New on DVD

Another weekly feature I’m working on for Metromix is New on DVD, which lists the upcoming DVD releases for the week.

Metromix DVD pick of the week:

“Mad Men: Season 3”
Stars: Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Elisabeth Moss, January Jones, Christina Hendricks

If you thought seasons one and two of “Mad Men” were dramatic, then you’d better hold on to your Gibson martini because season three is all sorts of crazy. The British infiltrate the office when Sterling Cooper is bought out, little Sally Draper is afraid of her new baby brother and Don Draper’s secret identity becomes not-so-secret. Throw in a freak lawnmower accident and a secret gay love tryst, and you’ve got the most potent season yet.

Extras: Commentaries with creator Matthew Weiner and the cast; “Medgar Evers: An Unsung Hero” featurette; “Clearing the Air: The History of Cigarette Advertising” featurette; “We Shall Overcome: The March on Washington” featurette
Price: DVD: $49.98; Blu-Ray: $49.99

See the rest of this week’s here: Metromix.com


Nikki Finke in The New Yorker

I stumbled upon this article yesterday… It’s clearly written by a guy who lives in New York, trying to write about Hollywood, but interesting enough.

Call Me

Why Hollywood fears Nikki Finke.

by Tad Friend October 12, 2009

“I don’t pretty it up,” says Finke, who sometimes writes ten posts a day on her Web site, Deadline Hollywood Daily.

On February 5th, Universal Studios and Imagine Entertainment threw a cocktail party for their film “Frost/Nixon,” hoping to stir up buzz for its Oscars prospects. The event, at Nobu Los Angeles, drew many of the town’s entertainment journalists—a contentious bunch. As the guests snacked on yellowtail sashimi, Sharon Waxman, who the previous week had launched an entertainment-business Web site called The Wrap, fell into conversation with a group that included Brian Grazer, Imagine’s co-chairman. Waxman covered Hollywood for the Times from 2003 to 2007; though her reporting occasioned a number of corrections, she is aggressively self-confident. Turning to Grazer, Waxman made a provocative remark about the reporting of her former close friend and now bitter rival Nikki Finke. “She’s always been nice to me,” Grazer replied, before moving away at warp speed. When Finke later demanded that Waxman explain this exchange—Finke seems to have a Google Alert that pings whenever her work is discussed—Waxman denied that she’d been disparaging, and claimed that Grazer had turned white at the mention of Finke’s name: “Fear in the hearts of giants!”

Finke is fifty-five, and a longtime entertainment-business reporter. She runs the Web site Deadline Hollywood Daily out of her apartment in west Los Angeles; in three and a half years she has made D.H.D. Hollywood’s most dreaded news source. Marrying tabloid instincts to a strong Puritan streak, Finke portrays many of the town’s leaders as jackasses who golf at exclusive preserves, elbow underlings aside to hog the spotlight, downsize those underlings while lining their own pockets, and generally besmirch the fabric of civilization. Jeff Zucker, the C.E.O. and president of NBC Universal, is “one of the most kiss-ass incompetents to run an entertainment company”; Charles and James Dolan, who own Cablevision, are a “clown parade”; and Sumner Redstone, the chairman of Viacom, is a “crazy old coot.”

See the rest at The New Yorker.

entertainment, film

The Limits of Control- review

The Limits of Control Speaks to a Limited Audience 
By Rebecca Ford


The Limits of Control is not a film for the masses. Many will not grasp onto director Jim Jarmusch’s affinity for the laconic. The shots held for a ridiculously long time, the outlandish characters who speak of intangible subjects and the overall sterility of this film are a deadly cocktail to those raised in a fast-moving, ADD society.

But that doesn’t mean Control isn’t a good film. Jarmusch, who brought us 2003’s Coffee and Cigarettes and 2005’s Broken Flowers, has always been known for being cooler than the rest, hipper than most and, maybe, smarter than all of us. In a film world saturated by Hollywood’s formulaic happy endings, Jarmusch is the kink in the machine.

The story of Control follows a lone stranger, played by Isaach De Bankolé, as he travels through Spain on some sort of mission. Along the way, he exchanges secret messages and matchboxes with eccentric characters.

What gets frustrating as time goes on is that audiences learn very little about the leading man. We don’t know much about his mission, or why he’s doing it, or even if he gets paid. We do know that he wears the same suit for several days, he orders two cups of espresso but only drinks one and he spends his free time at art galleries.

The overall feeling of the film is actually very similar to walking through an art gallery. You stare at a painting for a while, think, “Oh, that’s nice,” and then move on to the next. You can’t touch the art, and no matter how hard you try, you can never really feel one with it. It’s just a nice scene to look at before moving on to the next… See the rest at socal.com


MTV picks up ‘The Phone’

The 411 on Justin Timberlake’s new adventure game show
By Rebecca Ford
April 20, 2009

MTV picks up 'The Phone'

(Credit: MTV/Mark Mainz)

Most of the time, your phone rings and it’s your mom telling you to make something of yourself. But every once in a while, your phone rings and it’s a mysterious voice recruiting you into a high-stakes adventure game.

MTV and executive producer Justin Timberlake are taking viewers on a relentless ride with their new show, “The Phone.” The six episode series is a competition that simulates what it would be like for viewers to be dropped into the middle of a thrilling adventure movie. (Remember that Michael Douglas flick, “The Game”?)

