Saturday Night Live…and in Color?

This week Saturday Night Live is celebrating the end of its’ 37th season on air (yes, you read that right) by pulling out the usual bags of tricks. That includes rock god Mick Jagger taking on hosting duties, while Arcade Fire and the Foo Fighters provide the marquee music interludes (plus there will be comedy sketches…at least I think they still do those).

But while the cast and crew will mostly be sticking to the traditional SNL formula for success, they are throwing one new variable into the mix for this monumental occasion. That comes in the form of a partnership with the Facebook app Color.

Some of you may remember Color as the app that allowed you to share your photos and short (about 30 seconds) live video clips with a network of your closest friends. More likely though, you remember the story of how the program managed to raise $41 million dollars for its launch, only to fade into obscurity sometimes after that. It’s not that the program didn’t work; it just didn’t manage to catch on in the ever growing app market.

But now, thanks to a new partnership with Verizon, Color is looking to make a big comeback. Not only will Verizon start making the app standard on all new Android phones, but Color has also beefed up its’ own services, particularly in the video area which now has a better broadcast quality, sound with your live feed (for Verizon customers), and the ability to notify your friends immediately for live broadcast.

To celebrate (and most importantly, to promote), Color will be teaming with SNL to have the actors, crew, and guests take backstage footage of the evening, and fill in the breaks and commercials with exclusive footage that will be broadcast to anyone who friends Verizon on Facebook.

Color certainly seems more focused this time around. It’s no wonder either considering the recent $1 billion Instagram acquisition by Facebook, and how Facebook itself is preparing for the richest public offering anyone has ever seen. But if you’re looking for the new Color’s greatest motivation…that may actually be Twitter. It’s a smart move to try to set up a service that could be similar to Twitter, but uses video instead since that would seem to be the logical progression of the medium.

If you’re interested in the footage,you just have to like Verizon on Facebook, and download the Color for Facebook app on your mobile device. While Verizon customers are the only ones that get sound with the feed, anyone can sign up for it.

It’s easy to see that the team behind Color believes in their product, and their dedication to getting their name out there shows that. If the SNL show is a success, it’s easy to imagine the public imagination taking hold of this app and making something unique out of it.

And , maybe Mick will even sing “Start Me Up” for them.

Hey, it worked for Windows.

 

  

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The Light from the TV Shows: A Chat with Chris Elliott (“Eagleheart”)

Chris Elliott has comedy in his genes, courtesy of his father, Bob Elliott (of the legendary comedy team Bob & Ray), and he’s passed his abilities on to the next generation, as his daughter Abby Elliott proves week after week on “Saturday Night Live,” but, geez, enough about his dad and kid already. Surely it’s time to shine the spotlight solely on Chris Elliott himself, who first won our hearts with his decidedly unique characters on “Late Night with David Letterman,” completely blew the minds of a generation of moviegoers with his film “Cabin Boy,” and has since gone on to appear in everything from “Manhunter” to “Everybody Loves Raymond.” On April 12, his current endeavor – Adult Swim’s “Eagleheart” – returns for its second season, just over a week after the DVD release of Season One, which hit stores on Tuesday. Bullz-Eye chatted with him…okay, fine, we geeked out…about the more eccentric side of his comedy, including his seminal TV series “Get A Life,” which, as you may have read elsewhere first (although it came from this interview), is coming to DVD in a complete-series set at long last.

Bullz-Eye: First off, let me just tell you what a pleasure it is to talk to you. I’ve been a fan for many years.

Chris Elliott: Oh, well, thank you. I just don’t hear that enough. [Laughs.]

BE: In my case, it’s no exaggeration: when I was in high school, I sent off for tickets for “Late Night with David Letterman.” Granted, I had graduated by the time I actually got them, but, hey, at least I got them.

CE: Oh, my gosh. That’s pretty funny. So did you actually wait four years for tickets?

BE: No, but it was more than a year: I sent them off during my senior year, and it was well after graduation when they finally arrived.

CE: Wow, that’s pretty amazing. But it proves that you were a hardcore fan. Do you remember who was on the show when you went?

