Last year director Garry Marshall hit upon a devilishly canny approach to the romantic comedy. A more polished refinement of Hal Needham’s experimental Cannonball Run method it called for assembling a gaggle of famous faces from across the demographic spectrum and pairing them with a shallow day-in-the-life narrative packed with gobs of gooey sentiment. A cynical strategy to be sure but one that paid handsome dividends: Valentine’s Day earned over $56 million in its opening weekend surpassing even the rosiest of forecasts. Buoyed by the success Marshall and his screenwriter Katherine Fugate hastily retreated to the bowels of Hades to apply their lucrative formula to another holiday historically steeped in romantic significance and New Year’s Eve was born.
Set in Manhattan on the last day of the year New Year’s Eve crams together a dozen or so canned scenarios into one bloated barely coherent mass of cliches. As before Marshall’s recruited an impressive ensemble of minions to do his unholy bidding including Oscar winners Hilary Swank Halle Berry and Robert De Niro the latter luxuriating in a role that didn’t require him to get out of bed. High School Musical’s Zac Efron is paired up with ‘80s icon Michelle Pfeiffer – giving teenage girls and their fathers something to bond over – while Glee’s Lea Michele meets cute with a pajama-clad Ashton Kutcher. There’s Katherine Heigl in a familiar jilted-fiance role Sarah Jessica Parker as a fretful single mom and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as the most laid-back cop in New York. Sofia Vergara and Hector Elizondo mine for cheap laughs with thick accents – his fake and hers real – and Jessica Biel and Josh Duhamel deftly mix beauty with blandness. Fans of awful music will delight in the sounds of Jon Bon Jovi straining against type to play a relevant pop musician.
The task of interweaving the various storylines is too great for Marshall and New Year’s Eve bears the distinct scent and stain of an editing-room bloodbath with plot holes so gaping that not even the brightest of celebrity smiles can obscure them. But that’s not the point – it never was. You should know better than to expect logic from a film that portrays 24-year-old Efron and 46-year-old Parker as brother-and-sister without bothering to explain how such an apparent scientific miracle might have come to pass. Marshall wagers that by the time the ball drops and the film’s last melodramatic sequence has ended prior transgressions will be absolved and moviegoers will be content to bask in New Year's Eve's artificial glow. The gambit worked for Valentine's Day; this time he may not be so fortunate.
The fourth season of Nurse Jackie is gearing up to welcome some pretty formidable patients to All Saints' Hospital. One of whom will be film, stage and television veteran Joel Grey, who might well be most famous for his Master of Ceremonies role in the 1972 film Cabaret. Grey will be joining Edie Falco and the rest of the Showtime series' cast on a an episode in the fourth season, playing a patient suffering from dementia. Grey is inequivocally skilled in both comedic and dramatic acting, so it's hard his appearance could lean either way, especially considering the comedic and dramatic balance on which Nurse Jackie prides itself. The Showtime series will return to television in 2012. -TVLine
Jennie Garth will be stepping out of the bounds of the 90210 zipcode to take a stab at her own comedy series: ABC has cast the former Kelly Taylor as the lead in a new sitcom Village People. Garth's character will be a business-minded executive named Alexa who takes on the responsibility of caring for an "at risk" teen mother and her infant child, eventually adopting the infant. The very nature of this series has drama written all over it, so it's especially interesting that the show is dubbed a comedy. -Deadline
Ashley Tisdale is known for her very musical high school education. Of course, she also had a brief shot at college on Hellcats. But now, she's ready for parenthood. The High School Musical star will appear on an episode of Fox's dramedy, Raising Hope. In your classic TV romance scheme, Tisdale will pose as a fake girlfriend for protagonist Jimmy Chance (Lucas Neff) in an effort to make his love interest Sabrina (Shannon Woodward) jealous. Raising Hope airs Tuesday nights at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on Fox. -EW
Every great mind eventually meets its match and accordingly, this upcoming guest appearance on Fox's House is being slated as the showdown of the the century. Film actor Jeffrey Wright (celebrated especially for his roles in The Manchurian Candidate and Angels in America) will find his way to the New Jersey-based hospital to challenge and possibly dismiss Dr. House's (Hugh Laurie) authority. Apparently, Wright's character will be a famed neurosurgeon who has some kind of student-teacher relationship with Dr. House's associate, Dr. Foreman (Omar Epps). What will come of this titanic clash, we cannot say, but there will definitely be some damage. House airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox. -TVLine