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Articles on this Page
- 05/20/16--04:00: _Fred Melamed on his...
- 05/20/16--04:57: _Stephen Colbert pre...
- 05/20/16--06:00: _Is Tidal worth the ...
- 05/20/16--08:58: _Paul McCartney upst...
- 05/20/16--09:43: _There is now a summ...
- 05/20/16--10:16: _Idris Elba stars in...
- 05/20/16--12:25: _Whitney Houston's e...
- 05/20/16--13:25: _Joe Jonas, Ashley G...
- 05/20/16--13:57: _VidCon, YouTube tea...
- 05/20/16--19:51: _YouTube clip that '...
- 05/20/16--20:17: _The international t...
- 05/21/16--06:00: _The best buddy flic...
- 05/21/16--10:45: _Stranded by Delta, ...
- 05/22/16--06:00: _Why breakout star M...
- 05/22/16--06:32: _'Saturday Night Liv...
- 05/22/16--07:00: _Watch Florence Welc...
- 05/22/16--08:36: _There's a graphic t...
- 05/22/16--11:17: _NYC PodFest highlig...
- 05/22/16--13:37: _DJ Khaled can't spe...
- 05/23/16--05:16: _John Oliver explain...
- 05/20/16--04:00: Fred Melamed on his heralded new Netflix series, 'Lady Dynamite'
- 05/20/16--04:57: Stephen Colbert previews Donald Trump's reality-show GOP convention
- 05/20/16--06:00: Is Tidal worth the money?
- 05/20/16--08:58: Paul McCartney upstaged by bass-playing girl in Buenos Aires
- 05/20/16--10:16: Idris Elba stars in Macklemore's video for 'Dance Off'
- 05/20/16--19:51: YouTube clip that 'Family Guy' used mysteriously disappears
- 05/21/16--06:00: The best buddy flicks streaming on Netflix
- 05/21/16--10:45: Stranded by Delta, Kevin Smith makes amends with Southwest Airlines
- 05/22/16--06:00: Why breakout star Matt Bellassai ditched BuzzFeed to go solo
- 05/22/16--08:36: There's a graphic twist to this 'SNL' parody of 'Dead Poets Society'
- 05/22/16--11:17: NYC PodFest highlights the wacky, wild podcast world in real life
Show business isn’t for the faint of heart. People tend to think of entertainment industry managers and agents as cutthroat types who lunge at opportunities and fight to the death for their A-list clients. But what if that's not true?
In Maria Bamford’s new Netflix show Lady Dynamite, out today, actor Fred Melamed plays her manager, Bruce, who’s based on her real-life manager. Unlike Ana Gasteyer’s powerhouse agent Karen Grisham, Bruce is an oblivious sweetheart. He goes along with Bamford’s interest in working less upon her return to L.A. from Duluth, Minnesota, where she was hospitalized after having a mental breakdown.
Though he is often cast as villainous or corrupt authority characters—such as Sy Ableman in the Coen Brothers’ 2009 film A Serious Man—Melamed is also known as that sweet Jewish man who is so familiar that he’s sometimes unrecognizable.
I caught up with Melamed via phone to talk more about his role as Bruce, a good guy who clearly is inept in ways that create strong comedic moments between him and Bamford, with whom he has an awkwardly distant, seemingly non-sexual, mostly loving relationship.
Bruce is such an oblivious sweetheart. He cares a lot about Maria’s career, but he doesn’t seem to know exactly what to do with her. There’s a sweetness to him but also a comedic failure sensibility. How was it for you, working out that type of a character?
It was a rare pleasure for me because in many instances, in my current work that I’m called upon to do most frequently, the characters are much more arched than Bruce. In the more recent past, I’ve been playing corrupt authority figures, bad parents, nasty corporate types, lawyers, usurpers like in the Coen Brothers film. Partly because I seem authoritative as part of my set of traits, my own attitude toward authority is rather resentful, so I often enjoy lampooning people who don’t deserve authority but have it. In this situation, Bruce—I have affection for him. He’s sort of a show business true believer. He’s the kind of guy that, at all cost to himself and his clients, believes that if you keep trying—and essentially, if you keep trying the same thing—one of these years it will work. He’s had his nose pressed up against the glass of show business success for many years, but he’s just getting a whiff of the pastries on the other side of the divide. But he knows it’s there, and he can see it. What I think about him is, he’s very loyal to his clients—but that’s not the way show business works. Most people, when they get to the level of appearing on Conan or something of equal importance, they would give someone like him the brush-off. That is, they would get to a level of notoriety, and then they might want to shake him off because he has too much loser dust on him. But Maria, like Bruce, has this sort of unflagging loyalty.
How much of Bruce is the real Bruce?
Even though we took great liberties with the character of Bruce, there is a real Bruce. I don’t think Bruce is so much of a bummer as we’ve made him out to be, but I think that deep kind of loyalty is actually part of Bruce. And they have this odd, non-sexual—well, non-sexual from Maria’s point of view—type of relationship. They get sick of each other, they get mad at each other, but they never desert each other or betray each other. So that’s an odd kind of character to play, someone who is around show business and believes it could happen for him, and is so close that it’s frustrating. He believes in Maria and, as you know, first Maria thinks he is going to be threatened by her hiring this high-powered agent, but then he says, “No no, this is the only way it’s going to work!”
