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Author: Katy Caldwell (1-10 of 14)

To add color or not: That is the question

Over the weekend, I saw the music video for Grand Ole Party’s new single "Look Out Young Son," and was mesmerized by its haunting black-and-white images of what appears to be an old Western speakeasy full of ghostly white children and vagabonds:

Yesterday I went online to find the video so I could watch it again, and lo and behold, I found another version that turned out to be the director’s cut. This version was in big, bold color, with saturated golds and reds throughout. It also had a new intro, a little girl who skips up to an old-time Kinetoscope and peeks in to watch the show. Well, it just so happens the director, Manny Marquez, is my neighbor, so I immediately got in touch with him to get the full story behind the competing versions. Here is what he had to say:

"’Look Out Young Son’ is basically a blues song. To me, it’s as if Kristin, the singer of Grand Ole Party, was a female Robert Johnson at the Crossroads making that deal with the Devil. The camera we were using — circa 1860′s style, and with a 140-year-old lens — was only capable of creating black-and-white images in its day, and had done that with photographs since the Civil War. By using an HD camera to shoot the image off the camera’s back plate, we were capturing what a photographer would have seen on the plate if Grand Ole Party had walked into the photo studio in 1865. Literally, a 19th-century HD image! Then we went beyond the chemical limitations of that camera, and focused on the optical ones, and that is what resulted in our color version.

"The band decided they wanted the final version to be in black-and-white. They were fans of 1920′s German films, and wanted that kind of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari vibe. What we had done in color is entirely unique photographically, and in black-and-white, it was back where we started, in the 1800′s. I realized I needed to stop focusing on the original idea and make it work for everyone, so this is what we did: We had seen some portraits a former professor had done for a movie that were printed on silver paper, and even though the images were black-and-white, they seemed elevated somehow. We decided to transfer that idea to video. In the end, the band’s official release of the video isn’t black and white to me, it’s black and silver!"

PopWatchers, does it matter to you if there is an artist’s cut and a director’s cut for a video or movie? Do you prefer old black-and-white films over color? Or is good art just good art, and let’s leave it at that?

On the Scene: 'Mortified' on Valentine’s Day

Mortified_lI have recently become smitten with the monthly stage show Mortified Live, billed as a "comic excavation of teen angst artifacts as shared by their original authors before total strangers." So, it was fitting that I spent my Valentine’s Day at their "Doomed Valentines Show" in Los Angeles. The night only made my heart grow fonder. One by one, brave men and women took the stage to share their torrid teen tales of failed relationships and crushes gone awry. A few included some hilarious visuals such as drawings (think stick figures intertwined in a Honeymoon "Sweet" with a heart-shaped bed, jacuzzi, and fireplace) and video confessionals (a high school senior sporting a mullet and yellow trenchcoat lip-synching "Wait" by White Lion in the hopes that it will win over the girl of his dreams. Watch it here).

Of course, the night had me thinking about my own teen crushes and how thankful I am that those diaries are long gone, never to be read again (you’re welcome, former object of my affection, T.C. Smith). Which makes Mortified all the more enthralling. How do these people bare their souls and expose, as Marcia Brady would say, their "innermost secrets" to a public who will only laugh at their past misery? There are even two Mortified books: the new Love is a Battlefield and Real Words, Real People, Real Pathetic, where individuals offer up their embarrassing journal entries and include photos from their teen-angstiest times.

Please don’t let this stop you from confessing anything crush-cringe-worthy in our comment section. I guess we’ve all been there and are finding comfort in the humor that was our youthful past. I look forward to next month’s edition and hope the show will "promise to never forsake me (ahahah, okay, that last portion was ripped off from an e-mail a boy once sent me. A boy who TOTALLY forsook ME)". Mortified’s monthly events run in various cities across the U.S. Be warned: tickets, like young love, go fast!

All you want for Christmas (TV fantasy-wise) is...

