DID YOU READ

“Transformers: The Ride” honors franchise at Universal Hollywood premiere

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Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the “Transformers” franchise doesn’t begin and end with the action-packed Michael Bay movies. The series about a group of robots in disguise has managed to transcend the passing of time and remain relevant almost three decades after its creation. That’s why it only seems fitting that “Transformers” be memorialized in yet another medium: a theme park ride.

Thursday May 24 marked the grand opening of “Transformers: The Ride” at Universal Studios Hollywood. IFC was on hand for the event along with the likes of Steven Spielberg, Judd Apatow and Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime himself. Even though the ride has Bay’s stamp all over it — he even made an appearance via satellite before the ride was opened — it is clear that the attraction is more about the blockbuster appeal of the characters than the filmmaker himself.

Glenn Morshower, who plays General Morshower in the “Transformers” movies and ride, kicked off the premiere by appearing in character to let us know that Megatron was trying yet again to capture the All Spark. Cue Bumblebee and Optimus Prime rolling up in their disguised forms to prevent the evil Decepticon from obtaining the cube. Spoiler alert: good prevailed, though if you have a chance to ride “Transformers: The Ride” you’ll know that it doesn’t prevent Megatron from trying to snag it yet again.

I had the pleasure of standing next to Cullen and Frank Welker, the voice of Megatron, during this performance, and it was clear from the looks of glee on their faces that this is a ride for “Transformers” fans, by “Transformers” fans. When Morshower first announced that Megatron was trying to steal the All Spark, Cullen playfully started punching Wekler in the arm. When the Optimus Prime truck and Bumblebee car rolled up, Cullen could only whisper, “Wow.”

The ride is as involved as any of the Universal rides are and, while it isn’t as immersive as say The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, it’s certainly a treat for fans of the franchise. I had the chance to catch up with Industrial Lights and Magic visual supervisor Jeff White, who was largely involved in the development of the ride’s effects, and said his team did their best to make “Transformers: The Ride” as true to the franchise as possible.

“We had our first meeting right after we finished the second film and the whole ride was in progress during the production of ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon,’ so what was really great about that is Michael was very involved in both projects and there was a lot of cross-collaboration between the two.” he said. “For those of you that are big fans of the movie, when you go on the ride you’ll see elements of the movie in there, and yet the ride very much stands on its own in terms of the action that goes on in there.”

Cullen and Welker both lended their voice talents to the project, and were both on hand to look at storyboards and talk to the ride’s creators during its development. For Welker, working on this project was a dream come true.

“I’ve been very fortunate in my career and started working in college and never ever stopped, so I’ve veen very lucky and fortunately animation took off in the middle of my career so there was a lot of product to do and it was like a Renaissance in animation, it’s been fantastic. But now, being a voice in a ride is sort of the epitome. It’s like being in voice heaven,” he said on the premiere red carpet.

With the ILM team working on the “Transformers” ride as well as the movies, the visual effects are consistent across both mediums. And though it’s a standalone storyline, it’s clear to see where the ride stands in the Michael Bay “Transformers” universe. In fact, it feels a lot like riding through an action scene in one of Bay’s movies, and that’s definitely a good thing. The 3D aspect of the attraction adds to its immersion, and White said a main goal in the development of the project was to make riders feel like they’re a part of that world.

“What we tried to do was bring the ‘Transformers’ aesthetic to the ride, and yet we had a real opportunity to the ride being in 3D and with the screens being so huge to play the characters out in the audience space and to really make it interactive with the audience and be completely immersive, which is something you can’t typically do in a movie theater. We tried to take advantage of the venue, and Universal knows how to make such great rides, that it ended up being a great collaboration,” he said. “When we do an effect like a water spray or heat and then there’s an actual physical experience that combines with that, it just adds to the believability of what you’re seeing.”

Though the ride has been open in rehearsals for several weeks, Cullen and Welker hadn’t had a chance to experience it yet. They were right at the front of the line when guests at the premiere were finally allowed to go on the ride, and it was clear they were dying to see how the characters they have personified for 28 years were immortalized in a theme park ride.

“It really is so cool. I’m trying to be very calm, but inside I’m going, ‘You’re a part of the ride! Ahh!'” Welker said before he was allowed to go on. “I’m trying to be very, very cool. But it’s awesome.”

Special thanks go to Ricky Brigante at Inside the Magic for the awesome video of the event.

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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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