Abbi Jacobson and Dave Franco Cast in Netflix Heroin Drama

Photo: Wikipedia/ Instagram @davefrancosig

Abbi Jacobson and Dave Franco have been cast in an upcoming drama about the heroin epidemic in middle-class America, according to Vulture.

The film comes from Netflix studios and is written and directed by Marja-Lewis Ryan, and is titled 6 BalloonsIt follows a woman (Jacobson) who notices her brother (Franco) has relapsed into heroin on July 4, while taking care of his 2-year-old daughter. Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle) and Tim Matheson (Animal House) are also set to star.

Ryan has also made headlines for signing on to write and direct the gender-bent remake of Splash, starring Channing Tatum (as a merman) and Jillian Bell.

A release date has yet to be set.

Watch Dave Franco’s Half-Nude PSA Parody

Dave Franco is having a moment.  James’ younger brother is in the oddly likeable 21 Jump Street, is on the cover of GQ‘s April Style Bible, and is continuing to prove he’s a pretty funny guy.  Below, take a look at the hilarious child safety PSA parody he made for Complex.  Why not? If you are at your computer you are probably drunk right now anyway.  Consider this your pot of comedy gold at the end of the St. Patty’s day online video rainbow.

Things James Franco Can’t Do with an iPad 2

The Daily is an iPad-based news publication you may have heard of. A couple weeks ago they did a funny bit on superhuman James Franco, with a related follow-up. The trouble with these bits was that they were too literal; plus, despite the invention of penicillin, I’m confident I could engineer a scenario where Franco would, in fact, contract of and die from syphilis. Note that I wouldn’t wish that upon James Franco! He seems like a fun sort. Even so, there are still many things he simply could not achieve if given an iPad 2, the tablet product update due to be announced next week by Apple.

1. Saw off his arm. Despite a rumored change in the new version’s form factor, the sleek ergonomic contours of the iPad 2 will still make it far too dull to amputate one’s own limbs.

2. Attach multiple sheets of paper together. This core functionality is limited to Apple’s Stapler and is not expected to disseminate to other product lines until at least 2012.

3. Make out with his brother Dave Franco. It’s not weird to find that hot, unless you’re a homophobe! Why are you so prejudiced and evil? Actually it’s a tricky point because incest is still wrong, even otherwise wholesome gay incest, so you really are an offensive person for wanting to see that. Besides, the iPad 2 would just get in the way.

4. Enjoy a full-resolution “retina display” as on the newer iPhones. Sorry James! Looks unlikely for this model. Don’t take it too hard.

5. Explain why the first person he followed when recently joining Twitter was Brett Ratner. There is no joke here.

Auditioning 101 with Dave Franco

When we spoke to Dave Franco last November, it was the night before a huge audition. He claims he wasn’t nervous, and we believed him. He sounded laid-back, like the world wouldn’t end if he didn’t get the part. (Despite no new films on his IMDb page, we sure hope he did.) He reminded us of his older brother James, exuding the confidence of someone who has it all without really trying. The thing is that Dave, like his brother, tries really hard. When he’s not auditioning for movies (a process he says never gets easier), he’s writing screenplays and producing his own web series, about a group of undergrads at USC. Up next, Franco stars in the horror remake Fright Night, where he plays a high school bully alongside Colin Farrell and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Here he is on the brutality of auditioning, escaping his brother’s shadow, and his worst experience on a movie set ever.

Is that the stage of your career, are you going into a ton of auditions right now? Yeah, one thing that’s I’ve learned is that auditioning never gets easier – and sometimes I think about it like this – where you get a script, you spend a couple hours reading the script, you spend a couple hours going over the audition scenes, the next day or so before the audition, you’re running over the lines in your head over and over, you go in for coaching, you drive 45 minutes to the audition, you wait 30 minutes before you go in, you go in for 5 minutes, fuck it up, and go home. It’s a brutal process.

Do you always think you fucked it up? No, I’m being cynical when I say that. But at this point, I’ve been doing this long enough where I know a lot of these casting directors, so I feel a lot more comfortable in these rooms, and I can’t remember the last time where I walked out and messed it up so bad that I just felt embarrassed. But like I said, you put in hours on end working on these audition scenes, and usually you have one chance, and it might not be your day and feel like a big waste of time.

Does your brother help you get ready for auditions? To be honest, we don’t really talk about acting very much. We have a very strong relationship, and we work together very well, but mainly with writing

What is it about a movie that makes you audition for it? When you’re first starting out, you want to go to any audition that comes your way, regardless if you actually like the project. You just want to go out and get the experience and meet everyone you can. At this point, it’s not like I can be the choosiest person in the world, but I can be a bit more selective than when I first started out. Everything really starts with the writing. I’m of the mindset that it’s really hard to make a good movie out of a mediocre script. Recently I’ve been looking for something new. The past few projects I’ve worked on, I keep getting cast as the asshole. I promise I’m a nice guy and not the asshole that everyone keeps seeing.

