Musicals

Parker and Stone

Seeing as Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s South Park is still ridiculously popular in its 16th season, they managed to make a puppet movie that was a financial success with Team America: World Police, and their Broadway musical, The Book of Mormon, has sold out an unheard of number of shows in New York, on tour, and now in a production being staged in Chicago, these guys have managed to acquire a pretty big pile of money through serving the public funny filth. One gets visions of them swimming through piles of gold coins, Scrooge McDuck style. After your creative endeavors have netted you as much as $300m, where on Earth do you put all of your money? Well, a rap mogul like Jay-Z would tell you that it’s time to start founding your own companies, taking control of your own product, and cultivating your own personal brand. And, seeing as rap moguls like Jay-Z are the closest things we have to heroes these days, Parker and Stone are about to take this exact path by taking their $300m and using it to form their own content creation studio, Important Studios. The news of this new venture comes from The New York Times, who says that the new company will work on funding projects in television and film, as well as in theater. As might be expected given The Book of Mormon’s Tony wins, the fact that it continues to generate close to $5m a week, and the fact that […]

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If there’s anything I hate most about the Oscars it’s the way the movie awards have the power to influence filmmaking. This time of year it’s more and more difficult to tell if certain films are even meant for us, the audience, or if they should solely be shown to the Academy in exchange for little gold men. Of course, one of the purposes of baiting for Oscars is to receive nominations and especially wins, which will presumably help earn more money at the box office (or, more likely, from the cable outlet). This still excludes satisfying the audience as the primary impulse and objective of making movies. In theory, accolades should indeed motivate Hollywood to make the best pictures they could possibly make. There’s still something to be said for art being the best when not aiming for praise and prizes, but in terms of studio product, which is more craft and entertainment than art and expression, such goals can be positive inspiration. Without the Oscars we probably still would have seen a profit-aiding progression of special effects technology and artistry, but surely some production values have improved over time as a result of sound recordists and costume designers and art directors and composers and songwriters striving to be known as the best in their field.

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Susan Boyle

The sort of fame that comes from appearing on reality television can be fleeting. Remember Puck, the filthy bike messenger who put his finger in Pedro’s peanut butter on MTV’s The Real World? No? Let’s go with something more recent. How about Richard Hatch, the manipulative nudist from CBS’ Survivor? Still no? Omarosa, that bitch from The Apprentice? William Hung, that Ricky Martin wannabe from American Idol? At one point these people were the darlings of popular culture, and now their names conjure up barely a glimmer of recognition. Hopefully for Fox Searchlight the name Susan Boyle is recent enough that it’s still at the tips of everyone’s brains though, because Deadline Hollywood is reporting that they’ve just signed off on a deal that gives them the rights to her life story. It turns out that, in the time since her revelatory 2009 performance on Britain’s Got Talent, where she taught the world that even people who aren’t 16-year-old girls with hair extensions can sing, Boyle has been spending her time doing things like cutting albums and signing deals to have a stage musical about her life story made.

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Junkfood Cinema - Large

Editor’s Note: This week, Brian is busy shoving hotdogs into his mouth to prepare for Comic-Con. We asked how that would help, but he hung up on us, so I’m writing this week’s entry. Enjoy! Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema. You’re welcome. Our weekly dive into the gluttonous, saturated fat-saturated world of questionable movies has taken a detour into the educational this week, but it won’t be boring like a high school calculus class. It’ll be far worse than that. Why? Because we’ll be dissecting to death a piece of trash blowing about the graffiti-lined streets of some big city in the 1980s. We’ll rip out its guts, toss its sexual organs under a microscope, but then, yes then, we’ll get to its heart. And at its heart, we’ll learn the true meaning of dance. Or something. We will lift it up on the highest pedestal possible because Lorenzo Lamas will have taught us what it really means to keep it real. That’s right. This week’s unhealthy portion is the sweaty, 1984 breakdancing opus known as Body Rock.

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Being a child of the ’80s and a pre-adolescent product of rock n’ roll’s most fashion-concerned era (you would, in no way, find pictures of me at age six with self-slit blue jeans) Rock of Ages should have been a warm-hearted nostalgia trip for me to a time where bad boys wore girl’s aerobic outfits underneath leather jackets with sapphires and rhinestones, girls had poodle ‘fros and chewed lots of bubble gum, and we both bonded over our love for all songs that just said rock a lot; and the more often the word was repeated in the song the more it was good. Having been adapted from a popular stage production, and helmed by a director who did a splendid job with Hairspray, I expected a tongue-in-cheek romp that would have me struggling to refrain from jumping out of my seat and throwing my fists in the air chanting that I wasn’t gonna take it. After about ten minutes I really was struggling to refrain from jumping out of my seat and throwing my fists, because I really wanted to stop taking it.

