Last weekend, news broke that the actor behind Greendale Community College's most crotchety old student might be more like his character than we initially thought. Yes, Chevy Chase was infamous for his Saturday Night Live altercations with, well, pretty much everyone, but his threats to leave the world's most lovable study group were a shocker to the show's many devoted fans. Hints of Chase's less-than-stellar on set behavior could be seen in co-star Alison's Brie's "Pierce or Chevy" tweets, (Example: "You're a spoiled Jewish brat!" then pointing to me and Gillian, "Wait, which one's Jewish?" #PierceORChevy) but so far the cast has kept mum about his feud with creator Dan Harmon.
If Chase wises up and makes nice with Harmon, this little debacle could fade away into the dark recesses of television history oblivion. If not, we could have another Nicollette Sheridan situation on our hands. In honor of Chevy and the man he called a "goddamn a**hole alcoholic fat sh*t," let's take a trip down TV feud memory lane.
Nicollette Sheridan versus Marc Cherry
In 2010, Sheridan filed a $20 million lawsuit against Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry, alleging that she was assaulted by Cherry on set before her "wrongful termination" in 2009. Cherry said that the decision to kill her meddlesome character, Edie Britt, had been made in 2008, and cited her unprofessional behavior as his reasoning. The rest of the cast leapt to Cherry's defense, despite the fact that Sheridan claimed that some of them had been similarly assaulted.
Outcome: The battery charges were thrown out due to lack of evidence, and on March 19, 2012, a mistrial was declared when the jury was unable to reach a verdict. Cherry is no longer involved in the case, but Sheridan and ABC will duke it out again in a few weeks.
Shannen Doherty versus Jennie Garth (And everyone)
In 1994, tragedy struck when one of TV's greatest heroes, Brenda Walsh, left Beverly Hills to study the dramatic arts in London. Maddeningly, this injustice was caused by Shannen Doherty's on set behavior, most famously her arguments with that prissy Dylan-thief, Kelly Taylor (Err, Jennie Garth). Tori Spelling claimed that the two female leads once got in a fistfight, but sporadic lateness and general bad behavior were the publicly accepted impetuses behind her untimely exit.
Outcome: Doherty never returned to the original Beverly Hills, 90210 during the remainder of its six-year run, but she later showed up for a guest stint on its less-than remake, 90210. She starred in Charmed from 1998 until 2001, and similarly left that show amidst rumors of a clash with Alyssa Milano.
Isaiah Washington versus T.R. Knight and Patrick Dempsey
In 2006, the award-winning Isaiah Washington disappointed fans of romance in scrubs everywhere when he used a homophobic slur against his Grey's Anatomy co-star, T.R. Knight. His comments led to an on-set argument with Patrick Dempsey, as well as the public outing of Knight. Washington later apologized, but the damage had already been done: Dr. Burke was officially DOA.
Outcome: Washington finished out the remainder of the season, then faded into obscurity when his contract was not renewed the following year. And Cristina totally moved on.
Janet Hubert versus Will Smith
Prof. Vivian Banks was a staple on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: The matriarch of the Banks family loved and supported her children and nephew, through good times, bad times, and Playboy pictorials. Unfortunately, actress Janet Hubert's relationship with the show's star, Will Smith, was troubled. Both Smith and Alfonso Ribeiro (Remember him?) spoke out about the supposedly cuckoo bananas starlet on several occasions.
Outcome: Hubert was replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reid after three seasons, and has seemingly dropped off the face of the earth. As a "wink wink, nudge nudge" gag on the show, the Banks family would look at old family photos and question Viv's changed appearance.
Kim Cattrall versus Sarah Jessica Parker
These Sex and the City ladies were the best of friends on camera, but rumors of an on set rivalry plagued the actresses for years. Kim Cattrall fueled the fire when she took longer than her three co-stars to sign on for the movie and its sequel, sparking additional rumors of Parker-induced jealousy.
Outcome: This time, the outcome was pretty good (Not the movies). Cattrall eventually signed on to both films, and the women have been seen together publicly many times since. According to Cattrall, the haters didn't like to see two successful women getting along, so they made the stories up to fan the flames.
Of course, these are only a few of my favorite television scuffles. We'll always have Sheen versus Lorre, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck versus knowledge. Readers, let us know: What are your favorite TV feuds, and why?
