This American Life - Season 2 Teaser

NPR’s Ira Glass has another season of This American Life (Showtime) primed for television. Premieres Sunday, May 4. This evening, Glass is also hosting a one-time live version of TAS, broadcast via satellite to select theaters. Locate and contact for tickets.

Previously: Season 1 review

Posted by Ted Zee on April 30th 2008 | 0 Comments

Roger Ebert Has a Blog

A broken hip adds to my tour of medical adventures. My current plan is to take it easy, obey the doctors orders, and start writing reviews again.

Granted, the design isn’t easy on the eyes and the few early entries are on the dry side, but what else do you need to know? (via Kottke)

Posted by Ted Zee on April 29th 2008 | 2 Comments

Soderbergh's 'Girlfriend'

Stephen Soderbergh will pair again with Ocean’s Thirteen writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien for The Girlfriend Experience. The film will detail “the world of prostitution from the vantage point of a $10,000-a-night call girl.” (Variety) This is the second film for Soderbergh to be financed and distributed by Mark Cuban’s 2929 Entertainment and HDNet companies, after his brilliant but overlooked small-scale production, Bubble (2005 – Trailer). Like Bubble, where he cast non-professional Ohio natives as leads, Soderbergh might also go the non-traditional route with Girlfriend: he’s considering using an adult-film actress to play a woman who makes a million a year as an escort.

Prior to The Girlfriend Experience, Soderbergh’s two Spanish language Che Guevara biopics, Guerrilla and The Argentine, with Benicio Del Toro cast as Guevara, will premiere at Cannes next month.

Posted by Ted Zee on April 29th 2008 | 0 Comments

Trailer: Alan Ball's 'Towelhead'


American Beauty writer and Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball’s first directorial outing, based on Alicia Erian’s 2005 novel Towelhead, was originally called Nothing is Private. The film is led by newcomer Summer Bishil – playing 13 year-old Jasira, of Lebanese decent. Jasira is passed off by her mother (Maria Bello) in Syracuse to live with her father in the suburbs of Houston – where she learns about and obsesses over her sexuality, faces local racism, and endures abuse from three different men – her father, her mother’s boyfriend, and a neighbor played by Aaron Eckhart.

It screened for audiences at The Toronto International Film Festival in September and was reamed from both ends of the critical spectrum by Roger Friedman of Fox News and The Reeler’s Stu VanAirsdale. Freidman called the rookie effort from Ball a work that “verges on kiddie porn” from “its graphic depiction of sexual, mental and physical child abuse,” labeling it “the feel-awful movie of 2007.” VanAirsdale, much more highly regarded in film circles in regards to taste and range of palette, nonetheless bashed Private in his own way, stating it was “like Todd Solondz remaking Crash in a cul-de-sac, but with twice the tampons and a quarter of the self-respect.” His vitriolic response was even worse towards the director, whose film treatment stirred such rage in VanAirsdale that he wrote that he wanted to train as a projectionist to work the New York premiere of the film so he could “smuggle the last reel down to the seating level and BLUDGEON THE MOTHERFUCKER [Ball] TO DEATH WITH IT.”

Advanced word hasn’t been entirely negative across the board though – Cinematical’s Ryan Stewart called it an “alternately moving and bitingly funny portrait,” while Jeffrey Wells said it’s “obviously one of the most original, daring films about adolescent sexuality ever delivered by a quasi-mainstreamer.”

Back in September (indieWIRE), Ball said that he wanted to use the title Nothing is Private because using Towelhead would make the story more about race and ethnicity and less about his intended focus, “a universal coming-of-age moment in a young person’s life.” Fast forward to this year – Warner Brothers reverts the name back to Towelhead. Despite Ball’s surprise over the shocked responses (NY Post), he should know by now that Towelhead (scheduled for an August 8th release) has a couple things to be mindful of – the racially charged title, along with a “kiddie porn” tag, and a critic looking to jump out of hiding just to kick his ass.

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

Mike Judge gets Jason Bateman for 'Extract'

Mike Judge (Beavis and Butthead, Office Space), who had his Idiocracy release virtually swept under the rug by Fox in 2006, has Jason Bateman lined up for his next comedy, Extract, to be distributed by Miramax. (Variety)

Posted by Ted Zee on April 27th 2008 | 0 Comments

'Synecdoche' Shot


Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener in Synecdoche, New York (Image via Anne Thompson). Nominated for three screenplay Oscars, and winning in 2005 for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Charlie Kaufman’s first directorial effort could be his biggest head-trip yet, or just a colossal mess – Hoffman, as theater director Caden Cotard, juggles a handful of women in his life while attempting to construct a full scale replica of New York inside a Manhattan warehouse (there’s your Kaufmanesque touch) for his next play. Premiering next month at Cannes, Synecdoche also stars Emily Watson, Michelle Williams, Samantha Morton, and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Posted by Ted Zee on April 26th 2008 | 2 Comments

