television

Wanda Sykes has been called “one of the funniest stand-up comics” by her peers and ranks among Entertainment Weekly’s 25 Funniest People in America. Her smart-witted stand up has sent her career in many different areas.

Her latest comedy tour is entitled, "Oh Well," which she will bring to the Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston, New York on Friday, October 26th at 7:30 PM.

In addition to her standup comedy, Sykes is a writer, producer and actor with projects including television's "Blackish," "Alpha House," "House of Lies," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "The New Adventures of Old Christine" and "The Chris Rock Show” and most recently the reboot of “Roseanne.”

In “The Sky Is Falling: How Vampires, Zombies, Androids, and Superheroes Made America Great for Extremism,” cultural journalist Peter Biskind dives headlong into two decades of popular culture, from superhero franchises and series like “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones” to thrillers like “Homeland” and “24,” and emerges to argue that these shows are saturated with the values that are currently animating our extreme politics.

Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe. Her latest is “Pieces Of Her.” It is her eighteenth novel and it will be produced for TV by the women who have directed and written for “Homeland,” “Mad Men” and “House of Cards.”

“Pieces of Her” asks: What if everything you thought you knew about your quiet, middle-age mother was wrong? What if she has spent the past 30 years hiding in plain sight? What if, when violence erupts at your local mall and a shooter goes on a rampage, the person who stops him, dead, is your mother? What if everything you thought you knew changed in an instant? “Pieces of Her” follows Andrea, a woman who thought she knew everything about her mother, Laura, until the moment she realized she didn’t, and their world unravels.

Vassar and New York Stage and Film’s second Main Stage Powerhouse production this summer is “The Waves,” a musical adaptation of the novel by Virginia Woolf. The piece, which features a book by Lisa Peterson and music and lyrics by the late Davick Bucknam, was produced nearly 30 years ago in New York City. The version running at Vassar July 19-29 is directed by Peterson, features additional music and lyrics by Adam Gwon, and employs four time Tony Award nominee Raúl Esparza as creative consultant and actor.

Esparza’s Broadway credits include “Cabaret,” “The Rocky Horror Show,” “Taboo,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “Company,” “The Homecoming,” “Speed the Plow,” “Arcadia,” and “Leap of Faith.” Television credits include “Pushing Daisies,” “Hannibal,” “The Path,” “BoJack Horseman,” and he recently finished a six-season run as ADA Rafael Barba on “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.”

Esparza joins us to talk about his work.

The cast at Powerhouse features Ken Barnett, Eleasha Gamble, Douglas Lyons, Alice Ripley, and Lauren Worsham.

Lidia Matticchio Bastianich is a successful restaurateur, the author of many best-selling cookbooks, and the Emmy award-winning host of public television's "Lidia's Kitchen," which also airs internationally. She is also a judge on MasterChef Junior Italy and Italy's highly rated daily program "La Prova del Cuoco." 

Lidia's story begins with her upbringing in Pula, a formerly Italian city turned Yugoslavian under Tito's communist regime. She enjoys a childhood surrounded by love and security, despite the family's poverty, learning everything about Italian cooking from her beloved grandmother, Nonna Rosa. When the communist regime begins investigating the family, they flee to Trieste, Italy, where they spend two years in a refugee camp waiting for visas to enter the United States -- an experience that will shape Lidia for the rest of her life.

Her new memoir is "My American Dream: A Life of Love, Family, and Food."

From his rapid-fire stand-up comedy riffs to his starring roles in "Mork and Mindy" and "Good Will Hunting," Robin Williams was an innovative and beloved entertainer -- but as New York Times culture reporter Dave Itzkoff shows in his new biography, "Robin," Williams' comic brilliance masked a deep well of conflicting emotions and self-doubt.

Harry Connick Jr.
Gavin Bond

Harry Connick Jr.'s career has exemplified excellence across multiple platforms in the entertainment world. He has received Grammy and Emmy awards as well as Tony nominations for his live and recorded musical performances, his achievements in film and television and his appearances on Broadway as both an actor and a composer.

The foundation of Connick's art is the music of his native New Orleans, where he began performing as a pianist and vocalist at the age of 5 and he will bring his New Orleans Tricentennial Celebration Tour to Tanglewood in Lenox, MA on Saturday, June 23.

H. Jon Benjamin
Ben Denzer

H. Jon Benjamin is a comedian and actor - best known for voicing the title characters on Fox’s "Bob’s Burgers" and FXX’s "Archer."

His new attempted memoir, “Failure is an Option,” is a chronicle of  defeats and losses beating a steady drum throughout his life. It begins with the inscription “For all of you failures out there. You CAN do worse.” He is, by all accounts, a pretty successful guy -- the lead of two popular television shows. But he points out: voiceover only takes a few hours on any given workday and often he fills the rest of his time with failing -- and that’s ok.

