Audiences Will Be “Thankful” They Bought ‘Thank You, Mister Rogers’

Courtesy: Sugar Mountain PR

Fred Rogers was and is one of the most important figures in the modern history of American television, and Americans’ lives in general.  It was through his program, which featured so many invaluable life lessons and unforgettable songs.  He might not have been Catholic, but the ordained Presbyterian minister still worked his own great miracles during his life and career.  Now thanks to independent entertainment firm Act IV Music, some of that music and those lessons have been given new life in the brand new compilation record Thank You, Mister Rogers.  The 13-song record features new arrangements of some of the songs that Rogers and his staff composed for his timeless series Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood that are just as enjoyable as their source material.  Those songs and their arrangements are both key in their own right to the whole of this compilation and each will receive its own attention here.  The album’s sequencing is important to its presentation, too.  When it is considered along with the songs and their arrangements, the whole of the noted elements makes Thank You, Mister Rogers a wonderful tribute to the life and legacy of a wonderful man.

Act IV Music’s new tribute to Fred Rogers and his music is a recording that listeners of all ages will enjoy.  That is due in no small part to the songs themselves.  Every one of the 13 songs that make up the record’s body are works that were featured in PBS’ timeless and beloved series Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.  ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor’ and ‘It’s Such A Good Feeling,’ the songs that Rogers sang to open and close the show in every episode are here.  So are ‘Many Ways To Say I Love You,’ ‘Some Things I Don’t Understand’ and ‘Please Don’t Think It’s Funny’ among so many others.  The songs are performed by some very well-known names, adding to the album’s appeal.  Famed singers Vanessa Williams and Kellie Pickler are joined by the likes of TV personality Tom Bergeron (whose performance of ‘Some Things I Don’t Understand’ is one of the record’s most surprisingly enjoyable moments), Jon Secada, Micky Dolenz and Rita Wilson (the wife of legendary actor Tom Hanks) as well as many other figures for the performances.  That such big names were willing to come on board for this project and to perform such beloved songs says a lot about this compilation.  The songs and their performers are collectively key to the whole of Thank You, Mister Rogers.  They are only a portion of the compilation’s appeal.  The arrangements featured in the recording play their own pivotal part to its whole.

The arrangements featured throughout the course of this record are important to note because they do stay true to their source material in large part.  At the same time though, they also give the songs their own new identity in the process.  In other words, they give audiences a touch of something old and something new at the same time.  Case in point is Pickler’s take of ‘It’s Such A Good Feeling.’  Instead of keeping the song in its original form, Pickler took the song a step up, giving it more of a pop style work with a certain mainstream sensibility.  On top of that, Rogers’ famous lines in which he sings, “I’ll be back/When the day is new/And I’ll have more ideas for you/And you’ll have things you’ll want to talk about/I will too” are replaced here with Pickler singing instead, “I’m glad we’re friends.”  It comes across as surprising at first listen, but grows on audiences with each listener.  That combination makes this take of the timeless work more than just another song from a children’s series, but almost a viable mainstream pop song.  Williams’ vocal delivery n ‘Many Ways To Say I Love You’ meanwhile is so angelic.  It works perfectly with the song’s gentle lullaby-style arrangement, making the song’s impact such that it will make even the most emotionally strong person get choked up.  Bergeron’s performance in ‘Some Things I Don’t Understand’ does its own good job on this song is a bit more upbeat than Rogers’ take, yet doesn’t take away from that original by any means.  If anything, it builds on Rogers’ version with its upbeat take and actually does a very good job of sounding and feeling like it is coming from the vantage point of a child.  Some of the “whys” may even leave older listeners smiling and laughing slightly.  The Cowsills’ take on the theme song of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood is yet another example of the importance of the compilation’s arrangements.  Yet again, audiences get here a song that stays mostly true to its source material, but instead of just leaving it as is, gives the song a bit of a kick, upping the tempo and making it slightly more poppy.  The harmonies in the vocals add their own touch to the song’s whole.  Between these arrangements and the compilation’s others, the whole of the compositions featured in this record does more than its share to make the recording enjoyable.  When the arrangements are coupled with the song selections and their featured performers, the end result is a work that is that much more worth adding to any family’s home music library.  The noted elements are not the record’s only notable elements either.  Its overall sequencing is just as important as its content.

