Hulu announces premiere of ‘Eater’s Guide to the World,’ narrated by Maya Rudolph

October 20, 2020

Hulu has released the trailer and photos from the documentary series “Eater’s Guide to the World.” All seven episodes of the first season will premiere on November 11, 2020.

Here is Hulu’s synopsis of the show:

Discover the most surprising culinary destinations in “Eater’s Guide to the World.” Join narrator Maya Rudolph on a quest to find the most unexpected places to score an epic meal, while drinking and dining with the locals along the way.

Season 1, Episode 101: “Dining Alone in the Pacific Northwest

The best part of dining solo? You can focus on what deserves your attention most — the food. Time to eat your way through the Pacific Northwest, savoring the juicy pork steak, soba noodles, and piping hot fried chicken.

Season 1, Episode 102: “Cultural Crossroads in Casablanca”

No cool friend would let you skip Casablanca while on a trip to Morocco. This can’t-miss port city boasts snails, traditional pastilla, and unreal tagine — you’ve gotta taste it all.

Season 1, Episode 103: “The Ass Crack of Dawn in New York City”

It’s last call and you’re freakin’ hungry. What the f*** do you do? Luckily, you’re in New York City, where your crew can choose from mouth-watering options like Korean BBQ, empanadas, and birria — all before the sun hits the horizon.

Season 1, Episode 104: “Jungle to Table in Costa Rica”

The Costa Rican jungle is basically nature’s candy store, and we’d like to invite you in. Bursting with delicious guanabana, cainito, cas, pejibaye, and of course cacao — known to some as the fruit of the gods! Of the GODS, y’all!

Season 1, Episode 105: “Eating on the Hood of Your Car in LA”

Buckle tf up! When you’re in LA, your car’s your sanctuary. Treat it with the respect it deserves, and dig in to life-changing hot chicken, fresh bread drops, and museum-worthy bento boxes in its presence.

Season 1, Episode 106: “Planting Roots in Tijuana Mexico”

Local, regular, newcomer — whoever you are, Tijuana has something delicious for you to eat. Grab a seat and try the craft beer, pork belly tacos, Caesar salad (trust us) and yeah, you’ll want to stay awhile.

Season 1, Episode 107: “Taking Off in America”

You eat at an airport because you have to, not because you want to. But just beyond the departure terminals you’ll find smoky BBQ, sweet n’ fluffy pancakes and a bowl of warm borbor—all worth going the extra mile.

Review: ‘The Binge,’ starring Skyler Gisondo, Dexter Darden, Eduardo Franco, Grace Van Dien, Zainne Saleh and Vince Vaughn

August 28, 2020

by Carla Hay

Dexter Darden, Skyler Gisondo and Eduardo Franco in “The Binge” (Photo by Paul Viggiano/Hulu)

“The Binge” 

Directed by Jeremy Garelick

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed U.S. city, the comedy film “The Binge” has a predominantly white cast of characters (with some African Americans and Latinos) representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: Three friends who are seniors in high school want to win a drug-fueled contest called The Gauntlet, which happens on the one day of the year when all drugs are legal to use for people ages 18 and over.

Culture Audience: “The Binge” will appeal mostly to people who like watching mindless teen comedies.

Skyler Gisondo and Grace Van Dien in “The Binge” (Photo by Paul Viggiano/Hulu)

It seems like “The Binge” was a movie that was inspired at least partially by “The Purge” franchise, and the filmmakers decided to use the same gimmick of “one day of the year that certain crimes are legal” and put it in a very derivative and not-very-funny teen comedy. “The Purge” horror franchise (which includes movies and a TV series spinoff) is all about showing what happens in the U.S. on the one day of the year that all crimes are legal. “The Binge,” which is far from a horror story, instead shows what happens in an unnamed U.S. city, specifically among a group of high schoolers, on the one day of the year that all drugs become legal to use by anyone who’s at least 18 years old.

Besides the obvious “binge and purge” analogy, “The Binge” takes a lot of its cues from “The Purge,” by having the same concept that the reason for this “one day it’s legal to commit certain crimes” is to act as a deterrent to commit the crimes in the future. The idea is that when people get to release these pent-up criminal urges out of their system and are allowed to commit these crimes for one day out of the year, they’ll be so repelled by the horrible results, that it will make them less likely to commit the crimes during the other days of the year when the crimes are illegal.

In the world of “The Binge” (which was directed by Jeremy Garelick and written by Jordan VanDina), alcohol and nicotine are among the drugs that are illegal except for on Binge Day. It’s explained in the beginning of the movie that the reason for this modern-day Prohibition is because America’s drug problem got so out-of-control that lawmakers decided to ban all drugs that have been medically proven to cause diseases (such as cancer) and deaths.

The high schoolers who are at the center of this story sometimes talk about their parents reminiscing about the “good old days” when they could get drunk and it wouldn’t be a crime. (The school in the movie is called American High, which is a cheeky nod to the American High production company that made this film.) Binge Day is therefore a big deal to the teens, especially those who are old enough to participate.

In addition to “The Purge” ripoff idea, “The Binge” recycles most of the over-used tropes that are found in teen movies, including the average-looking, not-very-popular guy who has a secret crush on a good-looking, popular girl. The “average guy” is the story’s protagonist whom the audience is supposed to root for when he keeps bungling his changes to impress the girl he wants to date. In “The Binge,” this guy is Griffin Friedlander (played by Skyler Gisondo), who spends almost the whole movie trying to work up the nerve to ask his dream girl out on a date.

Griffin’s crush is Lena (played by Grace Van Dien), and she’s a student at the same high school, where they are both seniors. And, of course, Griffin wants to ask her to the school’s prom, but he’s too shy. Lena is nice to Griffin, because they’ve known each other for several years, but she seems to want to put him in the casual “friend zone.” 

The average guy/protagonist usually isn’t a complete loner, because he usually has a sidekick/best friend, who’s more confident/wacky/extroverted than he is. In “The Binge,” that character is Hags (played by Dexter Darden), who has his own secret crush who goes to the same school. Hags wants to date bratty troublemaker Sarah Martin (played by Zainne Saleh), who predictably wants nothing to do with him.

And often, in formulaic teen movies like this one, there’s a third person who ends up in the “underdog” group of friends who spend most of the movie trying to achieve the same goal. The “third wheel/weirdo” in the story is Andrew (played by Eduardo Franco), who’s not very close to Griffin and Hags, but Andrew ends up hanging out with them and becoming their friend by default because he wants to be their “wingman” during Binge Day.

Andrew wants to help Hags and Griffin win The Gauntlet, a Binge Day endurance contest to see who can take the most hard drugs and drink the most alcohol without overdosing and ending up in a hospital or dead. There’s no real prize for this contest, except bragging rights and a photo that hangs on a wall in some random place that’s never explained in the movie. The participants in this contest are mostly people in their teens and 20s.

Griffin is the type of student who’s obedient and doesn’t like taking risks, so he’s very reluctant to participate in The Gauntlet. Hags convinces Griffin that they should enter the contest because it will impress the girls they want to impress. When Lena tells Griffin that she’s thinking of binging on Binge Day, he decides to enter The Gauntlet.

Griffin is also motivated to impress Lena when he finds out that a mystery admirer has asked her to the school’s prom by giving her a series of riddle-filled notes that the admirer leaves as clues to his identity. Lena hasn’t given an answer yet because she doesn’t know who her mystery admirer is, but she assumes it’s a very popular student whom she has a crush on but she thinks he might be out of her league. Part of the movie’s plot is a “race against time” for Griffin to impress Lena and ask her to be his prom date before she can find out the identity of her mystery admirer.

And let’s not forget about the parents in the movie, which makes these authority figures into the same tired stereotypes that have been seen before in dozens of other teen comedies. The head of the school is Principal Carlsen (played by Vince Vaughn), who is tyrannical and takes pleasure in punishing students who break the rules. Therefore, he’s always on the lookout for the students to do something wrong so he can bust them. And what a coincidence: Principal Carlsen also happens to be Lena’s father, making it even more nerve-wracking for Griffin to ask Lena out on a date.

Griffin’s parents Karyn and Chester (played by Jessica Kirson and Elon Gold) and Hags’ parents (played Deanna McKinney and Godfrey) are somewhat generic characters that are briefly shown in the movie. Something happens in the movie to explain why these parents don’t interfere in their kids’ Binge Day plans.

