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Exclusive: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” director weighs in on alien uproar and Michael Bay’s comments

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Everyone’s favorite heroes in a half-shell have been all over the news lately, thanks to a comment from Michael Bay indicating that the stars of the upcoming, live-action “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie would be aliens instead of reptiles mutated by radioactive ooze.

The online uproar prompted Bay himself to tell TMNT fans to “take a breath and chill” after the online dialogue got hotter than Raphael’s temper in no time at all.

Offering yet another perspective on the controversy is “Wrath of the Titans” director Jonathan Liebesman, who will be the man behind the camera when the rebooted “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” begins filming. During today’s press junket for “Wrath of the Titans,” Liebesman reassured TMNT fans that the film will remain faithful to Leonardo, Donatello, and the rest of the Turtles — due in no small part to the involvement of TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman.

“I thought it was incredible to see how passionate the fans are,” he told IFC of his thoughts on the TMNT madness gripping the Internet. “To me, that is awesome — to be working on something where there’s so much passion. I missed a lot of it, because I’ve been stuck in a room with Kevin Eastman, the guy who drew the very first Turtle.”

“We’re sort of working away at the story and the mythology with the writers, Andre [Nemec] and Josh [Appelbaum], and all I can say is that if you’re a fan of the Turtles, you’re going to love what we’re coming up with,” he said. “A lot of the stuff comes from ideas Kevin has had that he never had a chance to do in the way that we’re going to be able to do things, because Paramount is allowing us a great budget and stuff like that.”

While he couldn’t go into details about what Bay’s comment meant for the Turtles and how their origin story will play into the film, Liebesman reiterated that everything will be tied into the original mythology of the TMNT universe.

“It’s not fair to just take some comments out of context and go crazy, but I totally understand and really appreciate the passion, and I can’t wait for those exact people to see what we’re doing,” he said. “Because the stuff I see that Kevin’s coming up with, the ideas… As someone who grew up with the Turtles and loved them, I think it’s awesome.”

Liebesman also emphasized the part Eastman is playing in the film’s development, and why it’s not just an advisory role for the Turtles’ co-creator.

“What was important to me was to ask, ‘Kevin, when you created these characters and did these things, why did you make these decisions?'” he explained. “So any expansion on that universe comes from that exact same place. I don’t want to put anything in the movie that’s not coming from the exact same sentiment that created the Turtles or created any mythology around them. That is why anything we do is going to tie back into the mythology people love. It’s all coming from that same place.”

So there you have it, TMNT fans, straight from the director of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” reboot himself.

Keep an eye on IFC.com for more from the “Wrath of the Titans” press junket, including a preview of what you can expect to see when Perseus returns to the big screen and takes on the massive Titans and a host of other nasty creatures from Greek mythology.

Do Liebesman’s comments make you feel any different about the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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GIFs via Giphy

Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Mirror, Mirror

Portlandia Season 7 In Hindsight

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available Online and on the IFC App.

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Another season of Portlandia is behind us, and oh what a season it was. We laughed. We cried. And we chuckled uncomfortably while glancing nervously around the room. Like every season before it, the latest Portlandia has held a mirror up to ridiculousness of modern American life, but more than ever that same mirror has reflected our social reality in ways that are at once hysterical and sneakily thought-provoking. Here are just a few of the issues they tackled:

Nationalism

So long, America, Portland is out! And yes, the idea of Portland seceding is still less ludicrous than building a wall.

Men’s Rights

We all saw this coming. Exit gracefully, dudes.

Protests

Whatever you stand for, stand for it together. Or with at least one other person.

Free Love

No matter who we are or how we love, deep down we all have the ability to get stalky.

Social Status

Modern self-esteem basically hinges on likes, so this isn’t really a stretch at all.

These moments are just the tip of the iceberg, and much more can be found in the full seventh season of #Portlandia, available right now #online and on the #IFC app.

via GIPHY

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