2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • TV Review – ABC’s “The Quest”

    Thu, July 31, 2014 by Terry Terrones with no comments

    theQuest

    “The Quest

    Cast: Twelve reality show contestants ages 22-41 from around the country

    Airs: The premiere episode airs at 7 p.m. Thursday on ABC

    The premise: “The Quest” is a new reality based competition series that takes 12 contestants to a world where ogres run free in the forest, dragons stir, agents of a dark lord infiltrate the keep, and the only thing standing between peace and chaos are one dozen very unlikely heroes. In and around a castle, a fantasy world called Ever Realm comes to life with state-of-the art projections, animatronics, prosthetics and art direction. The narrative and mythology of “The Quest” is designed to blend with the unexpected actions and decisions of the contestants. The show is filmed on location in Austria was created by the executive producer of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and the executive producers of “The Amazing Race.”

    Highs: While researching this show I was leery on exactly what was meant by “reality based competition.” Initially I thought this meant this was a fake reality show but it’s not. There is a storyline in “The Quest” but the actions of the contestants are completely up to them. It’s like watching someone go through the world’s most immersive Disneyland ride. There are actors in character who provide background, ambience and plot points and help tell the story of the show to the contestants. It all adds a sense that what’s going on is real.

    The sets are first rate and add to the convincing atmosphere. I’m not sure how much money was spent on this production but it seems like a ton. I hate to use the theme park reference again, but I just kept thinking this would be “Medieval World” if Disney had something like that.

    The cast is diverse and interesting. They’re a nice mix of men, women, racial backgrounds and professions. They’re into what’s going on, but not so much to seem overly enthusiastic and not so little that it looks like they’re making fun of the process. The cast knows it’s a TV show, but they’re having fun with getting lost in the experience. This helps set the tone for how viewers should experience the show.

    Lows: One of the most enjoyable things about watching a reality show is living vicariously through its participants. When I watch “Chopped,” I wonder how well I would do because I only know how to make grilled cheese sandwiches and ham and cheese omelettes. And toast. And cereal. When I watch “Survivor” I picture myself on the island, then after an episode airs I talk strategy with my brother for an hour. When I watch “The Amazing Race” I wonder how my brother and I would do. Do I feel the same way about “The Quest?” No. I’m as nerdy as they come but even I would never want to be on this show.

    Grade: (B-): While it fails the “Vicarious Living” test, there is still plenty of fun to be had with “The Quest.” In many ways this program is much more like a live action choose your own adventure story than reality show. If viewed that way there’s an escapist vibe to “The Quest” that’s a lot less expensive to experience than anything at Universal Studios or Disneyland.

     

  • Activision announces collector’s editions for ‘Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’

    Wed, July 30, 2014 by Terry Terrones with no comments

    CoDAW

    Another year, another edition of “Call of Duty.” This week Activision announced three different collector’s editions for the latest version of CoD, “Advanced Warfare,” set to come out in November.

    So which version will you choose to pwn some newbs with? Will it be the Atlas Pro Edition, Atlas Limited Edition or Atlas Digital Pro Edition? Yeah, I know. The names for these different versions of CoD are about as original as the names of George Foreman’s sons. But don’t lie, you know you’ll get one of them. Read below for all the details from the Activision press release sent out yesterday. All of these editions are available for pre-order now, with the exception of the Digital Pro which you can reserve at a yet to be announced later date.

    - Inspired by the Atlas Corporation, the leading Private Military Corporation (PMC) in 2054 and lead by the influential Jonathan Irons, the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Atlas Limited Edition features an extensive array of both digital and physical content, including a bonus multiplayer map Atlas Gorge, a collectible SteelBook™, the Welcome to Atlas: Advanced Soldier Manual, and the Atlas Digital Content Pack, a collection of digital content that includes an Atlas-themed exoskeleton, Atlas-themed weaponry, and more. (SRP $79.99)

    - Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Atlas Digital Pro Edition is perfect for fans that prefer to access all of their content digitally.  The Atlas Digital Pro Edition includes all of the same bold digital content as the Atlas Pro Edition, including the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Season Pass, bonus multiplayer map Atlas Gorge, and the Atlas Digital Content Pack.  Also included with this version is the Atlas Digital Edition Personalization Pack, with more details to be revealed soon. (SRP $99.99)

    - Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Atlas Pro Edition is the ultimate package, including everything available in the Atlas Limited Edition version (bonus multiplayer map Atlas Gorge, the collectible SteelBook™, the Welcome to Atlas: Advanced Soldier Manual, and the Atlas Digital Content Pack), as well as the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Season Pass featuring four action-packed DLC Map Packs*, each delivering a collection of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare multiplayer content and more (SRP $119.99)

