Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

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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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.

Woodard offers new political view

When the producers of the new Katherine Heigl political series, “State of Affairs,” were putting the show together they could have gone the easy route and had the President be played by a white male. They could be creative and either have the President be a woman or a different ethnicity.

They elected to do both casting the talented Alfre Woodard as the President. She has both a professional connection to Heigl’s character who is a high level CIA analyst and through her son.

Woodard loves that the role wasn’t cast in a safe way.

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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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Debra Messing with cop drama series

Mention Debra Messing’s name and most people will remember her from her long run on “Will & Grace” or her recent series, “Smash.” You’re a real Messing fan if you also remember she was on the ABC cop drama “NYPD Blue.” She didn’t play a police officer but at least she got to see how such procedural shows are put together.

That’s coming in handy now that she’s starring in her own police drama, “The Mysteries of Laura.” Messing’s playing a first-rate police officer who isn’t quite as skilled when it comes to her home life. Cut her some slack. Laura’s two young sons are so bad even Mary Poppins would take off in a huff.

Messing goes into the series having been an avid watcher of televised trials because of her fascination with the judicial system.

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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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Howie Mandel defends weird, odd

America's Got Talent - Season 9One of the big questions I always have when I’m watching “America’s Got Talent” is why certain acts get in front of the judges. One of the biggest knocks they will make about a performer is that they don’t have a “million dollar act.” That means a guy getting shot out of a cannon once is fun but isn’t the kind of performance that would work nightly as a Las Vegas show.

Judge Howie Mandel explains that even when an act doesn’t have the million dollar qualities, that doesn’t mean it’s a failure. To him, it’s all about capturing the attention of the viewing public.

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Concert announcement: Blake Shelton at the Save Mart Center Sept. 11

sheltonCountry superstar and TV singing-competition coach Blake Shelton announced round two of his “Ten Times Crazier” tour, which includes a Sept. 11 date at the Save Mart Center.

Shelton, who’s been CMA’s best male vocalist for four consecutive years, is touring in support of the platinum-selling “Based on a Truth Story…,” which was released last March. The Band Perry, Neal McCoy, and Dan + Shay will join Shelton for the 20-plus dates, which includes shows at Madison Square Garden, Wrigley Field and the Hollywood Bowl.

“I cannot wait to get back out on the road,” says Shelton, who has been a judge on NBC’s “The Voice,” since its inception and has produced three of the show’s five winners. “I had so much fun playing songs from ‘Based On A True Story…’ and getting to see the crowd’s reaction to those songs was unforgettable. It is one of the most validating things for an artist like me, to have people sing along to your songs. It means what I’m doing is right and no matter what I’m doing, whether it is ‘The Voice’ or a TV special, absolutely nothing compares to playing live for me,” he says.

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UPDATE: You can win ‘America’s Got Talent’ front-of-the-line passes

America's Got Talent - Season 9

UPDATE: The winners of the front of the line passes for this weekend’s tryouts for “America’s Got talent” are: Wayne, Kyle, Dan, Alexas and Tori. Thank you to all who left comments.

ORIGINAL POST: Producers of the NBC competition series “America’s Got Talent” are so interested in attracting potential contestants from the Central San Joaquin Valley, they have provided front-of-the-line passes for the tryouts scheduled for Saturday and Sunday in Los Angeles. Season nine will be broadcast this summer on NBC.

Don’t miss this chance because you don’t think you aren’t a strong enough singer or dancer. Andrew Ward, one of the shows producers, says they are looking for all ages and talents from 5-year-old magicians to 90-year-old rappers. The only guideline is that the talent can must be suitable for a family friendly TV show.

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‘Parenthood’ story line stayed with Potter

Parenthood - Season 4For those of you who have been missing NBC’s “Parenthood,” new episodes begin airing at 10 p.m. Thursday. It’s hard to watch that show and not think about how unfair it was that Monica Potter didn’t get an Emmy nominations for her performance last year. It was marvelous work in the episodes where her character, Kristina Braverman, battled cancer.

To be fair, it was a tough year when it came to narrowing the field of strong performances down to a handful of nominees. Potter got bumped out of contention by Vera Farmiga, Clare Danes, Connie Britton, Elisabeth Moss, Michelle Dockery, Robin Wright and Kerry Washington.

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Chris Pratt cautious about comic book role

DELIVERY MANIt wouldn’t be smart to cast me in a movie based on a comic book. It would be impossible not to brag to everyone if there was any chance that the character could become an action figure. That would be so great.

