STAFF & GUEST BLOG
July 31st, 2012, by Jeremy Freed

Ed Helms and The Lonesome Trio

While you may not recognize the name Ed Helms, the actor and comedian’s face will be familiar from The Office, The Hangover(s) and Cedar Rapids, among many others. But did you know that Helms is also a banjo enthusiast (and he’s also pretty good on guitar)? Apart from playing in the bluegrass group, The Lonesome Trio, which he started with two friends in college, Helms is also the founder of the L.A. Bluegrass Situation, a music festival that had it’s third annual event this past May.

While there are other bluegrass festivals in the L.A. area, you won’t find a more star-studded event than this. According to the fest’s website, “The past two years have featured amazing music and fun from the likes of Steve Martin, Andrew Bird, Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlings, John C. Reilly, Tom Brosseau, Will Arnett, Paul Scheer, Vince Gill and many others.” That’s an impressive lineup of comic talent playing music.

This year’s event featured appearances by The Lonesome Trio, as well as Steve Martin’s Steep Canyon Rangers and John C. Reilly’s “American Song Cycle.” Sounds like a toe-tappin’, knee-slappin’, belly-laughin’ good time to me.

STAFF & GUEST BLOG
July 30th, 2012, by Jeremy Freed

I’ve been a fan of Lucky Peach, the American magazine devoted to offbeat food culture (or something like that…let me know if you can think of a better way to describe it) ever since I saw their first issue. There’s a new Lucky Peach out, by the way, devoted to all things American.

Now it seems there’s a new high-concept food-zine in town, or across the pond anyhow, making waves over in the UK. Just in time for Olympic fever and all of its London-centric machinations, The Gourmand is now available in select bookshops and online. But what makes The Gourmand different from, say, Cook’s Illustrated or Bon Appetit? Could be their erotic photo essay on traditional Swedish cuisine (pickled shrimp, anyone?) or perhaps their story on British artist David Shrigley’s new food-themed opera. Or, really, any number of other things save the recipes.

The Gourmand is stepping into a very current and relatively new artistic space, one which Lucky Peach has been encroaching on for a couple of years already. With food becoming a serious cultural force in North America and England, places without deeply ingrained food cultures (at least on the scale of most other societies), it only follows that journals such as these should arise to document the phenomenon, blending cuisine with art, music, film and poetry.

Food culture in both the UK and the U.S. is blooming, turning countries formerly known for their mushy peas and hot dogs into world-leading culinary innovators. But why stop there? Obviously, you can do more with food than just eat it.

STAFF & GUEST BLOG
July 29th, 2012, by Jeremy Freed

Image via Wikimedia Commons

I’m not a follower of sports in general, and the Olympics are no exception, for the most part. I can, however, get excited about certain things related to the events, like U.S. gold medalist Ryan Lochte’s grill, for one.

Lochte won gold in the men’s 400m swimming event, beating Michael Phelps and creating one of the 2012 London games’ first celebrities. While Lochte’s athleticism and good looks certainly help (details about how many pizzas he eats in a day soon to follow), it was the addition of custom dental work and flashy sneakers that pushed him into the world spotlight.

Check out Lochte’s swag here, as he sports his diamond-encrusted, stars-and-stripes-emblazoned grills while posing with his gold. While he tried to wear the patriotic teeth covers on the Olympic podium, officials forbade it, threatening to withhold his medal. According to a recent profile in The New York Times, Lochte has over 100 pairs of shoes, idolized Lil’ Wayne and aspires to become a fashion designer. Judging by the star-spangled winged Adidas he wore to his event, he’s more of the Kanye West school of fashion than the Ralph Lauren side of things.

STAFF & GUEST BLOG
July 29th, 2012, by Jeremy Freed

As Olympic fever grips the world (this blogger excepted–more on that later) our attention turns to the high-level sport that has united humanity in friendly competition for over 100 years. One story you may not be aware of is that of Tom Longboat, a native Canadian marathon runner considered to be among the top in his sport back in the early 20th century.

Longboat’s story is one of hardship, endurance and discrimination, yet he still managed to become a celebrity in his sport (and one of the first native Canadian celebrities of any kind). After winning the Boston Marathon in 1907, his career came to a climax at the London Olympics of 1908, where he was favorited to win the marathon. Twenty miles into the race, however, Longboat collapsed and was unable to finish.

