Take Your Ears to the Movies
By Nick Fouriezos
Welcome to this week’s edition of OZY’s Wherever You Get Your Podcasts.
Raise your hand if you’ve watched one of the best picture nominees this year. Two of them? It’s been a tough year for movies and moviegoers. But audio has thrived. So why not scratch your film itch from the comfort of your headphones? Take note of these scintillating stories, from the French inventor whose death birthed Hollywood to the invisible woman behind some of cinema’s greatest films … and one of its most scandalous love triangles.
pod of the week
Film for People Who Didn’t Go to Film School. Some movies you just can’t get enough of. That doesn’t mean they’re great art. Or even classic “so bad they’re good” flicks. It just means that no matter how many times you come across them, you invariably stop … and stay. The Rewatchables podcast, hosted by pop culture and sports superfan Bill Simmons on his Ringer Podcast Network, is a tribute to these sticky cult classics. From A Few Good Men and Home Alone to Bridesmaids, these flicks might not engage serious film students. But they are the ones you and your friends will obsess over for beers — err, years — to come.
Ava DuVernay. The Hollywood powerhouse director believes storytelling can set us free in more ways than one. “We know that the predominant kind of filmmaker that Hollywood supports is a white male filmmaker,” DuVernay says on a recent episode of The Carlos Watson Show. But DuVernay is changing that by being a mentor, advocate, partner, and distributor to talented and diverse young filmmakers. Hear how she approaches storytelling while helping others share their own narratives. Listen Now.
Ethan Hawke. The once shy, straight-laced Todd Anderson from Dead Poets Society has morphed into the unkempt abolitionist John Brown in The Good Lord Bird … and Hawke is not afraid to go John Brown on the state of his profession. Hawke joins The Watch hosts Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald for a fascinating discussion on why so many movies and shows are mediocre and why “we have to be careful what we celebrate as a culture.”
Previewing the Academy Award Winenrs. Is Nomadland a Best Picture lock? Can its star, Frances McDormand, win a wide-open Best Actress race? For those tracking this year’s Oscars race (or just looking to win their neighborhood betting pool), tune into The Awardist. Hosted by Clarissa Cruz and David Canfield, the two Entertainment Weekly editors will take you through this year’s contenders, profiling the front-runners and picking potential upsets.
The Woman (and Women) Behind the Man. Sometimes the lives of moviemakers are just as captivating as what winds up on screen. Sure, going down a Peter Bogdanovich wormhole may sound as appealing as a Burt Reynolds musical (see Bogdanovich flop: At Long Last Love). But the director’s life story has everything you want in a Hollywood drama, including murder, a love triangle with Cybil Shepherd, the Playboy Mansion and Orson Welles with a bucket of KFC (seriously). Listen to Bogdanovich reminisce on The Plot Thickens, from Turner Classic Movies. Then chase it with the remarkable tale of his wife Polly Platt, whose unfinished memoir forms the basis for the latest season of Karina Longworth’s You Must Remember This.
Romping Through ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Jaws’. The friendship of legendary filmmakers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas is not exactly new terrain. However, the six-part series Blockbuster by former investigative journalist Matt Schrader is a compelling audio biopic through the origins of Star Wars, Jaws and the movie revolution of the mid-1970s. And don’t miss the story of perhaps the most important thread between the films — composer John Williams, who rebounded from personal tragedy to compose two of the most unforgettable film scores of all time.
The Mysterious Disappearance That Birthed Hollywood. The rise of Hollywood owes a surprising amount to the untimely demise of a single Frenchman. In 1890, French inventor Augustin Le Prince developed the world’s first motion picture camera years ahead of Thomas Edison, then boarded a train in France with plans to reveal his dazzling movies to the public in New York City. But, as covered in the OZY history podcast Flashback, Le Prince vanished on that train … and motion picture history left the station without him. Listen Now.
‘It Looks Like a Park Avenue Fantasy’. The Academy Awards began in 1929. But they were not broadcast on national radio until 1944 or televised until 1953. There were recordings, though. So you can listen as local radio host George Fisher plays a rather modern-sounding, red-carpet narrator during an unauthorized live broadcast of the 11th Academy Awards banquet, held in February 1939 at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. Fisher’s commentary on the “Park Avenue fantasy” of celebrity attendees — including Henry Fonda, Betty Davis, Douglas Fairbanks and Hedy Lamarr — was shut down by Biltmore staff after 12 minutes.
in audio news
Apple Podcasts Unveils Subscription Service. Facing growing competition from Spotify, Apple Podcasts announced this week a premium in-app subscription service where users can sign up for benefits like ad-free listening, early access and additional content. Early partners include Pushkin Industries, QCODE and NPR. The service will launch in more than 170 countries next month.
Spotify Moves Up the Podcast Charts. Not to be outdone, Spotify is encroaching on Apple’s audio turf, announcing a revamped podcast chart system to help users find popular shows and discover ones they might enjoy. Spotify’s promise to bring more transparency to how podcasts are ranked on the charts is also a calculated pitch to podcast creators bewildered or disillusioned by the dominant, but resolutely mysterious, Apple Podcasts rankings.
Lend Facebook Your Ears? Facebook also announced a slew of audio-related features, including the much anticipated “Live Audio Rooms.” The Clubhouse competitor (killer?) lets users listen to podcasts within the Facebook app. It pairs with a TikTok-like social audio experience called “Soundbites,” which the company touts as “short-form, creative audio clips for capturing anecdotes, jokes, moments of inspiration, poems and many other things we haven’t yet imagined.”
Vote for Your Favorite Podcasts… The 2021 Webby Award nominations, recognizing the year’s best websites, podcasts and other internet services, are out. Vote here for your favorite podcasts of 2020 (and if you want to show OZY some love, select “Whiskey in Your Coffee” as your favorite email newsletter). Winners of the 25th Annual Webby Awards will be announced May 18.
friend of the pod
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- Nick Fouriezos