Tagged with "movies"
Colors - Classic Movies and TV Tags: colors classic movies tv word life prpduction new qulaity entertainment featured blog

Colors is a 1988 American police procedural crime film starring Sean Penn and Robert Duvall, and directed by Dennis Hopper. The story takes place in South Central, North West and East Los Angeles, and centers on Bob Hodges (Duvall), an experienced Los Angeles Police Department CRASH Police Officer III, and his rookie partner, Danny McGavin (Penn), who try to stop the gang violence between the Bloods, the Crips, and Hispanic street gangs. Colors relaunched Hopper as a director 18 years after Easy Rider, and inspired discussion over its depiction of gang life and gang violence.

Two white cops, Bob "Uncle Bob" Hodges (Robert Duvall) a respected, 19-year LAPD veteran and rookie officer Danny "Pacman" McGavin (Sean Penn) have just been teamed together in the C.R.A.S.H. unit that patrols East L.A.

The older cop is appreciated on the local streets. He is diplomatic on the surface, preaching "rapport" to gang members to encourage them to offer help when it is truly needed and recognizes that every action cops take is scrutinized by the very people they are trying to help. Hodges explains his view on proceduring to his young partner with a joke about bulls and cows. Although the pair bond quickly, life lessons are seemingly lost on the aggressive, cavalier McGavin, whose stunted actions soon bring him quick notoriety with the local gang members and the people themselves.

McGavin also has a short lived romance with a waitress named Louisa (María Conchita Alonso) who, like the offended Hodges, feels the weight of the Pacman persona. Amidst the strains of these relationships, the murder of a Bloods gang member leads to a series of escalations between two other street gangs. A relentless intertwining of seemingly random incidents culminates in a plot that finds the two partners in the middle of the Crips, Bloods and Hispanic Barrio war. The Hispanic gang led by a criminal named Frog, attempts to negotiate a peace similar to Hodges and steer clear of the melee. To protect his partner, Hodges unwittingly exposes Frog as his source on the Crips leader Rocket (Don Cheadle) with his scheme to kill McGavin. Each group attempts to right the wrongs against their respective crews as police work to prevent the hit and stand their authority over the fall out.

In the end, the unit moves in on the would-be last crew standing - the Hispanic gang. While arresting Frog, Hodges is mortally shot by a gunman trying to enact the hit on McGavin. With medics en route, McGavin comforts Hodges and breaks down with regret as the elder partner falls into delirium and dies.

Sometime later, a more conservative McGavin has a rookie partner, a black cop who grew up in the neighborhood where they patrol and sports an attitude similar to the "Pacman". McGavin tells him the joke about the bulls that Hodges taught him and he reciprocates the advice just the same as he did. The film ends with McGavin considering the cycle as the pair drive on and continue their patrol.

The movie was filmed entirely in Los Angeles in 1987. The original script by Richard Di Lello took place in Chicago and was more about drug dealing than gang members. Dennis Hopper ordered changes, so Michael Schiffer was hired and the setting was changed to Los Angeles and the focus of the story became more about the world of gang members.

Real gang members were hired as guardians as well as actors by producer Robert H. Solo. Two of them were shot during filming.

On April 2, 1987, Sean Penn was arrested for punching an extra on the set of this film who was taking photos of Penn without permission. Penn was sentenced to 33 days in jail for this assault. A soundtrack containing mainly hip-hop music was released on April 15, 1988, by Warner Bros. Records. It peaked at 31 on the Billboard 200 and was certified gold on July 12, 1988.

Source: Wikipedia

The Inkwell - Classic Movies and Television Tags: inkwell classic movies television wordlife production new quality entertainment featured blog

The Inkwell is a 1994 romantic comedy/drama film, directed by Matty Rich. This movie stars Larenz Tate, Joe Morton, Suzzanne Douglass, Glynn Turman, and Vanessa Bell Calloway. The Inkwell is about a 16-year-old boy coming of age on Martha's Vineyard in the summer of 1976.

Set in the summer of 1976, the movie follows the adventures of Drew Tate (Larenz Tate), a shy 16-year-old from upstate New York, when he and his family spend two weeks with affluent relatives on Martha's Vineyard. Drew's parents, Kenny (Joe Morton) and Brenda (Suzzanne Douglass), worry that their son is emotionally disturbed. His favorite companion is a doll, in which he names Iago (after the character in the Shakespeare classic Othello), with which he engages in animated conversations. They also fear that a fire he accidentally set in the family garage foreshadows a future as an arsonist.

On Martha's Vineyard, Drew is thrown into an affluent, party-loving black society that congregates on a beach known as the Inkwell. The visit is also the occasion of some bitter family strife. Drew's Aunt Francis (Vanessa Bell Calloway) and her husband, Spencer (Glynn Turman), are conservatives whose walls are plastered with pictures of Republican dignitaries such as Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan (who they keep saying will become President someday). Kenny, a former Black Panther, and Spencer argue furiously about racial issues.

The Inkwell follows Drew's bumbling pursuit of the insufferably snooty Lauren (Jada Pinkett Smith). He also befriends Heather (Adrienne-Joi Johnson), a young woman whose husband, Harold (Morris Chestnut), is a faithless louse. The movie comes to an end on the Fourth of July, when the Bicentennial fireworks end up symbolizing not just America's 200th birthday but Drew finally losing his virginity with Heather.

The film is notable for featuring several cast members from the popular sitcom A Different World.

For the 20th anniversary of the film, the cast reunited with Essence where Larenz Tate spoke about the casting process. He told the magazine "Matty Rich was holding auditions in LA. Jada [Pinkett Smith] was already cast in the role [as Lauren] and I remember her calling me, saying, ‘You got to do this movie!’ In fact, she was saying, ‘Listen, let’s meet up and rehearse because they are going to want me to read with you, so let’s rehearse, so you totally land it!’ I told her, ‘I’m going to rip that role! No need to rehearse, you just keep up with me and we just play off each other.’ She says. ‘I got you, let’s do it!’ I go in the audition and we really just lit up the room, then I had to audition solo. They didn’t know what to expect considering I just did Menace II Society playing O-Dawg, a completely street person. So that impressed them and they offered me the part."

Source: Wikipedia

Tales from the Hood - Classic Television & Movies Tags: tales hood classic tv movies word life production new quality entertainment featured blog

Tales From the Hood is a 1995 horror anthology film directed by Rusty Cundieff, and executive produced by Spike Lee. The film presents four short African American-themed horror stories, presented within a frame story of three drug dealers buying some "found" drugs from an eccentric and story-prone funeral director.In South Central, Los Angeles, a trio gang of drug dealers, Stack (Joe Torry), Ball (De'aundre Bonds) and Bulldog (Samuel Monroe Jr.), arrive at Simms' Funeral Home to purchase some drugs from Mr. Simms (Clarence Williams III), the mortuary's eccentric owner. Mr. Simms claims that he found the drugs in an alley and has them safely stored in the mortuary. He asks the dealers to help him get the drugs and, as the four make their way through the building, relates stories about some of his recent "customers". The first casket contains the body of a man named Clarence.

Rogue Cop Revelation

During his first night on the job, young black police officer Clarence Smith (Anthony Griffith) is taken by his new partner, Newton (Michael Massee), to the scene of what initially appears to be a routine traffic stop of a well-dressed black man. When Clarence runs the car's license plates, he learns that the man is in fact Martin Moorehouse (Tom Wright), a city councilman and black rights activist who has recently been on a crusade against police corruption. Clarence watches in horror as Newton, along with fellow officers Billy (Duane Whitaker) and Strom (Wings Hauser), brutally beat Moorehouse with their nightsticks and vandalize his car. When Clarence insists that Moorehouse should be taken to a hospital, two of the officers appear to agree.

Clarence tells Newton that Billy and Strom should be reported for what they did, but Newton tells Clarence that officers are not to break "the code". Strom and Billy drive Moorehouse' car to the docks. Strom shoots the battered Moorehouse up with heroin, plants some in his car, then pushes it into the water with Moorehouse still inside. Moorehouse is posthumously labeled a hypocrite.

One year later, Clarence has left the police force and is now a guilt-consumed drunk. On a walk in his neighborhood, he sees a mural of Moorehouse. Clarence then has a vision of a crucified Moorehouse haunting him with the words "Bring them to me!" In response, Clarence convinces the three police officers involved in the death to meet him at Moorehouse's grave.

Once there, the officers begin to insult Moorehouse, with Strom urinating on Moorehouse's grave and then ordering Billy to do the same thing. As Newton and Strom prepare to kill Clarence, a zombie-like Moorehouse bursts from the grave to drag Billy beneath the ground by his genitals. Moorehouse's coffin bursts from the ground, opening to reveal Billy's mutilated corpse with Moorehouse clutching Billy's still-beating heart.

