A group of quirky, attractive late twentysomethings living together in a trendy urban setting. It's an M.O. that's nothing short of standard in the sitcom world. So how does one take a familiar premise and turn it into something that feels fresh and exciting? To start, you have Liz Meriwether pen one of the funniest shows in recent memory and then you cast the likes of Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, Jake Johnson, Lamorne Morris, and Hannah Simone — and voilà — you've got the Emmy-nominated hit New Girl. The man responsible for that second critical ingredient is Seth Yanklewitz, FOX's Vice President of Casting, whose resume includes The Hangover, Eastbound & Down, Rock of Ages, Going the Distance, and, of course, the New Girl pilot. During an interview with Hollywood.com, Yanklewitz said the key to casting for an ensemble show like New Girl was simple: "Keeping it truly authentic and not having it feel like caricatures. It might be tweaked a little, but we all know a Jess, we all know a Schmidt, we all know these characters. We have them in our group of friends and I think that's what allowed people to relate so much. " It also helps to have a cast that clicks just as much off-screen as they do on-screen. "Everyone fell into an amazing groove.... They had instant chemistry and everybody realized how great the show was from reading the pilot," Yanklewitz said of the ensemble. "This is a group of people that all actually really like each other and they all just want each other to be the best they can be every day." It's that same supportive, creative environment that helped earn Emmy nominations for leading lady Deschanel and supporting breakout star Greenfield. Greenfield's nod in particular is a special one for Yanklewitz, a nominee himself this year (alongside New Girl's current casting director Anya Colloff). "[It's] the most beautiful validation for me as a casting director, and for him as an actor who really has just worked so hard at his career. It's beautiful to see someone who works hard get their due." Yanklewitz met Greenfield "8 years ago on a general," but told Hollywood.com that when he read the New Girl pilot, he knew the 31-year-old actor would be right for the part of Schmidt. It turned out to be more than a hunch since Greenfield, as Yanklewitz put it, "owned" the audition. And from there, a GIF-friendly fan-favorite sensation was born. Of course, while stars like Greenfield make the process easy for a casting director, Yanklewitz and co. were faced with a challenge early on for New Girl. Damon Wayans, Jr., who appeared in the pilot as the third male roommate known as Coach, had to leave the show when ABC picked up his other series Happy Endings for a second season. Rather than reshoot the pilot, they opted to create an entirely new character, Winston, who would be introduced in the second episode. It was a choice that the show not only poked fun at later in the season ("Be nicer to Coach or he's going to take off and live with other white people," Johnson's Nick said in a hilarious video confessional during an episode) but one Yanklewitz agreed was the only choice for the show to overcome the hurdle. "I think the smartest thing was that they made it a new character. The audience for this show is smart, they just couldnt get away with [recasting Coach]." Luckily, even with the shakeup, Yanklewitz and co. already had actors on their radar from the casting process, including the man who would eventually place Winston: Morris. He explained, "Lamorne was supposed to test for the Coach role and got an offer on a CBS pilot during that pilot season and we just couldn't make the offer at that moment. Luckily that show didn't pan out so when we got Damon and the whole Happy Endings thing panned out, we had already known Lamorne from the process. It was sad to see Damon go, but I think it worked out. Those moments could go horribly wrong." Perhaps just as high wire an act as creating and casting a new character is stunt and guest casting. From shows like Glee to Will & Grace, which relied heavily on guest stars, New Girl has managed to find the right mix of big names (Ryan Kwanten, Dermot Mulroney, Justin Long) and comedic character actors (Michaela Watkins, Rachel Harris, Lizzy Caplan). "It hasn't been, just stick a famous person in there. That's not the edict on the network side. Funny wins, and if we can get someone who can bring some life to the show in all areas of this business... Honestly, it's worked, whether it