Category Archives: Television

RENT Live! A review.


Short and to the point: I was unable to watch Rent:Live. But, I told my family and friends to watch, because the arts is always the first thing cut in schools— and these live musicals create exposure to the arts and offers opportunity to those that otherwise may never get to Broadway, as they get to see something similar.

But, of course, as everyone knows— Brennin Hunt who plays Roger, injured his ankle. So badly in fact, that he would be confined to a wheelchair and unable to perform the show’s blocking (movement.)

So, what we saw, 90% of the production, was a dress rehearsal. I took notes, but, as the New York Times pointed out— we weren’t meant to see this. So none of it matters, except that Jordan and Brennin were giving it their all in this rehearsal. They were both ON and it was appreciated.

The last 10 or so minutes of the show featured changed blocking and was indeed Live. And the show concluded with the original cast joining this cast in singing “Seasons of Love.” But, everyone was acting as though they’d been performing all night and were finally finished. And I found that odd… didn’t you all sit quietly while watching the broadcast, maybe rehearse a little and then go out there for the last 10 minutes?



The live cast performed a concert-ish version of the show LIVE, as the dress rehearsal aired on television. Yes… the actors were performing and giving it their all for an audience in the theatre. Again, as we at home watched a rehearsal which no one knew would end up being shown, the actors were in the theatre performing.

If Fox decided to perform the show like a concert for a live audience, why were we not shown that? Sure, an injured actor confined to a wheelchair is not ideal, but, in the few videos online of the truly live concert, everyone is having fun and the energy is on fire.

I am extremely disappointed at Fox’s decision. The rehearsal is okay— but even in that 10 minutes that was live, there was clearly a difference in energy and it flowed better. The lesson here is have understudies next time OR adapt to life and do the show as best you can, LIVE. Anything is better than showing rehearsal footage where most actors are simply hitting their mark than truly performing, giving it their all.

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A Christmas Story, Live! (A review.)

It’s that time of year again, folks! Another live musical. I’ve watched and reviewed them all. And when we got to the middle of December and I realized NBC had nothing coming, I was torn. But, FOX seemed to grant a Christmas Wish, as I saw a commercial for “A Christmas Story, Live!”


FOX previously had done Grease, which, in my opinion, was superior to NBC’s musicals before it. I was eagerly awaiting how FOX’s next musical might go. I was highly positive.

I set my DVR, watched, took notes and here we are. So, how was “A Christmas Story, Live?”

The musical starred Matthew Broderick as adult Ralphie, Maya Rudolph as Mother, Chris Diamantopoulos as The Old Man (Father), with Jane Krakowski as Miss Shields (The School Teacher) and introduced Andy Walken as Ralphie.

First the good:

While NBC upped their game with “Hairspray, Live”, FOX still wins out with incredible staging. The camera movement isn’t fixed and the production makes use of multiple stages. It’s quite a spectacle. The production especially, seemed to even do better with Grease in terms of its production design. It really looked like this was 1940s Michigan. Wow.


Chris Diamantopoulos: I haven’t heard of him, but, goodness, this man is talented. Impeccable singing, genius improvisational skills, and quite nimble. Diamantopoulos was a scene stealer. Your eyes are glued to him as he plays a stern but kind father, trying to win a crossword contest. I feel like this is an actor that I should be aware of, he blew everyone else away.

The Tableau’s : A tableau is when actors “freeze” to make a “picture” before a scene begins. The production made use of tableau’s as they came back from commercial. You’d see what looked like a Christmas postcard, and then it would dissolve to the real environment, as the scene began. It was pretty clever.

The Children Ensemble: Fourteen children were selected from all over the country to make up the neighborhood children. These kids are going to go places. They were true professionals. They really shined during a sequence with Krakowski as they tap danced.

The clever political jabs:  Did you hear Mother listening to the radio and how “Democrats and Republicans still can’t get along?” Or how about when Miss Shields was singing about grizzly bears attacking the candy store? I cracked up.

The lighting and sound :Whether it was a magical fantasy or a scary nightmare, the lighting and sound always reflected that idea flawlessly. I jumped back as Ralphie’s parents now had demonic voices during a nightmare.

The Just-Okay:


Maya Rudolph: While Rudolph isn’t that great of a singer, she easily falls into the sweet role as Ralphie’s Mother. She has some comedic moments, but mostly, she’s sympathetic, although somewhat flighty. But, where Rudolph misses the mark is when things go wrong. In a scene where Ralphie gets in a fight, his glasses are to have broken. But when they didn’t, she was flustered and “took them anyway.” So, in the next scene, when Mother has replaced Ralphie’s glasses so his father doesn’t get mad at him, the entire scene falls flat due to Rudolph’s “Oh, your glasses almost broke” line.

