KVUE debuts new set

KVUE took the wraps off its new set Sunday night.

The set, from Jack Morton Worldwide, replaces one that first debuted in 2001 and underwent a refresh in 2008.

Jack Morton Worldwide has designed similar sets for a number of KVUE’s sister stations across the country.

“We’re so thankful that our parent company Tegna believes deeply in quality, local journalism,” KVUE president and general manager Kristie Gonzales said. “Their investment in KVUE allowed us to build a state-of-the-art set, inspired by Austin.”

Construction on the set started in mid-2017 in a secondary studio, allowing the ABC affiliate to continue broadcasting from its old set without interruption.

The focal point of the new 360-degree set is an array of flat-screens that sits behind the news anchors. Aside from the main anchor desk, there’s also a weather center and an interview area.

“KVUE has always set the standard in Austin for innovation,” news director Tim Ryan said. “We’ve integrated all the tools at our disposal to tell Austin’s story in real time, help the KVUE Storm Team keep you on top of the ever-changing weather in Central Texas and have a little fun, too.”

Now that the new set has debuted, the studio where the old set is located will be converted into production space.

 

Reality show seeks contestants to ‘fearlessly tackle Austin’

Producers of a new reality show are in search of contestants ready to “fearlessly tackle Austin.”

That could include out-of-towners, they say, or even folks who already live here.

The unnamed show, which is set to air on a “major cable network” says it’s looking to cast “all types”: best friends, couples, families, roommates and even single folks.

Austin Skiyline from the boardwalk south of the lake in 2016. Nell Carroll/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

People selected will live rent-free in “the greatest apartment building in Austin.”

You must be at least 18 and a U.S. citizen to be considered.

Filming is expected to begin in May.

That’s about it in terms of details being provided by the casting company, Lime Pictures.

Interested? Head here to apply.

KVUE meteorologist Jared Plushnick leaving at week’s end

KVUE weekend evening meteorologist Jared Plushnick is leaving the station at the end of this week, bound for Tennessee.

Plushnick, who joined KVUE in 2014 after working at the NBC affiliate in College Station, announced on Facebook that he’s been hired to be the morning meteorologist at WKRN in Nashville.

His final broadcast will be Friday, when he fills in on KVUE’s 11 a.m. newscast.

From his Facebook post: “To all of our loyal viewers…. I want to say THANK YOU for being the best! It is bittersweet that I announce that this will be my final week with KVUE. I have enjoyed each day working here and living in Austin. My wife and I made many life long friends. Texas will be very close to our hearts. Also, you….our fans, viewers, supporters have made my time here incredible.”

Jared Plushnick (KVUE photo)

ATX Televison Fest cancels session on violence after Orlando shootings

ATX-Television-Festival-Logo-932x932

 

The ATX Television Festival canceled a scheduled panel discussion of violence on Sunday because of the mass killings in Orlando, Fla.

The session, titled Viewer Discretion Advised, was described as dealing with the violence show in various series and how appropriate it might be to tell a story.

The announcement came via Twitter and Facebook, from festival co-founders Emily Gipson and Caitlin McFarland.  They said, “Out of respect for victims of the tragedy in Orlando last night, we won’t be holding the Viewer Discretion Advised panel today. While it is a very important conversation to have, today does not feel like the the time to have it. Viewer Discretion Advised panel is cancelled.”

The panelists who were scheduled to appear were Austin’s Noah Hawley, the showrunner for “Fargo”; Kurt Sutter (“Sons of Anarchy”), Jack Amiel (“The Knick”), Brian Michael Bendis (“Powers”) and Universal TV VP of drama Stacey Silverman.

 

Stephen Colbert’s advice to Ted Cruz: ‘Buck up. There’s no crying in sport-ball’

Ted Cruz, the U.S. senator and Texas Republican seeking the GOP nomination for president, has become the underdog, much like that scrappy high-school basketball team in the 1986 classic sports drama, “Hoosiers.”

 

On Tuesday night, while stumping for crucial GOP primary votes in Indiana, Cruz tried to re-create a memorable scene from the movie in the same gymnasium where it was filmed. The spectacle proved more awkward than inspiring, especially after calling the hoop a “basketball ring.”

Knowing that Cruz trails Trump in GOP delegates and is mathematically unable to beat the GOP front-runner, Stephen Colbert on Wednesday night tried to rally Cruz in sports terms only he would understand.

“Buck up. There’s no crying in sport-ball,” Colbert said. “You gotta keep bouncing that leather balloon down the wood room. You gotta dig long and down on the ground to give 110 degrees. Leave it all on the place where it happens, because winning isn’t all of the things, it’s the only stuff.”

Cruz, though, has a penchant for cribbing from Hollywood movies to make rhetorical points.

For instance, you might recall that after Republican rival Donald Trump retweeted a meme last month that unfavorably compared the appearance of Cruz’s wife to Trump’s wife, Melania, a former model, Cruz defended his wife’s honor on national TV by stealing a line from the Aaron Sorkin-penned movie “The American President.”

HBO’s ‘Vinyl’: When records, and the folks who made them, were still king

How do you know you are in a Martin Scorsese movie? Look for the following:

  • A massive coke snort in the back of the limo (the first of many, so many that one wonders if it’s a product placement).
  • A voice-over letting us know backstory we would have to otherwise infer (or learn from another character).
  • Loving shots of recreated 1970s downtown New York, all underbelly and tagged subway cars.
  • The worship of old blues, 50s R&B and primeval early rock ‘n’ roll, to the point where several songs are given their own here-is-the-artist-in-the-imagination-of-the-main-character scenes.
  • An act of savage violence that isn’t completely necessary to the plot but acts as a catharsis for a central character.
  • Mick Jagger’s son in a slightly mystifying role.

