Categoria: TV and Streaming

Baseball Legend Reggie Jackson Discusses His Legacy Ahead Of Documentary

Reggie Jackson’s baseball resume is the stuff of legend: 563 home runs (making him 14th all-time); 14-time All-Star; a Most Valuable Player Award and five World Series-winning teams – three times with the Oakland A’s and two with the New York Yankees. He also became the first player since Babe Ruth to hit three homers in a World Series game.

Jackson’s outsized baseball achievements landed him in the Hall of Fame, but that’s not how he wants to be remembered.

During his playing days, Jackson brimmed with confidence and famously was quoted describing himself as “the straw that stirs the drink” on the Yankees. (Jackson has disputed saying the quote; the reporter who quoted him continues to stand by it.) He was the subject of endless media coverage, most of it focused on his titanic blasts and larger-than-life personality.

Baseball great Reggie Jackson, left, hugs California Angels owner Gene Autry during ceremonies Jan. 26, 1982, announcing that Jackson had signed with the Angels.(AP Photo/Mclendon, File)

Jackson, 76, is the subject of “Reggie,” a Prime Video documentary that premieres March 24. In this file photo, Hall of Famers Henry Aaron, left, with Jackson during the All-Star Homerun Derby at Angel Stadium on Monday, July 12, 2010, in Anaheim. (SGVN/Staff Photo by Keith Birmingham/SPORTS)

Reggie Jackson at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 18, 2023, in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mireya Acierto/Getty Images for Prime Video)

Seen here in a file photo, Reggie Jackson, now 76, is the subject of “Reggie,” a Prime Video documentary that premieres March 24, 2023. (Orange County Register file photo)

Reggie Jackson, 76, is the subject of “Reggie,” a Prime Video documentary that premieres March 24. In this photo, Jackson watches the flight of the ball as he slammed a home run during Game One of the World Series in Los Angeles, Ca. on Oct. 10, 1978. (AP Photo/stf)

Former professional baseball right fielder, Reggie Jackson (left) attends Spring Training of the New York Mets vs the Houston Astros at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 18, 2023, in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mireya Acierto/Getty Images for Prime Video)

Now Jackson, 76, is the subject of “Reggie,” a Prime Video documentary that premieres March 24. Naturally, the film celebrates his career, including those 1977 World Series home runs against the Dodgers, plus another the following year to finish off Los Angeles as well as a bit on his five seasons and 123 homers with the Angels.

But the element that drove him to overcome his wariness and participate in the film is that it looked beyond the home runs to tackle issues of racism faced by athletes of color during his heyday and by aspiring executives today. The fact that baseball continues to fail miserably when it comes to providing opportunities for diversity when hiring managers and front-office executives frustrates Jackson to no end.

“It impacts the future of the game, too,” he said during an interview this week in a Manhattan hotel. “If you have more diversity, you’ll get ideas from a broader perspective and have a more well-rounded product.”

The film looks back at how racism in baseball, the media and the country back in the 1960s and ‘70s shaped and fueled him. At one point, he notes that Hank Aaron, a Black man, received hate mail and death threats while chasing Babe Ruth’s home run record, but Pete Rose, who is White, was cheered for his pursuit of Ty Cobb’s hit record.

“I was a fierce competitor, but racism did take its toll on me as a player — you get tired and your concentration gets fragmented,” he said during our interview before adding that every Black person in America faced this exhausting conundrum.

A lifetime of racism often left him burning with anger, he said. “I was in my mid-50s before I settled down. I didn’t care to cover it up and I was truthful about it so I wouldn’t have done a documentary back even in my 50s. I was too amped, still.”

Jackson also hopes the film would help restore the sense of his dignity that he felt was stripped away by the White media and fans who interpreted his confidence and swagger as pure arrogance. (That attitude still plagues baseball; for example, Jackson’s ex-teammate Goose Gossage has berated Latino players, calling them showboats for playing with joy and enthusiasm.)

“People said I was an egomaniac and that’s why I hit home runs in the postseason — they’d say, ‘Reggie plays better when he’s on television,’” Jackson said. “Really, I just handled pressure well.”

(Indeed he did. In nine post-seasons with Oakland and the Yankees, “Mr. October” batted .300, well above his .262 regular season average. For stats fans, his OPS – on-base plus slugging percentage – in those playoffs and World Series was a whopping .944 versus his .846 regular season tally.)

In the film, Jackson chats with former teammates like Vida Blue, Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers about their shared experiences.

“It was hugely important for me to include them, but I couldn’t get all the people I wanted into the documentary because I didn’t have control of it,” he said. “That broke my heart.”

Jackson also talked with Aaron shortly before his 2021 death. That conversation helps Jackson highlight baseball’s lack of diversity among its managers and front-office executives. Aaron notes that his role with Atlanta is meaningless, that he has a front office job so the powers that be could point to that as a sign of progress.