Now, look, I understand. She’s on live television and literally had a second to think. But, really, was there no discussion as to what to say if the glasses didn’t “break?”

The Not so Great:


Andy Walken: I don’t feel so great critiquing a young child. But, as he’s meant to be the headliner of this production, there was a major issue with his performance. As he sang, most of the time, he looked angry. It sounds like an overly critical thing or maybe even a joke. But no. He truly seemed angry. I think he was “thinking” about singing the right words, so he couldn’t really think of his facial expressions.

Now, he is a young kid, so, the blame can’t fully be put on him… did no one in rehearsal look at all the closeups and think, “Well, gee, maybe we need to work with Andy on his facial expressions?” It really took me out of the production. There were a couple spots where Walken did seem to be in the moment, and these were the few songs where his character is either sad or scared.

The Steady-Cam work : This production made use of a lot of steady cam work, but, overall, the camera work was not steady. There were a couple strange zooms, shaky camera movement, and some just plain wirdness. I think this was a little bit camera operator and a little bit director. GREASE had phenomenal camera work. I don’t recall much steady-cam work on that, if any at all, but here, something just wasn’t working right.

The Verdict:

If I had to grade this exact performance, like Ralphie’s Essay, I would give it a C Plus. It’s not bad, but it wasn’t spectacularly good, either. For every good thing, there was something just a little off. I think FOX had a few glitches with this offering. However, in saying that, I am happy they performed another live musical and I do hope there is another one. If there is absolutly nothing on, sure, put this on. There’s plenty Christmas Magic to see past the coal.

Stray Observations:

In a scene with Diamantopoulos, Rudolph goofed and said “Purkey” instead of “Turkey. ” She started to laugh. But Diamantopoulos began to improvise the second it happened, and turned the flub into a little flirting moment with “his wife.” Rudolph recovered and as she left the scene, Diamantopoulos playfully shouted “Purkey” which had Rudolph giggling a little as she continued on.

With all the glasses not breaking, Diamantopoulos saw his glasses fall out of his coat pocket and later get stepped on. But thankfully, they didn’t break, and he used them in later scenes.

I appreciated the short “behind the scenes” moments as the show came back from commercial. The dogs used in the production were rescues, the old cars were from collectors and there were crew just out of sight to assist with quick costume changes.

NOTE: Photos are not owned by me.

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Hairspray Live ! (A Quick Review.)

I’m a little late to the party, but you didn’t think I’d forget about the Live! Musical review did you?


NBC has done it again, now with it’s 4th musical, “Hairspray Live!” a musical that oddly mirrors the current political climate in America.

The musical follows Tracy, a heavyset teenager hoping to become a cast member on a dancing television show, in 1962. Along with her ditsy friend Penny, Tracy makes it her mission to allow the African-American cast members to dance on the show everyday, not just their scheduled once a month.

So, here are my thoughts:

The Good:

Maddie Baillio as Tracy


NBC realized very quickly that a bankable star might not always be the best way to go, if they can’t sing, dance AND Act. Maddie is an unknown, having won the role at an open casting call, beating nearly 1,000 others. The young woman is beautiful, can sing amazingly well and she makes Tracy her own. I believe she has a bright future ahead of her.

Kristen Chenoweth and Derek Hough

Hairspray Live! - Season 2016

Chenoweth is fabulous in almost everything she does, but she was especially wonderful in the role of Velma, a television producer hellbent on keeping television as white as possible. She had the right amount of silliness without making the character melodramatic.


Hough, I knew was a dancer, but holy moly, the guy can sing. That was a wonderful surprise.  I had seen some online chatter that he “wasn’t living up to” James Mardsen, whom plays the role in the film. I felt he played Corny Collins just fine.  It is funny that his sister, Julianne, played Sandy in Grease Live!

Multiple Stages

NBC took notes from FOX and this time, the production was not restricted to one stage. Instead, actors had room to breathe and the camera work mostly was a welcoming change from the previous musicals. I saw a few reviews mention this as a negative, which I certainly do not agree with. Using a studio lot is the way to go.

The Just-Okay :

Garret Clayton as Link


Apparently Clayton rose to fame as a Disney star, in one of their original movies. I hadn’t heard of him before. Clayton is not a bad performer, but something was off.  I believe he never got the note to ‘rein it in’ when it came to his acting, which caused his performance  to came across as very melodramatic, as though he was an actor  in a high school musical. (Pun not intended.)

