Monthly Archives: April 2012

Mad Monday Links: “At the Codfish Ball”


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What an episode! Here’s a refresher on last night’s “Mad Men”:

- Need a recap? Check out NY Times, Time, Hit Fix, E! Online, WSJ, Basket of Kisses, and Slate.

- Did you catch Jon Hamm and “Zou Bisou Bisou” on last week’s live episode of 30 Rock?

- John Slattery tells Slate what it was like filming that acid trip scene in “Far Away Places.”

Huffington Post has a neat article “Through the Boomer Lens: Bring on Thelma & Louise.”

NY Daily News recalls the time when Howard Johnson’s was an alpha restaurant.

Tom and Lorenzo discuss Jane’s ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ clothes, Megan’s ‘sad marriage’ color, and Don becoming a possible unreliable narrator in regards to Megan.

Basket of Kisses talks about parts of “Far Away Places” that echo previous episodes of the show.

– Do you like Megan’s mod makeup? Here’s a tutorial on how to do it yourself!

Rich Sommer delves into his character Harry Crane, claiming that Harry isn’t really as much of jerk as we think he is.

– Has Mad Men sparked a resurgence in mid-century decor?

– And finally, here are some goofy faces from your favorite characters!

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Anthony Hopkins to Play Hitchcock in New Biopic

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Earlier this week it was announced that a new biopic about Alfred Hitchcock is in the works that will focus on the time period the director was working on the movie “Psycho.” It’s got some pretty big names attached so far — Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock, Helen Mirren as his wife Alma, Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh, and Jessica Biel as Vera Miles.

 I’m looking forward to seeing whether the movie tackles a few things, such as Hitchcock’s work relationships and attitude with and toward his cast, the creative direction of the shower scene and how he imposed a new theater standard of closing the doors after a movie begins (before, people could walk in and out after a movie had started; with “Psycho,” he feared the big twist would be revealed, so imposed strict rules of theater entrances). I thoroughly enjoyed Hopkins’ performance in “Silence of the Lambs,” so I definitely think this is a role he could do really well. I’m also curious to see how ScarJo and Jessica Biel transform into their roles.

Are you interested in seeing a biopic about the director? 

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Playing God: Screenwriting for television shows and fan fiction

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Next semester I’ll be taking another screenwriting class, and this time, it will focus on writing spec scripts for television shows already on the air. Naturally, I’m pretty excited because it will help me explore writing I haven’t tried before. I’ve written a feature film screenplay, but not one that focuses on a work of art that already exists.

It’s got me thinking about all the fan fiction and theories I’ve read about my favorite shows, and how screenwriting can give a sense of power over the actions of characters in established works.

I’m not exactly sure which show I’ll focus on, but here are several storylines that may be worth looking into on different shows:

(Spoiler note: If you aren’t up to date on storylines on “Breaking Bad”, “Community,” and “Mad Men,” these questions may contain spoilers for you.)

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The ballad of Roger and Jane

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It was the May-December romance that could never last. In last night’s episode of “Mad Men,” called “Far Away Places,” Roger and Jane’s relationship comes full circle when the couple experiments with LSD and, in their heightened trippiness, they realize that their marriage is over and amicably decide to divorce. While the last few divorces on the show were hostile affairs (Joan and Greg, Don and Betty, Roger and Mona), Roger and Jane’s split remains poignant, friendly and a reminder of why they’re better off apart.

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Mad Monday Links: “Far Away Places”

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Another week, another Mad Monday roundup of the web’s best “Mad Men” links. Here we go:

– Need a recap? Try WSJ, AMC, Tom and Lorenzo,  Entertainment Weekly, E! Online, Baltimore Sun Hit Fix and Slate. And of course, Television without Pity and Basket of Kisses have some great forums as well.

Slate talks about the art of opening credits, including some favorites like “Mad Men” and “Zombieland.”

– Vulture contemplates why Season 5 is so obsessed with death.

–  “Looks like a bride, cooks like a mother”: The New Yorker takes a look at its own ads from the show’s era, including another take on that Kodak Carousel ad. (And here’s a clip of the “Mad Men” version).

