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Review: In Season 2, ‘The Good Place’ Blows Itself Up, Hilariously

The New York Times + 1 other

Season 1 of NBC’s “The Good Place” had one hell of a final twist. The comedy began last fall with Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) awakening after a humiliating death to find herself welcomed to heaven, despite having led a highly un-angelic life. With the help of her “soul mate” Chidi (William Jackson Harper), who was a philosopher on Earth before he was hit by a falling air conditioner, Eleanor eventually figured out the trouble with this paradise. The Good Place, it turns out, is actually The Bad Place. Or a bad place. Michael (Ted Danson), its seemingly kindly administrator, is in fact an infernal bureaucrat beta-testing a new way of tormenting souls by convincing them that they’ve gotten an eternal reward they don’t deserve. Eleanor’s guess ruins the scheme, and Michael ended the season by wiping his subjects’ memories and rebooting the scenario. Season 2, premiering Wednesday before moving to Thursdays, begins again at the beginning, after Eleanor’s end. It’s unusual for any series to so deliberately blow up its premise at the end of one season, particularly a season as delightful, promising and weirdly inventive as last year’s. (It burned so much plot that the return episode begins with a two-minute “Previously on ...” segment.) Advertisement Continue reading the main story But over the first four episodes, the Bad Place version of “The Good Place” proves it’s st…

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Spicer suggests critics of Emmy appearance should lighten up

The Washingon Times + 28 other

NEW YORK (AP) - Sean Spicer says his surprise Emmy Awards appearance was a chance to have some fun, and suggested Tuesday that people who were upset by it were taking things too seriously. Clearly, not everyone was laughing, however. For Emmys host Stephen Colbert, there’s also a risk that a joke he engineered could wind up doing collateral damage. The former White House press secretary’s cameo was Colbert’s idea, and they arranged to maximize the surprise factor through Chris Licht, the Colbert producer who knew Spicer from his background in news. Colbert set the joke up by …

It took Ken Burns and Lynn Novick 10 years to unbury the secrets of the Vietnam War

Chicago Tribune + 1 other

When you make plans to watch a Ken Burns documentary, you often have to clear out a lot of DVR space: 11 hours for "The Civil War," 14 hours for "The Roosevelts" and, starting on Sept. 17, 18 hours for "The Vietnam War." But as sprawling as these series can be --"The Vietnam War" starts in 1858 and continues onward -- the more you learn about the process of making them, the more reasonable those running times sound. "The Vietnam War" took 10 years to come together. Because it was shot in both the United States and in Vietnam, it was a more lo…

‘Stronger’ spawns a friendship for Gyllenhaal and Bauman

Washington Post + 2 other

TORONTO — As the cast and makers of “Stronger” collectively rose to take a bow after the film’s Toronto International Film Festival premiere, Jake Gyllenhaal realized that Jeff Bauman, whom he plays in the film and who wears prosthetic legs, was still sitting, overwhelmed with emotion. “Jake was like, ‘Get up!’” Bauman said. “And I stood up.” “As soon as he got up, everyone else stood up,” Gyllenhaal said. “I realized: This movie just showed them everything he went through just for that moment. I’ve never had an experience like that making a movie.” “Stronger,” directed by David Gordon …

Little Big Town heads back on tour after Ryman residency

The Washingon Times + 1 other

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Every time country vocal group Little Big Town walked into the 125-year-old Ryman Auditorium to play one of their residency shows this year, the four singers breathed a little sigh of relief. “When we go into the dressing room, you just take a breath and go, ‘OK, I feel like I am at home,’” said Jimi Westbrook. The Mother Church of country music in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, was one of the few places fans could have seen the quartet perform this year, but the five-time Country Music Association vocal group of the year will return to a major h…