For decades, actress and director Christine Lahti has captivated the hearts and minds of her audience through iconic roles in "Chicago Hope," "Running on Empty," "Housekeeping," "And Justice for All," "Swing Shift," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "God of Carnage," and "The Blacklist." Now, in "True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness," this acclaimed performer channels her creativity inward to share her own story for the first time on the page.

In this poignant essay collection, Lahti focuses on three major periods of her life: her childhood, her early journey as an actress and activist, and the realities of her life as a middle-aged woman in Hollywood today.

WAMC

Ray Hershel, whose face is familiar to at least two generations of television viewers in western Massachusetts, is signing off today. 

Tyra Banks is many things: a world-famous supermodel, the creator, executive producer, and host of longest-running fashion-reality show "America’s Next Top Model," and Emmy-winning talk show, "The Tyra Show," to name just a few.

In her new book, co-written with her mother, "Perfect Is Boring: 10 Things My Crazy, Fierce Mama Taught Me About Beauty, Booty, and Being a Boss," the mother-daughter duo recall the signature mix of pep talks and tough love that shaped Tyra and helped her become the beloved mogul she is today.

Few television shows revolutionized comedy as profoundly or have had such an enormous and continued impact on our culture as "In Living Color." Inspired by Richard Pryor, Carol Burnett, and Eddie Murphy, Keenen Ivory Wayans created a television series unlike any that had come before it.

Along the way, he introduced the world to Jamie Foxx, Jim Carrey, David Alan Grier, Rosie Perez, and Jennifer Lopez, not to mention his own brothers Damon, Marlon, and Shawn Wayans. In Living Color shaped American culture in ways both seen and unseen, and was part of a sea change that moved black comedy and hip-hop culture from the shadows into the spotlight.

David Peisner is a freelance writer based in Decatur, Georgia. He has been writing about music, film, television, books, politics, technology, sports, and world affairs for a wide array of publications for nearly twenty years.

David Peisner is a freelance writer based in Decatur, Georgia. He has been writing about music, film, television, books, politics, technology, sports, and world affairs for a wide array of publications for nearly twenty years. His new book is "Homey Don't Play That!: The Story of In Living Color and the Black Comedy Revolution."

The longtime host of Donahue, Phil Donahue established the modern daytime talk show format with his focus on audience participation and hot-button social issues. In 1967 he began hosting The Phil Donahue Show. The show lasted nearly 3-decades and both the host and host won numerous Emmy Awards.

In a WAMC exclusive, Phil Donahue joins us for a special extended interview discussing his long career, politics, the media and even religion.

The creator of the award-winning TV series "Mad Men" has just written a debut novel - about family, power and privilege.

In "Heather, the Totality," Mark and Karen Breakstone have constructed the idyllic life of wealth and status they always wanted, made complete by their beautiful and extraordinary daughter Heather. But they are still not quite at the top. When the new owners of the penthouse above them begin construction, an unstable stranger penetrates the security of their comfortable lives and threatens to destroy everything they've created.

Matthew Weiner has been entertaining audiences for two decades, most recently as writer, creator, executive producer, and director of "Mad Men," one of television's most honored series. He also worked as a writer and executive producer on "The Sopranos."

On Saturday night at 7:30 pm, Weiner will appear as part of the popular “Yaddo Presents” series. This event will take place in Gannett Auditorium at Skidmore College. Weiner will be interviewed on stage by Elaina Richardson, President of Yaddo, about "Heather, the Totality," which was written at Yaddo.

"Smile! You're on Candid Camera!" Over eight different decades, nearly everyone who watches TV can happily relate to that phrase. Now Peter Funt, the show’s host, brings it to life in a show featuring clips, quips and great fun! “Candid Camera’s 8 Decades of Smiles! With Peter Funt,” is coming to the Wood Theater in Glens Falls, NY. The stage comedy is blended with a behind-the-scenes peek at the show’s funniest moments.

Created by Peter’s father, Allen Funt, "Candid Camera" is the only entertainment program to have produced new episodes in each of the last eight decades – from Allen’s start on TV in August, 1948, through Peter’s run on TV Land last year.

Using "Candid Camera’s" vast library, Peter showcases decades of fun and reveals what happened when the cameras weren’t rolling. Peter Funt joins us.

Hari Kondabolu is a Brooklyn-based comedian and writer who The New York Times praises as “one of the most exciting political comics in stand-up today.”

He’s the co-host of the podcast Politically Re-Active with friend/fellow comedian W. Kamau Bell. His new documentary The Problem with Apu will premiere on truTV on November 19 and Hari will perform at Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, MA on Saturday, November 4.

