Category Archives: TV

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“The Sound of Music,” with Carrie Underwood, Will Air in December

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How do you solve a problem like trying to interest an audience raised on “American Idol” to like an old fashioned Broadway musical? Well, for one thing, if you are producing “The Sound of Music,” you cast an “American Idol” superstar like Carrie Underwood. After all, Carrie Underwood is one of country music’s “favorite things”; she’s sold more than 15 million albums worldwide, with 16 number one singles (seven of which were co-written by Underwood) and five Grammys.

NBC’s live three-hour broadcast of “The Sound of Music,” starring Carrie Underwood as Maria von Trapp, will air in December. The classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical will be broadcast Dec. 5th. If she learn not to take a breath between the words “sound” and “of” (see video below), perhaps the production will establish Carrie Underwood as a Maria von Trapp for a new generation. Mary Martin created the role in the original 1959 Broadway production and Julie Andrews starred in the 1965 film (which won the Oscar for best picture.) In People magazine, Underwood said that the television version of the musical will be quite different than the iconic movie, stating ”I think once people tune in and realize that [our version] is not a remake, they won’t compare it to the movie.”

“Speaking for everyone at NBC, we couldn’t be happier to have the gifted Carrie Underwood take up the mantle of the great Maria von Trapp,” said NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt in a statement. “She was an iconic woman who will now be played by an iconic artist.” “We’re thrilled to be presenting the Broadway version of The Sound of Music live,” added Zadan and Meron, “and having Carrie Underwood as the star brings it to a new generation who will fall in love with it for the first time as many millions of people already have. It’s a particular joy to us as producers to see this amazing artist stretch into new territory with this classic musical.”

“To have a star like Carrie Underwood perform Maria in “The Sound of Music” – and in such a very special and unique production — is exciting beyond words,” said Ted Chapin, president of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization. “Part of the magic of Rodgers and Hammerstein is how their work has adapted itself to so many different incarnations, and I am certain the fresh spirit Underwood brings to her own songs will transition into exciting versions of the classic songs we all know and love.”

“The Sound of Music,” set in pre-WWII Austria, is based on the true story of Maria von Trapp, “an aspiring nun who leaves the abbey to become a governess for the widower Captain von Trapp’s seven children and finds herself falling in love with her employer and questioning her religious calling,” according to NBC. The Sound of Music features a libretto by Howard Lindsay & Russel Crouse and a score by Richard Rodgers (music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (lyrics) that includes “My Favorite Things,” “Sixteen Going On Seventeen,” “Do-Re-Mi” and “Edelweiss.”

Maybe NBC really cares about Broadway. They had the good sense to cancel the dreadful series, “Smash,” which tried and failed to be to Broadway what “Nashville” is to the country music world. Here’s hoping that “The Sound of Music” surpasses all expectations, even though NBC is partnering with the “Smash” producing team (Craig Zadan & Neil Meron) on the project. If not, it could be “so long, farewell” to the idea of putting classic musicals on television.

“Carrie Underwood sings “Sound of Music” on the CBS special Movies Rock!”…

Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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Steve Martin & Edie Brickell Make Beautiful Music Together – ‘Love Has Come For You’

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Steve Martin & Edie Brickell – Love Has Come For You
*** ½ (out of 4 stars)
Label: Rounder Records

Steve Martin, the actor, comedian, producer, playwright and author, has added the hyphen of “banjo musician extraordinaire” to his seemingly endless list of talents for several years now. With Love Has Come For You, he adds Edie Brickell to his list of fellow musicians. The album is an almost impossible to classify collection of fragile, soulful folk songs. Martin (who wrote the music) and Brickell (who wrote the lyrics) blend well together, often complementing each other’s mutual feathery qualities. They sing haunting melodies that rise from the timeless American folk impulse and float through bluegrass territory, past the Appalachian ballad form and into their own musical realm.

The album (Martin’s third for Rounder Records) is produced by Peter Asher, who balances the lovely songs with fiddles and guitars. Each graceful track is more deeply felt than the one before. At times Martin’s banjo provides all the feeling of a string quartet and Brickell’s wafer-thin voice doubles as a versatile rhythmic instrument of its own. These are sparse songs, free of any unnecessary embellishment or dramatics. As such, these contemporary songs, imbued with the past, are a relaxed, refreshing antidote to nearly all of the rest of the music that we encounter in the 21st century.

