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Brian Wilson on the Beach Boys, Gershwin and his upcoming biopic

Brian Wilson on the Beach Boys, Gershwin and his upcoming biopic  (photo)

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In 1966, after The Beach Boys masterwork, “Pet Sounds,” the band planned to follow up their success with an album called “Smile.” But as so often happens complications arose and somewhere during the many recording sessions between the spring of ’66 and the summer of ’67, the band fell apart. The master tapes were shelved, and the record was never released. Though the band was destined to release many more albums afterward, that album plagued by disputes and Brian Wilson’s breakdown in ’67, never saw a proper release. Wilson eventually released his own critically acclaimed solo version, but in the legendary songwriter’s own words, the original 1966-’67 “Smile Sessions” just finally released after 44 years is perhaps more “interesting.”

I talked with Wilson, whom I was told loved Broadway musicals more than anything, and though that proved not to be wholly accurate, he certainly loves Gershwin more than anything. We talked about his favorites, an upcoming Brian Wilson/Beach Boys biopic, and how the 1965 film “The Monkey’s Uncle” blew him out.

Was some of the material on “Smile” too cryptic for the rest of the band at the time, too complex?

Right, complex is the word, yeah.

How does this compare to the solo version you released a few years back?

Well, a little more interesting, I think. It’s the makings of “Smile.” Sort of like the background view of what we did back then [in the 60’s].

You were inspired by Gershwin, and did that great re-imagining of his songs last year, which I thought was pretty fantastic. How have Broadway musicals influenced your own writing?

You know what? There are hardly any, not really at all.

Really, you didn’t find them to be much of an influence, even back in the day?

No, Tony Hatch I liked a lot, but, you know. I didn’t really go to musicals, hardly at all.

But Gershwin certainly inspired your songwriting.

Well George Gershwin was my big hero. Of course, yeah. I first heard Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue when I was 3 years old. Our song “Heroes and Villains” [on “Smile”] had a lot of Gershwin in it. He was the greatest.

Have you ever thought of film composing?

No, I haven’t. I can write songs, I’ve had songs in movies, but I can’t compose film scores, you know?

Were you happy with how your Disney album came out?

Yeah, we just finished it up, songs “In the key of Disney.” It had 12 songs on it, and I produced it and sang the leads. My background band played the instruments and sang background. It took us about 2 months to make it, it’s a great album. “When you Wish Upon a Star,” “Stay, Stay Awake Baby of Mine.” There’s so many beautiful tunes on there.

So not even that, those were all really film songs, that hasn’t sparked your interest in composing music for film?

Well, no, not really [laughs].

What’s your usual reaction to hearing the Beach Boys in a movie?

Well in “The Monkey’s Uncle?” It blew me out! I was so proud to be part of Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon too, you know? I never really met Frankie Avalon, well I might have, but I can’t remember [laughter].

I hear there’s a film about you coming out, is that true?

That’s true. We don’t know when. We don’t know when but it’s in the makings now. We’re trying to get the script so it’s accurate and doesn’t, you know, say things that I didn’t do, you know. You know what I mean?

So you’re involved, kind of approving things?

Yeah, we’ve been doing that off and on for a couple of months now. As soon as the script’s done they’ll go ahead with the movie.

Is it going to be a broad Brian Wilson biopic or focus in on a particular time of The Beach Boys?

Both, both.

If you could inhabit a Gershwin tune, which would it be?

Oh, well, “Love Is Here to Stay.” And “I Loves You, Porgy,” “Summertime”, “You Can’t Take That Away From Me,” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Those 5 are my favorite.

I like a Gershwin tune, how about you? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook!

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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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