Craig Brewer's $5 Cover was the canary in the coal mine, and another MTV production, Savage County, followed. This weekend, a new Memphis-shot web-based film series premieres in the form of Headshop, a series that follows nine characters whose lives intersect around a local headshop where a new designer drug is being sold.
The series features a primarily local cast and crew and was filmed at locations such as the Tennessee Brewery, Mollie Fontaine's Lounge, and the Arcade Restaurant.
A free screening of the first two episodes tomorrow night at the Ridgeway Four. Reception at 6 p.m. followed by screening at 6:30 p.m. There will be a Q&A with the series' writer/director Giri Swamy afterward.
The five answers will draw from the inaugural class of the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, which was announced last year and which includes both obvious names (Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Otis Redding) and less well-known contributors (Lucie Campbell, George Coleman, Jimmie Lunceford). I'm guessing the likes of W.T. McDaniel won't figure but if the good folks at Jeopardy! don't get an audio clue out of all of this material they're not really trying.
Jeopardy! airs locally at 3:30 p.m. on channel 3.
Maybe the Oscars folks are sending this out as a trial balloon to see what people think. If so, then the Timberlake Oscars show could become reality. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. (See E! Online, for example.)
And why not? Timberlake can sing, dance, tell jokes, act, play the straight man, ham it up, and hold the spotlight. He's got classy, squeaky clean looks for the oldsters, a devilish edge for the hipsters, and sex appeal and pop allure for the youngsters.
His appearances on Saturday Night Live, including a few weeks ago, when he was inducted into the "Five-Timers Club," is pretty good evidence that he could pull it off. Maybe even settle in to rotation hosting duties and put Billy Crystal out to pasture.
And maybe JT, the pride of Millington, brings along the Tennessee Kids, his backing band for his performances in support of his new album, The 20/20 Experience. Would this make Timberlake the first NBA owner to host the Oscars? Bob Hope didn't own a piece of the Rochester Royals, did he?
Following the unfunny, misogynistic — well, really, pan-offensive — hosting turned in by Seth MacFarlane this year, the Oscars need to go in another new direction. Timberlake would be a home run.
Tomorrow night (Saturday, March 23), local singer-songwriter Chris Milam will be a featured performer on the latest installment of the popular television series The Sun Sessions, which is filmed at the legendary Memphis recording facility Sun Studio and airs on PBS stations across the country. To celebrate, Milam is hosting a watch party at Newby's, where his band will be performing both before and after a public screening of the episode's local premiere at 11 p.m on WKNO-TV (Channel 10).
Milam, who also recently performed at Austin's South By Southwest music festival, spoke to the Flyer this week about The Sun Sessions and more.
Memphis Flyer: How did your appearance on The Sun Sessions come about?
Milam: I entered a singing competition in Tunica, haha. I heard about this contest and thought it could be fun. I was the only one in it playing and singing my own songs, and some folks with The Sun Sessions were judging. That started the relationship, and soon after they asked me to tape an episode.
I’m not much of a sports fan, but I love the Olympics. I know, I know —the International Olympic Committee is a bloated, corrupt institution; the amateur athletics label is outdated and hypocritical; it can royally suck to live in a city where the games are being held, and all the cool kids are watching NBA basketball. But I don’t care. The Olympic games are awesome. They are a celebration of humanity at its finest. The Olympic motto Citius, Altius, Fortius—Faster, Higher Stronger—is as pure a distillation of the Enlightenment ideal as has ever been written. And even though the games are rife with nationalism, the gathering of our disparate tribes to compete with each other inevitably leads to the conclusion that humanity is all one big tribe, as the sportsmanship of the athletes surface to show that our commonalities clearly outweigh our differences.
As an Olympic fanboy, I was naturally excited as the 2012 London games approached. I believe it’s important to have goals, so, inspired by the Olympian ideal and given my current state of underemployment, I decided that this time around, I would watch ALL of the games. Of course, that’s pretty much impossible, given that there are 26 sports divided into 39 individual disciplines. So I refined my goal. I would watch at least one game-unit of each sport. Given that NBC was devoting 16 hours a day of their airtime on four different TV stations and streaming the entire games live on the internet, surely this would be possible. And if Michael Phelps could devote most of his life to his attempt to become the greatest Olympic athlete of all time, devoting a couple of weeks of my time on the couch with the iPad and cable TV was the least I could do, right?
I got started a day before the opening ceremonies when I accidentally caught a soccer game while trying to figure out exactly which channels I would be frequenting over the course of the Olympics. Its seems that the soccer tournament has to start early in order to fit a complete tournament in before the closing ceremonies. I filled in my first two entries in my Olympic journal: Men’s and Women’s Soccer. Cool, I thought. I have a head start!
Our long civic nightmare is over.
