BEHIND THE SCREEN: 93rd Annual Academy Awards – A Night to (NOT) Remember

Well, thank God that’s over. The final film award ceremony of 2021 is over, and not a minute too soon.

Viewers who tuned in to the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony (guilty, but I have a website. What’s your excuse?) were treated to un-enthusiastic presenters, amazingly long speeches (I’m guessing Questlove wasn’t told he could play people off) and an “In Memoriam” segment that looks like it was thrown together at the last minute. And can someone tell me how a show with no host, opening monologue and zero musical numbers – unless you count the embarrassing “Oscar Music Trivia” game that featured Glenn Close shaking her ass to E.U.’s “Da Butt” – ran almost 3 1/2 hours??

On a positive note, there were some great achievements rewarded. A woman of color (Chloe Zhao) was named Best Director, only the second time a woman has won that Award. Think about that. Out of 465 nominees only SEVEN women have been nominated: Lina Wertmuller, Jane Campion, Sophia Coppola, Kathryn Bigelow (who won), Greta Gerwig, Ms. Zhao and Emerald Fennell, who with Ms. Zhao was nominated this year. Which means such female directors, like Penny Marshall and Barbra Streisand, have been totally ignored, even though in the past they had directed films nominated for Best Picture!

Daniel Kaluuya and Youn Yuh-jing took home the Best Supporting Actor and Actress awards, respectively, putting a slight dent into the #OscarSoWhite reputation.

Frances McDormand became the second actress to receive (3) Best Actress awards when her name was announced last night, putting her right behind the immortal Katherine Hepburn, who won (4). Meryl Streep does have (3) Oscars, but one was for Best Supporting Actress. Ms. McDormand picked up a 4th Oscar as one of the producers of the evening’s Best Picture, “Nomadland.” And whose idea was it to give the Best Picture award out early? Normally it’s the last award of the night, but on this night it was awarded before Best Actress and Actor were named. My hunch is that the producers assumed the late Chadwick Boseman, who was nominated for his final performance in the film “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” would win, which would have made for a nice emotional way to end the evening. Instead, Joaquin Phoenix sheepishly announced Anthony Hopkins as the winner of the Best Actor award, and that was a wrap!

My beef with the “In Memoriam” segment was that, for some reason, the Academy figured if you were watching you knew who everyone was and what they did. An introduction that took u 1/3 of the segment, no film clips and, while known talents like Christopher Plummer, George Segal and Wilford Brimley got a few seconds of screen time each, others – among them Marge Champion (a great dancer), Shirley Knight (a fine actress), Kelly Preston (same) and Michael Chapman (an amazing cinematographer whose credits include “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” and “The Fugitive”) whizzed by in a blink.

The fact that only nominees and presenters were allowed to be in the venue also made for dull television. Smatterings of applause signaled that the guests in the theatre were apparently as bored as the ones at my house.

Blame it on COVID. Blame it on the fact that none of the films nominated were “NAME” films – no “Titanic,” “Avatar” or “Lord of the Rings” in the bunch. Blame it on bad television. There’s plenty of blame to go around.

For those of you who went to bed early, here is a list of the winners:

Best Picture – Nomadland 

Best Actor in a Leading Role– Anthony Hopkins (The Father)

Best Actress in a Leading Role – Frances McDormand (Nomadland)

Best Director – Chloé Zhao (Nomadland)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Youn Yuh-jung (Minari)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah)

Best Adapted Screenplay – The Father, Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller

Best Original Screenplay – Promising Young Woman, Emerald Fennell

Best Animated Feature Film – Soul 

Best International Feature Film – Another Round (Denmark)

Best Sound – Sound of Metal, Phillip Bladh, Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés, Carolina Santana

Best Costume Design – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Ann Roth

Best Makeup and Hairstyling – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Matiki Anoff, Mia Neal, Larry M. Cherry

Best Live Action Short Film – Two Distant Strangers

Best Animated Short Film – If Anything Happens I Love You 

Best Documentary Feature – My Octopus Teacher 

Best Documentary Short Subject – Colette 

Best Original Song – ‘Fight for You,’ (Judas and the Black Messiah)

Best Visual Effects – Tenet, Andrew Jackson, Andrew Lockley, Scott R. Fisher, Mike Chambers

Best Cinematography – Mank, Erik Messerschmidt

Best Production Design – Mank, Donald Graham Burt, Jan Pascale

Best Film Editing – Sound of Metal, Mikkel E.G. Nielsen

Best Original Score – Mank, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

Behind the Screen: Here Comes the Strangest Oscar Ceremony Ever!

