stars, sex and nudity buzz : 06/01/2012

'True Blood' season 5: Check out 11 spoilers 

The racy HBO series "True Blood," which stars Anna Paquin, real-life husband Stephen Moyer and Alexander Skarsgard, returns on June 10.

Season 5 will see two major characters becoming closer, a massive vampire power struggle and the return of some familiar faces.
Check out 11 spoilers below.
1. There's a bromance a'brewin' ...
Vampires Bill and Eric, played by Moyer and Skarsgard, have fought over part-fairy Sookie, played by Paquin, for the past four seasons and basically hate each other. But in season 5, the two join forces because "they have to,' according to Skarsgard.
"They killed the wrong vampire at the end of season 4," he told correspondent Maria Sansone at the Los Angeles premiere on Wednesday, May 30. "They shouldn't have done that. So they've got some powerful enemies now and because of that, they have to learn to work together and that's weird and awkward but then suddenly Eric's kind of like, 'Damn I kind of like this guy now' and that's the new feeling and he's uncomfortable with it."
Moyer added: "We've put ourselves into this really dark situation that if we don't work together, we're going to do die so we will do it together."
2. ... and Sookie's oblivious.
Paquin told that Sookie "doesn't really know" about the Bill-Eric alliance.
"We the audience know that," she said. "But Sookie, as far she knows, thinks they're still hanging out in his house in bathrobes."
3. Meet The Vampire Authority.
Lucy Griffiths is one of the newcomers to "True Blood." She plays Eric's sister, Nora, a member of the Vampire Authority.
"I think in the past ... the vampires have been isolated a little bit," she told "I mean you've had Pam and Eric together and you've had to an extent, Bill and Eric together, working kind of as a team but there's a team of vampires in this season who are members of The Authority, which is like a vampire government, and they are extremists and as a result, not necessarily kind to the humans."
Christopher Meloni, formerly of "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit," makes his debut on the fifth season of "True Blood" as the Guardian, or ancient leader of the Vampire Authority.
4. Speaking of ancient vampires ... guess who's back ... and hungry ...
Russell Edgington, the evil former vampire king of Mississippi, was revealed in season 4 to have apparently survived after being buried in a deadly mix of silver and cement.
"I get to dance, I get to sing a little bit, I get to fall in love again," Denis O'Hare, who plays the character, told "I get to fall in love with a new person. I get to eat again after being buried under cement. I get to put on weight and I think I ever fly a little bit in the season, I can't remember. I get to come back to life, which is the most exciting thing of all."
5. Will Sookie bat for the other team - Team Werewolf?
Season 4 saw Sookie and werewolf Alcide, played by Joe Manganiello, get a bit cozy as she continued to deal with her feelings for Bill and Eric.
"Something may or not happen between Sookie and Alcide this year - you never know," Manganiello told
However, before the two can even think about romance, there's some cleanup to be done in Sookie's house. Alcide's troubled lover and fellow werewolf Debbie was less than thrilled with his special friendship with Sookie. She attacks her with a shotgun, but her bullet hits the girl's best friend Tara instead. Sookie then kills Debbie.
"We've got a big ol' mess in the kitchen to clean up after the whole Debbie Pelt terror shotgun head incident," Paquin told "It's going to have a bit of fallout as far as the Alcide of it all because 'Oops, I had to blow your ex-love of your life's head off with a shotgun because she may have just murdered my best friend.' Maybe a little bit of a hurdle for romance. Or maybe not."
" Also, the boys have gone off to sort of do their own thing and she's sort of said goodbye to both of them, both to Bill and to Eric, and she can't really every get those guys out of her life forever.," the actress added.
6. There's probably going to be a LOT of howling.
Manganiello said there is "a whole bunch of new werewolves on the show this year," including Alcide's father. Kelly Overton, who plays another one named Rikki, told that portraying a "True Blood" werewolf is "just amazing."
7. Pam's history is revealed.
Eric's sidekick Pam, played by Kristin Bauer van Straten, has always been a little .. odd. Season 5 will explain why she "is the way she is," the actress told
8. Welcome, Scott Foley from "Felicity." Hope you like it hot.
Season 4 saw Scott Foley, formerly from the sci-fi-ish drama series "Felicity," make his debut as Patrick, the war buddy of Terry, Arlene's husband, played by Todd Lowe. Terry was astonished to see him when he showed up at Merlotte's Bar and Grill, because he thought he was dead.
"We're going to see the start of what's going on with Terry," Lowe told "We're going to get a little bit of clue, that's going to involve some fire. What I can say about Terry is that there's going to be some fire involved and we'll see where it goes from there."
9. Watch out, Sam ... and everyone else ..
The fate of shapeshifter and bar owner Sam, played by Sam Trammell, remains in question.
"There was a werewolf who looked like he or she was going to eat me, so we'll see a resolve to that," the actor told "This is really one of the most dangerous years for me, for Sam."
"Everybody's just trying to stay alive. There's the Authority and then there's a whole kind of entity that's pissed off about supernatural beings running around," said Janina Gavankar, who plays Luna, Sam's girlfriend and a fellow shapeshifter.
Lauren Bowles, who plays Wiccan waitress Holly, says "everyone is in survival mode" in season 5.
10. Luna gets a bit looney.
"It's a tough year to be a shifter," Gavankar said. "Luna is trying to just keep things together. I thought when I was experiencing her last year that it was rough for her last year but oh my goodness me - she can't control herself and when you're a shifter who can't control yourself, that means many different things and through this season you will find out what that means."
11. Oh hi, Tara. And Jesus.
Rutina Wesley, who plays Tara, appears in at least the first three episodes of season 5 of "true Blood," according to episode synopses, indicating that the character did survive the shooting. The actress was all smiles at the Los Angeles premiere. She said season 5 will be more of a "politically-charged drama."
"This season, we're going to meet the Authority and we're going to see all the sort of power struggles and political struggles that is between the Authority's agenda," she said. " The characters, as far as the rest of us characters, we're going to have to kind of figure out which side we're on this season and it's going to be really interesting to see how that plays out."
Kevin Alejandro played Jesus, boyfriend of Sookie's coworker and friend Lafayette, and was killed in season 4. The actor also spoke to at the premiere of season 5.
"I might pop up here in the show," Alejandro said. "My death did have a really big effect on Lafayette's character and the people around him so my presence is definitely felt. Everyone is afraid of getting killed off but on this show, it's like, 'Eh, I might come back some day.'"
O'Hare explained the dynamics of character deaths on "True Blood" pretty well, telling "Unfortunately if you're staked and your head's cut off and you're reduced to a blob of goo, you're gone. But you can come back as a ghost, which is fantastic, so as long as your head is intact, you're OK."


Katia Winter to Strip for Dexter in the Name of Mother Russia

Katia Winter to Strip for Dexter in the Name of Mother RussiaIs good to be the Dexter Morgan, no? Yes! There's perks to being killer. Now, the dark passenger is ready to take deep whiff of the former communist black with the latest casting news from "Dexter" Season 7! Is good! You like!
TVLine reports that Swedish born actress Katia Winter (pictured right), best known for her role as Lutz’s seductress in last year’s Hunger Games-esque action thriller Arena, is joining the show cast in a recurring role as a Russian stripper who works in a Miami club.
One of the most acclaimed shows on television, "Dexter" stars Michael C. Hall, who has earned multiple Emmy nominations as well as a Golden Globe award for his role as a complicated and conflicted blood-spatter expert for the Miami police department who moonlights as a serial killer. The show has received multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for best television drama series, as well as a prestigious Peabody Award in 2008, and was twice named one of AFI's Top Ten television series.
The series also stars Jennifer Carpenter, Desmond Harrington, C.S. Lee, Lauren Vélez, David Zayas, and James Remar. Season 7 guest stars announced thus far include Ray Stevenson and Jason Gedrick. John Goldwyn, Sara Colleton, Scott Buck, Manny Coto, Tim Schlattmann, Wendy West, and Michael C. Hall are the executive producers .

* Do I have to spell it out? Nudity galore...on Dexter? Don't think so. Katia probably topless in one or two episodes.


Trishna - Official Trailer [HD]

Release Date: 13 July 2012
Genre: Drama
Cast: Freida Pinto, Riz Ahmed and Anurag Kashyap
Directors: Michael Winterbottom
Writer: Thomas Hardy
Studio: IFC Films
Plot: The story of the tragic relationship between the son of a property developer and the daughter of an auto rickshaw owner.


Fifty Shades of Grey casting

This is who I pictured while reading E. L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Enjoy!


