Hello, it’s very nice to meet you! (Leanne awkwardly curtsies) I am here for two simple reasons: I love TV and I’m very impatient. I’m so impatient that I don’t want to have to wait to find out what’s “coming up next week… ” on my TV. I want to know now. Luckily, I’m great at gathering spoilers, but I’m not the best at keeping secrets. So the powers that be at Hollywood.com have gifted me with my very own weekly column to dish details on all your favorite shows! (Please try to contain your excitement, people are starting to stare... )
So here’s how it’s going to work: Every Wednesday, I’ll post a short but oh-so sweet list of all the spoilers you absolutely need to know. Every show will get their time to shine, but if you really want to hear scoop about a particular series, shout it out on Twitter (using the hashtag #LeannesList) or (if you’re too lazy to open another window on your desktop) just place your requests in the comments below.
Now that we’re slowly but surely becoming cyber soulmates, let’s get down to the goods. Seven shows have made my list this week and that is no coincidence. (It’s my favorite number.) I caught up with the stars of Glee, Sons of Anarchy, New Girl, and more to bring you exclusive scoop that you won’t get anywhere else. But before you read on, I really must clarify because there is always that one perpetually lost reader: There are spoilers ahead honey! If you don’t want to know, then I suggest you go back to looking at your friends’ awkward engagement photos on Facebook! For the rest of you, I hope you enjoy.
1. Glee: Oh, Ryan Murphy, you play with our hearts. The new season hasn’t even started yet and you’ve already ignited a new civil war: finchel v. brodchel. We’re all on the same team, people! To help clear the confusion, I fangirled chatted with the lovely Lea Michele about the endgame of Rachel’s love life. Not only did the Queen of Glee share some positive, yes I said positive, Finchel news with me, she also quoted her on and off-screen beau Cory Monteith in the process! In a word, adorable. Michele begins, “Well I definitely think that people love Finn and Rachel together and I also think that they’re really interesting sometimes apart.”
Now, before you start to hyperventilate Finchel fans, take a deep breath and read on. “But this is what Cory would say: Cory always says, ‘Finchel Forever.' That’s his answer to everything!” Michele says with a laugh, “So I’m just going to take that one.” You hear that guys? Finchel forever. Stay tuned for Thursday night’s Glee recap for more squee-worthy goodies from Michele and the rest of the cast.
2. New Girl: Max Greenfield is amazing at three things: 1) Acting like a douche. B) Putting money into a jar. And finally, dishing details on the new season of New Girl. While Schmidt and Cece (Hannah Simone) are going “back to square one,” many new characters will be entering the apartment this year. Greenfield tells me, “We’re looking to their families this year and getting to know the [main] characters a little bit more in that way. Like where did these guys come from and not so much of where they are now.”
And of course I had to ask about my favorite character on the show: Fat Schmidt. Luckily, Greenfield shares my same admirations of his character's chubby past. “Playing Fat Schmidt is fun, like really fun. He comes back in the first episode for a quick little pop which is really funny, but I would love to do one where it’s a much larger scene.” That makes two of us Schmidty.
3. Shameless: When I caught up with the ridiculously gorgeous Emmy Rossum, she spilled that Season 3 will be filled with a bunch of “crazy” new jobs for Fiona. “I’ve had a couple nasty jobs already, sewage clean-up, clubbing and grocery working so it’s been fun.” Reader’s note: that “fun” was laced with heavy Rossum sarcasm.
Our favorite Disney starlet (no lie) also revealed that Jimmy (Justin Chatwin) and Fiona are now bunking together under the same Gallagher roof and living happily ever after. For now. Rossum warns, “Well, they are at the start of the season, we’ll see how far that continues.” Dun dun duuun. “The road is definitely rocky. They need to come clean, and then there’s Jimmy’s Dad and our younger brother and their relationship so it’s a little complicated.” More like a lotta complicated, but hey I’m not here to argue...
4. Sons of Anarchy: Death is coming for the fellas of FX — and it certainly won't be pretty. Producer Paris Barclay says that there will be "quite a few empty seats at the table" by season's end. Yikes! And unfortunately, star-slash-baddie Ron Perlman fears he might be one of them. "I've worried [about being killed off] pretty much for the last three seasons," Perlman says. "My deeds get more and more dastardly, and more and more heinous. I'm fodder, baby. A lot of people want to take me out, and not for coffee." [Insert your version of “oh snap!” here.]
