Film Surf Report: In Praise of LaLa Land And Singing While Stuck On The 405 Freeway

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Santa Monica, CA — Sometimes, ya just need to see a “happy” film.  For me, that film is LaLa Land which was nominated for a record-tying 14 Academy Awards. I saw an advance screening in November courtesy of KCRW Radio and have been breaking into song ever since.  (Apologies, Neighbors.)

Old-fashioned yet contemporary, LaLa Land is my favorite film of 2016. The Lionsgate musical just worked for me on every level: Bad Auditions. Hollywood Parties. Piano Bars. Throw in a very charismatic debut performance from John Legend. Add a story twist/nod to Sliding Doors.  This movie had me from its fantastic opening scene:  A traffic jam on a congested LA freeway and Another Day of Sun.

Trailer for LaLa Land

We all need to feel Joyful every once and while, yes? As a resident of Los Angeles, Damien Chazelle’s film strikes several chords for me (pun intended):

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Ryan Gosling in Hermosa Beach.

  • It’s set in LA!  That’s the Hermosa Pier upon which the charming Ryan Gosling croons and dances.  I surf there.  Los Angeles has never looked so appealing.
  • Traffic is somehow made Joyous.  How I long to do this on the crowded 405 Freeway at rush hour:  Just get out of the car and burst into song along with the million other drivers not carpooling or taking public transportation.
  • Piano.  I have one.  It’s both old AND out of tune. After seeing LaLa Land, I am getting it tuned and heading back to lessons at Santa Monica College.  My most recent piano tuner has died.  It’s been THAT long.
  • Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling sing and dance like non-Broadway people do.  I like their authentic “realness.”  I don’t want or require perfect pitch or tapping.  Just pleasurable.  They nail it.  Chazelle and composer Justin Hurwitz discuss their casting process with Kim Masters on KCRW’s The Business, where we learn that at one point, Miles Teller (Whiplash) and Emma Watson were nearly signed to star:

KCRW’s The Business

la-la-land-damien-and-emma    la-la-land-roomies

  • Ryan Gosling plays the piano.  He studied for four months.  I like that. I cannot fathom the nerves he must have felt while shooting this film which must of been something akin to juggling while singing, and then dancing.  Here is a link to a terrific KCRW interview on The Treatment, hosted by Elvis Mitchell, featuring Gosling and Chazelle:

The Treatment Featuring Chazelle and Gosling

  • Hotel piano bars are suddenly very appealing.  I have staked out the perfect lounge in which to play and to sing once I’ve shaken the rust from hands and pipes.  Oh, you’ll get an invite.
  • Hollywood parties are weird.  I recognized myself in the bathroom scene at the party in the Hills where Emma Stone locks herself in the lavatory, looks into the mirror and thinks What the f*ck am I doing here?  I experienced this very sensation quite recently.  Chazelle and Stone discuss this scene, at length, via Vulture.com:

That Tricky Hollywood Party Scene

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  • I have been humming City of Stars for months.  I do not envy whomever sings it as the Oscars.  Am curious to see if Gosling and Stone attempt it.  KCRW DJ Chris Douridas is a fan as well, debuting the music on his Saturday night show.  Clearly, my favorite public radio station has embraced this movie, which no one wanted to make.

City of Stars (featuring Gosling & Stone)

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Epilogue – LaLa Land (Justin Hurwitz)

Soundtrack – Extended Version

N E X T    U P:

Why Deadpool Deserved Best Picture & Adapted Screenplay Nominations — #GameChanger #Influencer

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TV Surf Report: Family Comedies & Dramas In Heavy Development

this-is-us-babies      fuller-house

Santa Monica, CAThis Is Us is unquestionably an Influencer when it comes to the new crop of scripts in development at the networks and streaming services:  An innovative, deeply moving Family Drama that has captured a loyal viewing audience, after airing only 10+ episodes.

Yesterday, NBC picked up This Is Us for two more seasons of 18 episodes each, which is a huge vote of confidence for a creative and ratings success.  Expect all programmers to take note, shouting down their respective hallways, Where’s our version of This Is Us, dammit?!

Studios, production companies and writers are ready to answer the call.  Expect a lot of Family Comedy and Drama pilots to be greenlighted.  Hot Dads, ready your engines!

this-is-us-beth-and-randall    one-day-at-a-time-netflix

Equally as influential is Netflix’s successful re-boot of Full House, now in production on the Family Comedy’s third season.  The streaming service’s well-reviewed Latina re-boot of One Day At A Time is also garnering lots of attention.

