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Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in April 2020

Tom Cruise, The Andromeda Strain, and more are coming to Now Playing Podcast in April 2020.

With movie theaters around the globe shuttered and the COVID-19 pandemic postponing new releases for months, the Now Playing Podcast team has been rearranging its April 2020 (and beyond) schedule in order to keep up with the changes.

The fourth month of 2020 will see Now Playing Podcast debuting its “Viral Outbreak” retrospective, a deep dive into Hollywood’s most memorable pandemic and medical disaster dramas. Part “exposure therapy” and part history lesson, the series will examine the realistic (and often unrealistic) portrayals of virus movies on screen; and kicks off with Elia Kazan’s 1950 noir drama Panic In the Streets. In the weeks ahead, the retrospective will jump from decade to decade, showcasing films such as The Andromeda StrainOutbreak, and Contagion.

While listeners get their “viral” fix on the main feed, Now Playing Podcast will continue its “Tom Cruise: Star of the 80s” retrospective as part of its Spring/Summer 2020 donation drive. Donors at the Gold Level will have already heard reviews of Losin’ It and Risky Business in March; with All the Right Moves arriving on April 3. 

Here’s everything coming to Now Playing Podcast in April 2020.

April 3 – All the Right Moves

Hunky jock Tom Cruise butts heads with curmudgeonly coach Craig T. Nelson while romancing 80s icon Lea Thompson. Need we say more? All the Right Moves hit theaters in 1983 but the legacy lives forever, especially if you pause it just right. At least, that’s what we heard. 

April 7 – Panic in the Streets

Elia Kazan directs the story of a New Orleans community overcome by paranoia (and panic) as a flu-like illness begins to spread. Like many films in the 1950s, there are underlying themes and metaphors woven throughout the production. The film kicks off Now Playing Podcast’s “Viral Outbreak” retrospective. 

April 10 – Legend

Alien director Ridley Scott cast Cruise as the hero of his 1985 fantasy film, which is notable for Tim Curry’s “Lord of Darkness” makeup and its many different cuts. Legend is also notable for being the last Cruise film before Top Gun, when he became Tom Cruise, Movie Star.  

April 14 – The Satan Bug

Loosely based on the novel of the same name, 1965’s The Satan Bug focused on a bioweapon with the potential to wipe out all life on the planet. To tell you anymore would give the plot away!  

April 17 – Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 Cold War satire is one of the most acclaimed films of its era, and the April 17 review arrives courtesy of Now Playing Podcast listener Clark Fisher, who chose the film through the show’s Podbean platform. Although a comedy, Dr. Strangelove’s examination of Cold War paranoia struck several nerves in its day, and still resonates nearly 60 years later. 

April 21 – The Andromeda Strain

Virus movies took a turn into the realm of science fiction with Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain. The 1971 thriller, based off of Crichton’s novel, followed the spread of an alien germ after it attaches to a satellite and crashes in the New Mexico desert. 

April 24 – Top Gun

Crank up the Kenny Loggins, because Now Playing heads to the “Danger Zone” on April 24. Top Guncemented Cruise’s star status when it hit theaters in 1986, and the film’s devoted following paved the way for this year’s sequel – still scheduled to be released on June 24, although the date may change. 

April 28 – Warning Sign

One of the lesser known entries in Now Playing’s “Viral Outbreak” series will surely be 1985’s Warning Sign, which chronicles the release of a biological weapon inside a secret laboratory and the panicked, violent reaction of those inside. The film, which did not make an impact at the box office, stars Sam Waterston, Kathleen Quinlan, Yaphet Kotto, Jeffrey DeMunn, and GW Bailey.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Movies, Now Playing Podcast | , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Hollywood Shuffle: Inside the Now Playing Podcast schedule

We were supposed to be getting Tom Cruise for Christmas. That was the plan anyway, as Now Playing Podcast had circled a December release date for the latest Mission Impossible film. Release dates don’t always stick. In the case of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, the Christopher McQuarrie-directed sequel was scheduled to open Dec. 25, but was moved up nearly five months to July 31.

This is the reason Stuart in LA keeps two schedules – one in Excel and one in his head. The Now Playing Podcast host has been overseeing the show’s calendar for years, arranging and rearranging release dates for its many retrospectives, bonus shows, and the occasional one-and-done flop (Green Lantern, Cowboys and Aliens).

With Now Playing’s Mission Impossible Retrospective Series set to begin on Tuesday, Stuart took a few minutes to chat about the show’s calendar and the ongoing Hollywood shuffle.

Q: What happened with Rogue Nation’s release date?

“My personal belief is that Paramount needed to beat Bond to the screen; 007 taking on Blofeld in November’s Spectre made Rogue Nation look like small potatoes in December. Once it was clear that Bourne 5 wasn’t going to be ready until summer 2016, Cruise pounced on the open July release date. [Rogue Nation] will be on DVD by the time Bond is in theaters. Honestly, our calendar is so full in the second half of the year that we probably wouldn’t have had room to cover Mission Impossible if it had kept its original release date.”

Now Playing Podcast has already announced that its long-awaited Star Wars retrospective will arrive in the later half of the year, and just last week news broke that Now Playing’s 2015 Fall Donation Series would cover the entire Quentin Tarantino catalog, leading up to the release of the director’s The Hateful Eight.

Q: How did you end up in charge of the NPP schedule?

