Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

Johnny Depp Slated to Play First American Dr. Who

July 2, 2010

Hello, my pretties!  It’s been so long since I’ve spoken with you (all three of you), but this Summer has easily been the most hectic of my life.  So I’m currently trying to readjust.  While doing so, however, I wanted to fire back up the rantsite and dish on some Who-news that I just received word of via Twitter (I don’t care what anyone says, that site is just plain genius), hopefully I’m not too rusty at wringing my fists in the air while attempting to type words.  I have only recently fallen under the spell of the Dr. Who-nomenon (See what I did there?) that has dominated the BBC on-and-off for the better half of the century, and after falling for it, it has become impossible to revert back.  David Tennant is my current favorite portrayal of the good Doctor with Matt Smith following closely behind (It takes a LOT of work to make bow ties cool).

Long story short, I’m just starting to get into the show and TRY to understand the YEARS of backstory that come with the character.  Part of the appeal of Dr. Who, for me, anyway, is that it is a thoroughly British show with the most strictly British writing teams, fan bases, producers, and talent.  It appears to exist much like the Doctor does himself, in a microcosm outside of the norm.  For the Doctor, that norm is time and space, as he can transcend either.  For the show itself, that norm is Hollywood and hyper-mainstream-American production.  Of course, if a product is garnering money, buzz, and cult attention, Hollywood will never be far behind.  Just today, news broke of Johnny Depp being in talks to star as the first American Dr. Who in one of the film installments to the series.  While multiple bloggers have already weighed in on the obvious casting, my favorite points have still been made by Tom Chivers at the TelegraphHere’s the article.  Basically my problems are as follows:

1. Hollywood will see Depp interested/starring in the role and automatically consider the series to be viable, at which point they will acquire it with their boatloads of money and ruin everything the series has ever strived towards, all in that order.

2.  Depp is an American.  While I may seem like a Benedict Arnold by renouncing my own American people’s ability to play British, I would submit that we do it all the time.  Much flap was made about the casting behind The Last Airbender (which I hear is a really great flick, BWAAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAAA), and I myself have decried the crime that is remaking Let the Right One In a year after the original simply because American audiences don’t fancy subtitles.  So I would further like to submit that an American Dr. Who could only work with an extremely adept actor (Depp does pass this qualification relatively easily) who has as expansive a knowledge of the Who-niverse as any British citizen would (Which I doubt Depp has).  Dr. Who is so thoroughly ingrained in British culture that you can find references to the series throughout the last 6 decades across all different forms of pop culture.  What I’m trying to relate is that a British actor, born and raised in the United Kingdom, will arguably bring a working knowledge and informed relationship to the Doctor that any average American will only be debriefed on in rehearsals and table-reads.  Unless, of course, Depp has had a life-long love affair with the series of which I did not know about.  I’m always open-minded!

The bottom line is that Dr. Who exists outside of the sphere of Hollywood influence that has SO oftentimes ruined the nearest and dearest characters closest to our hearts.  Dr. Who represents a foreign commodity that is not ours.  Almost a cultural natural resource of the United Kingdom.  And in the last 50 years or so, Hollywood has managed to become a major colonial force in the cultural world.  Exploring and acquiring foreign entries into pop culture and twisting them to become thier own.  Look at Kath and kim, Death at a Funeral, and Dragonball, just to name a few (This is a great list of roughly 17 total entries from the AV Club).  With a penchant for ruining franchises that have experienced great runs on their own, I am extremely trepidatious of this deal, to say the least.  That being said, it would be interesting if former Who showrunner Russell T. Davies got all the elements right, properly brought the Doctor overseas and then exploded the phenomenon onto American soil, making the Doctor the most popular he’s ever been.  Man, I play a great devil’s advocate.