I know you’re playing an asshole in Fright Night. Are you playing him for laughs? It’s somewhat comedic, but this character has absolutely no redeeming qualities, where you’re just praying for his death the entire time. I guess when I play these parts I definitely try to bring a little of the humor into it, where I make these guys so ridiculous that you can almost laugh at them and not take them too seriously.

Is tonight like any other night, or are you constantly thinking about tomorrow’s audition? I try not to think about it. I’m definitely not going to be going out drinking or anything

Is that something you do? I shouldn’t say that either because I actually don’t go out very much. I’ve become kind of a recluse, it’s bad. Tonight I’ll probably watch a movie and try to distract myself. For this particular project, I’ve been thinking about it for weeks now, and it’s at the back of my head, but I just got to forget about it.

Your brother being who he is, how does that affect your career? In the beginning, he obviously helped me out, which I don’t take for granted, that’s a huge thing. From there I had to prove myself. Nobody’s going to cast me because I’m James Franco’s little brother. Obviously I respect him and I love him, and we get along very well, but I do want to have my own career. I know how different we are, and that I can personally play roles that he wouldn’t necessarily want to play. I don’t want to be linked to him for the rest of my life. Every time someone mentions my name, I don’t want James Franco’s little brother to precede it.

How are you different? That’s a good question. He’s doing a million things. He’s going to school, he’s acting writing, directing, doing all this stuff, which—I’d say I’m a very ambitious person as well—but I love my downtime, I like to relax. I like to work hard and then take a long break and do absolutely nothing, and hang with friends. He’s never not working. He always feels like there’s something to do and I can’t relate to that mindset.

Knowing him as well as you do, is it strange that so many people are fascinated by his work ethic? People ask me about what he’s doing, and at this point there’s just so much that I’ve stopped keeping track, to be honest. But with all that being said, I love to write as well, and I’ve actually been producing and directing a web series that he’s been overseeing, so that’s been a great experience. It’s a web series about college life.

Can you tell me about it? The idea came about because we were thinking of all the TV shows and movies that were made about college, and how there are really only a handful who have gotten it right. For the most part, they’re over the top. Everything is sensationalized, and we figured college is crazy enough as is, let’s just show what really goes on. We wanted to show a very gritty HBO-type look at college life, so we’ve been following around a handful of kids at USC for the semester, and it’s part-documentary, part-reality, part-scripted. It’s called Undergrads. Hopefully we’ll put that up in the next couple of months.

What do you mean by “gritty”? It’s raw and gritty in the sense that it’s all hand-held. It’s scripted in the same kind of way that Curb Your Enthusiasm is scripted. The actors know where they need to go and what needs to happen between point A and point B, but then it’s all improv in between. It feels very real, and there’s people, overlapping dialogue, it’s how these kids actually talk so it’s very realistic.

Tell me about some of the scripts you’ve written. I can’t say that any of them have actually been put into production quite yet, but I’m always working on something. As of late I’ve been writing a lot more shorts, because it’s so difficult to get a feature greenlit or anything like that.

Have you finished school yet? I’ve been three classes away from graduating for a few years now. I was a month away from finishing, and I got a job that took me to Canada, which was great, but it meant that I had to drop all that work that I had done for the entire semester. So it’s hard getting back into another semester, knowing the same thing can happen. I’m definitely going to finish at some point.

If your brother can do it so can you That’s what he keeps saying.

What was this job in Canada? Sadly, that was for the worst experience I’ve had. The project that took me away from school was my worst experience on a project. It was a movie called Bad Meat. It was a B horror movie, and it was kind of cool in a way where it was revisionist, and really gory at points. But we were out in Winnipeg for six weeks, and were staying on what was considered the windiest corner of Canada, which was fun, and it was a very physically demanding shoot, where I dislocated my shoulder, I lost my voice twice from screaming so much, and had bruises all over my body. We had two weeks to go, and I had the day off, and the main girl came to my room and I’m like, What are you doing here, you’re supposed to be on set. And she’s like, Shit’s going down. So we find out that they hadn’t been paying the crew for weeks. Which leads to finding out that they have no money left. So we all go home and we never went back.

Is that a huge regret for you? Not at all. It was still a good experience because it was my first starring role. From there the momentum started.

Check out Dave Franco and this years brightest stars in our 2011 New Regime.

Introducing the 2011 New Regime

For our fourth annual New Regime Portfolio, BlackBook presents an explosive mix of curatorial savants, razor-sharp comedians, genre-defying musical acts, screen saviors, fashion visionaries, literary geniuses, and one of the Glee kids, each of whom would like you to know that, despite global warming, the global financial crisis, and the global embrace of a girl named Snookie, this new year will, in fact, be better than the last. Featuring the likes of Dave Franco, Rosamund Pike, Chiddy Bang, Chris Colfer, Hailee Steinfeld, and more. Click through to see them all.

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ROSAMUND PIKE – THE NEW LEADING LADY

It’s a cold, clear day in London and actor Rosamund Pike has just returned from her morning bike ride. “I made a resolution years ago to be more aware of my body, and it’s really helped to hone my instincts,” she says. Those instincts are responsible for scene-stealing roles in Pride & Prejudice, An Education, and, more recently, Made in Dagenham, for which she won ecstatic reviews as a housewife during the 1968 Ford Motors factory strike in Dagenham, England.

