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Archive for June, 2010

Wasting no time, HBO renews ‘True Blood’ for fourth season

true-blood-hbo-tv-04Vampires remain bloody hot. Just two episodes into season three, “True Blood” has been given life for a fourth season by HBO.

Ratings for the first episode exceeded 5 million viewers, not counting “On Demand” and repeats, the network’s biggest show since “The Sopranos.

“The new season of TRUE BLOOD is off to a terrific start, as enthusiasm for this unique show continues to build among both subscribers and critics,” noted Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming..  “We’re looking forward to more chills from Alan Ball and his gifted team next year.”

The 12-episode third season of TRUE BLOOD, which launched June 13, has already inspired critical raves, with Entertainment Weekly calling it “faster, sleeker, more vicious, more fun than it already was,” as well as “summer’s best TV.”  USA Today hails the show as “fabulously wild,” while the Washington Post describes it as “electrifying.”

Former Marietta resident Alan Ball is executive producer.

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Aaron McGruder’s ‘Boondocks’ mocks Tyler Perry

aaron-mcgruder

Aaron McGruder (left) mocks Tyler Perry in last night’s “Boondocks” episode on Adult Swim. He portrays the Perry-like character as a closeted gay man named Winston Jerome. Jerome creates a homo-erotic cult which features Jerome as a cross dresser who resembles Madea.

Grandpa, hungry for fame, agrees to be in one of Jerome’s plays and “renounces” his family and “Ice Cube and all his works.”

He even kisses Jerome in the stage play in hopes of getting in the film. He also thinks he’ll be able to attract a coterie of hot “Beyonce”-type groupies. That doesn’t happen. What’s worse, Jerome actually DOES want to sleep with Grandpa. So he bolts.

“Boondocks” Tyler Perry satire

  • Spot on!
  • Not reality but funny nonetheless
  • An insult to Tyler Perry and his fans

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There’s a scene in which “Rocky Horror Picture Show” fans will appreciate. An in a funny visual gag, Jerome dresses Jesus in a cute blue sweater on the cross because Jerome thought he …

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Praise 102.5 gets inspiring ratings

This is a column I wrote for the print edition Monday:

Afternoon jock Rhodell Lewis. PHOTO CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Afternoon jock Rhodell Lewis. PHOTO CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

In May, the top radio station in Atlanta was V-103 as usual, according to Arbitron. But No. 2 was not one of the usual suspects such as news/talk 750/WSB-AM or soft rock station B98.5. For the first time, it was gospel station Praise 102.5.

And while Praise has always done well, ratings have spiked in recent months despite one of the weakest FM signals in town.

“People love to hear something positive,” said afternoon jock Rhodell Lewis in his deep, soulful voice. “You hear more than enough negativity elsewhere. People need to be uplifted.”

Praise arrived in 2001 as the first FM gospel station in a major market armed with the catchy slogan “The Inspiration Station.” In city steeped in megachurches, it became an instant hit. Long-time AM gospel station WAOK, aware FM was a much better home for music than static-filled AM, switched to news/talk.

CoCo Brother with Darlene McCoy

CoCo Brother …

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Gucci Mane, Ludacris celebrate Hot 107.9’s Birthday Bash 15

gucci-mane

Hot 107.9 in the past has gotten “surprise” guests in the past at its Birthday Bashes such as Mary J. Blige and Jay-Z. This year, for the 15th, they didn’t quite get that star power Saturday night. Rumors of T.I. coming didn’t come to pass. Drake and Trey Songz were in Los Angeles for another concert date.

But the sold-out crowd enjoyed the likes of Atlanta’s hometown boys Lil Jon, Ludacris and Gucci Mane, plus Ciara popped in for Luda’s set. I couldn’t get to Philips Arena until 10:30 p.m., thinking it would go on til midnight but by then, Gucci Mane, the last act, was already on stage. He finished his set with “Wasted” and the show was over at the relatively early hour of 11 p.m.

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TV best bets with returns of ‘Hawthorne,’ ‘Entourage,’ BET Awards,’ ‘Futurama’

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The old is new all over again this week.

First, “Futurama” has gotten a present thanks to Comedy Central, which brings back the animated series after seven long years in exile on Thursday.

Christina on TNT’s hit series “Hawthorne” Tuesday struggles to find her footing at an aging hospital.

That same night on the same network, TNT introduces yet the umpteenth cop drama in the form of “Memphis Beat,” which naturally features Elvis Presley songs galore.

The BET Awards pays homage to Prince on Sunday.

“Entourage” on HBO, in its wheezing seventh season, simply feels old.