It was a gas to play a character that is more like the me in real life—more of a bumbler. I have this feeling about Maria. I feel that she’s like a comic meteor, and she needs a kind of idiot to keep her tethered to the ground. She needs a Margaret Dumont figure to keep her earthbound. And so that was part of my love for her, and part of our thing. I am sort of thick and don’t get it, but I never give up hope.How did you two meet? How did the role of Bruce come about?
I got to know Maria while we were on the USA Network TV show Benched together. Comedians get hardened—you know, they have that hardened thing—but she doesn’t. She’s very honest and naked, vulnerable, but not at all self-pitying or hardened. She’s just her. I really liked her. I was a fan of hers. Then we got on this show Benched and we got to be friends, and we would just sit and eat lunch and talk. Maria, who is a fantastic actor, was always a little bit insecure about her acting. Somebody misled her and told her I was a really great actor and that I would have some answers for her. So I just said to her, “I’m surprised you have misgivings about acting, because you’re so good.” I was just telling her the truth. So we got to be friends and that was that. Then I was doing a show—a different one that I’m on called Casual—and I got a call that Mitch Hurwitz wanted to talk to me about a show, Lady Dynamite. I found out that Maria and Mitch had always wanted me to play this role of Bruce. They didn’t audition anybody; I had this beautiful, happy discovery that this role was invented for me. As an actor, that’s a rare thing. Maria is a lovely person, so that aspect of working with her is great. She always works very hard. She still has to deal with all the things she has to deal with—she takes medications, and she likes to take a nap during lunch. If I wasn’t so busy eating I would too. So she has some small limitations that way.
Would you say Lady Dynamite is a feel-good comedy? It’s definitely not a cringe comedy. How would you even categorize it? Could you call it a dark comedy?
It’s a strange hybrid of things. We live in an age where parody is almost impossible. Reality is so warped—you look at what’s happening, and you’re like, “How can I make fun of this? It’s so sick.” The show exaggerates certain things, but it has a sort of real premise. Everything is based in reality. I think it tries to mirror Maria’s outlook on everything… her sort of mind. I would say, to me, knowing show business, it has a big inside thing—it’s kind of like Larry Sanders, in that it has a big inside element and makes fun of things in show business. But it also makes fun of a lot of other things going on right now, including what Maria tries to do—her attempts to be kind and decent. It has a soft heart, but it also doesn’t forgive anyone, even those who seek to make the world better. It seems odd that somebody who would be a show business person invested in making a career would also be that interested in community, helping others, and those types of things. But that’s the way Maria is.
I was thinking about TV shows that are a translation of a standup comic’s persona, heightened in various ways, like Lady Dynamite—as opposed to a show that’s very much about the lives of fictional friend dynamics. Something like Friends, for instance. I am wondering how it was for you working on a show that is episodic content based around a specific person rather than working out characters with others and establishing who those people are.
As an actor, you’re always trying to make everything as genuine as you can. If somebody does something that’s crazy or self-defeating or pathetic, you have to ask yourself: “Well, how did they get to that place where they make the same mistake again?” Or: “How could they be so cruel?” Or: “Why are they so nice even though people shit on them?” How do we get to the place where we think, “Oh, that’s so extreme!” As an actor, you’re always trying to look at it, to get yourself to the real place of a person who does that, to make it as real as you can. Bruce is a real person—we took big liberties with him—so how does somebody stay hopeful even though the world takes a dump on them all the time? What kind of person does that, and why?
All of comedy has to do with how outrageous the truth is, and how wrong the truth is. I think Maria and I are essentially serious people who are dumbstruck and dismayed about how fucked up everything is, including us, probably. It’s in that disparity of how things ought to be and how things are that the funniness sort of arises. So, there were lots of opportunities to mine that in this show, both because Maria’s struggles are so great [and] because what shines in her is so great. There were lots of opportunities for that. We were very lucky, and the whole show was very lucky, and without sounding too pompous the show is very much the who’s who of comedy. Ana Gasteyer is her agent. Her best friend is Patton Oswalt. The two actors who play her parents, Ed Begley, Jr. as Joel Bamford and Mary Kay Place as Marilyn Bamford, are wonderful. Sarah Silverman and Tig Notaro make appearances. So, obviously people were turned on by the idea of Maria, and Mitch Hurwitz and Pam Brady, who were the showrunners. The show is not cynical in its tone but it’s still delicious in what it lampoons.
Donald Trump is starting to look toward the season finale of the Republican presidential primary even more now that he practically has a clear path to the nomination at the party's convention in Cleveland.
rump campaign has often been compared to a reality show, albeit one where the winning candidate emerges despite every attempt to stop him on the contestants’ and producers’ part. Even the way Trump unveils his running mate will fit the reality-show format: Revealing it early would be like revealing who won Celebrity Apprentice before the finale aired, according to a Trump source.
Given that the convention is being held at the Quicken Loans Arena (known as “The Q”) in Cleveland, home to the WWE, Monster Jam, and Freestyle Motocross Madness, Late Show host Stephen Colbert knows that Trump’s coronation will fit right in.And the general election? Well, that’s the shortened all-star season. Winner takes all.
I’ve been tempted to download Tidal ever since Kanye West dropped The Life of Pablo exclusively—at least for a moment—on the streaming platform. But as with Rihanna’s Anti before it, I knew it was only a matter of time before alternate avenues emerged.
