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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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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.
Die Hard restroom

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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