Thursday TV: Jumping from Space’s Edge

AngrySkyFifty years ago, in an era when people were looking up to the stars largely through the achievements of the U.S. space program, Nick Piantanida, a long distance truck driver from Union City, N.J., had his own space dream.

Dressed in his own version of a space suit, he planned ways to get up to the edges of the atmosphere to try and set a record for extreme parachuting. His plan to  jumping from high altitude balloons at the edge of the atmosphere is told in “Angry Sky” (ESPN, 8 p.m.), a documentary by Jeff Tremaine for ESPN’s “30 for 30″ series. Because this is really an extreme sport, surpassed when Felix Baumgartner staged his space-edge free fall for Red Bull in 2012

Andy Daly returns for the second season of “Review” (Comedy Central, ).

R & B recording artist Charlie Wilson sings and poets perform on “Verses & Flow” (TV One, 10 p.m.).

Lina and Russ go out on separate dates on “Married” (FX, 10:30 p.m.).

Jerry Lee Lewis sells his 1959 Harley in an auction on “Mecum Dealmakers” (NBC Sports Network, 10 p.m.) and is convinced to sing a song as well.

Johnny is declared dead on the internet and he likes how it feels on “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” (FX, 10 p.m.).

A firefighter from Georgia competes against chefs on “Food Fighters” (NBC, 8 p.m.).

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At TCA: Trevor Noah Keeps His Cool

AP 2015 SUMMER TCA - COMEDY CENTRAL A ENT USA CAFor a guy about to step into the shoes of a beloved comic and influential political commentator, Trevor Noah is a pretty cool customer.

It was on view the times he’s appeared at the correspondent’s desk at “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” and it was evident when he did an hour of mostly topical standup in a Santa Monica theater Tuesday. And he was just as unflappable when appearing before reporters at the TV Critics Association summer press tour Wednesday, wondering how he’ll change the show when he starts Sept. 28.

“We are obviously changing the set a tiny bit,” Noah said.

But, he added, “In terms of content on the show, I guess we’re still dealing with the same issues.”

The difference, Noah said, is “it’s just a different angle that we are looking at things from, and it’s my angle, really, but the show still has its voice. It’s just that I’m at the helm taking things in a slightly different direction but still trying to get to the same end place.”

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How Ellie Kemper Got to ‘Today’

Ellie KemperIn the first panel of the TV Critics Association summer press tour, for the Netflix comedy “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” I got to ask Ellie Kemper about her summer stint on NBC’s “Today” show.

“I subbed in while some of the anchors were away this summer for three weeks,” she said. “And, yeah, it was a lot of fun. The ‘Today’ show was a great group of people. They were very welcoming there.”

And it was good training for some possible future job, she said.

“I would love to host a talk show … I mean, in 15 years, when this is over,” she added, looking to her “Kimmy” colleagues.

“There’s not much more beyond that. It was just, sort of, they needed someone to fill in.”

So it was a real job? Up before dawn? Lots of preparation?

“It was like a job, yeah,” Kemper said. “I did have to prepare. Sometimes it was preparing, like reading about Ariana ‑‑ is it Grande or Grand?”

Some of the research didn’t apparently stick.)

“Sometimes the research was, you know, learning about her licking donuts, but it was research just the same,” she said.

The stint provided her some knowledge about something about which she was unfamiliar — doing live television.

“I had never done live television before, so that was a little unnerving,” she said. “Just because, you say something idiotic and then it’s out there.”

She didn’t say anything too idiotic. Most reports say she was grand. Or grande.


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Wednesday TV: A Few Reality Checks

FamelessTime for reality TV to take a good look at itself. It happens tonight in a variety of ways.

“America’s Got Talent” (NBC, 8 p.m.) marks its 10th anniversary with a look back at all of the winners and all the household names they clearly did not become.

“America’s Best Dance Crew: Road to the VMAs” (MTV, 11 p.m.) is a reboot of its old dance series, featuring past winners and runners-up back in the hunt for the title, with a judging crew that includes rapper T-Pain, Teyana Taylor and Frankie Grande, the flamboyant brother of Ariana Grande who appeared last summer on “Big Brother” (CBS, 8 p.m.).

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TCA Begins and Netflix Takes Over

Ted SarandosThe first full day of the TV Critics Association’s summer press tour in Beverly Hills Tuesday dedicated was dedicated to a network that isn’t in the set at all.

