Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

‘Prince Farming’ ready to make up his mind

The latest ABC  search for love in front of millions of people comes to an end Monday, March 9, when the man known as “Prince Farming,” Chris Soules, will make his decision on “The Bachelor.”

The field has been narrowed to Becca and Whitney. It will be revealed whether one of them is about to be whisked off to Arlington, Iowa or Soules will fail to find true love (or at least as true as it can be on a reality TV show).

I had a chance to chat with Soules in January during a party thrown by ABC. He says he was willing to put himself through the public spectacle because the idea of being the Bachelor seemed like a good way to have some fun.

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Dean Winters faces ‘Battle’ after health scare

Dean Winters has become a familiar face on television from his insurance commercials as the character of “Mayhem” to his new starring role in the CBS series “Battle Creek.”

Not bad for a guy who died almost six years ago.

Winters woke up on June 18, 2009 with a bad fever. He decided to try and sleep it away. But, he woke the next day to see that his entire body was gray because of  a bacterial infection. On his way to the hospital, his heart stooped for two and a half minutes.

The paramedics brought him back. That was the start of a three-week stay in the intensive care unit.

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Leonard Nimoy leaves lasting legacy

Other than Gene Roddenberry, no one meant more to the “Star Trek” franchise than Leonard Nimoy. His passing leaves a black hole in the “Star Trek” universe that will never close.

It wasn’t the bravado that William Shatner and Chris Pine brought to the show. It wasn’t the comic relief supplied by James Doohan and Simon Pegg. It was the Nimoy’s stoic performance as Spock that served as the tent pole for the series. Without his logical views on the world, the series would have been just a standard action offering. Spock was a true original.

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Terrence Howard faces fears to do ‘Empire’

It’s a good thing Terrence Howard overcame his fears about being in the new FOX series “Empire.” Had he passed on the show, Howard would have missed out on being part of the biggest phenomenon of this TV season.

“Empire,” the story of a family involved in the music industry, has attracted more viewers each week since it launched in January.

What scared Howard was how his character treated people including a scene where he throws a child into a garbage can. That’s not the kind of action that will earn any points toward “Father of the Year” voting.

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Margot Robbie wins over ‘Focus’ producers

Will Smith was convinced Margot Robbie wasn’t interested in playing the female lead in his new movie, “Focus,” when she arrived at the audition. She wasn’t wearing any makeup, her hair had not been done and she was dressed like a beach bum.

And yet, she got the role. The film opens Friday, Feb. 27.

The reason the stunning blonde, who was the subject of so much chatter when she was on the red carpet for the recent Academy Awards because of how good she looked, was in such a state was that she had made a trip halfway around the globe to tryout for the part of the female con artist.

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Latest ‘Dancing with the Stars’ lineup revealed

The 10th anniversary cast for “Dancing with the Stars” is the usual collection of semi-celebrities. They will get their first chance to dance when the ABC competition series returns at 8 p.m. March 16.

Here are the early odds for the lalest lineup:

Singer/actor Riker Lynch partnered with Allison Holker. (3-1)

Olympian Nastia Liukin partnered with Derek Hough. (4-1)

Disabled veteran Noah Galloway partnered with Sharna Burgess. (10-1)

“Hunger Games” star Willow Shields partnered with Mark Ballas. (12-1)

Carl’s Jr. model Charlotte McKinney partnered with Keo Motsepe. (15-1)

Actress Rumer Willis partnered with Valentin Chmerkovskiy. (18-1)

Producer/performer Redfoo partnered with Emma Slater. (18-1)

Gridder Michael Sam partnered with Peta Murgatroyd. (18-1)

Actress/author Suzanne Somers partnered with Tony Dovolani. (20-1)

“Shark Tank” star Robert Herjavec partnered with Kym Johnson. (20-1)

Singer Patti LaBelle partnered with Artem Chigvintsev. (25-1)

Zachary Quinto gets emotional in ‘The Slap’

When it comes to ranges of emotions, Zachary Quinto has played the extremes. As Spock, in the new incarnation of “Star Trek,” the Pittsburgh native plays a character who keeps his emotions under close check.