“I actually really enjoy lists. I make a list for everything; what I’m going to do this week, restaurants I want to try, release dates for movies I want to see, albums I want to hear, upcoming concerts, etc. It’s my way of pretending I am in control of a chaotic world, I guess. Doing the NPP schedule is just a logical extension of the way I run my life.”

Q: Because you live and work in Los Angeles, do you have an “inside track” on release dates?

“How I wish that were true! It would be great if the marketing departments from these studios leaked me their release plans early. No, I read it in the trade magazines like everyone else. Box Office Mojo is a great site.”

Q: What’s the craziest last-minute schedule shuffle you’ve had to make?

“A week before we were going to release Blade Runner Universal moved The Adjustment Bureau out of July 2010 and into Valentine’s Day 2011. So we literally had no shows to release. The only things we had in the can were the 8 other Philip K. Dick podcasts. We ended up filling the hole with really random things: the X-Files two-fer, Scott Pilgrim, The Lost Boys trilogy. Back then we also took a few weeks off between series’. That’s something we’d never do now.”

Q: How far ahead is the calendar planned?

“The calendar is set for the rest of the year. I have some very good ideas about what 2016 will look like, and I’m aware of all the continuations to franchises we’ve started coming back in 2017 and beyond. But I try not to get too attached to any plans because they are sandcastles on a very turbulent beach. One release change and it is all gone.”

Much of that future planning involves Now Playing’s Stephen King Retrospective Series, which began with the Carrie reboot in 2013. The hosts plan to review every King adaptation that has made it to the screen, but the end date is still unclear.

Q: How far ahead does the Stephen King retrospective go?

“It has been our hope to tie Stephen King back to another theatrical adaptation at some point. We were all set to sync up the NPP calendar with the release date of It. But now that Cary Fukunaga has walked away from that project, I have no idea when we’ll get to It. That said, it’s nice to have a series that can be broken up into small parts. King allows me to spackle any holes that appear in the calendar. Like, if they suddenly decide to yank Star Wars out of December, there will still be a Shawshank Redemption.”

Now Playing Podcast releases new episodes every Tuesday on its main feed. The 2015 Spring Donation Series – covering the Indiana Jones, WestWorld, Goonies, and Jurassic Park films – runs through July 31.

June 22, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hollywood Shuffle: Inside the Now Playing Podcast schedule

DOUBLE FEATURES: Silent Running & Oblivion

Welcome to Double Features, my monthly column dedicated to reviewing a current theatrical release in tandem with a similar classic movie available on DVD. April finds me wondering if Oblivion, Tom Cruise’s new sci-fi effort, shares some DNA with Silent Running, a 1972 cult item that also features a lone astronaut going rogue to protect Earth’s diminishing natural resources from a destructive enemy.

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Don’t let the G rating, Joan Baez folk songs, or soft-focus opening shots of bunnies and flowers mislead you. Silent Running – the directorial debut of special effects wiz Douglas Trumbull (2001: A Space Odyssey) – is a somber, adult look at future environmental crisis set entirely aboard a greenhouse space station orbiting a deforested Earth. Bruce Dern goes from docile hippie to psychotic eco-warrior when soulless corporate bosses order him to nuke the last living plant and animal specimens and return to a barren planet sustained by their synthetic amenities. We should be on the oppressed gardener’s side, but his insurrection grows too bloody and paranoid for even the most militant animal activist or macrobiotic foodie to endorse.

Perhaps the only empathetic “characters” in Silent Running are a trio of service robots nicknamed Huey, Dewey, and Louie – reprogrammed to be green-thumbed companions after Dern offs his snide human co-workers. Trumbell’s ingenious miniature droid suits are customized to fit double-amputee actors, who bring a humanizing motion to the walking appliances that’s cute even when they’re digging graves. This is the rare environmental message movie that actually celebrates the machine as nature’s ultimate salvation – a techie’s vision of utopia. It remains progressive today, even if much of the rest of Silent Running suffers from outdated concepts and a meandering plot.
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Tom Cruise might hold Bruce Dern’s same custodial occupation on the wasteland of Oblivion, but he’s not going to settle for socializing with a bunch of spherical drones – he wants a hot wife! And not that redheaded nag from his arranged marriage (Andrea Riseborough)… anyone who’s seen Total Recall knows she has ulterior motives for pressing him to spurn Earth for a Saturn moon. No, Cruise dreams of Olga Kurylenko – an enigmatic woman who beckons from repressed memories long before they’re reunited at his secret log cabin tucked inside the last green valley.

The starkest contrast between Silent Running and Oblivion is that Cruise is less preoccupied with rescuing the planet’s ravaged flora and fauna than piecing together his former identity. It’s a self-obsessed journey told largely in cryptic exchanges with coy characters like Morgan Freeman. The mystery unfolds in your head, but never your heart. And once this stooge has finally figured out he’s supposed to be acting like Tom Cruise in a big-budget Hollywood fantasy, many will have grown impatient for some explosions and requisite action.

At best, Silent Running and Oblivion are gentle genre exercises I can only MILDLY RECOMMEND to hardcore science fiction fans thirsting for simple, self-contained stories. Their appeal lies primarily in their visuals.  This is a Double Feature that’s easily wiped from the mind, clones of more iconic movies.

April 29, 2013 Posted by | Movies, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts, Reviews | , , , , , | 2 Comments