March 5, 2015

That free Vince Vaughn royalty-free photography you were after is finally available

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The Vaughn has another terrible-looking movie out this week called Unfinished Business, in which a bunch of American businessmen + Nick Frost + Tom Wilkinson head off to Germany to arrange a deal but things end up getting a bit raucous. Because, you know, Germany. Or something.

It looks dreadful, it’s likely to be forgotten within about two weeks and if I were Germany, I'd probably want to sue the filmmakers for defamation. Or something.

However, there is one good thing coming out of this whole sorry (unfinished) business and that's the fact that the cast have created some publicity photos in the style of the tedious stock photography that gets included in business magazines and presentations…

Unfinished Business

Unfinished Business

Unfinished Business

…and then made them available royalty-free through genuine top photo library iStock.

iStock has Unfinished Business

I work on a lot of magazines that use iStock. I wonder if I should warn them, because depending on how seamless this whole thing is and how long the images remain in the library, it's entirely possible that not too long from now, a business magazine somewhere is going to end up using these images unironically. And then the legacy of Unfinished Business will linger for far longer than it should have done. Maybe that’s the only good thing about it.

[via]

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March 4, 2015

The Pretty in Pink reunion you weren't expecting on The Blacklist

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First, an introduction for younger readers. This is the group of actor/singers known as the Rat Pack. They were big in the 60s. You weren’t alive then. Neither was I.

The Rat Pack

I don’t quite know why I’m mentioning them since they’re irrelevant to this piece. However, this is the far more relevant Brat Pack. They were big in the 80s. You might have been alive then. I definitely was.

The Brat Pack

To be exact, that’s not quite the Brat Pack, so much as the cast of St Elmo’s Fire, most of whom were in the Brat Pack - look closely and you’ll spot Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Andrew McCarthy, Ally Sheedy and Demi Moore (as well as the lesser known Judd Nelson and even lesser known Mare Winningham).

However, the Brat Pack was made up of a group of young actors and actresses who dated each other and/or frequently appeared together in movies (eg The Breakfast Club, Oxford Blues, Sixteen Candles) and their numbers also included the likes of Kiefer Sutherland, Robert Downey Jr, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall and James Spader.

One of the most notable and iconic Brat Pack movies was Pretty In Pink, which starred Ringwald, McCarthy and Spader, as well as Jon Cryer who would go on to star in Two And A Half Men with the somewhat infamous Brat Pack member Charlie Sheen. Here's a trailer to explain the basic plot, which involves Ringwald picking the right boy - and the right dress - for her prom: should it be good guy Andrew McCarthy, bad guy James Spader or unnoticed best friend Cryer?

Here are Spader and McCarthy being interviewed about the movie at the time. My, how young they look, don't they?

But as we've seen, careers can go in odd directions. I really don't need to tell you what Robert Downey Jr has been up to since, while Rob Lowe - who was the baddest of the bad in the Brat Pack - has also gone on to numerous decent roles in things like The West Wing and Parks and Recreation, and Kiefer Sutherland became the TV star of the 2000s as Jack Bauer in 24 and Demi Moore became an action movie star. Others have branched off into different parts of the industry - Emilio Estevez won a standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival for his biopic of Robert Kennedy, Bobby, which he wrote and directed.

Spader, by contrast, has gone through a slow process of 'Shatnerisation', slowly going from the acclaimed movie performances of Sex, Lies and Videotape and Crash down into a hammy TV hell of his own making, perhaps in part caused by his proximity to the Shat himself in Boston Legal.

Meanwhile, Andrew McCarthy after sticking around in acting doing the serious likes of John Frankenheimer's Year of the Gun with Sharon Stone…

…ended up mainly behind the camera, the difference being that he's stuck to directing TV, on shows such as Gossip Girl, Alpha House, Orange is the New Black, The Carrie Diaries, and Lipstick Jungle.

Oh, and The Blacklist, which stars James Spader, and for which McCarthy has directed three episodes this season.

"They're both great artists who have had such a wonderful working relationship in the past, it just seemed like too good of an opportunity to pass up," series executive producers Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath said [via].

Look, here they are together behind the scenes. My, don't they look not quite so young? But then, don't we all?

James Spadaer and Andrew McCarthy behind the scenes of The Blacklist

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What TV's hot in Lisbon right now?

Posted yesterday at 10:55 | comments | Bookmark and Share

Good question. See, I was there for the past few days (hence my lack of blogging), and following the success of my previous photo expeditions to LA and New York, including my New York TV advertising feature, I thought I’d give you a brief rundown. With pictures.