Essential Downloads: “Sarah Jane and the Iron Mountain Baby,” “Fighter,” “King of Boys,” “Shawnee.”

To preview or purchase this album on iTunes, click here.

Martin

Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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Top Television Shows Today Full of Garbage

sxprfntyIf you stopped watching network television awhile ago because it had gotten so bad, you made the correct decision. It has continued to get worse. A few years ago, network television became dominated by cheaply made reality TV shows and talent contests, sitcoms with hyperactive manic characters, and socially liberal themes. Television has always pushed the edge when it comes to socially progressive themes. But at what point does it go too far? Perhaps when there are no other options left during prime time network TV.

The top ten most popular TV shows last fall contained few choices for traditional conservatives, unless they enjoy watching football. The first, fourth and tenth most popular shows were Sunday Night Football, Sunday Night Pre-Kick and The OT (NFL wrap-up) respectively.

The second most popular TV show last fall was Modern Family, which features the lives of three families, including two gay men and their daughter. There is profanity and one episode implied that teenage sex was appropriate. The Big Bang Theory was the third most popular show last fall. The plot is based on the lives of some nerdy guys and a beautiful woman who tries to teach them social skills. It features frequent discussions about sex including masturbation, and is sprinkled with profanity.

The fourth and ninth most popular show was a pseudo-reality voice talent show, The Voice. It features various musical artists as judges, some who are quite trashy. The sixth most popular program, the medical show Grey’s Anatomy, features a lesbian character, profanity and plenty of extramarital sex.

NCIS, which stands for Naval Criminal Investigative Service, was the seventh most popular show. It is a drama about investigating crime, and at first glance would seem to be an educational show for those considering a profession in law enforcement. Unfortunately, it contains profanity, plenty of sexual hookups and frequent discussion of kinky sexual fetishes. The Family Guy is an animated show that ranked as eighth most popular. It contains plenty of profanity. One of the children has an ambiguous sexual orientation, and a family neighbor is a sex-crazed bachelor.

The Parents Television Council (PTV) gives The Family Guy, The Big Bang Theory, NCIS, and Gray’s Anatomy their most serious rating of red, completely unsuitable for children. Modern Family is rated yellow, which may be inappropriate for children. These are just the current crop of popular TV shows; and likely not even the worst within the last 20 or so years. The profane words have become harsher in recent years, and the greatest increase in the use of them has been during the 8 p.m. Eastern “family hour” slot. PTV found that profanity on broadcast television increased 69 percent between 2005 and 2010.

Whether one has a problem with gay sexual orientation or not, why does sex and profanity need to be a theme in so many shows? TV shows with adult themes used to be accessible only on cable television or outside of primetime hours. Now, with the exception of sports shows, it is impossible to sit down with children and watch one of the top ten television shows on network TV without exposing them to sex and profanity. Many adults find the prevalence of sex and profanity offensive. Polls repeatedly show that more than half the population would like stricter controls over the profanity and sex in broadcast television. A significant segment of the population does not want to watch shows laden with gratuitous sex and profanity every evening. As a result, network viewership continues to drop every year. Last fall, ABC, Fox, CBS and NBC combined for a 9 percent drop in viewers in the coveted 18-to-49 age bracket.

The reason there is a disconnect between what people want to watch, and what gets shown, is because wealthy liberal Hollywood elites who produce the shows get to call the shots. The viewers never get an honest choice, because the money is all dumped into the elites’ ideal shows, giving them a huge advantage through advertising, prime time slots, top actors and extra bells and whistles. Most television viewers have never heard of the relatively new show Flashpoint, for example, because it was only carried by limited stations in the late evening. Featuring the members of a highly skilled law enforcement team, it portrayed serious drama that touched upon politically incorrect subjects such as mothers kidnapping their children and Islamic terrorism.

There needs to be more shows during primetime like Flashpoint and V, the science fiction series, which was good, clean, scary alien fun. Or shows like Seinfeld, which poked fun at controversial or taboo subjects instead of taking a position on them. While the influx of musical talent competitions has brought with it some cleaner material, there is no trained acting, it is merely a step above cheaply produced reality shows. Viewers are finally tiring of American Idol.

Until network TV starts reflecting a broader diversity of content, people are going to continue migrating to Facebook and Netflix instead, where they can choose their content. Add in the constant commercials on network TV, and it’s a no-brainer for viewers to make the move away from network TV. If wealthy TV producers want to remain wealthy, they had better start creating shows for those of us who don’t enjoy gratuitous sex and profanity in our living rooms every evening.

