July 18, 2012 9:02am EST
There's never been a better time to be a Batman fan.
Alongside the work of director Christopher Nolan, who has brought Batman to life on the big screen for the last seven years all culminating with this week's The Dark Knight Rises, lives another equally impressive incarnation of the Caped Crusader. Evolving from their successful run with Batman: The Animated Series from the early '90s, DC's animation branch has spun off the small screen storytelling into a mature interpretation of the character's many stories. The straight-to-DVD market has opened the floodgates for creative storytelling; whereas Batman theatrical movies have to play to wide audiences, the small screen movies can dive right in.
Comic book arcs rely on the foundation of every other book. Knowing X, Y, and Z, writers can explore specific characteristics of a character or conjure up "what if" scenarios that complicate the established backstories. DC Animation does the same thing with their films, often times adapting specific books that take a limited knowledge to truly appreciate. Hollywood blockbusters rarely drop you straight into the action — think The Amazing Spider-Man, a film that opted to retell the origin with a new cast over building upon the originals. Assuming anyone who watches a comic book animated film knows their basic Batman mythology, DC Animated films can brush off the laborious setup and get to the good stuff. They're pure Batman.
Proving that mass audiences may not be ready for one-off theatrical experiences was the animated Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, which hit screens in 1993. Riding the high from Tim Burton's Batman and Batman Returns, along with the pervading artistry on display in Batman: The Animated Series, the jump for cartoon Batman made perfect sense. Unfortunately, for a theatrical endeavor, the movie flew under necessary profits, only raking in $5.6 million at the box office. Quality wasn't a factor — Mask of the Phantasm is one of Batman's best outings, live-action or animated — but the presentation and story didn't have the same appeal. "Who the heck is The Phantasm anyway!?" cried many a casual Bat-fan.
After reinventing the animated brand with comic adaptations in the TV cartoon series Justice League, DC Animation found themselves directly tapped into the fandom vein. The Direct-to-DVD movies quickly spun out of it. Suddenly, the studio was producing the stories they wanted to tell, in the style they wanted to tell them, all while making the money work (the consistent Blu-ray sales amount to about half of the entire Mask of the Phantasm gross). Sharing most of the slate with his alien counterpart Superman, Batman's cartoon ventures have brought some of his most famous ventures to life with top-notch production value. In 2008, the Dark Knight appeared in Justice League: The New Frontier, a 1950s spin on the supergroup that features Jeremy Sisto voicing Bruce Wayne. New Frontier is exactly the type of material that would never be adapted as a live-action movie. Perfect for comic books, but too weird, too high concept for casual fans. Later that same year, piggybacking off of Nolan's The Dark Knight, DCA released Batman: Gotham Knight, an anthology film in the vein of The Matrix spin-off The Animatrix. The push on the animation side of DC is to always reinvent, and with Gotham Knight, Batman finally received an anime makeover courtesy of Japan's top animators.
Surprisingly, Batman's Direct-to-DVD adventures aren't just excuses to see the character kicking ass in various landscapes. Those movies certainly pop every once in awhile (2009's Superman/Batman: Public Enemies and its follow-up, 2010's Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, are really just the World's Finest duo pounding away at famous villains), but the success of their early work has afforded DC Animation to push the envelope even further and craft emotional stories that would require too much explanation in big screen form. 2010's Batman: Under the Red Hood stars Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek) and tells the story of Jason Todd, Batman's youngest Robin, who was brutally murdered by The Joker. Batman is forced to confront the devastating incident years later when a new villain, the Red Hood, arrives to town. Clues reveal that Red Hood may in fact be the deceased Todd. Child murder and revenge — anyone still think cartoons are for kids?
DC Animation's future continues to look bright, especially when it comes to Batman. The studio recently adapted another famed comic, Frank Miller's Batman: Year One, a gritty, reworked origin story that's cited as a strong influence in the current Batman theatrical films. The talent pool is growing too — Year One was brought to life courtesy of Bryan Cranston, Katee Sackhoff, and Eliza Dushku. Down the road, DCA aims to adapt another heavy hitter, The Dark Knight Returns, another Frank Miller book that tackles politics in a superheroic parable form. Edgy is an understatement.
