Category Archives: Featured

JOHN WESLEY SHIPP…Back In the Suit

The primetime hero returns to a role he first originated in the 90s, but with a golden twist for The CW’s “The Flash”!

Summer may be signaling the last of its record breaking heat across the country (one would hope), but for fans of the hit CW show The Flash fall couldn’t come soon enough. For actor John Wesley Shipp Season 2 couldn’t have been more remarkable, with the most unpredictable whiplash of a twist that threw him back headlong into the midst of the Speed Force. John has a unique connection to The Flash franchise having originated the role of CSI investigator Barry Allen in the 1990 prime time series that premiered on CBS, and was invited much to the delight of his fans to become an integral part of the contemporary reboot starring Grant Gustin.

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John Wesley Shipp in the cowl of his Scarlet Speedster from the 1990’s The Flash which debuted on CBS.

When John was approached about being initiated into the new action series, he had his trepidations about what the producers might have in mind. Having already established a working relationship with Greg Berlanti — the two worked together during a run on the popular Kevin Williamson drama Dawson’s Creek — John was interested in how the new show would evolve. After meeting with DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns it became apparent that Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg were excited to integrate John into their cast, in the role of Henry Allen.

Rumors began to circulate that John would be joining the cast, and many anticipated he would be playing Jay Garrick, the original Flash. “If I’d been asked to play any other character, I don’t know if I would have been as interested to join the show,” the actor said. “Henry Allen was the perfect way in for me; to bring me into The Flash. It would be completely different than what I’d done before as The Flash. Henry was all new.” As the wrongly convicted heart surgeon, father and husband, John spent most of the show’s First Season incarcerated in Iron Heights Prison, playing most of his moments behind glass and opposite Gustin. Their heartfelt moments between father and son delivered some of the season’s most memorable and powerful moments. “It was easy working with Grant,” John said, “because we were both getting to the truth of this father and his son relationship. Our scenes served to reveal a side of Barry we wouldn’t see anywhere else inside of that hour — the human side.”

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John Wesley Shipp as Henry Allen inspired many of the show’s most memorable moments between himself and series lead Grant Gustin on The CW’s The Flash.

John has nothing but high praise for his entire cast, but reserves the most affection and respect for the series’ star Grant Gustin. “He’s exceptional and handles it all so well; with grace and enthusiasm. I can’t help but feel proud of him.” So you can imagine that after spending more than 14 years locked up in a fictional jail cell, before finally becoming a free man in the Season 2 premiere episode, Henry Allen might have wanted to stick around Central City and make up for lost time with his son, the Fastest Man Alive.

“But it’s like Henry says in the episode…can Barry be everything he needs to be, worrying about his dad, and can Grant come into his own, with John watching over his shoulder. It’s an interesting parallel.” John’s logic is sound, but fans were broken hearted when Henry essentially walked out on Barry, or at least it looked that way. “Henry would always be there for Barry, when he needed him,” says the actor, “and he comes back to Central City when Barry needs him the most.” Perhaps it was inevitable — at the conclusion of Season 2, and after a lengthy battle with the evil speedster ZOOM, Henry Allen is murdered!

It’s a turning point for Barry, who now feels the weight of having lost both of his parents to circumstances beyond his control, and when ZOOM’s captive — the man in the iron helmet — is rescued by Team Flash, no one could have imagined what came next! ZOOM had not only stolen the powers of a speedster, but also the identity of another. When the iron helmet came off, we learned that the man being held captive by ZOOM was none other than Jay Garrick/The Flash of Earth-3 — and he looks just like Henry Allen!

To put that into the most “meta” terms the actor John Wesley Shipp, who originated the role of Barry Allen in the 1990’s CBS primetime series The Flash, returned to The CW 2014 The Flash as Barry Allen’s father Henry Allen, is murdered, and has been recast as the “original” Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick for the upcoming new season! Once a Flash, always a Flash, but it would seem as if the actor, John Wesley Shipp, was born to play this role — it was in fact the role that fans assumed he would be cast in when his name became connected with the reboot. The news of the recasting even came as a surprise to John.

“I just thought, what a great idea,” he said. “What a gift to the fans. They all thought I was going to be Jay Garrick, but I was so grateful to have been given the role of Henry to play first. Henry’s story has already been written, but as for Jay Garrick — well, that’s a whole other story. The possibilities are endless!” The audience is certainly hoping that will be the case, especially as bits of plot lines began to surface revealing that Barry causes a “Flash Point” event, basically rewriting history for himself.

