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Killing Gunther (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Taran Killam’s directorial debut for “Killing Gunther”, a film he wrote and starred in, is no doubt a film full of laughs and plenty of action.  I was surprised how entertaining and fun this film was and not at all hyper-moronic.  And what best than to see Arnold Schwarzenegger return to a film to display his comedic and action talent.  An entertaining popcorn comedy/action film worth watching…”Killing Gunther” is worth watching!

Images courtesy of © 2017 Lionsgate. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Killing Gunther

DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2017

DURATION: 95 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p (1:85:1 Aspect Ratio), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

COMPANY: Lionsgate

RATED: R

RELEASE DATE: December 26, 2017


Directed by Taran Killam

Screenplay by Taran Killam

Produced by Taran Killam, Kim Leadford, Ash Sarohia, Steven Squillante

Executive Producer: Charles Auty, Maxime Cottray, Liz Destro, Sean Andrew Maurer, Steven Pottash, Arnold Schwarzenegger, D. Todd Shepherd, Joe Simpson, Andrew Xavier Yakub

Associate Producer: Daniel J. Elder, Peter Pietrangeli

Music by Dino Meneghin

Cinematographer: Blake McClure

Edited by Adam Epstein

Casting by Judy Lee

Production Design by Armanno Di Febo-Orsini

Art Direction by Cynthia E. Hill

Set Decoration by Jacqueline Miller

Costume Design by Reiko Kurumada, Ariana Preece


Starring:

Arnold Schwarzenegger as Robert “Gunther” Bendik

Cobie Smulders as Lisa McCalla

Hannah Simone as Sanaa

Allison Tolman as Mia

Taran Killam as Blake

Steve Bacic as Max

Amir Talai as Izzat

Bobby Moynihan as Donnie

Scott McNeil as Cheyenne

Aaron Yoo as Yong

Paul Britain as Gabe

Peter Kelamis as Rahmat

Ryan Gaul as Barold

Alex Duncan as Jewel

Aubrey Sixto as Ashley


KILLING GUNTHER is a comedy set in the world of contract killers. A group of young, raw, and undisciplined assassins hire a docu-crew at gunpoint to have undeniable proof that they’re the ones who will kill the most infamous hit man of all time, Gunther (Arnold Schwarzenegger). But Gunther is on to them before they know it and makes their lives a living hell, turning the hunters into the prey in a kill-or-be-killed race against time.


Saturday Night Live star and actor Taran Killam (“12 Years a Slave”, “Brother Nature”) makes his directorial debut in the action-comedy, “Killing Gunther”.  A film which he also writes and stars as the main protagonist.

The film also stars Arnold Schwarzenegger (“Terminator” films”, “True Lies”, “Predator”), Cobie Smulders (“Avengers” films, “Jack reacher”, “Safe Haven”), Hannah Simone (“New Girl”, “Old Boy”, “Folk Hero & Funny Guy”), Allison Tolman (“The Gift”), Steve Bacic (“The 6th Day”, “X-Men 2”, “Good Luck Chuck”), Bobby Moynihan (“Saturday Night Live”, “Sisters”), Aaron Yoo (“21”, “Disturbia”, “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist”), Ryan Gaul (“Identity Thief”, “Father Figures”), Amir Talat (“The Circle”, “Harold & Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo Bay”, “Legally Blonde 2”) and Paul Britain (“Saturday Night Live”, “Hotel Transylvania” films).

And now the film will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate.

The film revolves around a hitman named Blake (portrayed by Taran Killam) who wants to kill the world’s greatest hitman, the mysterious Gunther (portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger) for sleeping and stealing his girlfriend, Lisa McCalla (portrayed by Cobie Smulders).

Now Blake has recruited a group of assassins to kill Gunther.  Including deadly assassin  Sanaa (portrayed by Hannah Simone) and daughter of legendary hitman, Rahmat Fairouza, bomb and explosives professional Donnie (portrayed by Bobby Moynihan), poison expert Yong (portrayed by Aaron Yoo), former extremist Izzat (portrayed by Amir Talai), hacker/computer expert Gabe (portrayed by Paul Britain) and Russian couple Mia (portrayed by Allison Tolman) and Barold (portrayed by Ryan Gaul).  And Blake’s mentor and assassin, Ashley (portrayed by Aubrey Sixto).  And also, Blake has his friend Max (portrayed by Steve Bacic) involved.

And Blake has also hired a documentary crew to document how this group will kill Gunther.  The problem, no one knows Gunther and what he looks like.

But on the first meeting and as Max is going to reveal Gunther’s location, Gunther uses a sniper and kills Max and shoots an RPG towards the group.  Meanwhile, Ashley who is getting out of the hospital, has a heart attack while discussing killing Gunther.