Losing Clay would be a major bummer, but Barclay says this season's deaths will all be for the greater good. "We're starting to develop the story of Jax (Charlie Hunnam) really taking control of the club," he says. "There are going to have to be certain transitions to make that happen, and that's what you're going to see in Season 5." Looking forward to it!
5. Raising Hope: Do you hear that? (Just imagine a faint “ding-dong.”) Well, that’s sounds of wedding bells chiming from your TV. Nicely done! Shannon Woodward tells me that our favorite Raising Hope couple may be heading for matrimony this season. Woodward gushes, “There’s engagement stuff happening! That’s like a full bit of this season, so that is definitely becoming a fast-approaching option I think.”
Another exciting storyline coming up involves Jenny Slate from my favorite SNL bit of all-time. The SNL grad joins the quirky comedy for a super special two-part episode as an overly curious social worker. Woodward explains, “She’s worried that we’re abusing Maw-Maw (Cloris Leachman), so she takes her away from us and puts her in a home. And we try to break her out because she’s really unhappy there.” And hilarity is sure to ensue.
6. Touch: Child actors typically scare the crap out of me. They’re overly serious and I swear sometimes their eyes can pierce straight through my soul. Luckily Touch’s David Mazouz is adorable, sweet, and completely normal even though he’s now “best buds” with Jack Bower Kiefer Sutherland. This pint-sized protagonist was able to dish on what’s coming up for the drama-filled second season. Mazouz says, “It’s really suspenseful. I thinks it’s a lot more suspenseful than last year… and it’s kind of a chase to find Amelia (Saxon Sharbino).”
For those of you who have been living under a rock (or in Lima... ), Amelia is Lucy's (Maria Bello) gifted daughter who's currently MIA. Mazouz says he hopes to finally find his voice this season, “I think that Jake is going to have a lot more organic and new original ways of communication. I don’t know about talking yet. I hope so. I hope that comes out, but no sign of it.” Well I’ve heard him speak and I promise he sounds just like a normal 11-year-old boy but with roughly 30 extra years of maturity.
7. Hart of Dixie: The entire time I was interviewing Scott Porter, all I wanted to do was scream “Texas forever!” But instead, like a good little journalist, I nabbed specifics about the premiere of Hart of Dixie. Porter says this season will have a quicker pace than last year’s Southern drawl. “We are going to give people answers right in episode one. We’re going to pick up seven hours after the finale ends. George wakes up and very purposefully goes to Lavon’s house to thank Lavon for his help and then sees Zoe (Rachel Bilson).”
Uh-oh! When we last saw Zoe, she was fornicating with the town’s more shirtless bachelor. Porter spills, “Wade (Wilson Bethel) is still going to be around and Zoe’s poker face is not the greatest, so you’re going to really see those relationships change right off the bat.” I’ll have more details from our favorite Dillon Panther as the Hart of Dixie season premiere gets closer.
Are you happy with Lea Michele’s Finchel fodder? Nervous for the deaths that await this season on Sons of Anarchy? Tired of the love triangles on Hart of Dixie? Hoping to see Jimmy and Sabrina tie the knot? Tell me everything in the comments below, and see you back here next Wednesday for more spoilers!
Follow Leanne on Twitter @LeanneAguilera
—Additional reporting by Shaunna Murphy.
[Photo Credit: FOX, FX, The CW]
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Most drug movies glamorize the use and/or distribution of narcotics before telling the ugly truth about the addiction or jail time that follows and the shady figures that inhabit society’s underbelly. Taking characters from point A to point B and finally to their lowest point is a formulaic but effective storyline that shows how substance abuse destroys lives. It worked for Blow Scarface and The Basketball Diaries but in Limitless director Neil Burger ignores that successful blueprint and essentially says “Do drugs kids! They’ll help you! And don’t worry it’ll all work out in the end!”
Of course a more familiar narrative precedes this self-serving unorthodox conclusion and it could’ve worked if Burger navigated the story with more focus. The film begins when struggling novelist and all around slob Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) who has a permanent case of writer’s block runs into his drug-peddling-ex-brother-in-law in Manhattan (what are the odds?) This slimy fellow gives him an experimental pill called NZT that clears its users mind and helps them focus. When he ingests it his long-gestating novel is completed in a matter of hours and his grimy apartment is made-over to look like a room at the Ritz Carlton. The pace of the picture picks up quickly as Eddie climbs New York City’s social and corporate ladders acquiring wealth power women and the attention of greedy entrepreneurs ruthless gangsters and assassins who want the drug themselves.
