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The following industry personalities (listed in alphabetical order) passed away in 2016 and heartfelt condolences are extended to their families, friends and fans:

Mohammad Ali (Boxing Legend)
René Angélil (Music Impresario and Céline Dion’s husband)

Kenny Baker (The Man Behind R2-D2 in “Star Wars”)
David Bowie (Legendary Singer)
Dave Brubeck (Legendary Jazz Musician)

Charmain Carr (Actress, “Liesl” from The Sound of Music)
Fidel Castro (Revolutionary leader and Cuba’s former President)
William Christopher (Actor, “Father Mulcahy” on M*A*S*H*)
Chyna (Former WWE Wrestler)
Leonard Cohen (Singer-Songwriter, Poet and Novelist)
Natalie Cole (Singer)
Pat Conroy (Author, “The Prince of Tides” and “The Great Santini”)

Gloria DeHaven (Actress from Golden Age of Hollywood)
Daniel Dion (Celine Dion’s brother)
Jerry Doyle (Actor, “Babylon 5”)
Larry Drake (Actor, “L.A. Law”)
Patty Duke (Legendary Actress)

Ronnie Claire Edwards (Actress, “The Waltons”)

Joey Feek (Country Singer from Duo Joey + Rory)
Fyvush Finkel (Actor, “Picket Fences” and “Boston Public”)
Carrie Fisher (Actress, Princess Leia in Star Wars franchise)
Tommy Ford (Actor “Martin” and “The Parkers”)
Bernard Fox (Veteran Actor)
Glenn Fry (Guitarist and Singer “The Eagles”)

Zsa Zsa Gabor (Veteran Actress)
Michael Galeota (Disney Star) [he was only 31]
George Gaynes (Character Actor, “Punky Brewster,” “Tootsie” and “Police Academy”)
David Gest (Music Producer)
Gary Glasberg (NCIS Showrunner)
Ron Glass (Actor, “Barney Miller” and “Firefly”)
John Glenn (Former Astronaut and U.S. Senator)
Christina Grimmie (“The Voice” Competitor) [She was only 22]
Reg Grundy (Australian Media Mogul)

Merle Haggard (Country Music Legend)
Dan Haggerty (Actor, “Grizzly Adams”)
Earl Hamner (Creator of “The Waltons”)
Curtis Hanson (Director, “L.A. Confidential”)
Pat Harrington (Actor, “One Day at a Time”)
Florence Henderson (Actress, “The Brady Bunch”)
Steven Hill (Actor, “Law & Order” and original TV series “Mission: Impossible”)
Arthur Hiller (Director, “Love Story)
Robert Horton (Actor, “Wagon Train”)
Ken Howard (SAG-AFTRA President and Former Actor “White Shadow”)
Gordie Howe (Hockey Legend)
Beth Howland (Actress, “Alice”)
David Huddleston (Veteran Character Actor, “The Big Lebowski”)

Barry Jenner (Actor, “Family Matters” and “Dallas”)

Paul Kantner (Founding Member of Jefferson Airplane)
George Kennedy (Veteran Actor, “Airport”)

Harper Lee (Author, “To Kill a Mockingbird”)
Ron Lester (Actor, “Popular” and “Varsity Blues”)

Jerry Maren (Actor, “Wizard of Oz”) [the last of the Munchkins]
David Margulies (Actor, “Ghostbusters”]
Garry Marshall (Legendary Director)
George Martin (Beatles Producer)
Joseph Mascolo (Veteran Actor, “Days of Our Lives”)
Michael Massee (Actor, “The Crow” and “24”)
John McLaughlin (Host, “The McLaughlin Group”)
George Michael (Singer)

Noel Neill (Actress, the original Lois Lane from the 1950’s “Superman” TV series)
Agnes Nixon (Creator of All My Children and One Life to Live)
Marni Nixon (“Ghost Singer” for Deborah Kerr in The King and I; Natalie Wood in West Side Story and Audrey Hepburn in Fair Lady)
James Noble (Actor, “Benson”)
Bill Nunn (Character Actor, “Do the Right Thing”)

