Archive for the Entertainment News Category


Posted in Entertainment News, The Oscars on November 9, 2011 by Miranda Wilding


Decades after her provocative OSCAR acceptance speech, VANESSA REDGRAVE will be honoured at the film academy’s first European tribute to an actor.

THE ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS & SCIENCES said that it will honour Ms. Redgrave this Sunday in London, where she is starring with JAMES EARL JONES in the stage production of DRIVING MISS DAISY.

JAMES EARL JONES, who is to receive an honorary OSCAR Saturday at the ACADEMY’S GOVERNORS AWARDS, will fete his costar in person. The actor is skipping the GOVERNORS AWARDS ceremony in Los Angeles to continue the play’s run without interruption.

He plans to participate by video in the GOVERNORS AWARDS.

Meanwhile, across the pond, the ACADEMY will honour VANESSA REDGRAVE for her five decades in film. The legendary star has been nominated for six ACADEMY AWARDS and won for her supporting role in 1977’s JULIA, playing an anti Nazi activist murdered by the Germans. This latest honour does not involve an OSCAR statuette.

Ms. Redgrave’s win for JULIA led to one of the most startling moments in OSCAR history. The Jewish Defence League had objected to her nomination and picketed the ceremony because Ms. Redgrave had narrated and helped fund a documentary THE PALESTINIAN, which supported a Palestinian state.

In her acceptance speech, Ms. Redgrave praised the ACADEMY for not being intimidated by “a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums whose behaviour is an insult to the stature of Jews all over the world and their great and heroic record of struggle against fascism and oppression.”

Her comments were met by gasps, boos and growing applause.

The ACADEMY honoured producer JEREMY THOMAS in London last year. Previous London honorees include TERRY GILLIAM, HAROLD PINTER and LEWIS GILBERT.


Posted in Entertainment News, Film, Television on August 10, 2011 by Miranda Wilding


He’s the breakout star of HORRIBLE BOSSES, fighting off JENNIFER ANISTON’S advances – and getting a little nuts during a certain vacuum scene.

Still, fans of FX’s raunchy hit IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA all ready know actor CHARLIE DAY as the show’s sweetly off the wall character CHARLIE.

Here are some fascinating facts to peruse before IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY’S season seven premiere arrives on SEPTEMBER 15.


On IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY, CHARLIE constantly chases after THE WAITRESS (MARY ELIZABETH ELLIS), a still unnamed server at a nearby coffee shop (and some time theme restaurant) who he’s obsessed with. THE WAITRESS can’t stand CHARLIE – going as far as to sleep with two of his friends – but in real life, CHARLIE has been married to MARY ELIZABETH since 2006 and the two are expecting their first child in December.


When they were first dating, CHARLIE and MARY ELIZABETH played incestuous twins on a 2004 episode of RENO 911.

“Nothing says, ‘This is the girl I want to marry,‘ like pretending she’s your sister and making out with her to get a job,” CHARLIE facetiously asserted.


CHARLIE actually hails from Rhode Island – and he even lived in New York’s Harlem neighbourhood for a while – and now resides in Los Angeles. Although he said he digs Philly, there’s one familiar staple he doesn’t enjoy: “I don’t care for cheesesteaks. They make me shit my pants.”


In 2000, CHARLIE made his first TV appearance, playing a mailroom clerk in the TV reunion movie MARY & RHODA, starring MARY TYLER MOORE and VALERIE HARPER.


Both of his parents are music teachers and CHARLIE’S written a lot of the music featured on IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY. But CHARLIE is a classical music fan. DEBUSSY is a favourite and he admits to trying to learn CLAIR DE LUNE on piano through YouTube instructional videos.

“I think I got to a certain age where I decided I’d rather be a baseball player than a musician,” he said of giving up on piano lessons as a child.

“Now, like most kids, I regret it.”


Posted in Entertainment News, Phenomenons, Television on August 4, 2011 by Miranda Wilding

This article is written by JANE at

I recently interviewed ROSEANNE BARR on my SIRIUS XM show and then she answered all my listeners’ queries and THE SAME FIVE QUESTIONS WE ALWAYS ASK. See this awesome lady on ROSEANNE’S NUTS on WEDNESDAYS at 9:00 PM on LIFETIME.

JANE: What is the closest you’ve ever come to being arrested?

