Hands-On: Experiencing Michael Jackson on the Wii

Hands-On: Experiencing Michael Jackson on the Wii (photo)

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While they’re perpetuating popular hardcore franchises like “Splinter Cell” and “Assassins’ Creed” on the Xbox 360 and PS3, Ubisoft’s quietly established a successful micro-niche of choreography dance games on the Wii. “Just Dance”–the first of these games–emerged as a best-seller when it came out last year and followed by “Dance on Broadway” this year, which gave players the chance to do routines from classic musicals “Guys & Dolls” and “Hair.” Now those titles are being joined by “Michael Jackson The Experience.”

The game lets players dance (and sing, in the PS3 and Xbox versions) to the late superstar’s choreography. I had a chance to check out the Wii version of “MJTE,” the baby brother of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 offerings. Those games have been delayed, leaving the Wii game the only one still scheduled to arrive this holiday. (There’s also a handheld version on the Nintendo DS, which plays very similarly to the 2006 hit “Elite Beat Agents”.) The Microsoft and Sony versions of the MJ game use those companies’ Kinect and Playstation Move motion gaming hardware, while “MJ” Wii uses the standard remote. In each case, your movements are tracked to see where they match up with the on-screen movements, Where “Just Dance” and “Dance on Broadway ” have gentler interpretations of playable footwork, the Micheal Jackson game takes none of the complexity away from the Gloved One’s moves.

The King of Pop gets a weird, slightly fantastic visual interpretation in the video game memorial. There’s no other way to put than to say that he doesn’t quite have a face. In some songs, he’s the Afro-sporting, bell bottoms-rocking dancing machine of the J5 years, only slightly grown up. In others, his skin color’s the light-skinned beige of his later years. In none of them does he have a nose (any of his noses) or a mouth. Ubisoft says that this decision is meant to let players more easily think of themselves as Michael Jackson, but it has the odd effect of only reminding you just how bizarre he wound up looking before he died.


Still, one cool corollary to making Jackson’s discography playable is that Ubisoft’s made videos for songs that never had them. The Afro MJ that I mention above was dancing through “Workin’ Day and Night,” from the 1978 album “Off The Wall” Never mind that MJ had aged out of the J5 attire by the time the album was released, the creative license here offered by the game in these instances is still fascinating. In such cases, the steps in the game’s new music videos have been created with the help of choreographers who worked with Jackson.

As far as the music itself, six tracks have been announced already. Nothing further on the track listing or whether there will be downloadable content for the game has been made public. Here’s what out there so far:

• Bad
• Beat It
• Billie Jean
• Black or White
• Earth Song
• Smooth Criminal
• The Girl Is Mine
• They Don’t Care About Us
• Who Is It
• Workin’ Day And Night

If you’re in New York City this weekend, you’ll be able to try out these songs this weekend at New York Comic-Con. Look for Ubisoft at booth #1617 at the Jacob Javits Center. The Wii version of “Michael Jackson The Experience” will be in stores on November 23rd and the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions should be out early next year.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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