A few of these apply to any number of his films, but if the answer is “all of the above,” you are in “Vinyl,” the new 10-episode series airing on HBO, the two-hour pilot for which airs Sunday. Written by “Vinyl” showrunner Terence Winter (“Sopranos,” Boardwalk Empire”), the pilot was directed by Scorsese, who co-created the show with Winter, Rich Cohen and Mick Jagger.

Bobby Cannavale in "Vinyl
Bobby Cannavale in “Vinyl

‘Vinyl” follows Richie Finestra (Bobby Canavale), whose record label American Century is in a bit of a transitional moment. It is 1973 and Finestra is ready to sell the label to the German multinational PolyGram.

But A.C. is struggling: they don’t have the next big thing, nor do they have Led Zeppelin, who they have promised Poly they will sign.

Finestra has the gorgeous wife (Olivia Wilde), the mansion in Connecticut and a few entertaining underlings: Ray Romano is the radio promotions guy Zak Yankovich, prone to slipping some $20 bills and an eight ball of coke to DJs, Max Casella is A&R chief Julie Silver (who we learn passed on Abba) and J.C. MacKenzie is Skip Fontaine, the sort of accountant who can make a load of albums disappear into the East River for tax purposes. (Andrew Dice Clay, of whom I never tire in dramatic roles, is hypnotic as a nasty radio executive.)

The pilot takes its extremely padded time following two threads: where Richie is now (struggling to figure out what his next step is) and how he got there (managing, then screwing over, a young blues musician (Ato Essandoh); doing time at a label cranking out the ’50s R&B Essandoh’s character called “kiddie music”).

The Nasty Bits in 'Vinyl"
The Nasty Bits in ‘Vinyl”

Elsewhere, an ambitious Century gofer (Juno Temple) —  who seems responsible for maintaining the label’s stash of every drug you could possibly want — decides to back a young punk band called the Nasty Bits, whose (bafflingly British) lead singer is played by Jagger’s son James.

(This bit of casting feels just as weird as that time Adrien Brody went from Queens to England to discover punk rock via the Who in “Summer of Sam?” Anyone remember that? Yeah, probably not.)

While the New York Dolls were destroying stages at that point, ’73 is slightly early for this kind of punk. That said, in perhaps the show’s only ingenious move, the Nasty Bits’ music is that of Jack Ruby, a brilliant proto-punk act who were indeed a few years ahead of their time.

It is hard to know exactly what to make of “Vinyl,” except that for every trashy moment that connects (or is at least vaguely entertaining), there are a dozen more that are cringe-worthy Scorsese by-numbers. (Not to mention the egregious coincidences: Ritchie’s limo driver JUST HAPPENS to drive him by a party where DJs JUST HAPPEN to be cutting up records in a way awfully reminiscent of what would become hip-hop.)

Much the like the casino scenes in “Casino,” the stuff about how the record business worked back then is kind of fun (the music supervision, by increasingly legendary supervisor Randall Poster, is top-notch). But, also a bit like “Casino,” everything else (Finestra’s blues fetishism, his excesses, his marital woes) feels warmed over and dull.

There were also the sorts of factual errors that make music nerds nuts but your average “Entourage” fan won’t care about: No, the Mercer Arts Center did not collapse during a Dolls show (if it had, many, MANY more people would have died). Yes, Led Zep’s manager Peter Grant was about twice the size of the actor who played him. Would a British punk in 1973 really be THAT offended by hearing Slade in a record company office? Probably not. (I will just assume they couldn’t license “Dark Side of the Moon” or something of that ilk.)

But, just to zoom out for a bit, it’s my firm belief that pop music in general and rock music were topics about which it was massively difficult to write really good literary fiction.

There are a few decent exceptions: “A Visit from the Goon Squad” does a good job, “Ten Thousand Saints” (a good book which was turned into a movie almost nobody saw) was another.

Film and television doesn’t do such a hot job either. Sure, I enjoy Fox’s “Empire,” but that show is exceptionally canny about its balance of music-making, office politics and shooting people in the face.

(Small aside: You know who would love “Vinyl?” Christopher Moltasanti. Not only is he the ultimate Scorsese fan (recall what he shouts to Scorsese in an early Sopanros episode (“Marty! ‘Kundun’… I liked it!”) but he was the central character in “A Hit is a Hit,” maybe the best episode of television ever made about popular music.  That episode does nearly everything “Vinyl” tries to do but does it richer, smarter and funnier.)

Anyway, the scenes that work best in, say, “Almost Famous,” a movie I have softened on in my dotage, aren’t the scenes of the band on stage (though the performances are uniformly excellent) but of the main character as a FAN — the wonder on the kids’ face as he flips through his sisters records might be the movie’s most perfect moment of actually relating to the music: its wonder, its power.

Same with “Velvet Goldmine,” I movie I like probably far more than it deserves. As a movie about fandom, it is a blast. As a meditation on the actual power of glam, it is less strong.

“Vinyl” wants to be about both the business and the music, to focus equally on both the “suits” and the musicians. This feels like a mistake.  For example, how much less cringe-worthy (and braver) would “Vinyl” be if we never saw the actors playing Zeppelin or the Dolls? If we only heard a recording by the actual artist, not a warmed-over cover by some all-stars.

My favorite moment in “Vinyl” comes when Finestra sees the Dolls, one of the greatest rock bands that ever existed.

He isn’t dancing, he is too overwhelmed, he doesn’t want to miss a detail. It was the only time the felt experience of seeing and hearing truly great music felt authentic.

THAT is what having good ears is like.