Every town has its star news anchor. For New York City, it's Pat Kiernan.
After climbing the ranks in the broadcast news world, Kiernan landed at New York's NY1 where he turned morning news into must-see television. His presence and popularity saw him plucked from his tri-state area role for national ventures, including VH1's cult favorite trivia show The World Series of Pop Culture. Hollywood has taken notice of the Kiernan charm: when a blockbuster movie needs a convincing talking head to deliver shocking/absurd/warm and cuddly news, they turn to the NYC staple. With both The Avengers and this past weekend's Iron Man 3 under his belt, Kiernan is basically a superhero in his own right.
"I made a decision years ago that I'm not interested in chasing generic 'Reporter #2' roles," Kiernan says of his acting career. "I'll play Pat Kiernan as himself if that fits into your movie. If your movie is set elsewhere and you're looking for a reporter, you'll have to find somebody else. It eliminates the need for auditions. The audition is on TV every morning."
When a movie like Iron Man 3 wants Kiernan to film a news segment, the production is first vetted through the NY1 team. Is it a movie that New York 1 would have any embarrassment from being involved in? Is the NY1 character behaving in a way that he might if the circumstances were real? When the channel gives approval to the production's request, the notes are passed on to Kiernan, who takes on the role of script doctor before reciting his lines on screen.
"Generally they write a script and typically I rewrite it," Kiernan says. "Unless I find what they wrote to be implausibly bad, I'll typically read theirs and give them an alternate version. If you agree with my version after seeing it, please use that one in the movie. If you don't, I'll consent to the version you wrote. We'll give an alternative version I've tinkered with. How I would say it in my voice. How NY1 would say it."
The case of Iron Man 3 was pretty straightforward: receive the script, make a few minor changes, record the segment with the regular NY1 crew, then send off the tape to the folks at Marvel. There have been times that required more from Kiernan.
"The late Sydney Pollack and I sat down for 20 minutes and hashed out my lines for The Interpreter," he says. "He came in with a yellow lined pad with lines scribbled on it and said, 'These are the lines I need to get across.' And the two of us sat down and worked through the script. 'Here's how I would say that.' It was an amusing moment because he and I were sitting on his couch and his staff was kind of lurking. Afterward, when he left, they said, 'Usually what happens around here is when Mr. Pollock says, 'Here's how I want to do it,' everyone says, 'Yes, Mr. Pollock.' Not, 'Here's what I suggest.' He obviously respects your opinion.' They were a little taken aback when I suggested we rewrite the script."
Kiernan isn't a trained actor, but he does believe reading the news for a movie requires "acting." Whether he's telling the folks of New York that authorities have discovered dinosaur tracks on Central Park West for Night at the Museum or announcing that the world is coming to an end for 4:44 Last Day on Earth, the quick bursts of news footage we see in bombastic action movies require a delicate touch.
"You kind of have to pull whatever acting skills you have to put yourself in the moment. Trying to have the right combination of intensity and energy and sorrow and excitement and whatever else you need." Kiernan relies on the same Strasbergian acting techniques when it comes to the actual news. "What I do every day is a performance. It's not impossible for me to get to the space that I need to get to for these movies."
Kiernan's career outside of NY1 shows no sign of slowing down. On the movie side, he'll next be seen in the Liam Neeson thriller Non-Stop in a two-way interview scene that involved working with director Jaume Collet-Serra. And while World Series of Pop Culture won't be returning anytime soon (Kiernan says VH1's wave of reality television drowned the popular trivia show back in the day and there are no plans to resurrect it) he does have a new game show primed and ready for consumption. On May 14, Kiernan will headline CNBC's Crowd Rules, which features three small businesses competing in front of an audience of 100 that votes to decide who wins a much-needed $50,000 prize. Kiernan is the resident interrogator — a challenging performance he's ready to tackle.
As long as they'll have him, Kiernan is up to the task of lending his news skills to comic book movies, game shows, and everything in between. After years of sending in tapes of fake segments, he's never had one sent back. "I think NY1 is an identifiable New York City brand. So when we're willing to play ball with productions, they see that as adding authenticity to the film. We've got a pretty good track record of convincingly doing whatever they ask for."
Kiernan can currently be seen on the big screen in Iron Man 3. His show Crowd Rules premieres May 14 at 9pm and you can see him deliver real news each morning on NY1.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
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Warning: This post contains minor spoilers from Iron Man 3.
Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce, blah, blah, blah, who cares, right?
We get it, Iron Man 3, you've got an impressive starring lineup. You've got blockbuster heroes, Oscar-winning thespians, and critical powerhouses alike. But what about your second... er, third tier of bit players? The Marvel threequel might be front-loaded with glory, but the real fun comes from the handful of its supporting characters. More than a few of these one-scene wonders — these mighty set-fillers and exposition deliverers — will conjure a passionate, "Hey, it's that guy!" from eagle-eyed audience members. You'll instantly recognize a couple of noteworthy faces from film and television past making up Iron Man 3's backdrop. Here are a few faces bound to incite some fan boy glee during Tony Stark's latest turn...
