Devastating Spec Ad For Johnnie Walker By Two German Students

I won’t ruin it for you.

All you need to know upfront is this is a spec ad done by two German film students – Daniel Titz and Dorian Lebherz – for Johnnie Walker titled “Dear Brother.”

The ad seems to follow two brothers on both a spiritual and physical journey to the most important places of their youth.

Once you get to the end, go back and watch again. I didn’t see the ending coming, but once I did, I went back to put it together.

Then, go read this interview by AdWeek with the two filmmakers.

Kevin Hart & Will Ferrell On Homophobic GET HARD Scene: “Funny Is Funny”

Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart are catching a lot of grief for their new movie Get Hard, where a hedge fund manager is sentenced to prison.

Although a comedy, the film is being criticized for racist and homophobic stereotypes that Variety has labeled “some of the ugliest gay-panic humor to befoul a studio release in recent memory.”

But Hart and Ferrell don’t see it. According to Hart – “Funny is funny.”

Teaser: Lily Tomlin in Grandma

Lily Tomlin in Grandma

For the first time in 27 years, the imminently watchable and always fantastic Lily Tomlin stars in a feature film – Grandma.

The film was screened on the final night of the Sundance Film Festival to excellent response (no surprise). Sony has purchased the distribution rights.

The cast of Grandma includes Sam Elliot, Marcia Gay Harden and Julia Garner as Lily’s granddaughter. The flick was written and directed by Academy Award nominee Paul Weitz (American Pie, About A Boy).

Deadline writes that the film is “a darkly funny and also touching film of one long day in the life of one very frayed family.”

One of our great national treasures, Tomlin’s work is always insightful, inspiring and razor-sharp.
Look for Grandma in theaters soon.

Movie Mashup: Final Cut 2014

Mashup of the best in film for the year 2014 edited by Nick Bosworth. Very cleverly done.

Clip description: Another year has passed and it has been a memorable one folks. 2014 gave us many incredible films from every genre you can think of and I will once again honor the people behind them and their immense efforts by showcasing 330 films that released during the past year. I thank you all for watching and look forward to an even better 2015.

(h/t Towleroad)

Special Screening of short film “hopefulROMANTIC”

George Takei and husband Brad with Matt Zarley and Benjamin Pollack at the LA premiere of "hopefulROMANTIC"
From L to R: Brad Takei, George Takei, Matt Zarley and Benjamin Pollack

This weekend I was invited to attend the first screening of the new musical short film hopefulROMANTIC by award-winning out singer/songwriter Matt Zarley.

Starring Zarley – along with Chuck Saculla, Jolie Jenkins and the uber-wise & wonderful George Takei – the film is a universal story about loving, letting go, and holding onto faith that there’s somebody for everybody. The film is practically dialogue-free with the narrative articulated solely through Matt Zarley and Emmy & Grammy award-winning Andy Zulla’s soulful pop score.

After the film, I moderated a Q&A with the creative team including Zarley, Takei, Saculla plus director Benjamin Pollack and director of photography Chris Ekstein.

I also conducted interviews on the “orange carpet” before the screening where I kept my inner “fan boy” in check as I interviewed openly gay TV legend (and internet wiseman) George Takei – who is EVERYTHING you want him to be and more. Serious honor.

Also in attendance were tons of favorites from the LGBT entertainment world including singer/songwriters Tom Goss and Jeb Havens, Haviland Stillwell of the upcoming Magic Mike XXL, recording artist and Broadway fave Shoshana Bean (who contributes vocals to the soundtrack), “Fashion Police” writer Dennis Hensley and many more.

About hopefulROMANTIC from Matt Zarley:

“When I first started writing the music for this, I was deeply in love. The original plan was to write a simple little EP of love songs. I was so happy and I wanted everyone to know it.

“A few weeks into the process, my relationship ended abruptly without warning. I was devastated. It was hard for me to access a lot of positive loving feelings at the time. Out of that temporary writer’s block, I wrote ‘Constantly’. As I was finishing that song, I began to rethink my project. What was originally gonna be a 5 song EP of love songs suddenly took a turn.

“I had decided to construct a narrative… a journey with music being the guide. Having had an extensive background in Broadway and musical theatre, it seemed natural to finally merge my two worlds together. Much of what I was writing about was also what I was experiencing in real life. Thru this creative journey, I began to heal myself.

“In the end, my faith and belief that there’s someone out there for all of us was restored. Holding onto the eternal cliche that ‘everything happens for a reason’ couldn’t hold more truth for me now.

“I’m convinced that had I not loved as deeply as I did and had I not been so devastated, this project surely wouldn’t have happened. For that, I’m thankful for my once broken heart.”

