Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

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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CW success comes in a ‘Flash’

The CW kicked off the network portion of the TV Critics Winter Press Tour. In the past, the news hasn’t always been good but the CW has found a formula that is working. “The Flash” is it’s highest rated show ever and the upcoming “iZombie” looks like a solid hit.

Mark Pedowitz, President of the CW Network, met with critics for a mid-season state of the CW talk. Here are some of the highlights.

QUESTION: Is this the last season of “Hart of Dixie”?

MARK PEDOWITZ: Not necessarily. We’re going to see the ratings. We were happy to launch the show in December. It was a little fun holiday gift for the fans as well as getting an opportunity to see how it plays with “Jane the Virgin.” It starts its next original run this coming Friday. We are happy to see how it plays. If it ends, there’s a great finale. If it doesn’t end, there’s a great season finale, but we’re not committed one way or the other yet.

Q: Are you looking at any more DC properties, and are you looking at any other Warner’s properties? Have you ever had discussions about “Lord of the Rings” or anything out of that universe as a series?

MP: We’ve had no discussions on “Lord of the Rings.” I believe that’s a very strong theatrical property that is staying put at the moment with the studio and the feature film side. In terms of DC properties, we are having some preliminary discussions in terms of expanding “The Flash”/”Arrow” universe, but we have not yet fully vetted them out, and that’s really about the extent I can talk about it.

Q: If and when there were to be another “Star Trek” series, would you go afetr it for the CW?

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‘Downton Abbey’ season opener hot affair

Unless you have been cheating and looking at episodes of “Downton Abbey” that have already aired in England, you finally can watch a episodes from season five starting at 9 p.m. Jan. 4 on Channel 18.1.

If your plan is to watch the entire season of the popular series, you can’t miss the opener. There aren’t a lot of big moments, but the episode does build a very firm foundation for an interesting year.

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“Hillbillies” star, Donna Douglas, dies

One of the great joys of this job has been the chance to interview actors I watched on TV when I was younger. And, yes there was TV when I was younger.

Generally, it has been a good experience as the actor will talk about what it was like to work in TV long before the era of DVDs, On Demand and the countless other ways to watch programming.

There were a couple of opportunities over the years to talk with Donna Douglas, who played Elly May Clampett, on “The Beverly Hillbillies.” The actress died Thursday at the age of 81.

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Be afraid of TV’s naked ways


The idea people will eat odd foods, expose their love lives, show their questionable parenting skills or act stupid in so many ways just to get some money from a reality or game show has reached absurd levels.

Dignity does have a price and it isn’t that high.

This defect in humanity has been magnified by TV shows where the contestants are naked. It’s weird enough that strangers will show up at a nice resort to date in the nude. It’s a completely different thing when contestants are dropped in some isolated spot to try and survive 21 days with nothing – not even the clothes on their backs.

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Canizales just miss winning ‘Fight’

It was close but the Canizales family of Sanger did not win Monday night’s edition of the ABC reality competition show, “The Great Christmas Light Fight.” The winner – the Setti family of Norwalk, Conn.  – took home the $50,000 prize and the trophy.

Judge Sabrina Soto said on the telecast the winner among the four houses in contention was determined by one point.

The Canizales gave it their best shot. Each year the family has added to a display that started with three snowmen.

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Gorham would cast ‘Practice’ buddy

Most actors who star in a TV show have a wish list of  performers with whom they would like to work. In the case of Fresno’s Christopher Gorham, star of the USA Network series, “Covert Affair,” the list of actors he would like to see as a guest star on the spy show is rather long.

He says it’s as lengthy as his leg. But, the name at the top of that list is someone he worked with almost a decade ago when he starred on the short-lived CBS comedy “Out of Practice.”

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Scott Adsit sounds off on ‘Big Hero 6′

Generally, it’s easy to recognize the celebrity hired to provide a voice for an animated movie. Was there any question as soon as you heard Buzz Lightyear that Tim Allen was the guy talking for the space toy?

That’s why producers spend the extra money to get a known actor rather than turning to the people who do voice work for a living. They bank on those who are fans of the famous actors to show up to hear their work.

No matter how good your ear is when it comes to picking out actors doing voices, there’s no way you could have guessed who does the talking for Baymax in “Big Hero 6” unless you stayed to read the closing credits.

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Fresno family wins ABC ‘Light Fight’ holiday decoration competition

The Alexanders, who live on Fresno’s Christmas Tree Lane, were the big winner in Monday night’s telecast of the ABC competition series, “The Great Christmas Light Fight.” They picked up a trophy and $50,000 for their holiday decorations.

Each of the six episodes (airing back to back for three weeks) looks at four families competing to transform their homes for the holidays. A winner of the $50,000 grand prize will be selected in each episode. The Alexanders were determined to be the winner by judge Sabrina Soto from “Extreme Home Makeover: Home Edition.”

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Martin singing praises of job

One of the big hits from the fall season, “The Flash,” is hiding a secret. If there is ever a musical showdown with other TV programs, the cast would be able to put together an all-star team.

Series star Grant Gustin has an extensive musical theater background but the heavyweight musical member of the group is Jesse L. Martin. You might not be aware of his singing credentials as Martin has been playing TV detectives – first on “Law & Order” and now on “The Flash.”

He showed a little of that skill with his guest starring role on “Smash.”

But, his breakthrough came in Jonathan Larson’s Broadway musical “Rent” in 2005. He reprised the role in the feature film version of the musical.

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Elisabeth Harnois dives into death duties

There are some actors who just look like they are always having fun. That’s the feeling I get watching Elisabeth Harnois on “CSI.” Even when her character, Morgan Brody, is digging through disgusting remains of a crime scene, it always looks like the actress is enjoying the job.

“That’s because I am,” Harnois tells me at a CBS/CW/Showtime party. “Part of that is because I have a little bit of a morbid side. I’ve always loved horror.”

She got to explore that side after being cast. Many of the “CSI” actors have gone to a real morgue to observe an autopsy and Harnois wanted that experience.

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