Strom and Newton flee in horror. A lengthy chase ensues, with the two cops fleeing by patrol car. As Newton is driving the vehicle, Moorehouse jumps on top of the vehicle and decapitates Strom. Terrified, Newton exits his vehicle. With Moorehouse still on top of the patrol car and carrying Strom's head, Newton shoots the gas tank, causing the patrol car to explode. Moorehouse then chases Newton into an alley, where he telekinetically throws used hypodermic needles into the cop's body, pinning him to a wall mural. After Newton is killed, his body melts into the mural, becoming a painting of himself crucified.

His vengeance nearly complete, Moorehouse accosts Clarence, asking him why he did not help him when he was being beaten. The story ends with Clarence in a mental hospital. Two orderlies outside his cell mention that he killed the officers and that he used to be an officer himself. Moorehouse is never mentioned.

Stack, Ball, and Bulldog think Mr. Simms is crazy after hearing the story. After they look at the second casket, Mr. Simms tells them about a boy named Walter.

Boys Do Get Bruised

Walter Johnson (Brandon Hammond) is a quiet and sensitive boy who shows up to school one day with bruises around his cheek and eye. Walter's caring teacher, Richard Garvy (Rusty Cundieff), notices the bruises and asks what happened; Walter claims that he was attacked by a monster. A few days later he again shows up with a bruised arm. While the other children play, Walter sits inside and draws a boy named Tyrone, one of the school bullies. Walter crumples the drawing up causing Tyrone to suffer spontaneous injuries.

Later that night Mr. Garvy visits Walter's home and asks Walter's mother, Sissy (Paula Jai Parker), about the monster. Sissy claims that Walter's injuries are the result of his own clumsiness; she then tells Walter not to reveal anything about the monster to anyone else.

As Mr. Garvy is leaving, Sissy's boyfriend, Carl (David Alan Grier) comes home: seen through Walter's imagination, the audience learns that Carl in fact is the “monster”. Thinking that Walter has told his teacher about him and called him a monster (a tattoo of the word "Monster" can be seen on Carl's arm), Carl terrorizes Walter and then whips Sissy with a belt when she intervenes.

Mr. Garvy turns around to check on Walter and sees Carl abusing Walter and Sissy: Mr. Garvy bursts into the house and begins to fight Carl. With Carl's attention elsewhere, Walter grabs a drawing he made of the monster and begins to fold and crumple it. Carl becomes mangled, helpless and unable to accept defeat. Sissy stomps on the wadded-up paper to end the threat. Finally Mr. Garvy gives the paper to Walter, who burns it, completely immolating Carl. Sissy and Walter look on as Carl burns alive and appear to be relieved to be free from his brutal abuse.

Later, Carl's burnt and twisted corpse is in the coffin in Simms' Funeral Home. Mr. Simms shows a doll, instead of a corpse, to Ball, Stack, and Bulldog, explaining that it isn't any ordinary doll.

KKK Comeuppance

Duke Metger (Corbin Bernsen) is an obnoxious and racist Southern senator, and a former member of the Ku Klux Klan. The senator is in his office filming a campaign commercial when he sees protesters outside the office: Jewish and African-American groups have teamed up to protest against Duke for being a racist, a former Klansman, and for setting up his office at an old slave plantation. One individual, Eli (Art Evans), tells the reporter that the plantation is haunted by dolls animated by the souls of previously tortured slaves. He warns everyone that it is not a myth.

Meanwhile, Duke and his African-American "image-maker" assistant Rhodie (Roger Guenveur Smith) notice a large painting of Miss Cobbs, a hoodoo witch, and her dolls. Duke says racial slurs to Rhodie, who attempts to ignore his rantings. Duke also refers to the dolls as "Negro dolls." One of the dolls is seen under the floorboard as Rhodie leaves.

While Duke and Rhodie are working on Duke's media skills, Rhodie falls down the stairs to his death (it is later learned that the doll seen under the floorboard earlier was the cause). At the funeral, Eli warns Duke to leave the house before he ends up like his deceased assistant or worse. In the limo after Rhodie's funeral, Duke notices the doll and orders his African-American driver to pull over so he can throw the doll out the window into the street.

Later, after noticing a blank spot on the painting, Duke comes in contact with the doll he threw out on the street and has a fight with it. When Duke throws a vase at the doll, it disappears and attacks Duke out of nowhere, trying to eat him. Duke is injured, but he manages to stop the doll by beating it with an American Flag. He also damages the painting, from which blood pours.

Duke takes the doll outside to his porch and ties it to a dart board. He then blasts the doll with his shotgun and goes back inside to rant at the painting. But in the midst of his rant, Duke realizes more doll images in the painting have faded to white. After Duke begins chasing several small footsteps throughout the house, he finds the previously blasted doll in the hallway, reattaching its head. The doll attacks again and chases Duke into his office. Duke manages to lock the doll outside and tries to figure out a way to help himself. He sees that the painting has all the doll images faded to white. Terrified, Duke turns around to see an army of dolls. He covers himself in the American flag as the dolls converge and devour him. Miss Cobbs then disappears from the painting and manifests herself in the room, holding the first doll in her arms. Satisfied, they both smile as they witness the carnage taking place before them.

By now, the dealers are getting impatient and want the drugs they came for, not wanting to listen to any more of Mr. Simms' strange stories. Ball notices a corpse in another room alerts the others to come and see it. When Simms asks them if they knew the man, Bulldog says it was just someone they had seen around their neighborhood. Mr. Simms explains the final moments of the man known as Crazy K.

Hard-Core Convert

Jerome "Crazy K" Johns (Lamont Bentley) is a violent gang member and homicidal psychopath who has killed many people mercilessly. He is driving down the streets of Los Angeles in his Mustang. Coming to a stoplight, he notices the car of an enemy he's been trying to kill for a long time and follows him. Crazy K parks in a neighborhood and has a brief argument with the enemy, then shoots him. In retaliation, three other men attack from a house nearby. The men shoot Crazy K, and just as they are about to kill him, the police arrive at the scene. Due to one of the shooters firing at the police officers, all three gunmen are shot and killed by the officers. Crazy K is badly injured but survives, only to get arrested and sent to prison.

As described by a prison guard Crazy K has received a life sentence for suspicion of murder three times along with other charges. Dr. Cushing (Rosalind Cash in her final film role before her death) arrives at the prison and transfers Crazy K to another facility, hidden deep underground. Crazy K meets an inmate (Rick Dean) who is a homicidal white supremacist and raves about killing black people and the end of days for blacks, which upsets Crazy K and causes him to punch him in the face. Then the man asks Crazy K the races of the victims he killed, silencing Crazy K because he, in fact, is guilty of killing African-Americans. The man grows fond of Crazy K and he tells him that there will be a few black people who will be spared as long as they think like him. After speaking to the man, Dr. Cushing reveals that she put him there to meet someone who is just like him.

Crazy K is put through a process of torture to have him learn the consequences of his actions. Dr. Cushing tries to make him a new man and help change his violent life of murder. His head (with K printed on the front) is shaved off and he is "clean" if he regrets all his violent actions on other people. Crazy K is put through a slideshow of images involving the KKK and victims of lynching along with gory footage of gang violence and warfare along with a montage showing all those he has killed. Dr. Cushing goes into fact that Crazy K killed many innocent African Americans without remorse or second thought.

Crazy K is put through the next stage, in which he is put in a sensory deprivation chamber. He is confronted by all the souls of his victims and must explain why he killed them. He keeps giving true or false answers until it eventually leads to a young and innocent little girl who had nothing to do with Crazy K; she was killed when a bullet from Crazy K's gun came through her wall and hit her in the chest. Crazy K doesn't accept responsibility. Dr. Cushing warns him that he won't get another chance for forgiveness. The souls haunt him more and more, but Crazy K grows increasingly uncaring of his actions. Having refused a chance for redemption for his sins, he is transported back to the moment when he was shot. Crazy K is brutally shot dead by the three gunmen, and the story ends with his corpse lying abandoned on the street.

Welcome To My Mortuary (ending)

When the last story ends, the three drug dealers are revealed to be Crazy K's killers. They become angry and demand to know how Simms knows of their murder as they threaten to kill him and demand their drugs. Simms leads them deep into the funeral home and tells them their "reward" is in three closed caskets, each of which has their corpses inside. The dealers are terrified to learn that they are dead; at the whim of Simms their guns burn red hot, forcing the dealers to drop them.

Simms explains that after killing Crazy K, some of Crazy K's "boys" killed them in retaliation. Bulldog then asks Simms why they are still alive if they are dead. Simms, growing more eccentric by the second, tells them that they are not in a funeral home, but in Hell. He transforms into Satan, and the walls of the funeral home shatter, revealing the fiery reality of where they had been all along. The drug dealers scream in horror at Simms' transformation into the Devil. Their fate is to burn in eternal damnation along with others, as Satan laughs.

