Saturday, August 6, 2016

Summer TV Secrets

The Olympics are destined to be the top-rated program on television this summer. Big ratings. Lots of NBC crowing about the success of Rio. Get ready for it.

I won't be watching.

I'm not anti-American. I hope our guys and gals bring home bags of Gold, Silver and Bronze. I find most summer Olympic events to be a lot of hype - you blink, and they're over.

Unlike the Winter Olympics, I can see how much better shape all of these athletes are in than yours truly. That's depressing. I'd rather watch baseball, or even pre-season football.

But forget about my Olympic viewing preferences, here's a little secret about summer TV success - there's hardly anything else on worth watching, so it's not very difficult to be number one (on network television anyway).

I don't get this. We all watch TV year round, but most networks simply punt for the summer. The viewership IS there. People WILL come.

This was poised to change with the summer success of Survivor back in 2000 with roughly 50 million people tuning in for the Richard Hatch finale. No one watches during the summer, huh?

The network television landscape 16 years later? Find a reality or competition show that clicks (AGT, Bachelorette, etc.) and that's that. 40 million of us have decided to do something else with our time.

If anyone was actually working at a network during these months, I'd ask why they don't use the summer to air quirkier pilots or other shows they've invested in?

I don't mean burning off shows - I mean serving up some quality stuff that someone there once believed in. There's a good chance brilliant higher-ups might have misjudged one or two of those programs. Why not take some chances?

Well if you're not all caught up in Rio, there's still cable, Netflix and Amazon.

Here are my Top Five summer programs:

The Night Of (HBO)

When HBO gets it right, their dramas are simply the best. There are so many layers to this NYC murder mystery explored in each episode. It's slow paced, gritty, and truly fascinating. I continue to look forward to Sundays at 9 on HBO.

Mr. Robot (USA)

My favorite new show of 2015 picked up right where it left off. You must pay attention to this show. It's trippy, smart, and has characters who continue to grow multi-dimensionally. It's another slow-paced show that feels like a movie. Fine by me. Can't wait to see how things turn out for Elliot (don't hack this post).

Stranger Things (Netflix)

Believe the hype. I'm not going to spoil a thing here. Nice job, Duffer Brothers. Binge and enjoy.

All Or Nothing (Amazon)

I thought I knew what happened to the Arizona Cardinals last football season. I love Hard Knocks, and will watch anything NFL Films puts out. This show is a football fan's dream, even if you're not a Cards fan (here we go, Steelers!).

unREAL (Lifetime)

I don't watch this, but my oldest daughter Rachel swears by it. A behind-the-scenes look at a fictional dating show (as if network ones are actually real) is biting satire. I'm no reality show fan, but I do value my daughter's TV expertise.

The networks might change their summer programming minds one day, but it'll be too late. They have no one to blame but themselves.

Hope you're having a good summer. Thanks for reading.

P.S. - Following the rousing success of the Ryan Fitzpatrick Beard Challenge that Chris Carlin and I did on Loud Mouths (not shaving for 44 days), I've decided to bring back the beard. Very excited not to be shaving, but it won't be 44 days this time.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Television Prioritization

I need more TV time.

My workday begins with Howard, then Wrap Up with Gary, and concludes talking sports with Chris Carlin on Loud Mouths on SNY.

I leave my house before 5am and walk back in the door after 8pm. (I know, "waah")

I'm lucky to do what I do for a living. But it comes at a price.

I miss the early evening hours with Debbie, but my wife loves how I'm living the dream. Now I get home, eat dinner, watch TV for maybe an hour, and then hit the sack. Exciting, no?

If you're reading this, you know how much I love TV. My schedule is crunched, and catching the Penguins on their quest for the Cup makes it even tighter (Go Pens!).

I've had to prioritize. So here's what has made my recent TV cut:

Game Of Thrones (HBO)

Easily the best show on TV. Every episode has been better than the next. Howard and Robin say they're lost, well they need to pay closer attention. If not, just leave Westeros. My only disappointment is the map not changing all that much. Every subplot has gotten more intense, and thankfully they've moved away from Dorne. I catch this one live every Sunday at 9pm. If you're not watching - shame!

Silicon Valley (HBO)

I record this and watch it later in the week. Love that it's only 30 minutes, and man is it funny. The geek in me loves following the troubled saga of Pied Piper. It was the most improved comedy last season, and this season has not let up at all.

