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Top 5 movie-based theme park attractions besides 'Fast & Furious’

Attendance exploded at Universal after The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened, letting muggles pretend for a little while they are in the world of the boy wizard.

Universal Orlando Resort

Attendance exploded at Universal after The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened, letting muggles pretend for a little while they are in the world of the boy wizard.

With the news that the Fast & Furious franchise is getting its own theme park treatment as a ride at Universal Studios, let's take a look at the rest of the theme park attractions that we have thanks to Hollywood.  Film critic Matt Singer of ScreenCrush once smartly observed that theme park attractions are "a perfect microcosm of modern Hollywood, where family-friendly 3-D escapism and the potential for merchandise sales are the only things that matter."

Cynicism aside, here are my top five theme park attractions that got their start in the movies, and feel free to tell me I'm wrong or point out what I overlooked in the comments section:

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: The game changer in the theme park scene is not just a ride that makes you feel like you are flying around Hogwarts, it's two whole sections of two Universal Orlando theme parks that are an immersion into J.K. Rowling's imagination. From cold draughts of Butterbeer to a ride on the Hogwarts Express between to the two theme parks, muggles can pretend for a little while that they are part her world. …

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Tonight's 'Mr. Robot' finale postponed due to similarity to Virginia on-air killings

USA Network

USA Network has postponed tonight's season finale of Mr. Robot for one week because the episode includes a scene that shares similarities with the tragic on-air killings that occurred Wednesday morning in Roanoke, Va.

“Out of respect to the victims, their families and colleagues, and our viewers, we are postponing tonight’s episode," USA told Variety in a statement. "Our thoughts go out to all those affected during this difficult time."

The final episode of the hacker-centric thriller's debut season is now scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 2, at its regular time of 10 p.m. USA will air last week's episode to fill tonight's slot.

Early this morning, a reporter and cameraman for WDJB-TV were shot and killed by a former co-worker during a live broadcast. The co-worker fled the scene, posted video of the shooting on social media, then fatally shot himself.

USA decided to hold off on airing the episode because the finale starring Rami Malek and Christian Slater “contains a graphic scene similar in nature to today’s tragic events in Virginia.”

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Brando, Vidal/Buckley docs opening at Tampa Theatre

Listen to Me MarloBrando's personal photos and recordings inform Listen to Me Marlon

Passion Pictures

Listen to Me MarloBrando's personal photos and recordings inform Listen to Me Marlon

One of the most frustrating things about this job is enduring exhibitors, bookers, distributors and their publicists, who are entrusted with the visions of artists and moviegoers' tastes, then treat them with such low respect.

Cases in point: Two well-reviewed (elsewhere) documentaries opening Friday at Tampa Theatre but somewhere along the marketing line no one thought to let the media know in time to effectively spread the word.

Listen to Me Marlon (unrated) uses hundreds of hours of Marlon Brando's personal, tape-recorded diaries to create what has been termed "a superbly crafted collage" by Variety. Certainly movie buffs will be interested.

Playing in rotation with the Brando documentary is Best of Enemies (R), a documentary recalling the nationally televised debates in 1968 between intellectuals and political opposites Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley. Variety called it "provocative as an account of what arguably was an early step in the decline of political discourse on television."

In other words, we can blame either Fox News and Bill Maher on these guys, depending upon your political leaning. …

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Bachelor in Paradise, Season 2, Week 4 - Ben H. will be back in January!

Take a long look, America. You'll be able to spend two hours a week with that mug in January.

ABC

Take a long look, America. You'll be able to spend two hours a week with that mug in January.

So, Bachelor in Paradise was really interesting this week. But who cares?

Ben Higgins is The Bachelor! (Breaks into victory dance. Pops cork on an $8 bottle of champagne.)

They tried to trick us. No one was fooled. Ben H. has been anointed since the moment he galloped on horseback over the lush green fields of Ireland and strutted into the castle of our hearts. 

He was so sweet, smart and open to expressing his fears that you couldn't help but root for the guy to find love. I mean, his last beak up made him wonder if he was unlovable. Who hasn't been there?