     All three versions include the following:

    Atlas Gorge Bonus Multiplayer Map – Atlas Gorge re-envisions the fan-favorite Call of Duty® 4: Modern Warfare® map, Pipeline, re-imagined for the new Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare exoskeleton abilities. The Atlas Corporation has commandeered the world’s largest power source, the Three Gorges Dam in central China, creating a gripping setting for a multiplayer battle. Combatants will navigate the shadows and control a map-based turret scorestreak that overlooks the dam and helps to keep enemies at bay, all while leveraging new abilities and tactics enabled by exoskeleton technology, such as vertical combat, new sightlines, and strategic vantage points.

    Atlas Digital Content PackAtlas Corporation-themed, in-game content including:

    Two (2) Weapons – The Bal-27 AE Assault Rifle and the Atlas 45 AE Pistol: Trick out your loadout with these two sleek weapons fitted with an Atlas Corporation theme to match your other custom content.

    Atlas Exoskeleton: Strike fear into competition with your PMC-issued, white, red & black custom Atlas exoskeleton, and ensure opponents remember who took them out.

    Atlas Helmet: A state-of-the-art custom Atlas helmet.

    Atlas Player Card: Leave your mark on any killcam with an Atlas player card, featuring both a custom Atlas calling card and custom Atlas emblem. 

    Five (5) Bonus Supply Drops: Supply Drops are part of the revolutionary changes in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare that Sledgehammer Games is bringing to Call of Duty multiplayer.  You’ll be well-prepared for battle as soon as you boot up with five bonus supply drops, which unlock a variety of game-changing, in-game content from player customization gear to weapons.  More information on Supply Drops and the full suite of multiplayer options will be revealed on Aug. 11.

    Single Player Exoskeleton Upgrade Token: Over the course of Campaign mode, players unlock exoskeleton perks and abilities that help tackle various obstacles and challenges. This token provides an extra upgrade for your exoskeleton, so you’re already at an advantage when jumping into the Campaign.

    - Additionally, the Atlas Pro Edition and Atlas Limited Edition both include the following:

    Welcome to Atlas: Advanced Soldier Manual: The Atlas Corporation’s Advanced Soldier Manual ensures that all recruits are equipped with the necessary intel to become a tier-one Advanced Soldier with Atlas. The manual features original concept artwork from Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare developer, Sledgehammer Games, as well as historical and tactical information that will bolster every soldier’s potential for success in the field and prepare them to carry out Atlas’ global mission.

    Collectible SteelBook™: Limited edition steel case featuring premium in-game artwork. 

    Official Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Soundtrack: Digital copy of the in-game score, featuring main title & themes by legendary composer, Harry Gregson-Williams as well as original music by Audiomachine.

  • TV Review – ‘Penn & Teller: Fool Us’

    Tue, July 29, 2014 by Terry Terrones with no comments

    Penn-Teller-Fool-Us

    Penn & Teller: Fool Us”

    Cast: Penn Gillette, Raymond Teller, Host – Jonathan Ross (“Friday Night with Jonathan Ross”)

    Airs: The premiere airs at 7 p.m. Wednesday on The CW

    The premise: Aspiring magicians are invited to perform their best trick to try and fool the world-famous comedy/magic team of Penn & Teller. A live studio audience and the TV audience watch along with the duo as they try to figure out the secrets of the trick. Penn and Teller see the trick only once and have to immediately try to work it out. There are no camera tricks, secret edits or helpful camera cuts, this is all real magic. Anyone who succeeds wins the right to perform with Penn & Teller in their show at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. British television and radio personality Jonathan Ross serves as host, the show is filmed in the U.K.

    Highs: Everyone enjoys a good magic trick. We may not aspire to become the next David Copperfield or Michael Scott, but if we see a good trick we want to know how it works. On “Fool Us” you’ll see some pretty slick and mind-bending acts. Some of the acts involve comedy; others consist just of pure showmanship and misdirection.

    It’s interesting to watch Penn & Teller breaking down a trick. Sometimes they figure out the mystery right away, other times they’ll guess several ways a trick could have been accomplished and completely get it wrong. You must be doing something right when you can baffle two pros that have been entertaining crowds for decades. Throughout the process the duo are having just as much fun as the audience, taking it all in gamely. In many ways this show is less about magic than a celebration of creative thinking through magic, which is something just about anyone can appreciate.