Source: Wikipedia

 

Classic Movies & TV - The Five Heartbeats Tags: classic movies tv five heartbeats word life production featured blog

The Five Heartbeats is a 1991 musical drama film directed by Robert Townsend, who co-wrote the script with Keenan Ivory Wayans. Distributed by 20th Century Fox, the film's main cast includes Townsend, Michael Wright, Leon Robinson, Harry J. Lennix, Tico Wells, Harold Nicholas of the Nicholas Brothers, and Diahann Carroll. The plot of the film (which is loosely based on the lives of several artists: The Dells, The Temptations, Four Tops, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, Frankie Lymon, Sam Cooke and others)follows the three decade career of the R&B vocal group The Five Heartbeats. The film depicts the rise and fall of a Motown inspired soul act through the eyes of the film's main protagonist, Donald "Duck" Matthews (portrayed by Townsend), who serves as a narrator throughout the film. However, a majority of the cinema is presented in a consecutive time line as opposed to traditional flash backs.

The film was released to most North American audiences March 29, 1991 however it was not made available to audiences in other continents until 2002 when a DVD was released prior to another DVD release in 2006 for the film's 15th anniversary. The movie received mixed reviews from critics.

In the early 1990s, Donald "Duck" Matthews browses a Rolling Stone magazine, noticing an article questioning the recent exploits of The Five Heartbeats, The Temptations, and The Four Tops and why the groups disbanded.

In a flashback, Donald Matthews, Anthony "Choir Boy" Stone, J.T. Matthews and Terrence "Dresser" Williams are preparing to perform at a music contest. They are forced to prepare to sing both their vocals and those of other members since Eddie King Jr. and Bobby, the lead singers, are missing. Bobby and Eddie cheat while gambling. Bobby is shot in the leg, but Eddie arrives at the contest and performs with the Heartbeats.

The group loses to Flash and the Ebony Sparks but pleases the crowd and is noticed by music producer Jimmy Potter. Jimmy offers to manage the group; to prove he has their best interests at heart he promises them $100 from his own pocket if they do not win first prize the next month. After a more polished performance the group still loses. Jimmy pays the group, and they sign a contract with him. Jimmy brings in Ernest "Sarge" Johnson as the group's choreographer. After vigorous training Sarge and Jimmy feel the Heartbeats are ready to perform in a larger competition.

Bird, lead singer of Bird and The Midnight Falcons witnesses the Heartbeats rehearsing their routine and is concerned his group could lose; he asks his girlfriend to invite her friends and boo The Heartbeats while cheering The Midnight Falcons. The announcer, Bird's cousin, forces The Heartbeats to use a piano player they are unfamiliar with. He also claims that The Heartbeats believe themselves to be better than the other groups.

The Heartbeats perform "A Heart Is a House for Love". Duck grows frustrated with the house piano player's butchering of the music and takes over the piano. Eddie leads the group in a number that results in Bird's girlfriend fainting in Eddie's arms. Watching in the audience is Flash, leader of the Ebony Sparks. The Heartbeats win the contest with a standing ovation and the interest of Big Red, who owns Big Red Records. Big Red offers them a deal, but Jimmy and his wife Eleanor, aware of Big Red's corrupt operations, decline. The group searches for a record company they can trust, but the only ones that will sign them are Caucasian operated and insist that their songs be covered by a white group named The Five Horsemen, giving the Heartbeats only minor song writing credit, thus forcing them to sign with Big Red.

The group goes on the road. Choir Boy's father is concerned he will forget where he comes from, Dresser has a girl back home, Eddie's father is waiting for him to fail and J.T. and Duck have a family depending on them. The travel is marked by racism and poor living conditions. Dresser's girlfriend visits at the same time as the record rep from Big Red. Dresser finds out his girlfriend is pregnant and they are faced with their first album cover having white people on the cover. Despite their problems, the group becomes successful.

Throughout the mid to late 1960s The Five Heartbeats receive numerous awards, charting several hits, and being featured on magazine covers. Eddie abuses alcohol and cocaine, causing him to miss rehearsals and performances as well as losing his girlfriend. Eddie becomes paranoid and attempts to blackmail the other Heartbeats and Jimmy using his new deal with Big Red, along with buying Jimmy out of his contract. Jimmy threatens to go to authorities with information about bootlegged LPs, cooked books and payola that could have Big Red arrested, leading Red to have Jimmy killed. In the wake of the murder, the group learns that Eddie's deceit was behind the argument between Jimmy and Big Red. The group gets together to talk and includes Bird, whom Red beat up when he questioned his bookkeeping, to put Big Red away. Big Red is convicted of Jimmy's murder and the group moves to a new record label, but, despite Duck's pleas, Eddie leaves the group in disgrace.

The Heartbeats add former rival Flash as their lead singer, which angers J.T. due to their rivalry over women. Duck has gained the attention of Tanya Sawyer, whom he lusted after since meeting her in Jimmy's living room years ago. After their engagement, he suspects she is having an affair. After she leaves the house, he follows her to a hotel. The doorman asks for his autograph and marvels at the fact that he is the second Heartbeat the doorman has seen that night; his brother is already upstairs. Duck realizes Tanya is cheating on him with his brother. As Duck leaves, his fiancee and brother fight. Tanya has been trying to break things off, but he insists that she break things off with Duck. Tanya refuses, insisting she loves Duck. At an awards ceremony celebrating their success, Flash announces he is leaving the group. Duck reveals that he knows about Tanya and J.T., and that he, too, is no longer a Heartbeat.

 

Several years later, Duck receives a letter from Choir Boy, who returned to his father's church. He asks Duck to come to a service. When he enters the church Choir Boy's father is speaking then the choir starts singing and Eddie and Baby Doll step up to sing lead. After the service Duck reunites with Eddie, Choir Boy and Baby Doll. Eddie is clean, sober and married to Baby Doll, and also manages a group. He asks Duck to write songs for them, to which he agrees. He urges Duck to contact J.T. Duck finds J.T. in a park with a wife (an old girlfriend with whom he shared a bathroom sex scene at the beginning of the movie) and two children, including a son affectionately named "Duck". The brothers reconcile.

In the early 1990s, Flash has transitioned from doo wop to pop, as the lead singer of Flash and The Five Horsemen. The Heartbeats are disappointed by the music and aspire to show their families how they performed at the peak of their career. At first Eddie declines to join the other Heartbeats but Eleanor Potter, coming to terms with her husband's death, forgives Eddie.

The Five Heartbeats reunite at the end in front of their families and friends, trying graciously to remember their old moves.

The Five Heartbeats

Robert Townsend as Donald "Duck" Matthews: Duck hails from a poor family. He is The Five Heartbeats' co-founder and brother of fellow Heartbeat's member J.T. Matthews, and originally was only the composer and musician for the group. He is a permanent vocalist after Bobby disappears. He serves as the movie's narrator, with the film beginning as he reminisces about the group's career.

Leon as J.T. Matthews: J.T. is the older brother of Duck.

Michael Wright as Eddie King, Jr. : (Because of a thick southern drawl, this is often heard as Eddie Kane) Eddie comes from an area that features predominantly poor individuals, his own father believing his attempts to start a career in the music industry will be unsuccessful. Similar to David Ruffin, Eddie is the lead vocalist of the band and falls into a life of drugs that eventually leads to his expulsion from the group as well as emotional trauma. Eddie is one of the founding members of The Heartbeats and serves as the crowd pleaser whose voice leads to success in many of their performances.

Tico Wells as Anthony "Choir Boy" Stone: Stone is given the nickname "Choir Boy" (much to his chagrin) for his past as a choir boy in his father's church. Similar to Eddie, Stone's father does not support his decision to become a music artist fearing rock and jazz are "the devil's music."

 Harry J. Lennix as Terrence "Dresser" Williams: The original choreographer of The Heartbeats, Dresser serves as the groups bass singer and one of the founding members. He is replaced by Ernest "Sarge" Johnson as the choreographer after Sarge out-dances Dresser.

 

Other characters

 

Hawthorne James as Big Red Davis: Corrupt owner of the first record label The Five Heartbeats are signed to.

Chuck Patterson as Jimmy Potter: The Heartbeats' manager, Jimmy is responsible for giving the group the opportunity to perform at more publicized events and receive training from Ernest "Sarge" Johnson.

 Diahann Carroll as Eleanor Potter: Jimmy Potter's wife, Eleanor along with her husband are the original supporters of The Five Heartbeats.

 John Canada Terrell as Michael "Flash" Turner: Lead singer of Flash and the Ebony Sparks, the Heartbeats' only competition. When Eddie goes into a downward spiral, Flash is brought in as the new lead singer.

 Roy Fegan as Bird: Bird is the lead singer of Bird and The Midnight Falcons. Early in the film the character attempts to defeat The Five Heartbeats in a vocal contest. After Big Red orchestrates the murder of Jimmy Potter, Bird joins members of the Heartbeats in testifying against Red and helps to convict him of the murder.

