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‘Better Call Saul’: Why That Blockbuster Video Scene Was Important, But Also a ‘Nail-Biter’ to Make

  • Indiewire
‘Better Call Saul’: Why That Blockbuster Video Scene Was Important, But Also a ‘Nail-Biter’ to Make
[Editor’s Note: Mild spoilers for Season 3, Episode 10, “Lantern” follow.]

It’s at times easy to forget that “Better Call Saul” is a period piece, if only because its 2002-2003 setting isn’t always noticeably distinguishable from the present day. But then every once in a while, creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould slap us in the face with a reminder that this show is happening in the past. It can be as simple as a trip to a video store — but not just any video store.

Read More: ‘Better Call Saul’: The 7 Times Jimmy and Kim Kissed On Screen, And How That Makes It The Most Rewarding Romance on TV

It’s something we all accepted as routine, just 15 years ago: Want to watch a movie? Go to Blockbuster Video. So in the Season 3 finale, “Lantern,” Kim (Rhea Seehorn) asks her assistant Francesca (Tina Parker) for a ride to what was once the dominant source for Americans in search of movie rentals, and we then get to see her browse the aisles in search of the perfect comfort viewing, following her near-fatal car accident the episode prior.

Executive producer Gennifer Hutchison, who wrote the season finale, told IndieWire that the decision to have Kim visit a video store came in the writers’ room, as the team discussed what Kim might possibly do after deciding to relax following her accident. “I just really loved the idea of her renting a bunch of videos and sitting around watching movies and eating junk food. Just because it’s something I relate to, it’s something I like to do when I destress. And I feel like it’s not something you see a lot of on TV and in movies,” she said.

And as a result, Gould — who directed the finale — got very excited about the idea of Kim going to not just any video store, but Blockbuster in particular. However, don’t think that this was an easy choice for the show — because according to production designer Michael Novotny, “it was a total nail-biter.”

Novotny told IndieWire that as soon as he received word that “Saul” wanted to recreate a Blockbuster, he got his team to work — specifically, the graphics department. “I can always do a set. A set’s the easy part. The hard part is the graphics and all of the art work you’re going to turn out,” he said.

But that process started before the show had actual permission to recreate a Blockbuster. “We started to build it without approval. That’s part of the nail-biting process,” he said. “It wasn’t until the day before we shot it that we got approval.”

This is because, as anyone who works in production might tell you, trying to depict a real brand on screen can be an incredibly difficult task. And the “Saul” team wanted to actually use Blockbuster iconography, which isn’t the easiest thing given that it’s a brand name you haven’t probably seen in the wild in years.

Blockbuster went bankrupt in 2010, and “roughly a dozen” stores currently exist today. Thus, the set was built on one of the show’s Albuquerque soundstages, and in fact, a great deal of what was on screen was made from scratch by the “Saul” production team, including the big Blockbuster sign hanging in the wall and the period-accurate movie covers.

One thing they were able to buy: the shelving units came thanks to an ironic stroke of luck and an Albuquerque video store that was going out of business. The production was thus able to buy those displays, which Novotny made sure were shortened so that, as they shot the scene, Kim and Francesca could be seen walking through the aisles. That framing was based on Gould’s storyboards, which were altered slightly during the production process, but otherwise didn’t require any major additional construction.

But really, here’s what people care about — the movies that are being considered, as Kim prepares for an epic binge in the pre-Netflix days. None of the titles are fake, and Novotny did work carefully with his team to carefully curate the movies that appeared on screen during the scene, all of which were drawn from a list provided by Peter Gould and the writers. Here are just some of the ones we happened to spot while freeze-framing:

“A Knight’s Tale” “Lawrence of Arabia” (the 40th anniversary special edition) “Love Liza” “The Mothman Prophecies” “Punch-Drunk Love” A Richard Pryor stand-up special “Beverly Hills Ninja” “The Cheap Detective” “Hanky Panky” “Blue Thunder” “American Sledge” “Darkness Falls” “Night of the Living Dead

They’re all movies that feel appropriate to the era at least within a year or two or as classics, though unfortunately a quick Internet search can reveal whether a film in question would have been available on DVD in the year 2003. Perhaps the most glaring oversight is the appearance of Tim Burton’s “Big Fish,” which was released in theaters December 10, 2003 and made available on DVD April 27, 2004 — something Hutchison’s husband (who actually worked at Blockbuster in the past) noticed while watching the final product. “We don’t always get it right,” she admitted.

