Up to date information about children’s entertainment - film, TV, DVD and more…. from founder and president of KIDS FIRST! Ranny Levy

PBS Kids Offers LOTS of Halloween Themed Programs for Your Little Ones

October 20th, 2014

Halloween.jpgIt’s that time of year when our thoughts run to the dark side and scary movies take over for October viewing. But preschoolers can be left behind because - well, we don’t really want to frighten them too much, right? Leave it to PBS Kids to come up with an assortment of shows from some of their most watched series that will fit the bill for your younger and easily frightened viewers. Here’s a few. Note the air dates after each title but check your local listings to find out exactly when it’s airing in your marker.

CURIOUS GEORGE: A Halloween Boo Fest (airs October 27 and 31)
It’s George’s first Halloween in the country, and Bill tells him and Allie about the Legend of No Noggin – a spooky tale about a hat-kicking scarecrow who haunts the countryside on Halloween.  But is the legend really real? George and Allie are determined to find out by taking a picture of No Noggin in hat-kicking action.  But first, George needs to figure out what he’s going to be for Halloween so he can win the costume contest at the town Boo Festival.  Will George’s quest for the perfect costume interfere with his quest for the truth? Only the curious will find out!

DINOSAUR TRAIN
(307) One Big Frog/Caving with Vlad - NEW! (premieres October 27, repeats October 29 and 31)
The Pteranodon kids are playing a game called “I’m the Biggest,” which raises the question: how big is the biggest frog? Dad takes the kids on the Dinosaur Train to find the biggest frog ever, the legendary Beelzebufo. Once off the train, they have to take a river raft to find this illusive creature, but find him they do. The kids are surprised that Benny Beelzebufo isn’t nearly as large (or mean) as they’d imagined, but he is definitely the biggest frog they’ve ever seen! Benny teaches the kids about his “sit-still-and-wait” hunting style and shows off his large, floating leaf “home.”

The Pteranodon family rides the “Night Train” all the way back to the Jurassic Period to visit their nocturnal friend, Vlad Volaticotherium, who tells them that he wants to take them caving!  Buddy, Tiny, Shiny and Don don’t even know what caving is, but they are soon having a great time seeing all the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites that have formed inside the cave.  They also learn that it can be a lot of fun to hear your voice echo down the cave’s long caverns!

(116) Night Train/Fossil Fred (airs October 28 and 30)
(211) Haunted Roundhouse/Big Pond Pumpkin Patch (airs October 24, 26, 29 and 31)

SUPER WHY!
(135) The Ghost Who Was Afraid of Halloween (airs October 27 and 31)

THOMAS & FRIENDS
(1008) Tricks and Tales (airs October 16, 18 and 27)
(1007) Spooky Charms (airs October 20, 28 and 31)

THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT THAT!
(141) Trick or Treat (airs October 15, 27 and 31)

WILD KRATTS
(208) Secrets of the Spider’s Web (airs October 30)
(136) A Bat in the Brownies (airs October 31)
(134) Little Howler (airs October 31)

MARTHA SPEAKS
(307) Deadline Doggie/It’s the Giant Pumpkin, Martha (airs October 30)
(308) TD’s Magic/Scaredy Cat (airs October 31)

WORDGIRL
(505) Scary with a Side of Butter / Talent Show Tobey (airs October 23)
(126) A Kooky Spooky Halloween / Sheep’s Halloween Costume (airs October 24)
(209) Tobey’s Tricks and Treats / Escape Wham (airs October 30)
(212) Who Wants Candy? / Chuck’s Brother (airs October 31)

CAILLOU
(426) Fall Is in the Air (airs October 20 and 31)
(410) After Dark! (airs October 21)

ARTHUR
(1107) Hic or Treat/Mr. Alwaysright (airs October 31)
(1405) Tales of Grotesquely Grim Bunny/Pet Projects (airs October 31)

DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD
(128) Katerina’s Costume/Dress up Day (airs October 31)
CURIOUS GEORGE
(313) Night of the Weiner Dog/Animal Trackers (airs October 30)

