At the driving range with his girlfriend, rookie cornerback Ricardo Allen summed up the underlying theme of HBO's "Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Atlanta Falcons." When asked about his outlook on the chances he'll make the 53-man roster Allen responds: "One day you're top of the world, the next day you might not be."
Allen's words, though not prophetic, outline the brutal nature behind the business of the National Football League. Unlike the no-cut policy at my small, liberal Atlanta private school (What up, Paideia?) professional sports teams have to actually tells folks they're not good enough to play. Last night's finale was low on action, heavy on Head Coach Mike Smith's goodbyes to the rookies and veterans who got cut and walked away from Flowery Branch with Mali Music's "Walking Shoes" playing in the background. Here are the highlights from the "Hard Knocks" finale with a few end of the season (the show's run, not the team) awards thrown into the mix.
Before last night there were only two episodes left of "Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Atlanta Falcons," which means it was time for some cutting. In the closing weeks of preseason, Head Coach Mike Smith and General Manager Thomas Dimitroff have to get their roster from 90 to 53 players before the Falcons first regular season matchup on Sun., Sep. 7, against the New Orleans Saints.
The tone of the episode was best prefaced by narrator Liev Schreiber — via the show's writers — who said it's time for the guys to "grow up or get out." If anything, the penultimate episode was about reminding players that regardless of their larger-than-life frames, the National Football League is a place where mental toughness trumps everything. As expected, some of the guys on the roster understood that sentiment better than others. Per usual, we've got the breakdown of last night's highlights, which proved no player is guaranteed a job, even Ivy League grads.
Why use a file photo to lead off this recap when we can just roll with William Moore's freestyle? Like the return of the D-Block figurehead's locker room-rapping ways, last night's episode of "Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Atlanta Falcons" reminded us just why we love — and are easily frustrated by — our beloved Dirty Birds. With the exception of Julio Jones and Matt Ryan's telepathic connection, there wasn't much great football to be seen, but then again that's not why we watch this show. Per usual, we've got other the rest of last night's semi-football related highlights.
The honeymoon is over. Last night's episode of "Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Atlanta Falcons" wasted no time in showing us the not-so-happy side of NFL training camps. Poor, poor, poor, Roosevelt Nix-Jones seemed so happy in the opening seconds, but then the music got dramatic and everyone from Mike Smith to the little messenger kid got all awkward when it was time for the team's first cut. From then on, a kind of paranoia and desperation was felt by everyone not named first or second string for the rest of the hour. Like last week, here's another round of highlights.
There's a moment towards the beginning of HBO's "Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Atlanta Falcons" where head coach Mike Smith greets rookie Ra'Shede Hageman in his office wearing Teva sandles. After once turning down HBO's offer to be on "Hard Knocks," the Falcons seem pretty comfortable with the 30-person NFL Films crew following their every move. Despite the skepticism from reporters and fans alike, the opening episode proved entertaining and mostly harmless to the well-being of the team, unless you count the rookies versus vets beef as a thing.
In the words of running back Steven Jackson, "Regardless of what your paycheck reflect, you've still got feelings and emotions." That sentiment more or less breaks down the genius behind the Emmy-winning, cinema verité-style sports reality show, and why it succeeds at being some of the best television around. Over the course of the next few weeks we'll witness men competing for, in some instances, their livelihood. There's no "Bachelorette" they're trying to seduce, or "Amazing Race" they're looking to finish. It's either you make the squad or you hop in the unemployment line.
Instead of a play by play, we'll break this week's ep down by the most memorable characters and moments leading up to their Friday Night Lights scrimmage.
Clocking in at 52% "Rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and striking out with a close, but disappointing third place box office showing, Clint Eastwood's Trouble With the Curve did little to shake the notion, posited by Indiewire's Gabe Toro, that "baseball generally doesn’t draw. Despite the number of classics that have emerged from the most cinematic of sports."
Could a mediocre opening, coupled with baseball's lack of play overseas (other than Japan), spell doom for baseball movies?
Toro continues, "Curve spotlights a baseball scout, an insular, nerdy profession that seems to run counter to the attitudes towards Eastwood, the Last Hard Man. Audiences flocked to [boxing movie] Million Dollar Baby once the strong accolades came in (and because of Morgan Freeman’s delicious caramel voice), but Gran Torino very clearly tapped into the primal appeal of Eastwood as a take-no-prisoners shit-kicker. To most of the audience who enjoyed that film, Clint starring in Curve as a cranky old codger in a zero-violence setting probably held little appeal."
