Once Upon a Time — Changes and Season 7

Once Upon a Time returned two weeks ago and I have intentionally remained silent.  The reason is simple.  I didn’t want to say anything until after Emma’s story was told.  Now I feel a little (notice little) more confident in what I have to say.

I don’t mind the new Henry.  I don’t mind the fact that we are reliving the opening of the very first episode.  What I do mind is that we have no idea of the curse or who cast it.  The Henry we know and love would never forget his daughter unless under extreme circumstances.  So, who caused the extreme circumstances.  And why does Henry appear to be the last one to have arrived in Hyperion Heights.  Alice made a point of telling Rumple (I mean Weaver) that he was in town.

I just love the names and symbolism associated with the old characters.  Weaver for Gold is very appropriate as he weaved gold out of straw.  I can even see Roni for Regina. Roni is the Hebrew for word for “song” and she did do an excellent job with her musical number.  And the bar is the most appropriate place for her to work since she met Robin at a bar.

Now, on to Hook or should we say Wish Hook or Hook 2?  I’m not sure but Hook’s new name of Rogers is also appropriate as he sailed on the Jolly Roger.  The real question though comes from his change.  Lady Tremaine used our Storybrooke’s Hook’s blood to make Hook 2 look younger and our Hook.  Okay, I’ll buy this but that leaves a whole new can of worms.

Lady Tremaine/Victoria (I think is her Seattle name) evidently has some experience with magic.  She states that she hates magic and seems to want the landscapes around her cleansed of all magic yet she can sure use that wand!  If she is so against magic, why can she use it.  And what “price” did magic have for her?

Unfortunately, Emma’s return wasn’t what I expected (not exactly).  I’m happy that she and our original Hook are starting a family but her appearance wasn’t for the entire show much less mind blowing.  There’s some speculation over on Twitter that Emma’s not telling Henry everything but I am not thinking along those lines.  If Emma wanted Henry to know she was pregnant, she would have told them not to say anything.  She would want to tell him herself.

Now that brings us to the last questionable issue that we have.  We know that Henry had graduated high school when he left on his grand adventure, now he’s a young man who has married.  None of our returning characters have aged that much.  Even Emma didn’t seem any older.  I’ve always speculated that the time runs different in the different worlds so could this be evidence.  Or, is my mind seeing a potential set-up for this being the entrance to Narnia and the Last Battle (as C. S. Lewis wrote).  Only time (and renewal) will tell.

DANCE MOMS: Round Two on THAT DANCE and Other Matters

Recently, I wrote an article about Dance Moms that proved that Abby was capable of doing dances like the OG’s did in last week’s show.  I in no way condone the dance but my credibility has been called into account.  And, while I don’t have children, I have taken dance and also have friends who teach.  Let me say the following:

As the teachers say, times have changed.  Dance has changed and some of the reasons are connected with Dance Moms.  The first few years, Abby’s routines were more legit but, let’s face it.  She pushed the line even the year before Dance Moms premiered as the clips last week showed.

As a person who ATTENDS and LOVES musical theater, I attend when I can.  I have attended both professional versions, college versions, and high school versions.  Because the college versions sometimes includes home school students, theater students can be 16 or 17 during their first year and get starring roles.  And yes, I have seen a 16 year old in A Chorus Line singing “Tits and Ass” (excuse the reference folks).  So don’t say that young girls don’t perform that type of routine.

As for the “professionalism” of Abby Lee Dancers, well I know of at least one university who would love to have Nia on their “dance team.”  The reason:  Her videos show her as being a hard worker who can do the fast choreography.  So, don’t judge Nia, Kalani, Camryn, Chloe, or Kendall on their looks, their weight, their body type or their skill.  They face enough judgement in the work place and should not have to face it here from people who bully young girls because of a television show.

Now on to the moms and why they have allowed their girls to do the show.  The program Dance Moms was originally thought to be a documentary on the world of dancers and their moms.  Rumors have it that Christi brought the studio to the attention of the producers who decided to use it.  In fact Holly stated in an interview that first year that she didn’t think they would make the show much less make it past the first few weeks.  To be on the show, all moms had to sign contracts which made them have to do what production told them to do.  That meant they all had to learn a new dance for the week, the teacher arranged for choreography and costumes (which the moms paid for) and they couldn’t easily break their contract or face legal issues.

