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2015 | 2014

1-20 of 22 items from 2015   « Prev | Next »

Do the right thing: Spike Lee's Chicago film must avoid the city's crime clichés

10 April 2015 12:19 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Spike Lee’s next venture needs to do more than add to the growing list of reductive and voyeuristic feature films and documentaries about the Windy City

Chicagoans are resilient. I’ve lived there my entire life and know this to be true more than most anything else about the city. From an environmental standpoint, the brutal force of our winters is a metaphorical test. If you can survive here, you can survive anywhere. Yes, it is about the cold and the snow and the gray. But it is also about the things that never seem to go right here: “Machine” politics, bureaucratic fraud, a broken system of public services.

But Chicagoans also like to keep these things secret. That leads to public embarrassments and indictments on why we are considered the “Second City”. Our rampant, summertime violence is yet another example. That is why, when Amazon announced a new »

- Britt Julious

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The Comedians’ Stephnie Weir on Hollywood’s ‘Brutality,’ Dysfunctional Producers, and Funny TV Women

9 April 2015 12:38 PM, PDT | Vulture | See recent Vulture news »

No offense to Billy Crystal and Josh Gad, ostensible stars of FX’s The Comedians, but Stephnie Weir is its breakout performer. Crystal and Gad play themselves playing themselves as the hosts and lead players in an FX sketch series called The Billy & Josh Show. But as their perma-flustered, Über-awkward producer Kristen Laybourne, MADtv vet Weir wrests laughs from the aforementioned heavy hitters with an improviser’s knack (she’s a Second City alum) for playing overwhelmed and anxious. It’s an overdue opportunity for the Texan native who, since leaving MADtv, has guest-acted on assorted sitcoms (Modern Family, ‘Til Death) while writing and consulting for others (The Millers, Raising Hope); produced a two-man show/video series with husband Bob Dassie dubbed WeirDass; and been either cast for or tapped to write/produce several network pilots, including David Wain’s almost-was Brenda Forever and a still-in-process ABC half-hour about an »

- Kenny Herzog

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'Heroes Reborn': Masi Oka Will Return as Hiro Nakamura

27 March 2015 1:32 PM, PDT | MovieWeb | See recent MovieWeb news »

Masi Oka (NBC's Heroes) will reprise his Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated role as Hiro Nakamura for a guest-starring arc of episodes on NBC's new event series Heroes Reborn, which will premiere in fall 2015. Said Masi Oka:

"I'm excited to return to my 'Heroes' roots. Hiro Nakamura was such an inspirational role to play, and I'm hoping the fans will enjoy seeing him back on TV."

Said creator/executive producer Tim Kring:

"We are thrilled to have Masi back in the 'Heroes' family. The character of Hiro Nakamura was such a huge part of the first series' success, and a gigantic fan favorite.&#160We felt the fans would really love seeing him back in action again."

Masi Oka can currently be seen in the role of the eccentric Coroner on the hit series Hawaii Five-0. He has also recurred on NBC's Scrubs and Fox's Luis »

- MovieWeb

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Jane Lynch Talks Touring After 'Glee': "I Revel in It" (Q&A)

21 March 2015 8:00 AM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

After six seasons of playing tyrannical cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester, for which she won a best supporting actress Emmy in 2009, Jane Lynch is embarking on her first major post-Glee project, See Jane Sing, her nationally-touring musical-comedy variety show. Lynch — no stranger to live performance, having been a member of The Second City improv group in Chicago and starring in the Broadway revival Annie in 2013 — combines comedy chops with musical highs in a show with live orchestration, song-and-dance numbers, and fast-paced witty banter between Lynch and co-stars Kate Flannery (best

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- Patrick Shanley

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Here's Steve Carell Playing Fabio with Stephen Colbert in 1994 (Video)

12 March 2015 9:45 AM, PDT | | See recent news »

Chicago's Second City comedy group has long been an incubator for young comedians. Many famous funny people have come up through its ranks, including Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jane Lynch and the now-Oscar-nominated actor Steve Carell. Luckily for us, Second City's extensive archiving means we have this clip of the Foxcatcher actor dressed as the famous Italian fashion model, spokesperson and actor Fabio. The clip is from Second City's 1994 revue, Are You Now or Have You Ever Been Mellow, and features the shirtless star donning a flowing blond wig. Fun fact: that's Carell's future Daily Show costar Stephen Colbert »

- Alex Heigl, @alex_heigl

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Watch This Epic Throwback Video of Amy Poehler Rapping in the '90s!