With two people down, the group sets up a fake hit and when Gunther is at a building, the group goes after him and tries to kill him but Gunther ends up evading the group and during a fight with Izzat, manages to choke the extremist with his robotic hand.

While Sanaa was able to pull of a shot and get Gunther in the leg, she is about to get shot but is saved by Donnie who instantly falls for her.

As the group loses Gunther and reviews the security footage, they see Gunther wearing a mask of Blake and realize he is also a master of disguise.

Can Blake and his remaining group members find a way to kill Gunther?  Or will Gunther eliminate all of them?


VIDEO:

“Killing Gunther” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1 aspect ratio). The film shows great detail on closeups and low-light situations are presented well. Colors are natural, black levels are nice and deep and for the most part, the film looks very good in HD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Killing Gunther” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and features crystal clear dialogue, while action scenes utilize the surround channels very well.    The overall lossless soundtrack is very good!

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Killing Gunther” comes with following special feature:

  • Deleted Scenes– A short featurette on the working relationship of Judi Dench and Ali Fazal.
  • Bloopers – Featuring outtakes from “Killing Gunther”.

EXTRAS:

“Killing Gunther” comes with an UltraViolet Digital HD code.


With Taran Killam making his directorial debut in a comedy/action film, having watched the “Saturday Night Live” talent and also his fellow co-stars in “Killing Gunther” made me think this would be a popcorn comedy/action film that would be moronic or juvenile, like other SNL stars who have appeared in films.

Some manage to create or star in films that are surprisingly good and others who have starred in films that are terribly bad.  And with “Killing Gunther”, fortunately this film lands in the “surprisingly good” category as “Killing Gunther” was hilarious and fun!

The film revolves around a ragtag bunch of killers who come together under Killam’s main character, Blake.  An assassin who wants revenge against Gunther for stealing and sleeping with his girlfriend.

Brokenhearted about the breakup, he wants nothing but to take down the world’s greatest hitman.

But Gunther is the greatest hitman for a reason.  Not only is he a master of disguise but he is often one step ahead of Blake and his group.  And despite how murderous Blake’s team is, they are no match against Gunther.

But if Blake can find out who Gunther really is and where he lives, perhaps he has a chance of killing him.

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the character of Gunther and the actor returns to his comedy roots of playing a hitman that just is impossible to kill, and Schwarzenegger brings the laughs as we see the numerous people he had disguised himself as.

And of course, there are many silly moments throughout the film, as one can expect from Killam.  But the most enjoyable part about this film is wondering who will get who and whether or not Blake or Gunther is victorious at the end.  And one will no doubt want to stick around after the credits, as we get the answer of who is the last person standing.

As for the Blu-ray, picture and lossless audio quality is great.  Special features include deleted scenes and bloopers.

Overall, Taran Killam’s directorial debut for “Killing Gunther”, a film he wrote and starred in, is no doubt a film full of laughs and plenty of action.  I was surprised how entertaining and fun this film was and not at all hyper-moronic.  And what best than to see Arnold Schwarzenegger return to a film to display his comedic and action talent.

An entertaining popcorn comedy/action film worth watching…”Killing Gunther” is worth watching!

 

BRAVO MEDIA’S EMMY-WINNING “INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO” WELCOMES ACTOR TED DANSON ON THURSDAY, JANUARY 11 AT 8PM ET/PT

December 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

NEW YORK – December 20, 2017 – Bravo Media’s Emmy Award-winning “Inside the Actors Studio,” hosted by James Lipton welcomes critically-acclaimed actor, author and producer Ted Danson on Thursday, January 11 at 8pm ET/PT. The multi-hyphenate star recounts his childhood growing up in Arizona, to his early career as well as his breakout role as ‘Sam Malone’ in “Cheers.” Danson reveals his favorite memories from the show, including working with director James Burrows, his character’s love interest Diane, played by Shelley Long, and why he felt it was time to move on from this iconic role. In the episode, viewers will also learn about Danson’s favorite film and television roles, including Something About Amelia, Three Men and a Baby, Body Heat, “Damages,” “Bored to Death” and his current role in “The Good Place” alongside Kristen Bell. For more information on “Inside the Actors Studio,” please visit: http://www.bravotv.com/inside-the-actors-studio.