Hugh O’Brian (Veteran Actor, “The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp”)

Arnold Palmer (Golf Legend)
Jon Polito (Character Actor “The Big Lebowski” and “Miller’s Crossing”)
Prince (Legendary Musician, Singer and Songwriter)

Nancy Reagan (Former First Lady)
Janet Reno (First Female U.S. Attorney General)
Debbie Reynolds (Legendary Actress)
Alan Rickman (Veteran Actor)
Jack Riley (Actor, “The Bob Newhart Show”)
Doris Roberts (Veteran Actress)

Morley Safer (Legendary “60 Minutes” Reporter)
Theresa Saldana (Actress, “Raging Bull”)
Joe Santos (Actor, “Rockford Files”)
John Saunders (ESPN Commentator)
Antonin Scalia (Supreme Court Justice)
William Schallert (Veteran Actor and Former SAG President)
Garry Shandling (Actor and Comedian)
Jim Simpson (Sportscaster)
Frank Sinatra, Jr.
David Smyrl (Actor, “Sesame Street”)

Alan Thicke (Actor, “Growing Pains”)
Grant Tinker (Former NBC Chairman-CEO and Founder of MTM Enterprises)

Vanity (aka Denise Katrina Matthews) (Lead singer of 80’s girl group Vanity 6)
Peter Vaughan (Veteran Actor, “Game of Thrones”)
Robert Vaughn (Actor, “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”)
Abe Vigoda (Actor, “Barney Miller”)

Janet Waldo (Voice actress for Judy Jetson from “The Jetsons”)
Tom Whedon (Father of Joss Whedon)
Maurice White (Founder of Earth, Wind & Fire)
Elie Wiesel (Nobel Prize-Winning Author)
Gene Wilder (Veteran Actor, “Willy Wonka” and “Young Frankenstein”)
Van Williams (Actor, “The Green Hornet”)

Anton Yelchin (Actor, “Star Trek”) [He was only 27]
Alan Young (Veteran Actor, “Mister Ed” Star)

NOTE: This list, in no way, covers all the industry talent who passed away this year. Again, condolences are extended to one and all.

Out of respect, please take a moment of silence.

TOMORROW: Ratings

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I have been putting together my year-end round-ups on all things entertainment industry related for over a decade now. Just thinking about how long I have been compiling these round-ups is surprising to me. As I have said before, every year it is an interesting experience keeping track of the unique events that take place in the world of entertainment.

Of course, it’s impossible to focus on every single thing that has happened over the past year, but I sure do enjoy focusing on all the good things that have taken place throughout the year.

I have been a big fan of television since I was a child, becoming “the walking encyclopedia of the entertainment industry” (at least for my small hometown back in Pennsylvania) by the time I was in my mid-teens. In fact, I like to joke that I was IMDB before IMDB existed. But, I also love reading, and for the past decade I have set a goal for myself to read at least 20 books a year.

For avid book readers that total is pretty small, but given the fact that my small business is just going into its second year of existence, all the freelance writing I do throughout the year and – well, real life – getting through 20 books is a lot for me.

Among the books that I enjoyed the most this year included a trilogy of books by authors Susan Mallery, Veronica Roth and Nora Roberts as well as several Jane Austen inspired books by Alexandra Potter and Kaitlyn Saunders. I also really enjoyed Deadly Heat by Richard Castle, The Heirloom Girls by Chris Culler and the Diana Gabaldon novel Voyager (in preparation for season three of Outlander).

Just like last year I attended Paley Fest in Los Angeles, but unlike every other year for the past few years, I only attended one panel for Supergirl. I also enjoyed attending WonderCon and Comic Con; a panel for the Syfy TV series 12 Monkeys at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills as well as the Paley Center’s annual Preview Parties for each of the five major networks. As a big fan of Outlander, I also got to see the cast and creative minds behind the show in March as well as the Outlander Exhibit at the Paley Center

That’s enough about me, though. Starting tomorrow my first year-end round-up focusing on the best and worst of television will go live and for each day throughout the rest of the year I will spotlight the year that was: 2016.

