This weekend, Marvel finally goes cosmic as "Guardians of the Galaxy" soars into theaters across the nation. Chris Pratt is now an action star and the geeks are rejoicing. Though I guess it's now just the geeks: with a healthy Rotten Tomatoes score, "Guardians" is one of Marvel Studios' best-reviewed films to date. Will it break August box office records? It very well might.
Latest Blog Posts
It’s safe to say that “Guardians of the Galaxy” score composer Tyler Bates has never written a cue titled “What A Bunch Of A-holes” before. “That’s James Gunn,” Bates laughs, referring to the movie’s director. “That was in his dialog. It was fun.”
The fact that Gunn named a number of the music cues is a testament to the closeness that Bates and Gunn enjoy after working on a trio of Gunn-directed films together: “Slither,” “Super” and now “Guardians.” They met when Bates scored and Gunn wrote Zack Snyder’s “Dawn of the Dead.”
The pair’s working relationship is such that Gunn brought in Bates as soon as the director got the “Guardians” job. “He started telling me his thoughts in terms of tone. He wanted dramatic and thematic,” Bates says. “He asked if I’d be up to writing in advance.” Bates began writing material for the film in March 2013 with Gunn passing along pre-video sequences and often then filming to Bates’ music. The scoring process usually works the opposite way with the composer brought in in during post-production, but when Bates had worked with Gunn on “Super,” and the director had wanted to film the end of the movie to music, so he similarly had Bates work in advance.
Bates’ early start didn’t give him much of a leg up when it came to the work; the film was constantly evolving as editing took place that would render Bates’ previous work obsolete. “You have a tendency to write and re-write and rewrite,” Bates says as the various bosses have their say. “It’s like trying to paint something on a bullet train. There’s the perception that we have endless resources to create, but they are often times limited as to how many players you can have or how much time.”
The sheer volume and layers of sound that Bates worked with are staggering: “At least half the cues in the movie have more than 500 tracks of audio,” he says because of orchestral passages that are doubled or tripled, choirs, overdubs and other instrumentation. “Everyone’s working with a sense of efficiency because there’s no margin for error. We had to be calm and methodical.”
The “Galaxy” score, which is out now on Hollywood Records, cover a wide musical terrain from sweeping orchestral themes to crisp battle marches to celestial, dreamy soundscapes. “It was my most demanding score,” Bates says. “I love James dearly, it was paramount to me to make sure that the score was what he had dreamt it would be…like a space rock opera.”
With all the moving parts and the tight deadlines, Bates admits his overwhelming emotion once he finally finished the score was “relief…My team worked 100 hours per week for four months on end.”
Bates’ favorite cute remains an early piece, “Black Tears” — “Only because I wrote it and sent it to James. They were in pre-production. He called me and he was emotionally moved by it. Those are the moments you show up for,” he says. “This idea had just gown into something and it now has a life. It was establishing a piece of the musical language of what the film is about.”
Not content to have Bates score the movie, Gunn insisted that Bates, who has also scored such films as “300,” “Sucker Punch,” “Watchmen,” and “The Devil’s Rejects,” appear as an extra in the film. “Within three minutes” of getting to the British set, “someone from makeup grabs my hand and 40 minutes later I have dreadlocks and s scar,” he says. His scenes lasted for a day and a half. “It was cool for a minute, but after six hours of standing around,” he admits he was ready for his acting career to end.
While he doesn’t have many comedies on his resume, Bates has written scores for a diverse number of films. One that resonates the most to him personally was Emilio Estevez’s “The Way,” which chronicles a man’s journey as he walks Spain’s sacredEl Camino de Santiago. “People couldn’t believe I did that,” Bates says, “but that’s my natural headspace, that score, when I’m just thinking.” Instead, he jokes, people think “I’m sitting around watching torture movies with Rob [Zombie] all the time.” When, in fact, he adds “I found the whole content of ‘Devil’s Reject’ to be abhorrent. I was thinking ‘Holy hell, this is fu**ed up.’ It was totally disturbing. It’s what Rob intended to do.”