So the first thing to note is that Meo is the king of telecoms over there. As well as mobile phones and broadband, they also offer TV services over the phone line, via satellite, via cable and even over 3G/4G. Meo is everywhere, particularly when it comes to WiFi hotspots. However, NOS does pretty much the same thing, including offering a whole range of premium channels, largely featuring US imports, and so has a lot of cash to spend on advertising. Here, for example, towering over the monument to Luís de Camões and this Easter parade is Claire Danes, the star of Segurança Nacional (aka Homeland).

Easter parade Claire Danes

Claire Danes

Traipse all over Lisbon and you’ll spot NOS adverts for everything from Modern Family and Castle through to Vikings and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. However, confusingly, Homeland/Segurança Nacional actually airs on one of Fox International’s channels, which does its own advertising, too. Top of the heap of its advertising and appearing on the wall of pretty much every Metro station in Lisbon? Empire.

Fox's Empire in Lisbon

But NOS, Meo and Fox aren’t the only channels in Lisbon. AXN is out there, too. Top of its promotional considerations and dominating most bus stops and street signage is Chicago Fire.

Chicago Fire in Lisbon

"But, Rob,” you might ask. “Aren’t there any programmes made in Portugal?”

There are a few, at least, including news programmes, although most of the ones I saw advertised were for kids and were cartoons. The only truly ubiquitous advert was for Portugal’s very own version of Masterchef, which was about as common as Empire was on the Metro and airs on TVI, Portugal’s fourth terrestrial TV channel.

MasterChef Portugal

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Look! Here's two Supergirls in one place!

Posted yesterday at 09:39 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Well, here’s something you don’t see very often: not just one but two Supergirls.

Two Supergirls

On the left, we have Melissa Benoist, who plays Kara Zor-El in the new CBS Supergirl; on the right, we have Helen Slater, who played Supergirl in the 80s movie Supergirl.

They’re together in one place because Slater is also appearing in the new Supergirl, as is former Superman Dean Cain, although their exact roles in the show are yet to be revealed.

They’re probably not playing Supergirl’s biological parents (or should that be ‘biological’, given Kryptonian reproduction?), as Laura Benanti has already been cast as Supergirl’s mum Alura Zor-El, but maybe their adoptive parents? No word yet if the show intends to make it a triple and rope in Smallville’s Supergirl, Laura Vandervoort. She's currently slumming it on Bitten, so could probably do with a change.

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February 26, 2015

News: BBC3's Top Coppers, Lady Gaga's American Horror Story, Dougray Scott joins Quantico + more

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February 25, 2015

The Wednesday Play: Les Blair's Blooming Youth (1973)

Posted 7 days ago at 13:43 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

It's strange how history - even TV history - remembers some names and not others. Take Mike Leigh. You'll almost certainly have heard of Mike Leigh, in part because of his film work, but largely because of his work on the BBC's Play For Today, with the likes of Abigail's Party and Nuts In May still famous to this day. In particular, Leigh is known for the improvisational nature of his plays, working with the actors to create the scripts from which the final product is created.

Mike Leigh went to Salford Grammar School where he studied acting. He later moved to Birmingham and worked at the Midlands Art Centre, where he started to develop that famous style of his. He then enrolled on a course at the London Film School. In 1971, he worked on a feature film, Bleak Moments, and was recruited in 1973 by the famed Tony Garnett to make dramas for Play for Today.

The strange thing is that if you replace "Mike Leigh" with "Les Blair" in that previous paragraph, it's still a completely true statement. Blair acted with Leigh in Salford, they shared a flat together in Birmingham, went to the Film School together, and Blair edited and produced Bleak Moments, which Leigh directed.

The big difference between Leigh and Blair, however, is that while Leigh began to edge more into comedy, albeit with a satirical edge, and film, Blair stayed firmly in the realm of TV drama, eventually going on to direct the socio-realistic likes of Law and Order and The Nation's Health with his future long-time collaborator GF Newman. As a result, while Leigh is practically a household name, Les Blair is almost unknown except to TV historians.

Blair's first effort for Play For Today came just three months after Leigh's Hard Labour. Blooming Youth was an improvised drama about a group of polytechnic students sharing a house together, including a world weary cynic, a nervous studious virgin, and a couple in a relationship. Not a lot happens in it, but what marks it out is its realistic depiction of student life at the time, with dingy rooms, epic boredom and other aspects of study that would have been familiar to anyone who'd been to either university or polytechnic.

And it's your Wednesday Play. Enjoy!

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February 24, 2015

That Power Ranger movie with Katee Sackhoff and James Van Der Beek you always wanted

Posted 8 days ago at 15:58 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

You may not have realised it until now, but you did.

[via]

Sesame Street does a House of Cards parody

Posted 8 days ago at 12:29 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

As with most Sesame Street parodies, it's almost better than the real thing. 

[via]

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