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DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

MIKE HUGHES

KIM AKASS

MONIQUE NAZARETH

ROGER CATLIN

GARY EDGERTON

TOM BRINKMOELLER

GERALD JORDAN

NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
FRIDAY
AUGUST 7
2020

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

Disney+, 3:00 a.m. ET

DOCUMENTARY PREMIERE: Some of the best new offerings on Disney+ are the behind-the-scenes documentary specials and miniseries that probe the levels of creativity behind the spells cast by Disney movies, animation, rides, Broadway shows and so on. This new special, Howard, is about lyricist Howard Ashman, whose hit collaborations with composer Alan Menken included the Disney-reviving animated musicals The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast. This new biographical profile, Howard, makes some very revelatory connections between the lyrics and the lyricist, and – to its credit – makes central, rather than shies away from, Ashman’s life as a gay man, and the fact that he was one of the first famous victims of the AIDS virus. Ashman’s collaboration with composer Alan Menken was an Off-Broadway musical from 1979, Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You. Mr. Rosewater. It opened at the WPA Theater, such a tiny and Off-Off-Broadway place that you got a folding chair when you bought your ticket, and carried it upstairs to set up your own seat in one of two makeshift rows around the “stage.” I know, because I saw that production, with my friend Mark Clark, a fellow graduate of Nova High School in Davie, FL. (Apparently, Menken himself played the keyboards at that tiny, charming musical, but why knew?) Opening this documentary, by the way, is a scene of Ashman in the recording booth with Paige O’Hara, as she was recording one of her songs as Belle in the animated Disney movie version of Beauty and the Beast. She, too, is a graduate of Nova High – as is Eric Gould, one of the TVWW editors here. Good school. Good crowd. And, regarding Howard, good documentary.
 
  
 
 

PBS, 9:00 p.m. ET

In 2008, In the Heights won the Tony as Best Musical, serving notice that the composer and star of the show, a young man named Lin-Manuel Miranda, was a Broadway force to keep track of. In years, he and In the Heights co-star Chris Jackson would reunite for Hamilton, which… well, you know the rest of that story. But Miranda’s Broadway success story begins here, captured by a 2009 Great Performances special that charts the path of Heights from initial premise to Broadway triumph. That program is repeated tonight as part of the PBS summer series “Broadway at Home.” Check local listings.
 
  
 
 

HBO, 10:00 p.m. ET

At the end of Avengers: Endgame, Captain America, a.k.a. Steve Rogers (played by Chris Evans) survived, and volunteered to save the rest of humanity by going back in time. Well, Evans himself is resurfacing in the present: He’s one of the scheduled guests on tonight’s Real Time, speaking to Bill Maher remotely – but topically, about a social cause dear to his heart.
 
  
 
 
 
 
Read and add comments HERE for today's Best Bets!
 
 

BUT WAIT... THERE'S MORE!


FRESH AIR FAVES

Audio of Bianculli's favorite 'Fresh Air' reports, and the stories behind them...


FAVES FROM
"THE MORGUE"

Bianculli's favorite newspaper articles, and the stories behind them...


EXTRAS & FEEDBACK

Share your favorite TV in-jokes and first TV loves...
 
 
 

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Television today is better than ever, and David’s book, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific explores it all and how we got here. (Now on sale for $12). David maps the evolution of the classic TV genres – the sitcom, the crime show, doctor dramas, the Western – and many others. "The Platinum Age is an effusive guidebook that plots the path from the 1950s’ Golden Age to today’s era... interviews with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Matt Groening, Larry David, and Amy Schumer are high points. Bianculli has written a highly readable history." –The Washington Post