Monday, February 25, 2013

Arrested Development, Netflix & 14 New Episodes

"It’s really a fantastic one-off which is coming together incredibly, and I think it will be amazing for us, but think of it as a non-repeatable amazing,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said, adding that “Arrested Development is a wildly successful tactic, as opposed to fundamental to the strategy."
Entertainment Weekly:
• There are 14 new episodes, and they’re all coming your way at once in May.

• This “anthology,” as creator/executive producer Mitchell Hurwitz refers to it, will have a different structure than the previous version of the show. Each episode will be dedicated to a particular character’s point of view, with other characters weaving in and out of that episode. (Don’t expect lots of big group scenes.) So, over the course of these episodes, viewers will revisit a scene from a previous one but in a different context. “You’ll see a scene again, and from the other perspective, you’ll get all this new information,” said Hurwitz. “So it’s kind of an evolution of the storytelling that was necessary.” He discussed the challenge of working around shifting actor availability, as his thesps were in second position (meaning that their first obligation is to the other shows and movies to which they were already committed). “We couldn’t afford to do the show with what these people are worth now,” he added.

• These episodes should not be considered “season 4” of the show, according to Jason Bateman. Think of them as “simply just the first act of what we hope to continue and complete in a movie, which would be Act 2 and 3,” he said. “And eventually a theme park,” quipped Will Arnett.

• Asked if there were fears about tarnishing the show’s sterling legacy, Hurwitz cracked: “I could vomit right this moment.”

• Hurwitz and the cast tipped their hats to the passion of the fans (and support of the critics), noting that when the writers first started fleshing out ideas for the the movie, they had to toss out some good ideas because they’d already been covered in fan fiction. (New saying: Fan fiction did it!)

• Hurwitz’s goal with the new version of the show was to catch fans off-guard. “The spirit of this was to surprise fans with something that they didn’t see coming,” he said. “There was so much talk about the movie that we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to still do the movie but to give everybody this thing they didn’t see coming.” Even the initial 10-episode announcement was intentionally misleading, according to Hurwitz: “The idea was, ‘Let’s say there’s 10, and then the fans will be so happy when there’s even more.’”

Michael Cera has been pulling double duty by working as a writer on the show as well, noting that he had “some wild ideas that didn’t make it.” Hurwitz praised Cera, explaining that he wanted to help him learn a new craft, but “suddenly we were very dependent on Michael Cera being in the writers’ room. He completely understood this complex story, he added to it, he pitched new characters. It became clear that ‘Wow, this is like his first language.’”

• Hurwitz revealed that even though it will no longer be subject to broadcast network restrictions, the show still will feature its trademark bleeps. Also, one of our main characters will wind up naked.

• Re-runs of the show have been some of the most-watched episodes on Netflix's instant stream, pushing the decision to produce new content for such die-hard fans. Netflix outbid Showtime for the rights to the new season.

• Other guest stars include Kristen Wiig, Seth Rogen, Isla Fischer, Terry Crews, Conan O'Brien, Andy Richter, and of course Carl Weathers and Liza Minnelli.

• (Yes, a film is still in the works. No, there isn’t a deal in place yet.)

More information:
» Arrested Development art exhibit in L.A.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Monday, February 18, 2013

Colleges Dominate the Harlem Shake

Afrojack & Steve Aoki - "No Beef" (2011)

"No Beef" is a song by Grammy Award winning Dutch producer Afrojack in collaboration with Steve Aoki featuring vocals from singer Miss Palmer. The single was released digitally on August 22, 2011 in the Netherlands.

The music video was directed by Punit Dhesi and produced by Nima Nejat and Kam Saran. It features footage of both Afrojack and Aoki on stage and backstage. The video also features a guest appearance from American rapper Flo Rida, American model and former Playboy Playmate Holly Madison and American rapper and record producer Lil Jon.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Donald Byrd, Jazz Trumpeter, Dies at 80

Washington Post:
Donald Byrd, one of the most prolific and dynamic jazz trumpeters of the 1950s who later achieved commercial success, if not always critical acclaim, by exploring the contours of soul and funk music, died Feb. 4 at a hospital in Delaware. He was 80. No cause was provided.

