Thursday, April 27, 2017

Not THAT Again! The Trouble with Sequels

by Stacey Fearheiley

This week's podcast was all about sequels--movie sequels-- the good, the bad and never should have been.  Eric and I talked about the ones we liked--and the ones we didn't (we're looking at you, Speed 2).  The conclusion we came to, to a great extent, was that the bottom line was the bottom line, and reason for green lights.  If the original made money, there was a really good shot at there being a follow up.  Sometimes artistry doesn't come into a lot of play (we see you, Transformers!).

I really enjoyed the "Sequel on the Spur" of the moment game Eric and I played.  We were to come up with a sequel plot line for movies that did NOT have sequels.  I gave Eric Jesus Christ Superstar, one of my all time favorite musicals.  The crucifixion not withstanding, Eric suggested that the hippies of the 70s would come back in the 80s to that same desert and create a mega church--full of hypocrisy and greed.

Eric gave me When Harry Met Sally and I took its sequel's plot down a dark path to "When Harry Divorced Sally".  I think the 21st century is hard on 20th century relationships.  But the idea of sequels being where they don't currently exist intrigued me.  What other unlikely movies could do with a sequel?  Here are a few of my choices.

First up:  Titanic....but it was a bit of a sequel in itself, as it showed the life the ingenue led through photographs and newspaper clippings.  So...pass.  Changed my mind.

Gone with the Wind is also a fave of mine and could have used one...but only with the original cast. The tries at sequels for this epic have failed miserably, not only because of storyline issues, but the chemistry between Gable, Leigh, de Haviland, Howard and MacDaniel could not be replicated with others.  So the story of the Scarlett, Rhett and Tara in the late 19th century is best left to our imaginations.

Pride and Prejudice is a fun choice. The original story has been told and re told so many times, it's hard to keep track. While I love the Lawrence Olivier version, the stylized acting (and Greer Garson being a 36 year old debutante) put it at number 2 version on my list because... COLIN FIRTH!!!

Not many take on this hefty classic to sequelize (if not a word, it should be).  It's a challenge and there is the gauntlet of fans one would have to get past.   Although I actually saw the PBS production of "Murder at Pemberly" and it was really entertaining.  By not going down the romantic story path, taking it down a different genre, the writers bypassed some of the pitfalls that trip one up when writing for well-known and beloved characters.  That said, with all the fan fiction out there re: what happened to Lizzie and Darcy, it is a wonder that more movie "sequels" for P&P haven't happened.

Forrest Gump is one that might be fun.  Enough history has passed for either Forrest or his son to have been involved in, and CGI'd into, iconic scenes.  I think there are some topics that the personality of Forrest could tackle in a way that was palatable to many viewers.  But you would need to have Tom Hanks at least involved.  Otherwise you don't have the connection...and NO ONE ELSE can play Forrest.

I will admit that these choices are specific and very much of a style.  I enjoy action movies, but most of the successful DO get a sequel.  I enjoy some costume dramas as well, but often they are tied up at the end, or some one really important dies and thus a sequel would be superfluous.  Fried Green Tomatoes was great..please don't make a sequel.  Color Purple, sequel please.

At the end I do believe that there is a place for sequels, especially those NOT created entirely for monetary purposes.  Sometimes I want to know more of what happened to my favorite characters after the epilogue.  But sometimes, I'm good.  Because sometimes continuing the story would ruin the feeling I had for the initial movie.  And I'd hate that.

So, here's to the sequels we love...and the ones we don't miss!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

About that Disclaimer

by Eric Peterson

If you’ve listened to our fourth episode already, you’ll notice that for the first time, it doesn’t begin with a guitar riff and the resonant baritone of Frank DeSando, our editor, mixer, occasional critic, and constant cheerleader.

Instead, I kicked off this episode, with a disclaimer. Specifically, I said exactly this:
Hi, this is Eric, and you’re listening to POPeration!. We’re beginning this week’s podcast with a disclaimer. This episode is all about what happens when actors, directors, and other artists do unsavory things in their personal lives, and how it affects their audiences. One of the people we discuss at length is Casey Affleck, who recently won the Oscar for Best Actor amid allegations of sexual harassment dating back to 2010.
Stacey and I had this conversation about a week before we were ready to publish it. At that time, I was under the impression that Affleck had essentially admitted to some of the allegations made against him. He has not. To be clear, Casey Affleck hasn’t admitted to anything. The lawsuits against him were settled out of court, and he has not specifically confirmed or denied anything he was accused of. I apologize for misspeaking. Enjoy the show.
My words were not lightly chosen. Nor were they “off the cuff,” as is typical for the conversations Stacey and I usually have on our show. They were written in advance, then rewritten, then edited, then perused by Stacey for her agreement. It was the first time we’d noticed we’d gotten something wrong, and wanted to be very clear and intentional about how we admitted that.