Bates is a bit of a musical every-man and for his palate cleanser following “Guardians” release, he’s headed on the road as lead guitarist with Marilyn Manson to play the European festival circuit. He met Manson after the shock rocker appeared on season six of “Californication,” a show Bates scored for all seven seasons. That meeting led to Bates writing and producing Manson’s current album.
“Films make me completely neurotic,” he says. Going out on tour and hitting the stage “gives me an energy that I can take to the next movie.”
“Big Bang Theory” is hoping to begin production on Season 8 on Wednesday as continue negotiations continue
According to Deadline, there is talk of reducing this season’s episode order from 24 to 23 if production continues to be delayed.
“Dexter’s” David Zayas joins “Gotham”
He’ll play mob boss Salvatore Maroni.
Bryan Cranston was kidding about Walter White — he wants to direct “Better Call Saul,” but isn’t sure about making a cameo
Asked about his May comment on his “Breaking Bad” character, Cranston says: "I think it was on the Ashley Banfield show on CNN, and she brought up the speculation. I was just toying with her and said, 'I don’t know!' which created a whole brushfire of rumor. I don’t think that we’re going to see any kind of rebirth of that show, or that character.” PLUS: “Breaking Bad” festival organizers have run into problems.
“Modern Family’s” Sarah Hyland to co-host the Teen Choice Awards
She’ll co-host with “Teen Wolf’s” Tyler Posey.
Former “Dancing" star Bristol Palin earned $0 in 2013 and 2014
Palin, who also starred in "Bristol Palin: Life's a Tripp” in 2012, is seeking child support from her baby’s father, Levi Johnston.
Simon Cowell may be planning a “World’s Got Talent” competition
The Mirror reports that the top acts from “Got Talent” shows around the world would gather later this year in Mumbai, India.
“Elementary” bringing back “Mad Men’s” Rich Sommer
He’ll reprise his role as one of Sherlock's “irregulars.”
“NYPD Blue’s” Charlotte Ross headed to “Arrow”
She’ll play the mother of Felicity Smoak.
Sam Smith is bringing on the heartache in the video for the sultry “I’m Not The Only One,” the British crooner’s follow-up to top 10 hit, “Stay With Me.”
Fast National ratings for Thursday, July 31, 2014.
With "Big Brother" and a "Big Bang Theory" repeat leading the way, CBS scored its regular Thursday wins in all measures.
The night's big notable was ABC's "The Quest," which got off to a soft start, particularly among male viewers.
Thursday returns were on the low side, with "Big Brother" losing a couple viewers but remaining flat in the key demo, "Welcome to Sweden" dipping and "Gang Related" falling a bit without "Hell's Kitchen" as a lead-in. ABC's "Rookie Blue" was also down in viewers.
The news was slightly better for ABC's "NY Med," which rose a bit overall.
On to the numbers...
Kathie Lee Gifford producing a “Today” musical
The 18-minute “Today: The Musical” will feature a cameo by Regis Philbin, who was filling for Hoda Kotb this morning.
ABC’s “The Quest” has a disappointing debut
Just 2.8 million watched the medieval reality show.
Julia Roberts and Jimmy Fallon throw big balls at each other’s face
Watch the latest “Tonight Show” viral stunt.
“Nathan For You” is auctioning off its “Dumb Starbucks” art
You can own some of Nathan Fielder’s parody “art pieces.”
Here’s your 1st look at the movie Jon Stewart directed last summer
Gael García Bernal stars in “Rosewater.”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus got in trouble with Facebook over her naked Rolling Stone cover
The “Veep” star talks to Letterman about the John Hancock controversy and getting locked out of Facebook after spoofing her cover with a naked baby.
Kerry Washington gives Jimmy Fallon the “Scandal” season premiere script
The only problem: nearly everything was redacted. PLUS: Kimmel bussed his entire audience 5 miles to watch Tom Petty perform at Sony Studios in Culver City.
