Friday, July 29, 2011

Daytime Dramas: "Soap Operas" Are they Dead? Can they be Fixed? Will Online Work?

Today I read that Hayley Ripa and Mark Consuelos are making a reality television series for soap stars including General Hospital's Kelly Monaco and Kirsten Storms Days of Our Lives' Nadia Bjorlin and Galen Gering, One Life To Lives' Farah Fath and JP Lavoisier.  My thoughts are that a reality show can bring popularity back or increase popularity for stars.   Can a reality show increase the popularity of an entire genre of popular culture?  If I were asking the magic eight ball for an answer the dice in the ball would read "Outlook not so good."

As a young child I remember my mom used to be home during the day (work at night); she would be cleaning and taking care of the house and at lunch time The Young and Restless would come on, and we would watch that then The Bold and the Beautiful then As the World Turns.  My first soap memory was from As the World Turns with the character Emily in the shower about to be attacked by the villainous James Stenbeck.  As I grew older I continued to follow these shows, rooting for my favorite characters (sometimes the villains), hoping couples would end up together (that some would break up), and so on. 

When my mom started to work in the daytime, my grandparents would take shifts or different days watching me.  My one set of grandparents also would watch soap operas.  At 12:30 they would start to watch The Young and the Restless, but then at 1 my grandmother would want to watch All My Children.  So my grandfather would go into the kitchen to finish his show.  I always though that this was such a cute routine.  With this routine I would stay with my grandmother, and then I was introduced to Erica Kane and her manipulative ways.  Then I started to to watch One Life to Live

My sister and I also used to watch Passions, and I always wanted to say like my grandmother that I watched a show from the beginning.  My grandmother was a huge Guiding Light fan, and she did get to watch the show from the beginning to its end.  The end of Guiding Light was the beginning of the soap opera blood bath.  When I found out that Guiding Light had been cancelled, I was not as shocked.  Their ratings were low and the demographics they had were not great, then came As the World Turns (not shocked just sad), and ABC laid down the hammer of Thor and cancelled not one but two shows All My Children and One Life to Live (and rumor has it General Hospital is not far behind).  This would leave only The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, and Days of Our Lives as the the last three soap operas shown in a traditional manner on network television.  All My Children, One Life to Live (and most likely General Hospital) will all be online.

Soap Operas were extremely popular in the 80s and early to late 90s.  I would call the 1980s to like 1993 the golden age of this genre.  There was a film Soapdish (hilarious) that mocked the day to day behind the scenes activities of the world of soaps.  Then there was one of the funniest films of all time Tootsie which centered around Dustin Hoffman's character dressing up like a woman and landing a role on a soap opera.  Luke and Lauras wedding on General Hospital was watched by 30 million people the highest watched soap opera episode ever!  Those ratings are better than most prime time reality television series. So where did this genre go wrong? Did they go wrong, or was it simply an evolution?

The evolution of media and the connection with online viewing has changed the way people watch shows.  More people are dvring, tvoing, watching things streaming on youtube, or hulu than ever before.  There are more networks than ever before and their niche programming has taken away viewers.  People can sit and watch the Food Network all day and watch people cook there more hosts more shows than ever before, and this is true with every niche channel.  Niche programming and reality television have become cheaper ways to get success for networks, and have allowed them to make money, cut costs, but they also push us further away from scripted television.
Culturally, society is in a different place women do not stay at home and watch the kids as much as they did in the past.  The number of women going into higher education has grown and is higher than men at undergraduate and in some graduate areas.  The audience is not there for a show five days a week for one hour.  Many EP (executive producers) and network big wigs talked about trimming shows down to a half an hour and not doing them five days a week, but for them it was easier to replace them all together, or so it seems.  The dagger to heart for these shows is that they are being replaced with bland knock off talk shows like The Talk and The Chew (two of the worst talk show names, ever!) 

Jesse Tyler Ferguson from Modern Family made a comment about the quality of daytime dramas on his twitter account, stated something to the effect of, I understand why these shows are being cancelled (he recanted quickly), but this is a valid argument.  Are soap operas still providing quality television, acting, story lines, are they relevant?  People who have watched shows for years upon years have started to give up on shows because of the quality.  The quality of a show matters!  You can just shovel out shit, and the five day a week hour long model has prevented writers from taking the time to truly listen.  The network executives have had too much control over shows as well.

Many shows have replaced talented older actors with younger prettier faces who can't act.  Acting within this genre is melodramatic and over the top, but there have a been a lot of famous people who have become bigger stars, after soap operas, which proves there has been quality acting.  There are also people who have stayed on shows for years and are some top notch actors/actresses: David Canary, Erika Slezak, Susan Flannery, Jeanne Cooper, Anthony Geary, and I could name so many more people.

Shows have moved away from core families families, and brought in new characters that make no sense to the storyline then what's the point (another recent trend). Are shows true to the shows history? Why get rid of the Quartermaines on General Hospital?  Or the Abbotts on The Young and the Restless?  If I know anything in this country its that people care about family, and focusing on the family is something shows just don't do a good of anymore. 