Ted Danson is an award-winning film and television actor. He has received numerous industry accolades, including three Golden Globe Awards and two Emmy Awards. In addition to his work on screen, Danson is also a passionate environmental activist. He founded the American Oceans Campaign in 1987, which merged with Oceana in 2001, where he currently serves as a board member. He published his first book “Oceana: Our Endangered Oceans and What We Can Do to Save Them” in 2011. Currently, he can be seen on the small screen in both “The Good Place” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

About Bravo Media:

Bravo Media is the premier lifestyle and entertainment brand that drives cultural conversation around its high-quality, interactive original content focusing on the network’s passion points of food, fashion, beauty, design, digital, and pop culture. The network’s diversified slate includes Bravo’s scripted series “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce,” “Imposters,” and “Odd Mom Out,” in addition to unscripted favorites such as Emmy Award-winning “Top Chef,” “Vanderpump Rules,” “Below Deck,” “Southern Charm,” and the popular “Million Dollar Listing” and “The Real Housewives” franchises, as well as the only live late-night talk show, “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen.” Available in 87 million homes, Bravo is a program service of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, a division of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Watch Bravo anywhere: on demand, online, or across mobile and connected TVs. Bravo has been an NBCUniversal cable network since December 2002 and first launched in December 1980.

 

“I LOVE LUCY CHRISTMAS SPECIAL,” A NEW ONE-HOUR SPECIAL FEATURING TWO EPISODES OF THE CLASSIC SERIES, TO BE BROADCAST FRIDAY, DEC. 22

December 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“The Christmas Episode” and the Newly Colorized “The Fashion Show”

to Be Seamlessly Combined

I LOVE LUCY CHRISTMAS SPECIAL, a new one-hour special featuring two back-to-back colorized episodes of the classic series, will be broadcast Friday, Dec. 22 (8:00-9:01 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

I LOVE LUCY CHRISTMAS SPECIAL features “The Christmas Episode” and the newly colorized “The Fashion Show.” Both were colorized with a nod to the 1950s period in which they were filmed. The main titles and end credits are seamlessly combined into one set at the beginning and end of the hour, with no interruption between the episodes.

“The Christmas Episode” finds the Ricardos and Mertzes decorating Lucy and Ricky’s Christmas tree and reminiscing about how their lives have changed since the arrival of the Ricardos’ son, Little Ricky (Keith Thibodeaux). Flashbacks recall the night Lucy tells Ricky she is pregnant, the time Lucy shows up unexpectedly as part of a barbershop quartet and the day Ricky and the Mertzes rehearse taking Lucy to the maternity ward.

“The Christmas Episode” was first broadcast on CBS on Christmas Eve, 1956. The episode was not included in the series’ long history of rebroadcasts, first on CBS Daytime and later in syndication. Long thought to be lost, the program was rediscovered by CBS in 1989.

In “The Fashion Show,” Lucy convinces Ricky to allow her to spend up to $100 on a dress at the fashionable Don Loper Salon in Beverly Hills. However, when an opportunity arises for Lucy to participate in a Loper fashion show featuring glamorous movie star wives, Lucy winds up spending five times that! Lucy hopes that if she gets a mild sunburn, Ricky will feel sorry for her and forgive her for spending so much, though, as always, she goes a bit too far!

“The Fashion Show” was originally broadcast Feb. 28, 1955, and became an immediate favorite not only of viewers, but of Lucille Ball herself. The episode features a few of her real-life personal friends: Mrs. Gordon MacRae, Mrs. William Holden, Mrs. Van Heflin, Mrs. Forrest Tucker and Don Loper himself.

“I Love Lucy” Christmas specials have aired on the Network the past four years, each combining the holiday-themed episode with a different comedy classic. Beginning in 2015, “The Christmas Episode” has been shown colorized in its entirety, with fully-colorized flashback scenes that had previously been presented in black-and-white.

“I Love Lucy” was broadcast on the Network from Oct. 15, 1951 through June 23, 1957. It was voted “The Best TV Show of All Time” in a 2012 viewer poll conducted by People magazine and ABC News. “I Love Lucy” stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo and Vivian Vance and William Frawley as the Ricardos’ friends and landlords, Ethel and Fred Mertz.

 

JORDAN FISHER AND LINDSAY ARNOLD ARE ‘DANCING WITH THE STARS’ SEASON 25 CHAMPIONS!

