Trailer: Step Brothers

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Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. Directed by Adam McKay. Produced by Judd Apatow. Funny or Die, the motion picture? Release date: July 25th, 2008.

Step Brothers trailer (via Coming Soon)

Related: further evidence that February is a take out the trash month for the studios: Ferrell’s Semi-pro, with a 29% approval rating from early reviews as of Thursday morning on Rotten Tomatoes, heading into opening weekend.

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Posted by Ted Zee on February 28th 2008 | 1 Comment

A Simple Plan: How to Save the Oscars

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Joel and Ethan Coen: not very cute. Can’t the Academy do better?

It’s troubling to think that, in a year featuring one of the strongest crops of films in this decade, the 2008 Oscars telecast only drew 32 million viewers - the lowest recorded numbers ever. At this rate, we’re not going to know what the stars wore on the red carpet, because they’re going to roll that carpet up and scuttle the Academy Awards for good. It ain’t right. The Oscars are of paramount importance - time to cut the crap and re-prioritize.

Think about it: at the pre-show procession, Ryan Seacrest asks “who are you wearing?” not “which Pulitzer Prize winning author did you crib from?’ And Javier Bardem is hot, but that haircut? My God, what was that all about? Am I the only one that noticed that? Is there no room for a sexy, cattle-gun toting sociopath? And hasn’t Daniel Day-Lewis clutched enough Oscars? There Will Be Boringgggggg!

Among the Best Picture contenders, Juno was the only one of the five to gross over 100 million. Like John Stewart said, “‘No Country For Old Men,’ ‘Sweeney Todd,’ ‘There Will Be Blood.’ All I can say is: thank God for teen pregnancy.” And he was right, Hollywood does “need a hug.” Critics too. Lighten up people, and stop enabling. On your watch, the Oscars are turning into a quality-over-currency snoozefest.

The correlation between low ratings and the caliber of movies and performances being acknowledged is obvious. There’s a very simple way to turn this around and save the Oscars, but it’s going to sting some. Here’s your inconvenient truth: the studios have to bite the bullet and stop making “good” films.

Industry moguls, the next time an award winning director or producer calls looking for dough, hang up the phone. And to do our part, we as moviegoers have to organize and boycott these pictures at the box office until they’re phased out. Hollywood, disregard at your own peril - it is the path to red carpet righteousness.

Posted by Ted Zee on February 27th 2008 | 5 Comments

'Dexter' Showrunner Jumps to 'Dirty Sexy Money'

From the series of one Six Feet Under alum to another, Dexter showrunner/executive producer Daniel Cerone is heading to ABC to take the reigns over Dirty Sexy Money, which stars Peter Krause. Back in November, Showtime president Roger Greenblatt had promised a third season of Dexter (E!) - no word on if the move by Cerone will have any effect on the show’s scheduled return to Showtime in late 2008. The first season of Dirty Sexy Money was cut short by the Writers Strike but an order for 13 episodes has been placed for the series to return in the fall. (Hollywood Reporter)

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Posted by Ted Zee on February 27th 2008 | 2 Comments

The Oscars in 60 Seconds

via Hollywood Elsewhere

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Posted by Ted Zee on February 25th 2008 | 0 Comments

'Juno' Wins Indie Spirit's Best Picture

Fellow Oscar competitors There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men, Atonement, and Michael Clayton weren’t in contention because their production budgets exceeded 20 million - lucky for Juno that gaudy marketing dollars weren’t accounted for - rookie scribe Diablo Cody took home Best First Screenplay, Ellen Page won Best Female Lead, and Juno was awarded Best Feature at Saturday’s Independent Spirit Awards ceremony. Despite practically non-existent promotion compared to the big winner, two more-deserving studio-mate films on Fox Searchlight also received awards: Phillip Seymour Hoffman won Best Male Lead and Tamara Jenkins won Best Screenplay for The Savages, while John Carney’s Once was named Best Foreign Film. Also acknowledged were Julian Schnabel (Best Director - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), and Cate Blanchett (Best Supporting Female - I’m Not There).

