6 items from 2016
Bill Maher grew up with news headlines ringing in his ears. His father was in radio news, and the events of the day made for natural conversation in his house. “I was born into a family of people who talked about the news,” he said. Other talk-show hosts “are not looking to talk about Brexit and its implications, but it’s second nature to me.”
Maher will have a lot to chat about over the next few weeks. He will keep doing his hour-long “Real Time” show on Friday nights on HBO in the weeks ahead, but as the Republican and Democratic conventions break out and occupy the national interest, Maher and his team will do the same, offering live half-hour shows that examine the Republican event on July 20 and 21 and the Democratic confab on July 27 and 28. That means news aficionados can opt for Maher and his often-lacerating analysis of the political landscape (this is a host »
- Brian Steinberg
After further investigation, FX has decided to renew Archer for three more seasons, but the animated spy comedy will be a little different than viewers are used to. The network announced today that the series has been picked up through Season 10. However, this time around seasons will only last for eight episodes. Previously, the show had been made up of 13 episodes each year except Season 1 and Season 7. Those were both ten episodes each. The renewal of Archer, which stars H. Jon Benjamin and Aisha Tyler, was far from certain considering the show had been lagging in the ratings. The most recent season saw average viewership drop to 781,000 viewers, a far cry from Season 4, when it averaged 1.38 million viewers. Regardless of this dive, FX appears to remain excited about the show. “The move to Los Angeles this past season as private detectives was just the latest twist in Archer’s legendary »
- David Eckstein
When more than 320,000 people petitioned the White House to urge President Obama to appear on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” just as he has guested on a slew of other late-night shows, the administration’s official response was publicly non-committal.
The president’s team did, however, praise Maher’s show “for spreading the science on climate change, asking tough questions about money in politics and trying to burst ‘the bubble’ where some of our politicians — and too many of our nation’s critical political debates — exist.”
That’s a good list of reasons why Maher’s show is a must-see among political junkies, along with its spirited conversation and the host’s audacious humor. Maher is equally biting to the Gop and to some on the left, including those in the entertainment business, on issues like Islam, the futility of certain gun-control measures and what he calls “tokenism” in liberal boycotts. »
- Ted Johnson
“Too Late” is structured around a striking gimmick: Its Los Angeles-set neo-noir tale is told in five non-chronologically ordered segments, each consisting of one continuous shot running a single Techniscope-format 35mm reel (approximately 22 minutes) in length. The sense that one is watching an elaborate formal stunt is underlined by the studiedly flamboyant dialogue and artificial situations in writer-director Dennis Hauck’s first feature, a supremely self-conscious genre exercise in which character and emotional depth don’t seem to be on the very meta menu. Rolling out theatrically in 35mm-only exhibition (which expands after single-screen March 18 and April 1 openings in Los Angeles and New York, respectively) the pic will get variable critical support. Such stylistic bravado will surely accrue some cultish admiration there and in home-format release.
- Dennis Harvey
One of the nation’s most intriguing TV journalists is meticulous in his preparation. Every video clip that appears on his show is fact-checked. An attorney is often called upon to vet the contents of his reports. When some of his digging uncovered things related to the National Security Agency, he had staffers on his show give the agency a call to get its side of the story.
The reporter’s name? John Oliver.
Oliver wouldn’t nominate himself for a Pulitzer Prize (though he has won a Peabody Award), and takes great pains to explain that he’s just trying to make people laugh. “We are on the same day, and the comparison ends there,” he said of “60 Minutes,” the venerable CBS newsmagazine to which many equate his HBO program, “Last Week Tonight.” Yet Oliver is only one of a cadre of talk-show comedians pushing the genre into new territory. »
- Brian Steinberg
57 years ago today, Disney’s Sleeping Beauty premiered at the Fox Wilshire Theater in Los Angeles. It was the last film based on a fairy tale that the House of Mouse made for over 30 years, until 1989’s The Little Mermaid, since Sleeping Beauty underperformed at the box office, leading to massive layoffs at Disney. The successful release of 101 Dalmatians in 1961 ended up saving Disney Animation. Though Sleeping Beauty wasn’t a hit at its debut, the film’s become a beloved Disney classic, with Aurora in her pink dress (you win, Flora) prominent among the lineup of Disney princesses, and with Maleficent now an iconic animated villain. Maleficent got her own movie starring Angelina Jolie in 2014. Other notable January 29 happenings in pop culture history: • 1845: Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven was first published in the New York Evening Mirror. • 1942: BBC Radio first aired “Desert Island Discs.” Still on the air today, »
- Emily Rome
6 items from 2016
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