The sequencing of Thank You, Mr. Rogers is important to note because of the focus that it shows in making sure the record’s energy keeps listeners engaged and entertained.  As noted, The Cowsills’ take of Won’t You Be My Neighbor’ is a slightly more upbeat take of the song than Mr. Rogers’ own original.  It’s not some poppy type of work though.  There is a certain reserved nature to the arrangement, but it is still slightly more upbeat than Rogers’ version of the song.  The energy picks up more from there in the Afro-Cuban arrangement of ‘You Can Never Go Down The Drain’ before pulling back dramatically in ‘Sometimes People Are Good.’  The retro feel of ‘Perfectly Beautiful Day’ picks the record’s energy back up slightly while also transporting listeners back to the 1960s and 70s.  That is something that older listeners will appreciate, that psychedelic sound here.  Immediately after that song, the record’s energy pulls back again in ‘Many Ways To Say I Love You.’  Of course that lullaby gives way to a slightly more relaxed and smooth vibe in ‘Some Things I Don’t Understand.’  ‘This is My Home,’ which immediately follows ‘Some Things I Don’t Understand’ pulls back the album’s energy again before giving way to the more upbeat funk-style arrangement of ‘Let’s Be together Today,’ again changing the record’s feel.  The up-and-down of the album’s energies continues from this point on to its finale, the ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas-esque ‘Thank You For Being You,’ which closes out the record with combined talents of all of the compilation’s featured artists. Simply put, from beginning to end, the album’s energies never remain the same from one song to the next.  They change just enough from one work to the next to make sure they keep listeners engaged and entertained in this facet just as much as the songs and their arrangements do.  Keeping all of this in mind, the thought and time put into the record’s sequencing, the work putting into the song selection and the artist selection makes the record in whole a fitting tribute to the life and legacy of Fred Rogers.

Act IV Music’s new Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood musical compilation Thank You, Mr. Rogers is a work that will appeal to listeners of all ages.  It will take older listeners back to a better time while introducing a new generation to the greatness that was the music of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.  That is proven in part through the songs featured in the compilation.  The artists who perform the songs add even more interest to the record, as does the record’s sequencing.  Each item examined here is key in its own way to the whole of Thank You, Mr. Rogers.  All things considered, they make this compilation a presentation that listeners will themselves be thankful they added to their home music libraries.  More information on Mr. Rogers-related titles is available online at:









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Shout! Factory’s ‘Dragnet’ Re-Issue Is Another Welcome Addition To Company’s Shout! Select Series

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Universal Pictures

When Jack Webb’s timeless cop action drama series Dragnet first aired Dec. 16, 1951, likely no one at the time thought it would be a timeless franchise that would go on to transcend generations of audiences.  Now 67 years later, it has become one of the most beloved and important properties in the worlds of television and movies.  That is proven as the series would go on to have its own extensive life on television – a life which is still very vibrant through and even turned into a big screen adaptation in 1987 in the form of Universal Pictures’ Dragnet.  The movie, which flopped in its opening weekend – according to information from Internet Movie Database (IMDB), it grossed $10.5 million, just over half of its $20 million budget – did end up going on to success both domestically and globally, ultimately grossing $53 million nationwide and more than $66 million overseas before ending its theatrical run.  Now more than 31 years after it made its initial debut, the movie – which has since gone on to be a cult favorite – has seen the light of day once again thanks to Shout! Factory.  The home entertainment company re-issued the modern classic on Blu-ray Oct. 30 as part of its ongoing Shout! Select series.  This latest re-issue is an overall welcome new addition to that series, too.  This statement is supported in part through the story’s writing.  This will be discussed shortly.  The bonus material included with the movie’s new re-issue strengthens that foundation even more.  It will be discussed a little later.  The movie’s average price range rounds out its most important elements.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Dragnet’s re-issue.  All things considered, the whole of Dragnet makes this re-issue another welcome addition to Shout! Factory’s Shout! Select series and to the library of any classic movie buff.

