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When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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True love: something that for a long time seemed only reserved for fairytales — until ABC's The Bachelor and The Bachelorette series came around. Finally! Regular people (who are very attractive and vetted through a long and involved casting process) could find fairytale love! Love that was real and true, just like in the movies!
...at least, that's what we all hoped. But, it turns out, televised matchmaking doesn't work out so well. The Bachelor/Bachelorette couples who remain happy in love are in the minority (to say the least), and the recent breakups of Jef Holm and Emily Maynard as well as Ben Flainjk and Courtney Robertson are just icing on the cake. Who would've thought, right? How is it possible that hand-picked attractive people from around the country going on extravagant dates can't find true love over the course of six weeks? It's shocking, really.
Don't believe us? Check out the numbers and über-fancy statistics, below.
The Bachelor Relationship Rundown
Bachelor Season 1:
Alex Michel and Amanda Marsh — Broke up after 10 months. The beginning of the reinvention of love.
Bachelor Season 2:
Aaron Buerge and Helene Eksterowicz -— Broke up 5 weeks after the finale. Woops.
Bachelor Season 3:
Andrew Firestone and Jen Schefft — Broke up 7 months after the finale. No spare tires for this relationship!
Bachelor Season 4:
Bob Guiney and Estella Gardinier — Broke up 1 month after the finale. What about Bob, indeed!
Bachelor Season 5:
Jesse Palmer and Jessica Bowlin — Broke up 1 month after the finale. It's hard to make a relationship work when your names are THAT similar.
Bachelor Season 6:
Byron Velvick and Mary Delgado — Broke up after 5 years. They became engaged in November 2004 and, while they did endure some domestic squabbles, they didn't officially end their relationship until December 2009.
Bachelor Season 7:
Charlie O'Connell and Sarah Brice — Broke up after two attempts at making it work: May 2005 - September 2007 (28 months), then again November 2008 - April 2010 (19 months). Total: 47 months together; certainly nothing to balk at!
Bachelor Season 8:
Travis Stork and Sarah Stone — Broke up after 1 month, probably because of all the stork jokes.
Bachelor Season 9:
Lorenzo Borghese and Jennifer Wilson — Broke up after 2 months, which makes zero sense because this guy was A REAL-LIFE PRINCE so, like, Happily Ever After was guaranteed, I thought! Isn't that in the Ye Olde Royal Contract?
Bachelor Season 10:
Andy Baldwin and Tessa Horst — Broke up after 4 months. Guess he wasn't a total Baldwin.
Bachelor Season 11:
Brad Womack chose NO ONE because he hates everyone.
Bachelor Season 12:
Matt Grant and Shayne Lamas — Broke up after 2 months. Lorenzo Lamas reportedly weeped for years.
Bachelor Season 13:
Jason Mesnick and Melissa Rycroft — Broke up at the reunion.
Jason Mesnick and Molly Malaney — Got together at the reunion (yikes!) and married in February 2010. They're still together and expecting a baby! Mazel!
Bachelor Season 14:
Jake Pavelka and Vienna Girardi — Broke up after 3 months, and were totally casual and not-at-all mean about it (haha just kidding it was the ugliest break-up on TV maybe ever)!
Bachelor Season 15:
Brad Womack and Emily Maynard — Released an official "we broke up" statement after 3 months (though reports say it ended much earlier).
Bachelor Season 16:
Ben Flajnik and Courtney Robertson — Broke up after 7 months, when Ben realized that the entire planet really didn't like his decision-making skills..
And the Bachelorettes — How Did the Ladies Fare?
Bachelorette Season 1:
Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter — Married for 8 years and counting! With kids! What a bunch of weirdos.
Bachelorette Season 2:
Meredith Phillips and Ian McKee — Broke up after 1 year. Does anyone remember this season?
Bachelorette Season 3:
Jen Schefft and Jerry Ferris — Broke up 3 weeks after he proposed. Woops!
Bachelorette Season 4:
DeAnna Pappas and Jesse Csincsak — Broke up after 4 months, probably because Jesse's last name was really hard to spell.
Bachelorette Season 5:
Jillian Harris and Ed Swiderski — Broke up after 1 year, probably because she was Canadian.
Bachelorette Season 6:
Ali Fedotowsky and Roberto Martinez — Broke up after 15 months. And, somehow, Roberto did not become the next Bachelor (sorry, Sean Lowe, sure you'll be great).
Bachelorette Season 7:
Ashley Hebert and JP Rosenbaum — Engaged with plans to marry (on live TV! The way it was meant to be done, obviously) in December of this year after 14 months. Hooray for them!
Bachelorette Season 8:
Emily Maynard and Jef Holm — Broke up after 5 months and lots of marionette fights.
Failed relationships: not just for the normals anymore! So what have we learned from all of this? Well, namely it seems like Brad Womack has a terrible track record but loves television. And so does his second-go-around winner/ex-fiancée, Emily Maynard. (Maybe those two crazy kids were meant for each other after all!)