It was important to me that I take full responsibility for my mistake. If Casey Affleck ever listens to our conversation (and I realize that he probably wouldn’t want to and therefore won’t), he deserves to have these allegations discussed factually. More importantly, Stacey and I won’t always be perfect, and we wanted to set a template for taking accountability for our errors in a way that was satisfying from an ethical standpoint. We’re really proud of our show thus far, and wanted to remain so.

Try shaving, Casey. Also, try not being so rapey.
So there are things I said in my little disclaimer and things I didn’t say. I said that I got the facts wrong. I said that it was a mistake (i.e., I didn’t know I was mistaken at the time). I offered an apology. What I didn’t say was this: I still believe that Casey Affleck did just about everything that he was accused of doing.

And it’s a long list. Affleck’s two accusers stated that he consistently bragged about his sexual exploits in a way that made them uncomfortable. According to them, he ordered a crew member to take off his pants and show one of the women his penis. One of the women says she was prevented from returning to her hotel room one night because Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix were there, having sex with women (and, by the by, the fact that Affleck was, at the time, married to Phoenix’s sister adds an additional layer of creepy to this story). At one point, Affleck allegedly suggested sharing a hotel room with one of the women, who refused; at that point, Affleck was alleged to use physical intimidation to force her to comply.

Let’s pause for a moment and recognize that yes, this was a movie set, which many of us probably imagine is one big creative playground for adults, and … for these women, it was their workplace. Think about your boss treating a woman who works for him in this way, and ask yourself if that’s remotely okay.

Of course, there was also the incident mentioned on our show, where one of the women alleged that she woke up in the middle of the night to find Affleck in her bed, fondling her from behind. Again, just for full accountability, Affleck never admitted to doing this.

Nevertheless, I believe that it happened, just like I believe everything else in that suit. I can’t prove it; I can’t responsibly discuss it as fact. I regret doing exactly that during our show -- hence the disclaimer. But I can repeat that I believe it as often as I want, and so I’ll do it again: I believe Affleck’s accusers.

A quick review of the Internet Movie Database reveals that one of Affleck’s accusers, a cinematographer, has continued to find work on a number of projects, with four currently in production. The other woman, a producer, has two credits that follow I’m Still Here and hasn’t worked in the film industry since 2012.

This evidence isn’t conclusive, but it does suggest that filing these lawsuits was a big risk for Affleck’s accusers, and that one of them – either by circumstance or by choice – is no longer working. And while some find it feasible, even likely, that for these women, this was just a big money grab from a rich and famous person, the fact is that you can make a lot more money being a successful producer in Hollywood than you can from suing Casey Affleck for sexual harassment (each woman sued for around $2M, and the case was settled for an undisclosed amount, which could very well be less).

Add to this a 2013 study that suggests that 70% of sexual harassment goes unreported, and it’s clear that there are a lot of people out there (mostly women) who will remain silent about sexual misconduct from bosses and colleagues – probably for a host of reasons, but the fear that they’ll be forever known as the woman who sued her boss (and therefore “can’t take a joke” or “hates men” or “is motivated by greed” or “probably asked for it”) is likely chief among them.

When Variety asked Casey Affleck about the lawsuit, he said this: “People say whatever they want. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how you respond ... I guess people think if you’re well-known, it’s perfectly fine to say anything you want. I don’t know why that is. But it shouldn’t be, because everybody has families and lives.”

It’s an incredibly dismissive comment, one that suggests that these women were just interested in gaining attention, probably motivated by greed and/or jealousy, and that these allegations just fell thoughtlessly out of these women’s mouths, as if the act of recounting these stories wouldn’t be degrading in and of itself. It's almost as if Affleck takes for granted that anyone who would buy a copy of Variety to hear what a movie star has to say about anything would take his word over the idea that the only good reason his accusers would have to sue him would be to see justice done.

Personally,  I find it a lot more believable that Casey Affleck thinks that if you’re not well-known, it’s perfectly fine to do anything you want.

I disagree.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Guilty as Charged

We won't usually blog on Fridays, but then again, we won't usually release multiple episodes either. But we read somewhere that it's good to have at least three episodes available when you start a podcast, and it was on the internet, so it must be true. (From now on, look for new content every Tuesday.)

Eric's first guilty pleasure was a film from the 1990's called Point of No Return. Not a terrible film, really, all things considered. After all, nothing with Anne Bancroft can be all bad, can it?