THIS COULD BE THE STRANGEST OSCAR CEREMONY EVER

In its 93 years the Academy Awards have seen some strange occurrences.

In 1973, Marlon Brando, who was announced as the winner of the Best Actor Award, sent an actress pretending to be a Native American up to the podium to refuse the award, citing the way Native American’s were portrayed in films.

The next year, David Niven was startled when freelance photographer Robert Opel decided to “streak” across the stage behind them.  I always thought that this was a set-up.  The camera angle was such that none of Mr. Opel’s nether-region was shown and Mr. Niven was awful quick and his quip: “The only laugh that man will ever get in his life is from stripping off and showing his shortcomings!” 

And, of course, who could forget the 1989 ceremonies when Rob Lowe and Snow White engaged in a musical number?  Only months before a sex-tape with Lowe and two women (one underage) had been released, which I’m sure upset the folks at Disney, who were already upset because they hadn’t given their permission for the character to appear.

But this year could be the strangest and most unpredictable ceremony ever.

Tonight, for really the first time since last year’s Oscars, nominees have been encouraged to be in attendance.  In the past year, shows like the Emmys have had a minimal crowd (usually first responders) and the awards have been “delivered” to the winner via Zoom.  Tonight we could actually see people walk across the stage to give their acceptance speeches.

Tonight also notes the first time that a streaming service has received more total nominations than any of the established studios.  NETFLIX leads the way with 35 total nominations, followed by Amazon with 12.  The highest number of studio nominations is 8, shared by Warner Bros. and the Walt Disney Company.

Streaming has been the thing this year.  Though theatres are now open again, very few people are going.  The one closest to me, and 18 screen mega-plex, is showing films that range from current (GODZILLA vs KONG, MORTAL KOMBAT) to titles that are months old.  They are even trying to fill their screens with Bollywood features.

In the past year, I have seen three films in a movie theatre.  The aforementioned GODZILLA vs KONG and MORTAL KOMBAT, both in the last 2 months.  Before that, the last film I saw on the big screen was TENET.  And I LOVE going to the movies.

With the exception of TENET, every other Oscar nominated film or performance I have seen this year has been either on a streaming platform or a DVD screener.  A nice way for a critic to binge on what they need to see but also a way that takes the fun out of the movies. 

I enjoy going to the theatre.  Getting my popcorn and sitting in a room with 250 strangers who are about to share an experience with me.  I like hearing others laugh along with me and I like sitting in the silence and hearing if anyone else is crying at the incredibly sad scene I just witnessed.  And I like talking to people as we exit the auditorium, discussing what we saw and whether or not we liked it. 

I should note that there were no more than four other people in attendance at the three films I have seen in a theatre.  Which makes for a lonely exit conversation.

Hopefully after the awards some of the winners will be released to theatres.  That is how Hollywood makes a little more money off of their films – re-releasing them to theatres after the awards to get a post-Oscar push at the box office.  I, for one, would love to see MANK on the big screen.  It’s impeccable recreation of 1940s filmmaking would be glorious to take in on a screen 40 feet high.

However, there are also good reasons to watch the Awards this year.  Many of the nominees are a “pick-em” – there are no such things as “Titanic” nominated tonight.  But my fingers are crossed for two awards and the reaction they will receive. 

The late Chadwick Boseman is nominated as Best Actor for his amazing performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”  It is his last film performance and it is brilliant.  A victory here would not only honor a talent gone much too soon but will surely bring the house to it’s feet.

Secondly, tonight Glenn Close is nominated (for the eighth time) for her Supporting turn in “Hillbilly Elegy.”  Not only is she the best thing in the film, she is so overdue for a win.  Should she not win tonight, she will tie the late Peter O’Toole as having the most acting nominations without a win.  O’Toole did receive an Honorary Oscar in 2002.  A win by Close would surely trigger and emotional standing ovation.  It certainly will at my house.

Television Review: ESPN Films 30 for 30: “Al Davis vs the NFL”

I had only been in Baltimore about a year when it was announced that the NFL”s Baltimore Colts would be moving to Indianapolis. The mood in the city was like a close friend had died. But teams moving was really nothing new in 1984. I grew up in Tampa and I still own t-shirts for the Tampa Bay Giants and the Tampa Bay White Sox, two teams that held their cities ransom with a threat to move in order to get new stadiums built.

