Friday, 31 March 2023

‘US Open’ brings back the tennis fans; Cable TV preview

Last year, the US Open tennis tournament in New York proceeded without fans and only a handful of media were on hand to cover the event.

This year, due to the outdoor nature of the venue, full capacity is allowed for fans, but much less so for the media.

Once again, our coverage is limited to the remote method, which is about thrilling as grocery shopping or standing in a queue for more than a day to be among the first to see the newest “Star Wars” film (apologies to the hardcore fans).

Maybe being remote this year is just as well. US Open distributed a media guide which informs that only every other workstation will be available, meaning you would have an empty desk next to you. Are people aware that many commercial airplanes are flying at full capacity?

As of this writing, the US Open’s media-only site has malfunctioned, adding to frustration on coverage options. Here’s hoping that next year we are back to in-person reporting, especially to chronicle the awesome fan experience.

What’s more, the media dining room isn’t open for food service. Media have to dine in the food courts, but on the plus side, the daily meal allowance has been doubled. The good news for the media and the fans is that this year’s food experience looks to be better than ever.

The largest retail and dining experience in the world, Eataly is a new concession. The gourmet sandwiches of Brooklyn-based Stuf’d make their debut. Also new is Stacked Sandwich Shop offering a vegan muffuletta. Hunger pangs are setting in now.

One sign that the pandemic has taken a toll is that the US Open has launched a mental health initiative to support the players with the “necessary resources to compete at the highest level.”

On Opening Night, tennis legend Billie Jean King remarked that the “heart of New York City is Broadway and Broadway is back,” thus introducing the evening’s entertainment prior to the first match.

Beginning first with the backup singers, the Tony award-nominated “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” provided a taste for the fans with show stars Aaron Tveit and Natalie Mendoza headlining the ceremonial performance.

A coincidence of bad timing, this year’s US Open suffers from the withdrawal of several marquee players. For the first time since 2003, both American sisters Serena and Venus Williams are not participating.

Still a teenager, Coco Gauff, who reached the third round in her first appearance at the US Open and now ranked No. 23, is clearly someone to watch, but lost to fellow American Sloane Stephens in straight sets. Notwithstanding the loss, Gauff competes in women’s doubles.

On the men’s side, stars Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are out due to injuries. Thus, the path may be cleared for Novak Djokovic to pull of the feat of winning the grand slam of the four major tournaments if he takes the Open’s championship trophy.

Even if the star power of the top tennis icons is missing, it’s worth watching on ESPN to see if Djokovic prevails or how far an American player goes.

While thirteen American men advanced to the second round, the most since 1994, setbacks still remain since America’s highest-ranked male player John Isner lost in the first round.


This should be a preview of upcoming programs, but for the Hulu streaming service the fall season has mostly begun, notably with Steve Martin in a comedic murder-mystery series he helped to develop with creative partners Dan Fogelman and John Hoffman.

“Only Murders in the Building” follows three strangers (Martin, Selena Gomez and Martin Short) living in an apartment building on New York’s tony Upper West Side and who share an obsession with true crime and suddenly find themselves wrapped up in one.

With this triangle of two Boomers and one Millennial as amateur sleuths investigating a murder, we not only get a great cast with chemistry but a delightfully funny series. Adding to the comic formula is Nathan Lane in a recurring role.

Based on Liane Moriarty’s bestselling book, “Nine Perfect Strangers” is an eight-episode series with an ensemble cast that include notable figures who converge at a wellness resort that seems as dull as it is pretentious.

The Tranquillum House spa is run inexplicably by Nicole Kidman’s Masha, a Russian as autocratic as Vladimir Putin but at least not riding a horse shirtless like the leader of her homeland.

After viewing a few episodes, it seems that the visitors for the ten-day retreat are asking themselves how did they end up in this lush yet dubious place. I started asking myself the same even when it was fun to watch Melissa McCarthy and Bobby Cannavale sparring.

A limited series inspired by Beth Macy’s book, “Dopesick” arrives later this fall to examine how one company triggered the worst drug epidemic in American history.

In the struggle with opioid addiction, “Dopesick” has its heroes emerging in an intense and thrilling ride to take down the craven corporate forces behind this national crisis.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

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