We can all agree that the comment section on YouTube is an abysmal display of humanity at its worst. So why not take two British actors and have them recite a vicious feud between a Belieber and a One Direction fan so that we can all end our week on a giant hysterical note?
Imagine if the iconic carved heads of the presidents in Mount Rushmore were to start talking – to us and each other – with the mindsets and opinions of their era. This is the premise of The Edge of Allegiance, a smart, hilarious new comedy series on Funny or Die from L.A. based writer/producer Eric Rudnick.
"I watch politics a lot because I think it’s more amazing, frustrating and unbelievable than anything you can write," says Rudnick. "The scope of it is Shakespearean: strange bedfellows all over the place, alliances are formed then broken. Anthony Weiner announces he’s running for Mayor of New York City – no problem. Marion Berry was caught smoking crack-cocaine, but got re-elected in D.C. So we deserve the leadership we get I guess."
Each episode of Edge of Allegiance finds our Rushmore presidents tackling a different hot topic pundit-show style.
"These presidents are clueless about life in the 21st Century. We take them as a group into modern day Los Angeles to experience it firsthand. In Washington’s day, education was a one room schoolhouse and here’s your book – if you were lucky. My Edge of Allegiance on-camera wife is black so you can imagine the confusion that causes."
Rudnick’s background in the trenches of reality TV helped him with understanding video production so he applied these skills to produce this series – which began as a one minute theatre piece in 1995.
"I was doing theatre in New York in the mid-90s and becoming the faces of Mount Rushmore arguing with each other was one of our one minute comedy ideas, and it got a huge response. Cut to 2003, and I wrote a play called The Edge of Allegiance that was done here in L.A. where Mount Rushmore broke off the mountain to try to save George W. Bush’s presidency. Cut to now, and I’m thinking what can I do with the resources that I have so I decided to shoot it with a green screen and produce it. There’s so many funny directions we can take this. It’s so easy to get your voice out there now."
Without further delay, allow us to present you with our first-ever HIH podcast!
Contributor/critic Garytt Poirier and executive editor/pop culture junkie Hiko Mitsuzuka critique, discuss, and speculate on Star Trek Into Darkness, the upcoming summer movie season, casualties from the past TV season, and every piece of pop cultural goodness in between.
Forgive us if we sound a little newbie-ish; we're still adjusting, and we have a lot to say.
Sit back and enjoy...or download it for your listening pleasure during your next commute. And thanks for listening.
Young cops from the 80s. Who time-travel to 2012. And go undercover at a high school.
If that sounds a little 21 Jump Streetish to you, then Gregory Bonsignore understands how pop culture savvy web audiences can be. He also knows how much they love a good satirical skewering of 80s culture. We chatted with Bonsignore, one of the stars (and director/creator) of Squad 85, the hysterically ambitious time-traveling comedy that's debuting across the interwebs this week (executive produced by Fast & Furious helmer Justin Lin).
WARNING: The following interview contains vomit, high heels, and mud racing.
HIH: So, you're obviously a fan of 80s pop culture...How did Squad 85 come about?
GB: Less pop-culture fan, more I watched television in the 80's like the propaganda videos they'd show those children's jihad summer camps -- I memorized the rhythms, the tropes, and would get in such shit for talking to my friends and family with the same acerbity that everyone spoke to each other with in sitcoms. I was watching old episodes of 21 Jump Street, as you do, and it had that feeling that if you just presented this verbatim -- the bombast, the zingers, the bad guys, the white high school kids, the bedazzling -- under the heading of comedy, it would KILL -- much like the movie Twister. But I didn't want to make some flat parody museum piece of an 80s show. I was more interested in putting the 80s cop aesthetic up against the current pale of boring procedural CSI shit -- putting their overeager, kick-the-door-down style up against the almost too-authentic drudgery of white-glove-lab cop shows. So you either send people from the present TO the 80s (and it becomes more about the era), OR you have a special division to save the city from the mediocrity of procedural TV cops, who have no interest in acclimating to or learning the contemporary ways to the contrary. They come in with blustery confidence that their ways are best -- not a fish out of water as much as a fish that brings its own Tupperware bowl.
HIH: If you were to travel back to the Reagan Era, what year would you pick, and what would you do?
GB: Gray's...Sports...Almanac. No, I might go to '83 and watch tapings of Golden Girls and Cosby, flying Pan Am between the two. Or play Short Round. I know I should probably explain the Internet to someone, or bring some anti-retroviral drugs, or broadcast videos of wars for the next 30 years and scream "See, it's NEVER going to stop, so quit now or you're mortgaging your grandchildren's lives!!!"...But I might just have sex with a young Bob Hoskins...This is precisely why I would not be on the list to send back.
HIH: Who or what inspires you as a writer?
GB: I like conversation, I'm a good Sicilian boy who loves nothing more than a big table full of interesting people with great food and wine and talking about big ideas and dramatizing those same questions, things I feel I want to respond to in the world, hypotheses I want to posit, but more importantly things I don't actually have any idea about. I also enjoy the fun of episodic storytelling where you know the characters and see them in hundreds of hours of situations and see them grow or not over years... I like laughing, and I like being wrong...changing my mind about something because of a new idea or point of view -- that's why I watch, so that's more or less probably why I write what I do.
HIH: Tell us a little about your character, Bronx...
GB: Bronx is that inexplicable New Yorker that was in every 80s show, even if it took place in Tennessee -- there was always at least one tough guy from Brooklyn or Puerto Rican girl named "FERNANDEZ" from "the city." Bronx was born in NYC in the late 70's, where his father was a big mob boss, so becoming a cop is his way of trying to make good. He's at once the kind of dumb one and the one who consumed more television and political knowledge and trivia in his past life, that while great cocktail party in '85, is almost useless now as nobody has any idea who Geraldine Ferraro is or what the 227 finale was. He's also fucking GORGEOUS.