Shout! Factory’s new Blu-ray re-issue of Universal Pictures’ 1987 cinematic adaptation of Jack Webb’s Dragnet franchise is another good addition to the Shout! Select series.  It is just as welcome in the libraries of any of the movie’s fans.  That is proven in part through the movie’s writing. The script finds Joe Friday’s nephew (played here by Dan Akroyd, and also named Joe) continuing in his uncle’s footsteps.  He is joined in this adventure by Pep Streebek (Tom Hanks – The Polar Express, Philadelphia, The Burbs).  This in itself is a tribute to the radio and television series that preceded this movie, as Friday notes his previous partners, and even includes a pack of Chesterfield cigarettes and a picture of Webb.  Where Webb’s original radio and TV series were serious, action-packed presentations, this incarnation has a much more light-hearted feel, yet does not sacrifice the action of those series.  The use of an evil cult that aims to take over the city throws back maybe not so much to the old Dragnet radio and TV series, but to old-time radio and TV in general.  To that it, it actually generates its own welcome sense of nostalgia.  The balance of the comedic elements to the action elements is a surprisingly welcome addition to the writing.  That is not to say that the serious side of Dragnet, which is more prevalent in the classic TV and movie series, is not welcome.  As a matter of fact, there is some of that seriousness here, but the more light-hearted approach set alongside that seriousness makes for a good balance of hard and soft at the same time.  The writing also is proven positive in the movie’s pacing.  From start to finish, the script never once loses focus or momentum, ensuring even more, viewers’ engagement and entertainment.  Between this factor, the balance of the script’s comedic and serious elements and the homage paid both to the original Dragnet series (and other classic radio and TV dramas), audiences get in the writing, an element that in whole, that forms a solid foundation for the movie’s new presentation.  While the combined writing elements go a long way toward making Dragnet engaging and enjoyable, that foundation is strengthened even more through the bonus content included with the movie’s presentation.

The bonus content featured with Dragnet’s new re-issue is important to note because of the insight and entertainment that it adds to the movie’s overall presentation.  The new audio commentary from famed pop culture historian Russell Dyball is one item that supports that statement. Dyball’s commentary is loaded with plenty of interesting tidbits throughout the story.  He shares discussions early on, of a former Los Angeles Police Chief.  He also offers commentary about Friday reciting LAPD dress code, noting that it is factual, as Friday and Streebek first meet, which is interesting in its own right.  As the story progresses, Dyball, who has provided commentary for various other movies’ home releases, also shares commentary about workings behind the camera connected to director Tom Mankiewicz and Akroyd, as well as notes of Akroyd’s refusal to use teleprompters, unlike that of Webb in the original series, the joke of Orange County residents’ conservative nature and that tie to Connie’s character and the subtlety of Friday’s transition from a grey suit to a brown suit.  That commentary is intriguing in its own right.  Between all of this and so much more that Dyball discusses over the course of the movie’s nearly two-hour run time (one hour, 46 minutes to be exact), audiences get so much to appreciate from that commentary.  It is yet another way in which bonus material proves to be just as important to a movie’s home release as the movie itself.  If any one thing can be said to the negative of Dyball’s commentary, it is that at times, Dyball comes across as he is reading from his own script than actually getting into the movie.  That is inferred through his delivery.  Of course at other times, he does seem to be involved in the movie, so maybe those other moments in which he seems disconnected are just misinterpretations.  Keeping this in mind, audiences will agree that Dyball’s commentary is, in the end, a crucial addition to the movie’s whole.

