MOVIES

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - INTHE­ATERS -

Film­ing be­gan Mon­day on the Mem­phis-based birth-of-rock-and-roll tele­vi­sion se­ries “Mil­lion Dol­lar Quar­tet.”

“Mem­phis has opened its arms, and it’s been a great start,” said se­ries ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Les­lie Greif, whose Los Angeles-based Think­fac­tory Me­dia is cre­at­ing the eight-episode scripted drama in part­ner­ship with CMT (Coun­try Mu­sic Tele­vi­sion), the ca­ble net­work where the pro­gram will de­but in Novem­ber. “We al­ready shot the first scene with the young Elvis at Humes. We move and groove, in and out.”

Highly vis­i­ble, thanks to its ar­mada of equip­ment trucks, its small army of crew mem­bers and its fleet of vin­tage “pic­ture cars” (as nec­es­sary as the cos­tumes in con­vey­ing a sense of 1950s au­then­tic­ity), the pro­duc­tion in its first few days has hit Milling­ton, the for­mer Humes High School, the Cooper-young neigh­bor­hood (for some “gospel” scenes at Galloway United Methodist Church) and the South Main dis­trict.

“I guess I’ve been through 30 or 40 of these,” said Harry Zepatos, owner of the oft-filmed Ar­cade Restau­rant, where shoot­ing took place Wed­nes­day. Founded in 1919, the Ar­cade has been show­cased in nu­mer­ous TV shows and com­mer­cials and in such no­table films as “Mys­tery Train,” by Jim Jar­musch, and “21 Grams,” di­rected by Ale­jan­dro Iñár­ritu, win­ner of back-to-back Best Di­rec­tor Os­cars for “Bird­man” and “The Revenant.” “It’s a lot of work,” Zepatos said, “but it’s al­ways fun.”

Many of the sig­nif­i­cant cast mem­bers are in town, and sev­eral have doc­u­mented Mem­phis ex­pe­ri­ences on so­cial me­dia. Se­ries lead Chad Michael Mur­ray, who plays Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, tweeted a pic­ture of his bearded self on “Day One of Pro­duc­tion,” com­ment­ing, “Gotta get the hair right 4 the era ... then a shave ... .” Texan Drake Mil­li­gan, cast as the pre-fame Elvis, posted a pic­ture from a day of “hang­ing out” at Grace­land, with the hash­tag “#when­in­mem­phis.” Chris­tian Lees, who plays Jerry Lee Lewis, tweeted: “LOVED my first cou­ple of days in Mem­phis. So much good mu­sic ev­ery­where you go.”

Other cast mem­bers in­clude Jen­nifer Hol­land, cast as Phillips’ wife, Becky; Mar­garet Anne Florence, cast as Phillips’ as­sis­tant, Mar­ion Keisker; Billy Gardell, as fu­ture Elvis man­ager “Colonel” Tom Parker; Chris­tian Lees’ twin brother, Jonah Lees, who will play Jerry Lee Lewis’ cousin Jimmy Swag­gart; Keir O’don­nell (of the “Fargo” TV se­ries) as WHBQ disc jockey Dewey Phillips; and Kevin Fonteyne, cast as Johnny Cash, who of­fered Satur­day — as Cash might have done — the most hon­est tweet yet: “All I can hear is Spice girls blar­ing from Beale St. here in Mem­phis. Wtf?!?”

“Mil­lion Dol­lar Quar­tet” is in­tended to be CMT’S en­trée into the in­creas­ingly crowded field of qual­ity scripted tele­vi­sion, where the net­work’s com­peti­tors Park­ing is pro­hib­ited on the street near the Ar­cade Restau­rant dur­ing film­ing of the “Mil­lion Dol­lar Quar­tet” tele­vi­sion show, which be­gan this week. The eight-episode scripted se­ries about the birth of rock and roll will start air­ing on CMT in Novem­ber.

in­clude HBO, AMC, FX, Net­flix, Sun­dance and other com­pa­nies.

Set pri­mar­ily in 1954, the eight episodes now be­ing filmed are sup­posed to be the first sea­son of what would be an on­go­ing se­ries about the early years of rock and roll, with Sam Phillips as the fo­cal point for a ros­ter of sup­port­ing char­ac­ters that also will in­clude Ike Turner, B.B. King and var­i­ous coun­try mu­sic stars, in ad­di­tion to the Mid-south “rock­a­bil­lies.”

The first sea­son is be­ing di­rected by Lon­don-born Roland Joffe, a two-time Oscar nom­i­nee for the har­row­ing his­tor­i­cal epics “The Killing Fields” and “The Mis­sion”; Joffe pre­vi­ously worked with Greif on the re­cent His­tory Chan­nel minis­eries “Texas Rising.”

Shoot­ing is ex­pected to be com­plete in early July, by which time the pro­duc­tion is ex­pected to have spent some $17 mil­lion in Mem­phis and Shelby County, in or­der to qual­ify for $4.3 mil­lion in state funds set aside for lo­cal film­mak­ing. This would dwarf the amounts spent in West Ten­nessee by even such ma­jor past movie projects as “The Firm” and “Walk the Line.”