The high-concept premise presented storytelling potential as expansive as the title suggests but Limitless is hampered by a series of discrepancies that render it silly and disjointed. Some of the smaller ones are relatively insignificant and won’t hinder the experience but others (such as the lethal effects of the drug which conveniently don’t apply to our protagonist) defy the internal logic that screenwriter Leslie Dixon sets up. It’s also hard to ignore how useless a handful of the sub-plots are. Abbie Cornish’s character starts out as motivation for Cooper’s but her relevance lessens as the stakes are raised and Eddie slips further into the worlds of finance and crime. The same can be said of the Russian gangster whose arc begins when he lends Eddie some capital for an investment and ends in a pulpy bloodbath. Burger leads you to believe that these side-stories will have greater impact on the bottom line but by the time the film wraps it becomes clear that they’ve collectively convoluted the plot.
It is however entirely possible that the filmmakers’ goal was to make a movie that mimics the incoherent mind-bending state that hallucinogens induce and in that sense Limitless works. Burger builds on that idea by visualizing the effects of NZT with unusual camera techniques including abrupt changes in color editing tricks that revisit the action in reverse (sort of) and a great time/spatial elapsing effect that literally pulls the viewer through Eddie’s lengthy drug coma. The dizzying display of surreal imagery is the films greatest gimmick designed to draw your attention away from its weaknesses.
At its core Limitless is about excess: excess of knowledge power money etc. and fittingly excess is one of its biggest problems. The filmmakers force too much upon their movie from unnecessary fight scenes to sexual encounters with metropolitan socialites that ironically water down its potency instead of giving it more edginess. Like any drug it starts out as something refreshing and stimulating but when you come down you’re stuck wondering where the last few hours went.
Based on the best-selling book of the same name Fast Food Nation has three intertwined stories revolving around the fast food industry. Don Anderson (Greg Kinnear) is a corporate marketing guy assigned to put a positive spin on the bad news that fecal traces has been found in the meat. He goes to the meat factory to investigate and doesn’t like what he sees but no one offers him a viable solution. Then there’s Raul (Wilmer Valderrama) and Sylvia (Catalina Sandino Moreno) Mexican immigrants who cross the border illegally. The only job they can get is in the meat factory. She bears with demeaning sexual advances while he faces the unhealthy and dangerous conditions to try for the American Dream. Finally we meet Amber (Ashley Johnson) who works in a local franchise. She’s just a high school girl trying to pay for her car insurance. This isn’t her future but it dominates her present. The corporate story is a comedy about ineffective management and media spin. The immigrants’ story is a hard drama about a bad life. Amber’s story straddles both lines--a slacker teen comedy but also introspective about what the job is doing to her soul. It may be no secret these days but it’s still fascinating. There is plenty of juicy dialogue for actors to sink their teeth into (pun intended). Kinnear plays the corporate suit as lovably as possible. He’s the put-upon business cog similar to his characters in The Matador and Little Miss Sunshine but funnier because it’s the system that’s futile not his own dreams. Valderrama has a smaller part just supporting his wife going through a horrible life with noble determination. Moreno is as heartbreaking as she was in her Oscar-nominated performance in Maria Full of Grace. You sense so much potential in her and she’s stuck in the factory demeaned by sexual harassment and unable to save her sister from succumbing to it. She adds new colors of despair to the immigrant experience. Johnson is careful not to make her character too wise beyond her years. She really is just a normal kid. High school sucks so do counter jobs. It’s not about being unique just relatable. Cameos stand out too. Ethan Hawke plays the coolest uncle ever. He comes to town for two scenes spouts off his cool-uncle advice and then leaves. Even though he’s a self-confessed loser he’s convincing. And he buys her beer. Bruce Willis gives a speech on the meat industry with his David Addison smirk while chomping into a burger. We’re sold. Director Richard Linklater does a good job keeping the comedy and drama balanced. He cuts back and forth between stories at sensible intervals. Towards the end Greg Kinnear disappears for a long time but Ashley Johnson’s story beefs up to compensate. Showing the inner workings of the meat factory is pretty powerful. Cow guts falling out and bodies mangled by machinery are not fun things to watch but they are important to remember. It’s all up there on the screen but not gratuitous—and doesn’t have to ruin meat forever. Just think how all foods have processes that we don’t see and still taste good. There are plenty of scenes in which the characters are talking a real Linklater specialty (Before Sunset Before Sunrise for example). Whether they’re talking about meat or minimum wage jobs or life ambitions the conversations have a catchy flow. The satire of corporate America and slacker lifestyles juxtaposed against the drama of immigrant life makes Fast Food Nation both ridiculously funny and appropriately uncomfortable.