It looks like the drama will return to the Grantham family in the upcoming season of the fan-favorite PBS show Downton Abbey. At this year's Television Critics Association, the family took a minute off from filming--and being nominated for beaucoup Emmy Awards--to talk about the show's newest twists and turns. And it looks like show's notorious drama is only going to be amplified in the wake of the war.
And what can we expect for the illustrious family? Well for that, PBS screened some brand-new footage Saturday night in Los Angeles. And the sparks, they flew--most notable between Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess and Shirley MacLaine’s Martha Levinson, aka Lady Cora's American mother. (Dreams do come true, you guys!) But as it turns out, this won't be the first time our lady matriarchs competed in a bit of a sass-off. MacLaine revealed Smith first chided her many years ago, backstage at the Oscars. MacLaine had been nominated and lost and Smith said pointedly, "You know what you did, dear? You tucked right into that chocolate cake and said, 'F**k it, I don't care if I'm ever thin again.'" Rawr, ladies! Them sounds like fightin' words. Play nice!
That wasn't all that was revealed, and we've got some of the hottest tidbits below:
- Uh oh! In one scene, Hugh Bonneville (aka's Lord Grantham/Robert Crawley), is shown tearily confessing to his wife Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) about an investment gone wrong, resulting in the family's money (including Cora's own personal wealth, which is what was keeping the family afloat) being lost. "Has some of my fortune been lost?" she asks. "Almost all," he replies, tearfully. Oh snap: TWIST!
- Could there be a romantic history between MacLaine and Smith? "We were lovers in another life," explained MacLaine, whose belief in reincarnation is no secret. No word on Smith's thoughts on the matter.
- Mr. Bates is still in jail (oh no!) and Anna's determined to free him, but it doesn't sound like an easy road ahead for the couple. However, showrunner/creator Julian Fellowes explained that the storyline will be resolved this season (thank goodness). Look out for a bevvy of "Free Bates!" t-shirts in The Internet's future. Though it has to be asked: is there a chance that Bates isn't telling the truth here?
- Edith may be on the fast-track to wedded bliss! Looks like Sir Anthony Strallan relented to Edith's sad and desperate advances after all! (Poor Edith. Poor, bitchy, insecure Edith.)
- Sybil and Branson (and baby makes three!) will be invited to Downton and of course Branson's mouthy political opinions make quite a splash with the family. Carson will no doubt need some smelling salts on hand.
- Looks like the exhausting "will they or won't they" that we thought ended with Mary and Matthew's engagement will be back. UGH, GUYS. Just stop and get married already! Bickering will ensue because, of course it will.
- Handsome fellow alert! New love interest for O'Brien? On snap, y'all! Apparently the new help is named Alfred, and it sounds like O'Brien gets a little bit googly-eyed over the new fellow, and her friendship with Thomas may suffer because of it. I, for one, can't wait for the friends to become conniving enemies out to destroy each other.
- The BEST thing about all of this is that our dear older dames will have a seemingly endless supply of sassing in store for us lovers of all things Dowager. When discussing Martha with Matthew, the Dowager does not mince words (but has she ever?): "When I'm with her, I'm reminded of the virtues of the English," the Dowager extols. "But isn't she American?" asks Matthew. "Exactly," Violet retorts. BOOM, ROASTED.
- Other zingers between the two women also include the previously-seen exchange: "Oh dear, I’m afraid the war has made older women of us both," quips Ms. Levinson. "I wouldn’t say that, but I keep out of the sun." Dowager for the win, yet again.
So it looks as though there is tons in store for all us fans. We can only imagine the future of amazing one-liner zingers we're in store for. In our minds, the situation is rife with possibility. And keeping the foibles ahead in mind, we've crafted a few lines we imagine the Dowager speaking in the near future.
- "Apparently class is something that didn't fit into the luggage carousel on the Mayflower."
- "Americans confuse brutish audacity for charm."
- "It's about decorum; and this is certainly not the forum. What's next? Shall we be dining in the stables with the horses and the hounds?"
We've dreamed a dream, now make it real, Fellowes! Downton Abbey returns to PBS and the American shores in January 2013. Are you excited about the upcoming season? Let us know in the comments below!
[Image Credit: PBS]
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
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Deciding what to name your child is undoubtedly one of the biggest dilemmas when it comes to welcoming a new family member into the world (well, that and the whole giving-birth thing). So it's always interesting to see what names become popular from year-to-year. Luckily for such inquiring minds, Nameberry is able to know such things by tracking the biggest spikes in views over the course of the year, and 2012 is already proving to be a rather astonishing group (so far at least). And while some of these names may seem highly unusual, they'll also be extremely familiar. Why? Because baby names are heavily influenced by pop culture.