    One of the best aspects of the “Fool Us” is that Penn & Teller refuse to let us look behind the curtain. Some may find this frustrating but this is not a series about how the magical sausage gets made. While Penn Gillette will provide hints about how a trick was done if the team has figured it out (Teller doesn’t usually speak), they never flat out walk you through it. They keep the magic alive.

    Lows: While pleasant enough, host Jonathan Ross doesn’t add anything to the show. In fact he takes away from what people are probably tuning in for – Penn & Teller. While they quietly sit watching tricks being performed, Ross is serving as assistant and emcee for the aspiring magicians. “Fool Us” needs a lot less Ross and much more Penn & Teller.

    The show also lacks the punch the tandem is known for. If you’ve ever seen the duo perform live (I’ve seen them twice) or on TV, you know they can be raucous and colorful. With the exception of Penn & Teller’s own performance near the end of the show, this is a much more subdued program than their fans are probably accustomed to since they’re on the sidelines while others perform. Combine these issues with a 1980s-style set and an overly enthusiastic studio audience that will laugh at anything and you have a show that just doesn’t feel like it’s doing justice to their brand.

    Grade: (B-): I watched four different acts during the hour long pilot and enjoyed each one. However, for most of the hour “Fool Us” feels like Penn & Teller Lite, not quite as fulfilling or satisfying as their standard experience. While it has flaws there is still some fun to be had as this is appropriate viewing for magic fans of all ages.

     

  • Q&A: Bear Grylls talks about his new show, shares hilarious Channing Tatum story

    Sun, July 27, 2014 by Terry Terrones with no comments

    Running Wild with Bear Grylls - Season 1

    Last week I had the opportunity to sit in on a conference call with Bear Grylls. The survival expert has a new show, “Running Wild With Bear Grylls,” that premieres Monday on NBC. In the series Bear takes celebrities on an outdoor adventure and tests their mettle. Below is a transcript of the conversation, which includes a hilarious anecdote about Channing Tatum. Other celebrity guests this season include Ben Stiller, Deion Sanders and the premiere episode’s first brave celeb, Zac Efron. 

    Q: Is there any celebrity that you did not get that you wanted? And do you have plans for a second season?
    Bear Grylls: We do have plans for a second season. And as for the guests, I just feel really lucky that we got such incredible stars to join us. And total credit to all six of the guests we had. They threw themselves into it 120% – nobody said, “Hold back”. I said, “Come on your own. No entourage and just trust me.” And they did that. And the show is a real credit to them. I think I’m certainly really proud of them.

    As for celebrities we wanted and didn’t get? We wanted to take Kristen Wiig. I’m afraid she suddenly got injured literally a couple of days before. So, that was sad.

    Q: Of all the places you’ve been and you’ve been all over the world, what’s the place that you connect with the most?
    Bear Gryll: Home. I think a lifetime of doing this has taught me two things. One is that – I do love it. I love the adventure. I love being out there. It’s where I come alive and it’s where I perform at my best. I love the wildernesses around the world we’ve gone to and it’s such a privilege.

    But also going away, a lot has taught me the value of home. When I’m up a mountain or in a mystical jungle, it’s a shining light making me work hard and get out of there in one piece. I’ve got a lovely family, three young boys and you see it’s a real lesson of going away. I said, “Home is good, eh?”

    Q: Have you had a chance to take your boys on any of these adventures?
    Bear Grylls: Yes. I mean I get to do that the rest of the year when we don’t have TV cameras around us, so they love it. I mean where I am right now, looking at all three boys, stark naked in the sea, in a pour, in the rain and I’m sheltered under a fallen tree trying to keep out of the rain talking to you so they love it. They live it. And I’m – it’s in their DNA for sure. (Bear was conferencing in from the shore in the south of England while watching over his sons. I could hear him talking to them periodically.)

    Q: Has there been any one place that was just so incredibly difficult that you have no desire to ever go back?
    Bear Grylls: Probably the black swamps of Sumatra, where the tsunami hit in 2001 decimated a big part of the island. It’s just full of this stinking black rotting swamp with all of these crocodiles feeding off the 6500 human corpses. They lost a lot of lives in that disaster and a disease-ridden, crocodile-filled, snake-filled place. But, yes, I’m not going to hurry back to that one.

    Q: I was wondering what was the process for choosing the celebrities that participated. And, also, were they given any kind of training beforehand to prepare them for what they’re going to go through?
    Bear Grylls: Well, we draft a list of people we really think will be great on this show, people we thought would dig it, we wanted interesting guests, who’ve got a great story and a big following and who would enjoy these sort of things.