Prince’s tragic death on April 21 changed things entirely. The R&B icon had a fraught relationship with the Internet to say the least, leaving those scrambling to find an adequate soundtrack that day with few options outside random YouTube clips or purchasing his catalog on iTunes. My CDs are still in boxes from my last move, and there’s a noticeable gap in my record collection in the “P” section, so I turned to Tidal—the only streaming service that offers Prince’s deep discography on demand.
If that hadn’t forced my hand, the surprise release of Beyoncé’s masterpiece, Lemonade, two days later, surely would’ve. The combination of those two events brought a reported 1.2 million new subscribers to Tidal.
That means everyone’s 30-day free trial is almost up. Here’s what I’ve learned about Tidal’s biggest selling points over the last month and why I’ll be disconnecting.
There’s only one Prince
Need to hear Purple Rain right now? Have a sudden urge for the soundtrack for Tim Burton’s Batman? Curious how Prince’s flurry of new releases actually stack up? Tidal is the only place you can hear it all on demand. It’s a ridiculously deep catalog and can you occupy you for months, if not years.
Principal owner Jay Z has a deep Rolodex of connections, and Tidal’s “artist-owned” model makes it a premium destination for high-profile exclusives. Rihanna initially released her latest thriller, Anti, in February as a Tidal exclusive, followed in short order by Beyoncé’s “Formation,” West’s The Life of Pablo, and ultimately, Lemonade, though the latter can still be viewed via HBO Go. As of this writing, Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool can be streamed in its entirety on Tidal and Apple Music—but not Spotify. It’s also become a destination for new music videos (Nicki Minaj’s“Feeling Myself” and Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money”), and the occasional streaming concert. While it seems to only be a matter of time before the window of exclusivity closes on these sorts of releases, it’s clear that if you want to hear them first, you need to be on Tidal.
Tidal’s defining feature is its high-fidelity sound. Whereas most streaming services—and Tidal’s $9.99 tier for that matter—offer only mp3s, which squash audio files in the interest of saving space on your hard drive, its premium version ($17.99 per month) relies on FLAC (free lossless audio codec). That means that you’re getting a far higher quality of sound—what the artist intended you hear—every time you start streaming.
This is by far the most appealing aspect of Tidal for me personally, especially when I’m streaming through Sonos. But for most people, it’s a complete non-factor. A decade of iPods and shitty earbuds have taught most to accept audio quality that’s closer to a ringtone than an LP.
One of the most daunting aspects of leaving Spotify is losing all of the playlists I’ve painfully curated over the years. Thankfully, Tidal integrates with soundiiz.com, which makes it easy to import playlists from Spotify and Soundcloud. I tested out a couple of my own playlists and was mostly satisfied with the results. I lost significant chunks in the Numero Group catalog, and a handful of tracks from my Best of 2015 playlist (Django Django, Lera Lynn, Hop Along, Battles, Thunderbitch). The more obscure you get, the more you’ll lose: Eight of the tracks from my Losing My Edge playlist, which pulled one track from each artist referenced in LCD Soundsystem’s track of the same name. But honestly, that was less than I expected, and the whole process took under 10 minutes.
This isn’t a distinctive feature for Tidal—Spotify offers it—but it works really well. If you need to download an album for the gym or the subway, it’s as easy as toggling from within the app.
What Tidal lacks in original content (like Spotify Sessions), it’s attempting to make up for with thoughtful playlists, curated either by its editorial staff or by the artists themselves. There’s a lot to unpack here. It reminds me of the supplemental CD you’ll get with Mojo magazine, allowing you to dig a little deeper into the material. Take, for instance, this collection of tracks helmed by Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, this playlist of the samples from Drake’s Views, or these unexpected Nirvana covers, pegged to Sturgill Simpson’s “In Bloom” overhaul.
So is Tidal worth it?
Whether you’re willing to pay for Tidal or not will depend almost entirely on if you already have a preferred streaming music service and how much stock you put into its high-fidelity sound.
Unlike Spotify, Tidal doesn’t offer a free, ad-supported version—though it’s worth noting that it extends discounted rates for veterans and is 50 percent off for students. Given the overlap in their offers, and the infrequency of genuinely exclusive releases, that means you’re ultimately going to be paying a little more for what’s essentially the same service.
What Tidal is really lacking is a defining feature, something that clearly differentiates it from Apple Music and company. HD video isn’t it. For Spotify, it’s the platform’s Discover feature—which offers personal recommendations and a shockingly good weekly playlist based on complex algorithms and your own personal listening habits—and the ability to see what your friends are listening to and share playlists with relative ease. (Tidal has its own version of Discovery, but it's nowhere near as sophisticated as what Spotify provides.)
My colleague Nico Lang said it best:
[E]xclusives aren’t enough: What Tidal has yet to offer is a compelling narrative—or any real reason that users should prefer their service over Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, Rhapsody, Yahoo Music, or any of the other virtually identical offerings from other companies. It’s not just about content but doing something different than what every single other streaming service provides.
Canceling your Tidal subscription is easy. Just go to Settings > Account > Manage Subscription. In the pop-up window, click on Subscription again, then look for “Cancel my subscription” in the bottom right-hand corner.
As for me, let's just say I finally stocked up on Prince records.
In all the decades that Paul McCartney's been performing, Tuesday night marks perhaps the first time he's been upstaged by a 10-year-old.
McCartney made a stop in Buenos Aires to kick off a two-night stint in the Argentinian capital as part of his "One on One" tour. As has become customary at his shows, he brought up a lucky fan to share vocal duties with him on a song.
