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Weekend reflections on weather reports, movies, golf and soccer

By Alan Pergament

It is time to complain about the weather.

It was too nice over the weekend.

That was certainly true compared to the weather forecasts on local news, which I am really complaining about.

I suppose it was my own fault, but I trusted them.

I'm not complaining about anyone in particular, because I am sure if I did Channel 4's Pope Don Paul would complain that I misread his analysis.

I channel surf a lot in my job and late last week I heard the weather experts say that although Friday was gorgeous, there was going to be a decent amount of rain over the weekend.

So I planned accordingly.

Because that's what the local meteorologists do -- help us plan our weekends. 

Rather than go to Canalside to soak in the sun and the music, I went to a movie late Saturday afternoon, "A Most Wanted Man" with Philip Seymour Hoffman. I was happy to check out the renovated North Park Theater, which was finally showing a movie I cared to see.

It was great. The North Park, that is. The movie not so much. Hoffman was terrrific as usual, but it is easier to figure out what Jon Bon Jovi really thinks about whether they Buffalo Bills should be moved than it was to understand the dark plot of the film based on a John le Carre story.

I think the film was OK even if it was over-rated nationally. But then again, I think every movie this summer has been over-rated. That is except "Boyhood," which I saw in New York City more than a week ago and plan to see again when it arrives here. It is the best movie of the summer. It is almost three hours long and you hardly notice it.

But back to Saturday afternoon.

I fully expected to emerge from the darkness of " A Most Wanted Man" to see the predicted ran.

However, it was sunny outside. Very sunny.

The rain never came Saturday, but surely would arrive Sunday afternoon as predicted.

Or not.

Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me.

So I went off to the driving range Sunday in the countryside with the top of a convertible down, not caring if the rains came. I haven't hit a golf ball on the range in more than two years, but was inspired by a recent "Real Sports" report on HBO that said the sport is in serious trouble because it is too expensive, takes too long to play and is too frustrating.

If it is easier to get on a course now, then maybe I should get back in the game.

The golf piece wasn't even the most compelling in that "Real Sports" episode, which I saw late Saturday night.

The most compelling piece was about the migrant workers in Qatar, who are building the facilities for the World Cup in 2022 in oppressive conditions that have led to hundreds, if not thousands, of deaths. 

And the workers can't get out of their jobs, either, and go home to their native countries.

It is a very, very sad, inhumane story that makes you wonder how the United States can possibly compete in the soccer tournament in Qatar unless FIFA steps in immediately and forces the mega-rich country to change its ways. Affter all, playing at Qatar would seem to be condoning what is being done there. 

You would think that some pressure from the United States, which had a large percentage of fans at the World Cup matches recently completed in Brazil, would also help change things.     

But back to golf.

I was terrible. But that was as predictable as the weather people getting it wrong sometimes. The rains stayed away until late at night, when it didn't really matter.

It looks like rain this morning, which means I might head back to the movies. I just wish "Boyhood" was playing here so I could see it again. 


Reprising a memorable interview with James Garner

By Alan Pergament

When I read all the glowing and deserved tributes to the late James Garner online and in newspapers after his death Saturday, I decided I couldn't add much to the praise of his everyman likability, charm and good looks. He was what my father would refer to as a man's man.

My dad also used to say "there is only one Paul Newman." "There is only one Clark Gable." "There is only one Humphrey Bogart."

It was his highest praise of an actor.

I'm sure if he were alive, my dad would have said, "there was only one James Garner." 

Garner's TV success in "Maverick" and "The Rockford Files" predated my time as a television critic even if some of you think I've been doing this forever.

I watched those series as a regular viewer and admired Garner's ability to make characters who engaged in questionable behavior become appealing anyway.

But I don't remember much about all those episodes. Heck, I don't remember much about this season's episodes of "House of Cards."

Once I became a TV critic, I didn't have time to watch what I liked in the past. I had to focus on the present and future.

What I did remember was being in Los Angeles for a press conference appearance by Garner with television critics 20 years ago. I didn't remember writing the story, but thanks to a search of this newspaper's online library I found the story with my byline and re-read it.

In 1994, he was promoting six, two-hour versions of "The Rockford Files” that he agreed to make after several years of saying no to returning as private detective Jim Rockford. He also was co-starring in that summer's feature film remake of "Maverick."

Here is an edited version of the 1994 column, which I felt after reading it again captures Garner's spirit,  sense of humor, work ethic, wit and view of the moral responsibility of entertainment.

After years of saying no to returning as private detective Jim Rockford, Garner has agreed to make six two-hour versions of "The Rockford Files" for CBS over the next two years.

Why has he finally decided to reprise an Emmy-winning role that is making a new generation of fans on cable''s Arts & Entertainment channel?

"Money!"" deadpanned Garner. "I'm being -- I think I'm being funny. You want to know the real truth? I'm of an age that I don't know if I could do this three or four years down the line. And I want to do it. And if I'm going to do it, I should do it now. And it's a wonderful character to do; it's been very successful in my life, and I'd like to give it one more shot.

