This week, AMC announced an order for six 30-minute episodes of a new show called Mega City Smiths from Steve Conrad (writer of Wonder and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) and Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, the animation studio behind Robot Chicken and Crossing Swords. The series will be a stop-motion animated project focusing on two detectives trying to solve a high profile missing persons case in the fictional city of Mega City. Oh, and all the characters will be baby dolls made to look like grown ups. What?!
A lot of network and cable channels are investing their time and money in new animated projects since they’re extremely easy to get off the ground in the age of the coronavirus pandemic. People can work from home without much hassle, and there’s little risk of spreading illness when production is spread out and doesn’t require congregation in the same area. The situation may also be resulting in some off-the-wall animated projects getting greenlit that otherwise might fall by the wayside. It seems like AMC just ordered one of those projects
The official press release for AMC’s order of Mega City Smiths says the story “hinges on an investigation into the mysterious disappearance of fictional metropolis Mega City’s most famous magnate.” Throughout the series, we’ll follow two detectives as they take the case and are forced to “fight against their city’s dangerous corruption, at a high cost to themselves and their families, all in pursuit of a gentler place to call home.” And again, we can’t stress this enough, they’re baby dolls made to look like adults.
This sounds like exactly the kind of weird animated project Stoopid Buddy Studios would produce, but it feels like a surprising direction for someone like Steve Conrad. On top of writing the aforementioned saccharine screenplays, he’s been working on shows like Patriot on Amazon and Perpetual Grace, LTD on Epix. Neither of those shows are anything like what this new project, but maybe that’s the appeal for him. In a statement, Conrad said:
“Mega City Smiths is a series about our basic desire to be loved and cared for by our mothers, fathers, our few real friends and the setting we call home. We’re very pleased to have found partners at AMC whose ambition is the same as ours, which is to try and contribute to our era’s collection of remarkable TV.”
What is this show? Maybe it will have more in common with the kind of movies that Conrad has written than it seems at first glance. I just can’t get past the idea of baby dolls being used for the kind of show that Conrad seems to be describing. And the following statement from Dan McDermott, president of programming for AMC Networks’ Entertainment Group and AMC Studios, is only more perplexing. He said:
“Brilliant creator. Iconic characters. Human, dramatic, hilarious storytelling. Unique visuals unlike anything seen on television — these are the components of a great AMC series, and they are vitally present here in Steve’s dazzling work. Mega City Smiths will stand out in this crowded environment and engage viewers of all ages.”
A show that will engage viewers of all ages?! It’s a stop-motion animated series with baby dolls as adult detectives. What’s going on here? Is there something I’m missing? Maybe we just need to wait for a glimpse of the series to get a full grasp on what this project will be, because I just can’t wrap my head around it.
In addition to creating the show, Conrad will serve as showrunner. Meanwhile, Seth Green, John Harvatine IV, Matthew Senreich, Eric Towner and Chris Waters will executive produce for Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, and Jennifer Scher, Jeff Dieter and Tom Glynn will produce. The series, which, once again, uses baby dolls as grown adult characters, is expected to debut on AMC sometime in 2021.
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A Fire Table, Charcoal Grill and 8 Other Tools you Need for a Backyard Tailgate
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With the NFL season properly underway, tailgating season has officially begun. While covid-19 has made it impossible to gather with thousands of fans at a stadium, you can recreate the vibe by gathering with a few friends and family members in your backyard.
If you’re considering turning your property into a tailgate-ready space this season, you’ll need some gear to reproduce the sights, sounds, food, and drinks you’re missing out on this year. We’ve collected everything you’ll need to get the project done, and made sure our picks will make your backyard a fun place to hold any event this autumn.
1. U-MAX 44in Outdoor Propane Gas Fire Table
A fire table serves three purposes: It provides heat, creates light, and becomes a central gathering point during commercials, halftime, and before or after the game. This one from U-MAX is 44-inches long, and runs on propane. You can keep the tank in a hidden compartment inside the table, so it won’t be an eyesore.
You can start the fire by pressing an electric ignition button on the front of the table, and control the intensity of the flame by rotating a single knob. The main reason we’re recommending U-MAX’s fire table over all the rest is that it comes with a waterproof cover to keep it protected in the off season, and a wind guard to keep the flames from getting out of control. These are generally considered optional extras, but U-MAX bundles them with its table.
The only factor to consider before getting this table is that it’s pretty big, so you’ll need enough space to store it properly. If that isn’t a problem, this fire table will provide ample warmth as the season stretches deeper into the autumn.
2. BenQ TH585 1080p Home Entertainment Projector
If you want to recreate the experience of going to a football game as closesly as possible, you’ll need a projector. BenQ’s TH585 can create a 1080P (Full HD) image up to 150-inches wide. It supports a video technology called high contrast radtion, which makes images look a lot more accurate, so you can see more details.
The TH585 has two HDMI ports, so you can connect a media streamer to watch the game, and an audio output, so you can connect it to a more powerful speaker. The projector will work well if you point it toward any flat surface, but we recommend setting up a projector screen for the best possible results.