Now on to how much it costs to be a dancer.  When I was young and danced, my dad worked two jobs so my sister and I could have the opportunity.  So it was expensive then.  At the Abby Lee studio, the rates are posted on their website for 2015-2016.  Basically, all students must pay a $35.00 registration fee for the year.  If they are registered, the fee for a 30 minute session is $35  and 60 minutes runs $65.  All must pay for a performance packet monthly from November to March.  While no monetary amount is given, the packet includes costumes, tights, earrings, head pieces, props.  Notice what isn’t listed — travel and hotel bills.  Also, the team information are  found here.  Please note that one class doesn’t cut it and we don’t know how much the weekend rehearsals are. Quoting from their website

Required Classes are Ballet, Lyrical, Contemporary, Jazz, Tap, Acro/Gym, Hip Hop, Legs & Feet, Jumps & turns.

So basically, that is at least nine classes.  Let’s say the classes run the minimum time of 30 minutes.  Parents pay $35.00, then $315.00 a week but I don’t think that is what it takes to make the Elite team.  Let’s go with just the $315 a week for 12 months and the cost for dance lessons (no performance packets) alone are $16,380 a year.

And just for the record:  I have written for several different websites on Dance Moms and I have one rule.  I never comment on a girl unless said girl does something really obnoxious.  I will comment on the moms.  The way I see it is this.  The original moms were trying to get the story across of moms and daughters sharing an experience. The show took off.  Business opportunity for Abby and dance success for her star pupils came into play.  Enough said and only one name called here.

 

Dance Moms: The Debate Still Rages

Last night’s (Tuesday, October 10, 2017) on Dance Moms, we got to see the dances in their entirety.  I’m not going to throw shade at the younger dancers.  I do want to say that the first version I saw (season one) of “Where Have All the Children Gone” moved me to tears.  Here is the link for it if you never have seen it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psxDS8QMrXs.  The gist of this is that all our children are exposed to acts of violence.  The version last night (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xE9tWaNApSo) looked like the schoolyard bully and no one standing up to him.  Granted Brynn did push him, but it was half-hearted and she ran off.  If he was the school yard bully, she should have confronted him.

Let’s now deal with the big controversy on last night’s Dance Moms.  Many complained about the mature nature and costumes of the girls dance.  Granted, it’s not what you are use to on Dance Moms.  No lyrical moves or pretty little facial expressions, it was hard hitting and actually age appropriate.  These girls are aged 15, 16, and 17.  They will be moving into college/jobs where they will be expected to perform like this or much worse.  They pulled the number off and I applaud them for it.  It’s a grown up dance and is seen in almost every music video.  If you didn’t see it, here’s the link (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oS3ysfpoQ4).

Abby’s complaint that this isn’t what she raised the girls to do is not reflected in what we have seen over seven seasons.  And while I’m sure Abby would say that producers made her do these dances, Abby could have stood up to them and refused.  She has dressed them as show girls.  Here’s the link and be sure to watch all of it  and especially view the judges faces.  They were in shock. Here the girls are complete with Vegas costumes and fans (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2_dTosvpnQ).

If this isn’t evidence enough of what Abby has had the girls do, let me remind you of a few others:

Electricity — better costumes than above but still objectionable contents by standards established on Twitter last night — (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Hbwed_7o20).

Make You Mine — due to costumes and dance moves  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiP8UuPabik

They Call Me Laquifa — This is from season one or two and notice that Abby has Nia twirking.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=re4L3VL91mI

Snapshot  — where the girls danced in bras/pants only they were swimsuits  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGgGTwWe8qI&list=PLmp3XLn02Xg1UHMpdTIcF7e9Pw-5jc3Ms&index=22

Nip and Tuck — another bra/pants routine.  This routine was supposed to imply that the moms had plastic surgery —  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5ugY3mDbWc&index=78&list=PLmp3XLn02Xg1UHMpdTIcF7e9Pw-5jc3Ms

And less we forget.  Here’s what Abby said to Nia about her video and the testimonial that follows:  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Fkjnb0XYjA). And . . . (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K47y_49IsjA).  And … (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gN7dRid084).    Yet Abby loves Maddie’s work with Shia and Sia (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRzrNAfy2-M)?  Most people’s opinion of “Elastic Heart” can be voiced by Cathy of Candy Apples (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INq7QgNiU4E).