Every teen movie usually has at least one parent who behaves inappropriately. And in “The Binge,” that character is Andrew’s single mother Diedre (played by Eileen Galindo), who inflicts abuse on him one minute (she puts out her cigar on his tongue during an argument) and then acts lovey-dovey the next minute, by sweetly telling him, “I love you … Give me a kiss.”

During a school assembly, Principal Carlsen lectures the students about the dangers of Binge Day and tells the students who are 18 years old that they shouldn’t participate in Binge Day, even though it would be legal. As a scare tactic, Principal Carlsen shows examples of some people who died or were permanently disabled because of drug-fueled antics they indulged in on Binge Day. Of course, it’s a scare tactic that doesn’t work because plenty of the legal-age students are planning to participate in Binge Day.

Participants and attendees of The Gauntlet are given a wristband to enter the place where The Gauntlet is being held. While showing up unannounced in the boys’ locker room, Principal Carlsen sees that Griffin has one of these wristbands. A nervous Griffin makes up a lie that the wristband isn’t his and that he accidentally found the wristband. Principal Carlsen then confiscates the wristband and warns Griffin that he better not participate in Binge Day.

How obnoxious is Principal Carlsen? In his conversation with Griffin in the locker room, Principal Carlsen speaks of troublemaking partier student Sarah in these derogatory terms: “That bitch has chaotic energy. She’s like a scorpion in a toaster.” And when Principal Carlsen sees Hags in the locker room, he tells Hags: “Try to find a nickname that’s a little more normal, like Lucas or Kwan.” These are lines that are supposed to pass as jokes in the movie.

After Principal Carlsen has taken Griffin’s wristband, misfit student Andrew ends up hanging out with Griffin and Hags because Andrew has the type of wristband that Griffin needs to get into The Gauntlet event. Instead of selling the wristband to Griffin, Andrew bargains with Griffin and Hags to be their “wingman” pal during Binge Day and to help them win The Gauntlet. Andrew’s bullying fraternal twin brother Seb (played by Esteban Benito) is also a contestant in The Gauntlet, so it’s clear that Andrew has another reason to want to win the contest.

“The Binge” has a lot of typical “teens who want to party” shenanigans in the scenes leading up to The Gauntlet. Most of these scenes aren’t really funny and have been done much better in other similar movies. It comes as no surprise that an animal (in this case, a cow) ends up being an unwilling part of these partying antics, which leads to the inevitable “No animals were harmed” disclaimer in the movie’s end credits.

One of the problems with “The Binge” is that so much of it is repetitive filler. And the cast members do nothing outstanding in their performances, although Franco has a few scene-stealing moments. “The Binge” is supposed to be raunchy, but it holds back on showing a lot of adult-oriented debauchery during the first two-thirds of the movie. Most of “The Binge” is about straight-laced Griffin acting horrified at some of the silly scenarios that happen on the way to The Gauntlet.

The one truly original moment in the movie is actually a little bizarre and out-of-place: The cast members break into a song-and-dance number called “We’re Gonna Get High.” It’s not supposed to be a drug-induced hallucination, but something that spontaneously happens while they’re all under various degrees of intoxication. The idea is that they’ve lost their inhibitions together and somehow magically came up with this song-and-dance number together.

This “We’re Gonna Get High” musical number looks and sounds like something that would have been in an episode of “Glee” if the episode was about getting stoned at a party. The song is very much in the mold of a high-school musical. In other words, there’s nothing really edgy about it, even if the lyrics mention cocaine, heroin and PCP. The song was written by “The Binge” director Garelick, screenwriter VanDina, Christopher Lennertz and Matt Bowen. It seems as if this random musical scene in “The Binge” was concocted as a sugary-sweet way to deflect any criticism the movie might get for glorifying drug binges. What’s actually more offensive is that “The Binge” just isn’t funny.

As for the idea that people would willingly ingest as many drugs as possible in order to win a stupid contest, “The Binge” makes no attempt to show that the main characters could put themselves in danger by doing this medically dangerous stunt. It should come as no surprise that no one in this group dies or ends up in a hospital, because that would ruin the limited comedy of this mindless film. “The Binge” wants to be a teen version of “The Hangover” meets “The Purge,” but almost all the jokes and scenarios fall flat. Instead of “The Binge,” this movie should be called “The Cringe.”

Hulu premiered “The Binge” on August 28, 2020.

Review: ‘We Are Freestyle Love Supreme,’ starring Lin-Manuel Miranda, Anthony Veneziale, Christopher Jackson, Thomas Kail, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Bill Sherman and Chris Sullivan

July 17, 2020

by Carla Hay

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Chris Sullivan, Anthony Veneziale, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Andrew Bancroft, Bill Sherman, Christopher Jackson and Arthur Lewis in “We Are Freestyle Love Supreme” (Photo courtesy of Hulu)

“We Are Freestyle Love Supreme”

Directed by Andrew Fried

Culture Representation: Taking place primarily in New York City and partially in the United Kingdom, the documentary “We Are Freestyle Love Supreme” tells the story of the multiracial musical improvisational group Freestyle Love Supreme, whose most famous member is Tony-winning star Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Culture Clash: The members of Freestyle Love Supreme struggled for years to make a living from their craft, and then the group’s loyalty and work schedules were tested after Miranda and musical director Thomas Kail went on to mega-success with the Tony-winning musicals “In the Heights” and “Hamilton.”

Culture Audience: “We Are Freestyle Love Supreme” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of Lin-Manuel Miranda and musical theater that includes hip-hop.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Christopher Jackson and Anthony Veneziale in the mid-2000s in “We Are Freestyle Love Supreme” (Photo courtesy of Hulu)

The feel-good documentary “We Are Freestyle Love Supreme” shows what can happen when several tight-knit friends in a musical improvisational group manage to keep the group going for several years, despite the members’ individual careers and personal lives going on divergent paths. Directed by Andrew Fried, who began filming footage for the documentary in 2005, “We Are Freestyle Love Supreme” is a breezy ride through the group’s story, even if it it feels like a lot of inevitable behind-the-scenes turmoil was deliberately left out of the film. The documentary includes exclusive interviews (everyone in the group is interviewed separately), as well as archival on-stage and off-stage footage, spanning from the mid-2000s to the group’s stint on Broadway in 2019.

Freestyle Love Supreme’s most famous member is Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Tony-winning star/creator of the stage musicals “In the Heights” and “Hamilton.” Miranda (whose nickname in the group is Lin-Man) is an original member of Freestyle Love Supreme, which was formed in New York City in 2004. But the documentary shows that the origins of Freestyle Love Supreme really began in 1999, during a road trip taken by group co-founder Anthony Veneziale (also known as Two-Touch) and Thomas “Tommy” Kail, the group’s musical director who went on to direct the original Broadway productions of “In the Heights” and “Hamilton,” as well as most of Freestyle Love Supreme’s stage shows.

According to what Kail says in the documentary, he and Veneziale (who met when they were students at Wesleyan University) went on a road trip from New York City to Iowa, to help a friend make an independent film. During the trip, the only way they could stay awake was by listening to the B-side of the Daft Punk song “Around the World.”

“Anthony freestyled for four straight hours,” says Kail of that road trip. “That, in some way, was the seed for Freestyle Love Supreme.” Freestyle Love Supreme then became a collective of friends who would get together at the Drama Book Shop, which was their creative “lab,” according to Kail. Although Kail isn’t an on-stage performer for Freestyle Love Supreme, he is credited with being the behind-the-scenes architect of the group’s career.

Freestyle Love Supreme then honed their improvisational skills so that their on-stage act became randomly choosing words volunteered by the show’s audience, and then making up hip-hop-infused, often-comedic stories about those words right there on the spot. Veneziale (who also co-founded the improv FLS Academy) is the group’s emcee, who interviews audience members during the show and brings some audience members on stage. This highly interactive format makes every Freestyle Love Supreme show truly unique, which is in contrast to the traditional theater format of doing the same show for every performance.

