News of the Week: A New Harry Potter, a Really New Captain America, and the Dangers of Netflix Adultery

Harry Potter is Back!

We all knew this was coming. What, you thought that we’d seen the last of Harry Potter?

Yup, the boy wizard is back, only this time he’s a man, and it he won’t be in a book or movie (not yet anyway — stay tuned). The adult Harry and his teen son Albus will be seen in a new play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which opens in previews at London’s Palace Theatre next week. Pottermore, the official Harry Potter site, has details on the play, along with photos of the cast in costume.

Captain Anti-America?

The Captain America shield with a question mark in the center, instead of a starRemember that issue of Superman where you find out the Man of Steel has always been working with General Zod, and then he kills Jimmy Olsen? Yeah, I don’t either, because it never happened. But it could!

I don’t see why not, because it seems to have happened to Captain America. In a new comic book, Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, we find out that not only is Rogers — the most American of superheroes — working with the evil Hydra organization now, he has always been working with Hydra. An editor for Marvel attempts to explain this to Time, and while he says the twist isn’t a gimmick, I think it’s safe to say it’s a gimmick.

Now, I’m not the ideal fan or even demographic for comic books. I like a lot of superhero movies (the Captain America series in particular), but I haven’t read a comic book in many years. And the story lines for comic books are really hard to follow now. There are constant reboots and the killing off (then resurrection) of characters and “re-imaginings” of a comic’s universe, so that we’re in a time when literally anything can happen. It all seems confusing and needless and inconsistent. Supposedly, hardcore fans will eventually understand why Rogers has gone to the dark side, and in a way that even old comics will hold up. I don’t buy it. On the other hand, I don’t plan on buying it, so I’ll just pretend this never happened.

Let’s just hope that the new Harry Potter play doesn’t show he’s been on Voldemort’s payroll since he was a kid.

Print Books Are Back, Too!

Harry Potter isn’t the only thing making a comeback. Apparently, print books are back, too.

Of course, they never really went away, but for the past several years all we’ve heard is that print books (and newspapers) are on the way out and they’ll be replaced by e-books and other digital offerings. The New York Times reports that in 2015, sales of print books rose 16 percent while the sale of digital books fell 10 percent from the previous year’s sales. Even younger readers like print books more.

Now, e-books and digital aren’t going away. That probably is the future, but I don’t think that print is ever really going to go away. Maybe in the far-flung future, when we’re all living like The Jetsons. But even then I think there will at least be a niche space for paper, even if our brains are hardwired directly to social media and we make all our purchases via a retinal scan.

Christopher Kimball Launches New Cooking Venture

Last year, I told you about America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country founder/host leaving the company he started. This week we found out why Kimball was let go and what he plans to do next.

Kimball has started Milk Street Kitchen, a new cooking venture that will include a PBS show, a magazine, books, and even a cooking school. And while that might sound an awful lot like his former venture, he’s actually taking a different route. He’s going to focus on the foods and cooking methods of other countries. As Kimball puts it, “I don’t think I have anything left to add about how to make an oatmeal cookie.” He’s currently renovating the Flour & Grain Exchange building in the Financial District of Boston, which will serve as the headquarters for the company.

Interestingly, Kimball will continue to host the weekly America’s Test Kitchen radio show.

RIP Irving Benson and Mike Dann

Irving Benson was one of the last of the classic vaudeville performers, and he had a bunch of roles on television as well. He was on shows like Here’s Lucy, Happy Days, and The Tonight Show, and you might remember him as Sidney Shpritzer, the guy in the balcony who would heckle Milton Berle on all of Berle’s shows in the ’60s:

He must have been one of the inspirations for the Sesame Street characters Statler and Waldorf, right?

Benson passed away in May at the age of 102. His wife Lillian passed away this March. They had been married for 79 years.

