CREATIVE CONNECTION – The start of the year is always a time for setting new goals and modifying old ones. Since pretty much all I do, both work and play, has to do with design and creativity, I’ve decided to modify my goals and learn more. I believe the key to personal growth is to gain experience and learning from people you admire and who inspire you.
This is why I wanted to do a bit of a research regarding the design and creative scene and find out what the trends are going to be in 2016. I asked seven creative persons from different places around the world what they think. Here’s what they came back with:
Aldis Hodge – Los Angeles, USA
The budding design trends for the past few years have been compartmentalism (grouping as many gadgets and assets as possible into one thing), remote A.I. communications (replacing real human interaction with digital communication via apps, texting, social media, etc.) and green tech (electric cars, self efficient gadgets). I think trends tend to be cyclical though, so while these will remain, they will however constantly evolve.
I hope green tech will continue to grow. Hopefully A.I. communications will begin to fade because it’s very important to unplug and reconnect in a humane way. I hope our next generation (who already seems addicted to phones and laptops) finds a balance between the two worlds. And as for compartmentalism, I feel like it will continue to persist just because of the curious nature of humanity.
As a watchmaker of fine haute horology (strictly old school mechanical, not digital) my first priority is to make the best working machine with the most awesome design possible. Most of the time I have to force myself to simplify my work because I’m always challenging myself to add more complications. But in my heart I know, I’ll never stop. It’s the curse of an inventor: How much new cool tech can I add and still make it look effortless?
MONSTERS AND CRITICS – I think the story of the Underground Railroad is just so exciting and thrilling and hasn’t been told, and it is one it was the first integrated civil rights movement in America, and I think that that’s the important thing to really highlight again today.- Misha Green
“Underground” follows a group of courageous men and women who use their ingenuity, power, and perseverance to attempt the greatest escape in history and break free, despite the dire consequences that awaited them on the other side.
At Winter tour TCA (Television Critics’ Association) the WGN panel included the “Underground” creative team, executive producer, Akiva Goldsman; creators, writers, and executive producers, Joe Pokaski, and Misha Green; executive producer, John Legend; executive producer, Mike Jackson; and executive producer and director, Anthony Hemmingway.
DEADLINE – Producers of WGN America‘s upcoming pre-Civil War drama Underground blasted the trivialization of slavery by those who use the horrific history as a metaphor for everything from Obamacare to gun control. “We’ve seen a lot of hyperbolic comparison,” said exec producer Akiva Goldsman at a TCA panel today. “Everything is ‘slavery’, everything is ‘the Holocaust.’ These words have specific meaning. It’s the corruption of words that begins the corruption of ideas. That is terrifying,”
Underground follows a group of slaves who escape from a Georgia plantation, traveling 600 miles to freedom and aided along the way by a secret abolitionist couple running a station along the Underground Railroad. The slaves are tracked by a group tasked with bringing them back dead or alive.
The era of the Underground Railroad, Goldsman said, “is a period of time in our history which has somehow become obscured by shadow. It’s not taught, we don’t learn it…it’s the vanishing of our past, and therefore the whole wonderful notion we are doomed to repeat it becomes ever more likely.”
Underground, he added quickly, is “not teaching history here, but this is the truth of where we come from.” Goldsman said the series is designed to be both entertainment and “edifying.”
TV Guide – Yes, WGN America’s Underground is about the Underground Railroad, the term given to the network of people and safe stations that allowed slaves to escape bondage in the South for the northern part of America and Canada. Although it’s a topic often explored in American history textbooks, the show’s writers and producers want you to know that this is decidedly not an educational exercise. “We didn’t want it to feel stuck in the period,” says John Legend, an executive producer. “We didn’t want people to feel like they were in a museum. We wanted it to feel fresh.” That begins with the musical direction. Although Kanye West was previously attached the project as a musical director, it’s Legend who’s the head honcho of the show’s sound (is you listen closely, you can hear his background vocals on the show’s theme song, “Heaven’s Door,” by Alice Smith).
Created by Misha Green (Sons of Anarchy) and Joe Pokaski (Heroes), Underground tells the story of people who dared to make the 600-mile trek from a Georgia plantation to freedom. The show digs into their humanity, bringing to life the small details you may (or may not) have read. “All I saw about the Underground Railroad was this little square in social studies,” said Pokaski. “The more I learned, I saw how dangerous and heroic it was to run.” With five seasons in mind, the creators are looking to tell lots of stories and illuminate the three-dimensional qualities of people we know little about. We’ll see, for example, their ingenuity, Green says — how people hid costumes, shipped themselves in crates or pretended to be white to get freedom for themselves and others.
Stars include Christopher Meloni, Aldis Hodge and Jurnee Smollett-Bell– sister of Empire star Jussie Smollet, who will guest-star; this will mark the first time in 20 years the siblings appear in the same series.
USA TODAY – The Underground Railroad, a path and a movement that allowed people to escape slavery in pre-Civil War America, forms the center of WGN America’s Underground (March 9).
Actors in the drama, which opens at a Georgia plantation in 1857, Friday told writers at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour that they appreciate the empowerment of the characters, who are charting their own course to freedom.
“It glorifies everybody’s strength,” said Aldis Hodge, who plays Noah, one of the escaping group’s leaders. “Noah realizes everybody around him has something he doesn’t have. It’s going to take a sense of community to figure this out.”