The other original members of Freestyle Love Supreme are Christopher Jackson (also known as C-Jack); Bill Sherman (also known as King Sherman); Chris Sullivan (also known as Shockwave); and Arthur Lewis (also known as Arthur the Geniuses). Miranda and Kail went on to collaborate on “In the Heights” (which went to Broadway in 2008) and “Hamilton” (which made its Broadway debut in 2015), with both musicals including Jackson (who is Miranda’s best friend) as a co-star.

After the success of “In the Heights” and “Hamilton” made Miranda, Jackson and Kail too busy for Freestyle Love Supreme on a regular basis, Freestyle Love Supreme added new members to the group. The documentary does a very good job of putting a spotlight on each member, so that people can know what their unique contributions are to Freestyle Love Supreme. (Freestyle Love Supreme has also had numerous guest performers, including Daveed Diggs and Wayne Brady.)

Miranda, who is a self-described “theater geek,” is shown to be an energetic optimist but also a perfectionist who can be very hard on himself. Jackson, who is more laid-back than Miranda, is described as the “dad” of the group, since he’s the oldest member and the first member of Freestyle Love Supreme to get married and have children.

Sherman, who plays keyboards and has a goofy sense of humor, used to be Kail’s roommate and remains very close to Kail. Sullivan, who does most of Freestyle Love Supreme’s beatboxing, is the “actual musical heartbeat of the group,” says Kail. Lewis, who plays keyboards, is described as the group’s most intellectually gifted member and “the ethereal one” of Freestyle Love Supreme, according to Kail.

Freestyle Love Supreme’s newer members are also given a spotlight: Utkarsh Ambudkar (also known as UTK The INC) is described by Miranda as “the best nuts-to-bolts rapper in the group.” James Monroe Iglehart (also known as J-Soul) is praised by multiple people as being the best singer in the group. Andrew Bancroft (also known as Jelly Donut) seems to be in awe of his group mates and says he still can’t believe that he’s in Freestyle Love Supreme.

And by the time that Freestyle Love Supreme began headlining on Broadway, the group had added its first permanent female member: Aneesa Folds (also known as Young Nees), who expresses how star-struck and honored she is to be in Freestyle Love Supreme. Why did it take so long to add a woman to the group? Probably because after the #MeToo movement happened, Freestyle Love Supreme wanted deflect any criticism that this group deliberately excludes people who aren’t of the male gender.

It probably never crossed their minds to invite women into their group before, because it’s clear from the archival footage that Freestyle Love Supreme operated very much like a fraternity, but not in a mean-spirited way. However, because of heightened awareness of how gender discrimination against people who aren’t cisgender males has been an ongoing problem in the entertainment industry (and society in general), it no doubt prompted Freestyle Love Supreme to take a hard look at their own decision making in whom they were inviting to be a part of their exclusive club.

The documentary doesn’t call attention to why Freestyle Love Supreme was a male-only group for about 15 years, probably because the male members of the group don’t want to address this issue on camera. Instead, the movie puts an emphasis on all the camaraderie they have—perhaps a little too much emphasis, to the point where it looks sugarcoated. There’s a lot of screen time devoted to soundbites where the members of Freestyle Love Supreme praise themselves and each other.

Jackson comments on how Freestyle Love Supreme is a privilege of being able to work with his closest friends: “If more people had this experience, truly, the world would be a better place.” Ambudkar says that he felt an instant connection to the members of Freestyle Love Supreme: “Whatever Freestyle was doing, it fit me like a well-worn hoodie.”

Miranda says that in the group’s early days, there was a real struggle to build a fan base, but the audience grew when the show improved and because Freestyle Love Supreme didn’t give up: “We had to work hard [for an audience]. The show worked.”

Some of the documentary’s best archival footage is of a pivotal point in the early career of Freestyle Love Supreme, when the group was invited to perform at the 2005 Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. No one knew at the time that Miranda was three years away from finding Broadway fame and acclaim with “In the Heights.” But during this trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the members of Freestyle Love Supreme considered it to be the highlight of their careers so far.

There’s a real infectious joy in this footage that shows their youthful optimism, as they roam the streets of Edinburgh and soak up Scottish culture. The documentary also includes footage of the group reading their first negative review together. And even that moment of the group getting some scathing criticism has a lot of humor and shows how closely bonded the group members are.

A present-day Miranda looks back on that time with a lot of fondness in the documentary. He says that even though all of the members of Freestyle Love Supreme were financially broke at the time, and their futures were uncertain, it was one of the happiest times of his life. “Everything was happening, but nothing was happening,” Miranda quips.

Some other great archival footage is of Miranda and Kail walking through New York City’s Times Square, not long before “In the Heights” was scheduled to begin previews on Broadway. Kail and Miranda look up in awe and excitement at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, which had the “In the Heights” billboard and marquee already prepared.

In this archival footage, Kail and Miranda joke about how people in Times Square might or might not recognize them. Kail, who resembles former “American Idol” finalist Justin Guarini, says that people probably think he’s “that guy from ‘American Idol.'” Kail also jokes that people will probably think that Miranda looks like a “Mexican Bud Bundy,” referring to Miranda’s slight resemblance to actor David Faustino, who had the role of bratty son Bud Bundy in the sitcom “Married With Children.” (Miranda’s heritage is actually Puerto Rican, not Mexican.)

All joking aside, a group of people working together this long can’t be immune to jealousies, rivalries and conflicts. Although the documentary acknowledges that Miranda is the most famous member of Freestyle Love Supreme (after his Broadway success, he became a star and a producer in movies and television), the other group members who talk about it for the documentary only express happiness for Miranda. If they have any envy that Miranda’s career has skyrocketed, compared to the careers of other group members, it’s not shown in this movie.

However, there is some acknowledgement that Freestyle Love Supreme did go through a less-than-smooth adjustment period when it became obvious that in order for the group to keep going, certain group members (namely Miranda, Jackson and Kail) would not be as available as they once were, due to their busy Broadway careers. Another big shift in the group’s dynamics occurred when Veneziale moved to San Francisco (because of his wife’s graduate studies) and started a family there.

As a result of that relocation to the other side of the United States, Veneziale and Kail, who used to be best friends, say they became estranged from each other, and their relationship hasn’t really been the same since. Veneziale describes Kail in the early days of Freestyle Love Supreme: “He was my co-conspirator in making things.” Kail says that Veneziale is the “guts and blood” and the “engine” of Freestyle Love Supreme. However, it’s obvious that there’s still tension between Kail and Veneziale, because they choose their words very carefully when talking about each other, while expressing regret that they aren’t close friends anymore.

The documentary doesn’t bring up personal problems in Freestyle Love Supreme until the last third of the movie. Ambudkar opens up about his alcoholism and how it affected him and his role in the group. Ambudkar says that the success of “Hamilton,” which made Miranda even less available to Freestyle Love Supreme than ever before, forced Ambudkar to take a hard look at where his life was headed, and it motivated Ambudkar to get clean and sober.

The clips of Freestyle Love Supreme performing on stage, especially on Broadway, are absolutely electric and elevate this documentary, which plays it very safe overall. “We Are Freestyle Love Supreme” gives the impression that it doesn’t want to divulge a lot of the realistic behind-the-scenes ego clashes in the group, for fear that it would mess up the “lovefest” vibe that the documentary is trying to convey. It’s why viewers of this movie get a lot of effusively upbeat soundbites that are a lot like this one from Ambudkar when he describes Freestyle Love Supreme: “It’s truly about embracing and celebrating the human experience.”

Hulu premiered “We Are Freestyle Love Supreme” on July 17, 2020.

Review: ‘Palm Springs,’ starring Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti and J.K. Simmons

July 10, 2020

by Carla Hay

Cristin Milioti and Andy Samberg in “Palm Springs” (Photo courtesy of Hulu)

“Palm Springs”

Directed by Max Barbakow

Culture Representation: Taking place primarily in Palm Springs, California, and briefly in other parts of the U.S., the comedy film “Palm Springs” has a predominantly white cast (with a few black people, Asians and Latinos) representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: A single man and a single woman find themselves in a repetitive time loop where they keep waking up to the wedding day of the woman’s younger sister in Palm Springs, California.

Culture Audience: “Palm Springs” will appeal to primarily people who like offbeat “time warp” comedies, but much of the vulgar humor lacks wit or originality.

