5 Reasons Why James Corden is the Best Late Night Talk Show Host

james-corden-late-late-show

james-corden-late-late-show

There’s a new reason to watch late night TV and his name is James Corden. Ever since he started hosting “The Late Late Show” on CBS in March 2015, Corden has been winning over fans, viewers and TV critics at record rates. But what exactly has made Corden so popular? Here are just five of the reasons why James Corden is the best late night talk show host.

Reason #1: He created “Carpool Karaoke”

This reason alone would be enough to catapult Corden to the top of all late night talk show hosts. This segment of the show has easily become one of the most popular on late night TV – in it, Corden drives around Los Angeles with famous singers and other celebrities, who perform while being stuck in everyday traffic.

It’s a concept that Corden first dreamed up when he was back in London – back then, he was driving around West London with George Michael and the idea came to him that fans wanted to see famous performing artists singing in their cars, just like they might do on the morning or evening commute.

That eventually led to a whole slew of viral YouTube hits from “Carpool Karaoke,” including the huge viral YouTube video with Adele, one of the biggest hits of 2016. That video racked up 42 million views in just 5 days, and now has over 142 million views. And just check out some of the other singers that Corden has driven around with: Adele, Madonna, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Iggy Azalea, Sia, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez and Selena Gomez. And, oh yes, First Lady Michelle Obama also drove around with James Corden.

james-corden-carpool-karaoke

Reason #2: He’s comic royalty

If you Google “James Corden,” you might notice three little letters next to his name – OBE. Those letters stand for “Officer of the Order of the British Empire.” That’s right – he’s basically comic royalty with a distinguished and popular history as a British comedian, TV actor and stage actor. He received the OBE for his “services to drama” from Princess Anne at Buckingham Palace in June 2015.

That award comes after a number of notable comic performances before his “Late Late Show” hosting job. He starred for nearly three years as Smithy in the BBC sitcom “Gavin and Stacey” (2007-2010), and picked up a BAFTA TV award for it in the category of “Best Comedy Performance.”

Reason #3: He’s a comic genius

In addition to “Carpool Karaoke,” the “Late Late Show” is filled with hilarious recurring segments, including “Drop the Mic” (in which Corden trades insults with guests in a rap battle), “Take a Break” (where Corden takes a random job for a day), “Crosswalk the Musical,” “Celebrity Noses” (an ongoing gag in which Corden promises a segment on noses), and “Spill Your Guts Or Fill Your Guts.”

On YouTube, his videos are the most popular among all late night comics. In fact, more than 165 segments from Corden have racked up more than 1 million views. That’s hard to do on YouTube just once, try doing it 165 times!

Corden has said in the past that he’s not a traditional standup comic, but that he’s got plenty of comic material. That’s what all those recurring segments are about – a way of tapping into his remarkable comic genius. Take that Adele viral video from “Carpool Karaoke” – Corden gets Adele to start rapping Nicki Minaj’s “Monster” while driving around London. It’s just too good and completely unexpected. And it’s the reason why Rolling Stone recently called Corden “late night TV’s king of celebrity sing-alongs.”

james-corden-cher

Reason #4: He’s the most versatile performer on late night TV

Corden is an actor, writer, producer, comedian, TV host and singer. He has won a Tony Award (for his role in “One Man, Two Guvnors”). He has co-written a blockbuster British sitcom, starred in indie films, and shown remarkable range in everything that he does. In short, he’s the ultimate performer and host, and that helps him connect on a very personal level with some of the biggest stars in the entertainment industry.

Did you know that Corden also hosted the 70th Tony Awards at the Beacon Theater in New York back in June 2016? For that hosting performance, he attracted rave reviews, and now all signs are pointing to future hosting gigs in the future. He actually has a stage background from his days in London, and it’s clear that he has a real feel for how to work a live audience based on his stage acting experience.

In terms of Hollywood films, he hasn’t yet had his breakout moment, but that’s OK. Has Jimmy Fallon or Stephen Colbert ever been in a hugely successful Hollywood film? But Corden has shown a unique talent for funny voices. In the 2010 film “Animals United,” he voiced the role of Billy the Meerkat. In the 2016 film “Trolls,” he voiced the role of Biggie. And in the upcoming 2018 film “Peter Rabbit,” he will voice the role of Peter Rabbit.