 Harold Nicholas of The Nicholas Brothers as Ernest "Sarge" Johnson: Johnson is The Five Heartbeat's choreographer. He choreographs the dance moves for the group. Sarge is last seen in the hospital on his birthday.

Troy Beyer as Baby Doll: Eddie's girlfriend, who leaves him after he abuses drugs and alcohol. She later marries Eddie and they are shown singing together in a choir.

Theresa Randle as Brenda: - Dresser's girlfriend, who later becomes his wife. She and Dresser have a daughter named Monica.

Lamont Johnson as Bobby Cassanova: Bobby and Eddie are the original co-lead singers of the group. Bobby is only seen in the movie's opening scenes when he and Eddie are caught cheating at a high stakes poker game. Bobby gets shot in the leg and is replaced by Eddie as the lead singer.

Carla Brothers as Tanya Sawyer: Tanya and Duck were set to be wed, but Duck's suspicion about Tanya and Choir boy had him follow her to a motel only to find out that his brother J.T. was the one seeing her. This led Duck to estrange himself from the Heartbeats and his Brother for years.

Tressa Thomas as "Duck's Little Sister:" Clara Matthews, Duck's little sister, was also his muse, often helping him compose and arrange songs for the group as they did household chores. She was instrumental in arranging the vocals for "We Haven't Finished Yet".

Other bands

 

Bird and The Midnight Falcons portrayed by actors Roy Fegan, Gregory Alexander, Roger Rose, Jimmy Woodard: The group The Five Heartbeats compete against in their second onscreen performance. The Midnight Falcons attempt to cheat by ordering their girlfriends to deliberately cheer against The Heartbeats.

 Flash and the Ebony Sparks portrayed by John Canada Terrell, Ron Jackson, Recoe Walker and Wayne "Crescendo" Ward: The Ebony Sparks defeat The Five Heartbeats in singing competitions—many of which are rigged—prior to their mainstream popularity. Flash later becomes the lead singer for the Five Heartbeats.

Production

After writing (along with Keenan Ivory Wayans), producing, directing, and starring in his first film Hollywood Shuffle, Robert Townsend had attained near-cult status among independent filmmakers due to his dedication to that film—a project which caused him to max out all his credit cards and spend nearly $100,000 of his own money raised through savings and various acting jobs in order to produce the film. When writing Townsend's first feature-length film The Five Heartbeats, Townsend and Wayans kept comedy an important aspect of the film, but also explored complex characters in a more dramatic way.  After extensive research with R&B singing group The Dells, who were renowned for their four-decade career, Townsend used his film to depict a similar story, following the lives of three friends who aspire to musical stardom. Given the setting of the film, he was able to tie in other elements, such as race relations, as well. Due to the production's budgetary constraints, Townsend used little-known actors of the time, with the exceptions of Leon Robinson, Diahann Carroll and Harold Nicholas of The Nicholas Brothers.

Promotion

To promote the film prior to its release, Townsend, along with the other actors who portrayed the fictional musical quartet The Five Heartbeats (Leon Robinson, Michael Wright, Harry J. Lennix, and Tico Wells) performed in a concert with real-life Soul/R&B vocal group The Dells, one of many groups that inspired the film. The Dells sang and recorded the vocals as the actors lip synced.

Soundtrack

The Five Heartbeats

(Music from the Motion Picture)

Soundtrack album by Various Artists

Released             April 2, 1991

Genre   Pop, Soul

Label     Capitol

A soundtrack for the film was released by Virgin Records, featuring original music by various artists. Both "Nights Like This" and "A Heart Is a House for Love" became top 20 hits on the U.S. Billboard Hot R&B Singles chart. Many of the tracks are credited to fictional characters in the film as opposed to the actual vocalists.

   A Heart Is a House for Love - The Dells

    We Haven't Finished Yet - Patti LaBelle, Tressa Thomas, Billy Valentine

    Nights Like This - After 7

    Bring Back the Days - U.S. Male

    Baby Stop Running Around - Bird & The Midnight Falcons

    In the Middle - Dee Harvey

    Nothing But Love - The Dells with Billy Valentine

    Are You Ready for Me - Dee Harvey

    Stay in My Corner - The Dells

I Feel Like Going On - Andre Crouch (Eddie, Baby Doll and the L.A. Mass Choir)

Reception

The film grossed approximately $8,500,000 after being released in 862 theaters throughout North America. However, despite the film's moderate success, it was not well received by a majority of critics. On Rotten Tomatoes The Five Heartbeats accumulated an average of 38%, although only 16 reviews were counted (6 of which were positive, the remaining 10 negative).

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times commented that:

“at feature length, Townsend shows a real talent, and, not surprisingly, an ability to avoid most cliches, to go for the human truth in his characters...by the end we really care about these guys...There is one obligatory scene showing racial prejudice against the group, and it seems a little tacked on, as if the only purpose of the Southern trip was to justify the scene.     ”

Due to the nature of the film, music montages were often used to progress the plot; critics considered this a major flaw.

The numerous musical performances in the film were highly acclaimed. All Music complimented the Dells' lead singer Marvin Junior (who provided the singing voice for fictional character Eddie King, Jr.) stating that he was "one of the most underrated voices in pop music."Tressa Thomas' performance of "We Haven't Finished Yet," in particular, was given favorable attention by critics. The film received an ASCAP award for Most Performed Songs in a Motion Picture for the song "Nights Like This."

DVD releases

A DVD was released for the film in 2002, a special edition was also released in 2006 for the film's 15th Anniversary which includes additional content.

 

The Simpsons - Classic TV Tags: classic movies television simpsons word life production new quality entertainment word life production featured

The Simpsons is an American adult animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical depiction of a middle class American lifestyle epitomized by its family of the same name, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The show is set in the fictional town of Springfield and parodies American culture, society, television, and many aspects of the human condition.

The family was conceived by Groening shortly before a solicitation for a series of animated shorts with the producer James L. Brooks. Groening created a dysfunctional family and named the characters after members of his own family, substituting Bart for his own name. The shorts became a part of The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987. After a three-season run, the sketch was developed into a half-hour prime time show and was an early hit for Fox, becoming the network's first series to land in the Top 30 ratings in a season (1989–1990).

Since its debut on December 17, 1989, the show has broadcast 551 episodes and the 25th season began on September 30, 2013. The Simpsons is the longest-running American sitcom, the longest-running American animated program, and in 2009 it surpassed Gunsmoke as the longest-running American primetime, scripted television series. The Simpsons Movie, a feature-length film, was released in theaters worldwide on July 26 and 27, 2007, and grossed over $527 million.

The Simpsons is widely considered to be one of the greatest television series of all time. Time magazine's December 31, 1999, issue named it the 20th century's best television series, and on January 14, 2000, the Simpson family was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It has won dozens of awards since it debuted as a series, including 28 Primetime Emmy Awards, 30 Annie Awards and a Peabody Award. Homer's exclamatory catchphrase "D'oh!" has been adopted into the English language, while The Simpsons has influenced many adult-oriented animated sitcoms. TV Guide said that The Simpsons is the greatest cartoon of all time.

When producer James L. Brooks was working on the television variety show The Tracey Ullman Show, he decided to include small animated sketches before and after the commercial breaks. Having seen one of cartoonist Matt Groening's Life in Hell comic strips, Brooks asked Groening to pitch an idea for a series of animated shorts, which Groening initially intended to present as his Life in Hell series. Groening later realized that animating Life in Hell would require the rescinding of publication rights for his life's work. He therefore chose another approach while waiting in the lobby of Brooks's office for the pitch meeting, hurriedly formulating his version of a dysfunctional family that became the Simpsons. He named the characters after his own family members, substituting "Bart" for his own name, adapting an anagram of the word "brat".

The Simpson family first appeared as shorts in The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987. Groening submitted only basic sketches to the animators and assumed that the figures would be cleaned up in production. However, the animators merely re-traced his drawings, which led to the crude appearance of the characters in the initial shorts. The animation was produced domestically at Klasky Csupo, with Wes Archer, David Silverman, and Bill Kopp being animators for the first season. Colorist Gyorgyi Peluce was the person who decided to make the characters yellow.

In 1989, a team of production companies adapted The Simpsons into a half-hour series for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The team included the Klasky Csupo animation house. Brooks negotiated a provision in the contract with the Fox network that prevented Fox from interfering with the show's content. Groening said his goal in creating the show was to offer the audience an alternative to what he called "the mainstream trash" that they were watching. The half-hour series premiered on December 17, 1989, with "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", a Christmas special. "Some Enchanted Evening" was the first full-length episode produced, but it did not broadcast until May 1990, as the last episode of the first season, because of animation problems. In 1992, Tracey Ullman filed a lawsuit against Fox, claiming that her show was the source of the series' success. The suit said she should receive a share of the profits of The Simpsons—a claim rejected by the courts.

