Archive for February, 2012

Whitney's greatest hits: So what are your faves?

February 17th, 2012

Whitney Houston will be remembered and saluted, in private funeral services in New Jersey on Saturday (Feb. 18).
She may be gone, but her music lives on forever — receiving posthumous sales boost akin to the Michael Jackson passing. In death, she has new life on the sales charts, online downloads and, yes, airplay on radio.
Assuredly, she is one of the best-selling singers with a legendary roster of hit music.
So what are your favorite Whitney Houston songs?

These are mine:

1 – “I Will Always Love You” (1992). Her signature song, featured in “The Bodyguard,” her biggest film starring Kevin Costner.
2 – “Greatest Love of All” (1986). A cover of the original George Benson chartbuster, but nonetheless an iconic tune for Houston.
3 — “One Moment in Time” (1988). This surely is a punctuation mark in her career — a tune recorded for the 1988 Olympics, celebrating special moments in time. The lyrics — and her performance —bring on chicken-skin chills. Sample lyrics:
I want one moment in time
When I'm more than I thought I could be
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away
And the answers are all up to me
Give me one moment in time
When I'm racing with destiny
Then in that one moment of time
I will feel
I will feel eternity...

4 — “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” (1987). This one earned her a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
5 — “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” (1988). A rockaballad for heartaches and heartbreaks — and a healer at that.
6 — “How Will I Know” (1985). A solid R&B number with broad appeal — in dance, pop, adult contemporary genres.
7 — “All the Man That I Need” (1990). Another cover (by Linda Clifford and Sister Sledge) that ultimately got the Houston hypnosis — with a surging gospel flavor before a grand finish, as demonstrated by the YouTube live performance.
8 — “So Emotional” (1987). This was Houston’s sixth consecutive No. 1 winner, composed by the duo who were responsible for Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.”
9 — “Saving All My Love for You” (1985). This was her first Grammy win (Best Female Pop Vocal), despite being a cover of an earlier minor hit sung by Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. of the Fifth Dimension.
10 — “Didn’t We Almost Have It All?” (1987)". It didn’t win, but was a nominee for Song of the Year in 1988.

Have any titles to add to the list?

And for a compilation of different strokes of Houston’s No. 1 biggie, “I Will Always Love You,” Google “ glee vs. YouTube” — and see some stunning renderings, by a Taiwanese boy, a young girl, Meredes from “Glee,” a saxophonist and, er, a bizarre but entertaining upbeat render by a woman from the Balkans.
They will always love her...

NBC music wins Mondays; a mishmash 'Five-0'

