It's arguable that Ryan Murphy is the current darling of television. And he seems to know it! With three shows currently on-air under his control (Glee, American Horror Story, The New Normal), he has a lot of fans who are hungry for more and more information. Add to that a bevy of celebrity friends that are also fans of his work, and you have a very lovely problem: everybody wants to be a guest star!
These are pretty fantastic problems to have, huh? Murphy is no doubt a fan of television and movies, as well: it's seen in his Glee homage episodes, references on The New Normal (the Grey Gardens bit was perfect), and also when he hat tips his celebrity friends on his shows. Because of all the notoriety surrounding his projects, the dull roar of those fanatics that desire more and more information is probably overwhelming. So it's no surprise that Murphy will sometimes let his tidbits slip on his Twitter account.
At first, it was great! Finding out in real time what was in store for our favorite story lines, guest stars, and more was exciting. When Murphy joined Twitter on July 30th, the majority of his 622 tweets became mostly about these things. And pretty soon, all hope for a surprise on a Murphy show was lost.
Guess who's helping us with Sarah Jessica Parker's costumes on GLEE?The amazing Anna Wintour!— Ryan Murphy (@MrRPMurphy) July 31, 2012
Thrilled to announce Emmy nominee Frances Conroy is returning to AHS. Devils and angels this year...Frannie plays the ultimate angel.— Ryan Murphy (@MrRPMurphy) September 6, 2012
Proud to announce Nicole Richie and the legendary George Takei are joining The New Normal family.— Ryan Murphy (@MrRPMurphy) September 28, 2012
Guess who's coming to #AmericanHorrorStory Asylum to tussle with Jessica Lange? Legendary Golden Globe winner Ian McShane!— Ryan Murphy (@MrRPMurphy) October 10, 2012
Guess who's coming on The New Normal as Bryan's sexy ex-boyfriend? The one and only Matt Bomer!!!— Ryan Murphy (@MrRPMurphy) October 10, 2012
So thrilled to announce Dylan McDermott is returning to American Horror Story!— Ryan Murphy (@MrRPMurphy) October 17, 2012
Phew! We're overwhelmed all over again. So it seems that the only thing left to do is let Murphy know how we feel. So forgive us, Mr. Murphy, but it's time for some executive realness.
Dear Mr. Murphy,
How are you doing, my dude? Can I call you that? No? OK. ANWAY! From the perspective of an aspiring television writer such as myself, it really seems like you're living the dream. You've got three highly visible shows on-air, with praise from critics and fans. People like you! (They really, really like you!) Everyone wants to work with you: celebrities and networks alike. This is pretty ideal, right? Everything's really coming up Millhouse for you.
It's impressive you can keep up with it all. And congratulations on that: it's no small feat! Because of your über-popularity, it seems we barely go a day without hearing some new, big, exciting news about one of your shows—a lot of which comes from your Twitter account. You know what your fans want and you're probably the most social media-y showrunner out there. Giving the people what they want; keeping your fandoms happy as pie. It's pretty nice of you.
But...I can't help but feel like I need to level with you a little bit. Have one of those weird, adult "hard" conversations. Man-o a (wo)man-o. What about the element of surprise? Maybe I'm one of those old-fashioned broads, but I love leaving a little something to be desired. The anticipation and the build-up before unveiling a surprise makes the pay-off of watching a show and being a fan that much better. Sure, some stuff is going to get leaked—and it's better to control the leak yourself, for sure—but...does everything have to be a controlled leak sent to my Twitterfeed with up-to-the-nanosecond accuracy? So many casting announcements, so little time! No hate on your Twitter game, but damn. Now everyone's just talking and hypothesizing—anxiously awaiting what they already know is coming rather than just watching the show and experiencing a good surprise as it happens.
The buzz around a television show is a lot like foreplay: a tease here and there can heighten the experience, leave you wanting more, and drive you crazy (in a good way). But too much of a good thing and you just end up rubbing your nerve-endings raw and, sometimes, losing all interest. And that is some sensory overload-type s**t. When you leave some things to the imagination, it can be a good thing! Less is more, you know what I'm sayin', Murph (can I call you that? No? OK, just kidding)?
