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‘Simpsons World’ is an unlimited pass into Springfield

- July 21st, 2014

UPDATE: FX has confirmed the Simpsons World app will only be available for U.S. subscribers. There are currently no plans to bring the app to Canada or other countries around the world at this time.

Homer Simpson once profoundly asked, “What’s the point in going out? We’re just going to end up back here anyways.”

I agree with you Homer, and it looks like FX does too.

During the TCA’s on Monday, an annual gathering of television critics and industry professionals in Los Angeles, FX president Chuck Saftler announced the creation of Simpsons World, a heaven for all Simpsons fanatics.

The multi-platform app will not only allow viewers to watch every episode of the series made to date, but will also give them ample access to trivia, character biographies, and an “ultimate” episode guide with actual scripts embedded into each episode summary.

Saftler confirmed the episodes would be partnered with commercials and in order to use the app, you must be an FX subscriber.

If that’s not a good enough reason to purchase cable, though, you probably won’t find one.

The Wrap also reported that subsequent to Simpsons World is a tool called Simpsons TV. Within Simpsons TV, users can bookmark their progress through a season, or personalize a viewing playlist based on specific characters or themes.

In order to prep for the launch of Simpsons World, FX will be carrying out a marathon of all 552 episodes –an event that will take a week a half of around the clock broadcasting. The marathon will kick off on Aug. 21 and run through Sept 1.

Personally, I think they’re missing the boat by not coordinating it to run over the Labour Day long weekend, but I’m not an executive at FX.

The Simpsons World app will be launching on all Apple and Android devices, as well as Xbox One and Xbox 360 platforms in late October.

Jack is Back and The Simpsons go Lego; TV must-sees for the week

- May 4th, 2014


Bill Harris’ top-10 must-sees for the week of May 4

1) 24: Live Another Day
Debut: Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) has been in hiding for four years, but suddenly he re-emerges in London, England. Is he there to do harm, to do good, or to take the Downton Abbey tour?
When: Monday on Fox, Global

2) Louie
Fourth-season debut with back-to-back episodes: Louis C.K returns with this funny, sad, depressing and uplifting series. Sarah Silverman guest-stars in the first episode, Jerry Seinfeld in the second.
When: Monday on FX Canada

3) The Simpsons
In the 550th episode of this series, Homer wakes up to find everyone in Springfield, include himself and his family, is made of Legos (that’s the family home pictured above). In the corporate toy world, this is what they call synergy.
When: Sunday on Fox, Global

4) Two and a Half Men
11th-season finale: With Kimberly Williams-Paisley continuing her role as Gretchen, the fiancee of Alan (Jon Cryer), her real-life husband – country singer Brad Paisley – makes a guest appearance.
When: Thursday on CBS, CTV

5) Resurrection
First-season finale: Arcadia is in a state of chaos with the return of the dead reaching a critical mass, so Bellamy (Omar Epps) feels he has no choice but to ask for outside help. Not everyone agrees with him.
When: Sunday on ABC, City

6) Veep
Dan (Reid Scott) and Amy (Anna Chlumsky) compete to become campaign manager for Selina (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), but she is being advised that her wisest move might be to dump her entire team.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

7) 2 Broke Girls
Third-season finale: Caroline (Beth Behrs) encourages Max (Kat Dennings) to write the one exam she needs to complete her high school degree. Because if there’s one thing this series is about, it’s education.
When: Monday on CBS, City

8) CSI
14th-season finale: As the team investigates a current-day crime that is linked to a 25-year-old mob heist, Brass (Paul Guilfoyle) faces some tough choices when his daughter attempts suicide.
When: Wednesday on CBS, CTV

9) New Girl
Third-season finale: To make it less weird, Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake Johnson) invite the whole gang to accompany them on a cruise that they booked when they still were together as a couple.
When: Tuesday on Fox, City

10) The Goldbergs
Adam (Sean Giambrone) convinces Erica (Hayley Orrantia) to take him to the premiere of Return of the Jedi. I wonder, if Star Wars movies didn’t exist, where would current sitcoms get most of their material?
When: Tuesday on ABC, CTV


Hoser hottie Tim Warmels of The Bachelor Canada reminds me of Apu

- April 17th, 2014

Final capture copy

Wait, don’t all successful entrepreneurs have hot- and cold-running chicks anyway? Like a beverage counter at a Kwik-E-Mart?

OK, maybe I watch too much TV.

Point being, Citytv announced Thursday that Toronto entrepreneur Tim Warmels is the hoser hottie for season two of The Bachelor Canada. The series will air in the fall.

Warmels is a 28-year-old native of Campbellville, Ont., and a graduate of the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario. After moving to Toronto to prove himself as an investment banker, Warmels now has a number of tech ventures and his own boutique contracting business.

In his spare time, he enjoys writing, travelling, modelling and working with his hands building custom furniture and renovating his home.

My God, did you ever see that episode of The Simpsons when Apu gets dragged into participating at a “bachelor auction?” When, in his classic accent, Apu says, “In my spare time I like to build furniture and then to have a discussion about where to put it in a room,” all the women start to droll.

Maybe Tim Warmels’ REAL name is Tim Nahasapeemapetilon. It certainly will bring new meaning to Tim and one of his sexy ladies ducking out for a “Kwik-E.”