Nielsen’s top programs for Sept. 11-17

Washington Post + 1 other

Prime-time viewership numbers compiled by Nielsen for Sept. 11-17. Listings include the week’s ranking and viewership. 1. NFL Football: Green Bay at Atlanta, NBC, 20.24 million. 2. “NFL Sunday Post-Game,” Fox, 13.96 million. 3. “America’s Got Talent” (Wednesday), NBC, 11.59 million. 4. “America’s Got Talent” (Tuesday), NBC, 11.57 million. 5. NFL Football: New Orleans at Minnesota, ESPN, 11.4 million. 6. “Emmy Awards,” CBS, 11.38 million. 7. “Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick,” NBC, 10.25 million. 8. NFL Football: L.A. Chargers at Denver, ESPN, 9.95 million. 9. NFL Football: Houston at Cinci…

Tuesday's TV highlights: 'Conan Without Borders: Israel' on TBS

Los Angeles Times + 3 other

SERIES America's Got Talent The top 10 acts compete for the last time in the final round of the competition. 8 p.m. NBC The Vietnam War In “The River Styx (January 1964-December 1965),” part three of the Ken Burns-Lynn Novick documentary series, Hanoi ramps up the conflict by sending troops to South Vietnam, which is already in disarray. 8 and 10 p.m. KOCE and KPBS The State Marriage to a foreign fighter is challenging, but Ushna is determined to make it work, while Shakira suffers brutal consequences for turning down a proposal, 9 p.m. National Geographic. The series finale follows at 10.…

O'Reilly says his ouster was hit job and business decision

The Washingon Times + 1 other

NEW YORK (AP) - Bill O'Reilly said Tuesday that his firing from Fox News Channel in April was a “political hit job” and that his network’s parent company made a business decision to get rid of him. The deposed king of cable television news had a contentious interview with Matt Lauer on NBC’s “Today” show, where he said his conscience was clear about how he dealt with women in the working world. O'Reilly was dismissed by 21st Century Fox following a review prompted by a report in The New York Times that five women had been paid a total of $13 million …

VH1's 'Hip Hop Honors' looks to '90s nostalgia

Chicago Tribune + 1 other

A back lot at Paramount Studios shook from the bass of classic rap records pumping through speakers as members of the crowd picked up free bandannas, sunglasses and faux gold chains. The strip of brownstones and storefronts that often stand in for New York — or whatever metropolis filmmakers see fit — had been transformed into a Brooklyn block party on Sunday for VH1’s “Hip Hop Honors.” Since its inception in 2004, the event, which returned last year after a six-year absence, has feted the artists and movements that have defined and influenced hip-hop culture. This year’s ceremony, which ai…

Review: ‘Alone’ is perfect complement to filmdom’s ‘Dunkirk’

Washington Post + 1 other

“Alone” (Liveright Publishing Co.), by Michael Korda Interest in the 1940 cross-channel evacuation of British soldiers amid the French collapse in World War II has sprung to life this summer, thanks to Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster movie “Dunkirk.” On its heels comes “Alone,” Michael Korda’s masterful account of that epic drama and its impact on his family. Few of the soldiers, airmen and mariners whose heroism allowed Britain to carry on a singlehanded battle against Nazi Germany are alive today. Korda was only 6 years old at the time, living in London with his filmmaking family whose r…

‘Page Six TV’ scores big ratings wins with premiere episode

New York Post + 1 other

“Page Six TV” is off to a flying start. The new syndicated show, which premiered Monday (7 p.m. on WNYW/Ch. 5), snared the best overnight ratings for a magazine launch (in its timeslot) since 2007 (and the launch of “TMZ”). The show, modeled after The Post’s iconic gossip page, features Page Six reporter Carlos Greer, Elizabeth Wagmeister, Bevy Smith and John Fugelsang, who take viewers “inside the rope” and dishing on the day’s gossip and celebrity news. Page Six editor Emily Smith and deputy editor Ian Mohr also appear on the show to provid…

