Play by Play Series Creator Interview

If you liked The Wonder Years or The Sandlot — if you yearn for nostalgic tales told with humor, heart, and wit — then brace yourselves for the wistful joy of Kevin Jakubowski’s excellent new series Play by Play.

Set in the ’90s, Play by Play centers on a 14-year-old wannabe athlete named Pete Hickey (played by Reid Miller) and his herculean quest to find relevance as a freshman in high school. For anyone who’s survived high school, this challenge is all too familiar; but there’s one thing — even more powerful than living in his older brother’s shadow or his younger’s sister warpath — that put Pete’s journey into perilous territory: his freshman class is the school’s first to welcome girls. Which means that every sophomore, junior and senior at his school — all dudes — are gunning for the girls in his grade (and all too happy to take down Pete Hickey in the process).

Unlike most first-person narrated coming of age stories, Play by Play was created with a twist: the narrator (who, as with shows like The Wonder Years or The Goldbergs, is unseen) is a present day  anchor on Sportscenter; so the narrative on screen — the trials and tribulations of young Pete Hickey — is presented in a way that feels like highlights to a sports game.

The show, which premieres today on Go90 (Verizon’s freely available streaming service) is ambitious, endearing and consistently clever. Which is probably why Play by Play has already been picked up for a 2nd and 3rd season.

To learn more about how this show got made, I sat down with creator Kevin Jakubowski to discuss how Play by Play came to be. We also talked about the blacklist script that launched his career (The Assassination of a High School President), his script-turned-novel about the magic of Nintendo (8-Bit Christmas) and how a sport called Hurling changed the trajectory of his life…

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Preacher Season 2 Promo

Preacher is back for a second season on AMC. Jesse (Dominic Cooper), Tulip (Ruth Negga) and Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) are on the road looking for God but they’re not alone – The Cowboy (Graham McTavish), introduced last season, is on their tail.

Showrunner Sam Catlin developed the Preacher series alongside Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and the second season continues to toy with elements of the comic book. For instance, Eugene (Ian Colletti) is in Hell, reliving his “Arseface” origin while the lead trio meet new characters back on Earth.

Catlin spoke with /Film by phone this week to discuss Preacher season 2. While he was tight-lipped on some spoilers, he revealed some major comic book characters coming this season and addressed some of the encounters in the first three episodes of the new season.

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TheMist-7

Stephen King has done really well on television. Miniseries adaptations of It, The Stand, Salem’s Lot and The Tommyknockers were hits and Under the Dome managed to run three seasons. Even the miniseries remake of The Shining received King’s blessing.

Now, the acclaimed novella The Mist is getting a television adaptation, following in the footsteps of Frank Darabont’s 2007 film version. Spike TV’s series is based on the concept of the King novella, but starts with entirely new characters and multiple locations. Instead of a supermarket, characters get trapped in a mall and library by a thick fog that hides murderous creatures within.

Showrunner Christian Torpe adapted The Mist for television and he spoke with /Film by phone last week to talk about about the new series. .

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Oren Uziel interview

The small, friendly town of Shimmer Lake isn’t as innocent as it looks. Neither are some of the characters in writer-director Oren Uziel‘s crafty crime thriller, which shows a crime gone wrong in reverse time. The robbery involves a moralistic Sherrif (Benjamin Walker), a desperate lawyer on the run (Rainn Wilson), two D-list FBI agents (Ron Livingston and Rob Corddry), and more.

It’s an 83-minute ensemble crime story with a surprising amount of intimacy. Few of Uziel’s characters are what their jobs, past, or archetypes imply. He reveals them all to be more than what they seem with his directorial debut, which marks his first time ever behind the camera. Uziel, who co-wrote 22 Jump Street and the next addition to the Cloverfield universe, God Particle, told us about writing and directing his debut film, which is streaming on Netflix right now.

Below, read our Oren Uziel interview [Spoilers ahead].

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Cars 3

During my conversation with Cars 3 director Brian Fee last week, I brought up the question of another Cars film. If this movie is a hit and they decide to make a fourth installment, could Owen Wilson‘s Lightning McQeen take a back seat (pun intended) while another character becomes the focal point of the series? Here’s what the filmmaker said about the possibility of a Cars 4.

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Cars 3 - Final Image

The ending of Cars 3 makes the movie, but as with all Pixar films, it was a work in progress for many years. Last week, I spoke with director Brian Fee about how the Cars 3 ending evolved over the development and production of the film.

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Colin Trevorrow pic

You probably won’t see another movie like The Book of Henry any time soon. Even summarizing the film isn’t exactly simple, because it’s not a simple movie or a movie that plays it safe. It’s significantly smaller in scope than director Colin Trevorrow‘s previous film, Jurassic World, but he sees his third feature as a big movie, “an epic story in a very small context.”

The story, which originally had more dark comedy elements, was written 19 years ago by Gregg Hurtwitz. Trevorrow thought he might direct it after Safety Not Guarnteed, but then he was tapped by Steven Spielberg to helm Jurassic World. After the massive success of that film, he returned to The Book of Henry as a detour before tacking Star Wars: Episode 9.

During our short interview, the director told us what about the story spoke to him, its unpredictable narrative, and why The Book of Henry felt like a bigger risk than Jurassic World.

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cars 3

Cars 3 isn’t your typical children’s animated movie. Not that we expect the typical from Pixar, but the Cars franchise has been more geared (pun intended) towards younger audiences. At the core of the film is Owen Wilson‘s character Lightning McQueen, who is faced with the possible end of his career. The new generation of racers are faster and smarter, and while McQueen attempts to make a comeback, he must come to terms with, well, being old. These are some heavy topics for a G-rated animated movie.

Speaking with director Brian Fee and producer Kevin Reher, I learned that the idea came from conversations with racing star Jeff Gordon and a very emotional moment director Fee had with his daughters.
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cars 3 easter eggs

There are many things we love about Pixar movies. We love their emotional beats, their characters, the worlds they create, and the way they make us reevaluate our world and lives.

But I also love searching for those Easter eggs. When talking with director Brian Fee about the studio’s latest film, I was able to get him to reveal some of the more obscure Cars 3 easter eggs you should look out for.

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paul newman cars 3

Before seeing Cars 3, I had heard that the filmmakers decided to bring Paul Newman‘s character Doc Hudson back as a tribute to the late great actor. What I didn’t anticipate is how much of the core of the story is built around Doc Hudson – it’s not just a brief mention or appearance. So when talking with Cars 3 director Brian Fee and producer Kevin Reher at the junket, I asked how much of the story was conceived around the idea of bringing Newman, who died in 2008, back to the screen.

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