If I can’t have either Jonathan Groff, Taylor Kitsch, or both Groff and Kitsch all to myself, at least they can have each other. The gorgeous Glee and Friday Night Lights heartthrobs, respectively, have just signed on to star as lovers in Ryan Murphy’s upcoming dramatic HBO film The Normal Heart.
The TV movie is based on a largely autobiographical 1985 play by Larry Kramer and focuses on the rise of the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City in the early 1980s. Groff will take on the role of Craig, one of the early victims of the disease. Kitsch will play Bruce Niles, an investment banker who becomes an AIDS activist after falling in love with Craig.
Groff and Kitsch join Broadway actor/director Joe Mantello, who was just cast as Mickey Marcus, a man who was an instrumental member of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. Previously announced cast members include Julia Roberts as Dr. Emma Brookner (a disabled physician who treats the very first AIDS patients), Avengers star Mark Ruffalo as Ned Weeks (a gay activist witnessing the early outbreak of the disease), Matt Bomer as Felix Turner (Ned's lover), and Jim Parsons as Tommy Boatwright.
The Normal Heart will premiere in 2014 on HBO.
Follow Sydney on Twitter: @SydneyBucksbaum
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Sunday night on TV is notoriously dramatic — from revenge-seeking socialites in the Hamptons, to fairy tales with deathly consequences, to zombie-fighting. So, why not take in the breath of fresh air that is The Makeover?
In this romantic TV movie, Hannah Higgins (Julia Stiles) is a smart and driven education consultant. She's so driven, in fact, that she runs for Congress to advance the cause of education reform. But Hannah is not a likable candidate, as her elitism turns off Boston voters big-time. However she and her business partner, Colleen Pickering (Camryn Manheim), don't give up easily, and in the following election recruit a candidate who definitely is a man of the people, beer vendor Elliot Doolittle (David Walton). The two make a bet on whether they can transform him into a political player.
What follows is a light romantic comedy-esque trope (mild spoiler alert… but not really if you’ve ever seen any romantic movie ever) with Hannah and Elliot doing the dance of we-hate-each-other-then-we fall-for-each-other. But the reason The Makeover stands out from the overpopulated crowd of romantic TV movies is the stellar acting from the cast behind the characters.
Stiles is a veteran actor, dating all the way back to the days of her iconic role in 10 Things I Hate About You, where she won the heart of Heath Ledger's bad boy, to her recent season-long stint on Dexter, as well as her brilliant yet smaller role as Jennifer Lawrence's sister in the award-winning Silver Linings Playbook. So what made her decide to take on this lighter role?
“I was really at a time in my life when I wanted to do something light and romantic and to go to work everyday and be able to laugh,” Stiles told Hollywood.com at the red carpet premiere of The Makeover. “I had been doing a lot of drama. And as much as that’s rewarding and challenging and great, I just wanted to do something romantic. I’m kind of a sucker for that stuff.”
NBC veteran Walton decided to take a break from the Peacock to get back to his Boston roots, but the challenge of taking on a deep Boston accent almost turned him off of the movie. “I grew up in Boston. And I was really scared to do a thick accent or any accent because I had never done one on a show, and being scared is always a good way to start things,” Walton told Hollywood.com. “I like that challenging aspect. And I thought it was just a really sweet story. I don’t really get a lot of chances to play nice guys. But he’s just a sweet, nice, kind of heroic guy and I liked that. It appealed to me.”
Walton was afraid of his attempt at a deep Boston accent becoming almost a parody of his hometown, and he strived to make it believable through a couple different ways. “Everything from going to the Cask’n Flagon in Boston, and listening to people, and trying to talk to all my old friends who live in Boston… I really just started talking like that basically and don’t stop for like two months,” Walton said. “And then trying to figure out the levels, basically was just the most extreme sounding SNL Boston accent and then dial it back like 10 percent. Just so that it didn’t seem like an SNL accent.”
ABC and Hallmark Hall of Fame's The Makeover premieres tonight at 9:00 PM ET/PT on ABC.
[Photo Credit: Erick Heinila/ABC]
Follow Sydney on Twitter @SydneyBucksbaum
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One of the best-kept secrets in teenage television (and book) history, the identity of Gossip Girl will finally be revealed in the sixth and final season of the CW drama. Executive producers Stephanie Savage and Sara Goodman reveal in a video released Friday that they know the identity of the mysterious, troublemaking, dirty-laundry-airing blogger, and soon fans will too. While Gossip Girl’s site was controlled by Georgina (Michelle Trachtenberg) and then held hostage by Serena (Blake Lively) for some time last season, the real Gossip Girl reclaimed control and is back in a big way come Monday night.
