A really #@#$# afternoon outside the MTV Movie Awards

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I know, you all secretly envy the glamorous life of we entertainment writers. The high pay, the fast cars, the loose women, the expensive perks, the free bottled water — okay, it’s only really the last of those that I’ve come to expect as a matter of course. That’s especially the case when I’m in a red carpet line and expected to stand in direct sunlight on a very warm day for three hours waiting to talk to people of note who never stop by.

Yes, we entertainment writers do occasionally get  free food and beverages in return for showing up to cover red carpets and press days and the like.  It’s all part of the PR machine and I suppose you could argue that sometimes it goes too far. However, most of it is is far from gourmet quality, very few of us are well paid, and if all takes to influence you to cover something positively rather than negatively is a free hoagie, some pasta salad, and a cupcake, integrity wasn’t exactly your middle name to start with.

Still, if people are going to be forced to stand around outside on quite a hot day for close to three hours, quite literally risking a case of mild sunstroke (my mistake for not bringing a hat, I suppose — and thanks to the nice guy next to who allowed me to use his freebie sunblock), then providing access to water might be a good idea. No one I saw fainted or became ill, but no one around me seemed very happy either. Of course, what we all really wanted was a chance for some fun and shallow conversation with celebrities. Since I mainly cover movies, and this was, after all, the MTV Movie Awards, people somehow related to them would be nice. Television is good, too, though my knowledge is not as broad there. Reality television is something else again.

And this is  part where I have to confess that I went to the MTV Movies Awards Red Carpet and I only got a few odd celebrity photos and two brief interviews with young and, I’m sure, quite skilled young actors who are anything but household names. Considering the huge crush of better known media outlets, I wasn’t likely to get a moment with any genuine superstars — just, you know, someone. Okay, so Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, or Michael Cera or even Betty White or Zach Galifianakis or Ed Helms and Ken Jeong might be off the table, but, well, give me somebody or don’t bother to put me there at all. I’ve got better things to do than to make celebrities feel important by trying to get pictures of them as they rush into the air-conditioned confines of Universal’s Gibson Amphitheater.

Given the high ratio of big stars and the small number of mid-level personalities, interesting newcomers, or behind-the-camera talent, I had my suspicions early on. When I saw the costumed and photogenic young lady below, who turns out to ace celebrity stalker La Coacha, the “first protege” of Perez Hilton, I figured I’d better request a picture. It was just possible the attractive junior gossip hound would be the most famous person I’d meet. She was, as it turns out, definitely the prettiest.

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From Captain America to “American Idiot”

It’s your late night movie news.

* The big breaking news around the film geek blogosphere is that THR’s Heat Vision blog is reporting that Chris Evans will, indeed, play Captain America. I’ve only seen Evans in the first half-hour of “The Fantastic Four” (that was as far I made it through that one) but let’s say that, for the time being, I’m having a very hard time getting excited about this news.

* Moving from a project I’m interested in with some casting I’m not finding so interesting right now, we move on to some very interesting casting for a project I’m really not that personally interested in except to root for it to do as little business as possible because of the kind of filmmaking it symbolizes. It appears that John Malkovich, Francis McDormand, and Ken Jeong will all be in…wait for it…”Transformers 3.” Christopher Campbell has the predictably cynical and amusing blog reactions. I should add that I have absolutely no criticism of them for being in it. If Michael Bay wants to give me a few hundred thousand to do something connected to one of his films, I’m taking it. Now, if he wants me to say something nice about the flick, that’s going to cost a whole lot more.

* The bidding deadline has been extended a bit for the sale of MGM to make room for an offer from Time Warner. I imagine that would put the classic-era and later MGM library all under one corporate umbrella, which could make life a bit less confusing for us film buffs.

* I love spy movies. Also, in theory, I have no problem with movies based on video games — apart from the fact that I can’t think of one that people actually like very much, much less that I’ve personally seen and liked. Still, with all the great spy novels of all shapes and sizes that there are, the thought of a spy movie based on a video game does not make me very happy.

* I’m confused, is “Everything Must Go” starring Will Ferrell, which starts production this week with financing direct from its producers, really going to be an entirely non-comedic film, or is it being billed as a “drama” simply to distinguish it from Ferrell’s usual ultra-wacky comedies? To me, the premise sounds laden with a potential for dark humor, though I don’t know the Raymond Carver story, I do know he occasionally indulged in that.

* Previews begin the day after tomorrow on Broadway of the new stage musical, “American Idiot.” With a book by Green Day singer and lyricist Billie Joe Armstrong, the show’s “dialogue” is, as I understand, almost entirely sung.  It ran to mixed-to-positive reviews last year in the main theatrical venue of the Green Day’s California Bay Area hometown, Berkeley Rep. While not all the critics were high on the NoCal edition of the show, apparently Tom Hanks and his producing partner Gary Goetzman like it and are “in talks” to turn the production into a feature movie. I love some of the music on the highly acclaimed original album, so I’m intrigued by this one, though I could easily see it turning out horribly. (The music video featured by Kevin Jagernauth of the Playlist shows one way example of how a film version could go rather badly wrong.)

One thing this is not is a “jukebox musical” along the lines of “Mamma Mia!” but a concept album adaptation closer in spirit, I imagine, to “Tommy” and “Pink Floyd’s The Wall.” Still, one hurtle all these movies rarely overcome is the difference in energy between a live performance of a great rock and roll tune and the inevitably more packaged version you’ll get in a movie. Personally, I’ll be impressed if anything in the film version, if there ever is one, matches the intensity of the performance below.