And, to top it all off, he’s also a great singer – he actually sang in the UK #1 single “Shout,” which became the theme song of the British team for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. And his love for music shows up in the way he interacts with his house band (“Karen”), led by Reggie Watts.

Reason #5: He’s British without being too British

Generally speaking, British comic superstars have a lot harder time crossing over to American superstardom than the other way around. But Corden is someone who is delightfully British. When people think of British comedy, they typically think of Old School classics like Benny Hill or Monty Python. In terms of newer British comedic talent, they might think of Rowan Atkinson (“Mr. Bean”), but how many other British comics can you name? And how many actually appear on American TV?

But Corden is funny without being stuffy or pretentious. And he definitely brings something fresh and unique to the late night comedy scene. Some of his recent “Late Late night” comic riffs have included “So, Sweden is the Best Place Ever” and “No More Sex in Ubers.”

There are so many gifted comics on late night TV, but clearly the best of them is James Corden. He has created some of the funniest segments on late night TV, and he’s done it in a way that continues to win over fans at record clips on YouTube.

You may know him best for “Carpool Karaoke,” but in 2017, expect him to really break out and become an even bigger household name. There’s a reason why “The Late Late Show” picked up 4 Emmy nominations in its first full year – it’s just the best late night show on TV, and it has the best late show host in James Corden.

james-corden-talk-show-host

Share!
Categories tv

The Buzz Over “The Crown” on Netflix

the-crown-netflix

the-crown-netflix

It looks like Netflix has done it again – creating a crowd-pleasing dramatic series that everyone’s buzzing about. This time it’s “The Crown,” a 10-episode series about the life of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II that launched in its entirety on November 4. Given the fact that Netflix practically invented the whole binge-watching TV phenomenon, it won’t be a surprise if many viewers try to cram in all 10 episodes as quickly as they can to learn about the British royalty in the middle of the twentieth century.

The initial reviews – both critical and popular – have been fantastically enthusiastic, to say the least. On IMDb, this dramatic biopic has a nearly perfect score of 9.0/10, in addition to an 81% score on Metacritics. The consensus opinion appears to be that this series – at £100 million, the most expensive one Netflix has ever produced – is as gloriously highbrow as possible, without going over the line. But, what exactly, has led to this phenomenal buzz?

Factor #1: America’s love affair with the British monarchy

At its heart, “The Crown” is a story about the British monarchy in the middle of the 20th century. Season 1, Episode 1 starts off in the year 1947, when the young Queen Elizabeth II (played by Claire Foy) is just getting married to the impossibly stylish and dashing Philip Mountbatten. The first 10 episodes cover the period 1947-1955, and the plan is for a total of 6 seasons and a total of 60 episodes, bringing us all the way up to the current day.

For many Americans, this story of post-war Britain is largely unfamiliar. It is not the story of Britain as a colossal empire, so much as it is a story of a stuffy, class-centric society being pulled into the modern era where titles and nobility matter less than raw talent, ambition and glamour. This, remember, is the Britain that gave us Prince Charles, the son of Queen Elizabeth II, and the remarkable Princess Diana. So think of “The Crown” as a quick primer of the Britain that these two would eventually inherit.

the-crown-matt-smith

Factor #2: Big-budget acting and production values

Critics have almost unanimously praised every aspect of “The Crown” – including the writing, the direction, the cinematography, the production values, and, oh yes, the acting. This may be the most expensive Netflix dramatic series ever commissioned, but it’s well worth it. Everything about the series is simply sublime.

The creator and director of “The Crown” is Peter Morgan, who also wrote the screenplay for the 2006 film “The Queen.” If there’s anyone who knows how to show us the full pomp and glory of London, or the beautiful richness of the English countryside, it is Morgan. Although some have noted that the pace of action might be a bit on the slow side, it’s hard to argue with so many impressively acted roles. Of particular note are John Lithgow as Winston Churchill (talk about big shoes to fill!) and Claire Foy as Elizabeth II.