Read Nathan Fillion’s forward to Joss Whedon’s biography
"Joss Whedon's version of a hero doesn't always win. He loses more than he wins,” Fillion explains in the forward to "Joss Whedon: The Biography.”
It turns out that being held for late May and then burnt off at a rate of two episodes per week wasn't a kiss of death for "Undateable."
The multi-cam comedy has been renewed for a second season with the news breaking, as it so often seems to, via Twitter on Thursday (July 31) evening, starting with star Chris D'Elia, followed by executive producer Bill Lawrence, whose optimism for the future of "Undateable" never waned.
First off, special thanks to Ryan McGee for filling in last week when Louis and I were up to our necks in Comic-Con.
Second off, can we please put an end to Caleb/Amber as an available pairing? Other than serving as stealth promotion for CBS' "Stalker," the non-showmance has accomplished nothing beyond sheer creepiness. And since "Stalker" is horrible, I'm not sure that stealth promotion for it is something I want to endorse away.
Will the hamsters send Amber home?
Let's find out...
“It’s Always Sunny’s” Rob McElhenney is coming to “The Mindy Project”
He’ll guest as Ike Barinholtz’s cousin.
Brands tried jumping on the “Sharknado 2” bandwagon
Companies from Victoria’ Secret to Bud Lite to Dominoes to Ritz crackers all had “Sharknado”-themed tweets on hand during the Syfy movie. PLUS: Tara Reid releasing “Shark” perfume, why “Sharknado 2” was so glorious, where does it rank among sh*tty movies?, “Sharknado 2” inspires Internet memes, the ratings weren’t spectacular, and “Sharknado 2” is the future of television.
“Homeland” adds Mark Moses, plus 2 others
The “Desperate Housewives” and “Mad Men” alum will join Indian actress Nimrat Kaur and “True Lies” star Art Malik in Season 4.
“Mad Men” is No. 1 in viewers skipping ads
TiVo compiled a list of the Top 10 TV shows for ad-skipping from the first half of this year, and AMC had three and FX had three.
“Once Upon a Time” unveils “Frozen” photos
Check out Sven the reindeer.
“Lost” has been huge for Hawaii’s economy
Not only did the ABC drama help Hawaii get through the recession, but it also led to other TV shows and movie projects to film on the islands.
Watch Julia Louis-Dreyfus & Jerry Seinfeld sing a duet of “Sixteen Going On Seventeen” from 2000
“The Late Show” today posted this clip from its archives. PLUS: Louis-Dreyfus talked to Dave about “Seinfeld” turning 25.
UCLA flooding forces Teen Choice Awards to seek a new home
This year’s show was scheduled to take place Aug. 10 at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion, which is currently recovering from water damage.
Watch Stephen Colbert give “Ask a Grown Man” advice
Colbert answered questions from teens about growing up in a special web video. PLUS: James Franco tried to get Colbert to break character.
Robin Roberts’ alleged stalker arrested
Troy Warren, 42, shows up outside ABC’s Times Square studios eight times last month, claiming the “GMA” star owed him money.
Why do people hate Allison Williams?
Is the “Girls” and “Peter Pan Live” star too closely identified with Marnie?
Uzo Aduba: I never wanted to play “Crazy Eyes” as “crazy”
Read what the “Orange is the New Black” star said in her Reddit AMA. PLUS: Laverne Cox talks about her Emmy nomination with Seth Meyers.
Bravo to begin showing “Real Housewives of Melbourne”
The Australian spinoff debuts on Sunday.
“Nathan For You” actually does have good business tips
As Christy O’Shoney notes, "for a show that mocks American marketing strategies, 'Nathan for You' offers some surprisingly savvy entrepreneurial advice. Watching this show has almost made me want to launch my own company just so I can put these biz tips into action.” PLUS: How “Nathan For You” blows up reality TV.
