Monday, April 19, 2010

Back In New Armor

Everyone remembers the opening scene to "Iron Man." You see the Marvel logo and then you hear AC/DC's "Back in Black" blaring on the silver screen as the troops and Tony Stark are roaming through the desert. Music is the backbone of any movie. Sometimes you may not remember the song, but you remember how upbeat you felt hearing a certain score/tune while something was happening in a film.

We are just days away from one of the biggest movies of the year, "Iron Man 2." The marketing campaign is in full flight with ads, previews, and products. The "Iron Man 2" soundtrack is now in stores. No, you aren't getting a nice array of artists with up and down songs, you get one of the hardest rocking bands of all-time! AC/DC is teaming up with Stark Industries to release "Iron Man 2." They are polishing up 15 of their popular rock jams, giving them some new armor, and unleashing it for the world to enjoy. Most of the songs are the ones that everybody is familiar with. However, they are a few tracks that might catch your eye. Back in 2008, the band debut their "Black Ice" album with a track called "War Machine." They didn't know it then, but that track would fit perfectly with a certain character in the upcoming blockbuster film. These songs go great with the "Iron Man" world. What better music to listen to when you're beating up bad guys than "Thunderstruck" or "Highway to Hell?"

Soundtracks have come a long way over the past few years. Most of the time you are guaranteed maybe one or two good songs on a normal soundtrack with the rest of the songs just filling in the gaps. You don't have to worry about that with "Iron Man 2." You can turn up these jams, bang your head, and anxiously await Tony Stark to kick some butt!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Conan O'Brien To TBS...Hmmm....

This whole Conan announcement has bothered me, so even though Grant already wrote a nice piece about Conan's new move, I decided to weigh in as well.
First off, let me say that I'm very glad to see Conan's returning to television in any fashion. In a recent podcast, I misspoke when I said he was going to make an announcement in May about a new show on Fox. I received some bad information. However, I do wish Fox could have given him a commitment. I think it would have been a better move in the long run. Fox has proven itself to be a growing network with solid programming.
I don't know why everyone's so thrilled that Conan is headed to TBS. Personally, I'm not. He's got a strong fan base, but there are a lot of strikes against him by going there. He'll start at 10p.m. Monday through Thursday. That's the time when most people will tune into their local news on NBC, ABC, or CBS. He also faces direct competition from "The Daily Show" and Jon Stewart on Comedy Central.
At 10:35, well-established late night talkers "The Tonight Show," and "Late Show With David Letterman" will hit the air, so it's not exactly a slam dunk for Conan.
I predict people will tune in initially to see what the fuss is all about--again, for the novelty effect, but again, it's my firm belief that established programming will overtake any challengers, and that includes O'Brien.
As I've mentioned in previous articles, I was fortunate enough to meet Conan at 30 Rock in New York, see his "Late Night" show in person, and just last year I was on hand to catch his 3rd "Tonight Show" live. He's a terrific talent, and a very nice person, and I wish him all the success in the world. But going to TBS, is I believe, a bad move. Time will tell.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Conan to TBS

The network that airs some of the best comedies over the past 20 years just got an upgrade! For years TBS has been using the slogan: Very Funny. They just took that slogan to whole new level. Conan O'Brien is moving to TBS, ladies and gentlemen. The move is a surprise to many as most people were waiting for FOX to ink the popular late night talk show host. In the end, FOX could not guarantee that every affiliate would be clear for late night so Coco decided to move to cable. Here's a quote from O'Brien: “In three months I’ve gone from network television to Twitter to performing live in theaters, and now I’m headed to basic cable. My plan is working perfectly.”

TBS has been pushing for Conan from the beginning. Ted Turner and company were able to fork out enough dough, power, and even guarantee him his OWN show (which FOX wasn't). Conan's show will start in November. The network will air new episodes 4 out of 5 nights a week (like Jimmy Kimmel or John Stewart). TBS has already renewed "Lopez Tonight" for a second season. George Lopez is thrilled to have Coco as his lead-in every night. This new deal almost closes the book on the Coco saga that has fueled entertainment news over the past few months.

The book isn't finished yet. That's because Conan O'Brien presents "The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour" begins tonight in Eugene, Oregon. The tour is one of the hottest ticket items this Spring. I'm sure Conan will have plenty of jokes about his new gig as he runs across North America.

TBS is with Coco! Click here to see the ad that proves it!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Put These In, Coach!

Major League Baseball season is underway. As sports fans close the book on college basketball and turn towards America's Pastime, I thought I would pass along some of my favorite baseball movies. Baseball can be a very up and down time for many fans across the country. As I watched the Cubs get smoked yesterday, I could at least take comfort knowing that these movies would never leave me with a sour taste in my mouth. Here's the lineup:

"The Natural" - This is probably my favorite sports movie of all-time. Robert Redford gives one of the best performances of his career in my opinion. Glenn Close, Kim Basinger, Wilford Brimley, and Richard Farnsworth also are at the top of their game. The movie is actually being released on Blu-ray today. There's a ton of special features on the director's cut.

"Field of Dreams" - Everyone knows the line, "If you build it, they will will come." Well, this movie keeps me coming back for more every time. This film will tug at your heart and could even bring a tear or two to your eyes. Kevin Costner, Ray Liotta, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, and Burt Lancaster have the ability to take something simple and turn it into something that's truly spectacular.