Matt Groening and James L. Brooks have served as executive producers during the show's entire history, and also function as creative consultants. Sam Simon, described by former Simpsons director Brad Bird as "the unsung hero" of the show, served as creative supervisor for the first four seasons. He was constantly at odds with Groening, Brooks and the show's production company Gracie Films and left in 1993. Before leaving, he negotiated a deal that sees him receive a share of the profits every year, and an executive producer credit despite not having worked on the show since 1993. A more involved position on the show is the showrunner, who acts as head writer and manages the show's production for an entire season.

Writing

The first team of writers, assembled by Sam Simon, consisted of John Swartzwelder, Jon Vitti, George Meyer, Jeff Martin, Al Jean, Mike Reiss, Jay Kogen and Wallace Wolodarsky. Newer Simpsons' writing teams typically consist of sixteen writers who propose episode ideas at the beginning of each December. The main writer of each episode writes the first draft. Group rewriting sessions develop final scripts by adding or removing jokes, inserting scenes, and calling for re-readings of lines by the show's vocal performers. Until 2004, George Meyer, who had developed the show since the first season, was active in these sessions. According to long-time writer Jon Vitti, Meyer usually invented the best lines in a given episode, even though other writers may receive script credits. Each episode takes six months to produce so the show rarely comments on current events.

Part of the writing staff of The Simpsons in 1992. Back row, left to right: Mike Mendel, Colin ABV Lewis (partial), Jeff Goldstein, Al Jean (partial), Conan O'Brien, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Mike Reiss, Ken Tsumura, George Meyer, John Swartzwelder, Jon Vitti (partial), CJ Gibson and David M. Stern. Front row, left to right: Dee Capelli, Lona Williams, and unknown.

Credited with sixty episodes, John Swartzwelder is the most prolific writer on The Simpsons. One of the best-known former writers is Conan O'Brien, who contributed to several episodes in the early 1990s before replacing David Letterman as host of the talk show Late Night. English comedian Ricky Gervais wrote the episode "Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife", becoming the first celebrity to both write and guest star in an episode. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, writers of the film Superbad, wrote the episode "Homer the Whopper", with Rogen voicing a character in it.

At the end of 2007 the writers of The Simpsons went on strike together with the other members of the Writers Guild of America, East. The show's writers had joined the guild in 1998.

Voice actors

Main articles: List of The Simpsons cast members, List of The Simpsons guest stars and Non-English versions of The Simpsons

The Simpsons has six main cast members: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer. Castellaneta performs Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Krusty the Clown, Barney Gumble and other adult, male characters. Julie Kavner speaks the voices of Marge Simpson and Patty and Selma, as well as several minor characters. Castellaneta and Kavner had been a part of The Tracey Ullman Show cast and were given the parts so that new actors would not be needed. Cartwright performs the voices of Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum and other children. Smith, the voice of Lisa Simpson, is the only cast member who regularly voices only one character, although she occasionally plays other episodic characters. The producers decided to hold casting for the roles of Bart and Lisa. Smith had initially been asked to audition for the role of Bart, but casting director Bonita Pietila believed her voice was too high, so she was given the role of Lisa instead. Cartwright was originally brought in to voice Lisa, but upon arriving at the audition, she found that Lisa was simply described as the "middle child" and at the time did not have much personality. Cartwright became more interested in the role of Bart, who was described as "devious, underachieving, school-hating, irreverent, [and] clever”. Groening let her try out for the part instead, and upon hearing her read, gave her the job on the spot. Cartwright is the only one of the six main Simpsons cast members who had been professionally trained in voice acting prior to working on the show. Azaria and Shearer do not voice members of the title family, but play a majority of the male townspeople. Azaria, who has been a part of the Simpsons regular voice cast since the second season, voices recurring characters such as Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon and Professor Frink. Shearer provides voices for Mr. Burns, Waylon Smithers, Principal Skinner, Ned Flanders, Reverend Lovejoy and Dr. Hibbert. With the exception of Shearer, every main cast member has won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance. However, Shearer was nominated for the award in 2009.

With one exception, episode credits list only the voice actors, and not the characters they voice. Both Fox and the production crew wanted to keep their identities secret during the early seasons and, therefore, closed most of the recording sessions while refusing to publish photos of the recording artists. However, the network eventually revealed which roles each actor performed in the episode "Old Money", because the producers said the voice actors should receive credit for their work. In 2003, the cast appeared in an episode of Inside the Actors Studio, doing live performances of their characters' voices.

Until 1998, the six main actors were paid $30,000 per episode. In 1998 they were involved in a pay dispute with Fox. The company threatened to replace them with new actors, even going as far as preparing for casting of new voices, but series creator Groening supported the actors in their action. The issue was soon resolved and, from 1998 to 2004, they were paid $125,000 per episode. The show's revenue continued to rise through syndication and DVD sales, and in April 2004 the main cast stopped appearing for script readings, demanding they be paid $360,000 per episode. The strike was resolved a month later and their salaries were increased to something between $250,000 and $360,000 per episode. In 2008, production for the twentieth season was put on hold due to new contract negotiations with the voice actors, who wanted a "healthy bump" in salary to an amount close to $500,000 per episode. The negotiations were soon completed, and the actors' salary was raised to $400,000 per episode. Three years later, with Fox threatening to cancel the series unless production costs were cut, the cast members accepted a 30 percent pay cut, down to just over $300,000 per episode.

In addition to the main cast, Pamela Hayden, Tress MacNeille, Marcia Wallace, Maggie Roswell, and Russi Taylor voice supporting characters. From 1999 to 2002, Roswell's characters were voiced by Marcia Mitzman Gaven. Karl Wiedergott has also appeared in minor roles, but does not voice any recurring characters. Repeat "special guest" cast members include Albert Brooks, Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, Joe Mantegna, and Kelsey Grammer. Following Hartman's death in 1998, the characters he voiced were retired.

Episodes will quite often feature guest voices from a wide range of professions, including actors, athletes, authors, bands, musicians and scientists. In the earlier seasons, most of the guest stars voiced characters, but eventually more started appearing as themselves. Tony Bennett was the first guest star to appear as himself, appearing briefly in the season two episode "Dancin' Homer". The Simpsons holds the world record for "Most Guest Stars Featured in a Television Series".

The show has been dubbed into several other languages, including Japanese, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. It is also one of the few programs dubbed in both standard French and Quebec French.The Simpsons has been broadcast in Arabic, but due to Islamic customs, numerous aspects of the show have been changed. For example, Homer drinks soda instead of beer and eats Egyptian beef sausages instead of hot dogs. Because of such changes, the Arabized version of the series met with a negative reaction from the lifelong Simpsons fans in the area.

Animation

Animation director David Silverman, who helped define the look of the show.

Several different U.S. and international studios animate The Simpsons. Throughout the run of the animated shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show, the animation was produced domestically at Klasky Csupo. With the debut of the series, because of an increased workload, Fox subcontracted production to several international studios, located in South Korea. These are AKOM, Anivision, Rough Draft Studios, USAnimation, and Toonzone Entertainment. A subcontractor connection to the North Korean SEK studio has been suspected but not confirmed. Artists at the U.S. animation studio, Film Roman, draw storyboards, design new characters, backgrounds, props and draw character and background layouts, which in turn become animatics to be screened for the writers at Gracie Films for any changes to be made before the work is shipped overseas. The overseas studios then draw the inbetweens, ink and paint, and render the animation to tape before it is shipped back to the United States to be delivered to Fox three to four months later.

For the first three seasons, Klasky Csupo animated The Simpsons in the United States. In 1992, the show's production company, Gracie Films, switched domestic production to Film Roman, who continue to animate the show as of 2012. In Season 14, production switched from traditional cel animation to digital ink and paint. The first episode to experiment with digital coloring was "Radioactive Man" in 1995. Animators used digital ink and paint during production of the Season 12 episode "Tennis the Menace", but Gracie Films delayed the regular use of digital ink and paint until two seasons later. The already completed "Tennis the Menace" was broadcast as made.

The series began high-definition production in Season 20; the first episode, "Take My Life, Please", aired February 15, 2009. The move to HDTV included a new opening sequence. Matt Groening called it a complicated change because it affected the timing and composition of animation.

Characters

The Simpsons sports a vast array of secondary and tertiary characters.

The Simpsons are a typical family who live in a fictional "Middle American" town of Springfield. Homer, the father, works as a safety inspector at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, a position at odds with his careless, buffoonish personality. He is married to Marge Simpson, a stereotypical American housewife and mother. They have three children: Bart, a ten-year-old troublemaker; Lisa, a precocious eight-year-old activist; and Maggie, the baby of the family who rarely speaks, but communicates by sucking on a pacifier. The family owns a dog, Santa's Little Helper, and a cat, Snowball V, renamed Snowball II in "I, (Annoyed Grunt)-Bot". Both pets have had starring roles in several episodes. Despite the passing of yearly milestones such as holidays or birthdays, the Simpsons do not physically age and still appear just as they did at the end of the 1980s. Although the family is dysfunctional, many episodes examine their relationships and bonds with each other and they are often shown to care about one another.