5 Reasons Why Sex Scenes Matter

Snowbound with a StrangerGuest Blog by Rebecca Rogers Maher, author of Snowbound with a Stranger

I recently watched the Jake Gyllenhall/Anne Hathaway movie, Love and Other Drugs. It was pretty good overall, but when it came to the sex scenes, HOLY COW. That was some of the most intense, realistic, and powerful sex I’ve seen in a mainstream movie. You might think I’m pervy for wanting to see this on screen, but I would argue that you can’t truly understand a romantic relationship without understanding the conflicts and dynamics of a couple’s sexual life, especially in the beginning.
My newest release—a contemporary romance novella from Carina Press called Snowbound with a Stranger, contains a whole lotta sex scenes. Even though it makes dinner conversations with extended family VERY AWKWARD, I’m proud of this aspect of my book. In fact, I think we should see more sex—on screen and in books—and I’m here today at Love Romance Passion to tell you why.

1. Sex Scenes Help Us Understand the Characters.

As writers we constantly put our characters in precarious situations, just to see what they will do. When I read a book, what motivates me to dig deeply into the story is a curiosity about how the characters will handle the challenges set before them. Will they be courageous or cowardly? Generous or selfish? Cruel or kind? I want to know what they’ll do, and to think about what I would do, or how I would feel, in their shoes. As writers and readers we set our characters up over and over to face difficult, scary, exhilarating situations. Well, sex is all of these things, and most adults find themselves in sexual situations quite regularly (one hopes). So why wouldn’t we put our characters there too, to see how they would handle themselves?
Sex is a vulnerable experience. In romance novels we have the luxury and privilege of exploring the most vulnerable kind of sex—the kind that springs from a deep, personal connection to another human being. The kind that comes from love. In these scenes, we find out who a character is deep down, with all their defenses stripped away.
I love those moments when a character is completely laid bare. Because that is how you know who someone truly is—when you see that person in his or her most vulnerable state.

2. Sex Scenes Advance the Plot.

That is, they should. I’ve read many novels in which the relationship slowly develops, where the hero and heroine gradually get to know one another and learn each other’s histories and idiosyncrasies, and then we get to the sex scene and suddenly for ten pages we’re in a porn flick, and then afterward the relationship resumes. That’s almost more frustrating than no sex scene at all. Something happens emotionally when two people make love, especially when they’re falling in love. Conflicts, fears, insecurities, power issues, secret desires—they come up in the bedroom, and these feelings are connected to and indistinguishable from any of the other issues that arise between two people who are knitting their lives together.
It’s interesting to me how people navigate these tender moments when the stakes are so high and so heated. Sex brings all our issues to a boil, and the way characters navigate these boiling waters will help move the story forward, either by intensifying the conflict or helping to heal it.

3. Sex Scenes Help Us Explore Women’s Sexual Agency.

One of the best things about the romance genre is its celebration of female desire. Our heroines are passionate women who need and deserve satisfying sexual relationships. Last night I watched the pilot of the HBO show, Girls, a show that’s received a lot of critical attention. I respect Lena Dunham and admire her work, but I really hate the way sex is presented in this show and in her film, Tiny Furniture. Essentially, the women get nothing out of it, physically or emotionally. I understand that that’s a realistic, though sad, depiction, but I prefer the way of the romance novel. In romance novels, our heroines experience deep sexual connection and satisfaction.
Without having read these books at a young age, for example, I would never have known that this is what I was entitled to. I wouldn’t have known what to look for and what to demand. I would have settled for a nice, bland guy (if I was lucky) and spent the rest of my life frustrated. But I knew my husband by the bolt of lightning that ran from his body into mine the first time he put his hand on my arm. We’ve been together for fifteen years now and like most couples we’ve had our ups and downs, but that spark is stronger than ever. I believe that that almost cellular physical connection is completely necessary in a strong romantic relationship, and it’s romance novels that taught me this. Specifically, it was the sex scenes in romance novels, and the hotter the better. In them, women get their sexual needs met, and this is exactly how it should be.

4. Sex Scenes Show That There’s Nothing Shameful About Sex.

There’s a lot of weirdness about sex in our culture. Everywhere you look there’s an advertisement using sex to sell a product. People spend a kajillion dollars on porn every year, and half the people you meet are secretly daydreaming about sex while you’re trying to have a conversation with them. Yet we get all squirrelly when the subject comes up directly in real life. Well, guess what? People have sex with each other every single day. We think about sex. We struggle with sex. We enjoy sex. IT’S HAPPENING. And there’s no reason why we can’t explore it directly in art. There’s no reason why we can’t wonder how people navigate it or describe how they do so. Sex is natural and beautiful and it doesn’t need to be hidden. A powerful sex scene makes that statement loud and clear.

5. Sex Scenes Are Fun.

I wouldn’t write romance novels if I didn’t have a good old time writing about sex, and I wouldn’t read ‘em if I didn’t enjoy seeing other people do the same.
Life is short. Sex scenes are fun. They also can be emotionally powerful and challenging. The best ones are all three at once.

Rebecca Rogers Maher Author Photo
Rebecca Rogers Maher lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and children. She is the author of the Recovery Trilogy—I’ll Become the Sea, Snowbound with a Stranger and the forthcoming Fault Lines (September 2012)—from Carina Press.


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cockteasers : Brie Larson

22-years actress-singer Brie Larson is without a doubt one of the top cock-teasers on silver screen. It's only matter of time before she gets naked. You can take that to the bank. But at the moment she is fucking around with us. As the scene in Tanner Hall shows Brie have no issue walking around topless on the set without modesty patch. She is like Jennifer Aniston. Perfectly okay to be nude in front of productions crew but not for the public eye.
She was practically bottomless in the scene with Chris Kattan in Tanner Hall (only released thanks to Rooney Mara bull's eye with TGWTDT). You can see her clit in quick freeze-frame.
We could have another Willa Ford in our hands in near future.

(vid details in screen-cap)

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Kate Upton : Jiggy Wiggy Bikini GIFs

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stars, sex and nudity buzz : 05/31/2012

Game of Thrones Season 3 Casting News! The Reeds are coming!
The Reeds are in! has a list of new characters coming to HBO’sGame of Thrones in season three. Fans have been wondering which names from George R.R. Martin’s third Song of Ice and Fire novel A Storm of Swords will be introduced next year, especially since the lengthy book is being divided into two seasons.
We recently spoke to showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss about some of the show’s creative departures from the novels this season. “[Jojen and Meera Reed] haven’t been written out,” Benioff says. “It’s important to point out that that we have the largest cast on television right now. We introduced dozens of new characters in season two. If you hurl 300 characters at an audience, the story collapses under the weight of too many faces, too many names, and too many subplots. We need to be just as mindful of the audience members who have never read the books as we are of the readers; the series will fail if we only appeal to those who already know the characters. So we try to be parsimonious about how many new roles we introduce to the story and when we introduce them.”
That said, here’s who will appear  in season three:
– Mance Rayder: We’ve heard about him all season. A former member of the Night’s Watch who became the “King Beyond the Wall,” the leader of the Wildlings. 
– Daario Naharis: A confident and seductive warrior. 
– Jojen Reed; Meera Reed: A teenage brother and sister duo with special insights.
– Edmure Tully: A brash young member of the Tully family.
– Ser Brynden Tully (The Blackfish): Catelyn Stark’s uncle.
– Lady Selyse Florent: Stannis Baratheon’s wife.
– Shireen: Stannis’ daughter.
– Olenna Redwyne (The Queen of Thorns): Margaery Tyrell’s sharp-witted grandmother.
– Beric Dondarrion: A skilled knight who is the leader of the outlaw group Brotherhood Without Banners.
– Thoros of Myr: A red priest who follows the same religion as Melisandre.
– Tormund Giantsbane: A Wildling raider.
Now, if a character is not listed here, does that mean they are not in season three? Apparently not. Because Benioff then added:  “And a few others…holy hell that’s a lot of new faces.”
So readers, who would YOU cast in these roles?


Spring Breakers’ Reviews: Critics Love Selena Gomez’s New Movie

The film debuted a brief clip at the Cannes Film Festival to rave reviews — Justin Bieber must be so happy for her!

Selena Gomez has been working so hard on her film career, and it seems to be paying off — early reviews
of her upcoming movie Spring Breakers are stellar!

Selena, 19, stars in the racy flick, and fans were treated to an early peek of a preview at the Cannes Film Festival. The consensus? It will be amazing!

The best thing I’ve seen so far in Cannes: the outdoor movie Harmony Korine, Spring Breakers, alongside Tarantino movie. Harm is back!” wrote Twitter user Tom Charity.

We saw a few minutes. Struck me see Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens in such extreme scenes for the film from Korine.” wrote Twitter user Diego Batlle.

The craziest movie of 2013? To be a Harmony Korine movie with theft, lesbian scenes, and punk. And James Franco with gold teeth.” wrote Twitter user Filiberto Molossi.

After seeing the film's three-minute trailer at Cannes premiere this year, Craig Skinner wrote,
"Nothing in the sizzle reel shown hinted at anything as graphic or indeed strange as Gummo, Kids, Ken Park, or Trash Humpers, but there were a number of scenes involving drinking, drug taking, some minor nudity, arrests, and a lot of guns. Also, the main characters were in bikinis throughout the reel, including a scene shot in a courtroom, and it seemed clear that Korine was making the most of the young actresses seemingly shedding their former clean cut Disney personae."

