Surf Report: Mother’s Day Is A Day To Get Creative When Mom Has Exited Stage Right…How I Handle A Difficult Day

DMDD

Santa Monica, CA – Just got an email from Peets Coffee alerting me that today is the Last Day to Order Mother’s Day Gifts with Free Shipping!

There is no Reply function available to this email, but if there were, I would send the following response:

My mother is dead.  Your email wounds me!

And so it goes every May with endless emails from Home Depot, florists, and airlines, each proclaiming all these deals that are perfect for Mom!

Meanwhile, my Mom has been off-planet for 33 years.

Yet, that doesn’t stop Apple who insists via email that I should  Celebrate Mom with Apple Gifts! Or American Airlines who wishes me to Earn Miles this Mother’s Day with Teleflora!

Or, Delta Airlines, who reminds me that Gifts for Mom Means More Miles For You! Or Dell Computers, who lets me know that You Know Mom Best, so Surprise Her with Our Gift Guide!

These emails go on and on arriving daily at a feverish pace no less than 3-4 weeks prior to Mother’s Day. What is the point of Facebook or Cookies and Algorithms when these vendors clearly have the wrong guy?

Pain. Unintentional Pain.

Each mention of Mother’s Day, each year, is like a tiny pin-prick on my skin, reminding me that I do not belong to this social group, that I do not celebrate this holiday despite the fact that I am a frequent flyer on American and Delta and that I use a Dell computer.

For these reasons, I dread Mother’s Day.

At least, I used to dread Mother’s Day until I helped create the bizarro version for the Bereaved:

 Dead Mother’s Day.

I found a very specific tribe of like-minded individuals who shared my twisted sense of humor while a student at The Groundlings, LA’s improvisational comedy troupe.

DEAD MOTHERS DAY 2010

Sandy, Claudette, Eve, and our improv teacher, the late great Cynthia Szigeti and I gathered at my home in Santa Monica for years celebrating Dead Mother’s Day, which we dubbed DMD.

Our mothers were all In The Great Hereafter.

And yet, Society still inundated us with commercials and events imploring us to celebrate this once beloved holiday. Since we couldn’t take our Moms out to Brunch, my funny and smart friends and I got together and toasted them with champagne and/or mimosas:

To Rose, Maureen, Flora, Cora, and Frances Bond!

So much laughter. So much fun.  And some Grief.

We got creative, too. Some years, we’d bring our Moms’ favorite records (Johnny Mathis!) or read the last letter we each received from them (freshman year of college!), or something equally memorable.

Some years, we’d bring new members, but our core group remained the five of us.

DMD was our way of saying to the world that celebrating Mother’s Day the traditional way does not work for us.

I am so sorry for your loss — that empty-sounding phrase that never really serves to comfort the bereaved became our hilarious mantra. At least, it was hilarious to Us.

Year after year, friends would ask me, kinda hesitantly, So you doin’ that weird Mother’s Day thing of Yours again this year?

Yes.

Claudette, Sandy, Cynthia, Eve and I learned so much about one another by telling the Group about our respective Mothers: Who they were, how they lived, how they died. I learned to love these friends even more by learning about The Women Who Made Them.

Those were some really special Brunches, usually at my house on 3rd Street in Santa Monica, and usually with Fried Chicken on the Menu.  Or Quiche.  Or fresh Asparagus from the Main Street Farmer’s Market. And always with fresh Strawberries and Coffee Ice Cream and Coffee & Bailey’s and more Champagne. The party lasted hours.

IMG_0790

Sharing Grief eases the burden of one’s grief.

I see that now. But what was great about these friends and our gatherings was that we shared Our Love for Our Mothers which, in some small way, was a means to honor them.

(And hey, isn’t that the point of Mother’s Day?)

My friends supported me when I couldn’t be in Los Angeles and host the annual DMD because I was in Kentucky caring for my elderly father.  Some years, I was there, some years I wasn’t, but the beautiful thing that happened was that Dead Mother’s Day did happen whether I was there or not.  Cynthia threatened to bring the group to Kentucky, to bring the party to me.  DMD was that important to her.

We really created something special.  Our Mother’s Day was more than just another Brunch.  It was a Gathering that became bigger than any one person. So cool. Always, Cynthia was the great Champion of DMD. She absolutely loved it.

This year, 2017, my friends and I are not gathering together at my house.

Eve is doing a play. Claudette now lives in the South of France and just finished writing her first novel.

IMG_0788

Sandy works remotely running an international screenwriting competition and is living in Connecticut.

And Cynthia, our greatest friend, professional cheerleader and teacher, passed away in 2016 at the age of 65 after several years of struggling with Pulmonary Fibrosis.

Of course, I miss Cynthia dearly, but I don’t grieve for her.

Instead, I envision she’s in Heaven having a mimosa with her own mother, Rose, whom I know she loved more than any other, and that Cynthia has more than likely gathered all of our mothers for their own heavenly version of Dead Mother’s Day.

To Claudette, Sandy, Eve and Steve!

They are singing as they clink their glasses and share stories about us amid gales of laughter with Cynthia’s laugh being the loudest and happiest.

So bring on those annoying emails urging me to Buy Something for Mom! I can handle it, and so can my mother-less friends.

We continue to be Sorry for Our Loss but we also continue to honor our Mothers who really do live on through Us.

Salute!  Let’s brunch.

IMG_0791

 

N E X T   U P:

Back to Television. Pilot Season.

 

 

 

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Beach Surf Report: Something’s Wild Across from Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica

BEACH RESTORATION RENDERING

Santa Monica , CA — Across the Bike Path from the Annenberg Community Beach House in North Santa Monica, is a non-descript, enclosed section of beach adjacent to an unused lifeguard tower not yet ready for Summer.

There’s no Signage.

To the naked eye, this relatively blank beachscape doesn’t look like much. An almost hidden walking path divides it in the middle, and the seemingly unremarkable area is completely fenced in on three sides but open to the Pacific Ocean.  And yet, these unmarked 2+ acres of sand are pretty special.

In fact, this beach is Wild.

Inspired by the nationwide March for Science, I took the day off from Surfing and instead, I explored Santa Monica’s Beach Restoration Pilot Project and learned more about its usefulness during a presentation by Melodie Grubbs of The Bay Foundation.

(Shout out to my rural Kentucky public school science teachers: Roger Pepper (General Science), Rex Burd (Biology), Roy Long (Chemistry I & II) and Paula Setters (Physics)

Wild Beach Restoration Project

Climate Change, that bastard, is coming for California’s Coastline with severe erosion predicted during the next 100 years.  Here’s where California’s Wild Beach Project enters picturesque Santa Monica.