His role in “The Slap” is the opposite. Quinto portrays a guest at a birthday party who loses control of his anger and slaps the faces of the 5-year-old son of another couple. The mini-series starts Feb. 12 on KSEE24.

This explosion of emotions comes with him having to film the scene where his character slaps the child. The scene with the actual slap was done under strict scrutiny and all of the emotional explosions that followed were filmed without the children on set.

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Sophia Bush faces arresting developments

Back when Sophia Bush was starring on the drama “One Tree Hill” there weren’t a lot of opportunities to chase down bad guys or drive a speeding police car. Her character was more into chasing down relationships and driving emotional moments.

These days, she gets to do a lot of cop stuff as she stars in the NBC series, “Chicago P.D.” playing tough, no-nonsense detective Erin Lindsay.

She’s not really a police officer but she has to make it look real. That’s accomplished with the police officers who are on set. Even with all the advisers, some of the simplest actions – such as stopping a  patrol car and jumping out – can go wrong.

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Thomas Dekker goes for different look

It’s one of those cases where a person looks familiar but out of context, it’s difficult to put a name with the face. It takes a few moments but it suddenly becomes clear the young man dressed in the perfectly tailored suit and hair gelled to the ceiling is Thomas Dekker.

Fans of the short-lived “The Secret Circle” or the almost as short-lived “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” will recognize his name as starring in those shows. He was John Connor in the “Terminator” franchise that doesn’t seem to end.

As different as he looks now, he goes through an even more elaborate transformation to pay Valentine, the roommate to Everett Backstrom (Rainn Wilson) on the new FOX quirky procedural, “Backstrom.”

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Let’s talk about sex

The film based on one of the most talked about books of the past few years, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, will open Feb. 13, just in time for a Valentine’s Day date.

Or is it the wrong film to go see on Valentine’s Day?

The book has been described as mommy porn. Anything I write about the movie will come from a male point of view.

This is where I could use your help.

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Timothy Omundson now has music in his life

Even diehard fans of “Psych” might have had some problems spotting Timothy Omundson on the short-run ABC series “Galavant.” When he was playing Carlton Lassiter on the cable show, Omundson sported short hair and a clean shaven face.

He has long hair and a “Duck Dynasty” length beard as King Richard in the musical comedy. The other big difference is that while there was plenty of humor in “Psyche,” “Galavant” is a full-blown comedy romp through the Middle Ages.

Doing the series has given Omundson a new love for musical theater. There was a musical episode of “Psych” but it did not challenge him the way the series has.

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Lorenzo Lamas meets his match with Trump

For five years, Lorenzo Lamas played tough guy Reno Raines on the syndicated series, “Renegade.” He faced a wide assortment of bag guys during the 110 episode run of the show.

Nothing  compared to the defeat he was handed at the hands of Donald Trump on Monday night’s “The Celebrity Apprentice.” Lamas and Shawn Johnson got the boot leaving nine players to vie over the next three weeks to be named the top “Celebrity Apprentice.”

Lamas says he probably wouldn’t have done the show 20 years ago. He’s found a new comfort zone with age.

“I think at 56 years of age, I am a little more comfortable in my own skin,” Lama tells me during an interview at the TV critics meetings in Pasadena. The interview takes place before the episode aired where he was fired.

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NBC looking at full year when judging success

NBC’s lack of successful new shows coupled with the impending end of “Parenthood” and “Parks and Recreation” had network boss Robert Greenblatt pushing for a more expanded look at the TV year. He suggests that the entire 52 weeks should be considered when talking about the network.

That’s because NBC has upcoming programming such as “Heroes: Reborn” and the short-run series, “The Slap.” It’s a TV production but “The Slap” boasts the kind of cast you only expect in a major feature film: Thandie Newton, Peter Sarsgaard and Uma Thurman to name a few.
Here’s a sample of some of Greenblatt’s other comments to critics:
QUESTION: “Peter Pan” got panned. Will you do another musical?

