Breaking Bad has a number of great villains swirling around the Albuquerque desert, but few were as entertaining as the tea-sipping Lydia. She is pure evil in a grey pantsuit, and would easily have her enemies dispatched while taking in a soothing slurp of herbal tea (sweetened with Stevia of course). Now, the actress behind the character, Laura Fraser, has joined ABC’s upcoming series The Black Box, TV Line reports.
We're excited to see an actor as talented as Fraser continue to find work in this post-Breaking Bad world we now inhabit, but we're also hoping, in the irrational parts of our brains, that she might make some kind of appearance in the upcoming Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul. Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan said he would like to have Breaking Bad stars make cameos in the new show so lets keep hope alive. Let's also push down nagging questions like "Does that make sense chronologically?" deep into our guts where they can't interfere with our reckless TV wishes.
The Black Box is a limited series that focuses on Elizabeth Black (Kelly Reilly), a gifted Neuroscientist who struggles with mental illness. We’re hoping that Fraser brings her own version of 100 percent naturally sweetened evil to ABC's upcoming drama.
Helfer Lands Killer Role: Former Battlestar Galactica badass Tricia Helfer has landed the lead in Killer Women, ABC’s drama pilot about the only female in the male-dominated Texas Ranger Division. Based on the Argentine series Mujeres Asesinas, the project — which counts Modern Family‘s Sofia Vergara among its producers — finds Helfer playing Molly Parker, a beautiful and ballsy Ranger who knows how to get the truth and isn’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers on her way there. [TVLine]
Welcome to Nashville, B*tch: Chris Carmack is joining ABC’s country-music drama Nashville for the last six episodes of its first season. The O.C. grad will recur as Will, a new neighbor who befriends Scarlett and her new roommate Gunnar. [TVLine]
The Job Fired After Two Episodes: CBS pulled The Job from its schedule after just two episodes. The competition show about people vying for employment struggled in ratings and Undercover Boss will return to the 8 p.m. Friday time slot this week. [THR]
Doctor Who Origin Movie Casting: Reece Shearsmith has been cast as actor Patrick Troughton in the TV movie An Adventure in Space and Time, which details the creation of Doctor Who. Troughton was the second actor to play the Time Lord in the long-running time travel show, taking over the role from William Hartnell in 1966. [EW]
From Zombies to Rapists: The Walking Dead's Lauren Cohan has just been cast in a Law & Order: SVU episode centered around the legitimate rape controversy created by Senate nominee Todd Akin, R-Miss. during the 2012 election. Cohan will play Avery Jordan, a popular sports reporter who accuses her cameraman of raping her. When she learns she's pregnant from the encounter, she opts to keep the baby. The role of the cameraman has yet to be cast and the episode will air in late March. [THR]
O'Hara Joins Comedy Pilot: Catherine O'Hara has joined Fox's single-camera comedy pilot To My Future Assistant. Based on the blog and upcoming book To My Assistant by Lydia Whitlock, To My Future Assistant revolves around the assistants at a big New York law firm who band together as a family to help each other cope with the obnoxious overbearing bosses who test their sanity on a daily basis. O’Hara will play Magda, an accomplished, stylish and powerful lawyer, the kind of woman who pretends to be your friend — but isn’t. [Deadline]
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Writer/director John Patrick Shanley (Moonstruck) adapts his Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning play Doubt for the big screen keeping all the themes that made the original work such a hit on stage. Set in 1964 the film version opens up much of the talky proceedings and sets the action in a wind-swept Brooklyn Catholic school where Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is trying to shake up the status quo and introduce a little more free thinking. These actions cause instant friction with the stern Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) who immediately butts heads with Flynn. Significant change already is taking place as the school has admitted its first black student Donald Miller (Joseph Foster). When mild-mannered Sister James (Amy Adams) suggests that perhaps Father Flynn is spending too much personal time with Donald it sets Sister Aloysius off on an ill-considered crusade to get rid of Flynn triggering a battle of morals will and yes doubt in the minds of both the characters and the audience. Rather than casting some of his Tony-winning actors from the play Shanley decided he wanted a blank slate bringing in a new interpretation to the material. Obvious choice for the taciturn Sister Aloysius is Meryl Streep who using a slight Brooklyn accent convincingly