Saturday, July 24, 2021

IN THE EVENT YOU Play ” NEW WORLD “? Beta Impressions From The Frontier

Amazon Games’ upcoming MMORPG New World is in the spotlight as a lengthy closed beta session shows off the action ahead of an August 31st release. New World has changed its vision multiple times over the course of development, and now the question on everyone’s mind is – where is this going to land on release? What kind of player is it for? What kind of MMORPG is it? And perhaps the most important question, is it worth your time at all? Over the course of the beta (and a demo session that took me into an endgame slice with a fully-geared character), I’ve seen some areas with huge potential that are currently underserved in the MMORPG space – and some others that could be intense detriments for the title. Let’s talk about New World!It successfully lands a powerful frontier survival vibe If you’re familiar with survival games that have you punching wood to get a house going, New World delivers on this front initially by giving the player myriad survival pursuits. Hunting turkey on the borders of your established safe zones to raise your cooking skill and create rations is far more engaging than it has any right to be. Hunting down elusive saltpeter deposits in mines and crafting your own shells for your old-timey rifles feels fun. Being able to skill up in everything to your liking is a classic system à la Runescape, and its nice to know you can work up every single crafting and gathering skill if you wish, right down to doing some fishing. Banging together your first batch of gathering tools is actually freaking awesome. Digging up carrots and potatoes feels meaningful. Coming back to your town in the middle of the wilderness to trade feed and talk with your fellow explorers has all the allure of bustling about Disney’s Frontiertown, and I’ve rarely had so much investment into crafting and trading systems in MMOs. I can see potential problems with these aspects later down the line, i.e. do I really want to spend my time in the endgame gathering resources just so I can play the game, but for now, there’s plenty of magic in creating my own food, ammunition, and supplies before I trek out into the wild. It feels gritty, it feels raw, and it feels fresh. Faction PVP can be a lot of fun Territory control and faction-based opt-in PVP not only bring back a bit of realm-vs-realm feel from the glory days of Dark Age of Camelot, but they inject something that many online experiences have moved away from in the last decade – social interaction. That means yes, you are going to see a player named PoopyPants (Yes, this was a real player I saw) cutting down trees and screaming outside of town about the price of silver ore, and your chat feed is going to be inundated with comments that make the infamous Barrens chat look downright erudite. However, it also successfully adds shared social stakes to the experience, even if you choose not to interact at the verbal level with any other players. By funneling players into three different factions, you have an investment in your tribe regardless of how deep you want to take it. If you still just want to solo and bring back a load of furs to trade in town, you can – but the real fun is to be had by grouping up, interacting with others, and eventually taking over some territory as your chosen faction. At the solo, guild, and greater level, having game flow dictated by players instead of the “theme park” experience is a bold choice and more than a bit refreshing. The issue here is how interesting and meaningful are these faction wars going to be in the endgame? While I don’t have the answer to that yet, the prospect of really engaging with other players in a meaningful way in a MMORPG gives me a powerful nostalgia bump and some serious differentiation from many other genre offerings today. On the flip side, if you’re not really interested in territory wars or PvP, other existing MMORPGs might be a better choice. The combat is New World’s biggest weakness In almost every MMORPG, you’re going to be doing a ton of combat. It’s probably the biggest portion of the entire gameplay experience. With limited skill options, awkward animations, and very little excitement, New World’s combat is decidedly dull. Now, there’s something to be said about popping an opposing faction member from a great distance before you engage in a 3v3 skirmish that gets real greasy, but that’s more about the player-to-player interaction than the combat, which can often feel wooden and wonky. While I enjoy systems that attempt to break the genre out of the tab-targeting standard that’s been grandfathered into MMOs for ages, it misses the mark here.  I found it hard to determine if the other aspects of the game that seem enjoyable can carry this particular aspect either, as combat is the core of almost every other pursuit. Even if you’re just spelunking for saltpeter, you’re going to have to fight a ton of various zombie-like creatures, wolves, or bears, and it simply does not feel good. This problem is exacerbated in group experiences, both PvP and PvE, but more pronounced in the latter. Chewing into spongey opponents as a pack with the glaring lack of feedback from weaponry is almost comical, and your options in combat feel extremely limited and lacking. Everything can feel the same Enemies, locations, and activities can become a big bowl of mush without breaking it up with some PvP pursuits. You’ll see many of the same rickety little fishing villages, decrepit farms, and crumbling ruins as you traverse the giant world. Killing some undead buccaneers at level 5 feels the same as it does at level 15, and you’re going to be doing a ton of daily-quest/fetch style activities in order to grind out your faction reputation, like wandering around the aforementioned locations for boxes and killing X undead baddies. It feels intensely repetitive even after only twenty hours of gameplay, so I’m concerned about how that will translate to the endgame – will I still, as an elite member of the Syndicate, still be wandering farms killing undead and picking taters? I mean, I do like picking taters... Travel is rough When you’re just starting, it’s fine that you’re walking everywhere because you don’t have far to go. However, this takes a turn at around level 12, where you’ll find the autorun button and some movies on your favorite streaming platform to be your best friends. The world is large, and traveling it all on foot is a huge pain. Without mounts, and the fact that fast travel is limited by resources, moving around the map is an absolute bore and a chore. I realize there are other meaningful concerns that probably flow into this decision, like the implications of having everyone zoom around in a game that’s attempting to create stakes with territory control and PvP, but this becomes harder and harder to ignore the more you play and get quests on opposite ends of your map. Forging ahead Based on the beta, New World is going to be an interesting but potentially niche addition to the current crop of MMORPGs. However, it seems to really serve players that want to play with small groups of friends for faction skirmishes and that are interested in greater territory control wars with big guild politics and all that. If you’re not interested in that kind of greater pursuit with plenty of social interaction and PvP, the PvE elements by themselves do not seem compelling enough to keep things rolling.  While I love the feeling of crafting my own stuff, slowly increasing the areas that I’m strong enough to explore, and fastidiously upping all my gathering and crafting skills, I can see those charms fading rapidly as the activities become somewhat rote. The dynamics involved in faction wars and territory control seem to be the peppy antidote for the never-ending rock farm in various undead shacks and homesteads. As with other games that lean into this kind of emergent gameplay (RIP Shadowbane), some of New World will be what players shape it into.
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    Alex Wolff Interview – Playing a young kid in Old, Getting to Use M. Night Shyamalan