NOTE: I apologize in advance for any omissions, spelling errors or oversights I may have made, but I don’t apologize for any of the choices I made.

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The following industry personalities (listed in alphabetical order) passed away in 2015 and heartfelt condolences are extended to their families, friends and fans:

Frank Albanese (Actor, The Sopranos)
Jayne Meadows Allen (Comedian and Actress)
Lynn Anderson (Country Singer)

Yogi Berra (New York Yankees Legend)
James Best (Actor, The Dukes of Hazzard)
Theodore Bikel (Actor, Fiddler On The Roof)
Khan Bonfils (British Actor Star Wars and James Bond franchises
Martin E. Brooks (Actor, Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman)
Bobbi Kristina Brown (Daughter of the late Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown) [She was only 22]

David Canary (Actor, All My Children)
Judy Carne (Laugh-In Star)
David Carr (New York Times Critic and Media Columnist)
Jack Carter (Comedic Actor)
Brian Clemens (Writer/Producer of TV’s The Avengers)
George Coe (Original SNL Member and Archer Voice Actor)
Jackie Collins (Romance Novelist)
Former Child Actor (and TV Producer) Kevin Corcoran, “Old Yeller”
Catherine “The Log Lady” Coulson (Actress, Twin Peaks)
Yvonne Craig (Actress, Batgirl on Batman)
Wes Craven (Director, Scream and Nightmare on Elm Street)
Jonathan Crombie (Canadian actor from Anne of Green Gables movies)
Andrae Crouch (Gospel Singer)
Suzanne Crough (Actress, The Partridge Family)

Jean Darling (Actress, Our Gang)
Little Jimmy Dickens (Legendary Country Singer)
Donna Douglas (Actress, The Beverly Hillbillies)
Richard Dysart (Actor, L.A. Law)

Anita Ekberg (Legendary Actress)

Joe Franklin (TV Talk Show Pioneer)
Stan Freberg (Satirist and Looney Tunes Voice Actor)

Frank Gifford (Sportscaster and NFL Hall of Famer)
Samuel Goldwyn, Jr. (Son of Hollywood Mogul)
Lesley Gore (Singer-Songwriter “It’s My Party”)
John Guillermin (British Director, The Towering Inferno and 1976’s King Kong)

Edward Hermann (Actor Gilmore Girls and Lost Boys)
James Horner (Film Composer “Titanic”)

Marty Ingels (Comic Actor and Industry Raconteur) [and husband of Legendary Shirley Jones]

Doug Jones (Actor, The Love Bug)
Louis Jourdan (Veteran Actor, Gigi)

Mary Doyle Keefe (Model for “Rosie the Riveter” in the Normal Rockefeller painting)
B.B. King (Blues Legend)
Ben K. King (Legendary Singer, “Stand By Me”)

Jack Larson (Veteran Actor, The Adventures of Superman)
Christopher Lee (Actor The Lord of the Rings)
Cynthia Lennon (John Lennon’s first wife and mother of Julian Lennon)
Geoffrey Lewis (Actor, High Plains Drifter and Any Which Way You Can) [Father of actress Juliette Lewis]
Robert Loggia (Veteran Actor)

Nathaniel Marston (Actor, One Life to Live)
Colleen McCullough (Best-Selling Author, “The Thorn Birds”)
Patrick Macnee (Actor, Avengers)
Anne Meara (Comedian-Actress) [Ben Stiller’s mom]
Windell Middlebrooks (Actor, Body of Proof) [He was only 36}
Martin Milner (Actor, Adam-12 and Route 66)
Al Molinaro (Actor, Happy Days)
Ron Moody (Actor, Original box office movie Oliver!)
Dickie Moore (Actor, Little Rascals)
Harry Morgan (Actor, MASH)
Bess Myerson (Former Miss America and TV Personality)

Taylor Negron (Actor-Comedian)
Leonard Nimoy (Legendary Actor)
Patricia Norris (Costume Designer)

Maureen O’Hara (Legendary Actress)
Gary Owens (Legendary TV announcer)