ROSEANNE BARR: I have been arrested. For hitchhiking in Denver, Colorado…and went to jail for it. Jesus, that was in the early 70s. We all used to hitchhike. But it was against the law. I hitchhiked cross country. I don’t recommend it. If my kids would try to do that, I’d chain em in the basement. It was so…I shouldn’t say positive.

But when I did it, you know, it was so fun. I didn’t have a dime in my pocket. I have to thank a lot of great truckers. I love truckers. They’d take me and my girlfriend and they’d buy us breakfast and we just rode in trucks and heard great stories, coast to coast. Nothing bad ever happened. Nobody was ever a creep or crazy like they are now.

You wanna hear a scary story? You know DEBBIE HARRY? The great DEBBIE HARRY. Well, she told me that one time – she used to hitchhike, too – she got in a car with this guy in a Volkswagon. Five years later she saw it on TV…and it was Ted Bundy. She could tell he was trying to get somewhere mentally with her, get her into a mental state. She was like, “I’m outta here!” You know DEBBIE.

JANE: I would’ve gone right along with him.

ROSEANNE: You think you’d be a victim?

JANE: Of course. Because I like to take care of people. I’m codependent. So I would have seen him with his fake cast and that little VW bug and I would have been right over there like, “Oh, how can I help?”

ROSEANNE: That’s what happened to a lot of poor girls. But I’m codependent too and I realized it when I was looking at my boyfriend JOHNNY. I go, you know, I think I need an enabler.

JANE: What’s the weirdest thing you do when you’re alone?

ROSEANNE: Twitter nude. Oh, here’s my Twitter: @therealrosanne. It won’t give me a blue [verified] check, so stop asking me why I don’t have a blue check or I’ll ban you. They won’t give me one. They stole my name: ROSEANNE BARR. And I’m like you, I don’t own my name. I’m gonna sue her [the person who has that Twitter handle].

Remember ANDY KAUFMAN? “I’m from Hollywood. Do you understand what that means?”

I’ll own you and I’ll have Twitter by the time I get my lawyers on your ass. They hold your name hostage. It’s like identity theft. What the hell…? I’m not gonna pay em. They’re like, “It’ll cost you $50,000 for your name.”

F you! I don’t have to pay for my name. Goddamn pirate. You know what I mean? Don’t get me started.

JANE: What pills do you take every day?

ROSEANNE: None. I can’t remember to take my vitamins either. I wish I could remember to take pills every day. I paid $1,000 for vitamins – I never take em. I can’t remember anything.

JANE: Is there anything else you can’t do?

ROSEANNE: My hips are bad. I think I need a hip replacement. That’s why I can’t do that DANCING WITH THE STARS shit.

JANE: Oh, you’d be so brilliant on that too.

ROSEANNE: I really wanna do that show.

JANE: Who is on your celebrities to make out with list?

ROSEANNE: Oh Jesus. CHER. If I get married again I wanna marry CHER. I’m in love with CHER. I would love to – no, maybe not make out with her. I’d like to hang out with her and marry her, but I don’t know about making out with her. I have a thing about kissing and germs. I don’t like to shake hands or kiss. So, I don’t know. But I think CHER is fascinating.

And guy wise – who’s my guy crush? I have a lot of those. PAUL SCULFOR. There’s a picture of me and PAUL. Yeah. I just stared at PAUL. He’s pretty handsome. He’s gorgeous. He’s the new somebody. So he can get a discount on luggage. I’m so thrilled. But he’s gorgeous.

I like RACHEL WEISZ’S husband. What’s his name? DANIEL CRAIG. I think he’s hot too. He’s very masculine. RUSSELL CROWE – even though he’s crazy, I love RUSSELL CROWE. I think I would make out with RUSSELL CROWE except his nose is too long so it would poke you. You know when you’re making out…the long nose, that wouldn’t be good.

I shouldn’t say I’d make out with anyone ’cause I have the best, most handsome boyfriend in the world. I’ve never seen a more handsome man than my boyfriend or met a more interesting man. He’s the one, for real. In the morning when I see him, I’m so happy. I like him. I don’t hate him. It’s been 8 years…and I still don’t hate him. I’ve seen him every day for 8 years, talked to him every day for 8 years and I still like him.


Posted in Entertainment News, Phenomenons on July 8, 2011 by Miranda Wilding

This article is written by GREG ARCHER at THE HUFFINGTON POST

The iconic actor who became famous for appearing in a cloud of smoke from that lovely bottle on the hit NBC TV series I DREAM OF JEANNIE resurfaced earlier this year with the release of her memoir JEANNIE OUT OF A BOTTLE.

