Vampires, Upper East Siders, Broadway beauties and suburbanites. There’s scoop on all these characters and more in this week’s edition of Leanne’s Spoiler List. So let’s get to it! I’ve got details on the Smashing plans for a new musical, chatted with the stars of Fringe about some mind-altering moments, and previewed tomorrow night’s premiere of The Vampire Diaries. Plus, dish on some hilarious upcoming moments on Suburgatory and Happy Endings and the return of a Gossip Girl rival! Go ahead and read on. You know you want to.
1. Smash: A New Twist for Season 2!
The Season 2 premiere of Smash is far, far away. We still have to get through candy, costumes, cranberry sauce, crazy family get-togethers and Christmas before we’re reunited with our beloved musical drama. Luckily, Emmy award-winning choreographer Joshua Bergasse was kind enough to spill some major secrets to me about the new season. Emphasis on the new, people! “As great as the first season was, we can’t repeat it. We have to try new things, so we’re trying a bunch of new ideas.” Bergasse explains, “New characters are getting musical numbers, we’re using some special effects and we’re using television and the technology a little bit more this season.” Of course there is one new thing that is the most exciting of all: a new musical!
In addition to “Bombshell," Smash will be featuring another Broadway bound show, and I was able to shimmy some details out of this choreographer. He reveals, “Of course we’ve got Marc [Shaiman] and Scott [Wittman] writing great songs again and then we have a bunch of new song writers…They’re writing contemporary, downtown songs for this show. So the choreography is a little grungier, a little edgier and it’s a whole new area for us.” Keeping with the show’s ultra-competitive rift between Karen (Katharine McPhee) and Ivy (Megan Hilty), Bergasse hints that it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if some of our core characters would be drawn to the spotlight in this new show. “I can only say this: Smash is inherently about the battle between those two women and so whether they are battling over that or they’re battling over something else, they’re going to be battling. I can assure you that.” Hell hath no fury like a Marilyn scorned!
2. Gossip Girl: Guess Who’s Back?!It’s time for a blast from our Constance past! One of the few (hundred) people that Blair (Leighton Meester) has victimized over the past five seasons is back. And honey, she’s going all Emily Thorne on Blair’s behind, because she wants revenge. (Cross-network references FTW!) While Gossip Girl has made me swear upon all that glitters not to reveal who she is, the blogger didn’t say anything about dropping a few one-liners to help you guess.
The mystery Upper East Sider tells Blair. “I still have nightmares about nartinis and yogurt bombs. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night shouting, ‘Tights are not pants!’” Okay, okay, fine you’ve twisted the cashmere scarf around my neck tight enough. It’s Nellie Yuki! How and when this smarty pants makes her return is something I’m keeping hush-hush, but I will say this: Nellie and Dan (Penn Badgley) share a sweet and slightly sad moment together. Oh and she’s got a Dior bag that would gladly trade my apartment for.