Dyball’s commentary is just one of the key bonuses included with Dragnet’s new re-issue.  The previously released bonus featurette “Just The Facts!: A Promotional Look At Dragnet With Dan Akroyd and Tom Hanks, adds even more for audiences to appreciate.  Given that this roughly 45-minute featurette (probably stretched to an hour for television at the time) was clearly released with the movie to help its ticket sales, many of today’s audiences likely have not seen it, or have not seen it in many years.  To that end, it is its own crucial addition to the presentation.  Audiences learn through the featurette, which is in fact hosted by Hanks and Akroyd, quite a bit of interesting information.  Viewers learn that Akroyd and Hanks were two very different types of actors off-screen for starters.  It is revealed that Akroyd apparently was very much the method actor, using old Jack Webb tapes between takes to get into the role of Friday’s nephew, while Hanks was more of an “act-as-you-go type of actor.  Additionally, viewers learn quite a bit about Webb the man, the director and the actor through this presentation.  It is revealed that Webb had a wonderful sense of humor as a person, but as a director, he was very strict.  According to the information in the featurette, Webb took very few takes and allowed for the use of very few suits by himself and his cast mates, thus cutting costs.  Another interesting note in this featurette is the respect that Webb had for the Los Angeles Police Department, and in turn the respect that the agency had for him.  There was so much respect in both directions, that the LAPD even held a very special memorial for Webb upon his untimely death in 1959 from a heart attack.  As if all  of this is not enough, the featurette also delves into the history of Dragnet’s music, adding even more interest for audiences.  Add in brief discussions comparing the original Dragnet series to the 1987 movie in terms of dialogue and action, talks on the shows created through Webb’s Mark VIII Productions Studio and more, and the whole of this featurette strengthens the overall presentation of Dragnet’s even more.

The interview with co-star Alexandra Paul adds a little bit more to the experience.  She notes fondly her interactions with Hanks and Akroyd on-set, noting that both men were very wonderful figures.  She laughs happily as she recalls Akroyd’s gentlemanly nature both on and off-screen, and Hanks’ more happy-go-lucky yet professional manner.  It shows even more the distinctly different personalities that the actors brought to the set, and how it played into their on-screen chemistry.  Paul also offers an interesting note about her own innocence coming into the movie, and how that played into her portrayal of Connie that viewers will appreciate learning.  That revelation indeed succeeds in making for more appreciation for Paul’s acting.  Additionally, Paul also laughs as she recalls that prior to her interview, which was recorded especially for the movie’s Blu-ray re-issue, she had seen the movie only once prior to her review, and that was in its debut way back in 1987.  She never says if that avoidance of the movie was intentional, which in itself creates plenty of discussion.  When all of these discussions are considered along with the information shared in Dyball’s commentary and the information shared in the vintage featurette, it becomes fully evident why the bonus content included with Dragnet’s new Blu-ray re-issue is so important to the movie’s overall presentation.  It strengthens the Blu-ray’s presentation quite a bit.  The bonus material is not the last of the Blu-ray’s most important elements.  The movie’s average price point rounds out those elements.

The average price point of Dragnet’s new Blu-ray re-issue is $24.99.  that price is found using prices from Shout! Factory’s store, Amazon and Walmart.  The movie’s new Blu-ray re-issue is not listed at the sites of Target, Best Buy, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble at the time of this review.  Considering just the amount of entertainment and insight that audiences get just through the bonus material included in Dragnet’s new Blu-ray re-issue, that price point is relatively affordable.  It gives audiences almost three hours – if not more – of entertainment and engagement when considered along with all of the entertainment and insight offered through the movie itself.  When all of this is considered together, audiences will agree that the Blu-ray’s affordable pricing and the entertainment and engagement offered throughout this Blu-ray makes the package in whole one that classic movie buffs and Dragnet fans alike will agree is a wonderful new addition to Shout! Factory’s Shout! Select series, and to any movie lover’s library.

Shout! Factory’s recent addition of Dragnet to its ongoing Shout! Select series is a wonderful new addition to that series.  Classic movie buffs and fans of the movie (and maybe even fans of the original TV and radio series) will agree to that, especially after watching the movie – some for the first time and others for the first time again.  The movie pays a great homage to its source material with its script and acting while the bonus content gives viewers even more to appreciate.  The average price point certainly will not break anyone’s bank, either.  Each item is important in its own right to the whole of Dragnet’s new Blu-ray presentation.  All things considered, they make this re-issue another welcome addition to Shout! Factory’s Shout! Select series and to any viewer’s home movie library.  It is available now.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:










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Shout! Factory Announces ‘Dragnet’ Re-Issue Release Date

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Universal Pictures

Shout! Factory is adding another modern classic flick to its Shout! Select series.