Melody Patterson (Actress, F Troop)
Jim Perry (Game Show Host)
Amanda Peterson (Actress, Can’t Buy Me Love)
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper (Wrestler and Actor)
Ben Powers (Actor, Good Times)

Roger Rees (Actor, Warehouse 13)
Alex Rocco (Actor, The Godfather)

Stuart Scott (ESPN Anchor)
Omar Sharif (Legendary Actor)
Bob Simon (Longtime 60 Minutes and CBS News Reporter)
Sam Simon (Co-Creator, The Simpsons)
Percy Sledge (Legendary Singer, “When a Man Loves a Woman”)
Stewart Stern (Writer of Rebel Without a Cause)

Rod Taylor (Actor, The Birds)
Nigel Terry (Actor, Excalibur)
Fred Thompson (Actor, Law & Order and Former Senator)
Mary Ellen Trainor (Actress, Roswell and The Goonies)

Dick Van Patten (Actor, Eight is Enough)
Daniel Von Bargen (Actor, Seinfeld)

Alberta Watson (Actress, Le Femme Nikita)
Scott Weiland (Lead Singer, Stone Temple Pilots)
Jerry Weintraub (Legendary Producer)
Grace Lee Whitney (Actress, Star Trek)
Ben Woolf (Actor, American Horror Story)

NOTE: This list, in no way, covers all the industry talent who passed away this year. Again, condolences are extended to one and all.

Out of respect, please take a moment of silence.

TOMORROW: Ratings

Read Full Post »

I have been putting together my year-end round-ups on all things entertainment industry related for a decade now; and every year it is a unique experience keeping track of the unique events that take place. Of course, it’s impossible to focus on every single thing that happens, but I sure do enjoy focusing on all the good things that have taken place throughout the year.

As always, I have spent a big portion of my year watching lots and lots of television – I wasn’t known as the “TV Queen” (at one point in time) for nothing. But, I also enjoy reading, setting a goal for myself of reading about 20 books every year. That may not sound like a lot (for some people) but between starting my own new business, all of my freelance writing and real life, reading 20 books is, sometimes, pushing it for me.

That being said, just like last year, I was able to exceed my goal, reading a number of Jane Austen inspired books by Amanda Grange, Jenni James, Beth Revis and Diana Peterfruend as well as several sci-fi-themed novels by Rachel Hawkins, Carrie Jones, Stacey Kade and Deborah Harkness. I also thoroughly enjoyed Frozen Heat by Richard Castle, the latest Veronica Mars book by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham and a delightful book by author Chris Culler. There were also pre-requisite romance novels by Nora Roberts and Robyn Carr as well as Finding Fraser by KC Dyer, a wonderful book based around a woman’s obsession with Jamie Fraser from the Outlander novel.

Just like last year I attended Paley Fest in Los Angeles, taking part in panels for Scandal, Teen Wolf, Outlander, Arrow and The Flash and Jane the Virgin. I, once again, attended Wonder Con in Anaheim, Comic Con in San Diego and the annual Preview Parties held at the Paley Center for Media.

That’s enough about me, though, so starting tomorrow my first year-end round-up focusing on the best and worst of television will go live and for each day throughout the rest of the year I will spotlight the year of 2015.

NOTE: I apologize in advance for any omissions, spelling errors or oversights I may have made, but I don’t apologize for any of the choices I made.

Read Full Post »

The following industry personalities (listed in alphabetical order) passed away in 2014 and heartfelt condolences are extended to their families, friends and fans:

Maya Angelou (Renowned Poet, Author and Civil Rights Activist)
Lord Richard Attenborough (English actor)
James Avery (Actor, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)

Lauren Bacall (Film Legend)
Skye McCole Bartusiak, (21-Year Old Actress, The Patriot)
Polly Bergen (Legendary screen and stage Actress)
Norman Bridwell (Creator of Clifford the Big Red Dog Books
Shirley Temple Black (Legendary Actress and Humanitarian)
James Brady (White House Press Secretary)
David Brenner (Legendary Comedian)
Richard Bull (Actor, Little House on the Prairie)

