Hilary Duff is About to Get Played: And by Ashton Kutcher, no less! Duff will head to Two and a Half Men for the show's tenth season finale, where she'll play Stacey — a hottie who is dating Kutcher's character, Walden. Taxi‘s Marilu Henner will also guest as her grandmother, and if you've studied Walden's romantic history (or Kutcher's real life romantic history) it may not surprise you that Walden's eyes will start to wander... [TVLine]
Lorne Michaels Keeps it in the SNL Family: Current Saturday Night Live funnylady Nasim Pedrad is set to star alongside writer/creator John Mulaney in the SNL writer's upcoming NBC comedy pilot. Based loosely upon his own life, the pilot has cast Pedrad as Jane, a sweet but lazy grade school teacher looking to make changes in her life. The multi-camera comedy has also tapped (you guessed it!) yet another SNL alum, Martin Short, to star as well. Lorne Michaels, you really do run the funny business, don't you? [Hollywood Reporter]
Fringe Favorite Moves On: Lance Reddick, who played the beloved Broyles on Fringe and Cedric Daniels on The Wire, will try his luck in comedy with a guest stint on FX's quirky hit Wilfred. Reddick will guest star as Dr. Blum, Elijah Wood's character's "calm, no-nonsense therapist." The episode is slated to appear during the latter half of the show's third season. [Hollywood Reporter]
FX is Taking Over the World: FX already has a gaggle of critically acclaimed hits on its roster (Justified, American Horror Story, The Americans, and Sons of Anarchy, to name a few...), and now it's taking a journey to the distant past with Conquistadors, an event series based on Kim MacQuarrie's book Last Days of the Incas. The series will focus on both the Spanish Conquistadors who conquered the 10-million-strong Incan Empire, and rebellious Incan rebels who tried their best to save their people. [Hollywood Reporter]
The Walking Dead is Team Stark: No, unfortunately they don't get to watch Game of Thrones in the depressing post-apocalpytic wasteland on TWD. But it was confirmed that, for Season 4, the show has put out a casting call for a character named Roy Stark, "a former army medic who is deeply haunted by his past." Stark is going to be in his early 30s to mid 40s, leading many to speculate that he'll be the show's version of Abraham — who, in the comics, was an army sergeant of a similar age. [TVLine]
Twisted Role for Gilmore Girl: ABC Family's newest mystery series Twisted has just added Gilmore Girl's Keiko Agena as a guest star. Twisted centers on a charismatic 16-year-old (Avan Jogia) with a troubled past who spends five years in juvenile detention and then reconnects with his two female best friends from childhood (Maddie Hasson and Kylie Bunbury). Agena will play April Tanaka, a bohemian grief specialist who heads up a counseling session for the students at Green Grove High. Brittany Curran also joined the cast as Phoebe, an overly dramatic classmate who enjoys the limelight and tries to bond with Bunbury’s Lacey. Both characters will make their debut in Episode 2. [TVLine]
Degrassi to Lose a Student: Alex Steele will not be returning to TeenNick's drama Degrassi for the show's 13th season. "I'm very proud of my time on Degrassi and feel very lucky to have worked with such an amazing cast and crew," Steele - who plays fan-favorite Tori - said in a statement. "I've decided to take on a new focus pursuing film. I have a few opportunities already in the works and am excited to get started!" No word yet on how her character's exit will play out. [E!]
Austin and Ally Will Keep Singing: Disney Channel has renewed the musical show Austin and Ally for a third season. The upcoming slate of episodes “promises excitement for ‘Auslly’ fans as Austin’s music career kicks into full gear and Ally’s begins to take flight,” Adam Bonnett, senior vice president, original programming, Disney Channels Worldwide said in a statement. "This ensemble cast — Ross Lynch, Laura Marano, Raini Rodriguez and Calum Worthy — has incredible comedic chemistry and charm that continues to win audiences over." [TVLine]
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A comedy featuring Steve Martin Jack Black and Owen Wilson creates certain expectations not the least of which is well laughter. But David Frankel’s (Marley & Me The Devil Wears Prada) anodyne feather-light film The Big Year in which the three actors star is less concerned with eliciting big laughs than offering earnest insights on the meaning of success and the value of friendship.
