The Producers Sure To Produce As Many Laughs As Ever In New Re-Issue

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/MGM

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/MGM

In 1968, director/comedian Mel Brooks debuted a movie that would go on decades later to be one of the greatest comedies ever put to screen.  That comedy was the Gene Wilder/Zero Mostel led farce of the theater industry, The Producers.

The Producers was Mel Brooks’ big screen directorial debut.  And boy was it ever a debut?  It’s proof that in an industry that has become so overloaded with overly gritty and violent crime dramas, crime can be funny.  For that matter, it even makes criminals funny and–to a point–endearing.  It is outrageously irreverent and politically incorrect even by today’s standards.  It is so irreverent and outrageous that even those that are now old enough to take it in will find themselves laughing tears of joy from beginning to end. It serves as an example of everything that was once right with the movie industry and everything that the movie industry has lost since its premiere so many decades ago.  So what makes it such a great movie?  Let’s start with its writing.

The writing of The Producers is uproariously hilarious.  There is not one moment in this debut from Mel Brooks that won’t have audiences laughing uproariously even today.  The Nazis would go on to be the butt of many of Mel Brooks’ jokes in his movies, justifiably.  So being that this movie would be the first time audiences got a taste of his humor, it makes his jokes that much funnier.  His jokes about the Nazis were only part of what made Brooks’ writing in this movie so hilarious.  At its most basic of levels, this movie was a buddy comedy that doubled as a farce of how the theater industry works.  Go figure, he would go on decades later to remake this movie both for the stage and then later would be adapted to the big screen and then small screen.  The jokes centered on the auditions and the very discussions between Leo and Max on which play to use for their scheme will leave people holding their sides as they laugh.  And looking at how people audition for reality shows today such as American Idol, America’s Got Talent, and others, it’s incredible just how much truth there was to the audition scenes in this movie.  It’s that truth factor that makes these jokes that much funnier and in turn, the overall movie that much funnier.  It proves that there would be no Seth McFarlane or anyone else of that ilk without Mel Brooks.

Brooks’ writing in The Producers is one part of the whole that makes this movie one of the best comedies of all time.  The jokes and gags are wonderful.  They are no less entertaining with each watch.  Viewers should also take into account Brooks’ ability within the script to balance its dual story lines.  On one side, The Producers is a buddy comedy.  On another, it’s a farce of how the theater business works.  Somehow some way, Brooks was able to take both of these and marry them seamlessly together.  The choice of Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel for the central roles was perfect.  Their chemistry made for one of the greatest comedic duos of all time.  The scene in which Mostel’s Max takes Leo’s (Wilder) blanket is just one example of this.  His almost neurotic reaction is one of the movie’s absolutely funniest moments.  Ironically enough, viewers will learn in watching the movie’s bonus features (which were carried over from the original DVD release) that Wilder in fact was genuinely freaking out over the blanket.  What led to this is something that viewers will have to discover for themselves when they pick up the movie in its new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack release from Shout! Factory.

Staying on the matter of the new re-issue’s bonus features, the features on this latest release were carried over from the previous DVD release.  Because they have been, now a whole new generation of comedy lovers can learn the secrets of the movie’s casting and how some of its funniest moments came about such as the now infamous blanket scene between Wilder and Mostel.  Just as interesting to learn about is that if not for the hit movie The Graduate, fellow veteran actor Dustin Hoffman might have actually filled the role of Leo Bloom and not Gene Wilder.  No one will ever know what the might have been like.  But the fact of the matter is that Gene Wilder was the perfect choice to fill the role in Hoffman’s departure.  And in what is one of the most eye opening of revelations, one of the female extras used in the play segments protested wearing certain Nazi symbols anywhere on her even though the attire was meant as part of the overall joke making fun of the Nazis.  According to the interviews included, the woman in question proclaimed that she had worked far too hard to get to where she was, so she refused to wear what the movie’s heads wanted.  That’s pretty brave for someone who was just an extra.  The reveal as to what she ended up wearing is just as funny considering it was a “compromise.”  As minor as this little factoid is, it’s this and so many other interesting notes that make the movie even funnier.  And along with its solid writing and acting, and ability to balance its dual story lines, it proves yet again on its latest re-issue why it is still one of the best comedies of all time, if not the greatest.  It’s now available on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack in stores and online and can be ordered direct from the Shout! Factory store online at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/217373.  While waiting for the new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack to come in, audiences can keep up with all the latest on Shout! Factory’s other upcoming releases on its website, http://www.shoutfactory.com and its official Facbeook page, http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Pacific Rim Is Fun But Forgettable