November 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

#TeamFishUponAStar Wins The Coveted Mirrorball Trophy
Lindsey Stirling and Mark Ballas (#TeamStark) Placed Second
Frankie Muniz and Witney Carson (#TeamFranneyPack) Placed Third
The Finale Also Included Special Musical Performances by Kelsea Ballerini, Nick Lachey, Jordan Fisher and Debbie Gibson, and Lindsey Stirling & Becky G
In the two-hour season finale of “Dancing with the Stars” on TUESDAY, NOV. 21 (9:00-11:00 p.m. EST), it was a Christmas spectacular as the three finalists advanced to the final stage of the competition. There was live dancing and show-stopping performances at both The Grove and in the ballroom, and each couple performed two dances. The first was a repeat performance of their favorite dance from earlier in the season, while the second routine was part of a “24-Hour Fusion Challenge,” in which each couple fused two contrasting dance styles with less than 24 hours to prepare.
The night kicked off with a high-energy opening number, featuring a reunion of all 13 of this season’s couples, at The Grove, Caruso’s award-winning retail, dining and lifestyle destination. Multiplatinum artist Nick Lachey performed a new, never-before-heard ballad, “Someone to Dance With,” a special track he recorded that was inspired by his journey on “Dancing with the Stars” this season. The song is currently available on streaming services everywhere. Additionally, the night also included numerous special performances: Kelsea Ballerini sang “Legends,” from her latest album; Lindsey Stirling featuring Becky G performed “Christmas C’Mon,” from Lindsey’s new holiday album, “Warmer in the Winter”; and Jordan Fisher sang a joyful medley with Debbie Gibson, “Sleigh Ride”/”What Christmas Means to Me.”
There was also a special performance from the upcoming Dancing with the Stars: Live! Light Up the Night tour, hitting the road this winter, as well as a number inspired by the Walt Disney Animation Studios new “Frozen” short, “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.”
The judges’ points and viewer votes from November 20 were combined along with the night’s judges’ points and online-only viewer votes from the repeat dances and “24-Hour Fusion Challenge” to determine the winner. At the end of the night at The Grove, Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold were named Season 25 champions and presented with the coveted Mirrorball trophy.
Hosted by two-time Emmy®-winning host Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews, “Dancing with the Stars” is the hit series in which celebrities perform choreographed dance routines that are judged by a panel of renowned ballroom experts, including head judge Len Goodman and dancers/choreographers Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba.

 

CBS GIVES FULL SEASON ORDER TO “S.W.A.T.” AND PICKS UP THREE ADDITIONAL EPISODES OF “9JKL” FOR THE 2017-2018 BROADCAST SEASON

November 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

CBS has given a full season order to new drama series S.W.A.T. and has picked up three additional episodes of new comedy 9JKL for the 2017-2018 broadcast season.

S.W.A.T. is averaging 10.36 million viewers, 1.9 in adults 18-49 and 2.8 in adults 25-54. Its Thursday, Nov. 2 premiere at 10:00 PM was the best performance in the time period with entertainment programming since Jan. 6, 2016, averaging 10.52 million viewers with live plus 7-day ratings. It also had the time period’s best rating among adults 18-49 since March 3, 2016, averaging 1.9.

The Monday freshman comedy 9JKL is averaging 7.40 million viewers.

S.W.A.T. stars Shemar Moore, Stephanie Sigman, Alex Russell, Jay Harrington, Lina Esco, Kenny Johnson, Peter Onorati and David Lim. Aaron Thomas, Shawn Ryan, Justin Lin, Neal Moritz, Marney Hochman, Danielle Woodrow and Pavun Shetty are executive producers for Sony Pictures Television in association with CBS Television Studios. S.W.A.T. airs Thursdays (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

9JKL stars Mark Feuerstein, David Walton, Elliott Gould, Linda Lavin, Liza Lapira, Matt Murray and Albert Tsai. Dana Klein, Mark Feuerstein, Aaron Kaplan, Wendi Trilling, Dana Honor and Pamela Fryman are executive producers for CBS Television Studios. 9JKL airs Mondays (9:30-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

*Source: Nielsen most current ratings (9/27/17-11/9/17)

 

Press Q&A with animator and director Hiroshi Nagahama (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

November 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

In Japan, Hiroshi Nagahama is well-known for directing animated films such as “Mushishi”, “Detroit Metal City”, “The Flowers of Evil” and most recently for 2017, Nagahama directed “The Reflection”, which he co-created alongside with Stan Lee.

A hardcore comic book fan, Nagahama was a special guest at Sakura-Con in Seattle, Washington and J!-ENT’s Michelle Tymon participated in the press Q&A with animator/director Hiroshi Nagahama.


Press: I want to start off by asking about Flowers of Evil. You chose to do that in rotoscope, and I’m wondering how you managed to convince the producers and sponsors to let you do that.
Nagahama-san: Well… I was first approached with the idea of doing Flowers of Evil, by a producer named Nakanishi from King Records. He told me that they were looking to do an animated version. So rather than me trying to find someone to let me do it, it was actually a project that was offered to me. And at first, I actually declined. I read all of the manga, and it was extremely interesting, but I initially didn’t think this was something that the fans would enjoy in an animated format, so I declined at first. After that, he said that he would try a few other people, and that was that. But I think it was about a week later, and he said he really wanted to meet with me again. So we met again, and he told me that he had thought about it, but really wanted me to do it. He was kind enough to say that if they were going to make a animated version of this, that I was the only person he could think of to work on it. He then asked me what would it take for me to agree to work on this project. What would I need to make this happen. And so I told him that there was a way. He asked me what it was, and so I told him that it was rotoscope. I would film actual people in real life and incorporate that into the animation. If I was allowed to do that, this might be a weird way of saying it, but I thought I could translate everything the original work was trying to get across in animated form. And that’s how we moved forward with the project. So from the beginning, it was decided we were going to do rotoscope. Then I thought about everything I need to do to make this happen. Because we planned it from the beginning, we were very lucky and we never had an instance where we were in the middle of production and realized we were overbudget or anything like that.