MONDAY
“The Bachelorette” 8 p.m. ABC — Ali last week dumped the lame weatherman but kept the strange dude with the tattoo. He can’t last, can he?
“Behind the Music: Courtney Love” 8 p.m. VH1 — Shocking VH1 waited this long to profile this classic train wreck.
“Saving Grace” 9 p.m. TNT (series finale) — After experiencing a spiritual upheaval, Grace returns to Oklahoma City with a new sense of purpose.
“Ultimate …

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Dr. Travis Stork (’The Doctors’) interview for his new book ‘The Doctor Is In’

travis stork

Dr. Travis Stork, the Nashville emergency physician from syndicated health show “The Doctors,”  just wrote a book about health that conveys no gimmicks, no grapefruit diet, no way to lose 30 pounds in 30 days!

Rather, it’s packed with common sense. Dubbed “The Doctor Is In: A 7-Step Prescription for Optimal Wellness,” the book espouses that you take control of your life, that you can find exercise you like and healthy foods that taste good and not cost a fortune. He notes that antibiotics are often overused and not properly prescribed. You don’t need to consume vitamins if you’re eating a properly balanced diets. He also directs people to proper health sites for proper information and not misinformation.

Despite having been on “The Bachelor” (and not marrying the gal he picked), Stork declined to say who he’s now dating, if anybody.

Here’s the video interview I did with him when he visited Atlanta last month:

Travis Stork with WSB head of programming Art Rogers at WSB headquarters. Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Travis Stork with WSB head of programming Art Rogers at WSB …

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NBA finals have biggest ratings in 12 years

The aggressively gripping game seven between the Celtics and the Lakers on ABC drew the biggest ratings for an NBA game in 12 years. It will end up being about 25 million once the finals are in. Locally, the game, in which the Lakers won, averaged 646,000 viewers, peaking at 846,000 viewers in the final 15 minutes. Those are big numbers for Atlanta.

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In other ratings news, “Hot in Cleveland” starring Betty White and Valerie Bertinelli, brought in the hottest ratings ever for TV Land at 4.8 million viewers this past Wednesday.

And “Next Food Network Star” brought in a solid 3.1 million viewers in its second episode this past Sunday. Both Atlantans Herb Mesa and Brianna Jenkins survived despite some personality issues. On “Hell’s Kitchen” on Fox, Jason Ellis may have blown his top and struggled a bit on garnish but also survived while the show drew a respectable 7 million viewers. “Tiny & Toya,” shot in Atlanta, on June 8 had its second lowest ratings to date with 947,000 …

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Video interview with ‘Top Chef Masters’ winner Marcus Samuelsson

I spoke briefly Thursday with Marcus Samuelsson, who blended his Swedish and Ethiopian roots to win Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” last week.

He visited Macy’s at North Point Mall in Alpharetta Thursday evening for a charming food demonstration and sell a few copies of his book “New American Table.”

Credit: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Credit: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Here he is cooking an incredibly delicious fried chicken. He earlier asked folks in the audience for Southern food to try in Atlanta. Shrimp and grits and chicken ‘n waffles were suggested. One woman in the crowd recommended Gladys Knights’ Chicken ‘n Waffles in Midtown, which he said he might visit after the demonstration. (Else, he might have gone to a place to watch the Lakers-Celtics basketball game. He was rooting for the Lakers.)

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Praise, Fish, the River, Kiss have solid May 2010 in Arbitron ratings; V-103, WSB-AM down

the river logo

In May Arbitron ratings, R&B/hip-hop V-103 was tops overall and among 25 to 54 year olds but fell to a rare second place behind Q100 with 18 to 34 year olds.

The “People’s Station’s” ratings were at its lowest since April of last year.

News/talk station WSB-AM used to compete with V-103 for the helm. Not anymore. It has seen its overall ratings slip 29 percent from April, 2009. It had an 8.4 rating then, a 6.0 rating this past May. That’s the lowest for the station since the new people meter system in early 2009, not counting this past Christmas.

The 18-34 numbers almost every month shows an anomaly or two, indicating some flaws in sampling. This month’s turn was 97.1/The River, which plays mostly 70s rock and targets 35-plus listeners, had a stronger rating among 18 to 34 year olds than 25 to 54 year olds for the second month in a row. In fact, it doubled its 18 to 34 numbers over December and ranked a whopping No. 5. It actually beat the Beat, which aggressively targets …

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Atlantan Erin Andrews may bolt from ESPN

andrews ap

In an interview with USA Today, Atlantan Erin Andrews (AP photo, left) says she may leave ESPN when her contract is up in July.

She’s been inundated with offers since the end of her “Dancing With the Stars” run, in which she finished third.

“It’s actually been surprising. I will be honest: I did this show to get happy. I never thought of what it would do for me in my career. It’s crazy.”

Her final assignment as ESPN’s college sports sideline reporter before her contract expires will be coverage of the College World Series starting Saturday. She says she’s weighing everything from hosting to reporting: “I definitely know sports is in there, is in the mix.”

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