Peter Jackson enlists former Hobbit Billy Boyd to perform franchise swan song

Posted in Movies,Music,Video by Scott Meisner on November 21st, 2014

I’ve got the strangest feeling in the pit of my stomach; there’s pure excitement and there’s undeniable sadness lingering as we approach the release of Peter Jackson’s final film in the Hobbit trilogy. Not only will The Battle of the Five Armies close the book on The Hobbit movies, but it also serves as the last chapter in Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s tale of Middle-earth. So how does one properly say goodbye to characters and settings you’ve grown to know and cherish across 13 years and 6 movies? The director enlisted actor and musician Billy Boyd–who played Hobbit Pippin in the Lord of the Rings trilogy–to perform the Five Armies swan song. “The Last Goodbye,” written by Boyd, Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens, will play when the credits roll at the end of the last Hobbit movie and will surely leave fans with a feeling of closure. “We came all this way, and now comes the day, we bid you farewell,” sings Boyd on the soft, charming tune.

“We had to get the song just right, to send the audience out of the movie theater in the most perfect way we could,” Boyd tells Entertainment Weekly. “I think we discovered very quickly this wasn’t just a song to end The Battle of the Five Armies—it was a song to say goodbye to Middle-earth.” He added, “…being asked to go back to that, to work in that wonderful fantasy world again and to be singing the song that says goodbye to Middle-earth for everyone involved and the fans who took this beautiful journey with us is truly a great, great honor.”

Though “The Last Goodbye” doesn’t carry the same oomph as Ed Sheeran’s closing song used in The Desolation of Smaug, it serves its purpose with flying colors as it aims to peacefully put the stories of Middle-earth to rest. Watch Pippin Boyd perform his song in the video embedded above; it’s set against scenes across Hobbit and LOTR films, so embrace yourself for pangs of nostalgia and bring the hankies.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies releases December 17. Download “The Last Goodbye” at iTunes.

Stephen Merchant’s cringe-tastic HBO series ‘Hello Ladies’ returns to wrap things up

Posted in News,Television by Scott Meisner on November 21st, 2014

Stuart Pritchard is never one to bow out without a fight. Though HBO cancelled the low-rated but highly enjoyable comedy Hello Ladies last January, creator and star Stephen Merchant (The OfficeExtras) managed to put together an 80-minute special that promises to wrap up the short-lived series. Hello Ladies was a uniquely qualified show in that it would effortlessly swing the pendulum between uproarious laughter and more-than-subtle sadness, grief, and despair. Merchant’s protagonist Stuart played this gawky, frequently awkward Englishman transplanted in Los Angeles always on the prowl for women way out of his league. “Cringe-worthy” is the term that always came to mind when friends asked me to describe the series to them. It’s true: some scenes were so awkward that they forced me to turn away in utter embarrassment for poor Stuart who could never win at his own game (episode 5, “Pool Party,” instantly comes to mind). But across all eight episodes of the first and final season of the show, I grew to feel empathy for Merchant’s odd character who–at his core–was a dickish yet romantic guy reaching too high. Friends including divorced Wade (Nate Torrence), wheel-chair bound, profane Glenn (Sean Wing), wacky work colleague Rory (Kyle Mooney), and tenant/love interest Jessica (Christine Woods) helped elevate Hello Ladies to its cult status. I’m happy to report all are returning for the special. On a final note, it’s definitively sad to see this promising young series leave the airwaves prematurely, but not every cancelled show gets the chance to properly wraps things up like this. We’ll always have eight episodes and a movie.

The logline for Hello Ladies: The Movie goes like this: “When Stuart learns that his British ex-girlfriend is planning to visit Los Angeles with her husband, he sets out to impress them with his glamorous lifestyle, enlisting a Russian model he’s just met to play the role of his beautiful girlfriend. What could go wrong?”

As much as I want Stuart to “get the girl” or simply get with a girl (whether it be Woods’ Jessica or just a smokin’ hot model), I am largely expecting the series to conclude with poor Stuart sprawled out on his couch at home, alone. This is, after all, Hello Ladies. (P.S. Jenny Slate reprising Jessica’s arch-nemesis Amelia would be the cherry on top!)