J!-ENT: You had come to Seattle and Sakura-con previously, but has there been anything different on this occasion?
Nagahama-san: Well, I think this is one of the best things about Sakura-con… but it never changes. It’s almost astonishing. Nothing has really changed. The staff, the atmosphere of the convention, all of the fans that attend… From my first Sakura-con in 2002, the only things that have changed are the actual scale of the event and the number of attendees. Otherwise, I believe that the staff is able to achieve the kind of event that they are trying to achieve, and I believe the event is as polished as they are trying to make it.

Japan-A-Radio: From the last time you were at Sakura-con and this time, what has changed for you personally in the anime industry?
Nagahama-san: Let’s see… the biggest change is the fact that my project with Stan Lee is finally starting to take shape. When I was here last, this project was still in the planning stages and was something similar to say mist floating in the air. But now it’s finally starting to take a distinct shape and showing itself.

Press: Speaking of Stan Lee, I hear that you are a huge fan of American comics. What do you find so appealing about American comics and superheroes?
Nagahama-san: First, I was drawn to the art. I’ve mentioned this at Sakura-con a number of times before, but when I was a child, I wasn’t a very big fan of the SD art style that was used in Japanese animation. But all the kids around me seemed to love CoroCoro Comic, which serialized series like Doraemon. It was a kids’ comic magazine that all of the kids were reading. And then as you get older, you usually started reading Shonen Jump or Shonen Sunday. This path seemed like it was laid out for us by adults, and everyone just automatically read them. But something about that bothered me. Like the art in Doraemon… or say Ishinomori Shotaro-san’s drawings… I really liked the stories and thought that they were interesting, but I couldn’t help but wonder why the art had to look the way it did. I always couldn’t help but wonder about that. But of course there were more dramatic and serious anime and manga that had a more realistic art style, but it still wasn’t quite what I was looking for. And that’s when I discovered the Spider-man comics. They were translated into Japanese by a gentleman named Kosei Ono, who had also released translations of other American comics at the time as well. When I read that, I instantly thought that the art looked cool. They properly drew details like the nostrils and lips. They drew eyelashes, and even the tear ducts in the eyes. And even then, the female characters still looked cute and pretty and the men looked handsome and cool. As a child who loved drawing, this became my guiding principle. The art was the first thing to leave an impression on me, but eventually, so did the writing. I was a child who read manga in a rather strange way, but it seemed that my way of reading seemed to fit how American comics were drawn and written. With Japanese manga, you read in a structured, chronological format. So it’d go, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. And because of that, it’s expected that you buy volume one and start from there, or you wouldn’t be able to understand the story at all. But a lot of American comics continue for hundreds of issues, so most readers inevitably have to start with a random issue. They can’t always read from the part where Peter Parker gets bitten by the radioactive spider. There are some people who read from the part where Gwen Stacy is kidnapped, or some people whose first issue is when Doctor Octopus shows up. But when I was buying Japanese manga, I would always buy the ones with the cool-looking covers… ever since I was a child. And then if the story was actually interesting, I would start collecting from there and go back to volume one. And then I would actually understand the interactions and relationships between the characters and it was very interesting. I would wonder why two characters didn’t get along very well and then I’d find out they fought in volume one. That was all very interesting to me, and I thought that’s exactly how people read American comics. There’s a slightly difficult term in Japanese, “yotei chowa,” which means pre-established harmony. So things that have already been determined progress as they’re intended. You can predict what’s going to happen in the future. And for someone like me, who didn’t like doing everything that people expected, American comics were filled with unpredictability. So I just kept immersing myself into American comics. And the more I read, the more I found things that appealed to me, so I can endlessly talk about everything that interested me about American comics. And I’ll end this answer with the following statement, but there’s one other thing that I think is fascinating… I think it’s amazing and wonderful that a grandfather and grandchild can talk about and bond over the same character. It’s very rare for something like that to be able to happen in Japan. For example, there’s Sazae-san, and also Doraemon, and Chibi Maruko-chan. But all of these long-running Japanese manga series never have any dramatic changes happen. Sazae-san doesn’t get a divorce, Doraemon doesn’t stop functioning suddenly. There are dramatic things that happen in the series, but they’re usually resolved in an episode or two like Doraemon turning red. But nothing happens in the story that changes the course of the series forever. However, that happens in American comics and so the grandfather and grandchild can have conversations about it. The Angel from X-Men that the grandfather would probably know is the one with white angel wings. But the grandchild would probably go, “Wait, no. He has metallic wings and is called Archangel.” And then the grandfather can be shocked and ask his grandchild when Angel’s wings became metallic. I think it’s wonderful that a grandfather and grandchild can have conversations like this. It’s my hope that I’m able to make stories that are that compelling myself.

