Today in ‘Arrested Development’ Hype: Tobias’ Sizzle Reel

It’s not like Netflix really needs to do anything to promote the upcoming new season of Arrested Development, which is now just a little more than a week away, but they’re certainly pulling out all the stops. In addition to trailers and all sorts of promos on Netflix and around the Internet, a real-life Bluth’s frozen banana stand has appeared in major cities like New York and London, and even featured a banana stand menu featuring other iconic AD food items like the Skip’s Scramble and Cloudmir Vodka. It’s all a bit exhausting, really. 

And now, for funsies, Netlfix has added Insert Me Anywhere, the newest venture from former blue man and licensed analrapist Dr. Tobias Fünke. Tobias presents his greenscreen sizzle reel to director James Cameron, whose movies he has all seen (except for Avatar, Titanic and the Terminator series). Anyone can replace the green screen and add an extra dose of Tobias into their next summer blockbuster, student film or bad PhotoShop. There are all kinds of Tobias to be had that fans of the show might recognize, from the "Big Man on Campus" to "Motorcycle Ruffian," in which he enthusiastically waves at his fellow gang members, twists the old hog handles and dons the "leather daddy" outfit from AD. Check it out and see which Tobias is right for you and your next project.. 

Michael Bay Apologizes for ‘Armageddon’ for Some Reason

Usually, it takes a true cinematic nuclear meltdown disaster to get a filmmaker to apologize for their work. Like, Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin—you know, the one with the Bat-Nipples—level disaster. For which Schumacher actually did apologize. But directors, generally, aren’t expected to apologize for even their worst errors, especially those who critics typically pigeonhole as makers of bad movies. Which is why it was so surprising that, in an interview promoting his new film Pain & Gain, Michael Bay, he of the Transformers franchise, offered a mea culpa to fans of one of his most, erm, classic films.

As the man himself told the Miami Herald:

“I will apologize for Armageddon, because we had to do the whole movie in 16 weeks. It was a massive undertaking. That was not fair to the movie. I would redo the entire third act if I could. But the studio literally took the movie away from us. It was terrible. My visual effects supervisor had a nervous breakdown, so I had to be in charge of that. I called James Cameron and asked ‘What do you do when you’re doing all the effects yourself?’ But the movie did fine.”

Michael, Michael. It’s okay, dude. You don’t need to apologize for Armageddon. We get it, the explosions weren’t quite up to your standards and you had to fight with Deep Impact for attention (Deep Impact did have Morgan Freeman but yes, Armageddon is somehow still better than Deep Impact). Yes, it’s a bad movie, but it almost veers into so-bad-it’s-good territory and you know what? Lots of people genuinely love Armageddon. I have seen it unironically front and center amongst the DVD collections of various Chicago apartment-dwellers. People actually liked it. Just as some people genuinely love all your movies (and people other than adolescent boys, too), even the ones that were way, way worse than Armageddon. People still like lots of movies that are bad. And if you’re going to apologize for shoddy work, Armageddon is, like, the last one you should be apologizing for. Steven Tyler would probably agree.

Good Luck With That: Australian Billionaire Sets Out to Replicate Titanic

Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the maiden voyage and subsequent tragic sinking of the Titanic, as well as the 15th anniversary of the very expensive and overrated movie that was made about it. So maybe Australian billionaire Clive Palmer was waiting for the tactful reflection period about the great nautical tragedy to end by waiting until 2013 to move forward with his plans to build a 21st-century replica of the great ship, or maybe he missed a great branding opportunity.

Either way, the ship, which may cost upwards of $200 million to build and a whole lot of power at its future construction site in Nanjing, China, is attracting quite a lot of attention from ship-heads. Palmer says he’s received bids from people to pay more than $1 million to be a part of the ship’s maiden voyage. ($2 million if they can have a private “draw me like one of your French girls” session and then have sex in the Renault in the hold.) And hey, at least with modern technology and the effects of global climate change, this voyage should pan out to be pretty iceberg-free! But will the boat sink under the hubris of this crazy idea? That remains to be seen.