5 March 2015 5:03 PM, PST | E! Online | See recent E! Online news »

It's throwback Thursday and Amy P. is in the house! That's right, Amy Poehler is actually a rapper in disguise. Well, at least she is in this '90s clip anyway! Footage from a 1995 pilot titled Rtvn showcases a young Poehler who can put together a rhyme, proving that she has always been the coolest—even way back in the day! Talk about a throwback. "The next man or the next wo-man it doesn't make a difference. Keep the competition coming. I recite chapter and verse. The title of this recital is 'Ladies First'," rapped the comedienne. The pilot, featuring Second City Improv legend Del Close and Matt Dwyer, was filmed before Poehler's big Saturday Night Live »

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Amy Poehler Made a Pilot With the Godfather of Improv When She Was 23 and It Is So Weird

25 February 2015 3:15 PM, PST | Vulture | See recent Vulture news »

In honor of the Parks and Rec finale, Second City unearthed an old pilot that Amy Poehler made in 1995 alongside improv guru Del Close and fellow future famous person Adam McKay. It's called Rvtv, and it is very strange. Co-star Matt Dwyer tells Splitsider, "I honestly do not recall where the concept came from," and that really says it all.  »

- Nate Jones

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Second City Partnering With NBC To Scout Talent

25 February 2015 12:29 PM, PST | | See recent Backstage news »

Might be a good time to sign up for a class at Second City. The famed improv school is partnering with NBC on three talent scouting initiatives aimed at diversifying the casts of the network’s comedy series. The new initiative includes the NBCUniversal Second City Bob Curry Fellowships, which will be awarded to 16 performers who, starting April 7, will participate in an eight-week master-class series. The program concludes with a showcase performance. Some two hundred applications have already been received by Second City for the fellowships, according to a spokeswoman. Those interested in applying should contact one of the theater’s three locations.    “The Second City has historically been a premier training ground for comedic and improv talent – and NBCUniversal is delighted, through this partnership, to help make this incredible learning opportunity and exposure more accessible to the diverse talent who represent the comedy voices of the future,” Paul Telegdy, »

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NBC Partners With The Second City to Develop Diverse Sketch Comedy Talent

25 February 2015 7:36 AM, PST | The Wrap | See recent The Wrap news »

More than a year after “Saturday Night Live” was dinged in the media for not employing any black female cast members, NBC and The Second City are teaming up to hone diverse sketch comedy and improv talent. NBCUniversal Talent Development & Inclusion is partnering with the legendary Chicago-based comedy theatre on a training program for improvisation, performance and writing. Also Read: ‘SNL’s’ 40 Most Iconic Characters: From the Blues Brothers to Stefon (Photos) “NBCUniversal is honored and excited to partner with The Second City to encourage and nurture emerging and diverse comedic talent,” said Paul Telegdy, President, Alternative and Late Night Programming, »

- Tony Maglio

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Norm Macdonald Binge-Tweeted a Behind-the-Scenes Tell-All About SNL 40

18 February 2015 11:32 PM, PST | Vulture | See recent Vulture news »

With Saturday Night Live's 40th-anniversary special now a vestige of the past, viewers have had time to let questions and opinions percolate. Some of the loudest revolved around Eddie Murphy's strange, underwhelming appearance. Former cast member Norm Macdonald, who appeared in and wrote sketches for the special, used Twitter to address the mystery and to vent publicly about the wild week he had. In 110 tweets, Macdonald dished about everything from a rejected Murphy role to Bill Murray's penchant for golf to the origins of Celebrity Jeopardy. Here's what we learned:1. Contrary to what you would've thought, SNL 40 was reportedly not a tight ship. 2. Celebrity Jeopardy came from Second City Television. Macdonald claimed to have come up with the idea for SNL, after stealing it from Sctv's Half-Wits: He and Steve Higgins wrote the first Jeopardy sketch decades ago but waited for Martin Short (originally from Sctv »

- Sean Fitz-Gerald

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Remembering 'Saturday Night Live's' Fallen Greats

13 February 2015 7:42 PM, PST | Entertainment Tonight | See recent Entertainment Tonight news »

Saturday Night Live's 40th anniversary special airs this Sunday. While most of the show's best will be there, some of the show's greats are no longer living.

Et interviewed John Belushi just four months before he was found unresponsive in a bungalow at the Chateau Marmont. The comedian passed away at the age of 33 after taking a lethal combination of cocaine and heroin.