be Dermot Mulroney ('We really pushed for him... He let us tease him a bit in his manliness') or Ryan Kwanten ('He's a super talented actor and not too hard to look at')." The upcoming Season 2 will feature that same combination of recognizable names like Parker Posey ("She fits in this world" Yanklewitz said of the indie darling's New Girl stint) and up-and-comers like David Walton and Nelson Franklin (who will play Jess' and Cece's new love interests, respectively). "The show is so well written by Liz and everyone, the show has allowed us to dabble in both the indie comedy world, UCB, Improv Olympics, the Groundlings world, and hit a star or two," Yanklewitz acknowledged. While the show was supposed to have bona fide star Leslie Mann on board for a stint, bad timing got in the way. (After Mann stepped out, Posey stepped in). Still, Yanklewitz assured that everyone hopes to get the actress back in the future. "Leslie is amazing, comedy gold," he said. "It just maybe wasn't the right time. She really expressed interest in the show and loves Max Greenfield and wants to work with him. We will certainly work to get her back to the show and in a capacity that is right for her. We're all into Leslie being on the show." Still, with or without Mann, the show must — and will — go on, much to the delight of anxious excited fans. So what's in store for our favorite group of group of quirky, attractive late twenty somethings living together? Yanklewitz shared, "We're going to keep the relationships of all these guys developing and introducing new funny characters who are going to allow. You see who Schmidt is, you see who Nick is and see how they all need each other with hilarity ensuing." Is it September 25 yet? New Girl returns to FOX at 9 PM ET on — you guessed it — Tues, Sept. 25. [Photo Credits: FOX; Dewey Nicks/FOX] More: Zooey Deschanel Gets New Girl Love Interest New Girl: Move Over Schmidt! Nelson Franklin to Play Cece's New Beau 2012 Emmy Awards: See the Full List of Nominees!
Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
Make sure to check out Part 1 of our San Diego Comic-Con Preview!
The weekend’s here, which means only two more days of the Con left to go!
Saturday, July 23 - Comic-Con Day 3: The Search for Spock
Saturday T.V. begins with some spy geekery…
NBC’s Chuck has enjoyed a constant stay of execution and its due to a devoted cult following that is sure to be coming to the "Chuck Screening and Q&A” at Ballroom 20 at 10AM. Co–creator, Chris Fedak, along with stars Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski, Josh Gomez, Adam Baldwin, and more will be on hand in celebration of the show’s fandom and final season.
This is not a Land of the Lost remake…
After a brief delay to make sure the effects looked right, Fox and Steven Spielberg’s Terra Nova, is here and being previewed at Comic-Con! Brought to you by the creator of the hugely underrated The 4400, executive producer Rene Echevarria, comes exclusive footage of the series that is sure to captivate sci–fans and dinosaur lovers everywhere.
V for Twixt? Oliver Twixt? Mr. Coppola comes to Comic-Con…
Many moviegoers, comic book fans and non, consider The Godfather, and The Godfather II, amongst some of the greatest movies ever made. While director Francis Ford Coppola has been off shooting small indies for the last few years, but now he’s teaming up with Val Kilmer and Elle Fanning for Twixt, a film written and directed by the beloved auteur. It’s not based on a comic book, but Coppola’s new film will be in Hall H at 11:45AM to hopefully generate a ton of heat for its late 2011 release.
Cyclopes, Drunk Robots, and the Planet Express
For having faith in a show thought long cancelled. Futurama has been back for a year now, and the cult fave will be at Ballroom 20 at 12:15 to preview footage from the Futurama Japanese Anime and a preview of the this summer’s season. Along for the panel are Matt Groening and David X. Cohen (Futurama’s creators), as well as stars Billy West (Fry), Katey Sagal (Leela), and John DiMaggion (Bender).
Yellow Fever at ComiCon…
Holy crow, The Simpsons has been officially been on television for a generation. Can anyone remember a world without them? Heck, the pure notion of such a thing is profoundly odd. What on Earth did people watch on Sundays pre–1989? Fans can go to Ballroom 20 at 1PM to help Matt Groening, Al Jean, Mike Anderson, and Tom Gammill for a celebratory panel and Q&A session, as the show gets ready for its 23rd season and 500th episode.
