July 2014 is a busy month for former "X Factor" U.S. contestant Astro, whose real name is Brian Bradley. On July 2, 2014, his sci-fi movie "Earth to Echo" opened in wide release in the U.S. and Canada. He has also been on a U.S. promotional tour for his TV series "Red Band Society," which includes sneak-preview screenings of the first episode. The good news: "Red Band Society" has been getting mostly positive reviews from people who've seen the first episode. The bad news: "Earth to Echo" is a huge flop with audiences and is getting mixed-to-negative reviews from critics.
As previously reported, Bradley and other cast members of the Fox drama series "Red Band Society" are on a U.S. tour to promote "Red Band Society," which premieres in the autumn of 2014 on a date to be announced. The tour (which began in New York City and Los Angeles on June 25, 2014) consists of advance screenings of the pilot episode of "Red Band Society," followed by a Q&A with the stars of the show. (See the tour dates at the end of this article.) The tour is being called “Red Band Society Tour: Banding Together for Good,” since it is raising money for four charities: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Ryan Seacrest Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Teen Cancer America.
According to a Fox press release, fans can donate to any one of the four charities. Donations are not required to attend the "Red Band Society" tour screenings, which are free and open to the public. However, RSVPs are encouraged for the events. RSVPs are available at the official tour website.
People who have successfully RSVP’d will be added to the guest list and will receive a confirmation email. Availability is on a first-come, first-served basis at each venue, even if you are on the guest list. People who use the hashtag #redbandsociety at the screening can receive an exclusive "Red Band Society" T-shirt.
The tour will feature different cast members in each city, such as Bradley, Octavia Spencer, Dave Annable, Ciara Bravo, Griffin Gluck, Zoe Levin, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Charlie Rowe and Nolan Sotillo, as well as executive producer Margaret Nagle. Bradley, who is 17, plays a character named Dash in "Red Band Society."
So far, Bradley, Rittenhouse, Rowe and Levin have attended the screenings in New York City and Philadelphia. Spencer, Sotillo, Annable, Nagle and Bravo attended the Los Angeles screening.
Here is a sampling of Twitter reactions to the "Red Band Society" pilot episode:
"Got to meet the cast of Red Band Society. The series is going to be perfect!"
"Watched the pilot for Fox's new show @RedBandSociety. It's Breakfast Club where everyone gets cancer. Great honest moments w/ some problems."
"Can't wait for everyone to see @RedBandSociety this fall on @FOXTV @Nolan_Sotillo and the rest of the cast r great!"
"Hanging with some of the @redbandsociety cast. Heart this show so much @charlie_rowe @zolev1 @rebeccaritt."
Here is a description of "Red Band Society" from Fox: "From Steven Spielberg's Amblin Television and starring Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer ('The Help,' 'Fruitvale Station'), Dave Annable ('Brothers & Sisters,' '666 Park Avenue') and a charismatic cast of fresh faces, 'Red Band Society' is a provocative, inspiring and, at times, comic young ensemble drama told through the eyes of a group of teenagers who meet as patients in the pediatric ward of Ocean Park Hospital in Los Angeles."
According to a Fox press release, during the "Red Band Society" tour, "the cast members will visit various children’s hospitals to meet patients, participate in arts and crafts, as well as conduct interviews and a Q&A through the Ryan Seacrest Foundation broadcast media centers, Seacrest Studios. In addition, cast members will visit UCLA’s Daltrey/Townshend Teen and Young Adult Cancer Center on which the series’ own pediatric ward is based."
"The X Factor" U.S.'s third and final season ended in December 2013. Two months later, Fox announced that the show was cancelled, a decision that had been expected due to the show's rapidly declining ratings.
After his time on "The X Factor," Bradley is having more success as an actor than he is as music artist. Bradley (who also goes by the stage name the Astronomical Kid) is a rapper who came in seventh place on "The X Factor" U.S.'s first season in 2011. He was signed to Epic Records in 2012, when he worked on his first Epic Records album with producers Pharrell Williams and Boi-1da. The album was never released. In 2013, Bradley announced that he had parted ways with Epic Records. In 2012, Astro was featured on a remix of Cher Lloyd's "Want U Back," which was his only music that was released on Epic Records.