Hey, it's Rosenfield from Twin Peaks!The stakes are high in Iron Man 3 — in fact, they go all the way to D.C.. But you might recognize the Marvel movie's Vice President Rodriguez from our country's other Washington: early in the actor's career, he immortalized the caustic and impatient, however expertly competent FBI forensic analyst Albert Rosenfield.
Hey, it's Max from Happy Endings!The ABC sitcom's slovenly, selfish breakout character Max Blum would be as out of place as possible in a superhero movie... but this doesn't seem to have stopped actor Adam Pally from landing a part as tech professional Gary, a Tony Stark aficionado whose gushing nearly gets in the way of a rescue mission. Not a huge leap from Max by any means, and a funny one to boot, but at least this incarnation of Pally seems to have earned steady job.
Hey, it's Bill Maher, and Joan Rivers, Thomas Roberts, and Pat Kiernan!By now, you should be accustomed to the whole media reel trope in superhero movies like Iron Man 3. This time around, we get a few jabs about Stark and the villainous The Mandarin from pundits and talk show hosts like Maher, Rivers, Roberts, and a few more. And if you're a New York local, there's an extra bonus: Pat Kiernan of NY1!
Hey, it's that lady from Winter's Bone!Or, if this is more your tastes, Martha from True Blood (or Patty from My Name Is earl, for that matter). The omnipresent actress Dale Dickey shows up in the latest Marvel endeavor as an important plot point in Tony Stark's investigation of The Mandarin's nefarious ploy...
Hey, it's Charlotte from Lost!This one is only for those vehemently opposed to blinking. Lost fans will recall, in the series' weakest chapter, English actress Rebecca Mader portray cultural anthropologist (with a penchant for time jump-induced nosebleeds) Charlotte Lewis. Although she might have overstayed her welcome on the island drama, Mader only has a split second of screen time in Iron Man 3, appearing as a brutal baddie hoping to take down Don Cheadle.
Hey, it's Stan Lee... obviously.Yeah, he's got a cameo in this one, too... we won't give it away, but it's a scene that'll inspire a smirk for sure.
Let us know if you spot anyone we missed!
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter
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For everything 30 Rock does so very right (Liz Lemon's endlessly re-quotable quips) there is something they haven't quite nailed down in their six magnificently off-the-wall seasons on the air: Season finales. Much like the disappointing "Kidney Now!" Season 3 finale, last night's Season 6 ender "What Will Happen to the Gang Next Year?” wasn't everything the show is capable of (especially after having such a stellar season) but that's not to say it's not a total relief they'll back for 13 more episodes for a final Season 7.
Especially now that it seems like Liz's perfect match Criss (sorry, Wesley Snipes) is in it for the long haul. Not only did James Marsden's dreamy character, what with his beautiful lady face and his James Van Der Beek appreciation that doesn't include Dawson's Creek, sell his hot dog van to have extra money for their plant –– er, baby –– but he finally got Liz to stop worrying and not bail on something great. Criss calls Liz out on her s**t, supports her endlessly, and laughs at her stupid jokes. Isn't that what we all want from someone at the end of the day?
Of course, not all seemingly perfect couples have happy endings. Avery's return from North Korea was supposed to be a joyous thing for Jack, but their rampant jealousy and mistrust (Jack kissed her mother, Avery had a secret code affair with co-host-age Scott Scottsman) turned their planned vow renewal into a surprise divorce ceremony. While Kim Jung Il, I mean, uh, just a regular waiter who is definitely not Kim Jung Il, pleaded for 30 Rock writers to pull a Friends or Moonlighting and get Jack and Liz together, I hope this show never breaks with its unconventional convention. Besides, Criss is the right guy for Liz and Julianne Moore's Bahston babe Nancy is meant to balance out Jack.
If the idea of Jack and Liz making a go of it makes you shudder, too, than I can imagine you had an equally averse reaction to watching Kenneth and a homeless Hazel (Kristen Schaal) shack up as roommates and engage in the most uncomfortable televised kiss since this. Thankfully, that wasn't the only side plot during last night's hit-or-miss finale, there was also the gloriously funny story line about Tracy being named Man of the Year by the Aryan Patriot Party thanks to his behavior. Despite the best efforts of Grizz, Dot Com, and Dr. Cornel West (as himself, but mistaken for Questlove by Tracy) to give Tracy a positive black role model, after an epiphany (okay, seeing his reflection in Rosa Parks' dress at a museum) he opts to go the Tyler Perry route instead. I don't wanna wait for 30 Rock's life to be over. I'm in denial that it ever will.
