Shout! Factory Announces Release Date For The Shadow Re-Issue

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Universal Pictures

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Universal Pictures

The Shadow is one of the most famed crime fighters of all time.  He is the original caped crusader.  His adventures amazed radio audiences long before Batman came along.  Sadly, after Batman and his fellow comic book superhero friends came along, The Shadow seemed to be pushed aside.  But in 1994, the world was re-introduced to The Shadow thanks to Universal Pictures.  Two decades after The Shadow was introduced to a new generation of audiences, he is bring introduced to yet another new generation of fans thanks to a partnership between Universal Pictures and Shout! Factory.

The Shadow (Collector’s Edition) will be released on Blu-ray Tuesday, February 25th.  The movie, starring Alec Baldwin (The Hunt for Red October, 30 Rock) in the starring role, tells the story of how The Shadow came to be.  It co-stars Penelope Ann Miller (The Artist, Awakenings, Kindergarten Cop), Peter Boyle (Young Frankenstein, The Santa Clause, Everybody Loves Raymond), Sir Ian McKellan (X-Men, X-2 X-Men United, X3 The Last Stand), and many others.

More information on this and other upcoming releases from Shout! Factory is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

CatDog Goes Out On Top In Its Final Season

Courtesy:  Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

The end is finally here for another classic Nicktoon courtesy of Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon.  The two companies have released CatDog: The Final Season to the masses at long last.  Unlike the show’s previously released season sets, this season contains only a single disc.  Even in just the one disc, viewers are treated to even more fun, zany adventures from everybody’s favorite canine feline, including the now beloved three-part mini-epic, “CatDog and the Great Parent Mystery.”  This episode was the cornerstone of Season Four.  It’s just one example of the continued top notch work from the show’s writers even four seasons into the show’s run.  The show’s writing isn’t all that audiences will appreciate from this final season.  Also worthy of note in CatDog’s final season is the return once more of Tom Kenny and Jim Cummings as the voices of CatDog.  Also to be noted in this season is the guest appearances by veteran actors Billy Bob Thornton and Jane Krakowsi along with one of the most famed of all voice actors, the one and only Frank Welker. All elements combined together, they make CatDog: The Final Season one more wonderful addition to the library of any true Nicktoons Nostalgic.

The writing in Seasons Four’s episodes is just as fun and zany as it has ever been throughout CatDog’s previous three seasons.  This season sees the boys have to convince Winslow to come back to their house after he’s kicked out by his own niece and nephew in “Harasslin’ Match.”  This is a tried and true storyline, given.  It’s been used in so many cartoons and sitcoms past and present.  But that makes it no less funny in this episode.  In another of this season’s best moments, CatDog’s parents make a return appearance.  And once again they are voiced by some very well-known names in the form of Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa, The Astronaut Farmer, Armageddon) and Jane Krakowsi (30 Rock, Ice Age, Ally McBeal).  The pair return in the episode titled, “Vexed of Kin.”  Having finally found their “parents”, CatDog deals with the issue of sibling rivalry in their own wacky way.  It makes for a very good tie in the season’s three-part premiere episode.  The two episodes together exhibit what is another of the positives carried from the show’s first three seasons into this season.  The positive in question is the writers’ ability to once again balance the show’s zaniness with its heart.

The writers responsible for bringing CatDog’s adventures to life have done an expert job of balancing the show’s funny side with its heart over the course of its past three seasons.  This season is no different as evidenced by Season Four’s three-part premiere episode.  The boys’ adventure and the final reveal about their past are both as zany as any previous episode.  On the other side, this episode shows more heart than previous episodes.  Who doesn’t want to feel love from a parent, regardless of whether or not that individual is one’s birth parent?  The love of a parent is the greatest love of all.  It’s that knowledge that makes this episode just as heartwarming as it is funny.  It is a tribute to the talents of the show’s writers, even four seasons in.  And along with the season’s remaining seven episodes, they all come together to make this season one more enjoyable collection for any Nicktoons Nostalgic.

CatDog: The Final Season is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online through Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactorystore.com.  And to keep up with all of the latest news from Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory, parents and kids and go online to http://www.facebook.com/nickelodeon, http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial, http://www.nick.com, and http://www.shoutfactory.com.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Mad Men Actor Tapped To Host 2013 ESPYS

Courtesy: ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Mad Men actor Jon Hamm has been announced as the host of this year’s annual ESPY Awards broadcast.  Hamm, who plays Don Draper on the hit AMC series, was announced as this year’s host this morning on LIVE With Kelly and Michael.  Hamm already has quite the resume.  He has already earned himself a Golden Globe Award, a Television Critics Association Award, and a Critics’ Choice Television Award.  He has also been nominated for awards at the Emmys and the Screen Actors Guild. 

