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The Barbra Streisand TV Specials



Barbra Streisand’s Five Classic Early Tv Specials Presented In Warner Strategic Markting’s Box-Set.

The five Barbra Streisand early career TV specials, which confirmed for critics and public alike that she would be the music world’s most legendary female entertainer for many decades, have been gathered into an historic DVD box-set by Warner Strategic Marketing. For over forty years Streisand’s accomplishments in the recording field, in film and television and on stage have set virtually unbreakable records, and it was these early television specials that previewed for national audiences the unparalleled range of talent and originality that would distinguish her as both a legend and a trailblazer.

On display in the award-winning specials are not only the multi-Grammy-winning Voice of the Century, the unique comic and dramatic acting flair that earned her both Oscar and Tony, but also the exquisite taste, showmanship and visual inspiration that would make her a leading film director and producer and would establish records in the world of concert performance. Those first five specials, for which the young star, barely into her twenties, was so wisely given full creative control, were and remain a thrilling introduction to all of her varied talents.

Disc One: MY NAME IS BARBRA (1965)
Filmed in glorious black-and-white, Barbra’s first television special in 1965 is a classic in every sense of the word. Reviewers waxed ecstatic with praise. United Press International proclaimed, “ . . . a pinnacle moment of American show business, in any form, in any period. She is so great, it is shocking . . . she may well be the most supremely talented and complete popular entertainer this country has ever produced.” My Name is Barbra won five Emmy Awards and the prestigious Peabody Award for Distinguished Achievement in Television.

Disc Two: COLOR ME BARBRA (1966)
Fresh from the overwhelming triumph MY NAME IS BARBRA, CBS network executives requested a follow-up special. It is a show business axiom that sequels generally fail to live up to the original, but in the case of COLOR ME BARBRA, the odds were most assuredly beaten by a wide margin. Filmed in spectacular color, this companion piece to her first special is one for the ages. The vibrant colors become a metaphor for imagination, inventiveness, fantasy, and sheer brilliance. Considered by many to be a “bookend” to MY NAME IS BARBRA – COLOR ME BARBRA is in every way the equal of its predecessor.

Disc Three: THE BELLE OF 14TH STREET (1967)
Barbra is the “top-billed act” in this affectionate tribute to turn of the century vaudeville. No detail was too small for this lovingly re-created world of a bygone era. Her first television special to feature guest-stars, THE BELLE OF 14TH STREET celebrates, in ways both comedic and heartfelt, “The Golden Age Of Song.” A marvelous showcase for such evergreens as Sophie Tucker’s “Some Of These Days,” “How About Me?” (written by “a new young talent” Irving Berlin ), the poignant “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,” and the sublime “My Buddy”-all classics of the vaudeville era, reinvented by “the greatest star” of our time.

On the evening of June 17, 1967 , Barbra Streisand and 150,000 of the “luckiest people in the world” gathered together in Central Park ’s massive Sheep’s Meadow for a once-in-a-lifetime outdoor concert event. If New York were a kingdom, Barbra was its reigning queen. It was the most attended concert event of its time. Barbra turns the historic park into her own “backyard” as she performs signature hits like “He Touched Me,” “People,” “Second Hand Rose,” and “Happy Days Are Here Again.” An extraordinary evening with an audience . . . the star they came to see under an open sky in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable.

A multicultural musical potpourri, Barbra’s fifth television spectacular is her most adventurous. Performing a startling array of new songs and classic hits with genre-bending arrangements, BARBRA STREISAND . . . AND OTHER MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS is a feast for the eyes and ears. Starring the ultimate “musical instrument,” Barbra Streisand, together with over 150 musicians playing everything from the traditional violins, cellos, flutes, and oboes . . . to the more exotic kabuki woodblock, sitar, Chippewa tom-tom, sewing machine . . . saw . . . orange juice squeezer, and washing machine! Featuring the timeless duet of “Crying Time” with “Genius of Soul” Ray Charles.



Kick-Ass TV Heroines: Xena – Warrior Princess




Xena Warrior Princess

What was not to love about Xena? As Lucy Lawless says: “Xena is a bad-ass, kick-ass, pre-Mycenaean girl.” Evildoers, clearly, must stand down, but not only bad guys (and girls) have Xena-phobia. Even heroes quake when she swings her broadsword.

Originally created as a syndicated complement to Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena pretty much kicked Herc to the curb. It was like when the Bionic Woman made us lose interest in the Six Million Dollar Man–only more so.

Unlike Lindsay Wagner’s early half-woman, half-machine, Xena wasn’t prone to frailty. Nor did she need robot parts. In fact, the Warrior Princess never lost. If she’s down, it’s not for long.

Plus, she was in touch with the dark side: This big-boned bruiser had definite moments of blood lust, as well as lust of some other varieties. Garbed in a leather miniskirt and armed with her trademark razor-edged, boomerang-action chakram, we watched Xena single-leggedly kick down entire platoons of Roman soldiers.

