COSMOS: my thoughts

Posted in Television,[experience-it-all] by Scott Meisner on August 19th, 2014

Completed Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. Thank you to host Neil deGrasse Tyson, composer Alan Silvestri, executive producer Seth MacFarlane, executive producer, writer, and director Ann Druyan, and of course the late, great Carl Sagan. Cosmos is a true masterpiece of knowledge and wonder. Spectacular, from top to bottom: live, on-location shoots; cinema-level CG animation; stylized traditional animation; an inspiring host in Dr. Tyson, who makes all of the science exciting and easily digestible; and a magical score imagined by Silvestri. Traveling through space and time on the modernized Ship of the Imagination across the past, present, and future is a wildly entertaining, visually breathtaking, and wholly educational experience. Personally I’ve always been fascinated by science; Cosmos has opened my eyes even wider to the enormous spectrum of knowledge out there today and the knowledge waiting to be discovered. How exactly does dark matter and dark energy work? Will alien life ever discover our Voyager spacecraft? What happened before the Big Bang? What lies beyond the Observable Universe? Equally as important, Cosmos reaches out and grips you about the concerning realities about how we are treating our planet and it envisions very different futures for us depending on the vital actions we take next. A “Cosmic Calendar,” introduced in the first episode of the 13-part series, visualizes and condenses our universe’s 13.8 billion year lifespan into a single, glanceable year; it might make you feel tiny in our vast universe (humanity occupies the last day in the last second of the entire calendar) but it provides such amazing insight into our existence, where we come from, and where we may be heading next. In sum, I highly recommend you carve out time in your lives to take an exciting journey into spacetime; it’s unlike anything else you’ve seen on TV before and you’ll come out of it awestruck, inspired, and most of all, with an expanded mind and a new passion to question everything around you.

Jennette McCurdy writes, produces, stars in new web series satirizing her Hollywood career

Posted in News,Web Series by Scott Meisner on August 14th, 2014

Former iCarly star Jennette McCurdy stars in a new web series about dealing with what comes next after your show is cancelled, going through a publicized breakup, and being forced to tackle a new chapter in life. You can say What’s Next For Sarah? is loosely based on events that recently unfolded in Jennette’s world. Nickelodeon rather abruptly cancelled spinoff series Sam & Cat starring Jennette and Ariana Grande, and this web series provides a satirical, humorous, and thoughtful outlook on her life following the cancellation fallout.

It’s about pulling back the curtain just a little bit and exposing what it’s like to live in a world full of sleazy agents and casting directors, shallow relationships, and the pressures of dealing with always being in the spotlight.

“I wanted What’s Next for Sarah to be a light-hearted call-out to some of the more absurd experiences I’ve faced growing up in the entertainment industry,” Jennette shared with The Hollywood Reporter. “My goal was to exaggerate some of the more classic Hollywood archetypes — the phony reporter, the insincere agent, the duplicitous casting director — and heighten them to a surreal extent that we can all laugh at. We all have those moments where we feel like the world is entirely crazy, and we’re the only sane person.”

This web series marks an exciting new venture for the young and talented actress. In addition to starring in the lead role as Sarah Bronson, Jennette penned and executive produced all four installments. When asked about what it was like to wear so many hats on set and to be heavily involved with the creative and production side of things, she explained to me the innately fast-paced nature of getting it all done.

What’s Next For Sarah was a real pet project for me. I had never been involved in the crew side of a production, and I saw this as an opportunity to do so,” Jennette told [experience-it-all]. “I wrote the scripts, passed them along to my friend Jesse Bloch, he said, “We gotta make these,” and the whole process snowballed from there. Two weeks later we attached my good friend Colton Tran to direct, and the three of us had four weeks of preproduction to find cast and crew, location scout, organize the departments, and get all set for production. It was a whirlwind. Three days of production and four weeks of post later and here we are!”