Full Winners list - Variety

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Posted by Ted Zee on February 24th 2008 | 0 Comments

Ledger Portrait

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Australian artist Vincent Fantauzzo on his portrait of Heath Ledger, captured in a session the star sat for just weeks before his passing: it “was an idea we discussed together and came up with… it was about how we all have different consciences and voices in our head that tell us what to do and how to react. They’re not good or bad, they’re just voices that we hear, telling us how to behave.”

Page Six via Anne Thompson

Posted by Ted Zee on February 22nd 2008 | 0 Comments

Falco Solo for Showtime Comedy

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You just can’t walk away from The Sopranos and expect roles of matching caliber (see: Paulie Walnuts - Denny’s), though Edie Falco - the most visible of the alums so far with a 3 episode stint on 30 Rock - has designs on returning to pay cable. But she’s not coming back to HBO: Falco has signed on to headline a 30-minute comedy series for Showtime about “an iron-willed Gotham nurse balancing the challenges of work in an urban hospital and a difficult personal life.” The show is said to provide “a darkly comedic view of a health care.” (Variety)

Becoming the third HBO star to make the leap to Showtime, after Michael C. Hall (Six Feet Under to Dexter) and Tracey Ullman (Tracey Takes On to Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union - to debut late March), Falco met with network president Bob Greenblatt last summer, looking for her next full-time series, and was matched with writers Linda Wallem (The Comeback, That 70’s Show) and Liz Brixius, who will produce and show run for the as-yet-untitled pilot. Said Greenblatt, “To be bringing Edie Falco to Showtime is both a privilege and an honor. She sits firmly in the pantheon of the great actresses of our day, and to have found a show and a great role that meets her standards after six seasons of The Sopranos is our distinct pleasure and great fortune. Bada bing is all I can think of to say!” (Multichannel News) Bada zing, Bob! Good one!

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Posted by Ted Zee on February 22nd 2008 | 0 Comments

Seven Stories

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Leonardo DiCaprio is producing a live-action adaptation of long-time cult anime favorite, Akira, said to star Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The Wachowski Brothers would be the first candidates coming to mind to take this one on, but reports are that Irish director Ruairi Robinson will take the helm for what could be a two-movie project. (Film Junk)

– Oscar snubbed David Fincher will direct Black Hole, based on the Charles Burns graphic novel. Former Tarantino collaborator Roger Avary and Neil Gaiman (Beowulf) handled the screenplay. (Variety)

– “I’m mainly dealing with the whole no-dick situation.” - “Viral Videos,” (NSFW) a new skit from Human Giant. The first episode of season 2 - guest starring Bill Hader, Brian Posehn, Andy Samberg, and Matt Walsh - is available on iTunes now, uncensored.

– What started out this past weekend as excitement over leaked screen test footage for Where the Wild Things Are has led to rampant speculation over the future of the project. CHUD has heard Warner Brothers grumblings that not only are they not happy with the dark tone of the film, but they have problems with everything from the Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers penned script to lead child-actor, Max Records. Possible outcomes could include an entire reshoot and/or Spike Jonze taking his name off the film.

– Early impressions from a “very unfinished” cut of the Wachowski’s Speed Racer. (AICN)

– Average number of viewers for season one of Dexter on Showtime: 733,000. Number of viewers for the debut of the rebroadcasted, edited version on CBS Sunday night: 8.1 million. (TV Decoder)

Saturday Night Live, back this weekend with Tina Fey as guest host, is holding auditions for their Barack Obama. Maya Rudolph is, as of yet, unsigned to come back. (NY Post)

Posted by Ted Zee on February 21st 2008 | 0 Comments

Spike Jonze Calls 'Wild Things' Clip 'a Very Early Test'

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A quick statement (via The Hot Blog) from Spike Jonze passed down from Warner Brothers, regarding the leak of footage from production of Where the Wild Things Are:

“That was a very early test with the sole purpose of just getting some footage to Ben our vfx (visual effects) supervisor to see if our vfx plan for the faces would work. The clip doesn’t look or feel anything like the movie, the Wild Thing suit is a very early cringy prototype, and the boy is a friend of ours Griffin who we had used in a Yeah Yeah Yeahs video we shot a few weeks before. We love him, but he is not in the actually film…Oh and that is not a wolf suit, its a lamb suit we bought on the internet. Talk to you later…“

Related:

/Film on suggestions that Warner Bros may be unpleased with the progress of the film, in part due to test screenings where audiences complained of Wild Things being “too adult and even too scary for children.”