Video: Kevin Nealon Recalls His First Night on SNL

Belushi was a role model for another fallen SNL great -- Chris Farley. Both honed their improvisational skills at Chicago's Second City. While Belushi was a part of SNL's original cast in 1975, Farley joined the show in 1990 about eight years after Belushi's death.

SNL alum Julia Sweeney spoke fondly about her late friend and cast mate, as she remembered performing their classic Motivational Speaker sketches together. "Phil [Hartman] and I are the parents, and we're barely in the sketch. In fact I »

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The 'Saturday Night Live' story told through its sketches

12 February 2015 6:05 AM, PST | Hitfix | See recent Hitfix news »

On the eve of its 40th anniversary special (though the anniversary itself isn't until October), what is left to say about "Saturday Night Live"? There have been multiple books written about the show, several documentaries, countless essays — riding the never-ending roller-coaster between "Saturday Night Dead" and "Saturday Night Lives Again!" — best-ofs, worst-ofs, and every other kind of list you can think of. I don't know that anything I write over the next few pages will provide new insight into one of the most influential comedy shows ever made, but I wondered if you could tell the story of the show — through good times and bad, through revolutions and evolutions and retrenchments — by looking at its sketches. I wound up picking 21 in all: some among the show's most famous, some obscure but important. These aren't meant as a definitive breakdown of the best "SNL" ever had to offer, but as a »

- Alan Sepinwall

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Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! Motion Poster: Sushant Singh Rajput in Action

11 February 2015 8:00 PM, PST | Bollyspice | See recent Bollyspice news »

The first motion poster of director Dibakar Banerjee’s Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! features daring detective Byomkesh Bakshy played by Sushant Singh Rajput, in war torn Kolkata of 1942-43. The motion poster features dhoti-clad Sushant against the backdrop of Kolkata’s iconic Howrah Bridge in his stint to save the city from Japanese invasion.

The poster shows the city being bombed by Japanese choppers and a young detective trying to do his duty with full conviction.

The motion poster of Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! was released on the night of December 20, which is symbolic of the night of December 20 in 1942 when Calcutta (now Kolkata), the Second City of the British Empire (which was at war with the three Axis Powers: Germany, Italy and Japan) was bombed by Japan.

Watch the Dbb Motion Poster video here:


A Yash Raj Films presents Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! in »

- Press Releases

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Film Review: ‘Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon’

10 February 2015 2:04 PM, PST | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Punch-drunk and very much alive, “Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon” is a generous and briskly entertaining doc that traces the titular humor magazine’s lasting influence on American comedy. Although the film hews closely to the usual reminiscence-doc formula, ample laughs — both from the original magazine pieces and from their creators’ recollections — make this a real nonfiction crowdpleaser, with broader appeal than even a fest favorite like “Jodorowsky’s Dune.”

After “Smiling Through the Apocalypse: Esquire in the ‘6os” and “Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel,” a cynic might suggest that one could take any publication that had its heyday in the 1960s or 1970s; interview the contributors who were there, man; and concoct a chatty doc-by-numbers. Even so, helmer Douglas Tirola (“All In: The Poker Movie”) pulls it off with style, not only assembling an impressive roster of former Lampoon contributors, orbiters and celebrity fans, »

- Ben Kenigsberg

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Second City’s Big February and Other L.A. Events

5 February 2015 1:57 PM, PST | | See recent Backstage news »

Second City Hollywood is blowing up (in a good way) in February and wants its students, alumni, teachers and actors interested in the improv training school to get involved. For starters, there’s a Q&A with Tim Kazurinsky, Chandra lee Schwartz, Kim Zimmer and Tom Flynn from the touring company of “Wicked” Feb. 9 starting at 5 p.m. Then on Feb. 11, Jen Candy, daughter of legendary Second City alum John Candy, will interview Jim Belushi at 8 p.m. and on Feb. 25, she’ll sit down with her late father’s co-star from “Armed and DangerousEugene Levy. All events take place at the school’s theater located at 6560 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles.   Other upcoming events include:  The Greatest Showman: Cecil B. DeMille Screening of “The Cheat” & “The Golden Chance”Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m.Billy Wilder Theater10899 Wilshire Blvd.Tickets here.  Learn How to Use the Arri Alexa & Amira CamerasFeb. »

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Interview: Filmmaker Alex Beh Presents ‘Warren’ at Midwest Independent Film Festival

2 February 2015 9:58 AM, PST | | See recent news »

Chicago – The opening night of the 2015 Midwest Independent Film Festival is on its usual First Tuesday of the month, February 3rd, and what better way to kick it off then to have Chicagoland native Alex Beh come back to present the Windy City premiere of his first feature film, “Warren.” Beh wrote, directed and performed as the title character in this slice-of-life romance about staying true to a life’s path, and everything that happens in spite of that hope.

