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“Bad Santa 2” screenplay in the works (twice)

“Bad Santa 2” screenplay in the works (twice) (photo)

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I’m pretty sure we were the first ones to bring you the news that Billy Bob Thornton was in negotiations with Dimension to reprise his role as the best worst Santa ever, Willie “Tugboat” Stokes, in a “Bad Santa 2” when we spoke to him about his Willie Nelson documentary “The King of Luck” at South by Southwest 2011. Today The Los Angeles Times reported that the film is inching closer to fruition — or make that fruitions, with the development of not one but two different scripts.

“The companies [Miramax and Dimension] are engaging in the unusual move of commissioning two different writers, with the idea of choosing between the scripts or even using one script for ‘Bad Santa 2’ and the other script for a third film. (The two writers do know about each other.) A spokeswoman for Dimension Films confirmed the hires and the plans. The movie is being produced by Geyer Koskini, Thornton’s manager who produced the original and has been developing the sequel for several years.”

The Times reports the two writers are Johnny Rosenthal and John Phillips, young Hollywood scribes without any produced films to their names. I’ve heard of studios farming out marketing to more than one company — inviting multiple trailer houses to compete for the right to make the coming attractions for a major film and then picking the concept they like best, for example — but not script writing. That’s a new one for me.

I’m a huge “Bad Santa” fan; I was, frankly, a little annoyed when indieWIRE conducted a poll to find the best indie comedy of the last 15 years and “Bad Santa” didn’t even make the cut (you’re telling me “Slums of Beverly Hills” is a better indie comedy than “Bad Santa?” Away with you and your madness, indieWIRE!). I’d love to see Thornton back in the role of Willie, a role he should have been nominated for an Academy Award for. But having just rewatched all three versions of “Bad Santa” for my biweekly director’s cut column, I’m a little concerned about the practicalities of a sequel. Realistically — SPOILERS coming for “Bad Santa” — he can’t really even be a mall Santa anymore, and his life was kind of on the rebound at the end of the film. The only way to really recapture the original “Santa”‘s sublime dark humor would be to have Willie fall off the wagon and hit an even lower rock bottom than the rock bottom he hit the first time around. Which, come to think of it, might actually be kind of fun.

It could also be great to see Thurman — a.k.a. the innocent kid who befriends Thornton’s Santa — as a teenager, fully seduced to the dark side of booze and women by the corrosive parental influence of Willy. The two of them competing for the affections of a woman is another idea that could have some potential. Basically it needs to be squalid and sordid and disgusting. Anything less would be a missed opportunity.

We should also note that while Thornton is obviously very interested in reprising his role, according to The Times the movie is currently moving ahead without the participation of the Coen Brothers, the executive producers and developers of the original idea for “Bad Santa,” or the first screenwriters Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, or director Terry Zwigoff. Those were some prodigious creative forces. Filling their big red Santa boots will not be easy.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.