Most of the time when I’m working you can find me sitting in a cubical, eating Skittles, and writing articles about the wide world of television. But sometimes, I’m the lucky girl in the sky-high heels who gets to attend red carpet premieres and network parties that are filled with so many pretty people that it almost hurts my eyes! Many of you know that the winter Television Critics Association is currently in full swing and for a TV enthusiast like me, it’s like I’m a kid in a candy store. But of course I have to do my best and be lady like, so my inner fan-girl feelings don’t frighten away the stars. Anyways, moving on! This week’s edition of Leanne’s Spoiler List is packed with juicy details from five phenomenal shows. I chatted with the lovely Naya Rivera of Glee to get Santana’s feeling on Bram, and gathered scoop on what’s next for Toby on Pretty Little Liars. I also hit up the premiere of Justified to find out what’s next for Harlan county’s biggest badasses and chatted with the stars of Suburgatory and Deception to snag spoilers from upcoming episodes. Read on for all the TV craziness below!
Glee: Is NYC Ready for Santana?
My Dearest Glee-bees: In the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing every single cast member of Glee, except for the amazingly talented Naya Rivera. Every time I'd get close we'd run out of time. Sigh. However, on Tuesday night at the FOX semi-annual TCA all-star party, I was delighted to have the chance to finally talk with Rivera. Fun-Fact: She’s just as wonderful in person as you could imagine! And If you’re anything like me, then you desperately miss watching Santana singing on your TV screens each week. Well cheer up buttercup! Rivera told me that there is a lot coming up for our favorite fiery Latina. “She is actually doing big big things in the episode 'Diva' that we’re shooting right now.” Rivera says, “She gets to sing three songs. One of them is a Tina Turner powerhouse song, and then she has got some exciting news coming up. “ Hmm, any clue on what this “exciting news” could be Glee lovers?
Many fans are hoping that Santana will leave her cheerleading days in the past and move to The Big Apple with Rachel and Kurt to chase her dreams. So of course I made sure to ask if this brilliant idea could become a reality. The 25-year-old actress reveals, “I think it’s a very strong possibility.” All together now: Squee! And of course I couldn’t end our conversation without bringing up the newest couple to emerge in the Glee shipper-sphere: Bram — aka Brittany and Sam. Many people (this journalist included) can’t stand the idea of this new duo, so you can imagine my glee when Rivera told me how Santana feels about Brittany’s new beau. Rivera’s answer was short but sweet: “She hates it!” Any chance of a Santana/Sam smackdown? Rivera says with a coy laugh, “Maybe…” Well, my money is definitely on Santana!
2. Justified: Arlo Will Always Adapt
The FX hit Justified is finally back in our lives and if you missed Tuesday night’s season four premiere, you can catch up on all the Harlan drama right here! I had the pleasure of attending the Justified red carpet and premiere this past weekend where I chatted with the cast — and swooned over the handsomeness of Timothy Olyphant. (Hopefully he didn’t really notice when I caught a case of the fan-girl giggles...) One of my favorite characters is without a doubt Raylan’s law-avoiding father, so of course I had to talk with Raymond J. Barry about Arlo’s life behind bars this season. Barry says that just because Arlo is now in prison, it doesn't mean that he’s going to change his badass ways. “Arlo always has an ace up his sleeve," he says. "He’s a real survivor and he has very few tools except what he’s created for himself. No education, born in poverty — he learned how to survive as best he could, and if he’s in prison he’ll figure it out. That’s a whole other world, there’s a code of ethics and you learn how to do it.”
Barry also reveals that although Raylan is furious that Arlo took the fall for Boyd’s crime, their father/son relationship is not completely severed. Barry says, “They’re still talking. The thing is, Raylan doesn’t expect Arlo to change. It’s beyond that. And the environment is such that you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.” Barry says that Raylan and Arlo have very similar characteristics, it’s just that they chose different paths in life: “He chose the straight and narrow — he’s a cop, right? He gets paid for that and I get paid for what I do.”
