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Michelle Stark, Times Staff Writer

Michelle Stark

Michelle Stark is part of the Things to Do crew and co-host of Play Tampa Bay. She also designs the Times' daily entertainment page, and is an editor/writer in the Features department, where she writes weekly about television at The Feed blog. She also manages the Things to Do social media accounts. Stark joined the Times after graduating from the University of South Florida in 2010 with degrees in mass communications and international relations. After an intern stint on the copy editing desk, she moved to Features.

Phone: (727) 893-8829


Twitter: @MStark17

  1. Christmas TV: When and where to catch holiday classics 'It's a Wonderful Life,' 'Home Alone,' Peanuts special and many more


    Grab a mug of hot cocoa, wrap a scarf around your neck, and make sure to crank the air down real low in your house because it’s probably not actually cold enough outside to do any of that: Christmas TV has officially arrived! Real talk: Some of this has been going on since Halloween. (Giving you serious side eye, Hallmark Channel.) But the glut of holiday programming kicks off in the next few days, with the start of ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas, network specials like the Rockefeller Center tree lighting and Peanuts Christmas classic, and this year’s crown jewel, the Grumpy Cat Christmas movie. Here are the highlights:...

  2. Chow down on these Thanksgiving TV shows, marathons, specials


    What better day is there to curl up on the couch and watch TV than Thanksgiving? You’re stuffed, you’re sleepy from all that tryptophan, you’re trying to avoid annoying family members — whatever the reason, you need some solid viewing options. The Peanuts’ Thanksgiving classic gets a head start Wednesday, but most of these (including some off-the-wall marathons) will be perfect for relaxing in that post-feast malaise....

  3. What to watch this week: 'Dancing' finale, Thanksgiving specials, 'Making of Peter Pan Live!'


    This week's list of top TV is all about the holidays, with Thanksgiving shows leading the way, and Christmas sneaking in toward the end. Plus, the top 10 perform on The Voice, Dancing with the Stars wraps up its current season (go Alfonso!) and there's a frightening show airing called When Turkeys Attack.

    Click here for the full list.

    Peter Pan Live!
  4. Top TV week of Nov. 24: 'Dancing with the Stars' finale, Thanksgiving Day parade, 'Making of Peter Pan Live!'

    The Feed


    SERIES PREMIERE Booze Traveler, 10 p.m., Travel

    It's the premiere of a new show about a guy, former bartender Jack Maxwell, who literally gets to drink on the job. He travels the globe in search of interesting drinks and the even more interesting people who drink them. This week, he goes to Turkey, a nation that's deeply divided on alcohol. But in the working-class neighborhood of Besiktas, citizens drink it defiantly. We're already hooked. ...

    Snoopy and Woodstock balloons will float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
  5. Start Thanksgiving Day with pumpkin oatmeal, sweet potato hash


    When I'm looking for recipe inspiration, one of the first places I turn to is Pinterest. I like how easy it is to stumble upon new food ideas and search for popular ones, the ability to "pin" recipes to my board and save them for later, and the fact that the options are endless. (Seriously, the thing is a vortex.)

    So when it came time to decide what to make for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning, I scrolled through some recipes I had collected over the past year. A few things to keep in mind when planning breakfast on the big day: It shouldn't be too heavy, considering the forthcoming feast, but because breakfast might be the only other full meal you and your guests will have on Thanksgiving it has to be hearty enough to hold everyone over....

    Breakfast Sweet Potato Hash is a fitting Thanksgiving Day starter.
  6. Recipe ideas for hearty squash Thanksgiving sides


    Thanksgiving as a holiday is a bit of a white carb bonanza. There are the rolls, the pies, the mashed potatoes. We like to make sure some fruits and vegetables find their way onto the table. Winter squash is a solid option that should appeal to vegetarian family members and the ones who turn their noses up at anything green.

    The three most popular varieties that come around this time of year are acorn, spaghetti and the ubiquitous butternut, so we went looking for hearty side dishes that brought out the best in those. ...

    Roasted Butternut Squash With Green Apples and Candied Walnuts.
  7. Two new shows announced that we're excited about: 'Taboo' with Tom Hardy and Hulu's 'Difficult People'


    Two new shows announced today, two wildly different concepts, two reasons to get very excited.

    First up is the news that FX has ordered the drama Taboo, with Ridley Scott producing and intense British actor Tom Hardy (Dark Knight Rises, Inception) starring. We'll pause here for excited Hardy fan-girl squealing.

    The eight-episode series is actually being produced for the BBC in the U.K., with production starting in mid to late 2015. Look for it to debut sometime in mid 2016. The period drama is set in 1813 and based on an original story by Hardy and his father, Chips Hardy, which is like the best name we've ever heard. Hardy plays "a rogue adventurer who returns from Africa with 14 ill-gotten diamonds to seek vengeance after the death of his father." He sets out to build his own trade and shipping empire, which is apparently a lot more dangerous than it may sound.

    On the other side of the TV spectrum (so far, in fact, that it's not even on a television network), streaming service Hulu has picked up a series from producer Amy Poehler. (Again, pausing for fan-girl squealing.)...