Delving into the subculture of hard-core birders (don’t call them bird-watchers) the film follows three men semi-retired industrialist Stu (Martin) schlubby corporate drone Brad (Black) and suburban contractor Kenny (Wilson) as they vie in a year-long competition known as the Big Year. The goal of the competition is simple: to spot as many different bird species in North America as possible. As current Big Year record-holder Kenny is something of a rock star in the birding world. His cocky carefree manner masks a stark determination to defend his hard-won celebrity – and his fragile ego – against the likes of upstarts Stu and Brad both of whom are Big Year rookies. None of the three leads stray far from type but they do offer slight tweaks to their usual screen personas: Wilson is sly and Machiavellian; Black tones down the buffoonery limiting himself to two (by my rough count) pratfalls; Martin’s sardonicism is tempered with humility.
There’s no prize for winning a Big Year; the sole reward is the adulation of fellow members of the birding community. Competition is surprisingly fierce. The three men frantically criss-cross the continent darting from one remote location to another in search of the next rare find. At first wary of each other Stu and Brad eventually unite over a mutual desire to defeat Kenny whose crafty gamesmanship has frustrated them both. Their strategic pact gradually evolves into a genuine friendship leading both men to discover that there are more important things in life than winning an amateur birding competition.
Shot on location in British Columbia the Canadian Yukon Upstate New York Joshua Tree and the Florida Everglades The Big Year is a visually striking film showcasing one breathtaking panorama after another. At times director Frankel appears more interested in the scenery than his characters who despite the script's copious exposition aren't particularly well-developed. The story at times seem aimless and unfocused and its relaxed pace may prove vexing for some. Indeed it did for me at first. But once I adjusted to its easygoing rhythm the film’s modest charms began to reveal themselves.
Scooby and the gang at Mystery Inc.--Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.) Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar) Velma (Linda Cardellini) and Shaggy (Matthew Lillard)--are at the top of their game and just about everyone in Coolsville loves them. Even the Coolsonian Museum is honoring them with an exhibit--a costumed display of Mystery Inc.'s former foes such as The Pterodactyl Ghost The Black Knight Ghost and The 10 000 Volt Ghost. Yet at the museum's gala opening the team's stellar reputation is put in serious jeopardy when said monsters come alive re-created by a masked villain who vows to bring Mystery Inc. down. Under pressure from relentless reporter Heather Jasper-Howe (Alicia Silverstone) the gang launches an investigation into the monster outbreak but as the mystery deepens Mystery Inc.'s members end up questioning their roles within the organization. Can macho leader Fred and image-conscious Daphne look past the superficial and find the identity of the Evil Masked Figure? Will brainy Velma let her feelings for Coolsonian Museum curator Patrick Wisely (Seth Green) blossom even though he is a key suspect? And finally can Shaggy and Scooby stop cowering--and eating--long enough to prove they can be detectives? These are tough times for the gang but they've got to pull it together so they can solve the mystery and save the day.
Even though it seems a little ridiculous that Scooby-Doo 2's fleshed-out cartoon characters would try to dig deep to find answers within the returning actors continue to have fun exploring their alter-Scooby-egos. Prinze's Fred has a hipper haircut this time (the original matted blond 'do had to go) and isn't quite the braggart he once was. He is still unquestionably the "face" of the group until he is made to look foolish by the ruthless Heather played with relish by Silverstone who shines in the bad-girl role. Gellar has definitely dropped Daphne's "damsel-in-distress" routine getting all Buffy on the monsters but is still worried that its her looks not her skills that get her attention. Cardellini's Velma on the other hand gets a love interest--and even all dolled up at one point--but can't get rid of her inherent geekiness. It's Shaggy and Scooby who experience the biggest revelation realizing they really are nothing but giant screw-ups. Lillard actually turns in some (and I can't believe I'm actually saying this) poignant moments as Shag grapples with his inequities. They all realize in the end though that for the good of Mystery Inc. it's best to be true to yourself. Thank god.
Director Raja Gosnell goes full throttle in his second Scooby effort with more action and more elaborate theme-parky sets than the original. Even as the characters pause to reflect on their faults these moments are thankfully short-lived before the gang is thrust into another wild chase or fight sequence keeping the kiddies' minds occupied--and allowing the adult fans to laugh at all the monsters they remember from the TV show. One of the criticisms from the first Scooby-Doo was that it didn't provide enough "inside" jokes for the grown-up enthusiasts (and face it there are probably more of them than kids). But Scooby-Doo 2 harkens back to the good old days and even pokes fun at all those criminals whose evil plans and ghost disguises were foiled by the meddlesome quintet. They all gather at their own watering hole called the Faux Ghost where they can throw darts at pictures of the Mystery Inc. gang. Funny stuff. Overall the sequel provides the same madcap fun the original did without requiring the use of too much brainpower.