It sounds like such an extreme role for Selena — we can’t wait for it to come to the big screen!


Magic City actresses dish on their Starz drama

Dominik Garcia-Lorido, Kelly Lynch, Elena Satine
In this March 22, 2012 file photo, cast members, from left, Dominik Garcia-Lorido, Kelly Lynch and Elena Satine pose together at the premiere of the Starz original series "Magic City" at The Academy Theater at Lighthouse International in New York. The "Magic City," season finale airs Friday at 10 p.m. EDT.

NEW YORK (AP) — "It's funny that we're doing this together," says Dominik Garcia-Lorido, who for this interview is joined by her "Magic City" co-stars Kelly Lynch and Elena Satine. She explains: "Our characters are the three women on the show who don't need a man!"
She has a point. On this Starz drama series set in fast-living 1959 Miami Beach, the other fabulous femmes are married: Vera (played by Olga Kurylenko) is happily wed to hotel magnate Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), while Lily (Jessica Marais) is joined in stormy matrimony with mob boss Ben Diamond (Danny Huston).
No such entanglements for this independent threesome, though their differences from one another are as marked as anything they have in common.

On "Magic City," whose season finale airs Friday at 10 p.m. EDT, Mercedes Lazaro (played by Garcia-Lorido) is working part-time as a housekeeper at the Miramar Playa, the luxurious hotel built by Ike Evans, while she trains to be a Pan Am stewardess.

"When I first heard 'Cuban maid' I was so running in the other direction," says Garcia-Lorido, who, as the daughter of actor Andy Garcia, is herself of Cuban descent. "But while, back then, a Cuban-Catholic girl of 21 would probably have been married with kids, this girl is about to work for Pan Am and travel the world."
Then love catches her off-guard in the form of unexpected romance with her childhood friend — and younger son of Ike — Danny Evans (played by Christian Cooke). But that doesn't mean she automatically abandons her dreams. In this week's episode, she's ready to fly as she proudly models her Pan Am uniform for Danny.
"I had a very intense first love, so I had a desire to tell Mercedes' story," confides Garcia-Lorido (whose films include "The Last Goodbye" and "City Island").

Lynch's character, Meg Bannock, is the classy, moneyed older sister of Ike's deceased first wife whose bankroll could spring Ike from the grip of Ben, aka "the Butcher," his thuggish silent partner.
"Because of Meg's extreme wealth, she doesn't need a man for any reason other than for fun or distraction," says Lynch (whose credits include "Drugstore Cowboy," ''Desperate Hours" and the series "The L Word"). "But Meg does have that human need — which is family," and that means rapprochement with Ike, her brother-in-law, from whom she's been estranged for several years.

Finally, Judi Silver (Satine) is a high-priced escort often found in the Miramar Playa's posh Atlantis Lounge — and lately found in jeopardy thanks to the company she keeps.
"I'm always attracted to playing broken, damaged people," says Marais. "I knew Judi wasn't going to just be this happy-go-lucky girl who's a hooker for fun. She's the life of the party, but underneath lies some real darkness for her."
That darkness includes a prison cell where Judi is jailed, in trouble with the law as well as the mob.

Marais says she has long been fascinated — "obsessed" is her word — with the period in which "Magic City" is set.
"I read the autobiography of Judith Exner, who was mistress to (Chicago crime boss) Sam Giancana and John Kennedy and Frank Sinatra, and the three of them were seen having drinks together at the Fontainebleau Hotel" — the real-life Miami Beach resort that helped inspire the fictitious Miramar Playa. "It makes you think: Miami Beach is where everything happened, where everybody — gangsters, politicians, movie stars — intermingled. And where their secrets were kept."

Kept, that is, until they were exposed in glaring, dishy detail.

Says Lynch, "That Rat Pack-Lenny Bruce-Sinatra-Dean-Martin time was so cool and so hip! And so sexy! When we get dressed in our costumes and our 1950s undergarments, I look at myself in the mirror and think, 'This is much better than what's going on with Spanx!'
"But then, so quickly, it was over — slammed up against the '60s."
Even so, there's no end in sight for "Magic City." Already renewed for a second season, it draws on the bountiful memories of series creator Mitch Glazer (Lynch's husband), who grew up in Miami Beach in that glamorous time and, as a teen, was a cabana boy at Collins Avenue's Deauville hotel.
"I've been hearing these stories for 23 years," says Lynch. "When Mitch and I first got together, we would tell each other about our past lives. I grew up in Minnesota and I would tell him about ice fishing. He would tell me, 'I once had lunch with (legendary mobster) Meyer Lansky.'
"I'd say, 'OK, you win.'"


The 2012 Cannes Film Festival: A Recap

Beasts of the Southern WildBonjour, amigos! I was thrilled to attend the Cannes Film Festival for the first time this year, fulfilling a dream I’d had ever since I learned that you don’t pronounce the “s.” It’s not possible for any one human to see every movie playing at Cannes (especially when the human in question is lazy), but I did manage to catch 18 of them in the eight days I was there. Here’s a rundown, arranged in order from trés bon to trés mauvais.

The best Cannes film I saw was actually a holdover from Sundance:

“Beasts of the Southern Wild”, a lyrical and poignant drama about a little girl living in the bayous of Louisiana. Having already won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, it won the Cannes prize for best first film and is destined to be one of the most talked-about indie films of 2012 when it opens theatrically on June 29. Watch for it. Grade: A-

Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” was Cannes’s opening night selection, marking the director’s first visit to the Palais des Festivals. (As a filmmaker, anyway. Maybe he’s been there as an audience member.) It’s playing in New York and Los Angeles now, and will expand to more theaters in the next couple weeks. Grade: A-

“Reality,” by Cannes alumni Matteo Garrone (“Gomorrah”), offers a Fellini-esque satire of celebrity culture in the story of a man who wants desperately to become a star by being a “Big Brother” contestant. Oscilloscope Laboratories (the one founded by Beastie Boys’ Adam “MCA” Yauch) will distribute the film in the U.S., so you’ll be able to see it sometime this year. Grade: B+

One of France’s best contemporary directors, Jacques Audiard (“A Prophet”), returned to Cannes with
“Rust and Bone,” an exceptionally well-acted drama about a brutal lout (Matthias Schoenaerts) and his strange relationship with a tragically injured orca-trainer (Marion Cotillard). Sony Classics will bring it to U.S. theaters. Grade: B+

“The Angels’ Share” comes to us from Ken Loach, the socially conscious British director whose “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” won the Palme d’Or in 2006. But “The Angels’ Share,” written by regular collaborator Paul Laverty, is much more lighthearted than the I.R.A.-based “Barley,” being concerned with nothing more than the exploits of some Glasgow delinquents who want to steal some very old, very valuable whisky. It’s the “Ocean’s Eleven” of whisky-heist movies! And what a charming, sweet-natured comedy it is! Robbie (Paul Brannigan), a young former hoodlum seeking to stay out of trouble so he can care for his girlfriend and newborn son, befriends some of the low-level criminals with whom he’s assigned to do community service. Their supervisor, a kindly, coach-like middle-aged man named Harry (John Henshaw), is a whisky aficionado, and he begins to share his expertise with Robbie and the crew, leading to a scheme to pilfer a few bottles’ worth from a recently discovered cask of rare booze about to be auctioned. (For the purposes of the film, stealing old whisky does not qualify as a “crime.”) Robbie and his pals — including dim-bulb Albert (Gary Maitland) and punk-girl Mo (Jasmine Riggins) — are a fun bunch of tart-tongued Scots, and watching their adventures is a pleasure. (Sundance Selects, a division of IFC Films, will distribute in the U.S.) Grade: B+

One thing you should know about me is that I love “Kill List,” a sinister, unsettling British thriller released in the U.K. last year and the U.S. this year. As off-the-rails as that movie gets, I love its audacity. Now its director, Ben Wheatley, has followed it up with “Sightseers,” a morbid comedy that’s less ambitious but perhaps more conventionally entertaining. (“Kill List” is dark, man.) Written by its stars, Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, both of whom had minor roles in “Kill List,” “Sightseers” is the story of a sheltered 34-year-old near-spinster named Tina who takes a camping vacation with her new boyfriend, Chris, whom her batty old mother doesn’t trust. It is revealed soon enough that Chris has some sociopathic tendencies; the question is whether this behavior will bring out similar instincts in the timid but eager-to-please Tina. What follows is pitch-black and funny, nearly as dismal as “Kill List” but played for laughs rather than horror. Lowe and Oram’s natural performances are authentic and un-showy, like two ordinary people who happen to get involved in some casual bloodshed. By stripping away the usual trappings of movies about psychos — no longwinded explanations of why anybody does what he does — Wheatley lets us simply revel in the consequence-free mayhem. (IFC has U.S. distribution rights.) Grade: B