“He had a name on the office and nothing else,” Jackson said in our interview. Aaron died a month after their talk and Jackson said mournfully, “He said to me, ‘Reggie I always wondered if the color of our skin was a curse.’ Hank Aaron died sad.”

In one scene, Jackson talks to Yankee owner Hal Steinbrenner about the paucity of minority executives. Steinbrenner’s platitudes clearly frustrate Jackson who left the Yankee family to join Jim Crane and the Houston Astros as a special adviser. Houston already had Dusty Baker, one of the game’s few Black or Latino managers, and since the film was finished the Astros have hired Dana Brown, now the game’s only Black or Latino general manager.

“I won’t take any credit for that,” Jackson said during our interview. (Don’t worry, Jackson has not become overburdened by modesty. The man who once prophesied that “if I played in New York, they’d name a candy bar after me” dropped an aside during our conversation that “I’m one of the best-known car collectors in the country.”)

His point here is that leveling the playing field “is up to ownership and it’s not happening fast enough.” (He also praises Crane’s humility, calling up a text on his phone to show that Crane – who interviewed four Black candidates out of six total – is equally uninterested in being saluted for this decision.)

The film recounts Jackson’s failed attempt to buy, with a group that included Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1990s (he planned to give shares to legendary Black players Aaron, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson and Bob Gibson) and talks about falling into depression after that failed.

In our conversation, he said he also fronted an attempt the following decade to buy the A’s – he pulled up on his phone a letter that showed that his group’s offer would go $25 million beyond any other. His effort did not receive support from then-commissioner Bud Selig. When I asked if he felt there was concern about having an outspoken and honest Black man as an owner, he responded with his own question that referenced some White Hall of Famers: “Do you think if I was Mike Schmidt or George Brett this would have happened?”

Jackson recalled being surprised that Richard Lapchick, who heads The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, called him an activist. “I didn’t know I was one because I think of an activist as someone who’s difficult and outspoken and unruly,” Jackson says. “I’m not that. I’m just for what’s right. Treat me right, bro.”

Still, Jackson sounded a bit like an activist at the end of our conversation when he said he was a little disappointed that the documentary didn’t always emphasize what was most important to him. I asked for one thing that was edited out that he’d like to have in the record books and Jackson pointed to work his Mr. October Foundation does helping prepare minority children for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) careers.

“I wanted to talk about how my career impacted my future,” he said. “I’d rather be remembered and lauded for helping pave the way for those who followed and for what I do to help lift underserved communities than for my home runs and baseball career.”

Lance Reddick Dies At 60; Beloved Character Actor Starred In ‘John Wick’ Films And ‘The Wire’

By Mark Kennedy | Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Lance Reddick, a character actor who specialized in intense, icy and possibly sinister authority figures on TV and film, including “The Wire,” “Fringe” and the “John Wick” franchise, has died. He was 60.

Reddick died “suddenly” Friday morning, his publicist Mia Hansen said in a statement, attributing his death to natural causes. His death was first reported by celebrity website

Reddick was often put in a suit or a crisp uniform during his career, playing tall taciturn and elegant men of distinction. He was best known for his role as straight-laced Lt. Cedric Daniels on the hit HBO series “The Wire,” where his character was agonizingly trapped in the messy politics of the Baltimore police department.

“I’m an artist at heart. I feel that I’m very good at what I do. When I went to drama school, I knew I was at least as talented as other students, but because I was a Black man and I wasn’t pretty, I knew I would have to work my butt off to be the best that I would be, and to be noticed,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2009.

Reddick also starred on the Fox series “Fringe” as a special agent Phillip Broyles, the smartly dressed Matthew Abaddon on “Lost” and played the multi-skilled Continental Hotel concierge Charon in the “John Wick” movies, including the fourth in the series opening this month

He earned a SAG Award nomination in 2021 as part of the ensemble for Regina King’s film “One Night in Miami.” Reddick played recurring roles on “Intelligence” and “American Horror Story” and was on the show “Bosch” for its seven-year run.

His upcoming projects include 20th Century’s remake of “White Men Can’t Jump” and “Shirley,” Netflix’s biopic of former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. He was also slated to appear in the “John Wick” spinoff “Ballerina,” as well as “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial.”

The Baltimore-born-and-raised Reddick was a Yale University drama school graduate who enjoyed some success after school by landing guest or recurring roles “CSI: Miami” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” He also appeared in several movies, including “I Dreamed of Africa,” “The Siege” and “Great Expectations.”

It was on season four of “Oz,” playing a doomed undercover officer sent to prison who becomes an addict, that Reddick had a career breakthrough.

“I was never interested in television. I always saw it as a means to an end. Like so many actors, I was only interested in doing theater and film. But ‘Oz’ changed television. It was the beginning of HBO’s reign on quality, edgy, artistic stuff. Stuff that harkens back to great cinema of the ’60s and ’70s,” he told The Associated Press in 2011.