Submission Deadline Extended to Oct. 31 KIDS FIRST! Endorsement and KIDS FIRST! Film Festival Acceptance

September 28th, 2014

KIDSFIRSTlogohighres.jpgWe have just extended your deadline to October 31 for submitting your titles for either a KIDS FIRST! Endorsement or KIDS FIRST! Film Festival Acceptance. Send in your films, DVDs, audio recordings, TV shows, web sites, web series, e-books, screenplays now. The sooner you get it to us, the quicker you get your endorsement.KIDS FIRST! has been supporting quality children’s media for 23 years and is the most highly respected media endorsement program in the country. Unlike an awards program which limits the number of winners, every title that meets our criteria and is approved by our kids’ juries receives an endorsement. Our base-line criteria includes:

NO gratuitous violence or abuse
NO inappropriate sexual behavior
NO bias in terms of race, gender, culture or religion
NO condescension toward children
NO replicable unsafe behavior

KIDS FIRST! Endorsed Titles Receive

  • The right to use the KIDS FIRST! endorsement seal and rating on all promotional and packaging materials..
  • A unique title landing page on the KIDS FIRST! website featuring reviews by our jurors, your trailer or sample clip, cover art and link to your website to purchase.
  • Consideration for a KIDS FIRST! Best Award
  • Coverage on the KIDS FIRST! Radio Show, KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions (100,000 lilsteners)
  • Promoted in KIDS FIRST! News (45,000 readers/mo)
  • Promoted on KIDS FIRST! Social media (450,000 reach)

For more information, go to http://www.kidsfirst.org/submit-a-title/

Grandparents Day! Free Subscription to Grand Magazine

September 6th, 2014

GRAND_20140910_hires_cover.jpgAttention all Grandparents!  Did you know, September 7th is National Grandparents Day?  It’s a day of recognition for the huge contribution grandparents make to the family and society. We urge you to celebrate the experience with KIDS FIRST! & GRAND Magazine.  GRAND is the magazine just for grandparents, with information and inspiration we need to get the most from this important life stage.

GRAND is a digital magazine…a real and “green” magazine delivered by email, and it’s absolutely free for you!  To mark their 10th Anniversary, GRAND is giving all KIDS FIRST!  supporters free subscriptions.  Really.  No credit card…no billing. Free!

Click Here to receive 12 bi-monthly issues packed with news you can use.  Be among the first to get the 10th Anniversary Edition, arriving in September featuring National Geographic marine explorer, Dr. Sylvia Earle.
Know someone else who loves being a GRANDparent?  Forward this now and let them in on the fun.

Deadline Extended for Endorsement and Film Festival Enries to July 15

June 25th, 2014

We have extended You have til July 15 to submit your films, DVDs, audio recordings, apps, TV shows and e-books for a KIDS FIRST! endorsement or for consideration in our KIDS FIRST! Film Festival. Don’t delay, do it today. The sooner you get it to us, the quicker you get your endorsement.

KIDS FIRST! has been supporting quality children’s media for 23 years and is the most highly respected media endorsement program in the country. Unlike an awards program which limits the number of winners, every title that meets our criteria and is approved by our kids’ juries receives an endorsement. Our base-line criteria includes:

NO gratuitous violence or abuse
NO inappropriate sexual behavior
NO bias in terms of race, gender, culture or religion
NO condescension toward children
NO replicable unsafe behavior

KIDS FIRST! Endorsed Titles Receive

  • The right to use the KIDS FIRST! endorsement seal and rating on all promotional and packaging materials..
  • A unique title landing page on the KIDS FIRST! website featuring reviews by our jurors, your trailer or sample clip, cover art and link to your website to purchase.
  • Consideration for a KIDS FIRST! Best Award
  • Coverage on the KIDS FIRST! Radio Show, KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions (100,000 lilsteners)
  • Promoted in KIDS FIRST! News (45,000 readers/mo)
  • Promoted on KIDS FIRST! Social media (450,000 reach)

For more information, go to http://www.kidsfirst.org/submit-a-title/

Subscribe to our Blog on Huffington Post

April 22nd, 2014

We are thrilled to announce our new KIDS FIRST! blog on Huffington Post. Please, go check it out and subscribe, comment and share. Please do it today and pass it on to your friends and family. This is a big deal for KIDS FIRST! and gives our kids a whole new audience to reach!