In 2012, Bradley made a guest appearance on the CBS drama "Person of Interest" and has done occasional performances on the East Coast. After his time on "The X Factor," Astro has independently released several songs and mixtapes as free downloads.
Bradley is also one of the co-stars of the Relativity Media sci-fi film "Earth to Echo," about a trio of adolescent friends who discover an outer-space alien in their neighborhood. Bradley plays Tuck, one of the friends who documents their adventures on video. "Earth to Echo" has a "found footage" format, with Tuck as the narrator. Bradley and other cast members attended the Los Angeles Film Festival premiere of "Earth to Echo" on June 15, 2014.
"Earth to Echo" has been slammed by critics, many of whom have described the movie as a substandard ripoff of the 1982 sci-fi blockbuster "E.T." On the website Rotten Tomatoes, which compiles reviews from movie critics, "Earth to Echo" has a 52 percent approval rating, which places it in the "rotten" category. Audiences are also not being charmed by the movie. According to Box Office Mojo, "Earth to Echo" had only $2,649,920 in ticket sales in its first day in U.S. and Canadian cinemas.
[July 6 2014 update: According to Box Office Mojo: "Earth to Echo" debuted in
"sixth place with an estimated $8.3 million ($13.5 million five-day). That's one of the worst openings yet for a movie using 'found footage'; remarkably, it's lower than notorious horror flops 'Apollo 18' and 'Devil's Due.' This seems to suggest that, five years after 'Paranormal Activity,' this particular technique has finally worn out its welcome."]
As previously reported, Bradley is also in the Liam Neeson drama film "A Walk Among the Tombstones," which will be distributed in North America by Universal Pictures. The movie, which began filming in New York City in March 2013, will be released in the U.S. and Canada on Sept. 19, 2014. On March 13, 2013, production company Cross Creek Pictures announced several of the movie's other cast members, including Bradley, who plays a 17-year-old homeless artist named TJ in the movie.
Here is the description of "A Walk Among the Tombstones" from a press release:
"Written and to be directed by Academy Award nominated Scott Frank (Out of Sight, The Lookout), the film is based on one of 17 Matt Scudder novels written by acclaimed crime novelist Lawrence Block. The Scudder series has been in print for over 40 years and translated into over 20 languages. The movie is being produced by Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher, with their company Double Feature Films, with Danny DeVito and his company, Jersey Films along with Cross Creek Pictures' Brian Oliver and Exclusive Media's Tobin Armbrust. 'A Walk Among the Tombstones' is also produced and financed by Cross Creek Pictures with Exclusive Media under their joint co-production deal. Tyler Thompson, Cross Creek Pictures' Executive Senior Vice President, will serve as executive producer along with Kerry Orent ('Duplicity' 'Definitely Maybe,' 'Michael Clayton').
"An ex-NYPD cop and recovering alcoholic haunted by regrets, Matt Scudder (Liam Neeson) has a lot to make up for. When a series of kidnappings targeting the wives of drug dealers escalates to grisly murder, Scudder reluctantly agrees to help a heroin trafficker (Dan Stevens) and his brother (Boyd Holbrook) hunt the two men down and bring them to bloody justice. An unlicensed private detective, Matt gets help from his former colleague (Ruth Wilson) and a homeless 17-year-old artist, TJ (Astro). Operating just outside the law to track down the monsters responsible, Scudder stops just short of becoming one himself."
Here are the announced dates and locations for “Red Band Society Tour: Banding Together for Good" screenings and Q&As:
June 25, 2014: New York City — Regal Battery Park Stadium, 102 North End Ave., 7 p.m. EDT.
June 25, 2014: Los Angeles — The Landmark, 10850 W. Pico Blvd., 7 p.m. PDT.
June 26, 2014: Philadelphia — United Artists Riverview Stadium 17, 1400 Columbus Blvd., 7 p.m. EDT.
June 27, 2014: Dallas — Angelika Film Center, 321 E. Mockingbird Ln., 7 p.m. CDT.
July 8, 2014: Chicago — Kerasotes Showplace Icon, 150 W. Roosevelt Rd., 7:30 p.m. CDT.
July 10, 2014: Atlanta — Regal Atlantic Station, 261 19th St., 7 p.m. EDT.