Here’s how thoroughly Batman’s influence has permeated the mainstream: he’s claimed tacit ownership of the very notion of shining a light into the sky. The Bat-Signal, introduced in the comics as Gotham City’s method of summoning the Dark Knight, has been endlessly parodied in the annals of pop-culture — just earlier this month, the poster for Captain Underpants paid homage to the iconic (a word I mean here literally, and not in the ‘a photo of the Kardashians’ sense) design of the skyward spotlight. And all too appropriately, the Bat-Signal will now be used to give one former Batman, the dearly departed Adam West, a proper send-off.
Last summer, a spat allegedly broke out between Fast and Furious franchise megastars Vin Diesel and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson while shooting the latest installment The Fate of the Furious. There were rumors of unprofessionalism on set, Johnson threw around the term “candy-ass” pretty liberally, it was a hoot for all involved. But it did cast some doubt on Johnson’s future with the series; there was no telling whether the performer could be persuaded to return for another collaboration with a guy he seemingly couldn’t stand. But a new revelation today (well, new for all of you — Johnson and I are well-documented besties and have been Gchatting about this all week) clarifies the fate of this furious man.
One of last year’s finest films, and certainly the most challenging documentary, was Robert Greene’s Kate Plays Christine. The concept was ingenious: the film tracks actress Kate Lyn Sheil as she prepares to portray the late newswoman Christine Chubbuck and tease out what factors could have compelled a woman to shoot herself in the head on live television. It was a beguiling interrogation of authenticity and artifice, tracing the limits of performance as a means to locate truth, and now the world of documentary film has begun to follow Greene’s groundbreaking example. The new trailer for Casting JonBenet offers a glimpse at a film using Greene’s methods, and applying them to an equally disturbing footnote in history.
It’s the bugaboo that every comic who’s ever gripped a mic and squinted into the spotlight knows all too well: silence. You keep telling the jokes, and your best material isn’t getting a peep. The flop sweat starts to gather at the small of your back, and all of a sudden, you regret not taking the bottle of water they offered you backstage. The colloquial turn is ‘choking’ or ‘bombing,’ and it happens to the best of the best. They admit as much themselves in the new trailer for the upcoming stand-up documentary Dying Laughing; all the Emmys in the world can’t protect the biggest talents in the world from an occasional nuclear-class bombing, and the upcoming doc captures all the agony and ecstasy of life in comedy.
In a Variety exclusive late on Friday, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences announced that they had dumped two of the five scheduled performances of the Best Original Song nominees from this Sunday’s upcoming telecast. Ordinarily, the news that the notoriously lengthy Oscar ceremony would be shortened in any way at all would be cause for celebration, but the particulars of this decision should give readers pause. It’s true that the song performances can be the most time-consuming parts of the show, and though they’re definitely the least necessary, it’s some real bull-tonky that the show would appear only to cut the performances without adequate star-power behind them.
With reporters and pundits at Sundance now madly speculating on the frontrunners for the 2017 Oscars (despite the ceremony being thirteen months away, Casey Affleck appears to be a lock for Best Actor), we might have forgotten that this year’s awards season is not yet over. This year’s Oscar telecast is still a month away, but other Hollywood institutions continue to keep the finger-sandwich industry in the black by gradually rolling out their awards programs in January. Everybody’s got a guild — the Screen Actors Guild will name its recipients on Saturday, the Directors Guild of America has its big shindig the week after, and the Writers Guild of America has laid claim to the week after that.
The gallant paramilitary contractors of Michael Bay’s Benghazi film 13 Hours risked life and limb to defend our American way of life — our freedom to speak our minds, to worship as our souls move us, and most importantly, to carry fully loaded firearms into public spaces. And so it is with a dark, tragic irony that we relay the news that a Washington state woman sustained a gunshot wound during a screening of 13 Hours last night.
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