Kenya Moore chose scenic Mexico in the hopes of declaring a détente amongst the ladies... or to stir up more drama. Ether way, this trip is becoming one huge burrito of trouble filled with meaty fights and cheesy lines. It seems like the cast of Real Housewives of Atlanta is primed to oblige, but the combatants are not who you expect.
As much as Kenya would have you believe that she is clearing the air with Apollo Nida, she is definitely crossing the line. Their flirtation seems pretty obvious. Kenya’s relationship with Phaedra Parks is amusingly hostile at best. Phaedra shows up but rather than make a fool of herself by starting trouble she leaves the situation (progress!) Phaedra just might be the smartest housewife of them all. She knows her appeal is her hilarious soundbites and bizarre life choices.
Porsha Stewart and NeNe Leakes deserve a medal for hypocrisy. They are quick to run up to Apollo and tell him that he shouldn’t have been talking to Kenya. But aren’t they both talking to a man when his wife isn’t present? Aren’t they both getting involved in someone else’s marriage? Apollo tries to make peace with Phaedra’s angry battle form, Bulbasaur #Pokemonreference, with mixed metaphors, bad impersonations, and a flower ripped off a tree. But it seems like their soon-to-be-swan song can’t be avoided with misguided romantic gestures.
The coup de grace of Apollo’s failed efforts to get Phaedra’s forgiveness is an early birthday party. Is this a pre-divorce shower? He gives her a piñata filled with condoms. It is nice to see everyone actually having fun on vacation. Although, Kandi Burruss is continuously making hilariously uncomfortable faces. The group also does vacation things. Kenya, NeNe and Cynthia Bailey bond by having a twerk contest in the pool. Oh those tender moments before everything turns to madness.
Kenya has something special planned for the last night of the trip. She decides to rehash NeNe’s Pajama Drama Jam. To quote Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost, Kenya, “You in danger, girl!” This isn’t going to end well. But the fighters in this Andy Cohen video game Marital Kombat are vastly different than you’d expect. Like NeNe’s party, Kenya has provided some sexually suggestive and anger inspiring questions set to start trouble.
Porsha gets asked how she likes sex and drops the word “old.” NeNe is asked who annoys her the most and she says Porsha because of her ignorance. Not her ignorance about the Underground Railroad but her description of the sex lives of “old people.” Then she brings Kandi in the fray for asking if NeNe still gets her period. Todd Tucker brings a cogent and diplomatic response to NeNe’s attention and she rebuffs him. It seems pretty clear that when NeNe wants to have a fight she will have one and attack indiscriminately. However, she uses “better judgment” and “being real” as arguments when she really is managing her persona and her storyline. She also seems to be coaching people on certain things... like hating Marlo Hampton and insulting Peter Thomas.
Kenya dismisses the men and things get heated. She confronts Phaedra who confesses that she has no interest in friendship and scolds Kenya for the umpteenth time. Meanwhile, Peter and Gregg Leakes get into a fight over things Peter said to NeNe in another episode. That quickly spirals out of control. We get it, Peter gets involved with the drama. But that’s because everyone involved knows Cynthia is a snooze. A dynamic, stunningly beautiful snooze who brings nothing particularly dramatic to the show. Either way, the episode ends with NeNe calling Peter a b**ch. It was a slap heard all around the world. Teresa Giudice heard it in her lawyer’s office. Aviva Drescher heard at her favorite place to get a three-legged manicure. And finally, everyone in Mexico heard it and that is the basis for the next episode. Looks like that burrito of trouble comes with sides.
Best Lines of the Night
"Once again this old wilted up hoe Kenya Poor-Whore is trying to refresh this mess with Apollo. She is like Black Single Female. I wish she could find a shaman who could magically invent her a man and a life." – Phaedra
"Kenya and Apollo have Angelina and Brad’s chemistry. And last night it really showed, then out of the blue comes Jennifer Aniston." – Miss Lawrence
"Peter, if you’re going to stick your nose into our business you need to have a pair of breasts. And since you don’t you need to stay out of our business." – Kenya
"It’s been years since you’ve been putting your panties in people’s faces. Nobody cares about what’s goes on in them." – Kandi on NeNe’s life chocies
"Yes, Phaedra! You definitely have your fighting nails on and you are scratching that heifer in her face. But watch out for those contacts." – Porsha
"It’s not often I try to do something nice for you because you’re so mean all the time. We’re going to have a good night tonight." – Apollo at his most honest
"I don’t have to sweeten my delivery to please Todd. I mean, who is Todd?" – NeNe being mature and above it all
Tom Hanks, possibly the most well-liked actor in Hollywood, has spent much of his career acting in period pieces that deal with important or pivotal moments in history, and his latest film, Captain Phillips, is no exception. In it, Hanks plays Richard Phillips, whose freighter is hijacked by Somalian pirates, and after that, he will play Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks.
With Captain Phillips in theaters this week and another historical film on his plate, we got to thinking about all of the eras of history that Hanks has appeared in and the ways he has presented these important historical events in order to get the most powerful reaction from audiences.
The Da Vinci Code - Biblical You know the story of Jesus Christ, right? Well, think again, because Hanks is here to present a slightly different version of events. While the film itself takes place in modern day Europe, the plot of The Da Vinci Code has to do with a conspiracy theory that the church has hidden Jesus' marriage to Mary Magdalene. Both the movie and the novel it's based on caused a great deal of controversy, and it's a testament to Hanks' likability that he was able to make a film contradicting what everyone believes to be true about Jesus and make it out unscathed.
The Green Mile - 1930s As corrections officer Paul Edgecomb in 1930s Louisiana, Hanks befriends John Coffey, a kind, gentle man on death row, played by Michael Clarke Duncan. If you haven't started crying simply from reading that description, you are obviously less susceptible to Hanks' charms than the rest of us. While many films have been made about similar subjects, both Hanks and Duncan give performances that turn a tragic friendship into a devastating movie-going experience, by using the film to showcase the issues of race relations in the pre-Civil War South.
Saving Private Ryan - World War IIHow do you make a film about World War II, already and incredibly emotional subject, even more powerful? By having Tom Hanks lead a company of soldiers tasked with finding and rescuing a paratrooper who has gone missing in action. And if that's not enough to get you, they are forced to go on this mission immediately after fighting on Omaha Beach on D-Day. Becuase when Hanks makes a film about one of the most devastating periods in history, he makes sure that there won't be a dry eye in the theater.
Apollo 13 - Space Race Surely, you must be thinking, there's no way to make audiences cry over the Space Race? Well, Hanks managed to find one. In Apollo 13, Hanks and his crew are trapped in a space shuttle when their mission goes wrong, and they must try and make it hope safely. Not only does Hanks manage to make being an astronaut seem like both the most awesome and the most dangerous profession of all time, but the focus on the people these astronauts have left back on the ground adds to the film's tension and emotional center.
Forrest Gump - Vietnam WarForrest Gump might be Hanks' most famous film, but it's also the epitome of his adventures through history. Over the course of the film, Forrest meets John F. Kennedy, inspires John Lennon to write "Imagine" and reports the Watergate break-in. However, it's the film’s treatment of the Vietnam War that is the most affecting. Having to watch Forrest, one of the kindest, most well-intentioned people in movies witness the death of one of his best friends and the emotional breakdown of the other is almost powerful enough to make viewers want to join an anti-war rally themselves.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - September 11thIt's not difficult for Americans to conjure up strong emotions about the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, so it's almost fitting that Hanks only briefly appears in the film, which focuses instead on the character's son, Oskar. That’s right: Hanks has gotten so adept at making audiences cry that he doesn’t even have to be present to do so.
Captain Phillips - 2009 Somali Pirate AttacksHanks' most recent film is set to be a powerful, emotional thrill ride. But Hanks isn't just content with showing the harrowing and courageous experiences of Capt. Richard Phillips, as the film also works to show the Somali pirates as human beings rather than just cartoon villains, and he's so good at playing with audience's emotions that he can help to make the antagonists of the piece sympathetic. However, this film also got us thinking: if Hanks is mining the recent past for historical events to make movies out of, how much longer will it be before he starts making us cry over events from the future? Or has it started already?
There's going to be a musical based on the first Rocky movie. You know, the one that launched Sylvester Stallone to superstardom. To that, I say, "Really?" This isn't just going to be some small, off-Broadway affair. No, this is going to be on Broadway, the big leagues. Again, I say, "Really?"
