Categoria: TV

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.

‘Ted Lasso’ Review: Ted Has Lost The Spring In His Step — As Has Season 3 Of This Apple TV+ Comedy

Nina Metz | (TNS) Chicago Tribune

“Ted Lasso” began as a fish-out-of-water comedy, of the eternally upbeat Ted running headlong into the British skepticism of anyone invested in the Premier League soccer team — sorry, football club — known as AFC Richmond. With his can-do spirit winning over the doubters, Season 2 took a different tack, revealing a more complicated man behind the mustache and a deep well of sadness beneath his sunny facade. With Season 3, it’s too early to tell what the overall theme might be just yet; only four of the 12 episodes were provided to critics. But Ted has noticeably lost a spring in his step.

So has the series.

Some of that is due to the expanded episode length. The first season stuck pretty close to 30-minute episodes. That inched upward the following season. This time, episodes are in the 44-50 minute range — roughly the equivalent of two half-hour network comedies — and it makes you wonder why they didn’t just slice things up differently and make it a season of 24 half-hour episodes instead of a bloated 12. As it is, the pacing meanders and the show’s signature tonal assuredness feels off-balance.

I wonder if that matters, though, when we’re talking about a show filled with characters with whom you want to spend time. Creators Jason Sudeikis (who also stars as Ted), Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt (who plays Coach Beard) and Joe Kelly have laid enough groundwork to ensure that you’re invested in these people — from team owner Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) to PR maven Keeley (Juno Temple) to the perfectly grumpy Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) — even if the show itself has lost some of its comedic snap and focus.

From left, Brett Goldstein, Brendan Hunt and Jason Sudeikis in “Ted Lasso.” (Colin Hutton/Apple TV+/TNS) There’s a melancholic cloud hanging over Ted this season. No longer burdened with hiding his panic attacks, he’s an aimless man simply going through the motions. “I guess I do sometimes wonder what the heck I’m still doing here,” he says. “I mean, I know why I came. It’s the stickin’ around I can’t quite figure out.” The show doesn’t seem to know either, at least in the season’s early going. But the writers of the series are too smart to plant seeds they have no intention of growing.

This year, the sports punditry have picked Richmond to finish last. Underdogs yet again! But a star player from Italy suddenly becomes available and he might just improve their chances — as well as upset the team’s delicate balance.

Keeley’s unshakable brightness remains intact. She has her own PR company now but is struggling to run it the way that she wants. She and Roy are in splitsville, a breakup from which they are both quietly reeling.

Rebecca looks fabulous as always, all stiletto heels and perfectly tailored pencil skirts, but has regressed back to obsessing over her ex Rupert (Anthony Head), a snob of the worst kind who owns rival team West Ham. Rupert has lured away Nate (Nick Mohammed), Richmond’s kit man-turned-coaching ace, and that’s one of the more meaningful wrinkles of the season.

Journalist Trent Crimm (James Lance) is writing a book about Richmond and as a result, he’s been invited into the fold. And the players are as endearing and delightfully antic as ever, even if Sam Obisanya (Toheeb Jimoh) doesn’t have much to do besides being the object of Rebecca’s subtle but longing stares.

Juno Temple, left, and Hannah Waddingham in “Ted Lasso.” (Colin Hutton/Apple TV+/TNS) Coach Beard remains his usual oddball self, although I prefer the old contrast of Ted’s chatty optimism and Beard’s still-waters-run-deep quiet reticence of the first season. The show has shifted away from that and maybe it’s because Hunt wanted a bit more to do, character-wise. But it’s made Beard less of an enigma and that also disrupts some of the show’s original comedic framework.

If the writing doesn’t quite pop, there’s the occasional line that does stand out. Ted’s description of rugby: “If American football and sumo wrestling gave birth to a baby with huge muscular thighs all caked in mud.” Or this pearl of wisdom courtesy of Rebecca: “Crying is like an orgasm for the soul.”

“Ted Lasso” has gradually become more of a light drama than a comedy, but it’s such a pleasant one that it seems churlish to even point this out. In that dramatic vein, the show’s depiction of Nate is more compelling than I might have anticipated. The series has never been particularly interested in validating the man-child archetype, but it is interested in how insecurity can manifest itself into toxic behavior and Nate is the epitome of that.

