Dom Joly: I should get the award for behaving badly

This time, however, I was the guest of ITV as they have just commissioned my new show, Fool Britannia. It’s eight half-hours of hidden camera on Saturday nights just before The X Factor – I’m back in prime time and feeling the pressure.

Arriving at the hideous O2 after a journey more arduous than my recent Congolese adventure, I was faced with the red carpet. I loathe red carpets but I had a cunning plan. Admittedly this plan had been conceived after a couple of drinks the night before and it seemed less cunning the next day. I had purchased a Zorro-style eye mask, and donned it before getting out of my car. There was an air of confusion among the “greeters” who weren’t sure whether to let me down the carpet or not.

I wandered past Peter Andre who was like a rabbit caught in the perpetual glare of the camera flashes. He had mislaid his entourage and seemed very lost. I slalomed between a bevy of buxom, perma-tanned beauties, all doing that looking-back-over-their-shoulder-pout-thing that they’ve all seen in rubbish magazines.

A man doing interviews grabbed me and asked me why I was wearing a mask. I did have some clever answer about me starting hidden camera again so I wanted to prove that I was a master of disguise … but I forgot this and waffled on about how I wasn’t really sure, and did he know where the bar was?

Finally off the carpet, I negotiated the endless tunnels until I found the box to which I had been invited. The show was two-and-a-half hours long, and experience had taught me to pace myself. It would not be the best of career moves to start drunken trouble in the ITV box the day after my new show had been commissioned. I’ve never been very good in that way. On the morning of the day Trigger Happy TV was first aired on Channel 4, I was arrested for breaking into the garden of the channel’s morning show The Big Breakfast while dressed as a 6ft carrot, and launching myself at the window behind the presenters while they were on air. This did not go down well with the bigwigs at Horseferry Road.

Back at the O2, the show was over, and we headed off for the party which was like wandering through a Heat magazine dreamscape – there’s Tom from The Apprentice, high-five Ant and Dec, give Dermot a hug, someone from Atomic Kitten, say something unfunny to Michael McIntyre and move on, spilling Bruce Forsyth’s drink as you go.

“Where’s the smoking area?” I asked Peter Andre, but he had lost his entourage again and seemed to be confused and close to tears. I eventually found it; it was star-free and full of TV executives bitching about their “talent”. The place went quiet as I entered and I found myself smoking alone in a corner.

Eventually it was time to go, and I started the epic feat of trying to find my car. This only took an hour, and I slumped into the back seat and breathed a sigh of relief. Usually this would be the moment that I would drunkenly Tweet something that I’d regret in the morning. I’ve become so responsible, however, that I’ve handed over control of my Twitter account. I send my tweets in, and they are filtered. It’s pathetic, but I really can’t be trusted to behave properly in showbusiness.

Steven Spielberg close to deal for ‘Moses’ movie

Of all the vast accomplishments over Steven Spielberg‘s vast career, he has yet to part the Red Sea.

Until now.

The Oscar winner is closing in on a deal with Warner Bros. to direct a Moses movie of biblical proportions, according Deadline.com.

“A movie like a “Braveheart”-ish version of the Moses story,” is how an insider described the Matti Leshem and Dan Lin produced project to Deadline. “Him coming down the river, being adopted, leaving his home, forming an army, and getting the Ten Commandments.”

Rather than a remake of Spielberg idol Cecil B. DeMille‘s 1956 “The Ten Commandments,” however, the project is being billed as a war movie closer to Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan.”

The perennially busy Spielberg, 65, who has two movies currently in theaters, just finished shooting “Lincoln” and is about to start his next movie behind the camera, the sci-fi epic “Robopocalypse.” But as he told the Daily News recently, he always finds time for projects that excite him.

“In 1996 and 1997 within 12 months, I actually shot the sequel to ‘Jurassic Park,’ called the ‘Lost World,’ ‘Amistad’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan,” he said. “All three movies were shot in 12 months and that had never happened to me before and I justified it only because my great heroes of the ’30s and ’40s would make between two and four movies a year when Hollywood was an organized dream factory and directors could go from assignment to assignment.”

The stars seem to be aligning for him to enter the promised land on “Moses” in early 2013.

Warner Bros. seems to be getting into the business of Jewish biblical heroes. The studio is also developing Mel Gibson‘s long-gestating movie about Judah Maccabee, who helped lead the Jewish revolt that inspired the holiday of Chanukah. That project has drawn criticism from Jewish leaders because of Gibson’s anti-Semitic remarks during a 2006 DUI arrest.