Novotny acknowledged the “Big Fish” error, but he was relatively zen about it, given the intense pressure of making the scene happen in the first place. “It really was a down to the wire thing,” he said. “If that’s as much as I’m wrong… I’m sad to hear that but at the same time I’m happy that it went as good as it did.”

Update: On Twitter, Gould offered a little clarity as to why “Big Fish” might have time traveled back a year:

And that #BigFish they mention? Could be a shoutout to my former student @johnaugust… #YesYouReadThatRight

Peter Gould (@petergould) June 23, 2017

Hutchison couldn’t remember every one of the 10 films Kim officially rented, though such a list was made during production. Beyond “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Monty Python,” she said the rest were mostly legal dramas, though she did make sure to include the Luc Besson sci-fi romp “The Fifth Element.” “That was one for some reason I was really stuck on making sure was in her stack,” Hutchison said.

While hardly the most memorable scene of the finale, it still sticks in the mind because of how it triggers memories of an experience we’ve largely lost, traded in for the convenience of Netflix.

“I like the idea of physically walking around and choosing movies,” Hutchison said. “There is something about actually going into a store, having everything broken down by genre. Sometimes with the streaming services it’s a little overwhelming, but having that physical space… I don’t know. It was like a ritual.”

And depicting that ritual was just more proof that “Better Call Saul” will always find a way to surprise us with the seemingly mundane.

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Related stories'Better Call Saul': The 7 Times Jimmy and Kim Kissed On Screen, And How That Makes It The Most Rewarding Romance on TVThe 20 Best-Directed TV Drama Series of the 21st Century, Ranked'Better Call Saul' Review: Season 3 Finale Proves A Good Man Knows When to Give Up
See full article at Indiewire »

Cinemascore and exit polling in Hollywood: what is it?




If a film gets a Cinemascore of B or C, it's often classed as a disappointment. But what is a Cinemascore?

The process of marketing a movie is now an operation that lasts many months across all sorts of media, from bus stop posters to social media campaigns, all in pursuit of making sure the movie makes an impact in its opening weekend. Tracking and analytics can give an indication of how audiences are responding before the movie even hits cinemas, but it's only in that opening weekend, once they've actually seen the movie, that you can get a more accurate read on public opinion.

Box office aside, one way in which Hollywood's studios reads public response after release is Cinemascore, the Las Vegas-based market research firm which conducts nationwide exit polls. Billed as “Hollywood's Benchmark”, the company's researchers gathers information from filmgoers and the results, expressed as letter grades,
See full article at Den of Geek »

Veteran Actor Abe Vigoda Dead At Age 94; "The Godfather" And "Barney Miller" Among His Credits

  • CinemaRetro
Vigoda (left) with Richard Castellano and Marlon Brando in "The Godfather" (1972)

By Lee Pfeiffer

Abe Vigoda, whose hang-dog expression and low-key mannerisms help propel him to fame, has passed away at age 94. Vigoda toiled in films and TV without notable success until director Francis Ford Coppola cast him in the key role of Tessio, a mob lieutenant in the Corleone crime family in the 1972 classic "The Godfather".  Tessio was one of the most trusted "employees" of the Corleone family but following the death of its patriarch Vito Corleone, Tessio is discovered to be planning the assassination of the new godfather, Michael Corleone. Memorably he is led away to his execution with typical understated emotion. Vigoda's stock in the film industry rose immediately and he became a popular character actor, appearing in such films as "The Cheap Detective", "The Don is Dead", "Newman's Law", "Look Who's Talking" and "The Cannonball Run II
See full article at CinemaRetro »

Abe Vigoda, 'Godfather' and 'Barney Miller' Star, Dies at 94

Abe Vigoda, a veteran character actor best known for roles in "The Godfather" and sitcom "Barney Miller," has died. He was 94.