The show includes an array of quirky characters: co-workers, teachers, family friends, extended relatives, townspeople and local celebrities. The creators originally intended many of these characters as one-time jokesters or for fulfilling needed functions in the town. A number of them have gained expanded roles and subsequently starred in their own episodes. According to Matt Groening, the show adopted the concept of a large supporting cast from the comedy show SCTV.

Setting

The Simpsons takes place in the fictional American town of Springfield in an unknown and impossible-to-determine U.S. state. The show is intentionally evasive in regard to Springfield's location. Springfield’s geography, and that of its surroundings, contains coastlines, deserts, vast farmland, tall mountains, or whatever the story or joke requires. Groening has said that Springfield has much in common with Portland, Oregon, the city where he grew up. The name "Springfield" is a common one in America and appears in 22 states. Groening has said that he named it after Springfield, Oregon, and the fictitious Springfield which was the setting of the series Father Knows Best. He "figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the U.S. In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, 'This will be cool; everyone will think it's their Springfield.' And they do."

Themes

The Simpsons uses the standard setup of a situational comedy, or sitcom, as its premise. The series centers on a family and their life in a typical American town, serving as a satirical parody of a working and middle class American lifestyle. However, because of its animated nature, The Simpsons' scope is larger than that of a regular sitcom. The town of Springfield acts as a complete universe in which characters can explore the issues faced by modern society. By having Homer work in a nuclear power plant, the show can comment on the state of the environment. Through Bart and Lisa's days at Springfield Elementary School, the show's writers illustrate pressing or controversial issues in the field of education. The town features a vast array of media channels—from kids' television programming to local news, which enables the producers to make jokes about themselves and the entertainment industry.

Some commentators say the show is political in nature and susceptible to a left-wing bias. Al Jean admitted in an interview that "We [the show] are of liberal bent." The writers often evince an appreciation for liberal ideals, but the show makes jokes across the political spectrum. The show portrays government and large corporations as callous entities that take advantage of the common worker. Thus, the writers often portray authority figures in an unflattering or negative light. In The Simpsons, politicians are corrupt, ministers such as Reverend Lovejoy are indifferent to churchgoers, and the local police force is incompetent. Religion also figures as a recurring theme. In times of crisis, the family often turns to God, and the show has dealt with most of the major religions.

Hallmarks

Opening sequence

The Simpsons' opening sequence is one of the show's most memorable hallmarks. Most episodes open with the camera zooming through the show's title towards the town of Springfield. The camera then follows the members of the family on their way home. Upon entering their house, the Simpsons settle down on their couch to watch television. The opening was created by David Silverman, the first task he did when production began on the show. The series' distinctive theme song was composed by musician Danny Elfman in 1989, after Groening approached him requesting a retro style piece. This piece has been noted by Elfman as the most popular of his career.

One of the most distinctive aspects of the opening is that three of the segments change from episode to episode: Bart writes different things on the school chalkboard, Lisa plays different solos on her saxophone and different gags accompany the family as they enter their living room to sit on the couch. On February 15, 2009, a new opening credit sequence was introduced to accompany the switch to HDTV. The sequence had all of the features of the original opening, but added numerous details and characters.

Halloween episodes

Bart Simpson introducing a segment of "Treehouse of Horror IV" in the manner of Rod Serling's Night Gallery.

Main article: Treehouse of Horror (series)

The special Halloween episode has become an annual tradition. "Treehouse of Horror" first broadcast in 1990 as part of season two and established the pattern of three separate, self-contained stories in each Halloween episode. These pieces usually involve the family in some horror, science fiction, or supernatural setting and often parody or pay homage to a famous piece of work in those genres.[88] They always take place outside the normal continuity of the show. Although the Treehouse series is meant to be seen on Halloween, in recent years, new installments have premiered after Halloween due to Fox's current contract with Major League Baseball's World Series.

Humor

The show's humor turns on cultural references that cover a wide spectrum of society so that viewers from all generations can enjoy the show. Such references, for example, come from movies, television, music, literature, science, and history. The animators also regularly add jokes or sight gags into the show's background via humorous or incongruous bits of text in signs, newspapers, and elsewhere. The audience may often not notice the visual jokes in a single viewing. Some are so fleeting that they become apparent only by pausing a video recording of the show. Kristin Thompson argues that The Simpsons uses a "... flurry of cultural references, intentionally inconsistent characterization, and considerable self-reflexivity about television conventions and the status of the programme as a television show."

One of Bart's early hallmarks was his prank calls to Moe's Tavern owner Moe Szyslak in which Bart calls Moe and asks for a gag name. Moe tries to find that person in the bar, but soon realizes it is a prank call and angrily threatens Bart. These calls were based on a series of prank calls known as the Tube Bar recordings. Moe was based partly on Tube Bar owner Louis "Red" Deutsch, whose often profane responses inspired Moe's violent side. As the series progressed, it became more difficult for the writers to come up with a fake name and to write Moe's angry response, and the pranks were dropped as a regular joke during the fourth season. The Simpsons also often includes self-referential humor.[96] The most common form is jokes about Fox Broadcasting. For example, the episode "She Used to Be My Girl" included a scene in which a Fox News Channel van drove down the street while displaying a large "Bush Cheney 2004" banner and playing Queen's "We Are the Champions", in reference to the 2004 U.S. presidential election and claims of conservative bias in Fox News.

The show uses catchphrases, and most of the primary and secondary characters have at least one each. Notable expressions include Homer's annoyed grunt "D'oh!", Mr. Burns' "Excellent ..." and Nelson Muntz's "Ha-ha!". Some of Bart's catchphrases, such as "¡Ay, caramba!", "Don't have a cow, man!" and "Eat my shorts!" appeared on t-shirts in the show's early days. However, Bart rarely used the latter two phrases until after they became popular through the merchandising. The use of many of these catchphrases has declined in recent seasons. The episode "Bart Gets Famous" mocks catchphrase-based humor, as Bart achieves fame on the Krusty the Clown Show solely for saying "I didn't do it."

Influence and legacy

Idioms

A number of neologisms that originated on The Simpsons have entered popular vernacular.[103][104] Mark Liberman, director of the Linguistic Data Consortium, remarked, "The Simpsons has apparently taken over from Shakespeare and the Bible as our culture's greatest source of idioms, catchphrases and sundry other textual allusions." The most famous catchphrase is Homer's annoyed grunt: "D'oh!" So ubiquitous is the expression that it is now listed in the Oxford English Dictionary, but without the apostrophe. Dan Castellaneta says he borrowed the phrase from James Finlayson, an actor in early Laurel and Hardy comedies, who pronounced it in a more elongated and whining tone. The staff of The Simpsons told Castellaneta to shorten the noise, and it went on to become the well-known exclamation in the television series.

Groundskeeper Willie's description of the French as "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" was used by National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg in 2003, after France's opposition to the proposed invasion of Iraq. The phrase quickly spread to other journalists. "Cromulent" and "Embiggen", words used in "Lisa the Iconoclast", have since appeared in the Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon,[108] and scientific journals respectively. "Kwyjibo", a fake Scrabble word invented by Bart in "Bart the Genius", was used as one of the aliases of the creator of the Melissa worm. "I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords", was used by Kent Brockman in "Deep Space Homer" and has become a common variety of phrase. Variants of Brockman's utterance are used to express mock submission. It has been used in media, such as New Scientist magazine. The dismissive term "Meh", believed to have been popularized by the show, entered the Collins English Dictionary in 2008. Other words credited as stemming from the show include "yoink" and "craptacular".

The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations includes several quotations from the show. As well as "cheese-eating surrender monkeys", Homer's lines, "Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is never try", from "Burns' Heir" (season five, 1994) as well as "Kids are the best, Apu. You can teach them to hate the things you hate. And they practically raise themselves, what with the Internet and all", from "Eight Misbehavin'" (season 11, 1999), entered the dictionary in August 2007.

Television

The Simpsons was the first successful animated program in American prime time since Wait Till Your Father Gets Home in the 1970s. During most of the 1980s, US pundits considered animated shows as appropriate only for children, and animating a show was too expensive to achieve a quality suitable for prime-time television. The Simpsons changed this perception. The use of Korean animation studios for tweening, coloring, and filming made the episodes cheaper. The success of The Simpsons and the lower production cost prompted US television networks to take chances on other animated series. This development led US producers to a 1990s boom in new, animated prime-time shows, such as South Park, Family Guy, King of the Hill, Futurama, and The Critic. For Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, "The Simpsons created an audience for prime-time animation that had not been there for many, many years ... As far as I'm concerned, they basically re-invented the wheel. They created what is in many ways—you could classify it as—a wholly new medium." Characters from The Critic and Futurama have officially crossed over in episodes of The Simpsons, while the Simpsons themselves will crossover with Family Guy. South Park later paid homage to The Simpsons with the episode "Simpsons Already Did It". In Georgia, the animated television sitcom The Samsonadzes, launched in November 2009, has been noted for its very strong resemblance with The Simpsons, which its creator Shalva Ramishvili has acknowledged.