While some speculate the Clint's infamous RNC speech affected the box office—insert your own empty chair joke here—others like Paul Dergarabedian, analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com, postulate that, "It probably was offset by the attention his appearance drew to the movie among conservatives...Whatever he lost on the left, he gained on the right."
Once upon a time, baseball was the national pastime. (Now it has been supplanted by arguing about NFL replacement refs.)
The sport itself once set the stage for epic, timeless stories.
People would actually come to baseball games. AND baseball movies.
Perhaps the biggest sign that baseball movies, and sports movies as a whole, have migrated out of the main stream into the fringes is this:
Basking the post-closing ceremony glow, and still recovering from the Spice Girls reunion, here are some sporty (wink) movies that give you what you really really want, to assuage your inevitable Olympics jones.
The two best Olympics films are Olympiad documentaries:
Sometime Atlantan Samuel L. Jackson returns for his third season as the Falcons pitchman in this new ad that expands upon the "Rise Up" theme. I like this spot because it acknowledges the team's recent successes, but makes the candid admission that there's more work to be done—in 2012 it's Super Bowl or bust.
Meanwhile, Mr. Jackson (cuz we're nasty) has been entertaining the HELL out of anyone following his Verified Twitter feed (https://twitter.com/SamuelLJackson) with a stream of consciousness, expletive-filled thread which he unleashes live alongside NBC's nightly Olympics Broadcast. He's really doing it himself—he even posted a photo to show everyone:
After his rather staid Siri commercial, it's good to get a taste of what Mr. Jackson't conversations with his iPhone really sound like.
Not interested in the Olympics you say? Follow this stream, and you may find yourself helplessly addicted:
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...err OK, this coming Friday, August 3rd at Turner Field, is Star Wars night at the Ball Park.
What exactly do baseball and the trillion dollar milestone sci fi franchise have in common?
More than you think:
But beyond the obvious, we've uncovered more ties between the two:
— Exclusive! According to our own Besha Rodell, Cameron Diaz must not be a fan of takeout since she was spotted at LeRoy's, Miller Union and Ecco this week.
— An Atlanta college is serving as a filming location - nope, not Agnes Scott. Nope, not Emory. No … not even Oglethorpe. It's SCAD! Lea Thompson was spotted at SCAD-Atlanta filming a TV movie called Gamers. Some students even got a chance to be extras. Gamers also filmed at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville.
— Looking to
stalk catch a glimpse of the dozens of celebrities currently in town? @AJCBuzz suggests you head on over to South City Kitchen.
— Company 3, a technical and creative services firm with two sister offices in New York and Los Angeles, is opening a new facility in Atlanta. #BigTime
— Cheryl Cole (pictured) was spotted in town (looking unhappy, I'm going to guess it's related to the heat) on the set of What To Expect.
— Sports fans don't forget about our local athletes! A lot of Falcons are on Twitter (Harry Douglas, James Sanders, Tony Gonzales, Roddy White, Marquez Branson and newcomer plus candidate for Best Hair of all Falcons Players Matt Hansen for example), where they sometimes talk about going to Cactus Carwash. And don't forget about the Braves! Jason Heyward, Peter Moylan and Kris Medlen are some local Twitter-stars, to name but a few.
— Support local film making! People.com gives us a first look at the Atlanta-filmed American Pie: Reunion movie (yes, it's been that long since the first one came out. Feel old yet?)
— Check out some more info about the upcoming Billy Crystal sports movie filming in Atlanta, Us and Them, and notice there are two more films slated for filming here in the fall: Neighborhood Watch with Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller, and Flight staring Denzel Washington. #CantStopWontStop
— Dalton native J.R. Martinez, a severely burn-wounded Iraq veteran who is also an actor ("Martinez has played 'Brot Monroe' for the past three years on the daytime soap opera 'All My Children'") is slated to dance with the stars during the upcoming season (competing against the likes of Ron Artest, Kristin Cavallari, Nancy Grave, Ricki Lake … I know who I'll be rooting for!)
— A tad outside the Atlanta area, but still worth a mention: actors and film crews are being sought for three local productions in Savannah.
Have any tips? Sightings? Encounters? Filming news? Drop me a line: ATLwood@cln.com or send me a tweet @FlossyAlli on Twitter (don't forget to use the hashtag #ATLwood)!
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