On the surface of it, it is an inspiring story that could be turned into a play. It's one of the ultimate underdog stories and there's one thing the Great White Way loves, it's tales of people coming back to beat some of the longest odds. But I'm not sure that this is one that should have been given the green light. There's just a lot of things working against it.
The thing that worries me the most is the boxing sequences. As a huge sports fan, I am ALWAYS gritting my teeth when I watch sports movies because real-life sports events are really hard to duplicate. That's when you have the budget and camerawork to make it look as realistic as possible. This is going to be on a stage and I have a bad, bad feeling that the boxing sequences are going to stink. I'm talking WWE-telegraphed punches. Running up a fake set of stairs to the top is also going to look really awkward. I don't know how Andy Karl is going to be when playing Balboa and I'm not sure he was the best pick for the role. I also think that there's not an actress that can really play the awkward and endearing role of Adrian like Talia Shire did.
Secondly... it's a musical! I think Burgess Meredith is up somewhere in heaven making a lot of angry noise about someone playing the role of Mickey and SINGING. "You're going to eat lightning and crap thunder!/Keep training, Rocky! You'll rend Apollo Creed asunder!"
Of course, if they don't have the orchestra play the main Rocky theme at the beginning, then everyone in the theater should just get up and walk out. That should be a given right there and they might as well have Survivor play "Eye of the Tiger" (Yes, yes, I know that was from Rocky III. It's not like the band is doing anything now).
I'm giving this play a standing eight-count already. Really.
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Tom Hanks is reportedly more of a fan of typewriters than the internet, and he told Reddit that he "abhors self-promotion," but it didn't stop him from doing an Ask Me Anything on Reddit Monday night. Tom was dignified and guarded, unlike some of Reddit's other guests, which seemed fitting for the poised and old-fashioned actor. Here are some of his best responses.
His favorite movie that he hasn't acted in:"Recently, Looper. And Das Boot the directors cut."
On whether he's answering the AMA on a typewriter: "I wish."
On how far his Forrest Gump body-double and real-life brother Jim ran in the movie: "In Montana and south carolina. a few hundred yards in slo-mo."
How long he'd make it on a deserted island: "I'd make it a week and a half."
The classic movie he would have liked to be in: "2001: A Space Odyssey"
A theme park ride he'd like to see made: "The Captain Phillips Life-Boat Launch Experience."
The message he'd send himself at age 30: "Floss more often."
The type of food that he'd choose to eat for the rest of his life: "The Japanese food seems good for you..."
Some previously unknown movie trivia: "I had a terrible case of the flu shooting the football scenes in Gump"
On how rejection feels: "Crummy. Very crummy."
A time when he's gotten emotional on-set: "When LT. Dan introduced Forrest to his wife, with his titanium legs, i burst into tears..."
On how Hooch from Turner and Hooch is doing: "All the dogs who played hooch – all four of them – went to dog heaven."
On That Thing You Do:"It's the one movie I would love to make again."
His tips on mustaches: "Shave it off."
On the sequel to Apollo 13: "Apollo 14?"
On the mixed criticism surrounding Cloud Atlas: "Nothing effects the love of making a movie – particularly CLOUD ATLAS. It will be around for ever..."
His favorite type of music: "Give me three guitars, a piano, and a good drummer and I'm done."
A glimpse into his dark side: "I relish Aston Villa victories."
Advice on acting: "Show up on time. Know your lines. Have and idea of what to do in the scene. the rest will take care of itself."
The last song he had stuck in his head:"It's a Great Big Beautiful tomorrow from Disney's Carousel of Progress."
Why he chose to do the AMA: "Scott Rudin suggested it and my kids said I had to. I like it."
Read the rest here.
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When it comes to athletes trying to act, a lot of them fail and the public says, "It's OK. They're athletes. " Some break through and are able to shine on either the big screen or the television. Here's 10 of them that were able to make the best transition - and although he was somewhat funny in the Naked Gun movies, I'm not including O.J. Simpson.
1. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Before he was the Terminator or Conan the Barbarian, he was a bodybuilder. Some may not think that's a sport, but it takes many hours of dedicated training to reach the levels that Ahnuld did (though some say he got help from a syringe). If you watch the movies, he moves with an athletes' grace - in my mind he deserves to be on the list.
2. The Rock
There are some who may scoff at Dwayne Johnson's placement on the list, saying that professional wrestling is not a sport. It is in the sense that the wrestlers often have to do very difficult and acrobatic acts in the ring. He also played college football at Miami, which does NOT take slouches. While he's had some lesser fare in the past few years, he's making an action comeback.
3. Jason Statham
Bet you didn't know that before he got Cranked Up and kicked butt as the Transporter and an Expendable, he was on the British National Diving team. Perhaps he threatened to punch and kick the water if it dared ripple when he dove in.
4. Fred Dryer
Dryer played in the NFL for 13 seasons, mostly with the Los Angeles Rams, back when Los Angeles HAD a football team. He even had an interception for a touchdown. He then went on to have a long run onthe TV cop show Hunter. After the show ended in 1991, he's continued to have a lot of guest spots on shows, even now.
5. Bubba Smith
Smith, who played 7 seasons in the NFL, really became well-known for his role in Police Academy and its subsequent increasingly bad sequels, though he he been appearing on TV shows before that. He was able to use his size and strength for laughs. He died in 2011.
6. Bob Uecker
Uecker, who parlayed his mediocre baseball career as a catcher for comedy ("How do you catch a knuckleball? Wait till it stops rolling behind you and pick it up.") and commercials before appearing on the TV show Mr. Belvedere and Major League. He continues to broadcast for the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team.
7. Alex Karras
Who can forget Karras, who played 12 seasons for the Detroit Lions in the NFL, playing Mongo in Blazing Saddles? Of course, after that, he was on Webster with Emmanuel Lewis. Talk about a size disparity with co-stars.
8. Andre The Giant
Another wrestler, Andre is known for only one role, but oh what a role: Fezzik from The Princess Bride. People could argue that he was doing good acting when he was threatening to strangle Hulk Hogan in the WWF (before the WWE name change). Alas, he died too young, at the age of 46.
9. Carl Weathers
Weathers is best known for the role of Apollo Creed in the Rocky movies. He also was alien bait in the first Predator movie. Before that, he played a couple of seasons in the NFL. His greatest cinematic moment though had to be the most awkward bro-hug with Sylvester Stallone in Rocky III.
10. Jason Lee
Lee was a pro skateboarder before he became an actor, mostly playing slacker roles (My Name Is Earl) before switching to family fare like Alvin and the Chipmunks. How good was he? He was chosen to get his own brand of skating shoes, which put him up there with some dude named Tony Hawk.
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Another Holiday Weekend has come and gone, and once again, the analysts are breaking down the box office numbers, which movie won, which movie tanked and what it all means. The Fourth of July weekend is, traditionally, one of the biggest holiday weekends of the year and 2013 was no different. This year saw two major releases come out on Wednesday, the day before the long weekend commenced.
While Despicable Me 2 certainly saw fireworks at the box office, The Lone Ranger was a dud, despite the legendarily successful track record of its producer, director and star. What’s also clear is how many moviegoers hit the multiplex on Wednesday and Thursday. Meanwhile, Friday became the sixth biggest day at the box office so far this summer.
The Fourth of July weekend is one of the year’s three biggest weekends, the others being Memorial Day and Thanksgiving. Since 1995, in fact, there have only been three instances in which at least one of the year’s top five grossing films wasn’t released on one of those three dates.
It’s a relatively recent phenomenon to schedule such monster releases on holiday weekends. And, as far as the studios are concerned, there’s a good reason for it.
“It’s a great marketing peg,” says box-office expert Paul Dergarabedian of Hollywood.com. “You know when July Fourth is, just like you know when Thanksgiving is. Even Christmas Day, which is technically not a weekend release, is an extreme example because studios like to take advantage of that slow week between Christmas and New Year’s.”
Sometimes, a studio’s insistence on aiming for that prized release date can be a mistake. Case in point: The Lone Ranger. It might have fared better if so much of its family audience weren’t diverted by Despicable Me 2. Or, ask Boxoffice.com editor Phil Contrino (who called the Despicable Me 2 romp in a story on SSN last week) for another perfect example: “There just doesn’t need to be unnecessary competition,” he says. “A perfect example is this past Memorial Day. There was absolutely no need at all for Hangover III to go up against the latest Fast And Furious film. If the last Hangover had come out in, say, February or March, even with bad word of mouth, it would still have garnered bigger numbers just because of the lack of competition.”