Leila came onstage with her mom, Mariana. Clutching a stuffed animal, the girl shocked McCartney by sidestepping his question for an autograph and instead asking to play bass with his band.
And girl can play, too.
The only place this girl needs to get back to is a stage.
BY GEOFF WEISS
Camp seems to be the de facto destination for the YouTube set as of late. Following the news that bold-faced stars like Tyler Oakley and Bethany Mota will serve as “camp counselors” at a new seven-day meetup conceived by live events company Mills Entertainment, another camp has just been announced with an eye toward churning out young YouTube stars.
2bcamp, to be hosted this summer in Madrid, Spain, is the creation of 2btube, a new media company specializing in Spanish-speaking creators, and Enforcex, a creator of international summer camps. Aimed at young people ages 11 to 18, the two-week experience will teach aspiring YouTubers how to create channels, generate quality content, grow audiences, promote videos, and collaborate. Lessons will be helmed by 2btube’s staff, which the company says has been honing its expertise “for the past six months.”
The program also teaches attendees—who must come equipped with a camera and a laptop—how to use management platforms, how to conceive and design their personal branding, and how to light and edit their videos.
Students can choose to either board at the facility, at Spain’s University Francisco de Vitoria, or attend during the day and spend evenings and weekends at home. In addition to the YouTube tips, students will also be able to hone their English-language skills and participate in other team-building activities that aim to help develop empathy and conflict resolution, according to the company—both of which it says are key qualities in operating a successful YouTube channel. By the end of the event, all of the various groups within the camp will have live YouTube channels.
“Many parents have told us that their children want to be YouTubers,” said 2btube Executive Chairman Bastian Manintveld in a statement. “Being a successful YouTuber requires passion, commitment and responsibility—all values we want to instill in a fun and international environment.”
The other day, Dark Tower fans caught their first glimpse at Idris Elba’s gunslinger on the set. But we may have gotten an even better look at what that might look like in action in the unlikeliest of places.
Elba joins Macklemore and Ryan Lewis in their new music video for “Dance Off,” and while that requires you to watch a Macklemore video, it’s worth it for Elba alone. In the first 15 seconds, he dons a Cruella de Vil-esque fur coat, leather gloves (with a metal ring on his left pinky), and a cowboy hat as he drops the chorus.
We’re not prepared.And Macklemore brings some moves too, I guess.
The Voice is approaching its season finale, and one of its big selling points was a duet between Christina Aguilera and Whitney Houston's hologram. But that digital resurrection was short-lived.
Footage from the performance was briefly leaked on Thursday night, though its authenticity hasn't been confirmed by The Voice. According to TMZ, Aguilera was scheduled to sing a couple of Houston's hits, and in clips posted online, you can see Houston flicker into view to sing "I Have Nothing."Hologram USA—the company responsible for holograms of Tupac, Chief Keef, and Julian Assange—had previously suggested plans for a world tour of Houston's hologram, and CEO Alki David ensured "absolute authenticity." Last year, David Nussbaum, Hologram USA’s senior vice president of sales, told the Daily Dot that working with the estates of artists is of utmost importance: "We’re not just going to put anything we want onto a stage or into a club without the estate saying ‘that’s the right material, that’s the way I want it said, that’s the way I want it delivered.’"
Pat Houston, the executor of her estate, said in a statement Thursday that they were "looking to deliver a groundbreaking duet performance for the fans of both artists."
Holograms are new technology that take time to perfect, and we believe with artists of this iconic caliber, it must be perfect. Whitney’s legacy and her devoted fans deserve perfection. After closely viewing the performance, we decided the hologram was not ready to air. We have much respect and appreciation for Christina, and she was absolutely flawless.
In the aftermath of the cancellation, headlines punning on Houston's song titles started circulating, and the Internet unloaded its displeasure, as it did with Tupac at Coachella. Considering how Houston was often treated in the media before her death, this seems like an unfair way to bring her back.
Indeed, this is still a new technology, one that must feel authentic if fans are going to be asked to enjoy it and, in some cases, pay money for it. But with all these holographic revivals, we also have to struggle with what exactly we're enjoying. Can a hologram ever truly be "perfect"?
We've reached out to Hologram USA for comment.
Update 3:54pm CT, May 20: Hologram USA and Pat Houston sent the Daily Dot the following statement:
The Houston Estate and Hologram USA are united in our efforts to present a hologram of Whitney Houston that honors her legacy. Though the hologram technology behind the duet with Christina Aguilera worked flawlessly, The videos that were leaked of the Voice performance simply were still ‘a work in progress ‘ and not ready to be judged. The support from fans has been overwhelming, and the plans for the Whitney Houston hologram tour are on track.
plus-size girls get featured in mainstream media, it's explicitly because they're plus-size, i.e., a Dove ad about how every body type is beautiful or a commercial for a plus-size clothing store. Here, though, Graham not only gets to play the leading lady and love interest—her body doesn't even come up!
She's just a regular girl who's falling in love and having a good time! Can you imagine?!
Fans on Twitter are, understandably, very excited:Progress! H/T Buzzfeed
VidCon has a new programming slate sure to please fans of beauty and lifestyle topics. The annual online video conference for content creators, industry experts, and community members alike will host a self-described content “salon” as part of the event’s Community Track for its upcoming June 23-25 event in Anaheim, California.
