Earlier this year, before the heat of election season took hold, American television audiences decided to put their political apathy aside, and welcome with open arms the HBO TV movie Game Change. Based on the book by writers Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, directed by established filmmaker Jay Roach, and starring —in an unforgettable Emmy-winning turn — Julianne Moore, the account of 2008 Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin's ascension from obscurity to infamy was adored by critics and viewers alike, garnering some huge ratings for the premium cable network. As such, political authors Halperin and Heilemann are encouraged to take on a new project chronicling the 2012 Presidential Election: Hollywood.com has confirmed that the pair is writing a book on the subject titled Double Down: Game Change 2012, and that HBO has already optioned the developing book to transform into another television movie. Hollywood.com has reached out to HBO for confirmation.
Considering the celebration enjoyed by Moore and her costars Ed Harris (as Presidential Candidate John McCain) and Woody Harrelson (as political strategist Steve Schmidt), the new Double Down movie could well be an attractive endeavor for any number of big name actors looking to assign themselves some political gravitas. But who is the right fit for a film like this? And what figures of this year's election warrant screen time?
Mull over these rhetorical questions no further, we've come up with a few possible casting choices for the developing film. May we present:
As Barack Obama...
It's not exactly the most imaginative casting (as we've heard past talk of Smith eventually taking the presidential role), but when you happen upon a piece of casting like this, you don't shy away from it.As Mitt Romney...
This one's a bit stranger, which is what makes it all the more exciting. The Evil Dead maestro turning his talents loose as the Republican Party's 2012 candidate, inadvertently spouting binders full of memes and anti-Muppet agenda.As Joe Biden...
Sure, he hasn't done a movie in over 10 years. But that's exactly how long it took ol' Joe Biden to carve out the canyons, slay the mountaintop dragon, and bring peace to the kingdoms three. At least that's what this folk song has made me understand.As Paul Ryan...
As is the case with all political dramas, a B-story involving a VP hopeful's wacky behind-the-scenes high jinks is in order. Plus, a 45-minute scene in which Carell puts on a one-man show based off Atlas Shrugged. That's just good cinema.As Newt Gingrich...
Okay, yes, Holbrook might be a smidgen too old for the role of Gingrich, but you've got to take into account that people age faster on the moon. Which, in honor of the presidential hopeful's otherworldly endeavors, is where the film's post-credits epilogue will take place.As Michele Bachman...
We just really like Lorraine Bracco. The Sopranos. Bada bing! Right?As Herman Cain...
Honsou will have to go full-on bananas for the mysterious, so-strange-he-must-be-faking-it 2012 presidential hopeful, fostering harassment accusations and quoting Pokémon at every turn. Of course, Cain's inclusion will also warrant an appearance by Rachel Maddow (we're thinking Lizzy Caplan) as the hard-nosed investigator who eventually cracks the Cain mystery.Of course, there are many other prominent figures who contributed to the lunacy of the 2012 Presidential Election. Can you think up any other good political figure/actor pairings to make Double Down the perfect piece of small screen film?
[Photo Credits: Wenn(11); Getty Images(2); AP]
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Fear. It is the most base of all of mankind's emotions... next to hunger, and love of puppy-related Internet memes. And although fear is a phenomenon shared by all people, it takes many forms — tangible and intangible. Rational and irrational. Horror movie-inspired and not horror movie-inspired.
Hollywood has been adhering dreadful connotations to otherwise innocuous entities for generations now. In fact, today marks the 30-year anniversary of one of the film industry's most dastardly ruinations: Poltergeist — the movie that made TVs horrifying.
Before Poltergeist, television was the escape from late night terrors. When you found yourself kept up through the morning by a howling wind, creaking floorboard, or the ever-present threat of a forthcoming nuclear winter, you could flick on the television and ease your mind with comforting Nick at Nite reruns. At least that's what I did. Life before the 1990s must have been dark.
And then, Poltergeist found its way into my life. It wasn't my first foray into horror films. By this time, I had endured countless of losses at the hands of the genre. Psycho ruined showers — a particularly trying endeavor for a kid already struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Hausu ruined cats. Carrie ruined my impending teen years.
But Poltergeist crossed the line. I had always turned to my Sears Sanyo to get me through pitch-black anxieties about any approaching doom, in whatever form I had most recently learned that doom was capable of taking. And my imagination was expansive then. I was afraid of everything: birds, dolls, mirrors, the moon, hallways, vampires, my parents, ghosts, my bedroom walls, Grover, snakes, robots, Hulk Hogan. But once my mother had accepted the fact that I would never grow out of needing the television's company through the night, I found my cure. Cartoons and Mary Tyler Moore.
And then — bam! Someone let me watch Poltergeist. A movie that robbed me of the only source of comfort I knew in my childhood years. I couldn't zone out in unblinking bliss at the electronic friend that would tell me stories of gambling-addict cavemen and Minneapolis-based women trying to have it all. Now, my watching hours were laced with a new anxiety. "What if it suddenly turns to static?" I'd think. "What if the ghosts start flying out? What if they're heeere?"
