Vampires, Upper East Siders, Broadway beauties and suburbanites. There’s scoop on all these characters and more in this week’s edition of Leanne’s Spoiler List. So let’s get to it! I’ve got details on the Smashing plans for a new musical, chatted with the stars of Fringe about some mind-altering moments, and previewed tomorrow night’s premiere of The Vampire Diaries. Plus, dish on some hilarious upcoming moments on Suburgatory and Happy Endings and the return of a Gossip Girl rival! Go ahead and read on. You know you want to.
1. Smash: A New Twist for Season 2!
The Season 2 premiere of Smash is far, far away. We still have to get through candy, costumes, cranberry sauce, crazy family get-togethers and Christmas before we’re reunited with our beloved musical drama. Luckily, Emmy award-winning choreographer Joshua Bergasse was kind enough to spill some major secrets to me about the new season. Emphasis on the new, people! “As great as the first season was, we can’t repeat it. We have to try new things, so we’re trying a bunch of new ideas.” Bergasse explains, “New characters are getting musical numbers, we’re using some special effects and we’re using television and the technology a little bit more this season.” Of course there is one new thing that is the most exciting of all: a new musical!
In addition to “Bombshell," Smash will be featuring another Broadway bound show, and I was able to shimmy some details out of this choreographer. He reveals, “Of course we’ve got Marc [Shaiman] and Scott [Wittman] writing great songs again and then we have a bunch of new song writers…They’re writing contemporary, downtown songs for this show. So the choreography is a little grungier, a little edgier and it’s a whole new area for us.” Keeping with the show’s ultra-competitive rift between Karen (Katharine McPhee) and Ivy (Megan Hilty), Bergasse hints that it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if some of our core characters would be drawn to the spotlight in this new show. “I can only say this: Smash is inherently about the battle between those two women and so whether they are battling over that or they’re battling over something else, they’re going to be battling. I can assure you that.” Hell hath no fury like a Marilyn scorned!
2. Gossip Girl: Guess Who’s Back?!It’s time for a blast from our Constance past! One of the few (hundred) people that Blair (Leighton Meester) has victimized over the past five seasons is back. And honey, she’s going all Emily Thorne on Blair’s behind, because she wants revenge. (Cross-network references FTW!) While Gossip Girl has made me swear upon all that glitters not to reveal who she is, the blogger didn’t say anything about dropping a few one-liners to help you guess.
The mystery Upper East Sider tells Blair. “I still have nightmares about nartinis and yogurt bombs. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night shouting, ‘Tights are not pants!’” Okay, okay, fine you’ve twisted the cashmere scarf around my neck tight enough. It’s Nellie Yuki! How and when this smarty pants makes her return is something I’m keeping hush-hush, but I will say this: Nellie and Dan (Penn Badgley) share a sweet and slightly sad moment together. Oh and she’s got a Dior bag that would gladly trade my apartment for.
3. Suburgatory: Roo’s and Romance!The new season of Suburgatory starts next Wednesday and now that I’ve watched the premiere, I’m happy to say it definitely won’t disappoint! After spending the summer at her grandma’s in NYC, Tessa (Jane Levy) is desperately trying to find a way to feel a connection to her MIA mama (who we now know will be played by Malin Akerman later this season!) So Tessa decides to enter the Chatswin talent show—aka the Fall Follies—and those who love the show’s beyond catchy theme-song will be quite pleased. Also here’s your Royce Pet Update: No sign of Yakult, but Dalia’s (Carly Chaikin) amazing kangaroo makes a brief appearance. Bonus fun fact: 'Roos love Red Vines.Now let’s fast-forward to episode ten of the season. Yes, I know it’s a bit far away, but this scoop is so juicy that I just have to share it: Tessa’s getting a fella! Oh and not just any fella, a football player. We’ve met him, he’s hilarious and also equal parts sweet and slightly stupid. Fans, you know exactly which ab-tastic guy I’m talking about. Anyways, now that Tessa has a new beau, she is introduced to the “Football Girlfriends”—Think Stepford Wives but with a peppy cheerleader twist—and she quickly realizes that baking cookies is not just a way to pass the time, it’s a way of life.4. Fringe: LSD in 2036?Things have been pretty dark this season on Fringe — the world has been taken over, Walter's brain was scrambled due to Observer torture, and the food tastes like crap. But according to Jasika Nicole, some fun may be found via a certain substance that has stood the test of time in Walter's lab. "There is a scene where we are in his lab, and he has all these secret hiding places. 