Category: News & Trends

3 for Tuesday: ‘The Middle’ Halloween, Otters, Puppies and … Play Ball!

Happy Tuesday! Here’s our latest round-up of family-suitable shows airing between Tuesday and Thursday — and you don’t even need to watch them on the Internet (unless you really want to, of course).

All times Eastern.

The Middle: Halloween VIII – Orson Murder Mystery — Tuesday, 8 p.m., ABC

The beloved ABC sitcom about a Midwestern family — with Catholic Patricia Heaton playing the matriarch, Frances “Frankie” Heck — is currently airing its ninth and last season, including a special Halloween episode. It involves Frankie, husband Mike (Neil Flynn), sons Axl and Brick (Charlie McDermott), daughter Sue (Eden Sher) and Axl’s girlfriend Lexie (Daniela Bobadilla).

From ABC:

As Halloween approaches, Frankie discovers that a woman had died in the bathtub of the Heck house close to 50 years ago; Frankie and Brick become convinced that she was murdered and, much to Mike’s chagrin, attempt to track down and find the murderer. Meanwhile, Axl and Lexie become frustrated over losing their alone time when Sue insists on hanging out with them wherever they go.

Here’s a peek at the Season 8 “Farewell Season” trailer:

Nature: Charlie & the Curious Otters — Wednesday, 8 p.m., PBS

(Check local listings for time and date in your area. The film will be available to stream the following day for four weeks via pbs.org/nature and PBS OTT apps.)

From PBS:

How otters are able to operate so successfully on both land and in water has fascinated wildlife filmmaker Charlie Hamilton James for years, so he decided to see what he could learn from studying several species around the world to discover their survival secrets.

The program focuses on efforts to rehabilitate three orphaned river otters in Wisconsin, shows some ground breaking experiments using cool cameras and anatomical CGI, and captures other wild encounters.

At the Wild Instincts Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, Charlie is introduced to three orphan river otter pups and films their progress and training:  from needing around the clock care and feeding, to being taught the crucial skills they will need in order to return to the wild. Despite the fact otters can swim nearly a quarter mile without coming up for air, baby otters do not start out as natural swimmers and they don’t really like water. So the center’s manager Mark Naniot assumes the roles of surrogate mother and teacher. Charlie films him coaxing the pups into a small pool for swimming lessons and later adding minnows which the orphans instinctively chase and catch.

Too Cute: OMG! Puppy Power — Wednesday, 8 p.m., Animal Planet

Who doesn’t love watching puppies grow up? OK, I’m sure there’s someone out there, but for the rest of us, there’s this puppy adventure, with some OMG! extras thrown in.

From Animal Planet:

Little Roo is the smallest of a litter of Beagles, but proves to his sisters that he is top dog. A litter of super fluffy Bichon Frise pups follow mom’s path to show dog stardom. And in a litter of twelve Doberman Pinschers, one pup stands out.

Take a peek:

BONUS!

The 2017 World Series — Tuesday, 8 p.m., Fox

Baseball swings into the Fall Classic, as the Houston Astros — pride of the storm-battered Texas city — take on the City of Angels’ hometown heroes, the Los Angeles Dodgers, in the World Series.

For lots of families in the U.S. — hit by hurricanes, floods and fires — the great American pastime could be a great unifying force (and an excuse for hot dogs and popcorn together, on the sofa or, if you’re very lucky, in the ballpark).

Speaking of weather, heat and Santa Ana winds are battering Southern California, so triple-digit temperatures could greet the players and crowd at Dodger Stadium.

From AccuWeather:

“Games 1 and 2 could be the hottest world series games on record at the time of first pitch,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said.

moderate Santa Ana event will be responsible for the heat this week. While the area around Dodger Stadium is sheltered, winds will still be gusty and can swirl around through the park.

It’s not that the Astros aren’t used to playing in toasty temps, but at least L.A. doesn’t have Houston’s humidity. As we like to say out here — it’s a dry heat!

Image: Courtesy ABC

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.

EWTN Celebrates Fatima 100 and the Rosary With Two Specials

Friday, Oct. 13, represents the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun in 1917, the most publicly spectacular manifestation of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal.

