Archive for February, 2013

Oscars, red carpetry top last week's TV ratings numbers

February 28th, 2013
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Oscars, red carpetry
top TV viewing week

And the winner is: The Oscars.
Last Sunday’s Academy Awards show on ABC topped the week’s viewership, according to a Nielsen ratings wrap-up ending Feb. 24.
The Oscarcast was No. 1 with 40.4 million.
Also pulling in viewers: three pre-show red carpet coverage shows, one ranking second; another at fifth; and a third at 11th.
The week’s top drama, CBS’ “NCIS,” finished the week at No. 3.
And the week’s leading comedy, CBS’ “Big Bang Theory,” landed at No. 4.
And no, CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0,” which had a new episode on Feb. 18, was under the radar and not among the week’s top finishers. Then again, neither were CBS’ “The Mentalist,” “Criminal Minds” or “The Good Wife” (the latter two were up against the Oscars).
The week’s top shows, for the ratings week ending Feb. 24, looked like this:

1 — Academy Awards (ABC) ........................40.4 million.
2 — Oscars Red Carpet (ABC, 8 p.m.)...........25.5
3 — “NCIS” (CBS)..........................................21.1
4 — “Big Bang Theory” (CBS)........................17.6
5 — Oscars Red Carpet (ABC, 7:30 p.m.)......16.5
6 — “NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS).......................16.3
7 — “American Idol” (Fox).............................14.4
8 — “Person of Interest” (CBS).......................14.2
9 — “American Idol” (Fox).............................13.7
10 — “Two and a Half Men” (CBS).................13.4
11 — Oscars Red Carpet (ABC, 7 p.m.).........12.4
12 — “Blue Bloods” (CBS).............................11.2
(tie) — “Elementary” (CBS)............................11.2
14 — “Criminal Minds” (CBS)........................10.7
15 — “CSI” (CBS)..........................................10.6
(tie) — “Modern Family” (ABC).....................10.6
17 — “Mike & Molly” (CBS)..........................10.3
18 — “2 Broke Girls” (CBS)..........................10.2
19 — “Castle” (ABC).....................................9.9
20 — “Vegas” (CBS)......................................9.5
(tie) — “CSI: New York” (CBS).......................9.5

Comments? Reactions? Observations?

Lea Salonga: A whole new whirl in a new Broadway 'Les Miz'?

