Category: Top Story

The Blacklist Star James Spader Sees Red

The Blacklist is already certified as a major hit for the 2013 Fall TV Season. A criminal mastermind, Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) turns himself in to the FBI promising his full cooperation to help them take down the really bad guys, but he’ll only work with new profiler Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone). The NBC show has been described as a combination of Alias, Silence of the Lambs and maybe a touch of Homeland, but it still manages to bring something new, and fun, to an episodic spy show. It’s an interesting premise with lots of mystery and plot points enough to keep things going for several years.

But what really makes The Blacklist special and almost a guarantee for awards next year is… James Spader. Or as Spader says…

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QUESTION: How did you decide what the look of this particular character would be? We’re used to seeing you often with a lot of hair so did you decide you wanted the guy to look a certain way like this?

JAMES SPADER: Yes. It sort of worked backwards from one moment, and that’s what I love in that opening sequence when he goes in and surrenders himself, the juxtaposition. I knew the very first thing when I got to New York to shoot the pilot — I had very long hair, and I knew that they were going to shoot a surveillance photo of Reddington to have on the wall there when he surrenders himself. I thought it would be just a great moment when he surrenders himself, he takes his hat off, and the juxtaposition of the shot of him with long hair and then like this. And I also thought that it would be nice just because actors are burdened with everything else that they’ve done before in any role that they’re playing, and I thought it would be nice to take off my hat and it’s an entirely different person and a very different look to go with that.

But working backwards from there, you know, the way his life has been for the last 20 years, he moves very swiftly through his life. He’s moving from place to place very quickly. I thought he should have a haircut, that he can do himself if he cares to or he can go to some barber shop in a little town in Cambodia and they can cut his hair in ten minutes. I just thought it was streamlined, and his clothes are like that, too, in that he looks well dressed, but traveling clothes. You know, he wears clothes that he can go from a bank to a cave and he’s dressed accordingly. And he’s also in a lot of different climates over the last 20 years, so I thought it would be appropriate that he that he dress and look as if he’s able to move through the world easily and comfortably.

QUESTION: What made you so interested in playing a character like Reddington?

SPADER: I was really drawn to the enigmatic quality of the character. I know certain things about his past, but I don’t know the facts and figures of the last 20 years where he’s been invisible, living in plain sight around the world. And I didn’t want to. That’s part of the fun of doing a television show as opposed a film. I like that a television show is fluid and it evolves and develops and changes. And especially with this show I want to be surprised every week. I want it to sustain me over the life course of the show and those surprises are part of that sustenance. So I have only asked from the writers for enough for me to be able to do the work that I need to be able to do. And when I need a question answered they answer it. But I don’t ask more than that because I want them to also have the freedom to be able to write in that fashion where the show can grow and change direction and surprise me the same as it surprises the viewer. If I knew the entire bible of this show, all the past, the present and also the future, for me the experience of making the show would be done. And I’m not interested in that. If anything, when looking for something in a television show, looking for a piece of material, I’m specifically looking for something that I’m going to have a lot of unanswered questions for as long as possible.

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QUESTION: This is sort of superficial, but some viewers are going to make a Silence of the Lambs comparison. Is that sort of connection that you want to embrace or steer away from?

SPADER: The basis of their relationship [Reddington and Elizabeth] is very real. I mean, it’s clear, even from the pilot; there is a past between the two of them that she is not aware of, but he has an intimate knowledge of her past, her childhood, relatives of hers and so on. The relationship between [the characters] in the film you refer to is obsession, and it’s not based on any sort of reality at all. And I think that as the story starts to unfold — and that becomes a driving force — is what the basis of their relationship really is. I think that issue is so invoked in a viewer’s mind based on imagery more than anything else. In the pilot, obviously he’s in this [glass security] box. He’s shackled to the thing. A girl comes in. She’s a rookie and so on and so forth, but the imagery is so powerful and so strong in terms of that, and I think that’s probably where the correlation comes from more than anything. But as soon as Reddington hits the streets, at a certain point, he has to work as an asset, and therefore, he’s got to move freely in public and so on. So I think that the relationship that you’re talking about, that imagery will end fairly soon.

The Blacklist airs on NBC Mondays at 10:00PM

November 23rd Is The Day Of The Doctor On BBC America

The centerpiece of BBC AMERICA’s celebrations of Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary will be the special anniversary episode, The Day of the Doctor, premiering on Saturday, November 23. In addition to the episode title and iconic image revealed today, the BBC confirmed the anniversary special will be feature length with 75 minutes of adventure. The Day of the Doctor stars Matt Smith (How to Catch a Monster), David Tennant (Broadchurch), Jenna Coleman (Dancing on the Edge), with Billie Piper (Secret Diary of a Call Girl) and John Hurt (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Alien). This is the first time David Tennant and Billie Piper have appeared in the series since their farewells in 2010. The special will be a celebration for long-time fans and an opportunity for those new to the series to jump onboard.