But it’s Pike’s performance in Barney’s Version, an adaptation of Mordecai Richler’s prize-winning novel starring Dustin Hoffman and Paul Giamatti (her love interest in the film), which has finally earned Pike awards season buzz. “It was an incredible challenge for Paul and I to play characters in different phases of love from ages 29 to 60—to find language for that,” she says. “Now I’m going to make sure to wear a lot of miniskirts in public before people get the wrong idea.”

The picture of a patrician English Rose, Pike, 31, is excited about the opportunities she’s had to exhibit range and depth. “An Education was the first film that allowed me to play a villain, but also make people laugh,” she says. “That one opened up a lot of doors.” Among those open doors are a host of roles in upcoming films, including The Big Year, a bird-watching comedy opposite Jack Black and Owen Wilson, and The Sea, a drama with Charlotte Rampling. “I suddenly feel understood,” she says of her recent successes. “I’m like the geek at school who suddenly gets to be friends with the cool kids.” —Cayte Grieve

Photo by Ren Rox; Styling by Hew Hood; Hair by Sophie Chevalier.

Up next: The New Imagist… image

ALEX PRAGER – THE NEW IMAGIST

A Hitchcock blonde in a meringue-colored dress crouches on a roadside embankment. She looks ready to pounce. Or flee. Such is a typical photograph by 30-year-old Angeleno Alex Prager, whose Popsicle-hued prints look like noir thrillers brought to vivid life. A self-trained lenswoman who spent a chunk of her high school years selling knives in Switzerland, Prager was included in MoMA’s seminal “New Photography 2010” show. “I kind of took the side door,” she says of her art-world entrée. “My intention was just to show my pictures. I wanted some feedback.”

Prager doesn’t read reviews of her work (“unless they’re amazing”), but the response to her heavily stylized photographs has been glowing. She’s enlisted actor Bryce Dallas Howard and model Jessica Joffe to star in her short films, and has collaborated on fashion editorials with W and i-D magazines.

Still, hers isn’t the sort of success you can easily begrudge. When she returned to Los Angeles from Europe, Prager worked a string of unenviable jobs at a mall food court, a French Connection boutique, and “a place called Modern Data Products,” she says. “I realized my whole life could be an endless, mundane string of shitty jobs.” It was an encounter with William Eggleston’s work at the Getty Museum when she was 20 that persuaded Prager, instantly and beyond a doubt, to pursue photography.

Over the next seven years, Prager took photographs with and of her friends, largely for kicks. Eventually, her images, like film stills sliced out of a reel, began to be included in group—and later solo—gallery shows. “Because I don’t really know what’s right or wrong, I simply make images that I think are cool, and it so happens that people agree with me right now,” she says. “I want others to like my pictures. If they don’t want to look at them, then everything I’ve done is wasted.” —Megan Conway

Photo by Mark Squires; Styling by Christopher Campbell; Hair by Sarah Sibia @ See Management; Makeup by Min Min Ma @ See Management.

Up next: The New Dreamweaver… image

MARY KATRANTZOU – THE NEW DREAMWEAVER

After winning the prestigious Swiss Textiles Award in November, beating out Adam Kimmel and Jason Wu, fashion designer Mary Katrantzou finds herself in a rather unusual position: She has to spend one tenth of the award’s $137,000 cash prize on Swiss textiles, which, presumably, she’ll use for her fall 2011 collection. But the 27-year-old Greek upstart hasn’t yet decided what her next collection will look like, or how exactly it will feel. “It’s still very early, so nothing is crystallized, but it will be a step forward in many ways,” she says vaguely. With a knowing laugh, she adds, “It’s very difficult to go into details without giving too much away.”

Last September, only a year after graduating from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design, Katrantzou stunned crowds at London Fashion Week with her debut show. Showcasing her imaginative air, she adorned her dresses and separates with dazzling, wildly colorful, digitally generated images of windows, doorways, table settings, and chandeliers. “It all started when, looking at some photos by Guy Bourdin, I realized that the models weren’t wearing fancy dresses. It was the interiors, with their colors and textures, that created the mood,” she says. “So I decided to put the room on the woman rather than the woman in the room.” We’re pretty sure Virginia Woolf would have approved. —Lee Muston

Photo by Mark Squires.

Up next: The New Sex… image

MEN – THE NEW SEX

“I was reading an article about bands that are really hard to find on Google and, of course, we were in it,” says JD Samson, the androgynous frontwoman of Men, a high-energy, experimental dance trio. The brainchild of Samson and her former Le Tigre bandmate Johanna Fateman, Men was initially conceived as a DJ side project, and the name was anything but arbitrary. “Men is very much about gender fluidity,” Samson says. “Johanna and I were in an airport, frustrated, and she said, ‘What would a man do if someone cut him off in line? He’d stand up for himself, like, fuck you.’ That day someone said they wanted us to title our project and we were like, ‘Let’s call ourselves Men.’”

