January 30, 2013

There Is A Chinese Version Of FRIENDS Called PLANET HOMEBUDDIES

As many filmmakers know, when you make a movie and sell it overseas, the title often changes...sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad.  My short POOL DAYS is known in France as MES JOUR A LA PISCINE, which actually sounds lovely.  However, sometimes the translation can be odd to say the least. Which is the case with a new Chinese version of the American sitcom FRIENDS, which begins airing in China next week.  It's called PLANET HOMEBUDDIES. No joke.

I heard about his on JIMMY KIMMEL last night and he had a great joke about how it only took them 18 years to do this. Basically, it's the same setup as FRIENDS but set in China and will even have a theme song specially made for them by the same guy who wrote the anthemic FRIENDS song, "I'll Be There For You"...Danny Wilde of The Rembrandts. I wish there were some clips available but all there is now is this weird still, which sorta does look like the '90s. 

January 29, 2013

Steven Soderberg Lets It Fly In NEW YORK Magazine

There's a long and discursive interview with one of my favorite contemporary directors Steven Soderbergh in this week's NEW YORK magazine. He talks about his well-publicized "retirement" from feature filmmaking and how the system of Hollywood features is broken....and, more specifically, how directors are treated so poorly. (Agreed!)  His next project, a Liberace biopic, is going to HBO starring Matt Damon, with Michael Douglas as the piano man. And they apparently really got into their big gay scenes too!

It's a very entertaining interview as the outspoken Soderberg goes on about many topics beyond filmmaking. Soderberg is a very modern Renaissance man and talks about his interest in painting and making collages with US magazine(!) as well as a new sidebar, importing a special kind of liquor from Bolivia. In assessing his eclectic film career, he says the one movie of his he wouldn't change is OUT OF SIGHT. I would have to agree with that as it's one sharp and sexy movie....with J. Lo's most decent performance to date. Worth adding to your Netflix if you missed it the first time around.

January 28, 2013

Adam Levine Gets Judged And Goes Topless On SNL

The cold open for this week's SNL was unusually star-studded and quite funny too. Adam Levine, of Maroon 5 and THE VOICE, was the host and they did a set up where he was judged on his monologue ala his own show by a panel of celebrity comedians; Andy Samberg, Cameron Diaz, and (surprise!) Jerry Seinfeld. Jerry had some of the best lines about giving advice to some "looks less Jewish than his name" but Cameron Diaz was hysterical doing a send-up of Christina Aguilera and, well, herself. 

The whole thing ends with Adam Levine taking his shirt off to reveal his infamously tatted torso.  Which actually turned this cold open into a hot one. After this turn and his guest starring on AMERICAN HORROR STORY, what could be next for this hot hypenate....maybe a cool indie fillm? We shall see...

January 25, 2013

JJ Abrams To Direct STAR WARS: EPISODE 7

After a few months of wild speculation in Hollywood, the announcement yesterday that JJ Abrams would be directing the new Disney STAR WARS movie was a bit of a surprise (and blew up the Twitterverse). He'd publicly taken himself out of the running last fall, saying he had a number of his own projects to work on after the new STAR TREK movie was done. But either this was a PR fakeout or something convinced him otherwise as now he will be reviving the STAR WARS franchise with the new film, currently being scripted by Michael Arndt.

Given the way Abrams revived the defunct STAR TREK franchise a few years ago, this news bodes extremely well for STAR WARS fans. It will be exciting to have him bring the franchise back from the dead after Lucas's 1,2,3 prequels which may have looked cool but were dramatic duds. Abrams has been a vocal and rabid fan of that galaxy far far away so he will certainly bring to it his passion and his talents for making entertaining blockbusters that are not stupid. The new movie is due summer 2015.

January 24, 2013

Old Times Square Photos Of Follies Burlesk And The Gaiety

One of my favorite blogs is Jeremiah's Vanishing New York where the motto is "A New Yorker is someone who longs for New York." Sometimes, when I'm walking through the super corporate, blazingly bright Times Square of today, I long for a time a few decades past when things were a little more run down and rough around the edges. 

