The long-awaited series premiere of "Girl Meets World" did big numbers for Disney Channel on Friday (June 27) night, but it still couldn't keep up with its lead-in, the original movie "Zapped."
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Yes, another day, another anniversary. But this one is quite noteworthy.
Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" turns 25 on Monday. It is a film I first saw when I was young, but I wasn't at all ready for it. I saw it again in film school and noticed I had grown with it, but it still whipped up complex feelings (as only the best films can). I've revisited it a number of times over the years and come to cherish it as one of the greatest pieces of cinema ever conjured, but the Academy frankly seemed like it was holding its nose just to give it the two nominations it received a quarter century ago.
One of the words that was used most frequently when describing "Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes" was "surprise," and with good reason. After all, the previous attempt to bring the long-running science-fiction franchise back to life was a nightmare, a truly terrible film that is a narrative disaster even among the narrative disasters that mark many of Tim Burton's lesser films. It seemed like Fox had limped along trying to get an "Apes" movie made for so long that they were willing to try anything.
Scott Frank came close to getting a film make called "Caesar," and it sounded like he was on the right track. His basic idea started with a Fox-mandated remake of "Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes," but went in a very different direction. His film was designed to be a hard-science story about what might happen if we made the advance in genetic modification that would lead to apes that spoke and thoughts the same way we do, and he researched the state of the art of motion-capture and character animation.
This was around the end of 2008, the start of 2009, and when he moved on, Fox must have remained excited about the basic idea. Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver pitched their own origin movie, using alzheimer's research as the jumping-off point, and they ended up writing the film that Rupert Wyatt directed. That film, featuring a performance by Andy Serkis as Caesar, wasn't the biggest box-office hit of 2011, but it was a film that was respected and liked and that people were pleasantly delighted by, something that almost always ends up creating more passionate fans. It's one thing when we've all got some pop culture icon jammed down our throats. Even when it's done well, it feels pre-packaged. But when something that we aren't expecting wins us over, we tend to be much more passionate about it.
I haven't seen "Transformers: Age of Extinction" yet, and if truth be told, I'm not exactly rushing to amend that state of affairs -- Michael Bay's cash-spinning franchise exhausted me on its very first entry, and while the third film was certainly an improvement on the bewilderingly incoherent second, I'm not sure I have the stamina to go there again for 165 minutes. Then again, I'm a longstanding Mark Wahlberg fan and am rooting for Jack Reynor's career to take off, so maybe at some point down the line.
I liked Ned Benson's debut "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby," the edited version of which I caught up with a Cannes last month -- but not as much as I liked Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy in it. I haven't seen the two-film version of the project that debuted in Toronto, but I sensed something had been lost in its condensation into one feature.
[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]
Greetings and Salutations.
It's time for another year of Take Me To The Pilots entries, a format that I started way back in The Blogspot Days and I've been doing it regularly for HitFix since 2010. [I honestly don't know why I didn't do Take Me To The Pilots in 2009.]
I've been using the same intro post since 2010 and that post featured a header image from FOX's "Lone Star," which famously lasted only two episodes despite being one of my favorite pilots of that fall. It exposes one of the main challenges of the pilot viewing process and the Take Me To The Pilots process, which is that at this stage in the game, it's less about what these things actually ARE and more about the potential of what they MIGHT BE. And that potential may never be realized, for good or for ill.
Rosie saved “The View” once, could she do it again?
“The View” was at its best when Rosie O’Donnell was there with actual opinions — something the show has lacked recently. As Ramin Setoodeh points out, ABC wanted to move away from the political talk with the exits of Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. The result is a “View” that spent more time on mindless celebrity gossip than heftier topics. "If ABC wants 'The View' to survive for another few seasons, Rosie is probably the show’s best bet,” he says. "Most of the women who grew up watching her on “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” are now moms themselves, and will tune in for more Rosie (who is now 52). She’s available to take the job.” PLUS: Sharon Osbourne can’t see Rosie and Whoopi together as "View" regulars.
