Michael Arbeiter
Staff editor Michael Arbeiter’s natural state of being can best be described as “mild panic attack.” His earliest memories of growing up in Queens, New York, involve nighttime conversations with a voice from his bedroom wall (the jury’s still out on what that was all about) and a love for classic television that spawned from the very first time he was allowed to watch “The Munsters.” Attending college at SUNY Binghamton, a 20-year-old Michael learned two things: that he could center his future on this love for TV and movies, and that dragons never actually existed — he was kind of late in the game on that one.
  • Would Harrison Ford's Appearance in a 'Blade Runner' Sequel Finally Answer the Film's Iconic Question?
    By: Michael Arbeiter October 09, 2013 3:45pm EST
    Warner Bros "Was Rick Deckard a Replicant?" It's a question that has haunted us for more than three decades now. Alongside the likes of "What was in the briefcase in Pulp Fiction?" or "What did Bill Murray whisper to Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation?" or "Why did anyone greenlight Movie 43?", this quandary about the nature of Harrison Ford's character in Blade Runner ranks as one of the most formidable movie mysteries of all time. And although the riddle is what helps to imbue the Ridley Scott sci-fi epic with such lasting gravitas, we might actually be closing in on an answer. In speaking with IGN, the usually closed-mouthed Ford revealed that he has been "chatting about" the possibility of joining a Blade Runner sequel with Ridley Scott, whom he states that he "admire[s] ... as a man and as a director." While the inclusion of the Rick Deckard character in a follow-up to Scott's 1982 feature would not necessitate an answer to the eternally booming question, the casting of Ford might very well leave us with speculations. After all, Ford is, and looks, 30 years older than he was in Blade Runner. And if he was a Replicant — to those unfamiliar with the terminology, an android — this (or any) degree of organic aging might seem quite curious. That's not to say that Scott and his screenwriters couldn't conceivably write around the idea, maintaining the ambiguity of Deckard's humanity. And while we're hesitant about a Blade Runner sequel, especially one with Ford involved (his recent turns in front of the camera have not come with the same whimsy for performing that we used to know), we're not ready to cast out the project entirely. Prometheus had its faults, but was overall a worthwhile time at the movies. If Blade Runner 2 is at least that, we'd call it a win. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • The First Biopic About Roger Ebert Will Take a Surprising Approach
    By: Michael Arbeiter October 09, 2013 1:33pm EST
    C.M. Wiggins/WENN Roger Ebert's passing away in April marked a loss for every corner of the Hollywood world. For the critical culture most obviously, but also for writers, filmmakers, fans, and any other community even tacitly linked to the movie business. Those devoted followers of Ebert's career beyond his work at the Chicago Sun-Times and on At the Movies will recall a 28-year-old aspiring screenwriter teaming (for the first time) with director Russ Meyer on Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, a musical romp through the NC-17 rated valleys of a sex-and-drug-infused showbiz underworld. An interesting episode for Ebert's professional story indeed, Cinemablend reports that writer/producer Christopher Cluess (MADtv) is developing a biographical feature about the making of the film. Titled Russ and Roger Go Beyond, Cluess' script will follow the characters of Ebert and friend/collaborator Meyer as they try and ultimately succeed to get this unlikely picture made. While we aren't surprised to hear of an Ebert biopic underway, even so soon, this is hardly the first patch of the renowned critic's life that we expected Hollywood to mine for focal inspiration. Something like Gene and Roger Go to the Movies would have been a more likely exploit... and will probably find life in some form down the line. But while we anticipate most hungrily a hearty look at how Ebert helped to challenge and transform the way that people watch, talk about, and appreciate movies, we won't turn away a chance to watch a film about Ebert's younger days working on those wacky '70s films with Meyer. Hopefully, down the road, we'll get something that really appreciates Ebert's influence. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com // From Our Partners: A Complete History Of Twerking (1993-2013) (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
  • 'New Girl' Recap: Has the Show Lost Its Charm for Good?
