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<![CDATA[Baseball Movies That Hit a Home Run]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:19:51 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/edt_2011_moneyball_001.jpg

The MLB World Series is heating up as the San Francisco Giants take on the Kansas City Royals for 2014 bragging rights.

Royals and Giants loyalists are already all keyed up. But if your team struck out on making it to the finals and your baseball enthusiasm is running low, these five baseball movies are sure to rekindle your love of the game so late in the season.

"42" (2013)

The story of legend Jackie Robinson from his 1945 signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers through his historic 1947 rookie season, and the racial integration of professional baseball. Chadwick Boseman ("Get On Up") stars as the number 42 jersey-wearing Robinson and Harrison Ford as MLB executive Branch Rickey who helped smash the color barrier by signing him. Robinson's wife Rachel was involved in the production, telling Fox Sports, "It was important to me because I wanted it to be an authentic piece. I wanted to get it right. I didn’t want them to make him an angry black man or some stereotype, so it was important for me to be in there." 


Cricket is akin to baseball in that it is the national summer pastime in countries such as England, Australia, South Africa, India, Pakistan and New Zealand. Taking that comparison one step further is this feel-good biopic from Disney based on the true story of baseball pitchers Rinku Singh (Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh Patel (Madhur Mittal), cricket players from India who were discovered by sports agent J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) through a talent contest called "Million Dollar Arm." Hamm received critical praise for his turn in this underdog tale. Also starring Allan Arkin, Lake Bell and Bill Paxton.

"MONEYBALL" (2011)

This baseball biopic is based on Michael Lewis's 2003 nonfiction book of the same name, which chronicles the Oakland Athletics baseball team through their 2002 season. The team is in a dire financial situation and manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) employs a sabermetric approach to scout possible players. attempts to assemble a competitive team. So successful is the method the team goes on to claim an American League record with 20 consecutive wins. The film received six Academy Award nominations including best picture, actor (Pitt) and supporting actor for Jonah Hill.

"BULL DURHAM" (1988)

Any list of baseball flicks has to include at least one movie starring Kevin Costner and many would argue that one should be 1989's "Field of Dreams." But "Durham," starring Costner as star catcher Crash Davis whose waning career takes a turn when he is brought in to coach major league-bound rookie pitcher "Nuke" LaLoosh (Tim Robbins), works not only as a great baseball tale, but as a stand-alone comedy movie and love story as well. The latter involving Susan Sarandon as Annie Savoy, a fan who has one affair each season with a minor league player. In 2003 Sports Illustrated ranked "Bull Durham" number one on their list of Greatest Sports Movies.

"THE NATURAL" (1984)

An adaptation of Bernard Malamud's 1952 baseball novel of the same name, "The Natural" was directed by Barry Levinson and stars Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs, a player who arrives seemingly out of nowhere with a divine gift for playing America's greatest pastime. Beginning in 1923 the movie spans decades as it chronicles Hobb's successes and failures. It also stars Robert Duvall as sports writer Max Mercy and Glenn Close as Iris Gaines, the protagonist's sweetheart from childhood. Nominated for four Academy Awards, it earned sixth place on ESPN Page 2's Top 20 Sports Movies of All Time list in 2009, with the number one spot going to "Bull Durham."

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<![CDATA[Alice Cooper, Joan Jett Rock Out at Little Kids Rock Benefit ]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:41:57 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/DSCN1026.jpg Little Kids Rock is a non profit that works to build lasting music programs in public schools by donating instruments, training teachers, and providing curriculum resources for kids. The 6th annual Little Kids Rock Benefit honored Joan Jett as Rocker of the Year, and featured performances by Alice Cooper, Billie Joe Armstrong, Cheap Trick, Darlene Love and more.

Photo Credit: NBC.com]]>
<![CDATA["Modern Family" Star Sarah Hyland Visits "Meredith"]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:38:56 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/F_0271.jpg "Modern Family" actress Sarah Hyland talks with Meredith Vieira about overcoming adversity in her life.

Photo Credit: Peter Kramer/NBC]]>
<![CDATA[End of the "Empire"]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:32:28 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/200*120/boardwalk+nucky.jpg

Three episodes into this fifth and final season of “Boardwalk Empire,” the very real Joseph Kennedy intersperses a business conversation with the semi-fictional Atlantic City bootlegging boss Nucky Thompson with chatter about his “boys.” When Kennedy finally says, “Tell me what you want,” it’s unclear whether he’s talking about money or family – or both.

Thompson becomes uncharacteristically agitated and informs Kennedy, whom he wooed as a post-Prohibition rum-running partner, that he doesn’t want to do business with him. Then he becomes equally uncharacteristically introspective and vulnerable, telling the patriarch of America’s Royal Family-to-be: “I want to leave something behind.”

The exchange marked the defining moment of the season and perhaps of the series, as Nucky (Steve Buscemi), who is basically alone, struggles to save an empire wrought in blood and booze, along with what’s left of his soul. "Boardwalk Empire" lays its final plank Sunday with the legacies of Nucky Thompson – and the great HBO show – on the line.

While earning some critical acclaim, “Boardwalk Empire” never attracted the audience, the Emmys or pop cultural hoopla of contemporaries like “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad.” That’s a shame – the show, stretching from the end of World War I to the impending end of Prohibition, stands as one of the best TV crime drama since HBO’s “The Sopranos,” which previously employed the talents of “Boardwalk” creator Terence Winter.