The Bad:

Ariana Grande as Penny


While Grande was “passable” with her acting of the ditsy best friend, whenever she sang, it was apparent she thought she was performing one of her concerts. The character of Penny would disappear and Grande the Pop Star appeared! Her breathy, barely audible singing totally took away from the production.

The Host/Viewing Parties 


While NBC intelligently took cues from Grease Live about multiple stages, they  unfortunately decided a host was needed as well.  The Host is an element in the live musical that needs to be done away with. It makes sense to have one, but all a host does is bring attention to the fact we’re watching a show and it takes you out of the performance.  Musicals don’t stop for a host on Broadway, so they shouldn’t stop for one on television either.

Final Thoughts:

The NBC Musical and other variants is a wonderful thing to see happen. I hope the live musical continues throughout the years to come.  I did enjoy ‘Hairspray Live’ overall and I’m excited for the next one.

*Character Images are property of NBC and were taken by Brian Bowen Smith.

*Party Image taken from City TV Live Broadcast.

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Scroll Down to read the UPDATE!

BIG BROTHER is a reality show that places strangers into a house for the summer. $500,000 is on the line, with competitions each week to narrow the number of people down. When two are left, the last six or so  who have been evicted vote on the winner.

Cast Backyard

The cast of Season 18, airing now.

What makes the show interesting is the how the strangers (called house guests) interact. People of all different creeds, beliefs and so on are cast in hopes of creating interesting conflict and stories.

The show has been on for sixteen years. And while I have been a viewer since 2008, I feel the show has some problems that really need fixing.

A big part of any reality show is the Confessional Interview. Contestants are interviewed in private so the audience can hear their thoughts of what’s going on. BIG BROTHER has “The Diary Room”, often called the DR.

The DR is really important on BIG BROTHER, as it opens the window to a house guests soul. Do they really want to remain loyal to John Doe? Was that kiss with Jane strategy or genuine affection?


Tiffany, a season 18 House Guest, in DR.

In recent years, the DR has become mere fodder, with House Guests merely word vomiting as they recap Competition Rules we literally heard 30 seconds ago or saying a “witty one liner” that most likely was fed to the House Guest.

Andy Dehnart of REALITY BLURRED just published an article on the Diary Room, so I’ll send you over there to read a much more in-depth explanation on how the DR segment is broken. (Click his name!)

But, the DR is not the only thing broken on Big Brother. In my opinion, the show has two other problems with it.

The first one admittedly is the lesser of the two evils. It is probably not seen as an issue for many. But, I thought to myself, ‘what is the one thing that could be changed to better the game?’ And here it is:

Producers need to enforce a rule regarding the HOH rewards.

HOH stands for Head of Household. This House Guest has earned the title by winning a special competition. They are given several rewards for the week: a private room with a bed, a CD player with one CD, a private bath and shower and a basket with assorted food the HOH winner likes.

What ends up happening however, is the HOH often ‘shares’ the rewards with other House Guests they are closest too. House guests that did not win the HOH competition will sleep in the bed, listen to the CD and unwind, and they’ll enjoy a private shower or bath.

2016-06-24-20.41.19-Cam 1.png

Corey, who’s not HOH, enjoying the comfy bed and listening to music in the CD Player.

I see this as a problem. So often, we see house guests “throw” an HOH competition. “Throw” as in, deliberately lose. They lose the competition because they might feel safe with John, a hulking strong man. They’re good with John, so they don’t need to win. And I bet that in the back of their mind, they know if John wins, they too will get to enjoy the benefit of the HOH room.

If Producers enacted a rule that only the HOH winner could use the rewards, we would probably see less competition throwing. Winning HOH would truly mean something.

Now, with this rule, House Guests could still be allowed to gather in the room to strategize.  This happens when the HOH winner is in an alliance with other house guests, so said house guests will be in the HOH room, plotting and scheming.

When this goes on, many of the house guests make use of the HOH bed. It’s often large. Many will sit on it and eventually find themselves under the covers taking a nap. However, with this rule, come 10pm, house guests that might be lying on the bed will need to move elsewhere. They can still stay in the room, but it’s bed time, and the only one allowed to use that huge bed is the HOH winner.

Moving on, there is an issue with BIG BROTHER that’s bigger than the DR or non-HOH winners reaping the reward benefits. And that is: the casting.

