Kevin Can Wait Q&A and Set Tour

Last week, I had the unique opportunity to visit the set of Kevin Can Wait, CBS’ new hit comedy starring Kevin James and Erinn Hayes. As a longtime Kevin James fan, I was so thrilled to get a closer look at what it takes to make this funny new show and to hear the stars thoughts on the story, upcoming episodes and much more.

IMG 0404

Just an hour outside of Manhattan, Kevin Can Wait is filmed at Goldcoast Studios in Bethpage, NY. The show’s premise revolves around James’ character, a middle aged, newly retired cop who is excited about finally focusing on himself, after years of working long hours protecting others. Much to his dismay, Kevin’s focus on himself quickly shifts to everyone else, including his kids’ various needs.

IMG 0405

James plays a lovable, yet flawed and extremely relatable Kevin. His counterpart, Donna, played by Erinn Hayes, is a likable working mom hoping to find her own balance. Together, their chemistry and storylines make for a comical portrayal of a middle class family and enduring the highs and lows of life.

IMG 0429

Our Q&A was hosted by accomplished director and equally funny Andy Fickman. Fickman read our questions to Kevin and Erinn, while interjecting his own commentary in between. We learned about how Kevin grew up in Long Island, and how his character is based off of one of his friends. Erinn shared that she, herself, is a working mom whose family is still on the west coast. She relates to the juggle and trying to make it work.

IMG 0433

I’ve participated in another junket with Kevin James, and just as one would suspect, he is just as funny as the characters he portrays. He’s obviously not as physical and bumbling as his comedy; he carries himself professionally and is a much more subdued person than the silly characters we know. I had no idea that he is a father of 4, but as always, I enjoyed chatting about how he loves the Mets.

IMG 0400

Since we have baseball on the brain with the World Series going on, one of my questions had to do with the Mets. I said, since your love for the Mets is like a secondary character in your films and shows, will there be a Mets cameo on Kevin Can Wait?

D1e0410f37436064 1Photo credit: CBS Television

As soon as I asked this question, it’s as if the Mets heard me over in Flushing and revealed a teaser of none other than Noah Syndergaard dressed up as a Viking on the Kevin Can Wait set. So, tonight, in time for Halloween, beloved pitcher, Syndergaard, who is also nicknamed ‘Thor’ will have a cameo as a Viking who has an altercation with Chale, Kevin’s daughter’s fiancé. When I told my husband and sons this news, I think they squealed louder than I did!

 

I’ll have more to share from my Q&A and set tour, but for now don’t forget to tune in tonight to check out the crazy shenanigans on Kevin Can Wait. Kevin Can Wait airs on Mondays at 8pm on CBS.

 

Full disclosure: I was invited to participate in this set tour and Q&A. I received a stipend for my participation. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own. 

Odd-tober and Halloween Shows on PBS

We’ve been busy getting ready for Halloween over here. As we finish carving pumpkins and all the usual fun stuff, I wanted to share some cool stuff that’s been going on at PBS.


Earlier in the month, in honor of Odd Squad, PBS kicked the spooky season with a one-hour special and the return of Halloween-themed family favorites from various series! The premiere featured “Odd Squad: Against the Odds,” which will included five 11-minute stories with Olive, Otto and the rest of the gang as they solve the community’s strange problems.

 

20151013 173258 584818 odd squad

 

“Odd-tober” will continue on PBS KIDS this week with the return of family Halloween favorites, including “Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest.” Favorite episodes from series such as Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Wild Kratts, PEG + CAT and Dinosaur Train will also air throughout the week. Don’t forget to check out games and stream the Halloween-themed episodes free on pbskids.org and the PBS KIDS Video App.

20150915 160006 438377 yellow curious g

We’re all about that crazy Curious George and his silly shenanigans. What are your favorite Halloween shows on PBS?  

Halloween Episodes on PBS Kids are Spooky but Fun

With the excitement that Halloween brings with it, not surprisingly, kid programming is joining in on the ghoulish fun!  PBS Kids, an NKT fave, always does a great job on incorporating educational episodes while sharing seasonal shows, and Halloween is no different.