3. Suburgatory: Roo’s and Romance!The new season of Suburgatory starts next Wednesday and now that I’ve watched the premiere, I’m happy to say it definitely won’t disappoint! After spending the summer at her grandma’s in NYC, Tessa (Jane Levy) is desperately trying to find a way to feel a connection to her MIA mama (who we now know will be played by Malin Akerman later this season!) So Tessa decides to enter the Chatswin talent show—aka the Fall Follies—and those who love the show’s beyond catchy theme-song will be quite pleased. Also here’s your Royce Pet Update: No sign of Yakult, but Dalia’s (Carly Chaikin) amazing kangaroo makes a brief appearance. Bonus fun fact: 'Roos love Red Vines.Now let’s fast-forward to episode ten of the season. Yes, I know it’s a bit far away, but this scoop is so juicy that I just have to share it: Tessa’s getting a fella! Oh and not just any fella, a football player. We’ve met him, he’s hilarious and also equal parts sweet and slightly stupid. Fans, you know exactly which ab-tastic guy I’m talking about. Anyways, now that Tessa has a new beau, she is introduced to the “Football Girlfriends”—Think Stepford Wives but with a peppy cheerleader twist—and she quickly realizes that baking cookies is not just a way to pass the time, it’s a way of life.4. Fringe: LSD in 2036?Things have been pretty dark this season on Fringe — the world has been taken over, Walter's brain was scrambled due to Observer torture, and the food tastes like crap. But according to Jasika Nicole, some fun may be found via a certain substance that has stood the test of time in Walter's lab. "There is a scene where we are in his lab, and he has all these secret hiding places. 'We’re like, 'How does this last for 20-something years??' I won’t say anything more about it because it’s pretty funny... He’s got a lot of secret hiding places. John Noble laughed when we asked him for further detail, but didn't deny that a little somethin' somethin' was going down. "There is a little case of something or other [in the lab]. I think you know what it is, that's why you asked the question! But… I think you'll find a case of something down there. It's twenty years old, but…" I bet it still does the trick!5. Happy Endings: Jobless and Power-Hungry! If Happy Endings doesn’t make you happy, then I’m not sure we would get along. To me, this show has everything. And by everything I mean a group of friends who hang out, get into shenanigans and also throws the occasional love interest into the mix. Plus any show that includes pajoveralls, invisible hula-hooping and the one-liner, “What’s up skanks?! Wheeeee! Ugh, I’m fat,” is perfection in my book. I caught up with Eliza Coupe and Damon Wayans Jr. on their set a few weeks ago, and the sexually charged duo teased what’s coming up for their characters this season. Wayans says “I like the fact that Brad is unemployed right now. He’s having a lot more fun, he gets to wear a lot less suits and he’s just having a grand-old time.”This grand old-time includes hanging out with our favorite lazy-man Max (Adam Pally), and learning how to get the most out of life, without paying for it. And as for Jane? Coupe says that Jane could not be more thrilled to be the new breadwinner in the relationship. “She gets to do the whole type-A personality thing which is to work and take control.” Jane finds that her super-intense personality shines when she is accepts a job as a car salesman and Coupe says that hilarity is sure to ensue, “There has been a lot of things going down at that dealership, a lot of weird things. There’s been some animals involved…It’s just a lot of her wanting to be one of the guys too, and seeing how that pans out.” I’m sure it’s going to be amahzing. 6. The Vampire Diaries: Transitions and Triangles!Tomorrow night is the season premiere of The Vampire Diaries and putting it lightly, it’s a heart-stopping 48 minutes of absolutely intense perfection. Watching Elena (Nina Dobrev) come to terms with the fact that she is now “dead…ish” makes you feel all of her heightened emotions in such a short amount of time. I’m pretty sure I blacked out for a good five minutes because I didn’t breathe at all during one scene in particular: Elena choosing whether or not to transition. Oh and as for all those memories that she was compelled to forget? (cough*Damon*cough) Get excited because not only does Elena remember them, she relives them! Not to worry Stelena fans, Elena and Stefan (Paul Wesley) share some truly beautiful moments together in an unexpected place. Kat Graham teases that this premiere is one that fans should be beyond excited to see. The actress says, “The first episode back, that was the hardest episode for me to shoot so far, it was so intense. After that I mean it really sets the standard so everything just gets bigger and better from there.” It’s true. After watching the second episode, it’s safe to say that the fourth season of The Vampire Diaries is unlike anything fans have seen before. Graham agrees saying, “The whole season is like a transition into a lot of it into a new ways of living, a new life for all of them. There is so much sadness and heartbreak and change and it’s so uncomfortable and you’ll see that you’ll se everyone trying to avoid it.” But they can only avoid their grief for so long. By the end of the second episode you’ll see the Mystic Falls gang address all that they’ve lost over the past three years and the result is a chilling (and slightly tear-inducing) scene.What are you most looking forward to on the new season of The Vampire Diaries? Excited to see the return of Nellie Yuki on Gossip Girl? Intrigued by the new musical on Smash? Wish you had a pet kangaroo like Dalia, too? Of course you do! Share your thoughts in the comments below! Follow Leanne on Twitter @LeanneAguilera—Additional reporting by Shaunna Murphy.[Photo Credit: ABC, NBC, The CW, FOX]MORE: Leanne’s Spoiler List: Is There a New Love Triangle on 'The Vampire Diaries'? Leanne's Spoiler List: Will There Be Another Death on 'Revenge'? Leanne’s Spoiler List: What's Next for Leonard and Penny on 'Big Bang Theory'?
