April 28, 2014

A Live TV Version Of GREASE On Fox in 2015

In TV and movies, success always inspires imitation. So after the smashing return of live musicals to television with NBC's SOUND OF MUSIC last December, now other networks are getting in on the game. 

EW reports today that Fox is going to do a 3-hour live version of the classic 50s musical. The film version's John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John have always been the Danny/Sandy combo to beat. So it will be interesting what sort of casting craziness they try to spark some similar chemistry. 

Already, some suggestions out there in the Twitter-verse are Zac Efron and Taylor Swift. While that sounds good on paper, there might be that problem of acting which caused a lot of critical concern with the theatrical novice Carrie Underwood "playing" Maria in SOUND OF MUSIC. But then again, it's live TV so it's really all about the number of eyeballs they can get to the sets for a show that everyone knows backwards and forwards. Let the casting games begin!

April 23, 2014

Day And Date (And Festival) Release For Joss Whedon's IN YOUR EYES

As the film world continues to go digital, a new model of getting films out to the public has taken off this year. In recent years, so-called day-and-date releases where a feature would be made available on all platforms theatrical, VOD, download, on the same day was becoming popular and increasingly successful.

Now the latest twist in this happened on Monday when a new Joss Whedon's feature IN YOUR EYES (which he co-wrote and produced) opened at the Tribeca Film Festival while, on the same day, was made available on Vimeo as a digital download for $5. The release was a bit of a surprise, promoting many to compare it to Beyonce's recent out-of-the-blue album drop on iTunes.

As strange as it may seem to drop a movie out there with no advance warning, it's a model that makes some sense in that when a film is riding a wave of reviews and press coverage at a festival, it's the prime time to make the film available to the public at large who is reading about it everywhere. Netflix realized thiswhen they released the documentary MITT a week after its Sundance premiere. And, when you're Joss Whedon, with a sizable social-media footprint and devoted fan base (me included!), that helps spread the insta-word rather quickly too.

Here's the preview of the film below...
In Your Eyes - Trailer from Bellwether Pictures on Vimeo.

April 14, 2014

Breaking Down The Title Sequence For MAD MEN

The Washington Post did a fun video breakdown of the title sequence of MAD MEN, as it started its 7th and final season last night. This was part of a longer story in the Arts section about how, in the current golden age of television, it's also a golden age for title sequences as well.

The iconic MAD MEN opening started with an idea by creator Matthew Weiner that was originally going to be live action and not animation. It would have followed the real life Don Draper on his daily commute from the 'burbs and into Manhattan, up to his office where he would then proceed to jump out the window. The falling-man element stayed but the rest became much more impressionistic while still making clear the 1960s setting (utilizing period snapshots) and the advertising milieu (with large ads projected on the buildings).

A great deal of thought and production goes into these 1-2 minute segments that become essential for setting the tone of the show and also branding the content too. The article states how in these days of DVR-ing people rarely fast-forward through them, appreciating the effort and artistry of the titles. In addition to MAD MEN, I personally love the time lapses of DC that start each episode of HOSUE OF CARDS on an ominous note. Anyway, here's the segment below from PostTV which breaks down MAD MEN.

April 7, 2014

An Oral History of HEATHERS...and HEATHERS 2

On March 31, 1989, New World Features released their last film before going out of business, a dark high school comedy called HEATHERS. It only grossed a little over a million and was considered a flop. Until, that is, home video made it a high school cult classic with some very quotable lines. I didn't wait for home video and saw it that April in DC (at the Outer Circle) and it blew my mind. Even more exciting was that a friend I'd done summer theatre with was in the film with a couple lines too!

In honor of HEATHERS 25th anniversary, and the recent opening of the HEATHERS musical off-Broadway, Entertainment Weekly has put together a highly entertaining oral history about the making of HEATHERS.  Winona Ryder sounds somewhat obsessed with the film, stating she's seen it over 50 times and always watches til the end if she catches it on TV. And to think that her role could've gone to Jennifer Connelly or Justine Bateman, both of whom turned the part down before it was given to Winona.

There's also some great details here about an idea for a sequel to HEATHERS that writer Daniel Waters was toying with in which Winona's character ends up in Washington working for a "Senator Heather" (played by Meryl Streep!) and goes on to assassinate the president. It almost sounds like a very special episode of HOUSE OF CARDS!