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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It worked for Dallas. So it's no surprise Patrick Duffy, who returned to TNT to revive his role as Bobby Ewing for the hit Dallas reboot, is considering other possible TV reunions.
Next on his list? Step by Step, the beloved '90s TGIF series that Duffy hopes to bring back for a two-hour reunion special. "I would love to work with Suzanne [Somers] again," he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “The Step By Step cast was so wonderful to be with. They were my family and I think a little two-hour special about where these people are – not a documentary, but actually doing a show – seeing where they all come to over the years. It would be so fun to play that goofy Frank Lambert character again, aging another 25 years.”
But with the exception of Duffy and Somers, who has gone on to develop a lucrative line of anti-aging products, Step By Step's cast has stayed out of the spotlight following the series' wrap in 1998. So what have the Fosters and Lamberts been up to? And what do they look like now? Before they meet up for a second time around, find out below!
Following 2004's Dallas Reunion: Return to Southfork, Patrick Duffy — otherwise known as Step By Step's patriarch Frank Lambert — returned to Southfork once again with TNT's Dallas reboot, now in its second season. The actor also has used his fame for endorsement deals, proving how old we are by becoming a spokesman for Miracle-Ear hearing aids.
Suzanne Somers' Carol Foster-Lambert might have lived happily ever after with Frank, but since wrapping Step By Step, the actress has become obsessed with living happily ever after as a young woman. The 66-year-old actress so inspired fans with her anti-aging efforts that's she's developed a successful product line in her own name. But not everyone is happy with her happily ever after — Somers has come under fire for her support of the controversial bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and for her 2010 book, Knockout, which suggests alternative cancer treatments for those facing chemotherapy.
With the exception of a traffic incident that left Brandon Call shot in both arms in 1996, little is known about the actor who memorably portrayed oldest son J.T. Lambert. In fact, though Call starred on such series as Baywatch, Magnum, P.I., and the Charmings prior to his successful Step By Step run, J.T. would prove to be Call's final role call.
Staci Keanan — who played Carol's oldest daughter, Dana — would most likely be game for a Step By Step reunion. After all, the actress already reteamed with Duffy and Christine Lakin in You Again. But the 2010 comedy wasn't her only turn on the big screen — Keanan, who guest starred in various series like Diagnosis: Murder in the late '90s — turned her attention to film after Step By Step's run was complete. Among the projects on her resume: 2009's Sarah's Choice, 2010'S Holyman Undercover, and her most recent project, 2010's Death and Cremation. Could a Step By Step reunion revive her career again?
Angela Watson — the actress who played Step By Step's beauty queen, Karen — found herself fielding the same problem that plagues many child stars. Discovering that her own family had mismanaged the $2.8 million in wages she earned on Step by Step, the actress founded Child Actors Supporting Themselves in 2000 in an attempt to help young actors learn how to manage their money. Watson, who acts on stage and in various low-profile film projets, continues to turn her attention toward helping others, becoming the spokesperson for the charity Hugs America. It's nice to say that Karen wouldn't approve.
One of step By Step's more successful actors, Christopher Castile — who played brainiac Mark Foster — turned starring roles in Beethoven and Beethoven's 2nd into a voice acting role as Hey Arnold!'s Eugene Horowitz. But he had enough of show business following Step By Step's success — Castile soon left Hey Arnold! (replaced, strangely enough, by Jarrett Lennon, an actor who was cast as Step By Step's Mark before Castile stepped in) and retired from acting altogether. And it turns out life imitated art — Castile channeled his smarty-pants Step By Step alter-ego and became a political science professor at Biola University.
Arguably Step By Step's most successful alum, Christine Lakin — who played tomboy Al — boasted guest roles in high-profile series like Boston Public, Veronica Mars, CSI: Miami, Bones, Family Guy, and more. Her big screen is not quite as respectable, with critically reviled films like Valentine's Day, Parental Guidance, and, of course, the Hottie & The Nottie on her resume. The silver lining? The actress, who continues to win roles on the big and small screen, definitely grew up to be a hottie.
Just as quickly as Frank's youngest son Brendan mysteriously disappeared from the series without mention (in order to make way for the cuter baby Lilly), the actor who portrayed him, Josh Byrne, disappeared from Hollywood. We'd claim he was still chained in Frank and Carol's basement, but this picture of the actor dressed in costume proves he's alive, and presumably can be seen at your local Renaissance Faire.
Emily Mae Young was already famous by the time she joined Step By Step's cast as Carol and Frank's youngest daughter, Lilly. The young actress first won acclaim as the Cabbage Patch Doll-like girl in a series of Welch's Grape Juice ads before she moved on to the TGIF TV series. Her career, however, was short-lived, and following a role in 1999's Undercover Angel, Young disappeared from Hollywood.