Netflix was having the first full day of presentations to writers. And like at home when the internet was slow, it was loading, loading, loading all day.

“It’s hard to believe this is only the second time I’ve been in front of you at the TCAs and only the third year that we’ve been in the business of creating original programming for Netflix,” chief content officer Ted Sarandos said.

Thirty months ago, they had just two shows, he pointed out. One was “House of Cards,” which put them on the map and the first to win an Emmy “having never aired on linear television in primetime or anytime.” The other was  “Lilyhammer,” the Steven Van Zandt project that has been recently canceled after three seasons.

But this year, the original programming will amount to 16 scripted dramas and comedies, nine original documentary features, three documentary series, 12 original standup comedy specials and 17 original series for kids. “In total we’ll be releasing about 475 hours of original programming in the U.S. this year,” Sarandos said.

Eleven of their shows are currently up for 34 Emmys including three best series nominations. “And this is after winning the best animated series Emmy award for ‘All Hail King Julien’ at the Daytime Emmys and additionally being nominated for five News and Doc Emmys this year,” he said.

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The Panorama of Jane Krakowski

Jane KrakowskiMade the mistake of asking Jane Krakowski about her specialization as self-absorbed and often self-deluded women, for several years as Jenna Maroni on “30 Rock” and then, in another Tina Fey-Robert Carlock project, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” currently streaming on Netflix, as Jacqueline Vorhees.

She even played that role in a few Tropicana commercials.

“This comes up a lot,” she said, indicating I was a little late to this party — of people who are clearly misinterpreting her performances.

“Initially, I think I was a bit surprised, but I get the association because of all the years that we did get to work together,” she said, indicating Fey. “And I think a lot of the cadence of the comedy is very similar.”

But not only does her present character change, because of streaming, you can watch it all happen in a single day of binge watching.

“I think what was wonderful about having the show released on Netflix was to see the A‑to‑Z journey of this character,” Krakowski said. “And I think initially, if you just watched episode one or two, that you would see more similarities to Jenna versus how the character grew.

“So I feel like if they started in a similar comedy world, I think they really diverted off. I think Jacqueline’s such a wonderful, brilliant gift that you guys have given me to play,” she said, looking to Fey and Carlock. “And I think that she is just worlds more vulnerable than Jenna ever was. And I think it was lovely to see her come to some self‑realization actually instead of deludedness ultimately.”

Carlock pointed out a moment in the second episode of Jacqueline with Kimmy in bed that Jenna wouldn’t have had. “Jenna would never have shown those emotions or cared what Kimmy thought,” he said.

Then Krakowski referred to her resume. “On my special skills, it’s says self‑delusion and tap.”

“And tap is part of self‑delusion,” Carlock said.


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Tuesday TV: A Birthday for The Bomb

bomb28tvf-2-webIt was 70 years ago this month, in the deserts of New Mexico, man tested its most destructive invention, used weeks later to devastating effect in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The new two hour documentary “The Bomb” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings) looks back at the history of its making, in secret, in the Southwest, using some recently declassified footage from the U.S. Department of Defense. Among its talking heads are George Shultz, Richard Rhodes, Sergei Krushchev and former defense secretary William Perry.

The film by Rushmore DeNooyer is followed by more bomb fare: the first half of a two part “Uranium: Twisting the Dragon’s Tail” (PBS, 10 p.m., check local listings), about the bad and good aspects of the coveted element.

The ninth season of the special-effects makeup competition “Face Off” (Syfy, 9 p.m.) begins, fresh after winning an award for reality show.

Turner Classic Movies celebrates the life of documentary filmmaker Les Blank whose short films shared his enthusiasm for music, food and dance. It begins with a four film look at New Orleans, “Always for Pleasure” (8 p.m.), “Spend It All” (9:15 p.m.), “Dry Wood” (10:15 p.m.) and “Yum, Yum Yum! A Taste of Cajun and Creole Cooking of Louisiana” (11 p.m.). Then comes more cooking with “Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers” (11:45 p.m.), before music with “Hot Pepper” (12:45 a.m.), about Zydeco king Clifton Chenier; “The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins” (1:45 a.m.); “A Well Spent Life” (2:30 a.m.) about guitarist Mance Lipscomb; “Sprout Wings and Fly” (3:30 a.m.) about fiddler Tommy Jarrell; “In Heaven There is No Beer” (4:15 a.m.), about polka; and “God Respects Us When We Work But Loves Us When We Dance” (5:15 a.m.), about a love-in.

