Comic-Con 2014: What to Expect This Year


Frankly, I don't know what to expect this year (my eighth!) because my schedule won't allow me to get an early start on the geekfest that is Comic-Con.

Well, maybe I do...Complaints about the line to get into Hall H. Sweating my ass off while trying to cross the street and carry a bag of swag I don't really need. And attempting to meet up with acquaintances amidst the crowds of cosplayers and nerds in need of deodorant.

However, I do have one thing penciled in my schedule: On Saturday I will be transformed into a zombie courtesy of the make-up team from The Walking Dead (for a piece I'll be writing). I'm already brainstorming hashtags and Instagram captions for the inevitable photos. Stay tuned.

And if you still don't know what Comic-Con is at this point, then why are we friends?

@TheFirstEcho


THE DREAMERS: The 2014 Summer Playlist, Vol. 2


Before I head off to Comic-Con to conclude this madcap month I wanted to squeeze out another curated collection of tunes for the remainder of the summer. Much like the box office, the music scene this season hasn't been too bountiful.

But what's aplenty is Adam Levine; here he appears twice, first with Maroon 5 and then on a breezy track from the Begin Again soundtrack. (Check it out. Really.) What else? Your standard alt-dance-pop, Ariana Grande's latest, a breathtaking Whitney Houston cover, and -- get this -- a soulful hipster rendition of Blackstreet's "No Diggity" from 2013.

1. "Maps" by Maroon 5
2. "Break Free" by Ariana Grande feat. Zedd
3. "Stranger" by Chris Malinchak feat. Mikky Ekko - Close your eyes. Nope, that's not another long-lost Michael Jackson track you're listening to:



4. "Blink" by Cascada
5. "Sideways" by Wrabel:



6. "No One Else Like You" by Adam Levine
7. "Enjoy the Ride" by Krewella
8. "Hideaway" by Kiesza
9. "Reverse" by Somekindawonderful:



10. "Hungry Eyes" by NONONO
11. "Born to Run" Afrojack feat. Tyler Glenn
12. "She Came To Give It To You" by Usher feat. Nicki Minaj
13. "How Will I Know" by Sam Smith
14. "Talking to Ghosts" by Foxes
15. "Cool Kids" by Echosmith
16. "Faded" by Zhu
17. "Extraordinary" by Clean Bandit feat. Sharna Bass

18. "Bo$$" by Fifth Harmony - With lyrics like "Michelle Obama, purse all heavy with Oprah dollars," how could I not include this piece of irresistible trash?

19. "No Diggity" by Chet Faker
20. "Start Again" by Blake Lewis
21. "I Will Never Let You Down" by Rita Ora

@TheFirstEcho


Why 'Gone Girl' Owes Its Plot Twists to 'Knots Landing'


*UPDATED 8/3/14

First things first: yes, there are SPOILERS ahead.

Second things second: yes, I'm pulling out a reference to a TV show that hasn't been on the air in 21 years.

Like many of you, I have become one of those rabid readers of Gone Girl. I can honestly say I haven't been this entertained by a book in a long time. True, it took me some time to get through it (my schedule isn't what it used to be), but I found it to be deliciously devious and wicked.

And because my pop culture brain works the way it does, I couldn't help but flashback to a similar plot development that unfolded on the 1979-93 CBS drama Knots Landing. For those of you who read the book (HERE COMES THE SPOILER), seemingly pleasant and sane Amy Dunne fakes her death to frame her husband, Nick, after she finds out that he's been a weasely little prick sneaking around with a younger woman he can't seem to quit.

The end of the ninth season and the beginning of the tenth season of the long-running primetime soap saw seemingly pleasant and sane Jill Bennett (Teri Austin) fake her disappearance to frame her boyfriend, Gary Ewing, after she realizes he can't break off his relationship with a woman he can't seem to quit (in this case, his ex-wife, Val).