Rising Star: Liam McIntyre Of ‘Spartacus: Vengeance’

First Published: January 27, 2012 2:32 PM EST Credit: FilmMagic

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Caption Liam McIntyreIt’s a brisk evening in Southern California, just ahead of the first winter storm of the season, and the locals are shivering outside of Los Angeles’ famed Cinerama Dome, dressed in wool sweaters and coats, tightly wound scarves and industrial strength denim. But not Liam McIntyre.

Betraying the steely gravity he exudes on screen in leather and knives as the new lead of “Spartacus: Vengeance,” AccessHollywood.com’s newest Rising Star is grinning ear-to-ear, inflamed with a boyish excitement as he walks the red carpet at his first ever Hollywood premiere – an event for his own show.

“I used to set up premieres for like, Australian people at the cinema I used to work at, so I know what it feels like to carry a red carpet like this and set up these bollards, but I don’t know what it feels like to stand on here and be asked questions,” Liam told Access.

It was just a year ago, in fact, that the late 20-something actor was working in his native country, pulling a working stiff’s shift, and acting was still something he did on the side.

“I was deciding what movies they put on,” he told Access, in another interview, of his pre-breakthrough 9 to 5 gig. “It was a really cool job… Not anywhere near as cool as this job.”

There were small parts during that time — in an episode of HBO’s “The Pacific,” movie shorts and the long-running Aussie soap institution “Neighbours” — and his day job kept Liam in touch with his dream.

“I think I got that job because I wanted to be an actor,” Liam said of his cinema stint. “It was kind of cool to work and see your heroes every day as part of your job.”

But one day, a little over a year ago, the people who make the heroes called for Liam. The problem was his own body wasn’t actually ready to answer.

The actor had been working on a film – “Frozen Moments” – which, like Christian Bale in “The Machinist” or Michael Fassbender in “Hunger” — had required the Australian to drop a significant amount of weight.

Sitting there, more than 40 pounds smaller than his normal frame, the team behind Starz’ “Spartacus” series (having received the support of original star – the now late Andy Whitfield – to recast the role) told Liam they were seeking a new champion.

“They said, ‘We’re interested; we’re not sure; go and train for ages and ages, and then? Maybe,’” Liam recounted “It was a good reason to get into shape. So that was great. [I thought], even if it wasn’t going to work out, at least I’ll be fit.

“And then the good news came,” he added. “It was the greatest day of my life.”

Looks aside, it’s easy to see why he was cast. Off camera, Liam is genuine, down-to-earth, confident and charming, with a rare sense of humor, putting him somewhere between Tom Hanks and fellow Aussie Hugh Jackman. But on camera, he’s switches to something quite different, showing off a rare mix of being simultaneously both commanding and vulnerable.

When fans last saw Spartacus, in 2010, then played by Andy, the Thracian and his fellow gladiators had freed themselves from the bonds of Roman slavery, slaughtering their master Batiatus (John Hannah), and nearly all of his kin (Lucy Lawless’ Lucretia survived).

Like it is for Liam himself, the story of Season 2 is about the rise of a leader. For Spartacus, it is about leading a band of rebels on the run, on the way to forming a great army, and for the actor, it’s leading this new phase of the show.

“It’s the weirdest thing, I actually thought that somewhere in Episode 1… I thought, ‘How am I gonna lead, especially like the established… People like Manu Bennett – Crixus – and Dan [Feuerriegel] and Katrina [Law] and all these people. How do you take that on and lead these people?” Liam said. “So in a weird way, there’s some sort of dualism there, which is kind of cool.”

While audiences get their first taste of “Spartacus: Vengeance” on Friday night, Starz has seen enough of Liam’s leadership to know that the network wants more.

A Season 3 has already been greenlit.

“That was a relief. It’s really touching that they would back a show and me as the new guy in this huge role, this epic standard that’s been set by Andy,” Liam smiled. “That’s flattering if nothing else — and a real humbling experience.”

“I’m like the luckiest person in the world,” Liam told Access. “That’s comfortably easy to say.” “Spartacus: Vengeance” kicks off Friday night at 10 PM on Starz.