Sure, there were murmurings about Xena and her softer female sidekick, Gabrielle (actress Renée O’Connor). So what if they liked to conserve bathwater by doubling up? And what’s wrong with close friends frenching once in a while?

Then again, maybe it was true–and there’s anything wrong with that.

Actress: Lucy Lawless
Show: Xena: Warrior Princess
Character: Xena

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Classic TV Revisited: McMillan And Wife




McMillan And Wife

Starring Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James, McMillan and Wife was a super cute crime-solving saga from the 1970s made for the NBC’s Mystery Movie series.

Who were they?
Hubby was the debonair San Francisco police commissioner Stewart McMillan.

And wifey?
Sally was a foxy, rather scatterbrained dame with a knack for finding corpses.

Worked down the morgue did she?
Hardly. Sally’s finds were usually in some glitzy mansion which the couple were frequenting for a weekend cocktail party. She also had a habit of getting her life threatened or being kidnapped.

Who was in it?
Tragic Hollywood star Rock Hudson no less. He took on Stewart McMillan in his first TV role, after years as a matinee idol with movies such as Giant.

Fans of the lantern-jawed star were dismayed when he went public about having Aids. He had long kept his homosexuality secret. He carried on working in ’80s glam drama Dynasty, but make-up could not disguise the deterioration of this once-statuesque man. He died in 1985, aged 59.

What about Sally?
That role fell to raven-locked Susan Saint James. The Ali MacGraw lookalike was previously in shows such as Alias Smith And Jones and The Name of the Game.

Other characters
A vital ingredient to McMillan And Wife was sharp-tongued housekeeper Mildred, played by Nancy Walker. Somebody needed to keep the place tidy while they gallivanted about solving crime.

Famous guest stars?
Kim Basinger

The couple’s conception?
Like Hart To Hart, the idea was borrowed from Dashiell Hammett’s Thin Man books of the ’30s.

Gritty crime drama?
Hardly. These were cosy whodunnit cases, where the brutality of murder was never portrayed. The show was more about the interplay between McMillan and Sally.

Had viewers arrested?
Certainly in the US. It was the fifth highest-rated show in 1972 and 1973.

Fate of the golden couple?
Susan Saint James quit in 1976 over a contractual dispute. Nancy Walker also packed away her duster as housekeeper Mildred.

The dame’s exit was a fatal blow?
Certainly for the character of Sally – she was killed off in a plane crash. But Rock soldiered on with new assistant Sgt Steve DiMaggio (Richard Gilliland). The show became McMillan.

A winner?
Audiences dwindled and the plug was pulled.

Distinguishing features?
Cosy pillow talk, cocktail parties, Rock Hudson, pyjamas and numerous corpses.

Do say
Let’s go to bed. Turn the light out, darling.

Don’t say
Must you eat toast in bed, darling. Apologies, but I’ve got terrible flatulence. Separate bedrooms.

Not to be confused with
My Wife Next Door, Harold Macmillan, The Merry Wives Of Windsor and Mr And Mrs.

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Classic TV Revisited: The Royal




The Royal

The Royal was an ITV drama commission and was inspired by its sister programme Heartbeat.

The lowdown: This nostalgic family drama is set in the swinging 1960s and centres on the staff of a cottage hospital in Yorkshire. Newly qualified doctor David Cheriton (Julian Ovenden) is determined to make a difference to the world and arrives at St Aidan’s Royal Free Hospital in Elinsby full of big ideas. But he clashes with the hospital’s secretary TJ Middleditch (Ian Carmichael) who is determined to run things his way. Then there is the Matron (Wendy Craig) who rules her nurses with a rod of iron and tries in vain to stop them being distracted by the handsome arrival.

Memorable moments: Watch out for former Heartbeat favourite Bill Maynard who crosses dramas and continents as Claude Jeremiah Greengrass. Greengrass has returned from a Caribbean holiday with a mystery illness but that doesn’t stop him trying to earn a fast buck. It doesn’t take long before Claude attracts Matron’s ire.

Trivia: The Royal is a family affair for real life husband and wife Robert Daws (Ormerod) and Amy Robbins (Weatherill). No fewer than seven members of their clan have appeared in the series including their daughters and stepson.

Michelle Hardwick, who played receptionist Lizzie, says her favourite moment in the whole series didn’t come on screen but in the actors’ green room. She says: “I was sitting in there with Wendy Craig and Honor Blackman and we were having a lovely conversation. I sat back and thought ‘Wow, this is great, I can’t wait to tell my gran’.”

A modern day set version called The Royal Today aired 7 January – 14 March 2008.

First broadcast: 2003

Starred: Wendy Craig, Ian Carmichael, Michael Starke, Robert Daws and Julian Ovenden

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