After failing to get rid of Val altogether (as seen in the above video), Jill takes to her kidnapping idea by tying herself up and locking herself in the trunk of Gary's car. Unfortunately, this psycho bitch (a term frequently used in the book) didn't take into consideration that she could suffocate in there -- and that's what happens. She inadvertently frames Gary for her own death. The whole storyline kicked off a niftily crafted murder mystery infused with the show's signature suburban angst (things get started at the :23 mark below).
The similarities don't stop there either. On Knots, before Jill went off her rocker and nearly killed Val, she sleeps with a man in another city to give herself an alibi and her story more credibility. In Gone Girl, Amy sleeps with someone from her past in order to keep her story believable when she returns to her imperfect husband.
That said, I cannot wait to see David Fincher's adaptation this fall. I hear the ending has been changed, but I trust that author Gillian Flynn, who also penned the screenplay, will give us fans something satisfying.
But in the end, maybe all of this was just an excuse for me to wax nostalgic on Knots. God I loved that show.

@TheFirstEcho


Pop Culture Rant of the Week: I'll Take a Decaf Ariana Grande, No Whip


Three things on my mind:

1. Ariana Grande: I enjoy her. I really do ("Break Free" is a fine choice as a second single from her upcoming album). But someone needs to school her in On-Screen Charisma, especially when it comes to her music videos.  In "Problem," she appears a little unsure of herself, especially when singing on top of a white staircase and attempting to keep up with the little choreography she's been given. Maybe it's just me: I came of age during the 90s, a time when music videos featured killer moves and a whole lotta swag (see: Janet Jackson's "If," Britney's "Drive Me Crazy," and BSB's "Everybody"), not some bend-at-the-knee wiggle with manic ponytail flipping. I get it: Miss Grande isn't a dancer, and if you caught her abbreviated performance during the Macy's 4th of July Spectacular, you'll see why her directors should come up with something that showcases more of her voice.


2. The New Rosie O'Donnell/Elisabeth Hasselback War: Methinks Elizabeth is a little drunk on the  punch Fox News has been feeding her since she left The View earlier this year. The conservative blonde is clearly showing her true colors (shades of what I call Stick-Up-The-Ass Scarlet).

3. The Emmy Nominations: Once again, The Snub Heard Around The World belongs to Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany. TV Academy, what do you have against a talented actress who has brilliantly succeeded at accomplishing an acting feat never before seen on television? BBC America, do you need some extra funds pumped into your FYC campaign budget? What gives?

@TheFirstEcho


Random Thought of the Week #34


I'm kind of obsessed with seeing this cult disaster movie after a coworker mentioned it at lunch earlier today.

#1. It takes place in the same L.A. neighborhood as my office.

#2. You get to see Johnnie's Coffee Shop as a working establishment!

#3. And holy crap! Is that Tasha Yar from Star Trek: TNG?

Boys and girls, I give you Miracle Mile:


@TheFirstEcho


What I'm Reading: 'Gone Girl'


I'm halfway through Gillian Flynn's mega-bestseller about a hotshot pop culture journalist who may or may not have murdered his wife, a privileged beauty who comes from money.

Yes, I believe it's a perfect summer read (I consumed most of it on my recent 5-city road trip). I really like the alternating points of view between Nick and Amy. If you ask me, I think they're both self-centered sycophants who clearly don't deserve each other.

No, I haven't watched the new trailer for David Fincher's anticipated adaptation starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike (I've already seen the teaser and hate that my imagination has been tainted by the visuals).

Yes, I have my theories on how it ends.

No, I'm not going to share them with you here.

Yes, I think it's a gripping read. There are only one or two literary phenomenons I attempt to tackle each year before the movie version comes out, and I can safely assume that this slick piece of suspense is light years beyond any of those Divergent books.