Rachel Alexander

Rachel was named the 2009 Right Online activist of the year and is a political commentator and co-editor of IntellectualConservative.com.  She practices bankruptcy law in Phoenix, Arizona at AlexanderBankruptcyLawFirm.com.

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Is Blake Shelton really ‘the Lance Armstrong of country music’?

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Talk about being in the hot seat! Blake Shelton has always seemed to me to be the Bill Clinton of country music; he never seems to know when to be quiet, poor guy. He did it again when he upset fans of traditional country music with a comment he made in GAC’s Backstory special on his career (so much so that Dale Watson called Shelton “the Lance Armstrong of country music!”, which I’d say is a bit overboard.) I’ve never really been a big fan of Shelton’s music (or tiresome wiseguy attitude), but that’s OK because there are plenty of other country artists I love that I can spend my time listening to… and spend my money buying (hint, hint, traditional country music fans!)

The star of TV’s The Voice spoke out, saying that you can’t avoid the changes in country music. True. But then he just got in trouble explaining the obvious, saying, “Country music has to evolve in order to survive. Nobody wants to listen to their grandpa’s music. And I don’t care how many of these old farts around Nashville going, ‘My God, that ain’t country!’ Well that’s because you don’t buy records anymore, jackass. The kids do, and they don’t want to buy the music you were buying.”

So preferring traditional country music makes someone a “jackass”? That got country music fans plastering internet message boards with negative comments about Shelton. At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was making plans to watch the upcoming Super Bowl with the Dixie Chicks.

As soon as Shelton made those injudicious comments, he heard from country legend Ray Price (via the story on the website SavingCountryMusic:

“It’s a shame that I have spend 63 years in this business trying to introduce music to a larger audience and to make it easier for the younger artists who are coming behind me. Every now and then some young artist will record a rock and roll type song , have a hit first time out with kids only. This is why you see stars come with a few hits only and then just fade away believing they are God’s answer to the world. This guy sounds like in his own mind that his head is so large no hat ever made will fit him. Stupidity Reigns Supreme!!!!!!! Ray Price (CHIEF “OLD FART” & JACKA–”) P.S. YOU SHOULD BE SO LUCKY AS US OLD-TIMERS. CHECK BACK IN 63 YEARS (THE YEAR 2075) AND LET US KNOW HOW YOUR NAME AND YOUR MUSIC WILL BE REMEMBERED.”

But we can’t really blame the messenger. It’s not Shelton’s fault that he has developed a fan base that might not know the difference between Patsy Cline and Calvin Klein. After all, he does what he does rather well… And it has been Nashville that’s been slowly killing country music all along. One Shania-Sugarland-Swift gazillion-selling-hit at a time. Their very clever plan to grow country music into rock and pop has been an unstoppable success that has not only made millions of fans think they like country music (which, they do, since now it’s no different than the pop music they used to like), but it has also created an all-encompassing form of music for people in search of a culturally necessary reaction to the assault of rap and hip hop. Much like the mainstream media, what Nashville has done is to limit the public’s choices and divide and conquer by convincing the masses that they are either country fans (or hip hop fans)… that they are red states or blue states… that the only power we have as consumers is the constant binary opposition we face in our society.

What a shame. The enfolding of pop music into country music has been so overwhelming that we no longer honor traditional country music, and one of today’s biggest spokesmen for country music (and a Grand Ole Opry member no less, and CMA’s reigning Entertainer of the Year) is but a mere pawn in a game that he didn’t design, and that has no winner. Let’s just wish Blake Shelton well… and let’s keep it country (whatever that means to each of us)… and let’s always, always thank Ray Price “for the good times.”

As for me, I’m looking forward to the next Easton Corbin album… and the next Randy Rogers Band album… and the next Kellie Pickler album… and the next Scotty McCreery album… and the next… well, you get the idea. I just like country music. And it’s a pretty darn big country after all, isn’t it?

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Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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Peter Falk (TV’s “Columbo”) Has Died

TV’s “Columbo,” Peter Falk, died in Los Angeles Thursday night. He was 83.