Batman and his bad girls…
What fun-filled day at Comic-Con would be complete without a Batman-centric panel? At 1PM in room 26AB will be a philosophical and psychological discussion “Psychology of the Dark Knight: How Trauma Formed the Batman and Why He’s Got a Thing for Bad Girls,” which features psychologist Travis Langley (Henderson State), Robin Rosenberg (Psychology of Superheroes), Michael Uslan, and Catwoman herself, Lee Meriwether, all dissecting the realism of Batman’s never-ending war on crime; as well as his attraction to women like Selina Kyle and Pamela Isley.
JMS, the hardest working writer in Comicdom…
He’s the creator of Babylon 5, and the comic book saga, Rising Stars. He’s written for Superman, Spider-Man,and Silver Surfer, as well as contributed to the scripts for Thor, and the upcoming World War Z. There might not be anything on this planet that J. Michael Straczynski can’t put a new and exciting spin on, and he’s bringing that unique vision to Room 7AB at 2PM to discuss what its liking writing for so many genres and mediums, and put the “Spotlight” on himself and his future.
Mayor Adam West...
“Family Guy” voice actors, Alex Borstein (Lois), and Seth Green (Chris) and the esteemed Adam West will be giving Ballroom 20 a sneak peek at season 10 and the upcoming episode, “Stewie Goes for a Drive," at 2PM. Sorry, no Seth MacFarlane announced as of this writing, but MacFarlane’s sister Rachel, along with Scott Grimes, and Wendy Schaal will be in the room at 2:35 to present a preview the new season of their show, American Dad.
The studios were bound to mine old folk tales for new films sooner or later…
As evidenced by the recent Little Red Riding Hood, Hollywood is now tapping into many of our childhood favorites and twisting them into dark fairy tales to make a new genre (which for the record, Todd MacFarlane already started with his “Twisted World of Oz” toys, but I digress). Hall H at 3:30 is where Universal Studios will be showing off some scenes of their upcoming twisted tale, Snow White and the Huntsmen, starring Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, and Chris Hemsworth, who will all be on hand to discuss the flick. Here’s hoping they cast Kenny Baker as Doc.
Speaking of Folk Tales, NBC is joining that bandwagon as well…
Fans might need to check their drawers for this one, because the geektastic tri–fecta of creative minds from Buffy, Angel, and The X–Files are reimagining the world of Grimms’ fairy tales in NBC’s newest series, Grimm. The twist on the folk tales is an exciting one, as a homicide detective learns that he is a descendent of a group of hunters called Grimms, who are tasked with protecting the world from the supernatural creatures that lived in the fairy tales. If that sounds interesting , then get to Room 6A at 4:15PM for the “Grimm Pilot Screening and Q&A,” with the producers and cast.
Comicdom’s most prolific artist since Jack Kirby…
Creating WildC.A.T.S. as well as helping to re–envision the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel, among many other accomplishments in comic books is something to be amazed by, and make no mistake–Jim Lee’s artwork is nothing short of amazing. In 6DE at 4:30 “DC Focus: Jim Lee,” brings the most in demand artist in the industry, now a co–publisher of DC Entertainment, to showcase his new looks for some of the World’s Greatest Superheroes. Then, join Lee Sunday at 3 in 28DE to see how the master himself works in “Drawing with Jim Lee.”
So wait, Peter now never existed?!...
Fans of Fringe are still reeling and scratching their noggins from the wildest twist in the series’ history, and that’s a hard feat to pull off considering this show is about alternate Earths who are at war with one another because a scientist lost his son to an illness in 1985 and then kidnapped the alternate version of that son in what became a successful attempt to save him from the same fate but caused dangerous rips within the fabric of reality. Phew — lot going on, no? Trust me that sentence makes perfect sense to fans of the show, who will no doubt pack Ballroom 20 at 4:30PM to hang out with series stars, Lance Reddick, Jasika Nicole, John Noble, and Anna Torv to preview the third season DVD and the upcoming season. Hopefully we’ll get some clue as to what happened to Peter (played by Joshua Jackson), who is still on the show, despite seemingly no longer existing.