Like the similarly violent “Sopranos,” Winter’s “Boardwalk” ultimately is about family.

That’s never been as clear as in this compelling final season in which the narrative of Nucky’s downfall is intermingled with scenes of his rise, beginning from his hardscrabble boyhood to his life as a corrupt young sheriff of turn-of-the-(last) century Atlantic City. The peek into Nucky’s past has proved a revelation.

While many believe “Mad Men” is the dual story of Don Draper and his protégé Peggy Olson (it’s not quite that simple), “Boardwalk Empire” is emerging as the tale of the intertwined fates of Nucky and Gillian, the waif he ultimately pimped out to the Commodore, his mentor and predecessor as king of Atlantic City. The most recent episode found Nucky haunted by Gillian’s letters, sent from a brutal mental institution, begging him to save her from a hell he partially created.

Much happened in between, of course, as the show wove in real-life figures like Kennedy and gangsters Al Capone, Arnold Rothstein and Lucky Luciano, who literally brought Nucky to his knees in this past Sunday’s installment. Nucky agreed to give up his empire to spare the life of his nephew, who beat his criminal genes and a past scandal to become an assistant U.S. attorney.

Nucky hasn’t always been that devoted a family man. At the end of Season 2, he fatally shot Jimmy Darmody, his surrogate son and the tragic spawn of a teenage Gillian and the Commodore. Nucky married the young Irish widow of a man he ordered killed, and tried to be a father to her children, until the couple was torn apart by her wandering heart and his unforgiving heart.

He stands in constant danger of being betrayed by his hotheaded brother, Eli, who perhaps deserves the forgiveness he’s been extended, as evidenced by this season’s flashbacks of their wretched childhood. We’ve also seen in flashbacks Nucky’s relationship with a new character – his loving, pregnant young first wife, whose fate we’ll presumably learn Sunday.

The family theme has played out with other of the rich characters wrought by the show’s writers: Mobster Chalky White lost his daughter to a hit gone wrong, the bloody product of his affair with a woman named Daughter – whom, he learned just before being rubbed out himself, bore him a daughter.

Then there’s Nelson Van Alden, the self-flagellating G-man whose downfall into a life of crime and a death at the hands of Capone’s goons began with his and his holly roller wife’s inability to conceive. Richard Harrow, the sniper/hitman who lost half his face in World War I, saw himself in his dying breath as unscarred and happy with the family he patched together with Gillian’s grandson, whom he saved from a brothel bloodbath.

Nucky is seeking redemption, as seen in both big strokes – giving up all to save his nephew – and in ways more subtle. He sent away Joe Harper, the young mob gopher who reminds him of his ambitious, younger self – telling him to go “sweep the sand.” That’s Sisyphean task the Commodore would give Nucky as a boy. Nucky is finally seeing the folly of trying to control every grain of beachfront Atlantic City.

Some might initially have thought it folly to cast Buscemi, a strong character actor, in the leading man role as Nucky. But he quickly emerged as the brilliant, battered heart of the show. Buscemi leads a standout band of performers that includes Gretchen Mol as Gillian, a mistress of illusion and self-delusion who just might be the program’s most complex character.

History tells us what ultimately happened to Kennedy, Capone and the other real life folks depicted in the show. We’ll learn the outcome of Nucky’s and Gillian’s story Sunday, though it might take more time for “Boardwalk Empire” to reach its rightful place in TV history as it leaves behind a legacy of outstanding drama. 


Jere Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multimedia NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.

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<![CDATA[Classroom Crusaders on "The Meredith Vieira Show"]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:41:02 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/F_0841.jpg Grocer Albertsons is giving the Classroom Crusaders $12,000 for food on "The Meredith Vieira Show." Meredith also has another special surprise in store for her guest!

Photo Credit: Peter Kramer/NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Joan Jett Named "Rocker of the Year" at 2014 Little Kids Rock Benefit]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:55:57 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/DSCN1026.jpg

Alice Cooper, Joan Jett, Billie Joe Armstrong, Steven Van Zandt, and Cheap Trick were just a few of the legendary musicians who took the stage at the 6th Annual Little Kids Rock Benefit honoring punk icon Joan Jett as "Rocker of the Year" and E Street Band member, Jake Clemons as "Big Man of the Year."

As fashion designer Betsey Johnson said, it was “everything rock and roll for the kids,” at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, Thursday October 23.

The event raised money for Little Kids Rock, a non-profit organization that aims to establish lasting music programs in public schools across the nation by training school teachers, donating instruments, and providing necessary course resources for students.

The funds raised could buy everything needed to set up a “School of Rock”-style band, Teddy Reiser, Curriculum Design Specialist said before the show, referencing the music-focused comedy starring Jack Black.

“I’m just so excited to see all the instruments the kids are going to get, and seeing everybody so dedicated to the cause. People who are in this room tonight are really just people who care about the children,” Reiser added.

Some of the students from the Little Kids Rock program gave free music lessons to guests, including 14-year-old Marcos Vasquez from Franklin L. Williams Middle School in Jersey City, New Jersey, who has been playing guitar for three years.

“Since Little Kids Rock, I’ve been getting better and better,” said Vasquez, who took the stage for multiple performances later in the evening.

