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Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Judd Hirsch driven to keep acting

Actors — especially those who specialize in character roles — can keep working long after the retirement age for other professions. Look at Judd Hirsch. He’s 79 and has just signed on to be in the new ABC drama “Forever.” He plays the best buddy to the immortal character portrayed by Ioan Gruffudd.

Hirsch jokes that he’s never grown up enough to have to be coaxed into taking a role.

“Every once in a while the intelligence of a show just grabs me. ‘Numb3rs’ was an extremely intelligent show. You had to have really good writers, and the fact it was about somebody who was in that particular business, I graduated that way in my own life. I was a physicist. To go back into something like math, to me, was an invitation. I loved the idea. I would never have said no, but hopefully they would write for it,” Hirsch says.

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Death hot topic with Alana de la Garza

Each time I chat with Alana de la Garza, the conversation eventually gets around to her work on “CSI: Miami.” She’s gone on to star on other TV shows such as “Law & Order” and “Do No Harm” but its hard to forget how her character of Marisol Delko was written out of the “CSI” series.

She was gunned down after marrying Horatio Caine (David Caruso). Her murder was such a complete surprise the actress continues to have people — like me — talk about it with her.

The bottom line is that while the role on “CSI: Miami” was a big break for her, the departure opened up bigger roles for her in other TV shows. That includes her latest job on the new ABC drama “Forever” as Detective Jo Martinez, one of the youngest officers on the New York Police Department to make homicide detective. She works with Dr. Henry Morgan, the immortal character played by Ioan Gruffudd.

All her work on the different “Law & Ord

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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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Meghan Ory’s fairy tale days not over

The RescueIt was a little disheartening to see >Meghan Ory on the new CBS action series “Intelligence.” It’s not that she does a bad job as the agent assigned to protect the show’s human computer (Josh Holloway). The Canadian actress can handle the action part of the job with ease. What made the casting seem so wrong is that she was just so good on the ABC drama “Once Upon a Time” playing Red Riding Hood/Ruby Lucas.

She tells me there’s nothing to worry about. There’s always a chance she could reprise her role on the ABC series when time permits. If the ratings of “Intelligence” don’t go up, she will have plenty of free time.

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Numerous Oscar-nominated movies in town

BOX OFFICEIf you are looking to get caught up with this year’s Oscar-nominated motion pictures, this is a good weekend to go to the movies. Here are the films that will be playing in local theaters starting Friday and their Oscar nominations:

“American Hustle”: Picture; Actor, Christian Bale; Supporting Actor, Bradley Cooper; Actress, Amy Adams; Supporting Actress, Jennifer Lawrence; Costume Design; Directing, David O. Russell; Film Editing; Production Design; Writing – Original Screenplay.

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Jenny McCarthy will bring new views to ‘The View’

Jenny-Red-Dress-retouched-1373911719The announcement Jenny McCarthy is joining “The View” is really not that big of a surprise. When she launched her VH1 talk show earlier this year, she told TV critics that she finally felt ready to take on the talk task.

“I have been asked to do talk shows, I think, for about the past 15 years out of 20 years out of my career. And I kind of held off until I felt I was ready,” McCarthy says. “The person that kind of poked my interest was Oprah back in the day.”

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Alyssa Milano talks frankly about new series

ALYSSA MILANOIt’s always interesting to see just how candid some actors will be.

Alyssa Milano, who grew up on TV in the comedy “Who’s the Boss?,” is starring in the new ABC drama “Mistresses” that starts June. 3. The series, based on the British series of the same name, follows the love lives of four very good friends. Milano plays a lawyer whose efforts to start a family gets interrupted by another man.

Milano’s no stranger to this kind of sexy material having starred in the TV series “Melrose Place,” the feature film “Poison Ivy II” and the made-for-TV production, “Casualties of Love: The Long Island Lolita Story” as Amy Fisher.

Maybe it’s the fact I watched her grow up on TV, but I didn’t expect Milano to be so willing to reveal so many details when the conversation turns to the sexy nature of the show.

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ABC adding eight shows to schedule

CHLOE BENNET, ELIZABETH HENSTRIDGE, IAIN DE CAESTECKER, CLARK GREGG, MING-NA WEN, BRETT DALTONABC’s 2013-2014 TV schedule will feature eight new shows including “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” from Joss Whedon. Other shows joining the ABC lineup in the fall include “Back in the Game,” “Betrayal,” “The Goldbergs,” “Lucky 7,” “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland,” “Super Fun Night” and “Trophy Wife.”