Back when I first arrived in town, one of my favorite spots for drinks and "a show" was the old Howard Johnson's on 48th and Broadway where, on the second floor, you could see a classy male strip show at The Gaiety (a joint made famous when Madonna shot part of her SEX book there). It was classy in that there was seating, a runway, and even punch and snacks in the back. Ah those were the gays... 

Anyway, today Jeremiah features some great old photos that predate my memories of that corner, when the Gaiety was a female "Burlesk" joint with a crazy old neon sign that promised an "all-live whirly girly revue." You know, when they put it like that, I think that's even something I'd have been interested in checking out way back in the day. This is the kinda place where ladies who wanted to by Gypsy Rose Lee would have strut their stuff so I'm sure the place was chock full of characters, and a few New York nuts too. 

January 23, 2013

Country Music Returns To NYC With NASH-FM

It's been 17 years since you could hear country music on the radio in NYC. But, over the holiday weekend, WXRP or NASH-FM went on the air with an all-country format and yesterday, the station was featured today in the NY Times as well.

My love of country music is maybe my most shocking cultural secret for a gay man who lives in Manhattan. But I have to admit that I used to be a regular listener of the last country station that operated in the city back in the 90s. I've also spent a lot of time at the Big Apple Ranch in Chelsea, where you can two-step every Saturday night with some like-minded country afficiandos (not to mention some professional dancers who put on quite a show!). And I enjoy stopping by Flaming Saddles, a surprisingly friendly nightspot in Hellsea, where they have guys doing the boot scootin' boogie on top of the bar.

My interest in country started accidentally, when I was working as a newscaster before I moved to NYC for an AM/FM station in Frederick, MD where the AM side was a country format (now it's gone country on the FM side).  Anyway, I got used to hearing it in the booth and really enjoyed it.  And now at least I can listen again by tuning my snooze alarm to the new 94.7 FM station. And you know what? I think I just might wake up a happier person.

January 22, 2013

SAVING LINCOLN, The Other Lincoln Film And Its Digital Creation

I read about this film over at IndieWire this weekend. It's a bio pic about Lincoln told from the perspective of his colorful Southern bodyguard Ward Hill Lamon.  Smartly capitalizing on the current Lincoln-mania and piggybacking on Spielberg's Oscar front-runner LINCOLN, this low budget indie has taken a very different approach toward telling the period story.

Using green screen technology, the film was shot on stages and the backgrounds were created from old Civil War-era photos scanned from the Library of Congress' archive. It makes for some stunning backdrops for sure (especially a birds eye view of the White House that opens the film's trailer below) but it also creates a highly stylized look that seems like an uneasy cross between a music video and a video game. Some of the effects are a little rough too, which might be due to uncompleted process shots in the trailer--a situation that often happens with big budget movies.

Anyway, the film stars mainly unknowns (like any true indie) with the exception of Penelope Anne Miller as Mary Todd Lincoln. You can judge for yourself whether this is an exercise in digital filmmaking or a worthy biopic in it's own right when the film comes out next month...on Lincoln's birthday of course.

January 19, 2013

SATURDAY SPECIAL: Eliot Glazer's Speedwalking Video

Oh remember the 80's. Remember instructional videos. Remember speedwalking. This is a comic short from Eliot Glazer on Broadway Video's (SNL's production company) YouTube channel. Hilarious!

January 18, 2013

Feature Film AUGUST Now Available Online At Wolfe Video

The feature film AUGUST, that I co-wrote with Eldar Rappaport and helped produce, is now available online at Wolfe Video's website. AUGUST is the story of two ex-boyfriends who meet again a few years later and complications ensue. Set during a heatwave in L.A., the film is sexy and real and has been compared to another festival favorite--the British indie WEEKEND.