By not grooming these three acres of beach, The Bay Foundation and the City of Santa Monica are hoping to re-create natural sand dunes with vegetation that will be resilient to rising sea levels and will help protect our beautiful coastline.

Begun in December, Wild Beach was seeded with several types of vegetation (Sand Verbena, Evening Primrose), some of which has just started to sprout.  As the former Head Gardener of Groundhog Hill Farms in my native Kentucky, I could relate to the shouts of excitement expressed by Grubbs when she saw the results of her group’s efforts:  Stuff is growing!  The seeding worked.

During 2017’s very rainy winter months, lots of driftwood and bamboo (along with way too much beach trash — mostly plastic drinking straws (looking at you, Perry’s Beach Cafe) washed up on the beach and onto the wild garden.  Only the trash was removed.

samo_preservation_zone

So, what’s next for Wild Beach?

Birds. Snowy White Plovers, in fact.  Per Grubbs, these birds haven’t nested in this area for 70+ years and have returned because of the tasty vegetation and a protected area that doesn’t get groomed on a daily basis.

So if you plan to visit, Do Not Disturb!

Meanwhile, there’s no volleyball or sunbathing going on in this area.  The Bay Foundation has got to get some proper signage up soon to let the Public know what’s going on there before the fast-approaching busy summer months.

(Signs are on the way says project coordinator Grubbs, who spoke to a group of interested residents as part of Mayor Ted Winterer’s popular monthly Ride With The Mayor program, which ironically, was co-sponsored by Perry’s Beach Cafe. (Heads Up, Perry’s:  You are terrific, but please ditch the plastic drinking straws!)  City Manager Rick Cole was there as well, answering questions about upcoming city events like the Summer Concert Series and all things #GoSaMo.)

TED LEADS GROUP AT WILD BEACHWALKING PATH BEACH REST PROJFENCED BEACH PROJ.jpg

Can restoring an Eco-system to Santa Monica’s beaches help the fight against Sea Level Rise and Climate Change?

Only Time will tell if this restoration pilot project is successful.  It’s definitely a lab experiment at the moment, but one that is both important and worthwhile.

I am reminded of a great Wendell Berry quote that goes something like this:

Invest in The Millennium.

Plant Sequoias.

Say that your main crop is the forest you will not live to harvest.

That’s what’s going on here, I think.  The Bay Foundation and the City of Santa Monica are looking toward the Future. They can see some big problems heading our way and are looking at some creative solutions.

So remember, that blank stretch of enclosed beach across from the Annenberg Beach House, well, that beach is Wild.

Long may it be so.

U P   N E X T:

SELFIE WITH TED WINTERER

Pilot Season — The Good. The Bad. The Super Heroes.

 

 

 

 

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Food Surf Report: Celebrating Nowruz, Persian New Year and Seasonal Cooking at Spring in DTLA

CHEF TONY & YASMINN

Santa Monica, CA —  On Monday of this past week, I had painful Gum Surgery. By Friday, I had my first real meal in days, and it was outstanding.

When the Universe (or rather, your public radio station) offers you a complimentary dinner, the answer is always, Yes!  Whether you feel great or not, whether you are not sure if you can chew or not, and whether your plus one can make it or not.  Just say Yes.  A good mantra for 2017.

So, from the dentist’s chair to a comfy bar seat at a 5-star downtown LA restaurant, I had a very interesting week which started off with me barely able to eat nothing more complicated than orange Jell-O or mashed potatoes, and ended with, well, read on…

Friday: On the train to downtown LA.

I will never decline a dinner (or lunch) invitation to meet a friend downtown ever again after experiencing the pleasure of taking the Expo Line train from Santa Monica: So nice not being stuck in traffic on LA’s congested freeways!  At 6 PM, the Expo line was packed with folks heading back East after a day at the beach, but the hour commute passed quickly. There were one (or ten) people yakking away on their I-phones, but other than their inconsiderate selves, everyone seemed in good spirits which helped lift mine, as well.

The walk from 7th & Flower to 3rd & Broadway was a bit of hike, but to a New Yorker, the trek would mean nothing.  Luckily, this Santa Monican was up for it (having lived and worked in Manhattan for two years).

Arriving at  S P R I N G.

I meet Sophie, a beautiful French girl/woman, with whom I’ve been exchanging emails for the last 24 hours.  (I had less than a day’s notice that I’d been given this dinner by my fabulous local public radio station, KCRW 89.9 FM, whose show, Good Food, ran a promotion on Twitter which I entered during a Vicodin-induced coma on the beach.  I am a multi-tasker: I can recover from painful dental work and get some sun!)

What was great about Sophie is that she could not have cared less that I was without my Plus One, she was happy that I came and with great ease, comfortably installed me at the cozy Bar where I could enjoy my meal and observe the beautiful dining room and spacious kitchen at Spring.  A trio of musicians were playing some lovely traditional music.  The ambience was just right.

At the bar, I ordered an Antique Gold (saffron infused Old Tom gin, dry vermouth, lemon oil, served up).  Strong but beautiful, I wisely decided to sip it…slowly.  Afterall, this was my first sip of alcohol all week as well as my very first meal!  I wanted to savor the occasion.

A beautiful dark-haired woman approached me at the bar, greeting me like an old friend.  This was Yassmin Sarmadi, one of the partners at Spring, and the wife of the chef, Tony Esnault.

     

Persian New Year. Nowruz Pirooz.

What’s great about this dinner, this celebration of the Persian New Year, is that it’s all new to me.  A new experience.  Viva Life!  Even slightly sedated and flying solo, I was able to take advantage of this cool opportunity to explore a new restaurant and to learn about a different food culture.

Spring is a French restaurant, but for tonight and the two evenings prior, Chef Tony and Yassmin had prepared a very special, 5-course, tasting menu commemorating Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

Nowruz. Passover. Easter.  These holidays all celebrate the food of Spring.

Yassmin and I had a great discussion about the Right of Spring in Iran, and how the meal was the culinary welcoming of the new season with the first harvest of spring herbs, vegetables and lamb.  Lovely.  Just lovely.

Heretofore, I had never given much thought to how Iranians celebrate Spring in their cooking.  Food has the power to unite us, and on this Friday evening in downtown Los Angeles, it did just that.  There I sat at the bar, making new friends, and being introduced to new foods, new traditions, and new music.  Nothing better.

    

The first course, Kuku Ye Sabzi, was a “frittata” of herbs, walnut and egg, topped with barberries and served with “sangak” bread and house-made yogurt.  Delicious.  Spring onions and Radish garnished the plate heralding Spring, my favorite season.