Returning to the scedule are “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” “The Bachelor,” “Castle,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Last Man Standing,” “The Middle,” “Modern Family,” “Nashville,” “The Neighbors,” “Once Upon a Time,” “Revenge,” “Scandal,” “Shark Tank,” “Suburgatory,” “The Taste” and “20/20.”

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J.K. Simmons likes commercial success

J.K. SIMMONSABC launches “Family Tools” at 8:30 tonight (May 1) and while the comedy has all the laughs of a kitten’s funeral, it does star an actor who always makes projects better merely by being part of the cast. That would be J.K. Simmons.

Don’t be upset if the name doesn’t ring a bell. He’s played everything from a cop boss in “The Closer” to the cigar-chomping newspaper editor J. Jonah Jameson in the “Spider-Man” movies. Simmons is one of those actors who has done so many different TV and film roles, you know him once you see him even if you can’t remember his name.

Simmons might have been better known if he hadn’t been so determined not to appear in a TV commercial while spending all those years as a struggling actor in New York. Theater is great but one well-placed commercial can be seen by as many people as see an entire year’s run of a play.

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Networks announce finale dates

101362_D0030bIn case you want to make your TV viewing plans for the next two months, the networks have announced the season — and in some cases series — finale dates for their programs.

ABC
“The Neighbors,” 8:30 p.m. March 27
“Suburgatory,” 8 p.m. April 17
“Wife Swap,” 8 p.m. May 2
“Red Widow,” 10:01 p.m. May 5
“Splash,” 8 p.m. May 7
“Once Upon a Time,” 8 p.m. May 12
“Revenge,” 9 p.m. May 12
“Castle,”10:01 p.m. May 13
“Grey’s Anatomy,” 9 p.m. May 16
“Scandal,” 10:02 p.m. May 16
“Shark Tank,” 9 p.m. May 17
“America’s Funniest Home Videos,” 7 p.m. May 19
“Dancing with the Stars” (performance show), 8 p.m. May 20
“Dancing with the Stars the Results Show,” 8 p.m. May 21
“The Middle,” 8 p.m. May 22
“Modern Family,” 9 p.m. May 22
“Nashville,” 10 p.m. May 22
“Body of Proof,” 10:01 p.m. May 28

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Observations from a grumpy old man

Justin BieberPeople Lindsay LohanJustin Bieber told his critics through an Instagram message that if they want to talk about someone with a problem them should look at Lindsay Lohan. Note to Bieber. Using Lohan as a yardstick sets the bar impossibly low.

Marvel is working with Ringling Brothers to create circus acts featuring their costumed super heroes. I can see it now. The blind Daredevil will have a knife throwing act, Spider-Man will be on the trapeze and Dr. Xavier will always correctly guess your weight.

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KFSN’s Angelo Stalis sets retirement date

kfsn_bio_angelostalis_160x200KFSN (Channel 30.1) veteran weather forecaster Angelo Stalis, 67, is planning on retiring after 43 years on the air.

Well, he’s sort of retiring.

The official retirement date is May 31 but Stalis plans to be the fill-in for Kevin Musso for at least another year.

It’s going to be hard for Stalis to completely cut his ties with KFSN as he started there in 1970 as an announcer and director. The big move came six years later when he was asked to be a temporarily weather anchor and he’s been manning the weather station ever since.

Stalis is a Fresno High School and Fresno State University graduate.

Lauren Scott bounced from ‘The Taste’

NIGELLA'S KITCHEN: LAUREN SCOTTThe end has come for Lauren Scott, a Buchanan High School graduate, on the ABC reality competition show “The Taste.” She was not named Tuesday night as one of the four competitors who will advance to the finals on the cooking competition series.

The theme of the latest challenge, “Seduction,” required the amateur chefs to create a dish from pre-selected seductive ingredients. Ingrid Hoffman, restaurateur and TV personality, was the guest judge for the night. Scott, a home chef who now lives in Laurel, Miss., failed to impress the panel enough during the blind taste test to keep her in the game.