The Simpsons has also influenced live-action shows like Malcolm in the Middle, which featured the use of sight gags and did not use a laugh track unlike most sitcoms.  Malcolm in the Middle debuted January 9, 2000, in the time slot after The Simpsons. Ricky Gervais called The Simpsons an influence on The Office, and fellow British sitcom Spaced was, according to its director Edgar Wright, "an attempt to do a live-action The Simpsons."

Reception and achievements

Early success

The Simpsons was the Fox network's first television series to rank among a season's top 30 highest-rated shows. While later seasons would focus on Homer, Bart was the lead character in most of the first three seasons. In 1990, Bart quickly became one of the most popular characters on television in what was termed "Bartmania. He became the most prevalent Simpsons character on memorabilia, such as T-shirts. In the early 1990s, millions of T-shirts featuring Bart were sold; as many as one million were sold on some days. Believing Bart to be a bad role model, several American public schools banned T-shirts featuring Bart next to captions such as "I'm Bart Simpson. Who the hell are you?" and "Underachiever ('And proud of it, man!')". The Simpsons merchandise sold well and generated $2 billion in revenue during the first 14 months of sales. Because of his popularity, Bart was often the most promoted member of the Simpson family in advertisements for the show, even for episodes in which he was not involved in the main plot.

Due to the show's success, over the summer of 1990 the Fox Network decided to switch The Simpsons' time slot so that it would move from 8:00 p.m. ET on Sunday night to the same time on Thursday, where it would compete with The Cosby Show on NBC, the number one show at the time. Through the summer, several news outlets published stories about the supposed "Bill vs. Bart" rivalry. “Bart Gets an F" (season two, 1990) was the first episode to air against The Cosby Show, and it received a lower Nielsen ratings, tying for eighth behind The Cosby Show, which had an 18.5 rating. The rating is based on the number of household televisions that were tuned into the show, but Nielsen Media Research estimated that 33.6 million viewers watched the episode, making it the number one show in terms of actual viewers that week. At the time, it was the most watched episode in the history of the Fox Network, and it is still the highest rated episode in the history of The Simpsons. The show moved back to its Sunday slot in 1994 and has remained there ever since.

The Simpsons has been praised by many critics, being described as "the most irreverent and unapologetic show on the air." In a 1990 review of the show, Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly described it as "the American family at its most complicated, drawn as simple cartoons. It's this neat paradox that makes millions of people turn away from the three big networks on Sunday nights to concentrate on The Simpsons." Tucker would also describe the show as a "pop-cultural phenomenon, a prime-time cartoon show that appeals to the entire family."

Run length achievements

On February 9, 1997, The Simpsons surpassed The Flintstones with the episode "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show" as the longest-running prime-time animated series in the United States. In 2004, The Simpsons replaced The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1952 to 1966) as the longest-running sitcom (animated or live action) in the United States. In 2009, The Simpsons surpassed The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet's record of 435 episodes and is now recognized by Guinness World Records as the world's longest running sitcom (in terms of episode count In October 2004, Scooby-Doo briefly overtook The Simpsons as the American animated show with the highest number of episodes. However, network executives in April 2005 again cancelled Scooby-Doo, which finished with 371 episodes, and The Simpsons reclaimed the title with 378 episodes at the end of their seventeenth season.In May 2007, The Simpsons reached their 400th episode at the end of the eighteenth season. While The Simpsons has the record for the number of episodes by an American animated show, other animated series have surpassed The Simpsons. For example, the Japanese anime series Sazae-san has over 6,000 episodes to its credit.

In 2009, Fox began a year-long celebration of the show titled "Best 20 Years Ever” to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the premiere of The Simpsons. One of the first parts of the celebration is the "Unleash Your Yellow" contest in which entrants must design a poster for the show. The celebration ended on January 10, 2010 (almost 20 years after "Bart the Genius" aired on January 14, 1990), with The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special – In 3-D! On Ice!, a documentary special by documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock that examines the "cultural phenomenon of The Simpsons".

 

As of the twenty-first season (2009–2010), The Simpsons became the longest-running American primetime, scripted television series, having surpassed Gunsmoke. However, Gunsmoke's episode count of 635 episodes far surpasses The Simpsons, which would not reach that mark until its approximate 29th season, under normal programming schedules. In October 2013, Fox renewed the show up to the end of a 26th season.

Awards and accolades

Main article: List of awards and nominations received by The Simpsons

The Simpsons have been awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The Simpsons has won dozens of awards since it debuted as a series, including 27 Primetime Emmy Awards, 30 Annie Awards and a Peabody Award. In a 1999 issue celebrating the 20th century's greatest achievements in arts and entertainment, Time magazine named The Simpsons the century's best television series. In that same issue, Time included Bart Simpson in the Time 100, the publication's list of the century's 100 most influential people. Bart was the only fictional character on the list. On January 14, 2000, the Simpsons were awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Also in 2000, Entertainment Weekly magazine TV critic Ken Tucker named The Simpsons the greatest television show of the 1990s. Furthermore, viewers of the UK television channel Channel 4 have voted The Simpsons at the top of two polls: 2001's 100 Greatest Kids' TV shows, and 2005's The 100 Greatest Cartoons, with Homer Simpson voted into first place in 2001's 100 Greatest TV Characters. Homer would also place ninth on Entertainment Weekly's list of the "50 Greatest TV icons". In 2002, The Simpsons ranked #8 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time, and in 2007 it was included in Time's list of the "100 Best TV Shows of All Time". In 2008 the show was placed in first on Entertainment Weekly's "Top 100 Shows of the Past 25 Years". Empire named it the greatest TV show of all time. In 2010, Entertainment Weekly named Homer "the greatest character of the last 20 years," while in 2013 the Writers Guild of America listed The Simpsons as the 11th "best written" series in television history. In 2013, TV Guide ranked The Simpsons as the greatest TV cartoon of all time and the tenth greatest show of all time.

Criticism and controversy

Bart's rebellious nature, which frequently resulted in no punishment for his misbehavior, led some parents and conservatives to characterize him as a poor role model for children. In schools, educators claimed that Bart was a "threat to learning" because of his "underachiever and proud of it" attitude and negative attitude regarding his education. Others described him as "egotistical, aggressive and mean-spirited". In a 1991 interview, Bill Cosby described Bart as a bad role model for children, calling him "angry, confused, frustrated". In response, Matt Groening said, "That sums up Bart, all right. Most people are in a struggle to be normal [and] he thinks normal is very boring, and does things that others just wished they dare do." On January 27, 1992, then-President George H. W. Bush said, "We are going to keep on trying to strengthen the American family, to make American families a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons." The writers rushed out a tongue-in-cheek reply in the form of a short segment which aired three days later before a rerun of "Stark Raving Dad" in which Bart replied, "Hey, we're just like the Waltons. We're praying for an end to the Depression, too."

Various episodes of the show have generated controversy. The Simpsons visit Australia in "Bart vs. Australia" (season six, 1995) and Brazil in "Blame It on Lisa" (season 13, 2002) and both episodes generated controversy and negative reaction in the visited countries. In the latter case, Rio de Janeiro's tourist board – who claimed that the city was portrayed as having rampant street crime, kidnappings, slums, and monkey and rat infestations – went so far as to threaten Fox with legal action. Groening was a fierce and vocal critic of the episode "A Star Is Burns" (season six, 1995) which featured a crossover with The Critic. He felt that it was just an advertisement for The Critic, and that people would incorrectly associate the show with him. When he was unsuccessful in getting the episode pulled, he had his name removed from the credits and went public with his concerns, openly criticizing James L. Brooks and saying the episode "violates the Simpsons' universe." In response, Brooks said, "I am furious with Matt, ... he's allowed his opinion, but airing this publicly in the press is going too far. ... his behavior right now is rotten." "The Principal and the Pauper" (season nine, 1997) is one of the most controversial episodes of The Simpsons. Many fans and critics reacted negatively to the revelation that Seymour Skinner, a recurring character since the first season, was an impostor. The episode has been criticized by Groening and by Harry Shearer, who provides the voice of Skinner. In a 2001 interview, Shearer recalled that after reading the script, he told the writers, "That's so wrong. You're taking something that an audience has built eight years or nine years of investment in and just tossed it in the trash can for no good reason, for a story we've done before with other characters. It's so arbitrary and gratuitous, and it's disrespectful to the audience."