From eyewitness accounts at EWTN’s 100 Years of Fatima site:

From the road, where the vehicles were parked and where hundreds of people who had not dared to brave the mud were congregated, one could see the immense multitude turn toward the sun, which appeared free from clouds and in its zenith. It looked like a plaque of dull silver, and it was possible to look at it without the least discomfort. It might have been an eclipse which was taking place. But at that moment a great shout went up, and one could hear the spectators nearest at hand shouting: “A miracle! A miracle!”

Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bareheaded, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws—the sun “danced” according to the typical expression of the people.

Standing at the step of an omnibus was an old man. With his face turned to the sun, he recited the Credo in a loud voice. I asked who he was and was told Senhor Joao da Cunha Vasconcelos. I saw him afterwards going up to those around him who still had their hats on, and vehemently imploring them to uncover before such an extraordinary demonstration of the existence of God.

Identical scenes were repeated elsewhere, and in one place a woman cried out: “How terrible! There are even men who do not uncover before such a stupendous miracle!”

Tomorrow, EWTN marks the occasion with two special events. From my inbox:

EWTN To Broadcast Two Special Fatima-Related Events –

At 10 a.m. ET, EWTN will broadcast the 15th annual Worldwide Children’s Eucharistic Holy Hour live from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (BSNIC). This annual event spiritually unites the children of the world before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. The children will make reparation to console Jesus, and pray for their families, their countries and the world.

Fr. Chris Alar, MIC, Director of the Association of Marian Helpers of the Immaculate Conception, will preside at the Holy Hour. For further information, please go to www.childrenoftheeucharist.org.

That evening, Cardinal Donald Wuerl will lead a Historic Candlelight Rosary Procession and a Prayer of Entrustment for individuals, and families to Our Lady of Fatima’s Immaculate Heart. EWTN will broadcast the event live from the BSNIC at 7 p.m. ET, Friday, Oct. 13.

“Gather your families, wherever you are on the evening of October 13, if possible, tune in to EWTN, light a candle, pray the Rosary and the prayer of Entrustment, spiritually uniting with Cardinal Wuerl,” said Connie Schneider, Director of the two events said. “We hope Catholics worldwide will join in from their dioceses, parishes, homes, nursing homes…everywhere!” 

A Family Entrustment Pamphlet https://childrenoftheeucharist.org/product/beautiful-8-page-booklet-includes-consecration-family-youth-children/ is available to help families follow along with the prayers during this special event.

Click here to learn more about how Fatima, Portugal, is marking the event.

And if you’d like to pray the rosary with FTP’s founder, Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., the “Rosary Priest,” who traveled the world (and created our company) to promote family unity, faith and prayer, click here for an entire series of videos that let you experience the mysteries of the rosary with Father Peyton.

Here’s a sample:

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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 Friday: ‘Great British Baking Show,’ ‘Mulan,’ Hallmark, ‘Shark Tank’ and More

And they say there’s nothing good on television! We disagree, and if you want to gather round the flatscreen this weekend for some good family viewing, you don’t even need to use a screening app.

Here’s a selection of cable and broadcast shows suitable for Junior to Nana and everyone in between (all times ET/PT):

“Great British Baking Show” — Friday, 8 p.m., PBS (whose affiliates are allowed to air shows on their own schedules, so check local listings for time and station in your area)

As addictive as the baked goods produced on the show, this British import is simultaneously charming, relaxing and incredibly tense. Diverse contestants — who, despite differences in faith, ethnicity and background, seem chosen for being generally lovely people — gather under a large tent on the lawn of a high-end British estate to compete in the creation of a dizzying array of British and international cakes, pies, biscuits, rolls, muffins, buns and cookies. Then they face the judgment of two baking experts: well-tanned Paul Hollywood, and persnickety octogenarian Mary Berry (at top).

While the competition is nerve-wracking, the hosts — the comic team of Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc — keep it light, the judges are stern but loving, and there is zero backbiting or unpleasantness among the contestants.

As a bonus, if your kids wonder how math is used in the world, just have them watch the bakers working out amounts of ingredients and cooking times, and doing complex engineering for gingerbread houses and other towering creations.