“When the opportunity for ‘Oz’ came up, I jumped. And when I read the pilot for ‘The Wire,’ as a guy that never wanted to be on television, I realized I had to be on this show.”

Reddick attended the prestigious Eastman School of Music, where he studied classical composition, and he played piano. His first album, the jazzy “Contemplations and Remembrances,” came out in 2011.

Reddick had a recurring role as Jeffrey Tetazoo, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, on CBS’ “Intelligence.” On “American Horror Story: Coven,” Reddick portrayed Papa Legba, the go-between between humanity and the spirit world.

Reddick is survived by his wife, Stephanie Reddick, and children, Yvonne Nicole Reddick and Christopher Reddick.

Ranking All ‘Ted Lasso’ Episodes As Season 3 Is About To Arrive

Happy “Ted Lasso” Season 3 eve.

For those who celebrate, here’s a breakdown of all 22 episodes from the first two seasons, ranked from the merely good to the brilliant.

Yes, there are some spoilers, but why read this if you’re not already a fan? And, of course, personal preference affects the rankings. For instance, any episode in which Hannah Waddingham sings gets bonus points, the appearance of everyone’s favorite Smurf helps and look out when both happen in the same installment.

The key players of each episode are identified with a one-sentence plot summary and a top quote that doesn’t include foul language; you’d think that would eliminate all Roy Kent lines, but he still has more than a third of the selections.

Feel free to take to social media with why these choices are impeccable or, more likely, why they’re garbage before Season 3 begins Wednesday.

22. “Goodbye Earl”

Season 2, Episode 1 MVP: Ted Unsung hero: Rebecca One-sentence plot summary: Dr. Sharon Fieldstone arrives to help accidental dog-killer Dani and others get out of their heads, and Roy gives Rebecca dating advice. Best line: “Don’t you dare settle for fine.” – Roy 21. “Biscuits”

Season 1, Episode 2 MVP: Keeley Unsung hero: Ted One-sentence plot summary: Rebecca, who dreads and loves biscuits with the boss, tries to set up Ted in a compromising photo with Keeley to anger Jamie and hurt the team. Best line: “Be a goldfish.” – Ted 20. “Lavender”

Season 2, Episode 2 MVP: Jamie Unsung hero: Roy One-sentence plot summary: Jamie wants to return to Richmond after he gets booted from “Lust Conquers All,” and Roy takes his creative vocabulary to a role as a TV analyst. Best line: “I’ve never met someone who doesn’t eat sugar. Only heard about ’em, and they all live in this godless place called Santa Monica.” – Ted This image released by Apple TV+ shows Jason Sudeikis in a scene from “Ted Lasso.” (Colin Hutton/Apple TV+ via AP) 19. “Pilot”

Season 1, Episode 1 MVP: Ted Unsung hero: Rebecca One-sentence plot summary: Ted, who knows nothing about that other football,  is hired as AFC Richmond’s coach in Rebecca’s plot to destroy the club her ex-husband cherishes. Best line: “Well, you got Ronaldo and that fella that bends it like himself.” – Ted 18. “Headspace”

Season 2, Episode 7 MVP: Keeley Unsung hero: Nate One-sentence plot summary: Roy smothers Keeley until he finally figures out she needs space, and Nate starts to reveal hidden parts of his character once he gets credit for a winning strategy. Best line: “Hey, Siri. Play the ‘Roy is Sorry for Not Understanding Keeley’ playlist.” – Roy 17. “Two Aces”

Season 1, Episode 6 MVP: Dani Unsung hero: Jamie One-sentence plot summary: Talented, joyful Dani arrives, the team gathers to lift a curse (and debate Scorsese movies) and Jamie comes around, only to be returned to Man City. Best line: “This is why blankie means so much to me.” – Roy 16. “The Signal”

Season 2, Episode 6 MVP: Jamie Unsung hero: Rebecca One-sentence plot summary: Roy encourages Jamie to be more selfish at the right times, and Rebecca deals with her mother’s latest decision to leave her father. Best line: “Boy, I love meeting people’s moms. It’s like reading an instruction manual as to why they’re nuts.” – Ted 15. “Tan Lines”

Season 1, Episode 5 MVP: Ted Unsung hero: Roy One-sentence plot summary: Ted makes big decisions about his marriage, benches Jamie and picks up a victory and a loss. Best line: “I’m sort of famous for being almost famous.” – Keeley This image released by Apple TV+ shows Brett Goldstein in a scene from “Ted Lasso.” (Colin Hutton/Apple TV+ via AP) 14. “Rainbow”

Season 2, Episode 5 MVP: Roy Unsung hero: Nate One-sentence plot summary: Ted embraces rom-communism to convince Roy he belongs on Richmond’s coaching staff, and Nate learns how to score the best table at a restaurant. Best line: “Shut up. Just shut up. You had me at ‘Coach.’” – Roy 13. “Man City”