J!-ENT: This is going to be another question about American comics, but I was wondering if you’ve seen the Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, Netflix series and what your thoughts on them that are.
Nagahama-san: Of course! I’ve seen all of them!
J!-ENT: Also, The Defenders is coming out soon so I was wondering about what you thought about that. And if there were any changes you could make to any of the series, what would it be?
Nagahama-san: My thoughts on these series… is that they are wonderful. I never thought I’d be able to experience something so wonderful while I was still alive. When Sam Raimi directed the Spider-man movie, I thought I could die happily. I was able to watch such a wonderful Spider-man movie while I was still alive. I was able to watch the real Spider-man on the big screen. But now, it’s just been one record-breaking experience after another for me. Like this series? Wait, Doctor Strange, too? I was like, there’s no way that people would watch a Guardians of the Galaxy movie with those ridiculous characters! It’s just been one pleasant surprise after another. And out of all of the heroes, Daredevil has always been one of my all-time favorite characters. Daredevil is very bloody. He has a lot of limits. He can’t fly, he can’t see, and has various other limitations. On top of that, he’s a lawyer. As someone has who has to deal with the law, his heart is also bound. He can’t do whatever he wants to all of the villains in court. I think it’s absolutely amazing that they were able to make an entertaining TV series about someone who is so limited and so human. It makes me very happy. In addition, the Guardians of the Galaxy that I knew was from a very long time ago where it was Yondu, the blue guy with the red mohawk, and some other weird characters that were not in the movie flying around the ends of Space, and it was extremely bizarre. The Guardians of the Galaxy now is completely different. In the comics, Yondu came from a different world. He happens upon this team of scoundrels and tells them that they can use the team name “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which was the name his old team had used. So it was a completely different team. And I was still reading that slightly lamer version of the comic a long time ago. So when I heard that it was going to be made into a movie, I was very amused and couldn’t fathom how they were going to do it. And when I saw the movie and Yondu, I realized he was on the old team, and was very excited about the whole thing. As for the Netflix series, I like all of them so far. Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist are all great. But if I had the choice, there’d just be one thing I’d like to change… I’d like for them to show Daredevil’s nose. In the Netflix version, his mask sort of makes him look like Batman. His nose is guarded, and I think it’s great that his face is being protected… But no matter how I look at it, he sort of looks like a version of Batman where a lot of things are just smaller. His horns are smaller, and the point on his nose is smaller. If his face was showing a little more, it’d be absolutely perfect. And that’s why I absolutely love the design they used for Daredevil in the Daredevil movie with Ben Affleck, where it was all leather. I thought that the design for his costume used in that movie respected the original design of his costume from the comics to the utmost level.

Japan-A-Radio: With the upcoming release of The Reflection, are there any details that you can reveal currently? What can the fans look forward to?
Studio Deen rep: I can touch upon the broadcast details. I’m from Studio Deen, which is producing that anime. The Reflection will start broadcast in July of 2017 on NHK in Japan on Saturday at 11 PM. I believe that Crunchyroll has already announced it at this event, but they will also be simulcasting this title this title in the US and North America. I’m not sure of the exact time it’ll be available in the US, but I believe it’ll probably be around two hours after it has aired in Japan.
Nagahama-san: The Reflection… What can the fans look forward to and expect? Let’s see… I’m not sure what I can say. It’s an original story that I created with Stan Lee. Even if some of the characters may look familiar or if the premise may be something you might’ve heard of before, I still believe that it will feel like something completely different. This is slightly difficult to explain but… This time, we’re only using part of the whole story. The world of The Reflection is very vast. Just like Stan created the Marvel Universe, Stan and I sort of created our own Stan Lee universe, where we created various heroes and villains within this universe. It’s also set up where we can have various stories from this universe. So I want fans to watch the series and know this isn’t the last time they’re going to be seeing something from this universe. After this story, another story with this villain might start next. They barely touched upon that one hero, but I wonder why they were like that? Why were they dressed like that? Those might all get answered in the future. Just as I mentioned earlier, this is very close to how American comics are read. With The Reflection, I want people to think it was like they happened to grab issue 112 of The Reflection when they’re watching it. And starting from that volume, there’s going to be once incident that starts and comes to a conclusion within twelve issues. So I’m hoping that I’ll be able to show the audience the continuing story, or a different part of the story later on. There’s one other thing that I think that the fans can look forward to, so I hope you’ll let me share that. There will be characters in this series that are pretty symbolic to this universe. The idol group 9nine, who sing the ending theme, will show up as superheroes in the show. I think it’ll be fun to see when they might actually show up in the series and what kind of costumes they’ll be wearing. They will actually be wearing costumes and fighting in the series. I was very careful about when and where to use them in the series. The concept behind their characters is the Japanese ideal for superheroes. They look like what Japanese people would think of when they think of what heroes look like. That’s what 9nine will look like in the show. As for the rest of the characters, they all look like they came out of American comics because I enjoy American comics so much. They were all designed with that in mind and while discussing how they should look with Stan. With 9nine, I didn’t really talk to Stan about them. Since they’re Japanese characters, he told me that I could do whatever I’d like with them, and let me bring up the concept behind them. So I think that they can give a special perspective within The Reflection. As for the art style of The Reflection, it’s made to look more like American comics.