[one+life+to+live.jpg]Writers, EPs, and network executives have created story lines have been unfaithful to fans and the the shows history. Taking away Erica Kane's abortion (the first abortion ever done on television) was a travesty.   ABC soaps have been the worst at this, but towards the end Guiding Light became a culprit of this as well to pull in viewers by "assassinating" characters and completely changing them out of nowhere. Writers who work on these shows need to respect the fans (and not just the teenage girl mentality of we need hot people), and listen to their audience and write for them.  The have also been several great culturally relevant storylines, but they have pushed out quickly because "the actors are difficult."  The recent gay storyline on One Life to Live got the show a lot of attention, and they got rid of it as quickly as it started.  Soaps need to stay true to their roots but push boundaries more like One Life to Live did.  Bringing in a famous person to guest star in your story can not save your show! James Franco!!

The fans are the life blood of this genre.  Am I happy AMC and OLTL are going online, possibly. Will this be the right solution, maybe.  I could write on this topic forever, and there are so many directions I could go with this, but for now I am still glad that there is still a some sand left in the hour glass.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cougartown: Time for a Name Change

While at lunch with my co-workers we were talking about everything pop culture (like we always do) and I don't remember exactly how it came to be but I thought in my mind about Cougar Town and uttered the words "Cougartown really needs to change its name."  I remember at the end of season one series creator Bill Lawrence (Scrubs) had debated changing the name of the show, and word on the street was that it was going to happen, but in the eleventh hour the show stuck with Cougartown.
Cougar Town Bikes
I have watched a few episodes of the show, and it is pretty funny.  I watched the pilot, and hated the show, so I gave up, then watched towards the end of the first season and was pleasantly surpised the show had become so much more than what originally aired.  I have also watched a handful of episodes in the second season as well.  The stars of the show Courtney Cox, Busy Phillips, Christa Miller are just great.  These are three funny ladies and Lawrence and his writers know how to work with them.  Many fans of the show are outraged that major award shows don't pay attention, and that it doesn't pull in more viewers.  I have to say after lunch today it hit me, the name of the show is so divisive and in my opinion awful it turns people away from the show.

cougar-town-dont-do-me.jpgUsing Shakespeare's famous words uttered by Juliet in his most famous work Romeo and Juliet "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."  Using this analogy the name of the show shouldnt matter,because it is still quality programming, but I believe it matters a great deal.  Most shows with unappealing titles changed their titles prior their pilot or very early on in the shows history before it could become popular.  Dynasty was called Oil originally.  After about 3 or 4 four episodes The Happy Days was changed to Happy Days.  There were also shows that changed their name in the middle of the series.  Two Guys a Girls and Pizza Place changed to Two Guys and a Girl because they dropped the pizza place.  8 Simple Rules to Dating my Teenage Daughter went to 8 Simple Rules after the death of John Ritter.  These shows all changed their names for functional reasons, but I think Cougartown should change its name to stay afloat because I can the axe coming down next year from ABC if it doesn't produce strong numbers.

I was opposed to the name change because I remember the options that Bill Lawrence floated around, and they were all worse of just too bland.  This show does have pizaz and its name should fit.  I think Cougar Town needs to go and a new name be considered for this upcoming season.  Now I am not diehard fan as say Aped from Community with this show, but I have to pose this question to all of you, what would you change the name of the show to?

August Movies: Movies to See and Movies to Avoid

Back a couple of months ago I talked about movies to avoid during the months of June and July.  I was right on some, and and wrong on others, it happens.  I will also add that many of the films I told people to avoid I ended up seeing like Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which is the highest grossing domestic film right now (scary)!  After seeing Captain America: The First Avenger this past weekend I heard a young woman outside the theatre state "I hated it.  What was the point?  I wanted some struggle from the main character.  I did not want to see a film where the main character just plows through villain after villain.  I wanted some struggle."  My personal opinion is that this girl's emotions are valid, but she was also going to see a comic book movie and should realized what she was getting into, and her complaints held less merit.  Yet the thing about film is that everyone has opinion about what they think is good, bad, ugly, or just not their style.  Here is what I will be seeing in August, and what I will be avoiding.

August 5th:

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APESSeeing it: The Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  When I heard this was being released I groaned with
disdain, the Mark Wahlberg edition was terrible!  Then the preview for this film was released, and I was sold, great cast, interesting concept about how things start, and just looks pretty awesome.

Not Seeing it: The Change-Up.  Tale as old as time, another movie where people switch places, what's the point?  And, no Jason Bateman just because this is R rated does not mean it puts a spin on this type of a story it just means you can swear more and show more nudity.  This movie looks painfully unfunny.

August 12th:

Seeing it: The Help (August 10th).  The book was a bit dry and lacked the depth I wanted from the story, but with a great cast this film could pull off making the film better than the book.  I love Emma Stone and Viola Davis, and they are both reason enough for me to see any film (within reason).

30 Minutes or Less.  With Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, and Aziz Ansari, where can you go wrong?  This comes from the director of Zombieland, another hilarious film so I am there (probably before I go see The Help).

Not Seeing it: Final Destination 5.  I thought the last film was called The Final Destination?  Enough already, the premise was clever in the beginning, but now you are just wasting money that could be spent on other films.

August 19th:

Not Sold Yet: One Day.  This film is based on a very popular book, and the director did an excellent job with the film An Education, but Anne Hathaway is not one of my favorite leading ladies; she has her strong and her annoying moments for me.  Going to see this film will be based on word of mouth for me.

Not Seeing it: Conan the Barbarian and Fright Night.  Two old concepts (as films) reimagined for the year 2011 and current audiences.  I have no interest in either of these films.  Sure Conan looks hot and Collin is sexy as a bad guy, but like I always say pretty people don't make me go to the movies.  I want good writing and acting, and it looks like these two films have neither!

