As a city that dates back to some of the earliest days of this country, it’s not surprising that much of our architecture is considered historical. Entire neighborhoods in Boston are designated “historical districts,” make it necessary that all businesses and residences within those limits adhere to strict standards in regards to maintaining the look of the time period the area is representative of. Many areas of Cambridge are the same way. This is part of the problem for the cast and crew of the 33 year-old PBS series, “This Old House,” which just began shooting it’s newest season at a home near Porter Square.
Cast members Kevin O’Connor and Tom Silva have been on the scene from the beginning, working on gutting the interior of the house and offering insight into what sorts of changes are being made to the structure. The Bellevue Ave. home was originally built in 1887 and is owned by Cambridge couple Sally Peterson and John Stone. Because the house is historic, the exterior will remain largely unchanged, but the interior will be completely gutted. Mounted cameras have been placed throughout the three stories in order to capture the progress of the work. As the renovations have already begun moving along, the construction crews are using various green construction practices as part of the overall show project. Many of the materials salvaged from the inside of the old home, including the kitchen sink, will be resold so that they can be re-used and repurposed. The first episode of the new season featuring the Cambridge home will premiere on WGBH this October.
The popular game show pitting Massachusetts high schools against one another is back for a second season — “High School Quiz Show” returns! The program, sponsored by Bank of America, showcases 16 eastern Massachusetts public high schools who compete in qualifying matches, then six playoff matches before an eastern Massachusetts championship. The winners then go head-to-head against the western Massachusetts public school winners of As Schools Match Wits, a co-production of WGBY and Westfield State University.
“Based on the feedback that we got about the show and some things we learned from the process, we did make a few improvements this season,” says executive producer of “High School Quiz Show,” Hillary Wells. “Quiz shows really are their own beast.”
One such improvement was the addition of a new host for the show, the voice of local radio show “Matty in the Morning” on KISS 108 and host of NECN’s “TV Diner:” Billy Costa. “We wanted someone who is very connected to the community in a meaningful way. Someone who could help us expand our audience and bring an energy and feel that the show needs,” Wells says.
Costa is not the only familiar face scheduled to appear on the show this season; many celebrities such as high profile athletes, actors, and scholars have pledged their support by contributing video questions. Katie Couric, Phylicia Rashād, Alec Baldwin, Dennis Lehane, Mark Wahlberg, Noam Chomsky, and Queen Noor are just a few of the many famous names involved in “High School Quiz Show.”
“We also updated the look and feel of the show,” says Wells, which included updating the the color palette on the set. Based on feedback from the teams and schools that competed last year, the show was also restructured to be more competitive; this season it is based on a bracket format and a single-elimination tournament.
Additionally, the lengths of the final lightning round and the head to head round were increased this season, while the point value of the final round went from 10 to 20 per question. “What we found last year was that it was tough coming out of the third round to come back. We wanted to give the trailing team a chance to come back.”
In the end, though, what will audiences enjoy most about WGBH’s “High School Quiz Show?” “It comes back to the original intent of the show- celebrating and showcasing academic achievement,” says Wells. “The show attracts a broad multigenerational audience – younger siblings who are aspirational, and 90-year-old grandparents. There aren’t very many programs out there that attract this kind of enthusiasm and support.”
The first episode of “High School Quiz Show,” a battle between Natick vs. Acton-Boxborough, will be airing on February 13 at 7 p.m. on WGBH, after a marathon of the 2010 “High School Quiz Show” finals. In advance of the new season, the creators will be launching an online version of the quiz on their website so all members of the audience can participate. Also be sure to check out the website for more information on the game, the schools, and to watch video footage of “Super Sunday,” when over 70 public high schools in Massachusetts who were invited to the WGBH studio participated in taking a qualifying quiz for the show.
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Currently showing at theaters around the city, the Boston Jewish Film Festival is celebrating its 22nd year of bringing culturally relevant films to the area.
Boston theaters that will be showing films this year include the Stuart Street Playhouse, Museum of Fine Arts, AMC Framingham, West Newton Cinema, Arlington Capitol Theatre, Showcase Cinemas Randolph, Hollywood Hits Premier Theatres in Danvers, and the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline. Many of these showings will feature discussion groups, question and answer sessions, and appearances by the director of the film or even some of its stars. General admission tickets, except for closing night performances and other special events, can be purchased for $12 online or by phone. Passes and group tickets are also available for purchase. Discounts are also available for seniors, MFA members, and WGBH members.
Since many films are international works, where the languages spoken by the actors are not English, the movies will be shown with subtitles. The festival kicked off on November 3rd, and will be continuing through November 14th. Closing night festivities include the New England Premier of Little Rose, with appearances by director Jan Kidawa-Blonski of Poland. For those that are unable to attend the festival bjff.org offers an email newsletter, where new films and showings are announced in the area year-round.
Relive all the drama of Massachusetts’ “High School Quiz Show” every weekend this summer. The original game show aired on March 22nd and chronicled twenty teams’ quest for knowledge and bragging rights over nine days of play. Weekly repeats will play Fridays from 5-5:30 p.m. and Sundays from 5-5:30 p.m. on WGBH 2 and Saturdays from 11-11:30 p.m. on WGBH 44. The episodes are also available On Demand through June or online.
The show was hosted by Dhaya Lakshminarayanan, an MIT alum and stand-up comedian, who guided the twenty teams through ten qualifying rounds all the way to the state championship. Massachusetts’ best and brightest academics gathered at WGBH to showcase their intellect as they went head to head with other schools. “High School Quiz Show” is “one of the few televised public competitions nationwide that focuses on knowledge and physical ability,” boasts their website. The game show stems from the previous success of similar show “As Schools Match Wits”, which was a co-production of Westfield State College and WGBY.
All the schools competing were from eastern Massachusetts and the four highest scoring schools advanced to the finals. They took on the top four teams from “As Schools Match Wits”. So even if you missed it the first time around, tune into WGBH this summer to catch all the action.
Newton, MA native and star of “The Office” John Krasinski was in Boston this weekend for a variety of promotional events for his new independent film, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, his directorial debut.
The 29-year-old actor, whose work includes roles in the movies Leatherheads, Jarhead, and Kinsey, wasted no time in his brief local tour, making stops at the Brookline Booksmith for an autograph signing, Boston.com/The Boston Globe and WHDH for interviews, before heading over to the Kendall Square Theater in Cambridge for screenings of his new film.
An insider at WHDH tells Hollywood East Connection that the talented actor was friendly and approachable to staff members seeking autographs and pictures when he appeared at the studio for an interview with one of the Channel 7 anchors. The smiley star “Seems like a nice guy who ‘gets’ that he’s famous, knows he has a lot of fans, and wants to give them a chance to meet him. It was nice to see such a famous actor be pretty down to earth.”
In other locally related news from “The Office” cast, Concord, MA native Steve Carell just signed on to star in a new silver screen comedy by director Rick Reilly, titled Missing Links. The golf-themed comedy is being written by Jay Lavender, who wrote The Break-Up.
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