In the end, we're all gluttons for the good stuff: we always want more and more...until we're stuffed. We don't want to fill up on bread (and regret) before the main course, but if you keep refilling the basket, we might lose all self-control and keep freebasing those carbs. So let's leave some things to reveal themselves, you know, on the TV screen, yeah? Sure, we might beg for it, but that's just because we don't realize how good it might feel to wait for the big reveal. Like the old days! Just something to think about. You know. If you want!
[Photo Credit: WENN.com]
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
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L.A. Woman: We think NBC was totally justified in developing this one. Boomtown and Justified mastermind Graham Yost has again partnered with the peacock, this time for a 1970's female spy drama. NBC ordered a script for the hourlong project, which Yost will write and executive produce. [THR]
The Rachel Zoe Project: Do you just die for Rachel Zoe's fashionable antics? You're in luck. Bravo has officially renewed The Rachel Zoe Project for a whopping fifth season. [Deadline]
The Hero: Finally, what my freshman roommate the TV world has long been waiting for — a reality competition program starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Johnson will mentor ten potential "heroes" who live in a house and are given a variety of challenges that test their brains, brawn, and morality. In the end, one player will be named a true hero. They will then be sent into a burning building filled with kittens. [Deadline]
The Good Wife: Looks like life post-Pan Am can go on. Christina Ricci will appear in CBS' hit legal drama The Good Wife, as a comedienne who uses her beauty for comedic effect. Of course, she'll seek out the services of Lockhart Gardner. [TVLine]
American Horror Story: She's ba-ack! Frances Conroy, who played the elder half of the sexually charged maid Moira, will return for season two alongside other season one vets Jessica Lange, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Zachary Quinto, and Sarah Paulson. Murphy tweeted that the actress would play "the ultimate angel."
Thrilled to announce Emmy nominee Frances Conroy is returning to AHS. Devils and angels this year...Frannie plays the ultimate angel.— Ryan Murphy (@MrRPMurphy) September 6, 2012
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
[PHOTO CREDIT: ABC]
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The Hours star, who played sisters Frannie and Sabrina Hughes on As The World Turns in the mid-1980s, was upset when she heard the long-running show was ending and signed up to appear in one of the final shows.
She tells WENN, "There is no time continuum in soaps, so I just came back as one of the sisters. The other one was stuck somewhere else!
"As The World Turns was my first big job and everyone was wonderful and incredibly professional and very supportive and loving. It was a great job for me, so when they said the show was ending it was incredibly sad because you don't want to see anything end like that.
"I was happy to go back and glad to be there near the end of it. I was glad to see the people who played my parents and the woman who played my sister and to see a couple of the crew members who were still there. It was cool to be able to have that opportunity and to thank people."
The A Single Man star will return to the show which helped launch her acting career. EW.com reports suggest Moore will film her role this week (beg01Mar09).
The actress won a Daytime Emmy Award for her double role as half-sisters Frannie and Sabrina Hughes in 1988.
Recently, James Franco turned his back on the movies for a little U.S. TV soap when he joined the cast of General Hospital.
Part Mean Girls part Heathers—hell there’s even a little bit of Hilary Duff’s ridiculously stupid The Perfect Man thrown in there—John Tucker Must Die fits the genre nicely. But the word “die” is a little harsh. Actually when three high school girls—wannabe journalist Carrie (Arielle Kebbel) head cheerleader Heather (Ashanti) and vegan activist Beth (Sophia Bush)—find out they are all dating the delectable John Tucker (Jesse Metcalfe) the school’s basketball star they decide to get even. After several embarrassing tactics backfire the girls come up with the perfect idea. They’ll recruit pretty but anonymous new kid Kate (Brittany Snow) doll her up and get Tuck to fall in love with her so she can ceremoniously dump him. Wow I can’t see anything going wrong with that plan. Not at all. Talk about some pretty people John Tucker has got them in spades starting off with the insanely handsome Metcalfe who literally had women weak in the knees as the hot gardener who woos Desperate Housewives’ Eva Longoria. It’s not a big stretch to see him as the sexy Tuck the most popular er player in school. Then there’s the trio of revengeful hotties: tall lean and blonde Kebbel (Aquamarine) as the “smart” girl; curvy singer/actress Ashanti (Coach Carter) as the bring-it-on “cheerleader”; and luscious and exotic Bush (TV’s One Tree Hill) as the “experienced” one. But really its the perky Snow’s (The Pacifier) show effectively playing the “invisible” girl no one knows or even cares to know who moves around a lot whenever her mother (Jenny McCarthy in a nice bit part) breaks up with a “John Tucker” herself. What’s wrong with these single moms dragging their daughters all over the place after their hearts get broken? Betty Thomas best known for her turn as Sgt. Lucy Bates on Hill Street Blues doesn’t have the best track record in town as a director (I Spy is hers for example). But she’s helmed enough passable comedies (The Brady Bunch Movie Dr. Dolittle) to grant her admittance into the club. Problem here is Thomas isn’t teamed up with a sharp writer like Saturday Night Live alum Tina Fey whose Mean Girls script simply zings. John Tucker is pretty standard fare taking bits and pieces from the already established high-school formula. Still the coveted teen market will more than likely enjoy all the antics in the film—especially the whole “thong” bit in which Tuck caught wearing a thong in one of the girls’ schemes makes it cool for guys everywhere to wear thongs. Yeah you get the picture.
