A Late-Blooming Career Cut Short: Dennis Farina Passes at 69

Dennis Farina’s acting career was unique in Hollywood as one of the few actors to garner success later in life. This “late-bloomer” started his acting career at 37 years old, after almost 20 years as a Chicago police officer. He

Joe Fontana (Law & Order)

Joe Fontana (Law & Order) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

was well known as a character actor, playing a cop on NBC’s “Law & Order,” and one of the only cast members that had been on the police force in real life.

Dennis was born on February 29, 1944 to Italian parents in Chicago. His father, Joseph, was a doctor and an immigrant from Sicily. This leap-year baby would go on to serve 3 years in the military and then to serve his native city as a policeman from 1967 to 1985. He worked mostly in burglary and it was there that he was hired by director Michael Mann as a consultant for the movie “Thief” (1981), starring James Caan. Farina was given a bit part in the movie and would go on to work for Mann in future roles. After a brief stint acting in Chicago theater, he left the police force for a lead role in Mann’s television series “Crime Story” (1986). He also played mobster Albert Lombard in Mann’s other television show, “Miami Vice.”

Farina’s distinguishing looks made him perfect for his roles as a cop or a gangster. He was tall and imposing, with a memorable silver mustache. He worked steadily in both television and the movies after quitting the Chicago police force. His first major movie role was another Michael Mann movie, “Manhunter”(1986), in which he played an FBI agent. This was the first of the Hannibal Lecter films and Farina would go on to star in all three.

Farina’s most memorable movie roles were in 1998’s “Saving Private Ryan” in which he played a colonel who convinces Tom Hank’s character to rescue Private Ryan from the Nazis. He was known for his comedy roles as well as his serious characters. In “Get Shorty,” Farina received an American Comedy Actor award for his performance as “Ray ‘Bones’ Barboni, John Travolta’s rival.

Dennis Farina’s other screen credits include “Out of Sight” with Jennifer Lopez; John Frankenheimer’s “Reindeer Games,” Guy Ritchie’s “Snatch,” as well as the 2008 comedy, “Bottle Shock”. He was narrator for the TV show “Unsolved Mysteries,” replacing Robert Stack as the original host. Farina starred alongside Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher in “What Happens in Vegas” (2008). Another comedic role was in HBO’s “Empire Falls,” starring Helen Hunt and Ed Harris. His last recurring TV role was in “Luck,” the 2012 horse racing series.

Farina and his wife of 10 years, Patricia, had three sons. Joseph Farina followed in his father’s footsteps and became an actor. And sadly, Dennis Farina’s second act in life came to a close on July 22, 2013. He was only 69 years old when he died from a pulmonary embolism at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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Chromecast: Saving Money on Cable

Google has decided to jump into the competition of content streaming by introducing its very own streaming device, the Chromecast. Following in the footsteps of other dominant content streaming devices and services such

Chromecast

Chromecast (Photo credit: Stratageme.com)

as Apple TV or the Roku, Google hopes to allow casual video watchers the ability to watch streaming content on their TV instead of on a tablet or smartphone. With penny pinching being on everyone’s minds as prices increase for everything ranging from food to gas, cutting costs on entertainment expenses by eliminating cable is a wise decision.

Chromecast costs significantly less than other devices available on the market at a mere $35. Three months of NetFlix are included with the purchase, which essentially puts the price of Chromecast at only $11. It is a bit larger than a thumb drive and plugs into an open HDMI port on your high-definition television. It can be powered directly through the HDMI port on newer televisions as long as you have HDMI 1.4, but if you have older HDMI technology, Chromecast can also get power from a USB port if your television has one. As a last resort, you can also get an optional power cord to power the device from a regular outlet. You’ll also need to have Wi-Fi access to send the signal from your chosen device.

Chromecast is designed to allow you to stream your content at a low cost without requiring you to buy a smart TV. Once it is connected, you can stream video or audio content from your phone, tablet or computer directly to your television. One of the key benefits of Chromecast is that it can be controlled with multiple devices, not just Google’s. It can be controlled with an iPhone, iPad or Android-powered tablet or phone. You can also project content that you have open in Google’s Chrome browser on your computer to your TV screen. Unfortunately, you’re completely out of luck for the moment if you use a BlackBerry or Windows device since they trail behind Android and iOS in popularity.