The company announced this week that it will release Dragnet on Oct. 30 on Blu-ray.  Originally released June 26, 1987 via Universal Pictures, the movie was an adaptation of the classic TV series, which rose to popularity in the 1950s and again in the ’60s. Webb (Dragnet, Adam-12Emergency!) starred as Sgt. Joe Friday in both series.  He was joined by Ben Alexander (Scotty of the ScoutsFlirtationAll Quiet on the Western Front) as Officer Frank Smith in the series’ initial run, and by Harry Morgan (M.A.S.H.The Cat From Outer SpaceInheriti The Wind) as Bill Gannon in its 1960s run.

The big-screen adaptation saw Dan Akroyd (Ghosbusters 1-2The Blues BrothersThe Blues Brothers 2000) filling Webb’s shoes as Sgt. Friday while Tom Hanks (Toy Story 1-3PhiladelphiaThe Polar Express) takes on the part of Friday’s latest partner, Officer Pep Streebek. The odd couple style story finds the two men working to solve a series of robberies and bizarre ritual-style murders that ultimately leads to a much bigger story involving a group that is working to undermine all authority in Los Angeles.

Morgan reprises his role of Bill Gannon in this update on the TV series.  He is joined by co-stars Christopher Plummer (A Beautiful MindBeginnersAll The Money in the World), Dabney Coleman (WarGamesYou’ve Got MailStuart Little) and Alexandra Paul (ChristineSpy HardThe B Team.

Speaking of Alexandra Paul, included in the movie’s forthcoming Blu-ray re-issue is an interview with her as a brand new addition.  The movie also includes a feature-length audio commentary from pop culture historian Russell Dyball.  The full list of the movie’s bonus material is noted below.  It can be pre-ordered online now via Shout! Factory’s online store.  The collector’s edition will ship two weeks early and will include a free 18X24 poster featuring new artwork from the movie.

Special Features:
  • NEW “A Quiet Evening in the Company of Connie Swail”: An Interview With Co-Star Alexandra Paul
  • NEW Audio Commentary with Pop Culture Historian Russell Dyball
  • “Just the Facts!”: A Promotional Look at Dragnet with Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks
  • Original Theatrical Trailers & Promos
  • Photo Gallery

More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:






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The Sixties Is A Must See For Any Real History Buff

Courtesy: CNN/PBS/Fremantle Media International/Herzog & Co./Playtone

Courtesy: CNN/PBS/Fremantle Media International/Herzog & Co./Playtone

Earlier this year, PBS and CNN teamed up to release CNN’s 2014 documentary The Sixties on DVD. This latest trip back in time is not the first time that PBS has taken viewers back to America’s most tumultuous and transformative era. It is however the most in-depth look at the era that PBS’ viewers have gotten to date. That depth lies at the center of the series’ success and its overall enjoyment. The depth in question is provided by the interviews and general material covered within each segment. Making this presentation just as enjoyable is that segmentation. Rather than just trying to jam everything into one continuous stream of consciousness sort of presentation as many other outlets do, CNN has shortened the whole of the program, thus shortening it into ten roughly forty-five to fifty minute segments. This better ensures audiences’ engagement from beginning to end. That coupled with each segment’s pacing ensures even more that audiences will remain engaged from one segment to the next and might even lead viewers to want to remain engaged. Whether for the material covered, for the segmentation of the series in whole or for the pacing of each segment, the whole of these elements together shows The Sixties to be one more of this year’s best new documentaries.