With “Girl Meets World,” Disney wanted a show that's the anti-YouTube
The trend in children’s programming is short-form video like you can see on YouTube and Vine, or on Nickelodeon’s “Sam & Cat.” By bucking that trend, Disney Channel’s Gary Marsh says, “We want to be more heartfelt, more genuine.” That involved hiring four young female writers who could identify with a young girl’s problems. The creator of both “Girl Meets World” and “Boy Meets World” likes to point out that he’s a 58-year-old man who’s far removed from childhood. PLUS: Rewatching the “Boy Meets World” pilot 21 years later, and how many times was “world” mentioned in the pilot?
How to avoid dying by binge-watching
Incorporate exercise into your viewing, or don’t sit on your butt all day.
“Retired” Barbara Walters will be back on TV again on Sunday
After appearing on “The View” and “20/20” on Friday, Walters will share her wisdom on Sunday’s "Oprah's Master Class” on OWN.
How David Duchovny changed on “Californication”
It took him quite a while to get used to the Hank Moody character, from the verbal to the non-verbal.
Jimmy Fallon’s baby daughter watches “The Tonight Show”
Fallon also jokes that Baby Winnie is watching “Real Housewives."
Watch an extended look at “Sharknado 2”
This clip features Ian Ziering, Perez Hilton, Mark McGrath and Judah Friedlander in the subway. With sharks.
Chris Rock hosts the BET Awards on Sunday
How does it compare to hosting the Oscars?
Kim & Kanye get “Simpson”-ized by a non-“Simpsons” artist
Artist aleXsandro Palombo, who is not connected to the Fox series, used “The Simpsons” in recreating their favorite poses in cartoon form.
RuPaul to guest on “Mystery Girls”
RuPaul Charles won’t be in drag for the guest spot.
Former NBC/Fox/WB exec Garth Ancier countersues over sex abuse allegations
Ancier is seeking a jury trial for malicious prosecution after being sued by Michael Egan III.
BBC tells the story of World War I via a rap battle
Saturday marks the 100th anniversary of the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which led to the First World War.
How “Salem” incorporates bugs, spider’s webs, human hair into its costumes
"They wanted me to bring an edgy look to the show,” says the WGN America show’s costume designer, Joseph A. Porro, who’s an aficionado of Salem’s witch hunt period.
Was “Buffy” the 1st scripted show to use the word “Google”?
On an Oct. 15, 2002 episode, Willow says, “Have you googled her yet?”
Jackie Cruz was fired from her nightclub job for working too much on “OITNB”
Cruz says she kept getting more play on the Netflix series and she couldn’t keep up with her regular job. PLUS: Should Vee have been the only villain on Season 2?
"Penny Dreadful” ends its 1st season having reanimated the gothic-horror genre
"The show’s a rare example of how to reimagine classic ideas without losing their spirit,” says Nicholas Slayton. "And it’s a reminder of why this genre of horror is so compelling. Everyone needs a good scare.” PLUS: Which questions need answering?
Watch “The Daily Show” mock texting and camera phones a decade ago
Ed Helms really liked making fun of the new technology of 2003.
CNN’s Richard Quest comes out
As a business journalist on CNN, Quest said he came to the conclusion that saying he was gay was good for his business as a business journalist.
Behind the scenes of “Austin City Limits’” start-studded 40th-anniversary show
Everybody from Jeff Bridges to Kris Kristofferson to Sheryl Crow to Dave Grohl and Bonnie Raitt were in attendance for Thursday’s taping, which will air in October.
Check out Nicole Richie’s new VH1 reality show “Candidly Nicole”
In the trailer, she says, “I think ‘90210' changed the world.”
“Nurse Jackie” has found a way to reinvent itself this season
The Showtime series ends its season Sunday by peaking with a downward spiral. PLUS: Zoey has worn 47 pairs of scrubs.
PBS’ “Vicious” stars Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi as an elderly gay couple
What’s interesting about this British import, says Mike Hale, is "what an amazing simulacrum it is of a half-century of unsubtle, off-color, formulaic, wink-wink British TV. Mr. McKellen and Mr. Jacobi may be enacting gay clichés, but they’re doing it in the larger service of keeping alive a particular style of comedy.”
“Reckless” tries and fails to make legal procedurals sexy
CBS should’ve called this Southern-set drama series starring Cam Gigandet and Anna Wood, premiering Sunday, "Vaguely Charismatic, Attractive People Flirting.” PLUS: “Reckless” is determined to be vacuous.