Family, it would seem, is an evergreen development genre.  But, that’s no surprise.  What’s new is the freedom to explore the infinite possibilities of What Makes A Family.  New keywords are:  mixed race, unconventional, political, and nostalgic.

Credit current network stalwarts such as Blackish and Fresh Off the Boat (diversity) as well as The Goldbergs (nostalgic) and The Middle (traditional). Family is funny.

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Here are a few heavy hitters to be aware of:

  • Felicity Huffman has a pilot order for Libby & Malcolm, a political family comedy, at ABC.  Courtney B. Vance co-stars as two opposing political pundits marry and share a home.  Kenya Barris & Vijal Patel (black-ish)script and executive produce with Huffman.
  • Fred Savage has sold a mixed race family comedy at NBC.
  • LeBron James and Bill Lawrence (Scrubs) have set up a Cleveland-based family comedy at NBC.
  • Melissa McCarthy has set up an unconventional family comedy at Fox.
  • Elizabeth Banks has set up Something to Celebrate, a family comedy at CBS.
  • Kerry Washington sold Melting Potts, a blended family comedy at ABC.
  • Will & Grace has been ordered for a 10-episode revival at NBC. The groundbreaking Odd Couple knockoff evolved into a non-traditional family comedy that, I predict, will get very political.
  • Sofia Vergara has set up The Classic, a multi-cultural family football drama at ABC.
  • Charmed gets re-booted at The CW with a different set of sisters and a new decade, the ’70s.
  • The Honeymooners gets updated at CBS.

 

 

N E X T    U P:

Notes From Park City.

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TV Surf Report: Sherlock — When Great Series Jump The Shark (Or Has It?)

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Santa Monica, CA — (Updated 18 January 2017)

Oh, Sherlock.  Or rather, Oy! Sherlock!  I fear my favorite television series of the last five years has succumbed to the inevitable:  Sherlock has Jumped. The. Shark.

PBS’ Masterpiece aired the Series 4 premiere episode on New Years Day…and I was there.  Appointment Television is not yet dead.

The Six Thatchers is not Sherlock at its best, I am sorry to report.

Sherlock: The Six Thatchers

It would be easy to blame the arrival of baby Rosie, however, that would be making a fictitious infant the scapegoat of what happens to all successful series in the latter years of exceptional storytelling:  They become aware of themselves.

So aware, that series co-creator Mark Gatiss’ former light touch at dropping the necessary red herrings becomes quite heavy handed.  And yet, the birth of a baby is never a good sign for a great series. (Looking at you, Once Upon A Time.)

Sherlock. Knows. What. It. Is.

The latest episode, which is the first of three airing as part of Series 4, feels like diluted Fan Fiction: Overly familiar. Annoyingly comedic. Unsatisfying.

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The latest incarnation of Mary Watson has been terrific…up until Now.  Amanda Abbington’s portrayal has been fantastic, but it’s not her fault that Mary’s new Past as a super spy catches up with her (and Dr. Watson and Sherlock) in The Six Thatchers.

As foretold in the Prologue, the grim figure of Death awaits.  But, for whom:  Mary? Sherlock? The Series?

The highly unsatisfying conclusion (involving an incredibly lame villain) sets up a darker tone for the next two episodes, which hopefully, pays off the central mystery of the promised return/resurrection of Moriarty who presumably killed himself in Series 3 and has planned a posthumous Game.

Something’s coming.  Maybe it’s Moriarty. Maybe, it’s not.

Now, the writers have saddled Martin Freeman’s John Watson with not only a baby (Murphy Brown flashback, anyone?) but also, a guilty conscience.  Poor Molly and Mrs. Hudson, now they have to make tea and look after a baby as Holmes and Watson head outdoors to investigate Sherlock’s personal demons, whom we are told are after him.

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This latest episode, which don’t get me wrong, is still Good TV, makes the time-bending The Abominable Bride now look like the high point in the Series.

I fear it’s all downhill from here for Sherlock. Death awaits.

Series star Benedict Cumberbatch has a new franchise in Marvel’s Dr. Strange following the phenomenal success of the character’s Origin Story feature release in 2016.  The character will next appear in Thor: Ragnorak (November) as well as Infinity Wars (2018).  Cumberbatch’s availability is a big problem for future episodes of Sherlock.