“Amour” was this year’s Palme d’Or winner, a bit of a coup for writer-director Michael Haneke, whose “The White Ribbon” took top honors in 2009: six other filmmakers have won the Palme d’Or twice in their careers, but no one’s done it in such a short span of time. Strangely enough, “Amour” — by the man who made the controversial and unsettling “Funny Games,” “The Piano Teacher,” and “Cache” — was the “safe” choice this time, a film liked by most and loved by a few that didn’t bring any particular baggage with it. Don’t worry that Haneke has gone soft, though. His story of an elderly man (Jean-Louis Trintignant) caring for his beloved wife (Emmanuelle Riva) after a debilitating stroke is unnerving in its own way — heartfelt and tender, but with an undercurrent of foreboding. Haneke’s cold style of long takes and frequent silences forces us to spend a lot of time doing nothing with the old codgers, which the sympathetic performances make us happy to do. Though the film doesn’t have much emotional impact, it does have a way of burrowing into your head and making you worry about what you and your sweetheart will do when you get old. (Sony Classics will distribute in the U.S.) Grade: B

“Killing Them Softly,” starring Brad Pitt as an underworld enforcer called in after a mob-run poker game is robbed, is based on George V. Higgins’ 1974 novel “Cogan’s Trade.” But writer/director Andrew Dominik (“Chopper,” “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”) has added something that makes it stand out from the run-of-the-mill Tarantino-ish crime drama it otherwise resembles: He’s set it against the backdrop of the 2008 financial collapse and the American presidential election that was happening at the same time. The actions of the movie’s criminals therefore become a commentary on how the U.S. responded to the economic crisis: punishing scapegoats in a public, message-sending manner while letting those at the top go free; doing little to prevent it from happening again; that sort of thing. As un-subtle as Dominik is, at least he doesn’t get too political, and “Killing Them Softly” works as a cool, unsavory blend of slow-motion bloodshed and amusingly vulgar gangster dialogue. (Opens theatrically Sept. 21.) Grade: B

As far as crowd-pleasing crime dramas about Prohibition-era bootleggers go, “Lawless” is a bloody good time. Yes, Shia LaBeouf plays the main character. Get over it. Tom Hardy is here, too, as are Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, and Gary Oldman. It opens theatrically on Aug. 31, just in time to keep Hardy’s momentum going after everyone loves him in “The Dark Knight Rises.” Grade: B

Did you ever watch a David Cronenberg film like “Videodrome” or “Naked Lunch” or “The Fly” and wonder if the director’s son, Brandon Cronenberg, would grow up to be just as weird as his dad? “Antiviral” has your answer, and the answer is, “Eww, yes.” The 32-year-old junior Cronenberg’s debut feature is set in a sterile white metropolis in which the latest trend is being infected with the same diseases as your favorite celebrities. And not just the same disease, but the actual strain that your idol has, as if you it were passed straight from her mouth to yours. (Pharmaceutical companies strike deals with willing stars to take samples of their viruses and sell them to consumers.) Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones), a technician at one of the companies dealing in such things, gets involved in the black market; that’s when the plot goes a little stale, with corporate espionage and conspiracies and a hammy Malcolm McDowell. Cronenberg has created a creepy and compelling world, though, even if the story he tells in it doesn’t resonate. (No U.S. distributor yet, but it’s bound to get picked up by someone.) Grade: B-

Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami’s “Certified Copy,” starring Juliette Binoche and William Shimell, made waves in indie circles when it was released in the U.S. last year, showing up on a handful of top-10 lists and bringing the director to the attention of a lot of people who’d never heard of him. (He’s been making movies since 1970; “Certified Copy” was his 40th.) Riding on that wave of success, Kiarostami returned to Cannes with “Like Someone in Love,” a Japanese-language drama that plays on many of the same themes. A young college student who works part-time as an escort is dispatched to spend an evening with a wholesome old professor who is mistaken by the girl’s controlling boyfriend to be her grandfather. The intrigue (such as it is) of “Like Someone in Love” hinges, as did “Certified Copy’s,” on the uncertainty of identity: who are these people, and how are they connected to one another? My reaction was about the same, too: I’m enraptured by the slow-moving, methodical storytelling while it’s happening, but when it’s over I’m unsatisfied. I’m the quintessential rube who says “That’s it?” when the lights come up. Whatever is going on in these two films, it’s not for me. But my hunch is that those who loved “Certified Copy” will be somewhat less fond of “Like Someone in Love,” which feels like a less effective version of its predecessor. (IFC’s Sundance Selects division will distribute the film in the U.S.) Grade: B-

Walter Salles’ version of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” long thought to be unfilmable, is probably about as good as any adaptation of the distinctively written Beat novel could be. It’s hard to translate Kerouac’s style to the visual medium of film, so Salles (with a screenplay by his “Motorcycle Diaries” collaborator Jose Rivera) doesn’t knock himself out attempting it. Instead, he focuses on the plot, such as it is, with Kerouac avatar Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) falling under the spell of charismatic Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) in the late 1940s, traveling the country with him and his sexually adventurous wife (Kristen Stewart). Everybody’s too good-looking to be accurate reflections of the real people these characters are based on, but I guess that’s a common problem with turning books into movies. My greater concern with “On the Road” is that while it’s fairly engaging and well-shot, it does nothing to convey why the book it’s based on — or the Beat movement as a whole — ever mattered to anyone. There’s a certain ineffable magic about the book that just doesn’t come across here. (Sundance Selects/IFC has this one in the U.S.) Grade: B-

Another Sundance holdover, “Room 237″ is a shoddily assembled but entertaining documentary about several crazy people’s crazy theories about hidden messages in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.” One enthusiast is convinced the film is all about the Holocaust; another asserts that every time the movie deviates from Stephen King’s novel, it’s because Kubrick is inserting a clue about his involvement in faking the Apollo 11 moon-landing footage. (Nobody’s saying we didn’t land on the moon. That would be a crackpot theory! All they’re saying is that the footage we saw of it was fake.) Director Rodney Ascher uses clips from “The Shining” and other films to illustrate what’s being discussed by the unseen enthusiasts, whose names are given once at the beginning and not mentioned again. Some theories about the film’s layers make sense and can be reasonably supported by what’s on the screen. (The hotel’s floor plan is shown to be impossible, for example.) Other theories are just silly. (The placement of a tray on the hotel manager’s desk is said to represent his erection, for example.) “Room 237″ is inelegant in the way it assembles all this stuff — it seems to dump it on the floor and say, “Here, you sort this out” — but anyone who’s ever obsessed over the subtext of a beloved movie will find it amusing. (IFC will distribute in the U.S.) Grade: C+

“The Sapphires” is a generically inspiring fact-based story of four Australian Aborigine girls who formed a singing group in 1968 and performed for the troops in Vietnam. Whatever uplifting traits the real events had, they’ve been muted by director Wayne Blair’s sappy treatment, which turns them into a by-the-numbers musical drama that hastily moves through the requisite plot points. (“I refuse to join you three in forming this group!” [BING BONG] “I changed my mind! I’m going to join you!” “You four are clearly unrehearsed, and your audition was so-so at best — but congratulations, you’ve got the job!” “How are we ever going to overcome this racism?” “Hooray! We have overcome this racism!”) Chris O’Dowd plays the girls’ boozy, shiftless pianist/manager — of course he’s boozy, and of course he’s shiftless — and earns a few laughs in the process. The late-’60s soul music is energizing, and the film is harmless and forgettable. It isn’t bad; it’s just ordinary. (The Weinstein Company will release it in the U.S.) Grade: C

Ye Lou, regularly at odds with government censors in his native China, was last at Cannes with “Spring Fever” (2009), which won the festival’s screenplay prize, and before that with the sexually explicit “Summer Palace” (2006), which was banned in China. But his latest, a lurid soap opera called “Mystery,” is a bust, a confusing jumble of adultery and hell-hath-no-fury-like-a-woman-scorned melodrama. Yongzhao is cheating on his wife, Lu Jie. Lu Jie’s friend Sang Qi believes her own husband is cheating, too. Meanwhile, a young lady is hit by a car, and the cops don’t think it was an accident. These threads come together drearily, in a way that’s somehow unsurprising (the “mystery” element is not mysterious), hard to follow, and hard to swallow. (No U.S. distribution.) Grade: C-

I can only recommend Yousry Nasrallah’s “After the Battle” (“Baad el Mawkeaa”) if you’re interested in a didactic, heavy-handed drama about the aftermath of the 2011 Egyptian uprising, and if you also like being bored. The story concerns a poor horseman named Mahmoud who was persuaded by President Mubarek’s people to assist in repelling the protesters. He has subsequently lost his livelihood and his standing in the community and is mocked by adults and children alike for having been on the wrong side of that conflict. A wealthy, cosmopolitan do-gooder named Reem tries to help him; mostly she delivers speeches. Nasrallah’s goal of showing the gray areas of a seemingly black-and-white situation is admirable, but his dry, verbose approach scuttles it. This feels like a lecture from an unenthusiastic college professor. (No U.S. distributor yet.) Grade: D+