Featuring popular beauty and fashion YouTubers like Kandee Johnson and Eva Gutowski (known to fans as MyLifeAsEva), the content salon will cover attendee-requested topics such as lifestyle trends and entrepreneurship. The content salon will also show how Johnson and Gutowski—along with fellow beauty YouTubers like Manny Mua, Teala Dunn, Dulce Candy, and Estee Lalonde—inspire confidence in their audiences. In order to accommodate this new lineup of content, VidCon will expand its convention borders to include the Anaheim Marriott.
Produced by digital media veteran Chrystina W. Train, VidCon’s content salon will boast almost 20 individual panels moderated by executives from brands like Kin Community and MTV. One session, dubbed “Man Crush—Not Just Monday,” will highlight how male beauty stars have changed the way makeup and fashion is viewed around the globe. Other panels like “Underneath It All” and “Take the High Road” will find YouTubers discussing the real meaning of beauty and the different types of online interactions (both good and bad) experienced by participating lifestyle creators.
“Being able to participate in panels that exemplify the importance of using one’s own voice as a beauty and lifestyle creator to inspire others to have confidence is one of the most rewarding gifts of having this role,” said Dulce Candy in a release. “I’m excited that VidCon is recognizing beauty and fashion experts’ influence in the space by creating dedicated events for our community to learn from and share with each other. This year’s VidCon is going to be a lot of fun.”
You can view the entire programming slate for the beauty and lifestyle content salon on VidCon’s official website. Additionally, you can purchase industry, community, or creator tickets to the event here.
This is one for the books.
In a move that many are finding confounding, Fox had a clip from the 1980s Nintendo game Double Dribble pulled from YouTube this week claiming it infringed its copyright. The catch? The only reason the YouTube clip resembled Fox's property is because it probably used it as source material for a recent episode of Family Guy.
In other words: it seems likely that Fox sampled a clip hosted on YouTube in the episode, aired the episode, and then had YouTube pull down the original clip because it resembled what had aired.
It doesn't take a trained lawyer to wonder: Uh, what?
What's weirder still is that YouTube complied. The original clip, which depicted a glitch that allows you to sink a 3-point shot in the game, is no longer available.
Conveniently, though, the Family Guy moment in question is available to watch via a video hosted on—you guessed it—YouTube.
The original glitch footage was uploaded by YouTuber sw1tched in February 2009.
“This is an automatic shot my brothers and I found on the NES Double Dribble back in the 80s when it was released," sw1tched wrote. "I know others know this also, but as long as you release at the right point, it is automatic. The half-court shot I took at the end goes in 80 (percent) of the time, but I didn’t want to keep recording….HAHA.”
While it is possible that Fox recreated the YouTuber's gameplay frame-for-frame, it seems unlikely.
“It’s most likely that this is just another example of YouTube’s Content ID system automatically taking down a video without regard to actual copyright ownership and fair use," Fight for the Future CTO Jeff Lyon told TorrentFreak.
"As soon as Fox broadcast that Family Guy episode, their robots started taking down any footage that appeared to be reposted from the show—and in this case they took down the footage they stole from an independent creator,” he said.
When the first photos for the all-female version of Ghostbusters surfaced online, fans understandably were excited. The trailers for the movie that'll be released July 15 haven't been as well received, though. Some thought the trailers were picture perfect, but others—a whole helluva lot of others—believed the trailers were trash.
Maybe it's the all-female cast that makes people mad. Maybe it's because the late Harold Ramis isn't in it. Or maybe it's because it's not British enough.
If the last reason is the case, perhaps this international trailer will make you feel better than the first two previews that were released in the U.S. And this one features a little more Kristen Wiig, a little more Kate McKinnon, and the first time we've seen Saturday Night Live cast member Cecily Strong make an appearance.The reaction to this third trailer seemingly has been more positive, as well.
But remember this. Maybe the new Ghostbusters will suck. Maybe it won't.
Or maybe we should just watch the entire movie and decide then.
Shane Black has been writing some of the best screenplays in Hollywood ever since the original Lethal Weapon way back in 1987. For much of his early career, however, his original scripts were vastly better than the finished movies they became (see Last Action Hero, The Last Boy Scout, and The Long Kiss Goodnight—or, better yet, find them online and read them). That changed with 2005’s riotously entertaining Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which marked Black’s directorial debut and a late-career renaissance that continues this weekend with The Nice Guys, starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling.
But Black is never better than when he’s telling original stories, full of noir tropes, mismatched protagonists, hilarious and acrobatic dialogue, and an ever-present dash of holiday cheer (it’s always Christmas in Black’s head). Unfortunately, Black’s back-catalog is pretty much AWOL from the major streaming services—an unforgivable crime, frankly—so, in honor of The Nice Guys’ impending release, we set out to find some of the best streaming buddy flicks currently available, any of them a worthy double-feature precursor to checking out The Nice Guys this weekend. Let’s start with one of the most famous on-screen duos in cinematic history...
1) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Netflix Instant)Kicking off the list is one of the great on-screen buddy pairings of all time in the form of legendary outlaws Robert LeRoy Parker and Harry Longabaugh—better known to history as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Played with iconic charm by Paul Newman and Robert Redford, respectively, Butch and Sundance have built quite a reputation leading their “Hole-in-the-Wall Gang,” and that reputation only skyrockets further after a daring job in which they rob the same train twice—because who the hell would expect that? Unfortunately, that robbery draws not only fame but the attention of powerful men who don’t like business as usual being interrupted. With lawmen paid by the Union Pacific railroad hot on their heels, Butch and Sundance hightail it south to Bolivia, but the sort of hornet’s nest they’ve kicked isn’t easily calmed.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid won four Academy Awards, including a best original screenplay trophy for writer William Goldman. It also ranks 49th on the American Film Institute’s "100 Years... 100 Movies" list.
