Showbiz Sandbox 270: The Oscars Need A Reboot

What was billed as the closest Oscar race in recent memory turned out to be predictably dull as “Birdman” flew away with four awards including Best Picture. Not even host Neil Patrick Harris could make them more entertaining. Indiewire’s Anne Thompson attended the ceremony and stops by to give us her thoughts on this year’s Oscar winners and the ceremony itself.

We also take a look at the movies that could potentially be competing for Oscar trophies next year. Filmmakers such as Ron Howard, David O. Russell, Steven Spielberg and even this year’s Best Director winner Alejandro González Iñárritu all have movies set for release.

In other awards prognostication news, now that the Academy Awards are over, we have the Tony Awards for live theater to look forward to. Though once it looked as if there wouldn’t be any musicals to honor, Broadway will be awash in them come springtime. Even better, there are more new musicals than revivals scheduled for this season.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including Starbucks plan to stop selling CDs, the Emmys update their rules and finding an ending to “Mission: Impossible 5” has been… well, impossible.

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 270: The Oscars Need A Reboot

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 234: Scandal and Politics Invade Hollywood (Again)

Two real-life controversies are presently complicating life in Hollywood where studios prefer to make lots of money and ignore complicated social issues or the sometimes tawdry private lives of their executives and talent. The first involves accusations of forcible rape by movie director Bryan Singer. The second involves boycotting a historic Tinseltown hotel over its owners politics.

In less contentious news it appears our prediction about the future of Craig Ferguson as host of the “Late Late Show” was correct, and he will indeed be departing by the end of this year. The host says the decision was entirely his own, despite what it might look like with David Letterman retiring from his show’s lead in, “Late Night”.

Tony nominations were announced last week to honor some of this year’s best and brightest Broadway productions and performers. We give you a rundown of all the front runners as well as a look at a few that didn’t make the cut.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the “Star Wars Episode VII” casting announcement, AT&T’s acquisition offer of DirecTV and Ben Affleck’s blackjack trouble.

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 234: Scandal and Politics Invade Hollywood (Again)

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 229: Making South by Southwest A Family Affair

Countless bands long to play at South by Southwest, the music festival that takes place in Austin, Texas every March. The event has grown into an important showcases for undiscovered, unsigned and fast rising artists. The Family Crest, an indie rock band from San Francisco, is one of the buzzworthy acts that played at this year’s SxSW. Liam McCormick, the group’s songwriter and founding member, joins us to discuss what it’s being officially invited to play at such a prestigious festival.

In an in-depth conversation, McCormick walks us through how The Family Crest has managed to follow through on all the necessary achievements modern bands strive for in search of success; they’ve funded two albums via Kickstarter which feature hundreds of musicians, they’re signed to an indie record label and NPR is touting the group’s music, which of course can be easily found on all the popular streaming services. On top of all that, television series and advertising campaigns have begun licensing their music.

Much like The Family Crest, Disney is doing quite well for itself these days, at least when it comes to Broadway. What’s surprising is that it isn’t one of the company’s hot new productions that’s the highest grossing production on the Great White Way, but rather “The Lion King”, which opened 16 years ago. It’s all thanks to the new trend of dynamic ticket pricing. We’ll explain.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including why the NFL is suing M.I.A., Amazon prepares to enter the streaming music business, and “Big Bang Theory” gets renewed for three whole seasons.

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 229: Making South by Southwest A Family Affair

Play

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.

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 178: Sex Sells At Sundance

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 148: Soaking Up This Year’s Cannes Film Festival

Uncharacteristic inclement weather drenched the first half of this year’s Cannes Film Festival, though the rain could not dampen the spirits of attendees or distributors looking to acquire hot titles. Are the selections at this year’s festival going to be future award contenders as they were last year with “The Artist” and “Tree of Life”? We’ll let you know.

Of course, Cannes has never been short on movie stars. This year’s festival has featured appearances from Bruce Willis, Nicole Kidman, Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Brad Pitt, to name just a few. However some journalists are finding that getting access to such talent can be costly, especially if you have to pay thousands of euro for interviews. We’ll explain.

One film that didn’t make it into the festival is “Battleship”. The $200 million action film finally opened in North America over the weekend to poor reviews and tepid box office receipts. Like Disney was forced to do with “John Carter”, Universal will likely take a write down on the movie.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including this year’s entries to the National Recording Registry, ABC’s plans to expand “Good Morning America” to the afternoon and the creator of “Community” gets fired from his own show.

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 148: Soaking Up This Year’s Cannes Film Festival

Play

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

Play