Lions Gate via Everett Collection
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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The pre-votes are in, and we finally have the nominee list for the 2014 People's Choice Awards thanks to the People's Choice blog. And man, oh, man is it a hefty list.
With a total of 58 categories, the awards show covers music, movies, and television with categories from "Favorite Action Movie Star" to "Favorite TV Anti-Hero" to "Favorite TV Bromance." This year's top contenders are Glee (with 8 nods), Katy Perry (5 nods), and Sandra Bullock (5 nods). And don't worry about Bullock's Gravity co-star George Clooney feeling left out — the two of them snagged a nod for "Favorite Duo." (You already know what we think about their magical pairing.)
We've got the entire list of nominees for you... have fun scrolling!
Favorite MovieDespicable Me 2Fast & Furious 6Iron Man 3Monsters UniversityStar Trek Into Darkness
Favorite Movie ActorChanning TatumHugh JackmanJohnny DeppLeonardo DiCaprioRobert Downey Jr.
Favorite Movie ActressGwyneth PaltrowJennifer AnistonMelissa McCarthySandra BullockScarlett Johansson
Favorite Movie DuoChris Pine & Zachary Quinto (Star Trek Into Darkness)Jennifer Aniston & Jason Sudeikis (We’re the Millers)Robert Downey Jr. & Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man 3)Sandra Bullock & George Clooney (Gravity)Sandra Bullock & Melissa McCarthy (The Heat)
Favorite Action MovieFast & Furious 6Iron Man 3Star Trek Into DarknessThe WolverineWorld War Z
Favorite Action Movie StarBrad PittChanning TatumHugh JackmanRobert Downey Jr.Vin Diesel
Favorite Comedic MovieGrown Ups 2The Hangover Part IIIThe HeatInstructions Not IncludedWe’re the Millers
Favorite Comedic Movie ActorAdam SandlerBradley CooperChris RockJames FrancoZach Galifianakis
Favorite Comedic Movie ActressEmma WatsonJennifer AnistonMelissa McCarthySandra BullockScarlett Johansson
Favorite Dramatic MovieCaptain PhillipsGravityThe Great GatsbyLee Daniels’ The ButlerPrisoners
Favorite Dramatic Movie ActorChanning TatumChris HemsworthHugh JackmanLeonardo DiCaprioRyan Gosling
Favorite Dramatic Movie ActressAmy AdamsEmma StoneHalle BerryOprah WinfreySandra Bullock
Favorite Family MovieDespicable Me 2Monsters UniversityOz the Great and PowerfulPercy Jackson: Sea of MonstersThe Smurfs 2
Favorite Horror MovieCarrieThe ConjuringHansel & Gretel: Witch HuntersInsidious: Chapter 2Mama
Favorite Thriller MovieA Good Day to Die HardThe CallNow You See MeRed 2White House Down
Favorite Network TV Comedy2 Broke GirlsThe Big Bang TheoryGleeHow I Met Your MotherModern Family
Favorite Comedic TV ActorChris ColferDarren CrissJesse Tyler FergusonJim ParsonsNeil Patrick Harris
Favorite Comedic TV ActressJane LynchKaley CuocoLea MicheleMelissa McCarthyZooey Deschanel
Favorite Network TV DramaChicago FireThe Good WifeGrey’s AnatomyNashvilleParenthood
Favorite Dramatic TV ActorJim CaviezelJosh CharlesKevin BaconMark HarmonPatrick Dempsey
Favorite Dramatic TV ActressJulianna MarguliesMariska HargitayPauley PerretteSandra OhStana Katic
Favorite Actor in a New TV SeriesAndy SambergJonathan Rhys MeyersJoseph MorganMichael J. FoxRobin Williams
Favorite Actress in a New TV SeriesAllison JanneyAnna FarisMing-Na WenRebel WilsonSarah Michelle Gellar
Favorite TV Crime DramaBonesCastleCriminal MindsThe MentalistNCIS
Favorite Competition TV ShowAmerica’s Got TalentDancing with the StarsMasterChefThe VoiceThe X Factor
Favorite Cable TV ComedyAwkward.Cougar TownHot in ClevelandMelissa & JoeyPsych
Favorite Cable TV DramaDownton AbbeyPretty Little LiarsSons of AnarchyThe Walking DeadWhite Collar
Favorite Premium Cable TV ShowCalifornicationGame of ThronesGirlsHomelandTrue Blood