Since Chromecast is relatively new, only a few apps currently support the “cast” ability that projects your content to the screen. The device runs a barebones version of Google’s own Chrome operating system. When you press “cast” through an application the content is sent directly to your television. It doesn’t merely mirror your device’s screen, so you can still play games, surf the web or check your email while watching your TV.

Control of the Chromecast is also simple since you can select what you want to watch, adjust the volume and control playback directly from your device without having to adjust to a new interface or have another remote floating around the house. Another selling point is that family and friends can utilize your Chromecast without needing to jump through any set up hoops along the way.

Ditch the costly cable service and get with the times by utilizing streaming devices and services.

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Whose Line Is It Anyway? Why do some shows return from the dead?

Aisha Tyler

Aisha Tyler (Photo credit: MandeePhoto)

Watching TV in the summer used to mean surfing channels of reruns, but lately there seems to be a slew of “new” shows that are repeating old ones. Networks and cable channels are bringing back previously popular shows such as “Whose Line is it Anyway?”, “Hawaii Five-O”, and “Dynasty”. While some people are thrilled that their favorite shows are back, a lot more of us are wondering why we need to keep rehashing the past.

The answer isn’t that the networks have suddenly become nostalgic. With increasing competition from internet videos and more cable channels, many TV networks have seen their profit from advertising drop in the past several years. More worrisome for the networks, many economists are predicting that the model of having companies pay for advertising during show breaks will become obsolete over the next decade.

These factors mean that TV stations are not very willing to take risks with new shows. A new drama or science fiction show can take millions of dollars to produce, and in some cases it will be pulled within a few episodes if it fails to catch on. When reviving an old show, a network has some guarantee that it will be popular. While not every remake catches on (Charlie’s Angels anyone?), a remake will usually attract enough interest to make the first episode a success.

The costs to produce these shows are also much lower than “new” shows. In many cases, networks already own the property rights to the show as well as contracts with many of the former actors, directors, and producers. In several cases, they also have access to props, costumes, and set pieces. Because of this, they can produce a pilot for a much lower costs than a “new” show.

Finally, advertisers like the idea of bringing back a show. While a network usually has to struggle to find sponsors for shows that don’t have a full season of Nielsen data to show, they can easily sell a show that advertisers are already familiar with. Furthermore, advertisers like that they know what to expect. Without seeing a single episode, an advertiser can accurately guess at the demographic that will be attracted to the show just by looking at the data from the original show. Because advertisers are familiar with the plot of these shows, they are also more willing to negotiate for product placement within the show itself. In some cases, advertisers have even suggested how their product could be incorporated into an episode before the first script is even finalized.

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3 Worst Things About Being Financially Responsible

Sexy Lingerie

Everybody talks about all of the wonderful things that happen when you’re saving money and being responsible.   I know I do.   It’s true, good things do happen.    There’s really nothing like the feeling that you’re suddenly not living paycheck to paycheck.

But what about the other side of the coin?   What sucks about staying in the black?

1.  You have to make choices.   When you’re living on credit, you can buy a car, charge an expensive dinner every week, and go on vacation.   If you’re not spending real money, then who cares?   When you’re living for real, you have to prioritize.   Do you buy groceries or video games?   Do you buy sexy lingerie or a fancy dinner?   Braces or college?   You’re given a lot of choices, but you can only pick the ones you can actually afford.

2.   You’re no longer the Joneses other people are trying to keep up with.   The guy down the street, with the fancy car, big screen TV, and artificially perfect noses on his teenagers?  You’re not him, anymore, but that’s okay, because he’s financing his lifestyle 9.9% at a time.  Yes, a bit of incoming envy can give you a warm, tingly feeling, but it doesn’t put food on the table.

3.  It’s boring.   Taking a trip in a fast car and picking up an entourage for a 10-day party is fun.   Balancing your checkbook and spending 6 months saving up for your kid’s braces is not.   If you’ve been living like a rockstar, rolling back to a responsible standard of living is going to come as a shock, but it’s better than suddenly running out of money and having your world come crashing down around you.

Being responsible comes with a lot of downside, but it’s all superficial.   The benefits are real, and long-lasting.  What’s the worst thing you’ve had to deal with by being responsible?

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