In the 2006 animated blockbuster Happy Feet an alienated emperor penguin named Mumbles found empowerment through tap-dancing and in so doing managed to both attract a mate and stop the overfishing that imperiled his Antarctic habitat. Directed by George Mitchell – the same George Mitchell who gave us the post-apocalyptic Mad Max trilogy and the almost despairingly bleak Babe: Pig in the City – Happy Feet paired its broadly conventional narrative with a darker sensibility not often seen in talking-animal fare.
The film’s sequel Happy Feet Two finds Mitchell (co-directing with Gary Eck) both more jovial and more easily distracted. The story begins straightforwardly enough with Mumbles (Elijah Wood) now grown-up and by all appearances well-adjusted ceding the mantle of self-discovery to his son Erik (Ava Acres). Boogie fever has swept the once dance-averse penguin nation but in a cruelly ironic twist Erik has inherited none of his father’s nifty moves. But just as Happy Feet Two appears intent on recycling its predecessor’s basic storyline the film abruptly changes course and embarks on a series of detours that seemed geared more as fodder for throwaway gags and showy set pieces than anything else. The disparate narrative elements while enjoyable in isolation never quite coalesce into a meaningful whole leaving us entertained but unfulfilled.
As before Happy Feet Two features a variety of buoyant song-and-dance numbers with Alecia Moore (aka P!nk) lending her formidable pipes to spirited re-workings of “Rhythm Nation” and “Under Pressure ” among others. Robin Williams returns for double duty as both Ramon a diminutive oversexed Latin lover and Lovelace a fiery Southern-preacher type. (Lovelace later adopts a Rastafarian dialect allowing Williams to achieve the rare culture-caricature trifecta.) His voracious scenery-devouring is all the more impressive given the grandeur of the scenery. Not to be left out of the quasi-Vaudevillian comic shenanigans Hank Azaria lays on a thick Scandinavian shtick as Sven a charismatic Arctic émigré who presents himself as the only penguin in the world who can fly. Azaria is a hoot but the film’s best moments come courtesy of the cast’s highest-profile additions Matt Damon and Brad Pitt voicing Bill and Will (respectively) two tiny krill in search of meaning at the bottom of the food chain.
Thank goodness for literal titles. Otherwise I might be at a loss to ascertain just what exactly Eat Pray Love is about. Had I been without those three guiding verbs I might have suspected it to be about a forlorn earth-bound angel played by Julia Roberts who travels the world eliciting pearls of wisdom from charming impoverished locals in an effort to earn back her wings. It’s certainly the impression conveyed by the film’s director Ryan Murphy who takes great care to ensure that his ethereal star is never without her amber halo as she floats about in a soft-focus glow. Here’s Julia bathed in golden light and slurping up a pile of spaghetti in Italy. Here’s Julia bathed in golden light and meditating at an ashram in India. Here’s Julia bathed in golden light and charming a toothless medicine man in Bali.