    M. Night Shyamalan’s latest thriller Old releases in theaters this Friday, July 23. The film stars Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Alex Wolff, and Thomasin McKenzie as a family whose vacation goes deadly wrong after they wind up on an inescapable beach that causes rapid aging.“Visionary filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan unveils a chilling, mysterious new thriller about a family on a tropical holiday who discover that the secluded beach where they are relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly … reducing their entire lives into a single day,” reads the official synopsis.RELATED: Alex Wolff Discusses Pig, Working With Nicolas CageComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke to star Alex Wolff about his role, getting to work with M. Night, and his thoughts on the original graphic novel.Tyler Treese: Your character has this very childlike quality to him because mentally he’s younger than what you’re portraying him as. How did you make sure you had that childlike quality to them, you know, in your acting?Alex Wolff: I mean, I watched a lot of cartoons while I was making it and I read a bunch of child psychology books. I tried to just reconnect to that part of myself and then just let it rip.Getting to work with M. Night, how exciting was it for you? He’s somebody that’s made so many great films over the years.I feel lucky to even know him or meet him. He’s such a special guy, but I feel especially lucky to work with him on what feels to me as his most personal movie. I felt like I got to be a part of him exercising, some emotional demon in himself and I felt like I feel really lucky to be a part of that.There’s so many emotional scenes that come with the aging aspect. Your character is dealing with all these scenarios that no kid would be prepared for. Then the parents are also going through marital issues. Can you talk about showing all that emotion and also you throw in a bit of a child-like tantrum in some scenes that really helps bring home the emotion of these moments?Yeah. I think that being a kid we often think of as just this blissful magical all fairies and rainbows experience of just like, “Oh, I’m a kid,” but I think it’s a really emotional time. Or at least for me it was. It was a constant either elation or just in perpetual despair. That’s how it felt like it was like, “Oh my God, this is the worst moment of my life because it is, ’cause I’ve only been alive for six years.” So I feel like it was really just connecting back to those extremes and it wasn’t that hard. What I really had to do was just, I felt like I had to go under like construction of breaking down these walls. Like, oh, if I start feeling that anger, heat building up in my body, there’s this wall that comes like, it’s almost like a computer server being like, are you sure you want to get this enraged? And you have to be like, yes, and enter your password of yourself. That’s what I feel like getting older HAS done. I had to just get rid of those walls and it’s just, if you feel it, it comes out. I felt like I was the right guy for the job because I’m someone with less walls than maybe some other adults.I always love hearing about your prep. This is based on a graphic novel named Sandcastle. Did you wind up reading that or did you just stick to the script?Yeah, I read that before I even read the script. So I had auditioned and then I ordered the book just in case I had gotten a call back or something. So I read it and I fell in love with it and it was amazing. It was wild. I think the movie is more soulful than the book. I love the book, but the book is almost in some places like almost like a little pornographic and kind of weird and wild. And, and I think this movie still keeps those odd, titillating, unique qualities to it, but it, but it grounds in a little bit more of an emotional place.

