Whatever else one says about Mike Tyson — and there's plenty that can be inserted here — he was heavyweight boxing's last great showman. Can anyone outside of Russia actually claim they are fans of the Klitscho brothers or even know which one is champion of which division? Other than the mercurial Floyd Mayweather, these days most boxers are fighting on pay-per-view (at least those whose bouts even get to television) for small purses in front of even smaller crowds.
You certainly won't find any other boxers who would be the subject of a Broadway play. Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, which comes to HBO 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, proved one of the season's hits. It's directed by Spike Lee, and the one-man show features Tyson totally open about a host of things. The subjects range from his time in prison to various family events, his ongoing battle with drug and alcohol abuse (which he sadly seems to be losing), and many other items.
While he's hardly a candidate for most congenial or likable former champ, Tyson's still arguably the sport's biggest draw. Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth is a chance to see him outside the ring, where he proves no less compelling than he was inside that arena.
The broadcast networks have seen their prestige and audience continually dissipate in the age of cable, YouTube and streaming video. Their primary audience continues aging, while the 18-49 crowd increasingly turns to Netflix and other alternatives for their programming.
So when they get anything remotely close to good news they celebrate it. As they head into the November sweeps, there are a handful of victories that the corporate broadcast types can celebrate. Things are far from perfect, but there's widespread consensus it's better than last season, at least so far. Here's a look at each network's good, bad and ugly for the first few weeks of the 2013-14 season.
Scattered newspapers reveal headlines like “RAYNA IS BACK” and “LAMAR INDICTED” and we zoom around and realize that Rayna is being interviewed by Robin Roberts. Presumably Robin Roberts was frantically cramming because she has no idea who or what Rayna is, because Robin Roberts has a life. Rayna tries to defend her father. Rayna tries to talk about her label. “Do you have any time for romance?” No romance we’d want to hear about, Robin Roberts.
Shove it right up your ass: The classiest show in town won't be on the air until Monday, Feb. 24, reports Entertainment Weekly, but you can watch a trailer now. It's produced by the same people who created The Real Housewives of Orange Country and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills — whether or not Bart Durham is directing is TBD.
Country music superstar Rayna Jaymes has lost her voice, probably, and she’s taking some lessons with a “vocal therapist” to get it back. We skip over the scene where the singing teacher has to sign a non-disclosure agreement and get right to very professional mouthsound terms like “resonance” and “tension” and “scar tissue.” The two women make fishfaces at one another and push in their cheeks. Singing is very serious business and not hilarious.
Chasing Nashville, a new docu-soap debuting tonight on Lifetime, made me mad. Then sad. Then bored. It's the reality show trifecta.
First off, this isn't really a show about Nashville. It's a show about "Nashville," and young singers from Appalachia who dream of making it there. The hourlong program follows a group of aspirants who have absorbed enough industry lingo — "showcase," "producer," "total package" — to consider themselves on the direct periphery of superstardom. All they need is a tiny crack in the door. (Enter a reality TV producer.) The premiere showcases the first round of a singing competition for teen girls at the annual HillBilly Days in Pikeville, Ky.
We have certainly entered a new era in the reality genre — the tropes are so ingrained that production companies think success comes from simply pressing the right buttons: dramatic pre-commercial-break tension builders; backstories accentuated by soft-focus camera, idle walks to nowhere and stares off into the middle distance; sassy confessionals; easily-digested personality types; tiny moments of genuine intrigue teased relentlessly through the episode and, of course, a cast willing to play the game and look terrible in the process.
Rayna James Family Fun Band
It’s a family gathering at the cemetery, like you do, to celebrate the birthday of “Mamaw,” who died long before any grandchildren were born to call her such a thing. Maddie, eldest child and heir, has sidled away from the matriarchal moon circle. Rayna thinks Maddie’s behavior is unacceptable, but she would like both of her daughters to be her dates for the fancy symphony gala. “Big whoop,” says the teen. Then the women chant, turn three circles counter-clockwise, drink to the memory of Gaia, Lilith, Mother Mary, and dead grandma, and fly away on their brooms.
Rayna and Teddy are signing their dibborce papers and talking over custody arrangements. They “never thought it would end like this,” this meaning divorce. They thought instead they would grow old together and then one of them would die, probably after something lingering, and the survivor would experience the fun of funeral arrangements and being a widow/er. Well, dying together in a horrific accident of some kind (you know, like Rayna almost did with Deacon) is also a possibility, though it’s rare. Splitting up’s not looking so bad now, right?
While Turner Classic Movies continues to test the holding capacity of DVRs with its mammoth The Story of Film programming, tonight combines the episode covering 1953-57 with a couple of Nicholas Ray classics, Rebel Without a Cause (7 p.m.) and Johnny Guitar (10:45 p.m.). Sandwiched between them at 9 p.m., however, is a particular Country Life favorite, All That Heaven Allows.
Here's a 2011 Scene appreciation:
"There is a very short distance between high art and trash," Douglas Sirk said in an oft-cited formulation, "and trash that contains an element of craziness is by this very quality nearer to art." Craziness was an essential part of the lurid high-gloss melodramas that made Sirk's reputation, for good and ill, in the 1950s. His movies from this period teem with thwarted nymphos, anguished lovers, incestuous urges and stifled gay longing — sometimes, as in 1956's Written on the Wind, all in the same scirocco of torment. But what looks like craziness is the steady ache of emotions people aren't meant to admit, let alone express. The tension between Sirk's exquisitely calibrated and composed frames, and the people chafing within them, obliterates that very short distance between trash and art.
It's tough to say which aspect of Sirk's brilliant 1955 melodrama All That Heaven Allows ... looks more subversive today: its piercing portrait of oppressive conformity, or its empathetic study of a middle-aged woman's undimmed sexuality. As in Sirk's previous hit Magnificent Obsession, the subject is a May-September romance between Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman, who revived her career with these roles after her divorce from Ronald Reagan. Wyman plays a small-town widow who falls in love with Hudson, her free-spirited groundskeeper, thus provoking the scorn of her small-minded country-club set and her selfish grown children. When Wyman announces she wants to marry Hudson, she is pressured to renounce him for the sake of duty.
You can’t go home again. Oh wait, never mind, you totally can go home again. In fact, you can go home and your ex-husband is there to hug you after you’ve recovered from your car crash/coma. So is your youngest daughter. But not your oldest daughter, who will greet you with a glare. Rayna talks with sister Tandy about how much she struggled after her own mother’s death, and how she can’t believe that she “almost did that” to her own kids. Look, Rayna, accidents happen. Talk to Juliette’s mom (RIP) before your blame yourself too much.
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