Takehome_lMy TV Christmas fantasy goes a little something like this:

I’m in Home Depot perusing new bathroom sinks when–out of nowhere–I’m ambushed by this dark-haired guy with a British accent and a camera crew. He tells me he’s Andrew Dan-Jumbo (pictured, left), host of TLC’s Take Home Handyman, and he offers to remodel my bathroom for free! I feign ignorance (even though I think about the show every time I visit “The HD”) and we hop in his van.

On our way home I ask, “Is it okay if we stop by Whole Foods? I just need to grab something for dinner.” Andrew drops me at the store, I run inside, and while I’m perusing the wine section, I’m stopped by a blond Australian guy with a camera crew. This time it’s Curtis Stone the host of TLC’s Take Home Chef. He asks me if I’m planning a dinner for someone tonight. Again I pretend to have no idea who he is (even though I think about the show every time I’m in “The WF”), give a shy smile and respond, “Why yes I am. For my handyman!” Then Curtis says he’d like to prepare a gourmet meal for us — on his dime!

Cut to my home: I’m sitting in a comfy chair with my feet propped up, drinking a fruity cocktail; Andrew goes to town on my bathroom; Curtis has at in my kitchen. Every now and again, they call me into their respective areas to show me some culinary trick or DIY tip. I act interested. It’s a whirlwind of heavily accented activity!

We take a break to eat the delicious vegetarian meal that includes all of my favorite things (carbs). After the best dessert in the world, I am presented with my brand new state-of-the-art bathroom (something Zen-inspired with a big tub). Also, Andrew tells me, the room magically cleans itself!

But wait, there’s more! Curtis tells me I’m getting a lifetime supply of expensive champagne, and we all drink a toast. Then Andrew surprises me by slyly remodeling my laundry room while I’m not looking! We drink champagne well into the night, sing goofy Christmas carols and…well, you get the idea. Finally, I hear them exclaim as they drive out of sight (that is, if I let them leave) “Merry Christmas to you and have a good rest of your night!”

Sigh.

Tell me I’m not the only one obsessed with Take Home Chef and Take Home Handyman. Or at least make me feel less ridiculous and confess your own TV Christmas fantasy.

On the Scene: Beastie Boys at The Greek Theatre

Beastie_lA gentle Los Angeles breeze blew over the crowd as we filed in to The Greek Theatre to support the Beastie Boys, currently on tour for their new CD The Mix Up. And support them we did! The minute Adrock, Mike D, and MCA took to the stage, performing “The New Style” from 1986’s Licensed to Ill, the smell of skunk weed permeated the grounds and people began screaming, bouncing, and throwing their hands in the air (uh-huh, like they just didn’t care)! At one point, I even found my usually reserved self pointing my index finger straight up into the sky and shouting a long, exaggerated “FRESHHHHHHHHH!” when instructed to do so by the stylish Mike D (pictured, right). Outside of sporting events, I’ve rarely seen this much excitement and activity from my peers.

The show was all high jinks and high energy as the boys treated us to many a hit (so many, that some had to be tossed into an occasional medley) and introduced us to a few new numbers, such as “Suco de Tangerina.” And all of the old magic is there: Adrock (pictured, left) is still the charmer; ad-libbing at the end of “I grabbed two girlies and a beer that’s cold!…and it was LOVELY!!” (from "Paul Revere") and remembering to give L.A.’s Atwater Village (home of their old recording studio) a proper shout-out. Mike D is still all charisma and energy, whether fronting the punk-rock “Heart Attack Man” or taking over the drums for “Gratitude.” And MCA is still liquid and laid-back, leaving most of the antics to his cohorts and chomping on gum throughout the night.  It was also a treat to see Money Mark on keyboards and Mix Master Mike behind the turntables.

With so much material under their belts, the Beasties have made this current tour a combination of their usual sets (a variety of rap, instrumental and punk) and exclusive instrumental dates (like tonight’s show at L.A.’s The Wiltern). For a good time, ch-check them out.

addCredit(“Beastie Boys: Dan Steinberg/AP”)

Never mind 'Umbrella,' what's YOUR song of summer 2007?