    Horizon’s Aloy Joins Genshin Impact, How exactly to Unlock Her here’s

    The world of Genshin Impact is getting a familiar face soon, as MiHoYo and Guerrilla Games announced on Thursday that Aloy, the machine dinosaur hunter and main character from Horizon Zero Dawn, would be joining the game as a free playable character. RELATED: Genshin Impact Rumors Point to Cross-Save FunctionalityThere’s no information on when Aloy will be joining the game, but she will be a five-star character, and will only be a limited-time offer, according to MiHoYo. As for how players can get her, the company has detailed how you can do that in an announcement with the news of Aloy arriving in the game: During Version 2.1, players who have reached Adventure Rank 20 or above can receive Aloy via in-game mail after logging in to the game on PS5 or PS4. Meanwhile, other players can receive Aloy via in-game mail after logging in to the game on any available platform during Version 2.2.A free four-star Bow that gives Aloy a special buff can also be obtained exclusively on PlayStation during Version 2.1 and Version 2.2 for players who reached Adventure Rank 20 or above.The studio also explained that the event will be split into two phases:〓Phase I〓After the Version 2.1 Update – Start of Version 2.2 Update Maintenance (October 13, 2021 05:59 UTC+8)During the event, all Travelers who log into Genshin Impact on the PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 system will be able to obtain Aloy directly through in-game mail.〓Phase II〓After the Version 2.2 Update – Start of Version 2.3 Update Maintenance (November 24, 2021, 05:59 UTC+8)During the event, Travelers who log into Genshin Impact on any available platform, and who have yet to obtain the character during Phase I will be able to obtain Aloy directly through in-game mail.RELATED: Knockout City Season 2 Goes to Hollywood, Releasing Next WeekExclusive early access to the character will be given to PlayStation players, with Aloy also getting an exclusive, four-star Bow that gives Aloy a special buff on the PlayStation version of the game.

    The Green Knight: Printable Posters Featuring Dev Patel’s Sir Gawain

    A24 has released three new printable posters from the upcoming medieval fantasy epic The Green Knight, featuring Oscar-nominated lead Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, Lion) as Sir Gawain. You can check out the posters below and download them by clicking the link here!You can call him Sir pic.twitter.com/Q6tW67MbR8— A24 (@A24) July 22, 2021RELATED: Dev Patel Accepts His Destiny in A24’s The Green Knight TrailerAn epic fantasy adventure based on the timeless Arthurian legend, The Green Knight tells the story of Sir Gawain (Patel), King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men. Gawain contends with ghosts, giants, thieves, and schemers in what becomes a deeper journey to define his character and prove his worth in the eyes of his family and kingdom by facing the ultimate challenger.  From visionary filmmaker David Lowery comes a fresh and bold spin on a classic tale from the knights of the round table.The film also stars Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, The Danish Girl), Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby, The King), Sarita Choudhury (Lady in the Water), Sean Harris (Mission: Impossible – Fallout), Kate Dickie (Game of Thrones), Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk, The Eternals) and Ralph Ineson (Game of Thrones).The film is directed and written by David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, The Old Man & the Gun) from a story based on the poem of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.RELATED: The Tragedy of Macbeth Sets Premiere at the 2021 New York Film FestivalLowery produces the project alongside Toby Halbrooks (Pete’s Dragon) and James M. Johnston (A Ghost Story) through their Sailor Bear banner. Tim Headington and Theresa Steele Page are also producing on behalf of Ley Line Entertainment. Bron’s Aaron L. Gilbert and Creative Wealth Media’s Jason Cloth are executive producing.The Green Knight will release in the U.S. on July 30, 2021.