The second course, Sabzi Polo Ba Mahi, was a duo of smoked and pan-seared white fish, served with basmati rice and house-made pickled vegetables, and let me tell you, I have never eaten a more tasty piece of smoked fish. (photo above)  Major Umami moment for me and my palate.

(Each course, btw, came with a Wine Pairing, which I declined seeing as how that might prove a lethal combo with my painkillers as well as the train ride back to SaMo.  I continued to sip my Antique Gold cocktail and drank a lot of water.)

The main course, Reshteh Polo Ba Mahiche, was a succulent slow-braised lamb shank, served with rice and toasted wheat noodles, dates and raisins.  Wow.  Just wow.  My second Umami moment of the meal. The lamb was fork tender and just melted in my dentally reconstructed mouth.  So so good.

The fourth course, Bastani, was a trio of house-made Ice Cream:  Pistachio (yum), Saffron (savory and exciting), and Rose (surprising and not perfume-tasting — my clear favorite).

The fifth and final course, Chai Va Shirini, was samovar brewed black tea served with a trio of cookies:  Baklava, marzipan “toot”, and “nokhodchi.”  The strong tea and these bite-sized cookies were the perfect finish to an outstanding meal.  I sat at the bar, savoring my drink and wondered if Jonathan Gold, LA’s premier food writer who was sitting across the room, was having as wonderful an evening as I was.  I hoped he was.  The chances were good.

So there I sat, feeling slightly dazed and pleasantly stuffed, elated with this new dining experience as well as the cultural exchange of making new friends in Sophie, Yassmin and Chef Tony.

Lesson Learned:  Continue to try New Things.  Go to New Places. Meet New People.  Whether You are with your Plus One or just flying solo.  Go.

Also, support Public Radio.  Thanks KCRW and the folks at Good Food (Evan Kleinman, Camelia Tse, Abbie Swanson).

I look forward to returning to Spring to see and to taste how they celebrate Summer.

 

N E X T    U P:

Surfing Ocean Park and Destinations Unknown in SoCali.

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TV Surf Report: In Praise of Outlander, Men In Kilts, Cable Television, and Adaptations

OUTLANDER

Santa Monica, CA — Recently, I binge-watched the first two seasons of Starz Channel’s compelling historical fantasy drama Outlander.

I realize I am kinda late to this Praise Party, but Tha sin sgoinneil sgeulachdan! which of course, is Gaelic for That is pure dead brilliant storytelling!

Credit goes to EP Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica) for such a successful adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s international best-selling series of novels, which I have not read…yet!

Time Travel. A Woman in Jeopardy. Men in Kilts. Period British War Drama.  It’s as if a woman from the 1940s got stuck in Braveheart and had to use her wits to survive.

Outlander has it all, but what I find most significant is the fact that I care about the characters and want to know how everything works out for Gabaldon’s heroine, Claire Beacham Randall Fraser (as played compellingly by Irish actor Caitriona Balfe).

Moore’s series succeeds on all technical levels.  Everything works, from Casting (Balfe; a star-making role for actor Sam Heughan who is my choice to replace Daniel Craig as James Bond; a fantastic villain portrayed by Tobias Menzies; and an all-around excellent roster of supporting players led by Graham McTavish and Lotte Verbeek) to Costumes to Production Design to Music (by BSG vet Bear McCreary).  All departments are bringing their A-game transporting the viewer to 1700s Scotland.

   

Moore’s writing team includes a coupla industry veterans, too: Anne Kenney (LA Law) and Toni Graphia (Chicago Hope). 

Costume Designer Terry Dresbach is married to Moore, and according to the Special Features interview on the S1 DVD, she brought the Outlander books to the attention of Moore and his producing partner, Maril Davis.

The costumes are really something to behold, and the behind-the-scenes look at their production is fascinating.  Dresbach even has her own blog:

http://www.terrydresbach.com/

Scotland. I really really want to go there after watching the first season.  Somehow, Moore & Co. have avoided the Renaissance Pleasure Faire experience of it all. The majestic and mysterious Highlands are calling to me:  Tighinn An So! (Come hither!)

Of course, Outlander has increased tourism for Scotland, much like Downtown Abbey did for Highclere Castle outside London. And there are Outlander tours designed for “women of a certain age,” as my one and only friend in Edinburgh tells me.

He’s dead wrong, of course.  He’s also a writer.  And, a chauvinist.  He’s missing out by not watching an international hit shot on location in his own country, too.  Bloody Fool! The appeal of Outlander is quite broad.  There’s something for everyone, including Romance.

Gabaldon’s story starts with Claire traveling through Time from post-WWII Britain and getting caught up with the rugged men of the McKenzie Clan. That’s Season One.

I descend from Clan MacDougall. Outlander has reignited my interest in an unexplored branch of my Family Tree. This week, my browser history shows that I have been googling Tartan Plaids. And a Scottish castle, Dunollie.

Here’s the MacDougall Tartan:

MACDOUGALL TARTANNote to Self:  Find out where and who can make a Kilt.

Confession:  I have not watched Game of Thrones on HBO.  Am too attached to the fantastic books by George R.R. Martin to let another story version into my head.  I read the books first.  That’s an important distinction.

With Outlander, I was viewing blind with no preconceptions or expectations about the Story or Characters.  Like a good book, I was immediately drawn in by Moore’s storytelling and by Gabaldon’s enthralling heroine, who at one very poignant moment realizes she’s been split into three versions of herself due to her Traveling:  The Woman She Was. The Woman Trying To Get Back. The Woman Who Wishes To Stay.

Good Stuff.

Adaptations are a Big Trend right now in Television. Starz found a new hit in Neil Gaiman’s  American Gods, Netflix has a new version of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, and Hulu struck creative gold with Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.  AMC is in production on Sarai Walker’s Dietland, while HBO has signed on to produce Nathan Hill’s The Nix.  Amazon and Oscar-winner Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) are adapting Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad as a limited series.

  

Historical Fantasy is a definite favorite of mine, too.  Starz seems pretty big on this genre as well as evidenced by Da Vinci’s Demons, Black Sails, The White Queen, and The White Princess.

Bravo, cable television!

Anne Rice and Christopher Rice have recently partnered with Paramount Television and Anonymous Content to adapt The Vampire Chronicles. The studio has optioned 11 of Rice’s books which is a good sign.  They mean business. Let Outlander and Showtime’s brilliant Penny Dreadful as well as Game of Thrones be their guideposts on how to adapt a good book series well.

So if you have not yet discovered Outlander, give it a binge.  Pour a glass of Dewar’s or Johnny Walker Black, and settle in for a good time.

As for me, Season 3 awaits.  The R E V I E W S are glowingly positive and are predicting a breakout year.  Production has already begun on S4, too.