The show features four celebrity mentors — Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre and Brian Malarkey — who selected four chefs to be on their teams during the initial auditions. Scott was selected to be part of Lawson’s group and was the last member of the original four left standing.

Competition continues at 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Lauren Scott stays in the kitchen

NIGELLA'S KITCHEN: LAUREN SCOTTLauren Scott, the Buchanan High School grad who’s on the ABC reality competition show “The Taste,” has survived another week but it wasn’t easy.

The theme of the fourth challenge was “Head to Tail.” The amateur chefs had to create a dish using less common animal part. The home chef, who now lives in Laurel, Miss, was one of the four competitors who had the worst dishes in this week’s round. Three competitors were sent home but Scott survived the cut.

The show features four celebrity mentors — Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre and Brian Malarkey — who selected four chefs to be on their teams during the initial auditions. Scott was selected to be part of Lawson’s group. She’s the last member of the original four left standing.

Competition continues at 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Observations of a grumpy old man

2011 NBC Upfront PresentationThe comedy world was shocked this week when Christina Applegate announced she was leaving her NBC comedy “Up All Night” at the end of this season. The comedy world was shocked to hear the show was still on the air.

Linda Hamilton will play an assassin on the March 25 episode of “Lost Girl.” For those of you who don’t know the Syfy show, it’s about a succubus whose only concern is to feed off the sexual energy of others. In other words, she’s a Kardashian.

ABC’s “Celebrity Wife Swap” will have Kate Gosselin, of “Kate plus 8” fame,” trading lives with former High Hefner girlfriend Kendra Wilkinson. It’s perfect. Gosselin gets to dump her kids on someone who’s very experienced changing diapers.

Kate Upton is the 2013 Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model. OK. I can’t be grumpy about everything.

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Lauren Scott still cooking on ‘The Taste’

350x260The first night of competition on the ABC reality show “The Taste” could not have gone better for Lauren Scott, the Buchanan High School grad who now lives in Laurel, Miss. Her chicken stew was selected by guest judge Gabrielle Hamilton, chef and owner of Prune in New York, as the winner of the “The Team Taste Test.” The win gave her immunity and moved her ahead to next week’s competition.

The show features four celebrity mentors — Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre and Brian Malarkey — who selected four chefs to be on their teams during the initial auditions. Scott was selected to be part of Lawson’s group.

Because she knew she wasn’t going home, Scott decided to try something different in the “Blind Taste Test” elimination round where four contestants created dishes to be judged in one bite by the mentors. The judges didn’t like her effort .

Micah Kasman from Team Malarkey and Renatta Lindsey from Team Nigella were sent home.

Observations of a grumpy old man

  • Have you seen “Pete Rose: Hits and Mrs.,” the new TLC reality show starring Pete Rose and his fiance, Kiana? It’s so bad that it’s impossible to decide who’s the biggest boob on the show.
  • There are many youth sports that no longer keep score. The concern is that losing a competition might hurt a child’s self-esteem. Then, why is it still OK to have winners and losers when it comes to youth beauty pageants like those on “Toddlers and Tiaras”? That seems like more of a self-esteem problem than keeping score in a baseball game.
  • One of the celebrities who will be on the ABC reality diving competition show “Spash” is Katherine Webb. No word on whether Brent Musburger will be an announcer on the show.
  • The upcoming feature film “Warm Bodies” is about zombies in love. I thought that was what Kristen Stewart was playing in all those “Twilight” films.
  • Time to place your Super Bowl bets. I’m taking a beer commercial to win by a 2-1 margin, although a car commercial has a good chance of being the champ.

Lauren Scott advances in cooking competition

Lauren Scott, a Buchanan High School graduate who now lives in Laurel, Miss., was selected Tuesday night to be one of the competitors on the new ABC cooking reality show “The Taste.”

The 24-year-old — who regularly appeared in local community theater productions with Good Company Players at Roger Rocka’s, Children’s Musical Theaterworks, and CenterStage Clovis — was selected by “The Taste” judge Nigela Lawson to be on her team.

Contestants had to create a dish that was served to the judges in a spoon. The one bite item that earned Scott a place on the show was a Flourless Chocolate Cake.

Before she faced the judges, Scott revealed that her wish was to be on Lawson’s team. It’s a perfect fit as Lawson is the champion for home cooks and Scott has never worked as a professional chef.