If the Sunday night audience is any indication, the future looks bright for hopefulROMANTIC. The crowd was clearly with the filmmakers from the opening notes of the driving “I Just Knew,” to the quietly heartfelt “Let Me Let Go,” to the sweeping emotional release of “Hopeful.” As the film credits rolled, the entire audience stood with applause and approval.

Matt is currently submitting the musical short film to film festivals now. Check out the trailer for the film below, along with pics from the evening.

All photos by Nina Prommer unless otherwise noted.

George Takei and Matt Zarley at the premiere of “hopefulROMANTIC”

Cast members Chuck Saculla, George Takei and Matt Zarley with director Benjamin Pollack (hat)

Recording artist and Broadway favorite Shoshana Bean with Matt Zarley

From Broadway and the upcoming “Magic Mike XXL” – Haviland Stillwell

Hottie singer/songwriter Jeb Havens with Matt Zarley
Havens co-wrote one of the songs featured in hopefulROMANTIC with Zarley

Matt Zarley beams on the “orange carpet” at the premiere of his short musical film hopefulROMANTIC

Music hotness in the house! Singer/songwriters Tom Goss (L) and Jeb Havens (L) on the carpet

Interviewing Matt Zarley on the “orange carpet” of hopefulROMANTIC

Interviewing TV legend George Takei (photo: Michael Caprio)

Moderating Q&A after the screening of hopefulROMANTIC

I finally met super-talented singer/songwriter Tom Goss! (photo: Michael Caprio)

With Jeb Havens on the “orange carpet”
I’m a huge fan of the singer/songwriter (and hottie) whose video cover of “Fast Car” went wildly viral recently

Hubby Michael and I on the “orange carpet”

Hiding my inner fanboy as I chat with legend and LGBT hero George Takei (photo: Michael Caprio)

With Matt Zarley at the end of the night

Trailer: “Pride”

Winner of the Queer Palm at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, Pride tells the true story of a group of gay and lesbian activists who rallied together to raise money for struggling families affected by the U.K. miners strike’ in 1984.

The film was directed by Matthew Warchus, who also directed the first Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies, which was my last Broadway appearance 🙂

Via press release:

PRIDE is inspired by an extraordinary true story. It’s the summer of 1984, Margaret Thatcher is in power and the National Union of Mineworkers is on strike, prompting a London-based group of gay and lesbian activists to raise money to support the strikers’ families.

Initially rebuffed by the Union, the group identifies a tiny mining village in Wales and sets off to make their donation in person. As the strike drags on, the two groups discover that standing together makes for the strongest union of all.

Released this week in select theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco this weekend.

Watch the trailer below, and check out the official website here.

Madonna may star in remake of “Valley of the Dolls” film

Eternal gay favorite and over the top 1967 film Valley of the Dolls” – based on the 1966 novel by Jaqueline Susann – looks to be headed back to the big screen in a remake by 20th Century Fox.

While big names are being bandied about for the three leads, Madonna has been mentioned to play the role of the “over the hill but still fabulous” star that “Neely” upstages.

The “new” Valley of the Dolls, will have a decidedly different “spin” on the original with L.A.’s music business being a big part of the story, particularly with the Neely O’Hara character (Patty Duke) the up and coming star who makes it big and has a major fall from grace. One of the writers of the new VOTD is Paul Rudnick, who did the “First Wives Club” and “In and Out” (such a funny Kevin Kline movie!) There will be a dark comedy aspect to the film.

Actresses on the “A List” for this movie are Anne Hathaway, perfect as the prim Anne Welles, Jennifer Lawrence as Jennifer North (the fallen Angel played by Sharon Tate) and Emmy Rossum as Neely O’ Hara (perfect casting!!) and producers are lobbying hard to get Madonna to play the aging Broadway star Helen Lawson, a role intended for Judy Garland in the original movie.

I think Madge would be perfection in the role. No one could do it like Madonna.

Please, oh please, let this happen.

(tip by TRR reader John)

Trailer: “Test”

TEST, by writer/director Chris Mason Johnson, premieres at the Seattle International Film Festival on June 7, 2013.

From the film’s official website:

TEST is a poignant, powerful story of friendship and hope in a time of crisis, set in the San Francisco modern dance scene of 1985 in the early years of the AIDS epidemic: when headlines threatened a gay quarantine, when nobody knew for certain how the disease spread, when dancers were afraid to touch each other because they might get it from sweat…

The early history of the epidemic is big and complicated, and there are untold stories that frame the subject in a different light and need to be heard now as well.

TEST is one of these.

I was just beginning my career as a dancer in 1985, and I remember the fear and whispers at the time. A sad and dark period for a sad and dark issue.

For tickets to the premiere, click here.