Slamdance 2023 review: The weird and wonderful world of ‘Who’s Annie?’

Slamdance 2023 Premiere of

WHO’S ANNIE?

After jail-time, 12-step programs and five marriages, Annie begins her acting career in her mid-fifties with the help of a young director she met at a Burger King. In this show within a show, Annie tackles both her gigs as an actor and the role of herself in her own life story.


A farcical meta delight, Slamdance 2023 episodic WHO’S ANNIE skewers the absurdity of Hollywood, but that’s only the beginning. Annie Pisapia plays herself and doesn’t. Yup. You read that correctly. This “series within a series” is wildly entertaining and wholly bizarre. 

Writer-director Sophia Peer plays “herself,” a television director with awkward and quirky energy. Peer bears a striking resemblance to Rhea Pearlman. It’s a head-scratching role, and I could not look away. Sofia Dobrushin plays the “series” version of Peers. Wide-eyed and perfectly cast, Dobrushin appears both afraid and at home in coordinated chaos. I adored her. Annie Pisapia owns the screen, as her comic timing is something to behold. Her rough exterior feels part false flag, part true identity. She is so convincing it is genuinely tough to discern between Annie’s real life and the script. That is the entire point of the series, and Peer has succeeded with flying colors. Adding in Peer’s manic confidence and Dobrushin’s “yes, and” attitude, these three women exquisitely complement one another.

Because the show jumps in style, so does the cinematography. It is eye candy that never gets boring. It is pure silliness, and I’m dying for more. It’s Comedy Central meets Mad TV. There is a lot of meat on the bone for series development. Everyone has enough (or a lot) of backstory to expand upon and plenty of weirdness to start. WHO’S ANNIE is unique in this Slamdance 2023 episodic lineup.


WHO’S ANNIE? – 30 Minute Scripted Comedy Series – Trailer from sophia peer on Vimeo.


2 Screenings at Treasure Mountain Inn: 255 Main St, Park City, UT 84060
Sunday 1/22: 9:45pm- Ballroom 
Thursday, 1/26: 11:30am- Crescent Room
Ticket Link Here

 

CREDITS:

Creator/Director: Sophia Peer

Written by Sophia Peer & Annie Sicherman

EPs: Ryan Cunningham, Troy Thompson

Co-Executive Producer: Randy Stulberg

Produced by: Manon Carrié

Cinematographer: Adam Uhl

Production Designer: Erica Magrey

Editor: Matt Posey

Starring: Annie Pisapia, Sofia Dobrushin, Sophia Peer


BIOS:

Creator and Director: Sophia Peer (she/her) was born and raised in Flushing, Queens, where she began her career as filmmaker, directing her parents in scripted/doc hybrids before she knew that was even a thing. She was awarded the NY Foundation for the Arts ‘Made In NY’ grant, a finalist for the ScreenCraft Film Fund, accepted into The Gotham’s Episodic Lab, and invited to Gotham Week, for WHO’S ANNIE?, a series she’s creating, co-writing and directing. Sophia is currently pitching a doc/scripted hybrid series created in collaboration with Jigsaw Productions. After years of working on series for Nike, Super Deluxe, Nylon, Genius, and Pitchfork, Sophia is now also directing a surreal cooking show, DANNY’S FOOD CORNER, starring queer comedian Lily Marotta (Celebrity Book Club). Sophia’s work has been screened at the Whitney Museum of Art, Hauser & Wirth, Abrons Art Center, the Giphy Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, Contemporary Arts Center, The Queens Museum, Indie Memphis Film Festival, and MoMA. She has directed music videos for artists such as Paramore, Julien Baker, Paramore, The National, Interpol, Yeasayer, and Junior Boys. 

Co-Writer: Annie Sicherman (she/her) is an award-winning queer screenwriter from Queens, NY.  She is the co-writer of WHO’S ANNIE?, a pilot that was awarded the NYFA “Made in NY” Grant, accepted into The Gotham’s Episodic Lab, and a finalist in the ScreenCraft Film Fund. Recently, Annie’s comedy pilot DOCTOR BABIES advanced in the Austin Film Festival.

Executive Producer: Ryan Cunningham (she/her) is an Emmy and Peabody award-winning producer who launched the development company Running Woman, with projects set up at FX, Party Over Here, and Swimsuit Edition. She has 20 years experience producing 25 different comedy TV series. TV producer credits include BROAD CITY, INSIDE AMY SCHUMER, SEARCH PARTY, THE LAST O.G., and stand-up specials for Comedy Central, Showtime, Amazon, Netflix, and HBO. Ryan was also the Director/EP on specials for Ilana Glazer, Alan Cumming, and the docuseries EXPECTING AMY.