A legendary comedic second banana to a litany of major stars, Curtis is forever cemented in the public imagination as Booger from Revenge of the Nerds. A classically trained actor, Curtis began his incredible 40-year career on stage but progressed rapidly to film and television. He was typecast early and it proved to be the best thing that could have happened.

Born and bred a nerd, he spent his early years between Detroit, a city so nerdy that the word was coined there in 1951, and, improbably, Geneva, Switzerland. His adolescence and early adulthood was spent primarily between the covers of a book and indulging his nerdy obsessions. It was only when he found his true calling, as an actor and unintentional nerd icon, that he found true happiness. With whip-smart, self-effacing humor, Armstrong takes us on a most unlikely journey—one nerd’s hilarious, often touching rise to the middle. He started his life as an outcast and matured into…well, an older, slightly paunchier, hopefully wiser outcast.

Curtis Armstrong has appeared in a variety of films and television shows including Risky Business, Revenge of the Nerds, Moonlighting and New Girl.  

Tony Hale as Clark Hill in Brave New Jersey
BONDIT, THE SHOT CLOCK, GRAVITAS VENTURES

In the new film Brave New Jersey, Tony Hale plays Mayor Clark Hill - a sweet and subservient man who finds the drive to pursue what he’s always wanted when Orson Welle’s War of the Worlds radio broadcast in 1938 convinces his town that it may be the last night of their lives.

Hale is best known as the youngest Bluth brother, Buster, on the now-Netflix-formerly-Fox favorite Arrested Development and as Selina Meyer’s personal-aide and bag-man on HBO’s Veep.

As a veteran broadcast journalist and the co-anchor of CNN’s New Day, Alisyn Camerota knows a little something about the fast-paced world of cable news.

In her debut novel Amanda Wakes Up, she offers a fictional behind-the-scenes peek at this one-of-a-kind job - a blur of breaking news, big scoops, and colorful personalities.

S. Epatha Merkerson and Joe Donahue
Sarah LaDuke

The Williamstown Theatre Festival season opener on the main stage is Jen Silverman's new play The Roommate. Directed by Mike Donahue, the show continues through July 16th. The cast is led by Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner S. Epatha Merkerson and Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominee Jane Kaczmarek.

Merkerson is cast as Sharon, who is empty-nested and alone in her Midwestern home and takes on a roommate, Robyn (played by Kaczmarek). Before she has even unpacked, Robyn challenges everything about Sharon’s way of life.

S. Epatha Merkerson is best known for her role as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren from 1993 to 2010 on NBC’s Law & Order. She appeared in 391 episodes of the series—more than any other cast member.  She currently stars as Sharon Goodwin, the Chief Administrator of the Gaffney Chicago Medical Center Hospital on NBC’s Chicago Med

Josh Radnor
Cary Mosier / Vassar College's Flickr

The star of How I Met Your Mother, Josh Radnor, is premiering his new play, Sacred Valley at New York Stage and Film and Vassar College's Powerhouse Theater in Poughkeepsie from June 29th to July 9th.

Sacred Valley is about Narby and Natalie, two lifelong friends. Their friendship becomes tested when Narby takes Natalie’s husband Brian out for his first mushroom trip. The next day, a confused Brian leaves Natalie, an enraged Natalie blames Narby, and three people are forced to ask themselves the deepest questions about love, friendship, and growing up.

Aside from playing Ted on How I Met Your Mother, Radnor has written and directed two films, Happythankyoumoreplease, and Liberal Arts

Can you live your life by what The Twilight Zone has to teach you? Yes, and maybe you should. The proof is in this lighthearted collection of life lessons, ground rules, inspirational thoughts, and stirring reminders found in Rod Serling’s timeless fantasy series.

Written by veteran TV critic, Mark Dawidziak, this unauthorized tribute is a celebration of the classic anthology show, but also, on another level, a kind of fifth-dimension self-help book, with each lesson supported by the morality tales told by Serling and his writers.

In a career spanning more than thirty years, David Letterman redefined the modern talk show with an ironic comic style that transcended traditional television. While he remains one of the most famous stars in America, he is a remote, even reclusive, figure whose career is often widely misunderstood.

In his new book – Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night - Jason Zinoman, the first comedy critic in the history of the New York Times, mixes reporting with unprecedented access and critical analysis to explain the unique entertainer’s titanic legacy.

Moving from his early days in Indiana to his retirement, Zinoman goes behind the scenes of Letterman’s television career to illuminate the origins of his revolutionary comedy, its overlooked influences, and how his work intersects with and reveals his famously eccentric personality.

Jason Zinoman writes the “On Comedy” column for the New York Times

http://ajwnews.com


  Ne’imah Jewish Community Chorus will perform their 25th Anniversary Concert this Sunday June 11 at 7 p.m. at The Massry Center for the Arts at the College of Saint Rose.