(L-R): Travis Van Winkle and Breaking Bad's RJ Mitte
HIH: Being on set, there must have been plenty of funny anecdotes to share...
GB: A lot of it came down to quickly changing costumes that were almost painted on. I'm a big boy, and my 34 jeans were real 80s 34s, not these vanity-sized American Eagle/Liz Claiborne "Oh my God I'm a 28 here!" Travis (Van Winkle) also had these white pants that were crazy tight. And any time either of us did stunts, jumps, running, even lunge-heavy blocking, we would bust the pants. Then for episode 2 where we're undercover as prostitutes, Travis had to be literally sewn into his dress. I wore spanks...seriously.
We shot the show in LA, but needed to shoot in New York for episode 5, and to do so in our insanely tight schedule, we had to get our whole principal cast to LAX an hour after we wrapped on our sixth 12-hour day, take a red eye to NY, shoot a mud race in the Catskills, drive to the city and shoot till 3am...then get back on a plane the next day. It was like an episode of The Amazing Race, and it was only possible because of the incredibly game and inexhaustibly talented cast, the amazing work of producer Andrew Beck, his crew, his amazingly hospitable family, and a 5-gallon bag of Costco Trail Mix.
As I was in the show and directing it, I was often talking to cast or crew, while soaking wet in my underwear, or in high heels and an 80s prostitute wig. You see those photos of Spielberg in those trucker hats with his hands forming a square, and you want something like that for your wall, but I just ended up more often than not looking like some homeless person they had to pay to stop walking onto set. But one day I had just run myself ragged and was clearly sick that morning and just had to jump from an exploding building, so I was soon vomiting in a Ziplock baggie. We moved onto the next scene, I composed myself...and 20 minutes went by before I realized I had been walking around in a daze, holding that clear bag of vomit as I spoke to the actors and crew.
Actor Christopher Larkin (Bobby) on location at Bridges Academy in Studio City.
HIH: 'The More You Know' Alert! What did you learn or take away from your experience working on Squad 85?
GB: It's incredibly hard to walk in heels, let alone run in them while doing stunts, and firing a gun. But moreso, I was overwhelmed by the incredibly generosity of talent and time from people who came together to make this project. People who just liked the show and wanted to be a part of it and worked their asses off to make it as extraordinary as it could be. I mean, I still get really emotional thinking about how grateful I am. The closest thing to it, and probably the most appropriate, was perhaps the barn-raising scene in Witness where all those people come together. And then, where there was just a field there's now a barn. And that is amazing....Our barn just happens to be a ridiculous 80s cop show.
Chris Hardwick, founder of the popular Nerdist blog, podcast, and YouTube channel, host of AMC's Talking Dead, author of The Nerdist Way, and overall King of Nerd Culture, covers the entertainment section of this month's issue of Bello Mag.
HIH's Hiko Mitsuzuka interviewed the geek entrepreneur back in August, and together, they covered everything from Comic Con and Sleepaway Camp to Tina Fey and Fraggle Rock.
On nerd culture becoming mainstream: "It allows me to work in fields that I really care about. But also, if it weren't mainstream, we wouldn't get Joss Whedon directing The Avengers movies."
On his increasingly busy schedule: "I'm really anal about my calendar. It looks like a Tetris game board."
The amazingly ripped gentleman you see here isn't the Ghost of Bodybuilders Past. He's the "Engineer" from this summer's Prometheus, and he helped celebrate the launch of Prometheus on Digital HD at The Beats Store in New York (far away from Hollywood, we know...but we have spies all over).
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment announced yesterday the launch of DIGITAL HD™, a new initiative that allows consumers to download or stream their favorite Fox movies on a variety of connected devices. Customized for today’s digital lifestyles, more than 600 Fox films can now be enjoyed anywhere, anytime in amazing high-definition immediately in the U.S. from Amazon, CinemaNow, Google Play, iTunes, PlayStation, VUDU, Xbox Live and YouTube.
Ridley Scott's epic sci-fi thriller is also available today on DIGITAL HD™ for less than $15, arriving three weeks before Blu-ray, DVD and video-on-demand (VOD).
The future of movies is a lot closer than we think (It'd be funny if Mr. Engineer was really just grooving to Christina Aguilera's new single, no?)
Last night in Beverly Hills, the critically-acclaimed Husbands became the first web series to be honored at the Paley Center for Media, and HIH was thrilled to be a part of the festivities (a reception with free Ben & Jerry's ice cream? Done).
Season 2 of the online sitcom, created by Buffy and Once Upon A Time writer Jane Espenson and series star Brad Bell, tells the story of Cheeks (Bell), a controversial tabloid personality, and Brady (Sean Hemeon), an out professional baseball player, who find themselves married in Vegas after drunkenly celebrating a federal amendment for marriage equality. Fearing that a public divorce would be devastating to the cause, they stay together, and joining them for the raucous ride is best pal Haley (played by Caprica's Allesandra Torresani).
Star Sean Hemeon (Brady) with series co-creator Espenson
Critics from The New Yorker to Entertainment Weekly have hailed the series as being simultaneously groundbreaking and traditional. Blending comedic elements from contemporary classics like Mad About You and Will & Grace, Husbands takes a well-known premise (newlyweds adjusting to married life!) and gives it a same-sex twist. Not to mention the acting and writing is better than some of the gags that pass for comedy nowadays on network television.
And upon previewing the new season, we can tell you this much: expect a ton of special guest stars (Jon Cryer, Joss Whedon, Tricia Helfer, to name a few) and longer episodes (kudos to the amped-up production value).
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