Meredith Hagner and Andy Samberg in “Palm Springs” (Photo courtesy of Hulu)

A blatant and vastly inferior ripoff of the 1993 Bill Murray classic comedy “Groundhog Day,” the time-loop comedy film “Palm Springs” might be interesting to fans of star Andy Samberg, but everyone else will feel like they’re stuck watching a repetitive time-loop skit get less funny as time goes on. A sardonic supporting performance by the always-great J.K. Simmons isn’t enough to save this smug film, which isn’t as clever as the filmmakers like to think it is.

People who follow news in the entertainment industry might be aware that the Hulu comedy film “Palm Springs” broke a Sundance Film Festival record for the highest amount paid ($17.5 million and 69 cents) to acquire a film that premiered at Sundance. The previous record holder was Fox Searchlight’s $17.5 million purchase of the 2016 drama “Birth of a Nation,” actor Nate Parker’s feature-film directorial debut.

The record-breaking sum that Hulu paid for “Palm Springs” would lead people to believe that this movie, which clearly won’t be an Oscar contender, is at least on par with a crowd-pleasing classic, such as director Harold Ramis’ “Groundhog Day,” a movie about a weatherman who’s stuck in a Groundhog Day time loop. Unfortunately, “Palm Springs” (directed by Max Barbakow and written by Andy Siara) doesn’t come close to the charm and memorable humor of “Groundhog Day.”

It’s pretty obvious that the overrated “Palm Springs” was sold for an overpriced amount because movie executives got caught up in a bidding war for a mediocre film. When has Samberg ever starred in a quality movie that was a big hit with audiences? Never. “Palm Springs” certainly won’t be his first “blockbuster” hit.

In “Palm Springs,” Sandberg plays an obnoxious ne’er do well named Nyles, who is stuck in a time loop where he keeps waking up to November 9, the day of a wedding that he is supposed to attend with his girlfriend Misty (played by Meredith Hagner), a stereotypical ditsy blonde who is one of the bridesmaids. Viewers won’t find out about this time loop until after the first time that the movie shows Nyles at the wedding.

The wedding is taking place in the upscale desert vacation city of Palm Springs, California. The bride is Tala (played by Camila Mendes), the groom is Abe (played by Tyler Hoechlin) and the maid of honor is Tala’s divorced older sister Sarah (played by Cristin Milioti), who looks and acts like she’d rather be anywhere else but the wedding. The proud parents of the bride are Howard (played by Peter Gallagher) and Pia (played by Jacqueline Obradors), who don’t do much except look horrified at some of the silly antics that later ensue in the story. And then there’s Nana Schlieffen (played by June Squibb), the token matronly grandmother at the wedding.

Nyles, Misty and Sarah are all staying at the same hotel. When Nyles wakes up in the hotel on the day of the wedding, Misty has just come out of the shower and is putting lotion on her legs. Nyles wants to have sex, and Misty agrees, but only if they make it quick because she says she doesn’t want to get too sweaty. A predictable erection joke is part of this scene, which sets the tone for the rest of this movie. “Palm Springs” makes a lot of crude jokes about sex, but most of the jokes aren’t very funny.

At the wedding, Nyles stands out (and not in a good way) because he’s wearing clothes that are too casual: a Hawaiian shirt and shorts. At the reception, Misty makes an awkward wedding speech, and then it’s Sarah turn to give her speech. Even though she’s the maid of honor, a miserable-looking Sarah seems shocked that she’s expected to make a toast to the bride and groom.

But before she gets a chance to make the speech, Nyles butts in and makes a speech that’s even more cringeworthy than Misty’s speech. What Nyles has to say is both overly sappy and nonsensical. He ends it by stating to the newly married couple: “We may be born lost, but now you are found.”

After that, Nyles (who is constantly chugging beer from beer cans) and Sarah strike up a conversation. Nyles flirts heavily with Sarah and asks her if she wants to go somewhere private with him for a quickie tryst. Sarah tells him that he’s being very forward, but she’s intrigued by his boldness.

While Nyles and Sarah are outside, they pass by a bathroom where the reception is being held. The bathroom is on the ground level, and they can clearly see into the bathroom’s window (this place clearly doesn’t care about guests’ privacy), where they witness Misty cheating with a wedding guest named Trevor (played by Chris Pang). Trevor, who’s dressed in a glittery cowboy suit at the wedding, is one of those quirky characters that was written in this movie in its failed attempt to be like a Wes Anderson comedy.

Now that Sarah knows that Nyles’ girlfriend/wedding date doesn’t really care about him, Sarah takes Nyles up on his offer to hook up with him out in the desert. Before that happens, Sarah tells Nyles that she’s the “black sheep” of her family, because her family thinks she’s a “liability” who thinks “I fuck around and drink too much.”

While Sarah and Nyles are having a steamy makeout session, Nyles suddenly gets wounded on his shoulder by an arrow. Out of the shadows, a man wearing dark camouflage paint on his face starts to chase Nyles with a bow and arrow, while Sarah freaks out and is confused at what’s going on. It turns out that the angry bow-and-arrow hunter is named Roy (played by J.K. Simmons), and Roy wants revenge on Nyles for a reason that’s revealed later in the story.

Meanwhile, during this chase scene, Nyles runs into a cave where there’s a strange glowing red light. Sarah follows Nyles into the cave. And it turns out this mysterious cave is the portal that causes a time-loop that keeps going back to November 9. Now that Sarah has gone into the cave, she’s stuck in the time loop with Nyles too. Just like Nyles, every time Sarah now wakes up, it’s in the Palm Springs hotel on the November 9 wedding day.

“Palm Springs” has a lot of slapstick humor to distract from the uninspired dialogue in the movie. After Sarah finds out that she’s stuck in the same time loop as Nyles, much of the film is about Sarah being angry with Nyles because she feels that she didn’t deserve to be unknowingly trapped in the loop.

Nyles has been in the loop long enough to warn Sarah that attempts to get out of the loop have failed. Committing suicide doesn’t work. (Although an idea presented later in the story contradicts that theory.) It also doesn’t work to take stimulant drugs that keep people up for days. Traveling to another city (which Sarah does when she drives all the way back to her messy house in Austin, Texas) also doesn’t get them out of loop either.

The movie never explains what Nyles did for a living before he got caught in the time loop, but he’s reached a point of feeling resigned about his fate in the loop. Therefore, he acts as recklessly and obnoxiously as possible (including breaking several laws), because he knows that when he wakes up, he’ll be back in that Palm Springs hotel room on the November 9 wedding day.

Nyles also tells Sarah that being stuck in the time loop has caused him to feel free to have sexual hookups with as many people as possible, including three people who keep showing up in this story: a bartender named Daisy (played by Jena Friedman), who works at the wedding reception; Darla (played by Dale Dickey) a crusty regular at a local bar; and fashionable Jerry (played by Tongayi Chirisa), one of the wedding guests.

At first, Sarah gets caught up in being as “bad” as possible, so a great deal of the movie shows Sarah and Nyles acting like drunken, irresponsible teenagers. But Sarah soon grows tired of these shenanigans and wants to get out of the loop and back to her normal life. It goes without saying that Sarah and Nyles start to have romantic feelings for each other, so Nyles is conflicted about Sarah wanting to leave the loop while he might remain stuck there.

Unfortunately for “Palm Springs,” the chemistry between Samberg and Milioti isn’t very believable when Nyles and Sarah start to become a romantic couple. Milioti seems to be doing her best to bring some laughs to the story, but Sarah is such a deeply unhappy, self-loathing person that it’s hard to believe that Sarah can fall in love when she doesn’t even love herself.

Parts of “Palm Springs” seem like a more adult-language version of a “Saturday Night Live” sketch that’s worn out its welcome. Samberg, who’s a “Saturday Night Live” alum, has the same type of one-note “man child” persona that he had on the show. It’s the same persona that Pete Davidson has also taken as part of his comedic image.

A comedy with this “time loop” concept should be fun to watch, but “Palm Springs” is a chore to watch because the two main characters don’t have charismatic personalities. Huge stretches of “Palm Springs” drag on for too long. And even the movie’s visual effects look cheap and clunky.

The best thing about “Palm Springs” is how the “travelogue” type of cinematography (from Quyen Tran) makes a vacation in Palm Springs look very enticing. But people can watch attractive travel videos for free on the Internet, and this movie isn’t supposed to be a travel video.