Pacific-Rim-poster-BIG

Courtesy: Warner Brothers Studios/Legendary Pictures

Thirty-seven.  According to most news agencies, that is how many sequels will have been churned out in theaters by the time 2013 has winded down.  Those reports go on to say that this is a new record for movie studios.  Those same movie studios have most recently been lambasted by the likes of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas for that glut of franchise flicks.  The pair most recently stated that if Hollywood’s major studios continue on their current track, the movie industry’s implosion won’t be far behind.  Keeping this in mind, what is a movie-goer to do in looking for something that is not a sequel or even prequel in 2013?  The answer would seem simple.  Although in reality it isn’t.  Case in point, the mega-blockbuster, Pacific Rim.

While it isn’t a sequel, or even a prequel or reboot, the latest blockbuster from Warner Brothers Studios and Legendary Pictures is still anything but original.  The Japanese influenced action flick is formulaic and trite.  The whole robots versus giant monsters bit has been done to death.  If one were to take Power Rangers, Godzilla, Independence Day, Top Gun, (Yes there’s even a hint of Top Gun in here believe it or not) and the equally terrible 1989 movie, Robot Jox, and toss them into a pot, they would get this fast paced and underperforming movie that’s more fit for a person with ADD than a more discerning viewer.   Making things worse, writer Travis Beacham has taken elements of each of the aforementioned movies and TV shows, and tossed them in all over the place for a movie that ultimately adds up to nothing.  From its standard stereotypical character types to its equally seemingly ADD influenced writing to the attempts to cover all of this with special effects in hopes of making it look like something substantial, it all adds up to a movie that is more forgettable than fun.

Pacific Rim is a fun movie.  But it is also largely forgettable.  The most blatant of reasons for this is its very concept.  The concept behind this movie is anything but original as already noted.  Robots fighting monsters has been done for roughly two decades or more with the various Japanese shows and movies that influenced America’s hit pop culture phenomenon that is the Power Rangers franchise.  And that franchise itself caused any number of imitators such as the Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad and VR Troopers just to name a couple of so many that have been churned out here stateside since the early 1990s.  This is just the tip of the iceberg in where this movie goes wrong.  Along with those Japanese TV shows and movies from which this movie blatantly lifts, viewers will also see just as much pulled from the likes of Top Gun and Independence Day.  One scene in particular halfway through the movie’s roughly two hour run time sees Raleigh and his co-pilot Mako (Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi respectively) come back victorious from having taken down a pair of kaiju by themselves.  It looks just like a certain scene from Top Gun (and so many other action movies and TV shows).  Heck, for that matter, one could even argue that this harkens all the way back to a scene from the original Star Wars franchise that occurred after the Death Star was destroyed.  It was a near mirror image.  Again, here we have prime examples of just how unoriginal this movie is.  Instead of trying to do anything original, it just pulls scenes from other movies for this story.  It’s not the end of the movie’s faults, either.

Audiences that are familiar with their sci-fi history will take notice of the scenes throughout this movie lifted from so many other movies and TV shows.  The script’s writing hurts the viewing experience just as much as the lifted scenes, if not more so.  We’ll start with the example of Stacker Pentecost’s over-the-top motivational speech to his forces as he triumphantly joins the fight once more having been sidelined for years from fighting the war against the Kaiju, too.  This exact same over-the-top motivational speech style was used in Independence Day and so many other action movies both before and after it.  It makes the whole work come across as that much lazier and anything but serious.  Rather it makes the movie come across as cheesy.  This kind of interpretation by audiences can greatly hurt the movie in the long run. It’s just one of so many other moments much like it.  These moments coarse through the movie right to its final mega-battle scene, taking even more away from its ability to be taken seriously.  Of course, this isn’t the bottom of the barrel.  Things get worse for Pacific Rim in considering the story’s character styles.

