And this week hes been getting dragged through it all over again with the premiere Tuesday night of his live-action Fox sitcom Dads, which, in an unfortunate parallel to the Oscars , has been called racist and unfunny. Thats of considerable interest to moviedom. MacFarlane has two big films coming out over the next 20 months: the comedic western A Million Ways to Die In the West, out in May, and Ted 2, the sequel to the Mark Wahlberg blockbuster that shoots next year and will hit theaters in April 2015. West starring an ensemble cast of MacFarlane, Neil Patrick Harris , Sarah Silverman and Dads Giovanni Ribisi is about a sheep farmer, a duel, a criminal and other genre absurdities. Its a big test for MacFarlane, since it takes him deeper into a new territory and much further from the Family Guy-esque comedy hes known for on TV and was able to smuggle into Ted. Having a strike against you leading up to that film won’t help the cause. FALL TV 2013: Watch the trailers Indeed, the biggest problem for MacFarlane on Dads isnt the offensiveness its that, so far, its not bringing the laughs. Regardless of what you think of the so-called edginess the Hitler video-game jokes, the cancer jokes, the Asian-school-girl jokes that will matter a lot more than whether the show sets off taste alarm bells. As Mother Jones said , The real problem does not lie with any ethnic or racial stereotypes, but with the fact that it is unoriginal and often a painfully unfunny, lazy waste of production space.” Or as the Associated Press put it , “The truth is, viewers who celebrate MacFarlane as well as those who revile him should be equally dismayed by ‘Dads.’ It’s just a mediocre multicamera sitcom, complete with formula humor and unearned laughtrack. FULL COVERAGE: Fall TV preview 2013 The fact is, MacFarlanes yet to prove he can pull off true live-action without quippy computer-generated people or animals. As my colleague Scott Collins asked, “Is Seth MacFarlanes Dads the worst-reviewed show of the season?” But heres why the movies probably won’t take a hit. While TV types like to tout the open-ended advantages of the form compared to the constraints of film, in this case MacFarlane will have a lot more freedom working in cinema. Hes one of the rare commercial directors with heavy sway over the final cut. And the 22-minute multicamera sitcom is about as restrictive as it gets; compared to it, a 100-minute feature offers the malleability and creative freedom of a Tolstoy novel. Hes also directing the films, which usually means a more hands-on involvement than executive-producing a TV show. So West may yet be a more interesting effort than Dads. And even if its not, hes heard it before, and yet…. The 2013 Oscars were the highest-rated telecast in several years.
The First In-Flight Movies Had a Live Orchestra
Even more astounding? The film had live orchestral accompaniment. But not in the way you’re probably thinking. No, Imperial didn’t cram the Berlin Philharmonic into stowage, with cellos and cymbals in tow, so that they could awkwardly play along to a movie. This delightfully bizarre experiment in airplane entertainment was achieved with the help of a relatively new technology called radio. The sweeping sounds of a live orchestra were broadcast from the ground to accompany the 1925 silent film The Lost World , a wildly successful adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s dinosaur-filled novel of the same name. The experiment was illustrated in the July 1926 issue of Science and Invention magazine, with a diagram explaining how the landmark A/V feat was achieved. The Berlin Broadcasting Station arranged the orchestra and broadcast the signal, which was received in air by a radio set on the plane. The music played through a single loudspeaker on-board, though we can guess based on the tech of the time that it was incredibly hard to hear over the sound of the aircraft. The magazine also describes how the pilot flew through dense clouds in order to darken the cabin, a necessary step for seeing the movie projection properly since they were flying during the day. Here in the early 21st century we often think of silent movies as just thatsilent. In reality, everything from grand movie palaces to humble showhouses in the 1920s were crackling with noise. There was virtually always music, sometimes in the form of a single pianist, other times with enormous live orchestras .