News Home RSS Feed

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

In Memoriam: Casey Kasem

Written by Jon Williams

The legendary disc jockey passed away over the weekend at the age of 82. Most remember him as the longtime host of the American Top 40 radio program that counted down the most popular pop and rock radio hits each week. Kasem co-created the show in 1970 and hosted it through 1988, then returned in 1998 and remained as host until passing those duties on to Ryan Seacrest, who continues in that role today. In addition to the best and most popular songs, the show became known for music trivia and stories behind the songs, and, perhaps most of all, the “Long-Distance Dedication” that allowed listeners to request and dedicate a song to a far-away loved one.

However, it’s not just die-hard music fans that are familiar with Kasem’s golden voice. Cartoon watchers, primarily of the 1970s and ‘80s but spanning clear into the 2000s, have no doubt heard it as well. His most well-known role, of course, was as the title canine’s beloved sidekick Shaggy on the various incarnations of Scooby-Doo throughout the years. He first voiced the role in 1969 and held onto it for 40 years, finally retiring in 2009 after Scooby-Doo and the Samurai Sword. Over the years, he voiced a number of other characters in many popular animated shows. He provided the voice of Robin, the Boy Wonder, first in The Batman/Superman Hour, and later on the Super Friends series. He also played the Autobot Cliffjumper and provided a number of other voices in the original Transformers animated series. And these are just the shows in which he had recurring roles—there were plenty of cameos and one-offs as well.

You can SmartBrowse Casey Kasem on our website for plenty more, including a number of compilation CDs curated by this musical icon. In the meantime, his signature sign-off seems particularly appropriate: “Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.”

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Perrotta’s Leftovers Coming to HBO

Written by Jon Williams

HBO recently announced that its hit series Game of Thrones has surpassed The Sopranos to rank as the most popular show in their history. At its peak, The Sopranos averaged 18.2 million viewers per episode; Game of Thrones is now averaging 18.4 million. This number comes on the heels of Season 4’s eighth episode, “The Mountain and the Viper,” which affirmed the show’s reputation for compelling, shocking twists. The season finale, which airs this Sunday, could push those already stellar numbers to even greater heights.

Those searching for something to fill the void in their Sunday night TV schedule caused by the absence of Thrones won’t have far to look. Its timeslot will be filled the following week, June 22, with the return of another very popular HBO series. The vampires, werewolves, witches, fairies, and humans of Bon Temps will begin to wrap up their story with the premiere of True Blood’s seventh and final season. The week after that, on June 29, True Blood will be followed by the premiere of a brand new series called The Leftovers.

The Leftovers is based on a 2011 novel of the same name by Tom Perrotta. Co-created by Damon Lindelof, known for his work on Lost, the series centers on a mysterious event that sees 2% of the world’s population simply vanish. Three years down the line, The Leftovers explores how those who remain have moved on with their lives—and how they haven’t. It will feature such stars as Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston, and Liv Tyler; the pilot episode is directed by Peter Berg.

This isn’t Perrotta’s first go-round with having his work adapted. His 1998 novel Election was turned into the big-screen comedy starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick, and Little Children became an acclaimed drama that was nominated for three Academy Awards and three Golden Globes in 2007. Perrotta’s most recent book, last year’s Nine Inches, is a collection of short stories sure to satisfy fans of his longer work. Judging from the popularity of those books, The Leftovers seems poised to be HBO’s next breakout hit.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

More Star Wars News

Written by Jon Williams

We’re now a month removed from Star Wars Day on May 4, and there has been no shortage of news on the highly anticipated upcoming films. Since patrons will be excited to check out work from these individuals taking their first steps into a larger world, here’s the latest.

First, two actresses have joined the cast for Episode VII and, presumably, the entire sequel trilogy. One is simply confirming a rumour that was going around even as the first round of announcements were made, and that is Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o. Her Oscar came for her work in 12 Years a Slave, but she can also be seen in the Liam Neeson action thriller Non-Stop. The second newcomer will be a familiar face to some sci-fi/fantasy fans. Gwendoline Christie is currently starring in HBO’s massive hit series Game of Thrones as the formidable warrior Brienne of Tarth. She will also be in the upcoming third and fourth installments of the Hunger Games series. It isn’t known yet what roles these ladies will play (nor is it for any of the new cast members).

So that’s the news for the sequel trilogy, which will consist of three films released in alternating years beginning in 2015. In between those films, a number of standalone films are planned to fill the void. The specific content of these films has not yet been disclosed, but they are expected to explore the origin stories of familiar characters. While major details regarding these films are still forthcoming, a few tidbits have come out. One, presumably the first, is to be directed by Gareth Edwards based on a script written by Gary Whitta. Edwards is best known for the new Godzilla movie that’s in theatres now, and he also directed the 2010 alien-invasion film Monsters. Whitta wrote the screenplay for 2010’s The Book of Eli, as well as 2013’s After Earth.

Just today, it was announced that another standalone Star Wars film (presumably the second) would be directed by Josh Trank. Trank directed the 2012 sci-fi film Chronicle, and is helming the 2015 reboot of the Fantastic Four franchise. No writer was announced for this film, so it seems likely that the script will be handled by writers previously announced to be attached to new Star Wars films, Lawrence Kasdan (who wrote original trilogy films The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, along with many other films) and Simon Kinberg (Sherlock Holmes).

So be sure to have these films on your shelves so patrons can satisfy their Star Wars appetites in anticipation for the new films, and don’t forget about the original films, the Clone Wars animated series, music from the movies, and story-expanding audiobooks.