Q: On the “America’s Got Talent” auditions, a male singer went through, I thought. His wife died in the plane crash with Kobe Bryant. Did he decide not to go on?
A: You are remembering Matt Mauser, the husband of Christina Mauser, an assistant basketball coach at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy. She died in the helicopter crash that also killed Bryant, Bryant’s daughter Gianna and six others. Matt Mauser gave a much-praised vocal performance of Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds” in the auditions, but did not advance to the live shows. He was included in an “AGT” wild-card competition on Peacock, but did not advance from there, either.
Q: I recently watched “Gran Torino” for the first time. Trying not to be a spoiler here, so I will try to phrase my question carefully. Towards the end, when Clint Eastwood was lying on the grass, his open hand had some kind of medal. What was the medal and its significance?
A: Since that movie is more than a dozen years old, I am going to be bolder about a spoiler. At the end, Eastwood’s character Walt Kowalski confronts a gang of hoodlums. He puts a cigarette in his mouth, says menacingly that he has a light for it and reaches into his jacket; the gang thinks he is going for a gun and shoots him dead. But he has in fact reached for a lighter (with a military insignia on it), and the gang members are arrested for killing an unarmed man. By the way, Eastwood, now 91, has a new movie arriving on Sept. 17, “Cry Macho,” which he directed and stars in.
Q: I have been a longtime fan of the Syfy channel, as horror, sci-fi, thrillers and so on, are my favorite shows. Over the past year, I have seen a huge decline in the variety and focus on this genre from this channel. For example, the same Harry Potter movies were shown for four consecutive weekends over and over again! There are thousands of movies that would be entertaining for this audience, but instead they are driving me away from my main source of entertainment until now. What is going on with this channel and how did they lose their way?
A: Some channels do indeed change: Bravo used to feature serious cultural programs, for example. But Syfy would argue that it did not lose its way, even if it no longer calls itself Sci-Fi. It still proclaims itself “a global, multiplatform media brand that gives science fiction fans of all kinds a universe to call home. Celebrating the genre in all its forms, SYFY super-serves passionate fans with original science fiction, fantasy, paranormal and superhero programming, live event coverage and imaginative digital and social content.”
Does that preclude reruns? Of course not. Syfy is not alone among program providers in offering day after day of some movies and programs – but they do so because they need to fill a lot of hours, they own the rights to those productions and they believe – as with the Harry Potter films – that the fans will indeed watch them over and over. NBCUniversal, which includes Syfy, spent a reported $250 million to get the Potter films and has used them to draw viewers to the NBC broadcast network, USA Network and its Peacock streaming service.
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