Friday, February 22, 2013

Before the Oscars, There Was ‘Ted’ and Marlee Matlin: This Is the Best of Seth MacFarlane

With the 85th Annual Academy Awards (now officially rebranded as 'The Oscars') taking its bow this Sunday, there’s no time like the present to get in on Hollywood’s biggest night of the year. But we don’t want to discuss nominees, who’s going with whom, or red carpet fashion. Nope; that’s been done to death. Instead, we’re honing in on first-time Oscars host Seth MacFarlane. The Family Guy creator was an unconventional and unexpected choice, for sure – especially given his comedic track record – but there’s no doubt dude can hold his own. So to get you ready for what could be the most memorable, entertaining and (hopefully) hilarious Oscars in years, we give you the best of Seth MacFarlane, in all its raunchy, offensive, and endearing glory.

1. He nails celebrity impressions – especially when said celebrities are simpletons 

If there’s anybody who does a better impression of Olympic swimming sensation and professional himbo Ryan Lochte than Ryan Lochte, it’s Seth MacFarlane. In this “Weekend Update” segment from Saturday Night Live, MacFarlane as Lochte waxes idiotic about the wonders of being dry and shares his excitement for fall TV, including Matthew Perry’s Goon – or Go On, as it’s known to the rest of us.

2. Even deaf actress Marlee Matlin isn’t off limits

To be fair, credit for this sketch from Family Guy Presents Seth & Alex’s Almost Live Comedy Show mostly goes to Alex Borstein (who voices Lois Griffin on Family Guy) for not only nailing her impression of Oscar-winning deaf actress Marlee Matlin but also becoming the butt of the joke herself. You just know, though, that MacFarlane was likely the brains behind the operation, as evidenced by his Cheshire-like grin in the background as Matlin lets Borstein have it.

3. He gave grown men license to cuddle with their teddies

Who knew a foul-mouthed, pot-smoking, womanizing teddy bear could be so charming? MacFarlane, of course. His comedic genius helped make Ted the highest-grossing original R-rated comedy of all time, it earned him an Oscar nomination in the Best Song category for Ted’s “Everybody Needs a Best Friend,” and it gave men across America the cajones to admit that sometimes they, too, need a Thunder Buddy.

4. Peter Griffin still gives us something to laugh about

Fourteen years after its debut, Family Guy still brings in solid ratings for Fox to the tune of an average 7 million viewers per season. With wacky MacFarlane-voiced characters like bumbling blue-collar worker Peter Griffin, it’s easy to see why.

5. Beyond the fart jokes, he has a softer side

Seth MacFarlane isn’t all about being crude. In fact, he’s a skilled pianist and singer with a penchant for big-band standards and Broadway musicals. In this clip, the multitalented performer delivers a top-notch homage to Gene Kelly with “Singing in the Rain” at the BBC Proms with the John Wilson Orchestra.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Disney Puts J.J. Abrams in Charge of ‘Star Wars’ Future

Star Wars EP1 3D

As the Star Wars franchise sees its first light of day under Disney, esteemed director J.J. Abrams is slated to make the next batch of movies in the epic Sci-Fi saga.

Rewind three decades ago (give or take a year or two), and you would have seen the monumental moment when “The Empire Strikes Back,” was looking at directors like Kershner to be the vehicle to the big screen successes. However, those were in the days prior to social media platforms, the internet, and the buzz that it creates and foments. So announcements to that degree barely raised a wiggle from fans. More recently, when J.J. Abrams was announced as the new director for the forthcoming “Star Wars Episode VII,” naturally there was some speculation brewing.

Now Abrams, by all means, is highly experienced and is fully qualified. He’s successfully delivered big screen blockbusters such as "Lost," "Fringe," "Super 8" and the new "Star Trek." Now that he’s tasked with rebooting a Disneyfied Star Wars, all eyes on are on him to see if he can take Lucas’ brilliance and translate that to Disney’s masterpiece. Considering that Disney has about $4 billion (yes, that’s billion with a B) invested in the franchise, that’s a rather hefty heavyweight belt to carry around the midsection for Abrams.

The internet blew up in heated response following the announcement, much of which was spurred by loyal, fanatic and panicked fans, many of which were not fans of Abrams’ prior works. And perhaps one might say they are panicky, as Abrams has already received a pontiff worthy blessing from Lucas himself.

"To be a part of the next chapter of the 'Star Wars' saga is an absolute honor," Abrams said in a statement released by Disney, the new owner of Lucasfilm. "I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid. It galvanized for me; not for what was exciting about how movies were made, but rather for what movies were capable of."

So what did George Lucas really have to say about all of this? Well to be quite honest, he’s quite impressed by the rising directing star, and has yet to direct or produce a movie that doesn’t reap in hordes of cash at the box office with a-list stars galore.

