Tuned In Journal http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:42:23 -0400 en-gb All aboard! 'Railroad Alaska' chugs into season two http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38413-all-aboard-railroad-alaska-chugs-into-season-two http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38413-all-aboard-railroad-alaska-chugs-into-season-two

Alaska Railroad

Season two of Destination America's "Railroad Alaska" (10 p.m. Saturday) is more produced than ever.

The first episode features some painfully staged dialogue in the cab of a train as the crew -- newcomers Bill, George and Wanda -- goes to deliver equipment to help pull a bulldozer out after it fell through ice on a frozen lake.

Read more after the jump. ...

When not following the folks on the railroad, the show spends time with one-handed off-grider Jim James, 67, and his wife, Nancy, 61. Jim breaks one of his tools and has to go to town by train, something he dislikes doing.

"You be nice to those people in town, please," Nancy implores as the hot head boards the passenger train and a conductor makes him check his gun. "Say what?" an incredulous Jim responds.

Later a grill tipped over by a bear at another offgridder's house becomes a major plot point,

My 4-year-old son, pictured below, loves the show, which he calls "Real Trains in the Snow," so I asked him for his review. I transcribed his impressions below:

Where's Danny and Animal? (They were the show's featured engineers last season, pictured above, and my son's upset he hasn't seen them this seasion; a Destination America publicist says they're not slated to return. Evidently they were replaced by the new chucklehead trio.)

It was good but I want to watch Danny and Animal.

I liked the train best.

I didn't like the bulldozer in the water because it was gonna break. 

real trains s2

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Thu, 23 Oct 2014 00:00:01 -0400
TruTV rebrands as comedy channel http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38432-trutv-rebrands-as-comedy-channel http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38432-trutv-rebrands-as-comedy-channel

Fake Off

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – The last vestiges of TruTV’s former identity as Court TV will be wiped away Monday with the network’s re-launch as a destination for comedy fans.

“Our goal is to make truTV a fun ride for grown-ups, an upbeat alternative in the landscape where so many shows are looking and feeling so much the same,” said TruTV president and head of programming Chris Linn at a July press conference.

The evolution of TruTV began earlier this year with the May debut of “The Carbonaro Effect” starring magician/trickster Michael Carbonaro, which improve the network’s time period performance. That show is back with new episodes at 10 p.m. Oct. 30.

Read more after the jump. ...

TruTV launches a slew of new programs next week, including:

“Hair Jacked” (8 and 8:30 p.m. Monday): A game show invades a hair salon weekly and unsuspecting salon patrons are thrust into pop culture trivia competitions while stylists continue to work on their hair.

“Fake Off” (10 p.m. Monday): Teams (one is pictured above) re-imagine iconic pop culture moments in hopes of being crowned America’s best fakers.

“It's a new form of storytelling,” Mr. Linn said. “When you see a number of them sort of in their complete form, you realize you are being taken on a journey. They can be funny and comedic. They can be full of action. There's drama and heart.”

Judges include Harry Shum Jr. (“Glee”), Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas of TLC and Michael Curry (Broadway’s “The Lion King”).

“How to be a Grown Up” (10 p.m. Tuesday): Comics offer humorous guidance through interviews, sketches and animation.

“Friends of the People” (10:30 p.m. Tuesday): A new sketch comedy series starring three of the cast members from Fox’s recent, aborted “In Living Color” reboot.

Sketches will include a “Pardon the Interruption” parody called “Squirrel and Fart” and a sketch called “Tracy Morgan Freeman.”

Producer Neil Punsalan said the Internet culture of short comedy sketches influenced the approach to sketch comedy in “Friends of the People.”

“We are trying to pick up the pace on our show and keep everything sort of shorter, so I think that creates a fun ride,” he said, adding that there will be some man-on-the-street elements, too. “As opposed to just watching a show and seeing actors act out a scene, you are getting to see who [our cast members] are and how they work together organically and sort of naturally. It lets you behind the curtain a little bit.”


rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Wed, 22 Oct 2014 08:40:01 -0400
Mister Rogers art featured in charity event http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38431-mister-rogers-art-featured-in-charity-event http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38431-mister-rogers-art-featured-in-charity-event


Completed Mr. Rogers

Kait Schoeb, a 24-year-old Pittsburgh artist, has contributed a chair with a painting of Fred Rogers and characters from "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" on the seat to Magee Women's Hospital's "The Cradle will Rock" charity event put together by the Twenty-Five Club that raises funds for neonatal care and research.