While Nolan's Batman trilogy comes to a close, anyone looking for more Bat-entertainment doesn't have to look to far for quality. Risk-taking is limited in big budget Hollywood blockbusters, but it's the foundation of DC Animation and the most important factor in keeping a 73-year-old character alive.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
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[Photo Credit: DC Animation]
May 18, 2012 10:17am EST
Katy Perry is the latest addition to a growing list of superstar performers gearing up to take the stage at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas this year. But this won't just be any old music number fans have heard a million times before. The singer will be debuting her new song, "Wide Awake," written for her upcoming film Katy Perry: Part of Me.
Throughout the years, Perry has become known for her extravagant (and highly irregular) performances, ranking right up there with Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj. Whether she's diving head first into a giant cake (like she did at at the MTV Latin Awards Show in 2008) or turning her breasts into sparkly fireworks, this 27-year-old star knows how to add some extra spark into everything she does.
And that's not even mentioning her eccentric wardrobes and colorful hairstyles (any guesses as to what color it will be this weekend?). So "Wide Awake" is sure to be a real eye opener on Sunday.
Other A-list performers for Sunday night's award show include: Chris Brown, Justin Bieber, Carrie Underwood, LMFAO, Cee Lo Green, Kelly Clarkson, Usher, Linkin Park, Nelly Furtado, Jordin Sparks, John Legend, and The Wanted. Alicia Keys will present the Billboard Icon Award to Stevie Wonder — and perform with the legendary artist — according to Entertainment Weekly.
Notable celebs that will be presenting during the evening include: Whoopi Goldberg, Swizz Beatz, Charlie Sheen, Lisa Marie Presley, Wiz Khalifa, Luke Bryan, Robin Thicke, Brandy, Monica, Miley Cyrus, Taio Cruz, Gavin DeGraw, Gladys Knight, Julianne Hough, Natasha Bedingfield and Jeremy Sisto. Hosting this year's event will be Modern Family co-stars Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell.
The 2012 Billboard Music Awards will take place live in Las Vegas on May 20 at 8 PM EST on ABC.
Katy Perry and Katy Perry Duet in 'Part of Me' — POSTER
Katy Perry 3D Trailer: Boobs, Fireworks and… Headgear?
April 19, 2012 5:00am EST
"We really liked each other a lot and there was a moment when we almost went (for it). And then we didn't - because we were being responsible young adults." Alicia Silverstone on her near-romance with Clueless co-star Jeremy Sisto. The couple has reunited on new U.S. TV show Suburgatory.
March 22, 2012 5:00am EST
"Little man finally told us his name: Bastian Kick Sisto." Actor Jeremy Sisto has finally thought up a name for his baby son, nearly a week after his birth.
March 15, 2012 5:00am EST
The Law & Order star's wife Addie Lane gave birth to a little boy on Friday (09Mar12). The couple has yet to pick out a name.
The tot joins sister Charlie Ballerina, who is two.
He kept fans abreast of the delivery via Twitter.com, writing, "Just bought a teddy bear to give to my daughter 'from' her newborn brother. I'm considering drizzling some placenta on it for believability," and adding, "Don't tell my wife I had two glasses of wine while she had an epidural."
Sisto then gushed about his baby boy during an appearance on breakfast show LIVE! With Kelly on Wednesday (14Mar12), but confessed he's struggling to come up with a name.
He said, "My wife is stressed about it, but I'm hoping something magical happens... that makes me think, 'Oh, well of course this is supposed to be his name.'
"We got an extension at the hospital, but on Friday we do have to go down and put something in, so if we don't have it (name) by then, I think it'll be Baby Boy."
February 08, 2012 5:34am EST
The last thing a father wants to deal with is the thought of his daughter having sex, especially if it involves XXL condoms. Are you lost? We’ll get you up to speed. On tonight’s episode of Suburgatory, George (Jeremy Sisto) will do everything in his power to keep his daughter, Tessa, pure as the driven snow. But Tessa’s new beau, Scott Strause, is an adolescent young man and they only have one thing on their minds. We caught up with Sisto to discuss tonight’s show “Sex and the Suburbs” and a few other projects he has in the works.
First off, tell us about “Sex and the Suburbs.”
You can expect some wacky sex, some awkward sexual encounters and also if you haven’t tuned into the show yet, this is a great show to start because it cuts right to the core of what the show is about. The premise of a father trying to resist the idea that his child is about to be an adult and the desperate attempts the father makes to delay that. My character is in a real state of panic at this point in the story...There is also like I said wacky sexual encounters, which is always fun to watch.