In 1980 the Los Angeles Rams moved from L.A. to Anaheim (since then they’ve moved to St. Louis and back to L.A.). Seeing Los Angeles as a prime place to have a team, Oakland Raider managing partner /Al Davis decided to move his team to the empty Los Angeles Coliseum, with the promise of upgraded facilities and, of course, more money. But it wasn’t easy.

Entertaining and informative, “Al Davis vs the NFL” is another feather in the ESPN 30 for 30 cap. The film introduces both Pete Rozelle, who would become NFL commissioner and Davis, who helped found the American Football League (AFL) and soon became the managing partner of the Oakland football team. We see Rozelle in 1963 refusing to comment on a possible merger with the upstart AFL (it happened in 1966) and Davis’ team always running into bad luck, especially against the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers. Glory comes so close for the silver and black, only to be dashed away by Franco Harris’ “Immaculate” Reception one year, and a field of solid ice two years later. Now Davis and Rozelle go head to head in Federal Court to decide where the Raiders will play next.

Told through archival footage, and narrated by reenactors, The film is an amazing look back at a much simpler time in sports. Though quite popular in the mid-1980s, football did not have the amazing impact it has now. As “Just Win, Baby” becomes the phrase of champions, we learn how simple animosity between two men led to a landmark legal decision. We are also reminded of some of the great sportscasters of that decade, including Howard Cosell, Phyllis George, and Curt Gowdy. The legal battle is fun to watch, as neither Rozelle nor Davis want to be the first to throw in the towel.

Of course, if you follow football you know that soon the Browns went to Baltimore and became the Ravens and the Oilers left Houston for Tennessee. Meanwhile, the Raiders returned to Oakland and then, this year, began -playing in their new home city of Las Vegas. You’ve heard the saying “you can’t tell the players without a scorecard?” Well, these days, you can’t tell the NFL without an Atlas!

Just in time for the Super Bowl (go Chiefs!), “Al Davis vs the NFL” airs on ESPN this Thursday, February 4. It will also run on ESPN+ after the broadcast.

Shout! Factory TV Presents The Aquabats! Super Show! Super Marathon Stream Saturday, December 5

A Full-Day Marathon of the Daytime Emmy Award-Winning Comedy Rock Series Hosted by the Aquabats

Aquabats, let’s go! Shout! Factory TV will proudly present The Aquabats! Super Show! Super Marathon on December 5 to celebrate the fan-favorite musical comedy series’ debut on Shout! Factory TV. The marathon will feature every episode of The Aquabats! Super Show!, the unaired pilot episode, specials and music videos.

Fans can hang out with The Aquabats as they answer popular questions from the fans, share never-before-heard trivia and behind-the-scenes tidbits and showcase actual props from the show. One lucky winner will also receive a prize pack including a Fender guitar signed by The Aquabats and a signed, limited edition vinyl copy of the band’s new album Kooky Spooky…in Stereo!

The Aquabats! Super Show! premiered in 2012 on the Hub Network and aired for two seasons and a total of 21 episodes. The series was helmed by Christian Jacobs, Scott Schultz (creators of the series Yo Gabba Gabba!), and director Jason deVilliers. Throughout its run, the show received eight multiple Daytime Emmy nominations and one win. Shout! Factory previously released 

The Aquabats! Super Show!: Season One on DVD in 2013. Based on the superhero mythology of The Aquabats!, a real comedy rock band which series co-creator and lead singer Jacobs formed in 1994, The Aquabats! Super Show! follows the comic adventures of a fictionalized version of the band, a musical group of amateur superheroes, as they haphazardly defend the world from a variety of villains and monsters. Styled similarly to the campy aesthetics of 1960s and 1970s children’s television and Japanese tokusatsu, The Aquabats! Super Show! utilizes various mediums of visual styles and special effects, mixing live-action storylines with cartoon shorts, parody advertisements and musical interludes.

The marathon begins Saturday, December 5 at 9 a.m. PT and will continue all day. The stream can be viewed on ShoutFactoryTV.com; Shout! Factory TV’s Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, and Android apps; and the following digital streaming platforms: Twitch, Pluto TV, Samsung TV Plus, Comcast Xfinity, Xumo, Vizio, Redbox, IMDb TV, STIRR, Sling TV, THETA.tv and Local Now. 

Every episode of The Aquabats! Super Show! is also now available for viewing on demand on ShoutFactoryTV.com; Shout! Factory TV’s Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, and Android apps; and on various Shout! Factory TV branded channels including Tubi, Amazon Prime Channels, and the Roku Channel.