As recently as 1994, there were no tentpoles released on the Fourth of July weekend, and it wasn’t until the rousing success of Apollo 13 in that slot in 1995 that the studios realized they had an untapped goldmine. Enter Independence Day in 1996 and the advent of the “Big Willie Weekend.”
Starting that year, three of the next four years—and four of the next seven—saw a Will Smith movie as that weekend’s tentpole release. After ID4 came Men In Black and Wild Wild West, followed in 2002 by Men In Black II. The star and the date were indeed briefly synonymous.
But there is a paradigm shift on the horizon, as industry watchers observe. Indeed, the tradition of releasing the industry’s most anticipated summer releases over Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends is being eclipsed by another target date. “I think the new big weekend is the first weekend of May,” Degarabedian points out. “It’s become the start of the summer movie season, and there has now become an expectation of a massive film coming out then.”
Since 2007, the first weekend of May has seen the major release featuring a Marvel superhero. These movies include Spider-Man 3, Iron Man, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Iron Man 2, Thor, The Avengers and Iron Man 3. In 2014, that weekend will see the release of the second installment of Sony’s Spider-Man reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, while the Avengers sequel has staked out that same weekend in 2015 and Marvel has an “untitled” project in that slot in 2016.
Interestingly, while Spider-Man is a Marvel character, it isn’t part of Marvel Entertainment. But since Sony had already staked out that May weekend, Marvel had no choice but launch its first major release of 2014 a month earlier. Hence, the Captain America sequel, The Winter Soldier, will enter theaters on April 4, 2014. And, in light of the recent success certain releases have been enjoying in March (300, Alice In Wonderland, The Hunger Games and Oz: The Great And Powerful, among others), the question becomes: When does the summer season really begin anymore?
“There has to be a cut-off,” Dergarabedian insists. “A movie coming out in March or April could be a part of the summer box office numbers if the movie lasts in theaters long enough, but just because Captain America 2 is opening up in April doesn’t mean it’s part of the summer season. At some point, you just have to say no. Otherwise, do you make summer 20 weeks long? How elastic can you really make it?”
Contrino agrees, and points out that this is part of a greater trend: We are approaching a true, 52-week release calendar.
“Hollywood is reevaluating the meaning of certain release dates,” Contrino says. “The simple truth of it is that almost any weekend is now in play. Those big release dates are just no longer the be-all, end-all.”
He also agrees with Dergarabedian’s theory about the newest Big Weekend of the year. “That first weekend of May is unquestionably huge,” he says. “Just look at the numbers the movies have done on that date.”
Likewise, Degarabedian concurs with Contrino’s point about the broadening of the schedule, adding, “You can look at August as a perfect example. That used to be a dead zone for movies, almost meaningless to the summer’s final numbers, but now you’re seeing interesting, admittedly smaller movies [in August] and finding an audience. Look at District 9 from a few years ago, and now [its director] Neill Blomkamp has his follow-up coming out on pretty much the same weekend, four years later.”
Once a release date has proven itself, the scramble begins among studios to secure that date for their upcoming tentpoles. “Studios are planting their flags on a date two, three, even four years in advance,” says Dergarabedian, “which shows how important they still believe it is. They’re not superstitious, but once a date manifests itself with big numbers, a studio will latch on to it, and that tells you a lot.”
It’s evident that this focus on release dates, over holiday weekends or otherwise, has changed how studios develop movies. Instead of making the film first, testing it before preview audiences and tailoring a release date around it, studios are now developing specific projects that aim at the big release dates. Indeed, countless pitches probably begin with some variation of this sentence: “This is a perfect Fourth of July release!”
At the same time, a keen sense—both by the studios and audiences—of what certain release dates mean has also evolved. A perfect example of this is February’s A Good Day To Die Hard, the first time a John McClane movie hadn’t come out in the summer. “The latest Die Hard shows how vested studios are, as well as how the audience perceives the movie,” Degarabedian says. “Early in the year like that, a studio can mine the territory for in-betweeners, or films they might not feel as confident about.”
There are those, of course, who will continue to insist that the big dates, like the Fourth of July Weekend, will always matter. Says Dergarabedian, “It’s not just about celebrating America, it’s also the perfect mid-point of the summer. It’s a date that resonates with the audiences, and leads to a chicken-or-egg conundrum. Do the audiences go to the movies because of the holiday weekend? Or do the big holiday movies come out then because that’s where the audiences are?”
Of course, the flip side to that question is: Has this conundrum happened because the studios have programmed audiences, over decades, to expect big releases at specific times,? If so, it’s a conundrum of the industry’s making.
“For a film to get noticed in this atmosphere is really hard,” Degarabedian concedes. “But it’s a studio-created monster.”
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It's hard to think of any other 1960s TV series with as much staying-power as Star Trek. 47 years after its launch it's spun-off four live-action series, one animated series, dozens of videogames, and 12 movies. The latest, Star Trek Into Darkness, is on track to make $100 million its opening weekend. So why do we still care? Because The Original Series was just that compelling. Even when it was bad — and it could be a bad a lot — it was always interesting. It was always brimming with ideas about the universe and our place within it. Gene Roddenberry had one of the strongest visions ever brought to bear on the small screen. So in honor of the continuing voyages of the Starship Enterprise, we've ranked all 79 episodes of The Original Series from worst to best. We hate to be negative all upfront, but if we get the bad episodes out of the way first, we can spend more time relishing our faves. Guess what tops our list!
79. “Turnabout Intruder” — The very last episode of the original Star Trek series is also its worst, a dispiritingly sexist commentary on gender roles that sees Capt. Kirk switch bodies with a female scientist that makes incredibly bizarre claims: like that women are barred from being starship captains in Starfleet, something that has been disproven by almost everything else we know about Star Trek. Luckily, there’d be 25 seasons of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise to remove the awful taste in our mouths left by the end of The Original Series.
78. “Spock’s Brain” — The third season of The Original Series was a bit like the fourth season of Community. Its original creator, Gene Roddenberry, was marginalized so NBC could make Star Trek almost a parody of itself. That’s clear from the season opener, in which aliens remove Spock’s brain…because they can! Now, there are some good episodes in Season 3. But you’ll find that much of the bottom of this lost also comes from Star Trek’s wildly uneven last year.
77. “The Alternative Factor” — An early foray into the idea of exploring “parallel universes,” the Enterprise crew encounters a man named Lazarus who’s hellbent on tracking down his antimatter double from another dimension. When matter and antimatter collide it’s supposed to explosive, but the drama here certainly isn’t.
76. “Wolf in the Fold” — Scotty is accused of murder on an alien world! The kind of episode where you no he didn’t do it and you know he’ll inevitably be cleared so what’s the point? Stick around, though, for a supporting turn by the great John Fiedler.
75. “The Way to Eden” — Hippies in space! It could be a Muppet Show parody, but yes the Enterprise crew encounters 23rd century versions of the flower power set and have an incredibly reactionary response.
74. “The Paradise Syndrome” — Kirk is brainwashed into thinking he’s a Native American. Seriously.
73. “The Man Trap” — To his credit Roddenberry like to present non-humanoid alien threats as much as he did humanoid ones. But these parasites that leach off of the salt in human bodies (in the very first episode of The Original Series that aired!) are incredibly pointless.
72. “Elaan of Troyius” — Just from the title alone, you know this is going to be a bad episode. Kirk has to escort a spoiled princess through hostile terrain. A spoiled princess who loves to wear barely-there tinfoil jumpsuits.
71. “Mudd’s Women” — Jovial con man Harry Mudd is the kind of nemesis who only could’ve worked in the ‘60s. His introduction in Season 1 has him swindle dilithium miners out of their crystals in exchange for three beautiful women — three women who only appear beautiful when the miners are taking hallucinogens.
NEXT: Numbers 70-61 on our list.
70. “Miri” — Children are the only survivors of a planet-wide calamity. Roddenberry really loved the kiddies (see also: Wesley Crusher on The Next Generation) but he never seemed to know how to integrate them compellingly into the drama.
69. “The Mark of Gideon” — Kirk is abducted by a race of aliens to help them solve their overpopulation problem. Uh, considering his interstellar bedhopping, Kirk is the last person qualified to deal with overpopulation issues. Which is why this episode makes no sense.