There was something in this episode about a box of XL condoms?
The last episode I found this box of sexual aids and one of the things in there was XL condoms, so basically he [George] has the same problem he started off with but it’s just gotten bigger [laughs].
Was it necessary to have them XL?
Exactly! That’s a comment on the suburbs, I guess. It’s like the worst thing, as a father, you want to see. Way too much information for a father to be having, it just drives George crazy. He has a huge weak spot when it comes to this...he starts doing things he isn’t proud of...The core of that relationship - father and daughter - between George and Tessa is a big part of this episode.
You mentioned he does thing he is not proud of, what can we expect?
There is some really funny sexual stuff and it comes form a place at first he is desperately trying to keep Tessa young and he fails miserably at that. Then his friend brings into question his own masculinity and says he has lost himself and he’s not really a man anymore...So, he kind of acts out in a desire to prove he hasn’t lost his manhood. All in all, it’s one of those days you have, where you are running to prove something to someone and everything is going wrong, and you don’t feel like any action you make is the smart one...That’s what happens to George when his daughter having sex with someone comes up, he just loses himself...When I read who I have my sexual encounter with, I was very surprised.
You have a movie coming out As Cool as I Am with Claire Danes, can you tell us more about that?
It’s about a woman who had a baby at a very young age and now her daughter is a teen, and she is in her 30s, and she is trying to relive some kind of youth. She is trying to become independent from the husband who has been keeping her on the fringes of his life for some time. It’s kind of a character study movie that they don’t make a lot of anymore.
You also have Robot and Frank with Frank Langella and Liv Tyler coming out?
That was at Sundance and got picked up by Sony I think. That’s kind of a weird movie with this kind of friendship story between this robot and this curmudgeonly old ex criminal...That film is really unique.
For more information on Suburgatory, visit ABC, and follow Mike Rothman on Twitter at @TheRealRothman. “Sex and the Suburbs” airs 8:30 p.m. EST tonight on ABC.
December 21, 2011 4:00am EST
The Six Feet Under star's wife Addie Lane is pregnant with a baby boy, a little brother for their two-year-old daughter Charlie Ballerina.
Confirming the news on U.S. chat show The Talk on Tuesday (20Dec11), he said, "It's a boy."
The couple wed in 2009.
December 16, 2011 6:33am EST
Sure, it's been over a decade since the 1990s ended. Sure, this new millenium has brought us an onslought of new culture and technology for which we should be grateful. Sure, it doesn't make sense to keep living in the past and enabling an addiction to nostalgia. I understand all of this. But it doesn't mean I'm not going to embrace my excitement for the Clueless reunion that is about to take place when Alicia Silverstone joins Jeremy Sisto on his new ABC sitcom Suburgatory for a multi-episode arc as the series star's love interest.
Suburgatory has been a bit shaky in its premiere season. But one thing it does have going for it in large doses is good casting. Leading lady Jane Levy is full of talent. And Sisto, as her father/closest friend/leading antagonist, is always a pleasure. Although the last fifteen years have seen Sisto in a slew of projects, we will always remember him as the self-absorbed snob Elton in Clueless, who Cher (Silverstone) vowed to set up with her high school's newcomer Tai (Brittany Murphy).
For a long while now, we could have only imagined a re-Clue-nion (just go with it) in our wistful fantasies. But ABC is granting our wishes, and inviting Silverstone on for a few episodes to play a romantic partner to Sisto's single dad George Altman. It's more than likely that we'll see some confrontation between Silverstone's character and George's confrontational daughter Tessa (Levy), but as of yet, we're not exactly sure what is in store for this exciting story arc.
Sure, it might be bizarre that I'm so enamored by the idea of a Clueless reunion. Sure, latching on to something like a guest casting stint on a sitcom might be an unhealthy way of coping with the passage of time. Sure, you might tell me to "get a life" or "stop living in the past." But to that, I proudly say: as if.
Silverstone will find herself rolling with her old homie sometime after Suburgatory's midseason return to ABC, on Wednesay, Jan. 4, at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT.
October 13, 2011 1:05pm EST
In the first of it's Fall TV pickups, ABC is putting stock in three of its Wednesday night series: Revenge, Suburgatory and Happy Endings.
