DID YOU READ

The Ten Greatest Things Michael Jackson Ever Did

The Ten Greatest Things Michael Jackson Ever Did (photo)

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A planned TV special on a UK Discovery channel that re-enacts Michael Jackson’s autopsy has been criticized by his estate as being “in shockingly bad taste” and a “blind desire to exploit Michael’s death.” A print ad for the show depicted a corpse on a steel table covered by a sheet, with a hand sticking out revealing Michael’s signature white glove. Whether it works as an ad or not I don’t know, but I do know that it continues a long tradition of insensitive media exploitation — much of which Michael certainly brought on himself. But, so as not to dwell on the negative at year’s end, and fresh off his first real posthumous release, here’s a look at the best of what the King of Pop did while he was still alive. I’ll leave out the obvious, moonwalk, which I encourage you to do immediately after reading this list.


10. “The Wiz”
Sidney Lumet’s 1978 film adaptation of the popular Broadway musical of the same name was a total failure in theaters, but this strange re-imagining of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” through the filter of the African American experience starring Richard Pryor, Diana Ross, and Michael Jackson lived on, on TV and probably in some children’s nightmares. His Scarecrow was one of the few characters that didn’t freak me out, but Michael is almost totally unrecognizable. It wouldn’t be the last time he’d be hard to identify.


9. Late 90’s film forays
His cameo in “Men In Black II” is terrible, but the Michael Jackson vehicles, “Ghosts” and “Moonwalker,” were the kinds of fantasy films he made for kids in that were super fun to watch, even if he wasn’t that great of an actor. The video games they spun off were awesome looking too, if they didn’t always play well. It’s a shame he didn’t get around to making more of these, you know, for kids.


8. “Captain EO”
The best of Michael’s adventures in filmmaking was obviously the Francis Ford Coppola/George Lucas 3-D adventure, “Captain EO.” Because in the 80’s no one could get enough “Star Wars,” some of us still can’t. If you pocketed your “Tron: Legacy” glasses, now’s the time to put them to good use:


7. “Black Or White”
After disappearing from the public eye for a little while, Michael brilliantly revealed himself as some kind of colorless/raceless creature and if even for a moment, started a conversation about race, culture, ethnic identity and what it means to be human that is rarely addressed. This video also marked a beginning for that cool morphing effect not seen in music videos before, nor much on TV at all before this aired. Together with the film, “Terminator 2” released just a few months prior, a new age of special effects began.


6. “Human Nature”
This ballad off of 1982’s “Thriller,” is one of the smoothest songs ever recorded. It should be noted that Michael didn’t write it, but the way he delivered it and the honesty of his vocals make it absolute R&B/pop gold, that has never been surpassed.

5. “Thriller” / “Indian Thriller”
A song, and album that needs no introduction… and without it, we wouldn’t have sensational stuff like this:


4. The Scandal
The bane of Michael Jackson was his genuine love for children. He was never proven guilty of the alleged crimes, and I side with the law. The truth is simple really — he sought to give others what he never had, what he tried to reclaim all his life; his childhood. Add a colossal amount of money, a penchant for loafers and wax Elvis’ and shit, and you have a scandal in the making. What was so fascinating was what it exposed about everyone other than Michael, whom we already knew was a total freak. Anyone predisposed to hate outliers and eccentrics condemned him immediately — he’s a freak, he’s guilty, hang him! Others who thought he was a dangerous example to others were just waiting to pounce on a black man who was slowly redefining his blackness, and then morphing himself into something that transcended race/ethnicity entirely. What was he now? Some people can’t cope without easy labels. And therein lay Michael Jackson’s true genius, to be totally undefinable. When all of this came up and out at dinner tables it did as much to spark conversation and address people’s prejudices, as any other event of the decade.


3. “Rock With You”

Do you like to dance? Even people who don’t will get down to this most genius number off of 1979’s brilliant album, “Off The Wall.” It’s the shit, and everyone owes this man a debt because of it. The video is out of this world too, just look at that tremendous outfit.


2. The White Glove.
Michael showed how you can roll out the house wearing one sparkly white glove, light your hair on fire, do a little dance, ride a choo choo around on your front lawn with a monkey and it’s all good. Because in a generally conformist society where being yourself is often a detriment, and our role models tend to be sportos who all look alike — they even wear uniforms to make sure of it — we need all the one-gloved freaks we can get.


1. “We Are The World”
You can’t even believe how many legends are packed into this supergroup. All thanks to Lional Richie and Michael Jackson, who temporarily saved the world, for you and me.

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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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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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