In a Store Near You: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season Two Declassified!

About this time last year, I had the incredible experience of writing my first behind the scenes book for the amazing television show Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and its first season. I consider myself so thankful and lucky that they asked me back to write a follow-up for the second season, and didn't want to let them down (nor fans of the first) by not making the second book bigger and better than the last.

Once again, there's so many people to thank that helped me out, dedicating their time and providing assets and amazing conversations that make the book what they are. And the problem is that once you start naming names, you inevitably always leave someone incredibly crucial out. So a very heartfelt thank you to anyone and everyone at Marvel, in front of and behind the camera on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and to all those that have supported both books.

Thanks to everyone that contributed, there isn't a doubt in my mind that Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season Two Declassified is a definitive look behind the scenes of the show's second season: episode synopsis and analysis, behind the scenes anecdotes and details, artwork, storyboards, visual effects breakdowns, and incredible photography from some of the best unit photographers in the business. Even if you aren't a fan of the show (which you should be, but it's okay, I'll forgive you) hopefully the book is a great look into what it takes to create such an elaborate show on a week-to-week basis.

Once again, I kind of felt like Young William from Almost Famous - I was the uncool kid getting to hang with the super-cool rock stars and getting to tell their story. But where William's mandate was just to "make the band look cool," I didn't have to work too hard in order to convey the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s coolness. 

You can order the book here through Amazon, head to your local bookstore like Barnes and Noble or comic shop and purchase it, or buy it from that creepy guy with the gym bag that always offers you watches and "new movies." Wait, on second thought - scratch that, don't buy it from that last guy, it'll probably have the Declassified cover but be a bunch of takeout menus inside or something.

Wet Hot American Summer's Netflix Series - Best Sequel Since Gremlins 2

Before you jump to the comments to immediately express outrage like, "You're insane! Is that a cynical insult? Are you serious? What about Godfather Part II? Empire Strikes Back? Terminator 2: Judgment Day?" calm down. Hold on. Let me explain that headline, which could absolutely read as the clickbait I so loathe.

The cult-film Wet Hot American Summer was not only the first starring vehicle for some of the most successful present day actors and comedians, it was also a commentary on the tropes of camp films. The whole sequence where Michael Showalter's Coop rallies Camp Firewood for their big softball game against their rival across the lake only for it to end with everyone agreeing that it's a trite concept that's been played out in too many other films was indicative of the tone and approach the film took. It's only fitting that its eight-episode "sequel" currently on Netflix, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, took that tone and cranked it to 11.

It occurred to me this morning on my (always) lengthy drive into work that the latest installment of Wet Hot American Summer isn't just another mirror on the camp film, it's also a mirror on the prequel as a whole. 

Looking back at the series, without delving too much into spoilers, the new mini-series not only explores origin stories, it explores EVERY origin story. Even things that you didn't think had or needed an origin story like the "Higher and Higher" song used in the original film. The radio broadcast? Here's the origin story for it. Beth becoming the camp director? Here's the origin story for that. Christopher Meloni's Gene having a torrid love-affair with a fridge? Yup, here's the origins of that. By the eighth episode of the series, you realize that it's not a storytelling device, it's a comedic device that's poking fun at a prequel's need to detail the origin stories of anything and everything, leaving nothing to mystery. Much like the Star Wars prequels where we get the origins for anything and everything like C-3PO (wait, Anakin Skywalker built him from scratch? Huh?), Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp follows the same pattern by giving us backstory to many things that we didn't even think needed a backstory.

And that's where the comment about Gremlins 2: The New Batch comes into play. 

The oft-maligned sequel to Joe Dante's dark-humor Christmas film usually gets a bad wrap. So many of the critiques of the film is that it "just rehashes everything from the first movie" and is way too "silly." Those criticisms aren't without merit, both of those statements are true but the film is purposefully a commentary on sequels, especially those in the late-1980s. The movie takes the exact same premise, rehashes it on a larger scale in a different environment (Gremlins: In Space!) and pokes fun at the tropes that sequels often fall into that everything has to be bigger, better, heightened, and the same beats from the first film have to be hit no matter the cost or the placement in the second film. Phoebe Cates reiterates her hatred of certain holiday because of a bad memory associated with it. Gizmo sees a television broadcast of a larger than life hero and chooses to imitate it to save the day at the end of the film. All the while, this very pointed commentary on what sequels have to be and achieve continues on a runaway train.