Guitarists Ginger Brooks Takahashi and Michael O’Neill—both recruited from Hirsute, yet another of Samson’s bands— round out the threesome (Fateman and artist Emily Roysdon stay behind the scenes, writing and producing), who have earned accolades for their electronic, guitar-fueled live shows. Three years after first recording together, and while juggling a demanding tour schedule, the members of Men have finally mastered their debut album, Talk About Body. “We’ve all been in different projects,” Samson says, “but this was the perfect group of people to make this record sound exactly the way it needed to sound.”

The lengthy recording process lends their album a pan-genre eclecticism, serving up good-humored social commentary on tracks titled “Credit Card Babies” and “Who Am I to Feel So Free.” Says Samson, “Talk About Body deals with gender expression, queer livelihood, and the way we see the world.” Pausing for a moment, she adds, “It’s not something we necessarily wanted to express—it’s something we needed to express.” —Nadeska Alexis

Photo by Mark Squires; Styling by Christopher Campbell; Hair by Sarah Sibia @ See Management; Makeup by Anthea King @ See Management.

Up next: The New Comedian… image

LENA DUNHAM – THE NEW COMEDIAN

After getting her picture taken, Lena Dunham deflates the pompadour into which her hair was teased, changes back into a sweater she describes as a “Navajo sleeping bag,” and suggests we go for tea. Minty brew in hand, she shares with me her favorite quote: “My mom always says, ‘Problems are relative.’” It’s an adage that applies to the central tension of Tiny Furniture, Dunham’s singular, intimate, and quietly hilarious film about post-collegiate ennui. In the film, which she wrote and directed, she plays Aura Freeman, who, like Dunham, graduates from Oberlin College and returns home to live with her mother (played by Dunham’s mother, artist Laurie Simmons) and sister (played by Dunham’s sister Grace). The contours of the gleaming Tribeca apartment Aura spends her days shuffling around, often without pants, are as difficult to limn as her mother’s scale-defying photographs of tiny furniture.

Her inch-off -the-ground, “femme centric” comedy caught the attention of Judd Apatow, godfather of the sausage fest knee-slapper, who’s producing a pilot Dunham is writing, directing, and starring in for HBO. “People have accused him of having these half-baked female characters,” Dunham says of Apatow. “But I feel like there’s something slightly 2-D about the male characters I write, only because I’m limited by my own experience. Girls want to have their intelligence respected, but they also want to laugh, they want to see bodily fluids—they want all of the things guys want from movies.”

Much has been made of Dunham’s un-Hollywood physique (a comment on a YouTube video Aura posts of herself in a bikini reads, “Ahoy, mateys! Whales ahead!”) and her age (24), but her work draws strength from an almost anticipatory self-awareness of these qualities. “What’s funniest for me is character-driven comedy that comes out of the pain and hilarity of everyday human foibles,” she says. “I have no interest in seeing glamorous people, unless the glamorous person is falling in a puddle.” —MC

Photo by Mark Squires; Styling by Christopher Campbell; Hair by Sarah Sibia @ See Management; Makeup by Nick Barose @ See Management.

Up next: The Next Wild Child… image

COCO SUMNER – THE NEW WILD CHILD

Emerging from the ashes of England’s histrionic music stars—here’s looking at you, Wino—Coco Sumner could be Britpop’s redemptive phoenix. Only she doesn’t see it that way. “I’m just a kid from England who likes working and playing music,” she says, skirting, as she often does, the reality of her privileged upbringing. The daughter of Sting and Trudie Styler, Eliot Paulina Sumner (Coco is her nickname) grew up in the English countryside, playing guitar in her bedroom. “I had a very simple childhood,” she says. “I went to a local school, where I tried to work hard and all that.” At 14, she moved to London and spent time with other musicians, realizing in the process that she wanted to follow in her famous dad’s footsteps.

Early next year, American audiences will get the chance to hear the 20-year-old musician’s debut album, The Constant, which she’ll release under the alias I Blame Coco. The record was met with critical and commercial fanfare when it was released this fall in Europe, where Sumner played sold-out shows and collaborated with Swedish singer-songwriter Robyn, who appears on her first single, “Caesar,” a guitar-heavy anthem of youth and rebellion. Of her songs, she says, “They come from a sad place, but hopefully the music is uplifting.” After a beat, she adds, “I guess my sound could be called dark pop.”

Already a British style icon—much to her bemusement, and perhaps not without a touch of dismay—Sumner, along with supermodels Agyness Deyn and Lily Donaldson, was photographed for a recent Burberry ad campaign, which she insists was “just for money,” although it’s hard to imagine she was ever strapped. It’s obvious within minutes of speaking to Sumner that she’s loathe to indulge in the trappings of a successful music career, interested in neither fame nor frivolity. Sure, she drinks and smokes, and there have been rumors about dalliances with Pete Doherty, but for the most part, Sumner stays out of trouble. “I’ve got a pretty good head on my shoulders,” she says. “Gossip doesn’t really affect me because none of it is true. It’s just made-up bullshit.” —Dana Drori

Photo by Ren Rox; Styling by Kim Howells; Hair by Michael Jones.