@TheFirstEcho


FLASHBACK: My Summer of '94


It was the summer I fell in love with a movie about a speeding bus driven by Sandra Bullock, was introduced to Dave Matthews Band (and a chocolate-loving Southerner named Forrest Gump), and agonized over the fate of Billy and Alison's relationship after she left him at the altar to confront her sexually abusive father on Melrose Place.

The summer of '94 was also my last summer as an innocent eighth grader. High school was an intimidating reality that was creeping up on me, and I did everything I could to enjoy those last days of freedom. I was too young to get a summer job yet too old to endure another several months of day camp. What was a 14-year-old to do? This: ride my bicycle throughout the neighborhood, make X-Files-themed mixtapes, and nurture my Aaron Spelling addiction by tuning into the Melrose spin-off Models Inc. every week.

That summer also saw the peak of my obsession with all things R.L. Stine. If Terence Malick were to direct an abstract film based on my childhood memories it would include flashes of riding in the passenger seat of my mother's Pontiac 6000-LE station wagon while cradling a paperback copy of 99 Fear Street: The House of Eviltaking in the saxophone solo of "Ants Marching," and sipping from a Boku juice box.

And who could escape this bespectacled chick?


1994, where did you go? I miss you.

@TheFirstEcho


Theme Song of the Month: July 2014


July is a busy time of year for me. There are film festivals to attend (hello, Outfest), birthdays to celebrate (besides America's), and Comic Con to experience (get ready, San Diego). That's why I'll be needing something to help me get through it all, a tune to bring me back down to Earth.

"No One Else Like You" is that song. Taken from the soundtrack to Begin Again, this Adam Levine solo is perfect for a summery chillout session under a string of lights on the rooftop of your friend's apartment while knocking back a few glasses of wine. The soundtrack itself is also quite the surprise (Cee-Lo and Keira Knightley - who knew?) and I'm looking forward to seeing the film and watching a disheveled Mark Ruffalo (the best kind of Mark Ruffalo) play a record exec who needs to clean up his act.

Enjoy:


@TheFirstEcho


Today in Trivial Anniversaries: 'Models Inc.' Turns 20


As we all know, in the early 90s, Beverly Hills 90210 begat Melrose Place, which then begat this gloriously campy train wreck we call Models Inc.

"If you missed the series premiere of Models Inc. you missed a night of temptation, seduction, and murder," said the TV Guide ad for the second episode, which aired 20 years ago this week. (How do I remember? I collected clippings for my TV show scrapbook, naturally.) A murder mystery kicked things off when been-around-the-block model Teri Spencer was pushed off the balcony of a Los Angeles high-rise. Whodunit? Who cared? But if you must know: it was the receptionist...with the candlestick...in the...nevermind.

I consumed this forgettable piece of Clinton-era trash with relish. I read every entertainment magazine that publicized and anticipated its debut on Fox during the summer of 1994. And while other 14-year-olds were shooting hoops down the street, I was obsessing over catty lines of dialogue and studying cheesy plot devices for the development of my own primetime soaps I kept handwritten in small spiral notebooks.

The titular modeling agency was run my Hilary Michaels (Dallas alum Linda Gray), mother of Melrose's main bitch, Amanda Woodward. Her bevy of babes was as diverse as a sorority at WGU (White Girl University); there was the newbie, the waif, the bitch, and the has-been (at age 27). Then there was Teri's lookalike, Monique (played by the same actress - hey Stephanie Romanov!) who popped up, threw everyone for a loop, and fell in love with millionaire widower Adam Louder. And of course, Emma Samms showed up for the last batch of episodes to spice things up as Grayson Louder, back from the grave to win back Adam. But what does a desperate British broad with ample cleavage do when she fails to rewrap her legs around the man who fathered her child? Hire a hit man (The X-Files's Mitch Pileggi!) to snuff him out along with his fiancee -- at their wedding.

And who could forget that awesomely 90s opening theme song? I didn't. I have it saved as an mp3 in my iTunes library (filed under Primetime Soap Themes):
 

And in other news, I'm still single.

@TheFirstEcho