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Peanuts and Popcorn

Peanuts and Popcorn

Everything You Need to Know About the 2015 Oscars and Then Some

posted by jtotey
Neil Patrick Harris hosts the 87th Oscars on Sunday, February 22nd on ABC. (ABC)

Neil Patrick Harris hosts the 87th Oscars on Sunday, February 22nd on ABC. (ABC)

The Big Day:
The 87th Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network at 5:30 p.m. PT (8:30 p.m ET) 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. It will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

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Oscar Protest and Bomb Threat:
Selma being snubbed this year isn’t sitting well with some folks in Hollywood. The Los Angeles chapter of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network has planned a protest Sunday beginning at 2:00 p.m. “We will be right outside the Oscar ceremony, as close as the police will allow us,” Political Director Najee Ali told Dominic Patten of Deadline.com. “It’s pretty obvious that the Academy needs more diversity in its voting process. Very simple facts are that 94% of the Academy voters are white…The issue of the lack of racial diversity is the larger issue that Hollywood must face and confront head on. That’s why our protest of this year’s Oscar’s ceremony is designed to be a wake-up call for the entire industry.”

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This news comes days after streets were closed due to a mysterious package that was found in a vehicle near the streets of Hollywood and Highland. Later, a statement was given by the LAPD that the bomb squad later found that item in question was designated a “Code 4” meaning that it was a nondangerous package after all.

The Night Before:
ABC will present a half hour special, Countdown to the Oscars: An Insider’s Guide, Saturday, February 21 at 8:00 p.m. that will “highlight previous Oscar ceremonies, fashion, flubs and faux pas.” It will be hosted by Good Morning America’s Lara Spencer.

This Year’s Host:
Neil Patrick Harris. He’s hosted every other major award show, so why not the Oscars? He’ll be singing an original song written just for him by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the pair who wrote the award-winning music from Disney’s Frozen. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?

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This Year’s Presenters Include:
Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Cate Blanchett, Jessica Chastain, Marion Cotillard, Benedict Cumberbatch, Viola Davis, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Idris Elba, Ansel Elgort, Chris Evans, Kevin Hart, Josh Hutcherson, Scarlett Johansson, Dakota Johnson, Dwayne Johnson, Felicity Jones, Nicole Kidman, Terrence Howard, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConaughey, Sienna Miller, Chloe Grace Moretz, Eddie Murphy, Liam Neeson, Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Margot Robbie, Zoe Saldana, Octavia Spencer, Meryl Streep, Channing Tatum, Miles Teller, John Travolta, Kerry Washington, Naomi Watts, Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon.

This Year’s Performances Include:
Lots of musical performances this year! Tim McGraw will sing Glen Campbell’s “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” as a tribute to the legendary country music star. The song was featured in the documentary, Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me. Tegan and Sara and The Lonely Island will perform “Everything is Awesome” from The Lego Movie, Adam Levine will perform “Lost Stars” from the movie Begin Again, Rita Ora will perform “Grateful” from the movie Beyond the Lights, and Common and John Legend will perform “Glory” from the movie Selma. Also performing will be Jack Black, Lady Gaga, Anna Kendrick and Jennifer Hudson with “surprise” songs as they have not been announced.

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Before the Show:
“Oscars Opening Ceremony: Live from the Red Carpet,” hosted by Robin Roberts, Lara Spencer and Michael Strahan, will air at 4:00 p.m. pacific time (7:00 p.m. ET) on ABC. The crew will be joined by Jess Cagle and Joe Zee to feature “exclusive special moments.” According to ABC, “this 90-minute special(!) will highlight the incredible journey many of the nominees have taken to get to Hollywood’s most prestigious night. It also will give fans around the world the exclusive and ultimate insiders’ view of Oscars festivities from the nominees’ perspective.”

During the Show:
In case just watching the spectacle isn’t enough for you, this year ABC will stream live on Facebook for the first time with video highlights posted to Facebook and Oscar.com immediately after they air. Called The Oscars Backstage, it will be hosted by Good Morning America’s Weekend Edition co-host Paula Faris, Fusion host Pedro Andrade, Entertainment and Sports Reporter Chris Connelly, Yahoo Fashion Correspondent Nick Axelrod and How To Get Away With Murder’s Matt McGorry. ABC says “Beginning at 7 p.m., ET/4 p.m., PT, the curated ‘Director’s Cut’ feed from the award-winning The Oscars Backstage – which delivers three channels of live video feeds from over 20 cameras throughout the Dolby Theater for desktop and mobile devices — will also stream on ABC Network’s Facebook page and the Oscars Facebook page.”

