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Category: Entertainment

From Kearny to Hollywood: How Thomas Schnauz made it big on the small screen


By Kevin Canessa Jr.
Observer Correspondent

If you’re a fan of “Breaking Bad” — and let’s face it, you really should be — you’ve probably seen his name in the opening credits countless times. He’s a producer and writer for the series that in just a few short seasons, became one of the most popular TV shows in American history — and one of the most watched ever on cable TV.

His name is Thomas Schnauz, and until he was age 10, he called Kearny home. In the time since he lived here — Ann and Drew Taylor are his aunt and uncle and still live in Kearny — he’s gone on to be one of the most prolific TV writers of a generation. And yet, he still fondly recalls, to this day, many great memories of growing up in West Hudson.

“I spent a lot of time in Kearny when I was younger. I was born there and grew up on Highland Ave., and went to school through the fourth grade at Garfield Elementary,” Schnauz told The Observer exclusively. “Even after my mom, dad, sister and I moved to South Jersey when I was 10, I’d come back at Christmas and the summer to visit grandparents and friends. I don’t get back as much as I’d like (now). When my grandmother, Dorothy Yobs, moved down to South Jersey, that’s when my visits started to tail off. When I can take a detour between South Jersey and New York City, I try to get fish and chips on Kearny Ave.” Read more »

‘Law & Order UK’ brings twists that couldn’t work in the USA




By Kevin Canessa Jr.
Observer Correspondent 

If you’re a fan of the “Law and Order” series — and let’s face it, who in America hasn’t at one point or another sat down to watch one or more episodes of the many versions of the show? — you certainly know how intense the show is here stateside.

What many don’t know is that for the last six years, there’s been a British version of “Law and Order” — all episodes are based on the original American version — and it’s by far the best created to date.

As is often the case in the U.K., the seasons of “Law and Order UK” are quite short. There have been eight “series” or seasons and the most there’s ever been in a series is 13 episodes. The current series, the eighth, ended late in April with eight episodes.

There are some major parallels in the show. And some noticeable differences.

The show starts off with the words familiar to American viewers: “In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups.” But it changes here. “The police who investigate crime, and the Crown Prosecutors who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.”

In the U.K., the Crown Prosecutors handle prosecutions. Read more »

Walker’s potential realized in ‘Brick Mansions’

Stills from the film “Brick Mansions”



By Anthony J. Machcinski 

Observer Correspondent 

Sometimes you just don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Such is the case with the late actor Paul Walker.

During his career, Walker became famous for his role as Brian O’Conner in “The Fast and the Furious” film series, but never could see much success outside the adrenaline-fueled series.

Before his death in a car accident last November, Walker had three films that had been completed but not yet released.

“Brick Mansions,” which came out in April, was one of those final movies. It finally seemed like the film where Walker found his niche as an actor.

In his early movies, Walker was often cast as the blond-haired, blue-eyed California good guy – as exemplified by the first “The Fast and the Furious” movie in 2001. While Walker excelled here in his role as the pretty boy cop, he could not successfully replicate the same type of character in other films.

However, the latest installments of “The Fast and Furious” series rejuvenated his career. While many attributed this to the success of the franchise and not Walker’s acting, “Brick Mansions” proves that to be false.

In “Brick Mansions,” Walker plays Det. Damien Collier, a Detroit cop who teams up with vigilante Lino Dupree (played by David Belle) to stop drug lord Tremaine Alexander (played by rapper RZA).

While films prior to “Brick Mansions” miscast Walker as the pretty boy, this film places Walker in the role he was born to play – the unlikely thrill seeker who takes chances to accomplish the mission.

From the opening seconds of the movie, adrenaline junkies are thrown right into the action, with Walker chasing down criminals by any means possible.

Breakout for Belle? 

While Walker shines throughout the film, Belle could become the next breakout action star with “Brick Mansions” as his foundation. Prior generations of action films had their own breakout stars that brought with them a certain style of action.

Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger brought big muscles and bigger guns to create their own action. Jet Li and Jean-Claude Van Damme used speed and martial arts to create their action stardom.

