Tag: Television

‘The Bachelorette’ Meets the Rocky Mountaineer

‘The Bachelorette’ Meets the Rocky Mountaineer Photo by uli harder via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by uli harder via Flickr (Creative Commons)

British Columbia and reality TV: together at last.

For any BC-philes out there who want to catch an eyeful of Canada’s westernmost province (and don’t mind swallowing a televised dating show to do so), here’s a heads-up that “The Bachelorette” kicks off a three-episode tour tonight at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Bachelorette Jillian will bring her remaining suitors north of the border to her hometown, Vancouver, for sea kayaking, curling and—I hope for their sake—a taste of the city’s abundant Asian food offerings. Next week brings adrenaline thrills in Whistler and, on June 22, the trip concludes with a ride on the Rocky Mountaineer—from everything I’ve heard, a trip that is jaw-hits-tray-table stunning.

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It’s a Reality TV World, After All

It’s a Reality TV World, After All Photo by Aaron Escobar via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Aaron Escobar via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Is reality television a viable conduit for cross-cultural understanding? It’s an interesting question now that the world has gone reality TV-mad.  Global versions of “Big Brother” have sparked discussions on everything from racism to AIDS, and wacky game shows continue to fascinate foreigners trying to understand Japan.

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Museums on Film: Three Memorable Moments

Museums on Film: Three Memorable Moments Photo by brainware3000 via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by brainware3000 via Flickr (Creative Commons)

With Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian set to open this weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about museums and the movies. The first Night at the Museum, released in 2006 and set at a fictionalized version of the American Museum of Natural History, raked in money at the box office and is credited with increasing attendance at the real-life Upper West Side museum by as much as 20 percent. According to USA Today, the Smithsonian is hoping to see similar benefits from its featured role in the sequel.

The two Ben Stiller vehicles may be remarkable for the amount of traffic they’re driving to museums, but they’re not unusual in their choice of setting. Museums and galleries have played prominent roles in any number of films and television shows over the years. Here, with apologies for my clear bias towards New York City and romance, are three of my favorite museum movie moments.

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Dear ‘American Idol’: How About Some Road Tunes?

I’ll admit it: For the first time since Clay Aiken came in second and got all the glory anyway, I’ve been following “American Idol” this year. I’m a pretty halfhearted viewer—I tend to browse the recaps the next day, and then find the performances that interest me on YouTube—but I’ve still managed to take note of the various theme nights the “Idol” producers have come up with. Opry Night, Idol at the Movies, Rat Pack Standards, even Disco: the diversity of American musical eras and traditions represented is admirable.

Nonetheless, I’m left wondering about one great American tradition that “Idol” seems to have overlooked. Where’s the homage to road music?

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Brazilian Favelas, ‘Top Model’ Style

Brazilian Favelas, ‘Top Model’ Style Photo by .insanidades via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by .insanidades via Flickr (Creative Commons)

It’s not often that my life as a travel media watcher and my life as an occasional (OK, OK—regular) viewer of “America’s Next Top Model” overlap. So imagine my surprise last night when this season’s crop of would-be models landed in a Sao Paulo favela for an “edgy” Carmen Miranda-inspired photo shoot. Needless to say, the segment didn’t have much in common with the tales of favela-based slum tourism that I’ve read in the past.

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‘Out of the Wild’: Adventures in Tastelessness?

A new travel reality show premiered on the Discovery Channel this week. Out of the Wild: The Alaska Experiment follows nine people who’ve been dropped into the middle of the Alaskan wilderness, with “just three days of survival training and limited supplies.” And, the promo claims dramatically, “Not everyone will make it Out of the Wild.” Sound familiar? Hey, yeah, that is kind of like what happened to that McCandless kid, now that I think about it.

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Would You Take a Trip to TV Town?

Would You Take a Trip to TV Town? Photo by Sophia Dembling
Photo by Sophia Dembling

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. It’s the only town in the world named for a TV show. In 1950, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the show (which started on radio), the producers challenged a town to change its name to Truth or Consequences and the anniversary show would be taped there.

This southern New Mexico town, then called Hot Springs, voted overwhelmingly in favor of the change and from then on, its patron saint celebrity was host Ralph Edwards, who returned to the town many times until his death in 2005.

