DID YOU READ

Gary Winick, 1961-2011

Gary Winick, 1961-2011 (photo)

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As Cinetic’s Matt Dentler sadly noted in his tweet announcing the passing of Gary Winick last night, the timing was “too late to make the Oscar [in memorium] tribute, but way too early.” In a cruel twist of fate, it wasn’t unusual for the writer/director, who was set to turn 50 next month, to be ahead of his time.

Winick was of course a filmmaker first, leaving behind a dozen films that grew from small-scale indie dramas to crowdpleasers such as “Charlotte’s Web” and “Letters to Juliet” that charmed audiences by the millions. Yet his most enduring legacy is likely the one he left on a smaller community, the thousands of filmmakers who have and will continue to benefit from his work as a digital pioneer at the turn of the century as the founder of InDigEnt, the collective he created with Cinetic’s John Sloss and IFC Films [our corporate sibling] to make films for under $100,000 on digital video.

Nowadays, what Winick was proposing hardly sounds revolutionary, but then again, the results of the biggest revolutions often don’t in retrospect. Inspired by the Dogme 95 movement out of Denmark, and especially Thomas Vinterberg’s “The Celebration,” Winick saw a similar opportunity in America, knowing the depth (and underutilization) of New York’s indie filmmaking community, observing much of it firsthand as a teacher at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts for nearly a decade. By luring the likes of Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and then-budding auteurs like Rodrigo Garcia and Rebecca Miller, Winick gave digital filmmaking credibility at a time when it didn’t seem like the inevitability it is today and, better yet, produced 19 films between 2001 to 2007 that included gems such as Linklater’s “Tape,” Miller’s “Personal Velocity,” Peter Hedges’ “Pieces of April” and Steve Buscemi’s “Lonesome Jim” and Andrew Wagner’s “Starting Out in the Evening.”

While the limitations of budget and camera definition was clearly set on InDigEnt productions, there were none placed on what could be accomplished with the films, which is why no less an esteemed cast than John Slattery, Ron Rifkin, Annabella Sciorra and Fisher Stevens found themselves sitting around a table in the opening scene of “Sam the Man,” Winick’s first contribution as a director to the company. His second, “Tadpole,” that brought Sigourney Weaver and Bebe Neuwirth into the fold, was the one that really put the company on the map after selling to Miramax for a reported $6 million at Sundance in 2002, a mixed blessing for InDigEnt as a whole since Hollywood discovered that he was as good at nurturing character-driven comedies as he was with burgeoning technological movements.

02282011_GaryWinick13Goingon30.jpgIn fact, there is a common link between the two since Winick’s general lack of cynicism towards the process and what could be achieved, in regards to the digital format in particular, extended to his work as a director, a quality that made him so compassionate to his characters and a natural choice for the studios to deliver their closest approximations of fairy tales in recent years. Skeptics (myself included, admittedly) wondered why Winick would abandon his role as a leader in the indie film world to become just another journeyman director of big-budget romantic comedies. But for the director, it was just one more proving ground as he pulled the magic out of Jennifer Garner (“13 Going on 30”) and Amanda Seyfried (“Letters to Juliet”) in the roles that established each as movie stars as easily as he found the humanity in Michael Imperioli’s drug-addicted father just trying to make ends meet in 1995’s “Sweet Nothing” and Aaron Stanford’s overeducated, Voltaire-spouting teen whose main goal in life is to bed his stepmother in “Tadpole.”

Winick once told the BBC his favorite quote from a film was from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” when Jack Nicholson’s Randall McMurphy attempts to move a concrete sink to his fellow patients’ disbelief, concluding in frustration, “At least I tried!” There’s no question Winick could say the same thing throughout his career, though he had considerably less trouble with moving either audiences emotionally or the state of independent film forward.

[Additional photo: Gary Winick, Judy Greer and Jennifer Garner on the set of “13 Going on 30,” Columbia Pictures, 2004]

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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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