Details on the event after the jump. ...

Here's the release from the Twenty-Five Club: 



            Seventy-five years ago on September 1, 1939, a group of only twenty-five women, who gathered primarily for social afternoons, decided to organize a new charity club whose mission would focus on infant care.

            The group met at the home of Mrs. Leslie J. Reese (Lillian) and listened to Dr. Murray Ferderber's presentation asking the Club to subsidize a physician in the fever therapy department of Children's Hospital. The group named themselves the Twenty-Five Club with a limited active membership of only twenty-five women. According to Lillian Reese, "the babies of today are our future citizens of tomorrow. Let us hope to give them a healthy normal start, not only in Pittsburgh or Allegheny County or for all Americans but for all of the babies in all of the world."

            Though the projects have greatly expanded throughout the years, the original vision and mission of those twenty-five women who met that afternoon continues today.

            This band of twenty-five women of The Twenty-Five Club of Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC will celebrate their 75th Anniversary with The Cradle Will Rock, "A PLATINUM AFFAIR" on Saturday November 1, 2014 at the Omni William Penn. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres begin at 7:00 PM followed by dinner and dancing to the Bobby Nicholas Band. One of a kind hand painted chairs by local artists and signed by celebrities will be available to purchase.

            Honorees are Charles (Corky) and Frances Cost. President is Susan Fitzsimmons.

            According to Chairpersons: Debbie Barbarita, Jeanne Caliguiri and Kathleen Hess, "We continue to champion funds for newborn medicine, both prenatal and neonatal and provide research and clinical care at Magee-Womens Hospital. We purchase state of the art equipment, support research studies and training and technical assistance funding so to better understand neonatology diagnosis and treatment."

            For further information, contact Barbara Mendlowitz 412-681-8182.

            Cost of the evening - $250.00 per ticket.


1st Project -   Pay specialty doctors' salaries and fund equipment to study RH blood factor and respiratory disease in premature newborns. Respiratory disease is still number one in premature deaths.

1942 -             New Infant Research Department established at Elizabeth Steel Magee Hospital. Group decided all future fund raising would be dedicated to infant research.

1954 -             Purchased Thermo Control incubators and special nursing care and supplies provided for premature babies and their families.

1957 -             Infant Research Laboratory created. Extra nursing care, scientific and monitoring equipment plus technical salaries granted.

1960-1970 -   The Twenty-Five Club recognized as a viable source of funding for infant research, equipment and care.

1969 -             The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit established. Cornerstone of Premature Nursery.

1983 -             Neonatal Research Lab created.

1984 -             Development of a Physiology Laboratory.

1991 -             Laboratory of Development Molecular Biology established.

1996 -             Laser Surgery instruments and a Phosphorimager purchased.

2003 -             Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Renovation Project.

2007 -             Neonatal Research funds given to Dr. Gary Silverman.

2008 -             Major milestone. The Twenty-Five Club Endowed Chair in Neonatology (Newborn Medicine).

2009 -             Expansion of the Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment Center for Dr. Stephen Emery to enable twin-twin transfusion syndrome procedures.          Comfort items were made available for babies born with inherited addiction.

2010 -             Dr. Jon Watchko’s research and treatment to prevent brain damage in newborns with severe jaundice funded.

2011 -             Launched the In-Utero Repair of Fetal Spina Bifida Program led by Dr. Stephen Emery.



rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Tue, 21 Oct 2014 08:59:01 -0400
'Dancing with the Stars' pre-empted by Steelers tonight http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38449-dancing-with-the-stars-pre-empted-by-steelers-tonight http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38449-dancing-with-the-stars-pre-empted-by-steelers-tonight


Pittsburgh's WTAE is pre-empting "Dancing with the Stars" and "Castle" with the Steelers game tonight but they're not airing "Dancing" in its usual pre-emption spot of 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Read more after the jump. ...

Instead, "Dancing" will air overnight tonight -- technically 1:30-3:30 a.m. Tuesday -- with voting open until 11 a.m. Tuesday.

"Castle" will air overnight Tuesday -- technically 1-2 a.m. Wednesday.

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Mon, 20 Oct 2014 09:42:55 -0400
'The Millers' is back on CBS http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38426-the-millers-is-back-on-cbs http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38426-the-millers-is-back-on-cbs

105348 D0270b2

CBS's disappointing sitcom "The Millers" returns for its second season on a new day tonight at 8:30. The show began with potential thanks to a talented cast that includes Margo Martindale, Beau Bridges and Will Arnett but the sitcom just wasn't that funny and their talents were squandered last year.