Con­tact John Bei­fuss at bei­fuss@com­mer­cialap­peal.com; 901-529-2394 Amer­ica. Through April 30, CTI 3D Gi­ant The­ater, Mem­phis Pink Palace Mu­seum, 3050 Cen­tral Ave. Tick­ets: $9 adult (13-59), $8 se­niors (60+), $7 chil­dren (3-12). Call 901-636-2362 for show­times, tick­ets and reser­va­tions. Pre­his­toric Planet: Walk­ing with Di­nosaurs 3D (Not rated, 45 min.) Ex­pe­ri­ence a year in the life of di­nosaurs. Through April 30, CTI 3D Gi­ant The­ater, Mem­phis Pink Palace Mu­seum, 3050 Cen­tral Ave. Tick­ets: $9 adult (13-59), $8 se­niors (60+), $7 chil­dren (3-12). Call 901-636-2362 for show­times, tick­ets and reser­va­tions. The Rocky Hor­ror Pic­ture Show (R, 100 min.) The monthly screen­ing of the ul­ti­mate au­di­en­cepar­tic­i­pa­tion sci-fi rockand-roll cross-dress­ing cult clas­sic. 11:30 p.m. Fri­day, Ever­green The­atre, 1705 Poplar Ave. Tick­ets: $10. Visit rocky­hor­rormem­phis.com. Toy Story 2 (G, 92 min.) The mu­seum’s re­vival (in 2D) of the hit Pixar se­ries con­tin­ues with the 1999 se­quel. 4 p.m. Satur­day and Sun­day, CTI 3D Gi­ant The­ater, Mem­phis Pink Palace Mu­seum, 3050 Cen­tral Ave. Tick­ets: $9 adult (1359), $8 se­niors (60+), $7 chil­dren (3-12). Call 901-636-2362 for show­times, tick­ets and reser­va­tions. Alvin and the Chip­munks: The Road Chip (PG, 86 min.) An­other “squeakuel.” Bartlett 10. Bat­man v Su­per­man: Dawn of Jus­tice (PG-13, 151 min.) HHH A movie of grim in­tegrity for all its des­per­ate op­por­tunism, this trou­bled, trou­bling su­per­hero epic con­jures a post-9/11 pre-apoca­lypse in which dreams, vi­sions, mem­o­ries, pop cul­ture, sci­ence fic­tion and his­tor­i­cal fact over­lap. The ef­fect is not so much the in­tro­duc­tion of a new DC Uni­verse as a night­mare of col­lid­ing multi-verses, bleed­ing their al­ter­nate, even con­tra­dic­tory nar­ra­tives into each other like wa­ter­col­ors on pa­per. The ir­ra­tional­ity may not be quite what di­rec­tor Zack Syn­der in­tended (and it’s surely not what Warner Bros. wanted), but it’s dis­tinc­tive and cin­e­matic. It fa­vors emo­tion over story, and these emo­tions — these trau­mas of grief and anger — are ex­pressed ex­plo­sively, as in a comic book panel, via crack­ling coronas of elec­tric­ity and shock waves of col­or­ful en­ergy. Henry Cav­ill re­turns from Sny­der’s “Man of Steel” as Su­per­man; Ben Af­fleck is the new Bat­man, an eye­wit­ness to two trau­matic in­cit­ing in­ci­dents: the mur­der of his par­ents and the Twin Tower-es­que col­lapse of Me­trop­o­lis’ Wayne Tower, dur­ing the su­per-bat­tle in “Man of Steel.” The idea is that just as 9/11 had a trans­for­ma­tive im­pact on the psy­che of Amer­ica, the bat­tle of Me­trop­o­lis— and the sub­se­quent re­al­iza­tion that the Earth is host to an all-pow­er­ful alien who could de­stroy his adopted planet with ease — has al­tered hu­man consciousness, cre­at­ing new stan­dards of moral­ity and lev­els of fear — “the feel­ing of pow­er­less­ness that turns good men cruel,” in the words of Bat­man’s but­ler, Al­fred (Jeremy Irons). Filled with ref­er­ences to an­gels and dev­ils and even Je­sus, the movie is not all coy about its pre­ten­sions or al­le­gory; it’s as if Sny­der wanted to re­play the su­per­herode­con­struct­ing themes of his stand-alone DC adap­ta­tion, “Watch­men,” with A-list char­ac­ters rather than their sym­bolic coun­ter­parts. Out of fan­boy con­text, bits of fore­shad­ow­ing to planned spinoffs play like hal­lu­ci­na­tions, cre­at­ing a sense of un­con­trol­lable chaos that makes this a movie of its time: It’s not a com­men­tary on our de­mented era but a symp­tom of it. With Gal Gadot (won­der­ful) as Won­der Woman, Jesse Eisen­berg as Lex Luthor and a re­turn­ing Amy Adams as Lois Lane. Cine­planet 16 (in 3-D), Col­lierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), Cor­dova Cin­ema (in 3-D), Desoto Cin­ema 16 (in 3-D), For­est Hill 8, Hol­ly­wood 20 Cin­ema (in 3-D), Majestic, Olive Branch Cin­ema (in 3-D), Palace Cin­ema (in 3-D), Par­adiso (in 3-D), Stage Cin­ema (in 3-D), Stu­dio on the Square, Sum­mer Quar­tet Drive-in. The Big Short (R, 130 min.) HH ½ Di­rec­tor Adam Mckay’s adap­ta­tion of Michael Lewis’ non­fic­tion best-seller about the eco­nomic col­lapse of 2007-2010. Bartlett 10. The Boy (PG-13, 105 min.) HH ½ A young Amer­i­can woman (Lauren Co­han) takes a job as a nanny in a stately English manor, only to dis­cover that her charge is a porce­lain doll, called Brahms, which her el­derly employers (Jim Norton and Diana Hard­cas­tle) treat

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