A day at the TV Land Awards

Cast Of The Love Boat

The TV Land Awards are not an “and the winner is…” kind of award show extravaganza. They’re more a series of honorary nods to the very popular shows of television’s illustrious, time-killing past with an emphasis on glitz. And so a bunch of us media types were invited to add to the hub-bub at the Sony Studios back lot on a breezy April, waiting on a red carpet for whichever celebrity was escorted to our assigned spots, with those from famed print and broadcast outlets obviously getting the first dibs. In the case of this lowly pixel stained wretch, I felt honored to chat with a few really terrific performers who, each in their own way, had made quite an impression on me personally.

That most definitely applies to Jane Leeves, the comedically gifted actress best known as Daphne, Niles Crane’s Manchester-born one-true-crush and eventual wife from “Frasier.” After confessing that I’d had a crush of my own on her since before her famed “Seinfeld” turn as “Marla, the Virgin” her response was typically blunt-yet-charming. “I’m not that old!”

“Neither am I!,” I blurted. (I later learned that Ms. Leeves birthday was the following day. My own birthday was two days prior. I guess age was on both of our minds.)

Aside from being no non-TV star herself, Ms. Leeves was there to promote her now show, coincidentally to be aired on TV Land in a rare foray into original programming, “Hot in Cleveland.” The show teams Leeves with Wendy Malick (“Just Shoot Me”) and Valerie Bertinelli (“One Day at a Time”). The three play “very L.A.” career women with show business-related backgrounds of various types. (Leeves plays an “eyebrow plucker to the stars.”) Feeling a bit aged out of the L.A. game, they attempt a trip to Paris, but instead find themselves marooned at the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They quickly realize that beautiful, middle-aged women who can refer to celebrities by their first name are actually in fairly short supply in the midwestern metropolis and they decide to stay and be big fish in a smaller glamor pond. Betty White costars as a neighbor, perhaps a wacky one. Cue the glib comparisons calling this a “younger ‘Golden Girls.'”

Nevertheless, fans of Ms. Leeves should rest assured that her character is no retread of Daphne Moon. “She’s focused her whole life on her career and has forgotten to have a life. She’s the sort of smart aleck, wise-ass of the group, so it’s very different.”

janeleeves2

Then, perhaps feeling a bit star-struck, I went with the fallback question I frequently steal from our esteemed Will Harris. What project has she done that she doesn’t feel has gotten enough attention.

“It’s my cooking, quite frankly.”

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Blu Tuesday: The Mel Brooks Collection

When “The Mel Brooks Collection” was released on DVD a few years ago, it was missing two key films. That oversight has been partly rectified with the inclusion of “Spaceballs” in the new Blu-ray box set, but “The Producers” is still surprisingly absent. I’m not exactly sure how you can even have a Mel Brooks collection without his directorial debut (especially when a movie he didn’t even direct made the final cut), but if you can get past its absence, this is still a great compilation for fans of his movies.

There are nine films in all, including “The Twelve Chairs,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein,” “Silent Movie,” “High Anxiety,” “History of the World: Part I,” “To Be or Not to Be,” “Spaceballs,” and “Robin Hood: Men in Tights.” Each film comes with a 1080p video transfer and, with the exception of “Blazing Saddles,” a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. That’s probably better than they deserve, but it really breathes new life into the films and will hopefully earn them a new generation of fans.

Sadly, the bonus features are a pretty hit-and-miss affair, as most of them have appeared in some shape or form before. Only “High Anxiety” gets the Blu-ray exclusive “Am I Very Nervous Test,” which gauges your anxiety levels by asking you a series of psych questions during the course of the film. There are also trivia tracks for five of the nine films, and if you still haven’t seen the “Inside the Lab” picture-in-picture video track from the “Young Frankenstein” standalone Blu-ray release, it’s a cool retrospective on the making of the film that fans will definitely want to check out.

Oddly enough, the real highlight of the set is a 120-page hardcover book detailing the writer/director/actor’s remarkable career that is filled with hundreds of movie stills and behind-the-scenes photos. After all, most fans probably already own their favorite movies on some format (including a few Blu-rays), and while the new high-def transfers are certainly a nice treat, this will really make their day. Whether or not it’s worth buying the entire collection for depends on just how big of a fan you are, but at less than $100 for nine movies, it’s an amazing deal no matter how you look at it.

  

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