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Cartoon Network Making Some Good/Some Not-So-Good Decisions

April 21, 2010

I realized the other day why the blog of Shway has been neglected recently (That almost rhymed).  On top of the fact that my life has only accelerated at three times the normal rate lately,  I have ALSO become an avid twittererererer.  You should find me at twitter.com/thealexhluch. Anyway, I found THIS news on twitter this morning, which is basically a breakdown of Cartoon Network’s upcoming line-up.  Interspersed throughout are some interesting tidbits, such as an awards show for sports stars (?), another DC Justice League incarnation regarding younger superheroes (Teen Titans, anyone?), and a cartoon sketch comedy show which has donned the moniker of MAD magazine (This, I actually support).  However, the most startling/jostling/frightening news is the rebooted Looney Toons franchise.  The concept behind which is that the show will now focus on half hour, fully-fleshed-out ideas between the classic tunes, who have now been moved to the suburbs (see: Tiny Toons).  As the article points out, this seems counter-intuitive to the entire Looney Toons model and especially dense considering today’s audience of Youtubers used to clips under a MAXIMUM of ten minutes.  Of course, Tiny Toons worked (fifteen years ago, with the brilliance of Bruce Timm and Paul Dini behind it), so SURELY the WB knows what it’s doing.  Right?  RIGHT?!?

THR: Bugs Bunny Returns

Nathan Rabin’s “Why Some Comics Aren’t Laughing at Jay Leno”

January 17, 2010

This is an amazing article about the recent backlash against Leno and how it’s been a long time coming, at least in the Comedy world.  The author, Nathan Rabin, makes great points throughout the article, but none struck me quite as significantly as when he points to the fact that Leno represents the comedy of mediocrity.  Big Chin seemed to cash in all his credibility and chutzpah from the 80’s when he took over The Tonight Show from Carson.  Now, we have seen him pander to the lowest common denominator night after night, in an effort to maintain his ratings and vice-hold on the market.   What I didn’t necessarily agree with was the entire section diagramming comedy writer’s innate jealousy for other writer’s success.  While I am an EXTREMELY jealous, catty person, and I COMPLETELY fall into this category, I’m not certain that the whole of the comedy collective does.  In some circles, comedy is still very communal and viewed as a sort of team sport, with groups trying to make it and bring their team with them.  Also, while I do detest Leno’s success, I hate it because I feel that he hasn’t earned it.  Every night that Conan has a hit show, or every post I read in defense of Conan, I revel in, because I WANT to see Conan succeed, because I love his work and respect him so greatly.  Overall, however, the article is FANTASTIC, and made it onto The Wall Street Journal.  You may have heard of it. 

Why Some Comics Aren’t Laughing at Jay Leno

Letterman Comes to Conan’s Aid and Bashes Leno

January 13, 2010

Remember when the late-night wars were about ratings, and generally between the stations?  Well, not anymore!!!  Jay Leno is REALLY ruffling the feathers of talk show-hosts nation-wide and his old friend Mr. Letterman is finally speaking out on it.  While I am in NO WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM, a Letterman fan, I actually quite enjoyed these two clips that I was sent on Ain’t It Cool.  Maybe out of all this insanity, Craig Ferguson can emerge and finally get the recognition he deserves.  Enjoy!

Clip on CBS.com!

Conan O’Brien Beats NBC With a Weapon They Know Nothing Of: Tact.

January 12, 2010

My, has it been an exciting week in Hollywoodland!  First my dreams come true with the usurping of Raimi’s Spider-man franchise, and now Conan is finally telling NBC to shove it!  Hurray for bold moves!

What has developed over at NBC is the result of piss-poor decision-making and NBC’s acquiescense to Jay Leno, the antiquated comedian who ousted Letterman for the very position in question oh so many years ago.  The Peacock Network had moved Leno up to an unprecedented 10 o’clock time slot from his 11:30 time slot on The Tonight Show in an attempt to replace more expensive, scripted programming with Leno’s much cheaper, theoretcially more popular, late-night show.  The move was absolutely disastrous for NBC’s late-night ratings, and eventually proved to be poisonous to all surrounding programs, even local news sets!  As the show directly following Leno, The Tonight Show (now manned by a promoted Conan O’Brien) began to lose steam in the ratings race, as well.  Things became so bad for NBC that local broadcasting affiliates threatened to drop the network if it did not resolve the late-night fiasco and attempt to salvage their numbers. 

