New York Film Academy (NYFA) Instructor Ben Cohen has had a productive 2018. His sitcom screenplay, The Library, recently made the 2nd Round at the 2018 Austin Film Festival. Additionally, it was a finalist in the New York Screenplay Contest.
Cohen hails from Decatur, Georgia and is currently based in Brooklyn. He has studied at various institutions across the globe, and has honed his comedy chops at Upright Citizen Brigade, among other theaters and playhouse troupes.
In addition to writing and performing, he currently teaches for the Filmmaking school at New York Film Academy’s New York City campus, where he has gained a reputation for being incredibly devoted to both his students and his fellow faculty members. He is also a great role model for the aspiring film school students he teaches, as he balances his position at NYFA with a working career in the film and comedy industry, much like most of the Academy’s experienced, industry-savvy faculty members.
It’s no surprise then that his script for The Library made it to the 2nd Round of the 2018 Austin Film Festival (AFF). The AFF was founded in 1994 and has a focus on screenwriters, and has had judges from Warner Bros., Pixar, ABC Studios, and Nickelodeon in past years.
Ben Cohen Hosting 2018 NYFA Emmy Party in NYC
Cohen’s script was also a finalist for the New York Screenplay Contest, a premiere global screenwriting contest that has introduced numerous talented and unique voices to the industry. Being named as a Finalist or Winner of the contest is a coveted, distinct honor.
Cohen has remained modest about his recent achievements, telling NYFA, “It’s nice to see my writing get some recognition, but it’s important for folks to know rejection isn’t the negative — it’s the norm.”
Expounding on this, he continued, “Much more of your creative life is spent being told that you’re not good enough, but you have to keep writing, and more importantly, keep sharing your writing. I’ve learned to appreciate the good days (like this one) and just keep going. It helps to care about other things. My students know I’m just as happy to talk sports or Bowie as I am to talk about writing.”
Additionally, Cohen was recently featured in a PBS Documentary produced by NYFA alum Ashton Brooks, and he plans to continue writing and pursuing gigs in the industry.
The New York Film Academy congratulates filmmaking instructor Ben Cohen on his recent successes and looks forward to those still yet to come!
The most competitive race in this year’s Emmy Awards wasn’t in any specific category. Rather, it was a heated contest between cable giant HBO and godfather of streaming Netflix to see which media company would win the most Emmys this year.
Several of HBO’s wins came from its new comedy, Barry, starring Bill Hader, a NYFA workshop alum, and Henry Winkler, who both won acting Emmys. Henry Winkler was a guest speaker at our Los Angeles campus (you can also listen to his guest speaker event on the NYFA Podcast, The Backlot).
Other members of the NYFA community involved with this year’s Emmy Awards include Emmy-nominated alum Issa Rae (Insecure) and alum Francesco Panzieri, who has worked on Emmy-nominated Westworld. Additionally, Netflix’s critical and commercial hit Stranger Things was up for several nominations. The nostalgic horror’s cast includes alum Matty Cardarople and NYFA Board Member and Master Class Lecturer Matthew Modine, and the show’s iconic opening titles were in part designed by Emmy-winner and NYFA alum Eric Demeusy.
HBO was the Goliath in this situation — the network has won the most Emmys each year for nearly two decades running. In July, Netflix made headlines when it broke HBO’s 17-year streak of most nominations, with 112 total, to HBO’s 108.
In the end, it came down to the final award of the night, for Best Drama Series — HBO was poised to lose to Netflix by a single Emmy and lose its record. However, Game of Thrones proved victorious, allowing HBO to tie with Netflix, and landing both at the top with 23 Emmys each. Sharing first place is still a huge victory for Netflix, which has been on an upward trend after coming in third in 2016 and second last year. This continues the cultural dominance in longform storytelling that started when COO Ted Sarandos, who spoke with New York Film Academy (NYFA) students earlier this year, shepherded Netflix into the future of original content.
Netflix and HBO weren’t the only big winners. Amazon Studios won its first top award when its original series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel won Best Comedy Series, the first time a streaming-only service has won the category with its own content. Last year, Hulu won the first Best Drama Series Emmy for The Handmaid’s Tale. Ironically, for all its nominations and awards, Netflix still hasn’t won either prize.
