Tim Allen’s ‘Last Man Standing’ May Rise Again — on CMT

Last week, in honor of the 63rd birthday of comedian and actor Tim Allen on June 13, we reported on the surprise cancellation of his still-popular ABC sitcom, “Last Man Standing.”

Allen and many others feel that his outspoken Christianity and conservative politics contributed to the Disney-owned network axing the show, ABC’s most popular sitcom after the more politically correct “Modern Family.”

But, like ABC’s “Nashville” before it, “Last Man Standing” — whose six seasons were produced, not by ABC Studios, but by 20th Century Fox — may find a new home on CMT (formerly known as Country Music Television).

According to The Hollywood Reporter on June 14, one day after Allen’s birthday:

The Viacom-owned network is in preliminary talks to revive canceled Tim Allen comedy Last Man Standing. Insiders stress talks are in the early stages as CMT is exploring if it can revive the expensive show at a price point that works for the niche cable network. It’s unclear if a deal will be made as insiders cautioned that a renewal at CMT may be a long shot given the price tag on the veteran series. Also unclear is how big of a renewal the show could get as everything from a short order to multiple-season/20-episode run have been rumored. 20th TV, which has already placed calls to writers about a potential revival, and CMT declined comment.

THR also spoke to a 20th executive:

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter after the upfronts, 20th Century Fox Television’s Howard Kurtzman singled out Last Man Standing as the most disappointing and surprising pass. “If there’s a way to bring it back, we will explore those opportunities,” he said.

Deadline.com offered a few more details, also on June 14:

The talks are preliminary, exploring the financial feasibility of producing the series for CMT, which would involve virtually everyone on the show taking a pay cut. A deal is considered a long shot though not impossible.

While the studio has reached out to the writers on the show, who had all scattered to pursue other jobs, the cast has not been approached about extending their options, which expire in two weeks. Depending whether talks with CMT progress, the studio would likely move to pick up the actors if there is a reasonable chance for a deal.

CMT has found success with “Nashville,” a country-music-centered show that fit well with the cablenet’s core audience. Since the network is getting good results from syndicated reruns of “Last Man Standing,” it appears to also resonate with the same viewers.

Picking up the sitcom would further solidify CMT’s move from a countrified MTV-style music-video network to a viable niche alternative network, presenting middle-America-centric fare. This sort of programming doesn’t seem to much interest the major broadcast networks — with the possible exception of CBS — which prefer to program edgier shows that appeal to urban and coastal audiences.

If you’d like to tell CMT to pick up “Last Man Standing,” tweet them @CMT or drop a note to the network’s Facebook page.

Image: Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

Good Dog! Trailer for ‘The Stray’ Previews Heartwarming Family Film

Sometimes, people will lower their barriers and allow themselves to feel, in the presence of a loyal dog. That’s one man’s story, and now he’s made “The Stray,” a new movie based on his experience.

Last week, Motive Entertainment released the trailer for “The Stray,” directed by Mormon filmmaker Mitch Davis, a family film due for release in select U.S. markets on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017.

Here’s how the press release describes it:

Struck Films, Purdie Distribution and Motive Entertainment announce the upcoming release of The Stray, a heartwarming family film written and directed by Mitch Davis (The Other Side of Heaven) based on a screenplay by Parker Davis with Ken Brailsford executive producing.

 

Set for release in select markets in the United States on October 6, 2017, The Stray tells the true story of how a one stray dog impacts a struggling family.

That stray dog is “Pluto” who comes out of nowhere and quickly makes himself at home with the Davis family, which is on the brink of falling apart. Dad (Michael Cassidy; Argo, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice ), is a career-driven personality who’s neglecting his marriage and family. Mom (Sarah Lancaster;  Everwood, The Judge) is at her wit’s end raising three young kids. The last thing they need is another mouth to feed. Or is it?

In just a short time with the Davis family, Pluto the “wonderdog” manages to save a lost toddler, bring comfort and companionship to a hurting 9-year-old boy (Connor Corum; Heaven is for Real), help restore a marriage, and repair a broken father-son relationship.  Pluto is not only a guard dog – he’s a guardian angel.

 

The Stray received the Dove Family Approved seal for its portrayal of positive values and is a film you can take your entire family to see.

