WHO DO YOU THINK YOU'RE FOOLING?
I'm calling bullshit.
You mean to tell me that the production will sign a celeb to do an episode with no idea whether there will be television worthy stories in their distant past? Or that they do a geneological search on the guests before they're signed to make that determination? Why bother when you could start backwards and tie anyone in history to a present day person.
Anyone who's played 6 Degrees of Separation knows you can tie almost anyone to any other person if you're willing to extrapolate, it's just a little bit harder when you're connecting blood relatives.
Based on a British series, Executive Producer Lisa Kudrow was the focus of one of the first episodes. I suspect she's on board to solidify network support and draw other spotlight needy stars out into the open for ancestrial autopsies.
I participated in a conference call with Lisa Kudrow and season two opening guest star Vanessa Williams this week and I asked the 'Friends' star why she decided to become a television producer: "Well, this show really motivated me to become a producer because I wanted to see if we could do it over here in the U.S." Hardly a burning desire, apparently. Then again, Executive Producers rarely do anything substantive anyway.
Former Miss America and recording artist Vanessa Williams goes under the digital knife February 4th. Because of the slavery / reconstruction / Jim Crow eras it becomes more problematic for African-Americans digging into past centuries. Then again, it makes it easier to draw lines to exceptional people - landbarons, educated men of letters, persons connected to historical events - individuals who were, in their times, far removed from the ordinary.
Sarah Jessica Parker is related to a witch, Tim McGraw to George Washington, Brooke Shields to King Louis XIV and a saint. Central casting couldn't have done a finer job.
And Vanessa Williams discovers her forebearers were, well, exceptional: "I'm proud of both the stories that were discovered in this episode. And before I went on the journey, I knew a bit about the name, David Carl, because he was buried in the same family plot cemetery that my father was. So I had seen the American flag next to his headstone and I assumed that that was part of a Civil War service, but I had really never delved into the actual story and history.
"And then the William Fields story was a complete surprise because we really had no information because my grandfather's mother had died so young he didn't even know her last name.
"Their children all went to Princeton. The men of the family went to Princeton. But one of - what we surmise is that the Fields or William A. Fields was probably part of a group of slaves that were educated and that was insistent upon by Mr. Fields who was the head of the - you know, of the family.
"And what we kind of could trace is that a lot of the Fields's descendants after the war did extremely well pretty quickly because they were all master carpenters and also well-educated and they were allowed to set up their own business and fared very well after they were freed and that was extraordinary too."
The payoff on this show involves the celebrity meeting with someone they are distantly related to. This can lead to some awkward moment because, really, who are these people?
It's kinda like that show 'Undercover Boss' where they just happen to pair a CEO with lowly overachievers with a tragic past - a dead child, a bout with homelessness, recently divorced. It makes for great TV but it's raw emotional manipulation.
No matter, this hour-long commercial for ancestry.com promises to dissect the pasts of Steve Buscemi, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rosie O'Donnell, Kim Cattrall, Lionel Richie, and Ashley Judd on future episodes.
'Who Do You Think You Are?' airs NBC Friday nights at 8:00pm ET.
Sunday, February 6, 2011 - 10:33am
THIS 'N' THAT
Pete Delaney has loaded some classic moments from the past on to You Tube for your nostalgic enjoyment. Oh boy! "Weissglass Speedway April 1967 is a very short Delaney 8mm home movie shot at New York City's only stock car racing track. The kid in the black coat in the first few seconds is 11 year old me with my mom and sister." There's also some more early Woody Allen clips to come.
From the press release: Tonight, February 2, at 8 PM/7 C, Me-TV Network invites you to ‘Chill with Me: A Night of Snowed in TV!’ We’ll showcase a flurry of snowy weather-themed episodes from classic comedies including ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show,’ ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show,’ ‘Cheers,’ ‘M*A*S*H,’ ‘The Bob Newhart Show’ and ‘The Honeymooners.’
Wednesday, February 2, 2011 - 11:13am
I recently spoke with lovely and talented Vanessa Williams and asked her what TV shows she enjoyed growing up. Here's what she said: "Pretty much all the half hours when I was young between the Brady Bunch and I Dream of Jeanie and Bewitched and, you know, My Three Sons and I Love Lucy -- all that great stuff, variety shows. I love watching old Technicolor movies, in particular musical movies -- you know, Kiss Me Kate and My Fair Lady -- all those wonderful things that we got a chance to see on television, so. And then, you know, I'm a big TV fan, so I'm so happy that I can actually be passionate and love what I'm working on." Vanessa will be the guest this week on NBC's Who Do You Think You Are.
Monday, January 31, 2011 - 11:13am
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