The benefit also featured a live and silent auction which included unique donated items, such as various autographed guitars, a dinner with Maureen and Steven Van Zandt, Royal Caribbean cruises, limited edition Citizen watches, and a chance to play onstage with all the evening's performers at the end of the show.

The 2014 Rocker of the Year, Joan Jett, performed duets with Tommy James, Billie Joe Armstrong, and Alice Cooper.

The rock n’ roll filled event ended with all the artists performing alongside Little Kids Rock students to “I Love Rock N’ Roll” in honor of Jett.

Photo Credit: NBC.com]]>
<![CDATA[Queen Elizabeth II Sends Her First Tweet]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 08:20:22 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP262404366191.jpg

Queen Elizabeth II tweets.

The British Monarch sent her first missive from the @BritishMonarchy Twitter account Friday morning to herald the opening of the Information Age exhibition at London's Science Museum, which fittingly celebrates the history of information and communication technology.

"It is a pleasure to open the Information Age exhibition today at the @sciencemuseum and I hope people will enjoy visiting. Elizabeth R," read the tweet.

Immediately following the above tweet, another was issued stating: "The last tweet was sent personally by The Queen from her official Twitter account @BritishMonarchy #TheQueenTweets."

According to another tweet from @BritishMonarchy sent earlier Friday, the Queen, 88, was also the first monarch to send an email (it was actually via an early from of the technology known as ARPANET) while on a visit to a military base in 1976.

The Queen is not the first member of the Royal Family to take to social media. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge used the Clarence House account to announce the arrival of Prince George in 2013, and to reveal the news he would be having a baby brother or sister in 2014. Prince Harry sent his first ever tweet earlier this year when he launched the Invictus Games.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Skrillex Fans Hospitalized]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 23:13:49 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/190*120/tlmd_nombres_reales_famosos_03.jpg

Amid reports of rampant drug use and an unusually high number of concertgoers seeking medical treatment from a Skrillex concert at Navy Pier Saturday night, a pier spokesman confirmed Wednesday that more than a dozen people were transported to area hospitals.

An EMS source said the majority of those transports were for drug overdoses. Navy Pier spokesman Nick Shields would not comment on that, but confirmed that 16 people were transported during the event, which ran from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday.

More than 10,000 people were in attendance.

Skrillex, the former Sonny John Moore, is an electronic dance music producer, DJ, and singer from Los Angeles.

Andrew Bazos, a physician and President of CrowdRX, which oversees medical safety for SFX, the promoter of the Skrillex show, said his firm always has an emergency medical doctor in the venue. And he noted that every city has different rules about who gets transported versus those who are treated on site.

"The policy in Chicago has been to take anyone who presents to the hospital," Bazos said. "We’re there for people who haven’t been smart, and safety is number one."

He agreed that there are suggestions that the wildly popular electronic music genre may need to consider a higher age limit.

"It has brought a young, crazier demo," he said, "but also immature."

"If their parents were there, they would have gone home with their parents," he said. "It’s not fair to make the promoter take care of kids who don’t know how to behave. ... They’re young, and they’re often irresponsible."

Bazos said those transported from the Skrillex concert were taken to four downtown hospitals: Northwestern, St. Joseph, Lurie Children’s Hospital, and Mercy.

SFX, the promoter of the shows, he said, takes extra precautions to guarantee safety. Not only are private ambulances put on retainer, but he said, "peer" representatives circulate in the crowds to try and spot anyone who might be needing medical assistance.

"We’re very strict at the doors so that people don’t bring bad things in," he said. "I personally think that the more that word gets out there, the better."

Bazos estimated a third of those in attendance at the show were minors, and a considerable percentage of those transported were for alcohol.

The genre has been the focus of criticism in other cities after some high-profile tragedies. A 15-year-old girl died from a suspected Ecstasy overdose at the "Electric Daisy Carnival" in Los Angeles in 2010. A year later, a 19-year-old died at a companion event in Dallas.

In an interview earlier this year with the Toronto Sun, Skrillex admitted "problems within the subculture" of his music resulting from drug use which seems to be endemic to the crowds.

"The tragedies that get reported are within a minority of shows," he said. "And although those are tragic and shouldn’t be overlooked, you can’t blame an idea for how a culture has taken it and run with it."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Airline Reveals "Hobbit" Flight Safety Video]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 17:46:14 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2014-10-23+at+1.40.11+PM.png

Air New Zealand has released a "Hobbit"-themed in-flight safety video that is anything but boring.

Entitled “The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made," the four-minute clip begins with two “Hobbit” trilogy fans on a flight who are shocked when they discover Elijah Wood, a.k.a. Frodo Baggins, is across the aisle. Then, an elfin stewardess begins giving flight safety instructions.

The video combines “Hobbit” themes with safe air travel practices, including an orc in an oxygen mask and a man wearing a life jacket who pulls out a golden ring.

The trilogy's director, Peter Jackson, and special effects artist Richard Taylor also make appearances in the video.

Air New Zealand calls itself the "official airline of Middle-earth" and this isn't the first time it has paid homage to the country's "Hobbit" legacy. On Oct. 31, 2012, the airline released the in-flight safety video "An Unexpected Briefing," which featured an appearance by Peter Jackson. On Nov. 19, 2013, the airline released an ad that featured "Hobbit" actor Dean O'Gorman.