Taking that same logic, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp is to prequels as Gremlins 2: The New Batch was the sequels. A very biting satire on the formula that I think I'll only appreciate more and more with follow-up viewings.

Posted on August 6, 2015 and filed under TV.

SPT2015: Catching Up on Marvel Awesomeness

I vividly remember right after the release of Batman Returns that I sat down with a small notebook and somehow figured out that if Batman was released in 1989, and Batman Returns was released in 1992, that it would roughly take them another three years to release another Batman film. I don't know where that logic came from, but 11-year-old me was convinced that it would be true and I started a countdown to 1995. Sure enough, 1995 rolled around and so did Batman Forever (for better or worse). The countdown was a little on the excruciating side, especially at that age when time seems to crawl at such a snail's pace and three years seemed like an eternity.

I can't imagine being my present-day 33-year-old self and going back in time to tell my younger self that there would come a time in 2015 that I'd watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on television, which immediately led into the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, then I'd be in Montreal and Vancouver (to work on two Marvel projects) and be watching Daredevil on Netflix, and a month later would be watching Ant-Man in theaters. There's more on this in the upcoming Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season Two Declassified (/end plug) but I can't think of any other time where there has been new content for a property consistently for six-plus months like there has for Marvel this year. And it seems like this is just the beginning as Star Wars will be following a similar model - and you can bet other intellectual properties will be hot on their heels.

The storytelling possibilities have been fantastic. One lengthy and connected story told over multiple years, through multiple mediums, with multiple focuses. How great is that? It's the comic book page having come to life and sent to the mainstream. I've been enjoying it completely. And yes, I do have a personal bias and was a little spoiled in seeing both Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man at their respective premieres... one of the amazing perks of being the Kimmy Gibbler to the Marvel family. But I'm enjoying every minute of it. Even though Ant-Man is another origin story, it falls in the midst of an on-going story that it's able to weave in and out of seamlessly. Age of Ultron was similar, it didn't need to carry the burden of introducing all the main characters (though it did have to carry the burden of introducing a variety of other characters, which made it a super-dense flourless chocolate cake). 

Ant-Man was a completely different film. If Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a politically-charged action thriller, then Ant-Man is a comedy-charged heist film. Shades of Oceans Eleven, The Italian Job, even a little bit of Mission: Impossible are all in there. It's great how all of the live-action Marvel properties have a very different feel and tone and probably a good reason why they've all been so successful.

One thing is for certain, between a Marvel-fueled first half of the year and a Star Wars-fueled second half, both 11-year-old and 33-year-old Troy are loving every minute of it. And I don't even have to wait three years in between it all. 

Actually The Truth Has Been Out There (A While Now)

"Mulder! Your tauntaun will freeze before you reach the first marker!"

Next thing you know, time is missing from your watch... trust no one.

Mulder and Scully are back as the first frame posted to the official X-Files Twitter account has shown the world. It seems like, for the first time in a long time, everyone is buzzing about the return of X-Files, which just began shooting a ten episode run in Vancouver this week. While ordinarily, this would incite a binge view of the entire X-Files series to prepare for the new episodes, it's actually elicited an involuntary twitch in my eyelid. 

A long time ago, in a day job not so far away, we were working on the then forthcoming Blu-ray release of The X-Files: I Want to Believe (the second feature film released in 2008). 2008 of course was a time when Blu-ray was still building momentum and it seemed like all the studios wanted to do the "new and interactive thing that's never been done before!" It seemed like every project was some overly complicated interactive doohickey. Our mandate from the studio was to work with Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz, as well as finishing the amazing work done by several authors who had published official episode guides for the first seven seasons, to create the ultimate episode guide and timeline that would prove to be a constant and invaluable resource to X-Philes. Dubbed "X-Files: The Complete Timeline", we would create the ultimate canon timeline for fans that also would allow you to easily track and layout running themes like the black oil, cloning, alien encounters, Mulder's sister, and more in the days before "hashtag" had become a common part of the vernacular.