Alex Beh was born in Chicago, and grew up in nearby Winnetka. He trained locally in acting and improvisation through The Second City, iO Theater and the Piven Workshop. Now based in Los Angeles, he continues to work as an actor, writer and director, with seven short films to his credit and a number of TV and independent film appearances. In “Warren,” he cast veteran actors John Heard and Jean Smart »

- (Adam Fendelman)

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Poster for Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon

28 January 2015 2:30 AM, PST | Flickeringmyth | See recent Flickeringmyth news »

Coinciding with its screening as Sundance, a poster has been released for the documentary film Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon, which has been created by Rick Meyerowitz, who produced the original poster for National Lampoon’s Animal House

The film looks back on the origins and wild heyday of the satire group. What began as a magazine started by Harvard classmates Douglas Kenney and Henry Beard in 1970 would eventually become a comedy behemoth of books, stage shows and movies, pushing the culture forward (via a mix of cutting satire and fart jokes) in a very uncertain decade.

Much like Chicago’s Second City, the group served as a springboard and mega-platform for some of the greatest comedic talents of the era, such as Chevy Chase, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, and John Belushi. Drunk Stoned Brilliant Deaduses a mix of archival footage and interviews to tell »

- Gary Collinson

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Watch Stephen Colbert’s Song Medley From His Last Night at Second City

27 January 2015 11:21 PM, PST | Vulture | See recent Vulture news »

Stephen Colbert's decision to end The Colbert Report with a musical finale might make more sense after watching this clip. Roughly 20 years ago, Colbert said farewell to another comedic institution — Chicago's Second City — with music. This performance includes some special collaborators, such as Paul Dinello and David Razowsky, and a brief, albeit touching, intro by Steve Carell. (Colbert was Carell's understudy while at the troupe.) Splitsider dug up the 1994 clip today as part of its weekly Second City archive series. Maybe watching the absurd medley will tide you over till Colbert's TV return; if not, it should at least make you smile because the whole thing's simultaneously hilarious and bittersweet. »

- Sean Fitz-Gerald

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Calling All Comedians Aged 8–18

27 January 2015 1:42 PM, PST | | See recent Backstage news »

This summer the world’s largest school of improvisation and sketch writing is getting a headstart on training the comedians of tomorrow. Chicago’s Second City Training Center has opened its doors to students aged 8–18 for a series of seven one- or two-week camps dedicated to the fundamentals of long form improv, clowning, and standup. If you know a young class clown looking to hone his or her skills this June–August, comedy camps might be just the thing. “The Second City Training Center offers youth a unique opportunity to study improv and sketch writing at the very same time,” said Kerry Sheehan, president of the Second City Training Centers and Education Program, in a recent statement. “This year, we’re pleased to be expanding the program by offering summer camps for ages 8–10 as well as our first Advanced Comedy Camps for ages 15–18. Campers continue to succeed here every summer »

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Harold Ramis Honored by Writers Guild with Screen Laurel Award

13 January 2015 11:18 AM, PST | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

The Writers Guild of America West has selected the late Harold Ramis as the recipient of its Laurel Award for screenwriting achievement.

The award will be presented at the WGA Awards ceremony on Feb. 14, with Erica Mann Ramis and family accepting.

Harold Ramis changed the face of comedy,” said WGA West VP Howard A. Rodman. “His death last year deprived us of his unique way of seeing the world, at once hilarious and wise. From his early work with National Lampoon and Sctv through ‘Animal House,’ ‘Meatballs,’ ‘Caddyshack’ and ‘Ghostbusters,’ Ramis’ voice was strong, clear, outrageous in all the best ways.”

“His unrealized projects – an adaptation of ‘Confederacy of Dunces,’ a biopic about Emma Goldman – leave us aching with an anticipation that will never be fulfilled,” Rodman added. “And then there’s ‘Groundhog Day,’ one of modern cinema’s few true masterworks, a film that is impeccably crafted, morally astute, »

- Dave McNary

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2015 | 2014

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