Tag Archives: recession

Talking about My Generation (on ABC)

Hello, fellow TV Watchers!  Welcome to Fall!  It’s a time for Back-to-School Sales, cooler temperatures, and multi-colored leaves that crunch beneath your feet while you walk.  But, more importantly, it’s time for the networks to bring back all the Good Ole’ Television Shows you became obsessed with last year  — thereby, preventing you from doing anything remotely productive between the hours of 8 and 11 p.m. (at least, until winter hiatus).

Fall is also a time when networks try to sneak new shows into their preexisting program lineups, in hopes that you will stick around, and watch them too.  More often than not, this “little scheme” fails miserably, resulting in a sizeable percentage of shows not making it past the Pilot stage, and a significantly larger percentage of new programs not surviving the first season.

Having been burned a few times by shows that were canceled, just as I was starting to warm up to them, I’ve become a bit more picky about which new Fall shows, if any, merit a coveted spot on my television viewing roster.  Yet, as luck would have it, the ONE new show I deemed worthy of an “audition,” just so happens to air opposite my absolute FAVORITE show, The Vampire Diaries.

Faces (and bodies) this beautiful simply MUST be viewed in “REAL TIME.”

Of course, I am “talking about My Generation,” the new hour-long mockumentary-style drama, which is set to air Thursday nights, at 8 p.m. on ABC.  (Just in case, you neglected to read the title of this post.)   The show is actually based on a successful Swedish television program, entitled God’s Highway, which had a similar format and premise.  For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, you can catch the latest promotional trailer for the show here:

As you might have noticed from watching the trailer, My Generation focuses on nine fictional characters, all of whom graduated from the same high school in Austin, Texas, during the year 2000.

Not surprisingly, all obligatory high school stereotypes will be showcased, in their two-dimensional glory.  Prepare to make snap judgments about the following archetypes:  the Brain, the Beauty Queen, the Jock, the Nerd, the Rich Kid, the Overachiever, and the Wallflower (Ummm . . . Wallflower?  Did anyone actually use this word in the year 2000?  Has anybody actually used this word since 1952?  Let’s just call her “Shy” and be done with it, OK?) 

In short, it is a cast of characters that would be at home in any John Hughes movie.

(R.I.P. Mr. Hughes.)

Using a compilation of interviews, photographs, and live-action shots, the show then chronicles the characters’ lives in present day.  Ten years after their high school graduation, these native Texans, now facing down their late 20’s, are forced to grapple with war, worldwide recession, and other unique challenges that characterize the 2010 American Experience.

In terms of the show’s cast, you will find a lot of suitably attractive, and vaguely familiar — if not immediately recognizable — actors and actresses.  Quite a few times, while I was watching the trailer, I found myself squinting at an actor I thought I recognized, only to look him up later and learn that he played “Guy at the Bar” in a movie I watched on HBO the week prior.  

However, in the actors I DEFINITELY recognized column, I would include Michael Stahl David . . .

. . .  who starred in J.J. Abrams Shaky Cam Extravaganza, Cloverfield.

Michael plays Steven Foster on the show.  Steven starts high school as “The Overachiever,” the kind of guy who, even at 17, wore a suit to school everyday, carried a briefcase, and owned a Blackberry LONG before everybody else did.

10 years later, he’s become Sam Merlotte from True Blood . . .

Oh, how the mighty hath fallen . . .

Learn more about Steven Foster here:

I also recognized Mehcad Brooks . . .

. . . he of the INSANE abdominal muscles.   You might remember Mehcad as the tragic Eggs Benedict (Yes, that was actually the character’s name.) from Season 2 of  True Blood.

Mehcad plays Rolly Marks, a high school jock, who enlists in the Army post 9/11, and ends up fighting on the front lines in Iraq.  You can learn more about Mehcad’s character here:

Additionally, I WAS VERY happy to see Julian Morris’ name on the cast list!

For those of you unfamiliar with his work, Julian played the adorable (and WAY  TOO SOON departed) cradle-robbing, sister-swapping British med student, on ABC Family’s summer smash hit, Pretty Little Liars.

That’s him with the magic fingers on the left.  As for the girl on the right?  Well, I like to pretend that’s me!

Julian plays Anders Holt, a “Rich Kid” who, from the looks of it, becomes a “Rich Adult.”  Listen to what Julian has to say about his character here:

Rounding out the rest of the main cast are:

Daniella Alonso,

Kelli Garner,

Jaime King,

Keir O’Donnell,

Anne Son,

and Sebastian Sozzi.

