R.I.P. Robert F. Chew, aka Proposition Joe from ‘The Wire’

One of the best actors from the best television drama of all time has passed away. Robert F. Chew played Proposition Joe on “The Wire,” and in the scene above he gets a threatening visit from Omar.

Check out this excellent obituary from the Baltimore Sun.

Robert F. Chew, a 52-year-old Baltimore actor and teacher who portrayed one of television’s most unforgettable characters as Proposition Joe on HBO’s “The Wire,” died Thursday of apparent heart failure in his sleep at his home in Northeast Baltimore, according to Clarice Chews, his sister.

Mr. Chew, who appeared in “Homicide” and “the Corner,” as well as “The Wire,” also taught and mentored child and young adult actors at Baltimore’s Arena Players, a troupe he stayed with as his television career blossomed through his work with David Simon. Through the Areana Players Youth Theatre, he brought new talent to the attention of casting directors and coached the team of young actors who played students in the Baltimore City School system in Season 4 of “The Wire.”

“Robert was not only an exceptional actor, he was an essential part of the film and theater community in Baltimore,” David Simon, creator of ‘The Wire’ said in an email Friday. “He could have gone to New York or Los Angeles and commanded a lot more work, but he loved the city as his home and chose to remain here working. He understood so much about his craft that it was no surprise at all that we would go to him to coach our young actors in season four. He was the conduit through which they internalized their remarkable performances.”

Chew was an absolute master with dialogue and facial expressions, and it’s fascinating to learn in this article that many of the kids who starred in Season 4 of “The Wire” were his students. If you haven’t seen this show, get the DVD or download it now. You won’t regret it.

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Sunday Reading: Gifts, Prometheus and lots of TV

Father’s Day is just a week away, so this week we focused quite a bit on our Father’s Day Gift Guide. It’s one of the easier holidays to shop for as we mostly consider stuff we like as well, so there’s plenty of booze and gear, and Matt Byrd gave us his 10 best video games for dad. Of course there’s plenty more going on, so here’s some good stuff from the past week:

- In his review of “Prometheus,” David Medsker called it “the most gorgeous space monster movie you’ve ever seen” and he also gave it 3.5 stars.

- Meanwhile, “The Avengers” has had an incredible run at the box office. Read our review if you haven’t seen it yet.

- In the TV world, “Game of Thrones” wrapped up its second season on HBO. Read about the last episode in Nate Kreichman’s blog and you can catch up on all of our reviews and cast interviews on our new Game of Thrones Fan Hub. As this show is ending, “True Blood” returns for a new season which we hope is better than the last one . . .

- We also have to admit we have a thing for Callie Thorne (see her below). You’ll remember her as McNulty’s ex-wife in “The Wire,” but she really caught our attention as one of Hank Moody’s casual hookups in Season 4 of “Californication.” Now she stars in “Necessary Roughness” and Will Harris got to speak with her and other cast members as they start season two.

- We traveled to Nashville to test drive the all-new Nissan Altima, which should be a real winner in its category, and we also reviewed the 2013 Chevy Malibu Eco. This week we’ll be heading out to Utah to drive the new Ford Mustang on a track!

- In a much more serious article, Mike Furci gives some great advice on how to avoid cardiovascular disease.

- In a new playlist feature, Fitz & the Tantrums drummer John Wicks’ lists his favorite songs of the moment.

- Ever have a Corpse Reviver #2? Check out Bob Westal’s latest Drink of the Week selection.

Callie Thorne in “Necessary Roughness”

  

The Light from the TV Shows: On the Set with “Necessary Roughness”

Raise your hand if, when you first heard about the USA Network series “Necessary Roughness,” the first thought that came to mind was this 1991 film:

Uh-huh. That’s exactly what I thought.