Tlachd a ghabhail! (That’s Gaelic, of course, for Enjoy!)

   

 N E X T   U P:

Pilot Season.

The Good. The Less Good. The Super Heroes.

 

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Style Surf Report: Dressing Like Roger Federer, Mens Tennis’ G.O.A.T, Will Set Ya Back A Pretty Penny On or Off The Court

FEDERER VICTORIOUS AT INDIAN WELLS

Santa Monica, CA — When I am not surfing, I love to play tennis, and it’s one of the very few sports I consistently watch on TV. This past week, the world’s best players showcased the sport in Key Biscayne at the Miami Open.

One big reason I remain engaged with this sport (after 40 years) is its most popular and successful men’s player:  Roger Federer, the Swiss Maestro.

Federer is enjoying an incredible 2017, having won his 18th Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January.  And while I cannot play Tennis like Roger Federer, I can dress like him, and so can you, dear Reader … but it’s gonna cost both you and me quite a few bucks.

This past weekend, 35-year-old Federer stunned the Sports World for the third time in three months when he won the Miami Open beating rival Rafael Nadal for the third time this season. Last month, Federer won the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, CA, beating countryman Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 7-5 in the final.  His one-handed backhand is a thing of beauty.

And as usual, Federer looked pretty darn stylish.

Federer wore a sharp-looking green Henley shirt (by Nike) during his matches at Key Biscayne and at Indian Wells.  I predict that shirt will be a big seller in the months to come.

It is the shirt of a Winner.

  

Top players like Federer, Nadal, Serena Williams  (Womens Tennis’ G.O.A.T) and Novak Djokovic all change up their clothes so that viewers/tennis players wanting to emulate their style will keep up with their changing looks. You won’t see Federer wearing the same shirt or shoes at Roland-Garros (aka, the French Open) that he wore at the Australian Open, and definitely not at Wimbledon (which features predominantly white clothing).

But what does it cost to dress like Federer on-court, not to mention off-court?  GQ Magazine boasts Federer on the cover this month, and inside its pages, Federer’s casual dressy clothing ensembles could run ya anywhere from $155 (casual wear) to $10k (dressy), and the very expensive Rolex watch is not included.

The clothes look great, and Federer is one of those guys who wears clothes well.

FEDERER GQ COVER SHOT

Roger Federer GQ Magazine Cover Story

I am a tennis player.  I sometimes wear Nike shoes, Addidas wristbands, Nike shorts, and a Head dry-sweat sports Shirt.  I am not stuck on Labels.  My clothes are all over the place and could best be described as Hodgepodge.  I could definitely use a wardrobe makeover even though I am an amateur club player (without a club…it’s public courts for me in Santa Monica).

I have been playing since Junior High School when my brother Ben and I rode our Western Auto bikes a coupla miles to the high school tennis courts in Hodgenville, KY.

Our first wood rackets (see photo below of me and my Jack Kramer Autograph) were purchased via S&H Green Stamps attained at the local grocery (thanks, Mom!).  Clothing and Sports Attire were pretty much an afterthought.

We wore Converse tennis shoes with zero arch support and tube socks, shorts and a t-shirt. In school, tennis season was Springtime when it usually rained out a lot of practice sessions and most scheduled matches.  Sweats and sweatshirts ruled the day.

La Rue County High School Boys Tennis Team (circa 1981) Hodgenville, KY

A few decades later, I have matured along with my taste in tennis clothes. I know I should and could dress better, but I love my sweat-stained SMU Mustangs hat and my 2002 US Open T-shirt.

So, How much does it cost to dress like Roger Federer?

Were I to hit the court today, or in two days courtesy of Amazon or Tennis Warehouse, dressing like Federer would cost me about $1,000.00 (plus extra for tennis balls, extra rackets, and string jobs).

His pricey Rolex watch is not included.  In fact, Federer has a collection of them: https://www.rolex.com/every-rolex-tells-a-story/roger-federer-rolex-watch.html

FEDERER NADAL AUS OPEN BACKSIDES

So, should I go online and emulate Federer from head-to-toe, here’s the breakdown of his clothes and racket(s) with retail prices courtesy of TENNIS WAREHOUSE – FEDERER’S CLOTHES (assuming shipping will be free if ya go for the entire Fed Kit):

  • $249.00  RACKET:  Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph (No Strings or stencil)
  • $1,250.00  5 more RACKETS (optional; gotta have extras)
  • $140.00  SHOES:  Nike Zoom Vapor 9.5 Flyknit
  • $100.00  SHIRT:  Nike Henley (Green with Black)
  • $  28.00  HAT:  RF Classic
  • $  85.00  SHORTS:  Nike Men’s Summer Flex Ace7
  • $  17.00  HEADBAND:  Nike
  • $  12.00  WRISTBAND (x2): Nike
  • $150.00  JACKET: Nike Men’s Spring Premier RF N98
  • $  25.00  T-SHIRT:  Nike
  • $  13.50  SOCKS: Nike (3-pak!)
  • $150.00  RACKET BAG:  Nike
  • $9,100.00 WATCH: Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust II or the BATMAN GMT (optional as Federer doesn’t wear it during the match, only afterward during trophy ceremonies!)

FEDERER CASUAL IN BED WITH RACKETSFederer personifies Cool.  I like his clothes, his style, his gentlemanly demeanor both on-court and off.  He seems to really like Clothes, ya know?

One of these days, I’ll update my tennis clothes, piece by piece, to get it together.  So don’t get your hopes up just yet, Tennis Warehouse.  (And back off with the daily emails, please!).  Meanwhile, there’s always Surfing!

N E X T   U P:

Throwback Thursday and How I Rocked The Generic Sweatshirt Look in the ’70s.

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Film Surf Report: Disney Fables Are Still A Man’s World Even When It’s A Girl’s

batb     CINDERELLA

Santa Monica, CA — Disney has a curious problem with its Princesses:  Their stories are being told from a man’s POV.

Tale as old as Time: Fairy Tale about a young girl is adapted for the big screen by male screenwriter and male director because, if anyone knows about what it’s like to be a young girl, it’s Men.  Am I right, ladies?

Hold up. 

Of course, there’s more to Disney’s latest box office hit: The live-action version of Beauty & the Beast which hit theatres March 17th and stars Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Kevin Kline, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, and Luke Evans.

http://variety.com/2017/film/reviews/beauty-and-the-beast-review-emma-watson-1202001341/

There’s singing, dancing, and danger! Women know nothing of these things.  There’s no way that someone like Barbra Streisand could have directed this film.

I am half-joking, but only to prove a point.

