Friday, August 1, 2014

Preview: Gaza: Witness to War

The Other Side of the Israeli Conflict

Nick Schifrin
The horrific killings and bomb blasts rocking much of Israel and the Palestinian-occupied Gaza Strip are, depending on which news source is talking, either the work of overlords in Israel, notably Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose popular policies at home are met with a decidedly icy reception in much of the rest of the world -- or out-of-control Hamas leaders in Gaza.

But, one aspect of the conflict that is hard to dispute is, no matter the news source, TV viewers aren't hearing much from Gaza leaders about the conflict, their role in it or the kindling that's at the heart of the Palestinians lobbing bombs into Israel and digging tunnels to get out of Gaza. Why are Gazans tunneling out of their country? It may have something to do with walls and armed guards surrounding much of their homeland.

Tonight, cable news network Al Jazeera America's Nick Schifrin goes inside Gaza to see how its residents and its leaders are affected by the Gaza War. Gaza: Witness to War airs at 11pm Eastern on Al Jazeera America.

Preview: Dudamel Conducts the Verdi Requiem at the Hollywood Bowl

Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Celebrate 200 Years of Verdi

There are few venues as magical as Los Angeles' outdoor Hollywood Bowl when it comes to getting fully immersed in a classical music performance. The night sky, the sparkling stars, the picnic baskets, probably the wine and definitely the music, led by conductor Gustavo Dudamel, swirl around in an intoxicating mix that's almost impossible to reproduce inside a concert hall.

Tonight, TV viewers get a feel of that experience with a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of composer Giuseppe Verdi. Dudamel leads the L.A. Philharmonic's performance of Verdi's Requiem Mass on Great Performances' Dudamel Conducts the Verdi Requiem at the Hollywood Bowl (PBS, 9pm).

Performers include soprano Julianna Di Giacomo, mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung, tenor Vittorio Grigolo and bass Ildebrando D’Arcangelo.

Preview: Summer Under the Stars

Turner Classic Movies Dedicates Each Day in August to a Single Star

Every August, Turner Classic Movies sets aside each day of the month to a single movie star. This year's Summer Under the Stars kicks off today with 24 hours of Jane Fonda, including a rebroadcast of the 2014 AFI Life Achievement Award: A Salute to Jane Fonda (8pm). Other stars getting the full-day treatment this month include Judy Garland (Aug. 4), James Stewart (Aug. 7), Marlon Brando (Aug. 11), Cary Grant (Aug. 13), Audrey Hepburn (Aug. 22) and Alan Ladd (Aug. 31).

News: Undateable

Chris D'Elia Summer Sitcom Renewed for a Second Season

Comedian Chris D'Elia's summer sitcom Undateable has been renewed for a second season, according to multiple sources. The sitcom achieved one of TV's rarest feats: it successfully launched in the dog days of summer. The show about a group of friends with not-so-successful love lives, from producers Bill Lawrence and Adam Sztykiel, accomplished another increasingly rare feat: it's a comedy that's funny.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: The Honorable Woman

SundanceTV's Maggie Gyllenhaal Star Vehicle is a Messy Beauty

Maggie Gyllenhaal
SundanceTV's The Honorable Woman (10pm), which previously aired in the UK on BBC Two, has all the confident pacing, complex characters, crisp camera work and top-tier acting to place it side by side with TV's current bounty of quote-unquote "great dramas" like AMC's The Walking Dead and that network's gone but still heralded Breaking Bad. But Honorable stands on its own like a supermodel who's prone to getting her dress caught up in her undies.

Honorable is a star vehicle for Maggie Gyllenhaal that is gorgeous, captivating and binge worthy, despite its confusing storyline and at times improbable plot points. All of which is forgiven for its lush look and Maggie's give-her-the-Emmy-now performance.

Honorable, an eight-part miniseries from director Hugo Blick, swirls around today's hottest hot-button issue: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

News: Wolf

Israel's Former President Shimon Peres Talks Peace
Wolf Blitzer
Former Israeli President Shimon Peres sat down today with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer to talk about a cease-fire, the peace process and more.

A preview of Blitzer’s interview aired on CNN’s New Day; additional portions will air in the 1pm Eastern hour of Wolf and the 5pm Eastern hour of The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.

Review: The Quest

Lord of the Rings-Survivor Mash-Up is Heavy Handed But Good
Boston Herald

But The Quest (ABC, 8pm) practically falls off the cliffs of Mordor in its first act when producers, such as Amazing Race co-creator Bertram van Munster, appear onscreen to explain the premise.

That’s not helping. That’s assuming your audience is stone-cold stupid.

(Another executive producer is Mark Ordesky, a Lord of the Rings trilogy producer, hence the J.R.R. Tolkien/Peter Jackson influence.)

At Castle Sanctum — yes, that’s what they call it — the 12 are boarded and costumed and become part of a medieval-styled village. The three fates — three beautiful women — blather on about a sun sphere and a dark power. An “ogre” drags away an NPC (video-game speak for non-player character).

Keep reading.

Review: NY Med

ABC's NY Med Captures a Real-Life Urgency That Scripted Dramas Can't

Brad E. Zacharia, M.D.

Among the purest forms of television joy is a good episode of a good doctor show. Hospital shows, doctor shows — the drama and stakes are built right in, and the doctors and nurses are inherently valorous while the patients are inherently vulnerable.

NY Med (10pm), ABC's documentary series that returns for its second season tonight, plays along with those familiar ideas, but with the rare kind of urgency and intimacy that can feel forced in a scripted drama and that are hard to expose in an unscripted format. The series is emotionally rich and compelling, and its subjects range from interesting to incredibly interesting, but NY Med's real strength is its candor.

Keep reading.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

News: Cold Justice

TNT Renews Dick Wolf's Fantastic Real-Life Cold Justice for Season Three

Yolanda McClary, Kelly Siegler
TNT's renewal includes 10 episodes slated for the series' third season. Season 2 of Cold Justice is currently airing Fridays at 9pm. Season three is slated for early 2015 and will feature both new states and types of cases never seen on the show before.

Cold Justice follows former prosecutor Kelly Siegler and former crime-scene investigator Yolanda McClary as they travel to normal towns around the country in order to look into murder cases that have lingered for years without answers or closure. Since the premiere of Cold Justice last September, Siegler and McClary have assisted local law enforcement in securing a total of 15 arrests, eight criminal indictments, four confessions, two guilty pleas and a 22-year prison sentence.

Cold Justice has averaged 2.3 million viewers in Live + 7 delivery so far this summer, a remarkable +24% increase over the show's winter episodes.

Preview: Director's Chair

Director Robert Rodriguez Interviews On-Fire Director Guillermo del Toro
El Rey

Robert Rodriguez sits with longtime friend and director Guillermo del Toro to discuss his journey from artist, to director/producer. From groundbreaking Pan's Labrynth, to Hellboy and Pacific Rim, Guillermo reveals the madness behind his monsters. The Director’s Chair with Guillermo del Toro (El Rey Network, 9pm).