Over the years, the star won four Emmy Awards for his portrayal of the cigar-chomping detective who always looked as if he’d just rolled out of bed. Peter Falk played one of the most famous and beloved fictional detectives on television on a continual basis from 1971-1978, and then occasionally from 1989-2003.
He won his first Emmy in 1962 for outstanding performance by an actor in a leading role for an episode of The Dick Powell Theatre.

Falk also starred in his friend John Cassavetes’ films Husbands and A Woman Under the Influence. He was nominated twice for the best supporting actor Oscar, for Murder, Inc. and Pocketful of Miracles.

In recent years, Falk suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. He is survived by his wife of 34 years, and two daughters from a previous marriage.

“One more thing” — as Columbo would say — here’s a little bit of the Columbo in action style…

Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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CNNMoney On The Debt Ceiling: Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Somewhere in a parallel universe, where CNN is actually a respected news source, a journalist is crying. Continue reading

Ryan Anthony

20-something Tennessee Journalism student and relentless sports fan.

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Is Glenn Beck A Hypocrite?

 

Glenn Beck versus Andrew Breitbart

It is important that I start by saying I don’t personally know Andrew Breitbart or Glenn Beck. I met Breitbart once, for about 60 seconds, at CPAC 2010. I also interviewed him by phone on May 21st, with my co-host Daria DiGiovanni, on Conservative Republican Forum. I have never met or spoken to Glenn Beck. I admire what both of these men have accomplished.

*Updated (see below).

On the evening of May 24th I became aware of a feud between Andrew Breitbart and Glenn Beck, two conservative media heavyweights, that apparently has been brewing for the better part of a year. The dispute goes back to the story of Shirley Sherrod, the USDA employee, who was forced to resign in July of 2009 after a video of her speaking at a local NAACP chapter meeting was shown on Breitbart’s BigGovernment website.

In the video Mrs. Sherrod- who is black- talks about an experience she had with a white farmer who came to her for help saving his farm. She tells the audience among other things that, “I was struggling with the fact that so many black people have lost their farmland and here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land — so I didn’t give him the full force of what I could do. I did enough.”

This video became public at a time when the NAACP and much of the liberal media were attempting to portray the Tea Party movement as racist. Not surprisingly conservative media outlets: including FoxNews and others ran with the story. This led to Mrs. Sherrod, the USDA’s Georgia Director of Rural Development, being forced to resign by Secretary Tom Vilsack to avoid embarrassing the Department and the Obama Administration.

Unfortunately the video on BigGoverment’s website was not the full video of the event. It was however “the entirety of the speech [Breitbart] had in his possession”, according to blogger Ed Morrissey at HotAir.com. Mrs. Sherrod goes on to explain the error of her initial impression, this fact was later confirmed by the farmer himself and his wife. In fact the wife calls Sherrod a “friend” who “helped us save our farm”.

Andrew Breitbart has said that the point of the video was not Mrs. Sherrod’s statement, but rather the way that the audience laughed and seemed to approve of her not giving the white farmer “the full force of what” she could do. Again, the NAACP was accusing the Tea Party of racism and Breitbart had a tape of people at a NAACP chapter meeting embracing her story of black on white racism.

The dispute between Beck and Breitbart stems from some of the claims Beck made about how he covered the story, including: “We didn’t rush to condemn her”, “We defended her and said her side of the story demanded to be heard- because– context matters.”

It is true that on his Fox News Channel show Beck did not condemn Shirley Sherrod. But what was not revealed to his TV audience, and was largely ignored in the media, was that earlier that morning on his nationally syndicated radio program (before all the exculpatory information became known and put her comments in context) Beck did attack Sherrod in 3 segments, totaling about 9 minutes.

Click below to hear the segments from 7/20/2010:

Glenn Beck Radio Audio Segment 4

Glenn Beck Radio Audio Segment 11

Glenn Beck Radio Audio Segment 12

If Beck had simply said he didn’t have all the facts when his radio show aired and had framed his future coverage of the story that way, there would have been no problem. But instead he told this cable audience, “I have a story I want to share with you that I haven’t shared yet. Do you know why I didn’t do the Shirley Sherrod story? Did anyone think that story was uncommon for the people that we have in the White House? That there might be some prejudice that is happening? No. I stood in my office with my entire team, and I said, “Something’s wrong, don’t do this story.” That’s what saved me: the Sword of the Spirit.”

