'The Wire': HBO Drops Premiere Date (1/6), Early On Demand, 5 Promos

The fifth and final season of HBO’s The Wire will premiere on Sunday, January 6th and the network has announced their intentions to release episodes in advance via their On Demand services, says TV Squad. The first episode will be available On Demand as of December 31st, and each following new episode will be released there a week early, on Mondays.

The tagline for this season is “Read Between the Lines,” in reference to the added element of the media’s influence and coverage of the street happenings in creator David Simon’s own take on Baltimore. Earlier days found Simon cutting his teeth on the beat for The Baltimore Sun, and he’s promised to inject some word-for-word dialogue and anecdotes from his recollection of that era.

For what many critics have called The Greatest Series on Television, or at the very least, the best left standing, season five is a deathmarch, but a proud one. For a show so raw, unsweetened, and full of piss and vinegar, (not to mention criminally underwatched) to get off the launch pad is one thing. For it to last a full five, just as was intended by Simon and co-creator Ed Burns from the start, and roam among all the dregs and detritus for such a span is a rare blessing.

Now please divert your attention to the five new promos for The Wire that I’ve found online - long enough for me to extract myself from David Simon’s rear.

“Let McNulty Be McNulty” by James McNulty

“One Step at a Time” by Reginald Cousins [Bubbles]

“Play or Get Played” by Omar Little

“Give The People What They Want” by Thomas Carcetti

“It’s All About the Crown” by Marlo Stanfield

Previously:
Video Previews of The Wire Season 5 and Generation Kill
David Simon Profiled, Eyes New Orleans for New Series

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Posted by Ted Zee on November 29th 2007 | 23 Comments

Ebert Answers Ten

He’s not yet ready for a return to syndicated television, and use of The Thumbs has vanished in his absence, but Roger Ebert is doing what Roger Ebert does, as he says, “writing as much, or more, than ever” at his Sun Times site.

In a quick ten questions from Movie City News, The Most Respected Critic in America weighs in on a handful of old school/new school debates: digital versus celluloid, print versus internet criticism, and les enfants terribles (The Young Mumblecores) versus the over-70 set (Coppola, Lumet, Herzog). His assessment on the state of film in 2007 may not be what you’d expect. Ebert grades on a curve that reflects little on the worthiness of new or archaic practices, but rather has everything to do with what will always take precedence, “the talent, the story, the acting.”

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Posted by Ted Zee on November 28th 2007 | 7 Comments

Bill Murray Advisory: PBS's 'Great Performances'

First he donned the late-in-the-game Elvis getup (Oh No), next up for Groundhog’s Day is a televised appearance on tonight’s airing of the-heavy-on-the-Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival for the PBS series Great Performances. Murray hosted the blues festival in Bridgeview Illinois over the summer. Airdates and times. Hat tip to The Leather Canary for the viewing notice.

A taste: Bill opens up the proceedings and strums a bit of Van Morrison’s Gloria. Assist from Clapton.

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Posted by Ted Zee on November 27th 2007 | 0 Comments

Independent Spirit Noms and Gotham Winners

notthere3Todd Haynes’s mulitlayered Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There was nominated for four categories at this morning’s announcement for Film Independent’s Spirit Awards, including best feature, best director and acting considerations for Marcus Carl Franklin and Cate Blanchett for their Dylan-ish turns. Also heavily represented with four noms each were Jason Reitman’s teen-pregnancy-com Juno (looking like the next best thing to a Judd Apatow release), Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Tamara Jenkins’s comedy The Savages, with Laura Linney and Phillip Seymore Hoffman. Full nominations list at indieWIRE.

Meanwhile at the IFP Gotham Awards, Sean Penn’s Into the Wild took home Best Feature honors, Best Documentary went to Michael Moore’s Sicko, and Ellen Page received the Breakthough Actor Award for her lead in Juno. Oscars over yonder. More - Hollywood Reporter

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Posted by Ted Zee on November 27th 2007 | 0 Comments

Cusack "Hitting Over .300"

sayanything3.jpgI don’t really like romantic comedies, so I don’t really care. I never go see ‘em.