BIG BROTHER is cast by Robyn Kass. She’s been doing it since BIG BROTHER 2, so for a very long time. Robyn has given us Dr. Will, Janelle, Dan, Johnny Mac– the list goes on. She has proven herself to find really interesting people.


Robyn Kass, the casting director of BIG BROTHER since its second season.


However, I strongly believe that in recent years, Robyn has faced resistance and perhaps is being forced to cast people for looks rather than personality.

This season is the greatest example on how somewhere, casting is going horribly wrong. The people cast this year might look great in bathing suits, but they do not understand the game at all. We have 12 “newbies” as they’re called, people that have never played BIG BROTHER before. And then we have 4 “Vets” or “Returnees” who have played the game before. Sometimes, a Vet might have played twice already.

And this year, it is clear Robyn was instructed to cast people that were clueless on the Big Brother game to ensure the Vets had a great advantage. We have had house guests that were clueless, but this year, it’s much worse.

You have Victor, who is going around the house telling everyone he won “Big Brother Roadkill”, a  new competition whose winner is secret. Any Big Brother fan will tell you, in a situation where the winner is not revealed outright, you probably shouldn’t share the fact you won. Then, you have Jozea, who outright told a vet he was targeting her. I mean, this is BIG BROTHER 101. You don’t go around telling people they are on your hit list.

As a long time viewer, this is very frustrating. BIG BROTHER has a large fan base, and there are thousands of applicants auditioning for the show each year. Why can’t producers cast from this pool of people? Why instead do we so often get Recruits? (People casting finds at bars or other public locations, that often have never even heard of the show.)

Some argue that recruits are okay, because we wouldn’t want 16 super fans in the house. People regarded as super fans often know the game inside out and the belief is that they can often turn the game upside down, because they know so much about it. However, it is a misconception that every applicant is a super fan. I know this, because I am an example.

I have tried out for the show twice. There is not a term for the type of fan I am. I’m not a recruit, because I have heard of the show and I have watched it for years. I am not a casual fan, because I watch the live feeds, which are separate from the broadcast episodes. And, I am not a super fan, because I couldn’t tell you all the winners of the game and I don’t know which week correlates to what type of competition the house guests typically have.

I’m somewhere in between “casual” and “super.” And this is the range where Producers should pull from most. Cast several casuals, then some from my group, then throw in two super fans.

The game would function so much better if the house guests weren’t completely clueless. I have no problem with one or two recruits . But, I believe we have six or seven recruits this year and that’s just too many.

Season 18 has been a dud due to the casting. I do not blame Robyn, as she casts the Canadian version of Big Brother as well and you can see a clear difference in the people she finds. Someone higher up is blocking her efforts. And it’s a real loss.


Allison Grodner, one of the producers of BIG BROTHER.

BIG BROTHER has everything it needs to be a wonderful show. But, the producers have become stale and are unaware of how awful the show is in its current state. The most glaring example of how out of touch these producers are is them bringing back “Battle of the Block.”

It was a new competition in season 16. The competition did not work as intended. Producers brought it back the next year, and it was called a “fan favorite.” Social Media caught fire with nearly the entire fandom blasting producers for being so out of touch.

It is the same with the casting, the DR, and the lack of rules surrounding the HOH rewards.

You can only hope someone in power finally sees that the show needs reworking and tries to better it.


On July 23rd, 2016, around 11pm, BBT, Allison Grodner, the executive producer of the show, did something that she’ll probably regret in the morning. She liked a tweet. Not just any tweet…


Can’t quite read it? Click here.


She liked a tweet that seems to indicate favoritism toward Frank Eudy, a returnee this season, who had previously been a cast member on ‘Big Brother 14’  in 2012.

During that season, Frank found himself an early target of the other house guests. But, Frank managed to win competitions to save himself , week after week.  Many fans found his constant wins suspicious and accused Allison Grodner of ‘rigging’ the outcome so Frank would last longer.

It should be noted, and SPOILERS— She just happened to like this tweet during a week where Frank is in fact in danger of eviction.  A twist was just announced (before Frank was up for eviction) that a secret room is in the house, seemingly with a secret power. Fans are on high alert, wondering if Frank will be the one to find the room and get a special power, with help from Production.

The liking of the tweet caught fire when  an account ran by a sister of a current contestant  reacted:


Fans then created the hashtag, #GrodnerExposedParty and it began trending.

Should Grodner be fired for liking this tweet? No. But, it probably was an error in judgment on her part.

If you ask me, we should not be calling for a firing over a tweet, but we instead should be questioning and demanding a change with how casting works and why DR sessions are so horrendously unnatural.