Click here to watch What’s Next For Sarah. The series is easily digestible; the bite-sized installments clock in at around three to six minutes in length apiece. Who knows–perhaps with enough viewership this won’t be the last we hear of Jennette McCurdy’s alter ego Sarah Bronson and the hysterically exaggerated world she lives in.

Hideo Kojima & Guillermo del Toro are working on a new ‘Silent Hill’ game starring Norman Reedus (Plus: my impressions)

Posted in News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on August 13th, 2014

Take a moment to let that sink in. Good. Now, once more with feeling:

Renowned video game developer and creator of the Metal Gear franchise Hideo Kojima and film director/producer Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim, TV’s The Strain) are teaming up to create the next installment in the Silent Hill franchise with The Walking Dead‘s Norman Reedus as the game’s protagonist.

During Sony’s press event at Gamescon on Tuesday, a mysterious new horror game dubbed “P.T.” from unknown developer 7780s Studio was teased on-screen. Sony advised interested gamers to access a playable demo on PS4 via PSN to learn more. Soon enough, an excitable, British gamer chick who goes by the name of SoapyWarpig uploaded a live stream of her completing the demo via Twitch. I highly recommend you watch the final minutes of her gameplay; her colorful commentary is so incredibly enjoyable.

After completing the nightmarish demo (see my impressions below), the names Hideo Kojima, Guillermo del Toro, and Norman Reedus flash on the screen as you briefly visit a dark and gloomy street and are introduced to Reedus’ character. And then the black words Silent Hills splash on a bright white screen as Akira Yamaoka’s classic, chilling Silent Hill theme plays. In amazing Kojima style, gamers were duped into thinking this was some random horror game from some unknown studio. Silent Hills is in fact a Kojima Productions title; 7780s Studio was completely fabricated! Oh, and “P.T.” stands for “Playable Teaser,” that first of its kind boasts Sony. Other details surrounding the now-highly anticipated game, including release date and console support, are still being kept under wraps for now.

I played “P.T.” in its entirety and yes, it scared the living shit out of me. For my impressions skip after the break. (Click here for more…)

Xbox and PlayStation at Gamescom 2014

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on August 13th, 2014

Gamescom is a video games trade show–like E3, except for the that fact that it takes place in Europe (in Cologne, Germany to be precise) and it attracts a much, much larger crowd of attendees including members of the press and game developers. And just like they did at Los Angeles’ E3 in June, console makers Microsoft and Sony held press events revealing new titles, providing updates on previously announced ones, and showing off new system features. For the latest on the games, I recommend you visit Joystiq. This post will mostly focus on software updates coming to the Xbox One and PS4, as well as new hardware options revealed. For the full scoop, jump after the break. (Click here for more…)

Jimmy Fallon parodies ‘House of Cards’

Posted in Hilarity,Television,Video by Scott Meisner on August 13th, 2014

Jimmy Fallon’s latest parody takes on Netflix Original Series House of Cards. Though it falls short when stacked against previous parodies (see: Game of DesksJoking Bad, and Lost parody Late), Jimmy does a fine impersonation of Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood and the two parts are sprinkled with funny nods to the show for fans to enjoy. Take a look; House of Cue Cards part one is embedded above, and part two is after the break. (Click here for more…)