It’s a captivating read that chronicles, among other things, her years struggling as a studio player – she captured interest playing opposite the likes of CLINT EASTWOOD, PAUL NEWMAN and WARREN BEATTY – and behind the scenes musings about her professional relationship with TV costar LARRY HAGMAN. But the book also dives into deep emotional waters as she opens up about several personal tragedies she’s had to weather.

BARBARA has been on a wild book tour, which found her trotting the globe to places like Australia. She hits San Francisco this weekend for a tribute launched by MARC HUESTIS. I recently caught up with her for a magical chat.

GREG ARCHER: You’ve had a stellar career. So when you look back on things now, what are some insights that come to mind?

BARBARA EDEN: What it is, for me, is just a working actor’s life. That’s what it is. One thing sort of rolled into another.

GA: Do you feel that writing the book was cathartic? What are some of things you learned about yourself?

BE: No. It wasn’t cathartic. It was extremely difficult.

GA: I love that you just admitted that.

BE: It’s really tough if you’re going to write a book and be honest. And there’s no point in doing it…if you’re going to tell your life story, you may as well be honest about it. I’m glad I did it. Several people had asked me to do it before…

GA: You were hesitant?

BE: I didn’t want to do it. At all!

GA: How come?

BE: You know…it’s my life. It wasn’t really for public consumption. I don’t think anyone’s life really is. You don’t need to know how many times a person goes to the laundry or how many times they brush their teeth. It was almost similar to that, to me. It’s not quite that far, but almost. I think, perhaps, a few things I said will be of value to women who have been in the position I was in.

GA: So…the show. You three (including LARRY HAGMAN and BILL DALY) were a great trio.

BE: We just worked really hard. I knew that I loved working with LARRY. For me, it was a dream. He’s a fine actor. Our rhythms were the same – we fit. And of course, BILL was adorable. We had a good, good cast.

GA: Were you surprised by the longevity of the show and the success?

BE: Oh yeah. I didn’t really surface until a few years ago. I had been working on other things and I was driving along Sunset Boulevard and I looked up and there’s this huge picture on the side of a building – this huge replica of JEANNIE and I went, “Holy mackerel!”

It was from TV LAND I think. And it hit me – it’s [the show] still there. And of course, I’ve gone to Europe [with my husband] and I walked into the airport in Rome and there it was on the television screen in the waiting room. It’s fun. I like her [JEANNIE]. She’s easy to live with.

GA: What do you think it is – about that character, that show – that people really resonated with?

BE: I have no idea. Fantasy is a big draw. But there have been a lot of shows with fantasy. And still are. Maybe because of the space program. Most of the time, they were all in uniform so it isn’t as dated. And it does keep people from their everyday lives. It’s goofy and silly and fun.

One day, when my family was still living in San Francisco, I flew up to visit for the weekend and I was sitting in the airport and a gentleman came over from a group he was sitting with and said, “If you don’t mind, I’d like to take care of you; I’d like to tell you we enjoy your show and how grateful we are that it’s there for us.”

I said, “Thank you.” He said, “But first, you have to know what we do. We’re at Stanford; we’re psychiatrists. We’re really really grateful to have that show at the end of the day.”

GA: Tell me what you love most about performing and acting…and being in that space?

BE: Well, I loved the freedom to be someone other than myself. [Laughs]. It’s wonderful to have someone else give you the lines – the words. You sort of crawl into them and perform them. No other responsibility other than truthful to the writer’s words. I like that.

GA: I imagine there would be some liberation in that?

BE: There really is. Your self is gone. Little pieces of you go into the character but you’re free. You’re free.

GA: Early in your career, and certainly growing up, who were your more interesting life influences? Who helped shape who you became?

BE: My family, of course. My mother. But I had a great support system. We didn’t have much money – we had none actually. My dad worked for the telephone company in San Francisco and didn’t even make ends meet. They were young parents and had a good time…and I was part of it. They couldn’t afford a babysitter so they took me with them everywhere. I learned, early on, to sit in a corner and read my books. I loved to read. But my aunt and mother and my grandmother really influenced me a lot.

They’d walk me to the library to get a library card when I was 2. And that was a big deal to me. I didn’t know how to read, but I loved checking out the books and they read to me. Consequently, I am now addicted to reading.