Welcome into America's loving bosom, Ben. We'll commence questioning your judgment as a parade of eligible women who probably wanted to meet you but also really waned to be on TV tamp down their crazy for long enough to woo you. 

I guess we still have to talk about Week 4 of Bachelor in Paradise though, so here goes. 

Joe. Bwahahahahahahahahaha.

Seriously, it was awful what happened to him but hard to feel bad. He ruthlessly pursued love and found out too late he was chasing a shark and not a tuna.  …

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'Fear the Walking Dead' series premiere: the slow burn

Nick Clark sprints away from the blood-soaked drug den/abandoned church.

AMC

Nick Clark sprints away from the blood-soaked drug den/abandoned church.

It all started with Gloria.

She's the first person Nick Clark yells for when he wakes up in a junkie drug den wearing a white, cropped cardigan. But instead of finding his friends sipping coffee and munching on bagels, Nick finds one with his throat ripped out and Gloria snacking on another unnamed friend like it was a free brunch buffet.

Nick bolts, sprinting as fast as his lanky legs and cardigan cape will let him. Then he gets hit by a car. What a terrible way to wake up with a drug-induced hangover.

And so it begins.

Sunday's premiere of Fear the Walking Dead gave us the chaos and tension of the unknown. Dead superfans, e.g. me, already know what's going on, what's going to happen, the proper way to kill a walker, etc.

But Fear gives us those terrifying details of society's collapse. It ignited the flame that slowly burns until it consumes all that our civilization takes for granted and cherishes. The little bites of information keep us on our toes. …

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Eckerd College's International Cinema Series announces fall lineup

Eckerd College's Intl. Cinema Series begins Sept. 11 with 'When Marnie Was There'

nababa.deviantart.com

Eckerd College's Intl. Cinema Series begins Sept. 11 with 'When Marnie Was There'

One of the relatively hidden gems of Tampa Bay's movie culture is the International Cinema Series conducted at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg.

Founded by professor Nathan Andersen, the series goes beyond art house and multiplex programming to bring local cineastes some of the world's most obscure yet important independent cinema. This year's lineup is no exception.

Ten films are scheduled for the fall season, from Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Estonia, Canada, Spain, China and India.

"There’s something for everyone in this lineup and it’s incredibly diverse,” Andersen said in a news release. "The films are global in scope and ambitious...

"Some of the films are very straightforward and compelling stories of people in different places. Others, like Guy Maddin’s Forbidden Room or Peter Greenaway’s Eisenstein in Guanajuato, really attempt to push the boundaries of what can be done artistically in cinema.”

Admission is free to all screenings, which begin at 7 p.m. in the Dan and Mary Miller Auditorium on the Eckerd campus. (Andersen likes pointing out that this is the only theater located in south St. Petersburg.)

This season's lineup includes: …

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Shows you should be watching: 'Hindsight' on VH1

Don't you just want to be besties with these two? Laugh with Becca and Lolly on VH1's rom-com "Hindsight."

VH1

Don't you just want to be besties with these two? Laugh with Becca and Lolly on VH1's rom-com "Hindsight."

We've all thought about second chances. What if I could start over? What if I didn't get that perm? What if I married Rob Lowe?

VH1's adorable new show Hindsight is a romantic comedy wrapped in the best '90s nostalgia and explores those questions. (We'd probably still get that perm, though.)

Hindsight stars Laura Ramsey as Becca. She's 40 and about to embark on a second marriage with her childhood friend; however, she isn't feeling that spark in her relationship or about her life. Present day, on the eve of the wedding she is thrown back to 1995. She wakes up on the morning of her first wedding to Sean, a struggling artist who, despite his sexy ponytail and bedroom talents, never fully satisfied her. In the first episode, she decides this is her chance to make different choices and fully embrace a new life. And over the rest of the nine episodes, Becca realizes how those decisions not only affect her life, but her friends' and family's as well.

This time travel premise is nothing new, I know. But somehow this show feels fresh. And oh-so-loveable. …

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Get ready: 'Fear The Walking Dead' promises chaos, tension and just enough bite

Not exactly what you want to see first thing in the morning.

AMC

Not exactly what you want to see first thing in the morning.