– Playboy model/unlikely video star Rita G on the mixed reviews for Spike Jonze and Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”: “This video will go over a lot of people’s heads — and it’s supposed to…All the third-graders who come home from school and want to watch videos and snap their fingers and all that, they’re probably gonna think, ‘That video is wack, but that chick got a fat a–.‘ And that’s fine. But people in higher positions, they’re gonna see something different. They’re gonna get it, people who are thinkers.” (MTV)

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Posted by Ted Zee on February 20th 2008 | 0 Comments

'Human Giant' Season 2 Trailer

I was slipped a 10-minute preview for the new season of MTV’s Human Giant last week, and as funny and shocking as the couple of skits were, they were no match for this (Not Safe For Work) trailer in terms of gasp-factor. Look for glimpses of Will Arnett, Jack McBrayer (30 Rock), Michael K. Williams (Omar, from The Wire), and The Notorious Bobbe J. According to the production blog, iTunes should have an uncensored version of the first episode sometime this week, though the official airdate for the premiere on MTV is March 11th. I’m hoping to have more to share (re: Season 2) in a week or so.

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Posted by Ted Zee on February 19th 2008 | 1 Comment

Debate Over Alleged 'Where the Wild Things Are' Clip

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Just a few days ago we saw the released music video for “Flashing Lights“, where musically Kanye West apes Justin Timberlake, while visually Spike Jonze apes Michael Mann and Scorsese - with a Playboy model thrown in for good measure. The follow-up buzz for Spike Jonze this weekend is over a leaked, rough, and debatably authentic clip from his adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. After making the rounds briefly on Friday evening, the clip was pulled down, but has since made scatter-shot appearances. If legitimate, the clip features the screen debut of Max Records - the actor, as Max, playfully beating an 8 to 9 foot tall Wild Thing with a stick, then putting his robot moves on display.

Previously: Vulture reviewed the Jonze/Dave Eggers written script. Includes the first officially released image. Note the differences in Max’s outfit between the still and the video. Is it even the same Max? Is the clip from an earlier screen test?)

Video (for as long as it lasts):

As to the veracity of the video clip, Moriarty from AICN has seen very rough cuts of the film, and had this to say on Sunday:

I wish I could be more specific, but because of how I saw it, I can’t offer any sort of real review. I can tell you that there’s something odd about the clip above. The Wild Thing in that clip is Carrol, played in the version I saw by James Gandolfini. That is most definitely NOT Gandolfini’s voice in that clip though. But it’s a very finished piece of film, because in the rough footage, none of the Wild Things have articulated faces. The costumes were all built to have immobile features that would be replaced in post-production by CGI, and it looks like this clip has had that work done on it.

His assessment is that the clip appears legit, but goes on to say that though shooting wrapped for Where the Wild Things Are last fall, the film is far from done, the fall 2008 release date has been pushed back, and he “wouldn’t be surprised to hear about some fairly massive reshoots in the months ahead.”

Related: the second offically released image

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Posted by Ted Zee on February 17th 2008 | 5 Comments

Tina Fey to Host Return of Saturday Night Live

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Back to business. Tina Fey will host Saturday Night Live, likely the first on-hold show to resume post-strike, on February 23rd. Ellen Page is slated to host the following week as SNL will run four straight weeks of new eps. The Office is shooting for April 10th. Most ongoing scripted shows on the networks are also hoping for a mid-April return. On the cable side, HBO’s Entourage, customarily on a late Spring, early Summer run, won’t be back until Fall, and the third season of Big Love likely won’t air until later in the year. Further details: NYT.

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Posted by Ted Zee on February 13th 2008 | 12 Comments

I've Been Anxiously Waiting to Write This

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…But not anything like those waiting over three months to write, period. The letter from WGA heads Patric Verrone and Michael Winship to Guild members on Tuesday night:

On Tuesday, members of the Writers Guilds East and West voted by a 92.5% margin to lift the restraining order that was invoked on November 5th. The strike is over.