  

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What Else Ya Got? “The Hangover”

One of the biggest box office hits of the year, “The Hangover” finally comes to Blu-ray and DVD just in time for the holidays boasting a theatrical and unrated cut of the film (for once, you don’t have to choose between the two) and a slew of extras that are fun to watch once, but aren’t necessarily as good as you would expect.

Picture-in-Picture Commentary

The highlight of most Blu-ray releases is typically the audio commentary, and though this track featuring director Todd Phillips and co-stars Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis doesn’t start out strong, it gets better over time as they discuss everything from the music to Helms’ fake tooth to the different babies used during production. The picture-in-picture video doesn’t exactly, though, help because everyone involved looks positively bored (or just trying to enjoy the movie, you decide), so it can hardly be viewed as an incentive for Blu-ray owners.

Map of Destruction

This interactive feature lets you retrace the guys’ crazy night by visiting all of the locations they hit up along the way. From Caesar’s and the Riviera to Mike Tyson’s house, every stop includes interviews with the cast and footage of on-set antics. Tyson himself even gets a chance to shine with a great comeback on director Phillips.

The Madness of Ken Jeong

I’m not exactly sure why we needed eight minutes of Ken Jeong improvising, but this series of deleted scenes/alternate takes shows how he created the character of Mr. Chow through some experimenting.

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The Goods

You know that a movie isn’t very good when the studio comes running to you with an interview opportunity after opening weekend (speaking of which, check out Will Harris’ chat with producer Adam McKay), but although “The Goods” may not be very funny, it’s still a better-than-expected comedy thanks to its ensemble cast. Jeremy Piven stars as Don Ready, a smooth-talking car salesman who’s made a living by conning his way to the next big sale. But when his traveling team of liquidating specialists (including Ving Rhames, David Koechner and Kathryn Hahn) is hired to save a flailing dealership by selling every car on the lot, Don discovers that the job might be too big even for him. Though the idea is ripe for some pretty funny material, the story feels a little too safe compared to the crude humor that appears throughout. Thankfully, director Neal Brennan is completely unforgiving of the film’s vulgar tone, and it ends up working to its benefit. Piven’s confident, fast-talking schtick is tailor-made for the lead role, but it’s character actors likes Ken Jeong, Rob Riggle (playing a 10-year-old boy with a pituitary disorder), and Craig Robinson who end up stealing the show. “The Goods” isn’t for everyone, but for fans of the comedians involved, it’s probably worth checking out.

Click to buy “The Goods”

  

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If you don’t watch the premiere of “Community” tonight on NBC…

…then you’ll be missing the best new show of the fall season.

You may recall from my Fall TV Preview that I said of the pilot for “Community,” “When I watched it, I was convinced that I was watching the funniest sitcom of the new season. I was not wrong.” Now, granted, I was predisposed to like the series before I’d even put the screener of the pilot into the DVD player – I’m a fan of Joel McHale’s work (I’ve got a TiVo season pass for “The Soup”) and Chevy Chase’s work in virtually every film that he made during the ’70s and ’80s (though, to be honest, the only film he’s done since then that I still enjoy revisiting is “Memoirs of an Invisible Man”) – but it certainly didn’t hurt seeing “Daily Show” correspondent John Oliver turn up in a meaty guest role within the first few minutes, and it didn’t take long for me to fall for the ensemble as a whole.

Here’s a rundown of the characters:

* Jeff (McHale), a fast-talkin’ lawyer whose degree has been revoked
* Pierce (Chase), a man whose life experience has brought him infinite wisdom
* Abed (Danny Pudi), a pop culture junkie
* Britta (Gillian Jacobs), a 28-year-old dropout with something to prove
* Troy (Donald Glover, a former high school football star trying to find his way
* Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown), a sassy middle-aged divorcée
* Annie (Alison Brie), a high-strung perfectionist
* Señor Chang (Ken Jeong), a slightly unhinged Spanish professor

When I arrived at the TCA summer press tour, I was a man on a mission: to interview as many members of the cast of “Community” as I possibly could, so that I might do my damndest to get people to watch the series. Not that it necessarily needs my help, given the incredible promotional push that the network is putting behind the show, but, still, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a sitcom that’s this funny and has this strong an ensemble from the word “go” (seriously, I think I’d have to go back to “NewsRadio”), and I wanted to do whatever I could to get the word out. In the end, I ended up chatting with five of show’s regulars during the tour (McHale, Pudi, Brown, Glover, and Jeong), catching up with two more by phone after making back (Jacobs and Brie).

Sadly, Chevy Chase was surrounded by hordes of my peers through his time at the tour, and attempts to secure a phoner with him prior to the run date of this piece were unsuccessful. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll be able to talk to Chevy sometime in the near future…and, y’know, don’t be afraid to drop NBC an E-mail and ask them to try and make it happen for us…but in the meantime, click here (or on the above graphic), then sit back and enjoy these conversations with the rest of the cast.

When you finish, I’ll be very surprised if you don’t run straight to your TiVo and order yourself up a season pass for “Community.” It’s that good. I swear. And if you don’t believe me, here’s proof:

Finally, check out Chopard, one of the most recognized watch and jewelry brands in the world.

  

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