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Anna Faris faces emotional episode of ‘Mom’

Although “Mom” is shot in front of a studio audience, airs with other CBS comedies and features often very funny performances by stars Anna Faris and Allison Janney, it’s not your typical situation comedy. If you saw the deeply emotional episode last year when the decision was made to give up the baby for adoption, you know that’s not the kind of story lines most TV comedies do.

There’s a similar episode Thursday, Jan. 22. It features at least three performances that will get the attention of Emmy voters.

Faris says she had an idea that “Mom” was not going to be typical as soon as she read the first script. The first episode had the main characters dealing with addiction, abandonment and teen-age pregnancy.

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Modesto setting for ABC’s ‘American Crime’

ABC’s “American Crime” is crime drama about a murder investigation that takes place in Modesto. The series, created by “12 Years a Slave” writer John Ridley, stars Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton.

Paul Lee, ABC top executive, calls “American Crime” one of the most powerful pieces of television he’s ever been associated with in his career.

“I think John Ridley has just done an amazing job with it. It’s raw. It’s emotional. The finale packs a power punch that I haven’t seen in a very, very long time. And it does just a superb job of breaking the rules, being a ground breaker but also connecting in a deeply emotional way. So I really love that show,” Lee says.

Although the series was filmed in Austin, Texas, the story unfolds in Central California.

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ABC builds success one night at a time

Television networks don’t rise in the ratings without finding success on certain nights. NBC bounced back years ago when it created a Thursday night of comedy hits. CBS has used strong dramas to dominate on Tuesdays. ABC has been finding success with Wednesdays and Thursdays by building off the success of “Modern Family” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Being able to build off two solid nights like that are making life easier for ABC boss Paul Lee. He talked about the positive way things have been going with TV critics.

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Social media shapes ‘Vampire Diaries’

Ian Somerhalder has found a very successful home with the CW series, “The Vampire Diaries.” He’s one of TV’s baddest boys and that’s made him a fan favorite. Check out social media if you want proof.

Somerhalder has watched how fans can impact the show through all of their Internet comments. As the world of social media has grown since the “Vampire Diaries,” all of that attention has had an affect on the show, particularly Somerhalder’s character of Damon Salvatore.

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Oscars nods mix of deserving, snubs

As is always the case, the announcement of this year’s Oscar nominees is mix of well deserved nods and snubs. The list also includes one local nominee, Bullard High graduate Lou Pechora, who was a lead visual effects supervisor on “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”  The film is in the running for a visual effects Oscar.

“Birdman” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” picked up nine nominations apiece. But, It’s stunning that Ralph Fiennes was left out for his quirky performance in “Grand Budapest Hotel.” It’s also a shame that Jake Gyllenhaal got passed over for his work in “Nightcrawler.”

But, the biggest mistake the Oscar voters made was to leave out David Oyelowo for his marvelous work as Martin Luther King, Jr. in “Selma.”

It’s going to be a tough battle for the Best Actor Oscar as it would be great for Michael Keaton to be honored for his work in “Birdman.” But, it is so hard to vote against Eddie Redmayne who transformed himself into Stephen Hawking for “The Theory of Everything.”

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Brandon Routh goes from Superman to Atom

TV shows and movies have become such big hits they have become coveted jobs for actors.

Brandon Routh has been double lucky as he’s landed two such roles. He slipped into the familair red-blue-and-yellow costume of the Man of Steel for the 2006 movie “Superman Returns.”

Now, he’s playing Ray Palmer in “Arrow.” DC Comic fans will recognize that name as the secret identity of The Atom. The CW Network series has revealed only a little bit of information about how the TV version of Atom – or as he’s known on the show, A.T.O.M. – will become a costumed hero.

The suit looks great though.