Sasha Mitchell, who portrayed lovable loser Cody, suffered from a bout of bad publicity in the late '90s when he was accused of domestic abuse. Perhaps that's why Mitchell — who retained full custody of his children following claims that he was protecting his children from their abusive mother — opted to change his appearance dramatically following the headlines. Though Cody could hardly work hard enough to leave the Lamberts' backyard, Mitchell worked hard in the gym, beefing up enough to earn roles in films like Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star and on acronym-friendly series like JAG, ER, and NYPD Blue. Mitchell, who continues to act, also has a black belt. As Cody would say, Whoa.
Jason Marsden, loved for his roles in two beloved '90s series — Step By Step, as J.T.'s friend Rich, and Boy Meets World, as, fittingly, Jason Marsden — began a successful career in voice acting after Step By Step, starring in series like The Legend of Tarzan, Justice League, The Batman, The Fairly OddParents, and much, much more. Makes sense the animated actor would find money in animation.
Patrika Darbo, who played Carol's sister Penny, might have been written out of the series after Season 1, but she was hardly written out of Hollywood. One of the industry's more recognizable character actresses, Darbo has boasted roles in Seinfeld, Desperate Housewives, and Dexter. She also scored a recurring gig on Days of Our Lives, playing Craig Wesley's wife Nancy. So it turns out Darbo's hair wasn't the only thing that improved post-Step By Step.
More:What Happened to 31 Child Stars You Forgot About 9 Years Later, Who Won 'Mean Girls'?An Oral History of the Infamous 'Boy Meets' World' Halloween Episode
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It's about that time again, Survivor fans: the castaways for the new season (the 25th!) have been revealed, so let the preliminary judgment of people we've never met before... begin!
Every time a new Survivor tribe (or in this case, three tribes) hits the media for their first public debut, there are a handful of questions that everyone wants to know. Who are the hotties? Who are the weirdos? Who are the returning players? And who are the inevitable '80s sitcom stars!? Oh, about that last one... well, Blair from The Facts of Life is going to be on this upcoming season of Survivor. I repeat. Blair. Lisa Whelchel. On Survivor. Except she's totally not the Blair you remember — nope, instead she's a Bible-thumping Southern belle who will no doubt spar with one other outrageous tribe mate... who hasn't been announced yet.
CBS revealed the names and essential info of 15 of its 18 new players, with the caveat that three players will return from past seasons, all of whom were medically evacuated from the game. Does that mean... yes, it could... will last season's super villain Colton "I Want His Head On A Platter" Cumbie be coming back to wreak havoc on the new tribe!? Dear God, I hope so.
The new season of Survivor premieres on Wednesday, September 19 at 8 PM ET/PT on CBS — but don't wait until then to get a glimpse at the new season of hotties, notties and Blair-from-The-Facts-of-Life. Now if only they could get Mindy Cohn for Season 26...
Sarah Dawson, 28
Silver Spring, Md.
Katie Hanson, 22
Former Miss Delaware
Jeff Kent, 44
Retired MLB Player
Dana Lambert, 32
Carter Williams, 24
Abi-Maria Gomes, 32
Roberta "RC" Saint-Amour, 27
Artis Silvester, 53
Terry Town, La.
Lisa Whelchel, 49
Former TV Teen Star
Peter "Pete" Yurkowski, 24
Malcolm Freberg, 25
Hermosa Beach, Calif.
Zane Knight, 28
Angie Layton, 20
Roxanne "Roxy" Morris, 28
Denise Stapley, 41
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
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[Photo Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS]
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Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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Tyler Lambert, who had a history of substance abuse and depression, died last Friday (07May10) after embarking on a drugs binge before putting a shotgun in his mouth and pulling the trigger.
He had spiralled into a bout of depression as the anniversary of his mum's death loomed on the same weekend as Americans prepared to celebrate Mother's Day on Sunday (09May10), and detailed his heartache in a suicide note.
Lambert lost his actress mum to a drug overdose almost 11 years to the day, on 8 May, 1999.
Officials at the medical examiner's office in his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma confirmed his death was a "Suicide by a gunshot to the head", reports the National Enquirer.
His grandmother Joni Richardson tells the publication, "Tyler wanted to be with his mother. His father Lanny (Lambert, Plato's ex-husband) is devastated."
Plato starred as Kimberly Drummond in the hit 1980s TV sitcom, which catapulted her co-star Gary Coleman to fame.