Here’s the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kids-first/

Spend a Week Viewing and Reviewing the Latest Films

April 14th, 2014

If you have a 10 to 15-year-old in your life who loves films and dreams of being on the red carpet, KIDS FIRST! has the perfect opportunity. Your tween can participate in the KIDS FIRST! Film Critics Boot Camp this summer in New York City/Brooklyn at Zing Revolution and Silver Spring, MD at Discover Communications for an experience they will never forget.

Give your child the opportunity to build self confidence and learn more about behind-the-scenes aspects of the film industry as they critique the latest films, learn to write reviews, practice interview techniques, improve on-camera skills, visit with industry professionals and are coached by seasoned professionals. All campers will have the opportunity to join the KIDS FIRST! Film Critic team of reporters.  Lara Lavi, managing partner at Zing Revolution comments, “We are thrilled to offer our ZING REVOLUTION HQ in Brooklyn to KIDS FIRST! As a Board member and fan of the organization we love seeing young people nurtured like this.”

Each week-long boot camp will meet Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Locations include:

  • July 14 – 18, 2014 - Silver Spring, MD, Discovery Communications (DCI World Headquarters. One Discovery Place Silver Spring, MD 20910
  • Aug. 4 - Aug. 8, 2014 - New York City/Brooklyn, Zing Revolution (140 58th Street, Brooklyn Army Terminal, Brooklyn, NY 11220)

Leading the KIDS FIRST! teaching team is Ranny Levy, founder and president of KIDS FIRST! / Coalition for Quality Children’s Media, a former television producer, educator and long-time children’s media advocate.  Documentary filmmaker, Nancy Kenney brings years of teaching experience to the team and a practical knowledge of how to inspire students. A graduate of the Berklee College of Music, Nancy co-founded the Children’s Peace Initiative and produces documentary films. Terry Solowey, former assistant director of outreach for Sesame Street Preschool Education Program and manager of outreach for Thirteen/WNET brings additional years of experience in media education. Rounding out the team is Janet Davidson, and EQUITY/SAG actor and DGA director with more than 200 episodic and 20 telefilms credited to her including Earth 2, Cagney & Lacey, Soul Food, Judging Amy and Any Day Now.

The KIDS FIRST! Film Critic’s program, now in its fourth year, has received acclaim from publishers and educators alike. The reviews, both written and videotaped, by the team of youth reporters reach an audience of more than 7 million monthly through affiliations with broadcast, print and online publishers including Huffington Post, Kidsville News, Working Woman, Kidzworld.com, HDnet Movies KidScene, LA Parent, Westchester Parent and many more.

For more information and to register, go to http://www.kidsfirst.org. Please act soon, because space is limited. Tuition: $459. There is a limited number of partial scholarships available.

About:  KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Boot Camp is a program of the 23-year-old, national, nonprofit organization,  Coalition for Quality Children’s Media  whose mission is to teach children critical viewing skills and to increase the visibility and availability of quality children’s media. For more information visit www.kidsfirst.org.

About: Zing Revolution: Zing Revolution is the industry leader in innovative technology and pop culture product development. Zing has the largest image offering in the world for music, fashion, art, television, movies and animation for premium 3M vinyl skins for consumer electronic accessories for over 300 electronic devices, home décor, extreme sports board skins and more. For more information visit www.zingrevolution.com 

Women’s Media Center Report Finds Women Still Underrepresented, Misrepresented in U.S. Media

March 20th, 2014

WomenMediaCenter.jpgThe U.S. media have exceedingly more distance to travel on the road to gender-blind parity, according to a report released today from the Women’s Media Center.

