Story By: G. H. HARDING
James Spader

SPADER'S WORLD --- NBC’s The Blacklist ended their raucous and very successful first season Monday night with the conclusion of a two-part arc. First: James Spader is positively mesmerizing on this show; you simply cannot take your eyes off him. His line readings are addicting and the way he chews the scenery are nothing short of fantastic.

Second: While this episode was thrilling and the plot points many indeed; the best episodes of this show, including the pilot and the December-finale, written by director Joe Carnahan, were heads-and-tails the best ones of this series.

This one contained so many plot points and developments (including the great Alan Alda reprising his cloak-and-dagger government rep), that I had to go back and watch it again. The legendary Peter Stomare was the main culprit here and his acting did not disappoint. Stormare has been in so many great epics (The Big Lebowski; Fargo; Bad Boys; Armageddon) that watching him was akin to watching a master class in acting. He tells a story in the episode that is almost hypnotic and could well be the highlight here.

Stomare’s character lives on and one can only hope for a great scene (or, two) between him and Spader next season. The episode answered several questions in the grand scheme of things, but several new questions were also posed as well. Great show; great season; If Spader doesn't win the Emmy here … something is definitely askew in the TV world.

MUSICAL MADNESS --- Blogger-producer Ken Davenport recently dropped a few compelling statistics about original-versus-adapted musicals on Broadway in Deadline Hollywood: “Over the past 30 years, 82% of the new tuners on Broadway were adapted from movies and/or books or other material. Only 18% were original. About the same percentage — 83% — took the Best Musical Tony Award. And one-third of the original musicals (this season’s sole example, if you include original music, being If/Then, which was passed over for a Best Musical nomination) ran less than a month.

If/Then already has beaten those odds, while demonstrating that being a genuine, Broadway-minted star can still mean green at the box office. The reviews for If/Then, about a woman who experiences the divergent paths her life might have taken given certain choices, were all over the place. But I don't recall anything but raves for Idina Menzel‘s performance in the leading role. Rent made her a star, Wicked made her a supernova, and one can surmise that all the girls who went — and went back again — to that show to relive the triumph of Elphaba are now young women who, as with the stars of an earlier time, feel they've grown up with their heroine. Judy Garland of course comes to mind, and Elizabeth Taylor and, to be Broadway specific, Patty Duke. I'm certain you can remind me of others.

If/Then, at the 1,311-seat Richard Rodgers Theatre, continues to take in more than $1 million per week at the box office — very close to its gross potential of $1.3 million — and has a respectable average ticket price of $106.48. A Tony win for Menzel’s performance (or for Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s score, for that matter) may not confer the prestige or long-term financial bump of a Best Musical win, but it will help keep the show in the public eye. And give producer David Stone and his partners a slightly better chance to see a return on their $10 million investment (beyond, that is, the satisfaction that in a business where both imitation and failure are the rule, they accomplished something extraordinary).”

Interesting for sure. We saw If/Then … didn't love it, but Menzel was staggeringly terrific.

Remember NBC’s live-performance of The Sound of Music (starring Carrie Underwood) last December? For this writer, it was somewhat under whelming, but the ratings were spectacular. Now, Fox TV will be doing a live presentation of the 1978 movie hit Grease … in 2015.

KASEM MISSING --- Legendary radio-icon Casey Kasem is missing, at least to everyone in his life except, possibly, his wife, Jean.

Kasem, 82, is suffering from advanced Parkinson's Disease and can no longer speak. There have been a number of incidences over the years where Casey's three children from a previous marriage have claimed that they were blocked from seeing their father by Jean Kasem.

They now fear that Jean has taken Casey out of the country so that they cannot see him before he passes away. According to the New York Daily News, Kasem had been in an adult care facility until last week when Jean took him out and allegedly transported him to either an Indian Reservation in the state of Washington or Canada. Daughter Kerri told the paper "He's very ill and fragile right now. He would need an airplane with special medical services. In my opinion, this is something only someone with severe mental illness would do."

On Monday, a judge ordered an investigation into Kasem's whereabouts. Judge Daniel S. Murphy ordered a court investigator and adult protective services to locate the former host and report back to the court along with appointing daughter Kerri as temporary caretaker. The judge also appointed a doctor to look into Kasem's care.

A previous filing, made last week, accused Jean Kasem of elder abuse by making it so that Casey could not see his children. Sad story indeed.

CLOSING NOTES --- Looks like the ABC reality-show Sing Your Face Off –shot last year and shelved somewhat mysteriously, will finally be appearing starting May 31. Staring Debbie Gibson; SNL’s Darrell Hammond and Jon Lovitz; Sebastian Bach (from the metal band Skid Row); Lisa Rinna; and, from the Disney Channel China Anne McClain are the primary stars on the show which feature celebrities who are transformed and trained to perform as a legendary musical icon. Over the course of the series, the five will take on the identity of an iconic music performer. The celebrities could find themselves transformed into someone far older, younger or even someone of the opposite sex.

Sounds somewhat daft ... wouldn't you agree? Will be interesting to see how many segments actually air. Can't wait to read there reviews on this one. Stay tuned …

I think there’s no question that after his diatribe against New York City in New York Magazine earlier this year; the powers-that-be will now go to any length to put Alec Baldwin down. How else to explain his being handcuffed and escorted to the local precinct after a biking maneuver yesterday? He’s a great actor, but clearly there are some issues still at hand. Sad indeed …

One of our all-time favorites here, Mark Oliver Everett (aka Eels) is out with a new album called The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett is now out and available as a standard 13 track CD, deluxe 26 track double CD; here’s the video on the single “Mistakes of My Youth” .

My favorite new record label name: Top Notch Records ...