In the case of Pacific Rim, audiences are presented with even more standard action movie fare with the characters of Pentecost and Raleigh.  Raleigh is the standard heroic leader character with a mysterious past about which he won’t talk. It makes him even more mysterious to those around him.  But it hardly creates an appeal among audiences for him as he’s hardly the first character of his sort to grace the big screen.  Having covered one of the movie’s main characters, let’s examine another main character in Raleigh.  Raleigh is the standard plays-by-his-own-rules character style seen in all the way back to Han Solo, Wolverine, Maverick, and so many other anti-hero and semi-anti-hero types.  Just as with so much else in this movie, it’s one more factor that has been done to death.  And because of this, the picture becomes even clearer as to why Pacific Rim will ultimately be one more forgotten action movie that will end up in the five-dollar bin at Wal-Mart not long after it debuts on DVD and Blu-ray.

Pacific Rim suffers from so many negatives.  It’s no wonder why it has fallen so short in terms of ticket sales versus its production costs.  However, for all of its negatives, there is at least one positive to Pacific Rim.  That positive is the movie’s special effects.  The special effects in this movie are above par for Summer blockbusters.  Watching the Jaeger (pronounced yager) pilots working together to bring their robots to life to battle the Kaiju (pronounced KI-joo) is something to behold.  The combination of live action and CG effects sets the bar extremely high for other special effects laden movies to come.  So to that extent, those behind the cameras and computer screens deserve their due credit for this.

At the same time that the movie’s special effects are a good thing, they are also a bad thing.  The reason for this is that it is honestly the only positive to the movie.  Had this movie had more laurels on which it could rest, the special effects would not have been a burden.  But sadly, it doesn’t have those other laurels.  And because of this, it will lead many viewers to feel that director Guillermo del Toro is just trying to fool audiences and make them think this is something with substance.  In reality, it has none.  Sure, the graphics and special effects are great.  But audiences should not let this become a smokescreen.  They need to see that being that this is all it has going for it, Pacific Rim is sadly anything but one of the best new theatrical releases of 2013.  It isn’t the year’s worst.  But it is hardly the year’s best, either.  In the long run, it will prove to be little more than a vague memory in the vast expanse that is the world of the action movie.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Takes Over NASCAR Broadcasts Beginning This Weekend

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

NASCAR shifts gears again this weekend, literally.  Its top series, the Sprint Cup Series, will shift coverage of its races to ESPN beginning with coverage of the annual Brickyard 400 Sunday, July 28th.  Sunday’s telecast is sponsored by Golden Corral.  It all kicks off with the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show at noon ET.  The pre-race show will broadcast live from the IMS’ legendary Pagoda.  It all leads up to the drop of the green flag, which is expected at 1:19pm ET.

Along with Sunday’s broadcast, ESPN will also handle coverage of Brickyard qualifying Saturday, July 27th at 2pm ET.  ESPN2 will carry Sprint Cup practice at 9am. 

ESPN also has live coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race this weekend beginning with pre-race coverage on NASCAR Countdown at 4p.m. ET.  The green flag for the Nationwide Series race is expected to drop at 4:50pm ET.  Sprint Cup Series driver and 5-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson will be in the broadcast booth for part of the Nationwide Series race.

ESPN will have a number of cameras covering what is one of the biggest of NASCAR’s biggest races each season.  It will have a camera mounted on a helicopter to get aerial shots.  There will also be eight in-car cameras that will give viewers at home an “inside” look at the race.  In all, ESPN will have a total of seventy-two high definition cameras position around Indianapolis Motor Speedway for this weekend’s coverage of the Brickyard 400.  That number includes four Ultra Hi Motion cameras for replays and other unique shots.  Another will be mounted on pit wall near the “Yard of Bricks” at the track’s Start/Finish line.  And another robotic Ultra Hi Motion camera will be mounted to show a low shot in Turn One.  Turns two and four will also have cameras mounted. 

Recently enshrined NASCAR Hall of Fame driver and 1999 Winston Cup Champion Dale Jarrett will be joined by two-time champion crew chief Andy Petree and lap-by-lap announcer Allen Bestwick in the booth during the race.  Marty Reid will take over calling lap-by-lap action for ESPN’s broadcasts of the NASCAR Nationwide Series.  Nicole Briscoe will be joined by 1989 Winston Cup Series Champion and fellow NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Rusty Wallace, three-time champion crew chief Ray Evernham, and team owner Brad Daughtery for ESPN’s NASCAR Countdown pre-race broadcast.  Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Dr. Jerry Punch, and Vince Welch will all be in the pits for all of the action trackside. 

During pre-race coverage, ESPN will take a look at a handful of notable drivers at this year’s Brickyard 400.  Those drivers are Juan Montoya, Danica Patrick, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Tony Stewart.  Each driver will have a special feature that focuses specifically on them during ESPN’s NASCAR Countdown.