If it follows the comics, the Atom will be able to shrink to super small size.

When Routh was pitched the idea of joining “Arrow” to play Palmer, he initially balked at the idea of stepping back into the DC world.

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Name game was hurdle for Larry Wilmore

Naming a show would seem like an easy task. It didn’t take a big leap to come up with “Late Night With David Letterman” or “Seinfeld.”

But, when Larry Wilmore was trying to come up with the name of his new Comedy Central show that would take over the slot that previously was the home to “The Colbert Report” there were some major concerns.

Originally, the show was to be called “The Minority Report,” a name suggested by Jon Stewart whose “The Daily Show” airs before Wilmore’s new offering that starts at 11:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 19. The problem that popped up was that FOX had purchased a possible series called, “Minority Report.”

The only way Wilmore could keep the original name would be if it was called “The Minority Report with Larry Wilmore.” It could never be shortened in conversation, publications or social media outlets.

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Showtime having serious series success

There was a time when premium cable channels counted on feature films to attract subscribers. Those days are long gone when it comes to Showtime. The network concentrates more on original series – “Nurse Jackie,” “The Affair,” “Masters of Sex,” “Homeland,” “Shameless,” “Penny Dreadful” – to fill the schedule.

David Nevins, President, Showtime Networks Inc., met with TV critics the day after “The Affair” picked up two Golden Globes Awards. Here are highlights of what he told TV critics:

QUESTION: What makes a perfect Showtime series?

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Amanda Peet once lived near yellow river

“Togetherness,” the new HBO series airing at 9:30 p.m. Sundays, is a look at four adults who end up living under the same roof. Along with a bathroom, they share the same confusion and frustrations about how their lives have not gone the way as they expected.

The four adults are played by Mark Duplass, Melanie Lynskey, Steve Zississ and Amanda Peet.

When it comes to facing the realities of chasing a dream, Peet knows those feelings well.

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CBS has reason to brag about lineup

CBS took over the TV Critics tour with a little bit of bragging. Network president, Nina Tassler, points out that CBS has the top three new shows with “NCIS: New Orleans,” “Madam Secretary” and “Scorpion.” The newtork only launched five new shows. That means “Stalker” and “The McCarthys” aren’t doing as well.

Here are some other highlights from Tassler’s meeting with TV critics.

QUESTION: Stephen Colbert takes over David Letterman’s slot on Sept. 8. Letterman ends his show May 20, what will you be doing during the summer?

NINA TASSLER: What we’re going to be doing this summer is we have a great opportunity to run encore presentations of our new hit shows and our enduring hit shows. So we’re going to be running our primetime, some of our shows from primetime during the summer at 11:30.

Q: Why is “Supergirl” a good fit for CBS?

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For ‘MythBusters,’ it’s man or mouse

It was a dozen years ago that Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage started looking at myths and legends with the Discovery Channel’s “MythBusters.” Of the 960 challenges they’ve faced, 516 have been busted. It’s myths they never expected to be true that has surprised them the most.

Hyneman tells TV critics that it was a bit of a shock that elephants are actually afraid of mice.

Savage goes on to explain that were in South Africa filming with great white sharks in False Bay that leap all the way out of the water when they went after the elephant myth.

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Brec Bassinger gets kick out of ‘Bella’

Brec Bassinger grew up in Texas where high school football is almost a religion. Before the 15-year-old actress moved to Los Angeles, she was a cheerleader. Since football is so beloved, the natural question for her was whether the same pressures were put on girls to go into cheerleading.

“I don’t know if it’s, like, assumed that every girl will try out. Because the school I come from, everyone wanted to do volleyball, like very spread out,” Bassinger says during an interview at the television critics tour going on currently in Pasadena. “But I did become a cheerleader.”

It’s a good thing she became a cheerleader because those skills will help the Texans with her new Nickelodeon series, “Bella and the Bulldogs.” It launches at 8 p.m. Saturday, January 17, on the cable channel.

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