GA: The belly button issue on the show? Are you tired about being asked this question?

BE: It’s amazing to me. It started out as a joke. A reporter from THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER came on the set and we’d kid around and he said, “I don’t believe you have a navel. Where’s your belly button?”

And he began to write about it and the stringers across the country picked up on it and it snowballed into a cause celeb. Then GEORGE SCHLATTER, who was producing LAUGH IN, decided that he’d like to premiere my navel. Well that caused the world to collapse at NBC. He said he walked into this meeting and that he had never seen so many, quote – suits – unquote, sitting around a big walnut table discussing someone’s belly button. He said it was the most ridiculous meeting he ever had. And of course, they told him no.

GA: I have to ask: the bottle. That was a trip. Did you get to keep anything from it?

BE: Not the big bottle [on the set], but I do have the little one. And it’s going on its way to THE SMITHSONIAN this fall. I am giving it to them. I didn’t realize how valuable it was until recently. And it survived a couple of earthquakes.

GA: Well…it’s a magical bottle. It would have to, right?

BE: Right. {Laughs}

GA: You have a big gay following, too. Do you think if JEANNIE were around today she could, or would, you know…just make same sex marriage legal?

BE: [Laughs] She would do it in a blink!

GA: What’s some of the best advice you have been given about life?

BE: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Just forge ahead.


Posted in Entertainment News, Film on June 27, 2011 by Miranda Wilding

I adored this man. I’ll miss him a great deal. There will never be anyone like him again.

The inimitable KEN TUCKER of EW has a wonderful tribute right here.

PETER FALK, who marshaled actorly tics, prop room appurtenances and his own physical idiosyncrasies to personify COLUMBO, one of the most famous and beloved fictional detectives in television history, died on Thursday night at his home in Beverly Hills.

He was 83.

His family announced his passing in a statement, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS reported. He had been treated for Alzheimer’s in recent years.

Mr. Falk had a wide ranging career in comedy and drama, in the movies and
on stage, before and during the three and a half decades in which he
portrayed the slovenly but canny lead on COLUMBO. He was nominated for two OSCARS; appeared in original stage productions of works by PADDY CHAYEFSKY, NEIL SIMON and ARTHUR MILLER, worked with directors FRANK CAPRA, JOHN CASSAVETES, BLAKE EDWARDS and MIKE NICHOLS and costarred with the likes of FRANK SINATRA, JACK LEMMON, BETTE DAVIS and JASON ROBARDS.

But Mr. Falk’s prime time popularity was founded on a single role.

A lieutenant in the Los Angeles Police Department, COLUMBO was a comic variation on the traditional fictional detective. With the keen mind of SHERLOCK HOLMES and PHILIP MARLOWE, he was cast in the mold of neither. He wasn’t a gentleman scholar or a tough guy. He was instead a mass of quirks and peculiarities, a seemingly distracted figure in a rumpled raincoat.

He drove a battered Peugeot, was unfailingly polite, was sometimes
accompanied by a basset hound named DOG and was constantly referring to the wisdom of his wife (who was never seen on screen) and a variety of relatives and acquaintances who were identified in Homeric epithet like shorthand – an uncle who played the bagpipes with the Shriners, say, or a nephew majoring in dermatology at UCLA – and who were called to mind by the circumstances of the crime at hand.

It was a low rent effect that was especially irksome to the high society
murderers he outwitted in episode after episode.

Mr. Falk had a glass eye, resulting from an operation to remove a cancerous
tumour when he was 3 years old. The prosthesis gave all his characters a
peculiar, almost quizzical squint. And he had a mild speech impediment that
gave his L’s a breathy quality, a sound that emanated from the back of his
throat and that seemed especially emphatic whenever, in character, he
introduced himself as LIEUTENANT COLUMBO.

Such a deep well of eccentricity made COLUMBO amusing as well as incisive, not to mention a progenitor of later characters like TONY SHALHOUB’S MONK. And it made him an especially suitable central figure for the detective story niche in which he lived, where whodunit was irrelevant and how it was done was paramount.

From 1968 to 2003, Mr. Falk played the character dozens of times, mostly in
the format of a 90 minute or two hour television movie.

“What are you hanging around for?” Mr. Falk wrote, describing the appeal of the show in JUST ONE MORE THING, an anecdotal memoir (2006), whose title was a trademark line of COLUMBO’S – usually indicating the jig was up.

