DID YOU READ

George Lucas and Bringing Dead Actors Back to Life

George Lucas and Bringing Dead Actors Back to Life (photo)

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Next week’s “TRON: Legacy” stars two Jeff Bridges: one of Bridges’ approximate biological age and one that looks uncannily like the Bridges of thirty years ago (at least until he opens his mouth). The young Bridges represents yet another advancement in CGI special effects which means it’s time to return to that fear that pops up every so often: that digital creations could some day replace actors altogether. I tend to think this sort of thing is hogwash, that even the most technologically advanced cinematic creations need some humanity at their core.

But you know who apparently doesn’t think that’s hogwash? George Lucas. The man who was responsible for the infamous CGI creation Jar Jar Binks (as well as the far more successful all CGI Yoda in “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith”) is apparently looking to bring dead actors back to life in the form of zombie-like CGI creations for a future project. Aint It Cool first spotted the key info, in an interview with British comedian and director Mel Smith. According to Smith, who directed Lucas’ 1994 film “Radioland Murders”:

“He’s been buying up the film rights to dead movie stars in the hope of using computer trickery to put them all together in a movie, so you’d have Orson Welles and Barbara Stanwyck appear alongside today’s stars.”

The article doesn’t probe any deeper into the subject, which means we don’t know how Smith got wind this information, but let’s assume it’s true for now. After all, AICN posted its story on Saturday and the post is still up on the site Monday afternoon with no qualifiers, disclaimers, or retractions, which suggests a certain amount of veracity to Smith’s story. I thought Harry Knowles’ comment in his post about this news was interesting as well:

“I’ve not been privy to any of Uncle George’s plans, but I’ve seen some amazing things done with classic movie stars by a few talented filmmakers, in terms of tests that pretty much told me, this is definitely going to become a reality for us movie-goers.”

Obviously I’m not privy to any plans or to any tests by talented filmmakers. But I was privy to “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” the 2004 film that transformed old footage of Laurence Olivier into a new performance. At the time of this scene, Olivier had been dead for fifteen years:

There are two issues at stake with any sort of performance like this and they’re two totally separate things: whether or not the character is believable and whether or not the character is the cinematic equivalent of grave robbing. I mean, talk about not letting the dead rest in peace! I’m not going to sit here and pretend that Orson Welles was some pristine artist or that I know he would have hated the idea — the man, after all, made his fair share of wine commercials in his own lifetime. But the idea leaves an icky taste in my mouth, one even ickier than the one left by things like Olivier’s appearance in “Sky Captain” or Fred Astaire’s posthumous vacuum cleaner commercial.

Plus, presuming any project Lucas was working on would involve new CGI creations of Welles, Stanwyck and the like, and not simply digitally-futzed-with versions of preexisting footage, you’re now essentially making the actor’s choices for them. Like I said, I’m not going to pretend to know what Welles’ would have thought about all of this. But if you cast a CGI Orson Welles in your movie, and then have him move, act, and react according to your design, you’re claiming some amount of authority over his process. How much hubris do you need to have to say “I know how Orson Welles would have played this scene?”

At least with the young Jeff Bridges, old Jeff Bridges is around to give his input. And if there is a certain robotic quality to BridCGes, it makes sense: the character is a sentient computer program anyway. But I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to swallow the idea of other people putting new words into the mouths of beloved dead actors. How can they know what they would say or how they would say it? They can’t. Because the answers to those questions are buried in the place that computers can’t understand and never recreate: the human soul.

UPDATE: Movieline received word from Lucasfilm that this is a “false rumor.” You mean Mel Smith lied? How is that possible?

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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

via GIPHY

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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