    Interview: Reid Miller Talks Joe Bell, What Advice Mark Wahlberg Gave Him

    Reid Miller stars alongside Mark Wahlberg in Joe Bell, which is out July 23 in theaters. Based on the tragic story behind the death of Jadin Bell, Miller puts on a movie-stealing performance as the late teenager that was bullied in school for being gay.MORE: Joe Bell Trailer: Redemption is a Journey You Can’t Take Alone“Joe Bell tells the intimate and emotional true story of an Oregonian father who pays tribute to his gay teenage son Jadin, embarking on a self-reflective walk across America to speak his heart to heartland citizens about the real and terrifying costs of bullying.”ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with Joe Bell star Reid Miller about capturing Jadin Bell in his performance, his relationship with Mark Wahlberg, and the message of the film.Tyler Treese: Reid, this is really just a phenomenal performance on your part. What type of prep did you do to bring this character to life on-screen? Did you speak to anybody that knew Jadin? How did you portray the character?Reid Miller: For me, what was really important was speaking to the family. Talking to his mom, talking to his brothers, and that really, really helped me get a better grasp and understanding as to who he was and what was so incredible to me. What I learned about him was just how universally kind he was, even to the people who hated him, people who didn’t understand him. He was always still loving and kind, and that was such an influential thing for me, just even as a person. So it was talking to his family and, and to everyone that knew him and watching home videos of his, and listening to his voice and, and, and listening to the music that he listened to. It all gave me a really good grasp on specific things about him that helped me with my performance.There are some really lovely scenes early on in the film where you’re walking with Mark’s character, Joe, and people that may not be familiar with the real story, they don’t really know that Jadin has passed. Can you talk about that experience of walking with Mark in those scenes and kind of like having this idolized version of this relationship that never really reached that part when they were both living sadly?Yeah. You know, that was kind of the heartbreaking element of it was he’s having this wonderful dream-like relationship with his son, but it’s too late. I feel like the beautiful thing about those scenes is Mark is learning more about his son just through the memory of his son and the light that Jadin was and how kind he was. I mean, it’s even reflected in those scenes. I feel like that experience of just walking with Mark and talking and getting to know him and him getting to know me and us, having such good chemistry and being really close, really made those scenes even more hard hitting. And I think those scenes are so emotional and hard for me to watch after filming it, knowing what’s really happening.You talk about that bond with Mark on set and walking with him. Did he give you any advice as a more veteran actor? Oh yeah. A ton of advice. And mostly it was just, I think the best piece of advice he gave me was keep moving forward, which sounds so simple. But in the context he said that it was kind of a personal thing, but in the context he said that was very important for me. He’s always been there for me, always given me tons of great advice and just kind of been like a father figure in this industry.What do you really hope that people take away from this film? I hope that people go into this movie and walk out changed in some way. I hope people who are responsible for things like this who are bullies or people who just don’t want to understand, maybe are given a new desire to understand, or maybe people who aren’t even aware of their behavior are made aware of their behavior. But I think also importantly, on the other side, I hope people through this film learn to forgive and give people the opportunity to change because we can’t have change if they’re not even given the opportunity to. So I think it’s kind of a two-way street.