Hamm will be in comfortable company for this year’s ESPYs broadcast.  He will be joined by some of the best of the best in the sports world.  This year’s list of celebrity athlete presenters will be announced at a later date.  He himself has quite the sports pedigree.  Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Hamm is an avid fan of the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Blues.  He played in the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Games in 2009 and 2012.  His role in the games allowed him to play third base, right next to his childhood idol, Ozzie Smith.  He will also be working on a new film from Walt Disney Pictures and Mayhem Pictures this summer titled, Million Dollar Arm.  The movie is about a disillusioned sports agent who is in search of professional pitching talent through a reality show set in India.

Hamm commented in a recent interview on the announcement of his being named to host the ESPYS this year.  “I’m very excited to be hosting the ESPYS.  As a longtime sports fan and a marginally successful high school athlete I feel my skill-set jibes well with a host’s duties,” he said.  “I now have to figure out what cleats to wear with a tuxedo.” 

ESPY Executive Producer Maura Mandt shared Mann’s thoughts about his appointment.  “The ESPYS is designed to showcase the year’s best sports moments in a sharp, fun and entertaining manner and Jon’s the perfect host for this year’s show.  His appearances on shows like 30 Rock and SNL show that humor and creativity are two of his main strengths,” she said.  “The combination of Jon’s dry wit with his passion for sports will give fans a unique and original view of the year in sports.”   

The ESPYS are scheduled to air live Wednesday, July 17th at 9pm EST/8pm CT/6pm PST on ESPN/ESPNHD from the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles.  This year’s broadcast will be more interactive than ever for fans.  All categories except for the Arthur Ashe Courage Award and other special awards will be chosen by the fans.  Voting can take place before and during the live show.  Voting will be open from June 28th – July 17th at 9pm EST on ESPN.com/ESPYS.  Voting during the show will be open during the show beginning at 9pm July 17th.  Voting for “Best Team” will be open only on Twitter.  Fans can vote for “Best Team” on Twitter during the show using hashtag ESPYSBestTeam and the team name.

For all the latest ESPYS news, fans can follow the ESPYS on Twitter at @ESPYS.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

TV Renewals and Cancellations Start For 2013

The television industry is in one of its key moments right now.  As the calendar turns from Winter and closer to Spring, network execs at the “Big 4” (and CW) are starting to do some early planning for each network’s Fall schedule.  Typically the Fall schedules are released in Spring; May to be exact.  And if the latest numbers are any sign, things could be very interesting for television this coming Fall as the Winter/Spring season nears its end and we move into the annual filler season.  While things are still uncertain for many shows, the picture for all of the “Big 4” (and CW) has become increasingly clear already.  While there are still a lot of uncertain, it looks like when the dust settles, NBC will have the most to lose, while CBS will end up the big winner with FOX and ABC battling it out for second place.  Of course, let’s not forget the massive slate of pilots set to air very soon across the networks.  Considering the way the schedules look for the “Big 4” (and CW), CBS may still end up the big winner, even with networks such as Syfy and A&E having two of the most anticipated shows of the year.  Let’s take a look at everything.

So far, it looks like NBC has the most to lose.  The network proves to be the biggest loser (yes, that pun is intended) with no fewer than ten of the shows in its schedule being on the chopping block.  This means that at the time of this posting, their fate is up in the air.  Those shows include the likes of Community, Parks & Rec, and 1600 Penn just to name a few.  The network has officially renewed five of its shows at the time of this posting and brought four to an end.  In NBC’s defense, two of those shows ending (The Office and 30 Rock) simply came to the end of their run whereas Animal Practice and Do No Harm were cancelled due to poor ratings.  CBS on the other hand looks to have come out the big winner in everything, and likely will even after the summer filler season ends.  As of this time, CBS’ schedule looks to be largely intact with at least fifteen shows from its schedule set to return, one cancelled, and six still on the hook. 

Perhaps the most interesting trend to note of all the announcements released so far is that audiences seem to be drawing more towards dramas than anything else.  This includes reality television.  Considering the glut of reality TV shows out there on the majors, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and The CW have combined so far for a total of ten total reality shows officially confirmed as being safe so far.  Dramas from the five networks on the other hand, combined for a total of twenty-one shows that have been confirmed as being back so far.  Comedies accounted for only fourteen total shows that will definitely be back as of yet.  On the other side of the coin, comedies topped the list of shows that have been cancelled during the Winter/Spring schedule.  ABC lost the most dramas, with five total.  None of the 5 majors reported cancellation of their reality TV programming.  It really makes for an interesting trend to note.

