WGN's witchy new drama 'Salem' premiered this past Sunday with impressive ratings, though the pilot was only the beginning for producers Brannon Braga and David Von Ancken. We visited the set last month for the inside scoop and spoke with the cast on the sinful secrets of their characters, but what do Braga, Von Ancken and set designer Seth Reed have to say of their inspiration for 'Salem,' as well as what we can expect from its future?
Last night saw the witchy debut of WGN's first original scripted series, 'Salem,' a supernatural new take on the infamous Salem witch trials from '24' producer Brannon Braga. We visited the spooky set to uncover all manner of details on the productions, also getting the sinful details from cast members Shane West, Janet Montgomery, 'Arrow''s Seth Gabel and more!
It's obvious, even from her facial expressions, that Abby Elliott still has mixed feelings about her time on 'SNL.' Which seems like a completely normal reaction, considering how all-encompassing the demands of that show can be for be anyone, especially someone like Elliott, who had almost four full seasons (she joined the cast for the eighth show of the 2008-2009 season) on the show, and was then not brought back for a fifth.
It was an exceptionally seasonable March afternoon in Louisiana that a group of reporters piled into a bus headed through rural Louisiana toward the exterior 'Salem' set in Grand Cane, located in a farmland forest that entirely concealed the grandeur within. Mind you, I’d never been on an exterior set visit for such an elaborate period drama, let alone one that constructed a working town of 25 exterior buildings (and 13 custom interiors) against the backdrop of a scenic lake, which itself we’re told would be digitally expanded to better emulate the Massachusetts coast.
WGN America’s ‘Salem’ will hit the tubes this weekend as the network’s first original scripted drama, and, more now than ever, I remember the quick response director David Von Ancken ('Hell On Wheels') gave during an on-set interview for ‘Salem,' as I asked what message the network intended to convey with such a bold choice for its first original. “We’ve arrived,” he shot back, a phrase I’d repeat multiple times throughout the weekend.
The remarkable thing about 'Bears' is that it’s easy to forget that, yes, human beings had to shoot this intimate footage. It just all seems so personal, and it doesn’t seem possible that any of what we’re watching on screen could happen with the presence of humans anywhere nearby.
Filmed in the summer of 2013, 'Bears' tells the story of Skye, a mother of two young cubs – Scout and Amber – and her efforts to keep those two cubs alive over the course of a year. We are told (by the narrator, John C. Reilly) that many cubs do not live to see their first birthday, then we see why, as Scout and Amber are endangered by wolves, other hungry bears, and the natural elements of their surroundings.
But how in the world is this footage obtained? This isn’t just, “look, here’s a bear” – 'Bears,' instead, tells a narrative where the footage is purposely made to feel personal, and that the animals we are watching become actual characters. We spoke to co-director Alastair Fothergill, who explains how this process unfolds and how far he and his co-director Keith Scholey would stay with this project if, let’s say, the worst were to happen to one of the extremely cute animals we are so invested in watching.
‘Oculus’ – one of the scariest movies you’ll see this year – opens in theaters this Friday and to help get you excited, we have Part 2 of our interview with star Karen Gillan. We met with Gillan shortly after the film’s premiere at SXSW to talk a little bit more about the movie. Here, Gillan starts off explaining what she saw in ‘Oculus’ – a horror movie that actually feels new and exciting.
It is a weird distinction that the impossibly perky and polite Karen Gillan is the star of the scariest movie of the year, 'Oculus'. In the film, she plays a young woman determined to crack - both literally and figuratively - the mystery behind an evil mirror that has haunted her family. Her red hair pulled back in a ponytail (which bounces hypnotically to and fro as if it were itself possessed) that's as tight as her personality.
Playing Leonardo Da Vinci is both easier and harder than it looks. There’s not a lot of on-screen representations, but the character is also one of the greatest artists and inventors of all time. Tom Riley is saddled with that role in David Goyer’s ‘Da Vinci’s Demons’ and he nails the part, but for the second season he gets to take the character that much deeper. We got a chance to talk about the show and about the difference between working on stage and on the small screen, and binge watching in our chat.