Factor #3: The story of the queen as a young woman

When it comes to the British royals, we’re much more infatuated with the youngest, most glamorous royals than we are with senior statesmen in their fading years. So it’s obviously going to start “The Crown” off with a lot of momentum when the show starts with the first great post-war royal wedding between Elizabeth and Prince Philip (played by Matt Smith) in 1951.

What we learn over the ensuing nine episodes of Season 1 is how the young queen, who ascended to the throne at age 25 after the death of her father, came to learn about the trappings of power in mid-century Britain. And that’s when the palace intrigues, political maneuvering and court rivalries begin to bloom. Think of it as a happy medium between “Downton Abbey” and “Game of Thrones.” As far as “coming of age” stories go, this one is fantastic. Watch for the story of Princess Margaret as it starts early in Season 1.

the-crown-queen-elizabeth

Factor #4: The mix of international events for dramatic tension

For many Americans, it’s almost impossible to conceive what it was like to live in Britain in the post-war era. After Nazi Germany threatened to bomb London out of existence in the 1940s, you can just imagine what it was like to live in that era, when nothing of the traditional British empire seemed to matter anymore. All of a sudden, Britain’s influence on the continent was in doubt, the far-flung imperial possessions were slipping out of its control, and a young upstart – America – was becoming the new center of the world.

The Crown” interjects a bit of global intrigue into each episode, showing how international events happening around the globe – whether it is intrigue over the fate of the Suez Canal in Egypt or the Soviet Union exploding the world’s first hydrogen bomb – also helped to shape British society at the time. We learn, too, that Elizabeth II first found out about the death of father while on safari in Kenya.

Factor #5: It’s the ultimate guilty pleasure

Let’s face it – “The Crown” is the ultimate guilty pleasure. It offers everything that we want in a TV series – plenty of gorgeously shot scenes of castles and windswept lawns, lots of great acting and a plot that’s not so mindless that we lose interest but not so complex that it’s hard to keep up. It’s TV that we can watch at night without feeling guilty that, maybe, just maybe, we should be doing something else.

And it does so by wrapping it up in an entertainment package that’s delightfully highbrow and ambitious, but not so much so that we feel a bit stuffy watching it. Learning about the history of the mid-century British monarchy with lots of beautiful actresses and lavishly shot scenes is somehow a very enjoyable way to pass an evening.

In short, “The Crown” might just be the 10 best hours of TV you’re going to watch this holiday season. It’s easy to see why critics are raving about it, and why fans of “The Crown” are buzzing about it.

the-crown-buzz

Share!

Disney Creates An Instant Classic With “Moana”

moana-movie-review

moana-movie-review

Just as Disney’s “Frozen” captivated audiences of millions of kids, it looks like “Moana” will follow as the next great Disney tale of a young princess. When it movie screens during Thanksgiving weekend, the film immediately beat all previous box office records set by “Frozen.” So one thing is clear – the idol of many young girls around the world his holiday season will be Moana, the young Polynesian heroine (voiced by Auli’i Cravalho).

Taking a big picture view, there’s a lot about “Moana” that should remind you of “Frozen.” For one, there’s the young princess-like figure who must embark on a quest. Only this quest takes place somewhere in mythical Polynesia, whereas “Frozen” was based in a Scandinavia-like country of ice and snow. But the basic element – of awakening to one’s future destiny – is truly timely.

The basic plot of “Moana” is basically a heroic quest story that is inspired by a Polynesian legend. According to this legend, it is someone’s fate to restore the stolen heart of Te Fiti, goddess of creation. This heart was stolen nearly 1,000 years ago by the demigod Maui.

And that’s where things get interesting because Maui (voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) may boast many of the external features of a demigod – a larger-than-life presence, imposing tattoos, and a muscular physique – but he has lost many of his former powers, rendering him more human.

The film “Moana” picks up on this aspect, turning a quest movie into something more – the story of a friendship between a girl and a man, both of them bound together on an epic quest. It’s the universal themes throughout the film that really give the film a big, epic feel to it. This is not a small Polynesian tale – it is a global, epic ale covering many of the features and attributes that define humanity.