Now Sean Hayes ("Will & Grace") has been added to the cast. We'll see if that helps make it any funnier (CBS did not make a review screener available by deadline).

Read more after the jump. ...

CBS made some schedule changes after the new season started,including "The Millers" jumping to Monday, so I thought it might be helpful to recap where "Mom" will land this fall and where "The Millers" will move to in early 2015, barring any further schedule changes.

Here's what CBS has planned: 


Updated Monday, Oct. 20

8:00-8:30 PM              THE BIG BANG THEORY

8:30-9:00 PM              THE MILLERS (Season Premiere)

9:00-10:00 PM            SCORPION

10:00-11:00 PM          NCIS: LOS ANGELES

Updated Monday, Oct. 27

8:00-8:30 PM              2 BROKE GIRLS (Season Premiere)

8:30-9:00 PM              THE MILLERS

9:00-10:00 PM            SCORPION

10:00-11:00 PM          NCIS: LOS ANGELES

Updated Thursday, Oct. 30

8:00-8:30 PM              THE BIG BANG THEORY (New Time Period)

8:30-9:00 PM              MOM (Season Premiere)

9:00-9:30 PM              TWO AND A HALF MEN (Season Premiere)

9:30-10:00 PM            THE McCARTHYS (Series Premiere)

10:00-11:00 PM          ELEMENTARY (Season Premiere)

Updated Monday, Jan. 5

8:00-8:30 PM              2 BROKE GIRLS

8:30-9:00 PM              MOM (New Time Period)

9:00-10:00 PM            SCORPION

10:00-11:00 PM          NCIS: LOS ANGELES

Updated Thursday, Jan. 8

8:00-8:30 PM              THE BIG BANG THEORY

8:30-9:00 PM              THE MILLERS (New Time Period)

9:30-10:00 PM            TWO AND A HALF MEN

10:00-11:00 PM          ELEMENTARY


rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Mon, 20 Oct 2014 09:23:01 -0400
TV Q&A: 'American Horror Story: Freak Show,' 'Parenthood' and 'Full Throttle Saloon' http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38442-tv-q-a-american-horror-story-freak-show-parenthood-and-full-throttle-saloon http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38442-tv-q-a-american-horror-story-freak-show-parenthood-and-full-throttle-saloon


Click here for a link to headlines of recent TV news and views posts.

TV Q&A with Rob Owen

Submit a question to TV Q&A by clicking here.

This week's TV Q&A (after the "Read more" jump below) responds to questions about “American Horror Story: Freak Show,” “Parenthood” and “Full Throttle Saloon.” As always, thanks for reading and keep the questions coming.

- Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV writer

Q: I know this is the last season for "Parenthood," but have they gotten new writers for the show? I ask because the whole dynamic of the show has changed, especially in the dialog between the characters. Suddenly they are speaking in short outbursts, talking over each other, or all of them speaking at the same time, etc. It lends a touch of frenzy to the mood of the show, and in a discussion with others, we agreed that it's very annoying and seems very unnatural to these characters we have become very fond of.

- Karen, 68, Orange County, Calif.

Rob: No, there was no shakeup in the writing staff and series creator Jason Katins remains the showrunner/head writer.


Q: Will there be a "Full Throttle Saloon" season this year on TruTV? They kind of left us hanging last season with an upcoming baby.

- Saundra, 70, Springdale, PA
TruTV is shifting its brand to become a comedy network and a recent tweet from TruTV reports no new season of “Full Throttle Saloon” was filmed this year.

Reruns of past seasons are airing on ReelzChannel.


Q: When a TV series goes into syndication, are all episodes in the rotation or are some held back?

- Jay, Oakland

Rob: Yes, it is super annoying but often series are rolled out in batches of episodes and not always in chronological order. This seems to be more prevalent among sitcoms, where episodes that rated better in their initial run are more likely to be part of the batch presented in syndication.

Q: Do you know when the new season of HGTV’s “Flea Market Flip” will start?
Also, can you find out if the Food Network show "Mystery Diners" is real? There seems to be a lot of people who are on the show who are bad actors, especially at the end of the show when they are "busted."

- Darrin, 42, Pittsburgh

Rob: The second season of “Flea Market Flip” premiered in March 2013. It seems likely if it was renewed another season would have appeared by now. HGTV publicist Jade Williams did not respond to Darrin’s question.