Sid Caesar (TV Pioneer and Legendary Comedian)
Mary Grace Canfield (Veteran Character Actress, Green Acres)
Bob Casale (Original member of the band Devo)
Joe Cocker (Singer)

Ann B. Davis (TV legend, The Brady Bunch)
Oscar de la Renta (Legendary Fashion Designer)
Ruby Dee (Oscar-Nominated Actress)
Hal Douglas (Iconic Narrator of Movie Trailers)
Ruth Robinson Duccini (last surviving female Munchkin from classic Wizard of Oz film)

Eileen Ford (Modeling Agency Founder)

James Garner (Legendary Actor)
Gerry Goffin (Lyricist and former husband to singer-songwriter Carole King)
Michael Gottlieb (Writer-Director, Mannequin [film])

Charlie Haden (Legendary Jazz Bassist)
Robert Halmi, Sr. (Legendary Producer)
Bob Hastings (Actor, McHale’s Navy)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Legendary Actor)
Jan Hooks (Saturday Night Live Alum)
Bob Hoskins (British Actor, Who Framed Roger Rabbit)

P.D. James (Legendary British Authoress)
Jimi Jamison (Survivor Lead Singer)
Michael Johns (American Idol Contestant/Australian Singer-Songwriter)
Russell Johnson (The Professor on Gilligan’s Island)
Sarah Jones (Camera Operator [killed in tragic train/filming accident])

Casey Kasem (Radio Personality)
Daniel Keyes (Author, “Flowers for Algernon”)
Richard Kiel (James Bond Villain)

Jim Lange (TV Host, The Dating Game)
Glen A. Larson (Series Creator, Battlestar Galactica and Magnum PI)
Stephen Lee (Seinfeld Actor)
Cynthia Lynn (Actress, Hogan’s Heroes)

Sheila MacRae (Actress, The Honeymooers)
Dave Madden (Actor, The Partridge Family)
Lee Marshall (Voice of Tony the Tiger)
Arlene Martel (Actress, Star Trek)
Frank Marth (Actor, The Honeymooners)
Paul Mazursky (Director, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice)
Denny Miller (Athlete-Actor, Tarzan on Big Screen)
Mary Ann Mobley (Miss America 1959, TV & Film Actress)

Mike Nichols (Legendary Director of The Graduate)

Kate O’Mara (British Actress, Dynasty)

Don Pardo (Legendary Announcer for Saturday Night Live)
Gerard Parkes (Fraggle Rock Actor)
Elizabeth Pena (Actress, Matador)
John Pinette (Stand-Up Comedian and Actor, The Punisher)

Harold Ramis (Actor, Ghostbusters and Stripes)
Tommy Ramone (Founding Member of The Ramones)
James Rebhorn (Actor, Homeland)
Mary Rodgers (Author, “Freaky Friday”)
Mickey Rooney (Film Legend)
Jimmy Ruffin (Motown Singer)

James Shigeta (Actor, Die Hard and Midway)
Dick Smith (Legendary Hollywood Makeup Artist)
Marcia Strassman (Actress, Welcome Back Kotter)
Elaine Stritch (Emmy and Tony-winning Actress)
Carol Ann Susi (Actress, The Big Bang Theory)

Meshach Taylor (Actor, Designing Women)

Garrick Utley (Veteran TV Journalist)

Jerry Vale (1950’s Singer “You Don’t Know Me”)

Ralph Waite (Actor, The Waltons and NCIS)
Eli Wallach (Legendary Actor)
Ken Weatherwax (Pugsley on the original classic Addams Family)
Robin Williams (Legendary Actor-Comedian)

Louis “Louie” Zamperini (World War II Hero and Olympic Medalist)
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (Actor, 77 Sunset Strip)

NOTE: This list, in no way, covers all the industry talent who passed away this year. Again, condolences are extended to one and all.

Out of respect, please take a moment of silence.

