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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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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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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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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New network shows continue to fall

Six new programs for the 2014-2015 network TV season have been canceled and several more are in trouble. The latest casualty is the FOX series, “Red Band Society,” that will end with 13 episodes.

It joins the previously canceled “Selfie” and “Manhattan Love Story” on ABC; “Utopia” on FOX; and “A to Z” and “Bad Judge” on NBC. Although it has not been officially axed, production on NBC’s “Constantine” has been halted with 13 episodes. Its full fate won’t be known until the 2015-2016 schedule is announced.

This goes along with the plug being pulled on the CBS comedy “The Millers.”

If you are making bets on which shows will go next, the leading contender is “Mulaney” on FOX where the season order was cut to 13.

It’s important for the networks to cultivate new shows because a lot of long-running series will end this year including “Glee,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Parenthood” and “The Mentalist.” Things are looking a little rocky when it comes to “CSI” as its season has been cut to 18 episodes.

The loss of these veteran shows will create a lot of holes in the 2015-2016 schedule.

TV comedies no laughing matter

Five network shows launched for the 2014-2015 season have already been canceled.

 It was no surprise that “Utopia” was the first new series to get the ax. The idea of putting a group of strangers in a remote location and letting them build a society was neither original nor interesting. It was a joke.

And speaking of jokes, the other four canceled shows were comedies (or at least described themselves as comedies).

ABC ended “Selfie” and “Manhattan Love Story” while NBC pulled the plug on “Bad Judge” and “A to Z.” Of the four, “Bad Judge” had the most potential but not enough to survive.

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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.

“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.