Donaldson Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd II was born Dec. 9, 1932, in Detroit, where his father was a Methodist minister.

The younger Byrd served as a musician in the Air Force in the 1950s and attended Detroit’s Wayne State University before moving to New York. In 1955 and 1956, he occupied the trumpet chair in the Jazz Messengers, the influential group led for many years by drummer Art Blakey.

Mr. Byrd emerged from the jazz caldron of Detroit in the mid-1950s and quickly became one of the primary instrumental voices of the hard-bop movement, a swinging blues-based style of jazz built around driving rhythms and tight ensemble work.

With a distinctive tone that balanced crisp intonation with a clean melodic line, he was in constant demand for record dates, including sessions with John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, Jackie McLean and Max Roach. He appeared on 36 recordings in 1957 alone.

When Mr. Byrd’s debut album appeared in 1955, jazz writer Nat Hentoff praised him in DownBeat magazine as “one of the most important jazz trumpet talents in the past few years.”

Mr. Byrd made many albums as a leader on the Blue Note label, including several with a fellow Detroit native, baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams. In 1960, Mr. Byrd was the first major jazz performer to hire the young pianist Herbie Hancock, who went on to great acclaim with trumpeter Miles Davis and as a solo performer.

Ever evolving as a musician and ever inquisitive as a person, Mr. Byrd studied composition in Europe with the acclaimed musical guru Nadia Boulanger in the early 1960s and began teaching at Howard University in 1968. He led the university’s jazz band and developed a program of black music studies at Howard, where he taught until 1975.

As a performer, Mr. Byrd began to branch out from traditional acoustic jazz to explore a new, amplified style of music that drew heavily on the sounds of soul, funk and rhythm-and-blues. He recorded his first album in the new style, “Fancy Free,” in 1969, followed a year later by “Electric Byrd.”

In 1973, he released “Black Byrd,” which soared up the R&B charts and sold more than 1 million copies, at the time the most ever for an album on the Blue Note label. With its throbbing electric bass lines, vocal parts, heavy percussion and other effects, Mr. Byrd’s music found a new generation of fans, but many his older jazz listeners felt alienated.

He drew scathing reviews, including one from The Washington Post in 1975 that complained about “monotonous, over-amplified, disco-style noodling.”

“I’m creative. I’m not re-creative,” Mr. Byrd told the Detroit Free Press in 1999. “I don’t follow what everybody else does. One of the proverbs my father used to say is, ‘If you’re not first, be among the first.’ Everything I’ve done others have tried to copy.”

With five of his students at Howard, Mr. Byrd organized a jazz-funk group, the Blackbyrds, that had a series of Top 20 R&B hits in the 1970s, including “Walking in Rhythm,” “Happy Music” and “Time is Movin’.”

In the 1980s and 1990s, Mr. Byrd experimented with rap music, and his compositions and trumpet solos were incorporated into songs by hip-hop artists Public Enemy, Nas, Guru and Erykah Badu.

Although hip-hop was different in tone and style from the jazz Mr. Byrd had performed in his youth, he considered it part of a long musical continuum.

“It reflects the tenor of the times, which African American music has always done,” he told the Chicago Tribune in 1993. “It is a furtherance of what vocal music coming out of the jazz and African American expression has always been, from Louis Armstrong to Cab Calloway to people like Dizzy [Gillespie] and Eddie Jefferson.”

Mr. Byrd had at least four academic degrees, including a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music and, according to published reports, a law degree from Howard. Many accounts stated that he received a doctorate in education from Columbia University’s Teachers College in 1982, but that information could not be immediately verified.

Mr. Byrd established jazz studies programs at Howard and North Carolina Central University and taught at many other colleges, including Hampton University in Virginia, Rutgers University in New Jersey, Delaware State University and the University of Delaware. He lived in Dover, Del., for several years.

During his tenure at North Carolina Central University during the 1980s, he formed a group which included students from the college called the "125th St NYC Band". They recorded the Love Byrd album, which featured Isaac Hayes on drums. "Love Has Come Around" became a disco hit in the UK and reached #41 on the charts.