3. Suburgatory: Oooh Barracuda!
You all know how I feel about Surburgatory: Basically if I could hug this show I would never ever let it go. So when I chatted on the phone with the amazing Cheryl Hines last week, I was thrilled to learn about all the Chatswin craziness that is coming up. Everyone knows that Dallas Royce and Sheila Shay are not exactly besties — in fact they usually can’t stand each other. Well fans had better start making their Team Dallas and Team Sheila shirts pretty soon, because there’s a musical battle headed to Suburgatory. Hines explains, “Well there is an episode coming up where George decides to star a garage band with the guys in the neighborhood. And you know Dallas thinks it’s very cute and George says no, it’s just a guy thing and we’re in the garage so we’re just playing with the guys.”
Of course, when is Dallas ever going to let a man tell her what to do? And then the trouble begins: “I walk in and Sheila Shay is signing “Barracuda” with the boys, and she’s really good! She basically tells me that I don’t need to be there and be the Yoko Ono of the group.” Oh snap! Hines continues, “So no we’re not making cookies together quite yet.” Looks like we still have a long way to go before we’re going to see Dallas and Sheila hanging out at the Chatswin Country Club together. At least there are going to be plenty of hilarious episodes in the meantime!
4. Deception: Not Just a “Who Done It?” Drama
Deception is the newest high-class murder mystery drama to hit NBC, and while it is very similar in tone to last year’s Revenge, it is still going to be a fun primetime soap opera to get hooked on. Especially because of the oh-so handsome Wes Brown, who dazzles in his scenes as Julian, the brother of the recently murdered deceased Vivian. I caught up with Brown at NBC’s TCA party earlier this week, and learned that he loves his character just as much as I do! “The Julian character — I mean, what’s not to love? He’s this mega-rich playboy who is a little too smart for his own good. It’s an intriguing character to play, and he’s nothing like myself in real life.” (Side-Note: Yep, that’s true. For example, Brown drives a Prius, not an Aston Martin like Julian. Hooray for the environment!)
The actor says that audiences are going to have fun trying to figure out all the mysterious of this Monday night drama. “I can’t wait for fans to see how much more there is to the series other than just the whodunnit of Vivian Bowers. To those who have only seen the pilot, there is so much more in the first season, and you’re going to be hooked.” Brown concludes, “All I can say is it’s an absolute roller coaster of a series.” If it’s anything like Revenge’s first season than you can bet I’ll be ready to watched every week at 10 pm sharp!
5. Pretty Little Liars: Terrifying Toby!
Pretty Little Liars is one of those shows that has it all: an always intriguing plot, hot boys, and wardrobe-inspiring fashion choices. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve Googled Spencer’s shoes or Aria’s necklaces…) Now that the drama of Rosewood is back for the second half of season three, I sweet-talked my way into snagging some details from Executive Producer Oliver Goldstick. Fans were shocked Tuesday night, with a terrifying Toby fully embracing his black hoodie in the opening of the episode. That dark look in his eyes as he chased a skateboarding Lucas down the street was beyond intense, but Goldstick reminded me that we’ve seen that look once before. “I want you to look back. I wrote the third episode in the series and Toby was coming down that hallway when he returned to Rosewood, and that’s the same look on his face.”
Goldstick says fans need to think back to when we first met Toby, and why the four friends were so scared of him. “He was somebody who had a lot going on that he wasn’t revealing, and there’s a lot of mystery to this character," he says. "His relationship with Jenna, we’ve never met his parents — we don’t really know what goes on inside that house, and so we’ve always kept him as sort of an enigmatic character for a reason. I think now is the time to pay it off." Many fans like me are hoping that Toby is only pretending to be a member of the A Team in order to protect the liars and his lady love Spencer. However, when I suggested this speculation to Goldstick, the EP was quick to shoot it down. “Well that’s a fine theory, but I think you’re going to find in the next couple episodes that he may have been on this A side the whole time — and may have been infiltrating the pretty little liars. That’s what is more shocking and more devastating for our girls and especially Spencer. We explore that more in this season with this infiltration. It wasn’t the A Team, it was them.“ Nooo! Say it ain’t so, Toby!What do you think Santana’s “exciting news” will be on Glee? Looking forward to a new season of Justified? How do you think Spencer will feel when she finds the truth about Toby? Tell me everything in the comments below!