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Fuller House: A Review.

21 years ago, a little sitcom had its series finale. Full House. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

full house cast

A recent trend on television these days is reunions and reboots. Audiences love seeing characters return that they once loved so dearly. 90210, The X files, Twin Peaks — just to name a few.

A reunion show can be hit or miss.

I’ve watched eight of the thirteen Fuller House episodes.

The AV Club reviewed the show and called it a ‘porn parody without the porn.’ Is that fair to say? No. But, are the critics right in this situation? Is the show bad? Maybe.

The writers of Fuller House needed to remember something: This can not be a constant throw-back. Yes, the little jabs toward the Olsen Twins are funny. And sure, Danny Tanner being in town for a ‘huge reunion show’ is a nice break of the fourth wall. But, after awhile, the self-awareness gets a tad annoying and amateurish.

The show does have some bright spots. Andrea Barber and Jodi Sweeten are fantastic actresses, Sweeten especially does have some serious material that she absolutely nails. DJ’s children, Jackson and Max (played by Michael Campion and Elias Harger) are decent child actors, in my opinion.


The show does have some small season-long plot threads, but generally, it acts as an old sitcom, where episodes stand alone. I appreciate the baby steps, but as I watched more episodes, I found myself wishing I was watching a more connected story.

The show suffers greatly in its writing. Some lines really cross a line for a cheap joke. Oh, and there are fart jokes. Not many, but they’re here. I detest that kind of comedy and I believe if you need your characters to fart, you probably shouldn’t be writing anything at all.

Where the show really misteps, is its treatment of DJ Tanner. Candace Cameron Bure can act. There’s no mistaking that. But what she has to work with is pretty poor. DJ is a really corny ‘soccer mom.’ There’s nothing wrong with having a ‘silly mother.’ But, it’s taken to the extreme and DJ was never like that as a child. She was the smart, good daughter. She’s almost on the verge of doing slapstick humor and I just hate that.


SPOILERS: Besides DJ’s characterization, there is a bigger problem that I see. And that is the fact that by episode 8, she literally jumps into the arms of a man she barely knows and kisses him.


Now, think about it: DJ’s husband just died. Sure, time has passed by the 8th episode, but not much. DJ barely mentions her late husband after the pilot, in which she was in tears talking to her youngest. There seems to be no grieving period. She’s already wanting to date and making out with guys.

What’s worse, is that right after this kiss, her two older boys are missing their father, and she takes them in front of a mirror as she tells them how they remind her of him. And that tomorrow, they’ll watch old videos of their father.  It’s meant to be a tender moment, but DJ was making out with the temporary vet dude just two minutes ago!

Will Fuller House be a hit with fans of the previous series?  Of course. And, I will be watching the remaining episodes. But, I’m sad to say. Like the art work on the Tanner’s refrigerator, the show is kinda sorta cute but after awhile looks messy and you secretly want to throw it away when no one’s looking.

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Grease: Live! ( A Review. )

Another Network has taken their turn at the MUSICAL NAME: LIVE! television event.

NBC has done three so far: The Sound of Music, Peter Pan and most recently, The Wiz. Most will agree, each attempt got better, with The Wiz being pretty top notch. But, tonight, there was a live musical on FOX. They did GREASE: LIVE! And, how did they do? Did they crash and burn or rise above?

I tried to rally my friends and family to watch this with me. But, I was told, “No way! Did you see Sound of Music? It was AWFUL!.” They didn’t want to take a chance.

So, after a birthday party that evening, I grabbed some popcorn, accessed my DVR recordings and pressed play.


What the production did well:

The Overall Presentation: Unlike NBC, FOX used multiple sound stages. This allowed for better camera movement, and gave the actors more space to work with. Instead of static camera shots, we were skipping along with the actors, moving along with them from the school yard to the diner. It was different and it worked.

The Casting: While it took NBC a few tries, Fox got casting right on their first attempt. Every actor could sing, dance, and act. No one fell short. One might wander about actors in their late 20s to early 30s playing teens, but they pulled it off. None of the actors looked 30 and you could tell they did their best to play teens and not a “30 year old playing a teen.” I was most impressed with Julianne Hough, who had the naive, delicate Sandy down pat.


The Music: All the favorite tunes from Grease are here, with one addition, that I could tell. “All I need is an Angel”, was written for the character of Frenchie, and it was a beautiful song. It added to the story, fit the vibe of the other songs and was catchy.

