By Kevin McDonough
How do you broadcast when you've run out of shows? Fox has opted for something called "Celebrity Watch Party" (8 p.m., Fox). Basically, it shows bold-faced names quarantined in their houses, wearing sweatpants and watching …
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How do you broadcast when you've run out of shows? Fox has opted for something called "Celebrity Watch Party" (8 p.m., Fox). Basically, it shows bold-faced names quarantined in their houses, wearing sweatpants and watching Netflix like the rest of us.
Few people really want to see big Hollywood stars acting just like regular people. Viewers want to be distracted, inspired and entertained by performers playing larger-than-life characters. Seeing them at home on a Zoom feed just like everybody in your "office" dispels the magic.
Sometimes people react rather strongly to these efforts. A recent singalong of John Lennon's "Imagine," arranged by "Wonder Woman" star Gal Gadot, provoked jeers and outrage. Some recoiled at the sight of rich people singing "Imagine no possessions." But much of the negativity revolved around how sloppy and amateurish it seemed.
Most of us don't get enormous sums of money for play-acting. So when actors pretend to be "just like everybody else," they are not merely failing to act, inspire or entertain, they are effectively lying to their audience. And that's what makes people mad.
• TCM spends the night celebrating the films and career of Edward G. Robinson, one of the most recognizable actors, faces and voices of mid-century Hollywood. The marathon begins with "Little Caesar" (8 p.m., TCM), a breakout role for Robinson and a seminal gangster movie, a popular Depression-era genre at a time when audiences thrilled to see the rise and fall of outsized characters living outside the law.
Robinson's most memorable gangster role is opposite Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in "Key Largo" (12:30 a.m.). Robinson also appears in the organized crime thriller "Bullets or Ballots" (2:30 a.m.) and "The Little Giant" (4 a.m.), about a social-climbing ex-bootlegger.
With his adenoidal snarl and ever-present cigar, Robinson was among the more impersonated actors of his era. For years, Billy Crystal incorporated a take on Robinson's character Dathan from Cecil B. DeMille's "Ten Commandments" in his act. The early 1960s cartoon "Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse" featured "The Frog," a criminal mastermind clearly modeled on Robinson.
Born in Bucharest to Yiddish-speaking parents, Robinson was very active in anti-Nazi activities in the 1930s and '40s. During the McCarthy era, many such activists were accused of being "premature anti-fascists," and Robinson saw acting opportunities dry up as he battled charges of Communist sympathies.
For his final movie, fate would reunite Robinson with his "Ten Commandments" co-star Charlton Heston. Robinson is seen self-administering euthanasia in the 1973 dystopian thriller "Soylent Green." He died only weeks after that scene was shot.
TCM will devote every Thursday night in May to Robinson's movies. Among favorites, look out for "Brother Orchid" (late night, May 14) "Double Indemnity" (May 21) and "Scarlet Street" (May 28). "Solent Green" airs on May 22.
TONIGHT'S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
• Jimmy Kimmel hosts "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
• Jane receives help from an unknown source as "Blindspot" (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14) enters its fifth season.
• Andy's roots are showing on "Station 19" (9 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
• Tommy fights the cabal out to have her removed on "Tommy" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
• A serial predator targets gay bars on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
• Annalise's trial approaches on "How to Get Away with Murder" (10 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
A directionless slacker (Jack Black) inspires his classroom in the 2003 comedy "School of Rock" (7 p.m., HBO) directed by Richard Linklater.
Tolkien resistance on "Young Sheldon" (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-PG) * Robin and Larry consider the future of the crab shack on "Council of Dads" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-14) * Opening Day looms at the Pepper Plant on "Katy Keene" (8 p.m., CW, TV-14) * A house flip hits home on "Man With a Plan" (8:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) * Tammy needs support on "Mom" (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) * Murphy helps Max on "In the Dark" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14) * Pew research on "Broke" (9:30 p.m., CBS, r, TV-PG).
Lizzy Caplan appears on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS, TV-14) * Jimmy Fallon welcomes Queen Latifah, Pete Davidson, Judd Apatow and James Taylor on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC) * Courteney Cox appears on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:35 p.m., ABC) * Kelly Clarkson and Rep. Ayanna Pressley visit "Late Night With Seth Meyers" (12:35 a.m., NBC) * Ellie Goulding visits "The Late Late Show With James Corden" (12:37 a.m., CBS).
© 2020, United Feature Syndicate
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