Chief among these traits is the ability to find one’s self. For a young princess heroine, it means coming to grips with her destiny. From a young age, she had been told to avoid the sea and to find her destiny elsewhere. But there is something irresistible about the sea that calls out to Moana, beckoning her to challenge herself. Aided by her grandmother, she realizes that she must venture out on the sea and save her family and community.

moana-disney-musical

Another trait that the film contemplates is the nature of true heroism. Is being a hero merely challenging a demigod or other mythical creature? Or does it also include challenging the doubts that we hold within ourselves. This being a Disney film, it’s easy to guess what the right answer is.

And, that quite possibly, is why this film will become iconic for so many young girls. Although the blue princess outfit of Elsa will remain a staple in any young girl’s wardrobe, don’t be surprised if you start to see the faces of Moana and Maui emblazoned on a wide array of Disney products going forward.

There is one more element of the film that will make it irresistible to so many audiences, and that’s the music. By now, you’ve probably heard that the feel-good music is courtesy of “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, a rising superstar in the entertainment world. While the movie soundtrack may not boast a favorite song of quite the epic scale of Frozen’s “Let It Go,” this soundtrack may be more engaging when viewed as an overall collection of songs.

And, finally, there’s the larger-than-life figure of Maui. In many ways, the cartoon animated version of Maui bears a striking resemblance to the real-world figure of The Rock. But Disney does more than turn Maui into a hulking action figure. He’s imbued with a number of traits that hint at his inner vulnerability. Moreover, there are some endearing moments in the film – such as when he stops mid-battle to readjust his “man bun” – that help to define his character.

moana-the-rock

What Disney has done so charmingly is avoid yet another formulaic princess film. It would have been easy to just go ahead with another “Frozen” clone and count all the guaranteed box office receipts. But Disney went one step further and actually came up with a film that even adults will enjoy.

There are a number of reasons why the audience will likely be so universal. One, as noted above, are all the timely themes embedded within the film. But the other may be the action sequences – even if animated – that are easily the rival of any found in “Frozen.”

Whether this is a big step forward for a new, multicultural Disney is an issue that entertainment critics will likely debate. That means not only rethinking the characters who will act in these animated features, but also the values, ideals and legends that they will embrace.

Take “Frozen,” for example. That was a film loosely based on a famous tale by Hans Christian Andersen and one that took place within a definitely European milieu. Elsa herself was a thin, blonde princess with a gorgeous outfit.

Now, contrast that with Moana. You have a film based on a Polynesian legend and one that takes place in a very non-Western (but not anti-Western) milieu.

And there’s another reason why audiences are buzzing about Moana. She is, truly, a multiethnic heroine more so than any Disney heroine in recent memory.

The heroine Moana – voiced by newcomer Auli’i Cravalho – does not look like we might expect a Disney princess to look. As some critics have pointed out, the limbs are thicker, the waist is rounder and the skin complexion is darker. Moana’s diversity helps to differentiate this Disney film, but it does not define it. For young children, the focus will be on Moana as Moana, and can and will provide a positive role model to young girls who aren’t just white and thin. And the story plotline – the epic quest – is one that is timeless around the globe.

For now, it looks like Disney has yet another mega-hit on its hands. Kids and parents must now be wondering just one single question: When is the sequel to “Moana” going to come out?

Share!

What Fans Thought of “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life”

gilmore-girls-revival

gilmore-girls-revival
A decade after the original “Gilmore Girls” series aired on TV, it was almost inevitable that the new web TV series streaming on Netflix – “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” – was bound to please some fans but disappoint others. Beware — major spoiler alerts ahead!

Let’s face it – we all had hopes and expectations for what was going to happen to the three Gilmore girls: Rory (Alexis Bledel), Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Emily (Kelly Bishop). Some wanted a continuation of the same story line and the same narrative, without any of them actually growing any older or wiser. But something was bound to happen in the intervening decade.

Here are a few of the plot lines that fans were watching carefully when “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” debuted on November 25.