Anyway, you can now rent the film there directly or purchase it as a digital download with extra features include a behind-the scenes featurette. A special online bonus is that if you want to share the link, you can earn a 10% commission for referring it to others on Facebook or Twitter. Details are at the linnk above. And, of course, if you want to kick it old school, you can purchase the DVD on Wolfe's site or Amazon.com.

January 17, 2013

Mani Te'o Got CATFISH-ed, Or Was It A Gay Cover-Up

Queerty and Out Sports today are reporting that there may be more to the tragic Mani Te'o fake girlfriend story than just a hoax.  After Deadspin.com shocked the sports world and broke the incredible story yesterday, Te'o and Notre Dame released statements saying the whole thing is a terrible hoax that has been played on Te'o.  It's eerily reminiscent of CATFISH, the indie doc  where a young New Yorker is taken in by a Facebook friend's web of lies and falls for a person who does not exist.  When he meets her, though, the ruse is up.  When Te'o met his love at a football game in 2009, according to his story, the ruse was just beginning. So something seems a little off here...

Out Sports claims that the Twitter account of Teo's fake girlfriend was run by a good friend of his, Roniah Tulasosopo (a fellow football player and devout Mormon). The allegation is that this was all some sort of cover for a possible affair between the two men. That seems possible if not entirely plausible (especially over the last six months when he's been living in the spotlight). But the idea of creating a tragic girlfriend story would certainly give Te'o the advantage of looking straight while actually not being straight. All this sounds much fishier than CATFISH though. And as details come out as part of an investigation into the whole thing, we'll know more. It's disappointing though to see yet another inspirational sportsman caught up in a story of deceit.

January 16, 2013

A Write-In Campaign For Ben Affleck? It's Happened Before

After winning the Golden Globe for Best Director on ARGO, Ben Affleck's absence from the Oscar nominations list is proving even more baffling in H'wood. I was talking with a friend during the Globes and we joked that maybe he could mount a write-in campaign. Today there is a think piece in the Hollywood Reporter on just that idea and how that could be possible, if highly improbable.

The big shock to me was that it's possible at all and, actually, had been done two times before. There was a campaign for Bette Davis's performance in OF HUMAN BONDAGE which was unsuccessful as she came in third. Even more shocking is the fact they used to release the voting tally!  The second campaign was a cinematographer of MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM, Hal Mohr, who actually won an Oscar based on his write-in effort.

However, since then, the Academy has banned write-in votes so it would involve a huge revision of Academy rules to make it happen. Also, the simple fact that voting is online for the first time this year makes a write-in on an electronic ballot kind of impossible. So Ben might have to settle with his Globe win and maybe hope to slay the ZERO DARK THIRTY & LINCOLN dragons for Best Picture.

January 15, 2013

Victor Garber Is Out And Has A Hot Boyfriend

So in the wake of Jodie Foster's sorta coming out, there are stories all over the Internets today that Victor Garber (who stars in awards-fave ARGO) is out.  Actually, his outing officially happened last week and was a bit more low key than Fosters with 20 million people watching.  Garber was asked by Greg Hernandez (of Greg in Hollywood) to confirm what Wikipedia said, that he lived with his partner of 14 years. Garber was surprised to be asked but said it was true and that it was sort of common knowledge.

It's true that in NYC theatre/film circles, it was common knowledge. But this was the first time Garber had spoken about it publicly. It's funny that these things should matter at all but the fact is they do.  If we can hear every single detail about straight couples breaking up and getting together (Hello Taylor Swift!) then why not some details about their gay counterparts, especially when they are in a committed relationship.  And when the boyfriend in question, Rainer Anderseen is super hot...well, that's just a bonus.

January 14, 2013

Jodie Foster In Her Greatest Role...Herself

Last night's Golden Globes featured an instantly legendary speech by Hollywood icon Jodie Foster as she received the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award. The speech, which brought the crowd to its feet even before it started, has been classified by some as her coming out speech. However it was so much more than that.  It was something like a loose monologue/sololiquy about her life in general and her unusual career in show business since the ripe young age of 3.