Up next: The New Franco… image

DAVE FRANCO – THE NEW FRANCO

Let’s just get it out of the way: Dave Franco is James’ little brother. You first met him playing just that on the satirical Funny or Die web series Acting with James Franco, in which James taught Dave the dark secrets of the dramatic arts. In truth, one might expect the Franco boys to, say, rehearse lines together the night before an audition. One would be wrong. “We don’t really talk about acting very much,” he says. “We have a strong relationship and we work well together, but mainly with writing.”

Franco is strangely calm considering he has a “huge” audition tomorrow. There will be no cramming, no panicking. “I’ll probably watch a movie and try to distract myself,” he says. By now, the 25-year-old actor has been to so many auditions that he knows most casting directors on a first-name basis, and yet he can’t quite figure out why they keep asking him to play assholes. “I don’t even know how to feel about it anymore,” he says. “I’m a nice guy, I promise.”

Nice or not, Franco will up the douche ante next summer in Fright Night, a big-budget remake of the 1985 horror flick, in which he plays a bully so vile, “you’ll be praying for his death,” he says. Fright Night isn’t Franco’s first brush with fake blood. Three classes away from earning a degree at the University of Southern California, he flew to Canada to shoot the unreleased Bad Meat, a B-horror movie he calls the worst experience of his life. “But it was my first starring role,” he says. “The momentum started from there.” He is also writing and directing the web series Undergrads, a gritty, semi-scripted glimpse of life on USC’s campus. “I don’t want to pat myself on the back,” he says, very un-asshole-like, “but I’m really pleased with it.” —Ben Barna

Photo by Juco.

Up next: The New Nureyev… image

BENJAMIN MILLEPIED – THE NEW NUREYEV

Like Baryshnikov before him, Benjamin Millepied is a ballet dancer of foreign extraction whose chassé only serves to deepen his brooding sex appeal. The principal dancer at the New York City Ballet, Millepied (improbably, his name means “1,000 feet” in his native French) is also a celebrated choreographer and would-be renaissance man: when he’s not collaborating with composer Nico Muhly, the scruffy 33-year-old from Bordeaux is staging productions for his own company, Danses Concertantes, updating Swan Lake for Darren Aronofsky, or planning his directorial film debut. “I’m interested in making movies,” he says, and then, almost as an afterthought, “And dancing. And choreography. I’m doing exactly what my heart wants to do.”

Over a patchy, cross-country iPhone connection that makes the natural fits and starts in his conversation a little unsettling, he says, “Ballet is in crisis. Collaborations are key—other artists being fiercely interested in the art of ballet.” Partnering up with Aronofsky, first as the choreographer for the director’s Polanski-like Black Swan, then as an actor (“It was kind of an obvious choice,” he says of becoming the Swan Prince), led him to his most paparazzi-documented pas de deux to date: his ongoing romance with co-star Natalie Portman. “We were quite a team,” he admits. “She was nothing short of extraordinary.” It’s not clear, when asked if they’ll work together again, if Millepied’s chuckling is directed at the difficulties of celebrity romance, his overstuffed calendar, or the question itself. “I don’t know,” he says. “Maybe. We’ll see.” —MC

Photo by Santiago Sierra; Styling by Kemal + Karla @ The Wall Group; Grooming by Jhizet Panosian @ Exclusive Artists; Producer, Cesar Leon.

Up next: The New Overachiever… image

CHRIS COLFER – THE NEW OVERACHIEVER

"Oooooh, how do I answer this one?" says Chris Colfer, the youngest star on FOX’s boundary-pushing, musical number-heavy cultural phenomenon, Glee. The question: If you could put together the playlist for an episode, which artists would you choose to include? “I’d love to do more Lady Gaga songs, and some Abba,” he says, following a considerable pause. “And, knowing me, I’d choose all kinds of theater.” Knowing his fans, that wouldn’t be a problem.

Colfer has garnered considerable praise for his portrayal of Kurt Hummel, an outwardly strong yet inwardly fragile gay teenager navigating the hornet’s nest that is the show’s William McKinley High School in Lima, Ohio. He received a 2010 Emmy nomination for his performance (“I’m still in shock,” he says) and was quickly elevated to bonafide role model-status by Glee’s devout followers. “I never thought I’d play a character who could inspire so many people,” he says. “It’s a good thing I’ve gone through so many of the same things Kurt is going through—I definitely approach his character from a personal place.”

Raised in Clovis, California, the 20-year-old actor has always had one eye on show business. “I grew up doing community theater,” he says. “I was very, very, very active in high school.” The series, Colfer’s first professional acting gig, came quickly. He graduated from high school in June 2008 and started filming that September, which he’s been doing—almost nonstop—ever since. “Glee is very time consuming,” he says. “We don’t get hiatuses like other shows because as soon as we wrap, we go on a music tour.” Although he cares deeply for the show, Colfer isn’t without other goals. “I would love to be the head of a studio one day,” he says, smiling. “But not an evil studio—a really nice one.” —Nicholas Remsen

Photo by Santiago Sierra; Styling by Kemal + Karla @ The Wall Group; Grooming by Jhizet Panosian @ Exclusive Artists; Producer, Cesar Leon.