February 26th, 2013
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Let’s cut to the chase:
Lea Salonga sang a couple of tunes from “Les Miserables ”— the film that just picked up a couple of Oscars, including Anne Hathaway’s as Best Actress for the role of Fantine — when she performed Saturday night (Feb. 23) at the Blaisdell Concert Hall.
She did a shout-out to bid her aloha and goodwill to the film in the Academy Awards hoopla the following night.
She was speaking as a Broadway insider, having performed Fantine in the last revival of “Les Miz” on Broadway (2010) marking the 25th anniversary of the hit show, and Eponine in the 10th anniversary production of the show as well as in national touring productions, including a recent Honolulu run.
Salonga did not mention, even if she knew, that producer Cameron Mackintosh is reviving “Les Miserables” in a brand new production, slated to debut on the Great White Way in March 2014. This one will dispense with the turntable and rely on French art to set the visual mood of the original Victor Hugo tale about the French revolution, according to Mackintosh
That said, wouldn’t it be a delight if Salonga, the globally-known Filipina songbird, is among the assembled troupers in the re-imagined show? It's likely to be supported by legion of loyalists who’ve seen it and her on Broadway, as well as the newbies introduced to the scope and the score of the production via the Tom Hooper-directed film?
Surely, the likes of Hugh Jackman, who has played Broadway and earned a Tony (“Boy From Oz”), would make a terrific Jean Valjean on stage as he did on film, and if reunited on stage with Hathaway as Fantine for the upcoming venture, you’d have a dream cast.
Not likely to happen, as movie stars rarely get immersed in stage endeavors, particularly when it’s not a brand new attraction.
But Salonga, who is known to a generation of Disney princess followers via Jasmine in Disney’s “Aladdin” and Mulan in “Mulan” films, owes much of her success to theater. You recall, she originated the Kim role in “Miss Saigon,” copping a Tony in the process.
And yes, her voice is very much of an integral instrument and element of her talent.
In her Honolulu show, she sashayed from jazz to pop to musical theater, embracing standards and chart-toppers, with stellar musicianship from her conductor, Larry Yurman, supported by a coterie of five local guys who provided the perfect soundscape.
Of course, she shared “Reflection” from “Mulan,” giving the audience the full-on version that was modified when the film was released, and repeated her “A Whole New World” Jasmine anthem with a gent named Kwan selected from the audience to be her impromptu Aladdin.
Yes, he delivered, the crowd roared, and Salonga validated her faith in audience participation.
You could hear a pin drop, when she unwrapped “On My Own,” the powerful "Les Miz" staple, which didn’t need an introduction, and the Eponine tune brought out her intuitive nature as an actress-songstress. She confessed that while on a visit to the Disneyland campus earlier this year, she was saddened when word of the Newtown shootings emerged. She then selected the perfect and precise “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables,” also from “Les Miz.” I imagine there were many damp eyes in the house.
There was sunshine and warmth, too, on “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” and solemnity on her musical narrative from a show on Japanese internment she’s been promoting, “Allegiance,” perhaps eventually making the cut on Broadway.
Her journey included “I Have Been Changed by You” and “How Deep Is the Ocean,” not the usual fare you associate with her.
Then there was a precious “Grenade,” hurled with control and precision, and yes, an acknowledgement to our homegrown Bruno Mars, its singer and composer; if the tune has a second life as a “cover,” Salonga’s from a female perspective should be a natural.
Salonga proved she can groove and move, with Cee-Lo Green’s “Forget You” (co-written by Bruno Mars) composition).
Only surprise and/or disappointment: Nary a note from “Miss Saigon,” Salonga’s ticket to fame.
If she presumed no one would be interested in that niche of her stardom, she’s wrong.
Maybe next time.

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The Affleck Effect redirects the Oscar playbook