I remember the decadent period of nights with my back turned to the still-on TV set, vying ardently to fall asleep before any sounds of static caught my ears. I remember experimenting with the television turned off for a while... a few minutes, maybe, before the hostile silence began to pierce my brain incessantly. I remember trying nightlights, devising long and elaborate stories in my head, and, out of desperation, actual sheep-counting. But none of it was as effective as TV had been.
I had to devise a plan. I needed my friend back. I missed sleep, and Rhoda. So, utilizing the logic only an emotionally damaged 7-year-old could so adamantly employ, I set out to beat the curse. I sat up one night, eyes locked with the imposing screen of a long estranged comrade, and watched every minute of the after-hours broadcast. I watched Herman and Grandpa Munster search for their lost pet Spot; I watched Murray Slaughter profess his love to coworker Mary Richards; Felix and Oscar got stuck on the subway; Paul Lynde said something covertly sexual on Bewitched. I watched every instant of the all-night broadcast until it the sun shone in through my window, comforting me with enough light to finally drift off to sleep... for the brief half an hour before I had to get up for school. But that didn't matter. I had won the war, and beaten the curse. Television was mine again.
And it would be for the next eight years... until I took it upon myself to join my friends to a late-night screening of The Ring. But by then, the war was easier. We had HBO.
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter.
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In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.
About a year back, NBC showed interest in developing a pilot for a reboot of the classic sitcom The Munsters, and established TV writer and producer Bryan Fuller was reportedly working on the project. Now, the project is officially underway.
The Munsters has a special place in my heart: it was the first show that brought me into the world of live-action television. When I was around six or seven, and addiction exclusively to cartoons, I remember The Munsters being the show that opened the Nick at Nite lineup, effectively terminating my animation intake for the evening. Ordinarily, I'd turn off the TV and head upstairs, but one night, based on my father's recommendation, I actually decided to give The Munsters a chance. And it was a good show to start with: it was silly, filled with funny-looking people doing simple, goofy things. It made the transition easy. From there, I gave other Nick at Nite shows a chance: I Love Lucy, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Odd Couple...long story short, The Munsters is heartily responsible for my love of television, and in turn, my current employ as a TV blogger.
And although this story is a personal, specific one, there are likely countless others who hold this classic sitcom in the same regard. So needless to say, we're skeptical that Fuller, master of the craft that he is, can really reproduce the whimsy of The Munsters. But this is not because he is untalented—Fuller has given us some fantastic television, including Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies and the first season of Heroes. It is not because of Fuller at all. I presume, instead, that it is because of the audience. People always gripe at the idea of remakes, "It'll never be as good as the original." Well, that's in part because we aren't capable of accepting that it can be as good as the original. Those of us, of my generation, who grew up with The Munsters as a Nick at Nite show aren't really capable of being that fascinated and enamored by something fresh, new and imaginative as we were as young children, watching the judge from My Cousin Vinny stomp around dressed as Frankenstein with a smile. The Munsters was brilliant because of its simplicity. But now that we're older, we're averse to simplicity. And everyone young enough to still appreciate simplicity probably hasn't ever heard of, let alone seen, the original The Munsters.
In short, I'm pessimistic about the success of The Munsters. Not about the quality—as I said, Fuller is brilliant and has it in him to create a great show. But it won't be The Munsters we once loved. Too simple, and we'll be bored by it. Too complex, and it'll be called a defamation and a different show entirely. I do truly hope that Fuller finds the middle-ground to please audiences. Kids today deserve to be brought into the underappreciated artform that is television with the same grace and magnitude that we were. And if this does end up being the show to do that for them, well...that's just poetry.
It almost makes you wanna trip over an ottoman, just for the hell of it.
Today marks fifty years since the premiere of The Dick Van Dyke Show, one of the most iconic and influential sitcoms in television history. The Dick Van Dyke Show, starred (you probably don’t need us to tell you) Dick Van Dyke as Rob Petrie, a family man and comedy writer for a New York City-based variety TV show. TDVDS seems to have all the facets of your standard workplace comedy—tyrannical boss, wisecracking coworkers, put-upon errand boy -- but there’s something that differentiates this series from others of its type: it was the first of its kind.
In fact, TDVDS was a pioneer not just as a workplace comedy (seriously—name one that came before it), but also in its portrayal of woman and minorities. One of the main characters, Sally Rogers, was a brash, single woman and professional comedy writer. TDVDS was nearly unprecedented in its portrayal of a black family as economic and societal equals to the Petries. And finally, it was one of the first shows to include a number of Jewish characters.