Yes, he IS supposed to be here today…
Almost twenty years ago, Kevin Smith became a household name in fanboy circles. The creator of the ViewAskewniverse, as well as writer of the excellent “Daredevil: Guardian Devil” and “Green Arrow: Quiver” comic books is coming to Comic-Con for his annual “Early Evening with Kevin Smith,” at 5:45 in Hall H, where the director will bring his usual anything goes Q&A to the Con. Nothing will be off–limits here, and trust me get to this one early if you want a seat.
Debunking all kinds of hokum since 2003…
Adam Savage, Jamie Hyneman, and the rest of their team have worlds of fun at their job – being Mythbusters! The group will be at Room 6BCF at 7:45 for their annual Saturday panel, discussing what myths are being trounced in the show’s tenth season.
Now’s your chance to catch some of the panels you missed…
I’m sure you spent a great deal of time agonizing over which panels to go see and which panels had to fall by the wayside of your schedule. Let’s face it; no one can see it all at Comic-Con. But that’s why at 8PM in Room 25ABC will be a three–hour marathon of all of the best panels from Hall H and Ballroom 20!
Sookies everywhere, along with Fetts, Elves, and Robots of all universes…
True Blood is definitely an obsession of many a TV junkie, and Comic-Con is giving the fans of the show a vampire-inspired Masquerade Ball. So get your Merlotte outfits, Fett suits, and white Rogue hair streaks on and head to Ballroom 20, 5AB, or 6A, for the whole fangbangin’ party, starting at 8:30 and judged by writer/artists, Phil and Kaja Foglio.
Here we have Fox's latest offerings for the 2011/2012 season. Yesterday afternoon they presented these trailers of all their new series including the sitcom from No Strings Attached screenwriter Liz Meriwether and the highly anticipated J.J. Abrams project, Alcatraz. We've got all the new material here and we'll give you the details, a little opinion and some video for you to take a look for yourself.
Starring: Zooey Deschanel, Jake Johnson
Basics: Jess is an adorable, goofy girl going through a breakup and living with three young dudes. Clearly, things are going to get a little crazy and probably a little cute.
Potential: Pretty Good
Why: Zooey Deschanel is adorable, Jake Johnson was an enjoyable part of creator Liz Meriwether's rom-com hit, No Strings Attached, and her biting, goofy humor is refreshing. Here's hoping the charm lasts past the first episode.
I Hate My Teenage Daughter
Starring: Jamie Pressley, Kate Finneran
Basics: Two single moms struggle to raise their bratty, over-privileged, misbehaved teenage daughters.
Why: To be blunt, this almost looks like a fake sitcom they'd put in a movie to demonstrate how ridiculous TV sitcoms can be. Jamie Pressley is likable and I want to enjoy her on this show, but it's simply taking an awful phenomenon -- the friend-mom -- which breeds awful behavior and making obtuse jokes about it. Let's hope for Pressley's sake that this trailer is no indication of the actual show, because if it is, she should start looking for a new job.
Starring: Sarah Jones, Jorge Garcia, Sam Neill
Basics: Detective Rebecca Madsen is assigned to a grisly homicide case and finds the clues connecting her to former Alcatraz inmates all of whom disappeared when they were meant to be relocated almost 100 years ago, but of course being that this is a show from J.J. Abrams, that's really only the tip of the iceberg and the mystery will just get more and more complicated from there.
Why:It's a J.J. Abrams mystery show that centers on one of the most notorious and mystified prisons in the world. As long as the writing and the mystery stay strong, I see no reason this show won't catch on. We're pretty psyched.
Starring: Jon Heder, Efren Ramirez, Tina Majorino
Basics: It's a cartoon replica of the film complete with the original cast as voice actors. Barf.
Why: There's a reason we all stopped making Napoleon Dynamite jokes five years ago: it got old. I honestly have no idea why anyone at Fox thought this was a good idea. I give it one episode. Then again, American Dad is the black sheep of the Seth MacFarlane shows and that does just fine.