The third and final film in the "Hobbit" trilogy, “The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies,” opens December 17.

<![CDATA[Street Renamed "George Carlin Way"]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 08:26:02 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/george+carlin+way+morningside+heights.jpg

The late comedian George Carlin joined the list of notable New Yorkers to have street signs named after them with a ceremony Tuesday.

A section of West 121st Street in Morningside Heights near where the comedian grew up was renamed “George Carlin Way” Tuesday afternoon. Fellow comics Kevin Bartini and Colin Quinn joined city councilman Mark Levin, commentator Keith Olbermann and several of Carlin’s relatives at a ceremony marking the name change.

Carlin died in 2008.

Bartini and others fought for nearly a year to get the street renamed, according to the New York Times.

Initial efforts would have renamed the section of the street between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway, which the Times reports is where Carlin grew up. But Corpus Christi Church, also on that block, opposed the change. Carlin attended the church’s school and often targeted it in his humor.

Eventually the two sides compromised and the community board that oversees the neighborhood voted to rename the adjacent block, between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive, after Carlin.

<![CDATA[Bill Murray's Christmas Special on "Ellen"]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 08:24:30 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/ellen-bill-murray-christmas.jpg Legendary comedian Bill Murray makes his first appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." He reveals that he may be doing a Christmas Special with Sofia Coppola. And Ellen gifts Bill with a one-of-a-kind pair of Golf Pants that Bill tries on right on stage!

Photo Credit: The Ellen Degeneres Show]]>
<![CDATA[Renee Zellweger's Connecticut Estate's on the Market]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:48:43 -0400 back in the news and so is her Pomfret, Connecticut estate. The property had been listed with Coldwell Banker, but now it's listed for $1.6 million LandVest, according to E!. Click through the photo gallery to take a tour of Zellweger's renovated pad, which is the next property to leave her real estate portfolio. View the listing.]]> back in the news and so is her Pomfret, Connecticut estate. The property had been listed with Coldwell Banker, but now it's listed for $1.6 million LandVest, according to E!. Click through the photo gallery to take a tour of Zellweger's renovated pad, which is the next property to leave her real estate portfolio. View the listing.]]> http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP308970728575.jpg Renee Zellweger is back in the news and her Pomfret, Connecticut, state is on the market again. The property had been listed with Coldwell Banker, but now it's listed for $1.6 million LandVest, according to E!. Click through the photo gallery to take a tour of Zellweger's renovated pad, which is the next property to leave her real estate portfolio. View the listing.

Photo Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Sarah Jessica Parker Shoot Riles NYC Neighbors]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 07:54:50 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/455619946.jpg

Sarah Jessica Parker may have gotten “Carried” away when she put shoes outside of the New York townhouse that was the home of her “Sex and the City” character Carrie Bradshaw.

The actress agitated residents at 66 Perry St. in the West Village after staging a photo shoot for her SJP Collection shoe line on the stoop of the residence, Page Six reported. Images of the actress placing the shoes on the steps were posted to the Instagram account belonging to the shoe brand on October 7.

Tourists have been photographing and hanging around the stoop of the home, prompting its owners to put up a fence that reads: “Do NOT go on staircase please.”

However, the actress posted photos on Oct. 7 of herself leaning over the sign and placing the shoes beyond the fence.

"I heard about the shoot. They didn't get the permission from the owner. The situation with 'SATC' visitors is still very intense," Gerald Banu, president of the Perry Street Association, said to Page Six. "People who live here get upset that the sidewalks are constantly jammed."

Banu added that if a third “Sex and the City” ends up being released, "The only thing I could suggest to SJP is that when they write the next script, please have Carrie move to a new address." 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Zellweger: "Glad Folks Think I Look Different"]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:08:24 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP308970728575.jpg

Actress Renée Zellweger responded to speculation that she may have had plastic surgery, telling People magazine she looks different because she is healthier and happier than ever.

"I'm glad folks think I look different! I'm living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows," Zellweger, 45, told the magazine in a statement.

The Oscar-winner attended Elle Magazine’s annual Women in Hollywood party in Los Angeles on Monday, where her new facial features sparked Internet rumors that she went under the knife.

Zellweger did not tell People whether she had any work done, but attributed her fresh look to a lifestyle change. She called the conversation about her appearance "silly."

"My friends say that I look peaceful. I am healthy," she said. "For a long time I wasn't doing such a good job with that. I took on a schedule that is not realistically sustainable and didn't allow for taking care of myself. Rather than stopping to recalibrate, I kept running until I was depleted and made bad choices about how to conceal the exhaustion. I was aware of the chaos and finally chose different things."

The “Bridger Jones’ Diary” star, who’s dating musician Doyle Bramhall, said she’s leading a much quieter life, that allows for “being still, making a home, loving someone, learning new things, growing as a creative person and finally growing into myself.”

She recently finished shooting “The Whole Truth,” a drama thriller in which she co-stars with Keanu Reeves and James Belushi.

"People don't know me [as] healthy for a while," Zellweger told People. "Perhaps I look different. Who doesn't as they get older?! Ha. But I am different. I'm happy."

Photo Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
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<![CDATA["Constantine" Fires Up TV's Comic Obsession]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 21:25:23 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/NUP_163335_2768.JPG

In "Constantine," which debuts Friday on NBC, Matt Ryan plays the title character, an occult detective who wields hellfire to battle supernatural forces in a seemingly doomed effort to save his soul – and maybe even humankind.