    PlayStation 5 Owners Access Free HALF A YEAR of Apple TV+

    PlayStation 5 owners were treated to a gift earlier today, as Sony announced on Thursday that owners of the new console will be able to get a six-month trial of Apple TV+ for free. RELATED: The Big Door Prize: Apple Orders Series Adaptation from David West ReadThe promotion is available only to PlayStation 5 owners and requires both a PlayStation Network account and an Apple ID. PS5 owners can redeem the offer anytime between now and July 22, 2022, and must have at least some payment method on file on their Apple account, because the plan will renew for $4.99/month after the trial period ends. If you’re a PS5 owner and looking to claim the offer, all you have to do is find the Apple TV app on your PS5 console’s search bar, or by navigating to the “All apps” section in the Media home. From there, download and open the app and follow the on-screen instruments, sign in with your Apple ID, and you’re done. RELATED: Echo 3: Michiel Huisman Joins Luke Evans in Apple’s Thriller SeriesBetter yet, the free trial promotion isn’t limited to just new customers. Existing Apple TV+ subscribers or users that are already using a free trial of the platform can take advantage of the free six months, provided that you own a PlayStation 5. With a ton of great programming including Ted Lasso, Mythic Quest, and more, it’s a great time to dive into the streaming platform. 

    The Tragedy of Macbeth Sets Premiere at the 2021 NY Film Festival

    Joel Coen’s highly-anticipated Shakespearean film adaptation of The Tragedy of Macbeth has officially set its world premiere on September 24 at the Alice Tully Hall as the opening night film of this year’s 59th New York Film Festival. The announcement also comes with the release of the first official Tragedy of Macbeth image which you can check out below, providing us our first look at Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand as Lord and Lady Macbeth.“The New York Film Festival is a place where I’ve been watching movies as an audience member and showing them as a filmmaker for almost 50 years,” the acclaimed filmmaker said in a statement. “It’s a real privilege and a thrill to be opening the Festival this year with The Tragedy of. . .”“We’re proud to open the festival with a film that immediately joins the ranks of the great screen Shakespeares,” said Dennis Lim, Director of Programming for the New York Film Festival. “Working with brilliant collaborators, including Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand in stunning form, Joel Coen has made an inspired and urgent interpretation of an eternally relevant classic, a moral thriller that speaks directly to our time.”Joel Coen’s boldly inventive THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH, starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, will have its World Premiere as the Opening Night selection at #NYFF59 on September 24! https://t.co/SGHWIq15lv pic.twitter.com/VA2501I3TB— New York Film Festival (@TheNYFF) July 22, 2021RELATED: Denzel Washington’s A Journal For Jordan Pic Sets Release DateThe Tragedy of Macbeth is described as a new take on the iconic Shakespeare tale and was shot in black-and-white. The story follows a lord who’s convinced by a trio of witches that he’s destined to become the king of Scotland. With the help of his ambitious wife, Macbeth tries to seize the crown by any means necessary.In a previous interview, Dormand revealed that Joel Coen’s adaptation will be exploring more about the characters’ age and that she and Washington are portraying much older versions of the Macbeths which is different from previous iterations. Because of this, it will add more depth to the story by putting a lot of pressure on the leading characters to take the crown for themselves.The film is written and directed by Joel Coen. Joining the Oscar-winning actors are Bertie Carvel, Alex Hassell, Corey Hawkins, Kathryn Hunter, Harry Melling, and Brendan Gleeson.RELATED: Finch: Apple Lands Tom Hanks Sci-Fi Drama Formerly Titled BiosThe Tragedy of Macbeth will also reunite frequent Coen collaborators including Bruno Delbonnel as the cinematographer, Mary Zophres as costume designer, and a score from Carter Burwell. In addition to directing, Coen produces the film alongside McDormand and Robert Graf.Last May, Apple Original Films and A24 have officially partnered for the film’s theatrical and streaming distribution, with A24 aiming to release the film in theaters in the fourth quarter of this year and is expected to be followed by a global premiere on Apple TV+

    Diane Ademu-John Joins Dune: The Sisterhood as Showrunner

    Dune is one of the most highly anticipated films of the year, and ahead of its release later this year, HBO has found the showrunner for its television series based on the famous franchise. RELATED: The Battle For Arrakis Begins in Denis Villeneuve’s Dune TrailerAccording to a report from Variety, Diane Ademu-John will join the prequel series as writer, showrunner, and executive producer of Dune: The Sisterhood. Jon Spaihts was initially attached to run the series but stepped down in November 2019 in order to focus on writing the script for a second Dune reboot film. Dune: The Sisterhood will be set in the universe of Frank Herbert’s epic Dune novel series, and is told through the eyes of a mysterious order of women known as the Bene Gesserit. Armed with extraordinary abilities, this group of women weaves through the feudal politics of Dune, pursuing their own plans that ultimately lead them to the enigmatic planet Arrakis, and the events of the upcoming film. RELATED: Dune Character Posters Highlight Its All-Star CastAdemu-John has most recently worked as an executive producer and writer on Netflix’s horror series The Haunting of Bly Manor. Before that, her credits include stints at Fox’s Empire, The Originals and The Vampire Diaries at The CW, and NBC’s Medium and Crossing Jordan. 

