would ring true. Not necessarily so, says a recent study by a group of Canadian doctors and later published in the British Medical Journal. According to the report, these experts analyzed 479 claims and related sections of advice as presented through forty randomly selected episodes of Dr. Oz’s program, and found that over half of these were either unsupported or flatly contradicted by real medical science. These researchers found support for nearly half (46%) of the claims, while evidence contradicted these claims 15% of the time. 39% of the claims had nothing to back the fact up.

As expected, the study gave a disclaimer. “Consumers should be skeptical about any recommendations provided on television medical talk shows, as details are limited and only a third to one-half of recommendations are based on believable or somewhat believable evidence. Decisions around healthcare issues are often challenging and require much more than nonspecific recommendations based on little or no evidence.”

And Dr. Oz has been looked through by expects in the fields of study about the advice and information dispensed on his show. (Do that Google search for the specific details!) However, this program does well for the TV stations that carry the series (around 2.9 million per day on average) and the magazine  Dr. Oz The Good Life published by Hearst Corp. and release ten issues a year, is taking off circulation wise.

Does all of this mean that the advice and information of this program falls into quackery? Hardly! However, as with any advice dispensed on television or any other video source, one has to accept it for what it is. However, when it comes to medical advice, there are plenty of sources on the ‘net that one can use. Many of these sources are reliable, while some fall into questionable status. (Again, use one’s own judgment when seeking information!) Unlike those places that dispense the said information on a rather dry and perhaps boring stance, Dr. Oz’s personality is the real reason why those millions tune in each and ever week.

In spite of this report, Oz isn’t the first TV doctor that’s been looked under the microscope (pun intended?), and won’t be the last! But daytime TV for what it is is a place where those fitting within its demographic can have a good time to spend the hour of so with a virtual “BFF”. That’s how it’s always been, as long as Dr. Oz continues to be what he is; a person to have an amusing time with for an hour each weekday afternoon. That’s what makes daytime TV the place to be!

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NEWS AND REVIEWS

     Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills presents the domestic premier of Gail Louw’s BLOND POISON, a drama about of a Jewish woman who betrayed as many as 3,000 fellow Jews during the darker days of World War ll.

Salome Jens is Stella Goldschlag. As an adolescent, she lived with her family that was of the Jewish persuasion in Berlin around the time of the rise of the Nazi political party.

She and her lineage was eventually captured and tortured by the Nazi troops. When presented a chance offer to save herself and her family from the death camps, she agreed to be a ‘Greifer’ for the Gestapo to provide desired information on where fellow Jews were in hiding. She was an phenomenally successful informer and continued to assist her captors, even after when her other family members had been deported never to be seen alive again. (She was eventually given a ‘raw deal’ by her captors!) She morphed from tortured victim to cruel killer, from loving daughter to betrayer of friends, from gentle lover to depraved promiscuity. She was “awarded” the moniker ‘Blonde Poison’ by the Gestapo who revealed in her disloyalty. But what occurred took place many years before. The play opens as Stella is living alone in a humble apartment in Berlin around the time where the nation was no longer divided as “East” and “West”. She agrees to be interviewed by a esteemed journalist – her final chance for redemption – with some hesitation. What occurred those many years before gives her the chance to tell her story, although she just wasn’t a helpless victim who survived through the darkest period in 20th century humanity. She did survive and she did suffer the consequences. But can she, from her acts of betrayal and regeneration, ever become released from her past?

This solo performance by Salome Jens is a tale where she emotes through verbal storytelling through the theater method of “thinking out loud”. This means that her character doesn’t address the audience as if to state “I have a story to tell you..”, but as a person that expresses her thoughts upon a horrid episode while moving on with her life and keeping it that way. Playwright Gail Louw creates a piece based upon the times of Stella Goldschlag, an actual person that lived in Germany that was Jewish but didn’t posses any resemblance to someone atypical. (She was a blond haired, blue eyed woman that could pass herself off as Aryan!) As seen within this performance, Salome Jens performs her role as an elderly soul up in her years that keep heart to her long gone family as she speaks about the plans in her early life, such as being part of a jazz band recalling the songs of tin pan alley. In fact, she doesn’t really emote about her darker times until nearly one third of this one act play has passed. However, once she begin her saga, that is when the emotional traits really kick in. Jules Aaron directs this stage piece that packs a soft impact, meaning that it takes a while before the heart of the epic takes hold. Once it does, then that is when this play shines through–in spite of the notion that it vocalizes upon a macabre subject matter.