The TNT show starred Jason Lee as Dwight Hendricks, a Memphis police detective moonlighting as a barroom blues and Elvis cover singer. Memphis Beat's formula: Hendricks, his partner Whitehead (Sam Hennings), their boss Lt. Rice (Alfre Woodard), and their PD officer buddy Sutton (DJ Qualls) would investigate an episode-standalone crime ostensibly representative of the city, get up to their ears in minor personal dramas, then resolve the parallel storylines in sometimes palatable fashion. Hijinks occasionally ensued.
Kapone and Bomar will act as tour guides as the show visits such Memphis sites as the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Earnestine & Hazel's, and Raiford's.
Check out the Flyer's recent feature on the Bo-Keys and their terrific new album Got to Get BackI here.
Rowdy Memphis (Plot Synopsis): While Dwight (Jason Lee) and his mama (Celia Weston) are shopping at a nursery, she tells him that one of his old friends and former band mates has been arrested. The former friend, Jimmy (Vincent Ventresca, who played Billy in Romy and Michele's High School Reunion), needs Dwight's help to clear his name. The crime was an armed robbery on a party boat parked at a marina. The case is being handled by a detective (Jonathan Adams) out of the 7th precinct. (Memphis Beat is set around the 9th precinct.) Dwight feels that the detective has the wrong man for the crime and tells him so, creating friction — especially since this isn't Dwight's case to work. The three criminals took off across the lake on jet skis. Damp wetsuits in his boathouse implicate Jimmy. That seems flimsy to Dwight.
I come back from vacation to this? After a two-week reprieve from Memphis Beat duties, I'm taking the baton from Greg Akers for last night's episode:
Episode Named After: The burden of family tragedy Det. Dwight Hendricks (Jason Lee) has carried for years, since his cop dad was killed on the job when Dwight was a young boy.
On the second track, Lt. Rice (Alfre Woodard) steps in for Dwight, going into the field as Det. Whitehead's (Sam Hennings) number two as the pair investigate a potential arson case at the Carver movie theatre, a case that takes a detour — no, really — into private sex parties that were being hosted at the theater. (In an otherwise poorly written show, the sex-party bit allows Woodard a funny line reading while interrogating a sex-club member: "I don't know what kind of woman you usually go for, but I'm of the dominating variety.")
For Dwight, this week's story is about coming to grips with his father's murder — including evidence that his dad might have been on the take. Back on the home front, the other case is a mechanism for continuing to build on the at times prickly, at times combative relationship between Rice and Whitehead, who find a new level of respect for each other as they solve the case.
Rowdy Memphis (Plot Synopsis): Sutton (DJ Qualls) responds to a call of a disturbance at an old folks' home. He finds a dead man in the room, the victim of a gruesome attack. The man is Sam Walters, a defense attorney. The dead man's legal assistant, Deloris (Jillian Armenante), says he'd lost a number of big cases in the last couple years, but that he had a bleeding heart and wouldn't do anything bad to anyone. He was, however, making money on the side by meeting people and helping them off the books. An infant is put in the back of Sutton's car, parked in front of the scene of the crime. It is surmised that Walters was helping someone illegally adopt an unwanted child, and that this is that baby. Sutton is put in charge of the tot. He's nervous about it, but with the help of Dwight's mom (Celia Weston), he becomes a pro. The investigation leads Dwight and Whitehead (Sam Hennings) to a halfway house run by nuns. It appears that the baby's mother is Sister Katherine Thomas (Danielle Panabaker). But Sister Katherine is really covering for her real sister, who's the real mama, and for her father, who was getting a hefty finder's fee to get the illegitimate kid adopted (and to pay off a gambling debt to boot). Dwight and Katherine talk Sam Walters' murderer out of a hostage situation, and social services come get the little baby from Dwight. All is right again in the world.
Rowdy Memphis (Plot Synopsis): Ted Creskoe (Wade Williams) is a father from Springfield, Missouri, who has come to Memphis to find his missing daughter, Jill. It's been four years since he's seen her — she was a runaway, but sent regular letters back home to let the 'rents know she was alright. Her car is found in a river, but there's no body in it. The main suspect is her abusive husband, Derek (Clayne Crawford). Jill waitressed for and was friendly with a restaurateur (Heather McComb). A body washes up in the river but it's somebody else instead of Jill. Turns out she and the restaurateur faked her death to get her away from the husband. Jill is reunited with Papa, and Dwight visits Derek and threatens him to stay away from the soon-to-be-ex wife.
One subplot this week is that Whitehead (Sam Hennings) is terrible at gunwork and needs help from Sutton (DJ Qualls), who is, surprisingly, a crack shot. The other subplot finds Lt. Rice (Alfre Woodward) in parental angst over a schism with her daughter, who she has learned is engaged to be married.