Refreshingly enough, age wise, all the show’s cast members are actually within three or four years, of the characters they are playing.  (Unlike we’ve seen in similar shows about 20-somethings, Grandmas and Teenagers  needed not apply for this casting call.)  As a twenty-something myself,  it is particularly nice to see a show — which is supposed to be about people I could have gone to high school with — where the characters are played by actors that I could have actually gone to high school with.  You see that so rarely nowadays!

Though early reviews of the show have been mixed,  for me, My Generation stands out, as one of the most promising new programs of the fall season.  The show has the potential to be a daring portrait of the trials and tribulations that face Generation Y (which is, after all, MY GENERATION).  And while I may not necessarily be watching it LIVE (see The Vampire Diaries comment above), I will still most certainly be watching it.

My Generation premieres Thursday, September 23rd on ABC.  Will YOU be watching?

[www.juliekushner.com]

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Filed under My Generation, Spoilers and Sneak Peaks

Wall Street 2 – Money Never Sleeps (Anatomy of a Trailer)

Back in 1987, Oliver Stone directed a little film called Wall Street.  The film starred Michael Douglas as the iconic movie villian, Gordon Gekko.

Wall Street illustrated, in graphic detail, how an individual’s lust for power, when coupled with insane amounts of money, can spread, like a cancer, tainting all those it touches. 

And yet, what people remember the most about the film, was not its underlying message, or a particular plot point, or even Daryl Hannah’s massive shoulder pads and big 80’s hair . . .

No.  What people tend to remember about Wall Street was a little speech that Douglas’s Gekko made early in the film — a speech that was appropriately entitled “Greed is Good.”

Corporate America lapped up this speech, boy!  (You KNOW those folks at AIG and Goldman Sachs were taking notes!)  In fact, CEOs and financial executives were so in love with Gordon Gecko and his words, that they simply stopped paying attention for the rest of the movie!  They forgot that “Good Greed” completely ruined Charlie Sheen’s character, Bud Fox, and that Gekko was carted off to jail at the end of the film.  And in the past couple of years, we have learned that Gekko was simply WRONG!  Greedily treating America as a “malfunctioning corporation” didn’t SAVE our economy, it destroyed it!

Despite it being 23-years old, I can’t think of a film more relevant to the current state of our nation than Wall Street.  So, of course, I was very interested to learn that Stone was helming a sequel to the film, set to hit theaters this fall.  You can watch the trailer for it here:

You know what?  I was a little skeptical at first, but color me impressed!  This looks pretty darn good!  Based solely on the trailer, Stone seems to have done a nice job balancing the sleek, polished “look and feel” of the original Wall Street, with the fast-paced, high voltage, aesthetic of modern times . . .

Not only is The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” a GREAT song to include in any trailer (Just TRY and listen without bobbing your head in time with the music.), it’s particularly appropriate for THIS one!  After all, if a little part of all of us wasn’t just a twinge enamored with the oily, and, quite possibly soulless, Gordon Gekko, this franchise wouldn’t be anywhere near as successful as it ultimately became.

:10 – I couldn’t help but smirk watching Gordon Gekko’s updated, post-jail break, version of the original “Greed is Good” speech.  Many would agree that since Gekko’s time, Greed HAS, in fact, become “legal.”  Just don’t ask this guy about it . . .

I wonder how this film will address (if it does at all) the current economic climate.  Has the recent economic recession even happened in Gekko’s world?

:24 – If I had to choose a favorite moment in the trailer, it would be the one where Gekko, having spent upwards of 20 years in prison, retrieves his personal belongings upon leaving the Big House.  His prized possession?

Zack Morris’s HUMONGOUS Saved by the Bell cell phone!

:50 – It looks like Bud Fox 2.0 will be played by none other than Shia Lebeouf, who you may remember from the Transformer films, or the latest Indiana Jones franchise installment, or Disturbia.  But, just in case, you aren’t familiar with him or his work, here’s a very nice picture of him shirtless . . .

 . . . and another one of him suggestively eating a banana . . .

(Hmmmm . . . wonder how his girlfriend feels about THAT one?)

The original Bud Fox, Charlie Sheen, seemed to be MIA during this trailer . . .

BAD BUD!

However, I have read that he will reprise his original role in the film during a brief cameo appearance . . .