DEADLINE – When N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton took critics and audiences by storm, the cast were in for some major accolades, among them SAG and Critics’ Choice noms for the ensemble cast. Aldis Hodge–MC Ren in Compton–is also the lead in the new John Legend-produced series Underground and is currently filming the next Jack Reacher film with Tom Cruise, an experience he’s very much enjoying. “Tom has been remarkably awesome,” Hodge says. “He is really accessible when it comes to trying to learn something. He’s really forthcoming with information with his experience, how he sees filmmaking. His main priority is making sure that every actor on the film looks great, feels great, does great. He’s one of those actors who is trying to promote his team to be the best that they can be, and you can feel it. He speaks to everybody on set, he’s nice to everybody, because he understands. He’s not just an actor, he’s not just a marquee name on the ticket, he is also a producer. So he’s going to produce the best product.”
Hodge is no newcomer, having various TV projects on his resume (The Walking Dead, Leverage, Rectify, Private Practice, Castle), and film work (The East, A Good Day To Die Hard), but surely the response to Compton has been something of a head-turner for the cast? “At the end of the day we haven’t won anything yet,” Hodge says. “We can’t get too crazy, but what we have been doing is celebrating the success of it all. This was a big legacy that was on our backs, and we did not want to be the ones that messed it up. We wanted to get it right, we wanted to make sure that we represented these people well, we wanted to represent the fans well.”
TV LINE -WGN America’s highly anticipated journey through the Underground Railroad finally has a departure date.
Underground, the drama series starring Jurnee Smollett-Bell (True Blood), Aldis Hodge (TURN) and Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: SVU), will premiere on March 9, TVLine has learned.
We also have your first look at two trailers for the series, which provide introductions to the runaway slaves, the plantation owners who aim to keep them captive and the good-natured allies who provide shelter along the way.
Additional Underground cast members include Jussie Smollett (Empire), Marc Blucas (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Adina Porter (The 100), Jessica de Gouw (Arrow), Alano Miller (Jane the Virgin), Theodus Crane (The Walking Dead), Chris Chalk (Gotham), Reed Diamond (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Mykelti Williamson (Justified), Amirah Vann (Girls), Renwick Scott (Treme) and Johnny Ray Gill (Rectify).
The actor — who studied horology in college and is developing his own watch — names his top seven mechanical marvels of 2015.
Aldis Hodge would like to have gone to watchmaking school; he just hasn’t had time. The actor — who portrayed MC Ren in 2015’s Straight Outta Compton and starred for five seasons on TNT’s Leverage — studied horology as an undergrad at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design, basically creating his own major. “They didn’t have a watchmaking course. I consider myself a self-taught horologist,” says Hodge, 29.
Additional schooling would have gotten in the way of his on-fire acting career, which includes starring in the upcoming Jack Reacher sequel with Tom Cruise. So Hodge indulges his passion for watches between takes.
“The watches I love are haute aspirational,” says Hodge, a fan of such whizbang features as minute-repeater functions (which beautifully chime the hour) and mechanisms that find new ways to control force within a watch. “I’d like people to become more familiar with high-end engineering.”
WGN America, home of Manhattan and Salem, is debuting a new series in the new year focusing on the story of the Underground Railroad. The series comes from Misha Green (Sons of Anarchy), Joe Pokaski (Daredevil), and is also executive produced by John Legend (who will handle the score, soundtrack and all music elements of the series); it will revolve around a group of slaves on a plantation who band together to fight for their freedom. As WGN puts it,
“Underground” tells the story of revolutionaries who use their ingenuity, power and perseverance to attempt the greatest escape in history despite the dire consequences that awaited them on the other side.
Or as the trailer puts it, armed with a Bible and a gun: “When we run, ain’t no white man going to be able to stop us.” Check out the first teaser trailer below (which, like Manhattan, is stylishly shot and full of restive energy).
The series will debut on WGN America in early 2016. You can check out all of the character descriptions and posters here, as well as the new character posters below.
Today fans of Tom Cruise got some good news. Paramount Pictures has announced that principal photography has begun for the sequel to the 2012 action film, Jack Reacher. Check out all the details here.
Actor/Producer/Stunt Extraordinaire Tom Cruise is back at it again. Paramount Pictures, Skydance Media, and Tom Cruise have elected to go the franchise route with Jack Reacher, the 2012 action film based on the Lee Child’s book called “One Shot, which itself is part of a series of Jack Reacher novels. The new film will be titled Jack Reacher: Never Go Back and will be based on the 18th book in Childs’ Jack Reacher series titled “Never Go Back”. The new film is set to release on October 21, 2016, and will be directed by Edward Zwick. The film will be produced by Tom Cruise himself in addition to Don Granger, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, and Christopher McQuerrie. It will also feature Cobie Smulders, Danika Yarosh, Austin Hebert, and Aldis Hodge, among others.
For fans of action films, there is a lot to like here. First, the original film Jack Reacher pretty much gave fans what they were looking for and it’s always great to see Tom Cruise kicking ass. The film was profitable and earned mostly positive reviews. More importantly, it gave us the working relationship between Cruise and McQuerrie, which yielded the excellent Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. With this sequel, they’re back working together again, although McQuerrie, who directed the first Jack Reacher film, is only producing this time. Still, Edward Zwick has proven himself as a capable action-film director (Blood Diamond) to take over for McQuerrie, and has also worked with Cruise before to great success (The Last Samurai). It also helps that Zwick is helping to write the script as well. Typically directors do the best job when they are filming their own material.