“The Quest” is the inevitable “Game of Thrones”-inspired reality show
The ABC series mixes reality with Medieval Times. PLUS: Why medieval fiction and reality TV should never meet.
SundanceTV’s timely “The Honorable Woman” manages to navigate the complex Israel-Palestine conflict
"Any series that takes on the Israel-Palestine conflict and does not immediately wander into a morass has accomplished something difficult,” says Willa Paskin. "It takes its subject absolutely as seriously as it should, and in the endless complexity of motivation, the depth of grievance, the weight of history, the impossibility of honor—it oversimplifies very little.” PLUS: Its themes or both topical and eternal, it’s a lavish homage to John le Carré, and it’s Maggie Gyllenhaal’s best performance yet.
Is Janet Jackson back in the studio working on her first album since 2008’s “Discipline?”
According to her sound engineer, the answer is a resounding yes. In an interview with Barefoot Sound (h/t Idolator), Grammy-winning producer/engineer Ian Cross says he has been recording Jackson around the world.
“We’ve been working in Qatar. We’ve been working in Paris, the Middle East, and now we feel like we can work anywhere,” he says.
As far as the direction, he says “we’re going to be doing things that are completely unexpected that nobody’s seen before… The new album is going to be great. It’s a process. There’s a lot in store, yet to come. I can’t go into too many details but I think Janet Jackson’s fans are going to be very excited about the new album, and I think people who don’t know her as fans are going to be excited about it, too. The new paradigm of music, the real people in music now, are blending technology and music together. It’s becoming more and more seamless.”
The two first began working together in 2007, when he produced the vocals for “Discipline.” He now works full time for Jackson.
Mike Leigh's 1996 drama "Secrets & Lies" is a very good movie, at times even a great movie. It's full of great performances, rich thematic underpinnings and, like so many Mike Leigh films, fine naturalistic dialogue.
But then it also has that scene where Timothy Spall's Maurice wails, "Secrets and lies! We're all in pain! Why can't we share our pain? I've spent my entire life trying to make people happy, and the three people I love the most in the world hate each other's guts, and I'm in the middle! I can't take it anymore!"
I've never quite been sure what Mike Leigh wanted that speech to accomplish.
Did he really think, "Without this, nobody will know why we called this movie 'Secrets & Lies' and audiences will leave disgruntled"?
Did he think, "Yes, viewers will probably get what the movie is about, but there's no harm in underlining it just a little"?
Or did he just figure that speech was the key to Spall getting an Oscar nomination and he left it in because we all know Mike Leigh is deeply invested in award recognition for his movies?
I tend to suspect option "B," because nobody ever placed the requirement of "subtlety" on great art. Sometimes artists like to make sure they're understood, even if a largely inert sponge probably would have gotten the point anyway.
Hugo Blick's eight-part miniseries "The Honorable Woman" -- I really, really want to call it "The Honourable Woman," but once you open the door to British spelling, that door can never be closed -- is a nuanced and occasionally gripping political thriller bursting with strong performances, anchored by the clearly Emmy-worthy Maggie Gyllenhaal. It's also really, really worried that you won't understand what's happening beneath-the-surface and I'm not sure that I've ever seen a movie or TV program spend so much time directly articulating and then repeating its underlying themes.
It's an odd combination, because while writer-director-producer Blick has almost no faith in the audience's ability to parse this text for its message on truth, lies, secrets and the Middle East, he's reasonably confident that viewers will be able to follow a fragmented narrative that withholds key pieces of information for long stretches. So "The Honorable Woman" is probably the most subtle and least subtle thing you're likely to watch on TV this month, which actually makes it of a piece with a lot of SundanceTV's original programming, which could practically have the tagline, "Pay Close Attention: We're Only Going To Tell You This 50 Times." [SundanceTV placed two shows in my Top 10 for 2013, so don't take this necessarily as a damning criticism. I like things that are both obtuse and willing to beat you over the head with a mallet.]
More on "The Honorable Woman" after the break...