Writing can resume immediately. If you were employed when the strike began, you should plan to report to work on Wednesday…The decision to begin this strike was not taken lightly and was only made after no other reasonable alternative was possible. We are profoundly aware of the economic loss these fourteen weeks have created not only for our members but so many other colleagues who work in the television and motion picture industries. Nonetheless, with the establishment of the WGA jurisdiction over new media and residual formulas based on distributor’s gross revenue (among other gains) we are confident that the results are a significant achievement not only for ourselves but the entire creative community, now and in the future.
(Full text, via Nikke Finke.)

Thanks and congratulations go out to all the guild members and other hard-working stiffs that had their wallets lightened up by the strike, and can now get back on their grind. There’s a movie in this whole ordeal, and I’m sure someone has already drafted it in their head over picket line pacing and free coffee and donuts.

Moving forward, here’s an idea to recoup some lost earnings, and I’m not talking about for the studios. What if some some interested party (like, United Hollywood?) got their hands on those taped SNL - Live and/or 30 Rock - Live performances that I’m sure must be locked up in a security box somewhere (humor me, or confirm that the tapes exist), added the best of the WGA strike videos from YouTube (such as) and the Speechless Without Writers campaign, and then packaged it all on a DVD or pay-to-download video (how apropos!) with the proceeds going to strike affected families?

Won’t happen? Buy some strike swag, it’ll serve the same purpose.

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Posted by Ted Zee on February 12th 2008 | 5 Comments

Coen Brothers to Adapt 'Yiddish Policemen'

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Not resting on Oscar favorite No Country for Old Men, directors Joel and Ethan Coen already have Burn After Reading, a spy comedy with George Clooney and Brad Pitt, scheduled for a fall 2008 release, and will follow with A Serious Man, called a “dark comedy in the vein of Fargo.” Just Announced: the brothers will reteam with No Country producer Scott Rudin (who also had his hands on There Will Be Blood) for another book adaptation - based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” by Michael Chabon. Again, more noir, more murder to come, but these guys have been all over the map in the past decade, so who’s to blame them for traveling old (and successful) paths? (Variety)

On Oscar buzz for Old Country: “I have to say that there were other people who saw early versions and predicted. So the reasons may be transparent to some people but they’re certainly not to us. We don’t understand it.” - Joel Coen (L.A. Times)

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Posted by Ted Zee on February 12th 2008 | 3 Comments

Track the Post-Strike Return of Your Shows

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Assuming that members of the Writers Guild will vote to officially end the strike on Tuesday, and will be back to work on Wednesday - NYT’s TV Decoder has pieced together a tentative production status grid for series on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and CW - returning or not. My 30 Rock, as well as The Office are both expected to shoot between 5 to 10 new episodes each, to air in April and May. 24 has been postponed until next season. The 16 episode run for Lost this season will likely be cut to 13. The list, like another put together for TV Guide, will be updated regularly as the nets reveal their plans.

Strike Fallout: A Complete Guide To How Your Favorite Shows Are Affected - TV Decoder

Related: What to Expect on Cable

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Posted by Ted Zee on February 12th 2008 | 0 Comments

Netflix, Best Buy Reject HD DVD on Same Day

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Not that you shouldn’t have seen it coming, but let there be no mistaking now - the next-gen DVD war is over, following the one-two punch in the news on Monday.

Strike 1 - January 22nd: Blu-ray players soar to 93 percent of next-gens sold during the week after Warner Brothers announced they were going Blu exclusive. (Engadget)

Strike 2 - February 11th: Netflix announces they will phase out their entire catalog of HD DVD releases by end of year, going Blu-ray exclusive. (Variety)

Strike 3 - February 11th: Best Buy, the largest consumer electronics chain in the U.S., announced that because they “believe that Blu-ray is fast emerging as that single format,” they’ll be recommending it over HD DVD to customers. Stick a fork in em’. (Reuters)

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Posted by Ted Zee on February 12th 2008 | 0 Comments

Writers May Be Back to Work by Wednesday

After a unanimous vote by the Writers Guild East Council and Writers Guild West Board to approve the new contract negotiated between the WGA and the AMPTP, all that’s left needed to call an official end to the Writers’ Strike is a majority Yes from WGA members in a vote to be conducted on Tuesday. Showrunners have already received the go-ahead to return to their producing duties on Monday. If the Guild members vote to approve the new contract, and by all accounts they will, they may jump back in to their writing duties as early as Wednesday. Early Congrats!