Wasted Hours Depository


Posted by Ted Zee on April 26th 2008 | 0 Comments

Ratings Tip: Don't Mess With POTUS

Whether NBC was trying to improve the ratings for Deal or No Deal, or George W is immaterial – either way it backfired.  Ratings for the April 21 show featuring Bush’s videotaped appearance tied Deal’s worst ever Monday numbers, and were 27 percent below the season average. (Video/via Think Progress)

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

Ham Swap


Jimmy Fallon and NBC have come to an agreement which will place him in Conan O’Brien’s late night spot after Conan takes over The Tonight Show next year, possibly as soon as in January. The official announcement from NBC is expected to come on May 12th. Though “retiring” from his job at The Peacock, Jay Leno is in play for upcoming gigs at either ABC or Fox. (Hollywood Reporter)

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

'Hung': HBO's Groundbreaking One-Trick Pony

Much has been made about HBO’s post-Sopranos struggles as it muddles through exec transitions while trying to fend off the suddenly surging Showtime and their most recent hits, but one thing is clear today: they’ve got one show in the chamber that everyone is going to be talking about, for better or worse.

Their just-announced show is called Hung. Don’t overthink it – the comedy is about a well-endowed high school basketball coach and father that the show’s creators compare to Spider-Man – as “an average guy who gets in touch with his innate super powers.” Husband and wife creative team Dmitry Lipkin and Colette Burson, both behind The Riches (FX), brought Hung (guess the title Boogie Nights was already taken) to HBO’s Sue Naegle for her first development deal as network president.

The beauty, if that’s what we want to call it, about Hung is that besides its innate capacity to launch a thousand blog puns (no exclusion here), Lipkin and Burson will effectively have seasons worth of jokes written for them by the rest of us, long before the in-development series hits the air. (Variety)

Posted by Ted Zee on April 24th 2008 | 8 Comments

6 Items


David Chase has already alluded to what really happened to Tony Soprano, but what about the frozen Russian that got away from Christopher and Paulie Walnuts? Chase answers that, and discloses twenty or so other crumbs of Sopranos trivia that you didn’t know that you needed to know. (On The Air)

Bill Cosby joins Chris Rock, Steve Harvey, George Wallace, Paul Mooney and Katt Williams for the Robert Townsend-directed documentary, Why We Laugh: Black Comedians on Black Comedy. (Hollywood Reporter)

Soderberg’s Che Guevara double header, Woody’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and Clint Eastwood’s Changeling headline some of the American entries to debut at Cannes, but I’ve got a one track mind about (former Spike Jonze & Michel Gondry collaborator) Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Synecdoche, New York. (The Guardian)

Uma Thurman hints around about the two anime companion films that are rumored to part of the grande Kill Bill DVD re-release. (MTV News)

Ricky Gervais in the much anticipated Grand Theft Auto IV? (Paste)

“Tina Fey-tigue” on the horizon (via Risky Biz)

Posted by Ted Zee on April 24th 2008 | 7 Comments

Trailer: Luke Wilson in 'Henry Poole Is Here'


Like Lars and the Real Girl, if you substitute Luke Wilson for Ryan Gosling, sun-soaked Los Angeles for snowed-in Midwest, despondency for delusion, and apparitions of Jesus for replications of the female anatomy. Scheduled release: August 15th, 2008.

Henry Poole is Here – Quicktime trailer

Posted by Ted Zee on April 23rd 2008 | 2 Comments

Curb Your Skepticism


Like the 60 year-old Larry David and 72 year-old Woody Allen, this photo of Larry and Evan Rachel Wood on the set of Woody’s new, untitled New York film  (via Spout, more at DListed) has been around the block a few times. Late pass me/and or yourself.  Woody (who will also appear in the film) has been on another dry spell since Match Point (honestly, did you or anyone you know head out to see the stealthy Cassandra’s Dream release?), but if anyone can play the requisite Woody Allen stand-in and deliver at least a third-base run, it’s Larry David.

Posted by Ted Zee on April 23rd 2008 | 3 Comments

Talking Wholphin


The filmmaker blog Stream has an interview with Brent Hoff, the former Daily Show and Best Week Ever writer, who along with Dave Eggers, created and curates the McSweeney’s DVD magazine, Wholphin. Having featured short films from Spike Jonze, David Russell, Miranda July, and Alexander Payne, in addition to countless videos from up and coming filmmakers, Wholphin compiles rare and unseen works: dead pilots, documentaries, and rescued videos – in the case of the the current issue, “a short film about Darfuri rebels literally smuggled out of Sudan in the back of a horse cart.”