It’s Halloween Eve in suburbia and while most of the neighborhood kids are gearing up for a candy extravaganza two young‘uns--DJ (voiced by Mitchell Musso) and Chowder (voiced by Sam Lerner)--are fretting and dreading. They’re convinced that the decrepit house across the street is in fact a monster house inhabited by an old hermit named Nebbercracker (voiced by Steve Buscemi) that will lure kids in on Halloween night. But just as DJ’s parents who naturally don’t believe him to begin with leave for a vacation DJ inadvertently sends Nebbercracker to his death--or so he fears. Now DJ believes Nebbercracker’s monster house will seek revenge on him specifically and to make matters worse his negligent babysitter (voiced by Maggie Gyllenhaal) won’t hear of his yapping. After DJ and Chowder are forced to take action they along with a girl peddling candy (voiced by Spencer Locke) discover how the monster came to be and just how unforgiving she is. When it comes to animation acting the main goal is to make audiences forget that the actors are giving their performances in a studio possibly dressed in their PJs and sans makeup. That goal’s usually achieved but Monster House takes a gamble in supposing that child actors comprising the lead characters will be able to wrap their still-expanding brains around the concept. Somehow Lerner and Musso grasp this despite sounding like they haven’t even been in this world very long! The two are surrounded by a fail-proof supporting cast: it takes a while to recognize Buscemi’s voice as Nebbercracker but once it hits it fits and Gyllenhaal as the babysitter is great if unpredictable casting. Quasi-cameos from Jason Lee as Gyllenhaal’s punk boyfriend Jon Heder as a video-game god and Kevin James and Nick Cannon as slow-moving and -thinking cops garner the most laughs. Not only does it help a film’s box office performance to have Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis onboard as executive producers it helps a film’s director--in this case a rookie director named Gil Kenan. (Zemeckis directed ‘04’s somewhat similar-looking The Polar Express.) While the animation doesn’t quite stand up to say Pixar’s earth-shattering visuals Kenan makes up for it with a fun-filled story (from scripters Dan Harmon Rob Schrab and Pamela Pettler) and an overall lively involved effort--and it’s not like the movie doesn’t still look gorgeous. Besides sometimes it’s refreshing to not be so entranced by the CGI that you lose sight of the actual movie at hand. Kenan’s film is one of the scarier animated movies in a while but that still doesn’t exclude many age groups. What the first-time director thrives on is stopping just shy of true horror moments at which point he reverts to feel-good mode without ever being sappy.