All told, the real winners are television viewers, as Peak TV continues its cultural dominance. As HBO CEO Richard Plepler put it, “It’s a wonderful evening for us, but it’s an even better evening for the range of quality great work being recognized in the industry.” While many of the award-winners were white, this year’s nominations did represent a large number of people of color, as well as women in non-acting roles. A step, albeit small, forward for the industry.
The New York Film Academy congratulates all the nominees and winners of the night and looks forward to another year of innovative, exciting storytelling from the industry!
Last Friday, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the honor to be invited to the Netflix Sunset-Bronson Studios for a preview screening of Netflix upcoming series The Innocents followed by an exclusive Q&A with Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos.
Ted has led content acquisition for Netflix since 2000. Since 2013, he led the company’s transition into original streaming content with the launch of House of Cards, Arrested Development, and Orange is the New Black, among numerous other series. Ted has been recognized as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2013, and as an innovator in film acquisition and distribution. Netflix executive Matthew Thunell introduced the pilot. NYFA Director of the Q&A Series Tova Laiter hosted the afternoon.
Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos
Laiter opened the conversation by asking Mr. Sarandos about his unique start in the film industry, from community college for journalism, to running movie rental stores, to where he is now. “It’s a super unlikely path,” Mr. Sarandos said, “I’m always reluctant to give my path… as it wouldn’t make any sense for anyone to try to follow.”
The conversation moved to Netflix’s first original release, the wildly successful House of Cards. Mr. Sarandos spoke fondly of working with David Fincher, saying “He’s exacting. I love, more than anything, somebody who knows what they want, knows what’s important and what isn’t. David never had a wasted conversation or a wasted argument about anything during production.” He also talked about the initial meeting. They pitched Fincher an offer he couldn’t refuse: two seasons of a TV show, with no pilot, and no notes. The only restriction was that he would have to put his name on it. “The bet was that someone who really cared about their brand would really make it great if you gave him the freedom to do that. And that’s what we did.”
One student asked what advice he would give his younger self, just starting out in the industry. Mr. Sarandos talked about how far Netflix and the industry as a whole has come and continue to change. “I don’t know that I ever would have seen far enough ahead to say ‘You should do this, and not that.’ The main thing is, I think, is to be incredibly nimble.”
Tova Laiter & Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos
Laiter ended the Q&A by asking what quality Ted felt led the most to his success. He answered, “Probably curiosity. It’s not necessarily what you know, it’s what you’re willing to figure out… Being humble enough to ask, and not being afraid to look dumb, is how you learn.”
The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Sarandos for inviting us to Netflix for this amazing Q&A.
The Innocents will be streaming starting August 24th – only on Netflix.
Oprah Winfrey at the 75th Golden Globe Awards. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC)
This year’s Golden Globe Awards was clearly different from years past, and not because it was the 75th anniversary ceremony. Nearly all women in attendance, and many of the men, wore all black in a sign of solidarity for the Time’s Up initiative — a response to the gender inequality and sexual harassment prevalent in both the film industry and society as a whole.
A very public groundswell of support for the movement started after initial reports of sexual harassment came out against megaproducer Harvey Weinstein last year. Since then, more and more women and victims of sexual assault are coming forward and being heard after decades of an institutional culture that allowed sexual assault and discrimination to flourish. In addition to accusations against numerous prominent figures in the media, politics, and elsewhere, additional gender inequalities are also being placed front and center — including a sizable gender wage gap and the disproportionately small number of women represented both in Hollywood and political positions of power.
Tarana Burke and Michelle Williams
After #MeToo made clear just how many women are affected by these injustices, Time’s Up was started to take specific actions to work towards finally reversing this trend. Along with the call for women to wear black on the Golden Globes red carpet, Time’s Up is advocating for laws that will punish businesses tolerating harassment, working to balance gender parity in the industry, and starting a legal defense fund to support lower-income women seeking justice for sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.