The Stray is a heartwarming family movie that is wonderfully entertaining, while teaching about love for a pet, love of family and making time for family,” said Donna Rolfe, Dove Foundation.

 

“It’s really not a stretch to say that Pluto gave me my life back,” said Mitch Davis. “He saved me and my family in more ways than one. And although The Stray reflects my personal story, I know there countless families across America who could say the same thing about a pet that greatly impacted them with its unconditional love – which is why I hope families will see this film together.”  

 

Sometimes help comes from the most unlikely places. Sometimes our prayers get answered in strange ways. Sometimes one dog can change everything.

Click here for the Facebook page, and here for the official Website.

Take a look at the trailer:

Image: Courtesy Motive Entertainment

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

Hallmark Announces Christmas Movies for 2017 (And Christmas in July!)

Now that summer is upon us, sister cablenets Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries are keeping it frosty by announcing their 2017 Countdown to Christmas event, starting in October, and a Christmas-in-July movie event

First up, from July 14-23, is the Christmas Keepsake Holiday Preview — lest you forget Hallmark’s “Keepsake Ornament” line of decorations — featuring several favorite Hallmark Christmas movies of years past, and one new one.

Airing July 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, “The Christmas Cure” (which had the previous working title of “Home for the Holidays) stars Brooke Nevin and Steve Byers (pictured below), and Patrick Duffy.

Here’s Hallmark’s description:

An emergency room doctor returns home for Christmas after many years to find that her father has decided to retire. After reuniting with her high school sweetheart and spending an emotional Christmas with her family, she must decide if she will stay in her hometown and takeover her father’s practice. Stars Brooke Nevin, Steve Byers and Patrick Duffy.

Click here for the full July lineup.

The Countdown to Christmas promotion launches on Friday, Oct. 27, and features a record 33 new movies, on Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.

Click here for Entertainment Weekly’s rundown of the lineup, and here for the one on the Hallmark Channel Website.

Here are some highlights:

WHEN CALLS THE HEART CHRISTMAS!

Stars Erin Krakow, Daniel Lissing, Lori Loughlin, Martin Cummins, Jack Wagner, Pascale Hutton, and Kavan Smith

A loved one returns, Christmas spirit is renewed, and children’s wishes are granted in this heartwarming Christmas movie featuring the series’ beloved characters. Elizabeth’s fiancé, Jack, surprises her, coming on home on leave and bringing a young Mountie desperately searching for Christmas inspiration. The community of Hope Valley works together to aid this young man with the help of an enchanted Wishing Tree. And as mayor, Abigail is pretty busy. Recognizing that, her newly adopted son, Cody, engages classmates in creating the town’s annual Christmas Celebration. While Sheriff Bill Avery forges a relationship with the disgraced former mayor, Henry Gowen, Rosemary and Lee are reminded that family is the true meaning of Christmas.

EVERGREEN INN

Stars Alison Sweeney

Sophie Bennett begins a new holiday tradition of spending every holiday at the Evergreen Inn and Ski Lodge, which she inherited from her parents. Evergreen Inn is a special place filled with people who cannot make it home for the holidays or who have had such wonderful experiences that it has become their home-away-from-holiday-home. This Christmas, Sophie will meet an unforgettable family, and her own life will be forever changed.

ENCHANTED CHRISTMAS

Stars devout Christian spouses Alexa and Carlos PenaVega.

Weeks before Christmas, interior designer Laura is sent to her hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico to remodel a landmark hotel. As Laura is kept busy with the renovations, her 8-year-old daughter Nicole is introduced to the art of salsa dancing at a local dance studio. Laura is surprised to find that the studio’s owner is Ricardo, her old high school sweetheart and former salsa dance partner. When Laura and Ricardo reconnect, sparks fly on and off the dance floor. The beautiful Christmas traditions of New Mexico become the backdrop for spirited dancing and unexpected romance.

THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN

David Baldacci’s No. 1 New York Times bestseller comes to Hallmark Hall of Fame with this story of cynical journalist Tom Langdon, taking a train from D.C. to L.A. for Christmas. He’s not too thrilled with the journey, but Tom is the sort who’s not thrilled by much. Tom’s been briefly married but never had kids. Today his ex-wife wouldn’t accept a collect call from him in the most dire of circumstances. Tom is forty-one and has just lost his mother to a stroke; his father has been dead for several years. Being an only child he is truly alone now, and that has made him introspective. Half his time on earth is gone, and all he has to show for it is a failed marriage, no offspring, an informal alliance with a California voiceover queen, a truckload of newsprint and some awards. By any reasonable measure, it is a miserable excuse for an existence. But Tom’s cross-country journey will soon become an internal odyssey. Strangers remind of him of people’s innate goodness. Before long, Tom rekindles a love, and the magic of Christmas takes hold.

KAREN KINGSBURY’S MAGGIE’S MIRACLE

Megan spent one unforgettable summer with a boy when they were teens and she’s never forgotten his magical definition of love. Now a high-powered attorney in New York and a single mother, her young son unexpectedly connects them again.

ENGAGING FATHER CHRISTMAS

Stars Erin Krakow, Niall Matter, Wendie Malick.

It was supposed to be the perfect engagement. What could be more romantic than a Christmas proposal in a bucolic Vermont inn? Ian has it planned perfectly, or so he thinks. Miranda, an interior designer, returns to where she met Ian, a dashing former attorney who now runs the little hotel in the quaint town of Carlton Heath. After doing some digging to learn about her family roots, Miranda had traced her lineage to Carlton Heath. Though it’s Christmas, Miranda had always done her best to distance herself from the holiday; her mom, an actress, had died while performing a holiday play. Ian has carefully planned every aspect of Miranda’s visit so he could make the most romantic proposal. Too bad the best-laid plans often go awry.

CHRISTMAS SISTER SWAP

Stars devout Christian Candace Cameron Bure

Just because they are identical does not mean these twins even like each other. Estranged twin sisters get together for an obligatory pre-Christmas lunch, a year after their mother died. Both women are unhappy and frustrated with their own lives. Though not close, each is envious of the other’s life. What’s a twin to do but take advantage of this? And who would be the wiser? They do what any identical twins in need of new outlooks would do — they swap lives until Christmas Day. And by doing so, each woman discovers the true meaning of her life and gains a deeper perspective and appreciation for what she already had.

Images: Courtesy Hallmark Channel

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

Tim Allen of ‘Last Man Standing’: The Long, Hard Road to Faith

On June 13, comedian and actor Tim Allen turns 63 years old — and there’s good news and bad news. He’s had two successful sitcoms on ABC, one of which was just unexpectedly canceled. On the other hand, he’s sober, is the father of two daughters and has rediscovered his Christian faith.

Derailed by his father’s death in a car accident with a drunk driver when he was 11 — which severely impacted his faith — Allen went from a self-described “Episcopalian kid with a nice background” to 28 months in a federal prison for selling drugs in 1979. Paroled in 1983 at the age of 29, he picked up the threads of his life and began working as a standup comic, focusing on the differences between men and women, and especially on what makes men tick.

That led to the long-running hit sitcom “Home Improvement” on ABC in 1991, and such hit movies as “The Santa Clause.” Allen parlayed his man’s-man persona into stardom and wealth. But his first marriage, to the college sweetheart who stuck by him, ended in 1999, after producing one daughter.

But during that time, in 1997, Allen was arrested for DUI. Sentenced to probation, he went into rehab for alcohol abuse and has remained sober. In 2006, he married actress and longtime girlfriend Jane Hajduk, and they had a daughter in 2009.

In the fall of 2011, ABC premiered “Last Man Standing,” loosely based on Allen’s life as a conservative Christian Republican father of three (but the character is a sporting-goods executive, not a TV star).

Here he is in 2011, while “Last Man Standing” was just starting on ABC, talking to Elizabeth Vargas of ABC’s “20/20” about his life and how he regained his faith in “The Builder,” as the former “Home Improvement” star refers to God.

In part, he said (as transcribed in ABC News’ blog):

Allen’s father died when he was hit by a drunk driver when Allen was just 11. The comedian says that after that, he questioned whether if he had prayed harder or had been with his father that fatal day, he could have prevented his death.

“For years, I just did not like this idea of God, church,” he said. “(I was) still a churchgoer, but constantly a cynic.”

But the cynicism didn’t last. Today, he calls God, “The Builder.”