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Wearing the familiar helmet, Shipp has assumed the role of the Golden Age Speedster Jay Garrick the original Flash for Season 3 when the series returns this fall.

So what will that mean for Barry? What will that mean for Henry? In fact, what does that mean for Jay Garrick even? John knows about as much as the rest of us do, and he doesn’t have any plans to ruin anything for the fans. “Who knows what’s going to happen,” John said, “but isn’t it wonderful? Anything can happen!” With rumors circling that the Justice Society of America would be connected to DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is it possible (perhaps inevitable) that Jay Garrick will play into that arc? “I don’t know,” John admitted. “We’ll have to wait and see, but it’s a big, television universe that we have to play in.”

Back in uniform, 25 years after his own series ended (prematurely by some opinions) and having grounded himself in the more realistic role of Henry Allen first, John Wesley Shipp is ready to join the speed force once again, and show the new kids on the block exactly what he’s made of. “It’s certainly a lot of fun, and there is some pressure — I mean, I’m running around in a super suit, next to a bunch of 20-somethings, playing one of DC Comics biggest icons…but Grant is so enthusiastic about it how could I not jump in?” With Season 3  of The Flash ready to premiere in October, fans are bracing themselves — The CW just got real super in primetime.

John Wesley Shipp returns to The Flash in Season 3, and will be appearing this weekend at Terrificon, the Terrific Comic-Con, at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT, Aug 19 – 21.

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“STAR WARS” Actor Kenny Baker Passes Away

The beloved actor who gave rise to the equally beloved R2-D2, hero of the film saga, dies at the age of 81.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… a galactic civil war was waged. It was a story about good versus evil, a rebellion rising against a tyrannical empire, and a family determined to rescue a lost soul. When George Lucas unleashed Star Wars on an unsuspecting generation, how could he have imagined that his story — a space opera — would three decades later continue to inspire. That may have been the farthest thing from his mind, but the filmmaker would also go onto to revolutionize the industry with a series of incredible special effects achievements, and colorful characters, some of which would win our hearts.

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Kenny Baker will forever be remembered as the heart and soul of the “Star Wars” saga’s most beloved character R2-D2. The force as always with him.

When Episdoe IV begins it’s experienced through the eyes — or more accurately — the photoreceptors of a pair of droids (re: robots) that are on a mission! The ever-oppressive galactic Empire has attacked a rebel transport, and in an effort to valiantly fight another day, C-3PO and his trusty astromech counterpart R2-D2 are dispatched as a special envoy, to locate a long lost warrior and general of a previous battle, and deliver vital information that will turn the tide of the growing war. C-3PO and R2-D2 emerged as the tale’s two most unlikeliest heroes, and as the story would evolve we would learn just how important their role would be.

Star Wars changed my life. When I was a child, the film was released in theaters at about the same time that my parent’s marriage was unraveling. I can recall vividly the day we ventured as a family, the last time that we would, to a local theater in New Jersey where we lived, to see the film. We would often go to the movies, and the experience of entering a darkened auditorium, or sitting in the backseat of our car (where I saw Jaws) at a drive-in, would begin to inevitably shape and influence my imagination. Going to the movies was safe. It was life a refuge from the world.

As the 20th Century Fox fanfare began, I knew that my life would be irrevocably changed forever, and as the final credits rolled I understood that everything was going to be all right. Just like R2-D2 had survived the attack on the Death Star, I would also get past the trials of a divorce. And I had two of the unlikeliest role models to remind me to persevere. I walked out of the theater that day empowered, reinvigorated and knowing that the force is strong.

I became fascinated with George Lucas’ world and especially in the magic behind the film. That included one of its most impressionable personalities. If it wasn’t for R2-D2, the heroes would never have found their way; if it wasn’t for the droid the rebels would never have destroyed the Death Star, an ultimate weapon determined to obliterate freedom.

When my father revealed to me that there had been an actor inside the barrel-shaped astromech droid responsible for how R2-D2 moved, it blew my mind! That actor was Kenny Baker and his name would become synonymous with that of Anthony Daniels the actor who portrays C-3PO. It was always obvious to me that there was a person inside the golden suit of armor bringing the protocol droid to life, but I couldn’t see anyone but a puppeteer on the outside animating R2.

It was in that moment that R2-D2 became all the more real to me. In that instant I realized that a robot could have a soul. Kenny Baker was the heart that pumped within the shell, and the spirit of determination that gave R2 his personality. Because of Baker’s participation in the Star Wars saga, R2-D2 would eventually be revealed to have been one of the most important components of the long running adventure, even as most recent as last year when Star Wars: The Force Awakens continued the story.