Clearly, this is not the case. He attacked Mrs. Sherrod on his radio show based on the information he had in his possession at that time. He also ignored the context of the article that accompanied the audio he was using to attack her. Then when the full story became clear Mr. Beck didn’t simply admit it, he made himself the victim and started to blame others.

Click below to see Glenn later the same day on his Fox News show:

Beck- Context Matters Part 1

Beck- Context Matters Part 2

Beck- Context Matters Part 3

Beck- Context Matters Part 4

On his Twitter feed Breitbart says he’s “been trying since July 2010 to get him [Beck] to set [the] record straight”. He says he “sucked it up for most of a year & went to Beck’s office last month. Talked to [a] top exec. Expected results. Got none”.

Breitbart goes on to ask “Beck fans” 5 questions:

  1. “Is it cool your guru goes behind my back to hire away my editors, take bloggers/contributors & while bad mouthing me?”
  2. “Why’d he take so much Big content w/out attribution during even our high times? Is partial attribution the ‘truth’ standard?”
  3. “When he was throwing me under [the] Sherrod bus, why’d he double down & lie to O’Reilly’s face that he didn’t do [the] story?”
  4. “Why has he avoided a year of me trying to settle this privately through Kerry, LibertyChick & others?”
  5. “Why’d you go after O’Keefe & me (though I had nothing to do w/NPR)? @mmfa [Media Matters for America] sure liked that d*ck move!”

I have been to GlennBeck.com and TheBlaze.com to see if Mr. Beck has addressed Mr. Breitbart’s charges. I could find no evidence that he has. On his cable show Beck tells his viewers a few things that have always made me respect him: “Don’t take my word for anything I say on this show”, “do your own research”, “truth has no agenda” and “QUESTION WITH BOLDNESS”.

I don’t have a dog in this hunt. Both Andrew Breitbart and Glenn Beck are titans of conservative media that have inspired many of us to write, broadcast, investigate and question. If I had never heard of the two of them I might not be writing for this publication and likely would not be hosting my own radio show.

Andrew Breitbart vs. Glenn Beck, to me, is the equivalent of the old Japanese monster movie ‘King Kong vs. Godzilla’ (I’m not sure who is who). It is a colossal battle and just as the result of those two monsters fighting led to the destruction of Tokyo, a battle between Breitbart and Beck could lead to damage to the conservative movement and media. The only winners in this dispute are left-wing media organizations like Media Matters for America, the DailyKos, MSNBC and the New York Times.

And yet it seems the difficult question that must be asked, because “the truth has no agenda”, is: “Is Glenn Beck a hypocrite?” Has he failed to live by the standards he espouses to his audience? His listeners, viewers and all the people that buy his books and have traveled vast distances to attend his rallies, not to mention all the people that follow his 9 principles and 12 values (912) deserve to know the truth of what really happened.

Andrew Breitbart has made his side of the story extraordinarily clear and very public. He has brought the issue of Glenn Beck’s ethics and integrity to the court of public opinion, because he says Beck refused to deal with it privately for almost a year. To put it simply Beck’s principles and values have been challenged, this time by a conservative peer not some left-winger. Shouldn’t Glenn address this? His silence is deafening.

Updated 12:30pm 5/26/11:

It appears that Glenn Beck’s  producers did go on to defend Mrs. Sherrod in the 4th hour of the show which is available only to SUBSCRIBERS OF HIS INSIDER EXTREME service. They play audio of a CNN interview with Mrs. Sherrod, where she defends herself and tries to explain why she did not fight when the USDA and White House demanded her resignation. You can judge for yourself the veracity of her claims and how much the Beck producers actually defend Sherrod.

LiveLeak.com audio of 4th Hour (Insider Extreme) of Glenn Beck Radio Show

Steven Rosenblum is the host of  ‘Conservative Republican Forum’ & ‘CRF Weekdays’ on BlogTalkRadio and the USA Talk Radio Network. He was also the 2010 GOP nominee for Florida State House-District 89.

Country Fans Won’t Want To Miss Tonight’s ‘American Idol’ (A Sneak Preview)

The biggest effect that American Idol has had on the music scene was by naming Carrie Underwood one of its big winners. Country radio (and video, for that matter) immediately embraced her. Then the fans took over and eventually she became an official country music superstar. Heck, even the Grand Ole Opry inducted her into membership. In Nashville, you can’t get a bigger “I Belong Here” vote of confidence than that.

Why then is the country music industry resisting good ol’ Scotty McCreery — American Idol’s “country act” this season?

