8/27/09

This one goes to eleven *points at self*

What a week, a whirlwind of a first week at grad school. Also, we leave for Florida tomorrow to film "Park Geeks" this weekend, so I had to write my Friday column early.


Times of transition have never been easy for me, and all I can say is that I thank my lucky stars that I have so much to do that it makes my head spin. I can remember a time when I was a bored geek, bored and lonely. Now I have so many projects going, there literally aren't enough hours in the day. My internal clock is so confused, I'm up at all hours of the day and night. Did you know that WGN shows Star Trek: Next Gen at 1:00 a.m.? I do. Because I never sleep. I'm like some nerdy vampire, sucking the life out of all the pop culture around me just to stay alive.

This will be an interesting semester for sure...something will have to give. I'll have to quit something sooner or later, narrow my focus, or go insane.

Too late...



Seriously, how much did Freddie Mercury look like Ben Stiller from, "Zoolander" in that video? Funny, eh? This next one's for BSU, in one of a million clips that I could choose from, "Spinal Tap" this morning that would be eerily relevant, including anything from the song, "Hell Hole" or the iconic scene from the airport.



Oh what the heck, one more Spinal Tap. Taphead FOR LIFE!

8/21/09

Werewolves Aplenty

Werewolves have been something of a theme in my life for a couple of years now. My husband had an idea for a werewolf-comedy screenplay in 2005. He has since written several drafts, shot some test material, and we've recently finished a shooting draft which we're considering attempting to shoot this fall. If that doesn't work, it will be next fall. We shot this as a test in 2007 to see if the idea would float.

The Wolfman's Brother


But that's not as far as werewolves go in my life. One of my sisters has recently completed a book, also a werewolf comedy entitled, "Weregrannies", and it's brilliantly funny. We're working together on the finishing touches, editing and what-not, and hopefully I'll be getting a hard copy to her sometime in the next couple of weeks. So I'm spending hours daily with werewolves at the moment, which I am enjoying and which is driving them even further into my psyche.

How we arrived at this common theme is no mystery, my sisters and I grew up watching, "Silver Bullet", "The Howling", "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman", "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (Which has the Wolfman in it.) and all of the classic black and white Werewolf and monster movies. My personal favorite was, and still is 1941's, "The Wolfman" starring Lon Chaney Jr. He is the definitive Wolfman in my eyes.

Jake also grew up loving the idea and managed to mine the myth for metaphors on puberty and family, the resulting script is funny and strangely poignant. More poignant than you would think a werewolf comedy could be really...

So when word got out that Joe Johnston, longtime Spielberg collaborator, was going to be doing a Wolfman film set to release in early 2010, needless to say I was incredibly excited.

You have to understand, monster movies aren't sacred ground the way some other films are. Remakes and sequels to monster movies are par for the course and always have been. The studio system pumped them out at a very quick pace back in the days of the old black and whites, if something was a hit, you can bet you'd be seeing that monster again very soon.

What's so appealing about werewolves? Everything. The very idea that human beings are really monsters just waiting to turn on their fellow humans is an idea riddled with significance and it's not too far from the truth. What's our number one insult to a fellow human? "You're just an animal!" The very thought of a werewolf brings not only deep terror, but also plenty of comic possibilities.

Though there's nothing funny about the upcoming Wolfman remake. It looks to be quite serious in tone. I'm excited about the movie, I'm more than pleased with the casting, but I'm also a little nervous. As a lover of classic monster movies, I was also excited about 2004's "Van Helsing". But that was a big dissapointment to me personally. I was so dissapointed in the movie that I actually lack the energy to even tell you why. I rented it once hoping I was wrong in the theater, but I didn't make it all the way through to the end without realizing that I did in fact hate it with the fire of a thousand suns.

So cross your fingers, brush up on your wolflore, and watch the new trailer here...



"Werewolf?"

"There wolf...there castle."

"Why are you talking that way?"

"I thought you wanted me to."

-Young Frankenstein

8/16/09

A Plethora of Funs

There's no better way to start a week than by watching a kicky little montage of some of the best scenes from, "The Three Amigos". What's the reason? There is no reason! This is the joy of owning your own blog my friends...



If that didn't make you smile, you're dead inside.

Now go have a good week. Or else I'll post more montages.