August 26th:

Not Seeing: Anything! The wide realease films this week are Don't be Afraid of the Dark, a horro film starring Katie Holmes (nuff said), and Our Idiot Brother where Paul Rudd plays to schtick and not his strenghts.

August is when the summer movie season starts to slow down, there are less blockbusters and more smaller scales films.  I always look at August as the waste of the summer, the trail end.  August is is always a month where I do not see as many films, and it looks like this pattern will continue!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger: The Last and Admirable Piece of the Puzzle on the Way to the Avengers

Captain America: The First Avenger (3 out of 5 stars)
Directed by: Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer, Jumanji, and October Sky)
Written by: Christopher Markus, Steven McFeely
Starring: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Tommy Lee Jones, Stanley Tucci, and Hugo Weaving

In the most recent comic book adaptation we have "America's most patriotic hero" Captain America.  The story starts with the discovery of Captain America's shield in the ice and then a flashback America during World War II.  While hoping to join the military a scrawny Steve Rogers is constantly rejected because of he is not "fit" to be a soldier like his best friend whom he calls 'Bucky.'  Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) sees how much pluck Rogers has and offers him an opportunity to enlist with the help what is known as the "super soldier serum"  The serum helps Rogers to become the famous Captain America, who becomes almost super human.  The main villain is Johann Schmidt (Red Skull) played by the amazing Hugo Weaving who is attempting to manipulate the power of Odin in order to create a powerful object to take over the world with Nazi based organization of Hydra.

Captain America is not the best comic book film, but Johnston does a great job turning this into action packed adventure with a lot of good laughs mixed in.  I was not convinced Evan was going to be capable of handling the role, but they played to his strengths and he handled the role aptly.  The real stand out of this film, was Tommy Lee Jones.  Jones is a terrific actor and his mix of wit and cantankerousness make this film more entertaining.  The visuals and the art direction were well crafted and made it feel like an old comic book come to life.

At moments Captain America is often too invincible, and his invulnerability can be off putting.  Yet the one thing that remains is that his heart is true and he remains faithful to his character.  The film aims to build up to create the new Avengers film which will be released in summer 2012, and this film helps to build the arsenal.  I think this film is more fun popcorn fair than serious social commentary like Iron Man was, but I think fun popcorn fair was the best way for this film to become successful.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

In Memoriam: Amy Winehouse


It was announced today that musician Amy Winehouse passed away.  The cause of her death is unknown at this moment, and I know without watching the news media or reading the blogs everyone will talk about or assume her death was an overdose.  This may be true, but I want to pay tribute to the wonderful music Ms. Winehouse left behind.

In 2008 Winehouse was nominated for 6 Grammy awards and won five of them, including Record of the Year (Rehab), Song of the Year (Rehab), and Best New Artist, three of the highest honors a musician can win; she was nominated for Album of the Year as well for Back to Black.  This is one of my favorite CDs, and I think of the best CDs of the 2000s.  Winehouse had soul and an incredible knack for creating beautifully written music.

Everyone has been hoping for a follow up CD to this body of work, but her drug and alcohol use had prevented her from working.  Winehouse will always be remembered as an artist who died before her time; she was a troubled soul but her music leaves a haunting imprint on me.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Best Television Cliffhangers

I must admit that as a young child I used to watch All My Children with my grandmother, and when I heard this year that it would end I was pretty sad.  Daytime dramas are a huge cultural part of television history.  More on the demise of this genre later, the real story is that All My Children may pay homage to one of the "best" cliffhangers in television history, Dynasty.  At the end of the season five there was an attack at a wedding, gunfire, and a pile of bodies left on the floor.  At the start of season 6, 60 million people tuned in to find out who lived and who died in the "massacre."

1-Dallas/The Simpsons (Who Shot....) In Dallas the patriarch of the Ewing family was shot.  This story had everyone buzzing the whole summer after the event happened.  Everyone had a motive, and the guessing game began, this is the most famous television cliffhanger.  I put the Simpson's in this category because they followed with a parody of this a few years later with someone shooting Mr. Burns.  This parody was hilarious and ended with fans playing the guessing game all the summer.

2-Alias (It's Been how Long?)- Sydney Bristow finds out her roomate Francie was killed and replace with an agent; she fights the agent and gets knocked out.  When Sydney wakes up she find out that years have passed. I was blown away.  What would happen next?! Well Vaughn ended getting married during the time, and my least favorite season, season 3 happened.

3-Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Did she Really Die?) In what was my favorite season of Buffy (except for the incarnation of Michelle Trachtenberg)  at the end of the season Buffy sacrifices herself to save her sister from "the big bad."  Being a sci-fi show everyone knew she would be back, but this also was the limbo between Buffy moving from the WB to the UPN, so everyone was wondering what changes would happen.

Monica and Chandler's wedding4-Friends (The One with all the Cliffhangers)  Friends did a pretty good job with their cliffhangers, but I think the best one was the end of season seven.  Monica and Chandlier are getting married, and everyone thinks Monica is pregnant.  Cut to after the "I Do's" and Monica claims she isn't pregnant. Who is the father?! I think most fans assumed it would be Ross, but they still shocked us with this revelation that created an Emmy winning season 8.

5-Dynasty/The West Wing (The Massacre Situation)- I hate to lump these two shows into the same category because The West Wing is a far superior show, but both shows handled this very well. In The West Wing, the President's daughter was dating Charlie, who was black and a group of neo Nazis attacked the President and his group as they were coming out of an event.  Like in Dynasty, fans were waiting to find out who lived and who died.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

MTV VMA Nominations: Does MTV still even play music videos?

