12 items from 2015
"Cooley High" ought to be remembered as a cinema milestone, and its writer and director remembered as pioneers.
Released 40 years ago this week (on June 25, 1975), it ought to be celebrated for its vast influence on movies, TV, and music. As a young-men-coming-of-age movie, it deserves to be mentioned alongside Fellini's "I Vitelloni," George Lucas's "American Graffiti," Barry Levinson's "Diner," and John Singleton's "Boyz N the Hood." And yet, the film and its creators have been largely forgotten, lost to history.
The story behind "Cooley High" is even more dramatic than the comedy-drama that unspooled on the screen. It's the story of Kenneth Williams, who, like protagonist Preach, left Chicago's Cabrini-Green projects with dreams of becoming a Hollywood screenwriter. Having dropped out of high school, he hitchhiked from the Windy City to Hollywood with $5 in his pocket and no connections, and for a while he supported himself selling drugs. »
- Gary Susman
While Netflix has been in the habit of reviving old TV icons, Hollywood is no stranger to getting in on the nostalgia. And if you’re going to be digging up any old property, the socially relevant and racially poignant comedy of Norman Lear’s Good Times is a strong place to start.
A Good Times movie is currently in development from the creator of ABC’s African American spin on Modern Family, Black-ish, Kenya Barris. Deadline reports that the feature adaptation of the show, which ran on CBS between 1974 to 1979, is being set up at Sony and will be a period piece set in the ’60s.
Good Times was a spin-off of Maude, itself a spin-off of All in the Family, and was the story of a family of African Americans living in a poor, black neighborhood and housing project and how they still managed to have “good times »
- Brian Welk
Matthew Weiner has always been more comfortable talking about the past of “Mad Men” rather than letting anyone know anything about the future — even when that future is only seven episodes long, starting Sunday, April 5 at 10 p.m. Having spent enough time over the years asking Weiner questions that he responded to with a very guarded, “Well, you’ve got to watch,” I knew enough to focus as much on the past as possible when we recently sat down for an hour-long interview to discuss the end of his Emmy-winning baby. We talked about the last days of production, looked back all the way to the show’s origins when Weiner was a staff writer on “Becker” looking for a different kind of career in television, the show’s long acting Emmy drought, and more. And I made it almost to the end without a single “You’ve got to watch. »
- Alan Sepinwall
Norman Lear was a celebrity producer of television sitcoms decades before the current era of superstar showrunners dawned. His string of Nielsen hits during the early- to mid-1970s — All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, and Maude — made him one of Hollywood’s most powerful creatives. At one point in 1976, nine shows produced under the Lear name were on TV. But beyond his ratings success, Lear became an icon as much (and perhaps more) because of the kinds of comedies he made. His were shows that “employed the power of humor in the service of human understanding,” as President Bill Clinton put it when presenting the producer with the National Medal of Arts in 1999. “He held up a mirror to American society and changed the way we look at it.” While Lear, now 92, hasn’t produced new TV shows in »
- Josef Adalian
Human beings and their affectionate vibes are something special. After all, we as individuals are going to love who we feel are worth loving. However, society demands that the protocol of loving should be straight-forward and “natural”. The rule of thumb: stick to your own kind! Whether it is being loyal to your own kind racially or culturally or either with your own age range the expectation of romance is defined…do not make waves and keep things safe and mainstream!
Well, human beings can be also unpredictable and live for going against the grain especially certain characters and personalities in the movies. Love and romance make for great film fodder but when the notion of such on-screen amorous activities takes its theme to a whole new challenging level then the gloves are off!
In Stop in the Name of Love: Top Ten Forbidden Romances in the Movies we will »
- Frank Ochieng
For the week of February 10th, your horror and sci-fi home entertainment choices are practically boundless, as we’ve got a bevy of great films being released (something that might be helpful for those of you still in search for a gift for your Valentine). Scream Factory is pulling double-duty with both of their dual Blu-ray releases, Love at First Bite/Once Bitten and Vampire’s Kiss/High Spirits, and the cult classic Nekromantik 2 is getting a high def upgrade as well.
- Heather Wixson
Love can be complicated, especially when a relationship has supernatural elements. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, Scream Factory is about to release two Blu-ray double features that celebrate love in various forms: the obsessive nature of Nicolas Cage’s Peter Loew in Vampire’s Kiss, the ghost/human coupling in High Spirits, the desperate seeking of companionship in Love at First Bite, and the wide-eyed puppy love of Jim Carrey’s Mark Kendall in Once Bitten.