Hello Ladies: The Movie airs this Saturday night (11/22) at 10PM on HBO. Hop after the break to watch a new promo and an invitation to the set with commentary from Merchant and other members of the cast. (Click here for more…)

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This is what happens when you mash ‘Frozen’ with ‘Breaking Bad’

Posted in Hilarity,Video by Scott Meisner on November 19th, 2014

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Kanye West puts his stamp on Lorde’s ‘Hunger Games’ track “Yellow Flicker Beat”

Posted in Music,Video by Scott Meisner on November 19th, 2014

New Zealand singer songwriter Lorde was given the keys to curate the official soundtrack for the latest Hunger Games film, that is, Mockingjay Part 1. She got to handpick the artists featured on the album and she collaborated with them to set a particular mood and tone for the 14-song soundtrack. Two of those tracks were imagined by Lorde herself, and one of them caught the eye of Kanye West. The rapper puts his signature twist on Lorde’s “Yellow Flicker Beat,” turning the rather upbeat tune into a darker and frankly more haunting symphony. Listen to the remix above; click here to watch Lorde dance around to the original version. Mockingjay Part 1 hits theatres November 21, and Lorde’s curated soundtrack is out now on iTunes.

Movie trailer round-up: ‘Peanuts’ & Disney’s ‘Cinderella’ [Update: ‘Pitch Perfect 2′ inside]

Posted in Movies,Video by Scott Meisner on November 19th, 2014

When the first teaser for director Paul Feig’s adaptation of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts landed in March, I was lamenting the fact that his creative team decided to go with CG-animation as opposed to the classic hand-drawn style from the comic strips. But now, the more I watch this new trailer, I’m convinced a fun story can be told through the CG lens. I can appreciate the fact that Feig and co. opted to take Charlie Brown and Snoopy into new territory while still retaining some of the nostalgic squiggly lines there. What do you think?

Peanuts makes its big-screen debut November 6, 2015.

Jump after the break to see the trailer for Kenneth Branagh’s imagining of the Disney classic Cinderella. (Click here for more…)

Showtime renews ‘Homeland’ & ‘The Affair’, TBS wants more ‘American Dad’

Posted in News,Television by Scott Meisner on November 19th, 2014

Showtime and the creative team behind Homeland have done a spectacular job rebooting the series. In seasons past, Damian Lewis’ Nicholas Brody played a major role opposite Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes). Intertwining plots would shift between Carrie’s work at the CIA and Brody’s involvement with terrorists. Brody’s emotional demise at the end of last season also meant the phasing out of his family since they, ultimately, served to support his character. Now the show focuses solely on Carrie and the relationships she has formed over the past three seasons with Saul (Mandy Patinkin), Quinn (Rupert Friend), and Fara (Nazanin Boniadi). That small anti-terrorism group is expanding this year with more input from Senator Lockhart (Tracy Letts) and newcomer Laila Robins (she plays US ambassador Martha Boyd). Homeland has managed to let go of its typically trotting plotlines (read: Dana Brody) and refocus squarely on Carrie. The show is as intense as ever, and every episode thus far has kept me on the very edge of my seat. #SaveSaul

The premium cable network is celebrating Homeland‘s recent creative successes by renewing it for a 12-episode fifth season. Additionally, Showtime has granted a second season to freshman The Affair. The subtle drama about an intermarital affair swiftly proved to be an addictive character piece with unique storytelling and scenic direction. Though I’m not sure what another season would explore, I have faith in creators Sarah Treem and Hagai Levi to continue this uniquely captivating love affair.

“In its fourth season, Homeland has brilliantly reinvented itself. It continues to capture the attention of a devoted fan base, and has provided an enviable platform for the successful launch of The Affair,” said Showtime head David Nevins. “With thought-provoking, relevant and addictive storylines, both series have been embraced, dissected and much debated week after week. We’re excited to see more from these complex shows in 2015.”

Elsewhere, TBS has proven to be a fine home for Seth MacFarlane animated series American Dad since it left Fox for the cable network; it’s been renewed for a 22-episode 12th season. Also of note, CBS cancelled Will Arnett/Margo Martindale sitcom The Millers.

Sony announces cloud-based TV service PlayStation Vue

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on November 19th, 2014

There certainly is no shortage of ways to consume entertainment these days, and Sony wants in. Sure, it’s got the PlayStation Store where gamers can stream movies, music, and TV shows to their big screen TVs. But the media giant is looking to capture even more eyeballs by providing a full-fledged cloud-based service whereby consumers can pay a monthly rate and watch their favorite TV programs to their heart’s content. Think of it as Hulu Plus or even Netflix, provided by Sony. Thankfully the company is securing deals with major content providers prior to PlayStation Vue’s launch and they include CBS, Discovery Communications, Fox, NBCUniversal, Scripps Networks Interactive, and Viacom. Here are a couple of cool features to mull over:

-PlayStation Vue delivers catch-up and on-demand TV, freeing viewers to watch TV on their own schedules. The service makes the past three days of popular programming available without the need to schedule recordings.

