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.

Soap tv show

As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television

The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.

Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.


2. IKEA Heights

ikea heights

IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.


3. Fresno

fresno

When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.


4. Soap

soap

Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.


5. Too Many Cooks

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Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.


6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

darkplace

Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.


7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV

attitudes

Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do  (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.


8. Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…


9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks

invitation

Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.


10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show

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The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.


11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)

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Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.

And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”


12. Acorn Antiques

acorn

First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.


13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show

pointplace

In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)


14. The Spoils of Babylon

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Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.

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15. All My Children Finale, SNL

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SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.

Weird Al  Yankovic   The Saga Begins

Force Joke

10 Hilarious Star Wars Parody Songs

"Weird Al" is coming to Comedy Bang! Bang! this spring.

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Weird Al Yankovic

Since the release of the original Star Wars in 1977, denizens of a galaxy far, far away have been comedy fodder for parodists. Whether it’s your coworker’s awkward Yoda impression or a feature-length Mel Brooks film, George Lucas’ space opera has garnered quite a few snarky jabs, many of them set to music.

With “Weird” Al (no stranger to Star Wars parody tunes) joining Comedy Bang! Bang! as the new bandleader and co-host, we thought it was time to pay tribute to the many hilarious Star Wars song parodies released in the last four decades with a video and a lyrical highlight from each.

1. “Yoda,” Weird Al Yankovic

I saw the little runt sitting there on a log
I asked him his name, and in a raspy voice he said, “Yoda”
Y-O-D-A, Yoda
Yo Yo Yo Yo Yoda


2. “Let It Flow,” Box Step Productions

Fire grows bright on this planet tonight
Not a Jedi to be seen
A galaxy gripped in turmoil
And I’ve knocked up the ex-Queen


3. “Moves Like Jabba,” Break Originals

So eat them frogs
Cuz this won’t end nice
Grab this chain, ooh Jabba, take your life


4. “All About That Base,” Nerdist

The Emperor told me not to worry about the size
He says, “It’s not like it’d be blown up twice by the same Jedi”
And no I won’t be no Sith-fighting Jedi like Obi-Wan
So if that’s what you’re into Stormtrooper, then move along
Because you know, I’m all about that base
No Rebels


5. “Cantina a Capella,” Scott Aukerman and Paul F. Tompkins

Rah pah pup dup dup dah dah
Daddle dah duh duh dahhh


6. “Star Wars Cantina,”Richard Cheese

Her name was Leia
She was a princess
With a danish on each ear
And Darth Vader drawing near


7. “Bohemian Rhapsody: Star Wars Edition,” UAT Digital Video

I’m just a slave boy
Qui-Gon’s come to free me
He is the chosen one from the prophecy
Spare him his life from this captivity


8. “Happy (We Are From Tatooine),” Star Wars Tunisia

C-3PO: It might seem crazy what I’m about to say
Sunshine she’s here, you can take a break
Stormtrooper: I’m a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air, like I don’t care baby by the way


9. “The Saga Begins,” Weird Al Yankovic

Oh my, my, this here Anakin guy
May be Vader someday later
Now he’s just a small fry
And he left his home and kissed his mommy goodbye
Sayin’, “Soon I’m gonna be a Jedi”
“Soon I’m gonna be a Jedi”


10. Oscar Isaac’s acoustic cover of Bill Murray’s lounge cover of “Star Wars”

Star Wars
Nothin’ but Star Wars
Gimme those Star Wars
Any old day

Janeane Garofalo and David Cross Riot LA

Comedy Riot

Catch David Cross, Janeane Garofalo, Kumail Nanjiani and More Comedy Behemoths at the Riot LA Comedy Festival

Riot LA takes place January 29th-31st in Downtown Los Angeles. Catch Kumail Nanjiani on the 2016 Spirit Awards Feb. 27th at 5P ET/2P PT on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Riot LA / Instagram

Pity the comedy fan who isn’t in the Los Angeles area at the end of January, for they’re about to miss one of the most impressive lineup of comedians ever assembled. From January 29th through the 31st, Riot LA — the city’s premiere alternative comedy festival — will be hosting a slew of comedy behemoths in the downtown area.

Among the scheduled heavy-hitters are Todd Margaret’s David Cross, frequent Portlandia guest and 2016 Spirit Awards cohost Kumail Nanjiani, uber-nerd Patton Oswalt, dapper gent Paul F. Tompkins, and progressive firebrand Janeane Garofalo. (And we haven’t even mentioned Maria Bamford, T.J. Miller, Gilbert Gottfried, Natasha Leggero, Ron Funches, Anthony Jeselnik, Chelsea Peretti, Kyle Kinane, Jonah Ray, Brody Stevens, or the Sklar Brothers. Check out a full list of performers here.)

Tickets for this stand-up bonanza are available at the official website, both for individual shows as well as an all-inclusive Superfan Pass which grants you access to over 40 shows on Saturday and Sunday. (The $375 VIP passes are already sold out!)

Check out the trailer for Riot LA 2016 below. If you’re up for witnessing stand-up comedy at its very best, you really couldn’t do any better than this.

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