Latest News tag:www.huffingtonpost.com,2012:/thenewswire/2 2011-12-06T09:12:02Z Movable Type 3.2 The Final Chapter For The West Memphis 3? tag:www.huffingtonpost.com,2011:/thenewswire//2.996252 2011-10-06T15:06:42Z 2011-12-06T09:12:02Z Over 18 years ago, three teenagers -- Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley -- were put on trial for the brutal murder of three... Lucas Kavner http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lucas-kavner/ <p>Over 18 years ago, three teenagers -- Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley -- were put on trial for the brutal murder of three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis, Ark.</p> <p>As the case picked up international media attention, speculation in the town reached near hysteria -- these teens were "devil-worshippers," many proclaimed, since Echols had jet-black hair and drew scary pictures in journals -- and suddenly the case became about much more than the murder. How could a jury ignore everything they were hearing in the news? Was it even possible for a judge and jury to maintain neutrality?</p> <p>The three boys were convicted, and Echols was sentenced to death.</p> <p>But two documentary filmmakers, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, were on hand to watch the case unfold, and their 1996 documentary, <a href="http://documentaryheaven.com/paradise-lost-the-child-murders-at-robin-hood-hills/" target="_hplink">"Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills,"</a> re-examined the evidence and further questioned members of the police department. </p> <p>After that film aired on HBO, thousands around the world became convinced that these three teenagers were innocent; <a href="http://freewestmemphis3.org/" target="_hplink">"Free The West Memphis 3"</a> organizations were formed in their name and celebrities like Johnny Depp and Eddie Vedder spoke up in the press. Another documentary directed by Berlinger and Sinofsky, "Paradise Lost 2: Revelations," was released in 2000, which raised new evidence against one of the murdered boys' parents.</p> <p>Now, Berlinger and Sinofsky have a third film -- "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory" -- which chronicles the continued efforts to release the West Memphis 3 from prison, focusing especially on a 2007 "DNA press conference," where forensics efforts and post-conviction lawyers concluded that none of the three convicted killers could be attached to the 1993 murder scene. </p> <p>The film also introduces a new suspect -- Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of one of the children -- who may have lied about his whereabouts the night that the children were killed.</p> <p>At the <a href="http://filmlinc.com/films/on-sale/paradise-lost-3-purgatory" target="_hplink">New York Film Festival's screening of "Paradise Lost 3" </a>on Tuesday, Berlinger and Sinofsky put their bittersweet stamp on a milestone series in documentary film. They also noted what a rarity it was for two filmmakers to be granted the opportunity to produce a trilogy of films without robots, hobbits or superhero spandex; rarer still when those films actually have a tangible impact on society, and enter into the national dialogue on a major court case.</p> <p>"The opportunity to go back to your own work," Berlinger said at a press conference, "was hugely fascinating. How often do you get a chance to revisit your own material using your own archival footage?"</p> <p>The film premiered <a href="http://www.indiewire.com/article/toronto_review_what_paradise_lost_3_says_about_the_paradise_lost_franchise" target="_hplink">in unfinished form </a>at the Toronto Film Festival earlier in September, because the filmmakers hadn't had a chance to incorporate its real-life ending, which weeks prior had taken the filmmakers, as well as the nation, by surprise.</p> <p>On August 19 of this year, after a hearing with a new judge was announced in Arkansas, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/19/west-memphis-three-free_n_931449.html" target="_hplink">the West Memphis 3 pled guilty</a> -- in accordance with an "Alford plea" deal -- to crimes they say they didn't commit, in order to save Echols' life and be released from prison. The deal allowed the three to maintain their innocence, while still being considered convicted felons by the state. </p> <p>This deal was frustrating for Baldwin especially and he initially turned it down. Toward the end of the film, Baldwin delivers a moving monologue about the flaws in our justice system, and how he essentially had to lie to save his friend's life. </p> <p>There's something wrong, Baldwin says in the film, about claiming to be guilty to be considered innocent.</p> <p>Berlinger suggested that the August hearing might have been rushed because the Arkansas Supreme Court wanted to wrap up the case before the third "Paradise Lost" film was released this November. If people saw their film first, Berlinger said, it wouldn't have looked very good for the state, and they might have had a civil suit on their hands. </p> <p>He also wondered how many other convicted felons are in the same position as the West Memphis 3.</p> <p>"Why does it take three well-funded documentaries and millions of dollars from Eddie Vedder and Johnny Depp," Berlinger asked, "to give these guys the fair trial they deserved 15 years ago?" </p> <p>Though it would be fascinating to follow the free men as they acclimate to life outside of prison, Berlinger and Sinofsky insinuated that this would likely be their last film in the series. After 18 years, Sinofsky said, "maybe it’s time to turn the cameras off and let them live their lives."</p> <p>But it's difficult to know if these filmmakers, who have spent almost two decades entrenched in this case, will ever be able to put this story to bed. Especially when the real killer may still be out there in the world.</p> <p>HBO plans to televise the film early next year.</p> <p><strong>UPDATE</strong>: <a href="http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/06/west-memphis-three-will-attend-new-york-film-festival/?ref=arts" target="_hplink"><em>The New York Times</em> reports</a> and HBO confirms that the West Memphis 3 will make their first public appearance at the New York Film Festival screening of the film on Monday evening. </p> <p>In a statement, Berlinger said: "What a remarkable opportunity to celebrate the power of cinema by having the subjects of these films -- one of whom just six weeks ago was on death row and the others locked away for the rest of their lives -- on hand to meet the audience who will witness their 18-year wrongful conviction odyssey on what is sure to be a monumental occasion for everyone involved."</p> <p><br><strong>WATCH a clip from the film below:</strong></p> <p><object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/UqRyHfhP83g?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/UqRyHfhP83g?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object></p> <p><em>Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the filmmakers headed to West Memphis after the original verdict was announced, when in fact they were following the case in real time.</em></p> Free Music Festival Draws Almost A Million tag:www.huffingtonpost.com,2011:/thenewswire//2.992868 2011-10-03T19:44:39Z 2011-12-03T09:12:02Z What began humbly in 2001 as the "Strictly Bluegrass" festival (if you didn't have a banjo or a mandolin, you probably weren't welcome) attached the... Lucas Kavner http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lucas-kavner/ <p>What began humbly in 2001 as the "Strictly Bluegrass" festival (if you didn't have a banjo or a mandolin, you probably weren't welcome) attached the word "Hardly" in 2004, reaching out to include acts from other genres and traditions. And suddenly in the last few years, it has transformed into one of the most celebrated music festivals in the country.</p> <p>It's also ballooned in size: Ten years ago there were two stages and 20,000 people in attendance at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. This year there were six stages, and an estimated 800,000 turned out over the three-day event to see legendary acts like Robert Plant, John Prine, Gillian Welch, Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard, as well as current indie-folk mainstays like Bright Eyes, M. Ward and the Felice Brothers. </p> <p>The welcoming spirit of the festival hasn't changed. Musicians, like the audiences, quite openly enjoy themselves -- just happy to be a part of this enormous weekend -- and often they combined forces. Patty Griffin stepped in to sing with her boyfriend Plant, and Steve Earle and Welch joined Emmylou Harris for her encore. Part-time musician and "House" star Hugh Laurie played a set of New Orleans blues before, <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/10/03/DD8J1LCN10.DTL" target="_hplink">as <em>SF Gate</em> reported,</a> he hopped onto a golf cart to catch Haggard and Kristofferson's set.</p> <p>"It's not just hippies here," said Brian Arn, a 62-year-old lawyer from Sacramento, who came with his wife, Ellen, a homemaker. "That's the thing: it's babies. It's old farts. It's families. Everyone."</p> <p>Behind each stage hung a banner devoid of any corporate sponsorships or brand alliances -- the only image was a headshot of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazel_Dickens" target="_hplink">Hazel Dickens</a>, a legendary bluegrass performer who passed away last year and to whom this year's festival was dedicated.</p> <p>"A free festival with no corporate sponsors? How about that," said Kevin Drew of Canadian indie rock act <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/03/broken-social-scene-break-up_n_991969.html" target="_hplink">Broken Social Scene</a>, before they launched into their set.</p> <p>And that might be the most remarkable thing about the proceedings last weekend. Since 2001, the festival's bill has been footed entirely by one bluegrass fan, musician and investment banking billionaire, Warren Hellman. Indeed, this 77-year-old covers sound equipment, security, park rental, everything -- himself.</p> <p>So how much does something like this run? </p> <p>"What I can do is allow you to do the arithmetic without telling you," <a href="http://www.sfweekly.com/2010-09-29/music/warren-hellman-talks-about-hardly-strictly-bluegrass/" target="_hplink">he told <em>SF Weekly</em> last year.</a> "There are 80 bands. Let's assume that they average $2,500. And let's assume that the overhead is 50 percent more than that. I didn't tell you what it was, but you can get certainly within a few gazillion dollars of the amount."</p> <p>This one-man sponsorship machine explains the occasionally muddied sound and pedestrian traffic, but also the gratitude that everyone feels for him and for the gift he's providing the city. Every year, stacks of personal thank-you cards turn up at the offices of <a href="http://www.hf.com/team/Team.aspx?membercode=fHellman" target="_hplink">Hellman & Friedman,</a> his private equity investment offices.</p> <p>Moments before he spoke with The Huffington Post, he was onstage to watch Gillian Welch's afternoon show from the wings, and hours earlier he had sat in on Earl Scruggs' set, playing his banjo. </p> <p>"I'm stunned at this turnout," he said, looking out at the crowd from behind the festival's main stage. </p> <p>His own band, <a href="http://www.myspace.com/thewronglers" target="_hplink">The Wronglers,</a> had played earlier that Saturday morning under an overcast sky. Hellman wore<a href="http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2010/10/warren_hellman_jacket.php" target="_hplink"> a spectacular black jacket,</a> sparkling Stars of David along the sleeves, designed by his granddaughter. </p> <p>"The first year we did this, we had Emmylou [Harris] and Hazel [Dickens], and I remember asking if maybe three or four thousand would show up," Hellman said. "And there were 20,000 that year. I just had no idea what the reaction would be to this kind of music. Our band was used to playing a Chinese retirement center with 10 people in the audience."