Vigoda, who passed away in New Jersey of natural causes, became known for his signature hangdog appearance, and was the repeated target of death hoaxes frequently touting his demise. That odd occurrence became a running joke throughout the latter half of his career.

The then-middle-aged actor was all but unknown when he landed the role of Tessio in 1972's "The Godfather," a part he reprised as part of a flashback in "The Godfather Part II" in 1974. He went on to appear in film such as "The Don Is Dead," "Newman's Law," "The Cheap Detective," "Joe Versus the Volcano," and "Jury Duty."

But television took up much of the rest of Vigoda's career, where he shone as always-on-the-verge-of-retiring Detective Phil Fish on beloved comedy series "Barney Miller." The character
See full article at Moviefone »

Abe Vigoda, ‘Barney Miller’ and ‘Godfather’ Actor, Dies at 94

Abe Vigoda, ‘Barney Miller’ and ‘Godfather’ Actor, Dies at 94
Actor Abe Vigoda, best known for his roles as mobster Tessio in “The Godfather” and as Detective Sgt. Fish in TV’s “Barney Miller” and a spinoff series in which he starred, has died. He was 94 and died in New Jersey of natural causes, his daughter, Carol Vigoda Fuchs told the Associated Press.

The tall character actor with the characteristically slouched shoulders and hangdog face became something of a pop culture figure due to repeated false reports of his demise, which became the subject of jokes. Reflecting his somewhat odd celebrity was the existence of a punk rock band named Abe Vigoda; his recurring appearances in the late 2000s on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien”; and the existence of a website named, which for years consisted simply of a blank page with the word No.

Vigoda made his feature debut in a bit part in Marcel Carne
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Abe Vigoda, ‘Barney Miller’ and ‘Godfather’ Actor, Dies at 94

Abe Vigoda, ‘Barney Miller’ and ‘Godfather’ Actor, Dies at 94
Actor Abe Vigoda, best known for his roles as mobster Tessio in “The Godfather” and as Detective Sgt. Fish in TV’s “Barney Miller” and a spinoff series in which he starred, has died. He was 94 and died in New Jersey of natural causes, his daughter, Carol Vigoda Fuchs told the Associated Press.

The tall character actor with the characteristically slouched shoulders and hangdog face became something of a pop culture figure due to repeated false reports of his demise, which became the subject of jokes. Reflecting his somewhat odd celebrity was the existence of a punk rock band named Abe Vigoda; his recurring appearances in the late 2000s on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien”; and the existence of a website named, which for years consisted simply of a blank page with the word No.

Vigoda made his feature debut in a bit part in Marcel Carne
See full article at Variety - TV News »

Sex Kitten Turned Two-Time Oscar Nominee on TCM Tonight

Ann-Margret movies: From sex kitten to two-time Oscar nominee. Ann-Margret: 'Carnal Knowledge' and 'Tommy' proved that 'sex symbol' was a remarkable actress Ann-Margret, the '60s star who went from sex kitten to respected actress and two-time Oscar nominee, is Turner Classic Movies' star today, Aug. 13, '15. As part of its “Summer Under the Stars” series, TCM is showing this evening the movies that earned Ann-Margret her Academy Award nods: Mike Nichols' Carnal Knowledge (1971) and Ken Russell's Tommy (1975). Written by Jules Feiffer, and starring Jack Nicholson and Art Garfunkel, the downbeat – some have found it misogynistic; others have praised it for presenting American men as chauvinistic pigs – Carnal Knowledge is one of the precursors of “adult Hollywood moviemaking,” a rare species that, propelled by the success of disparate arthouse fare such as Vilgot Sjöman's I Am Curious (Yellow) and Costa-Gavras' Z, briefly flourished from
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Growing Up Geek - 1978 A Geek is Born