But then if you sit down and think about the sheer scope, it's nine seasons, 202 episodes at 45 minutes each, and writing the synopsis and analysis while scrutinizing every frame to find dates and clues as to what day and time the current events were taking place while also tracking all the running elements took about three hours per episode. Math, math, math... that's roughly 25 days (straight, no breaks, no sleeping) just to get through all the material. We had roughly three weeks. As a point of reference, note fan Dan Goldwasser's website where he said the timeline inspired him to go back and watch the show from the beginning, but didn't think he could do it in a year.

Intrepid X-Philes Jessie Drake, Matt Popham and myself split up the seasons and set to work. There was a string of about eight days where I sat on my couch for all eight days straight, watching, writing, lying down to sleep for an hour here and an hour there (and having some of the most frightening stress-fueled dreams thanks to the subject matter). It was a long-haul where I essentially lived in the world of Mulder and Scully full-time, as did those working on the project with us. It was the ultimate binge watch... once again, before the phrase "binge watch" was even a part of the common language.

Serialized television plays so much better when you watch it back to back. It plays even better when you watch several seasons straight through without subjecting your brain to things like the outside world or common conversation. You're fully immersed in the world and you start to notice each and every tiny detail. So much so that we all circled around several issues with Scully's pregnancy which we were able to finally get a final read from the showrunners on addressing within the context of our text, giving fans definitive answers to some of their questions. Once everything was written, it went through several rounds of notes and checks with the showrunners and super-fans to make sure everything was accurate.

The huge amount of writing finally finished, the project then went into the design process and trying to make all of this work within the then-clunky Blu-ray technology. There was a lot of puzzle-solving and authoring conversations that Jessie and Adam Vadnais had in just trying to make the whole thing work, making sure that photos and clips from the episodes actually played and several other tricky elements that are fairly simple to do on your phone seven years later. Look at the recently released SNL app with 40 years of material, photos and video all on there in the palm of your hand. It's amazing to see the exponential progress of technology just in that short period of time.

When all was said and done, as a long-time fan of the series, who was first in the seats when Fight the Future was released when it was totally uncool to do so... I wanted to burn my X-Files boxset in a ceremonial funeral pyre.

I was fried. I hadn't slept in a little over a month, I had gained about 25-30 pounds of what I quickly dubbed my X-Files weight, and probably in the process had taken a couple years off my life.

Worse, when X-Files: I Want to Believe, which our interactive feature was attached to be a special feature on the Blu-ray for, was released, it was met with a decidedly mixed reaction from hardcore fans and casual fans alike. What we thought would be an incredible resource included was released, only a handful of people noticed. Clicking a "tag" (#hashtagweallgetitnow) was a little confusing to some, completely lost on others. A few of the dedicated DVD/Blu-ray review websites picked up on the feature and called it out as something worth note, which was a very welcome feather in our cap. But a big part of me sits here with a Mulder-like wonder if there's anyone out there that uses the feature as a reference, or if it's far too cumbersome to beat a quick Google or Wikipedia search for whatever answers they seek?

All of this a very circuitous way of getting back to the topic at hand, do I think I could sit and watch the show from start to finish as a primer for the upcoming new six-episodes? My complete X-Files television run boxset has a Post-It still strapped to it this day that reads "Do Not Open Until Doomsday" both as a statement of truth and a reference to a famous Real Ghostbusters cartoon episode. It's been seven years after all. And I think the answer is yes, the show is absolutely fantastic. Yes, even those last couple seasons. And the disadvantage to having plowed through it all so quickly on my last viewing is that it didn't have the time to process and sink in, much in a way that happened when my wife and I went back and re-watched all seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation over the span of a couple years. I think it would be great to go back and revisit the show now that some time has passed, and even reference back to the timeline to see how I had interpreted it back then.

Just don't be surprised if that eye starts to twitch.

Posted on June 11, 2015 and filed under TV, Gadgets.