68. “Bread and Circuses” — The Enterprise crew encounter a planet that’s patterned itself on ancient Rome. Not the first time they’d discover a planet modeled on a violent period of Earth history, nor the first time they’d be forced to fight in gladiatorial games, “Bread and Circuses” reveals the tremendous capacity of the creators of The Original Series to repeat themselves.
67. “Return to Tomorrow” — Ditto for this Season 3 episode about telepathic aliens taking over Kirk and Spock’s bodies to build stronger, mechanical versions for themselves. Another thing Roddenberry loved over and over again? Non-corporeal aliens that can take over your mind!
66. “The Lights of Zetar” — Probably most notable for introducing the Memory Alpha station that lends its name to the Star Trek wiki. Again, “energy-based” life-forms are the threat.
65. “The Omega Glory” — Kirk faces down both an insane starship captain and a deadly plague while trying to stop an intertribal war. The umpteenth episode about protecting a less-advanced civilization that appears to reside in the rolling hills of Southern California.
64. “Friday’s Child” — Again, the Enterprise crew intervene in a tribal dispute that’s gotten out of hand, this time because of Klingon meddling. Most notable for McCoy’s immortal “I’m a doctor, not an elevator!”
63. “Is There In Truth No Beauty?” — An alien being the Enterprise is transporting must remain inside a black box because its physical form is so hideous. A Twilight Zone-style concept that could’ve been great in the hands of Rod Serling but just didn’t make a thought-provoking jump to the 23rd century.
62. “Plato’s Stepchildren” — So you already know one alien society patterned itself on ancient Rome. Here’s one that patterned itself on ancient Greece! But wait, wait, there’s more…
61. “Patterns of Force” — …Like this episode in which an alien civilization based its culture on Nazi Germany. At least here there’s some interesting commentary on how some ideologies are truly irredeemable, not just an opportunity to see Kirk wearing a swastika.
NEXT: Numbers 60-51 on our list.
60. “Whom Gods Destroy” — There are two frequent career paths for starship captains that you’d do really well to avoid: One is to be endowed with god-like powers and try to take over control of the universe; the other is go insane and think you have god-like powers with which you try to take over control of the universe. The latter is featured here.
59. “The Cage” — The first pilot Gene Roddenberry shot starred Jeffrey Hunter as Capt. Christopher Pike. He commanded the Enterprise before Kirk (much like Bruce Greenwood’s Pike in J.J. Abrams’ movies) but his first officer wasn’t Spock — who then was just relegated solely to science officer — but a woman, Majel Barrett’s “Number One.” By the time it went to series, Roddenberry rewrote the concept to fit more comfortably into the prevailing chauvinism of the era, with Barrett playing Nurse Chapel instead. But “The Cage” is a fascinating experiment in projecting a profoundly progressive view of the future, even if it’s ultimately a bit of an inert non-starter.
58. “Requiem for Methuselah” — Kirk discovers an immortal human living as a hermit. We liked this concept better in “Metamorphosis,” appearing higher on this list.
57. “The Squire of Gothos” — The god-like being Trelane, who patterns himself on an English gentleman from the 1800s, has complete control over the minds and matter of Kirk’s crew. We’d say it’s a whimsical concept, but it’s been done so often in Trek. All of these petty gods are building toward The Next Generation’s Q.
56. “And the Children Shall Lead” — There was an “evil imaginary friend” episode on Next Generation as well, but not nearly as crazy as this one, where a kids’ game of make-believe summons forces greater than Kirk could ever have imagined.
55. “That Which Survives” — A supercomputer is the only survivor of an alien race that succumbed to a deadly plague. It now chooses to represent itself solely as holographic projections of scantily clad women. Because it can!
54. “Obsession” — Kirk gets his Ahab on trying to track down the mysterious entity that killed much of the crew of his previous ship. A rare opportunity to go inside the good captain’s pre-Enterprise history.
53. “The Empath” — The Enterprise landing party are subjected to unfathomable torments to test an alien race’s empathic ability. The whole concept of “empaths” was another thing Roddenberry seemed curiously fixated on — see also the empathic Lt. Ilia in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Deanna Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
52. “The Gamesters of Triskelion” — The first and best of the episodes in which the Enterprise crew are forced to participate in gladiatorial games. The stuff Simpsons parodies are made of.
51. “A Private Little War” — Kirk tries to protect primitive aliens from Klingon interference. Not as exciting as “Errand of Mercy” or as unforgettably bizarre as “Friday’s Child” earlier on this list, it’s still really fun to see the Captain tangle with “those Klingon bastards.”
NEXT: Numbers 50-41 on our list.
50. “Catspaw” — Two aliens with “magical powers” wreak havoc with the crew. This sounds like many others we’ve already mentioned, right? Wrong! “Catspaw” was Star Trek’s attempt at a Gothic horror episode to be released near Halloween. Stylish and silly.
49. “For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky” — An asteroid hurtles toward a Federation world and our heroes rush to prevent the collision…only to discover that the interior of the asteroid is inhabited by aliens who are totally oblivious of the universe around them. An engaging Russian nesting doll concept. Also, how could you not love any episode with this title?
48. “The Ultimate Computer” — Federation computer genius Richard Daystrom (he gets a shout-out in Star Trek Into Darkness) tests out a new artificial intelligence onboard the Enterprise. Catastrophe ensues. But it shows just how much Roddenberry was ahead of the curve when it came to operating systems and computer networking — just as he was with cell phones and tablets.
47. “Day of the Dove” — In case you were wondering, this the point in our list where we start getting into the good episodes. An energy-based alien life form that feeds off anger amplifies the tensions between the Klingons and Kirk’s crew, until the two adversaries finally realize what’s happening and turn against their common enemy. An early glimpse of the détente that the Klingons and Federation will one day achieve.
46. “This Side of Paradise” — A Federation colony that should have been wiped out by lethal radiation is actually thriving, its members living in a state of euphoria because of mysterious spores. However, those spores rob those affected of ambition and self-discipline, basically making them an early version of the dream-fulfilling Nexus cloud that’s central to the plot of Star Trek: Generations.
45. “Shore Leave” — One of Trek’s more hallucinatory episodes, “Shore Leave” presents the crew getting a few days of R&R only to find a white rabbit, a sword-wielding samurai, and Don Juan menacing them. Also, we learn Dr. McCoy really loves showgirls who wear rabbit-fur bikinis.
44. “The Savage Curtain” — The third to last episode of The Original Series is actually really thought-provoking as aliens force Kirk and Spock to join forces with figures of good throughout history (Abraham Lincoln, Surak) vs. historical figures of evil (Hitler, Genghis Khan, Col. Green).
43. “Spectre of the Gun” — Aliens force Kirk & Co. to play the losing side in a reenactment of the Gunfight at the OK Corral! Like “The Savage Curtain” it’s a challenging examination of the nature of monstrosity and whether it’s something that’s fated or learned.
42. “The Cloud Minders” — Star Trek created the original Cloud City, 11 years before The Empire Strikes Back. A vicious class disparity plunges a floating mining colony into full-blown civil uprising, all while the Enterprise crew race against the clock to recover resources they need to fight a plague.
41. “Where No Man Has Gone Before” — Roddenberry’s second pilot introduced Shatner’s Kirk and established the idealistic tone of the series: exploration of the universe as discovery of the self. Do you use the accumulation of knowledge for wisdom and self-improvement? Or for vulgar power like Gary Mitchell? Writ large, that choice could determine humanity’s destiny.
NEXT: Numbers 40-31 on our list.
40. “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” — Nurse Chapel sure knows how to pick ‘em! Her fiancé, exobiologist Roger Korby, discovered an alien machine that creates android replicas of living people and uses that machine to replace Kirk with an identical robot and try to take over the Enterprise. Nice going, Christine.
39. “I, Mudd” — What does Harry Mudd do when he has unlimited power? We find out in his second appearance on Star Trek, in which he has now become the king of a planet of androids.
38. “By Any Other Name” — More god-like beings! This time from the Andromeda Galaxy! They’ve taken over the Enterprise and modified it for the long, long journey out of the Milky Way. Shows how, even on The Original Series, Roddenberry and his writers understood the vastness of the universe.
