Pop Culture Reunions That Need To Happen

The reunion issue of Entertainment Weekly came out last week, and we got to see what the casts of Bring It On, Felicity, Family Ties and more are up to now. This issue is one of my favorite annual issues from EW, especially when they cover shows or movies I’m particularly interested like Gilmore Girls or Clueless or The West Wing (have you SEEN the vid of Bradley & Janel talking about present-day Josh & Donna?!). There are of course millions of things to choose from when it comes to narrowing it down to a few for each issue, but I too have hopes and wishes for future get togethers by some of my (used-to-be) favorite stars. Here are just some of them.

Good Morning, Miss Bliss

Before Zack and Slater in California, there was Zack and Mikey in Indiana. The latter lasted approx one season, but thanks to the magic of syndication, the 14 episodes were rolled into repeats of Saved by the Bell. This explains why as a kid you saw two middle schoolers – Mikey and Nicki – suddenly turn into high school Slater and Jessie. Call it The Tori Complex, if you will. While we know Zack, Lisa and Screech and even Mr. Belding went on to find fame with SBTB, the actors who played Mikey and Nicki, Max Battimo and Heather Hopper, didn’t quite reach that level. Even Miss Bliss’ teachers Miss Tina Paladrino and maintenance supervisor Mylo Williams had few roles here and there. I think the reunion, more than anything, would be to ask the question – what went wrong with this show?

Notting Hill

When we were growing up in the 90s, Julia Roberts was (and arguably still is) the Queen of Romantic Comedies. After seeing My Best Friend’s Wedding for the first time, I became obsessed both with her and the movie, and when Notting Hill came along, that became my favorite. Like, I have it on VHS currently in my room and have seen it way too many times to remember. Pairing Julia with the King of Romantic Comedies, Hugh Grant, was a no-brainer and they had great chemistry. It also stars a young Mischa Barton, Alec Baldwin AND his 30 Rock frail-boned co-star Emily Mortimer, and the dude from The Wire. But it’s also the first introduction I had to Hugh Bonneville aka Lord Grantham on Downton Abbey, as Bernie, Hugh/Will’s friend. He has a very understated comedic charm to him we don’t get to see as much on Downton.

Ally McBeal

Most of the Ally McBeal cast reunited at the TV Land Awards earlier this year, but I want a full get together with Robert Downey Jr., Jane Krakowski, Lucy Liu, Taye Diggs and Portia De Rossi, otherwise it would be for naught. Also, didn’t know until right now that Renee Elise Goldberry of Hamilton fame played one of Vonda Shepard’s backup singers in the bar throughout the entire series. BRAND NEW INFORMATION. She should be invited to the reunion too.

Ed

Ed, the show about a big town lawyer who moves back to his small hometown and becomes the owner of a bowling alley. This show ran for four seasons and through the entirety of my high school career. I loved this show, but like most programs I watched back in the day, I wasn’t necessarily the target demographic. None the less, the show was a lovely dramedy with sort of a Gilmore Girls vibe. It also produced stars like Modern Family’s Julie Bowen, Michael Ian Black, and a young Justin Long and Ginnifer Goodwin (again, learning so much. I forgot she was in Ed, but very clearly remembered their scenes together in classic He’s Just Not That Into You). Most of these actors have gone on to do great things, but like, where’s Lesley Boone/Molly? Jana Marie Hupp/Nancy (SHE WAS MINDY IN THE ONE WITH BARRY AND MINDY’S WEDDING #COPACABANA).

Rent

I was introduced to Rent when I was approx 13 years old, around the time Rent first hit Broadway. I’d listen to the OBC soundtrack on repeat, and for sentimental reasons, is still one of my favorite musicals. Despite getting together for the polarizing movie and the 10th anniversary show, I will always be available for this OG cast to get together once more. Especially Taye and Idina.

