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Kristen Stewart gets a warm “Welcome to the Rileys” in L.A.

Kristen Stewart gets a warm “Welcome to the Rileys” in L.A. (photo)

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If the “Twilight: Eclipse” premiere was the tough ticket of this year’s L.A. Film Festival, drawing roughly 5,000 fans from all corners of the U.S. in order to get a glimpse of Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner at the Nokia Theater, then “Welcome to the Rileys” proved to be damn near impossible.

Kristen Stewart fans gambled on the ability to sit less than ten feet away from the star inside one of the smaller Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live, but having to contend with the fact that seven of the 15 rows in the theater were already roped off for VIPs of one kind or another.

LAFF director Rebecca Yeldham came out to introduce the film and moderate the post-screening Q & A (a job usually handled by programmers or volunteers), and before the film started, Melissa Leo spoke on behalf of herself and co-stars Stewart and James Gandolfini, who stood off to the side, a reminder that “Welcome to the Rileys” not only boasts a talented ensemble, but one of the most spotlight-weary as well.

For those who have been following the film’s distribution drama since Sundance, it was unveiled with a brand spankin’ new Samuel Goldwyn/Destination Films logo in front, replacing Apparition as the distributor, who will bring the film to theaters in October. But the real drama was on screen, with the idiosyncratic tale of a wholesale plumbing supply salesman (Gandolfini) who attempts to drown his sorrows in the Big Easy during a trade show and encounters a stripper/prostitute (Stewart) who reminds him of his late daughter who died in an accident. Leo plays Gandolfini’s distant wife.

Gandolfini, Stewart, Leo, writer Ken Hixon and producer Michael Costigan took to the front of the theater to discuss the origins of the film. Naturally, Stewart received the bulk of the questions, being asked in particular about playing a role so different than her most famous creation in “Twilight.”

06262010_WelcometotheRileysLAFilmFest.jpgStewart admitted that she wasn’t necessarily afraid of playing a stripper, but “I was terrified because it was written really well” and expressed pride in learning some of the film’s stripper moves, though mostly they happened off-camera. “The silhouette in the beginning?” Stewart rhetorically asked almost giddily, “Thanks. That’s me.”

Saying she would “jump off a bridge” for director Jake Scott, Stewart found talking to the working women of the Dixie Divas strip club in New Orleans where the film was shot was key to finding her character, noticing the many lost women like the one she played with “dead eyes” and “open wounds.” When prodded by an audience member, Gandolfini confirmed that the toughest scene in the film for him to shoot was a scene where Stewart is particularly vulnerable in the lot of a motel parking lot. Gandolfini said, turning to Stewart, “I remember that was a long evening because you had to fall apart so many times.”

Stewart lightened the mood when asked about whether she had any issue with some of the tough language her character uses, confessing that during a scene where the character gets a urinary tract infection, she “felt really weird saying ‘pussy'” in front of Leo.

In order to achieve the perfect pitch for the scene, Leo improvised off-camera, saying “make pee pee,” a comment that somehow gave Stewart the inspiration to carry on, though she wondered whether Leo felt strange about it. “I’m a mother, Kristen,” Leo fired back, getting the night’s biggest laugh. “It’s not weird to say ‘make pee pee’ for me.”

On a more serious note, a fan pointed out that Stewart had said in previous interviews that her turn in “Welcome to the Rileys” was the role she liked playing the most, a statement she clarified by saying, “Maybe it just affected me the most…Sometimes you can leave shit at work or you can’t.” Of “Rileys,” she said, “this is undeniably in you.”

[Photos: “Welcome to the Rileys,” Samuel Goldwyn Films, 2010; James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart and Melissa Leo at the L.A. Film Festival, Stephen Saito/IFC.com]

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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.