Mr. Byrd was named a Jazz Master in 2000 by the National Endowment for the Arts, the country’s highest honor for jazz musicians. He continued to perform sporadically into his late 70s and was regarded by generations of musicians as a jazz elder.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

M.I.A. - "Bad Girls" (2012)

"Bad Girls" first appeared on M.I.A.'s self-released mixtape Vicki Leekx (2010), shortly following the release of her third studio album Maya earlier that year. The song is written by Maya "M.I.A." Arulpragasam, Marcella Araica and Floyd Nathaniel "Danja" Hills, and produced by Danja. It is midtempo hip-hop song with influxes of worldbeat, dance-pop, and contemporary R&B. The track incorporates with multiple elements of Middle Eastern and Indian hooks. The song's structure is focused on careening beats, synths inspired by Eastern sounds and syncopated drums and an SOS signal rhythm.

M.I.A. announced via Twitter that she had shot an accompanying music video for the song, directed by Romain Gavras. This is the second time the two have collaborated, following the 2010 video to "Born Free". Two photos from the set of the video were uploaded by the artist onto M.I.A.'s official website in February 2012. Principal photography for the video transpired in Ouarzazate, Morocco over a period of four days.

Hua Hsu, writing for, praised Gavras as "strikingly" talented, making "scenes of faraway desperation look like the most beautiful, mysterious cologne advertisements ever" and the artistic vision of M.I.A. for delivering the audience "somewhere else." He noted that for some, the video would be further confirmation that "ornate scarves, wind-carved deserts, and Arabic script" were cool, while for others, it will "no doubt inspire a deeper investigation into globalism and globalization, feminism, the politics of oil, the West's influence in the Middle East, a career as a graduate student etc." He concluded that the video was further example of what made M.I.A.'s "protest-in-the-name-of-what-exactly? so riveting, important, and almost prophetic. She flatters our desire for authenticity, for a real spokesperson who apprehends the full circumference of the planet, and then she goes and makes a bright, gaudy T-shirt of it all. If she has sold out — if she represented anything in the first place — then she's shown us exactly what our dollar can buy: an absolutely stunning video starring some of the Middle East's finest stunt drivers."

Elizabeth Flock writing in Washington Post noted that the video was made at a time when Saudi women began fighting against the ban outside of court and online, while following the release of the video, two Saudi female activists — Manal al-Sharif and Samar Badawi — filed lawsuits against the government for refusing to give them a driver’s license, the first high-profile legal challenge to the country’s ban on female drivers.

The video won Best Direction, and Best Cinematography at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards. It was also nominated for Video of the Year but lost out to Rihanna's "We Found Love". It was nominated for a 2013 Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video.

The N.A.R.S Remix features rappers Missy Elliott and Azealia Banks, the Switch Remix still features Missy Elliott but with Rye Rye replacing Azealia Banks.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Super Bowl XLVII

Baltimore  34 : 31  San Francisco

Jacoby Jones, a New Orleans native, is the second player with two TDs of 50 yards or more in a Super Bowl, tying Washington's Ricky Sanders (1988).

Ed Reed, also a New Orleans native, tied the NFL record for postseason picks with his ninth.

"Capping a perfect postseason, the unassuming and unheralded Joe Flacco completed 22 of 33 passes for 287 yards and three first-half touchdowns Sunday, earning Super Bowl MVP honors for leading the Ravens to a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. The admittedly mild-mannered guy, who played his college football far from the spotlight at Delaware, wrapped up Baltimore's four-game run to the title with an NFL record-tying 11 TD passes (Joe Montana, Kurt Warner) with no interceptions, going 73 of 126 for 1,140 yards. It was an impressive streak that included road victories against two of the game's most respected QBs, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, and a first-round home win against No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck."

"It's no greater way, as a champ, to go out on your last ride with the men that I went out with, with my teammates," Ray Lewis said. "And you looked around this stadium and Baltimore! Baltimore! We coming home, baby! We did it!"

More information:
» Sports Illustrated: 49ers Roster is First-Round Heavy
» Sports Illustrated: What's Next for Ravens, 49ers?
» NFL Honors 2013 Winners
» Tyrod Taylor: "If my number is called, I'll be ready for it."
» Top NFL Draft Prospects from ACC
» Best All-Time?: Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady
» Leon Sandcastle: Next NFL Star?

Saturday, February 2, 2013