Season 2, Episode 8 MVP: Rebecca Unsung hero: Roy One-sentence plot summary: Richmond gets stomped in the FA Cup semifinals by Jamie’s old team, Jamie fights back against his father, Ted reveals his darkest secret and Rebecca makes a decision with her heart. Best line: “Uncle Roy, you teach me great things. I called that boy a name because he’s a bully. And because of you, I stand up to bullies. And referees. And I can do that without swearing.” – Phoebe 12. “Inverting the Pyramid of Success”

Season 2, Episode 12 (season finale) MVP: Ted Unsung hero: Sam One-sentence plot summary: Ted deals with the fallout of some news, Richmond plays with promotion on the line, Sam mulls an offer and Nate blasts Ted on his way to a new role. Best line: “It hurt my feeling.” – Roy 11. “Beard After Hours”

Season 2, Episode 9 MVP: Beard Unsung hero: Baz One-sentence plot summary: Coach Beard works out his frustration with the loss to Man City on a night wandering through London hanging out with Crown & Anchor barflies, a mysterious woman and Jamie’s dad. Best line: “Are you there God, it’s me … Margaret’s little boy.” – Beard 10. “Trent Crimm: The Independent”

Season 1, Episode 3 MVP: Ted Unsung hero: Roy One-sentence plot summary: Ted spends the day with reporter Trent Crimm (The Independent) and makes a key breakthrough with Roy, the influential captain. Best line: “Am I supposed to be the little girl?” – Roy 9. “Midnight Train to Royston”

Season 2, Episode 11 MVP: Sam Unsung hero: Dr. Sharon One-sentence plot summary: Rebecca tells Ted what’s happening with Sam, who is courted by the owner of a team in Africa, and Dr. Sharon tries to leave with goodbye letters. Best line: “Well, Rebecca. Listen to me. Don’t listen to me. Don’t listen to Edwin Akufo. Don’t even listen to Sam. You just listen to your gut, OK? And on your way down to your gut, check in with your heart. Between those two things, they’ll let you know what’s what.” – Ted 8. “Do the Right-est Thing”

Season 2, Episode 3 MVP: Sam Unsung hero: Nora One-sentence plot summary: Rebecca tries to make up for lost time with her goddaughter Nora, Sam takes a stand against a corporate sponsor and newly returned Jamie joins him. Best line: “We’re a team, ain’t we? Gotta wear the same kit.” – Jamie 7. “The Hope That Kills You”

Season 1, Episode 10 (season finale) MVP: Roy Unsung hero: Ted One-sentence plot summary: Chaos reigns as Richmond tries to avoid relegation, Roy comes off the bench in a valiant effort, a familiar face does something out of character and Rebecca decides Ted’s fate. Best line: “I promise you there is something worse out there than being sad, and that’s being alone and being sad. Ain’t no one in this room alone.” – Ted Emmy winner Hannah Waddingham sings three times in the first two seasons of “Ted Lasso.” All three episodes are among the top six in these rankings. (Colin Hutton/Apple TV+ via AP) 6. “Carol of the Bells”

Season 2, Episode 4 MVP: Rebecca Unsung hero: Phoebe One-sentence plot summary: Rebecca saves Ted from a lonely Christmas (and earns bonus points with a song), the Higgins family hosts chosen family and Keeley and Roy confront Phoebe’s problem and bully with love, actually. Best line: “I’ve spent the last 20 years in locker rooms with me. I promise you, I’ve smelled worse. … I think you might be dying.” – Roy 5. “All Apologies”

Season 1, Episode 9 MVP: Roy Unsung hero: Rebecca One-sentence plot summary: Rebecca comes clean with Ted, who forgives her, and helps Roy realize it’s time to pull him from the starting lineup. Best line: “When your kid hits puberty, you’ll be nothing but a pile of dust and a black Amex card.” – Rebecca 4. “For the Children”

Season 1, Episode 4 MVP: Rebecca Unsung hero: Keeley One-sentence plot summary: Rebecca’s icy facade cracks when Ted helps her at a charity event with her ex in attendance, and Keeley dumps Jamie, has initial sparks with Roy and gains her best friend. Best line: “I need to freshen up. I probably look like Robert Smith after he’s woken up from a nap.” – Rebecca 3. “The Diamond Dogs”

Season 1, Episode 8 MVP: Ted Unsung hero: Roy One-sentence plot summary: Ted battles Rupert for Rebecca’s honor while paying homage to “The Princess Bride” and giving the first hint about his father, and Roy moves past his hatred for Jamie to start a relationship with Keeley. Best line: “Barbecue sauce.” – Ted (well, the whole darts speech, but this is the kicker) 2. “No Weddings and A Funeral”

Season 2, Episode 10 Co-MVPs: Rebecca and Ted Unsung hero: Sam One-sentence plot summary: Rebecca confronts her mother about her dead father’s infidelity while Ted tells Dr. Sharon about his father’s suicide, and Sam comforts Rebecca before she puts their affair on hold Best line: “Avenge me, Keeley. Avenge me.” – Roy 1. “Make Rebecca Great Again”