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Monday TV: Kaitlyn Makes Her Choice

After the hubbub surrounding one Caitlyn on Sunday, the big choice comes from the Kaitlyn on “The Bachelorette” (ABC, 8 p.m.). It’s a disheartening choice, between a still-creepy-seeming guy who wormed his way onto the season from a previous season, Nick, and an insecure muscle-head who can’t stand the other guy, Shawn. KaitlynBoth dudes have to meet her family before she makes her final choice, if any. Then, to stretch the whole embarrassing thing into three hours, there is “The Bachelorette: After the Final Rose” (ABC, 10 p.m.), in which the winners are free to break up and they try to sell us on the upcoming “Bachelor in Paradise.”

We may be much more cynical than ever about the season’s end because of the generally entertaining behind the scenes fictional series “UnReal” (Lifetime, 10 p.m.).

Maite Alberdi thought it was cute that her grandmother kept in touch with her high school girl friends, 60 years after their graduation. Then she started to listen to their sorrows, joys, illnesses and death that thinned their numbers over the years, which she filmed for an unusually affecting film, “Tea Time,” making its debut on “POV” (PBS, 10 p.m.). Though the film is shot in Chile (and presented with subtitles), the message is universal.

In another documentary on tonight, family and friends recall the University of Wyoming who died of a hate crime in 1998 in “Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mind” (Logo, 9:15 p.m.).

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Sunday TV: Caitlyn Takes Control

CaitNobody said “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” (E!, 7 p.m.) was going to be easy.  The most prominent family spin-off tonight begins with “I Am Cait” (E!, 8 p.m.), the odyssey of the former Bruce Jenner into the female Caitlyn. Already announced in two hour broadcast interviews and a Vanity Fair magazine cover, the transgender journey as a TV series might seem a little self-explotive. But for Jenner, who has lived with intrusive cameras for years, producing the story is a means to keep control on a story that’s going to be told by somebody anyway. And, she figures, it might teach somebody something about this experience.

The 10-episode series is accompanied by something as bizarre, “Stewarts & Hamiltons” (E!, 10 p.m.) about the lives of Rod Stewart’s ex, Alana, with her first husband George Hamilton, with whom she still retains a friendship. Perhaps they are tanning buddies.

The season finale of “Celebrity Family Feud” (ABC, 8 p.m.) pits Joey Lawrence’s clan against that of Mario Lopez.

Roma Downey’s spiritual quest continues with the reality series “Answered Prayers” (TLC, 10 p.m.), a six-episode show about people who say they’ve been saved by divine intervention. Yes, it’s on the former learning channel, not the gospel channel.

“Rick and Morty” (Cartoon Network, 11:30 p.m.), the wacky cartoon in part from Dan Harmon, returns for a second season.

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Saturday TV: Now It’s Tarantulas from Lava

Lavalantula-612x330On the heels of Wednesday’s “Sharknado 3″ (Syfy, 7 p.m.), which is getting a repeat tonight, here’s another new hybrid of horror with the same kind of camp factor — “Lavalntula” (Syfy, 9 p.m.), whose name comes from lava and tarantula. It’s got its own cheese casting, with Steve Guttenberg starring as a washed up 90s star enlisted to become a hero in fighting the bugs that have sprung from the suddenly erupting Santa Monica Mountains.

Guttenberg heads a sort of “Police Academy” reunion with Leslie Easterbrook and Michael Winslow. Nia Peeples and Ralph Garman help round out the cast.

Another made-for-TV movie tonight “Lost Boys” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.) stars Matthew Fahey as a 17 year old thought missing who returns to his family after 11 years. Virginia Madsen and Mark Valley co-star.

An adaptation of computer games with similar quests “Race to Escape” (Discovery Science, 10 p.m.) is a real life adaptation in which teams try to find clues that will help unlock their way out of a room in order to win $25,000. Jimmy Pardo hosts.

“Hannibal” (NBC, 10 p.m.) has jumped ahead a few years, with the title character in prison and offering to help track down a new serial killer.

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