'We’re like, 'How does this last for 20-something years??' I won’t say anything more about it because it’s pretty funny... He’s got a lot of secret hiding places. John Noble laughed when we asked him for further detail, but didn't deny that a little somethin' somethin' was going down. "There is a little case of something or other [in the lab]. I think you know what it is, that's why you asked the question! But… I think you'll find a case of something down there. It's twenty years old, but…" I bet it still does the trick!5. Happy Endings: Jobless and Power-Hungry! If Happy Endings doesn’t make you happy, then I’m not sure we would get along. To me, this show has everything. And by everything I mean a group of friends who hang out, get into shenanigans and also throws the occasional love interest into the mix. Plus any show that includes pajoveralls, invisible hula-hooping and the one-liner, “What’s up skanks?! Wheeeee! Ugh, I’m fat,” is perfection in my book. I caught up with Eliza Coupe and Damon Wayans Jr. on their set a few weeks ago, and the sexually charged duo teased what’s coming up for their characters this season. Wayans says “I like the fact that Brad is unemployed right now. He’s having a lot more fun, he gets to wear a lot less suits and he’s just having a grand-old time.”This grand old-time includes hanging out with our favorite lazy-man Max (Adam Pally), and learning how to get the most out of life, without paying for it. And as for Jane? Coupe says that Jane could not be more thrilled to be the new breadwinner in the relationship. “She gets to do the whole type-A personality thing which is to work and take control.” Jane finds that her super-intense personality shines when she is accepts a job as a car salesman and Coupe says that hilarity is sure to ensue, “There has been a lot of things going down at that dealership, a lot of weird things. There’s been some animals involved…It’s just a lot of her wanting to be one of the guys too, and seeing how that pans out.” I’m sure it’s going to be amahzing. 6. The Vampire Diaries: Transitions and Triangles!Tomorrow night is the season premiere of The Vampire Diaries and putting it lightly, it’s a heart-stopping 48 minutes of absolutely intense perfection. Watching Elena (Nina Dobrev) come to terms with the fact that she is now “dead…ish” makes you feel all of her heightened emotions in such a short amount of time. I’m pretty sure I blacked out for a good five minutes because I didn’t breathe at all during one scene in particular: Elena choosing whether or not to transition. Oh and as for all those memories that she was compelled to forget? (cough*Damon*cough) Get excited because not only does Elena remember them, she relives them! Not to worry Stelena fans, Elena and Stefan (Paul Wesley) share some truly beautiful moments together in an unexpected place. Kat Graham teases that this premiere is one that fans should be beyond excited to see. The actress says, “The first episode back, that was the hardest episode for me to shoot so far, it was so intense. After that I mean it really sets the standard so everything just gets bigger and better from there.” It’s true. After watching the second episode, it’s safe to say that the fourth season of The Vampire Diaries is unlike anything fans have seen before. Graham agrees saying, “The whole season is like a transition into a lot of it into a new ways of living, a new life for all of them. There is so much sadness and heartbreak and change and it’s so uncomfortable and you’ll see that you’ll se everyone trying to avoid it.” But they can only avoid their grief for so long. By the end of the second episode you’ll see the Mystic Falls gang address all that they’ve lost over the past three years and the result is a chilling (and slightly tear-inducing) scene.What are you most looking forward to on the new season of The Vampire Diaries? Excited to see the return of Nellie Yuki on Gossip Girl? Intrigued by the new musical on Smash? Wish you had a pet kangaroo like Dalia, too? Of course you do! Share your thoughts in the comments below! Follow Leanne on Twitter @LeanneAguilera—Additional reporting by Shaunna Murphy.[Photo Credit: ABC, NBC, The CW, FOX]MORE: Leanne’s Spoiler List: Is There a New Love Triangle on 'The Vampire Diaries'? Leanne's Spoiler List: Will There Be Another Death on 'Revenge'? Leanne’s Spoiler List: What's Next for Leonard and Penny on 'Big Bang Theory'?
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
When all-American girl Susan Murphy is inadvertently hit by a falling meteor on her wedding day she grows to be nearly 50 feet tall. The U.S. military gets wind of this renames her Ginormica and locks her away with a slacker group of other “monsters” in a top-secret compound. But when a mysterious alien robot lands on Earth and begins wreaking havoc these good-hearted but inept creatures are called into action by the President and must band together as a team to save the world from certain catastrophe.
WHO’S IN IT?