Perhaps you caught Romanian director Cristian Mungiu’s searing abortion drama “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” a couple years ago and were eager to see what he would do next. The answer is “Beyond the Hills,” an excruciatingly tedious drama about a novice nun and her troubled friend. It won the Cannes prize for Best Screenplay (which consists of the same five pages photocopied 15 times) and for Best Actress on the part of the two leads, Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur (who are blank-faced and insufferable). Obviously I should have been on the Cannes jury, an oversight I am certain they will correct next year. You can decide for yourself when IFC releases “Beyond the Hills” stateside later this year. Grade: D

“Dario Argento’s Dracula” is an example of Cannes trying to implement a “midnight movie” subsection, which is a little like the Wall Street Journal trying to cover the dubstep scene. Did anyone at Cannes actually watch this 3-D (!) offering by the 71-year-old Italian horror legend before programming it? Or did they see Argento’s name on it and figure that was enough to earn some street cred with genre fans? Because this thing is terrible, y’all. Wooden acting, cheap special effects, awful dialogue, and a scene where Dracula transforms into a human-sized praying mantis. It’s the kind of thing you watch and laugh at … except that, like many bad movies, the novelty of ridiculing it wears off and it just becomes boring. (No U.S. distribution deal yet, but I have to assume it will show up on a bargain-priced DVD at some point.) Grade: F


Game Of Thrones Star Richard Madden Lands Role In Erotic Indie

Game Of Thrones Star Richard Madden Lands Role In Erotic Indie image
Given the enormous success of HBO’s Game of Thrones, it was only a matter of time before the cast members started getting longer looks for feature-film roles. With that in mind, it’s now being reported that Richard Madden, who plays Robb Stark on the program, will transition to the indie Long Nights Short Mornings in his Thrones down time.

And who can blame him? Short Mornings is being described by Variety’s ShowBlitz as the “erotic odyssey” of one man sleeping his way through New York City. The character Madden would play reportedly sets his sights on bedding seven women in as many nights. Chad Harboldd will direct the film, after bringing his feature-length debut Revenge for Jolly! to the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year.

Madden has also become one of the standout players on Game of Thrones, as his character … well, we’ll do our best to avoid spoilers for people who have not caught up on season two of the HBO series.

But it will be an interesting challenge for the actors starring in Thrones to branch out and find roles that don’t automatically cast them in knockoffs of the people they play on the hit show. Yes, it’s a period piece, but as Variety says, Madden was considered for a role in Warner’s Arthur and Lancelot, probably because he’s so effective in Thrones. Call it the “Tony Soprano” syndrome that James Gandolfini faced after his smash program went off of HBO. At least Long Nights sounds nothing like Thrones … well, except for all of the sex.


Steve Hirsch: Is Porn an Acceptable Career Option?

It's been frequently reported that porn has permeated the mainstream entertainment scene. A number of recent events convince me that this is actually happening.

Take the case of Nadya "Octomom" Suleman, who recently accepted an offer to do a solo masturbation video. Three years ago she rejected a $1-million offer Vivid made to her to star in an x-rated film. She told Oprah Winfrey that no matter how hard up for cash she was, the idea that she would appear in an adult movie was "completely unfathomable."

Today no one is surprised that she seems to be embracing porn, and there is little public backlash about her decision. The only controversy seems to be over her poor financial planning, not the method by which she's solving her money problems.

Was Octomom's porn decision part of a new norm? Is doing explicit films to pay the bills now seen as a viable and acceptable option?

Consider Chyna, the former world champion professional wrestler. Last year she made an adult film with Vivid Entertainment called Backdoor to Chyna. It became an enormous best-seller and she currently stars as "She-Hulk" in AvengersXXX: A Porn Parody. With the exception of a relatively small number of people, no one condemned Chyna for her decision to make porn films, and in fact she reports that "wrestling fans have been incredibly loyal to me."

Love it or leave it, porn seems now to be a part of mainstream pop culture. Today, just about everything in the media has sexual overtones, and porn fits right in.

When I founded Vivid in 1984 adult films were considered taboo and as a result, it wasn't easy for the public to access our movies. Only specialty theaters and adult bookstores sold porn videos, in part because the packaging was so blatantly sexual.

I made a decision to apply a mainstream sensibility to our cover artwork, and slowly we found our products accepted by more retailers...and in more prominent shelf positions. We bought billboards in Times Square and on Sunset Boulevard and put up tasteful pictures of our Vivid Girls in alluring costumes that only hinted at nudity. They caused a sensation, but no one ordered that they be taken down.

Today, Vivid and other adult studios have highly popular websites where their videos are sold 24/7 -- either for delivery at home in discreet packaging or for immediate download to the customer's computer. National retail chains sell our DVDs and hotels offer our movies to customers.

And the influence of adult entertainment has reached into the highest echelons of Hollywood. Consider our Vivid-Celeb imprint. Our first celeb movie, in 1998, was Pam and Tommy Lee: Hardcore and Uncensored, starring Pamela Anderson. It was an international sensation and one of the top-selling adult videos of all time. We've subsequently had blockbuster sex videos with celebrities ranging from Kim Kardashian to Montana Fishburne and from Kendra Wilkinson to Phil Varone.

There's plenty of interest in these explicit videos, but rarely censure. And sometimes, as in the case of Kim Kadashian, a sex tape leads to an empire.

The adult parody has also crossed over into the realm of an accepted genre. We produce a line of SuperXXXHero parodies with director Axel Braun, who is celebrated at mainstream "geek-fests" across America for his amazing attention to detail.

It is easy to remember a time when we would be attacked in the media for trying to degrade the reputations of all-American heroes... but not now. Rather than being attacked for "sullying" the images of iconic figures such as Spider-Man and Batman, our parodies are simply accepted (and celebrated) for what they are.

So, back to Octomom. After three years of refusing to work with Vivid she decided to do something she once condemned, and not surprisingly her decision has raised few eyebrows.

I think this is something Octomom wanted to do all along, which is why we kept making offers to her. She clearly didn't want a "regular" job; we offered that to her as well.

Perhaps we are growing as a society, on some levels at least. Of course there will always be those conservative groups that disagree with me, but clearly porn is more of an acceptable career option than it ever was before, as it should be. And one day, when Octomom tells her children what she did to help support them, they're sure to have 14 different opinions... but hopefully disapproval won't be one of them.


Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About (South) Korea But Were Too Afraid to Ask

