Robert Chew, beloved bad guy on The Wire, has died

Actor Robert Chew, who infused complicated humanity into the character Prop(osition) Joe on The Wire, has died.

Chew had strong ties to Baltimore, where he was born. His first love was music, which he studied at his hometown university, Morgan State.

HIs love for Baltimore translated into three high-profile roles that defined his career. In addition to Prop Joe, the verbally gassy, somewhat sympathetic drug dealer on The Wire, Chew also played Wilkie Collins, a drug supplier in the sixth season (1997-1998) of Homicide: Life on the Streets in a three-part episode, Blood Ties. He also brought to life a shoe salesman in the the TV mini-drama The Corner, based on the book, The corner : A year in the life of an inner-city neighborhood by David Simon and Ed Burns, writers and producers for both The Corner and The Wire.

Chew (52), who suffered from cardiovascular disease, died from a heart attack at his home in Baltimore.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #375

If the name Dick Wolf sounds familiar, it is likely you are a Law & Order fan and have seen the credits at the end of each episode for the show's Creator/Executive Producer. The Intercept * just released, is his debut novel, and the first in a projected series.

When 5 passengers and a flight attendant of a commercial jetliner thwarted a hijacking attempt over the Atlantic Ocean, New York Intelligence Division Police detective Jeremy Fisk (a rule-breaker with a sharp mind and flawless instincts) suspects that this might only be a diversion; that another potentially more devastating terrorist attack is imminent, and soon.

Krina Gersten, a 4th-generation NYPD and tough-as-nails has been assigned as Fisk's partner. Together they match wits with opponents who are smarter and more agile than any they have ever faced.

"Wolf's espionage and police-procedural hybrid combines the brainy suspense and unfiltered social commentary found in the best Law & Order episodes with perfectly calibrated action".

"A pulsating plotline. Clever characters. Dramatic dialog. Surprising twists. All make for an edge-of-your-seat read that will have thriller fans eagerly awaiting the next series installment", a good thing if you are an adrenaline-junkie.

For fans for Nelson DeMille, Vince Flynn, and Christopher Reich.

* = starred review

Holiday Films For The Little Ones

This time of year the hold lists grow for certain movies and TV show episodes that many wish to view. The good news is that there are plenty of cheery holiday DVDs on the shelves sure to please the kiddies. Here’s a list of some currently available DVDs, including A Flintstones' Christmas carol, Madeline's Christmas & other wintery tales, Frosty's winter wonderland, Curious George: A very monkey Christmas, Thomas & friends. Merry Christmas Thomas, and Strawberry Shortcake: Berry, merry Christmas. For more titles, here's a larger list of youth and adult holiday DVDs that AADL owns.

Parks and Recreation

Parks and Recreation has been one of the funniest shows on television the past few years. Currently in its fifth season, it’s a show well suited to its time slot on Thursday nights along side (the now dwindling) The Office and 30 Rock. It’s also a show that seems to fall under the radar with some crowds. Once you get used to it, this show is a serious laugh-out-louder, where every other sentence seems like comedic gold.

The show stars former SNL funny girl Amy Poehler as the positive, high-energy, do-gooder Leslie Knope, who works at the Parks and Recreation department in fictional Pawnnee, Illinois. Filmed mockumentary style, the show focuses on Knope and her colleagues as they work daily on a variety of city government issues. The cast is full of quirky and oddly matched personalities, played by the likes of Aziz Ansari, Rob Lowe, Rashida Jones, and Adam Scott, which make an amazing comedy team. To be honest, Ron Swanson is one of the best characters ever written for television. If you haven’t already done so, give it a whirl!

New TV Show DVD Arrivals

The AADL has a large collection of TV shows, and we’re always getting new shows added to the collection, as well as new seasons of shows already in our catalog. New to AADL is Rizzoli and Isles. The show features a medical examiner and a police officer who investigate crime on the streets of Boston. The show is based on novels by Tess Gerritsen.

As for new seasons of shows you already love and get from AADL, we’ve got new DVDs of Dynasty, MI-5, Parenthood, Dexter, NCIS, Upstairs, Downstairs, Mad Men, and Coupling, to name a few. If you’ve been waiting for the new seasons on DVD, get your name on the list for them!

Happy Birthday Penny!

Actress, producer, and director Penny Marshall turns 69 today! Marshall is probably best known for her acting role as Laverne DeFazio in the hit sitcom Laverne and Shirley, which followed a stint of acting in many other TV shows, some created by brother Garry Marshall. She went on to direct feature films such as Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Big, Awakenings, and A League of Their Own. Big was the first film directed by a woman to gross over $100 million.

