Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Michael Rooker big with ‘Walking Dead,’ ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ fans

Michael Rooker has been a journeyman actor for almost 30 years appearing in a wide variety of TV shows and films. None of that work has brought Rooker a tenth of the attention the 59-year-old actor has been getting since he joined the cast of “The Walking Dead.” That attention will get ramped up even more as he stars in the latest big screen comic book-inspired offering, “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

It’s hard to know which group is more rabid: “Dead” fans or comic book movie lovers. Either way, the combination is huge.

As for being part of another big franchise, Rooker smiles and says, “Why not?! Why not?!”

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CBS dealing with late-night, contracts, viewers

Fresno Bee TV critic Rick Bentley is in Los Angeles at the summer TV critics tour. These are his early reports.

Nina Tassler, the Chairman of CBS Entertainment, has some big issues to deal with including changes in both of the network’s late-night programs, the launch of NFL games on Thursday night and a viewership that continues to skew old. It’s easy to face such issues when you are coming off another season as America’s most-watched network. If you are keeping tabs, that’s 11 times in 12 years.

Here’s what Tassler has to say about some of the issues she’s facing with the network:

Why programs like “Friends with Better Lives” and “Bad Teacher” only got a short window to prove their worth: “Every season we have shows that work and shows that don’t work, shows that get traction, others that don’t. And if we didn’t have that cycle, it wouldn’t create opportunity for other shows to get on the air. It’s a part of our ecosystem. Some shows take off, and some don’t.”

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Lucas Black makes big career catch

Fresno Bee TV critic Rick Bentley is in Los Angeles at the summer TV critics tour. These are his early reports.

Nineteen years ago, I found myself, during a CBS party, sitting with a 13-year-old Lucas Black. The Alabama native was making his debut in “American Gothic,” a short-lived drama from Shaun Cassidy. There wasn’t a lot to talk about with the young actor with no credits. I finally asked Black if he was planning to make acting his career or if there was something else he wanted to do.

“I want to be a professional Bassmaster,” Black told be with a southern accent so thick you could spell magnolias.

Fast forward to the current TV tour where Black has shown up to talk about his roll in the new CBS series “NCIS: New Orleans.” He obviously stuck with acting and has rolled up 24 TV and film credits. As for telling me he wanted to be a professional fisherman so many years ago, Black says back he loved to fish so much when he was young that’s why he thought it would be a great career.

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Life peachy for ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ actor

Fresno Bee TV critic Rick Bentley is in Los Angeles at the summer TV critics tour. These are his early reports.

Keep an eye out for actor Joel McKinnon Miller, who plays Scully on the FOX comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” He could be in the Fresno area in the next few weeks.

He’s coming to the area for fruit, specifically peaches from the farm of David Mas Masumoto. The Del Rey author is known for being a peach and grape farmer.

“I adopted a peach tree from him 10 years ago,” Miller says during a chat on the set of the comedy. “Some friends and I share the tree. We will be going up in the next two weekends to pick part the fruit. And, it’s some of the best peaches you have ever eaten in your life.”

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ABC fall schedule more diverse

Fresno Bee TV critic Rick Bentley is in Los Angeles at the summer TV critics tour. These are his early reports.

The thing that jumps out about ABC’s portion of the TV Critics tour is how much the newtork has created more diversity in its prime-time lineup. The new Anthony Anderson comedy “Black-ish” looks at what happens when an unscale family becomes concerned that their children are losing all connections to their ethnic roots.

Then there’s “Cristela,” a new comedy starring Cristela Alonzo. It looks at what happens when a young woman’s ambitions are not in line with what her Hispanic family has in mind.

Here are some other updates for ABC as presented by Paul Lee, President, ABC Entertainment.

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Katherine Heigl still interesting interview

It always seemed a little strange when all of the reports and rumors were spreading that Katherine Heigl was impossibly difficult. It all started with some very negative reports during the end of her run on “Grey’s Anatomy.” Then there was a series of failed romantic comedy movies that didn’t help her image at all.

This never sounded like the Katherine Heigl I interviewed multiple times during the run of “Roswell” from 1999-2002. In fact, I interviewed her so many times during that stretch, I had to stop out of fear she would think I was stalking her. The reason we would chat was because I really liked the show because Chowchilla native Ron Moore wrote numerous episodes and Heigl was always very sweet and interesting during interviews.