Executive Producer: Troy Thompson (he/him) started Running Man in 2009 with his business partner Ryan Cunningham as a place to inspire creativity, and over the last 14 years has seen it turn into one of New York’s premiere post houses. He has been working in television and film for 25 years now as both an editor and colorist with an unending attention to detail. Credits include PATRIOT ACT with Hasan Minhaj, ZIWE, FLATBUSH MISDEMEANORS, AT HOME WITH AMY SEDARIS, BROAD CITY, IINSIDE AMY SCHUMER, SEARCH PARTY, THE DETOUR, and THE CHARACTERS. He has worked on stand-up specials for Chris Rock, Hasan Minhaj, Amy Schumer, Mike Birbiglia, Roy Wood Jr., Atsuko Okatsuka, Aida Rodriguez, Yvonne Orji, and music specials for Apple Live for Alicia Keys and Mary J. Blige. His work in feature films include the HBO documentary THE TRANS LIST; co-productions of 3RD STREET BLACKOUT, CLAIRE IN MOTION, KEEP THE CHANGE, winner of the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival; and BECKS, winner of the US Fiction Prize at the LA Film Festival. Troy’s most recent goal is to be a part of content that will someday inspire his 11-year-old daughter. 

Co-Executive Producer: Randy Stulberg (she/her) is an award winning creative EP/ showrunner from New York. Most recently she has been working on episodic development for various clients in TV and digital including Jigsaw Productions, The New York Times,  Refinery29, Vice, Apple/ JV8inc. and VOX/New York Magazine. She was the showrunner for Viceland TV’s highest rated show Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia, helping reimagine the series from its original digital format for an international TV audience and executive produced 2022 Sports Emmy nominated series “Golden” featuring Olympic gold medalist Sunisa Lee for LeBron James’ SpringHill Company and Peacock streaming. 

Producer: Manon Carrié (she/her) is a French/Filipina-American writer and producer with a multitude of innovative work in docustyle branded content, television and narrative film for award-winning companies such as Vice, Hearst, Condé Nast, HBO Max, Freeform, Jigsaw, Hulu and The New York Times. Her projects playfully experiment with unexpected hybrids of form and genre, and aim to probe the peculiar nuances of characters, cultures and structural conflicts, which can be glimpsed in her 2020 mockumentary webseries ABROAD and bilingual dream-doc short OISEAUX DES ÎLES. She currently has three narrative scripts and several docu-projects in development, one of which plans to take place in her mother’s birth-village in the Philippines. She splits her time between Brooklyn, Los Angeles and Paris.

Cinematographer: Adam Uhl (he/him) is a cinematographer based out of New York. His first film MALA MALA, was produced by Christine Vachon and Killer Films and received an Audience Award at the 2014 TriBeCa Film Festival. In 2017, his second film, DINA, produced by Dan Cogan, Impact Partners, and Killer Films, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it received the Grand Jury Prize. He has also lensed several series including UNTOLD and LOSERS, THE FIX, and PANIC for Netflix and HBO. 

Production Designer: Erica Magrey (she/her) is a Brooklyn-based production designer, prop stylist, and interdisciplinary artist with a particular interest in examining female tropes, high/low-brow culture blends, and the future of the past. Working with commercial and editorial clients on scripted series, music videos, and still life photography, she creates work that examines the performance of identity. Erica has had screenings, performances and exhibitions at art spaces such as Socrates Sculpture Park, The Sculpture Center, The Whitney Museum of American Art, Kaskadenkondensator (Basel), The Kitchen, 106 Green, Klaus von Nichtssagend, Magic Pictures, Freight + Volume, and Storefront for Art and Architecture. 

Editor: Matt Posey (he/him) is an editor based in NY and LA. In addition to features, shorts, and award-winning commercials, he has edited music videos for Depeche Mode, Metallica, Rob Thomas, and many others.

The Star and inspiration for the series: Annie Pisapia (she/her) is an award winning actor born and raised in Queens. She can be spotted in many of the big series you’ve seen for the past six years playing roles such as Inmate, Police Officer, Drug Addict, Bartender and Janitor. Annie was the recurring character “Smoking Woman” in HIGH FIDELITY, scene partners with Bobby Cannavale in THE WATCHER, and held the role of “Agitated Woman” on NEW AMSTERDAM. Other shows include INVENTING ANNA, BETTY, MANIFEST, BILLIONS, BLUE BLOODS, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, CRASHING and THE OA. Annie’s swagger, charm, and New York attitude make her very hard to miss, even when she’s playing a background role. There are more than ten projects that are about to premiere in which Annie plays a major role including “Senior Biker Chic” in AWKWAFINA IS NORA FROM QUEENS, “Sister Joseph” in Jennifer Esposito’s directorial debut FRESH KILLS, and “Cathy” in the Netflix A24 comedy series SURVIVAL OF THE THICKEST.

Co-Star: Sofia Dobrushin (she/they) is Bicoastal, Biracial and Bisexual. They love to be at the intersection of many things and we see that reflected in their craft as an actor, director, comedian and musician. Acting credits include HIGH MAINTENANCE, César Alvarez’ ELEMENTARY SPACETIME SHOW, and On the Rock’s EDELWEISS at Ars Nova. Sofia was recently in Apple TV’s WECRASHED where she yelled at Anne Hathaway and got to wear fake glasses.


