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DID YOU READ

Tim Grierson on “The Three Stooges” and the Risk of Casting Non-Stars

Will Sasso, Chris Diamantopoulos and Sean Hayes in "The Three Stooges"

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Replacing cultural icons isn’t easy. For modern-day films, that challenge usually involves finding the right actor for a reboot of Superman or Spider-Man, but this Friday comes a new movie based on a property older than your typical comic-book character. It’s “The Three Stooges,” the big-screen remake inspired by the slapstick comedy act that first appeared on screen more than 80 years ago.

For a few generations of fans, Larry, Curly and Moe will always be, respectively, Larry Fine, Curly Howard and Moe Howard, but time marches on, and directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly had to find actors who could play these roles. Those are big shoes to fill. At one point, it looked like Sean Penn, Jim Carrey and Benicio Del Toro were going to do it, but instead “The Three Stooges” will star three lesser-known actors. So, who are these guys? One of them, you’ll probably recognize. The other two, you might need a little help.

The most famous of the trio is Sean Hayes, who will be Larry. His claim to fame was his role in the long-running sitcom “Will & Grace” as Jack, which earned him seven Emmy nominations. (He won once, in 2000.) Like a lot of actors who find success on TV, Hayes has mostly moved from thing to thing since — including doing one-off episodes for “Portlandia” and “30 Rock” — but most everybody still associates him with Jack, which I’m sure is a bit of a blessing and a curse.

But that’s still more high-profile than our new Curly, Will Sasso. Clean-shaven and beefy like Curly Howard before him, Sasso appeared on “Mad TV” for several seasons, and he’s kicked around since, starring on the short-lived “$#*! My Dad Says” and doing voices on “The Cleveland Show” and “Family Guy.” Although he’s played characters in movies like “Life as We Know It,” he’s primarily been an impression guy, spoofing Bill Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Randy Newman. So perhaps playing Curly isn’t that huge of a stretch — he basically just needs to imitate Howard.

Then there’s Chris Diamantopoulos. Before being cast as Moe, he was probably most famous for portraying Robin Williams in the 2005 TV movie “Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of ‘Mork & Mindy.’” Like Sasso, Diamantopoulos has gained notoriety for playing famous people — and his Williams is pretty darn good — but he’s also been able to establish an acting career with stints on “24” and “The Starter Wife.” Currently, he’s also the guy in those Charles Schwab ads.

All in all, decent résumés, but let’s be honest: We’re a long ways away from Sean Penn, Jim Carrey and Benicio Del Toro. And maybe that’s for the best. “The Three Stooges” represents a lifelong dream for the Farrelly brothers, whose biggest hit (“There’s Something About Mary”) was 14 years ago, which might as well be several lifetimes ago in Hollywood years. They’ve had a series of duds of late, but there was a sense that if they could just make this movie happen, then maybe they could right the ship. And while bigger stars in “The Three Stooges” would have definitely helped at the box office, the filmmakers insist that they ended up with the right cast — perhaps in part because they found guys you wouldn’t necessarily know from a lot of other roles. At least that’s how Peter Farrelly explained it in a recent interview:

“This movie couldn’t have been made any better with anyone else, the three we got are incredible. We’ve always been blessed to have people pass on us. We could sit here and say, it was a choice, but we couldn’t get anybody! People were scared to death to do this movie because of the criticism you see all over the internet and also because we were clear on one thing. We said, you’re not doing a version of Moe, Larry or Curly. You’re doing Moe, Larry and Curly, on the nose. This isn’t Batman, where different actors come in and do their thing. Nobody liked that. So we decided to cast the best Moe, Larry and Curly out there and these are the guys we came up with.”

And now they’re going to have to see if audiences are happy that these are the guys the Farrellys came up with. Like with a Batman or James Bond movie, “The Three Stooges” doesn’t necessarily need stars — it just needs someone who feels right for the part. Looking at the publicity materials, Hayes, Sasso and Diamantopoulos are reasonable physical facsimiles of Larry, Curly and Moe. Now they just have to convince us they’ve got the original trio’s comic timing and rapport. And, really, not being big stars probably won’t make any difference in that regard. Just being funny will probably be good enough.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.