Showbiz Sandbox 178: Sex Sells At Sundance

The Sundance Film Festival has a reputation of programming edgy, independent films that often reflect the spirit and sentiment of the country. The festival must think the nation is in a lascivious mood since many of the films at this year’s event are rather racy.

In fact, at least three films at this year’s festival focus on pornography, including “Lovelace” a biopic of the world’s first pornstar. Whether it’s suburban lesbian mothers turning into prostitutes or two best friends having affairs with each other’s sons, Sundance has been hot and steamy.

If the number of distribution deals at this year’s festival is any indication however, Sundance is surely on the right track.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including controversial action figures for “Django Unchained”, Hanks and Spielberg head to war again, and Robert Iger’s big salary raise.

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Showbiz Sandbox 82: Training For The Awards Season Marathon

The end of the year always has more “best of” lists and awards show news than any media outlet knows what to do with. Over the past week nominees were announced for the Independent Spirit Awards, the Grammys and the Annies (for animated films). In Europe, they’ve already started holding awards ceremonies, with “The King’s Speech” cleaning up at the British Independent Film Awards and “Ghost Writer” topping the European Film Awards.

Competing at next year’s awards shows will likely be a few films selected for the upcoming Sundance Film Festival which will take place in January. Some outlets noted that the festival’s competition selection didn’t have enough star driven films, but artistic director John Cooper points to the premieres section which has been programmed with films sure to keep the Park City paparazzi quite busy.

In television news, it appears the degree to which networks and advertisers trust Nielsen’s rating system is decreasing by the day. They claim Nielsen’s method of acquiring its numbers is antiquated.  Meanwhile, on Broadway, all anyone wants to talk about is “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark”. While most avid theater-goers believe the super hero musical is going to be awful, they all still can’t wait to see it.

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Showbiz Sandbox 24: How To Get A Hero Complex

Our special guest this week is Geoff Boucher, full time entertainment writer for the Los Angeles Times and part time Wookiee. Geoff began the popular L.A. Times blog, Hero Complex, devoted to caped crusaders, zombies, wizards and all things superhero. With a tag line that reads “for your inner fanboy”, Hero Complex has quietly become a huge hit and recently won the award for best online commentary among large websites from the Online News Association.

Over the last week, Geoff wrote a series of posts on the blog that look at film franchises entering their fourth turn on the silver screen, including “Lord Of The Rings”, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Spider-Man”, and “X-Men”. (Check out the reader poll: ‘The Hobbit’ Will Triumph But ‘X-Men’ and ‘Pirates’ Franchises Should Quit Now)

Meanwhile, at this weekend’s North American box office, moviegoers made “Couples Retreat” the number one film, followed by “Zombieland” and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”. The big surprise of the weekend was the little indie film “Paranormal Activity”. Made for peanuts, the film is now raking in millions based solely off a social networking marketing campaign. That might be why Michael Giltz and Karen Woodward are dying to see the movie. . . no pun intended. (See the movie, you’ll get the joke).  Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 24: How To Get A Hero Complex

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Showbiz Sandbox 14: Zooey Deschanel Proves It’s Twee To Be You And Me

First off, we took care of a little internal business by welcoming entertainment journalist Michael Giltz as an official co-host.

Alonso Duralde joins us this week. Alonso is the film critic at MSNBC.com and the author of “101 Must-See Movies for Gay Men“. His reviews are featured regularly on The Rotten Tomatoes Show. A member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Alonso spent six years as Arts & Entertainment editor at The Advocate where he is still a contributing writer. His work has also appeared in such publications as the Village Voice, Movieline, Detour among many others. This month Alonso will be curating a the series “So Bad They’re Brilliant” at the American Cinematheque. You can follow him on Twitter at @MSNBCalonso.

We asked Alonso to join us because of a story he wrote for msnbc.com called “Do You See What I Twee?”, as it related to the latest movies. He described the essence of twee as “avoiding the fashionable, the obvious, the predictable, the mundane in an attempt to be, for lack of a better phrase, showily unshowy…It’s about replacing one calculated technique of visual and cultural cues with another.” It’s an apt description of one of the more popular movies out this summer, “(500) Days of Summer,” and its lead, Zooey Deschanel. We also just love saying the word “twee.” Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 14: Zooey Deschanel Proves It’s Twee To Be You And Me

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