Lifetime Adds a Leading Lady: TV icon Brooke Shields is joining Lifetime’s lady drama Army Wives. According to a press release, Shields will join the cast as “brash and brilliant” Air Force Colonel Katherine “Kat” Young. Kat is a guy’s girl who can definitely hold her own in the boys' club atmosphere of the military, but it won't take long before she’s butting heads with Army General Michael Holden (Brian McNamara). Army Wives fans can look forward to seeing Shields' character in a full-fledged power struggle with Holden to see who’s top dog on the base. But of course it wouldn’t be a Lifetime show unless Kat was holding onto a deep dark secret. “Only after their initial skirmishes does Holden learn of Kat’s tragic past, discovering they have more in common than he thought.” Shields is just one of the new additions to join the drama this season — Ashanti and Torrey DeVitto are also set to join the cast. Fans can catch the Season 7 premiere of Army Wives on Sunday, March 10 at 9 PM. [Lifetime]
A Witchcraft Reunion: Grab your spell books and wands because Disney Channel is reuniting the cast of Wizards of Waverly Place! Selena Gomez is back as Alex — the snarky best friend you’ve always wanted — in a one-hour special airing Friday, March 15 at 8 PM. The Russo family will travel to Tuscany, Italy for a family reunion, but in a attempt to show her serious magical skills, Alex accidently splits her personality in two: good Alex and bad Alex. (Side note: Didn’t they already do an episode like this? I'm pretty sure I've seen this already...) In a totally believable twist, the two Alexes battle for the fate of their family and the world atop the Tower of Pisa. [TV Guide]
Going Through The Gates... Again: Ken Marino and Aasif Mandvi have joined the NBC comedy pilot The Gates. Based on the British series, The Gates is an adult ensemble comedy set at the front gates of an elementary school drop-off and revolves around the parents, school staff and 15-minute social minefield they navigate at the beginning and end of each school day. (Side note: We're getting another case of deja vu here. Wasn't there already a TV series The Gates? On ABC? In the summer of 2010? Yes, yes there was...) This new incarnation centers on type-A Helen (Kathleen Rose Perkins), who just moved to town with her husband Mark (Marino) and their 8-year-old daughter for Helen’s big new job. Mark is described as a loveable, sweet, well-meaning, puppy-dog of a guy, a type B, or C, maybe even D to his wife’s type-A personality. Since he owns a construction business, he’s got a more flexible schedule than Helen and is at their daughter’s school more than his wife. Mandvi will play another dad at the school, a super-driven, competitive Yale-educated lawyer who’s one of these comedically intense guys who pushes his kids way too hard. [Deadline]
Party Down Parties On: This reunion is definitely one worth noting. On Feb. 9, San Francisco’s Sketchfest will reunite the cast of Starz’s brilliant-but-canceled catering comedy Party Down. Adam Scott, Ken Marino, Martin Starr, and Ryan Hansen are already locked in as attendees and it has just been revealed that Lizzy Caplan will join the group at this sold-out event as well. [EW]
It's Still Pilot Season, Y'all: NBC greenlighted a single-camera comedy from The Office developer/executive producer Greg Daniels starring Craig Robinson. The untitled project is about a talented musician with rough edges who adjusts to his new life as a music teacher in a big-city middle school, where he encounters teacher politics and the temptations of single moms. CBS has handed two more pilot orders to comedy Bad Teacher and drama The Advocates. Bad Teacher, a single-camera comedy series adaptation of the hit 2011 movie of the same name, is about a sexy, foul-mouthed divorcee who becomes a teacher to find her next husband. The Advocates, which had a pilot production commitment, centers on a female lawyer and a male ex-con who team up as “victim advocates,” going to the edge of the law to right wrongs and fight for the underdog. [Deadline, Deadline]
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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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We were so thrilled with the recent news that Louis C.K. is returning to Parks and Recreation to rustle the recent reunion between Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Ben (Adam Scott) that we got to thinking. Louis C.K. was such a killer guest star on Parks -- there have to be more of his kind. And once we started thinking about it, we realized there's an overabundance of great romantic guest stars on our favorite sitcoms, which means we had to whittle it down to a few of our favorites. Maybe we're not that great at whittling, because we've still got 12, but they're all pretty unforgettable so I'm sure you'll forgive us.
Louis C.K. on Parks & Recreation
The comedian's comedian stopped by Pawnee, Ind. for a few episodes to let his bumbling character, Dave, steal fair Leslie's heart. While their romance almost hit the skids before it started thanks to that whole Madeline Albright/ Leslie's grandma confusion, Louis C.K. eventually made a good impression by putting up with Leslie's drunken late-night visit and her tireless tirade on the pre-teen bully/vandal/prankster/Bart Simpson wannabe, Greg Pikitis. Dave never really knew quite the right thing to say, but he was always earnest and sweet, and he made Leslie light up like a Christmas Tree. His return spells trouble for Beslie (is that what we call them?), but I'm still amped to see him come back.
