Nerdist was started by Chris Hardwick and has grown to be a many headed beast.

Nerdist Discusses DINNER WITH FRIENDS WITH BRETT GELMAN AND FRIENDS with Brett Gelman

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by on April 24, 2014

This week Adult Swim premieres the new special Dinner with Friends with Brett Gelman and Friends, co-written by Gelman with director Jason Woliner. In the 30-minute special, Gelman invites his Hollywood friends for a lively night of dining, tasty showbiz chit-chat, and psychological torture, because, sure. Nerdist had a chat with the actor and writer and discussed the inspiration for the special, what it was like working with his awesome cast, and if the funny man thought he’d go down the horror/psychological thriller rabbit hole again.

While the trailer for Dinner with Friends with Brett Gelman and Friends is somewhat vague and a bit ominous, I couldn’t help but notice some similarities between the basic premise of the special and Jon Favreau’s conversational favorite Dinner for Five. Was that, in fact, intentional? Gelman told us, “Yes. In a way. It starts there for a second and then quickly – it starts off being a Dinner for Five talk show and then immediately starts descending into a hellish nightmare of psychological torture where I completely ruin my six lovely guests.” So, a little Dinner for Five with a little Saw thrown in for good measure? Said Gelman, “Oh yeah, I’d say a lot of Saw and a little Dinner for Five!”

Speaking of Gelman’s guests, the cast includes Dale Dickey (Justified), Gilbert Gottfried, Fred Melamed (The Crazy Ones), Alison Pill (The Newsroom), Lance Reddick (American Horror Story, Fringe), Anthony Atamanuik (30 Rock), and Alex Karpovsky (Girls). Gelman sang the praises of the actors, telling Nerdist, “[N]ot only are they all incredibly funny, they are all incredible actors, some of the best actors there are. So they really commit to the reality of what’s going on. And so the whole idea that this is being committed to in such an intense way and in such a real way is, in itself, funny. So it’s pretty remarkable and I will say that the one person who is a comedian in it, the great Gilbert Gottfried, gives a pretty heartbreaking dramatic performance and by ‘pretty’ I mean ‘very’ heartbreaking.”

It would seem like Dinner with Friends with Brett Gelman and Friends is in a way breaking new ground for Adult Swim in that there hasn’t really been anything like this on the network yet. What were Gelman’s thoughts on taking things to a darker place? “I would say that is the beauty of Adult Swim is that they’re always pushing forward from what they’ve done in the past and they’re always just trying different styles. What Tim and Eric do is different from what Jon Glaser does, but you know it is all in this family of take-it-to-the-limit, which I feel we do with this. But it is very different, because there is nothing – it’s just different. It’s maybe their most dramatic piece, but Mike Lazzo at Adult Swim is a very brilliant man who — he likes to push it. He likes to push all of his people to take it beyond what anybody was originally thinking about.”

Now that Gelman and co-writer and director Jason Woliner have gone down the dark, twisted horror/thriller rabbit hole, would he like to do something like this again? “Oh, definitely. Definitely. It is so fun. And it is surreal. There is a lot of surreal stuff to it, and I would love to make more of these, you know, Jason would, too, and I hope Adult Swim does too.”

Dinner with Friends with Brett Gelman and Friends premieres tonight, Thursday, April 24th at Midnight on Adult Swim.

Interview: Marjorie Liu Talks About Her Latest Book, X-MEN, and Harassment In Comics

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by on April 24, 2014

You may know Marjorie Liu from her novels such as Tiger Eye and The Iron Hunt and her work on comics like Astonishing X-Men and X-23. The prolific and talented writer was a special guest at WonderCon, and we had the chance to sit down with her and discuss her current projects, what it’s like to switch between writing comics and novels, and about issues with harassment in comics.

Nerdist: You’ve worked on several cool stories for Marvel and written novels – what are you working on right now?

Marjorie Liu: Actually, right now, I am revising a novel. It’s a mystery novel about an elderly dominatrix who has found herself in the middle of a murder mystery, and she ropes in her Iraq veteran granddaughter who might help her solve it. It’s going to be a very quirky mystery, very offbeat, and that’s what I’m focusing on right now. And then on the side, I am working on some creator-owned projects.