It seems like every year we have an EW.com roundtable discussion about the songs of summer, and they are always in the vein of "Fantastic Voyage," "Hella Good," and this year’s "Umbrella." Those songs are just fine to head-bop to during those steamy months, but this week it occurred to me that maybe we individually have our own summer songs that are not what the Top 40 radio stations are spoon-feeding us.

My official summer song of 2007 is Nicole Willis and the Soul Investigators’ "If This Ain’t Love." Already popular in Europe (and all over the Internet; watch the video below), Willis’ track has tapped into a mod soul sound (that you may find similar to Amy Winehouse), full of beautiful retro R&B orchestrations and string arrangements. Bonus points for the happy baby coos at the end, a-la Stevie Wonder’s "Isn’t She Lovely." The lyrics are upbeat and dreamy too; no umbrella or trip to rehab required. I NEED to hear it at least once a day!

PopWatchers, what’s your official song of summer 2007?

Everything’s Coming Up Pirates

Pirate_lThis week has been pirate overload for me here at EW.com and PopWatch. Last weekend, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (left) opened to predicted box office madness. Yesterday morning, as I was getting ready for work, Today had guests on from some feminist pirate musical called The Pirate Queen. And last night was the premiere of what could have only been pitched as ‘Think Survivor, only on a ship, not an island and with long, flowy shirts!!’ — CBS’ Pirate Master (second from right)

After all of this a hoopla in a week, my pirate paranoia got the best of me when I started thinking about fashion and music icons. For one thing, there is Kate Moss’ "pirate" line for Topshop. And lately it looks like Interpol’s Carlos D (right) and the Killers’ Brandon Flowers (second from left) both took "The Road to Looking Like a Pirate" class (a.k.a. Pirate Style 101), as is apparent from their longer hair, mustaches, and one of the more popular pirate accessories, the vest. It’s only a matter of time before their hair is flowing, dread-like, and topped with the ever-present bandana (like their forefather Keith Richards, who not only inspired Johnny Depp’s Pirates character but also has a cameo in At World’s End). Or, yikes, the tri-cornered cap.

I feel like the pop pirates are taking over, and I’m drowning in their sea. I don’t know about you, but my fantasies do not include spending lots of time on a rickety, smelly ship with some dirty men covered in barnacles. However, if Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner wants to jump ship and meet me on an island somewhere… well, that could make me rethink my pirate aversion! PopWatchers, are you too seeing only buccaneers? And are there any pop-culture pirates I’ve left out?

On the Scene: Top Models in action!

Models_lOh, the things I do for you, PopWatchers! Last Friday night, after a long day’s work, I headed over to Avalon in Hollywood for Seventeen’s Rock-N-Style Concert and Fashion Show, because the featured models of the evening were none other than America’s Next Top Model “Top Stars”: Eva Marcille (from Cycle 3; she’s dropped the "Pigford" and is now mysteriously using her middle name), twins Michelle and Amanda Babin (Cycle 7), Brittany Brower (Cycle 4), Joanie Dodds (Cycle 6), Brita Peterson (Cycle 4), and Mercedes Yvette (Cycle 2). 

The mission seemed easy enough: Sit through some teen fashions and see what happens when different Top Model cycles collide. There was one small detail I wasn’t privy to: The audience was comprised mostly of teenagers who had won tickets from the magazine to the event. And there was one detail I’d forgotten about teenagers: They squeal. A lot. From the moment they entered the venue and saw cardboard cutouts in the hall, they went crazy. And inside the venue it only escalated, especially when R&B artists Omarion and Marques Houston performed some of their hits. At one point I decided a way to help mute the squealing would be to grab a nice, stiff drink from the bar. But then I was hit with another detail I’d forgotten: Teenagers aren’t old enough to drink. My options were bottled water or Gatorade.

addCredit(“Karl Larsen/FilmMagic.com”)

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Thou Shalt Play This Game With Us

I’m addicted to the Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip song "Thou Shalt Always Kill" because the lyrics are infectious (plus he’s got a crazy Cockney accent, but that’s another story)! The first time I heard it, I almost had a car accident laughing. The second time I almost did too because I was listening so intently to catch EVERY genius line he spat out. How does he speak soooo fast??!!

