So, at last, the Weekend In Pop returns. I know you've all been anxiously waiting for it.
There were really no new movies I wanted to see in theatres, but I did catch up on a John Hughes oldie at home: "Pretty in Pink" with Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer, Andrew McArthy, James Spader playing a great high school preppie jerk, and Harry Dean Stanton as Molly's out of work, but well-meaning Dad. And was that Andrew Dice Clay as a bouncer?? Wow. Great cast and sweet story (but weird opening song). I'd never seen the movie before, and was quite impressed. Teen angst at its finest.
On television, "Monk" had a nice surprise for me. They shot scenes at the hotel I visited in L.A. back in June, the Hyatt Regency Plaza. It was kind of weird to see from that perspective. A good episode.
Also watched "Eureka," "Defying Gravity," and "Mad Men," which had two or three "cringe" moments. Especially when that slimy Pete Campbell and his wife were dancing at Roger's party. Pete kept looking up at his boss like some sort of trained animal begging for approval. Pathetic. Don't get me wrong, it was a fine performance totally in keeping with the character. Another great scene--things got ice cold when Roger's new wife, Jane (a former secretary), bumped into Joan at the office. Yikes. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out this week on AMC.
Last, but certainly not least, I picked up an old "Calvin and Hobbes" collection and reread some of my favorite comics. Those are awesome! There's a new documentary about Calvin's now retired creator, Bill Watterson. You can check out a preview and find more information by clicking here.
Looking forward to seeing Mike Judge's new movie "Extract" this weekend!
Friday, August 14, 2009
That's right. A few people will be calling in sick to work today because the most popular video game franchise of all time is back with bigger hits, better graphics, and a few new features. Madden NFL 2010 hit store shelves at midnight. Many game stores around the country threw parties to ring in the "new year" football style. Since it's inception in 1988, Madden has sold more than 70 million copies! I can remember playing Madden '94 for my SNES back in the day....I've purchased a copy of the game every year since 2003 ( I skipped a few years and a few consoles here and there). I spend hours upon hours every year being "king of the football world" thanks to a $60 dollar video game. Sports games aren't for everyone, but John Madden has never let his fans down. The game always has the latest in technology that is the next best thing to actually playing on Sunday's. John Madden may be retired from the broadcasting world, but as long as his video game continues to flourish he is doing gamers and fans a big favor. Thanks, John for your contributions to NFL and your AWESOME video game.
A shameful headline, but one I'm sure would elicit a chuckle from guitar legend Les Paul, who passed away at the age of 94 on Thursday.
I admit, I don't know too much about Mr. Paul. But anytime someone said his name, or I happened to see it, I knew immediately what it was associated with.
Here's an article about the man and his music.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Brooks & Dunn, the number 1 country duo of all time, announced on Monday that they are giving it a rest. Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn posted a message on their site saying they agreed to "call it a day" after 20 years of making music together. The pair broke through the country scene with their smash hit "Boot Scootin' Boogie" in the early 90's. Country music isn't for everyone, but I hope people will at least appreciate what the "dynamic duo" accomplished. Arista Nashville says the group has sold more than 30 million albums, 23 No. 1 hits, and been named Country Music Association's vocal duo of the year 15 times! Their song, "Only In America" became a Patriotic favorite in the events following September 11th. I know that saying you're "retiring" this day and age doesn't cause people to hold their breath, but country music will be missing a button on its shirt without these guys. I've been a big fan of the band since I was a child. I can remember dancing with my cowboy hat and boots to some of their tracks. A lot of people shrug their shoulders when you mention the phrase "country music," but these guys made country music popular again in the early 90's. Kix and Ronnie say they aren't done just yet. They plan to release a greatest hits album in September and tour one last time in 2010. Thanks guys, for making country music a little bit brighter over the last 20 years or so....your tunes still impact bars and clubs in towns all across America today.
Monday, August 10, 2009
The high profile low budget science fiction film "District 9" opens this Friday, and what better way to get ready than to watch some other great science fiction films with similar themes?
Here are some of my favorites, listed in no particular order.
"Alien"--the 1979 Ridley Scott classic about a group who stumbles upon an alien life form that makes, well, quite an entrance, may be 30 years old, but still holds its own. A great cast, and moments that will make you jump out of your chair are just two of the reasons to revisit this one. Don't watch it alone. Remember, in space, no one can hear you scream.
"Blade Runner"--now while we may not be dealing with extraterrestrials here, we are talking about an alien life form--robots that look so much like humans they could fool you. They sure got to Harrison Ford. Another excellent piece of work from, once again, director Ridley Scott. Another terrific cast here. Be sure to look out for Edward James Olmos as a detective with a penchant for oragami, along with the always fantastic M. Emmet Walsh.
"The Day The Earth Stood Still"--I'm talking about the original film from 1951 here, not the recent remake. A wonderful film with a powerful message that holds up very well even now.