But you don't have to be a detective, occult or otherwise, to see that the tormented, wisecracking character is part of a larger mission to change, if not outright save television. "Constantine" arrives to add fuel to what's become TV's blaze-of-glory season for comic book heroes.

The show, based on the Hellblazer comics, joins Fox's "Gotham" and CW's "The Flash" as the fall's new superhero-themed entries, adding to the ranks of ABC's "Agents of SHIELD" and CW's "Arrow." Meanwhile, Netflix is planning multiple shows based on second-tier Marvel characters, beginning with Daredevil, and TNT reportedly has ordered a pilot based on Titans, DC’s chronicle of young superheroes-in-waiting.

The box office success of superhero movies – four of the year’s top 10 flicks were based on comic book stars – explains much of the TV boom. But the proliferation of shows also speaks to the transforming tube, from efforts to grab younger audiences amid Internet competition to more adventurous storytelling in dramas like “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men.” TV superheroes have flown from the 1950s squeaky clean fun of “Adventures of Superman” to the 1960s Pop Art camp of “Batman” to the latter-day revisionist takes of “Lois and Clark” and “Smallville” to the current mix of action and darkness, reflecting times and tastes.

Television might not offer the special effects of the movies, but it provides the opportunity for stories to unfold more slowly – even for The Flash. There’s a potential to mine quality from ambitious character-driven tales like the Batman backstory drama, “Gotham,” which, like “Constantine,” largely lurks in shadows.

The shows share some comic book lineage: Hellblazer co-creator Alan Moore helped reinvent Batman as the darkest of knights. He’s also the writing force behind the epic graphic novel “Watchmen,” whose great movie version went underappreciated. Some fans might say the same for “Constantine,” the 2005 flick starring Keanu Reeves.

“Constantine” the TV show arrives without the instant name recognition of Spider-man or Superman, even if DC/Vertigo’s Hellblazer enjoys a devoted following. Still, lack of name recognition didn’t hurt the year’s biggest movie so far, “Guardians of the Galaxy,” a very different kind of tale, based on a relatively obscure Marvel series.

In the end, the strength of the story will save the day, if not John Constantine's soul. 


Jere Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multimedia NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Quantrell Colbert/NBC
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<![CDATA[Celeb Baby Boom: Djokovic is a Dad]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 07:59:07 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/212*120/AP177608011162.jpg See which celebrities are gearing up for parenthood in 2014.

Photo Credit: Joel Ryan/Invision/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Meredith Gives Jesse Tyler Ferguson "Sex For Dummies" ]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 08:02:11 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/meredith-vieira-jesse-modern-family.jpg Meredith Vieira gifts "Modern Family" star Jesse Tyler Ferguson a "Sex For Dummies" book after defeating him in a sex-themed spelling bee.

Photo Credit: The Meredith Vieira Show]]>
<![CDATA[Oscar de la Renta: Dressing the Stars]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:33:27 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/4884165351.jpg Oscar de la Renta made a name for himself beyond the runway, dressing countless celebrities, first ladies, and fashion icons.

Photo Credit: FilmMagic]]>
<![CDATA[Unbroken: Share Your Story of Strength]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:45:02 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/195*120/zamperini+louis+torch.jpg

Louis Zamperini was an Olympic runner, WWII veteran and POW survivor whose perseverance and courage in the face of inhumane conditions is remarkable. His life story makes us re-think what we should expect of ourselves.

To celebrate the upcoming release of the film "Unbroken", which tells Zamperini's story, we are looking for other people like him. People who have showed resilience and overcome adversity amid conditions where many would have given up. If you have a story to tell, let us know.

Submit your story here. It could be shared on the "Today" show during its upcoming #IamUnbroken week.

"Unbroken," directed by Angelina Jolie, is produced by Universal and will be in theaters starting Dec. 25.

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<![CDATA["Django" Actress, Boyfriend Charged With Lewd Conduct]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 05:55:02 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/actress+daniele+watts+detained+lapd.jpg

"Django Unchained" actress Daniele Watts and her boyfriend Brian James Lucas have each been charged with one count of lewd conduct for allegedly having sex in public moments before they were involved in an altercation with LAPD officers.

Each faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted on the misdemeanor charges, according to the Los Angeles City Attorney's office.

Watts, 28, and Lucas made headlines when they claimed Watts' brief detention outside the CBS Studio Center in Studio City last month was the result of racial profiling. Watts is black and Lucas is white.

Sgt. Jim Parker, the LAPD officer who responded to the scene in the 11900 block of Ventura Boulevard after nearby workers and residents reported a couple engaging in lewd behavior, later released an audio recording of his version of the incident.

The recorded version differed substantially from Watts' account.

Photos showing the couple in compromising positions in the passenger seat of a silver Mercedes were also released by witnesses. They were posted to the website TMZ.

Activists who initially called on the department to apologize to the couple later backtracked and called on Watts and Lucas to retract their statements, after the audiotape and photographs surfaced.

They are both slated to be arraigned Nov. 13.

Watts and Lucas will be notified by mail to appear in court in Van Nuys in three weeks. Because it is not a felony, just a misdemanor, she need not appear in person, but can have an attorney handle it for her. Her publicist told NBC4 she and Lucas were planning to get legal advice Tuesday afternoon, and will make no comment until they've done that.