I have been bad with my blog this month, between starting a new job, getting to meet and hang out with new people, being bad about keeping touch with friends etc...this has suffered.  One of the things I have thought about is how much pop culture I consume (not just film) so I want to make sure I start to cover things that are a part of the different avenues, specifically more music and television.  So what better way to move in this direction than to discuss something that involves music television.

While I was on a work retreat, I came back to find that MTV had announced their Video Music Award (VMA) nominations.  This has become a yearly tradition for this network since the year I was born 1984.  During the eighties into even the very 2000s MTV actually played music videos on a consistent basis.  Since the cancellation of Total Request Live and the inception of more shows like Teen Mom, 16 and Pregnant, True Life, endless dating shows etc. MTV has not played music videos much anymore.  The only time you can see them is very early in the morning.  I hate what this network has become.  this network was once the pioneer for launching great music careers, now it launches the career of "celebrities" like Snookie from the Jersey Shore.  The VMAs helped launch Madonna, and many other artists to great careers.  My rant against MTV could go on forever, like the fact that they control the programming for LOGO (the LGBT channel) and the programming is awful, but I want to focus a little more on the nominations today.

Here is a list of all the nominees (from Perez Hilton)  Katy Perry had the most nominations; she is is not the best singer, but this year her videos went above and beyond most, and she deserves many nominations.  I think that Firework is one of my favorite videos because it just has a wonderful message. The problem is I since these music videos are on I have to search for them, and predicting the winners or even picking a favorite is difficult.

Adele, "Rolling In The Deep"
Tyler, The Creator, "Yonkers"
Katy Perry, "Firework"
Bruno Mars, "Grenade"
Beastie Boys, "Make Some Noise"
After watching these videos I would pick either Katy Perry or the Beastie Boys, but none of these videos had that WOW factor.

Adele, "Rolling In The Deep"
Katy Perry, "Firework"
Beyonce, "Run The World (Girls)"
Nicki Minaj, "Super Bass"
Lady Gaga, "Born This Way"
This is always one of the best categories at the VMAs for me.  Beyonce's video is fun.  Adele's is classic.  Gaga is well Gaga, and Nicki Minaj is eh...I would go with Katy Perry's video.

Cee Lo Green, "F*** You"
Eminem feat. Rihanna, "Love The Way You Lie"
Bruno Mars, "Grenade"
Kanye West feat. Rihanna & Kid Cudi, "All Of The Lights"
Justin Bieber, "U Smile"
I like Cee Lo's video hands down, its just fun

Lil Wayne feat. Cory Gunz, "6’7’"
Kanye West feat. Rihanna & Kid Cudi, "All Of The Lights"
Chris Brown feat. Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes, "Look At Me Now"
Nicki Minaj, "Super Bass"
Lupe Fiasco, "The Show Goes On"
This one goes to Kanye for me, its pretty good!

Foster The People, "Pumped Up Kicks"
Wiz Khalifa, "Black and Yellow"
Tyler, The Creator, "Yonkers"
Big Sean feat. Chris Brown, "My Last"
Kreayshawn, "Gucci Gucci"
With a a video of the year nomination Tyler the creator will most likely win, but the video is not for me 

Adele, "Rolling In The Deep"
Bruno Mars, "Grenade"
NE-YO, Nayer & Afrojack, "Give Me Everything"
Katy Perry, "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)"
Britney Spears, "Till The World Ends"
This will be Adele's prize, but I'd like to give it to Britney

The Black Keys, "Howlin For You"
Foo Fighters, "Walk"
Foster The People, "Pumped Up Kicks"
Mumford & Sons, "The Cave"
Cage The Elephant, "Shake Me Down"
I think Mumford and Sons will win this, there surge of popularity helps

Pitbull feat. NE-YO, Nayer & Afrojack, Give Me Everything
Chris Brown feat. Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes, "Look At Me Now"
Rihanna & Kid Cudi, "All Of The Lights"
Katy Perry feat. Kanye West, "E.T."
Nicki Minaj feat. Drake, "Moment 4 Life"
Another win for Katy Perry, and this video is out there!

Adele, "Rolling In The Deep"
Katy Perry, "Firework"
Lady Gaga, "Judas"
Kanye West, "Power"
Death Cab For Cutie, "You Are A Tourist"
Beyonce, "Run The World (Girls)"
Britney Spears, "Till The World Ends"
Lady Gaga, "Judas"
Bruno Mars, "The Lazy Song"
LMFAO feat. Lauren Bennett & GoonRock, "Party Rock Anthem"
Adele, "Rolling In The Deep"
Beyonce, "Run The World (Girls)"
Eminem feat. Rihanna, "Love The Way You Lie"
Katy Perry, "Teenage Dream"
Thirty Seconds To Mars, "Hurricane"
Beastie Boys, "Make Some Noise"
Katy Perry feat. Kanye West, "E.T."
Thirty Seconds To Mars, "Hurricane"
Eminem feat. Rihanna, "Love The Way You Lie"
Adele, "Rolling In The Deep"
Katy Perry feat. Kanye West, "E.T."
Thirty Seconds To Mars, "Hurricane"
Adele, "Rolling In The Deep"
Kanye West feat. Rihanna & Kid Cudi, "All Of The Lights"
Manchester Orchestra, "Simple Math"
Manchester Orchestra, "Simple Math"
Katy Perry feat. Kanye West, "E.T."
Kanye West, "Power"
Linkin Park, "Waiting For The End"
Chromeo, "Don’t Turn The Lights On"

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Harry Potter Finishes with Strength, Dignity, and Tears

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars)
Directed by: David Yates
Written by: Steven Kloves
Starring: Danielle Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman

harry potter and the deathly hallows part 2 reviews

The film opens as the Deathly Hallows Part 1 ended, Voldemort gains the elder wand, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione are on the beach by Fleur and Bill Weasley's safe house.  The rest of the story is for the viewer.  The final chapter in this series of films is about the epic battle of Harry vs. Lord Voldemort.  