In terms of the most anticipated shows coming this year are A&E’s Bates Motel, ABC’s much talked about small screen take from the Marvel Comics universe in S.H.I.E.L.D. and Syfy’s long awaited return to actual science fiction programming in Defiance.    Syfy has had at least some science fiction based shows in the likes of the previous Battlestar Galactica re-incarnation as well as Eureka and the now short lived Alphas.  So there’s a lot of talk around this one, especially after the leap of faith that was Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome.  After the much maligned Caprica ended, there was a lot of speculation around the fate of this property.  And considering that Alphas has ended so abruptly and that Eureka only lasted four seasons, one can only wonder if Defiance will be able to revive science fiction programming on Syfy.  Should it survive, sci-fi fans could finally see the network finally return to its roots.  One can only hope.  Supernatural shows seem to have been all the rage on that network in recent memory.  Though it too, has added its own slate of reality shows just like so many of the cable networks.  One thing fans can cheer about is that USA has brought back Psych.  The show’s new episodes started airing this week.  This little show that could has really proven to be a surprise hit for the network and a great replacement for the equally entertaining Monk.  For fans of other cable shows, FX has renewed Archer and American Horror Story.  AMC is said to be bringing back its hit Western saga, Hell on Wheels.  Simply put, this year is going to be another interesting one for television as it competes for eyes over theaters.  That’s a whole other story in itself for another time.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.     

 

IFC Closes 2012 On A High Note With Why Stop Now

Courtesy:  IFC Films/mpi media group/BCDF Pictures/120 db films

Courtesy: IFC Films/mpi media group/BCDF Pictures/120 db films

IFC Films’ latest release, Why Stop Now is everything that makes indie flicks great.  This debut film from co-directors Philip Dorling and Ryan Nyswaner is quirky and zany.  At the same time, it has just enough heart to make it endearing and memorable among fans of the indie movie world.  The heart of the story comes in form of Eli Bloom’s (Jesse Eisenberg—The Social Network) attempt to break away from his own family’s dysfunctional world as he has been given the chance to audition for a major music conservatory in Boston, which would allow him to escape from said dysfunction.  At the same time that he’s trying to escape from that world, it is obvious that he has his own flaws, too.  But it’s that imperfection that makes Eli such a sympathetic character.  Ironically enough, one also can’t help but root for Eli’s mom, Penny (Melissa Leo—The Fighter).  Yes, Penny’s a drug addict, but she shows that she is trying to do the best that she can as a mother to Eli and his sister.  It’s Penny’s addiction that leads to everything that happens in this quirky yet heartfelt story.  From meeting his mom’s drug dealer (and his drug dealer) to trying to make his audition all while having to pick up his sister and so much more, the whole story keeps “rolling” and will keep audiences just as entertained both in the story’s funny and more moving moments.

The concept of a young person trying to break away and start his or her own life is nothing new to the movie industry.  But there is no denying that the manner in which this time honored story has been presented here is in itself quite original.  To that extent, those critics who….well…criticized it for this originality are likely the same ones who refused to see the story’s balance of comedy and drama.  Much of that balance comes from the rather dysfunctional relationship between Eli and Penny.  And it’s also that balance that makes it the underrated indie flick that it is.  The introduction later of Sprinkles (Tracy Morgan—30 Rock, SNL) adds even more comedy and drama to the already entertaining story.  When he’s funny, he’s funny.  But he also shows that he can be taken seriously as a dramatic actor thanks to this movie too when he talks to Eli about everything he’s given up.  He tries to point out to Eli that he still has his life ahead of him and to not give up.  It’s only a momentary dramatic moment.  But even in that moment, Morgan shines as a dramatic actor.  It shows that even he can bring his own amount of heart to a story.  It would be interesting considering this, to see how he would do if he were to take a risk and branch out into more serious roles.

As funny and heartwarming as Morgan is throughout his time on camera, it’s the relationship between Eli and Penny that really gives Why Stop Now the heart and laughs that viewers will appreciate and enjoy most of all.  It’s obvious that Eli cares about Penny being his mother.  But he also sees that she seriously needs help.  Ironically enough, he needs his own help.  And even Penny points that out late in the movie in a conflict between the two.  Penny yells at Eli, pointing out his issues with alcohol.  But the thing of it is that it seems hinted that Eli’s problem with alcohol is a result of having to deal with his mother and sister.  Despite that, audiences are left with a warm feeling as Eli and his mother finally come to terms with everything and with each other by the story’s finale.  They are left knowing that the pair will be just fine, as will his sister.

Perhaps the main reason that the relationship between Eli and his mother works is the chemistry between Eisenberg and Leo.  Audiences will note in the movie’s “behind-the-scenes featurette how much the cast enjoyed working together.  While the movie doesn’t necessarily need bonus features to make it any better, viewers will enjoy hearing the cast’s take on their parts and on the story as a whole.  There is no commentary directly connected to the main feature.  But again, as enjoyable and original as the story is, it doesn’t really need that either, to make the overall viewing experience any better.  The story itself is really all audiences need in this movie.  It is simply put, a story that anyone looking for an original script will enjoy.  It is available now in stores and online on DVD and Blu-ray.

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