</p> <p>Perhaps it's the resurgence of a more earnest, back-to-basics mentality that inspires so many people brave heat, crowds and some of the foulest porta-potties in America to watch Gillian Welch croon "I'll Fly Away" or John Prine suggest you "Blow up your TV / throw away your paper / Go to the country, build you a home." Both acts had three or fewer musicians onstage, but managed to hold the massive, all-ages crowds in a rapturous hush.</p> <p>Or perhaps it's because the concert is free. Or because the police turn the other way when a 70-year-old contractor lights up a joint ("I should warn you, smoking marijuana can lead to tobacco," Robyn Hitchcock joked). Or because when a father and his daughter pass by you on the left to get closer to the stage, they warn, "My apologies, but we're coming up on your left-hand side now," instead of merely shoving you to the right.</p> <p>"Everyone in this entire city since I got here has been in just the best mood," said Welch. "I've gotta think this has something to do with it. What a magical place."</p> <p>Golden Gate Park has a storied history of free music festivals, beginning with the "Human Be-In" of 1967 -- a lot of Grateful Dead and LSD then -- and continuing through to the Chet Helms memorial in 2005, which brought a Jefferson Airplane reunion along with it. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass continues in that vein and will hopefully last long after Hellman has passed (even though, he suggests, some younger members of his family aren't too keen on that.)</p> <p>The only discord of the weekend came when <a href="http://mayoredlee.com/" target="_hplink">San Francisco's mayor,</a> Ed Lee, took to the mainstage to scattered boos to thank everyone for coming out. The mayor then presented Hellman with a plaque of appreciation.</p> <p>"This is one of those special things our city does," Mayor Lee told HuffPost. "For me, it's like the World Series. I mean, you have 800,000 people in one place! I love how diverse it is; it's an easy atmosphere, and you don't feel insecure. That's a special thing."</p> <p>On Saturday night, the second full day of music closed with a set from Texas country legend Robert Earl Keen. A few of the long-haired types cleared back to make room for some cowboy hats and tucked-in polo shirts. A few alumni from Texas A&M next to me -- they worked for Chevron -- knew all the words to his songs.</p> <p>"Keep dancing," Keen suggested. </p> <p>And everyone -- babies, old farts and a few lone teenagers on the hill behind the stage -- obliged. </p> <p><em>Check out some user-submitted photos of the event below:</em></p> <p><HH--236SLIDEPOLLAJAX--192258--HH></p> Major Indie Rock Outfit Plays Final American Shows tag:www.huffingtonpost.com,2011:/thenewswire//2.991969 2011-10-03T14:05:00Z 2011-12-03T09:12:02Z SAN FRANCISCO -- Broken Social Scene have been called a lot of things -- Canadian supergroup, rock collective, family, alt-pioneers, "guitar-maelstrom" -- but ask Kevin... Lucas Kavner http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lucas-kavner/ <p>SAN FRANCISCO -- Broken Social Scene have been called a lot of things -- Canadian supergroup, rock collective, family, alt-pioneers, <a href="http://pitchfork.com/news/37747-kevin-drew-reveals-all-about-new-broken-social-scene-album/" target="_hplink">"guitar-maelstrom" </a> -- but ask Kevin Drew, lead singer and founding member, and he'll say it's best to simply call them a "band."</p> <p>"The 'collective' thing I'd always gone with, because that's what people called us," Drew said in an interview. "But look: we've always been a band, and we built this thing together."</p> <p>Drew was speaking on a beautiful Saturday afternoon from backstage at the <a href="http://www.strictlybluegrass.com/" target="_hplink">Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival</a> in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Hundreds of thousands of fans bunched together under a hot October sun, where Broken Social Scene was set to play one of its last two North American shows before embarking on an indefinite hiatus. </p> <p>The band, of course, has said similar things before, ultimately reuniting each time. Drew told <a href="http://pitchfork.com/news/43993-broken-social-scenes-kevin-drew-talks-band-hiatus-future-projects-apps/" target="_hplink">Pitchfork</a> last month that <a href="http://pitchfork.com/news/43993-broken-social-scenes-kevin-drew-talks-band-hiatus-future-projects-apps/" target="_hplink">he felt like the "boy who cried wolf,"</a> since he'd talked of the band breaking up so often over the years. Drew said he'd never been good at ending things, and anyway the band always had too much unfinished business. </p> <p>One can imagine the number of issues that might arise in a band that, since 2001, has been home to as few as three and as many as 19 other musicians who have joined together for <a href="http://www.brokensocialscene.ca/" target="_hplink">four sprawling, guitar-driven albums and a handful of other EPs and B-side collections.</a> Their music has always navigated a mix of familiar chords and wide-ranging instrumental crests and troughs, an aggressive wall of sound giving way to a quiet, plunking banjo or a distant trombone.</p> <p>Though a previous 'extended hiatus' left some members of the band at odds with one another, they reunited for 2010's critically acclaimed and aptly titled, <em>Forgiveness Rock Record</em>, which may now stand as their final LP. Songs like "World Sick," "Sentimental X's," and "All for All" ("Off and on it's what we want / What we want is off and on") seemed unabashedly to reference one another.</p> <p>Part of what made the Toronto-based band so unique is that each member always had other projects on the way. Its members have gone on to form such celebrated indie acts as <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55FMOJMhV9s" target="_hplink">Stars</a>, Apostle of Hustle, Metric and Do Make Say Think. Both Drew and Brendan Canning, another founding member, have released <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit_If..." target="_hplink">acclaimed solo albums </a>of their own. Over the years, they've become like the Judd Apatow crew of the indie rock set.</p> <p>And then there's Leslie Feist, whose songs have been featured in endless films, commercials and TV shows, whose last album sold a million copies worldwide. She has become a veritable international star, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ9WiuJPnNA&noredirect=1" target="_hplink">immortalized even on "Sesame Street."</a>.<br /> <br /> "Everyone always wanted to do a lot of other things -- other bands, records, projects -- but I've never wanted to do too many other things at once," Drew explained. "I think we all have respect for each other, but we also know our place in the band now."</p> <p>Drew insists that this time, the break is all for the best. And they're probably not coming back any time soon.</p> <p>"This is the healthiest thing we can do," he said, as "House" star Hugh Laurie, who was playing a set before Broken Social Scene, popped out of one of the other tents and a group of women began to scream. "There's no bad blood, no problems, everyone is at peace. We've had a lot of inter-relationships, some have worked, some haven't. But we all loved what we were doing. And I think we were always fair."</p> <p>As Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard began their set on an opposite stage, David Drew, a white-haired man with a finely trimmed beard and a sun hat, approaches us. He's Kevin's father and has served as the band's pro bono business manager for the past seven years. Turns out, this rock family extends to include real family members, too.</p> <p>I ask him what it's been like, organizing the affairs of almost 20 musicians at any given time.</p> <p>"It's like wrangling cats," he says. Not dogs. "Dogs would actually listen."</p> <p>A few minutes later, a 10-piece incarnation of Broken Social Scene took the sunlit Towers of Gold stage, a crowd of nearly 100,000 spread out before them, as they plowed through a good chunk of their catalogue from the past decade. "So take me down, down through this / Kill the common law that missed / This is the blood I love to share," Drew <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiSBAykx9vA" target="_hplink">crooned</a>.</p> <p>Later that night, they played a three-hour, 25-song set<a href="http://blogs.sfweekly.com/shookdown/2011/10/saturday_broken_social_scenes.php" target="_hplink"> at the Fillmore,</a> and Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock made a guest appearance, joking that this would be the "first annual Broken Social Scene last show ever." They closed out their second encore with "It's All Gonna Break," the soaring, epic closer from their 2005 self-titled album. </p> <p>"I don't want to dilute what we've done," Drew said. "But I'd like to find other ways of telling the story of our band."</p> <p><em>If you're in South America, or feel inclined to take a vacation there, you can still catch Broken Social scene in November. <a href="http://www.brokensocialscene.ca/tourdates.php" target="_hplink">Click here</a> for tour dates.</em></p> Radiohead Fans Blast Ticketmaster tag:www.huffingtonpost.com,2011:/thenewswire//2.981719 2011-09-26T17:56:08Z 2011-11-26T09:12:02Z Many New Yorkers awoke this morning, checked their wireless connections, manned their keyboards, and futilely attempted to purchase tickets for two last-minute Radiohead concerts this... Lucas Kavner http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lucas-kavner/ <p>Many New Yorkers awoke this morning, checked their wireless connections, manned their keyboards, and futilely attempted to purchase tickets for two last-minute Radiohead concerts <a href="http://gothamist.com/2011/09/19/radiohead_confirms_two_nights_at_ro.php" target="_hplink">this week at the Roseland Ballroom</a> in Manhattan. As the clock struck 10, however, thousands were met with the familiar message: Tickets were unavailable, but perhaps try again closer to the date, because, "FYI," some tickets might be re-released.</p> <p>"Refresh, refresh," as the novelist Benjamin Percy <a href="http://www.theparisreview.org/fiction/5585/refresh-refresh-benjamin-percy" target="_hplink">might suggest</a>. But to no avail. Despite the two-ticket limit Ticketmaster imposed on each purchase, most fans were shut out.</p> <p>Many of them took to Twitter to immediately express their distaste.</p> <p>"Who else wants to murder Ticketmaster right now in NYC?" one user wrote. "Anonymous/Lylzsec hacked Ticketmaster and stole all the Radiohead tickets," suggested another. "Sigh... Another morning spent re-discovering how much I loathe Ticketmaster." </p> <p><a href="http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/145261/no-the-vice-president-of-live-nation-cant-get-you-radiohead-tickets/" target="_hplink">Stephen Blackwell from Death and Taxes</a> had actually thought ahead, <a href="http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/145261/no-the-vice-president-of-live-nation-cant-get-you-radiohead-tickets/" target="_hplink">emailing</a> a contact at Live Nation directly last week in hopes of securing tickets in advance. Instead, he received an automated message that "if this email is in regards to tickets to Radiohead," then no, even he would not be able to help you. </p> <p>"Tickets go on sale on September 26 @10:00 AM at ticketmaster and I wish you the best of luck," the email read.</p> <p>Indeed, if the world of music fans were a collective superhero, Ticketmaster might make a good villain. </p> <p>The ticketing service, which merged with promotions giant Live Nation in 2010, has made very few friends in recent years, what with the proliferation of ticket-auctioning sites charging exorbitant mark-ups, and the rising pricetags of mysterious "service fees," which increase the price of a ticket even further.</p> <p>In the past few years, Ticketmaster has been taken to court multiple times regarding these service charges, most recently in Arkansas, where resident Corey McMillan complained that these service fees are actually illegal under state law. </p> <p>Arkansas statute 5-63-201, <a href="http://www.ticketnews.com/news/Arkansas-Supreme-Court-to-weigh-in-on-Ticketmaster-fees081126937" target="_hplink">Ticket News reported</a>, states that a person or company cannot sell a ticket to any "music entertainment event at a greater price than that printed on the ticket or the box office sale price plus any reasonable charge for handling or credit card use."