Last week, as part of PBS Kids’ Halloween-inspired programming, the animal exploration series, Wild Kratts, (think: Animal Planet for the grade school set) highlighted all kinds of creatures during Predator Week.  The Kratt brothers explored fierce predators such as great white sharks, wolves, cheetahs and raptors.  With Great Whites in the news so much recently, the episodes from Predator Week couldn’t be more timely.  Be sure to keep an eye out for these fun episodes.

On Dinosaur Train, the kids set off for an adventure at the Haunted Roundhouse and explore the spookiness of the “unknown.” Like many families do as part of an Autumn rite of passage, in the Big Pond Pumpkin Patch, the dinosaurs learn all about gourds, pumpkins and everything else that makes the pumpkin patch so fun.

On The Cat in the Hat Knows a lot About That! Nick, Sally and Cat go trick or treating and learn about some fruity non, candy treats.  They also meet a “scary” creature who teaches them a few new things, including how he eats bugs!

Everyone’s favorite inquisitive scientist in training, Sid The Science Kid, encounters his own scary adventures in the “Halloween Spooky Science Special.

We’re a fan of most of the shows on PBS Kids, whether they’re geared to the preschooler or not, so we always find these holiday-themed shows a great way to learn even more about how everyone celebrates these fun holidays, even the animals!  After screening these Halloween-themed episodes, I learned that my guy is totally mesmerized by The Wild Kratts, even though it’s targeted to the older crowd (ages 8 and up).  The episodes were a perfect primer for our recent trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom; he even took away some of the lessons he learned from the show and applied them to our visit!

Check your local listings for air dates and times!

Check it

On a related note, last week, PBS Kids launched 40 new games which are aimed to help children ages 2-8 build critical math skills. The games comprise PBS Kids’ largest offering of interactive math content for preschoolers to date. The games are centered around various PBS Kids media properties, ranging from Curious George to Sid the Science Kid.

My guy is a huge fan of Curious George’s Monkey Jump.  Jumping, counting and Curious George? Count him in!  These are the kind of games that will be sure to keep us busy when we start hibernating!

THE Mom of Moms: Q and A with Marion Ross

She’s played feisty grandmas, cartoon grandmas and not-so-perfect matriarchs, but many of us know Marion Ross best as the perfectly-coiffed Mrs. C., Richie and Joanie Cunningham’s Mom from Happy Days.  Back before the internet and too many electronic devices, there were tv shows like Happy Days that celebrated the perfectly imperfect nuclear family of a different era.  She may have tangoed with the Fonz and disciplined Richie and Joanie, but Mrs. Cunningham will forever be THE mom of moms.

Tonight, The Hub will be playing the best of Mrs. C, a Happy Days marathon in honor of Mother’s Day. Marion Ross took the time to chat with me about her iconic role as Mrs. Cunningham and shared wise words for single moms, working moms and new moms.  And you guessed it:  Marion was just as effervescent as Mrs. C.

NKT: Hi, Marion!  So, what do you think the kids are saying about the upcoming Happy Days marathon?

MR: I think the new generation isn’t too familiar with Happy Days, but when I tell the young kids that I’m Sponge Bob Square Pants’ grandma, they’re all a-twitter.  And then they show me their Sponge Bob underwear!

NKT: How did your role on Happy Days influence your own experience offscreen as a mother?

MR: It was very handy for me because I would practice at work and play “house” with Richie and Joanie, and my own children at home were about 3 years younger.  So, my kids wouldn’t have had their “situations” yet, and I could study it a bit, which help me a lot.  I was always a step ahead of my kids.  I always loved how the writers treated the crises on the show.  I was a single mother, divorced, so I’m sure I would’ve been more nervous and panicky, but the writers always treated it as a journey—as a very ordinary thing.  The first time Richie drinks, it wasn’t the end of the world;  these are natural things that happen along the line.  The first kiss, all of that; it helped me prepare for what was next with my own kids.

NKT:
Obviously, Moms of this generation are different from a few decades ago, but mother’s intuition is timeless.  What piece of advice would you offer to new moms?