As to the technical side of things, Jeff G. Rack furnishes the set design of Stella’s flat, Michele Young provides the costuming, and Max Kinberg composes an original score of incidental music that sets the mood to each scene depicted.

BLOND POISON isn’t just a play that can be lumped as another retelling of the Holocaust (although full respect is given to other theater pieces that addresses this period), but it’s a narration of one woman’s chance to redeem herself to others before such tales are to be forgotten, holding the possibility of being repeated that’s not for the good of mortality.

This show is highly recommended.

     BLOND POISON, presented by Theater 40, and performs in the Reuben Corova Theater located on the campus of Beverly Hills High School, 241 South Moreno Drive (off Santa Monica Blvd.) Beverly Hills, until January 26th. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Monday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. 

     For ticket reservations or for more information, call (310) 364-0535, or via online at http://www.Theatre40.org

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The Kentwood Players begins the new year with the Oscar Wilde classic AN IDEAL HUSBAND, a play that meditates around social critique with doses of blackmail, political corruption, and carries on the articles of public and private respect set within Victorian times.

Taking place within a twenty-four hour period in the latter years of 19th century London, the story focuses upon Sir Robert Chiltern (Doug Mattingly) a well regarded man in the political circles, married to Lady Chiltern (Brenda Lock) who shares in the prestige that her spouse carries thanks to his political career and the admiration that comes with such a position. And with being a politician, he does hold a rather secret past.

While hosting a dinner party at his stately home, Sir Robert encounters a guest, Mrs. Cheverly (Collette Rutherford) who informs him that she has possession of a letter that states that he performed some underground trading in stock in the Suez Canal, just days before the British government became involved. This deal netted him a sizable amount of monetary gain. She gives Sir Robert an ultimatum. If he doesn’t agree to present a speech in the House of Commons supporting a scheme to build a canal in South America that will eventually add to Mrs. Cherverley’s wealth, she will publish the letter with the incriminating evidence that would ruin the reputation Sir Richard and Lady Chiltern have.

This places him in a bind since he has plenty to lose while Mrs. Cherverley has all to gain! To add to this mix, Sir Robert must turn to his friend Lord Goring (Elliot Cowan) for help. He manages to save the day through his canny ways and means, all in the name of loyalty, betrayal, love, honor, and wit–and plenty of it, too!

This is one of those classic theater showpieces that can be called “evergreen,” meaning that this play hailing from another period isn’t stale nor dated. In fact, it’s just as timely in this post modern world as it was in Wilde’s era those many years before (This year marks its 110th anniversary of its premier performance!) since it deals with political scandal, back stabbing, and inside trading! However, in spite of these vices, it also speaks to the noted qualities of loyalty and love–traits that have never gone out of style!  It also contains those one liners that still pack a comical punch. This piece also embraces a sobering side questioning what could occur when people shelter secrets and the fate of placing loved ones upon impossibly high places in their personal society.

In this Kentwood Players production, a rather large numbered ensemble cast is featured –a number that was rather commonplace in plays of the late 19th century. Out of the many players that are highlighted in this production, Doug Mattingly as Sir Robert Chiltern stands out. His portrayal of the man hiding a secret makes his role charming and appealing. Ditto for Brenda Lock as Lady Chiltern. Her character still stands behind him, keeping on to the notion that he is the man in the play’s title. Both of these players latch upon every element in line from their first appearance on stage to its satisfying conclusion.

As to the rest of the featured cast, as stated, there are plenty of characters that are part of this ensemble. Those players are as listed in their alphabetical order; Gail Bernardi, Harold Dershimer, Lucas Hanning, Michael Havance, Alicia Reynolds, Melodie S. Rivers, Michael Sandidge, Bruce Starrett, Hollister Starrett, Andrea Standing, and Jack Winnick. (Note; it this writer left out a few names, it’s not because they were not noteworthy to mention; it’s because space didn’t permit this same writer to list everyone, including background players. If any names were not noted within this review, then a hearty “shout out” is addressed to all performing!)

Also worth remarking for the behind the scene aspects is Drew Fitzsimmons’ set design that changes between its three acts right in front of the audience, as well as Lauren Billingsley’s costuming that shows off its period fashion style.