February 25th, 2013
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And the winner is ... Seth MacFarlane.
Or was it?
The 85th annual Academy Awards Sunday night (Feb. 24) attracted 36.967 million viewers and earned a 12.1 adults 18 to 49 rating, according to initial Nielsen ratings.
That means the show hosted by MacFarlane improved a skosh from last year’s 11.7 adults 18 to 49 tally, when Billy Crystal was emcee.
But was MacFarlane, of “Family Guy” and “Ted” fame, solely the reason for the slight bump up?
First off, the Affleck Effect — will Ben Affleck win, even without a Best Director nomination? — had a undeniable impact in the golden Oscars playbook.
And surely, the expansive Broadway-to-film feast kept the viewers fixated. After all, the tuneful segments from “Dreamgirls” with Jennifer Hudson, “Chicago” with Catherine Zeta-Jones, and all the heavyhitters from “Les Miserables” (meaning: Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barnes, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helen Bonham Carter – whew!”) were inspired spectacles, individually and collectively. The “Les Miz” biz was even historic, too — first, and likely only — time the ensemble sang “One Day More” live on live TV. An Oscar moment, n’est-ce pas?
Toss in a rare appearance of Barbra Streisand singing “The Way We Were” and she was an exclamation point in the tribute to those film folks who died during the year, with her link with composer Marvin Hamlisch. And the flashback return of Shirley Bassey reviving “Goldfinger” as part of a salute to James Bond and that film franchise, was golden and genius. Plus: Adele not surprisingly rendered her first public performance of “Skyfall,” from the latest 007 blockbuster, picking up a Best Song Oscar statue for her night’s work.
Or was the divisive mood, prevailing in the last few weeks, a factor? After all, the snubbing of Affleck — he was not among the Best Director nominees this year — was the resulting wild card since he corralled a trove of honors and support leading up to Oscar night. When “Argo” won, it clearly became an evening of the Affleck Effect. His win as a producer, including colleague George Clooney, upset the cart, was arguably another Oscar moment. Ang Lee, who directed “Life of Pi,” then became the piece de resistance over expected winner Steven Spielberg for “Lincoln,” whose historical drama became the unfortunate victim of the circumstands. Another Oscar moment, sort of.
Clearly, the tide shifted because of the Afflect Effect.
The actor-director-producer, humbled by the laurels, rushed through his thank-yous, but demonstrated humility and decorum without ever mentioning the early snub. Winning Best Picture was redemption, not only for some of his box office duds (“Gigli,” “Pearl Harbor,” “Surviving Christmas”), but for Affleck’s mounting savvy — when he’s right, he’s right on. Remember the Oscar he picked up early on, with Matt Damon, for scripting “Good Will Hunting”?
The surprises made guesstimating the Academy Awards risky business. Of the seven audience-relevant categories, I struck out in two races: supporting actor, won by Christoph Waltz (“Django Unchained”), and director, Lee (“Life of Pi”). But got it right for film (“Argo”), actress (Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”), supporting actress (Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”), actor (Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”), and song (“Skyfall,” Adele).
So how, really, was MacFarlane?
That opening segment, pondering his effectiveness as a host, with William Shatner (“Star Trek”) as the messiah, was overlong, wrought with lulls but evoking some laughter and chatter. MacFarlane’s wrapup song about Oscar losers, with Kristin Chenoweth, was wickedly inappropriate and unfunny, for the most part. Methinks MacFarlane will grow into the role as Oscar host, if he could get two or three ops to find his pace and his primetime worthiness. For now, his was an explorational journey, before a TV crowd still uncertain about the fit.
MacFarlane also uncorked a couple of uncomfortable bards, one including President Lincoln, linked to his assassination; another naming critic Rex Reed and Adele, inferring his dumb comments about size and girth earlier heaped upon Melissa McCarthy, who wasn’t as funny as she normally is, in an intro sketch that was also overlong.
Speaking of long: The show ran overtime, with enough lapsing minutes between the first acting award (supporting actor) to the next (supporting actress), with far too much time devoted to technical awards certainly vital to the industry, but laden with thank-yous that go on interminably. Maybe it’s time for the Oscars to do what the Grammys and Tonys already do: retain primetime minutes to key categories, and cut back on airtime for technie awards but still honor the artistry.
Keep the entertainment quotient high — after all, productions smartly mounted will be water cooler fodder the next morning — and the salutes can be filmed montages or live sharing. But it’s gotta be relevant, and at least nearly everyone spoke from the heart, not from a printed sheet of notes.
It was unfair, in retrospect, for Affleck to streak through his acceptance speech as if it was a marathon; he was the evening’s golden boy and the audiences, live and at home, was ready and eager to hear his reaction.

What a sweet tweet: Hawaii is No. 1 for happiness (sorry, Disneyland)

February 21st, 2013
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Shave ice: one of the happiest things in Hawaii.