Copyright 2012 by NBC Universal, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Action, camera, lights: Chasing the Aurora Borealis on an epic Iceland adventure

By
Sebastian Lander

Last updated at 9:33 AM on 26th January 2012

Popular belief holds that the Northern Lights are a shy phenomenon.

Not only are they said to be elusive but difficult to photograph too and so when, after barely unpacking our suitcases, we see a greyish shaft of light opening up ahead like Batman’s calling card, we aren’t particularly hopeful.

Our guide Ellert reassures us that this is the real thing, that Iceland is (of course) the best place to see them and that we must be patient. So we snap away enthusiastically.

Sebastian Lander with the Northern Lights

And then there were lights: Sebastian poses against the backdrop of the Aurora Borealis – branded just a two on a scale of ten by Ellert the guide

Sure enough, like the ghosts that haunted the photographs of Victorian hoaxers, appearing only after they were developed, when we look at our cameras the results are spellbinding.

Wisps of green streak across a blue-black sky so starry that it could be snowing (thankfully, it’s not) and as we stand stamping our feet to keep warm, other smoky twists show themselves, faint but definitely there, shifting in shape and intensity with the night sky.

I could delve into the scientific specifics of the Aurora Borealis but then that might just spoil the magic – I prefer to think of them as voluminous billowing curtains of light peeled back across the horizon to reveal this mystic land of fire and ice.

And what a year to see them – NASA, no less, has predicted record activity for 2012, saying it will be the strongest in half a century.

A shot of the Icelandic landscape

On the road: A tour around the south of Iceland provides plenty of opportunity to catch the ever-changing light

Although if you pin your eyes only to the sky you’ll miss some of the most stirring scenery you might ever see – indeed, if you’re prone to a melancholic disposition, you’ll be in your element.

And of course, it is exactly this, or rather these – the elements – that have shaped the character of Iceland’s people.

Take Ellert for example, an ox of a man (and I mean this admiringly) who, for most of the time, is wearing pyjamas compared to our multi-layered approach to minus temperatures, a man for whom gloves seem an optional extra.

Although duck down and thermals are not needed all of the time. Particularly unnecessary when you’re sipping on an appropriately-coloured cocktail in the Blue Lagoon, our first port of call on a three-day expedition to some of most remote reaches of southern Iceland.

It is perhaps a trip that starts the wrong way round, bathing in the milky waters of this geothermal spa just over two-and-a-half hours after leaving London. The hardier activities are still ahead and our luxurious reward soon to be behind us.

The Blue Lagoon

Steaming on: The Blue Lagoon offers visitors the chance to socialise while they enjoy the warm waters

For many Icelanders, the Lagoon is a ritual – a social event-cum-wellbeing rolled into one.

The silica mud, the source of the water’s cloudy appearance, is coveted for its healing properties and chalk-white faces loom from clouds of steam as I wade through the lagoon in search of pleasingly  toasty pockets of warm water.

Fresh-faced, we press on to our destination. Hotel Hekla, so-called for its proximity to a most feared volcano, is to be the scene of our flirtation with the Northern Lights.

It is also where Ellert delivers the first in a series of characteristically factual – and unnerving – statements: ‘She is nine months pregnant and due any day.’

Farm buildings and green fields with ash plume of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in distance

Nuisance: At the end of the road that leads to the farm buildings beneath the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, there is an information board proudly displayed

Hekla, a name that even sounds aggressive, is one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes and has erupted some 20 times over the last 1000 years. In the Middle Ages it was known as the Gateway to Hell.

Obligingly, she has blown her top around once every decade over the past 50 years and in 1970, gave the locals just 25 minutes notice. Iceland likes to keep you on your frozen toes.

But for its hardy population, facts like these are just a part of life – they are a people forged in the fire of their island’s volcanoes and made hard by its ice. Their very fortunes seem as changeable as the land itself.

The next day, the light doesn’t check in until late morning, the earth’s crown in its wintery state petulantly tilting away from the sun like a spoilt child withholding affection.

In our van, we hug the coast as embers of light bleed onto the horizon just beyond the earth’s curve.

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon

Crystalline: Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is the largest in Iceland and the backdrop to two Bond movies

Ludicrously scenic clusters of illuminated, frothy cloud are backlit by the sun as it stretches its rays awake and the chameleon-like snow flushes now pink, now icy turquoise.

Iceland’s winter landscape is by comparison stark – telegraph poles stand in for trees and a steady stream of lone red-roofed farmhouses flow by, dwarfed by snowy peaks where tongues of cobalt glaciers slide lewdly between.

