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[VIDEO] Binging with Babish: Freddy’s Ribs from House of Cards 

Frank Underwood is many things: A husband. A politician. A duplicitous, machiavellian psychosexual deviant with a bloodlust for power. A purveyor of fine Carolinian barbecue. Opening just for him at 7:30AM is Freddy’s Ribs, a southern barbecue joint that we can surmise is serving ‘cue up in the style of Underwood’s hometown of Gaffney, South Carolina. Just in time for Father’s Day, here’s three different means by which to achieve that genuine Southern barbecue, even from the confines of a 4th-story walkup. Read the rest of this entry »

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Too Much TV? 2015 Had Record 409 Scripted Shows

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Executive: ‘This statistic is staggering and almost unimaginable’

James Gibbered writes: If you feel like there’s an overwhelming number of TV series options, there’s a very good reason for that.

“The unprecedented increase in the number of scripted series has reached a new milestone in 2015 with a record 409, nearly doubling the total in just the past six years.”

FX has calculated that in 2015 networks and streaming services had a record 409 dramas, comedies and limited series — and that’s not even including unscripted shows or TV movies. Digging into the data, the number of scripted series this year was up 9 percent over 2014, and has doubled since 2009 — while network ratings have, on average, declined.

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“This was the third consecutive year that scripted series count has grown across each distribution platform – broadcast, basic and pay cable, streaming — led by significant gains in basic cable and digital services.”

“The unprecedented increase in the number of scripted series has reached a new milestone in 2015 with a record 409, nearly doubling the total in just the past six years,” said Julie Piepenkotter, executive vice president of research for FX Networks.

This statistic is staggering and almost unimaginable from where they were a decade ago.”

“This was the third consecutive year that scripted series count has grown across each distribution platform – broadcast, basic and pay cable, streaming — led by significant gains in basic cable and digital services. This statistic is staggering and almost unimaginable from where they were a decade ago.”

[Read the full story here, at EW.com]

If you assume each show is 13 hours (which is really conservative given that many hour-long broadcast dramas have 22-episode seasons), that would mean there were 5,317 hours of potential scripted TV to watch this year. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] 快乐光棍节“节 Kevin Spacey Wishes China a Happy Singles’ Day

“Good evening to the great people of China. I am the 45th president of the United States, Frank J. Underwood. And tonight, I wanted to take a moment to say hello to all of you out there to wish you a happy Singles’ Day.”

Felicia Sonmez and Gillian Wong report: Is Frank Underwood a fan of online shopping in China? We couldn’t possibly comment.

On Tuesday, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba rang in China’s Singles’ Day online shopping holiday with a star-studded gala at Beijing’s Water Cube. The event included a video appearance by actor Kevin Spacey, who plays the scheming politician Frank Underwood in the hit U.S. TV series “House of Cards.” The show airs online in China and is a favorite of China’s anticorruption czar – and perhaps even its top leader.

“Good evening to the great people of China. I am the 45th president of the United States, Frank J. Underwood. And tonight, I wanted to take a moment to say hello to all of you out there to wish you a happy Singles’ Day,” Mr. Spacey says in character in the video, which shows him seated at a presidential desk….(read more)

Source: China Real Time Report – WSJ


How Meddlesome Government is Making your Barbecue More Expensive and Less Tasty

The Houston Rodeo Barbecue Grand Champion Kerry Fellows with the pit he used from Pitts by JJ on the Eastex Freeway Saturday March 09, 2013.(Dave Rossman/ For the Chronicle)

The Houston Rodeo Barbecue Grand Champion Kerry Fellows with the pit he used from Pitts by JJ on the Eastex Freeway Saturday March 09, 2013.(Dave Rossman/ For the Chronicle)

Why Freddy’s Barbecue Couldn’t Really Exist

 writes: Between taking bites out of his political opponents, Frank Underwood, in the first two seasons of Netflix’s “House of Cards,” liked to visit a hole-in-the-wall barbecue joint called Freddy’s. Freddy’s BBQ is fictional and the 100-best-bbqshow used a shack in Baltimore for the set.

[Check out Johnny Fugitt’s book “The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America” at Amazon.com]

DC tourists may be disappointed to learn they cannot sample Frank’s favorite ribs, but the most disappointing fact is not that Freddy’s is fictional. The sad truth is that Freddy’s could simply not exist in DC or in most major cities today.

While researching barbecue restaurants for my recently released book, The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America I visited 365 barbecue restaurants across 48 states. Many owners shared with me that their businesses are hampered by local environmental, safety, and health regulations

Nathaniel E. Bell/Netflix, via Associated Press Kevin Spacey as the ruthless American politician Francis Underwood with Robin Wright as his wife, Claire. Nathaniel E. Bell/Netflix, via Associated Press

No Tasty Barbecue For You

In Houston, for example, Pizzitola’s Barbecue hangs its hat on being the only remaining Houston barbecue restaurant to cook with a traditional open pit. Pizzitola’s has been smoking barbecue this way for 50 years and was grandfathered into the local safety law banning their traditional method of smoking meat.

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“The White Swan came under federal regulations and were required to use electric cookers rather than continuing to smoke as they had for generations.”

As newer barbecue restaurants popped up just outside city limits, Houston lost tax revenue and residents had to leave the city for great barbecue—everyone lost.

[Read the full story here, at TheFederalist.com]freddysbbq

Houston lost tax revenue and residents had to leave the city for great barbecue—everyone lost.

“Today, cities require restaurants to invest tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in safety hoods and equipment.”

It might seem unfair for Pizzitola’s to have such an exemption and, thus, an advantage over their competition, but it’s actually a blessing and a curse. If Pizzitola’s were to make any major changes to the restaurant—like adding a patio or dining-room space—they would lose their grandfathered-in status.

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Pizzitola’s cannot adapt to compete with other restaurants because this risks losing the way they have been preparing barbecue for 50 years. Eventually this handicap will catch up to them.

No More Opportunities For the Little Guys

Although local regulations have done the most damage, federal regulations are also to blame. From the 1940s until 2009, The White Swan smoked traditional North Carolina pork over smoldering oak.

“It was a shame to see a historic, small town, family-run barbecue joint forced to serve cooked pork rather than traditional smoked barbecue simply to comply with federal food regulations.”

When they franchised in 2009 (and created a number of new jobs), The White Swan came under federal regulations and were required to use electric cookers rather than continuing to smoke as they had for generations.  It was a shame to see a historic, small town, family-run barbecue joint forced to serve cooked pork rather than traditional smoked barbecue simply to comply with federal food regulations. Read the rest of this entry »


TELEVISION: Catching Up On 2 Seasons Of ‘House Of Cards’ Depressingly Manageable

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SOMERVILLE, MA—Noting that he only needs to watch 26 full episodes of the political drama, local man Ben Atwell revealed Thursday that catching up on the previous two seasons of the Netflix show House Of Cards should be depressingly manageable. “I shouldn’t have any trouble getting through both seasons in the next few days,” said Atwell, who told reporters that he currently does not have any obligations in his life that might prevent him from maintaining a comfortable, extremely sad pace of watching six or seven of the hour-long episodes each day. Read the rest of this entry »