    And when it comes to training we said, “You know what? You’ve just got to bring two things; a big bag of fortitude and a big backpack of enthusiasm and we’ll do the best when we’re out there.” And the fun thing is that they’re not too prepared, you know? And you wing it together and you see them on camera learning together and making mistakes together and that’s the fun real part of it.

    The only training I did with any of them was with Zac because I wanted to skydive with him so I gave him some training beforehand for a couple of hours the day before. But beyond that, everyone else just arrived with that fortitude and enthusiasm and I said, “We’ll just do it altogether.”

    Q: The editing gives you a rushed feeling. Can you talk about finding a balance between safety and making the show feel intense? And does a production throw things at you that you don’t know are coming or is the two days pretty much laid out for you?
    Bear Grylls: It’s not laid out at all and there isn’t a production, which is, for me, how it makes this so fun. We have two camera guys, two sound guys and we have a story producer, who’s making sure that we’re kind of watching what I say or what the guest says so it kind of makes a complete package and makes sense.

    But beyond that, we’re super a small crew. We scout the area from the air over a few days before so we have good idea of the route and I have a good idea of what we want to do, “Let’s get across the river. Let’s get across this river, we try and get out one of these rock faces here and somewhere around there will be a good place to camp. That’s going to be great extraction point because we get a helicopter in there and we’ll start off the journey on this high peak there.” And beyond that, we just get in to it and do it.

    And that’s what I think all of these guests have loved because they all come from a world where everything is rehearsed and pre-planned. And all of them have loved the vibe that we’re just winging and we’re doing it and some of the stuff works and some of it doesn’t. We have some cool resources to make it exciting. We have some helicopters and all of that stuff. As I said, they all come from this background where everything is so rehearsed and almost, invariably by the end they go, “I can’t believe I jumped out of a helicopter or I did this or I climbed up that.” There was no practicing or warning of – and that for me is a fun part of it.

    One of my favorite bits from the whole thing was with Channing at the end of it. I said, OK, you’ve done all these crazy things. You back-flipped from a helicopter into a lake, you climbed and slept on a rock ledge. You’ve done all of this, chased a rattlesnake, you name it. What was your favorite bit? He said, “When we were sitting on top of the mountain and the camera crew was gone, and it’s just you and me and you’re cooking the remains of the rattlesnake over the fire. You had your pants off because you were drying it on the rocks. You’re bent over the fire, your bum was right next to me, and one of your testicles drops down in front of me out of your underpants. And that’s when I knew this goddamn adventure is real.” So, that made me laugh.

    Q: Could you tell me, was there ever a point during filming where you thought that you wouldn’t be able to go on and finish the episode, either that the celebrity was scared or it’s just too dangerous?
    Bear Grylls: Yes. I mean, the truth is most of the journeys have moments on it where the person felt like this. I mean, even the first time we filmed, it was with Deion. And he was – we were halfway out of this big old 500-foot sheer rock face and just total fear came over him. And I’ve seen a bunch of times that people just need time, you got to sit beside someone and be patient with them and trying to sort them through it.

    He was speaking in tongues and everything by the end. But actually, what a privilege, you know. Because you can’t fake that. That’s just raw emotion. And credit to him. He calmed down and together we started to move and kept going because he can’t go down and he reached the top of it. And what a privilege to be beside him during those times and to see it so viscerally.

    We had another time with Ben. We were filming at Scotland and we had a very long – what do you call it? Jumar ascent, which is where you’re just climbing up this rope and it’s very tiring. I’ve done a bunch of it in the military, and it’s draining. And Ben digs deep, and he keeps going, and it takes forever and (eventually) after another hour, we get over the top. And he’s just so proud. He’s so proud that he goes, “That’s the most demanding and frightening and exhausting thing I have done in my life. I just didn’t think I could do it, but I’ve done it.”

    And that’s where the genuine sense of pride comes from because it’s real. It’s not make believe in the movies. There’s no one there to help you if it all goes wrong. It’s just you and me, we got to do this together. And that’s a pain, but it’s also the magic of this show.

    Q: When you think celebrity, you think of someone who is used of being driven around in fancy cars, fancy clothes. So, what do you think it is that would make a celebrity want to do this kind of adventure?
    Bear Grylls: Well, it’s such a good question, and it’s a really good one to kind of wrap the chat on actually because it is the intangible. Because they’re not doing it for the money, they’re not doing it for the fame, and they’re not doing it for the recognition or the exposure. These guys have all of that. They’re top of the game. They don’t need to take risks.

