PBS Announces Release Date For “Finding Your Roots Season 2”

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS will release the second season of its hit celebrity-based historical series Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. this fall.

Officials with PBS announced this week that Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Season 2 will be released on Tuesday, December 16th.  Gates meets some of the country’s biggest names in the series and examines their ancestry in each hour-long episode.  In the series’ second season, Gates studies the ancestry of big names such as: Derek Jeter, Ben Affleck, Jessica Alba, Sting, Tina Fey, Sally Field, Stephen King, Nas, and many others.  In all, twenty-nine celebrities are featured throughout the course of Season Two.

Gates goes into even more depth with his guests in Season Two than was possible in the show’s premiere season. He studies his guests’ specific ethnic roots, cultural traditions, and the inner works of his guests’ families. New advancements in DNA testing even allows for study of genetic genealogy. The advancements allowed for revelations linked to questions of paternity, geographic origins of his guests’ ancestors, and even tribal Native America ancestry in other cases. It is all revealed over ten episodes spread across three discs.

Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Season Two will be available only on DVD Tuesday, December 16th. It will retail for MSRP of $39.99 and can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=46207086&cp=&sr=1&kw=finding+your+roots&origkw=Finding+your+roots&parentPage=search#Details. Audiences can access more information on the series, and watch videos from the show online now at:

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/finding-your-roots

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FindingYourRootsPBS

Twitter: http://twitter.com/henrylouisgates

 

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Paramount’s Latest Installment In The Jack Ryan Franchise Falls Flat

Courtesy:  Paramount Studios

Courtesy: Paramount Studios

2014 has not been a good year for movies.  As a matter of fact, one could argue that this year has been one of the worst years for movies in recent years.  Marvel and DC spent the summer trying hard to one-up the other on a bigger scale than ever before.  And both of Michael Bay’s big screen blockbusters failed to reach audiences in the way that had been hoped.  And the summer season wasn’t the only disappointing part of the year, either.  Paramount tried to make a hit with its latest installment in the Jack Ryan franchise in the form of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.  Sadly, even putting that movie at the start of the year didn’t help this largely disappointing, formulaic flick.  Compared to the big name films that filled out (and flopped) the summer movie season this year, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is not much better.  The most obvious of reasons for its failure is the fact that it’s not just a continuation of the late author Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan franchise, but that it is yet another complete re-working of that franchise.  That is nothing new from the Jack Ryan franchise.  Another reason that this movie fails is its writing.  Rather than paying homage to the stylistic approach of previous Jack Ryan films, this one is more of a formulaic action flick than one with the substance of say The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games or Clear and Present Danger.  The one positive to the whole thing is believe it or not the acting on the part of veteran actor Kevin Costner.  That’s the biggest surprise of all considering how overrated he and the movies in which he has starred throughout his career have proven to be over the years.  It’s the one shining light in a movie that does absolutely nothing to honor the legacy of Tom Clancy’s one great franchise.  Had this movie been any other movie and not part of the Jack Ryan franchise, it might have worked.  But sadly that wasn’t the case.  And as a result, it will ultimately end up becoming a largely forgettable film.

When Paramount Studios decided to back Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, the studio’s heads had to have known that this movie was a major gamble.  The last time that audiences heard from Jack Ryan was in 2002’s largely forgettable film The Sum Of All Fears.  That movie failed for many of the same reasons that this latest installment in the Jack Ryan franchise failed, too. The primary reason for that failure is the fact that it is obviously set on a completely different timeline than the franchise’s previous installments—The Hunt For Red October, Patriot Games, and Clear and Present Danger.  Those that remember that far back will recall that according to the original canon, Ryan was injured in a  helicopter accident in Vietnam or Korea.  This movie sees Jack being injured after his chopper was shot down in Afghanistan.  And the movie itself is set not long after the events of September 11th, 2001.  So right from the beginning, audiences are introduced to a story that is set on yet another completely different time line.  At least the transition between the original Jack Ryan movies (The Sum of All Fears not included) was believable.  This isn’t the first time that lead actor Chris Pine has starred in a reboot, either, sadly enough, either.  Anyone remember the recently rebooted Star Trek franchise?

