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January 11, 2005 - Image 9

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-01-11

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 11, 2005 - 9

Coach Carter
approves of his
cinematic story
By Jeffrey Bloomer
Daily Arts Writer
In January of 1999, high school basketball coach Ken
Carter benched his entire Richmond, Calif., basketball
team, which had previously been 13-0, after a small
number of his players began to slip academically. The
resulting firestorm of publicity, both positive and nega-
tive, brought Carter's story into the national spotlight.
Six years later, Paramount Pictures and MTV Films
have collaborated for the cinematic version of the story,
a project that came about to Carter's surprise.
"The lockout received a lot of national attention,"
Carter said. "When the calls first started coming, I
thought they (were) jokes my friend was playing with
me and stuff of that nature. It's kind of surreal when
* people start calling you and say ... we would like to
Wmake a movie of your life.'"
"Coach Carter," directed by Thomas Carter ("Save
the Last Dance"), also had another surprise in store for
the basketball coach: the casting of Samuel L. Jackson
in the title role. Ken Carter, a fan of Jackson's, couldn't
have been more pleased.
"He's the actor's actor. He's the No. 1 guy."
Jackson resembles Carter little beyond the shaven
head they both sport, but he says that what was really
achieved went far beyond simple appearance. "He had
0 my mannerisms down, the way I hold my hand," he said.
"When you see Mr. Samuel L. Jackson ... you are almost
looking at a mirror image of Coach Carter."~
The movie also stars an array of young actors as
the Richmond Oilers, including Rob Brown ("Finding
Forrester") and Rock Gonzalez ("The Rookie"), all of
whom Carter say wonderfully capture the young people
he knew as a coach. The film also marks the feature
film debut of hip-hop star Ashanti, who Carter said did
''an excellent a job'' in her role as a player's pregnant
girlfriend.
Carter played a central role in the actual production
of the film as well, more than he had originally antici-
S pated. "A lot of times, when they buy life stories ... they
make the movie and they have the person go away. I was
fortunate."
He also had extensive dealings with the filmmakers.
"They interviewed me constantly. I spent a lot of time
with both writers and the director and the producers."
fCarter was also hired as a consultant on the film and
was on the set every day of the production. He went on
to note that being there reminded him of his coaching
job in Richmond, with a group of people who worked as
a unit to achieve the best final product possible. "Every-
one in the cast worked as a team. We ran it like a team. I
fwas still coaching, but it was just in a different arena."
After seeing the film's final cut, Carter said the story

DVDs capture animated absurdity

By Alexandra Jones
Daily Weekend Editor

After establishing their shows as cult
favorites, the creators of some of The Car-
toon Network's Adult Swim's biggest hits

"Sam Jackson ain't got shit on me..

have released DVD
collections from
the network's Sun-
day night line-up
of extremely weird
adult-oriented
animation. 'Aqua
Teen Hunger
Force: Vol. 3"
and "Space Ghost
Coast to Coast:
Vol. 2" ("SGC2C")
highlight some of
the best of Adult

Space Ghost
Coast to
Coast Vol. 2
and
Aqua Teen
Hunger, Force
Vol. 3
Warner Bros.

Swim's animation oeuvre. "SGC2C"
originated more than a decade ago when
Cartoon Network recycled an old car-
toon, Alex Toth's 1966 series "Space
Ghost."~
The show gradually evolved into its
fake talk show format, interviewing live
action celebrities within a show created
without regard to the interviews' con-
tent. Space Ghost (now going by his real
name, Tad Ghostal) has interviewed Matt
Groening, Radiohead's Thom Yorke, Jim
Carrey, Fran Drescher and Michael Stipe,
among others; Pavement and Thurston
Moore of Sonic Youth have both per-
formed on the show. Cartoon Network
aired "SGC2C" at midnight on Fridays
throughout the late '90s, and the 15-min-
ute program was later incorporated into
Adult Swim's Sunday lineup.
"Aqua Teen Hunger Force" ("ATHF"),
also clocking in at fifteen minutes, is
unique to the Adult Swim lineup simply
because the characters and animation are
originals, not repurposed and revoiced
from corny Hanna-Barbera cartoons.
However, the characters - sassy bas-
tard Master Shake (a giant talking milk-
shake), computer whiz and straight man
Frylock (a floating box of fries who can
shoot laser beams out of his eyeballs)
and Meatwad (a shape shifting ball of
hamburger) - originally appeared on a
"SGC2C" episode. The three anthropo-
morphic fast food items live together in
a house in New Jersey; in the past, they
supposedly solved crimes. Now, they
just piss off their pathetic ex-metalhead
neighbor Carl and deal with (i.e., ignore
or make fun of) bizarre aliens and mon-
sters who pass by. The show's original-
ity and humor really has to be seen to be
appreciated.
"SGC2C: Vol. 2" and "ATHF: Vol.
3" both feature some of each series' best
episodes. Guests on the "Space Ghost"
DVD include Janeane Garofalo, Carrot
Top, Ben Folds, Method Man and James
Hetfield and Kirk Hammet of Metal-

