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39 For Life - A Great New Site

 

 

I was excited to be asked to be part of the new online magazine 39ForLife, which is expanding and looking toward being a Cosmo-like site for people of all ages. They are just beginning their expansion, and many of my entertainment articles have put them on the way from being solely a site for health management to a site for all areas of life. 

 

Here are the October entertainment articles now available to read on 39ForLife.com.

 

 

https://39forlife.com/nick-nolte-returns-tv-graves/

 

http://39forlife.com/joel-mchale-great-indoors/

 

http://39forlife.com/richard-jenkins-finds-career-renewal/

 

http://39forlife.com/sela-ward-talks-about-graves/

 

http://39forlife.com/wonderful-life-platinum-anniversary-edition-blu-ray/

 

http://39forlife.com/bill_oreilly_national_geographic_killing_reagan/

 

http://39forlife.com/cafe-society-on-combo-pack/

 

http://39forlife.com/sarah-jessica-parker-is-back-on-hbo/

 

http://39forlife.com/9_to_5_blu-ray_from_twilight_time/

 

http://39forlife.com/timeless_comes_to_nbc/

 

Fun Disney Holiday Preview

In my job I very often have to endure watching bad movies and TV shows. Hey, it's part of the job. And yes, there are plenty of times times when a movie or TV show will be really enjoyable. My job also affords me the occasional really fun and exciting event, as was the case when I went to the Disney Holiday Preview Event.

 

It was ninety degrees outside but when I entered the building it was cool with holiday music playing and all kinds of great goodies set up in the room, which will be coming on the market very soon. Okay, I admit I'm a kid at heart. My body might be aging but my mind is still that of a young girl always intrigued by the latest products. And of course, anyone who knows me knows I have loved dolls my entire life. So getting to preview the newest products from Disney was quite a treat. And even though I personally enjoyed it, I know my readers in all my outlets will enjoy reading about the products just as much as I liked seeing them. 

 

So even though the morning was "work" and I was taking copious notes, it was also fun. Happy holidays in July. And keep reading my outlets to find out what is new and improved this holiday season for gift giving and getting. 

 

 

 

 

James Darren a.k.a. Moondoggie

For most of us, the names Moondoggie, Kahuna, and Gidget have been part of our vocabulary for as long as we can remember. James Darren, the singing surfer Moondoggie in the Gidget movies, has been busy since the 1959 production that made him famous. He went on to other acting roles, including The Guns of Navarone, Diamond Head, Let No Man Write My Epitaph, two Gidget sequels, and The Lively Set, a film he says he prefers to forget. He also co-starred in the TV series' The Time Tunnel and TJ Hooker, and had recurring roles in Melrose Place and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, where he played a holographic lounge singer. Besides acting, Mr. Darren has directed episodes of several television series’.

He reprised his recording career and concerts. Many, many, many, well, maybe not that many years ago, my family and I caught a James Darren/Buddy Hackett show in Las Vegas. It happened to be their last show and trust me, you had to have been there. We all maintain it was the best show any of us has ever seen in Las Vegas. Well, consider the final show of a long run. All gloves were off. These two put on a show of shows.

It is apparent he loves his concert audiences and always has a tête a tête with them. He is kind enough to stay after to take pictures with and sign autographs for anyone who wants one.

If you know me, you know I am not a celebrity watcher or impressed with celebrity in the least. I'm not an autograph collector, but this last time I decided to stayand have him sign a CD for me. I waited for the large crowd to dissipate, and then I took my place to wait for an autograph. When I finally reached the front, Mr. Darren asked to whom he should make out the autograph. I told him "Francine." We talked about Gidget and he smiled and said, "That [Francine] was her name in the movie. Did you know that?" Did I know that?

When I was younger my dad bought the Gidget film on 16mm reels. This was long before the invention of video recorders. He set up the projector in the basement and every night I would go down there and he would put on the film. In time I knew every word in the entire movie. I knewevery expression, every costume, and every blink. I knew every hand movement, voice inflection and breath everyone took. I also knew every editing and story flaw, and there were many.