Don't sound so surprised. Whether you're an entertainment fanatic like myself or not, pop culture is an everpresent force in our everyday lives. As of now, the strongest baby name influences consist of The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, which should come as no shock given how heavily popular both franchises have been. But there's plenty more where that came from.
So without further ado, here are some of Nameberry’s biggest pop-culture-influenced baby names so far this year, based on over six million views of their individual name pages:
Senna (female version of Cinna): Even though Senna may not look familiar, its near-identical male twin version, Cinna, certainly should. If you recall, Cinna is Katniss Everdeen's stylist in The Hunger Games series and is the one who makes her become "the girl on fire."
Niall: This name was mostly unheard of until Niall Horan of the newly-popular rock band One Direction came along and made it cool again. Behold, the power of a boy band!
Arya: There's been over an 800 percent increase in the popularity of this name, proving once and for all how truly awesome Games of Thrones' Arya Stark really is. A Lannister may always pay his debts, but this girl has stared into the face of death and said "Not Today!" There's really no contest.
Gatsby: F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece The Great Gatsby hasn't even hit theaters yet and its already making a huge mark on our society. It probably doesn't hurt that the always gorgeous Leonardo DiCaprio is now the face of the name.
Blue: It doesn't take a pop culture genius to figure this one out. When Beyoncé gave birth to Blue Ivy in January, that baby's name became one of the biggest topics of conversation. Sorry, but blue is no longer just a color, my friends.
Sybil: The lovely Lady Sybil Crawley of Downton Abbey has undoubtedly restored the popularity of this name. Parents ought to be careful, though — this child's bound to be a bit of a rebel with this name as well as very politically conscious.
Django: The title character of the next Quentin Tarantino movie Django Unchained is already creating quite the impression. And in case you're confused about the pronunciation, the "D" is silent. Apparently, there are many parents out there who like the idea of no one ever being able to say (or spell) their child's name correctly.
Nova: Though this name is normally used when referring to the stars, Nova has most likely spiked in popularity thanks to the 2011 Fox hit show, Terra Nova. Every parent wants their kid to be a star, and in this case they really would be.
But since the year is only half over, here's a look at what names we anticipate will become popular thanks to future pop culture projects:
Bane: Hey, it could happen.
Johanna: With Catching Fire talk well underway, it wouldn't be surprising if people began taking a particular liking to some new characters, especially Johanna who becomes quite a standout in the books. Never underestimate the power of a book-turned-movie franchise.
Christian: Yes, it may be a common name compared to all the rest of the names on this list, however, The New York Times Best Selling book "50 Shades of Grey" has made this one of the most lusted-after names since Edward Cullen. It's wrong on so many levels to name your baby after this sex-crazed character. But we're sure it will happen.
Mike: I don't even have to say it, do I? Mike — as in Magic Mike. Let's just go with any name Channing Tatum is given in movies because 2012 is clearly his year to shine (and strip).
Clark: With superheroes making such a remarkable comeback this year, it's safe to say the 2013 Man of Steel film will gain some serious traction in popularity. Everyone loves a nerd in glasses....especially if their name is Clark Kent.
Oz: As in the Great and Powerful. It'd be a little weird, but could totally happen now that James Franco is playing the mysterious wizard in the upcoming film, Oz: The Great and Powerful.