Directed by T. Samantha Barrios, AN IDEAL HUSBAND is ideal to take advantage of right now. It also has a long running time, clocking in at close to three hours including intermission. Then again, plays of that period ran rather lengthy, since there wasn’t concern way back when for paying baby sitters or parking attendants overtime, as well as consideration for bathroom breaks. But if playwright Oscar Wilde is in charge, then time isn’t a burden. It’s a blessing!

     AN IDEAL HUSBAND, presented by The Kentwood Players, performs at the Westchester Playhouse, 8301 Hindry Avenue (at 83rd Street), Westchester, until February 14th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. For ticket reservations or for more information, call (310) 645-5156, or on line at http://www.KentwoodPlayers.org

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SELMA (Paramount) accounts upon an episode of America’s civil rights movement of the 1960’s.

In 1965, civil rights leader Martin Luther King (David Oyelowo) takes action to secure voting rights to Negro citizens in the segregated south, organized a march to the Alabama state capital, Montgomery, in order to be heard and to encourage civil leaders in providing voting rights for all, regardless of race. King, working with his team consisting of civil rights attorney Fred Gray (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), activist and desegregationist James Bevel (Lonnie Rashid Lynn a.k.a. Common), minister Andrew Young (André Holland),  Reverend Hosea Williams (Wendell Pierce), pacifist and civil rights activist Bayard Rustin (Ruben Santiago-Hudson;)  civil rights leader James Forman (Trai Byers), Reverend James Orange (Omar J. Dorsey), head of the Selma Teachers Association Reverend Frederick Reese, (E. Roger Mitchell), civil rights chair John Lewis (Stephan James) activist Reverend Ralph Abernathy (Colman Domingo), along with Annie Lee Cooper (Oprah Winfrey), and King’s spouse Coretta Scott King (Carmen Ejogo), bands together to make their voices heard. However, he and his company holds a number of obstacles to cover from dealing with sitting Alabama governor George Wallace (Tim Roth), who was pushing a move to segregate his state, and head of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover (Dylan Baker) who kept watch over him and his activities. His biggest collaborator was President Lyndon Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) who would go on to sign the Voting Rights Act later that year, and to begin his “war on poverty” issues and concerns.

As one would suspect, this feature directed by Ava DuVernay with screenplay by Paul Webb and based upon actual facts (with enough creative license traditionally added), is very heavy in terms of drama and conflict. It does portray a darer moment of American history that occurred in the latter half of the 20th century. With such movie heaviness, it contains every element that a year end release has to offer, pushing the emotional buttons that this feature attempts to do and accomplishes. Because of the drama and conflict this title depicts, the lead players appearing tend to take a backseat. It offers a series of players that are best known as either character actors or those that made their name in small independent titles that tend to run the film festival and/or “art house” circuit. The for noted ensemble performers that appear do well for who they are for the roles they play, even though these performers are not really big name stars! (No George Clooneys or Tom Hanks-types found within this bunch!) That’s OK for what that is, since this feature doesn’t really need any big names to make it work!

And since this is a period film, this reviewer always gives kudos to those that dressed the sets as well as those others that created its look and feel that depicts the era it speaks for; In this case, the middle 1960’s. Elizabeth Keenan’s set decoration and Ruth E. Carter’s costuming dose showcase the era it represents, making this film eye candy for those that wish to see a recreation of a time and incident that took place some fifty years before. However, movie watchers tend to see such films for its drama and performances, not necessarily for its art direction, unless one is into such aspects in feature film creation.

The question remains. Is this title a “good” movie? Yes it is to a point. It may not fall into the category of some of the other releases that came around at the end of ‘14, such as the third Hobbit feature released by Warner Bros., Fox’s Night At The Museum II, and even the Columbia/Sony “release” of The Interview. But SELMA does serve a purpose. That purpose is not only to teach those about a bit of domestic African American history, but to woo those Academy voting members to check this film off their voting ballots. As of this writing, there is a lot of so-called “Oscar buzz” being reported upon for this picture through the trade press as well as the movie gossip sites found on the ‘net. This is no real surprise considering that many of its voting members were around to recall this moment from not so long ago, and the fact that Paramount released this title first on both coasts (New York and Los Angeles), where many of those same voters live, work, and/or commute to! This way, they can catch this feature in a theater setting, not necessarily paying for the privilege!

PS…. For what it’s worth, Oprah is billed as one of the film’s producers through her Harpo Films banner. Now you know!

This feature is rated “PG-13” for depicted violence and related conflict. Now playing nationwide at most major multiplexes

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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2015 Linear Cycle Productions. All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!

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