These double bill Blu-rays are due out from Scream Factory on February 10th, and we have a batch of clips and trailers from the films that tease the pleasures and pains of paranormal romance and supernatural seduction.
High Spirits: “Daryl Hannah, Peter O’Toole, Steve Guttenberg, Beverly D’Angelo, Jennifer Tilly, Peter Gallagher and Liam Neeson star in this hilariously haunting comedy! When a castle-turned-hotel owned by Peter Plunkett (O »
- Derek Anderson
Mark Gordon will need to brush off mantel space for his latest kudo, the 2015 Norman Lear Achievement Award from the Producers Guild of America. The honor, named for the pioneer behind “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons,” will be handed out at the 26th annual Producers Guild of America Awards held on Jan. 24 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles. Past recipients of the prestigious award include Chuck Lorre, J.J. Abrams, Dick Wolf, Jerry Bruckheimer, John Wells, Lorne Michaels, Aaron Spelling, David E. Kelley and, yes, Lear.
Gordon, the producer behind mega-hit series such as “Criminal Minds,” “Ray Donovan,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and telepic “Warm Springs,” which earned him an Emmy, and “Saving Private Ryan,” for which he won an Oscar and a Golden Globe, is also president emeritus and former prexy of the Producers Guild.
He says he strives to embody Lear’s spirit in his own work. »
- Marianne Zumberge
Scandal resumes Season 4 on Thursday, Jan. 29 — yet ABC has not released any photos from that winter premiere. Instead, the first photos are from the following episode, airing Feb. 5, and the news is grim: Olivia apparently still is missing.
For one, the episode is titled, “Where’s the Black Lady?” — words, I will predict, that come out of the mouth of Opa visitor Marla Gibbs (The Jeffersons). Secondly, the synopsis reads, “With Olivia still missing, the team comes together to do whatever it takes to find her and get her home safely.”
Lastly, the look of anxiety/anguish on the faces of Quinn, »
Veteran television writer and producer Norman Lear will receive the Evelyn F. Burkey Award at the 67th annual Writers Guild Awards in New York City on Feb. 14.
The award recognizes a person or organization whose contributions have brought honor and dignity to writers.
“Over several decades, the Writers Guild, East has presented the Burkey Award to celebrate the achievements of leaders – in the arts or politics – who have advanced the causes of creativity and freedom of speech,” said Writers Guild of America, East president Michael Winship. “This year, by honoring Norman Lear, we choose a man who spans the worlds »
- Jethro Nededog
The Writers Guild of America East has selected Norman Lear as the recipient of its Evelyn F. Burkey Award, which recognizes those who have brought “honor and dignity” to writers.
The trophy will be presented by Bill Moyers at the 67th annual Writers Guild Awards in New York City on Feb. 14 at the Edison Ballroom.
Lear has been a WGA member since 1951. He began his career writing sketches for Jack Haley, Martin and Lewis, and Martha Raye, and created his first television series, “The Deputy,” a Western starring Henry Fonda, in 1959.
Lear’s iconic “All in the Family” debuted in 1971 and won four Emmy Awards for best comedy series, received a Peabody Award and was nominated for 11 WGA awards. Lear followed “All in the Family” with “Maude,” “The Jeffersons,” “Sanford and Son,” “Good Times,” “One Day at a Time” and “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.”
He was nominated for an Oscar »
- Dave McNary
The gang at Scream Factory are making it incredibly easy to choose Valentine’s Day gifts for your significant horror loving other, with the announcement of Five titles, all ranging from hilarious to frightening. Personally, I’m looking forward to all of the February releases and think it’s pretty awesome how all across the board the films are.
Making their Scream Factory Bluray double feature debut on February 10th is the one-two punch of both the Love At First Bite/Once Bitten double, but also, Vampire’S Kiss/High Spirits, two films that are a lot of fun on their own.
Love At First Bit/Once Bitten
George Hamilton is possibly the tannest vampire in screen history in 1979’s Love at First Bite. When Count Dracula (Hamilton) is forced out of his castle to make room for an Olympic training facility, he relocates to New »
- Jerry Smith
12 items from 2015
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