While Longboat would later beat his London opponents at a subsequent event, he would never fully recover from the blow of failing to complete the marathon on that hot July day. Read more of Longboat’s fascinating story here.

STAFF & GUEST BLOG
July 28th, 2012, by Carla Amurao

Update: Kudos to our past guests who took home 2012 Emmy statuettes: Louis C.K. (Outstanding writing for a variety special, Louie C.K. Live at the Beacon Theatre and Outstanding writing for a comedy series, Louie); Kevin Costner (Outstanding lead actor in a miniseries or movie, Hatfields & McCoys); Damian Lewis, Outstanding lead actor in a drama series, Homeland); and Jay Roach (Outstanding directing for a miniseries or movie, Game Change).

On July 19, 2012, Kerry Washington and a pajama-clad Jimmy Kimmel  announced the nominees for the 64th Primetime Emmys.

Drama series Man Men and miniseries American Horror Story lead the way with 17 Emmy Award nominations apiece.

Here’s a compilation of past guests discussing their 2012 Emmy-nominated roles. While some interviews trace back to 2008 (read: Jon Hamm!), the conversations still discuss the character/series for which a nomination was received this year.

Note: Although we did have past guests Louis C.K. (nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series – 2012, as Louie in Louie), Idris Elba (Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie – 2012, as John Luther in Luther), Betty White (nominated for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program – 2012, for Betty White’s Off Their Rockers) and Ashley Judd (nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie – 2012, as Rebecca Winstone in Missing), the conversations either predated their involvement in their 2012 Emmy-nominated roles or did not mention the roles or the series.

And presenting…our 2012 Emmy-nominated guests:

Jon Hamm – August 8, 2008
Nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (2012) as Don Draper in Mad Men
In 2008, the actor earned an outstanding lead actor Emmy nod for his performance in the AMC period drama Mad Men, which received 16 nominations for its debut season.
(View full post to see video)

Michael C. Hall – October 5, 2009
Nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (2012) as Dexter Morgan in
Dexter
The actor compares his Dexter and Six Feet Under characters.
(View full post to see video)

Bryan Cranston – April 2, 2010
Nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (2012) as Walter White in Breaking Bad
Two-time Emmy winner discusses the timeline for his Breaking Bad series.
(View full post to see video)

Ed O’Neill – January 31, 2011
Nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (2012) as Jay Pritchett in
Modern Family
The actor compares his success on ABC’s Emmy-winning comedy Modern Family to that of his previous Fox hit, Married with Children.
(View full post to see video)

Don Cheadle – February 21, 2012
Nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (2012) as Marty Kaan in
House of Lies
The co-exec producer of and actor in Showtime’s House of Lies shares what it’s like to play a character that was not written explicitly for a Black man.
(View full post to see video)

Jay Roach – March 2, 2012
Game Change is nominated for Outstanding Miniseries or Movie (2012)

The director and producer of Game Change, the new HBO dramatization of the 2008 presidential campaign, talks about VP candidate Sarah Palin and whether the filmmakers “went soft” on Sen. John McCain.
(View full post to see video)

Matthew Weiner – March 22, 2012
Mad Men is nominated for Outstanding Drama Series (2012)
The award-winning writer-producer discusses the Emmy-winning Mad Men series that he created and talks about the show’s future with AMC.
(View full post to see video)

Damian Lewis – May 4, 2012
Nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (2012) as Nicholas Brody in Homeland
The British actor reflects on portraying American history in Band of Brothers and weighs in on President Obama’s comment on his latest star vehicle, Showtime’s Peabody Award-winning drama series Homeland.
(View full post to see video)

Kevin Costner – May 24-25, 2012
Nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie (2012) as ‘Devil’ Anse Hatfield in Hatfields & McCoys
In part one of this two-night conversation, the two-time Oscar winner reflects on his body of work and the moment he fully committed to becoming a thespian and discloses the one thing he feels people would envy of him.
(View full post to see video)

In the conclusion of a two-part conversation, Costner discusses his role in the History channel’s first scripted miniseries, Hatfields & McCoys, and his band’s companion CD. He also shares his experience of working with the late Whitney Houston and speaking at her funeral.
(View full post to see video)

A LOOK BACK
July 18th, 2012, by Carla Amurao

Movie theaters all over the globe are gearing up–and have been pre-selling tickets–for expectedly the biggest blockbuster event of the summer (or even year!): the third installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise, The Dark Knight Rises.