HBO’s “The Leftovers” is intriguing — if you want to wallow in sorrow and regret
"There’s nothing warm or welcoming about it, nor is there meant to be,” Hank Stuever says of this "strange but good wallow.” “The Leftovers,” he adds, "is one of the coldest TV shows I’ve ever seen. It possesses almost no irony, few verbose monologues, a bare minimum of sharp moves, and a style that is conspicuously drab. Watching it produces a numbness that isn’t anything like grief, but more like the tingly approach of a Novocaine local. The tongue can’t help returning to the hurt spot.” PLUS: “The Leftovers” is great TV — if you don’t slit your wrists, it is frustrating and unsatisfying, it makes for punishingly grim and at times tedious television, this show is gloomy as all hell — and absolutely gorgeous, “The Leftovers” is a sincere and earnest attempt to understand death and human loss, it may be the most meta show on TV, Damon Lindelof talks about his return to TV, and it’s highly unlikely viewers will get the answer.
FX taking down “The Strain” billboards that grossed people out
L.A. residents have found a billboard showing a worm crawling into a person’s eye revolting. After a Twitter uproar, FX is taking the billboards down.
Soul legend Bobby Womack has died at the age of 70, his publicist at XL Recordings has confirmed to HitFix.
Womack, who was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2009 by The Rolling Stones Ron Wood, was only 16 when he dropped out of school at the urging of mentor Sam Cooke and began recording with his brothers under the name the Valentinos. (Womack later went on to marry and divorce Cooke's widow, Barbra.)
The Valentinos first hit, "Lookin' for a Love," produced by Cooke, reached No. 8 on Billboard's R&B chart. Its second hit, “It’s All Over Now,” co-written by Womack, later became the Rolling Stones’ second Top 40 hit in the U.S.
Womack continued on as a solo artist, charting 36 songs between 1970 and 1990, including “That’s the Way I Feel About Cha,” “Woman’s Gotta Have It,”” and “If You Think You’re Lonely Now.”
He also wrote songs recorded by a number of artists, including Wilson Pickett and George Benson. An accomplished guitarist, he also played on sessions for everyone from Aretha Franklin to Ray Charles and Dusty Springfield.
In 2012, Womack released "The Bravest Man in the Universe," his first album since 1994's "Resurrection." Revered in England, Womack, who played the Glastonbury Festival in 2013, had worked with Blur's Damon Albarn on the set in London and New York. The album, which won the UK's Q Award for best album in 2012, was re-released June 12 with additional material. Albarn had worked previously with Womack on Albarn's side project, The Gorillaz' 2010 album, "Plastic Beach." Womack appears on the album's hit, "Stylo."
Womack has been on the road, playing both the New Orleans Jazz Festival in May and Bonnaroo, earlier this month. He was slated to start a European tour July 19 in Amsterdam.
The cause of death has not been disclosed. Womack, a diabetic, had been diagnosed with colon cancer in 2012.
An updated, more extensive obit will be published shortly
For anybody who has and will see David Michôd's "The Rover," there's another strong lead besides Robert Pattinson and Guy Pearce: its soundtrack is like another character. The score for the film was composed by Antony Partos and performed by sound designer Sam Petty. (They both also helmed the sounds for Michôd's "Animal Kingdom.")
Michôd initially presented his cast with previously recorded and powerful songs from accomplished saxophonists and composers Colin Stetson and William Basinski, post-rockers Tortoise, Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi and -- yup -- pop star Keri Hilson. Partos and Petty chewed on them too, and riffed on the descending scenery for Pattinson's Rey and Pearce's Eric. What they weaved in became a gorgeous black mass of ominous, dissonant, agitated and aggressive compositions to rove to in the Australian outback.
Today, we exclusively reveal "The Rover" score tracks on their own; below, Michôd and Partos discuss arriving at sounds, customizing bastardized violins, the Keri Hilson "Pretty Girl Rock" scene, and when to try a little tenderness.
David, you had given songs from Colin Stetson, Tortoise, etc. to the cast as "mood signifiers." Had you always known that you definitely wanted some of those songs to end up in the movie too? What was your vision of how those songs would blend with Antony and Sam's original work, or was that planned?