People aren’t going to sign up for Hulu en masse to watch this movie, so “Palm Springs” certainly wasn’t worth the $17.5 million price tag. “Palm Springs” is not only a waste of Hulu’s money but it’s also a waste of viewers’ time, unless people have a high tolerance for Samberg’s recycled “man child” persona.

Hulu premiered “Palm Springs” on July 10, 2020

 

 

 

 

Hulu announces new culinary series hosted by Padma Lakshmi

July 26, 2019

Padma Lakshmi
Padma Lakshmi (Photo by Charles Sykes/Bravo)

“Top Chef” host/judge Padma Lakshmi is getting a new culinary series on Hulu. The show’s title and premiere date are to be announced. She will continue to be on “Top Chef,” which is televised in the U.S. on Bravo. The announcement about Lakshmi’s Hulu series was made during 2019 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour. Here is what a Hulu press release said about the show:

The Untitled Padma Lakshmi Series is a living cookbook made up more from people and culture than recipes. Curated by Emmy-nominated host and author Padma Lakshmi (“Top Chef”), the series embraces culinary traditions from the first Americans to the latest arrivals alongside Padma’s perspectives and personal connection to each story. Filmed around the country, each episode starts with a single dish that represents and connects to a community’s history and traditions, and explores the evolution of that immigrant community through that cuisine. From family recipes and street food to high-end restaurants, each dish explored is a symbol of a unique journey and story that provides viewers a window into where communities came from and the tale of how they set roots in America. In the hands of different families and waves of immigration, an organic evolution emerges between traditional recipes and new approaches, different perspectives and emotions, all captured through Padma’s eyes.

Each 30-minute episode follows Padma as she learns, immerses and celebrates communities from around the world that have taken root in America, changed it and been changed by it. The 10-episode series is produced by Part2 Pictures.

2019 Comic-Con International: Disney Television Studios activities and exclusives

July 1, 2019

The following is a press release from Disney Television Studios:

Disney Television Studios including Twentieth Century Fox Television, ABC Studios and Fox 21 Television Studios takes over the San Diego Comic-Con convention with stars and creators of 14 of its fan-favorite shows descending on the world-famous gathering next month. In addition to exclusive sneak peeks of its programs and panel discussions with the casts and creators, the studio will rotate producers and stars through the ABC and 20th Century Fox Television booths on the convention center floor for autograph signings and activities, including distribution of exclusive 2019 poster tubes, collectible mini-posters, premium giveaways and DVD sales.

Please note: Talent is subject to change.

Descriptions of panel sessions and screenings follow:

THURSDAY, JULY 18

3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

EMERGENCE (Produced by ABC Studios) – Beyond explanation … beyond understanding … lies the truth. Join the cast and executive producers for a first look at the pilot episode of ABC’s new drama series “Emergence,” followed by an exciting panel discussion. This character-driven genre thriller follows a police chief who takes in a young child she finds near the site of a mysterious accident who has no memory of what has happened. The investigation draws her into a conspiracy larger than she ever imagined, and the child’s identity is at the center of it all. Executive producers Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters with cast members Allison Tolman, Donald Faison, Clancy Brown, Alexa Swinton, Owain Yeoman, Ashley Aufderheide, Robert Bailey Jr. and Zabryna Guevara will all be in attendance. (Indigo Ballroom)

3:30 – 4:30 p.m.

MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (Produced by ABC Studios) –The cast and producers of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” will return to San Diego Comic-Con in epic fashion as they take over Hall H for the first time ever! Be the first to hear the scoop about the show-stopping conclusion for season six and what awaits in season seven of Marvel’s flagship television show. With your favorite stars in attendance, including Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Elizabeth Henstridge, Iain De Caestecker, Henry Simmons, Natalia Cordova-Buckley and Jeff Ward, along with executive producers Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, Jeff Bell and Jeph Loeb, this is a must-see panel to celebrate seven seasons with the world’s greatest fans! This action-packed series from ABC Studios and Marvel Television airs Fridays at 8/7c on ABC. (Hall H)


4:15 – 5:15 p.m.

STUMPTOWN (Produced by ABC Studios) – Based on the “Stumptown” graphic novel, ABC’s new drama series “Stumptown” follows Dex Parios (Cobie Smulders) – a strong, assertive and sharp-witted army veteran with a complicated love life, gambling debt and a brother to take care of in Portland, Oregon. Her military intelligence skills make her a great PI, but her unapologetic style puts her in the firing line of hardcore criminals and not quite in alliance with the police. Panelists include cast members Cobie Smulders, Jake Johnson, Michael Ealy, Camryn Manheim, Tantoo Cardinal, Cole Sibus and Adrian Martinez, with executive producer Jason Richman and “Stumptown” graphic novel author Greg Rucka. (Indigo Ballroom)

FRIDAY, JULY 19

11:00 – 11:45 a.m.

BLESS THE HARTS (Produced by 20th Century Fox Television) – From the network that brought you the Simpsons, the Griffins and the Belchers now present the Harts! FOX’s new half-hour comedy, “Bless The Harts,” features your new favorite, good ol’ Southern family. Jenny Hart (Kristen Wiig) supports her lottery scratcher-obsessed mother, Betty (Maya Rudolph), and her witty, creative daughter, Violet (Jillian Bell). With the help of her eternally optimistic, dreamer boyfriend Wayne (Ike Barinholtz), they hope to one day achieve the American dream. While they are always struggling to make ends meet, they’re already rich in friends, family and laughter. Join us for an exclusive first look into your next animation obsession with executive producers, Emmy® Award winner Emily Spivey (“Wine Country,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Saturday Night Live”), and Academy Award® winners Phil Lord & Chris Miller (“Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse,” “The Lego Movie,” “21 Jump Street”), and the all-star cast behind the Harts! (Indigo Ballroom)
3:00 – 3:45 p.m.

SOLAR OPPOSITES (Produced by 20th Century Fox Television) – From the minds behind “Rick and Morty” come “Solar Opposites,” a new animated series that follows a family of aliens “from a better world” who take refuge in middle America. Join Justin Roiland (“Rick and Morty”), Sean Giambrone (“The Goldbergs”) and Mary Mack (“Golan the Insatiable”), along with executive producers Mike McMahan (“Rick and Morty”) and Josh Bycel (“Happy Endings”), for an exclusive first look into the series premiering in 2020 on Hulu. (Indigo Ballroom)

4:00 – 4:50 p.m.

BOB’S BURGERS (Produced by 20th Century Fox Television) – Always one of the most entertaining panels at Comic-Con, the Emmy Award-winning animated FOX series “Bob’s Burgers” returns to San Diego with a few surprises in store! Creator and executive producer Loren Bouchard and executive producer Nora Smith will break news about the upcoming season, and the always entertaining cast including H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, John Roberts, Kristen Schaal, Larry Murphy and Megan Mullally will have you howling with laughter with never-before-seen footage, followed by a lively panel discussion and audience Q&A. (Indigo Ballroom)


5:30 – 6:30 p.m.

WHAT JUST HAPPENED??! WITH FRED SAVAGE (Produced by 20th Century Fox Television) – Acclaimed director and television star Fred Savage cannot wait a second longer to share the world of “The Flare,” the most mind-bending, thrilling, edge-of-your-seat sci-fi show never created. “The Flare,” based on TJ Whitford’s classic series of sci-fi novels, “The Moon is the Sun at Night” not only sizzled its way into living rooms nationwide but also inspired Fox to create its first-ever after-show, “What Just Happened??! With Fred Savage.” Join Fred, alongside stars of “The Flare,” Shiri Appleby (“Roswell”), Kevin Zegers (“Fear the Walking Dead”), Tyler Ritter (“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), and co-creators Matt Silverstein and Dave Jeser and director Jon Cassar (“24”) to get a sneak-peek screening of the fourth episode of the after-show dedicated to exploring the fandom surrounding the “The Flare.” “What Just Happened??!,” Fred’s half-hour hybrid comedy/talk show, airs on FOX on Sunday nights. Screening to be followed by conversation moderated by Fred Savage and fan Q&A. (Room 6DE)


6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

THE ROOKIE (Produced by Entertainment One and ABC Studios) – Join series star and executive producer, Nathan Fillion, as he discusses his latest role as John Nolan on ABC’s high-action drama “The Rookie,” as production begins on its second season. Joining Nathan for this intimate conversation will be longtime friend and “The Rookie” showrunner, Alexi Hawley. The two collaborators will also reflect on Nathan’s overarching career, spanning from “Firefly” to Shakespeare, and now, playing the oldest rookie in the LAPD. (Horton Grand Theatre)

6:45 – 7:45 p.m.

