Mother of Gob: Emmy winner Margo Martindale will play Will Arnett's mom in a new comedy pilot from Raising Hope creator Greg Garcia. Arnett plays the recently divorced Jack whose life gets even crazier when his parents split up after 43 years. Martindale's Carol is a meddlesome woman who's shocked when her husband files for divorce, forcing her to move in with her son. [THR]
Have Mercy: John Stamos is in final talks to join the NBC drama pilot I Am Victor. The erstwhile Uncle Jesse would star as a powerful divorce attorney with "a unique view of relationships." Considering he raised his family in an attic (oh, wait, that was only on TV?), it makes sense that he'd have a unique perspective on life. [TVLine]
The Revolution Goes Online: Want more Revolution? The show doesn't return to NBC until March 25, but starting Feb. 25, we'll be able to learn much more about the powerless future world when NBC.com debuts a webseries starring Giancarlo Esposito's Capt. Neville 11 years after the blackout, on the night Miles first tried to assassinate Monroe. Neville will embark on a quest to kill the people behind the attempt on the General's life, but he'll stumble upon "an even greater conspiracy that could change the course of the Republic forever." Mysterious! [EW]
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Come On Down: Jane Lynch is adding to her busy schedule (Glee, Broadway's Annie revival) with a brand new job: game show host. The actress will host the new NBC reality series Hollywood Game Night, which features celebs hanging out in a cocktail party-type situation and playing pop culture-centric games with non-famous folks. The eight-episode series is produced by Sean Hayes. [EW]
Come Together: All of your indie favorites in one place! Melanie Lynskey has just joined the comedy pilot Togetherness, from Mark and Jay Duplass. She'll play a stay-at-home-mom in an unfulfilling marriage who wants more from life. The show is about two couples trying to make their relationships work will maintaining their own hopes and dreams. The Duplass brothers, who can currently be seen in a guest arc on Fox's The Mindy Project, will write, executive produce, and direct Togetherness, although they will not appear in the show. [THR]
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Lost and Found: Two Lost alums have landed dastardly parts in different CW drama pilots. Mark Pellegrino will play an evolutionary biologist in The Tomorrow People, about a group of young people who have evolved beyond normal humans and have the power of teleportation and telekinesis. Pellegrino's Dr. Jedikiah Price sees the Tomorrow People as a threat to humanity. Henry Ian Cusick, meanwhile, will star as an officer aboard the space station that houses all humans after an attack on Earth on The Hundred. With the ship on its last legs, the government sends 100 juvenile delinquents back down to the planet to see if it's hospitable or not. [TVLine]
Going for the Gold: E! announced a premiere date for its reality show about Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, appropriately titled What Would Ryan Lochte Do? The new docuseries will premiere Sunday, April 21 at 10 p.m. on the network, and will be followed by a new season of the Kevin Jonas reality show Married to Jonas. [THR]
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[PHOTO CREDIT: Frank Micelotta/AP Images]
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A billionaire TV producer (Robert Mammone) has a great idea for a reality show that he wants to put on the Internet and his goal is to beat the 40 million Super Bowl audience. He has compiled a crack team of young hip and immoral tech geeks directed by Goldman (Rick Hoffman) and puts cameras throughout a remote island where former prisoners are going to kill each other while audiences watch after shelling out the pay-per-view fee. The location is done on a remote secret island and the death row prisoners are bought from prisons around the world with the promise that the survivor gets to walk free. Among the contestants are a rogue Aussie named McStarley (Vinnie Jones) a martial arts expert (Masa Yamaguchi) a husband-and-wife team (Manu Bennett and Dasi Ruz) a monstrous killer who doesn't do much more than grunt (Nathan Jones) and others known only as The Italian The German and other monikers quickly forgotten. Enter the sole American Jack Conrad (Steve Austin) who's in a South American prison for some obscure reason and is recognized on TV by his wife (Madeleine West) who tries to save him. However it looks like Conrad is pretty good at helping himself. Don't expect the acting to be much more evolved than what could be seen among the World Wrestling Entertainment superstars especially since many of them were plucked from the ring to star in this morality tale. But Austin (who had in a strong cameo in Adam Sandler's Longest Yard) proves he has a sense of humor as well as strength. Vinnie Jones is ridiculously over-the-top as the Aussie who's the hand-picked winner of this game shown setting up alliances Survivor style only to turn on them later. The supporting cast are refreshingly entertaining but one-note caricatures both in the contest and running the contest. It's obvious that they aren't going to be around long but the actors do milk their tiny roles for every bit of attention they can get. Rick Hoffman as the brilliant camera mastermind of the project is both whiny sniveling and mean-spirited so when he joins some of the rest of the crew and suddenly develops a backbone and a conscience he ends up stealing the movie with his acerbic humor. But it's the understated American hero Conrad who holds a mirror up to the people who like to watch this stuff. Director Scott Wiper who co-wrote this story has also acted in similar movies like this (A Better Way to Die). It’s obvious he knows what he’s doing with The Condemned and develops a sense of voyeuristic angst like those of us who can't keep our eyes off a train wreck. Like the darkly subversive Belgian film Man Bites Dog the camera crew remains safely distant and remote until the reality directly involves them. Then the crew wonders "What the hell are we doing?" while the audience might be thinking "What the hell are we watching?" Much like Series 7: The Contenders Rollerball and other movies which show a dark and bloody near future this kind of reality doesn't seem too far away and maybe proves that movies which provide this type of gladiator spectacle target a certain segment of the human population who need to blow off steam.