But in addition to these important sociopolitical steps, it was also the foundation for several types of comedic characters that have stood the test of time. We may not realize this, but characters from our favorite sitcoms today—workplace, family, all genres—draw inspiration from the cast of The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Liz Lemon (Tina Fey on 30 Rock)
Liz Lemon is the hapless head writer of TGS with Tracy Jordan, a sketch comedy show on NBC. Since the series' start, Liz is illustrated as a career woman who has let her work addiction, and (often ironically counterproductive) measures to advance the depiction of women on television, stand in the way of her personal life. However, Liz's mission is to "have it all." She wants to meet a good man and start a family, but is in no way willing to give up her demanding job. Additionally, the scattered attempts Liz does make at finding love are always ill-fated, either by her own abrasive personality or by her attraction to terrible men.
Each and every one of these characteristics can be traced back to Rose Marie's character, Sally Rogers, on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Sally's lack of apparent femininity led her to often be jokingly referred to as "one of the guys" by coworkers Rob and Buddy. She was a markedly successful professional writer, but she often lamented her inability to find a husband. The few men that Sally was seen with over the course of the series never offered much promise: her on-off love interest Herman Glimscher was immature (much like Liz's recurring boyfriend, and the best character in the history of television, Dennis Duffy). Furthermore, Sally often drove men away due to her unbridled personality and sense of humor.
Tom Haverford (
Aziz Ansari on Parks and Recreation)
While he was employed at the Parks Department of Pawnee, Indiana, Tom Haverford was rarely seen contributing to anything but the office vibe. Tom is an incurable wiseass. At every waking opportunity, he goofs off and makes fun of his coworkers (specifically Jerry...and Leslie...and Ben...and Jerry). There have been many quick-witted slackers over the years, but Tom is one we are pleased to have with us today. And, of course, we might not have Tom if we never had Morey Amsterdam's character, Buddy Sorrell, on The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Although Buddy's work ethic was slightly more impressive than Tom's (after all, he was a comedy writer, so technically, making fun of the producer was part of the job...right?), he was not exactly a model employee. Buddy never let an opportunity to snark at producer Mel Cooley slip by, usually vying for the obvious target of his baldness. Like Tom, Buddy was shown to be a decent guy underneath his attitude -- still a jackass, but a decent jackass.
Dean Craig Pelton (Jim Rash on Community)
Every fan of Community (that I know) cheers whenever Greendale Community College's Dean Craig Pelton struts into the library to deliver what will inevitably be unappreciated, irrelevant, and annoying news to the study group. The dean is the biggest victim of the eightsome's constant barrage of mockery due to his overzealous embrace of everything that he has to say. Somehow, despite his laughable appearance and incredibly peculiar personality, Dean Pelton takes himself incredibly seriously, and takes great offense to anyone who insults him or his job.
In this case, there are as many physical similarities between Pelton and Richard Deacon's Dick Van Dyke character Mel Cooley as there are personal. The bald, bespectacled Mel cherished his position of authoirty over the fun-loving gang of writers. However, his authority was strictly in title; he rarely commanded any respect from the trio, especially Buddy. Mel was the victim of endless abuse from the wisecracking comedians. Still, he carried out his position with great pride, much like Dean Pelton does his. Of course, Mel was never shown to be a pansexual deviant...maybe Community got that from Leave it to Beaver.
Ryan Howard (B.J. Novak on The Office)
Ah, the horrible boss. Beyond every other staple in workplace comedy has this one pervaded. Now, one might find it curious that, in use of The Office, we wouldn't highlight the iconic Michael Scott as the 'bad boss.' The thing is, Michael, while bumbling, insecure, immature, and ill-equipped for his position, was actually a pretty decent guy...underneath it all, anyway. Ryan Howard, however, during his reign as Michael's superior at Dunder Mifflin Corporate, was very much the opposite. He embodied perfectly the 'evil boss.' He was seflish, egotistical, insensitive, and obsessed with own success over others' and the company's. He was not above belittling, berating or manipulating his employees if it meant getting what he wanted.
Over the years, there have been many, many terrible bosses. But they all date back to creator Carl Reiner's character Alan Brady, star of the in-universe Alan Brady Show for which Rob, Sally and Buddy were writers. Alan originated as a faceless character, much like the George Steinbrenner character we saw in Seinfeld. Once the show made a transition into depicting Brady as a full-fledged character, he got meaner, ruder, more narcissitic and less compassionate -- especially to his own brother-in-law, Mel.
Phil and Claire Dunphy (Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen on Modern Family)
Phil and Claire are a classic formula. Goofy husband, high-strung wife. Both good-hearted and devoted to one another. Unlike some other series of recent past, it is easy to see why Phil and Claire love each other. Their differences are not played to extremes in the interests of laughable chaos. We actually see plenty of their similarities, as well. While Phil's bumbling nature often causes Claire grief, and Claire's flusterability (just go with it) might upset Phil, we never doubt that they're right for each other.
And this is something we definitely find in Rob and Laura Petrie, played by Dick Van Dyke himself and the great Mary Tyler Moore. They started it all: the great married couple. Not perfect to the point of inhuman like the Cleavers. Not flawed to the point of "Well, why are they even married?" like the Barrones. Totally real. Totally lovable. Totally memorable. Like the show itself, a true legacy.