    By: Michael Arbeiter October 09, 2013 11:43am EST
    FOX At its worst, New Girl has always been a bit uneven. Entering the game as a show that seemed to be interested in tackling gender issues, meandering from wacky comedy to soapy romance to substantial character material, and consistently having no idea what to do with Winston, the show has never quite felt entirely symmetrical. But from this formula sprang an unexpected humanity. The organic evolution of the stars' relationships (specifically that between Nick and Jess) and the unpredictability of plot structure — any given episode of this show could consist of the more traditional assembly of quick scenes that pile on, and eventually knock down, antics of humorous insanity, or 22 straight minutes of characters mulling over their mortality in a dimly lit bar — made New Girl seem surprisingly fresh. So we're a bit unnerved to see Season 3's fourth episode, "The Captain," coming up so short in the departments where the program usually thrives: originality and authenticity. Schmidt, still flying high on the sociopathy introduced to his character at the end of last week's episode, undertakes a diabolical ploy to tear his friends apart. And since neither Nick nor Jess have been watching this show, they both fall for it — Schmidt gets in Nick's head about he and Jess leaping into their romantic partnership too soon, resulting in a bout of impotence for the anxious bartender. For the coup de grace, Schmidt gives Jess some decidedly bad advice on how to rectify the scenario, suggesting she try a complicated and mortifying sexual experiment known as The Captain. It only makes things worse. ... for the time being, until Schmidt's role as puppetmaster becomes apparent and Nick is charged, in a moment of emotional desperation, to finally open up to Jess about everything he feels. It's the moment she has (and we have!) been waiting for since these characters' prerequisite archetypes were introduced in the pilot. And such a titanic upswing for Nick's character should be met with the grandeur this tragic flaw (closing himself off out of fear and discomfort) has always carried. But nothing in "The Captain" feels as dense, sensitive, or genuine as the show's past dramatic points. We are led to fear that next week's episode will ret-con the whole ordeal, returning Nick to his state of being as empathetical hermit... or worse, have the feelings-hungry Jess become agitated with his effusive reformation (there are some pretty dismal signs at the end of "The Captain" that this might be the case). We want these people to grow, not regress... which brings us to Schmidt. A character who was introduced as a jerk, fleshed out to showcase the inner damages and insecurities that haunt him daily, and newly transformed into a cartoon villain. Even when Schmidt was cheating on Cece and Elizabeth with one another, he never employed malice in his decisions. But this descent into the territories of absolute evil, attempting to tear his two close friends apart purely for spite, robs the character of any of the likability he developed over the course of Seasons 1 and 2. And then there's Winston, who is saddled with a plot that was already lame by the time Three's Company started using it: a miscommunication between him and an attractive young lady who thinks he's hitting on her while, in fact, he is just trying to convince her that their two cats should mate. Never is this plot funny. Never does it seem new. And especially when it's loaded onto a character like Winston, whose humor is almost always plot-based (he doesn't have the weight or acute eccentricity of Nick or Schmidt to make a dumb premise funny just by being himself in it), does something like this feel like a failure. Come on, New Girl, you're better than a B-story that relies entirely on innuendo. So we hope that the show resurfaces soon, perhaps with the announced return Coach, the dismissal of Schmidt's evil, or the next step (whatever it may be) for Nick and Jess. Oh, and enough with the cat. Animal humor works best in GIF form, Fox, not in half-hour sitcoms. More:'New Girl' Recap: Double Date'New Girl' Recap: NerdCoach Is Coming Back to 'New Girl' Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com // From Our PartnersStars Pose Naked for 'Allure' (Celebuzz)20 Grisliest TV Deaths of 2012-2013 (Vulture)
  • Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson Master the Time Traveling Turkey Genre in 'Free Birds'
    By: Michael Arbeiter October 08, 2013 11:38am EST
    Reel FX/Relativity Media Over the past few years we've seen the pop culture world lose a few points in originalities. With a surplus of sequels, remakes, adaptations, and whatever a "reimagining" is, we've been left wanting for original stories. But this movie season looks to satisfy our craving for the unknown. Just this past weekend, we saw Gravity — a film consistently heralded as "unlike anything we've ever seen" — break a slew of box office records. And hot on the space epic's tail is another sci-fi feature bearing a wild new lens: Free Birds, the very first animated movie about turkeys who use the resources of the White House to travel back in time to the first Thanksgiving and retcon the tradition of consuming their brethren on the annual November holiday. At least, the very first that I know of. The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips. In addition to the appeal of a premise so peculiar, we have the vocal