So perhaps, it’s for the for the best that Sherlock gets a much needed Rest for the next few years.  The writers can forward time jump, grow up baby Rosie and send her off to Boarding School, leaving Holmes and Watson to ponder their feelings about one another while chasing more red herrings.

Two more episodes to go. Fingers crossed they are worth this less than stellar set-up. Toby Jones (Captain America, The Hunger Games) shows up as a new foil of some sort in The Lying Detective.

Time to bring back Lara Pulver’s terrific Irene Adler.  She’s also on the big screen in Underworld: Blood Wars.

20 Easter Eggs Hidden in The Six Thatchers

With the very emotionally satisfying The Lying Detective, Sherlock has successfully avoided a Shark Jump.

Writer/Series co-creator Steven Moffat gives a terrific Six Feet Under-esque spin to Episode 2 of Series 4 by utilizing the ghost of Mary Watson to ground a terrific mystery that allows John Watson to regain the emotional heart of the series.

And, Mrs. Hudson!  Wonderful. Wonderful. Wonderful.

What a complete turnaround in both Tone and Storytelling from The Six Thatchers!

Here is the link to The Lying Detective:

http://www.pbs.org/video/2365925720/

Excellent work all around:  Martin Freeman soars.  Amanda Abbington has never been better and brings a wonderful coda to Mary’s sacrificial death from the previous episode.  Toby Jones is outstandingly sinister as the central villain.

However, the huge twist in the final moments of the episode brings the mystery of What Has Moriarty Done? to new heights.

I love Sherlock.  Bring on The Final Problem.

sherlock-and-watson

I spoke (or blogged) too soon as The Final Problem is Sherlock at its manipulative worst:  Shark Jump re-instated.  Oh, well.  221B Baker Street was good, many times great, while it lasted.

Now is the time for Cumberbatch, Freeman & Co. to take a nice, long holiday.  I need a few years to forget this horrible finale.  And, I need to grow out my hair which was sorely tested during this story.

There is enjoyable head-scratching, to be sure.  However, there is a lot of hair-pulling throughout The Final Problem.  And. It. Is. Not. Enjoyable.

Here is the link to the episode:  http://www.pbs.org/video/2365931000/

As emotionally satisfying as I found The Lying Detective, the third and final episode of Series 4, co-written by Gatiss and Moffat, is exactly the opposite:  Infuriating.

Childhood backstories involving Sherlock’s dog, Redbeard. A ludicrous red herring of a little girl trapped on a doomed airplane flight headed towards London.  An inexplicable act of cruelty forced upon beloved Molly Hooper. And finally, the absurd super villainy of new character, Euros.

Why am I here? No one ever tells me.  Am I being punished?  Euros, I know how ya feel.

I miss the sanity of Moriarty.  I could at least follow his thoughts somewhat.  Thanks to a flashback involving Mycroft, viewers are treated to the possibility of his return and then, greatly disappointed.

Moriarty is not the only beloved character to be seemingly resurrected. So manipulative. So unsuccessful.  Shark Jump, indeed.

The resolutions of the many dilemmas in this story are absurd.  I could hardly believe it.  The writers wrote themselves into a corner they could not escape unless they betrayed the audience’s intelligence along with Sherlock’s. And, Dr. Watson’s. And, Mycroft’s.

And then, as a way of Apology, the regretful episode is tied up in a bright, happy, big-picture Bow.  I need a drink.

So long for now, Mr. Holmes.  It is what it is.

N E X T   U P:

Family Comedies and Dramas In Heavy Development.

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Film Surf Report: Carrie Fisher Kicked Butt — The Star Wars Sequel I Always Wanted to See: Princess Leia, Evil Jedi

Santa Monica, CA — (Originally published in December 2015, this post is a favorite and honors the passing of Carrie Fisher, who was one of the first people to “like it” on Twitter. #RIP, Carrie.)

In preparation for the release of the highly anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I recently re-watched the original trilogy of films. After watching Return of …

Source: Film Surf Report: Carrie Fisher Kicked Butt — The Star Wars Sequel I Always Wanted to See: Princess Leia, Evil Jedi

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Film Surf Report: 2017 Must-See Movies

kingsman-2-taron-egerton

Santa Monica, CA2017 is shaping up to be a Year of Must See Films. And best of all, these major studio releases are not all super hero movies. (Okay, most are.)

