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- 11/19/15--05:30: 79 interesting facts about Pixar
- 11/19/15--09:36: Your guide to the new slate of Amazon Studios pilots
- Picked up in the Upper West Side census tracts between West 70th and West 74th streets
- Dropped off in the downtown tract containing the Wall Street 2/3 subway stop
- Picked up on a weekday morning between 9:20 and 10:20 AM
- 11/19/15--12:45: Adele's new record '25' won't be on Spotify
- 11/19/15--13:28: Khloe Kardashian goes on an epic Twitter rant about Lamar Odom
- 11/19/15--14:54: MTV's 'Decoded' tackles the ugly truth about Thanksgiving
- 11/19/15--15:04: 'Best Show' host says Google stole a fake song for a Chromebook ad
- 11/20/15--06:00: The disturbing commodification of Kurt Cobain's home recordings
- 11/20/15--10:42: On-duty cop fired after ill-timed cameo with death-metal band
- 11/20/15--14:03: Rob Schneider returns with a new Netflix series
- 11/20/15--07:47: Adele shocks her impersonators at Adele lookalike contest
- 11/20/15--17:10: Tyga commemorates Kylie Jenner breakup with tell-all rap single
- "Now you're telling me all I get is jealous?"
- "Happy birthday bitch—you look surprised."
- "Think I'm worried about a rumor?"
- "Think I'm worried about a scandal? You put me on every channel."
- "These hoes on my dick."
- "Young Halle Berrys in my living room."
- "All the hoes invited [to the high-end birthday party my girlfriend will not be attending]."
On The Late Late Show Wednesday night, the duo belted out some of Bieber’s new music and his biggest hits, and after seeing how Corden dug his look, Bieber decided to take him shopping for some new clothes and help boost his confidence—and this trip included an experience with the paparazzi.
Once things settled down, they sang one of his favorite songs—Alanis Morissette's “Ironic”—and chatted about how he felt after the paparazzi photos of his penis were posted online. He can laugh about it now, but at the time, he felt it was invasive. He also revealed his biggest worry about the photo.
And how else can you follow up that conversation other than belting out some new Bieber?Screengrab via The Late Late Show with James Corden/YouTube
It's hard to believe that it's been 20 years since Pixar's first full-length film, Toy Story. In the last two decades, the animation studio has ingrained itself in the cultural conscious of a completely new generation. If you were in first grade when you saw the film in theaters in 1995, you'll likely hit 30 by the timeToy Story 4 hits theaters in 2018. Likewise, many of the elementary schoolers who marveled at Finding Nemo (2003) will be finished with college by the time the film's sequel, Finding Dory, hits theaters in 2016.
Pixar's secret to long-term success may be the nostalgia-factor its films carry. But the company's onslaught of forgettable sequels in the late-aughts (how many people saw Cars 2? Or Monster's University?) have left some wary. With the release of Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur, 2015 is the first year that Pixar released two films. The first film saw critical success; the latter ran into more production obstacles than any other Pixar film in recent memory, resulting in the delay of its release by a year.
While Pixar's future may be uncertain, one thing is clear: Pixar's gone through a lot since it was originally dreamt up as a computer hardware store by George Lucas.
In honor of its 20th anniversary in movie theaters, here are 79 interesting facts about Pixar in chronological order:1) Pixar was formed in 1979 as the computer graphics division of Lucasfilm. 2) Known simply as "The Computer Graphics Division," Pixar in its early days produced computer animation sequences for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983), and Young Sherlock Holmes (1985).
3) Pixar initially sold high-end computer imaging software and hardware such as the Pixar Image Computer. Founding Pixar member John Lasseter told Rotten Tomatoes he was one of only four animators when he joined the company in 1983. His main job was directing shorts that would demonstrate the hardware's capabilities.
4)The Adventures of André and Wally B., Pixar's first animated short, was produced in 1984. The plot is simple; an android named André gets chased around a forest by a rather persistent bee.
5) The android in The Adventures of André and Wally B. was named after a character in the 1981 movie My Dinner with André, in which actors Wallace Shawn and André Gregory play themselves sharing an evening meal. The movie was a favorite of many of the animators.
6) Steve Jobs bought Pixar for $5 million on Feb. 3, 1986. That's the equivalent of roughly$10.7 million in 2015.
7) Pixar lost a lot of money in its first years after being acquired by Jobs, according to The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company, by David A. Price. "For the first 10 years we lost a lot of Steve's money. A lot of Steve's money," Pixar animator John Lasseter was quoted as saying in the book.
8) The 1986 Pixar short film Luxo Jr. was a defining film for the company in many ways. The plot involves a young, energetic lamp that struggles to play with a ball as an older lamp looks on. It was the first Pixar and first CGI film to be nominated for an Academy Award, in the category of Best Animated Short.
9) The smaller lamp, Luxo Jr., went on to become a permanent part of Pixar's logo after the release of Toy Story in 1995. Since their creation, Luxo Jr. and Sr. have made several cameos in Pixar's feature films and shorts. A red version of Luxo Sr. can be seen on Andy's desk in all three Toy Story films, including the 1996 Toy Story Treats shorts.
10) Luxo Jr. and the trash-collecting robot WALL-E interact for the first time in a teaser trailer for the 2008 film. Luxo Jr's bulb goes out, and WALL-E rolls in to replace it.
11) Pixar signed a three-film contract with Disney back in 1991, according to the New York Times. The deal would entitle Pixar to only 10 to 15 percent of the profits from the movies. The first film made as a result of the contract was Toy Story (1995).
12) Woody in Toy Story was originally supposed to be a talking ventriloquist's dummy. According to the Verge, then-CEO of Disney Michael Eisner found dummies to be "creepy," so the character was changed to the talking cowboy doll we are all familiar with today.
13) Actor Tom Hanks, who provides the voice for Woody in the Toy Story series, got the part because of one scene, according to the Verge. In the 1989 comedy Turner and Hooch, Hanks plays a detective who relies on the dog of a murdered man to help trace the killer. After Hooch chews up Turner's car seat, Turner scolds him in a hilarious scene that impressed Pixar's animators.
