Friday, December 17, 2010

Who Does Gwyneth Paltrow Think She Is?

One of my favorite shows of recent years has been NBC's fascinating Who Do You Think You Are. The show, expertly researched and produced (by Dan Bucatinsky and one of last year's subjects, Lisa Kudrow), has been one of the inspirations for my own delving into genealogy, and my search has already yielded not only fun and surprising results, but also a few fun, interesting new relatives in Europe whom I've already had the pleasure of meeting and visiting (i.e., freeloading.)

The show's resident genealogist, Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, has visited us on Sirius XM's The Frank DeCaro Show, and I hope she'll come back again to discuss her work on this second batch of celebrities. Last year, we learned that Sarah Jessica Parker has American roots that go back as far as the Salem witch trials and that Brooke Shields is descended from the kings of France. We went with Spike Lee to visit his white distant cousin, and with Emmitt Smith to an ancestral country in Africa.

This year, the list of celebs looks fascinating as well. Rosie O'Donnell was just photographed by paparazzi as she appeared at the public library in Jersey City, NJ, researching her roots for the show; as she later explained on her radio show on Sirius XM, she has been told that her work on the show will involve her leaving the country twice -- and she assumes she'll be going to Ireland -- but that excitingly, she won't know her exact destinations until she leaves for the plane.

Having recently accosted Gwyneth Paltrow's mother, the gracious and lovely Blythe Danner, on my flight to New Orleans, I know that the Danner roots reach back to the earliest times in the United States. And who wouldn't want to tune in to learn more about the gorgeous gumbo of genetic ingredients it must take to produce someone as beautiful and talented as Vanessa Williams?

Here's the NBC press release with the full list of names. Who Do You Think You Are returns to NBC on Friday, February 4.

NBC ANNOUNCES THE CELEBRITIES TRACING THEIR FAMILY TREES ON SEASON TWO OF ‘WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?’ PREMIERING FEBRUARY 4,780,885,850,752,684,710,705,765,674,677,767,684,762,718,674,708,683,706,718,674

Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Rosie O’Donnell, Steve Buscemi, Kim Cattrall, Lionel Richie, Vanessa Williams and Ashley Judd Take a Look Inside Their Family Histories on NBC’s Genealogy Alternative Series Produced by Lisa Kudrow

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – December 16, 2010 – Viewers can take an up-close and personal look inside the family history of some of today’s most beloved and iconic celebrities when NBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” returns for its second season on Friday, February 4 (8-9 p.m. ET). The celebrities who star in the series are Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Rosie O’Donnell, Steve Buscemi, Kim Cattrall, Lionel Richie, Vanessa Williams and Ashley Judd.

From executive producers Lisa Kudrow (“Friends,” “The Comeback”) and Dan Bucatinsky (“Lipstick Jungle,” “The Comeback”) – through their production company Is or Isn’t Entertainment and Shed Media U.S. (“Supernanny,” “The Real Housewives of New York City”) -- “Who Do You Think You Are?” is an adaptation of the award-winning hit British television documentary series that leads celebrities on a journey of self-discovery as they unearth their family trees that reveal surprising, inspiring and even tragic stories that often are linked to crucial events in American history.

“I've been a fan of the U.K. version of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ for a long time, so it's very rewarding that the U.S. version is back with more compelling stories this season that are illuminating, touching and aspirational,” said Kudrow. “This is such a unique show for network television and we're all thrilled that the American audience has embraced it.”

From the trenches of the Civil War to the shores of the Caribbean, and from the valleys of Virginia to the island nations of Australia and Ireland, “Who Do You Think You Are?” will reveal the fabric of humanity through everyone’s place in history. Each week a different celebrity takes a journey into their family’s past, traveling all over the world. While giving viewers an in-depth look into their favorite stars’ family tree, each episode will expose surprising facts and life changing encounters that will unlock people’s emotions, show just how connected everyone is not only to the past, but to one another. is NBC and Shed’s official partner on the series and will help provide the research used to tell each story. “We’re thrilled with this year’s strong lineup and look forward to helping Americans go on their own journey of discovery alongside the stars,” said Josh Hanna, Head of Global Marketing for

Friday, December 10, 2010

Is there Nothing Meryl Streep Can't Do?

Last night, braving the New York cold on the sidewalk in front of the New World Stages, new Saturday Night Live cast members Vanessa Bayer and Paul Brittain shot one of the show's now trademark digital shorts. Posing as theatergoers in one of those ubiquitous New York area TV commercials, they raved about having seen Meryl as never before, as a poster behind them revealed the hilarious title of LaStreep's supposed wintertime show.

I won't ruin the joke by revealing the title; and besides, I don't have to put this item on ice for too long, because SNL airs tomorrow, with guest host Paul Rudd and musical guest Paul McCartney.