Some radio personalities have grown weary of the constant comparisons between Scotty and his idol, Josh Turner. Some have actually gone on air and said that Scotty is more of an Alfred E. Neuman (of Mad magazine fame) than he is another Josh Turner. OK, Scotty does need to stop holding the microphone like it is a flute. OK, and he and Josh Turner both share a similar vocal range, and Scotty sings his share of Josh Turner covers. But give the kid a break — he just happens to like singing Josh Turner songs. Once he wins Idol, then maybe we can worry so much about Scotty finding his own sound.

Luckily for Scotty, there’s one guy that takes all the comparisons as a compliment — Josh Turner himself. After singing Turner’s song “Your Man” multiple times, the country star surprised McCreery during his hometown visit.

You can tune in to American Idol tonight (Thursday, May 19) to see MCA Nashville recording artist Josh Turner surprise finalist Scotty McCreery at his hometown celebration in Garner, N.C. During McCreery’s performance, Turner walked on the stage and completely shocked the 17-year old singer. They performed “Your Man” – Scotty’s self-proclaimed theme song – and his favorite song of all time, “Long Black Train.”

Or you can just watch it here…

Josh Turner’s current single “I Wouldn’t Be A Man” is steadily moving up the charts. The debut single from his current album Haywire, “Why Don’t We Just Dance,” a four-week No. 1 hit won an American Country Award for Single of the Year (Male Artist) in December. His last single, “All Over Me,” also reached No. 1, making him one of only seven country artists to have two No. 1 hits in 2010.

No word yet on how many hits (if any) Scotty McCreery will have someday. But this is one hometown concert he’ll certainly never forget.

Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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Ultimate Fighter 13 Episode 4: A Bad Dream

After a rough week and an even more demanding day, I’ve decided that the main events of this episode will be economized into an easy-to-read format. To run where things stand down, and also quickly, Junior’s team of homicidal carebears led 2-1 by way of Ryan McGillivray’s barn burner win last week. If there are three parts of the first 30 minutes – whether good or bad – that stood out the most, besides Team Dos Santos getting the next fight pick (Charles Rader vs. Ramsey Nijem), it’d have to have been the latter dancing naked for his fellow fighters. No one really likes a dude that can’t be taken seriously.

But on the good side of things, Matt Hughes showed up to train with Team Lesnar. HOW COOL IS THAT?

About as much so as the chance to watch someone hit the floor, which happened quickly enough once fight time rolled around. Ramsey controlled most of the action, from the first round to Charlie’s tapping out of a choke in the second, except for that one point where the action was stopped because he couldn’t aim his kicks right.

Consider it 3-1 for the crew in gray.

All in all, Junior’s fighter accomplished his mission while preventing other fighters from regarding him as a pushover. He did great in the eight sides, and hopefully future episodes won’t see him act like a dumbass out of them.

Ryan Anthony

20-something Tennessee Journalism student and relentless sports fan.

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China Bans Time Travel (but not Tomorrowland)

I’m not sure who’s making the decisions in China these days. It feels like an episode of Celebrity Apprentice; one day things seem to be going well (as if John Rich or Marlee Matlin were calling the shots) and the next day it feels like things are off-track (and LaToya Jackson or Gary Busey are running things). Just when you thought the Chinese government was loosening up a bit in terms of their comfort zone with creative thought and imagination (the plans for Shanghai Disney resort are advancing nicely, for example), along comes the news that they are banning time travel in film and TV shows.

That’s right, in case you hadn’t heard — the $4.4 billion Shanghai Disney resort is expected to open in late 2015 with a Magic Kingdom-style theme park, two hotels and a Downtown Disney shopping center. There’s only one problem — the Chinese government has banned time travel in entertainment. I guess it’s time for the age-old communist practice of rewriting history to suit the current oppressive needs. Will Shanghai Disneyland include Tomorrowland, now that they have to reconcile the principles of Chairman Mao with their introduction of Mickey Mao?

Here is the kind of dangerous programming the Chinese government fears…

Brilliant. If there were 7-UP commercials that smart here in the US, I’d drink the soft-drink just to show my support.

You see, China doesn’t want to go back to the future… or even back the past, for that matter. The Chinese government has banned any depiction of time travel in TV shows and films because the plot element “disrespects history.”
In a statement, China’s State Administration for Radio, Film & Television said that fictional time-traveling in programs “casually make up myths, have monstrous and weird plots, use absurd tactics, and even promote feudalism, superstition, fatalism and reincarnation.”