Season 1, Episode 7 Co-MVPs: Rebecca and Ted Unsung hero: Sassy One-sentence plot summary: A trip to Liverpool builds Rebecca’s friendship with Keeley and renews her bond with Sassy, and after Rebecca dazzles at karaoke she helps Ted with his panic attack before he gets divorced and sleeps with Sassy. Best line: “A fax machine, hey? Are you sending something to the year 1997?” – Sassy

Todd Harmonson | Senior Editor Todd Harmonson is the Orange County Register’s senior editor and one of the lead editors for the Southern California News Group. He is an award-winning journalist who spent much of his career in sports as a reporter and, later, as the Register’s sports editor. Harmonson has been honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors and the Orange County Press Club for his column writing. Harmonson is the president and chairman of the board of the all-volunteer California Scholastic Press Association, which conducts one of the longest-running high school journalism workshops in the country. He was inducted into Cal State Fullerton’s Communications Wall of Fame in 2017. He and his wife, Michelle, have three adult children.

Amar Santana Returns As Contestant On Bravo’s ‘Top Chef’ World All-Stars

Southern California chef Amar Santana will return to compete in Bravo’s “Top Chef” World All-Stars series premiering Thursday, March 9 on Bravo.

The Emmy- and James Beard Award-winning show will enter its 20th season this year going entirely abroad for the first time and pitting 16 chefs from “Top Chef” iterations around the globe.

The series was filmed throughout London, with some episodes taking place at iconic locations such as Highclere Castle and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, last fall with the season finale set in Paris to name the World All-Stars champion.

Santana first came to Southern California from New York in 2008 and went on to open Broadway by Amar Santana in Laguna Beach and Michelin Guide-recognized Vaca, part of the South Coast Plaza restaurant collection, in Costa Mesa with partner Ahmed Labbate.

He first appeared on season 13 “Top Chef: California” as a contestant and finalist seven years ago before returning as one of the rotating guest judges on ‘Top Chef: Portland’ a few years later.

“I remember after judging season 18 of ‘Top Chef’ how I enjoyed it so much, being on the other side instead of running around,” Santana said. “When I was in Portland I told everyone I’m done competing, I’m too old for this.”

But the call to compete was too tempting to pass up and when the time came for Santana to be a competitor on one of the biggest seasons in the show’s history, he had to say yes.

Local chef Amar Santana will be a contestant on the new season of ‘Top Chef’ World All-Stars premiering March 9, 2023. (Photo by: Stephanie Diani/Bravo)

Local chef Amar Santana will be a contestant on the new season of ‘Top Chef’ World All-Stars premiering March 9, 2023. Pictured: (l-r) Tom Goetter, Samuel Albert, Buddha Lo, Sylwia Stachyra, Ali Al Ghzawi, Dawn Burrell, Amar Santana, Charbel Hayek, Victoire Gouloubi, Nicole Gomez — (Photo by: David Moir/Bravo)

Local chef Amar Santana will be a contestant on the new season of ‘Top Chef’ World All-Stars premiering March 9, 2023. Pictured: (l-r) Amar Santana, Ali Al Ghzawi — (Photo by: David Moir/Bravo)

“I said you know what, let me just give it a shot and see how the old man is gonna pair up against chefs from around the world,” Santana said.

Only four chefs were chosen from the United States and Santana is the only contestant from California. The other contestants from the U.S. include Chef Sara Bradley from Kentucky, Chef Dawn Burrell from Houston and Chef Buddha Lo from New York. Chefs from Lebanon, Jordan, Brazil, France, Germany, Thailand and more will also be competing.

“I always doubt myself, I always think I’m not good enough to compete,” Santana said. “I always put myself down like that, but it gives me the fire to do even better. I was honored they chose me from California.”

For Santana, the opportunity wasn’t just to see how he would hold up against the chefs at his “old” age, but also a chance to learn from chefs with different cultural perspectives on food. And the level of competition made this season particularly hard.

“It’s probably the craziest thing I’ve ever done in my life when it comes to my cooking career,” Santana said. “Getting to meet all these chefs from all around their world, their culture, their cuisine, their style of cooking … so it was not only fun competing but also learning from them.”

Host Padma Lakshmi returns with judges Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons, and rotating guest judges from international versions of the show. Episodes will air every Thursday at 9 p.m. and be available the next day on Peacock.

‘Top Chef’ When: Premieres at 9 p.m. Thursday, March 9

Channel: Bravo

Caitlin Antonios | Reporter Caitlin Antonios is a California native and has spent most of her life living in Orange County. After graduating from the University of California, Irvine with a literary journalism and English degree, she attended Columbia University for the Toni Stabile Investigative Journalism program. She spent a year freelancing investigative stories covering education, health and the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘America’s Got Talent: All-Stars’ Kodi Lee Delivers Soaring ‘Heroes’ By David Bowie

A few days before singer and pianist Kodi Lee took the stage for his performance in the finals of “America’s Got Talent: All-Stars,” he answered coyly when asked what song he’d chosen for the broadcast on Monday.

