Category: News & Trends

UPDATED! Tim Allen’s ‘Last Man Standing’ May Rise Again — on CMT (or not)

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.”

SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATE …

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.

UPDATE: Alas, it looks as if this won’t happen. From Deadline.com:

It was considered too long of a shot for fans of Last Man Standing to get their hopes up, and I hear now it’s final — CMT won’t be picking up canceled ABC comedy series Last Man Standing a new season. CMT, which carries reruns of the Tim Allen-starring sitcom, had engaged in conversations with the studio behind Last Man Standing, 20th Century Fox TV, about possibly ordering original episodes. The talks were only preliminary, exploring the financial feasibility of producing the series for CMT, which would’ve involved virtually everyone on the show taking a pay cut. I hear in the end, the two sides could not agree on the numbers.

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.

’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.

5 for First Friday: Family-Friendly Viewing for June — ‘American Girl,’ ‘Funderdome,’ ‘Free Willy’

It’s the First Friday of the month, so we’re spotlighting some family friendly viewing options for June.

“An American Girl Story: Summer Camp, Friends for Life”: An Amazon Original Special premiering on Prime Video on June 8, this “American Girl” story follows the characters Z, Paz and Drew. Their friendship is cemented at S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, art, math) camp when they find themselves working together to solve a summer mystery, without the help of smartphones or computers. The story encourages the kind of problem solving and perseverance vital to the academic success of young women in a fun way that will engage girls.

“Steve Harvey’s FUNDERDOME”: Based on the success of “Shark Tank,” ABC is hoping for another hit with this summer series, also from producer Mark Burnett, which helps contestants to chase the American dream. Premiering Sunday, June 11, “FUNDERDOME” is a seed-funding competition show where two hopeful entrepreneurs face off to win over a live studio audience. The prize? Financing of their ideas, products or companies.

In each of the 13 episodes, the audience will represent the “customer” and votes to determine the winner. After each round, and before host Steve Harvey reveals the results of the crowd’s majority vote, the entrepreneurs will be given a choice to cash out and walk away for a lesser amount. But if an entrepreneur cashes out, they forgo the opportunity to win the whole cash prize – a good move if they lost the crowd vote, but a bad move if they would have won it.

“Charlotte’s Web”: Available on Amazon Prime, the 1973 animated classic, based on E.B. White’s children’s book, follows Wilbur the pig, who worries about reaching the end of the season when he knows he’ll likely end up on someone’s dinner table. But a wise and sweet spider named Charlotte promises to spin a web that will save young Wilbur from his otherwise inevitable fate. The 2006 live-action version, starring Dakota Fanning, is also available, on Hulu.

“Free Willy”: In keeping with the animal-lover theme, this 1993 feature film, available on Amazon Prime, follows a young boy in foster care who bonds with an orca in captivity and does everything possible to save the whale and set him free. Its sequels, “Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home” and “Free Willy 3: The Rescue,” are available on Hulu.

“Battle of the Network Stars”: In a revival of the popular competition series that aired in the 1970s and ’80s, MMA fighter Ronda Rousey and NFL star DeMarcus Ware are the captains of rotating teams made up of 100 television stars from 14 different network and cable companies. Premiering June 29 on ABC, the summer series allows offers celebrities competing in events such as swimming, running, basketball-dunking and obstacle courses.

As in the original, the competition is held at Pepperdine University, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in Malibu, California.

It may be an old concept, but one that families can always enjoy together.

Here’s a peek at the original, including Lynda Carter, the original “Wonder Woman”:

Korbi is a former full-time TV blogger, writing for sites such as E! Online and Yahoo!. She is now a full-time mom of twin boys. In her free time, she moonlights as a Marriage, Family & Individual Therapist.

Image: Courtesy Amazon Prime

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.

Beloved ‘A Christmas Story’ to Be a Live Musical on Fox

This December, Fox is responding to a live musical version of “Bye Bye Birdie” on NBC (starring Jennifer Lopez) with a musical production based on the 1983 cult classic film “A Christmas Story,” and “A Christmas Story: The Musical,” its 2012 Broadway adaptation.

While it’s not a strictly faith-centric story, “A Christmas Story” — which gets marathon airings each year on TBS — is widely considered a great family film. If you watch it on DVD, though, you may get some strong language that you won’t get in the TBS version.

Here’s what the USCCB had to say about it:

Adapted from Jean Shepherd’s nostalgic piece of whimsy, “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash,” the movie re-creates what it was like to be a boy (Peter Billingsley) yearning for a genuine Red Ryder air rifle for Christmas in the Midwest of the 1940s.  Director Bob Clark gets some good performances from Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon as the understanding parents and the period atmosphere is nicely conveyed win what is essentially a warm celebration of a more innocent, less sophisticated America.  A few vulgar syllables.

Among the executive producers of Fox’s musical version is Marc Platt, who won an Emmy for Fox’s “Grease Live” musical in January 2016, and was an executive producer on the hit movie musical “La La Land.”

Says Warner Horizon Unscripted and Alternative Television president Mike Darnell (who was a driving force behind “American Idol” during his years at Fox), via The Hollywood Reporter:

“I can’t believe how incredibly lucky we are to have Marc Platt producing this iconic Christmas classic. Marc is the defining voice in this genre and it’s amazing to have this caliber of talent leading what is sure to be a new standard in live musical events.”

Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who wrote lyrics to “City of Stars,” the Academy Award-winning  song from “La La Land,” and also scored “A Christmas Story: The Musical,” will add new songs to the live TV version, with Jonathan Tolins and Robert Cary adapting the story.

In the battle of the holiday-themed musicals, “A Christmas Story” follows NBC’s earlier announcement, reported here, of a live TV production of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” airing on Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018.

Image: Adapted from the original movie logo (not the new musical’s logo).

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.