While noting barriers broken by top women in media like Shonda Rhimes, creator and executive producer and Jill Abramson, executive editor of The New York Times, WMC’s 2014 Status of Women in U.S. Media Report notes a troubling status quo and, in some places, a slipping back in time.

Sports news coverage remains overwhelmingly white and male, even as women’s sports and women sports fans are surging, the report says. Moreover, women of color — who are spotlighted in this report for the first time —are among those who have lost ground in recent years.

“The media is failing women across the board,” said Julie Burton, president of the Women’s Media Center. “The Women’s Media Center produces the annual Status of Women in U.S. Media Report to provide an overview of the role of women in media and thereby in society. It is a road map for where we are as a society and where we need to go for women to achieve an equal voice and equal participation. The numbers tell a clear story for the need for change on every media platform.”

WMC released the report today just before an afternoon panel discussion on “Women, Media and Leadership,” being held in conjunction with Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Karen Finney, host of MSNBC’s “Disrupt with Karen Finney” is moderating the panel. Panelists will discuss the report and examine the gender disparities, challenges and opportunities for making women more visible and powerful in media.

Using an avalanche of new surveys, studies and reports, the Women’s Media Center report examines the representation of women in newspapers, online-only news sites, television, radio, social media, video games, film and television, sports news, newsmakers and corporate/technology leadership.

Click here to download the report.

Here are highlights from the 2014 report:

As newsroom staffing declined 6.4 percent from 2011 to 2012, the overall tally of women staffers continued to hover at 36 percent, a figure largely unchanged since 1999. Nevertheless, the count for women of color continued its more extreme fluctuations.

The number of women in radio news jumped 8 percent from 2012 to 2013, narrowing one of the historically widest gender gaps in the news industry. However, elsewhere in broadcast news, there were, as examples, losses in female on-air talent and broadcast managers.

White men continued to dominate the ranks of Sunday morning news talk show guests, except on a single MSNBC show with a black female host.

Two women—1.09 percent—were among the 183 sports talk radio hosts on Talkers magazine’s “Heavy Hundred” list. The Top Ten among Talker’s news talk show “Heavy Hundred” included no women.

More than 150 print publications and websites covering sports—an arena whose editors are 90 percent white and 90 percent male—were slammed with an “F” in an Associated Press Sports Editors-commissioned study.

Over a five-year period ending in 2012, the 500 top-grossing movies had 565 directors, 33 of whom were black and two of that 33 were black women.

Women represent 28.8 percent of speaking characters in the top-grossing films in 2012.

Only six percent of the top 100 films in 2012 hired a balanced cast of women and men.

For production of the 250 top-grossing domestically made films of 2013, women accounted for 16 percent of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers and editors, slightly lower than the 2012 and 1998 figures.

According to a two-month snapshot in 2013, men wrote 82 percent of all film reviews.

Women snared 43 percent of speaking parts in prime-time TV, according to the latest study, up from 41 percent previously. Those women, however, tended to be much younger than their male acting counterparts.

More white women but fewer women of color have been directing prime-time TV shows but the overall numbers for women has remained virtually unchanged.

The report was researched and written for the Women’s Media Center by Katti Gray, veteran journalist and custom content producer. Cindy Royal, Ph.D., an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University in San Marcos reviewed it. Cristal Williams Chancellor, media relations manager of The Women’s Media Center and senior producer for Women’s Media Center Live with Robin Morgan, edited the report.

For more information go to http://www.womensmediacenter.com/pages/2014-statistics

Key Findings from Families’ Education Media Use in America:

February 13th, 2014

NMDOH.jpgFollowing is summary from the recent report on Families’ Education Media Use in America released by the New Mexico Dept of Health. You may also want to see and hear what their experts (Dr. Javier Aceves, Dr. Janis Gonzales and Dr. Neal Horen) and parents have to say about Toddlers and Screen Time.  http://nmhealth.org/phd/mchdaytwo.shtml

Key Findings from Families’ Education Media Use in America:

1. Nearly half (44%) of the screen media 2- to 10-year-olds use is considered educational by their parents (56 minutes out of a total of 2:07 screen media per day). Eight in ten children (80%) use educational media at least once a week, including a third (34%) who are daily users.