The fact that Paramount has not only rebooted the Jack Ryan franchise, but put it on a completely different timeline is bad enough.  But that’s only the beginning of the problems for this movie.  Things get even worse when taking into consideration the movie’s script.  This movie’s script hardly echoes the quality scripts presented in the original movies in the Jack Ryan franchise.  It is a formulaic action flick rife with car chases, explosions, the standard hero and villain roles, and equally standard chase to save the damsel in distress.  The damsel in question is Ryan’s love interest Dr. Cathy Muller, played well enough by Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean 1 – 3).  It’s all set against a story that is anything but original.  As a matter of fact, it lifts liberally from some all too familiar events from the early 1990s.  The original Jack Ryan movies didn’t need to rely on actual events to be enjoyable.  The people behind their scripts crafted stories that were both original and enjoyable all in one.  This movie sadly doesn’t do that.  The result is yet again a story that will in the long run be anything but memorable.

For all of the negatives that weigh down Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, there is at least one positive to the whole thing, albeit a small positive.  But good is good, right? The one positive to the entire presentation is the work of veteran actor Kevin Costner.  Those that are familiar with Seth McFarlane’s hit animated Fox sitcom Family Guy will recall the joke asking “How does he keep getting work?”  The joke is fully substantiated considering Costner’s own acting and the movies in which he has starred throughout his career.  In this critic’s own view, the only good movie in which Kevin Costner has ever starred was Field of Dreams (1989).  His acting was good.  And the story was just as good.  Other than that, he hasn’t really landed a memorable role or starred in a memorable movie.  In the case of this movie, Kostner takes a back seat to the much younger Pine.  He doesn’t try to hog the screen as some sort of mentor or anything to that extent.  He is just someone older with more experience.  He passes on some knowledge to Pine’s younger Ryan at one point.  Other than that, he is largely a supporting character.  And he does quite well in that role, too. He is actually believable in that role, interestingly enough.  That being said, his acting is about the only thing to which audiences have to be excited in this movie.  Other than that, it is mostly a forgettable movie.

When Paramount Studios decided last year to release Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit at the back end of the annual winter movie season, the studio’s hopes were obviously that it would bring in better numbers, not being jumbled in with the far too overcrowded summer blockbuster season.  Sadly, even now in its home release, audiences will see that no matter when the movie was released, it was doomed to failure.  It could be argued that in examining the movie’s script, it is little more than a fictionalized and modernized story “based on actual events.”  That’s especially the case for those that remember certain events from the early 1990s.  The fact that the movie places Jack Ryan in a wholly different timeline once again takes away from its enjoyment even more.  Even the star power of veteran actor Kevin Costner couldn’t help the movie even though he actually succeeded in his supporting role.   Keira Knightley does very little to help the story, either.  Her character Dr. Cathy Muller comes across as little more than the helpless love interest to Pine’s Jack.  All things considered, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit proves to be one more in a long line of prequels, sequels, and reboots churned out this year that will ultimately end up being forgotten amid that mass of other equally forgettable  films.  Here’s to hoping that should audiences ever see any new adventures of Jack Ryan, Paramount and company will get it right next time.

James, Williams, Heat Lead The Night At Annual ESPYs Awards

Courtesy: ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Another year, another big night for the ESPYS.  LeBron James and his team mates with the Miami heat were some of the big winners at ESPN’s annual sports awards show.  Also on the list of the year’s big winners were Serena Williams and Michael Phelps.  James led the pack with three ESPY awards.  And his team mates took home the award in the “Best Team” category for the second consecutive year.  James’ awards were in the categories of: “Best Championship Performance”, “Best NBA Player”, and “Best Male Athlete.”  Just as his team mates won their award for the second consecutive year, so did James take home the same awards personally for the second consecutive year, too.  Last night’s win brings James’ ESPY total to nine awards over the course of his career. 

Serena Williams took home two awards on the night.  She won in the categories of “Best Female Athlete” and “Best Best Female Tennis Player.”

Game Six of the NBA Championship finals won the award in the “Best Game” category.  It was in that game that Ray Allen forced the game into overtime with a game-tying three-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in the game.  The Heat went on to win the game and the 2013 NBA Championship.