The Audience: NBC has lacked a live audience for all three of its musicals. An audience is critical for performers, and GREASE: LIVE pulled it off nicely. Audience members sat in bleachers, in “the school yard” or “in the cafeteria.” The audience was able to give energy to the performers, while doubling as student extras. It was genius.

The Costumes/Lighting/Sets: Top notch on all three fronts. Colorful costumes, beautiful sets, and lighting that really made you think Sandy and Danny were at a drive in. Holy cow.

What the Production Could Have Done Better:

Going out to Commercials: Right before a commercial break, Mario Lopez would suddenly appear. Almost always right near the actors, telling us we were watching LIVE and that we’d be right back. This kind of took me out of the story and ruined the illusion. The opening number, sung by Jessie J, also seemed out of place to me. I would have preferred if they had gone the NBC route and played it straight the whole way through.


Technical Trouble: The performance nearly went off perfectly, except for the majority of the high school dance sequence. Audio got terribly scratchy and we even lost audio for about five seconds. Now, mistakes will happen. But, it was just too damn bad it had to happen during the dance.

Aaron Tveit: Okay, okay… don’t get it wrong. Overall, Aaron was phenomenal in the role. He was a great Danny. The problem I had was there are parts in the story where Danny’s physical appearance comes into play. He’s supposed to be good looking, yes, but not muscular. Sandy starts dating Tom, a jock– and Danny tries out for some sports teams to impress her. I was laughing during these parts because, Aaron is in great shape. His biceps were bulging like nobody’s business. So, when Danny can’t throw a basketball or gets taken down by a wrestler, it’s a little comical. I’m sure there could have been some slight script adjustments to account for Tevit’s physique.



Final Thoughts:

Overall, this was a fantastic production. Very few issues. For a “first try”, FOX nailed it and hit a home run. NBC might want to get worried now, because, there’s a new actor in the audition room.

danny and sandy milkshake

Images from

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The Wiz, Live! (a Quick Review.)

For the third time, NBC has brought a musical into our homes, LIVE. And like Dorothy’s three clicks of her heels, the third time has seemed to be the charm, as The Wiz, Live! Was a triumph, to say the least.


Right away, the giant LED screens provide an elegant, yet drab background of the Kansas farm. You know you’re in for a fun ride, once we arrive to Oz.

The book (the script) is new here, with Dorothy struggling with wanting to go “back home” to Omaha. She doesn’t like her new school and thinks Aunt Em works her to the bone. Aunt Em loves her anyway, and tries to tell Dorothy home is not a place, but where you are loved. Dorothy’s parents are gone, but Em does the best she can. And before we know it, a Tornado whips up Dorothy and her house and, you know the rest!

Here’s my quick review:

  • Amber Riley was just perfect as the bubbly Addaperle, whom welcomes Dorothy to Oz. Props to the costumers who put her in blue, this is a nod to the original Oz book.


  • Wow, the Scarecrow (played by Elijah Kelley) was funny here. I loved how he was trying to rush Dorothy along once they met Tin Man. And, let’s give praise to Elijah’s singing as well as that great back flip he landed!


  • Shanice Williams was a fabulous Dorothy. The new book gave Dorothy some spunk. Her line to the crows, “I already killed a witch this morning, and I wasn’t even mad at her!” was great and she delivered it well.  Also, this is almost silly to say, but come on, we know her singing was OFF THE CHARTS. Man, that version of “Home” was just beautiful. Judy Garland has some competition there.


  • I hate to bunch them together, not because they weren’t fantastic on their own, but I loved the Tin Man and Lion. Ne-Yo had a distinct accent and fantastic movement. David Alan Grier made the Lion his own and his comedy shined through.


  • One of the most chilling moments in this show was new— when Dorothy is trying to find the yellow brick road, and her dead mother calls out to her. Her mother is trapped in a tree, and to get her down, the mother advises Dorothy to give her the magic silver shoes. Of course, we find out “mother” is really a creature of the forest, trying to trap Dorothy, who is saved by the Tin Man. This was just a brilliant moment and I can see it being used in other productions.


  • The Emerald City being set up as a nightclub was interesting. I loved the dancing once we got inside. Just wonderful.


  • Queen Latifah. What can I say? Having a female Wizard works here, and she was just great all around. Although, I didn’t like how it is she, and not Dorothy, that help the three friends realize they have brains, a heart, and courage. Dorothy needs to always be the one to tell her friends they’ve had what they sought after. The Wiz is a fake, how does she know?