Still basking in the song and dance glow of La La Land (See Trailer here: Dreamers From LaLa Land), my favorite film of this year (sorry Deadpool, you were #2), I gotta say more of Ryan Gosling (the Millennial’s Harrison Ford?) in 2017 is not a bad thing, especially since he’s starring in the long-anticipated sequel to Blade Runner: Blade Runner: 2049

The WB sequel,  which hits theaters in October, asks the all-important existential question:  Replicants? Are they a Benefit or a Hazard? Harrison Ford, Robin Wright and Jared Leto (a worthy successor to Rutger Hauer’s Roy Batty) also star.  Beware the Tyrell Corp.!

Here’s a link to the first preview Trailer: http://www.thewrap.com/blade-runner-2049-trailer-ryan-gosling-harrison-ford-first-look/

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And, let’s not forget about WONDER WOMAN, the first DC Comics movie that has captured my interest since Christopher Nolan’s Batman: The Dark Knight trilogy.

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The Origin Story set during WWI, starring Gal Gadot (the best thing about Batman v Superman), opens June 2nd.

Be careful, Diana.

Patty Jenkins directs.  Robin Wright (having a big 2017), Connie Nielsen and Chris Pine co-star.  Fingers crossed that the film lives up to its fantastic Trailer:

Wonder Woman Trailer: “Be Careful, Diana!”

emma-watson-beauty-and-the-beast

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

(Walt Disney Pictures) – March 17th

From the first sounds of the haunting piano chords in the BEAUTY & THE BEAST TRAILER, I was hooked.  I predict audiences, worldwide, will be, too.  Emma Watson portrays a newly feminist Belle with Kevin Kline as her father, and Dan Stevens as The BeastLuke Evans, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson also star.  Can’t wait!  Also, at 1:30, this trailer is exactly enough info.

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THOR: RAGNAROK

(Disney/Marvel Studios) – Nov. 3rd

Is this the year of Thor: Ragnorak?   The first film in this trilogy was terrific. The second film was not as bad as everyone thought.

Chris Hemsworth & Co. (including Tom Hiddleston and Anthony Hopkins) are joined by a terrific cast, including Mark Ruffalo, Jeff Goldblum, Karl Urban, Sam Neill, and Cate Blanchett.  Am expecting some new info on those darned Infinity Stones!  In the comics, Ragnarok is a villainous clone of Thor.

Here’s the very funny Thor Vacation Trailer!

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  GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: VOL. 2

(Disney/Marvel Studios) – May 5th

Kurt Russell joins the cast as Star Lord’s father. Sylvester Stallone has an “important cameo.”  James Gunn directs the sequel which again stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, and the voice of Vin Diesel as Baby Groot.  Trailer for GOTG2

 

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WOLVERINE 3: LOGAN

(Fox/Marvel Studios) – March 3rd

Mutants. They’re gone now.

The trailer looks great to me:  Old Logan and a possibly dying Professor X on the run.  I could skip past the young girl in need of Wolverine’s protection, though.  Ugh.  Would have greatly preferred they use Rogue instead and further that relationship.  Open mind. Will keep an open mind. Meanwhile, I am completely won over by the use of Johnny Cash’s haunting cover of Nine Inch Nail’s HURT:  Trailer for LOGAN

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THE MUMMY

(Universal Studios) – June 9th

Welcome to a new world of Gods and Monsters.

The new MONSTERS UNIVERSE kicks off with Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe starring in a new incarnation of THE MUMMY.  From the trailer, Sofia Boutella (of Kingsman fame) is the new Mummy, but what is Tom Cruise, an immortal Van Helsing?  We shall see if this film successfully sets up the Universe that also holds Dracula, Frankenstein &  Co.: THE MUMMY trailer

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KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE

(F0x) – June 17th

Is Colin Firth’s Harry dead or alive?  Inquiring Kingsman fans need to know: https://twitter.com/TaronEgerton/status/718102984715026434/photo/1

Director Matthew Vaughn knows what he’s doing.  I leave it up to him.  Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Channing Tatum, Julianne Moore and Halle Berry are featured in the sequel that takes place stateside in the US.

JUSTICE LEAGUE

 JUSTICE LEAGUE

(Warner Bros./DC Comics) – November 17th

My expectations for this film are extremely low as I don’t think the execs and writers at WB and at DC Comics are very good with Story, Villains, or adapting super hero movies.  (Excluding you, Christopher Nolan.)  I am excited to see Aquaman, though.