Belle, however, could spawn the next action film revolution with a parkour-infused fighting style.

Parkour, a holistic training regimen developed in France, is the idea of getting from one point to another in the quickest way possible. This involves jumping over walls, climbing fences, jumping down staircases and mainly, getting through obstacles in the quickest way possible.

Belle was one of the primary developers of parkour in France and bringing him in for this film just added value to the film’s already great plot. Throughout the film, Belle can be seen jumping off walls to punch an enemy, sliding through their legs and using his parkour knowledge to run away from the bad guys.

It is this unique style of parkour-infused fight scenes that separates “Brick Mansions” from other action films. Viewers would be hard-pressed to find another action film that showcases a more unique style of fighting.

While the action scenes in the film will amaze viewers throughout the film, the plot will keep them in their seats. Even with many of the film’s actors – Walker as the exception – being lesser names, the acting in the film is superb and filled with an energy that bigger names may not have been able to back up.

As a whole, “Brick Mansions” was worth more than the price of admission. While the movie may not capture much attention in the leadup to the summer movie season, it could still become a big break for many of the lesser known actors, like Belle, as well as a capstone to the career of Paul Walker.

For those points alone, this movie gets an 8.5 out a possible 10.

Jersey Sound plays Whiskey Cafe Saturday

Photos courtesy www.jerseysound.com
Jersey Sound during a performance at Riverside Manor.

By Anthony J. Machcinski 

Observer Correspondent 

Using decades of experience gained in prior bands, Jersey Sound has become one of the area’s top oldies bands. Jersey Sound will draw upon that same experience when they perform at Lyndhurst’s Whiskey Café this Saturday.

Jersey Sound was formed in 2005 by guitarist Phil Bruno, who had broken away from a prior band and was looking for a fresh start.

“We [Jersey Sound members] knew each other throughout the years,” Bruno said. “We had mutual friends and said we wanted to get something new.”

The band is composed of area residents vocalists Jim Cotugno and Michael Delvey, drummer Pete Del Vecchio, keyboardist Dom DiGioia, Bruno on guitar, and bass guitarist Paul Tarlow.

For both Bruno and Del Vecchio, the journey into the music industry began when they were kids.

“My parents sent me for accordion lessons and I didn’t really like it,” Del Vecchio said. “A year or so later, I was playing ball and I kept hearing this guy playing drums. I told my parents and then I went back for drum lessons.”

Bruno got his start listening to fellow Belleville resident Tommy DeVito with The Four Seasons.

“The Four Seasons were a big influence on me,” Bruno said. “(DeVito) grew up in my neighborhood so they were huge for me.”

Despite its members’ different backgrounds, the band has bonded through a common dedication towards their craft.

“It’s more than just a group of musicians,” Bruno said. “This group we have is more like a family. Everyone feels for one another.”

Bruno said that what separates Jersey Sound from other bands is that dedication and the lack of overbearing personalities in the band.

“The one thing about this band – there is no jealousy or egos,” Bruno said. “Everyone is on the same level and I think that’s a big part of having a successful band.”

While the group performs a wide variety of songs from the 1960s and 1970s, the group hopes that it will be more known for its diversity.

“We used to do a lot of ’50s music, then we decided to move on into the ’60s and ’70s, doing the music that most groups aren’t doing,” Bruno explained. “The Turtles, The Buckinghams, The Zombies. When you hear these songs, you say, ‘I remember that song,’ but not many bands are doing it. “What I want to do with this group are things nobody else is doing.”

It appears as if Jersey Sound, and their reputation as one of the best oldies bands in the area, hit the mark with their goal.

In 2012, the band recorded and released its first CD, the 12-track album titled “Sandy Sessions.” While the infamous hurricane of that name battered the East Coast, Jersey Sound remained Jersey Strong and hunkered down – recording all 12 tracks of the album.

“We started recording it the day Sandy hit,” said Del Vecchio. “People loved it.”

The album features a wide variety of hits, including The Turtles’ “Happy Together,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart” and Elvis Presley’s “The Wonder of You.”

Each song on the “Sandy Sessions” album is a hit, and not just because the original bands made the songs hits years ago. Jersey Sound has its own unique sound.