2) Midnight Run (Amazon Prime with Starz)There’s nothing more classically American than a good old-fashioned road trip movie... unless that movie also involves white-collar crime. Martin Brest’s Midnight Run gives us both. Robert De Niro stars as bounty hunter Jack Walsh, who takes a $100,000 job to track down Jonathan "The Duke" Mardukas (Charles Grodin), a former mob accountant now on the lamb after embezzling $15 million from Chicago crime boss Jimmy Serrano (Dennis Farina). Needless to say, that isn’t the sort of thing that endears one to Chicago crime bosses, so even though Walsh doesn’t have much trouble finding Mardukas, the accountant is super eager not to be anywhere near his former employer. Walsh is soon caught between Serrano, who wants Mardukas dead; the FBI, who want him on the witness stand; and his own determination to just finish his damn job without getting killed. And as for Mardukas himself? He’s not exactly being cooperative during the trip home.
After losing the lead role in Big to Tom Hanks, De Niro reportedly wanted to try his hand at comedy, and Midnight Run is one of his better comedic roles, largely because he’s mostly playing it straight against Grodin’s infuriating foil, nowhere near as over-the-top as his comedy roles would later become. He and Grodin have great antagonistic chemistry together, and Brest’s script is a quotable, underrated classic.
3) Hot Fuzz (Netflix Instant)The second film in Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s “Three Flavours Cornetto” trilogy (begun in Shaun of the Dead and concluded in The World’s End), Hot Fuzz is a love letter to the sort of over-the-top buddy action flicks where somebody, at some point, fires a gun into the air while screaming. Pegg stars as Police Constable Nicholas Angel, a badass London cop who’s reassigned to a sleepy village in Gloucestershire, much to his chagrin. He’s partnered with the enthusiastic but not terribly capable Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), the son of the town’s chief inspector. Danny is absolutely obsessed with the sort of action flicks he’s convinced Nick was until recently living out in real life back in London, so he’s just as disappointed as his partner is to be stranded in a quiet burgh where serious crime is just something you read about happening elsewhere. Then a pair of local actors are found decapitated in their car, and the town authorities dismiss it as a “tragic accident.” Nick isn’t convinced, and soon more murders follow and Nick and Danny are on the trail of a case at least 75 percent weirder than they could possibly have anticipated.
Both a pitch-perfect satire of and a love letter to action movies, Hot Fuzz even earned the blessing of one of the genre’s patron saints: Shane Black himself demanded a sequel.
4) In Bruges (Netflix Instant)In a perfect world, everyone would know what I’m talking about when I sing the praises of In Bruges. As it is, most people don’t even know how to pronounce “Bruges.” Written and directed by Martin McDonagh, In Bruges stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as a pair of hit men temporarily banished to the quaint Belgian city of Bruges in the aftermath of a job gone bad—one which left a child dead and Ray (Farrell) wracked with guilt. Ray mopes and explores the city with Ken (Gleeson) until the word comes down from their mobster boss, Harry (Ralph Fiennes)—Ken is to kill Ray for his careless collateral damage. Conflicted and sympathetic toward his friend’s plight, Ken must decide if he can go through with it and Ray must decide if he can live with himself regardless, setting them both on a collision course with Harry that will leave Bruges bloody.
McDonagh’s In Bruges script earned both a BAFTA and a best original screenplay Academy Award nomination, establishing McDonagh as one of the most interesting creative voices currently working in film (see his equally fun follow-up, Seven Psychopaths, streaming on Amazon Prime). Farrell also took home a Golden Globe for his performance.
Kevin Smith was just trying to make a gig.
He didn't expect his trip to Kansas City for Planet Comic Con to turn into such an ordeal. And yet Smith was delayed for hours over an alleged malfunctioning smoke alarm on a Delta airplane.Smith's saga took an unexpected turn when he was left with just one option if he wanted to make his lone Planet Comic Con appearance. He could either cancel An Evening With Kevin Smith or take his first flight with Southwest Airlines in five years.The comedian and the airline butted heads in 2010 over Smith being bumped from flying standby. Owing to the fact that two seats were not available, Southwest had made a judgment call to exclude Smith from flying because they believed he would require more space than a single ticket allowed.
For their part, the airline did apologize and refund Smith for the flight. That mea culpa wasn't exactly met with open arms. Smith hadn't been on a Southwest flight since. Until now.Smith made light of the previous incident, posting a selfie with his seatmates prior to takeoff.
He was able to make it to Planet Comic Con with nary a moment to spare. Smith had a smooth flight and Southwest was back in good graces with the him.
His quick trip to Kansas City resulted in yet another Southwest flight back home on Saturday. This time, it was by choice.
Delta has stayed totally silent throughout Smith's ordeal. Looks like someone's got a new favorite airline.
Matt Bellassai has been downing a bottle of wine a week on Facebook, but he swears he’s not even a fan of the drink.
“It’s like if you work at McDonald's you don’t want to go out and buy a burger,” Bellassai says over a bread basket and endless iced coffees at the Palihouse in West Hollywood. “My go-to drink is whiskey on the rocks now, because I feel like I'm slowly becoming an old man. At some point I convinced myself that drinking straight whiskey is the healthiest option.”