And less you forget, Abby didn’t want Nia/Holly or JoJo/Jessalynn to come to Australia.  They were not included in any of the events so Holly took matters into her own hands (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOSNolfX_Yg, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIQiORnD940https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tl6NH5iKbEw and Nia’s and JoJo’s POWERFUL performance in Australia (without other girls being allowed to attend) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHWY9qIKw9Y (prep) and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hv2wuMk6M5k (performance).

As I said last night — Pot meet Kettle.  Abby and her supporters can’t complain because the evidence exists that she did the same thing and complained when Nia made it big without her.

Dance Moms: OG V New Gals

Dance Moms last night was a trip through a haunted house.  Gone were the days when Abby Lee Dance Company was bustling with students.  Gone were the days of Chloe and Nia with the original team trying to please Abby.  Gone were the days when the moms tried to protect their children.  So what did we have in their place?

Let’s first start with the Dance Mom set we have come to know.  Instead of Holly, Jill, Kira, and the rest, we had plotting Stacy, paranoid Yolanda, half-clued in Jamie, and Ashlee, the harbinger of calamity.  Both Stacey and Yolanda want their daughters to be the next big “it” factor with Abby.  Ashlee is out to stop this and put Brynn at the top and with all the solos.  And if that causes strife between the moms and upset to the Original Girls so much the better!

Now, I don’t know if a text existed or not, but it wasn’t Ashlee’s place to share.  Please if I had been Kira/Jill/Holly/Camille, I would have deleted her from any list on phone or social groups that existed. All know that Ashlee is there only to make Brynn a star.  They know that she (and excuse my French here) sucked up to Abby at the competition the week before.  Would you share any comments with her?  I don’t think so thus I wonder if this text she saw was true.  A mom who wants to maintain friendly ties to the other group in case she needs them wouldn’t have told the new group all about what she has supposedly seen online.  But we are talking about Ashlee.

Probably one of the biggest problems I have with the new group is their lack of “real world” understanding.  Here they are fawning all over Abby in the hopes of getting their daughters ahead and all know Abby is going to jail.  Stacey and Yolanda especially are blind to the fact that without Abby they won’t have a team or success will come their way.  I’ve heard of people wearing blinders but theirs are over the top.

Now on to the Original Girls.  I know people say that Abby made them but did she really?  She kept throwing at Jill and Kendall the question of where would they be without her.  While I can see the reasoning behind the question, Abby hasn’t done that much for Kendall.  Jill had to go find another agent to handle Kendall’s music career.  Nia has suffered under Abby’s displeasure for seven long years. Chloe was insulted and had her confidence thrown many times by Abby’s comments.  While Kalani has gotten some breaks, they have been few and far between.  Thus, Abby’s whining and crying doesn’t play true to me.  Yes, she helped them on the path but their moms paid the bills.  They paid Abby to teach the girls to dance, take them to competitions, and manage their careers  (at a profit to Abby).

As to the girls, they tried to deal with Abby.  Nia has stood back and not said anything but from her facial expressions we know how much she has been hurt.  Chloe had to leave because of the comments Abby made about her eye condition.  Kalani and Kendall have suffered comparison to Maddie time and again.  Camryn has been threatened with being kicked off the team almost every week.  In all honesty what child, or parent, would have stayed that long even for a television show.  Chloe and Christi left.  Nia and Holly made it the longest because they knew they were under contract.  And for those who think getting out of a contract in show business is easy, it isn’t.  I’ve heard horror stories of what happens if you break even the smallest detail.

