The heat is picking up on Cinemax's action-thriller Strike Back. Still in its first season, Strike Back (starring Sullivan Stapleton, Philip Winchester and Eva Birthistle) follows a pair of secret agents through missions of international security, deriving storylines from current events, and takings its characters to places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
We've got an exclusive action-packed clip of the next episode, featuring guest stars that television fans will deem awesome: Game of Thrones' Iain Glen (who plays Ser Jorah Mormont) and LOST's Adewale Akinnuoye-Adbaje (who played the mysterious survivalistic Mr. Eko).
Catch the full episode on Cinemax, tonight at 10 p.m. ET.
This Friday, Cinemax will be premiering the network's first scripted original drama series, Strike Back. The action-thriller will follow a discharged American Special Forces operative played by Sullivan Stapleton (Animal Kingdom) and an elite British sergeant played by Philip Winchester (Fringe) on a ten-episode adrenal-storm against an international terrorist group. The series will extrapolate material from real world global events, provoking intrigue and controversy. Available below are videos including two trailers, and an introduction to the main characters. You can also watch the first six minutes of the series premiere here.
For the record, Winchester is straight-laced family man and dedicated agent Michael Stonebridge, who (in the honor of television tradition) is teamed with rowdy rogue soldier and perpetual bachelor Damien Scott, played by Stapleton. Differences aside, Stonebridge and Scott aim to prove themselves a capable team in the hunt and dismissal of international terrorist Latif, whose imminent plans involve the detonation of a WMD. The starring duo is joined by Eva Birthistle (Rembrandt's J'Accuse), Rhashan Stone (Bodies), Michelle Lukes (Alexander) and Amanda Mealing (Four Weddings and a Funeral).
Strike Back debuts this Friday, August 12, at 10 pm on Cinemax.
Strike Back Trailer
Meet Scott and Stonebridge
Roberts hospitalized for pregnancy
Julia Roberts, who is due to deliver twins sometime in January, was hospitalized in Los Angeles Saturday after experiencing some early contractions, Reuters reports. According to a report in People magazine, Roberts, 36, was accompanied by her husband Danny Moder to an undisclosed hospital and was hooked up to a fetal monitor. When the contractions eventually stopped, Roberts hosted an impromptu bedside baby shower the next day, People said. Roberts' condition was not serious but her doctors plan to keep her under observation for a few more days, advising the Oscar-winning actress to stay in bed until she gives birth, the magazine added.
Judge allows police video of Rip Torn at trial
A judge ruled a video showing actor Rip Torn cursing at police officers after his drunk driving arrest in New York last January can be shown to jurors at his trial, which is set to begin next week. The 45-minute police videotape, released to the public Tuesday and screened for Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Robert Stolz at a pretrial hearing last Thursday, shows Torn slurring his speech, swearing at police and at times, nodding off, Reuters reports. "Go to hell, you guys. I'm telling you, you guys are all going to jail," Torn bellows in an expletive-laced outburst, knocking down a chair while refusing to take a sobriety test at the police precinct. "Take these cuffs off me." Torn was taken into custody after the car he was driving crashed into the back of a taxi in Greenwich Village on Jan. 13. A police officer described Torn's appearance as "disheveled, his hair messy (and) his eyes glassy and red." The 73-year-old actor has pleaded innocent to driving under the influence of alcohol.
Stern criticizes FCC head
Shock jock Howard Stern made a surprise call in to San Francisco's 810 KGO-AM Tuesday during an interview with Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell, berating him for undermining free speech, Reuters reports. "I don't think that you personally hate me ... I think what you've been doing is dangerous to free speech. I think things have gotten way out of control," Stern said, referring to the FCC's proposed plan to fine stations a total of about $2.5 million for airing incidents on Stern's show. The fine includes the $495,000 penalty against Clear Channel Communications Inc. for an incident that led the company to drop him from six stations. Stern recently signed a multimillion-dollar deal to take his show in 2006 to Sirius Satellite Radio Inc., a subscription service to which decency rules do not apply.
Hilton, Ritchie give Simple Life a third shot
Rich girls Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie are packing up their bags for a third installment of the hit Fox show The Simple Life, Reuters reports. This time, the pair will tour major cities and take intern jobs, including a stint on Wall Street and in a classroom. Richie, daughter of singer Lionel Richie, told Reuters she is hoping the big-city tour will mean she won't ever have to put her arm inside a cow again. "I'm just over doing manual labor, we don't want to get dirty any more," she said. Meanwhile, Richie's best friend Hilton has been recently linked with Australian tennis star Mark Philippoussis, The Associated Press reports. Hilton's spokesperson told AP, "They are good friends who met through mutual friends" but wouldn't comment any further, while Sydney's Daily Telegraph cited sources saying the Wimbledon finalist had ended his 10-month relationship with pop singer Delta Goodrem earlier this month.