Despite “Last Man Standing” being ABC’s number-two sitcom after “Modern Family,” it got the ax last month from the Disney-owned network. That set off a furor from fans who believed it was because of Allen’s outspoken political and religious views, which don’t mesh with most of the Hollywood elite.

Here’s what he said to Jimmy Kimmel in March, as reported by Deadline.com:

“You’ve gotta be real careful around here,” Allen replied. “You get beat up if don’t believe what everybody believes. This is like ’30s Germany. I don’t know what happened. If you’re not part of the group, ‘You know what we believe is right,’ I go, ‘Well, I might have a problem with that.’ I’m a comedian, I like going on both sides.”

When the cancellation news came through a couple of months later, here’s how Allen responded:

 

Snopes.com checked into the reasons behind the cancellation. It cited ABC’s claim that this was a business decision, driven in part by the fact that ABC doesn’t own the show, so the network won’t share in any syndication, cable or streaming revenues. The network also says it’s moving away from a Friday comedy block.

All of these may be true, but there’s seldom a single reason a show gets picked up or cancelled. It’s always a calculation with money, scheduling and taste figuring in. Few shows on network TV feature overt orthodox Christians or political conservatives, although they make up a large chunk of the audience. It’s hard to know whether that’s a result of the networks thinking Americans don’t want to see those folks, or because the networks just don’t want to showcase those particular viewpoints.

But, since 20th Century Fox Studios, not ABC, produced “Last Man Standing,” this may not be the end. Reportedly, the studio is seeking another home for the popular show.

From Variety:

But the series, which was ABC’s second most-watched comedy last season behind “Modern Family,” may not be dead. Asked whether “Last Man Standing” would be shopped to other networks, [studio president Howard} Kurtzman said, “We’re starting to explore that. If it’s not going to go forward at ABC, of course Jonnie and I are hopeful that we can find another home for it.”

Whatever happens, at least Allen knows he’s got “The Builder” to rely upon.

Image: Courtesy ABC/20th Century Fox Videos

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

TV Ad Turns Around the Bad-Dad Story of “Cat’s in the Cradle’

In his 1974 folk song “Cat’s in the Cradle,” Harry Chapin sings about a father who, too late, discovers that his adult son has become just as neglectful of him as he was of the boy growing up.

Among the lyrics:

I’ve long since retired and my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, I’d like to see you if you don’t mind
He said, I’d love to, dad, if I could find the time
You see, my new job’s a hassle, and the kid’s got the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you
And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

Now, investment firm TDAmeritrade has released a new ad that turns that song on its head, reimagining it with a father who gets it right the first time. With Father’s Day coming up, it’s a great reminder of the vital importance of dads, adoptive dads, foster dads — and spiritual fathers, including good priests — in the lives of children.

It’s an investment that returns endless dividends, even in heaven.

Get some hankies.

Image: YouTube Screenshot

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

’13 Reasons Why’: Catholic Mom and Therapist Says Netflix Hit Is Problematic

Our Catholic-mom blogger Korbi Ghosh Biggins, who normally focuses on family-friendly fare, puts on her Marriage, Family & Individual Therapist hat to examine Netflix’s teen-suicide drama “13 Reasons Why.”

With so many options for entertainment available to teenagers and young adults today, a new series that catches the interest of the 12-to-17 and 18-to-24 demographics is noteworthy. On March 31st, Netflix released “13 Reasons Why” and it quickly became the company’s most popular show, breaking records in viewership and on social media.

Adding to the show’s cachet among the young is that one of the executive producers is singer/actress Selena Gomez, formerly of Disney Channel’s “Wizards of Waverly Place” (and former girlfriend of singer Justin Bieber).

Based on a 2007 book by Jay Asher, “13 Reasons Why” depicts the events that preceded the suicide of high-school student Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford). Hannah leaves behind a box of cassette tapes for her friend Clay (Dylan Minnette), which tell the story of the experiences and the people she holds responsible for her decision to end her life — experiences that include cyber-bullying and rape, as well as overwhelming pressure to live up to a specific standard of physical perfection.

With topics like suicide, bullying, sexual assault and a general lack of empathy or respect for others, being important and relevant to young people, it’s not surprising that the series is so successful and that it has garnered so much attention. However, writing strictly from a mental-health perspective, there are several problems with “13 Reasons Why” that are important for parents to consider before making a decision about whether the show is appropriate content for their children.

