Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

'Star Wars: Episode VII': JJ Abrams' Millennium Falcon tweet and the Mystery Box

2013 Winter TCA Tour - Day 3

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

File: Executive Producer J.J. Abrams speaks onstage at the "Revolution" panel session during the NBCUniversal portion of the 2013 Winter TCA Tour- Day 3 at the Langham Hotel on Jan. 6, 2013 in Pasadena.

J.J. Abrams, the director of next year’s “Star Wars” sequel/reboot/update, is so famously secretive about his film work you'd almost think he’d be happy to never show his movies to audiences, lest they finally talk about what actually happens in them. The habit — developed on projects from his "Alias" TV shows to "Cloverfield" right up to his most recent film, "Star Trek Into Darkness" — even has a nickname: The Mystery Box (watch Abrams' TED talk on the concept below).

All of which makes Abrams' entreaty Wednesday about leaked photos from the set of his upcoming Jedi movie — assuming there will still be Jedis in “Star Wars: Episode VII” — all the more fascinating.

Over the last few days, several websites, but most prominently the Hollywood gossip blog TMZ — best known these days for leaking the Donald Sterling tape that cost the Clippers owner his NBA team — have been posting purloined images from the Tunisian set of the new "Star Wars" film.


Edgar Wright quits 'Ant-Man'; here's what it would have looked like


Ant-Man seen in an image tweeted by Marvel.

Edgar Wright, fan-favorite director of movies like "Shaun of the Dead" and "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," has dropped out of directing Marvel superhero movie "Ant-Man."

This comes after Wright started developing the project in 2006, with the official announcement by Marvel of Wright directing coming in 2012.

Wright and Marvel released a joint statement:

"Marvel and Edgar Wright jointly announced today that the studio and director have parted ways on Marvel's 'Ant-Man' due to differences in their vision of the film. The decision to move on is amicable and does not impact the release date on July 17, 2015. A new director will be announced shortly."

Paul Rudd's already been announced as the star, playing the miniaturized hero. It seemed like a match made in Heaven, with Wright having a geek comic sensibility that would pair well with Rudd, but now it's not to be.


TBS cancels 'The Pete Holmes Show'; watch 16 of the show's best comedy sketches

CollegeHumor Offline Annual Production

Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Pete Holmes and Matt McCarthy perform during CollegeHumor Offline Annual Production at Gramercy Theatre on Aug. 8, 2013 in New York City.

TBS has canceled the Los Angeles-based late night cable talk show "The Pete Holmes Show" after two seasons. The Conan O'Brien-produced show is set to end in June, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The show featuring comedian Pete Holmes followed "Conan" at midnight, but failed to pick up Conan's audience.

"We recognize Pete as one of the most relevant comedians working today," TBS said in a statement, the Hollywood Reporter reports. "We loved the show and gave it two chances. We just couldn't draw the audience needed to justify a third round. We hope we'll get to work with him again."

The show's biggest impact came through its sketch comedy, often deconstructing pop culture, particularly superheroes and video games. The show featured many pre-produced video sketches, several of which became viral hits — with far more views than the show usually scored viewers on television. Here are some of the best. (Warning: Some of these videos contain adult language and themes.)


JDate rebrands with help from a Los Angeles comedy writer

Oded Balilty/AP

Two American Jews enjoy a party in Jerusalem at the end of a weeklong romantic voyage to Israel Wednesday, May 10, 2006. The trip organized by the Jewish online dating service JDate.

Jewish dating service JDate is running brand new billboards targeted at millennials in Times Square and right here in Los Angeles, Adweek reports, with copy drawn from a social media contest. One of those three is from L.A.

L.A. comedy writer Ricky Sans's submission didn't make the first round of billboards, but his #GetChosen slogan is set to show up in JDate marketing soon, Sans says. His submission was "Matzah Ball Recipes Don’t Survive on Their Own"; the other winners were "Find Mr. Right to Left" and "Because Dating Shouldn't Be as Hard As Parting the Red Sea."

"I love JDate," Sans tells KPCC. "I'm Jewish, and I think it's great to have a dating forum where you can meet people from similar cultural and traditional upbringings."

Sans explained what he was thinking with his submission.


Video: Marvel releases 'Guardians of the Galaxy' teasers to tease another teaser

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy - New Trailer Teaser 2

Marvel Entertainment (via YouTube)

A teaser for Marvel's new "Guardians of the Galaxy" trailer.

The first "Guardians of the Galaxy" trailer showed Marvel's new spacefaring heroes soaring to a remixed beat of Blue Swede's "Hooked On A Feeling," showcasing the goofy side of the team. The new teasers put the laughs away and focus on the "epic" in space epic.

RELATED: 'Guardians of the Galaxy': Do crowds want heroes they don't know?

They're drawing it out — the teasers being released are promoting a second full trailer that hits on Monday at 10 a.m. Pacific, complete with a live Q&A on Facebook. The chat is set to include director James Gunn, Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan and former pro wrestler Dave Bautista.

Bautista gets a bigger stage in the first of the new teasers, which you can watch below; the latest teaser is at the top of this post, showcasing Rocket Raccoon and giving a bit of Bradley Cooper's voice for the character for the first time.