So, did I know her name was really Francine? "Actually, it was 'Francie.'" I told him. Yikes. Who was I to correct Moondoggie? He smiled and handed me my personal autograph.

But I digress. Back to James Darren. Because of his role in Deep Space Nine, a new audience has discovered this entertainer. The people who knew him in the "old" days, as well as a new "Trekie" crowd attend his concerts. His voice isn't the young, strong voice that originally brought us Goodbye, Cruel World, Conscience, and Her Royal Majesty, but then he is not the fresh-faced heartthrob of the 1950's, and 60's. Mr. Darren has a more soft and matured voice now, which fits his song style. He looks the same, although more mature. Let's face it, we all age. Some of us age better than others. Mr. Darren is among those who get better with age.

After his
role as Vic Fontaine, the
singing holographic lounge
singer on Star Trek: Deep
Space Nine, he recorded This
One's From The Heart, a CD
that contained several songs
from the show. The CD includes many standards, all
done with the style and grace
of a classic singer. The CD is filled with big band songs that even young people will appreciate. Frankly, I've never heard a Cole Porter song sung so beautifully.

 

His last CD, Because of You,
contains some wonderful well-known songs all sung in the
James Darren style. James
Darren has a very smooth voice
and it is evident he loves the
songs he sings. This CD contains mostly ballads with a lot of
strings. A couple swingy songs pick up the pace. With the flair of Frank Sinatra, the softness of Dean Martin, and the cool of Tony Bennett, Mr. Darren sings in a way that makes them his own.

Being a close friend of Nancy Sinatra, he had a strong connection to "The Rat Pack," and they obviously influenced his singing style. However, James Darren puts his own stamp on the songs and delivers them all with his unique style and personality. It's as though he's singing to the listener instead of simply singing a song.

He was born James William Ercolani in 1936 in South Philadelphia, an area which is famous for producing many famous Italian singers. Others in his neighborhood included Frankie Avalon (Francis Thomas Avallone 1940), Bobby Rydell (Robert Louis Ridarelli 1942), and Fabian (Fabiano Anthony Forte 1943). Due to his love for cars, James took the name Darren from the Darrin automobile, just changing the "i" to an "e." He has been married to his wife Evy for over forty years. With three sons, grandchildren, successful acting, directing, and singing careers, he considers himself "a lucky man."

Darren is keeping his Star Trek fans entertained. In 2017 he, along with William Shatner, Jonathan Frakes, Denise Crosby, Robert Picardo, John de Lancie, Terry Farrell, and Marina Sirtis are currently scheduled to set sail on a special “Star Trek Cruise.” It’s a year away and already Sold Out.


Whether providing the voice of Jimmy Darrock in an episode of The Flintstone, singing to a lovesick teenager in Gidget, chasing perps in T.J. Hooker, or playing the holographic lounge singer in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, not to mention all his directing, Darren has done it all. This year he will turn 80. Moondoggie is going to be 80. Where did the years go?

Jimmy, if you ever want to write your memoirs, I’d love to work on it with you!

January 1980/2016

It’s hard to believe that 36 years ago I was trudging through the frigid Iowa snow while working for a presidential campaign. But I was, and I remember almost every part of the six weeks I spent in that state. It was hard work and I met a lot of interesting people. And, the best part, I felt like I was working for a goal, something worthwhile.

These days I am sitting in a dark, very cold (almost reminds me of Iowa) Los Angeles hotel ballroom while the television networks bring out their new shows and discuss their futures and pasts.

36 years ago I was writing press releases and campaign letters. Today I am writing about the upcoming TV season. 36 years ago I was hoping to change the direction of the country. Today I am writing about the changing direction in entertainment. 36 years ago I was listening to speeches and talking with presidential candidates. Today I am listening to presidents of networks and talking to actors.

Life overtakes us and even if we have a specific path we intend on following, we often must take a fork in the road. That is called survival.

