It’s not easy being a Bill Corbett – riffer, writer, actor, father, amateur soft drink developer. Mixing a career and family can be tough, even confusing, evidence when Bill sent his young daughter to close a contract in Hollywood. (She was a pit bull at the negotiating table, by the way). This leaves Bill the Artist very little time to concern himself with Bill the Look. I’m here to help him.
Bill wears the Regular Guy T-shirt and jean ensemble as well as anybody. But for important events like convention panels, movie premieres and parent-teacher conferences, we need to ramp up Bill’s look to near-Bruno levels of daring. The runways of Paris and the old copy of GQ from the Supercuts waiting area proved to be gold mines.
I wanted to start with something dressed up yet free-moving for Bill, who’s known to spontaneously launch into his Pilates routine just about anywhere – hotel lobbies, luncheons, autograph signings. The sock-free, shirt-and-matching tie lends a chic elegance without straying too far from its T.J. Maxx roots. The only problem with this particular look for Bill is that he isn’t a skinny, flat-chested girl.
This seems near perfect. This neo-Hellenic shift is flowing, with classic, classic lines, cool and breezy yet sophisticated. A dream to accessorize. But with Bill’s skin tones, the only color that would work for him is saffron, and unfortunately that shifts the whole look from Western Canon to something more Tibetan monkish, which diminishes the sexy dimension of the look.
Then it struck me: Hats! The right hat completes an outfit and balances the look, allowing Bill to be daring yet sensible in day and evening wear. Look what it did for Joey Pants – the day he decided to routinely wear hats, his career skyrocketed, and he became the timeless, enduring Hollywood dynasty that he is today. Was it talent, power, the ever-shifting chessboard of show business? Hell no, it was the hat.
But which hat? First we tried out a free-spirited Thomas Dolby top-to-bottom retro thing, great for sci-fi conventions, but for street wear, the beatings Bill would take made it a lateral move.
But building on the headgear, Armani dropped this stunning number into our laps. Just look at the detail – sequined water polo helmet playing off the sauna-suit vest and mink arm-warmers. Sporty, versatile, and made of NOW. I’m predicting that this will be Bill’s look this fall/winter season, but the down vest and wool sweater can be a bit uncomfortabel for San Diego in August.
Dressing up in the summer heat means leggings, and here are two stunning examples that I think Bill would look smashing in. Note the subtle nod to the classic “I forgot my pants” dream on the right, and the exquisite detail of the garter-and hose on the left, each capped by that sporty neo-hairnet that makes the whole ensemble just POP. We were excited to try this look on Bill, but a touch disappointed when he immediately threw up all over himself, which told us we had better lean in a more traditional direction.
And here it is, a classic gentlemen’s look with a modern rakish flair. The porous top is airy and cool while retaining an elegant line, perfectly accenting the modal cutoffs in modern earth tones. And nothing can beat an animal-print fedora so huge it instantly brings to mind Rocky the thug from the Bugs Bunny Cartoons. This is the Bill we all know and love, now dressed to take on the world boldly, yet stylishly. Go get ‘em, tiger!
Next time, it’s Kevin’s new look. And dear God but he needs it. And I need your help! Please submit your ideas, links, sketches of the made-over Kevin to this address.
I’ll let the comment of Youtube user “elasticxplastic” speak for myself: WTF DID I JUST WATCH
Honestly, this is one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen. The stunning surprise of that pan over is a moment I will remember right up there with the “Snakes and Rats” speech that truck driving woman gave on the last episode of the first season of Survivor.
Here we are, smack in the middle of summer, getting ready to be out in the public eye starting with Comic-Con, and we Riffers look like a pack of middle-aged shlubs dressed to watch bowling on TV. The noted exception is young writing wiz Conor, who wears even a Woot Shirt with a sense of dash.
What are we to do? Research, dammit! Head to the ad pages of Vanity Fair and T magazines of course, hit the GQ and Details ramparts, peer out at the style vanguard and lay siege on the new looks coming out of Paris! Quick, to the makeover montage!
We’ll start with Mike. Mike’s rugged good looks make the ladies swoon, especially when combined with his uniquely meaty breath. But let’s face it, Mike’s casual California ensemble projects a man who says, boldly, “I’ll just go stand over there.” Well it’s time for Mr. N (his new name, by the bye) to stand up and be noticed!
First I looked to the ladies of Duchess Clothiers of Portland, who I’ll grant make excellent suits to order at astonishing prices. After perusing their catalog though, I found that while the meticulous tailoring and whisps of early-century haberdashery may enhance the bookish charm of a John Hodgman, the rock-chic cheek of a Nick cave or the outright bizarre requirements of a practitioner of the manly art of Bartitsu, for Mike the look may be a bit too “vintage,” too “period,” too “hit me repeatedly in the face with a whiffle bat,” which, if you’re interested, is not one of the fundamental skills of the manly art of Bartitsu.
