This week ABC will premiere its long-awaited Once Upon a Time spinoff, while the third season of New Girl heats up with a brand new episode. And just in case you were wondering, it involves a cat being neutered. Here are the other shows you need to be recording this week.
New Girl, FoxThe third season of Fox's critically acclaimed comedy of twenty-something LA singles is back with an all new episode. And yes, the plot does involve Winston taking his cat out for one final hurrah before having the poor defenseless creature fixed (as in permanently!). Only in La La Land would any of this make sense. New Girl airs Tuesdays at 9 PM ET on Fox.
Nashville, ABCWhy is ABC's Nashville one of the most strangely addictive dramas on network TV? Well for one, having Connie Britton in your cast, whose last show, Friday Night Lights, was the best drama to come out of network TV in decades (yet one that no one watched), certainly does help. Maybe just a little. Nashville airs Wednesdays at 10 PM ET on ABC.
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, ABCAlready one of the biggest fantasy dramas on network TV, ABC's Once Upon a Time is being spun-off into a brand new series that follows the same Alice from the Lewis Carroll books. Will Wonderland be as big of a hit for ABC as its parent show? Well when you consider the fact that Tim Burton's poorly-reviewed Alice in Wonderland from 2010 made a billion dollars (it's in 3D, Mommy!), you see why an Alice-themed TV show is such a slam dunk. Once Upon a Time in Wonderland premieres Thursday at 8 PM ET on ABC.
Boardwalk Empire, HBOMost of HBO's period mob drama takes place in Tampa this season, with Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) trying to secure new business opportunities. You think people from the Sunshine State are wacko now? Wait until you see how nutty they were in the Prohibition era! Boardwalk Empire airs Sunday at 6 PM ET on HBO.
Hello Ladies, HBOOne half the creative team that brought The Office to America (not Ricky Gervais) tries to find love in that sun-drenched pillar of fakery and pretension, otherwise known as Los Angeles. He may have signed up for more than he bargained for, but at the very least, there'll be a ton of laughs along the way. New episodes of Hello Ladies air Sunday nights at 7:30 PM ET on HBO.
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Jersey Shore Star Gets A Life: Jenni "JWoww" Farley just landed a recurring role on the long-running soap One Life To Live, which is re-launching on April 29th on Hulu, Hulu Plus and iTunes thanks to The Online Network. She will play Nikki, a bartender hired at the trendy nightclub Shelter, and can mix an Alabama Slammer as well as she can flirt with customers. As Shelter’s newest barmaid, club owner Blair Cramer (Kassie DePaiva) knows that it’s best to keep an eye on Nikki so things don’t get out of control. [Via Press Release]
Scorsese Heads to TV: Miramax and Martin Scorsese have teamed to develop a television series based on Scorsese’s 2002 movie Gangs Of New York (which was released by Miramax). The series will focus on organized gangs at the turn of the century and shortly thereafter in America, not only in New York but in other cities such as Chicago and New Orleans and the birth of organized crime in America. "This time and era of America’s history and heritage is rich with characters and stories that we could not fully explore in a two-hour film," Scorsese says. "A television series allows us the time and creative freedom to bring this colorful world, and all the implications it had and still does on our society, to life." [Deadline]
Grey's Anatomy Hires One Tree Hill Alum: A new doctor is coming to work in Seattle. One Tree Hill alum Hilarie Burton has signed on for a recurring guest role on Grey's Anatomy as a craniofacial specialist who visits Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital to work on a case. She'll make her debut in early May. [E!]
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Once Upon a Time Spinoff Castings: Sophie Lowe and Michael Socha has just been cast as one of the three leads in ABC‘s possible Once Upon A Time spinoff presentation, Once: Wonderland. OUAT creators Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz focused the presentation in pre-curse Wonderland and the story is told through the point of view of Alice (Lowe), who is surrounded by two major characters, The Knave of Hearts (Socha), a sardonic adventurer, a man of action, a loner and a heart-breaker; and Amahl, described as exotic, soulful and optimistic. Additionally, Peter Gadiot has been cast as Alice's mysterious love interest, Cyrus. Production is slated to begin April 7 in Vancouver, immediately following the season wrap of OUAT. [Deadline, THR]
Dads Casts New Wife: Vanessa Lachey has just joined Fox’s six-episode multi-camera comedy series Dads. She is now a regular after a recent recasting. From the creators of Ted, Dads centers on two successful guys in their 30s, Eli (Seth Green) and Warner (Tommy Dewey), who have their lives turned upside down when their nightmare dads (Peter Riegert, Martin Mull) unexpectedly move in with them. Lachey will play Camilla, Warner’s (Dewey) wife and, the mother of their two children (replacing Erin Pineda in the role). [Deadline]
From a Partner to a Friend: David Krumholtz (Partners) has joined NBC’s Brenda Forever pilot. He will play a close friend of Ellie Kemper's Brenda, a 31-year-old who does her own thing. He’ll appear as a guest star in the pilot, but if the project goes to series, there’s a good chance he’ll be back. The potential series would consist of stories from Brenda Miller’s past and present, creating a unique portrait of how a chubby, awkward but incredibly confident 13-year-old grew up to be the woman she is today. [TVLine]
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[Photo Credit: Patrick Harbron/The Online Network]
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Just as surely as the hippos and gazelles that populate the African savannah in Disney’s 1994 hand-drawn classic The Lion King must take their place in the grand cosmic scheme of things the best Disney animated movies have their own roles in the “circle of life” that the movie’s opening song of the same name written by Elton John and Tim Rice refers to. The films open in theatres and delight kids and adults alike before heading to the home-entertainment sphere where they find everlasting life by being passed down to future generations.