"I used to love to get up and go to work every day. My alarm never went off. I was up before it, and I went to work and I was always early. And I stayed there, and I was the last guy leaving the set because I enjoyed it so much. And I want to do that again."

Also returning: Original cast members Stuart Margolin as his ex-con friend, Angel Martin, and Joe Santos as irascible Detective Dennis Becker. But Garner said Noah Berry has suffered a couple of strokes and won't be able to return as Rockford's dad.

More importantl, creator Stephen J. Cannell and writers Juanita Bartlett and David Chase are aboard doing three of the scripts.

Chase (editor’s note: He went on to fame as the creator of "The Sopranos") said the first movie will bring "everyone up to speed to where Rockford is today."

Actually, he hasn't gone far. He is still living on the beach in the trailer.

"This guy can get nowhere fast!" cracked Garner.

One place Garner isn't going is the Universal lot to shoot the films. Garner, who was in a celebrated financial dispute with the studio over profits from the original series, wasn't about to enter the lot.

"I told this to the Universal people when we were negotiating," said Garner. ""To drive onto that lot every day to me would be like sticking a knife in my ribs and reminding me of a very bad circumstance before."

How can he be sure that the problems with Universal won't happen again?

"The deal is different," said Garner. "To put it very simply, they give me the money, we give them the film."

Garner, whose effortless charm was on display for the entire interview, credits his writers for the success of the original show, which ran from 1974 to 1980.

"I love the character of Rockford," said Garner. "It's a wonderful, wonderful antihero. . . . The character's always appealed to me because he's not your average, run-of-the-mill hero."

He will change only slightly, according to Chase.

"His attitudes have not changed," said Chase. "The only thing we can say is, Los Angeles is a vastly different city, and he's found it more and more difficult to live in L.A."

Garner agrees that today's antiheroes don't have the same sense of humor as Maverick and Rockford and often tend to be more mean-spirited.

"I have problems with some of the heroes today who must kill all those people,"said Garner. "I don't  know what it is about producers and writers who have to kill 30 people in the first reel.

"I don't think it's particularly good entertainment. I don't think it's that exciting and I think there's a moral responsibility. Particularly if you're going to do something for television, you have a moral responsibility to do things that are not detrimental to society."

By just making "Rockford" again, Garner is doing his bit for society.

"I get it every day," said Garner. "When are you going to do 'Rockford' again? It's very pleasing to know that people want it."

'Sharknado 2' scenes shot here in trailer for July 30 film

By Alan Pergament

Remember in April when I speculated that scenes for "Sharknado 2: The Second One" were being shot here near the Hotel Lafayette?

Now it can be confirmed that the area did indeed stand in for New York City, where the sequel to last year's surprise summer hit is set.

The funny trailer for the film, which airs on cable's Syfy at 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 30, includes a few crowd scenes shot near the Brisbane Building. Here take a look:


Related content:

Berry makes "Extant" well worth a summer look

By Alan Pergament 

If Halle Berry had starred in "Gravity" instead of Sandra Bullock, I might have thought the film was out of this world instead of hating it.

OK, probably not.

But I probably would have been able to tolerate the 90 or so minutes of the overrated space odyssey a little better.

This is my way of saying I was predisposed to liking Berry’s new CBS series, "Extant," which premieres at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

This isn't to say the pilot showcases the beautiful movie star -- who started her acting career in television -- in the best light early. In the first scene, she is losing her lunch and tells her young son "my body is readjusting."

She plays Molly, who has been up in space for 13 months by herself and is getting readjusted to live on earth. The brief time Molly is in space comes during some occasional flashbacks.

Continue reading "Berry makes "Extant" well worth a summer look" »

Goo Goo Dolls, Ronald Reagan movie are front and center

By Alan Pergament 

Leftovers after the long holiday:

The Goo Goo Dolls will be "Front and Center" on WNED-TV and across the nation on Saturday, July 26.

WNED is carrying the performance taped at the Iridium in New York City at 1 a.m., 30 minutes after the publicist for the popular television concert series said it will air in some parts of the country nationally.

That should give concert-goers plenty of time to return from Alternative Buffalo's Kerfuffle at Canalside, where indie pop artists Cage the Elephant, Bear Hands, Big Data, Bleachers, Brick + Mortar, Kongos, The Crystal Method are scheduled to perform starting at 2:30 p.m. July 26.

OK, I admit I’'ve never heard of any of them. (That became obvious when I thought Kerfuffle was the name of a band.)

But I've heard plenty of the Goos and some of their tunes are even on my Ipod. The set list includes "Iris," "Slide," "Let Love In," "Naked," "Here is Gone," "Rebel Beat," "Black Balloon," "Come to Me," "Name," "Sympathy," "Stay with You" and "Better Days."

