Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Binge-watching The Bachelor and Netflix’s Love makes me happy to be single

Posted By on 03.15.17 at 06:42 PM

Raven Gates lost Nick Viall's proposal on The Bachelor, but she won her freedom. - ABC
  • ABC
  • Raven Gates lost Nick Viall's proposal on The Bachelor, but she won her freedom.

I've watched every season of The Bachelor, give or take a few somewhere in the middle when I thought I'd get into foreign films or read some books instead. That clearly didn't stick, and for at least the last five consecutive seasons I've curled up every Monday it's aired with a glass (OK, bottle) of wine to watch these groups of "normal" people try to find love.

At first, I thought I liked the show because I was a romantic, and I enjoyed the journey to a proposal. There are extravagant dates and confessions of falling in love while couples are jumping off cliffs, and fabulous outfits, and exotic locations with private concerts, and "deep" personal connections. But then I realized I was watching it more to pick out the cool contestants, the ones who I wanted to be friends with. It was fun to see someone who seemed sort of like me winning over the leading man or lady and beating out the mean, hot people. What I wished for more than a proposal at the end of the eight-week journey was for the men and women with good heads on their shoulders to say with dignity, "No, thanks." Yes, there's also the show's inherent dramatics, the trainwrecks that no one can look away from.

After Monday night's Bachelor finale, I realized that it's for these same reasons that I recently binge-watched season two of the Netflix comedy Love.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Bachelor strategist (and former Chicagoan) Nick Viall is being outplayed by this season’s villain, Corinne Olympios

Posted By and on 01.10.17 at 02:45 PM

One of these lucky ladies could go on to be rejected on national television, just like Nick! - ABC
  • ABC
  • One of these lucky ladies could go on to be rejected on national television, just like Nick!

Jake Malooley:
We're now two episodes into The Bachelor, season eleventy-thousand. Our bachelor is Nick Viall, a Wisconsin native who recently resided in Chicago before heading off to LA to become a career reality-show contestant. But in episode one the show made a desperate attempt to make it look like Nick still lives in Chicago, with shots of him walking around Michigan Avenue.

Brianna Wellen: It felt inauthentic, like when Rahm first ran for mayor and was trying to convince everyone he was a Chicago resident even though he'd been living in D.C. Nick wants to belong to Chicago, but he just doesn't. I saw him once at Pitchfork Music Festival (this was post-Andi, pre-Kaitlyn), and have heard that he used to frequent bars in River North—but he's an LA boy now.

JM: By now the only person who's logged more hours on Bachelor shows is probably host Chris Harrison. This is now Nick's fourth appearance, and at this point he is the unrivaled student of the game that is this show. It's clear he's studied the series history—what seems genuine, what doesn't. How do you think his veteran status is playing out this season?

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

WCIU premieres Chicago’s One Night Stand-Up on New Year’s Eve

Posted By on 12.28.16 at 03:44 PM

Rebecca O'Neal hosts Chicago's One Night Stand-Up at Zanies in Rosemont. - COURTESY WCIU
  • courtesy wciu
  • Rebecca O'Neal hosts Chicago's One Night Stand-Up at Zanies in Rosemont.

WCIU, the channel best known for airing daytime court television and reruns of The King of Queens, is kicking off the New Year with something a little different. Instead of relying on a 2 Broke Girls marathon to bring in viewers before midnight, the local station will air Chicago's One Night Stand-Up, a showcase of local comics hosted by one of the city's most visible stand-ups, Rebecca O'Neal.

Surprisingly, it's one of the first local TV programs focused on Chicago comedians. "I've been doing this five years now," O'Neal says, "before that I was writing about comedy, and in the time nothing like this has existed."

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Various Artists Independent Film Festival kicks off its inaugural year in Chicago

Posted By on 10.28.16 at 02:36 PM

Various Artists TV
  • Various Artists TV

The Various Artists Independent Film Festival (VAiFF), a Chicago-based competition festival for independent filmmakers worldwide, begins taking submissions November 1 for the "fall season" of its inaugural festival, slated for October 7-8, 2017, at ShowPlace ICON in the South Loop. The festival is sponsored by Various Artists TV, an independent network and website launched earlier this year in Chicago. The network streams films and shows from independent filmmakers and gives viewers the option to vote for their favorites; it also provides production services to independent filmmakers or small business owners looking to "crew up" a film, TV commercial, web series, or music video.

Omar McClinton, CEO of Various Artists TV, tells me that adding a year-long competition and festival to the network's developing roster of projects felt like a natural progression. "Artists are all in this together," he says. "We are all looking for that opportunity. It's no longer a 'studio system' where there are more producers than distribution outlets. The Internet is limitless."

Various Artists Independent Film Festival
  • Various Artists Independent Film Festival
In each of the four submission quarters (fall, winter, spring, and summer), the VAiFF review committee will select semifinalists and post the films on for public screening. After a 30-day voting window, the films with the highest number of positive social media votes will secure the nominations for that quarter, receive cash prizes, and advance to the festival competition to vie for the top prize in their respective categories. All submissions must be under 45 minutes, not including end credits The nine competition categories are:

  • Drama
  • Comedy
  • Horror/thriller
  • Foreign
  • Documentary
  • Animation
  • Children/family content
  • Music video
  • TV/web series pilots

A panel of judges will select the top nine films at the festival; among the confirmed judges are producer Barrie M. Osborne (The Lord of the Rings, The Matrix), writer and producer Bob Gale (the Back to the Future trilogy), and video-effects producer Joyce Cox (Titanic, Avatar, The Dark Knight).

According to McClinton, combining the familiarity of independent film screenings and competitions with the convenience of mobile streaming and the ease of social media also lent itself to extending the submission process. "The competition is a year long, so we can make the best of the opportunity the Internet gives us and bring exposure to as many filmmakers as possible," McClinton notes. "We also include social media as a way to engage people from around the world who may not normally be exposed to the festival world."