NEXT (Produced by 20th Century Fox Television) – Join us for the world premiere of “neXt,” a propulsive, fact-based thriller about the emergence of a deadly, rogue artificial intelligence that combines pulse-pounding action with an examination of how technology is invading our lives and transforming us in ways we don’t yet understand. Coming to FOX in 2020, “neXt” stars John Slattery (“Mad Men”) as a Silicon Valley pioneer, who teams with cybercrime agent Fernanda Andrade (“The First”), to fight a villain unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Panelists to include creator and executive producer Manny Coto (“24”), executive producers and directors John Requa and Glenn Ficarra (“This Is Us”), Fernanda Andrade, Michael Mosley (“Ozark”), Jason Butler Harner (“Ozark”) and Eve Harlow (“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) for a moderated conversation and fan Q&A. (Room 6DE)

SATURDAY, JULY 20

12:00 – 12:45 p.m.

THE SIMPSONS (Produced by 20th Century Fox Television) – Now 30 years old and part of the mighty Disney empire, get inside insights and secret tips on the upcoming, brand-new season from Matt Groening, Al Jean, Mike B Anderson, Stephanie Gillis and the voice of Lisa Simpson and panel moderator, Yeardley Smith. There WILL be freebies! (Ballroom 20)

1:00 – 2:15 p.m.

AMERICAN DAD! and FAMILY GUY(Produced by 20th Century Fox Television) – It’s a Smith-family fun day with Hayley (Rachael MacFarlane), Steve (Scott Grimes), Klaus (Dee Bradley Baker) and Principal Lewis (Kevin Michael Richardson), plus executive producer and co-creator Matt Weitzman and producers Kara Vallow & Jeff Kauffmann who will treat “American Dad!” fans to a first look at scenes from all-new episodes coming soon to TBS … plus a few other surprises!
THEN
Join cast Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Mike Henry and executive producers Rich Appel, Alec Sulkin and Kara Vallow from FOX’s hit animated comedy “Family Guy” as we celebrate our 20th anniversary! We’ll take a look back at some of our favorite moments over the last 20 years, plus a special sneak peek at the hilarity and hi-jinx in the upcoming season! (Ballroom 20)

2:30 – 3:15 p.m.

THE ORVILLE (Produced by 20th Century Fox Television) – From Emmy Award-winning executive producer and creator Seth MacFarlane, “The Orville” is back for season three and stopping in San Diego! Join the full crew of the U.S.S. Orville: Seth MacFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, Jessica Szohr, J Lee, Mark Jackson and Chad L. Coleman, and executive producers David A. Goodman, Jon Cassar and Brannon Braga to get an exclusive look back at some of our favorite, never-before-seen moments of season two and a special sneak peek at the new and exciting missions in the upcoming third season! (Ballroom 20)

SUNDAY, JULY 21

1:00 – 2:00 p.m.

MAYANS M.C. (Produced by Fox 21 Television Studios) – “Mayans M.C.” is the next chapter in Kurt Sutter’s award-winning “Sons of Anarchy” saga. Set in a post-Jax Teller world, Ezekiel “EZ” Reyes is fresh out of prison and a prospect in the Mayans M.C. charter on the Cali/Mexi border. Come for an exclusive sneak peek at a scene from the upcoming season and a not-to-be-missed conversation with co-creator/executive producer/writer Kurt Sutter, co-creator/executive producer/writer/director Elgin James and executive producer/director Kevin Dowling, plus stars JD Pardo, Clayton Cardenas, Edward James Olmos, Sarah Bolger, Michael Irby, Carla Baratta, Antonio Jaramillo, Raoul Max Trujillo, Richard Cabral, Danny Pino, Emilio Rivera, Frankie Loyal, Joseph Lucero and Vincent Rocco Vargas discussing what to look forward to from season two. Moderator: Lynette Rice, Entertainment Weekly. (Hall H)

About Disney Television Studios
Disney Television Studios is a collection of studios comprised of 20th Century Fox Television, ABC Studios and Fox 21 Television Studios. DTS produces the most award-winning, culture-defining programming for all platforms including “This Is Us,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Homeland,” “Modern Family,” “black-ish,” “Fosse/Verdon,” “American Horror Story” and “Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger.” Disney Television Studios currently produces 69 series across 16 broadcast, cable, digital and international platforms. Its programming now reaches more than a billion people every day across the world; in as many as 180 countries, across six continents, in 30 different languages.

2019 Comic-Con International: Warner Bros. Television Group activities and exclusives

June 24, 2019

The following is a press release from Warner Bros. Television Group:

Warner Bros. Television Group (WBTVG) joins in the celebration of Comic-Con(R) as it turns 50 this year, rolling out the red carpet in grand style for this historic milestone as stars and producers from 16 of the Studio’s fan-favorite series are scheduled to participate in Comic-Con International: San Diego from July 17-21. The 2019 edition of the world’s largest comic and pop culture festival will feature the final SDCC appearances of long-running hit WBTV series “Arrow” and “Supernatural,” as well as the world premiere screenings of highly anticipated DCTV series “Batwoman” and “Pennyworth,” plus the revival of “Veronica Mars.”

Warner Bros. Television highlights include:

· Farewell to “Arrow” and “Supernatural”: Fans attending Comic-Con will have their last chance to celebrate long-running hit series “Arrow” and “Supernatural” as they make their final appearances at SDCC: “Arrow” on Saturday in Ballroom 20 and “Supernatural” in its traditional Sunday slot in Hall H.

· Preview Night/World Premieres of “Batwoman,” “Pennyworth” and More: SDCC will be the place for world premiere screenings of the Arrow-verse’s newest DC Super Hero drama “Batwoman” (in advance of its Sunday, October 6, premiere at 8/7c on The CW) and DC origin story “Pennyworth” (prior to its Sunday, July 28, debut at 10/9c on EPIX) on preview night, Wednesday, July 17. WBTVG will also feature an advance sneak peek of the pilot episode for the highly anticipated FOX dramatic thriller “Prodigal Son,” starring Tom Payne and Michael Sheen. And for those of you who like your Super Heroes a little more animated, we have something for you as well, with the world premiere of the upcoming DC UNIVERSE animated comedy series “Harley Quinn,” as well as a never-before-seen episode of the hit Cartoon Network series “Teen Titans GO!,” and more.

· World Premiere of “Veronica Mars”: The cult favorite returns after 10 years with Veronica (series star Kristen Bell) drawn into an epic eight-episode mystery as a series of bombs terrorize spring breakers in Neptune. Fans attending the show’s Friday panel will get to see the show’s first episode a week prior to its July 26 debut on Hulu.

· DC UNIVERSE Saturday Night: DC UNIVERSE fans can enjoy an evening of sneak peeks, first looks and breaking news for “Titans,” “Doom Patrol,” the second half of “Young Justice: Outsiders” and the upcoming animated comedy series “Harley Quinn” during a special two-hour event on Saturday night.

· Panels: Returning Comic-Con essentials “Arrow,” “Black Lightning,” “DC Super Hero Girls,” “The Flash,” “Legacies,” “Riverdale,” “Supergirl,” “Supernatural,” “Teen Titans GO!,” “Veronica Mars” and “Young Justice: Outsiders” are all back in San Diego, along with “Batwoman,” “Doom Patrol,” “Harley Quinn,” “Pennyworth” and “Titans” making their SDCC debuts.

· Warner Bros./DC Booth: The Studio’s massive multi-level booth #4545 will now more than ever become a must-visit destination on the convention floor, when Warner Bros. teams up with DC for an awesome mega-booth.

· Signings: Autograph signings will take place in the WB/DC booth #4545. WBTVG follows Comic-Con’s ticket drawing/wristband distribution procedure for all signings. Visit https://www.comic-con.org/cci/autographs for more info.

· @warnerbrostv on Social Media: For additional info on the Studio’s plans for Comic-Con and real-time updates during the convention, please follow @warnerbrostv on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook – official hashtag #WBSDCC – and visit http://comiccon.thewb.com.

