This will be a podcast long remembered

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Early on in Now Playing Podcast’s Star Wars review, creator and host Arnie Carvalho is asked whether he thinks George Lucas’ legacy blockbuster is the best film ever made. It’s a question that deserves more than a simple yes or no, and the answer is just one of many revelations listeners can expect throughout the podcast’s 11-episode retrospective series, which began Tuesday and will continue past the release of December’s The Force Awakens.

The retrospective is poised to be the biggest in Now Playing Podcast history, not only because of its cultural relevance, but because the show is breaking from a long-held preference not to review the franchise. Carvalho touches on this in the first few minutes while discussing the backbiting that exists with the Star Wars community, and how it discouraged him wanting to talk about the films outside of sister podcast Star Wars Action News.

Longtime listeners who have been demanding these reviews for years will relish these “inside baseball” chats, while casual Star Wars fans will enjoy the sparks of childhood nostalgia as Carvalho and fellow hosts Stuart Atkinson and Jakob Brewster navigate the Star Wars universe. Atkinson, the only one of trio who is not a hardcore fan, has a wonderful moment early on in which he relays his limited Star Wars knowledge in a jumbled paragraph that may enrage some die-hard jedi. It will be interesting to hear his take when the hosts review the non-theatrical entries in the saga.

Like all Now Playing Podcast retrospectives, this one will hit the high, low, and forgotten entries in the Star Wars franchise, including TV movies Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and the Star Wars Holiday Special. I’ve only seen clips of the Holiday Special on YouTube, but I remember those Ewok films (Caravan of Courage is followed by Battle for Endor, starring Wilford Brimley!).

And that’s always been the appeal of Now Playing Podcast retrospectives. Every discussion stirs a recollection of your childhood movie-going experiences, while pointing out the “gee whiz” moments you might have missed in a way that’s more inclusive than any Blu-ray bonus feature or Easter Egg infographic. This show has a way of connecting with you, whether you’re the kid who snuck into a theater to see Friday the 13th or if you waited in a line around the block for Indy’s Last Crusade, Now Playing Podcast always makes you part of the conversation.

The next few months should be fun.

Venganza Media at San Diego Comic-Con

Snip20150707_7Are you at #SDCC this week? Want to meet your favorite hosts from Now Playing Podcast, Star Wars Action News, and Marvelicious Toys?

Venganza Media is holding a podcast listener meetup event on Saturday, July 11 at 8 p.m. inside the Yard House in downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp District.

Come on down and have a drink with Venganza staff and our great listeners. This is the first Now Playing Podcast Comic-Con meetup since 2010. You can hear more details during this week’s review of Terminator: Genisys. We’re also holding a Terminator giveaway contest, you’ll hear the details in the show.

Hope to see you Saturday night!

Hollywood Shuffle

 

Something you might hear mentioned from time-to-time during Now Playing Podcast episodes is the hectic show schedule. While most tentpole flicks (especially superhero flicks) are given a release date years in advance, that’s not the case for every film. So when Now Playing is set to review a movie and suddenly the release date shifts, that can throw everything into chaos.

For instance, imagine if Universal had pulled Furious 7 at the last minute and released it in July instead of April. Now Playing Podcast would have had to scramble to fill seven weeks of programming. It’s not like there are backup shows ready to air.

So I grabbed host Stuart Atkinson for a few minutes and asked him about his role as Now Playing’s schedule-maker, what kind of surprises he’s dealt with in the past, and how Mission Impossible wound up on this week’s calendar.

You can read the story at the Venganza Media website.

 

Historic finish

Venganza Media’s first Kickstarter project turned out to be a ridiculous success. When the clock ran out on the 30-day campaign this morning listeners had pledged more than $115,000 to fund “Underrated Movies We Recommend.”

That means there’s enough funding to deliver “Underrated” as a hardcover and audio book. You can read more about that here.

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Home stretch

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As of this writing, there are 700 backers for Now Playing Podcast’s Kickstarter campaign to fund the show’s first publishing venture, “Underrated Movies We Recommend.”

To sweeten the deal for supporters, the hosts added some new rewards, including Kickstarter-exclusive podcasts. You can read about those shows and the rest of the rewards here.

After blowing past their $40,000 funding goal, the hosts are hoping to make a stretch goal, and they’re reaching out to all Now Playing listeners with the hashtag #ABuckForNowPlaying. The goal is to get every listener to donate just $1 to the campaign. You can hear more about the “Dollar Baby” effort during this week’s review of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.

It’s remarkable to see how the listeners have rallied around this campaign since it was launched 23 days ago. There are just seven days to go, can’t wait to see what happens.

Catching up

It’s been a ridiculously busy week, I realized today I’ve been on every site in my network except for this one. So maybe I’ll just post some highlights of everything that’s happening:

1) Now Playing “Pick a Podcast” Poll

Over at the Now Playing Podcast website, we’re running a poll where you can choose one of five films for an upcoming review. The contenders are Babadook (haven’t seen it), Wes Craven’s Shocker (legendary horror bomb), Sinister (haven’t seen that either), John Carpenter’s They Live (a classic), and The Usual Suspects (another classic).