    And the truth of doing this, it can be seen as a risk because you’re officially risking it. You might look like you’re not brave or you’re not going to look strong or whatever. But the amazing thing is these guys really wanted to do it. And I think that it is a testament to people, at heart, love to challenge themselves. I think we all still have that yearning inside that could we actually really do it if it wasn’t a movie and it wasn’t make believe, if our lives or our family’s lives are really on the line, have I got it? Away from the trailers and the chauffeur- driven cars and the money and the – could I still test it?

    And I think this a great arena for these guys to come out, learn some skills that maybe they have always wanted but they’ve never had, to really challenge themselves, to really refine themselves and reconnect a bit. And almost all of these guys have – they said, one of the best bits was just having that space and that time to kind of think about life and that they, you know, how lucky they have been and how – there’d be so many ups and downs.

    And the wild does that. The outdoors does that. It creates bonds and it gives us space to breathe. And at the end of it, all of them had a smile on their face and there’s light in their eyes that money can’t buy. And fame doesn’t do it, and drugs doesn’t do it, and booze doesn’t do it. It’s the kind of light. And I’ve seen it a ton in people.

    It’s a God-given thing from the outdoors when you overcome a few obstacles in your life. And for me, it’s the real pride of this show. It’s taking people who we think are the world’s superstars and reminding ourselves that they’re all just normal people, they have their fears and struggles that – they have this tenacity.

    They’re all tenacious, and they want to go for it and prepare to take a few risks. And so many of us don’t want – people don’t want to take risks. They don’t want to look stupid, you know. But you’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t take risks. And this is really the lesson these guys kind of remind us of, that you’ve got to go for it. Life is precious. You might fall down a few times, but at the end of it, you’ll have that light in your eyes and you’ve earned it.

  • HBO announces new ‘Game of Thrones’ characters

    Fri, July 25, 2014 by Terry Terrones with no comments

    gameofthrones

    Pack your bags! We’re going to Dorne!

    HBO has confirmed some of the new cast members for the fifth season of the hit series “Game of Thrones,” with many of them appearing in a video that was unveiled today at San Diego Comic-Con 2014. Among the new actors and the characters they will portray are:

    - Alexander Siddig (“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” pictured above) as Doran Martell. Doran Martell is the ruling lord of Dorne and older brother to the late Prince Oberyn Martell. Unlike his brother, Doran is even-tempered and deliberate.

    - Toby Sebastian as Trystane Martell. Trystane Martell is Prince Doran’s son and heir to Dorne. His father betrothed him to Myrcella Baratheon as part of the alliance offered by Tywin Lannister, then Hand of the King.

    - Nell Tiger Free as Myrcella Baratheon. Myrcella Baratheon is officially the eldest child of Cersei Lannister and the late King Robert Baratheon, though in truth her father is Cersei’s own brother, Jaime Lannister. For years, she has been a guest and ward of Prince Doran, betrothed to his son, but her position has become tenuous with the death of Oberyn Martell, the Prince’s brother.

    - DeObia Oparei  (“Doom,” “Moulin Rouge”) as Areo Hotah. Areo Hotah is the long-serving captain of Doran Martell’s palace guard, renowned for his loyalty and his longaxe.

    - Enzo Cilenti as Yezzan. Yezzan was an extremely wealthy slave trader before Daenerys Targaryen outlawed the slave trade.

    - Jessica Henwick as Nymeria (“Nym”) Sand. Nym Sand is the second eldest of the late Prince Oberyn’s bastard daughters. Her mother was an Eastern noblewoman who brought Nym up to be cultured, graceful and deadly with a whip.

    - Rosabell Laurenti Sellers as Tyene Sand. Tyene Sand is the daughter of the late Prince Oberyn Martell by Ellaria Sand, his final paramour. Tyene is fiercer than she looks, especially with her twin daggers.

    - Keisha Castle-Hughes (“Whale Rider”) as Obara Sand. A fearsome warrior, Obara Sand is the eldest bastard daughter of the late Prince Oberyn Martell. Her mother was a Dornish peasant girl who caught the eye of the late Prince.

    - Jonathan Pryce (“Pirates of the Carribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl,” “Tomorrow Never Dies”) as the High Sparrow. A devout and pious man, the High Sparrow came to King’s Landing to serve those forgotten by much of the world – the poor, the downtrodden and the infirm – and quickly amassed a large following.           