BE: Absolutely: it was Jane Pauley and Bruno Kirby. I also remember that they did Shoe Removal Races that night, with a podiatrist squaring off against a shoe salesman.

CE: Ah, yes, that was an excellent episode. [Laughs.]

BE: You were actually just on Letterman’s show a few nights ago. It sounded like you may have taken a bit of flour into your lungs.

CE: [Laughs.] I started to smell like cookies after I was under the lights for a little while. But I thought it came off all right. It’s always fun to go back there, and I hate coming back on there as myself in any form. This interview is okay because I can’t see you. [Laughs.] But I don’t like coming on and just talking as myself, so I always come on with something.

BE: The “Downton Abbey” thing was great, too.

CE: Yeah, I thought that came out great.

BE: So let’s talk “Eagleheart.” One of the most surprising things about the series, at least to me, is that you don’t actually get a writing credit on the show. Not that you don’t have some input, given that you’re a consulting producer, but…

CE: I’d say these guys have my voice down. I knew that when I met with them. They were huge fans of mine, and, honestly, I didn’t want the extra work. [Laughs.] And at the same time, y’know, they changed the pilot quite a bit to suit me, and what I do – and Adam Resnick does this, also – is sort of take a pass at the scripts when they’re done with them and change a couple of jokes here and there, and if something’s not quite in my voice, I just kind of paraphrase what I would be saying, and that sort of thing. I’m sort of at the point in my career where writers that are working in the business sort of grew up knowing about me. At least the ones that are fans of mine, anyway. And they’re really capable of writing for me. It wasn’t always that case. Early on in my career, it was pretty much Adam and me just trying to establish this voice.

BE: Of course, it makes me wonder if people sometimes come to you with something utterly off the wall, saying, “Well, ‘Cabin Boy’ was so nuts that I figured you’d be into this.’

CE: Yeah, I think I get that a lot. It’s interesting: some people put anything weird in the “weird” category and think, “Oh, Chris’ll do that because it’s so weird.” But you’re right. Certain people, like yourself, get why certain things are funny-weird as opposed to just being strange. That’s a different breed. I think I do get lumped in a lot with “he’s just off the wall, he’s crazy.”

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Friday Video – Guns n’ Roses, “November Rain”

Click here to listen to Guns n’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion I on Spotify

Because it’s November, and odds are, wherever you are, it’s raining.

Holy cow: this video has been played 66 million times. That’s amazing.

Happy Black Friday, everyone. We hope you weren’t stabbed with a box cutter at a midnight madness sale. You know, like this one.

  

Learn to rip throats and pound Cunth just like MacGruber

Only one American hero has earned the rank of Green Beret, Navy SEAL and Army Ranger. Just one operative has been awarded 16 Purple Hearts, 3 Congressional Medals of Honor, and 7 Presidential Medals of Bravery. And only one guy is man enough to still sport a mullet. On May 21, Will Forte brings his clueless soldier of fortune to the big screen in the action comedy, “MacGruber.” I had a chance to see an early screening of the movie at this year’s SXSW film festival, and although I wasn’t as crazy about it as many of the other critics and bloggers in attendance, it’s one of the funniest “Saturday Night Live” films to date.

It’s certainly going to be an uphill battle for “MacGruber” this summer as it competes against surefire blockbusters like “Iron Man 2” and “Robin Hood,” so Universal hasn’t wasted any time in getting the word out with everything from a Mullet Generator app to guest appearances by the cast on “WWE Raw.” And now you can prepare for the film’s release with the all-new MacGruber Training Academy, a collection of games that teaches you everything you need to know about pounding Cunth, ripping throats, and defusing bombs. Complete a challenge and you’ll earn yourself an exclusive desktop wallpaper, although at the time of writing this, the actual downloading process wasn’t working correctly. What can you say? It’s classic MacGruber.