Watts declined a request to speak with NBC4.

Watts and Lucas released a statement Tuesday night saying, "We are, quite frankly, appalled and disturbed that the LA prosecutors office has chosen to file these charges against us. The LAPD has previously issued a statement saying that there was no crime committed. If a passionate public embrace while displaying no nudity is grounds for having charges filed against you, then we'd expect that everyone who engages in an extended public display of affection with their loved one will be targeted as well. Sergeant Parker is still under investigation for his conduct and filing misdemeanor charges against us does not change his behavior.”

Her statement makes reference to LAPD investigating Parker. The key area that Chief Charlie Beck raised as a concern is not Parker's handling of the encounter, though that is being investigated, but the appropriateness of his releasing the audio recording.

The audio recorders that some officers carry are not department issue - officers buy their own. Policy is not clear whether officers are free to make their recordings public. Commander Andrew Smith said that issue is still under investigation. Parker's job could lose his job because he made the recording public without permission.

Parker also released a statement: "The support from all of the officers in the past six weeks who have contacted me and expressed their support for what I am doing and for what I am bringing to the public's attention only confirms that I am doing the right thing. All of the support from the community and the letters lets me know what I knew all along and that is that I did the right thing. All of the support only validates that I did the right thing and I would do it again if I had to do. Thank you."

Robert Kovacik contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Celebrities React to Oscar de la Renta's Death]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 16:08:40 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/78148902.jpg

Oscar de la Renta was one of the most celebrated and famed fashion designers and couturiers in the world.

As news spread of his death Monday night, celebrities and fans alike mourned the loss of the acclaimed fashion designer.

Vogue's Anna Wintour honored the designer Tuesday in an essay posted on the fashion magazine’s website.

“There is much being said that his passing yesterday marks the end of an era,” Wintour began. “This strength must have been with him in the hospital last week when he made the decision to turn off treatment; it was not the quality of life he wanted.”

Wintour wrote that his final words to her were “I love you, and I said I love you back.”

She also reflected on the relationship between de la Renta and his wife, Annette, of 25 years.

"Theirs was the greatest, most life-enhancing love affair," Wintour said. "Last week in the hospital he said that she never wears the beautiful jewelry he gave her, and she said simply, 'I have you.'"

Sarah Jessica Parker said in a statement to E!: "Knowing that sadly none of us will have more time with the beloved and resplendent Oscar de la Renta only enhances my exuberant appreciation of the time he gave, the talent he shared and the friendship he allowed."

Celebrities and members of the fashion industry took to social media to offer their condolences.


The Gentleman of Fashion you will always be !!! R I P @oscarprgirl @OscarPRGirl #Oscar de la Renta ��

A photo posted by Naomi Campbell (@iamnaomicampbell) on

De la Renta has dressed practically every woman in public life. His clothes were classic, elegant, feminine and flattering —which explains why so many first ladies have chosen him to dress them for those historic moments.

On Tuesday morning, “Today” contributing correspondent Jenna Bush Hager talked about the late designer and how she felt wearing a custom wedding gown from him.

Most recently, Amal Clooney chose a gown created by de la Renta for her wedding to George Clooney, evidence of his prominence.

Photo Credit: WireImage
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<![CDATA[Here's to Oscar de la Renta]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 08:50:06 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/oscar-AP22989790063.jpg

"Here's to the ladies who lunch," sang Elaine Stritch in the Stephen Sondheim musical "Company."

It's a fitting refrain for designer Oscar de la Renta, who dressed women atop the social hierarchy from New York to Paris in his singular vision of opulent and luxurious glamour for more than five decades.

A legend of American fashion, de la Renta died Monday of complications from cancer. He was 82.

Attending a showing by de la Renta during New York Fashion Week came with a sense of occasion. From the simple invitation printed on heavy stock to the unadorned venues, the clothing was always the focus: be it a decadently ruched or draped evening gown in fuchsia, or chic suit for day in wool bouclé. His front rows were occupied by those who did indeed lunch at Le Cirque, the Colony Club and La Côte Basque, but also by today's corporate titans, movie stars and pop icons.

Free of the histrionics that accompany much of what comprises modern fashion, de la Renta was a style constant in an industry obsessed with the next big thing. Not that he was ever stagnant, as a designer or as a business entrepreneur. But like those fabled ladies, his clothes carried a sense of old-world manners, of feminine allure, of a time when dressing meant more than throwing on any old, or new, thing. For de la Renta, being appropriately attired was key.

"I am not interested in shock tactics. I just want to make beautiful clothes," he once told reporters, though he was never foolish enough to believe that the garment was ne plus ultra. "A runway is spectacle," de la Renta said per The New York Times. "It’s only fashion when a woman puts it on."

It was the women, his customers, for whom he worked so hard: Whether a jet-set dowager slipping on his narrow-shouldered jackets and buttoning up his silk taffeta gowns, or a corporate-ladder-climbing New York denizen splurging on a wedding-perfect cocktail dress from his diffusion line for Saks or Bergdorfs.