14) The first Toy Story film was the first full-length feature film to be made entirely using CGI. It had a production budget of only $30 million, less than half of that of Disney's Lion King (1994), which cost $79.3 million.
15) Toy Story made $29.1 million its opening weekend, almost earning back its full production budget. It went on to become the highest-grossing film that year. The film's epic opening weekend beat out Titanic (1997), which grossed only $28.6 million.
16) One popular Toy Story fan theory concludes that Emily, the little girl who owned the Jesse cowgirl doll in Toy Story 2 (1999), is actually Andy's mother.
17) Toy Story 2 was originally going to be a straight-to-video sequel, according to co-director Ash Brannon:
"When we started the film in 1996, the thing to do was to make a direct-to-video sequel. That's the way Disney did it and we follow suit. Nobody was making animated theatrical sequels (with rare exceptions including the sequel to American Tail ). So that was what we did, but we knew we had a great story."
18) Toy Story has two references to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. One is that Buzz Lightyear's mission is similar to that of R2D2's. Both have important information in their possession about weaknesses in a dangerous weapon that they must get to a higher authority.
19) The other reference to A New Hope is seen when Sid is torturing Woody; the lines are the same ones uttered by Darth Vader as he interrogates Princess Leia.
20)Toy Story 2 (1999) got deleted after someone accidentally ran the wrong function on the drive where all the files were kept. The film was saved after a member of the Pixar team (who was also a mother) revealed that she kept a back-up copy of the film to work on at home.
22) The character of Sid Phillips, the vicious toy-destroying bully in Toy Story, is said to be inspired by a former Pixar employee of the same name, according to Disney Voice Actors: A Biographical Dictionary by Thomas S. Hischak. The Pixar employee, who no longer worked there at the time of the film's making, was known to disassemble toys and use the parts to build bizarre creations.
23) The carpet in Sid's house has the same hexagonal pattern as the carpet in the hotel from 1980 horror film The Shining.
24) Toy Story 3 is the highest grossing film in the Toy Story franchise and is the third highest grossing family film of all time. Despite this, the third film is the only Toy Story film to receive a less-than perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes (earning a 99 percent approval instead).
25) In A Bug's Life (1998) you can see a couple of references to Pizza Planet, the restaurant in Toy Story. A Pizza Planet truck appears next to a mobile home, and a Pizza Planet drink cup is on the restaurant can in Bug City.
26)A Bug's Life used almost 10 times the computing power that Toy Story required. Each frame of the film took 17 hours to fully render.
27) Even though Pixar had been working on A Bug's Life for much longer, Dreamworks released Antz (1998) a month before the former film's release. It was suspected that Dreamworks head Jeffrey Katzenberg encouraged animators to work longer hours to beat Pixar.
28) A Bug's Life is the second time Denis Leary and Kevin Spacey have played in a film together. The first was in The Ref (1994).
29) Dreamworks' Katzenberg offered to hold on the production of Antz if Pixar would change the release date of A Bug's Life, according toBusinessweek. The Pixar film was scheduled to be released in the same month as The Prince of Egypt, Dreamwork's first animated feature. Pixar refused.
30) There are at least 100 different races of monsters in Monsters, Inc. (2001).
31) Actor Billy Crystal got the role of Mike in Monsters, Inc. after refusing to voice the part of Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story. Crystal said he had regrets about not saying yes to that first role.
32) Ninety percent of the monsters in Monster's, Inc. have Mike's tongue.
33) Andrew Stanton, the creator of Finding Nemo (2003), pitched the idea in an exhausting, hour-long session to Pixar head John Lasseter, during which he used elaborate visual aids and character voices. After he finished, Lasseter replied, "You had me at 'fish.'"
34) Stanton also provided the voice for Crush the sea turtle, which he told USA Today he based off of retired surfers living in Hawaii. He had read that sea turtles could live up to 200 years, and they've been known to migrate from Hawaii to Australia.
35) The production crew of Finding Nemo were all required to visit aquariums, go diving in Hawaii and Monterey, participate in study sessions in front of Pixar's own 25-gallon fish tank, and listen to in-house lectures from an ichthyologist.
36) Sales of Ocellaris Clownfish jumped by 25 percent after Finding Nemo's release, according to National Geographic.
37) William H. Macy originally recorded the voice for Marlin in Finding Nemo. Stanton realized it wasn't working, and Macy was replaced by Albert Brooks.
38) Likewise, Megan Mullally was originally cast as Dory because Pixar producers liked her role in Will and Grace. Mullally didn't want to replicate the voice she was famous for in the popular television series, so she was eventually let go. Mullally was then replaced by Ellen Degeneres.
39) Dory Lane and Marlin Drive are both intersecting streets in the Bay area suburb of Redwood City, close to Pixar headquarters.
40) The voices behind Nemo (Alexander Gould), Marlin (Albert Brooks), and Coral (Elizabeth Perkins) are also actors in the Showtime series Weeds.41) Following its release in 2003, Finding Nemo became the highest-grossing animated film in North America and the first film to out-gross The Lion King (1994) in nearly a decade.
42) According to the Associated Press, a plumbing company released a warning against flushing your fish down the toilet to set your fish "free," an event that happens in Finding Nemo. "In truth, no one would ever find Nemo and the movie would be called Grinding Nemo," wrote the company.
43) Brad Bird, the director of The Incredibles (2004), based the script off of his own experience balancing work and family.
44) Bird's son, Nicholas Bird, provided the voice for Squirt, the young sea turtle, in a prior Pixar film, Finding Nemo.
45)The Incredibles became the first Pixar film to feature an entirely human cast of characters.
46) Samuel L. Jackson was cast as the character of Frozone in The Incredibles because director Brad Bird wanted him to have the coolest voice.
47) Holly Hunter, who depicted Elastigirl, insisted on learning military flight lingo and its meaning for her role in The Incredibles.48) The character of Edna, the superhero costume designer in The Incredibles, is based off of Academy Award-winning Hollywood fashion designer Edith Head. Head costumed many of the most iconic Hollywood starlets during her career, including Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Jane Fonda, and Kim Novak.