I just watched it again and the honesty and the eloquence of it are just so striking. And the emotions, unlike some acceptance speeches, completely unguarded. When she talks about her mother, who seems to be suffering from Alzheimers, it is such a intense moment and a beautiful sentiment, (made with a movie metaphor no-less) as she says "I Love You" three times in hopes that restorative magic may happen.

I first saw Jodie in a Disney movie FREAKY FRIDAY, when I was a youngster. I not only had the hugest crush on her....I wanted to be her. Now I see why. Her enormous talent is just the surface. With her heartfelt eloquence and deep emotion in receiving that award she showed that she is an incredible human being, and one with a rich sense of humor too.  She is not Honey-Boo-Boo, as she memorably noted. (That was the understatement of the night.) She is Jodie Foster and maybe the next 50 years will feature her reprising last night's role and simply playing herself. Who knows? Maybe that could be her greatest role.

January 11, 2013


My friend and fellow filmmaker Brian Dannelly (SAVE ME, WEEDS) has directed a new movie STRUCK BY LIGHTNING, which opens today in NYC and LA. Not only does the film star GLEE's gay breakout star Chris Colfer but the script was also written by Colfer as well. The film is a wickedly black comedy in which Colfer's character gets struck down (as they title says) in the opening shot and then reflects via flashback/voiceover about his final days at a small high school where he had big dreams of literary fame, which he tried to achieve via blackmail. Ah high school...

I got a chance to see the film via Apple TV (it was digitally released last month) and it's a smart, sassy comedy which is all the more remarkable for the fact that Colfer wrote the script when he was all of 21.  The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival here last spring and did the festival circuit last year to much acclaim. You can watch the movie's trailer below...and, if you like a good high school comedy (as I do!) you catch it in theaters this weekend! 

January 10, 2013

A Murderer Makes An Appearance On THE DATING GAME

The TIMES this week reported on the sentencing of a serial killer who'd murdered two women in New York City back in the late 1970s. Rodney James Alcala's hearing made the news because the judge sobbed openly during the proceedings over the brutal nature of the killings.  He had also killed a number of women and teen girls in California, for which he is serving multiple life sentences in that state.

The article mentioned a creepy fact that Alcala made an appearance on THE DATING GAME back in 1978, a year after the two unsolved NYC murders.  What's even more creepy is that he was the winning bachelor. The woman he went out with survived her date fortunately but must have totally flipped out when she realized years later who her TV suitor really was. Here's the clip on YouTube:

January 9, 2013

New Details On The New Season of SMASH

Out in Pasadena, the annual winter TV press tour is underway and yesterday SMASH got to have it's meet and greet with the critics.  The Hollywod Reporter has all the details but the major news is that the new season will feature a lot more music and a brand new musical too.  Jeremy Jordan, from the hit real Broadway show NEWSIES, has joined the cast and will be working on a show within the show called "The Hit List" while "Bombshell", the Marilyn musical from Season 1 will continue to develop.

There was also news that a full "cast recording" of the fictional "Bombshell" musical will be released mid-February with songs from both Season 1 and Season 2. The musical itself, however, is still fictional as it was confirmed last year that there is no book written and no current plans for an actual Bway show about Marilyn.  They haven't ruled it out but it seems unlikely that it will ever happen, given the history of Marilyn flopping on the Great White Way before.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to a new season of the show which many love to hate. I'll be honest--I just love it. A show about Broadway on network television? I mean seriously...what's not to like? :) Here's the trailer for Season 2--with some serious guest stars too. It all starts Feb 5th.

January 8, 2013

DOWNTON ABBEY And The Case Of The Missing Wedding

When Season 3 of DOWNTON ABBEY made it's premiere this week in the US, there was a good deal of rejoicing after having to wait a few months since the UK premiere last fall.  However, there was also some grumbling over something that seemed missing--that is Lady Mary and Cousin Matthew's actual wedding ceremony. After Mary got her quip off about being unpredictable (which was awesome and so Mary!) there was a clumsy dissolve the her and Matthew driving through the country on their way back from the honeymoon.