"61*" - Fans can make great movies. There's no exception when it comes to baseball. Billy Crystal's made for TV movie gives us a look at the 1961 New York Yankees and how their stars would change the game forever. Crystal grew up going to Yankee games and he uses his childhood experience to give us a majestic movie about two heroes and their rise/fall from grace. Barry Pepper is Roger Maris, Thomas Jane plays Mickey Mantle, and look out for Anthony Michael Hall as the great pitcher, Whitey Ford.

"The Pride of The Yankees" - Speaking of the Yankees, you can't mention baseball movies and not throw in this one. Most people have heard the name Lou Gehrig, but don't really know much about him. Gary Cooper plays Gehrig in this 1943 Oscar winner. It still holds up.

"The Sandlot" - Baseball movies can be loads of fun. This movie is the story of a group of kids who spend an entire Summer living/breathing/sleeping/eating baseball. There's sure to be someone in the ensemble cast that you can relate with. Look out for a surprise performance by Denis Leary. James Earl Jones also has a great cameo appearance.

"Major League" - Another fun look at the daily lives of professional baseball players. Plus, who doesn't like a movie that has Bob Uecker as the narrator?

"A League of Their Own" - Who says females can't have their own fun? Also, "There's no crying in baseball." A very good movie with an outstanding cast -- including an appearance by a member of PopSnap! and a cameo of my favorite stadium, Wrigley Field.

These are just a few of my favorite baseball movies. There are so many to name that I'm positive I left a few of the good ones on the bench. Baseball is one of the great things that makes us Americans. Whether you like sports or not, these movies are guaranteed to entertain you in some shape or form and give you a little knowledge in the process.

I hope everyone can take some time this season to enjoy a great tradition. Just put these movies in your DVD or Blu-ray devices.....they're ready to play!

Friday, April 2, 2010


This weekend marks the release of "Clash Of The Titans" in 3D (And 2D). While it boasts an impressive cast list, and certainly a timeless storyline of ancient gods and goddesses, along with fantastical mythological creatures, there's an overriding issue that has cast a pall over the movie: it really wasn't meant to be in 3D.
The film was originally shot in standard 2D, then, wait for it, retrofitted to 3D in the hopes of raking in more dough from moviegoers. So, here's the deal, it was converted into a 3D movie at the last minute, following the success of, you guessed it, that money making machine known as "Avatar."
Now, "Avatar" is a completely different story. It was always meant to be in 3D, was shot specifically with those stereoscopic effects in mind, and meant to be released that way.
Unfortunately, the trend now is, if it isn't in 3D yet, let's do it after the fact. Personally, I think this is a mistake that will ultimately lead to lower film quality. Let's face it, not everything was made to be viewed in 3D. Thankfully, moviegoers will have an option to see these "conversions" in standard form.
Recently, "Alice In Wonderland" proved to be another 3D cash cow. But, again, the movie was not originally produced for 3D. Still, it made a ton of money. And that's obviously the key for studios. If it looks like 3D will pull in the crowds, then let's have more, please.
And that's exactly what you'll get. This year, there are more than a dozen movies scheduled to be released in the 3D format. Some, like "Toy Story 3," (which I'm really looking forward to) were shot for 3D. Others, like Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood," with Russell Crowe, were given the 3D treatment after production had already ended. Check out this article from The New York Times about the proliferation of 3D conversions. So, watch out--don't be fooled into thinking that every movie thrown at you with a nice "3D" marketing campaign is the real deal. And they definitely won't be marketed like this: "Come see the big blockbuster action movie converted to 3D in postproduction!" No. They'll be pushed at you just like a regular 3D movie. Clever, eh? Deceptive, methinks.
To be honest, I think despite the controversy, "Clash Of The Titans" will do well at the weekend box office. I think people will be curious, and that most of them will see it in the retrofitted 3D format. It's the "novelty effect." It's still up against that 3D juggernaut, "How To Train Your Dragon," though.
So, what's next for the 3D bandwagon? Television manufacturers have already released 3D TVs, and certain programming outlets, notably DirecTV, have said they'll begin providing 3D channels starting this summer.
In my opinion, this will go down as one of the biggest blunders in the history of home entertainment. People are just now turning loose of the cash for nice flatscreen LCD televisions. Why on earth would they want to spend money on an unproven electronic device with, for now, an extremely limited amount of programming??
We are, however, witnessing an important shift in the direction of home entertainment. And, even though we may scoff at the idea of 3D televisions in our living rooms, someday in the not too distant future, all of this will be pretty standard stuff. We'll be tuning into holograms for sports coverage, and immersing ourselves in the action of our favorite drama series or sitcom by "living the experience."
I have no doubt that will happen. The technology already exists. And you can bet somewhere in those research and development labs, manufacturers are hard at work to deliver this form of entertainment for your home.
So, while 3D TV may not immediately be a huge hit (even if it crashes and burns, it's still an important step), it will probably eventually take off--maybe not right away, though. I predict that we'll see it become more mainstream in around 5 years. That timeframe will also allow prices to drop, and manufacturers to develop competing technologies.
Kinda fun to think about what comes next, hm?