Kovacs Award Recipient Harry Shearer Talks Richard Nixon, Spinal Tap and Smart Comedy

Photos by Danny Gallagher

The great comedians know that they don't have to create fiction, they simply have to pluck out the insane bits of a world trying to wrestle with its sanity and present it in the way a carnival barker would just before he pulls back the curtain to reveal some horrid mistake of human nature.

Actor and comedian Harry Shearer is one such performer, obsessed with presenting the raw, naked truth of politics and media whether it's the invasiveness of reality TV when he helped write director Albert Brooks' first movie Real Life or the inefficient preparation and inhumane response that led to massive flooding in New Orleans with his documentary The Big Uneasy. Even This is Spinal Tap, the seminal rock comedy movie that launched the mockumentary genre, sprang from real moments.

"We didn't make anything up in that movie," Shearer says atAMS Pictures headquarters in Dallas. "It was stuff that either happened to us or people we knew. Editing reality to get the good part is sort the ideal version of my job."

The Spinal Tap and Simpsons star recently turned his sharp eye for the satirical to one of American history's characters who always seemed to good to be real, former President Richard M. Nixon, for a new web series for My Damn Channel called Nixon's the One. He'll premiere the series tonight at the Angelika Film Center as part of the Dallas VideoFest where he'll receive the festival's Ernie Kovacs Award.

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Film Podcast: Dear White People, Go See Dear White People

Categories: Film and TV

Justin Simien's Dear White People.
With the news that Paul Feig is going to reboot Ghostbusters with an all-female cast, we wonder on this week's Voice Film Club podcast what it would be like if they re-did another '80s classic: Young Guns. We then move onto the latest Brad Pitt World War II movie, Fury, which is ultra violent. Amy Nicholson of LA Weekly says, "I like a war movie where they talk about how war is just really awful...this is muddy in-the-trenches war movie." Joined as always by Alan Scherstuhl and Stephanie Zacharek of the Village Voice, the trio then moves onto Justin Simien's much-anticipated new film, Dear White People (be sure to read our interview with Simien), and then to post-apocalyptic Western Young Ones, written and directed by Jake Paltrow.

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Casting Director Wants to Create the Laguna Beach of Highland Park

Categories: Film and TV

Set a show like this in Highland Park? Sure, it sounds awful, but you know you'd watch at least one episode.
Vinnie Potestivo of Vinnie Potestivo Entertainment is looking to make a Laguna Beach-type show -- but in our very own Highland Park.

If you don't remember MTV's Laguna Beach because you had better things to do than watch spoiled California kids get drunk, then you missed out on MTV's prime reality show days. OK, not really, but they were the days before Jersey Shore.

The part where Laguna Beach fell short, however, was none of it was shot in the high school. All of the scenes took place on the beach or the mall or house parties. That's where Potestivo wants to make this Highland Park show different.

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Dallas Brothers to Appear on Shark Tank with Invention that Cuts the Funk from Clothes

Categories: Film and TV

Brothers Ben and Eric Kusin make their pitch on Shark Tank.
It started with a stink.

After one of Ben Kusin's usual smoke breaks and before an important work meeting, he stopped by a gas station for something to freshen up his clothes.

"He had a conversation with the clerk and he suggested Purell and breath mints, but he was worried about his clothes," his brother Eric Kusin says.

After a few minutes of getting nowhere, the clerk told him nothing he wanted was on the shelves. "I don't think what you're talking about has been invented yet," Eric recalls the clerk telling Ben.

So that's when Ben, son of the inventor of the world's smallest chocolate chip cookie, created Reviver, a smell-good swipe used to freshen clothes after a baby's spit-up, a smoke session or really anything else. Eric joined him for the business venture shortly after.

On Friday, the Dallas brothers will present their invention on national television to Shark Tank's famous entrepreneurs, or rather, sharks.

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Here Are the Best Ways to Watch Interstellar in Dallas this November

Categories: Film and TV

Every year, there should be at least one movie that lights up your senses like fireworks. You should feel anticipation buzzing at the base of your heels. Hollywood owes us this--at least one time a year. This year, one of the most anticipated films buzzing up from the feet up is Christopher Nolan's Interstellar. The reason for the excitement:

1) It's Matthew McConaughey in space.
2) Chris Nolan did that little film called The Dark Knight.

The official synopsis goes like this: "A group of explorers make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage."