Lava fields of snow-covered black boulders flank the road, checked off by Ellert and named according to the date they were formed. Fields of fairytale horses with manes that appear to have been professionally coiffured brave the weather, looking up as we motor past.

We stop at the near-unpronounceable Eyjafjallajökull volcano, the hot-headed culprit of 2010’s  earth-stopping eruption, marked proudly by a picture of the property that stood its ground beneath it, the ash plume like a feather in its cap.

It seems incredible that the world was stopped in its tracks from here, the remotest of locations, like a Bond villain plotting the earth’s ransom from the base of a volcano.

Reynisfjara beach

End of the world: The black Reynisfjara beach is lashed by the waves

Ellert explaines the geological make-up of Iceland, which he can do in no less than five languages. Located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, it is a literal hotspot for volcanic and geothermal activity – in the past 200 years, 30 post-glacial volcanoes have asserted their dominance over this land.

We continue on to Reynisfjara, the southernmost point of Iceland, and like we are at the end of the world. The beaches are inky black and the ocean rolls in with a thunderous clap of warning.

Things can change quickly here. Bridges suddenly no longer bridge anything, the rivers they span deciding to spontaneously change course or a rush of melted glacier simply just washes them away. It’s a volcano-eat-volcano world where they stifle each other with their own eruptions. Nature is unfettered.

We make our way to Jökulsárlón, the largest glacier lagoon in Iceland, and the backdrop to James Bond movies Die Another Day and A View to a Kill. Icebergs jut out of the water, forming bluer-than-blue crystalline shapes, a winter sculpture garden carved by nature herself. A seal pops its head briefly out of the water to survey the scene.

On a glacier near to here, the HBO medieval fantasy series A Game of Thrones is being filmed – a fitting backdrop to a land that has a superbly unreal quality.

We make a stopoff at the geysers, where the smell of sulphur is overpowering and boiling water shoots out of the ground at regular intervals, the earth reminding us that, despite appearances, not all is calm beneath the surface of its crust.

A group of snowmobilers on the Langjökull glacier

Otherwordly: A group of snowmobilers on the Langjökull glacier where conditions can be rather tough

We also make the treacherous walk to the Gullfoss waterfall, a thundering two-tiered affair whose edges are adorned with mounds of creamy ice, like the solidified wax streams of a million melted candles.

For our drive into the interior, Ellert switches our van for a ‘super jeep’ which, with its super-sized wheels, would not look out of place ploughing its way across a line of cars at a monster truck convention.

We are tossed from side to side as the vehicle gives the snowbanks short shrift until the point where, after much reversing and ploughing forward and reversing again, Ellert delivers a knockout blow with typical understatement: ‘We are stuck.’

We laugh, because we don’t know what else to say or do, and we joke about what provisions people have. It turns out our collective supplies are a bottle of water, two lollipops and a few squares of chocolate which is soon squirelled away by its owner.

The van stuck in snow

Going nowhere: The super jeep had to be rescued by a super, super jeep

It is starting to feel a bit like a horror movie because not only are we stuck on a glacier in the ‘inhabitable’ interior, Ellert’s phone has no signal and I spy, although I wish I hadn’t looked, that we are in fact low on fuel too.

Conditions quickly turn hostile, everywhere is white and a bank of pillowy snow silently inches its way up the tires. A wall of swirling flakes quickly envelops our jeep, doing their best to shield us from view and it’s soon a white-out.

Ellert calls for backup and like a vehicular  version of Russian dolls, what can only be called a super-super jeep turns up and we all pile up and in. With characteristic brawn, Ellert begins digging our van out alone, his expressionless face set against the elements. He may or may not be wearing gloves.

The limey Britons that we are, we believe our snow-bound internment means a halt to our planned snowmobiling adventure, that we will instead be whisked back in our monster-monster truck to a warm bath and a cup of hot chocolate.

But of course, this is Iceland, where it’s man versus wild and we are soon blazing our way over the glacier, a snaking line of snowmobiles, yellowy lights blinking through a lace curtain of snow.

During what is an undeniably exhilarating ride, I’d love to say that I spend my time marvelling at the scenery of the Langjökull glacier, but I am far too busy trying to concentrate on being master over my machine. And obsessing over whether the feeling in my fingers – which are fast becoming as hard as wood – will ever return.