Hoff talks about the beginning of the magazine, the selection process, and what’s in store for the future of the magazine, like working towards full, downloadable issues.

Read the interview

— Watch a trailer for House Hunting, based on a short story by Michael Chabon, starring Paul Rudd and Zooey Deschanel. Directed by Amy Lippman. Part of the Winter 2008 issue.

— April 29th: preview screening of issue 6 in Los Angeles

Posted by Ted Zee on April 23rd 2008 | 4 Comments

Bjork's 3D Wanderlust


Bjork’s Wanderlust video has been released to Wired Magazine as it was meant to be seen – in three lush, hypercolor dimensions. If you’re the crafty type, they’ve given instructions to make your own glasses. For those that possess superhuman patience, One Little Indian will snail mail you a pair for one self addressed stamped envelope. If you’re of the lazy, but still slightly curious variety, Wired also has the video in high-res 2D. (via YESORNODC)

Related: Drowned in Sound editors’ Top Ten unmistakably Bjork videos (via jeffmradio). I’ve always been partial to the Michel Gondry directed Jóga.

Posted by Ted Zee on April 22nd 2008 | 3 Comments

New York Advisory: indieWIRE's Daily Filmmaker Talks at Apple Store, Soho

Starting on April 25th and during the Tribeca Film Festival, indieWIRE will be hosting daily Filmmaker Talks at the Apple Store in SoHo. Actor/writer/director guests are Tony Gilroy, Paul Haggis, Tom Kalin, Harmony Korine, Guy Maddin, Matthew Modine, Greg Mottola, Clive Owen, Amy Poehler, Isabella Rossellini, Morgan Spurlock, and Adam Yauch. Events are free. First come, first served. Details.

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

Trailer: Frank Miller's 'The Spirit'

Bits of color contrasted against noir looking familiar? It should. Frank Miller takes the next step from comic creator to screenplay scribe to the director’s chair. Based on the comic series created by Will Eisner in 1940. Starring Gabriel Macht, Eva Mendes, Samuel L. Jackson, and Scarlett Johansson. Scheduled release: January 16th, 2009.

Related: Hubbub over Johansson’s (debatably) sexy nurse images. (via Defamer)

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

Red Band Trailer: Steve Coogan in 'Hamlet 2'


Struggling actor and high school drama teacher Dana Marschz (Steve Coogan) sequels Shakespeare to save the at-risk theater department (in lieu of the rec center or mom-and pop-corner store) in Hamlet 2, the first and most expensive purchase from this year’s Sundance Festival ($10 Million, Focus Features). Co-starring Catherine Keener as Marschz’s wife, plus David Arquette, Elisabeth Shue, and Amy Poehler. Pedigree for the film includes Nancy Drew, Dick (director Andrew Fleming), Hot Rod, South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut, and Team America: World Police (writer Pam Brady).

Early analysis: “A shoddy and indulgent mass of bits from other movies…I asked a fellow critic and friend what he thought now that he’d seen the heavily-buzzed big sale of the festival, and his answer summed things up fairly perfectly: “$2 million a laugh.” – James Rocci

Hamlet 2 – Red Band Trailer (via Coming Soon)

Posted by Ted Zee on April 18th 2008 | 1 Comment

BSG Creator to Write Sci-Fi Film Triology

Battlestar Galactica co-creator, writer, and producer Ronald D. Moore has made a deal with Tom Cruise’s revamped United Artists to begin work on penning a new sci-fi trilogy for the big screen. Moore has previously written and produced for several Star Trek TV iterations in the nineties, along with Roswell and Carnivàle. (Variety)

Posted by Ted Zee on April 18th 2008 | 1 Comment

IMDB Hijinks

Director Adam McKay (Anchorman, Talladega Nights), Paul Scheer, and a couple other Funny or Die members have started a retroactive buzz campaign for the 1993 action-comedy sequel Another Stakeout on the IMDB message boards, because they can. Says McKay, about the “completely forgettable so-so sequel,” starring Emilio Estevez, Richard Dryfuss, and Rosie O’Donnell:

Come join us and help us turn this movie into a giant cult hit for absolutely no good reason. Register and vote 10/10 for the movie. Get into heated trivia arguments about the movie. Quote lines, question other Stakeout heads’ commitment to the movie. Let’s forward this e-mail and flood the site to the point where there are Another Stakeout festivals and conventions and midnight showings with people in costume saying lines along with the movie ala Rocky Horror Pic Show. And remember, we are Another Stakeout fans. Not Stakeout fans. The first one was pretty good but like the Godfather 2 (or is the Godfather 2 like Another Stakeout?) director John Badham got it right the second time around. AS 2 forever!! [via Best Week Ever]

Related: Happy Birthday, Funny or Die

Posted by Ted Zee on April 17th 2008 | 1 Comment