Holiday heist


As mentioned on Tuesday, the Now Playing Podcast schedule has been updated through the end of the year, and the highlight (for me at least) is the Ocean’s Eleven Retrospective Series.

I talked with the hosts — Arnie, Jakob and Stuart — covering the series, below is a bit from the story posted on the Venganza Media website:

Q: These movies were hard to miss, what are your Ocean’s memories?

Stuart: I have only seen the first George Clooney movie, and my memory of it is vague but pleasant. I tend to like series’ with a long history to them.

Jakob: I’ve actually seen that first one a handful of times and I remember almost nothing of [Ocean’s] Twelve. I can only hope the sequels have that party vibe of Ocean’s Eleven. That’s why we decided to transition from 2014 to 2015 with these films. Everyone wants to ring in the New Year with a great party.

Stuart: I look forward to seeing the Rat Pack define the Vegas of 1960, before the town and the franchise become more of a theme park attraction with the contemporary films.

Q: Arnie, did your recent trip to Las Vegas stir Ocean’s memories?

Arnie: I actually stayed at the Bellagio, and while I didn’t encounter Terry Benedict, I did get to watch the fountain show — with Ocean’s well on my mind. I was itching to re-watch the series after that trip.

Strangely the best Vegas connection I had wasn’t from the Ocean’s series, but from The Stand. The crucifixion scene was filmed on Fremont Street in Vegas and some of the signage was very familiar!

Read the full story here and check out the Ocean’s Eleven retrospective, starting Dec. 16 at

Press play


I’ve been playing Awesome Mix Vol. 1 all day after watching Guardians of the Galaxy last night.

The fact that this soundtrack has sold so well is a testament to the marketing of that movie — and the fact that the movie was fantastic. I figured most people would already have these songs in their music library.

Anyway, this will be a short post because I’ve got work to do, but here’s the link to get the soundtrack free for today only. It’s on Google Play.




Snip20141116_85It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

The Now Playing Podcast schedule was updated this morning to give listeners a look at which series’ will be covered through the end of the year, and instead of the traditional “Horror for the Holidays” theme, we’re going to Vegas!

The famous "Ocean's Eleven" photograph, circa 1960.

The famous “Ocean’s Eleven” photograph, circa 1960.

When Arnie first told me Ocean’s Eleven was on tap for December, I almost did one of those Rocky jumps with my fists in the air. The Ocean’s series is beloved in our household, for its coolness and its unique connection to Las Vegas.

I remember, when I moved to Vegas in 2001, my friends and I stumbled upon some of the Ocean’s Eleven filming at the Bellagio. My friend Warren took pictures of George Clooney, Scott Caan and Matt Damon playing cards while all these people stood around just watching them.

Our sad attempt, circa 2001.

Our sad attempt, circa 2001.

That year, when the film came out, I rallied my friends in Rochester to recreate the famous photo of Frank Sinatra and his Ocean’s crew standing around a pool table. I love that picture, even though I never fixed all the red eye.

I tried to rally my Las Vegas friends to do it again when Ocean’s Twelve came out in 2004, but only about six people showed up. So what we ended up with was a really nice shot of us standing at a pool table.

The Now Playing Podcast Ocean’s Eleven Retrospective Series starts December 16, and in the coming days I’ll be posting more details about the shows, along with some perspective from the hosts recording the reviews.

Happy Holidays!

The new news

A snapshot of the CBSN live feed

A snapshot of the CBSN live feed

Just weeks after announcing a subscription streaming app for local programming, CBS on Thursday launched an ad-supported streaming news feed that could lure viewers away from traditional cable news networks.

The service, called CBSN, is available online and via set-top devices like Roku and Amazon Fire TV. Viewers will see a live feed and have the ability to view to go back and view previously-streamed videos.

When I checked it out this morning, I saw a mix of live “new” news and some stories that I’d already read online yesterday, such as this CBS This Morning piece on Las Vegas targeting millennial customers. That just shows that programming content for a streaming channel is no more challenging than it is for broadcast and cable. The difference is you’re not bound by the same time restrictions when you’re dealing with online content, so you get to expand stories if you want to.

This is a smart move for CBS, it’s going where the viewers are and will be in the future. It’s major competitors have surely taken notice, and I think even the local affiliates should be having conversations right now about expanding their programming lineup via streaming channels.