“‘The Phone’ is a high-intensity game show where we take four real-life people, not actors… and we thrust them into physical and mental nightmare,” Timberlake said in a trailer for the series.

Each week, the lives of four strangers are interrupted by a phone call where a mysterious voice invites them to participate in the game. If they choose yes by pressing “1” on their cell phones, the new contestants begin to trigger dangerous events that propel them into their adventure and the chance to win up to $50,000.

The mysterious voice pairs the contestants up into two teams and instructs them to follow a movie-like drama that leads them through a series of challenges from hanging off the edge of Seattle’s Space Needle to racing into a burning building to save a man’s life.

Check out the trailer for the series at Metromix.


Top ten infomercials

Counting down our favorite infomercials of all time (now with 50% more commercial!)

Rebecca Ford
February 5, 2009

941107_ratio3x4_width180Infomercials get a bad rap, but they’re really like itty-bitty movies. They’ve got a crisis (“I’m too fat!” or “My knives are dull!” or “My shammy is insufficiently absorbent!”), a climax (usually accompanied by ooohs, aaahs and canned applause from a nonexistent studio audience) and a resolution (“Thank you, Thighmaster!”). They’ve got all the glitz and glam of Hollywood, plus a creepy vibe from someone trying to convince you to buy a personal dehydrator.

We’ve gathered up the craziest, strangest and most illogical infomercials from the past couple of decades. From exercise equipment to culinary swag, our list of the best infomercials this side of 3:30 a.m. will make you want to pick up the phone and dial for your very own Snuggie, Miracle Blade or [gulp] Tiddy Bear…..

See the list (with video!) at Metromix.

entertainment, news

It’s been a while…

…since I wrote. I’ve been busy traveling, and spending some time with friends and family. I’ve also been working at Metromix as a contributing editor for TV and pop culture. Here is some recent stuff:

‘Real World: Brooklyn’: Meet the cast

2009: The Year of Yellow

I’m going to try to get back into writing on here, too. So keep a lookout!


Sure, most reality shows are really bad

especially DANCE reality shows. There’s no end to them: So you think you can dance, Step it up and dance, etc. They aren’t filmed right and they mix too many different types of dancers together. Can a hip-hop dancer really compete with a formally trained ballet dancer? doubt it.

But there is one ray of hope. America’s Best Dance Crew was a hit with its first season. It’s filmed so that you can really see the talent of the dancers, and the crews are truly artists.

The second season has started up, and there are some really interesting groups. I have to admit I am a little biased because I have a friend on one of the crews, but even if I didn’t I would still love this show. Check it out Thursdays at 10 pm.

Here’s a clip of my friends crew, Fanny Pak:





Film Review- Bigger, Stronger, Faster*

Nearly a year ago, Canadian pro wrestler Chris Benoit killed his wife and seven-year-old son before taking his own life. When it was implied that steroids may have caused Benoit’s outburst, most people probably accepted that reasoning without any questioning. Of course.

But a new documentary, “Bigger, Stronger, Faster*,” raises all sorts of questions about performance enhancing drugs. Actually, the film succeeds in creating questions that the average non-juicer, non-pro-athlete probably never even thought about. The well-researched, thorough documentary which premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival never answers most of its own questions, but it is a powerful catalyst into a discussion of what steroids mean to America.

Chris Bell, who is the narrator, director and co-writer of the documentary, presents his own family as a microcosm of the steroid addiction. Both his older and younger brother use steroids, with dreams of becoming famous bodybuilders and pro wrestlers.

Bell grew up with muscles and manliness at the center of his universe. He cites Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hulk Hogan, and Sylvester Stallone as his heroes of youth. He and his brothers would train and wrestle in the basement in hopes of someday becoming wrestlers as we see through the use of home-video footage.

But, years later, the brothers have fallen short of their championship belt dreams and their childhood realities have been crushed: their idols were doping up, wrestling may be fake, and the American dream to be the best may mean cheating.

Bell’s storytelling is in fine form, as he interviews politicians, ex-wrestlers, weightlifters, Olympic athletes, doctors and activists. Every angle of the steroid debate is discussed from the use of Olympic athletes to high school players.

From the producers of “Bowling for Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 911,” the editing is crisp, clean and succeeds in presenting the irony and contradictions of the characters without forcing it.

There are several surprising arguments that Bell is able to bring to the table. Many of his sources argue that steroids are far less dangerous than many legal substances, especially tobacco and alcohol. There were only 3 steroid-related deaths in the U.S. last year, compared to the over 400,000 due to tobacco, according to their research.

It’s hard to swallow this argument. From an early age, it has been instilled in us that steroids are bad. They are cheating. And the conflicting nature of many of the character’s in the documentary make even harder to really believe that maybe steroids should be legal. First the athletes say they never did steroids. Then they say they did them, but everyone does them. Then they say they only drank herbal tea.

The steroid debate is a mess, but only because the demands of the American dream make it so. To be the best, to be the winner is asking a lot of the people of this country. In the shadows of these superhuman mortals, the fantasy of greatness is more lethal than any shot or pill could ever be.

See this article here

In theaters Friday, May 30, 2008.