Barbra Streisand's Timeless: Live from the MGM Grand is not merely a career retrospective - it's a life retrospective, and a show rather than a concert. The opening scene is 1955, with a young singer (ably played by Lauren Frost) finding her voice. As she wistfully begins "Something's Coming," the grown-up Streisand joins in to an electrifying ovation and proceeds to take us on a journey through her life: the torchy period ("A Sleepin' Bee"), the Broadway period ("Don't Rain on My Parade"), the movie period ("Evergreen"), the Sondheim period ("Putting It Together"), and the James Brolin period ("I've Dreamed of You"). She also recalls through video clips several duets before she sings "I've Got a Crush on You" with a clip of Frank Sinatra, and debuts a new song by Marvin Hamlisch and Alan and Marilyn Bergman, "Simple Pleasures," then counts us down to the new year (or new millennium, depending on your math).
Timeless: Barbra Streisand Live in Concert (2001) (TV)
If you never wanted to see or hear Jerry Springer sing, then DON'T watch this. His singing voice is terrible but this show was actually not too bad, if that's any recommendation. Loaded with clips, bloopers, outtakes and audition tapes it's possible you'll be surprised more than a few times. A notch up from mediocre, worth the watch if you're a fan of all things Hollywood.
Conceived in 1978 by several friends, including Peter Apanel, Ted Wright, Charles "Skip" Finnell, among others, sitting in a bar called "Chromo's" (which no longer exists) in Pasadena, as an irreverent alternative to the traditional formality of the Rose Parade, which is also held in Pasadena. In 1978, January 1st fell on a Sunday, and the Rose Parade, which typically takes place on January 1, will not march on a Sunday. So they decided it would be fun to have an alternate parade on January 1 that year. Some of the early participants were Wright as first Grand Marshall, Snotty Scotty and the Hankies, The Lawn Mower Drill Team, The Briefcase Drill Team and General Hershey Bar, among many others. It was the first Pasadena Doo Dah Parade.
From November of 1990 this is the first televised broadcast of the notable parade. The historic, now defunct KCOP-13 displayed extraordinary balls and showed this live without any fancy delays or anything. Suffice it to say, no network big or small would ever do this in the present. This is expressionism and free-flowing creativity at it's American best. Everyone's favorite Richard Simmons and everyone's favorite for real Vicki Lawrence are the hosts, very obviously working sans script but bringing plenty of off the cuff funny. This is SO much fun and still holds up nicely after 20 years.
As of this writing The Comedy Store is still alive and kickin'. Should we anticipate a 40th birthday celebration next year? We can hope because this was a fantastic, now legendary gathering of some of the greatest. It's all good, front to back, but seeing Sam K. in his glory certainly brings the memories. And if you've ever wanted to see Jim Carrey naked stay tuned. Seriously.
The Comedy Store's 20th Birthday (1992) (TV)
Cast: Jim Carrey, David Letterman, Louie Anderson, Jeff Altman, Richard Pryor, Sam Kinison, Bob Saget, Sandra Bernhard, Pauly Shore, Garry Shandling, Arsenio Hall, Damon Wayans, Whoopi Goldberg
Songwriter Burt Bacharach has been writing tunes that blend pop hooks with intelligence and sophistication since the 1950s, and this special concert, staged at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom, features a variety of major stars from pop, rock, country, and R&B paying tribute to his genius, with Bacharach on hand and leading the orchestra. Burt Bacharach: One Amazing Night features guest performances from Sheryl Crow, Wynonna Judd, Chrissie Hynde, Luther Vandross, Dionne Warwick, Elvis Costello, Mike Myers, Barenaked Ladies, and many more. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
Burt Bacharach: One Amazing Night (1998) (TV)
Cast: Burt Bacharach, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, George Duke, Ben Folds, Chrissie Hynde, Wynonna Judd
A look at members of the ABC Network family who desperately wanted children and whose lives have been transformed by adoption. The special marks the first time Walters' daughter Jackie speaks publicly about being adopted and what it is like being the daughter of Barbara Walters. Connie and Maury, Rosie O, disgraced former ABC newsanchor Carol Simpson and others are here to share their stories. My favorite segment is a great story about a rogue Romanian orphanage and an inadvertent adoption. Just amazing.
On Thursday, February 15th 2001 (and replayed on March 19), the Fox TV network aired a program called "Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?", hosted by X-Files actor Mitch Pileggi. An hour long program, it featured interviews with a series of people who believe that NASA faked the Apollo moon landings in the 1960s and 1970s. The biggest voice in this is Bill Kaysing, who claims to have all sorts of hoax evidence, including pictures taken by the astronauts, engineering details, discussions of physics and even some testimony by astronauts themselves. One of the program's conclusion was that the whole thing was faked in the Nevada desert (Area 51). According to them, NASA did not have the technical capability of going to the Moon, but pressure due to the Cold War with the Soviet Union forced the deception.
