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Jerry Bruckheimer broke Hollywood.

Jerry Bruckheimer broke Hollywood. (photo)

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Okay, that’s an overstatement. Bruckheimer’s films make money and lots of it. They’ve provided hours of guilty entertainment, not to mention the sight of Steve Buscemi as a dangerous convict in “Con Air.” An artistic philanthropist he’s not, but he generally gives the people what they want.

Nonetheless, it’s funny to read about his current budgetary woes regarding the fourth “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie — which will cost more than $200 million, sure, but still at least a third less than the budget of the last film. There are more cost-cutting measures, like shooting more on land than water to cut down on aquatic expenses and, most painfully, the loss of an “ice fair” of jugglers and carnies on the River Thames. There will be less effects as well, but as Bruckheimer says, “the audience will never miss it.” I believe him: there’ll be more than enough random other stuff thrown at the screen.

Everyone’s budgets are suffering, in part because of recessionary difficulties, but also because budgets have hypertrophied in the last decade, in ways that don’t always make sense. (Example: even if Judd Apatow made it and it stars both Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen, why in the world did “Funny People” cost $75 million? Why is the proposed budget for “Anchorman 2” $70 million? What’s wrong with people?) And one of the people we can blame for this is… Bruckheimer.

05052010_armageddon.jpgWhen “Armageddon” came out, it wasn’t the most expensive movie made to date, but it was the most expensively budgeted in advance — “Titanic” ran way over budget, but “Armageddon” was planned from the start to be, by the standards of the time, insanely expensive. Its $140 million budget — run through a quick inflation calculator — would be about $183 million now.

Even 1991’s $102 million budget for “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” — one of the other most expensive planned films of the ’90s — comes out to be about $158 million now, so “Armageddon” beat even that. On a Wikipedia chart, it still comes in ranked pretty high.

And it worked, though Bruckheimer retreated to slightly smaller budgets for a while, and gambled and lost on the pricey “Pearl Harbor.” New Line’s “Lord of the Rings” would validate the hyper-expensive blockbuster later that year, and two years after that Bruckheimer was back in it with the first “Pirates of the Caribbean.” And, moreover, he continued to apply big budgets to movies that didn’t make any sense: “G-Force” — last summer’s movie about specially trained talking FBI animals — cost $82.5 million for a high concept that would’ve worked just as well as some low-budget CGI.

Bruckheimer wasn’t alone in driving budgets sky-high, but he’s as responsible as anyone for the idea that spiraling budgets were the norm of doing summer business rather than the carefully planned exception. The much-lamented death of the mid-budget drama can be attributed in part to the ever-widening gap he and so many others created. So fine, only four to six days to shoot a carriage chase instead of 12? Forget hiring Rob Marshall: hire an old Hong Kong workhorse and get it done. They know how to work fast and cheap.

[Photos: “Con Air,” Touchstone, 1997; “Armageddon,” Touchstone, 1998]


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



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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GIFs via Giphy

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.”


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. 


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.