San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick might not have won the big game this year.  But he did win at the ESPYs.  He took home the award in the “Best Breakout Athlete.”  Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby won in the category of “Best NHL Player.”  The award comes on the heels of a season that saw Crosby score fifteen goals and forty-one assists over the course of the regular season.  And from the world of Major League Baseball, Detroit Tigers player and triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera brought home the award for “Best MLB Player.”  Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps won the award for “Best Record-Breaking Performance.”  He won the award for his record setting the all-time record for most Olympic Medals at a total of twenty-two medals.  He also won this award in 2009. 

In one of the night’s more emotional moments, Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts took home the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.  Roberts, who also played a direct hand in the new ESPN/espnW film series, Nine for IX, was one of ESPN’s first female sports anchors in the 1990s.  Roberts has faced both cancer and MDS yet never wavered in her fight against either life-threatening illness.  The award was presented to Roberts by LeBron James. 

Another of the night’s more emotional moments came in the presentation of the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.  The award was given to the father and son team of Dick and Rick Hoyt.  The pair has competed together in over one thousand endurance events including thirty-one Boston Marathons.  The younger of the duo, Rick Hoyt, is 51-years old.  He was born with cerebral palsy.  The condition left him unable to use his hands and legs.  His father, 73-year old Dick Hoyt, pushes his son in a custom-made running chair during races including 5Ks, 10Ks, marathons and triathlons.  The award was given to the duo by actor Ben Affleck. 

Among some of the nights other notable winners were:  Rick Pitino (Best Coach/Manager), Candace Parker (Best WNBA Player), Floyd Mayweather (Best Fighter), Missy Franklin (Best Female Olympian), Usain Bolt (Best International Athlete) and Thierry Henry (Best MLS Player).  A full list of the night’s winners is available below.

SPECIAL AWARDS

 

ARTHUR ASHE COURAGE AWARD: Robin Roberts

JIMMY V AWARD FOR PERSEVERANCE: Dick and Rick Hoyt

 

BEST IN SPORT

 

BEST FEMALE ATHLETE: Serena Williams

BEST MALE ATHLETE: LeBron James

BEST FEMALE OLYMPIAN: Missy Franklin

BEST MALE OLYMPIAN: Michael Phelps

BEST MOMENT: Jack Hoffman TD at Nebraska spring game

BEST TEAM: Miami Heat

BEST COMEBACK: Adrian Peterson

BEST COACH/MANAGER: Rick Pitino

BEST GAME: Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs, Game 6 NBA Finals

BEST CHAMPIONSHIP PERFORMANCE: LeBron James, NBA Finals

BEST PLAY:

BEST UPSET: 15-Seed Florida Gulf Coast over 2-Seed Georgetown

BEST BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETE: Colin Kaepernick

BEST RECORD-BREAKING PERFORMANCE: Michael Phelps 22 Olympic medals

BEST MALE COLLEGE ATHLETE: Johnny Manziel

BEST FEMALE COLLEGE ATHLETE: Brittney Griner

BEST MALE ATHLETE WITH A DISABILITY: Jeremy Campbell

BEST FEMALE ATHLETE WITH A DISABILITY: Jessica Long

 

INDIVIDUAL SPORTS

 

BEST MLB PLAYER: Miguel Cabrera

BEST NBA PLAYER: LeBron James

BEST WNBA PLAYER: Candace Parker

BEST NFL PLAYER: Adrian Peterson

BEST NHL PLAYER: Sidney Crosby

BEST MLS PLAYER: Thierry Henry

BEST MALE ACTION SPORT ATHLETE: Nyjah Huston

BEST FEMALE ACTION SPORT ATHLETE: Stephanie Gilmore

BEST BOWLER: Pete Weber

BEST DRIVER: Ryan Hunter-Reay

BEST FIGHTER: Floyd Mayweather

BEST MALE GOLFER: Tiger Woods

BEST FEMALE GOLFER: Stacey Lewis

BEST INTERNATIONAL ATHLETE: Usain Bolt

BEST JOCKEY: Joel Rosario

BEST MALE TENNIS PLAYER: Novak Djokovic

BEST FEMALE TENNIS PLAYER: Serena Williams

 

SPONSORED AWARD

 

CAPITAL ONE CUP: North Carolina Women’s Athletics and UCLA Men’s Athletics

 

To find out more about the night’s events, fans can go online to the official ESPN website, http://www.espn.com or its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/ESPN and “Like” it.

 

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.