49) Frozone's speed skating scene in The Incredibles mimics Olympic Gold medalist Shani Davis. Davis said jokingly in a Dutch radio program that he was upset over not getting paid for his contribution to the film. He said, "Yeah it's me, who else swings his arms like that!"
50)The Incredibles is the first Pixar film to earn a PG-rating by the MPAA. Oddly enough, it's also the first Pixar film to have a nuclear family stay intact throughout the entire movie.
51) In preparation for Ratatouille (2007), director Brad Bird interned at Chef Thomas Keller's famous French Laundry, a Michelin three-star restaurant in Yountville, California.
52) Pet rats were kept at Pixar for a year so animators could study their movements for Ratatouille.
53) Ratatouille broke the record for the biggest debut for an animated film in France, where the film is set.
54) Chef Anthony Bourdain told Michael Ruhlman that Ratatouille was simply "best food movie ever made." Bourdain said the "tiny details" in the film, such as the burn marks on the chef's wrists, were "astonishing."
55) To save time during the animation of Ratatouille, the human characters were animated without toes.
56) Bird asked a female animator to work on the the character of Colette in Ratatouille. "We gave the character of the female chef, Colette, to a female animator because she would relate to what it is like to be a woman in a male-dominated industry," Bird told the Daily Telegraph.57) The wine ordered by Antone Ego, the villainous food critic in Ratatouille, is a real wine and would be more than $2,000 if ordered at a restaurant in the States.
58) Ratatouille ran into issues with marketing tie-ins because no food companies wanted to be associated with a rat, according to Time.
60) Charlie Muntz, the villain in Up (2009) , is named after a Universal Pictures executive who in 1928 stole the production rights to Walt Disney's "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit" cartoon series.
61) When Carl and Ellie go picnicking in Up, they choose the same tree seen in A Bug's Life.
62)Up was both the first animated and first 3D film to open in the Cannes Film Festival.
63) The character of Russell in Up is the first Japanese-American character in a Pixar film to be voiced by an actual Asian-American Actor, Jordan Nagai.
64)Up is the first Pixar film to be nominated for the Best Picture category in the Academy Awards. It is also the second animated film to be nominated in that category; the first was Beauty and the Beast (1991).
65) The only remnants of Earth as we know it in WALL-E (2008) are cockroaches and Twinkies.
66) The meaning of WALL-E, the trash-collecting robot who is the main protagonist of WALL-E, is literal. WALL-E stands for: Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth class.
67) EVE, who is WALL-E's love interest in the film, stands for: Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator.
68) All robots in WALL-E follow Issac Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics":
1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2) A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the first law.
3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second laws.
69) When Director Pete Docter first pitched the idea for Inside Out to Pixar's John Lasseter, he said, "Imagine the fun we're gonna have when it comes to casting. We could get people like Lewis Black as Anger!" Lewis Black indeed plays Anger in the film.
70) The writers considered up to 27 different emotions to be featured in Inside Out. Some of the emotions that got the axe include Surprise and Trust.
71) Director Pete Docter said he got the inspiration for Inside Out from watching his daughter age through adolescence, according to the Washington Post.
72) A drawing of Bing-Bong by the 7-year old daughter of Inside Out's director of photography, Kim White, ended up in the film.
73) Much like Riley, the protagonist in Inside Out, Docter was a Minnesota-to-California transplant, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune.74) Inside Out only used 45 animators, which is about half the amount of other Pixar films.
75) The emotions "Disgust" and "Sadness" in Inside Out are depicted by actresses Mindy Kaling and Phyllis Smith, who also starred together in the television series The Office.
76) Most child psychiatrists applauded the nuanced depiction of adolescent emotions in Inside Out. "You can be angry and sad at the same time. You can be happy and afraid. These emotions are very difficult for kids to understand," one psychiatrist said to Newsweek.
77)The Good Dinosaur had many production issues that led to its release date being moved from May 2015 to November 2015, according to the Guardian. Due to the delays, Pixar laid off 60 of its employees in its Emeryville, California, headquarters.
76) Finding Dory, Pixar's sequel to Finding Nemo, was originally supposed to come in November 2015. Since the scheduling for The Good Dinosaur's release was pushed back, so was the release of Finding Dory.77) Dory is the most-liked Pixar character on Facebook, surpassing 25 million likes. She has more likes than Nemo, who has 22 million.
78) The setting of Finding Dory was changed from an aquatic park to a marine biology institute after the Pixar crew saw the 2013 documentary Blackfish.
79)Sanjay's Super Team, a Pixar short that will be screened along with The Good Dinosaur in theaters, is the first film by the studio to feature an Indian protagonist and to be directed by an Indian-American director, Sanjay Patel.
Photo via Disney Pixar/Twitter
President Barack Obama’s GQ interview with Bill Simmons mixed sports, politics, and pop culture in a delightful way, but political junkie and giant nerd Stephen Colbert took issue with one part of their conversation.
Toward the end of the interview, Obama discussed his guilt-pleasure TV show Big Break—Simmons told him he couldn’t name Game of Thrones as a guilty pleasure—but he soon swung back to the hit HBO drama anyway. He revealed that, while he reads episode reviews just like the rest of us, he didn't know the names of any of the characters. (For what it’s worth, neither did Simmons.)
So you watch it on the treadmill or something?
Yeah, when I’m working out sometimes late at night. I never see all the episodes, but if they’ve got some chipping contest or something… [laughs] It’s pretty lame. I do love Game of Thrones.
Which character do you identify with?
My favorite character is probably…the dwarf, what’s his name?
Oh, yeah. Peter Dinklage’s character.
The problem with Game of Thrones, though, is that I don’t remember the names of any of the characters.
I don’t, either.
I remember the characters, so when I watch it, I know exactly what’s going on. But if you read a review of the show afterwards and they’re mentioning such and such, the only one I remember is Jon Snow, because I can pronounce Jon Snow.
In response, Colbert dropped some Westerosi political knowledge on the president. How, Colbert wondered, can Obama be president if he can’t tell the difference between Tyrion Lannister and Jorah Mormont (even more so once they’re in the same scene together)? And how does he have trouble pronouncing difficult names when his own name compares to the rest of them?Considering that there are characters named Hizdahr zo Loraq, Jaqen Highar, Illyrio Mopatis, and Xaro Xhoan Daxos—not to mention Daenerys Targaryen’s entire family—we don’t really blame Obama.