I, for one, can’t wait to find out just who has enough time on their hands to find out every single secret our favorite Upper East Siders have been hiding. And neither can the cast of GG: Watch them try to wildly guess who the titular mystery person is in the clip. You'll never guess who their most popular choice is...
Watch the video below, and hit the comments with your theories on who Gossip Girl is!
The final season of Gossip Girl premieres Monday on The CW.
Follow Sydney on Twitter @SydneyBucksbaum
[Photo Credit: CW]
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Despite Jimmy Kimmel’s disappointing turn as host, the nighttime talk show host delivered an increase in viewers during this year's telecast, according to early ratings postings.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sunday night's broadcast raked in 13.2 million viewers, up from 2011's 12.4 million eyes.
Kimmel, however, couldn't quite go head-to-head with Sunday Night Football, which featured a Ravens-Patriots match-up and attracted 19.8 million viewers. After seeing some of Kimmel's eye roll-worthy stunts — a fake In Memoriam tribute? Really? — we couldn't blame the pigskin fans.
Listen up, Emmy: Want to compete with sports? You would find yourself with a win if you tap TV's funniest ladies — Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Melissa McCarthy, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus — to host. After all, they collectively delivered the best moments of the night.
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Well it looks like things are finally happening with the billion and a half fairy tale movies heading towards production. Filming officially begun for Tarsem Singh's untitled Snow White comedy-action adventure. It follows Julia Roberts as the evil queen (duh) and up-and-comer Lily Collins.
This is of course, big news for Universal's adaptation of the same story, Snow White and the Huntsman, which stars Kristin Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron. I guess the race is on to see who can make the best Snow White-themed project.
Check out the press release below if that's your sort of thing:
(Beverly Hills, CA) June 15, 2011 – Filming on Relativity Media’s comedy action-adventure Untitled Snow White will begin on Monday, June 20, 2011, under the stylish direction of Tarsem Singh (Immortals, The Cell).
In Relativity's Untitled Snow White starring Oscar®-winner Julia Roberts and breakout star Lily Collins (The Blind Side), an evil Queen (Roberts) steals control of a kingdom, and an exiled princess (Collins) enlists the help of seven resourceful rebels to win back her birthright in a spirited adventure comedy filled with jealousy, romance, and betrayal that will capture the imagination of audiences the world over. The film also stars Armie Hammer (The Social Network) as the object of their affection, Prince Andrew Alcott, and Nathan Lane (The Birdcage) as the hapless and bungling servant to the Queen.
Rounding out the cast are: Mare Winningham (Brothers) as Baker Margaret, Michael Lerner (Elf) as Baron and Mark Povinelli (Water for Elephants), Jordan Prentice (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle), Danny Woodburn (Watchmen), Sebastian Saraceno (Bedtime Stories), Ronald Lee Clark (Epic Movie), Martin Klebba (Pirates of The Caribbean) and Joey Gnoffo (The Benchwarmers) as the Seven Dwarfs.
Singh’s behind the scenes creative team includes: Director of Photography Brendan Galvin (Behind Enemy Lines), Production Designer Tom Foden (The Cell) and the Oscar®-winning Costume Designer Eiko Ishioka (Dracula). Untitled Snow White will film entirely on location in Montreal, Canada.
The film's producers are Ryan Kavanaugh (The Fighter), Bernie Goldmann (300) and Brett Ratner (Rush Hour franchise). The script was written by Melisa Wallack (Meet Bill) and Jason Keller (Machine Gun Preacher).
Breslin made her Broadway debut in the show, about a young deaf and blind Helen Keller and her instructor, played by Pill, in New York on Wednesday night (03Mar10).
But the pair's performance, along with that of co-stars Matthew Modine and Jennifer Morrison, who play Keller's parents, were met with a lukewarm response - with director Kate Whoriskey being criticised by writers at trade publication Backstage for her "troubled staging".
A critic from the New York Times echoes the sentiment: "Surely this production, the first revival of The Miracle Worker to come to Broadway, could have highlighted the play's strengths more effectively... Ms. Whoriskey's production never finds its focus."