Spring Cleaning

"T'was a run-by auction!"


Since last posting of "Deadlines and Distractions" in May, it's been a whirlwind of a few months. Between a couple writing deadlines, some pretty intensive production projects, and a bit of a day-job shuffle, I find myself finally coming up for air. And it's interesting that in the process of feeling buried the last couple months, now that my eyes are a little more open (and I'm actually at home for an extended period of time), I'm noticing that I was also a little buried literally as well. Extra clothes, extra furniture, running out of space in the little amount that's affordable in Los Angeles.

Because of that, I've started a little spring cleaning. And a big part of that has been coming to grips with selling off several of those collectable items that I was holding onto that there just isn't the square footage to continue to house. Some of those that I've found have some monetary value are hitting eBay, some of those that I'm finding don't have much more value other than the memories that they've given me are going to Goodwill (which also means some lucky kid is going to hit a South Bay Goodwill and find a whole bunch of cool nerdy stuff for pennies on the dollar, hit your store now!).

At first it was a little difficult to part with some of the items. But after the initial sting of ripping off the bandage subsided, it actually felt pretty good. I mean, I love Kevin Smith's films. I love Mallrats. I frequently still find myself saying, "Tell 'em, Steve-Dave" even though not that many people get it anymore. But do I really need action figures of Steve-Dave and Fanboy signed by Walt Flanagan and Bryan Johnson? Probably not. There's probably someone else out there that would totally enjoy them more than I would, as I'm just letting them sit on a shelf in the closet indefinitely. Point in case of the process: I had a pretty killer rare Batman item and, while I'm a huge fan of the Bat, there really was no reason for me to have this item out and on display. I threw it onto eBay and it sold to a huge Batman fan who has an entire home theater filled with Batman goods. The perfect home for it.

Now that I'm a little into the process of the Great Giveaway of '15, I'm actually enjoying the process. Finding that I'm not missing any of the items that I've parted with and really wasn't sure what some of the attachment I had to them was in the first place. It feels like, especially in nerd culture, we're so consumed with stuff: posters, toys, this knick-knack and that. People bite and claw at the San Diego Comic-Con for free stuff. Doesn't matter what it is, it's just stuff and us geeks want it. And it adds up so quickly. Especially when you're in a small apartment. Plus it's buying me a little bit of breathing room in the combined office/guest room/nerd cave area which makes sitting and reading and getting writing projects finished a lot more comfortable. Not to mention that the sales from the auctions might finally inspire me to buy a decent chair and desk, which I'm sure my aspiring Quasimodo hunch will appreciate.

Posted on June 10, 2015 and filed under Collectables.

Deadlines and Distractions

I'm going to focus, wait... plastic bag, plastic bag, plastic bag...

I'm going to focus, wait... plastic bag, plastic bag, plastic bag...

You might notice it's been a little quiet on the SPT front, despite the fact that there's so much that I am dying to write about: Star Wars Celebration, Daredevil, Avengers: Age of Ultron, I've been right in the thick of so many cool pop culture things that should be getting some ink on Still Playing with Toys but alas have not. 

Interestingly enough, Joss Whedon quit Twitter this week and despite reports to the contrary, he insists that it's because he's about to dive back into writing his own material and is trying to avoid the distraction of the 140 character-based world. I can relate. I mean, not to attempt to compare myself to Joss Whedon (c'mon, that's ridiculous, that's like drawing a stick figure on college-ruled paper and saying, "Look, I'm Alex Ross!") but I've been on several deadlines over the course of April and sadly there hasn't been room for much more than those. I haven't browsed the social networks all that much lately, and sadly have neglected ol' Bessie here.

The good news is that I'm coming up for air in May and will have much more time to write so get ready to be bombarded with more SPT news and updates than you can shake a stick at. Starting with a detailed etymology of where the phrase "shake a stick at" came from. Because I certainly haven't shaken any sticks at things. But Joss Whedon probably has, that guy has done everything.

Posted on May 6, 2015 and filed under SPT News.