:52 – Carey Mulligan, with her pixie face, and wise beyond her years demeanor  (must be because she is British), . . .

 . . . co-stars in the film, as the estanged daughter of Gekko, who just so happens to be the fiance of Lebeouf’s character.  In other words, she will likely play a smarter, less slutty version of Daryl Hannah’s character from the original film.  Oh, and her character is supposed to have, like, principles, or something . . .

The rest of the trailer proceeds more or less as what you would expect from a Wall Street sequel.  We watch as Lebeouf’s character confronts, and quickly becomes seduced by the charismatic Gekko and his upper-crust lifestyle, which, apparently, continued to thrive untarnished in his absence.  (At least we know they SOLD all of Madoff’s stuff!  So, hopefully, this won’t happen to him, if HE ever gets out.) 

The protagonist quickly becomes taken into the fold.  We witness the character’s eyes light up, as his handles a check in his name for $1.45 million.  And we just KNOW he’s a goner!  We then see evidence that his relationship with the young FEMALE Gekko . . .

 . . . will begin to crumble, as a result of his growing greed.  Throw in a little bit of Josh Brolin . . .

 . . . a dollop of Frank Langella . . .

 . . . some motorcycle stunts . . .

 . . . and a few great Gekko one liners (“Why don’t you start calling me Gordon?”) and that’s pretty much the trailer in a nutshell.

Wall Street 2 STEALS into theaters September 24, 2010.  Will YOU see it?

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Filed under Movie Trailer Recaplets, Wall Street 2

Luck Be an E-Trade Baby Tonight . . .

 

Back when I was in high school, my history teacher decided to conduct a little experiment with us.  We were studying the Stock Market Crash of 1929.  So, my teacher thought it would be fun to see how capable his 16-year old students were of handling a stock portfolio.  (Now that I think about it, he was probably just looking for free stock tips . . . )

We broke into teams of three, and were each given $100,000 (fake, of course).  Each team was then asked to “invest” the money in the stock market as we saw fit, using real time data about the stocks taken from various news outlets.  Now, my teammates and I knew precisely nada about the stockmarket.  And we figured that the assignment wasn’t going to be graded or anything.  So we just had fun with it — purchasing “stock” in companies that sold stuff we liked or products we used, like Coca Cola, Gap, Google, Apple, Mars Candy etc.

The “game” went on for a month, with students having the opportunity to “trade” lousy stocks for better ones at the end of each week.  At the end of the month, dollar amounts were tallied and teams were ranked.  I am proud to report that Buddah Investments (Yeah, that was actually the name we chose for our team.  Apparently, the creativity of a my teenage self knew no bounds.   Oh, and one of my teammates was kind of a pothead.) won FIRST PLACE, beating the tushies off those snooty investment bankers’ kids whose portfolios floundered almost universally near the bottom of the pile.

No wonder our economy is in the crapper . . .

When we came to collect our winnings (which, unfortunately, did not include the actual value of our fake portfolios, but, rather $5 gift cards to Barnes and Noble), our teacher, always a veritable ray of sunshine, said, “Don’t get too cocky.  When conducting this same experiment, a chimp, who threw darts at the business section of a newspaper to choose stocks, performed way better than you did (and, apparently, better than most stock market experts too).

At this time, we are pleased to introduce you to the next CFO of AIG . . .

So, why am I telling you all this?  Because the notion that stock market trading is less a matter of analytical skill, and more a matter of luck and chance, has become the basis for what are, in my opinion, some of the cleverest (not to mention most adorable) commercials on television today.  Of course, I’m talking about those awesome E-Trade Baby commercials that typically invade our television screens around Superbowl time each year.

In essence, these commercials have taken the basic premise of those old Geico commercials, which stated that becoming insured was “so easy, a caveman caveman could do it” . . .

 . . . and applied it to the stockmarket.

Trading is so easy, a baby could do it . . .

I also enjoy the E-Trade commercials, because they remind me of one of my favorite movies from back when I was just an itty bitty kiddie myself:

So, without further adieu, I give to you, an E-Trade Baby Commercial Montage I found on YouTube:

But if stocks aren’t your thing, fear not.  There is also this adorable video of the E-Trade Babies performing a tribute to Snoop Doggy Dog’s classic rap anthem, Gin and Juice.  Viewer discretion is advised . . .

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Filed under E-Trade Babies, Television Commercials