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Conan O'Brien

Blu-ray Review: TV Fans Need to See ‘Johnny Carson: King of Late Night’

American Masters Johnny Carson

CHICAGO – Any list of the most influential and important people in the history of television that doesn’t include Johnny Carson is simply incomplete. He was SUCH a force in the medium, coming into the homes of millions every night. That’s why so many luminaries came out to speak about the man in the excellent “American Masters” documentary “Johnny Carson: King of Late Night,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD.

TV Review: ‘American Masters Johnny Carson: King of Late Night’

CHICAGO – There is arguably no icon on a higher pedestal in the history of television than Johnny Carson, the man who didn’t just host “The Tonight Show” for three decades but became a cultural fixture. We let Johnny into our homes and trusted him in ways that I believe just can’t happen again in a more cynical TV age. He was a nightly visitor for millions and the new PBS documentary about him, “American Masters Johnny Carson: King of Late Night,” is one of the best TV history documentaries yet produced.

DVD Review: ‘Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop’ Tells Half the Story

Conan O'Brien Can't Stop

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.

TV News: TBS Cancels Talk Show ‘Lopez Tonight’ With George Lopez

Lopez Tonight

CHICAGO – Big news in from TBS. After almost two years on the air, “Lopez Tonight” has been given the boot. The late night talk show that premiered November 9, 2009 isn’t just coming to a close; it’s more like a crashing halt.

DVD Review: ‘Andy Barker, P.I.’ Deserved More Time to Grow

Andy Barker, P.I.

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”.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • 47 Ronin with Keanu Reeves

    CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.

  • A Field in England (teaser)

    CHICAGO – I can’t recommend this more. “A Field in England” is a flashback and a flash forward all at once. It’s impossible to watch without thinking of great counter culture cinema. In fact when I saw it at Fantastic Fest 2013 it played as part of a double bill with Ken Russell’s “The Devils” (1971). They made perfect cinematic companion pieces. Russell’s film concerned a wayward priest desperate to protect his 17th century city from corruption in the Church only to fall victim to group hysteria when he is, ironically, accused of witchcraft by a jealous nun.

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