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Based on Ian McEwan’s equally stirring novel we begin the story in 1935 on the cusp of WWII. Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) a 13-year-old fledgling writer lives with her wealthy family in their enormous English country mansion and on one hot summer day she irrevocably changes the course of three lives including her own. It seems the housekeeper’s son Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) carries a torch for Briony’s older sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley). And on this warm day it becomes clear she feels the same way; their love ignites. Little Briony who harbors her own secret crush on Robbie witnesses the beginnings of this love affair and not understanding its meaning feels compelled to interfere going so far as accusing Robbie of a crime he did not commit. He is arrested and whisked away eventually forced into the British army but thankfully the two lovers have a moment before he goes to war to reconnect. Cecilia promises to wait for him urging him to “come back” to her once the madness he is about to become immersed in is over. Meanwhile Briony (played in adult years by Romola Garai and Vanessa Redgrave) has grown up regretting every single moment of that fateful day and in desperately trying to seek forgiveness finally finds a path to understanding the power of enduring love. The performances in Atonement are nothing less than captivating beginning with the young Irish rose Saoirse Ronan (who is also set to play the lead in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones). Since it is primarily Briony’s story Ronan must make the first most indelible impression and set the tone for the rest of the movie--and she succeeds on every level. From the moment you see Ronan’s pale face clear-blue eyes and steadfast gait you immediately recognize Briony’s need and determination to make everything in her life just so. Indeed Briony is a strongly focused child and Ronan so embodies the character an Oscar nomination is almost a certainty. As the 18-year-old Briony Garai (Dirty Dancing 2) does the best she can following such a tough act as Ronan but can never quite match the same intensity. On the other hand Redgrave who comes in at the very end as the much older Briony nails it right away adding her own nuances to a character who has lived a full life. Of course Knightley and McAvoy are no slouches either vividly capturing the passion bubbling up between Cecilia and Robbie then turning around and showing the heartache as their love is ripped apart. McAvoy is particularly effecting as his Robbie must also witness some truly horrific wartime scenes. Actually Oscar nods should come fast and furious for everyone in Atonement. With Pride & Prejudice and now Atonement director Joe Wright may have just established himself as the new James Ivory (of Merchant/Ivory fame). Wright is a real visionary for the romantic period piece expertly delivering truly spectacular vistas. From set design to costumes to cinematography the look of Atonement is at once verdant welcoming and then startlingly grim. The first half of Atonement at the Tallis’ country home is certainly the film’s most defining peppered by an effective musical score which uses the sound of a typewriter like a metronome. Through a soft lens Wright displays the general idleness of summer day at a country home like a sunny floral motif that belies an undercurrent of sweating bodies wilting flowers stagnant pools--and an imminent tragic event. Then once Wright moves with Robbie into WWII he actually paints an even more grim view of war then maybe seen before. The one continuous shot of the historical Dunkirk--a French beach on which thousands of British soldiers were forced by the Germans and then waited to be evacuated--is absolutely stunning and surreal. Atonement does drag ever-so-slightly in the middle especially as Briony trains to be a nurse in London but overall this is a film Academy voters eat up with a silver spoon. Expect to be hearing about it in the months to come.
Sexually frustrated after another night of unrequited lovin’ from his wife Grant Grant (Michael Rooker) heads to the local pub and later stumbles upon Pandora’s Box in the woods when he fiddles with a slug-like creature. Turns out this “thing” has landed from outer space and it spews its venom into his body turning him into a monster on the prowl. At first he only lusts after red meat but soon only human blood will do. Before long he’s “infected” several townsfolk with plans to get everyone but his wife Starla (Elizabeth Banks) has so far eluded him. She joins forces with a brave policeman (Nathan Fillion) his fledgling staff and a foul-mouthed mayor (Gregg Henry) on a mission to cut the zombies off at the source. But she has conflicting interests between the sexual tension she feels for the hunky officer whom she’s known since childhood and her lifelong vow--in health and in sickness--to her mutant hubby. The lack of star power in Slither lends so much to its gleeful B-movie sensibilities yet these actors are far from second-rate. The most deserving of praise might be the casting director for assembling a sublime bunch of misfits. Character actor Rooker perhaps still best known for 1993’s Cliffhanger goes from a lovelorn husband to a warts-and-all monster. Neither an easy nor flattering task he succeeds in blending the funny with the nasty a noteworthy trend accomplished by the entire ensemble. As the woman who literally married a monster Banks’ (The 40 Year-Old Virgin) princess of a young wife is aghast at the thought of aiding the hunt for her “squid-looking” husband. She allows that notion to play out as funnily as it sounds while maintaining her southern-belle beauty. And Fillion (Serenity) serves up the classic “hero” character with a twist: humiliation along the way to try and save the er night. He does humiliation well. While it might not feel quite right in proclaiming this Slither is actually a true achievement in filmmaking from writer-director James Gunn. He blends the disparate comedy and horror elements very succinctly even when such a dangerous mixture is always at risk of being too campy. Seamlessly transitioning from one element to the next is hard enough with today’s audiences just dying to nit-pick and laugh at awkwardness. But Slither's comedy is amazingly laugh-out-loud sardonic and straightforward while the horror is startlingly gory intense--and scream-out-loud. The director also uses just the right amount of technology to place Slither somewhere between a hypothetical ‘80s B-movie and say War of the Worlds and by refusing to take itself seriously--even in the most grisly of scenes--Slither is effectively rendered un-spoofable. In other words Gunn makes this horror-com his own.