But what's terrible about this, in Eric's mind, is that he likes it so much better than the French film it was based on, La Femme Nikita (which received a score of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, as opposed to the 48% earned by Point of No Return). Nikita is a superior piece of filmmaking; everyone acknowledges that, even Eric. But gosh darnit, if Point of No Return isn't just a lot more fun to watch. To the typical American viewer, it's a comfy pair of jeans while Nikita is the pair of pants you wear to the office that have been given a little too much starch.

Eric's next guilty pleasure is a secret love of comic books, particularly those published by DC Comics, and particularly those featuring superheroines, and even more particularly, Batgirl. Eric is apparently 14 years old.

Eric is quiet, but inside he's screaming, YAAAS!
He didn't mention this in the episode, but he recently went so far as to buy a hardcover volume commemorating Batgirl's 50th anniversary. It's called Batgirl: A Celebration of 50 Years, and it details many of her most important adventures in the pages of the comics, including her debut, that time she kept getting a run in her tights which naturally distracted her from fighting crime (no, really), and an installment from the amazing Batgirl: Year One, a nine-issue series that details the character's origin story, from the daughter of a cop whom no one will take seriously to amateur vigilante to a trusted colleague of Batman himself.

And while we're on the subject of Batgirl, a quick update. While Eric opined a few weeks back that no one would ever make a Batgirl movie, it seems that someone is -- and that someone is none other than Joss Whedon, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame. Needless to say, Eric is very excited -- like the stunted adolescent that he is.

When it was time for Stacey to share her guilty pleasures, she started with a doozy: a reality show called Temptation Island (click the link to watch the first episode ... if you dare).

The set-up is certainly ... something. Three heterosexual couples go off to an island, and are separated from one another, boys on one side, girls on the other. Once parted, they are greeted by 26 singletons of the opposite sex. You have an island - you have temptation. It's Temptation Island! Hosted by the other Mark Wahlberg.

Stacey figured she hated reality shows because they were filled with horrible people, but she soon discovered that if the people are extra horrible, suddenly the shows are a lot more enjoyable. When relationships were torn asunder and hearts were broken on this particular show, filled with these objectively awful cretins, the gleeful schadenfreude was just overwhelming.

From the tawdry to the timid, Stacey's next pick was 180 degrees away from her first: the British television series (available to American media consumers via the Netflix service) Midsomer Murders, now in its 19th season.

Someone has been mercilessly killed. By a psychotic donut, apparently.

You'd think that a television series that dealt with cold-blooded murder, week in and week out, would have a bit of edge. You'd be wrong. This is a show that's almost appallingly sweet (just like that donut). But when Stacey curls up under a big blanket to watch another installment of her beloved Midsomer Murders, she's not looking for edge. She's looking for a simple tale of good triumphing over evil, with old-fashioned values and plummy British accents. And perhaps a crumpet.

Of course, we'd love to hear what your guilty pleasures are. If you're brave enough to admit them. We won't judge. Oh, who are we kidding, we'll so judge you for this sh*t. But do it anyway. Guilt is stupid.

As always, thanks for listening, subscribing, checking us out on Facebook, Twitter, and all the rest.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Funny Girls

In our second episode, we decided to talk about one of our favorite forms: comedy. What makes people laugh and why is something of a mystery, but what's clear is that it's not an easy thing to do, by any stretch - and it's our belief that gifted comics deserve a lot more respect than they typically get, especially next to the "tragedians."

One of those serious, serious actors is Meryl Streep - dripping with Academy Award nominations, and winner of three Oscars. Nonetheless, when Stacey asked Eric who makes him laugh, Meryl was the first name he came up with. Meryl does a lot of comedy, up to and including her last nominated turn in Florence Foster Jenkins. But it was her performance in 1990's Postcards from the Edge (written by the ever-hilarious Carrie Fisher) that Eric called to mind first. Admittedly, this isn't the funniest scene in the film, but even when bringing up weighty issues like alcoholism and drug addiction, Carrie throws in a line about Lana Turner and Joan Crawford and you can't help but chuckle. And those are the moments you tend to remember.

When Eric asked Stacey the same question, her ready answer was Carol Burnett. The Carol Burnett Show debuted in 1967 and ran for more than a decade. The humor was often very broad -- most of us remember her riff on Scarlett O'Hara wearing a dress made out of curtains ... with the curtain rod still intact. But sometimes the humor was more subdued, almost absurdist in nature, such as this sketch, featuring the entire ensemble of the show, called "The Butler & the Maid." Hilarious, and also not without something important to say about class, entitlement, domestic violence, and funny stuff like that.