Disney hired Bill Condon (Twilight: Breaking Dawn; Chicago) to direct from a script by Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which starred Watson).  Condon is a terrific filmmaker. Chbosky is a wonderful writer. Their version of Beauty & the Beast should be outstanding.

Will audiences embrace this new take on the beloved Disney classic (which itself is an adaptation of many iterations of similar stories)?

http://evolutionofbeautyandthebeast.weebly.com/adaptations.html

Greek Myths. French Fables. Germanic Fairy Tales.  Beauty & the Beast has been thoroughly adapted by men and women.  I am curious to see Chbosky’s version featuring Watson who is a self-declared Feminist and a leader of her generation.

Will Belle change herself, give up her life to be with a Man?  Will she stop reading in order to be in Love? The trailer looks fantastic:

http://

And why did Disney choose Men to write and direct this female-centric story instead of a Woman, especially in an era when there are plenty of female writers and directors available for the job?  The Studio has a recent history of hiring Men to helm its live-action remakes of its treasured animated classic films.

Kenneth Branagh, who did a bang-up job directing Thor for Disney/Marvel, directed Cinderella, the studio’s latest hit live-action adaptation of an animated classic film.  Chris Weitz (About A Boy) wrote the screenplay adaptation.  These guys are terrific filmmakers and storytellers, and yet, the story in question is that of a young girl.

Maleficent, the origin story of the witch featured in Sleeping Beauty, was directed by Robert Stromberg but written by Linda Woolverton (Lifetime’s upcoming Clan of the Cave Bear miniseries) and re-written by Charles Perrault.  At least, there was one woman in the mix.  There’s a sequel in the pipeline, as well.

emma-watson-beauty-and-the-beast          MALEFICENT

Alice in Wonderland, the 2010 film was directed by Tim Burton from a screenplay by Linda Woolverton, who seems to be the lone female screenwriter with a track record in this genre.  This film grossed $1 billion.  The 2016 sequel, Through the Looking Glass, from the same auspices, bombed at the box office.

Even Princess Leia (now General Organa) continues to be written and directed by Men as Disney and Lucas Film have hired men, albeit quite talented and capable, to helm the Star Wars franchise which seems to be skewing female with the introduction of Daisy Ridley’s character, Rey, in The Force Awakens.

I, for one, would be really interested to see a woman’s take on the subject matter.  Paging Catherine Hardwicke! Barbra Streisand! Kathryn Bigelow!

I had a very memorable conversation with a woman friend who is also a writer.  I stated categorically that Men can write Women really well (i.e., Joss Whedon), and she had the audacity (!) to correct me, saying, but not from a woman’s point-of-view.

Lightbulbs immediately went on in my male-gendered brain illuminating my own chauvinism.  As great as these iterations are, would a woman tell Cinderella or Belle’s story differently?

I would like to see those versions.

HUNSTMAN QUEEN    CARRIE FISHER

Snow White And The Huntsman, starring Kristen Stewart, was a hit Universal film directed by Rupert Sanders and written by Evan Daugherty and John Lee Hancock.  I would have liked to have seen Kathryn Bigelow’s take on the sequel, The Huntsman.  Instead, visual effects specialist Cedric Nicolas-Troyan made his directorial debut replacing Frank Darabont, who dropped out.  Darabont wrote the screenplay.  The film, which centered on Charlize Theron’s Evil Queen and her sister, was a box office disappointment.

Next up is a live-action version of Mulan, and guess what!  It’s being written by two women: Elizabeth Martin & Lauren Hynek.  Fantastic! Niki Caro (Whale Rider) has since been set to direct.  Progress!

REY IN STAR WARS TFA   MULAN

Now that’s a step in the right direction because as we all know, The Future is Female.

 

N E X T    U P:

Pilot Season.

The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

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Film Surf Report: Wonder Woman Rescues Audiences with Super Hero Fatigue — 54 Super Movies Thru 2021

 

WONDER WARRIORS

Santa Monica, CA — Help Us, Diana, You Are Our Only Hope! Save us from The Joker Origin Story that Warner Bro. and DC Comics want Martin Scorcese to direct. Save us from The Conjuring Universe of films. Save us!

Is it Me, or is it getting harder to keep track of all the big franchise super hero flicks these days:  54 movies (and counting) over the next four years?!  This audience member has Super Hero Fatigue.

What with Warner Bros. and DC Comics landing Joss Whedon to write/produce/direct a Batgirl standalone film, and Ben Affleck deciding to direct, then not to direct The Batman,  Marvel’s Phase 3 of the MCU racheting up big time, Carrie Fisher’s death altering the course of the Star Wars Extended Universe, and the next four installments in the Harry Potter Universe where we get to see young Dumbledore, et al.  Sony is creating a Spider-Man Universe with the introduction of a Venom solo film.

There are a lot of Universes to sort.

Blame it on Marvel Studios and its successful creation of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). Phase One introduced the audience to Iron Man, Captain America, and ThorPhase Two brought us sequels along with a very unexpected hit in Guardians of the GalaxyPhase 3 kicked off with Captain America: Civil War and a successful launch of Doctor Strange, and the MCU will be greatly tested in 2018 with Avengers: Infinity Wars uniting the Avengers with not only Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, but also Star Lord & Co. from GOTG. A projected Phase Four may be a total re-boot of the MCU following Avengers 4 and GOTG3.

Imitation is the highest form of Flattery.

Warner Bros. and DC Comics took notice (along with some Depressants) and stumbled with the uneven Man of Steel followed by the dreadful Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and the groan-inducing but Oscar-winning Suicide Squad.

The studio’s very aggressive DCEU rollout plans include not only Justice League Dark and a Nightwing standalone film but also a Harley Quinn standalone film, Gotham City Sirens, based on Margot Robbie’s performance in addition to a possible Mel Gibson-directed sequel to Suicide Squad. Ugh. A Joker origin story is also in the works. Double Ugh.

nightwing   harley-quinn

Thankfully, the highly anticipated Wonder Woman gets the Super Friends back on track in time for Justice League and the Aquaman standalone film.  The Marvel storytelling approach adopted by David Goyer & Co. to the DC Comics characters doesn’t seem to be working.  Patty Jenkins’ success demonstrates that Character and Story are more important than mindless action as Wonder Woman leads the summer box office and becomes DC Comics highest grossing DCEU film (outside the Nolan trilogy).

Lighten Up, DC!  Superman should be fun. Bring back the Legion of Doom!

Supposedly, Henry Cavill will get another solo Superman film.  He deserves a good story, a great villain, and Amy Adams returning as Lois Lane. No script yet for Man of Steel 2, however, Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman) is in talks to direct which is a good sign.