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Ian Ziering had doubts about ‘Sharknado’

Tara Reid and Ian Ziering thought they would be working on a rather typical low budget science fiction movie when they got the script for a film called “Dark Skies.” It was only a week later that they learned the name of the low-budget production had been changed to “Sharknado.”

“I really thought I shouldn’t be doing this. I told them to get my off the movie and change my name,” Ziering says. Reid immediately adds that every member of he cast thought making a movie called “Sharknado” was not a good career move.

“We couldn’t put ‘Sharknado’ on our resume. It was going to ruin everything,” Reid says. This coming from someone who starred in the live version of “Josie and the Pussycats.”

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‘Doctor Who’s’ Karen Gillan goes topless for movie role

Fresno Bee TV critic Rick Bentley is in Los Angeles at the summer TV critics tour. These are his early reports.

Karen Gillan, best known for playing Amy Pond on “Doctor Who,” shows up to talk about her new ABC series, “Selfie,” sporting a new haircut. The long flowing red locks she had during her time on the British series has been replaced by a pixie cut.

The change wasn’t for the comedy series where she plays a self-obsessed woman who has countless friends online but none in real life. She’ll get social skills training from the character played by John Cho. Gillan had to cut off all her hair to play Nebula in the upcoming “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie.

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Meredith Vieira high on new talk show

Meredith Vieira came to the TV critics tour to talk about her new daytime series, “The Meredith Vieira Show.” The daily chat show is the latest TV job in Vieira’s career that goes back to 1975. Whether it was “The View” or “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” Vieira has always been a class act. You wouldn’t have guessed she was hiding a wild side.

She had cut back on working in recent years to be home with her 66-year-old husband who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when he was 25.

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NBC exec talks Fox, Emmys, summer shows

Fresno Bee TV critic is in Los Angeles at the summer TV critics tour. These are his early reports.

After several days of cable channels pitching their new shows, the networks have taken over at the TV critics tour. NBC got the ball rolling with a day of talking about their fall offerings. Here are some highlights as presented by Bob Greenblatt, Chairman of NBC Entertainment.

On why “The Michael J.Fox” show didn’t survive past the first year: “We struggled and worked really hard to figure out to bring an audience to that show. Thursday was obviously tough, and we knew that going in. I actually thought Michael, just in and of himself, would help us overcome some of those challenges on Thursday, and I think it just reinforced how difficult a night it is for us as it’s become, which is why we’re making some significant changes this season in Thursday. But we looked at all the signs. It had strong competition, yes, and it was opposite CBS’s lineup.”

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LeAnn Rimes, Eddie Cibrian welcome attention

Fresno Bee TV critic is in Los Angeles at the summer TV critics tour. These are his early reports.

Adultery, divorce, cheating and lying have been common elements for TV shows and country music songs. I guess it makes sense that those elements should be an aspect of a reality TV offering.

VH1 is counting on tabloid darlings LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian being a draw for the cable channel “LeAnn & Eddie” when it debuts at 10:30 p.m. July 17.

If you aren’t aware of their story you must not do the grocery shopping. The pair have been featured in all of the magazines along the checkout line, which covered how Rimes had an affair with Eddie Cibrian. That’s the LeAnn and Eddie of the new show.

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Reality vague world with Nicole Richie

Fresno Bee TV critic is in Los Angeles at the summer TV critics tour. These are his early reports.

It’s about time the definition of “reality” is changed. The term has been so twisted in regards to the endless parade of cable and network programs that are called reality but are as close to being real as LeBron James is to Miami. Nicole Richie – who will one day be in the reality programming hall of fame – has another show that falls in the genre with the VH1 offering “Candidly Nicole.”

Here’s where the reality thing gets blurry. Her new cable series is a look at her real life. but Richie doesn’t see it as a true reality show. She’s calling her new cable series a “real life comedy.’”

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Marin Ireland prepares for ‘The Divide’

Fresno Bee TV critic is in Los Angeles at the summer TV critics tour. These are his early reports.

Actors prepare for roles in a variety of ways. For Marin Ireland, the prep work she did for “The Divide,” the first scripted drama on WE tv, was an internship.

“The Divide” explores morality through the modern justice system. As a worker with The Innocence Initiative, Christine Rosa (Ireland) looks into the case of a death-row inmate she believes was wrongly convicted of a young family’s murder 11 years earlier. She finds new evidence in a search for the truth and confronts an equally passionate district attorney, Adam Page (Damon Gupton).

Ireland did an internship with a legal group similar to where her character works.