The show is also available on Netflix.

“Mulan” (1998) — Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Freeform

One of the directors of this Disney animated film is Christian Tony Bancroft (read an interview with himself and a fellow Disney animator here), and the film got four out of five stars from watchdog group Common Sense Media, which wrote:

Parents need to know that although Mulan is a decidedly Disneyfied take on a Chinese fairy tale, elements of Chinese culture and history ring true. It also offers kids a strong female character who (like Moana and Merida) stands out from the Disney Princess pack and offers a positive gender representation for young viewers (even though gender-related stereotypes are also sometimes played for laughs). Expect some scary/intense battle scenes, weapons use, explosions, sad moments, and a very menacing bad guy. The Huns destroy Chinese villages and kill people (not shown). There’s a bit of flirting/romantic tension. While Mulan ultimately becomes a hero and helps her people, she does so by rebelling against authority, which is worth discussing. But in the end, this is a story about perseverance, teamwork, and courage that’s bound to choke up dads and daughters everywhere.

The site also offers 23 parent reviews and suggestions for how to discuss the movie with kids.

“Up” (2009): — Saturday, 9:35 p.m., and Sunday, 7:20 p.m., Freeform

Upon release, this charming and heartfelt Pixar animated film was just about universally loved, and to this day, it has a 98% positive score on film-rating site Rotten Tomatoes.

Ed Asner voices elderly man Carl Fredericksen, who, together with his wife Ellie, had always dreamed of traveling to Paradise Falls in South America. After Ellie dies, Carl decides to honor her by making their dream come true, so he lashes hundreds of helium balloons to his house and floats off to find Paradise Falls. Unbeknownst to Carl, he’s got an unintended stowaway — an eager scout (voice of Justin Nagai), who has more enthusiasm than skills.

A few caveats from Common Sense Media, which gives the film 5 out of 5 stars:

Parents need to know that Up is the second Pixar movie (after The Incredibles) to receive a PG rating, mostly due to a few potentially frightening scenes involving a band of trained talking dogs trying to get rid of the protagonists, some moments where characters almost fall from a floating house, and some guns firing. That said, it’s Disney/Pixar, so the violence is mild. Viewers should note that an early wordless sequence follows an emotional and potentially upsetting trajectory that could trigger questions about old age, illness, and death.

“Harvest Love” (2017) — Saturday, 9 p.m., Hallmark Channel

This is a romance, so younger kids will probably wrinkle up their noses, but at 9 p.m., it’s after the bedtime of a lot of little ones anyway. But preteens and up — and especially moms — may enjoy this story of love after loss. Here’s how Hallmark describes it:

A widowed surgeon visits her family’s pear orchard in hopes of taking a break from her overbooked life and reconnecting with her distant son. She starts to fall for the farm manager, Will, who is growing a new hybrid pear and teaches her the importance of her heritage. Stars Jen Lilley and Ryan Paevey.

“Shark Tank” — Sunday, 8 p.m., ABC

Business magnate, inventor and philanthropist Richard Branson joins the “sharks” for the Mark Burnett-produced show’s 9th-season premiere, which runs for two hours. Here’s how ABC describes it:

An 11-year-old inventor from San Clemente, California, recycles a skateboard deck to fit inside lockers and backpacks; an entrepreneur from Meridianville, Alabama, revolutionizes aerial sports; a husband and wife team from Vicksburg, Mississippi create outdoor camping gear; and an entrepreneur from San Francisco, California, claims her five-minute meditation app will help the world reduce stress.

In “Shark Tank,” inventors pitch products and services in hopes of securing funding from the panel of wealthy potential investors. The “shark” element comes in as the panelists grill the hopefuls and also compete with each other for the most likely prospects.

While it wasn’t intended as a show for kids, it’s turned out to be one of the several reality shows that families watch together. While most of it will go over the heads of younger kids, middle-schoolers and up can get a quick masterclass on how business and investing work, and what it takes to recruit people to support your dreams.

And sometimes, as in this episode, kids come on to pitch their own ideas — and the panel doesn’t go easy on them.