The Sixties is one of this year’s best new documentaries hands down. It is not the first time that PBS has delved into what was one of America’s most tumultuous and transformative eras. But it is the most in-depth look at that era that the network’s viewers have gotten yet, even with the documentary being originally aired on CNN last year. It is that depth that lies at the center of the series’ success. The depth in question is provided by a variety of interviews and vintage footage that was originally recorded during the course of the presented events. Even more specifically, the interviewees featured within each segment are not just random celebrities and academics. They were people who were directly linked to the events in question. For instance, the series’ final segment “Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘N’ Roll” features commentary from Jefferson Airplane member Grace Slick, Graham Nash of CSN, and famed music critic David Wild among others to discuss the cultural changes of the 60s and how they were being reflected within the music industry and back out amongst those subcultures that were linked to the changes (I.E. hippies, etc). There is also vintage footage of folk legend Joan Baez discussing politics and Jerry Garcia discussing the role of the Grateful Dead (in his younger days) in the world in comparison to the other bands and artists at the time. In “The Space Race,” audiences hear from Glynn Lunney, who was at the time head of the Gemini and Apollo missions, NASA administrator Charles Bolden, and NASA astronaut Mike Massimino among others. Their knowledge and experience within the U.S.’ space program throughout its history makes this segment all the richer and engrossing. They talk about the role that American pride played in the space race, President Johnson’s role in the space race and much more with the end result being yet another example of the series’ content playing an integral role in its success and enjoyment. Audiences even hear in the series’ opening segment “Television Comes of Age” from famed television personality Dick Cavett, Everybody Loves Raymond executive producer Phil Rosenthal, and veteran actress Sally Field among many other notable figures on the role of television in the 1960s from the good to the bad and the downright ugly. It’s interesting to really discover the tight connection that television had on America at the time and vice versa. This is especially the case when examining the role of television in America today. The material presented here is just as in-depth as the series’ other segments and shows just as much why once again the presented material is so important to the overall success and enjoyment of The Sixties. Whether for these segments, the segment centered on The Vietnam War, which reveals that the impact of the war weighed heavily on Johnson during his one term in office, or for the series’ other segments, the material presented throughout each segment via interviews and vintage footage presents The Sixties as one of the most in-depth and insightful pieces ever composed about America’s most influential eras.

The material that is presented through each of The Sixties’ segments proves it to be in the long run one of the most in-depth and insightful pieces crafted yet on what is one of the most important eras in America’s history. That is thanks to interviews with those directly linked to each segment and vintage footage that ties everything together. Of course as important as that element is to the whole of the presentation, it is only one part of what makes The Sixties worth the watch. The fact that it has been separated out into ten standalone segments adds to its success and enjoyment. This seems elementary. But the reality of the matter is that there are some specials and documentaries out there that try to cram everything into one long stream of consciousness sort of presentation, expecting to keep viewers’ attention along the way. CNN didn’t do that here. Each of the series’ ten segments clocks in at roughly fifty-one minutes each. That is about the same length of time as most episodes of PBS’ hit series. What’s more each segment even includes the bumps used to go to and come back from commercial breaks. This helps keep viewers engaged as it breaks up each segment within themselves, thus allowing viewers to take a quick mental break rather than feeling like they have to constantly keep up with everything being discussed. Having those quick breaks and relatively standard run times within each segment, audiences will be more inclined to remain engaged from one segment to the next. Being more inclined to remain engaged, audiences will in turn find themselves taking in the breadth of material presented within each segment and in turn experience for themselves the importance of said material in the whole of The Sixties as well as the segmentation of each segment.

The amount of information provided across the ten episodes that make up The Sixties and the separation of the episodes together makes this documentary a presentation that any and every history buff will appreciate. By themselves, both elements easily make the argument for this documentary series’ place on any critic’s list of the year’s best new documentaries. While both elements play their own important role in the success and enjoyment of The Sixties, the pacing of each segment should also be noted. Given that each segment runs roughly fifty-one minutes in length that offers plenty of room for lots of information. It also makes for plenty of room to add too much information. Luckily for audiences, those behind this series didn’t go that route. Each segment is expertly timed out, spending just enough time on each subject that makes up each segment. Viewers won’t be left feeling like they have to go back and watch one segment or another over again. The end result here is a greater understanding and in turn appreciation for the material presented throughout the course of the series. That understanding and appreciation will lead viewers to agree that The Sixties is well-deserving of a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new documentaries.