With one gracefully shod foot planted in the past—born in the Dominican Republic, he worked for Paris couture houses including Balenciaga and Lanvin in the 1950s and '60s before launching his namesake collection in New York in 1965—de la Renta continually stepped forward to embrace modernity in all its forms, be it the latest in fabric innovation or the hot social media platform

He dressed four American first ladies: Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and, for the first time only a month before his passing, Michelle Obama. His most recent sartorial coup was to outfit human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin for her September wedding to Hollywood actor George Clooney in Venice.

De la Renta was a favorite of fashion icon and former Vogue and Harper's Bazaar editor Diana Vreeland, as he was with Anna Wintour, the current editor-in-chief of American Vogue. Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Executive Director Fern Mallis called him "the sultan of suave."

To most Americans he was, and will remain, a one name brand. Like Calvin (Klein), Ralph (Lauren), Halston, (Geoffrey) Beene, Isaac (Mizrahi) or (Bill) Blass, in fashion parlance there is only one Oscar.

To paraphrase Sondheim and those elegantly attired ladies: Here's to Mr. de la Renta. Everybody rise.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Watch: Singing Nun Covers "Like a Virgin"]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:28:00 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/450142556.jpg

A nun who became an Internet celebrity with her performances of pop songs in full habit on Italy's version of musical competition "The Voice" has released an unexpected cover as her debut single.

Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” isn’t the first thing you would associate with anyone religious — with lines like “touched for the very first time.” But Sister Cristina Scuccia, who will release her debut album on Nov. 11 after winning the singing competition earlier this year, said her cover was meant to show a new meaning to the hit song.

“Reading the text, without being influenced by previous interpretations, you discover that it is a song about the power of love to renew people [and] rescue them from their past,” the nun said to Italian newspaper Avvenire.

Scuccia’s rendition is a slow tempo ballad accompanied with a video set in Venice featuring various landmarks and the singer wearing her trademark habit.

Scuccia said to the paper that she didn’t think Madonna had heard her cover.

“I’d like to see her face when they tell her it’s a nun singing,” she said.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Oscar de la Renta: A Legendary Catwalk Career]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 08:37:19 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/172*120/AP972515234086.jpg Oscar de la Renta was the doyen of American fashion. Spanning five decades, his career on the catwalks was a showcase of restrained glamour and luxurious elegance.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[From "Annie" to "Star Wars": 10 Hollywood Makeovers]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:09:05 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/DF-03522.jpg

When it comes to Hollywood, everything old can be remade anew.

That's certainly the case with recent news of "Rainbow Brite" and "Jem and the Holograms" being revamped for modern audiences, "Labyrinth" getting a sequel (sadly only a rumor) and the first glimpse of a re-imagined "Thunderbirds" (no longer with strings attached).

For those quick to shout, "No! How dare they ruin what was already great!" It's hard to ignore the success already this year of rebooted versions of "Rosemary's Baby" (transported to Paris and transferred to the small screen), "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" (Michelangelo and Donatello got the CGI treatment and became one of Halloween's most popular costumes) and yet another sequel to an already reworked Spider-Man franchise.

And who would lament a further installment of "Star Wars" starring the original leads, or a return visit to "Jurassic Park" featuring Chris Pratt and the latest in computer generated imagery?

Here are 10 upcoming reboots, refreshes, remakes or reimaginings (call them what you will) to get excited about:

"Rainbow Brite"

The iconic 1980s cartoon returns to Feeln for a limited series run on November 6, with Emily Osment voicing the titular character who is on a quest to save Rainbowland from dark powers. Molly Ringwald provides the voice of the evil Dark Princess. Starlite and the Color Kids are also along for the ride. The original version ran from 1984 to 1986.

"Jurassic World"

Steven Spielberg helmed the first "Jurassic Park" back in 1993 and it spawned two sequels. There's been rumors of a fourth installment since "Jurassic Park 3" roared into cinemas in 2001. Colin Trevorrow ("Safety Not Guaranteed") is directing the latest chapter which is set 22 years after the first movie and according to the official synopsis, "Isla Nublar now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by John Hammond," where staff conduct "behavioral research on the Velociraptors. After many years, Jurassic World’s attendance rates begin to decline and a new attraction, created to re-spark visitor interest, gravely backfires." Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are the leads and the film is set to bite into the box office on June 12, 2015.

"Thunderbirds Are Go"

The iconic British series from the 1960s featured marionettes and complex miniature sets and rescue crafts. The show follows the adventures of International Rescue, a group set up by ex- astronaut Jeff Tracy, his five sons, who pilot the Thunderbird craft, and London Agent Lady Penelope (to be voiced by "Gone Girl's" Rosamund Pike in the revamp). 26 half-hour episodes of "Thunderbirds Are Go!" have been made, this time featuring a mix of computer generated imagery and miniatures in an effort to retain the style of the original. One episode was screened in October at the MIP Junior Television Industry Conference in Cannes to tease the return, which is set for a spring 2015 premiere on British television. No U.S. release date has been announced.

"Jem and the Holograms"

Universal Studio's live action adaptation of the beloved 1980s cartoon will hit theaters on October 23, 2015, and like the source material will focus on Jerrica Benton and her musical alter ego Jem who transitions from small-town girl to international superstar. "Nashville" actor Aubrey Peeples is Benton/Jem, with a supporting cast featuring Stefanie Scott, Aurora Perrineau, and Hayley Kiyoko as the Holograms, along with Ryan Guzman. Molly Ringwald and Juliette Lewis also appear.