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The poll closes Feb. 27, so there’s still time to cast your vote. I’m backing They Live, because I think it’s the last really great John Carpenter film, and I loved it as a kid.

The winner of the poll will be announced during the March 3 review of 2 Fast 2 Furious.

2) Preview of Furious 7 soundtrack

Speaking of The Fast and the Furious franchise (because that’s something I never write about), two tracks from the Furious 7 soundtrack are online now, and more will be coming ahead of the films April 3 release.

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I’ve been thinking about writing some articles about the F&F soundtracks, going back to the first film, which was heavy on Ja Rule, back when he and Limp Bizkit were still popular.

I listened to one track from Furious 7, “Ride Out” by Kid Ink, Tyga, Wale, YG, and Rich Homie Quan. It was pretty good. By the way, writing all of those names made me feel very old.

3) The campaign has begun

Tuesday night’s live Now Playing Podcast review of Kingsman: The Secret Service was such a blast. It was great fun interacting with all of the listeners in the chat room and on Twitter.

The show kicked off Venganza Media’s first Kickstarter campaign to fund “Underrated Movies We Recommend.” The listeners have been incredibly generous so far, and $23,000 was raised within the first 24 hours.

The campaign runs until March 19.

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#1

Woke up to the greatest gift of all: Now Playing Podcast is No. 1 on iTunes’ TV/Film podcast rankings.

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The review of 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven did even better than last week’s show. Congratulations to my fellow staff members at Venganza Media, it takes a ton of effort to put the shows together and they do a fantastic job every week. It couldn’t happen without listener support, so thanks to everyone who downloaded the show.

The Ocean’s series will take us through the end of the year, and 2015 is going to be huge for Now Playing Podcast. So big announcements are on the way.

I’m very lucky to be a part of this team, Merry Christmas to all!

Up all night with Now Playing Podcast

Snip20141223_15Now on VenganzaMedia.com: 5 Now Playing episodes to stream while waiting for Santa.

It wasn’t hard to find holiday-related content in the show’s archives. I actually left a few off the list, including the Black Christmas movies and Rocky IV, where Sly fights Drago on Christmas Day.

Now I can get back to watching the 1976 King Kong remake, which is actually my favorite Kong film. That should tell you something about my taste in movies.

 

A new look

Snip20141104_43It’s been several months in the making, and today the new Now Playing Podcast website went live with a redesigned look and new features that will greatly improve the user experience.

For starters, the archive system has been revamped, and the new dropdown menu will make it much easier to search through the list of films and retrospective series’ that have been covered in the show’s history — closing in on 8 years now.

One of my favorite new features is the addition of news articles on the home page and the “articles” tab. This will give the user access to content from the Venganza Media Gazette — including all those Children of the Corn-related pieces I wrote over the summer.

Another great feature is the show calendar, something host Arnie Carvalho has called “the single most-requested feature from listeners.” Instead of having to look for information about upcoming shows in the old forums, it’s now right on the home page.

“Now everyone can plan their Netflix queues accordingly!” Arnie wrote in an email this week. He’s right. It’s a better listening experience when a person has seen a film being reviewed on NPP, and that calendar will give them the chance to plan ahead.

Here’s a copy of the press release I drafted to mark the launch of the new site.

Catching up as summer winds down

While I’m averaging one post per month on this site since moving to Seattle, that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything going on. Quite the opposite, and so I thought I’d take a few minutes tonight to update some of my current and future projects heading into the fall.

The Corn Connection

I’m delighted to write that over the past couple of months I’ve been doing some great work with the team at Venganza Media, creating content and promotions for Now Playing Podcast.

Having just wrapped up assisting host Arnie Carvalho on his The 40-Year-Old Critic series, I’m focusing on a series of articles to tie into the show’s current Children of the Corn Retrospective Series. The articles, titled The Corn Connection, identify actors and actresses from the horror franchise and show listeners where they can be found in the Now Playing Podcast archives. It’s not easy, as most of those direct-to-video Corn sequels lack, to put it politely, stars.

As of this writing, the series has covered the first Corn film and three of its sequels. I’m looking forward to this week’s entry: Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror.

Boulder is that way, so let’s go

One of the most exciting events on my calendar is next month’s CMG Innovation Summit in Boulder, Colorado. This is an annual conference organized by my employer, Cox Media Group. Each year, a handful of employees from around the company are brought together to discuss and generate ideas for the future of media. I’m thrilled to be selected, and I’ll be updating everything that happens during the conference here, and on Twitter and Facebook.

Halloween is coming

This afternoon, while driving around the University District, I noticed the leaves were changing color. I haven’t seen that in more than a decade. I’m am so looking forward to experiencing fall again; and with fall comes Halloween.

I started a new Tumblr project in October 2012 called 31 Days Til Halloween, where I would post a single Halloween-themed item every day for the entire month. I repeated this last year, and plan to launch the project again when October 1 rolls around. I just need to narrow the idea; the first year it was anything Halloween-related, last year it was scary songs. When I figure out what I’m doing this year I’ll post the link on this site.