Images: Courtesy BBC/PBS, Disney/Pixar, 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.

Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas — One Month Away!

Marry Me at Christmas

Los Angeles is already starting to decorate for Halloween, which is more than a month away, so why wouldn’t Hallmark launch its annual Countdown to Christmas movie event exactly a month from today?

On Friday, Oct. 27 until Dec. 31, Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries go wall-to-wall with holiday-themed movies, including a total of 33 original movies between the two channels.

Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas features new movies every Saturday and Sunday (except. Oct. 29) at 8 p.m. ET/PT — click here for the full rundown — starting on Oct. 28 with “Marry Me at Christmas”:

Stars: Rachel Skarsten, Trevor Donovan
Organizing a Christmas wedding is a true treat for bridal boutique owner Madeline Krug. She loves the challenge of finding the perfect dress for the bride and orchestrating an exquisite event. What Madeline didn’t expect was to be swept off her feet by the bride’s gorgeous brother, movie star Johnny Blake. Jonny came to the quirky town of Fool’s Gold to support his sister — not to fall in love. Yet Madeline is the most extraordinary woman he’s ever met. Planning the perfect wedding leads to candlelit dinners and strolls through snow-covered streets. Madeline finds the real Johnny even more captivating than her celebrity crush. Will the action star be brave enough to take on the role of a lifetime?

Here’s the whole thing (you can download the schedule from here):

 

Hallmark Movies & Mysteries begins its celebration, called The Most Wonderful Movies of Christmas” click here for the full rundown, on Sunday, Nov. 5, at 9 p.m. ET/PT with “Mr. Christmas”:

Starring: Sam Page, Tara Holt
Tom Jacobs has built an entire business around helping clients find the perfect gift for their loved ones. Since his company’s busiest time of the year is the holidays, he’s earned himself the nickname Mr. Christmas. When Tom’s good friend Paul comes to him asking for help in finding a gift for his girlfriend, Jenny, Mr. Christmas finds himself in a bit of trouble. The more he learns about Jenny during his research, the more he likes her, and the guiltier he feels being caught between his heart and his best friend. With Christmas rapidly approaching, Tom dreads his encroaching deadline as it will mean an end to his time with Jenny and perhaps an end to his only chance at being with his one true love.

Here’s the rest (you can download the schedule from here):

Heaven knows we could all use a little cheer!

Image: 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.

Roma Downey, Mark Burnett and MGM Launch Lightworkers.com to “Make the World a Better Place”

Back in July, “Touched by an Angel” star turned producer Roma Downey announced that her LightWorkers brand would be launching a new platform, featuring “original video series, compelling editorial and thoughtfully curated content,” intended to uplift and entertain.

Here’s the video, shot at Downey and Burnett’s Malibu home:

Now, it’s here (actually, click here).

So, what’s it all about?

From my inbox:

LightWorkers.com has a robust offering of emotional, shareable and impactful content that highlights entertainment, lifestyle, faith and family. The content, social media and real-life activations aim to offer visitors achievable ways to make positive changes in their communities, both online and off. It will also create new advertising and sponsorship opportunities for brands, including video franchise sponsorship, custom branded videos and original branded series that align with a shared mission of doing good.

LightWorkers.com already has a hit with “37 Seconds of Good News” which spotlights ordinary people doing extraordinary things in this world. Originally launched on social media, the series has already surpassed 21 million views on Facebook. LightWorkers.com will also showcase a wide range of content from new and established personalities, including bestselling author Michelle McKinney Hammond telling it like it is in advice series “Tough But Fair”; Brooklyn Wagner, who brings her blunt and boisterously random perspective to “Welcome to Brooklyn”; and Julianna Strickland and Natasha Feldman who’ll take your thoughtful gift-giving game to the next level with “Giftable.” There are also moving profiles of athletes and influencers in our premium docuseries “I Struggle. I Rise.” and celebrity interviews with friends of the LightWorkers family – Van Morrison, Jeff Probst, Cindy Crawford, Ali Landry, Niecy Nash, Brooke Burke and more – opening up like never before about how they’ve persevered through challenges in their own lives.