T or C has voted a couple of times since on whether it should return to its old name, but the TV name has stuck. After all, towns called Hot Springs are a dime a dozen.

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Ken Burns on National Parks

Ken Burns on National Parks Photo courtesy of PBS.
Photo courtesy of PBS.

This week, President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009, which designates more than two million acres as wilderness and creates new scenic, historic and recreational trails. His stimulus plan also includes sinking some badly needed money into our national parks.

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‘Survivor’: Coming to a Theme Park Near You

Move over, American Idol: “Survivor” is the latest reality TV phenomenon to get the theme-park treatment—and no, sadly, I don’t mean that the next season will force young parents to survive 40 days in the Magic Kingdom. (Now that, I would watch.)

Instead, CBS has created “Survivor: Live,” a free stage show that will visit three U.S. theme parks this summer, with plans for an expanded touring schedule next summer. Variety reports: “The half-hour ‘Survivor: Live’ will use clips from the TV series—as well as actors portraying previous contestants—and divide the audience into four ‘tribes.’ Volunteers from the crowd will go through a series of four challenges, leading eventually to a sole winner.” Weight loss from The Survivor Diet not included. (Via The Remote Island)


A Little Bit of Botswana Comes to HBO

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, a television adaptation of the popular Alexander McCall Smith novels, premieres on HBO this weekend. The series follows the adventures of Botswana’s only female detective, Precious Ramotswe, played by Jill Scott; Anthony Minghella cowrote and directed the two-hour pilot before his death, and he and Sydney Pollack (also since deceased) were both producers on the project.

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Fox Seeks Optimism in Bhutan

We haven’t seen much of Michael J. Fox on television in recent years, but now the former Spin City actor has surfaced—surprisingly—in Bhutan. Following in the footsteps of World Hum contributor Eric Weiner, Fox visited the Himalayan nation this month to investigate the country’s vaunted Gross National Happiness policy, as part of a television special on the nature of optimism, due to air in May. 

I’m wondering what Fox uncovered given that Bhutan marks its one-year anniversary as a democracy this week. As we’ve seen elsewhere in the world, that transition can trigger a less-than-optimistic mood in the general populace. I haven’t seen much coverage of how things are going in Bhutan; perhaps it’s time for a Geography of Bliss sequel.


Dora the Explorer: Now Packing Lipstick

Yup, one of our favorite fictional travelers is all grown up. A “teaser silhouette” of the new Dora, released a couple weeks back, stirred up controversy, with parents worrying about the “sexy” image being projected to their children. Now the final image has been made public—and yes, as we suspected, Dora is now clearly packing makeup, accessories, and some serious hair product for her travels. “If the Dora we knew grew up,” laments one parent’s petition, “she wouldn’t be a fashion icon or a shopaholic. She’d develop her map reading skills and imagine the places she could go.”

What do you think? Is the new Dora too sexy, or is this a tempest in a talking backpack?


Think You’ve Got What it Takes for ‘The Amazing Race’?

The Los Angeles Times’ Daily Deal blog has the details on a casting call for the hard-traveling reality TV show’s upcoming 15th season. Application videos are being filmed this weekend at open calls in 13 U.S. locations.


Dark Days: ‘Cheers’ Bartender Gets a Pink Slip

Dark Days: ‘Cheers’ Bartender Gets a Pink Slip Photo by schwuk via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Is nothing sacred anymore? Apparently not. Eddie Doyle, the real-life inspiration for Sam Malone and Co., has been laid off from Boston’s famous “Cheers” bar after 35 years. Doyle had stayed on long past the finale of the television series he helped launch, and was a fixture on the Boston tourism circuit.

“At the height of the show’s popularity,” the AP story notes, “3,000 people would pass through the bar daily and 5,000 on weekends.” A friend and fellow bartender called it “the end of an era,” and praised Doyle’s gift for chatting with customers: “If you want to feel good about yourself you go in and see Eddie Doyle, whether you were a total stranger or a longtime friend.” (Via The Remote Island)


From ‘CSI’ to ‘Castle’: Traveling the World, One Crime Show at a Time

From ‘CSI’ to ‘Castle’: Traveling the World, One Crime Show at a Time Photo by aturkus via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by aturkus via Flickr (Creative Commons)

We’ve written before about crime novels being a prime source for vivid place-based writing. But how about traveling vicariously through the now-ubiquitous crime show? I’d argue that television travel can be just as effective and enjoyable.