talents of Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson as the continuum-bending poultry. Wilson plays Reggie, a farm-raised fowl who is adopted by the First Family and spoiled to complacency until he is apprehended by Jake, a dutiful wild bird who vies to travel back in time and save the turkey race for good. Reel FX/Relativity Media Reel FX/Relativity Media The film also boasts a wide array of impressive supporting stars, including Amy Poehler as 17th century turkey Jenny, Colm Meany as English military officer Myles Standish, and George Takei as a mysterious entity known as S.T.E.V.E.. Catch Free Birds, co-written and directed by Jimmy Hayward (Horton Hears a Who!) when it hits theaters on Nov. 1. Reel FX/Relativity Media More:How Brooding with Noah Baumbach's Animated 'Flawed Dogs' Be?Man Attempts to Cross Atlantic via Balloons, Just Like in 'Up'Every Pixar Movie Has a Non-Pixar Equivalent Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com // From Our Partners:A Complete History Of Twerking (1993-2013) (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
  • 'How I Met Your Mother' Recap: Saying Goodbye (and Good Riddance) to the Bro Code
    By: Michael Arbeiter October 08, 2013 10:43am EST
    CBS We can take solace in one thing: it seems like this might have been How I Met Your Mother's send-off to the Bro Code — the most reprehensibly irritating running element in the show's nine season history. After last week's abrupt revelation that Barney was angry with Ted for having rushed to Robin's aid in the park last season (during that whole buried locket debacle), Season 9's fourth episode attacks the tarnished relationship between the two best pals with a painfully insistent presence of the Bro Code, Barney's set of guidelines for loyal, egregiously chauvinistic friendship. At first, Ted challenges Barney's citation of the code in his castigation of Ted for his inappropriate attentiveness to Robin, but in an ultimate admission of guilt over what might be misplaced intentions with Robin, Ted succumbs to his pal's pseudo-religion in order to make things right. Placing such a great focus on the Code, and capping its story with an ultimate reversal of attitudes about its validity — with Ted finally embracing the Code and Barney, in coming to terms with the fact that he's not so much angry with Ted as he is disappointed in himself for not being the one who was there for Robin, dismissing it as stupid — the episode does indeed look like it might be How I Met Your Mother's way of finally breaking its worst habit. In addition to its retirement of the obnoxious gag, the episode also trucks slowly along the plotline of Ted realizing that he might never be over Robin. And although we know his future wife is right around the corner, we wonder if these longstanding, overpowering, unconditional, clinically alarming feelings for his best friend's fiancée can ever be put behind him. It is unlikely that Ted will ever have a normal, healthy platonic friendship with Robin, or that the Cristin Milioti to whom he is destined can ever approach their rapport without even a lingering paranoia. On this token, we don't know for sure that the relationship to follow their union will be an entirely happy one. Maybe Future Ted is so fixated on recounting the days of yore because his present life is jagged and loveless, his heart still beating only for Robin. It might be someething he can never truly get rid of. But at least he got rid of something else this week: the Bro Code. That horrible, horrible, viciously unfunny Bro Code. Goodbye, you dead weight material. Footnote: Barney (and the How I Met Your Mother writers) appears to think Christopher Columbus arrived at the Americas in 1776. That is not accurate. More:'How I Met Your Mother' Still Has Its HeartWill 'HIMYM' End in a Nightmare?'How I Met Your Mother': The Wedding Season Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com // From Our PartnersStars Pose Naked for 'Allure' (Celebuzz)20 Grisliest TV Deaths of 2012-2013 (Vulture)
  • 'Inside Llewyn Davis' Trailer Inspires Us to Rank the Coen Bros. Movies in Order of Bleakness
    By: Michael Arbeiter October 07, 2013 4:36pm EST
    The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips. The Coen Bros are not exactly the peppiest creative duo in Hollywood. Sure, they're good for a laugh... but usually it's at the expense of the irreparable human condition. Throughout their 30 years directing big screen features, the Minnesota-born pair has hit some decidedly bleak notes. But even with such a staunch history of dehydrating the spirit of the leading man, and it looks like their latest effort, Inside Llewyn Davis, will be the most sigh-worthy effort yet. CBS Films The latest trailer for the folk music-themed character piece doesn't seem to showcase a good deal of upswing for its titular hero, played with a permanent frown by Oscar Isaac. And that's just what we want: the two-headed filmmaking force's knack for sobriety mastered on the beautiful backdrop of snow-ravaged Queens. And if this does, indeed, prove to be No. 1 on the Coen's list of listlessness, what are the other rankings? We've taken a stab at the task, let us know what you think: The Coen Bros. Movies in Order of Bleakness (from merry to melancholy...) The Hudsucker ProxyIntolerable CrueltyO Brother Where Art Thou?Raising ArizonaThe Big LebowskiBurn After ReadingThe LadykillersTrue GritBarton FinkFargoNo Country for Old MenThe Man Who Wasn't ThereMiller's CrossingBlood Simple.A Serious Man More:Oscar Isaac Is Sad and Cold in 'Llewyn Davis' TrailerHear the Songs Covered on the 'Inside Llewyn Davis' Soundtrack Man, New York Seems Different in 'Inside Llewyn Davis' Trailer  Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com // From Our Partners:A Complete History Of Twerking (1993-2013) (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