3. Fire TV Stick 4K
If you’re going to stream your NFL games online through a service like Fubo TV, you’ll need a media streamer to access it. We recommend Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K because it’s very capable despite its very small size. It can output video at resolutions up to 4K, and supports both Dolby Vision HDR (high dynamic range) and Dolby Atmos, the latest high-end video and audio technologies.
The Fire TV Stick 4K has an HDMI jack on one end, so you can connect it directly to your television or projector without a cable. You will need to connect it to a power source (you can even use the USB port on your TV) with the included MicroUSB cable. Although it has 4K in its name, this media streamer will work perfectly on 1080P (full HD) televisions and projectors.
4. Sony XB72
Sony’s XB72 is a massive party speaker that will work as your sound system before, during, and after the game. It supports Bluetooth, so you can stream music to it wirelessly from your phone, and has an AUX input, so you can plug it directly into your projector. It even has a microphone jack, so you can use it as karaoke machine.
The 20 pound speaker has six drivers (the part of a speaker or headphone that produces sound), so you’ll get a loud, clean sound regardless of what you’re listening to. It supports Sony’s Live Sound EQ (equalization), which the company says will make your music sound more immersive, and DJ effects like scratching that you can overlay on your tunes.
The XB72 also has lights beneath its giant woofers and around the parameter of the speaker. You can set them to pulsate with the beat of your music, or activate the strobe light to turn your tailgate into a rave.
5. Forlovv HD Digital Outdoor Indoor TV
You can watch some NFL without subscribing to cable or a streaming service by hooking your TV up to an HDTV antenna. This antenna from Forlovv can get television signals from up to 220 miles away, and will give you free, unlimited access to broadcast TV channels like CBS, ABC, NBC, and FOX. Your reception will vary based on your location, but you can get a clear 1080P (full HD) picture if you’re in the right area. Forlovv’s antenna requires power to work, so you’ll need to plug its USB cable into a power adapter, or the USB port built into your TV.
6. YETI Tundra 35 Cooler
YETI’s Tundra 35 is a highly insulated cooler that will make sure your drinks stay cold during the entire game. It has extra thick walls and pressure-injected polyurethane insulation, which will prevent outside heat from seeping inside.
You’ll still need to use ice to keep your beverages cold, and YETI recommends using a 2:1 ratio of ice to drinks (by volume) to ensure everything stays cool. This cooler is 21-inches long, 16-inches wide, and 15-inches tall, and weighs 20 pounds when it’s empty, so you may want to pick a good spot before you start to fill it, and empty it at the end of the game.
7. XMCOSY Outdoor String Lights
XMCOSY’s smart outdoor string lights can add some ambiance to your tailgate when it starts to get dark. There are 30 lights per string, and you can control them using a switch on the string itself, an app on your phone (iOS or Android), or totally hands-free through a smart speaker like the Amazon Echo. You can’t change their color, but you can dim these string lights to create the right atmosphere as your tailgate goes on.
XCOMBY says its string lights have an IP65 durability rating, which means they can be exposed to water (think rain and snow) without getting damaged. the company also says they’re “shatterproof,” but doesn’t give any additional details about the materials it uses. If you want to add cool looking smart lighting to your backyard for when people come over, this is the set of string lights we recommend.
8. Hamilton Beach 45 Cup Coffee Urn
Hamilton Beach’s Coffee Urn can keep your beverages (and guests) warm if you’re watching a game on a chilly day. This is an electric coffee urn, which means you must keep it plugged into an outlet in order for it to work. It can hold 45 cups worth of coffee, and brew one cup per minute.
There are markings on the inside of the urn to let you know how much liquid you’re pouring in, and an indicator light on the front to let you know when it’s done brewing. The outside of the urn is made out of stainless steel, which will get hot to the touch, but its handles are made out of plastic, so you can easily add more water.
9. Royal Gourmet Charcoal Grill and Offset Smoker
One of the best parts of tailgating is the food, and you’re actually a lot less limited when you’re cooking at home. Royal Gourmet’s charcoal grill has a 800 sq. in. (square inch) cooking area, which is more than enough for a dozen hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, and vegetables. It has two layers: The main grilling surface, and a warming rack that you can use for more delicate food, like burger buns.
You can raise or lower the fire pan to adjust the intensity of the heat, which is necessary since you can’t increase or decrease its temperature like you can on a propane grill. There’s a small smoker to the left side of the grill, which you can use to make more food food, or add a smoky flavor to whatever you’re cooking.
No tailgate is complete without hot, fresh food, and Royal Gourmet’s Charcoal Grill will help you feed a lot of guests very quickly.
10. GoSports Classic Cornhole Set
Playing an outdoor game is a great way to spend halftime, and we recommend GoSport’s Classic Cornhole set if you have enough space.