“You’ll have to wait and see,” the 26-year-old Lake Elsinore native says, laughing as he so often does in conversation.

We waited, and we saw Lee deliver a beautiful version of David Bowie’s “Heroes,” a perfect choice given its lyrical content for a blind performer with autism who won the 14th season of “America’s Got Talent.”

Singer-pianist Kodi Lee is seen on the red carpet for “America’s Got Talent: All-Stars” before the finale episode aired on Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. The Lake Elsinore native will find out on the results show on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023 whether or not he added an all-stars championship to his regular season one from 2019. (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC

Singer-pianist Kodi Lee performs on “America’s Got Talent: All-Stars” in the finale episode aired on Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. The Lake Elsinore native will find out on the results show on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023 whether or not he added an all-stars championship to his regular season one from 2019. (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC

Singer-pianist Kodi Lee, center, with his mother Tina Lee, right, and host Terry Crews, left is seen on “America’s Got Talent: All-Stars” in the finale episode aired on Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. The Lake Elsinore native will find out on the results show on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023 whether or not he added an all-stars championship to his regular season one from 2019. (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC

Singer-pianist Kodi Lee performs on “America’s Got Talent: All-Stars” in the finale episode aired on Monday, Feb. 20, 2023. The Lake Elsinore native will find out on the results show on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023 whether or not he added an all-stars championship to his regular season one from 2019. (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC

“That song, the lyric is ‘We can be heroes just for one day,’” judge Howie Mandel told Lee at its conclusion. “Kodi, you are a hero every day. You really are.”

Fellow judges Heidi Klum and Simon Cowell were equally enthusiastic about Lee’s artistry, which also arrived as the penultimate performance of the night, typically a very good spot to be in a TV talent competition.

“You shine so bright on that stage,” Klum told him. “You are the ultimate all-star, you just are. I love you so much.”

Cowell called the performance “stunning, honestly stunning.”

“I mean, boy, that lyric took on a whole new meaning for us just then. Really,” he said. “There’s something really, really special about you, Kodi. You’re just so cool and just so brilliant.”

As Lee walked off stage with his mother, Tina Lee, and host Terry Crews, Cowell leaned over to ask Klum and Mandel, now having seen 10 of the 11 finalists, who they thought would win.

“I think Kodi,” Klum said, turning to gaze at the packed house in the theater. “I mean, look at everyone. Everyone loved, loved, loved him.”

In our earlier interview, Lee said he felt confident about his chances in the finale, which wraps up Monday, Feb. 27 with the results show. It’s a feeling he knows most from his life as a musician and entertainer, his mother Tina Lee says, but that can-do sense has spilled over into other parts of his life since his AGT journey began in 2019, she adds.

And while the idea of bringing her son into the spotlight of a hugely successful TV show was frightening four years ago, the experience of the show then and now has been nothing but good for Kodi and the entire family, she said.

“This was a lot more fun for me, a lot less worrisome,” said Tina Lee, who as her son’s escort on the show, has had plenty of screen time. “Because you don’t know what to expect. You’ve worked your entire life to help him coexist, and you’re just a little bit worried when you take him up there.

“And, of course, I’m very nervous in front of people anyway,” she added, as her son laughed next to her.

“We worked so hard for him to be able to do what he loves to do by performing,” Lee said. “That took many years of him understanding that he has to deal with crowds. You know, people touching him. Being around a crowd.

“That’s how he learned to become so good in the world,” she said. “That’s how he’s been able to coexist, by the fact that he is a born entertainer.”

This time, Lee says she’s noticed her son is more open and outgoing than during his championship season in 2019. He’s made jokes on stage with the audience and the judges. He understands how they’ll react each time he delivers his signature response of “Heck, yeah!” a phrase he’s made so popular you can buy it on various items of Kodi Lee merch.

“I don’t think people realize the caliber of what the show did for him with his disability side,” Lee said. “People just see the part where, you know, ‘Oh my gosh, he’s talented.’ But the part where it’s so good for him to be a part of all this is how this helps him and all other people with disabilities.

“It’s like things, when you adapt to them, look how far they can go. They can just do what anybody else does.”

With the $1 million prize Kodi Lee won in 2019, he bought a house in Las Vegas, where he opens and closes the America’s Got Talent Super Stars Live at the Luxor casino.

“I love it! I love it, I love it,” he said of the show which features other AGT talents Wednesdays through Saturdays. “I love the crowd. I love the applause. Chanting my name: Kodi! Kodi! Kodi!”