     

  • TV Review – NBC’s “Food Fighters”

    Tue, July 22, 2014 by Terry Terrones with no comments

    adam

    “Food Fighters

    Cast: Host – Adam Richman (“Man vs. Food,” “Fandemonium”), celebrity guest chefs include Lorena Garcia, Stefan Richter, Marcel Vigneron and many others viewers are familiar with from TV shows like “Top Chef” and “Chopped”

    Air-date, time: The premiere episode airs at 7 p.m. Tuesday on NBC

    The premise:The best amateur cooks in America put their signature dishes to the test against five professional chefs in “Food Fighters,” a high-stakes culinary program that’s one part game show, one part cooking show. Television personality, author and food enthusiast Adam Richman hosts this new series that gives culinary sparring a different look. In a series of increasingly difficult showdowns, a top-notch amateur home cook will face off one by one against five professional chefs. Armed only with recipes for their five best signature dishes, they’ll square off against an expert chef who will have to cook the same dish. The completed dishes will then be sampled in a blind taste test by judges known as The Dinner Party. After the two competing dishes are tested, the verdict determining the winner is given to the show’s host. If the home cook wins, they earn a cash prize. Even if they don’t win, they still get to face off again against another culinary expert, climbing a money ladder with increasing cash prizes for every professional chef they defeat.

    Highs: Home cooks vs. professional chefs is a clever premise. Whether its cooking or sports, who hasn’t wanted to try taking down a pro? We can all admit that while watching any kind of cooking show, each one of us has thought we could do at least one thing better than what we see on-screen. Even I’ve thought that and the only thing I know how to cook are omelets and grilled cheeses.

    You’d assume that a professional would have a distinct edge over a home chef but “Food Fighters” does a good job of evening the odds. Contestants not only get to cook their own recipes, they get to choose the order in which they cook them. Many of the pro chefs, especially in the earlier rounds, are known for a particular style of cooking. The home chef is told this and can strategize what to cook to gain an advantage. In the pilot episode I watched a homemaker take on a chef from Boston known as a top seafood chef. The home chef challenged the pro to make a better dessert than she could. The professional was at a distinct disadvantage since she never bakes and ended up losing the round.

    Besides the duels, there are many other elements that make “Food Fighters” a fun, family friendly show. The Dinner Party judges are just regular people like you and me. You won’t see celebrity chefs like Tom Colicchio or Anthony Bourdain sitting on high with smug looks, instead you’ll hear commentary from foodies, the type who would watch this show. Even the competing chefs are polite and are gracious when they lose. After being exposed to so many cooking competitions where chefs seem like all they want to do is kill each other, watching a show where pro chefs are good sports is refreshing.

    Lows: Despite a recent Instagram controversy where he made an incredibly stupid comment to one of his followers, I’ve always  enjoyed Adam Richman’s work but he doesn’t fit this program. On “Man vs. Food” Richman is funny, interesting and comes across as a regular guy who loves food. It makes him relatable. But in “Food Fighters” Regular Guy Richman has been replaced by Game Show Host Richman. Wearing a suit and tie and without injecting the humor he’s known for, viewers will see him as just another paint-by-numbers host who doesn’t really add anything to the fun.

    Grade: (B+): With wave after wave of easy-going celebrity chefs, interesting contestants and a unique premise, “Food Fighters” makes for an enjoyable cooking competition experience. Even viewers with minimal cooking skill will be able to picture themselves as part of the action.

  • 10 Ways to Fix ‘The Bachelor/Bachelorette’ franchise

    Mon, July 21, 2014 by Terry Terrones with no comments

    Andi

    What the heck has happened to “The Bachelorette?” The television program, not the constantly frowny-smiley faced female contestant who thinks every guy on the show is “hawt” and “a real man.” As another season of “The Bachelorette” winds down, I can’t help but wonder where it all went downhill.

    Andi was supposed to be feisty, smart and willing to speak her mind but she’s been a bust due to an inability to form meaningful sentences and a boring group of male contestants. The show suffers from such a severe lack of drama that producers tastelessly aired the announcement of a former contestant’s passing in a recent episode. And tonight viewers will be treated with TV filler in a “Men Tell All Episode” where the male contestants will tell us absolutely nothing new. Every viewer already has a good idea who the likely winner is (Nick Lithgow) and who the next Bachelor is probably going be (Farmer Chris). Where’s the drama?!?

    Then I remembered that this is how this show always plays out, it’s just too predictable. Time to shake things up. Here are 10 simple solutions to make “The Bachelor/Bachelorette” franchise better. You already air this show with tongue firmly in cheek ABC, might as well go a couple steps further to make a better program.

    lithgo_nick

    Mr. John Lithgow, meet your long lost son Nick. 