It is a welcome relief to spend a night amid the comfort of the Radisson Blu 1919 in Reykyavik, if only to gain the use of my extremities. We wander around the pretty streets and peer into the windows of shops selling temptingly warm traditional jumpers.

We take a walk up to the Hallgrímskirkja, the city’s magnificent landmark cathedral. It has a distinctly art deco feel as its tower concertinas out to form a pair of outstretched wings.

It is said to have been designed to resemble the lava flows of the local landscape but then nothing could really replicate the wonders of Iceland than Iceland herself.

Travel Facts

A double/ twin room at Hotel Hekla in January is £65 per person per night and a three-course dinner is £28 per person (www.hotelhekla.is +354 486 5540).

Prices for a standard room at the Radisson Blu 1919 start at £121 per night with breakfast (www.radissonblu.com/1919hotel-reykjavik).

Mountaineers of Iceland offers a one-hour snowmobiling trip on the Langjökull Glacier, including a super jeep ride there, Golden Circle tour (Gulfoss Waterfall, Geysir and Thingvellir National Park) and pick up and drop off to the hotel in Reykjavik for £182 per person. Bookings can be made at www.mountaineers.is.

A private superjeep with an English guide for four to five people from Snaeland Grimmson is £500 per day. Bookings and enquiries can be made at: www.snaeland.is +354 588 8660.

Blue Lagoon entry is £25 per person. Further details can be found at www.bluelagoon.com.

Return flights with Icelandair from Heathrow to Reykjavik start at £230 return and flights from Glasgow to Reykjavik start at £320 per person (www.icelandair.co.uk).

Travis Rice Signs With Contour

It’s been a big day for Travis Rice. After word dropped yesterday that he signed with hOme Watches, we got the news that he has also signed with Contour cameras. Here are the details and stay tuned for news of a third new sponsor for T.Rice later today.

“I chose Contour’s cameras amongst any others in the market out of pure necessity,” said Travis Rice. “Seeking out the best image in the category and a sleek profile just makes more sense. With a new arsenal of attachments, getting one-of-a-kind footage is only limited by your creativity. I am proud to be a part of the future of Contour!”

“Travis Rice is considered by many to be one of the most progressive snowboarders in the world,” said Contour CEO, Marc Barros. “Travis is using Contour cameras to capture experiences in his career that inspire fans and snow sports enthusiasts around the globe to share their own epic moments. We are proud to welcome Travis to the Contour family and look forward to the contributions he will make to our continuous product innovation and reel of exciting footage.”

Here’s more from the release:

DENVER, CO (SIA) – Jan 26, 2012 – Contour (www.contour.com) a market leader in making it easy to share epic moments, today announced a long-term partnership with professional snowboarder, Travis Rice. Rice becomes an official Contour partner and team athlete, using the company’s cameras and easy to use creation tools to capture and share his most stunning snowboarding experiences. Rice will support Contour through marketing and promotional activities.

Rice, also known as “TRice,” has won numerous global slopestyle, big air and backcountry events, including two X Games gold medals. The Jackson, WY native continues to push the envelope in establishing benchmarks in big-mountain audacity and was the winner of the 2005 and 2009 TransWorld and Snowboarder ‘Rider of the Year.” With his upcoming brainchild, the Red Bull Supernatural – a first-of-its kind backcountry competition taking place in Baldface, B.C., Rice plans to crown the best all-around snowboarder on the planet.

Known for its versatile, hands-free cameras and snow-specific mounts, Contour is a natural choice for snow sports adventurers who want to film and share point-of-view (POV) footage – in any terrain and any weather conditions. The range of cameras make it possible for anyone – from beginners to advanced – to capture and share POV video whether its of a first tumble-free run, or unbelievable back-country dominance.

  • ContourRoam – Simplest, hands-free camera with an Instant On-Record switch that allows you to simultaneously power and record with the touch of a button, along with capturing HD video up to 1080p using a 170 degree wide-angle rotating lens (fish-eye view without the distortion); waterproof up to 1 meter.
  • ContourGPS – Captures HD video up to 1080p with a 135 degree wide-angle rotating lens and includes built-in GPS to track speed, elevation and location, along with Bluetooth functionality to use a smartphone (iOS and Android) as a viewfinder to change setting, start/stop recording while on-the-go.
  • Contour+ – Prosumer, hands-free connected camera that shoots quality HD video up to 1080p with a 170 wide-angle rotating professional lens and includes built-in GPS to track speed, elevation and location, along with Bluetooth functionality to use a smartphone (iOS and Android) as a viewfinder to change setting, start/stop recording while on-the-go.  It also has an HDMI output and external microphone jack for more advanced uses.