The journey of these films has been interesting.  The films have captured the general elements of the books (some better than others) but there have been a lot of plot points and specific things that fan have missed.  With four different directors, unlike the Lord of the Rings trilogy there has been no cohesive vision or direction.  The smartest move these films did was continue with David Yates for the last four films.  Yates got his grove with Half Blood Prince, and then knew how to create the end to this series.  The thing I appreciate most about his direction is that you can tell he cares about these characters, the films, and he actually has grown in his art form and become a better director.

I think whether you were a fan of the books, a fan of of the movies and not the books, viewers will be blown away by the climax of this film.  Daniel Radcliffe has grown into a stunning actor, and he was brilliant in this film, I dare say he deserves attention in the best actor category at the Academy Awards.  The film is a technical marvel, as usual they succeed once again with their score (the brilliant Alexandre Desplat) and cinematography.  This film has wonderful art direction, and the best visual effects in any of the eight films.  The thing I enjoyed most was the fact that Maggie Smith was used more, and she was just brilliant!!

I was blown away by this film, it was so good it made cry, laugh, gave me chills, and there was satisfaction that the series ended well.  As a huge Potter fan I had my bones of contention.  Many of the characters the deaths at the end (yes people die, but I will not say who) felt rushed anti-climatic.  I loved Alan Rickman, and thought he played Snape flawlessly in all eight films, but felt that he was underused. I am not ah huge fan of Rowling's epilogue from her book, and it felt a touch awkward at the end here but with minor flaws the film left me empty.  Empty because I will miss the magical world of Harry Potter,  but this film went above and beyond in closing things off at the end.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Emmy's Can't do Sci-Fi or Quirky Comedies

Drama Categories:  Well I predicted the six nominees in this category.  I love Dexter, but don't think it
belongs here for this season.  I would have replaced it with The Walking Dead or Justified (don't watch Fringe).  The Emmy's have nominated shows that have a sciene fiction feel (Lost, The X-Files) but it appears The Walking Dead was too much for them.  Justified recieved nominations for all of its actors, but not the show?  Does not make much sense, but overall I'd say this category is great.  I am for Friday Night Lights, The Good Wife, and Mad Men.

With regards to acting, Hugh Laurie needs to go, his character is more a charicature than developing depth.  Mariska I love ya but "You gotta go!"  I think it is baffling that Sedgwick was kicked out of the lead actress category the year after she wins.   Kathy Bates ia another head scracther she is incredibly batey like James Spader in Boston Legal.  Great job with the cast of Justified they deserved their nominations.  Michelle Forbes was great in The Killing, and I am glad that a few of the men on The Good Wife made their mark.

Missing out: Katey Segal, John Noble, and the men of Boardwalk Empire (I am sorry folks these are the realistic ones for me)

Modern Family, CastComedy Categories: The Office should be gone, and replaced with either Raising Hope or Community.  The problem with both those shows is that they fit into categories that the Emmy's tend to shy away from.  Raising Hope fits in with the that blue collar comedy that never fairs well (I am being polite with my language).  Raising Hope fits the trend to My Name is Earl, and Roseanne, they will nominate the actors just not the show, because they are not middle class blue collar, but poor blue collar.  Community fits into the extreme qurik factor.  Even Arrested Development was not a huge Emmy magnet, it won the outstanding comedy series award only once and never won an acting award.  Community would have replace Glee for me.  Glee was just all over the place this year, and does not deserve to be here.

The lead races for comedy actor and actress are the best they have been in a while.  I am very proud of the Emmy voters for doing a good job here.  I know many will be "surprised" by Melissa McCarthy, but she was announcing and had Bridesmaids on her side, and she deserves this.  Good for Modern Family getting all six actors nominated.  The supporting categories are boring otherwise.  I do not think Lynch deserves to be nominated for Glee this year.  Jon Cryer? Really?! I guess they wanted to give him a token for having to work with Charlie Sheen.  My other pet peeve is that SNL actors are nominated in these categories, they should not be here!

Missing out: Joel McHale, Danny Puddi, Nick Offerman, Courtney Cox (she never had a shot), Toni Collette, Neil Patrick Harris,and Rob Lowe.

