TV’S “THRILL IS GONE”!

Although the above headline may suggest that this writer is making a comment on a specific TV program or series distributed through any portal that transmits moving imagery that may be viewed on any electronic device that sports a screen, this article is about how that said content could become connected to the lack of video anticipation.

Once upon a time, long before cable television, and waaay before streaming video was known to exist, the “big three” television networks, consisting of The American Broadcasting Company (ABC), CBS-formally known as the Columbia Broadcasting System, and the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) would introduce their new programs in the fall of each year, mostly in September, but at times could bleed into October. These new programs, airing during the “prime time” hours between 8:00 PM through 11:00 PM Monday through Saturday, and as early as 7:00 PM Sunday (Eastern/Pacific times zones–subtracted one hour for the Central time zone), would be hyped up as early as July through their national channels and by way of local affiliates that promised that this season would become the “best season ever!”.

TV Guide, perhaps the be-all-to-end-all publication that wrote about television in the USA for the consumer audiences, would publish their Fall Preview Guide around the second weekend in September that would also hype up all of the new shows that would be seen throughout the year and for future seasons to come. That is, unless the shows that were hyped up would even last through its thirteen season probationary period!

Of course, times have changed. With cable TV once considered as TV’s second coming, as well as the rise (and fall) of the video cassette recorder (VCR), the rise (and steady hold) of the digital video recorder (DVR), and of course, the rise of every loving streaming services that are part of the new “second coming(s)” of TV, the thrill of new(er) programs to view on a video screen doesn’t hold that same anticipation as it used to possess.

Granted, the TV season of tradition still exists, running between September of one year through April/May of the next. Nowadays, that doesn’t necessarily mean that everything that is introduced as new and different will commence at the head or even the middle of the seasonal schedule. (Middle season meaning January or so). Programs in this day and age begin when they begin, and end when they end, either through design (the program has a limited number of installments) or through circumstance. (The program ends production because of various reasons.)

There was one time that CBS attempted to introduce their new TV season in late summer. At the start of the 1975-76 TV season, the network offered “sneak previews” of some of their newer shows. Among the few that were launched right before the Labor Day weekend was a dramatic series called Beacon Hill. This series was a period drama set in the Beacon Hill district of Boston, Massachusetts in the early 1920’s that spoke upon their lives of a wealthy multi-member family and their hired staff of butlers and chambermaids. When the series was first presented as a special program in early August, the rating and interests were large. Two weeks later, the regular run made its mark on the CBS schedule. This series, attempting to catch on to the success of the PBS airings of Upstairs Downstairs featured its same look and feel. Lavish (and rather expensive) sets were build on various sound stages on the Paramount lot. Costuming was also of the elite design. And the writing was long drawn and somewhat flowery in speech. The network thought that they, a commercial advertiser supported video source, were going to beat PBS in their own game! However, although anticipation was set high at first, viewers became rather tired and perhaps bored in what they were tuning in to. Making a long story shorter and after thirteen weeks had passed, the series came to its end in early November, never to be seen again!

This would be the time of year where that TV fatigue would begin to make its mark. However, that time of year would be geared toward the anticipations of the holiday seasons with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner. And interestingly enough, those two holidays are big TV viewing periods, usually through special programs or sporting events that only come around that time of the year.

As of this writing, Disney+ the most awaited streaming service to come around the video landscape this year has launched. It’s a bit too soon to discover how much of the anticipation has affected its fan bases. But one thing for sure, those video fans won’t necessary get tired right away to what’s available. But with Disney being Disney, there will be plenty of material for that media company is to offer in order to entertain, if not overwhelm, its viewership!

PS…It would be interesting to discover if the series Beacon Hill will ever become available to view again through the streaming portals. (CBS All Access?) It’s a program that is worth its second look some 44 years after the fact! So as they say, stay tuned….!
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NEWS AND REVIEWS

The Odyssey Theatre presents the American premier of Pat Kinevane’s BEFORE, a virtual pilgrimage of a man’s search for a gift to a long absent daughter through the spirit of stage musicals and those in between.