37. “Who Mourns for Adonais?” — So guess what about all those Greek gods from mythology? They were real! Except they weren’t gods, but omnipotent aliens who passed through our solar system during the days of Priam and Achilles and meddled a little too closely in Earth affairs. Kirk & Crew encounter the last survivor of those wanderers, Apollo, who had been worshipped as the sun god. And trust us, it really went to his head.
36. “Operation: Annihilate!” — This is another time we actually delve into Kirk’s personal history. Unlike J.J. Abrams’ reboot, he grew up with his father, George, and brother, Sam. Only in this episode Sam gets killed by flying amoebas at his space colony. Remember what I said about things that like to leach off human bodies for their salt! Always a worry in the 23rd century.
35. “The Immunity Syndrome” — Speaking of space amoebas, the Enterprise almost runs smack into a giant, asteroid-sized paramecium floating in the void. It’s also draining power from the ship and threatening to suck it in, and the only solution is for Spock to try to meld with it. Okay, writing this right now, it sounds like the worst thing ever. But trust me, it’s unquestionably awesome!
34. “The Deadly Years” — Kirk & Crew are afflicted with a disease that causes rapid aging. For my money, if the producers of the current Trek franchise ever want to bring back William Shatner for a movie without a time-travel twist they’d infect Chris Pine’s Kirk with this disease and suddenly it’d be $#*! My Captain Says.
33. “The Changeling” — The Enterprise runs into a 20th century NASA space probe that may have already wiped out a couple worlds deep in the interstellar void. It overcame its crude 20th century programming and developed sophisticated, if psychopathic, artificial intelligence. I know, I know, it’s the plot of The Motion Picture, right?
32. “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” — A powerful allegory for racial discrimination about a race of white-and-black aliens that shun certain members of their species depending on which sad is black and which is white. It may be a little heavy-handed for today’s sensibilities, but it was groundbreaking in 1969.
31. “Dagger of the Mind” — The ninth episode of the series is notable for being the first time Spock ever performs a mind meld. But it’s also a tightly-wound psychological thriller about a madman running an insane asylum.
NEXT: Numbers 30-21 on our list.
30. “Court Martial” — It’s a shame that it aired just a few weeks after an even better courtroom procedural, two-part ep “The Menagerie,” but when Kirk is court martialed for negligence after a crewman was killed during an ion storm it’s still slow-burn pressure cooker.
29. “The Conscience of the King” — Unlike Pine’s Kirk, Shatner’s grew up on the Earth colony at Tarsus IV. A colony that, in his youth, was ruled by a murderous governor who became known as Kodos the Executioner. Decades later in “The Conscience of the King,” Kirk suspects that a Shakespearean actor is actually Kodos in disguise. Also, yes, the name Kodos inspired one-half of the cannibalistic alien duo, Kodos & Kang, on The Simpsons. And just so you know, Kang was also a Kliingon on The Original Series.
28. “The Return of the Archons” — The Enterprise reaches the planet where the USS Archon was reported lost a century earlier and discovers that a society modeled on 19th century Earth civilization has sprung up. Unlike 19th century Earthlings, however, they live in fear of a telepathic being named Landru who wants to absorb them and the Enterprise crew into its collective.
27. “Wink of an Eye” — Invisible aliens that exist on a faster plane of time than we do — you could only glimpse them in the blink of an eye — take over the ship. Even with the limits on their makeup and special effects budget, “Wink of an Eye” shows how Roddenberry’s writers and directors could innovate, such as with the radical slow-motion technique they used once Kirk is on the same temporal wavelength as the aliens. Even a phaser beam is slowed down to the point of being dodge-able.
26. “Metamorphosis” — Kirk discovers the final hideout of Zefram Cochrane, the legendary pioneer who invented warp drive and made first contact with the Vulcans on April 5, 2063. But how could Cochrane (played here by Glenn Corbett and in Star Trek: First Contact by James Cromwell) still be alive 200 years later? Thanks to a glowing energy-based alien, of course, who’s keeping him prisoner while keeping him alive.
25. “Errand of Mercy” — The Klingons made their Star Trek debut with a warlike bang when they invade the peaceful planet Organia, inhabited by peasants who aren’t exactly what they seem. Kor, the leader of the Klingon invasion force, was played by John Colicos who came full-circle by playing the character once again on Deep Space Nine in 1998.
24. “Assignment: Earth” — For the first time, the Enterprise time-travels by slingshot-ing around the sun, something that would enable the events of the film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. This time they travel to 1968 Earth, where a time-traveler named Gary Seven (Robert Lansing) has been perceived to be altering history. Roddenberry had hoped “Assignment: Earth” would be the pilot for a Trek spin-off starring Lansing. That didn’t happen. It is notable for featuring one of the earliest appearances of a young Teri Garr.
23. “The Tholian Web” — The USS Defiant goes missing in hostile Tholian territory and the Enterprise is tasked with investigating. Turns out the Defiant is phasing out of our universe and into another dimension, and Kirk is trapped aboard. To make matters worse, the Tholians, screechy, insectoid aliens that fly crystal ships, have caught up with them and are building an impenetrable web around both Starfleet ships to prevent their escape. The best kind of race-against-the-clock thriller on Star Trek.
22. “The Enemy Within” — A transporter accident causes Kirk to be split into his good and evil selves. The former is mild-mannered but lacking initiative and resolve. The latter is undisciplined, aggressive, maybe even murderous. But neither can function on their own and both are necessary for Kirk to be a complete individual. The supposedly “evil” Kirk is strong, commanding, and decisive, qualities needed in a starship captain, along with the compassion and gentleness found in his “good self.” A provocative, value-neutral consideration of the qualities that make greatness.
21. “The Menagerie, Parts 1 & 2” — NBC recycled that old footage from Roddenberry’s first Trek pilot, “The Cage,” and made a much better episode. All the clips from “The Cage” became flashback video footage as Spock tries to explain before a Starfleet court martial why he acted in defiance of orders to help his old friend, and the Enterprise’s former captain, Christopher Pike.
NEXT: Numbers 20-11 on our list.
20. “The Apple” — Is the Federation a benevolent government that seeks to unite like-minded souls in safety and fellowship? Or is it a collective into which individual cultures are absorbed and dissolved? That’s the question at the heart of “The Apple,” wherein Kirk boldly violates the Prime Directive to impose freedom on a primitive people who absolutely don’t want freedom. They’re being ruled over by what appears to be a miniature-golf obstacle, a being named Vaal, and Kirk won’t have it. He’ll see to it that they think for themselves no matter what. But the question is, can you ever force someone to be free?
19. “A Piece of the Action” — The best of the “Alien Civilizations Modeled After Turbulent Periods in Earth History” episodes, “A Piece of the Action” takes us to a world modeled after the gangster culture of 1920s Chicago. But Kirk’s fuzzy fedora steals the show.
18. “The Naked Time” — A virus causes various members of the crew to lose their inhibitions and reveal their true selves: one becomes suicidal with fear and doubt about man’s place in the universe, another thinks he’s descended from Irish kings, and most famously, Sulu goes shirtless, grabs a foil and starts challenging everybody onboard to a duel. That’s because, as Spock puts it, Sulu is at heart “a swashbuckler out of your 18th century.”
17. “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” — An encounter with a black hole sends the ship back to 1960s Earth, in the first time-travel episode Star Trek ever attempted. The question is, can they mingle with 1960s humanity without altering history?
16. “A Taste of Armageddon” — A virtual war, but a brutal one, is being waged between two worlds solely by computer. Every so often members of each society must willingly sacrifice themselves as casualties in order to avoid actual nuclear warfare. The question is: how far are you willing to go prevent full-on war?
15. “All Our Yesterdays” — One of the most emotional Spock episodes, the Vulcan is trapped in the ancient history of a world doomed for destruction. He falls in love with one of its inhabitants before realizing that he has to make the return journey back to his own time.
14. “The Devil in the Dark” — A mysterious creature has been killing Federation miners. What is this menace? Turns out to be a silicon-based lifeform called the Horta and its just trying to protect its young from the miners’ brutish intrusion. Spock’s attempt to mind meld with the Horta is one of the classic moments of the series.
13. “Charlie X” — The second episode ever aired is a bold, primary-colored fantasia of ‘60s pop art. Kirk gives shelter aboard the Enterprise to a 17-year-old named Charlie (Robert Walker, Jr.) who grew up all by himself on an alien planet as the sole survivor of a spaceship crash. He developed psychic powers, however, which he is far from emotionally mature enough to use. And, oh, does he use them when he goes into a tantrum after not getting his way! He causes one Enterprise crewman to lose her face, causes chess pieces to melt, and has a really passive-aggressive workout with a shirtless Kirk.