HBO renews ‘The Leftovers’ for a second season

Posted in News,Television by Scott Meisner on August 13th, 2014

Who knew one could feel so ecstatic about such a depressing show!” I tweeted upon hearing the news of renewal. HBO’s The Leftovers, from Losts Damon Lindelof and Leftovers author Tom Perrotta, continues to depress and infuriate its viewers with gory, out of left field violence (read: the shocking death-by-stoning of GR member Gladys) and mystery perpetually left unresolved (Perrotta’s book never explains what happened to The Departed; will the show?). So far in its first season the series has managed to captivate with its unapologetic dreary outlook. It’s proven it can tell interesting character studies by using full episodes to further flesh out backstories (see: Rev. Matt Jamison and Nora Durst’s tales of faith and discovery). And then there’s our protagonist, the flawed, enigmatic Kevin Garvey, Jr. played expertly by Justin Theroux whose life eloquently weaves in and out of dreams always living on the edge of sanity. Garvey is the glue whose actions have repercussions not only on his depressing town but also on the main mystery that lights a fire under the series: where did everyone go and why? Whether or not Holy Wayne’s army of pregnant Asian women hold the key to “bridging” the gap between The Leftovers and The Departed, it’s too much fun despising the chain-smoking, white-clad Guilty Remnant and picking out the Lost-like clues Lindelof is leaving along the way. With just three episodes left this season, we are on the precipice of finding out if this show truly contains any answers or if it will continue to force viewers to journey into a bleak and hopeless unknown that is, at the same time, a supremely hypnotic and tantalizing place to be.

“We are thrilled to bring back The Leftovers for a second season with the exceptional talents of Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta,” HBO programming head Michael Lombardo said in a statement today. “It has been truly exciting to see the overwhelming response to their provocative and original storytelling. We look forward to continuing the journey as the show delves deeper into the lives of those who remain.”

The Leftovers airs Sunday nights at 10PM on HBO.

Mini teaser: AMC’s ‘Better Call Saul’

Posted in Television,Video by Scott Meisner on August 13th, 2014

Here’s your very first look at Bob Odenkirk as lawyer Jimmy McGill, the protagonist of Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s Breaking Bad spinoff/prequel series. As we already know, Better Call Saul takes place six years before the Saul meets Walter White; it will take time before McGill transforms into criminal lawyer “Saul Goodman” audiences have come to know and love. This is the teasiest of teasers clocking in at a mere 10 seconds, but the clip does just enough to remind viewers of Odenkirk’s magic plus we get premiere timeframe: February 2015. Let the countdown begin.

‘Homeland’ stars discuss upcoming new season

Posted in Television,Video by Scott Meisner on August 13th, 2014

Homeland stars Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, and Nazanin Boniadi take time during their promotional photoshoot to talk season 4. In addition to a brief glimpse at this season’s shooting location (Cape Town, South Africa will stand in for parts of the Middle East), this new clip does a fine job at teasing the upcoming Brody-less season just as the “First-Look” trailer did before it.

Homeland returns October 5 to Showtime with a two hour premiere.

A Lonely Island movie is in the works!

Posted in Movies,News by Scott Meisner on August 13th, 2014

The Lonely Island aka The Dudes aka Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer are making another movie together. The last time the SNL Digital Short guys collaborated on a feature film was in 2007; the absurd genius that is Hot Rod was the result. This time around they are teaming up with Universal Pictures and prolific producer Judd Apatow to make a comedy set in the world of music, according to Variety. TLI is no stranger to making music; in addition to producing comedic music videos for SNL like “Jizz in my Pants” and “I’m On a Boat,” they’ve gone on to release three comedy-rap albums: Incredibad (2009), Turtleneck & Chain (2011), and The Wack Album (2013). The untitled pic will be directed by Schaffer (Hot Rod) and Taccone (MacGruber). All three Dudes are expected to star. In short, this project has the potential to be insanely outrageous and hilarious packed with a catalog of TLI-infused tunes. At the very least, we’re likely to get a new Lonely Island album out of it! Next stop: trailer town.

Movie trailer round-up: Disney’s ‘Into the Woods,’ ‘Night at the Museum 3,’ ‘SpongeBob Movie 2′ & ‘Interstellar’

Posted in Movies,Video by Scott Meisner on August 13th, 2014

Disney is adapting the Tony-winning original musical Into the Woods into a movie. Like the Broadway musical before it, the theatrical adaptation is inspired by classic Brothers Grimm fairytales such as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel. The film is directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) and composer Stephen Sondheim provides the music and lyrics. Its synopsis and stars follow:

“Into the Woods” is a modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy)—all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife (James Corden & Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch (Meryl Streep) who has put a curse on them.