“Just one more thing. You want to know how he gets caught.”

When COLUMBO, the ordinary man as hero, brought low the greedy and murderous privileged of Beverly Hills, Malibu and Brentwood, they were implicit victories for the many over the few.

“This is, perhaps, the most thoroughgoing satisfaction Columbo offers us,” JEFF GREENFIELD wrote in THE NEW YORK TIMES in 1973, “the assurance that those who dwell in marble and satin, those whose clothes, food, cars and mates are the very best, do not deserve it.”

PETER MICHAEL FALK was born on SEPTEMBER 16, 1927 in New York City and grew up in Ossining, N.Y., where his father owned a clothing store and where, in spite of his missing eye, he was a high school athlete. In one story he liked to tell, after being called out at third base during a baseball game, he removed his fake eye and handed it to the umpire.

“You’ll do better with this,” he said.

After high school, Mr. Falk went briefly to Hamilton College in upstate New York before dropping out and joining the Merchant Marines as a cook. He later returned to New York City, where he earned a degree in political
science from the New School For Social Research before attending Syracuse
University, where he received a master’s degree in public administration.

He took a job in Hartford as an efficiency expert for the Connecticut budget bureau. It was in Connecticut that he began acting, joining an amateur troupe called THE MARK TWAIN MASKERS in Hartford and taking classes from EVA LE GALLIENNE at the WHITE BARN THEATER in Westport. He was 29 when he decided to move to New York again, this time to be an actor.

He made his professional debut in an Off Broadway production of MOLIERE’S
DON JUAN in 1956. In 1957 he was cast as the bartender in the famous
CIRCLE IN THE SQUARE revival of THE ICEMAN COMETH, directed by JOSE QUINTERO and starring JASON ROBARDS; he made his first splash on screen, as ABE (KID TWIST) RELES, a violent mob thug, in the 1960 film MURDER INC. That performance earned him an OSCAR nomination for BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR and a moment of high embarrassment at the awards ceremony. When the winner was announced – it was PETER USTINOV for SPARTACUS – Mr. Falk heard the first name and stood, only to have to sit back down again a moment later.

“When I hit the seat I turned to the press agent and said, ‘You’re fired!”’ Mr. Falk wrote in his memoir.

“I didn’t want him charging me for another day.”

The next year, newly married to his Syracuse classmate ALYCE MAYO – they would have two daughters and divorce in 1976 – Mr. Falk was again nominated for a SUPPORTING ACTOR OSCAR for playing a mobster, though this time with a more light hearted stripe, in the final film to be directed by FRANK CAPRA, POCKETFUL OF MIRACLES, starring BETTE DAVIS and GLENN FORD.

From then on, Mr. Falk, who was swarthy, squat (he was 5’6″) and
handsome, had to fend off offers to play gangsters. He did take such a part
in ROBIN & THE 7 HOODS, alongside FRANK SINATRA, DEAN MARTIN and SAMMY DAVIS JR., but fearful of typecasting, he also took roles
in epic comedic japes like IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD and THE GREAT RACE.

He returned to the stage as well, in the title role of Stalin, in PADDY CHAYEFSKY’S THE PASSION OF JOSEF D, which earned him solid reviews in spite of the show’s brief run (14 performances). Mr. Falk played Stalin “with brilliant unsmiling ferocity,” HOWARD TAUBMAN wrote in his largely positive review in THE NEW YORK TIMES.

His life was forever changed in 1967 when, reportedly after both BING CROSBY and LEE J. COBB turned down the role, he was cast as COLUMBO in the television film PRESCRIPTION: MURDER.

The film, about a psychiatrist who kills his wife with the help of one of his patients, was written by RICHARD LEVINSON and WILLIAM LINK; they had adapted it from their stage play, which opened in San Francisco and Boston in 1964 and which itself was an adaptation. Mr. Levinson and Mr. Link first wrote the story in 1960 for a series called THE CHEVY MYSTERY SHOW. It was on that program – the episode was titled ENOUGH ROPE – that COLUMBO made his debut as a character, played by BERT FREED.

But it was Mr. Falk who made him a legend.

During the filming it was he who rejected the fashionable attire the costume shop had laid out for him; it was he who chose the raincoat – one of his own – and who matched the rest of the detective’s clothes to its shabbiness. It was he who picked out the Peugeot from the studio motor pool, a convertible with a flat tire and needing a paint job that, he reflected “even matched the raincoat.”