I've been writing for GeekTyrant for over six years now. It's been an amazingly fun and crazy adventure. Some of our readers have been with us from the beginning, others have jumped on board along the way which is so cool. As you know, I write a good amount of articles to keep you all informed on what is going on in the movie and geek world. I try to incorporate little things about my life in some of the articles I write so you all get a sense of who I am and where I'm coming from.

I thought it'd be fun though to start a new column on the site where you can get to know a little bit about me. It's a place where I can share some fun experiences and stories with you of what it was like to grow up as a geek. I'm doing
See full article at GeekTyrant »

Sid Caesar, Master of TV Comedy, Dies at 91

Sid Caesar, Master of TV Comedy, Dies at 91
Sid Caesar, one of the first stars created by television via his weekly live comedy program “Your Show of Shows,” has died at 91. TV host Larry King announced the news on Twitter.

Caesar, partnered with Imogene Coca, is credited with breaking ripe comedic ground with the 90-minute live program: It didn’t rely on vaudeville or standup-inspired material but rather on long skits and sketches written by an impressive roster of comedy writers including Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Neil Simon, Larry Gelbart, Lucille Kallen and Mel Tolkin.

Your Show of Shows” was “different from other programs of its time because its humor was aimed at truth,” Simon once observed. “Other television shows would present situations with farcical characters; we would put real-life people into identifiable situations.”

Following Caesar’s Camelot-days in the ’50s, however, he made a precipitous decline into alcoholism and barbiturates, a self-described “20 year blackout” from which Caesar
See full article at Variety - TV News »

Comedian Sid Caesar Dies At 91

Sid Caesar, the legendary comedian, died on Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 91.

Sid Caesar Dies

Caesar’s death was confirmed by a number of his close friends, including TV and radio host Larry King, who took to Twitter to share the sad news.

Sorry to learn about the passing of Sid Caesar-a dear friend, a comic genius & an American classic- there will never be another one like him

Larry King (@kingsthings) February 12, 2014

During the 1950s, Caesar made a name for himself in TV sketch comedy shows, including Your Show of Shows and Ceasar’s Hour, after working on his act while serving in World War II. In Your Show of Shows, Caesar clowned around alongside Carl Reiner, Howard Morris and Imogene Coca. The show won two Emmy’s during his tenure.

Throughout his comedic career, he had the good fortune of working with material written by the likes of Reiner,
See full article at Uinterview »

5 Best Bets on TV This Week: 'How to Survive a Plague' on PBS, 'Community' Returns and More

  • Indiewire
5 Best Bets on TV This Week: 'How to Survive a Plague' on PBS, 'Community' Returns and More
Sure, Sunday tends to be overcrowded with high-end TV (like "Downton Abbey," returning to PBS this week), but what to watch the rest of the time? Every Monday, we bring you five noteworthy highlights from the other six days of the week. "In Memoriam" Monday, December 30th at 8pm on TCM Turner Classic Movies' year-end "In Memoriam" tribute is a salute to those who passed who weren't already honored during the year. The night begins with the 1941 Deanna Durbin musical "It Started with Eve" at 8pm, followed by Annette Funicello's 1964 "Bikini Beach" at 9:45pm. Eileen Brennan stars in Neil Simon's 1978 "The Cheap Detective" at 11:30pm, while Jonathan Winters plays a pair of brothers in 1965 black comedy "The Loved One" at 1:15am. Karen Black received an Oscar nomination for her performance in 1970's "Five Easy Pieces" at 3:30am, while Julie Harris is terrific in 1955's
See full article at Indiewire »

Eileen Brennan obituary

Actor who made her name in comedy films as an acid-tongued, gravel-voiced tyrant

Eileen Brennan, who has died aged 80, had been a stage actor since the late 1950s, but it was as a largely comic presence in Us cinema of the 1970s and early 1980s that she was most widely admired. As the pitiless Captain Doreen Lewis, putting a dippy new recruit – Goldie Hawn – through her paces in the hit military comedy Private Benjamin (1980), she wore her trademark look: a solid frizz of red hair, a clenched, sneering smile and an expression of withering incredulity. Then there was the gravelly voice: a heard-it-all whine to match that seen-it-all face. It sounded like bourbon on the rocks. Actual rocks, that is.

Captain Lewis epitomised the sort of role Brennan was best at – and which she was still playing as late as 2001, when she made the first in a run of appearances
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

'Private Benjamin' actress Eileen Brennan dies, aged 80

'Private Benjamin' actress Eileen Brennan dies, aged 80
Eileen Brennan has died at the age of 80.

The actress was perhaps best known for her Oscar-nominated role in 1980 comedy Private Benjamin opposite Goldie Hawn.

She passed away at her home in Burbank, Los Angeles after a battle with bladder cancer, her managers confirmed.

Brennan was known for her distinct, husky voice and sharp presence on screen.

Hawn said in a statement: "Our world has lost a rare human. Eileen was a brilliant comedian, a powerful dramatic actress and had the voice of an angel."

Brennan was nominated for a 'Best Supporting Actress' Oscar for her role as Us Army Captain Doreen Lewis in Private Benjamin.

She later reprised the role in the TV version of the film from 1981 to 1983, winning an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her work.

Earlier in her career, Brennan received a BAFTA nomination for playing waitress Genevieve in The Last Picture Show.

Other films
See full article at Digital Spy - Movie News »

R.I.P. Eileen Brennan

Beloved actress Eileen Brennan has died in Burbank, California. The eighty year old passed away on Sunday due to bladder cancer according to her publicist.

The actress began her career on Broadway, which included the role of Irene Malloy in the original production of "Hello, Dolly!". She went onto film and TV work with memorable roles in "The Sting," "The Last Picture Show," "The Cheap Detective".

She scored an Oscar nomination for her supporting role in 1980's "Private Benjamin," and won both an Emmy and Golden Globe for the role in the subsequent TV series adaptation in the early 1980s. She also had a memorable turn as Tess Skeffington, the blonde sidekick to Peter Falk's San Francisco gumshoe Sam Diamond, in the all-star Agatha Christie spoof "Murder by Death".

It was about that time she was hit by a car and suffered massive injuries. It took her years to recover,
See full article at Dark Horizons »

Happy 80th Birthday, Gene Wilder! What’s His Greatest Moment?

Gene Wilder is one of the few actors everyone can agree is hilarious and irreplaceable. What’s his best moment?


Gene Wilder is not just an extraordinary comic actor (and a fun dramatic one too, if you ever saw A&E’s whodunit Murder in a Small Town); he’s a singular presence who is an indelible part of our childhoods thanks to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and a huge part of our appreciation of great comedy, thanks to The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein. His performances are both dry and heartfelt, and you can’t say that much about anyone else.

Today’s his 80th birthday, and I dare you to handle it. What’s your favorite Gene Wilder moment?


I could go into The Woman in Red/ The Cheap Detective territory to impress you (and find a way to insert another passionate monologue
See full article at The Backlot »

Blu-ray, DVD Release: A New Leaf

Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: Sept. 4, 2012

Price: DVD $24.95, Blu-ray $29.95

Studio: Olive Films

Walter Matthau prepares for the ride of his life in A New Leaf.

The 1971 comedy favorite A New Leaf marks the directorial debut of Elaine May (The Heartbreak Kid, Ishtar), who also penned the film’s screenplay.

