In cozy Oak Park, black students face a swirl of emotions

Oak Park, Ill., is a gorgeous place. I've gone there to admire the Frank Lloyd Wright creations; I'll return to see some of the Hemingway roots. But even in this good-natured town, known for segregation and diversity, black teens can feel ill-at-ease. Now a well-made  documentary series focuses on them. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

Charles Donalson
figured he was an odd choice for a big-deal documentary.

Technology delivers some bloody,messy fun

TV -- especially cable-TV -- is not the domain of pregnant pauses and subtle undetstatement. It goes for big, splashy fun ... and few shows splash quite as vigorously as "Ash vs. Evil Dead." The second-season opener arrives Sunday (Oct. 2) and reruns often; here's the story I sent to papers:


By Mike Hughes

Two centuries later, a new Blackbeard is ready to rule

The people at Starz use the word "epic" a lot. Fortunately, they have the shows to back it up. "Black Sails," which returns Saturday (Jan. 23),is a massive series ... and now has added a massive actor who seems to fit. Ray Stevenson is an engaging chap offscreen and a menacing soul onscreen. Here's the story I sent to papers:


By Mike Hughes

"Evil Dead" becomes never-dead, the eternal movie

The first time I heard of "Evil Dead" was when a guy named Bruce Campbell walked into a newspaper office, insisting he was an actor who'd just made a movie. The latest time I heard of it was now -- 35 years later -- with a cable series opening. By now, of course, Campbell and "Evil Dead" have become key parts of the pop-culture landscape. Here's the story I sent to papers:


Bluntly speaking, Patrick Stewart does it all

When I turn 75, I highly doubt that a dozen chorus-line beauties will want to chat with me, much less dance with me. But then again, I'm not Sir Patrick Stewart, a master of past kingdoms and future universes. Stewart is remarkable in "Blunt Talk," which debuts Saturday on Starz, rerunning often. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

Ah, the pirates' life for these guys

"Black Sails" returns Saturday (Jan. 24), getting its new season off to a strong start. Here's the story I sent to papers, about the show's stars:


Two powerful forces – the sea and the stage – rippled through the
childhoods of the “Black Sails” stars.

Da Vinci is back -- a little wiser and (as usual) in a lot of trouble

Television rarely tries anything that is epic in look and tone and subject. Now, fortunately, "Da Vinci's Demons" is back; it's even better than the first year, because its central character (Leonardo da Vinci, no less) has added depth. Here's the story I sent to papers:


Brits give us the best pirates and dowagers

TV viewers don't expect much on Saturdays ... except on Starz. That's the cable channel that has given us "Da Vinci's Demons," "Dancing on the Edge," "Boss" and, especially, "White Queen." Now it has "Black Sails," a pirate epic.

If you miss the Jan. 25 debut, don't fret. That will rerun Feb. 1, right before the second episode; it also has several more reruns before that. Here's the story I sent to papers, with the various times listed at the end:

Who knew? The former Guinevere sings like an angel

This Saturday (Oct. 19) is clearly Starz day on cable. At 9 p.m., the splendid "White Queen" mini-series concludes with kingdoms at stake. And at 10:05, "Dancing at the Edge" -- quieter, subtler, yet equally well-crafted -- begins. One of its strengths is Angel Coulby's superb singing; here's the story I sent to papers:

At last, the softer side of Starz

For a while, the Starz cable channel seemed entrenched in its niche.

"Spartacus" was fiercely macho, "Boss" was darkly psychological, "DaVinci's Demons" and "Magic City" (which has a terrific season-finale at 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9) were both.

But now "White Queen" debuts Saturday (plus an advance showing Friday) -- at first warm, romantic and embracing.