Newsies

Speaking of musicals, Newsies was a childhood staple for many kids my age, and starred a young Christian Bale before he became Batman. If I could just get a current group picture of everyone in this cast in the exact same pose, crutch and all, that would be fantastic.

Dirty Sexy Money

It’s like a given we would all like a reunion of Six Feet Under, so that aside, he’s another addicting show Peter Krause was a part of. I binged this a few years ago when it was still on Netflix Instant, and I don’t even remember why. Maybe it was Peter I was intrigued by. Then again it was also Donald Sutherland, a girl from Passions, Lucy Liu (again) and William Baldwin. This would be a fun reunion, specifically because it was cancelled after just two seasons with a total of 23 episodes. What happened to this Darling family??

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Is Studio 60 polarizing, too? Probably. Did I watch it because I appreciate Matthew Perry? Of course. Did I expect to like it so much that I bought the DVDs? Absolutely not. Studio 60 had some problems with it, of course, but all the cast members were extremely talented and made the show watchable. Also, Columbus Short, aka Harrison from Scandal was on it, along with Dawn from the British The Office, and it’s weird seeing them not as the characters you most associate them with, despite the fact Scandal came after this show. Anyways.

Laguna Beach

Molly & I didn’t even go to our own high school reunion, so I can’t say I entirely expect the cast of Laguna Beach to take part in a reunion. However, it would be itneresting to see what’s changed dynamics wise. Is Kristin still mad at ‘Stephennnnn’? Does Stephen pine for LC at all? What happened to Christina’s Broadway dreams? Is Trey still the best human on the show (besides LC)?

That Thing You Do

In addition to renting this movie on VHS, for some reason, That Thing You Do! was constantly, or what seemed to be, on repeat on VH1. It wasn’t a blockbuster in the box office, but it wasn’t a flop either. What it does have is a strong, passionate fan base who will be able to sing the titular track for you at a moment’s notice. They’ll know the different between The Wonders and The Oneders, and know how to pronounce the latter. They’ll also want to get the band back together one more time.

2Ge+her

2ge+her

And one final segue – SPEAKING OF BANDS GETTING BACK TOGETHER – I’ve spoken about this before, but as a young lass, I was a teenybopper to the max. BSB was my jam, and that love of boy bands extended to pretty much everyone (except ‘N Sync, duh), including the fake boy band put together on MTV to mock the genre. That ultimately backfired since they had a ‘hit’ song with U+Me = Us (Calculus) and their follow-up hit, The Hardest Part of Breaking Up (Is Getting Back Your Stuff). Both their albums made it into the Billboard top 40, including their sophomore record, 2Ge+her Again, which hit 11. While it wouldn’t be the same without the late Michael Cuccione as part of the reunion, it would be great to see them 2GE+HER AGAIN.

 

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Playlist of the Month: Best Original Songs by Fictional Artists

Music has always been an important factor in movies and TV shows throughout the years, providing just a little something extra to create the exact emotions in a certain scene. And then there are the movies and TV shows that take music to a whole other level by creating made up bands and artists within the storyline. And sometimes they actually end up being really good. We’re not talking fake bands that cover songs, we’re talking the fictional artists with original music who could easily release their own songs and be chart toppers. Here are just a few of our favorites (and by few, we legit mean few. It was surprisingly hard to narrow down a list!)

Check the full playlist on Spotify!

Molly’s Picks

Join The Professionals from Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains

Fictional Artist: The Stains

By all means, this should be one of those classic 80s films that’s played on a regular loop on TBS. Somehow – maybe because the universe isn’t just nor kind, maybe because TBS used their full rights-buying budget on The Breakfast Club and Coach Carter – it isn’t. Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains follows the rise of a girls’ punk band in the early 80s, and I am shamelessly including it on this list in the hopes that more people will see it.

Killer Tofu from Doug

Fictional Artist: The Beets

Millenials, can you feel me right now?

Obviously The Beets were supposed to lampoon The Beatles, but it also seems like they’re ripping on the early-mid 90s British rock bands that were popular at the time. I’m looking at you, Oasis.