Some of the main questions and topics:
- The likelihood of success was calculated to be so small that it is inconceivable the moon landings could have actually taken place.
- Every Apollo mission before number 11 was plagued by about 20,000 defects apiece. Yet, with the exception of Apollo 13, NASA claims there wasn't one major technical problem on any of their Moon missions.
- The poor video quality of the first moon landings was a deliberate ploy so nobody could properly examine it.
- There can't be any pictures taken on the Moon because the film would melt in the 250° temperatures.
- Every Apollo photograph appears to be perfectly composed, focused and exposed, despite the fact the astronauts used cameras without viewfinders and light meters.
- The black sky should be full of stars, yet none are visible in any of the Apollo photographs.
- The astronauts should have seen a beautiful star-filled sky above them, yet they never mention it.
- There are several photographs of objects that are in shadows, yet they appear lighted and with surprising detail. Objects located in shadows should appear totally black.
- In many photographs the shadow side of the astronauts appear illuminated, while the shadow side of rocks appear totally black.
- Shadows cast on the lunar surface should be parallel. Some shadows in the Apollo photos are not parallel indicating more than one light source, thus the photos are fakes.
- Many Apollo photographs show lighting "hot spots", as well as a darkening of the surface toward the horizon. Sunlight should not produce hot spots, nor should the surface fade in an airless environment.
- Only two men walked on the Moon during each Apollo mission, yet there are photos in which the astronaut reflected in the visor has no camera. Who took the shot?
- Not one still photograph matches the video footage, yet NASA claims both were shot at the same time.
- Some of the Apollo video shows the American flag fluttering. How can the flag flutter when there is no wind on the airless Moon?
Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon? (2001) (TV)
Cary Grant is the most represented actor with eight films on the list. The Marx Brothers and Woody Allen star in five films. Spencer Tracy, Buster Keaton, Charles Chaplin and Bill Murray each star in four films.
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs: America's Funniest Movies (2000) (TV)
A music special commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Motown recording label. The program features recording artists, as well as comedians and actors who have been influenced by the Motown sound. Taped before an audience at the world famous Pantages Theatre, this is a live musical tribute celebrating the achievements of entertainers from the late 1950s to 1990.
Personally, this is one of my favorites. A fantastic line-up with everyone's favorite, Whoopi as our host. From the first seconds the excitement builds as a full-blown college marching band comes down Vine and takes a raucous and rowdy left on Hollywood Boulevard aiming for their eventual target, the Pantages Theatre. And no side door cast and crew entrance here, this marching band goes through the front doors, into the lobby and down the main aisle blasting and blairin'. One of the all-time classic entries, from the opening shot it runs over 3 minutes! And this is before any musical acts, before the first words are spoken. Which, by the way, are hilarious. You'll understand, it's classic Whoopi. Anything, and I mean ANYTHING with both Gladys and Patti is okay in this household.
Motown 30: What's Goin' On! (1990) (TV)
Cast: Brandon Quintin Adams, Debbie Allen, Michael Bolton, Tracy Chapman, Natalie Cole, Kim Coles, Terence Trent D'Arby, Wilhelmenia Fernandez, The Four Tops, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert Guillaume, Heavy D, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Smokey Robinson, Sinbad, Meshach Taylor, The Temptations, Lily Tomlin, Robert Townsend, Denzel Washington, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Stevie Wonder
By Gail Mitchell Billboard updated 4/6/2004 5:19:02 PM ET
LOS ANGELES — Gladys Knight’s searing version of “Neither One of Us” and Smokey Robinson and newcomer Joss Stone’s cover of the Miracles R&B/pop classic “I Second That Emotion” are among the highlights of the upcoming ABC television special “Motown 45.”
Taped Sunday night at Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium, the special celebrates Motown Records’ hit-filled legacy, pairing the label’s original artists and contemporary singers with timeless Motown songs.
Co-hosted by Lionel Richie and Cedric the Entertainer, the event sported such notables as Dick Clark, the Backstreet Boys, comedian George Lopez and ’N Sync’s Joey Fatone introducing the various segments.
Though such key Motown players as Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and Rick James were missing, the taping still managed to serve as a mini-family reunion. Acts such as Martha Reeves & the Vandellas and Thelma Houston were able to catch up with former labelmates the Four Tops, Commodores and original Supremes Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong, as well as formidable backing band the Funk Brothers.
Performances taped on Sunday included Destiny’s Child’s Kelly Rowland teaming with Wilson and Birdsong on a Supremes medley and with Richie on “Endless Love,” and Michael McDonald covering Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” Nick Lachey and Jermaine Jackson dueted on “I’ll Be There” and the Funk Brothers supported “American Idol” finalist Kimberley Locke on “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” and Gerald Levert on “Do You Love Me.”