 

This year’s concert is entitled Sterling Sounds and the special guest will be Cantor Meir Finkelstein. Born in Israel, the son of the late Cantor Zvi Finkelstein, Meir showed outstanding musical abilities, and at an early age began accompanying his father and older brother at services. In 1982 Meir became Cantor of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California, which he served for 18 years.

 

He has composed over 150 settings for the liturgy and has written music for film, television, and concerts. He also produces and arranges music for recordings and live performance. He is currently the cantor at Congregation Beth Yeshurun in Houston, TX.

Comedian Don Rickles has died at age 90 of kidney failure at his Los Angeles home.

For more than half a century, "Mr. Warmth" headlined casinos and nightclubs from Las Vegas to Atlantic City. N.J., and appeared often on late-night TV talk shows.

Rickles managed to shock his audiences without cutting social commentary or truly personal self-criticism. He operated under a code as old the Borscht Belt: Go far — ethnic jokes, sex jokes, ribbing Carson for his many marriages — but make sure everyone knows it's for fun.

To remember Don Rickles on The Roundtable this morning, we go into the audio vault (or a shoebox in Joe's basement) to play my interview from March 2001 when Don Rickles was promoting an upcoming appearance in Kingston, NY.


  Off-Broadway at The Laura Pels Theatre, Roundabout Theatre Company is currently presenting Steven Levenson’s If I Forget. The play is the latest in Roundabout’s ongoing devotion to producing new plays by young playwrights with bold creative voices. Levenson is the acclaimed writer of Dear Evan Hansen and Roundabout’s The Language of Trees.

 

The show is directed by Daniel Sullivan and co-stars Kate Walsh. Walsh is best known for her television role as Dr. Addison Montgomery first on the Shonda Rhimes helmed hits, Grey’s Anatomy and then its spin-off, Private Practice.Walsh began her acting career in Chicago where she studied at the renowned Piven Theatre Workshop. She went on to star in multiple theater productions at the Shakespeare Repertory. She’s worked primarily in film in television in recent years and joins us now to discuss If I Forget and what about it made her want to get back on stage.

If I Forget runs through April 30th. 13 Reasons Why premiers on Netflix on March 31st.

David Bianculli is a guest host and TV critic on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross. A contributor to the show since its inception, he has been a TV critic since 1975. From 1993 to 2007, Bianculli was a TV critic for the New York Daily News.

Darwin had his theory of evolution, and David Bianculli has his.

Bianculli's theory has to do with the concept of quality television: what it is and, crucially, how it got that way. In tracing the evolutionary history of our progress toward a Platinum Age of Television - our age, the era of The Sopranos and Breaking Bad and Mad Men and The Wire and Homeland and Girls—he focuses on the development of the classic TV genres. In each genre, he selects five key examples of the form, tracing its continuities and its dramatic departures and drawing on exclusive and in-depth interviews with many of the most famed auteurs in television history.

David Thomson is a film critic and frequent contributor to the New York Times, the Guardian, and more. He is the author of The Biographical Dictionary of Film, now in its sixth edition, and Moments that Made the Movies.

His latest book, Television: A Biography celebrates and analyzes the stories being told on the small screen.

Jon Else joins us this morning to tell us tell the inside story of Henry Hampton’s 1987 landmark multipart television series Eyes on the Prize, one of the most important and influential TV shows in history.

His new book is True South: Henry Hampton and Eyes on the Prize, the Landmark Television Series That Reframed the Civil Rights Movement. Jon Else was Hampton’s series producer and cinematographer for Eyes on the Prize.

The book focuses on the tumultuous 18 months in 1985 and 1986 when Eyes was created. True South is being published on the 30th anniversary of Eyes’ initial broadcast on PBS, which reached 100 million viewers. 

Kenneth Clark's thirteen-part 1969 television series, Civilisation, established him as a globally admired figure. Clark was prescient in making this series: the upheavals of the century, the Cold War among others, convinced him of the power of barbarism and the fragility of culture. He would burnish his image with two memoirs that artfully omitted the more complicated details of his life.

Now, drawing on a vast, previously unseen archive, James Stourton reveals the formidable intellect and the private man behind the figure who effortlessly dominated the art world for more than half a century: his privileged upbringing, his interest in art history beginning at Oxford, his remarkable early successes.

At 27 he was keeper of Western Art at the Ashmolean in Oxford and at 29, the youngest director of The National Gallery. During the war he arranged for its entire collection to be hidden in slate mines in Wales and organized packed concerts of classical music at the Gallery to keep up the spirits of Londoners during the bombing. WWII helped shape his belief that art should be brought to the widest audience, a social and moral position that would inform the rest of his career.

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