Overall the nominees are moving in the right direction and this is pretty good list!
Most Nominations (Drama and Comedy Series)
Mad Men-19 nominations
Boardwalk Empire-18 nominations
Modern Family-17 nominations
Game of Thrones-13 nominations
30 Rock-13 nominations

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Emmy Nomination Predictions: My Predictions and Stats After

Outstanding Drama Series
Boardwalk Empire
Game of Thrones
Friday Night Lights
The Good Wife
Mad Men

6 for 6: This was an easy category to predict

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Steve Buscemi-Boardwalk Empire
Kyle Chandler-Friday Night Lights
Michael C. Hall-Dexter
John Hamm-Mad Men
Hugh Laurie-House
William H. Macy-Shameless x-Timothy Olyphant

5 for 6: I am glad they went with Timothy Olyphant instead of of Williams H. Macy

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Connie Britton-Friday Night Lights
Mariska Hargitay-Law & Order: SVU
Julianna Marguilles-The Good Wife
Elisabeth Moss-Mad Men
Katey Segal-Sons of Anarchy x-Mirelle Enos-The Killing
Kyra Sedgwick-The Closer x- Kathy Bates-Harry's Law

4 for 6:  Giving Sedgwick the award last year was their way of pushing her away apparently.  Kathy Bates is a terrible nominee (should have predicted her).  Mirelle Enos got in from The Killing too.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Andre Braugher-Men of a Certain Age
Josh Charles-The Good Wife
Alan Cumming-The Good Wife
Peter Dinklage-Game of Thrones
Michael Shannon-Boardwalk Empire x-Walter Goggins-Justified
John Slattery-Mad Men

5 for 6-I am shocked that none of the men from Boardwalk Empire got in here, maybe vote splitting prevented that.  Goggins is a great actor and pick.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Christine Baranski-The Good Wife
Christina Hendricks-Mad Men
Michelle Forbes-The Killing
Sharon Gless-Burn Notice x-Margo Martindale-Justified
Kelly McDonald-Boardwalk Empire
Archie Panjabi-The Good Wife

5 for 6-I thought Gless would be back but they went the smart route and picked Margo Martindale from Justified

Outstanding Comedy Series
The Big Bang Theory
Modern Family
The Office
Parks and Recreation
30 Rock

6 for 6: No shockers here, but The Office will be gone next year!

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin-30 Rock
Steve Carrell-The Office
Joel McHale-Community x-Louis CK-Louie
Matthew Morrison-Glee-Matthew LeBlanc-Episodes
Rob Lowe-Parks and Recreation-Johnny Galecki-The Big Bang Theory
Jim Parsons-The Big Bang Theory

3 for 6 : My worst category, but one of the best.  I was close to putting down Galecki and Louie CK but changed my mind at the last minute

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Toni Collette-The United States of Tara x-Martha Plimpton-Raising Hope
Edie Falco-Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey-30 Rock
Laura Linney-The Big C
Melissa McCarthy-Mike and Molly
Amy Poehler-Parks and Recreation

5 for 6: Martha Plimpton made it in here, shocked they bumped in a former winner in the category.  I predicted McCarthy because her role in Bridesmaids got her this nomination.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Ty Burrell-Modern Family
Chris Colfer-Glee
Jesse Tyler Ferguson-Modern Family
Ed O'Neil-Modern Family
Nick Offerman-Parks and Recreation x-Jon Cryer-Two and a Half Men
Eric Stonestreet-Modern Family

5 for 6: I knew all the MF men would make it after last year.  I just did not realize what a hard on they had for Jon Cryer on that terrible show (maybe they felt bad he had to work with Sheen).

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Julie Bowen-Modern Family
Jane Krakowski-30 Rock
Jane Lynch-Glee
Sofia Vergera-Modern Family
Betty White-Hot in Cleveland
Kristin Wiig-Saturday Night Live

6 for 6: No surprises here at all!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Army, Politics and Angst...oh my!

Siriusdom.jpgIn the fifth film Voldemort has returned and the Order of the Phoenix starts to assemble once again.  Fourteen years earlier the Order was comprised of people like Lilly and James Potter, Frank and Alice Longbottom, Peter Pettigrew (turned traitor) and some of of our current characters like the Weasleys, Siruius Black, Remus Lupin, Dumbldore, and many more.  This film sets up for the younger generation to learn to defend themselves and be able to fight back.

There were several scenes in the films, in which first time Potter director David Yates, used to help make this film visually stunning.  The scene were Harry and the rest of the Order fly through and over London, and the epic battle at the end where the wizards and witches duel.  Yates first foray into the world of Harry Potter was not the strongest, but throughout his journey he has grasped the material and used cinematography to help weave the tale.

The main problem is main governing body within the wizarding world, The Ministry of Magic lead by the Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge is in denial and afraid of what Voldemort's return means.  There is some great symbolism within this film built around the new defense against the dark arts teacher, Dolores Umbridge, who also works under Fudge.  Umbridge and the ministry represent a force that wants to pretend that everything is alright, while the wizarding world is falling a part.  This book was published in the post 9/11 world and the invasion of Iraq had just happened.  Rowling is a British author, but this time period had a huge effect on the entire world, and both the UK and US government seemed to work in hand in hand on not understanding the terrorist issues of the world.  I do not know Ms. Rowling's politics, but this book has connections to fighting the authority to do what is right for the citizens of the wizarding world, and not just sitting back and letting things happen.

My least favorite part of this book (the book specifically) and the film is how much angst Harry has.  The angst is understandable because; he is dealing with the death of Cedric Diggory, the return of Voldemort, being called a liar by many of classmates, and seeing visions in his head because of his connection with Voldemort.  the boy is dealing with so much (but in the book again more specifically) I grew tired of him fighting the teenage angst.  The angst combined with Umbridge made this a difficult book to read for me.

With the new film only a few days away I am more and more excited, but still realize that this will be the conclusion to the story of my favorite boy wizard.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Voldemort is Back!!