From the first track, “Hungry Heart,” to the final track, “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers, Jersey Sound provides all the sound anyone can ask for – from perfect harmonies to soulful background music. The band’s dedication to each track can be discerned in every note heard, whether through a set of speakers at a venue or a set of headphones in your home.

While Jersey Sound continues to play gigs throughout the area, their eyes are still set on the future and bigger venues. The band is expected to record their second CD, which includes some original music.

“Our goal is to be as good as we can be,” Bruno said. “We want to be one of New Jersey’s best oldies bands. We do this for the love of the music.”

Killing Horse label marks 4th anniversary

Photos courtesy www.killinghorserecords.com
The bands Cicada Radio (top) and Secret Country (bottom), both of Kearny are just two of the
groups under the Killing Horse Records label.



By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent 

Since 2010, a great deal of things have changed in the area. Among those things, the Pulaski Skyway shutdown in one direction, Kearny got a Wawa and Lyndhurst completed the building of a new football field. Heck, even the Passaic River continues to get cleaned up.

While many of those things have changed, one thing that has remained constant is the Killing Horse Records recording label, a strong independent label out of Kearny that celebrated its fourth anniversary this year.

“We’re psyched to be able to still be doing this thing,” said Killing Horse co-founder Mike Sylvia. “A lot of labels that start from the ground up, like us, have fizzled out. We feel like we are consistently moving forward which is all we can ask for.”

Sylvia and co-founder Ryan Gross founded the label in 2010 out of a Kearny Ave. apartment as a chance to get better publicity for the Kearny band Secret Country.

“During that time, Secret Country was putting out their first full length record,” Sylvia said. “We started the company to take care of all the behind the scenes stuff and from there, we were able to help out other bands.”

Sylvia and Gross also saw an opportunity to aid other bands in the area, not just Secret Country.

“We saw that there was a need to document the music that was coming out of the area,” Sylvia said. “Also, we felt that if a few of us could pool our resources together we would be able to get things done more efficiently. That model still seems to work for us.”

While the label started booking shows at the Kearny Irish- American Club with local bands, its real success was gaining valuable resources throughout the music industry.

“What we found was that we made a ton of contacts,” Sylvia said. “Between bloggers, press people, all the people you need to know to stay afloat. It was really essential for us even though it didn’t translate monetarily.”

Even with Killing Horse’s success, Sylvia said he never looked at the long-term future of the label early in his career.

“We don’t really think in those kinds of terms,” Sylvia said. “We just try to put out records and look to fund the next record.”

Since they started in 2010, Sylvia said the label has accumulated lots of valuable information.

“We’ve had a chance to learn about lots of different parts of the industry, so putting out a record for us is easy now,” Sylvia said. “As long as we have the budget, we plan on putting out lots of records in the future.”

However, the biggest lesson the label founders have learned is to stick to their guns and not be afraid.

“One of the biggest lessons we have learned is that it’s okay to make mistakes,” Sylvia explained. “Keep your ideals, don’t change.”

Even with all the label’s growing pains over the last four years, Sylvia and Gross never wavered from their dream.

“We love doing it,” Sylvia said. “There was a time we thought we couldn’t afford doing what we love, sure, but we do what we can and we are fine with that.”

While the label has continued to grow and gain experience, the number of the bands under the Killing Horse label has increased as well. Those bands include Secret Country, Cicada Radio, Overlake, Wreaths and TV Sound.

As for the future of the label, Sylvia hopes to continue building the label’s reputation as a cornerstone for the independent music scene.

“We just want to continue to grow, to put out records and help make it a little easier for the independent music scene to stay alive,” Sylvia said.

With several new records on the horizons, including a new Life Eaters record and other projects, Killing Horse Records enters its fifth year stronger than ever and with an even brighter future.