Trailer for JUSTICE LEAGUE featuring AquaMan

REY IN STAR WARS TFA

Star Wars, Ep. VIII:  What’s New, Luke? (Working Title)

(Disney/LucasFilm) – Dec. 15th

Okay, I will not be caught up in the hype for Ep. VIII that I was for Ep. VII: The Force Awakens, which I found disappointing in that it was such a complete retread of Ep. IV: A New Hope.  I did dig Daisy Ridley, though.  Am interested to see if Harrison Ford returns for any flashback cameos as Han Solo!

AVATAR DUO

 AVATAR 2

(20th Century Fox) – December 22nd (tent.)

Will audiences clamor for the long-delayed sequel to the most popular/successful film of all time?  I am not so sure.  We shall see, James Cameron.  We shall see!

As for ALIEN: COVENANT, TRAINSPOTTING 2, THE DARK TOWER, KING ARTHUR, PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN 19?, and PITCH PERFECT 3, well let’s just say, I am not that interested enough to post either a pic or a trailer!  How about you?  Which films of 2017 are gonna drive you to the Theater and plop down $15+?

N E X T   U P:

Family Comedies & Dramas In Heavy Development For New TV Season

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Surf Report: Movies, Books, Theatre Got Sexually Fluid With The Bromances in 2016

 

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Santa Monica, CA — All across Entertainment, 2016 was the Year of the Bromance.

I just finished reading Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis, Anne Rice’s latest entry in her uber-successful Vampire Chronicles. It’s pretty homoerotic stuff, and I don’t mind that one bit (pun intended).  Most, if not all, of Rice’s vampires seem to be in same-sex relationships, but there’s no sex (per se), just lots of tension and lots of sensuality expressed in drinking another’s blood. Hence, the continuing popularity of vampire literature.

Not sure TV can adapt this material well enough to match and further the source material, though. It just may be too tame. (Note to Christopher Rice:  Check out EPIX’s new series, Berlin Station.)

cursed-child

Similarly, I just read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, J.K. Rowling’s 8th book in the HP series (but it’s the script for a 2-part Play), wherein, two teenage boys admit their need for one another, but not their love.  Their tremendous chemistry is never consummated which seems a tad cowardly in 2016.

Schoolboys (and Schoolgirls) have been crushing on one another since the Dawn of School.  Just Go There.  I can handle it.  More importantly, the characters can handle it. The story remains the story, however, the characters could use some depth. Instead, they just sorta ignore the emotional undercurrents.

In film, Batman battled Superman to the death only to realize he loved his Super Friend in the End because both of them had a mother named Martha (a very quick turn, btw).  There’s a reason this movie didn’t work, and one very big reason is Bruce Wayne’s inexplicable caring about Superman at the end.  I didn’t buy it and neither did the audience. Don’t get me started on Doomsday, the Kryptonic monster created by Lex Luthor. Terrible.

In Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, Cap risks everything to save his childhood friend Bucky Barnes from capture by Iron Man inadvertently creating an Avenger Bromantic Love Triangle:  Cap loves Bucky who can’t remember Cap which makes Iron Man completely jealous (among other emotions) because Cap would throw away the Avengers to save Bucky who has become The Winter Soldier.  In Tony Stark’s defense, The Winter Soldier did murder his parents.

Damn, comic books are soapy! So much subtext to parse, so little time.

cap-am-civ-war

Steve Rogers clearly loves Bucky Barnes.  It’s nice to see, and yet it’s not enough…after three films:  Man loses Friend. Man fights Friend. Man risks life to save Friend.  Cool.  The love of Captain America’s life is clearly another man which makes perfect sense considering everything he’s been through. And, it doesn’t matter if that Love is sexual or not because it’s one of Life’s Great Loves. Now, can’t someone in this story talk about it?

In Star Trek: Beyond, J.J. Abrams third entry in the Paramount franchise re-boot, he boldly goes where Gene Roddenberry never went before:  Sulu is gay and presumbably happily married.  This seemed like a complete throwaway.  Even original Sulu actor and activist George Takei even chimed in with an, “Um, no.”  Audience reaction was more like “Meh.”