Oh, fine, so I couldn’t see how many people raised their hands. I still refuse to believe that I’m the only one whose mind went down that road, though I admit that it’s possible I was the only one who was also thinking, “You might, I might actually watch that…” Not that it was a great film, but it had a pretty interesting cast (Scott Bakula, Jason Bateman, Hector Elizondo, Robert Loggia, Larry Miller, Sinbad, and Rob Schneider), and the college-football-team premise is one that would be easy to pick up 20 years after the fact.

But, no, USA’s “Necessary Roughness,” while also about football, instead revolves around Dr. Dani Santino (Callie Thorne), a divorcée who reluctantly takes on a job as a therapist for a pro football team – the fictional New York Hawks – in an effort to keep herself and her children  afloat financially. After settling into the gig, Dani’s success with the Hawks combined with a significantly increased profile lead to a sudden influx of new and equally high-profile patients. In addition to Thorne, who you may remember from her roles on “Homicide: Life on the Street,” “The Wire,” and “Rescue Me,” the show has several other familiar faces within its cast, including Marc Blucas (Riley Finn on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) as Hawks athletic trainer Matthew Donnally, Scott Cohen (Max Medina on “Gilmore Girls”) as Nico Careles, the team’s ex-SEAL head of security, and Mehcad Brooks (Eggs on “True Blood”) as T.K. King, the Hawks’ star player.

What’s that? You say you’re intrigued and want to know what you missed during the show’s first season? Wow, good thing USA thought ahead and put together the perfect collection of clips to summarize the first 12 episodes for you…

A few weeks back, USA was kind enough to offer me the opportunity to head down to the “Necessary Roughness” set, tour the facility, and meet with Thorne, Cohen, and Brooks. Each of these fine folks sat down with myself and my fellow TV critics, bloggers, and interviewers (I’m just trying to cover all the bases to avoid missing out on someone’s favorite term for themselves) and chatted about their work on the series thus far and what viewers can expect from the second season of “Necessary Roughness,” which premieres – yikes! – tonight at 10 PM.

That’s fine, go ahead and run set your DVR now, so you don’t forget. But rush right back, because the highlights of those on-set conversations are coming right up…

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The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Eric Ladin (“The Killing”)

If you’ve been trying to figure out why Eric Ladin, who plays Jamie Wright on AMC’s “The Killing,” looks familiar to you but can’t quite pin down why, maybe this will help: in addition to being one of the cast members of HBO’s critically acclaimed miniseries “Generation Kill,” he’s also turned up in a few episodes of “Mad Men,” playing Betty Draper’s brother. Now, however, he’s back to playing Darren Richmond’s campaign manager on “The Killing,” which – as you may already be aware – returned to AMC for its second season on Sunday night. Unfortunately, the ratings weren’t necessarily what you’d call stellar, but Ladin’s enthusiasm about what viewers can expect during the course of the series’ sophomore year may prove infectious.

Bullz-Eye: So are you psyched that “The Killing” is finally back?

Eric Ladin: I am. It’s about time! I think everybody is.

BE: Of course, you realize that a lot of people are really just desperate at this point to find out definitively who killed Rosie Larson.

EL: I do realize that, yeah. [Laughs.] I’ve been reminded of that quite a lot over the last nine months.

BE: Were you shocked at the outcry about the lack of resolution in the season finale?

EL: I was, a little bit. I knew that there would definitely be some people that were upset, but I didn’t foresee the hatred and…just the pure venom that was spat towards our writers. [Laughs.] Yeah, I was a little shocked by that.

BE: At least there was a small but somewhat vocal group that was reminded people that we didn’t find out who killed Laura Palmer until the second season of “Twin Peaks.”

EL: That’s correct. And if you ask David Lynch, he’ll probably tell you that the biggest mistake he made was telling people who killed her at all. I think he said – this was in an interview I read – that if he was able to do it again, he’d never tell who the killer was. So, yeah, I don’t believe that there was anywhere that said that you were guaranteed to find the killer in Season 1, but by the same token, I think that AMC’s PR probably could’ve handled it a speck differently. With that said, as a TV viewer, I would not have expected to find the killer in Season 1. So I guess there’s that.