Favorite Cable TV ActressAngie HarmonClaire DanesCourteney CoxLucy HaleMaggie Smith
Favorite TV Anti-HeroDexter Morgan (Dexter)Jaime Lannister (Game of Thrones)Norman Bates (Bates Motel)Rick Grimes (The Walking Dead)Walter White (Breaking Bad)
Favorite TV BromanceBlaine & Sam (Glee)Ryan & Esposito (Castle)Sam, Dean & Castiel (Supernatural)Sheldon, Leonard, Howard & Raj (The Big Bang Theory)Ted, Marshall & Barney (How I Met Your Mother)
Favorite TV Gal PalsCaroline & Max (2 Broke Girls)Lily & Robin (How I Met Your Mother)Meredith & Cristina (Grey’s Anatomy)Penny, Bernadette & Amy (The Big Bang Theory)Rachel & Santana (Glee)
Favorite On-Screen ChemistryCastle & Beckett (Castle)Damon & Elena (The Vampire Diaries)Derek & Meredith (Grey’s Anatomy)Emma & Hook (Once Upon A Time)Kurt & Blaine (Glee)
Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV ShowBeauty and the BeastOnce Upon A TimeSupernaturalThe Vampire DiariesThe Walking Dead
Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV ActorAndrew LincolnIan SomerhalderJared PadaleckiJensen AcklesStephen Amell
Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV ActressEmilia ClarkeGinnifer GoodwinKristin KruekNina DobrevTatiana Maslany
Favorite TV Movie/MiniseriesAmerican Horror StoryBehind the CandelabraThe BibleSharknadoThe White Queen
Favorite Daytime TV Host(s)Ellen DeGeneresKelly Ripa & Michael StrahanDr. Phil McGrawRachael RaySteve Harvey
Favorite New Talk Show HostArsenio HallBethenny FrankelJenny McCarthyQueen LatifahRoss Mathews
Favorite Late Night Talk Show HostConan O’BrienDavid LettermanJimmy FallonJimmy KimmelStephen Colbert
Favorite Streaming SeriesArrested DevelopmentBetween Two Ferns with Zach GalifianakisHouse of CardsLosing It with John StamosOrange Is the New Black
Favorite Series We Miss Most30 RockBreaking BadDexterFringeThe Office
Favorite New TV ComedyBrooklyn Nine-NineThe Crazy OnesDadsThe GoldbergsThe Michael J. Fox ShowThe MillersMomSean Saves the WorldSuper Fun NightTrophy Wife
Favorite New TV DramaMarvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.BetrayalThe BlacklistDraculaHostagesOnce Upon a Time in WonderlandThe OriginalsReignSleepy HollowThe Tomorrow People
Favorite Male ArtistAviciiBlake SheltonBruno MarsJustin TimberlakeMichael Bublé
Favorite Female ArtistBritney SpearsDemi LovatoKaty PerryP!nkSelena Gomez
Favorite Breakout ArtistAriana GrandeAustin MahoneIcona PopImagine DragonsLorde
Favorite Pop ArtistBritney SpearsBruno MarsDemi LovatoJustin TimberlakeKaty Perry
Favorite Country ArtistThe Band PerryBlake SheltonCarrie UnderwoodLady AntebellumTaylor Swift
Favorite Country Music IconAlan JacksonGeorge StraitTim McGrawToby KeithWillie Nelson
Favorite Hip-Hop ArtistDrakeJay ZKanye WestLil WayneMacklemore & Ryan Lewis
Favorite R&B ArtistAlicia KeysCiaraJustin TimberlakeRihannaRobin Thicke
Favorite BandImagine DragonsMaroon 5One DirectionOneRepublicParamore
Favorite Alternative BandFall Out BoyImagine DragonsMumford & SonsMuseParamore
Favorite SongJust Give Me A Reason (P!nk feat. Nate Ruess)Mirrors (Justin Timberlake)Radioactive (Imagine Dragons)Roar (Katy Perry)When I Was Your Man (Bruno Mars)
Favorite AlbumThe 20/20 Experience (Justin Timberlake)Bangerz (Miley Cyrus)Based on a True Story… (Blake Shelton)Blurred Lines (Robin Thicke)To Be Loved (Michael Bublé)
Favorite Music VideoBest Song Ever (One Direction)Heart Attack (Demi Lovato)Just Give Me A Reason (P!nk feat. Nate Ruess)Roar (Katy Perry)Wrecking Ball (Miley Cyrus)
Favorite Music Fan FollowingBritney Army (Britney Spears)Directioners (One Direction)KatyCats (Katy Perry)Little Monsters (Lady Gaga)Lovatics (Demi Lovato)
We're impressed you read the whole list.
