Mike Dow

Mike Dow

edge staff writer

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¡Ay, caramba! “The Simpsons” has just been renewed through its 34th season, which will keep TV’s longest-lasting scripted series on the air through at least 2023. Fox’s announcement of the double-season renewal coincides with the airing of the show’s 700th episode, “Manger Things,” scheduled for March 21, at 8:00 p.m.

“One more season and the show will be old enough to run for president,” quipped longtime Simpsons executive producer and showrunner, Al Jean, during an interview with The Maine Edge.

One of the original writers for “The Simpsons,” Jean has spent the bulk of his professional life working on the show, with the exception of a few seasons from the 90s when he left to create shows for ABC, including “The Critic.”

During the following interview, Jean reveals the trickiest aspect of his job; he cites some of his favorite celebrity cameos, and he also reveals the identity of the show’s white whale – the star that has perpetually rejected every invitation to become “Simpsonized.”

Wednesday, 17 March 2021 13:19

Maine’s music scene – one year later

Maine’s music scene is still quiet one year after the start of the pandemic but there are signs that things are beginning to move in the right direction, according to some of Maine’s music-makers and presenters.

Chef and Food Network host Robert Irvine has returned to two of the channel’s most popular programs, including the show that he cited as “the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

“Restaurant Impossible,” where Irvine and his crew attempt to rescue struggling eateries is back with new episodes Thursdays at 9:00 p.m.

At 10 p.m., Irvine can be seen in the first new episodes of “Dinner Impossible” in more than a decade. Irvine says the show is “raw and real” as he is expected to cook against the clock in unusual locations with a near-total lack of supplies at the ready.

The programs can be seen on the Food Network and the Discovery Plus streaming platform.

It’s hard to believe that more than a decade has passed since the greater Bangor area’s entertainment landscape was transformed by the rise of Waterfront Concerts and Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion.

To celebrate this milestone, The Maine Edge is asking readers to share their picks for the 10 best shows presented at the venue since it opened. One winner, selected at random, will receive a prize package including ticket vouchers to exchange for an upcoming show of the winner’s choice courtesy of Waterfront Concerts.

Colorful Arizona-based concert promoter Danny Zelisko has experienced countless incredible and outrageous moments in his capacity of presenting upward of 34,000 shows over the last 47 years. In that time, he’s heard “Danny, you should write a book” hundreds of times … so he did.

It’s called “All Excess: Occupation: Concert Promoter” and it’s a wild ride that chronicles his one-on-one experiences with the most famous names in entertainment, while also charting the evolution of the concert industry.

During an interview with The Maine Edge, Zelisko, 66, recalls falling for the music of a brand-new group called The Beatles, and how he was the first among his group of friends to become a Beatlemaniac. Years later, he experienced what he now refers to as his proudest moment, when he signed Paul McCartney to play a sellout stadium show.

Academy Award winner George Chakiris will always be remembered for his career-defining role as Bernardo, leader of the Sharks in the 1961 film version of “West Side Story.” As the classic movie musical celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, Chakiris marks that milestone with the release of his memoir “My West Side Story” (Lyons Press).

Chakiris chronicles his formative years, growing up in Ohio as the son of Greek immigrants, and his steady rise to stardom, working alongside legends including Marilyn Monroe (“Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and “There’s No Business Like Show Business”) and Natalie Wood in “West Side Story,” for which Chakiris beat out some stiff competition to bring home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. His Oscar date that night was his co-star, Rita Moreno, who won the statue for Best Supporting Actress.

As Chakiris recalled during an interview with The Maine Edge, winning an Oscar afforded him the privilege of never having to search for work again. The eternally youthful Chakiris appears to be at least three decades younger than his actual age of 86, and that’s where our interview began.

Now that the government has finally admitted that UFOs are real, Ryan Sprague, the author of “Somewhere in the Skies: A Human Approach to an Alien Phenomenon,” says he feels vindicated. The UFO researcher and podcaster has just overhauled his 2016 bestseller by adding 75,000 words of text to the new edition, which recently hit the top spot in four categories on Amazon.

“So much has happened in the four years since the first edition was published,” Sprague said during an interview. “I think the most important thing is the subtitle to the book – a human approach.”

Sprague’s bestseller focuses on how the individuals profiled in his book were personally impacted by their UFO experiences. “More often than not, they were life-changing,” Sprague said.

“The Karate Kid” franchise is alive and well in season three of “Cobra Kai,” the hit Netflix martial-arts comedy-drama series based on the original films and starring a number of the original players.

Picking up 34 years after the original 1984 movie, “Cobra Kai” sees a rekindling of the rivalry between Daniel portrayed by Ralph Macchio and Johnny, portrayed by William Zabka, after the latter reopens the Cobra Kai dojo originally founded by John Kreese, portrayed by Martin Kove. Kreese’s history is examined via flashbacks in the show’s third season, with the young Kreese character portrayed by Jesse Kove, Martin’s real-life son.

The viewership numbers for “Cobra Kai” are staggering. According to Parrot Analytics, a platform that analyzes viewership data, the program currently has 60.3 times the demand of the average television program in the U.S. To date, upwards of 73 million people have seen the show on Netflix.

During an interview with The Maine Edge, Jesse Kove (“David”) comments on the show’s success, discusses working with his father, and gives us a preview of an upcoming documentary he’s involved with that he hopes will bring about real change for families blocked from seeing terminally ill loved ones.

When most Christians observe Lent, the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter, they choose something (or multiple somethings) of personal import to forgo for the duration. Some people give up coffee or soda, while others might choose to quit smoking or drinking. For the third year in a row, a craft brewery owner in Ohio says he’s giving up everything for Lent - except beer - and he’s using his notoriety to raise money to help bar and restaurant employees in his area that have been hit hard by the pandemic.

Del Hall, 45, of Cincinnati, Ohio, says his doctor tried to talk him out of going through with his beer-only Lenten fast two years ago when he came up with the idea.

“She said ‘You’re an idiot if you do this,’ but she knows how strong-willed I am,” Hall said during an interview. “I filmed the whole thing kind of like a documentary, and once she knew I was determined to see this through, she recommended I take multi-vitamins, stay hydrated, and she told me not to do anything stupid.”

Hall gave up all solid food but augments his beer diet with black coffee, herbal tea and “about a gallon of water a day,” he said.

Hall said he was first inspired to undertake his Lenten beer-diet by the Bavarian monks of the 1600s who banished all solid food during their Lenten fast and replaced it with hearty dopplebock beer, rich in sugars and carbs.

“I wanted to myth-bust that legend and put it to the test,” Hall told me.

Sometimes a book can surprise you. I recently finished reading “From Headstocks to Woodstock,” the autobiography of Ric Lee, drummer for venerable British blues rockers Ten Years After. I’ve read a bajillion rock memoirs – some great, some half-baked and some that should still be in tree form. Lee’s is certainly in the first category. The man has led a fascinating life and he writes a riveting tale that is startlingly rich with detail.

No ghostwriter for this rocker, Lee says he spent the better part of 10 years writing, editing and perfecting his book. The stories within come alive thanks to Lee’s engaging writing style, the clarity of his memory, the research and interviews he undertook on his own, and the fact that he maintained diaries and journals through these years which lend authority to the text.

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