Then, leafing through the pages of the New York Times Magazine, I came upon a striking image of the fiery patriotic Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, dramatically photographed by Joachim Ladefoged. Much more Mike-ish, I told myself, closer to his Danish roots, brusque and daring. But I also realized that a look like this requires a continual supply of liquor sweat, generally at the proof levels found only in Baltic vodka or undiluted Akavit. As seductively louche as the look may appear at first, I didn’t want to hear Mike’s own children quoting Theodore Roethke’s poem “My Papa’s Waltz.”
So it was off to the runways of Paris, and look what I found! The look is clean, dressy without being stuffy, and let’s face it, wearing a blazer with underpants is classic southern California. Tie it all together with shoes made of (I think) porpoise skin, and everything pops. It has a breezy (way breezy) understated elegance that Mike can carry off for so many occasions, from “hi”-powered business meetings to casual poolside get-togethers. If we can convince him to adopt the Prison Break hairstyle, the look will be complete.
This is our Mike 2.0. This is the Mike you’ll see at Comic-Con. Let us know what you think, folks. I’m off to D&G with a credit card tomorrow.
First, who lost? Everyone who read the word “switcheroo,” and — especially — the man who actually put that word into his blog title. And by that I mean Kevin. (Yes, he is somehow to blame.)
Who won? Everyone who read these gems. Some very, very funny stuff, and it made my job way too hard. What in blazes was I thinking?
Still, when I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself at the difficulty of choosing between these, I was laughing a lot. And while a whole bunch of your entries could have won, this one ultimately edged it out:
Phelps on Jun 10, 2009 at 11:19 am
Eight year old Kevin was enjoying his nice suburban life when his parents callously abandon him a week before Christmas in the middle of Chicago. Now, he is forced to fend for himself, navigating a world world made for adults in a desperate attempt to survive on his own in a world of orphanages and abusive foster homes.
When things are just looking up, Kevin finds himself to be the target of two maniacal home invaders (Joe Pesci of Goodfellas and Casino and Daniel Stern of Very Bad Things) hell bent on taking everything Kevin has left… and threatening to murder him in the process. What will you do when you are… Home Alone?
Critics rave, “It’s David Copperfield meets Panic Room!”
…for me, it was that last line that sealed the deal. Very funny!
Well done, Phelps. Please email Erik at Rifftrax dot com, and he’ll set you up with a freebie.
And many thanks to everyone else who played. There were lots of truly hilarious entries. If you haven’t looked them over, give yourself a treat.
A friend (thanks Rick!) suggests that Tommy Wiseau could easily play the keyboardist/flautist when it comes time to make the biopic of these guys (who, I should point out, turn in a performance almost as weird as Tommy’s in The Room.)
We’ll be releasing our RiffTrax of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room on Thursday, but it has been a favorite around the office for the past two months or so. (For an introduction to The Room see our beginner’s guide here.) We’ve watched it so many times that we started to have questions about it that couldn’t be answered from the usual sources. We had to talk it over with someone who was there.
Someone who was there
Fortunately, actor Greg Ellery, who played “Steven” in The Room, was happy to talk to Mike and me and answer some of our questions. When he kicked off the conversation with a riff on his iconic The Room quote “I feel like I’m sitting on an atomic bomb waiting for it to go off!”, (currently #28 on the AFI’s Top 100 Movie Quotes list, just ahead of “You can’t handle the truth!”) we were relieved that he shared our sense of humor about the project. But how could you not?
“There was nothing at all normal about it’s development”, he said. Evidently, director Wiseau showed up on the Birns and Sawyer lot, found out they had a studio available and bought the complete Beginning Director package. That included the purchase, not rental, of a brand new film camera, as well as a new $30,000 digital camera to shoot the “making of.” Skeptical of course, Birns and Sawyer looked at Wiseau’s bank account, saw an appropriate amount of numbers in front of the decimal point and figured, What the hell?
Most of the shooting took place in an on-site studio, and when the action needed to move to the apartment roof, a green screen was set up in the parking lot. Ellery was on the set for three or four weeks. What was Tommy Wiseau like? “I tried to avoid him.” What was his directing style? “He didn’t really have any roundabout directors tricks, where he’d try to bring a performance out of an actor. He just said, do this this way.” Does Greg have any idea about Wiseasu’s notoriously vague past? His favorite theory is that he earned his fortune as a Bosnian Guerilla, but his guess is as good as yours.
A story which Greg wasn’t there for, but which remained legendary on the set throughout the shoot, occurred on the first day. Wiseau had a reputation for being “Sweaty and Smelly” on the set, and the cast watched in horror as he jumped on the actress who plays “Lisa” when they started filming their “love scene.” Lisa, who had pretty much “just gotten off the bus from Texas.” Oh, and she was 18. I believe our wincing was audible over the phone.
“Steven” at the party with the beautiful “Lisa”
The major question we had for Greg was related to his character, “Steven”. Namely, “What the hell was the story with your character, Steven?” Steven first appears at Johnny’s Birthday party, which occurs 76 minutes into the 97 minute movie. He is never addressed by name, yet when he appears onscreen and starts interacting with the characters, it’s treated as if the audience is supposed to recognize him as if he’s been there all along.