And as the character grew, the line between the actor and the character grew hazier. They shared a general disregard for nattiness, an informal mode of speech, an obsession with detail, an irrepressible absentmindedness. Even COLUMBO’S favourite song THIS OLD MAN, which seemed to run through his mind (and the series) like a broken record was one that Mr. Falk had loved from childhood and that ended up in the show because he was standing around humming it one day, in character, when COLUMBO was waiting for someone to come to the phone.

Three years passed between the first COLUMBO movie and the second, RANSOM FOR A DEAD MAN, which became the pilot that launched the show as a regular network offering. It was part of a revolving wheel of Sunday night mysteries with recurring characters that appeared under the rubric NBC MYSTERY THEATER. The first set included McCLOUD, with DENNIS WEAVER and McMILLAN & WIFE, with ROCK HUDSON and SUSAN ST. JAMES.

In between, Mr. Falk made HUSBANDS, the first of his collaborations with
his friend JOHN CASSAVETES. The others were A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE in 1974, a brutally realistic portrayal of a marriage undermined by mental illness, directed by Mr. Cassavetes and costarring GENA ROWLANDS and MIKEY & NICKY in 1976, a dark buddy comedy directed by ELAINE MAY in which the two men played the title roles.

In 1971 he once again returned to Broadway, in NEIL SIMON’S angry comedy THE PRISONER OF SECOND AVENUE.

In later years, Mr. Falk starred in several notable films – MURDER BY DEATH (1976), THE IN LAWS (1979), THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987) and
TUNE IN TOMORROW… (1990) among them – and in 1998 he opened Off Broadway in the title role of ARTHUR MILLER’S play MR. PETER’S CONNECTION, a portrait of an older man trying to make sense out of his life as it comes to an end.

By that time, however, Mr. Falk and COLUMBO had become more or less interchangeable as cultural references. Mr. Peters, BEN BRANTLEY wrote in his review of the play in THE TIMES, “is as genuinely perplexed as Columbo, his aggressively rumpled television detective, only pretends to be.”

Actor/comedian MICHAEL McKEAN said, “Peter Falk’s assault on conventional stardom went like this: You’re not conventionally handsome, you’re missing an eye and you have a speech impediment. Should you become a movie star? Peter’s correct answer: Absolutely.”

“I got to hang with him a few times and later worked a day with him on a forgettable TV movie,” MICHAEL went on, calling PETER “a sweet, sharp and funny man with a great soul. Wim Wenders called it correctly in Wings Of Desire: He was an angel if there ever was one on earth.”

“There is literally nobody you could compare him to. He was a completely unique actor,” commented ROB REINER, who directed PETER in THE PRINCESS BRIDE.

“His personality was really what drew people to him…He had this great sense of humour and this great natural quality nobody could come close to.” PETER’S work with ALAN ARKIN in THE IN LAWS represented “one of the most brilliant comedy pairings we’ve seen on screen.”

“We lost someone who is very special and dear to my heart. Not only a wonderful actor but a very great friend,” stated the legendary GENA ROWLANDS.

Mr. Falk is survived by his second wife, actor SHERA DANESE and his two daughters JACKIE and CATHERINE.


Posted in Entertainment News, Film on May 13, 2011 by Miranda Wilding


The video store used to be a buzzing hub of activity, a place guaranteed to be packed on weekends with movie buffs standing elbow to elbow casually poring over vast selections of films to take home.

ADAM GRANT wistfully recalled the glory days at his local shop, where strangers became fast friends over their mutual admiration for a film or a director’s work.

But he fears those days are pretty much over.

There’s less excitement now during his still regular trips to the video shop and he frets that his local haunt in Toronto, a BLOCKBUSTER outlet, is on borrowed time given recent news that the chain’s Canadian operations were forced into receivership, putting its 400 odd stores in limbo.

“What I really liked about it was the social element. You go in there on a Friday or Saturday night — even a Monday or Tuesday if you’re bored — and you could spend an hour or two in there easily, engaging and educating yourself.”

BLOCKBUSTER may not disappear entirely — U.S. creditors are looking for suitors to purchase the Canadian business — but there’s no question the industry’s best years are behind it.

Plenty of smaller stores are hurting too. VIDEOMATICA, a Vancouver indie institution, recently announced it’ll be closing shop in the months ahead after 28 years in business.