Costner, Garner star in ‘Draft Day’

Photos courtesy Google Images

Photos courtesy Google Images


By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

Even though the real NFL draft was pushed back several weeks from its normal mid-April date, football die-hards trying to get a little fix of football are afforded the opportunity to see the new film “Draft Day.”
The film, which released earlier this month, starts Kevin Costner as Sonny Weaver Jr., the general manager of the Cleveland Browns. After a 6-10 season the previous year, Weaver is charged with turning Cleveland’s seventh overall pick into a player that can turn the struggling Browns franchise around.
“Draft Day” also features Jennifer Garner as Weaver’s newly pregnant girlfriend, and Chadwick Boseman, who plays top linebacker Vontae Mack.
Throughout the film, Costner faces extreme pressure to turn the franchise around from powerful owner Anthony Molina (Frank Langella), hard-nosed Coach Penn (Denis Leary) and a Cleveland Browns fan base starved for a Super Bowl win.
As GM, Costner is forced to wheel and deal with his seventh overall pick, and has to make tough decisions when attractive offers come his way.
While the film features a laundry list of star power, the sports world is well represented as well. Draft cornerstones such as ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., Chris Berman and Jon Gruden along with NFL Network stars Rich Eisen, Mike Mayock and Deion Sanders all play themselves, while Houston Texans running back Arian Foster plays draft hopeful Ray Jennings.
While “Draft Day” could give some football fans the scratch needed to itch their football addiction, the movie falls short of being a great movie due to its inability to identify a target audience.
Diehard football fans, like myself, are required to eliminate the memory of last season – a hard task considering the team with the number 1 pick in the film, the Seattle Seahawks, just won the Super Bowl in real life.
Those strictly seeking a drama film out of “Draft Day” will be a bit confused as to the intricacies of analyzing a potential player: for example, why it matters to an NFL team that none of a player’s college teammates attended his birthday party.
For an NFL fan seeking the true behind-the- scenes look at an NFL front office, “Draft Day” certainly isn’t it. In the real NFL, a team wouldn’t wait until the day of the draft to begin orchestrating some of the trades Costner creates in the film.
Those seeking that behind-the-scenes look at draft operations should be guided to Nicholas Dawidoff’s book “Collision Low Crossers.” In the book, Dawidoff, a contributor to the New York Times and New Yorker, lives with the 2011 New York Jets – from the 2011 NFL Draft through the end of the 2011 season.
While reading the 500-page book isn’t exactly the most time-efficient way to learn about the inner workings of an NFL front office, it’s a better telling than the 100-minute film “Draft Day.”
The film, however, is not an entire bust. The film’s attention to small details is simply stunning.
When Costner talks to college coaches on the phone, the coaches are seen decked out in their team’s apparel. When the draft experts break down film on Vontae Mack, they watch tape of Mack at Ohio State playing against Wisconsin.
It’s that attention to detail that helps the film get over its shortcomings, including names a child could think of. (Really? Bo Callahan and Brian Drew are the
best names you could think of for a quarterback?)
While the film is not up to the level as other great football movies as “Friday Night Lights,” “Rudy,” and “Any Given Sunday,” it certainly warrants a better reception
than its output at the box office opening weekend.
In that weekend, “Draft Day” took in $9.75 million at the box office, leading Entertainment Weekly to call the film’s opening weekend “a fumble.”
Personally, while I had to suspend some of my own knowledge of the NFL, “Draft Day” exceeded moderate expectations and is easily worth a rating of 6.5 or 7 out of 10.

Enjoy the oldies with Park Avenue

Photo courtesy www.parkavenuenj.com In red jackets, from l., are George Kistner, Joe “CAP”, Bobby “D”, Mike Fede. In back row, from l., are Orlando Sanzari, Mike Cardinal

Photo courtesy www.parkavenuenj.com
In red jackets, from l., are George Kistner, Joe “CAP”, Bobby “D”, Mike Fede. In back row, from l., are Orlando Sanzari, Mike Cardinal



By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

Music lovers looking to cherish the oldies will have their opportunity on April 25 when the band Park Avenue plays at the brand new Riva Blue in Lyndhurst.

Park Avenue was created three years ago and consists of keyboard player John Lepore, drummer Mark Sole, bassist Mike Cardinale, guitarist Orlando Sanzari and singers Bob D’Angelo, George Kistner, Joe Caporella and Mike Fede.