-Viewers can save their favorite shows to the cloud without storage restrictions or scheduling conflicts. Once viewers tag a favorite show, they will automatically have access to episodes of that show for 28 days so that they can watch on their own time.

In essence, if you’re lacking a DVR and if you prefer to watch TV on your own time like the majority of the world, PS Vue sounds like a promising effort from team Sony. In the end it all comes down to content provider support; if Sony can continue to lure in the big guns like CBS, Fox, and NBC (ABC, where you at?), Vue has the potential to become a go-to destination for PS4 and PS3 console owners.

“PlayStation Vue reinvents the traditional viewing experience so your programming effortlessly finds you, enabling you to watch much more of what you want and search a lot less,” says Andrew House, president and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment. “PlayStation Vue brings the best of live TV and a robust catalog of the latest content, always keeping you connected to what’s popular, new and trending. Today’s announcement builds on the historic success of PlayStation 4 and demonstrates what our company is capable of when we embrace disruption and stay true to gamers.”

A beta preview for PS Vue is rolling out this month for select people, “with phased rollout starting in New York followed later by Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.” In time the service with become compatible with Apple’s iPad as well as more Sony and non-Sony devices. Sony plans to launch it commercially in early 2015. Stick it here for more details about pricing and availability as that becomes apparent.

[Via PRNewswire]

Ready, set, “Too Many Cooks”

Posted in Hilarity,Television,Video by Scott Meisner on November 8th, 2014

I’ll be brief, because the video hanging above is quite possibly the greatest thing to take the Internet by storm. This week Adult Swim filled 11 minutes of late-night airtime (at 4am, to be exact) with a short called Too Many Cooks. Directed and written by Casper Kelly, it starts off as an innocuous parody of classic 80s sitcoms like Family Matters. Give it time, and soon enough it spirals into a TV genre parody mashup that gets more bizarre and definitively disturbing by the second. It’s best if you go into it knowing not much more than this. So with that, you’ve been warned.

Editor’s note: Get through the entire thing to fully appreciate it! Because when you realize its brilliance, that’s the most profound reward.

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Magic: Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” mashed with an aerobic workout from the 80s

Posted in Hilarity,Video by Scott Meisner on November 8th, 2014

Feel free to file this under Weird, But Cool! YouTuber Thomas Jung must have had some sort of epiphany of epic proportions when he thought to pair this seemingly random aerobic workout video from the 80s with Taylor Swift’s hot single “Shake It Off.” BECAUSE THE SONG SYNCS TO THE CHOREOGRAPHY NEARLY PERFECTLY. See for yourself!

Oh, and you want to know what else is oddly coincidental? The workout video is from 1989, the name of Swift’s new album. Ack!

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Happy Halloween: Jimmy Kimmel enlists parents to steal their kids’ candy, reactions are priceless

Posted in Hilarity,Television,Video by Scott Meisner on November 8th, 2014

For the fourth year running, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel challenged parents to pretend they ate all their kids’ halloween candy and uploaded their recorded reactions to YouTube. Here are 2014’s submissions; once again, it’s a riot filled with mad children, disappointed children, and the occasional “I’m okay with it” kids. And in case you missed the gems from years prior, or if you want to relive the magic that is parents taking away from their children the thing they covet most: 2011, 2012, 2013.

‘Star Wars Episode VII’ is titled

Posted in Movies,News by Scott Meisner on November 8th, 2014

Thoughts? J.J. Abrams’ attempt to reboot the coveted franchise hits theatres December 18, 2015.

