Sunday, September 14, 2014

CD Review – Voyage of the Troubadour, by Jack Gates

Guitarist Jack Gates' latest album is a pleasant, engaging exploration of Latin jazz, with generous helpings of classical, fusion, and new age thrown in for good measure.

Gates plays acoustic and electric guitars, with some tracks featuring his wife Sharyl Gates on English and Portuguese vocals, Dean Muench on bass, and Phil Thompson on drums.

With the exception of the vibrant cover of Antonio Carlos Jobim's “So Danco Samba,” Gates composed the music and Sharyl wrote the lyrics, both of which are worthy of the Brazilian bossa nova greats.

This CD deserves the attention of fans of guitar and Latin jazz.

--Raj Manoharan


Sunday, September 7, 2014

TV – Watch People Interviewed by Me on Me TV

Several people that I interviewed during my entertainment writing and celebrity interviewing heyday can be seen regularly on Me TV.
 
The 6 p.m. weeknight beat is patrolled by Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox as California Highway Patrol motorcycle cops Ponch and Jon on CHiPs.
 
I had the pleasure of interviewing Estrada and Wilcox in 1998 for the occasion of their CHiPs '99 TV reunion movie. Estrada kept calling me “pardner,” and Wilcox, a computer business mogul at the time, invited me to his ranch in California, an invitation I regrettably never had the opportunity to take him up on.
 
At 9 p.m. on Saturdays, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy explore space while trying to keep the intergalactic peace as Kirk and Spock on Star Trek.
 
I interviewed Nimoy in 1997 for his participation in a series of radio plays inspired by Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre and spearheaded by John de Lancie (Q on Star Trek: The Next Generation).
 
I interviewed Shatner because he was hosting The Sci-Fi Channel's remastered reruns of the show in 1998. It was thrilling to hear Captain Kirk/T.J. Hooker himself tell me he needed my help in getting the word out about his activities at the time. When I told him he was really going where no man had gone before with his Name in Space project, in which you could have your and your lover's names orbit Earth alongside his name in a space capsule, he exclaimed, “Isn't that wild?!”
 
On Sundays at 6 p.m., you can see James MacArthur (Helen Hayes' son) as Detective Danny “Danno” Williams getting patched through to McGarrett (Jack Lord) on Hawaii Five-O.
 
I interviewed MacArthur in 1997 because The Family Channel was airing remastered versions of the show. When I interviewed MacArthur, he was in his home office in Palm Desert, California, looking at posters of his films, such as Swiss Family Robinson. MacArthur told me that in return for promoting the remastered shows, rather than money, he wanted The Family Channel to give him all the remastered episodes on videotape so he could show them to his children and grandchildren. This was just before the advent of DVDs. So MacArthur wasn't just one of the stars of the show, he was also a fan!
 
It was great to hear MacArthur not only reminisce about his career (including working with his mother Helen Hayes, who guest-starred as Danno's aunt in Hawaii Five-O), but also recollect the late, great Jack Lord. MacArthur himself passed away in 2010, just as he was finalizing plans to guest star in the new Hawaii Five-0 TV series. MacArthur was living in Florida at the time.
 
Watch people interviewed by me on Me TV.
 
--Raj Manoharan


 
 
 

Books, Movies, Pop Culture – Leonard Maltin's Final Movie Guide Marks the End of an Era

This great article features two mentions of the person I did my college internship with from 1993 to 1995. He's the one whose seminal movie guide inspired Leonard Maltin and his editor to create their own:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/02/showbiz/movies/leonard-maltin-movie-guide-ending/index.html?iref=allsearch

--Raj Manoharan

CD Review – The Undiscovered Horizon, by Harrison Edwards

The fourth release by composer and keyboardist Harrison Edwards isn't what one might typically think of as new age music, but new age has come to be synonymous with contemporary instrumental music, and Edwards' new CD is a lively and engaging entry in the genre(s).

Although Edwards is the only performer on the album, he has such command of synthesizer technology that he is able to simulate the sound of a full band plus an orchestra, complete with piano, guitars, bass, drums, percussion, and strings. The result is a disc that has the feel and chemistry of a host of players and instruments, all conceived in the mind of Edwards and brought to fruition through his electronic sleight of hand.

