Peanuts and Popcorn

Peanuts and Popcorn

ABC Comedy Misses the Boat

posted by jtotey
Contance Wu, Hudsong Yang and Forrest Wheeler star in Fresh Off the Boat (ABC/Eric McCandless)

Contance Wu, Hudsong Yang and Forrest Wheeler star in Fresh Off the Boat (ABC/Eric McCandless)

After ABC found family sitcome success with shows like The Middle, Modern Family, and The Goldbergs, this year, the network has been focusing on bringing more diversity to the airwaves. Black-ish had a strong start with it’s great premiere episode, but quickly ran into mediocrity. The Latin-themed Cristella is pretty silly, but it does have a likable cast. Tonight ABC brings it’s new Asian family to the line up with Fresh Off the Boat which does contain a few laughs, but that is about it.

The show tries to be reminiscent to The Wonder Years with 11-year-old Eddie Huang (Hudson Yang) telling about the glory days growing up in Olrando, Florida in the mid ’90s. Despite the title, the Huang have actually only moved from Chinatown in Washington D.C., but it is still world’s away. Eddie’s father, Louis (Randall Park) moved his family to the suburbs to pursue his version of the American dream which includes opening a cowboy-themed restaurant – because all white Americans love these sort of places. However, reality soon sets in that he will need to work hard in order for his restaurant to succeed.

The fish-out-of-water comedy is based on the best-selling memoir with the same name by the real Eddie Huang, so there is some reality built into the unrealistic script. The show is a great idea but is executed poorly as it has two problems: the writing and the casting. Other than that, it’s flawless. Both Huang and Park have trouble with over-acting. Because of that, neither is very likeable. Instead of believing that they are real people you are made aware that they are acting. In other shows like The Middle, the actors work so well together and are believable, that you are sucked into their world. No so with the Huangs.

The show’s bright spot though is Constance Wu who plays Eddie’s mom, Jessica. She has just the right amount of broken English in her accent to make her seem the most realistic of the bunch whereas no one is going to believe that Park wasn’t born and raised in America. Wu also has the best lines and you can catch most of them from the TV commercials for the show.

Fresh Off the Boast isn’t terrible and the pilot makes a point to show that the Huang’s love and will support each other through their new difficult transition. You can check out the show yourself with two episodes airing tonight on ABC at 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

‘Black or White’ is More Grey – but in a Good Way

posted by jtotey
Jillian Estell and Kevin Costner star in "Black or White." (Relativity)

Jillian Estell and Kevin Costner star in “Black or White.” (Relativity)

Kevin Costner is a busy actor these days playing everything from a superhero’s father (Man of Steel) to a dying CIA agent (3 Days to Kill). Next month he’ll play a high school cross country coach in McFarland, USA, but this weekend he shines as the imperfect Elliott Anderson in Black or White. It’s a different type of role for him. He’s a lawyer, he’s old and he’s salty.

As the movie opens, we are with Elliott at the hospital when he receives news that his wife who was in a car accident didn’t survive. Understandably he falls apart. Not so understandably, he turns to the bottle for help. Back home, Elliott is tasked in telling his granddaughter, Eloise (Jillian Estell) the sad news. Eloise’s mother, (Elliott’s daughter), died in childbirth and Eloise barely knows her father. Eloise’s mother was white; her father is black.

To make matters more difficult, Eloise’s grandmother on her father’s side, Rowena (Octavia Spencer), wants nothing more than for her son, Duvan (Mpho Koaho) to be reunited with Eloise. That’s not going to happen if Elliott get’s his way. Let the courtroom drama begin.

Black and White is unique in that nothing in it is completely…black or white. Elliott is rich and can provide anything that his little Eloise would ever need. Rowena also has money, not the kind of money that Elliott has, but she is doing alright for herself. Elliott and Eloise live alone. Rowena has a huge family living with her. Duvan is a former drug addict. Elliott is an alcoholic. Questions rise up on whether Eloise would do better living with a black family rather than a white one. Some family members want to make the situation a race issue while others appear to be colorblind. There is no simple answer, but in the end, the right one wins out.

Black or White is not a perfect movie, but it is engaging. Jillian Estell is a charming actress and looks very natural throughout the film. However, one of the weirdest parts of the story is the inclusion of Elliott’s business partner’s girlfriend Fay played by Gillian Jacobs. She is a blond airhead whose character really has no reason for being in the movie. Fortunately, about after halfway through, she isn’t anymore. Her character, obviously meant for comedy relief, just doesn’t work.

The movie posters for the film make the story look more rosy than it is. Costner’s character isn’t really likeable (but of course he is grieving through most of it) and Octavia’s character is a lot more fun than you would think it would be for a family drama like this.