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After the Show:
The 10th annual “Jimmy Kimmel Live: After the Oscars” airs Sunday, February 22 at 10:00 p.m. PT (12:05 a.m., ET) on ABC. Broadcasting from Disney’s El Capitan Theater located on Hollywood Boulevard and just steps away from Dolby Theater, Kimmel’s previous post-Oscar specials have featured viral comedy bits and guest appearances by many of Hollywood’s best and is one of Kimmel’s most watched specials. Not to be missed.

On the Day After:
In case you didn’t get your fill on Sunday, Good Morning America on ABC will show you what you missed Monday morning and later, LIVE with Kelly and Michael will air the fourth edition of “LIVE’s After Oscar® Show,” airing in national syndication at 9:00 a.m., ET. It too will broadcast live from the Dolby Theatre just hours after the festivities have wrapped up.

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‘Odd Couple’ Won’t Last

posted by jtotey
Felix Unger (Thomas Lennon)  plays the ying to Oscar Madison's (Matthew Perry) yang in "The Odd Couple." (CBS)

Felix Unger (Thomas Lennon) plays the ying to Oscar Madison’s (Matthew Perry) yang in “The Odd Couple.” (CBS)

Neil Simon’s original play, The Odd Couple is a comedy classic that no TV sitcom incarnation has given the story any justice. The 1970-1975 version with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman came the closest, but it pales in comparison to the wit of the original. In 1982, a new “black” version of the show dubbed, The New Odd Couple debuted for an extra short season. Apparently changing the race of the main characters didn’t make the show any funnier.

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Last night, CBS ran the pilot episode of yet a “new” Odd Couple that starred Matthew Perry as Oscar Madison, the messy sports radio commentator who “works” from home in his boxers. Thomas Lennon plays the ying to Oscar’s yang, the extremely tidy Felix Unger. The new show makes a valiant try of recreating the comedy borrowing the same theme song from the first TV show and storyline from the original play. But in the end, it is another flawed production for a variety of reasons.

First, the 22 minute show tries to cram in every aspect of the original two hour play which is tough to do. It tried to address about six different plot points. Second, last night, seven characters were introduced. This is a common mistake of many sitcoms as allows for virtually no time for character development. Third, the show immediately goes where all CBS comedies go these days – sex. In the pilot, Oscar meets an attractive women in his apartment complex who tells him that she really isn’t wanting a meaningful relationship – she’s just looking for someone to have sex with. Fourth, while Lennon is over-the-top in his role as Felix, (he could calm down the role a bit), Perry is all wrong for Oscar. Perhaps it is all of his years playing Chandler Bing on Friends that ruined him for this role. He just isn’t messy enough or have the right attitude, but he does have the sarcasm down pat. He would make a very good Felix though.

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I do believe that a television version of Neil Simon’s work can be successful, but must have him involved in the project for it to be successful. Simon has his own brand of humor that is hard to replicate and his pace is a lot slower than today’s sitcoms allow, but it still could be done. Last night’s pilot could have been broken up into five episodes alone.

I like Matthew Perry and I hope that he will eventually land a solid role in comedy again, but this isn’t it. The Odd Couple airs Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. on CBS.

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The Vampire Documentary You Have Been Waiting For

posted by jtotey
The cast of "What We Do in the Shadows" (Unison Films)

The cast of “What We Do in the Shadows” (Unison Films)

If you are a fan of vampire movies (not those like Twilight but more like the classic Dracula) and mock documentaries (like Best in Show or Waiting for Guffman), What We Do in the Shadows is for you. This mockumentary follows the lives of four vampires of various ages living together. Together, they face the same struggles most roommates do like who is going to do the dishes and who is going to sweep up the skeleton bones.

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Living in New Zealand, Viago (Taika Waititi) is the chatty spokesperson of the quartet. He doesn’t like getting blood on his antique couch. Petyr (Ben Fransham) is the oldest of the four and resembles Nosferatu. He doesn’t talk much and spends most of his time in the basement. Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) is a lady killer and Deacon (Jonathan Brugh) has a human servant, (Ethel Robinson), who desperately wants to be turned into a vampire. Instead, she ends up ironing Deacon’s clothes.

The end result is a silly spoof that is very funny but a little off balance. Most of the jokes go over very well, but some fall flat. There are some funny bits with the vampires learning how to use a computer and watching footage of a sunrise for the first time. They talk about drinking blood of a virgin because it sounds cool. For fun, the crew venture into town, but they cannot come into any nightclub unless they are invited in. They also get in a little trouble with a pack of werewolves who are trying hard to control their own beastly natures.

