Animated ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Team on Movie Tie-Ins and ’80s References

September 04, 2015 6:00am PT by Aaron Couch

The Disney XD series picks up after the events of the hit film: “The stories are so unbelievably intricate,” star Will Friedle says.

The Guardians of the Galaxy are assembling again.

One afternoon in April, The Hollywood Reporter was on hand to look on as the actors voicing the scrappy gang of reluctant heroes came together to record an episode from the backend of the season.

They were all there — bickering and cracking wise like their big screen counterparts, but with their own spin on Star-Lord/Peter Quill (Will Friedle), Groot (Kevin Michael Richardson), Rocket Raccoon (Trevor Devall), Gamora (Vanessa Marshall) and Drax (David Sobolov).

The gang shared secrets of the upcoming season, which premieres Sept. 26 at 9:30 p.m. on Disney XD. An early, sneak peak bows Saturday at 9 p.m.

Starlord is looking for his origins.

The final moments of 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy revealed that Starlord’s father was a member of a mysterious, ancient race. That question of where Starlord came from will be explored in the animated series.

“Peter is interested in where he’s from and what happened. He will continue to pursue that,” says Eric Radomski, Marvel senior vp and creative director of animation.

The show picks up shortly after the movie.

While it’s not a direct continuation, the animated series begins with the team already assembled. The writers were allowed to read the script for the film, but did not see footage until after they’d completed their work.

“They certainly aren’t beholden to what we do,” Radomski says of how the TV show fits in with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “It’s going to go wherever James Gunn decides it’s going to go. Our stories pull from what we’ve learned from the movies and a lot of originality on the part of the writers in terms of creating new adventures with the characters.”

It will cut down on the sex jokes. 

Peter Quill was quite the ladies man in the film. But like most mass-appeal animated properties of the past 15 years, this is kid-friendly but with some references kids might not get.

“There is a lot of comedy and a lot of references to the ’80s since Peter Quill is our man out of time. So we have a lot of fun with that,” says Steven Melching, consulting producer and writer.

Adds Radomski: “We make reference to past girlfriends and relationships but we are never going to be as adult in the movie with some of the innuendo,” says Radomski. “We are geared toward 7- to 11-year-olds. Yet we know we have the whole Marvel fanbase, which spreads way into the feature film level audience.”

The plot is “unbelievably intricate.” 

While the team says people will be able to pick up the show midseason, the stories told will call back to each other in a way that’s akin to how the comic books do.

“The stories are so unbelievably intricate. It involves so many different characters,” says Friedle. “I love shows that are like a serial. I’m a fantasy book junky so I’m one of those guys where I like it when it’s book one of ten, and they are all 1,000 pages long. With Guardians, can pick up in the middle, but you’re going to want to go back to the start.”

Aaron Couch

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‘Documentary Now!’: Fred Armisen and Bill Hader on ‘Spinal Tap’ Comparisons and Their ‘SNL’ Reunion

August 19, 2015 8:00am PT by Aaron Couch

Armisen says the IFC mockumentary series "has the qualities of a fun side project" to compliment the many projects the stars juggle. Tyler Golden/IFC

Armisen says the IFC mockumentary series “has the qualities of a fun side project” to compliment the many projects the stars juggle.

Fred Armisen and Bill Hader are getting the band back together.

The Saturday Night Live collaborators are ready to unveil Documentary Now!, an IFC mockumentary series they created with fellow SNL alum Seth Meyers.

Each of the seven episodes are in the style of a different documentary, with the men often appearing as the same character at different ages. The younger versions are the subjects of the documentaries, and the older versions appear in interviews looking back decades later.

“You can’t beat Spinal Tap,” Hader, tells The Hollywood Reporter, dismissing the idea that they are taking their cues from iconic mockumentaries of the past.

Instead, they take inspiration from real-life projects like Vice’s hip documentary series and Alex Gibney‘s The History of the Eagles, which they honor with a look at a fictitious 70’s band.

