Tuned In: Lubinsky goes classical for PBS pledge special

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For his latest PBS pledge special, Pine-based producer T.J. Lubinsky offers up "My Music: Classical Rewind" (5 p.m. Saturday, 10:30 a.m. Sunday, WQED-TV).

It's a departure for Mr. Lubinsky, who is best known for presenting doo-wop and folk music specials, although he's quick to point out that doo-wop accounts for only 20 percent of the pledge specials he's produced for PBS since 1998.

"This is not intended to be a 'Great Performances' show, they're the best at what they do, but it's designed to bring new people in the door who have no clue what classical music really is," Mr. Lubinsky said. "I've heard the music all my life -- in cartoons, in movies, in commercials -- it's always been there but I never knew what this piece was called, who was the composer and I certainly didn't feel comfortable trying to pronounce their names. It's almost like you're intimidated by it in a way. ... I wanted to take the intimidation out of classical music."

Music from the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries from Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Vivaldi will be featured in a video jukebox style that sets the tunes to video of rivers, nature, art of the composers, and shots of what inspired them and the places they came from.

Hosted by Martin Goldsmith (former host of public radio's "Performance Today"), "Classical Rewind" features introductions by musicians -- including Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn and Stewart Copeland of The Police -- who explain what each classical piece means to them. Some of the interviews were taped at Mr. Lubinsky's Gibsonia studio when the musicians came to perform in Pittsburgh.

Contrary to a description of the show in WQED's online listings ("Classical masterpieces are accompanied by dancing girls"), Mr. Lubinsky said that only applies to the Can-can. Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" and Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" will be featured along with Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor," introduced with a vintage clip of the late Jonathan Frid, most famous for playing Barnabas Collins on TV's "Dark Shadows."

"I wanted to make something that is reaching for the common person," Mr. Lubinsky said of "Classical Rewind," "the person who is not in opera houses."

A test broadcast of the program in San Francisco raised $32,000 when it was only expected to pull in $12,000.

If "Classical Rewind" proves successful nationwide, Mr. Lubinsky may try an opera-themed show in the future. But he's not forsaking pop music memory shows, which continue to push forward into the 1970s and, perhaps, beyond.

"We're trying to figure out how to get the '80s into PBS," he said. "I want to do something with '80s talent."

Kept/canceled

Lifetime renewed "Witches of East End" for a 13-episode second season to air in 2014.

As expected, A&E ordered a third season of "Longmire" with plans to air 10 episodes in 2014.

"Instant Mom" received a second season order from Nick at Nite and NickMom.

MTV canceled late-night talk show "Nikki & Sara Live."

Investigation Discovery renewed "Deadly Affairs" for a third season to air next summer and E! will bring back WWE reality show "Total Divas" for a second season.

BBC America renewed its new fantasy series "Atlantis" for a second season

Channel surfing

HBO's "Treme" returns for its final five episodes at 9 p.m. Sunday. ... NBC's "Saturday Night Live" closes out 2013 with Paul Rudd hosting Dec. 7 with One Direction as musical guest. John Goodman hosts Dec. 14 with Kings of Leon as musical guest. Jimmy Fallon hosts Dec. 21 with Justin Timberlake as musical guest. ... Reruns of the previous day's CBS daytime soap "The Bold and the Beautiful" will air weekdays at 6:30 p.m. on TVGN (formerly TV Guide Network) beginning Dec. 2. ... TLC spins off "Cake Boss" with "Bakery Boss" (9 p.m. Monday), essentially a "Kitchen Nightmares" for bakeries as Buddy Valastro helps struggling bakers get their businesses on track. ... Reruns of the canceled Hallmark Channel talk show "Marie" will air on ReelzChannel at 10 a.m. beginning Jan. 6, and the network has the option to acquire additional episodes. ... "Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor" set records for BBC America viewership on Saturday, drawing 3.6 million viewers combined to its daytime premiere and prime-time encore.

Tuned In online

Today's TV Q&A column responds to questions about "Hostages," "Pit Boss" and local TV news. This week's Tuned In Journal includes posts on "The Mentalist," "Breaking Bad," "Downton Abbey" and local TV news. Read online-only TV content at post-gazette.com/tv.

This week's podcast includes conversation about Amazin's "Betas," "Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor" and HBO's "Getting On." Subscribe or listen at http://old.post-gazette.com/podcast.


TV writer Rob Owen: rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook for breaking TV news.

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