Now on to the original girls dance.  I didn’t see it on Dance Moms last night but from what I have seen, it was mature.  Guess what folks!  Both Kalani and Nia are heading to college soon.  This is the type of dance that if they “try out” for the musical number they will have to do.  I’ve seen too many college performance (and yes, even high school) of “A Chorus Line,” “Cabaret,” “Sweet Charity.”  And less you say:  “Well, Abby wouldn’t have done that type of number or dress them in that costume, let me say this.  There is one episode not on the Season Two dvd of Dance Moms because of subject theme and got cut because of said “theme and costume” of the dance.  They won’t even show it on television.  Also, remember the Chicago number???  That song was inappropriate. And what gives Abby a bye to get away with this.

The dance world is very competitive and I know a little of what happens at some of these dance competitions.  I know that Abby did that particular dance last night for one reason only:  to throw the “Original Girls” (Nia and Chloe) off.  I also know that rumors have circulated for at least three years that the comps are fixed and Abby couldn’t win a legit competition yet.  Do we know for sure that the one shown last night was legit?  Remember a judge ran away with the scores just a few weeks ago when questioned.

I’m sure much is staged.  I’m sure drama and upping the ante for viewers have to be done.  In the end, we’ll never know how much of this was true and how much was fake..  In my mind though, I know that Nia and Holly always seems to be the most level-headed.  Christi will do anything for her daughter.  Kira stands up for Kalani and all the girls.  Camille made the best call for Camryn.  Of the other moms, I sincerely hope your daughters achieve the success you want them to have but remember.  The competition is always there.  Friendship that exists among the Original Girls is something you can’t buy.

Dance Moms: Abby’s Tears and Goodbye

I admit, I didn’t watch Dance Moms last night.  I’m find Abby’s antics a little over the top.  For all of you who love Abby, that’s fine but she’s not type of teacher.  A teacher needs to be compassionate and Abby didn’t have it.  She played favorites and those who were not her favorites knew it.

So surprise, surprise.  My Twitter account had post after post from Abby Lee Miller, Dance Moms jailbird, asking what people thought.  And more surprising was how people were fawning all over Abby and telling her how wrong the moms were to treat her this way.  I was taken aback.  You mean you want your child’s teacher to teach the same thing over and over again and charge you high prices for the same routine? Do you want a teacher who may prepare you for Broadway but not for some of the other dance areas of professionalism?  Do you prefer teachers who put their favorites over giving all girls a break?

Give me a break!  Every mom wants their child to succeed.  Every mom will push for their child to have an opportunity.  And every mother will call out favoritism.  It’s Parenting 101.  So don’t complain about moms unless you live in their shoes!

I want to address one mom who I have always felt was a “good mom.”  Nia and Holly stuck with the show and didn’t break their contract.  They stuck it out through their contract knowing that Abby would never give Nia the same treatment as Maddie, MacKenzie, Brynn, and Kalani.  You notice I didn’t include Kendall?  I’ll deal with that in a minute.  Nia almost lost her spot in the second season but production put their foot down according to sources in Pittsburgh.  Nia remained on the show.

As Nia grew and the move to Hollywood started, Abby demanded to control the girls career which didn’t hold much promise for Nia.  Nia was put in a category by Abby of singing “scat” which is not a popular song style.  Abby never thought Nia would fit any acting jobs and didn’t want to send her out on auditions.  So I don’t blame Holly for setting out on her own to get Nia the support she needed.  And what has happened?  Nia has come into her own with recordings and a movie coming out.

Remember the photo sessions!  This is where I bring in Kendall.  Both Nia and Kendall were all but overlooked at the studio when Abby did the shoot.  Abby even told the photographer to focus on Maddie, MacKenzie and Kalani as they had potential.  She did this where Kendall and Nia could hear her and I remember the girls shocked faces.  Abby said she didn’t mean it that way and took the two out for photos the next day.  Abby, that’s wrong.  Treat all equally.

So to all the people giving the OG’s a hard time, be specific.  The only real OG that was left was Nia and she was always treated badly.  You should stop and look at treatment and attitude before you speak of the girls in a group.  And, forget Abby’s tears.  She certain forgot the girls.

Dance Moms: Abby Lee to Jail We Go

By now, most Dance Moms fans know that Abby Lee Miller was sentenced to a year and a day in Federal prison.  The charge was fraud and her excuses were varied. The real issue is has she learned anything.  Let’s review some instances.