While the band itself is green in terms of experience playing as a group, the individuals who make up the band all benefit from decades of performing throughout the area. Members of the group have played with such bands as Sidewalk Symphony, Jersey Sound, and the Russ Marlow Show Band.

“We perform music from the ’40s through the ’70s,” said D’Angelo, adding that the group features songs from bands such as The Duprees, The Four Seasons and even some Motown hits.

D’Angelo fell in love with music at a young age, carrying on his dad’s passion.

“My father played the guitar, and he used to come to my school and play,” D’Angelo said. “I played the guitar in Natural High (the younger D’Angelo’s first band) and I used to sing on the corner when I was young.”

D’Angelo became a singer after listening to much of the music of the ’60s and ’70s.

“I said to myself, ‘I want to learn these harmony parts,’” D’Angelo said. “I used to sing the harmony parts in the record. I’ve always heard music since I was a tot. It was just in the blood.”

D’Angelo’s career continued to grow and by 1974, he had started his first band, Natural High, and began singing at several local venues including the Jetty and Big Joe’s Pub, both in Bloomfield.

“I just love singing and I love music,” D’Angelo said. “I just love entertaining.”

The band has played at many of the area’s best locations, including the Whiskey Café in Lyndhurst, The Chandelier in Belleville and will open Riva Blue.

“You really have to hear us to appreciate (our harmonies),” D’Angelo said. “People come up to us after shows and thank us and tell us that we were really great.”

The band’s harmonies have the power to send lovers of the oldies back in time on a musical adventure.

On the band’s cover of Mel Carter’s “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me,” D’Angelo, Fede and Kistner all harmonize behind the vocals of Caporella, creating the soothing, romantic croon that Carter intended the song to hold.

The band also thrills on Jackie Wilson’s ’50s classic “Lonely Teardrops.”

During Park Avenue’s cover, D’Angelo takes the lead while Fede, Kistner and Caporella harmonize behind him. Even with the passing of decades since Wilson released “Lonely Teardrops,” Park Avenue helps breathe life into a song that may have fallen by the wayside over time.

For D’Angelo, getting out and performing in front of large crowds is the ultimate pleasure.

“There’s nothing like getting yourself out there,” D’Angelo explained. “We prefer the larger crowds, naturally, but we just like being out there singing.”

D’Angelo said the band has several tour dates already booked throughout the summer and will continue to perform songs from their most recent CD, “Back in the Day.”

D’Angelo hopes that the band will continue to expand its horizons and perform at new venues, including some outside the state.

“We’re working on trying to get up to the Poconos,” D’Angelo said. “They just opened up a few new places up there. Atlantic City is always another possibility.”

Park Avenue will play Riva Blue in Lyndhurst on Friday, April 25, at 9 p.m., and will follow that up with several performances at The Whiskey Café in Lyndhurst and The Essex Bar & Grill in Bloomfield.

Riva Blue is located at 525 Riverside Ave. in Lyndhurst above King’s Court. For more information on Park Avenue, including its CD “Back in the Day,” visit the band’s website at www.parkavenj.com.

Natural wonders nearby at DeKorte Park

NJMC_web1 black-crowned night heron

Photos courtesy NJMC At DeKorte Park’s shoreboard pool, visitors may spot a Black-crowned Night Heron (middle) or a Snowy Egret (bottom.).

Photos courtesy NJMC
At DeKorte Park’s shoreboard pool, visitors may spot a Black-crowned Night Heron (middle) or a Snowy Egret (bottom.).


By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

Area residents searching for a way to shed winter’s cabin fever don’t need to search far and wide for an opportunity to surround themselves in nature.

At DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst, headquarters of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, nature-lovers from near and far can enjoy the wonders of nature, without having to travel far from their homes.

“DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst is really wonderful,” said NJMC Public Information Officer Brian Aberback. “It’s a true urban ecosystem.”

The NJMC was created in 1969 as an organization that sought to clean the meadowlands and clear the Hackensack River area of orphaned landfills and pollution.

Nearly 45 years later, the NJMC has advanced the cause, with the Hackensack River showing signs of revitalization.