</p> <p>That case is now in the hands of the state's Supreme Court, and <a href="http://www.ticketnews.com/news/Live-Nation-faces-new-class-action-lawsuit-over-service-fees071106328" target="_hplink">similar suits have been launched in California and Baltimore</a>, as fans continue to raise questions about Ticketmaster fees and practices.</p> <p>Frustrations are escalated further, however, as flaws in their online ticketing system become more apparent. Eric Gang, a web developer based in New York, spent two hours this morning figuring out how he might buy tickets directly from the Roseland Ballroom, only to discover that the venue -- like thousands of others across the country -- only worked through Ticketmaster. He'd have to buy them online with everybody else.</p> <p>In a stroke of luck, Gang was actually able to secure two tickets in his online queue at around 10:06 a.m. But before finalizing his purchase, he had to "Log in" as a new user with Ticketmaster. After completing that process, his tickets were suddenly unavailable. </p> <p>Refresh, refresh, refresh. No luck.</p> <p>"The site had dropped everything," Gang said. "That's what happens when the venue is the customer. Not the consumer."</p> <p><a href="http://twitter.com/#!/travistefft" target="_hplink">Travis Tefft</a>, a producer for the "Opie and Anthony" radio show on Sirius, on the other hand, was able to log onto Ticketmaster at 11:51 a.m., almost two hours after they went on sale, and landed two tickets for the Wednesday night show. </p> <p>So what gives? Shouldn't something like that be impossible? </p> <p>Jacqueline Peterson, a spokesperson for Ticketmaster, said the company wasn't willing to discuss the inner workings of their online ticketing process, but released this statement in an email to The Huffington Post:</p> <blockquote>There was tremendous demand for Radiohead’s New York shows and in comparison, there were a relatively small number of tickets available. This is an example of where paperless ticketing -- currently restricted in New York -- could have created a great fan experience and ensured that all of the available tickets were purchased by real fans instead of some being scooped up by scalpers.</blockquote> <p>Peterson is referring to <a href="http://www.fanfreedom.org/2011/05/new-york-gov-signs-paperless-ticket-ban-into-law/" target="_hplink">the paperless ticketing bill</a> that Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law in May of this year, which requires that all paperless tickets purchased for events in New York be "transferrable," meaning they could technically be resold by the customer. </p> <p>The bill seems to directly benefit services like <a href="http://StubHub.com" target="_hplink">StubHub</a>, which thrives off of customer resales. Under this law, professional brokers are able to gobble up hundreds of tickets and then resell them through sites like these. Ticketmaster's "paperless tickets" require the customer to verify their personal credit card when they claim their tickets at will call.</p> <p>On the other hand, Ticketmaster also happens to run a resale marketplace of their own. And this morning on TicketsNow, which Ticketmaster acquired for $265 million in February, 2008, <a href="http://www.ticketsnow.com/InventoryBrowse/Radiohead-Tickets-at-Roseland-Ballroom-in-New-York?PID=1185578" target="_hplink">you could still purchase some Radiohead tickets</a> for this week's shows. The cheapest ones ran for $1,242 each. </p> <p>So, you know, chump change.</p> <p>As of this afternoon, however, neither TicketsNow nor Ticketmaster had any tickets available.</p> <p><em>Check out some other irate Twitter responses below:</em></p> <p><HH--236SLIDEPOLLAJAX--191602--HH></p> '2 Broke Girls': Even Hipsters Deserve Better Than This tag:www.huffingtonpost.com,2011:/thenewswire//2.972079 2011-09-20T17:46:42Z 2011-11-20T09:12:02Z After watching the first five minutes of "2 Broke Girls," the new multi-camera sitcom from Sex and the City producer Michael Patrick King and in-demand... Lucas Kavner http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lucas-kavner/ <p>After watching the first five minutes of "2 Broke Girls," the new multi-camera sitcom from Sex and the City producer Michael Patrick King and in-demand comedienne Whitney Cummings, I tried to imagine the pitch meeting that convinced CBS to produce this show.</p> <p>PRODUCER: So there's this really urban girl, tough as nails, doesn't take crap from anyone. And then she meets this Paris Hilton-type girl, used to be super rich, but her family lost all their money, so now she has to work at a diner.</p> <p>NETWORK: Interesting. Can the diner be in a 'cool' part of the city? We want to attract young people.</p> <p>PRODUCER: For sure. We can put the diner in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Williamsburg is the cool part of Brooklyn. We can call it the Williamsburg Diner.</p> <p>NETWORK: And then what?</p> <p>PRODUCER: And then the two girls live together.</p> <p>NETWORK: Great. And what kind of tone are you thinking?</p> <p>PRODUCER: We're thinking funny, cool, hip, and young.</p> <p>NETWORK: OK, we like that. But can it also be broad and for everyone?</p> <p>PRODUCER: Sure, but don't those two styles seem to contrast?</p> <p>NETWORK: No.</p> <p><em>(Everyone shakes hands)</em></p> <p>And that's pretty much the extent of "2 Broke Girls." Throughout the course of the pilot episode, our protagonists (played by Kat Dennings of "Thor" and "Nick and Norah" and newcomer Beth Behrs) utter a string of one-liners so forced that one can't believe they actually got past a team of young writers who live in a modern American city.</p> <p>Example quip to a hipster in the diner: "I wear knit caps because it's cold out, you wear knit caps because ColdPLAY." </p> <p>Along the way, we meet a host of ethnic stereotypes straight out of the dusty sitcom playbook. The Asian diner owner (played by Matthew Moy, complete with caricatured accent) is studying for his immigration test and the Russian cook Oleg (Jonathan Kite, ditto) wants to bone all of the waitresses. Former SNL player Garrett Morris plays the diner's cashier, who at one point remarks that Behrs' character is "workin' harder than Stephen Hawking trying to put on a pair of cufflinks." </p> <p>The whole package is unfortunate because Dennings makes for an especially appealing presence onscreen; she doesn't look like other young starlets her age and she's got the unaffected naturalism down pat. She's fun to watch, but this show gives her nothing to work with and no discernible emotional center.</p> <p>"I'm dead inside," she says at one point. Which, I guess, is supposed to make young people nod with understanding. </p> <p>It's an encouraging sign that the pilot was directed by James Burrows, who has helmed episodes of almost every great sitcom of the past 20 years -- "Friends," "Frasier," "NewsRadio," and "Cheers," are among his many credits -- but tonally, this thing is all over the place. It tries to expand on the Judd-Apatow-brand raunch of "Bridesmaids" while simultaneously bogging itself down with broad jokes and characters we thought were left in the 1980s. There's also something deeply unsettling about a raucous laugh track erupting after a line about a dry vagina.</p> <p>Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could, as a society, finally agree to ditch the sitcom laugh track once and for all? The studio laughers don't even sound like real human beings anymore, they sound more like reverberating computer-people from some metal room on a far off planet.</p> <p>"2 Broke Girls" isn't a slog to watch, and a couple jokes actually work quite nicely: A "Temple Grandin" reference was appreciated, and a sight gag at the end involving iced coffee and a horse fared well. </p> <p>Yet news that <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2011/may/20/news/sns-lat-fall-tv-season-are-witches-the-new-vampires-20110520" target="_hplink">the show apparently tested better than any other in CBS's "history"</a> makes me wonder what type of audience it was actually tested for. Perhaps if the team behind this new sitcom can figure out a tone for itself, things can be salvaged here. Dennings, especially, deserves better than this pilot episode. Heck, even hipsters deserve better.</p> <p><strong>WATCH:</strong></p> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://pshared.5min.com/Scripts/PlayerSeed.js?sid=577&width=548&height=398&colorPallet=%239FC5E8&companionPos=bottom&hasCompanion=true&relatedMode=2&relatedBottomHeight=60&videoControlDisplayColor=%23006699&autoStart=false&playList=517161919"></script> At 85 Years Old, Tony Bennett Sounds Better Than Ever tag:www.huffingtonpost.com,2011:/thenewswire//2.971118 2011-09-20T17:08:00Z 2011-11-20T09:12:02Z If I'm even half as spry and debonair as Tony Bennett when I'm 85 years old, I'll be a happy man. The American icon outdid... Lucas Kavner http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lucas-kavner/ <p>If I'm even half as spry and debonair as Tony Bennett when I'm 85 years old, I'll be a happy man.</p> <p>The American icon outdid himself Sunday night in New York City, coasting through renditions of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," "The Good Life," and a moving a cappella version of "Fly Me To The Moon," which he sang alone, sans microphone, to cap off the night.</p> <p>The showman -- whose new album, <em>Duets II</em>, is already number one in 10 countries and was released today in the U.S. -- strutted onto the grand Metropolitan Opera House stage for his birthday concert, where Robert De Niro, Katie Couric, Mitch Winehouse, both Hilary and Bill Clinton, and Whoopi Goldberg were among the guests. </p> <p>President Clinton provided a surprise introduction to the show, praising Bennett's singularity in the music business, and even giving a shout out to his painting skills. You can find a “Benedetto? original in each of the Clinton’s homes. </p> <p>On Bennett’s new album his vocals are flanked by an orchestra, and the broader string instruments tend to take center stage. Performing live, however, Bennett needed only a tight four-piece jazz band, stripped down and complementary; his voice the main attraction.</p> <p>"I'm so happy to be here," Bennett said repeatedly, his arms outstretched. And the crowd responded in kind, erupting in rapturous applause countless times throughout the performance, even, at times, midway through songs. At one point, Bennett merely shuffled his feet and spun around, and the applause lasted a good 10 seconds.</p> <p>Speaking with The Huffington Post on Monday, Bennett said that was his favorite part of the job.</p> <p>"When I know the audience feels happy, it makes me feel so content," he said. “That’s why I do this.?</p> <p>After the show -- which included special appearances from Elton John, Alejandro Sanz, and a showstopper from a very healthy Aretha Franklin -- a gala dinner was held at Lincoln Center in honor of <a href="http://www.exploringthearts.org/" target="_hplink">Exploring the Arts</a>, the non-profit Bennett founded with his wife, Susan Crow, to benefit arts education. Alec Baldwin hosted the event, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alec-baldwin/alec-baldwin-emmys_b_970323.html?ir=Culture" target="_hplink">bypassing the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles</a>, where he was nominated for Best Actor in a Comedy Series (which ended up going to Jim Parsons for “Big Bang Theory?). Baldwin said he could watch them on YouTube tomorrow with everyone else. Tonight, he was there for Tony.</p> <p>"You sound beautiful, man," Baldwin told Bennett at the gala. "You sound so beautiful."</p> <p>As one who has appreciated Bennett from a distance, but never personally responded to his music, watching him command the stage with grace, talent and a clear appreciation for his audience was eye-opening. Here's a guy who, after all these years, still hits every note he aims for, and you feel every word he sings. Is it possible he sounds better now than he ever has?