MR: For new moms I have to tell them to “not miss this.”  Don’t miss THIS; everyone gets so busy with careers and chores, it’s easy to forget to take it all in.  The young years go by so fast, it’s so important to take time to really enjoy time with your kids or you’re going to miss it.  First things first:  somebody said that to me, way back when I was fretting about my career.  I think that’s why a show like Happy Days is so treasured because, in a way, many of us would like to get some of those simpler times back.

NKT: Do you have any wisdom that you’d like to share with working moms? How did you balance it all?

MR: I think I did a good job balancing it all.  I was single, but I was able to balance it all because I didn’t have a personal life.  I had work, but going to work was fun because I got to play “house.”  And first of all, I didn’t know how to have a personal life.  And when you don’t know how to do it, you just don’t have it.  And once the work got successful, I had so much paperwork and trivia.  Someone said to me, “What’s your reward now?’ Now you get to work harder than ever.” That’s when I thought, I don’t have enough help.  So when you find the extra money and can afford it, I’d recommend getting help.  It can be too much for one person to handle.  And then I got an assistant who became my everything;  my husband, my helper…
When I had littler children, I didn’t have a dishwasher or a dryer; I had to cart everything to the corner to get it all done.  Nowadays, we have everything.

NKT: What are some your takeaways from your role on Happy Days?  Any memorable scenes/episodes that still resonate?

MR: One of my favorites was when I danced the Tango with the Fonz.  Another one was where I tried to revitalize my marriage and bellydanced for Howard.  The writers never asked you if you could do these things, they just wrote them and we did it.  It was always so fun and interesting.

Read More

Bubble Guppies Debuts on Nick

Bubble Guppies, a colorful CGA preschool series that follows the adventures of an inquisitive school of fishtails, is set to debut on Nickelodeon. Created by the team who brought us the poignant show, Little Bill and the cheerful Backyardigans, Bubble Guppies, like most Nick Jr. shows geared to the preschool set, has an educational emphasis on kindergarten readiness specifically, math literacy, the arts, science and soci-emotional development.

The Bubble Guppies embrace kids’ curiosity and penchant for asking questions by following the Guppies’ everyday discoveries. Co-hosts of the show are Gil, described as an energetic and adventures boy, and Molly, who is described to be the bubbly one who is friends with everyone. Gil and Molly are joined by friends, Deema, Nonny, Oona, Goby, Mr. Grouper, Bubble Puppy and Little Fish.

In addition to teaching lessons from everyday discoveries, the Bubble Guppies’ adventures are complemented with a little song and dance.

Vibrant colors, cute characters and a relatable scope combine to make Bubble Guppies’ a fun addition to Nick Jr.’s preschool lineup, offering both musical and educational value.

In the pilot episode “Call a Clambulance,” we follow Oona’s fish friend Avi who falls off his tricycle and breaks a bone in his tail.

Read More

The Wizard of Oz Turns 71

Today marks The Wizard of Oz’s 71st anniversary, and a variety of sites are celebrating this milestone with fun facts, features and more.

Did you see Google today?  The Google Doodle of the day is an image of Dorothy and the gang embarking down the yellow brick road, with Oz in the distance, and letters that spell out ‘Google’ subtly placed.

 

The Wizard of Oz was based on a children’s novel written by Frank Baum, which was originally named The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  The book-turned-groundbreaking film has touched generations of children with its whimsical story and the magic of ‘dreaming’ in Technicolor.

Read More

Sunny Day: Behind the Scenes at Sesame Street

October 20 was a sunny day for me. In fact, the clouds—yeah—-they were swept away, too.
Oh yeah, I found the way to Sesame Street.

IMG_1676
By way of a shuttle bus, along with several other NYC parent and family-oriented bloggers, I had the unique opportunity to visit Kaufman Astoria studios, home to one of the most beloved streets in history. After we made our way over the Queensboro Bridge, we found ourselves in Astoria, Queens, which is where the studio is located. The white exterior of the studio was a definite contrast to the color and character that resides inside.

IMG_1653IMG_1659
IMG_1654IMG_1651

In the room where we gathered, we were greeted by some vintage Sesame Street photos, along with a few plush versions of our favorite muppets. But in addition to the familiar pictoral renderings of Sesame Street’s past, there was a blown up screenshot of a new CGI segment that features the cutest fairy in training, Abby Cadabby, as well as a few promotional posters. But it was the exclusive behind the scenes tour of THE Street that made my heart skip a beat.

