Legions of Angela Chase fans are about to have a new hero to worship. Winnie Holzman, the creator of the cult hit My S0-Called Life, will be the showrunner for the upcoming Showtime series Roadies, the pilot of which was written and directed by Cameron Crowe. In a plot reminiscent of Crowe's film Almost Famous, the ensemble comedy will take place on a rock tour across the United States, and will focus on the people who work behind the scenes. A pilot is currently in development, and according to NikkiFinke.com, if the network decides to move forward with Roadies, Holzman will take over starting with the second episode. It might not be a My So-Called Life reunion, but for fans of the show, it's still worth getting excited over.
Though it only lasted one season, My So-Called Life has become a cult hit thanks to its honest, realistic protrayal of teenagers and the issues they deal with, and Angela Chase, Rayanne Graff, Rickie Vasquez and Jordan Catalano have turned into cultural touchstones. Since its cancellation, fans have been looking for another show that will fill the void left by the loss of their favorite characters and another teen TV show that isn't too preachy or unrealistic. And while it's been too long since the time we spent at Liberty High School for a renunion or reboot, it seems like Roadies might be just what fans need to move on.
In subject, Roadies is nothing like My So-Called Life; where one was about regular students in a normal high school, the other will be set on a rock tour, which is perhaps the most glamourous and intriguing location imaginable. However, Roadies isn't about the celebrities on stage. It's about the regular people who do the hard work of setting up and tearing down equipment and keeping the show running smoothly. They have the least glamorous job on the tour, but they're the most in touch with reality. By focusing the show on the roadies, Holzman will be able to keep things grounded and authentic in much the same way that she was able to make Angela feel like a real person you might have hung out with.
Exploring that realism is part of the reason why it makes sense to air Roadies on a channel like Showtime, which gives the writers more freedom with what they can include. Though showbusiness is glamorous and fun, it has a dark side, and it wouldn't be realistic for the show to leave those aspects out. On Showtime, Holzman and the writers would be able to showcase some of the seedier things that happen on a rock tour, without having to worry about network standards and censors. But while many shows would glmaorize the darker elements of the rock and roll lifestyle, Holzman will likely find the right balance in order to keep things grounded and avoid showcasing twisted or disturbing things just for the sake of shock value. It might sound like an impossible feat, but if anyone will be able to keep a show about rock stars grounded, it will likely be Holzman. Plus, thanks to her work on Broadway with the hit show Wicked, she'll also be able to ensure that the show has enough flash and spectacle, without letting it overwhelm the characters at its heart.
Moving to a more mature channel is also fitting for a follow-up show to My So-Called Life. Just as the fans of My So-Called Life have grown up and now have more adutl conflicts and concerns, so does Holzman's show. Though we're sure that Roadies will deal with the usual television issues of identity, friendship and romance, the content of the show will likely be a lot more mature, and will probably have larger consequences than many of the issues that My So-Called Life dealt with. Of course, it's thanks to that show's darker, more dramatic storylines that we can have confidence in Holzman's handling of whatever conficlts arise on Roadies, as well as her talent at giving the stories the right amount of depth and emotional weight.
My So-Called Life dealt with a lot of the same issues that Crowe handles in Almost Famous: struggling to figure out who you are, breaking away from the preconceptions that people held about you, learning that the people you idolize and worship might not be worth your attention, how to car for a friend who is struggling, navigating complicated relationships and love triangles of every permutation. That's why Holzman is the perfect choice for Roadies, which seems as if it will focus on a lot of the same elements as Almost Famous. Her expereince with those themes will help Roadies hit the right emotional beats and make sure that it stays true to its message, and maybe even help it become another classic. Besides, William and Angela, Russell and Jordan and Penny Lane and Rayanne already have plenty in common, so Holzman should have no problem handling whatever new characters Crowe comes up with.
It might not be the same as My So-Called Life, but Roadies has the potential to be just as entertaining, relatable, and long-lastig thanks to Holzman's involvement. Sure, Crowe is the bigger name, but when it comes to writing shows with heart and autheticity, there's nobody we'd trust more than her.
What with the arrival of the new Winnie the Pooh movie, I've begun thinking back to my childhood. Some of my earliest memories, dating back as far as my second and third years of life, are movies...and I'm not just saying that because my assignment was to come up with the best movies for young children. I do mean it, movies shaped my life. Right around when I should have been developing social skills, I was actually setting the foundation for lifelong obsession with movies. Naturally, my tastes back then diverge slightly from those of present day (although my pre-Kindergarten self did have a strange penchant for Oliver Stone). As I do now, I had my small group of films that I’d watch over and over without ever becoming bored with them. Some, I now recognize, were crap. They offered nothing to my growing mind, did a shoddy job of highlighting the ideas of character, story or a moral in a constructive way, or were just really inappropriate. But some, let me tell you, were gold: really wholesome, plausibly educational, and genuinely good, worthwhile entertainment for young children. Hollywood.com has compiled a list of these types of movies for every one of our readers who has access to a child through which to earn an excuse to watch them:
Let’s kick this off with a classic Disney film, since I’ve been programmed from birth to associate the corporation with happiness. A movie that I would consider one of the greatest achievements of Disney animation, specifically for young children, is Peter Pan. Starting with the surface value aspects: it’s a comical, colorful journey in a magical imaginary land with flying fairies and children dressed in rabbit-eared coveralls. The whole story is about what it means to be a kid, which, as a kid, you’d never really consider or appreciate; but you’d enjoy watching a movie about it the same. The thing that really sells this for me over other Disney cartoons is its lack of severity. Captain Hook thinks of himself as a tyrant and a menace to justice, but he’s actually a pretty big goof, constantly being chased around by an alligator (who had a clock in his stomach for a reason I don’t remember). For older kids, the more threatening villains of Scar and Jafar of Disney films that came out in my lifetime might present a more legitimate story—but for toddlerhood, I think a comical, non-scary villain will do just fine.