Another unique characteristic of VAiFF is the lack of expiration date on the festival entries. "If a filmmaker spent their money, blood, sweat, and tears on a project that happens to be over two years old," McClinton says, "does that mean the project is no longer eligible for competition? Until VAiFF, that was [largely] the case. But if a film is 'great,' it's great, and needs to be seen and given its time."

For more information on VAiFF, including submission guidelines and rules for each category, visit

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Issa Rae tries to find herself in the HBO comedy Insecure

Posted By on 10.11.16 at 03:00 PM

Issa Rae and Yvonne Orji navigate their personal and professional lives together in Insecure. - ANNE MARIE FOX/HBO
  • Anne Marie Fox/HBO
  • Issa Rae and Yvonne Orji navigate their personal and professional lives together in Insecure.

In one scene of the new HBO comedy Insecure, Issa Rae, its star and cocreator, tries on multiple shades of bold lipstick in the mirror, taking on a different persona with each color, before settling on a layer of Carmex. The situation reflects what the series focuses on: Rae feels like she needs to explore all her options, when often the simplest decision is the best one.

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Friday, September 30, 2016

FX is developing Samantha Irby’s memoir Meaty

Posted By on 09.30.16 at 01:56 PM

Samantha Irby, coming soon to a television near you! - EVABLUE
  • Samantha Irby, coming soon to a television near you!

Samantha Irby
, former Chicagoan, animal lover, and all around hilarious human being, has just signed a deal to develop a half-hour series for FX based on her blog Bitches Gotta Eat and essay collection Meaty. She'll be working with two other hilarious humans, Abbi Jacobson of Broad City and Jessi Klein, head writer of Inside Amy Schumer and author of the memoir You'll Get Over It.

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Easy is spot-on Chicago

Posted By on 09.26.16 at 04:39 PM

Dave Franco and Zazie Beetz drinking their homebrew in Easy. - ZAC HAHN/NETFLIX
  • Zac Hahn/Netflix
  • Dave Franco and Zazie Beetz drinking their homebrew in Easy.

Many series have tried to capture Chicago on the small screen with little success. The comedy Happy Endings is supposed to take place here, but is obviously filmed in LA—it's riddled with incorrect references, and there's almost never snow. Chicago Fire attempts to be Chicago so aggressively that the Sears (er, Willis) Tower is somehow constantly in the background.

Joe Swanberg's Easy, however, feels like it was made by a crew who truly know Chicago. The local director naturally drops in references to things like Chicago Filmmakers, Dark Matter Coffee, Koval, and even the Reader. He films in familiar, but not touristy locations. Famed Second City and iO improviser TJ Jagodowski shows up as a character in the very first scene.

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Friday, September 9, 2016

Film School Shorts spotlights student filmmakers in Chicago and all across America

Posted By on 09.09.16 at 11:00 AM

King Ripple
  • King Ripple
King Ripple, a 2015 psychedelic-horror short film starring Keith Stanfield (Short Term 12, Straight Outta Compton) and directed by DePaul University sophomore Luke Jaden, is one of several student-directed shorts boosted by the public television series Film School Shorts. The weekly half-hour program, which begins airing its fourth season on Chicago's WTTW 11 this Sunday, is the exclusive online distributor of King Ripple and The Listing, another of Jaden's shorts, as well as several other films that "push the boundaries of broadcast."

Submitted shorts are handpicked by series producer Lisa Landi for online distribution or, if they can be edited to a "PG rating," broadcast as part of the Film School Shorts series on public television stations across the United States. 

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz wrote the book on TV

Posted By on 09.08.16 at 08:00 AM

  • Danielle A. Scruggs

Television critics Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz started working together at the Star-Ledger in New Jersey ("the paper at the end of Tony Soprano's driveway in The Sopranos," says Seitz) in 1996, but their bond actually goes back further than that: both cite the 80s police drama Hill Street Blues as a gateway into the world of TV. And it's a show that's stuck with them: in their recent collaboration, TV (The Book), it scores 104 out of 120 points on the scale the pair devised to rank the greatest American television shows of all time.

While at the Star-Ledger Sepinwall and Seitz spent ten years working together on a daily column called "All TV." It featured reviews, debates, and even more conceptual pieces, like the summary of a fictional lawsuit by the passengers on Gilligan's Island against Skipper, or an interview with Noah Wyle's beard on E.R. The two have been itching to find a way to collaborate ever since, and so they took on the task of creating their personal "Pantheon" of the 100 greatest shows ever.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

MTV’s Unlocking the Truth is too focused on white men

Posted By on 08.22.16 at 11:00 AM

Eva Nagao and Ryan Ferguson star in MTV's Unlocking the Truth - COURTESY OF MTV
  • Courtesy of MTV
  • Eva Nagao and Ryan Ferguson star in MTV's Unlocking the Truth

In the last two years, stories of possible wrongful convictions have taken the true-crime genre by storm. To the Serial podcast and Netflix's Making a Murderer, we can now add MTV's Unlocking the Truth.

"It could happen to anyone" says Ryan Ferguson in the opening scenes of the show, as he explains his own story. When Ferguson was 19, he was convicted of murdering a newspaper editor in his hometown of Columbia, Missouri, and sentenced to 40 years in prison. After his case got picked up by Chicago-based attorney Kathleen Zellner—who has successfully litigated exonerations for 17 men and now represents Steven Avery of Making a Murderer—attorneys found that evidence against Ferguson was obtained through coerced false confessions by local police and prosecutors. Ferguson spent ten years in prison before being exonerated in 2013.

Last year, a documentary film about Ferguson's case caught the attention of MTV producers.

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