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Revision3 Saw Major Increase In Viewership, Revenue In 2011

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rev3

Revision3 CEO Jim Louderback took to the Rev3 blog this morning and announced a 359% increase in total views and a 53% increase in revenue for the year of 2011.  Revision3 made smart acquisitions last year, including the extraordinarily successful Epic Meal Time, and by the end of the year, picked up one of YouTube’s all-time hits, The Philip DeFranco Show, which should make 2012 even better.  Rev3 also increased its YouTube subscribers across all shows to 4.5 million.  In addition to the audience and revenue, Rev3 is proud of their technological advancements over the year.

Revision3 Saw Growth, Focused On Mobile In 2011

Rev3 saw 800 million views in 2011.  But the other big focus for the company was changing to an HTML5 player across all platforms.  HTML5 is far less stressful on mobile devices and led to Adobe abandoning Flash on mobile.  So Rev3 went that route, and they have an Android app that works across phones, tablets, and Google TV.

In the world of advertising, they increased their average deal size 80% and have major advertisers like Verizon, Ford, Doritos, Sony, and T-Mobile, just to name a few.  What I liked most is that they attached themselves to that Epic Meal Time marketing train and partnered with them to produce bacon products, which are a Bacon-Flavored Salt and a Bacon-Flavored Spread.

The other thing is that Revision3 can be seen almost anywhere.  They’re on almost all devices like Roku and Boxee, and they are all over the Internet with Facebook, Twitter, AOL, Yahoo, DailyMotion, and more.  But where they might be proudest is getting onto airplanes–Virgin America features Revision 3 content.  Is it any wonder that their reach is valuable to advertisers, and that YouTube shows like Epic Meal Time and Philip DeFranco want to sign with them?

It’s pretty clear Revision3 is set to take on the exciting growth in video over the next few years.


What do you think? ▼

About the Author – Chris Atkinson
Chris Atkinson joined ReelSEO in 2011. He is a longtime film and television reviewer, and has almost two decades of experience in the theater industry. – View All Posts By

McDonald’s Is Immediately Following Its Epic #McDStories Fail With Another Twitter Campaign

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McDonald’s Immediately Follows Its Epic #McDStories Fail With Another Twitter Campaign

mcdonalds twitterOne day removed from the spectacular social media fail of McDonald’s #McDStories campaign, the chain is already following it up with another hashtag (via Mashable).

It’s #LittleThings, and McDonald’s is hoping it’ll prompt some instant redemption after the previous day’s catastrophe.

The McDonald’s Twitter account is fully branded for the new campaign, which exists to promote Chicken McBites — the popcorn-chicken-like product that’s being offered for a limited time in the US.

Now, the hashtag is equally as dangerously vague as #McDStories, but so far, things have worked out. However, Mashable points out that DoubleTree by Hilton has a promoted tweet campaign with the same hashtag, which could spark some conflict.

At least the tweets are pretty tame so far. The responses have been generally about every day tasks that make your day better (like a cup of coffee, or a laughing kid), but you have to bet that McDonald’s is keeping a particularly close eye on this hashtag after that epic disaster.

It just goes to show that social media can go wrong in an instant, but when the mistake isn’t all that serious, people are quick to forget — or at least laugh it off.

NOW SEE: 12 McDonald’s Menu Items That Failed Spectacularly

Hefferon: Patriots-Giants rematch will be another classic (Jan. 24)

Thanks to a Sunday afternoon full of sloppy play and shoddy special teams, the New York Giants and New England Patriots are headed to Super Bowl XLVI. The game will be a rematch of the epic Super Bowl XLII, when Eli Manning led a late touchdown drive to secure the Giants’ 17-14 victory.

For the Patriots, the opponent may be the only similarity between this year’s Super Bowl team and the squad that dominated the NFL in 2007. Whereas the 2007 team bulldozed through a perfect 16-0 regular season and set league records for points scored and point differential, this year’s team was able to sneak into the AFC Championship game without beating a single team with a winning record. Vince Wilfork is the only remaining standout from the staunch defense of four years ago, and the speedy Randy Moss has been replaced by the gargantuan Rob Gronkowski as Tom Brady’s primary target. Even the notoriously grim Bill Belichick was downright giddy after besting the Ravens on Sunday, cracking his best attempt at a smile and laughing it up on camera.