USA loves Rhames as Kojak
USA Network is planning to remake the 1970s CBS detective show Kojak with actor Ving Rhames (Dawn of the Dead) attached to star as the bald-headed, lollipop-lovin' cop made famous by the late Telly Savalas. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the cabler had initially envisioned doing a series of Kojak TV movies with Rhames because the actor's busy feature schedule would not allow him to commit to a regular series. But USA executives were so pleased with the first film, which wrapped production in August, that they were able to work out a schedule with Rhames to allow for the production of eight additional one-hour episodes, beginning January in Toronto.
Freddie Prinze Jr. follows in dad's footsteps
Big-screen star Freddie Prinze Jr. is moving to the small screen with a half-hour sitcom for ABC. According to Variety, the show will feature Prinze as a Puerto Rican man living in a household of women--something the 28-year-old actor said he has personally experienced. "When I was 14, my grandfather passed away, and I became man of the house, whether I wanted to be or not," he said. His father, Chico and the Man star Freddie Prinze, committed suicide in 1977, less than a year after his son was born. Prinze said he was initially thinking about tackling an hour-long drama until his wife, ex-Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Sarah Michelle Gellar, reminded him of how terrible the hours can be.
Stephen King names pet peeves of 2004
Author extraordinaire Stephen King has compiled his list of Pet Peeves of 2004, published in his Entertainment Weekly column, the AP reports. King's list, which appears in EW's Oct. 29 issue, rates his bugbears with "annoyance levels" ranging from minor headache to head-splitting migraine. Britney Spears, for example, rates a minor headache while ads before theatrical movies rate a head-splitting migraine. Real estate tycoon and The Apprentice star Donald Trump received a moderate to severe headache. "One can avoid the TV show, but lately the Donald's face is everywhere, and the hideous comb-over always floats above it," King writes. King notes that although pop culture is full of pleasures, it also has its share of annoyances: "For every pretty, talented Elisha Cuthbert there is a Paris Hilton (and her little dog, too)."
BIFA nominations announced
Nominations for the British Independent Film Awards, now in their seventh year, were announced yesterday, Reuters reports. Scarlett Johansson, who was nominated for her role in Girl With A Pearl Earring, is the highest profile name in the best actress category, which includes Anne Reid (The Mother), Eva Birthistle (Ae Fond Kiss), and Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake). Meanwhile, Geoffrey Rush (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers), Paddy Considine (Dead Man's Shoes), Phil Davis (Vera Drake), and Ian Hart (Blind Flight) will compete in the best actor category. Pics are in the running for Best British Independent Film include Vera Drake, Dead Man's Shoes, Touching the Void, Shaun of the Dead and My Summer of Love. Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 received a nod for Best Foreign Film.
Guylaine Cadorette contributed to this report.
Inspired by the autobiographical novel of the same title by Brendan Behan Borstal Boy tells the story of 16-year-old Brendan who after having been caught while trying to smuggle explosive material for the IRA from Dublin to England is sent to the Borstal institution in rural Britain. There under the lenient watch of Borstal director Joyce Brendan must deal with his challenging fellow inmates who include a sexually aggressive and bullying Brit a Scotsman a Polish Jew and the likeable Milwall a self-proclaimed "queer." Also engaging Brendan's attention is Liz the artist-daughter of Joyce who with the help of the inmates establishes a studio on the Borstal grounds. Various activities like football and the mounting of an ambitious production of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest engage the Borstal boys but they still want out. When Brendan masterminds an escape from the facility land minds on the nearby beach bring tragedy. The loss of lives pains Brendan but his emotions are passionately fired by Milwall who leaves Borstal for fateful Naval duty and by Liz who comforts Brendan when Milwall becomes another victim of the war.
Shawn Hatosy who ably manages an Irish brogue plus the occasional stutter given his character is convincing as the Irish republican Brendan though less so as the sexually ambiguous Brendan. Danny Dyer sparkles as outgoing Milwall whose colorful role as Brendan's gay best friend with thespian leanings mercifully falls short of cliche. Vet actor Michael York as Joyce has little to do but look authoritative and compassionate and Eva Birthistle as his daughter flits and flirts provocatively among the yearning boys of Borstal.
Director Peter Sheridan like award-winning brother Jim Sheridan has deep roots in theater but shows a sure hand in directing film. Sheridan delivers a very polished and disciplined production the kind of good but hardly exceptional work that deservedly floats from film festival to film festival eliciting approval from audiences and critics alike. But Sheridan's main gaffe here is to make the Borstal correctional facility seem like a cross between a British public school and a boys camp not exactly an environment from which anyone wants to escape. Apparently there are no course requirements but plenty of sports theater freedom to come and go and hardly any supervision or punishment. Even the commissary meal veggie included looks quite tasty. For the sake of credibility and drama Sheridan needed to fashion a more damning environment.