    1. Make major cuts on night one – “The Bachelor” starts with too many people. I get the idea of giving the Bach/Bachelorette a variety of people to choose from, so go ahead and start with 25, but have the Bach/Bachelorette cut that down by 10 on the first evening. This will allow for two things – 1) a more workable cast. It’s easier to get to know 15 people than 20-something. And 2) with so many cuts on the first night, men and women will be scrambling for attention. This should make for some good TV.

    2. Change up the casting process – Early in the show it’s hard to tell contestants apart because they all look alike. The cast needs more diversity and I’m not just talking about race either. I understand that good looking people are required for a program like this, but not all attractive people are a size zero or have to be a body builder either. And how about someone with a sense of humor for a change? A great example is former Bachelor Bob Guiney. He’s a decent looking guy with a sense of humor. “The Bachelor” could use more people like that.

    3. Teach contestants how to speak to the camera – Chances are, unless they work in the entertainment industry, the contestants on this program have no on-camera experience. And it shows. To make things more interesting, ABC producers should have some classes before the series starts to teach contestants how to speak to a camera. Avoiding repetitive phrases (“like, like, like”) and being able to express feelings would be much better than watching people stammering or constantly using clichés.

    4. Create competitions that build rivalries – This franchise is surprisingly short on drama, no one truly wants to look like a bad guy/girl. To fill the void, create some events that build rivalries. For guys this would mean having more physical contests. Men, especially in their 20s, are very physically competitive. Have them battle each other and release some testosterone and tick each other off. For women, the competitions need to be more subtle and mental. Doing a house gossip questionnaire where contestants have to answer things such as, “Which woman is here for the wrong reasons?” and revealing those to the group would be telling. Next thing you know two women hate each other that were friends. One final note on this, Chris Harrison should be running these events with the Bach/Bachelorette as an observer. Gotta keep their hands clean.

    5. Stop recycling contestants to be the Bach but let old players be contestants – The former-contestant-as-new-Bachelor gimmick has played itself out. There should be a ban on that. Let’s get to know somebody brand new, both to the audience and to competing players. However, I think it would be a great idea to let one or two former players on a new season of “The Bachelorette/Bachelor.” This franchise is “Survivor-esque” at this point, put those good looking people to good use. Former contestant Chris Bukowski tried to get in on this season at the beginning (he’d later say that it was a setup by ABC producers), I’d of let him. Throw former contestant or two in the mix and you have instant drama. The new Bach/Bachelorette is curious and the new contestants are nervous. Wouldn’t you love to see Michelle Money step out of a limo on Farmer Chris’s first night as the Bachelor? I would.

    6. Have a night vision camera in the fantasy suite – Come on ABC, we know what’s going on in there. Put a night vision camera in the fantasy suite and give viewers an idea of how things are going. You don’t need to go all “Real World” about it but your constant phony coy act about contestants NOT fooling around isn’t being bought by anybody.

    7. Have parents meet each other – When it’s down to about three or four contestants, have the parents from both sides of the family meet each other. This should lead to a number of “Odd Couple” style moments and maybe a better idea of how couples would truly fit together.

    8. Skip the hometown visit, change it to a house visit – The purpose of the hometown visit is so you can meet someone’s family, but really what any dating couple sees first is where their boyfriend or girlfriend lives. More enlightening to a Bach/Bachelorette is not where a person is from but where they are right now. I think a trip to someone’s apartment, where you see where they live and meet their friends and find out what a person’s day to day life would be like, is more interesting than meeting some doting parents.

    9. Shorten the show to eight episodes – This series is loaded with filler. Viewers start losing interest too quickly for it to go longer than eight episodes. It would save money on the helicopter budget as well. If this show was eight episodes, ABC could actually add another season too.

    10. Introduce black roses – Sometimes you’re just not feeling it, so why wait until the rose ceremony to cut somebody loose? Nothing would send a message that you mean business than dropping a rose in a dude (or dudettes) lap.

    Gazette media columnist Terry Terrones is a member of the Television Critics Association. When he isn’t watching quality programs like “Arrow” or “Game of Thrones” you can find him shamefully spending too much time thinking about bad reality TV shows like “The Bachelorette.”

  • Behind the Scenes at Local TV Stations Part 4 – KOAA

    Mon, July 21, 2014 by Terry Terrones with no comments

     IMG_3600

    Time to see what they don’t show you on TV. My behind the scenes look at local TV stations concludes with Part Four today. You can find Part One (KKTV) right here, Part Two (KXRM) here and Part Three (KRDO) here.