· Social Media Contacts: To connect with WBTVG series, talent and producers in the social space, check out the social media contacts page here: http://comiccon.thewb.com/wbtv-social-media-contacts/

SPECIAL PREVIEW NIGHT SCREENINGS

WEDNESDAY, JULY 17

6:00-10:00 p.m. “Batwoman” and “Pennyworth” World Premieres and Special Sneak Peek Screenings – Comic-Con and Warner Bros. Television Group proudly continue the annual Preview Night tradition with exclusive world premiere pilot screenings of the new series “Batwoman” and “Pennyworth,” exclusively for the Comic-Con audience. Additionally, WBTVG will screen the pilot of the highly anticipated FOX dramatic thriller “Prodigal Son,” starring Tom Payne and Michael Sheen; the world premiere of DC UNIVERSE’s animated comedy series “Harley Quinn”; a never-before-seen episode of the hit Cartoon Network series “Teen Titans GO!”; and more. Ballroom 20

WBTVG/WBA SERIES SCHEDULE

PLEASE NOTE: Series stars and creative teams scheduled to attend are subject to change. Additional information on panel sessions, signings and other events will be provided as news breaks.

THURSDAY, JULY 18

3:15-4:15 p.m. “Teen Titans GO!” Brand-New Episode Screening and Q&A – Room 6DE

FRIDAY, JULY 19

11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m. “Veronica Mars” World Premiere Screening and Q&A – Ballroom 20

12:30-1:30 p.m. “DC Super Hero Girls” Brand-New Episode Screening and Q&A — Room 6DE

3:15-4:15 p.m. “Legacies” Special Video Presentation and Q&A — Room 6BCF

4:30-5:30 p.m.” Pennyworth” Special Video Presentation and Q&A — Room 6BCF

8:00-9:00 p.m. “Rooster Teeth” Special Video Presentation and Q&A – Room 6DE

SATURDAY, JULY 20

10:30-11:45 a.m. “Batwoman” Pilot Screening and Q&A – Ballroom 20

3:30-4:15 p.m. “Arrow” Special Video Presentation and Q&A – Ballroom 20

4:15-5:00 p.m. “Supergirl” Special Video Presentation and Q&A – Ballroom 20

5:00-5:45 p.m. “Black Lightning” Special Video Presentation and Q&A – Ballroom 20

5:45-6:30 p.m. “The Flash” Special Video Presentation and Q&A – Ballroom 20

7:00-9:00 p.m. DC UNIVERSE Series Sneak Previews and Q&A – Indigo Ballroom

SUNDAY, JULY 21

10:30-11:30 a.m. “Supernatural” Special Video Presentation and Q&A – Hall H

11:45 a.m.-12:45p.m. “Riverdale” Special Video Presentation and Q&A — Hall H

Legendary caped crusader Batman celebrates his 80th Anniversary this year, and paying tribute to this milestone, Warner Bros. Television Group (WBTVG) will feature two highly anticipated upcoming Bat-related DC dramas — The CW’s “Batwoman” and EPIX original series “Pennyworth” — on the official hotel keycards of Comic-Con 2019. In addition to WBTVG producing keys for “Batwoman” and “Pennyworth,” HBO will also release an exclusive “Watchmen” keycard that will be available to fans at SDCC.

With more than 40,000 branded room keys available at nearly 40 participating major hotels throughout the San Diego area during Comic-Con, fans will find doors opening all over the city thanks to the Wayne family fortune — and a group of outlaw superheroes.

  • “Pennyworth” premieres Sunday, July 28, at 9/8c on EPIX. Executive produced by Bruno Heller (“Gotham,” “The Mentalist”) and Danny Cannon (“Gotham,” “CSI” series), the one-hour drama from Warner Horizon Scripted Television is an origin story that follows Alfred Pennyworth (Jack Bannon), a former British SAS soldier who forms a security company in 1960s London and goes to work with Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge), Bruce Wayne’s billionaire father.
  • “Batwoman” premieres Sunday, October 6, at 8/7c on The CW. From Warner Bros. Television and executive producers Greg Berlanti (“Arrow,” “The Flash”), Caroline Dries (“The Vampire Diaries,” “Smallville”), Geoff Johns (“Wonder Woman,” “Aquaman”) and Sarah Schechter (“Supergirl,” “Black Lightning”), the latest series in Berlanti Productions’ DCTV Arrow-verse follows Kate Kane (Ruby Rose), a highly trained street fighter who soars onto the streets of Gotham as Batwoman.
  • “Watchmen” debuts in fall 2019 on HBO. Set in an alternate history where “superheroes” are treated as outlaws, this drama series from executive producer Damon Lindelof embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel of the same name while attempting to break new ground of its own. “Watchmen” is produced for HBO by White Rabbit in association with Warner Bros. Television, with executive producer/writer Damon Lindelof, executive producer/director Nicole Kassell, executive producer Tom Spezialy, executive producer/director Stephen Williams and executive producer Joseph Iberti. The series is based on the graphic novel co-created and illustrated by Dave Gibbons and published by DC.

Hulu Partners With Vox Media Studios, David Chang’s Majordomo Media, Chrissy Teigen’s Suit & Thai Productions for food-focused show

May 1, 2019

The following is a press release from Hulu:

In a new, multi-year, multi-show partnership, Hulu will partner with Vox Media Studios, David Chang’s Majordomo Media, and Chrissy Teigen’s Suit & Thai Productions to develop and produce a slate of premium food-centric programming for the platform. As the founder and chef of the Momofuku restaurant group, Chang brings a profound understanding of global food culture, while Vox Media Studios lends its world-class storytelling capabilities and a wealth of experience built through its food and travel network, Eater. New York Times bestselling cookbook author Teigen will co-produce and headline a diverse cast of compelling and knowledgeable personalities—from household names and celebrated chefs to everyday home cooks—who will entertain and provoke viewers with a variety of inventive new shows.

Among the first projects being produced by this new partnership is a cooking show featuring Chang and Teigen. Tentatively titled “Family Style,” the show will revolve around the ways in which people express their love for friends and family by cooking and eating together. Also in the pipeline is a documentary series tentatively titled “Eater’s Guide to the World,” which taps into Eater’s extensive knowledge of the most interesting and delicious restaurants on the planet.

Fyre Festival documentary duel: Two competing movies premiere in the same week

January 14, 2019

by Carla Hay

Fyre Festival

The notorious Fyre Festival is the subject of two documentary films that are premiering in the same week. “Fyre Fraud” (directed by Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby) premieres on Hulu on January 14, 2019, while “Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened” (directed by Chris Smith) premieres on Netflix on January 18, 2019, in addition to “Fyre” having a limited theatrical release on January 18 in New York City and Los Angeles. Although it’s not unusual for two separate documentary films to cover the same subject, it’s extremely rare for them to premiere in the same week.

Fyre Festival was one of the biggest music-industry frauds of this decade. The event, which was heavily promoted on the Internet, was advertised as a star-studded music festival in the Bahamas, offering a luxury experience that was scheduled to take place over two weekends in late April/early May 2017. Instead, attendees arrived at the festival site to find a garbage-filled area with very little shelter except flimsy tents and limited, substandard food options. Fyre Festival was cancelled one day before it was set to begin, and event founder/promoter Billy McFarland was eventually sentenced to six years in prison for fraud. Hip-hop star Ja Rule, who was advertised as a co-founder of the festival, quickly distanced himself from this disaster after the event was cancelled. Ja Rule issued a public apology, placed all the blame on McFarland, and avoided any criminal prosecution, although he and McFarland had several lawsuits brought against them.

There are sure to be many reviews comparing “Fyre Fraud” and “Fyre.” Hulu is making an effort to give “Fyre Fraud” an advantage by having the movie premiere first, and emphasizing that the film has an exclusive interview with McFarland that was done after the festival was cancelled and before he went to prison. “Fyre Fraud” also has media resources such as Mic (the news site aimed at millennials) and music-industry trade magazine Billboard as executive producers of the film. Meanwhile, Netflix’s “Fyre” has Vice Studios as a media partner in producing the documentary. Based on the official trailers and descriptions each documentary, “Fyre” seems to have a more straight-forward approach to the subject matter, while “Fyre Fraud” aims to take a more scathing look at the sociological circumstances that allowed this fraud to become as big as it was. Hulu describes “Fyre Fraud” as a “true-crime comedy,” which indicates that there will be a mocking tone to the film.

