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The Green Room: Interview with The LXD’s Christopher Scott

August 11th, 2011 by Rebecca Harper Editor

Now in its third season on Hulu, “The LXD” dance series is an original, telling the story of good vs. evil in an usual way: through dance. It’s the brainchild of Jon M. Chu, the same guy who brought us “Step Up 2: The Streets,” “Step Up 3D,” and Justin Bieber’s movie, “Never Say Never.” (He’s also reportedly working on a sequel to the G.I. Joe movie.) The dance troupe has been making the rounds lately—they’ve toured with the cast of “Glee” for two summers now, and have performed at the Emmys and at the TED conference. Most recently, they made their second appearance on “So You Think You Can Dance,” where the LXD’s Christopher Scott also served as a guest choreographer for several weeks this season. We spoke to Scott about the new season of The LXD a day before the group’s “SYTYCD” performance.

Don’t miss our interviews with The LXD’s Jon Chu and Harry Shum, Jr. (“Glee”), in our archives.

Hulu: So, Chris, tell us about the “So You Think You Can Dance” performance.
Christopher Scott:
The performance on “So You Think You Can Dance” is kind of, in a way, a continuation of the last piece that we did on the show. We start off with Galen and I on stage. We choreographed it together. We brought in an element of snow to set the season and tone. We like to engage with a place when we dance, to provide a place for the audience to experience a cinematic feel. We kind of add on routines until we have everyone on stage this time — last time we had people come and go throughout the routing. This time, we added a couple elements like flexers, who we showcase. And we have Pandora with her cutting. There are two ballerinas on pointe. It was contemporary the first time; this performance is more contemporary ballet.

We really wanted to show individual styles. That’s always a mission for The LXD: that street styles are as beautiful as your typical ballet. This one was very much an LXD ballet. Their story is more in the relationship that people have. It’s very subtle in the way that it represents society and where people belong, and where do you fit in. People get pulled into different molds … at the end, we all come together. Ultimately there shouldn’t be any rules.

I think you really got everyone’s attention when you choreographed “Misty Blue” for “SYTYCD” finalist Sasha and Season 4 All-Star Twitch. What’s the story behind that routine?
Originally, the only thing I knew going into the week was that I was going to get Twitch. Twitch has so much power, soul, and passion when he dances. When I listened to the song, it just sounded like Twitch would make this special. Then I found out it was going to be with Sasha, and I knew she’d be great. She’s not a hip-hop dancer, but rather a contemporary dancer. She has so much soul and passion, too. I knew the song was going to be perfect.

Listening to this song, it’s about a woman who was torn. She shouldn’t be with this guy. She misses him, but she shouldn’t be with him. It has this whole blues thing. I did a routine earlier in the season, “Ain’t No Sushine,” and in that one, I had it so that the girl was gone, away most of the routine.

One line in that song, “It’s been such a long, long time,” made me think about any couple who had been together such a long time. You know, they’ve been with each other for so long, but one night, they get the babysitter and go back to how it was. They go have fun, have a glass of wine, get freaky. I decided to just go with it from there. It’s a ’70s song, so I wanted to set it at the time the song came out. I pictured “The Wonder Years” and how they always had dinner on that show. I had it at dinner at first. But for some reason, it was so much more fun if it was breakfast. You know, it’s like she’s so much more important than work. Everyone wants that in a relationship, that feeling of being special. “Forget work, forget reading my newspaper, my relationship is more.”

Who’s your pick to win this season?
I haven’t gotten a chance to work with everyone on the show, so I’m a little biased. Sasha is just amazing. She is so easy to work with. She puts everything she has into it.

All of these dancers are good kids. They’re so hungry, so talented. Any one of them can win the show. When you work with them, it’s different than watching at home. You can’t pick your favorites.

Now, The LXD. What can we expect from Season 3?
Epic-ness for sure. We like epic, always. Season 1 was contained. It focused on meeting the characters. Season 2 introduced the bad guys and setting up the idea of good vs. evil. In Season 3, we’re going to see the impact of the fight. It will be good versus evil. You’ll get a taste of where this all began.