Into the Woods hits theatres December 25.

Jump after the break to view more trailers. (Click here for more…)

Comic Con: Extended look at ‘Person of Interest’ season 4

Posted in News,Television,Video by Scott Meisner on July 29th, 2014

At the end of Person of Interest‘s third season, our heroes Reese, Finch, Shaw, and Root were forced into hiding after the sinister John Greer of Decima Technologies turned on a second powerful and all-knowing artificial intelligence-enabled machine known as Samaritan. At Comic Con executive producers Jonah Nolan and Greg Plageman, along with cast members Jim Caviezel, Michael Emerson, Kevin Chapman, Sarah Shahi, and Amy Acker, screened an extended clip (embedded after the break) featuring mostly new footage from the upcoming season that sheds a good amount of light on what’s coming next. Samaritan is hunting down the remaining members of Team Machine…The Machine continues to spit out numbers and while Reese is eager to continue their work, Finch knows their resources are severely limited…The Machine has helped Reese go undercover in law enforcement while ladies Shaw and Root now work at a posh department store (the panel’s crowd erupted in laughter at the sight of Shaw working her new job)…also, quick glimpses of Elias and Control hint at their return.

When asked what the theme of the new season will be Plageman answered “war.” It’s a battle between two AIs and our heroes are stuck in the middle with limited resources and no sanctuary (The Library was destroyed, remember?). It is key to note that Detective Fusco is not being flagged by Samaritan, and Plageman says this will allow for fun creative liberties. Also, Nolan briefly hinted that the two AIs might be upgraded with a voice some time in the future, but at the same time Plageman assured fans that they “always want to keep the technology grounded.”

Person of Interest returns Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 10PM on CBS. (Click here for more…)

Comic Con: ‘The Walking Dead’ season 5 trailer will blow you (and your brains) away

Posted in Image cache,Television,Video by Scott Meisner on July 29th, 2014

The Walking Dead knows how to cut trailer. Once again they’ve managed to top themselves with a brilliant season 5 trailer that only teeters on major reveals and still gets the job done. This pretty much confirms Rick and the gang will get out of Train Car A and face the Termites of Terminus. Gareth, their leader, appears to be a reasonable man here as he allows Rick and co. to leave his horror house and find a cure for the zombie apocalypse in Washington, D.C. That’s right–road trip! “When we get to Washington, we will make the dead die and the living will have this world again,” snarls Abraham Ford. And who took Beth? A tiny tease at the end reveals her imprisonment at some sort of psych ward (?); wherever she is she appears to be more badass than ever and ready for escape.

What looks to be the most ambitious season of The Walking Dead yet premieres Sunday, October 12 at 9PM on AMC. Skip after the break to view new key art made specifically for Comic Con. (Click here for more…)

Comic Con: ‘Once Upon a Time’ readies fans for ‘Frozen’ arc

Posted in News,Television,Video by Scott Meisner on July 29th, 2014

Don’t hold your breath, Oncers. Though ABC is touting this as the official “Season 4 Trailer” it serves simply as a series recap and does not contain new footage. Bummer, I know. But here it is nevertheless, and it will get you amped for what’s to come in Storybrooke this fall.

Major takeaways from this year’s Once Upon a Time panel at Comic Con: Giancarlo Esposito, fresh off his three year stint on NBC’s now-cancelled Revolution, will return as Regina’s Mirror. Actor Michael Socha, who played the Knave in the short-lived spinoff Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, will make his way to Storybrooke. Colin O’Donoghue’s Hook will begin to sport modern attire in the new season. A musical episode is not in the cards (for now). And in terms of the hyped Frozen storyline, showrunners Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz presented a brief clip (not available online) of Anna and Elsa (played by Georgina Haig and Elizabeth Lail, respectively) leaving flowers at their parents’ grave. Frozen characters joining the show include the aforementioned queen and princess, Kristoff (Scott Michael Foster), Hans (Tyler Jacob Moore), and Grand Pabbie the Troll King (voiced by John Rhys-Davies).