The Sixties is one of this year’s best new documentaries. Audiences that purchase this three-disc box set will agree with that sentiment. They will agree as they will see for themselves the depth of the information provided with in each of the series’ segments. They will agree just as much in noting the clearly defined separation of each segment from the others and each segment’s run time. Last but not least of all, audiences will agree in noting the pacing taken within each of the series’ segments. All things considered, The Sixties is one of the most in-depth documentaries to be released yet on the history of what is one of America’s most pivotal eras. It is available now and can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at More information on this and other titles from PBS is available online now at:



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Make A Bet, Enter For A Chance To Win “A Bet’s A Bet” From Phil’s Picks

Courtesy:  Cinedigm

Courtesy: Cinedigm

Independent movie and television studio Cinedigm will release its new rom-com A Bet’s A Bet next Tuesday, January 20th. And one lucky person will win a copy of the movie on DVD for free courtesy of Phil’s Picks this Friday, January 16th. Anyone that wants to enter for a chance at a free copy of the movie just needs to go to the Phil’s Picks Facebook page at, “Like” it, and then write on the page that they want to be entered for a chance to win the movie.   It’s that easy. A review of the movie is available online now via the Phil’s Picks blog at

A Bet’s A Bet, which also goes by the title The Opposite Sex, is an independent release. But it boasts a superstar cast. Daytime Emmy© Award winner Jennifer Finnigan (The Bold and the Beautiful, Tyrant) co-directed and co-starred with Jonathan Silverman (Weekend at Bernie’s, Weekend at Bernie’s II, Close to Home). Kristin Chenoweth (Rio 2, Stranger Than Fiction, Glee) makes an appearance early on in the movie. Also on board are Josh Hopkins (G.I. Jane, Cougar Town, The Perfect Storm) opposite lead star Geoff Stults (She’s Out Of My League, Wedding Crashers, The Break-Up). Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live, Kenan & Kel, All That) appears in a supporting role along with Dana Ashbrook (Twin Peaks, Dawson’s Creek, Crash) and Josh Cooke (I Love You, Man, Hart of Dixie, Manhattan). Debra Jo Rupp (That 70s Show, She’s Out of My League, Big) makes an appearance as Vince’s (Geoff Stults) secretary. And Eric Roberts (The Expendables, The Dark Knight, The Cable Guy), brother of actress Julia Roberts, stars as Vince’s boss Mr. Campbell. Even former N’Sync member Joey Fatone makes a cameo as a delivery man. Actress Mena Suvari (Chicago Fire, American Beauty, Six Feet Under) rounds out the cast as Vince’s love interest. It is her relationship with Vince that serves as the basis for the movie’s script.

The script behind A Bet’s A Bet centers on high-powered divorce attorney Vince (Stults) and his budding relationship with equally strong-willed divorcee Jane (Suvari). Vince is a self-proclaimed bachelor for life who is more focused on sleeping with every woman that he can get. On the other side of things, Jane is going through a nasty divorce. When the pair is introduced through a couple of mutual friends who just happened to be married, a series of hilarious bets plays out. The end result is a budding relationship that neither expected as both Vince and Jane are such headstrong characters. Jane’s own divorce case plays a role in the pair’s growing relationship, too. It offers its own share of laughs as audiences will see in watching the movie.

A Bet’s A Bet (The Opposite Sex) will be available on DVD next Tuesday, January 20th. It will retail for $14.93. It runs ninety-seven minutes counting end credits. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, and giveaways from Phil’s Picks, go online to and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, and giveaways in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Storming Juno Another Important Story Of WWII

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Stories of WWII told from the American and British vantage points are quite plentiful in the world of television and movies.  Stories from those in other Allied forces are far less.  That is they are far less prominent in the United States.  Now finally, another lesser told piece of WWII history has finally been added to the whole.  One part historical drama and one part documentary, Entertainment One’s brand new WWII story, Storming Juno is an impressive work.  The hour and a half presentation tells the story of the events of June 6th, 1944 from the perspective not of the American or British forces, but from the Canadian military.  It is centered on three young soldiers that were actually there on the day that marked the beginning of the end of the war in Europe. 