He’s also started to record and release his first original music. The single “Miracle,” cowritten with his longtime vocal coach Sal Spinelli and Mark Renk, arrived in August. 2022. “Hello World,” a collaboration with Men At Work singer-songwriter Colin Hay, was released in January.

Tina Lee said that because of the communication issues that come with her son’s autism, his collaborators have found different ways to unlock his creative thoughts and ideas, all of which have blossomed through the doors that have opened for him through “America’s Got Talent.”

“We were kind of stuck in speech,” she says of Kodi’s verbal communication skills in 2019. “And when he auditioned, and after all that happened, I mean, his speech changed so much his speech teacher called and couldn’t believe it. It’s kind of like when you find what they love to do they start to flourish.”

Kodi Lee said he wants to write, record and release an album eventually and also perform more with his rock band – something he’d often done in his life before the show – and not just focus on the solo piano for which he’s now mostly known.

Tina Lee says the Lee family is currently working to get the Kodi Lee Foundation – working slogan: Helping Children One Note at a Time – up and running. It won’t be just for children with autism or blindness, or only for those with musical skills like Kodi. Instead, she said, it will help families find ways to support their disabled children’s skills no matter what area they lie in.

“I want to give the kids the tools they need because it was such a fight for me,” she said. “Like us, we had a family donate a piano when he was three. We wouldn’t have been able to do that because we couldn’t afford it. I just want to give back that way.”

As for Kodi’s future, Tina Lee says the whole family is both thrilled that he has the opportunities to live the life he wants, and inspired by what he’s accomplished.

“Yes, I can say I’m happy that he has a job, but it’s more than that,” she said. “Just knowing that your son is like everybody else. Gets the same opportunities. It’s really hard to express, especially when going through so many years of wondering and worry about where he’ll end up.

“Him going on ‘America’s Got Talent’ and winning changed it,” Lee said. “It made things that seem impossible possible.”

Chris Palmer Wanted To Read A Book About ‘Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air.’ So He Wrote One.

For Chris Palmer, the neon-hued pop culture of his youth in the ’80s and ’90s might have faded into a warm nostalgic glow, but he never stopped caring for the things he loved back then.

“I’m someone who is super into nostalgia and things from when I was young, in my teenage years,” says Palmer, who as a journalist has written about the intersection between sports – mostly NBA basketball – and culture for 25 years.

“Whether it’s music, film, TV, sports teams, art or whatever,” he says. “I read a lot of stuff about that.”

Chris Palmer grew up loving “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” sitcom. When he looked for a book about the show a few years ago he couldn’t find any — so he decided to write one himself, exploring how the groundbreaking show made Will Smith a star and introduced hip-hop and a different kind of Black-themed storytelling to network television. (Book image courtesy of Atria Books)

Chris Palmer grew up loving “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” sitcom. When he looked for a book about the show a few years ago he couldn’t find any — so he decided to write one himself, exploring how the groundbreaking show made Will Smith a star and introduced hip-hop and a different kind of Black-themed storytelling to network television. (Photo courtesy of Chris Palmer)

Will Smith poses outside the set of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” in Los Angeles, Calif., on Oct. 15, 1990, about one month after the show premiered. (AP Photo/Julie Markes)

Will Smith, second from right, is joined by the cast of the television comedy series “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” during the 5th annual BET Awards on Tuesday, June 28, 2005, in Los Angeles. Seen left to right are James Avery, who played Uncle Phil, Daphne Maxwell Reid, who played (the second) Aunt Viv, Karyn Parson, who portrayed Hilary, Tatyana Ali, who Ashley, Smith, and Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Chris Palmer grew up loving “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” sitcom. When he looked for a book about the show a few years ago he couldn’t find any — so he decided to write one himself, exploring how the groundbreaking show made Will Smith a star and introduced hip-hop and a different kind of Black-themed storytelling to network television. (Photo courtesy of Chris Palmer, book image courtesy of Atria Books)

So, when his teenage obsession with the NBC sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” reignited a few years ago, Palmer says he did what he always does in that situation.

“I wanted to read a ‘Fresh Prince’ book, and I searched for one, and I quickly realized that one didn’t exist,” Palmer says. “So basically, I wrote one. This is a book that I wanted to read on the show that so many people loved. I just ended up doing it myself.”

That book, “The Fresh Prince Project: How ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ Remixed America,” is out  this month, its dust jacket designed in tones of hot pink, lime green and electric blue that will instantly hurtle readers back in time to 1990 when the “Fresh Prince” turned a cheerful younger rapper named Will Smith into an overnight hip-hop TV star.

Palmer, who is scheduled to appear at Barnes & Noble at the Grove in Los Angeles on Thursday, Feb. 9 to discuss and sign the book, talked with every major member of the “Fresh Prince” cast except for Smith, who was writing his own memoir at the time, and the late James Avery, who played Smith’s Uncle Phil on the show.

He interviewed writers, producers and directors who worked on the show, watched and re-watched all 148 episodes of “The Fresh Prince,” and pored through contemporaneous interviews and articles about the show.

