Pop Culture Roundup March 2014

oscarselfie

1. The Oscar telecast didn’t totally suck!

I was not crazy about host Ellen DeGeneres’ opening monologue (look, Liza Minnelli is fair game, but don’t insult her to her face on live TV where close to 1 billion people can see her reaction) but otherwise she did a good job. I thought the “selfie” segment was cute, and so was calling up for pizza. Both moments had genuine elements, such as nominee Lupita Nyong’o’s brother Junior jumping in with some of the biggest stars on the planet for the photo and a real pizza guy distributing the pizza.

Ellen asking viewers to retweet the photo not only broke the record for most retweets, it broke Twitter, which went down for a while because of the flood of traffic. It also inspired a host of parody photos, including a Simpsons version.

Along with the streaker and Sally Field’s “You like me!” speech, John Travolta’s mangling of Idina Menzel’s name will now forever be a part of Oscar lore. Slate Magazine put a John Travolta mispronounced name generator on its site, which quickly became its most trafficked page. (Mine was Daniel Garceea. I may use that if I ever need a male pseudonym.)

On the negative side, there were, as usual, too many clip segments. This year’s theme “Heroes” mainly served to highlight the whiteness and maleness of mainstream Hollywood movies. Then there was that awkward moment when Bette Midler sang “The Wind Beneath My Wings” after, instead of during, the memorial segment, because some of the deaths were not heroic, i.e. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death from an overdose.

But mostly the show was good. There were some genuinely heartfelt speeches and fun moments.

The best part? For east coasters like me, it was the show going only half-hour overtime, ending just before midnight.

adamdriver

2. It was announced that the Star Wars movie will begin filming in May and that the story takes place 30 years after The Return of the Jedi.

Thank you, Captains Obvious. Since we have known for a while that the original stars were returning, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out when the story for the new film would take place.

STILL no official casting news for the younger stars, though there are plenty of rumors. The biggest (and possibly most accurate) is that Adam Driver (Girls) is negotiating to play the Vader-like villain.

Moi approves of the choice, if it happens.

Lots of names put forth for the young hero–besides Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad) there has also been talk of Ed Speleers (Downton Abbey), John Boyega (Attack the Block), as well as some virtual unknowns.

The most exciting casting rumor this past month (and probably the least likely to happen) was the report that Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) met with JJ Abrams about a role in the movie. And that might be all it was–a meeting. But, dang, I wish it would happen! Reportedly, besides the young female lead there will be an evil female Sith character. I think Lupita would be AMAZING in either role.

heroes

3. NBC has committed to 13 new episodes of their cancelled series Heroes.

And my only question is:

Why?

This show breaks my heart when I think about it. The first half of Season 1 was fantastic. Then it went into freefall and never recovered.

Not only that, but many of the stars–i.e. Hayden Panettiere, Zachary Quinto and Adrian Pasdar–are committed to other projects and are unlikely to be available.

Of course it’s possible that they’ll find new stars and will correct some of the mistakes they made in the past, but frankly, this just smells of desperation.

TWoP

4. The web site Television Without Pity is shutting down.

A fan site that evolved into one of the first to regularly recap television episodes, at one point it was so important that show creators would sometimes appear on its forums. Of course, now there are a ton of entertainment sites like it, but it’s sad to see it go. It really did have a lot to do with how entertainment sites on the internet are shaped now.

The archives of the site’s recaps are also going to be much more difficult to access. Not only is this the end of an era, a piece of internet history is going to virtually disappear.

windsofwinter

5. George R.R. Martin released an excerpt from his next novel, The Winds of Winter.

You can read it here.

Martin also gave an interview in Vanity Fair where he discusses his work, the translation of the books to TV, and  what may happen to the series if it catches up to the books.

6. Warner Bros. has announced that the Harry Potter spin-off, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, will be made into a movie trilogy.

Sure, this can be seen as another movie studio mercilessly milking a franchise, but I think this has great potential, depending on the talent involved. It also has J.K. Rowling’s approval–and that’s all I need to know.

7. Entranced Publishing has folded.

This is sad news for both writers and readers of romance fiction. A small press similar to Entangled Publishing, which by all accounts is doing very well, it looked like it was on the same road to success. Although their writers will get their rights back, it’s pretty much a given they will never see the royalties they are still owed.

Here is an overview of what happened to Entranced.

8. Divergent had an excellent opening weekend box-office take of $55.5 million.

Even though that fell squarely in the studio’s expectation range of $50 – $60 million, the media still tried to paint it as a disappointment.

Sigh.

9. This is quite possibly the greatest cover of “Let it Go” from Frozen to date:

There have been several wonderful covers released, like this Africanized version, and this adorable medley of tunes from the movie, but this one is in a separate class of amazing. It’s the song done in the voices of 21 different Disney characters. The incredibly talented performer is Brian Hull, a student at Dallas Baptist University.

10. Director Michael Bay is planning a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.

Well, there’s goes any good feeling I had for Bay because he executive produces my favorite new show, Black Sails.

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3 thoughts on “Pop Culture Roundup March 2014

  1. I was planning to mention Television Without Pity on my own blog (and still might). Glad you did. NBC ruined it once they bought it. The media seem to be paying more attention to Daily Candy shutting down, but I’m going to miss TwoP more. As for the remake of The Birds, the special effects of the Hitchcock original are really dated now, but after seeing what Bay is doing to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I’m very afraid.

    1. I think it’s unconscionable that NBC is not keeping at least the TWoP recap archives easily available. Very short-sighted.

      For me, the special effects are not the issue. Not even that someone is remaking it. It’s that Bay is the one doing it. He has his niche and he should stick to it.

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