“It wasn’t a pretty place,” said Aberback of the meadowlands in 1969. “This was a time when the Meadows was a wasteland. A regional organization was needed to do the proper cleanup.”

DeKorte Park itself, located at the eastern end of Valley Brook Ave. off Disposal Road, was created in 1982 to give the NJMC a headquarters that would draw “a line in the sand” to save more open wildlife space.

“We saved all this wonderful space from becoming a dumping ground,” said NJMC Communications Officer Jim Wright. “This was the line in the sand where you couldn’t build anymore.”

In total, DeKorte Park spans 110 acres of open wetland, filled with the unique mesh of ever-expanding wildlife and the constantly-growing New York City skyline.

“It’s an urban ecosystem,” Aberback explained. “If you’re driving on the Turnpike, you don’t catch the image (of the Meadowlands). It’s really neat because you’re in the middle of nowhere. You can see the Turnpike in the distance but you can never really hear it.”

Over the past few decades as the river has transitioned “from wasteland to economic jewel,” the park has grown, both in design and in wildlife.

“When the landfills got cleaned, the Hackensack River started getting cleaner,” Aberback said. “Over time, that brought back fish, birds and other wildlife back to the area.”

He continued, “You would never see all the animals that are here today, even like 15 years ago. Things just keep getting cleaner. Compared to what it used to be, it’s really incredible.”

According to Aberback, the park is home to over 280 different species of birds, many that have recently returned to the area with the river’s revitalization.

“DeKorte Park – like the entire Meadowlands District – is located along the Atlantic flyway, one of three major routes used by migratory birds in North America,” Aberback explained.

Wright added, “This is a great place to go birding. Recently, we had 20 people out here looking for the Yellowheaded Blackbird.”

Throughout the years, the park has received dozens of awards for its design, including a Merit Award for Communication from the American Society of Landscape Architects, New Jersey (NJASLA) for signage throughout the park and a Merit Award for Design for the World Trade Center Memorial at the park.

Aberback credits the park’s designers on the awards and the park’s consistent beauty.

“The award-winning park was designed by the NJMC’s certified landscape architects, who worked closely with wetlands scientists, wildlife specialists, and solid waste engineers,” Aberback explained. “Six distinct areas have been developed over 20 years using native plants, recycled materials and sustainable techniques to support the agency’s environmental mandate.”

The park features over 3.5 miles of trails, allowing parkgoers to delve deeper into nature, either by themselves or in guided tours.

However, walking through the park isn’t the only way to experience nature at DeKorte.

During the summer, the NJMC runs boat trips out of River Barge Park in Carlstadt that take visitors throughout the Meadowlands including past DeKorte Park.

“It’s a great way to explore the river,” Aberback said. “We mostly do them during sunset on weekdays throughout the summer. It’s just a great way to see the river.”

Even after sunset, the park continues to provide natural entertainment, with the William D. McDowell Observatory.

The observatory allows stargazers to study planets, constellations and other celestial bodies through a research-grade, highpowered telescope and staff explains what the viewer is seeing.

Aberback said that, regardless of the season, he enjoys being in the park.

“It seems like I always discover something new when I’m out in the park,” Aberback explained. “It can be a bird I’ve never seen before or a flower that I may have passed dozens of times but caught my eye.”

Aberback’s not alone in enjoying the park, as he noted that more than 50,000 people – including 15,000 schoolchildren – visit the park on a yearly basis.

Above everything else, Aberback believes it’s the park’s blend of rural and urban visuals that attracts many of the park’s visitors.

“Overall, it’s the beauty and tranquility of the place,” Aberback said. “When you look and see the Turnpike and the Manhattan skyline in the distance, it’s hard to believe you’re so close, yet so far removed from the daily hustle and bustle. It’s a truly amazing place.”

For more information on DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst, or any of the other NJMC parks, visit www.njmeadowlands. gov. The park is open from dawn until dusk every day. The William D. McDowell Observatory is open in the evenings, from 8 to 10 p.m. in April, 8:30 to 10 p.m. in May; from 9 to 10:30 p.m. in June and July; and from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. in August.