Memphis Beat, "Inside Man"
Originally Aired June 21st, 2011
Plot Synopsis: This week's show opens at what is presumably an East Memphis (or eastern suburbs) McMansion where there's been a home break-in with a floor safe missing. Dwight (Jason Lee) suspects a return of the infamous "Fox Meadows Burglars." A public call for information leads to a mysterious, awkward tipster, Keith Grant (Reno 911's Thomas Lennon) who has a lot of knowledge about the crimes. The man seems mild-mannered, but he reminds Dwight of "the ones who end up running down Beale Street naked with a samurai sword."
After discovering that he's studied the earlier "Fox Meadows Burglars" jobs more thoroughly than the MPD, Lt. Rice (Alfre Woodard) urges Dwight and partner Whitehead (Sam Hennings) take on Keith as a consultant, and he ends up helping them solve a case that is plaguing "all the rich folks of Memphis."
A wan subplot concerns Whitehead's attempt to "rebrand" himself.
Respect (Memphis music featured in the episode): The reduced interest in Memphis music doesn't end with the episode titles this season, as the amount of music — and Memphis-specific music — is on the decline. The Muddy Waters' identified "I'm Ready" and the Ray Charles' identified "You Don't Know Me" pop up, but in other versions I couldn't ID. The Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider" is head. Most prominently is B.B. King's "When It All Comes Down," which is used four times, twice sung by one character to another in the form of a serenade.
Memphis Beat, "At the River"
Originally Aired June 14th, 2011
Memphis Beat — TNT's set-in-Memphis, filmed-in-New Orleans, borderline-anachronistic cop procedural — returned for a (somewhat surprising) second season last night, bringing us more of Jason Lee's Elvis-loving MPD detective Dwight Hendricks and his colorful coterie of sidekicks.
Episode Named After: This is unclear. Last season, every Memphis Beat episode was named for a song recorded by Elvis Presley. That appears to not be the case for season two. I'm guessing "At the River" is not a reference to the 1997 single by techno outfit Groove Armada. Instead, it's likely a religious/gospel reference. But is it to the gospel standard "Shall We Gather at the River" or to "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" (Lyric: "At the river, I stand/Guide my feet, hold my hand")?
Plot Synopsis: The episode opens with a dead cop and a bullet shell found in the grass on the banks of the river. Lt. Rice (Alfre Woodard) splits up partners Dwight and Whitehead (Sam Hennings), having Whitehead work the murder and having Dwight pair up with a (comely) new Internal Affairs agent, Claire (Beau Garrett), while she looks into questions surrounding the late policeman.
As usual, the procedural stuff is run of the mill. More interesting is Claire, a new addition to the show and to Memphis ("I was a beat cop in St. Louis for five years — got to a glass ceiling I couldn't break through," she explains) that opens up some potentially fruitful avenues for the show, not counting the unavoidable romantic subplot.
Memphis Beat may be over, but a couple of new Memphis-connected television series debut tonight.Terriers, which stars Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James as down-on-their-luck private detectives in San Diego, may not seem to have much to do with Memphis, but it earns its local connection at least for tonight, as the series' pilot episode was directed by Memphis filmmaker Craig Brewer. Terriers has been getting generally good reviews and is certainly worth a look when it debuts at 9 p.m. tonight on F/X.
Also debuting tonight is Hellcats a cheerleading show that co-stars High School Musical's Ashley Tisdale and seems heavily influenced by Bring It On. Though filmed in Vancouver, the series is set in Memphis, at the fictional Lancer University. The premise is that protagonist Marti Perkins (Aly Michalka) is "a hip, edgy townie with working-class roots" who loses her scholarship and draws on her gymnastics background to reluctantly pursue an open cheerleading scholarship. When she makes the "Hellcats" squad at Lancer, Marti is "thrust into a world of camaraderie, backstabbing, and competition that takes place at the intersection of the Memphis music scene, backroom academia, college town politics, and big money collegiate sports — in the Deep South, football is God."
Color us intrigued but skeptical about Hellcats, which has the potential to make Memphis Beat's conception of the Memphis music scene look downright realistic. The series debuts at 8 p.m. tonight on the CW network.
We'll be checking out both Terriers and Hellcats, but we aren't promising to be interested for longer than one night.
Also, the story enumerates the ratings for Memphis Beat: "The drama has been a solid performer, averaging 4.5 million viewers and a 1.1 adults 18-49 rating through 10 episodes," James Hibberd reports.
You know what this means? Another season of thousand-word episode recaps — pointing out all of the show's geographical, historical, and ambiencical — shortcomings, from your friendly neighborhood Sing All Kinds team. FTW.
Memphis Beat, Season One Guide
Pilot: "It's All Right, Mama"
Ep. 2: "Baby Let's Play House"
Ep. 3: "Love Me Tender"
Ep. 4: "Polk Salad Annie"
Ep. 5: "One Night of Sin"
Ep. 6: "Run On"
Ep. 7: "Suspicious Minds"
Ep. 8: "I Shall Not Be Moved"
Ep. 9: "Don't Be So Cruel"
Ep. 10: "I Want To Be Free"