Of course, a forty-four minute episode doesn’t allow for the same richness and depth of detail as you’d find in a book, but you can pack a lot of local color—both sights and sounds—into even the briefest street scene. Think of the all-powerful CSI franchise: from the juicy opening shots of the Las Vegas strip or the Manhattan skyline—sorry Miami, I just can’t handle Horatio—to the plot lines often derived from existing local traditions, quirks or trends (think the original CSI’s frequent tributes to Vegas’ wild mob-ruled past), each of the shows is deeply rooted in its host city. And while the main story lines are certainly glitzed up and sensationalized (not to mention acted out by improbably attractive law enforcement officers), you can still pick up a lot of legit local detail from them: I first heard of narcocorridos in a CSI episode about the Mexican community in Las Vegas, and saw handball played for the first time in an episode of CSI: NY—now, walking around Queens during my stay here, I see the game being played daily.

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New York Dubs West 53rd St. ‘U2 Way’

New York Dubs West 53rd St. ‘U2 Way’ Photo by The Truth About... via Flickr (Creative Commons)

In honor of the Irish band’s unprecedented five-night appearance on Letterman this week, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has temporarily renamed a section of West 53rd Street “U2 Way,” the AP reports. The section being renamed is close to the intersection of 53rd and Broadway, where the Late Show is taped. It’s a fine idea, I suppose (and a nice bonus promotion for the brand-new album, too), but if any street in North America is going to be named after U2, shouldn’t it be the one where this video was filmed? (Via NewYorkology)


Filmed Here: ‘Gossip Girl’

So here’s the dilemma: New York’s Restaurant Week has been extended, you’ve got a friend visiting from Canada, and you’d like to take advantage of the deal as a special treat. But how to choose just one of the 150 participating restaurants before making your reservation? Well, if you’re a sucker for teen television dramas (guilty), then naturally you book at the restaurant recently featured on “Gossip Girl.” Which is how I found myself at Butter for an unfashionably early dinner on Sunday night.

(Butter, in case you haven’t been keeping track, is the restaurant where Jenny Humphrey—aka Little J, the “poor” girl who lives with her aging rock star dad in a fabulous DUMBO loft—and Blair—the teen queen of the Upper East Side—staged a major showdown on Jenny’s 15th birthday back in season one.)

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‘American Idol’ and Disney World, Together at Last

disney Photo by d4rr3ll via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by d4rr3ll via Flickr (Creative Commons)

We’ve had movies inspired by theme park rides, and roller coasters inspired by rock anthems, so isn’t it about time we had a theme park attraction inspired by the “reality” television craze? (I’m a little far removed from my college philosophy classes to say for sure, but I suspect there’s a meta-something at work here.) Yes, the American Idol Experience opened at DisneyWorld this weekend. Here’s how it works: visitors can choose to perform on a re-created “Idol” stage, or to sit in the audience and vote. At the end of each day, the lucky hopeful who receives the most audience votes lands a Dream Ticket to an actual “American Idol” audition.

There is no option for visitors to sit at the judging table and hurl abuse at the contestants; still, I suspect the new attraction will be a hit. The Traveling Mamas have posted a (snark-free) review, and there’s a clip previewing the American Idol Experience after the jump:

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I Resent That

“Business Week” recently ran a list of America’s Most and Least Favorite Cities, and my home town of Dallas ranked ninth least favorite. Adding insult to injury, the article says, “The top negative attributes, according to the survey, were the people—their backgrounds, talents, and perspectives (49%); environment—climate, park space, natural resources (39%); and image (38%).”

Well. Harumph.

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Is Winnipeg Canada’s Answer to Scranton?

That depends on who you ask. Michael Scott and Co. will be taking a business trip to the Manitoban capital in an upcoming episode of the hit TV show “The Office.” But why Winnipeg? Apparently, the show’s producers figured it was a good fit because it’s “similar to Scranton, but with a Canadian flair.” Destination Winnipeg begs to differ: “No offence to Scranton,” said a city tourism representative, “but we like to think of ourselves as a cosmopolitan centre.”