No answer is easily found in this equation.  At least not to the exectutives.  For me, it’s quite simple.  Fire Leno, forever, and leave Conan right where he is.  Replace that God awful attempt of a show that Leno perpetrated with the scripted television that he replaced.  Le sigh.  But this isn’t my world, pretties.  No, this is Earth.  The same place where Paris Hilton is still allowed to exist.  Anyway, the problem is that Leno is financially more bankable than Conan in the numbers game.  Well, he was, at least, when all these prior moves went down.  The other problem is that Conan and Leno both have AMAZING agents and managers who have managed to give NBC a huge headache over this whole debacle.  Conan is contracted to host The Tonight Show, and cannot be removed from that franchise, which means that they can’t merely push Conan back and call Leno’s new failure “The Tonight Show.”  That is Conan’s and Conan’s only.  The loophole is that they CAN simply move the age-old Tonight Show wherever they want it.  Which is precisely what NBC would like to do.  Word broke on Sunday that The Jay Leno Show would be moving to an 11:35 time slot and would promptly push O’Brien’s Tonight Show to 12:05.  This seemed to solve all their problems at once, as it made good on Conan’s contract and it put Leno (who is contracted millions of dollars whether he works or not, so dropping him is simply out of the question) back where he is most poised to make money.  This seemed to solve all of their problems…until Conan did what I absolutely love him for.  He unwaveringly stood his ground.  O’Brien issued a statement on January 12th stating that he would not move the program to the new time slot as it would “damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting.”  O’Brien also sighted that the move would be unfair to his replacement on Late Night, Jimmy Fallon.  With an incredible amount of poise and tact, Conan went on to describe how he had been preparing for years for the opportunity to host The Tonight Show and that he refused to see it eventually go down in flames due to NBC’s negligence. 

Whether or not you believe that Conan is really looking towards the future and actually attempting to salvage everyone’s career who is involved, you have to acknowledge that Conan has managed to come out on top of this situation the least-unscathed.  And while it very well may be that this is all one big ego trip about time slots and who’s playing second fiddle, I honestly don’t think it matters.  Conan’s points about the franchise of The Tonight Show inevitably tanking are all MORE than relevant, and his comment regarding being unfair to Fallon is a double-edged sword which reminds the public just how unfair NBC is being to Conan, himself!  O’Brien was promised the chance to carry on The Tonight Show’s legacy and that chance is being further and further diminished by NBC’s thoughtless business practices. 

Which brings me to my favorite part.  As Conan himself states in his letter, you needn’t be sorry for him. While he doesn’t specifically address this notion, the fact of the matter is that he is far too lucrative a talent to be thrown to the wolves.  If NBC refuses to make good on what they promised him, Conan will EASILY be able to find other, better opportunities elsewhere.  Personally, I think that O’Brien is a gargantuan talent that has not been able to fully grow yet, as a comedian and an artist.  I wish that he would enlist with a low-budget cable network (*ahem* Comedy Central *ahem*) where he would have full creative control and be restricted by absolutely nothing but his own mind.  Regardless of where he ends up, however, there is one thing that I would certainly put my money on: Conan O’Brien WILL have the last laugh.  And that puts an even bigger smile on my face than the one I had yesterday when I heard that Mopey Maguire would no longer be Spider-Man.  At this rate, I can’t wait to see what happens tomorrow!  Maybe Michael Bay will end up in prison for 35 to life!

P.S.  This is the Yahoo article which contains Conan’s public letter.  A great read!

The Futurama of Futurama…

July 30, 2009

futurama1

…looks pretty bleak.  Way back when Fox first announced that they would be bringing Futurama back to Network Television, I began to actually imagine that the industry juggernaut was really starting to turn around.  Maybe, instead of greenlighting a RECORD-BREAKING 20th stale season of The Simpsons, or even keeping American Dad on the air, they would start to acquiese to some ingenuitive, fresh material that fans are actually clammoring for; other than Family Guy, of course.  But that would all make sense, and after getting word that Jonny Depp is appearing in an Alice in Wonderland adaptation and Patton Oswalt is getting starring attention in a feature-length drama, I knew it was only a matter of time before the scales of suck tipped back the other way and pissed me off.  According to Geek Tyrant, Fox has released a statement that seems to fully sum up their intentions as a whole:

We love the Futurama voice performers and absolutely wanted to use them, but unfortunately, we could not meet their salary demands. While replacing these talented actors will be difficult, the show must go on. We are confident that we will find terrific new performers to give voice to Matt and David’s brilliantly subversive characters.