Brian McKnight and Macy Gray were on hand to celebrate Marvin Gaye, with the former performing “What’s Going On” and the latter interpreting “Let’s Get It On.” Ashford & Simpson took part in the grand finale, joining McDonald, Knight, Robinson and Stone to perform “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
“I was there from day one,” Robinson said backstage. “To be here celebrating the 45th anniversary of Motown goes beyond all our wildest dreams.” ABC plans to air “Motown 45” in May.
Motown 45 (2004) (TV)
Cast: Nick Ashford, Cindy Birdsong, Wayne Brady, Cedric the Entertainer, Dick Clark, Macy Gray, Thelma Houston, Gladys Knight, Gerald Levert, Brian McKnight, Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson, Valerie Simpson, Mary Wilson, Joey Fatone, Joss Stone, Nick Lachey
Based on a true story, the made-for-TV "Cab to Canada" stars the indomitable Maureen O'Hara as Katherine Eure, a wealthy and very proper "little old lady from Pasadena." En route to a funeral, Katherine summons the cab driven by one Mike Donahue (Jason Beghe). In answer to the traditional "Where to, lady?," Kathryn knocks Mike for a loop when she imperiously insists upon being driven to Vancouver, British Columbia...some 3,100 miles away. During the motor odyssey that follows, Kathryn proves that she's something substantially more than just another arrogant old dowager, just as the down-to-earth Mike loses his natural-born animosity toward those better off than himself. Meanwhile, the authorities are at their wit's end, convinced that Kathryn has been kidnapped, and are prepared to mete out harsh punishment for her captor. A pre-Sixth Sense Haley Joel Osment appears as Bobby. "Cab to Canada" made its CBS network bow on November 29, 1998. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Cab to Canada (1998) TV Movie
Cast: Maureen O'Hara, Jason Beghe, Catherine Bell, Haley Joel Osment, Brigitta Dau, Azura Skye, Efrem Zimbalist Jr.
Mostly excellent, personally would like to see more of the contemporary stuff and less of the too familiar 1st gen gang, especially since this is Volume II. Should have got that stuff out of the way with the first volume. Otherwise, fun to see some of these truly forgotten classics. If they were classics in '98, they've only become more so with time. Ably hosted by the great Will Ferrell via a fake behind the scenes look at the making of a SNL commercial. Forced but funny, like much of his work. This is Volume II, no notes available anywhere. Weird.
Saturday Night Live Goes Commercial - Volume II (1998) (TV)
A case of mistaken identity goes too far in this made-for-television romantic comedy. Tea Leoni stars as Gina Nardino, a young store clerk who pretends to be an Italian countess in order to impress a rich man of society. Her charade starts to fall apart though when his brother gets wise to her schemes. ~ Bernadette McCallion, Rovi
The Counterfeit Contessa (1994) TV Movie
Cast: Téa Leoni, D.W. Moffett, David Beecroft, Karla Tamburrelli, Susan Walters, Molly Price, Nicole de Boer, Holland Taylor
More of the same with a slightly blue hue. Very slight. Actually quite corny. The usual array of celebrities, Tom Arnold is along for some special bloopers from his then-current sitcom, "Tom". Fun for the record.
The Return of TV Censored Bloopers (1993) TV Series
Any way you want to say it, these are bloopers. New packaging, same stuff. Short-lived series that had nothing to offer. Cheech does an OK job and each hour long episode would have a couple guest hosts. Fun watch, just don't expect any revelations.
An assortment of funny holiday clips from different shows of the recent past. Some familiar faces but a fairly lukewarm production. As much as I love "The Simpsons", seeing them used in a Fox anthology is just lazy producing. Holiday auto-pilot viewing.
Great old school fun, bad jokes told poorly but with lots of heart. Some websites have Priscilla Barnes incorrectly listed as a co-host but it's a very beautiful Heather Thomas. Other than a terrible, long story by a friend of Burt Reynold's it's all easy viewing. On board with their "funniest" joke; Dom Deluise, Jack Lemmon, Rich Little, Cyndi Lauper, Barbara Mandrell, and Tony Geary among many others.
Paul Clemens plays the real-life Peter Reilly, who in September of 1973 was charged with the mutilation and murder of his mother. The confused 18-year-old signs a confession after being told that he's flunked a lie detector test. Later renouncing the confession, Reilly demands a reopening of his case. The citizens of Peter's home town of Canaan, CT, who'd been willing to see the boy thrown in jail for life when the case first hit the papers, now rally around the youth, insisting that his constitutional rights have been violated. New evidence uncovered by a sympathetic detective enables Peter to press his case. Stefanie Powers plays Joan Barthel, the Canaan resident and free-lance journalist who chronicled Peter's bid for freedom. The made-for-TV "A Death in Canaan" was first telecast March 1, 1978. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
A Death in Canaan (1978) TV Movie
Cast: Stefanie Powers, Paul Clemens, Tom Atkins, Jacqueline Brookes, Brian Dennehy, Conchata Ferrell, Charles Haid, Floyd Levine, Kenneth McMillan, Gavan O'Herlihy, Yuki Shimoda, James Sutorius, Bonnie Bartlett