DID YOU READ

Exclusive premiere: Caveman “Old Friend”

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Beyond the phone call delivered here, by actor Peter Sarsgaard, is another dimension where New York’s Caveman resides in a strange realm envisioned by director Philip Di Fiore. A dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind, that would make “Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling feel warm all over, but strikes a creepy chord for the rest of us.

One can only imagine the group of 5 to 8 year-old’s, whom this was screen tested with, and the effect it had on them — other than inducing nightmares of a soft spoken late night caller. Di Fiore won’t say exactly, but assures me they were “endlessly valid interpretations of what could be happening.”

“I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of time and various cultures’ theories about time,” Di Fiore said. “In my opinion, it’s not as tidy and linear as popular media or popular culture likes to shape it — the past has a way of holding on, and folding itself into the present. There’s evidence of this all around us, relics of different eras co-existing beautifully with modern styles and technologies.”

 

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This is evidenced in “Old Friend” too where, Di Fiore and his DP have used a vintage black and white tube video camera to get that vintage television look. You would be forgiven if you thought it was found footage or original to the early 60’s, although the reappearance of the woman, actress Penny Lynn White, makes it clear when you see her again later on that it cannot be.

“She carries herself in a very dignified manner, but there’s also some secrets and some pain behind her eyes,” Di Fiore, who gathered everyone at an old house in Claryville, NY for the weekend shoot, said. Lauren Sieckowski, who plays the younger woman, helped spark the ideas for the video on a night out in Brooklyn with Di Fiore. The band’s, Sam Hopkins, plays “the man,” and when he wasn’t stalking the hallways in a fedora, he was in the kitchen cooking for everyone — the cast and crew all stayed in the house for the duration. “The voice” is none other than Peter Sarsgaard, whose boyish charm and devilishly good looks are not in play, leaving only a soft spoken menace.

“Peter Sarsgaard and I have become friends over the past year and it’s great to talk music and film with him,” Di Fiore said. “He’s told me about some fascinating acting techniques that he’s learned over the years and I got to witness some of them when he did the voiceover at my studio. He watched the rough cut down, and without me saying a word, he immediately got the tenor of what we were going for.”

Di Fiore compared Sarsgaard’s timing to, “the phrasing of some of the jazz trumpet players” that the two talk about when they’re hanging out. “I should release the rough cut of the video with my voice in there,” the director joked, “Just so people could see how much Peter blew my attempt out of the water.”

Let us know if you’re in our house, in our parlor, walking up our stairs, in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook!

Soap tv show

As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television

The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.

Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.


2. IKEA Heights

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IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.


3. Fresno

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When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.


4. Soap

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Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.


5. Too Many Cooks

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Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.


6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

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Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.


7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV

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Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do  (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.


8. Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…


9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.


10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show

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The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.


11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)

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Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.

And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”


12. Acorn Antiques

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First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.


13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show

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In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)


14. The Spoils of Babylon

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Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.

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15. All My Children Finale, SNL

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SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.

Exclusive premiere: Eleni Mandell “Magic Summertime”

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You can almost feel the billowy breeze in this hazy ditty by LA’s Eleni Mandell, between the strings and the vibes. The video about musical lovers, in which sea foam and sunbeams play to fond summertime memories, was shot on 16mm and Super 8 to lend that home movie nostalgia.

“The idea came to me while listening to the final mix of the song,” Mandell said, whereupon she imagined having her ex-boyfriend Charlie Wadhams play her leading man in a video where they did a lot of dancing together. Then she brought in her friend Jeff Martin (who’s in the band Idaho) to direct and his ex to play the choreographer. “It was a real love fest!” Mandell noted. “Nanci did a great job of choreographing two non-dancers (though Charlie and I both love to dance) and was such a good sport to agree to be in the video at the last minute and play the home wrecker.”

 

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Mandell went on to tell how she got involved with Martin to shoot the video. “He’s probably filmed every minute of his life,” she said. “We’re in a club (there are only 3 of us in this club) called Urban Hikers. The point is to walk to a restaurant and pig out because we’re walking there and back. Our longest hike was 9 miles! Walking in Los Angeles is a real adventure.” Martin always documents the group’s gluttonous hikes on film and has previously directed few music videos for a few bands (including Ingrid Michaelson), so the collaboration came naturally — even if the personal relationships involved were a bit risque. Eleni Mandell’s “I Can See the Future,” is set for release July 10th on Yep Roc Records.

Do you go out dancing with your ex? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook!

Exclusive: Imagine Dragons Tour Interview

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Imagine Dragons are breathing fire with their single “It’s Time,” currently featured in the trailer for the teen coming-of-age film, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (Emma Watson, Paul Rudd). Here we have the band in a behind the scenes tour video at the Viper Room.

“There is always a mix of apprehension and excitement before you try songs out on a new audience,” lead singer Dan Reynolds told us. “That said, L.A., and especially the Viper Room, is a second home for us. So it was great to begin testing songs out with so many familiar faces around. The reaction to the music is the most gratifying experience we have as artists.”

Of course we wanted to know what the Las Vegas band thought about having their music identified with “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” based on the acclaimed novel of the same name too.

“I was definitely very happy and humbled,” Reynolds said. “It’s an incredible novel and the team involved with the film are extremely talented. To be a part of something so special is nothing short of a dream.”

On how he saw his music fitting with the theme Reynolds replied, “The novel and film are extremely honest and show a very vulnerable side of human nature. ‘It’s Time‘ is a song about growing, but at the same time staying true to yourself. I think the film definitely resonates with that theme in many ways.”

“I wrote it just wanting to express myself in an honest way,” he said of the song. “It’s a bit of a vulnerable song for me and to see that so many people are hearing it and relating to, even drawing strength it, is an amazing feeling. I am very humbled to say the least.”

TOUR DATES:

July 5 – Summerfest 2012 – US Cell/WLUMMilwaukee, WI
July 6 – Basilica Block Party – Church StageMinneapolis, MN
July 21 – Firefly Music FestivalDover, DE
July 25 – Paramount StudiosHollywood, CA

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