 

ID original series review: ‘THE PRICE OF GLEE’ – Crew and friends talk behind-the-scenes drama and tragedies surrounding one of the most iconic shows in television history

 

THE PRICE OF GLEE

GLEE premiered the week of my 30th birthday. I was a musical theatre nerd in high school who graduated from a Manhattan conservatory that has churned out Tony winners and Oscar nominees. Watching GLEE made me feel seen for the first time through the storylines of these young adults. The attachment was real, and the show became a cultural turning point for millions. Because of that emotional investment, the drama surrounding the show still affects so many. Nothing is off the table in the salacious ID (Investigation Discovery) docuseries THE PRICE OF GLEE.

As a self-professed Gleek, the series contains so much information I didn’t know. Safety issues, money, and around-the-clock nonstop work, from the mouths of friends, crew members, and entertainment reporters, The Price of Glee pulls the curtain back on all the behind-the-scenes drama and addresses the all too familiar internet rumor that the show may be cursed. Episode one concludes with Cory Monteith’s death and ends on a cliffhanger. Episode two picks right back up where we left off, focusing mainly on the aftermath of Monteith’s passing. Delving into Mark Salling’s child pornography conviction and subsequent suicide, this episode melds into the third with Naya Rivera‘s father speaking about her tragic death.

Transitions between conversations feature video clips and cast photos. My main gripe with episodes two and three is the repetition of said images. A show that spanned six seasons deserved fresh photos. It was a glaring amateur mistake. Is THE PRICE OF GLEE a touch like an E! True Hollywood Story? Very much so, but as a fan, I was endlessly intrigued, hoping for any new information. While the cast has come forward to say they were not involved, hearing crew members that genuinely cared for them and with (mostly) kind words, their insight is vital to understanding the immense pressure this phenomenon created.

courtesy of ID


All three parts of THE PRICE OF GLEE premiere back-to-back Monday, January 16 starting at 9/8c on ID and will be available to stream the same day on discovery+


Synopsis: The cultural phenomenon and hit musical series, “Glee,” catapulted a cast of relative unknowns into international superstardom and literally rocked pop culture. But, the show that sparked a new era of acceptance was also saddled with extreme devastation on the inside. Endless scandals, tabloid gossip, and fatal tragedies plagued the rising stars on what was supposed to be the most joyful show on television. Now, ID pulls back the curtain on “Glee” to explore the harsh reality of fame with the three-part limited series, THE PRICE OF GLEE.

 

Disney+ series review: ‘EPIC ADVENTURES with BERTIE GREGORY’ is Nat Geo’s new jaw-dropping series.

Part wildlife and part adventure show, follow the escapades of young National Geographic Explorer Bertie Gregory as he travels the world capturing extraordinary footage of wild animals. Using a combination of technical wizardry, secret fieldcraft and extreme perseverance, he and his team try to overcome the challenges and dangers and get as close as possible to wildlife on its own terms.


One of the most immersive cinematic nature series ever made, Nat Geo’s Epic Adventures with Bertie Gregory is a wow. I was in relentless awe of the up close and personal footage of the arctic life, be it takes, seals, penguins, and much more.

To do the show justice, I suggest watching on the largest screen you can find. Bertie and his team face dangerous temperatures and ocean currents. You’ll fly into the air with high-definition drones above whales and hear the wicked blustering of incoming storms. You’re right alongside Bertie as he navigates the seas, moving about the ship’s nauseating rolling inner sanctum. He fearlessly plunges into the freezing waters. Without proper protection, a human would die in minutes. But the water is the least of Bertie’s problems as a feisty leopard seal gets a bit too close. You will gasp when you witness the eye-popping ariel view of fin whales feeding.

A Fruit bat resting in a tree, giving itself a good clean after a busy night foraging. (Credit: National Geographic/Bertie Gregory for Disney+)

And this is just the beginning of Episode 1 of Epic Adventures with Bertie Gregory. With four more to go, the 28-year-old British wildlife filmmaker and National Geographic Explorer takes audiences into places few have gone before. From the treetops of Zambia to the film African crowned eagles to the waters of Cocos Island in search of the 14 different species of sharks. You’ll be in awe as you learn things you never knew before. It’s a perfect show for the entire family.

The drone in flight, capturing epic shots of the Kasanka Fruit bats. (Credit: National Geographic/Sam Stewart for Disney+)

Episodes Available:

TRACKING OCEAN GIANTS

National Geographic Explorer Bertie Gregory leads a team across the infamous Drake Passage, one of the world’s most dangerous stretches of ocean, to the remote and windswept Elephant Island. His mission: to find and film one of nature’s greatest wildlife spectacles, a feeding aggregation involving hundreds of gigantic fin whales, the second largest animal ever to have lived.