NASCAR fans can catch up on all of the latest on this weekend’s race online at http://espn.go.com/racing/nascar/

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Wigg, Moretti Call It Quits

Courtesy:  Us Weekly Magazine

Courtesy: Us Weekly Magazine

Actress Kristen Wiig and boyfriend Fabrizio Moretti are through.  According to sources close to Us Weekly Magazine, the couple has called it quits after only eighteen months together.  Wiig, 39 and Moretti, 33 were first confirmed as a couple when they were spotted together in a rather amorous public display of affection at a Black Keys concert in December 2011. 

A source has said of the breakup that “It was very amicable and they will remain friends.”  While Wiig has typically kept her personal life and work life separate from each other, she did openly note in a cover story for Marie Claire magazine in August 2012 about her relationship with Moretti that “I’m happier than I’ve ever been and I feel very lucky right now.” 

Wiig, best known for her work on NBC’s Saturday Night Live and Bridesmaids, has been very busy this Summer.  She lent her talents for the big screen CG-based sequel, Despicable Me 2 and co-starred in the indie dramedy, Girl Most Likely.  Both movies were released this month.  Moretti, drummer of the rock band The Strokes, also dated Drew Barrymore from 2002 to 2007.  He is celebrating the release of his band’s fifth full length studio release, Comedown Machine.

The full article is available online at http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/kristen-and-fabrizio-split-2013257#ixzz2a64hbZrt

Readers can keep up with all of the latest celebrity news on the Us Weekly magazine Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/UsWeekly and at Us Weekly’s official website, http://www.UsMagazine.com.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Escape From Planet Earth A Fun Escape For Families

Courtesy:  Anchor Bay Entertainment/The Weinstein Company

Courtesy: Anchor Bay Entertainment/The Weinstein Company

Escape from Planet Earth (Anchor Bay Entertainment/Weinstein Company) was released to theaters in February 2013.  Not surprisingly, it didn’t last very long in theaters after its premiere.  The reason(s) why it didn’t last are anyone’s guess.  But the most probable of reasons would be its comparison to the 2009 family friendly CG “animated” sci-fi comedy, Planet 51.  There is no denying the comparisons to said story.  But in its defense, Planet 51 isn’t the only movie from which Escape from Planet Earth lifted.  There are also influences from the likes of Monsters, Inc. and Monsters vs. Aliens throughout this movie.  And while it does lift from previous movies, it does have some originality in terms of its messages and its comic elements.  Those comic elements include the sci-fi and pop culture spoofs made much in the same vein as in Planet 51.  The spoofs aren’t the same as in Planet 51, either.  This makes them that much funnier and helps to make up for the story’s less original aspects.

It’s difficult to honestly write this and call Escape from Planet Earth the most original movie of its kind.  That’s because of the fact that it can so easily be compared to the 2009 family friendly sci-fi comedy, Planet 51.  On the surface, Escape From Planet Earth can so easily be considered to be Planet 51 in reverse.  Instead of the human astronaut trying to escape from the alien planet, this time, it’s the aliens trying to escape Earth.  It’s not the only movie to which this work can be compared.  It can also be compared to Disney/Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. (2001).  The comparison to that movie comes in the form of General Shanker’s (William Shatner—Star Trek) soldiers.  A close look at the men will bring viewers to note that his men are always running around in yellow, rubber hazmat suits that cover their entire bodies, including their faces.  This is very much in the same style as the agents of the Child Detection Agency from Monsters, Inc.  And the general story itself makes it just as easily compared to Dreamworks’ Monsters vs. Aliens.  It’s just that movie as much in reverse as Planet 51 in reverse.  Knowing all of these influences takes away quite a bit from the movie.  But for all that is taken away from it, Escape From Planet Earth isn’t without its positives.

Writers Cal Brunker and Bob Barlen (hmmmmm Bob, planet Bob…..coincidence?) did a lot of lifting from other previous CG based family friendly sci-fi flicks to make Escape from Planet Earth.  For all of the comparisons that can be made, what can be said of this creation is that it does still manage to save itself.  It saves itself thanks to its theme of family bonds and its pop culture and sci-fi spoofs made throughout the nearly ninety minute movie.  The theme of the family bond is something that those other family films don’t have.  So this serves to help set this movie apart from those movies and give it its own identity.