Screengrab via The Late Show with Stephen Colbert/YouTube
What’s it about?
A Western based on the series of books by George G. Gilman, which has been dubbed “the most violent western in print.” Josiah “Edge” Hedges (Pacific Rim’s Max Martini) is a former Union soldier who sets out on a campaign of vengeance after being betrayed by those he trusted. But his personal brand of justice may put him at odds with very powerful men.
Who’s in it?
In addition to Martini, the cast includes both Chuck’s Yvonne Strahovski and True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten.
Why should you care?
Two words: Shane Black. Over the years he’s given us flicks such as Iron Man 3, Lethal Weapon, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang—and he’d still be one of my favorite screenwriters even if that last title were the only thing he’d ever done. Edge reteams him with someone from his earliest days in the industry: Fred Dekker, with whom Black collaborated on the ’80s cult classic Monster Squad waaaay back in the day. Black and Dekker (holy shit, that should be their production company if it isn’t already) adapted and developed Edge from Gilman’s books, tag-teaming the script with Black in the director’s chair. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang permanently ensured that anything Black makes goes straight to the top of my must-see list, and the prospect of his unique style and voice being filtered through the lens of a hyperviolent Western is incredibly exciting. And obviously Black and Dekker enjoyed their reunion: They’re also working on a new Predator film together.
2) Good Girls Revolt
What’s it about?
Set in 1969, Good Girls Revolt follows a group of female researchers for News of the Week who demand fair treatment, a request that “sparks convulsive changes and upends marriages, careers, sex lives, love lives, and friendships.”
Who’s in it?
Why should you care?
With Mad Men having departed in a cloud of cigarette smoke, we could use another intriguing period drama to fill the void in our souls.
It’s based on a real-life 1970 case in which 46 women sued Newsweek for sexual discrimination. Author/reporter Lynn Povich was one of those women, and she eventually chronicled her story in the 2012 book The Good Girls Revolt. With Mad Men having departed in a cloud of cigarette smoke, we could use another intriguing period drama to fill the void in our souls, and creator Dana Calvo is a proven TV vet who’s worked on shows ranging from Netflix’s Narcos to Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip to the underrated time travel series Journeyman. In this era of so-called “men’s rights activists” and the ongoing “war on women,” Good Girls Revolt’s subject matter is sadly no less timely today than when the real events unfolded, so there should be plenty of potent and relevant drama for the series to mine. Come for the fashions; stay for the social commentary.
What’s it about?
It’s a coming-of-age tale about 19-year-old Highston Liggetts, the sort of sweet-natured guy who interviews for a job at a collection agency but ends up offering to send his money to help with his sick wife. Highston still lives with his parents and enjoys spending time with his friends. The only problem is, his friends are all famous people, but he’s the only one that can see or hear him. Cue the therapy and cameos...
Who’s in it?
Newcomer Lewis Pullman plays Highston, but he’s backed up by TV veterans Mary Lynn Rajskub (24) and Chris Parnell (SNL) as his well-intentioned parents. Curtis Armstrong of Revenge of the Nerds fame plays Highston’s abrasive uncle who insists Highston doesn’t need any help. A big part of the show (if it goes forward) will be the celebrity cameos on which the schtick hinges, and the pilot enlists the services of basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Why should you care?
Highston was written by Bob Nelson, who earned an Oscar nomination for 2013’s Nebraska, and directed by the Little Miss Sunshine team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. Borat himself—actor/comedian Sacha Baron Cohen—serves as an executive producer. Highston has an endearing innocence to it that’s reminiscent of My Name Is Earl, and I can see it having a good long run if it gets picked up. The concept really hinges on getting entertaining celebrity appearances and letting the writers have fun with those personalities, so it’ll be interesting to see who they line up if Highston does go to series.
4) One Mississippi
What’s it about?
Comedian Tig Notaro (playing a fictionalized version of herself), returns to her hometown in Mississippi to prepare for the impending death of her mother, during which she must deal with her relatives, her own health problems, and the looming loss of “the one person who actually understood her.”
Who’s in it?
Tig herself is the main attraction, but the cast also includes Noah Harpster (Transparent), John Rothman (The Devil Wears Prada), and Casey Wilson (Gone Girl) in the role of Tig’s girlfriend.
Why should you care?
Tig has justifiably become a major name in the comedy world in the aftermath of her legendary performance at Largo on Aug. 3, 2012. Taking the stage only days after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Notaro delivered a set that was hilarious, heartbreaking, and intensely personal, and which captured the attention of many, including comedian Louis C.K., who released a recording of her Largo set on his website and who serves as executive producer on One Mississippi. Notaro co-wrote the pilot with Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult). Like the best of Notaro’s material, One Mississippi is intensely personal and both funny and terribly sad, often at the same time. If it leaves you wanting more, we recommend also checking out the excellent documentary Tig on Netflix Instant.
What’s it about?
“N.O.C. is short for “non-official cover,” explains the opening title card of Patriot. “With limited governmental protection, N.O.C. agents assume a great degree of risk.” John Tavner (Michael Dorman) takes on just such an assignment, embedding himself in a Midwestern industrial piping firm as part of a mission to interfere with Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Unfortunately, he’s got more than just the Iranians to deal with: His struggles with PTSD, family drama, and the incompetence of his own government may prove to be just as challenging.
Who’s in it?
Lead Michael Dorman hasn’t really had a breakout role yet, but the rest of the cast includes some serious heavy hitters and veteran character actors, including Kurtwood Smith (RoboCop), Terry O’Quinn (Lost), Gil Bellows (The Shawshank Redemption), and Julian Richings (Death from Supernatural, among other things).
Why should you care?