</p> <p>And somehow, he shows no signs of slowing down.</p> <p>"You should always keep going," he said. "I like that philosophy. Because the people that I've met, that retired, they regretted it. They’re looking at a wall and they don’t know what to do with themselves.?</p> <p>But what's the secret for staying so damn healthy? To the point where, at 85, he can not only sing, but dance and hold high notes and stay out late and look good in a suit?</p> <p>"I had great training," he said. "My teachers were magnificent. I still live by what they taught me at school, at the American Theatre Wing. They taught me the proper way to handle yourself and your voice on and offstage."</p> <p>Nowadays, Bennett juggles multiple projects at once, and he's even taking up sculpture, receiving lessons from a private teacher in his home art studio.</p> <p>Though Bennett has had his share of struggles -- we forget that he practically disappeared from the spotlight for over a decade as he struggled with tax and drug problems and a changing musical landscape -- he's now deeply proud of his career, and his unwavering devotion to the classics. When other contemporaries changed with the times, Bennett kept his tailored suit on, his hair combed tight, and continued to sing whatever he felt like.</p> <p>"I never compromised," he said. "I always said: Never do something just for a quick buck. Even if a song isn't a hit, it was well written with great musicians -- that's been the premise. And at 85 it's just starting to pay off."</p> <p>Bennett's album is out today on Sony music. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/20/tony-bennett-lady-gaga-lady-is-a-tramp-duets-ii_n_971620.html" target="_hplink">Listen to his duet with Lady Gaga here</a>, and click through some photos his granddaughter, Kelsey Bennett, took of him, on display now at the <a href="https://www.morrisonhotelgallery.com/set/default.aspx?setID=1768" target="_hplink">Morrison Hotel Gallery</a> in New York.</p> <p><HH--236SLIDEPOLLAJAX--191121--HH><br /> </p> In The Hollywood Remake Factory, Is Nothing Sacred? tag:www.huffingtonpost.com,2011:/thenewswire//2.969516 2011-09-19T13:55:00Z 2011-11-19T09:12:01Z At a screening in New York City last week, one coming attraction looked so ridiculous, so utterly bizarre and confounding in its tone and delivery,... Lucas Kavner http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lucas-kavner/ <p>At a screening in New York City last week, one coming attraction looked so ridiculous, so utterly bizarre and confounding in its tone and delivery, that one audience member actually let loose an audible "No!" when the title was flashed at the end. </p> <p>That preview was for <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtjI6OHVk00" target="_hplink">an upcoming remake of "Footloose," </a> the campy, melodramatic rock musical from the 1980s. This new version is only the latest addition to the seemingly endless line of studio remakes and reboots, which have left many audience members scratching their heads, but seem to entice film executives to the point where every property is fair game.</p> <p>What audience is this "Footloose" remake actually for? Have older fans of the film been waiting on baited breath for a fresh new look at a Kevin Bacon pop classic? Is a new interpretation of the classic even remotely necessary?</p> <p>That's not really the point, says Mike Fleming, the film editor of Deadline, <a href="http://www.deadline.com/hollywood/" target="_hplink">a prominent film business blog</a>. The point is: we already know the name. And that's half the battle.</p> <p>"Studios are fixated on the idea of pre-sold or recognizable brands," Fleming told HuffPost. "And sometimes they rely too much on those brands. But it's still much easier to make a buck on." </p> <p>And it's the power of already-established brands -- what studio execs refer to as "brand equity" -- that drives the staggering number of film remakes and reboots currently into development. </p> <p>Fleming doesn't feel there's anything wrong with rebooting something like "Footloose" or, in the same vein, "Dirty Dancing" -- <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/08/dirty-dancing-remake-kenny-ortega-direct_n_921730.html" target="_hplink">currently on the slate for 2013, </a>to be directed by Kenny Ortega -- for a new generation. </p> <p>"I think a lot of people have great memories of certain films," Fleming says. "But then if you go back and watch them ... they're old films now, you know? They don't hold up. So why not bring a film like this back?"</p> <p>For older audiences, the title already means something to them (for better or worse, depending on your personal "Footloose" opinion), and for younger audiences, it's simply a new dance film about hot teenagers at a time when campy musical things are in vogue. A brand like "Footloose" has already been tested, and that's much more appealing to studios than an original concept.</p> <p>At a time when "Hollywood's dream factory," <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/jan/02/hollywood-remakes-sequels-weinstein" target="_hplink">as the <em>Guardian</em> put it at the beginning of this year,</a> is "beset by spiralling marketing costs and a pinched bottom line," studios are retreating even farther into the land of remakes and recognizable brands.</p> <p>Right now, at least 30 remakes of 1980s films are currently in some stage of production, as well as countless other action and comic book reboots. According to <a href="http://pro.imdb.com/name/nm0000175/" target="_hplink">the slate available on IMDBPro</a> (subscription required) pretty much all of Stephen King's back catalogue is about to get remade, with new versions of "Carrie," "It" and "Pet Semetary" in the works. </p> <p>A remake of the ridiculous-slash-brilliant early 90s surfing bank robbers movie, "Point Break," was recently announced (<a href="http://www.craveonline.com/film/articles/174222-point-break-remake-announced-outrage-ensues" target="_hplink">to the dismay of its many fans</a>) as were new versions of "Total Recall," "Robocop" and "Top Gun." Then there's the recent "Planet of the Apes" and "Tron" reboots, and both "Spiderman" and "Superman" are about to receive further makeovers just a few years after they were first revived. </p> <p>In 2010,<a href="http://boxofficemojo.com/yearly/chart/?yr=2010&p=.htm" target="_hplink"> only four of the top 10 grossing films were even marginally original properties</a> -- Christopher Nolan's mind-bending "Inception" and the animated "Tangled," "How To Train Your Dragon," and "Despicable Me." The rest were sequels or remakes of already tested brands. And if we're being honest, out of all the "original" films, only "Inception" was not adapted from a book or classic fable. </p> <p>This weekend another dust-off of a classic film hit theaters. "Straw Dogs," the 1971 Sam Peckinpah thriller starring Dustin Hoffman, was one of the most controversial films of its time. Now a new version, directed by Rod Lurie and starring a very-not-Dustin-Hoffman actor, James Marsden, <a href="http://www.movieline.com/2011/06/is-this-new-straw-dogs-poster-for-real.php" target="_hplink">even uses the original film's poster image</a> in its marketing materials. </p> <p>This new "Dogs" <a href="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/straw-dogs-2011/" target="_hplink">garnered middling reviews</a>, with most critics agreeing that the subtlety and art of Peckinpah's film has been glossed over, replaced with a modern cinema sheen. Rather than shedding any new light on this particular story, the film seems to be an example of Hollywood simply jumping on a popular genre -- the torturous thrills of the "Saw" series come to mind -- and finding an older film that fit the bill. </p> <p>The film tanked, earning just $5 million, with a per-theater average of about $2,100. </p> <p>Marsden, <a href="http://blog.moviefone.com/2011/09/14/james-marsden-straw-dogs/" target="_hplink">speaking with Moviefone last week</a>, said that the only thing you need to think about when making a film -- remake or not -- is that it's good. </p> <p>"If you make a good film, all is forgiven," he said, but then added: "It depends on the movie, I guess. If you are remaking 'Gone with the Wind,' you have your work cut out for you."</p> <p>Which is an interesting thought: What's stopping a studio from remaking "Gone With The Wind," or any other classic film for that matter? Why not just take the entire American Film Institute list of the 100 Greatest Films Of All Time and go down the list, one by one? The Weinsteins <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/16/shakespeare-in-love-2-weinstein-miramax-sequels_n_797685.html" target="_hplink">recently garnered attention</a> after they mentioned an interest in producing "Shakespeare in Love 2;" perhaps we've only seen the beginning of what Hollywood is willing to remake.</p> <p>"I can't imagine anyone would remake 'The Godfather,' " said Deadline's Fleming. "But if they thought they could make a buck, I suppose it could happen."</p> <p>"Godfather 3-D" starring Zac Efron and Robert Pattinson, anyone? </p> <p>Then again, judging from the reactions to "Straw Dogs," and even the disappointing response to the reboot of "Conan the Barbarian," which <a href="http://www.deadline.com/2011/08/autopsy-report-lgs-conan-the-barbarian/" target="_hplink">also faired poorly at the box office,</a> perhaps studios will take Marsden's advice to heart: if you're going to remake a classic, at least try to make it good. </p> <p>Otherwise it's going to vanish faster than you can say "Kramer Vs. Kramer 2: The Explosioning."<br /> </p> New Horror Flick 'Creature' Breaks Box Office Records (UPDATE) tag:www.huffingtonpost.com,2011:/thenewswire//2.958969 2011-09-12T20:26:12Z 2011-11-12T09:12:02Z This post has been updated to include Sidney Sheinberg's comments to The Huffington Post. If a movie opens, and nobody is around to see it,... The Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lucas-kavner/ <p><em>This post has been updated to include Sidney Sheinberg's comments to The Huffington Post.</em></p> <p>If a movie opens, and nobody is around to see it, does it make any money? </p> <p>"Creature," a low-budget horror film from first-time director Fred Andrews, was independently financed and released last weekend nationwide. An average of six people watched each showing across the country, giving the film the fifth lowest opening weekend box office gross on record for a film in nationwide release, with a total of $331,000 in ticket sales. <a href="http://boxofficemojo.com/news/?id=3270&p=.htm" target="_hplink">Box Office Mojo</a> noted that it's the worst opening in box office history for a film that opened in more than 1,500 theaters.</p> <p>It's likely you've never even heard of "Creature," and that's probably because there were no print or television advertisements, and most of the marketing was carried out guerrilla-style, <a href="http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/10/it-came-out-of-the-viral-media-swamp/" target="_hplink">according to the <em>New York Times</em></a>, with ads on Fandango and horror film site, <a href="http://bloody-disgusting.com/" target="_hplink">Bloody Disgusting</a>. </p> <p>We're left to wonder: with no star names attached, no discernible marketing budget, and a throwback horror plot, what were the producers really hoping for? </p> <p>Speaking with the Huffington Post on Monday, Sidney J. Sheinberg, the 76-year-old lead producer on the film, explained that he had every indication that this experiment in distribution would pay off. Advance word on the film from test audiences was positive, and the film's website had received over a million clicks in the weeks leading up to its release. </p> <p>"We wanted to find out can you open a picture on a profitable basis, without incurring costs that quite frankly are embarrassing," he said. "This is a film I wanted to see us make, in the category of something we could afford to do and finance ourselves."