Up next: The New Poachers… image

CHIDDY BANG – THE NEW POACHERS

Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege (pictured right) never stops writing. “I was in the middle of putting together a verse when you called, so this interview might end up in a song,” says the 20-year-old rapper, who, along with producer Noah “Xaphoon” Beresin, is known professionally as Chiddy Bang. Laughing, he adds, “We’re in the studio cooking something up right now.” When they emerge, Chiddy and Xaphoon will have enough new material to release The Swelly Life, their debut full-length album.

The former Drexel University students spent the majority of their short-lived college careers—they dropped out at the end of their freshman year—fusing together the clever rhymes and eclectic mash-ups that catapulted them well past campus fame. Two mixtapes and an EP have already showcased the duo’s ability to transform indie-rock staples courtesy of Passion Pit, Gorillaz, and MGMT—whose "Kids” provided the template for their breakout single “Opposite of Adults”—into progressive hip-hop with mass appeal.

Chiddy Bang broke into the mainstream this fall with the release of their second EP, The Preview, which featured an original head-banger co-produced by Xaphoon and hit-magnet Pharrell Williams. Still, despite its success, they have no desire to stray too far from the samples that launched their careers. “We’re going to take sampling to the next level,” Chiddy says of their new material. “People identified with us early on because of the weird samples that we chose. That brought us to where we are now, so we’re going to perfect the original recipe and add some sprinkles to it. After getting the rights to use all of those songs, we probably won’t make any money from the album, but who cares? We just love the music.” —NA

Photo by Ren Rox.

Up next: The New Solo Artist… image

OH LAND – THE NEW SOLO ARTIST

Ten years ago, 25-year-old electro-pop artist Oh Land moved out of her parents’ home in Copenhagen and relocated to a house in the Swedish forest. She wasn’t alone—an elderly couple and their dog lived upstairs—but she wishes she had been. “I was a hopeless romantic, and I thought there was something amazing about being that deserted,” she says.

Oh Land, born Nanna Øland Fabricius, seemed destined for center stage as a ballerina; her woodsy dwelling was 90 minutes outside of Stockholm, where she studied at the Royal Swedish Ballet School. The art form consumed her. “You get sucked into this world and you can’t see anything else,” she says. “I imagine it’s a bit like Scientology.” Then, at 18, she suffered a career-ending back injury. “It was tragic because I thought I was destined to do something,” she says, “And, suddenly, I found out I wasn’t.”

She took the one component of professional dance that doesn’t involve masochism—music—and, without any professional training, despite having been raised by an opera singer mother and an organist father, began to teach herself to play piano. “It was for me how Nintendo is for most kids,” she says. “I knew everything about the feeling of it, but I didn’t know the notes.” She began peppering her music with everyday sounds, recording the chime of bike bells and crunching snow.

Her melodies written, all Oh Land needed was a voice. “I had this idea that singers needed to sound like Beyoncé, and I didn’t sound like that,” she says, acknowledging her initial hesitation to sing herself. Still, these were her stories and she wanted to tell them, and, as it turns out, Oh Land has a beautiful, airy voice. She fashioned a collection of tracks into her self-titled EP (a full-length album is due in early 2011), which Oh Land released after moving to New York, a city where you can always manage to feel alone. —BB

Photo by Mark Squires; Styling by Christopher Campbell; Hair by Sarah Sibia @ See Management; Makeup by Anthea King @ See Management.

 

Up next: The New Ingenue… image

HAILEE STEINFELD – THE NEW INGENUE

“It feels like I just won the lottery,” says Hailee Steinfeld, describing what it’s like to be the young lead in the Coen Brothers’ latest square-jawed Western, True Grit. “It feels like that one-in-a-million kind of opportunity.” It’s actually closer to one-in-15,000, the number of girls with whom Joel and Ethan Coen reportedly met before selecting Steinfeld for the role of Mattie Ross, the plucky tween who enlists the help of a boozy marshal (Jeff Bridges) to hunt down her father’s killer (Josh Brolin).

The 14-year-old home-schooled Los Angeles native appreciates the rarity of her situation. “I assumed that I’d be doing a few shorts and some guest-starring, and that I would work my way up,” she says. “Instead, I’ve gone from A to Z.” When asked who her acting role models might be, Steinfeld doesn’t say Meryl Streep or Jodie Foster. Instead, she says, “I have a cousin who is two years older than me. She was doing Barbie commercials back when that was absolutely all I was into.” My, how time flies. —BB

Photo by Santiago Sierra; Styling by Kemal + Karla @ The Wall Group; Grooming by Jhizet Panosian @ Exclusive Artists; Hair by Alex Polollp; Makeup by Stephen Sollitto; Producer, Cesar Leon.

