Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Matthew McConaughey didn’t balk at doing TV

Years ago, I had a discussion with a fellow journalist about whether it was better to write about television or film. TV seemed to be the best way to go because not every TV actor will be in a movie but almost every movie actor will work on some TV project. The most recent example was the casting of Matthew McConaughey in the HBO series “True Detective.”

The work McConaughey and Woody Harrelson did in the cable crime thriller earned them both nominations in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series category for “The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards” to be handed out Aug. 25. McConaughey already has picked up honors at the Television Critics Association Awards and the Critics Choice Television Awards for his performance.

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Seth Meyers ready for Emmy hosting duty

Seth Meyers feels more confident stepping into the role of host for “The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards,” airing at 5 p.m. Aug. 25, because he’s been hosting “Late Night” for the past six moths. The late-night NBC program has given him a much broader platform to work on his comic skills than he had during his weekly appearances on “Saturday Night Live.”

“I feel certainly the most ready I’ve ever felt. But I think I’d feel more ready a year from now as well. It’s great to be able to do a monologue every night. That has been so helpful for approaching something like this,” Meyers says. “My skill set is always going to be in the monologue and telling the jokes and the understanding of how much work you have to put into getting a really good monologue to open a show like this.”

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Allison Janney could be double Emmy winner

Unless I’m forgetting someone, the only actor to win two acting Emmy Awards in the same year was Stockard Channing. She did it back in 2002 when she picked up the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role of Abbey Bartlet on “The West Wing” and the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for her work in “The Matthew Shepard Story.”

That feat could be matched this year — by one of Channing’s “West Wing” co-stars.

Allison Janney took home the Emmy for a Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her work on “Masters of Sex” during the Television Academy’s “2014 Creative Arts Emmy Awards” held Aug. 16. She can win a second statue when the remainder of the Emmy Awards are handed out Aug. 25. She’s one of the nominees in the Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy category for her work in “Mom.”

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Death of Robin Williams true tragedy

Robin WilliamsOscar-winner Robin Williams, 63, died this morning according to the Marin County Sheriff’s Office-Coroner Division and his press representative.

I had the honor — and frustration — to interview Robin Williams several times for his film and TV work. The most recent chat was on the set of his CBS comedy, “The Crazy Ones.” It was the return to network television for Williams but that wasn’t enough to keep the comedy on the air past one year.

Every interview with Williams was like trying to ride a bucking bronco being carried through the air on a roller coaster that’s been strapped to a kite without a tail. Sometimes, all you could do was hold on.

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Josh Thomas heart of ‘Please Like Me’

Josh Thomas had some major concerns when he first met with executives from the cable channel Pivot about moving his Australian TV series, “Please Like Me,” to an American market. In a very colorful way he explains that his chief concern was that they might engage him in sexual relations. (Don’t make me spell it out.)

They didn’t.

“They’re just really lovely. They sort of let me do whatever we like. We film it in Australia. They have notes, which we listen to, sometimes. And if I say to them no, I really think this is better, they’re just quite cool about it,” Thomas says. “They’re quite comfortable with the facts that they came into the season six episodes. We’d already made six episodes that they really liked and have never tried to interfere.

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Manish Dayal takes cooking ‘Journey’

Manish Dayal’s not a chef but he plays one in the new feature film “The 100-Foot Journey.” His kitchen skills were pretty limited before being cast in the movie about an Indian family going into direct competition with an established French restaurant in a small town in the south of France.

His cooking skills are still limited. Dayal just has a better understanding of the world where the preparation of food is treated with great passion.

“The nature of a kitchen in France versus the nature of a kitchen in India is very different. And, I think more importantly, what I had to learn was understanding how it works, rather than how to make the food because of course we did both. Understanding how to function in a kitchen is very important,” Dayal says.

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Event celebrates Filipino history

“Magandang Corazon,” an event honoring the historical role of Filipinos during the Farm Labor Movement, will be held from 3-7 p.m. Aug. 9, at the administration building of Fresno City College, 1101 E University Ave. It is free to the public.

Activities will include an educational workshop for those 7-11 years old that will run from 3-5:30 p.m. plus a pot luck meal. Those attending are urged to bring food and non-alcoholic drinks.

There will be screening of “The Delano Manongs,” a new documentary by Emmy-wining director Marissa Aroy. It tells the little known story of a group of Filipino farm workers who started the “Great Grape Strike” in 1965. They joined forces with other ethnic workers to form the United Farm Workers Union (UFW), a union known mostly as a Mexican American union with Cesar Chavez as its leader.

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‘Guardians’ role grows on Vin Diesel

If you hear a lot of people saying “I am Groot” you’ll know they have been to see the new “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie. Groot is a tree-like character who can break a few limbs as well as plant the seeds of a lasting friendship. The character is computer generated but it was Vin Diesel who provided the voice.

Guardians of the Galaxy

This is Diesel’s first movie based on a Marvel Comics character, a topic that has been discussed for years through social media. The problem was Diesel’s schedule was so hectic, he could not block out the six months needed to make the big action movie.

He was a little surprised when he was approach to be in “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

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Role sounds right to Charlotte Le Bon

Charlotte Le Bon, who stars in the new feature film “The 100-Foot Journey,” grew up in Quebec. The film takes place in a small town in the south of France where her character works at a sous chef at a well known French restaurant.

The French spoken in Canada and France is not quite the same. She compares it to how Americans and the British both speak English. The basics are the same but there are plenty of differences.

Speaking French the way the French do for the movie was no problem for Le Bon as she’s been living in Paris for five years. During that time, her accent changed. It also helped that when she played Victoire Doutreleau in the film “Yves Saint Laurent,” she had to drop her Quebecois accent, because her character wasn’t Quebecois.

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UPDATE: You can win Fresno Filmworks tickets

The randomly selected winner of the Fresno Filmworks tickets is dave filipczak . Thank you to everyone who responded.

ORIGINAL POST: This month’s presentation by Fresno Filmworks, “Life Itself,” looks at the life of film critic Roger Ebert. Screenings will be at 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Tower Theatre, 815 E Olive Ave.

Director Steve James looks at both Ebert’s career and his health battles. It’s based on Ebert’s memoir.

You can win a pair of tickets to see the film.

The winner of the tickets will be determined by a random drawing of all of those who leave comments by noon Aug. 7. The winner will be notified that day. The winner gets one pair of tickets.

Good luck. Contest rules are below.

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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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