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Friday, March 23, 2018

TV Revivals Are All the Rage

Written by Jon Williams

Next week, on Tuesday, March 27, Roseanne will return to television screens. The beloved sitcom originally ran for nine seasons from 1988 through 1997. Now it’s coming back with a nine-episode season that will feature the show’s original cast—which creates some interesting dilemmas, since two actresses played the character of Becky (the second, Sarah Chalke, will appear as a different character) and Dan, played by John Goodman, died in the original final season of the show (he’s back). Other familiar faces returning to the show include Laurie Metcalf, fresh off her Academy Award nomination for Lady Bird, Sandra Bernhard, Big Bang Theory star Johnny Galecki, and, of course, Roseanne Barr herself.

Television is widely considered to be in a new golden age, with an incredible amount of high-quality content being created. With the rise of streaming services producing shows of their own in addition to more traditional cable and broadcast channels, competition for viewers is at an all-time high, and the television industry is frequently looking to the past to fill its slate. Everything old is new again as reboots and revivals, like Roseanne, are popping up everywhere. Another popular sitcom that has returned is Will & Grace, which originally aired from 1998 through 2006. After a ten-minute one-off proved to be wildly popular in 2016, the show was brought back to series in the fall of 2017. The first revival season will come to a close next week, and the show has already been renewed for a second and third season. Likewise, Full House, which ran from 1987 through 1995, has been brought back as Fuller House, following the adult lives of the characters who were children in the original show. The new show is three seasons in and going strong.

The phenomenon isn’t limited to sitcoms. Earlier this week, the second revival season of The X-Files came to a close. Originally running from 1993 to 2002, the sci-fi series about a pair of FBI agents tracking down leads on alien visitation was brought back for a six-episode limited event series in 2016 before this year’s ten-episode set. With Gillian Anderson bowing out and David Duchovny open to returning, it’s unclear if the show will continue further. In the drama category, Twin Peaks was also revived for a limited event series in 2017 following two seasons in 1990-91 and the movie Fire Walk with Me in 1992. And the dramedy series Gilmore Girls was brought back for the four-episode miniseries A Year in the Life in 2016 following its original seven-season run from 2000 through 2007.

And there are more revivals in the works. It was recently announced that Murphy Brown will be back on television later this year, with Candice Bergen and the show’s original cast returning to explore the state of television journalism in the current climate. Although nothing has been finalized, Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt are in talks to team back up for new episodes of Mad About You, nineteen years after that show’s seeming end. And don’t forget about reboots, in which series concepts are reused in different, usually updated circumstances, starting with a new cast. Some of those we can look forward to include Cagney & Lacey, Magnum P.I., Charmed, The Greatest American Hero, and Lost in Space, not to mention recent rumours about Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

With all of these classic shows returning to small screens in one form or another, and more sure to follow, patrons will be looking for the original shows to catch up or just to relive old favourites. You can find them on our website, and count on us to bring you the revivals and reboots as they become available. Are there any other series no longer on the air that you’d like to see brought back? If so, keep the faith—it just might happen!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Joan Baez Takes a Bow

Written by Jon Williams

Iconic folk singer Joan Baez has had a long and illustrious career, commemorated with her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. Now she’s ready for her swan song. The legendary artist has a new album out today, Whistle Down the Wind, her first in ten years. To go along with it, she has embarked on an extensive world tour, starting today in Stockholm and running through November in California. Aptly named the Fare Thee Well tour, it will be her final time going out on the road.

Baez was interested in music from an early age, and was set on her path young when she attended a Pete Seeger concert in 1954. She gave her own first performance in 1958, and a pair of duets with Bob Gibson at the Newport Music Festival in 1959 led to a record deal. Her self-titled debut album was released the following year. She followed it up with Joan Baez, Vol. 2 in 1961. Those albums both attained gold status, as did her 1962 live album, Joan Baez in Concert. Other albums to reach this sales mark are Any Day Now (1968), Blessed Are… (1971), and Diamonds and Rust (1975).

Throughout her career, Baez was influenced by such artists as Pete Seeger and Odetta, and she passed that influence on to a number of other musicians. Her performances with and recording of songs by Bob Dylan were a major factor in his career taking off, and she has been cited as an influence by such artists as Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt, and Emmylou Harris. Although Baez is a songwriter, she is quite well known for songs written by others, including the Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and Phil Ochs’s “There but for Fortune.”