The Crusades were a series of religious wars in which the Christians tried to reclaim Jerusalem from the Muslims who had conquered the Middle East in the 7th century. With the battle cry of "God wills it! " thousands of Europeans answered the call and were able to retake the fabled Holy City in the 11th century. Kingdom of Heaven begins in 1186 between the Second and Third Crusades. A fragile peace prevails mostly through the efforts of Jerusalem's enlightened Christian king Baldwin IV (Edward Norton) and the military restraint of the legendary Muslim leader Saladin (Ghassan Massoud). But it's difficult to maintain the peace. There are extremists within the Christian brigades--known as the Knights Templar--who want to wipe every Muslim off the face of the Earth. On top of that King Baldwin's health is failing. Once he's gone war is sure to follow. If ever there was a need for a hero this is the time. Enter the young French blacksmith Balian (Orlando Bloom) who is in deep despair over the loss of his family. He joins the Crusades after the father he never knew Godfrey (Liam Neeson) comes back from Jerusalem and convinces him it's a quest worth fighting for. As Godfrey passes his sword to his son he also passes on that sacred knightly oath: to protect the helpless safeguard the peace and work toward harmony between religions and cultures so that a kingdom of heaven can flourish on earth. No pressure or anything though.
Orlando Bloom carries his first major motion picture very well easily handling the chores of being such a gallant conscientious and morally upstanding knight. As Balian the Troy costar plays the gamut. He broods over his lost wife and child has father-son epiphanies upholds his knightly duties on a regular basis falls in love with a beautiful but troubled princess and finally bravely defends the Holy City from the encroaching Muslim army thus becoming a legend. Not bad for a day's work eh? There are even times especially toward the end when Balian is standing before the denizens of Jerusalem urging them to fight when you swear you can see a little of Bloom's The Lord of the Rings alter-elf Legolas creep in. The supporting cast also does an adequate job painting a picture of some trying times. Chief among them: Jeremy Irons as King Baldwin's right-hand man Tiberias; Marton Csokas (The Bourne Supremacy) as the evil leader of the Knights Templar; Massoud as the great warrior Saladin; and lovely Eva Green (The Dreamers) as Princess Sibylla King Baldwin's sister who captures our hero's heart but makes some bad choices with dire consequences.
Even if these sword-and-armor epics are all blending together you've got to give props to the directors who make them. These films are massive undertakings and Kingdom of
Heaven with the expert Ridley Scott at the helm is no exception. The Oscar-winning director of course has had his fair share of recreating history first with the classic Gladiator and then with the contemporary Black Hawk Down. But in recreating the Crusades Scott faces his toughest challenge to date and takes on the responsibility very seriously. He is painstakingly meticulous with details even as he is building a 12th-century Jerusalem or corralling 2 000 heavily costumed extras for the colossal climactic battle sequences. And it is always a good thing when a historical film can teach you something you may not have known like what the heck the Crusades were really all about. No Kingdom's biggest obstacle is timing. While it certainly has more substance than Alexander it is not nearly as intense and stirring as The Lord of the Rings trilogy or the granddaddy of them all Braveheart. Too many of its ilk has come before and the concept has unfortunately worn thin.