The Red Carpet at this year’s Golden Globes (Getty)
Wearing black wasn’t a fashion statement. It quickly became apparent to everyone watching the televised Golden Globes on Jan. 7 that the conversation and tone of the night would be dominated by a cause too important to be sidelined, even in the height of Hollywood’s yearly awards season. Several individual moments stuck out from the night that revealed just how deeply both gender inequality and the urgency to correct it run in the entertainment industry’s most powerful circles. Some of these moments include:
Talk show host and this year’s emcee Seth Meyers delivered a straightforward opening monologue in support of Time’s Up and the women of Hollywood, while also acknowledging that as a straight white man, his voice wasn’t the most important in the room.
While live during an E! Network red carpet interview, “Will & Grace” star Debra Messing pointed out that E! was also guilty of a significant wage gap between men and women.
When presenting the Best Director award, Natalie Portman made sure to add in the short but poignant adjective “all-male” before listing this year’s nominees. This is especially noteworthy considering Greta Gerwig — who wasn’t nominated — directed the evening’s Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) award winner, “Lady Bird.” (Gerwig was nominated for Best Screenplay, however, and the film picked up two acting nominations and a Best Actress win for Saoirse Ronan.)
Natalie Portman and Ron Howard
Many women invited social activists as their guests to the ceremony, including #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, eschewing the typical tradition of bringing a significant other or relative — which has sparked its own controversy:
these black & brown activists being used on this red carpet as conversation starters is so jarring. why couldnt they just invite them, let them bring their families, give them the chance to speak?
In addition to wearing black, many of the attendees and presenters displayed Time’s Up pins in support of the movement.
The HBO drama “Big Little Lies” dominated the television categories with a cast of mostly women playing complex female characters with nuanced storylines — something that shouldn’t be all that rare, but sadly is.
Entertainment icon and living legend Oprah Winfrey was presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award — the Globes’ version of a Lifetime Achievement Award — becoming the first woman of color to receive the honor. Winfrey’s acceptance speech roused the room and was a powerful moment in a night of powerful moments, sparking a flurry of trending hashtags and fan speculation about a 2020 presidential run. Winfrey was clearly aware of her platform and influence and focused many of her words on speaking truth to power, the vital importance of a free press, and the significant role diverse role models play for children growing up in a world dominated by faces that do not resemble their own. As an example, she used her own personal experience seeing Sidney Poitier win the Academy Award for “Lillies of the Field.”
These are just some specific instances of a much broader mood and drive dominating the culture right now. As an institution that prepares students for careers in Hollywood and the entertainment industry, the New York Film Academy is especially receptive to Time’s Up and the #MeToo movement. Many of the Golden Globes viewers — and even some nominees, like Issa Rae — were students, alumni, and faculty members.
In 2013, the New York Film Academy researched gender inequality in the film industry and presented its data with an infographic that plainly showed just how serious the problem is. In the intervening years since that infographic was first published, gender inequality has not improved in the film industry. In 2017, Forbes released their annual list of highest-paid actors and actresses. The top 14 were all men, with Emma Stone ranked as the highest-paid actress at #15. A 2016 study found that women — roughly half the population — comprised only 28.7% of all speaking roles in films. Additionally, only 18% of films represented a balanced cast (half the speaking characters being female).
The New York Film Academy prides itself on its diverse body of students, encouraging artists from any number of backgrounds to collaborate and bring together their distinct, personal visions in order to create even stronger, more meaningful stories. Indeed, in 2017 more than half of NYFA’s students were women — a hopeful sign of the industry’s future.
It goes without saying that there is still a lot of work to be done, and a lot of changes that need to be made to both the entertainment industry and the contemporary culture it inhabits. As Oprah Winfrey said in her acceptance speech, telling stories and speaking truth to power is one important way to help bring about these changes. The New York Film Academy encourages those who were previously afraid to use their voice to tell their stories, and to be loud as possible — the time is now.
