CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
CHICAGO – The only thing rarer than a spinoff that soars over its inspiration is a DreamWorks Animation production without “Dragon” in the title, and one that’s actually worth watching. Improbably, “Penguins Of Madagascar” is both.
CHICAGO – While the “Conan” show spends a week in Chicago during the TBS “Just for Laughs” comedy festival, some of his writing staff are showcasing their talents around town in a couple venues. Comedian and “Conan” writer Deon Cole hosts and performs at these events.
CHICAGO – If a collective chorus of guffaws is heard throughout the Windy City this week, blame it on the ‘Just for Laughs Chicago’ 2012 Festival. From June 12th-17th, stages large and small throughout Chicagoland will feature some of the hottest comedy acts, stars and the taping of the ‘Conan’ TBS chat show, featuring Conan O’Brien and Andy Richter.
CHICAGO – You may assume from that title that I’m referring to the “other half” of Conan O’Brien’s story being that of Jay Leno and his involvement in the debacle surrounding “The Tonight Show” but I could care less what Leno has to say. Or anyone at NBC. No, this hardcore Team Coco member was surprised by how much of the acclaimed new doc about O’Brien, recently released on DVD, was about his tour and how little was about what the man has gone through in the last couple years. It’s a good doc about how to come out of a tough situation without really telling us enough about how O’Brien got there in the first place.
CHICAGO – It’s the movie poster that says it all. The familiar red-headed talk show host, now bearded, resting his head against an ever-present microphone. The show must go on for “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop.”
CHICAGO – Created by Conan O’Brien and Jonathan Groff, NBC’s “Andy Barker, P.I.” was barely given even the slightest chance to develop a following when it debuted a few years ago. Andy Richter had the worst luck as a sitcom lead, failing to find an audience for the brilliant-but-canceled “Andy Richter Controls the Universe” and then getting the axe again after only six episodes of the promising “Andy Barker, P.I.”. No wonder he returned to the loving embrace of Conan O’Brien when he went to “The Tonight Show”.
CHICAGO – Who would have guessed that some of the best “Star Wars”-related material of the ’00s would be produced by Seth Green? And yet, there’s no denying that a lot of what Green delivers with “Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II” is smarter than a majority of the product coming out of the Lucas machine. Check out the special, now on DVD, and see for yourself.
DVD Rating: 5.0/5.0
CHICAGO – When I hear about shows that were “brilliant-but-canceled” one of the first series that comes to mind is the great “Andy Richter Controls the Universe”. Developing a cult following through cable repeats over the years, the complete series has been one of the most requested-but-unavailable titles since the show left the air over five years ago. Andy fans, your day has finally come. Rejoice.
Blu-Ray Rating: 4.0/5.0
CHICAGO – The DreamWorks Blu-Ray releases for “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” “Kung Fu Panda,” and “Transformers” are some of the most technically remarkable titles on the next-gen format and you can now add “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” to the list of Blu-Ray discs that you can use to show off your HD TV and surround sound system.