Press: You have done a lot of work with the director Akitaro Daichi. What did you learn from him and does he mean to you?
Nagahama-san: Mr. Daichi was someone I had met after being in this business for a while. So instead of him teaching me various things, I’d say that he validified things for me. He would tell me that my way of doing things was fine. If I ever had any doubts about what I was doing, he was the person to tell me that I was fine with how I was doing things. He would give me courage. Also, rather than using words, he would physically show me. He’s always been very supportive of me and is very important to me because of how he’s helped me to develop. Just to add on one last thing, Mr. Daichi said something to me that I will never forget. He told me that there’s really nothing holding me back. If I feel like I should do something, then I should do it because I can do anything. He told me that I was the only person putting restrictions on myself, so if I free myself of them, I can do whatever I want… That there’s nothing that I’m not allowed to do. I think those words still affect me greatly.

Interpreter: There’s actually one question I’d like to ask really quickly if I may. So in American comics, they quite often retcon things that happen. What do you think about that? In Japanese comics, once something happens, it doesn’t really ever get retconned. In a way, this is a freedom that only exists in American comics.
Nagahama-san: That actually might be one of the reason that I don’t really like DC superheroes as much. That happened a lot to DC superheroes ever since I can remember. Superman couldn’t fly at first, and Krypton kept changing over and over. Because of all of the changes, I didn’t know what was true or not anymore in those comics. But in the Marvel Universe that Stan created, there wasn’t as much wavering. The settings for Spider-man haven’t changed much at all from the beginning. And recently, they finally did start changing some things and some characters did come back from the dead. But for decades, they actually stayed dead and there wasn’t much wavering overall. My favorite era of Marvel comics is the Silver Age, where when something happened, it didn’t get retconned. For example, the Green Goblin was dead for a long time before he was finally brought back. I actually liked that era when something happened, it didn’t get retconned. So when asked if I can relate to doing retcons, to be honest, I can’t. But these things really never happened with the characters that I really liked. I definitely have no plans on doing something like that in The Reflection. If I was going to do something like that though, I’d like to do something like Age of Apocalypse where the whole world gets flipped around. Age of Apocalypse was an absolutely amazing crossover. So unless it’s something that drastic, I don’t think I’ll ever do it.

Final thoughts: Final thoughts?
Nagahama-san: From me? I can’t help but feel like I might’ve talked a bit too much about the American comics that I love so much, but I’m very thankful that all of you were here to listen and that I’m in this situation where I can talk about all of this. I feel blessed that I was able to come back to Sakura-con again, and that I was able to walk through the streets of Seattle again. This is definitely a unique experience, and I feel very special to be a part of it. So when I get back to Japan, I know I have to go back to work on The Reflection. And when I think about that, there’s a part of me that can’t help but feel like I want to stay in Seattle a little longer.


 

 

J!-ENT’s Dennis A. Amith interviews Babyraids JAPAN (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)

November 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

It was back in 2012, when Babyraids JAPAN made their debut through their agency LesPros Entertainment.

Babyraids JAPAN consists of Rikako Ooya, Erika Denya, Manatsu Hayashi, Nao Takami and Rio Watanabe.

The group made their debut with the single “Babyraids”, followed by “Baby Revolution” that year but would eventually break into the top 10 in 2013 with their singles “Koyomi no Ue de wa December”.

And while their single debuted at #6 on the Oricon Charts, having been around for two years, the group made a goal, perform at Budokan and if it doesn’t happen, they’ll end the group.

Fortunately for fans, Babyraids Japan would make their dreams come true before Christmas of 2014 by performing at Nippon Budokan.

The group would release a string of hits that would debut on the Oricon top 10 such as “Koi wa Panic”, “Bucchake Rock’n Hachake Roll/Baby Step”, “Tora-Tora Tiger” and “2 Years”.

