Show Business with Dr. Mike Lano
My pick for 2013's best reality show is FXX's Being: Mike Tyson. Mike may have been a polarizing figure, but he's grown and become both a sensitive, highly-educative person and tv/film/stage entertainer. Besides prominent movie roles like The Hangover, he continues interesting Hollywood to continually make documentaries and reality shows about him.
I attended both pre- and post-Spike Lee directed versions of Undisputed Truth, Mike's one-man Broadway show that's touring North America, and talked with him and his wonderful wife Kiki in the dressing room after his Oakland Fox Theatre event, before an array of celebrities and boxing greats held court with The Champ. Mike made sure to take pictures with everyone who wanted them as well as with his fans hours after that. "Who would've thought I'd be at the Tony Awards this year, singing and dancing on-stage?" And doing stand-up with Jeff Ross, who's one of the best comics out there. I've gotten more comfortable with who I am now in showbiz."
His Undisputed Truth-filmed special debuts on HBO and shows his rangesta. From crushingly not really knowing his mother's true history amidst abject poverty growing up to stealing and getting into trouble. That is until kindly but crusty legendary boxing trainer Cus D'Amato pointed Mike in the right direction in amateur and pro sports, besides adopting him. Cus died just as Mike was going global "and that loss just crushed me. I was never the same and it just haunted me. I later acted out and did bad things but since meeting my current wife and having her help me remain sober while becoming a better person, I know I'm on the right road now."
Mike is sensitive enough to be beware of hangers-on and those who just want to absorb some of his star aura. "Boxing promoter Don King and others just used me like they did others. And caused so much pain and heartache."
"I don't want people thinking they might know me if all they know is the Iron Mike from my old matches or the media that enswirled me as a young kid. I'm different now, more in tune with the world and sensitive to everyone else on the planet. More in touch with who I am now and want to become. It's a struggle every day but I've really come a long way. This is who I am and who I want people to know. I'm Michael Gerard Tyson the person, not ‘Iron Mike the pop-culture character.' I continue being a work in progress, but I'm at peace and really appreciating what's most important: my family."
Doctor Kiki really cares about Mike and their children and I've seen it at other private events. She's truly been a positive, loving influence for him and has no desire to be in the spotlight. "The spotlight I enjoy now is hopefully entertaining people, but more importantly making them think about becoming better, kinder people. I'm doing it to support my family, but my most cherished times are with them at home, no cameras around."
November 2013This truly is the modern Golden-Age-of-Television we're all thankful for this Thanksgiving. Many returning talented stars from Broadway and film include Michael J Fox, Robin Williams, Andie MacDowell, Rebel Wilson, Toni Collette, James Caan and more. Wow!
Honorary Oscars next February will go to Steve Martin and Angela Lansbury for their respective bodies of work plus to Angelina Jolie for her global humanitarian efforts. Martin began selling magic tricks and playing banjo at Disneyland before going on to write for CBS' Smothers Brothers show. I photographed his first comedy gig at L.A.'s Troubadour the same year Elton John packed this famous club. Martin the past five years has unselfishly given $50,000 and Letterman show appearance to the top new banjo undiscovered talent and he and Edie Brickell were the top musical act at San Francisco's annual Hardly, Strictly Bluegrass Festival I cover. Totally free event as were views of the America's Cup race along our Embarcadero. A thrilling win for Larry Ellison's Oracle/Team USA that got huge ratings after a slow month that saw America's team not only busted and fined for alleged cheating, but that incredible come-from-behind series. The funny thing is all but two of Team USA's crew are from New Zealand, which was the team we played and who should've beaten us before our comeback.
E's Total Divas reality show about WWE lady wrestlers remains ratings gold. WWE men's champ Daniel Bryan and Divas star Brie-Bella recently became engaged and they're a major story arc on both scripted RAW(Mondays, USA) besides Divas. The grappling groom said "we're getting married next spring and yep, cameras will be there for it. Not everything though!" WWE's opposition, TNA Impact (Thursdays, Spike) has a great talent roster too from former Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle to flying females and speedy junior-heavyweights. Fox-Sports-One and FXX still air new, incredible MMA shows.
TVLand recently aired a 1965 episode of Sally Field's Gidget featuring her friends Bonnie Franklin, Barbara Hershey and Katherine Ross! Major star-power!
Not only did Joy Behar leave ABC's The View, but the following week her daily show on Current Network ended when Al Jazeera America took over the channel originally founded by Al Gore. AJA says "we wanted to clean house and start with a fresh slate of mostly international news programs." Many had hoped they'd retain some of Current's better news/talk shows like Joy's, but they appear to have eliminated all that was "Current."
DirecTV's new Dog Channel is fun viewing even if you're not 4-legged!
It's time for more industry terms.