BATTLE OF THE BEASTS

National Geographic Explorer Bertie Gregory and his team are in Zambia, Africa, trying to film one rare moment when a pride of lions takes on one of their most formidable foes – the mighty cape buffalo. 

SHARK ISLAND

Bertie and his team travel to the sharkiest place on Earth to film one of the biggest schools of sharks ever as hundreds of hammerheads join in a mysterious underwater dance. To get close to these super-sensitive sharks, Bertie will have to dive in stealth mode.

The father crowned eagle comes home with food for the nest, the mother greets him. (Credit: National Geographic/Bertie Gregory for Disney+)You can catch EPIC ADVENTURES WITH BERTIE GREGORY exclusively on Disney+.

EAGLE’S REIGN

Every year up to 10 million fruit bats descend upon a small, remote forest in Zambia to take full advantage of a fruit boom—but they don’t go unnoticed by the local eagles. After capturing some tender moments between a crowned eagle mom and her chick, National Geographic Explorer Bertie Gregory sets off to film these powerful predators hunting bats.

DOLPHIN QUEST

National Geographic Explorer Bertie Gregory is heading to the mighty Pacific Ocean off the coast of Central America. He’s on a quest to find and film one of the greatest spectacles the high seas have to offer—a superpod of several thousand spinner dolphins. Searching in the largest wilderness on Earth isn’t easy and leads to some mind-blowing animal encounters.


You can catch EPIC ADVENTURES WITH BERTIE GREGORY exclusively on Disney+.


 

The Disney+ Original Series from National Geographic ‘EPIC ADVENTURES with BERTIE GREGORY’ Premieres Disney+ Day on September 8th

The face of a new generation of aspirational adventurers and natural history filmmakers, 29-year-old National Geographic Explorer Bertie Gregory takes viewers on epic and nail-biting journeys that push into the most spectacular and secretive corners of our wild world!

Armed with leading-edge film technology, the Disney+ original series EPIC ADVENTURES WITH BERTIE GREGORY, from National Geographic, breaks the mold of the traditional natural history program by telling extraordinary, real-life animal stories and taking viewers with him for every beat of the action. For weeks at a time, the charismatic BAFTA Award-winning cinematographer immerses himself into the animals’ lives to capture the untold stories of iconic creatures living in some of the harshest environments on our planet.

This season, we will see Bertie braving the icy worlds of Antarctica in search of the biggest gathering of whales ever filmed and coming face-to-face with specialist buffalo-hunting lions in Zambia. In this multipart adventure series, he will take audiences on an ambitious odyssey across the globe, showcasing the natural world at a time when it faces its greatest challenges.

The series has also been picked up for a second season, which is filming now.


The Disney+ Original Series from National Geographic Premieres Disney+ Day on September 8th

Check out images from Episode 1 “Eagle Reign”


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About Bertie Gregory
Bertie Gregory, a wildlife filmmaker and photographer in his twenties, channeled his childhood obsession with wildlife into photography. Early in his career, photos from this obsession earned him recognition, including being named a National Geographic Young Explorer, Youth Outdoor Photographer of the Year, and Zenith Scientific Exploration Society Explorer. He began assisting legendary big cat photographer Steve Winter on assignment for National Geographic after graduating with a zoology degree from the University of Bristol in 2014. Bertie has since shot documentaries for Nat Geo WILD (Mumbai’s urban leopards and caiman hunting jaguars) and BBC Planet Earth. Gregory’s first solo assignment for National Geographic, tracking and filming the elusive coastal wolf on Vancouver Island’s west coast, became the basis for Nat Geo WILD’s first digital series, wildlife. All of this happened before his 24th birthday. Bertie has recently completed work on a new National Geographic digital series set in South Georgia. Bertie is the next generation explorer, who is standing on the shoulders of Walt Disney, Marlin Perkins, and David Attenborough, and will take us on an epic and heart-warming journey in this new upcoming series.


 

Disney+ review: Marvel Studios ‘SHE-HULK: Attorney At Law’ (Episode 1) Judging from the pilot, Tatiana Maslany flexes her muscles.

 

A quippy takedown of misogyny, the highly anticipated She-Hulk: Attorney At Law had its first trial run. Episode 1, titled “A Normal Amount of Rage,” is another way for Tatiana Maslany to flex her muscles, not just the new green ones. The dialogue is unapologetically specific to gender dynamics. It’s like watching incel fanboys argue with any female online but in a more to-the-point and genuinely humorous way. And from the 30K+ reviews on the internet, those same dudes are what we ladies call “Big Mad.” You know Disney has done something right.

The improvements to the CG are hella cool. I think She-Hulk looks better than Hulk! Sorry, Mr. Ruffalo. I still love you, and I hope we see more of you in the remaining episodes.

After watching Maslany wow the world in Orphan Black over and over, She-Hulk allows the audience to appreciate her unequivocal comedic skills. Her take on Jennifer Walters is perfection. She’s at a place in her life and career where she’s fearless in her speech. She’s a new feminist hero that millions, myself including, can cheer on.