So Hawaii is the happiest state, according to 10 million tweets to University of Vermont mathematicians.
Sorry, Disneyland — you might be the happiest place on Earth, but we're talking states.
If happiness is a state of mind, what then, makes folks happy in the happiest state?
Here’s a short list:
1 — The weather; no need to snow your way out of your home.
2 — The beaches; every island has a grand escape, every sunbather has a place in the sun, every surfer has a fave.
3 — The slo-mo lifestyle; despite what Scott Caan of "Hawaii Five-90" has regretted to say, the easy-going manner works, even if a slo-mo-er takes the fast lane on the freeway. No rush, no nerve rash.
4 — Shave ice every day; who’s not gonna like a sweet treat from Matsumoto’s, Waiola, Island Snow, or wherever. But: beware of the shop that calls it shaved ice or snow-cones.
5 — Rubbah slippahs; it’s the unofficial footgear of choice. And yes, it’s not a flip-flop. It’s slippahs. Rubbah slippahs.
6 — The sunset view and the beachfront hula at House Without a Key, at the Halekulani Hotel. Unbeatable; Maui chips to munch on, too, when you sip your wine or mai tai.
7 — Hawaiian Airlines; the on-time airline (except when it’s a blizzard on the east coast, where it now flies to JFK) with the free in-flight Chai Chaowasaree meal (first class is divinely gourmet).
8 — The shaka sign; no need for words, just a flash of the thumb and the pinkie finger, expressed by darn near everyone, including President Obama.
9 — Big Island Candies; just about the best cookie (remember the triangular chocolate dip on the classic macadamia shortbread) anywhere; the brownies and other specialties are oh-so ono, too.
10 — Spam musubi; the meal you can munch for lunch or din-din, in the car, on the mall, aboard your flight, and available darn near everywhere.

Add to the list? What makes you happy in Hawaii?

'Castle' on a cloud, as it again tops 'Hawaii Five-0'

February 19th, 2013
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Scott Caan, Arian Foster and Alex O'Loughlin in "Hawaii Five-0."

“Hawaii Five-0” needed a Hail Mary Monday (Feb. 18) night to soar and score, but alas, “Castle,” its chief competition, prevailed at No. 1 in the 9 p.m. (10 p.m. Mainland) timeslot.
With a Pro Bowl football game as a backdrop, the CBS procedural failed to score as the ABC drama — airing part one of a two-parter — pulled a 2.2 in the adults 18-49 rating, up 2 per cent from last week, and 9.67 million viewers, compared to “Five-0’s” 2.0 per cent demo and 8.99 million viewers, down 5 per cent from a week ago.
The shrinkage and the loss ought to be major concerns for CBS, but producers seem oblivious to viewer response questioning problematic scripts.
CBS’ lead-in comedy shows, in the two-hours preceding the Hawaii-filmed series, topped their respective slots — “How I Met Your Mother,” with 3.4 demos and 8.85 million viewers, at 7 p.m.; “Rules of Engagement,” with 2.8 demos and 8.4 million, at 7:30 p.m.; “2 Broke Girls,” with 3.4 demos and 10.11 million, at 8 p.m.; and “Mike & Molly,” with 3.1 demos and 10.33 million, at 8:30 p.m.
"Five-0” was middling and worrisome.
The show needs to pass, punt or run to score big and cross that goal line.
The latest episode, themed “Pā‘ani (The Game),” offered challenges and potential, but the show fumbled, with more of the same-old, same-old.
The bromance thing, with Danno (Scott Caan) and Steve McGarrett, has become an overdone irritant; the two argue about anything and everything, even fave footballers, and it’s overkill. Pass, already. Too predictable.
The romance thing, with Steve and Cath (Michelle Borth), is lukewarm and unconvincing. Punt, already — or maybe go for a quarterback sneak. Make it happen, at least once in a while.
The guest-role thing, with the likes of Larry Manetti (Rick, from “Magnum P.I.”), Pat Monahan, from Train and Arian Foster from the Pro Bowl, needed more work. Manetti can’t sing, so why make him? Monahan can sing, so why didn’t he? Foster could’ve figured in a real (well, reenacted) gridiron situation, not just pass on a key clue. Run with it, please?
What the show does very well, week after week, is stage an awesome opening sequence that’s swift, sleek, sensational — and that chopper offering aerial views and camouflaged soldiers in a tactical drill had the kind of emotion and commotion of great drama.
Too bad what followed was the customary awkward plotting with lack of definition and plenty of unnecessary linkage. Like, Nick was a pal of McG’s dad?
The show still needlessly drills into the past, mining for more character options and morsels of gold, with little relevance. Isn't it time to really open the playbook and, gulp, replace the coach?