The plot revolves around a man named Pontius who travels to a large department store in Dublin to purchase a 21st birthday gift for his daughter who he hasn’t seen in some seventeen years–and will be meeting within the hour! But the story doesn’t end there. Pontius then morphs into telling more tales ranging from (among many isolated episodes), from how he obtained his name to the men that doesn’t wash after their restroom trips! As this is a musical adventure, he proceeds to sing and dance in the style of a Broadway musical from the glory days. As he emotes, he speaks with a deep Irish brogue and his verbiage progresses through his odyssey. The entire setting he plays through is presented through a surreal backdrop. It all begins through a thick stage fog where the entire performance field is blacked. As Pontius enters, he begins rather normally. Then the mood changes into a rather tense atmosphere. By the time his quest comes to its conclusion, he does obtain that gift for his daughter that a good father figure would accomplish.

Pat Kinevane, the star of own his presentation, creates a performance that uses a fantasy ploy through the boundaries of his skills by speaking with an Irish method while singing, (again, with an Irish twist) and dancing. (No special geographic region, unless “Broadway” is considered an ethnic dominance.) Pat’s scripting of his performance and the emoting he forms makes this showcase very amusing. What adds towards its flavor are the musical components. With a score by Denis Clohessy through transcribed music performed by the RTE Concert Orchestra conducted by Cathal Synnott with the choreography by Emma O’Kane, Pat Kinevane as his alter ego Pontius (named after a one-time governor of the district of Judea rather than a “pilot”), does his musical schtick that pays its homage of the tuneful stage shows once born on The Great White Way. One can see the ghosts of those shows from Chicago to Oklahoma and all points in between!

Jim Culleton directs this show that has Pat working overtime and he enters his task of what could be a simple process–shopping for his kid’s birthday–into a sphere of unearthly fate, comedy, drama, and of course, signin’ and dancin’! Unlike a typical stage show where it features a cast of thousands (so to speak), Pat has no one else to guide him through except his own persona as he is in the lead. He does use a few props as an aid including this writer’s favorite, a pair of glowing iPad minis! But it’s Pat all the way up and way out; the latter term not to be confused with “exit” as Pat’s only one is right at its end–and it’s quite sudden to match!

Also heard in the performance are the transcribed voices of Clelia Murphy, Kez Kinevane, and Alex Sharpe.

What makes this show unique is its title. Pat Kinevane carries right on through through its ninety minute running time. And if there is to be a sequel, that title could be known as During followed with After. For the moment, it’s BEFORE, and it’s “now”!

BEFORE, presented by The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble and Fishamble: The New Play Company is association with Georganne Aldrich Heller, performs at The Odyssey Theatre, 2055 South Sepulveda Blvd. Los Angeles, until December 8th. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sundays at 2:00 PM. Special post-performance “talk back” discussions take place on Friday, November 15th and Sunday, December 1st. No performance on Thursday, November 28th.

For ticket reservations and for more information, call (310) 477-2055 ext. 2, or via online at http://www.OdysseyTheatre.com
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Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills presents for the third entry in their 2019-20 season, the Los Angeles premier of Colin Spear Crowley’s FIFTEEN MEN IN A SMOKED FILLED ROOM, a drama about the campaign nomination of Walter G. Harding for president, and the back story behind it all.

The setting is during the Republican National Convention in Chicago in the early summer of 1920. David Hunt Stafford plays Harding, a senator from rural Ohio. He was set to become nominated during the convention as the presidential candidate. His campaign manager Harry M. Daugherty (John Combs) is getting his name across during the convention’s day of balloting. Harding’s wife, Florence (Roslyn Cohn) holds an uneven feeling toward the outcome. Being in a superstitious nature, she even went ahead to consult a fortune teller on what may transpire once her husband takes over the candidacy for the possible winning of the election. Adding toward this is Nan Britton (Sarah Walker) a younger woman who happens to be Harding’s second mistress! These aspects that materialize on that day in Chicago brought forth the political based “smoked filled room”, where secret meetings would take place under heavy cigar smoke through the power brokers that could settle the results of a political movement with a lot of deal making on the side!