While the buzz about TDKR started up almost immediately after the release of The Dark Knight, cast and crew were able to keep mum about any details on the third film.

We were lucky to have Gary Oldman, who appeared in the first two films and returns for the third as Batman’s accomplice and police commissioner of Gotham City, Jim Gordon. Joseph Gordon-Levitt joins the star-studded cast as John Blake, a young Gotham cop who is also secretly helping Batman bring down the newest villain, Bane (played by Tom Hardy). And in a two-night conversation, Morgan Freeman, who plays Bruce Wayne’s business manager, Lucius Fox, joined us and talked about his experiences working on the film.

Check out the three conversations (where the actors were very tight-lipped about TDKR details!) and gear up for the movie event of the summer!

Joseph Gordon-Levitt – September 28, 2011

(Skip to 8:06 to hear TDKR details.)
(View full post to see video)

Gary Oldman – December 14, 2011

(You can go to 12:09 to hear his brief mention of TDKR.)
(View full post to see video)

Morgan Freeman – June 20, 2012

(TDKR details start at 07:20.)
(View full post to see video)

PRIMER
July 17th, 2012, by Carla Amurao

Photo courtesy: Van Evers, Tavis Smiley Media, Inc.

 

Airdates | Thursday, July 19 and Friday, July 20, 2012

Hometown | Toronto, Ontario, Canada as Frank Owen Goldberg

Why You (Should) Know Him | He has arguably the most creative portfolio in architecture. You can chalk up Spain’s Guggenheim Museum, Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall, Prague’s Dancing House and 8 Spruce Street in New York City and Germany’s Vitra Design Museum (to name a few!) in his résumé. His buildings are tourist attractions all over the world—but his Santa Monica home also attracts a bulk of visitors. Check out the gallery below to see some of his work.

Why He’s Buzzing | In 2009, it was announced that Gehry was unanimously chosen to be lead designer of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial after a closed competition of 44 entries.

Trivia

  • His grandfather gave him his Hebrew name “Ephraim.” He only used it at his bar mitzvah.
  • Gehry studied at Los Angeles City College while working as a truck driver in L.A. In addition, his list of odd jobs includes being a radio announcer.
  • He failed his first art class on perspective in college. He retook the class to get better results.
  • After attending Los Angeles City College, Gehry attended the University of Southern California. He graduated at the top of his class with a bachelor’s in architecture in 1954.
  • In 1956, Frank Owen Goldberg changed his name to Frank O. Gehry at his wife’s suggestion.
  • He served in the U.S. Army with Leonard Nimoy.
  • In true Canadian fashion, Gehry is a hockey fanatic. So much so that there is reportedly a hockey league in his office. In 2004, he even designed the World Cup of Hockey trophy.
  • He is a Distinguished Professor of Architecture at Columbia University. He also teaches advanced design studio classes at Yale’s School of Architecture.
  • While his reputation is that he makes an effort to stay within clients’ budgets, the downtown Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall project went $174 million over budget.
  • He made a guest appearance as himself on The Simpsons in the episode “The Seven-Beer Snitch.” He also lent his voice on Arthur.
  • Fish play a big part in Gehry’s design. Several buildings, a jewelry line, household items and sculptures are modeled after a fish motif
  • He holds multiple honorary doctorates from universities all over the United States and Canada.

Selection of Honors/Awards

1947   Elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects
1989   Awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize for Architecture
1994   Recipient of The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize
1995   Received the Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award
1998   Awarded the National Medal of Arts
1999   Awarded the AIA Gold Medal
2000   Given the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum
2004   Awarded the Woodrow Wilson Award for public service
2006   Was inducted into the California Hall of Fame at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver
2007   Received the Henry C. Turner Prize for Innovation in Construction Technology from the National Building Museum

Selection of Works by Frank Gehry

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

STAFF & GUEST BLOG
July 15th, 2012, by Jeremy Freed

One of the most hotly discussed shows on TV right now is AMC’s hit Breaking Bad, starring Bryan Cranston, about a cancer-stricken high school chemistry teacher who turns to cooking meth to pay his medical bills. In the beginning that’s why he was doing it, anyhow. Over the past 4 seasons, we’ve seen Cranston’s character, Walter White, transform from a mild mannered suburbanite to a murderous drug kingpin who will do anything to stay alive and protect his interests.