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TV insiders are still talking about NBC's alleged planned ouster of Jay Leno next year, replacing him with Late Night host Jimmy Fallon and moving The Tonight Show from L.A. back to New York where it began. One NBC former exec joked "in case things don't work out with Jimmy, they could pitch to Letterman just down the street from the new Tonight Show studio since Dave was Johnny Carson's succession choice in the first place!"
With Tax Day around the corner most stars and tv folks are doing the stress dance with their accountants. The same could be said for ABC censors.
Speaking of reality tv, it's quietly been taking a small ratings hit overall in favor of scripted programs. For example, surveyed viewers prefer DWTS newbies rather than last season's all-star returnees.Loved E!'s recurring spoof of The Bachelor (Burning Love) with some name stars like Kristen Bell portraying fake female contestants. Comedy Central's Jeff Ross vehicle, The Burn returns for a third great season, although at press time E! isn't sure about Whitney Cummings Love You, Mean It. Last time I interviewed her, she said "juggling three tv shows all at the same time is insane!" Kudos for her non-stop work ethic while saluting her mentor Chelsea Handler.
An update from last month: it's now just The Artie Lange Show, but he's beefed up the comics on the show, like with my pal, the hilarious Rev. Bob Levy. Both he and Artie were long-timers on The Howard Stern show.
Ultra-HD TV was one of the highlights at the recent Consumer Electronics Show. Some manufacturers claim their resolution will be four or more times clearer than current 1080p sets, especially for larger screen sizes like LG's 84", $20,000, Ultra-HD TV. As with most TV technology, prices will decrease quickly with time. The big question is whether people will adopt it widely or treat it similarly to the incredible 3D-TV movement which still needs a larger audience to be more than a novelty. Many say four to eight times resolution looks great at any distance and gives the effect of 3D anyway but without the glasses. With more than eight million pixels, these TVs really deliver amazing images of bodies of water, blades of grass, even individual snowflakes. As with 3D, unless you have DirecTV there's not enough content out there yet, but Ultra-HD sets can convert what you're already watching. By the way, some 50" 3D -TVs are now selling for less than $900, a third of their original price. And with free glasses that don't need to be charged! DirecTV 3D content I've viewed includes extreme snow sports, animals and basketball.
Amongst the other 19,999 products launched at CES are several voice-command-integrated TVs. Samsung's new F8000LED "understands" and responds to vocal search requests like "find a movie about the making of television". LG's 55" GA7900 Google TV may cost as little as $1500 USD.
Here's hoping MMA in 3D is next. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson was upset that cameras cut his farewell-to-UFC speech after possibly his last fight for the organization (which has great programming on Fox, FX and Fuel Nets). Competitor Bellator is on Spike with the newest recruit in the colorful and talented King Mo who originally worked for Zuffa/UFC's Strikeforce. Mo will be doing double-duty also in wrestling rings for TNA Impact (Thursdays on Spike). Since Rampage grew up on Jerry "The King" Lawler and classic Memphis Wrestling (the number one show in that entire market for decades on Saturdays), maybe he'll join that other "king" there too!
Get well wishes to UFC boss Dana White after major surgery.
Recently interviewed Mad About You star Paul Reiser who remains proud of his long-time co-star Helen Hunt and her work in The Sessions, which might bring her an Academy Award. "I started doing stand-up again just because I enjoy doing it so much again after not having done it in years. I was asked to do a recent charity event and had so much fun, I called some clubs in California and Florida and got myself booked." Reiser took time off from TV to enjoy his family and ended up writing another great book about it, Familyhood.
Audience Network (239) has been airing the syndicated Nick & Artie Show Friday nights. First-class comics Nick DiPaolo (a regular on FX's Louie) and Artie Lange (MADtv, The Howard Stern Show and NY Times best-selling author) broadcast their wild national radio show, skewing sports and pop-culture news from arguably the greatest studio ever created by Man Cave and NFL star Tony Siragusa. Maxim girls and celeb pals round out this amazing wild ride. Parental discretion advised!
January 2013, Satellite Direct 1st Annual DeeTeeVee Awards
In no particular order:
Louie, Homeland, Later...with Jools Holland, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Modern Family, South Park, The Simpsons, Walking Dead, Extreme Couponers, The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, Bill Maher, RAW, Boardwalk Empire, Anderson Cooper 360, Joy Behar: Say Anything, 30 Rock, Rock Center, The Big C, Ricky Gervais' An Idiot Abroad and Life's Too Short; PBS' Nature, Ed Sullivan specials and Jacques Pépin shows; World Series coverage over on Fox, HBO and Showtime boxing, Ultimate Fighter, and the sadly cancelled Treme and Boss.
What else are we leaving out? Good Wife or Chelsea Lately anyone? Hallmark, Lifetime and Ion worked overtime in delivering tons of great holiday movies last month and get New Year's thanks. Sorry Weeds, not this year.
A long time outstanding favorite remains the classic CBS Sunday Morning, which has the best mix of vignettes, important stories and "Moments of Nature."
2012's best show of 2011: Curb Your Enthusiasm