It is difficult to know where exactly to begin in the discussion of Storming Juno.  It would be very easy to compare this movie to the likes of bigger blockbuster films such as Saving Private Ryan and Flags of our Fathers.  By comparison, Storming Juno is just as good as those war epics if not better than them.  That might be a bold statement to some.  But it is a true statement.  That’s not to say that the aforementioned films were bad.  It just means that for an indie war film, Storming Juno definitely holds its own.  And it does so quite well at that.  So what enabled Storming Juno to hold its own so well against much bigger, more epic war movies?  For starters, the movie itself runs just over an hour.  The remaining half an hour of the entire feature’s ninety minute run time is taken by a documentary of sorts.  Another factor in the success of this movie is tied directly to its run time.  That factor is the story’s writing.  Script writer Christopher Gagosz managed in his script, to balance the intertwining stories of the three men on which it focuses.  Along with its balance, there are two more factors that make Storming Juno a success and a must see for any history buff and lover of war films. Those factors tie in to make this a complete story that any history buff and war movie fan will enjoy just as much as any war movie released by Hollywood’s major studios.  The factors in question are the incorporation of actual footage taken on D-Day by Canadian forces and the general historical accuracies portrayed in the movie itself.  These tie back into the writing and in turn the story length and overall enjoyment of the movie.  It all works together to make Storming Juno not just an enjoyable war story, but also one of 2013’s best independent movies.

Storming Juno holds its own against other bigger name war movies first and foremost because of its run time.  Paramount’s Saving Private Ryan clocked in at a massive one hundred sixty-nine minutes long.  That is roughly two hours and forty-nine minutes, or in simple terms, nearly three hours long.  Paramount’s other major war epic, Flags of our Fathers, came in at roughly two hours and twelve minutes.  Storming Juno on the other hand comes in at only ninety-minutes.  The primary story itself (not counting the semi-documentary that follows the main story) comes in at just over sixty minutes.  This puts the actual story at less than half the time of both previously mentioned movies.  If one were to count the full ninety-minutes, then it would still be just over half the time of said movies.  Thanks to the writing of Christopher Gagosz though, it doesn’t feel that ninety-minutes at all.  It keeps viewers engaged through every action filled moment.

Script writer Christopher Gagosz’s writing is largely to thanks for the movie’s ability to keep viewers engaged throughout its full ninety minutes.  He does this because instead of focusing on melodrama, as Saving Private Ryan and Flags of our Fathers do, he instead balances the personal emotions of his subjects with the story’s action.  While Juno Beach might not have been nearly as fraught with danger as Utah Beach, it was still dangerous.  The body language of the soldiers as they waited to take the beach said so much without saying anything.  It served to set the mood of tension, thus keeping viewers engaged.  The action that ensued from the moment that the troop transports landed and the tanks were launched (and subsequently sunk) plays into that tension and does even more to keep viewers’ attention. Right to the battle’s final moments.  As those final moments close, audiences are introduced to some of the men that were there at Juno Beach.  Their interviews serve to cement the story presented and tie into the final factor of the movie’s success.  That factor is its accuracy. 

Much of what is presented in Storming Juno was taken directly from both oral and written first-hand accounts of this battle.  As noted in the bonus “Inside Storming Juno” feature, much work went into bringing the story to life and making it accurate.  Even actual veterans from the battle were brought in to help set the scene, as was an individual with expert knowledge of the Royal Regina Rifles to make certain that the battle was portrayed as accurately as possible.  It would seem that the only questionable aspect of accuracy is that of the planes used in telling the story of the paratrooper.  They seemed to look like B-25s of some sort.  Other than that one slight inaccuracy, so much else was done right with this movie.  It ties right back in to the writing.  And along with the writing and run time, it makes Storming Juno a movie that any history buff and war movie fan will appreciate regardless if another movie based on non-American or British Allied forces is ever made.  It is available now in stores and online.

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