Once respected NYPD detective Jack Mosley (Bruce Willis) is now pretty much on his last legs literally and figuratively. He drinks is relegated to a desk job and walks with a limp. One morning after a long shift he’s corralled into transporting a petty criminal Eddie Bunker (Mos Def) to the courthouse 16 blocks away so he can testify by 10:00 a.m. What Jack doesn’t know is that Eddie is one of the key witnesses in a case against crooked cops--that is until the two start getting shot at. Then it becomes crystal clear. The main bad guy Jack’s former partner Frank (David Morse) basically lets Jack know Eddie will never testify to just go ahead and hand him over but Frank underestimates Jack’s desire to finally do something good. So Jack and Eddie fight their way to the courthouse block by gut-wrenching block. Oh no there’s nothing formulaic about 16 Blocks not at all. In a film as predictable as this the only thing that’ll make it stand out is the performances. 16 Blocks nearly succeeds--but not quite. It would seem Willis is playing a character he’s played a hundred times before--the misunderstood and slightly unorthodox cop with a heart of gold. But as Jack the actor does a nice job trying out some new things namely playing fat bald and grizzled. You can almost smell how bad Jack’s breath has to be. Rapper/actor Mos Def who usually brightens any film he’s in also tries his hand at something different but his choices aren’t as smart. As the talkative and affable Eddie Mos comes up with one of the more annoying nasally accents ever recorded. After about five minutes of screen time you desperately want him to stop and say “Just kidding! I don’t really talk like this.” But he doesn’t. It’s too bad something like an accent can ruin an otherwise decent performance. Old-school director Richard Donner best known for his Lethal Weapons is a consummate professional when it comes to making these kind of movies. In other words he pretty much paints by numbers. We watch Jack and Eddie get out of one tight situation after another as the gaggle of bad cops try to gun them down. I mean 16 blocks doesn’t seem that far to go so they better throw in as many highly implausible obstacles as they can. Chinese laundries alleyways rooftops subways. And yes even a city bus which the pair--who have by now bonded big time--has to hijack. Donner also employs a popular but nonetheless annoying technique of zooming in when the action heats up so you can’t really see what’s going on. Even if you’re addicted to action movies--a Bruce Willis action movie no less--16 Blocks just doesn’t deliver the goods.
Frank Abagnale Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio) never aspires to become one of the youngest people ever to make the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List--it just kind of turns out that way. His adventures begin in 1967 when he runs away from home at 16 just as his parents are divorcing. He finds himself alone in the Big Apple unsuccessfully trying to cash fake $20 checks. One day Frank notices how much respect is given to two airline pilots and he decides impersonating a Pan Am co-pilot might be just the ticket so to speak. Thus begins his brilliant three-year run as a master of deception. After infiltrating Pan Am he changes careers--he's a pediatrician then a lawyer--all the while perfecting his forgery skills. Cashing fake checks all over the country Abagnale amasses millions and quite literally becomes a kid in a candy store buying sports cars and fancy suits losing his virginity and pretending he is James Bond. Still the fact remains Frank is just a kid. Even after all these adult experiences his main objective is to get his father Frank Sr. (Christopher Walken) a down-on-his-luck store owner hounded by the IRS back together with his now-remarried mother (Nathalie Baye). Frank's nefarious activities eventually catch the authorities' attention and Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks) a no-nonsense FBI agent in charge of the bank fraud division is soon hot on Frank's tail. But Frank doesn't mind. Part of him wants to get caught and he baits Hanratty to never give up the chase. Hanratty never does and finally brings his man to justice.
