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Bonnie and Clyde meet Sons of Anarchy in Lilyhammer; top 10 must-sees for the week

- December 7th, 2013

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Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Dec. 8

1 Bonnie & Clyde
Debut: A four-hour, two-night simulcast over three channels that stars Emile Hirsch and Holliday Grainger as the infamous Depression-era title couple. Also with Holly Hunter and William Hurt.
When: Sunday on History, Lifetime, A&E

2 Lilyhammer
Second-season debut: Steve Van Zandt, best known as Bruce Springsteen’s guitarist in the E Street Band and Sil on The Sopranos, heads back to Norway for more criminal and cultural clashes.
When: Friday on Netflix

3 Sons of Anarchy
In a special extended episode to wrap up the sixth season, the ramifications of the choices made by Jax (Charlie Hunnam) put his club and his family in jeopardy. Um, isn’t that every episode?
When: Tuesday on Super Channel

4 Kelly Clarkson’s Cautionary Christmas Music Tale
Debut: This is billed as a comedic musical take on a traditional Christmas morality story. Joining Clarkson are the likes of Blake Shelton, Jay Leno, Robin Williams, Heidi Klum and Danica Patrick.
When: Wednesday on NBC, Global

5 Dragons’ Den
The Dragons – Arlene Dickinson, Bruce Croxon, Jim Treliving, David Chilton and Kevin O’Leary – get into the Christmas spirit by listening to holiday-themed pitches. Ugly festive sweater, anyone?
When: Wednesday on CBC

6 Civil War 360
Canadian premiere: Hosted by Ashley Judd, Trace Adkins and Dennis Haysbert – all of whom had ancestors who were greatly impacted – this three-part series explores the American Civil War.
When: Sunday on the Smithsonian Channel

7 Cedar Cove
Back-to-back episodes: Olivia (Andie MacDowell) is shocked by the arrival of a pregnant woman with a possible connection to Jack (Dylan Neal). Yep, might put a damper on turkey dinner.
When: Wednesday on W

8 The Sing-Off
Return: Hosted by Nick Lachey, this reality-competition holiday extravaganza for “a cappella” groups will air seven episodes before Christmas, including the two-hour finale on Dec. 23.
When: Monday on NBC, CTV Two

9 Holidaze
Debut: Made-for-TV movie follows Mel (Jennie Garth), an executive who unexpectedly finds herself in her home town trying to convince residents to let her company construct a massive discount store.
When: Sunday on ABC Spark

10 Modern Family
In a holiday episode directed by Bryan Cranston, Gloria (Sofia Vergara) is on edge because her mother is visiting. Likely will be slightly less violent than Cranston’s recent work on Breaking Bad.
When: Wednesday on ABC, City

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

Christina Aguilera didn’t exactly “binge watch” The Voice when she wasn’t on it

- July 28th, 2013

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – While Christina Aguilera remained very complimentary of The Voice, apparently she didn’t spend a heck of a lot of time watching when she was off the show last season.

“I caught an episode of last season, and I was just like, ‘Oh, my God, I can see why people like this,’” Aguilera said at the Television Critics Association tour.

An episode? As in, one episode? That’s it?

You might think Aguilera didn’t mean it literally, but later she added, “Thank God for Shakira. She did a beautiful job. You know, just sweet, lovely energy, and lovely for the show. And Usher apparently came and stepped up with a lot of creative stuff. I’ve yet to watch back the episodes. Maybe I can check out what happened there.”

Both Aguilera and Cee Lo Green are returning to The Voice this fall for its fifth season on NBC and CTV, rejoining fellow coaches Blake Shelton and Adam Levine. Shakira and Usher stepped in for Aguilera and Green when they took season four off, but Shakira and Usher will be back again for the sixth season of the show next year.

Members of Shelton’s team have won The Voice three seasons in a row. He’s currently on tour and wasn’t with Aguilera, Green and Levine when they spoke with reporters, although Levine observed, “(Shelton’s) lying. He’s at home.”

