Jeremy Cowart via Big Machine Records
Actress and now country singer Laura Bell Bundy talks Anger Management, Hart of Dixie, growing up in Kentucky, being nominated for a Tony, and being the next big thing in country music. This multi-talented blonde is certainly a bombshell. She's just about to explode.
Congrats on joining the cast of Anger Management alongside Charlie Sheen. Tell us a bit about your character, Dr. Jordan Denby.
I am truly having a great time doing the show. Jordan is a high strung, recovering alcoholic, emotionally unstable hot mess, yet she cares about her work and is very conscientious trying desperately to keep it together. She and Charlie go at it a bit and push each other’s buttons. The dynamic is a lot of fun. There are always funny things happening on set...Feels like all I am doing is laughing.
You were the original Elle Woods in Legally Blonde: The Musical, which led to your Tony nomination. How did you feel when you found out you were nominated?
When I heard that I was nominated I thought for sure I was dreaming, then I thought I might be dead, or that I heard incorrectly. I was silent for about 30 seconds, and then I started jumping around and screaming all alone in my apartment. When people started calling congratulating me, I finally felt assured I was alive and what I heard was true.
You are no stranger to accolades. You were recently named part of CMT’S Next Women Of Country. What sets you apart from other country artists?
I believe that every artist must follow their heart and pay attention to what is the most satisfying creatively for them and notice when they feel most inspired. I feel most inspired when I am being original or creating music that is different, it must be bold or so honest that it might reveal too much, that's when you know you are going to connect. I don't gravitate toward the in between. I never have. It is too safe. Comfort is suicide as an artist. I think what sets me apart from other country artists right now is that I am exploring the world of beats meeting banjos.
Your character on Hart of Dixie is a lot of fun. Do you relate to her in any way? Will you continue your role on HOD as you move forward with Anger Management?
I have based Shelby on my mother so, yes, I do relate to her in the way I relate to my mother, who is a total hoot! She is a high energy, all synapses firing, sweet, driven, determined southern woman. When I play Shelby I often ask myself, "how would Lorna say this? What would mom do in this situation?" Although not as frequently, I am able to still make appearances in Bluebell this upcoming season.
"Two Step," your new single, has done very well. What do you think makes the song so popular?
People have been line dancing and two-stepping for generations. I think "Two Step" connects because it has a really strong sexy beat and makes you want to move, but also gives people an excuse to dance.
What’s next for you?
When I am not filming, I am making music and writing songs. I often do concerts around the country and some overseas. I'm putting out a brand new song Nov 5th called "Kentucky Dirty," the music video being released the following week. I also put out a new mix-tape with my buddy Huff D every month on my website and soundcloud that features popular tunes and my original material. Of course, I will keep doing Cooter County videos. That's my sketch comedy web series: www.cootercounty.com
Ron P. Jaffe/FOX
Once upon a time, in a very far-away land, there existed a place called the hangout, where friends gathered once a week to vent, good-naturedly bitch, and work out real-life problems (see love, death, paternity, and yes, even murder) over a beer, coffee or cup of soup at a table or booth that was always conveniently empty whenever they came in. Here are some of the best TV hangouts we wish were in our own neighborhood.
Saved by The Bell practically started the hip hangout. Kelly, Screech, Zach and Slater (and the other ones) met up after school at probably the most innocent of all hangouts, The Max. Come on, what high school student is allowed to spend that much time away from home?!
Beverly Hills 90210 (the original) began its days with the almost equally innocent Peach Pit, until Steve Sanders opened The Peach Pit After Dark (enter Tiffiani Amber Thesan). Many dramatic nights ensued in the nightclub: fighting, crying, spousal abuse, dancing, even od’ing. Then there was that time the Flaming Lips played there. That was weird.
Life doesn’t get much cooler than the basement of Ted’s apartment in How I Met Your Mother. He lives above MacLaren's, a bar where Lily, Marshall, Barney and Robin meet almost every day to...well, Barney goes there to get laid.
Living above a bar might be hip, but what about living in the bar? Revenge’s Stowaway Tavern does more than host a litany of dramatic scenes between the rich and poverty stricken; it also houses the sometimes object of Emily Throne's affection, the Revenge-hungry and grief stricken Jack Porter.
The Simpsons’ Moe’s Tavern, where television’s most loved and hated cartoons join to grab a beer. Though it's rumored to never have been cleaned, it’s curious that every beer glass is always crystal clear.
Before the days of cell phones, Seinfeld’s Jerry, Eileen, George or Kramer could always find solace in a friend at their booth at Monk’s Café, no matter how weird things got...and they got weird. Fun fact: the real New York City landmark that the show used as the outside establishing shot of Monk's was a diner called Tom's, the same place Suzanne Vega wrote her hit "Tom's Diner" in.