JUSTICE LEAGUE

Meanwhile, Tom Cruise kicked off Universal’s Monsters Universe this summer with a new, contemporary take on The Mummy that opens the portal for Dracula, Van Helsing, Frankenstein and The Wolfman via The Prodigium if all goes according to plan. The film stumbled domestically, but hit the mark internationally. The Lesson for Universal is Story First, Franchise Second. Make a Good Movie.  It’s already available on DVD as of Aug. 22nd (quick!).

Note: Showtime’s Penny Dreadful has comprehensively beat these films to the proverbial (and fictional) punch, btw.  Binge-watch. Now.  British. Period. Fantastic. Season One is pretty fantastic. Kudos, John Logan.

DARK UNIVERSE CAST

X-Men appears to be a bit of a mess following 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse.  Young Jean Grey, Cyclops, Storm and Nightcrawler lived to see another day and to carry the torch to the next decade, but will the audience care enough about them without some incarnation (older or younger) of Magneto, Professor X, Beast and Mystique?

Fatigue has set in, I think.  Nonetheless, a Dark Phoenix-centric sequel seems likely in addition to a New Mutants movie set at Xavier’s School for the Gifted.  How will the Sinister Six figure in, I wonder? (An Easter Egg was dropped at the end of Apocalypse.) Fox and Marvel seem hell bent on aging out the old cast (and audience).  Sorry, Ian McKellen & Co.  Really sorry.

Meanwhile, Disney and LucasFilm are riding high following the success of The Force Awakens and Rogue One.  The untimely death of Carrie Fisher underscores the already Must-See factor of Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, which is in search of a new director following the exit of Colin Trevorrow.  And the Young Han Solo movie is currently in production under Ron Howard’s direction. Waiting in the wings is an Obi-Wan Kenobi film, as well.

star-wars-the-last-jedi

Paramount and Sony seem to be playing without such heavy hitters on their roster.  Mission Impossible 6 is on the books for 2018, and Henry Cavill has been added to the cast. Tom Cruise is nursing a broken ankle, and production has been suspended.

And, the James Bond film is currently up for grabs with no less than 5 studios bidding for what looks to be Daniel Craig’s swan song as 007.  Apple and Amazon are also in the mix, as well:  Bidding Wars for 007 Film Franchise

(Now there’s a Universe just waiting to be stirred, not shaken!). Sony cannot afford to lose that franchise.

Lionsgate has yet to launch Twilight or The Hunger Games extended universe prequels, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t gonna try!

Here’s the latest breakdown of what we can expect from Disney & Marvel Studios, Warner Bros. & DC Comics, the Universal Monster Franchise, etc.:

old-logan   cruise-mummy-2017

2 0 1 7:

  • LOGAN, aka Wolverine 3, opened March 3rd.  Hugh Jackman’s last turn culminates with him playing a much older Wolverine and involves a dying Professor X.  It felt like a Must-see film, and audiences turned out to say goodbye. Received great reviews. Disney even released a black and white version.       H I T.
  • May 5th  GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXYStar Lord’s father, Thanos, Taser Face, Baby Groot & more! I trust director James Gunn to deliver (again).  Reviews agree that while it’s still fun, the sequel is not as charming as the original. Meanwhile, Gunn has been set to write and direct #3. Here’s the Trailer for 2: https://youtu.be/a4HXLdO71ag       H I T.
  • June 2nd WONDER WOMAN  High hopes were met for Gal Gadot’s solo outing and a record-breaking opening weekend.  Gadot was the best thing in Batman Vs Superman. Chris Pine co-stars as her love interest.  Good for him. Super powerful wrist bands are crossed for a good story which was delivered. My favorite headline about this movie is Who know Wonder Woman’s superpower was being Delicate?  Excellent reviews all around for Gadot and director Patty Jenkins who has a sequel already in mind. One key element was a good villain:  Ares, the God of War.   H I T.  Daily Variety Review
  • June 9th  THE MUMMY  Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Russell Crowe kick off Universal’s Monsters Dark Universe that includes Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman. Johnny Depp is set as The Invisible Man and Javier Bardem as Frankenstein is also on board.  Withering reviews tanked the film in the US, however, Universal must be happy with its reception off-shore where Tom Cruise remains a huge draw. Domestically, it’s a pretty big  M I S S.       N P R – R E V I E W
  • July 7th  SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING  Sony really really needs this third re-boot of Peter Parker’s origin story to work following Andrew Garfield’s webslinger and the successful Tobey Maguire trilogy. Tom Holland made a winning debut in Captain America: Civil War, so hopes are high. Michael Keaton is the big bad.  Part 1 of 3.  Reviews have been very positive:  The Guardian: “Razor-Sharp!”    Here’s the T R A I L E R for SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING   H I T.

SPIDER MAN WITH TOM HOLLAND

  • Nov. 3rd  THOR: RAGNORAK A great cast (Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, Karl Urban) plus The Hulk. Film was warmly received at Comic Con in San Diego when Marvel showed exclusive footage. Here’s the very fun and funny second teaser trailer: https://youtu.be/zilx0pnLeHA
  • Nov. 17th  JUSTICE LEAGUE We have to be ready… Meta-Humans unite behind Bruce Wayne.  Joss Whedon is finishing the film for director Zack Snyder who left the movie after the death of his daughter. Lots of re-shoots. Expect Superman to return! Also, Robin Wright cameos. Here’s the T R A I L E R for JUSTICE LEAGUE
  • Dec. 15th  STAR WARS, EP. VIII: THE LAST JEDI  Answers the question:  Who are Rey’s parents? No General Leia for Ep. IX, so what becomes of her?  Here’s the Trailer which has All The Feels:   TRAILER for THE LAST JEDI

BLACK PANTHER POSTER

2 0 1 8:

  • Black Panther   Feb. 16th — Very impressed with Chadwick Bozeman and his introduction in Civil War and have high hopes for the standalone film which boasts a fine cast directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station).  Interested to see the South Korea locations.  Here’s the T R A I L E R #1   Fox scored with Deadpool on this release date. Smart move.
  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider  March 16th — The re-boot stars Alicia Vikander and Dominic West. Roar Uthaug directs.
  • X-Men: New Mutants April 13th — Josh Boone directing a new group of mutants that will likely include Wolfsbane, Rachel Summers, and MagmaJames McAvoy set to return as Professor X.
  • Infinity Wars Part One    May 4th –Could be way too many Marvel characters going up against Thanos in this one.  Everyone gets short shrift, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Marvel.
  • Deadpool 2  June 1st — Ryan Reynolds returns with a new director for the foul-mouthed, almost-Oscar nominated sequel and breakout X-men property.  Fox has to get this sequel right in order to launch Strike Force, so expect a set-up.  Here’s the very fun T R A I L E R for DEADPOOL 2
  • The Incredibles 2   June 15th —  Cannot wait, Pixar Studios!