No new Family Guy episode this weekend, so Brian Griffin stays dead for now

- December 1st, 2013

Family Guy Brian Griffin

Death and TV comedy always has been an uneasy mix. One struggles to know where the line is between realism and a publicity stunt.

It gets even more complicated with an animated series such as Family Guy. Wedging in a serious moment amid all those poop jokes can get squishy. Maybe it’s a hoax. Maybe the hoax is a hoax.

Either way, consider this a SPOILER ALERT if you don’t want to know any details, but as you probably have heard, Seth MacFarlane’s long-running animated series Family Guy, which airs Sundays on Fox and Global, killed off a major character last weekend. Supposedly.

Brian, the family dog who talked and essentially lived the life of a fully functioning adult, was hit by a car and succumbed to his injuries in a very sad scene with the Griffin family gathered around him. My first reaction was that Brian’s death must be “real,” since MacFarlane took the time to make it so moving.

There can be many factors at play when a TV character in a live-action series passes away. But with an animated series, it usually is nothing more or less than an editorial decision. Family Guy didn’t have to kill Brian. For MacFarlane, it’s just one fewer voice to do.

The question of where Family Guy goes from here, for me, is influenced by the fact that the show – which is in its 12th season – really has nothing to lose. Perhaps Brian’s alleged replacement – a dog named Vinnie, voiced by Tony Sirico from The Sopranos – won’t last any longer than Poochie on The Simpsons.

Speaking of The Simpsons, I’ve quoted this conversation previously, but it was back in the summer of 2009 when, at a Fox event during the Television Critics Association tour, MacFarlane told me, “I don’t want (Family Guy) to go 20 years like The Simpsons. Ideally we would go another couple of years and then wrap it up. I would like to be done before they’re done with us.”

Family Guy already has gone longer than MacFarlane envisioned. But if you’re going to stick around, you need viewers to notice you.

There is no new episode of Family Guy tonight (Sunday, Dec. 1). If you’re not among the conspiracy theorists, you can consider it a period of mourning for Brian. But next weekend Family Guy is getting right back to its madcap adventures, as Peter and Quagmire discover their singing voices create beautiful harmony together and they form a singing/songwriting team, a la Simon and Garfunkel.

Brian’s death scene pierced me. Silly, I know. But I still ache for every pet I’ve ever lost, so maybe it just taps into something.

But has this all been a ruse? Bringing Brian back now undoubtedly would create a backlash to the backlash. Or maybe Brian is getting his own heaven-set spinoff.

Whether he stays dead or not, killing Brian was an attention-grabber for Family Guy. The harder part is grabbing and holding.

Rob Lowe brings JFK into the “hair and now” with Killing Kennedy

- November 9th, 2013


Rob Lowe had to wrap his head around John F. Kennedy’s very specific hairstyle.

“There’s a lot of hair technology going on there, in case you didn’t notice,” says Lowe, who has the title role in Killing Kennedy. “We’re used to seeing him in black and white. But when you see him in colour, he almost has ginger hair.

“So my whole look is very sort of dialed in. I’m keeping it a secret as to how I did it.”

Killing Kennedy, which is based on a book by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, is a two-hour docu-drama that debuts Sunday, Nov. 10 on the National Geographic Channel. Besides Lowe, Killing Kennedy also stars Ginnifer Goodwin as Jacqueline Kennedy, Will Rothhaar as Lee Harvey Oswald and Michelle Trachtenberg as Marina Oswald.

It was 50 years ago this month that John F. Kennedy was gunned down and the string of recent TV documentaries is long and impressive. Killing Kennedy is a dramatic portrayal that simultaneously charts the highs and lows of two men – JFK and Oswald –  and their respective relationships with their spouses during the buildup not only to JFK’s assassination, but to Oswald’s as well.

Hair secrets aside, Lowe says that when it came to JFK’s voice, the hard part was that the comic voice everyone uses when they’re doing JFK – basically Mayor Quimby on The Simpsons – isn’t necessarily the way the president spoke in real life.

“Look, I’m not Darrell Hammond from Saturday Night Live, right?” Lowe says. “I mean, if you want a guy who can imitate Kennedy, I’m not the guy you come to. But you’ve got to sound like him.

“Just technically, what I learned was he really had two voices. He had the voice that we all know, ‘Come to Berlin.’ He had that voice, which is the voice everybody imitates. And then he had the way he spoke in private, which was very different.

“There’s actually a linguistic term called the ‘Kennedy stutter step,’ not to get too technical. Basically, it’s his stammer, and that’s what you don’t see a lot of. I tried to bring that, I immersed myself in it. But then you forget about it, you do the voice, and you go to the things that are more important, which are honesty, authenticity, connection with the actors, all of the stuff that actors do on a daily basis.”

Actors actually don’t get to play John F. Kennedy on a daily basis. It’s the fortunate few who can pull it off.

“In terms of what we share, I don’t know,” Lowe says. “(JFK) was an optimist. He said, ‘We’ll put a man on the moon in 10 years.’ I can’t think of any president before or after who would dare make that kind of prediction and then live up to it.

“I’m a kid from Ohio who said I wanted to be a working actor, so I believe in optimism.”

Optimism and hair technology, that is.