“Big Little Lies” at the Golden Globes (Photo by @Ramona_Rosales)
On Monday, October 9th, 2017 the New York Film Academy was proud to welcome TV Executive, Jerry London. London is best known for producing “Hogan’s Heroes” and “The Doris Day Show.” He’s directed over three hundred episodes of television, eleven miniseries, and forty TV movies throughout his lengthy career. In addition to working on “Chiefs” with Charlton Hesston and “Ellis Island” with Richard Burton, London earned an Emmy nomination for his work on the twelve-hour mini-series, “Shogun.”
London screened a behind-the-scenes look at the making of “Shogun” for students at our Los Angeles campus. The Q and A was hosted by Associate Chair of Filmmaking, David Newman. The evening’s conversation began with Mr. London’s childhood. On Saturdays, when London was five, he would accompany his uncle to work at the RKO studio lot. “I became fascinated by it. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I always knew I wanted to be in the movie business.”
At first, London tried his hand at art design but found admission to the union difficult to obtain. “You had to be a son or daughter of someone who was already an art designer,” he explained. His uncle thought he ought to try editing. On the RKO lot, London learned to splice film on the Moviola. At nineteen, he landed his first Hollywood gig as an Apprentice Editor on “I Love Lucy.”
After eight years on “I Love Lucy,” London moved to Fox to edit the television program, “Daniel Boon.” The producer of the show, Ed Feldman, then asked London to cut a new pilot. The pilot was “Hogan’s Heroes.” The show ran for six years and London edited every episode.
Feldman altered the course of London’s life once again when he suggested that Jerry become a director. London was not convinced he could direct actors. “I didn’t know much about staging. I knew cameras because I used to shoot stills. I knew editing. What I didn’t know was actors or stage direction. I didn’t have the confidence.” He thought about it and began taking acting lessons. Soon he was directing plays and getting to know the ins and outs of the craft.
After a year, he was still struggling with his confidence when it came to actors. He decided to take psychology courses at a local college. “That was the most valuable thing I ever did in regards to becoming a director. The whole course was about dealing with people, how to understand their thinking, and how to make them have confidence in your speaking.” Now, he was ready to direct. In season four of “Hogan’s Heroes,” London directed his first episode of television.
From there he directed “The Partridge Family,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” and “The Brady Bunch.” These multi-camera comedies were a lot of fun to film, but London aspired to challenge himself with more serious work. “Comedy is a writer’s medium,” London said, “and drama is where the director can move the camera and really set the tone for the piece.”
He decided to take one of the comedy scripts he was hired to direct and shoot it like a drama. He convinced the Director of Photography to take a chance with the network. “At this point, I’d shot 40 episodes (of “Love: American Style”). If I don’t make another one it will be okay.” Six weeks later ABC sent him a letter. He was concerned they hated it and he would be out of a job. Instead, he was hired to direct his first drama.
Now, he was bouncing around back and forth between noted dramas like “Kojak,” “The Rockford Files,” and “The Six Million Dollar Man.” “It was a great education. In those days you shot in six days. As a director, you’re a problem solver and you have to come up with an answer. By the end of those two years, I had a lot of confidence.”
When it was time for questions one student asked, “On a scale of one to one hundred, how much of an actor’s performance is his, and how much is the director.”
“I would say eighty percent of it is his.” London responded.
He said that it is important to give an artist space to create. When he worked with Faye Dunaway on his film, “Ellis Island,” she took out a mirror while rehearsing marks to check up on the work of the Director of Photography. This way she could examine how she looked on camera. The Director of Photography, Jack Hildyard, who also worked on “Bridge Over the River Kwai,” was furious. No one wants to be second-guessed by someone outside of his or her expertise on set.
London did not want to upset or embarrass Dunaway. For the first day, he decided to let it go. As he was watching the dailies he was stunned to discover that Dunaway looked twenty instead of forty. Hildyard was incredible at his job. The following day when Dunaway asked about the dailies London let her know how good she looked and politely told the Academy Award winner she did not need the mirror. Dunaway agreed and they got along famously for the rest of the shoot. “It was the smartest decision I had ever made.”
The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. London for taking the time to speak with our students. His book, “From ‘I Love Lucy’ to ‘Shogun’ and Beyond: Tales From the Other Side of the Camera”, is now available on Amazon.