8/14/09

"Let's all go to the movies."

Here's what's out this weekend, with a special emphasis on films you may not have heard of yet.

READ THE FRIDAY RELEASE REPORT HERE



Happy Friday everyone! I'll be spending the afternoon and evening on one of those very exciting, super-secret projects...my sister's first book! But that's all I can say for now. But let's turn this into a Friday Night Videos, shall we? Yes, lets do!

How about in celebration of the new Friday Release Report tradition, we watch some more of those snazzy invitations to go to the lobby?!



Got milk?



Say, that reminds me of this PSA that played ALL THE TIME when I was a kid. Remember, Time for Timer?



And THAT reminds me of the EPCOT show also from my childhood, "Food Rocks". Jake and I watched this recently expecting to really laugh at how dumb it probably was...and it was quite witty. No wonder I have such fond memories of it. Enjoy! This is only part one, but part two comes up after part one as a choice for you to click on next.



My favorite? Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" turned into, "High Fiber". Wow, I could go with this dancing food thing all day long. But for the sake of your time, I'll avoid posting the other dancing food classic, "Lunch Lady Land" by Adam Sandler from Saturday Night Live.

Oh okay, one more...it has been a long time since I posted "Friday Night Videos".

8/10/09

Park Geeks News

Our show, all about being a HUGE geek for theme parks, is really taking off! We'll begin filming full episodes at the end of this month and creating our first official full season of programming, due for release in Spring 2010.

Our first stop? The Magic Kingdom, of course! We'll be filming in Orlando at the end of this month. Because a single episode involves so much work, we'll just be tackling one park at a time, and Disney World is so vast that we only have time in the production schedule for one park this first trip out.

We've recently been featured at Screamscape.com, ThemeParkReview, and more! Everyone is responding well to the show and people are getting in contact with us about wanting to collaborate, from Australia to England! Which really encourages us to keep going. We're first going to focus on the guest experience, and then in season two, we'll begin to take you behind the scenes at some of your favorite attractions!

I always wanted there to be a show (and a network) that would have enough programming and be enough fun for me, that would feature content I wanted to watch that was detailed and focused enough on theme parks. It didn't exist, so we decided to make it ourselves! All the support generated on the previews/pilot alone and the impending launch of Theme Park Channel is very exciting!

Thanks to everyone for their support, we're going to give you a GREAT show!!!

Check out our YouTube Channel for a small taste of what the show will be like, though we've already made many changes!

If you doubt our complete and total lack of coolness...check this out. (We're not kidding about the show name.)

"Park Geeks" pilot webisode blooper reel from Jake Williams on Vimeo.

Results of the Haunted Mansion Slumber Party!

I KNEW IT!!! Guess who shows up FIRST??? If you want to see footage from the entire night, I found a YouTube Channel that posted almost everything. It's HERE.



Thank you so much to "Inside the Magic" for posting this video. I tried with all my might to stay up until 3 am and watch the live web feed, but I only made it to 2:30is.

8/9/09

Happy Birthday Haunted Mansion


You're 40, but "you haven't aged a day". I wish I could be with you on your big day, but I know you'll have lots of guests to celebrate. I'll save our next visit for when we can really chat...

A radio station down in Florida held a contest to promote the anniversary, and some lucky listeners will be spending the NIGHT in the mansion tonight and Disney has promised that they will not be alone! They've installed a webcam, and they're strongly encouraging people to be watching around Midnight tonight. It's very exciting!

Here's the link if your curiosity gets the better of you, it was passed on to me by the fellas from the "Inside the Magic" podcast. My money is on an appearance by Gus, Phineas, and Ezra, the famous hitchhiking ghosts! Who do you think will be there? On a scale of 1 to 10, how jealous are you of the folks who get to do this? I'm on a big fat level 10! Can you even imagine being let loose in the Haunted Mansion for the evening???










I welcome any foolish mortals to read my complete and total geek-outs over my favorite ride in the most recent issue of Haunted Attraction Magazine, June's Geek Monthly, an upcoming article in Orlando Attractions Magazine, this older interview with the Holiday Overlay Ghost Host voice, Corey Burton for Animation World Magazine, and if you want to see pictures of our time at the Swinging Wake in Disneyland (A party for Haunted Mansion lovers hosted by Doombuggies.com), just ask or friend me on Myspace or Facebook.