Once the remaining contestants are selected, Scott will go into the spoon-to-spoon competition starting Feb. 5 as she tries to win the competition.

Reality stars talk about love, romance

It may not seem like it, but Valentine’s Day is not that far away. Romance can be such a tricky thing, it seemed wise to turn to a few experts — people who found true love through a television show — for some tips.

There have been about 8,000 editions of ABC’s “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” so far and yet not many have found the kind of everlasting relationship that comes from speed dating through a couple dozen of people while cameras capture every intimate moment.

It looked like the show was going to have a good track record with Cupid as Trista Rehn Sutter found love with Ryan Sutter after her turn on the first “The Bachelorette.” The couple is still together after a decade.

Trista says the secret to a good relationship is to do small things for each other. As an example, she points to how she’s currently writing a book and has been under a lot of stress because of deadlines.

“He’s been taking over the reins with the kids and been incredibly supportive,” Trista says. “One morning, he left me a card — and four caramels that I love — that said ‘I support you and I know you can do this.’ It was so sweet.”

Trista loves Valentine’s Day but thinks it’s more important to celebrate romance every day.

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First Lady talks about latest political ‘Scandal’

In a small room, a dozen steps from the Oval Office, the First Lady’s fielding questions about her husband’s health, his lascivious ways and their impending divorce. She’s cool, calm and collected, most likely the result of patterning herself after Jackie Kennedy and Hilary Clinton. That means you should never be caught off guard by her charms because she’s knows every political angle.

At least that’s the way Bellamy Young’s playing First Lady Mellie Grant on the ABC drama “Scandal.” The series — that has the wickedness of both a daytime drama and a political thriller — has turned up the heat in the President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) administration with an attempted assassination, crooked political deals and the impending end of the Grant marriage. Kerry Washington plays the fixer who discovers politics sometimes makes for compatible bedfellows.

As to the possible separation, Young sounds like a typical politician as she prefers to talk about the positives of the pair’s life together.

“The have a great relationship. They are great partners. They function as a team so well,” Young says during an interview on the set of the series. A replica of the Oval Office and adjoining rooms fill the soundstage and create the illusion that the First Lady’s chat is going on in D.C. rather than L.A. “They’ve accomplished so much and they are a well oiled machine in terms of family and profession.”

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A rose is a rose is a badge of honor

It’s easy to sit at home and make fun of how competitors on “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette” get so excited about getting a flower during the Rose Ceremony. It’s very different when you are in one of the actual ceremonies.

During the recent TV Critics tour, members of the press were invited to a party at the house — miles outside Los Angeles — that has been the location for numerous editions of the ABC competition series. It was a chance to talk with past competitors such as Jake Pavelka, Courtney Robertson and Trista Rehn Sutter along with the current “Bachelor” Sean Lowe.

As part of the evening, 13 members of the press — seven women and six men — were selected to go through a Rose Ceremony. Since every rose has a thorn, I was selected to be part of the event.

Lowe’s no fool. He quickly picked the women to get the first roses. Then he began to select the man.

Suddenly, what seemed like a harmless event to have some fun became a serious competition. As the number of men dwindled and I was still left standing, every bad memory of junior high and high school dances came flooding back. What was once a wallflower had become a red rose.

It wasn’t as if the interviews would end should Lowe not hand me a rose, but the event had become a matter of pride. Four men left. Three. And, then two.

There we stood like the two last guys to get selected for a pick-up basketball game. One would be a winner. The other would be forever known as the loser of the press tour. Lowe looked back and forth, the same ploy he uses on the show so that the loser of the week doesn’t see the end coming.

Lowe paused and then said, “Rick.”

Oh, joy. For a few seconds, I was not a loser. Then I realized only a loser would get so competitive about a fake rose ceremony. But, I was a loser with a rose.

ABC looking for breakout hit

Paul Lee, President, ABC Entertainment Group, took his time today in front of the TV critics to admit the network’s fall schedule didn’t go as well as he expected. There was no breakout hit. He’s proud of “Nashville” but the numbers have been so low there should be a country music song written about them.

Here are a few of the other points Lee made:

Out of step: ABC was disappointed the All-Star version of “Dancing With the Stars” didn’t do as strongly as expected. Lee says, “Turns out people like to see bad dancing as much as they do good dancing, but we believe passionately in that franchise.”