    Three Women: Shailene Woodley to Star in Drama Series Adaptation at Showtime

    Showtime has given a straight-to-series order to Three Women, based on the nonfiction New York Times bestselling book by author Lisa Taddeo, with Emmy nominee Shailene Woodley (Big Little Lies) attached to star, according to Deadline. Taddeo will reportedly adapt her debut nonfiction novel for the Showtime project.RELATED: Jennifer Carpenter to Reunite with Michael C. Hall in Showtime’s Dexter RevivalIn Three Women, described as an intimate, haunting portrayal of American female desire, three women are on a crash course to radically overturn their lives. Lina, a homemaker in suburban Indiana, is a decade into a passionless marriage when she embarks on an affair that quickly becomes all-consuming and transforms her life. Sloane, a glamorous entrepreneur in the Northeast, has a committed open marriage with Richard, until two sexy new strangers threaten their aspirational love story. Maggie, a student in North Dakota, weathers an intense storm after accusing her married English teacher of an inappropriate relationship. Gia (Woodley), a writer grieving the loss of her family, persuades each of these three spectacular “ordinary” women to tell her their stories, and her relationships with them change the course of her life forever.Pick up your copy of the book here!“Shailene Woodley is an undeniable powerhouse who never fails to give an unflinchingly honest performance,” said Amy Israel, EVP, Scripted Programming, Showtime Networks. “We are beyond thrilled that she will be at the forefront of this electrifying show. Three Women promises to be a riveting and immersive exploration of female desire, told by women in charge of their own narratives. Lisa Taddeo and Laura Eason’s adaptation crackles with emotion and edge and, coupled with Louise Friedberg’s exceptional direction, this Showtime series promises to be everyone’s next obsession.”The book, published in 2019 by Simon & Schuster, tells the story of three American women who suffered private and/or public backlash for their sexual desires. It took Taddeo “a decade to research, report, and write it,” with the author moving to the towns of her novel’s subjects in order to “achieve complete authenticity.” Gia’s storyline in the project mirrors Taddeo’s experience developing the novel.RELATED: Kiefer Sutherland to Play President Roosevelt in Showtime’s The First LadyThree Women is executive produced by Taddeo along with showrunner Laura Eason, Kathy Ciric, and Emmy Rossum. Louise Friedberg (Y: The Last Man) will direct and executive produce the first two episodes.