Just as the movie’s theme of family bonds helps to set it apart from other movies of its ilk, the pop culture and sci-fi references made throughout the movie help to set it apart even more.  The jokes are quite plentiful throughout the course of the movie’s run time.  There are jokes about classic 1950s sci-fi flicks, conspiracy theories and even a subtle stab at director James Cameron.  It’s so subtle that if a person isn’t really watching closely, one will miss it.  Those that catch it will truly appreciate it, considering Cameron’s reputation when it comes to science fiction movies.  There are far more subtle jokes and pokes that are peppered throughout the movie.  And those that give this movie a chance will appreciate the movie even more for them.  In turn, they will see that while it may not be the most original movie in its genre, it really is a movie that is worth at least one watch.  It is available now on DVD and Blu-ray in stores and online and can be ordered online direct from the Anchor Bay Entertainment website at http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com/detail.aspx?projectID=5b081188-3392-e211-b3c9-d4ae527c3b65.  Fans can also check in on all of the latest updates on new releases from Anchor Bay Entertainment at http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Burgos, Amidu Lead FNF July 26th

 

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN’s Friday Night Fights is back again this week with another big card.  This week’s show is headlined by a bout between former Junior Lightweight and Featherweight title challenger Juan Carlos “Mini” Burgos (30 – 1 – 1, 20 KOs, ESPN.com ranked #4 Junior Lightweight) and Yakubu “The Black Mamba” Amidu (18 – 4 – 1, 16 KOs).  The twelve-round fight comes to viewers live from the Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln, California.  It will be broadcast live at 9pm EST on ESPN2, WatchESPN, and broadband Spanish-Language ESPNDeportes+.  ESPN Deportes will carry Friday’s show Saturday, July 27th at 9pm EST.

 

Burgos, a native of Mexico, comes into this week’s main event on the heels of a twelve-round fight against Roman Martinez that ended in a draw.  The fight was a Junior Lightweight title fight.  ESPN.com boxing writer Dan Rafael wrote of the bout, “Making his first defense, Martinez escaped with his belt on another highly debatable decision. Almost all of press row, as well as the Twitterverse and HBO’s Harold Lederman, had Burgos winning the fight. He hammered Martinez with hard body punches throughout the bout. According to CompuBox, Burgos landed more punches in 10 out of the 12 rounds. Burgos just seemed more in control, stronger and better able to do what he wanted to do. Martinez seemed to have a hard time dealing with his height and reach.”

 

Amidu also comes into this week’s main event looking to get back in the “Win” column after suffering a split-decision loss in his last fight, a ten-round bout against Haskell Rhodes.  Amidu’s co-manager and trainer, Baba Sumaila, discussed expectations for this week’s fight in a recent interview, expressing his confidence in his fighter in his comments.  “I’ve been working with Yakubu since he came to the United States,” he said.  “I managed his brother, Abdullai. So when Yakubu came here, I started working with him. Yakubu is always training. When we have a fight, he increases the tempo to make him more ready for the fight. We know our opponent is very good, but we’re ready for that. We are ready.”

 

Friday’s main event will be accompanied by a ten-round co-feature between Lightweights Miguel “Silky Smooth” Gonzalez (21 – 3, 15 KOs) and Josenilson “Jo” Dos Santos (24 – 1, 14 KOs).  Both fighters look to keep their “Win” column growing, coming into this week’s bout.  Gonzalez’s most recent fight ended in a unanimous decision win for him in ten rounds over former Lightweight titlist Miguel Acosta.  Dos Santos’ most recent match ended in a unanimous decision for him in a twelve-round fight against Carlos Rodriguez.

 

Teddy Atlas and Joe Tessitore will be on hand this week ringside to call all the action for ESPN2, while Todd Grisham will be in studio with all of the latest boxing news and highlights.  Delvin Rodriguez, and Pablo Viruega will have the call for ESPN Deportes and ESPN Deportes+.  Leopoldo Gonzalez and Claudia Trejos will be in studio and Bernardo Osuna will have live interviews and reports for ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Deportes+. 

 

Fans of Friday Night Fights don’t have to be in attendance to be part of each week’s fight.  Fans can get the LiveFriday Night Fights app on the FNF Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/espn.fnf.  The app allows viewers to score the fights round-by-round from the comfort of their own home.  And while they score the fights, fans can stay up with all of the latest FNF news and more on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ESPNFNF and http://twitter.com/ESPNBoxeo

 

The latest Friday Night Fights schedule is listed below.