After compiling the numbers and doing a little bit of Bill Clinton's favorite thing (no, not ladies — dirty minds, all of you!), arithmetic, we have put together this handy guide for understanding love, Bachelorstyle.
Here Are Some Fancy Math Facts:
Mean Length of Relationships:13.6 months
Median Length of Relationships:4 months
Mode Length of Relationships:1 month
Analysis:So while the marriages and successes may have thrown us off a bit (13.6 months: what are these people, monogamists?), it generally seems to be that 4 is every bachelor and bachelorette's lucky number. Unless they're one of the five couples who only like quickie, one-month-long relationships.
It seems that the one thing we cantake away from this is that we, as a nation, need to completely rethink our definition of "true love." Obviously, these very attractive and well-groomed pseudo-celebrities know what true love is: they were on a TV show and are good-looking! Duh! So, maybe we should reevaluate what true love really means. If all of these love experts have relationships with an average shelf-life of 1 - 4 months, maybe that's how long true love really lasts! Maybe we've been fooled all of this time by the movies, the Disney princesses, the happily ever afters. Maybe true love can only last a brief period of time (I mean, forever is like, so many years).
[Photo Credit: ABC]
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On Sunday night, Emily Maynard spurned Arie Luyendyk Jr. after choosing — and eventually getting engaged to — Jef Holm. Of course, the contestant didn't go out without a fight — or, at least, a savvy public relations move. Not only were audience members invited to sympathize with Luyendyk after watching Maynard publicly cut ties on The Bachelorette finale, but he also was given the opportunity to confront the Bachelorette again during the live After The Final Rose special.
Ardent Bachelor fans might have found the scene familiar. Just last summer, after Bachelorette Ashley Hebert dumped Ben Flajnik, we watched his tearful confrontation with her during the After the Final Rose. But we couldn't completely pity the rejected contestant. After all, Flajnik became The Bachelor. But is ABC planning to groom Maynard's sloppy seconds to become the next Bachelor, just like they did with Ben? Or will the network opt for a different — and perhaps more surprising — choice? And how does the network even choose the next Bachelor? Former Bachelorette winner Jesse Csincsak weighs in on the secrets of the network's selection process, and helps us evaluate the odds. Arie Luyendyk, Jr.
The spurned contestant seems like he would be a good fit (those sappy journal entries!), but based on his career path, Csincsak thinks the race car driver isn't ABC's front-runner for the post. "Arie is almost the perfect candidate because he's got the career already," Csincsak tells Hollywood.com. "He could do a lot for his career as a race car driver by making himself a household name, sponsor-wise, than any of these other guys. [But] the network probably knows that and that's probably why he's not at the top of their list. They will probably go with these other guys who potentially don't have the money to be made off of it like [Luyendyk] does." Like, for example... Roberto Martinez Bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky's ex-fiance Roberto Martinez may actually have a leg up on Luyendyk, despite his absence from ABC's rose-filled reality series since he walked away engaged to Fedotowsky in 2010. "Roberto would be good because that guy is legit — he is really there for love," Csincsak says. "I'm not saying Arie and the others aren't — but, he's always been this down-to-earth, normal guy. That's why I think he would make such a good Bachelor."
But what if Martinez would rather put his reality TV days behind him? Well, then look to the most popular men in ABC's reality school. As Csincsak says, the series looks first and foremost at likeability. "It all goes off of ratings," Jesse says. "They get on the message boards, and they will see which guy is being talked about being the next Bachelor and which guy has the most ratings. When we came off of my season, Jason Mesnick had like 700,000 posts about him and Jeremy had 20,000, so it was a no brainer," Jesse adds. "He had seven times the amount of comments about him, so they made him the next Bachelor." Also working in Martinez's favor: While it seems that most runner-ups are shoe-ins for the job (see: Mesnick and Flajnik), others have won the title after getting eliminated from The Bachelorette much earlier. Bob Guiney, who was The Bachelor of Season 4, was a contestant on Trista Sutter's season of The Bachelorette. He made it only three episodes before she sent him home. Jake Pavelka survived six episodes on Jillian Harris' season before he got to headline his own show in Season 14. And, just as Martinez booking the gig would be a different selection — as the winner of his season — Brad Womack also had enjoyed a unique run in the franchise, nabbing a chance to star after walking away from his first season single.
But who's slightly below Martinez on the popularity scale?
Should Martinez not accept the job, Csincsak predicts that Sean Lowe from Maynard's season would be the network's second choice, with Luyendyk falling in third. As Csincsak says, "Whenever you look at someone, the first thing that your brain reacts upon is visual appeal" — and Lowe certainly has the look that the producers have in mind. Of course, a Bachelor would have to "be able to make good television," according to Csincsak — and based on Sean's popularity at the Men Tell All special, it seems like he could fit the bill.