From a quick glance at the Amazon page for Patriot, you’d assume it’s a straight-up intelligence thriller. Intriguingly, however, but it mixes the Jack Ryan stuff with a streak of black comedy and absurdism that puts it tonally closer to FX’s Fargo than Showtime’s Homeland. I mean, the lead is trying to foil Iran’s nuclear plans while working as a mid-level pencil-pusher in a piping firm. He channels his struggles with PTSD into folk songs and enjoys riding mechanical bulls. That bizarre chimeral nature can likely be tied directly to writer/director Steve Conrad, who previously wrote Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Will Smith’s The Pursuit of Happyness, and the 2005 Nic Cage flick The Weather Man. It’s a deeply weird beast, one that should easily be the most divisive of this Amazon pilot season crop.
What’s it about?
The early life of Zelda Sayre: flapper, writer, feminist icon, and eventual muse for one F. Scott Fitzgerald. But the spotlight is very much on Zelda as she heads into the Roaring ’20s, a decade she would help define.
Who’s in it?
Christina Ricci plays the lead, a Southern girl railing against the restrictions of both her society and her proper conservative parents. Gavin Stenhouse plays “Scott” and David Strathairn plays Zelda’s tut-tutting dad, but this is very much Ricci’s show.
Why should you care?
Z runs only a half-hour, which is unusual and strangely jarring for a drama, but certainly makes it easily digestible.
Outside of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, the 1920s isn’t a decade that’s been extensively mined in the modern TV landscape, and it would be interesting to see the years between the wars explored from a different perspective. The Fitzgeralds are also fascinating characters well capable of anchoring a series. The pilot was directed by Tim Blake Nelson, based on Therese Anne Fowler’s 2013 novel Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald. Z also runs only a half-hour, which is unusual and strangely jarring for a drama, but certainly makes it easily digestible.
Screengrab via Z/Amazon
The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission recently released a ton of data representing "over 1.1 billion individual taxi trips in the city from January 2009 through June 2015," and developer Todd W. Schneider is using it for the most important cause possible: figuring out if Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson would have been able to drive across town in time to diffuse a bomb in Die Hard: With a Vengeance.
If you haven't seen the movie, Willis and Jackson find out they have 30 minutes to get from 72nd Street and Broadway to the Wall Street 2/3 subway station during rush hour in order to stop a terrorist attack. They drive a taxi through Central Park, and barely get there in time.
Schneider crunched the numbers to see how feasible completing that drive actually is:
McClane and Carver leave the Upper West Side at 9:50 AM, so I took all taxi rides that:
And made a histogram of travel times:
In the data, more than half of all cabs were able to complete similar rides in under 30 minutes, meaning that Willis and Jackson would have definitely been pressed for time on their ride, but also would have been fairly likely to arrive at their destination with enough time to save the day.
Schneider's final ruling?
Now, our heroes might need a few minutes to commandeer a cab and get down to the subway platform on foot, so if we allot 3 minutes for those tasks and 27 minutes for driving, then only 39% of trips make it in 27 minutes or less. Still, in the movie they make it seem like a herculean task with almost zero probability of success, when in reality it’s just about average. This seems to be the rare action movie sequence which is actually easier to recreate in real life than in the movies!
You live, you learn.H/T Gizmodo | Screengrab via Moviespawn/YouTube
According to the New York Times, "three people with direct knowledge of the plans for the release" have confirmed that the album will only be available for purchase Friday, with no plan for it to be made available for streaming. This news comes almost exactly a year after Taylor Swift famously pulled her catalog from the streaming service, and just days after 25 prematurely leaked online, though no rep from Adele's team has commented on the situation yet.
The lead single, "Hello," is still currently available to stream as of now:Though there's no word as to whether it will be taken down once the entire album is released Friday. H/T New York Times | Screengrab via Adele/Instagram
Look out, Kardashian stans.
It's been a rough few weeks for reality star Khloe Kardashian. First, her estranged husband Lamar Odom was found unconscious in a Nevada brothel last month and she put their divorce proceedings on hold to make medical decisions on his behalf. Then, she contracted a staph infection after spending so much time at his bedside in the hospital.
It all started with an innocent tweet about watching Harden's team play:But quickly escalated when fans started to reply: Ever the seasoned media figure, Kardashian quickly put a cork in it, blaming her remarks on the cocktail of medications she's taking for her infection.
Whether she was of sound mind or not, one thing's clear: Don't mess with Khloe on Twitter.
MTV's Franchesca Ramsey serves up some Thanksgiving truth just in time for the annual celebration of pillaging and murder.
Decoded, which deals with issues of race for the digital set, tackles turkey day in its latest episode. With her fictional family gathered around the dinner table, Ramsey tears down American history and dishes up the reality behind the myths, from debunking the Native American and settler relations to explaining why the food we eat isn't actually what the pilgrims consumed. Did you know Abraham Lincoln had a hand in the holiday? Didn't think so.In addition to her digital duties for the Decoded webseries, Ramsey is now also a correspondent for Comedy Central's The Nightly Show, tackling topics like the GOP candidate pool.
Screengrab via MTV News/YouTube.
In a series of tweets, Scharpling accused Google of lifting a song referenced on the show, "Come On Y'all It's Time to Have Fun," and using it in a new Chromebook ad.Scharpling has long referenced the song on the show, mostly as a recurring joke about what the most bland, insipid commercial jingle/club hit would sound like—something that has now apparently been turned into a real commercial jingle. Best Show contributor Jake Fogelnest tweeted an audio clip from 2013, and Friends of Tom (as Best Show fans are called) have pointed out other moments when the song was joked about.
Is someone at Google secretly a FoT? Is this a very meta joke? Reached for comment, Scharpling told the Daily Dot that he has not yet received a response from Google, but sent along this statement:
When I hear elements of The Best Show in other comedy I'm usually flattered, because there are certainly elements of other comedy and comedians in The Best Show. But this is not a matter of influence or parallel thinking. This is a case of straight up thievery.The song was fleshed out by Nick Thorburn from the band Islands in January 2013, and fans even made a ringtone out of it.
Google is a terrible company whose crimes against humanity are legion. And shamelessly ripping off content from a radio show that I have written and performed for free over the last fifteen years is merely their latest shameful act.
I will be pursuing this matter to the fullest extent of the law. Future updates and new episodes of The Best Show will be posted at www.TheBestShow.net.
The good guys will win in the end!
We've reached out to Google for comment.