The first, Revenge, is a melodrama starring TV vet Emily VanCamp loosely based on Alexander Dumas' The Count of Montecristo -- just with a little Gossip Girl and Hamptons flavor thrown in. We loved the series premiere and its straight-forward approach to the late-night network melodrama and the ratings continue to hold steady, with a little boost in recent weeks. It looks like we may find the answers to all our questions afterall now that ABC has ordered a full season from the brand new show. Revenge airs Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Second, we have Suburgatory. It's a fairly predictable family-style single-camera sitcom, but it's enjoyable and it fits right along with it's much funnier followup, Modern Family. Jeremy Sisto and Jane Levy star as a father and daughter who move to the suburbs from New York city only to learn the truth that the 'burbs are kind of terrifying. Suburgatory airs Wednesday nights at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT.
Lastly, we have Happy Endings, and if you saw our public love letter to the series, you'd know it's pretty great. Or maybe you just watched it and figured that out yourself. The ensemble show miraculously scored a shot at Season Two in the face of low ratings last year and while ABC isn't giving it a full season, they're ordering more scripts thanks to an increase in viewership, which isn't the worst thing that could happen. Happy Endings airs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT.
September 28, 2011 8:09pm EST
Wednesday night’s ABC comedy lineup is somewhat akin to NBC’s Thursday night comedy blocks of years past. The newest entry into what is slowly but surely becoming the funniest night on TV is Suburgatory. The name and the idea of the show is exactly what it sounds like: the suburbs plus purgatory. Moving to the suburbs is a hellish thought for Tessa (Jane Levy, Shameless) a Manhattan teenager ripped from the cacophony of the big city to the unsettling quiet of the suburbs by her dad, George played by Jeremy Sisto. I know he’s grown far beyond the role of Elton in Clueless, and he was great on Six Feet Under and Law and Order prime but who doesn’t think of “rollin’ with the homies” when they hear his name?
Like many great comedies, Suburgatory relies on its ability to appeal to everyone, while still having moments of quirkiness, such as a sugar free Red Bull smashing Tessa in the head or a woman busy texting plunging headfirst into a pool. Another welcome bit of casting is Rex Lee (Entourage) as high school guidance counselor, Mr. Wolfe. Man, I hope we get some sort of bit with Lee as Winston Wolf from Pulp Fiction. Other friendly, albeit plastic, phony faces in the ‘burbs are Cherly Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) as Dallas, the local neighborhood gossip and milf with a thing for George; and Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Knocked Up), as George’s old friend from college, Noah, who has become assimilated into the suburban life (“nothing smells like urine!”). There’s also Dalia (Carly Chaikin) as Dallas’ typical blond with an acid tongue, daughter and Tessa’s assigned school buddy; as well as Allie Grant (who is no stranger to the warped suburban life after playing Isabelle Hodes on Weeds) as a girl Tessa wants to be friends with. Saturday Night Live alum, Ana Gasteyer rounds out the surprisingly solid supporting cast. Anyone of these guys can headline their own series.
While the supporting players are worth their weight in comic gold, the series will most likely rest on the shoulders of Jane Levy. Previous seen as Ian Gallagher’s beard of a girlfriend, Mandy, on Shameless, Levy is the perfect mix of Darlene Connor from Roseanne, Cady Heron from Mean Girls, and Lisa Simpson. She’s the loveable outcast with the verbiage to match. When trying to rebel against her dad forcing her into the suburbs, she ironically becomes the very thing she loathes, a suburban girl with too much makeup, who drinks Red Bull for dinner to stay a slim 85 lbs. She’s the snot-nosed, rebellious teen with the sarcasm and wit to match. Another great sight-gag was father and daughter warring silently, but the message was hysterically emphatic; Tessa was reading a book on how to become an emancipated minor, while George was reading up on how to give his daughter up for adoption.
By episode’s end, just as Dallas begins winning Tessa over, Suburgatory begins to win the viewer over. Tessa realizes that her dad’s stuck in suburgatory as well and lets her anger towards him go. The show does have a dull premise, the tried and true fish-out-of-water tale. But Levy emerges as a rising star who can actually shine above her co-stars and Sisto is probably the most underrated actor in the history of Hollywood. As a lead-in to Modern Family, Suburgatory needs to find an audience with the speed of its own sharp-tongued wit, which it most likely will. ABC has found itself creeping out ahead of NBC and CBS as the overall best network for comedy and this show makes a fine addition. Now, if we can somehow convince them to bring back Pushing Daisies or Better off Ted…