Four girlfriends head into their near-40s and wonder if they'd even be friends if they met today. Frannie (Joan Cusack) is rich and happily married trying to decide how to give away $2 million. Christine (Catherine Keener) is fighting with her co-screenwriting partner/husband (Jason Isaacs) about an addition to their house and Jane (Frances McDormand) is a successful fashion designer who won't wash her hair--and has a husband (Simon McBurney) everyone thinks is gay. The youngest of the friends is Olivia (Jennifer Aniston) who's single a pothead and a maid who goes through people's drawers. The other three worry about Olivia and set her up with handsome trainer (Scott Caan) but he ends up treating her as bad as all her past boyfriends. It isn’t until she meets Marty (Bob Stephenson) an average-Joe living in a messy apartment does she finally find some harmony. No Aniston isn't doing Rachel from Friends here although it may look like that at first. Rachel would never take a vibrator out of a stranger's drawer and well you know. More the actress revisits her Good Girl character adding some additional more hard-hitting layers. Some of the fights she has with Caan sound like they could have come right out of a spat she may have had with Brad Pitt. Oscar-winner McDormand is once again a wonder as a woman so filled with angst and anger she has no idea the effect she has on those around her. Keener too steps up as the screenwriter struggling with a failing marriage. In fact all the relationships these women have hit home mostly because this odd collection of stellar actresses seem to have a genuine and natural affinity for one another. Writer/director Nicole Holofcener has captured a world of cross-economic friendships that may seem awkward but comes across as realistic. She has cast her alter-ego Keener in all three of her films including Walking & Talking and Lovely & Amazing. This time Keener is a bit more hard-edged and frustrated and yet excruciatingly funny when she admits "I don't get SpongeBob." Holofcener has painted the men into the background very subtly but ultimately are unimportant to the friendships anyway. Some of the best moments are when the group is together chatting and talking over each other and that's why it's going to be unfairly compared to Sex and the City--girlfriends do get together in other cities too. Friends with Money is just an enjoyable slice-of-life for couples of any kind.
Only mildly titillating and not especially thrilling the wannabe erotic thriller In the Cut isn't able to rise to the occasion so to speak. This yawner stars Meg Ryan as Frannie a depressed creative writing teacher in New York who keeps mostly to herself unless it's to get together with her slutty half-sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Wary about love Frannie's seen how messed up relationships can get. The last guy Frannie dated an mentally unstable med student (Kevin Bacon) is stalking her while crazy sis Pauline is currently stalking a married man who has a restraining order against her. These people have serious issues and dour Frannie figures its easier just to fantasize about men and masturbate (hey don't we all?). Then she meets Det. James Malloy (Mark Ruffalo) an aggressive yet charismatic cop who questions her about the brutal murder of a woman in the neighborhood. Things get all screwy (in more ways than one) when the attraction between Frannie and Malloy grows and the slick detective ends up taking Frannie to some new sexual heights while at the same time strange occurrences are making her suspect Malloy is the murderer. Aw she's just so negative. It all comes to a head so to speak as the real murderer comes to light blah blah blah--but all we want to know is will Frannie finally find a good anti-depressant?
Along with so many actresses Meg Ryan apparently believes dying her hair brown wearing no makeup and sporting a sour and we suspect surgically enhanced face (she looks more nauseated than anything) gives her dramatic heft. And what about that gutsy move of showing a little frontal? Stop the presses--America's sweetheart bares her soul and her breasts! Unfortunately it all backfires. The usually perky Ryan can't dig deep enough to inhabit Frannie's miserable persona even though she's had practice (remember When a Man Loves a Woman and Courage Under Fire) and with In the Cut she comes off looking worse than ever literally and figuratively with a wrist-slitting performance that only proves comedies will forever be her forte (where's Sally when you need her?) As the skanky cop Ruffalo (You Can Count on Me) fares a bit better but still telling a woman all the things you want do to her in bed in a flat emotionless voice doesn't help his case as a sexually provocative leading man. If Ryan's Frannie was not so lifeless maybe she and Malloy could have sizzled but they never connect. The always-good Leigh would have made a much better Frannie. As disturbed Pauline she turns in the most interesting performance of the film.
Director Jane Campion (The Piano) admits she was going for a specific look and feel with In the Cut that of the emotionally charged '70s dramas and thrillers such as the classic 1971 erotic thriller Klute about an emotionally distant prostitute who helps a detective solve a string of murders. In the Cut tries to be Klute--sans Jane Fonda's Oscar-winning performance as the prostitute and Donald Sutherland's superb turn as the smitten detective. Campion's film lacks both stellar performances and the street grit that made those older films so powerful though she does give the film the same drab grimy look of a '70s indie film to match the mood of her main characters (and what fun that is). Plus the way she annoyingly films scenes out of focus makes you think you've got myopia--the periphery is constantly out of focus. Rather than being artsy all this does is trigger a headache.