"E.T."--okay, I'm a sucker for this one. But who doesn't love "E.T."?? Another tale of an alien who comes in peace, only to be manipulated by the government. Be sure to watch it with a box of tissues. You'll need 'em. Steven Spielberg brings out great performances by young Henry Thomas and an even younger Drew Barrymore.
"Close Encounters Of The Third Kind"--aliens spotted all around the globe. What's happening? Leave it to Richard Dreyfuss and company to find out. Spielberg strikes again. Featuring Teri Garr as Dreyfuss' wife, who just can't understand why he needs all those mashed potatoes... French filmmaker Francois Truffaut and the great Bob Balaban round out the cast as alien hunters.
"Starman"--Jeff Bridges comes to earth in the form of Karen Allen's dead husband in this one. A solid story with another top notch cast. Charles Martin Smith is one of the men trying to find Bridges to see just what he's up to.
Just a few recommendations for you. Enjoy! And remember to catch "District 9" in theatres this Friday.
Friday, August 7, 2009
"G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra" hits theaters nationwide today. It's not a big secret that many fans and moviegoers have already stated the bad taste that the preview seems to leave in their mouth...Strike 1. It was revealed this week that Paramount Pictures was not screening the movie to film critics, but instead screening it for soldiers and a couple avid fans....Strike 2. That's already 2 strikes from a movie that has yet to touch solid ground. I'm not ready to give it the 3rd strike just yet. I'm a huge "G.I. Joe" fan. As a kid, my "Joes" would fight off dinosaurs from "Jurassic Park" and "Batman" villians as I played throughout the house. I was super excited when I first heard about the film. After seeing the previews and photos my expectations have lowered a bit. I plan on seeing the film with some fans over the weekend. Even with the "bad press," I'm going in with an open mind. That's what everyone should do with every movie. I know it sounds cliche, but I know people that won't see a movie unless the critics like it. The basic principle....go into a movie with an open mind. It may be a movie that you're forced to see....or a movie that you don't want your friends to know that you've watched. Just remember that everyone has their own opinion and there is no greater one that your own. You don't let people tell you how good their food is...you grab a slice yourself. As far as "G.I. Joe" goes right now....at least Snake Eyes looks pretty cool.
I couldn't help but post my thoughts on the tragic passing of John Hughes. The movies that he created have had a big impact on my life. If I go back, I can pretty much trace my childhood with his movies. Every year I sit down and watch "Christmas Vacation" on Christmas Eve with my family. "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" is what every student (especially me) dreamed of during a high school daze. I still have my "Talkboy" as used by Kevin in "Home Alone 2: Lost In New York." In a time that bigger bangs equal bigger bucks in movies, sometimes it's the simple ones that can leave a big impression on where you're going or where you've been. So, the next time you sit down with a group of family/friends/neighbors to watch a movie, think about picking a John Hughes' title. It will definitely give you a few laughs and might even give you some perspective on things.
He was the king of 80s popcorn movies. "Vacation," "The Breakfast Club," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," and my personal favorite "Planes, Traines, & Automobiles."
Writer/Director John Hughes died Thursday in New York City.
He was the man behind a ton of other movies, including "Home Alone."
You can read a more complete profile by clicking here.
I can remember going with my Dad to see "Planes, Trains, & Automobiles." The movie theatre was packed, and the crowd roared with laughter at some of the ridiculous scenes with Steve Martin and John Candy at the top of their form.
One scene (I can't remember exactly which) had my Dad laughing so hard that he literally said outloud "I can't breathe!" I knew I had picked a winner.
That was Hughes' style of comedy--ensuring the audience had a good time. He will be missed.
So, as we've mentioned before, tonight begins the final season of "Monk."
It's a bittersweet time of reflection for most viewers, as they see a rarity in television ride off into the sunset.
Check out this article from USAToday.com on the final season.
On a personal note, this was one of the rare shows I enjoyed watching with my Mom and Dad. We could all be entertained by good writing and acting, share a good laugh, and have something to talk about without mindless violence or streams of unncessary profanity.
I'll miss "Monk," but am hopeful other shows will be there that families can enjoy together.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
We are on fire with interviews this week!
A special treat for you science fiction fans out there--SyFy has a new original show called "Warehouse 13," and we were lucky enough to be able to talk with one of the show's stars, Saul Rubinek. And don't forget about our interview with "Monk" writer Lee Goldberg, which can also be found below.
Here's what Saul had to say about his experience with "Warehouse 13."
JS: You just got back from Comic-Con in San Diego. What was that experience like?
SR: Comic-Con was a first for me. Overwhelming number of people -- I really had no idea how big an event it is. I was very pleased to see the turn-out at our "Claudia" screening, and at our panel -- almost everyone had seen all three episodes aired so far, that was awesome. I hope to come back next year with full season under our belt (and hopefully already having shot our second season!)
JS: You're a veteran of many different types of TV shows and movies. What drew you to this role in particular?