You never see the ones you’re in?

I’ve seen a couple of those.

John Cusack talks to The A.V. Club about his “10 or 15″ good films (he’s been in around 50), comparing his track record to that of “a major-leaguer hitting over .300.” He also discusses taking on producing, and his role in the upcoming Grace is Gone. He plays a father who can’t find the strength to tell his two daughters that their mother has died serving in Iraq, so he takes them on a road trip to a Florida amusement park. Cusack is also reportedly in negotiations (Variety) to join Gong Li in the Weinstein Company’s period drama, Shanghai.

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Posted by Ted Zee on November 27th 2007 | 0 Comments

Trailer: Stephen Chow's 'CJ7'

A short teaser for the latest from Hong Kong director Stephen Chow, helmer of some 6 comedies and star of countless more before gaining some name recognition in the States with Shaolin Soccer and 2004’s Kung Fu Hustle.

Assumed to be released here in 2008, the sci-fi comedy CJ7 stars Chow as a poor Chinese laborer who buys a toy for his son that turns out to be an alien artifact.

Chow backburnered plans for a Hustle sequel in favor of completing CJ7 first.

Via Film Junk

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Posted by Ted Zee on November 26th 2007 | 0 Comments

'Be Kind Rewind' Site and Faux Trailers

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The official site for Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind is up, and along with a few playful interactive features, it boasts a handful of low-faux trailers that demonstrate the film’s key drawing point - clumsily remade Hollywood hits.

In Be Kind, Mos Def stars as a mom and pop video store employee whose best friend, played by Jack Black, accidentally erases all of the store’s inventory through some magnetic hocus pocus - an unforeseen byproduct of a power plant sabotage scheme gone wrong. The duo devise a plan of sweding (a Gondryism describing the act of remaking something from scratch, on the cheap) remakes of the corner shop’s blockbuster titles to keep the money coming in. Danny Glover, Mia Farrow and Melonie Diaz also star in the film, to be released on January 25th, 2008.

Be Kind Rewind website

Trailers for the film, including reimagined promos for Ghostbusters, Robocop, Driving Miss Daisy, Rush Hour 2, and Boyz n the Hood.

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Posted by Ted Zee on November 25th 2007 | 1 Comment

Video: Charlie Rose and The Coen Brothers on 'No Country'

“There’s a lot of violence in the book - as there is in a lot of Cormac’s novels - and it’s very important to the story. We couldn’t conceive of soft-peddling that in the movie and really doing anything [not] resembling the book. It would have been nonsensical.

It’s about a character confronting a very arbitrary, violent, brutal world. And you have to see that. You see it in the story as it’s written and you have to see it in the movie in order to understand anything about what the characters are about and what they’re confronting and what they’re trying to make sense of.” - Joel Coen

A great conversation, via Hollywood Elsewhere - 30 minutes shared between Charlie Rose, Joel and Ethan Coen, and their No Country for Old Men stars Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin. Along with going over the casting of Tommy Lee Jones, Brolin, and Bardiem - as the raw-throated, jean-jacketed, “latter-day Hannibal ” - the group talks about The Coen’s shared sensibilities with the No Country novelist, Cormac McCarthy. As Brolin puts it, “There’s no pandering going on with Cormac and there’s no pandering going on with The Coens.”

It’s certainly true for No Country. If the garish violence doesn’t turn audiences off, the confounding conclusion may push some over the edge. But if you find yourself turning the thing around in your mind long after you’ve drifted out from the theater to the sidewalk, or picked up McCarthy’s book for answers - damn it if those aren’t some of the very things that highlight the difference between a good or great film, and one such as this that may rank among the decade’s classics.