#SPT2015 Coverage

This spring marks the start of what I'm imagining is going to be one of the best movie and pop culture years of my entire lifetime. Reminiscent of years like 1989 where us geeks were treated to a new Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, and Batman film there's an embarrassment of riches coming our way this year (and into 2020). On television, in comics, and especially on the big screens in theaters, there's so much this year that's on the horizon I'm excited about that I almost want to find a way to bottle it up and capture the memory of it.

Enter SPT's designated #SPT2015...

In that same summer of 1989, I vividly remember going to see Ghostbusters II at the Parker Cinema IV with my mom and one of my best friends. I'd like to remember so many of the experiences to come this year as well. So all throughout 2015, I'll be writing some first person perspectives on going to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Binge-watching the new Daredevil Netflix series, and a whole lot more in an effort to put together my own little time capsule of this mammoth pop culture filled year. It'll all carry the hashtag #SPT2015 to be easily searchable here on the website or through the social medias for anyone that feels like they want to follow along.

Here are the events I'm most looking forward to covering under this new hashtag/banner on the site, hopefully you'll want to follow along and chime in?


Daredevil Netflix Series (April 10)
Star Wars Celebration (April 16 - 19)


Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1)
Mad Max: Fury Road (May 15)
Tomorrowland (May 22)


Jurassic World (June 12)


Terminator: Genisys (July 1)
Ant-Man (July 17)
Mission Impossible 5 (July 31)


Fantastic Four (August 7)


(Apparently a respite during my month of birth)


Vacation (October 9)


The Peanuts Movie (November 6)
Spectre (November 6)
Creed (November 25)


Star Wars: The Force Awakens (December 18)

The New Ghostbusters Films: Just the Facts

All this editorializing is what keeps our hair up, right Joe?

"All-female" and "Guy-centric" Ghostbusters. Chances are if you've thrown a rock at the internet lately, you've seen either of those terms in every headline you've come across. But both of those distinctions were given to the upcoming Ghostbusters sequel/reboot/remake/restarts by editorialized comments beginning at their points of origin.

So let's do something, shall we? Let's take a cue from another of Dan Akyroyd's characters that I adore and stick to just the facts... No anonymous sources, no "speculation," no snarky comments. 

Here are the direct quotes from those involved without any editorializing:

October 8, 2014 c/o Paul Feig Twitter - Feig announces he is making a new film. Note, he says "will star hilarious women."

October 8, 2014 - c/o Entertainment Weekly - Feig elaborates on his Tweet directly to EW, in his own words.

