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Joss Whedon reveals “Much Ado About Nothing” details, will hit film festivals in 2012

Joss Whedon reveals “Much Ado About Nothing” details, will hit film festivals in 2012 (photo)

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When fans of Joss Whedon discovered that the beloved television director was going to be helming “The Avengers” for Marvel, speculation ran rampant as to which of his circle of actors from the Whedonverse he would call upon to be a part of the film. Would Nathan Fillion play Hawkeye or Eliza Dushku play The Scarlet Witch? In the end, Whedon didn’t chose any familiar faces from his previous projects, but he’s making up for that now.

In the month since “The Avengers” wrapped, Whedon cast and shot a modern adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” which was announced yesterday by “Firefly’s” Fillion. The movie pretty much only sports familiar faces from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “Firefly,” “Dollhouse” and even “The Avengers.” Whedon and two of his stars — Amy Acker (“Angel,” “Dollhouse”) and Sean Maher (“Firefly,” “Serenity”) — caught up with Entertainment Weekly to spill the beans about the film.

“It’s very modern. The language, the jokes, and the attitudes translate really, really easily. [The actors] do say the words as they’re written [in the play], but they connect to a modern audience in a way that portions of the other comedies don’t necessarily,” Whedon said of his adaptation.

The movie is shot in black-and-white, and Whedon said that’s because he views it as a “noir comedy.” It’s an adaptation he’s been wanting to make for many years, and even did a reading of it with Acker and Alexis Denisof (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “Dollhouse”) three years ago. That was when he knew he wanted them to star in the film.

But it wasn’t until he wrapped “The Avengers” and he and his wife Kai were about to go on a month-long vacation to Italy to celebrate their 20-year anniversary that Whedon was convinced to make the film. Kai, with whom he co-runs the production company Bellwether Pictures, suggested that he create this film in that month instead. And so he did.

Whedon made some calls to some of his regulars, like “The Avengers'” Clark Gregg and “Buffy,” “Angel” and “Cabin in the Wood’s” Tom Lenk, to join the ensemble cast, and they quickly came running. He financed and shot the entire project in his Santa Monica estate, and wrapped shooting in 12 days (it ended on Saturday). Since production only lasted a month — and he very nicely asked his cast not to tweet about it — Whedon managed to keep the film a secret until he was ready to announce it. He says he plans to start bringing the movie to film festivals in early 2012.

“I’ve just been enjoying the Internet response. We’re feeling our way on this one, just like ‘Dr. Horrible.’ I do mean it to be in theaters. But we haven’t gotten any real plan except [going to] film festivals because it sounded like it would be festive,” Whedon said.

Acker said she wasn’t quite sure what to expect when Whedon asked her to join the movie, but came on board immediately anyways.

“Alexis and I met with Joss maybe one or two times right after we decided that we were doing it, and then we rehearsed kind of the week before. But when we showed up the first day, I was like, ‘Oh, this is a real movie!'” she said. “We didn’t quite know what it was going to be, and seeing all of the trucks and the lights and everything, everyone was kind of like, ‘Oh, we really are doing a movie!'”

She and Maher described the movie as a 12-day-long party and reunion with some of their former Whedonverse cast members. Both expressed their undying loyalty to Whedon, and said they were ready to jump to do whatever he asked of them. Maher had a commitment to “The Playboy Club” at the time, though the show has since been canceled, but called up his manager to move around his filming dates so he’d be able to participate in “Much Ado” as Don John.

“I had an email from Joss, telling me that he was putting together a cast for Much Ado About Nothing, and he wanted me to come play Don John. He said, ‘I need a sexy villain, what sayeth you?'” Maher recalled. “I initially was terrified because I’ve never done Shakespeare, and Shakespeare with Joss — I always want to do right by him because I love him so much. So I told him, I’m absolutely on board, let me just make sure I can clear the dates.”

Whedon said he had some trouble figuring out the angle he was going to take on the project, but once he did it was all smooth sailing.

“I realized that everybody in it behaves like such a dolt — an articulate dolt, but a dolt,” he explained. “I fixated on this notion that our ideas of romantic love are created for us by the society around us, and then escape from that is grown-up love, is marriage, is mature love, to escape the ideals of love that we’re supposed to follow. So that clicked for me when I realized, oh, I get why it matters everybody goes through the weird machinations we go through.”

Are you looking forward to Whedon’s take on Shakespeare’s classic comedy? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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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.