</p> <p>Sheinberg is widely credited as being responsible for ushering a young Steven Spielberg into the film industry, and he supported countless other classic films during his tenure as president of MCA, Inc. Today, Sheinberg serves as the vice chairman of <a href="http://www.hrw.org/" target="_hplink">Human Rights Watch</a>, and co-runs a production company called "The Bubble Factory," with his sons, Bill and Jonathan. The Bubble Factory was also responsible for such films as "McHale's Navy," "The Pest," and the remake of "Flipper," among others.</p> <p>He <a href="http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/10/it-came-out-of-the-viral-media-swamp/" target="_hplink">told the <em>Times</em> last week </a>that the company would release "Creature" independent of any major studio backing, working directly with theater chains like AMC and Regal to distribute the film. </p> <p>“To market this too seriously,? he told the <em>Times</em>, “would be an act of stupidity I hope I’m not capable of.?</p> <p>Marketing aside, the critics were almost unanimously unenthused. The film netted an <a href="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/creature_2011/" target="_hplink">11% rating on Rotten Tomatoes,</a> with <em>Boxoffice Magazine</em> calling it <a href="http://www.boxofficemagazine.com/reviews/2011-09-creature" target="_hplink">"as uninspired as its generic title" </a>and Cole Smithey <a href="http://www.colesmithey.com/capsules/2011/09/creature.html" target="_hplink">suggesting</a> the film should have certainly gone straight to DVD. However, a couple of critics, <a href="http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-capsules-20110909,0,2062789.story" target="_hplink">Mark Olsen of the <em>Los Angeles Times</em> among them, </a>found the film "delightfully dopey" -- a throwback to goofy horror flicks that aren't made anymore. </p> <p>Sheinberg said he's obviously disappointed with the reaction that the film has received, but the distribution experiment was important, and he still believes that the film has merit.</p> <p>"I think it's a good story and a good yarn," he said. "But if you hate it, you hate it."</p> <p><strong>WATCH the film's trailer below:</strong></p> <p><object width="560" height="345"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/0wFLRbkzWxo?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/0wFLRbkzWxo?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="345" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object></p> <p><br /> </p> New Horror Flick 'Creature' Breaks Box Office Records (UPDATE) tag:www.huffingtonpost.com,2011:/thenewswire//2.958969 2011-09-12T20:26:12Z 2011-11-12T09:12:02Z This post has been updated to include Sidney Sheinberg's comments to The Huffington Post. If a movie opens, and nobody is around to see it,... The Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lucas-kavner/ <p><em>This post has been updated to include Sidney Sheinberg's comments to The Huffington Post.</em></p> <p>If a movie opens, and nobody is around to see it, does it make any money? </p> <p>"Creature," a low-budget horror film from first-time director Fred Andrews, was independently financed and released last weekend nationwide. An average of six people watched each showing across the country, giving the film the fifth lowest opening weekend box office gross on record for a film in nationwide release, with a total of $331,000 in ticket sales. <a href="http://boxofficemojo.com/news/?id=3270&p=.htm" target="_hplink">Box Office Mojo</a> noted that it's the worst opening in box office history for a film that opened in more than 1,500 theaters.</p> <p>It's likely you've never even heard of "Creature," and that's probably because there were no print or television advertisements, and most of the marketing was carried out guerrilla-style, <a href="http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/10/it-came-out-of-the-viral-media-swamp/" target="_hplink">according to the <em>New York Times</em></a>, with ads on Fandango and horror film site, <a href="http://bloody-disgusting.com/" target="_hplink">Bloody Disgusting</a>. </p> <p>We're left to wonder: with no star names attached, no discernible marketing budget, and a throwback horror plot, what were the producers really hoping for? </p> <p>Speaking with the Huffington Post on Monday, Sidney J. Sheinberg, the 76-year-old lead producer on the film, explained that he had every indication that this experiment in distribution would pay off. Advance word on the film from test audiences was positive, and the film's website had received over a million clicks in the weeks leading up to its release. </p> <p>"We wanted to find out can you open a picture on a profitable basis, without incurring costs that quite frankly are embarrassing," he said. "This is a film I wanted to see us make, in the category of something we could afford to do and finance ourselves."</p> <p>Sheinberg is widely credited as being responsible for ushering a young Steven Spielberg into the film industry, and he supported countless other classic films during his tenure as president of MCA, Inc. Today, Sheinberg serves as the vice chairman of <a href="http://www.hrw.org/" target="_hplink">Human Rights Watch</a>, and co-runs a production company called "The Bubble Factory," with his sons, Bill and Jonathan. The Bubble Factory was also responsible for such films as "McHale's Navy," "The Pest," and the remake of "Flipper," among others.</p> <p>He <a href="http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/10/it-came-out-of-the-viral-media-swamp/" target="_hplink">told the <em>Times</em> last week </a>that the company would release "Creature" independent of any major studio backing, working directly with theater chains like AMC and Regal to distribute the film. </p> <p>“To market this too seriously,? he told the <em>Times</em>, “would be an act of stupidity I hope I’m not capable of.?</p> <p>Marketing aside, the critics were almost unanimously unenthused. The film netted an <a href="http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/creature_2011/" target="_hplink">11% rating on Rotten Tomatoes,</a> with <em>Boxoffice Magazine</em> calling it <a href="http://www.boxofficemagazine.com/reviews/2011-09-creature" target="_hplink">"as uninspired as its generic title" </a>and Cole Smithey <a href="http://www.colesmithey.com/capsules/2011/09/creature.html" target="_hplink">suggesting</a> the film should have certainly gone straight to DVD. However, a couple of critics, <a href="http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-capsules-20110909,0,2062789.story" target="_hplink">Mark Olsen of the <em>Los Angeles Times</em> among them, </a>found the film "delightfully dopey" -- a throwback to goofy horror flicks that aren't made anymore. </p> <p>Sheinberg said he's obviously disappointed with the reaction that the film has received, but the distribution experiment was important, and he still believes that the film has merit.</p> <p>"I think it's a good story and a good yarn," he said. "But if you hate it, you hate it."</p> <p><strong>WATCH the film's trailer below:</strong></p> <p><object width="560" height="345"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/0wFLRbkzWxo?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/0wFLRbkzWxo?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="345" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object></p> <p><br /> </p> The Biggest Comedian You've Never Heard Of tag:www.huffingtonpost.com,2011:/thenewswire//2.950628 2011-09-06T16:46:27Z 2011-11-06T09:12:02Z The self-described "part troll" and musical comedian Bill Bailey has sold out arenas, graced the airwaves of basically every major television show in the U.K.... Lucas Kavner http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lucas-kavner/ <p>The self-described "part troll" and musical comedian <a href="http://www.billbailey.co.uk" target="_hplink">Bill Bailey</a> has sold out arenas, graced the airwaves of basically every major television show in the U.K. and won some of the most coveted comedy awards in the world, but chances are you've never heard his name before. </p> <p>"In a way, that's a very good position to be in," Bailey told HuffPost over the phone from Bali, where he was "up a tree looking at birds and avoiding crocodiles" while vacationing with his wife and 7-year-old son. </p> <p>The time off is well earned for one of the busiest performers in the U.K., a steadily rising star and classically trained musician who has been branding his patented mix of rock 'n' roll, comedy and theater since the early 1990s. He's twice been named <a href="http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-100-greatest-stand-ups/articles/greatest-stand-ups-of-all-time" target="_hplink">one of the top 10 stand-ups in history</a> by a U.K. Channel Four poll, and his legions of fans gobble up his mugs, T-shirts and albums by the truckload. But next week, for the first time in almost a decade, he'll bring his routine to the U.S. for a round of shows in New York, Chicago and Boston. (And one in Toronto, too.)</p> <p>"I've always wanted to come back to the states," Bailey said. "I would have leapt at the chance to come back every year, but realistically those things take a bit of time to set up."</p> <p>Like Ricky Gervais, Eddie Izzard and Steve Coogan before him, plenty of celebrated U.K. comedians have managed to make the often bumpy transition to stateside fame. Luckily Bailey has unique acting chops to boot, with spirited guest turns in U.K.'s "Skins" and the Simon Pegg, Nick Frost comedy, "Hot Fuzz." </p> <p>But stand-up is where his heart is, and his raucous live shows, comprised of an often indescribable amalgamation of video, guitar solos and classical-music-synthesizer-mash-up-philosophical-rants have made him a household name overseas.</p> <p>"Do we quite appreciate what we’ve got in Bill Bailey; how lucky we are he’s on the planet?" <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/comedy/6702547/Bill-Baileys-Remarkable-Guide-to-the-Orchestra-review.html" target="_hplink">wrote Dominic Cavendish in the <em>Telegraph</em></a> in 2009, as part of a five-star review for Bailey's show, "Bill Bailey's Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra." The <em>London Evening Standard</em> would agree, calling "Dandelion Mind" -- the show he will bring to the U.S. -- "absolute genius on so many levels." </p> <p>Though Bailey insists that no major changes will be made to the U.S version of "Dandelion Mind," he is aware that some elements of his show might not translate overseas. American audiences accustomed to Jerry Seinfeld might not respond as well to Bailey playing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" in the style of Kraftwerk. </p> <p>Still, he hopes they give his psychedelic style a shot. </p> <p>"I think audiences are pretty savvy," he said. "But there is certainly an element of having to prove yourself, to re-evaluate what you do."</p> <p>Bailey fondly remembers coming to the U.S. with his show, "Bewilderness," back in 2001, when it enjoyed a critically-acclaimed six-month run, and receiving some tips from the American comedian <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bb2_lSFqP-o" target="_hplink">Dom Irrera </a>about how to play to New York audiences. </p> <p>"Back home in London I would start the show with a haiku; I wouldn't even say hello or 'how's it going?' But when I started that way in [the states], these audiences would stare at me confused, so I had to sort of step back a little bit," he recalled. "Irrera told me: never be too hip for the room. You can have these highfalutin ideas with what you're going to do with the form, but you still have to be funny first."</p> <p>Bailey said he hopes American audiences who come out for "Dandelion Mind" will be a bit more familiar with his style this time around. Thanks to the magic of YouTube, thousands of Bill Bailey clips are now available online, and people can get a taste of what they're in for.</p> <p>"Everyone can see the stuff now," he said. "Every gig I've ever done, even in these little pubs, somebody's filmed it on a phone. You can pretty much see everything you want."