Meanwhile, the directors of each documentary have accused each other of questionable ethics, according to TechCrunch. The “Fyre” team said they turned down McFarland’s demands to be paid for an interview. McFarland eventually went to the “Fyre Fraud” filmmakers, who agreed to pay McFarland a six-figure sum (reportedly between $100,000 to $200,000) to be interviewed for “Fyre Fraud.” Meanwhile, the “Fyre Fraud” team says the ethics of “Fyre” are compromised because the film had executive producer involvement from James Ohliger and Elliot Tebele, two co-founders of Jerry Media, the company that marketed the Fyre Festival. A former Jerry Media employee interviewed in “Fyre Fraud” claims that high-ranking Jerry executives knew early on that the festival was a scam, but willingly perpetuated the scam out of greed. “Fyre” director Smith says that despite Jerry Media’s involvement in the film, he still had separate editorial control and did not shy away from depicting Jerry Media’s responsibility in the Fyre Festival fiasco.

FYRE FRAUD

Here is Hulu’s trailer and description of “Fyre Fraud”:

The Fyre Festival was the defining scam of the millennial generation, at the nexus of social media influence, late-stage capitalism, and morality in the post-truth era. Marketing for the 2017 music event went viral with the help of rapper Ja Rule, instagram stars, and models, but turned epic fail after stranding thousands in the Bahamas. Featuring an exclusive interview with Billy McFarland, the convicted con-man behind the festival; “Fyre Fraud” is a true-crime comedy bolstered by a cast of whistleblowers, victims, and insiders going beyond the spectacle to uncover the power of FOMO and an ecosystem of enablers, driven by profit and a lack of accountability in the digital age.

Emmy™ nominated and Peabody™ award-winning directors Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason executive produce along with Michael Gasparro, The Cinemart, MIC and Billboard.

DIRECTORS STATEMENT:

“Fyre Fraud” is more than the story of a failed music festival in the Bahamas – this dark comedy is a cautionary tale for a generation.

Billy McFarland offers us a window into the mind of a con artist, the insidious charm of the fraudster and how they can capture our imaginations, our investment, and our votes in the age of Trump. McFarland’s staggering ambition metastasized in a petri dish of late-stage capitalism, corporate greed, and predatory branding, all weaponized by our fear of missing out.

Our aim was to set the stage for a strange journey into the moral abyss of our digital age, going beyond the meme to show an ecosystem of enablers, driven by profit and willing to look the other way, for their own gain.

We draw on countless cultural references, on true crime tension, and on humor – but we did not intend to create a toothless comedy about the Fyre Festival. We hope this film can pierce our collective apathy and disrupt our own millennial peers, if only for an instant – to look at these stories for what they truly are, and to halt this algorithm before it devours us whole.

FYRE: THE GREATEST PARTY THAT NEVER HAPPENED

Here is Netflix’s trailer and description of “Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened”:

An exclusive behind the scenes look at the infamous unraveling of the Fyre music festival. Created by Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule, Fyre was promoted as a luxury music festival on a private island in the Bahamas featuring bikini-clad supermodels, A-List musical performances and posh amenities. Guests arrived to discover the reality was far from the promises.
Chris Smith, the director behind the Emmy Award Nominated documentary “Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond,” gives a first-hand look into disastrous crash of Fyre as told by the organizers themselves.
Written & Directed by: Chris Smith (“Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton” (2017), “American Movie” (1999 Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Documentary), “Collapse” (2009)) Produced by Library Films, Jerry Media, Matte Projects VICE Studios, and VICE Studios. Executive Producers: Brett Kincaid, Max Pollack, Matthew Rowean, Gabrielle Bluestone, James Ohliger, Elliot Tebele. Edited by Jon Karmen, Koehler.

 

 

2018 Cannes Film Festival: Inside the festival’s controversial restrictions on streaming services and selfies

March 26, 2018

by Carla Hay

 

Dustin Hoffman, director Noah Baumbach, Emma Thompson, Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler at the Cannes Film Festival premiere of “The Meyerowitz Stories” at Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France, on May 21, 2017. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage for Netflix)

The annual Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, is one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals, but Cannes Film officials have made two controversial decisions that could potentially alienate large segments of festival attendees and movie fans. First, movies that are from streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon will no longer be eligible for awards at the Cannes Film Festival, such as the Palme D’or (the top prize), Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, etc. However, films from streaming services (and TV networks such as HBO) can still have screenings and premieres at Cannes. The second change, which is even more alienating to movie fans, is that the festival has now banned “selfies” from being taken on the red carpet. The changes go into effect for the 71st edition of the Cannes Film Festival, which takes place from May 8 to May 9, 2018.

In an exclusive interview with French magazine Le Film Français that was published on March 23, 2018, Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Fremaux explained that these changes have mostly to do with adhering to French laws which state that a movie that was originally released theatrically cannot be available for streaming in France until 36 months after the theatrical release. If streaming services such as Netflix release any of their movies in cinemas, it’s typically on the same day or within two weeks of the day it premieres on the streaming service. The new Cannes policy now requires that all films eligible for competition at the Cannes Film Festival must be available for release in French theaters, and the theatrical release of the movie must be before any release on TV or on streaming services. Since Netflix and other streaming services do not have business models that allow them to wait three years to stream their content in France in order to get a theatrical release in France,  that leaves Netflix and other streaming services out of the loop to compete for awards at the Cannes Film Festival.

The United States and many other countries do not have laws mandating a three-year delay between when a movie is released in theaters and when it can be made available for streaming, which is why many critics of this Cannes policy think that the policy is out-of-touch and detrimental to a film festival that should pride itself on being a truly international event. However, those who agree with the Cannes policy believe that the festival has a right to support French cinema laws and preserve the specialness of a theatrical release.

Byung Heebong, Giancarlo Esposito, Steven Yeun, Tilda Swinton, Ahn Seo-Hyun, Bong Joon-Ho, Paul Dano, Lily Collins, Jake Gyllenhaal and Devon Bostic at the Cannes Film Festival premiere of “Okja” at Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France, on May 19, 2017. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage for Netflix)

In 2017, the Netflix films “Okja” and “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Both films had a limited release in U.S. theaters, as did Netflix’s period drama “Mudbound” and sports documentary “Icarus,” which did not premiere at Cannes, but were nominated for Academy Awards because they met Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences requirements of being released in at least one U.S. cinema for a minimum of one week. (“Icarus” won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, the first Academy Award won for a Netflix film.)

It will continue to be a complicated debate over whether or not a movie from a television network or a streaming service should be eligible for the same awards as movies that were first released in theaters, considering that Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services have become major presences at film festivals to acquire movies that have already been made and need distribution—as opposed to movies that were specifically made for the streaming services. For example, “Mudbound” and “Icarus” were two of several films that Netflix acquired after the movies premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Sofia Coppola and Nicole Kidman at the Cannes Film Festival premiere of “The Beguiled” in Cannes, France, on May 24, 2017. (Photo courtesy of the Cannes Film Festival)

As for the ban on taking selfies on the red carpet, Fremaux told Le Film Français why Cannes officials made the decision: “At the top of the red carpet, the pettiness and the hold up caused by the untimely disorder created by taking selfies hurts the quality of the climbing of the steps … And it does the same to the festival as a whole.”

What’s bizarre about this ban is that while taking selfies are prohibited on the red carpet, autograph signing is apparently still allowed. Even if barriers were set up on the red carpet that would put a larger distance between celebrities and fans, there are still some celebrities and other people on the red carpet who will want to go over to fans and let them take pictures and get autographs. (And it could be argued that signing autographs take about the same time, if not more time, than taking selfies.)

Most people would agree that fan interaction is one of the main reasons why red-carpet premieres are exciting to attendees. The success of these types of events are largely dependent on the number of cheering fans who show up, and the fans are usually there to get photos and/or try to get autographs. So unless the Cannes Film Festival is planning to take away fans’ cell phones and cameras and push celebrities away who want to take photos with fans, this “no selfies on the red carpet” policy will be hard to enforce and probably won’t last.