H/T Pitchfork | Photo by Mindy Tucker
After debuting his incredible Jindal impression just over two weeks ago, Aziz Ansari returned to The Tonight Show on Thursday to show Jimmy Fallon just how the Louisiana governor is holding up after ending his campaign—or, as he puts it, suspending it like Han Solo in carbonite. And "Jindal," for one, was still thrilled that Fallon actually meant to talk to him (maybe other hosts called him by accident trying to reach Donald Trump?).
"Jindal" has plenty of plans to keep him busy. He has a cringeworthy Fox News show in the works and is doing some high-concept nude self-portraits after a former president got him into oil painting. Running Louisiana might be a good idea, too.Screengrab via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube
Lip Sync Battle is ringing in the holiday season by pitting two of the stars of The Night Before against each other in the ancient battle of lip-syncing. With a group of backup lip-syncing dancers behind them, Mackie dons M.C. Hammer’s white suit for “2 Legit 2 Quit,” while Gordon-Levitt has the ponytail and patrol to channel Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation.” It’s as great as you think it is.
And while they both put on a good show, Seth Rogen, who’s decked out on the side as the Elf on the Shelf for most of the show, might just sneak in as the surprise winner. There’s no way he’s doing that sober, right?Screengrab via Lip Sync Battle on Spike/YouTube
Brett Morgen’s Kurt Cobain documentary Montage of Heck is, at its foundation, an audio document. The soundtrack comprises home recordings Cobain produced in the late ’80s while living in Olympia, Wash., some of which would later go on to provide material for Nirvana.
With the newly released Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings, we get a look at the material Morgen was allegedly given access to by Cobain's widow Courtney Love in 2007. He found 108 cassettes in a storage unit and combed through more than 200 hours of material for the doc, and now the public can consume it on Spotify or as a 31-track box set, 12-inch/CD combo set, or 13-track CD, courtesy of Universal Music.
Yes, you’re right to feel icky about that echoing ca-ching.
Much of Montage of Heck feels a little too intimate: the home videos of Kurt and Courtney; Cobain nodding off while holding daughter Frances Bean. Cobain’s home recordings work in tandem with the animated sequences that inform many scenes in the doc. But removed from that context, it’s difficult to find enjoyment in these songs, in which Cobain is obviously trying to figure out melodies and structure and purpose. Much like the home videos, these were private endeavors that are now very public, repackaged for mass consumption nearly 30 years after being put to tape.
When we spoke after the SXSW debut of the film, Morgen underscored that he wanted the tapes to be heard; he believed fans needed to experience these sonic experiments, many of which did not end up in the film:
There was all this incredible spoken word and his audio autobiography of his youth. His cover of the Beatles’ ‘And I Love Her.’ Just this incredible stuff that really, to me, is what elevated the film, because Kurt was an artist first. And like all artists, he left behind this autobiography in this life. The fact that he worked in both visual and oral media meant it was one of the most complete visual and oral autobiographies.
The critical chorus has been loud: The Melvins’ Buzz Osborne called the doc “90% … bullshit” after it was released. Writer Chris Weingarten claimed the recordings did more harm than good. Chicago Tribune writer Greg Kot said of the album: “Most of it might fascinate for a listen or two, but presenting this as new work at top-end retail prices is the type of barrel-scraping exploitation that would’ve made the ever-wary Cobain retch.” Fans on Amazon aren’t happy either, calling Morgen out for exploiting Cobain’s legacy.Asked about the album back in May, Morgen told Bedford and Bowery it “will feel like you’re kind of hanging out with Kurt Cobain on a hot summer day in Olympia, Washington as he fiddles about. It’s going to really surprise people.” Before the album was released, Morgen ensured the New York Times that he wasn’t trying to exploit Cobain. He understands fans “would feel protective of him,” but he’s really inviting listeners to “sort of observe.” He added: “If you came across a sketch of ‘Guernica’ by Picasso, is there anyone saying we shouldn’t see it?”
But Picasso this is not. It’s hard to imagine an audience that would want to shell out anywhere from $17 to $130 (!) on tracks that are essentially works in progress, stop-start songs: During “Burn the Rain,” Cobain stops playing to answer the phone and take a message for his then-girlfriend, Tracy Marander, and then the tape cuts off. Opener “The Yodel Song” is a typical Nirvana chord progression with aimless yodeling over it. “Aberdeen,” which is used to great effect in the doc, is a spoken word account of Cobain’s first sexual experience and a subsequent suicide attempt, but one wonders if Cobain wanted anyone to hear it. Many of the tracks are just goofy audio experiments (“Montage of Kurt”) or the riffing of someone who’s obviously trying to entertain himself (“Beans”).
That doesn’t mean it will entertain you. This isn’t a focused or illuminating collection. A couple of the Montage of Heck tracks were floated online leading up to the release—Beatles cover “And I Love Her,” “Sappy,” and a demo of “Been a Son”—and each time, Cobain or Nirvana trended on Facebook, even though the mixtape has been floating around the Internet in some form for nearly a decade. The Web has a very short memory.
But this is part of the commodification of legacy, which the Internet’s short memory facilitates. Musicians and comedians are being brought back as holograms. TV shows are being rebooted at a frightening pace. Deluxe reissues of deceased musicians’ songs often outnumber the albums they put out while alive. The recent Amy Winehouse documentary, Amy, came out around the same time as Montage of Heck, and now a biopic is being discussed. As Pitchfork pointed out, the deification of Cobain and Winehouse is quite different:
If Amy proves anything about the life and times of Winehouse, it’s that newscasters, tabloids, and even respected media outlets reported on her shortcomings with enough thinly-veiled aggression to weaken what little resolve the drugs hadn’t already sapped. Cobain’s struggle with drugs, meanwhile, was all but an open secret while he was alive, whispered about or written around in order to maintain good graces and access to the superstar and his band.
This isn’t the first time the Nirvana/Cobain legacy has been reissued, branded, or exploited, and Morgen knows there are now two or three generations hungry for anything their idol created. “It doesn’t surprise me at all that his music transcended various generations,” Morgen told us in March. “He provides comfort through his music to people who feel alone. I think it will hopefully carry forth for several generations.”