</p> <p>When asked about any further hopes for Hollywood glory, Bailey joked that he could be the "next Jason Bourne." Or, at least, he said, "Jason's crazy neighbor." However, it's still the live performance that moves him the most. </p> <p>If anything else should come of that, he said, "so be it."</p> <p>Bailey will perform at NYC's Skirball Center September 14-17, and then will hit Chicago, Toronto and Boston. <a href="http://www.billbailey.co.uk/tour" target="_hplink">You can buy tickets here.</a></p> <p><strong>And check out a great clip of Bailey channeling U2 below:</strong></p> <p><object width="560" height="345"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/H8dZwXnMrRU?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/H8dZwXnMrRU?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="345" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object></p> Amy Sedaris Wants You To Come Over tag:www.huffingtonpost.com,2011:/thenewswire//2.945028 2011-09-02T12:00:27Z 2011-11-02T09:12:01Z Amy Sedaris does what she wants these days. The North Carolina-bred writer and performer has had her hands in everything from offbeat, Canadian television to... Lucas Kavner http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lucas-kavner/ <p>Amy Sedaris does what she wants these days. The North Carolina-bred writer and performer has had her hands in everything from offbeat, Canadian television to classic stage plays, though she's still best known for portraying the perpetually grotesque and hilarious high school student and ex-junkie Jerri Blank -- heroine of the cult comedy, "Strangers with Candy," which she co-created with Mitch Rouse, Paul Dinello and Stephen Colbert in the late 90s. </p> <p>In the past, Sedaris has said she feels more free when performing as someone else, embracing flawed and uniquely damaged characters other female performers might not touch with a 10 foot pole. Recently, however, she's been getting a bit more personal, tapping into a deep-seated love she'd always held close.</p> <p>Her first book, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Like-You-Hospitality-Under-Influence/dp/B002NSLMS6/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1" target="_hplink">"I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence"</a> -- which taught us how to throw a dinner party for lumberjacks, among other things -- was released in 2006 and stayed on the <em>New York Times </em>bestseller list for three months, while her second, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Simple-Times-Crafts-Poor-People/dp/044655703X/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_2" target="_hplink">"Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People!"</a> came out last year. Her child-friendly decorating style was <a href="http://nymag.com/homedesign/spring2011/amy-sedaris-2011-5/" target="_hplink">further featured in <em>New York Magazine</em> last May</a>, where she discussed, for one, her fondness for "prosthetic skin disorders, artificial nails, and stage weapons."</p> <p>But on Sept. 9, the prolific Sedaris will put on her Serious Acting Hat again, appearing as a dorm mother in the indie boarding school flick "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/12/tanner-hall-trailer_n_925428.html" target="_hplink">Tanner Hall</a>," starring Rooney Mara.</p> <p>She spoke to The Huffington Post about the joys of watching other people cry, her hatred of hearts and her next dream project.</p> <p><strong>You started shooting 'Tanner Hall' back in 2007. Is it weird to talk about it now, like it's a brand new thing for you?</strong></p> <p><strong>Amy Sedaris:</strong> I know, right? It's so strange, after all these years. I'm like, "Tanner Hall"? Oh, right. Yes, I hope I can answer some of these questions for you.</p> <p><strong>What drew you to this project originally?</strong></p> <p><strong>AS:</strong> I knew I was going to work with Chris Kattan, and I'd never met Chris Kattan and I always liked him on SNL, so I thought: perfect. He'll be my husband, and that'll be fun. Plus it had two female directors, which was really interesting to me. They seemed really passionate about the story. And we shot it in Provincetown when "American Gangster" came out in the theaters, so I just went and saw that a bunch of times.</p> <p><strong>You've said in past interviews that memorizing other people's lines seems weird to you. Is it still weird?</strong></p> <p><strong>AS:</strong> Yeah, I think it's still kind of weird to memorize a line, because you're supposed to "be" this person, you know? So then its like, if I'm really this person how can I be in the moment if I know there's just one line I'm supposed to say? It doesn't feel natural. I always just kind of want to say whatever comes up. Luckily [the directors] would always encourage improv, so that was fun.</p> <p><strong>Do you still feel more comfortable performing comedy over drama?</strong></p> <p><strong>AS:</strong> Yeah, I prefer a line to get a laugh. Like a crew or whatever, I always want to feed off that energy. But then I guess the things that I watch or read are much more drama-based. I like to watch other people cry, see them go through some personal pain.</p> <p><strong>So you don't gravitate toward things that are labeled "funny" right off the bat?</strong></p> <p><strong>AS:</strong> No, that’s a big turn off for me. Like if on the backside of a book it says, "This is hilarious!" I'm like, ugh. But if it has the word, "psychiatric," I'll buy it. </p> <p><strong>You've done so much in the past 10 years. Do you like bouncing from project to project all the time?</strong></p> <p><strong>AS:</strong> I always like to try different things, get my own projects going, get my own people involved in it. It comes from people not thinking I’m right for anything else, and the fact that I just don't think I'm capable of doing what other people want me to do. I still prefer to do something with a character, because it feels more like you're playing. When the [character is] just supposed to look like you and you're you, it's like, what fun is that? </p> <p><strong>But you always seem so natural and funny when you're playing "yourself" on Letterman. Are you just really nervous on the inside?</strong></p> <p><strong>AS:</strong> Sure, I still get nervous, I still get anxious. It's Letterman, you know, it's David <em>Letterman</em>, and he appreciates it when you're prepared. The minute you get out of the chair, you're working on the next time you do his show. They only have an hour with the audience and you just want to try to do the best you can. And I'm not a good storyteller. I always think I'm going to get interrupted or something's going to get edited. I think that comes from being in a large family so you have to get your story in really quick or someone cuts you off.</p> <p><strong>You've got a couple more TV projects you're working on. What are you most excited about?</strong></p> <p><strong>AS:</strong> My hospitality show. Hopefully that’s coming up. It's going to be like [my] books. I would take it seriously, but hopefully it would have some humor to it. Lots of cooking, decorating, crafting. I grew up with "At Home with Peggy Mann," this [public access] show in North Carolina. It was all in black and white, and she never introduced herself. They had an exterior shot of a postcard -- this huge white, colonial house. I want to do something like that, where people come into my home like they're looking through a peephole or something. It's going to be my retirement show; I think I'm ready for it. </p> <p><strong>Have you re-watched any episodes of "At Home With Peggy Mann" to see if it holds up?</strong></p> <p><strong>AS:</strong> I followed up with <a href="http://www.wral.com/" target="_hplink">WRAL</a>, [the channel that] aired it, and I guess they taped over all the tapes. They never saved them. But I talked about Peggy Mann in the press before, and somebody actually sent me part of an episode they'd had. I don't know why this person had it but that's the only thing that I know exists. A fisherman comes over to Peggy's house. Or something.</p> <p><strong>Your brother, David, writes a lot about you and your family. Is it ever strange that people know so much about your personal history from his stories?</strong></p> <p><strong>AS:</strong> [David] always makes us sound good. He hasn’t said anything that’s embarrassed me. He'll send us a story sometimes and say, "Are you OK with this?" It doesn't bother any of us, really. But I sometimes forget other people have read the books and they're sitting and looking at you in a weird way, and you wonder what's going on.</p> <p><strong>I heard you don't like seeing hearts on any of your sets. Is that true?</strong></p> <p><strong>AS:</strong> Yes, they're my least favorite shape. I don't like them. Like, when someone's writing a letter and they put a heart instead of a dot. I'm always, like: can you change that to be a mushroom instead? </p> <p><strong>Finally, a friend of mine has a very distinct memory of meeting you in a bathroom when she was about fourteen and you offered her a cupcake. You were also dressed as an Amish person. Do you remember the context of this encounter?</strong></p> <p><strong>AS:</strong> Hm. Maybe it was during "The Book of Liz?"<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Book-Liz-David-Sedaris-Amy/dp/0822218275/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_4" target="_hplink"> [the play she and David wrote together which was produced off-Broadway in 2001]</a>. I sold cupcakes during that show. But I don't know why I would have offered her one [in the bathroom]. I think there's a big puzzle piece missing here. I bet she was trying to kill herself and I was trying to save her. Or maybe she was a he, and I had wandered into the men's bathroom and I offered her a cupcake because it was uncomfortable. There's got to be a reason.</p> <p>"Tanner Hall" opens September 9 in select cities. </p> <p><strong>WATCH</strong> the trailer below:</p> <p><object width="575" height="323"><param name="movie" value="http://www.hulu.com/aol/http%3A%2F%2Fvideo.aol.com%2Fvideo-detail%2Fmovie-trailers-tanner-hall%2F1524254611/embed/k8UOOyR42lksbHOyZRWnSQ"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><embed src="http://www.hulu.com/aol/http%3A%2F%2Fvideo.aol.com%2Fvideo-detail%2Fmovie-trailers-tanner-hall%2F1524254611/embed/k8UOOyR42lksbHOyZRWnSQ" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="575" height="323" allowFullScreen="true"></embed></object><br /> </p> How Social Media Has Helped 'The Help' tag:www.huffingtonpost.com,2011:/thenewswire//2.942197 2011-08-30T18:42:19Z 2011-10-30T09:12:02Z Summer movies tend to explode onto the scene in their opening weekends and then slowly peter off, giving way to the next weekend's blockbuster sequel... Lucas Kavner http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lucas-kavner/ <p>Summer movies tend to explode onto the scene in their opening weekends and then slowly peter off, giving way to the next weekend's blockbuster sequel or brand name. It's rare that a film holds on to the number one slot for more than a week, and even rarer if that film contains no explosions or animated, singing animals.</p> <p>"The Help," however, has benefited enormously from positive word-of-mouth and shout outs from social networking sites. It currently stands <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/29/us-boxoffice-idUSTRE77R1X020110829" target="_hplink">only a few notches away</a> from the $100 million mark. </p> <p>The film already had a built-in fan base, given that it was based on Kathryn Stockett's best-selling novel. Yet its staying power can be largely attributed to fans tweeting and posting Facebook statuses that lauded the film's resonance and quoted its lead characters.</p> <p>"Typically, in the past, these kinds of conversations would have taken place around a water cooler," said Ben Carlson of <a href="http://fizziolo.gy/" target="_hplink">Fizziolo.gy</a>, a leading social media trend-tracker for film studios and other brands. "This [information] used to be impossible to quantify. But now, because of social media, we're able to identify these things. And this is a movie that has people insisting that their friends check it out."