Since then, he’s worked at KUSA 9NEWS, a major NBC station based in Denver, Colorado. It’s there that Broadway worked as Visual Producer for their heartbreaking yet important continuing coverage of the city’s drug plight. That effort paid off when KUSA’s “Mile High Heroin: Denver’s Struggle with Addiction” earned the team a Heartland Emmy Award.
The Heartland Emmys Awards are an official chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, who famously distribute the Daytime Emmys and Sports Emmys, among several other prestigious ceremonies.
A significant portion of the midwest, including large regions in Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Colorado, is covered by the Heartland Emmys, and the competition each year to win one of the golden statues is always tough.
After his win, Broadway excitedly remarked “None of this would have been possible without NYFA!”
New York Film Academy congratulates the KUSA team and Visual Producer Cody Broadway on their award and applaud their invaluable reporting on Denver’s tragic addiction crisis.
2018 Update: Cody Broadway won two more Heartland Emmy Awards. This year, he took home two awards for Storyteller and Photographer/Editor. Congratulations, Cody!
The audience at the New York Film Academy Gold Coast Campus Mid Year Screening got a double dose of talent on October 13, viewing projects from both its July 2017 Advanced Filmmakers and July 2017 Diploma Filmmakers.
The Advanced Filmmaking students showed off their skill in producing television commercials while the Diploma Filmmaking students showcased a diverse range of non-sync short films.
“We are extremely proud of the work that our Advanced filmmakers have showcased tonight,” remarked Brian Vining, the Deputy Chair of Filmmaking at NYFA Gold Coast. He continued, “We are extremely proud of the work that our Advanced filmmakers have showcased tonight. Many of the television commercials have been conceived, shot and produced to a very high standard and several were indistinguishable from industry standard productions.”
NYFA Gold Coast prides itself in training our students in several diverse media, in order to better prepare them for careers in the real world workforce. But, of course, storytelling is just as important, and the Diploma Filmmaking students didn’t disappoint with their artful short films.
Trevor Hawkins, Lecturer in Directing, Editing & Filmmaking for NYFA Gold Coast, had this to say about the July 2017 group: “There are certainly some promising young storytellers and filmmakers evident in our recent screenings of the July Advanced Filmmakers and the July Diploma Filmmakers.”
The screening was all the more successful considering it’s just the halfway point in the students’ syllabus. Hawkins added, “It’s always great to be involved in their journey as filmmakers and I certainly look forward to their future productions.” Congratulations to our NYFA Gold Coast July 2017 Diploma Filmmaking and Advanced Filmmaking students on such a triumphant night!
Maria Conchita Alonso, the Venezuelan actress with over one hundred credits to her name, brought her cult classic film “The Running Man,” co-starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, to the Los Angeles Acting for Film and Filmmaking students. Industry Q and A Director, Tova Laiter, hosted the evening.
Conchita Alonso is both a very popular Latin singer and international actress. Her work on the screen includes “The House of the Spirits,” “Predator 2,” “Chicago Hope,” “Extreme Prejudice” and “Saints & Sinners.” Not content with just images, Conchita Alonso has also written lyrics and performed the vocal for a song in “Scarface.”
She’s been honored with the Outstanding Actress in Made-for Television Movie or Mini-Series, the Pioneer Award at La Femme International Film Festival, Outstanding Performer of the Year at Nostros Golden Eagle Awards, and a Grammy nomination.
Conchita Alonso walked onto the stage with her dog Tequila and the audience fawned appropriately. She had a lot of advice for the students. One particular piece that stands out is, “Don’t ever compare yourself with others. Just work on who you are!”
At the beginning of her career she was told she could not sing, dance, act, and host. She should pick one and perfect it. By dividing her time she was weakening her shot. So, when she wanted to record Vamos A Bailar for “Scarface,” her agent suggested they submit her tape under a different name, so executives could hear her performance instead of seeing her name. It worked, of course, and an important lesson was learned: put your work forward, not your attitude. “Know you’re good, but don’t show it.”
Vamos A Bailar eventually went to number one on the charts.