Greg was able to shed some light on the issue. It turns out that Steven was a “bastardization of the character of Peter”, who has a somewhat more prominent role in the second act of the movie (he is a psychologist, gets dangled over the roof by Mark and plays football in a tuxedo.)
Oh, did that not occur to you, that Peter and Steven might actually be the same character? Maybe it was because this is Peter:
“Peter”, who is the same, but different, as “Steven”
And there was no attempt made to to have the characters look alike, dress alike or even both wear glasses. Yes, in the kind of thing that previously could only happen in an Ed Wood movie, the actor who played Peter got fed up and quit the movie halfway through, and Wiseau decided to recast the part. After Ellery got the role, (following a normal casting call), Wiseau told him “Peter left. Now you are like Peter, but you are Steven.”
Welcome aboard Greg!
To the productions credit, Greg says “For an independent film, the checks were good and the checks were weekly.” We asked him if any footage he shot got left on the cutting room floor, thinking this might explain things such as the Breast Cancer diagnosis that is never mentioned again, or Denny’s run-in with a violent drug dealer that is never mentioned again. But not according to Greg. In his words, the loose ends were there just because “The scenes were not connected and had nothing to do with each other.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Ellery attended the first ever screening of the movie, a grand event at a Laemmle Theatre for which Wiseau rented limos and rolled out the red carpet. “From the very beginning,” he says, “it was apparent that it was a comedy.” People were already laughing during the first ten minutes and by the end they were “Rolling around and peeing in their pants.” He first learned that the movie had gained a cult following not too long ago, when a friend alerted him that the movie he had worked on, “You know, the one you described as the worst movie ever?” had evidently amassed a bigger audience than he had ever imagined.
Unfortunately, should The Room 2 ever see the light of day, the part of Steven/Peter will probably have to be reassigned yet again. Ellery has moved into directing, and is currently working on a feature on the East coast.
Pressed for any specific theories on the meaning of the film, or any of Wiseau’s specific choices (e.g., the “don’t worry about it” meme) Greg is at a loss. Though he did speculate that the film as a whole was autobiographical, that Wiseau was hurt by a woman once and the film was his response. “I think it was just one big ego trip.”
The last detail he shared with us was one that truly must sum up the experience of what it would have been like to work on The Room. On his first day on the set, Ellery approached Greg Sestero, who played Mark, assuming that he was the director. Noting the wild looking dude (Wiseau) standing nearby, he remarked “Real funny, you brought a crackhead in to mess with the actors.”
Personally, we would have just stuck with, “Oh hi, Mark”
The Room has consumed our lives here at RiffTrax since we discovered it two and a half months ago. We’ve rewatched the movie, poured over the discs bonus features, started talking like Johnny around the office and even spoken on the phone with two people involved in the movie. But we acknowledge that it’s probably still a big question mark for most people out there. Since we’ve uncovered so much great The Room-related content, we thought we’d share. Hopefully this will whet your appetite if you haven’t seen the movie, or will supplement your curiosity once you’ve seen it a first, second or third time.
Let’s start at the start:
This Onion AV Club article is the first thing we read about The Room
It references this comprehensive Entertainment Weekly article, which goes more in depth
This IFC article delves more thoroughly into the “plot”. Contains spoilers, but is very spot on and funny.
Sold yet? Go buy The Room at amazon, (we’re not sure where else you can get it.) It’s less than ten bucks. And you’ll need it when our RiffTrax comes out on Thursday!
Now for some videos. As fun as these are, I strongly recommend you watch the movie once without having seen anything. It will be a much more fun experience. Check back here in an hour and a half. Go on, watch it already!
THE CHALLENGE: Make an existing comedy into a drama, or vice-versa.
DETAILS: Pick an actual movie, from any era. Re-pitch it as a comedy if it’s considered a drama, OR if you’ve chosen a drama, re-pitch it as a comedy. Stick as closely as possible to the actual characters and plot of the real movie, but completely change the tone…. and do it in 150 words maximum (down below in comments).
DEADLINE: Friday June 12, 11:59 PM.
PRIZE: A free Rifftrax of your choice.
[UPDATE: Please do me a solid and include the title of the movie somewhere in your comment, artfully or otherwise, even if you think it's clear. You must never underestimate my thick-headedness.
It won't even count as part of your 150 word limit. So those of you who were planning to use THIS MOVIE or even, God help us, THIS MOVIE need not worry.]
Blogger extraordinaire (and bad wax figurine enthusiast) Brit brings to us the rich interior life and, shall we say, offbeat personality of this man, John Portsmouth Football Club Westwood:
John Portsmouth Football Club Westwood wears a novelty Pompey top hat, a blue and white dreadlock wig, a blue-check vest, shorts and a pair of tattered blue-check clown shoes… John Portsmouth Football Club Westwood has 60 Portsmouth tattoos on his body. He wears a blue check vest and shorts so you can see some of them….John Portsmouth Football Club Westwood has strange sad eyes and has been thrown out of several grounds for being drunk and disorderly. Many people want to have their photograph taken with him because he rings a bell, wears a novelty Pompey top hat and is often on television.