DID YOU READ

New “Hunger Games” photos show us Katniss and her two leading men

New “Hunger Games” photos show us Katniss and her two leading men (photo)

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I’m nearly through with the third book in Suzanne Collins’ dark dystopia series “The Hunger Games,” and I haven’t been able to put it down. The story is a wonderfully written, emotional take on a teenage girl forced into the most horrific of circumstances, and her journey through a damaged world teetering on the brink of revolution. The novels have been runaway bestsellers and now with a movie on the way, we have our first real look at the three main characters in action courtesy of EW.

The books follow Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl living in the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem in the former USA. As penance for the outlying districts rising up against the capitol decades ago, each of the twelve regions is forced to send one boy and one girl to the annual Hunger Games, an arena-based fight to the death.

“Winter’s Boss” star Jennifer Lawrence has been cast in the main role, with Liam Hemsworth as her best friend and hunting partner Gale Hawthorne and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, the baker’s boy who is picked along with Katniss to serve as the tributes at that year’s games. While technically a young adult series, “Hunger Games” is incredibly mature in its themes and doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the state-sanctioned murders in the trap-ridden arena. It should make for one hell of a film, and we’re anxiously looking forward to seeing Hollywood’s vision.

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Josh Hutcherson in “The Hunger Games”

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Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson in “The Hunger Games”

What are you looking forward to seeing most from “The Hunger Games” movie? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

Soap tv show

As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television

The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.

Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.


2. IKEA Heights

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IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.


3. Fresno

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When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.


4. Soap

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Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.


5. Too Many Cooks

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Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.


6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

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Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.


7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV

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Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do  (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.


8. Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…


9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.


10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show

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The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.


11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)

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Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.

And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”


12. Acorn Antiques

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First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.


13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show

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In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)


14. The Spoils of Babylon

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Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.

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15. All My Children Finale, SNL

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SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.

“The Hunger Games” motion poster, now with more fire!

“The Hunger Games” motion poster, now with more fire! (photo)

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It’s no secret that “The Hunger Games” is positioned to be the next big book adaptation to capture movie audiences attention now that the “Harry Potter” franchise has concluded and the “Twilight” saga is on its way out the door.

The expectations are well-deserved, too. The film based on Suzanne Collins’ bestselling trilogy has all the makings of a blockbuster, with a young cast of characters and up-and-coming actors playing them. Fortunately, it also has an exciting story that should find just as much support among the male demographic as female fans.

Today, Lionsgate debuted a “motion poster” for the film at Yahoo Movies featuring a symbol familiar to fans of the books: a mockingjay engulfed in flames.

In the world of “The Hunger Games,” the mockingjay is a symbol of rebellion against the oppressive government of Panem, a post-apocalyptic nation carved out of what was once North America. In the series, the government chooses two children from each of the 12 districts surrounding the Capitol to fight to the death in a televised tournament and serve as a reminder of the absolute power it holds over its citizens.

Oscar-nominated “Winter’s Bone” star Jennifer Lawrence plays main character Katniss Everdeen, a girl from a poor District who’s forced to fight in the games. Lawrence is joined in the film’s cast by notable actors Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, and Lenny Kravitz, among others.

“The Hunger Games” is scheduled to hit theaters March 23, 2012.

What do you think of “The Hunger Games” motion poster? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

Weird Al in Milo Murphy’s Law

News of the Weird

“Weird Al” Yankovic to Get Animated In New Disney XD Series

"Weird Al" debuts as Comedy Bang! Bang!'s new bandleader this spring on IFC.

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Photo Credit: IFC/Disney XD

It’s hard to imagine Comedy Bang! Bang!’s newest bandleader any more animated than he already is, but “Weird Al” Yankovic will soon loosen the shackles of the physical world and become a cartoon. The parody singer has been cast to voice the lead character in Disney XD’s upcoming animated series Milo Murphy’s Law, the new show from the creators of Phineas and Ferb. 

As Milo, “Weird Al” plays an accident-prone jinx who suffers from “Extreme Hereditary Murphy’s Law Condition.” True to the age-old saying, everything that can go wrong for poor Milo does in hilarious fashion. And Al’s dulcet tones won’t be sacrificed either: Milo will occasionally bust out a tune throughout the show and Yankovic will also compose the intro’s theme song.

Of course, “Weird Al” is no stranger to the animated realm. Check out his 3D-rendered ’80s form in UHF’s parody of Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing.” And check back for more updates about Al’s debut as Comedy Bang! Bang!‘s new bandleader and musical cohost.

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