DID YOU READ

Remembering When Steven Spielberg Wanted To Create A Universal Film School With Quentin Tarantino

Remembering When Steven Spielberg Wanted To Create A Universal Film School With Quentin Tarantino (photo)

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Steven Spielberg has been out of the public eye for the last few years, but that’s all about to change this week. 2011 will actually be one of the most prolific years for the famed director ever, with his long-gestating motion-capture project “Adventures of Tintin” and the drama “War Horse” being released within a week of each other over the holidays, the premieres of his two sci-fi television series “Falling Skies” and “Terra Nova” in the fall and summer, and of course, this week’s “Super 8,” which may be the project he’s least personally invested in, but bears his greatest imprint. That’s because Spielberg doesn’t only serve as a producer on JJ Abrams‘ alien invasion thriller, but one of its prime influences and perhaps the only thing that hasn’t been kept secret about the film and though an entire generation of filmmakers will credit the “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” director for getting into the business, few actually have been able to be taken under his wing as Abrams has.

However, “Super 8” has oddly not inspired as much nostalgia for the Amblin years for me as it has for the time when Spielberg aimed to mentor millions, despite the fact that upon its 15th anniversary this year it’s little remembered. Back in 1996, “Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Chair” debuted and was according to Spielberg, “a film school in a box,” a CD-ROM game spread over three discs that allowed users to helm a film starring Quentin Tarantino (during his “Destiny Turns on the Radio” acting phase following “Pulp Fiction”) and Jennifer Aniston as a death row inmate and his girlfriend, respectively. Nascent filmmakers could consult with future “Pirates of the Caribbean” screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, Spielberg’s longtime editor Michael Kahn and “Jurassic Park” cinematographer Dean Cundey as they pointed and clicked through a series of videos that took them through the process of making a film from the script stage through its premiere, with Spielberg guiding the way.

Here’s the trailer, and its accompanying behind the scenes footage that just may be the most entertaining thing you’ll watch all day as Spielberg talks about “Director’s Chair”‘s worldwide prospects, Aniston’s praise of “a situation you’d cut of your right arm as an actor to be in,” and Tarantino’s admonishment that “a whole generation of filmmakers could really come out versed in editing” from the game:

“Director’s Chair” actually wound up being a little too accurate to the filmmaking process, proving tedious for most as it tested its audience’s patience with too many decisions about camera setups and lengthy loadtimes. Asylum.com once ranked it number nine on their list of the “10 Worst Celebrity Video Games” ever. But the experience didn’t sour Spielberg on games or attempting to give novices a a leg up, although he was far more successful at the former with his creation of the “Medal of Honor” series than he was at the latter when he tried his hand at a reality TV competition in 2007 with “On the Lot,” the Fox series where a group of filmmakers competed for a DreamWorks contract that he bailed on almost as quickly as its original host Chelsea Handler did when it was obvious the ratings weren’t up to snuff. But Spielberg’s always been at his best when not working with raw talent and besides, he’s always got a day job to fall back on.

Did you have a copy of “Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Chair”? It’s okay to tell us in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
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Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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