Tag: television

Upcoming ‘The Council of Dads’ Adaptation Tackles Mortality & Fatherhood

Each person we’re close with makes us feel a specific and inimitable way—every relationship is different. We are different with different people. Friends, coworkers, and acquaintances all make up the eternally-growing tapestry of our lives. We may grow apart from old friends and make new ones along the way, but the relationships we form will always be a part of who we were and are. In this way, the characters we spend time with are a direct reflection of ourselves. This is the notion that occurred to Bruce Feiler when he was tasked with facing his own mortality.

 

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In 2008, doctors told writer Bruce Feiler there was a cancerous tumor in his femur. Almost immediately, Bruce’s thoughts turned to his children. His three-year-old twin daughters. If he wasn’t around, who would advise them paternally? Tell them to put away their phones at the dinner table and take it easy on the family Suburban? He wanted them to know him. So he made a list of all the qualities of himself he wanted his girls to know and associated them with men he had known throughout his life. He had known these men since the playground, college, and various business ventures—men he trusted but may have lost touch with. He wrote them all letters, six in total, asking them to be a father to his daughters if the worst were to happen.

 

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The worst didn’t happen, and the council was never fully activated, but Feiler’s story became the foundation of his book, The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could Be Me. The memoir became a best-seller and has now, according to Deadline, inspired a television show which was just picked up by NBC. Council of Dads stars Sarah Wayne Callies, Clive Standen, Tom Everett Scott, and J. August Richards. The show tells the story of Scott (quasi Bruce played by Clive Standen) and his family after he receives a potentially terminal diagnosis. Facing this grim prognosis, Scott and his wife (Sarah Wayne Callies) assemble a group of their closest three friends to help guide Scott’s family through all of life’s challenges. Deadline goes on to give us a preview of who these three influential men are as people:

The trusted group of role models Scott has assembled to help his family include his oldest friend Anthony, his AA sponsor Alrry and his surgeon and wife’s best friend Oliver. The three men agree to devote themselves to supporting and guiding Scott’s family through “all the triumphs and challenges life has to offer — just in case he ever can’t be there to do so himself.

 

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NBC is undoubtedly aiming for the type of drama associated with their uber-successful This Is Us in its Council of Dads pickupHopefully, the show will produce the same amount of tearfully smiling faces that the former has. Tony Phelan and Joan Rater will write and executive produce along with Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman, and Kristie Anne Reed. The pilot was directed by James Strong.

 

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‘Inside Family Guy: An Illustrated History’ Includes Insightful Foreword By Seth MacFarlane

As I’m sure all self-deprecating social commentary warriors are aware, Fox’s animated sitcom Family Guy turned twenty this year. The show centers on the Griffin family who live in the fictional city of Quahog, Rhode Island. As South Park‘s younger sibling (by fifty-ish episodes) it has offered us many a politically incorrect glimpse into the mind of its creator, Seth MacFarlane—glimpses outlined by the endearing nature of Saturday morning cartoons. Except the first episode didn’t air on a Saturday…it aired on a Sunday: January 31st, 1999.

 

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Since then, the show’s outlandish success has given Seth MacFarlane the type of creative freedom and voice that is usually only recognizable in the work of Hollywood’s greatest monarchs; people like Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. And yes, I used the word monarch on purpose—for some reason I’ve always associated Hollywood’s hierarchy with that of a Monarchy. Accomplished old men inhabiting the position of king, while Beyonce rules as Queen, naturally.

Not only does MacFarlane serve as the adult cartoon’s creator, but he is also an animator, voice actor, and writer for the series. His ambition and comedic fortitude have led to the creation of various Family Guy-like spin-offs, a sub-par Star Trek parody, and brilliant films such as Ted and Ted 2 (the latter being less brilliant). Despite whatever critical response his work may have received MacFarlane has never lost his sense of mockery, insight, and charm that seems to universally resonate with all of the overworked and underpaid “every man/woman” who retreats to their couch after a long day of not writing for network television. One can’t help but respect a man who has navigated the kingdom of overtly dramatic awards shows, self-obsessed talk shows, and aimless red carpet events with enough humility to lampoon popular culture admirably—and often.

The upcoming book (set to be published on May 14th),  Inside Family Guy: An Illustrated History by Frazier Moore maps the development of the show before and after its first fateful Sunday. The book will feature a “full-color visual guide honoring [the show’s reign—from storyboard’s to character sketch to script excerpts to cast and crew interviews.” The product’s most intriguing inclusion (in my opinion) is the forward written by Seth MacFarlane himself. It can be read below, so no need to ever purchase this book—you’re welcome.

 

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If you’re holding this book, I assume you’re in line at the airport gift shop and just realized you forgot to buy something for your nephew with the Adderall thing. Well, luckily for you, Fox figured, “In this digital world, what’s better than a heavy, cumbersome coffee-table book that also destroys our quickly vanishing forests?”
It’s hard to believe Family Guy has been on the air for 20 years. And that’s because it technically hasn’t. The show was cancelled multiple times by different people, all of whom have long since been fired. The last cancellation occurred in 2001, which historians agree was the worst thing to happen that year. Fortunately, Family Guy was revived in response to massive sales of DVDs, which, I assume, stands for “Dick Van Dyke.”