And probably the most famous of all...I’ll give you one guess. Cheers. It’s all too true, sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name.
Though Garry Marshall hasn’t made a decent flick since 1990’s Pretty Woman he still apparently wields a not inconsiderable amount of clout in Hollywood. What else could explain the all-star ensemble of actors who gathered for Valentine’s Day? Among the major names found probing the turgid depths of the nearly 80-year-old director’s insipid rom-com are Julia Roberts Anne Hathaway Ashton Kutcher Jessica Alba Jamie Foxx Jessica Biel Taylor Lautner and various other prominent actors who either owe favors to Marshall or whose incriminating photos he holds in his possession.
A slice-of-life tale unfolding in Los Angeles over the course of a single Valentine’s Day the film chronicles the romantic adventures of a diverse cast of characters at various stages of relationships and encompassing virtually every conceivable demographic category. Their ages backgrounds and perspectives often dramatically differ but they each share one trait in common: Almost without exception they are all ceaselessly painfully disastrously unfunny.
Some temper their dishumor with a dose of the annoying like Kutcher whose dopey florist Marshall unwisely chose to anchor Valentine’s Day’s story around. Others add a dash of the preposterous like Roberts dressed in military fatigues in a laughable attempt to play a U.S. Army Captain on leave from the front. Still others add cloying sentiment to the mix like Bryce Robinson’s lovelorn 10-year-old whose grandparents played by Shirley MacLaine and Hector Elizondo ply him with nostalgic romantic tips pre-fabricated for maximum inter-generational cuteness. Whatever your preferred method of cinematic torture may be you’ll undoubtedly encounter it in this film.
In addition to challenging the pain threshold Valentine’s Day offers a test of endurance as well its story requiring over two hours to satisfy the narrative demands of its swollen cast. If you didn’t despise Hallmark’s ersatz holiday before you certainly will after enduring this Bataan Death March of rom-coms.
As a legendary Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer Ben Randall (Kevin Costner) was all heart and no regret. But it all comes undone in the span of one night when he goes out to the menacing seas with his crew to make a rescue and he is the sole survivor. Following that fateful night he’s ordered to teach at “A” School--a demotion for a man of his stature and seniority--an elite training program that helps turn the best recruits into the best Rescue Swimmers. Randall teaches the cocky students the only way he knows how and his tough tough love is initially met with skepticism by his fellow trainers who think of him as a has-been. But one student in particular Jake Fischer (Ashton Kutcher) catches his eye and draws his ire. Fischer is cocky hotheaded and highly skilled--just the right pedigree to make a great Rescue Swimmer and a lot like Randall was at his age. Randall rides him extra-hard while Fischer only hopes to one day be in the same boat as his mentor. Be careful what you wish for Jake! Costner's always been an acquired taste--sometimes a downright noxious one on first bite--but there's no denying he slides right in here. Roles that feature him as the aging provider of wisdom are now his true calling and the sooner he accepts it the better. And even still Costner gets to flex his action muscle a bit. As for Kutcher the only thing he shares in common with Costner is the last two letters of his last name--as actors these guys are each other’s antitheses! And in a weird way they strike a nice chemistry because of it one that is borderline exciting to watch. As a standalone actor in The Guardian Kutcher is a bit misplaced and seems to know it. He nails the physicality of the role but while the character's attitude and brashness befit Kutcher the peak dramatic scenes with Costner leave something to be desired. A pleasantly surprising turn from relative unknown Melissa Sagemiller (The Clearing) as Kutcher's girl toy and reliable supporting performances from Sela Ward and Neal McDonough round out the cast. Director Andrew Davis' proximity to his career peak The Fugitive cannot be measured in time: He's a lot further away from the mega-hit than a mere 13 years. But in Hollywood if you have a Fugitive under your belt you'll never run out of chances to replicate it. That's the current juncture for Davis--one last shot at Fugitive glory...till his next last shot. It's hard to say what The Guardian will do at the box office but Davis' stodgy direction doesn't necessarily help its chances. The movie can be boiled down to awful pacing: the first and last 15 minutes are high-octane action and everything in between is low-octane Top Gun (the non-action scenes!). That blame belongs to Davis and writer Ron L. Brinkerhoff. But only Davis can shoulder the other flaws such as a single scene of dubious camerawork--filmed to look like handheld-montage style completely deviating from the movie's context--and the special effects during the somewhat cheesy action sequences which may remind you of a theme-park tour during which you learn how they filmed a boat scene...in the '80s!