While the series certainly opens the door to explore and discuss difficult subjects with teenagers, it also portrays suicide —and the process by which a person may get to that place in life— quite inaccurately. “13 Reasons” depicts Hannah’s decision as an act of revenge against the people who hurt her or let her down. In reality, people at risk for suicide are very rarely thinking about others when contemplating or preparing to end their life. Suicide is a mental health issue and the vast majority of people at risk are suffering from a debilitating mental health disorder such as major depression or bipolar disorder.

Traumatic events, like being raped or mercilessly bullied, can certainly contribute to the onset of mental-health issues like depression. However, post-traumatic stress, depression and bipolar disorder are all treatable. There is a way out for those who feel trapped in hopelessness — ways that do not include suicide. Unfortunately, “13 Reasons Why” fails to give the viewer any credible insight into their options for seeking help, which is troubling and dangerous.

In fact, the series seems to effectively romanticize suicide. I would go as far as saying that, for the impressionable and possibly desperate, it glamorizes suicide to some degree.

Research shows that when a teenager commits suicide, the likelihood of other suicides increases. Suicide-prevention experts have long warned that sensationalizing a suicide or graphically detailing the means by which a suicide was carried out can lead to suicide contagion, otherwise known as copycat suicides. For this very reason, experts strongly advise media outlets and journalists to avoid explicitly describing the suicide method when reporting on a suicide.

Meanwhile, the scenes in which Hannah ends her life in “13 Reasons Why” play out in painful, excruciating detail. When you add to this the fact that young viewers are watching interesting and attractive actors play these parts, in a series which everyone seems to be talking about, the glamorization of the act increases.

Though I imagine it was not the intent of the producers of “13 Reasons,” the underlying message of the show is that committing suicide can provide a troubled teen with something that may be otherwise elusive: finally being understood and taken seriously.

As mental-health professionals, our responsibilities revolve around hearing and understanding our clients. Good therapists know that if a person feels understood, they feel hope. In the case of “13 Reasons,” choosing to die is what provides Hannah with the opportunity to feel understood. It’s a misleading and dangerous message for those who suffer from mental health problems — adolescents and adults alike.

I’m not saying the series is completely without merit. As I mentioned, it does raise several relevant issues for adolescents today. It could help to open a dialogue between parents and children, perhaps even help parents gain a clearer perspective of the pressures and challenges that kids are facing today.

It also underscores the importance of treating others with kindness and respect, and emphasizes the deep impact that gossip and rumors can have on a young person. But because there are several heart-wrenching and graphic scenes which depict controversial and difficult topics, it is my opinion that no teenager should be left to view and process the series alone. More importantly, anyone struggling with mental-health issues, including those who are prone to depression, should steer clear of the show entirely.

If you do feel that your child is mature enough to handle the series and they have expressed an interest in doing so, I encourage you to watch the series with them so that you can discuss the thoughts and feelings that come up as the story plays out.

It is a devastating story, which will evoke emotional reactions from even from the most healthy and stable adult. It’s vitally important to let your kids know that you’re there for them and that you want to hear what they’re thinking, feeling and experiencing—whether they watch the series or not.

CatholicLink has done a nice job of outlining several talking points that may help start the conversation between parents and children. CatholicMom also put out a comprehensive list of resources..

In addition, take a moment to educate yourself on the possible symptoms of depression: declining performance in school, withdrawal from friends and family, lack of interest in activities or events, lack of energy or motivation, sadness, hopelessness, anger, agitation, low self-esteem, lack of concentration, restlessness, changes in appetite or sleeping patterns, substance abuse—and the warning signs of suicide or suicidal ideation, which can include talk of hopelessness or being in unbearable pain, feeling trapped, having no purpose, being a burden to others or displaying extreme mood swings.

If you, your child or someone you know is struggling with severe depression or thoughts of suicide, don’t hesitate to seek the help of a mental health professional who is trained in suicide prevention. Reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 24 hours a day at 1 800-273-TALK (8255).

EDITOR’S NOTE: Gomez has given interviews defending the intent behind the show, which will return for a second season (and it might do to remind youngsters that whatever happens to her friends down the line, Hannah’s decision means she won’t be there to experience it).

Image: Courtesy Netflix

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.