For those who have read my book, you know my goal was to be a speechwriter. I was born in the wrong time. Today’s women will find it easier to break into the inner circles but in my time it was a difficult thing to do. At least it was for me. That, medical issues, and other circumstances forced me to take this fork in the road. So, as the sign in my office reminds me, don’t look back. The rest of my life is ahead and the past is no longer an option. 

Life happens. It’s much better to make the proverbial lemonade than to eat pits. Life is just a bowl of cherries. So, with lemonade and cherries, I think I have a pretty darn good thing.

To all of you out there, have a happy and healthy year.

 

 

2015 Holiday TV Movies

It’s the middle of December and I think I have screened dozens of holiday TV movies. I like this time of year for screening movies at home. These made-for-TV films (Hallmark, Lifetime, Ion, UP, etc.) are all warm and fuzzy stories. Many people say they are all the same, but for me they hold a special place. I know, when the final credits roll (however some screeners simply have place card holders for the credits because the films have not been completed) I will feel happy and content.

That’s the reason for holiday films, isn’t it? To make us feel happy and content? This year the crop of movies did not disappoint. There were some that I really enjoyed and want to hold onto for future viewing, and yes, there were a few that were just OK. But they all managed to leave me with a warm and fuzzy feeling.

So, even though they might not be of the caliber of It’s a Wonderful Life, the networks have done a good job with this year’s holiday movies. 

Here are some samples of what I was treated to this season:

http://www.familychoiceawards.com/entertainment/crown-for-christmas-premiers-on-hallmark-channel/

http://www.familychoiceawards.com/entertainment/christmas-in-the-smokies-will-air-on-insp/

http://www.familychoiceawards.com/entertainment/murder-she-baked-a-plum-pudding-mystery-on-hallmark-movies-mysteries/

http://www.familychoiceawards.com/entertainment/northpole-open-for-christmas-on-hallmark-channel/ 

http://www.familychoiceawards.com/entertainment/a-dogwalkers-christmas-tale-on-up/

http://www.heraldextra.com/entertainment/movies/just-in-time-for-christmas-comes-to-hallmark-channel/article_d2adf5b1-35c0-5d8b-a19e-4e87a741737a.html 

http://www.heraldextra.com/entertainment/television/christmas-in-the-smokies-premieres-sunday-on-insp/article_ea2af621-12e8-56f2-b40b-aa9e287cc8d8.html 

http://www.heraldextra.com/entertainment/television/angels-in-the-snow-a-heartening-family-holiday-movie/article_206fb4a0-574b-5942-b0c9-604aae77629a.html 

http://www.heraldextra.com/entertainment/television/murder-she-baked-cooks-up-interesting-mystery/article_243fa1ce-affe-5d33-9cd0-841eef8cc1dc.html

http://www.heraldextra.com/entertainment/television/northpole-open-for-christmas-hits-hallmark-on-saturday/article_7adf419a-0229-57ce-b26a-cfd43830be89.html

http://www.heraldextra.com/entertainment/television/hallmark-channel-s-countdown-to-christmas-schedule/article_ce69f033-3353-5b48-b462-e577d78c7d39.html

 

Get More with Disney Titles

Did you know you could get free stuff when you buy Disney DVDs, Movies, CDs, and go to movies in the theater? How cool is that? Disney Movie Rewards offers hundreds of great stuff from free DVDs, Blu-rays, toys, collectibles, clothing, electronics, and even a private tour of the Walt Disney Studios.

When you enter your Magic rewards code (included inside DVD/Blu-ray boxes with the star logo on the cover) at the site, they automatically keep track of your accrued points so there’s nothing left for you to do but decide which item you want. And the really cool thing is they don’t charge shipping. Once you have accrued enough points for the item you desire, simply click on the “Redeem” button and voila. In a few days your little goodie is delivered to your home.

Plus, there are several “freebies” that are available to download and often there are special offers. Granted, some of these do require a nominal shipping fee, but the downloads are usually free.

Did I forget to mention their Sweepstakes? They often have some kind of sweepstakes to enter for things like a free Disney cruise or a trip to Walt Disney World.

