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Monday, January 26, 2015

20 Things I Learned Watching the Backstreet Boys' New Documentary

(left to right) Brian Littrell, Howie Dorough, Nick Carter,
Kevin Richardson and A.J. McLean

Remember that Backstreet Boys documentary I specifically told you I was not going to watch? So, I definitely watched it, and I can't even say it was only to relive some of my favorite songs from the band (that was just a perk). I was genuinely curious to see what the band wanted to tell us this time (that they feel they didn't get across to us the last couple of times). It ended up being a pretty rough cut chronicle of the band's professional and individual journeys over the last two decades. And, OMG, the drama. You won't even believe it. Just in case, I took some notes.


  1. Kevin Richardson is still fine as hell, at 43 years old.
  2. Howie Dorough, who almost exclusively sung background from what I can recall, was the band's original lead singer. He was--and is to this day--resentful that Brian Littrell stole his thunder.
  3. Even though Brian Littrell has damaged vocal chords that have progressively gotten worse over the years, he still has the best voice out of the five members (go figure). 
  4. Nick Carter's singing voice has not gotten any better. He still sounds like a dying cat. 
  5. The guys used to hang out with their former manager, Lou Pearlman, in his house...and sometimes watched porn with him. (I don't know why, and this was never clearly explained in the film).
  6. Pearlman apparently owns (or at least used to own, before his current 25-year prison sentence for a number of major financial crimes) the original Darth Vader mask.
  7. Richardson lost his father just before the group got big. In one of many emotional moments in the film, the five go back to his hometown to show us his upbringing.
  8. Richardson was very uncomfortable with the video for the group's first U.S. hit, "Quit Playing Games With My Heart," specifically the half naked rain scene. Ironically, I remember being very comfortable with this scene. 
  9. The video for "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" is still pretty awesome. Admit it. 
  10. They're still making music, and none of it sounds particularly great. One of them has the same title as the film's subtitle.
  11. Pearlman was simultaneously grooming the band's future competitor, NSYNC, kinda sorta to replace the Backstreet Boys. A.J. McLean reveals how betrayed he felt to learn that Pearlman would go so far as to book NSYNC for any appearances or engagements the Backstreet Boys were too busy/exhausted to attend. 
  12. For their Black & Blue tour, the band was paid $100 million.
  13. McLean's constant need to be the bad boy of the group was not lost on Dorough. "A.J. thought he was rock and roll, not realizing he was part of a boy band," Dorough said. (Also: the subtle shade is EPIC).
  14. McLean credits Richardson for motivating him to get sober and go to rehab. In the film, McLean recounts how one day Richardson broke into his hotel room (where McLean, who was supposed to be in a business meeting, was sprawled out in a "haze") to exchange some choice words (including "You're dead to me").
  15. More shade from Dorough about McLean: "A.J. thinks he's a rapper." As he's saying this in the film, he's sitting in his car as McLeans rolls up in the next parking space bumping hip hop and really overcompensating (see #14).
  16. Richardson hasn't toured with the band for the last seven years. So this will be the first time he's even dealing with these dudes in a long while. 
  17. In the film's most melodramatic scene (seriously, it could have been excepted from a VH1 reality show), Carter lashes out at Littrell for not addressing his vocal issues and the fact that it is partly because of that that their current progress has been slow. At one point (after he calms down a bit) Carter tells Littrell that he used to be the Michael Jordan of this group, that there was Jordan and Pippen and he wants Littrell to get back to being Jordan. (I guess that would mean Carter considers himself Pippen? But why? See #4). Meanwhile, Dorough is looking hella confused in this scene (see #2).
  18. Also in that same scene, Littrell lashes back at Carter for having to "do his job" sometimes. Which got a literal "oooooh" from me (clearly considering this all to be a super intense reality show that I'm watching).
  19. Carter apparently grew up with "boys who are now either in prison, dead or on drugs." And he is definitely still working out some issues after his rehab stint. 
  20. Every single member of this group cries at some point in this film (except Dorough, who is probably still wondering how he can reclaim his status as the Michael Jordan of the group). They all go back to their hometowns and reunite with their music teachers, and just...start crying (seriously, is this staged?). Richardson's crying (as he mourned the loss of his father) was the only grief I understood. Carter literally says (after bawling for a good five minutes) that he doesn't even know why he's crying. Guys, I mean...?
So basically, they're doing this to promote their new album (which, again, has some really shaking vocals on it from what I heard in the film). But the band has some real personal issues among themselves that they may want to iron out before they hit the road again. I remember wondering after I finished watching the film, do these guys even like each other?  I guess they're just one big dysfunctional family. 