There’s too much to say about Charlotte’s Web to do it justice in a short summation. It is rife with depth. It’s at once about friendship, identity, mortality, responsibility, growth, time and the circle of life (but it's not all in your face about it like some movies I know). The complexity of the themes and the plot, which is more or less episodic teamed with a sort of archaic, rural vernacular used by the majority of the characters (or maybe that's just the Long Island snob in me talking) did keep me from a complete understanding of what was going on throughout the movie. But as a kid, I wasn't so hung up on following every detail. The likability of each of the characters, especially Paul Lynde's snide derelict,Templeton the rat, and the triumphantly catchy songs were enough to convince me to watch this movie on a weekly basis.
BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN
This is one of those kids’ movies that was like a freaking acid trip. A couple of children get teleported to a mountain after chasing a couple of bears, or gremlins, or something—there were fairies and creatures and insane colors and people singing…it was a pretty wild adventure. But I remember it being ample entertainment. The film culminates with an allegory about a rabbit transforming into a “goon” as punishment for unkind behavior, which provokes the following wordplay delivered by a Boston Brahmin owl: “Hare today, goon tomorrow!” Now, as a kid, I had no idea why the entire cast broke out laughing when he said. But as a young adult, I finally understand. Comic genius.
THE CARE BEARS MOVIE
It’s really hard to take a definitively positive stance on Care Bears. The films were not particularly well-written or fertile with any sort of artistic merit. Personally, they didn’t leave as lasting an impression on me as did the other movies I’ve listed here. But, when it comes right down to it, they’re nice. They’re simply about the value of love. Happiness. Kindness. Caring. And I guess, in principle, I don’t particularly oppose any of those things. It’s good to instill morality in children—even you are beating them over the head with it like this movie is. But truly, The Care Bears Movie and each of its sequels are a decent watch for children. They’re certainly better than the other extreme, anyway.
FOLLOW THAT BIRD
I recently tried to impart Sesame Street onto my nine month-old nephew (which might make up for having read him the first chapter of Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail). He took to the show pretty well—I think the focus was on the letter 'G'. Did you know they’re still doing letters? And you know what else? Maria is still on the show! What a trooper.
But I digress. Follow That Bird is the tops. Familiar, beloved characters stepping out of their ordinary setting to take on a more exciting adventure—I think that’s what makes an epic childhood movie. For those unfamiliar, Big Bird is relocated to a family of birds somewhere out in the boondocks by an antagonistic but generally well-intentioned social worker who deems Sesame Street an unfit home for BB, due to his lack of bird companions. I do remember struggling with the idea that Big Bird doesn’t have a literal family of his own—which is pretty heavily what the plot was about—which conjured up some solemn wonderings on what might have happened to them. But this passes pretty early on, as there’s a ton of funny stuff going on with all of the Sesame Street residents, who take to the road in a It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World style to bring Big Bird home. There’s also a tangential plot wherein a couple of sleazy carnival-runners kidnap Big Bird to use him in an act—but the bad guys here are way too goofy to be threatening in any way. The best part about this movie, which I found out while doing research for this article: one of the two "bad guys" was played by Uncle Trevor from Arrested Development, which I guess makes this movie…for Birdish eyes onlyyy!
I am SO sorry for that.
MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO
Roger Ebert has called this one of his all-time favorite movies. I don’t know if that validates anything, but it can’t hurt. Maybe it can... forget I brought it up. My Neighbor Totoro is a Japanese film about two young sisters' friendships with woodland sprites. It has been genuinely revered by pretty much every movie critic out there since its release in 1993; all of whom seem to praise especially the authenticity of the two girls, aged approximately ten and four. My Neighbor Totoro creates a world of beauty and whimsy instead of peril and dangers to be overcome, as do many children's cartoons, inscrutably. The film is more about conveying the wonder of and promoting an appreciation for life than it is a means to tell a linear story; the provocation of a child's senses of fascination and imagination is something that can never be overdone.
MILO AND OTIS
This might very well be the greatest children’s movie ever made. I found it in the discount bin at Wal-Mart in my sophomore year of college—that was a big Wal-Mart year for me—bought it and watched it with one of my housemates: absolute GOLD. Milo is a cat, Otis is a pug, Dudley Moore is the comic genius who voices them, and pure, unadulterated glory is what they deliver. It has everything a kid needs: is a story, narration, dialogue, the works. But for kids who may get confused by plotlines or have trouble focusing on stories (I was one… I remember having no idea what the hell was going on in Aladdin), this movie is still enjoyable, thanks to the adorable animals exploring fascinating forests, teamed with funny exchanges in goofy voiceover. Mostly, it’s about friendship: one of the best values you can instill in a child. Through all their adventures, Milo and Otis never give up on each other. Despite an innate tendency toward enemyship between cats and dogs which has been propagandized via every cartoon ever made, Milo and Otis stick together, get each others' backs, compliment one another's characters, and prove to all audiences that there is some good in the world. And THAT is the kind of thing we all want our kids to believe. Probably. I wouldn't know, I'm just an uncle.
I know that everyone who reads this article will lament my overlooking of his or her childhood favorite. I've even left a few of my own preferences out: Toy Story, Homeward Bound, 101 Dalmations, The Muppets Movie, Brave Little Toaster, Platoon...we were all touched by different masterworks of cinema at early ages, so to each of us, there will be different Classic Childhood Movies.
But we can all agree on one thing: Fantasia was freaky as hell.