For the Giants though, this season looks eerily similar to that magical run to Super Bowl XLII.

Much like in 2007, the Giants were not expected to make the playoffs this season. The lingering stench of DeSean Jackson’s punt return to end last year’s campaign was compounded early in this year’s preseason by the loss of six defensive players to season ending injuries. Coupled with the hype surrounding the “Dream Team” Philadelphia Eagles, New York was expected widely to be an also-ran in the NFC East.

In both 2007 and 2011, the Giants got off to hot starts before slowing down in the second half of the season.

The relentless New York media blamed Tom Coughlin, ever the angry grandfather, for losing the team’s support and causing the collapse. Both seasons were turned around, though, when the Giants ran into the league’s undefeated powerhouse. They stuck around to the end of shootouts with the 15-0 Patriots in 2007 and the 12-0 Packers in December, losing both games by the same encouraging score: 38-35.

Those losses gave New York a boost in morale, and the team used that momentum to carry them through tough road playoff games to the NFC Championship. There, the Giants survived weather-beaten, fumble-filled games. Coughlin’s face was stop sign red in Green Bay snow in January 2008, and was soaked in a driving San Francisco rain Sunday, but both games ended in overtime, with Lawrence Tynes’ right foot sending the Giants to the Super Bowl.

One week from Sunday, this year’s Giants and Patriots will square off in Indianapolis, with fame, fortune and football immortality on the line. Much like the matchup four years ago, the Patriots will try to overwhelm the Giants with Brady’s passing and Belichick’s genius. The Giants will try to hit Brady early and often, and hope that Manning can once again win the game in the fourth quarter. The Patriots will be looking for revenge, and the Giants will try to make history repeat itself and party like it’s 2008.

As fans, we can only hope that we are treated to a game as unforgettable as their first Super Bowl meeting. A game decided by clutch plays, two-minute drills and miracle catches over the middle. A game that comes down to the wire and pushes us to the edge of our seats.

A game that we’ll still be talking about, four years from now.

 

Contact Jack Hefferon at wheffero1@nd.edu. The views expressed in this Sports Authority column are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Observer. 

Directors Kevin Smith and Spike Lee: Two Mouths Mightier than their Films

Kevin Smith and Spike Lee have very little in common – on the surface.

Smith is the pudgy fanboy fave behind “Clerks” and “Chasing Amy.” Lee is the combustible auteur who gave us “Do the Right Thing” and “Malcolm X.”

But both directors find their careers in serious decline, and they’re not going out without a fight. But instead of making great movies to smite their critics, they’re opening up their mouths far too often.

Smith has been playing this game for years now, ranting via Twitter and any nearby media outlet about how little his work his valued, all the while keeping up a pseudo-self deferential shtick. His latest salvo – blasting the Independent Spirit Awards for daring to snub his crude horror film “Red State.”

Lee is rocking a similar boat. His best work appears behind him, and yet he can’t stop talking as if he were still the same wunderkind who bowled audiences over with “Do the Right Thing” back in 1989. Remember his ungainly dust up with living legend Clint Eastwood about the number of minorities in Eastwood’s World War II film “Flags of Our Fathers?”

Lee recently let loose an expletive-filled tirade against Hollywood during a screening of his newest movie at the Sundance Film Festival. The irony that Lee’s latest, “Red Hook Summer,” might not have gained such a prestigious festival birth had Lee’s name not been made two decades ago wasn’t lost on the director. He acknowledged that fact indirectly during his rant.

So, is “Red Hook Summer” any good? Here’s TheWrap.com’s take on the film, which finds Lee playing the same character he developed for “Do the Right Thing:”

“Red Hook Summer” is confounding, divisive and messy. It’s a lament disguised as a comedy that turns into a brutal drama and ends up as an epic.

Others were less kind, Tweeting that the film marked “one of the worst films to ever premiere at Sundance.” Hey, it couldn’t be as bad as Smith’s “Cop Out,” right?

It would be great to see either Smith, Lee or both directors return to the headlines for all the right reasons. Instead, we’re left to feast on press-grabbing antics rather that movies that make us think, laugh and appreciate two formerly outsized talents.