BACKSTREETS BOYS: SHOW 'EM WHAT YOU'RE MADE OF is in theaters and on VOD on January 30th.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

I'm Here for the ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK Takeover at Sunday Night's Screen Actors Guild Awards

Is it weird that I've become less interested in the actual awards and more intrigued by the apparent battle of who can have the most moving acceptance speeches this year? For Sunday night's Screen Actors Guild Awards, Orange is the New Black star Uzo Aduba won that match, hands down. She talked about the beautiful diversity of the cast, and its fearless leader for having the insight to showcase such an amazing variety of narratives and characters. Here's a snippet:

"I want to thank Jenji Kohan for writing a show like this, not only for myself but for our incredible team of actors to be seen in such a beautiful way... I want to say a huge massive thanks to our cast, without whom this is not possible. I love you guys so desperately, so much. This is not done without you, any step of the way."

For the record, while I LOVE fellow nominee Julia Louis-Dreyfuss in Veep, But I also adore Aduba's nuanced work in the Netflix dramedy, which not only won for best actress in a comedy, but also won best ensemble in a comedy series-- amazing, considering its rather ambiguous genre. For those of you who aren't familiar with Orange is the New Black (or OITNB, as we fans call it), I have two words for you: GET FAMILIAR. Also, check out this post on the show I wrote back in 2013.

And of course, Patricia Arquette continues to be an adorably charming and slightly nerdy maternal figure, who I can't get enough of. In her acceptance speech for best supporting actress (Boyhood), she gave a touching shout out to her showbiz family and her incredible cast and crew:

"I'm a fourth generation actor. My family has been committed to acting for over a century through feast or famine. My father Lewis Arquette taught me to approach work with compassion and gratitude and taught me also how hard it is to make a living as an actor...Ethan Hawke, for your fierce commitment. Ellar Coltrane, for your purity. Lorelei Linklater, for your strength and your ability. And Richard Linklater, for showing me the beauty of this human experience and how we all matter."

Then there was Viola Davis (a vision in white), who genuinely shocked me when she won for best actress in a drama series (ABC's How to Get Away with Murder). I really couldn't get into the show, but I'm always happy to see Davis just winning things. Because she's great, and it's time people recognize that. An excerpt from her speech:

"I'd like to thank Paul Lee, Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers...and Pete Nowalk…for thinking that a sexualized, messy, mysterious woman could be a 49-year-old dark skinned African-American woman who looks like me."

For the full list of winners from Sunday night's ceremony, click here

Friday, January 23, 2015

EMPIRE Actress Tasha Smith Will Do a Live Twitter Chat on Monday

Tasha Smith is one of those actresses who's been in at least one movie that you've seen, but you might not have known it was her, which speaks to her chameleon-like ability as an actress. But many folks, including myself, know her best as one of Tyler Perry's muses, having starred in a number of the director's films, including Why Did I Get Married?

If you've been watching Lee Daniels' new FOX melodrama, Empire, then you've also seen her play a small role on that (though I have a feeling that her character's story is about to expand as the season progresses). In any case, you can learn more about the actress when she opens up in a one-hour Twitter chat on Monday, January 26th, at 10am PST/1pm EST. She'll discuss her career, her upcoming gig as teacher of the Acting Master Class at the American Black Film Festival, diversity in Hollywood, and answer questions from the audience (read: the Twitterverse). 