As usual Dreamworks has assembled a stellar A-list voice cast led by Reese Witherspoon as Susan/Ginormica. Playing one of the rare female animated heroes Witherspoon’s sweet/confused demeanor — in light of her highly unusual status as a fearsome freakazoid — hits just the right tone generously letting her zanier colleagues steal scenes from right under her (a long way down by the way). Chief among these are a not-so-bright gelatinous blue mass named B.O.B. hilariously voiced by Seth Rogen; the genius Dr. Cockroach Ph.D in the capable hands of House doc Hugh Laurie; and Will Arnett’s half-ape half-fish The Missing Link. In the human roles there’s Stephen Colbert as the idiotic U.S. President Kiefer Sutherland as the monster’s prison guardian Paul Rudd as the ego-driven weatherman fiancé of Susan; and a deliciously villainous Rainn Wilson as Galaxhar the alien determined to take over Earth.
Superb 3-D effects aren’t overdone and add immeasurably to the ginormous fun of the film but even seeing it in theaters that only show it in regular 2-D doesn’t spoil the pure joy of this cartoonish War of the Worlds. Throw in parodies of every cheap '50s sci-fi movie you can think of and you have the ingredients for a silly monster mash sure to appeal to just about anyone who wants to laugh. Despite the impressive production elements it’s the smart and clever script that really sets it apart from its competitors — and that even includes the similar Monsters Inc. from Pixar.
Like any kid-oriented comic ‘toon today the action can be a bit too frenetic and Monsters vs. Aliens piles a lot of it on in its trim 95 minutes. Still the lovable characters carry the day and somehow make it all palatable.
When Susan now Ginormica brings her new friends home to meet her parents chaos ensues and so do the laughs. Also impressive are the large action scenes that make fine use of CGI animation breakthroughs.
BEST SUPPORTING BLOB:
It's easily the one-eyed lame-brained blue lug of a people hugger named B.O.B. perfectly matched to the talents of Rogen. He rolls away with the movie and inevitably the merchandise tie-ins.
After a brief flashback prologue where we see how the young lion Alex (Ben Stiller) is separated from his father Zuba (Bernie Mac) inadvertently ending up in the Big Apple the story returns to present day as our favorite New York zoo denizens prepare to take off from Madagascar in a crudely constructed airplane piloted by the penguins and propelled by slingshot. Unfortunately for Alex lovelorn giraffe Melman (David Schwimmer) fast talking zebra Marty (Chris Rock) and svelte hippo Gloria (Jada Pinkett-Smith) instead of landing in NYC the aircraft sputters and crash lands right in the middle of Africa where they run into a world of exotic creatures. This also includes Alex’s long lost dad and mom. Happy reunion? Not quite. Zuba’s nemesis Mukunga (Alec Baldwin) insists they follow lion pride lore which means Alex must go through a rite of passage -- one he is sure to fail if Mukunga has his way. Meanwhile Marty tries to integrate into a pack of zebras; Gloria gets hooked up with a soulful hippo (will.i.am); and Melman is up to his neck looking for love. Oh and they also all have to save the Kenya preserve from a life-threatening water shortage. No biggie! Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa’s witty and hip dialogue provides rich voice over opportunities for a talented crew of actors. Stiller continues to be a riot as the showbiz loving Zooperstar Alex especially in his attempts to earn the pride’s respect. Chris Rock earns his stripes as he tries to hang with a large group of look-a-like sound-a-like zebras. Schwimmer is winning and hysterical as Melman now considered a witchdoctor by his fellow giraffe-ians while Pinkett-Smith continues to shine as hippo Gloria looking for a little action. Among the new voices rapper will.i.am as Moto Moto the last of the red-hot hippos will have you wanting More More while Alec Baldwin gets to play the heavy with Lion King style. The late Bernie Mac playing it relatively straight as Alex’s father proves (as he does in his other new release this week Soul Men) shows us just how much his unique brand of humor will be sorely missed. Stealing the show however and getting king-sized laughs in an expanded role is Sacha Baron Cohen back as King Julien the hard-partying head of the lemurs. With a vast improvement in Madagascar’s state-of-the-art computer graphic work directors Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath take this sequel several notches up in terms of technical savvy including the exciting opening sequence as well as the plane crash. But they really score with the script with new co-writer Etan Cohen adding some crisp comedy. What was mostly just a serviceable script the first time around has gotten a lot more sophisticated and clever a development parents being dragged by their kids will be keenly grateful for. This is the rare animated sequel that actually has a reason for existence other than minting money. It has more heart drama and laughs than the original Madagascar which despite its flaws still made half a billion dollars worldwide. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa should make even more as it proves to be one of the year’s most entertaining comedy delights.