IMG_1650
Sesame Street which celebrates its 40th anniversary this month, quite simply, is an institution. The characters, storylines, songs, special guests—they’ve all moved us for generations (figuratively and literally!)

Considering they don’t offer tours to the public, to receive an invitation to see Sesame Street in action can definitely be grouped in my “awesome” life experiences.

IMG_1702IMG_1694
IMG_1735IMG_1739
IMG_1717

IMG_1722

IMG_1823The extremely cordial gang at Sesame Street, including Abby Cadabby and her muppeteer/performer, the very cool and funny Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, gave us a guided tour of the Street itself. I had the chance to gawk at Hooper’s Store, take a photo beneath the Sesame Street sign, oggle at Chris doing a silly song and dance with muppets (about Apps!) and admire the creativity of the puppeteers, handlers, directors, cameramen and all of the crew.

What goes on behind the scenes at Sesame Street transcends the word, “amazing!”

To gather a group of people that talented and passionate, it’s really no wonder why the show has been around for FORTY YEARS.

The upcoming season, which premiers on PBS on November 10, will feature guest appearances by Cameron Diaz, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jeff Gordon, Adam Sandler, Jimmy Fallon, Ricky Gervais, Jason Mraz, Judah Friedlander and many others. I learned that one of my faves, Jason Mraz was extremely excited about his Sesame Street experience and seemed borderline stalkerish. haha. Cute! (For the record, I probably seemed full-on stalkerish)

Beyond being loved by so many generations, what’s so fabulous about Sesame Street is, they do what they can to stay ahead of the curve. For example, inviting NYC-area bloggers and engaging with us to create that important dialogue was huge. Even further, one of the reasons Sesame Street invited bloggers was to share their latest developments, so that we, in turn, could share with our readers/followers/whom ever will listen.

A chance to hang out with Abby Cadabby and sit in Big Bird’s Nest?  Um, yes, please!

IMG_1785

To emphasize its 40th year of awesomeness in children’s media, Sesame Street upped its ante with its digital presence. In particular, their website, Sesamestreet.org, became even more child-friendly, in terms of navigation, lively graphics and interactive features. When you first log on, you’re greeted by a familiar-faced Muppet, which is sure to lure in the kidlets. You, or shall I say the kids, can create a “My Street” option to personalize their Sesamestreet.org page. But it’s the new games that stand out to me…er, I mean, the kid.

IMG_1808

All the games are, once again, extremely child-friendly and interactive. The games can be navigated by character (so hard to choose!), theme (the fall ones are so fun and timely) and subject (we’re fans of the art games.) They can also be added to the My Street option, which gives you easy access to those games that you know and love. What I love most about the new games is that some of them are perfect for the littlest kids who don’t quite have a grasp on keyboard functionality, but show an interest in say, animals.

While I’m not one to park a teeny tiny kid in front of a computer for hours at a time, every once in awhile, it’s fun to let my 2-year old do a little click clacking for a change. With the Old McDonald game, the kid can just peck away at the keys and animals appear with each strike of the keyboard—it’s like magic!

sesamestreet

In addition to all the games, the site has tabs for other interactive features such as Playlists and Video. We’re a dancing and singing kind of family, so I love playing the different songs to dance along with the kid. The video features are so fantastic for parents to share their love of Sesame Street with their kids. Alongside of the newer segments [Neil Patrick Harris as the Shoe Fairy is my favorite modern guest appearance video] of the shows are awesome classics, like ones with Kermit, Bert and Ernie and Cookie Monster. Just like the games, the videos and playlists can be navigated by character, theme and subject.

IMG_1792

But Sesame Street hasn’t forgotten about the parents. On the parents tab, I love how there’s a different media for milestones [we just watched “cookie is a sometime food” under the 2 years tab] and links to all the goings on at Sesame Street. One of the newer features, however, is the inclusion of B is for Blog: Sesame Family Robinson. It’s written by Marty Robinson who plays Telly Monster and Snuffleupagus and Annie Evans, a writer for Sesame Street.