</p> <p>According to Carlson, the only other film that has benefitted this much from social networking in the past few years is "The Blind Side," <a href="http://articles.cnn.com/2009-12-08/entertainment/wordofmouth.movies.critics_1_movie-box-office-blind-side?_s=PM:SHOWBIZ" target="_hplink">which also saw a surge in popularity in the weeks following its initial release</a>. Both films are being framed as "inspirational" dramas, with many fans posting their emotional responses to the film. </p> <p>"Like ['The Help'], 'Blind Side' ended up having long legs, and doing better in its second and third weeks," he said. "They were both similarly loved by audiences across the country."</p> <p>Interestingly, "The Blind Side" and "The Help" found substantial support at theaters outside of major cities. "The Blind Side," for instance, <a href="http://www.chron.com/entertainment/article/South-Midwest-help-The-Blind-Side-score-at-the-1621151.php" target="_hplink">was most successful</a> at movie theaters in Sacramento, Dallas, Birmingham, and Nashville. Both films also share some rather concrete sociological similarities, and have faced similar criticism in that arena.</p> <p><a href="http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20516492,00.htm" target="_hplink">Martha Southgate over at <em>Entertainment Weekly </em>blasted "The Help"</a> for dealing with the civil rights era in what she believed was a frivolous manner. </p> <p>“Implicit in 'The Help'...is the notion that a white character is somehow crucial or even necessary to tell this particular tale of black liberation," she wrote. "Suffice it to say that these stories are more likely to get the green light and to have more popular appeal (and often acclaim) if they have white characters up front. That’s a shame.?</p> <p>The <em>Village Voice</em>'s Melissa Anderson <a href="http://www.villagevoice.com/2009-11-17/film/saintly-white-people-do-the-saving-in-the-blind-side/" target="_hplink">expressed similar opinions</a> about "The Blind Side" back in 2009, exclaiming that the film "peddles the most insidious kind of racism" and paints white characters as the virtuous saviors, "coming to the rescue of African-Americans who become superfluous in narratives that are supposed to be about them."</p> <p>Fizziolo.gy reports that "The Blind Side" had an 84% increase in social media volume -- the number of mentions the film received on social media outlets -- during the initial week of its release, while "The Help" had a very similar 81% increase during its release week. </p> <p>"The Help" will likely pass the $100 million mark this week, and doesn't have much competition from new releases this weekend. Box office experts predict that the film will retain the top slot. </p> <p>Over in book land, the print and E-book formats of "The Help" continue to top the bestseller lists.</p> <p><strong>Below: a collection of recent tweets about "The Help."</strong></p> <p><HH--236SLIDEPOLLAJAX--189427--HH><br /> </p> Does MTV's 'Best Video With A Message' Category Make Any Sense? tag:www.huffingtonpost.com,2011:/thenewswire//2.939877 2011-08-29T00:30:42Z 2011-10-28T09:12:01Z UPDATE: Lady Gaga was awarded "Best Video With A Message" for "Born This Way." The award, as HuffPost Entertainment points out on their liveblog, was... Lucas Kavner http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lucas-kavner/ <p><em><b>UPDATE: Lady Gaga was awarded "Best Video With A Message" for "Born This Way." The award, as <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/28/vmas-2011-mtv-video-music-awards-live-blog_n_939831.html#13_award" target="_hplink">HuffPost Entertainment points out</a> on their liveblog, was "appropriately buried in the red carpet coverage."</b></em></p> <p><a href="http://www.mtv.com/ontv/vma/2011/" target="_hplink">MTV's Video Music Awards</a> airs live tonight from the Nokia Theater in hurricane-free Los Angeles, and, naturally, crazy antics should be expected (according to producers, anyway. According to us, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1z8gCZ7zpsQ" target="_hplink">this</a> is the only unscripted "crazy" thing that's happened at the VMAs in years).</p> <p>This year, MTV will also make an attempt to tug at our heartstrings at the ceremony, premiering a brand new <a href="http://www.mtv.com/ontv/vma/2011/best-video-with-a-message/" target="_hplink">"Best Video With a Message" category,</a> which aims to award artists who dug deep into their souls and took a stand against something or other.</p> <p>"During the past year, we've seen a remarkable number of artists use their music to explore deeply personal experiences and issues they were passionate about to create powerful videos that resonated with and inspired millions of their fans," MTV president Stephen Friedman said in a statement earlier this month.</p> <p>Let's take a look at the nominees.</p> <p>The band, Rise Against, who <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tim-mcilrath/make-it-stop_b_880966.html" target="_hplink">premiered their video for "Make It Stop (September's Children)" here on The Huffington Post</a>, are nominated in the category. A close friend of the band's lead singer inspired the song, which was aimed at gay teenagers who'd been pushed to suicide by bullying. The band teamed up with the "It Gets Better" campaign to produce the video and, out of all the nominees, it's the only one that contains any sort of specific "message." But seeing as you're probably a unique, living and breathing human being, you can take whatever you'd like from it. </p> <p>In addition to "Make it Stop," Eminem and Rihanna are nominated for "Love The Way You Lie," which MTV explains, on their <a href="http://www.mtv.com/ontv/vma/2011/best-video-with-a-message/" target="_hplink">website</a>, is about the "pain and peril of domestic violence."</p> <p>In this song, Eminem raps about physically abusing the woman he loves and then asking her to forgive him, because the next time he's pissed off at her he'll just aim his fist "at the drywall." Before Rihanna's final refrain, where she basically admits she's going to stay with him because she loves the way he lies, Em raps:</p> <p>"I apologize even though i know its lies / I’m tired of the games, I just want her back / I know I'm a liar if she ever tries to fuckin’ leave again / I'ma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire."</p> <p>Now, Eminem can say whatever he wants, but are we really going to reward him for having a message, here? Yes, domestic violence is horrible, but it's safe to say this song didn't have one clear "moral" that the two artists wished to clearly come across. It's not written in the lyrics, anyway.</p> <p>Other nominees include Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," Katy Perry's "Firework, Pink's "F****** Perfect," and Taylor Swift's "Mean," which all, in some way or another, contain some of the most blatantly ubiquitous convictions in modern pop music. </p> <p>According to MTV, Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" promotes a "world free from prejudice, judgment and self-doubt," while Katy Perry's "Firework" celebrates the "spark and originality in all of us." Taylor Swift's "Mean," on the other hand, "cautions negative naysayers that being mean gets you nowhere."</p> <p>Certainly there's nothing wrong with rewarding artists who release music based on personal convictions, but isn't that kind of par for the course? If, as MTV president Friedman said, he wanted to "reward" these artists for digging into their personal experiences to create powerful songs, did we really need to point out exactly what message they were trying to get across?</p> <p>The most powerful songs in history come from "deeply personal" experiences. In fact, every original song is personal. The lyrics come from somebody's brain and are based around either specific or universal experiences and then, in turn, inspire personal feelings in the listener. That's... what a song is.</p> <p>There's something oddly icky about MTV assigning more "meaning" to a song, as if Katy Perry's pop anthem about personal empowerment, which netted her millions of dollars, contains as powerful a "message" as a song from a rock band whose lead singer lost his close friend. Do we need MTV telling us we shouldn't be "mean" to other people? Does this even make sense anymore?</p> <p>Somehow this category rivals even the lamest of MTV decisions in recent years, a strange pander to the most common denominator of superfluousness. </p> Does MTV's 'Best Video With A Message' Category Make Any Sense? tag:www.huffingtonpost.com,2011:/thenewswire//2.939877 2011-08-29T00:30:42Z 2011-10-28T09:12:01Z UPDATE: Lady Gaga was awarded "Best Video With A Message" for "Born This Way." The award, as HuffPost Entertainment points out on their liveblog, was... Lucas Kavner http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lucas-kavner/ <p><em><b>UPDATE: Lady Gaga was awarded "Best Video With A Message" for "Born This Way." The award, as <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/28/vmas-2011-mtv-video-music-awards-live-blog_n_939831.html#13_award" target="_hplink">HuffPost Entertainment points out</a> on their liveblog, was "appropriately buried in the red carpet coverage."</b></em></p> <p><a href="http://www.mtv.com/ontv/vma/2011/" target="_hplink">MTV's Video Music Awards</a> airs live tonight from the Nokia Theater in hurricane-free Los Angeles, and, naturally, crazy antics should be expected (according to producers, anyway. According to us, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1z8gCZ7zpsQ" target="_hplink">this</a> is the only unscripted "crazy" thing that's happened at the VMAs in years).</p> <p>This year, MTV will also make an attempt to tug at our heartstrings at the ceremony, premiering a brand new <a href="http://www.mtv.com/ontv/vma/2011/best-video-with-a-message/" target="_hplink">"Best Video With a Message" category,</a> which aims to award artists who dug deep into their souls and took a stand against something or other.</p> <p>"During the past year, we've seen a remarkable number of artists use their music to explore deeply personal experiences and issues they were passionate about to create powerful videos that resonated with and inspired millions of their fans," MTV president Stephen Friedman said in a statement earlier this month.</p> <p>Let's take a look at the nominees.</p> <p>The band, Rise Against, who <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tim-mcilrath/make-it-stop_b_880966.html" target="_hplink">premiered their video for "Make It Stop (September's Children)" here on The Huffington Post</a>, are nominated in the category. A close friend of the band's lead singer inspired the song, which was aimed at gay teenagers who'd been pushed to suicide by bullying. The band teamed up with the "It Gets Better" campaign to produce the video and, out of all the nominees, it's the only one that contains any sort of specific "message." But seeing as you're probably a unique, living and breathing human being, you can take whatever you'd like from it. </p> <p>In addition to "Make it Stop," Eminem and Rihanna are nominated for "Love The Way You Lie," which MTV explains, on their <a href="http://www.mtv.com/ontv/vma/2011/best-video-with-a-message/" target="_hplink">website</a>, is about the "pain and peril of domestic violence."</p> <p>In this song, Eminem raps about physically abusing the woman he loves and then asking her to forgive him, because the next time he's pissed off at her he'll just aim his fist "at the drywall." Before Rihanna's final refrain, where she basically admits she's going to stay with him because she loves the way he lies, Em raps:</p> <p>"I apologize even though i know its lies / I’m tired of the games, I just want her back / I know I'm a liar if she ever tries to fuckin’ leave again / I'ma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire."</p> <p>Now, Eminem can say whatever he wants, but are we really going to reward him for having a message, here? Yes, domestic violence is horrible, but it's safe to say this song didn't have one clear "moral" that the two artists wished to clearly come across. It's not written in the lyrics, anyway.