“LightWorkers has sparked a movement on social media, where we’ve been able to engage across different platforms sharing positive messages of hope and encouragement. We need these inspirational messages now more than ever,” said Downey, President of LightWorkers Media. “My motto has always been that it’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. My hope is that LightWorkers.com will invite others to do the same, inspiring them to shine their own light within their communities to remind us that there are good people doing extraordinary things everywhere.”

Talking to the Los Angeles Times, Downey explained how the idea began — and can’t we all relate to her answer?

Downey said she came up with the the idea for LightWorkers.com after being overwhelmed by negative stories while watching the news. The former “Touched by an Angel” star wanted to create a site to highlight people who were doing good in the world, she said. The company started testing the idea with 37-second videos highlighting heartwarming stories, such as a community in India that set up a fridge offering free food to the poor. Those clips garnered more than 20 million views, bolstering the company’s confidence in the concept.

“I have worked on big epic productions, and I believe this is the future,” Downey said. “I’m very excited to be ahead of the curve on this.”

So, congratulations from all of us at Family Theater Productions to Downey, Burnett and everyone at LightWorkers. As Downey says in the introductory video, “Be a LightWorker, and shine a light. Together, we can make the world a better place.”

Image: Courtesy LightWorkers/MGM

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.

‘Maya the Bee’ Controversy: A Question of Trust Between Animator and Audience

Every day, parents sit their children down in front of entertainment that presents itself as child-friendly and child-safe — and the majority of it is — but there’s a catch. Not everyone who works on these shows may have children’s best interests in mind.

Recently, “Maya the Bee,” a popular European cartoon offered on Netflix, became the center of a controversy when a mom noticed a very inappropriate drawing of a male body part etched in the background of a scene, and posted about it on Facebook. She wasn’t dreaming or mistaken — it was there.

Here’s the reaction from the studio, as published in The Hollywood Reporter:

“An absolutely inappropriate image has been discovered in a four-second fly-by scene in one episode of the total of 78 episodes of the series,” said production group Studio 100 in a statement on Friday. “The origin of this image obviously results from a very bad joke from one of the 150 artists working on the production.”

And from Netflix (which pulled the episode):

“This is indeed unacceptable to the Studio 100 Group as owner of the brand and all its partners and doesn’t reflect the quality of its work and its values,” the company’s statement continues. “Legal action has already been started. Studio 100 very much regrets this incident and would like to offer its sincere apologies to all Maya the Bee fans. At the same time the company is taking all suitable technical measures to remedy the situation.”

It’s a little hard to imagine the mindset of an artist who would think it was funny to put such an image in a show intended for small children. But, different sorts of people work on these shows, especially animated ones, and they all have their own sensibilities. I remember doing an interview with a producer turning out animated shows for kids on Nickelodeon. He said that he and his fellow 20-something animators basically did the shows primarily to amuse each other, and delighted in slipping in little jokes.

I don’t know that he or his pals did anything like the “Maya the Bee” animation artist (but it wouldn’t surprise me if they did). But this was before the rise of social media, so if they did, it wouldn’t have gotten the immediate response that the parents who took “Maya” to task on social media did.

In a perfect world, parents would pre-screen every bit of TV that their children watch — but we don’t live in a perfect world. We do, however, live in a world saturated with media. While the producers of “Maya the Bee” may not have had any ill intent, things slip through. This might be a good teaching moments for parents to explain how entertainment comes to be, how it’s made up of writers and animators, voice actors and producers, studios and networks.

The more kids know about the process, the less godlike and mysterious it seems, and the more they realize that people who make TV are flawed human beings like the rest of us. In our world today, there’s far too much hero-worship of those in showbiz, rather than a grounded realization that it’s a business like any other.

And if you see something in a show that caters to children that offends you or your values, speak out. Enough parents doing so caught the attention of both the “Maya the Bee” studio and Netflix, and action was taken.

In this highly competitive media environment, viewers matter. Every producer and network knows that people rely heavily on word-of-mouth, often through social media, to choose programming for their children. Never forget the power you have — and don’t be afraid to use it.

As Ronald Reagan used to say, “Trust, but verify.”

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.