'Don't Stop Believin': One singer's journey

PHOTO: FERDIE ARQUERO AND NOMOTA LLC Arnel Pineda performs with Journey in Manila.
PHOTO: FERDIE ARQUERO AND NOMOTA LLC Arnel Pineda performs with Journey in Manila.
Posted: October 01, 2013

* INDEPENDENT LENS. DON'T STOP BELIEVIN': EVERYMAN'S JOURNEY. 10 tonight, WHYY12.

* WE ARE MEN. 8:30 tonight, CBS3.

What I know about the band Journey is pretty much limited to "Glee," the ending of "The Sopranos" and former "American Idol" judge and bass player Randy Jackson, who occasionally prefaced his assessments with the words, "When I was with Journey . . . "

So maybe I'm the last person in the universe to hear about Arnel Pineda, the Filipino club singer who joined the band as its lead singer in 2007 after Journey guitarist Neal Schon saw him on YouTube and whose own journey is the focus of PBS' "Independent Lens" tonight.

But even if you've followed the band's every move since 1973, you'd probably learn something from "Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey."

If only how very, very hard rock stars actually work.

Because the Cinderella story that filmmaker Ramona Diaz ("Imelda") set out to tell when she went on tour with Pineda and Journey doesn't end with the band's decision to hire Pineda. It begins there.

And once it gets beyond the exhilaration of seeing the diminutive Pineda and his very large voice win over first the band and then the audience, "Don't Stop Believin'" becomes the story of a man whose overnight success has taken decades to arrive.

Pineda, who as a teenager spent time living on the streets before singing helped him reunite his siblings under an extremely modest roof, had already had, and very nearly lost, a career in Asia when Schon first reached out to him, and this time he was determined not to lose it, or his voice.

Living the dream requires stamina and a level of discipline the singer (who's older than he looks) hasn't always exercised in the past, and it's the effort, as much as the extraordinary voice, that distinguishes him here.

By the time the band arrives in Manila for Pineda's emotional homecoming, every note feels as if it's been earned.

'We Are Men'

What could be better, as CBS' "How I Met Your Mother" continues its final season - and we get to know the woman who'll at last transform Josh Radnor into Bob Saget - than to follow it with a show that celebrates the potentially ugly aftermath of such a union?

It's called "We Are Men," a marginally better title than "How I Dumped Your Mother (Or She Dumped Me)," and while it's not the season's worst show, I'm fairly confident it's the season's worst waste of Tony Shalhoub ("Monk"), Kal Penn ("House") and Jerry O'Connell ("Jerry Maguire").

All three play - wait for it - men living in a short-term apartment complex. Its newest resident (Chris Smith) was left at the altar and may or may not benefit from the advice of guys who've also found themselves uncoupled (some more than once).

It was only a couple of seasons ago that every other new sitcom either seemed to have "Men" or "Girls" in the title (this fall, it's "Dads" or "Mom"), but "We Are Men" feels like a throwback to a much earlier time.

I'd probably have left it there.


Email: graye@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5950

On Twitter: @elgray

Blog: ph.ly/EllenGray

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