This single act play written by Colin Spear Crowley takes its premise based upon true facts to the Harding campaign that did involve a series of scandals, including the Teapot Dome Scandal taking place later in Harding’s term in office. The cast of characters that appear in this Theatre 40 production show off their performances as tight as the story itself. Although it’s rather talky in nature, this talkiness moves the story into the highs and lows of political based drama based upon actual episodes–with a little bit of creative license blended for dramatic effect.

Jeff G. Rack, Theatre 40’s residential set decorator, creates a set that portrays a plush hotel suite at the Congress Hotel where much of the “smoke filled room” events did come to pass. This time around, no spoke is depicted on stage!! Michele Young’s costuming shows the same period fashion that was standard as worn during the political arenas.

Also appearing in this presentation is Kevin Dulude as George Harvey, a journalist and central figure into the smoke filled room proceedings, and Roger K. Weiss as a radio announcer.

Directed by Jules Aaron, FIFTEEN MEN IN A SMOKED FILLED ROOM is a play that takes an inside look to the forming to one of America’s least preferred presidents in terms of running the nation through scandals, affairs, and other back handed details. Although what did came about happened nearly a century ago, it’s another part of preferred drama that adapts well on the Theatre 40 intimate stage set.

FIFTEEN MEN IN A SMOKED FILLED ROOM, presented by Theatre 40 and performs at the Reuben Cordova Theatre, located within the campus of Beverly Hills High School, 241 South Moreno Drive (off little Santa Monica Blvd.) Beverly Hills, until December 15th. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM, with additional Sunday evening performances on December 1st and 8th at 7:00 PM. No performances on November 28th and 29th.

For ticket reservations or for more information, call (310) 364-0535, or via online at http://www.Theatre40.org
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The Lounge Theatre of Hollywood presents the world premier of SALVAGE, a drama about a young musician set between a hard edged and well seasoned singer, songwriter, and “preacher” all rolled into one!

In a run down roadhouse located far from nowhere, a man known as Preacher (David Atkinson) has set this place as his pulpit. He doesn’t preach the gospel from the Good Book, but from the gospel of a hard scrubbed life. He has his guitar in hand as he plays as he “prays”. The only candle and incense that burns in this “church” are from smoldering cigarette butts and from stale beer. Johnson (Leonard Earl Howze) serves as the barkeep that overlooks his place that is just as run down as Preacher. In walks Harley. (Christopher Fordinal) He’s a young singer and songwriter who has his guitar within reach, but is just as down and out. He has a young spouse who can sing named Destiny (Nina Herzog) who is currently carrying with child. Harley arrives at this location with an anxious attitude since this joint was the actual spot where legionary singer/songwriter Floyd Whittaker met his demise. (It was due to chocking on his own vomit, most likely set from substance abuse!) Harley finds Preacher as a man to follow in terms of what he grasps through his music. But there are a lot of lessons to be learned first. Both the students and the teacher, or “preacher” discovers more from one another through the music that they know and worship.

This single act play with book by Tim Alderson is self described as a “play with music”. To be more precise, it’s really a full fledged musical! The songs performed on guitar by both David Atkinson as Preacher, the elder one in age, personna, and through his consumption in beer and whiskey, and Christopher Fordinal as the younger and eager Harley, performs a selection of original songs as composed by Mark Heard, Pat Terry, Randy VanWarmer, and Tim Alderson. The songs themselves consist of tunes that are more as folk in nature, rather than what’s been called as “traditional country”. They speak for the times in life where they can become hard, with the ever present sense of desire, hope, and fortune. Nina Herzog, who plays the young and expecting wife of Harley who just happens to be named Destiny, sings a pair of songs with a voice that is sweet in nature and spirit. A total of eleven musical pieces are performed in this single act program. Each tune sets the tone of the times and lives of the young man, the genteel wife, and the booze laden gent that play his version of a man of the cloth. The only performer that show no musical talent in this piece is Leonard Earl Howze as Johnson the barkeep. He a heavy set African American man who resembles a blues player than a modern day troubadour slinging an acoustic six string.