"I had been contacted by Sony and Ivan a number of months ago when I was in Budapest shooting my new movie Spy. But I was like, I don’t know if I want to take that on because the first two are such classics and just because of how do you do it? Who do you bring in now that Harold’s gone? I know that Bill didn’t want to do it and I love Dan, but it was just like I don’t know how to do it.  Then I had lunch with [Sony Pictures co-chairman] Amy Pascal when I got back to town. She was just saying, gosh, nobody wants to do this. I said, yeah, it’s really hard to take that on, especially since it’s 25 years later. how do you come back into a world that’s had these ghosts and all this? It just felt too difficult. How do you do it and not screw it up? But then it was bugging me for the next few days because Ghostbusters is such a great thing and everybody knows it, and it’s such a great world. It’s a shame to just let this thing sit there. I want to see another one. My favorite thing to do is work with funny women. I was like, what if it was an all female cast? If they were all women?  Suddenly, my mind kind of exploded: that would be really fun. And then I thought, well, what if we just make it new? It’s not coming into the world that existed before. It’s always hard if the world has gone through this big ghost attack, how do you do it again? I wanted to come into our world where there’s talk of ghosts but they’re not really credible, and so what would happen in our world if this happened today?"
"We want to have fun with giving nods to what came before, but we don’t want to be bound by it because Katie and I already have talked at length and we have really fun ideas for things. But we want to tell the stories that we would like to tell, which means we want to tell the character arcs that we want to tell, which means we want to start with some of our characters in a different place or with different personalities and things they have to overcome and learn through the experience of this first movie. My number one thing is always about character and what is somebody learning from or transforming through whatever happens to them in the movie. So I think there will be definitely room to play with that. We want to do clever nods to it, but not cloying nods to it. We want to have the ability to really bring it into modern day."
"We have a very rough, rough outline that we’re working with, but definitely know the basic story, know what we want the basic characters to do, know what we want the world to do and what the rules of our world are, but nothing I want to discuss obviously. It’s cool. I think it’s a really strong origin story that feels real—as real as a ghost story is. It’s going to be really fun and real. We’ll make it scary and funny."
"Everything is up for grabs right now. I look at this the same way a superhero movie launches where it’s always fun to see, like, what are they going to do with the costumes this time? What are they going to do with the hardware this time? It’s not going to be, here is the exact same stuff. It’s also not going to go, screw you, if you like that stuff, it’s all completely different. We’re going to have fun with it, but again, bring it into our time period. I’m a big hardware nerd when it comes to sci-fi and all of that so I love all the gear and I love all that. We’re really going to have fun with playing with the science of it. I think fans will be very happy with what we do because it has fun with what came before but it’s new. It’s just a new, fun take on it."
"I just don’t understand why it’s ever an issue anymore. I’ve promoted both Bridesmaids and The Heat and myself and my cast are still hit constantly with the question, “will this answer the question of whether women can be funny?” I really cannot believe we’re still having this conversation. Some people accused it of kind of being a gimmick and it’s like, it would be a gimmick if I wasn’t somebody whose brain doesn’t automatically go to like, I want to just do more stuff with women. I just find funny women so great. For me it’s just more of a no-brainer. I just go, what would make me excited to do it? I go: four female Ghostbusters to me is really fun. I want to see that dynamic. I want to see that energy and that type of comedy and them going up against these ghosts and going up against human detractors and rivals and that kind of thing. When people accuse it of being a gimmick I go, why is a movie starring women considered a gimmick and a movie starring men is just a normal movie?"
"At the end of the day, all we want to make is a great movie and people are going to attach a lot of energy to either being nervous about this or being excited about it, and all Katie and I and the rest of the team, who we slowly assemble, can do is just make a great movie that’s super funny, that’s scary, that’s real, that has great characters that people identify with and want to see in these situations. It’s a world that they’ve experienced before in the old ones, but the hope is the minute they sit down they’ll go, “I love the old one, oh my god, I’m loving this new one.” Everything’s got to live on it’s own merits. It would be terrible if we just go, oh we’re just doing an update where we use the same dynamic and scripts. If we just flop four women into the exact same personalities and roles as original, then that’s lazy filmmaking on my behalf, and who wants to see that? I don’t want to do a shot by shot update of a movie that existed. It’s the difficult thing about remaking a great movie. So that’s why we’re not remaking a great movie. We’re doing our take on it."

January 15, 2015 - c/o Empire Magazine - Paul Feig talks directly to Empire. In his own words:

"It came out publically that we’re in talks with Melissa but there’s a lot to work out."
"There’s a lot of haters and I get it. The problem with the internet is that if 500 really angry men start bombarding me, I think, ‘Oh god, everybody hates this movie,’ but then you realise that it’s only 500 people. I don’t block anyone out or not read that stuff because I want to know what the most hardcore hater fan’s problem is."
"A lot of people ask why I didn’t create my own thing but Ghostbusters never ran out of steam, it’s such a great idea. It’s such a fun franchise so why not bring it to a new generation? The old movie is never going to not exist. It’s not my plan to erase every copy! Hopefully they can all live together."
"We’ve been working on laptops and passing flash drives back and forth. It’s very old school. We’re using paper, god forbid."

January 27, 2015 - c/o Paul Feig Twitter - Note, this is not an official announcement. It is not confirmation. It is a photo presented by Feig without anecdote. 

January 27, 2015 - c/o Sony-run Sony Pictures Twitter. - Release date announced.


January 28, 2015 - c/o Dan Aykroyd direct statement to The Hollywood Reporter - Aykroyd's official press response toward any of the above. No specifics given.

"The Aykroyd family is delighted by this inheritance of the ‘Ghostbusters’ torch by these most magnificent women in comedy. My great grandfather, Dr. Sam Aykroyd, the original Ghostbuster, was a man who empowered women in his day, and this is a beautiful development in the legacy of our family business."