The game can be played with up to four people (in teams of two), with the objective being to throw a beanbag onto your opponent’s board. If your beanbag lands on top of the board, you get one point; if it goes through the hole located toward the top of the board, you get three points. The first team to reach 21 points is the winner.
GoSports’ set comes with eight beanbags, two boards, and a carrying case to keep all of the pieces protected when you’re not playing.
Tsai Ming-liang Project to Follow Abel Ferrara Film in ‘Missing Pictures’ Series
World premiering this week at NewImages Festival in Paris before playing at the London Film Festival in early October, the Franco-British-Taiwanese co-production “Missing Pictures Ep. 1 – Birds of Prey” gives the stage to firebrand filmmaker Abel Ferrara as he plunges into a passion project that never could lift off the ground.
Directed by Clément Deneux, the eight-minute VR doc comes courtesy of French studios Albyon and Atlas V, and boasts Arte, BBC, and Taiwan’s PTS (alongside Serendipity Films) as producers – marking the inaugural team up of those three public broadcasters as well as Arte/BBC’s first ever joint digital offering.
Spearheading the project is Atlas V’s Antoine Cayrol, one of the industry leaders in narrative VR.
“As movie lovers, we all know that 90% of all projects never get made,” Cayrol tells Variety. “All of the great directors have cemeteries of unmade movies. With this series, we want to find five great directors, and have them tell the story of a movie they couldn’t make. We interview them in volumetric capture, and then recreate them – and their film – in animation, putting them inside the scene.”
“A lot of people who love cinema are not really curious about VR,” he continues. “Leaving aside professionals, even many fans are simply not that curious; so I really hope that by speaking about actual unmade films, it will bring a new kind of audience to VR – people that aren’t curious about VR, but are curious about this particular topic.”
After perches in Paris and London, episode one will keep on flying, hitting Geneva’s GIFF, Montreal’s Festival du Nouveau Cinema and additional fests later this fall.
Meanwhile, the producers are busy readying episode two – which centers on Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang – for a possible berth at next year’s Venice Film Festival, though the subsequent installments will follow a slightly different strategy.
“Within the next 18 months our goal is to finish the next three episodes and release them all in February 2022,” Cayrol explains. “Half will go out to festivals, and afterwards I want to release everything on all platforms.”
Currently casting subjects for episodes three and four, Cayrol and team are looking to focus the second half of the series on female directors. Though producers haven’t locked anyone down just yet, they do have a certain ideal participant in mind.
“My dream, and the dream of [series director] Clément Deneux, is Kathryn Bigelow,” says Cayrol. “We both agree that our main target is her. Please put it everywhere, it’s our dream to have her.”
“I’m a big optimist,” he adds. “Maybe if she reads this article she’ll call me.”
Megan Thee Stallion Is One Of The Cover Stars Of The 2020 ‘Time’ 100 Most Influential People Issue
Arriving later in the year than their 2019 edition, Time shared their annual “100 Most Influential People” list on Tuesday night. The magazine unveiled this year’s iteration of the list through a broadcast on ABC. Of the many names to make the list, only a few are given the honor to grace the magazine’s cover for the issue and Megan Thee Stallion is one of them. Megan joins ten other names who appear on the eight different variations of the magazine’s issue. The other cover stars are The Weeknd, Dwayne Wade, Gabrielle Union, Dr. Anthony Fauci, founders of the Black Lives Matter movement Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, New York nurse Amy O’Sullivan, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai.
For her cover issue, actor Taraji P. Henson wrote about Megan and praised the Houston rapper for musical talents and her overall “strength” as a woman, calling her “deep” and a “free-spirit.” “The industry might try to pigeonhole her in this rap game, but she’s got a plan that’s much bigger,” she said in the write-up. “And we got her. I just want her to keep winning.”
Other notable names from the music to land on the 2020 Time 100 Most Influential People issue include Selena Gomez, J Balvin, Halsey, Jojo Siwa, and Jennifer Hudson.
Read Henson’s full write-up on Megan below and check out the entire Time 100 list here.
I remember hearing Megan Thee Stallion on one of those famous DJ radio shows a few years ago. She rode the beat like I’d never heard anybody ride the beat in a long time—and I’m a hip-hop head. There was something about this woman. Once you discover her, you become a fan. I don’t like to put the stigma of the word strong on Black women because I think it dehumanizes us, but she has strength—strength through vulnerability. She’s lost much of her family—her mother, her father, her grandmother—yet she is the epitome of tenacity, of pulling herself up by her bootstraps. She was shot this summer, and still people tried to tear her down. But she’s out here still loving and being sweet. It’s invigorating to see her become a platinum-selling artist with the viral hit “Hot Girl Summer” and multiple No. 1 songs in the past year, “Savage” and “WAP.” But you would be a fool to think that’s all there is to her. She’s deep. She’s enrolled in college. She’s an entertainer. She’s a free spirit; I see that in her. The industry might try to pigeonhole her in this rap game, but she’s got a plan that’s much bigger. And we got her. I just want her to keep winning.
Megan Thee Stallion is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.
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