Continue reading "Goo Goo Dolls, Ronald Reagan movie are front and center" »

WNED's Olmsted program is beautifully designed

By Alan Pergament

Near the end of the latest national WNED-TV co-production, "Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America," landscape architect Faye Harwell summarizes what it meant to her as a child in New York City visiting one of his parks.

"I had no clue I was in an Olmsted park," said Harwell. "I just knew I was in a place I really loved."

Harwell, who is on the Board of Trustees of the National Association for Olmsted Parks, added the Olmsted parks really had a "huge impact on human experience in America."

I'm pretty sure that many Western New Yorkers can relate. When they are in Delaware Park, Front Park or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park, they probably don't think much about the impact of the 19th century landscape architect who designed them, as well as Central Park in New York City and scores of parks around the country.

A viewer should think of this beautifully-designed hour program -- which airs locally and nationally at 9 tonight and repeats locally at 8 p.m. Sunday -- in the same way they might think about what they plan to do when visiting one of Olmsted's parks.

It is beautiful to look at and admire, takes some interesting detours and reminds you that it is wise to find time to pause to contemplate -- in this case about one man's impact on our community and the nation.

Continue reading "WNED's Olmsted program is beautifully designed " »

"Sharknado 2" update is as funny as the first movie

By Alan Pergament

Here's an update on whether the scenes filmed almost two weeks ago at Lafayette Square with extras wielding chain saws, shovels and axes were for "Sharknado 2:" The Second Coming."

A spokesperson for The Aslyum, the production company that shot the original campy success and is shooting the sequel, said Thursday that even the company doesn't know the answer yet for sure.

"It could be for Sharknado 2, it might not be," she explained from Los Angeles, where the original was set.

However, she confirmed one thing: As some of the extras in the scenes suspected, the director of the scenes shot in downtown Buffalo and at the Lockport Cave Attraction definitely was Anthony Ferrante, who directed "Sharknado" and is directing the sequel. According to a source, he was here incognito as "Carl." Ferrnate's involvement led to speculation from extras here that they were filming "Sharknado 2." In addition, Buffalo was a stand-in for New York City, where "Sharknado 2" is set.

However, the spokesperson said that Ferrante is involved in several projects for The Asylum. In addition, the company has done other programs involving sharks, including "Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octupus." (I kid you not.) And there there is the classic "Mega Shark Vs. Mecha Shark." (I'm not making this up.)

She added that the footage here could be what are referred to "as plates of scenes" that can be inserted into multiple movies in post-production. "They create a lbrary of stock shots," she said. 

"Sharknado 2" currently is in post-production so it won't be long before The Asylum decides if any scenes shot here will make the film that premieres July 30 on Syfy.

"I don't think they even know the answer yet," the spokesperson concluded.

"Mad Men," "Draft Day" are wise selections

By Alan Pergament

Sometimes I am asked more about why I chose not to write about things rather than what I have written about.

Take the case of Sunday's seventh season premiere of "Mad Men."

I tweeted that I had seen it before it aired, which had some people wondering why I didn't review it.

There were a couple of reasons why. It had been a pretty busy week. Something newsy came up every day I planned to review it.

In addition, I was a little concerned about accidentally violating the ground rules that AMC gave critics who were allowed to preview the episode.

Continue reading ""Mad Men," "Draft Day" are wise selections " »

Was that really "Sharknado 2" filming here?

By Alan Pergament

I ran into the filming of a movie on Lafayette Square Sunday morning that I was told had the tentative title of "Alligator Apocalypse" and was produced by the same company behind last summer's campy Syfy channel and social media hit "Sharknado." 

Extras were supposedly battling imaginary alligators last weekend at the corner of Clinton and Washington Streets with chain saws, axes, pitchforks and shovels as Buffalo stood in for New York City, where the film is set.

But was that title purposely misleading by The Asylum, which is the film's production company?

Some suspicious extras believe they were really involved in the sequel, "Sharknado 2: The Second Coming," that is set in New York City.

Continue reading "Was that really "Sharknado 2" filming here?" »

Ellen, Milbury, ex-Ch.2 reporter all take shots

By Alan Pergament

This is what I'm thinking:

While the local ratings for Sunday night's Academy Awards were up 10 percent from a year ago to a 27.2, there was a noticeable dropoff in the final 15 minutes of the program before "12 Years a Slave" was named best picture.

The rating from 11:45 p.m. to midnight on Channel 7 was 24.9, which made it the lowest 15 minutes of the entire 3 and a half hour program. It was 25.3 from 11:30 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. when Matthew McConaughey and Cate Blanchett won the big acting awards and that was lower than every 15 minutes except for at the program's start at 8:30 p.m. and at 11:45 p.m.

This confirms my view that the best way to watch the Oscars is to DVR the final hour and watch all the major categories on Monday morning before you go to work so you can join the water cooler talk.

Continue reading "Ellen, Milbury, ex-Ch.2 reporter all take shots" »

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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

@StillTalkinTV |