Rory’s career

gilmore-girls-revival-rory-career

The biggest development, of course, was what was going to happen to Rory. When we last saw her, she was a 22-year-old freelance writer starting out in the world. Fans were split on what they thought was going to happen to her. Either she was going to make it really big – something that her mother Lorelai and the whole Gilmore family wanted to happen – or she was going to be caught up in the family’s secrets and misfortunes, and something was going to happen to her and prevent her from realizing her future ambitions.

And, indeed, what we found out after the special four-part series is that Rory at age 32 was very much the Rory of 22. She was still floundering somewhat in her career. Yes, she had some good clips and some good bylines, but she was never quite able to make everything turn out successfully. She was still looking for writing assignments, and not really making enough money to live on her own. For fans who thought she was going to become the famous editor of a big-time magazine or newspaper, this was obviously something they didn’t expect.

Rory’s romantic interests

gilmore-girls-revival-logan

If fans were a bit let down by how Rory’s career progressed in the intervening decade, you should see how they responded to the development of her romantic life. Fans were split in hoping for #TeamJess, #TeamLogan, or #TeamDean for the revival, and all three of Rory’s old love interests appeared in the revival, even if not in the way fans expected.

Rory had a weird, “no strings attached” relationship with Logan in all four revival episodes, even though Logan had a fiancée and Rory had a two-year relationship with some guy named Paul who served as the butt of many jokes. The revival characterizes Rory and Logan as people with very little concern for who they hurt in their lives. It was as if Rory’s romantic life had followed the same trajectory as her professional career – never quite achieving the goals everyone hoped for.

The role of Luke Danes as Rory’s stepdad

gilmore-girls-revival-luke-lorelai

There was always some question as to how Luke Danes (played by Scott Patterson) was going to turn out as the love interest of Lorelai and the stepfather of Rory. It turns out that Luke became a proud father, someone who accepted his new role and his new daughter. This was something that fans of “Gilmore Girls” enjoyed seeing.

The future of Stars Hollow

gilmore-girls-revival-emily

For fans who weren’t following the trajectory of Rory, one key item of interest was how life progressed in Stars Hollow, the community in Connecticut where the Gilmore family lives. Would it change radically, or would it continue much as it had, over the past decade?

The show’s writer and executive producer, Amy Sherman-Palladino, knew that fans wanted to see a glimpse of the new Stars Hollow of 2016, and she didn’t disappoint. She gave glimpses of Luke and Lorelai’s home life, letting fans see how the two were living.

There were plenty of other scenes – like one featuring a “secret bar” and one featuring a pool hangout scene – that let people see how things were moving along in Stars Hollow.

There were also plenty of scenes letting people see how some of the show’s other characters were faring as well. Michel, for example, was revealed as canonically gay, and Sookie (Melissa McCarthy) ended up leaving the Dragonfly Inn altogether. There was also time spent paying regards to Edward Herrmann (who played Richard Gilmore), who had passed away in 2014 after the series went off the air. Emily Gilmore transformed tremendously after Richard’s death and  fans enjoyed seeing how Emily recreated herself as a widow.

Those Last Four Words

gilmore-girls-revival-pregnant

But if there was one really divisive issue, it was the final four words of the series. Amy Sherman-Palladino had always told fans that she had “four words” that she had wanted her characters to say in the final episode of “Gilmore Girls.” She never had that chance back in 2007, but everyone knew that she planned to have the characters say those four words this year.

And – plot spoiler alert! – this is what happened…. In the final scene of the series, Rory turns to her mom Lorelai and tells her that she’s pregnant. And then the show just ended, leaving fans to make up their minds about what just happened.

This ending was controversial on so many levels. First of all, it made fans upset – this was what happened to Rory – she was single, pregnant, and largely unsuccessful in life? And then it made fans re-think everything they thought they knew about the show. If Amy Sherman-Palladino had intended Rory to say “Mom, I’m pregnant” ten years ago – what did it mean? Was there a difference between Rory getting pregnant at 22 and at 32? And did it matter that we didn’t even know who the father was?

There was also a sense of being let down. Hadn’t all the sacrifices in people’s lives been made to ensure the very best for Rory? Did it mean that life just wasn’t meant to be, and that Rory would be forced to repeat some of the mistakes of her mother?