The New York Film Academy would like to thank Maria Conchita Alonso for taking the time to speak with our students. You can catch Conchita Alonso in “Off the Menu,” “He Matado a Mi Marido,” and “Kill ‘Em All” out later this year.
On Wednesday, November 30, David Madden, President of Entertainment at Fox Broadcasting, held a Q & A for students perusing degrees in Acting, Directing, and Filmmaking. Madden has helped bring shows like “The Americans,” “The Killing,” “Burn Notice,” “The Shield,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Pitch,” and the forthcoming “Star” from Lee Daniels to televisions in living rooms around the country.
Hollywood Producer, NYFA Director of Industry Lecture Series, Tova Laiter hosted the evening alongside NYFA Screenwriting Instructor, David O’Leary, whose script, “Blue Book,” was just purchased by the History Channel and will be produced by Robert Zemeckis’ ImageMovers.
Madden’s role at Fox is multifaceted. Scripted programming, alternative entertainment and casting all fall under his jurisdiction. In the past, he worked for Paramount Pictures based Madden Company where he produced more than twenty films.
“We have 15 hours of primetime programming every week, 52 weeks a year. Pretty much everything is original whether it’s scripted or reality,” Madden explained. “Every single program that goes on the air in prime time, I oversee. I read every script of the scripted programs. I watch every episode of the reality shows. I watch every cut of every show. I’m responsible for the development and I’m responsible for the casting. My job is simply to make the shows.”
When asked about the current state of network television in the age of streaming and premium cable, Madden didn’t feel that broadcast was facing any trouble. While, yes, they compete with these new service providers, economically, broadcast has to reach a wide audience in the millions. Madden doesn’t feel that means sacrificing quality. “Being populist and being good are not mutually exclusive,” he said. Also, historically, Fox has always been more subversive and positioned in between traditional networks and cable.
One student asked, “With the number of TV shows being produced now do you believe the quality of actor being hired is less, in order to fill roles?”
“I sure hope not,” Madden said. With most shows green-lit during pilot season in January, landing the right actor for the right role during this time can be very challenging. The upside is that new actors are afforded more opportunities than ever (as well as writers). “We are always looking for material and new talent, but they have to, legally, come to us via the right channels.”
Twice yearly the Television Critics Association gathers to cover the upcoming Fall and Winter programming from major television networks. This year, the New York Film Academy attended the Fox 2016 TCA tour. Fox is putting a more diverse network in its sights this Monday at the Beverly Hilton. The new line-up goes way beyond racial diversity. Fox is expanding the idea of animation on television, the roles women might play in major league sports, and who can play traditional roles.
With Fox’s new show, Pitch, starring Kylie Bunbury as Ginny Baker the first female pitcher to play on a major league baseball team. Creator and Executive Producer, Dan Fogelman, believes it’ll only be a matter of time before we see a woman in one of the four major sports currently played in America. Fox also brought us the first Black President in the early two thousands with their show 24. Tony Bill, Executive Producer, said the show was pitched ten years ago and predicted the future we live in now, where it’s just a matter of time before a woman plays in the majors.
The show isn’t just about baseball. What drew many of the creators to the project is the character of Bill Baker, played beautifully by Michael Beach, who is the show’s “sports dad.” Think about Serena and Venus Williams’ father or Tiger Woods’ father. Who are the men behind the child? What do they sacrifice and what drives them? For Bill Baker, it’s the fact that his father wasn’t there to help him get to the majors. He topped at the minors. Baker swore that he would be there for his son. He has a daughter.
This is where the story begins, a father making sure his daughter has everything she needs to be the very best. So, the show wouldn’t be too bogged down in men, Ginny is given a publicist, Amelia Slater, played by Ali Larter. Both women have to navigate male dominated industries as women at the top of their game.