About The Aquabats! The Aquabats!, formed in 1994 in Orange County as a way to have some harmless fun in a music scene that took itself too seriously. Their Paul Frank designed “power belts,” trademark rash guards, black eye masks, “anti-negativity” helmets and onstage antics quickly caught on, earning the group a fiercely loyal following that spans generations. Their line-up and music is continuously evolving, including Blink 182’s Travis Barker as former drummer “Baron Von Tito.” In 2012, the band debuted The Aquabats! Super Show!, a live-action musical action comedy television series which aired on the Hub Network. The show received eight multiple Daytime EMMY nominations and one win. To date, The Aquabats’ music library includes The Return of the Aquabats (1996), The Fury of the Aquabats! (1997), The Aquabats vs. The Floating Eye of Death (1999), Myths, Legends and Other Amazing Adventures, Vol. 2 (2000), Yo! Check Out This Ride! (EP, 2004) Charge!! (2005), Radio Down! (EP, 2010), Hi-Five Soup! (2011), and 2020’s newest addition – full studio album Kooky Spooky… In Stereo! Current members are Christian Jacobs as “The MC Bat Commander” (lead singer), Chad Larson as “Crash McLarson” (bass, vocals), Ian Fowles as “Eaglebones Falconhawk” (guitar), Richard Falomir as “Ricky Fitness” (drums), and James Briggs, as “Jimmy the Robot” (keyboards, woodwinds, vocals). 

About Shout! Factory TV Shout! Factory TV is a digital entertainment streaming service that brings timeless and contemporary cult favorites to pop culture fans. Shout! Factory TV offers an unrivaled blend of original programming and TV shows and movies curated from major studios, independent producers and its own distinctive entertainment library. The Shout! Factory TV family of channels also includes Mystery Science Theater 3000, TokuSHOUTsu™ and Johnny Carson TV, with more to come soon. Shout! Factory TV provides an immersive, high-quality viewing experience across a wide variety of platforms: online at ShoutFactoryTV.com, on smartphone devices, tablets and connected TV, and via apps on the Roku player, Android, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV. Shout! Factory TV is also available as a branded channel on Amazon Prime Channels, Comcast Xfinity, IMDb TV, Pluto TV, Redbox, Roku Premium Subscriptions, Samsung TV Plus, STIRR, Tubi, Twitch, Vizio and XUMO, among others. For more information, please visit ShoutFactoryTV.com.   

Film Review: “BELUSHI”

  • BELUSHI
  • Documentary
  • Directed by: R.J. Cutler
  • Rated:  Not Rated
  • Running time:  1 hr 48 mins
  • Passion Pictures

He was the first movie star of MY generation.  Springing almost seemingly from nowhere he appeared on my television one late Saturday night and remained there for five years, giving my friends and I unending laughs and so many catch phrases – “but NO!” – to take us all the way through high school.  He made hit films, inspiring an amazing Toga Party at my house that is still part of Tampa’s legacy.  He is John Belushi, the subject of an incredible new documentary airing this Sunday, November 22, on SHOWTIME.

Told though audio interviews with many of the people who knew him best, ‘Belushi” introduces us to a young man that was seemingly born with a will to succeed.  As a young boy he would entertain his neighbors, had a successful band and was King of his high school prom.  When he and a couple of friends form their own imrov group it isn’t long before they are asked to audition for the prestigious Second City Comedy Troupe.  He becomes the first person to audition for the group and be asked to join the First Stage group, not learn the ropes in the touring company.  This leads to New York, the National Lampoon show “Lemmings” (and their weekly radio show) and, eventually, “Saturday Night Live,” which my friends and I all watched in my living room the night it premiered.    Soon came Hollywood, albums and fame but sadly the demons also came along with them.

John Belushi in his final film, “Neighbors”

The son of Albanian immigrants, John’s father came to America with dreams of becoming a cowboy.  Instead, he settled his family in Wheaton, Illinois and opened a restaurant.  Both of his parents were ashamed of their accents but John and his brothers and sisters loved America and set out to find their dreams.    When he meets Judy Jacklin at high school (their first date is the senior prom) he finds someone who loves him unconditionally.  The film highlights many letters that John sent to Judy throughout his life.  Whether they contained good career news, or his heart breaking words while dealing with his various addictions, the love he has for her is front and center.  Conversations with Judy, and best friend Dan Aykroyd, reveal the John Belushi nobody really knew and the ache in their voices when they explain they did all they could do to save him from his demons  is real.   After the release of their last film together, “Neighbors” – a film that was not loved by critics – Aykroyd describes talking to Belushi and finding him “sad and defeated.”  Aykroyd informs John that he is writing their next project and that it will be a success.  That film was “Ghostbusters.” 