Three years ago was the first time I stepped onto Korean soil. I still remember that moment quite vividly. The realization I had brought myself to Asia, and that I was completely alone, struck me deeply.
To mark the occasion, I will construct a list off the top of my head about things many people want to know about Korea, but maybe couldn’t work up the courage to ask. I probably should have planned this entry out in detail long before this, but I have been so busy lately, I had no spare time (literally. The moment I stopped working at my academy I came home to make tests and worksheets until I fell asleep). Some of it will be tongue-in-cheek, and some of the list will be dead honest. It’s up to you to determine which is which.
- For some reason, there are a great deal of people who view Korea as a 2nd World Country that had just climbed out of the 3rd World (some of you may be too young to know what 2nd World means, so go look it up). My own family, for the longest time, thought I couldn’t find even the simplest of necessities here. Maybe images of the Korean war are burned into peoples’ minds, and they are unaware the country has moved on since the 50’s.
Well, Korea is a pretty modern country, despite some people (notably Koreans) insisting it’s still a developing country. It’s a G20 country for cryin’ out loud, so you can’t construe an economy as strong as that as poor. Sure, there is a huge gap between poor and rich in this country, but that can be found in nearly every “developed” country.
So, no, Korea is not a poor country. Sure, the cost of living (aside from housing, and pre-university education) is less than North America, and the average Korean makes considerably less than the average Canadian, but the country is NOT poor.
- The fact it’s difficult to find deodorant in this country may have something to do with the misconception that Koreans stink [or maybe it’s from the food]. It’s a trend you can find everywhere though: Americans think Mexicans smell funny, Mexicans think Cubans smell funny, Cubans think Brazilians smell funny, Brazilians think Canadians smell funny, and Canadians think Torontonians smell funny.
Korean adults really don’t smell all that bad, even if they’re perspiring heavily. I don’t know how they do it, because I always think I reek when I sweat a lot (and I use deodorant). Korean men generally don’t smell like anything (some do wear cologne of some sort). Korean women usually have a distinctive perfume scent [which you’ll notice when they walk by you. It’s enough to set your heart all a’patter]. Even crowded buses on a hot day don’t stink as much as they did in Canada or America.
Korean children, on the other hand, can be a mixed bag. Some are odourless, while others are decidedly less so. Some smell like they haven’t bathed themselves in ages, and let the dried sweat accumulate into a heady aroma that will knock you out. Most, however, or just as clean-smellin’ as their adult counterparts.
This is before you factor in food and drink though. You’ll invariably encounter people who are not sober and reek of every alcohol under the Korean sun (and there are many varieties). The thick, musky smell of heavily fermented alcohol will leave you gasping for breath. Korean food can also assault the untrained nose once it’s been consumed. After eating Korean food, your breath could very well be classified as a biological weapon. If you’ve ever wondered what Korean food does to your digestive tract, try teaching in a room with a gassy student. You may very well not come out alive.
- North Korea is like a cockroach; it’s disgusting, irritating, and will make you shiver in fear/revulsion when it threatens you with close contact. Yet, the moment it gets too scary and close for comfort, you can nuke it out of existence with a can of spray.
North Korea scares the West more than it does South Korea. Sure, we don’t like the North’s posturing but we ignore it. When it truly threatens us, we know China, Russia, America and Japan can bombard it back into the Stone Age if the need arises.
- Most Koreans have different eyelids than non-Asian folks. How so? Their upper eyelid lacks mobility, so that it doesn’t move all that much. The lower eyelid can be a little fatty, as well, thereby restricting movement even more (making some Koreans unable to wink!). However, the natural resting size of a standard Korean eye is really no smaller than my eye’s regular resting state.
Koreans think that Westerners have big eyes, because “we” can bug our eyes out by pulling back the eyelids naturally. However most Westerners don’t walk around with a continuously surprised look upon their faces, so their eyes aren’t all that bigger than Koreans’.
Koreans will have surgery to give them double-eyelids (so they can do the bugged-out look too). Or they will put in contact lenses that make their irises look bigger, giving them an anime/manga look (really).
Koreans can have wider eyes though. The skin around the corners can be pulled pretty taut, for whatever reason (not sure about the evolutionary features of eyes, so I can’t comment on it). As a result, Korean glasses tend to be a little wider to accommodate their face. Longer rectangles are apparent in glass designs. When I went shopping for glasses, the store clerks were having trouble locating models with less breadth.
Of course there are many Koreans who have had surgery, or have naturally mobile eyelids (is that a common phrase? Because I’ve decided to make use of it). Despite what you may have learned in your stereotypes class, not all Asians look the same.
- What the hell? I just rebuked that!
The stereotype runs like this: all Asian have black hair, squinty eyes, broader jaws, and shorter noses. That being the case, it’s impossible to tell Asians apart, right?
Well, maybe. Admittedly, I had trouble in my first few weeks telling certain students and people apart. In Canada, I was used to ethnic diversity. To identify people I could look at eye colour, hair colour, skin tones, height, clothing styles etc. In Korea, eyes were normally darker colours, as was the hair. Skin tones varied, but not to the degree you can find in Canada. School uniforms in Korea don’t help differentiate people, either. My brain’s facial recognition programming had to find new ways to identify people.
The fact that when you come to Korea and can’t speak the language, remembering names is a nightmare. Then, when you can’t remember a face to attach to a name, you run into trouble.
As time passes, you finally get better at remembering facial details you never picked up before, and it gets easier until it’s natural.
So do Koreans, Japanese and Chinese look the same? Yes, and no. There are some people who claim to be able to tell the difference between the three nationalities, but I believe most of them don’t want to be thought of as “racist”, so they say they can differentiate to appear enlightened.
How are they the same? There has been so much inter-marriage over the centuries, that the bloodlines are more mixed than most people will admit. China and Mongolia would invade Korea at intervals, and when they were taking breaks, Japan would pick up the slack. The result? Biological diversity. If I were to show you a picture between a random Korean, Chinese and Japanese person, I’d doubt you’d be able to tell who’s who.
Because there isn’t one standard look with each nationality. There are Koreans with black hair, and brown hair. Koreans with thin noses, and broad noses. There are certain Koreans that look Japanese. There are certain Japanese that look different from certain Chinese.
So how can you tell them apart? Easy. Body language can be a dead giveaway. Hair grooming, as well. Traditional clothes is an easy one, but even regular clothes can be telling. Of course, the moment you hear them speak, you can easily tell what language they are talking in.
- It goes down easy, and then you will take a few more shots as people keep making toasts, or refilling your cup. Then you will take a few more shots as you really like the buzz you’ve got. Then…
It will destroy you. So many foreigners come over here and don’t fully respect the powers of soju. They think it goes down so quickly and gives you a warm tingly feeling, they disregard the warnings as babblings from people who couldn’t stomach their liquor.
Then, they have what they often call the worst hangover experience of their lives (which is saying something since most of them are fresh out of university). Even soju-veteran Koreans get destroyed by its potency on a regular basis, so don’t think your university-hardened liver can outmatch a Korean’s when it comes to soju.
It’s initially pretty tasteless, which makes its 15-20% alcohol content seem like a joke. But you won’t be laughing when you’re puking your guts out and looking for the nearest sharp object to put an end to your misery.
- They’re everything you’ve heard AND more.
You know Korean race girls? The models at car shows?

Would you believe that women like the above exist around nearly every corner in this country? There are average women downtown who look better than most super-models in North America.
[I’m not really one to objectify women based on looks. In fact, I’ve met many a pretty Korean whose vanity made me want to gag and run far away. Cute/pretty looks run hand-in-hand with vanity in this country, so if you think you can deal with a constantly preening girl who constantly wants you to tell her how hot she is, good luck]
- It’s an acquired taste for most. But when you acquire it, boy do you love it.
I’ve eaten Korean food some of my students won’t even touch, so I can safely say I enjoy it. It’s not all as strong/spicy as you’ve been lead to believe. Gimbap is a safe bet for beginners. Mulnaengmyeon is as well.
Or you can just jump to the barbecued meat…which will own your soul.
[For “weird” food, I’ve had: sea snails, snail soup, fried silkworm pupae, baby octopus, chicken feet, pig intestines, blood sausage, fish eggs, fish gut soup, chicken bowels…]
- Traditionally, yes. But now there are more people who abhor the practice and want it to end, than actually support it (those who support dog meat are basically a fringe group these days).
I’ve never eaten it, but I probably would if I were offered it. I don’t approve of how the meat is prepared though. The dog is hung upside down and beaten to a pulp with a club, while still alive.
- Taxi drivers and motorcyclists are.
- Boy, have I answered this question enough times!
Koreans are incredibly nationalistic. They pit their country against the global stage in nearly every matter. Individual achievements speak on behalf of the entire country. Kim Yuna is simply not the best figure skater, but Korea is #1 in the sport.
When Canadians were chanting “Go, Canada! Go!” during the Olympic hockey game, they weren’t urging on the entire country, just the team. For the world cup “Dae-han-min-guk!” became a mobilizing call for the entire country which was fighting against another nation.
This very strong sense of nationalism can sometimes be mistaken as racism. Koreans don’t really hate other races, they just see their own nation as more important. This has shaped the way they view the global community.
There are racist Koreans, and I’ve touched upon that before, but they are a [slowly] dying breed. These days, there are so many Koreans studying abroad coming into contact with a variety of different ethnicities. Racism and ignorance are being stamped out.
- No. They just like modern things and emulate that. If the West fell into decline and China and Russia became fashionably modern, they’d just as soon copy them.
For centuries Korea preached absolute traditionalism. Progress for the sake of progress was discouraged, because the old ways were best. What did that get them? An isolated hermit kingdom [which is what North Korea is today. North Korea is basically a neo-traditional Korea]. What did isolation accomplish? Nothing. Japan invaded, raped them (figuratively and literally), and turned their world upside down. When Japan left, an incredibly bloody conflict soon sprung up.
Probably feeling let down by the old way of doing things, they turned to a fresh perspective. Enter, the West. Modernity as a means for social progress was a breath of fresh air to young Koreans ready to leave their mark. The West symbolized modernity at the time, so they emulated Western dress, religion, entertainment etc.
[These days, they don’t really emulate the “West” (i.e. America). It’s more of an amalgamation of East Asian sensibility with elements of the West sprinkled in]
- No. You will make enough to live comfortably here. Your students, friends and coworkers will think you’re rich. But when you convert your paycheque to your home country’s currency, you’ll probably realise you could apply for welfare.
Don’t come to Korea for the money.
- Really now, what country isn’t anti-American?
Anti-American sentiment stems from the fact there are foreign troops stationed on Korean soil in substantial numbers. Younger Koreans aren’t all that fond of being hosts to foreign military powers.
If Mexico stationed a dozen military bases on American soil to prevent Canadian aggression, Americans would be ticked too [but their soldiers would have no effect on our trained moose, so it would be a futile gesture].
The average Korean is probably less anti-American than the average Canadian, if that means anything [Canadians who just read this are nodding their heads in tacit agreement].
- I honestly have no idea.
And neither does anyone else apparently. Not even the government, if you can believe that.
This is all I know [prepare to be shocked?]: If you have sex with someone under the age of 13, then you are a criminal. If you have sex with someone 13-18 and pay money, then it’s illegal (teenage prostitution). If you have sex with someone 13-18, they consent, and you don’t exchange money…it’s okay.
That’s Korean age, by the way. So a 13 year old in Korea could be an 11 year old in Canada. Disgusting? You betchya!
[Nobody knows for certain, because the government has given out conflicting reports. Courts have handed out conflicting sentences too]
If anyone thinks it’s okay to have sexual relations with a 13 year old (grade six) I will castrate them myself with my bare hands.
- I have met many Koreans taller than me (6 ft/ 180-183cm). Some of my students are taller than me.
I have a lot of difficulty finding shoes my size in styles I like though. It can be maddening.
Korean breasts don’t seem any smaller though. I don’t actually make a point of looking at women’s racks, so maybe I’m missing something.
[condoms are generally smaller/tighter though, so take that as you will]
- You do realize the border between the north and south is one of the most heavily mined places in the world, right?
I’m not talking about gold mines, I’m talking about bombs. There’s a reason why North Koreans escape to China and then make their way to South Korea, rather than running across the DMZ.
Go ahead if you’re looking to do an impression of an al-Qaida suicide bomber.
- I haven’t done any real research in this matter. I do know waxing is somewhat popular, and bikini-line waxing gets advertised often. I can make inquiries through secure channels if you truly want to know.
- Hell, yes.
To them, it smacks of Japanese imperialism, and in case you didn’t know, that didn’t go over all that well here. Never call it that, unless you are intentionally trying to antagonize them.
In that case, it works really well.
- Yes, it does. In fact, they’re quite common, especially at restaurants. You’ll be making your way to a urinal when a girl pops out of a stall, your eyes will meet, and then you will continue about your business.
It’s usually common decency to let your friends of a different gender go alone though.
Cleaning ladies will be cleaning the washrooms, even if there are men inside. You’ll be at a urinal, and a cleaning lady will be mopping the floor at your feet. You get used to it.
- It’s a cultural thing. Probably stemming from squat toilets.
- All Korean men have at least two years of military training. That’s not to mention countless years of training in taekwondo (Korea’s national martial art).
If you think you can take them on, then go right ahead.
- Sure, if you don’t advertise your orientation loudly. Homosexuality is still taboo in some circles.
Give Korea another ten years, and it might be where America is now. You won’t find the same level of acceptance as in Canada for quite some time, though.
- A lot of people say this is hard, but I say hogwash.
Sure many of the restaurants serve heaping piles of meat, but if you cook at home you should have no problem. I’m not vegetarian, but I’ve gone weeks without eating meat, because I forgot to buy it, or didn’t cook any. There are plenty of other ways to obtain protein.
Some of my students are veggie eaters.
- I don’t really hate any of my students. I tend to hate whoever organized the class and put students who don’t belong there, or don’t want to study, in with students who wish to learn.
Personally, I love far more of my students than I loathe. I honestly could not survive working in the same place for three consecutive years without them. I’ve never really told anyone this, but the only reason I kept extending my contract was because of my fervent desire to continue teaching certain students. The bond I share with some of them is extraordinary and trumps nearly everything else in my life.
The cynic in me three years ago would never have predicted that happening, but it did anyway. I figured teaching kids and teens would endlessly irritate me, even though I knew I could put up with it. Now, some of my closest students over the years can read and understand me better than my own family can, as odd as that may sound.
- Jump in front of a KTX train. It’s really the only solution.