A lot of evidence online suggests “Mystery Diners” is staged, including a Radar Online report  and a critique from Previously.TV.

Food Network publicist Julie Chudow offered this response: “Specific to your ‘Mystery Diners’ question, that program’s general premise is when a restaurant owner suspects employees of not doing their jobs, said owner/manager calls in the Mystery Diners. These Mystery Diners are undercover operatives who go into restaurants, bars and food service establishments with hidden cameras and perform surveillance to find out what's really going on when the boss isn't around – hence during any establishments requested visit, setting the stage for certain behavior to be captured is to be expected.”


Q: What happened to “Monk” rerunson Fridaynights on WPMY? I see it has been replaced by “Bones,” which is on every other station along with “Law and Order.”

- Phil, 64, Plum
We reported on the My Network TV fall schedule in June which added reruns of “The Walking Dead,” which is improving MNT’s ratings, and “The Mentalist.” “Monk” was no longer on the MNT schedule.

“Monk” is available on Universal HD, which is available on DirecTV, DISH Network and some Comcast and Verizon FiOS systems. Check for a channel number on your cable system at the network website


Q: I swear when I was watching “American Horror Story: Freak Show,” it sounds like Kathy Bates as the Bearded Woman is sporting a DEEP Pittsburghese accent!  Can you confirm that?

-Ken, 49, Ross Township
To my ear it sounded like a Baltimore accent but I went searching for confirmation and found it in Kathy Bates’ Twitter feed and in a Ryan Murphy interview with Entertainment Weekly where he explained, “Kathy came up with that idea which I love. She thought that Ethel would be from Baltimore. So we’re saying in that period the two most famous things to come out of Baltimore were Kathy Bates’ character and Wallis Simpson. She worked really hard on her Baltimore-ese. Somebody watched a screening of the first episode and said, ‘I thought Kathy Bates was out of a John Waters movie.’ And I’m like ‘You’re right!’ Because that’s set in Baltimore and back in the day, the accents were even thicker. But I love that. I love when she says ‘spektakular.’”


Q: Recently Jon Burnett has been off more than he is on television. Is he leaving the station? 

- Sandra, Gibsonia

Rob: V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N.

People who work in TV get vacation time, too. And as in most workplaces, the longer you’ve worked at a place, the more vacation you get, so veterans may get several weeks and they can only use the time during off-sweeps months and must avoid February, May, July, November and probably the start of the TV season in September, too.

“Rob, you are correct,” Burnett replied via email. “I’ve taken some vacation time recently. I am definitely still here at the station, hopefully for a few more years….at least! This week, in fact, I am covering for Jeff, so Sandra should get her fill of me, and then some, by Friday!”


rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Fri, 17 Oct 2014 17:12:01 -0400
Move over Laura Palmer, 'Sleepy Hollow's' Ichabod Crane has a secret diary, too http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38333-move-over-laura-palmer-ichabod-crane-has-a-secret-diary-too http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38333-move-over-laura-palmer-ichabod-crane-has-a-secret-diary-too

Secret Journal Hi res cover

Ratings for Fox's "Sleepy Hollow" (9 p.m. Monday, WPGH) may be down in season two, but the show still has a very devoted following of loyal fans, which is pretty much the same trajectory of ABC's late, great "Twin Peaks."

"Peaks" had its own book spin-off, "The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer," and now "Sleepy Hollow" gets "The Secret Journal of Ichabod Crane" ($14.99, Three Rivers Press).

Read more after the jump. ...

"Secret Journal," written by Alex Irvine, follows the events of the show's first season, as Ichabod (Tom Mison on the TV show) offers more wry reflections on modern life, including the Internet, election day and GPS devices. It is best read with actor Tom Mison's voice in mind.

"Walking down the street today, innocently preoccupied with the eternal war of good against evil (as one in my position often is)..." Ichabod writes.

The book is illustrated throuhgout with occasional sidebar files from the police department or medial examiner's office.

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Thu, 16 Oct 2014 11:06:01 -0400
The state of TV/film production in Western Pa. http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38441-the-state-of-tv-film-production-in-western-pa http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38441-the-state-of-tv-film-production-in-western-pa

On Wednesday, Post-Gazette movie editor Barbara Vancheri and I had the chancel to ask Pittsburgh Film Office director Dawn Keezer some questions about the state of TV/film production in Western Pennsylvania.