That’s why I thought Chris Pratt, who stars on the NBC series “Parks and Recreation” — and can be seen in the upcoming comedy film “Delivery Man” — would be shouting about a pending action figure. Pratt will to enter the world of comic book movies when “Guardians of the Galaxy” is released in 2014. He has just spent five months in England filming the movie where he plays Peter Quill.

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Trace Adkins already feels like ‘Apprenctice’ winner

Trace AdkinsThe winner of this season’s “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice” will be announced May 19 and it all comes down to magician Penn Jillette and musician Trace Adkins.

Win or lose, Adkins is happy he’s been on the reality competition show twice. He’s convinced that its introduced him to people who weren’t fans of his music.

“They like the way I represented myself on the show and that made them start listening to my music,” Adkins tells me during an NBC party. It’s loud in the hotel lounge but Adkins has the kind of deep voice that can be easily heard. “I have people who come up to me in airports and the TV show is the only place they know me from.

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Megan Hilty’s TV days a ‘Smash’ hit for her

MEGAN HILTYIt wasn’t a shock when NBC announced there would be no third act for “Smash” canceling it after only two seasons. Once original episodes of a show get moved to Saturday, the end is near. If you want to see what will now be the series finale, it will air at 9 p.m. May 26 on KSEE (Channel 24.1).

The series became a little confusing in the second season, especially for those of us who aren’t followers of the theater. Often, it felt like there comments made that only those who have love the theater would understand.

The biggest thing I got out of the two seasons was getting to see and hear Megan Hilty as Ivy Lynn. I never got to see her stage work in “Wicked” or “9 to 5: The Musical” but was lucky enough to get to be introduced to her through the TV series. When I ran into Hilty at an NBC party, I told her that there are three female artists who give me goosebumps when I hear them sing — Audra McDonald, Kristin Chenowith and her.

After thanking me for the compliment, we talked about TV, how tough it is to work on Broadway and her new album.

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Matthew Perry’s ‘Go On’ won’t

TV-NBC Sneak PreviewsThe networks will announce all of their new lineups for the 2013-2014 season starting Sunday with NBC. But, the Associated Press already is reporting a few of the changes for the Peacock Network.

It looks like Matthew Perry just can’t find the long-running success he had on “Friends” as his “Go On” has been canceled after one year. The cancelation follows one-year runs for Perry’s “Mr. Sunshine” and “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.”

During my interview with John Cho on Wednesday for the upcoming “Star Trek Into Darkness,” the actor who plays Sulu said he had not heard about the fate of “Go On,” where he was a series regular.

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Observations from a grumpy old man

Randy Jackson, Ryan SeacrestIt looks like Randy Jackson will be leaving “American Idol.” Why shouldn’t he join the millions of viewers who have already left the show?

“The Great Gatsby” is getting such bad reviews, it will be release on DVD under the title, “The Not So Great Gatsby.”

Amanda Bynes wants to create a clothing line. I’ve seen the photos the former child actor has been releasing of herself. My question is — what clothing?

The networks will announce their 2013-2014 lineups next week. You only have a few days to begin really liking a TV show before it gets canceled.

Speaking of cancellations, a new photo of “The Walking Dead” was just released. It’s not a pic of the cast of “Community.”

Observations from a grumpy old man

Lindsay LohanSaturday is “Free Comic Book Day.” Considering how bad some of the recent DC Comics have been, they should have a “Here’s a Dollar to Take Our Free Comic Books Day.”

It’s also the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. The race is called the most exciting two minutes in sports. The same could be said of all the good playing time by the Los Angeles Lakers in the recent playoffs.

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Omarosa at odds with other celebrities

OmarosaBefore this season’s “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice” started on NBC, several of the contestants met with TV critics to talk — in vague terms — about the show. The one thing that was clear was the dislike of many of the celebrity players for pseudo star Omarosa Manigault.

Correct that. Like Cher, Bono and Adele, Omarosa believes her star power is so bright she only needs to use one name. Oddly enough, some of her fellow players had other names for her.

It looked like the other players were ready to run her out of town when Omarosa said, “We have a rule called ‘Leave it in the boardroom,’ which means you go in the boardroom, you fight for your life, you fight for your charity, and you’re supposed to leave it in the boardroom.”

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Observations from a grumpy old man

iKISSmage003NBC has launched the new series “Hannibal.” Great. All we needed was another cooking show.

It’s official. Jimmy Fallon will replace Jay Leno next year. Conan O’Brien won’t believe it until he sees it. And even then, he’ll take a wait and see attitude.

It sounded like the Hallmark Channel was taking a weird direction in programming when it announced a new show that would include three hours of catfights. Come to find out, it’s the “Kitten Bowl,” a special where real small cats will frolic for three hours.

