Angry Birdsthe movie is coming, and it's coming in 3-D. The question is, how relevant will the addictive slingshot-pig-avian formula be in three years (the planned release date is July 2016)? Seven years after the birds were released into the tropical habitat of iOS, they'll probably be more cranky than angry. You'll shoot them at targets and they'll just do a gripe-'n'-flop, breaking their hips when they land. I just want a 3-D feature about the happy Australian breastwhale. And I want it immediately.
Looking back, it was easy to spot the signs. It started with the wild binging on the first-run rights to Hollywood movies, an exercise in quality-irrelevant hoarding not seen since Billy Bob and his terrifying tsunami of plastic toys. Then there was the subtle transition of the little-watched Fox Movie Channel to the marginally more-watched FXM. Finally, in January, Broadcasting & Cable spilled the rest of the unverified beans: FX was considering splitting itself into two, an act of media mitosis that would potentially segregate the network's comedy from its drama and leave its best show — the hilariously sad Louie — in genre limbo.
I should have known better than to assume that FX president John Landgraf — the man who empowered Louis C.K. with a six-figure check and a Steadicam in the first place — would ever do anything quite so timid. This morning in Manhattan, in addition to unveiling a new network slogan borrowed from the applications to be Ryan Murphy's assistant ("Fearless"), Landgraf confirmed the scuttlebutt: A new channel, FXX, will debut this September, with a focus on the much-coveted 18-34-year-old demographic. As expected, fratty stalwarts It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The League will migrate to the new network (both were also renewed through 2014) along with a second season of Legit and the pleasantly surprising Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell, which will be expanded to five nights a week. But Landgraf went to great lengths to explain how this split differs from the two established models for multiplicity in broadcasting, the "plex" strategy used by the hundreds of HBOs and Showtimes and the "sister/lovers" policy Turner employs with its temperamentally distinct offspring TNT (drama) and TBS (comedy).
There was a time, in a more analog era, when the phrase "I laughed, I cried" was considered the highest of praise (especially if the work in question also happened to be better than Cats). But in an increasingly subdivided media landscape, one in which niche narrowcasting is the order of the day, networks are increasingly trying to make you do either one or the other. Late yesterday, news broke that FX was considering undergoing the television equivalent of a schizophrenic break and splitting itself into two distinct networks, each targeting a different sentiment. One, FX prime (or FX Classic, or Locutus of Borg), would continue to broadcast its signature envelope-pushing (and tongue-swallowing) dramas like Sons of Anarchy and Justified. The other, a new, comedy-and-youth-focused channel, potentially ready to launch this fall, would rather unimaginatively be called FXX. (I assume FX2 was taken out of consideration because Brian Dennhey's quote was too high.) FXX would be built around FX's existing stash box of successful, lowbrow (and lower budget) sitcoms like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The League, as well as the outrageous backlog of Hollywood movies the network has been gobbling up over the past two years like Garfield let loose at a lasagna factory.
The stars of AMC shows that aren't Walking Dead are getting their piece of the zombie action: Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston is negotiating to join the already cast Mireille Enos (The Killing) and James Badge Dale (Rubicon) in Marc Forster's World War Z, the Brad Pitt-starring adaptation of Max Brooks' zombie-apocalypse novel. Not much is known yet about the role Cranston would play, except that it's "small but flashy." Translation: He will play zombie food. Grade: A [HR]
As if Batman didn't already have enough loathsome villains to deal with in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises, Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers shot a scene for the movie on Saturday. Grade: C [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]