Veep (HBO)

Another half-hour show I record and watch during the week. It's slipped a bit, but still worth some belly laughs. Julia is excellent, and the supporting cast is arguably the best on TV. And just when you think they've gone too far, our "real" election reminds you that they haven't gone far enough.

Last Week Tonight (HBO)

I've professed my love for this show before. Always biting, informative and a quick half hour (see a pattern here?). John Oliver never lets up or varies his format. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I save this one for the weekend.

The Americans (FX)

Oh the places Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys will go. The disguises are still comical, but this show isn't afraid to take out anyone at anytime. The intensity has racheted up since Paige learned about what her parents "really" do and confiding in Pastor Tim. The 80's references are always a plus. This is a "catch up when I can" show.

Orphan Black (BBC America)

Didn't love last season, and the new season is building up on my DVR. I will get back to Tatiana, who deserves an Emmy for every season she does. Last season's male clones definitely slowed me down.

That's all I have room for. Before you tell me what I'm missing, some goodbyes:

The Good Wife (CBS)

I choose to remember the Florrick saga from its earlier spectacular seasons. This last one was a rush to wrap up everything, and it left out all of the little things that made The Good Wife work. Great to see Will at the end, but it reminded me of how weak Alicia's other romances were. The workplace dynamic desperately needed Kalinda, or more Cary, or something besides Diane's struggle. I loved this show early on, but when Will was gone and Kalinda soon followed, they might have had the right idea.

Banshee (Cinemax)

The best part of Banshee is how it never pretended to be anything more than what it was. Lots of action, violence, sex and a very slight degree of plausibility. Loved the opening credits and the bonus scenes at the end of each episode. Few shows had better fight scenes. Lucas Hood and crew made sure each trip to Banshee was going to be entertaining. I'll miss that Pennsylvania town.

I'm out of time to write. Back to work. Let me know what TV I'm missing!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Loud Mouths - Week 1

I've got one week in the books as co-host of Loud Mouths on SNY. We tackled the Mets starters, Jets QBs, Melo and Lebron, Letterman's beard, White Castle and so much more.

Behold the Brad Pitt and George Clooney of sports talk.




Chris Carlin is great to work with, and Sam Pepper is a fine producer in spite of him cutting anything having to do with the University of Michigan out of the broadcast.

There are other videos to peruse at SNY - just scroll down to Loud Mouths.

Thanks for tuning in!




Sunday, March 20, 2016

Loud Mouths

Monday, March 21st will be my first night as permanent co-host of Loud Mouths with Chris Carlin. The two of us will be talking sports weeknights at 530pm on SNY.

Here's Bob Raissman's Daily News story (after the latest on A-Rod) about my new gig.

Two guys talking sports who shouldn't be wearing suits.

I had a great time with Chris on previous Loud Mouths guest spots. The man knows his sports and certainly has his opinions, and our conversations feel like we're sitting at a sports bar giving our two cents. I can't wait to do this every night of the week.

Howard in the morning. Carlin in the evening. I'm a lucky guy.

Hope you can tune in (check your TV provider for channel info; it's channel 60 on Cablevision).

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Oscar, Oscar, Oscar

Right after tonight's Michigan/Wisconsin hoops game (Go Blue!), the Heins will tune in for the Academy Awards, which aren't exactly bursting with excitement this year.

Can't wait to see what Chris Rock is going to do, but after that, it's all about the picks.

Last year, I nailed 'em all except for Best Picture, where I flip-flopped from Birdman to Boyhood. Still stings. This year, I think I learned my lesson.

For the "big six" categories:

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jennifer Jason Leigh - The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara - Carol
Rachel McAdams - Spotlight
Alicia Vikander - The Danish GIrl
Kate Winslet - Steve Jobs

Might as well start with the toughest category of the night. JJL is always great, Rooney Mara held her own with Cate, Rachel McAdams was also pretty good in True Detective, and Kate Winslet can do anything. Excellent performances all around, but Vikander is the one who shines above all others (she really stands out in Ex Machina). I thought The Danish Girl dragged quite a bit (pun not intended), but Vikander more than held her own during Eddie Redmayne's transformation. She will punch the Oscar winning ticket that I'm sure Eddie expected. If Winslet takes this, it could be an interesting night.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale - The Big Short
Tom Hardy - The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo - Spotlight
Mark Rylance - Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone - Creed

Rocky...Rocky...Rocky.  This is Hollywood, people. Bale was quirky and fabulous as always, Hardy continues to be underrated and not appreciated, Ruffalo was stellar, and Rylance gets lost in the shuffle. This category goes the sappy route, and Stallone's story is too good for Oscar to pass up. And by the way, he is VERY good in Creed.