When she made her pitch for leniency, she told the judge that she would love to teach her to dance.  Okay, i kind  of understand why she said this but then she went on and invited the judge to lunch.  Say what!  Are you trying to bribe the judge, Abby?  You would think that after all the comments made about hiding money that you would realize that baldly saying “let’s do lunch” could be some as offering a bribe.

No remorse or acknowledgement of what she had done.  I like the instance best where she said that she didn’t know she was signing  a contract.  She thought she was signing an appearance agreement.  If I remember correctly, Abby uses “contracts” to enforce keeping her winning girls at the studio.  If they leave while holding a crown, Abby’s contract entitles her to a big chunk of change and keeping the trophy.  If she uses contracts, she should know to read everything she signs.

And I will end with the — er — shall I say stupid thing she said.  In an interview with Good Morning America, Abby stated that she was going to think of the 10 months in jail as being on a movie set.  It’s only ten months.  She also plans to read, write a book, and learn Spanish.  I thought she’d also be assigned some work detail like cooking, library work, etc.  Does she think she’s going to a hotel?   Does she even see this as punishment?

In 43 days Abby must be behind bars.  What do you think she’ll do?  What will she say?  How can she live without interviews and “red carpet” events?  Give your opinions below folks!

Television: Summer and the Writers’ Strike

“Now is the summer of our discontent . . .”  Didn’t Shakespeare write this?  As we move to summer months, we are faced with a fall and winter where viewers may become discontented over viewing choices.

It looks like the Writers’ Strike is happening folks.  Now, at this time of year, you may be wondering why it is a big deal.  Granted, the summer isn’t a time when most people worry about television.  Here’s why:

  • People are on vacation or outside doing sports/nature related things.
  • Networks go to repeats or try out shows that they liked but didn’t make it to fall.
  • Shows air that have already been taped.
  • Reality — need I say more with Big Brother looming for three nights this summer!

Yes, it looks like with what I’ve said above that summer is well prepared to survive the writers loss but you have to look beyond the known to the unknown.  I’ve been through one strike before with favorite shows and remember their demise which was blamed on the strike.  Let’s put it this way:

  • If a show is returning next year, production has either already started or starts in late July or early August for September premieres.  The very least is that they get back in a short time span and can begin work.  Otherwise, the new shows could be delayed until November, December, February or beyond.  Can you remember the plot that long?
  • If a show is a pilot that has been approved, very few scripts have been stockpiled to be filmed.
  • If a show has a tentative green light, production may just be getting underway.
  • If the writer’s walk, unfinished scripts stay that way (unless someone crosses the picket line).
  • If the show is a talk show, I hope the host doesn’t belong to the union or at least has writing abilities.
  • For soap operas, I hope that fans love reruns.

And for a little historical background information, soap operas, which in my opinion was holding on by a thread, may be history after this strike  Both One Life to Live and All My Children lost long-time viewers during the last strike.  Their future is very uncertain, I believe, now.

Now a writer’s strike doesn’t mean that it will last for a long period of time.  In fact, it could be very short.  The problem is that no matter how long the writers are out, the creative process and plans are put on hold.  There are benefits for writers being out.  The last time, Joss Whedon did Dr. Horrible Sing-a-Long Blog which grew a audience of itself.  And new shows are born out of creative minds at rest.

I understand that the writers feel they are getting a raw deal.  I’m actually glad they are speaking out about their conditions versus the big wigs and their big bucks.  Unfortunately their walking out means that other who cannot at this time (the camera operators, sound guys, musicians associated with the program, make-up, costume, assistants,and actors) are all out of work.  While it’s not fair, it’s the way of life.  The good thing that may come out of this is that the underpaid people associated with the industry also gets the benefits that the writers are seeking.

Granted, I’m not a television writer although I often thought I’d like to be one.  I have no idea of all the complexities of the business although I have friends who have been or are associated with it.  The one thing I know is that the union wasn’t getting anywhere and felt that they had to take a vote and did.  Negotiations are still ongoing so there is hope.  I just hope we don’t see an influx of reality shows staring people wanting 15 minutes of fame.

Dance Moms: Is It Really Gone?