David Michôd: I find music the the clearest and easiest way in to what a movie will feel like - more so than visual references or other movies or dense dossiers of research material. Every now and then I'll send a piece of music or two to people I'm working with -- actors or heads of department - when I think it'll help them get a sense of the kind of movie I'm proposing. Often those pieces will end up in the movie -- sometimes they won't. I build big playlists while I'm writing -- stuff from all over the place, stuff I suspect I'll never use -- and then, as we get closer to production and then the edit, I whittle that list down to the key pieces that somehow embody the movie and its key scenes.
So, yeah, those tracks -- the Stetson, Basinski, Tortoise etc -- were ones I had hoped would find their way into the finished cut. I always knew, however, that there would be strange gaps that needed to be filled -- connecting tissues or pieces requiring something very specific that I hadn't been able to find. That's where the exceptional talents of Antony Partos and Sam Petty come in.
What were the other songs you could have potentially gone with for Robert/Rey's "Pretty Girl Rock" scene? Why and how did you settle on that one?
Michôd: I think once upon a time I had "Don't Cha" by The Pussycat Dolls down for that scene. It was just a signpost in the script. I can't remember how and when Keri Hilson found herself in the mix. I wanted that moment in the movie to function as a potent reminder of the fact that Rob's character is a kid who in different circumstances would just be doing the kinds of things kids do everywhere -- thinking about girls, playing with his hair, listening to music. Instead, he has found himself in the middle of nowhere, tethered to a monstrously damaged drifter.
Antony, can you elaborate how, logistically, you and Sam would split or perform various "duties" for this? Did you call dibs on characters you wanted to write themes for, or were did you assign yourselves specific instruments one or the other would play? Or was it important that everything was created together?
Antony Partos: Working together with David and Sam again after "Animal Kingdom" made it possible to have a certain short hand in terms of decision making.
In a sense this was much a simpler process than with "Animal Kingdom." David had a very strong vision for the musical palette and also distinct ideas about what should be in Sam's domain and what should be score. Sam works a lot of with tonal based textures and is a very nuanced sound designer. In terms of forming a stream lined process on "The Rover," I would send over temp mixes to Sam, so things like key, could be established early on. I also sent over individual musical based sounds for Sam to use as he saw fit.
Aside from being fairly ambient, there's also a very minimal, primitive vibe to the score, an obvious reflection of the visuals. Did you set certain restrictions or parameters (aside from time cues) in which you could only operate in creating (or selecting) the music -- like number of allowed instruments, types of instruments, keys/tones?
Partos: David was always intent on using some pieces by the extraordinary saxophonist Colin Stetson, so this really set the tone and palette early on in the piece. My brief was to try and evoke a certain sadness and help the two main characters develop an unspoken bond. I was interested in complimenting Colin's pieces by also using saxophones so I created pieces by getting musicians in early on to play in unusual ways. For example, recording baritone and bass saxophones not only in their usual register but also getting them to play harmonics and notes at the extreme high end of the register. I would also play with the pitches after the record by manipulating elements octaves below or higher than their original pitch. This help create a mood that was somehow tender but simultaneously alien. Similar techniques were used with bass Irish whistles and strings.
The string work was recorded individually and used a combination of bastardized custom made violins with strings that could play in either viola or cello pitch as well as electric violin. Once again it help create a mood that was subtly emotional but somehow unfamiliar and lonely.
Music like from the "Homecoming" scene can be downright hopeful, something this movie isn't really about. Were there times you knew you wanted to lighten the film up, even when the story kept going down, down, down?
Partos: My task was to build the trust and love between the two main characters despite their circumstances. I think there is a subtle yet tangible shift that develops two thirds of the way through the story and the score does change in this regard to become more harmonically based compared to the textures that are present in the first half of the film. It was interesting to see how it played with a large audience. There are certain moments in the film that give it relief. This was evident in the script and it was picked up by the audience in the Sydney Film Festival screening.
Yes the film is dark -- and I must admit for me I am drawn to a sense of broodiness with my music. But hopefully there is an aspect to tenderness in the score as well.
Some of the abstract samples or scores are like loops, good palate cleansers (or good for brain entropy when you're in a rut). What music or audio do you use to bring order to your creative life? What do you do to mess it all up?
Partos: My life is naturally disorganized. I struggle to bring order to it at the best of times. I think I am wired in a more chaotic manner than most, and I do my best to hide this fact from as many people as possible!