“It was about a month or so I saw a lot of different things. The main thing is that it looked and felt different than any other legal atmosphere I’d ever seen on television or in a movie. It was a wide open plan and everybody was sort of bringing things back and forth to each other. And they’re dealing with a lot of emotions at that place. They’ve learned to use each other to cope with those things and to talk to each other,” Ireland says. “There would be moments when a big cheer would go up across the room and then the whole room would kind of cheer and look over the tops of the cubicles to see what’s going on. It was definitely a big very much of a sharing atmosphere.

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Call to ‘Saul’ delayed a bit

Fresno Bee TV critic is in Los Angeles at the summer TV critics tour. These are his early reports.

There’s no question, “Breaking Bad” is one of the biggest things to happen to TV in decades. The AMC series was so popular, you would think that the peole behind the spinoff series, “Better Call Saul,” would be working as if driven by a Meth high to get the new program on the air. That’s not what’s happening. Series creator Vince Gilligan’s a little more laid back than that.

At the annual summer meeting of TV critics tour that’s currently going on in Los Angeles, Gilligan took full responsibility for the series launch being delayed from later this year to an early 2015 start.

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Angela Kinsey latest star to praise Chris Colfer

Chris ColferA false report that Chis Colfer was not going to be on “Glee” next season was sent out by someone who hacked the Clovis East graduate’s Twitter account. Colfer WILL be back for what will be the final season of the FOX series that brought musicals back to television.

The false report did get me thinking about what will life be like for Colfer after the series ends. There’s no need to worry about the local product as he has already branched out into the publishing and feature film worlds. It’s almost a regular occurrence these days that actors I’m interviewing for other projects have worked with Colfer.

The most recent example is Angela Kinsey, formerly of “The Office.” She’s starring in a funny new HULU series, “The Hotwives of Orlando.” Along with her work on “The Office” and this new series, Kinsey appeared in the feature film “Struck by Lightning” that was written by and starred Colfer.

Kinsey played a guidance counselor who didn’t have too many good ideas about dealing with life. She loved the role and getting to work with Colfer.

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Super hero film was ‘Savage’ for Ron Ely

ron-ely-doc-savageI finished a recent interview with Michael Douglas — for his new feature film “And So It Goes” — by asking him about reports he will be in “Ant-Man,” an upcoming film based on another super hero from the Marvel Comics world. Douglas was excited about being in the movie because it’s now the big thing in Hollywood to be in a super hero movie.

In the case of Ron Ely, he played a super hero long before it was cool.

Way back in 1975, Ely — best known for playing Tarzan in the TV series of the same name — starred in the feature film “Doc Savage.” The character was created by Lester Dent for stories that published in pulp magazines during the 1930s and 1940s and later in comic books. Savage was trained by his father trained Savage to near super-human levels.

The movie didn’t do well. When I suggest to Ely — during an interview for his work in the Lifetime movie “Expecting Amish” — that maybe “Doc Savage” was ahead of its time, the actor says that he believes the film was actually a little behind the times.

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Life’s an open book for Bill, Giuliana

People Giuliana RancicIt’s a weird world. On one hand, celebrities want their privacy. On the other hand, some celebrities will throw open the doors to allow camera crews to film their lives. A lot of what happens is just done for the cameras but there are still a lot of personal moments that get shared with the world.

Bill and Giuliana Rancic are among those who have opened their doors to camera crews. The couple — along with their son, Duke — have had a lot of what most people would consider private conversations televised through the E! Network series “Giuliana & Bill.”

Bill says that exposure was something they found challenging at the start and fodder for many discussions.

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President Snow addresses ‘Hunger Games’ worlds

snowIt’s four months before “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” opens in theaters but that hasn’t stopped Lionsgate from getting the buzz started. Their vehicle for hyping the next movie in the film franchise is a series of messages from President Snow (Donald Sutherland).

Snow’s message to the citizens of Panem is that “Never have we been more unified as a nation. The Capitol and the districts are bound together in solidarity, striving to forge a stronger future.” To commemorate this resolve, the Capitol mandates your viewing of Snow’s latest Panem Address: “Unity.”

The next “Hunger Games” movie stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Stanley Tucci, and Julianne Moore.

UPDATE: You can win signed ‘Transfomers’ poster

photo (2)UPDATE: Aileen has been randomly selected to win this poster. Thanks to all who posted comments.

ORIGINAL POST: The latest big summer movie, “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” opened Thursday night. It will be interesting to see if it does as well at the box office now that Mark Wahlberg has taken over the the human hero of the franchise.

