A visit with “Brothers”

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I’m no Hollywood insider. Nikki Finke does not rely on me for her tips and I don’t ever expect to attend the Vanity Fair Oscar after party. Nevertheless, there’s one thing I do know about show business: personality goes a very long way in “this town.” And so a few of us press people recently found ourselves the subject of a 50 megaton charm offensive by the four stars of the new Fox sitcom, “Brothers” — C.C.H. Pounder, Carl Weathers, and Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, and one extremely enthusiastic newbie, former New York Giants Defensive End and Fox Sports commentator Michael Strahan. I haven’t seen the show itself yet, which premieres tonight at 8 p.m./7 central, but the visit was certainly a performance I won’t be forgetting.

From long-time writer-producer Don Reo, whose credits run from “M*A*S*H” to “Blossom” and “Everybody Hates Chris,” “Brothers” stars Strahan as a former NFL star who winds up moving in to the house he bought for his parents when a financial reversal puts him in the metaphorical poorhouse. Since this is a sitcom, naturally there will be conflict with his brother, played by Mitchell, and the usual issues with parents Weathers and Pounder. One ace the show will be playing will be guest appearances by some fairly big names playing themselves, including former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, hip-hop star T-Pain, celubutante Kim Kardashian, and the great Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band. Also appearing will be well actress Tichina Arnold from “Chris” and, not playing himself, rap superstar Snoop Dog. Stand-up comic Lenny Clarke will be playing a neighbor on the show.

The show has been getting some additional attention for a perhaps less fortunate reason, in that while African-American actors are featured in more diverse roles these days, it’s the only current show on the networks schedules with a predominantly black cast. That’s largely a reversal of the trend of the past when the vast bulk of decent TV parts for nonwhite actors were on shows like “The Jeffersons” and “Good Times” as well as some of the later, more controversial shows aimed at black audiences like “Martin.”

The first to meet the press were Carl Weathers, perhaps still most famed as Rocky Balboa’s venerable opponent, Apollo Creed, and C.C.H. Pounder, who is taking a break from her usual intense, gravitas-laden, roles on shows like “The Shield” and seems to be enjoying every minute of it. In fact, I’m here to tell you that extremely skilled Ms. Pounder is downright bubbly in person. You heard me, “bubbly” — but in a very smart sort of way.

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The mood was light right off the bat with more than one of us entertainment journos confessing a complete lack of knowledge of sports and Ms. Pounder joining in. Weathers was the exception. “Well, I played for the Oakland Raiders so I hope I know a little bit about football.” And that somehow prompted an impersonation of Butterfly McQueen from “Gone with the Wind” from Pounder. I guess you had to be there.

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Cult TV A-Z: 26 Semi-Obscure Shows We’d Like To See On DVD

Three years ago, I did a piece for Bullz-Eye entitled “TV (No-)Shows On DVD,” where I took a look at the top 15 shows that the Bullz-Eye staff had wanted to see released onto home video in full-season or complete-series sets. From the series cited on that list, we’ve gotten “Newhart: The Complete First Season,” five seasons of “Family Ties,” seven seasons of “Beverly Hills 90210,” and “WKRP: The Complete First Season” (a laughable title, given how much was excised from the original episodes), with “The State: The Complete Series” scheduled for release on July 14. We’ve also been pleased to see that a couple of the kids shows we cited – “Groovie Goolies” and “Josie and the Pussycats” – have made it into stores, and we were beside ourselves at the emergence of a couple of our pipe-dream series, including “Quark,” “Fastlane,” and “Andy Richter Controls the Universe.”

Quark“? Really?

I’ve got to be honest with you: I loved that show with a passion when I was seven years old, but not in a million years would I have bet on that series ever coming out on DVD, and yet you can order a copy from Amazon at this very moment. That’s what led me to compile this A-to-Z list of shows that I’d like to be able to experience again…or, in some cases, for the first time. Yes, some of the series on this list are obscure, and it’s likely that almost none of them will ever make their way to home video, but I felt the same way about “Quark” three years ago, and…well, look what happened there. I’m sure you’ve got your own favorites, and I’d love to know what they are, so please feel free to leave your picks below. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my list…and the accompanying YouTube clips, too.

A. “AfterM*A*S*H” (1983 – 1985): Given that all of the seasons of the original “M*A*S*H” series have long since made it to DVD and proved to be a rousing success, it’s a little surprising that we haven’t seen the release of the post-war exploits of Sherman Potter, Max Klinger, and Father Francis Mulcahy. Few would claim that the show ever lived up to its predecessor, but there were only 31 episodes produced; you’d think that a complete-series set would be a no-brainer, since the diehards would surely snap it up, what with the additional guest appearances by Col. Flagg and Radar O’Reilly. Indeed, should such a collection ever come to pass, let’s hope someone also thinks to tack on the failed pilot for “W*A*L*T*E*R,” where Radar moves from Ottumwa, Iowa, to St. Louis, MO, in order to become a police officer. And, yes, I’m serious.

B. “BJ and the Bear” (1979 – 1981): Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I just can’t imagine that there’s not a connection between the fact that, in December 1978, a movie about a trucker with a monkey (“Every Which Way But Loose”) was a huge success, and in February 1979 this series – which is about a trucker with a monkey – premiered. Some may say that Greg Evigan’s most lasting pop culture footnote is co-starring with Paul Reiser on “My Two Dads,” but he’ll always be B.J. McKay to me.

C. “CPO Sharkey” (1976 – 1978): With the amount of appreciation Don Rickles has gotten in recent years, most notably with “Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project,” it’s hard to believe that no-one’s tried to make a buck or two by offering up the release of this series. Maybe it’s because Rickles’ comedy in the series wouldn’t exactly come across as politically correct nowadays. Sharkey’s company consists of an African-American, a Polish-American, a Jewish-American, an Italian-American, and a Hispanic-American, and…well, suffice to say that he probably didn’t need nearly as many hyphens within his preferred choice of terms for them. Frankly, though, I just want to see the episode which features a guest appearance by the Dickies!

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A Chat with “Harper’s Island” Victim #1

If you watched the premiere of CBS’s new murder-mystery series, “Harper’s Island,” either last night at 10 PM, where it won its timeslot against the stiff competition of NBC’s “Southland,” or online, where it was CBS.com’s biggest online premiere ever, then you already know who the show claimed as its first victim. But in case the episode is currently sitting on your DVR, waiting for an hour to free up on your busy schedule, we wouldn’t want to spoil their identity for you, so we’ll wait ’til after the jump to do any namedropping. We will, however, offer up a bit of an in-joke for those of you who are in the know:

This person may not be “sixteen, clumsy, and shy” at this point in their career, but the Smiths song in which those words are featured says a great deal about how their character was left at the end of the first episode of “Harper’s Island.”

Victim #1, would you sign in, please?

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