Lightyear Entertainment To Release New Historical Drama This Month

Courtesy: Lightyear Entertainment

Movies based on actual events are and have been big business for the movie industry for decades, and now Lightyear Entertainment will release a new movie based on a key period in Orson Welles’ life later this month.

Voodoo Macbeth is scheduled for release Jan. 17 through Lightyear Entertainment. The movie focuses on Welles’ work with the Harlem Negro Theater Unit on its 1936 presentation of Shakespeare’s timeless drama, Macbeth. The group’s rendition of the play moved the setting from Scotland to Haiti and used Caribbean voodoo in place of witchcraft used in the original play.

The group’s performance of the play was not without controversy. Politicians called the play subversive. Residents of Harlem called the play exploitative and protested the play. Despite the controversy that swirled around it, the play ended up being successful, playing for 10 weeks at the Lafayette Theater before touring nationwide.

Welles was quoted in a 1982 interview as saying of his work with the troupe, “By all odds, my great success in my life was that play, because the opening night there were five blocks in which all traffic was stopped. You couldn’t get near the theater in Harlem. Everybody who was anybody in the black or white world was there, and the play ended there were so many curtain calls that they finally left the curtain open, and the audience came up on the stage to congratulate the actors. That was magical.”

A feature-length audio commentary with cast members Jewell Wilson Bridges and Inger Tudor, producers Miles Alva and Jason Phillips, script writer Erica Sutherlin, and director Zoe Salnave serves as the movie’s primary bonus content. Actual 1936 footage of the original play from the National Archives and Records Administration is also included as a bonus.

Voodoo Macbeth will release on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital platforms. Its run time is 108 minutes (one hour 48 minutes). The movie will retail for msrp of $24.95 on Blu-ray, $19.95 on DVD, and $12.95 on digital platforms. A trailer for the movie is streaming here.

More information on this and other titles from Lightyear Entertainment is available at:




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MPI Media Group Releasing Classic Sitcom Series Set Just In Time For Halloween

Courtesy:  mpi media group

Courtesy: mpi media group

On October 30th, 1938 Orson Welles and the members of the Mercury Theatre sent America into a nationwide panic with their broadcast of The War of the Worlds. Almost twenty-five years later, CBS introduced an E.T. of another kind to the world when it premiered the classic sitcom My Favorite Martian. The series ran for three seasons on the once powerhouse network from 1963 – 1966. Since then the series has gone on to see all three seasons in their own standalone sets both on VHS and DVD. It has also been re-made into an animated series and a big screen feature starring Christopher Lloyd (Back To The Future 1 – 3, Cyberchase, Who Framed Roger Rabbit) and Jeff Daniels (Tron, Tron: Legacy, The Big Lebowski). It has even been nominated for three TV Land awards. But despite its longevity and fame the series has never seen the light of day in one complete series set. That is until now.

Next month mpi media group will release My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series on DVD. The fifteen-disc box set will be released in stores and online on Tuesday, October 20th. The classic buddy comedy sitcom starred Ray Walston (Picket Fences, The Sting, Fast Times at Ridgemont High) as the loveable alien Uncle Martin and Bill Bixby (The Incredible Hulk, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father–TV series, The Magician–TV series) as Tim O’Hara, Martin’s “nephew.” Also along for the ride was Pamela Britton (D.O.A., Anchors Aweigh, Blondie–TV series) as Tim’s nosy landlady Mrs. Lorelei Brown. The series debuted as one of television’s top ten programs in its first season. Over the course of its short run, My Favorite Martian also featured a number of well-known guest stars. Among those stars were: Linda Evans, Marlo Thomas, Alan Hale Jr., Gavin MacLeod, Jamie Farr, Stafford Repp, Richard Deacon, Madge Blake, Bernie Kopell, Butch Patrick, Henry Gibson, Allan Melvin, Michael Constantine, Pat Priest, David White and Madge Redmond.

All 107 episodes featured in the series’ three-season run are featured in the upcoming box set along unedited and digitally re-mastered for the set. Also included in the collection will be a number of bonus features, which will be announced soon.