January 29, 2015 - c/o Ernie Hudson Twitter/Hollywood Reporter

"Four fiercely funny, foxy, females busting ghosts ... phenomenal!"

Hudson also retweeted a PR post referring to third-party rumors:

February 11, 2015 - c/o Paul Feig Twitter - Feig contacted me directly through my Ghostbusters HQ Twitter to clarify (and I'm comfortable posting this publicly now as it's been confirmed/printed in the Boston Globe).

February 17, 2015 - c/o Howard Stern Show - Dan Aykroyd appears as guest. In his own words transcribed from radio interview.

"I'm very, very happy. I've got three daughters. I'm all for female empowerment. The thing needed to be stripped down. (Stumbles) As I've said take the Ecto car. Well the Ecto car now has a chassis and wheels, it needs new engine, it needs a new body. I wrote a version of it which we may end up shooting one time. It'll be different than the all-female. But I did write a Ghostbusters 3 and it exists as a script."
"Paul Feig's script is funny."

February 24, 2015 - c/o Variety - Tom Rothman is hired as new Sony Chairman of Motion Pictures, replacing Amy Pascal. He does not specifically talk Ghostbusters but comments on franchises being his priority. In Rothman's own words:

"Every studio needs franchises. That was the case when we took over at Fox and that took time to build it up and it will take time here. It’s very important but it’s equally important to have a diverse slate of films that perform profitably."

March 9, 2015 - c/o Deadline - New production company formed called Ghost Corps. Note, direct quotes from article only. Also note, original article was mysteriously revised and corrected without any explanation late in the day March 9, 2015. Note, casting and/or movie release plan not discussed. Ghost Corps' mission statement, in Ivan Reitman's own words:

"We want to expand the Ghostbusters universe in ways that will include different films, TV shows, merchandise, all things that are part of modern filmed entertainment. This is a branded entertainment, a scary supernatural premise mixed with comedy. Paul Feig’s film will be the first version of that, shooting in June to come out in July 2016. He’s got four of the funniest women in the world, and there will be other surprises to come. The second film has a wonderful idea that builds on that. Drew will start writing and the hope is to be ready for the Russo Brothers’ next window next summer to shoot, with the movie coming out the following year. It’s just the beginning of what I hope will be a lot of wonderful movies. My primary focus will be to build the Ghostbusters into the universe it always promised it might become. The original film is beloved, as is the cast, and we hope to create films we will continue to love."
"Sometimes things happen at the speed they are supposed to happen. The deals were so strong on that second movie that the franchise became frozen in place 25 years. Nothing got done, we all had the power to block whatever we didn’t like, but we finally got together and found a way.”

March 10, 2015 - c/o writer Drew Pearce's Twitter. Direct comments and responses from Pearce in his own words:

March 13, 2015 - c/o Variety - Paul Feig discusses the various films directly with Variety. In his words:

“The Internet is really funny – I love it, but I hate it at the same time. The first wave when you make an announcement like that is overwhelmingly positive. Everyone’s so happy and you’re like, This is great. Then comes the second wave and you’re like, Oh my God. Some of the most vile, misogynistic sh** I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“The biggest thing I’ve heard for the last four months is, ‘Thanks for ruining my childhood.’ It’s going to be on my tombstone when I die. It’s so dramatic. Honestly, the only way I could ruin your childhood is if I got into a time machine and went back and made you an orphan.”
ON GHOST CORPS ANNOUNCEMENT: “I’d heard some rumblings about it. All I know is my ladies are going to kick ass and I would not want to go into battle without them.”

Will continue to update with direct quotes and statements as they're made...

Update 1: 3/11/15 3:27pm - Corrected Tom Rothman title and Amy Pascal spelling. / Added Howard Stern quotes from Dan Aykroyd. / 6:40pm - Added Ernie Hudson response from 1/29/15

Update 2: 3/14/14 1:00pm - Added Paul Feig quotes to Variety at SXSW

Raisin Balls and Eye-Contact: Why You Should Watch Last Man on Earth

Let's be honest, bathing in margarita probably still smells better than any brand-name body spray.