To join the conversation, follow ABFF and Tasha Smith on Twitter, and tweet questions using the hashtag #ABFF2015. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I'm Just Gonna Leave This Red Band Clip from HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 With You...

I know many of you loved the first Hot Tub Time Machine film, but...I just don't get why. I mean, I guess it was funny at times...if you're into that kind of thing (I do actually get a kick out of Craig Robinson doing a cover of Lisa Loeb's "Stay" in the commercial). But anyway, I was just sent this red band clip from the sequel, HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2, that you'll likely appreciate more than I did. Check it out:

More on the film in the synopsis:

When Lou (Rob Corddry) finds himself in trouble, Nick (Craig Robinson) and Jacob (Clark Duke) fire up the hot tub time machine in an attempt to get back to the past. But they inadvertently land in the future with Adam Jr. (Adam Scott). Now they have to alter the future in order to save the past... which is really the present, in the sequel from the same team that brought you the original cult hit.

HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 is in theaters February 20th. 

Freida Pinto and Homeland's Nazanin Boniadi Star in a New Dancing Drama Set in Iran (Coming to Theaters in the U.S.)

I was just asking what ever happened to Freida Pinto...

Generally known these days as "that pretty girl from Slumdog Millionaire," Pinto has actually been keeping pretty busy starring in a number of indie and foreign films, including 2010's Miral. And I've just received information about her latest project, DESERT DANCER. Co-starring Homeland's Nazanin Boniadi, the film tells the true story of how an amateur dance troupe in Iran ignited a political firestorm amid a nationwide ban on dancing.

Here's another pic from the film:

I managed to also track down a trailer for the film from last year. Check it out:

What do you think? DESERT DANCER comes to theaters in the U.S. April 10th. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

BOYHOOD Director Richard Linklater and Star Ellar Coltrane Will Do a Livestream Q&A Today

My fellow Boyhood fans! Tune in for a livestream Q&A with the film's director Richard Linklater and star Ellar Coltrane today at 7pm PST/10pm EST on Yahoo! Livestream. The two will discuss their 12-year film-making process and what it's like to be a part of this groundbreaking cinematic experience.

Watch it here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Win a Blu-ray Copy of the Golden Globe-Nominated Animated Film, THE BOOK OF LIFE!

Happy Tuesday! To help get us through this short week (short if you're in the U.S. and your office was closed yesterday for Martin Luther King Day), I'm kicking it off with some great news. It looks like I'll be hosting a giveaway for the star-studded animated film THE BOOK OF LIFE, right here on the site.

You may remember I gushed about wanting to see the movie leading up to its release last year, before it went on to receive a Golden Globe nomination. So I am happy to hear that the it will be out on DVD/Blu-ray on January 27th. In case you need it, here's a refresher on the film:

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment invites you and your family to join Manola, Maria and Chuy as they embark on a magical journey that takes them on an adventure of a lifetime in THE BOOK OF LIFE. Written and directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez and produced by Guillermo del Toro, the characters venture to the Land of the Remembered and embrace the rich culture and family history brought to life by the all-star voice cast of Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana, Diego Luna, Ron Perlman, Kate del Castillo, Christina Applegate and Ice Cube.

THE BOOK OF LIFE is a breathtaking animated comedy with a dazzling visual style unlike anything you’ve seen before. Torn between the expectations of his family and the desires of his heart, a young man named Manolo sets off on an epic quest that spans three spectacular worlds in order to reunite with his one true love and defend his village. Not your ordinary fairy tale, THE BOOK OF LIFE is a wondrous fantasy-adventure filled with magic, music and fun!

I'm giving away one (1) copy of the Blu-ray to the first person who responds to this post with what they loved most about this movie (or, if you haven't seen the film, why you want to see it). Here's the fine print: you must live within the United States to enter the giveaway. And please leave a way for me to contact you to request mailing information. 

Thanks and good luck!

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