Originally, I was going to have you PopWatchers tell me which line is your favorite; mine is a toss-up between the lowbrow "Thou shalt not judge a book by its cover/Thou shalt not judge Lethal Weapon by Danny Glover" and "Thou shalt not use poetry, art or music to get into girls’ pants/Use it to get into their heads." Anyway, my editor and I decided that it would be even better to play the game called What Do You, PopWatchers, Insist Thou Shalt Not Do? If you haven’t heard the song already, please give it a listen before you offer your own pop-cultural commandments. I’ll get the ball rolling:

Thou shalt not hate this song!

A Moment of Non-Celeb Related Blogging

Goat_lI’m not going to lie, I spent any free time I had yesterday looking up all of the bad video phone images of Lindsay Lohan’s night out in the ladies’ room at Teddy’s. Good stuff! And here is another truth: Getting paid to look at celebrity pictures for a living is fun. Awesome, even! But after eight years, I just wanted to research something other than television, film, music, and other pop culture related things that I do on a full-time basis.

Thankfully, I had a chance to head out in search of some non-celeb related imagery, and this is what I came up with: a goat on a rock! Okay, the photographer’s description says it’s a Dall sheep, but it looks like a goat to me. Let’s take just a quick moment to look at this adorable animal and think of something non-media-related. Just a minute. Let it all go. That goat is smiling at you. Oh no, that made me think of Brian Fellow

Okay, now back to what’s really important: celebrities making spectacles of themselves…

'Sons of Hollywood,' a.k.a. The Poor Man’s 'Entourage'

Cottoncandy_lI relocated from New York City to Los Angeles a year ago, excited for a different urban experience, yet knowing I was entering the dreaded Mecca of Hollywood youth culture. Having successfully lived here a year avoiding it, I foolishly decided to watch the premier episode of A&E’s dreadful reality show Sons of Hollywood on demand this weekend. An hour later, a little part of me had died inside and a big part of me was embarrassed to be an Angeleno.

The show focuses on a trio of nimrod best buddies: No. 1 is Aaron Spelling’s son (and Tori’s little brother) Randy, who is an aspiring actor and straight stud in these parts (according to the show). Buddy  No. 2 is the really dumb aspiring musician Sean "Stewy" Stewart, a.k.a. Rod Stewart’s son (and Kimberly Stewart’s brother — Woot! I mean, Yuck!). Buddy  No. 3 is some agent guy who I am sure I could look up but I don’t even care, although I will point out that he comes off as the smart one, which isn’t saying much. Anyway, they believe they’re pretty friggin’ special, so much so that the tagline for their show is "Real Life, Only Better" and their theme song, co-written and sung by Stewy, has something to do with being in the in-crowd. I don’t want to go into much detail because I don’t want to give the trio too much attention but here is just a sampling of what goes down in their better-than-us-real-people lives:

In Vegas, after losing all of his money at a card table, Stewy makes a manly toast to "Women, fine wine, fast cars and giving it from behind, baby!"  (Yes he makes a chair humping gesture.) A couple of minutes later, I am not kidding you, as a quiet, daft, skinny, tan, blonde girl stares coyly at the ground, a passive-aggressive cotton-candy-throwing fight ensues between Rod’s son and Aaron’s son. The cotton candy brawl happened because one of them drunkenly said that they were gonna do something to someone with their big you-know-what and then the other retorted something like, "Oh yeah, but first I’m gonna hit you with my big you-know-what," and then cotton candy showed up and they started viciously hurling it back and forth at each other. (Don’t believe me? You can watch it here.) Why was Spelling so harshly cotton-candied? Here is Stewart’s explanation:"There is so much pressure on you, especially when your dad is a huge rock star."

addCredit(“Cotton candy: Philip Reeson / Retna UK”)

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