SR: I think SyFy is the most exciting network on television today. Their collaboration with Universal Cable Productions is energetic and creative. The combination of these two organizations that produce our show gives us the financial and creative depth so necessary to support the ups and downs of a long series run. SyFy want to expand their audience base, and they've chosen Warehouse 13 as their flagship show to coincide with the rebranding of their network.
What could be better? The role! A role like "Artie" only comes along for an actor once a decade or so. The great thing is the producers have allowed me to collaborate and put a lot of myself into the role, and they've reciprocated by finding elements of of Artie's background, rhythms and energy in the way they write and create his backstory and dialogue. Artie is both in love with the warehouse and loathes it... and that make him a little crazy -- all of which is delicious to play. And my colleagues, Eddie McClintock, Joanne Kelly and Allison Scagliotti are awesome -- that's a HUGE part of why I like going to work every day. We have a production team that is truly one of the most professional and expert I've ever had the honor to work with -- they set the bar high every day. One other important thing: Jack Kenny and David Simkins, our Executive Producers have put together a brilliant and enthusiastic writing team -- they are the powerful engine under the hood of this race car.
JS: For people who aren't familiar with it, how would you describe "Warehouse 13"?
SR: For people that aren't familiar with Warehouse 13 -- here's the answer: www.syfy.com/warehouse13 really! you'll get an earful and an EYEful.
JS: Any clues as to what we'll see in upcoming episodes?
SR: Here's some clues: Artie Nielson isn't really Artie NIELSON. Artie has a nemesis.. not only someone who can ruin his day, but someone who could destroy everything the warehouse stands for. Artie may get into trouble -- and there are people who control Mrs Frederick (Artie's boss) who Artie has to answer to -- namely, the Regents, the people who control and oversee the warehouse activities. The regents have done this for 3000 years.
JS: The show has the potential for a long run. Will we continue to see you in movies?
SR: Of course ---I have a mortgage!
Our thanks to Saul Rubinek for taking time to answer these questions, and a special thanks to our SyFy liason at NBCUniversal for helping us out.
Be sure to catch "Warehouse 13" on SyFy every Tuesday night at 8!
Monday, August 3, 2009
This Friday night marks the beginning of the end for the popular television show, "Monk" on the USA network.
This will mark the 8th and final season for the show, featuring Tony Shalhoub as the "defective detective." Shalhoub has won a number of awards for his performance of the character.
I know I won't be alone when the show wraps for good. It has great characters, an excellent cast, and some of the best writing I've seen on television.
It's also something of a rarity; a show you could sit down and watch with your family without fear of embarrassing anyone. You just don't see that anymore.
I had the good fortune to interview Lee Goldberg, a writer for some of the episodes of the show, and the man behind a series of books based on "Monk." You can see the interview below.
JS: This is it, the 8th and final season of "Monk" starts soon. As a writer of some episodes, why do you think viewers were drawn to these characters?
LG: They are drawn to the characters because they are fresh, original, and compelling. And although the characters behave comically, they have heart. And what gives them heart is the essential sadness in their lives. For Monk, it's the loss of his wife and not being able to fit in because of his OCD. For Natalie, it's the loss of her husband at a young age and having to raise a daughter as a single parent. That grounds the comedy is something we can all relate to.
JS: You've worked on some other shows as well, including "Diagnosis Murder," and "Nero Wolfe." How was working on "Monk" different from your other experiences?
LG: "Monk" is more of a comedy than any series I've worked on before. And Monk's character is a balancing act between the broad comedy and the tragedy. It's not easy to pull off.
JS: You're also the author of several novels based on characters from "Monk," and you have a new one out right now, "Mr. Monk And The Dirty Cop." Will the books continue when the series wraps?
LG: There will be at least two more books following the end of the TV series.
JS: What can people look for next from Lee Goldberg?
LG: More Monk! And, hopefully, more books, tv shows and movies.
Our thanks to Lee for answering these questions, and don't forget to tune in this Friday night for the "Monk" season premiere on USA.
These past few weeks I've dived into some heavy reading. "Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire" was first on my list. I followed with "Order of The Phoenix" and "Half-Blood Prince." I wanted to make sure that I've read the books before I watched the latest installment on film. I mowed through the first two books in a matter of weeks. With some luck, I read the whole book of "Prince" in one day (As my roomate put it, I became a reading "Jedi"). People that know me know I'm the last person in the world to brag. I didn't write this blog to boast my reading skills. I just wanted to pass along the joy that I had reading. I know, I know...insert nerd joke here right?? I'm serious though, many people overlook how good books can be in this technology driven world. Many kids (I was one of them) were forced to read a handful of books every month in grade school for an "Accelerated Reader" program. This process has no doubt changed some of my closest friends' thoughts on reading. I'm just glad that I can still sit back in my favorite chair and enjoy "print" every now and then. So, if you find yourself bored one afternoon....or it's raining and your cable is out....try picking up a good book. In a world full of emails, text messages, and tweets, sometimes just a simple thing like a book can be all the entertainment you need. After all, books are about imagination...and imagination is one of the greatest tools you will ever use.