In other ill-advised cruise ship news, yesterday, sensitive ‘90s alt-adult-contemporary bros Matchbox Twenty announced their Matchbox Twenty Cruise, which will travel from Miami to Nassau on the Carnival Imagination. Because the optimal time to announce your partnership with a cruise ship company is days after its worst PR nightmare ever, a nightmare so bad that all the headlines about it literally led with the word “nightmare.” “I know what will take people’s minds off of this disaster where people were stranded and using bags as toilets! Announcing an extra-special voyage with Rob Thomas!” Hey, some people might go for it. 

Imagine If The Oscars Actually Mattered

I’m stretching plausibility here, but really: What would such a world look like? Maybe whoever won best director would be “retired” from filmmaking—the way they don’t let anyone in the NHL wear Wayne Gretsky’s number anymore. That way we get rid of the James Camerons and hold on to the Alfred Hitchcocks.

The host is always under a lot of pressure to be manic but still warm, edgy yet politically correct, hilarious with a hint of gravitas. Which means that traditionally, they fail in miserable fashion. Why not give the original host a half-hour grace period before the audience at home is allowed to vote them out via text message? Then you can bring on some unknown replacement comedian: either it’s his big break, or you vote him/her off the show as well.

There’s so much else that can be done to give this award ceremony a sense of meaning. Door prizes, for instance. Also, under each seat should be a basket of tomatoes with which to pelt losing nominees so that they end up having to pay for the formalwear they borrowed. Finally, I envision a big countdown clock on stage. When four hours are up, a swarm of aggravated wasps is released into the theatre. That would be worth staying up for.

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‘MythBusters’ Takes on the Eternal ‘Titanic’ Question

This headline is probably a bit misleading, as the eternal Titanic question (which has been answered by SCIENCE!) is probably how an “unsinkable” ship was able to sink on its maiden voyage. But the question to which we are referring, of course, is the one of the 1997 film Titanic, and whether or not Jack and Rose could have both fit on that plank and survived. In a rather fitting twist, considering Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman’s ‘staches would likely have been fairly at home in the pre-WWI era, the duo from MythBusters devoted a segment with some hard-hitting experimentation to the question that has plagued fans of the movies for the past 15 years. Children of the ‘90s, your answer awaits.

What they found was that, indeed, Leo DiCaprio did not have to become a human Freezy-Pop, but their rescue would have required a working knowledge of flotation devices. There was certainly room for both of them on the board, but they could only survive if they had been able to tie Rose’s life jacket to the bottom of the board to boost its buoyancy, otherwise their weight would lead to sinking and them both dying of hypothermia. The experiment involved several intense hypothermia tests involving a “Jack” dummy and a Special Guest Appearance from James Cameron.

So, there you go. There’s your answer. So now, to the apparently many fans who are still sending James Cameron hate mail about the outcome, at least now you have a point of contention proved by the powers of SCIENCE! 

South Africa Gets the Blues with ‘Avatar’ Nightclub

Well, color us a Na’vi shade of bright blue: there is now an Avatar-themed nightclub opening in Rivonia, South Africa’s version of Sin City.

Cleverly named “Avastar” by club owner-slash-wannabe-mobster Mike Basson, the club features luminescent wallpaper of nearly naked Na’vi, imitation tree-of-life optic fiber chandeliers and, of course, Avatar-themed drinks. A Neytiri-tini on the rocks, anyone?

And it gets classier: the club’s opening was heralded by none other than the David Hasselhoff himself. Oh Hoff, when will you ever learn that Pandora Patrón and cheeseburgers just don’t mix? It’s a wonder the club hasn’t been slapped with a lawsuit-happy James Cameron yet, considering all Basson really did to change the look of his club’s logo was to make the pupil of the Na’vi eye a star-shape.

All aboard the PleasureKraft! After all, what happens in Avastar stays in Avastar!

Linkage: James Cameron Looking For A Pandora Of His Own

From the depths of the ocean to the outer reaches of the atmosphere, James Cameron is truly embracing a life with no bounds. With a little help from Google, the Avatar director is working on a space venture, Planetary Resources, that will “overlay two critical sectors — space exploration and natural resources — to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP” and “help ensure humanity’s prosperity.” Because there must be a Pandora out there… [Mashable]

Do you spend your Sunday nights flipping between Mad Men and Good Wife and Girls and, oh no, does Veep start tonight? According to the New York Times, you are not alone. Rather, you might be a part of the "43 percent," the portion of America suffering from too much good television on Sunday nights and not enough DVR space. [NYT]

Carrie Mulligan and Mumford & Sons’ Marcus Mumford made things official over the weekend, quietly tying the knot in the English countryside in the company of Sienna Miller, Colin Firth and Jake Gyllenhaal. For some reason, though, the rest of Mumford’s bandmates were not invited. [E!]