My Mother Was Nuts is a new memoir written by Marshall, and it’s a hoot! The book chronicles her childhood, her life in the Bronx with her family, getting started in show business, motherhood, her acting days on Laverne and Shirley, the crazy 80s, her directing days, and her bout with multiple cancers. Marshall had help writing the book, but if you are familiar with her demeanor, it reads like Marshall speaks. It’s not the most in depth book, and it lacks the emotion you’d find in most memoirs. She name drops her celebrity friends like crazy, and after a while the voice of the book reads monotone, and you’re begging for more emotion and detail. But it’s Penny Marshall! So I had to keep reading, and I’m glad I did. This woman makes me laugh, and I enjoyed hearing stories about her “crazy” mother, her dancing days, and particularly the details in directing some of her films. Happy birthday!

Gary Collins, actor and host of the Miss America Pageant, has died

Gary Collins, TV and movie actor and longtime host of the Miss America Pageant, died October 13th in Biloxi, MS.

While serving in the Army, Collins was hit with the acting bug with performances on the Armed Forces Network.

During his long acting career, he had roles in such popular TV shows as The Virginian, Charlie's Angels, Perry Mason, The Love Boat and JAG. He a role in the nail-biting plane disaster movie, Airport (1970), starring Burt Lancaster and Jean Seberg.

From 1982 to 1990, Collins hosted the Miss America Pageant.

Mr. Collins, who is survived by his wife of 45 years, actress Mary Ann Mobley, was 74 years old.

Alex Karras, former Detroit Lions defensive tackle, and Hollywood actor, has died

Alex Karras, a Detroit Lion for twelve seasons and an actor for many years, died today in Los Angeles.

In 1958, Karras was a first round draft pick for the Lions. He was a member of the Lions' Fearsome Foursome (a term used in pro football to describe the frontline defense. The other Lions players were Roger Brown, Darris McCord, and Sam Williams. Karras was suspended in 1963 for one year when he was caught placing bets on NFL teams. He returned to the team in 1964 and played for seven more years.

In the mid-1970s, he called the plays, with Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell, on ABC's Monday Night Football.

His most memorable Hollywood role was in the the 1974 hit western satire, Blazing Saddles in which he played the Mondo.

He and his real-life wife, Susan Clark, who survives, starred in the TV sitcom, Webster (1983-1987) (the first season is on order), along with Emmanuel Lewis. Karras and Clark played the adoptive parents of the orphaned son of a pro football player.

Karras, who was 77, died from complications due to cancer and dementia.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

In my attempt to find a sitcom that appeals to me and to my 7 year old daughter I revisited The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Remember that show? Mary was the woman who could turn the world on with her smile, she could take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile, as her theme show song so whimsically tells us. The Mary Tyler Moore Show premiered on CBS in September 1970, and during its seven-year run became one of the most acclaimed television programs ever produced. In the 1970s it stepped away from how woman were traditionally portrayed on television. Mary was a woman who was striking it on her own after a failed two year relationship. In the first episode we find out that Mary is a 30 year old woman who has been living with her boyfriend while putting him through medical school. Shortly after her boyfriend completes medical school Mary leaves the relationship because he refuses to marry her. However, Mary Richards doesn't let this rain on her parade. She packs it up and moves to Minneapolis, Minnesota where she gets a job as an associate producer of a second-rate news show. In addition to touching on the subject of a single woman working for a living, it also touched on controversial subjects like homosexuality, marital problems, divorce and equal pay for women. This show is funny, touching and a whole lot of other things. I find myself laughing out loud with my daughter over some of the great material creators and writers James. L. Brooks and Allan Burns pumped out. I remember as a child looking up to Mary and being in awe of her fantastic hair, studio apartment and Evan-Picone wardrobe. I'm still in awe of Mary, and now some 30+ years later so is my daughter.

Hollywood shocked by actor Johnny Lewis's violent death

Johnny Lewis, best known for his role as Kip "Half-Sack" Epps in the first two seasons of Sons of Anarchy, the FX Network motorcycle series that premiered in 2008, died last night at the scene of a shocking crime in Los Feliz, CA.

A spokesman for the LAPD said it appears that Lewis murdered his landlady, Katherine Davis, 81, and her cat on Wednesday. Witnesses say he then attacked a couple of neighbors before heading back to the house and jumping or falling off the roof, landing in her driveway which killed him.

Those close to Lewis, who once dated Katy Perry, were not surprised by his violent end. He had been released from jail six days ago, after pleading no contest in August to burglary and assault with a deadly weapon.

The troubled actor, who also acted in several TV series, including Criminal Minds and The O.C., was 28.

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