She experienced her peak popularity during the tumultuous 1960s, when her music was associated with the civil rights movement and protest of the Vietnam War. Although she slowed down some as the years went on, Baez has continued to record and perform in the intervening years, releasing a total of 25 studio albums, as well as a number of live albums, compilations, and soundtracks. Her previous most recent, Day After Tomorrow, came out in 2008. What has not slowed down is her involvement with a number of causes and issues, including LGBT rights, the environment, and opposition to the death penalty. In 2011, she was honoured by Amnesty International with the naming of the annual Joan Baez Award, recognizing artists in any media who “contribute to the advancement of human rights.”

With her work being so closely associated with protest, it is certainly fitting for her to be in the limelight one final time in our current environment. Make sure you have Whistle Down the Wind on your shelves for longtime Joan Baez fans to check out and enjoy, and shed light on her illustrious career with copies of her previous albums as well. SmartBrowse her name on our website to find more, and make sure your patrons know that her new album and her extensive discography are available 24/7 with no waiting on hoopla!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Black Panther Lives Up to the Hype

Written by Jon Williams

The superhero character Black Panther first appeared in Marvel comics in 1966, gracing the pages of a Fantastic Four adventure. He later appeared in comics featuring Captain America, the Avengers, and Daredevil, before finally scoring a comic of his own in 1973. Likewise, in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Panther first came to the screen as part of the massive ensemble in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. The electrifying performance by Chadwick Boseman made audiences very excited for the character’s first standalone adventure, which finally made its way into theatres last week—with a bang. Along with rave reviews from critics and fans, it owned the box office in its first weekend with over $200 million in North America, and it looks to stay on top in its second week.

That huge opening weekend put Black Panther in some heady company, as it became just the fifth film to crack the $200M mark. The first was another Marvel movie, The Avengers, in 2012. It was done twice in 2015, first in the summer by Jurassic World. Then, toward the end of the year, The Force Awakens brought the Star Wars saga back into theatres for the first time since 2005 to the tune of nearly $250 million, the biggest opening of all time to date. Then, just a couple of short months ago, that film’s follow-up, The Last Jedi, joined this blockbuster list as well. Black Panther is certain to dominate the box office again; the only question is whether it can become just the fourth film to follow a $200+M opening with a $100+M weekend (FWIW, our crystal ball says it will—easily).

So what’s behind the film’s runaway success? First off, you can’t overstate how the thrill of finally seeing a black superhero has resonated with fans, both longtime Black Panther fans and just moviegoers in general. And while that is a critical factor, it wouldn’t matter nearly as much if the movie weren’t outstanding in its own right. It begins with 31-year-old wunderkind director and co-writer Ryan Coogler. He has just two previous films to his name, but they’re good ones: the 2013 Sundance darling Fruitvale Station and the 2015 Rocky reboot Creed. Both of those films starred Michael B. Jordan, and he features in Black Panther as Killmonger, the primary foil to Boseman’s hero. Those two are part of an incredible cast that includes Academy Award winners Forest Whitaker and Lupita Nyong’o, as well as Angela Bassett, Daniel Kaluuya from Get Out, and Danai Gurira from The Walking Dead, to name just a few. Add in a killer soundtrack curated by hip-hop superstar Kendrick Lamar and you can see the primary elements that have come together to create the phenomenon this movie has become.

With Black Panther just going into its second week in theatres and expected to continue raking in the cash, it will be a while before it becomes available on DVD and Blu-ray. In the meantime, though, there’s plenty of material to satisfy those who just can’t get enough. In addition to everything listed above, you can SmartBrowse on our website to find all the Marvel movies and plenty of other superhero content. And if your library is signed up with hoopla, there are a number of Black Panther comics available for patrons to explore, all with no waiting!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Big Performances on Music’s Biggest Night

Written by Jon Williams

The Grammy Awards were handed out last weekend, in a ceremony held Sunday night at the famed Madison Square Garden in New York City. The 60th annual event honoured the best music of the past year (or, technically, from October of 2016 through September of 2017). Bruno Mars had an incredible night, winning all six categories in which he was nominated, including the coveted Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Album of the Year awards.

If you watched the ceremony, it may seem like the Grammys only recognize a handful of categories, but that’s not the case at all. In fact, the vast majority of awards were given out at a Premiere Ceremony held earlier in the day. Only nine categories were held over for the main ceremony so the evening’s primary focus could be on the performances—which we will do here, as well. However, if you missed any of the winners, check out our website for a complete collection of all the year’s honourees, incredible music your patrons will definitely want to hear.

