Now that How I Met Your Mother seems to be tacking on one more year to its never-ending narrative — totaling nine seasons of Bob Saget narrating Josh Radnor’s exploits to meet, wed, and procreate with his soul mate — some fans are wondering just what the cast and creators have in store for this final chapter. And not all theories are exactly drenched in optimism.
See, How I Met Your Mother peaked a few years back, slipping more recently into a lazier, more farfetched farce that has strayed from Ted Mosby’s central storyline toward the on-again-off-again romance between Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) and Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris). Talks of “meeting the mother” are few and far between these days, excepting the odd yellow umbrella Easter egg. Now, if this pattern were to continue into the newly prophesized Season 9, we’d just be gearing up for more boredom on the parts of the audience and the actors (or so it seems, at least) alike. But a shift in formula, and some new rules of play, might very well make an additional year with this long-running story work quite well.
Rule 1: Let’s Meet the Mother
Back when Season 8 seemed to be the last stop on this New York coupling’s journey, we figured that the upcoming finale would at last introduce Ted to his future wife. Just because Season 9 is afoot, that doesn’t mean this plan should be abandoned — we’ve run the gambit of Ted making his way towards the eventual Mrs. Mosby. Now, we should see him making his way with her. After all, The Mother in question shouldn’t just be a target — someone who has earned this degree of mythos needs to be bulked up in character. Following an introduction at the end of the present eighth season, we can spend Season 9 watching the two T.M.s fall for one another, date, undertake their share of ups and downs, and eventually marry. And then with the kids, as people are wont to do.
Rule 2: Age These Characters Appropriately
When we met Ted, Robin, and Barney, they were in their mid-20s, not long out of college, exploring single life in the Big City through a series of sexual escapades that would call for ethical critique from some of your drunkest of frat brothers. But it was… forgivable. Now that these people are rounding 35, their bachelorial endeavors just seem creepy. The constant philandering and self-debasement on the parts of these characters is no longer “cute.” In fact, it’s no longer “watchable.” Luckily, Barney and Robin seem to be tying the knot… but if this just a classic How I Met Your Mother bait-and-switch, then hopefully they’ll both keep to a more mature path from now on.
Rule 3: Wacky Hijinks or Heavy Melodrama — Pick One!
This show was founded on high spirits, cartoonish characters, and fantastical situations throughout post-millennial New York City. But somewhere along the way, the mood shifted toward stories of infertility and chronic loneliness. There’s merit in both of these extremes, but they seem to have trouble coexisting successfully… it’s hard to take Barney and Robin seriously when they’re accompanied by Marshall and Lily madness. And it’s hard to suspend disbelief for some of the zanier antics when other parts of this universe strive to feel grounded. Make up your mind, How I Met Your Mother
Rule 4: More Ranjit
I like Ranjit.
Rule 5: Stop Toying with Us
This show has lied to us one too many times. It’s impossible to trust How I Met Your Mother anymore. Drop the magic act, show, and instead just present things as they are from here on out: be straightforward and earnest. Nothing is lost from a direct approach.
What do you think it will take to make a ninth season of How I Met Your Mother work?
[Photo Credit: CBS]
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You may not know Tom Kenny, but you know Tom Kenny. As the voice of SpongeBob Squarepants since 1999 and nearly 300 other acting credits including cartoons, movies, and commercials, Kenny is one of the leading voice actors working in the business. He has an energy and passion for the job — as he tells Hollywood.com, it's not a job for everyone but it's the job for him.
This holiday season, one of Kenny's long-gestating projects is finally realized in the form of the It's A SpongeBob Christmas!, a fully stop-motion Christmas special (a la the classic Rankin and Bass era cartoons) that's airing now on Nickeleodoeon and available on DVD in time for the season. Kenny's enthusiasm for voice over work, music from the '60s and '70s, and general merriment collide in the special, which comes accompanied by a truly fantastic album of the same name, featuring songs written by the actor.
We sat down with Kenny to discuss life with Spongebob for over a decade and writing songs for the special:
How does every job differ from you compared to your consist work as SpongeBob?
Tom Kenny: I approach it like a session drummer would. Or a wrecking crew guy. I identify with those guys so much, those invisibly ubiquitous guys during the '60s and '70s. Everything from film soundtracks to TV theme songs to cartoon soundtracks to Frank SInatra records to Beach Boy records. It's all the same handful of people doing it all. I think that's how my job is.
It's amazing how something you think of as a one-off thing has this timed release. Like commercials, one of those things you did years ago, suddenly is brought up again and again and again. It has to do with kids who are watching things that was just an afternoon in your life. You don't realize that's some kid's main thing. There is some kid whose mind is being blown.