April can be eye-opener for TV, film

Photos courtesy Google Images TOP: “Game of Thrones”; MIDDLE: “Noah”; BOTTOM: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

Photos courtesy Google Images
TOP: “Game of Thrones”; MIDDLE: “Noah”; BOTTOM: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”



By Anthony J . Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

As April arrives, many in the entertainment business are already focused on a stocked summer season of great films and great television. However, with several hit TV shows returning and a couple of anticipated movies about to debut, April can turn out to be the spark that will start the summer’s entertainment firestorm.

With that in mind, let’s review why the entertainment scene in April should command the attention of film and TV fans.


Even with great shows like “The Walking Dead” concluding at the end of March, the small screen scene picks right back up within the first week of April.

The much anticipated return of “Game of Thrones,” now in its fourth season, kicks off April 6. Taken from the series of books of the same name by George R.R. Martin, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” has seemingly everything a person could ask for in a television show – action, drama, bits of comedy and fantasy.

Taking place in medieval times, “Game of Thrones” is based on the story of several families who seek to claim their perceived rightful place as the ruler of the seven kingdoms of Westeros.

The following weekend, AMC premieres the final season of its hit show “Mad Men.” In what will be a series of 14 episodes spread over two years, the series showcases Don Draper – a New York City advertising genius – as he copes with a seemingly endless list of trials and tribulations in his life.

While the show is entering its final season, those who haven’t watched the first six seasons can visit Netflix and stream all the previous episodes. Much like the AMC hit “Breaking Bad,” which concluded its final season this fall, “Mad Men” is sure to be worth the watch.

Not to be overshadowed by the established shows this April, AMC’s brand new drama “Turn” will be one of the top new shows of the spring.

Set in the fall of 1778 during the American Revolution, the show documents a group of spies who help turn the tide in the war. The show is based on the book “Washington’s Spies” by Alexander Rose.

April also features the continuation of several contest shows on television, including NBC’s “The Voice” and ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” both of which have begun to amp up the competition recently.

Cinema Although listed as a March opening, the film “Noah” will expose viewers to most of its early story content in April.

“Noah,” a retelling of the biblical story, features an all-star cast including Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson. The film has received good reviews and has achieved a 7.3 rating out of 10 on IMDB, as rated by over 4,000 users.

However, the first real big-budget film to open in April will be “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

While “Captain America” seems like it would be a sequel to the 2011 movie “Captain America: The First Avenger,” it’s really a follow-up to the most recent “Avengers” movie.

In the film, Captain America, played by Chris Evans, warms to the task of stopping world destruction threatened by a new enemy, The Winter Soldier.

Regardless of what movie it follows, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is another film that won’t disappoint – both in theaters and at the box office.

If superheroes and biblical figures aren’t exactly your thing, fear not. “Oculus,” a terrorfilled suspense thriller, is set to scare theater-goers everywhere.

The film is based on the murder of two parents, believed to have been killed by their young son. After their son, Michael, is released from prison 10 years later, the couple’s daughter, Kaylie, becomes intent on proving Michael’s innocence.

Kaylie’s focus becomes a violent, supernatural force embedded in an antique mirror in her childhood home.

While the film may not be as big budget and high profiled as the previously mentioned two films, “Oculus” will achieve its goal – to scare and excite a crowd of April film watchers.

While April may not get the notoriety of the summer showbiz scene, it certainly is a good warmup for what is expected to be a great summer of

Jazz vocalist Jane Stuart still going strong



Photos courtesy Jane Stuart Jane Stuart at various gigs.

Photos courtesy Jane Stuart
Jane Stuart at various gigs.


By Anthony J. Machcinski
Observer Correspondent

Home is where the heart is, especially for Jane Stuart, Nutley’s resident jazz star, who played at the Nutley Public Library on Saturday.

“I love it,” said Stuart about performing in Nutley. “I love having the opportunity to sing for some of the seniors hear in town. This is an opportunity to come and here me and hear some songs that they maybe don’t get to hear very often.”

Stuart, who has lived in Nutley for the past 15 years, got her start at the age of five, when she sang on a New York City TV show, “Moser Starlites.” From an early age, Stuart knew that performing was something that she wanted to do. Read more »