His hair has turned almost entirely gray, as if to visually convey that he has shed what he perhaps viewed as the meek, simpering modesty of his youth and has now come into his own as a man. Except he doesn’t know how to be a man at all. Not really. He’s rude and arrogant but he’s still awkward deep down. There’s something so dark and complex about what they’re doing with this character. To combat his feelings of inadequacy, he overcompensates with a bravado that gives off all kinds of dangerous incel red flags. I’m fascinated to see how his arc is resolved. This may be the final season for the show and there’s a silent question dangling over all of the Nate scenes: Is “Ted Lasso” the kind of series to end on what would probably be a more realistic note, with Nate doubling down on his worst impulses? I suspect not, but it would be a radical choice.

“Brevity is nice but sometimes clarity is the true soul of wit,” someone says. Time will tell if the show’s third season follows suit.


“Ted Lasso” Season 3 — 2.5 stars (out of 4)

Rating: TV-MA

How to watch: Season 3 premiered Wednesday on Apple TV+


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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.

Super Bowl Ads Keep It Light By Using Nostalgia And Stars

By MAE ANDERSON | AP Business Writer

NEW YORK — Super Bowl ads are more than just breaks between plays during the biggest sporting event of the year: They offer a glimpse of the country’s zeitgeist, along with how major industries are faring.

This year, crypto ads and automakers are advertising less since those industries are facing problems. Major food brands like M&Ms, tech companies like Google, streaming services including Peacock and more alcohol brands have jumped in to take their place.

When Super Bowl LVII kicks off Sunday night with the Kansas City Chiefs taking on the Philadelphia Eagles in Glendale, Arizona, big marketers will be battling it out during the Fox broadcast as well.

Their prize? The chance to capture the attention of more than 100 million viewers expected to tune in for the big game. This price of entry is steep: some advertisers are paying more than $7 million for a 30-second spot, and that doesn’t include the cost of making the ad itself.

This photo provided by T-Mobile shows Zach Braff and Donald Faison, and John Travolta in scene from T-Mobile 2023 Super Bowl NFL football spot. Big name advertisers are paying as much as $7 million for a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023. (T-Mobile via AP)

This photo provided by Google shows Doja Cat in a scene from Google’s 2023 Super Bowl NFL football spot. Big name advertisers are paying as much as $7 million for a 30-second spot during the big game on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023. In order to get as much as a return on investment for those million, most advertisers release their ads in the days ahead of the big game to get the most publicity for their spots. (Google via AP)

This photo provided by Rakuten Rewards shows Alicia Silverstone in a scene from Rakuten Rewards 2023 Super Bowl NFL football spot. Big name advertisers are paying as much as $7 million for a 30-second spot during the big game on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023. In order to get as much as a return on investment for those million, most advertisers release their ads in the days ahead of the big game to get the most publicity for their spots. (Rakuten Rewards via AP)

This photo provided by Bud Light shows a scene from Bud Light 2023 Super Bowl NFL football spot. Big name advertisers are paying as much as $7 million for a 30-second spot during the big game on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023. In order to get as much as a return on investment for those million, most advertisers release their ads in the days ahead of the big game to get the most publicity for their spots. (Bud Light via AP)

This photo provided by shows Melissa McCarthy in scene from 2023 Super Bowl NFL football spot. Big name advertisers are paying as much as $7 million for a 30-second spot during the big game on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023. In order to get as much as a return on investment for those million, most advertisers release their ads in the days ahead of the big game to get the most publicity for their spots. ( via AP)

This photo provided by Squarespace shows Adam Driver in a scene from Squarespace 2023 Super Bowl NFL football spot. Big name advertisers are paying as much as $7 million for a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023. (Squarespace via AP)

This year, viewers can expect stars galore, light humor and catchy songs. For the most part, advertisers are steering away from somber messages or outrageous humor that might have worked to capture attention in decades past, but not now, when the country is still emerging from the pandemic, facing economic uncertainty, and the war continues in Ukraine.