You’ve obviously been busy lately. How do you juggle the series and side projects — after all, you guys toured with “Glee” this summer?
This season was a little tougher. There has been so much opportunity from The LXD, where I started as a choreographer. Now I’m getting recognition and opportunity. It’s getting harder to be available. The same is happening for Harry [Shum, Jr.]. His role on “Glee” has gotten bigger since we started the show. But we’ve been able to build a bigger team and expand. We brought on more choreographers Galen Hooks and Mike Song, a great up-and-coming choreographer.

We got to see some of the series regulars get involved behind the scenes, too. Luigi and David had asked before about bringing some choreography to the series, and this season has been a great opportunity for these B-boys. Madd Chadd — the robot — wanted to jump into the choreography, and it was amazing to see what he could bring.

What’s next for you?
I’ve been hired to be a choreographer on “Step Up 4,” in fact I’m on the set right now. I met Jon on “Step Up,” I came on in “Step Up 3D.” I went to Hollywood High School for performing arts. I started in theater, even though I was a hip-hop kid. My CD case was full of Tupac, “Ragtime,” and “Les Mis.” From there, I attended the Theater Academy and then Second City for improv school. I studied dance, but I never found myself dancing. I always thought “I like to dance, but I love acting,” but as I let it all happen, it just took over. I’d just be in an elevator with my mom and sister, tap-dancing the whole time.

What have been some of your all-time favorite performances?
The first time we did “So You Think You Can Dance.” This was the first time we established what we were gonna do in live shows. Harry and I had no idea what we were gonna do. We had all this crazy stuff. But then we just looked at each other and said we should do a B-boy ballet. We see hip-hop as beautiful like ballet. That’s when it all started.

TEDTalks was pretty amazing: just to be invited, to have 18 minutes on that stage. We had original music. Live musicians were coming to rehearsals and we’d freestyle.

But “Robot Lovestory” is definitely my favorite of the series, for the style of Madd Chadd and to work with him. He’s so precise, and the concept is so cool. I don’t know if anyone out there really got the concept, but we had extensions of Madd Chadd — we called them his energies, these dancers — these extensions were coming off his body and going all over the room. It was fun. It felt like choreographing a superhero.

Mark of the Ox” was another. Just being there. It was freestyle. We had Frantick there with the powder. It was so music. He’d never done it before, but he just came out of his hood. It was silent, even the music was in a quiet section. Everyone was just laughing at him, because the stuff he was doing with this powder was off the top of his head. It brought his mom to tears. For a lot of these guys, they’re street dancers, and to be filmed like this, this is why we do this.

Catch new episodes of “The LXD” every Thursday on Hulu.

Last comment: about 12 hours ago 5 Comments

The Green Room: Chuck Co-Creator Chris Fedak Thanks Fans

April 6th, 2011 by Rebecca Harper Editor

With Hulu’s second annual Best in Show winner announced, we spoke to “Chuck” co-creator Chris Fedak to see if he’d share some thoughts on his show winning the competition and talk to us about the series and the growth of its characters over the last four years.

Hi Chris, we were hoping to talk to you about “Chuck” and how it won Hulu’s Best in Show. I have to admit I was surprised a little bit, because it won by a landslide, over “Dexter.”
Chris Fedak, co-creator, “Chuck”
: Well, first of all, thank you so much. It’s great to win, and we’re always in awe of our fans. They’re an amazing group. They’ve been fantastic to the show in years past and we’ve always relied upon then. I guess it’s kind of a testament to how much they really did the show, and we really like making the show for them, so it’s really cool.

Chuck” beat out three other critically acclaimed shows — “Modern Family,” “Community,” and “Dexter.” We asked this of Josh Gomez [who plays Chuck's sidekick, Morgan, on the show]: Do you think this indicates that “Chuck” belongs in the pantheon of all-time greatest TV shows?

Wow. I think it when it comes to the greatest of all time TV pantheon, I’ll let the critical historians 100 years from now make that decision. We’re just excited to be on the air, making our show, and being the absolute best action-spy comedy set inside a big box store that we could possibly be. We’re of course huge fans of all of those shows. It’s great, but I think I’ll leave the absolute pantheon to the experts.

