Michael K Williams, who played drug vigilante Omar Little, will take the role of Wu-Tang Clan rapper Ol’ Dirty Bastard in the biopic Dirty White Boy, reports The Guardian.
Dirty White Boy focuses not just on ODB, born Russell Jones, but also on Jarred Weisfeld, the titular white boy, who met the musician when he was a 22-year-old VH1 production assistant. Weisfeld gradually became ODB’s manager, Entertainment Weekly reports, engineering the rapper’s comeback. His plan was cut short by Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s fatal drug overdose in November 2004.
Word is that the film will be the directorial debut for Joaquín Baca-Asay, best known as the cinematographer for Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” music video.
HBO is widely considered to have set the benchmark for contemporary television drama. With series like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under and The Wire, the network married intellectually engaging entertainment with meticulous production value. It was a combination that struck a cultural nerve and changed the way we think about (and consume) television.
Recently though, Ryan McGee over at AV Club wrote a thoughtful piece about the impact of HBO on TV culture. He takes a less populist look at the cultural impact of HBO and poses the question, has the HBO approach to television production done more harm than good?
HBO justly gets credit for pushing the medium of television forward. Broadly speaking, you can pinpoint the start of the modern TV era with The Sopranos, a show wildly hailed for taking a novelistic approach to the small screen. Back then, the word “novelistic” was used in a metaphorical sense. It wasn’t that David Chase literally applied the techniques used to construct a novel to his show. Rather, The Sopranos took a patient approach that rewarded sustained viewing. The promise that payoffs down the line would be that much sweeter for the journey didn’t originate with the HBO mob drama, but the series turned into the boilerplate for what passes as critically relevant television.
But is this a good thing? The Sopranos opened up what was possible on television. But it also limited it. It seems silly to state that the addition of ambition to the medium has somehow hindered its growth, but making HBO the gold standard against which quality programming is judged has hurt television more than it’s helped it.
HBO isn’t in the business of producing episodes in the traditional manner. Rather, it airs equal slices of an overall story over a fixed series of weeks. If I may put words into his mouth: HBO doesn’t air episodes of television, it airs installments.
Here’s the problem: A television show is not a novel. That’s not to put one above the other. It’s simply meant to illuminate that each piece of art has to accomplish different things. HBO’s apparent lack of awareness of this difference has filtered into its product, and also filtered into the product of nearly every other network as well.
Food for thought – read McGee’s full article here.
I would totes watch this…
These are so fucking good. Graphic artist Albert Exergian has created a series of minimalistic posters for some of television’s most popular shows. Scope them out below.
If you dig them as much as me, you can purchase some of the posters here.
[via /Film ]
Sticking to the theme of the post below, the always brilliant Emily Nussbaum has a nice piece in the latest issue of New York Magazine that I just had to highlight. Her article, When TV Became Art, catalogues the rise of complex, issue-based, hard-hitting TV narrative in our culutral realm. As a fan of The Soprano’s, The Wire, Mad Men et al, this makes for a great read:
As the sixties are to music and the seventies to movies, the aughts—which produced the best and worst shows in history—were to TV. It was a period of exhilarating craftsmanship and formal experimentation, accompanied by spurts of anxious grandiosity…a new generation of prickly, idiosyncratic, egotistical TV auteurs were starting to shove up against the limits of their medium, stripping apart genres like the sitcom and the cop show, developing iconic roles for actors…On pay channels, especially HBO, it was a genuine renaissance: Show-runners like David Chase and Alan Ball and David Milch and Michael Patrick King (and his Sex and the City writers) reveled in cable’s freedom, exploring adult themes in shocking, sometimes difficult ways.
Nussbaum goes on to pose an interesting argument for the future delivery of TV entertainment, and suggests that “[TV show] creators might sell directly to fans, enabling indie TV to bloom on the Internet.”
Read the full article here.
HBO’s The Wire has been hailed as one of the greatest television series ever made – and for good reason. For those of you that love the series or who missed the boat and want to join the conversation, then watch this! Skillz has condensed five seasons of complex narrative structure and subject matter into a five minute rap that summarises the entire show. It is dope-a-licious! Crank it and enjoy.
Spolier Alert: if you haven’t yet watched season 1 – 5 of The Wire, be warned this clip contains plot spoilers!
Some Hollywood execs are so concerned about the future of storytelling that they have enlisted the help of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MIT’s Media Laboratory has created the Centre for Future Storytelling which aims to determine whether the old way of telling stories – particularly those on the big screen delivered with a beginning, a middle and an end - is in trouble. As an interesting article in the New York Times reports:
Hollywood’s ability to tell a meaningful story has been nibbled at by text messages, interrupted by cellphone calls and supplanted by everything from Twitter to Guitar Hero…traditional narrative — the kind with unexpected twists and satisfying conclusions — has been drowned out by noise and visual clutter.
A common gripe is that gamelike, open-ended series like “Pirates of the Caribbean” or “Spider-Man” have eroded filmmakers’ ability to wrap up their movies in the third act. Another is that a preference for proven, outside stories like the Harry Potter books is killing Hollywood’s appetite for original storytelling.
This article got me thinking.
If Hollywood storytelling is in danger, we are arguably seeing an opposing trend in television narrative. Thanks to innovative TV shows like The Sopranos, The Wire and Damages – which demand audience attention - there has been an increase in complex narrative structure and subject matter. This is intriguing, because while our culture values convenience and speed – watching a television series takes up a lot of time (a typical TV drama series is 13 episodes long).
Nowadays, with widespread access to multiple media streams, audiences like to watch/listen to stories on their own terms. Perhaps the quality of television narrative has been preserved because it has adapted to audience needs through innovations like TiVo and the DVD – while Hollywood’s delivery method has remained largely the same?
Read the full New York Times article here.