“This year is a ‘don’t worry be happy’ year,” said Kelly O’Keefe, CEO of Brand Federation. “You name it, we’ve had it all and its put us in almost depressed situation. This year people are over it and advertisers are responding really well —there are traditional brands, traditional humor and its going to feel like just a big old group hug.”

WHO’S STARRING? Stars are commonplace in Super Bowl ads, but over the past few years ads have been more and more stuffed with celebrities. This year is no exception.

Popular celebrities offer goodwill to a brand and help it stand out from the 50-plus or so advertisers during the big game. But with so many stars in ads, it can be harder stand out in a crowded field.

“If you use celebrity in a smart way, it’s huge,” said Rich Weinstein, a professor at VCU Brandcenter. “But with all of these celebrities, are people going to remember who each celebrity is attached to?”

Big names making a splash this year: Melissa McCarthy sings a jingle for, Miles Teller dances to hold music for Bud Light and Adam Driver makes multiples of himself for Squarespace. Avocados From Mexico enlists Anna Faris for one of the few slightly risque ads this year, that envisions a present where everyone is naked — including the Statue of Liberty. And tennis star Serena Williams stars in two ads: one for Michelob Ultra and one for Remy Martin. It’s the second year in a row she has had a presence in more than one ad: last year in addition to a Michelob Ultra ad, she starred in an ad for smart home-gym maker Tonal. Even hip hop mogul P. Diddy appears in an ad, in which he tries to make a hit for Uber One.

One unusual star this year: Jesus. A group of Christian donors is paying top dollar for two ads that promote the “He Gets Us” religious message.

WHICH ADS ARE THROWBACKS? Another tactic that advertisers use to win over viewers is recreating beloved movies and TV shows. This year, online shopping site Rakuten is making a splash by enlisting Alicia Silverstone and Elisa Donovan to recreate a seen from 90s rom-com “Clueless.” Popcorners, a snack brand from Frito-Lay, brought back “Breaking Bad,” which first aired in 2008, with stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul.

Other advertisers trying to capitalize on favorite content from years past: T-Mobile’s ad shows John Travolta singing a T-Mobile home internet-themed version of “Summer Nights” from “Grease” with “Scrubs” stars Donald Faison and Zach Braff. And finally, Michelob Ultra evoked “Caddyshack” by setting its ad at the Bushwood Country Club that’s in the movie.

The nostalgia fits the mood of the times, Weinstein said.

“Consumers are looking for a good laugh and to feel comfortable,” Weinstein said. ”It’s less about living in the problems the world faces today and more about leaning into nostalgia and having fun.”

DO STUNTS WORK? Some first-time advertisers have decided to lean into stunts and gimmicks to make their first foray into the big game stand out. The most notable is Fan Duel, which hired four-time All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski to try to make a field goal live during an ad in the third quarter. If he makes it, anyone who places a Super Bowl bet of $5 or more on FanDuel will win a share of $10 million in free bets.

A blockchain-based gaming company, Limit Break, plans to run a QR code during the first commercial break of the game and will give away non-fungible tokens to people who scan it. And for its first national Super Bowl ad, Molson Coors asked people to bet on aspects of its commercial, like whether it will feature Miller Lite or Coors Light.

Kim Whitler, a professor at the Darden School of business, said stunts don’t always translate to positive sales results or brand recognition for brands.

“People want to do stunts because stunts get attention,” she said. “But at the end of the day, the ad has to communicate something that’s unique or better about the brand.”

WHICH ADS WILL BE GAME-TIME SURPRISES? While many advertisers have released ads ahead of the game, there are always some surprises. Dunkin’ Donuts is running an ad that reportedly will star Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, although the brand hasn’t confirmed that. Stellantis, which owns car brands Jeep and Ram, will run two undisclosed ads. And M&Ms has kept its advertising under wraps after declaring that its candy spokescharacters were on pause — they’re likely to make an appearance during the game, however.

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

Exploring The Growth Of MudTown Farms In KCET’s ’10 Days In Watts’

“10 Days in Watts,” a new series from PBS member station KCET, chronicles efforts by a community organization to open an agricultural park.