Set in 1984 Josey Aimes (Charlize Theron) returns to her ice-cold hometown in Northern Minnesota after fleeing from an abusive husband. In order to care for her two young kids she needs a job--and for most of the townsfolk including her distant dad (Richard Jenkins) that means working in the local iron mines. Problem is not too many women work there and those who do are subjected to continual harassment by their male coworkers. Josey lands a job anyway and starts to get her fair share of sexual innuendos. One day her former high-school sweetheart also a mine employee takes it way too far with her. Although met with strong resistance of course a lawsuit ensues that results in a groundbreaking decision for women’s rights in the workplace. Ah what an Oscar can do for a career. It wasn't that long ago Theron wouldn’t even have been considered for such a dramatic role. But with deserved recognition she gets to strut her stuff in North Country. She's no Monster but she's no supermodel either--and while it's impossible to erase her beauty its glare has been reduced. A second-consecutive Oscar win? Maybe not but a nomination wouldn't be out of the place. Co-star Frances McDormand might also be in line for a nod of her own. She plays Glory a woman who gets Josey the job and encourages her to fight the good fight something that seems visceral for McDormand. Woody Harrelson is also solid as Josey's attorney though his Midwest-stoner drawl gets in the way of the northern accent he's supposed to be selling. New Zealand director Niki Caro mightily impressed us with Whale Rider a poignant mixture of grief and vigor and with North Country she continues to impress. As more an observer than anything else Caro lets the true story tell itself--of what happened in this small town with its frigid denizens and sexist behavior. And the film is definitely a period piece á la Norma Rae in that it's from a specific period albeit a recent one and pertains to a specific region. But it's kind of slow going. There’s a lot of weeping and dramatic speeches. Still Caro makes up for it by including several Bob Dylan songs who rarely grants the use of his songs in films. Perhaps he felt a certain a kinship to this film since it takes place in the desolate cold Northern Minnesota where he comes from--and so resents.
In the late 19th century Dr. Gabriel Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) a misunderstood monster hunter is summoned to Transylvania to ferret out Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh) and kill him once and for all. When Van Helsing gets to the small village where the vampire was last spotted he discovers he also must contend with Dracula's three seriously twisted vampire brides Dracula's angry henchman/werewolf--and a lovely gypsy princess named Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale) who is hell-bent on eradicating Dracula and his bloodsucking kind for slaughtering her entire family. Oh and let's not forget Frankenstein's Monster (Shuler Hensley) who holds the key to Dracula's evil master plan--something about releasing his minions of unborn bat-like children from their goo-filled cocoons so they can wreck havoc on the world. Yuck. Sounds like our resident monster stomper and his sword-swinging gal pal have their work cut out for them. If Van Helsing does manage to kill all his monster foes does that mean he's out of a job?
Jackman has the whole antihero thing down pat. He adequately embodies the younger more virile Van Helsing dishing out as much pain and torture as he can on the undead--but the Aussie actor isn't given nearly as much meat to chew on as he did say delving into the complicated Wolverine in X-Men. Instead the monster hunter is relegated to carrying big weapons wearing a big hat and muttering something about having bad dreams to a past he can't remember. Same goes for Beckinsale. The British actress was oh-so-cool on the other side of the fence playing the chic vampire Selene in Underworld cutting her way through a myriad of werewolves. As Van Helsing's heavily accented female counterpart Anna however she just runs around with her sword blurting out such pathetic dialogue such as "Dracula took everything away from me and now I'm alone in the world" while Roxburgh's Dracula--who can't hold a candle to other far more charismatic Draculas before him--wails about being so very alone as his luscious brides hang upside down in front of him. Give me a break. At least Australian actor David Wenham (The Lord of the Rings) provides much-needed comic relief as Van Helsing's sidekick Carl a Catholic friar who doesn't much like playing hero.
With the requisite dark mood and tone action sequences and snazzy CGI-creations including the winged vampire brides and formidable werewolves you can see exactly where writer/director Stephen Sommers (The Mummy) spent Van Helsing's nearly $150 million budget. But even all the bells and whistles can't tie together the film's vacuous nonsensical mumbo jumbo as Sommers attempts to bring classic movie monsters together in the same movie. Maybe in a tongue-in-cheek Abbott and Costello movie it could work but as a serious action-packed thriller clearly Dracula Frankenstein and the Wolf Man do not need to meet. On top of that Sommers steals from other movies as well such as recent films Underworld (the whole vampire vs. werewolf conflict) and The League of Extraordinary Gentleman (Van Helsing defeats a rather familiar-looking Mr. Hyde at one point). Whatever originality there is in the film leaves you either scratching your head--Dracula has kids?--or rolling your eyes--Anna needs to kill Dracula so her nine-generations of family can reunite in Heaven? Please.