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett - Carol
Brie Larson - Room
Jennifer Lawrence - Joy
Charlotte Rampling - 45 Years
Saorise Ronan - Brooklyn

Very strange when Jennifer Lawrence comes up fifth in an Oscar category, but she does here. Charlotte Rampling is a stellar actress, but she's not winning this Oscar. Cate Blanchett is too good these days - quickly drifting into Streep territory. Saorise just picked the wrong year - this one belongs to Brie. And how can the kid in Room not be nominated? That's just wrong.

BEST ACTOR
Bryan Cranston - Trumbo
Matt Damon - The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Revenant
Michael Fassbender - Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne - The Danish Girl

Matt Damon is always solid and The Martian is entertaining, but not Academy Award worthy. I love Bryan Cranston, and he's great in Trumbo. He's got Emmys. Eddie Redmayne got his win - not gonna happen again this year. Fassbender will get one down the road, but his Steve Jobs felt like an Emmy winner, not an Oscar winner. Leo is too tempting for Hollywood to resist, and he's paid his dues with other projects. Slam dunk.

BEST DIRECTOR
Tom McCarthy - Spotlight
Adam McKay - The Big Short
George Miller - Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu - The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson - Room

This one kills me. McCarthy and Abrahamson have much to be proud of, but they are 4th and 5th in this horse race. McKay did a great job making financial material interesting and deserves kudos, but not an Oscar. George Miller DESERVES this Oscar. All of those practical effects in Mad Max: Fury Road are nothing short of amazing. He's in his 70's. Hollywood should eat this up. But they won't. I think Leo fever plus Inarritu's recent success and acclaim will bring him a second Oscar. I wouldn't mind being wrong here.

BEST PICTURE
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight

Let's narrow this down quickly. Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, The Martian, Room - all good films, thanks for playing. The Big Short tells one heck of a tale, but it ain't Best Picture. Mad Max: Fury Road was an incredible ride, but there's no way it's taking home the big prize.

That leaves The Revenant and Spotlight. The Revenant is getting its acting and directing Oscars, and it doesn't need (or deserve) this one. I know Hollywood loves this movie and it's got so much buzz that it's tough to resist, but I'm holding back.

Spotlight had it all - excellent screenplay, direction and very fine acting. Plus a story that could have been portrayed in a completely different way, and it wasn't. It is the best movie I saw this past year, and I think it will win Best Picture. I also thought Boyhood would carry the day last year.

My Big Six:
Vikander
Stallone
Larson
DiCaprio
Inarritu
Spotlight

Remember, the best man/woman/film doesn't always win (or even get nominated). This is Hollywood after all.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Fast Food Maniac update

I'm behind on my TV, but I've got a good reason.

Fast Food Maniac was released on Groundhog Day, and folks seem to be enjoying what I wrote, which is nice.

In printed form
I did some book signings at WORD in Jersey City, Barnes & Noble in Tribeca, and Book Revue in Huntington, Long Island. It was nice to see that bookstores do still exist, and I should do a better job supporting the indies. Thanks to everyone who came out in the cold metro NY area weather.

Looking presidential at Book Revue.

Robin mentioned my book on the air right before the show took a vacation break, but I have a feeling now that my audio book is out, that won't be the last time you'll hear about it on the Stern show.

Fast Food Maniac has been a #1 New Release in a bunch of Amazon categories including Humor: Cooking and Travel Dining Reference. There are a ridiculous amount of categories on Amazon. Amazon also chose the book as one of the Best of the Month for February, which is very cool.

I also made the cover of Explore LI in Newsday (Long Island's newspaper) and Men's Journal wrote a nice piece. There are some more articles coming that I look forward to reading.

Not the most flattering shot, but gets the job done.
So what's next? I'm really not sure. I will be returning to MLB Now this Friday and will work fast food into a conversation about Spring Training.