I was particularly interested to learn if North Carolina's decision to cut its film tax credit program to the bone might help spur more TV production locally.

Read more after the jump. ...

Here's what Keezer had to say about recent -- and potential future -- film and TV production in Pittsburgh:


rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Wed, 15 Oct 2014 17:16:01 -0400
PBS explores 'How We Got to Now' http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38412-pbs-explores-how-we-got-to-now http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38412-pbs-explores-how-we-got-to-now

How we got to now

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Technology author Steven Johnson ("Everything Bad is Good for You") hosts the new six-part PBS series "How We Got to Now" (9-11 tonight, WQED-TV), which looks at the men and women behind some of society's most revolutionary innovations.

In tonight's first hour, "Clean," Johnson looks at the advent of clean water supplies. In "Time" (10 tonight), he explores the creation of time zones.

Read more after the jump. ...

"You have no idea how hard it is to make compelling television about standardized time zones," Johnson said at a July PBS press conference.  "What we are trying to do with this show is tell the history of innovations. Each episode is focused on one facet of the modern world that we take for granted and tries to tell the 500‑year history of how it came about and all of the unintended consequences of each invention but to tell it in a way that really inspires the next generation of problem‑solvers."

Johnson said innovation is a current bizzword thanks to the work of Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs, but "How We Got to Now" looks beyond Silicon Valley.

"What we are trying to do with this show is remind people that there is a different kind of innovation out there that all of our lives benefit from, which is solving problems like how do you get clean drinking water to big, dense, urban centers? Or how do you create standardized time so that we can do things like say this program is going to air at 9:00 on October 15th and reliably know what time that is," he said. "[With standardozed time] they were solving that problem for the railroads, but it turned out to be an essential problem for national media. They didn't realize it at the time."

Johnson said the program tries to avoid being just a straight history.

"We have a lot of sequences that take place in kind of modern environments," he said. "So, for instance, in the 'Cold' episode, we go to this indoor ski slope in Dubai just to show how insane we've gone with our pursuit of artificial cold, that you can ski in the middle of the Arabian desert. You have these environments that I go into at various different points and the adventures that I go on then become starting points for a reflection back into the past and these stories from the past. So I think that creates a sense of you are not just hearing history because historical stories are interesting. You are hearing history that is really anchored in things that are really happening right now."

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Wed, 15 Oct 2014 00:00:01 -0400
'Chrisley Knows Best' returns on USA http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38411-chrisley-knows-best-returns-on-usa http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/38411-chrisley-knows-best-returns-on-usa


BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Viewers have asked, "Who is this Chrisley guy and why does he know best?" but the reality is, it doesn't matter. He's got a reality show and as long as viewers tune in and the ratings for "Chrisley Knows Best" (10 tonight, USA) remain high enough, we're stuck with Chrisley and his argumentative family.

(For the record, Todd Chrisley is an Atlanta-based businessman and "Chrisley Knows Best" has been described as USA's attempt to grow its own Kardashian clan in a petri dish.)

Read more after the jump. ...

At a USA press conference this summer, Todd Chrisley said he though the family was prepared to be on a reality show before it went on the air.

"In the very beginning, we felt like that we were kind of in a good place of knowing what to expect. But I don't think that you're ever in that good place," he said. "I think social media has been somewhat difficult at times, you know, in placing judgment or saying hurtful things about someone's appearance or someone needs to do this or whatever. But it goes back to what kind of parenting have we been successful in implicating. I teach my children each day, we do as a mom and a dad, that the world doesn't give you your self‑worth. We hopefully have helped you gain your self‑worth by knowing who you are. We just finished doing the NOH8 campaign, and so we've got a gentleman that came back and said he was so embarrassed and ashamed that the Chrisley family had participated and such. And I responded back and said, 'I love all my brothers and sisters, you included.' And he came back and apologized."

For the show's second season that begins tonight, viewers can expect more of the same family squabbles. Son Chase turns 18 and Father's Day doesn't go the way Todd expected it would go.

"There's a lot more, I'd say, of Faye, Todd's mother," said executive producer Stephanie Bloch Chambers. "I'd say there's a lot of Grayson, a little bit more than maybe you saw last season.  And there's a lot of humor, and I think, in the end, like this show, the honesty of this family creates a lot of humor.  So more of the same of kind of what you saw first season, but there's more of it."

rowen@post-gazette.com (Rob Owen) Tuned In Journal Tue, 14 Oct 2014 16:14:01 -0400