  

A chat with the cast and crew of “MacGruber”

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When Universal’s big-screen adaptation of “MacGruber” rolls into theaters on May 21st, it’s going to face some pretty heavy competition. In fact, it’s a bit of an underdog when compared to some of the surefire blockbusters opening around the same time, but you wouldn’t know it from the reception it received at this year’s South by Southwest film festival. Although director Jorma Taccone announced that the movie was still in the later stages of post-production and not quite 100% finished, it brought down the house at the sold-out Paramount theater. The following morning, I was invited along with a few of my fellow movie bloggers to chat with Taccone, co-writer John Solomon, co-writer/star Will Forte, and star Kristen Wiig about making the film. (Warning: minor spoilers ahead.)

As the first “Saturday Night Live” movie since 2000’s “The Ladies Man,” everyone was curious how “MacGruber” was chosen as the next sketch to receive the big screen treatment. Taccone admitted that he didn’t know “how Lorne’s wonderful mind works,” but that “he’s always been a champion of the sketch and thought of it more highly than we did at times.” That doesn’t change the fact that the big joke of the skits is that MacGruber dies at the end of every one, and although Forte agrees that “a lot of people will probably think that’s what the movie will be – just a series of explosions,” Taccone was a little more defensive of the early criticisms:

“That was the comment: ‘What’s it going to be?’ We’re going to make a plot of it. What did you expect? But we did put that one little nod to the original sketch at the end, which is really nice that people seem to get that moment.”

Though Taccone wouldn’t get into any details regarding the recent lawsuit surrounding the film (Forte did say they would have loved Richard Dean Anderson to be a part of it), he was quick to state that the MacGyver character didn’t have any direct influence on the movie. Instead, they looked more to 80s and early 90s action movies for inspiration, and when asked if there was anything specific, Taccone offered up an example:

“I will say that me and John [Solomon] were watching a [Steven] Seagal movie and over an explosion you heard a cougar growl. We were like, ‘What was that? Oh my god, we have to put that in!’ It’s a technique, obviously, but you’re supposed to put it low enough so that it’s just a hint of something. So our sound dude was like, ‘People are going to think I’m bad at my job.’”

In addition to Forte, the film also features Kristen Wiig (reprising her role from the sketches), as well as Ryan Phillippe and Val Kilmer. Taccone confesses to being really lucky to get both actors, especially for how hard they worked and how little they were paid. Phillippe, in particular, plays an important role in the film according to his co-stars, not only because there are always three characters in the sketches, but because they needed someone who could “ground the craziness with something that we thought would be useful.” As for Kilmer, while he didn’t have a hand in shaping the villainous role of Dietrich von Cunth, Taccone joked that he “certainly made it more Cunthy.”

Everyone on set clearly got along really well, and it shows in the final product. While Forte and Wiig swear that a majority of their soon-to-be-infamous sex scene was scripted, they were more than game to talk about the difficulties of shooting it. When asked how she could possibly keep a straight face as Forte humped and grunted all over her, Wiig was quick to point out that it if you watch carefully, you’ll notice that she’s laughing so much that she had to turn her head ahead away from the camera. Forte, meanwhile, just felt bad for his co-star, who was being “pelted with major drops of sweat” the minute he started moving on top of her.

It’s not the most risqué moment in the film, though. That honor goes to a scene where MacGruber sticks a stalk of celery up his ass as a diversionary tactic. Forte spoke at length about where the idea came from, including a particularly funny anecdote about the day they filmed it:

“I think that was John and Jorma’s, and they pitched it to me, and it was just one of those things where I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’ll stick some celery in my butt.’ The best part was that my mom was visiting that day, and she was saying, ‘Oh, I think I’m going to go into Santa Fe with my friends,” and I said, ‘Okay, there’s a pretty crazy scene we’re doing, so you could stay for that or got to Santa Fe.’ And I forgot exactly what we were doing, and I’m sitting there naked, cupping my balls, trying to place this celery, and I look over and there’s my mom and there was no judgment on her face. It was just like, ‘This is what my son is doing today…’ The weird thing is, she was with two friends, and they were not having it.”

And just like that, the interview was over, although I couldn’t think of a better place to end it. After all, they had just demonstrated how far they were willing to go in order to get a laugh, and that’s “MacGruber” in a nutshell.

  

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