White’s transformation is one of the most compelling elements of the show, and, at the end of last season, he had seemed to sink to a new low, the details of which I won’t reveal now in case you haven’t seen it. If you have–lily of the valley!! In any case, the slow-burning final scene of the last season was a cliffhanger among the best of them, and it’s been a long wait for fans to find out what happened.

The wait is over Sunday night, as the show returns to AMC for a new season. If you haven’t seen it, here’s a handy catch-up. If you have, here’s Cranston talking with Tavis in 2010 about Walter White, the show and what makes it so, um, addictive.

STAFF & GUEST BLOG
July 15th, 2012, by Jeremy Freed

Concert movies are one of the most endearing genres of the documentary format, from the epic cultural document Woodstock to the tween-blockbuster Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. Within that niche, the final concert film has a special place all its own. From The Band’s famous The Last Waltz to Jay-Z’s Fade to Black, the final show of a much-loved artist or group is fertile ground for looking back on career and cultural impact, not to mention a great excuse to listen to their most-loved songs.

The latest final concert film to hit theaters is Shut Up and Play the Hits, which immortalizes the final show of LCD Soundsystem, the indie powerhouse started by singer/producer/all-around-indie-culture-fixture James Murphy. The show took place at Madison Square Garden in April of 2011, and the film documents 48 hours surrounding the concert.

The film opens July 18th, but the twist on this doc is that–much like LCD’s final sh0w–it will play in theaters for only one night. For fan’s of Murphy’s music, it’s a great way to turn a film into an event, much like the show itself. For those unfamiliar with Murphy and his band, it will serve as the perfect introduction to one of the most influential performer/producers of the last decade.

Here’s a great recent interview with Murphy, and one of my favorite LCD tracks to get you started.

PRIMER
July 10th, 2012, by Carla Amurao

Photo courtesy: Van Evers, Tavis Smiley Media, Inc.

Airdate | Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hometown | Tenafly, NJ

Why You (Should) Know Her

  • She co-starred alongside Lisa Kudrow as Romy in the fake-it-til-you-make-it Post-It inventors in the 1997 comedy, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.

Why She’s Buzzing | She’s starring in Union Square, a guerilla-type indie film that hits theaters July 13.

Trivia

  • Her father, Paul Sorvino, is a character actor and director. One of his notable roles was playing Paulie Cicero in 1990′s Goodfellas. According to her IMDB profile, her father initially discouraged her from becoming an actor.
  • Sorvino graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1989 with a degree in East Asian Studies/Chinese. She also helped found the Harvard-Radcliffe Veritones, a co-ed a cappella group.
  • In 1990, she made her acting debut on an episode of Law & Order which, at that time, starred her father. Her scene ultimately was left on the cutting room floor, but she earned a Screen Actors Guild card.
  • In 1997’s Mimic, Sorvino played Dr. Susan Tyler, a character who used genetic engineering on insects. Entomologist Thomas Eisner named the defense mechanism of the sunburst diving beetle “mirasorvone” in her honor.
  • In 2006, she received Amnesty International’s Artist of Conscience Award. She’s been affiliated with Amnesty International since 2004.
  • Since 2009, Sorvino has been a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador and has made efforts against human trafficking in Darfur.

Selections from Filmography

1994   Barcelona
1995   Mighty Aphrodite (won Academy Award, Broadcast Film Critics Association Award, Chlotrudis Award, Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award,  Golden Globe Award, National Board of Review Award, New York Film Critics Circle Award and Southeastern Film Critics Association Award—all for best supporting actress)
1996   Norma Jean & Marilyn (nominated for Emmy and Golden Globe Award)
1997   Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (nominated for MTV Movie Award)
1997   Mimic (nominated for Saturn Award)
1998   The Replacement Killers
2000   The Great Gatsby
2001   The Triumph of Love
2003   Will & Grace (Episode “Last Ex to Brooklyn” as Diane)
2003   Gods and Generals
2005   Human Trafficking (nominated for Golden Globe)
2007   Reservation Road
2008   House (Episode “Frozen” as Dr. Cate Milton)
2009    Attack on Leningrad
2011   Angels Crest
2011   Union Square
2012   Perfect Sisters

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