Here is the full statement. Read it for yourself and you’ll see what I mean…
广电总局关于2011年3月全国拍摄制作电视剧备案公示的通知
【发布时间】:2011-03-31 14:02 【信息来源】:办公厅
  3月29日,广电总局向各省、自治区、直辖市广播影视局,新疆生产建设兵团广播电视局,中央电视台,解放军总政宣传部艺术局,中国教育电视台发出《广电总局关于2011年3月全国拍摄制作电视剧备案公示的通知》,通知说,2011年3月,全国电视剧拍摄制作备案申报公示的剧目共95部、2783集,同意公示的剧目共66部、1961集。
  按题材划分,当代题材33部、942集,分别占公示总数的50.0%和48.04%,其中 ,当代军旅题材1部30集,当代都市题材25部744集,当代涉案题材4部93集,当代科幻题材1部35集,当代其它题材2部40集。现代题材2部、55集,分别占公示总数的3.03%和2.8%,其中 ,现代军旅题材1部30集,现代其它题材1部25集。近代题材28部、864集,分别占公示总数的42.42%和44.06%,其中 ,近代都市题材1部25集,近代传奇题材11部332集,近代革命题材15部477集,近代其它题材1部30集。古代题材3部、100集,分别占公示总数的4.55%和5.1%,其中 ,古代宫廷题材2部70集,古代武打题材1部30集。批准立项的重大革命题材电视剧目2部、65集 。本月申报的剧目中,因内容或手续不全问题暂不予公示的剧目共29部、822集。
  近几个月,全国报备剧目的总体态势是好的,但我们也发现一些不正确的创作苗头:个别申报备案的神怪剧和穿越剧,随意编纂神话故事,情节怪异离奇,手法荒诞,甚至渲染封建迷信、宿命论和轮回转世,价值取向含混,缺乏积极的思想意义。对此,希望各制作机构端正创作思想,要弘扬中华民族优秀传统文化,努力提高电视剧的思想艺术质量。
  另外,近期申报备案公示的涉案剧数量有所回升。在此提示各制作机构:广电总局2004年以来有关涉案剧制作和播出的管理要求持续有效,各制作机构在涉案剧创作之初,要审慎考虑市场风险,避免盲目立项投资。
  遵照中央精神,为庆祝中国共产党成立90周年,各级电视台要积极筹备,努力推出一批生动再现中国革命、建设和改革开放历史画卷、真实反映各族人民在党领导下实现民族伟大复兴奋斗历程的优秀作品,为建党90周年献礼。
    备案公示剧目表请在总局政府网站电视剧电子政务平台公示专栏中查询。

…and you thought Michelle Obama’s need to control McDonald’s “Happy Meals” was a little oppressive.

Are the Chinese just determined to raise children with absolutely no sense of creativity or imagination? Or, this being the 90th anniversary of the Communist party (CPC), do they just want to maintain complete control over any portrayal of the events depicted in TV shows looking back in history?

Apparently, time-traveling Chinese shows have been prevalent lately, featuring characters traveling back to ancient times. The issued guidelines discourage producers and writers from using time travel, along with any elements that contain “fantasy … random compilations of mythical stories, bizarre plots, absurd techniques,” if they want their programs to stay on the air. Of course, the governement can still pull the plug on any show whenever it wants, for any (or no) reason at all.

I still don’t get it. Something about opening a Disney theme park in Shanghai (the theme of which will be the romantic portrayal of the past alongside the technologically-driven portrayal of the future) just doesn’t gel with the Chinese impulse to erase thoughts of time travel. It’s the usual Chinese “progress” — one step forward, one step backward, and 1,331,460,000 steps in place.

Why are Chinese authorities concerned with this in the first place? Doesn’t the government realize the end result will be two things? (That’s right, it’s the good old law of unintended consequences). One — to drive up the illegal bootlegs of any TV shows or films that have anything to do with time travel. And two — to inspire a scientist there to work secretly on a time travel machine to go back and make sure this ban on time travel never took place.

And maybe even Communism, while they’re at it.

Greg Victor

Greg Victor (Parcbench Culture Editor) covers the worlds of tennis and country music for Parcbench. Based in New York City and frequently on the road.

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