2. Most parents think that their child has learned from educational media. Among parents of weekly educational media users:

a. More than half (57%) say their child has learned “a lot” about one or more subject areas (e.g., reading/vocabulary, math, or cognitive skills) from educational media.

b. Fifty-four percent say their child “often” takes specific actions as a result of their exposure to educational media, such as talking about something they saw (38%), engaging in imaginative play based on it (34%), asking questions about it (26%), or asking to do a project or activity inspired by it (18%).

3. Educational media use occurs most frequently among very young children (1:16 a day among 2- to 4-year-olds), with a large drop-off in use as children get older (:50 a day among 5- to 7-year-olds, and :42 a day among 8- to 10-year-olds). As children get older, the amount of time they spend with screen media goes up (from 1:37 to 2:36 a day), and the proportion that is educational goes down (from 78% to 27%).

4. Children spend far more time with educational TV (an average of :42 a day) than they do with educational content on other platforms such as mobile devices (:05), computers (:05), or video games (:03). For every subject except math, parents are more likely to say their child has learned a lot about it from educational television than from any other platform. Educational content on mobile devices was ranked lowest in learning by parents in every subject area.

5. Parents don’t believe their children learn as much from educational media about science as they do about other subject areas. Nineteen percent of parents say their child has learned “a lot” about science from an educational media platform, compared to 37% for reading and cognitive skills development and 28% for math.

6. Across every platform and almost all subject areas studied, Hispanic-Latino parents are the least likely to say their child has learned from educational media. For example, among Hispanic-Latino parents of weekly educational media users, 63% say their child has learned a lot or some about math from computers, compared to 91% of Black and 79% of White parents.

7. Many children have access to and are using electronic reading devices. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of 2- to 10-year-olds now have access to either an e-reader or a tablet device. However, only half (49%) of all children with access to such a device have read or been read to on it. On average, children now spend :05 a day with e-books, compared to :29 a day reading in print. Young children (2- to 4-year-olds) with e-platforms in the home are just as likely as older children (8- to 10-year-olds) to have used them (49% and 53% respectively, not a statistically significant difference.)

Paramount Pictures’ JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT is Awarded First Grownups Seal

January 23rd, 2014

JackRyan.jpgAARP today announced the launch of the AARP Movies for Grownups® Seal, which recognizes films that have a special appeal to 50+ audience members.  The first film to receive the Movies for Grownups Seal is Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions’ JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT, starring Chris Pine and directed by and co-starring Academy Award®-nominee Kenneth Branagh.

To receive AARP’s new Movies for Grownups Seal, a film must be selected by AARP’s Movies for Grownups editorial team, which dedicates hundreds of hours each year to screening eligible blockbusters and independent films, identifying movies with a distinct relevance to the 50+ audience. AARP’s Movies for Grownups Seal is the latest extension of the Movies for Grownups franchise, a highly-respected entertainment platform which was launched in 2002 by the editors of AARP The Magazine and features weekly film reviews, award-winning radio and YouTube programs, film festivals, an annual Movies for Grownups Awards gala and year-round coverage in AARP The Magazine and on AARP.org.

“We are delighted to announce the debut of the Movies for Grownups Movie Seal and are thrilled to award this distinction to JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT,” said Myrna Blyth, SVP and Editorial Director of AARP Media.  “Returning the beloved Tom Clancy character of Jack Ryan to the big screen, the film features performances by 50+ talents including director and co-star Sir Kenneth Branagh and co-star Kevin Costner. We believe the film will hold strong appeal for the 50+ demographic, which is responsible for one in four of all opening weekend ticket sales.”

Films selected to receive AARP’s Movies for Grownups Seal are invited to participate in AARP’s Movies for Grownups Marketing Powerhouse program, selecting their choice of marketing packages. The marketing program for JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT will include promotion on AARP.org and AARP’s digital Daily News Alert, as well as across AARP’s social media channels.  In addition, Paramount Pictures worked with AARP to arrange for screenings of JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT for AARP members in eight markets across the U.S. ahead of the film’s nationwide release.