Breaking the fourth wall is another device that sets this series apart. Written and created for television by Jessica Gao and directed by Kat Coiro (who both executive produce), the structure of the pilot is straightforward; a flashback to a few weeks ago when Jennifer became a hulk. The final scene takes us full circle, and it’s everything you’d want in a Marvel series starring a badass lawyer with acerbic wit who just so happens to have gamma rays in her bloodstream. No big deal.

If you pay attention to the credits, and you always should in any Marvel film or series, you’ll notice how many women are part of the crew in every aspect of She-Hulk. And, we have to talk about the credits scene without spoilers. Jessica Walters is a Captain America fangirl, and damnit, it’s hilarious. Could this rival Jessica Jones as my favorite female comic book development? Yeah, I think there’s a solid argument to be made.

New episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney At Law will release on Disney+ every Thursday.

In Marvel Studios’ “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law,” Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany)—an attorney specializing in superhuman-oriented legal cases—must navigate the complicated life of a single, 30-something who also happens to be a green 6-foot-7-inch superpowered hulk. The nine-episode comedy series welcomes a host of MCU vets, including Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk, Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky/Abomination, and Benedict Wong as Wong, as well as Jameela Jamil, Josh Segarra, Ginger Gonzaga, Jon Bass and Renée Elise Goldsberry. The series is directed by Kat Coiro (Episodes 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9) and Anu Valia (Episodes 5, 6, 7) with Jessica Gao as head writer. Executive producers are Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Brad Winderbaum, Coiro and Gao, “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” streams exclusively on Disney+ beginning August 18, 2022.


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Hit British Investigative Crime Docuseries review: ‘CATCHING A KILLER Episode 1: The Search for Natalie Hemming’ exclusively on Topic now!

CATCHING A KILLER

The Search for Natalie Hemming

Mother of three Natalie Hemming goes missing. Local police take the case with swift action and an in-depth, real-time investigation into her disappearance.

Catching A Killer: The Search for Natalie Hemming will airs exclusively on Topic.


The series’ score mimics a heartbeat and enhances the menacing atmosphere. The editing is a triumph, utilizing police video, interrogation tape, and the documentary teams footage of investigators chatting with Natalie’s family and friends. Listening to Natalie’s children recall the evening she went missing will chill you to your core. Her partner of ten years, and main suspect, Paul Hemming sits in jail as the investigation moves forward.

The police give the audience a play-by-play of tactics alongside the unprecedented access to the interviews with coworkers, family, and Paul, as well as the forensics team’s meticulous evidence collection. Episode 1 has a two-hour runtime and follows the case from beginning to end. With a plethora of true-crime series to choose from, the hour-by-hour tracking of the investigation makes Catching A Killer enthralling.

You can watch Catching A Killer Season 1 streaming exclusively on Topic now.

The season finale will air Thursday, June 30th.

http://topic.com

HBO Max Season 1 review: ‘JULIA’ cooks up drama and delight.

JULIA

JULIA is inspired by Julia Child’s extraordinary life and her long-running television series, “The French Chef,” which pioneered the modern cooking show. Through Julia’s life and her singular joie de vivre, the series explores a pivotal time in American history – the emergence of public television as a new social institution, feminism and the women’s movement, the nature of celebrity and America’s cultural evolution. At its heart, the series is a portrait of a loving marriage with a shifting power dynamic.


Before finishing the screeners, I told friends they had to start the new HBO series “Julia.” The most common response I received was, “Didn’t they do a movie on this?” To be honest, the answer is “kind of!” Have we seen this story before? Yes. Do I care? NO! 

Witty and full of complex cultural commentary, HBO’s “Julia” is an absolute joy. Exploring Julia Child‘s iconic rise with a sharp eye on how it fits into the rapid societal change of the midcentury period, “Julia” succeeds in presenting complex ideas while keeping the show fun. The series is a visual feast of charming period settings, costumes, and sumptuous footage of Julia’s home cooking, recipe creation, and inspirational fine dining. An example is a luxe scene where Julia and her editor Judith strategize in a crowded Boston bar — the only women in sight– dirty martinis in one hand and casually finishing a dozen icy oysters each with the other. Ultimately the chef brings out two whole Maine lobsters served on a large plate accompanied only by ramekins of melted golden butter just at the resolution of their brainstorming– perfection. 

 While the series naturally focuses on Julia’s story and the unique power dynamics shifting within her marriage,  I  found the character studies on the tribe of women that made up her inner circle most fascinating. Fiona Glascott, Brittany Bradford, and Bebe Neuwirth shine in showcasing their own stories as they build the iconic culinary brand together. 

While “Julia” doesn’t shy away from issues you expect for a series set in this period (i.e. egregious workplace sexism), I was intrigued when they also made room to explore more complex ideas about what Julia Child’s success means within the feminist agenda. Despite her own accomplishments, what does it mean to build an empire by motivating homemakers to prepare more elaborate home-cooked meals than ever and raising the bar for what it means to be an ideal wife? Late-breaking cameos from iconic figures of the time play a unique role in bringing many of these factors to light in a way that is bold to incorporate into essentially a tribute piece. 

