DID YOU READ

Baby, the stars shine bright.

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1929-2006.
You know what fame is? Fame is widespread rioting because fans didn’t get to pay their respects at your funeral. Via Reuters:

Mobs torched buses, attacked company offices and stoned police on the streets of India’s technology hub on Thursday ahead of the funeral of film icon Rajkumar, whose death has triggered widespread mourning.

Officers had earlier retaliated with tear gas and baton-charges as thousands converged on a stadium in Bangalore, home to major Indian and international technology firms, where the actor’s body had been put on view in a transparent coffin.

Kannada megastar Dr. Rajkumar, a veteran of over 200 films, died of cardiac arrest yesterday. BBC has pictures of the masses mourning, while Rediff has a special section with tributes to the actor from fans, family and friends.

It goes without saying that we can come up with exactly zero stars here whose deaths would spark violent lamentation. Few stars could be described as "beloved" these days — if our appetite for the gossip glossies is more ravenous than ever, it’s also at least half schadenfreude: "God, look how awful she looks in this photo!" Stephen Hunter writes in the Washington Post:

Louis B. Mayer used to brag that MGM, the studio he led through its golden age, boasted all the stars in Heaven. In those days, that was something: Stars counted. Garbo, Gable, Garland, just to cover the G’s.
   
Today, it’s said, the only thing a star is good for is to get you a table in a crowded restaurant.

And it’s true, stars can’t really open films the way they used to; people respond more to Internet buzz, TV ads, movie crit — er, no, Roger Ebert.

Hunter goes on to examine films that make good use of stars ("Inside Man") and others that don’t ("Basic Instinct 2"), and dabbles at explaining the indescribable — what makes certain people "stars" as opposed to "actors" (possibly that they are always more themselves on screen than the characters they’re supposed to play, and that audiences are okay with that?). Over at the Independent, David Thomson also dwells on Ms. Stone, a star if there ever was one, if one who, as Thomson argues, found a great role only once:

I knew people who knew Sharon Stone and they reported that she was fun, grown up, unsentimental, fully aware of the journey she had made to stardom and of how quickly it could end in ashes after the age of 40. She worked for charity. She had a smashing dress sense. She had more humour than half-a-dozen actresses. She even gave one great performance, enough to show that she was more than just a beautiful woman. That role was Ginger in Martin Scorsese‘s "Casino" – a driven slut, a junkie and an addict for jewellery, money and pushing "fuck" and its variants into every sentence. There aren’t many great performances by actresses in Scorsese’s work, and Ginger looks better over the years. Neither that film nor her character were funny, but the hint was clear – that Sharon Stone was equipped to play smart comedy and eager to do it.

And at the London Times, Ian Johns discusses another important star-making quality: divadom:

During a New York press junket for "Demolition Man," Sylvester Stallone refused to mumble sweet nothings into the tape recorders of journalists until the yellow walls of his room were repainted the more eyeball-friendly hue of peach. Perhaps it’s not so different from the days when Joan Crawford would insist that the temperature on the set was a constant 68 degrees and Marilyn Monroe would request that any blonde co-stars dyed their hair a different colour.

Hee, "Demolition Man."

+ Mobs rampage in Indian tech city after actor dies (Reuters)
+ In pictures: Rajkumar’s death mourned (BBC)
+ Farewell, Dr. Rajkumar (Rediff)
+ To Shine, Stars Must Be Aligned Properly (Washington Post)
+ Film Studies: If only Sharon could get back to basics (Independent)
+ I want it all and I want it now! (London Times)

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.