Produced by actor and filmmaker Raphael Sbarge, the series not only offers a glimpse of what went into finishing the park, MudTown Farms, but also introduces viewers to the community members working to make the community a better place to live.

The four-part series, which premieres on Feb. 12, centers on Tim Watkins, president of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee, as he and other community members work to finish the park; it’s a place they envision as an open space for community gardens, orchards, and reading areas – and ultimately a tool to enrich the lives of Watts’ residents.

An image from “10 Days in Watts” featuring the granddaughter of Tim Watkins, president of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee. (Courtesy of WLCAC / KCET)

Oliverio Ortiz of Mudtown Farms in a still image from “10 Days in Watts.” (Courtesy of WLCAC / KCET)

A still from “10 Days in Watts” featuring Janine Watkins (Courtesy of WLCAC / KCET)

“10 Days in Watts” director Raphael Sbarge. (Courtesy of WLCAC / KCET)

The series hits on some of the issues for Watts – including the fact that it’s a food desert, and that it has grappled with poverty, environmental issues and gang violence, but it also shines a light on people trying to make things better, including city volunteers, religious leaders, journalists and others.

Sbarge said he conducted roughly 40 interviews with people that Watkins introduced him to and said the recurring theme he encountered was a sense of Watts pride, a sense of resilience and a desire to make things better for future generations.

“The actual farm is both literal and a metaphor for this sense of renewal and going back to the earth and trying to go back to the essential things of food and water and air and really this idea of growth,” Sbarge said. “And that’s what the MudTown Farms, what it represents and what it actually is.”

Sbarge said he not only wanted to tell the story of the city’s residents, but he also wanted to tell the father-son story about Watkins, and his father, Ted.

Ted Watkins was a civil rights leader and labor activist who founded the WLCAC before his son took up that mantle and continued the organizational mission.

“This is an organization whose singular mission, which always inspired me, was simple, so simple and so profound, which was to improve the lives of the community of Watts and the surrounding neighborhoods,” Sbarge said.

The series culminates with the April 2022 opening of the farm after more than 12 years of work by Watkins to make it a reality. A lot has happened since then.

Now, nearly a year later, the park is fully operational. It distributes 17,000 pounds of produce to the community every two weeks from a network of partners in accordance with a $4.9 million dollar grant from California, and hosts classes and volunteer opportunities.

Though much of the produce comes from partners, a lot of it also comes from the farm itself.

“So, if we have pumpkins then the community gets pumpkins, if we’ve got greens, they get greens,” Watkins said. “We’ve got an orchard that’s very young but it’s starting to produce fruit already and so it becomes a place that you can get food.”

Watkins said the farm has planted grapevines and other edible plants along a fenceline so that when the farm is closed people can still walk up to the gate or to the fence and pick fruit.

It’s also become a spot for people in the community to rest and enjoy the outdoors.

“There’s exercising equipment; there’s other places where you just sit down and enjoy the peace and the quiet,” Watkins said. “And everybody that visits the farm remarks the same thing: That in the midst of what’s characterized as a violent place there’s the most remarkable peace – great solace,” he said. “You can seek respite there without being hurried along.”

MudTown farms has plans for future growth, with Watkins saying it has secured funding already to build a culinary arts facility,

“It’s really a state-of-the-art kitchen that will teach people how to plan, grow, gather and prepare food that can be stored,” he said, adding that the point of the kitchen will be to help the community grow enough food to feed itself.

Watkins said MudTown is also exploring the idea of potentially giving people in the community chickens for the purpose of helping to reduce community waste.

“And at a time when a dozen eggs cost $7 in L.A., a family can live off those chickens,” he said.

As Watkins continues his work at MudTown farms and other community projects on behalf of WLCAC, he said it’s not about filling his father’s shoes.

“This has been about extending the work that he’s done,” Watkins said. “And he taught us damn well long before there was a Nike. He told us, ‘if something needs to be done, just do it.’”

If you watch 

First two episodes: 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 12.

Final two episodes:  8:30 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 19

Encore: All four episodes will premiere back to back again starting at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, and can also be streamed on and