I also highly encourage anyone and everyone to visit the incredible fanpage for the Mansion, http://www.doombuggies.com/. There are banners at the bottom of my page and a couple of the right side as well, you could spend hours there on all the amazing behind-the-scenes goodies, trivia, photos and history!

8/6/09

Thank You, John Hughes


I just heard the news of John Hughes passing a few minutes ago. I'm surprised, mostly because he was so young, but also because he's been out of the public consciousness for a while. I mean, he can't ever really leave the public consciousness, his footprint will always be there even if his films aren't topically at the forefront of any discussions. Why? Because his movies were so unique in tone.

He's an inspiration to me because he was from Michigan, and he wasn't ashamed of it! I know that sounds like a joke, but Mid-Westerners who manage to grow up and work in film are always an inspiration to me. Especially when they find a way to weave the Mid-West into their stories so lovingly, the way Hughes did in so many of his movies. Heck, Mid-Westerners who do anything that adds to their community have my vote. (Garrison Keillor.) John Hughes was like the Tommy Boy of filmmaking.

So many people jump ship to try and "make it" in the industry and they never look back, or when they do it's in a very, "thank God I'm out of there" condescending way. Trust me, I've tried to jump ship a dozen times. But the older I get, the more I realize "making it" has nothing to do with where you live. Not anymore. No such thing as a centrally located film industry, i.e. no excuses based on where you live. Anyway...

Hughes' movies were so refreshingly unpretentious. They were movies about characters that were believable in every way. They looked believable, they talked the way you and I talk, and they experienced the same problems that we do too. Nowadays, most films are cast almost entirely with modelesque actors, not that there's anything wrong with beautiful. But I think that Hughes insistence at casting character actors (Catherine O'Hara, John Candy, Daniel Stern, etc.) gave his movies more weight with the American public.

He wrote most of what he directed as well, which is doubly admirable to me, because it meant that he was determined to see his own vision through to the end of the process. A very brave choice and a risky one at that. As a filmmaker, it means that if you succeed, you do so on your own two feet. But if you fail, you're extremely vulnerable, and there's nobody to blame but yourself. I love risk-takers.

His films for and about teenagers didn't patronize anyone. They didn't paint a picturesque version of those sometimes terrible, and always tumultuous, years. But they didn't exploit them either. He wasn't showing teen escapades to shock and he never went after a hard R. He was just showing the full spectrum of teenagers in the 80s. Sure, sometimes he went for pure fun, but those (Weird Science) were tame compared to today's dark tales of teen debauchery.

And just like in real life, sometimes life as a teen is funny or sad or heartbreaking or confusing. And he had a way of making movies that managed to bottle all that complexity of theme into an hour and a half package that entertained you, left you feeling grateful for your own life, friends and family, but without the need to poke and prod you to tears. John Hughes was never manipulative.
He created some sequences and I actually don't know how he got away with them, just sheer skill I guess. Like the float scene from, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off".

He was also a prolific writer, responsible for several endearing domestic comedies that also told the tale of family life, like, "Mr. Mom".

Then there was "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" and "Home Alone", his holiday classics. They had all of the same qualities, only this time Hughes entertained us with live action Looney Tunes versions of what happens to a man trying to get back to his family and a little boy left alone at Christmas.

And there it was again at the end of those films, the need to turn to whoever you were with and just hug them. He had a very populist way of making people feel great after watching his movies without hitting them over the head with the idea. And of course, I was a kid when these came out...so there's a little soft spot in there just due to my memories of seeing, "Home Alone" at the Village Theater.

John Hughes made positive movies that didn't feel forced, movies you could watch with your kids (Mostly, some had quite a bit of bad language. But even those didn't sound so bad, like when someone with an English accent curses.) without worrying. I wonder if that would even be possible today. Today critics like us would probably bash a film like that to pieces calling it unrealistic and cheesy. I hope that's not true, but I suspect that it is.

He had an innocent way of portraying the world and life through his films that was completely grounded. It wasn't a phony greeting card innocence, it was a connection to childhood and the teen years.