I'm sure you get that at Comic-Con.
Kenny: Everyone has something. And you think, 'Really, that?' For me it's video games. Early video games, like Spyro the Dragon, people who were kids when those games were out, they're older and ... it's a really huge deal.
They bow down to you Wayne's World-style.
Kenny: Yeah, they want inside dope on the recording [laughs]. If you do the math — I did that in 1995 or 1996 — if those people were eight years old, they're in their 20s now coming up to you at Comic-Con saying, 'Dude, I got to meet Spyro, man!'
SpongeBob must get that too.
Kenny: That you expect because it's a big global phenomenon. I go to a remote corner of the world and you'll see some kid with a Spongebob t-shirt on. We were in a mountain village in Italy, way off the beaten track, and the waitress had a Spongebob t-shirt on. Doesn't even speak English. And if she does watch SpongeBob, it's not me. It's some guy using me as a template!
There are a lot of Christmas specials, but unlike the SpongeBob special, I don't recall many with great voice actors in them.
Kenny: Even as a kid when I was growing up, they used celebrities that were too old for the audience. Burl Ives, who? There are snippets of dialogue that stand out — like when Rudolph has that nasal voice when he has the black ball covering up his nose, or the dentist who wanted to be an elf. To my brother and I he had the funniest line for no reason: 'A dentist? Good grief!' And we'd slam the door. We'd do it all the time. But no, not a lot of memorable voice actors.
What's amazing to me is that you can sing in the SpongeBob voice and do so to great lengths in the Christmas special. Is that the hard part of the job?
Kenny: I do a fair amount of singing on SpongeBob and the other shows too. In fact, I wrote a lot of the songs on Spongebob, cowrote with a guy named Andy Paley. We wrote, 'Don't Be a Jerk It's Christmas' and that became the springboard of the special.
We wrote that in 2009 and just kind of handed it out as a gift to people on the show. And I remember it was just at a time when there was just this outburst of a**hole behavior: Michael VIck and his dog fighting thing, Joe Wilson screaming, and it was really grew from all that. Talking about seeds you plant and the whole Spyro thing...
Wow, so this special took years of being angry at the world to come to fruition.
Kenny: [Laughs] Not angry, just ashamed of my species. So Andy and I came up with this story line where there's an element called 'Jerktonium' and if a meteorite of jerktonium lands in your town, it turns everyone into jerks. And Plankton gets ahold of some and bakes it into fruit cakes for everybody and disseminates into an outbreak of jerktonium. A pandemic of jerkiness.
And the album... we had been trying to pitch a Christmas album for some years. Why do the Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Muppets but not SpongeBob — that's crazy. Ironically, we're able to use all those very old school, chameleon studio musicians from the '60s and '70s that I've always idolized. Corky Hale, who is a female harpist who's played with Billie Holiday and Liberace. She's played with Bjork, so she spans generations. James Burton, who was Ricky Nelson's guitarist and later Elvis in Vegas movies. Tommy Morgan who was the harmonica player on Green Acres and every legendary tv theme.
So we got the real guys who made those records sound the way they did. It's pretty cool. It's a fun labor of love. We wrote real songs. Let's do something for kids, write songs that sound like it came from 1961. Sandy's from Texas, and I love Western swing, like a Bob Wills record from 1940.
Looking ahead, I know you're doing another Spongebob movie. Have you begun work on that?
Kenny: No, but I'm excited about it. Not even close though — I know very little about it, but I know the show is on a break form awhile. We just wrapped on some of the episodes before the movie, because the writers get repurposed on to the movie. So it's a break. But we've renegotiated so I don't think the show is ending.
Speaking of sequels, you worked with Michael Bay on the Transformers movies — do you know if you'll be back for the fourth one?
Kenny: [Laughs] I haven't heard but I'm sending him some nice muffins....
Does Bay come in and direct the voice actors?
Kenny: Think about it for a minute: of course. Who is the bigger control freak than Michael Bay? He wouldn't turn that over to anyone. I get the feeling he likes that aspect of it. He likes being in with the voiceover actors. Sometimes his relationships with the on-screen actors aren't... the greatest [laughs]. And I think he likes to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty. He likes voice actors. He hangs out with the crew. He goes to bat for his people. He also won't take diva attitudes from anyone. And since voice actors are one step on the ladder above people who set up the Tilt-a-Whirl at the carnival, there's no diva behavior.
Check local listings for It's a SpongeBob Christmas!, running through the holidays on Nickelodeon and pick up the album available now.
[Photo Credit: Nickelodeon]
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
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Ernest Borgnine has passed away at the age of 95. The actor's rep, Lynda Bensky, confirmed the news in a statement to Hollywood.com: "It's a very sad day. The industry has lost someone great, the caliber of which we will never see again. A true icon. But more importantly the world has lost a sage and loving man who taught us all how to 'grow young'. His infectious smile and chuckle made the world a happier place."