ADAM GRANT, a fan of physical media and collector of VHS tapes, DVDs and Blurays, fears the digital world isn’t really ready to fill the void should video stores vanish and he’s worried it’ll get even harder to find rare films.

The limitless nature of the internet suggests cinephiles should one day be able to view any movie, any time, much like streaming music services now serve as an enormous virtual jukebox with millions of tracks instantly available. No more having to canvas video stores across town for a hard to find title, or being forced to buy a copy because no one has it to rent.

But we’re nowhere near that reality yet, especially in Canada.

While NETFLIX has made major inroads since launching here last September, with 800,000 subscribers now paying $7.99 a month for unlimited access to thousands of movies and TV shows, critics complain that the streaming site doesn’t have many new releases and its library is still limited.

Meanwhile, a number of channels exist for renting new releases and older titles online, such as Apple’s iTunes, Cineplex and Rogers On Demand Online. Most of the latest movies are available, particularly hit Hollywood fare, but to say there are gaps in the online back catalogues is a huge understatement.

“I think it’s a really scary trend that things will go completely digital at some point. A lot of movies could disappear because I don’t think the digital service providers will find much point in streaming them,” ADAM GRANT commented.

The fear is not completely unfounded, given that digital video represents just a tiny slice of rental revenue today.

Even in the U.S., which has far better access to digital content in terms of the numbers of titles available, the digital share of the business was only about three per cent last year., the Canadian company that currently rents videos by mail, is readying its jump into the digital market through a partnership with SAMSUNG to offer rentals through internet connected TVs, Bluray players and other home theatre products.

CEO SCOTT RICHARDS also hinted in an interview that the company has a plan to offer an all access NETFLIX type plan in the future, although he conceded “it’s not in 2011.”

He hopes online rentals will complement Zip’s current business and help solve a problem that’s frustrated customers: long waiting lists to access new releases. If Zip customers really want to see the latest movie they’ll be able to — if they’re willing to pay the rental fee.

“When a hot new movie launches, we’ve never been able to satisfy demand by mailing DVDs, we’ve just never been able to keep up with it, the hotter the movie the more people we’ve disappointed,” SCOTT RICHARDS stated.

But the sleeper piece of Zip’s strategy is not digital, SCOTT RICHARDS added, although it is rooted in a new technology: kiosks.

Zip has a fleet of vending machines currently in production that will expand on a pilot project that put kiosks in grocery stores in Ottawa. Kiosks are already a huge business in the U.S., with market leader Redbox having deployed 27,000 machines across the country, offering rentals at $1 a day.

SCOTT RICHARDS expects Zip’s pricing will be set at $2 a day for new releases and plans to roll out the new kiosks in the Greater Toronto Area first.

While he believes in digital, he expects it’ll take time for mainstream consumers to migrate on line and hopes Zip’s kiosks will scoop up business where video stores disappear.

“If it turns out that a lot of brick and mortar stores start to close there’s going to be a huge vacuum that the kiosks are going to play a major role in, as we transition over time to digital.”

“The majority of Canadians are still taking a DVD and sticking it in a player, that’s the most typical thing that still happens, so we’re not guessing as to when a tipping point comes (exactly). The factors of what happens to Blockbuster here – the factors of what happens with studio deals in years to come – those will all play factors in how fast we as Canadians adopt digital.”

ROGERS said it has a theory as to when digital will take over — which it won’t publicly divulge — but the transition has clearly begun, says chief marketing officer JOHN BOYNTON.

“The dramatic growth in video on demand on the cable side, the transfer of some people who want to watch it on line and our explosive growth in the Rogers on Demand Online product is a good indication that customers are looking for way more flexibility than some of the old traditional models.”

But the demand to rent physical discs hasn’t gone away — and probably won’t soon — so Rogers is continuing to fine tune its stores rather than just shut them all down. In recent years, stores have become customer service hubs for ROGERS’ different businesses and now carry cable boxes, mobile phones, computer products and video game consoles and games.

And, of course, movies.

“The customer doesn’t suddenly stop (wanting to rent videos) tomorrow…That doesn’t happen,” JOHN BOYNTON said.

“These trends happen over time and more and more, more of our effort and emphasis in terms of what happens in that store will start to move more and more to some of the vehicles you’re already starting to see take off.”

That’s good news for ADAM GRANT, who doesn’t look forward to the day that all video discovery is done on a screen.

