Great moments in schadenfreude: Charles Shyer.

Great moments in schadenfreude: Charles Shyer.  (photo)

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It’s been an exciting week for news of projects in development. P.T. Anderson returns! David Gordon Green shot another movie! Uh, “The Birds” remake is going to be a hard R!

And then there was word that Charles Shyer is all set to shoot “BFF,” a “female buddy comedy” about “childhood best friends who reunite years later in Manhattan and discover that one has become successful while the other remains stalled in their small hometown.”

Charles Shyer is the ex-husband of Nancy Meyers. As a professional team from 1980 onwards, they quickly crawled up the Hollywood ladder. First they just wrote some hits (“Private Benjamin,” “Baby Boom”) and then they got to direct them as well, trading off who was at the helm while churning out sitcoms for the screen. They gave the world a defanged Steve Martin as the “Father of the Bride” and a pre-trouble Lindsay Lohan in “The Parent Trap.” Sure, there were hiccups — like the 1994’s Julia Roberts flop “I Love Trouble” — but nothing to derail their career.

Then they divorced in 1999 and went their separate ways and everything went to hell for Shyer professionally. Meyers went on to a successful career in the estrogen-charged specialty: the enormously successful, rancid “What Women Want” gave her carte blanche to make the surprise hit “Something’s Gotta Give,” in which a woman Meyers’ age who is smart and attractive and accomplished finds a man who can appreciate her true qualities.

12032009_itscomplicated.jpgMeyers went on to make the equally non-autobiographical “The Holiday,” in which successful career woman Cameron Diaz stresses about how devoted she is to her job editing movie trailers but finds love anyway because she’s just that awesome. There is, similarly, nothing autobiographical about the upcoming “It’s Complicated,” which, per Wikipedia, is about a “self-reliant divorcee” who gets involved in love triangle between her ex-husband and another man, both of whom find her irresistible.

Good for Meyers. Meanwhile, Shyer did the following: directed the bad period drama “The Affair of the Necklace” (lifetime gross: $471, 210), the ego-stoking “Alfie” update (worldwide gross: $35 million, proving male post-divorce image-fluffing isn’t nearly as appealing as Meyers’ version), and a failed sitcom pilot (“Him and Us”), which took his usual style to its logical destination.

I’m not crazy about anything either Meyers or Shyer have done, separately or together, but Meyers has her advocates and all the fans. Insofar as there was any talent between the duo, it seems it was all on her side, at least for knowing what audiences/”women” want.

So she’s gone on to be her own 50something romantic heroine while Shyer’s now reduced to no-name vehicles about young women in Manhattan — in other words, abandoning his smoking-jacket aspirations (“Alfie” indeed) and now trying to do what his wife does so successfully. Down so far, so fast, etc.

[Photos: “Father of the Bride,” Touchstone Pictures, 1991; “It’s Complicated,” Universal Pictures, 2009]


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…


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.


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 ’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?”


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).



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.


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


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.