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Gary Ross officially out of “Catching Fire”: The next director should excel at these five things

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It’s definitely disappointing that Gary Ross will officially not return for “The Hunger Games” sequel “Catching Fire.” Lionsgate and Ross released statements today confirming his departure.

“Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct ‘Catching Fire,'” Ross said. “As a writer and a director, I simply don’t have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule.”

We felt Ross pretty much did a spot-on adaptation of “The Hunger Games,” and did everything he needed to do in telling Katniss Everdeen’s story. Since a new director is going to be stepping in to fill his shoes, here are five things they should excel at in order to make “Catching Fire” as good as its predecessor.

Be adept with CGI
In “The Hunger Games,” Ross was able to get away with limited use of CGI because the Games were set in a wooded environment. Not so, in “Catching Fire.” Without giving anything away, the setting for the second film is very specific and not easy to replicate. A set will have to be built, and a good portion of the movie will likely need to be computer generated. Because of that, the new director should have a history of working with CGI and, more importantly, have done a good job with it.

Be able to direct an action film
Again, we don’t want to give too much away here, but “Catching Fire” will be arguably more action-packed than “The Hunger Games” before it. Ross did a great job shooting the action scenes in the first film, especially since it’s only rated PG-13. There’s no way Lionsgate will make “Catching Fire” rated R, so the next director had better be able to do the same thing this time around.

Be someone who can see through Katniss’s eyes
Though the portrayal of Katniss Everdeen largely lies on Jennifer Lawrence‘s capable shoulders, the director also needs to be able to see the story through her eyes. “The Hunger Games” did a great job of translating the intimate story told in the novel to a larger tale on the big screen, while still telling it from Katniss’s perspective. That can be attributed to the fact Ross was such a big fan of the book (we’ll get to that later), but the new person in charge needs to be able to understand Katniss’s motivations in order to do a good job of telling her story.

Be able to tell a love story
Honestly, the love story in “The Hunger Games” was a bit too downplayed for our liking, especially since Katniss’s complicated relationship with Peeta is dealt with immediately in “Catching Fire.” But the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale comes to the forefront in this upcoming sequel, and fans will never be more divided over who they’re rooting for. (Let’s face it, Gale becomes a dick in “Mockingjay.”) The next director can’t be someone who’s going to shirk away from the lovey dovey stuff, because it’s one of the more important elements of “Catching Fire.”

Be a fan of the book
Above all else, the new director needs to be a fan of the series. Ross admitted repeatedly that he was a huge fan of the books and that was why he wanted to be the director to portray them on the big screen. In fact, it’s rumored that his love for “The Hunger Games” alone was one of the reasons he didn’t have any interest in directing its successors. But Ross made sure to work closely with author Suzanne Collins while working on the script in order to stay as true to the heart of “The Hunger Games” as possible. It was clear that he understood the story being told, and his love for the material came across in the final product.

What do you think the most important strengths of the new director should be? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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