In connection with the opening, I have secured a mini poster signed by cast members Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor. She is known for her role on “Bates Motel” and he was in “Delivery Man.” The main thing is that they are the stars of the new “Transformers” movie.

To be in the running to win the poster, all you have to do is leave a comment below telling me whether you are more like an Autobot or Deception. The winner of the poster will be determined by a random drawing of all of those who leave comments by noon July 3. The winner will be notified that day. The poster must be picked up at the Fresno Bee offices. It will not be mailed.

Good luck. Contest rules are below.

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Chris Colfer tweet a hack job

Chris ColferChris Colfer’s Twitter acount was hacked today and the tweet reporting he would no longer be on “Glee” is a total lie, according to his publicist.

Colfer — who earned Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations for his portrayal of Kurt Hummel on the FOX series “Glee” — will be back on the show when the new season opens in 2015.

The Teet said “Due to personal issues, I have been let go from the cast of GLEE. Explanations will come shortly.”


Dane Cook gets pumped for film role

Dane CookI got to sit down with Dane Cook in Yosemite National Park a few days ago to talk with him about reprising his vocal work as Dusty for the “Planes” sequel, “Planes: Fire & Rescue.” Most of what he had to say about voice work and comedy will be the subject of a story closer to the July 18 opening.

One thing that surprised me the most was how fit the comedian looked. The other times I interviewed Cook, he looked like a typical stand-up comedian — a little out of shape and pale from no sunlight. But, this time, Cook looked like he could suit up for a football team or become an MMA fighter.

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Cast reveals secrets of next ‘Apes’ movie

dawn-of-the-planet-of-the-apes-CAST_4_rgbOne of the great things about this job is getting to talk to the people who make movies and find out secrets of their work. I recently had a chance to chat with several cast members from the upcoming “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and discovered some interesting tidbits about making the movie that opens July 11.

The production is the continuation of the story of how apes rise to power. In this film, most of the human races has been wiped out while apes continue to flourish and evolve. Under the direction of Caesar (Andy Serkis), the ape population has found peace in the forests near San Francisco. This peace gets disrupted by a group of humans looking to find a way to restore electrical power to the city.

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‘Tammy’ dream come true for Melissa McCarthy

Melissa McCarthyIdeas for movies come from a lot of places. Many are based on a novel, comic book or old TV program. Believe it or not, there are still writers out there who begin with an original idea and develop it into the script that’s used to film a project. Where those original ideas come from is often surprising.

The inspiration for the script for “Tammy” came to Ben Falcone, writer/director and husband of the film’s star, Melissa McCarthy, while he was sleeping.

“He came down the stairs, having just woken up, saying ‘I just had a weird dream. You go on a road trip with your grandmother.’ It all came out of that,” McCarthy says.

That was six years ago and Falcone and McCarthy turned the dream into a feature film opening July 2 with McCarthy playing the title character. The film also stars Susan Sarandon, Gary Cole and Kathy Bates. McCarthy gets giddy when she talks about sending the script to Bates.

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‘Wheel’ tryouts scheduled for Fresno

Vanna WhiteGet ready to buy a vowel.

“Wheel of Fortune’s” Wheelmobile, the game show’s promotional vehicle, will be in downtown Fresno June 28 and 29. The stop is an effort to find good game players who are energetic, enthusiastic and fun.

Anyone interested in trying to get on the game show that airs locally on ABC30, should show up between 1-5 p.m. at the Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center, 848 M St. Applications will be distributed within Hall III, accessed via the South corridor of the Pre-Function Lobby leading to Hall III. Those who fill out an an application will go into a drawing for the chance to play a simulated version of the game, win prizes and be evaluated as a potential contestant for the broadcast version of the show.

Staff members will begin handing out applications one hour before each show begins. Searches will be held at 1, 2:30 and 4 p.m. with each show lasting about an hour.

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Jennifer Finnigan finds ‘Tyrant’ very appealing

TYRANT - Pictured: Jennifer Finnigan as Molly. CR: Matthias Clamer/FXCanadian actress Jennifer Finnigan stars in the new FX drama, “Tyrant,” from Gideon Raff and Howard Gordon (best known for the series “Homeland”). She plays the wife of a man from a Middle Eastern country who reluctantly returns home to attend his nephew’s wedding. The trip pulls the family back into the dark world of a country under tyrannical rule.

Finnigan’s not had a problem starring in the complicated political thriller despite having starred in several TV comedies over the years. She had only one hard thing to understand.

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