And when their newsletter comes to your inbox, there is usually a link to click that will add a few more points to your account.

Disney Movies Anywhere is an app that allows users to view their Disney purchases on their phones or tablets. The cool thing about the Disney Movie Rewards site is that it synchs with the Disney Anywhere app so once you enter the DMR code it automatically adds the movie to your Disney Movies Anywhere account.

If you know me then you know I am a big fan of all things Disney. Disney movies and characters are iconic and part of our pop culture. If you have Disney DVDs, Blu-rays, or CDs in your house you really need to check out the Disney Movies Rewards site (http://www.disneymovierewards.go.com) and get the Disney Anywhere app.

Disney Home Entertainment covers a wide variety from Disney Nature to classic animation to preschool.

For my reviews of the latest from Disney Home Entertainment, click here:

Aladdin Diamond Edition

and another Aladdin review

Tomorrowland Combo Pack

Sheriff Callie’s Wild West: Howdy Partner

Sofia the First: A Royal Collection

Monkey Kindgom

Mickey’s Monster Musical


Alone on Main Street USA

Ten years ago I experienced an amazing experience when I covered the 50th anniversary of Disneyland. Last week I relived some of that amazement and at times exceeded it.

Disneyland is 60 years old this year. I wasn’t alive when it was being built so it has always been part of my world, so to speak. As a family we vacationed there and I have plenty of memories of past visits to the theme park, even before the large parking lot (which used to have a tram running up and down to collect guests and bring them to the gate) was transformed via Disney magic into Disney California Adventure.

Last week I consider myself to be one of the lucky media people to be included in the Diamond Celebration kickoff. Like several times in the past, the parks were cleared of guests so we, the invited guests for this special occasion, could enjoy the Disney hospitality.

The first night DCA was closed and the streets of the park were filled with tables of food and drinks, plus special music filled the air. Then we were treated to the preview of the new “World of Color – Celebrate” with Neil Patrick Harris introducing the show that celebrates the films of Disney.

The second night Disneyland was cleared of guests and Frontierland was filled with food, wine, drinks, and of course desserts, as DCA had been the previous night. We were also able to walk into several attractions. I walked right up to the Haunted Mansion to experience the new ghosts that have taken up residency in the house. My friend was the only person on a boat in Pirates of the Caribbean. It was an amazing night, and that was even before we saw the new light parade, “Paint the Night,” and the SPECTACULAR new fireworks extravaganza “Disneyland Forever.” I have never seen anything more creative, immersive, and memorable as this nighttime show.

Before the festivities, I found myself walking alone, as I had done on a few occasions in the past, along Main Street USA. I was all alone and as I stood there I thought about all the visitors to the park in the past 60 years. Presidents, celebrities, and me. I thought about all the enjoyment people have had there over the past 60 years. It was an interesting moment to be alone with only my thoughts. 

Disneyland definitely knows how to put on a party, and they did a spectacular job kicking off the Diamond Celebration. Thank you, everyone at Disneyland Resort, for making happy memories for not only myself, but for millions of guests over the past 60 years with more to come in the future.

Yay, Mickey Mouse. (And Pooh, Lilo, Tinker Bell, Donald, …)

 

 

Dalmatian Day at Disney

Let’s face it. I’m a big Disney fan. So when I was invited to the 101 Dalmatians Global Press Event I couldn’t wait.  The movie is a classic and the event provided me with a lot of additional information about the making of the film as well as those associated with it. Unfortunately, one of my favorite actors of all-time, Rod Taylor who voiced Pongo in the film, passed away last month so he was not at the event. But Lisa Davis, the voice of Anita, Mimi Gibson, the voice of Lucky, and Floyd Norman, one of the animators at the studio, were on hand to regale us with memories and fun facts. And, in all honesty, they were all gracious and entertaining people!

Disney usually has some very interesting bonus features on their home entertainment releases, including “Disney View” which adds creative side panels to the screen instead of viewing the 4X3 aspect ratio formatted films with plain black side panels. If you haven’t selected this option on your Disney discs, give it a try. 