Matt Smith, who plays the Doctor, said: “The Day of the Doctor is nearly here! Hope you all enjoy. There’s lots more coming your way, as the countdown to the 50th begins now.”

Steven Moffat, lead writer and executive producer, Doctor Who said: “50 years has turned Doctor Who from a television show into a cultural landmark. Personally I can’t wait to see what it becomes after a hundred.”

BBC AMERICA will announce additional 50th Anniversary programming plans in the coming weeks.

Picture shows Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor and David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor, joined by John Hurt in the 50th Anniversary Special - The Day of the Doctor

Dark Horse Comics Asks #WheresSerenity?

Dark Horse Comics sent out a mysterious email today with the below image, a URL and the ultimate question: #WheresSerenity?

(Click the image to see the full animation.)

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Following the URL reveals the following message along with an additional image:

Joss Whedon’s beloved Firefly series and Serenity film’s lifespan may have been short-lived, but managed to produce one of the most dedicated fanbases in the history of modern science fiction. Dark Horse is proud to be able to keep Mal and his crew flying with new comics and products. Look for the hashtag #WheresSerenity over the next few months on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages for exclusive news on the future of the franchise at Dark Horse!

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Boost the signal and keep checking Pop Culture Zoo for further info!

Dan Foster’s “Something’s Going Around” Becomes Film, Comic Book

Friend of Pop Culture Zoo, Dan Foster has had a story in his latest short story collection turned into a film and also set for a comic book adaptation. Draft Distro: Tales of the Past, Present, and Future is available now for the Kindle. Of the 17 tales contained therein, “Something’s Going Around” has been turned into the film Lovesick by Tacoma-based filmmaker Pat Lavigne. The film stars Desiree Bajevich, Patrick D. Green, Michael Agostini, Thomas Brophy, Foster, and Sherie Suter from a screenplay by Lavigne and is described as thusly:

“Dina wants nothing more than a meaningful relationship but avoids them at all cost for fear she is cursed. Her safe existence is shattered when a familiar stranger walks back into her life.”

Lovesick is currently being shopped to festivals and other interested parties.

Additionally, Portland-based Crazed Pixel is currently producing a comic book adaption of “Something’s Going Around” with the co-operation of Foster. The first issue is on track for a possible November release.

Pop Culture Zoo whole-heartedly supports this perfect storm of Pacific Northwest productions, from print to film to comic book, and will bring you more as things move forward on all three fronts!

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Review: Etta, Etc.: The Fall By J. M. McDole

Ettax5Recently, I have decided that I am well and truly done with zombie stories. In fact, I am bored to tears with the whole zombie genre. Films, books, television shows, you name it – I am done with it. And then I read Etta, Etc.: The Fall and, well, J. M. McDole won me back. Truth be told, this is basically the zombie movie I’ve always wanted to see, but in book form.

The story is told from the point of view of Loretta Van Helter, the titular Etta, and begins as she is heading to the Silver Pond, Iowa farm of her Uncle Earl, following his death. There has been a Plague that has hit the United States, the result of which is that those stricken with it have become zombies. These zombies amble about attacking the living and transferring the Plague, much like you would expect to happen. The main difference here is that McDole’s zombies also speak, but not in a campy, Return of the Living Dead kind of way. Instead, these undead repeat a sentence or phrase over and over again, much like a stuck record. This adds a level of creepiness and an emotional gut punch or two as various points in the story and sets Etta apart from the usual zombie tales. Additionally, the Plague has also caused other mutations, called Banshees, which are horrific nightmares in human form. Reading the sections featuring the encounters with Banshess with the lights out at night is slightly unnerving, just to warn you.

The best part of this story is the wonderfully three-dimensional characters. Etta teams up with the elderly Madge Jennings early in the book. Mad Madge, as Etta and we, come to think of her, is anything but frail and infirmed. Although she is in her twilight years, Madge puts Sarah Connor to shame, both in terms of fighting prowess and tactical skills. Let me put it to you this way, you’ll be surprised at the outcome of Madge being the back of an armored car with a couple of rabid Banshees. Etta and Madge are the emotional and strategic center of a diverse band of survivors that grows throughout the story. And these are not your typical horror movie group of incompetent characters that defeat themselves with stupid decisions. This group is smart from the outset, acting with a mixture of compassion and ingenuity. Although the climax is brought about by a purely emotional reaction, it’s at least prepared for and executed with a modicum of rational thought.

The only negative aspect of Etta, Etc.: The Fall is that it is way too short and it leaves the reader wanting to know more, which is the hallmark of any great story. I definitely hope that McDole continues the story of Etta, Madge and their ragtag group and I also hope for a glimpse of the greater world outside of Silver Pond. Think of this as a “pilot” or a long epilogue to a much greater story, at least that is what I am fervently hoping for. At the very least, this being McDole’s first novel, I can’t wait to see what see what she comes up with next.

Etta, Etc.: The Fall is available for both the Kindle and in paperback right now.