January 3, 2010 |
History channel President Nancy Dubuc knows what she's up against running a cable television network devoted to events from long ago in an age of real-time tweets and quirky videos that go viral instantaneously. "History, people automatically say, is black and white and fuddy-duddy," she said matter-of-factly. But not according to Dubuc. Since taking over History three years ago, the young executive has sought to recast the network in Technicolor. To do so, she's undertaken a provocative strategy: severing the cable channel's tether to the past.
December 23, 2009 |
Here's your unlikeliest feel-good story for Christmas week: Las Vegas' newest rising celebrities are four local guys who have been quietly running a family-owned pawnshop downtown for years. This summer, the History Channel launched the reality show "Pawn Stars" to focus on their Gold & Silver Pawn Shop and its boutique-museum hodgepodge of items people have pawned. There are Rolexes and motorcycles (of course), but also two-century-old rifles, a centuries-old samurai sword, a 1920s surgical chair, a Super Bowl ring, Olympic medals and an 1830 gold-gilded Ormolu clock known as "The Death Clock," because gilders handled deadly mercury to craft it. "It's 'Antiques Roadshow' with cash," says Corey Harrison, the youngest of the family.
December 12, 2009 |
The history of the United States is, essentially, one of dissent. Certain elected officials may have managed to establish legacies of transformation, but real change in this country has inevitably begun not with politicians but the peanut gallery. Workers and writers, activists and artists, intellectuals, immigrants and everyday people who found one situation or another intolerable and decided to do something about it. No serious social or political change in this country -- not independence, not abolition, not women's suffrage or the minimum wage or civil rights or the New Deal -- came about without anger and protest and, often as not, violence.
November 29, 2009
The xx : Its name and austere design aesthetic give the impression of spartan-minded hardcore punks, but instead this English indie pop group's debut album, "XX," is one of the coolest slabs of minimalist electro-soul this side of Portishead. Built on the dreamy vocals of Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim and achingly spare guitars nicked from the Cure, this album is rated for all audiences. 'Thirst' : We expected some dark scares from this South Korean import, but this film offered further evidence that the best ideas in vampire movies are coming from the other side of the world.
November 13, 2009 |
Time was when Ken Burns documented something, it pretty much closed the subject. Yet two years after Burns took on World War II in his seven-part "The War," two ambitious if not equally soundtracked series are marking Veterans Day. The Smithsonian Channel's six-part "Apocalypse" premiered Wednesday night, and "WWII in HD" begins Sunday night on the History Channel. Both tout new, never-seen-before footage that has been digitally refurbished, often colorized and, in the case of "WWII in HD," presented in high-definition.
September 7, 2009 |
The term "crime of the century" has been worn thin by overuse, but the slaughter of seven people in two days by members of the Manson family in August 1969 still requires its hyperbolic ring. The Tate-LaBianca murders scared Los Angeles witless and horrified an already deeply unsettled nation. Forty years later, Charles Manson remains our homegrown image of Satan and, as the recent denial of the dying Susan Atkins' request for early release proves, the senselessly brutal deaths, particularly that of the pregnant Sharon Tate, are a still vivid American nightmare.
March 28, 2009 |
Paleontologist Jorn Hurum used to have nightmares about the Loch Ness monster -- until he found something bigger. "Predator X," a two-hour special on History (8 p.m. Sunday), documents Hurum's uncovering of an extinct marine reptile that patrolled our oceans 150 million years ago. It was 50 feet long, weighed 45 tons and possessed a 33,000-pound bite.
August 4, 2008 |
With the Olympic Games in Beijing about to commence, it's China time on television, with channels unleashing their stories of China past, present and future. The winner of the gold medal now seems apparent: the History Channel docudrama "China's First Emperor," a lavish and fascinating look at the rise and fall of Qin Shi Huangdi, the brilliant, ruthless ruler who led a 10-year war to unify China two centuries before Christ. Once the battlefield struggles were won, the real battles began.
May 19, 2008 |
Remember when fishing was television of last resort, revered by dedicated anglers but glimpsed only occasionally by others, perhaps as a joke or during a visit to Grandpa's? These days, fishing is officially hot: Discovery Channel recently announced that men ages 18 to 49 ranked "The Deadliest Catch" No. 3 among all prime-time television on Tuesday night, beating out "Dancing With the Stars" and "Shark" in the demographic. (How hilarious is it that a show called "Deadliest Catch" beat out a show called "Shark"?