Arts, Entertainment, Living

walt disney

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- For the upcoming two-part, four-hour biography "Walt Disney" (9 p.m. Sept. 14-15, PBS), "American Experience" executive producer Mark Samels said he went to the notoriously controlling Walt Disney Company and asked for their cooperation.

"There was an expectation of editorial input and I said it's going to be very simple, 'You'll get to see the show when the American public does,'" Samels said. "I figured it would be over at that point. I think it wasn't because of our series' reputation and the trustworthiness of the PBS brand. And I have to tell you we have gotten unprecedented access to the world of Walt Disney."

And it's true that there's an amazing amount of footage from Disney movies and archival film.

Read more and watch a preview after the jump. ...

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CLOEnsembleCab

All you need to know about the Pittsburgh CLO ensemble is that Blake Stadnik of Ellwood City, a Penn State grad making his Pittsburgh CLO debut this summer, will be playing Billy Lawlor in the upcoming national tour of “42nd Street.”

Actually there is a lot more to get to know, and if you weren’t at the PCLO ensemble’s late-night cabaret Saturday night, you missed the chance to see the stars of today and tomorrow cutting loose.

The late-night cabaret at the Cabaret at Theater Square unleashed featured players from “The Wedding Singer,” who joined ensemble members, interns and host (roaster?) Richard Rockage for a night of song, dance and a last creative fling for the PCLO ensemble of summer 2015. 

Stadnik, for instance, offered a stirring heartthrob solo of “I Know,” which he also performed for the Penn State senior Spotlight. Blake is legally blind but that hasn't stopped him from pursuing a career on the stage. 

Marc Robin, the director/choreographer of "Les Misérables" at the North Shore Music Theater in Beverly, Mass., who directed Stadnik as Marius and in several shows at the Maine State Music Theatre, told The Boston Globe, "You'd have to be a pretty discriminatory person to not use someone who's as talented as Blake."

 

 

 

Another highlight was Alle-Faye Monka (Agnes in “Gypsy”), one of several ensemble members from the University of Michigan, who sang her own touching and funny lyrics to “Copacabana” for her parents, who met at the club. They came from New Jersey to see their daughter at the Cabaret at Theatre Square and to celebrate their 33rd wedding anniversary.

J. Michael Zygo, star of “The Wedding Singer,” opened the show on the "Girls Only" set (at CLO Cabaret through Aug. 30) with Zach Miller and Point Park's Justin Lonesome (all pictured above) as perhaps the best-possible wedding cover band, channeling the Doobie Brothers for “Listen to the Music.” 

As the clock was striking midnight, things got a little “Wicked.” Jackie Burns and Mallory Michaellan, a rising senior at Michigan, sang “I Have Been Changed for Good.” After Mallory opened the song as Glinda, Burns — Elphaba on Broadway and the national tour — said, “That was gooood.” 

Veteran Pittsburgh performer Chris Laitta shared her audition song with lyrics that were PCLO-specific, and newbie Sandy Rosenberg, a pro who came through Pittsburgh once before, with the tour of “Jekyll and Hyde,” got a standing O for her comedic, operatic “A Diva’s Work Is Never Done.”

L’ogan Jones, another Wolverine, clowned through “I’m Not Smart” from “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”; and Brooke Lacy, Dallas Padoven, Ben Bogen and Kevin Paul were among those who sang songs about love or losing it. 

Danny Bevins, the ensemble dance captain and a strong performer this season, and Kevin Clay performed a flirty, funny pas de deux. Bevins — you may remember him as the sadistic Pedro in “Man of La Mancha” — is the recipient of the 16th-annual Julia Deberson Award, awarded by the directors and production staff to the ensemble who exemplifies Ms. Deberson’s ideals: “professional skill, high work ethic, an optimistic attitude, the ability to work well with others and, above all, a passion for one’s work.”

To close out the PCLO production season (tours of “Kinky Boots,” featuring Billy Porter, and “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” are up next), host Rockage kept things spicy and insider-ish, so that you almost felt like it all should be off the record — except that the performance was open to the public and $5 at the door. Watch for it next year and you, too, can guess who will be the next Billy Porter or Corey Cott to emerge from the group. 

After production manager Jason Daunter sang a heartfelt song about keeping your humor when times are rough, Point Park grad Melessie Clark, making her PCLO debut, closed the show with a jazzy version of “Skylark.”

 

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Mercy Street

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- With all its success with British drama, PBS will once again dip its toe into American drama with "Mercy Street" (10 p.m. Sundays starting Jan. 17), debuting a few weeks after the final season premiere of "Downton Abbey" (9 p.m. Jan. 3).

Filmed in Richmond, Va., "Mercy Street" is set during the Civil War at an Alexandria, Va., hotel-turned-hospital.

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paula kerger 7-2015

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- PBS president Paula Kerger said she remains hopeful that genealogy series "Finding Your Roots" will return to PBS after fallout when it came to light that actor Ben Affleck asked to have information about his ancestors as slaveholders removed from his episode of the program. When the show aired, that information was not included.

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PRESS TOUR: PBS tries to get kids outside with 'Nature Cat'

Saturday, 01 August 2015 12:38 PM Written by

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- For the first time in three years, Pittsburgh-based The Fred Rogers Company doesn't have a new children's show on PBS.  That's OK, others deserve a chance, too. (Plus, the FRC shows are all doing great in the ratings and have additional seasons ordered.)

This year's new entry on PBS Kids is "Nature Cat," debuting Nov. 25.

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Pittsburgh Blues Festival 2016: Wholesome Headliners?

Saturday, 01 August 2015 09:15 AM Written by

Buddy Guy's language during his performance at last week's Pittsburgh Blues Festival seems to have upset a few people. Festival Chairman Ron "Moondog" Esser was so scandalized he intends to insert a clause in next year's contract about language. No word whether he intends to specify "acceptable" cussing ("heck," "gosh-darn," "golly gee whiz," "oh, fudge," "freaking," "fiddlesticks," etc.)  as opposed to "unacceptable" language ("hell," "damn," "barnyard epithets," SOB, and anything above and beyond).

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- One of summer's best comedy treats hasn't yet premiered so viewers can still look forward to IFC's "Documentary Now!" (10 p.m. Aug. 20).

Starring Fred Armisen and Bill Hader and exeuctive produced by Seth Meyers, "Documentary Now!" parodies a different style of documentary each week.

From "Grey Gardens" to "Vice," the show does a great job spoofing its subjects. But will it make sense if you haven't seen the movie that inspired each episode?

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PRESS TOUR: Patrick Stewart stars in 'Blunt Talk'

Friday, 31 July 2015 03:05 PM Written by

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BluntTalk Group

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Seth MacFarlane ("Family Guy") executive produces the upcoming Starz comedy "Blunt Talk" (9 p.m. Aug. 22) starring Patrick Stewart as a Piers Morgan-like, unhinged cable news anchor named Walter Blunt who is followed around by his trusty steward (Adrian Scarborough).

MacFarlane said he was eager to cast Stewart in a comedy.

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