Cable tries original flavour

In an increasingly congested market, even more US cable channels are turning to original drama series to define their programming and their audience. Michael Pickard reports.

Rob Sharenow
Rob Sharenow

Ask US programming executives about the state of cable drama and one phrase crops up repeatedly. With shows like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and Homeland, it’s no surprise to hear this time being described as a “golden age.” Cable networks have been commissioning original drama for many years, and every season several more turn their hand to original programming. So as the marketplace becomes increasingly congested, who are the latest players, how are funding models evolving and how are broadcast networks reacting to the challenge?
One cablenet that recently moved into scripted development was E!. The NBCUniversal (NBCU)-owned channel unveiled nine scripted series in development, ranging from Dorothy, a Warner Horizon Television series inspired by The Wizard of Oz, to The 400, a 19th century drama from Fox Television Studios.
Another NBCU network, Bravo, has also signalled its intention to air original drama from 2013. Among its first projects is 22 Birthdays (working title) from Universal Cable Productions, about a group of parents at an exclusive private school and their scandalous behaviour.
After building audiences through factual fare such as Pawn Stars and Ice Road Truckers, History is also moving into scripted. Its first original miniseries, Hatfields and McCoys, which stars Kevin Costner and comes out of Sony Pictures Television (SPT), broke ratings records for a non-sports telecast on ad-supported cable when its debut episode drew 13.9 million viewers on May 28. The channel has also commissioned its first scripted series, Vikings, produced by Take 5 Productions and World 2000 Entertainment (The Tudors, Camelot). The show is set to air in summer 2013.
Hallmark Channel, furthermore, is using telemovies as back-door pilots to adapt as original full-length series. The Crown Media-owned network has ordered Cedar Cove, about the lives and relationships of the eponymous town’s residents; and When Calls the Heart, a period drama about a wealthy young woman who builds a new life in a frontier town.
Like Hallmark, Lifetime is a relative veteran in original series but it is also hoping to mine its TV movie slate as pilots. This strategy has already found success with The Client List, a series inspired by the film of the same name, produced by SPT and starring Jennifer Love Hewitt as a mother who turns to prostitution. It is planning a similar strategy for Sworn to Silence, a TV movie starring Neve Campbell about a series of murders in an Amish community. Other new projects include TV movie Steel Magnolias, Renee Zellweger’s 1960s-set drama Cinnamon Girl, and an MGM-produced series about FBI agent Clarice Starling, the character from 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs.
“It’s a very crowded environment right now,” says Rob Sharenow, executive VP of programming at Lifetime Networks. “A lot of people are jumping into the scripted game and you’re constantly vying for the same stories. What sets us apart is we don’t always go down that route. We didn’t with The Client List and it was a huge success for us. And we’re looking at several projects that fit that mould from our movie department.”
Sundance Channel has been an active coproducer over the past two years, teaming up with Canal+ in France for Carlos, with ITV in the UK for Appropriate Adult, and with partners including BBC Worldwide (BBCWW) on forthcoming miniseries Top of the Lake, directed by Jane Campion and set in New Zealand
The channel has since commissioned its first wholly owned series, Rectify, produced by Gran Via Productions (Breaking Bad), about a man who is released from prison after 19 years on death row.

Craig Cegielski
Craig Cegielski

Sarah Barnett, general manager at Sundance, believes the US is “leading the world of scripted drama right now.” She adds: “There’s something about the Sundance brand that lends itself to powerful narrative storytelling. That allows for a certain complexity of character, of layers, of depth. There’s a deep, primitive, psychological desire on the part of audiences to hear great stories well told.”
For an example of the power drama has to define a network and its viewers, look no further than Mad Men’s 2007 launch on AMC. And it is that effect that many executives see as the driving force behind the expansion of other channels into original scripted programming.
John Morayniss, CEO of Entertainment One Television (eOne), says the bigger cable networks “want to throw dollars at drama production because they feel that can build them a loyal audience. All it takes is one big show to change your brand. USA Network started years ago with The Shield. The shows define the network, not the other way around.”
Craig Cegielski, president of Camelot prodco GK-TV, agrees that signature series have proven to be “appointment television” for their networks. In April, GK-TV found a home on premium cable network Cinemax for Hurt People, a pilot that will mark CSI alum William Petersen’s return to TV. The producer has also partnered with Gale Ann Hurd’s Valhalla Entertainment (The Walking Dead), cable network FX and Fox International Channels on Port Royal, a period drama about pirates.
“It’s a phenomenal time to be a producer but you have to be much more aware of the brand you’re pitching to because they’ve become much more specific,” says Cegielski. “They each have their own brand of storytelling, which impacts the projects they get behind.”
Among the ongoing series produced by Fox TV Studios are The Glades at Lifetime, The Killing at AMC; and Burn Notice and White Collar for USA. The studio’s development slate includes crime series Graceland, also for USA, and spy thriller The Americans for FX, where it is also working on a remake of UK medical comedy Sirens.