 My recommendation: Mix yourself a proper cocktail, add a flourish whether the drink deserves one or not, and watch this series.

The eight-episode Max Original comedy series, JULIA is now available to stream in full.


Cast: The eight-episode series stars Sarah Lancashire as Julia, David Hyde Pierce, Bebe Neuwirth, Brittany Bradford, Fran Kranz, and Fiona Glascott. Guest stars include Isabella Rossellini, Judith Light, Robert Joy, Erin Neufer, Jefferson Mays, James Cromwell, and Adriane Lenox.


About HBO Max:

HBO Max is WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer offering with 10,000 hours of curated premium content. HBO Max offers powerhouse programming for everyone in the home, bringing together HBO, a robust slate of new original series, key third-party licensed programs, and movies, and fan favorites from WarnerMedia’s rich library including Warner Bros., New Line, DC, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes and more. #HBOMax #WarnerMedia

SUBSCRIBE TO HBO MAX http://bit.ly/HBOMaxYouTube

GET HBO MAX https://itsh.bo/ways-to-get


 

Topic series review: ‘DECEIT’- a story of a real-life honey trap brings the drama.

DECEIT Official Synopsis:

Five months on from the brutal murder of Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common and the Met Police are still no closer to capturing the man they’re convinced is responsible. First identified through a television appeal, the evidence is stacked against Colin Stagg. The media feed a national obsession, covering every detail of the case and demanding justice. The police are determined to catch the man who, in their eyes, is guilty before he kills again. In desperation, the relatively young detective inspector leading the case, engages the nation’s most famous criminal profiler to devise a bold undercover operation which will see an attractive, young female officer start a relationship with Colin Stagg.


As each episode begins, the filmmakers behind the miniseries DECEIT make it abundantly clear that the show involved a plethora of research. In 1992, a woman named Rachel Nickell was brutally murdered in front of her two-year-old son. Police believed they found the guilty party based on an expert forensic profiler. After bringing top undercover officer Sadie Byrne into the mix, they devise an elaborate operation to obtain a confession. 

The series’ four episodes appear to jump in time as Sadie studies Colin’s interrogation tapes. She draws him into her web first with letters, then phone calls. DECEIT’s intrigue is relentless. It’s a fresh perspective from the typical detective plotlines involving female officers. The danger feels heightened. 

Eddie Marsan plays profiler Paul Britton with an unsettling intensity. His scenes with Algar are tense. Sion Young is Colin Stagg. He is both frightening and pathetic, creating a skin-crawling effect. 

Niamh Algar is captivating as a fictionalized version of a real-life undercover officer. It’s like meta method acting, watching her prepare for a role within a role. The deeper she gets into the character of Lizzie, the further she spirals. Her anxiety and fear are palpable. It’s a hell of a performance. 

DECEIT’s lighting has a heavyhanded neo-noir effect, especially when Algar plays “Lizzie.” The editing keeps your mind sharp. The story draws you in, and the characters hold your emotional attention. I appreciated the updates on our players during the finale. Separating truth from fiction reminded me that innumerable lives were ruined. It’s a final nail in the reality coffin for the viewer. DECEIT is a unique entry amongst the true-crime fare.


The 4-part miniseries DECEIT, streaming exclusively on Topic beginning April 14.

Based on a true story, this UK crime thriller follows Lizzie James, a female detective employed to obtain evidence against Collin Stagg, the prime suspect in the brutal murder of Rachel Nickell, which occurred in broad daylight in London’s Wimbledon Common. The case went on to become one of the most infamous entrapment cases in British law enforcement history.

Directed by Niall MacCormick and starring Niamh Algar (Raised by Wolves, Topic’s The Virtues), Eddie Marsan (Deadpool 2, Ray Donovan), and Harry Treadaway (Star Trek: Picard, The Crown), DECEIT has been hailed in the UK, with The Telegraph calling it “a gripping portrait of a real-life undercover operation,” and The Evening Standard declaring that the series “stand[s] out from the usual true crime fare.”


About TOPIC
Topic is the boundary-pushing streaming service from First Look Entertainment for thrillers, mysteries, dramas and documentaries from around the world, serving viewers who crave entertainment beyond the mainstream. Whether it’s a Nordic-noir crime thriller (The Killing), an Italian supernatural political drama (The Miracle), or a haunting true crime docu-series from the UK (The Missing Children), Topic expands your view of the world.

Featuring North American premieres, exclusive TV series and film, and programming from more than 40 countries, Topic showcases an unparalleled collection of creators, perspectives and experiences. Complemented by our Topic Originals, we prioritize bold storytelling and champion underrepresented voices. Topic Originals and exclusives include Oscar® nominee The Letter Room (starring Oscar Isaac), Lambs of God (starring Ann Dowd), BAFTA® nominee The Virtues (starring Stephen Graham), Emmy® nominee The Accidental Wolf (starring Kelli O’Hara), Dark Woods, Gotham Award winning Philly D.A., and Soul City (directed by Coodie & Chike).

