Downton Abbey Wine Collection

Fans of the hit PBS show “Downton Abbey” can now enjoy wines similar to those poured by Mr. Carson for Lord and Lady Grantham. The Downton Abbey Wine Collection features two blends from the Bordeaux region of France: a “Blanc” white wine and a “Claret” red wine. Downton Abbey Blanc is a light and crisp white blend, while Downton Abbey Claret is medium-bodied red with bright fruit and a silky finish. We tried both of them and were impressed, particularly when you consider the reasonable price of $14.99 per 750-ml bottle.

Both blends use the same vines, soil and region used to produce the wines from the Downton Era and are made by the Grands Vins de Bordeaux, a family-owned winery with more than 130 years of winemaking experience in the prized Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux, France. The wines are available in select stores and also at Wine.com and DowntonAbbeyWine.com.

If you know someone who is a fan of this excellent period drama, then the Downton Abbey Wine Collection will make for a very memorable gift. “Downton Abbey” returns to PBS for Season 4 in January 2014 so the timing is perfect for a gift this holiday season.

Downton Abbey Wines

  

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The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Lorenzo Lamas (“The Joe Schmo Show”)

For someone who’s best known for his work in prime-time soap operas (“Falcon Crest”), syndicated action series (“Renegade”), and straight-to-video shoot-’em-ups (including the “Snake Eater” trilogy, among many, many others), Lorenzo Lamas is a pretty funny fellow, and he gets a chance to show that side of himself – along with several other sides, to say the least – when “The Joe Schmo Show” returns to Spike TV tonight at 10 PM / 9 CST. Lamas took some time to chat with Bullz-Eye before and after the show’s panel at the winter Television Critics Association press tour, and he talked about how much fun he’s having showing off his comedy chops while also taking time to delve into his life and times up to this point.

Bullz-Eye: Well, I was able to watch the first two episodes…

Lorenzo Lamas: Oh, yeah…? How did you like it? What did you think about it?

BE: It was great. I liked the first season, but I never actually saw the second season. But this looks like it’s right on par with what the show’s been like before.

LL: From what I gather, the guy they cast for this “Schmo” is a lot different than the first guy. And what I’m gathering is that…the first guy was just a really great, friendly, open, more innocent kind of guy. Like, a real Joe Schmo, y’know? [Laughs.] Whereas I found Chase to be a very analytical, intelligent, not quite as naïve guy.

BE: Yeah, he seemed like a sweetheart, but he also seemed like a guy who really wanted to win, too.

LL: Yeah, really competitive. Absolutely.

BE: So how did you find your way into this? Did they approach you, or was there a casting call and you heard about it?

LL: You know, John Stevens and I had done something last year together – a pilot for an action show, a hybrid that was part reality, part scripted – so we met on that project, and then when Sharon Levy talked to John about doing this version of “Joe Schmo,” John says, “Well, what do you think of Lorenzo Lamas?” So he kind of brought it up to Sharon, and then Sharon asked, “Does Lorenzo do comedy?” Because the whole idea is this 10-day-long improv where everyone’s in character and they have to really stay in character. So John called me and said, “I’ve got something that’s kind of out of left field, but…would you be interested in doing this show?” And then he kind of formulated a pitch to me. And I had just finished doing “The Eric Andre Show,” and I loved it. That was improv, too. I did one episode, then they brought me back and did another episode. I’d just finished doing it, so I said, “You know, John, I think this might be meant to be…” Because prior to that, I’d also done a couple of episodes of the Nickelodeon show “Big Time Rush.” I played Doc Hollywood, who’s a bigger-than-life character, almost slapstick comedy. And I’ve been enjoying that. I’ve been enjoying the change, wrapping my mind around just…not doing action, y’know?

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The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Chris Elliott (“Eagleheart”)

Chris Elliott has comedy in his genes, courtesy of his father, Bob Elliott (of the legendary comedy team Bob & Ray), and he’s passed his abilities on to the next generation, as his daughter Abby Elliott proves week after week on “Saturday Night Live,” but, geez, enough about his dad and kid already. Surely it’s time to shine the spotlight solely on Chris Elliott himself, who first won our hearts with his decidedly unique characters on “Late Night with David Letterman,” completely blew the minds of a generation of moviegoers with his film “Cabin Boy,” and has since gone on to appear in everything from “Manhunter” to “Everybody Loves Raymond.” On April 12, his current endeavor – Adult Swim’s “Eagleheart” – returns for its second season, just over a week after the DVD release of Season One, which hit stores on Tuesday. Bullz-Eye chatted with him…okay, fine, we geeked out…about the more eccentric side of his comedy, including his seminal TV series “Get A Life,” which, as you may have read elsewhere first (although it came from this interview), is coming to DVD in a complete-series set at long last.

Bullz-Eye: First off, let me just tell you what a pleasure it is to talk to you. I’ve been a fan for many years.

Chris Elliott: Oh, well, thank you. I just don’t hear that enough. [Laughs.]

BE: In my case, it’s no exaggeration: when I was in high school, I sent off for tickets for “Late Night with David Letterman.” Granted, I had graduated by the time I actually got them, but, hey, at least I got them.

CE: Oh, my gosh. That’s pretty funny. So did you actually wait four years for tickets?

BE: No, but it was more than a year: I sent them off during my senior year, and it was well after graduation when they finally arrived.

CE: Wow, that’s pretty amazing. But it proves that you were a hardcore fan. Do you remember who was on the show when you went?

BE: Absolutely: it was Jane Pauley and Bruno Kirby. I also remember that they did Shoe Removal Races that night, with a podiatrist squaring off against a shoe salesman.

CE: Ah, yes, that was an excellent episode. [Laughs.]

BE: You were actually just on Letterman’s show a few nights ago. It sounded like you may have taken a bit of flour into your lungs.

CE: [Laughs.] I started to smell like cookies after I was under the lights for a little while. But I thought it came off all right. It’s always fun to go back there, and I hate coming back on there as myself in any form. This interview is okay because I can’t see you. [Laughs.] But I don’t like coming on and just talking as myself, so I always come on with something.

BE: The “Downton Abbey” thing was great, too.

CE: Yeah, I thought that came out great.

BE: So let’s talk “Eagleheart.” One of the most surprising things about the series, at least to me, is that you don’t actually get a writing credit on the show. Not that you don’t have some input, given that you’re a consulting producer, but…

CE: I’d say these guys have my voice down. I knew that when I met with them. They were huge fans of mine, and, honestly, I didn’t want the extra work. [Laughs.] And at the same time, y’know, they changed the pilot quite a bit to suit me, and what I do – and Adam Resnick does this, also – is sort of take a pass at the scripts when they’re done with them and change a couple of jokes here and there, and if something’s not quite in my voice, I just kind of paraphrase what I would be saying, and that sort of thing. I’m sort of at the point in my career where writers that are working in the business sort of grew up knowing about me. At least the ones that are fans of mine, anyway. And they’re really capable of writing for me. It wasn’t always that case. Early on in my career, it was pretty much Adam and me just trying to establish this voice.

BE: Of course, it makes me wonder if people sometimes come to you with something utterly off the wall, saying, “Well, ‘Cabin Boy’ was so nuts that I figured you’d be into this.’

CE: Yeah, I think I get that a lot. It’s interesting: some people put anything weird in the “weird” category and think, “Oh, Chris’ll do that because it’s so weird.” But you’re right. Certain people, like yourself, get why certain things are funny-weird as opposed to just being strange. That’s a different breed. I think I do get lumped in a lot with “he’s just off the wall, he’s crazy.”

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