Speaking of big box stores, I have to ask how that came about. “Chuck” came out at about the same time as “Reaper,” both taking place inside megastores. What is it about that kind of environment that inspired you?

Essentially, you have to go back to 2007. Imagine the fact there was actually two shows with a strong big box component that also had a strong genre component. At the time, Josh [Schwartz, co-creator of "Chuck"] and I were just amazed that there was going to be two shows. We thought obviously we would be the only show doing this. It didn’t turn out to be the case. The show is a mash-up. It’s a combination of one part “The Office,” one part “24,” one part “Alias.” When you mash those shows together, what happens? What we were really excited about is if you built the show like something like “The Office,” where you essentially met all these characters and you loved them, and then how terrifying it would be if Sydney Bristow or Jack Bauer came into the office, because you knew, when those people showed up, that someone was going to get shot, and someone was going to get tortured, and someone was going to get killed. That’s where the initial germ of the “Chuck” show came from. So the big box store was always there at the beginning. That was the basis for the idea: what happens when people from another genre, from an action show, walk into that world. It’s made for a really fun show that’s always been about bending genres. It’s been a lot of fun for us to be working with something so unique.

We asked our guest critic, HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall, what he thought was the secret formula to “Chuck.” And he said it was made with a lot of love directed at its characters and pop culture. What do you think of that?
I think it’s spot-on. I think this is a show designed for people who 1) love pop culture, 2) love TV, and 3) love movies and music. And in some ways, it’s also a love letter to spy shows from the past. When you take all those things together, we don’t have the largest audience in the world, but we do have an audience that just adores the show and really digs what we do. It’s made for that kind of passionate fan base that we talked about earlier. For us, it’s exciting to make as how that can be that specific and have fun with that.

Much has been made of the Subway campaign from 2009. Are you guys still seeing some sort of residual impact of this?
Well my father tells me he still goes to Subway every night we have an episode air, so I think there is some residual. You’d have to ask the experts at Subway if they see an uptick on Monday nights from “Chuck” viewing parties. It’s one of those things where it was very exciting in Season 2 when it was a toss up if we were going to come back or not, and the Subway campaign was a really clever idea by our fans to show how they could influence the show — and of course, looking at our integration partner Subway was a great way to kind of show their support for the show. It was a very clever and savvy campaign by our fans. I think that also speaks to our fans: it’s a very bright crowd. Our fans know about every campaign associated with our show. It’s kind of amazing. We’ve had two seasons since then.

I think that’s a true testament — people typically hate product integration.
The one benefit we have with product integration with our show is that we did set our story inside a store. So that helps a little bit.

Let’s talk about Season 4. I’d say the characters have grown a bit; you’ve shown that they can progress beyond that post-college world where they don’t know where their future lies. What have been some of your favorite moments this season?
I think this season has really been about change, especially for our characters. The show started off as a show about a quarter-life crisis, with Chuck not sure what he wanted to do with his life. But it’s now four years later, so he’s much more of a man than he used to be. Just from Chuck’s perspective, we’ve had some great moments this season where he’s coming to realize that he needs to take the next step with Sarah Walker. Just looking at this season, I immediately think about episode 13 when he finally asked Sarah to marry him. It’s really bookended by episode 11, where he starts to ask her to marry him, and in episode 13 after the birth of his niece, in the hallway with the someone vacuuming at the far end of the hall, he decides to ask Sarah to marry him. I think for us, just working on the show, that was just an epic moment that we’ve been building to for four years. Much like, in the same episode, Ellie and Awesome giving birth to their child. It’s so interesting to take these characters who in the pilot only had a couple of lines and progress them through the show this season.

I think that Chuck seeing his mom for the first time and beginning to understand her backstory and why she left so many years ago was also a very important component to his journey this year. We’re working on our season finale now where, for him to have a happy ending and for him to survive, he’s going to have to become the hero he has to be. If he can do it, this is his greatest test. The finale will very much be a giant moment for Chuck Bartowski moving forward.

