Coming Soon from Ryan Murphy “Prom” — With a Dream Cast Including Streep, Rannells, Key, Awkwafina

Posted on June 27, 2019 at 8:00 am

I am so excited about this! Ryan Murphy (“Glee,” “Versace,” “Nip/Tuck”) is bringing the Tony-nominated musical “Prom” to television with an all-star cast including Oscar-winner Meryl Streep, Tony-winner Andrew Rannells (“Girls,” “Book of Mormom”), “Key and Peele” star Keegan-Michael Key, “Oceans 8” and “Crazy Rich Asians” star Awkwafina, and pop princess Ariana Grande.

The story is about Broadway stars running away from terrible reviews of their new show who decide to get some good publicity by providing support to a girl who has been forbidden to bring another girl as her date to the school prom. Here’s a look at the show on Broadway.

Deadline writes:

Streep will play Dee Dee Allen, a two-time Tony winner who teams with Corden’s Barry Glickman in a flop musical about Eleanor Roosevelt. After career-ending reviews, they decide — along with Broadway babies Kidman as Angie Dickinson and Rannells (Book of Mormon) as Trent Oliver — to champion a cause to rehabilitate their careers. They find one in Emma, a high school senior in Indiana who isn’t allowed to go to her prom because she’s gay. A nationwide search led by casting director Alexa Fogel is on to fill the role of Emma.

Grande will star as Alyssa, a popular daughter of the head of the PTA. Awkwafina will play the group’s publicist Ms. Sheldon, and Key will play Streep’s love interest and Emma’s ally, Principal Hawkins.

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Musical Television

Movie Mom on “Some Like it Hot” — Crooked Table Podcast

Posted on June 26, 2019 at 8:00 am

Copyright United Artists 1959

I had a lot of fun on the Crooked Table podcast talking about one of the greatest movies of all time, Some Like it Hot.

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Forky’s Existential Dilemma — Toy Story 4

Posted on June 25, 2019 at 8:00 am

Copyright Pixar 2019

SPOILER ALERT: This post discusses plot elements of “Toy Story” movies.
In “Toy Story,” Buzz Lightyear does not know he is a toy; he thinks he is the “real” Buzz Lightyear. In “Toy Story 4,” Forky, the special friend made by Bonnie in kindergarten out of pipe cleaners, googly eyes, and a spork, still thinks of himself as a single-use plastic utensil, and spends much of the first part of the movie trying to throw himself away. Woody has to teach him that now that he is loved by a child he has a higher purpose: to love and be loved by her, to be a comfort and to inspire her creativity.

In Slate, Matthew Dessem writes about what Forky tells us about the underlying conception of the world of “Toy Story.”

He’s a cute little guy, and Tony Hale’s performance is charming, but Forky’s existence in the Pixar universe throws its entire sentient-toys premise into disarray. Toy Story’s toys have always been mass-produced products, real, redesigned, or imagined; Forky, on the other hand, is hand-crafted. Casual fans might assume that Pixar has merely expanded the Toy Story franchise’s theory of ensoulment: A toy’s life begins at the moment it becomes a toy, and Forky shows that process can happen in a factory mold or a kindergarten class.

I love this deep dive into the complex rules (or maybe just inconsistent as suits the storyline) of the “Toy Story” universe.

I also enjoyed Michael Cavan’s piece about Forky in the Washington Post.

s it happens Forky’s creators did not initially intend for him to have such philosophical depth.

“I wish we could say we sat down and wrote a beautiful character with an existential crisis, but he started off as a joke,” director Josh Cooley says.

“We were talking about what our kids would play with, like a rock,” Cooley says in an interview, “but what if that rock could come to life?”

The filmmakers ultimately decided it would be interesting to introduce a character who has the mind of someone who has never seen a “Toy Story” movie. “He doesn’t understand the rules of this world,” the director says of Forky, “and that became so much fun to play with.”

Cavna spoke to “Veep’s” Tony Hale, who was perfectly cast for the anxious Forky.

Hale mulled the character’s traits. “Forky’s nervous? Check,” the actor says. “He asks a lot of questions, to a fault. Bingo, that’s me.”

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Movie-Altering Company VidAngel Ordered to Pay Studios $62 Million

Posted on June 24, 2019 at 7:59 am

Parents often ask for “airplane versions” of movies, edited to be more family friendly. Studios, who authorize edited versions for international release and broadcast television, don’t like it when the editing is done by others. After some lawsuits, Congress passed a law to make it clear that independent companies have the right to make these edits. It authorizes private companies to edit out material.

But technology has a way of moving faster than the law, and it was one thing when parents would buy a video or DVD and then authorize an independent firm to alter it, but another when it comes to streaming. A judge found that their streaming service was a violation of the studio’s copyrights. A jury has now awarded $62 million to Disney, Fox, and Warner Brothers, and the studios have filed a motion with the court to prevent VidAngel from “squandering assets” to make sure they will pay it.

This is a complicated issue. On the one hand, the creators of content are entitled to copyright protection. On the other hand, once you buy a movie, they do not have the right to make you watch every minute of it. So why not give you the option of relying on an outside firm to skip the parts you don’t want to see or hear? I agree that the streaming option they offered, which was more like a rental than a purchase, was not consistent with the copyright exemption in the law. I am particularly concerned with the way this case has been discussed in the right-wing media, as, for example, this headline from the ultra-right Federalist, co-founded by Meghan McCain’s husband Ben Domenech, and famous for refusing to be transparent about its funding: “Hollywood Punishes VidAngel For Cleaning Up Their Smut.” It’s actually the law which is punishing VidAngel for infringing on copyright-protected creative work. I’m pretty sure The Federalist would not want VidAngel to sell edited copies of their newsletter or radio show. And it would not want the government to tell a business like a movie studio that a PG-13 movie is too “smutty.”

This judgment, if upheld, may put VidAngel out of business. Or, Congress can amend the law again to clarify what they can legally do. It was an imperfect solution at best, and whatever happens, we can be sure that technology will overtake any attempt at a solution and parents will always need to be vigilant.

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