12. “The Trouble With Tribbles” — A dispute between the Federation and Klingons over colonization rights to a planet get thrown for a wrench with the introduction of Tribbles, furry little pests with voracious appetites and an alarming birth rate. You’ve all seen the famous image of Kirk standing waist-deep in the critters, but the highlight of the episode may not be Tribble-related at all, but rather how easily the Klingons bait Scotty into a fight by calling the Enterprise “a garbage scow.”
11. “The Corbomite Maneuver” — A giant spaceship blocks the path of the Enterprise, its alien crew claiming that the Federation is expanding too quickly and will be halted in its march across the stars. It really looks like this could be the end of our five-year mission. But Kirk does what he does best. He bluffs. He says they’ve got a weapon called a “corbomite deflector” that will rebound all weapons fire directed to the Enterprise back to the firer. That gets the alien crew’s attention, so Kirk & Co. are welcomed aboard only to find it’s a crew of one: Balok, a jovial man-child played by Clint Howard, who resides in Bacchanalian surroundings and spends all day drinking tranya.
NEXT: The Top Ten
10. “The Enterprise Incident” — The Federation wants a cloaking device of their own, so they have Kirk & Spock go undercover aboard a Romulan ship to steal one. It’s a great heist episode, mostly because of how it pulls in a couple directions at once: you want to see our guys beat the Romulans, but at the same time Spock’s seduction of a female Romulan commander is almost unbearably cruel…to the point where you’re not certain who to root for.
9. “The Doomsday Machine” — Kirk & Commodore Decker lead the hunt for a massive ancient weapon that can devour whole planets. For Kirk, it’s still a job. For Decker, it’s become akin to an Ahab-like obsession. The final moments of “The Doomsday Machine,” as Kirk is about to be swallowed by the monster and keeps telling his crew “Gentlemen, I suggest you beam me aboard,” are among the series’ very best.
8. “Journey To Babel” — The first time we ever get to see the founding races of the Federation — humans, Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites — in one place, this proposed peace summit becomes an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery. There’s nothing better than a Star Trek whodunit.
7. “Amok Time” — A.K.A. “Spock Gotta Have It.” Our Vulcan friend’s green blood turns hot when he enters the Pon Farr, the uncontrollable urge to mate that overcomes Vulcans every seven years. It can only be cured if the sufferer meditates, fights an opponent to the death, or has sex. The last option should be fine for Spock since he’s betrothed to T’Pring. But T’Pring’s heart turns fickle and she withdraws from their engagement, meaning that Spock has to fight it out — and he does so against Kirk!
6. “The Galileo Seven” — Spock’s away team is trapped on the surface of a planet surrounded by hostile natives, and their shuttlepod is damaged. A claustrophobic waiting game ensues, as the crewmen do everything they can to survive while waiting for rescue. Just about as suspenseful as any Star Trek episode ever.
5. “Space Seed” — Known now and forever as the episode that introduced Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban) as Kirk’s greatest adversary, it’s also a pointed commentary on how far humanity has come even since (or especially since) the 20th century that produced Star Trek. Khan is a 20th century warlord who was genetically engineered with superhuman strength and intellect. But rather than transcend the petty ambitions and power struggles of Earth in that time, he lost himself in them. He’s a relic of a time — still our time in 2013 — when humanity cared more about power, prestige, and riches than enlightenment. Khan throws into relief everything that humanity tends to be…when we don’t strive to be anything more than what we already are.
4. “Balance of Terror” — Enter the Romulans. No hostile alien race in Star Trek, not even the Borg, had a greater debut than Spock’s pointy-eared brothers from another planet. What Khan represents to humanity — an unenlightened part of our history that we’d like to forget but do so at our own peril — the Romulans do to the Vulcans. Not to mention that “Balance of Terror” establishes the submarine-warfare aesthetic of all of Star Trek’s future space battles.
3. “Mirror, Mirror” — Take everything you know about the set-up of Star Trek then turn it on its head. That’s the idea behind the “mirror universe,” which presents doubles of our heroes living on another dimensional plane, doubles of our heroes with polar-opposite values, personalities, and skills. Rather than there being an enlightened Federation, Earth rules its corner of the universe as the barbaric Terran Empire. And we know they’re barbaric because of their incorporation of sashes, daggers, and bikini tops into their uniforms. Also, if you wear a goatee, you’re probably a doppelganger from a mirror universe.
2. “Arena” — The Gorn were only seen once in Star Trek until nearly 40 years later when they finally returned, given a CGI makeover, on Star Trek: Enterprise. But their first appearance, when it’s clear it’s just a dude wearing an unwieldy lizard costume, is their best. Godlike beings force Kirk and the captain of a Gorn ship who just ordered the destruction of a Federation colony to fight it out mano a lizard, to contain the bloodshed. Kirk’s final act is heartbreaking and beautiful.
1. “The City on the Edge of Forever” — Star Trek’s greatest episode has challenged all storytellers since not to use time-travel as a mere gimmick but as a prismatic tool for examining history and why we made certain choices along the way. Kirk & Spock travel back in time to 1930s Earth, looking for a drugged and psychotic McCoy, and meet a charity worker named Edith Keeler (Joan Collins) with whom Kirk quickly falls in love. She’s a forward-thinking 23rd century soul living in the midst of the Great Depression and dreaming of a future that Kirk knows will come true someday. But she’s doomed to die in a car crash within days. And, if Kirk doesn’t let her die, she’ll go on to lead a pacifist movement that will prevent the United States from entering World War II…allowing the Nazis to conquer the world. Edith has to die, so that the world she dreams of can exist. Time-travel has never been so emotional.
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Making a spoof movie ain't what it used to be.
Comparing his latest endeavor, writing and producing this week's Scary Movie V, to his vast body of comedy work, David Zucker admits that life was a bit easier in 1980 when he and his collaborators set off to shoot Airplane!. Widely considered the pinnacle of spoof cinema, Airplane! riffs on a select number of films. It's Zero Hour!, Airport '75, and few dashes of Saturday Night Fever and From Here to Eternity for good measure. The Scary franchise is a different beast.
Following in the footsteps of the Wayans' first two Scary Movie films, modern spoofing had a new demand for Zucker when he took over the franchise for Scary Movie 3. "This is the hardest thing to do, to weave together plots from different movies," he says. "You have to make your best guess. In all these movies, we end up reshooting. You have to put it in front of an audience. What happened in [Scary Movie V] is that we used Paranormal Activity, elements of all of them, and Black Swan, and Planet of the Apes. What we found out was, none of those movies had an actual monster. We didn't realize that until halfway through. Fortunately, Mama came along."
When Zucker describes the Scary Movie process, it sounds grueling, sporadic, challenging, and ultimately gratifying when a moment of clarity emerges from the chaos. As a true auteur of comedic filmmaking, Zucker has long lived by a listed mantra, 15 rules that help keep him on track as he makes a movie. The glossary earns laughs on its own (terms include "Gilding the Lily," taking a joke so far that it's no longer funny, and "Floocher Dialogue," filler lines recited by foreground characters to enable the audience to focus on a background joke), but they're important to Zucker's approach to making movies.
"The rules are just us trying to not repeat the same mistakes," says the producer. "You disobey these rules at your peril… One of the things is, movies have to be grounded in reality. It's something BASEketball didn't have and Top Secret didn't have. They didn't have character arcs."
That's why Mama helped reinvigorate Scary Movie V — but not in the scripting stage. "Much later into production we incorporated Mama and even Evil Dead," Zucker says. "We actually spoof the trailer [laughs]. I always say, 'Kids, don't try this at home.'" The producer admits that Scary Movie V began production without an antagonist, a no-no in the Zucker book of comedy. Including the ghastly villainess of that film gave the movie a new arc. "How well a job we did, I can't judge, because I'm right in the middle of it. But for sure, we just really knocked ourselves out trying to make it into a cohesive plot structure. That's what Mama gave us, because Jessica Chastain had such a good character."
Don't get him wrong: Zucker prefers a calmer, more structured filmmaking style. He doesn't like endless nights of rewriting and reshooting. In fact, Zucker wasn't even planning on returning to the Scary Movie franchise until two of Hollywood's most influential producers asked him to. "The Weinsteins asked us to do this. They had to make Scary Movie, so I did it," he says. "It's not something I planned on doing, but it's still what I love to do."