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Some TV shows remain real mysteries

42One of the worst things about television is how a series will end without revealing the truth behind some big mystery. I’m still trying to find out the secrets of the 1967 series “Coronet Blue.” Frank Converse played a man who was shot and his body dumped in the river. He doesn’t die, but loses his memory. The only thing he can remember is the phrase “Coronet Blue.”

There have been other shows that have caused such anguish. What was really going on in “Tru Calling?” Where was “FlashForward” headed? Did Alf escape?

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Leno leaving, Fallon taking over

Jay LenoJay Leno’s leaving his late-night NBC talk show job again — and this time it looks like he’s done for good. NBC announced Leno, longtime host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” will be leaving in spring 2014 after 22 years.

Jimmy Fallon, host of NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” will take over “The Tonight Show” duties. Fallon’s replacement on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” at 12:35 a.m. has not been announced.

In an NBC press release regarding the change, Leno says, “Congratulations Jimmy. I hope you’re as lucky as me and hold on to the job until you’re the old guy. If you need me, I’ll be at the garage.”

As part of the change, after decades originating from the West Coast, “The Tonight Show” will return to New York where it will be executive produced by Lorne Michaels, the man behind “Saturday Night Live.”

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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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Time to celebrate ‘Grimm’ return

GrimmOne of my favorite network shows returns at 9 p.m. tonight when new episodes of “Grimm” begin airing on KSEE (Channel 24.1). If you haven’t been watching, the series takes a modern look at classic Grimm Brothers’ Fairy Tales as told through the “Grimm,” Portland Homicide Detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli), whose job it is to keep all the weird creatures in line.

The Grimm has been dealing with his own problems at home as his fiancée, Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch), has become bewitched by Burkhardt’s boss. That’s where tonight’s story line begins.

Tulloch has had to deal with extremes during the first two seasons of ‘Grimm.” In the first year, she was Burkhardt’s loving support. This year, she’s been a woman obsessed — not of her own free will — with another man. The actress liked the first season because she was then only person on the show who wasn’t in law enforcement or had a weird power.

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NBC is proud as a peacock

NBC kicked off the network portion of the TCAs and actually had a few things to brag about, something that’s not been the case in recent years. The success of new shows such as “Revolution” and “Go On” combined with winning ratings performances by “The Voice” have the networks talking in positive terms.

Here are a few highlights of the NBC executive session.

Fountain of ratings youth: NBC is the only broadcast network that’s getting younger. The average age of NBC viewers is now at 48.4 years old, down from 49. CBS is at 56.4, which is up from 54.9. ABC is at 53.2, and Fox is at 45.7, which is up from 45.6. Even The CW is up to 41.2, which is almost four years higher than last season.

On Jimmy Kimmel’s move at 11:30 p.m. on ABC: The network execs wouldn’t predict how the ratings wars would go but admitted it will be a very competitive late night not just because of all the late-night network talkers but also because of the cable talk shows. As expected, the NBC brass expect Jay Leno to remain strong.

If you make it, they will come: No one at NBC is worried about the huge gap between the end of the first group of episodes for “Revolution” and the return in the spring. There should be some concern as there have been of shows that lost audiences – remember “Alcatraz”? – because of huge breaks.

Silence of the critics: The NBC executives went on the defensive about how the networks seem to be in love with stories about vicious killers. The topic came up because NBC will add “Hannibal,” this year, a TV telling of the Hannibal Lecter story. This goes along with FOX launching “The Following” and all the creepiness of “Criminal Minds” on CBS. Chairman of NBC Entertainment, Robert Greenblatt, said, “Look, I’m not a psychologist, so I’m not sure you can make the leap from a show about serial killers has caused the sort of problem with violence in our country and there’s many, many other factors, from mental illness to guns.”

On life support: NBC’s “Up All Night” has never garnered great ratings. But, instead of just killing the Will Arnett-Christina Applegate show, the series keeps getting tweaked. More changes are coming.

Katherine LaNasa could have killer role

The new NBC mystery-drama “Deception” starts tonight and most of the attention will be on the murder and figuring out who is the killer. If you had to place a bet, put some money on Katherine LaNasa’s role as Sofia Bowers. Her hard-drinking, social-climbing character certainly comes across as someone who would consider murder if it proved beneficial to her. She describes the way she’s playing Sofia – the family matriarch – as “three degrees — low hell, half drunk, and having a hot flash. When I feel like I’m in that zone, then I’m Sophia, and it was about kind of finding that stormy sea that is this person.”

The character’s a contradiction the way LaNasa’s plays her: “I think she has a lot of integrity despite being an alcoholic.”

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