You’ve had an incredible run of guest stars through the years. Who have been your favorites, and who can we look forward to seeing in the rest of the season?
Back in the day, we’d say we were the “Love Boat” of spy shows. We found it really fun to write for guest stars. Just off the top of my head, I’d say there’s people like Chevy Chase who, in Season 2, was amazing to work with and actually write that character, Chevy Chase as a villain. I think we were the first show to kill off Chevy Chase, which is kind of a shocking thing to do. I’m kind of amazed my that. We’ve also had John Larroquette. I was a huge “Night Court” fan for many years. It was great to not only introduce him as Roan Montgomery but also to bring him back this season. That’s the kind of fun thing about our show. We’ve built this spy world, much like “Alias,” which is one of my favorite shows and helped to rejuvenate the genre. In Season 4, we revisit this spy world with guest stars like Dolph Lundgren. But I really enjoyed the character of Alexei Volkoff [played by former James Bond Timothy Dalton, and named after the Russian wrestler Nikolai Volkoff, a nod to Chris' days as a WWF fan]. We’ll get to see him again in our next episode.

Now what about the season finale? Since the fate of “Chuck” hasn’t been decided yet, will you leave things hanging?
We’ve always been inclined to do really crazy season finale episodes. This one is called “Chuck vs. the Cliffhanger,” so you know it’s going to be a big one.

Last comment: about 14 hours ago 5 Comments

The Green Room: Josh Gomez Talks “Chuck” and Best in Show

April 5th, 2011 by Rebecca Harper Editor

With “Chuck” soundly beating “Dexter” in Hulu’s second annual Best in Show, we asked “Chuck” star Joshua Gomez (who plays Chuck’s sidekick, Morgan Grimes) about the contest and maybe even give us a little scoop about the rest of the season via email. Stay tuned tomorrow for an interview with the show’s co-creator, Chris Fedak.

Hulu: “Chuck” finished out the competition soundly beating three of the most critically acclaimed shows — “Modern Family,” “Community” and “Dexter” — of the last few years. Do you think this is validation that Chuck belongs in the Greatest of All-Time TV Pantheon?


Josh Gomez:
It proves that “Chuck” FANS are among the Greatest of All-Time TV Fans! There are a lot of great shows out there right now, and we’re proud to have healthy competition. We love making “Chuck,” and we couldn’t do that without all of the support from our fans.



What was it about Season 4 that you think got “Chuck” fans mobilized to get out there and vote? After all, the show didn’t make it to the Final Four last year.
What it was was the end of an era known as “Lost!” It’s one of my favorite shows, and I might have had a tough time choosing last year.
 But back to this year: Season 4 has had some of my personal favorite episodes, and overall has been so much fun for me, thanks to Morgan joining Team Bartowski. Chuck and Sarah are moving forward in their relationship, Morgan even has a great girl (despite her overly protective Dad), and the good guys are still beating the bad guys. Life is good on Chuck.
 


We asked our guest critic, HitFix.Com editor Alan Sepinwall — a huge fan of the show — what he think the “secret formula” is to “Chuck.” He said this: “The show’s made with a lot of love, for both its characters and for the pop culture that its writers and fans grew up on, and that comes across.” How much of this do you think is true?
I would say a lot of that is true. The show really speaks to our fans. It has witty humor, fun references, and TONS of heart. It’s a show that attracts young, hip people, nerds (like myself), and even many families watch and enjoy it together. We hope to bring quality entertainment to our smart and loyal fan base. 
 


What do you think the “secret formula” is? 


It’s a show about an ordinary guy in an extraordinary situation. Well, a super-extended, possibly permanent extraordinary situation with the Intersect being in his head and all. But Chuck is someone people can relate to. And so is Morgan. It’s exciting to play a regular guy that has to help save the world from bad guys. It’s basically like my childhood dream. Maybe that’s the secret formula.



Do you think this confirms that the Chuck fan base is one of the most loyal and enthusiastic in TV? What do you think makes them so passionate about this show?


Umm … YES!!! Many of our fans relate to the show, as I’ve already mentioned, and many are also tech savy. Plus they RULE. Thanks everyone!!!
 