tears into the role that won acclaimed actress Cherry Jones a Tony. Streep plays it broadly and the onscreen fireworks between her and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Flynn are indeed spectacular. Acting just doesn’t get much better than this particularly for Hoffman who is amazing as the charismatic priest walking the thin line between personal conviction and guilt. Adams doesn’t really get the big scenes but portrays Sister James’ hopeful innocence and naiveté with just the right amount of sugar -- not too sweet not too dark. Top honors in the cast go to Viola Davis as Donald Miller’s mother. Taking what is essentially a 10 minute role Davis will tear your heart out as she desperately pleads with Streep to let Donald stay in school. John Patrick Shanley clearly has a personal stake in this material and returns to directing for the first time since his ill-fated Joe vs. the Volcano in the early ‘90s. He seems much more at home with this more intimate piece casting it smartly and using the weather --including the use of a haunting rustling wind -- as a key part of the background ambience. Doubt is exactly the kind of traditional Broadway adaptation Hollywood used to do so well particularly in the ‘50s and ‘60s and Shanley smartly doesn’t try to muck it up with any flashy filmmaking tricks. He lets his quartet of superior actors do most of the work turning Doubt into one of the best stage adaptations in many many years.
From the creators of the TNT miniseries Gettysburg including executive producer Ted Turner and writer/director Ronald F. Maxwell Gods chronicles the Civil War from its beginnings when the South rises up. Confederate General Robert E. Lee (Robert Duvall) a distinguished military man but also a loyal native Virginian chooses to fight for his home rather than his country while Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson (Stephen Lang) a devoutly religious man becomes Lee's most trusted lieutenant. On the other side we have Colonel Joshua Chamberlain (Jeff Daniels) a professor from Maine who ends up one of the Union's finest military leaders. In between there are glimpses of the wives and families left behind. Stories of this magnitude with their dramatic bloody battles and tragic endings usually leave you numb or crying for those lives lost and destroyed. Instead Gods and Generals holds no resonance whatsoever meticulously plotting out the details and making this decisive moment in American history interminable at three and a half hours. It's like wading through a textbook--or worse watching Civil War fanatics carefully reenact the famous battle scenes on the very ground they were fought over and over again--while the players stand around quoting long-winded verse from the Bible or Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Blech.
The actors in Gods and Generals must have honestly thought they were making something important when they signed up. Main players Lang (who played Major Gen. George Pickett in Gettysburg) and Daniels (who reprises his Gettysburg role as Chamberlain) have their moments but after hearing them recite one speech after another especially Lang's Jackson who says more prayers to God than anything else you start to wonder if they ever realized they made a mistake. (Or have we for sitting through it?) One of the more superfluous scenes is when Jackson and his black cook Jim played by Frankie Faison are standing outside in the freezing cold night for about 15 minutes both looking up at the stars and praying to God. It seems like the actors are trying to make such sermonizing poignant meaningful but all this pontification simply drags the movie further down. These speeches aren't just Lang's and Daniels' territory--Mira Sorvino as Chamberlain's wife and Kali Rocha as Jackson's wife get their own personal moments in the sun too. If you count the cast of thousands each with their own things to say well you get the point. Thankfully Duvall who is the only good thing about the movie gets to keep the talking to a minimum.
If you want to see a Civil War melodrama at its best where watching the heroes race through a sacked city makes you hold your breath and witnessing horrific hospital scenes makes you squirm then watch Gone With the Wind. If you want gut-wrenching Civil War battles or more understanding of how slaves truly felt then watch Glory. If you want a heartening history lesson about the Civil War that not only teaches you about the era's political machinations but also shares the insights and thoughts of the men and women who experienced it then watch Ken Burns' documentary series The Civil War. Gods and Generals offers none of that in its dry textbook version of the Civil War which uses the same shots are used over and over again (how many times does the camera pan up to the night sky or show the panoramic view of Fredericksburg Virginia? I lost count) features more actors waxing prophetic than real drama and actually makes you yawn during what should be intense battle scenes.