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She's a hip-hoppin' be-boppin' mean ol' nanny who whips a mean stew and your butt for not doing your homework—and now she's back! Alas we don't speak of the Mrs. Doubtfire sequel but rather that of Big Momma a.k.a. FBI Agent Malcolm Turner (Martin Lawrence). Agent Warner has cut ties with the FBI at the behest of Sherry (Nia Long)—who as you no doubt recall is the granddaughter of the real Big Momma—since she's pregnant with Malcolm's baby. But wouldn't you know that he gets sucked back in after a former colleague is killed. Posing as Big Momma he's hired as a nanny to a suburban family the deadbeat dad of which is involved in the murder and a crime plot. She does it all—cooks cleans dances and even runs down bad guys but it's a race against time to stop the potential national security crisis. That is a race against the film's (mercifully) short running time. Although Lawrence's resume includes some of the dregs of comedy it's hard to argue that he is truly blessed when it comes to physical comedy and comedic timing. He continues both trends here this time without the help of the breakthrough actors of the past two years Paul Giamatti and Terrence Howard who yes both starred in the first Big Momma's House. That means Lawrence's urban mania is truly on its own and absurd and juvenile as the film may be even film snobs can't hold back a few laughs at his Big Momma outlandishness. Longreturns for no more than a select few scenes and to provide a minor conflict in the story. The notable newcomer is CSI's Emily Procter as the sterile mother who hires Big Momma. She does a serviceable job as a suburban Petite Momma. Might she be the next Giamatti or Howard to bolt to bigger and better things in time for the next sequel? No.
Big Momma's House 2 is right up director John Whitesell's alley. He's the guy behind such misses—though not necessarily financially—as Malibu's Most Wanted and See Spot Run and he's right at home here. Whitesell doesn't hold back in (literally and figuratively) pulling the robe off Big Momma but he clearly knows that nothing is to interrupt Lawrence's antics not even the thin story line. Aside from that he knows quite well how to execute thinly veiled rip-offs of the aforementioned Mrs. Doubtfire as well as countless other hidden-motive comedies (i.e. Kindergarten Cop Houseguest et al). Because while the main guise is the Big Momma fat suit Whitesell parades the film about as a feel-good/family flick.
Hardened by years of brutal but loyal military service special ops officer Robert Scott (Val Kilmer) is assigned to find the president's apparently kidnapped daughter Laura Newton (Kristen Bell). Pairing up with his protégé Curtis (Derek Luke) Scott works diligently with a task force of presidential advisors the Secret Service the FBI and the CIA to find her and through their investigation they stumble upon a white slavery ring in the Middle East which may--or may not--have some connection to Laura's disappearance. The straightforward search-and-rescue mission is soon bogged down in political machinations and the girl's abduction starts to look even more suspicious than it did at first. In fact the mission comes to an abrupt halt altogether when the girl is supposedly found drowned from a boating accident. Scott returns to his quiet life until Curtis shows up and proves that Laura is still alive and most likely trapped in the white slavery ring. In a race against time Scott and Curtis embark on their own unofficial rescue mission--and put themselves at the center of a dangerous conspiracy that goes all the way to the top of the U.S. government.
Val Kilmer probably won't be joining Mamet's dedicated circle of players--which includes Joe Mantegna William H. Macy and Mamet's wife actress Rebecca Pidgeon--any time soon. While it's clear Kilmer took the role to work with the talented writer/director he isn't well suited to deliver "Mamet-speak"--the rapid fire delivery of terse dialogue the writer is known for--and Kilmer looks uncomfortable trying to do it. The gifted actor who can't help but bring in his own quirky sensibilities to the part still hits the nail on the head as steely resolute Scott. But the minute he starts dispensing sage advice--Mamet-style--Kilmer sticks out like a sore thumb. Same goes for Luke (Antwone Fisher) who is entirely miscast as Scott's sidekick. Others in the ensemble however handle the Mamet chores more adeptly including Macy and Ed O'Neill (yes the guy from TV's Married ... With Children) as presidential aides.