Follow Kelly on Twitter @KellyBean0415
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Playing second fiddle to a more famous sibling can be rough. Just ask Fred Claus (Vaughn) a regular guy who has had to grow up under the shadow of his little brother Nicholas Claus (Paul Giamatti) aka Santa. That’s a big shadow to say the least both figuratively and literally. As an adult Fred has pretty much steered clear of his family but when he finds himself in dire need of some fast cash he calls his brother. Pleased as punch to hear from him Nicholas nonetheless makes him a deal: If he comes up to the North Pole for a visit and to help out the few days before Christmas then Fred can have the money. Fred reluctantly agrees and soon he’s being whisked off in Santa’s sleigh by head elf Willie (John Michael Higgins). But once Fred gets to the North Pole nothing seems to go right and soon he is the cause of much chaos--which unbeknownst to Fred causes Nicholas even more stress since his North Pole operation is one step away from being shut down by a cold-hearted efficiency expert (Kevin Spacey). Can Fred quit being bitter in time to save his brother’s livelihood? Of course he can. Hmmm Vince Vaughn minus the R-rated Wedding Crashers/Old School irreverence? It’s a stretch. Seeing the comic actor playing it PG is a little weird but you might enjoy how Vaughn infuses his unique energy into Fred Claus. From getting all the elves to boogie down in Santa’s workshop to going on one rant after another (on his brother: “He’s a clown a megalomaniac a fame junkie!”) to pilfering money on the street and then being chased by Salvation Army Santas it’s all good. Giamatti too seems a little out of his comfort zone as the saintly St. Nick. The actor who usually plays such endearing sad sacks has already played against type to great effect this year as the maniacal bad guy in Shoot ‘Em Up but he isn't nearly as successful in doing the flipside of that in Fred Claus. And what the hell is Kevin Spacey doing in this? As the villain of the film he fills the shoes nicely but he is almost too good at it (natch) for such a feel-good family film. Even Higgins--a character actor who is usually so hilarious in films such as The Break Up and all of Christopher Guest’s movies—has to shed the cheekiness and sugar himself up for Fred Claus. There’s also Rachel Weisz as Fred’s beleaguered girlfriend (you heard right) and Kathy Bates as the Claus boys’ mother who always sees Fred as inferior to her other son to fill out a cast of big names doing family fare. Director David Dobkin is a Vince Vaughn favorite having directed him in Wedding Crashers and Clay Pigeons but like his muse Dobkin seems a little out of place guiding this material. Granted Dobkin creates a pretty magical North Pole complete with an entire city of little dwellings a Frosty Tavern and a huge domed Santa’s Workshop. The montage of Fred delivering presents on Christmas Eve—falling down chimneys stuffing cookies in his face zooming around in the sleigh—is also well done. But overall Fred Claus is a Vaughn vehicle—even as sugary sweet and family-friendly as it is--and all Dobkin really does is turn the camera on and let the man do his stuff. Dan Fogelman's script is also so very bland full of any number of holes and only picks up once Vaughn starts to improvise. Bottom line: If you’re looking to take the kids to a sweet Christmas movie and are a Vince Vaughn fan then Fred Claus is for you.
When infamous outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) gets captured in late 19th century Arizona the plan is to transport him to a train en route to Yuma prison(leaving at 3:10 of course). But in the 1800s bringing someone to justice is as arduous as it sounds especially since horses are the only mode of transportation and their carriages the only place to house a prisoner. Across “town ” rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is struggling mightily to support his wife (Gretchen Mol) and kids (Logan Lerman and Benjamin Petry) following a drought and needs to build a well for his family. So when he receives a nominal financial offer to help transport the notorious felon he jumps at it dutifully and desperately. While on the trail that leads to the train station no amount of physical or verbal threat is too much for Wade to break free of with ease. But when it comes to the law-abiding rancher for whom Wade has a certain respect his escape becomes much more complicated than getting out of handcuffs. 3:10 to Yuma’s pairing of Batman and Cinderella Man is perfect in concept and execution and watching the two stars is more than a sight to behold—it is transfixing like watching any two longtime professionals make something difficult look easy. It’s the first of two such powerhouse pairings for Crowe this fall—he co-stars with Denzel Washington in November’s American Gangster—and if this small sample size is any indication big-name costars bring out the best in him. Crowe evokes the kind of real humanistic villain that could only exist in a Western and by playing Wade with equal parts amiability and evil the Oscar winner turns in what is probably his most purely charismatic performance to date. Bale’s character on the other hand—and per usual—is loath to crack a smile a quality the actor has mastered. The Yoda of dialect Welsh-born Bale also has no difficulty switching over to Ol’ West speak but it’s the way he conveys the rancher’s stoicism and will that makes him even more credible. Among the supporting turns Ben Foster (Alpha Dog) stands out as a cranked-up trigger-happy member of Wade’s gang and stalwart Peter Fonda is perfectly cast as a tough ‘n’ gruff bounty hunter. When director James Mangold turned Johnny Cash’s life story into Walk the Line it was the romantic version of a much darker tale. For 3:10 to Yuma a remake of the beloved 1957 Glenn Ford-starrer Mangold gives the Western the same treatment. In attempting to reel in today’s action-happy audience Mangold waters down the drama and speeds up the pace. Minor tweaks for this modern update equal a bit of a departure from true Western style with the dialogue for example as snappy as one of today’s action comedies. But it’s all in good fun. The Old West looks completely authentic and the unforgettable ending is perhaps made possible by the director’s innocuous first two acts. Even so his efforts and those of the screenwriters (Derek Haas Michael Brandt and Halstead Wells who wrote the original) aren’t enough to perform CPR on the Western—not that it’s fair to rest the fate of entire dying genre in their hands.