“It really is specific filmmakers and specific documentaries,” says Hader. “We’re trying to make that very authentic.”

The creators cooked up the idea after they collaborated on a 2013 punk rock mockumentary for SNL. The musically inclined Armisen, who serves as band leader for Meyers’ Late Night, wrote an entire catalog of music for a fictitious 70’s band called the Blue Jean Committee, with help from a couple of musicians who joined him for the episode.  

“A lot of people try to make music that sounds like the ’70s, but the danger is sounding like a 2000s version of the ’70s,” says Armisen. “There are little recording shortcuts and stuff that make recording today easier. So we really had to record it slowly to really make it sound right. I thought I was going to deliver seven songs in a weekend, and that’s just not going to happen.”

Armisen also stars on the IFC comedy Portlandia. However, he isn’t worried about Documentary Now! encroaching on that territory even though it was preemptively renewed for two more seasons on Tuesday ahead of Thursday’s premiere.

“Portlandia is an ongoing series,” says Armisen. “This is like a solo album, even though it’s with Bill — it has the qualities of a fun side project.”

Documentary Now! premieres Thursday at 10 p.m.

Check out an exclusive clip of the show below: 

Fall TV Preview

Aaron Couch

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George R.R. Martin: ‘Game of Thrones’ Finale Inspired By ‘Lord of the Rings’

August 13, 2015 11:30am PT by Aaron Couch

 The author says "the tone of the ending that I’m going for is bittersweet."  AP Images/Invision

The author says “the tone of the ending that I’m going for is bittersweet.”

George R.R. Martin is offering a few clues to how it all might end.

Fans of his A Song of Ice and Fire series and HBO’s Game of Thrones have worried that Martin might pen and ending that will see the world consumed by a horrible disaster (after all, winter is coming).

Martin says he hasn’t written the ending (book six of a planned seven has yet to materialize), but he promises he doesn’t plan on writing a finale that is all doom and gloom.

“That’s certainly not my intent. I’ve said before that the tone of the ending that I’m going for is bittersweet,” Martin said in an interview with The Observer. “I mean, it’s no secret that [J. R.R.] Tolkien has been a huge influence on me, and I love the way he ended Lord of the Rings. It ends with victory, but it’s a bittersweet victory.”

See more ‘Game of Thrones: 10 Most Brutal Fights

Keeping with the Lord of the Rings analogy, he went on to discuss that it was victory at a cost for those heroes.

“Frodo is never whole again, and he goes away to the Undying Lands, and the other people live their lives,” Martin said. “And the scouring of the Shire—brilliant piece of work, which I didn’t understand when I was 13 years old: ‘Why is this here? The story’s over?’ But every time I read it I understand the brilliance of that segment more and more. All I can say is that’s the kind of tone I will be aiming for. Whether I achieve it or not, that will be up to people like you and my readers to judge.”

Given the pace of Martin’s publishing, fans worry that the HBO show will end before Martin has finished his work, in effect “spoiling” the end of the books. It recently wrapped season five, and showrunners David Benioff and David Weiss consult with Martin, and know the basic outline of events to come. 

On July 30, HBO programming president Michael Lombardo revealed Thrones would likely last at least eight seasons.

“Seven-seasons-and-out has never been the conversation,” Lombardo said at the Television Critics Association press tour. “The question is how much beyond seven are we going to do.”

He added that the showrunners are “feeling like there’s two more years after six. I would always love for them to change their minds. That’s what we’re looking at right now.”

In March, Martin wrote a blog post in which he said ten seasons of Game of Thrones sounded good to him.

“I allowed that ten years sounded fine to me. I continue to hear similar sentiments from HBO every time I have a meeting with them, be it in LA or New York,” Martin wrote.

The HBO series has used up much of the material already published in his books, with season five venturing beyond Martin’s work more than any season before it.

Game of Thrones

Aaron Couch

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