Here, in an interview edited for clarity and length, is Palmer’s story all about how his life got turned upside down in the years he worked on the book.

Q: You were 13 or 14 when the show began. Did you already know the music of DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince at that point?

A: That was definitely the entryway because they had ‘Parents Just Don’t Understand,” and that was on constant radio play. So there was the show, and I was like, ‘Oh, wow, that’s the Fresh Prince, and this is a cool kind of hip-hop show.’ And that kind of thing didn’t exist back then.

I didn’t know what the show was going to be about. They just sort of took this rapper, who had this kind of fun, almost cartoonish kind of comedic persona, and put it into a TV. So I remember watching the preview commercials and just being excited.

Q: How was it different from other shows that you watched, or shows that featured Black characters and themes?

A: So ‘The Cosby Show’ obviously was the main predecessor to the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.’ But I didn’t really watch that. It was slightly before my time in terms of what I was interested in. And it never seemed that funny to me. The appeal of ‘The Fresh Prince’ was that it was very funny. There was a lot of silliness and quick quips back and forth. It was a show that was much more in my wheelhouse.

A lot of it was because of Will and his Fresh Prince persona. When you watch it today, that type of very broad sitcom humor still kind of appeals. But back then, when it was younger, it was just the funniest show.

Q: When you look back at it 30 years later, not as a 14-year-old but as someone who writes about pop culture, what’s groundbreaking about this show?

A: The No. 1 thing is just that hip-hop vibe because that had never been on TV before. We’d seen Black families. You’d seen Black shows. ‘The Cosby Show.’ ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ wasn’t really a Black show but it had two main Black characters. Then the old classics like ‘The Jeffersons’ and ‘Good Times.’ Those were just about Black families but there was no hip-hop vibe.

The other thing that I really do like about ‘The Fresh Prince’ – it’s a pretty simple template, which is ‘fish out of water.’ And there are many, many, many fish-out-of-water sitcoms. What was new about this one, you take Will, who was basically from the ‘hood, and instead of putting him with a White family, you put him with a Black family that is just as different in this telling as a regular rich White family would be.

And you can explore a lot of very different kinds of topics just because of that one dynamic. Now you can explore all these differences between different slices of Black life. That was kind of the genius of the show – the hip-hop aspect and that new sort of wrinkle to the fish out of water.

Q: How did you choose which themes from the show – issues such as colorism, driving while Black, and fatherhood – to emphasize in the book?

A: The show is super-broad comedy that sort of dips its toes in these weighty issues. And you never knew when they would come. Back then, they called them ‘very special episodes.’ And even though the show was about fun, the heavier stuff is kind of what people remember.

I noticed a sort of connective tissue between these episodes; they all dealt with a particular, important topic that didn’t have anything to do with the comedy. So I just broke down each episode, and the theme that they represented, and tried to apply that to modern-day America and how things are now. I just wanted to sort of use this to show people that it was something that was in tune with these kinds of issues way back then.

Q: I saw on your Twitter you posted a tweet by (Los Angeles Laker star) LeBron James about how he wanted to be the Fresh Prince when he was a kid. How does that reflect its impact then and now?

A: LeBron, it’s one of his favorite shows. I know the fatherhood episode really hit with him. There was another series of tweets he did maybe five years ago, breaking down the father episode. And at the time, this was 2015, 2016, it was his most-liked tweet ever. So I was like, ‘Wow, it’s not just because he’s famous.’ It just resonated with people.

Kobe Bryant, you know he idolized Will Smith, and kind of did the same thing – Philly to L.A. So you see the cultural impact of the show and how it affected people whether you’re a famous basketball player or just a regular person. It has a similar impact.

Q: We’ve talked about how ‘The Fresh Prince’ connected with Black viewers in the way it addressed Black culture. But it also connected Latino, Asian, White and other viewers. How did it appeal so broadly?

A: When I was talking with (show creator) Andy Borowitz, he was saying that in order for this show to be accepted, obviously Black viewers are going to like the show because of this new, fresh guy, Will Smith. Funny, charismatic, he’s cool. But in order for a show to be successful, you have to play well in the Midwest or the South or all these types of areas. And the majority of viewers with every single TV show are going to be White.

This was 1990, and they had to figure out how they could put out this show that was very authentic and true to African American culture but also had to be digestible for a broader audience. The producers, Andy and Susan (Borowitz), did a really good job of balancing the authenticity of the show while keeping it super broad.

Someone watches a sitcom, they don’t want it to be preachy, they want to laugh. If it’s funny, if it’s cool and you’re laughing, that’s the main thing. Then you kind of sneak in your heavier episodes and moments.

Chris Palmer book event When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9

Where: Barnes & Noble at the Grove at Farmers Market, 189 The Grove Dr., Los Angeles

How much: Tickets are $31.74 which includes a copy of the book.

For more: For more about the event go to