Colin Farrell creepily seduces (or grooms, depending upon your POV) confused young wizard Ezra Miller in J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, the re-launch of Potterverse setting up the eventual dual between Grindewald (Johnny Depp) and Dumbledore, who in the books, were best friends and very possibly, lovers.  Summertime in Godric’s Hollow (and the living is easy)…Filmgoers are waiting to see in the next four films how far Rowling goes with this innuendo. I say, go already. Audiences can deal with it as long as the characters can. (They can.)

colin-and-ezra-in-fantastic-beasts

So this Trend of Bromance vs Queerness in mainstream Movies, Books and Theatre is good overall because it’s evolving a mass audience to the Nature of Human Beings:  We are born to love one another regardless of Gender. Viva Bromance!

As an audience member, though, I am ready for a lot more Complexity and a lot less Innuendo.

My favorite film of the year, without a doubt, is LaLa Land, Damien Chazelle’s wonderfully wistful Ode to Los Angeles starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.  I really enjoyed the hetero love story especially when Chazelle surprisingly throws in a Sliding Doors-esque twist near the end of the movie.

Complexity.  Depth of Emotion.  I felt some Shit.

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For Mainstream Hollywood Films to evolve, writers of Indie Films must boldly go where the major studios fear to tread.  Create some multi-layered leading LGBTQ characters who are heroic, romantic and complex, and most importantly, who don’t get punished (Imitation Game, Carol, Brokeback Mountain).

The story must be there.  If the characters demand that you go there, then bloody Go There.

Looking at you, future James Bond movies, however, I am willing to bet that the next Kingsman film beats you to it, ya old Dinosaur.

kingsman

007

Next Up:

Family Comedies and Dramas are really trending this year in TV development.

 

 

 

 

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TV Surf Report: Is It Too Late for The Vampire Lestat — The Next Game of Thrones or Yesterday’s Vampire?

anne-rice-slr-collection

Santa Monica, CA – Yesterday, author Anne Rice announced via her Facebook page that she is bringing her most famous character, The Vampire Lestat, to Television.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fannericefanpage%2Fposts%2F10154794260300452&width=500“>Anne Rice Announcement on Facebook

After unsuccessfully re-launching the film franchise after two disastrous efforts, Rice has regained the theatrical rights to The Vampire Chronicles from Universal Studios and Imagine Television.

Now, with Game of Thrones as her guidepost, Rice and son Christopher, will executive produce and write a pilot script and series outline starting with the second book of the series, The Vampire Lestat, and then shop it around to the various networks, cable outlets, and streaming services.

But, is it already too late for LestatIs he Yesterday’s Vampire?

Rice’s prototype for Lestat was Jon Bon Jovi, who’s gotta be pushin’ 50 by now. (He’s 54.)  Is there a mid-20s equivalent rock star today:  Nick Jonas? Doubtful but great abs, dude. Drake? Maybe. Adam Levine (too old, but yeah).

atlantis-lestat-book-cover

Full Disclosure:  I. Am. A. Fan.  In fact, I just re-read Prince Lestat as prep work for Rice’s most recent entry, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis. I have stuck with Rice through the good and the less good.

Meanwhile, Vampires have been making a killing in Film & TV for decades since Rice published Interview with a Vampire* in 1976…40 years ago.  Yikes! In many ways, others have surpassed her.

Let’s re-cap:

  • Twilight made Lionsgate Studios a major player. Bella Swan and The Cullens owe Rice a great debt. Stephanie Meyer surely must have been influenced by Lestat & Co. The studio has been surprisingly slow in revisiting this franchise since the conclusion of Bella’s story in Breaking Dawn, Part II.
  • Underworld. Kate Beckinsale & Co. fit right into Rice’s universe with their Vampires vs. Werewolves franchise. Very slick sci-fi interpretation.
  • The Vampire Diaries on The CW. Ending its long successful run this season.
  • Penny Dreadful on Showtime. Eva Green vamped it up for three seasons.
  • True Blood on HBO. Another great run making stars of Alexander Skarsgard and Joe Manganiello.  Let’s not forget Anna Paquin or Anna Camp, either!
  • Being Human on SyFy and BBC America. A vampire, a ghost and a werewolf share a flat.  Despite the premise, the series worked!
  • American Horror Story: Coven on FX. This season explored Rice’s beloved Garden District and borrowed pretty liberally from the legend of the Mayfairs.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer on The WB/UPN. Now in reruns for 20 years, Buffy still holds up but it’s an old chestnut in some ways.  Still, those vamps running around Sunnydale quoted Rice more than a few times in its seven-year run.
  • Angel on The WB. Buffy’s successful spinoff set in a moody and dark Los Angeles owes a lot to Rice.
  • The Passage at FOX. Justin Cronin’s very dark futuristic take on vampires created by the US Military who escape and plague the country to near apocalyptic levels is very un-Rice, but it does have a pilot order and the backing of producer Ridley Scott.