We are just two days away from the premiere of AMC's zombie apocalypse spinoff show Fear the Walking Dead.

via GIPHY


Set at the very beginning of the outbreak of the virus (microbe? mutation?), Fear gives us the full tour of society's breakdown once the sick die then come back to snack on the living.

Though this is the universe that encompasses The Walking Dead, Fear gives us a fresh landscape and characters not based on Robert Kirkman's famous comics. Instead of the small towns and backwoods of Georgia, we get the bustling urban jungle of Los Angeles. The characters in Dead flee overrun cities for the just-a-bit-safer wooded areas. Fear's trailer shows the focus family split and struggling to find a safe place to bunker down inside the quickly deteriorating city.

Only time will tell if Los Angeles becomes the next post-apocalyptic Atlanta.

via GIPHY …

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Important theories about Saturday's Unauthorized Full House Story on Lifetime

(L to R) Blaise Todd (Michelle Tanner), Shelby Armstrong (DJ Tanner), Justin Mader (Joey Gladstone), Garrett Brawith (Danny Tanner), Justin Gaston (Jesse Katsopolis) and Dakota Guppy (Stephanie Tanner) star in the all-new Lifetime movie, The Unauthorized Full House Story, premiering Saturday at 8 p.m.

Lifetime

(L to R) Blaise Todd (Michelle Tanner), Shelby Armstrong (DJ Tanner), Justin Mader (Joey Gladstone), Garrett Brawith (Danny Tanner), Justin Gaston (Jesse Katsopolis) and Dakota Guppy (Stephanie Tanner) star in the all-new Lifetime movie, The Unauthorized Full House Story, premiering Saturday at 8 p.m.

Do you recognize the people in this photo?

Neither does anyone. These actors hoping to hang onto their SAG cards one more week are portraying the venerable Tanner family on Saturday's The Unauthorized Full House Story on Lifetime. Seeing as how Full House was the primary entertainment source of my formative years, and that Lifetime movies are the primary entertinment source of my adulting years, I'm dipping into the sports cliches and "ready to get out there and leave it all out on the floor, give it 110 percent, earn those goals I don't deserve." …

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Regal Cinemas begins bag checks for security (and snacks?)

Times files

Regal Cinemas, by far North America's largest theater chain, is now bolstering security -- and perhaps its coffers -- with bag and backpack searches at entrances to its locations.

A smart move, considering this summer's pair of deadly events at theaters (not Regal's) in Louisiana and Tennessee, in addition to the recent sentencing to life in prison of a man responsible for mass murder in a Colorado multiplex in 2012.

But is it enough? And what other contraband besides weapons are theaters attempting to sniff out?

Moviegoers are now greeted in Regal lobbies by signs informing them of the checks, with admonitions that weapons, food and drink aren't allowed to be carried into theaters. It isn't hard to imagine that more canned soft drinks, chicken strips and candy will be discovered during these checks than guns or knives. Locally, our Regal theaters are in Pinellas Park, Largo and Citrus Park. 

A few Americans may be killers, but most are just snack smugglers. …

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Dolly Parton's TV movie airs Dec. 10, joining holiday movie cheesefest

Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland, who will play the mom in the film; producer and country queen Dolly Parton, on whom the movie is based; and child actor Alyvia Lind, who will play young Dolly.

Getty Images

Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland, who will play the mom in the film; producer and country queen Dolly Parton, on whom the movie is based; and child actor Alyvia Lind, who will play young Dolly.

Country music has been a bit of a sadfest lately, what with the split of our dear Blake and Miranda and Reba and her manager husband. Cue Dolly Parton saving the day with some holiday cheese.

NBC announced more details recently about its upcoming Dolly Parton movie called Coat of Many Colors, which apparently is "neither a biopic nor musical about Dolly's whole life and performing career but rather a family-oriented faith-based story about the incidents in her and her family's life around the time she was 9 years old."

But wait. It gets better:

"This once-in-a-lifetime movie special takes place inside the tight-knit Parton family as they struggle to overcome devastating tragedy and discover the healing power of love, faith, and a raggedy patchwork coat that helped make Parton who she is today."

Did we just step out of network primetime and into a Lifetime movie here? Or perhaps more faith-based Hallmark? This sounds just like the sort of fiction-but-call-it-based-in-fact goop you can find on those sort of networks at any given moment.