Bellassai is equal parts bubbly and self-deprecating in person, able to recognize his massive success and laugh about the absurdity of people’s attention to his unlikely fame. He’s approachable, dressed in the millennial business attire of a fashionable button-down, and on a break between meetings that swing him all over Los Angeles.
He’s only 25, mind you, but he’s made a huge impact in the social media world. If video of a man complaining about life while drinking an entire bottle of wine out of an over-sized glass has passed through your Facebook feed in the last two years, you’ve seen Bellassai work. He’s taken on everything, from annoying co-workers to the concept of mornings, all under the BuzzFeed umbrella. If you’ve wanted to rant about it, Bellassai has done it for you in shareable clips.
Now he’s taking control of his own entertainment future.
Bellassai joined BuzzFeed as part of its first fellowship program, straight out of Northwestern. It was the same time when BuzzFeed began expanding. He started out as a writer, moving on to personalized essays like his “pumpkin cleanse” and a donut tour of New York City. Then, in 2014, BuzzFeed launched the Distributed initiative, and Bellassai joined the social-first project, creating a BuzzFeedMatt Facebook page and a Tumblr called Literally Matt.
“It wasn’t well followed,” laughed Bellassai of the blog. Each day he’d go after a different topic, from Monday crushes to drink-fueled advice. It was the precursor to his breakout hit, Whine About It. He’d done some Vine videos and Instagram clips, and decided to convert his wine Wednesdays content to a short 30-second clips.
“We filmed the first episode and we had 45 minutes of footage,” he explains, so it turned into a longer clip. “It started as an experiment. Let’s try something dumb and see if that works. It was borne out of wanting to get drunk at the office, not out of wanting to be a video personality.”
The persona became so popular that Bellassai in January took home the 2016 People’s Choice Award for social media star, beating out viners like Nash Grier and Lele Pons. The win was made all the more memorable by a camera gaffe.
“If I had any delusions I made it, they evaporated,” explains Bellassai of the moment when they showed a random person on-screen instead of him upon winning. “I was in the aisle, and right before the commercial they came to say, ‘You won, act surprised, we’re going to come in on you.’ I saw them point to me, and then right as the camera came back to commercial, a seat filler walked in front of me, and the cameraman stopped on that guy. It’s not even like we looked alike.”
It’s emblematic of the mainstream’s slow acceptance of digital celebrities, who’ve risen to dominate the hearts and minds of the Generation Z set. Bellassai is one of several homegrown stars under the BuzzFeed brand, along with the Try Guys and Quinta Brunson. In April four major stars signed development deals with BuzzFeed, keeping them under contract for two more years for their creative outputs.
Bellassai thinks he's at fault for the move. In September, Bellassai broached the subject of outside projects, specifically writing a book or doing live performances and a potential TV show, an attempt to take what he did at BuzzFeed to the next level.
“I think that was a moment for them when they realized we have these people we’ve created, in a way, that we don’t know what to do with,” he says. “They offered me the deal that the others accepted, a two-year exclusive commitment.”
For Bellassai, two years tied to BuzzFeed was too long, He decided to walk away, and filmed his final Whine About It installment on Jan. 27.
“I thought, ‘Do I want to have that safety net, or take risks and have ownership over everything and start sowing the seeds for the next 30 years?’” he says. “Now in a way I lose a bit of the audience and they might not quite understand or accept this decision, but in the long term I can start investing in projects and people will end up getting more of me.”
Bellassai started his own Facebook page, has grown it to 395,000 followers in only a few months, and thinks he’ll soon eclipse the BuzzFeed-branded page at the pace he’s going. So far, he’s following the formula of drinking wine and complaining, but his hopes are to expand his brand. He’s done comedy and speaking tours, often appearing at colleges.
“People want to see me complain about stuff,” he says of the events. “Some of the questions I’ve gotten are, ‘What are you feelings on milk?’ The videos that I did at BuzzFeed made it seem like I was some improvisational wizard. I think that’s a weird part where people come up to me and just wait for me to do something.”
He’s also working on a book—not a memoir, he stresses—but a collection of essays inspired by his actual life. He’s also working on other video projects, primarily unscripted.
“I feel most comfortable being myself,” he emphasizes. “I'm not Daniel Day-Lewis.”
Bellassai says he’s not precious about where his work ends up, be it TV, film, or the Web.
“Wherever we can make the coolest and most entertaining stuff, I’m fine with whatever,” he says. “I just want to make cool stuff and make people laugh.”
Bellassai has pitched travel concepts and Daily Show-style gonzo journalism, playing to the character of the everyday guy who hates everything. He looks up to Billy Eichner’s trajectory, from Web sensation to TV star and eventually even a scripted series at Hulu.
“To me he is a good model,” says Bellassai. “You’re a personality, you can be in a scripted show, you can be in an unscripted setting. Kind of bridge the gap between write and comedian and personality.”
“When I get stopped at an airport people are always like, ‘you must be so hungover right now.’”
The road to stardom isn’t cut and dry. Bellassai doesn’t see himself like the other digital stars out there, looking for monetization for his video content. He still publishes on Facebook, which doesn’t allow creators to benefit from ads the way YouTube does with its homegrown stars. Bellassai looks at his digital output as a way to grow his audience in the long run. At some point, he figures he’ll do merchandise to help pay the bills. He doesn’t have plans to be part of VidCon—the biggest gathering of Web video stars each year in Anaheim, California—but did take part in the Tribeca Film Festival’s first digital creators event.
