DID YOU READ

Set Visit Ringers

Set Visit Ringers (photo)

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Sometimes you just have to sit back and tip your hat to brilliant public relations. Today a whole rash of “Green Lantern” set visits were released on various movie news sites. These articles — I’ve got ten of them open in my web browser at the moment — all strike the exact same note: we are super excited for the “Green Lantern” movie but we can’t tell you why.

I understand the appeal of set visits. As a kid, they were always my favorite articles in movie magazines. I loved Premiere‘s long-running column of Hollywood production photos by David Strick. And the collection of green power rings on my desk suggests nobody is looking forward to a “Green Lantern” movie more than I am. I’m also under no illusions that set visits are anything other than publicity tools, even under optimal circumstances. But good set visit reports should pull back the curtain that shields us from how movies are made. We want to be tantalized, sure, but we also want to learn something, too.

That ethos is totally absent in these “Green Lantern” set visit pieces. No chance of getting behind the curtain here; the experience is more akin to listening to someone describe how cool a club is while you’re stuck waiting behind the velvet rope. At this point, Warner Bros. has barred the journalists who visited the “Green Lantern” set from revealing almost any of the specifics of what they saw. However they were either permitted or encouraged to publish these “previews” (a word that pops up again and again in the articles) voicing their enthusiasm for the project in the most general and non-specific ways possible. The results all look and sound almost identical: “We can’t reveal too much now,” and “we’re not allowed to tell you everything we saw” and “the studio’s not allowing us to go into too much detail about what we saw,” but nevertheless “I really couldn’t be more excited” and “all of my faith in the film has been restored,” and “this movie is going to look incredible on the big screen.”

In other words, all these writers are permitted to share is unsubstantiated enthusiasm. This has to be one of the most ingenious PR moves in Hollywood history. If you allow these journalists to share details of the production, you also allow for the possibility that readers might form their own potentially negative opinions (“I don’t care what he says, that sounds lame.”). By controlling their reports this way, what you’re left with are ten identical pieces of hype. The only reasonable response for a reader, besides jealousy of the authors, is excitement. You can’t question because there’s nothing to question.

For a far more interesting variation on the standard set visit article, check out filmmaker and critic Michael Tully’s recent series on Hammer to Nail about his trip to the set of David Gordon Green’s “Your Highness.” Tully provides plenty of the requisite “dirt” — details of the production, interviews with the cast and creators — but he also writes honestly about he felt traveling to Ireland on someone else’s dime to interview people he knows personally. It’s a good read; no question of journalistic ethics escapes his site.

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Home Run

Hank Azaria Gets Thrown A Curve Ball

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Unless you’ve somehow missed every episode of the Simpsons since 1989, then surely you know that Hank Azaria is one of the most important character actors of our time. He’s so prolific and his voice is so dynamic that he’s responsible for more iconic personalities than most folks realize. Basically, he’s the great and powerful Oz — except that when you pull back the curtain the truth is actually more impressive. And now Hank is coming to IFC to bring yet another character to the TV pop culture hive mind in the new series Brockmire. Check out the trailer below.

Based on the following Funny or Die short and co-starring Amanda Peet, Brockmire follows the story of imploded major league sportscaster Jim Brockmire as he tries to resurrect his career by calling plays for a floundering minor league team in a podunk town.

The series is written by Joel Church-Cooper (Undateable) and produced by Funny or Die’s Mike Farah and Joe Farrell, meaning that there’s funny in front of the camera, funny behind the camera–funny all around. Sounds like a ball to us.

Brockmire premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Car Notes

Portlandia On People Who Can’t Park

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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If flagrant bad parking takes nerve, then retaliatory note writing takes neuroses. Watch Fred and Carrie take passive aggression to next level in Car Notes, the new Portlandia web series presented by Subaru. The first episode is yours right here and now, and you can see every installment of Car Notes anytime online, on the IFC app and on demand.

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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Nick Kroll and John Mulaney To Host Spirit Awards

The Spirit Awards Air February 25 LIVE on IFC.

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The 2017 Spirit Awards have finally found their frontmen: Nick Kroll and John Mulaney. And it’s no wonder. Just marvel in their splendid chemistry back when they appeared on Comedy Bang! Bang!:

The pair are prolific within the performing arts community: television (Kroll in The League and The Kroll Show, Mulaney as a writer of IFC’s own Documentary Now!), theater (including Broadway’s current Oh Hello Show), and stand-up comedy. In fact, it’s entirely possible that emceeing an awards show is one of the few remaining line items on their professional bucket lists.

It’s important to caveat this announcement, however. Unlike the bigger and more ubiquitously known awards shows, the Spirit Awards are not, well…boring. (We’re talking to you, Oscar.)

They’re funny. They’re honest. They have quality to match the red-carpet fanfare. And that’s alarmingly special. Last year’s show included some legitimately historic moments, like when transgender actress Mya Taylor won best supporting female, or Kate McKinnon’s hilarious and timely parody of Carol. See more highlights here to get the flavor of the Spirit Awards and read all about Film Independent to dig deeper.

The 2017 Spirit Awards air live February 25 at 5P ET exclusively on IFC.

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