The week of Sept. 17, 2014 was a milestone for former “X Factor” U.S. contestant Astro, whose real name is Brian Bradley. The first episode of the Fox TV dramedy series “Red Band Society” (which co-stars Bradley) premiered on Sept. 17, 2014. Then on Sept. 19, 2014, his crime-drama movie “A Walk Among the Tombstones” (starring Liam Neeson) premiered in U.S. and Canadian cinemas. “A Walk Among the Tombstones” is getting a much better reception from the public than “Red Band Society.”
According to the Nielsen Company, the series premiere of “Red Band Society” had pathetic ratings: Only 4.1 million U.S. viewers tuned in to watch, which means that the show is almost certain to be cancelled instead of renewed for a second season. In addition, “Red Band Society” has been getting mixed reviews from TV critics, most of whom said that although the acting is good, the show’s writing is at times too predictable and corny.
Ironically, the U.S. show that got the highest ratings (12.2 million U.S. viewers) on Sept. 17, 2014, was the Season 9 finale of “America’s Got Talent,” a show created/executive produced by Simon Cowell, who is also creator/executive producer for “The X Factor.” “Red Band Society” occupies the same time slot that “The X Factor” U.S. had from 2011 to 2013 before “The X Factor” was cancelled. “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.
As previously reported, Bradley is also in the Liam Neeson drama film “A Walk Among the Tombstones,” which is distributed in North America by Universal Pictures. The movie, which began filming in New York City in March 2013, was released in the U.S. and Canada on Sept. 19, 2014. Bradley has a supporting role as a 17-year-old homeless artist named TJ in the movie, which has been getting mostly positive reviews from critics, according to the website Rotten Tomatoes, which compiles reviews for movies and TV shows. Early sales numbers for “A Walk Among the Tombstones” indicate that the movie isn’t going to flop, but it isn’t going to be a big hit either.
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 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.”
As for “Red Band Society,” the show’s dismal ratings certainly aren’t because of a lack of promotion by Fox.
In late August 2014, Fox made the first episode of “Red Band Society” available as a free sneak preview on demand on several websites, including Fox.com, Fox Now, Hulu.com, AOL.com, Yahoo.com, EW.com, TVGuide.com, USAToday.com, Variety.com, TheWrap.com, Zap2it.com, TVLine.com, RyanSeacrest.com, HelloGiggles.com and Essence.com. In addition, the episode was available on Fox on Demand on most cable TV systems in the United States.
As previously reported, Bradley and other cast members of the Fox drama series “Red Band Society” went on a U.S. tour in June and July 2014 to promote “Red Band Society.” The tour (which began in New York City and Los Angeles on June 25, 2014) consisted of advance screenings of the pilot episode of “Red Band Society,” followed by a Q&A with the stars of the show. The other cities visited on the tour were Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas and Philadelphia.
The tour was called “Red Band Society Tour: Banding Together for Good” and raised money for four charities: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Ryan Seacrest Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Teen Cancer America. According to Fox, this charity initiative raised more than $100,000. During the “Red Band Society” tour, the cast members visited various children’s hospitals to meet patients and participate in arts and crafts. The cast members also did several interviews to promote the show.
The tour featured 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.”
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.”
July 2014 was a busy month for Bradley. In addition to the “Red Band Society tour,” he was busy promoting his sci-fi movie “Earth to Echo,” which opened in wide release in the U.S. and Canada on July 2, 2014. “Earth to Echo” was a huge flop with audiences and got mixed-to-negative reviews from critics.
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.” Audiences are also not being charmed by the movie. 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 of Sept. 19, 2014, “Earth to Echo” has generated only $38.5 million in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada, according to Box Office Mojo.