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The comedy is similar in tone to The Munsters or The Adams Family TV shows, but with stronger language. Also, being a horror film, there is some blood and gore, but nothing more than what you might see in a Saturday Night Live skit (remember the one with Julia Child cutting her finger?). Is it offensive? Well, it’s not for everyone that is for sure. Nothing here is to be taken seriously though, but there is enough to sink your teeth into.

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‘McFarland, USA’ – Better than ‘Hoosiers’

posted by jtotey
McFARLAND, USA..L to R: Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner) and Thomas Valles (Carlos Pratts) w/ Damacio Diaz (Michael Aguero) in background. (Walt Disney Pictures)

McFARLAND, USA..L to R: Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner) and Thomas Valles (Carlos Pratts) w/ Damacio Diaz (Michael Aguero) in background. (Walt Disney Pictures)

I am always amazed when a movie that is “based on a true story” can change so many details. It’s as if the real story wasn’t good enough. In an interview with The Christian Chronicle, Jim and Cheryl White, the inspirational characters featured in Kevin Costner’s new film, McFarland, USA, explain some of the differences in the true story compared to the movie. Jim and Cheryl are the same age, whereas the Kevin Costner and Maria Bello couple are 15 years apart. The Whites have two daughters, but only two are mentioned in the film. And finally, the Whites are a Christian family which isn’t mentioned in the film. However, it’s not what Disney left out of the story that matters, but what they kept in. The pair have nothing but positive praise for the movie. “It’s a weird, unusual feeling to watch your own life unfold on the big screen,” says Jim. “We’ve seen it three times, and we know the story, and we’ve teared up all three times.”

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The story isn’t about a white man saving a group of hispanic kids – it’s about a community that embraces an outsider and his family and together, they make their corner of the world a better place. It is a story about accepting people where they are, help them see beyond their own viewpoint and supporting each other as a community. Many churches can learn a thing or two by watching this movie.

A realistic portrayal of living in McFarland, CA.

A realistic portrayal of living in McFarland, CA.

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After yet another incident where coach Jim White (Costner) gets fired for losing his temper with his students, he moves his family to the forgettable town of McFarland, California where the population is over 95% hispanic. The kids think that dad has driven all the way to Mexico. They are the minorities in this town and the last name of “White” doesn’t help. Many of the high school students refer to Jim as “Blanco,” which is Spanish for “white.” He soon learns that McFarland is not a place where anyone wants to move to and most want to get out of. Many of the school’s students work early mornings and afternoons at their parent’s farms. They are hard-workers, but unappreciated.

Jim is initially signed on as an assistant football coach for the high school, but after noticing how fast some of the kids run, he asks to become the school’s first cross country coach. Without any training or background in the sport, he and his team are equals and ultimately, he learns as much from them as they learn from him.

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Maria Bello and Kevin Costner star as Jim and Cheryl White in Disney's "McFarland, USA." (Disney)

Maria Bello and Kevin Costner star as Jim and Cheryl White in Disney’s “McFarland, USA.” (Disney)

I will go out on a limb here to say that McFarland, USA is one of best sports movies to come around in a long time and it is even better than the classic basketball movie Hoosiers. Unlike other sports movies, White doesn’t sacrifice his family for the success of his team. He is far from perfect, often feels like he let his family down and forgets some of his own children’s important milestones. But he learns from his mistakes and starts to inspire his runners to think bigger than just getting a high school diploma and encourages them to consider attending college. This doesn’t sit well with some of the locals who feel that they are born a “picker” and will die a picker.

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As the film opens, you relate with the White family and feel bad for their situation but by the end, you wish that you could pack up your stuff and move in next door to them. The movie only glamorizes true friendship, the importance of family and faith, and simple pleasures like a scene when the boys visit the ocean for the first time in their lives. The movie doesn’t shy away from the negatives about living in such a poor community either, but instead, shows how communities can come together to support each other after a tragedy strikes. At the end of the movie, members of the original track team are featured with short synopsis on what has happened in their lives after their first big win. Those stories are almost more inspiring than the movie itself.

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In the recent string of movies for Kevin Costner, this one is the best. Maria Bello plays more than the dutiful wife. She is strong, supportive and many times plays the role of cheerleader for her husband and her girls. She embraces the beauty of McFarland long before the others do. There really isn’t a weak actor in the bunch.

McFarland is not a tentpole movie and not much has been said about it. The theme of cross country runners is not as popular as a football movie. However, parents should really consider treating their children to this movie as an example of how other kids in America live which might make them appreciate their own lives.

 

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