All in all, Black or White is definitely worth seeing and though the film is intended for adults, pre-teens could benefit from seeing this movie as well. Some great conversations could be had afterward.

More than 320,000 Students will see ‘Selma’ for Free

posted by jtotey
Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

What started as a local event has grown to a national one in just a few short weeks. The “Bring Selma to Students” program began on January 8th in New York City when 27 African-American business leaders created a fund for 27,000 of the city’s 7th, 8th and 9th grade students to see the film for free. Due to the overwhelming demand, the New York City effort sold out in the very first weekend and was expanded to 75,000 tickets.

Since then, other African-American business leaders across the U.S. have joined in with Indianapolis and West Palm Beach being the newest, which means that the film will be shown to students for free at 34 locations nationwide.

Selma chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement. The film stars Tom Wilkinson, Cuba Gooding Jr., Alessandro Nivola, Giovanni Ribisi, Common, Carmen Ejogo, Lorraine Toussaint, with Tim Roth and Oprah Winfrey.

Due to the program’s popularity and the ongoing efforts of the organizers, student tickets in Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Miami, New York, Northern New Jersey, Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, St. Louis and Washington D.C. have sold out. Philadelphia expanded its program and added 3,000 more tickets to meet the overwhelming demand, while the business leaders in Northern New Jersey raised additional funds to send 1,000 students in Trenton, NJ to see the film.

Viacom’s Paramount Pictures, which is distributing the Academy Award-nominated film for Best Picture and Best Original Song, is coordinating the programs with participating theaters in the U.S. For a list of participating theaters in select cities offering free admission to students during this program and for information on group sales, visit www.SelmaMovie.com/studenttickets. Middle and high school students who present a current student ID or report card at the box office of any participating theater will receive free admission while tickets last.

K-LOVE Announces Fan Award Nominees

posted by jtotey
From L to R: Matthew West, Steven Curtis Chapman, Plumb, John Sanders (K-LOVE Fan Awards Co-Creator and Producer), Jon Klein (TAPP Co-Founder and CEO), Mike Novak (K-LOVE President and CEO), Francesca Battistelli, David Pierce (K-LOVE CCO) and Colton Dixon. Photo Credit: Aaron Crisler for The Media Collective

From L to R: Matthew West, Steven Curtis Chapman, Plumb, John Sanders (K-LOVE Fan Awards Co-Creator and Producer), Jon Klein (TAPP Co-Founder and CEO), Mike Novak (K-LOVE President and CEO), Francesca Battistelli, David Pierce (K-LOVE CCO) and Colton Dixon. (Photo Credit: Aaron Crisler for The Media Collective)

The K-LOVE Radio Network is known for its 446 signals in 47 states and boasts of a listening audience of 14 million. Last night at the Franklin Theatre outside of Nashville, the K-LOVE announced the nominees for the 2015 Fan Awards Show. The special will be presented on May 31, 2015 at the Grand Ole Opry House in Music City.

Among the attendee’s for the press conference were President and CEO Mike Novak and CCO David Pierce, as well as host Steven Curtis Chapman, Colton Dixon, Francesca Battistelli, Matt Maher, Matthew West and Plumb.

Leading the nominations with four each, including Artist of the Year, were Newsboys and For King & Country. Additional nominees for Artist of the Year include Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin, MercyMe and TobyMac. For the first time, nominees were selected and voted upon completely by fans. Voting for the 2015 K-LOVE Fan Awards will open at midnight (ET) on May 1 and will close at midnight (ET) on May 30. Nominees for Film/Television Impact, Book Impact and Sports Impact Awards will be announced at a later date.

And the nominees for the other awards are:

Male Artist of the Year:
Chris Tomlin, Colton Dixon, Crowder, Jeremy Camp, Matthew West and Steven Curtis Chapman

Female Artist of the Year
Francesca Battistelli, Jamie Grace, Kari Jobe, Mandisa, Natalie Grant and Plumb

Group/Duo of the Year
Casting Crowns, For King & Country, MercyMe, Newsboys, Tenth Avenue North and Third Day

Best Live Show
For King & Country, Need to Breathe, Newsboys, Tenth Avenue North, Third Day and TobyMac

Worship Song of the Year
“Overwhelmed” (Big Daddy Weave), “Jesus Loves Me” (Chris Tomlin), “Come As You Are” (Crowder), “No Other Name” (Hillsong Worship), “How Can It Be” (Lauren Daigle) and “Because He Lives” (Matt Maher)

Song of the Year
“Hope In Front of Me” (Danny Gokey), “Fix My Eyes” (For King & Country), “He Knows My Name” (Francesca Battistelli), “Do Something” (Matthew West), “Greater” (MercyMe) and “We Believe” (Newsboys)


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