Does that mean more streaming newscasts when they’re not on-the-air? CBSN offers 15 hours of live, anchored programming. What can local affiliates deliver?

Should it be more news, or another type of programming? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.

A new look

Snip20141104_43It’s been several months in the making, and today the new Now Playing Podcast website went live with a redesigned look and new features that will greatly improve the user experience.

For starters, the archive system has been revamped, and the new dropdown menu will make it much easier to search through the list of films and retrospective series’ that have been covered in the show’s history — closing in on 8 years now.

One of my favorite new features is the addition of news articles on the home page and the “articles” tab. This will give the user access to content from the Venganza Media Gazette — including all those Children of the Corn-related pieces I wrote over the summer.

Another great feature is the show calendar, something host Arnie Carvalho has called “the single most-requested feature from listeners.” Instead of having to look for information about upcoming shows in the old forums, it’s now right on the home page.

“Now everyone can plan their Netflix queues accordingly!” Arnie wrote in an email this week. He’s right. It’s a better listening experience when a person has seen a film being reviewed on NPP, and that calendar will give them the chance to plan ahead.

Here’s a copy of the press release I drafted to mark the launch of the new site.


Snip20141101_21That’s the first word that came to mind after seeing the Furious 7 trailer this afternoon.

The event, streamed online and presented by E!, featured the first footage from the film and capped a weeklong promotional event Universal dubbed, “The Road to Furious 7.”

As I did with the Super Bowl release of the first Fast and Furious 6 trailer, here some quick thoughts — seven of them:

1) Paul Walker will be front-and-center in the sequelSnip20141101_20

It doesn’t appear the actor’s role will be reduced following his death last year. Walker is featured heavily in the trailer, especially in the first stunt…

2) The franchise will continue to defy the laws of physicsSnip20141101_19

And I will love it. To think that at one time it bothered me to see Walker jump his car over a competitor as they raced across a rising bridge.

The Fast franchise has gotten more ridiculous with each sequel, and the Furious 7 trailer starts with cars parachuting out of a plane, segueing into the image above; Walker racing  to jump from a bus falling off a cliff.

3) Let’s hope there’s better dialogue than thisSnip20141101_21

“It’s like the sins of London have followed us home,” Diesel says during the trailer.

Come on. This isn’t 2 Fast 2 Furious anymore. I know the franchise isn’t going to win any Best Screenplay awards — and that’s not why I’m a fan — but that one was a real groaner.

4) I’m loving that the franchise continues to think globalSnip20141101_22

This series is going Mission Impossible in terms of its foreign locales. The first trailer gives a glimpse of the glamorous Abu Dhabi scenes, with Diesel trading in his sleeveless shirts for a tux. Very James Bond-ian.

5) The Rock is backSnip20141101_23

Not only does he get to wield a minigun like Jesse Ventura in Predator, but we see a wounded Hobbs break himself free of a seriously huge cast in order to get back in the action.

6) Welcome Kurt RussellSnip20141101_24

We knew he had a role in the film, we still don’t know what it is. But it’s an awesome treat to have Snake Plissken and “Stuntman” Mike McKay on board.

 7) Did I mention the leaping?Snip20141101_25

Diesel and villain Jason Statham are presented here — in what I presume is their final fight — in mid-leap. There’s going to be a lot in this movie that’s not possible without special effects. I’m going with it.

That’s a wrap

Snip20141031_10Now Playing Podcast wrapped its Leprechaun donation series on Friday with the WWE-produced Leprechaun: Origins, this year’s reboot of the horror-comedy franchise.

Last month, I posted our interview with Origins director Zach Lipovsky online, in which he  talked about restarting Leprechaun as a straight-horror series with more gore and fewer limericks.

I have seen the picture and won’t spoil the plot. The only thing I’ll say is that Lipovsky succeeded in making a humorless film. But Now Playing listeners will enjoy plenty of laughs as the hosts dissect this turkey, err, leprechaun.

This fall’s Now Playing Podcast pledge drive for the first time featured multiple donation tiers for listeners, giving them the option to hear not only the Leprechaun films, but also the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings/Hobbit series’ and the animated Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Reviews of the Hobbit films will be released in December, and listeners can still donate to get the Leprechaun series through the end of the year. Details are on the Now Playing Podcast website.