 

Upcoming Schedule:

 

Date Time (ET) Main Event Location   Networks
Fri., Aug 2 9 p.m. Javier Fortuna (22-0, 16 KOs) vs. Luis Franco (11-1, 7 KOs)—10 rounds, Featherweights  Buffalo Run Casino, Miami, Okla.  ESPN2, ESPN Deportes,  WatchESPN
Fri., Aug 9 10 p.m. Rustam Nugaev (24-6-1, 14 KOs) vs. José Hernández (14-6-1, 6 KOs)—10 rounds, Lightweights  Morongo Casino, Cabazon, Calif.  ESPN2, ESPN ESPN Deportes+ , WatchESPN
Fri., Aug 16 9 p.m. Andrzej Fonfara (23-2, 13 KOs)  vs. Gabriel Campillo (22-5-1, 9 KOs)—12 rounds, Light Heavyweights U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago ESPN2, ESPN ESPN Deportes+ , WatchESPN
Fri., Aug 23 TBD Argenis Méndez (21-2, 11 KOs) vs. Arash Usmanee (20-1, 10 KOs)—12 rounds, Jr. Lightweights  Turning Stone Casino, Verona N.Y. ESPN2, ESPN ESPN Deportes+ , WatchESPN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com

 

Honey Boo Boo, Bruce Willis, The Bachelorette Focus Of Us Weekly This Week

Courtesy:  Us Weekly Magazine

Courtesy: Us Weekly Magazine

 

Courtesy:  DKC Public Relations

Courtesy: DKC Public Relations

The latest edition of ABC’s hit reality dating show, The Bachelorette is winding down.  Its finale will air on Monday, August 5th.  As audiences count down to this season’s finale, Us Weekly magazine takes an in-depth look at the upcoming season finale for its cover story.  One of the big revelations from this season’s last episode is that of her final three suitors, contestant Desiree Hartsock will see one of the trio depart the show before the rose ceremony.  Making matters even more interesting for viewers is that the the departed contest in question was the object of Hartsock’s affections.  And in learning of the subject’s departure, Hartsock was left quite broken-hearted.  An insider with The Bachelorette was quoted of saying about this season’s final episode, “Des didn’t see it coming.”  When asked about how she felt about seeing herself in the upcoming finale, Hartsock told Us Weekly, “No one’s excited to see themselves cry.”  The new edition of Us Weekly hits newsstands tomorrow, Friday, July 26th.

Also in this week’s edition Us Weekly, Adam Levine’s fiancé, Behati Prinsloo, dishes on the couple’s engagement and upcoming nuptials.  Prinsloo notes in her interview with Us Weekly that she is still trying to get acclimated to all of the changes.  “It was a surprise,” she said.  “It hasn’t even sunk in yet!  Last night, I forgot I slept with my ring on.  I woke up and went, Oh hello!’”  Levine proposed to Prinsloo only three weeks after the couple had gotten back together. 

In movie news, Us Weekly sits down with actor Garrett Hudlund in this week’s new issue and discusses his choice to not star in the upcoming big screen adaptation of author E.L. James’ novel 50 Shades of Grey.  The magazine has confirmed that Hudlund turned down the lead role of Christian Grey in the interview.  According to a source close to the film, Hudlund turned down the role because “doing a possible trilogy was too big a commitment and producers wouldn’t let him do just one film.”  Fans can check out the new issue of Us Weekly for all of the details on who might take Hudlund’s place in the series’ lead role.

Us Weekly also sat down with veteran actor Bruce Willis for a very candid interview about his image on screen versus who he is away from the cameras.  Willis joked about being a gentleman when asked about his Red 2 co-star Mary-Louise Parker.  “I don’t know if I’m a real gentleman. I would say I’m an OK gentleman.”  Willis proved he was a gentleman as Us Weekly caught him using a prop gun to shoot a blank at a bee that came too close to Parker.  “Yeah, that’s a real thing that happened,” he admitted.  “I shot it in the wing and it spun to the ground. But I did not kill the bee. No bees were injured.”  When he was asked about his role of dad to his four daughters, Willis said, “I love making my kids laugh.  I even try to make my youngest daughter laugh now [Mable, 16 months].  She can’t really run away, even when she doesn’t like my jokes!”