But “Belushi” is also a testament to the man’s talent.  Early performance clips, including his audition tape for “Saturday Night Live,” show a man

Full of love and humor John only wanted to share both with people.  In 1978 John Belushi did something no other entertaining ever did.  In one week he not only starred in the No 1. Show on television – “Saturday Night Live” – but also in the No 1. Film that week, “National Lampoon’s Animal House.” To add to this historic achievement, he also, along with Aykroyd, had the No 1 Album in the country – “Briefcase Full of Blues” – with the Blues Brothers.  Through the audio interviews, we hear from many people that knew John best, from his mother and brother, Jim, through people that worked with him over the years, including Chevy Chase, Harold Ramis, Joe Flaherty, Penny Marshall, Carrie Fisher, Richard Zanuck and Lorne Michaels. It is these performances that are the highlight of the film.  I have always maintained that John Belushi would have had a career similar to Robin Williams.  Both men had unlimited range and talents and I would not have been surprised if Belushi won an Oscar one day.  Sadly, we will never know what joys John Belushi could have given us.  But the ones he left us in a single decade of work are much more than most performers leave in an lifetime. 

SHOUT! FACTORY TV ANNOUNCES NORTH AMERICAN STREAMING ACQUISITION OF THE AQUABATS! SUPER SHOW!

Multi-Year Agreement Grants Shout! Factory TV Streaming Rights to Daytime Emmy Award-Winning Comedy Rock Series
Shout! Factory TV, the multi-platform digital streaming arm of Shout! Factory, and The Aquabats! today announce a distribution alliance to bring the fan-favorite musical comedy television series The Aquabats! Super Show! to streaming entertainment platforms in North America. 

The multi-year alliance provides Shout! Factory TV with SVOD, AVOD and linear streaming digital rights in the U.S. and Canada to all episodes of The Aquabats! Super Show!, including the unaired pilot episode and specials.   

Shout! Factory TV plans a timely rollout of The Aqubats! Super Show!, expected later this year on its streaming service. As excitement builds, Shout! Factory TV, in collaboration with The Aquabats!, will announce additional news and activities in forthcoming months. The Aquabats! Super Show! premiered in 2012 on the Hub Network and aired for two seasons. The series was created by Christian Jacobs,Scott Schultz (creators of the series Yo Gabba Gabba!), and Jason deVilliers. Throughout its run, the show received eight multiple Daytime Emmy nominations and one win. Shout! Factory previously released The Aquabats! Super Show!: Season One on DVD in 2013. 

Based on the superhero mythology of The Aquabats!, a real comedy rock band which series co-creator and lead singer Jacobs formed in 1994, The Aquabats! Super Show! follows the comic adventures of a fictionalized version of the band, a musical group of amateur superheroes, as they haphazardly defend the world from a variety of villains and monsters. Styled similarly to the campy aesthetics of 1960s and 1970s children’s television and Japanese tokusatsu, The Aquabats! Super Show! utilizes various mediums of visual styles and special effects, mixing live-action storylines with cartoon shorts, parody advertisements and musical interludes. 

“The Aquabats! are back at Shout! Factory, and we couldn’t think of a better home for Seasons 1 and 2 of The Aquabats! Super Show!,” said Christian Jacobs (The MC Bat Commander).“Take a look at their catalog and you’ll see a lot of the stuff that inspired Super Show! in the first place. We hope our fans enjoy watching The Aquabats! right alongside some of our all-time faves like Kamen Rider and Ultraman Leo, and we look forward to new folks discovering our wacky rock and roll adventures!” 

“As fans first, we’re thrilled to once again be working with The Aquabats!. The Aquabats! Super Show! has a devoted fanbase that has cemented the show as a pop culture phenom. We look forward to not only making it available for more fans to discover via streaming on Shout! Factory TV, but also taking advantage of the digital medium to give current fans new and unique ways to experience the show,” said Gene Pao, Shout’s SVP of Digital Enterprises. “As we actively expand our reach in streaming and digital platforms, acquisitions like this epitomize the fan-driven content we continually produce and pursue.”
About The Aquabats!
The Aquabats!, formed in 1994 in Orange County as a way to have some harmless fun in a music scene that took itself too seriously. Their Paul Frank designed “power belts,” trademark rash guards, black eye masks, “anti-negativity” helmets and onstage antics quickly caught on, earning the group a fiercely loyal following that spans generations. Their line-up and music is continuously evolving, including Blink 182’s Travis Barker as former drummer “Baron Von Tito.” 