So instead of taking multiple other roads, such as

A.  Leaving the series dead in the water to be remembered as the virile and multi-faceted show it was while pouring revenue into a new venture with the propensity to become the next Futurama, or:
B.  Reaching a little deeper into Fox’s oh-so-tiny coffers to dig up just a wee little bit more cash for the likes of Billy West and Katey Sagal,

they will bring in new voice actors and kill the entire heart of the series in a single season.  Now, I would love to be wrong about this, but I already know that the repercusions recasting will have will be too great to keep the series afloat.  As trite as it sounds, it really was the voice acting that brought Futurama to life.  Billy West and John Dimaggio are seasoned pros that gave Fry, the Professor, and Bender (among COUNTLESS others) the personality that fans fell in love with.  Without them, Katey Sagal and Phil LaMarr to round out the Planet Express team, fans will have to bend their ears to adapt to the new cast which, let me tell you, does wonders for your suspension of disbelief. 

It’s all bad.  It really is.  Obviously, I’m not in the negotiation rooms when these meetings are taking place, but it seems ridiculous to me that Fox, in the current homeostatic postition it is in as a network, is unwilling to meet the pay demands of a few voice actors who are RETURNING to a cancelled series.  I find it difficult to believe that the actors asked for 8 figure deals.  Not to mention that Fox clearly believes in the revenue of the series enough to bring it back.  Hell, they believe in it enough to bring back the show after gutting its innards.  But they can’t spend a little extra to ensure that they maintain ALL former elements of the show?  This, my friends, is what happens when you let lawyers and executives out of their cages.

Iliza Shlesinger OWNS

July 7, 2009

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I was really on a “no-bitching” streak there for awhile.  Oh, well, all good things must come to a bloody, screeching end. 

If you’re anything like me, then you can be sent into a violent bloody rage in an instant simply by hearing the words ‘Laguna Beach’ or ‘The Hills.’  I have more virulent contempt/rage/hatred/jealousy stored up towards those shows than we would need to power the western world if it ran on hate juice.  Just seeing or hearing about anyone actually on the show or in the production team that make that mindless dribble possible makes me want to cut myself out of frustration.  The fact that these mindless walking billboards are given jobs or money of any kind is an absolute insult to the rest of the human race.  So, when I see Audrina Partridge’s ad campaign she’s recently been doing for Carl’s Jr., I get flustered, to say the least.  If by flustered you mean a neon haze of scene kid kicking and flailing.  It’s enough to make me boycott eating at Carl’s Jr….if I ever actually had eaten at Carl’s Jr.  But one of my favorite Comediennes, Iliza Shlesinger, has taken all my bitching and moaning and actually created some pretty clever comedy out of it.  The season six winner of Last Comic Standing (and the comedic ambassador to Cutesville (I hear it’s beautiful this time of year)) has served up a mock-u-tisement of Partridge’s Carl’s Jr. promotion and she seems to have beaten Audrina on two fronts.  Her video successfully lampoons Partridge as the lifeless ape that she is and her stupid fast food financier AS WELL AS shows Shlesinger as having the better body.  And as sexist and trite as that sounds, I don’t care.  Audrina’s sole purpose and reason for being employed by anyone at all is that the American public has (foolishly) placed the mantle of “attractive” on her and advertisers have seen the marketability she draws from her supposed good looks.  Shlesinger (a comedienne who actually relys on her talent to pay the bills instead of genetics and a diet plan) not only makes Partridge look like the tool that she is, she also manages to show her up in her own arena.  While you can understandably call me shallow, trite, misogynistic, whatever, the fact of the matter is that there’s nothing better than beating someone at their game while subsequently beating them at yours.  Follow the link before to watch the clip on Funnyordie.  GO TEAM SHLESINGER!!!

