DID YOU READ

“Page One: Inside The New York Times,” Reviewed

“Page One: Inside The New York Times,” Reviewed (photo)

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I don’t know if it’s a rule or just a cliche, but it feels like every movie about newspapers begins with a scene in the printing presses. I get it: they’re visually interesting, they’re something we never get to see anywhere but the movies, and they represent the end of the process that we’re about to watch unfold. And sure enough, the documentary “Page One: Inside The New York Times” starts with a printing press montage. Not an original choice, but a particularly appropriate one in this movie, since the process that’s ending in this case is not just another issue of a newspaper, but perhaps the entire system of gathering and reporting news that has been in place for over a hundred years.

Whether he originally intended to or not, director Andrew Rossi, who was granted unprecedented access to the Times newsroom for an entire year, wound up with a documentary that is less “inside the Times” than “The Times inside the modern media landscape.” You won’t see how the paper covers sports or local government or, for that matter, how their film desk works. Though we meet a few reporters and editors from around the company and we get to sit in on a couple pitch meetings for the paper’s front page, Rossi primarily looks at the Times through the prism of its own media desk, which is edited by Bruce Headlam and staffed by smart, dedicated journalists like David Carr and Brian Stelter. The stories they report all connect in some way to one of the seismic shifts currently rocking the news industry. WikiLeaks and their release of classified combat videos leads into a discussion about the line between journalist and activist, and the role the Times plays in a world where almost every citizen has access to incredibly powerful communication tools. NBC Universal and Comcast’s merger introduces questions about media consolidation. The bankruptcy of the Tribune company forces us to reconsider whether newspapers should be run as a benevolent public trust, or as a money-making enterprises whose only responsibilities are to its owners and shareholders. To me, these are fascinating issues. If they’re not to you, this movie may not be your cup of tea.

Rossi bounces between news stories, interviews with Times staffers, and media critics and pundits. The structure he’s found — a series of loosely collected snapshots rather than a detailed portrait — reminds me of the way someone might casually read a newspaper, glancing at headlines, flipping back and forth from one section to the next. You don’t necessarily get the best sense of how the Times works but you do get a feel for why it works: because men (and the subjects of “Page One” are almost exclusively white men) like Headlam and Carr believe that The New York Times means more than just something people read on the subway in the morning, and they work their asses off to uphold the values of that have always been at its core. The movie doesn’t burrow too deeply into the nitty-gritty of their work, but if, as many in “Page One” speculate, The New York Times is nearing a period of massive upheaval for itself and for all newspapers, this film will serve as a superb document of this hugely important moment just before it happened.

I may be making the film sound dry, and it’s not. Under Rossi’s gaze, the Times reporters practically become rock stars. Carr, a former drug addict and single father, emerges as the Times‘ unofficial spokesman and biggest cheerleader. He dresses down the arrogant editors of Vice who think their coverage of the Middle East is hot shit. He openly mocks Michael Wolff and his Newser.com for claiming the Times is a dinosaur while ripping off its content. Even though he’s chronicling the collapse of the very business he’s in, Carr makes his job look so freaking cool. Forecasts of financial doom and all, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if in ten years there are young people working in journalism who credit “Page One” as their inspiration. That is, of course, if there’s anyone actually making a living at journalism in ten years. Those printing presses are starting to look mighty archaic.

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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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