Their blog gives parents an insider’s look of a true Sesame Street family. Recently married on set, they are now the proud parents of twins, Lyra and Ripley. After meeting Marty and Annie (and their cutie twins, too) on the set, as well as during lunch, suffice it to say, Sesame Street is a family show—in more ways than one. Not only has the show spent the past four decades of making us laugh, sing and dance while talking about family-related topics, the people who make the show happen ARE one giant family. And thanks for the kind shout out, too! [Babyrific is my mama blog]

In Big Bird's Nest

And from the bottom of my heart, it really, truly was an honor to experience the deep family bond on THE actual Sesame Street. It’s my hope that my kid will go on to share the same love of The Street with HIS kids one day.
Feather_badge_120x90
Happy 40th Sesame Street, thanks for all the laughs, dancing, singing and Muppet fun!

All aboard the Dinosaur Train

The Dinosaur Train, a new tv series for preschoolers from the Jim Henson Company, is set to debut on September 7 on PBS Kids, just in time for the new school year. The CGI-animated series, aimed at 3-6 year olds, will combine two preschoolers’ favorites—trains and dinosaurs—while encouraging interest in science, specifically natural history and paleontology.

dtrainThe Dinosaur Train’s premise follows Buddy, who is adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Pteranodon, and brought to their nest to hatch at the same time as his new siblings, Tiny, Shiny and Don. The show will follow the family’s adventures as they travel around in the Dinosaur Train checking out the prehistoric world and learning about other dinosaurs along the way.

This isn’t the Jim Henson Company’s first foray with CGI animation.  In fact,buddy perhaps one of their most notable new shows, the parent and kid favorite, Sid the Science Kid, is a CGI-animated show that focuses on science, and was recently nominated for 2009 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Animated Program.
If the popularity of the Emmy-nominated Sid the Science Kid is any indication, I have a feeling that The Dinosaur Train will be a another big hit and a great natural history-focused addition in the educational media sector.

The full website is expected to launch in August, but in the meantime, be sure to meet Buddy and the gang on The Dinosaur Train’s preliminary website.

Photo credit: PBS

Hasbro will be one to watch

…quite literally, perhaps.

logo_1

discovery_logo_1It was reported last week that Hasbro and Discovery Communications are partnering up to launch a new tv network and website, built around toys that many of us—and now, our kids—have grown to love. New programming will be based on shows, toys and games such as Romper Room, Trivial Pursuit, Cranium, My little Pony, G.I. Joe, Transformers, among others.
Discovery Kids Channel, which currently touts shows such as Bindi the Jungle Girl and Hip Hop Harry will be replaced by the yet-to-be-named channel that is set to debut in 2010.

Moms and dads, what are your thoughts on this new format?

PBS Kids Go! and PBS Kids Celebrate Earth Day

Need extra help instilling the green for the kiddie’s routine for Earth Day?  Well, good news:  PBS Kids and PBS Kids Go! will celebrate Earth Day with the fourth installment of PBS Kids Share the Earth Day. A new Web-based Earth Day Channel is set to launch at pbskidsgo.org, too. New episodes of Curious George, Arthur and Cyberchase will be featured on PBS Kids in honor of the Earth Day celebration. george And that’s not all, favorites from shows like Super Why!, Sid the Science Kid and more will reflect Earth Day celebrations as well.

Online, there will be a plethora of eco-focused content on pbskidsgo.org, pbskids.org, PBS Parents and PBS Teachers.
The new PBS Kids Go! video player will host an Earth Day channel with themed content from Arthur, Design Green, The Greens and Maya & Miguel, which is geared to teach kids how to share the Earth. In addition to Web content from PBS Kids Go! TV series, Web-exclusive sites such as Eekoworld— an environment where kids create their own creatures and monitor them in the wild — and The Greens — a pbskidsgo.org series about the Green family and their exploration of sustainability, ecology and environmental care — will further explore what it means to be green.

Oh, and as if we didn’t already know, PBS Kids and PBS Kids Go! programming are among the most education-rich offerings on television, according to a report released by independent research and advocacy organization Children Now.  How’s that for green and educational influence?