The show has reportedly been taken off the air in several countries. China banned it from prime-time television in August 2006, "in an effort to protect China's struggling animation studios." In 2008, Venezuela barred the show from airing on morning television as it was "unsuitable for children". The same year, several Russian Pentecostal churches demanded The Simpsons, South Park and some other Western cartoons to be removed from broadcast schedules "for propaganda of various vices" and the broadcaster's license to be revoked. However, the court decision later dismissed this request.

Criticism of declining quality

Critics' reviews of early Simpsons episodes praised the show for its wit, realism, and intelligence. In the late 1990s, around the airing of season ten, the tone and emphasis of the show began to change. Some critics started calling the show "tired". By 2000, some long-term fans had become disillusioned with the show and pointed to its shift from character-driven plots to what they perceived as an overemphasis on zany antics. The BBC noted "the common consensus is that The Simpsons' golden era ended after season nine", while Todd Leopold of CNN, in an article looking at its perceived decline, stated "for many fans ... the glory days are long past." Jim Schembri of the The Sydney Morning Herald called the show "a cultural touchstone for at least two—possibly three—generations of couch potatoes", but claimed that the show has declined in quality. He attributed this decline in quality to an abandonment of character-driven storylines in favor of and overuse of celebrity cameo appearances and references to popular culture. Schembri wrote: "The central tragedy of The Simpsons is that it has gone from commanding attention to merely being attention seeking. It began by proving that cartoon characters don't have to be caricatures; they can be invested with real emotions. Now the show has in essence fermented into a limp parody of itself. Memorable story arcs have been sacrificed for the sake of celebrity walk-ons and punchline-hungry dialogue."

Author Douglas Coupland described claims of declining quality in the series as "hogwash", saying "The Simpsons hasn't fumbled the ball in fourteen years, it's hardly likely to fumble it now." Mike Scully, who was showrunner during seasons nine through twelve, has been the subject of criticism. Chris Suellentrop of Slate wrote that "under Scully's tenure, The Simpsons became, well, a cartoon. ... Episodes that once would have ended with Homer and Marge bicycling into the sunset now end with Homer blowing a tranquilizer dart into Marge's neck. The show's still funny, but it hasn't been touching in years." When asked in 2007 how the series' longevity is sustained, Scully joked, "Lower your quality standards. Once you've done that you can go on forever."

In 2003, to celebrate the show's 300th episode "Barting Over", USA Today published a pair of Simpsons related articles: a top-ten episodes list chosen by the webmaster of The Simpsons Archive fansite, and a top-15 list by The Simpsons' own writers. The most recent episode listed on the fan list was 1997's "Homer's Phobia"; the Simpsons' writers most recent choice was 2000's "Behind the Laughter". In 2004, Harry Shearer criticized what he perceived as the show's declining quality: "I rate the last three seasons as among the worst, so Season Four looks very good to me now." In response, Dan Castellaneta stated "I don't agree, ... I think Harry's issue is that the show isn't as grounded as it was in the first three or four seasons, that it's gotten crazy or a little more madcap. I think it organically changes to stay fresh."

Despite the criticism, The Simpsons manages to maintain a large viewership and attract new fans. While the first season enjoyed an average of 13.4 million viewing households per episode in the U.S.,[131] the twenty-first season had an average of 7.2 million viewers. In an April 2006 interview, Matt Groening said, "I honestly don't see any end in sight. I think it's possible that the show will become too financially cumbersome ... but right now, the show is creatively, I think, as good or better than it's ever been. The animation is incredibly detailed and imaginative, and the stories do things that we haven't done before. So creatively there's no reason to quit.”

Comic books

Numerous Simpson-related comic books have been released over the years. So far, nine comic book series have been published by Bongo Comics since 1993.The first comic strips based on The Simpsons appeared in 1991 in the magazine Simpsons Illustrated, which was a companion magazine to the show. The comic strips were popular and a one-shot comic book titled Simpsons Comics and Stories, containing four different stories, was released in 1993 for the fans. The book was a success and due to this, the creator of The Simpsons, Matt Groening, and his companions Bill Morrison, Mike Rote, Steve Vance and Cindy Vance created the publishing company Bongo Comics. Issues of Simpsons Comics, Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror and Bart Simpson have been collected and reprinted in trade paperbacks in the United States by HarperCollins.

A Seattle 7-Eleven store transformed into a Kwik-E-Mart as part of a promotion for The Simpsons Movie.

20th Century Fox, Gracie Films, and Film Roman produced The Simpsons Movie, an animated film that was released on July 27, 2007. The film was directed by long-time Simpsons producer David Silverman and written by a team of Simpsons writers comprising Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, Al Jean, George Meyer, Mike Reiss, John Swartzwelder, Jon Vitti, David Mirkin, Mike Scully, Matt Selman, and Ian Maxtone-Graham. Production of the film occurred alongside continued writing of the series despite long-time claims by those involved in the show that a film would enter production only after the series had concluded. There had been talk of a possible feature-length Simpsons film ever since the early seasons of the series. James L. Brooks originally thought that the story of the episode "Kamp Krusty" was suitable for a film, but he encountered difficulties in trying to expand the script to feature-length. For a long time, difficulties such as lack of a suitable story and an already fully engaged crew of writers delayed the project.

Music

Collections of original music featured in the series have been released on the albums Songs in the Key of Springfield, Go Simpsonic with The Simpsons and The Simpsons: Testify. Several songs have been recorded with the purpose of a single or album release and have not been featured on the show. The album The Simpsons Sing the Blues was released in September 1990 and was a success, peaking at #3 on the Billboard 200 and becoming certified 2× platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. The first single from the album was the pop rap song "Do the Bartman", performed by Nancy Cartwright and released on November 20, 1990. The song was written by Michael Jackson, although he did not receive any credit. The Yellow Album was released in 1998, but received poor reception and did not chart in any country.

The Simpsons Ride

Main article: The Simpsons Ride

The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios Florida.

In 2007, it was officially announced that The Simpsons Ride, a simulator ride, would be implemented into the Universal Studios Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood. It officially opened May 15, 2008 in Florida and May 19, 2008, in Hollywood. In the ride, patrons are introduced to a cartoon theme park called Krustyland built by Krusty the Clown. However, Sideshow Bob is loose from prison to get revenge on Krusty and the Simpson family. It features more than 24 regular characters from The Simpsons and features the voices of the regular cast members, as well as Pamela Hayden, Russi Taylor and Kelsey Grammer. Harry Shearer decided not to participate in the ride, so none of his characters have vocal parts.

Video games

Further information: List of The Simpsons video games

Numerous video games based on the show have been produced. Some of the early games include Konami's arcade game The Simpsons (1991) and Acclaim Entertainment's The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants (1991). More modern games include The Simpsons: Road Rage (2001), The Simpsons: Hit & Run (2003) and The Simpsons Game (2007).[232][233][234] Electronic Arts, which produced The Simpsons Game, has owned the exclusive rights to create video games based on the show since 2005. In 2010, they released a game called The Simpsons Arcade for iOS. Another EA-produced mobile game, Tapped Out, was released in 2012 for iOS users, then in 2013 for Android and Kindle users. Two Simpsons pinball machines have been produced: one that was available briefly after the first season, and another in 2007, both out of production.

Merchandise

See also: List of The Simpsons books and List of The Simpsons home video releases

The popularity of The Simpsons has made it a billion-dollar merchandising industry. The title family and supporting characters appear on everything from t-shirts to posters. The Simpsons has been used as a theme for special editions of well-known board games, including Clue, Scrabble, Monopoly, Operation, and The Game of Life, as well as the trivia games What Would Homer Do? and Simpsons Jeopardy!. Several card games such as trump cards and The Simpsons Trading Card Game have also been released. Many official or unofficial Simpsons books such as episode guides have been published. Many episodes of the show have been released on DVD and VHS over the years. When the first season DVD was released in 2001, it quickly became the best-selling television DVD in history, although it was later overtaken by the first season of Chappelle's Show.In particular, seasons one through sixteen have been released on DVD in the U.S. (Region 1), Europe (Region 2) and Australia/New Zealand/Latin America (Region 4) with more seasons expected to be released in the future.

In 2003, about 500 companies around the world were licensed to use Simpsons characters in their advertising. As a promotion for The Simpsons Movie, twelve 7-Eleven stores were transformed into Kwik-E-Marts and sold The Simpsons related products. These included "Buzz Cola", "Krusty-O" cereal, pink doughnuts with sprinkles, and "Squishees".

In 2008 consumers around the world spent $750 million on merchandise related to The Simpsons, with half of the amount originating from the United States. By 2009 20th Century Fox increased merchandising efforts. On April 9, 2009, the United States Postal Service unveiled a series of five 44-cent stamps featuring Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie, to commemorate the show's twentieth anniversary. The Simpsons is the first television series still in production to receive this recognition. The stamps, designed by Matt Groening, were made available for purchase on May 7, 2009. Approximately one billion were printed, but only 318 million were sold, costing the Postal Service $1.2 million.

Source: Wikipedia

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