“We are thrilled to be the very first picture to receive this seal of approval on behalf of such an important and discerning audience of adult filmgoers represented by AARP,” said LeeAnne Stables, EVP of Worldwide Marketing Partnerships, Paramount Pictures.  “The combination of this suspenseful thriller and the talents of Chris Pine, Kevin Costner and director Kenneth Branagh is something moviegoers of all ages will appreciate.”

JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT is playing in theaters now.

Based on the CIA analyst created by the late espionage master Tom Clancy, JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT is a blistering action thriller that follows Ryan (Chris Pine, “Star Trek”) from his quiet double-life as a veteran-turned-Wall Street executive to his all-out initiation as a hunted American agent on the trail of a massive terrorist plot in Moscow.

Ryan appears to be just another New York executive to his friends and loved ones, but his enlistment into the CIA secretly goes back years.  He was brought in as a brainy Ph.D. who crunches global data – but when Ryan ferrets out a meticulously planned scheme to collapse the U.S. economy and spark global chaos, he becomes the only man with the skills to stop it. Now, he’s gone fully operational, thrust into a world of mounting suspicion, deception and deadly force. Caught between his tight-lipped handler Harper (Academy Award®-winner Kevin Costner), his in-the-dark fiancée Cathy (Keira Knightley) and a brilliant Russian oligarch (Kenneth Branagh), Jack must confront a new reality where no one can seem to be trusted, yet the fate of millions rests on his finding the truth.  With the urgency of a lit fuse, he’s in a race to stay one step ahead of everyone around him.

Produced by Mace Neufeld, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, David Barron and Mark Vahradian.  Based on characters created by Tom Clancy.  Written by Adam Cozad and David Koepp.  Directed by Kenneth Branagh.

50 Films you MUST watch before Oscar Night 2014

December 17th, 2013

Awards.jpgThanks to my friend Marshall for this list. Here are his recommendations, based on critics’ awards, industry buzz and personal opinion.

1.    12 Years a Slave

2.    American Hustle

3.    Gravity

4.    Captain Phillips

5.    Nebraska

6.    Inside Llewyn Davis

7.    The Wolf of Wall Street

8.    Her

9.    Saving Mr. Banks

10.  Dallas Buyers Club

11.  Lee Daniel’s The Butler

12.  Philomena

13.  August: Osage County

14.  Blue Jasmine

15.  Rush

16.  All is Lost

17.  Fruitvale Station

18.  Frozen

19.  Enough Said

20.  Before Midnight

21.  The Great Gatsby

22.  Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

23.  Short Term 12

24.  Prisoners

25.  The Wind Rises

26.  Frances Ha

27.  Labor Day

28.  The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

29.  Lone Survivor

30.  Blue is the Warmest Color

31.  Iron Man 3

32.  The Book Thief

33.  Pacific Rim

34.  Monsters University

35.  The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

36.  Spring Breakers

37.  Mud

38.  The Croods

39.  Oz: The Great and Powerful

40.  Stories We Tell

41.  The Invisible Woman

42.  Despicable Me 2

43.  Star Trek: Into Darkness

44.  The Lone Ranger

45.  Ernest & Celestine

46.  The Past

47.  20 Feet from Stardom

48.  The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

49.  Blackfish

50.  Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

Awards Show Schedule:

People’s Choice Awards - Wednesday, January 8th (CBS)
Golden Globes - Sunday, January 12th (NBC)
Critics Choice (BFCA) Awards - Thursday, January 16th (The CW)
Screen Actors Guild Awards - Saturday, January 18th (TNT / TBS)
The Grammys - Sunday, January 26th (CBS)
BAFTA Awards – Sunday, February 16th (BBC America)

Independent Spirit Awards - Saturday, March 1st (IFC)
Academy Awards - Sunday, March 2nd (ABC)

Kid movie news & Free DVDs:
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