February 14th, 2012

NBC has found its voice for Monday nights — despite dips in the overnight Nielsen ratings — beating CBS in numbers. And it's got to do with music.
The Peacock network’s “The Voice” drew 16.1 million viewers in its two-hour frame (7 to 9 p.m. here, 8 to 10 p.m. on the Mainland), logging a 5.9 adult 18-49 rating, which was down from last week. Its new show “Smash,” at 9 p.m., pulled 8.09 million viewers and a 2.8 adult 18-49 rating, but dropping 26 per cent from its premiere last week.
This was good enough for NBC to bypass the parade of comedy sitcoms on CBS from 7 to 9 p.m., with the Eye network hitting a season low for Mondays (13.433 million viewers for NBC, 10.319 for CBS).
Who's singing all the way to bank?
In spite of a problematic script, with several bumps in execution, CBS’ Island-filmed “Hawaii Five-0” at 9 p.m. held its own with 9.53 million viewers and a 2.6 adult 18-49 rating, compared to NBC’s “Smash,” which had 8.09 million viewers but a better 2.8 adult 18-49 rating, and ABC’s “Castle,” which earned 8.88 million viewers and a 2.0 adult 18-49 rating. “Five-0” was down a tenth from last week, but “Smash” had a major 26 per cent fallout, compared to last week. “Castle,” on the other hand, was up a skosh from a week ago.
Thus, the jury still is out on the 9 p.m. Monday schedule — clearly, “Smash” with its second episode mixing musical drama and show biz dreams, has become a modest player, eroding some of the viewership of the competing procedural dramas. So it’s still a free-for-all for now.
Back to this week’s “Five-0” episode, entitled “I Helu Pu,” or “The Reckoning.
I reckon good intentions got in the way in writing and execution of this mishmash.
Like the bloodied body found at the end of a laundry chute, this episode was one of the messiest yet — repeated flashbacks that disrupted the storytelling flow, action that put McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) in peril (a car hits him while he’s in pursuit of a perp, giving him gashes on his face that required bandages, which appear and disappear, because of the see-sawing flashback mode, outdated cold war themes about Russian invasions that seemed more James Bondian than McGarrettian.
Further, loyalties and trust were tested, along with common sense, so Lori Weston’s out from her Homeland Security post to aid the governor. (OK, stop the cheering, gang, but admittedly, it’s about time)
How viewers stuck this one out is somewhat baffling. But locals are bound to be loyal, perhaps waiting for that hail-mary pass.
With Lori (Lauren German) deciding to resign and move on, even terminating her adoration for McG, there’s closure to this snail-paced story arc that has plagued the pacing of the show for months. Even minimalizing the productivity of the four-member “Five-0” 'ohana in the process.
There were some bothersome bloopers: How can Kalakaua (Grace Park) merely don scrubs and steal a blood sample from a hospital? Crimefighters breaking the law?
And why were there numerous technical blips in the soundtrack, with a frequent “silent” pause that often dropped a word in dialogue? On whose watch are these things happening?
As Governor Denning, Richard T. Jones finally gets ample screen time ... but the imposing character is demonstrating more menacing maneuvers than aloha or likeability. His way or no way. Remember, the state’s chief executive officer previously took a bullet — and not via an election.
On the Go Local barometer, it was a nice touch to toss in Jake Shimabukuro as a silent auction attraction at the gala that had the cast decked out in formal wear; and season tickets to the University of Hawaii Warrior football games was a nice boost for the team, however premature. Is this the new Norm? Chow Time well before the fall kickoff?
What’s your take?