‘Toy Story 4′ is in the works

Posted in Movies,News by Scott Meisner on November 8th, 2014

I’m a bit up in the air about this. Disney and Pixar so eloquently closed out the Toy Story trilogy in 2010 when Andy goes off to college and his toys–including Woody and Buzz–are handed off to a new owner, little Bonnie. What can possibly come next that’s worthy enough to warrant another sequel and potentially the start of a new trilogy? Pixar’s been successful at bringing new life to the toys in animated shorts premiering before other Disney movies and on ABC. But a whole new theatrical release? As much as I adore Woody and the gang, do we want to keep this party going for the sake of keeping it going? Pixar Chief Creative Officer and Toy Story 1 & 2 director John Lasseter attempted to get ahead of fan skepticism with this statement made on the day Disney announced the film’s development:

We love these characters so much; they are like family to us. We don’t want to do anything with them unless it lives up to or surpasses what’s gone before. ‘Toy Story 3’ ended Woody and Buzz’s story with Andy so perfectly that for a long time, we never even talked about doing another ‘Toy Story’ movie. But when Andrew, Pete, Lee and I came up with this new idea, I just could not stop thinking about it. It was so exciting to me, I knew we had to make this movie—and I wanted to direct it myself.

Consider my fears quelled, for now.

Toy Story 4 is coming to theatres June 16, 2017 with Celeste and Jesse Forever writing parters Rashida Jones (yes, of Parks and Recreation) and Will McCormack penning the script.

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‘Better Call Saul’ behind the scenes

Posted in Television,Video by Scott Meisner on November 8th, 2014

Perhaps this will help you ride out the anticipation for Vince Gilligan’s next AMC project: it’s a behind the scenes look at Better Call Saul, the highly anticipated Breaking Bad prequel/spinoff starring Bob Odenkirk as sleazy lawyer Saul Goodman small-time lawyer Jimmy McGill. In the clip you’ll hear from Odenkirk, other cast members including Jonathan Banks (reprising Mike Ehrmantraut) and Michael McKean (he’s playing Jimmy’s brother Chuck McGill), as well as members of the show’s crew.

Better Call Saul premieres in February.

‘Orphan Black’ season 3 tease

Posted in Television,Video by Scott Meisner on November 8th, 2014

Orphan Black is coming. But not soon enough. In the meantime, enjoy this first teaser hyping the sci-fi action show’s upcoming third season. The song: Leslie Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me.” How appropriate.

BBC America has yet to set an air date, but if prior seasons are any indication, you can expect Clone Club to reconvene this spring.

Sneak peek ABC & Marvel’s ‘Agent Carter’

Posted in Television,Video by Scott Meisner on November 8th, 2014

Marvel’s next live-action TV show is Agent Carter. It’s inspired the Marvel One-Shot short film that came packed inside Captain America: The First Avenger way back when. Hayley Atwell reprises her role as Peggy Carter, an agent of the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR)–S.H.I.E.L.D.’s predecessor. The show takes place in the 1940s when America is disengaging from WWII, and just after her love Steve “Captain America” Rogers gets dislodged from his time period. Hanging above is a first look clip featuring Carter, Iron Man’s father Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper, also reprising his role from the first Cap movie), and Father Stark’s butler and inspiration for Tony’s advanced AI, Jarvis (played by James D’Arcy). Watch a scene from the pilot and then a quick montage of Agent Carter kicking ass and taking names now.

ABC will debut Agent Carter in January 2015. The 8-episode season will air in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Tuesdays-at-9 timeslot while that show is on winter hiatus.

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OK Go impresses again with meticulously shot music video featuring motorized scooters, colorful umbrellas & a drone

Posted in Music,Video by Scott Meisner on November 3rd, 2014

OK Go may not be the most popular alt-rock band on the scene, but there’s absolutely no denying their inventiveness when it comes to the construction, production, and execution of their extravagant and by all means brilliant music videos. Billboard breaks down their latest masterpiece and visual eye candy: getting around on motorized mobility devices made by Honda, the band is accompanied by a flock of umbrella-toting Japanese school girls in the middle of an abandoned structure located in the city of city of Chiba, about 45 minutes outside of Tokyo. The precise choreography is splendid, and the whole thing was captured by a camera-assisted drone called an octocopter. The single, uninterrupted shot took about 50 to 60 times to nail, but you just need to watch this once to fully embrace the magic of it all.

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Movie trailer roundup: ‘Minions’, ‘Furious 7′ & ‘Ex Machina’ [Update: Neill Blomkamp’s ‘Chappie’]