[Via TVLine]

Comic Con: Ridley Scott debuts ‘Halo: Nightfall’ first look

Posted in Technology,Video,Web Series by Scott Meisner on July 29th, 2014

Here’s a first look at Ridley Scott’s original live-action digital series Halo: Nightfall. Though Master Chief is nowhere to be found in this debut trailer, the scene is set for a Prometheus-like adventure into the gritty unknown. Here’s the scoop:

Taking place between the events of Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians, Halo: Nightfall follows the origin story of legendary manhunter Jameson Locke (Mike Colter) and his team as they are caught in a horrific terrorist attack while investigating terrorist activity on the distant colony world of Sedra. Led by Locke, the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) agents are forced to coordinate with a Sedran commander with a remarkable history and deep-rooted mistrust of ONI. As the plot unravels, they’re drawn to an ancient, hellish artifact where they’re forced to fight for their survival, question everything, and ultimately choose between their loyalties and their lives. Agent Locke is a new character in the Halo universe poised to play a major role in Halo 5: Guardians releasing on Xbox One in 2015.

Halo developer 343 Industries and Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions premiered the trailer at Comic Con announcing the series’ director Sergio Mimica-Gezzan (Battlestar Galactica, Pillars of the Earth, Heroes) writer Paul Scheuring (Prison Break), and cast led by Mike Colter (The Good Wife).

“In science fiction, we’re always searching for new frontiers. We’re drawn to the unknown,” said Scott. “With Halo: Nightfall, we’re pioneering a new medium in terms of interactive storytelling on Xbox.  It’s going to be fun for long-time fans to see how the worlds come together with an ambition to attract new fans along the way with what we’ve created.”

Halo: Nightfall will come packed inside Halo: The Master Chief Collection and it will be made available to all Xbox Live subscribers beginning on November 11.

[Via Xbox Wire]

Comic Con: ‘Bates Motel” unearths actors’ “audition tapes”

Posted in Hilarity,Television,Video by Scott Meisner on July 29th, 2014

Those who attended the Bates Motel panel at this year’s Comic Con were privy to never-before-seen “audition tapes” headlined by series stars Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Nestor Carbonell, Olivia Cooke, and Max Thieriot. You’re probably wondering why those words are in quotations; well, I won’t ruin the surprise. Just got a box of tissues ready because soon enough tears of laughter will be streaming down your face. This here is pure gold.

Also during the panel it was announced that Kenny Johnson–who plays Caleb, Norma’s brother and Dylan’s biological father–will return as a series regular in season three. Also, Nicola Peltz–Norman’s friend-that-he-would-do-anything-for Bradley Martin–will return to the show after leaving early on in season two to shoot the new Transformers movie; again, unfortunately, she will not be present full-time but she’s expected to enter the fold later in the season.

Bates Motel returns to A&E this fall.

Comic Con: ABC celebrates ‘LOST’ 10 years later

Posted in Television,Video by Scott Meisner on July 29th, 2014

The groundbreaking drama LOST premiered to a room full of eager fans at 2004′s San Diego Comic Con. Ten years later the Alphabet network that fostered it produced a short yet impactful two minute commemorative video featuring some of the series most memorable scenes bookended by words from showrunners Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof. The video embedded above ran on a loop at ABC’s booth during this year’s Comic Con. If you couldn’t make it out this year watch it now and relive the emotional bliss that was and forever will be LOST. Jack’s bearded rallying cry “We have to go back,” Charlie’s hand inscribed with the message “Not Penny’s Boat,” Jack and Locke’s heated faith argument, Jack’s “Kate, dammit, run!,” Ben tearfully pushing the donkey wheel with all his might to (boom) move the Island–it’s all there. Enjoy.