Grammys remember Houston as Adele assumes throne

February 13th, 2012

Did you watch the Grammys Sunday night?
Clearly, it was exactly what it was repositioned to be: an annual salute to the music industry’s best, coupled with an eleventh hour tribute to the incomparable, if not incomprehensible, Whitney Houston, who died the day before the awards cast.
With Britain’s Adele winning the lioness’ share of trophies, the obvious emerged: she is the darling now and for the immediate future.
I mean, don’t you wish she would cross the pond and come share her vocal prowess in Honolulu?
As far as the audience was concerned, she could have read the phone book ... and emerge a winner. Her vocal of her iconic “Rolling in the Deep,” the first public warbling after months of a challenging throat problem, she was immediately a jewel.
So with Houston’s passing, there was an unofficial turning-over-the-scepter aura as Adele emerged as the belle of the Grammy throne by sign-off. She was a terrific, hypnotic trouper — who made her lyrics spring to life. And her beaucoup trips to the podium, to say thanks and all that usual ritual, were charming, demonstrating her earnest joy and appreciation. Someone like her doesn’t come down the path too often.
Neither does a Jennifer Hudson, who easily is becoming the most versatile and dependable (and slimmed-down) non-winner of “American Idol.” She was tapped to focus on the Houston memorial, and while no one can equate Houston’s emotion and endurance in reaching the high-high notes on “I Will Always Love You,” Hudson did a damn good job in a darned difficult situation, putting her own imprint on a classic that, simply, will never be outdone. It’s Houston’s hit, then and still, but Hudson managed to make that nervous moment work. Don’t think anyone else in the music biz could have stepped in so late and step out so luminously. Well, maybe Dolly Parton, who wrote the song, could have been lassoed. But as charismatic as Parton might be, on her own terms, Hudson’s presence sort of suggested a sisterhood in motion— one song dynamo singing a fond farewell to another.
The Grammys was also an evening of reincarnation, not all good.
Who’d ever thought a Beatle would be so accessible and adorable ... and engaging the home and live audience with his sentimental pre-Valentine’s balladry, then going high-energy rocker later with “The End” with David Grohl and Bruce Springsteen. Yesterday and today blended with oozing charm, yea yea yea. Everyone loved him!
And then there were three Beach Boys, trying to get those good vibrations going again. OK, it wasn’t as energetic or harmonic as yesterday, but to get Brian Wilson to sit at the keyboard and try to have fun, fun, fun again – with Mike Love, Al Jardine and Bruce Johnson, at that — we got a Grammy Event. Even with the peculiar and awkward patchwork of Maroon Five and Foster the People, who were along for the ride.
Further, with Glen Campdell diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the “Rhinestone Cowboy” was magnificent, not just collecting a Lifetime Achievement Award, but showing he still has a lot of achievement in his boots, with Blake Shelton introducing him in song and in back-up... gentle on anybody’s mind.
It was great to see The Boss in action, too, but Bruce Springsteen’s early segment was at best, fresh and now.
To remember Etta James, Bonnie Raitt and Alicia Keys demonstrated love and aloha for the blues queen, but face it — the remembrance quotient was higher and brighter for Houston.
Not so cohesive or coherent: that bizarre Tony Bennett and Carrie Underwood duet. Something got lost in the process, since there was more discomfort than delight in the blending of the generations.
Best performance of the night? Hometown loyalty aside, Bruno Mars strutted with the sound and style of a superstar, but he was outshadowed by Taylor Swift, with her down-home and stylistically chic “Mean.” A splendidly-staged, superbly performed, Grammy-winning turn by Swift, who now is the Queen of Mean. In a good way.
Again, wouldn’t you like to see her live and in the flesh in our town?
As for the flow and flavor of the event, there was far too many moving visuals, during segments by everyone – Chris Brown, Rihanna, Kathy Perry, Nicki Minaj. Dizzying and distracting.
And what say you, about LL Cool J, the evening’s host? He has roots in the music biz, but folks know him now as a star of CBS’ “NCIS: Los Angeles.” So he had the creds to host, though at times, he was a bit procedural, like he was analyzing a case on his TV show.

Rough waters for debut of ABC's ‘The River’

February 8th, 2012

“The River,” the newest ABC series filmed in Hawaii, got off to a modest start in its Tuesday (Feb. 7) premiere. Preliminary overnight Nielsen ratings indicated that rough waters are ahead — the two-hour debut show finished second in its 8 to 10 p.m. (9 to 11 p.m. on the Mainland) time slot.
“The River” averaged 7.5 million viewers and a 2.4 rating in the 18 to 49 adult demos, with the first hour doing better than the second. It needs a major surge to become a prime time player, though the show was up 4 per cent compared to the earlier “Off the Map” series that also was filmed locally, but eventually canceled.
Tuesday, of course, is CBS’ night, with the one-two punch, “NCIS” at 7 p.m. and “NCIS: Los Angeles” at 8 p.m. The flagship procedural, marking its 200th episode, drew 20.8 million viewers and a 4.1 adult rating. “NCIS: LA” was down a skosh, with 16.12 million viewers and a 3.1 adult rating, but nonetheless first in its time slot.
CBS’ “Unforgettable” won the 9 p.m. hour, with 11.70 million viewers and a 2.2 adult rating.
Are you a potential "River" fan? Did you watch? Did you like?

'Smash' No. 1 at 9 p.m., but will 'H50,' 'Castle' recover?