That Thing You Do! From That Thing You Do!

Fictional Artist: The Wonders (Or, The Oneders)

Cheesy? Sure. But I loved this movie, and this is a perfectly formulated throwback rock/pop tune. That Thing You Do! came out when I was about 10, that age when music and bands take on a whole new life for you. This, La Bamba, and Selena were my Movies About Music trifecta circa 1997.

Big Bottom from This Is Spinal Tap

Fictional Artist: Spinal Tap

SO MUCH BASS. We couldn’t have a playlist of fictional bands without including Spinal Tap. Comedy fans and music lovers alike have elevated This Is Spinal Tap to cult classic status, and for good reason: they go to 11. I love how the different styles on the soundtrack trace the trajectory of the band – for instance,  America (so Simon and Garfunkel!), Listen To The Flower People (one of Spinal Tap’s early efforts), and the oddly classy Lick My Love Pump.

It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp from Hustle And Flow

Fictional Artists: DJay and Shug

In addition to being a great movie about the small-time hip hop scene, Hustle And Flow may mark the very last time that a movie, set in the present day at the time of release, featured a cassette tape as a prominent plot device.

Honorable Mentions: The Commitments (who only didn’t make the list because we’re focusing on original songs, and theirs were all covers); The nuns from Sister Act (whatever, I do what I want); Goodbye Lil Sebastian (Right, Parks fans?); Scotty Doesn’t Know from Eurotrip (see Sister Act); Forever (actually not good, and actually a Beach Boys cover, proving that not every record can be Pet Sounds); anything from Once (I couldn’t decide if it counted, since I wasn’t sure if I could divorce it from The Swell Season). This was a surprisingly hard list for me to narrow down, everyone.

Traci’s Picks

Male Prima Donna from The Office

Fictional Artists: Subtle Sexuality

Even if you were a fan of The Office, you still might not be familiar of the outstanding musical talent within the walls of Dunder Mifflin. Kelly Kapoor & Erin Hannon formed pop duo Subtle Sexuality during their out of office hours (read: a series of websisodes), and released to the viewing public in 2009. And it’s full of outlandish costumes and a lot of autotune and it’s wonderfully ridiculous. True story: This song used to be ringtone. If you liked this song, check out Subtle Sexuality’s second single, The Girl Next Door.

Every Minute, Every Hour from 2ge+her Again

Fictional Artists: 2ge+her

Guys, I’m not ashamed to say I was a total teenybopper when I was a teen. I totally drank the boy band kool-aid, even the fake boy band kool-aid that is 2ge+her. Like not even in an ironic way. I genuinely liked their music. And that was the brilliant part of the whole parody phenomenon – is that the songs were actually catchy. I mean, if I say U+Me = Us, I’m assuming most of you would be able to sing a little of it, because it was a memorable pop hit. Case in point: this song from the 2ge+her Again soundtrack, which incidentally was co-written by my boy Howie Dorough from the Backstreet Boys. It’s also one of the rare songs that doesn’t follow the parody formula (i.e. it’s not like Rub One Out or Say It, Don’t Spray It).

Pop! Goes My Heart from Music and Lyrics

Fictional Artists:  PoP!

What do you mean you’ve never seen this movie? For shame. It has Hugh Grant, Drew Barrymore, and Jason Street from Friday Night Lights, what more could you ask for? Probably a better plot and script, that’s what. I mean I didn’t think it was that bad of a movie, but cinephiles might disagree. Basically Hugh Grant plays a washed up former 80s pop star from a band called PoP! (which was inspired by Wham!). And his band mate is played by Scott Porter, who actually sings and dances IRL. Their hit song is Pop! Goes My Heart and this music video is awesomely 80s.