The fans are important, sure, but there’s plenty of Nirvana material available online already. So what are we really getting for shelling out money for Cobain’s Petri dish? As Osborne said in his piece for Talkhouse, Cobain was a “master of jerking your chain.” Is the joke on us?
Illustration by Max Fleishman
In the middle of the first episode of The Man in the High Castle, we find protagonist Joe Blake in a bit of a nasty spot. His truck broke down, the passing cop who stops to help could also ruin his entire operation, and then something that looks like snow starts to fall. And then you realize what’s falling to the ground.
“Oh, it’s the hospital,” the cop says to Joe’s inquiry. “Yeah, on Tuesdays, they burn cripples, the terminally ill, drag on the state.” And without a second thought about it, he sends Joe off on his way.
It’s jarring to watch, but for these characters it’s also their reality.
The Man in the High Castle, Amazon Studios’s next big drama, is based on the alt-history science-fiction novel of the same name by Philip K. Dick that imagines what the world would be like if the Axis Powers—Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Italy—had won World War II. The U.S. is split up between Germany and Japan (with the Rocky Mountains serving as the Neutral Zone), who are in a kind of Cold War with each other—one that could crumble if an ailing Adolf Hitler dies. By 1962, which is when the series takes place, most people have more or less settled into this new world. But there is a resistance group with a powerful weapon: a film that shows newsreels from an alternate reality (different from our own) where the Allied Forces won the war.
“We’re trying to create real people living in that circumstance,” Joel de la Fuente—who plays Imperial Inspector Kido, a character created for the show—told reporters at New York Comic Con last month. “I think you have the chance to do something very interesting there, which is that 17 years have passed and people have moved on. Humans are humans, no matter what side you’re on.”
The fact that the show finally exists is a minor miracle.Dick’s world, in all of its complexities and gray areas, has come to life, and the fact that the show finally exists is a minor miracle. The Man in the High Castle started out as a planned four-part miniseries for BBC One before going to Syfy, where creator Frank Spotnitz, best known for his extensive work on The X-Files, was asked to work on it. He wrote the first two episodes, but the project was dead for two years until he was asked for a script by Amazon’s head of TV drama, Morgan Wandell—and to expand that four-part miniseries into 10 episodes.
Now Spotnitz (along with many members of the cast) says that this show would’ve never gotten made anywhere but Amazon. He and his staff have complete financial and creative freedom and all of the supplies they need—even with the subject matter at hand, something Spotnitz knew would likely offend people.
“I’ve tried to be as thoughtful as I can,” Spotnitz said. “This is a fiction show, but when you’re dealing with Nazism and the extermination of Jews and Blacks, people take this very personally. And I’m also aware that there are people out there who are going to be rooting for the wrong side in the show. It’s a tough balance, but I also wanna humanize these people because I think too often we look at the Nazis and go, ‘Oh those are the bad guys over there.’ In this show, the Nazis, most of them have American accents and you realize they weren’t all psychopaths. Most of them were normal people who got somehow persuaded to do really terrible things, and that makes us very uncomfortable.”Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, who plays Trade Minister Nobusuke Tagomi, was born in Tokyo. He moved to the U.S. when he was 5 and was largely raised on U.S. Army posts during a time when Japan’s role in World War II was still fresh on many people’s minds. This show allowed him to bring that unique perspective to the table.
“For an American to write a novel 17 years after the war—probably one of the most racist wars ever (and wars are racist anyway),” Tagawa said. “And he had the nerve, after the war, to bring forward an idea that they had won the war? My hat’s off to him.”
In order to prepare writing the series, Spotnitz turned to the book but he also enlisted the help of three historians to see how they thought how 1962 would look if Germany and Japan had won World War II. There are influences in that world-building, even from just the minor details: The signs lighting up Times Square reflect the fascist values of a Nazi Germany, which would’ve been about agriculture and industry, and the crew perverted such iconic landmarks as Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty, and the Golden Gate Bridge, which could easily be a punch to the gut for viewers.But the show is just as much about character-building as it is world-building. None of them are black and white, and while some of them may do some terrible things, viewers can see their motivations and driving forces.
“I think one of the things Frank has done that’s so successful is that all the main characters in the show—Nazi, the Imperial Japanese, anybody in the middle—everybody is motivated by love, genuinely,” de la Fuente said. “When you can think about it that way or that starts to manifest itself, you start to see yourself at certain times in all the different characters.”
“What a regime does that’s so smart is they take away the thing you love most,” said D.J. Qualls, who plays Ed McCarthy. “My character’s in a position toward the end of the season where this has happened to him, and he might as well be dead. And to realize what that meant and what it felt like put me into a place where I was a wreck.”The biggest difference between the book and the TV show is how The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is presented. In the novel it’s a book that you’re able to buy in certain parts of the country, but on the show it’s a film banned both by Germany and Japan. And there are different implications between having a book, which could’ve easily come from the Man in the High Castle’s imagination, and the physicality of a film. But despite this and other changes from the source material, the cast wants to assure book fans that the spirit and heart of Dick’s book is intact.
“[Philip K. Dick]’s daughter Isa Hackett is our executive producer,” Qualls said. “I feel like she’s such a guardian of her dad’s legacy that [it] makes me a guardian of her dad’s legacy. I feel like we have a responsibility to him.”
“We can all agree that we’re against Nazis, right? Now what’s the difference between us and Nazis?”
“For me, in developing Juliana [Crain], I wanted to be as true to the book as I could,” Alexa Davalos added. “Obviously in the script she’s different, and there’s pieces of her that are very different from the book. I of course was at first hands on my hips and like, ‘Wait a minute, she’s not like that in the book!’ … It was about finding a balance and introducing her and where we’re going.”
Dick’s novel only covers so much ground; most of it takes place in either Japanese-occupied San Francisco or the Neutral Zone, so some things like a Nazi-occupied New York was guesswork. But that’s just the U.S. In future seasons Spotnitz wants to expand this world and explore different countries to see what they’re like in this universe. He knows what happens to Juliana—who’s arguably the viewer’s way into this alternate world—but everything else is up in the air. But it all comes back down to that world perspective of the differences between us and the Nazis that’s so exciting for Spotnitz to explore.