After four weeks atop the box office, Hunger Games has been routed by unexpectdly well performing the Kevin Hart led adation of Steve Harvey’s self-help book, Think Like A Man. [ArtsBeat

Ducked out of the music game for a minute now, Conor Oberst is working on opening a cocktail lounge called The Pageturners Lounge in an old bookstore in Omaha.  [NME]

Rick Ross had a brush with the nautical authorities this weekend when Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission pulled him over in his yacht, from which the smell of weed was reportedly wafting. [TMZ]

Afternoon Links: Ai Weiwei Sets Up Live Webcams, Mary J. Blige Commercial Pulled

● Ai Weiwei has installed four live webcams in his Beijing home — including one over his bed and two at his desk — as a nod to the 24-hour police surveillance he has been subjected to since his detention last year. [ArtsBeat]

● In Glamour this month, Lauren Conrad claims that, ever since someone "zoomed in" on her cellulite years ago, she has been "just petrified" of wearing a bathing suit in public. "It was so mean," she says. [Us]

● Noted astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson has for years been bothered by the inaccurate star-map used in Titanic‘s climactic scene, so for the 3D go-around, James Cameron changed it. "So I said, ‘All right, you son of a bitch, send me the right stars for the exact time, 4:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912, and I’ll put it in the movie,’" Cameron said. "So that’s the one shot that has been changed." [HuffPost]

● David Byrne and Will Oldham have teamed up as the Pieces of Shit — a title which no one would endue the two — for the This Must Be the Place soundtrack. [Pitchfork]

● Mary J. Blige’s commercial for Burger King chicken snack wraps ("Crispy chicken, fresh lettuce, three cheeses, ranch dressing wrapped up in a tasty, flour tortilla," she’ll tell you to the tune of her “Don’t Mind”) already seems to have been pulled from YouTube. [Gawker]

● Nick Cannon has begun documenting his recent health troubles with an online series called the NCredible Health Hustle. "Hoping this series serves as inspiration for anyone dealing with kidney disease, lupus or ANY ILLNESS to keep pushing as well," he says. [People]

Video Recounts Journey to the Bottom of the Mariana Trench, Launches New Trend

As a kid, I was fascinated by the earth’s extremes, and one place captivated me more than any other: the deepest point in the ocean. As my science textbooks informed me, you can’t go any deeper than the Mariana Trench, which lies in the Pacific Ocean not far from Guam. One piece of trivia always stuck in my head: If you drop a cannonball over the side of a boat positioned above the trench, it will take 45 minutes for it to reach the bottom. Amazing. Fast forward to 2005, when I had the chance to interview Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard, who, along with American Lt. Don Walsh, descended to the bottom of the trench back in 1960 in a bathyscaphe (“deep boat”) called Trieste, a feat that hasn’t been repeated since. Unfortunately, the story never made it into print.

When Piccard died in 2008, I posted the interview transcript on my personal blog as a tribute. A young film maker in Germany named Roman Wolter read the interview and contacted me, asking for the recording so he could use it in a short film he was making. I found the microcassette in my junk drawer and mailed it to him, and he just recently completed the video, which is entitled Mariana. Sunday was the 51st anniversary of Piccard and Walsh’s dive, so Roman’s timing couldn’t have been better. Check it out.

Mariana from Roman Wolter on Vimeo.

Furthermore, it seems as though the ocean floor is a hot topic right now. Just hours after the video was posted on Wired, an English DJ and producer named Dave Twomey, who performs under the moniker Tr nch, got in touch with me to use some of the audio for a music project he’s doing in Japan that’s inspired by the Mariana Trench.

Yesterday, the papers were filled with stories about how director James Cameron plans to return to the Challenger Deep – the deepest part of the trench, where Piccard and Walsh touched down – to capture some footage for the sequel to Avatar.

So, German short films, English/Japanese techno mixes, Avatar sequels — where will the Mariana Trench show up next? In any case, I’m glad the interview is finally seeing the light of day, even though I’m not making a dime off it.