I've been on a pretty pressing deadline for a project the past couple months, so I have to be incredibly selective with how I'm spending free-time (and also the reason that posts here on SPT have been sparse as of late). But high on my list of acceptable break-time spending since it was announced, was the Phil Miller/Chris Lord produced and Will Forte created Last Man on Earth which debuted last week on Fox.

The second episode of the season aired last night and I can safely say that it's not just my favorite comedy show in a long time, but one of my favorite shows in a long while. It's one of those shows where you're better off not knowing anything about it going in. It's completely unpredictable and far from formulaic. In fact, I'm torn in writing this plea to people to watch the show because I don't want to give away too many of the best gags and surprises that have been the highlight of the first few episodes.

Phil Miller sees the love of his life in a store-front window in Last Man on Earth.

What I will say is this: while so many episodic shows either rely on tried and true formulas, are procedurals, or complex tapestries that weave a greater mythology, Last Man on Earth is something completely different. We don't know what happened to everyone on Earth (other than a virus decimated the entire population), and it really doesn't matter. There isn't an overarching mystery that requires explanation or exploration. All you need to know is that if you were the last person on the planet, as Will Forte is, you would probably react in a similar manner. The world is your oyster, so to speak and without social anxieties (or appropriate social behavior) getting in your way, how would you spend the rest of your days? There's a particular moment in the second episode that really tickled me. As Forte's character awakens from a nightmare, he goes to the window and sees the desolate population-free landscape outside and relieved with what he sees says, "Everyone's still dead... oh, thank god." That moment seems to encapsulate the entire spirit of the show.

Much in the way that a video game like Portal or Portal 2 entertains you for its sharp sense of humor and unpredictability, Last Man on Earth has quickly become appointment television for me, and is one of those rare shows that I can't bring myself to delete off my DVR knowing that I'll want to revisit it again and again. Quite honestly, I have no idea what direction the series is headed toward, and it's amazing. 

Posted on March 9, 2015 and filed under TV.

Is Soft-Breathy Cover Song the New Dubstep?

"Guys, I'm feeling a little vulnerable. Sing me a song? But do it really slow and sad, k?"

"Guys, I'm feeling a little vulnerable. Sing me a song? But do it really slow and sad, k?"

With the new trailer for Guillermo Del Toro's Crimson Peak hitting the airwaves today, I think it's safe to say that there's a new running trend with trailers coming out of Hollywood. Gone are the days of the "Inception Tone." No longer will we wait for "the drop" and the dubstep to kick in for the closing montage...

Alas, the new era of trailer edit trends is here and it is "Soft Breathy Vocalist Cover Song."

Avengers: Age of Ultron seems to have started the trend, with its deeply melancholy rendition of "I've Got No Strings" that was used to great effect raising the stakes and the emotion for our band of heroes. But now it seems to have set the precedent for trailers to follow...

Crimson Peak is using a slow-soft melancholy version of Nick Cave's "Red Right Hand," San Andreas is using a slow-soft melancholy version of "California Dreaming," the Netflix series Bloodline is using a slow-soft breathy version of "Nothing Else Matters" and earlier this week the Hitman: Agent 47 trailer hit with a somewhat slowed down cover of "Voodoo Child."

Admittedly, it's nice that we've started to get away from the flash of imagery set to the deep LFE hit "BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMM" tones, but it's interesting to see how this has quickly become a repeated editorial device of late. Have there been other trailers recently that have used the same device that I've missed?

Can I also make a few suggestions for forthcoming trailers? How about this version of Dio's "Holy Diver" for the next Terminator trailer? Or what about a soft-breathy version of "Eye of the Tiger" for the upcoming Rocky spin-off film Creed? Or maybe this rendition of "Crazy in Love" for a Charlie's Angels reboot film?

UPDATE: Friend Adam Vadnais pointed out to me that a soft-ballad version of "Crazy in Love" was used in the 50 Shades of Grey trailer. So I guess I wasn't that far off?

Posted on February 13, 2015 and filed under Movies.