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updated: 7/24/2013 8:45 AM

TV Writing 101: 'Community' star hosts new show about ... shows

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  • Jim Rash hosts Sundance Channel's "The Writers' Room."

      Jim Rash hosts Sundance Channel's "The Writers' Room."

  • Host Jim Rash, left, talks about "Breaking Bad" with series creator Vince Gilligan, center, and star Bryan Cranston on Sundance Channel's "The Writers' Room."

      Host Jim Rash, left, talks about "Breaking Bad" with series creator Vince Gilligan, center, and star Bryan Cranston on Sundance Channel's "The Writers' Room."

  • Video: G.I. Joe: Retaliation clip

  • Video: Drinking Buddies trailer

 
 

A new show about ... shows

When Jim Rash isn't busy donning crazy costumes and tormenting Jeff Winger as Dean Pelton on NBC's "Community," he's a screenwriter of family dramedies like this summer's "The Way, Way Back" and 2011's "The Descendants," for which he shared the Academy Award for adapted screenplay.

It's that second job that makes him an apt host for a new joint venture from Entertainment Weekly and the Sundance Channel.

"The Writers' Room," Rash's half-hour talk show that premieres at 9 p.m. Monday on Sundance, examines a popular television show each week with its writers and stars. The show's press release promises "shocking and sometimes hilariously candid conversations," which sounds like a typical study session with Pierce Hawthorne at Greendale Community College.

The premiere episode tackles AMC's "Breaking Bad" -- whose final season resumes Aug. 11 -- with creator Vince Gilligan, star Bryan Cranston and other members of the creative team.

Subsequent episodes will examine "Parks & Recreation," "Dexter," "New Girl," "Game of Thrones" and "American Horror Story." (No "Community," Mr. Rash?!? This is definitely the darkest timeline.)

'Drinking' on demand

"Drinking Buddies," the new comedy from auteur and Chicago resident Joe Swanberg, is now available from video on demand services almost a month before its Aug. 23 release in theaters. The buddies of the title are played by Thirteen herself, Olivia Wilde, and "New Girl" co-star Jake Johnson. They play employees at a Windy City brewery whose budding romance just might be a problem for their significant others, Ron Livingston ("Office Space") and Anna Kendrick ("Pitch Perfect").

The film played Austin's South By Southwest festival in March and represents writer/director Swanberg's best shot at mainstream success. His unorthodox career has produced 15 movies since 2005 -- his filmography shows a whopping six movies released in 2011. His earliest films, including "Hannah Takes the Stairs," introduced moviegoers to Greta Gerwig, who has since appeared in "Greenberg" with Ben Stiller, Russell Brand's "Arthur" remake and this summer's critically acclaimed "Frances Ha."

You can find out more about Swanberg -- who studied film at Southern Illinois University and helped define the so-called "mumblecore" movement -- and watch some of his work at joeswanberg.com.

(On a related note, you can also catch "Drinking Buddies" co-star Anna Kendrick on Friday's new episode of IFC's "Comedy Bang Bang" with Scott Aukerman. The fun starts at 8 p.m.)

Knowing is half the battle

If you haven't gotten enough of big, dumb action movies or Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson this year, then "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" is here to help.

The Hasbro-inspired sequel to 2009's absurd (and absurdly fun) "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" hits DVD, Blu-ray and VOD this Tuesday. Johnson and Bruce Willis are the key additions to a returning cast that includes Channing Tatum, Jonathan Pryce, erstwhile "Mummy" Arnold Vosloo and the deft duo of martial artists Ray Park and Byung-hun Lee.

"Retaliation" isn't exactly an intellectual enterprise, but if it's half as fun as its unfairly maligned, completely bonkers predecessor, I'll consider it a success. (Perhaps it will be best enjoyed with the beverages those "Buddies" are brewing.) The Blu-ray is available in 3D and includes DVD and digital copies, as well as the expected audio commentary from director Jon M. Chu -- whose previous film was the Justin Bieber concert documentary "Never Say Never," believe it or not -- and about an hour's worth of behind-the-scenes documentaries.

If you're feeling nostalgic and you have a Netflix account, you can watch 160 episodes of the "G.I. Joe" cartoon series on your streaming device. Arise, Serpentor, arise!

• Sean Stangland is a Daily Herald copy editor, a tireless consumer of pop culture and a hopeless nerd. He writes about television and digital entertainment every Friday.

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