Dance Moms as we know it may have ended forever after the last episodes filmed air.  The show runners hinted at renewal but if so, who will be on it.  Let’s look at the cast of characters and see if we can determine whether it will return or not.

Abby Lee Miller — left the show in a fit of glory.  She claims to be through and is out marketing herself for other shows (and possibly a gastro-surgery one).  Abby is facing jail time and she wants the minis to be her new group with Brynn as a leader.  Would fans accept this?  Most seem to like the elites (formerly junior elites), but they are have a future ahead of them.

Chloe — Chloe came back but seems to have other projects on her plate.  Would she have time to continue with Dance Moms? Her mom has hinted that the end of the road has been reached.

Nia — the only one in all seasons has started a music career.  She also has huge potential to do other projects and her mother has also hinted that the show may be off her radar.  I think she and Chloe will stick together and both do the same thing.

Kendall — the next longest on the show.  She wants a music career and she is doing some modeling.  Would she return?  Abby hints she already has returned to ADLCLA but it could have been an old video.  And while Abby had that video up, Jill had pictures of their return to Pittsburgh on her page.

Kalani — Kalani has been there for her friendships with the girls more than anything else.  She is the oldest and must make a decision about college/professional career within the next two years.  She has a sock line that seems popular and has gotten into modeling. I honestly don’t think her girls would return.

Brynn — Brynn has made her decision and it is to follow Abby Lee Miller.  She is part of the mini team but the real question is how long will that last.  Time will tell.

Bryan Stinson is being very coy and no networks are saying anything yet.  My guess is the Writers’ Strike may impact all of this.  I guess it is a wait and see type deal.

Television/Movies Writers Strike: Could This Be Happening Again

Have you wondered why we haven’t heard about some renewals or expectations for next year?  Well, I was alerted yesterday by a friend who has a relative in show business as the possible reason.  Her relative writes for television that ANOTHER Writers’ Strike looks threatening.  Not only does it threaten the television industry as a whole but also what we viewers watched.  If you want to read more about the potential of what this strike might mean, visit the New York Times article entitled With a Hollywood Writers’ Strike Looming, Here’s What to Know..

Let me just remind people of what happened in 2007-2008.  This is not in any particular order but I what I recall.

  • When the strike happened, all production on the shows ceased.  Since it was at a time when production was going on, shows either stopped in the middle of a production or had to ask other unions to cross the picket line.  Some actors refused because they wanted to show solidarity for their fellow industry workers.
  • The networks scrambled for programming.  Reality took over.  Big Brother fans remember the winter of 2008 as the year we want to forget.  They came out with a special “couples” edition of Big Brother and no fan was happy.  Coming off the Evel Dick season 8, season 9 was annoying and too soon.
  • Shows like Heroes, LOST, Desperate Housewives, and 24 were caught in the middle of complicated story lines.  Seasons were cut to whatever was already filmed leaving people want more.  To me, this was beginning of both Heroes and LOST good season and the ending of the series.
  • Late night shows returned in January but either had to have a special permit, go without writers, or  have the celebrity as owners.  Of course, this saw a rise in ratings for both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
  • Many shows went into repeats immediately saving the filmed shows for “sweeps months.”
  • Daytime drama suffered the worse.  Many attribute the writer’s strike to the end of most daytime dramas (and I won’t say it didn’t help the shows to end).  While trying to keep their viewers with repeats, the shows often seemed in a time warp that hurt instead of helped.

Now don’t get me wrong, some good did come out of this.  I’m not sure if we would have either Agents of SHIELD or Once Upon a Time if the writers hadn’t had a break.  Plus Whedon became his most creative with Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog.  If you haven’t seen that Harris/Fillon piece, I’d suggest this Writers’ Strike (if it does happen) as a good viewing option.

Will the writers’ strike.  I’m hearing that 51% wants it to happen.  If they do go out on picket lines, it will begin on May 1st.  The 2007-2008 version lasted 100 days.  In 1988, the Writers’ Strike lasted 155 days.  One of the big issues this time is health insurance.  Let’s hope the networks and writers come to an agreement or the 2017-2018 television season may not happen until January or February 2018.