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.

THE EXORCIST [US 1973]  LINDA BLAIR     Date: 1973

Take This Quiz for a Spin

The Power Compels You to Take the Exorcist Movie Quiz

Catch an all-day Exorcist marathon on Sunday, November 1st.

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The Exorcist is a modern horror classic thanks to many of its haunting images: the ominous stairwell, the spider walk, the face of the demon. Before you catch IFC’s all-day Exorcist movie marathon on November 1st, take this quiz to see how well you remember the film, its sequels and its influence in pop culture.


Benders Steve Schrippa 1920 x 640

Steve Schirripa on Benders

The 10 Funniest Sopranos Star Cameos

Catch Steve Schirripa on a brand-new Benders tonight at 10P on IFC.

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Over the years, the cast of The Sopranos has popped up in a variety of other shows and movies, always bringing some edge. It’s no surprise that even in comedies, Soprano cast cameos come with a lot of NSFW caveats. Even in kids movies, you can tell they’re fighting to keep the F-bombs from rolling. In honor of Steve “Bobby Bacala” Schirripa shaking down the guys on Benders this week, here are a few of the funniest cameos from The Sopranos cast.

10. Tony Sirico, Family Guy

Paulie Walnuts himself finally got to teach Stewie some respect, as the voice of the Griffin’s new dog on Family Guy.

9. Vincent Pastore, Pepsi Ad

Pastore acts like a big, well, pussycat when he comes face to face with a tough little girl in this spot for Pepsi from his Sopranos heyday.

8. Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Real Housewives of New Jersey Spoof

Sigler was perfectly cast in a Funny or Die spoof of the Bravo show that owes a lot to The Sopranos.

7. Michael Imperioli, The Office

Dwight Schrute finally received his black belt from a new sensei during the last season of The Office. And when you think karate, the first person that always comes to mind is Michael Imperioli.

6. Drea de Matteo, Conan

De Matteo proves even her insecurities can be funny, copping to a whopper of a lie to get out of a guest spot back during Conan’s late night days.

5. Joe Pantoliano, The Simpsons



Joey Pants and Michael Imperioli voiced gangsters in a 2006 episode that spoofed The Sopranos, The Godfather, and pretty much every other aspect of mafia culture.

4. Steven Schirripa, Benders

It’s hardly surprising that Schirripa turns up in comedies from time to time, after years spent on the standup circuit. You can catch him on this week’s brand-new Benders as a tough guy shaking down the Uncle Chubbys boys.

3. Edie Falco, 30 Rock

Falco played Celeste “C.C.” Cunningham, a liberal congresswoman with a dark secret. That secret being she’d fallen for the human avatar of everything she’d spent her life fighting against. But have you seen Jack Donaghy’s hair?

2. James Gandolfini, Letterman Top 10 List

The late, great Gandolfini didn’t make as many cameo appearances as his costars (he was too busy making movies), but he did appear on Letterman with the rest of the Sopranos cast for a fun Top 10 list. Naturally, he came out last to the biggest applause. Tony always gets the number one spot.

1. James Gandolfini Michael Imperioli, Tony Sirico and Vincent Curatola, Nicky Deuce

Schirripa actually starred in this kid’s movie, and enlisted a slew of his old Sopranos friends to pop by and put a PG spin on their old act.


Lorne Visits the Cat Ranch

Lorne Michaels Finally Talks to Marc Maron on WTF

Maron returns to IFC in 2016.

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A historic summit of comedic minds has finally happened in the Cat Ranch — Lorne Michaels sat down for an interview on Marc Maron‘s WTF Podcast. And you can listen to it here.


20 years ago, Marc had a meeting with Lorne about possibly taking over Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live. But then Marc never got a a callback—and his brief meeting with the SNL guru has haunted him ever since. This week on his WTF podcast, Marc finally got closure. As Marc wrote on his website, “In the history of WTF, Lorne Michaels is talked about more than any other person. Now he is finally a guest.”

In addition to discussing why Marc wasn’t ready to join the Not Ready for Primetime Players, the episode’s wide-ranging conversation also covers the reason Michaels started the show back in 1975 and what keeps him doing it each and every season.

Listen to WTF on iTunes or download from the WTF podcast website. And be sure to check IFC.com for more updates on Marc and season 4 of his comedy series Maron, which returns to IFC spring 2016.

Ghostbusters 2

Who Ya Gonna Call?

Take the Ultimate Ghostbusters Fan Quiz

Catch the Ghostbusters movies November 30th on IFC.

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Photo credit: Columbia Pictures courtesy Everett Collection

When there’s something strange in your neighborhood, nothing beats kicking back with an airing of the Ghostbusters movies on IFC to help remind you that you ain’t afraid of no ghosts. But do you know what adult film star makes a cameo in the first film? Or what beloved actor Slimer is based on? Prove your might as the ultimate Ghostbusters fan by taking our movie quiz below.


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