“There’s something to be said for the tangible item in your hand and being able to look at the cover, look at who’s in it and what it’s about. And I think it loses intimacy when you have to have it just in digital format.”

“At the video store you could find a movie to change your life or change your viewpoint on so many different things.”


Posted in Entertainment News, Theatre on May 10, 2011 by Miranda Wilding


Since his EMMY winning days as Assistant D.A. DAN FIELDING on NIGHT COURT, JOHN LARROQUETTE has had his own sitcom and guest starred on everything from BOSTON LEGAL to CHUCK and PARKS & RECREATION.

The New Orleans native is currently hoofing it up on Broadway opposite HARRY POTTER star DANIEL RADCLIFFE in the revival of HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING. It’s going so well, he just received a TONY nomination for his work.

In our chat (which took place a few days before the TONY noms) JOHN LARROQUETTE talked to POPEATER about “perfect gentleman” DANIEL RADCLIFFE, his obsession with first edition modern books, the joys of playing TV villains and his Gothic Southern Catholic boy roots.

NICKI GOSTIN: So this is your Broadway debut. Dream come true?

JOHN LARROQUETTE: I think there are only so many places an actor can act and make a living. The high class problem of being on a TV series for the last 25 years or so is it never gave me the freedom to be able to donate the time for a run like this.

NG: Considering how famous DANIEL RADCLIFFE is, he’s surprisingly normal. Right?

JL: Yes, he is. I wasn’t surprised. I didn’t know anything about him before being offered the job and I thought well, we’ll see who he is and if we get along. He’s incredibly well grounded and a consummate professional. He’s a workaholic. He’s serious about it and he has wonderful talents. I worked with another child star toward the adolescent part of his career and he was a little more troubled. DAN is a perfect gentleman.

NG: I assume you’d seen HARRY POTTER movies before you met him.

JL: Yes, I had. I became aware of the book through a friend of mine very, very early on. I read the first two and liked them very much. I collect modern first editions.

NG: What’s your favourite first edition?

JL: That’s sort of like picking your children. But I would say emotionally I have a couple of copies of A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES by JOHN KENNEDY TOOLE and it’s very personal for me because it’s set in my home town of New Orleans. My area of collecting is 20th century fiction. So all the big names of 20th century fiction. I have about 8 to 10,000 books. A large portion of that is dedicated to the works of SAMUEL BECKETT.

NG: Do you have a special library?

JL: I have a library. In California you don’t have to worry so much about bugs and humidity. The thing you have to worry about the most is light. CATCHER IN THE RYE, it’s got a red cover and it goes around the spine. If it sits on the shelf for a long time the red on the spine fades. So I have boxes built that look like the book and the book goes in the box.

NG: Does the cleaning lady have to put on special gloves to clean?

JL: No, it’s not that bad and I dust my own bookshelves and rotate them occasionally so weight is distributed evenly across the boards.

NG: Do people think you’re that misogynistic guy from NIGHT COURT?

JL: Perchance when the show was on that was more prevalent. But as time went on and I did other stuff they realized I was an actor. That show was on for nine years and that character made an impact. Regardless of how misanthropic or misogynistic he would become sometimes, people would pull for him because they realized deep down he was vulnerable and soft and not really an evil person. Just not a very socialized one. I think villainy has a little more spice to it than the hero a lot of the times. So it’s fun to play.

NG: Any sitcom you haven’t been on that you’d like to be on?

JL: I think a show that would be fun to work on is MODERN FAMILY. I think it’s very well done. It’s a very good show.

NG: You’re a member of the Libertarian party. Correct?

JL: That’s not true in the strictest sense. I think my protest votes over the last twenty years has been to always vote for whatever milkman or accountant that the Libertarian party was running for President just because of my feelings about politicians all together. I would just like really smart, compassionate people in office. I don’t care what stripe they are. The old saying is we get the leaders we deserve.

NG: You have a very deep sonorous voice. You sound like you could be a cantor.

JL: I’m about as far away from being Jewish as a French Catholic boy from New Orleans can be.

NG: You seem like quite a serious guy.

JL: I know a lot of comic actors and as a group we’re serious people. SAMUEL BECKETT said there’s nothing funnier than unhappiness. To be really funny you have to be familiar with the dark side, with the pain of life to put it into a light that might be humorous. I’m not a misanthrope but I read a lot of very serious stuff.

I’m a Gothic Southern Catholic boy.