TV Eye

What's that smell?

It finally happened. I am in that group PBS courts during fund-drive time with those extended "remember when" music specials. I used to laugh at those shows. "Is anyone still alive to remember this music?" I asked in that haughty way young people do when they assume that they will not be old enough to laugh at themselves. Thankfully, that taste of reality was washed away by a delightful limited series running in April. New York chef Marcus Samuelsson hosts The Meaning of Food, an enlightening and sometimes surprising glimpse at the role food plays in culture, family, and history.

The three-part series is strongest in the first of its three episodes, "Food and Life." In this, the power of food is revealed in a funny segment on what lengths people will go to to bring a favorite food from their old country to their new home in the U.S., and a moving segment about Brian Price, a former convict from Crockett, Texas, who prepared last meals for executed inmates at Huntsville Prison. Steak, lobster, ice cream, and mashed potatoes were common requests. But when one inmate requested a bowl of butter beans, it made Price ponder the significance of this dish, and made him realize the profound act of grace he was taking part in.

Texas appears several times in The Meaning of Food. Kolache-baking Burleson County youth and their elders are featured in the second episode, "Food and Culture." San Benito, Texas, is the locale for "Mothers and Daughters: Tamalada Time," in "Food and Family," the third episode of the series. In between, the series explores the centrality of rice in South Carolina's Geechee culture (featuring filmmaker Julie Dash and NPR commentator Vertamae Grosvenor) and the male-bonding ritual of booya making in St. Paul, Minn.

An insightful 360-degree examination, The Meaning of Food will inspire you to retrieve old family recipes. And once you've experienced that morsel of memory, hang up the disco ball and boogie-oogie-oogie your booty away. This is not a show about eating healthy, but eating for the soul. Lard, salt, red meat, and sugar are not optional. Your platform dancing shoes are.

The Meaning of Food airs April 7, 14, and 21 at 9pm on PBS. Encores air throughout April. Check local listings.


Prof. Griffin Signs With Fangoria TV

Prof. Anton Griffin, aka Joseph Fotinos, and his Midnight Shadow Show, Austin's only locally produced horror movie show, has signed with Fangoria TV, which launches nationally April 8. Fangoria TV, named for the long-running magazine aimed at fans of horror and supernatural films, has signed Fotinos and crew to "provide hosted content and original programming ... produced [in Austin] and in New York," Fotinos says.

But wait: Where is Fangoria TV? Like the Sci Fi Channel it its early days, they are still scaring up channel space and, in the meantime, will piggyback with other networks. If Fangoria TV mirrors the success of the Sci Fi Channel, does this mean the end of an Austin-based Midnight Shadow Show?

"Don't worry. We're not going anywhere!" Fotinos says. "Part of our agreement was that we are allowed to continue to broadcast locally." For added value, "Fango will send some of their programming to us here in Texas (like Fangoria TV's newest series, Ghost Hunter EVP), and we'll be presenting them for Central Texas audiences, probably under the banner of 'Prof. Griffin Presents Fangoria TV.'"

Professor Griffin's Midnight Shadow Show airs Fridays at midnight on Time Warner cable Channel 16, and Sundays at 11pm on Time Warner cable Channel 15. For more information, go to www.midnightshadowshow.com.


Other Stuff

Legendary Tejana singer Selena was killed 10 years ago. A special tribute concert marking the anniversary of her untimely death occurs in Houston on April 7. Those unable to make the road trip for the concert can turn to their TVs: Univision will air the concert in its entirety starting at 7pm. Check local listings for details.

New, locally produced fare on KLRU: Downtown, a new series featuring what's new and cool about urban culture in Austin, premieres Thursday at 8pm. Meanwhile, The Biscuit Brothers (Allen Robertson and Jerome Schoolar) are featured in a new program aimed at 3- to 7-year-olds starting April 9 at 9am. Go to www.klru.org for more information.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

The Meaning of Food, Prof. Griffin's Midnight Shadow Show, Fangoria TV, Selena

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