Son of Zorn
Son of Zorn will join The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, and Family Guy on Fox’s Sunday night lineup. The show is a family sitcom about a divorced dad trying to reconnect with his estranged son after ten years. One caveat: Zorn, played by a subdued Jason Sudeikis, is an animated barbarian. Yes, you read that right. In the live action world, he is the only animated being. Instead of slaying dragons, he’s trying to land a steady job. His son, a shy kid, and his ex-wife, re-married to Tim Meadows, aren’t too interested in having him back around. Zany antics are sure to ensue in this very weird and bizarrely brave new show.
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Fox is also pushing the envelope with The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Televised musicals have been prime time gold for network television companies trying to find their way in a streaming dominant world. Rocky Horror is taking a very definite step away from the original by embracing the camp cult culture that has surrounded the film since its original release in 1975.
Costumes are adorned with bright sparkles and lots of feathers; the album is brighter with a stronger emphasis on rock music. One reporter asked point-blank why have a transgendered woman play a transsexual? Lou Adler, Executive Producer, said that Dr. Frankenfurter is an alien. Both Cox and Curry played the role as a person from another world. That’s what they wanted to focus on.
Victoria Justice said of the opportunity to play Janet Weiss, “Another generation will be singing Time Warp…I get to sing Touch Me. This is so exciting.” Executives clearly have the Rocky Horror fans, and the soon to be fans, in mind when crafting this film. They employed the fan club president to make sure the film stayed authentic.
They also added a crowd to the film. This is a weird kind of experimental twist on Mystery Science Theater 3000. It allows fans that love to participate in the action a chance to do so in their home. It also introduces new fans to crazy traditions of the fandom.
Live social media interaction and the buzz around theater trained Lavern Cox, who has a five-octave range and will be playing the lead, nearly guarantee a high viewer turn out. Whether it’ll be a hit or not is something for which we’ll have to wait to see.
Next on Fox’s plate is the television remake of The Exorcist. Creator and Executive Producer, Jeremy Slater, said he knew right off the bat he couldn’t write each season about a newly possessed family. No one tunes in for jumps and gore. The story has to come first. Evil has larger ambitions. They’re not just after one girl.
There will be Easter Eggs for fans of the original series, and Slater insists that this is a continuation, not a remake. In his version, there are two priests, Father Tomas Ortega, Alfonso Herrera, and Father Marcus Keane, Ben Daniels, who are fighting to save the daughter of the Rance family. The matriarch of that family is Angela, played by Geena Davis. Davis said The Exorcist (1973) is the best horror film ever made.
Gotham and Lucifer
The Gotham and Lucifer panels went up at the same time. Immediately there was some concern about why Clara Foley had been replaced with Maggie Geha as the shows’ Ivy Pepper. Producers, Ken Woodruff and John Stephens, said the show is about growth and it was time for Ivy to grow from a timid fifteen-year-old to a sixteen-year-old who might be more willing to hurt people. (I could write about reactions here, but they’re mixed and I don’t know if we want to upset any potential future guests.)
Lucifer will continue its exploration of adult children trying to work through familial issues, this time by introducing Lucifer’s mom into the mix. Some in the crowd voiced skepticism when they learned the actress playing the role, Tricia Helfer, was only a few years older than Lucifer actor, Tom Ellis. Show Producers insisted that Helfer was the best actress for the job, not to mention the supernatural aspects of the show allow for the suspension of disbelief.
Finally, the time came to showcase the number one show on basic cable, Empire. Taraji P. Henson was there, along with Executive Producers Ilene Chaiken and Sanna Hamri. Season three’s focal point will remain on the Lyons, however, this time Cookie is determined to leave Luscious.
Taye Diggs will enter the series as a potential love interest for Cookie. To which Henson responded, “…he wished.” Mariah Carey, who has already finished filming her role, will play Kitty a, “mega-superstar who comes to Empire to collaborate with Jamal Lyon (Jussie Smollett) on an explosive new song.” Carey also has a story with lead character Jamal, played by Jussie Smollett, where she helps him acknowledge some personal difficulties.
With its Fall 2016 line-up Fox continues its push for more diverse content. A mix of strong new content, listening to fan reaction, and a dedication to reinvigorating long-standing projects, Fox has set itself apart from other networks who’ve decided to stand close to their traditional programming; a gamble that’s already netted Fox big viewership rewards.