Due to all this debate about what actually happened in “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life,” it’s perhaps no surprise that the ratings for Netflix have been phenomenal. In fact, Netflix rarely releases ratings for its shows, but it made an exception in this case. The first installment of the series drew 5.99 million viewers in the 18-to-49 demographic, and all 4 shows in the series averaged 4.97 million viewers.

For Netflix, it was a real success. “Gilmore Girls” was such a beloved TV series when it ran on network TV (2000-2007) that it was almost inevitable that the new show wouldn’t be able to please everyone. By now, of course, the nearly 6 million fans who have streamed the show on Netflix are probably already thinking of how the next installment – if there is one – will go.

Share!
Categories tv

Will Netflix launch Star Wars: The Old Republic?

star-wars-the-old-republic

star-wars-the-old-republic

The Force Awakens has created fresh excitement over the Star Wars universe, among both diehard fans and casual movie goers; the Star Wars series has entertained fans for generations, and it has clearly stood the test of time. The Force Awakens was testimony to this fictional universe’s ability to enthrall its audience with stories that do not necessarily involve the Skywalker family, and The Rogue One will be another addition in this direction. This is also the reason why MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic was such a huge hit among gamers when it was released in 2011. If you’re one of those fans, then hold on tight: you might be able to enjoy The Old Republic universe in binge-watching mode on Netflix.

A petition is making the rounds on Change.org, wherein a small but growing number of fans have petitioned for Netflix to develop a TV series based on the fictional universe in The Old Republic game. The game’s setting is roughly 3600 years before the Battle of Yavin, and it proved to be absolutely delightful, both because of its gameplay as well as its storyline. Players could join either the Republic or the Sith, and now, the gamers have another reason to rejoice: an expansion pack for the game is set to be released this month, called Knights of the Eternal Throne.

With the sudden interest of Star Wars reboots in the media, hardcore fans want Netflix to produce an in-house series of its own.

But why Netflix?

star-wars-the-old-republic-netflix

Netflix has delivered some of the most successful original TV shows in recent years, such as House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and Narcos. Further, Netflix’s take on the Marvel universe has been particularly laudable, so the fans have no doubts that Netflix would deliver a masterpiece featuring the Star Wars universe. Another reason why Netflix draws so much attention is that it does not shy away from experimenting and being bold with whatever it does. Since the beginning, everything Star Wars has always been kid centered – the movies, the games, the novels, etc. Fans know that whatever comes out of Netflix factory will be targeting the mature audience; the show would be dark and appeal to the adults who have long been traded off for the sake of younger audiences.

The petition claims that Netflix would enjoy producing the show as much as the fans would enjoy watching it, since the timeline of the Old Republic is a very crucial point in Star Wars history. Everything changed in this era: The Jedi Civil War, Revan journeying into the dark side, the First Purge, the omnipresent and highly influential darkness, and so much more happened at this point in history. Watching these moments on television would be a splendid proposal for Star Wars fans.

It comes as no surprise that the petition has already gathered more than 120,000 signatures, well past their goal of 35,000 signatures. This is enough to convey to Netflix that they need not worry about the size of the audience for the show, if it ever decides to produce it. The fan base is already ready and awaiting the release of the show.

However, when Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 for over $4 billion, it most probably had plans in place to cash in on its purchase. This means that Disney already has years’ worth of plans on what to do with Lucasfilm’s characters. Whether Disney would be able to accommodate the “new request” from the fans in its vision for Star Wars is not clear. That being said, a show based on the Star Wars universe was discussed with ABC and Lucasfilm a while ago, although the network had indicated that it won’t be happening anytime soon. Perhaps, this petition will give Disney the right kind of push that it needs to make the show happen.

Even for Netflix, this will not be a sudden development; the streaming sevice already has a deal with Disney that includes producing content from Lucasfilm. Perhaps the petition will convince Disney to consider the possibility of show; however, at the moment, it is understandably preoccupied with the upcoming Rogue One, set to hit theaters December 16. Following the success of the movie, which is guaranteed anyway, Disney and Netflix might find the “fan proposal” just the right thing to work on. You never know.

star-wars-rogue-one

Share!

Pin It on Pinterest