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Little Shop of Horrors is a story about a man-eating plant that’s been around for quite a while. It started off as a silly Roger Corman movie from the early ’60s, but even before that, Corman’s work is thought to have been inspired by a John Collier story called “Green Thoughts” from the ’30s. What most of us probably think of as Little Shop of Horrors comes from the ’80s, however. In 1982 Alan Menken and Howard Ashmen wrote a stage musical based on Corman’s black comedy, and then in 1986 Frank Oz directed a film version of their musical. As strange and campy as it is, Oz’s version of Little Shop still has quite a few fans to this day, so would it be considered an atrocity for someone to remake it? Maybe not, because, according to THR, the someone who’s newly responsible for trying to get a remake of Little Shop together is none other than Internet darling Joseph Gordon-Levitt. That guy’s so cute and talented, we can’t be mad at him, can we?

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Drinking Games

It’s been 50 years since West Side Story made the big plié to the silver screen, destined to win ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Now, it’s getting its first ever Blu-ray release to commemorate its 50th anniversary. Yeah, it’s not the most realistic look at New York street gangs. Gang members are not that clean cut, and they do tend to carry more dangerous weapons than wrenches and belts. But this is a slice of American cinematic history. So pick a side – Jets or Sharks – and spend some time with one of the most famous musicals Hollywood ever made.

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It’s hard to believe that Robert Preston, who owned the role of flim-flam man Harold Hill, had to wait until Cary Grant turned it down in order to be asked for the part. Thankfully, Grant passed. Oddly enough, Warners’ first choice was Frank Sinatra (which definitely would have been interesting), but Meredith Wilson (who wrote the music) demanded Preston’s presence in order to make the movie version. The result is an incredible musical that focuses on the long con, a sweet librarian, and the letter T.

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West Side Story is a beloved musical, but it also won a ridiculous 10 Oscars (including Best Picture). It was a dominating feature in its day and continues to be. It was the first directorial effort for Jerome Robbins who co-directed with icon Robert Wise (they shared the Best Director award), and it’s full of memorable lines, songs, and moments. Starring Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno, Russ Tamblyn, a few sharks and a few jets – it was a massive New York City production that delayed the demolition of buildings in order to shoot its opening dance sequence (on a spot where the Lincoln Center now stands). It was a bold endeavor that yielded some equally bold results.

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If you were curious as to what military personnel did in the tropics, it’s mostly fall in love and talk about how being over 50 doesn’t mean that the sex has to stop. And then they sing about it. It’s the best way to pass the time during dangerous missions in WWII. This type of movie was the bread and butter of director Joshua Logan, who also wrote and directed Mister Roberts and Ensign Pulver. Who says the war couldn’t have its fair share of comedy?

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Busby Berkeley biographer Jeff Spivak joins us to talk in-depth about the movie icon’s life and art. From his early days of being born into the theater, to his success with 42nd Street and Footlight Parade, to his tragic car accident that threatened to derail his career (and his freedom), we cover it all. Or at least as much as possible. The guy was prolific. Fan of musicals? Fan of Buzz? Fan of just plain being entertained? Then this one’s for you. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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This Sunday, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, author of “Buzz: The Life and Art of Busby Berkeley,”  Jeffrey Spivak, will be my guest as we discuss the rise to fame of iconic director and choreographer Busby Berkeley. This innovator of musical theater was part of countless films, including 42nd Street, Footlight Parade and the Gold Diggers movies. We’ll get a chance to see just how golden the Golden Age of Hollywood really was. That’s right. With comic book movie news flying all over the place and Sundance starting up, we’ll be talking in-depth about a man who died over thirty years ago. That’s just how we roll. Classic movie fans, be sure to join us for Reject Radio this Sunday at 10pm EST/7pm PST for what promises to be a lively, feather boa-filled discussion.

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Green Day: American Idiot

Green Day’s “American Idiot” album is about to open as a Broadway musical on April 20, but before the curtain rises plans are underway to turn the musical adaptation into a film. According to Deadline New York, the film will be produced by Tom Hanks Playtone productions with partner Gary Goetzman.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we decide never to do the show ever again in 2009.

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published: 04.18.2014
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published: 04.17.2014
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published: 04.17.2014
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published: 04.17.2014
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