N: I’m glad there are some comics projects in there.

ML: I love writing comics too much. I will never be able to give it up, but I’m taking a little break to do my own thing.

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N: What are some of the challenges of going back and forth between writing novels and comics? The pacing has to be different.

ML: It’s so much fun. I would say in the beginning it took me a while to separate the two because I would work on novels during the day and write comics in the evening. But now I’ve been doing it long enough that having the opportunity to write graphic novels has opened up so much for me, because there were stories in the past that I would think about, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to turn them into a novel. These same story lines are perfect for a comic format. It’s given me so much freedom.

And it’s true, it’s very different. A novel is 400 pages, it’s an endurance race. There’s no artist, so I have to describe everything. It’s all prose. Whereas with comics, I can rely on the artist. It’s really wonderful to have that collaboration and to not always feel the burden of describing everything myself and also just to have someone who can paint the world. It’s really wonderful. They’re very different, but at this point it’s just become this beautiful smorgasbord. I’m really blessed.

N: When you were writing on Astonishing X-Men, you handled some rather big events. Who were some your favorite characters to write, and what were your favorite story lines you got to put out there?

ML: Well, it goes without saying that I loved writing Northstar and Kyle’s wedding. That was a true pleasure, and it was wonderful to have that opportunity. But, I have to admit I also loved writing Warbird. She became – I didn’t expect this in the beginning… When I first started writing the book, I didn’t know that she was going to be my favorite character to write. She really rose through my mind, and I kept thinking of all these different ideas and stories I wanted to write for her. To be honest, I sort of had an embarrassment of riches. I had Warbird, I had Iceman – I loved writing Iceman. I wish I’d had more time. I had story lines I really wanted to write and just didn’t get a chance to. But that’s the way it is.

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N: There has been some recent controversy about how some men talk to women in comics [Note: You can read that post at Janelle Asselin's Tumblr]; You wrote about it on your blog, and I feel like certain events bring harassment into the conversation and we’ll talk about it, but then it gets swept under the rug again. How do you think we can keep the conversation going?

ML: It’s really hard because there almost becomes this exhaustion factor that sets in – it’s like fatigue where people just start getting tired. I think the people who are pushing this issue get tired, too, because there’s only so much you can keep saying and bringing it up. But, I think that we – as artists and as readers – must be mindful. Publishers, too. We can keep having these conversations because we will keep having them because this will not go away [unless we do]. But in the interim, we need to stay mindful of the situation and not have this amnesia that seems to fall over us each time the conversation goes away.

I think the only way to keep it going even if we’re not talking about it is to keep pushing it. As creators and as readers, we need to always be pushing it – by looking for the books, looking for the artists and people and stories to support what we feel to be a better representation of all women. Of real women. I think that it’s going to be a long term struggle.

When this latest controversy came with up with Janelle and everyone was like “what?” for a moment, it made me feel tired. It was disheartening that we actually had to explain this [how men respond to women in comics] again, and that people were still acting shocked. And I think that people get defensive because they think we’re saying that all men are evil or we’re saying that the industry is corrupt, and that’s not the case. But there are flaws, and they’re important flaws that need to be addressed. And I think the best way to address them is through action. By saying, this is how we’re going to change things, and we’re going to be thoughtful about it. The fans have a responsibility to be aware of their own prejudices and their own lack of awareness. And it’s not a matter of being evil or good or right or wrong, it’s about being aware.

See a chat with Marjorie on Nerdist News during our WonderCon coverage by clicking here.

Mel Brooks Doing His Own Autobiographical One Man Show

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by on April 24, 2014

Throughout the last several years, you might have heard or read a classic showbiz story by Mel Brooks, possibly even during his appearance on the Nerdist Podcast. The comedy legend is now putting a collection of his stories in a one-night-only one man show to play next week on April 28th at The Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. As you’d expect and wouldn’t want any other way with a Mel Brooks project, Mel will be acting, directing himself, producing, and writing it as well.