In actuality Roberts plays not a fallen seraph but the very human Elizabeth Gilbert upon whose bestselling memoir the film is based. A successful writer Liz is plagued by nagging doubts about her life’s direction which culminate in a terrifying middle-of-the-night realization that she is in fact desperately unhappy and in need of drastic change. Being a proactive gal she takes immediate action dumping her aimless doofus of a husband (Billy Crudup) and taking up with vapid young actor (James Franco). But his chiseled features and new-age aphorisms fail to relieve her existential languor and so she opts for more drastic measures pulling up stakes entirely and embarking on a year-long sojourn abroad in which she eats prays and loves in that precise order in a quest for self-discovery.
It’s a common cliche to say that a certain city or country is a character in a film shot on location but in the case of Eat Pray Love the settings of Italy India and Bali are not only characters they’re the most interesting characters of the entire ensemble. Which says less about the talents of the film’s cinematographer Robert Richardson than it does about the failings of its director and co-writer Murphy. The lone face that manages to stand out among the lackluster crowd is the always sublime Richard Jenkins who plays an unctuous Texan encountered by Roberts’ meandering malcontent during the "pray" portion of her journey. A sort of Hindu Dr. Phil he plies Liz with plain-spoken spiritual advice that helps to finally wrest her from her malaise.
And what exactly is Liz so sad about? Certainly her old life doesn’t appear all that worth mourning a sentiment inadvertently reinforced by flashbacks to difficult moments in her life which frankly appear more awkward than painful. As far as I could tell her principal emotional burdens are: 1) guilt over her entirely reasonable decision to divorce her doofus husband and 2) regret over her other entirely reasonable decision to ditch the vapid actor who never seemed more than just a brisk rebound fling.
If there’s more to Liz than just a pleasant mildly interesting girl faced a few tricky but eminently solvable issues Murphy isn’t able to convey it. (He does however succeed in finding a dozen different ways to photograph a bowl of spaghetti which I suppose is a kind of accomplishment.) Liz’s journey in Eat Pray Love never feels like more than just a lovely vacation the kind of thing usually commemorated in a Facebook photo album to be perused for a few minutes or so certainly not in a massively expensive (an exact budget number is suspiciously difficult to find) enormously tedious two-hour travelogue.
Max Payne started life as a popular 2001 videogame and now the dark dreary material has morphed into feature film that tries to give a back story for the tortured title character. Payne’s (Mark Wahlberg) wife and newborn baby are tragically killed and now Max a DEA agent is involved in the investigation of a series of murders that could provide a link to solving the mystery of his family’s demise. Demons in the form of a winged serpents haunt Max -- but nothing real or imagined will stand in the way of his quest. He teams with a beautiful Russian mobster and assassin Mona Sax (Mila Kunis) whose sister Natasha (Olga Kurylenko) is also killed giving equal reason to seek revenge. Complicating matters is Max’s mentor B.B. (Beau Bridges) an ex-cop who now does security for a large pharmaceutical company which may hold the key to the mystery. Forces -- both real and hidden -- are hard at work to keep Max who is clearly fighting his inner demons from reaching his goal. Wahlberg is earnest and knows how to kickass but the murders of his young wife and baby which is meant to give emotional heft to the character is really not enough to connect us to this guy. Still he does quite nicely in the numerous action scenes and is at home playing a DEA agent. Mila Kunis so appealing in Forgetting Sarah Marshall shows a saucier side here and has great potential as an action mama perhaps the kind of ball-buster Aeon Flux should have been. Olga Kurylenko who is also in the new James Bond film Quantum of Solace is well-used in the few scenes she has and Prison Break’s Amaury Nolasco is convincing as a tough ex-vet who now has drifted into the drug underworld. Beau Bridges has a tricky role he pulls off without tipping the story over while the other Bridges in the film -- rapper-turned-actor Chris “Ludicris” Bridges -- is an Internal Affairs detective who seems to sense something serious going on with Max. John Moore has been clearly influenced by the Matrix and new Batman movies creating a dark and ominous New York City with winged creatures reminiscent of the mythological Valkyrie roaming the grey skies. These creatures are apparently meant to physically represent the tortured thoughts in the mind of Max Payne. This creature feature aspect does not exist in the videogame and it’s an interesting if not entirely plausible addition from the mind of writer Beau Thorne. Moore invests his visuals with equal doses of reality and fantasy in an uneasy mix that has you wondering what’s real and what’s Memorex. Subjective POV camerawork and slow-motion shots sometimes give us the feeling we are watching Matrix but the stylistic touches do seem to be in line with the character’s journey. Moore has laid on the visual effects effortlessly particularly in the creation of the creatures who haunt Payne’s subconscious life.