Borgnine’s career began on a suggestion from his mother, who believed his personality was well suited for the stage. The Hamden, Conn.-born actor took his mother’s advice and ran with it, racking up a series of roles on stage before heading to both the big and small screens.
His career spanned six decades, making him an icon of the business, beloved and respected by many. Known widely for being a dynamic character actor, Borgnine made the Hollywood scene his playground, making a name for himself with generally villainous roles. His career-bucking role as a lovelorn butcher in 1955’s Marty won him an Oscar for Best Actor. Other highlights of his career include playing the sadistic Sargeant “Fatso” Judson in 1953's From Here to Eternity (where he had the tremendous duty of taunting a one Mr. Frank Sinatra), and his long-standing run on McHale’s Navy as the title character Quinton McHale.
Borgnine continued to work well into his later years, lending voice work to the popular children’s show Spongebob SquarePants. The actor also won himself an Emmy for his work on the final season of ER. His final acting resume totaled 203 titles — an impressive number by any standard. Additional roles in The Wild Bunch, The Dirty Dozen, and Escape from New York solidified his tremendous talent and Hollywood icon status. His 2007 Golden Globe nomination for a Hallmark film A Grandpa for Christmas made him the oldest actor to ever receive the honor.
He remarked in 1973 that having the starring role was never the most important goal for him, explaining, “I don’t care whether a role is 10 minutes long or two hours,” which showed his passion for the craft rather than the hullabaloo of fame itself.
In addition to acting, Borgnine spent 10 years in the Navy, and was the playful face of his wife Tova Traesnaes Borgnine’s “Beauty by Tova” skincare line for a time. They were married for 34 years.
When it came to growing young, Borgnine explained that his secret was to just keep working; something he loved and did until his last days. He will be remembered for his charisma and ability to bring real life to whatever role he took on.
[Image Credit: WENN.com]
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Gothams hail Sideways
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Brokaw bids adieu to viewers
After almost 23 years as NBC Nightly News anchor, Tom Brokaw ended Wednesday night's broadcast with a touching farewell. "Thanks for all that I have learned from you," he said, expressing gratitude to his viewers. "That's been my richest reward." Brokaw is leaving Nightly News and daily journalism to pursue other interests, but will still contribute to NBC News, doing at least three documentaries a year, the AP reports. A South Dakota native who joined NBC in 1966, Brokaw was White House correspondent from 1973 to 1976 and anchored Today from 1976 to 1981. He began his Nightly News stint in April 1982, sharing the anchor title with Roger Mudd, and emerged as solo anchor in September 1983.
Nick and Jessica perplexed by rumor mill
During an appearance on ABC News' Good Morning America, Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey denied tabloid rumors their marriage is on the rocks. "We really are trying to think of where this whole firestorm of gossip came from," Lachey said. "We haven't been able to find really one instance or one public spat." Simpson scoffed at stories she didn't wear her wedding ring to a recent public event because of the couple's alleged marital troubles. "It was a fashion decision," Simpson said, explaining her yellow gold bracelets didn't match her large platinum and diamond wedding rings. "I'm kind of finicky about gold jewelry ... about matching it with silver. Now I don't look at it as that. It's just always going to stay on my finger. It's never coming off."
Knight maybe involved in Vibe melee
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Joan, Raymond top Family Awards
CBS' Joan of Arcadia and Everybody Loves Raymond were among the winners at the sixth annual Family Television Awards, presented Wednesday in Los Angeles, Reuters reports. Joan and Raymond won in the drama and comedy categories, respectively, while Joan star Amber Tamblyn and Raymond's Doris Roberts tied for actress honors, while Bernie Mac, star of the Fox comedy The Bernie Mac Show, won in the actor category. ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition won best reality program, while the network's Lost took the best new series prize. The awards, organized by the Family Friendly Programming Forum, honor "outstanding work in family-friendly television entertainment."
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Inflatable SpongeBobs stolen!
Be on the look out for a thief carrying around 9-foot-wide SpongeBob SquarePants inflatables. More than 50 SpongeBob-nappings have been reported from Florida to Utah since the Nickelodeon pop icon started appearing on the roofs of Burger King restaurants in a promotional tie-in with the hit movie, AP reports. "We don't have any theories. SpongeBob SquarePants is kind of a fad. It could be a childhood prank or an adult trying to get a fad item for Christmas," Florida's Putnam County sheriff's Lt. Steve Rose told the AP Wednesday. "If any leads come across, we will follow up in hopes of making an arrest."
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.