With the passing of Kenny Baker, at 81, it’s important to celebrate one of the unsung heroes in filmmaking. As R2-D2, Baker brought us all so much joy and had an entire generation fall in love with him, and also reminded us all that good guys come in all shapes and forms. Even the littlest spirit, can be largest presence in the room. To Kenny Baker…thank you for saving me too.

The Life (and Days) of Superman: The Road to “Rebirth”

The Man of Steel faces his own mortality in a race towards a publishing wide DC Comics imprint “Rebirth”.

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Superman is dying…and there’s no escaping his fate!

For more than 75 years Superman has stood as the unparalleled most powerful being in the DC Comics universe (give or take the unexpected immovable force, megalomaniac or two) but as the Man of Steel’s storyline spirals headlong into the midst of “Rebirth” this spring, the Man of Tomorrow will be facing his own mortality in the most unexpected and unconventional arc of his career yet. As the imprint prepares for the latest publishing-wide special event of the season “The Final Days of Superman” are being explored across the hero’s multiple titles.

With the advent of most major titles including Superman and Action Comics about to strike their respective issue #52, the entire line of DC Comics will soon be revamped, and as Creative Director Geoff Johns described “the dawn of a brand-new era of DC Comics adventures” is about to begin. For Superman it’s been a treacherously exhaustive couple of months. The Earth’s most able champion was doused by the unpredictable energies inside the fire pits of Apokolips, faced the villainous Vandal Savage inside the A.R.G.U.S. kryptonite chamber and battled the otherworldly Rao.

These three events contributed to the perfect storm, ultimately compromising the Last Son of Krypton’s constitution at the genetic level, and causing the unthinkable and yet inevitable: Superman is dying. In the first chapter of “The Final Days of Superman” arc published in Superman #51 and written by Peter J. Tomasi the premiere comic book writer has the Man of Steel begin to take the first steps to insure that his legacy will continue. Clark is especially concerned that after he is gone there will no longer be a “super-man” around to protect the innocent.

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The legendary John Romita Jr. delivers on this iconic cover detailing “The Final Days of Superman” in the dynamic duo’s own title.

Tomasi has also made it of particular importance to the character that Superman and Clark Kent’s personal story does not go forgotten and he seeks out Lois Lane, who only recently was responsible for revealing to the world Superman’s secret dual identity of Clark Kent. Unlike Superman’s once historic confrontation against Doomsday and the brutal battle that ended him that time, this time around it would appear that Clark can’t escape the cellular degradation that is threatening his life. Upon seeking the help of his fellow Justice Leaguer Batman in Gotham City, Superman refuses the Dark Knight’s help.

Instead, in the second part of the story appearing in Batman/Superman #31 also written by Tomasi, Superman asks his friend to help him locate the now missing Maid of Steel Supergirl who he intends to leave in charge of defending the planet once he’s gone. The two heroes are attacked by the mystically charged embodiment of Chinese Zodiac dispatched by the mysterious Doctor Omen who is gathering genetic information on the Man of Steel, though to what end no one is clearly certain. Locating his cousin, Superman frees Supergirl from the D.E.O. (Department of Extra-Normal Operations).

Inside Action Comics #51 he learns that Kara’s visit to National City and her incarceration at the D.E.O is entirely voluntary especially after she also succumbs to some power fluctuations of her own. It appears that Vandal Savage’s attack on Superman had an affect on her as well leaving Supergirl vulnerable. She came to National City at the invite of the D.E.O. who promised to help her sort out her issues. Instead after she learns of her cousin’s fatal situation she goes with him to his Fortress of Solitude to continue the work he has already started as the supreme protector on the planet.

They are both surprised by the arrival of the Amazon Queen and Superman’s former paramour Wonder Woman and unbeknownst to any of our heroes, there is a stranger exhibiting some incredible powers entering into the Daily Planet claiming to be Superman and leaving a wake of destruction in his path! “The Final Days of Superman” are chronicled up until the launch of Rebirth #1 which will then continue with the renumbering of all the Superman titles with the exception of Action Comics which will reset to its original #957 and will be published twice a month!

With the magnitude of such a huge event taking place — and including the impending publication of the #1000 issue of Action Comics — Superman fans are in for quite an unprecedented shake-up that will undoubtedly have repercussions across the line. The publishing imprint is promising that in the wake of this history-making leap Superman will emerge stronger, faster and more powerful than a locomotive — and he’ll have a whole lot of help coming his way.

• This feature premiered on the DCComicsNews.com network as contributed by myself.

Music is Passion

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A Paradise for Holiday

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Kayaking: Adventurous Sport

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