Here are the other best lines and moments from last night's 30 Rock Season 6 finale:
- Pat Kiernan cameo!
- "Brother" Jason Segel
- Liz's refusal to say the phrase "man cave"
- Liz's montage with her plant baby (Planty!) set to a Randy Newman-like tune about plants
- "Skinny arm havers!"- Liz, to Avery and her mother, followed by a stop, drop, and roll to get out of an awkward encounter
- "Hey, I don't bail! I'm still watching Smash!"- Liz, to Criss
- "Have fun always carrying a light sweater!" - Jenna, to Hazel after she warns her she'll have to move to the Bay Area
- " I get your Yankees tickets on A-Rod bobble head day. And I’m going to throw that thing in front of a train. Go Phillies!”- Liz, showing her hometown pride to Jack
- "Check out Kim Jung Un's pants! Where's the flood?" - Avery, to Scott
- "You know what kind of women in their 40s have never been married, Liz? Uggos, crazies, and bailers. You’re not an uggo. And you’re Haha Crazy, not Oh Boy crazy, which means you bail!" - Criss, to Liz
- "Maggie Smith is a treasure!” - Avery
- "Darth Vader. Ninjas. Some black licorice I tried to make into the shape of my dad.”- Tracy, on his black role models
- "For instance, in Pixar’s upcoming movie about trash, I’m doing the voice of a lazy bottle of grape-flavored soda named Funky Bobo." - Tracy
- "There will never be a president Ashton, or a Dr. Katniss, or a non-sexually confused Lorne.” - Jack
So where does that leave us for the shortened upcoming Season 7? Hopefully with Criss and Liz having a baby, Jack finally getting to run Kabletown, Hazel moving out of New York City for good, Jenna marrying Paul, Tracy dethroning Tyler Perry, and Lutz ... never mind, Lutz is the worst. What are you hoping to see for next season? Did you find the Season 6 finale surprisingly lackluster, too? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Photo credit: NBC]
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Told from the perspective of one innocent maid Mary Macearchran (Kelly MacDonald) the story starts as she arrives at the magnificent country estate of Gosford Park. On this particular weekend host Sir William McCordle (Michael Gambon) and his wife Lady Sylvia (Kristin Scott Thomas) have invited an eclectic group to the house for a shooting party. The guests include Sylvia's two sisters (Geraldine Somerville Natasha Wightman) their respective loser husbands (Charles Dance Tom Hollander) her cantankerous aunt Constance (Maggie Smith) for whom Mary works British matinee idol Ivor Novello (Jeremy Northam) and his American friend Morris Weisman (Bob Balaban) a film producer who makes Charlie Chan movies. As the upper-crust guests bicker about money and power the ranks of house servants personal maids and valets below make sure their charges are well taken care of under the guidance of the head butler Jennings (Alan Bates) head housekeeper Mrs. Wilson (Helen Mirren) and head cook Mrs. Croft (Eileen Atkins). Through Mary's eyes we see that the glamour of the upstairs patrons and the seeming precision downstairs are not all they seem. The two worlds are destined to collide and when they do it leads to only one thing--murder.
One of the joys of an Altman movie is his uncanny ability to take a huge ensemble cast of really good actors and carve out a film from their personal stories. This style can also work to the film's detriment however and in Gosford Park the mostly British cast melds together almost too well. Often you can't even tell who's who. Still with all the talent involved there are at least a few bright moments: Smith as the wisecracking Constance an old lady who's very used to being waited on hand and foot gets all the best lines and delivers them flawlessly and veteran actress Mirren is also brilliant as the staunch Mrs. Wilson. She turns in one of the film's only heartbreaking scenes as her character grieves for the son she gave away long ago in the name of servitude. Also good are MacDonald as the young Mary Clive Owen as the valet Robert Parks who carries more than just a chip on his shoulder and Emily Watson as the headstrong chief housemaid Elsie. Northam too shows off his musical abilities as the suave piano-playing singing Novello. The rest all blend together except unfortunately the two American actors--Balaban comes off as annoying and Ryan Phillippe playing an actor pretending to be Morris' valet is in way over his head.
Interestingly the film is taken from a story idea dreamt up by Altman and Balaban. One wonders if perhaps the two were inspired to create Park after watching an episode of the classic '70s British television drama Upstairs Downstairs which was about a wealthy British household whose servant class had just as many dramas as the people they served (hmm sounds familiar). Sure it's conceivable that two Americans sitting around talking about making a distinctly British movie (and a period piece to boot) could pull it off and with a tremendous talent like Altman attached you'd think it would work. But Park misses the mark. The Altman-esque qualities are all there--the way he interweaves his characters' stories and shows real people with real emotions--but maybe just maybe Altman is simply out of his element. You enjoy the ride but it's not a ride through appealing territory and you're definitely watching from the window as the characters live a life you never really become a part of.