When the show first aired in 1999, Bill Clinton was president, Roseanne had to express her racist thoughts to one person at a time and the quickest way to become a millionaire was to burn your balls with McDonald’s coffee. Yes, a lot has changed since then. But one thing that hasn’t changed are the jokes. We put the same ones in every week.

Few shows are lucky enough to last so long that their writers die of natural causes. As of this printing, Family Guy has aired more than 300 episodes and shows few signs of slowing down, having received a variety of awards printed on surfboards and a handful of positive reviews. Uhp, I’m now being forced to mention the Family Guy mobile game, Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff. Relive the fun of the show with hilarious in-app purchases. It’s “freakin’ sweet. (TM)

In all seriousness, I am truly grateful to everyone who has made this show possible. What started as the student project of a bespectacled RISD geek grew and flourished thanks to the tireless work and enormous contributions of a hugely talented collection of writers, producers, artists, cast and crew. But most of all, I’d like to thank the devoted fans, who literally brought Family Guy back from the dead and allowed us to continue working on this show we all love.

 

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'Game of Thrones' Cast Members

‘Game of Thrones’ Cast Sends Video Messages to Dying Fan

What do we say to the God of death?

You ever have this strange feeling like you miss someone you’ve never met? You look for them everywhere and in everyone, but nothing fills that void. Then maybe you realize that the person you miss might just be a part of yourself, a tiny fraction rooted in uninhibited truth. A fraction that is often felt and filled when you pick up a book or stumble upon a story that negates any emptiness. Because sometimes, a good story is exactly what you’ve been looking for—what you’ve missed.

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George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire became the friend a lot of people never knew they missed. Stories like the ones that take place in Westeros operate as a distraction: a distraction from the things that might agitate us. A good story strips away our day to day worries and allows us to just be… well, us, even in the face of our own mortality. At this moment in time, the internet is flooded with GoT news, theories, and tidbits—impassioned discourse. People rally behind certain characters, resonate with certain themes, and complain about certain lighting issues.

What we see is a part of ourselves—a part that we choose to share with each other. Stories like these connect us. I’m not sure if it’s a good or a bad thing. Countless miracles and monstrosities are happening around the world at this very moment; we choose to focus on fiction.

Not Today.

 

Today we can focus on both. I read an article on WCVB’s website—about an eighty-eight-year-old woman in hospice from Rhode Island. A woman who loves a good story. This woman’s name was Claire Walton, and, like the rest of the world, she was and is a fan of Game of Thrones. Last week, she found herself marinating in anticipation for Sunday’s episode of GoT‘s finale season—an episode that had been hyped as containing one of the biggest battles sequences ever put on film. Claire joked with her care providers that she wanted to meet the cast before she died, but would settle for watching “The Battle of Winterfell/The Long Night.”

It is reported that caretakers at HopeHealth in Providence reached out to the cast regarding her fandom, and magic ensued. Ten actors from the series sent Claire reverent messages—most notably Liam Cunningham, (Sir Davos Seaworth), Miltos Yerolemou (Syrio Forel), and Josef Altin (Pypar).

“I hope you’re fit enough to watch the battle,” Cunningham said. “I wish you the very best. I hope your days are not bad and I hope you can manage. Take care!”

You can watch some of the messages via video a hospice care provider posted on Facebook:

 

Claire watched the episode in its entirety Sunday before dying Monday afternoon. Her story reminds us of one thing:  a good story can change lives—it can bring fame and joy to people as well as hope and understanding. A good story can teach us a little bit more about the human condition, bring people together, or just make someone’s day. Claire Walton’s motives were simple. In the end, she just wanted to watch her favorite show and fill herself with the type of joy that can only come from the company of a friend or a good story. Something about that feels more triumphant than the perfectly timed placement of a Valyrian steel dagger.

The HBO series set various viewership records Sunday night.

 

 

 

Featured Image Via Metro UK.

‘Solo’ Actor Alden Ehrenreich to Star In ‘Brave New World’ Series

No one can compete with the swagger of Harrison Ford. It goes without saying that his portrayal of everyone’s favorite smuggler is iconic. Whether he was blasting Greedo or affirming a woman’s love for him by simply uttering “I know…” Han Solo epitomized the swashbuckling aspect of Star Wars. An aspect that has been cemented in nostalgia and generational angst for forty or so years. It would take a truly courageous actor to take on the role of Han Solo in the wake of Harrison Ford’s lightsaber to the gut departure—or it would take Alden Ehrenreich.