The reviewer also questions casting and direction, calling 13-year-old Breslin "probably a tad mature for the role of Helen", while adding Modine "appears to have been directed to speak loudly and in italics, as if the audience itself might be hearing-impaired".
The Hollywood Reporter was more receptive to Breslin's performance, dubbing it "deeply touching".
However, the publication was less kind to Whoriskey and supporting actors Modine and Morrison: "The action takes place in numerous locations, with pieces of furniture distractingly descending from the ceiling at various times... The supporting performances are less effective, with Matthew Modine too blustery as Helen's Civil War veteran father; Jennifer Morrison not making much of an impression as Helen's devoted mother."
The Miracle Worker is not the only big-name Broadway production to struggle to win over critics in the past year - Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig's turn in A Steady Rain proved to be a big hit with fans, but it was largely panned by theatre reviewers when it opened in September (09).
Meanwhile, Jude Law's Hamlet had writers split in their opinion and in October (09), Bill Pullman and Julia Stiles failed to wow critics with their performance in Oleanna.
Based on E.B. White’s enduring children’s story we meet Wilbur the Pig (Dominic Scott Kay) a runt who is saved from the axe by a little farm girl named Fern (Dakota Fanning). She raises Wilbur from infancy but eventually she has to send Wilbur over to her uncle’s neighboring farm since there’s no room for a pig in her house. There in the barn Wilbur meets the assortment of colorful animal characters: Betsy (Reba McEntire) and Bitsy (Kathy Bates) two pessimistic cows; motherly goose Gussy (Oprah Winfrey) and her henpecked hubby Golly (Cedric the Entertainer); Samuel (John Cleese) an uptight sheep; the skittish horse Ike (Robert Redford); the self-serving rat Templeton (Steve Buscemi); and of course sweet Charlotte (Julia Roberts) a spider with a heart of gold. When the naïve Wilbur finds out he might be Christmas dinner Charlotte makes a promise to her new friend that she’ll do everything in her power to make sure Wilbur sees the Christmas snow—and everyone ends up helping her out. What could be more fun than to voice a barnyard animal? Winfrey and Cedric’s geese banter is like an old married couple. Cleese gives Samuel the sheep a certain upper-crustiness. Redford is actually pretty funny as a horse who’s deathly afraid of spiders (“I’ll listen to you but I just can’t look at you”). Buscemi is a particularly nice choice as the sneaky rat Templeton who only thinks about filling his belly with food (no typecasting there we swear). For pure comic relief there are also two crows voiced by Andre Benjamin and Thomas Haden Church who just can’t quite get around the whole scarecrow thing. And as Charlotte Roberts has a truly soothing and loving tone sort of how you’d imagine it from the book. As for the human aspect Fanning continues to do what she does best playing Fern with the right amount of youthful innocence spunkiness and determination. Just wondering how we are going to handle it when this amazing little actress grows up and starts doing like adult things. Actually it is sort of a shame they couldn’t get a live-action version of Charlotte's Web made before Babe. Sure there was the 1973 animated cutesy film but a live-action adaptation of this timeless tale really should have been the standard by which all computer-generated talking farm animal movies would follow don’t you think? Instead Charlotte's Web pales ever so slightly in comparison. Oh well water under the bridge. Director Gary Winick (13 Going on 30) still manages to invoke the wonderful and uplifting spirit of the novel keeping faithful to the text in all ways. Visually the film is crisp and flawless in its execution particularly in the beauty and splendor of how Charlotte spins her webs and emotionally hearts will indeed swell and tears will flow. Charlotte's Web is the perfect family movie to inspire the next generation of young readers and viewers as well as for the rest of us who fondly remember the childhood classic.