Well it only made sense that since I finished the Prisoner of Azkaban that I start watching the next Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  In this film Hogwarts is visited by two other schools for witchcraft and wizardry Beauxbatons (located in France) and Durmstrang (have Russian and Bulgarian students).  This is also the film where Voldemort returns in full force.

Beyond the new details of  the plot there is some thing interesting about what JK Rowling has done with the invention of the villain Lord Voldemort; she has created someone so terrifying that characters refer to him as "he who must not be named."  Voldemort is such a complex villain with a dark and twisted past.  The books do a much better job of painting a much richer deeper picture of Voldemort's past.  To be fair the books never intend to make the reader think there is chance he will be good, but they do make you feel sorry for him.  In the fifth film Harry says to him "You will never know love and I feel sorry for you."  

Voldemort's return to his full capacity signals a war that is brewing.  Both the films and the books do a good job of pointing out that there is nothing that is definitively good or definitely evil.  There are shades of grey, and how people choose to act defines which guides their actions.  What if the sorting hat put Harry in Slytherin?  Would the story have changed or would Harry been the wizard he was always meant to be?  Do labels matter, or do actions define people?  Rowling is great at creating this battle between good and bad the light and the dark, but she also states that labels don't matter!  The wizards who come from pureblood families like the Malfoy's or black's were mostly dark, then there are families like the Weasley's who use magic for good.  There are so many complex issues about good and evil that come out of these books.

In the end though beyond the use of the imperius curse the wizards and witches that are bad, are bad!!!  Voldemort is a true villain; he split his soul my killing other people in order to live longer, and murder both muggles, and what he would refer to as "mud bloods."  At the end of this film his return brings about the fear that there are few who are safe from his wrath, especially our main hero, Harry Potter.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: My Favorite Film and Book

Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.'
The third film is where the darker tones really start to sink in within the books.  Sure the second film had Ginny under a spell of the diary and writing on the walls in blood for Voldemort, but the third book. is where  JK Rowling sets it it all in motion.  In the third book we are introduced to the Dementors who are normally prison guards at Azkaban, but have been tasked with protecting Hogwarts from another new character, Siruius Black.  The Dementors "kiss" makes a person feel as though there is no happiness in the world, everything goes cold, and they suck out your soul.   Remus Lupin the the new defense against the arts teacher (and secretly a werewolf) helps Harry battle his fear of the Dementors and teaches him the patronus charm.  Harry's patronus was a stag the the same as his father's.  Sirius Black was another new character who was trapped in Azkaban broke out and was on the look for Harry to "kill" him for Voldemort. Sirius Black was a good friend to James and Lilly Potter, and the godfather to Harry; he was said to be the person who told Voldemort where they were the night they were killed.  The truth was that the real person that lead Voldemort was another new character Peter Pettigrew who hid in his animagus form; he was a Weasley pet, and Ron's pet rat while at Hogwarts.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The third book went into a deeper explanation of the Marauder's Map, the map was created by Remus Lupin (Mooney) Peter Pettigrew (Wormtail), Sirius Black (Padfoot), and Jame Potter (Prongs).  The four of them named this map after their names of their animagus.  My one problem with all the films, is that directors and screenwriters never did a good job of explaining the back story of Harry's parents and their friends.  In the third film Lupin sees him using the map, and confiscates it from him.  There is never any explanation in the film to the viewer that about how the map was created or by whom.  This is only one example and this continues to happen throughout the rest of the films.  Paying attention to history is important, it helps the film viewer to have a better grasp of why things happen.

With that said, this is still both my favorite book and my favorite film.  I love this film because the director Alfonso Cuaron unlike Chris Columbus understands the material so well, and does a good job creating the story of Sirius Black.  I know many people are divided on this film because Cuaron took this film in a very different direction.  Some will say that it doesn't handle the material well, but there are flaws in all the films with regard to misuse of the material.  I think Cuaron knows the subject matter well, and creates a well acted, visually stunning film.  There are great moments of levity and darkness, and the film balances them very well.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanThe one piece of this film that I did not love was the re-cast of Dumbledore.  Richard Harris was the perfect Dumbledore; he was stoic but clever and witty, he never raised his voice and felt just the way Dumbledore was imagined by JK Rowling.  Harris past away, and the role was taken over by Michael Gambon.  Gmabon is a great actor, but was too animated in the first few films, he yelled, and just did not capture the spirit of Dumbledore.  Unfortunately I thought he finally got it right in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

As friday comes closer I am getting more and more excited about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.  I think David Yates (the current director has begun to understand the material well, and will create a great concluding chapter.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Harry Potter According to Chris Columbus: One Week Until the End

Yesterday I finished my first week of work and Orientation at my new job at Northeastern University.  The week was great but I needed some down time at night just to sit back and relax.  My friends have planned to watch all 7 Harry Potter films before the last film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is released next Friday.  Last night we watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's (Philosopher's) Stone, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

This series (in book format and film) has been a huge part of my young adult and adult life.  I remember my sister got a copy of the first book when my grandparents returned from their vacation to Cape Cod when I was in the seventh grade.  My sister is not much of a reader and asked her if I could read the book before she did.  I remember that I felt I had to hide the book because everyone my age around that time would have made fun of me for reading a "little kid's book."  Now in 2011almost fifteen years later both the books and the films are a huge part of me.  I read the first book incredibly quickly and have read many of the books more than once and seen the films a dozen times (each).