In 2016, the group’s “Hashire, Hashire” would have their best debut at #3 on the Oricon Charts and since then, have released a total of 14 singles and two albums. Plus one mini-album and five video releases.

J!-ENT’s Dennis A. Amith had the opportunity to interview two of the five Babyraids JAPAN members, Nao and Rikako, a few days before their live performance in San Francisco.

Click here to read our J!-ENT Interview with Babyraids JAPAN


 

 

“THE THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE ON CBS,” FEATURING A PERFORMANCE BY GRAMMY® AWARD NOMINATED RECORDING ARTIST KELSEA BALLERINI, TO BE ANCHORED BY “ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT’S” KEVIN FRAZIER AND KELTIE KNIGHT, LIVE FROM NEW YORK CITY, THURSDAY, NOV. 23

October 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Additional Performances Include the Broadway Casts of the

Hit Musicals “Come From Away” and “Waitress”

THE THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE ON CBS, featuring a performance by GRAMMY® Award nominated recording artist Kelsea Ballerini, will be anchored by ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT host Kevin Frazier and correspondent Keltie Knight, live from New York City Thursday, Nov. 23 on the CBS Television Network. The parade will be broadcast 9:00 AM-12:00 PM, live ET/8:00-11:00 AM, live CT/7:00-10:00 AM, live MT/9:00 AM-12:00 PM, delayed PT.

A CBS Thanksgiving tradition in its 57th year, the special will feature portions of the 91st Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade live from New York City. Additional performances during the parade will include the casts of the Broadway hit musicals “Come From Away” and “Waitress,” featuring GRAMMY® Award winner Jason Mraz.

GRAMMY® Award nominee Kelsea Ballerini released her first single, “Legends,” off her highly anticipated sophomore album, Unapologetically, slated for release on Nov. 3 (Black River Entertainment). Ballerini skyrocketed to stardom after releasing three consecutive platinum-certified #1 hits from her critically acclaimed debut album, The First Time – “Love Me Like You Mean It,” “Peter Pan” and “Dibs” – making her the only female artist in country music history, including female duos and groups, to achieve this accolade. The talented singer-songwriter also reached gold status with Top 5 hit “Yeah Boy,” after having written or co-written all 12 songs on her debut. After her 2016 headline The First Time Tour – which visited dozens of cities across the U.S. and included sold-out shows in her hometown of Knoxville, Tenn., Minneapolis, Minn., New York City, Los Angeles and more – Ballerini joined Thomas Rhett for his Home Team Tour, followed by Lady Antebellum’s You Look Good World Tour. Awarded Billboard magazine’s Rising Star title at the prestigious 2015 Women in Music event, she has continued to gain recognition by scoring her first ever ACM Award win for New Female Vocalist of the Year, the iHeartRadio Music Award for Best New Country Artist, multiple Radio Disney Music Awards and the American Country Countdown Award (ACCA) for Breakthrough Female of the Year.

Frazier and Knight will anchor from a site along the parade route in New York City. The beloved parade is famous for its gigantic balloons of cartoon character favorites, fantastic floats and lively marching bands from across the country. This will mark the seventh consecutive year Frazier has hosted. Knight is hosting for the third time.

Frazier co-hosts ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT with Nancy O’Dell. The two-time Emmy Award-winning entertainment news program is in its 37th season. Prior to joining ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT as co-host, Frazier co-anchored its sister show, “The Insider.” He has appeared as an entertainment expert on news and entertainment programs, including CBS THIS MORNING, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Larry King Live,” “Nancy Grace” and “The Joy Behar Show.” Frazier began his broadcasting career as a local sports reporter. Prior to first joining ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT in 2004, he served as host of “SportsCenter,” “NBA Shoot Around” and “NBA Fastbreak.” Also, he served as a sideline reporter for the “NFL on Fox” telecasts.

Knight is a former classical ballerina and Radio City Rockette. A two-time Emmy Award nominee, Knight is currently a correspondent for ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT. Additionally, she co-hosts The LadyGang podcast, which has been featured on Entertainment Weekly’s “Must List” and has seen over 15 million downloads in 2017. She was a guest advisor on “Project Runway,” and has appeared on THE TALK, “Huffington Post Live,” “Weekend Express” and “Dr. Drew.” Also, she has been a guest moderator for various panels for Vanity Fair and a judge for the 2016 Miss USA pageant. Knight is a budding fashionista with best-dressed mentions in Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Just Jared, Us Weekly, The Daily Mail, People’s Stylewatch and The New York Times.

Emmy Award-winning producers Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss (“The Tony Awards”) are executive producers for THE THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE ON CBS. Weiss will also direct.

 

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