Review: Amadou & Mariam reflect, deflect world's confusion

The Washingon Times + 2 other

Amadou & Mariam, “La Confusion” (Because Music) On their first album in five years, Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia, the husband-and-wife duo from Mali, both reflect and deflect “La Confusion” going on in their West African homeland and across the world. After recording with the likes of Manu Chao and Damon Albarn, Amadou & Mariam created “La Confusion” in Paris with local producer and keyboardist Adrien Durand, while relying on Malian musicians like Djeli Moussa Diawara, who plays the harp-like kora, and Youssouf Diabate, master of the ngoni, similar to …

De Niro: Help rebuild Barbuda paradise destroyed by Irma

Washington Post + 1 other

UNITED NATIONS — Two-time Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro came to the United Nations on Monday to appeal to all countries and organizations to help rebuild the devastated Caribbean island of Barbuda and ensure that “paradise is not lost.” De Niro spoke at a hastily called meeting on Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane on record. The meeting of top U.N. officials and government leaders from several hard-hit Caribbean countries came ahead of the annual global gathering of the world’s leaders at the U.N. General Assembly which opens Tuesday. Irma wreaked havoc in the …

Review: 'The Cuban Affair' feels authentic and real

The Washingon Times + 1 other

“The Cuban Affair: a Novel” (Simon & Schuster), by Nelson DeMille A charter boat captain in Key West, Florida, gets an offer he can’t refuse in Nelson DeMille’s latest novel, “The Cuban Affair.” Daniel “Mac” MacCormick has retired. He bought a charter boat and now offers his services to tourists. He’s in desperate need of financial help since the bank loan for his vessel is quite extensive, not to mention living in Key West. Jack, his partner and first officer on various jaunts, is old and quite cranky, so they’re a perfect match …

Brazil ruling that homosexuality is disease to be appealed

Washington Post + 1 other

SAO PAULO — Brazilian pop stars and gay rights activists have come out against a federal court’s injunction allowing psychologists to treat homosexuality as a disease. Judge Waldemar Claudio de Carvalho ruled last week that homosexuality could be considered a disease that could be treated with sexual orientation conversion therapies. Ivete Sangalo, one of Brazil’s most popular singers, said on Instagram that believing being gay is a disease is an “absurdity.” Toni Reis, who heads the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Alliance, told reporters the injunction is a step backward…

Annual ArtPrize competition kicks off in western Michigan

The Washingon Times + 2 other

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - An international art competition in western Michigan is kicking off its ninth year. ArtPrize Nine starts Wednesday in Grand Rapids and runs through Oct. 8. In all, $500,000 in cash prizes will be awarded - including $200,000 for the public favorite and $200,000 for a winner picked by an expert jury. The voting structure has been updated this year. The first round narrows entries down to 20 chosen by the public and 20 by the jury. The second round’s rules will change, removing the distinction between the public and jury choices. Twenty from each group will comp…

Children's singer-songwriter facing child porn charges

The Washingon Times + 1 other

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - A music teacher and singer-songwriter who performs for children at synagogues, Jewish community centers, camps and conventions nationwide is facing child pornography charges. Federal prosecutors in New Jersey say Eric Komar was charged Tuesday with receiving and distributing images of child sexual abuse. Prosecutors say Komar used a peer-to-peer file-sharing program to obtain and distribute images and videos of young children being sexually abused. The 46-year-old Hillsborough man was represented at his initial court appearance by a federal public defender. That office doe…

You'll laugh and cry through 'Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies'

The Washingon Times + 1 other

“Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies” (Atria Books), by Michael Ausiello Michael Ausiello is a respected television journalist whose wit and candor are well-received by those who love reading behind-the-scenes reports in the entertainment industry. He is open and honest in his memoir, an account of his husband Kit Cowan’s yearlong battle with cancer. “Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies” chronicles the couple’s instant chemistry, their relatable love story and the unrelenting bravery both men displayed in the darkest of days. When Cowan is diagnosed with a rare form of c…