Seth and Lorne team up: There's one man besides Lorne Michaels whose name has become synonymous with Saturday Night Live, and that's Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers, who is teaming up with Michaels (through his Broadway Video company) for a multicamera comedy written and produced by Meyers and his brother, Mad TV's Josh Meyers. [THR]
Once Upon a Time gets hooked: The world's most famous one-handed pirate is going to bring some much needed villainy to Storybrooke this fall when Colin O'Donoghue (The Tudors) joins the cast of ABC's fairy tale drama as Captain Hook. Peter Pan's main nemesis will make his debut in the second season's fourth episode. [TVLine]
NBC goes global: The Peacock has ordered one of its first major project for next development season — a drama described as "The West Wing meets the United Nations" — from producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald and Hell on Wheels writer Tom Brady (not the one you're thinking of). The drama will focus on an interpreter employed at the United Nations building in New York City who deals with ambassadors and diplomats from across the globe as they attempt to sort of the world's crises. [Deadline]
From Smash to cash: Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the duo well-known for their contribution to NBC's Smash but equally familiar for their take on Hairspray and Chicago, are at it again, signing a two-year deal with Sony Pictures Television for multiple projects. The first will be a Bonnie & Clyde miniseries for the History Channel; the second, an Anna Nicole Smith biopic for Lifetime; and the third, a made-for-TV movie about fallen Latter-Day Saints leader Warren Jeffs (also on Lifetime). Zadan and Meron will produce all three. [THR]
Huggies in homeroom: TLC has ordered six episodes of High School Moms, a teenage pregnancy series (in the vein of MTV's Teen Mom franchise) that follows young parents at a Denver high school with an on-site day care center.[THR]
Follow Marc Snetiker on Twitter @MarcSnetiker
[Photo Credit: Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC; WENN.com]
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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.