My Favorite Martian: The Complete Series will be available Tuesday, October 20th in stores and online exclusively on DVD. It will retail for MSRP of $99.98. It can be ordered online direct from mpi media group’s online store at More information on this and other titles from MPI is available online now at:



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War Of The Worlds Doc Is One Of PBS’ Best This Year

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

Halloween 2013 is only days away. And just in time for the country’s spookiest day of the year, PBS has released the latest documentary from its American Experience series, American Experience: War of the Worlds. Most audiences know the story of the Mercury Theater’s now infamous broadcast on October 30th, 1938. But how many people really know the full story behind the panic caused by Orson Welles and his cohorts? Now thanks to PBS, audiences will finally see the full story of what happened not just on that fateful night, but the long term fallout from it, too. The presentation, narrated by veteran actor Oliver Platt (Get Smart), shows how the story of that night didn’t end after Welles announced to audiences nationwide that they were just listening to a play. This is the most important part of what makes this documentary so successful. Just as interesting in this feature, is the fallout itself. It will leave audiences realizing the more things change, the more they stay the same. Making the documentary even more worth the watch is the inclusion of actual letters typed and written by listeners who both supported and criticized Wells and his cast mates. That and the actors that helped illustrate the view of those people put the finishing touch on this documentary. Everything assembled together, American Experience: War of the World proves to be a candidate to be one of the best documentaries of 2013.

The panic caused by Orson Welles’ broadcast of The War of the Worlds is the stuff of legend.  It’s a story told every year from one generation to the next.  But what isn’t told is the full effect of the broadcast.  American Experience: War of the Worlds tells that portion of the story.  It sets up the untold story with an in-depth introduction explaining what could have led up to the panic.  The story leading up to the panic is just as interesting as the story that everyone knows.  As Platt explains to audiences, a number of factors led to the panic.  The main factor in that night’s happenings was that audiences at the time had become so familiar with breaking news flashes on the war in Europe.  This was well before America entered the war.  Just as important in the entire story is that that night’s broadcast by the Mercury Theater was part of a larger programming block on CBS radio.  Allegedly, the result of this was that many audiences had not heard the early portion of the broadcast noting that the “Martian attack” was in fact just made up.  These two factors together ultimately led to the panic that would later ensue across the country that night.

The full story behind the Mercury Theater’s performance and the ensuing panic is just part of what audiences will find interesting in this program.  Just as interesting is the fallout from the performance.  Platt discusses how both officials with CBS and even the federal government got involved in the case.  Their kneejerk reactions happened because of the fact that people believed the broadcast.  There were injuries and even suicides in reaction to that belief.  That too, is something about which most audiences don’t know.  Looking back at this, one can’t help but think the more things change, the more they stay the same.   A clear comparison would be the reaction of the media and viewers to Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” at Superbowl XXXVIII.  It’s a different situation.  But the fact that the government would get involved as a result is the same reaction.  It’s something subtle.  But it’s just as important a part of the documentary as the feature’s primary focus.

Welles’ “Halloween prank” as many listeners called it (according to the letters, it was called much worse) and the overall reaction to the play was eye opening to say the least.  That is because the revelations made in this documentary are ones that few people have ever known about Welles’ now infamous radio broadcast.  The revelations are made even more eye opening thanks to the inclusion of actual letters written to CBS Radio, the Mercury Theater, and even to Welles himself in reaction to the play.  There are also newspaper articles used as visual aids to help move the story forward along with actors who portrayed some of Welles’ audience.  This is the crowning touch in this program.  The black and white video effect at first will fool audiences up to a point.  Even when audiences finally realize that the individuals are just actors, their segments are still as enjoyable an addition to the overall presentation as the newspaper articles and letters that were included.  They make the overall story that much more worth watching whether one is a media history buff or just a fan of Welles’ classic radio play.  American Experience: War of the Worlds will be available Tuesday, October 29th.  It can be ordered online at  More information on this and other programs in PBS’ American Experience series is available online at and  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Tiny Toon Adventures Vol. 3 Another Wonderful Piece Of TV Nostalgia

Courtesy:  Amblin Entertainment/Warner Brothers Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Amblin Entertainment/Warner Brothers Home Entertainment