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Comic Con: Zack Snyder outs Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

Posted in Image cache,Movies by Scott Meisner on July 29th, 2014

During Warner Bros.’ Hall H presentation, director Zack Snyder tweeted out this first official image of Israeli actress Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in his upcoming film Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Welcome the sexy, badass Amazon into the fold and dive into the comments sections to share you thoughts on her modern, gritty look. What do you think?

BvS:DoJ releases May 6, 2016.

Movie trailer round-up: ‘The Hobbit’, ‘Sin City 2′ & ‘Hot Tub Time Machine 2′

Posted in Image cache,Movies,Video by Scott Meisner on July 29th, 2014

Peter Jackson’s final movie in the Hobbit trilogy is The Battle of the Five Armies and it’s promising to be the most emotionally intense installment yet. Here’s the latest synopsis and the first teaser trailer rests above.

“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” brings to an epic conclusion the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield and the Company of Dwarves. Having reclaimed their homeland from the Dragon Smaug, the Company has unwittingly unleashed a deadly force into the world. Enraged, Smaug rains his fiery wrath down upon the defenseless men, women and children of Lake-town. 

Obsessed above all else with his reclaimed treasure, Thorin sacrifices friendship and honor to hoard it as Bilbo’s frantic attempts to make him see reason drive the Hobbit towards a desperate and dangerous choice. But there are even greater dangers ahead. Unseen by any but the Wizard Gandalf, the great enemy Sauron has sent forth legions of Orcs in a stealth attack upon the Lonely Mountain. 

As darkness converges on their escalating conflict, the races of Dwarves, Elves and Men must decide – unite or be destroyed. Bilbo finds himself fighting for his life and the lives of his friends in the epic Battle of the Five Armies, as the future of Middle-earth hangs in the balance.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies hits theatres December 17. Eye a fancy new poster below.

Jump after the break to view more trailers. (Click here for more…)

Abrams reveals Episode VII’s X-Wing Starfighter in new fundraiser clip

Posted in Movies,Video by Scott Meisner on July 29th, 2014

Director J.J. Abrams is back to remind Star Wars fans that his UNICEF fundraiser “Force for Change” is still in effect. He shares that people from over 119 countries have participated so far and you can too at [The chance to win a trip to the set and be in the movie is now over. The winner will be announced next month.] Now, as Abrams is spilling the details the camera in the clip above slowly pans out to reveal his version of the famed X-Wing Starfighter.

Star Wars Episode VII releases December 18, 2015.

FX renews ‘Fargo’ & ‘Louie’

Posted in News,Television by Scott Meisner on July 29th, 2014

FX has renewed Fargo and Louie for a second and fifth season, respectively.

EP Noah Hawley took big risk adapting and twisting the Coen brother’s classic film for the small screen and it paid off. Fargo on FX, starring Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton, proved to be a highly addicting, violent, and incredibly intriguing character study. Hawley thinks there’s more to explore in this inspired world he brought back to life and in its second season we will travel back in time to revisit Keith Carradine’s character Lou Solverson, albeit at a younger age. The 10-episode Fargo was always billed as an event series, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a new season will play out sort of like FX’s other series American Horror Story with new characters and an entirely new plot. Though Fargo season 2 will deviate from AHS in that it will take place in the world as its first season and will carry over familiar characters (played by different actors, of course). Lou will be much younger in 1979, and his daughter Molly (portrayed by the talented Allison Tolman in season 1) will be but four years old. In terms of plot, the new season will explore the “Sioux Falls” incident that Lou mentioned a couple times in the show’s first year. Expect more Fargo in 2015.

Moving on to Louie, the comedian produced (and directed and wrote and edited and starred in) arguably the best season of his dramedy this year. Standouts “Elevator” and “In the Woods” pushed the envelope in terms of pure creativity. FX head John Landgraf puts it nicely: “Louie’s fourth season was once again groundbreaking. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking — always thought provoking. The show went to narrative and cinematic places no comedy has gone before and we look forward to seeing what Louis comes up with next.” A 7-episode fifth season is expected to air in Spring 2015.

[Via TVLine 1, 2]