The night started off with a bang with multiple nominee Kendrick Lamar (seven nominations, five wins) taking the stage to perform a raucous mashup of songs, joined by Bono and the Edge of U2, as well as comedian Dave Chappelle (winner for Best Comedy Album). That was immediately followed by an intimate performance by Lady Gaga (two nominations) of two songs from her Joanne album, accompanied on acoustic guitar by Mark Ronson.

The Grammy Awards ceremony is known for performances featuring interesting collaborations, and that was certainly in evidence this year. The first after Kendrick’s opener was Gary Clark Jr. teaming up with Jon Batiste for a rockin’ remembrance of music pioneers Fats Domino and Chuck Berry, who both passed away in 2017. Later in the show, a more somber tribute took place, with Maren Morris (one nomination) and Eric Church taking the stage alongside Brothers Osborne (one nomination) to play Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” for the victims of the Las Vegas shooting that happened in October. That was followed by one of the night’s most emotional moments, when Kesha (two nominations) came onstage for a powerhouse rendition of her song “Praying” backed by a chorus that included Cyndi Lauper, Andra Day (one nomination), Camila Cabello, Julia Michaels (two nominations), and Bebe Rexha. After Elton John sang “Tiny Dancer” with Miley Cyrus, the tribute to the late Tom Petty was handled by Chris Stapleton (three wins) and Emmylou Harris, who performed “Wildflowers.”

Even with all those team-ups, there was plenty of room for solo artists and regular bands and collaborations. The solo artists that performed included Sam Smith, Childish Gambino (five nominations, one win), Pink (one nomination), Ben Platt, Patti LuPone, and SZA (five nominations), while the bands were Little Big Town (two nominations, one win) and U2. As far as collaborations, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee performed their hit “Despacito,” which scored three nominations. The aforementioned Bruno Mars took the stage with Cardi B for “Finesse” off his 24K Magic album, calling to mind old-school R&B from the 1990s. Sting and Shaggy performed their new song “Don’t Make Me Wait” in advance of their forthcoming joint album, and then Rihanna and Bryson Tiller joined DJ Khaled for their song “Wild Thoughts.” Finally, the last performance of the night featured Logic (two nominations), Alessia Cara (Best New Artist), and Khalid (five nominations) on “1-800-273-8255,” promoting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

These incredible musicians put on a memorable show that was truly worthy of the Grammy Awards. Which performance was your favourite? As you consider, use the links above or visit our website to put together a wide selection of music from these iconic and up-and-coming artists for your music-loving patrons to discover and enjoy.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Oscars to Finish Off Awards Season

Written by Jon Williams

This time of year is traditionally awards season in Hollywood, when the best films of the past year are recognized. The season culminates with the most coveted awards, the Academy Awards, which will be handed out this year at the 90th annual ceremony, to be held March 4 in Hollywood. The nominees were named earlier this week, with the prestigious Best Picture category being populated by nine outstanding films.

The movie with the most nominations is The Shape of Water with a whopping thirteen, including Best Actress (Sally Hawkins), Best Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer), and Best Supporting Actor (Richard Jenkins). Guillermo del Toro is up for Best Director, an award he won at this year’s Golden Globes, as well as Best Original Screenplay along with co-writer Vanessa Taylor. Behind The Shape of Water is Dunkirk with eight nominations. Most of them are in the so-called “technical” categories, although Christopher Nolan did score a Best Director nominations.

One of the most decorated films of awards season so far is Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It will play a major part on Oscar night as it has seven nominations, including Best Actress (Frances McDormand) and two Best Supporting Actors (Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell). Three Billboards was already named Best Picture (Drama) at the Golden Globes, where McDormand and Rockwell also took home their awards. With a SAG Award for Best Performance by a Cast under its belt as well, Three Billboards may have a big showing at the Academy Awards.

Following Three Billboards are two films with six nominations each. Gary Oldman has earned much acclaim for his portrayal of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, winning Best Actor at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards. Incredibly, if he won, it would be his first Academy Award; however, he faces stiff competition. Daniel Day-Lewis has won Best Actor three previous times, and is up for it again this year for his performance (in what he says is his last role) in Phantom Thread. Among that film’s six nominations are nods for Best Director (Paul Thomas Anderson) and Best Supporting Actress (Lesley Manville).