Up Next: The New Butcher… image

NOAH BERNAMOFF – THE NEW BUTCHER

Whatever you do, don’t complain to Noah Bernamoff about the lack of free pickles at Mile End. “It drives me nuts,” says the 28-year-old Canadian, who opened the Montreal-style Jewish delicatessen in Brooklyn a year ago. He believes that the expectation of a bowl of free pickles on every table—along with $16 behemoth sandwiches that only a sumo wrestler could finish—epitomizes everything that went wrong with Jewish delis in New York over the past few decades. They used to be specialized, he says: some were known for pastrami, others for hot dogs, and others still for chicken soup. But as they began to disappear in the latter half of the 20th century, the delis left standing felt obliged to offer a bit of everything, serving mediocre versions of “every Jewish soup, every Jewish meat, every side dish.”

What Bernamoff, who dropped out of law school to open Mile End, lacks in formal training (“I hadn’t even worked in a restaurant prior to this,” he says), he more than makes up for in passion for the cuisine of his youth. Chief among Mile End’s specialties is smoked meat, which is a specific type of pastrami popular in Montreal. Bernamoff and his staff prepare pounds of the delicious flesh every day, rubbing it with spices and slowly smoking it until it attains greasy perfection, at which point it’s hand carved and served with mustard on rye bread.

The restaurant has garnered significant praise since it opened last January, attracting a cool clientele that includes Paul Dano and Anne Hathaway, and even unseating longtime favorite Barney Greengrass to become Zagat’s favorite deli in the city. But it’s not without detractors, which brings us back to the pickles. “We make them ourselves,” he says wearily. “If people understood the time, patience, and skill it takes to make these things, they’d know why we charge six or seven dollars for a plate of assorted pickles.” Seriously, though, how much vitriol could pickles possibly elicit? “You’d be surprised.” —Victor Ozols

Photo by Alexander Wagner; Grooming by Sarah Sibia @ See Management.

Up next: The New Raconteur… image

DAVID BEZMOZGIS – THE NEW RACONTEUR

The characters in David Bezmozgis’ stories are a lot like you—that is, if you’re a cousin-humping, weed-dealing, Latvian-Canadian teenager. But the author, who is only some of these things, describes emotions and experiences to which all readers can relate, regardless of age or ethnicity. Using sparse yet evocative language, he conveys joy, pain, curiosity, embarrassment, boredom, and alienation, all the while underscoring one universal truth: you are not alone.

Bezmozgis entered the literary scene in 2004 with the publication of Natasha and Other Stories, which was inspired by his childhood in Toronto, where he moved at the age of 7 after emigrating from Riga—along with thousands of other Soviet Jews—in 1980. Since Natasha and the critical acclaim that followed, he’s continued to sharpen his voice with more short fiction, as well as 2009’s Victoria Day, a feature film he wrote and directed about one teen’s experiences with love and death.

This April, he’ll release his debut novel, The Free World, which chronicles the lives of a family of Latvian émigrés who find themselves in the visa processing centers of Rome in 1978. Intrigued by the slippery concept of identity, especially as it pertains to immigrants, Bezmozgis says, “It’s more of a theme in North America, because we have the luxury of figuring out who we want to be. If you’re Latvian, that’s great, nobody minds, and if you want to feel completely American, that’s fine, too. Back in the Soviet Union, identity wasn’t a choice.” The bewilderment felt by a formerly oppressed people upon tasting freedom for the first time provides fertile ground for the 37-year-old writer. “It’s fascinating to immerse yourself in a culture where the rules are different,” he says. “But we all want the same things: love, friendship, and some sense of what we’re supposed to do in the world.” —VO

Photo by Mark Squires; Styling by Christopher Campbell; Hair by Sarah Sibia @ See Management; Makeup by Min Min Ma @ See Management.

Up next: The New Gallerists… image

MEGHAN COLEMAN & KATHY GRAYSON – THE NEW GALLERISTS

Last June, when Jeffrey Deitch shuttered his multi-borough art empire, Deitch Projects, to take over the directorship of LA’s MoCA, a giant vortex opened into which all things gritty, challenging, and—dare we say—cool about the downtown New York art scene disappeared. Now, two former Projects directors, Meghan Coleman (pictured left) and Kathy Grayson, are attempting to stop the cultural outflow with their Greene Street gallery, the Hole. “We liked the idea of filling that hole with the Hole,” says Grayson. “The world doesn’t need another Chelsea gallery—it needs something weird and different.”

To Deitch, Grayson brought a roster of artists—Dan Colen, Terence Koh, and the late Dash Snow, among others—who now define the streets-inspired, druggy undercurrent of the contemporary art scene. “For every show I did at Deitch, there were five shows I wanted to do,” says Grayson, who would rather support “a group of kids who live in Virginia Beach making thrift-store junk piles and pop paintings” than “the most recent Yale graduate who makes conceptual sculpture.”

The Hole’s first exhibition, “Not Quite Open for Business,” went up just six weeks after Coleman and Grayson got the keys to their new space. It displayed works in various phases of completion in the still-unfinished gallery rooms, which stack behind each other like a Greenpoint shotgun apartment. Grayson explains, “If you want to change the art world, you have to open a gallery or inherit ten million dollars. We wanted to have an impact on the community.”

