Tag Archive | Gossip Girl

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

Posted on March 4, 2015 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

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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Preview: The Flash 1x1 (The CW)

Posted on July 1, 2014 | comments | Bookmark and Share

The Flash review

In the US: Tuesdays, 8pm ET, The CW. Starts October 7

Superheroes are all the rage at the cinema right now. In the comics book world, DC and Marvel predominate, but for many years, DC was the only real name at the movies, with Batman and Superman movies galore. However, Marvel has now not only caught up, it’s setting the pace and showing how comics should be adapted. So while DC has gone dark, gritty and important in the past decade, an attitude that the Lego Movie mercilessly mocked…

…Marvel has gone for relatively light, fun movies, such as Iron Man, Thor and the forthcoming Guardians of the Galaxy. DC's movies have also been self-contained, while Marvel has had its superbeings unite in The Avengers and guest in each other's movies and TV shows with aplomb.

But DC is picking up the pace, both at the movies and on TV. The forthcoming Batman v Superman is going to feature not only the eponymous two heroes, it's also got Wonder Woman, Cyborg and various other members of the Justice League lined up to appear, with more movies together and individually lined up if these are a success. And on the small screen, it has the continuing adventures of Green Arrow in Arrow and Batman prequel Gotham lined up for the autumn/fall.

But it's still all a bit dark and gritty, isn't it? However, DC appears to be well aware of its gloomy reputation so it's giving us something a bit lighter and a bit more fun. And since The CW did so well with first Smallville (the Guinness World Record holder 'longest consecutive running sci-fi TV show') and then Arrow and believes that superheroes are the best way to attract male viewers who might have been scared off by all that Gossip Girl and The Carrie Diaries, it seems appropriate for it to be the launchpad for this new show based on one of DC's (literally) lightest characters: The Flash, a character who ends up being able move even faster than Superman, following a laboratory accident.

Indeed, for the past season of Arrow, The CW has been slowly introducing The Flash and his helper monkeys to viewers, inserting him (and them) pre-powers into various episodes, originally intending to turn one episode into a backdoor pilot. It backed off from that idea and instead decided to give him a launch episode all of his own.

And not only is it very good, in some ways better even than Arrow’s first episode, it’s really just what DC is looking for - fun, light and full of crossovers from other superheroes. Just don’t be too surprised if it all seems very familiar and a bit… light.

But first, here’s a dark and gritty (hugely spoilering) trailer - it seems some habits die hard.

Continue reading "Preview: The Flash 1x1 (The CW)"

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The Wednesday Play: Blue Remembered Hills (1979)

Posted on July 3, 2013 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Blue Remembered Hills

Anyone who's ever watched US TV that features teenagers and young people will have noted that fairly frequently, adult actors have been cast in roles that they're clearly too old for. Think of Buffy The Vampire Slayer: set in a High School for its first three seasons, it featured Charisma Carpenter as one of its pupils – at the time of the first season, Carpenter was 27 years old, despite playing a 16-year-old. Smallville – which got the subtitle of Superman: The Early Years over here – featured Tom Welling as the 16-year-old Clark Kent, when at the time he was 24. Add to that list shows like Gossip Girl, Modern Family and Pretty Little Liars, and you can see a pretty concerted strategy to not employ young people to play young people.

The general aim, of course, has been to get people with acting talent and the emotional maturity required for roles, as well as to make them allowably fanciable (in certain cases). Plus there's those tricky child labour laws, education and so on to deal with.

But famed playwright Dennis Potter (The Singing Detective, Brimstone and Treacle) went to a different extreme, using the technique in an entirely different way in a number of plays for entirely different reasons. Both Stand Up Nigel Barton and his final work, Cold Lazarus, saw Potter casting very much grown adults in the roles of children to emphasise aspects of childishness in adults, to highlight the differences, and to achieve emotional resonances and performances that might not be achieved with child actors.

Perhaps his best use of the device was in Blue Remembered Hills, a Play For Today that aired in 1979. The play gets its name from poem XL of AE Housman's A Shropshire Lad, 'The Land of Lost Content', which is read by Potter himself during the play:

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

It stars Michael Elphick (Boon, Private Schulz), Robin Ellis (Poldark), Helen Mirren (do I have to remind you? Prime Suspect, at the very least), Colin Welland (Z-Cars), Janine Duvitski (Diane), Colin Jeavons (Inspector Lestrade in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes) and John Bird (Bremner, Bird and Fortune) as the seven-year-olds in question. Probably the closest point of comparison is Lord of the Flies, with a group of normal children playing in the Forest of Dean one summer afternoon in 1943 but victimisation, stereotyping and brutality setting in over time, with tragic results.

Since airing on TV, the screenplay has been adapted for the theatre and is now a standard text at GCSE Drama. Enjoy, and remember if you like it, buy it on DVD to support those nice people who made it in the first place.

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