February 7th, 2012

“Smash,” NBC’s ambitious and admirable backstage musical drama on the making of a Broadway show, was a ratings smash Monday (Feb. 6), attracting 11.5 million viewers in the preliminary overnight Nielsen survey. Fueled by a powerful lead-in “The Voice,” “Smash” also beat the competition with 3.8/10 rating in the coveted 18-49 adult demographics, capturing No. 1 in the 9 p.m. (10 p.m. Mainland) timeslot.
This crushed both CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0” and ABC’s “Castle.”
“Five-0,” which boasted a stellar, on-the-edge-of-your-couch kidnapping drama involving Danno’s daughter Gracie and plenty of gutsy teamwork and chases, attracted 9.8 million viewers and a 2.7/7 rating in the 18 to 14 demos, down a tenth, but good for second place, reducing “Castle” to third with 8.72 million and 2.0/5 rating in demos — a season low.
“Smash” premiered strong, with 4.2 adults 18-49 from 9 to 9:30 p.m., though dropping to 3.4 from midpoint to finale.
This was the highest 18-49 tally for any regular show in the pre-news Monday schedule so far this season, nearly quadrupuling NBS’s season average in this slot. “Smash” replaced “Rock Center with Brian Williams,” which is moving the Wednesday landscape.
So the bigger issue now is: Will it have legs? Will “Smash” take the dash out of “Five-0” and “Castle,” which had been jockeying for the 1st or 2nd spot during the 2011-12 season? Or will CBS and ABC eventually reclaim former Monday primetime laurels?
Both “The Voice” and “Smash” had been touted on NBC’s “Super Bowl” coverage, and the plugs paid off.
“The Voice,” at 8 p.m., logged 17.7 viewers, reflected 6.6 adults 18-49 demos, making it the peacock network’s highest-rated regular show in four years, exclusing the “Super Bowl,” which, of course, was a ratings magnet with 111.3 million viewers this past Sunday, the most-watched TV show ever.
* * *
Back to “Five-0”: This episode, entitled “Mai ka wā Kahiko,” or “Out of the Past,” was one of the most gripping to date, just the kind of ammo needed during February sweeps. Alas, the numbers didn't materialize — but not without effort. McGarrett, Danno and Chin Ho, and yes, Lori, too, projected the kind of brisk, taut teamwork lacking during much of this season. When Danno’s girl was in peril, there was swift movement, action, and reaction — tight writing, smart acting, spot-on directing.
The frisky and fun opening, with Lori and McG racing up the Koko Head stairs, was a contrast to the tension whichfollowed — pursuit of a cop gone bad and out of prison, who happens to have a revenge motive to get back to Danno, whose testimony got him in jail.
Acting laurels go to Scott Caan, whose Danno was all grit and snarls, opposite Peter Greene, who played his ex-partner Rick Peterson. Hook ‘em Danno. There was credible and earnest pain in his quest to get this dude back in cuffs and behind bars — and equal sizzle with his ex, Rachel, mother of their captured daugher Gracie.
That wrong-way drive makai on South Street, right next to the former Advertiser building on Kapiolani Boulevard which houses “Five-0” production studios, was swift and sensational — how they shut down the busy street for filming is a testament to savvy film-making.
Finally, here's something to ponder. If “Five-0” overdid “product placement,” with that Subway display a couple of weeks ago, there was a bit of “service placement” or "personality placement" in this one.
Murder was committed in the washroom of Hawaiian Airlines jet; Hawaiian is the show’s cooperating airline, which the plane soaring in the opening credits, and frequently shown in a number of episodes. And you might have noticed that Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian Air CEO and president, played himself in a planeside press conference, which is a first for “Five-0” and him. And Hawaiian employee Denby Dung was that in-flight attendant tending to the passengers and the ruckus in the air.
Because Dung also is the spokesperson for Kia, the automaker, which is a season sponsor of the show, this was another instance of “service placement.” She and the car are regularly seen in TV commercials before and during the episodes, with a “proud to be a sponsor” message.
Any comments and/or observations?

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