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Posted by Ted Zee on November 22nd 2007 | 1 Comment

Stars Join 'Speechless' Campaign for Writers Guild

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Featuring Holly Hunter, the first video of many for a Writers Guild Association campaign entitled “Speechless” has been posted up on Deadline Hollywood. Three videos will be released daily though Thanksgiving Weekend. From a WGA press release:

On Thanksgiving Day (November 22), a group of Writers Guild Of America members will begin posting Public Service Announcements featuring A-list Screen Actors Guild talent as part of an independent WGA membership’s “Speechless” campaign conceived by director/writer George Hickenlooper and writer Alan Sereboff.

The spots will begin appearing on Thursday morning which will begin posting Thanksgiving Day and run exclusively on DeadlineHollywood.com through Sunday night. Beginning Monday, they can be found on SpeechlessWithoutWriters.com with links on UnitedHollywood.com and every day thereafter during the duration of the strike.

Included are SAG talent such as Sean Penn, Holly Hunter, Laura Linney, Alan Cumming, Jay Leno, Harvey Keitel, Kate Beckinsale, Tina Fey, Tim Robbins, Gary Marshall, David Schwimmer, Patricia Clarkson, James Franco, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Martin Sheen, Josh Brolin, Susan Sarandon, Andre 3000, Chazz Palminteri, Jason Bateman, Christine Lahti, Patricia Arquette, Jenna Elfman, Olivia Wilde, Richard Benjamin, Paula Prentiss, Eva Longoria, Justine Bateman, Joshua Jackson, Rosanna Arquette, Diane Ladd, Rebecca Romjin, Minnie Driver, Nicollette Sheridan, Robert Patrick, Matthew Perry, Ed Asner, and America Ferrera and the cast of Ugly Betty. Arrangements have been made to also shoot Woody Allen, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jane Fonda, Marisa Tomei, Ethan Hawke, Jason Alexander, Charlize Therone, Minnie Driver, Philip Seymour Hoffman. Many, many more are also in the works.

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Posted by Ted Zee on November 22nd 2007 | 1 Comment

Saturday Night Live: Reruns on Screen, Live on Stage

update1This weekend, at the same time that NBC aired a repeat episode of the Brian Williams hosted Saturday Night Live, an audience of 150 at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Manhattan were treated to a longer, dirtier, and live performance of the comedy show on stage (USA Today). Hosted by wunderkind of the moment, Michael Cera, and featuring all of the usual players (with the exception of Maya Rudolph) and recently cast-off castmates Rachel Dratch and Horatio Sanz , the group performed 15 “dirtier than usual” skits and even delivered a Weekend Update to make it a true SNL experience.

Proceeds from the two-hour performance went to benefit behind the scenes employees of the show affected by the WGA strike that began two weeks ago. Prep for the live show was underway for a week before over 50 crew members were laid off on Friday morning (Variety) despite the fact that NBC has still retained staffers from both Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien’s late-night shows, which are also in repeats. The Saturday Night Live— On Strike! performance was set up in part by Amy Poehler, who along with her SNL gig, is a member of the current Upright Citizens Brigade peformance troupe and founded the UCB theater. She recruited host Michael Cera, who has yet to host SNL-proper, via text message. The 20 dollar tickets for the event were snapped up quickly and some were offered up on Craigslist for over $300.

“We’re like cranky trained monkeys if we don’t get to perform,” said Poehler. “We all thought about what we’re going to do during the strike, and because we have no other skills, we just scraped this together.”

Also sold out at the UCB Theater is another benefit show: This Monday evening will feature Tina Fey and company for a live 30 Rock performance at 8:00 pm.

There was some hopeful progress on the writers strike front over the weekend, as some “back-channel talks” have led to an agreement for reps from both the Writers Guild of America and the other party - the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers - to resume negotiation talks on Monday, November 26th.

More details and photos from the live SNL performance, via The New York Times.

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Posted by Ted Zee on November 19th 2007 | 1 Comment

Trailer: 'Teeth'

teeth4Teeth is a special breed of horror-comedy. One that as the Hollywood Reporter put it after an early Sundance viewing, may be the “first horror movie that women drag men to see rather than the reverse.” How’s that? There’s no way to put this delicately - we’re talking about vagina dentata. For the layperson: Teeth, down there.

Directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein (son of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein) in his feature-length debut, Teeth stars newcomer Jess Weixler as a teen-chastity group member doing her damndest to suppress the secrets of her anatomically incorrect state. That is until puppy love and lust enters the picture, and I shouldn’t have to spell it out further, but, there will be blood.

IGN provides the just released Teeth trailer and a new one-sheet that drops the cutesy pretense that you see here, and opts for all the dark angles. The film is scheduled for limited release on November 30, wide open in December.

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Posted by Ted Zee on November 16th 2007 | 39 Comments

John Edwards to Join Picketing Masses Friday

jed1With 63 percent of Americans polled for a Pepperdine University study siding with striking writers over the major studios, it was just a matter of time before it became a campaign trail topic. Fresh off a democratic debate in Las Vegas, the camp for presidential candidate John Edwards has announced that he’ll take a spot amongst the picketers in Burbank this afternoon. From an email making the rounds with WGA members on Thursday, posted by Ben Smith at Politico (via Slog).

Tomorrow, there will only be a 6-10am shift at CBS TELEVISION CITY. Those wishing to picket after that, please get your asses to NBC BURBANK. Presidential dreamboat John Edwards will be marching. Don’t bring up 2004.

A distant third in polling behind Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Edwards also has the least support in Hollywood both dollars wise and among the celeb and studio player set, says Nikki Finke. He’s scheduled to join the picket line at 2pm in front of NBC Entertainment in Burbank.

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Posted by Ted Zee on November 16th 2007 | 0 Comments

Letterman Subsidizing Staff During Strike

dave1David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants staff for both his Late Show and Craig Ferguson’s Late Late Show will be paid through the end of the year out of Dave’s own pocket, reports Deadline Hollywood. The talk shows have been in repeats since the WGA strike began last week.

Unfortunately for the technical staff, most are employees of CBS, and therefore are excluded from being cut fresh paychecks from either party. Though they aren’t as bad off as the hundred or so non-writing staff members of NBC’s The Office, who were laid off altogether last week.

Meanwhile (videos):

– Networks heads talk out of both sides of their mouth, boasting over easy profits to be made from increased internet presence while giving writing talent the stiff-arm on a small cut of the payoff.

– Not The Daily Show, but its writers making some picket-line points .

– Sarah Silverman strikes. Stiller, Tomlin, Tripplehorn, Louis-Dreyfus, Helgenberger, J.J.’s dad from Good Times, et al. join the picketers outside Universal Studios.

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Posted by Ted Zee on November 15th 2007 | 0 Comments

'Runway' Day

pr1As the WGA strike trudges on, and the networks plan to backfill the programming void with reality tripe (TV Squad), at least we can fall back on Project Runway. If there’s such a thing as a gold standard for the genre, this is it. The fourth season kicks off tonight. Tim Gunn describes this crop of contenders as “the strongest group ever,” but you know, that’s the company line. They said the same thing about last season’s Top Chef, and I can’t say that was apparent once the cameras started rolling - though I am but a microwave artist.

– Meet the newcomers
– Rejected video submissions
9 primer links from Blogging Project Runway. They’ll take care of you from here.

“I haven’t been living anywhere for two years. I sleep at other people’s houses. I sleep here if I’m drunk.” - Season one winner Jay McCaroll, who had been crashing in his studio without a bathroom or kitchen - from a lengthy NY Mag article on the lives of contestants, post-Bravo - back in August.

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Posted by Ted Zee on November 14th 2007 | 0 Comments

'No Country' Villain: Hot or Not?

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Currently sporting a 95% Rotten Tomatoes rating and a Metacritic score of 93, the Coen brothers No Country for Old Men is among the year’s elite, and it’s impact on the Oscar race would appear indisputable. Many are calling the film, which turned in the Coen’s highest limited opening weekend ever, a “shoe-in” come Oscar nom time - although Gold Derby is wondering if the predominately male reviewers are fixated on the rampant bloodletting and not the big picture, as it were, of No Country’s overall worth. I can’t weigh in because my city hasn’t been selected yet.