Quvenzhané Wallis ("Beasts of the Southern Wild") tackles the role of the singing orphan who melts the heart of a hard-nosed billionaire in this big screen update of the classic stage musical and 1982 movie adaptation. Left by her parents as a baby at a New York City orphanage with the promise that they’d be back for her someday, Annie must outwit horrible foster mom Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz stepping in for the earlier movie's Carol Burnett), and charm New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) who makes a thinly-veiled campaign move by taking Annie in. Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale also star in this modern-day retelling of a hard knock life turned sunny that hits theaters just in time for Christmas on December 19.


Along with "Terminator" (see below), "Ghostbusters" celebrated its 30th anniversary this year and as a gift to fans Sony Pictures is bring the franchise out of retirement for a reboot. If that's not enough to get loyalists shouting "Who You Gonna Call?", director Paul Feig took to Twitter on October 8 to announce his involvement with the project and this time around, the movie will star "hilarious women." Cue the rumors and let the lobbying begin with Hollywood stars including Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig already on audience's wish lists of who should step into the paranormal-hunting shoes of Venkman, Stantz and Spengler. Shooting is tentatively scheduled to begin in early 2015.

"Star Wars: Episode VII"

By the time the latest outing of the "Star Wars" franchise hits cinemas on December 18, 2015, more than a decade will have passed since episode four ("Revenge of the Sith") came out of hyperspace starring Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Hayden Chistensen as young Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. In between, fans have had two animated TV series ("The Clone Wars" and 2014's "Star Wars: Rebels"), but nothing to match the excitement generated by the latest big screen addition helmed by J.J. Abrams ("Lost," the 2009 "Star Trek" reboot) that picks up 30 years after the end of the first trilogy (episode six: "Return of the Jedi") and features Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill reprising their iconic roles alongside new castmembers Gwendoline Christie, Adam Driver, Lupita Nyong'o and Domhnall Gleeson. Little is known regarding plot or storyline, but fans have been treated to sneak peeks of the Millennium Falcon (with a Batman twist) and new creatures via social media-savvy Abrams. "Episode VII" lands December 18, 2015.

"Independence Day 2"

The 1996 original starred Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Randy Quaid, Mary McDonnell, Brent Spiner, James Duval and Vivica A. Fox. Due to hit screens in 2016, director Roland Emmerich is returning to helm the sequel and confirmed some of the original film's characters will be back, but not lead Smith. In an odd move Fox moved the release date for the film from the obviously perfect July 4 Holiday weekend to June 24, 2016. No reason was given.

"Terminator: Genisys"

Though James Cameron has no direct involvement in the latest reboot of the franchise he created 30 years ago with "Terminator," the director told Deadline he wanted to put in a good word for returning star Arnold Schwarzenegger and offered up some advice to the producer of the new film on how to deal with the actor's now advanced age (67). "I pointed out that the outer covering (of the Terminator) was actually not synthetic, that it was organic and therefore could age," Cameron said. "You could theoretically have a Terminator that was sent back in time, missed his target, and ended up just kind of living on in society. Because he is a learning computer and has a brain as a central processor he could actually become more human as he went along without getting discovered." "Terminator" and Schwarzenegger will be back July 1, 2015.


Warner Bros is bringing the famed swinger back to the big screen in a big-budget, live-action remake which stars "True Blood's" Alexander Skarsgård as Tarzan/the Earl of Greystoke who, having acclimated to life in London, is called back to his former home in the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment according to IMDB. Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie, Christoph Waltz, Djimon Honsou and John Hurt also star in the film, which is set to be released on July 1, 2016.

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<![CDATA["Royals" Radio War for World Series]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:25:00 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP518057996670.jpg

There is no room for anything Royals-related in San Francisco, and that includes "Royals."

The 2013 pop hit from Lorde has been removed from at least two Bay Area radio stations going into the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals.

In response, a Kansas City station vowed to put the song into heavy rotation to counter the "anti-Royals spirit."

San Francisco's KFOG acted first in announcing its "Royals" ban last week.

"Why send any positive vibes to Kansas City?" asked Jim Richards, KFOG's program director. "Why not give the song a rest? No one is going to get hurt over it."

Richards told NBC Bay Area that the powers that be decided to remove the song from KFOG's rotation "as the [Giants] players were chugging beers" Thursday night.

The station's move inspired KOIT to follow suit. 

"Our listeners told us to do it, so we did it! As of 4pm today we've removed Lorde- Royals from the our playlist until the end of the World Series," KOIT Program Director Brian Figula wrote on their site. "Go Giants, beat the Royals!"

New Zealand-born Lorde, who at 17 still has plenty of time to pick a different team, has confirmed that her song was in fact at least partially inspired by a National Geographic photo of Royals legend George Brett signing autographs.

Kansas City-based radio station 99.7 “The Point” said that as a result of KOIT’s decision, they will put Lorde’s hit “into the highest rotation” for the Oct. 21 opening night of the World Series.

It will be played “on the hour, every hour” from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

“I respect the work of Mr. Brian Figula, 96.5 KOIT Program Director, and his team of broadcast professionals at our sister stations in San Francisco, but we won’t let their anti-Royals spirit ruin this moment,” said program director Tony Lorino. “A few angry San Franciscans who don’t have a song called ‘Giants’ won’t rain on our parade.”

Photo Credit: Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP]]>