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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Moms' Night Out Event

Wow. What a great event for the launch of the Blu-ray and DVD of Sony’s Moms’ Night Out. Thank you Nicole at mPRm, The Buzz Girls, Sony Home Entertainment, Spoke & Weal, and everyone at the MNO party.

We were treated to food (including amazing cupcakes from Sweet E’s), wine (and assorted soft drinks), mini-manicures, hair styling, waxing, neck massages, and a great time schmoozing with colleagues. I had my hair styled not once, but twice! Yep. First I got it straightened, and then later in the evening I got it curled. I heard Princess Diana had her hair styled several times a day. Last night I was treated like a princess.

A lot of work and time goes into my job, however every once in awhile there are some fun perks, and the MNO event was one of them.

 

 

 

Covering the Emmy Awards

The Emmy Awards are tonight. I turned down a spot on the red carpet. For some reason, I believe red carpets should be covered by video journalists. At the moment, I don't have a video crew so what's the point of standing for hours waiting for someone to come by and grant me the privilege of a response to an question? I would never ask "Who are you wearing?" or "How do you feel being nominated?" I know those are standard questions, but come on, they are pretty lame (except for the designers who get their free publicity). 

So, like the rest of you, I'll be watching the awards from the comfort of my own home, with the luxury of bathroom breaks whenever I want, and the ability to drink a coke without worrying about "will I have to run to the bathroom?" or "I hope I don't burp." Ha! 

Well, now that I've just written all of this, I feel like maybe I should have applied for my credentials. "Kevin Spacey: How do you feel tonight?" "Lizzy Caplan: Who are you wearing?" Naw. I'm glad I'll be at home. And, I'll probably be wearing my slippers and drinking iced tea.

My Memories of Robin Williams

The first time I interviewed Robin Williams was at a roundtable movie junket. I sat immediately to his right. I watched him throughout the session, through tears in my eyes. He was hysterical. He was like a comic on steroids, or maybe it was something else. There was no doubt in my mind that he was a genius. 

 The next time I saw him was also in a roundtable junket session. He entered the room and quickly said, “Oh great. A minion.”  During the session one of my colleague’s cell phone rang. She was a bit embarrassed but Robin Williams picked up the phone and started talking to, of all people, her mother. Without missing a beat!

Then I sat across the table from him in the next roundtable for a film that was not a comedy. We were there to discuss the 2006 film The Night Listener. Robin was very serious that day, and reflected the tone of the film. Sure, there were some jokes peppered in the interview, but it wasn’t second after second of one-liners. Later, we both got in the elevator together. I stood behind him. He was solemn, looking down at the floor. I whispered, “nanoo nanoo” and he turned, smiled and said something witty. But that was the quietest I had ever seen Mr. Williams. I had seen him at his comic manic genius and in a quiet reflective state.

Then, Mr. Williams came to the Television Critics Association Press Tour to talk about his HBO special Robin Williams: Weapons of Self Destruction. He discussed the special and his heart surgery. He was a little slower at the time, because of the surgery, but his wit was pure Robin.

The last time I saw Robin Williams was seven months ago on the set of his TV show The Crazy Ones. He was funny, but the manically comic genius I had seen years ago, was replaced by a more mature man who was funny but not as over-the-top. I can only surmise he was struggling with internal conflicts.

I truly enjoyed each and every personal encounter with Robin Williams, as well as many of his movies and, of course, Mork. He had a long and incredible career. He was one of those actors (like Jack Lemmon) who could do comedy and drama films equally well. That’s a rare quality.

Rest in Peace, Robin Williams. You will hold a place in my memory. Thank you for all the great moments. When I think about Robin Williams I think about  the quote: I laughed so hard tears ran down my leg!

 

 

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