TOMORROW: Ratings

Read Full Post »

For nearly 10 years now, I have been putting together my year-end round-ups on all things related to the entertainment industry; and what a great year it has been for all of these mediums, right? There have been plenty of scandals, horrors (Isis anyone?!), Twitter wars and unexpected calamities but, above all else, fans have been provided with a lot of great entertainment [when tragedies have been overlooked].

Like every year, I want to take a little bit of time, selfish though it may be, before I get underway with the 2014 year-end round-ups to focus on some of the goals I set for myself each year.

Besides watching a lot of television, one of my favorite hobbies is reading; and each year I strive to read at least 20 books in the year. This year I actually made it well beyond that goal (YAY me!!). Among the books that I wanted to read were the first two books of the Outlander franchise by Diana Gabaldon – mainly in preparation for the debut of the Starz TV series Outlander – and I thoroughly enjoyed both books. I also read two more books by fictional TV character Richard Castle (from the TV series Castle) and the first book in the Veronica Mars book series. And, very much like last year, I enjoyed reading more Jane Austen inspired books from authors like Cora Harrison, Jenni James, Syrie James, Nina Benneton, Belinda Roberts as well as The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet.

This year I was also busy with TV events, including Wonder Con in Anaheim and Comic Con in San Diego. Like so many past years, I also attended the annual Paley Fest in Los Angeles, participating in their panels for Veronica Mars, Pretty Little Liars, the Lost reunion, Sleepy Hollow and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I also attended the following events at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills: The Evolution of the Crime Drama Heroine, a screening for the new show Manhattan, the center’s Annual Preview Parties and The Facts of Life reunion.

I also thoroughly enjoyed attending one of the first Outlander events in Los Angeles, saluting the Starz drama well before it debuted in August, attending the Sarah McLachlan concert at the Greek Theatre and the Nocking Point Wines (Stephen Amell’s wine company) Fall Release Party in Studio City.

But enough about all of that, tomorrow I will start rolling out my year-end round-up starting with the best (and worst) in television with much more as 2014 comes to an end.

NOTE: I apologize in advance for any omissions, spelling errors or oversights I may have made, but I don’t apologize for any of the choices I made.

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TV viewers know actress Evangeline Lilly from her role as Kate Austen on the long-running, international hit series Lost and movie goers know her as Tauriel from The Hobbit movie franchise; but far too few know her as an author. That will change soon enough because Evangeline is the author of the new hardcover children’s book “The Squickerwonkers” that will be released this Tuesday.

This past July at San Diego Comic Con, Evangeline led a panel to introduce her storybook and I was surprised to learn that this is a passion project of hers. In fact, it has been her passion since she was 14 years old when she first came up with the idea.

During the panel she explained that she first self-published the book last year, selling 1000 copies before the Titan Publishing Group came to her about releasing the book and a much greater scale. Being a self-proclaimed perfectionist, Evangeline made changes to the 2013 version and worked with Johnny Fraser-Allen – who works at the Weta Workshop (the special effects and props company behind The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings franchise) and is the illustrator of “The Squickerwonkers”.

As the duo worked together, much of the time with Evangeline here in the U.S. and Johnny in New Zealand, her vision began to come to life even more; but then a troubling fact was pointed out to her. Her characters – a traveling band of marionettes puppets that each suffer from their own vice – resembled the characters in the 2009 animated film Coraline because of their button eyes. She and Johnny were forced to go back to the drawing board, thankfully coming up with a solution: replace the buttons with coins.

Once they had that new direction, Evangeline and Johnny got back to work creating the world of “The Squickerwonkers”, which was inspired by her love of all things Dr. Seuss and based on a poem she wrote for school.

The Squickerwonkers” will not only be released as a hardcover book but also in digital format and Evangeline is also aiming for a film version too. As a special treat during the panel, Evangeline shared sneak peeks inside the book as well a short reel that is expected to feature Doctor Who alum Sylvester McCoy doing the voiceover.

While many people think that children’s books are only for children, Evangeline’s passion, and her belief that her cautionary tale that teaches kids and gives them a moral compass, was contagious.

You can learn more about Evangeline’s passion project here and head over to Amazon to purchase the book, which is actually the first of a planned set of 18 books according to Evangeline.

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