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DID YOU READ

Guillermo del Toro can’t wrest the Rings from Gollum-esque creditors.

Guillermo del Toro can’t wrest the Rings from Gollum-esque creditors. (photo)

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History teaches us to be very skeptical of filmmakers who change their plans because of “scheduling conflicts.” Earlier this month, for instance, Sharlto Copley left the upcoming film “I Am Number Four” because of “scheduling conflicts” caused by “The A-Team” press tour.

But according to Film Drunk, that was merely a cover for the real reason: a classic case of the old “creative differences.” Turns out “Number Four” director D.J. Caruso refused to allow Copley to wear the prosthetic nose and fake ears he desired to play his alien character. Hence Copley is out and Timothy Olyphant is in.

Still, some scheduling conflicts aren’t just publicist code for “the director wouldn’t him let him wear cool alien makeup.” After working on the project for two years, writer/director Guillermo del Toro announced in a statement over the weekend on the Tolkien fansite TheOneRing.Net that he was leaving the planned two-film adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” because of delays caused by the ongoing (and on-dragging) sale of MGM, which shares the rights to the precious “Hobbit” property with New Line/Warner Bros.

MGM does own a key, potentially lucrative chunk of “The Hobbit.” But they also carry an enormous $3.7 billion dollar debt, a rather big monkey wrench in potential buyers’ acquisition plans. Over a period of months, various offers have been extended and rejected by MGM’s current owners, Sony Pictures and a variety of private investors, who, according to the New York Times, purchased the company back in 2004 for some $5 billion back when DVD sales made their library skyrocket in value.

After the DVD bubble burst, the offers submitted in 2010 for the company by Time Warner, Lionsgate, and others have been significantly smaller, and last week the Los Angeles Times reported that MGM’s debt holders were now poised to take over and restructure the company.

05312010_hobbit2.jpgSo where does that leave “The Hobbit”? Somewhere akin to development hell (or at least the sideways universe on the last season of “Lost”). Until MGM gets itself in order, it can’t give “The Hobbit” a greenlight; until “The Hobbit” gets a greenlight, del Toro is stuck commuting to and living part-time to New Zealand, a difficult task for an in-demand filmmaker who, according to IMDb, has ten more projects already in development.

“In light of ongoing delays in the setting of a start date for filming ‘The Hobbit,” del Toro told TheOneRing.Net, I am faced with the hardest decision of my life… but the mounting pressures of conflicting schedules have overwhelmed the time slot originally allocated for the project.” In comments that mentioned and thanked producers and co-writers Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens, and New Line/Warner Bros., del Toro bowed out of the project. He did not mention MGM by name once.

This is the second time in as many months that MGM’s future has put the kibosh on a popular franchise — in April, EON Productions, creators of the James Bond film franchise, announced they were putting their still-untitled 23rd Bond film on indefinite hold until the MGM’s finances were sorted out. At this point, the film still has no official release date.

By the way, Sharlto Copley continues to insist he really did have scheduling conflicts with “I Am Number Four,” and that he didn’t leave the project because of a disagreement with Caruso. I guess people and their schedules don’t see eye to eye (or prosthetic nose to prosthetic nose) more often than I thought.

[Photos: “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” New Line, 2001]

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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.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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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:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.