 

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Image Via washingtonpost.com

 

He did alright; to be fair, Solo: A Star Wars Story was an enjoyable film. With a solid script, charming cast (Donald Glover killing it as Lando) and decent execution; you can’t hate it. Ehrenreich succeeds as a Han Solo all his own, he doesn’t try to be Harrison Ford because you can’t. Still, it didn’t meet the expectations of Star Wars fans and Ehrenreich has basically been unemployed ever since. Until now. In an article on Deadline‘s website, it was reported that Alden Ehrenreich is set to play the lead role in a series adaption of Aldous Huxley’s novel, Brave New World. 

 

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The series has been attached to various networks over the course of the past few months but is now apparently going to be a flagship series for the upcoming NBCU streaming platform, set to launch in 2020. The series is being written and developed by David Wiener (Fear the Walking Dead), Grant Morrison, and Brian Taylor and is aforementioned based on Huxley’s groundbreaking novel, Brave New World—the story of a dystopian (or *spoiler alert* failed utopia) society which is basically the result of a lack of individuality or identity. Kind of like an actor being held hostage to his shortcomings as Han Solo…

The novel’s synopsis is as follows (via Goodreads):

Brave New World is a dystopian novel written in 1931 by English author Aldous Huxley and published in 1932. Largely set in a futuristic World State of genetically modified citizens and an intelligence-based social hierarchy, the novel anticipates huge scientific developments in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation, and classical conditioning that are combined to make a utopian society that goes challenged only by a single outsider.

Ehrenreich will play John the Savage, a man who lives outside of the system and drives society towards its “corruption.” It will be interesting to see what Brave New World‘s quasi-timeless themes say about contemporary society; the series is rumored to take place in 2054 as opposed to 1932. The series will run ten episodes with Owen Harris (Black Mirror) set to direct at least one episode. Expect some trippy shit.

 

 

Featured Image Via Independent.co.uk

'GoT' Showrunners, looking completely unperturbed

‘Game of Thrones’ Showrunners Nervous About Ending

And they should be.

Endings suck—especially when it comes to the conclusion of stories we love/loved. Sometimes stories are ruined by their less-than-spectacular final act. We read them for days and watch them for years as their inevitable finales approach, hoping our favorite characters go out in an appropriately cliché blaze of glory or meet a romantically tragic end. In a weird way, our favorite books, movies, and shows become a huge part of our lives—our own personal (REAL) narratives framing that of popular protagonists and their worlds. So, naturally, we fall in love with all of the underdogs, chosen ones, and antiheroes we spend time with. Maybe we even project unrealistic expectations onto the endings of their stories because we are afraid our own stories may not end so perfectly—however, let’s not think ourselves into an existential crisis.

 

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But yeah, often, our expectations are not met. The epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was… a tonal shift? The Giver tapers off into ambiguity. Pennywise is a demon spider? WTF. Let’s not even discuss the endings to The Hunger Games Trilogy or the plethora of television shows that broke our hearts; yeah, I’m talking to you, How I Met Your Mother (Ted and Robin? Still?), The Sopranos, Dexter, and Lost. I suppose not every series can bow out as brilliantly as Breaking Bad. Well done W.W.

 

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Image Via Independent.co.uk

 

As we prepare for the Game of Thrones finale, based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (duh), the healthy thing to do is lower our expectations. If we do not, we risk the kind of dejection that will threaten every aspect of our lives as we re-watch/re-read the story wondering where it all went wrong. Making peace with inevitable disappointment will be beneficial for our hearts, souls, and more importantly—the well-being of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. The showrunners of GoT will be frantically chain-smoking and stress eating upon finale night as they continuously check the interweb for words of praise or admonishment.

 

Image Via Deviantart.com by 1oshuart

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss talked with Entertainment Weekly regarding the final season of their show and any concerns they may have for its ending (among other things):

 

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So here you are. The final season. How is it? Are you happy?

DAVID BENIOFF: It’s still too early to say.

DAN WEISS: It could end up being a complete mess.

 

David Benioff went on to further discuss the subject of endings… perhaps to avoid discussing the ending that looms?

“A good story isn’t a good story if you have a bad ending,” he said, a sentiment which we hope not to dismally remember later as a sign of foreshadowing. “Of course, we worry.”

He also didn’t think The Sopranos ending was that bad…

I’ve gotten into a lot of arguments with people about why that was a great ending, but people felt legitimately cheated and that’s their right to feel that way, just as it’s my right to feel like they’re idiots. I’m hoping we get the ‘Breaking Bad’ [finale] argument where it’s like, ‘Is that an A or an A+?’ I want that to be the argument. I just wish we found better directors for it.

The final season will air its last premiere episode this Sunday. Will Jon Snow defeat the Night King? Will Dany sit on the Iron Throne? Will their baby? Will Gendry? Buckle up… but don’t drive too fast (metaphorically?) We don’t know where this road ends up, and we don’t know if we’ll like it.

Closing musing: if the final season sucks, George R.R. Martin can (and most likely will) build a better conclusion in his forthcoming novels The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring. Perhaps this was the big guy’s plan all along—take his ending (which he has divulged to David and Dan) for a test run. All hail our Westerosi world builder.

 

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Enjoy the lobster, my friend, you deserve it.

 

 

 

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