They were almost like public service announcements reminding adults to be compassionate toward their children, that whatever troubles they're going through, they're very real to the kids experiencing them. Whether the adults were to see them as big or small didn't matter, Hughes was there to remind adults that kids were people too. Whether it was a fear of the furnace or dealing with abusive relationships, Hughes made them all feel real on screen. His movies were an exercise in perspective, especially, "The Breakfast Club", but that theme was present throughout them all, even, "Uncle Buck".

Hughes was always emphasizing becoming a better person by staying attached and committed to your community, usually your family, but not always. He made so many movies about how getting closer to those around you is beneficial, even when it makes you uncomfortable. Especially when it makes you uncomfortable. There was also almost always a "standing up for the little guy" theme. He was sort of like a modern day Frank Capra.

Then there was the humor. Aside from all my sappy meanderings, I can tell you that the time I've laughed the hardest in my entire life is at the "Fuller, go easy on the Pepsi" scene from, "Home Alone". Everything about that scene is pitch perfect, the family chaos especially. But when Fuller gets his little face squished behind that chair...I must've rewound our tape a hundred times to see that. I guess it was the brain of a writer/editor appreciating nuances at an early age.

And really, how quotable are his films? "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" has got to be one of the most quoted films of all time. Even in that movie, there were deeper messages about teens and their susceptibility to incredible stress and pressure.

His movies were magic in a way, magic in a different way than we're used to now. Because they felt so real when you watched them. They were funny, yes. But they weren't, set-up, joke, set-up, joke, funny. But they just felt like they could've been home movies or mixed-in memories from your own life...only more entertaining.

I hope that a mix of his knack for authenticity will inspire future filmmakers to return to movies that feature more real-looking people, more "funnier than you could come up with on your own" moments of humor, and maybe a little bit of a return to true populism.

Thank You John Hughes! For your iconic additions to so many of our childhoods and teen years, for attempting to translate between kids and adults, for all the laughs, and for making films in your very own backyard. We appreciate everything you did!




Jay Sherman of, "The Critic"

This is the name of our new (new to us, anyway) computer. We arrived at the moniker as Jake was cycling through his possible name choices...the two front runners were Galactus and Prometheus. Fine choices, but a little pretentious for every day use I think.

When he said Prometheus however, it reminded me of Jay Sherman's student film, of which the last line involves the name, "Prometheus". I started thinking about it and realized that Jay Sherman is a great name for a used computer. Hopefully it will work hard, it may not be the most attractive thing out there, but it's consistent. That's all we really need. (Our laptop is named Majel, after Majel Barret Roddenberry, actress and voice of the computer from Star Trek.)





There's always room for more Jon Lovitz in life.

Honestly, that show was cancelled far too early.

Futurama Returns Intact

You may have noticed that the petition to stop Fox from re-casting the voice-over actors on Futurama has been removed. This is because FOX quit bluffing once they saw how adamant we all were about not watching the show without Billy West, John Di Maggio, Katey Sagal, Maurice LaMarche, Tress MacNeille, and more.

Or the actors decided to settle for less money...

Either way, I don't care. Futurama is coming back for two more seasons with everyone on board. You may all now breathe a collective sigh of relief.

8/3/09

Famous Female Duos of Film and Television

I've been thinking a lot lately about famous female fictional friendships. It seems like we have endless male buddy comedies out there, but iconic female friendships don't seem to show up nearly as often in the media. I'm not going to start leading a crusade for more female buddy comedies or anything, but I have been wondering why we don't see them more often.

It's a shame to me that there aren't more. In fact, it seems to me lately that female friendships are under attack in the entertainment industry. With all the crummy reality television on MTV showing girls rolling their eyes at each other and sneering over "stolen" boyfriends and the hideously unrealistic (and Dynasty-like) Gossip Girl hogging the airwaves, I'm completely fed up.

I visited with my 13 year old niece last week and noticed that almost all of her friends seemed to be boys. When I asked her why, she started talking to me about how almost all of her girlfriends are backstabbers and proceeded to tell me horror stories of the way girls that age are treating each other. I know I'm old, because I was completely shocked.