What can we expect from Season 5? And are we in for a 2012 repeat of Best in Show?


Season 5 — fingers crossed that we get there — will be awesome (pardon my McPartlin voice). We’ll be revealing another game changer the end of Season 4. Next season, there will be more action, more fun, more goofiness, more heart, more everything. I can’t give details, but I think you’ll love it. 


Last comment: about 8 hours ago 5 Comments

Hulu Interview: Michael Imperioli

March 21st, 2011 by Ben Collins Editor

Michael Imperioli has been your mobster and your intrepid TV detective. That’s probably how you know him — as Christopher from “The Sopranos,” or as Det. Fitch, the guy pinning down Michigan criminals as they try to make a beeline out the door of an interrogation room in “Detroit 1-8-7.” He’s tremendously proud of that show right now. It just finished its first season on ABC. The season finale was just posted on Hulu. It’s the only thing on TV right now that works like “NYPD Blue” worked, in that unrelenting, not-quite-so-perfect way procedurals should be. It fills a hole, it has great purpose, and he loves it.

But it’s not his magnum opus. That’s where “The Hungry Ghosts” comes in, an expansive window of how Michael Imperioli looks at the world in the eyes of five characters. It’s a film he wrote and directed with a few friends and some great funding, and it was well-received on the festival circuits in 2008. To mark its premiere on Hulu, we called Imperioli to talk about how he feels about “Detroit 1-8-7” after one season and “The Hungry Ghosts” a few years later.

Hulu: Now that the first season of “Detroit 1-8-7″ is over, have you had a chance to look back at it and see how it looks as a whole, and how the show’s grown?
Michael Imperioli:
I’m really pleased. It’s really funny, because I think it took some time in finding out what the show is. And I’m really pleased that the direction that the writers took. It’s half character-focused and half procedural. Toward the end of the season, we put a lot more into the characters, more into the city. We wanted to extract stories from the vibe of the city and not superimpose the crime of the city on it. I think, in the end, we did a very good job that, and we did a good job of doing justice to the feel of the city.

What I think sets “Detroit 1-8-7″ apart is that it’s not quite as tidy as usual procedurals. There’s actual character development. A lot of procedurals have a whole episode and take 30 seconds at the end to advance whatever relationships are between the characters. This show cares where its characters are going.
I think it’s much more character-driven than other shows like this. It shows what happens on both sides of the law — going into their lives and seeing what their personal lives are like to see why someone might have done something. There used to be more shows like this, like “NYPD Blue,” “Hill Street Blues.” There’s a history of that in the past. “Colombo,” even. In recent years, the procedural element of it, the technology of it has kind of taken over. It’s much more interesting to me — the procedure of solving the crime — than the courtroom side of it. I find that very interesting. Some people might find that very boring.

There’s a tendency for Detroit-related shows and art to be poverty tourism, where they use the name itself as a scare tactic. But “Detroit 1-8-7″ seems to have a pretty good feel of the city.
Before the show started, I hadn’t been to the city. I had just seen the pilot script. The pilot of the show was shot in Atlanta. I think we all initially wanted to do it in Detroit, but we were very concerned about weather. There’s a very small window of time in which we could shoot. There’s lot of snow in the Midwest, and then they weren’t really sure where they’d shoot it if it got picked up. So we went to Detroit to investigate, and we found out that it was the only place where it really belonged. Some people got a little upset because they had no idea what they were making. They thought we might be exploiting the negative image. But when you’re there, you find out it’s just a label and a misconception. There are a lot of problems there, but there are a lot of problems everywhere. There’s a much richer life that’s going on there, and I think we did a very good job of letting people know about it.

Hulu is now streaming “The Hungry Ghosts,” a film you wrote, produced and directed, and it comes off as a very personal film about your beliefs at that time in your life. You’ve had a couple of years to look back on it since it came out. Is there anything you’d change in the movie because of something you’ve experienced since then?
No, no. I made the movie I wanted to make. I was lucky to have the freedom and assembly of talent to put this together just how I wanted to.