  • Mary J Blige had me worried in press footage. She didn’t seem evil, at all. But, I was happy to see she was screeching and stomping, in brilliant fashion. Not just a singer saying lines, she was acting. Her melting was great, and the purist in me loves they actually threw water on her, and not Glitter.

Now, onto some negatives:


  • Uzo Aduba was alright. She came across as “the wicked’s glinda”, you know, kind of flighty, silly. And look, I know singing is tough, but she was flat here and there. But, what was very off putting was her hair. Now, here me out. In press footage, Glinda had blond curly hair, to go with her her gold dress. But, Uzo came out in what I think was her actual hair, with little gold jewels in it. It’s not that it looked “bad”. But I’m wondering if getting her in that dress was taking to long and they scrapped the wig. Her look definitely seemed unfinished.

The Wiz Live! - Season 2015

  • Toto. Oh, man, Toto. Where was he? NOWHERE. He came and barked at the farm hands and seemingly missed the tornado. I absolutely hate a production that ignores Toto. And The Wiz, Live! Took it to a new level. He didn’t even go to Oz. Well, that’s a new one.


  • Lastly, after Dorothy sang ‘Home’ and returned home, we literally saw her in Kansas for 5 seconds. The production still had twenty minutes left. We needed a ‘moment.’ Aunt Em rushed to hug Dorothy and Toto, who we hadn’t seen in three hours, jumped in Dorothy’s  arms and… that was it.

Overall, this production was magical. This certainly was the best of the three and it being about Oz was a treat for me, since that’s one of my favorite things. (See what I did there?)

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Twisty Twist- Twist.

As Big Brother fast approaches, fans are buzzing on what kind of twists or turns this season may contain. Returning Players? A rotating conversational room will mirrors all around the room? (See what I did there?)

One of the more popular podcasts, “Rob Has A Podcast” discussed at length, twist ideas submitted by fans. I missed the memo, so I was not able to offer my idea.

However, I’d like to share it, just to see if there might be any interest.

My idea isn’t exactly a “twist” per se, but would rather bring a new character into the house.

“The Big Brother Fairy.”


A Magical Being sent to help the Underdog.

Now, I know… many people are wishing the “Nickelodeon” and “childish” themes were gone from the show, but hear me out.

The Big Brother Fairy would be an actual person, an actress, who enters the house either in person or via the television. She would only appear to one HG, and this HG would be decided by public vote.

Her appearance would be late in the game, so we have established alliances and know the HG’s pretty well.

The Fairy will humorously state she’s been watching  from afar and that this particular HG could use some help.

She’ll offer to grant the HG who sees her one wish.

The HG would then be given three options to choose from.

  1. A video from a family member that can be up to 3 minutes long.
  2. A quick scene from the house, with audio, that will help this particular HG.
  3. Something to do with eviction, like a vote counting more, or changing the veto winner.

The HG would have only a few minutes to decide on their wish.

The Fairy could only appear up to three times in the season and on the third time, she’ll be revealed to all the HG’s.

The wishes could change, obviously. Those were just ones I thought of.

I’d like to think she’d help the underdog of the household, but whom she helps would be from public vote.

Maybe she wouldn’t need to be called a Fairy, but you get the idea.

We’ve seen characters enter the house before, but they’ve never offered any power.

I know some people are purists and don’t want anyone getting any kind of unfair advantage. But this would just be a fun little thing to see. I realize it’s a tad similar to Pandora’s box, but the Fairy would not be offering any punishment.

What do you think of this idea?

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Degrassi is Canceled! (Possibly?) (UPDATED)


The logo, as shown in the season 2 opening.

After 14 years on the air, it looks as though Degrassi has come to an end. Multiple outlets are reporting it is canceled, and will only air the last 12 episodes to be produced.

For a couple years now, the seasons have been in “chunks.” So, when the show might have a “finale”, it was only just the break before the next chunk.

When Degrassi last aired, it was ‘the finale’ of 14A. So, when the show returns, we’re only getting “B” of the season. Sometimes, there is even a C, where the story lines actually conclude.

Information is all over the place. Some say the show is done, for good. Some say, it’s just TeenNick that is concluding airing the series after 14 B. We don’t know.

The writer in me is very, very worried. If the show is indeed canceled, will the viewers get a true send off? Or, will the ‘story of the week’ merely conclude, since what will be airing is “B” of the current season?


Miles starts a fire as he releases anger toward his father.

When we last saw Degrassi, Miles had started a fire at the school (unintentionally) that caused panic for a hot second, until everyone was rescued during the commercial break.

Elsewhere, Zoe was being blackmailed ala Pretty Little Liars style, with creepy dolls and texts from an unknown sender.