Matt Damon on 30 Rock
I struggled with choosing Michael Sheen or Matt Damon for this entry, but then I remembered the explosive breakup between Carol Burnett (Damon) and Liz (Tina Fey). Sorry, Wesley Snipes (Sheen), "Gangway for Footcycle" gets me everytime, but nothing beats a pilot's discount at Sunglass hut. Damon was pitch perfect for Liz; from his name (a reference to Liz and Fey's comedy heroine), to his constant references to mundane pilot perks that Liz would enjoy more than any other human, to his stalwart love for her show (which no one else in the world seems to give two cheesy blasters about), Carol is perfect for Liz...for a little while anyway. Eventually, they get points for the best breakup ever because they both hold up an entire plane in order for them to figure out they're just too similar. Classic.
Elizabeth Banks on 30 Rock
Just as Liz met her double in Carol, Jack (Alec Baldwin) met his match in Avery Jessup (Elizabeth Banks), the conservative financial reporter. Together, they worshipped Ronald Reagan, bought their daughter a saddle to ride the maid, and both shreiked with terror when their baby was not only born in CANADA, but with the help of socialized medicine. The horror. Avery too, had to say farewell, and in another dramatic way -- she was kidnapped and taken to North Korea, never to be heard from again. This show sure knows how to get rid of a guest star, eh?
Woody Harrelson on Will & Grace
I promise, I'm not trying to write about all NBC series, but man do they get great guest stars. You may remember that Connick Jr. was the yin to Grace's (Debra Messing) yang as Dr. Leo Markus, but by far, her best boyfriend had to be the slovenly Nathan (Harrelson). As her neighbor, Nathan first drives her crazy, but of course hate turns to sexual tension and they end up together for a good chunk of Season 3. Of course, their breakup circumstances are pretty hilarious as well -- they all stem from Nathan's cry of "Marry me" during sex. They're awkward around eachother until Grace decides that in order to fix it, she'll propose to him. But he says no and breaks it off. Word to the wise: don't propose marriage during bedroom activities.
Luke Wilson on That 70s Show
We thought nothing could come between Eric (Topher Grace) and Donna (Laura Prepon), but apparently all it takes is a Kelso. No, not Michael (Ashton Kutcher), but Casey Kelso the Trans-Am-driving charmer sure does the trick. He's slimy and the complete anti-Eric, but he knows how to play the system and he's old enough to drink beer. Swoon, amirite? He's just as dumb as his younger brother, but he's so charming, that Donna doesn't seem to catch on until Bob orders Donna to stop dating him and Casey doesn't seem to care. She wanted a laid-back dude, didn't she?
Megan Mullally on Parks & Recreation
As Ron Swanson's (Nick Offerman) second ex-wife, Tammy, Mullally draws on the already hilarious relationship with her real life husband (Offerman) to simultaneously terrify Ron and whip him into a disgustingly sexual frenzy. And her second appearance sees the craziest Ron we've ever witnessed, with cornrows, a boxing robe and a lack of mustache -- from the friction. Shudder.
Kristen Bell on Party Down
If there's anyone better to play a tiny, adorable, unbearably uptight girlfriend and catering manager, point me in their direction, but I think you'll find that Kristen Bell is the tops. She played Uda, Henry Pollard's (Adam Scott) girlfriend after fellow cater waiter Casey (Lizzy Caplan) breaks his heart. She's terrifying, even when she's not on screen, and her love of mundane things like The Mentalist are just the icing on the cake. Her proposal for Henry to give her a call for a date is one of the most haunting comedic moments in recent memory.
on Family Guy
Brian is obnoxiously pseudo-intellectual. He constantly assumes he's so much smarter than every other person on the show, though he's constantly shown to be completely pretentious. Nothing quite drives that point into the ground like his on-again-off-again girlfriend, Jillian. She was gorgeous, blonde and a complete and total idiot. She completely puffs up Brian's confidence in that she's so hot and that she constantly needs him to explain just about everything to her. "How do I know if I'm Jewish?" "Are you Jewish?" "Nope." "There you go, sport."
When gullible small-town square Paul (Biggs) gets a scholarship to a prestigious New York City university he's ripe for the plucking from the likes of his spoiled rich roommates (Zak Orth Tom Sadoski Jimmi Simpson). Meanwhile Paul's classmate Dora (Mena Suvari) tries to balance schoolwork off-campus jobs and a covert relationship with her world lit professor (Greg Kinnear). Will Paul and Dora two very different breeds of social outcast find a way to hook up? You don't need SAT scores in the 99th percentile to figure that one out.
Biggs' natural goofiness and Everyboy likability go a long way toward making "Loser" watchable but there's little the talented young actor can do with the lifeless increasingly predictable storyline. Suvari who functioned well enough as "American Beauty's" teen lust object ranges from weak to downright awful trying to navigate a lead role in this vastly inferior film. Kinnear lends a piggish charm to his people-using misogynist prof easily the film's most entertaining character.
Writer-director Amy Heckerling who so successfully mined the comic potential of '80s and '90s youth culture in the genre classics "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" and "Clueless " scores surprisingly few laughs in moving her act to an institution of higher learning. To its credit "Loser" shows more respect for the audience's intelligence than the average campus comedy fare taking the time to delve into a few real issues (teacher/student relationships inequalities between rich and middle-class students) along the way but the results simply don't generate the sparks Heckerling's earlier high school films did.