INCREDIBLES 2

  • Ant-Man & Wasp  July 6th  — Not a fan, so Rudd & Co. gotta win me over. Michael Douglas returns as Hank PymPeyton Reed directs (again). Walton Scoggins signed on for an unknown (and probably villainous) role. Michelle Pfeiffer and Laurence Fishburne also set to star.
  • Venom Oct. 5th — Hopes were not high until Tom Hardy signed on to play Venom.  Interested. Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) set to direct.  Welcome to the Spider-Man Universe!
  • X-Men: Dark Phoenix  Nov. 2nd — Too soon. I still remember the Famke Janssen version of X3, and young Jean Grey was just okay in Apocalypse. Fox is going to the X-Well once too often, I fear. Simon Kinberg is set to direct. Jessica Chastain is in talks to play the Villain, who is taken from the original Comic.  Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, and James McAvoy are set to return as is Evan Peters as Quicksilver.  Feels Ho Hum to me. Been here, done that.
  • Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them, Part Two  Nov. 16th —  David Yates to direct the 2nd of the planned five films in the franchise that will likely culminate in the big duel between Grindewald and a young Dumbledore!  (Jude Law)
  • Young Han Solo May 25th or Dec. 13th  Alden Ehrenreich (Hail Caesar!, Beautiful Creatures) seems to be a terrific choice.  Donald Glover co-stars as young Lando Calrissian.  Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton and Emilia Clarke also co-star. Phil Lord and Chris Miller either quit or got fired, and now, Ron Howard takes over much to my dismay.
  • Aquaman  Dec. 21st — Man, I hope Marvel gets it right here.  Jason Momoa looks great holding a trident, confronting Bruce Wayne, etc.  Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman also star. James Wan directs. Inherits the release date from Avatar 2 which James Cameron pulled.  Good News, Aqua Fans: Not an Origin Story.

BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN ELSA

2 0 1 9:

  • Bride of Frankenstein   Feb. 14th —  Just in time for Valentine’s Day! The second film in Universal’s Dark Universe following The Mummy.  Bill Condon directs from David Koepp’s script. Interest in Angelina Jolie to star.  Expect a smaller, self-contained film to get this franchise back on track.
  • The Batman  March (tent.) Ben Affleck returns. Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, War for the Planet of the Apes) set to direct.  Joe Mangianello was set as Deathstroke, the villain, however, there are rumors that Deathstroke is out and The Penguin is in as an effort to lighten up this franchise. Frankly, I’d rather see  Bookworm (with Tom Cruise or Colin Firth). Affleck wrote the script with Geoff Johns, however, Reeves is starting over from scratch and going for a detective noir approach.  Hence, the delay.  This will be a standalone film and not part of the DCEU.
  • Infinity Wars Part Two   May 3rd — What was to have been a 2-parter from The Russo Bros. has now become Avengers 4 which supposedly wraps up the current group, including Chris Evans as Captain America who completes his contract with Marvel with this film.
  • Star Wars, Ep. IX   — Dec. 20th —  How will LucasFilm resolve General Leia’s story? Respectfully.  J.J. Abrams steps in to write and direct. Expectations very low.
  • Untitled Fox/Marvel Film  June 7th — Gambit, anyone?
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming Pt. 2   July 5th — Tom Holland and Marisa Tomei scored in Civil War and are rewarded with a 3-parter.  Expect director Jon Watts to return for the sequel.
  • Captain Marvel   Okay, Brie Larson.  July (tent.) Ya got your work cut out for ya. Story is set pre-Avengers in the ’90s with Nick Fury not wearing an eye patch! Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck to direct. Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Tomb Raider) scripts.
  • The Flash  Ezra Miller’s standalone film has been plagued with problems. New script and new director caused the film to get pushed back by a year or more. Hope they get this film on track as Miller was the highlight of the Justice League trailer form Comic-Con.

captain-marvel

  • X-Force A team franchise led by Deadpool, Fox will make it work for better or worse (Fantastic Four anyone?). Drew Goddard writes and directs this non-virtuous team of X-Men which also includes Josh Brolin’s Cable. Ryan Reynolds gets an EP credit.
  • Shazam!      (TBD) David F. Sandberg (Annabelle) set to direct, and Dwayne Johnson is set to produce and to star as Black Adam, the villain of Shazam, in a spinoff film. Supposedly, Shazam! is the next DCEU film to go into production in 2018.
  • James Bond 25 — Purvis and Wade scripting. No director set. No distributor.  Daniel Craig returns one more time as James Bond, though. More info forthcoming.
  • Justice League Part Two    — November (tent.) Introducing Green Lantern!
  • Fantastic Beasts 3 (November)
  • Untitled Fox/Marvel Film — Nov. 22nd — More X-Men! Or possibly, Dr. Doom from Fantastic Four with Noah Hawley (Legion) helms.
  • Wonder Woman 2 — Dec. 13th — Director Patty Jenkins has set the sequel story during the Cold War with Russia.  Who’s the next villain for Diana, though?  My money is on Ares’ son.  Nerdist breaks ’em down 5 Villains for WW2

007

 

2 0 2 0:

  • Cyborg   — Feb. 14th (tent.) Oy.  Can’t say I am really interested, so DC Comics and Warner Bros. have their work cut out for them.
  • Green Lantern   Hope they take this character seriously and not pull a Deadpool.
  • TBA Disney/Marvel Studios x3   Fingers crossed one of these films will be a Black Widow standalone film. More likely, one is a sequel to the well-received Doctor StrangeAvengers 4 looks likely to be one of these three films which will lead into a re-boot of the MCU, presumably, with all new, less expensive Avengers. Silver Sable & Black Cat to be written and directed by Gina Prince-Blythewood, looks to be another if Sony has a say about it.
  • TBA Fox Marvel Film — March 13th
  • Superman: Man of Steel 2 What villians are left for Superman to battle? No interest in Lex Luthor. Sorry, Jessie Eisenberg.  Too twitchy.  Save this franchise, Matthew Vaughn.  Colin Firth as the villain!
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 — May 1st.  James Gunn directs. Will we see the adventures of the original Ravagers and a new mix tape?  This is the 2nd of the three MCU films slated, most likely.
  • TBA Fox Marvel Film — June 26th
  • Indiana Jones: Retirement Home — Okay, that’s not the title, but still.  I love me some Harrison Ford, but Crystal Skull was painful to watch. Karen Allen hopes to return as Mrs. Jones.
  • Gotham City Sirens Solo outing for Harley Quinn. Who are the other Sirens:  Catwoman? David Ayer set to direct.
  • Harley & Joker: Suicide Squad Spinoff #3 — John Requa & Glenn Ficarra (Whiskey Tango Foxtrot) to write, direct and produce. Jared Leto is attached to reprise his Joker in this film.
  • Nightwing (tent.) Of all the recently announced DCEU films, I am most interested in this Dick Grayson-centric film. Am guessing it’s a prequel of sorts since Robin’s demise is alluded to in BvS. Bill Dubuque (The Accountant, The Judge) scripts. Chris McKay (LEGO Batman) directs.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming, Pt. 3  Let’s hope the first two worked.
  • TBA Fox Marvel Film — Oct. 2nd
  • Justice League Dark from DC & Warner Bros. features new-ish characters with a supernatural streak.  Constantine is the most well-known.  Paging Keanu Reeves!
  • Suicide Squad 2 (tent.) Mel Gibson to direct? Nope. Gavin O’Connor (The Accountant) gets the job. I would rather see the Legion of Doom.
  • Batgirl (tent.) Barbara Gordon gets her own standalone film courtesy of Joss Whedon who knows a lot about girl power.
  • Avatar 2: Who Can Remember The First One? — Dec. 18th — James Cameron envisions the four sequels as a family saga akin to The Godfather trilogy. Stephen Lang returns as the villain.

BATGIRL

2 0 2 1:

  • TBA Fox Marvel Film — March 5th! See Gambit.
  • Joker: Origin Story — TBD.  Jared Leto is not attached to star, but Martin Scorcese is attached to direct. Todd Phillips and Scott Silver script.
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi: The Years In Exile — Okay, that’s not the title, but it does describe the film planned where LucasFilm connects the dots between Trilogies. Ewan MacGregor wants to reprise the role.
  • Gambit  — TBD — Channing Tatum seems awfully busy these days what with Kingsman: The Golden Circle, that Splash re-make and the Van Helsing re-make and all.  Is this film happening?  Doug Liman was set to direct with an original release date of October 2016, which clearly did not happen.
  • Avatar 3 — Dec. 17th — Yawn.

 

N E X T    U P:

Summer is upon us.  Let’s surf. New stories await.

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TV Surf Report: Super Heroes, Sci Fi & Fantasy Still Trending Across Broadcast, Cable and Streaming Services

young-xmen

Santa Monica, CA — Just when you thought the small screen invasion of Super Heroes couldn’t possibly get any more crowded, look no further at the upcoming pilots and series in development featuring more DC Comics and Marvel Studios properties, among others.

Don’t get too attached to NBC’s Powerless, a half-hour comedy set in the DC Universe at a Wayne Enterprises-owned Insurance Company. Anemic ratings do not bode well.  Meanwhile, there’s Neil Gaiman’s American Gods at Starz, and Legion on FX, which has already been picked up for Season 2.  Plus, Netflix has just premiered Iron Fist, the latest Marvel character to be introduced prior to the team franchise debut of The Defenders.

iron-fist    charmed-s1

http://www.nbc.com/powerless?nbc=1

Trailer for Legion on FX

powerless-group   legion-solo-shot

On the air:

  • Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow at The CW.
  • Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at ABC.
  • Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher at Netflix.
  • Gotham, Lucifer on FOX.
  • Preacher at AMC.
  • Legion at FX

defenders   watchmen

Pilots in development include:

  • Untitled X-Men Pilot at FOX.  Bryan Singer directs.  Matt Nix (Burn Notice) writes and exec produces this story of a family led by two ordinary parents forced to take their Mutant kids on the run from a hostile government.  They discover an underground network of mutant families while on the lam. Sounds like This Is Us meets Running On Empty…but with Mutants!
  • The Defenders on Netflix.  Series order for the group franchise featuring Marvel’s Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist.
  • Inhumans at ABC.  Reportedly, not a spin-off of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Charmed at The CW.  Re-boot of the Aaron Spelling series from the writers of the netlet’s Jane the Virgin.  New set of three sisters in the Northeast in the ’70s.
  • Krypton at SyFy.  David Goyer executive produces this prequel featuring Superman’s grandfather who is an environmental lawyer fighting to save the planet. Poor guy.
  • Cloak & Dagger on Freeform.  Another Marvel property.  Cast just announced.

cloak-and-dagger   squirrel-girl

  • Xena at NBC.  Re-boot written by Javier Grillo-Marxuach seems to have stalled.  G-M is no longer involved.
  • The Passage at FOX.  Okay, this adaptation of Justin Cronin’s fantastically dark novel about genetically created Vampires is not technically super hero-ish, however, the fantastic element, and the quasi-futuristic setting does take it to that Fantasy/Sci Fi realm, so I’ve included it.  Great book.  Highly recommend but it’s disturbing (because it’s so plausible and emotionally troubling).
  • Watchmen at HBO.  Zack Snyder’s feature was creatively not great, but that’s not stopping him from giving it the small screen treatment in a bit of corporate synergy at WB’s sister company.
  • Star Trek: Discovery at CBS All Access.  Series premiere has been delayed but casting is underway. Again, not Super Heroes, yet still super Science Fiction.
  • Squirrel Girl and the New Warriors at Freeform. Series order. Another Marvel property, but this will be a live-action comedy. Premiere set for 2018.
  • Future Man at Hulu.  Seth Rogen exec produces with Josh Hutcherson (Hunger Games).  Janitor by night. Gamer who saves the Universe by day?
  • Black Lightning at The CW.  Pilot commitment.  Greg Berlanti exec produces this DC Comics adaptation.  Project was originally set up at Fox.
  • Warrior at Cinemax.  Bruce Lee’s passion project is directed by Justin Lin.
  • The Tick at Amazon. Creator Ben Edlund’s darker and more grounded take stars Peter Serafinowicz.
  • Marvel’s Runaways at Hulu.  Teenagers on the run from their evil parents.
  • Damage Control at ABC.  Rollover from last year, but probably too late if Powerless succeeds.
  • Star Wars: The Series at ABC.  Get ready for the Star Wars Extended Universe to hit the small screen.

inhumans

 

N E X T   U P:

Deadpool. Oscar Nominations. Profanity.

deadpool-on-bearskin-rug

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

la-la-land-oscar-noms   kcrw-the-treatment-la-la-land

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):

LLL d 12 _2433.NEF

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

lala-land-fwy    la-la-land-trolley

  • 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

deadpool   deadpool-on-bearskin-rug

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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.

will-grace-revival    charmed-s1

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.

selfie-in-snowy-pc-sign

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