PBS Pays Tribute To Bob Hope In New “American Masters” Episode

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

It goes without saying that Bob Hope is one of the greatest names in the entertainment industry’s modern history.  From radio to television to movies to his famed USO tours, Hope entertained audiences of all ages for years, so when he died in 2003, it left a great void in not just the industry but in America’s whole.  Now thanks to PBS and Public Media Distribution, Hope’s legacy continues to live in a new episode of the network’s bio-based series American Masters.

American Masters: This Is Bob Hope was released this past Tuesday, January 9 on DVD and Digital HD.  The two-hour-long profile of the legendary entertainer tells what made — and makes him still today — an American Master.  Billy Crystal (Monsters Inc., Monsters UniversityCity Slickers) lends his talents to the program, reading Hope’s own words, which were pulled from Hope’s own personal archives for the presentation.  Interviews with the likes of Woody Allen (SleeperMidnight in ParisManhattan), Dick Cavett (The Dick Cavett Show), film critic/historian Leonard Maltin, Hope’s own daughter, Linda Hope, Kermit The Frog (yes, even Kermit) and others, add even more depth to the story.

Clips from Hope’s television specials, radio shows and his movies — including My Favorite BlondeThe Cat and his beloved Road movies, in which he starred alongside Bing Crosby — are also incorporated into the program to help tell the story of Hope’s life and career.  Audiences can view a trailer for this episode online now here.

American MastersThis Is Bob Hope is available now on DVD and Digital HD.  It is retailing for MSRP of $24.99, but can be ordered at a reduced price of $19.99 via PBS’ online store.  More information on this and other episodes of American Masters is available online now at:


Website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/PBSAmerMasters


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Wilson shines in Allen’s Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen is one of the most respected individuals in the world of movie making.  And that’s with good reason.  But in his new movie, Midnight in Paris, one can’t help but wonder if Allen has perhaps lost some of his credibility.  While not a terrible movie, the whole thing comes across as little more than a niche film that would appeal only to a certain audience.  This leads it to be one of the more forgettable movies from 2011.

The story does a good job setting the scene as it begins.  The combined use of music and picturesque scenes of Paris let audiences know the general feel of the story will be laid back.  The problems start not long after, though.  While the story does a good job setting the feel and scene, it does little to nothing to grab the average viewer’s attention, and pull him/her in.  The problems continue from then on.  As Gill (Owen Wilson) goes back and forth in time, the movie loses its identity, and becomes little more than a literary ripoff of Night at The Museum, and perhaps Serendipity, or even My Life in Ruins.  The comparisons rise from Gill meeting his literary heroes in his travels back to the “better days” of expatriats and psuedo-intellectuals.

As uninteresting as Midnight in Paris turns out to be in the long run, it has one saving grace.  That single positive lies in the acting of Owen Wilson.  Wilson is no stranger to romantic comedies, with roles in the likes of Meet The Fockers, Little Fockers, Wedding Crashers, and You, Me and Dupree.  So playing Gill was obviously old hat for him.  At the same time, though, playing Gill allowed Wilson to branch out a little bit, too.  It was a different role than those he played in his previous rom-coms and screwball comedies (alongside buddy Ben Stiller).  If not for Wilson’s acting, Midnight in Paris would have been completely in the dark.  And yes, that bad pun was intended.  One can’t help but wonder if [Woody] Allen intentionally made Gill something of a mirror image of himself.  That’s because Gill definitely seemed to come across as the stereotyped caricature of Allen.

Wilson’s acting is the one major positive to Midnight in Paris.  Sure there’s beautiful scenery and classic music that creates the intended feeling of nostalgia.  But at the same time that they get the job done, what they also do is create a sense of snobbery.  In layman’s terms, it makes the story feel above the heads of average audiences.  What that does is create the urge to hit the fast forward button on their remotes.  And as with so many other movies, those who actually follow through can’t be blamed. 

The dvd’s bonus features do little to help save the overall viewing experience.  Whether on the dvd or blu-ray, the bonus features included on both formats are identical.  Both offer a short feature titled, “Midnight in Cannes”.  The blu-ray includes the standard photo gallery that nearly every dvd and blu-ray carries.  It simply is no motivation to buy the movie.  The bonus features and semi-elitist vibe presented in Midnight in Paris makes it anything but accessible to general audiences.  It does boast a relatively simple story, though.  Considering that, and Owen Wilson’s acting, it is a movie that’s worth at least one watch, even though it will likely fade into the twilight of movie history.