Another film with a number of awards already this season is Lady Bird, which has five Oscar nominations. It won the Golden Globe for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy), and Saoirse Ronan won that same night for Best Actress, which she is up for at the Academy Awards as well. Among its other nominations are Best Director for Greta Gerwig—after many felt she was unjustly ignored for a Golden Globe nomination—and Best Supporting Actress for Laurie Metcalf.

Get Out is something of a surprise with its four nominations, if only because it at least nominally belongs to the horror genre, which rarely sees any awards season recognition. But the performance by breakout star Daniel Kaluuya demanded attention, which his Best Actor nomination delivers. The movie was also nominated for Best Director (in his directorial debut) and Best Original Screenplay for Jordan Peele, who is primarily known for his comedy work in television.

Call Me by Your Name also scored four nominations, including Best Actor for Timothée Chalamet. It is also the only Best Picture nominee to also be nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, as it was based on the novel of the same name by André Aciman. And rounding out the nominees is the historical journalism film The Post, which, in addition to its Best Picture nod, also garnered a record 21st acting nomination for Meryl Streep.

That does it for this year’s Best Picture nominees, but there are plenty of other movies that have the potential to make some waves at the upcoming Oscar ceremony. Among them are Roman J. Israel, Esq. (Best Actor nominee Denzel Washington), I, Tonya (Best Actress nominee Margot Robbie and Best Supporting Actress nominee Allison Janney), The Big Sick (Best Original Screenplay), and the nominees for Best Animated Film (The Boss Baby, The Breadwinner, Coco, Ferdinand, and Loving Vincent). And for the film music buffs, don’t forget the nominees for Best Score (Dunkirk, Phantom Thread, The Shape of Water, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) and Best Song (Mudbound, Call Me by Your Name, Coco, Marshall, and The Greatest Showman).

So that’s a quick look at the upcoming Academy Awards. The ceremony is sure to drive a great deal of patron interest in the winners and nominees, so use the links above or SmartBrowse on our website to find these movies and others by these incredible performers and directors. In the meantime, let us know your picks for the night’s big winners!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Classic Novels Come to the Screen

Written by Jon Williams

Recently it was announced that the streaming service Hulu had picked up rights to a new six-episode adaptation of Joseph Heller’s classic Catch-22, starring and directed by George Clooney. First published in 1961, the novel is considered one of the most significant and influential literary works of the 20th century. About a group of United States airmen during World War II and their darkly humorous attempts to maintain their sanity (or prove their insanity), the novel was previously adapted into a 1970 feature film starring Alan Arkin as the main character, Yossarian, along with other such notable names as Art Garfunkel, Martin Sheen, Bob Newhart, Jon Voight, and Orson Welles.

Hulu, of course, has gained much acclaim lately for another series adaptation of a classic novel. Earlier this month, The Handmaid’s Tale won a Golden Globe for Best Drama Series, and Elisabeth Moss took home the award for Best Actress in a Drama Series, and it fared even better at last fall’s Emmy Awards, where it won those same two awards and six more. The show is based on Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s dystopian 1985 novel about a near-future society where declining birth rates have led to fertile women being indentured to powerful men as “handmaids” for procreation. Like Catch-22, The Handmaid’s Tale was previously adapted into a movie, released in 1990 and starring Natasha Richardson, Robert Duvall, and Faye Dunaway. The show’s second season will debut in April.

HBO has a knack for bringing books to life—their Big Little Lies series, based on the novel by Liane Moriarty was a big winner in the miniseries category at this year’s Golden Globes, not to mention the runaway success of Game of Thrones, based on George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, among other examples. Their latest attempt will come this spring, with Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Referring to the temperature at which paper burns, the story deals with “firemen” who are tasked with burning any books they find, and one who goes rogue in hopes of reviving the wisdom of the past. A 1966 adaptation was directed by the legendary Francois Truffaut.

Since its initial publication in the late 1860s, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women has always been a popular target for adaptation, with several movies and TV miniseries to its name already. This year, those totals will both go up by one, as the March sisters are coming to both the big and small screens. The film version, starring Lea Thompson as Marmee, the girls’ mother, does not have a firm release date yet. The three-part miniseries, on the other hand, is expected to air on PBS and the BBC during the Christmas season. Starring Emily Watson and Angela Lansbury, it will follow in a tradition of PBS/BBC period dramas, and as such, is highly anticipated.