    Yes, this is Tom Hardy. And yes, he is going to be on your TVs soon.
  8. Top TV week of Nov. 17: 'State of Affairs,' 'New Girl,' 'Modern Family,' 'How to Get Away with Murder'

    The Feed


    Jane the Virgin, 9 p.m., CW

    Rogelio's twin stepdaughters are not happy about his budding relationship with Jane, so they try to interfere with her connection to him, Cinderella -style.


    SERIES PREMIERE State of Affairs, 10 p.m., NBC

    Grey's Anatomy alum Katherine Heigl, returns to TV after her lackluster movie career fizzled out, playing a CIA agent named Charleston Tucker in this new show. She's a close adviser to the president, played by the great Alfre Woodard, whose late son she used to be engaged to. Complicated enough for you? No? Well, he was killed while serving in the Middle East, and the killer is probably not who everyone says it is....

     Vanessa and Veronica Merrill are the “evil twins” Valeria and Victoria ready to torment Gina Rodriguez as Jane — in Jane the Virgin.
  9. Memo to 'State of Affairs:' Don't define women by their men

    The Feed

    For someone who's tried desperately to convince us she's not a difficult person, Katherine Heigl sure doesn't mind playing one on TV. Heigl, whom you probably know from the early seasons of Grey's Anatomy or as the pregnant one in Judd Apatow's Knocked Up, returns to weekly television Monday with NBC's new drama State of Affairs.

    The show follows her character, Charleston Tucker (yes, that's her actual name), a CIA analyst responsible for the president's daily briefing (or PDB, as everyone annoyingly calls it), a "top 10 list of the most critical threats facing our country." High stakes! Tucker is quite good at her job, and terrible at just about everything else. Sound familiar? ...

    Katherine Heigl plays CIA analyst Charleston Tucker, who gives the daily briefing to President Constance Payton (Alfre Woodard).  Both are good in roles that are too complicated by the fact that the president is the mother of Tucker’s dead fiance.
  10. This clip of Jon Stewart gushing over Steve Carell in 'Foxcatcher' is everything


    Do you like Steve Carell? Do you like Jon Stewart? Do you like old pals palling around like adorable old pals? Well then this is the clip for you. Last night, Stewart had former Daily Show correspondent Carell on The Daily Show to promote his new movie Foxcatcher. Stewart is so smitten with Carell and his success, and Carell with Stewart's kindness and new directorial debut Rosewater, that they have no choice but to have a "fawn off." It really is the cutest. Also: How incredible does Foxcatcher look?...

    Carell and Stewart, embracing.
  11. An ode to Pharrell Williams, the best judge 'The Voice' has ever had


    On the surface, the fact that Pharrell Williams is the best judge to ever grace The Voice’s red-chair-flanked stage may surprise you. Mr. Williams seems rather quiet and unassuming on the show. Before this year’s mondo hit Happy, he didn’t have great name recognition with the average person. And what about all the other judges? That vapid Maroon 5 stud Adam Levine, or perpetually boozy country guy Blake Shelton? How about all those times Shakira was a sweetheart? Surely all of the bizarre things that came out of Cee Lo Green’s mouth make him a contender, right? ...

  12. What to watch this week: A Thanksgiving 'Chopped', 'Nashville', 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?', 'A to Z'


    This week is jam-packed with new TV, including a handful of top contenders airing each night through Friday. The Voice's live rounds kick things off tonight, Dancing With the Stars host Tom Bergeron pops up on Nashville on Wednesday, and comic goddess Wendi McLendon-Covey joins Whose Line is it Anyway? later in the week.

    Click here for our full list of this week's top TV picks. ...

    Wendi in 'Whose Line'
  13. Watch: Hating on NBC's new 'Peter Pan Live' promo


    NBC has posted a new promo for its live musical event Peter Pan Live!, which reminds us that the darn thing is now less than a month away. It also makes us realize that we'd rather watch a backstage making-of documentary about Peter Pan Live! than the actual Peter Pan Live!. Because this thing is going to be a hot mess. Look, we'd love to be proven wrong, but we just don't see how this will be good. (Note: It WILL be good for our Twitter feeds.) It kinda looks worse than even last year's Sound of Music debacle. Still can't get handle Marnie from Girls as THE BOY Peter Pan. Still can't deal with Christopher Walken's terrible, terrible Captain Hook makeup, or how his specific Walken-ness is going to distract from everything else on stage....

    Williams, left, and Walken.
  14. Top TV week of Nov. 10: 'Chopped,' 'Scorpion,' 'Scandal,' Hollywood Film Awards

    The Feed


    The Voice, 8 p.m., NBC

    The live shows start this week, as judges Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams release the top 20 contestants to fend for themselves against America's fickle voting patterns. The first results show is on Wednesday.

    Scorpion, 9 p.m., CBS...

    From left, Wayne Brady, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles in Whose Line Is It Anyway?
  15. Disney-Pixar releasing 'Toy Story 4' June 2017


    Ready for more Toy Story?

    Well, ready or not, we're getting another edition of the beloved Disney-Pixar franchise that'll follow the adventures of Woody, Buzz and the gang: Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger announced this week that Toy Story 4 is in the works and slated for a June 2017 release.

    Our first thought: What's left to tell in a fourth movie? Didn't Toy Story 3 have a practically perfect ending, with that emotionally charged passing of the toys from our human hero Andy to that little girl down the street? ...

    Buzz and Woody seem to share our general skepticism.