The Wildcard? Unfortunately for those of you aching for change, based on history, it doesn't seem likely ABC will choose a random contestant for the next season of The Bachelor. "I would say the chances are in the single digit percentile," Csincsak says. "They use to: They did Prince Lorenzo Borghese, and Jesse Palmer was pro football player. Those were the good old days. Now, all they are doing is rolling one into the next." (Out of the previous 16 Bachelor seasons, 10 stars were new to the franchise. But what about the criticism (and lawsuit) surrounding the fact that The Bachelor has televised 16 white-washed seasons (and eight seasons of The Bachelorette)? And the grassroots support for Lamar Hurd, the charming sportscaster hoping to bring diversity to the series? Cscinsak thinks the selection of a non-white Bachelor could seem disingenuous following the lawsuit, which was filed in April. "[The series] would do more damage to their PR image at this point by trying to all of a sudden bring someone in," Csincsak says. "That would do more damage than good."
Plus, ABC is better-served choosing a Bachelor America already knows and loves, rather than taking a gamble on a new, and possibly obnoxious, star. (Let the viewers hate the familiar after the season finishes!) "America has got to love you," Csincsak says. "That's the most important. That's 70 percent of how they pick you. You have to be professional whether you're an athlete or a TV personality. If they can have a guy that America loves, fans are going to tune in no matter what happens on the show." So who will be the next Bachelor? Only time will tell... More: Jef Holmes Childhood Home for Sale 'Bachelorette' Finale: Emily Maynard and Jef Holm Are Engaged 'Bachelorette' Finale Recap: Emily Maynard and Jef Holm =? Bachelor question
Oscar-winning producer and director Steven Spielberg announced Monday that he is stepping down from his position as an advisory board member of the Boy Scouts of America.
"The last few years in scouting have deeply saddened me to see the Boy Scouts of America actively and publicly participating in discrimination. It's a real shame," Spielberg said from a prepared statement.
"I thought the Boy Scouts stood for equal opportunity and I have consistently spoken out publicly and privately against intolerance and discrimination based on ethnic, religious, racial and sexual orientation."
Spielberg did not specifically name which "intolerance and discrimination" he was referring to. In June, the Supreme Court ruled that the Boys Scouts' national policy banning gay members and leaders is constitutional and would be allowed to continue.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force applauded Spielberg for his resignation.
"We'd like to thank Steven Spielberg for recognizing the bigotry that the Boy Scouts' policy has been perpetuating," said Elizabeth Toledo, the NGLTF executive director. "This issue won't go away for the Boy Scouts. Through actions like these, they will be forced to revisit [their policies]."
The Boy Scouts also thanked Spielberg.
"We respect his decision to decline another term," said Jef Reilly, the group's national spokesperson. "Mr. Spielberg's been great for scouting and we appreciate his years of service and his devotion to scouting."
Reilly defended the Boy Scouts' stance against gays.
"We're not discriminating against anyone," he said. "It's all about values, and [homosexuality] is not something that is conducive to our values and morals as a private organization. Some people call it discrimination, but really it goes back to values.
"Homosexuals are not proper role models for our organization."
Spielberg, the director of The Color Purple, Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan, remains steadfast in his beliefs.
"Once scouting fully opens its doors to all who desire the same experience that so fully enriched me as a young person, I will be happy to reconsider a role on the advisory board," he said.
Spielberg attained the rank of Eagle Scout, which less than 4 percent of all Boy Scouts ever achieve. Other notable Eagle Scouts include former president Gerald Ford, former Senators Bill Bradley, Sam Nunn and Lloyd Bensen, Olympian Willie Banks, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Harris Salsbury.
Spielberg had been on the advisory board for about 10 years, according to his publicist, Marvin Levy.
In related news, Universal Studios said Monday that it extended its international theatrical and worldwide home video distribution deal with Spielberg's DreamWorks SKG for five years. This after the expected arrangement with Warner Bros. didn't materialize with the 6-year-old entertainment company.
DreamWorks will receive $250 million in the form of a loan and an advance against future revenue as part of the deal, sources reported. DreamWorks, which is approximately $1 billion in debt, will use the infusion to pay down its liabilities and for production financing.
When contacted, Universal officials declined to comment on the financial details of its deal.
Universal essentially matched an offer that Warner Bros. parent AOL Time Warner was prepared to make with the studio, which was formed in 1994 by Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. Although the Warner Bros. agreement was close to being finalized, there were sticking points, such as home video, that remained unresolved as of late last week.
The DreamWorks partners had been shopping their distribution deal since last year all over Hollywood, hoping that one of the major media companies would agree to take equity in their company. None of the parties, including Viacom-owned Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Co. and News Corp.-owned 20th Century Fox, stepped up to the plate.
Heading into the weekend, Warner Bros. appeared to have the inside track. But, to the apparent surprise of Warner Bros. executives, lawyers for DreamWorks and Universal quietly hammered out a deal by late Sunday evening.
Before co-founding DreamWorks, Spielberg made some of his biggest hits for Universal, including Jaws and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.
Warner Bros. continues to have a strong relationship with DreamWorks, with which it is co-financing and distributing two movies: the Spielberg-directed A.I. starring Jude Law and Haley Joel Osment, which is due out June 29, and Time Machine, which is before the cameras.