Everything appears to be status quo between humans and mutants. There’s a president who is sympathetic towards mutants Prof. Charles Xavier’s (Patrick Stewart) school is thriving and Magneto (Ian McKellen) is quiet--for the moment. But when a “cure” for mutancy is discovered which would give those with the mutant gene the choice to give up their powers and become human Magneto sees red. Cure mutants? Dem’s fightin’ words. With a few more allies on his side--including the resurrected Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) who now calls herself the Phoenix and has unlimited powers--Magneto prepares to trigger the war to end all wars while the X-Men--lead by the stalwart Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and milquetoasty Storm (Halle Berry)--try to stop him. I seriously doubt this is really their Last Stand. All the usual suspects are back. Stewart is once again sufficiently wise as Xavier while McKellen’s Magneto continues to be one of the cooler comic-book villains. It’s amusing to watch him calmly mangle cars or dislodge the Golden Gate bridge with a gleam in his eye. Janssen also seems to relish playing dual roles--the tormented Grey and her evil alter ego Phoenix who is one scary broad. Unfortunately Jackman doesn’t have as much to chew on in Last Stand as he did in X2 and Berry is once again only good for drumming up fog. But the new mutants are kind of fun: Ellen Page (so deadly in Hard Candy) plays sweet this time as Kitty Pryde who can “phase” through solid material; Vinnie Jones (Snatch) is boisterous as the aptly named Juggernaut; Kelsey Grammer is diplomatic as the highly intelligent--and very blue--Dr. Hank McCoy aka Beast; and Dania Ramirez (Fat Albert) as the blink-of-an-eye quick Callisto gets to kick Storm’s ass. Cool cat fight. How dare director Bryan Singer leave his X-Men to go direct another superhero movie even if it is Superman Returns. If Wolverine had anything to say about he might have ripped Singer a new one. You really do feel Singer’s absence in The Last Stand. All of the director’s tormented pathos towards his mutant comrades and their struggles to live in the human world are not as prevalent in this third installment. Instead we’ve got happy-go-lucky director Brett Ratner of Rush Hour fame who turns The Last Stand into one giant id--big explosive and campy. Of course to his credit Ratner is pretty good at delivering a rousing albeit superficial action movie. It’s just not as gripping as X2. But listen the spirit of the comic is already built in from the previous installments so in essence we already know these characters pretty well. Do we really need more angst?
Peter Appleton (Jim Carrey) has it made. His screenwriting career is on the rise his first movie's just been made and he's got a cute girl. Life is good--until the House Un-American Activities Committee mistakenly fingers him as a Communist and he quickly falls from the A-list to the blacklist. Getting dumped by both his studio and his girl is nothing a little drinking can't remedy but after drowning his sorrows he nearly drowns himself when he decides to drive drunk and his car veers into the river knocking him unconscious. When Peter comes to he can't remember who he is or where he came from so he's taken in by the kindly people of Lawson a burg stuck in time and still mourning the loss of many of its sons in World War II. They mistake him for Luke Trimble one of their long-lost boys who went MIA in World War II and are overjoyed at his return. Luke's father Harry (Martin Landau) whose zest for life had dwindled so much that he let his beloved movie house The Majestic fall to ruin but with "Luke's" return he plans to reopen it. Celebrations abound. Peter-as-Luke even returns to his relationship with fiancée Adele (Laurie Holden). Meanwhile Peter may have forgotten who he was but the Feds haven't and they're on his tail.
When Carrey's given the right material like he was with The Truman Show he can exhibit moments of greatness. The Majestic doesn't give Carrey the leeway to show his quirky sensibilities demanding that he play it straight throughout the movie (there are a few--too few--glances at humor that Carrey doesn't play up). To bring off the kind of schmaltz this movie oozes Carrey had to bring something of an edge to his character. Instead Peter is neither likable nor unlikable coming off as a bland confused schmo until the climactic end which after two hours of his weak personality is wholly unbelievable. Landau is unexciting as a caricature of the sad sentimental old man without hope--you want to sympathize but there's something faintly chilly about him. Holden's liberated-woman lawyer might have played better in a contemporary movie; she looks and acts too much like a modern-day actress trying to portray a woman of the '50s.
Was this some kind of vanity project dreamed up by a director too taken with his own greatness and past success? Was Frank Darabont envisioning an It's a Wonderful Life for the next generation? (Psst…it's likely the majority of the modern moviegoing public doesn't know who Frank Capra is and could care less especially when the movie is as slow and as completely unbelievable as this one.) Apparently Darabont's in love with his own direction because hardly a moment goes by without some lingering reaction shot. Darabont took an intriguing story about amnesia and mistaken identity and slathered it with sap. Old-fashioned period stories can be lots of fun but it's imperative they be able to keep a present-day audience's interest by including a bit of modern wit and pace. Unfortunately this sticks to the straight-and-narrow. Nobody's going to buy the two-dimensional main characters the shiny happy townspeople or especially the schlocky my-country-'tis-of-thee finale. In its favor The Majestic's ultimate message is a nice one. The movie does have its heartfelt moments and its '50s feel is authentic if a little polished.