    For my final installment in my Behind the Scenes web series I went to local NBC affiliate KOAA on an overcast Wednesday afternoon. I started my visit by chatting with president and general manager Evan Pappas. Evan is in charge of the Pueblo and Colorado KOAA broadcast centers, which employs a staff of 110 between the two facilities. As I was talking to Evan two things became very clear – his belief in KOAA’s duality (despite meeting in Colorado Springs he mentioned Pueblo often) and the effort to make the station not just a local TV station but a network station as well. Pappas believes the recent renovation of the 15,000 sq. ft. Pueblo facility and KOAA’s new 25,000 sq. ft. Colorado Springs building on Tech Center Drive does just that.

    The Tech Center building was purchased in 2013 and over the course of 18 months was gutted and renovated. While Evan wouldn’t give me an exact figure, he estimated the cost of the renovation to be over $5 million. KOAA moved into the building in April and started broadcasting from it in mid-June. After an extensive tour of the three story building with Evan, I chatted with the station’s news director, director of marketing and with anchors Rob Quirk and Lisa Lyden.

    Below is a photo gallery of my visit, be sure to click on the pics for a larger view. Because the station is so large, you’ll see more pictures from this location.

     

  • Longest. ‘The Simpsons.’ Marthon. Ever.

    Mon, July 21, 2014 by Terry Terrones with no comments

    TheSimpson

    Hit network shows are syndicated to cable networks all the time, but with its recent acquisition of “The Simpsons,” FXX is looking to make a big splash. Today during the TCA (Television Critics Association) summer tour, FXX did just that.

    To celebrate their exclusive cable and VOD (video on demand) rights to the legendary animated comedy, FXX will air a marathon of “The Simpsons” on August 21 – September 1, making it the longest-running marathon in television history. For 24 hours a day, over the course of the 12 days, FXX will air 552 episodes of “The Simpsons”through Season 25 as well as “The Simpsons Movie”(airing after episode 400), in chronological order.

    In October FXX will also launch Simpsons World, a “Simpsons” digital experience featuring content through SimpsonsWorld.com and accessible through handheld/connected devices via the FXNOW app. With Simpsons World, fans can find new ways to explore Springfield’s characters and locations, create personalized playlists and share favorite show clips and quotes. All authenticated viewers will have instant and on-demand access to every single “Simpsons” episode ever, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via SimpsonsWorld.com, and FXNOW apps for iPhone, iPad, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Android phones and tablets, Smart TVs, and set-tops devices.

    What’s an authenticated viewer? Someone who has a cable provider that features FXX. That’s the tricky part, as only 60% of cable providers offer the channel. Execs seem to be aware of that and are working to figure away around it but in the meantime, 40% of you may have to hold out on 24/7 “Simpsons” access.

    On a final note, starting September 2nd, FXX will regularly schedule “The Simpsons” episodes on weekdays and weekends. This will include a four-hour “Simpsons” mini-marathon that will lead to new episodes airing on Fox on Sundays.

     

  • ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘True Detective,’ big winners at 2014 TCA Awards

    Sat, July 19, 2014 by Terry Terrones with no comments

    MissPiggy

    The Television Critics Association (TCA) recognized the top programs and actors of the 2013-2014 television season tonight, at its 30th Annual TCA Awards presentation. The invite only, untelevised event was held at the Beverly Hills Hilton hotel, and was emceed by Terry Crews, actor and host of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and star of FOX’s hit sitcom “Brooklyn Nine Nine.”

    Results for nominees and the night’s eventual winners were determined from votes cast by the TCA’s membership, comprised of more than 220 professional TV critics and journalists from the United States and Canada. The winners represented a mix of shows and stars in 12 categories, highlighting the best in comedy, drama, reality, miniseries, news, and youth programming. The evening’s big winners included AMC’s celebrated drama “Breaking Bad,” winning Program of the Year for the second consecutive season, and HBO’s crime drama “True Detective,” which won Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials.

    Photographs from the TCA Awards are available at http://bit.ly/1q8pOd4.

    2014 TCA Award recipients are as follows:

    • Individual Achievement in Drama: Matthew McConaughey (“True Detective,” HBO)
    • Individual Achievement in Comedy: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep,” HBO)
    • Outstanding Achievement in News and Information: “Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey” (FOX and National Geographic Channel)
    • Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming: “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (LOGO)
    • Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming: “The Fosters” (ABC Family)
    • Outstanding New Program: “Orange is the New Black” (Netflix)
    • Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials: “True Detective” (HBO)
    • Outstanding Achievement in Drama: “The Good Wife” (CBS)
    • Outstanding Achievement in Comedy: (Tie) “Veep” (HBO) and “Louie” (FX)
    • Career Achievement Award: James Burrows
    • Heritage Award: “Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
    • Program of the Year: “Breaking Bad” (AMC)