The 40th annual show will be hosted by 2 Broke Girls stars Beth Behrs and Kat Dennings on CBS on Jan. 8 at 9 PM. Final voting ends on Dec. 5.
Robert Zemeckis is a blockbuster director at heart. Action has never been an issue for the man behind Back to the Future. When he puts aside the high concept adventures for emotional human stories — think Forrest Gump or Cast Away — he still goes big. His latest Flight continues the trend revolving the story of one man's fight with alcoholism around a terrifying plane crash. Zemeckis expertly crafts his roaring centerpiece and while he finds an agile performer in Denzel Washington the hour-and-a-half of Flight after the shocking moment can't sustain the power. The "big" works. The intimate drowns.
Washington stars as Whip Whitaker a reckless airline pilot who balances his days flying jumbo jets with picking up women snorting lines of cocaine and drinking himself to sleep. Although drunk for the flight that will change his life forever that's not the reason the plane goes down — in fact it may be the reason he thinks up his savvy landing solution in the first place. Writer John Gatins follows Whitaker into the aftermath madness: an investigation of what really happened during the flight Whitaker's battle to cap his addictions and budding relationships that if nurtured could save his life.
Zemeckis tops his own plane crash in Cast Away with the heart-pounding tailspin sequence (if you've ever been scared of flying before Flight will push into phobia territory). In the few scenes after the literal destruction Washington is able to convey an equal amount of power in the moments of mental destruction. Whitaker is obviously crushed by the events the bottle silently calling for him in every down moment. Flight strives for that level of introspection throughout eventually pairing Washington with equally distraught junkie Nicole (Kelly Reilly). Their relationship is barely fleshed out with the script time and time again resorting to obvious over-the-top depictions of substance abuse (a la Nic Cage's Leaving Las Vegas) and the bickering that follows. Washington's Whitaker hits is lowest point early sitting there until the climax of the film.
Sharing screentime with the intimate tale is the surprisingly comical attempt by the pilot's airline union buddy (Bruce Greenwood) and the company lawyer (Don Cheadle) to get Whitaker into shape. Prepping him for inquisitions looking into evidence from the wreckage and calling upon Whitaker's dealer Harling (John Goodman) to jump start their "hero" when the time is right the two men do everything they can to keep any blame being placed upon Whitaker by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators. The thread doesn't feel relevant to Whitaker's plight and in turn feels like unnecessary baggage that pads the runtime.
Everything in Fight shoots for the skies — and on purpose. The music is constantly swelling the photography glossy and unnatural and rarely do we breach Washington's wild exterior for a sense of what Whitaker's really grappling with. For Zemeckis Flight is still a spectacle film with Washington's ability to emote as the magical special effect. Instead of using it sparingly he once again goes big. Too big.
A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
The film and television nominations for the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards have been released, recognizing achievements in both individual performances and the strengths of ensemble casts. This year's television award nominations are listed below, including many worthy recipients, but there are also a few surprising absences. Among the hard-hitters listed below are dramas like HBO's Mildred Pierce and Boardwalk Empire, AMC's Breaking Bad and comedies such as ABC's Modern Family (which swept the Emmys this year) and NBC's 30 Rock. However, some might be surprised not to find the new Showtime drama Homeland or NBC's secret weapon Parks and Recreation.
The 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will air live at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Jan. 29, 2012 on TNT and TBS.
Click here to read the list of this year's film nominees.