This movie comes off as sort of a magnum opus of sorts. It’s sprawling and big and has big moral points in it. Do you think writers and directors are capable of a few projects this big in one lifetime?
Absolutely. Hopefully as I grow and mature and change as an artist, these expressions are going to change. And hopefully you’re still as passionate about your work as you were in the past. I was very, very fortunate that I had some friends who financed the movie and was able to make it the way I wanted.

The way “The Hungry Ghosts” is broken up into vignettes can pose a real challenge in keeping the film moving forward. It’s usually very hard to get momentum in such a segmented sort of movie, but this has a great pace. Were you conscious of this while making it?

You’ve just got to use your instincts while you’re editing and just try to imagine the movie as a whole as you’re writing. I didn’t really look at other movies to give me any ideas, but you’ve got to keep a certain balance.

There’s a very distinct media saturation element in the film — about how affected we are by what’s been deemed acceptable in mainstream circles.
Well, this film, to me, is really about the characters and the story. That should be the first thing. I can’t predict how it’s going to be received. That was an interesting thing with “Detroit 1-8-7.” I was in Detroit during a very interesting period of time, right after the show started airing, and there was an immediate response from the people of the city. They’d see me at a restaurant and tell me how much they liked it. I got almost immediate feedback. Some people felt a very strong connection to the show. I think they felt that it was a certain quality, that the country might be able to perceive Detroit in a positive way. And that’s very gratifying.

Last comment: Oct 9th 2014 4 Comments

About the Artist: Justin Martin

November 14th, 2010 by Betina Chan-Martin Product Manager

To celebrate our 5 week long holiday promotion, we reached out to Los Angeles-based artist Justin Martin to create an original drawing to capture the essence of the holidays. In his untitled wintry illustration, he portrays a young family walking home in the sunset from a day of sledding in the snow. Below is a brief Q&A with the artist. Be sure to check out more of his work on his blog. — The Hulu Team

What are you currently working on?
My 9 to 5 gig- though it is anything but- is as Background Painter at Warner Bros. Animation. I’m currently working on a new series called “The Looney Tunes Show”, due to air in 2011 on Cartoon Network.
I’m also creating all the artwork for a new graphic novel with the working title Badge of the Guardian, about a young boy who goes on a wild adventure in Outer Space.
Mainly, however, I’m trying to play the role of Dad for my 11 month old daughter. Maybe I should have started with that, as it’s unquestionably its own full time job.

What has been your most unusual project?
That’s a tough call. Each project has its own unique quirkiness. That’s a major reason why I opted to go into the Animation Industry. I’ve made monsters with tank turret underwear attacking the Golden Gate Bridge, space pirates who listen to Reggae while “beaming up” unsuspecting human prisoners, and an evil genius beaver who lives in the Hoover Dam. The weirdness just doesn’t stop around these parts.

On second thought, though, I might go with the whole fatherhood thing again. That certainly fits the “unusual” criteria.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Anywhere and everywhere I can. I’ve always thought that one of the most important lessons an artist can learn is to maintain constant awareness. There’s a Huxley book called Island in which talking birds are trained to fly around saying only the word “Attention”. I need one of those birds.
Instead I try to carry a camera with me everywhere I go, and to always have a book going. I have an “inspiration” section on my own blog that I stopped updating a long time ago because the list just got too enormous. It’s really staggering how many amazing artists there are out there, each with his or her own viewpoint, medium, or technique.

What is your favorite subject matter?
Anything thought provoking. I like to make pieces that you have to take a closer look at, so the subject has to have some depth to it. (See earlier answer re: space pirates and evil genius beavers.)

Do you prefer to use a pencil and paper, or a Wacom Tablet?
I generally sketch on paper in the early stages and move to digital a little later down the line. Some day I intend to get back to much more traditional media, but some of the chemicals involved aren’t so good for babies so it may be a while. Until then digital is nice and clean.

What are you favorite shows on Hulu?
I loves me some Arrested Development and 30 Rock. Modern Family is also great. We saw the guy that plays the dad who always slips on the stairs when we were out the other day. Part of me wanted to pull his earbuds out just so I could tell him how awesome he is.

Last comment: about 9 hours ago 4 Comments