"I've consistently been impressed with J.J. as a filmmaker and storyteller," Lucas said in a recent interview. "He's an ideal choice to direct the new 'Star Wars' film, and the legacy couldn't be in better hands."

So can Abrams pull it off? Many are calling him the “Master of the Reboot.” That’s because he’s successfully revived dying franchise to the likes of: "Star Trek," and "Mission: Impossible 3.”
Considering those were big money blockbusters, and also considering how well received Star Trek was by its unwaveringly loyal, diehard fans, who have little retribution for error, it’s safe to say that Star Wars is in the best hands it could be (as Lucas is certain to agree).

Of course, only time will tell if the black mouse ears (Disney) let this director truly apply his vision to the next potentially great science fiction film of our time.

Monday, February 11, 2013

10 Things We Learned from the 2013 Grammy Awards

by Mikey Rox

Music biggest night bowed last night, and for the most part it was an entertaining show. Performances by Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5 and Alicia Keys, Carrie Underwood, and The Lumineers – among other notable artists and acts – filled most of the three-hour event, but there was still time for a few OMG, WTF and SMH moments at the 55th Grammy Awards. We remember 10 of them here.

1. Taylor Swift Lives In Her Own Little World – And It’s Perpetually Awkward

There’s no lack of GIFs featuring Taylor Swift dancing, squinting, and making weird faces today because, well, that’s what Taylor Swift does. Frankly, it’s nice to see her taking time out of her very busy heart-breaking schedule. Nonetheless, it’s become quite clear from her level of enthusiasm at award shows that T-Swizzle is either really content being the center of her own universe or she’s autistic. We can’t decide.

2. J. Lo Doesn’t Have a Single Whole Dress in Her Closet

We hope J. Lo receives a hefty discount on her couture. Lady never gets a entire gown.

3. Justin Timberlake Can Bring Sexy Back – Anytime, Anywhere

Justin Timberlake may be a real asshat in real life (allegedly), but the kid knows how to bring the heat. Just try to watch this performance of his new single ‘Suit & Tie’ without getting all hot and bothered.

4. Adele Don’t Give Too Hoots What Anybody Thinks About Her – Which Makes Us Love Her Even More

There are now a million and two reasons to love Adele after last night’s Grammy Awards. First, she wore a very busy, very nontraditional dress to the ceremony – and owned it! – and she has a fierce sense of humor. Before presenting Mumford & Sons with their Grammy Award for Album of the Year, she prefaced the reading of the nominations with this little gem: “Most artists who win Album of the Year tend to go on to have even more phenomenal global success, embark on humungous tours, or get knocked up like last year’s winner.” The Brit beauty, who went on hiatus to have a kid after cleaning up at last year’s show, was referring to herself with the quip, which quickly became of one of show’s most memorable moments. 

5. Mumford and Sons Are British; We Had No Idea

We were floored when we first heard The Walking Dead’s Andrew Lincoln (he plays de facto leader Rick Grimes) speak in an interview – he’s as English as they come despite his character’s impeccable southern drawl – and we were equally stunned when Mumford & Sons delivered their thank-yous after winning the award for Album of the Year. Surely we’re not the only ones who thought this folk-rock quartet hailed from a someplace in America where people go catfishin’ by hand... are we?

6. Mavis Staples Is the New Object of Our Affection

We had never heard of gospel singer Mavis Staples before last night’s tribute to Levon Helm, which also featured Elton John, T. Bone Burnett, Zac Brown, Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard, and Mumford & Sons – but now we can’t get enough of her. She totally looks like the kind of lady who’d make a fresh pitcher of hard lemonade from scratch and share it with you over cigars on the back porch. 

7. Frank Ocean Should Have His Grammy Noms Revoked for that Ridiculous ‘Forrest Gump’ Song

We thought perhaps Frank Ocean was having a mental breakdown on live television about 45 seconds into his four-minute ode to Forrest Gump. Yes, the “Life is like a box of chocolates” Forrest Gump. We’re still scratching our heads too, and we sincerely hope somebody was fired for this fail.

8. Faith Hill and Tim McGraw Are Hungry
Somebody fetch these two a few hand-caught catfish – stat!

9. Kelly Clarkson Doesn’t Know Who Miguel Is – And Neither Do We

During her acceptance speech for Best Pop Vocal Album (“Stronger”), Clarkson said that she doesn’t “who the hell” Miguel is, referring to Miguel Pimentel, who performed a rather swoon-worthy rendition of “Adorn” featuring Wiz Khalifa. You’re not alone, Kelly. But we’re glad we do now.

10. LL Cool J Is 45 Years Old – And He’s Still Got It Goin’ On

This dude is almost as old as your daddy. Puts things into perspective, doesn't it?