    Interview: Top Chef Amateurs EP Cat Sullivan Explains How Series Had become

    Top Chef Amateurs is the latest spin-off from the popular Top Chef franchise. This sees fans of the show getting to team up with some of their favorite chefs and get their cooking talents tested by a panel of expert judges. New episodes air Thursdays on Bravo at 9 p.m. ET.ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with Magical Elves and Top Chef Amateurs executive producer Cat Sullivan about the series and what makes it so unique.Tyler Treese: Top Chef Amateurs is such a fun spin on the normal format. Has this idea been discussed behind-the-scenes for a while now or how did it come to be?Cat Sullivan: I came on to the process when the show was kind of already formed, but we spent a lot of time formatting and trying to figure out exactly what Top Chef Amateurs meant and what that would be. We spent so much time researching Top Chef and really digging into what people love about the show. We spent a lot of time going through everything that makes Top Chef what it is, and kind of whittled that down to what you see on Top Chef Amateurs.A chef and a contestant working together is such a really interesting format. Sometimes they gel really well, but their styles might not always match up. Are there any personality clashes to expect later in the season?Honestly, our mentors and our Top Chef Amateurs, they all got along very well. And our chefs that we’re so familiar with at Top Chef, sometimes they were impressed or they were learning things from our amateurs, so it was really this amazing communal experience. There was never really a clash, it was always very supportive between the contestants and also between the mentors. I think the mentors had fun competing against each other, but it was all in good fun. There was never any sort of big clash.What went into the decisions of which chefs to bring back in this sort of mentor/all-star role?I think for the mentors, we were just really looking to bring back some of the favorites from across the Top Chef seasons. We knew that anyone that we would bring back from Top Chef would be an amazing addition in this role, but unfortunately we could only pick a few. Since we couldn’t have everyone come back, we really just looked at – how do we bring back a mentorship group that comes from different backgrounds and different cooking methods, and bring them all together to really create a dynamic show and get our amateurs excited too. Our amateurs also had certain mentors that they were really drawn to or maybe really admired, so it took some time to pair them up and really create those dynamic teams.(Photo by: David Moir/Bravo)What I love about the show is the human element. I’m not a big cook, but I’m still rooting for the people from their interviews and it’s such a fun watch. Can you discuss how important it is to not just show great food but the people that make it as well?For us, when we were casting the show, that was a big, big part of how we put the show together. We were looking at not only could these amateurs cook, but also who were they on a personal level, what kind of stories did they bring, and what connections did they have to the main show Top Chef. A lot of our contestants had their own personal experiences from watching season after season of Top Chef. And on top of that, they had their own personal experiences or their own backgrounds, that they were able to bring different cuisines to the forefront that we may have not had on the show before. I think one of the really interesting backgrounds I love is that we had a contestant who actually went and cooked every dish of Melissa King’s finale dinner from Top Chef All Stars, and she did that because she just loves the show and loves watching everything. So it definitely was a huge consideration when we were casting and putting people on the show. Really just wanting to show that Top Chef is a show that is unique because it’s able to bring people together in unexpected ways, and even though none of our cast members had met before they all shared this one love for Top Chef.I enjoy the diversity of the chefs and getting to see such amazing food from all around the world. Can you discuss the importance of diversity and how it has helped Top Chef find audiences all over the world?Diversity is hugely important, I think, in representation on television, but especially on Top Chef. Going into the casting process and going into the challenges that we were choosing, we’re always thinking about – how do we allow people to express themselves and bring their own backgrounds into the show, so that we can expand our audience’s knowledge of different cuisines and different techniques, and things of that nature. I think Top Chef is one of the shows that really expands people’s minds and it has such a great audience, and that audience is willing to learn. When those audience members, and now our Top Chef Amateurs, would see things on the Top Chef,  they would take that home and be like – how do I learn how to do that? What is that? They want to experiment, they want to go into areas that they might have not found on their own and explore those areas. And for Top Chef Amateurs, we really took a focus on how do we bring in different cuisine types, and expand people’s knowledge, and really highlight cuisines that we maybe necessarily don’t see, or backgrounds and diversity that we necessarily don’t get to see on TV on a day to day basis. We’re really fortunate that Top Chef has such an expansive audience, so we’re able to bring that to the forefront and really show off what our cast can do.Whether you’re a Top Chef fanatic or someone checking it out for the first time, this is a very natural and easy way to get into the franchise with the amateur contestants. Can you tell our readers why this is a good jumping-on point if they’re not familiar and why it’s a good reason to return if they haven’t watched in a while?I think that Top Chef Amateurs is so unique because it takes every iconic challenge or moment from Top Chef and it brings it into one show. It’s so approachable, if it didn’t have “Top Chef” on the front of it, you would still want to watch it. It’s just a great show, you’re watching two people compete, you’re watching people make amazing food, they’re getting to do very interesting challenges, and most importantly, they’re home cooks just like everyone who’s watching at home. So there’s a lot of connection there, you know, it’s just as easy for the people watching to be able to do what our contestants are doing on the show. I think Top Chef Amateurs is a very approachable way to get into the Top Chef world. And hopefully, if anyone hasn’t seen Top Chef, they’ll want to go and watch some seasons and learn about these moments, and see what the professionals are doing. Or maybe they love a mentor and they want to see how they were as a contestant on Top Chef. So, it’s definitely a very approachable way to watch and get into that Top Chef fandom and really learn why people love it.

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