Well, the executive producer of the show responded to the fans outcry.  I mean this was the moment that the show has really been leading up to for 3 whole seasons afterall.  His full statement is on EW's website but essentially he said that showing the wedding would have been repetitive as people have seen countless wedding scenes in countless TV shows and movies. Yes, but in SOUND OF MUSIC they did not cut to a car returning from the honeymoon -- you get the whole royal wedding!  (Unless you happen to watch it on NBC).

Despite this misstep, the show did killer ratings for PBS and nearly 8 million people watched, more than double those who watched last years season opener.

January 7, 2013

Black and White: Two White House Sitcoms On TV

There have been a lot of ads and hype recently about the new NBC sitcom 1600 PENN, a family show set in the White House which debuts this Thursday night.  Starring BOOK OF MORMON's Josh Gad as the unruly son of a sitting president, it could be entertaining as Gad is a pretty inventive comedian. But the show already has some competition as it is actually the second White House sitcom to debut this television season.  And the other sitcom is somewhat more true to current history in that it features a black family in the White House.

THE FIRST FAMILY premiered last September as a syndicated show (it airs in NYC on MyNetwork TV) and I randomly saw an episode of it last week when flipping channels. The president has a rambunctious extended family which notably includes Jackee Harry as his wacky sister.  The show, however, seems to have been beamed in from the 1980s and, despite its unusual premise, is bland and unfunny. I'm amazed the show hasn't gotten more attention given the reflection of the Obama White House (though this fictional family hails from Detroit!) but then again, it is just not that good. We'll see if 1600 PENN can be any better.

January 4, 2013

Dying Star Trek Fan Gets Special Screening Of INTO DARKNESS

This is such a cool story. Filmmaker JJ Abrams, who is known for being super secretive about keeping his various projects under wraps, did an extraordinary thing for a dying STAR TREK fan; he gave him an advance screening of the new film INTO DARKNESS since this fan will not likely live to see the film's commercial release this summer. 

I saw the story linked on IMDB yesterday from NextMovie.  The whole thing started on Christmas Eve as the dying man's family posted the request on a STAR TREK board on Reddit.  Things took off from there after many comments and eventually the request made it's way directly to the film's director. Kudos to Abrams for making a dying man's dream come true. A truly heatwarming Hollywood tale...

January 3, 2013

The Bottom 10: Worst Movies of 2012

Hollywood is in full on awards season mode as they roll out the contenders for this year's Academy Awards. After seeing ZERO DARK THIRTY, I think it's clearly got the lock on Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay. Yes--it's that good. But what about the bad movies of the last year? Well, these days with the proliferation of online critics, there are plenty of lists to choose from when looking for the Worst Movies of 2012.

CNN has a bottom 10 that has two Chris Pine movies (bad year for him) but also THE HOBBIT too (which people seem to love or hate). Moviephone has Tyler Perry's action misfire leading the list as well as TOTAL RECALL, which seems to be a bad-list regular.  GQ's list also includes TOTAL RECALL and the big budget disaster JOHN CARTER. Over at HitFlix, they thought 2012 was such a bad year that they came up with 20 films for their worst list---I hadn't even heard of PIRANHA 3DD but I'm somewhat intrigued (maybe because it stars one of my Kinda Cute dudes, Matt Bush). And the AV Club list features big budget, star-crossed films like HYDE PARK and THE PAPERBOY

As for me, I don't have a personal bad list as I tend to smell a bad movie a mile away (ie. Tyler Perry as a shotgun wielding detective formerly played by Morgan Freeman!). But I do have a de facto worst movie because I saw the trailer so many times I feel like I saw the whole horrendous movie; THE WORDS (starring Bradley Cooper). It was painful seeing this trailer once, but after the 7th time?  I don't know if anyone saw this film but it was on CNN's list which made me feel good.