Spartan's real problem however is that it's a thriller without much thrill. Mamet's expertise is in creating scenarios within a microcosm whether it's a world of con artists (House of Games; The Spanish Prisoner) salesmen (Glengarry Glen Ross) or even showbiz (State and Main). These Mamet films are even-keeled--almost devoid of emotion. He sets up characters and actions relevant to that particular world so when characters spout lines in Mamet's distinctive style it comes off as perfectly natural. Yet with Spartan Mamet is tackling a bigger grander picture and when his style is applied to the world as a whole it doesn't work. Plus in the thriller genre the audience needs to feel invested in the characters and Mamet's distant unemotional style doesn't lend itself to sending the audience's collective hearts racing. The only poignant moment in the film belongs to Bell as the wounded daughter who just wants a little attention from Daddy and the only truly exciting moments are during her rescue. That said however Spartan proves Mamet still knows how to craft a story. Although the script is at times vague and convoluted it thankfully never falls into any of the genre's usual patterns and it throws in enough twists to keep you on your toes.
September 12, 2003 11:43am EST
New grads Paul (Rider Strong) Karen (Jordan Ladd) Jeff (Joey Kern) Marcy (Cerina Vincent) and Bert (James Debello) head off to a cabin in the woods to let off some post-college steam before entering the working world. They are a pretty likeable bunch except for Bert who gets drunk and starts shooting at squirrels with a rifle--and then accidentally shoots a stranger in the woods. Bert keeps mum about the incident until the man projectile vomiting blood and looking like he's been skinned alive shows up at the cabin and tries to take their truck. While trying to stop him Paul unintentionally sets him on fire and the gang watches as he runs ablaze into the woods. What they don't know however is that he had a contagious flesh-eating virus. When his charred body falls into the local water reservoir everyone becomes vulnerable. The first to gulp down a glass of water filled with strange chunky particles is Karen whom they forcibly quarantine in a shed behind the cabin when she begins to show signs of the disease. Before long the fear of contagion turns the remaining four against one another. What's more a local lynch mob has formed in order to track down and kill anyone who may have come in contact with the virus which has apparently threatened this small town before. Cabin Fever is definitely a rollicking ride; it will scare you gross you out and make you laugh.
Like most low-budget horror films Cabin Fever's cast isn't exactly stellar yet the young actors and actresses really elevate the material. The most refreshing thing about the characters is that they react to what is happening to them in a way you and I probably would as opposed to the typical slasher-flick way: Instead of banding together against the common enemy they bicker act like cowards and put themselves first. Strong who last appeared in My Giant but is probably better known as Shawn from the TV series Boy Meets World emerges as a capable lead as Paul the most sensible of the group. Although his character comes across as somewhat brighter and more sensitive than the rest he is still immature enough to try to cop a feel when his love interest Karen is sleeping and feeling under the weather. Karen meanwhile is played by Ladd who has had small roles in several movies including The Specials and Never Been Kissed. Her character is the most compassionate of the gang and Karen reacts more intensely to events than the others. Kern as cocky know-it-all Jeff Vincent as slutty tough chick Marcy and Debello as party boy Bert perfectly round out the diverse cast of characters.
Because of its gruesome subject matter it is difficult to describe such a vile movie as being good or even well made but this one really is. In his feature directorial debut helmer Eli Roth delivers a truly disturbing horror picture. While most pics of this genre tend to look cold and gritty Roth saturates his sets with golden ambient lighting that brightly contrasts the film's dark dismal subject matter. And dismal is putting it mildly: Cabin Fever shows viewers things that most movies don't because they would be considered too disturbing. Case in point: When the intoxicated Bert drives off for help in his pickup and hits a deer the animal doesn't just die on impact but struggles in pain its hind legs flailing through the windshield. Such disturbing imagery escalates by degrees until the very end when the film takes on a weird surreal quality. For example the scenes of Paul being pushed through a hospital on a gurney have a dreamlike feel bound to make moviegoers question if what is happening is real. The film's score also has all sorts of unusual instrumental influences including a Twin Peaks-inspired number when a sheriff comes to investigate the cabin and a Deliverance-type banjo ditty to accompany the locals folk in front of the general store which adds a touch of humor at the most unlikely moment.