Based on E.B. White’s enduring children’s story we meet Wilbur the Pig (Dominic Scott Kay) a runt who is saved from the axe by a little farm girl named Fern (Dakota Fanning). She raises Wilbur from infancy but eventually she has to send Wilbur over to her uncle’s neighboring farm since there’s no room for a pig in her house. There in the barn Wilbur meets the assortment of colorful animal characters: Betsy (Reba McEntire) and Bitsy (Kathy Bates) two pessimistic cows; motherly goose Gussy (Oprah Winfrey) and her henpecked hubby Golly (Cedric the Entertainer); Samuel (John Cleese) an uptight sheep; the skittish horse Ike (Robert Redford); the self-serving rat Templeton (Steve Buscemi); and of course sweet Charlotte (Julia Roberts) a spider with a heart of gold. When the naïve Wilbur finds out he might be Christmas dinner Charlotte makes a promise to her new friend that she’ll do everything in her power to make sure Wilbur sees the Christmas snow—and everyone ends up helping her out. What could be more fun than to voice a barnyard animal? Winfrey and Cedric’s geese banter is like an old married couple. Cleese gives Samuel the sheep a certain upper-crustiness. Redford is actually pretty funny as a horse who’s deathly afraid of spiders (“I’ll listen to you but I just can’t look at you”). Buscemi is a particularly nice choice as the sneaky rat Templeton who only thinks about filling his belly with food (no typecasting there we swear). For pure comic relief there are also two crows voiced by Andre Benjamin and Thomas Haden Church who just can’t quite get around the whole scarecrow thing. And as Charlotte Roberts has a truly soothing and loving tone sort of how you’d imagine it from the book. As for the human aspect Fanning continues to do what she does best playing Fern with the right amount of youthful innocence spunkiness and determination. Just wondering how we are going to handle it when this amazing little actress grows up and starts doing like adult things. Actually it is sort of a shame they couldn’t get a live-action version of Charlotte's Web made before Babe. Sure there was the 1973 animated cutesy film but a live-action adaptation of this timeless tale really should have been the standard by which all computer-generated talking farm animal movies would follow don’t you think? Instead Charlotte's Web pales ever so slightly in comparison. Oh well water under the bridge. Director Gary Winick (13 Going on 30) still manages to invoke the wonderful and uplifting spirit of the novel keeping faithful to the text in all ways. Visually the film is crisp and flawless in its execution particularly in the beauty and splendor of how Charlotte spins her webs and emotionally hearts will indeed swell and tears will flow. Charlotte's Web is the perfect family movie to inspire the next generation of young readers and viewers as well as for the rest of us who fondly remember the childhood classic.
Now, we don't make it a habit of quoting the National Enquirer because we're not supposed to believe such things, but this one sure looks legit: Ex-"Ally McBeal" lawyer Courtney Thorne-Smith wed her rocket-scientist beau (well, all right, he's a geneticist) June 2 in Hawaii. We say it looks legit because the Enquirer has pictures of Thorne-Smith wearing a wedding dress, standing next to a guy with a flower in his lapel.
We tried contacting Thorne-Smith's publicist Monday to confirm the nuptials, but no one answered -- much less took -- our calls.
For sure, Thorne-Smith, now 31, announced her engagement to one Andrew Conrad in November 1998.
The actress departed "Ally McBeal" at the end of this past season. She previously checked out of "Melrose Place."