I don't have any other signings scheduled, but if I take a trip and there's enough interest, I'm happy to create one on the fly. Hoping for Pittsburgh, Ann Arbor, or other towns that I frequent and love.

For those who have been generous enough to buy the book, thank you. For those who haven't, what are you waiting for? If you would like to purchase a signed copy, please email me at fastfoodmaniac@gmail.com and we'll get it done.

I'm anxious to hear what you thought of Fast Food Maniac. It was fun writing those reviews and making all those lists. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

TV Thoughts - 1/24/16

If it snows two feet in one day, a lot of television gets watched.

WHAT I'M WATCHING

Billions (SHOWTIME)

It seems that everyone working on this show has received or been nominated for an Emmy. With that kind of pedigree, expectations are set super high.

Mix in financial market manipulation in Manhattan, and you've got a lot of explaining to do right from the get go. There's no Margot Robbie in a bathtub, but at least Maggie Siff sports some high-heeled boots.

I've been a fan of the writing of Brian Koppelman and David Levien since Rounders in the late 90's. They're edgy, smart and you know a twist is always coming.

As for the acting, I would watch Giamatti and Lewis read a NYC deli menu (which would actually work on this show). I wonder how Tara left Jax in Charming and ended up with the Manhattan DA plus the gal from Children's Hospital is married to Axe, but I can get past that.

I'm two episodes in and enjoyed the second ep more than the first. The chess board has been set. The show is too smart for its own good at times and relies on cliches that aren't necessary. Just give me Giamatti and Lewis trying to outsmart each other with the DA's wife caught in the middle. The other characters are colorful, but more screen time for them means less for the big three.

Justice department versus hedge fund king with Manhattan as the backdrop - stay focused and I'm on board for Billions.

Angie Tribeca (TBS)

The Naked Gun. Sledge Hammer! I've always been a fan of police satire, the dumber the better.

On the recommendation of my good friend JD Harmeyer who shares my love for Python/Zucker Brothers humor, I checked out this new TBS comedy created by Steve Carrell and his wife Nancy.

This is no Naked Gun, but it is funny. And stupid. A lot of the gags are hit or miss, but it's non-stop absurdist jokes.

Rashida Jones does a fine job in the lead role. Other characters have silly names and are not as funny, with the exception of the canine partner of one of the detectives. That dog is a star.

There are tons of special guest stars and cameos, and I love the spirit of the show. Angie Tribeca is no Frank Drebin, but she holds her own in this first go-round.

WHAT I WATCHED WHILE TWO FEET OF SNOW CAME DOWN

History of the Eagles (SHOWTIME)

RIP Glenn Frey. After watching this documentary a second time, I still can't believe he's gone.

Love or hate the Eagles, this is one excellent rock doc. The footage, interviews and candidness are all there for you to marvel at.

Glenn Frey calling the shots. Don Henley rolling right along. Bernie Leadon wanting to stay mellow. Randy Meisner not wanting to hit that high note. Don Felder getting bounced. Joe Walsh getting sober. Tim B getting his dream job, going on hiatus, then living the dream. And Irving Azoff taking no prisoners.

Oh...and the number one selling album of the century.

And of course it's in two parts - it wouldn't be the Eagles if it wasn't.

The Godfather Saga (HBO)

I stumbled upon Don Corleone multiple times during the week, and no matter what point I entered, I couldn't change the channel.

I wondered if I had seen some of the deleted scenes before, but it really didn't matter. The Corleone family is impossible to turn away from.

And thankfully Godfather III is nowhere near this 7 hour masterpiece. It's must-watch TV. I didn't even realize it was snowing outside.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST

I watched Michigan beat Nebraska in Lincoln and the Penguins top the Canucks at home. That's a good sports day for the Hein house.

It's very strange having a Sunday without the Steelers playing. If only they could have stayed healthy. I like the Pats big and the Panthers not so big today.

Only two weeks until my new book, Fast Food Maniac, becomes available. What a great way to celebrate Groundhog Day.

I'll be doing some book signings in the metro New York area. Come by and say hi. I'm working with DQ and some other places on doing some events. More when things become official.

Word is out to late-night and daytime talk shows, so we'll see who wants me to drop by.

As always, let me know if there's anything out there I should be watching!

Jon