Working on Scary Movie V with Bob and Harvey Weinstein is a bit of thankless task, rounding up all the ideas that must be in the movie, and piecing them together into something watchable. When asked if it's anything like writing Kentucky Fried Movie, his wonderfully manic sketch comedy film from 1977, Zucker politely says, "Well, that's a theory."
"There were some instances where we were directed to throw some things at the screen that didn't fit in the story," Zucker says. "And that's not the right thing to do, so those things didn't work. But we cut them out. No matter how crazy and zany these spoof are, and they're pretty crazy, we still have to obey plot, structure, and character. It has to be coherent. If you take a side track, it won't work."
One thing Zucker had little to do with was Scary Movie V's stunt casting, which brings back Scary Movie vet Charlie Sheen, and enlists newbies Lindsay Lohan and Mob Wives star Big Ang. Zucker was happy to reunite with Sheen ("[He's] just a dream to work with. It's like driving a fancy car."). The others… well, he didn't know who Big Ang was, but he made it work. "The studio has this franchise and they know what they want to do with it," he says. "So they have very strong opinions on who they want to cast. And we accommodate that." Zucker laughs at an on-set title he's earned from keeping production on its toes. "They always joke about me because I come in in my scrubs and operate on the patient."
The reason Zucker believes he can work in this fashion is because he's well aware of what has and hasn't worked past. One thing that didn't work: his 2008, right-wing skewing An American Carol. "If I had to do it over again… I don't think I ever would have done it," he says. "Again, it has to be more entertainment than preachy. The talking points were too much out front. I just wanted to make it funny." Zucker recalls having an amazing experience making the critically-maligned Carol, which he co-wrote with his writing partner Lewis Friedman (who he points out is "a liberal New Yorker and a far left Democrat!"), and thought would play to all audiences. "We just wanted to make it as funny as we could while poking fun at the left, which nobody does," Zucker says. "People who know me know I'm not that serious about anything. I don't take the politics seriously. I don't think Republicans go to see movies, that's the other thing! It was a misguided thing."
With Scary Movie V in the can, Zucker is ready to get back to the movie he originally intended to make before the Weinsteins rang him up. He says it will take its cues from The Naked Gun. "The Naked Gun style is a sane way of doing a movie," he says. He hopes to direct his next script, which preys on popcorn movies in a method akin to his police spoof series (a Bourne-style update, anyone?). He also sees potential in reviving Naked Gun.
"You could do another Naked Gun, with a reboot. Like Star Trek," Zucker says. The immediate retort is, really, how could anyone live up to Leslie Nielsen? "There are people who can do that and they're not famous. You wouldn't know who they were. But I know actors who can do it. Again, I think Paramount has an international brand in Naked Gun and I think there's something you can do." For now, he hopes to revive the spirit of Naked Gun rather than the actual property. "There's room for a Naked Gun style. A bumbling guy in a position where he's respected. Leslie Nielsen played Lieutenant Frank Drebin and nobody seemed to have a clue that he's an idiot. I want to do the character, but not the specific [job]. Not Naked Gun."
Zucker thinks Scary Movie V survived the turbulent process of tinkering on the fly. He came to the movie prepared to break it, start over, reconfigure, and put it out into the world while looking forward. It's in the rules. "That's another glossary term we have: 'Apollo 13,'" he says. "When your spacecraft is in trouble and you have to get it back alive. So you use spare parts and do anything that you can to save it." So however Scary Movie V is received, he's ready to go back to the drawing board and make new movies. "One of the important things is not to blame other people for your failures (and that goes for regular life too). If a movie tanks, you have to look at what you did and figure out what happened."
Follow Matt Patches On Twitter @Misterpatches
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[Photo Credit: Universal Pictures]
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I imagine what it must have been like to sit on the veranda of a giant Georgia plantation while the war was on, being fought so far away. The woman just sweltered there in their giant hoop skirts, drinking their sweet tea brought by maids that would soon be emancipated. They would just sit there with nothing else to do and worry and fret and fan themselves and think about all the balls they were missing. Then they would hear the slow clomping of a cart, the mules ambling down the path and they could hear it before they could really see it — before they could make out that shape. It could be just another merchant coming to sell them some wares or it could be a Union soldier waiting to set the whole house on fire. It could be anything. They couldn't know. They just sat there on that porch immobilized by the weather, waiting to see how it was all going to turn out.
That's how I felt watching the Real Fainting Couches of Vapor Manor last night. It just seemed like so much rehashed drama and so much waiting. I had a hard time caring about any of it, really. First of all we had to deal with Act II of Kernya Moo-ah's freak out about Walter being at Kandi's party which, seriously, was so ridiculous and overblown that I wanted to just find her and punch her square in her head. She's all "Walter is stalking me and I need to leave immediately and I'm going to run over these cars if you don't move them." Oh, come on. Walter is many things – a dog, goofy, poorly-dressed, plenty sad, in need of a new face that doesn't make him look like he's happy he just took a dump in his drawers – but he is not dangerous. He's not going to hurt anyone.
The hero in this story is Don Juan, Kandi's assistant, who was so calm and level-headed during the whole debacle while, as politely as possible, telling Kernya that she needs to calm the heck down and deal with it and take a deep breath and an even deeper gulp of rosé and let the whole thing just blow over. He should have punched her in the head though.
Now onto Portia Stewart, who would be really funny as a sad little ditzy girl in the movie Cars. She would be like a pink sports car with big eyelashes who can never figure out how to put herself in gear because girls don't know how to drive and are dumb. She's just sort of stuck in one place being ordered around by a really mean driver who thinks he knows what's right for her, but really grinds her gears when he drives her. But she is afraid to say anything, because having a shitty driver is better than having no driver at all.
I'm not sure how to segue that comparison into a paragraph about Portia going to therapy, so I'm just going to go there and bring you along with me. She's in therapy and we got to see it. Of all the crappy things that happen on reality TV, I think the worst is stars who bring us into their therapy sessions. First of all, I am skeptical of any psychological professional who would do such a thing. Secondly, how much healing and honesty can there really be when there is a camera in there the whole time? I don't think much. This is why LA Shrinks gives me the dry heaves. I don't want to watch any show about psychologists on TV ever never.
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But Portia has some very real problems. Mostly she is not over the miscarriage she had a few months ago. Also, she's having a hard time with the first year of her marriage — mostly, completely sublimating her will to her husband who is – well, you could say that he likes things a certain way, but let's just say he's controlling. Yes, he's controlling. Also it doesn't seem like he was very sympathetic that she lost her baby, or at least she feels like he was not supportive and that feeling has grown in her heart like a sunflower next to a compost heap and it won't go away. She cries about it to her therapist and she says, "Um, you need to talk to your husband about this." She's going to bring him in next week for the season finale. Yup, this is going to go well.
Speaking of other old news, the producers made it look like Phaedra and Kernya Moo-ah were both taping their respective exercise videos at the same exact time, but one was in L.A. and one was in a crappy sound stage in Atlanta. I'm sure this didn't happen exactly as it was filmed but, well, it was more dramatic.
Also, there was an interesting shift in how these videos were shown. Kernya's video has always been a joke and, even if it is the better video, it should continue to be a joke. Kernya Moo-ah has never had an original thought in her head, so she just stole the idea from Pheadra and then made it look like she had the idea all along on her own. Kernya was too busy thinking about what color highlights to get and how she was going to put too much foundation over her lumpy skin to think up an idea for a video.
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But, during the filming, it was Phaedra who got the brunt of the jokes while she made silly jokes and giggled and jumped around on one leg like she was circling a May Pole of death, and that the little children were circling her with chartreuse ribbons and enmeshed her in her green velvet body suit like she was Gulliver being tied to the ground by a tribe of miniature fitness buffs. It was like she was a hilarious amateur marching along like a soldier to the Battle of the Bulge, stammering and making all sorts of mistakes. Apollo, whose finer attributes were really highlighted in his loose athletic shorts, stumbled too, not knowing his lines and making some serious flubs. But, really, that happens on every video, on every set. That's why they have multiple takes. That's what we do with editing, children.