In 2012, the band debuted The Aquabats! Super Show!, a live-action musical action comedy television series which aired on the Hub Network. The show received eight multiple Daytime EMMY nominations and one win. 

To date, The Aquabats’ music library includes The Return of the Aquabats (1996), The Fury of the Aquabats! (1997), The Aquabats vs. The Floating Eye of Death (1999), Myths, Legends and Other Amazing Adventures, Vol. 2 (2000), Yo! Check Out This Ride! (EP, 2004) Charge!! (2005), Radio Down! (EP, 2010), Hi-Five Soup! (2011), and 2020’s newest addition – full studio album Kooky Spooky… In Stereo! 

Current members are Christian Jacobs as “The MC Bat Commander” (lead singer), Chad Larson as “Crash McLarson” (bass, vocals), Ian Fowles as “Eaglebones Falconhawk” (guitar), Richard Falomir as “Ricky Fitness” (drums), and James Briggs, as “Jimmy the Robot” (keyboards, woodwinds, vocals). 

About Shout! Factory TV
Shout! Factory TV is a digital entertainment streaming service that brings timeless and contemporary cult favorites to pop culture fans. Shout! Factory TV offers an unrivaled blend of original programming and TV shows and movies curated from major studios, independent producers and its own distinctive entertainment library. The Shout! Factory TV family of channels also includes Mystery Science Theater 3000 and TokuSHOUTsu™, with more to come soon. Shout! Factory TV provides an immersive, high-quality viewing experience across a wide variety of platforms: online at ShoutFactoryTV.com, on smartphone devices, tablets and connected TV, and via apps on the Roku player, Android, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV. Shout! Factory TV is also available as a branded channel on Amazon Prime Channels, Comcast Xfinity, Pluto TV, Redbox, Roku Premium Subscriptions, Samsung TV Plus, STIRR, Tubi, Twitch, Vizio and XUMO among others. For more information, please visit ShoutFactoryTV.com.

Ross Hull reflects on his role in “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” & his work as a Meteorologist

Ross Hull is known best for the role of Gary, aka the leader of the Midnight Society, from the TV series “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”.

Ross is also currently a Meteorologist for Global News in Canada.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” with Ross and also his work as a Meteorologist.

“Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against The Universe” to Premiere Exclusively on Disney+ on Friday, August 28

BURBANK, Calif. (July 2, 2020) — The out-of-this-world animated movie “Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe,” from Disney Television Animation, will premiere exclusively on Disney+ Friday, August 28. The soundtrack, from Walt Disney Records, will be available the same day. 

Executive-produced by the creators/executive producers of the Emmy Award-winning “Phineas and Ferb” series, Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, “Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe” is an adventure story that tracks stepbrothers Phineas and Ferb as they set out across the galaxy to rescue their older sister Candace, who after being abducted by aliens, finds utopia in a far-off planet, free of pesky little brothers.  

Voice talent reprising their roles from the original series and movie include: Ashley Tisdale as Candace Flynn; Vincent Martella as Phineas Flynn; Caroline Rhea as their mom, Linda; Dee Bradley Baker as Perry the Platypus; Alyson Stoner as Isabella; Maulik Pancholy as Baljeet; Bobby Gaylor as Buford; Olivia Olson as Vanessa Doofenshmirtz; Tyler Mann as Carl; and Povenmire and Marsh as Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz and Major Monogram, respectively. David Errigo Jr. joins the cast as Ferb Fletcher. 

The movie also stars: Ali Wong (“American Housewife”) as Super Super Big Doctor; Wayne Brady (“Whose Line Is It Anyway?”) as Stapler Fist; Diedrich Bader (“American Housewife”) as Borthos; and Thomas Middleditch (“Silicon Valley”) as Garnoz.

In addition to Povenmire and Marsh, the talented crew includes: director Bob Bowen (“Family Guy”), composer Danny Jacob (“Phineas and Ferb”) and songwriters Karey Kirkpatrick (“Something Rotten!”), Emanuel Kiriakou (Whitney Houston’s “I Look To You”) and Kate Micucci (“Garfunkel and Oates”).

All four seasons of the original animated series “Phineas and Ferb,” along with the Disney Channel Original Movie “Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension,” are also available to stream on Disney+. Beginning Tuesday, August 25, all episodes will be presented on Disney XD leading up to the movie’s premiere.

In addition to the soundtrack for the new movie, brand extensions for the movie will include cross-category product available at Hot Topic, BoxLunch and Amazon this August.