Continuing coverage at Deadline Hollywood and United Hollywood.

Posted by Ted Zee on February 10th 2008 | 0 Comments

Hollywood, I Want to Lay You Down by the Fire

For Your Consideration: The New York Times “Breakthrough Performances” Oscar themed package. Included is the “Breakthroughs” video with eight of the chosen 15 listing some of their early acting influences, along with an audio slideshow.

Also from NYT, images from “Shooting Stars,” (via Goldenfiddle) a photoshoot video where Josh Brolin, Amy Ryan, Hal “Hot Bod” Holbrook, Paul Dano, James McAvoy, Ellen Page, and Seth Rogen (pictured, respectively) join Michael Cera, Sienna Miller, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Marion Cotillard, Julie Christie, Jim Sturgess, and Tang Wei in poses and scenery reminiscent of an Urban Outfitters catalog. Best moment would be Michael Cera’s “Come on, is this necessary? A smoke machine?” giggle while being enveloped in cloud cover.

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amy ryan

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paul dano

james mcavoyellen page

seth rogen

Related: Alfred Hitchcock Redux: Charlize Theron, Javier Bardem, Scarlett Johansson, Seth Rogen, Naomi Watts, Jodie Foster, et al. pretty up the past in Vanity Fair’s Hollywood Issue (Anne Thompson).

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Posted by Ted Zee on February 09th 2008 | 1 Comment

The False Humility of 'Juno'

Video via Gold Derby

It’s funny because it’s true. Or is it? The dismissal of Juno’s Oscar chances in this Q&A between middle schoolers and directer Jason Reitman is a scripted set-up and “aw schucks..just happy to be here” nod to more deserving films, though as much as a hater like myself would like to think, the picture is not necessarily the out-of-the-question contender standing next to favorites No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood.

Though Reitman’s helming might best be described as “capable,” the accolades belonging to Ellen Page and castmates (loved them) and first timer Diablo Cody’s script (drove me nuts, but understand the sentiment otherwise) are deserved, and Juno is the Academy’s 100 million earning, demographic-sweet-spot-hitting crowd pleaser that will keep the average household interested in the telecast. Nothing more. Not intended to be a cut on the filmmakers and cast who’ve just tried to make the best movie possible, but rather some vented annoyance towards the press and publicity working hard to hustle this as a little picture that could: with Fox’s ubiquitous marketing and major box-office performance, it’s anything but the little guy. In one of the strongest years for award-worthy films in this decade, if the Oscars were strictly about awarding the towering achievements, this good, not great or groundbreaking picture wouldn’t even receive a place at the table. But sometimes they’re about front running and heaping praise on the prom queen in underdog’s clothing, in which case the ever-so-slightly edgy, teen and family-friendly Juno belongs.

Speaking of obnoxious, a Juno-ism has found itself on The Urban Dictionary (via Fraktastic), noted with appropriate usage, and rebuttal:

Honest to Blog

An annoying phrase that hipster-wannabes use to add to the credibility if a statement or check the credibility of another person’s statement.
It is a play on the phrase “Honest to god” that refers to the fact that blogs have been reputed as fact checkers in recent years.

Example 1 -
Hipster wannabe: “I just read Allen Ginsberg’s latest book of poetry. Honest to blog it is the best he’s written yet.”
Hipster: “Um, Allen Ginsberg is dead… and don’t use that phrase, it’s fucking annoying.”

Example 2 -
Person: “I just got my second face lift in three years.”
Hipster wannabe: “Honest to blog?”
Person: “Yea… and don’t say that, it’s fucking annoying.”

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Posted by Ted Zee on February 06th 2008 | 3 Comments

Human Giant Tour

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Human Giant, aka Paul Scheer, Aziz Ansari, and Rob Huebel, aka The Best Comedy Troupe on Television since MTV’s The State (circa 1995) have announced a tour as a gear-up to their season 2 premiere on March 11th. Tour stops are in Telluride, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Cambridge, Brooklyn, SXSW, and Don’t Mess With Texas 2. Tour dates and details.

Related Video: Shutterbugs, Episode 4. Where is Bobbe J’s Emmy?

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Posted by Ted Zee on February 05th 2008 | 0 Comments

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