Basket of Kisses wants to know if you use phrases from “Mad Men” in real life. (I am a fan of  “Hell’s bells, Trudy!”)

NY Times muses on how DVRS “runneth over” on Sundays because of good television (“Mad Men,” “Game of Thrones,” “Girls,” and a few others air on that day).

– Don’s sports coat, Trudy’s padding, and Lane’s sartorial patriotism: Tom and Lorenzo really nail the style analysis of the show.

– In response to last week’s episode, Jaguar USA wrote a real letter to SCDP about their product’s appearance on the show.

– Finding feminism on-screen: A WSJ.  writer delves into what “Mad Men” means to her.

– Over in the UK, The Independent ponders whether the show has created a secretarial revival.

– National Review asks, Is Pete Campbell suicidal? Making sense of the 1960s.

– Do you agree with Grantland’s assessment of the top 10 “Mad Men” moments? (Scroll down to the third footnote).

– And finally, the 15 funniest “Mad Men” fan art pieces. I’m kind of in love with the Sterling Coopeeps.

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3 films that would make great stage adaptations

A few weeks ago I was at a high school musical production of “The Wiz,” and it got me thinking about works of art that transcend their original medium and cross into other platforms. Obviously, there are many works that started out as plays that eventually turned into movies (“Romeo and Juliet,” anyone?), but what about movies that do well as Broadway adaptations? Here are a list of contemporary movies that I think would make great stage adaptations:

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“Inglourious Basterds” (2009): Quentin Tarantino re-envisions the end of World War II and what would happen if a motley bunch of Jewish-Americans assassinated Hitler and all of his German comrades to end the war. Comedic and bloody, the film is organized into several dialogue-driven acts, which would make it easy to adapt for the stage. It wouldn’t have to be a musical at all (a Nazi musical has kind of already been done), but the big draw would include recreating the final theater showdown, complete with gasoline and machine guns. A stage production would also have to be primarily in one language, unlike the movie’s multilingual script.

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The Punishment of Ken Cosgrove

On last Sunday’s “Mad Men” episode “Signal 30,” Ken Cosgrove’s narrative was given more depth than viewers have seen in the past four seasons. As the affable account executive for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, he’s been effortlessly good at building and keeping clients, something that chagrins Pete Campbell, whose own personal charms don’t come easy. Ken’s ease at work flummoxes Harry Crane as to why Ken would be paid more than him in season two’s “The Benefactor” (Harry’s wife Jennifer even likens Ken to a mannequin). But Ken’s work is still a strength to the firm: as Lane Pryce says of golden boy Ken in season three’s “The Grown Ups”: He “has the rare gift of making [clients] feel as if they haven’t any needs.”

But as season four shows, Ken, having been poached to revive the startup firm with his hefty saddlebag of accounts, draws the line at exploiting his personal relationships for career gains. He turns down the firm’s requests to use his fiancee’s family connections to get in good with a potential client.  After pointing that he isn’t like Pete, who has used his wife Trudy’s parents for career gains, Ken tells the partners, “I’m going to service the 30 percent of this firm that are MY clients,” reminding them of his ad-man talents.

But this season’s “Signal 30″ seems to hint at Ken’s underlying unhappiness in his advertising career. The episode reveals that he’s made a pact with Peggy that if either of them jump ship from the firm, they’ll take the other along.  He’s continuing his writing hobby (in previous seasons, he’s been published, getting a byline in The Atlantic), even gaining moderate success under his secret pen name “Ben Hargrove.”  His wife Cynthia shares one of his short stories, “The Punishment of X4″ at the Campbells’ dinner party, much to Ken’s discomfort:

“There’s this bridge between these two planets and thousands of humans travel on it every day, and there’s this robot who does maintenance on the bridge. One day he removes a bolt, the bridge collapses, and everyone dies.”

When she finishes, the dinner partiers ask why the robot destroyed the bridge, and Ken offers this:

“Because he’s a robot. Those people tell him what to do and he doesn’t have the power to make any decisions, except he can decide whether that bolt’s on or off.”