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11 Most Addictive Breakfast Cereals

Last week, Yankee pitcher C.C. Sabathia made news when he explained that he lost 25 pounds during the off-season by kicking his Cap’n Crunch habit. “I used to eat it a box at a time,” he said.

Now, any fool knows that most breakfast cereals aren’t the best option if you’re looking to drop some pounds, so C.C. should have figured this out long ago. I interviewed C.C. after an Indians game in the locker room during his rookie season, and the towel around his waist could have been used as a tarp on the infield. The guy was huge.

That said, we can sympathize with the man, as most people know this stuff is incredibly addictive. We might not eat a box at a time like this 300+ pound athlete, but we’ve all been there where we couldn’t put the stuff down. You eat bowl after bowl, and then you can’t move for hours. The cereal companies know this so they spend millions on commercials trying to get you to try their stuff, hoping one bowl will get you hooked for life.

With that in mind I’ve put together my own list of the 11 most addictive breakfast cereals together with a commercial or related video. Most of this is a personal list, but I’ve added a few based on reputation alone, even though they aren’t my favorites.

11. Chocolate Cheerios

I happened to discover this new creation the day before the C.C. story broke. I’ve been laying off the sugary cereal for years except for brief moments of weakness, and I broke down when I saw this new creation at the drug store. The strange thing is that it’s not completely loaded with sugar, as it has fewer calories than many other addictive cereals. But the chocolate flavor makes this one incredible, and you just can’t stop eating it.

As for a commercial, we couldn’t find anything other than homemade tributes on YouTube, all of which were terrible.

10. Honey-Comb

They billed it as a big cereal with a big taste. The commercials sucked from what we can remember, and this one was particularly bad.

9. Crispix

This stuff isn’t that sweet, but it’s still addictive. The big selling point was that Crispix would stay crunchy in milk, and it certainly held up better than cereals like Golden Grahams, that would basically turn into a delicious mush. Here’s a spectacularly bad Crispix commercial.

8. Fruit Loops

You don’t really think of fruit when you eat this cereal. It’s pretty much a blast of sugar in all sorts of colors – more like candy. The commercials weren’t bad with Toucan Sam as the mascot. Some might prefer Fruity Pebbles, as it’s one of the soggy cereal classics, but I always preferred the Loops.

7. Frosted Flakes

This stuff basically tastes like pure sugar, but you can’t stop eating it after you start. The commercials were always a huge hit, with Tony the Tiger saying “They’re Grrrreat!” Here’s one of the oldest ones we found.

6. Apple Jacks

This is probably the best cereal out there with a big cinnamon taste. Here’s a classic commercial from way back when.

5. Corn Pops

I haven’t tried this stuff with the sweet corn flavor in years but I always loved it. This one should be inducted in the soggy hall of fame as well.

4. Cap’n Crunch

This one did in poor C.C. It’s never been one of my favorites, but countless people swear by it, and MrBreakfast.com named it the all-time greatest breakfast cereal. Here’s a great spoof of the Captain from “Family Guy.”

3. Honey Nut Cheerios

Before the Chocolate Cheerios came around, this favorite of Omar from “The Wire” was a longtime staple in my kitchen. Here’s one the early commercials with the jingle they milked for years.

2. Golden Grahams

It was tough keeping this one off the #1 spot, as the graham cracker taste is just incredible. As I explained above, these things get soggy pretty fast in milk, but they’re incredible when they’re crunchy and even when they become soggy. Here’s a pretty funny commercial without the annoying jingle.

1. Cocoa Puffs

Clearly, I have a real problem when it comes to chocolate – I can’t stop. By the time you get near the end of the bowl with Cocoa Puffs, you’re basically left with delicious chocolate milk. There are other brands that max out the chocolate flavor, like Count Chocula (one of the coolest cereal names ever), Cocoa Pebbles and Cocoa Krispies, but nothing tasted as good or as chocolaty as the Puffs. The commercials, on the other hand, were pretty lame….

We probably left off one of your favorites, so go ahead and slam us in the comments….

  

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