Aguilera said. “Well, I understand that I am coming back to The Blake Shelton Show at this point. He’s like, ‘I’m so glad that you re-signed your contract with me.’ It’s hilarious.

“I think we can all agree it’s the contestants that do win at the end of the day, and not us (the mentors). But you know, if anybody were to win three in a row, I mean, Blake keeps it funny with his trophies.”

The one time the panel session got a little tense was when a reporter brought up Levine’s controversial comment that he “hates this country” when he was disappointed in a public voting result on the show. It turned into a bit of a Twitter and media storm.

“Welcome to my world, Adam.,” Aguilera said, referring to the pressure of people analyzing every word that comes out of your mouth.

Frustrated that he still was talking about it, Levine said, “You know, listen, everyone makes mistakes. If your intentions are good, if someone misunderstands you, regardless of what the scenario is, I think people can see through stupid media hype. No offence.

“If part of my personality is to say things that are going to piss people off sometimes, then fine. That’s okay with me.”

The mentors and host Carson Daly also were asked why The Voice hasn’t produced a post-show star yet.

“What’s really the definition of ‘success?’ ” Aguilera asked.

Daly added, “I’ll put it in perspective. Danielle Bradbery won last year. Danielle Bradbery is 16 years old. She has eight years to figure it out, her voice, an album, whatever it might be. And in eight years she’ll be the same age as Taylor Swift is right now. She’s got time.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

The Voice: My embarrassing personal awakening

- December 16th, 2012

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Judge not lest you be judged? Hardly.

Perhaps the best way to gauge what reality-competition television shows do for the careers of their hosts is to analyze it on a really personal level.

The hottest reality-competition series right now is The Voice (NBC, CTV), and I’ll be 100%, embarrassingly honest about it.

The background: I’m a big music person historically, but because my job focus these days is TV rather than music, my musical world is limited to the music I prefer – like any average fan – rather than keeping up on the entire industry. So …

1) I had never heard of Blake Shelton before he was a judge on The Voice. Recently during the Grammy Nominations Concert Live broadcast (CBS, Global), Shelton got nominated for something, and I was like, “Hey, the guy from The Voice.”

2) While I had heard of the band Maroon 5, I did not know Adam Levine’s name, and I could not have picked him out of a police lineup before he was a judge on The Voice. Now, when I see him performing, as I did on the Grammy noms show, or in a recurring role on American Horror Story: Asylum (FX Canada), I think, “Hey, it’s that Moves Like Jagger guy from The Voice.”

3) I vaguely was aware of Ce Lo Green before The Voice, but I initially thought his performing name was Gnarls Barkley. Turns out that was a musical duo, of which Green was one-half (the shorter half, I presume). But I knew the 2006 song Crazy, which was everywhere.

4) Of course, I was well aware of Christina Aguilera (pictured above) long before The Voice. But admittedly, that had more to do with her, um, “assets” than her music. To this day, I don’t think I could name one of her songs. Nothing against her, it’s just not my genre.

The wider point being, with the music business essentially in the toilet, there is definite value for Shelton, Levine, Green and Aguilera – and their cohorts on other reality shows – to appear on these projects, at least for a year or two.

It keeps their names “out there.”

There isn’t a direct impact on CDs any more, with sales of actual physical CDs dwindling every day. But when you’re talking about touring, or appearances on other TV shows or in movies, either as themselves or as actors, any added “face time” with the public provides a leg up on the competition for a piece of an ever-shrinking pie.

Being on a high-profile reality show sends the message that you’re “relevant” – not necessarily to people who keenly follow modern music, but more to the vast majority of the population that follows music only casually or peripherally.

You know, people like me.

I know who Blake Shelton and Adam Levine and Ce Lo Green are now. And Christina Aguilera, you just keep doin’ whatever it is you do.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv