Should Miley Buckle Up?

Posted on February 13, 2008 at 5:56 pm

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A blog post by Consumer Reports points out that in her record-breaking 3D concert film, Miley Cyrus and her dad ride in the back seat of a Range Rover on the way to rehearsal — without their seatbelts. Cyrus senior has issued an apology.

“We got caught up in the moment of filming, and we made a mistake and forgot to buckle our seatbelts,” he explains. “Seatbelt safety is extremely important.”

The blog post inspired a stream of angry comments. Miley Cyrus has some passionate fans –who knew they read Consumer Reports, though? But if the young woman Forbes called “a cultural and merchandising icon” uses her onscreen persona to sell everything from movie and concert tickets to keychains, t-shirts, throw pillows, and beach towels, she has to recognize that she influences more than the decision about which backpack to buy. She has been a wonderful role model for young girls, a welcome contrast to Lindsay Lohan, and Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears. It seems a small point to criticize her for failing to buckle up when we are so glad to have a pop star who seems like a well-behaved, respectful girl. But because she is so intensely observed and imitated, everything she does is a lesson. In this case, the lesson is that when you make a mistake, you apologize. Good for Consumer Reports for pointing out that Miley should have buckled her seatbelt, and good for Miley’s dad for acknowledging their mistake.

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Commentary

Interview: “Jane and the Dragon’s” Martin Baynton and Richard Taylor

Posted on February 13, 2008 at 8:00 am

jane%20and%20dragon.jpgOne of the highlights of NBC’s “Qubo” children’s educational program schedule is Jane and the Dragon, created by author Martin Baynton and Oscar-winning animator Richard Taylor, visual effects designer for the The Lord of the Rings series. Jane and the Dragon is a CGI series about a medieval girl and her friend, a vegetarian dragon. Jane does not want to be a lady-in-waiting. She wants to be a knight. I spoke to Martin and Richard about the show as they visited Los Angeles to attend the Annie Awards; the show has been nominated for the most prestigious honor in animation.

How did the show come about?

MB: I wrote the books over twenty years ago when my children were both very young, and they’ve been in print ever since. It’s always a book I’ve been extremely fond of and you get so attached to them you want to see them grow and flourish. In the literary field you hear horror stories about having books made into film. But meeting Richard it was clear he wanted to honor what the book was trying to do.

RT: Martin sat with us for an hour and a half at a picnic table in our back courtyard, and that’s all it took. We shook hands and had a deal.

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Interview

Interview: Eran Kolirin, writer-director of “The Band’s Visit”

Posted on February 10, 2008 at 8:00 am

“The Band’s Visit” is a bittersweet story about isolation and connections. Israeli writer-director Eran Kolirin talked to me about the movie, his first feature film, which follows an Egyptian police band on their way to perform at an Arab cultural center in Israel who mistakenly end up in the wrong city, an isolated outpost where they have to spend the night.

Was there a true story that inspired this movie?

No, not at all. It began with the image of the main character, dressed in a very strict police uniform singing an Arabic song.

A very strict police uniform? That’s a good way to describe it. The image of those pale blue dress uniforms is so striking.

It was an aestheic decision. It is a movie of contraction most of the time. In the frame, in the picture, there is all this monochromatic scenery, and then there is a man who is totally the opposite.

Are the Egyptians in the movies played by Egyptian actors?

All of the actors are Israelis, but two are Israeli-Palestinian and one is descended from Iraqi Jews. Identity in Israel is very complex. My own family is seven generations in Jerusalem. Sasson Gabai, who plays the Lieutenant-colonel, the leader of the band is Jewish by religion, Israeli from his ID card, but comes from an Arab country so he has an Arab background. Saleh Bakri, who plays one of the other Egyptians is Israeli by nationality, Palestinian from his cultural identify, Arab also, and Muslim from religion.

Were there problems of communication or cultural or political clashes between the actors?

You get along fine when you work together.

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Interview

Andy’s Airplanes: Interview with John Pierre Francia

Posted on February 8, 2008 at 8:30 am

I spoke to producer/creater John Pierre Francia, who was inspired by his experience as a flight instructor to create a new DVD series about a boy who flies a different airplane to a new place every week, learning about geography, history, science and culture, and making new friends.

Andy’s Airplanes is a show and a company centered around a 8-year-old little boy. He is a sweet, loving character with a thirst for adventure and learning and he is kind. Everyone knows and loves Andy because he is interested in the places and people he finds. Most shows have the rude kid. We don’t have the kid with the bad attitude. Though we were told to have more conflict, we believe there’s enough natural conflict, in the logistical challenges he faces. It is enough to see him learn and have adventures. His best friend is Yaygrr, a black-footed ferret. He loves Andy and he’s the pratfall character, the one gets into trouble when he eats too much at the luau. Every time he’s on screen the kids light up.

In Episode 1, Andy flies to the USS Ronald Reagan and learns about aircraft carriers. He participates in a simulated dogfight. He loses pretty quickly to Angel, the admiral’s daughter, and they quickly become friends. Andy is not bothered by being beaten or by a strong girl. In another episode, Andy learns about Polynesian culture and volcanoes and meets Akele and teaches her how to fly. The series has very strong girl characters and there will be recurring roles. Andy might see Angel when he goes to other cities.

Each episiode ends with real kids from the place Andy goes. Our core audience is 2-8 but older kids love the real kids part.

We have a big reading and learning agenda for the series. Kids will learn true aviation principles. We will teach kids about navigation, and that will give them some strong math and science skills. Microsoft is creating a flight simulator plug-in for kids and it will be narrated, so they can fly Andy’s plane.

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Interview Movie Mom’s Top Picks for Families

Quotes of the Week: We Don’t Love Paris

Posted on February 8, 2008 at 7:10 am

I love to read other critics’ reviews. When movies are good, they’re very, very good, but when movies are bad, they’re better. Paris Hilton’s new movie, The Hottie & the Nottie at least inspired two of my favorite critics and gave them a chance to demonstrate their own insight and humor. Now that’s hot.
Jeanette Catsoulis in the New York Times:

One would think that after increasingly embarrassing forays into reality television, the Internet and the penitentiary, Paris Hilton might have taken a moment to reflect on her choices. Or perhaps not: with “The Hottie & the Nottie” Ms. Hilton proves yet again that introspection — not to mention shame — is as alien to her as a life without paparazzi. Custom designed for its smirking star (who is also an executive producer), this tasteless train wreck asks only that she preen and prance on cue.

Desson Thomson in the Washington Post:

“Hottie” could have been a witty, playful affair in which love is played up against beauty and Hilton’s larger-than-life presence is the inside joke at the heart of everything. But Nate’s quest to end up with Cristabel is as hopeless as Wile E. Coyote’s, forever chasing that elusive Road Runner. That he gets close enough even to befriend her is laughable. Like Nate, we are mere Notties. And we are supposed to feel oh-so privileged for getting to watch Paris through the glass.

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Quote of the Week
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