Edwards' compositions are dynamic in their diversity, running the gamut from pensive and moody to robust and bouncy. Edwards is certainly resourceful when it comes to musical creativity and expression.

If Edwards remains undiscovered in your catalog of sounds, it is time to change that and give him a few spins.

--Raj Manoharan


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Publications and Interviews

Publications

TV Key (King Features Syndicate); CableView; PrimeStar; DirecTV: The Guide; Starlog; Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; Star Trek: Voyager; IGN Sci-Fi (Web site)

Interviews

Richard Dean Anderson; Amanda Bearse; Jim Belushi; Don Berliner; Ken Burns; LeVar Burton; Timothy Busfield; Kim Catrall; Robert Conrad; John De Lancie; Cleavant Derricks; Fred Dryer; Erik Estrada; Greg Evigan; Lou Ferrigno; June Foray; Jonathan Frakes (twice); Stanton Friedman; David Alan Grier; Mark Hamill; David Hasselhoff (before the interview, I got free tickets to his Jeckyll and Hyde Broadway show and an invitation to visit the DVD production studio before the show; I took my mom – that was a great night out); Richard Hatch (after the interview, the Battlestar Galactica star sent my mom a personally autographed photo); John Henson; Bruce Hornsby; Chuck Jones; Eartha Kitt; Stan Lee; Scott Leva (who told me that could be him in my profile picture); James MacArthur; Poppy Montgomery; Leonard Nimoy; Jerry O’Connell (also my NYU Tisch classmate); Edward James Olmos (who filled in at the last minute for James Gandolfini); Joe Pantoliano; Michael Piller; Sam Raimi; Ernie Sabella; Katey Sagal; John Schneider; William Shatner; Sinbad; Patrick Stewart; Andy Summers; Henry Thomas; Tim White; Larry Wilcox; Brian Wilson; Tom Wopat; Bill Wyman


TV – Superman Returns! See the Dawn of Justice on Me TV Before It Arrives in Theaters!

This is what I wrote back on December 28, 2013:

Watching Batman and Wonder Woman on Me TV is a great way to prepare for the Man of Steel sequel set for release in 2015, with Henry Cavill reprising his role as Superman and joined by Ben Affleck as Batman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Now all Me TV needs to do is add the 1950s series The Adventures of Superman to the lineup.”

This fall, my thought from last winter becomes fact as The Adventures of Superman finally joins Me TV's Sci-Fi Saturday lineup, starting September 6, 2014.

The classic show starring George Reeves as TV's first live-action Man of Steel kicks off a super-powered evening of super-heroics at 6:00 p.m., followed by Adam West and Burt Ward as the Caped Crusading Dynamic Duo in Batman at 7:00 p.m. and Lynda Carter as the original warrior princess in Wonder Woman at 8:00 p.m.

Now, thanks to Me TV, super fans will be super ready to anticipate the theatrical release (now set for 2016) of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, starring Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, and Gal Gadot as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, respectively, and introducing a host of other legendary DC Comics superheroes.

--Raj Manoharan

CD Review – Tranquil Times, by Darlene Koldenhoven

Grammy Award winner Darlene Koldenhoven, who acted with Whoopi Goldberg in the Sister Act movies and sang on Yanni's Live at the Acropolis concert special, gives her angelic vocals a rest to showcase her impressive musicianship in her first all-instrumental release.

Deservedly named the Best New Age Album at the 13th annual Independent Music Awards, the CD is a prime example of quintessential new age music at its most pure. Koldenhoven's lyrical compositions are just heavenly, brought to life beautifully by Koldenhoven's graceful touch on piano and synthesizer.

Koldenhoven's keyboard constructs are embellished further by the talents of Courtney Jacob on flute and Mike Miller on guitar on two tracks each. The addition of these sounds provides sonic seasoning to Koldenhoven's musical entrees.

If you're looking for a CD to take you away, this is it.

--Raj Manoharan