“We can all agree that we’re against Nazis, right?” Spotnitz said. “Now what’s the difference between us and Nazis? That sounds like an obvious question, but there are scenes in the show where you’re gonna go, ‘I almost agree with that. I almost agree with what that guy’s saying but I don’t. Why not?’ And that’s exciting to me.”
All 10 episodes of The Man in the High Castle are available on Amazon Instant Video now.
Screengrab via Amazon Studios | Remix by Michelle Jaworski
With emotions running high following the Paris attacks—more than half of U.S. governors are refusing to accept Syrian refugees, the House of Representatives voted to block funding for them, and some politicians want to implement a religious test before letting them into the U.S.— Arbour was bound to attract criticism no matter what she said.
And attract criticism she does, in her typical fashion, while taking on some of the anti-refugee arguments she's heard over the last week.
“There’s a really bad war going on, and it’s our job as human beings to help them as much as we can,” Arbour said. “If you breathe air, it’s your job to help other people.”Screengrab via Nicole Arbour/YouTube
If you're an on-duty cop in Sanford, Florida—or anywhere, really—maybe think twice before you get on stage with a death metal band to scream, "Let the killing begin."
Last Friday, Officer Andrew Ricks joined Rhode Island band Vital Remains on stage at the West End Trading Co. in Sanford, first to join them in throwing up devil horns, then to help introduce the song "Let the Killing Begin/Dechristianize." Ricks leaves the stage as the band starts playing, but apparently the video promptly made its way to the Sanford Police Department.According to the Orlando Sentinel, Ricks was fired on Wednesday. A statement from Sanford Police Chief Cecil B. Smith explained:
An incident of this nature erodes the thin fibers of trust which already exist between the community and the police and it will not tolerated within the Sanford Police Department.
Vital Remains frontman Brian Werner saw it differently, saying Ricks's firing "is exactly what's wrong with the world today." Ricks has not made a public comment about his relationship with Vital Remains yet.
Ricks had allegedly already put in his resignation back in October, effective Nov. 20, but he was relieved of his duties a little early. This isn't the Sanford PD's first brush with controversy, of course: It drew significant criticism for its mishandling of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in 2012.
The vlogger debuted a snippet of the series on Friday and shared his thoughts on entering "live horror scenarios, like live horror games."
"I had no idea what was gonna happen," he said of the filming experience. "It was one of the craziest experiences of my life. So I can't wait for you bros to see it."The series doesn't yet have a release date, but it will be available through the YouTube Red subscription service.
H/T Variety | Screengrab via PewDiePie/YouTube
Google's version of the album includes a home demo of "Billie Jean" from 1981 in addition to hits like "Beat It" and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'."
The free release is reportedly a promotional move on Google's part to remind people that its music store exists, and the company couldn't have picked a more popular album to share. Thriller ended up winning eight Grammy awards when it came out in 1982, including best album, and seven of its singles reached the top 10 in Billboard's Hot 100.The free download is available here for U.S. users. H/T Variety | Screengrab via Michael Jackson/YouTube
SNLalum Rob Schneider is back with another semi-autobiographical sitcom about a white guy who's married to a Mexican woman and just trying to figure it all out. This one is for Netflix and it's called Real Rob.
Back in 2011, CBS famously changed the name of Schneider's then-sitcom from ¡Rob! to Rob after getting pushback from viewers (the show was cancelled shortly thereafter), and a lot of this trailer feels like Schneider taking a second swing at the show he'd envisioned.
"See!" the wife character's reference to Ryan Gosling seems to shout. "I'm not a stereotype!"
The "claustrophobia: the gayest of all phobias" joke at the end of the trailer doesn't bode well, but hopefully Schneider has learned that he can poke fun at the day-to-day of things like race and sexuality without stumbling into problematic territory. Mainstream culture has come a long way on social-justice discourse since the last time he was in the limelight, so it's safe to say that America will be tuning in with a more critical lens than it was the last time around.
Real Rob's first season will be available on Netflix Dec. 1. H/T Splitsider | Screengrab via Real Rob/YouTube
People love Adele. People are getting emotional listening to the new Adele album. But could you spot the real Adele among a room of lookalikes?
The singer recently stopped by the BBC to film a TV special with Graham Norton and take part in an Adele impersonator contest, but not as a judge. She actually went in disguise as "Jenny."
Outfitted with a fake nose and chin, "Jenny" joined a group of Adele impersonators and blended right in. When she finally gets on stage and sings the first notes of "Make You Feel My Love," the shock and awe finally ripples through the contestants.
After the event, one of the impersonators, Tallulah Windmill, told the Irish Independent: "I was chatting to her for ages backstage. When she started to be nervous I was confused as she said she'd been an impersonator for four years so I thought 'come on love, you shouldn't be nervous.' I also thought she was a rubbish impersonator as when have you ever seen Adele wear gloves?"
Screengrab via BBC/YouTube
And so it is with leaked gossip and a new rap single that the most sweltering romance of 2015 has come to an end. On Thursday, Kardashian prodigy Kylie Jenner reportedly broke up with rapper Tyga. While details remain murky, this much is clear: Baby, now we've got bad blood.
Tyga threw himself a lavish, star-studded birthday party late Thursday sans Jenner. According to People, Jenner broke the news to him that day after what was characterized as rampant womanizing and a more recent "breach of trust." Jenner, for her part, has remained silent across social media but did pause to post a self-portrait Friday.Of note: On Tyga's birthday, no one from the Kardashian or Jenner family wished him well across Twitter or Facebook. But that's apparently just fine. In fact Tyga's new single, "Happy Birthday," takes a public relations victory lap. Think Tupac's "Hit 'Em Up" in terms of bragging about sleeping with a new rival's friend, only conjured to imitate Drake's commercial stylings and devoid of punch.
Of course, "Happy Birthday" definitely packs its share of subtweets.Here he's biting back at tabloid culture, with some likely digs at his ex. Those include:
And while Jenner is not explicitly implicated, what is unmissable is the notion that Tyga here is bragging about mixed company:
The news caused "Tyga" to trend nationally on Twitter late Friday. Unfortunately, that may not be a good thing for his career:H/T People | Photo via Glamour/Twitter