Posted in Movies,Video by Scott Meisner on November 3rd, 2014

The Minions are back, and this time they star in their very own spinoff movie appropriately titled Minions. Following their memorable debut in 2010’s Despicable Me and their reprise in the 2013 sequel Despicable Me 2, the tiny, yellow, lovable, babbling, hysterical creatures are turning back time in a prequel of sorts that takes place way before they worked with Steve Carell’s Gru. As you can see in the debut trailer above, the minions’ story dates back to the beginning of time and they all share the same goal: “to serve the most despicable master around.” From dinosaurs to ancient Egyptian pharaohs to Napoleon and even Dracula, the minions roam the Earth to serve. Unfortunately they can never seem to hold onto a master for long, and eventually they grow bored and depressed without a purpose. And so Kevin, Stuart and Bob team up on an adventure to find a new and lasting despicable master for their tribe. And as the extended trailer reveals, the trio will make their way to 1968 New York and then…you’ll have to flock to theatres July 10, 2015 to find out what happens next. You might be suspect as to how a feature-length film packed with jibberish-speaking oddities will keep your attention; well, if this trailer is any indication, Minions will do juuuuust fine. Also, Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, and Steve Coogan are billed as voice cast so there’s that to look forward to! Illumination Entertainment’s latest film is directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda and written by Brian Lynch.

Jump after the break for more trailers. (Click here for more…)

Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 3 unveiled

Posted in Movies,News by Scott Meisner on November 3rd, 2014

Following in the steps of rival DC Entertainment, Marvel Studios carved out time to lay the groundwork for its future feature film slate. In Marvel grand fashion, President Kevin Feige rented out the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood and spelled out Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in front of rabid fans and the press.

After Phase 2 closes out with Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man this coming summer, Phase 3 will kick off in May 2016 with Captain America and Iron Man facing off in Captain America: Civil War. That film will introduce Chad Boseman (42Get on Up) as Black Panther. Following the Cap threequel is the introduction to Doctor Strange in November 2016; Deadline reports Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch will play the title role. Then in May 2017 the Guardians of the Galaxy return in a sequel, followed by a Thor threequel subtitled Ragnarok. In November 2017, Boseman will reprise his African American superhero Black Panther in his very own film. In May 2018 the Avengers will assemble for a third time in Infinity War Part 1. And before Part 2 comes around a year later, female superhero Carol Danvers will debut as Captain Marvel in July 2018 and an entirely new super-powered group The Inhumans will hit the big screen in November 2018. Yeah, it’s a mouthful; so here it is in list form:

Click the respective links above to learn more about each film. Now, comic book fans rejoice–so many more of your favorite heroes are jumping from the page to the screen between now and 2020! (Bonus: click here to watch the Infinity War announcement trailer Marvel screened at the event.)

New documentary explores “the art of running a TV show”

Posted in Movies,News,Television by Scott Meisner on November 3rd, 2014

If you watch a ton of television like I do, you must be at least a little interested in how it’s all made. Well, a new documentary is here to satiate your curiosity. It’s called Showrunners and it explores the creative teams and decisions that go into the making of a formidable TV program. The docu features exclusive interviews with some of the most successful producers, writers, and creators around including J.J. Abrams (Lost), Jane Espenson (Once Upon a Time), Hart Hanson (Bones), Mike Kelley (Revenge), Robert and Michelle King (The Good Wife), Damon Lindelof (The Leftovers), Jonathan Nolan (Person of Interest), Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman (Fringe), Bill Prady (The Big Bang Theory), Joss Whedon (Firefly), and many more.

Director Des Doyle’s Showrunners promises to be an intriguing and informative look behind the scenes at what it’s like to build television drama and comedy, from a percolating idea to production to premiere. Learn more about the doc here, or head over to iTunes today to stream and watch.

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Premiering this month: Marvel special & the final season of ‘The Newsroom’

Posted in News,Television by Scott Meisner on November 3rd, 2014

November is a relatively quiet month in terms of flashy new premieres, but there are two you simply cannot miss.

First up is an ABC special called Marvel 75 Years: From Pulp to Pop! Emily VanCamp (RevengeCaptain America: The Winter Soldier) hosts the hour-long special celebrating Marvel’s 75th anniversary with exclusive interviews and an exploration of the company over the years. It promises to shed light on comic book/movie studio enterprise’s history, as well as peek into its future; perhaps viewers will be privy to new looks at Avengers sequel Age of Ultron or even the now-in-production Ant-Man. It airs this Tuesday (11/4) at 9pm on ABC.

And then there’s the final season of HBO’s award-winning political drama The Newsroom. The final episodes kick off Sunday, November 9 at 9pm. Fans of the fictional News Night with Will McAvoy will get to say goodbye to Aaron Sorkin’s journalistic jamboree over the course of six tight episodes that conclude on December 14. “Every story needs a final word” reads the tagline of the show’s third season, and it’s certainly sad to say that time has come now. Click here to watch a trailer.