Audrina Patridge Carl’s Jr Commercial (Pre Digital Touch-up)

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Will Ferrell Owns Media

June 4, 2009

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Will Ferrell has been everywhere lately promoting his new Land of the Lost remake with Danny McBride.  From the first episode of The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien to an arctic episode of Man Vs. Wild, it’s been hard to avoid seeing Ferrell’s curly-haired mug. What few people have noticed, though, is that Ferrell has continued to absolutely clean up with Adam McKay over at FunnyorDie.com.  It had been awhile since I had visited his intraweb shenanigans, but over the last few weeks I was introduced to three absolute classics of absurdity.  First, Bat Fight:

BAT FIGHT with Will Ferrell

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I love watching a well executed sketch go straight to hell at the end.  Next, was a beautiful ensemble piece with some of the biggest stand-up comics on the circuit right now.

It’s The Ass ‘n Balls Show!

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Finally, I saw this little doozy, which takes only a small dip in sanity before running amuck in the next-door neighbor’s absurdity pool. Green Team is what happens when you give Adam McKay, Will Farrell, and John C. Reilly a website and all the time in the world. Oh, btw, NSFW.

Green Team

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Chicks in the City

June 3, 2009

Channel101com

While there are a ton of independent film fests out there for anyone with a camera to submit their short films to, there aren’t too many outlets for people to develop a short series, receive feedback, and just generally bask in the glory of a built-in audience.  Sure, there’s the lost, lonely plane of webisodes on Youtube, but unless you catch fire with the intranet communities, Youtube has little to offer you other than a free post.  But, before you give up all hope and become an accountant, know that there are two, distinct organizations that lend themselves to the concept of developing series with episodes under five minutes.  Channel101.com has both a Los Angeles and a New York chapter and has dedicated themselves to showcasing unknown and unfunded talent through a monthly voting process.  Every month, both branches are inundated with brand new “Pilots,” sent in from around the country.  At the end of the month, the best are chosen and compete with previous, winning “Pilots” to see who gets displayed on the sites main page as a “Prime Time Show.”  The coolest part about the voting is that it is actually done at a live screening.  So, while intraweb voting and viewing not factoring in does take away a little of the interactive feel, there is something very legitimate about keeping the event live as to create a community of people to network and enjoy seeing their projects screened. 

ANYWAY…this month on Channel 101: NY there was a WONDERFUL parody of Sex and the City called Chicks and the City.  The concept itself is quite outdated and played out, I’ve seen it done before, however, the writing, delivery, and pretty much everything else is GENIUS.  I am a huge fan of Jon Golbe and Jess Lane (slight crush…ok…more than slight), and have been ever since The Jon and Jess Variety Hour, but this video made me laugh harder than any previous endeavor. Follow the link to view!!!

The Return of Relevant Television

May 4, 2009

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It’s been a LONG, long time but for the first time in who knows how long, I am actually excited for a network series!  NBC has greenlit Community, a comedy about a lawyer who gets his liscense revoked and has to return to community college.  What’s exciting is not the said premise, but the attached cast of characters.  Joel McHale (host of The Soup!) will play the down-on-his-luck lawyer who begins a Spanish study session in order to woo an attractive fellow student, played by Gillian Jacobs.  In response to the study session, McHale and Jacobs are joined by comedy legend Chevy Chase, Derrick Comedy member, Donald Glover, Asperger Syndrome-sufferer Daniel Pudi (who has appeared in almost every advertisement I’ve seen in the last 8 months), and Yvette Nicole Brown (from Tropic Thunder).  John Oliver, from The Daily Show, rounds out this supercast as McHale’s Colleague and friend.

I’m a HUGE Joel McHale fan, I grew up on Chevy Chase, I think Derrick Comedy is one of the best up-and-coming troupes out there, and I love John Oliver’s style and wit.  I have monstrous expectations for this, despite the fact that (judging by the trailer) I’m sure it will inevitably attempt to slide more towards the overdone, sappy dramatic rather than the comedic, but at this point in TV’s history, I’ll take whatever nuggets of gold I can find.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s being directed by Joe and Anthony Russo of Arrested Development fame?  I know!  OMG!!!

Here’s the trailer.

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