Yes, the bonus features add some great info about the movie, but the press event was even more informative – and fun. Besides a Q&A session with the three people mentioned above as well as wonderful roundtables, the media (that’s me) were treated to an Ink & Paint demonstration and lesson. And, we painted our own cell. Basically, this is pretty old-school animation because of the new technology, but it is fun!

Thank you Disney and Click Communications for the great day. Let’s do it again – soon.

Read all about it.

Remembering George Harrison

November 29th marks the 13th anniversary of the death of George Harrison.  Harrison, one of the Fab Four, is a music and pop icon. He once said he didn’t want to be an icon, but it was a little late for that.  He was as happy planting a tree in his garden as he was recording a song.  To some degree George Harrison was in the background when he was a Beatle, overshadowed by the songwriting duo of Lennon and McCartney.  But it was George Harrison who gave us some of the most beautiful and memorable songs.  Even Frank Sinatra said “Something” was one of his favorite love songs. 

George Harrison was the first of the Fab Four to record a solo album after their breakup. He went on to a successful music career post Beatles.  But he will always be remembered as a Beatle.  The Beatles were too important to the history of this generation and to music itself, and there is no way to separate any of the four from the group, no matter how much success they accomplish on their own. 

The Beatles construe an aura of magic.  There is something mystical associated with them.  Perhaps it is because they were merchandised from here to Timbuktu, or their music will remain in our souls forever, or they were just the right group at the right time.

Several years ago I had a meeting in Hollywood. I walked into the building and everyone was whispering. “Psst. Ringo.”  “Hey, did you hear? Ringo Starr is in the building.” “Hey, Psst.”  For some reason, just the presence of Ringo stirred up a lot of fascination.  I’m sure it would have been the same if it had been any of the other Beatles.  I’m not one to get excited by celebrity.  I heard Ringo was in the building and I didn’t really think much about it.  When I exited the building, Ringo happened to be standing right there outside the door.  I smiled, walked past him, and got into my car.  He got into his limousine and we both drove down the street, side by side.

Then, one day at a Television Critics Association Press Tour, Paul McCartney appeared via satellite to talk about his latest project. Honestly, I was charmed by this man. He was funny and intelligent and a delight to “speak” to. I wish I had had the opportunity to meet George Harrison.

There was an enchantment to the Beatles.  While many people were not pleased with some of the things they said and did, when you separate that from the music and the accomplishments they made, they still belong to history and will always hold a high place in the hearts and minds of a generation who went through a lot together. Their music continues to find audiences in subsequent generations. That it the measure of greatness. 

Even though George Harrison was and will always be a Beatle, he was a man in his own right. He was a wonderful musician and songwriter, husband, father, and a humanitarian. He had a great sense of humor and a sense of purpose.

We’ll all remember George Harrison for Something.  Something in the way he smiled. Something in the way he spoke. Something in the way he sang. And Something in the way he lived.

 

 

Holidayed Out

It’s the first weekend of November and I have already screened dozens of holiday movies. After awhile they start to blur. There are, however, a few that do stand out and ones I would like to see again next year. I’m holding onto that screener! 

The holidays come earlier and earlier every year. Stores want to get the most revenue they can, which is understandable, but come on, starting holiday commercials and sales in October? That’s overkill. And by the time the holidays really do come, we are holidayed out.

It’s my own fault for screening as many holiday movies as I do. I request them every year. I always enjoy trying to find the one special holiday film that will be unique and fun. I still have a stack of screeners on my table waiting to be played. Who knows, perhaps there will be another one that will catch my fancy. If not, then the one jewel I did see will be at the top of my list of new holiday films for 2014.

There are plenty of great holiday classics: Holiday Inn, White Christmas, It Happened One Night, It Happened One Christmas, and others that are enjoyed annually. What are your favorite holiday movies? Have you found a special new film this year? Take it from me there are plenty coming out on TV and DVD, and many of them are pretty good.

 

 

 

 

 

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