The first two books (and films) are the innocence and the three main characters Harry, Ron, and Hermione growing up in a world of witchcraft and wizardry.  In the first book (and film) Harry has lived with his muggle relatives and doesn't know anything about Hogwarts, the world of witchcraft and wizardry, or even how his parents died and how he got his scar.  Then comes the first tale of He Who Must Not be Named or as we would call him Lord Voldemort.  The first book and film set up the fact that Harry and Voldemort will be linked through his murdering Harry's parents and leaving Harry his scar as a mark.

As the second book and film continue we learn more about Voldemort as younger student at Hogwarts, house elfs and the role they play, dead girls in bathrooms, pure blood vs. well in the Malfoy's language "mudbloods" and that when Lord Voldemort attempted to kill Harry the mark he left transferred some of his abilities to Harry.  There was also a second Defense against the dark arts teacher, because the first one was  overtaken by Voldemort.  The second book introduces some important characters and the concept of the Horcuxes (the diary of Tom Riddle-but we did not know it was a Horcrux while reading this book).  This is both my least favorite book and film.  Dobby was annoying, Gildeory Lockheart was a waste, and the story was my least favorite story.

Harry+Potter+and+the+Chamber+of+Secrets+(2002).jpgWithin the film world of Harry Potter there have been several different directors, Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuaron, Mike Newell, and David Yates.  Chris Columbus (Rent, Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire, Stepmom) has directed a wide variety of films.  I have not been a huge fan of his directing style, far too simplistic, but it worked for the first two Harry Potter films.  The first two books are the most simple books in the series.  After the second book JK Rowling turned Harry's world into a much darker place.  Columbus is not the best director; he ruined Rent the film by watering down the subject matter, but he did a good job with the first two films in this series.

Watching these two films reminded me how I love this series, the characters, and the world it created for me.  This book connected me more than any book ever has, and without more films being released it will difficult, but I can always go back to the films or or go back to the books and get lost in the world of Harry Potter.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Top Ten Highest Paid Actresses-Is this a Joke?

While reading today I stumbled upon his listing of the top ten highest paid actresses and they are:

Angelina_Jolie_in_Salt_blonde_brunette.jpg1-Angelina Jolie-30 million-I think I get why she is one of the highest paid actresses; she is hot and people go to see her in movies.  Jolie also makes some good films, and although not the best actress has done a great job in some films, but 30 million?! Really?!  This woman's films do not earn that much money.  Only 5 of her films have made over 100 million dollars.  These films were all action films, and she is a central character.  Having a female driven action film make over 100 million is a feet, so I give her credit.  I do not think anyone is worth 30 million dollars!

2-Sarah Jessica Parker-30 million-This is shocking to me.  Sure she starred in the second highest R rated comedy starring women, but 30 million dollars for what? Did you Hear About the Morgans? Failure to Launch?  What a waste of money!

3-Jennifer Aniston-28 million-Aniston hasn't had a truly successful film career since she finished Friends.  Aniston has never been the focus of a film that did great at the box office.  Her biggest success at the box office was Bruce Almighty, but the attention was clearly on Jim Carrey.  I do not enjoy paying 10 dollars plus to see her play Rachel Green time and time again; she should not be one of the top 4 grossing actresses.

4-Reese Witherspoon-28 million-Reese is a talented actress, versatile, and has made some great films.  In recent years she also has made some poor choices (post her Oscar), so I would not pay her as much as she receives, but she is truly talented and is the first person I came across that deserves to be on this list.  I hope she starts to pick better films soon, otherwise I will have to change my opinion.

5-Julia Roberts-20 million-Ten years I would have agreed with Julia Roberts being here, but at this point in her career she is longer someone audiences flock to see in a film.  I know she always lowers her fee, or will take a cut for some films, and I respect her for that.  Roberts film career has had peaks and valleys.  I hope this is a short valley and she can pick better, and have a film resurgence.

kristen-stewart-bella-swan-the-twilight-saga-eclipse.jpg6-Kristen Stewart-20 million-She stars in a film series that grosses high, but she has never done anything else successful.  If this were the case then Emma Watson from the Harry Potter series should make this much also.  This girl is ambivalent about her success, and you can tell she doesn't care about what she does; she is fly by night actress who will fade away once the Twilight saga is done.

7-Katherine Heigl-18 million-Another actress who made the move from television to film and has had some moderate hit films.  Hollywood rewards too many actresses with these salaries far too soon, and this is a prime example.

8-Cameron Diaz-18 million-The worst actress on this list, who has been in some pretty awful films.  The only recent successful films she has had lately is the Shrek series; she is beyond overpaid.

mamma-mia-meryl-streep.jpg9-Sondra Bullock-15 million-I like Bullock; she has had some stinkers and flops, but unlike the rest of the actresses on this list the majority of her films have been successful.  When people go to a movie they may actually go because she is the star and well liked, but she is one of the lowest paid on this list.  Ironic how the bottom two actresses deserve to be higher than most of the rest.

10-Meryl Streep-10 million-Lately Streep has not only turned in great performances, but she has also turned in some big hits.  With Mamma Mia!, Julie & Julia, It's Complicated, and The Devil Wears Prada under belt the older crowd has found their goddess and she deserves this salary if not more.

This list for the most part is a joke, even if some of the women were not talented and brought people to the movies in large numbers I could make sense of this list, but many of these women are just not successful, and make salaries that don't match their success rate.