Topic is available to US and Canadian audiences on topic.com, AppleTV & iOS, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android & Android TV, Samsung, Apple TV Channels, Roku Premium Channels, Bell Fibe, Amazon Prime Video Channels, and Comcast (Xfinity X1, Xfinity Flex and XClass TV). Topic is part of First Look Entertainment which also includes Topic Studios, the award-winning entertainment studio which develops, finances, and produces content for all platforms.


Review: ‘Inventions that Changed History’ is a Palette Cleansing Delight’ streaming on discovery+

Inventions that Changed HistoryInventions That Changed History reveals the wild and often unbelievable stories behind many of pop culture’s most impactful inventions. Historians, Scientists, Pop Culture Experts and Hollywood Celebrities take us on this wild ride full of information and incredible tales.


Ready to dominate at the next Trivia Night? “Inventions that Changed History” is a light, silly romp that is likely to help your team win a free round. With a mix of historical exposition on familiar inventions– Mr. Potato Head and waterbeds make silly and fascinating segments– it is the perfect palette cleansing alternative to more serious documentaries (or the news). 

Filled with surprising celebrity cameos from fan favorites like Guillermo from “What we do in the Shadows,” Meredith from “The Office,” and Amanda Seals from “Insecure” candidly riffing on a nostalgic parade of core memories for Gen X/ Millennials, the show is a good time all around. In particular, I was locked in learning the origins of the Easy-Bake Oven while simultaneously trying to remember if and how severely I  burned myself– not enough to stop it from being one of my favorite toys. Oh, the 90s! 

A fun concept with plenty of options to explore, this could quickly become a niche favorite. What a treat!


Episodes 1 & 2 Streaming on discovery+ on March 31st

Two episodes premiering weekly through April 14


Executive Producers: Tom Forman, Chuck Dalaklis, Jenny Daly, and Jon Beyer

For Discovery, Wyatt Channell and Howard Swartz serve as executive producers

Scores of Hollywood celebrities like Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Lance Reddick (“The Wire”), Nicole Sullivan (MADtv), Haskiri Velazquez (“Saved By The Bell”), Amanda Seales (“Insecure”), Flula Borg (Suicide Squad), Yeardly Smith (“The Simpsons”), Jeff Ross (Comedian), Eric Griffin (Actor/Comedian), Harvey Guillen (“What We Do in the Shadows”) and Rachael Harris (The Hangover), join in on the fun as they take a hysterical and insightful hands-on approach to the inventions that molded their youth and stayed with them into adulthood.


Episode 2 Inventions:

Mr. Potato Head 

Pop Rocks

Corn Cob Holders

Easy Bake Oven 

Box Wine

Rubber Chicken

Listerine

Vending Machines

 

Episode 1 Inventions:

Waterbeds

Barf Bags

Big Mouth Billy Bass

Flushing Toilet

Super Soaker 

Sea-Monkeys

Pool Noodle

Slip ‘N Slide 


 

Sundance (2022) capsule reviews: ‘The Dark Heart’ series & feature ‘Leonor Will Never Die’

THE DARK HEART

Sweden: in a mythological landscape, search parties roam through forests of spruce, secret conversations are whispered in open fields, and verbal duels fought on narrow country roads. A story of family feuds, inheritances, and forbidden love.


Sweden’s true crime game is above and beyond. The US had already remade series like The Killing and The Bridge. Sundance 2022 audiences can dive headfirst into The Dark Heart. The series is a five-part psychological drama-thriller about how an old family feud clashes with a young, forbidden love story, leading to a tragedy with a deadly outcome, ultimately solved by a private investigator who gets obsessed with the case. The series is based on journalist Joakim Palmkvist’s book “The Dark Heart: A True Story of Greed, Murder, and an Unlikely Investigator”, which delves into the story about how a mysterious missing person’s case is investigated and solved by a local Missing People-volunteer involved in the searches. Think Broadchurch and Mare of East Town vibes. Small town politics and mystery with enough breadcrumbs and insinuation to keep you guessing. You will not be able to look away.

Cast: Aliette Opheim, Clara Christiansson Drake, Gustav Lindh, Peter Andersson.

World Premiere. Fiction. 


LEONOR WILL NEVER DIE

Fiction and reality blur when Leonor, a retired filmmaker, falls into a coma after a television lands on her head, compelling her to become the action hero of her unfinished screenplay.


As a writer, this script is essentially a dream, pun intended. Leading lady, Sheila Francisco is an absolute joy to watch and her energetic narration/script reading is a blast. In her coma, she is living inside her story. The recreations of 80s action films are astounding from the perfectly hokey score to the fight sequences. The visual jumps from these, to real-life, to memories, keeps you on your toes. The semiautobiographical nature of Leonor’s writing makes for a haunting present circumstance. The nonchalance in which her son and ex-husband converse with their lost loved one is bizarre. But that’s only half of the wackiness that ensues. Leonor is weird meta fun. You cannot help but adore the heart behind it.