18th ANNUAL SAG AWARDS NOMINATIONS: PRIMETIME TELEVISION
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Laurence Fishburne - Thurgood (HBO)
Paul Giamatti - Too Big to Fail (HBO)
Greg Kinnear - The Kennedy (Reelz Channel)
Guy Pearce - Mildred Pierce (HBO)
James Woods - Too Big to Fail (HBO
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Diane Lane - Cinema Verite (HBO)
Maggie Smith - Downton Abbey (PBS)
Emily Watson - Appropriate Adult (Sundance Channel)
Betty White - Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Lost Valentine (CBS)
Kate Winslet - Mildred Pierce (HBO)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Patrick J. Adams - Suits (USA)
Steve Buscemi - Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Kyle Chandler - Friday Night Lights (DirecTV)
Bryan Cranston - Breaking Bad (AMC)
Michael C. Hall - Dexter (Showtime)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Kathy Bates - Harry's Law (NBC)
Glenn Close - Damages (DirecTV)
Jessica Lange - American Horror Story (FX)
Julianna Margulies - The Good Wife (CBS)
Kyra Sedgwick - The Closer (TNT)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin - 30 Rock (NBC)
Ty Burrell - Modern Family (ABC)
Steve Carell - The Office (NBC)
Jon Cryer - Two and a Half Men (CBS)
Eric Stonestreet - Modern Family (ABC)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Julia Bowen - Modern Family (ABC)
Edie Falco - Nurse Jackie (Showtime)
Tina Fey - 30 Rock (NBC)
Sofia Vergara - Modern Family (ABC)
Betty White - Hot in Cleveland (TV Land)
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
Boardwalk Empire (HBO) - Steve Buscemi, Dominic Chianese, Robert Clohessy, Dabney Coleman, Charlie Cox, Jose & Lucy Gallina, Stephen Graham, Jack Huston, Anthony Laciura, Heather Lind, Kelly Macdonald, Rory & Declan McTigue, Gretchen Mol, Brady & Connor Noon, Kevin O'Rourke, Aleksa Palladino, Jacqueline Pennewill, Vincent Piazza, Michael Pitt, Michael Shannon, Paul Sparks, Michael Stuhlbarg, Peter Van Wagner, Shea Whigham, Michael Kenneth Williams, Anatol Yusef
Breaking Bad (AMC) - Jonathan Banks, Betsy Brandt, Ray Campbell, Bryan Cranston, Giancarlo Esposito, Anna Gunn, RJ Mitte, Dean Norris, Bob Odenkirk, Aaron Paul
Dexter (Showtime) - Billy Brown, Jennifer Carpenter, Josh Cooke, Aimee Garcia, Michael C. Hall, Colin Hanks, Desmond Harrington, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Rya Kihlstedt, C.S. Lee, Edward James Olmos, James Remar, Lauren Velez, Peter Weller, David Zayas
Game of Thrones (HBO) - Amrita Acharia, Mark Addy, Alfie Allen, Josef Altin, Sean Bean, Susan Brown, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Ron Donachie, Michelle Farley, Jerome Flynn, Elyes Gabel, Aiden Gillen, Jack Gleeson Iain Glen, Julian Glover, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Conleth Hill, Richard Madden, Jason Mamoa, Rory McCann, Ian McElhinney, Luke McEwan, Roxanne McKee, Dar Salim, Mark Stanley, Donald Sumpter, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams
The Good Wife (CBS) - Christine Baranski, Josh Charles, Alan Cumming, Matt Czuchry, Julianna Margulies, Chris Noth, Archie Panjabi, Graham Phillips, Makenzie Vega
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
30 Rock (NBC) - Scott Adsit, Alec Baldwin, Katrina Bowden, Kevin Brown, Grizz Chapman, Tina Fey, Judah Friedlander, Jane Krakowski, John Lutz, Jack McBrayer, Tracy Morgan, Maulik Pancholy, Keith Powell
The Big Bang Theory (CBS) - Mayim Bialik, Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Jim Parsons, Melissa Rauch
Glee (Fox) - Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Darren Criss, Ashley Fink, Dot Marie Jones, Jane Lynch, Jayma Mays, Kevin McHale, Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Heather Morris, Matthew Morrison, Mike O'Malley, Chord Overstreet, Lauren Potter, Amber Riley, Naya Rivera, Mark Salling, Harry Shum Jr., Iqbal Theba, Jenna Ushkowitz
Modern Family (ABC) - Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, Julia Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Nolan Gould, Sarah Hyland, Ed O'Neill, Rico Rodriguez, Eric Stonestreet, Sofia Vergara, Ariel Winter
The Office (NBC) - Leslie David Baker, Brian Baumgartner, Creed Bratton, Steve Carell, Jenna Fischer, Kate Flannery, Ed Helms, Mindy Kaling, Ellie Kemper, Angela Kinsey, John Krasinski, Paul Lieberstein, B.J. Novak, Oscar Nunez, Craig Robinson, James Spader, Phyllis Smith, Rainn Wilson, Zach Woods