</p> <p>Other nominees include Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," Katy Perry's "Firework, Pink's "F****** Perfect," and Taylor Swift's "Mean," which all, in some way or another, contain some of the most blatantly ubiquitous convictions in modern pop music. </p> <p>According to MTV, Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" promotes a "world free from prejudice, judgment and self-doubt," while Katy Perry's "Firework" celebrates the "spark and originality in all of us." Taylor Swift's "Mean," on the other hand, "cautions negative naysayers that being mean gets you nowhere."</p> <p>Certainly there's nothing wrong with rewarding artists who release music based on personal convictions, but isn't that kind of par for the course? If, as MTV president Friedman said, he wanted to "reward" these artists for digging into their personal experiences to create powerful songs, did we really need to point out exactly what message they were trying to get across?</p> <p>The most powerful songs in history come from "deeply personal" experiences. In fact, every original song is personal. The lyrics come from somebody's brain and are based around either specific or universal experiences and then, in turn, inspire personal feelings in the listener. That's... what a song is.</p> <p>There's something oddly icky about MTV assigning more "meaning" to a song, as if Katy Perry's pop anthem about personal empowerment, which netted her millions of dollars, contains as powerful a "message" as a song from a rock band whose lead singer lost his close friend. Do we need MTV telling us we shouldn't be "mean" to other people? Does this even make sense anymore?</p> <p>Somehow this category rivals even the lamest of MTV decisions in recent years, a strange pander to the most common denominator of superfluousness. </p> The Secret Wizard Of Online Video tag:www.huffingtonpost.com,2011:/thenewswire//2.935252 2011-08-24T17:16:00Z 2011-10-24T09:12:01Z A few years ago, the Internet seemed like the true beacon of hope for any young sketch comedian with a camera and a dream. Video-makers... Lucas Kavner http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lucas-kavner/ <p>A few years ago, the Internet seemed like the true beacon of hope for any young sketch comedian with a camera and a dream. Video-makers like <a href="http://www.thelonelyisland.com/" target="_hplink">The Lonely Island</a> made it look easy for the next generation to simply post their funny, original videos to the vast servers of YouTube and suddenly find themselves gracing the airwaves at "Saturday Night Live."</p> <p>However, the over-abundance of online videos in recent years has made it harder for original content to stand out; the edge has gone to the real-life cats and rock n' roll kids and adorable Russian bear cubs of our time. Viral original content is much rarer, and the algorithm for success has grown hazy.</p> <p>Still, pioneers exist, and one man has been steadily putting together brilliant content since before you could say "Funny or Die" (though he now works for <a href="http://www.funnyordie.com/" target="_hplink">Funny or Die</a>). </p> <p>Scott Gairdner, who has been uploading videos to his personal YouTube account for over five years, has maintained his smart, irreverent style ever since posting his very first video -- a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWL6j0SvqV0" target="_hplink">fake trailer</a> for a movie based on Pac Man -- and hasn't let up since. Racking up millions of views and just as many fans, Gairdner is probably responsible for at least one of your favorite videos of the past few years. (He's responsible for <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Z2vU8M6CYI" target="_hplink">mine</a>, as a matter of fact.) And if, like most of America, you've never heard of him ... let us introduce you.</p> <p>HuffPost spoke to Gairdner about his favorite projects, his journey to the <a href="http://www.funnyordie.com/scottgairdner" target="_hplink">creative team at Funny or Die</a>, and how he nailed a killer Jesse Eisenberg impression.</p> <p><strong>Did you always want to work in sketch video content, or did you always consider it a path to something else?</strong></p> <p>Sketch comedy has always been my main fashion -- it's what I've always gravitated to, probably even more so than movies. And I like that there's a quick turnaround, so if you're kind of ADD, it's great. You can have so many irons in the fire. </p> <p><strong>You've been working at Funny or Die as a writer/performer/director/editor for a little over a year now. How did that job come about? </strong></p> <p>I've been there since May 2010. Before that, I'd never had any real presence on the site; I didn't even post videos there. But people who worked at the site started to see my videos -- actually a couple of them were <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/25/the-beatles-a-retrospecti_n_370614.html" target="_hplink">posted in The Huffington Post</a> -- and they said, "Start putting your stuff on the site and we'll feature it." So my videos made the rounds through people in the building, to the creative people, then people up top, and then the thing that really broke it was "Juggalo News," the Insane Clown Posse news parody. Adam McKay [who runs Funny or Die with Will Ferrell] tweeted about it, made it one of his favorites. Off of that I got to do more episodes for their HBO show, and then started working there [full time].</p> <p><object width="570" height="350"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/pkC7dcxZ5_Q?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/pkC7dcxZ5_Q?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="570" height="350" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object></p> <p><strong>What's the process for making videos over there? Do you base an idea around a celebrity or is it the other way around?</strong></p> <p>I guess it's both. I'd say the typical thing is: a celebrity comes in and everyone pitches them ideas around the table and then they sort of pick the one that fits them the best, makes most sense to them. But then a lot of stuff gets done where you have the idea and then we sort of ask, "Who can we attach to this to give it more viral potential?" I think I'm better at coming up with some crazy idea and building a new piece about it. </p> <p><strong>You do a pretty spot-on Jesse Eisenberg impression. But usually with Funny or Die videos, they try to get the actual celebrity, instead of using an impersonator. How did you get that gig?</strong></p> <p>I think everyone on staff is trying to be better at not being precious with ideas. Like, if you have an idea somewhat formed, just go do it. I'd always thought it'd be awesome if somebody cracked that [Eisenberg] impression, he has such a specific cadence. I tried it for one of my friends who works here and he was like, "That wasn't too bad," so then we really quickly came up with the premise for that <a href="http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/af30378455/never-before-seen-jesse-eisenberg-audition-for-127-hours" target="_hplink">"127 Hours" audition thing</a>, and then we filmed it the day we thought of it. And then there's the "Staying Positive" video which I actually like a lot more. </p> <center><iframe src="http://www.funnyordie.com/embed/bdd03eb870" width="512" height="328" frameborder="0"></iframe><div style="text-align:left;font-size:x-small;margin-top:0;width:512px;"><a href="http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/bdd03eb870/staying-positive-with-jesse-eisenberg" title="from Funny Or Die, Scott Gairdner, dannyjelinek, Brian Lane, and BoTown Sound">Staying Positive with Jesse Eisenberg</a> - watch more <a href="http://www.funnyordie.com/" title="on Funny or Die">funny videos</a> <iframe src="http://www.facebook.com/plugins/like.php?app_id=138711277798&href=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.funnyordie.com%2Fvideos%2Fbdd03eb870%2Fstaying-positive-with-jesse-eisenberg&send=false&layout=button_count&width=150&show_faces=false&action=like&height=21" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="border:none; overflow:hidden; width:90px; height:21px; vertical-align:middle;" allowTransparency="true"></iframe> </div></center> <p><strong>It seems like a pretty ideal situation for a comedic video-maker, having all those resources at your fingertips. </strong></p> <p>It's amazing. You can just go to a producer and say, "I need seven 13-year-old girls. Bring them to me and I'll figure out the rest." That was actually a very uncomfortable thing. I think the girls liked me when I was myself, but then the longer I was Jesse they started to really turn on me. There's an outtake where I'll start to talk, and they start playing this horrible jinx game. They started to get aggressively mean and ganging up on me. I might be more scared of middle school girls than I am of a celebrity.</p> <p><strong>Your most recent project, "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/07/tiny-fuppets-bizzare-muppet-babies-knockoff_n_920511.html" target="_hplink">Tiny Fuppets</a>," is a fake Portuguese knock-off of "Muppet Babies" and has taken the internet by storm. You made it independently of Funny or Die and released it on its own. Where did that idea come from?</strong></p> <p>Somebody showed me "<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aprX39RlR4&feature=channel_video_title">Ratatoing</a>," a Brazilian ripoff of "Ratatouille." It's made by this company called <a href="http://www.youtube.com/user/VideoBrinquedo" target="_hplink">Video Brinquedo</a>, which actually translates to "Toyland Video." So through that I found this YouTube rabbit hole of crazy Brazilian rip-offs of American cartoons. My favorite is "<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tJsAuG2TR8&feature=channel_video_title" target="_hplink">The Little Cars</a>," a rip-off of "Cars." Theres one called "The Little Panda Fighter," which is a "Kung Fu Panda" rip-off. I guess they just really like smaller versions of things. So I just wanted to make a tribute to those, just as a kind of in-joke for anyone who had seen them. I'd never done any animation, so I basically just taught myself how to do that, and it took me an embarrassingly long time to make all of them, like over a year. </p> <p><object width="570" height="350"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/mxFWD2UoIZo?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/mxFWD2UoIZo?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="570" height="350" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object></p> <p><strong>Do you think it's better or worse for comedians that so many people have been "discovered" through their YouTube videos?</strong></p> <p>There's definitely a lot more people doing this now. But I think it's dangerous, because a lot of stuff can feel sort of forced or insincere, like if you're doing it to get on "Saturday Night Live" and not having a genuine love for making videos. There's probably a lot of people who might see it as a ticket to fame, like it's some kind of shortcut, so they don't have to pay for Groundlings classes or something. </p> <p><strong>Do you want to pursue TV projects, too?</strong></p> <p>I think I do, yeah. Longer-term stuff and TV. One issue with online projects now, is I feel like every sketch you put online has to be this ironclad, viral machine, where the title and the thumbnail all relate, and it's tied to something going on right now in the world. And that can be sort of exhausting. It prevents you from having quieter ideas, or at least having a lot of people see those. So I think, yeah, there's the drive to get to TV, to have a captive audience watching your show, where something doesn't have to go always viral and compete with the pop up ads.</p> <p><strong>We asked Scott his favorite video that he's made. Hint: It involves celebrated crooner, Michael McDonald.</strong></p> <p><object width="570" height="350"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/Go1jQRb3TSc?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/Go1jQRb3TSc?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="570" height="350" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object></p>