Last year, Moonlight won Academy Awards for Best Motion Picture and Best Screenplay. This year, the writer and director of that film, Barry Jenkins, is bringing to the screen James Baldwin’s 1974 novel If Beale Street Could Talk. It’s the gripping story of a man unjustly accused of a horrific crime just after he and his fiancée learn she is pregnant, and their fight to prove his innocence. Despite being more than forty years old, it’s a tale with a great deal of resonance today. Another recent film based on a work by Baldwin, the 2016 documentary I Am Not Your Negro, has garnered much acclaim.

Of course, all of these adaptations are still a ways off. Much closer on the horizon is Disney’s movie version of A Wrinkle in Time, directed by Ava DuVernay. Author Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 novel won the prestigious Newbery Medal for children’s literature, among other awards, and has been a beloved classic ever since. It follows the young Meg Murry as she searches for her father, a brilliant scientist who has discovered a method of traveling through both space and time. The movie, which hits theatres on March 9, is sure to reignite interest in L’Engle’s book, as well as further titles in the series, such as A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet.

Be sure you have these classic novels on your shelves for patrons as their adaptations come out, as they will surely be in demand even more than usual. Use the links above, or SmartBrowse on our website for other adaptations, more works by the authors, and plenty of other related materials.

Also, the OLA Super Conference is coming up very soon. If you’ll be at this year’s event, please come see us! We’ll be at Booth #413/415 on February 1-2. We look forward to seeing you there!

Friday, January 12, 2018

2018 Preview: Audiobooks and Music

Written by Jon Williams

Last week we looked at some of the great moving coming out way in 2018, but that’s not all there is to look forward to. Here are some other great media titles the coming year has in store for us.

In publishing, the big question to start the year is the same as it has been for the past several years: will we finally see The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series? There’s no definitive word on that as of now (and we already know the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones isn’t coming until 2019), so all we can do is keep our fingers crossed. We do know, though, that Stephen King will follow up his packed 2017 with a new novel, The Outsider, coming in May. Other fiction titles for the year include Force of Nature by Jane Harper and Sunburn by Laura Lippman in February, Meg Wolitzer’s The Female Persuasion in April, and Lauren Groff’s Florida in June. Also, the Hogarth Shakespeare series, which sees popular contemporary authors update classic Bard tales, will have a new addition with Jo Nesbo’s Macbeth in April.

While her next novel isn’t coming until next year, a book of essays (including one on our collective love for public libraries) entitled Feel Free from Zadie Smith is part of a monumental year in non-fiction. A couple of social movements that gained steam as 2017 progressed will continue to demand attention and consideration. One is #MeToo and Time’s Up, highlighted at the recent Golden Globes ceremony. Rose McGowan’s Brave details her experience as an actress in Hollywood, while acclaimed author Roxane Gay compiles a series of essays by a number of women in Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture. A co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, brings her struggle to light next week in When They Call You a Terrorist. In a related vein, a previously unpublished work from the late Zora Neale Hurston, Barracoon, looks at slavery’s effect on one man and the enduring legacy of the institution. But there are some books on less weighty topics as well, such as See What Can Be Done, a collection of cultural and media criticism from Lorrie Moore, and Creative Quest, a guide to creativity and inspiration from Questlove.

The world of music is already abuzz with the recent announcement of a new album forthcoming from Justin Timberlake. Man of the Woods comes out February 2, just two days before his performance at halftime of the Super Bowl. There’s plenty of other good music on tap, including a new album from platinum rockers Fall Out Boy, M A N I A, out a week from today. The anticipated Marvel movie Black Panther has an equally anticipated soundtrack that was curated and produced by Kendrick Lamar, who also performs on it, available February 9, a week before the movie debuts in theatres. An album featuring unheard recordings from the late Jimi Hendrix, Both Sides of the Sky, comes out March 9. Because of the nature of the music industry, nailing down future releases can be an inexact science, to say the least, but there’s a good chance of new album releases this year from such names as Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Tool, Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, and Migos.

As we said on last week’s movie preview, this is just scratching the surface of all the great content we can expect to see in 2018. Is there anything in particular you and your patrons are looking forward to? Let us know, and stay tuned to CVS Midwest Tape here on our blog as well as our Facebook and Twitter feeds for more information on exciting new releases as they become available.
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