Speaking of editing, Kernya was shown as the consummate professional. She knows what to call cameras and how to say "last looks." She play acts that she's a movie star and part of that acting is knowing all the terms. She is just dropping words like "boom" and "best boy" and "grip" and "booty isolation" to make it look like she went to the New York Film Academy and bought herself entré into the world of the cinema. But really, this was just some 99 Cent Store set on some dusty back lot in Atlanta (actually, it was probably in the burbs somewhere). But, no, we're supposed to think that Kernya has the better video, but I will never think that. She will always be a copy cat and an also ran and no matter how many overhead shots she asks for, I'm still going to make her the butt of my jokes about booty videos.
Speaking of the ladies getting to business, Kandi had a meeting with all of the reps who were going to be selling her Bedroom Kandi line at naughty Tupperwear parties across the nation. They all flew in just to hear their motivational speaker give them pointers on how to sell her wares to other women at intimate gatherings open-plan living rooms large and small while the kids are away at the sitter's. She was so moved by all the support that she got up on stage and she cried. She cried right there and told them all they were going to make millions together and I was really moved and inspired and I was so proud of our Kandi for doing something for the good of humanity and to make herself rich rich rich rich rich. Then I remember that it was all about dildos and, well, it just all seemed different.
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Then Kandi lounged in bed with her man Sean and talked about marriage and her mother moving in and pre-nups and it was all nice and sweet and dandy and there is probably going to be a wedding next season. Or maybe there will be a wedding on The Kandi Factory, coming soon to a TV near you.
Speaking of marriage, NeNe Leakes is getting married again. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm having a hard time getting invested in NeNe Leakes this season. Maybe it's because she's just out of the game too much and whenever she is with the other housewives she's talking about herself rather than the drama that surrounds them. Maybe it's because she finally has success and is living a good, full life which is just inherently more boring than falling apart and facing your demons (that's why there is no reality show called Wonderful Happy Times with the Lewis Family). Maybe it's because NeNe has just lost her spark. Whatever it is, I'm just not feeling it.
But last night it was a nice scene when her ex-husband Gregg, always quick with a pun, a rhyme, or a groaner of a joke that is so bad that it makes you smile, tried to get down on one knee to propose and NeNe said yes. "I'd get down on one knee," he told her, "but I'm gonna need someone to help me back up." And NeNe laughed that infections laugh of hers that ends in a guttural stifle.
Yes, NeNe laughed and she thought about the future. She thought about her show being renewed and going on for seasons and seasons and into syndication and living off that money in L.A. forever. She thought about qutting the show she was on with the petty sniping and griping and moving on to her real dreams. She thought about her son Bryson going to a good school and making something of himself, of being something boring and lucrative like a dentist or an accountant. She thought of her granddaughter Brie'Asia who could come to live with her and she would put her through private school in Bel Aire and she would be one of those awful spoiled children or rich people who only wears designer clothes and has one of those sweet 16 parties that you see on MTV and everyone at home thinks, "God, I want to kill that bitch but isn't she lucky." She thinks about it all as she stares into Gregg's eyes over the flowers he bought for just this occassion and she thinks, in that second that it's all going to be great. She thinks that this is the best it's going to get and it's going to stay like this forever. And then, on that abandoned veranda behind an Italian restaurant in L.A., the wind picks up and extinguishes the candles that had been providing just the perfect glow.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: Bravo]
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Guys, guys, guys, guys, guys, guys, guys, guys guys. Escaped mental patient Kernya Moo-ah has a single. Yes, just to prove that she is, in fact, a Real Baby Eater of Dingo Canyon Kernya has released a single. Next up is her fashion line and then maybe some sort of alcoholic beverage, like a wine, say. That is because Kernya Moo-ah is full of smart and original ideas. But now that I've heard the song, which debuted last night on Andy Cohen's Half Hour Make Me Famous Hour, it's all that I can think about. It is amazing. It is below. You need to watch it because, honestly, it's all I want to talk about.
OK, Kernya Moo-ah's single is cookie cutter Housewives Music 101. It takes her catch phrase, some drama from the show, a dance beat, and some talk singing and makes it into a jam. However, it is never going to be successful. The only one that ever really made it to the dance floor was Kim Zolciak's "Don't be Tardy for the Party," which A) is a total jam B) does not adhere to that formula and C) is still the first and the best. When Kim put it out, having a Housewives single was new and original and it was funny so we all sort of ironically sung along and danced to the beat. Then that beat got stuck in our heads and then we remixed it and then we played it at our birthday party and all the ladies and homosexuals sang along while the straight boys were like "What the hell is this bitch singing about a party for?" This has more to do with Kandi Burress, who was making hit songs when most Real Housewives were figuring out how to buy wine that doesn't have a screw-off cap.
Everyone else who has tried to bite off a piece of Kim's magic has failed miserably with this "songs about the show" strategy. The Countess came close with "Money Can't Buy You Class," another actual jam written by Hitz St. Cloud (RIP) which came when the phenomenon was still in its infancy. But now, ugh, now the singles never do well. Graveyards are littered with the musical attempts by Housewives. I mean Melissa Gorga's "On Display" is way better than Danielle Staub's "Close to You," Gretchen Rossi's "Unbreakable," or, the nadir of this craze, Simon Van Kempen's "I Am Real," but they're all turkeys. They're all just excuses for these people to aurally humiliate themselves.
Speaking of which, Kernya's is super embarrassing. The beat is a standard synthesizer blast that you could probably make on any Casio that your mother bought for you at a yard sale. But the lyrics. It's the lyrics we need to talk about. They are less erudite than the lyrics of Right Said Fred's masterpiece "I'm Too Sexy," which just chose a bunch of objects and then declared the singer too sexy for them. Here Kernya repeats something someone said about her and then says that it is not true, that she is fabulous. This song should have been called "I'm Rubber You're Glue." Then she repeats that she is "Gone with the Wind Fabulous" which is, of course, her catchphrase. Again she has never quite explained what this means and doesn't in the song, either. I don't think there is much 'fabulous' in Gone with the Wind. Either she means the beginning part at Tara, where the O'Hara's opulence was bought on the backs of slaves, or the second part where there are just corpses scattered around the streets of Georgia and most of the state has been burned to the ground. That is like having a song called "Apartheid Fabulous" or "Holocaust Survivor Fabulous" or "The Refugee Camp Boogie." It doesn't make any sense.
Then, the final round of this little ditty consists of Kernya saying, "Now Twirl. Now Twirl. Now Twirl," over and over again until we're all dizzy and just want to sit down on a stool for a moment and get our head together. That is the song. It just repeats like that three times in a row and then it is over. It is simple. I don't mean that in a good way, like unadorned and perfect. I mean it in the way like your grandmother would call your stupid uncle who was never the same after he ate those three boxes of chocolate flavored Ex-Lax when he was a kid and had to have his stomach pumped. Watch this 10 billion times.
As for the episode, well, it was boring. Kandi did some boring shit with her man's birthday. NeNe took Kernya's ugly furniture (it was baroque in a way that I can't quite describe that is specific to Real Housewives, especially the New Jersey strain) and her awful statue lamps that she bought at one of those stores in Times Square that has been GOING OUT OF BUSINESS for about seven years. That's too much like moving though so I'm ignoring it.
The only awesome thing that happened was Phaedra and Kernya fighting about the Donkey Booty Video. Now it might be because Phaedra Parks is amazing and was wearing one killer outfit after another last night (That black dress! That shirt with the giant bow!) and because her hair looked like a black lady version of Veronica Lake, but I'm on her side on this one. Kernya, as a producer, should know that Phaedra can pay her money to have her film the video and then Phaedra can work the rest out. Just because you film it does not mean you should own the property. Pheadra and Apollo had the idea, came up with the name, the routine — just about everything. Pheadra should get a set, some models, a camera, film it, edit it, and deliver a product. The fry cooks at McDonalds don't get a part of the proceeds because they served up a completed hamburger. No one should work for free, including Kernya Moo-ah, but I don't think her insistence on getting 10% of the project for life is fair.
However, I did live for when she and Cynthia Bailey made up at the Cynthia Bailey Modeling Agency School for Fashion and Auto Body Repair Shop. But I say she's crazy and she's fabulous. I say she's nuts and she's fabulous. I say she's stupid and she's fabulous. Gone with the Wind Fabulous. Casablanca Fabulous. Citizen Kane Fabulous. Now Twirl. Now Twirl. Now Twirl. Now Twirl. Oooh girl, I think I just tripped on my own ankle.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: Bravo]
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