Cast: Sheila Francisco, Bong Cabrera, Rocky Salumbides, Anthony Falcon.

World Premiere.


For more information and the complete lineup for Sundance 2022 film, click here!


Discovery + review: ‘SET!’ invites you to take a seat at one of the weirdest and most wonderful competitive sports you’ve never heard of.

Once a year, a group of feverishly determined table setters vie for the “Best of Show” ribbon at the Orange County Fair table setting competition. Often referred to as “The Olympics of Table Setting,” contestants can spend over 6 months preparing their table to compete and ultimately be judged. A merely misplaced soup spoon can mean the end for an otherwise perfect table. But like any competition, it is not without its dramatics. Old rivalries, controversy, and eccentric personalities come to a head as SET! explores topics far beyond the silverware.


Competitive tablescaping? Yes, you read that correctly. What, praytell, is competitive tablescaping? Well, it’s only the most amazing, strange, imaginative, cutthroat sport you’ve probably never heard of. Each year, under the guidance of a specific theme, competitors create place settings that will either wow or ward off a panel of judges and their fellow contestants. In SET!, director Scott Gawlik documents the six months leading up to the annual Orange County Fair table setting competition and its coveted “Best In Show” ribbon. 

Every inch and angle of cutlery and drinking glasses amounts to a point total. Scores are a cumulative system where one tiny mistake could cost you the top prize, which I think is bragging rights and not the 50 cent ribbon. What makes this sport so massively entertaining comes down to the interpretation of the theme and the competitors’ personalities. In SET!, featured competitors are not shy about sharing their opinions. More often than not, they’re downright catty. 

The judging is rigid. The rules are clear, but that doesn’t mean some of the comments aren’t questionable. Gawlik presents this aspect with glorious tongue-in-cheek energy through the film’s editing. But the drama pervades the entire process. A mostly female-dominated pastime, SET! also features a male competitor, Tim, who made his Dr. Suess-themed table on a literal dime. Others spend thousands on a single display. The snark, the tears, and the infighting make SET! something akin to Christopher Guest‘s Best In Show and The Real Housewives. The eccentricities of our featured contestants make SET! popcorn-worthy, high-stakes drama. The final displays vary in size, tone, and unconventionality. Some tables are complex, while others are simple and clean. But it’s the behind-the-scenes shenanigans of SET! that holds you captive. I never thought I’d be so invested in the placement of a water glass, and yet, here I am wondering what my holiday table will look like a month from now. 


Streaming on discovery+ on November 12th

Directed by Scott Gawlik

*Official Selection – Hot Docs 2021*
*Official Selection – Newport Beach Film Festival*


Hulu original series review: ‘Baker’s Dozen’ – Not a new recipe but still a tasty treat.

BAKER’S DOZEN

Passionate amateur bakers will go head-to-head with seasoned professionals in each episode of “Baker’s Dozen”. Join hosts Tamera Mowry-Housley (Emmy-award winning host of “The Real,” FOX’s “The Masked Singer” and Hallmark’s “Christmas Comes Twice”) and Bill Yosses (Author and former White House Pastry Chef) for this fast-paced competition series that will determine the best baker of all! Which of the 13 bakers has what it takes to create the next viral baking sensation, win the golden rolling pin and take home the cash prize?


Hulu has a brand new, delicious baking competition series titled Baker’s Dozen. Each episode sees you guessed it, 13 baker’s battle it out in the kitchen. The competition happens in three rounds. Round One criteria are judged on creativity, presentation, and execution. Only 5 winners from the one-hour first round proceed into the bakeshop to compete again. The talent pool is all over the place, but that is the charm of the series. You’re rooting for everyone for different reasons. The creativity is off the charts because the contestants don’t have a choice. If they want to move ahead in the competition, they must stand out.

Round Two kicks it up a knotch. In three hours, the remaining bakers must tackle a themed challenge, but their creation is finally put to the taste and uniformity test. Round Three, the final round, gives the round two victor a huge advantage; help from a special guest. The ultimate prize is not only the title, but cash and the elusive golden rolling pin. The chemistry between judges Tamara Mowrey-Housley and former Whitehouse chef Bill Mosses is delicious. They are honest, kind, and informative. It’s a nice give and take, and they are pro hosts. Baker’s Dozen utilizes an open-air kitchen that we’ve become familiar with. It’s bright, colorful, and equipped with everything a contestant could desire. That final round is what differentiates each episode. It’s a major feat to accomplish in 5 hours. Baker’s Dozen is a bingble, sweet treat for Hulu audiences. Your mouth will water, your eyes will be delighted, and it just might inspire you to get baking.


The HULU original
Baker’s Dozen is streaming now!