Starring: Jason O'Mara, Stephen Lang
Basics: A family journeys back to Prehistoric times as part of a mission to save the human race.
Potential: Pretty Good
Why: This show has some serious potential, especially with a producer like Steven Spielberg behind it (who's got his hand in a lot of television these days), but my only worry is that after creating so much hype after several delays, it won't live up to the anticipation. For now, this trailer looks pretty epic, we'll just have to wait and see how the adventure unfolds.
Starring: Jonah Hill, French Stewart, Will Forte
Basics: An over-privileged, over-educated, stuck up 7 year-old starts public school for the first time. Of course, he has a hard time fitting in.
Why: For one thing, the show has a big name behind it (Hill) and Fox seems to do well with animated series; however, Allen Gregory is incredibly unlikable from what this trailer shows. The show will have to find its endearing side if they want audiences to latch onto this character, or flesh out the other screwed up folks the way Family Guy does. We'll give it some time.
Starring: Geoff Stults, Michael Clarke Duncan
Basics: This Bones spinoff gets a setup from the stars of the show that inspired it and finds an Iraq war vet (Stults) who, after an explosion, wakes up from a coma with a heightened ability to locate missing people and things; hence the name, The Finder.
Potential: Pretty good
Why: This show isn't really my bag, but it feels extremely similar to Bones with a tad of extra sex appeal. I think fans will have no trouble adding this show to their weekly repertoire.
Forget Black Swan – Natalie Portman’s real crowning performance is to be found in the romantic comedy No Strings Attached in which director Ivan Reitman asks her to convey sincere unqualified affection for Ashton Kutcher. Portman much to her credit gamely complies and though she may not have the emaciated figure bloody nails and bandaged ankles to tell of her labors the psychic scars must no doubt be just as severe.
Exhibiting strong chick-flick leanings and a rambunctious soft-R comic tone (i.e. lots of F-bombs some menstrual humor and a few shots of Kutcher’s naked ass) No Strings Attached is built around a basic relationship role-reversal: The dude Adam (Kutcher) longs for a deeper lasting commitment; the chick Emma (Portman) insists on keeping matters purely physical. Emma’s motive is a practical one: As a doctor-to-be her busy residency schedule with its 80-hour work weeks and intensive exam preparations precludes a serious relationship. But alas a woman has certain needs (foreplay apparently not being among them) and who better to fulfill them than Kutcher’s non-threatening boy-toy?
Thus a “friends with benefits” arrangement is cemented whereupon the ripcord is to be pulled on the occasion that either of them develops stronger feelings. This does not last long for soon Adam is cloyingly lobbying for escalation. Emma demurs – not out of disinterest we are told but because she’s intimacy-averse and afraid of a broken heart. Why else would she resist a more permanent attachment to someone like Adam?
Perhaps it’s because Adam as played by Kutcher is about as interesting as cabbage. And yet No Strings Attached would have us believe he’s some kind of floppy-haired Albert Schweitzer. This despite the fact that his greatest aspiration in life is to join the writing staff of a High School Musical-esque television series the shallow inanity of which is one of the film’s recurring jokes. In vain support of his cause the filmmakers decorate Adam’s apartment with various props – vintage posters books about 1920s movies a guitar that is occasionally picked up but never actually played – that hint at a depth that Kutcher himself never manifests.
Still Portman sells us on Adam and Emma’s inevitable union with every ounce of her not inconsiderable talent. (And her comic chops are legit – as those who’ve glimpsed her appearances on SNL and Funny or Die can attest.) But she asks too much. And Elizabeth Meriweather’s script while witty and stocked with some keen observations on the evolving nature of relationships in the modern age becomes weighed down by sentiment unbecoming an R-rated comedy not directed by Judd Apatow. In the end Kutcher seals the increasingly contrived deal with the climactic line “I’m warning you: Come one step closer and I’m never letting you go ” (I’m paraphrasing but not loosely) by which time the film's already lost its grip.