The-Passage.jpg

So, who buys The Vampire Lestat?

Hollywood Loves A Good Adaptation.

  • Starz looks like a good fit based on the success of historical science fiction hits like Outlander, Black Sails and Da Vinci’s Demons.
  • HBO seems like the first stop but they have cast their fortune on Westworld and a prequel series to Game of Thrones. Not sure they need Lestat.  Could be a case of plain old bad timing for Rice & Son.
  • Showtime has 18 hours of Twin Peaks coming our way. Can they afford a deal with Rice who commands a hefty price tag just to put pen to paper?
  • FX has American Horror Story, a solid franchise hit for them. Even though it’s aging, I don’t see them going for Lestat.  He’s yesterday’s vampire to Ryan Murphy & Co., I suspect.  Also, basic cable cannot handle the material properly.
  • FOX has a pilot order for The Passage with Ridley Scott in addition to what looks like a successful re-boot of The Exorcist.
  • NBC has Emerald City premiering in January. The trailer looks good but if it fails to connect with the audience, Bob Greenblatt & Co. may shy away from this kind of fantastic material.
  • CBS, ABC: Not a good fit.  Too sexy.  Too homoerotic.  Too violent.  Too spiritual.
  • Netflix. Yes. Netflix is killing it with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders.  A good prototype for spin-offs as they know how to do it:  Shorter episode orders. More seasons. Great casting.
  • Amazon. Yes.  Can promote directly to book readers.
  • SyFy. Highly doubtful the cable network could afford to make such a series and keep it to Rice’s standards. See Van Helsing. She’ll demand quality control (thankfully), so that knocks out this channel which remains mired in B-schlock despite a few bright spots like The Magicians and The Expanse.
  • AMC. I can see them bidding for the property as The Walking Dead is aging, and they could use some fresh blood, so to speak.
  • The CW. Age-wise, this is the right network as Lestat & Co. are all in their early 20s in the books: Young and beautiful immortals.  Hey, that sounds an awful lot like the cast of The Vampire Diaries.  Doubt they would go to the vampire well again so soon.  Also, I doubt the cablet could afford the property. Meanwhile, they are in business with horror master Clive Barker developing Weave World.
  • PBS & Masterpiece.  Don’t count them out.  Lestat could be Public Television’s next mega hit since Downton Abbey.  Plus, lots of room for international deals.  Logical extension of the PBS brand after Poldark.

emerald-city

 

So, what’s next for Rice & Son?

My advice:

  • Think International Co-production. Something along the lines of HBO’s The Young Pope or Rome, which looks/looked great.  Make the series you want to make and then lay it off to a US broadcaster or streaming service.  This ensures you a huge measure of both Quality Control and as few cooks stirring the soup as is (in)humanly possible.
  • Talk to writer/producer Ron Moore. Instinctively, I think he should be Number One on your Showrunner list based on his beautiful renderings of both Outlander on Starz and Battlestar Galactica on SyFy.  Depth of knowledge, humanity and emotion.  He’s the package.  Don’t be packaged into ill-fitting shotgun relationships because of your agent.  On Twitter, Ron is @RonDMoore
  • Go British. For some reason, the UK can elevate the material through fine casting and directing whereas, a US production can rarely surpass it.
  • Learn from the mistakes of Queen of the Damned and Interview with a Vampire, the movies. Dreadful execution on all levels.  Nothing worked.
  • Think in terms of the Anne Rice Universe. Lestat, The Talamasca, The Mayfair Witches, all orbit and inhabit New Orleans and one another, etc.  Spin-off. Spin-off. Spin-off! Consider this when choosing a broadcast outlet and make sure they can do for Lestat what Netflix has done for Marvel and what The CW has done for DC Comics.
  • Hire the casting director from Hamilton. Those actors are beautiful, and the diversity represented in that cast make it relevant for decades to come.

hamilton

(*) Note to Reader: My very first job in Hollywood was working as a Production Assistant/Runner for producer Julia Philips, who at the time, had the rights to produce Interview with a Vampire as a movie with David Geffen.  During this time, Oliver Stone was attached to direct with Richard Gere interested to star.  I had the pleasure of driving Rice around Beverly Hills in my humble VW Rabbit!

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