Don’t Put Dirt On My Grave Just Yet from Nashville

Fictional Artists: Juliette Barnes

TBH, I only started watching Nashville because of Connie Britton. I’ve continued watching it because the soap opera-ness of it gets you hooked. But one of the best parts of the show (thankfully) is the music. Because the show centers on country music stars in Nashville, most of the songs are original tunes that are written by the same songwriters who write for the real country music stars in Nashville. It was really hard for me to pick just one from the show, so Don’t Put Dirt… is just one of my faves. But then there’s also Boys and Buses, A Life That’s Good, He Ain’t Gonna Change, I Ain’t Leavin’ Without Your Love, and Joy Parade by a C+S favorite, Lennon and Maisy.

Let Me Be Your Star from Smash

Fictional Artists: Karen Cartwright & Ivy Lynn

Let Me Be Your Star was the big song at the end of the pilot for Smash, and I figured that if my goosebumps were any indication of how the rest of the series was going to be, the show would be a hit. Well, we all know how that went. Smash was pretty interesting for a while, and then Bollywood happened, someone got killed, etc. etc. However, there were some great original songs made for the fictional musical, including this one and another one of my favorites, Caught in the Storm.

Honorable Mentions: Say No More (Mon Amour) from Empire Records (Rex Manning Day, y’all),  California Dreams from California Dreams (I have this soundtrack, whatever), Friends Forever from Saved by the Bell (Zack Attack is forever in my heart).

Movies That Should Be Made Into Musicals

Last weekend I saw Prisilla, Queen of the Desert at the Pantages here in LA. It’s part of the season subscription I have with my friend, so let’s just say I wouldn’t necessarily purchase these tix unless it came with our subscription. It was entertaining, had great costumes and was aesthetically pleasing, but that’s pretty much it. If you don’t know, it’s based on the 1994 movie of the same name, which gained a lot of popularity back then. The costume designers won an Academy Award, and it was even nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Picture, Comedy or Musical.

In full disclosure, I haven’t seen the movie, but I don’t think I really need to in order to get the idea. It got me thinking, since this musical based on a movie can run for 2 years on Broadway, and it isn’t even that good, what other movies could be good on stage? (For the record, I’m in full support of original shows first, before any producers take my ideas seriously) I recently found out that one of my favorite movies, Ever After, is back on track to hit Broadway, and a lab is currently underway starring Jeremy Jordan of Smash and Newsies. I have high hopes for Ever After, so maybe the following movies could be the next Billy Elliot or Matilda? What movies do you think would be great musicals?

Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire // Main on End Titles from mgfxstudio on Vimeo.

The end scene alone is why this she hit the stage. Just imagine all the Bollywood numbers!

Enchanted

I just think this movie is so great. If I was a kid I would watch this over and over again until the DVD broke. As an added bonus, Ever, Ever, After, a song by the great Carrie Underwood could be included in the show, not just the end credits. Plus, there’s even the chance that Idina Menzel could reprise her role as McDreamy’s girlfriend and sing a jealousy-belting song that steals the show.

Down With Love

This wasn’t a movie that garnered a lot of critical reception – or fans – but I loved it. Inspired by 1960s romantic sex comedies, Ewan McGregor plays a typical male lothario, while Renee Zellwegger plays a feminist who’s all about female independence. And guess what happens in the end… The music in the movie is done by Marc Shaiman, the genius behind Hairspray and Catch Me If You Can (another movie-turned-musical), so it’s perfect for Broadway. If only more people would be interested in it.

That Thing You Do

THE OH-NEED-ERS!!! This was one of those movies I had to watch anytime it was on TV when I was growing up. Just like the fictional Wonders were a pop sensation in the 60s, they were my fave fictional band in the 90s. How could you not love these guys? How could you not love this song? How could you not love Tom Hanks?!

Save the Last Dance

I basically just want to see this scene played out IRL.

Empire Records

Totally unintentional, but looks like I really enjoy movies with Renee Zellwegger, Liv Tyler, and Ethan Embry in them. This was another cult hit from the 90s that could have the potential to include some great 90s type rock songs. Or it could turn into High Fidelity.