Adding to the mood to this showcase is what appears on the intimate stage set. Joel Daavid’s scenic design of the roadhouse is lined in shades of grey with the necessary equipment found in rundown out-of-the-way dive joints from the longneck bottles of beer to a underused jukebox that could have been loaded with songs by Hank, Cash, and Jones. Wendell C. Carmichael’s costuming of the players is just as appealing in terms of being pretty as they are scrubbed.

Stephan Terry provides the musical direction to the series of tunes that Atkinson and Fordinal perform as both a single and duo act.

Directed by Damian D. Lewis, SALVAGE is an appropriate title to a musical play (or dramatic musical) that speaks upon the notion of what can be salvaged can be utilized as a true entry to destiny. There are more to the lessons of life that can be found inside of a roadhouse. Just as long as the music is playing and the beer is flowing, anything is quite possible through the word of the “lord”!

SALVAGE, presented by Theatre Planners and performs at The Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd. (at El Centro, one block east of Vine Street), Hollywood, until December 15th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 3:00 PM.

For ticket reservations or for more details, call (323) 960-7712, or via online at http://www.OnStage411.com/Salvage
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FORD V. FERRARI (Fox) stars Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby, a professional race car driver and engineer. He’s been driving on various tracks for some time. After winning in Le Mans in 1959, he lays off on the driving side now getting back into designing cars. Meanwhile, the Ford Motor Company, always in second place behind General Motors, holds the desire to do something different. Under the supervision of junior executive Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal), the company wants to build a fast car, even with plans to team up with Italian auto maker Ferrari still run by its founder, Enzo Ferrari (Remo Girone) to create a racing division. When that deal falls through, Lee turns toward Shelby to build a car that can even beat Ferrari’s fastest car. Shelby himself turns to British born race car driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) to team up to build that dream car. With their ups and downs on the test track as well through their personal relationship, they complete that car, ready to race at the 24 hours long Le Mans rally in 1966.

This is a movie that concentrates between the conflicts set between Carroll Shelby, as portrayed by Matt Damon, and his “frenmy” Ken Miles, played by Christian Bale. Shelby is seen as the “cool” guy. He knows his stuff as he has a team of car designers working under his belt. Ken Miles is more of a family man. His wife Mollie (Caitriona Balfe) and their son Peter (Noah Jupe) both back him up as they are rather hip to the motor sport world. The first portion of this film deals with the conflicts set between the two leads, and they go through the process of building the car that will beat the all mighty Ferrari. The final third is where the action takes place where Shelby, Miles, et. al. are in France where the car they have built will take on all comers at this day long race at Le Mans. This is where and when this feature really shines its brightest throughout! The screenplay by Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth and Jason Keller has its own ups and downs. The “down” part of this feature consists of the “talky” scenes between Shelby, Miles, Ford executives, etc. (“Talky” in this case means “non-racing” scenes!) But when the cars are front and center, this movie steps on the gas!

James Mangold directs this film that is very much akin to any form of biographical feature of late. Although it is based on true facts, there are some creative license to it all. But that’s not really the point here. It’s a great film to view that has a balance between drama and action to hold on.

As this film makes its way into the movie theater scene, there has been some talk about placing Damon and Bale into the award season scene. Perhaps so. However,for those that enjoy a movie where the cars are the real stars, FORD V FERRARI will fit that bill.

PS..even though this is a period movie (1960’s), the soundtrack features some tunes from the era, but those sounds don’t overtake the style and mood. Its real “music” is the sounds of Shelby built Fords, etc. revving up their engines. For any “gear head”, that is music enough for their ears!

This feature is rated “PG” for mild cussing and violence in the classic “punch out/drag out” variety style of fighting! Now playing in all multiplexes nationwide.
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2019 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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