Brooks could probably just tell stories from just the routine times having Zankou Chicken and watching TV with Carl Reiner. Yet, Mel probably has as many celebrated performances on stage and in film and TV in his illustrious career as accompanying tales of what went on behind-the-scenes. With that in mind, you should note that Brooks is one of the few people that has actually won the all awards in an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony).

It should also be no surprise that the performance is already sold out. Hopefully, this one-off show will be released for the rest of us to see, especially since it apparently is going to be filmed by Brooksfilms Limited.

HT: EW.com

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The JV Club: Jennette McCurdy

In this very special episode, Janet podcasts her very own DAUGHTER! … Well, at least someone who played her daughter in a thing. It’s the terrific Jennette McCurdy (Sam and Cat) and a sitting-on-the-rug hangout, covering such topics as feminism, faith, and becoming a real life Ghostbuster.

Last Night On @midnight: Brandon Johnson, Paul Scheer, Andy Daly

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by on April 24, 2014

LogoAtMidnightBrandon Johnson, Paul Scheer and Andy Daly were the panelists on @midnight with Chris Hardwick on Comedy Central last night, and the show wa worth watching for the reactions to that family Summer song that’s melting the Internet these days. But they also filled in blanks, imagined Gangsta Broadway shows, pondered police social media initiatives gone bad, and the obligatory more.

Right here, clips:

Whisper Me This, Batman – My Terrifying Circus of Blood

Rapid Refresh – The Internet is a Very Bad Part of Town

#HashtagWars – #Gangsta Broadway

App or Crap – I’m Very Excited About Encourage-A-Boner

See the whole episode by clicking here.

Thomas Lennon, April Richardson, and Steve Agee will be Thursday’s raconteurs. Watch them at 12/11c on Comedy Central, right after what is still, right now, The Colbert Report. Follow the show’s Tumblr and, of course, make sure you’re following the Twitter account. If you want to see the show tape in person here in L.A., you can, for free; just click here for details. And you can watch full episodes of @midnight via the new Comedy Central App for iPhone and iPad: click here to get it.

Lupita Nyong’o and Scarlett Johansson May Join Jon Favreau’s JUNGLE BOOK

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by on April 23, 2014

The Disney-backed, Jon Favreau-helmed live action/CGI adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book may have nabbed two of the most sought-after actresses in Hollywood today to join its cast. According to a report, both Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o and The Avengers star Scarlett Johansson are in talks to join Idris Elba in the film, which is, well, a lot of star power. Now that is one hell of a chockablock jungle (hey, wait: come back here!).

Though it’s still early in the process, the women are already said to be the top choices for two particular roles. Nyong’o's negotiations revolve around the character Raksha, the mother wolf who takes Mowgli in, adopting him as her own. Meanwhile, Johansson is being eyed to join the bad guy side alongside Elba’s Shere Khan, that nasty ol’ tiger who just loves to eat up people. The actress is wanted for the role of Kaa, a killer animal-hypnotizing python. Considering her vocal work in Her, it’s not such a stretch to imagine her lulling a bunch of jungle creatures into a trance-like state.

What do you think of the casting choices? Looking forward to the film? Let us know in the comments.

HT:The Hollywood Reporter

Nerdist Chats with Ari Graynor and Sara Gilbert of CBS’ BAD TEACHER

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by on April 23, 2014

Bad Teacher, the new half hour comedy series based on the Cameron Diaz movie of the same name, premieres on CBS this Thursday, April 24th. Nerdist had a chance to speak with Ari Graynor and her co-star Sara Gilbert to discuss re-imagining the popular film on the small screen, how the show differs from the movie, and what it’s like for the actresses to play a bunch of girls behaving badly.

When I sat down with Ari Graynor, the star and co-producer of the series, I started by asking her if she had seen the 2011 film. “Have not seen the movie. Accidentally didn’t see it and then when I knew this was happening, consciously didn’t see it because this is so its own thing.” Graynor explained, “Cameron’s character and my character have different names, have different backstories, and I was just too worried that I would get in my head and in my own way, and who wants to compare themselves to Cameron Diaz? You’re going to lose that battle.”