However every once in a while a beloved Disney title gets reincarnated on the big screen in a newer spiffier form. Such is the case with The Lion King itself which arrives in theatres for the first time in 3D in a limited run beginning September 16 before its release on shelves as a special Diamond Edition Blu-ray on October 4.
An audience of Mouse House devotees were treated to the first public screening of The Lion King in 3D at the Anaheim Convention Center’s multi-tiered arena on Saturday August 20 2011 as part of Disney’s fanboy-nirvana D23 Expo. Directors Rob Minkoff and Roger Allers took to the stage to introduce the screening at one point even offering a spirited rendition of the miniature musical number in which the comedy team of wisenheimer meerkat Timon (voiced by Nathan Lane) and gaseous warthog Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella) distract a band of evil minions by launching into a rapid-fire Hawaiian-themed ditty. One of the co-directors even kept the rhythm going by banging on the makeshift drum of an upside-down water jug.
Then the movie began and it’s gratifying to report that Disney’s 3D conversion of The Lion King is an excellent fittingly majestic bit of post-production wizardry. Of course part of what makes the 3D so enveloping is that Minkoff and Allers have already done such an expert job of creating visually layered 2D compositions that the addition of the third dimension is able to stagger those layers in a striking manner. For example the last shot of malicious Uncle Scar’s (Jeremy Irons miraculously delivering the best vocal performance in a cast that also includes the booming baritone of James Earl Jones) “Be Prepared” musical number features an elephant’s skeleton in the foreground and the sight of Scar and his hyena underlings bellowing the song’s final notes atop a craggy mountain in the background. In 3D the viewer can get happily lost in the amplified depth between the shot’s foreground and background action.
Naturally there are also more gimmicky less subtle uses of 3D. Pumbaa’s snout and two horns are repeatedly lunging right at the spectator and the smoke and dust kicked up in the wake of the wildebeest stampede that (spoiler alert for those who have been living under a rock for the past 17 years!) claims King Mufasa’s (Jones) life seemed to hover in the Anaheim arena’s air. Since perhaps the most eye-catching use of 3D is when a flying character seems to soar in the space between the screen and the audience (think of that fuzzy-butterfly-type creature that stole the show in Disneyland’s 3D attraction Captain EO) the winged movements of Mufasa’s avian adviser Zazu (Rowan Atkinson) make for some of the movie’s showiest 3D touches. But they also lead to my one quibble with the 3D here: because the “you can seemingly reach out and touch Zazu” effects are so attention-grabbing scenes that aren’t even dramatically centered on Zazu end up inevitably and distractingly being all about the snooty beaked majordomo.
As fans would expect though the film’s stirring hero’s-quest narrative arc and emotional grace notes register just as strongly in this new format. When young hero Simba (voiced as a cub by Jonathan Taylor Thomas) devastated by father Mufasa’s death crawls under the giant paw of his dad’s corpse a few D23 attendees behind me could be heard blowing loudly into their tissues. That’s another benefit of having this film in 3D: those dark glasses do a great job of hiding your tears.
Hardened by years of brutal but loyal military service special ops officer Robert Scott (Val Kilmer) is assigned to find the president's apparently kidnapped daughter Laura Newton (Kristen Bell). Pairing up with his protégé Curtis (Derek Luke) Scott works diligently with a task force of presidential advisors the Secret Service the FBI and the CIA to find her and through their investigation they stumble upon a white slavery ring in the Middle East which may--or may not--have some connection to Laura's disappearance. The straightforward search-and-rescue mission is soon bogged down in political machinations and the girl's abduction starts to look even more suspicious than it did at first. In fact the mission comes to an abrupt halt altogether when the girl is supposedly found drowned from a boating accident. Scott returns to his quiet life until Curtis shows up and proves that Laura is still alive and most likely trapped in the white slavery ring. In a race against time Scott and Curtis embark on their own unofficial rescue mission--and put themselves at the center of a dangerous conspiracy that goes all the way to the top of the U.S. government.
Val Kilmer probably won't be joining Mamet's dedicated circle of players--which includes Joe Mantegna William H. Macy and Mamet's wife actress Rebecca Pidgeon--any time soon. While it's clear Kilmer took the role to work with the talented writer/director he isn't well suited to deliver "Mamet-speak"--the rapid fire delivery of terse dialogue the writer is known for--and Kilmer looks uncomfortable trying to do it. The gifted actor who can't help but bring in his own quirky sensibilities to the part still hits the nail on the head as steely resolute Scott. But the minute he starts dispensing sage advice--Mamet-style--Kilmer sticks out like a sore thumb. Same goes for Luke (Antwone Fisher) who is entirely miscast as Scott's sidekick. Others in the ensemble however handle the Mamet chores more adeptly including Macy and Ed O'Neill (yes the guy from TV's Married ... With Children) as presidential aides.
Spartan's real problem however is that it's a thriller without much thrill. Mamet's expertise is in creating scenarios within a microcosm whether it's a world of con artists (House of Games; The Spanish Prisoner) salesmen (Glengarry Glen Ross) or even showbiz (State and Main). These Mamet films are even-keeled--almost devoid of emotion. He sets up characters and actions relevant to that particular world so when characters spout lines in Mamet's distinctive style it comes off as perfectly natural. Yet with Spartan Mamet is tackling a bigger grander picture and when his style is applied to the world as a whole it doesn't work. Plus in the thriller genre the audience needs to feel invested in the characters and Mamet's distant unemotional style doesn't lend itself to sending the audience's collective hearts racing. The only poignant moment in the film belongs to Bell as the wounded daughter who just wants a little attention from Daddy and the only truly exciting moments are during her rescue. That said however Spartan proves Mamet still knows how to craft a story. Although the script is at times vague and convoluted it thankfully never falls into any of the genre's usual patterns and it throws in enough twists to keep you on your toes.