“I think it's more of a traditional path with a very deep understanding of coming up in digital,” he says. “I don’t think my audience is the VidCon audience. I think the VidCon audience is very young. The people who watch my videos is the 21-plus crowd who comes to a comedy club and gets drunk with me.”
Not that he’s drunk all the time, despite people always assuming.
“When I get stopped at an airport people are always like, ‘you must be so hungover right now,’” he laughs. “If they see me before noon it must be hungover, if it's after noon I must be wasted. I’m not constantly wasted, I’d be dead.”
Bellassai admits he’s taking a leap of faith, but it’s one he feels ready for.
“This is sort of the first moment in my life that I don’t have a safety net,” he says, noting that he does have one thread left: three months left on his parents’ health insurance until he turns 26. “If something flops, it’s almost, like, not your fault. Now it’s like a failure is your fault. There’s nobody else to blame it on but you.”
Fred Armisen returned to Saturday Night Live to close out its 41st season. The former cast member hosted the show for the first time since his 2013 departure.
Set in a bar just before closing time (with Sanders refusing to go home until he was good and ready, of course), the two candidates reminisced about the past few months of campaigning. Ordering drinks, Sanders went for, “something refreshing and revolutionary. Something that draws yuge crowds.” Meanwhile Clinton ordered "Whatever beer no one likes that gets the job done."We're sure this isn't the last we've seen of Larry David's Bernie Sanders, but this sketch was the ideal finale to one of the wildest primary election seasons in living memory.
After missing a Florence + the Machine show this weekend, a teenage cancer patient was treated to a private concert from Florence Welch and guitarist Rob Ackroyd.
The 15-year-old fan was planning to attend the band's concert in Austin, Texas on Thursday but had to stay in bed at the Christopher House Hospice when her health became too frail. She wound up getting something even better than a regular concert experience when the frontwoman and her guitarist paid her a visit.
Surrounded by the girl's friends, Welch and Ackroyd gave an intimate performance. "The room was full; full of joy and warmth and love and life and singing," wrote the hospice, sharing a video of the song "Shake It Out" on YouTube.
"Thank you, Florence!"
The 41st season of Saturday Night Live went out with quite the bang.
Former cast member Fred Armisen returned to host, reprising his beloved role as Regine, the cringe-worthy girlfriend, and starring in perhaps the best sketch of the night: Farewell Mr. Bunting.
Armisen assumes the role of Dead Poets Society teacher Mr. Keating. Sure, he's got a different name from the Robin Williams character, but he's still got that je ne sais quoi to inspire his students.
In a faithful remake of the film's most climactic scene, SNL ups the ante by taking that whole dead thing quite literally.
podcasting than slapstick comedy, true crime stories, and political commentary.
That’s the basis for NYC PodFest, the annual podcasting celebration, which finishes its weekend of programming on Sunday.
Each show—21 in all throughout the weekend—features podcast hosts recording an episode live in front of an audience with special guests from Janeane Garofalo to Morgan Spurlock.
Two days in, we’ve seen a surprisingly rabid fanbase cling to every word from a smattering of diverse shows. Only at PodFest can you catch a group of three middle-aged jokesters (Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave), a film podcast riffing on fantasy-action flop Gods of Egypt (The Flop House), and a drag queen laying out his nighttime adventures (Guys We Fucked) within a 48-hour span.
It’s certainly a grab bag of culture, themes, and characters. Now in its fourth year, NYC PodFest feels like an up-and-coming festival still coming into its own. But what else can you expect from a festival celebrating a decade-old medium that is still trying to figure out its place in the world?
NYC PodFest wraps up its weekend festivities at the Cake Shop (152 Ludlow St., New York, NY) with live tapings of shows like Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast, The Ensemblist and Mouth Time with Reductress.
Despite knowing many keys to success, DJ Khaled has yet to master spelling.
Case in point? The fact that he's not quite sure how to spell Justin Bieber's last name.
Though he's called Bieber his "brother" in various interviews, Snapchat star and record producer DJ Khaled misspelled Bieber's name on a recent Snapchat announcing his Billboard Music Awards appearance, to much chagrin.While he did get the username correct in the subsequent Instagram post, the Snapchat text is unalterable, and fans aren't letting him forget it. Congratulations, Khaled. You just played yourself.
John Oliver is here to tell you just how broken the U.S. primary and caucus system is—and how, if we don’t fix it, we'll keep having problems.
In a segment he could have easily done months ago, the Last Week Tonight host pointed out the problems with the current primary system in both major parties. But the latest problems arise from accusations by Bernie Sanders supporters that the Democratic Party is letting Hillary Clinton bend the rules in the midst of the Nevada Democratic Party state convention chaos.
But the primaries aren't the only problem. Caucuses are designed in a way that makes it more difficult for people who want to vote but can’t get out of work to do it. Superdelegates are antidemocratic. And whether you're voting in a primary or a caucus, you're not really voting for a candidate; you’re voting for a person who pledges to vote for your candidate at your party's national convention.
The rules are unclear, and Oliver suggested coming together to ask for change after this election is finally over.“Let’s together pick a date early next year to actually write an email to the chair of each party and remind them—politely—to fix this,” he said. “I propose February 2. Now, that will be easy to remember because it’s Groundhog Day, which does seem appropriate because, unless this primary process is fixed, we are all destined to live through the same nightmare scenario over and over again until the end of fucking time.”