Grayson notices a Dearraindrop painting hanging in the café at the back of the gallery with an inky dribble darkening its seizure-inducing stripes. Taking her sleeve, she daubs at the stain. “It’s okay,” she says. “It comes off with a little spit.” —MC

Photo by Alexander Wagner; Hair and makeup by William Murphy.

Up next: The New Culturalist… image

SIKI IM – THE NEW CULTURALIST

Before entering the world of men’s fashion, designer Siki Im was an architect, but he’s had no trouble reconciling those seemingly disparate career paths. “The interior of a garment is just as important as its exterior, and the same can be said for a building,” he says. In 2009, after working as a senior designer at Helmut Lang and Karl Lagerfeld, Im decided to strike out with a label of his own. “I have very little support now and I have to fight for everything, but it’s good to have freedom.”

Im’s diverse background probably accounts for his eclectic fashion references: Arab keffiyehs, Japanese kimonos, Scottish kilts. The 32-year-old Oxford University graduate was raised by Korean parents in Cologne, Germany, and now works in Manhattan, where he has lived since 2001. Im says his forthcoming collection was inspired by American history—it’s unclear if that means Bill the Butcher toppers, Geronimo scarves, or Eisenhower-era suits. “Eventually,” he says, “I want to get back into architecture, but right now, this is the medium I’m using to express myself.” No matter which route he takes, Im, already an Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Men’s Award winner, will go the distance. —LM

Photo by Mark Squires; Grooming by Min Min Ma @ See Management.

Up next: The New Riot Grrrls image

THE SUZAN – THE NEW RIOT GRRRLS

A great woman once sang, “Girls just want to have fun,” and although she probably didn’t realize it at the time, she was talking about The Suzan, a bouncy rock-pop quartet from Tokyo. Sisters Rie and Saori, along with their friends Nico and Ikue—four ebullient Japanese twenty-somethings—have already achieved stateside success as the Suzan, a feat that eludes many of their country’s most popular artists. Not coincidentally, the band, which formed in 2004, eschews the ringtone-ready pop sounds that dominate Japanese airwaves. “J-pop sucks,” Saori says, her bandmates nodding in unison. “It’s so boring.”

The Suzan’s American debut, Golden Week for the Poco Poco Beat, has no shortage of melodic surprises. It draws on disparate in influences—in the words of its makers, “hip-hop, jazz, and African”—creating a sound tailor-made for a Tarantino flick. It was this eclecticism that convinced Bjorn Yttling (of Swedish pop maestros Peter Bjorn and John) to produce the album. Recorded over two weeks in Stockholm, the Suzan’s new favorite city, Poco Poco Beat is fast, frivolous, and all kinds of fun. Their sound, they say, evokes images of “tropical delight dancing.”

It’s the “dancing” part that caught the attention of Fool’s Gold, the Brooklyn-based label that made The Suzan their first rock act on a roster stacked with DJs and MCs. This October, they played a Fool’s Gold showcase at the CMJ Music Marathon, where Kanye West made a surprise appearance. The ladies, who released a cover of West’s “Paranoid,” were able to meet their idol—one of many—and while he admitted to not having heard their version, “He told us he really loves Tokyo!” Ikue says. Then they all burst into high-pitched laughter. —BB

Photo by Mark Squires; Styling by Christopher Campbell; Hair by Sarah Sibia @ See Management; Makeup by Anthea King @ See Management.

Dave Franco on Watching His Brother Cut His Arm Off

You may have heard that in 127 Hours, opening today, James Franco performs an act of self-mutilation so grisly and intense that people have been passing out, vomiting, and having seizures in theaters. We saw the scene (behind partially covered eyes) in which Franco, as real-life outdoorsman Aron Ralston, breaks and then cuts his own arm off with a dull blade–and it’s the most graphic thing you’re likely to see in a non-horror movie. But what’s it like when it’s your older brother up on that screen, pretending to sever his limb? We spoke to James’ younger brother Dave to find out.

The younger Franco, who you may recall from these Funny or Die videos or the last season of Scrubs, knows a thing or two about gore: He’s got a role in next year’s remake of Fright Night, which he told us is a hard R. “I’m not trying to be a badass, but in general I can take lot of gore and I can watch pretty gruesome things without being affected too much,” he said.

But 127 Hours is not gratuitous blood and guts. By the time Franco’s character commits the act, the audience is heavily invested in his fate, even though they already know it. Dave Franco, for one, was affected. “For some reason in this movie, you go through this whole journey with this one guy stuck in this hole, and by the time he’s cutting his arm off, you feel like you’re cutting your own damn arm off. My whole body started to get hot, and you start losing your breath a little.” Even if the guy on the screen is the same guy who used to give you wedgies? “I think at this point, for the most part I can remove myself from it and watch it from an objective point of view. But there are times in every movie of his where I see a little bit of his true self come through, and I can just have a chuckle to myself.”