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John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein talk “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” “Horrible Bosses 2” and the upcoming “Vacation” remake

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John Francis Daley, the former “Freaks and Geeks” star turned “Bones” actor and movie scribe, can’t really do any magic tricks — “save for one where I can make it look like my middle finger is coming off, because I’m double jointed.” As for his screenwriting partner Jonathan Goldstein (“Horrible Bosses”), he can do two card tricks and one coin-disappearing trick, “in a terrible, terrible way.” But that didn’t stop the two of them from taking a crash course in magic, illusions, and other trickery for “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.”

Daley and Goldstein had been working on their own version of a Vegas magician comedy when New Line came calling, only their version was “more supernatural.”

“We had been wondering why there wasn’t a comedy yet about a Vegas magician,” Goldstein said. “So we went to Vegas, like ‘The Hangover.’ Only what happens there, stays there.”

“We also went to the Magic Castle,” Daley said, “which is the nerd heaven for magic in the best possible way. It’s the closest thing to the magic bar that Burt, Anton, and Rick the Implausible frequent in the movie. So we learned a lot of secrets there.”

Some magicians became more active consultants, such as Penn Gillette and David Copperfield (who cameos in the film and helped developed the movie’s pivotal “Hangman” illusion to be shot on film in one take without any cuts necessary). And when Gillette kept coiling a napkin about his finger while talking to them, as if he were doing so absentmindedly, Daley kept waiting for a trick to happen in front of them. (He ended up being disappointed).

“These people are so secretive about their material,” Daley said, “because it’s a very competitive world, and some of them risk their lives every day when they do certain illusions, like the bullet catching illusion, although telling us that they’re risking their lives might be part of the trick, too. So we didn’t really focus as much on their secrets as the secrets behind their lives.”

“They’re really isolated in this bubble because they have no time to do anything but rehearse and perform,” Goldstein said.

Daley and Goldstein performed a trick of their own, of sorts, by creating a role for Steve Carell in which he would have to wax his body hair — again. (“That’s the main reason to do this movie!” Daley laughed). And they were grateful that Jim Carrey created an illusion with the character they created for him (a blend of David Blaine and Criss Angel). Steve Grey (“the Brain Rapist”) isn’t as much of a conjurer as an endurance specialist, and Daley and Goldstein were intrigued by the idea of him being a “low key villain, but not openly malevolent.” Carrey turned Steve Grey into more of a “messianic figure,” coming up with a whole new look for the street magician and then disappearing into him.

“It was his idea to do the body tattoos,” Goldstein said. “He even drew a picture of the bunny skull and he gave it to the cast and crew as temporary tattoos during production.”

Next up for the Daley-Goldstein team is directing a remake of “Vacation,” starring Ed Helms, in which he would play a grown-up Rusty. “It’s in the spirit of the best of what John Hughes did,” Daley said of the pair’s script. “There will be emotion and you will hopefully care about the characters and their fun mishaps, including another road trip to Wally World.” That, and other homages to the original, are what makes the project “exciting” for the duo. “We’ve been playing it out in our heads,” Goldstein said, “catching up with the characters, and going for the darkest possible reveal.”

Daley and Goldstein said that they’re in talks for both Chevy Chase and Anthony Michael Hall to make appearances in the “Vacation” remake. “Our hope is to have some people back from the original,” Goldstein said. “There will definitely be characters from the original in this, but we do want it to be its own movie.” (And don’t expect cameos from the two in this one, despite popping up in “Wonderstone” as paramedics and stage managers: “We’ll probably stay behind the camera this time,” Daley said.)

Soon to follow will be “Horrible Bosses 2,” which is several drafts into the scripting phase. Just as in the last round, expect several stars to play against type as Jennifer Aniston and others did before. “They don’t have to make a big commitment,” Goldstein said. “They just come in, and it’s not a huge part. But whoever it is, they can come in and go out many nights past their bedtime, and have a lot of fun murdering people — at least on camera.”

Which upcoming Daley and Goldstein project are you most excited for? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

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Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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