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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.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

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

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.