And in what has to be one of the most interesting features in this week’s issue of Us Weekly, June Shannon, Honey Boo Boo’s mom, sits down for an interview and shares her thoughts on parenting.  Us Weekly asked Shannon about her thoughts on keeping her kids from smoking and dressing inappropriately.  When asked about keeping her kids from smoking, she said, “It’d be hard because I did it when I was a teenager.”  When asked about her children’s attire, she had this to say.  “The s—t don’t happen in my house.  I don’t want my girls showing off too much.  I don’t allow [spaghetti strap] tank tops or short shorts.”  Here Comes Honey Boo Boo recently aired a special season premiere that allowed audiences to use a scratch and sniff card to smell certain items throughout the episode.  Leading fragrance guru Sean O’Mara discussed the promotion by TLC; specifically the experience of smelling the pork and beans.  O’Mara said of this experience, “This smelled more like roadkill than pork and beans. I would have played up the barbecue sauce.”  He also shared his comments on smelling the butter in the season premiere.  He said of this one, “It was meant to be butter, but smelled like cake frosting. I wouldn’t use it on a baked potato.”

These stories and much more are all in this week’s new issue of Us Weekly magazine.  It will be available Friday, July 26th on newsstands everywhere.  And for even more from Us Weekly readers can “Like” the magazine on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/UsWeekly or check out the Us Weekly official website at http://www.UsMagazine.com

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

KingShifter’s Debut LP Takes The Top Spot As 2013’s Top New Hard Rock Record

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment/Pavement Music

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment/Pavement Music

2013 has been a good year for hard rock and metal.  New releases from the likes of Holy Grail, Black Sabbath, and Sevendust have made this a great year for the metal masses the world over.  Now with the release of its debut full length LP via Pavement Entertainment, Wichita, Kansas based KingShifter has just made the hard rock landscape that much more interesting.

KingShifter’s debut full length release, 26 Tons is an aptly titled record.  This eleven-track record is a heavy-hitting wrecking ball of hard rock.  From start to finish the album’s energy lets up only once.  That one time is in the near minute and a half acoustic piece, ‘.00125 lbs. (The Year of the Rat).  Other than that single moment, every other song on this record makes it one of the best debut records from a rock band (either mainstream or indie) in a very long time.  Its combination of hard hitting guitar licks, drums, and equally scathing lyrics make it a record that any purist metal head will appreciate.  And it all starts early on in the form of, ‘Revolution Generation.’  Front man Sprout sings about what’s happening to the country today.  From the epidemic of companies and doctors working together to sell their drugs, to the issue of school violence, Sprout runs the gamut.  Along the way he and his band mates wave a defiant musical flag declaring, “If we don’t do anything now/We’re soon to be doomed/We’ve got to stand strong/We shall not be moved/We are Americans/And we have proof/That we survived/The taxes, fiscal cliffs, and all of the wars/We’re here to tell you now/We won’t take it anymore!”  The song’s declaration of pride and self-empowerment is a call to arms and an anthem for a whole new generation.  And given the right support, could very well be the opening salvo in what breaks this band into the mainstream.

If ‘Revolution Generation’ isn’t enough example of what makes this a solid debut from KingShifter, then perhaps the equally hard rocking and defiant (yet far shorter) ‘STFU (& Die Already)’ will.  This punk styled piece comes in at just under two minutes long.  In that short time, this song hits just as hard as ‘Revolution Generation’ and any of the album’s other songs.  It is an intense song that goes after the news media—Sprout sings, “Television/I wanna burn it down”—and all of the negativity that clots television today.  In connection, he notes in no uncertain terms the effect that television has on people and his displeasure on the matter.

KingShifter’s debut record has plenty of social commentary and hard rock.  For all the commentary that it offers, there is some lighter material on this record, too.  Case in point, ‘Downin’ Booze – Raisin’ Hell.’  This song is a party song.  It’s an anthem for the blue collar workers across the country.  The influence from hard rock supergroup HellYeah is quite obvious both lyrically and musically in this song.  This is clear in the song’s second verse as Sprout sings, “I’ve been inside/Of this dirty cage/Locked inside for five whole days/I’ve gotta ease my mind/And leave that bulls*** behind/This ******’s gonna go on a rage!”  With such high energy lyrics and equally high energy music, this song is more than certain to become just one of so many fan favorites and fan anthems both on KingShifter’s record and at its live shows. 