Magic City
Magic City

“There’s a lot of opportunity for scripted programming in cable,” says David Madden, president of Fox TV Studios. “But it’s becoming harder to make a success on a ratings level. There’s so much material in drama; it’s a bloodbath out there. There are only so many audience members and only so many hours to watch, which is why viewership keeps migrating to DVRs. But networks say if they’re not watching live, they’re probably not watching the commercials, and that upsets ad sales. It’s a complicated time.”
SPT’s production slate includes another Lifetime series, Drop Dead Diva; AMC’s Breaking Bad; and Justified on FX. It also has a pilot, Masters of Sex, with Showtime.
Keith Le Goy, SPT’s president of international distribution, says: “There are many more places to go and have your story told. The challenge is finding the right one. And not just who is going to commission the project but ultimately who is going to be the best home for the project over five, seven, 10 years.”
As more cable networks move into original series, the traditional financial model used for broadcast network drama – a licence fee coupled with deficit funding from the studio – is still the most common financing deal in play. But many executives are now looking at alternative ways to raise money.
eOne is developing a traditional studio system, but has also used what Morayniss calls a “reverse engineering” coproduction model for shows such as Syfy’s Haven and NBC’s The Firm, a coproduction with SPT. “We use it to develop a show that has a significant market in the US but because of the auspices, subject matter or script, we’re starting with international buyers and then going back to the US,” he explains. “We’re not looking for a full licence fee in the US because we have a show already financed; but we are looking for a straight-to-series order. Saving Hope is the latest example, which was shot by [Canadian broadcaster] CTV and picked up to series by NBC.”

Saving Hope
Saving Hope

Sundance’s history as a coproducer means it is open to a variety of financing structures. “We like to get involved in coproductions where we can have some meaningful creative input, and Top of the Lake is a good example of that,” says Barnett. “Everyone is benefiting from shifts in technology, consumer behaviour and emerging platforms and the revenues that go with subscription VoD. There’s a very healthy international market for rights owners right now.”
The lack of off-network programming in Lifetime’s primetime schedule means the channel is “really making an investment in ourselves and trying to be all-original. It’s both out of desire and out of necessity,” says Sharenow. “We don’t have a set-in-stone rulebook that every deal has to conform to. We try to get creative to get the best stuff because at the heart of the business is great creative and we’re going to do whatever we can to make sure we get that.”
Premium cable channel Starz has defined its original programming through shows like Spartacus and Magic City, with forthcoming projects including Da Vinci’s Demons, with BBCWW; Marco Polo, a coproduction with Electus and The Weinstein Company; and Black Sails, a pirate drama from exec producer Michael Bay.

Wedding Band
Wedding Band

John Penney, executive VP of strategy and business development at Starz, says because it carries a subscription, the network can “fund our programming 100%. We can also partner to deliver our programming in a global partnership, like we have with BBCWW, or we can look at hybrid models,” he says. “That’s the benefit of being in the premium space versus the race to volume many of the basic networks are now trying to achieve.”
Global producer FremantleMedia has spent three years developing its own drama strategy, a key plank of which is producing shows that can be fed into its commercial arm FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) for worldwide distribution.
FME’s first scripted commission, from cable network TBS, is Wedding Band, about a group of guys who escape everyday life by providing music at weddings. The show is coproduced by FremantleMedia North America (FMNA) and producer Mike Tollin, and is distributed by FME.
It has also signed first-look deals with Bones exec producer Barry Josephson, former Power CEO Justin Bodle, and New Zealand prodco Pukeko Pictures.
Jeff Tahler, FME’s senior VP of acquisitions and development, says: “We are pitching to cable and if we get a development deal, great. We are also looking at either a cross-border model, where we can cofinance or coproduce in Canada, or a European cofinancing model, where we would piece together a European coproduction and bring it back into the US.”
Tony Optican, senior VP of scripted programming at FMNA, adds: “You’re seeing many more players trying to come into the US market because a lot of the business seems to be trending towards copro models or cofinancing models, so a lot of European companies are seeing opportunities where they haven’t seen them in the past.”
Movie-skewing ReelzChannel broke into original drama after picking up miniseries The Kennedys after the political fall-out from the show meant many buyers turned it down. The network now airs True Justice, the crime series starring action star Steven Seagal, and it has also picked up XIII, about a secret agent suffering from amnesia, to launch in June. Both shows previously aired in Europe before finding their US home.

Stan E Hubbard
Stan E Hubbard

Reelz has also announced it will air World Without End, a medieval drama based on the book by Ken Follett and adapted by Germany’s Tandem Communications, Take 5 Productions, Galafilm and Scott Free Films.
Stan E Hubbard, CEO of Reelz, says original drama affords the network the ability to bring in premium advertising rates while also helping it to stand out from the crowd. “Particularly for the small to medium-sized networks, original drama can stand out and help people find the channel,” he says.
“For a relative newcomer, being able to have really strong international collaborations is critically important for us because we don’t have massive budgets or infrastructure. We have to do things with partners that have the same vision we have and a good producer in the middle to pull all the pieces together.”
As cable channels move into scripted series, they also face new competition in the form of VoD services. While the likes of Netflix and Hulu continue to buy off-network rights, their original production strategies mean they are effectively alternatives to the cablenets. Netflix titles coming to air include political thriller House of Cards, produced by Media Rights Capital, and Hemlock Grove, from Gaumont International Television.
Tahler says of Netflix: “They have a lot of funding and they obviously will not say outright that they’re looking to compete directly with cable networks, but when they put on original programming and it’s exclusive, they are a destination and when you’re a destination, often enough, you become a new cable platform.”
Meanwhile, Madden believes Netflix and other subscription-based VoD platforms are becoming valuable new revenue streams just as historic sources, such as DVD sales, are struggling.
Morayniss adds: “They’re not necessarily replacing but are supplementing those secondary rights deals that need to happen in the US after that first run for studios to justify the investment they’re making up front.
“Netflix is hungry for serialised drama, so economically, that has given a boost to the world of cable, where Mad Men may struggle in syndication but serialised it’s the perfect series.”
If VoD services are strengthening their position as challengers to original programming on cable networks, what then of the five broadcast networks that are fighting to maintain their audience shares?

David Madden
David Madden

During their Upfront presentations earlier this month, ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW unveiled their fall schedules, with each picking up a host of new dramas. They range from traditional procedurals such as Chicago Fire on NBC and soap-like Nashville on ABC, to shows that could sit on a cable network, like ABC’s Red Widow and Fox’s The Following.
Cegielski says cable dramas do not compete with those picked up by the networks, which he says tend to steer towards traditional procedurals such as NCIS and CSI. “Cable’s looking to do rich storytelling that may be more serialised, like The Killing,” he explains. “Their need is to be very unique, very loud and noisy. So as there are more networks clamouring for a piece of your audience, your shows have to be noisy, provocative and daring to satisfy the appetite of that consumer.”
Penney believes broadcast networks have now reaffirmed their commitment to drama, after years of reality TV, and are “more focused on high quality programming that is emblematic of premium TV. The only problem they face is they’re all ad-supported and that makes it very difficult to produce the quality and viewer satisfaction premium channels deliver while maintaining that friendliness to the advertiser, who can often have brand concerns,” he notes.
Le Goy adds that broadcast networks have “definitely upped their game creatively,” and the success of Grimm on NBC and Once Upon a Time on ABC has shown they are willing to invest in genre series more likely to be found on cable.
“Everything is more competitive because the wish to engage audiences and advertisers, to make sure you stay relevant and in people’s hearts and minds, is stronger than ever,” he says. “The weapon to do that is ground-breaking storytelling that will cut through the clutter.”
But while hunger for original material on cable is growing, demand for off-network rights has continued unabated. Reelz, for instance, still airs classic shows like Cheers and Spin City, while USA Network carries shows including Law and Order: SVU and House.
Scott Koondel, president of distribution at CBS Television Distribution and senior VP of corporate licensing and distribution at CBS Corp, says the studio has a “robust relationship” with many cable channels, with the CSI and NCIS franchises and the remake of Hawaii Five-O among the broadcast network’s shows that continue to pull in ratings and revenues off-network.
“We have some of the highest-rated drama series on US television, so they are in high demand from our clients,” he says. “The market for off-network sales is extremely strong as the cable channels need a constant infusion of content. USA’s schedule is nearly 80% acquired and those shows have the best success rates.”
For many channels struggling to find their voice in an increasingly competitive market, original series can help a network find an identity and an audience. And for producers operating in the cable drama space, an increasing number of channels brings greater opportunities to find homes for their series.
But as audience fragmentation continues, channels are under pressure to carve themselves a niche and commission series that shout louder than the rest of the field. And, as Madden says: “It’s only going to get more bloodthirsty.”


Tina Majorino has landed a role she can really sink her teeth into.
The Veronica Mars alumna and current Bones co-star has booked a recurring gig on True Blood‘s upcoming fifth season, TVLine has learned exclusively.
She’ll play a key member of the Vampire Authority’s support staff who first appears in Episode 3, which is scheduled to air June 24.

Kelly Overton "True Blood" Season 5 Premiere ARRIVALS in HD

* Giving birth and motherhood has taken its toll on Kelly's face.


Kristin Rose Garofalo auditioning for a sexy role in Hemlock Grove (TV Series)

Jennifer Carta auditioning for a role (as Lynda) in Hemlock Grove (TV Series)



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