lica. The episodes on
"Aqua Teen" are
relatively recent,
and part of a con-
tinuing streak of
great episodes:
"Frat Aliens,"
perhaps one
of the series'
best episodes,
kicks off the first
disc, followed
by "Revenge of k
the Trees" (the one
where some local trees
are angry), "The Cubing"
(the one with the wisdom cube) and
"Spirit Journey Formation Anniversa-
ry" (the one where Shake writes a new
Birthday Song), among others.
In addition to the truly awesome epi-
sodes on these DVDs, Warner Bros. has
stocked each collection with a bounty
of sweet extras. One of the fundamen-
tal ways that the series differ is in how
they're animated. "Aqua Teen" is cre-
ated entirely with computers, using
Adobe Photoshop images and Final Cut
Pro. "Space Ghost," however, was made
five to ten years before that; the DVD
even features a pencil test and footage
of rough sketches animated into Space
Ghost's repeated movements. "SGC2C:
Vol. 2" also boasts commentary on all
14 episodes, Matt Groening's full live
action interview, the show's pilot (which
used only material from the origi-
nal '60s series), a biography of Sonny
Sharrock (the guitarist responsible for
the "SGC2C" theme) and a Thurstom
Moore performance paying tribute to
Sherrock. The commnayith
only disappointing extra, simply
because commentary tracks
are usually pretty dull. How-
ever, it's cool to hear the par-
ticulars of each show. .>
For example, all of
"Jacksonville," $
the episode on
bers of Metal-
lica appeared
as guests, was
animated com-
pletely before

r;the writers knew that
the band would be
appearing on that
a program.
The extras
on the "ATHF:
Vol. 3" DVD
include com-
mentary on
four of the 13
episodes (which
encounter the
same pitfalls as on
the "SGC2C" discs),
as well as a "making
of' featurette on the epi-
sode "The Cloning." It's pretty much
just home movie footage of two guys
in khaki shorts deciding whether Shake
should throw an axe or shoot a crossbow
at the Aqua Teens' television set. The
most fun extras include two versions of a
karaoke music video for the occult/metal
epic "Spirit Journey Formation Anniver-
sary" and a version without vocals so
viewers can sing along at home. There's
a featurette on Schoolly D, who wrote
the "ATHF" theme song and pages of the
scripts from five episodes complete with
the writers and actors' notes, along with
the voice-over track. But the absolute
coolest bonuses on the "ATHF: Vol. 3"
DVD are answering machine messages
recorded by Meatwad, Frylock, Shake
and Carl that can be recorded as per-
sonal voicemail and short, quirky ani-
mated Adult Swim promotional spots. If
the desire hits to hear Meatwad sing "Oh
girl, your lips are so smooth" or Carl
share his thoughts on fitness ("You'll
die anyway ... Someone'll stab ya. So
make sure your abs are frickin'
Sripped"), here's your chance.

Show: *****
Picture/Sound:
Extras:

Courtesy of Paramount
"1'm playing that guy?"
was extremely close to original events. "I say it's 98.5
(percent accurate). I mean, it's really that close." He is
also hopeful that his message will get out to the young
viewers he anticipates will be drawn to the movie. "It's
a family film. I think this message just rings loud to
young people." Carter seeks to idealize the concepts
of integrity, leadership and accountability because, as
he repeatedly emphasized, "education was always my
goal ."

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