Booorrrring, right? Seriously though, this movie is guaranteed to melt some cerebellums like a plastic cup. Here's the good news: Paramount Pictures announced that 240 theaters--specifically, movie theaters that have the capability to project the movie in actual film, including 70mm IMAX, 70mm (70mm is three times the resolution of the standard projector) and true 35mm--will show Interstellar two days early.

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Composer/Conducter of VideoFest's The Lodger on Creating a Silent Film Soundtrack

Categories: Film and TV


The Dallas VideoFest falls just before Halloween. A spooky season worth tapping into, at least for one of the fest's signature events.

"We thought maybe we should go in a Halloween direction," says Brian Satterwhite, a composer and film aficionado who served as a consultant for this year's live silent film orchestral performance for the VideoFest. "So we started looking at suspense and thrillers and even some horror films but when we started talking about Hitchcock, that really drew us in because they have a very modern feel and energy to them. They don't feel as dated as some silent films can so we thought we just couldn't go wrong with that."

They dug up (no pun intended) one of the Master of Suspense's few silent works called The Lodger, the story of a landlady who suspects that one of her tenants may be a serial killer that features Hitchcock's first of many on-screen career cameo. Tonight, they present a digitally remastered version of the Hitchcock classic with an original score penned by Douglas Pipes and performed by the Dallas Chamber Symphony Orchestra tonight at 8 p.m. at the Dallas City Performance Hall.

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The Texas Theatre Needs Your Help to Buy a Digital Projection System

Categories: Film and TV


The historic Texas Theatre prides itself on being one of the few movie houses in town that can still screen films in their original 35mm and even 16mm formats, but even this historic theater has to change with the times and that means making the jump to digital distribution.

Such an undertaking can be expensive. All the equipment that's needed to upgrade a theater to the digital age can cost thousands of dollars, and the Texas Theatre has a plan to raise the money they need so they can screen the films that they want for their patrons.

The Oak Cliff movie theater launched an online fundraising campaign on the crowd-sourcing website Seed&Spark to raise the $63,000 they need to bring a digital projection system to their screening room.

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Film Podcast: Twin Peaks Returns, The Judge Disappoints, and Whiplash Drips with Jazz

Categories: Film and TV

Miles Teller in Whiplash

Alan Scherstuhl and Stephanie Zacharek of the Village Voice, along with LA Weekly's Amy Nicholson, open this week's podcast with a brief discussion of Twin Peaks, which comes back to TV via a series on Showtime in 2016, and move onto The Judge, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall, and then to Whiplash, starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons.

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Halloween at the Movies: Finally, Something Scarier than that "Butter" on the Popcorn

The horror ... Never Been Kissed.
Another October means movie theaters yet again rolling out the orange carpet for their Halloween themed programming, and since we are the foremost experts of Halloweenocity in the area, we pulled all the best screenings together for you. Weirdly enough no one is showing John Carpenter's Halloween this year, which might change as the month draws on. Oh, and despite our pleas from last year no one is showing Teen Witch. Why must you torture us so Dallas media purveyors?

Texas Theatre
As they did with last year's live orchestral screening of Dr. Caligari, the team at the theater brings some class to the Halloween programming by pairing Dario Argento's Susperia with a performance by the Dallas Neo-Classical Ballet on the 11th. Blood Bath Film Fest VI hits on the 19th featuring the best in independent horror shorts, while on the 24th and 25th there's a showing of The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears complete with a performances by Nervous Curtains and Cerulean Giallo on the 25th. There's also Bride of Frankenstein on the 24th, and Nightbreed's director's cut screens on the 28th. Halloween features a performance by Cirque Du Horror and a screening of the 1922 Danish horror film Häxan. Oh, and the most terrifying even of all happens on the the 10th when a special screening of a 35mm print of Never Been Kissed is shown in honor of the films 15th anniversary.

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20,000 Days on Earth Is Showing at Texas Theatre Until Thursday, and You Need To See It

Categories: Film and TV

Screengrab of the movie
This isn't even a real place Nick Cave is writing in.

I spent last night at the fabulous Texas Theatre watching 20,000 Days on Earth, the new documentary about legendary Australian songsmith Nick Cave. You need to go and see it there before its extremely limited run closes on Thursday, and here is why.

First off, it's not even really a documentary. It's a complete mystery as to what this film actually is. It's partially a work of fiction, partially a metaphor for Cave's failing memory, partially a monument to Cave's enormous ego, and partially just a series of beguiling truths and untruths. It's a documentary where you're no longer sure what's real or false, which I'm pretty sure isn't meant to happen in a documentary.

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