The songs noted here are just a few examples of what listeners can expect from Kingshifter’s upcoming debut record.  There is much more that audiences will appreciate throughout the album.  So much more could be written of 26 Tons.  But to do so would require more time and space than is available.  Simply put, given the chance by radio programmers and by Pavement Entertainment, 26 Tons could make Kingshifter one of the next big names in hard rock.  The album will be available in stores and online Tuesday, September 3rd.  Fans can hear just some of the band’s music now online at the band’s official Reverb Nation page, http://www.reverbnation.com/kingshifter.  There’s even a music video from the band on its page, too.  Audiences can also check out the band’s music on its official MySpace page, http://www.myspace.com/kingshifter.  And to keep up with all of the latest news from the band, fans can follow the band on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/KingShifterRock and on its official website, http://www.kingshifter.com

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN’s 30 For 30 Series Returns This Fall

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN has officially announced the schedule for the return of its hit 30 for 30 film series.  The Peabody Award-winning series will return this Fall beginning Tuesday, October 1st with the tragic story of Hawaiian surfer Eddie Aiku in Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aiku.  The film (and all new films in the series) will broadcast at 8pm on ESPN with a new film debuting each Tuesday from October 1st to November 5th.  The story of Eddie Aiku is just the beginning in the return of ESPN’s award-winning series.  Also included in this Fall’s schedule are stories of the John Spano Islanders scandal in Big Shot and Jimmy Connors’ unbelievable run in the 1991 U.S. Open in This is What They Want.  It’s all capped off with a look at one of the most infamous rivalries and moments in modern sports history in Tonya and Nancy.  This film documents the rivalry between skaters Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan and how it led to the brutal attack on Kerrigan.

Connor Schell, ESPN Films Vice President explained the motivation behind bringing the network’s famed series back with more new films in a recent interview.  “We continue to see an insatiable appetite for well-told sports stories that both tap into nostalgia and allow for discovery of new insight and detail.  We are proud to be the destination for fans looking for high-quality films that take them inside the worlds that they love,” he said.  “Sports hold an increasingly prominent place in American culture, and our new slate of films exemplifies our ongoing goal of telling cultural stories that last.”

Fans can download each new film the day after its broadcast via iTunes and Amazon Instant Video.  And for those that want the physical object, ESPN will release a special six-disc set titled 30 for 30 Volume II on November 26th, just in time for the holidays.  The set will feature the first fifteen films in the new, upcoming slate of films.  It will be available online at ESPNShop.com and in stores.

The current listing of upcoming films is available below:

Tuesday, Oct. 1, 8 p.m. – Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau

Tuesday, Oct. 8, 8 p.m. – Free Spirits

Tuesday, Oct. 15, 8 p.m. – No Mas

Tuesday, Oct. 22, 8 p.m. – Big Shot

Tuesday, Oct. 29, 8 p.m. – This Is What They Want

Tuesday, Nov. 5, 8 p.m. – Tonya and Nancy

 

Fans can keep up with all of the latest updates on the 30 for 30 series online at http://www.facebook.com/espn30for30 and http://espn.go.com/30for30.  And to keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Announces Two More Sunday Night Baseball Games

 

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN has announced two more games to its current Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell schedule.  Network officials have announced that on Sunday, August 11th, the Dodgers will host the Tampa Bay Rays.  And on Sunday, August 18th, the most storied rivalry in baseball hits its latest round, when the Yankees head to Fenway to take on the Boston Red Sox. 

Each game’s broadcast begins at 8pm EST on ESPN.  Dan Shulman will host the broadcasts.  He will be joined by his broadcast team mates, analysts Orel Hershiser and John Kruk.  Reporter Buster Olney will provide commentary.  Games will be simulcast on ESPN Radio and ESPN Deportes with Jon Sciambi manning the mic for ESPN Radio.  He will be joined by analyst Chris Singleton.  The team of Ernesto Jerez, Luis Alfredo Alvarez, and Guillermo Celis will handle broadcast duties for ESPN Deportes and ESPN Deportes Radio.  Both games will also be available online via WatchESPN and the WatchESPN app.

This week’s matchup on Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell sees the NL Central leading St. Louis Cardinals on the road against the NL East leading Atlanta Braves.  And on August 4th, the Braves will be on the road against the Phillies.

Each broadcast of Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell is preceded by Baseball Tonight on ESPN at 7pm EST.  For more information on upcoming games, stats, and more on fans’ favorite teams, go online to http://espn.go.com/mlb/

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.