#DisneyPlus

#PhineasandFerbMovie

#CandaceAgainstTheUniverse

About Disney+

Disney+ is the dedicated streaming home for movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and more. As part of Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer and International (DTCI) segment, Disney+ is available on most internet-connected devices and offers commercial-free programming with a variety of original feature-length films, documentaries, live-action and animated series, and short-form content. Alongside unprecedented access to Disney’s incredible library of film and television entertainment, the service is also the exclusive streaming home for the latest releases from The Walt Disney Studios. Disney+ is available as part of a bundle offer that gives subscribers access to Disney+, Hulu (ad-supported), and ESPN+. Visit DisneyPlus.com to subscribe and/or learn more about the service.

George McGrath talks about his work on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse and writing the movie Big Top Pee-Wee

George McGrath is known for voicing the characters Cowntess / Fish / Globey / Flower / Pterri in “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse”. He is also the writer of various episodes of the show including the theme song.

George also wrote the film “Big Top Pee-Wee” and was a writer on the HBO series “Tracy Takes On”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat about “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” and his work on the show.

Jodie Resther talks about “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” & PBS Kids series “Arthur”

Jodie Resther is known best for her role of Kiki in “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”. She is also the voice of Francine Alice Frensky in the PBS Kids series “Arthur” for over 20 years.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jodie about “Are You Afraid of the Dark” and her voice over work in “Arthur”.

Eric Bauza talks voicing Bugs Bunny on Looney Tunes Shorts & working on Ducktales & Muppet Babies

Eric Bauza is the current voice of Bugs Bunny in Looney Tunes Shorts. He also voices Daffy Duck / Marvin the Martian / Tweety Pie for the show.

Eric also voices Fozzie in Muppet Babies, Master Frown in Unikitty!, Splinter in “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and various voices in Ducktales.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Eric to discuss taking on these iconic roles and talking about voicing his dream role.

Kevin Carlson talks about working on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, Beetlejuice & working with The Muppets

Kevin Carlson is the voice/puppeteer of Clockey / Conky / Floory / Fish and Knucklehead from “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse”. He also worked on projects like “Beetlejuice, Child’s Play 2” and “Team America: World Police”.

Kevin has also worked with Jim Henson on projects like “Muppet*vision 3-D” and is the voice of Timmy the Tooth in “The Adventures of Timmy the Tooth”.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Kevin about his roles and what it was like to work with The Muppets.

Follow Kevin on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/KevinCarlson1962/

Bill Farmer talks about Disney+ series It’s A Dog’s Life, Voicing Goofy & the 25th anniversary of A Goofy Movie

Bill Farmer is a Disney Legend. He has voiced the role of Goofy since 1987 and the voice of Pluto since 1988. He currently has a new show on Disney+ called “It’s A Dog’s Life with Bill Farmer”. He also currently voices over 20 characters on Disney’s “Mickey Mouse Mixed-Up Adventures”.

Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Bill about his new show “It’s a Dogs Life”, voicing Goofy for all these years and reflecting on the 25th anniversary of “A Goofy Movie”.

Television/Streaming Review: ESPN 30 for 30 – “Long Gone Summer’

On September 8, 1998 my son Phillip, his friend Bobby and I drove from Kansas City to St. Louis to take in that evening’s Cardinals/Cubs match-up. We witnessed baseball history when J.D. Drew hit his first career home run. I’ve told this story for over two decades.

Most people know Todd MacFarlane as the creator of the popular SPAWN comics and his amazing toys. He is also a huge baseball fan. We learn that as the film begins with McFarlane bidding almost $3 million to purchase a baseball. But not any baseball. This is the ball hit by Mark McGwire for his 70th home run, at the time a new record. The summer of 1998 was a big one for baseball. After the players strike in 1994 caused the cancellation of the World Series for the first time in history, the game began to draw fans back in 1995 when Baltimore Oriole Cal Ripken, Jr. played in his 2131st consecutive game. But the summer of 1998 is the one that drew fans, old and new, to the game. It was the summer McGwire and Chicago Cub Sammy Sosa swung their way into the history books.

“Long Gone Summer” not only chronicles both players assault on Roger Maris’ then-record of 61 home runs in a season, but the effect the challenge had on America. People that had sworn off baseball after the strike left a bitter taste in their mouth began to pay attention to the game again, while people who had never shown interest began to watch. Having been in Camden Yards when Ripken set his milestone I was already a fan so I followed the exploits of McGwire and Sosa daily, ensuring that ESPN’s SPORTCENTER was a must-see every night.