Mike Dann wasn’t a household name, but he had a big hand in many TV shows that were beamed into your household. He started at NBC and helped create both Today and The Tonight Show; then later at CBS, he gave us rural shows like The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, and Green Acres, along with more metropolitan shows like The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, an extremely controversial show that CBS canceled even though it was popular with younger viewers.

Dann passed away last Friday at the age of 94.

I Don’t Remember John Daly Bumping and Grinding

Regular readers of this column know that I’m a big fan of old game shows like What’s My Line?, To Tell The Truth, and I’ve Got A Secret. I have this fantasy that What’s My Line? will come back in a new version, but that fantasy is tempered by the realization that it wouldn’t be the same show at all. They’d try to make it more “modern” by having the celebrities be reality show stars or C-list celebs, and the witty, urbane, classy vibe of the original show would be replaced by screaming and raunchy jokes and a loud audience. The contestants on the show would no longer have normal occupations or be in the military, they’d all be porn stars or YouTube stars, and the audience would “whoop” at all the dirty lines. They couldn’t do live commercials during the show because we’re so drenched in irony and cynicism now.

But some of the old shows are coming back. In April, I mentioned that Match Game would return to ABC this summer with Alec Baldwin as host, and we now have the previews for ABC’s reboots of To Tell The Truth and The $100,000 Pyramid. Watch these previews for both shows and see if you have the same reaction I did. At first, you’re excited these shows are back, and then, a few moments later, you’re thinking, “Oh, um, well …”

This is To Tell the Truth:

And here’s The $100,000 Pyramid:

While I don’t know if these new versions will work, it’s really great to see Betty White on game shows again, and I’ll certainly be watching. Please don’t screw this up.

Have You Cheated on Your Partner (with Netflix)?

Don’t you hate it when your significant other watches a TV show before you do and you can’t watch it together? It’s apparently a major problem in modern-day marriages and grounds for divorce in 33 states. But there’s a solution.

Introducing Commitment Rings, rings that you and your partner can wear that will actually block one of you from watching the streaming of your favorite show if the other person isn’t watching it with you. They’re from Cornetto, a British ice cream company. Yes, a British ice cream company.

I don’t really understand how it works. I mean, unless you can set up the streaming apps to not even work at all unless both rings are being used, can’t you just take off the ring and cheat on your partner? I mean, that’s how real adultery works.

June Is National Iced Tea Month

I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but Mother Nature seemed to have just flipped the summer switch this past week, as it went from rainy and cool to muggy and gross in just a day or so. The screen door is in, the windows are open, and the bugs are out in full force.

It’s a perfect time for iced tea! I’m a fan of the packaged, sugary stuff. “Real” iced tea, to me, just tastes like regular tea that’s been sitting out for a while and gotten cold. I guess you get used to a certain flavor when you’re a kid and it sticks with you forever. But if you’d like to mix up a batch yourself, here’s a classic recipe from Lipton. If you want something a little bit different, how about an Arnold Palmer, which combines iced tea and lemonade and just screams “summer.”

The first suit I ever bought, back in the ’70s, was one with the Arnold Palmer label. How many people can say they have a classic drink and a clothing line named after them?

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

President Ronald Reagan dies (June 5, 2004)

The former governor of California and actor died at the age of 93. Nancy Reagan passed away in March of this year.

George Orwell’s 1984 published (June 6, 1949)

Christopher Hitchens wrote a nice introduction to Orwell’s diaries. And we all remember Apple’s classic Super Bowl commercial based on the movie version of this novel.

Jean Harlow dies (June 7, 1937)

The film star was only 26 when she died.

Cole Porter born (June 9, 1891)

You can learn more about the iconic American songwriter at the “Cole Wide Web.”

Hattie McDaniel born (June 10, 1889)

The first black actress to win an acting Oscar accepted her award at a segregated Los Angeles hotel.

President John F. Kennedy’s Civil Rights address (June 11, 1963)

Kennedy addressed the nation on radio and television following the standoff at the University of Alabama, saying “the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.”