Disney's MOANA pre-launch event

I attended an event yesterday at the Disney Animation Studio in honor of the upcoming  Home Entertainment release of Moana. It was an amazing event where the guests were shown some bonus features that will be included in the Blu-ray disc that hits the shelves March 7, 2017. 


Besides the videos, we were treated to a real Polynesian show of music and dance. Plus, as always with Disney, there was a selection of food and drinks - mostly Polynesian inspired.


It was interesting to learn about all the research that went into making this movie reflect the true Polynesian culture and heritage. The islands are represented in the film and as the filmmakers said, they wanted the people of Polynesia to see themselves in the film. It is a spectacular movie, if you haven’t already seen it. 


I also met one of the animators at the studio. Hyrum Osmond is a talented animator and we had a chance to talk for a little while. I am in awe of his talent and experience. Those who know me know I am a true Disney Girl, so learning little tidbits about the films that others don’t know was a true treat. I look forward to talking more with him in the future. 


He said he loves his job and I can see why. As a matter of fact, I told him if I were starting over, I would want to be doing exactly what he is doing. Sigh. Well, at least I get to be on the outer fringe of his business.


Moana is up for several Academy Awards on February 26. Good luck to all those involved in the film. It is inspirational and beautiful. 




The Evolution of Home Entertainment



Do you remember Beta and VHS? It all started with those two formats vying for the consumer market. With those tapes we could record a TV show and watch it over and over again. How cool was that? 


Then came DVD. DVD offered longer-lasting life of what we recorded. Digital was the wave of the future.


Next came Blu-ray. Blu-ray provided longer recording time and clearer video. Because computers, car players, and most people had DVD players, studios were thoughtful and brought out combo packs, with a DVD and a Blu-ray disc combined in one pack. This made it great to watch the Blu-ray version at home and take the DVD in the car or other places that were not BD compatible.

Next we were introduced to Digital downloads. As with the combo packs of earlier, the new releases included HD codes to download the movie onto your personal device.


Then came 3D which, I admit, isn’t as popular as the industry thought it would be.


The newest form of home entertainment is 4K Ultra HD. Each generation of home entertainment is better, brighter, and more amazing. The problem is that the discs are not backward compatible. To play the 4K discs you must have a 4K player and a TV that is up to date.


If you’re like me, you have had your favorite movies on Beta (or VHS), then you gradually replaced them with DVDs, then Blu-rays. Now you are considering updating your system and video library with 4K. It seems every 10 years or so the industry comes out with their latest and greatest. This is how they keep us buying the same movie over and over again. But that’s progress!



While the discs are not backwards compatible, the machines are, so you have time to replace your favorite films while at the same time updating your Home Entertainment system. My advice is to bite the bullet and purchase a 4K system – if you love watching movies like I do.




A Tribute to Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds


When Carrie Fisher passed away, with her mother Debbie Reynolds following the next day, many people wondered if the two were simply destined to be together, if not in this life then in the next. Did Debbie die from a broken heart or just will herself to follow her daughter? I’m afraid we won’t know the answer to that until we follow them to wherever they have gone.


In the meantime, many people have asked me what Carrie Fisher was famous for other than being Princess Leia. Yes, that was an iconic role that sent her to the stratosphere of stardom, but there was much more to Carrie than Leia. 


I remember the first time I saw her she was in the movie "Shampoo" opposite Warren Beatty. Then the next thing I heard was that she was in some sci-fi movie, which my sister insisted I go see. “Star Wars” was ahead of its time and the character of Leia was a no-nonsense female character that hadn’t been seen on film before. This woman could keep up and even surpass the males. It didn’t matter that she adorned some iconic hairstyles through the 3 films in the original series. (By the way, I wore what is now called “a princess Leia” hairstyle long before she did. And they also wore them in “The Sound of Music,” but we are discussing Carrie Fishe now so let’s put that aside.)


Now, Debbie Reynolds was famous for “Singing in the Rain,” however I also remember watching another of my father’s favorite movies, “Three Little Words” in which a very young Reynolds was first introduced to movie audiences with four little words: “poop, poop, a doop.”


I adored Reynolds in “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” and Fisher in “When Harry Met Sally.” So these two (mother and daughter) were on my radar for a long time. Then I met and interviewed Joely Fisher (whom I really got along with the several times we were together), and it took my mother a while to tell me the story of their families. This convoluted Hollywood story was ripe with scandal and craziness as Eddie Fisher left his beautiful wife Debbie and their two children Carrie and Todd, and went to Elizabeth Taylor. Later he turned his attention to Connie Stevens and they had two daughters: Joely and Tricia Leigh.


There were a lot of things going on in this family, so I will simply suggest, let Carrie tell you about her family tree with all the overlapping branches. She does this beautifully – and comically – in her HBO special “Wishful Drinking” which can be viewed on HBO VOD.  Carrie is honest about her drug addiction, her bipolar diagnosis, her family, and her life.


HBO airs a new documentary about both Carrie and Debbie called “Bright Lights,” which will premier January 5, 2017. Set your DVR for this one. Incidentally, that is the same day both Debbie and Carrie will be laid to rest.


What many people don’t realize is that both women were more than what you saw on the screen. Carrie had an excellent wit and sense of timing and was a script doctor for many writers. She also wrote several best-selling novels. 


Debbie became an icon for a new generation, this one gay, and appeared as herself in the hysterical comedy “Connie and Carla.” She was also a philanthropic woman who had lost her wealth several times but earned it back and when she did she never hesitated to share the wealth, having started The Thalians, among others.


With the HBO documentaries, viewers will get a more in depth view of these two stars. “Postcards from the Edge” and other films starring Reynolds or Fisher or written by Fisher are filling the airwaves. Check your schedules and VOD selections.





November was busy




The end of the year is a busy time for writers. Here’s my proof.








































































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.























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:













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

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