As the film follows McGwire, Sosa and, for a time, Ken Griffey, Jr, it also talks with some baseball fans who are household names, among them Bob Costas and George Will. Also interviewed are Roger Maris’ sons, as well as Cardinal’s broadcasters Jack Buck (though archival footage) and Mike Shannon. The race had a personal feel to Shannon, who had been a Cardinal teammate of Roger Maris in the mid 1960s.

But the big voices here belong to the two players themselves. McGwire explains his lifelong desire to hit the ball far while Sosa talks about the fun he had. What they don’t talk about are the accusations that both were using performance enhancing drugs. In fact, in a show that runs almost 1 3/4 hours, PED’s are not mentioned until the 45 minute mark, when a container of Androstenedione is spotted in McGwire’s locker. He brushes the questions off, noting that Andro is available over the counter. It’s almost another 45 minutes before the subject comes up again.

Of the two players, McGwire comes off the best. He is insightful in looking back at what he describes as both the best, and worst, time of his life. Sosa, speaking perfect English – when he testified before Congress he had to have his attorney read his statement, as he felt his English wasn’t strong -is more concerned with relaying the fun times he had that summer. Archival interviews with both – again with Sosa speaking English like a native – gives a look into the love and respect Big Mac and Slammin’ Sammy had for each other. As the season ends, McGwire finishes with 70 home runs, Sosa with 66. Sosa would hit 63 the next year and Baroid Bonds would hit 73 in 2001. By then, the PED cat was out of the bag and, in the almost 20 years since Bonds, no one has hit 60 home runs in a season.

Given an opportunity to confirm whether or not he juiced, Sosa will only say that “Everybody was doing them.” After years of denial, in 2010 McGwire admitted to using PED’s. His admission and apology seemed sincere to me. So much so that I can tell you that, on September 8, 1998, my son Phillip, his friend Bobby and I drove from Kansas City to St. Louis to take in that evening’s Cardinals/Cubs match-up. We witnessed baseball history when Mark McGwire hit his 62nd home run of the season over the left field fence, directly below where we were sitting. No disrespect to J.D. Drew, but this story is more exciting.

“Long Gone Summer” airs this Sunday night at 8:00 pm EST on ESPN and will stream directly afterwards on ESPN+.

Television/Streaming Review: ESPN 30 for 30: BE WATER

I’m old enough to remember watching Bruce Lee as Kato on television’s “The Green Hornet” when it originally aired on ABC. T o me he was just a cool guy who wore a mask and kicked ass. But there was a lot more to Lee, as both an actor and a person, and those remarkable qualities are revealed in the latest ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, BE WATER.

We first meet Lee as he is completing a screen test in 1964. He is quite and soft spoken but, when he is asked to demonstrate some of his martial arts skills, he is a tornado. Even in these few minutes of film, you can see the legend that lie ahead.

Born in San Francisco (his father was a popular Chinese actor and opera performer), Lee’s family returned to Hong Kong shortly after his birth. Like most children, Lee had a mischievous side and his father allowed him to begin acting in films as a child in hopes of curbing his rambunctious attitudes. Finding his idea unsuccessful, his father sends him to Seattle to attend college. It is there that he begins the journey that most fans know. But there is also a lot they don’t and that is revealed here in Lee’s own words. Using archival interviews and quoting his letters, read by his daughter, Shannon, we learn that Lee was a very philosophical man who yearned to bridge the racial prejudice felt in America. He wanted to be able to share and express his culture and was tired of seeing such actors as Mickey Rooney, Marlon Brando and John Wayne portraying Asian characters on screen, usually in ridiculous make up.

Lee’s short-lived small screen stardom begins to fade and he is hopeful for the lead in an upcoming program to be called “Kung Fu.” When he is passed over for the role in favor of David Carradine – we hear the show’s producer proclaim that he could not find an Asian actor he felt could handle the role, he takes his family to Hong Kong,, where he will soon make film history.

BE WATER gets it’s title from a philosophy that Lee often shared in interviews. Water, he notes, is the softest substance on Earth, yet it is strong enough to penetrate rock. It takes the shape of whatever vessel it finds itself in. The film is full of amazing archival footage and the story is told through conversations with not only Lee’s daughter and widow, Linda, but various friends and former students, including Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

On July 20, 1973, Bruce Lee died. 10 days later, “Enter the Dragon” was released, making him an international superstar, ironically a term Lee disliked. His impact on pop culture and racial acceptance is still being felt today. With the current situation the nation, and the world, finds itself in, we could use a man like him today.

BE WATER airs this Sunday night at 9:00 pm EST on ESPN. It will stream afterwards on ESPN+. Don’t miss it!

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