Later in the show, Eric named another one of his favorite funny people: Margaret Cho. Her best work, according to Eric, was the very first of her major stand-up tours, called I'm the One That I Want -- she covers a lot of ground in this show, including the role of women in the lives of gay men, her own bisexuality, addiction, and being a different kind of role model for Asian-Americans. But mostly, this show is about her experiences on the set of All-American Girl, the short-lived sitcom she starred in, how she was directed by the show runners to lose weight to play the part of herself, and how she made herself sick trying. None of that should be funny, and yet it is (also NSFW, just sayin').

Honestly, neither Stacey or Eric set out to exclude men from this list; in fact, they talk about any number of men that they find to be really funny during the show (hint: if you're near New York City, go see Kevin Kline in Present Laughter on Broadway this very minute).

And yet, it's interesting that the first names they thought of were women. It's possible that marginalized people tend to be better observers of themselves and everyone else than those who are in charge. Perhaps we expect women to be "nicer" than men, so when they veer into what's shocking, it's even more shocking ... and maybe a bit funnier.

Who are the women who make you laugh? Let us know in the comments here, talk to us on Facebook, send us a tweet, whatever. We'd love to hear from you. And, y'know ... subscribe (we have to say it; it's a rule).

Friday, April 7, 2017

We're popping up all over!

They like us, they like us, they really, really like us. We're practically Sally Field.

We've applied to several different carriers of podcasts, and are happy to announce that we're now searchable on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play.

Just open up any of those carriers, and search for "POPeration," and we should pop right up.

If for some reason you don't see us, please leave a comment here, or send us a tweet, or post something on our Facebook page to let us know, so we can have a stern friendly word with the bastards nice people who work at those places, and get things all sorted out.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Meet the "Pop Surgeons"

We're so excited that episodes are finally starting to appear, and we sincerely hope you're enjoying the show.

There's one episode we recorded that will not be published on our RSS feed, but we went ahead and put in on the YouTube channel and wanted to share it with you here. In this "extended teaser," we're taking the opportunity to introduce ourselves to our listeners, in case you wanted to get to know us a little better.

The official biographies are as follows:

Stacey Fearheiley was born and raised in Nashville, TN.   She grew up watching and critiquing old movies with her dad so much that it became second nature.  She then surrounded herself in high school, college and life with other "like minded" judgementals and has continued analyzing entertainment and pop culture since.  She is an actor, director, writer and former on-air radio personality and still hasn't figured out what she'll be when she grows up.

This is an old photo. It's old. Like us.

Eric Peterson grew up all over the world in a US Navy family, and initially dreamed of a career in the theatre as an actor, director, and writer. However, a job that required him to constantly look for the next job ultimately didn't appeal to him, so after getting his B.A. in Theatre, he started a new career as an educator and consultant in the field of Diversity & Inclusion. But he never stopped loving the stage, or the big screen. Or the small screen, for that matter.

We met when we were cast as twin sister & brother in a play in 1992. We got along so well and so immediately that our cast-mates began to refer to us as the "womb-mates," an homage to the relationship of our characters. Last fall, Stacey informed Eric that she was formulating a New Years' resolution, and that Eric was going to play a big part in it -- and the idea for POPeration! was born.

We get together on random Saturdays and record multiple episodes, and we'll be honest -- we're having a blast. And cracking ourselves up. And learning a lot. And hitting pause whenever Eric's crazy dog decides that she needs to be heard.

Please follow us on Facebook or Twitter, and we'll let you know when we start showing up on Stitcher, iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you search for podcasts.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

We're going live!

Okay, folks -- it's actually happening. Here's the teaser:

The POPeration! podcast is showing up on YouTube, and our RSS feed. We're applying like mad to places like Stitcher, iTunes, and Google Play, so we should be searchable there soon, too.

Our first episode is all about awards shows. We watch them, so we clearly don't hate them completely, and yet we titled our first show, "And the Loser is ... The Audience," which perhaps telegraphs some of our less generous feelings about the medium.

Our next episode is about what strikes us as funny and why comedy gets no respect, and the next is about our guilty pleasures - we bravely admit to the world the things we secretly love so that you can mock us. Because we give.

We'll let you know when it's easy to find us where you search for podcasts. Let us know here, or on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else you can find us, if you look for podcasts somewhere else, and we'll see if we can't wedge our way in there, too.

We continue to record episodes, and are having a marvelous time. We invite you to listen in, give us feedback, and heck - grab a scalpel; this is going to be fun!