In the meantime we’ll focus on the meaty issue - namely star Javier Bardem’s portrayal of Anton Chigurh, the cold blooded killer with The Year’s Most Discussed Film Haircut - which The IFC Blog has helpfully pie-charted out for us. Referred to as The Buster Brown, The Dutch Boy, and The Prince Valiant - the hairdo left Bardem lamenting during the shoot, “Man, I’m not going to get laid for three months!”

Contrary to all this, Best Week Ever’s Michelle Collins feels “Anton Chigurh is kind of hot. Like, in a serious, manly, ‘I will blow your brains out of you betray me’ kind of way.” She leaves the final vote for the question of the day: Anton Chigurh, Hot or Not? - up to the reader.

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Posted by Ted Zee on November 13th 2007 | 2 Comments

Winona Ryder to be Vulcanized for 'Star Trek'

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Winona Ryder will board the J.J. Abrams helmed Star Trek, playing the Vulcan mother of a young Spock (Zachary Quinto), reports Variety. Leonard Nimoy will be around in some capacity, but the story - involving a Romulan time-traveling assassination scheme and some early-day tales of Capt. Kirk and company, may remain Shatner-less.

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Posted by Ted Zee on November 09th 2007 | 4 Comments

'There Will Be Blood' Advisory for Los Angeles

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Passing on a notice for L.A. folks that might be able to make it out to see P.T. Anderson’s There Will Be Blood on Thursday, November 15th. Act soon, you lucky bastards.  Both Anderson and star Daniel Day Lewis will be around for a Q&A session after the film.  Details at Cigarettes and Red Vines.

Hollywood Elsewhere’s Jeffrey Wells caught the early screening at San Francisco’s Castro Theater a couple days ago and calls the turn of the century oil-rush barnburner “one of those legendary, go-for-broke, fiercely psychological big-canvas art movies that you need to see twice…It passes along a kind of insanity, but it does so with absolute greatness.” Trailer.

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Posted by Ted Zee on November 09th 2007 | 0 Comments

Video Previews for 'The Wire' Season 5 and 'Generation Kill'

Behind the scenes tease (via Vulture) with David Simon and cast for the fifth and final season of HBO’s The Wire, premiering in January. The closing campaign will introduce the media manipulation while juggling the assemblage of Baltimore politricksters and cops and corner dwellers that we’ve come to hate/love/fear/cheer. Oh, and McNulty is drinking again.

Previously: profiling David Simon, his future projects, and a not-so-brief history of The Wire. Vintage Bonus: Sheeeeeeeeit.
Post-Wire HBO project for Simon and co-creator Ed Burns: Generation Kill - based on the Evan Wright book depicting the first wave of American troops into Baghdad.

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Posted by Ted Zee on November 09th 2007 | 4 Comments

Trailer: De Niro and Pacino in 'Righteous Kill'

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Scene above look familiar? It should. This is no Heat 2, though it is the second time for both Robert De Niro and Al Pacino to grace the screen face to face. Righteous Kill stars the two as New York City detectives hunting down a vigilante, but most of us need only to scan the the headlining names on a poster to forget about plot concerns and ask, “When do I show up?” Picture also features Donnie Wahlberg, 50 Cent, Brian Dennehy, and John Leguizamo.

We’ll hope that Righteous Kill fares better than director John Avnet’s 88 Minutes, which also stars Al Pacino - and may go straight to DVD in the States (it’s already available overseas).

Image from Empire. Trailer, at Slashfilm. Trailer is also in glorious Quicktime, via Coming Soon.

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Posted by Ted Zee on November 08th 2007 | 6 Comments

Strike Infomercial: 'The Office is Closed'

Video via Filmmaker Magazine. Leave it to striking Office head Greg Daniels and writers-slash-castmembers Mindy Kaling, B.J. Novak, and Paul Lieberstein to explain why The Office is Closed, and to cut to the core of the New Media debate.

Front picket-line reporting: United Hollywood.

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Posted by Ted Zee on November 07th 2007 | 2 Comments

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