The long wait is finally over, Toonsters.  Nearly four years have passed since audiences were offered their last dose of Tiny Toon Adventures episodes.  This past Tuesday, Warner Home Video released the long awaited third volume of shorts in its own two-disc set loaded with enough laughs, puns, sight gags, and pop culture references to make any classic cartoon fan happy.  Would it have been nice to have a full thirty to thirty-five episode collection as with the previous pair of collections?  Yes.  But something’s better than nothing, considering how long audiences have waited.  And this new set is something.  It boasts some of the show’s best episodes.  The episodes are just one part of what makes this collection so enjoyable.  The original hand-drawn animation will bring back that sense of nostalgia for lovers of classic cartoons, too.  And the use of some of the top voice talent in the industry then and now make for even more enjoyment.  Altogether, it makes for one more must have for any original Tiny Toon fan and even for any of today’s younger viewers.

Tiny Toon Adventures Vol. 3: Crazy Crew Rescues boasts some of the best episodes from this modern classic cartoon.  The show’s original audiences will love seeing classic episodes such as “Kon-Ducki” (which pays a little tribute to The Wizard of Oz and even The Bee Gees), “The Potty Years”, and its own take on the film noir classic, Sunset Boulevard in the episode, “Sepulveda Boulevard.”  There is also a fun episode titled, “Toon Physics” which explains the differences between real physical science and that of cartoons.  It isn’t the first cartoon to ever poke fun at the incredibility of cartoon physics.  But it’s still just as funny as others of its sort.  This episode features revered voice talent Maurice LaMarche (Futurama, The Simpsons, Animaniacs, Pinky & The Brain) as a spoof of legendary actor Orson Welles.  Instead of Welles, his character here is a whale named—you guessed it—Orson Whales (ba-dump-bump-bump).  This set also includes the “controversial” episode, “One Beer” in which Buster, Plucky, and Hampton show young audiences the dangers of drinking and driving.  Along those same lines, there is even an episode that teaches the importance of childhood literacy in “Why Dizzy Can’t Read.”  These are all just a handful of examples of what Tiny Toon Adventures Vol. 3: Crazy Crew Rescues has to offer both its original fans and their own kids.  Everybody will undoubtedly have their own favorites from this set.  And even with just two discs, this set boasts more than its share of great shorts.

The episodes alone make for loads of enjoyment for both the show’s now grown-up audience and for their own children.  Adding to the enjoyment of this set is the continued original hand drawn animation.  So much children’s programming today is not true animation.  It is in large part CG-based programming.  So unearthing this collection provides yet another reminder for older audiences of what real animation looks like. And it serves as an example for today’s younger audiences the importance of maintaining the classic art of actually drawing animation, rather than relying on technology for everything.  The only downside to the animation here is that it isn’t as clear as with the show’s previous releases.  It looks like the quality of the transfers with this set weren’t as solid as with the previous releases.  But it’s not that bad.  So while it does leave at least a little bit to be desired, it’s still nice to have this relic of a bygone era given new life.

The show’s original animation and its equally entertaining episodes make for so much enjoyment for audiences of all ages.  The cherry on top for not just this set but also the show as a whole is the inclusion of some of the top voice actors in the industry.  As already noted, veteran voice actor Maurice LaMarche is among the show’s ranks of well known actors.  Also in the cast are the likes of: Frank Welker (The Real Ghostbusters, Scooby Doo, etc.), Charlie Adler (Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, The Superhero Squad Show, etc.), Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons, Futurama), Cree Summer (The Cosby Show, A Different World, Codename: Kids Next Door) and Don Messick (Garfield & Friends, A Pup Named Scooby Doo, The Flintstones, etc.).  The chemistry between the cast was obvious throughout this new set of episodes, just as with the previous releases.  Whether for the general comedic timing or the interactions with each other, the voice cast of Tiny Toon Adventures was the perfect choice.  It was their interpretations of their characters that put the final touch on what was and still is today one of the best cartoons of the twentieth century.  Tiny Toon Adventures Vol. 3: Crazy Crew Rescues is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered online via the Warner Brothers store at

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