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Screen siren Sophia Loren coming to Ruth Eckerd Hall

Sophia Loren, the face that launched 1,000 dreams

latimes.com

Sophia Loren, the face that launched 1,000 dreams

No, this isn't an April Fool's joke. Just one of those once in a lifetime opportunities one never imagined, happening on April 1, 2016.

Academy Award winner Sophia Loren, 80, one of the most celebrated beauties of the 20th century, is coming to Ruth Eckerd Hall for a candid conversation about her long, storied career.

Loren could fill the evening discussing her leading men alone, a list including such luminaries as Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, Gregory Peck, Jack Lemmon and Paul Newman. Or perhaps her historic Oscar best actress Oscar for Two Women, becoming the first winner in a foreign language role.

Loren also clamed a record six David Di Donatello Awards for best actress, a Grammy and five Golden Globes, as well as an honorary Academy Award for her indelible contributions to world cinema. In 1995, she received the academy's Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievment.

Tickets ($95, $75, $55) for what promises to be an extraordinary event go on sale Saturday, Aug. 22 at 12 noon.

Full disclosure: I'll be conducting the onstage Q&A with Loren and, yes, I'm pinching myself.

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Starbucks finally making its Pumpkin Spice Lattes with actual pumpkin

Pumpkin Spice Latte in all its homey glory.

Photo from starbucks.com

Pumpkin Spice Latte in all its homey glory.

For some of us, Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte drink is the true harbinger of Florida fall. What else is supposed to signal that the seasons are changing - the weather?

So Monday's news that the coffee company will start using real pumpkin in its popular seasonal drink, instead of chemicals that taste like what we wished pumpkin tasted like, is relevant to all us basic, boot-wearing Florida-fall lovers.

Here's the full story on the recipe change, though there's still no word on when exactly we can get our paws on a PSL. (Hint: Last year, the debut creeped up to the very beginning of September.)

 

 

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Bachelor in Paradise, Season 2, Week 3 - Widows and orphans and crazy people

Samantha and Joe gaze lovingly as ABC foots the bill for their first date.

ABC

Samantha and Joe gaze lovingly as ABC foots the bill for their first date.

Poor widow/mother Juelia.

Apparently, it’s everyone else’s responsibility to read the signs for her to make sure her life doesn’t take a wrong turn.

She cried more tears this week than Ashley “The Weeping Virgin” I. and that’s really saying something.

If it sounds like I’m unbothered by the Joe/Samantha/Juelia debacle, it’s because everyone should be.
Samantha arrived this week and immediately asked Joe out on a date to do a photo shoot for People magazine. The quickness of their physical closeness was a dead giveaway that they knew one another previously, and later as Tanner and Jared try to get Joe to fess up about it, we find out just how involved they were before Paradise.

Joe and Sam talked, texted and messaged for a month before they came to Paradise. Tanner even saw a screenshot of a message from Sam telling Joe to do whatever it takes to remain on the show until she arrives. So, needless to say, they really wanted to meet each other on ABC’s dime, natch. …

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Richard Dreyfuss postpones 'Jaws' retrospective

Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws.

Movie Stills Database

Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws.

This news breaks our hearts like Mary Ellen Moffat did shark hunter Matt Hooper's in Jaws.

Academy Award winner Richard Dreyfuss, who played Hooper in Steven Spielberg's suspense classic, has been forced to postpone his Sept. 10 appearance at Capitol Theatre in Clearwater, celebrating the 40th anniversary of Jaws.

The appearance is rescheduled for Nov. 7, featuring a screening of Jaws and a candid Q&A session moderated by Times movie critic Steve Persall. Show time is 7 p.m.

A statement from Ruth Eckerd Hall (which operates the Capitol) blamed the postponement on "a scheduling conflict."

Tickets for the original date will be honored. Additional tickets ($39.50, $55, $75) are available at Ruth Eckerd Hall's box office, by calling (727) 791-7400, or by visiting www.AtTheCap.com.

Dreyfuss recently wrapped production on the ABC miniseries Madoff, starring as Wall Street scam artist Bernie Madoff.

 

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