Down the hall, Clare had learned Eli was the father of her baby, not Drew— but because Eli had given her hell initially, she was adamant Eli would have nothing to do with the child’s life.

Degrassi is not having a good season. The show peaked in season 12, with the suicide of Cam Saunders— but since then, the show has been reduced to 90210 fodder. The storytelling is not as good as it was 14 years ago. We’ve seen established character traits be tossed aside, sisters move to Africa and yet to return, a transgender characrer die out of nowhere because the actress left the series and a male student struggle with their weight for one episode and suddenly be thin the next.

My point, is that Degrassi needs a genuine send off.

We can’t just see these recent poor plots be resolved in 15 minutes and have the credits roll one last time. We need the show to return to the height it was in Season 12, for one last hurrah.

My hope is that the writers and producers are being given the opportunity to end the series on their terms.

If I were on the writing staff, I would definitely have Emma return, whom was the sole reason this current branch of Degrassi exists. We saw her husband, Spinner, is actually working at the Dot— so she can’t be too far from the school grounds.


Spinner Mason, an original character, returned on the current season. He famously married Emma Nelson, the staple of the series.

Some of you may know I had worked on a script, titled, PRETTY LITTLE GIRL, that took place after Cam’s suicide. This script saw Emma and Craig return, staging a Suicide Awareness Concert.

We can only hope the series is allowed to be tied with a big red bow and have a nice ending.

Whatever it takes, I’m gonna make it through.


The sun sets in a closing shot of an episode.


Jake Epstein, who played Craig Manning, comments on the cancellation.

Jake Epstein, who played Craig Manning, comments on the cancellation.

UPDATE:  It’s been reported that after “14 B” airs on television, the show is being made new again with Degrassi: Next Class on NETFLIX. It’s not clear if NETFLIX is producing or just distributing. But, this could mean better quality writing!

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UNREAL Reality.

Unreal debuted yesterday on Lifetime. The series follows Rachel, a staffer on a reality show, as she forges relationships with the contestants to get that “critical piece of footage.”

I’m a big fan of reality television. I watch Big Brother every year, was a fan of Joe Millionaire and have watched plenty of odd series through the years. (Anyone remember Inner Beauty?)

But, like most people, I did question how ‘real’ these shows were. With Big Brother in particular, for a small fee, you can watch the house live. I would see an event play out in real time. On the show, the event would be out of order, would cut out a moment, etc. I’d take to the message boards, blasting the producers for ‘manipulating’ the footage.

With Joe Millionaire, who can forget when the show used “slurp sounds” and showed footage of a large bushy area, to imply ‘Joe’ and one of the girls was doing the nasty?

With ‘Unreal’, manipulating the show-within-a-show is what the series is all about.

Rachel works on Everlasting, which is a clear reference to The Bachelor. It’s the first night of shooting a new season, and she better not screw up. The season before, she interrupted ‘The Bachelor’ as he was about to dump one of the girls on finale night. This included damaging the set and taking off in a crew member’s car. So, Rachel is on her best behavior tonight.

Rachel, played by Shiri Appleby.

Rachel, played by Shiri Appleby.

While we don’t know Rachel’s actual job title, she mainly spends the episode talking with contestants, getting them to act a certain way for the cameras. Faith is the virgin of the group. The producer wants her to be ‘the one we root for’, but Faith is staying away from ‘The Bachelor.’ With some coaxing, Rachel convinces Faith to approach him and the Producer gets the ‘heart to heart’ she needs.

Faith, the virgin, played by Breeda Wool.

Faith, the virgin, played by Breeda Wool.

Then, there’s Brittany, who the Producer wants as the villain. Things don’t go as planned, but it is Rachel who manages to get her to cry right into camera A. “We can use that in the promo!’ says one of the crew members.

Brittany, the villain, played by Arielle Kebbel.

You might be privy to the real life scandal on The Bachelorette, where the promos are making it look like two of the male contestants are falling in love. There’s probably a ‘Rachel’ there, right?

While Unreal is fictional, it is important to note, the writer of this show was a staffer on The Bachelor in the early days. As a writer, even if you aim to create something competently fictional, there is always some truth to your stories.

UNREAL looks like it’ll be a fantastic series, combining reality with scripted drama. The pilot sure had me on the edge of my seat. It made me question my anger at these Big Brother producers. Yes, we want it to be ‘real’. But, maybe, there does have to be a little coaching so we get an entertaining show.

Unreal airs Mondays on Lifetime.

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