Catch Me's acting ensemble shines. Given the fact DiCaprio is in two high-profile movies this holiday season--this one and Gangs of New York--puts the actor back on the radar after a hiatus (perhaps he was licking his wounds after starring in the disastrous 2001 The Beach). Yet if you were to match the performances DiCaprio's stellar turn as Abagnale definitely stands out as the better of the two (the Golden Globes feel the same recently giving DiCaprio a nod for best actor in a drama). He fits the part like a glove--all at once charismatic childish vulnerable and deadly intelligent. DiCaprio easily shows how Frank isn't necessarily a sociopath but more a needy kid looking for acceptance. Say what you will about DiCaprio's movie star qualities he still has the acting chops to make it work. Walken as Frank Sr. also gives one of the better performances of his career playing a sad man who knows the apple doesn't fall from the tree but who is too proud to admit his mistakes--even to his son. Hanks is superb as well (is there anything this man can't do?) playing the by-the-book Hanratty completely devoid of emotion--but making us laugh anyway every time he comes on the screen. He doesn't mean to of course but to see Hanks play something so obviously straight somehow brings out the humor in the situation even more. Just don't ask Hanratty to tell you a joke. TV's Alias honey Jennifer Garner also makes a nice cameo as a prostitute--watch out folks she's heading for the big screen.
Based on the real-life memoirs of Frank W. Abagnale Jr. Catch Me If You Can is a fascinating study of a brilliant mind which isn't by nature criminal--just slightly misguided (ironically the real Abagnale now in his 50s is a legitimate businessman who also acts as an consultant for the FBI's bank fraud division). Under the skillful hands of director Steven Spielberg Catch Me has a great deal of fun going for a very '60s tongue-in-cheek Pink Panther feel from the opening credits to the ease at which Frank goes about his merry way conning everyone including himself. The motto of the film has to be "never deny." Frank accepts everything and things just fall into his lap. Even when Frank tries to tell the truth to the father (played by Martin Sheen) of a woman he wants to marry it works to his advantage. Yet the meat of the film is Frank's inner turmoil at the breakup of his parents of wanting his family back together again and of his need to come clean. Frank secretly wants to be disciplined told what to do and that's why Hanratty becomes so important almost a fatherly figure to him. The film probably plays about a half hour too long especially in explaining what happens to Abagnale after he gets caught but otherwise it totally engages you.
Calvin Cambridge (played by Bow Wow) is a likeable 14-year-old kid who lives at the Chesterfield Group Home orphanage. He has two aspirations in life: One is to be adopted by a loving family modeled after the Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and the other is to be a basketball player. Hope arrives in the form of an old pair of Nikes that Sister Theresa (played by Anne Meara) brings in a shipment of Salvation Army goodies adorned with the faded initials "M.J. " which Calvin assumes stands for basketball legend Michael Jordan. But the shoes go through an ordeal of their own before Calvin can get them on his feet: Bullies take the sneakers from him and throw them over some power lines where they are struck by lightning. Suddenly Calvin finds he is able to make 30-foot jump shots on the orphanage court. His newfound talent gets him recruited by the embattled Los Angeles Knights who see Calvin as a new gimmick to fill empty stadium seats. While Calvin is enamored by all the perks that come with playing for the NBA the sport cannot satisfy his need for a loving family.
The soft-spoken Bow Wow (All About the Benjamins) tugs at every heartstring in Like Mike with viewers subject to many close-ups of his tear-stained cheeks. His performance is mediocre--in some scenes you can almost see him taking orders from the director--but Bow Wow has enough character and sincerity to pull it off. He's content in the spotlight which is not surprising considering he has been practically preened for it since birth. Morris Chestnut (Two Can Play That Game) plays Tracey Reynolds a slick NBA player who is assigned to be Calvin's mentor. Morris is completely at ease playing the flashy athlete with a soft side and he gives the relationship between Tracey and Calvin a certain air of sweetness. Crispin Glover plays Calvin's evil guardian Stan Bittleman but his performance isn't up to par with his past roles including the time he almost kicked David Letterman in the head while taping Late Night. Jonathan Lipnicki (Jerry Maguire) and Brenda Song (Requiem) play Calvin's loyal orphanage buds and they do so without being too smart-alecky. Cameo appearances by NBA stars Allen Iverson Gary Payton Vince Carter and Chris Webber (among others) add to the film's authenticity.
Like Mike plays out more like an after-school special than a feature film; it's formulaic and relies heavily on one gimmick after another. With the film light on laughs but heavy on sentiment director John Schultz (Drive Me Crazy) makes sure every bit of sap is extracted from scribe Michael Elliot's (Carmen: A Hip Hopera) script making the film less challenging for adult viewers. The kids for example live in a '50s-style orphanage where prospective parents file in and look for children to adopt like puppies in a store window. (They always pick the young ones the older children lament.) But children no doubt will feel for the 4-foot-8-inch Calvin as he slam-dunks the ball into the hoop and dangles from it his little legs flailing in the air. And this cutesy package of a film comes complete with a moral at the end of the story when the vertically challenged hero learns a valuable lesson about facing up to one's fears.