Not so weak end: The network put the comedies “Last Man Standing” and “Reba” on Friday nights to recapture some of the interest families had in the network back in the “Full House” days. The surprise has been how popular “Shark Tank” has been with young and old.

King the faith: Lee says airing the comedies “Happy Endings” and “Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23” shows how much the network believes in the shows. “We love those two shows. They are incredibly distinctive. They are water cooler shows. They’re incredibly well written. We didn’t have much place to put them because we can’t put them at 8, so if you look at the nights of the week, really, Tuesday was the only place to do it. So we really thought this is a really nice place and a way slightly a cable play, if you think about it for us to use these slots to raise sampling on those shows and get people to see them.”

Checking out: “Last Resort” failed because it was a male show. It had a very passionate male audience but the show didn’t connect with female viewers.

TV tonight: Two top series launch

127688_4370_ful.JPGTwo of the better shows of the new fall season begin tonight.

“Last Resort,” 8 p.m. KFSN (Channel 30.1): The plot of this new drama about the crew of an American submarine who go into hiding after defying what seems to be false orders has some major holes. It’s hard to believe anything the size of a sub could evade capture in this era of advanced weaponry.

What makes this show work is the casting. Andre Braugher plays the ship’s captain and this incredibly talented actor is so good he could make you believe the sky is green if that’s what he had to do for the role. Braugher is reason enough to watch.

“Elementary,” 10 p.m. KGPE (Channel 47.1): There have been several updated versions of the Sherlock Holmes story. Just like “Last Resort,” what makes this one so entertaining is the casting of Jonny Lee Miller as the super sleuth and Lucy Liu as Watson.

Miller has that look that’s somewhere between genius and madman. That makes him perfect to play the detective who while brilliant, is also one step away from losing it. Liu’s Watson is not the comic relief but a character so strong she could have her own series.

Also, don’t forget the season opener of “Grey’s Anatomy” as it deals with the aftermath of the plane crash.

On TV tonight: Three new shows

127554_764_ful.JPG The launch of new network TV shows continues tonight with three series.

“Animal Practice,” 8 p.m. KSEE (Channel 24.1): Generally, any show where a monkey is the most interesting character would not be worth a look. But, this is a very funny monkey. And while the new comedy about a pet vet (Justin Kirk) has some problems, it is far better than many of the so-called comedies still on the air at NBC.

“Guys With Kids,” 8:30 p.m. KSEE: Keep the guys. Drop the kids. This new comedy starring Anthony Anderson, Jesse Bradford and Zach Cregger is at its best when the adults are the room. There are only so many diaper changing, weird food eating, trouble causing jokes about babies that can be made.

“The Neighbors” 9:30 p.m. KFSN (Channel 30.1): A family moves to a suburban community where all of the other residents are visitors from another planet. The biggest joke is that the aliens have taken the names of famous athletes. It’s like “ALF” but without all the sophistication.

Pamela Anderson’s career takes right steps

129692_4665_pre.jpg Pamela Anderson has always known what she’s wanted to do with her career.

I’ve heard her talk about that over the years through several opportunities to interview her. The first time we talked was in 1995 when she was working on both “Baywatch” and “Home Improvement.” This was before Anderson had become the megastar she is these days and we sat in her trailer at the beach during a break from shooting an episode of the popular lifeguard series for more than an hour. She talked about how excited she was that both TV shows were doing so well and how they were the next step in her career.

Before those shows, her career was mostly guest spots on TV shows and her work for Playboy.

So when she tells me that she didn’t hesitate to go back to “Dancing With the Stars” for the current all-star edition, there was no doubt she jumped at the chance.

“I need structure and disciple to keep me working out,” Anderson, 45, tells me during an ABC party. “It is nerve-wracking but I like being nervous.”

Anderson didn’t decide to come back as a way to show up the other all-stars. She just wants to prove something to herself.

“I have these romantic reasons why I want to do it. I think I’m an unrequited artist. I don’t know what I can do but I know it is more than what I have done,” Anderson says. “I just want to keep experimenting and doing new things.”

Unless Anderson’s fans come through with some big time voting, Anderson may have plenty of time to experiment with other artistic outlets after last night’s less than impressive performance.