While Ken’s short story “The Man with the Miniature Orchestra” most likely represents Pete and his midlife malaise with suburbia, what if the robot story were a metaphor for Ken’s own career frustrations?  He’s always been great with clients, but what if  he feels SCDP takes his work for granted? And perhaps rightly so — he’s the only account exec at SCDP who hasn’t been made a partner, most likely under Pete’s bidding to keep Ken in his place at the new firm. The narrative of “Signal 30″ suggests that Ken could be a bigger player at the firm — and perhaps a wild card if his creative needs remain unmet.

If the robot story were about Ken, what do the two planets represent? His two careers as an advertising account exec and a fantasy writer, and his attempts to bridge the two? Or perhaps two versions of SCDP — the present firm and its more successful future?

Whether the robot story represents his life or not, it’s clear that Ken doesn’t derive all his happiness from his advertising career, as Roger forces him to do when he tells Ken to abandon the writing. Will Ken walk away from advertising and take up a new career as a fantasy author?

Ken’s no mannequin or robot, but he’s feeling the weight of the bridge he’s building. Will he undo the bolt, take his 30 percent of the firm’s clients with him, and watch SCDP collapse without him?

Image via AMC

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Mad Monday Links: “Signal 30″

 Image via AMC

I used to do a link list of Mad Men articles on my other blog, so I thought I’d do them here for each episode this season on Mondays. Fair warning: I’ll never reveal huge spoilers here, though I’ll post links that will.  Here’s some interesting articles following up on last night’s episode:

- Need a recap? Here are a few from AMC, Hit Fix,  E!, Baltimore Sun, Paste Magazine and the Washington Post.

- ‘Roger isn’t who I am': John Slattery’s interview with The Atlantic on his character and directing this episode.

- Costume designer Janie Bryant explains to AMC the costuming choices for this episode (Don’s sport coat!).

- The origins of the phrase “Signal 30″: Used as a police phrase to signify car accidents, it was the name of a 1959 Highway Safety film to show the perils of reckless driving.

- I love Slate’s TV Club conversations on each episode. Here, a dissection of Pete and Don’s relationship, and their malaise with suburban life.

- Slate asks, Is there hope for Pete Campbell? A conversation with Vincent Kartheiser.

- Musings on office fighting, Pete’s standing, and the meaning of Kenneth’s stories: Television Without Pity’s forums are a real rabbit hole of awesome.

- Tom and Lorenzo’s Mad Style  breaks down all the genius costuming choices for the show. For example, who else would make the connection that in “Mystery Date” that Joan’s rose prints could symbolize her marriage?

- The New Yorker comments on “Mad Men” and the phenomenon of the “40-year itch,” when popular culture yearns for a time period that occurred 40 to 50 years prior.

- Zosia Mamet, who plays Peggy’s photographer friend Joyce, is a lead on a new HBO show called “Girls,” a comedic take on big city life for twentysomethings. Though its premise makes it fodder for comparisons to “Sex and the City,” it’s been noted to “seem more in line with the current economic and cultural climate.”

- Last week’s episode on Basket of Kisses: theories about whether Greg knows Joan’s secret, and the new frankness that 1966 brings to the show.

- Teyonah Parris, who plays Don’s new secretary Dawn, talks to The Root about race and being the first black secretary at the firm.

- And finally, tonight’s episode is sure to bring some new fodder for Pete Campbell’s Bitch Face.


Peabody Awards

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Between school, work and freelance projects, I’ve been a busy girl. I’ll be updating more here as the time goes on — with a bunch of television shows back on the air, I’ve got a lot to say.

Anyway, the Peabody Awards winners were ann0unced last week. I had the honor of being a student judge this year, so I helped my television news committee make recommendations for the Peabody board to view. It was incredible to see some awesome entries win, including NHK, King-TV, as well as some entertainment television like “Game of Thrones.” I had a great time being part of the experience and learning more about “excellence” in digital media.

For a full list of the winners, go here.

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