Taking a popular movie from the big screen to the small screen is no easy task. What drew Graynor to the project in the first place? ”I think one of the things, not one of the things, the major thing that appealed to me when I read the script after years of saying no to television was really feeling the dearth of female characters in film and TV. There was a recent study that came out and in the top 300 movies in 2013, either 15% or 19% were female protagonists. That is an unbelievably small number, and then [I started] thinking how many of those are any kind of strong women.” Graynor continued, ”[E]specially seeing this role and seeing someone who is so confident and so unapologetic and not a victim and not someone who is sitting in her uncertainty and in her past but taking charge and looking forward and pulling herself up by her boot straps and saying, ‘I’m going to get what I want,’ I think is incredibly important and a fun thing to see… ”

Television alum Sara Gilbert was also happy to get to be a part of a project that was so fearless. Gilbert had seen the film and recalled her excitement to be involved with the adaptation. “I love the way that women get to be the strong, central characters in it,” said Gilbert. “I mean, in my own life I’m always drawn to rule breakers, and I love watching it, I love being around it. I probably have a little bit of a rebellious side, but I’m drawn to people that have even more rebellious.”

Her character doesn’t seem to be much like the actress in real life. Was she at all hesitant about playing a role so far from herself? “I was nervous playing such a heightened character because I don’t usually do that and I didn’t know if it would just look crazy or if it would work, and it’s really fun. I love doing it. I have such a passion for playing something so extreme now. It’s definitely a change and it’s great to get to do both.”

Bad Teacher, starring Ari Graynor, Sara Gilbert, Kristin Davis, Ryan Hansen, David Alan Grier, and Caitlin Kimball premieres  this Thursday, April 24 on CBS.

T.J. Miller Guest Hosts CHELSEA LATELY Like Only He Can

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by on April 23, 2014

Comedian T.J. Miller has so many sides, as you very well may know. There’s his podcast here, Cashing In with Cash Levy, on which he is the only guest, but he’s also a hysterical stand-up comedian and a successful actor, on HBO’s Silicon Valley right now and soon to be seen in Transformers: Age of Extinction.

Another facet of which you might be a little less familiar is as a television host, which he did wonderfully on Chelsea Lately last night. He hosted the unfortunately short-lived Mash Up on Comedy Central and, in a blue demon costume a la Big Trouble in Little China, hosted the awesomely bizarre talk show web series The Gorburger Show. T.J. brought a playful, absurd, and overall delightful voice to hosting in both of those instances, and got to do so in filling in for Chelsea Handler.

On the show, T.J. dressed up like Handler to “see” what a day as Chelsea would be like, and interviewed Wiz Khalifa. Maybe this outing will grab some network executive’s attention like HBO saw John Oliver fill in for Jon Stewart over last summer and give T.J. another hosting gig.

Legendary TV To Adapt EXTINCTION PARADE To Series

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by on April 23, 2014

Max Brooks, author of the hit World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, is kind of a big deal right now, and a new deal with Legendary TV is about to make him bigger: The company has just optioned his comic book Extinction Parade for series adaptation, for which Brooks will be writing the pilot episode. 

“I only brought the idea to one company, Legendary, because they do the kind of quality work of which any writer would be proud,” said Brooks, adding, “while the comic series from Avatar continues, I am thrilled to be working with Legendary to develop Extinction Parade into an innovative new series for television.”

As for the comic about a war between vampires and zombies that has placed mankind on the endangered species list, William Christensen, publisher of Avatar Press, stated, “Max Brooks is a visionary with an incredible ability to tell stories that deliver a fresh approach to the horrors that haunt our nightmares. His work on Extinction Parade has been a stunningly rich tapestry of cultures in decline and a biting indictment of the perils of privilege. It will make the perfect television series to appeal to fans who have until now settled for thinly veiled soap operas parading as horror.”

If there’s one thing Legendary loves, it’s a challenge, and this certainly fits the bill. And based on current track records, there’s no doubt the company will deliver on the small screen just as they have on the big one, especially if Brooks is the one behind the keyboard of the script.