Lots of angry phone calls, unrealistic demands, and being "cussed out". Now I know girls will be girls, and fights are inevitable, especially at that age. But when I was 13, all I had were my girlfriends. Boys were what we talked about and they were fun to see at social gatherings, but we didn't count on them. We counted on each other. I hate to say this, because it doesn't give the kids enough credit, but they really are like little sponges and they do imitate what they see. I wonder, are girls today more hostile toward each other because of what they see in the media?

I know, "blame the media" is an easy answer, and it's one I've rejected adamantly in the past. But come on...outside of PBS and a handful of shows and networks, is there any intelligent television going on right now? I know this will get me skewered or told that I "don't get it", but when shows with misogynistic content like, "Two and a Half Men" and, "Family Guy" can be seen on Saturday mornings and every day in the afternoon...some wrong messages about femininity and relationships are bound to slip into their consciousness somewhere. Kids have a very literal understanding of the world they see.

Now I realize that this makes me sound like I'm about to break into a story about how I had to walk 2 miles barefoot in the snow to school each day. I don't mean to get all geriatric on the issue. I think it's great that my niece can have friends of both genders, so that has nothing to do with my fears. It's quite progressive, and she's so sweet and diplomatic, that it doesn't surprise me at all. She's easy to be friends with.

But I fear for this generation of women. As if adolescence isn't tough enough to navigate, now they have the internet to deal with, and non-celebrity female role models like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, vapid acts like the Pussycat Dolls and more. That's not even touching the complexities of the Disney teen machine, disturbing trends like "sexting", and more.

Mixed messages and pressure to grow up too fast have always been around, now those problems are only exacerbated by the over-saturation of media in these kids' lives. TV regularly tells me that girls today are supposed to be spray-tanned into oblivion, talk with that strange baby-doll accent, make sarcastic faces at each other, text constantly, be skinny, and so many more falsities. It's scary.

So I'm searching for movies and TV shows centered around the subject matter of realistic or healthy female friendships, preferably containing a wide spectrum of women. There was kind of a female friendship boom for a couple of decades in television, but since then, not much.

As my nieces grow up, I find myself wincing at the world that greets them, especially in entertainment. I want to call them every day and just say, "It's not true, that's not how life really is." I wish I could just put them on a steady diet of Tina Fey, playing, "Mean Girls" on loop.

Alas, they're stuck with all the junk. I don't know what I would've done growing up or what I would do now without my friends, and I'd hate to think that they would miss out on those life-changing friendships because of the pressure to imitate the hostilities they see in the media.

So I'm compiling this list. Please help me add to it...

Laverne and Shirley - Laverne and Shirley

One of the best all-time TV female friendships. They lived and worked together and did whatever it took to get by, having an absolute ball in the process. Some of my best times in life were when I was the most poor and living with some my roomates. So not only was the show comedy gold, it taught a good lesson.

Thelma and Louise - Thelma and Louise

Okay, so they were a touch disfunctional. Maybe not the best example for young girls today...

Lucy and Ethel - I Love Lucy

No matter how wacky things got, Lucy and Ethel stuck together, and Ethel always supported Lucy. No matter how hairbrained the scheme.

Romy and Michelle - Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion

They're living in their own little world. But it's just a reminder that sometimes being around someone you know so well makes it safe for your weird side to come out, leading you further down the path to being yourself and discovering what you want to do with your life.

Troi and Crusher - Star Trek: The Next Generation

What are the two female members of a Federation Starship bridge crew to do? Bond of course. They exercised together, hung out in Ten Forward, and shared all the dish on their personal lives. Friendship in space...just as rewarding.

Carla and Elliot - Scrubs

One of the only current friendships to be found on television today, and a steady one at that.

Kate and Allie - Kate and Allie

Remember this one? It was sort of like the odd couple, but for single women with children. I experienced it entirely through re-runs as a kid, and though my memory is a bit rusty...I recall some heartwarming moments.

Cagney and Lacey - Cagney and Lacey

Solving crime. Together. Enough said.

Faith and Kate - Only You
This is just about as close to a female "road to" buddy picture as I've ever found. The writing is funny, the women in the film are unique and interesting, flawed and clumsy. You can thank the highly intelligent auteur Bonnie Hunt for this underrated flick.

Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, and Sophia - The Golden Girls

The best thing about the friendships portrayed on this show? They were real. There were fights and misunderstandings, but in the end friendship always won out. (And comic hilarity ensued.)