Henry Graham (Walter Matthau, Who’s Got the Action?) is a man with a problem: he has run through his entire inheritance and is completely unequipped to provide for himself. His childhood guardian, Uncle Harry (James Coco, The Cheap Detective), refuses to give him a dime, so Henry devises a plan with the help of his imaginative butler (George Rose, Hawaii) to make his money the old-fashioned way – he can marry it. But he cannot see himself as a happily married man, so he comes up with an even more devious solution… with a temporary loan from his uncle, Henry has six
See full article at Disc Dish »

Peter Falk, 1927 - 2011

Updated through 6/26.

"Peter Falk, the stage and movie actor who became identified as the squinty, rumpled detective in Columbo, which spanned 30 years in primetime television and established one of the most iconic characters in police work, has died. He was 83." Anthony McCartney for the AP: "Falk made his film debut in 1958 with Wind Across the Everglades and established himself as a talented character actor with his performance as the vicious killer Abe Reles in Murder, Inc. Among his other movies: It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Robin and the Seven Hoods, The Great Race, Luv, Castle Keep, The Cheap Detective, The Brinks Job, The In-Laws, The Princess Bride. Falk also appeared in a number of art house favorites, including the semi-improvisational films Husbands and A Woman Under the Influence, directed by his friend John Cassavetes, and Wim Wenders's Wings of Desire, in which he played himself."

Last November,
See full article at MUBI »

Remembering Peter Falk

  • CinemaRetro
By Lee Pfeiffer

Peter Falk, the iconic actor of stage, screen and television, died yesterday at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 83 years old and had been battling Alzheimer's Disease. Falk created a legendary persona that served him well: that of the inarticulate street guy. He also had a physical abnormality that he made work to his advantage: since the age of 3, he had a glass eye. Despite the fact that he rode to success playing rough, street-wise characters, he was actually highly educated. He earned a master's degree and did not enter acting until the relatively late age of 29. He found almost immediate success and appeared in acclaimed New York stage productions of classic plays by Arthur Miller and Paddy Chayefsky, among others. Falk also found a welcome reception in Hollywood, often playing gangsters. He scored a Best Supporting Actor nomination of Murder, Inc in 1960 and would be
See full article at CinemaRetro »

Peter Falk Dead at 83: Columbo, A Woman Under The Influence

Peter Falk Peter Falk, the two-time Oscar nominee best known for playing television police detective Columbo, died Thursday, June 23, at his Beverly Hills home. Falk, who had been suffering from dementia (apparently a consequence of Alzheimer's disease), was 83. Falk's two Oscar nods, both in the Best Supporting Actor category, came back-to-back in the early '60s: as a cold-blooded hitman in Burt Balaban and Stuart Rosenberg's 1960 crime drama Murder, Inc., and as a typical Damon Runyon underworld character — named Joy Boy — in Frank Capra's dismal 1961 remake of his own Lady for a Day, Pocketful of Miracles. Among Falk's other notable film roles are those in two John Cassavetes movies: the very, very, very long 1970 drama Husbands, co-starring Ben Gazzara and Cassavetes himself, and the director' biggest box-office hit, the 1974 release A Woman Under the Influence, co-starring Gena Rowlands as the mentally unbalanced title character. In the film, which many consider Cassavetes' best work,
See full article at Alt Film Guide »

Peter Falk dies aged 83

Actor, who had been suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's disease, died at his Beverly Hills home

Peter Falk, the American actor famous for his role in the TV detective series Columbo, has died at the age of 83.

Falk died peacefully at his Beverly Hills home on Thursday evening, said a family friend, Larry Larson. Falk had reportedly been suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Perhaps one of Us television's most popular detectives, Falk won four Emmys for his starring role in Columbo, which ran from 1971 until 2003, and one for his role in the TV drama The Price of Tomatoes. He received Oscar nominations for Murder, Inc, his breakthrough film role, in 1960, and the comedy-drama Pocketful of Miracles, a year later. Falk also starred in the films The Princess Bride, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World; Robin and the Seven Hoods, The Great Race, and The Cheap Detective.

Born in
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »
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