  • 'Glee' Will Break Your Heart with Lea Michele, Mark Salling, and Naya Rivera's Tribute Songs for Cory Monteith
    By: Michael Arbeiter October 07, 2013 2:47pm EST
    Every Glee fan is looking toward this coming Thursday with a heavy heart. This week's episode will mark the series' commemoration of star Cory Monteith, who died suddenly in July following an episode of drug abuse. Monteith's character, Finn Hudson, has been written off the show via an unexplained death, and will be duly honored by his classmates in the form of song. Characters closest to Finn will pay tribute, including best friend Noah Puckerman (Mark Salling), stepbrother Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer), one time lover Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera), and — perhaps most powerfully — fiancée Rachel, played of course by Lea Michele, who was Monteith's real life girlfriend. In preparation of what promises to be a very heavy episode, difficult to bear for diehard and casual fans alike, Glee has released recordings of some of the songs we'll be experiencing on Thursday night. You can listen below by clicking each link, via ONTD: "No Surrender," sung by Mark Salling "And If I Die Young," sung by Naya Rivera "Fire and Rain," sung by Kevin McHale and Chord Overstreet "I'll Stand by You," sung by Amber Riley "Seasons of Love," sung by Chris Colfer, Mark Salling, Jenna Ushkowitz, and Harry Shum Jr. "Make You Feel My Love," sung by Lea Michele More:Watch a Preview for the Cory Monteith Tribute Episode'Glee' Season Five Premiere Recap: How To Misuse The BeatlesLea Michele's Touching TCA Tribute to Cory Monteith Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com // From Our PartnersStars Pose Naked for 'Allure' (Celebuzz)20 Grisliest TV Deaths of 2012-2013 (Vulture)
  • Is Lorne Michaels Masterminding the Feud Between Miley Cyrus and Sinead O'Connor?
    By: Michael Arbeiter October 04, 2013 3:13pm EST
    Wenn; Splash News We haven't heard much in the way of Sinead O'Connor in the past decade. Her name still inspires recollection of the 1992 Saturday Night Live performance that saw her tear up a photograph of then-active Pope John Paul II while singing the line "Fight the real enemy" during a rendition of her popular number "War." Over 20 years and half a dozen albums later and O'Connor is still unable to escape the looming shadow of this '92 controversy. But is this just the converged potencies of nostalgia and celebrity scandals? Or is there something foul going on behind the curtains? O'Connor's name is bound to come up in the same conversation as Saturday Night Live again this weekend, but for an entirely different reason. On Saturday, Miley Cyrus will take to the Studio 8H stage, hosting the variety program following a ganglion of her own volatile buzz — the lasting result of her VMAs performance and every bit of public attention she has received thereafter. This week in particular, Cyrus found herself the focus of an open letter penned by none other than O'Connor, who pointed out the error in the young music artist's conduct. After a hostile response by Cyrus, O'Connor was driven to lashing out with a more decided venom, providing those adhered to the gossip headlines a feud more than worthy of replacing the newly dissipated enmity between Drake and Chris Brown. But the timing is interesting. Miley's VMAs performance took place at the end of August. Her "Wrecking Ball" video came out in early September. Why then, on Oct. 2, would O'Connor first decide to write an essay expressing to Cyrus the criminal behaviors of the music industry and pleading with her to distance herself from their grasp? Because this week is Cyrus' Saturday Night Live gig. Thanks to the buzz-factor of the 20-year-old host, there are bound to be a handful of viewers tuning into this weekend's broadcast of the NBC tentpole. Not to see her music, not to see her comedy, but to see her shenanigans. To see what crazy stunt she'll pull next. And artists of integrity though they may be, it would behoove the minds behind SNL to make sure that Miley doesn't disappoint. That's why SNL top banana Lorne Michaels is calling in the big guns: O'Connor, whose papal debacle was the most brazen, talk-worthy thing to come out of the show since that first utterance of "Jane, you ignorant slut." Perhaps Michaels has masterminded this O'Connor/Cyrus feud in order to recreate the same high-profile controversy his show saw back in '92 —  Miley ripping a photo of Sinead, of Madonna (who lambasted the performance one week later) taking Cyrus' side, or perhaps of O'Connor herself showing up to proverbially duke it out with the youthful twerker in the second hour of the show. And as for O'Connor, maybe this is her chance to be free, once and for all, from these connotations. To pass the torch to Miley — to allow her to claim the title of "that girl who did that crazy thing on SNL that time." And Miley... well, we're sure she's in no way averse to this additional spike in buzz. So it's a win-win-win for Miley, Sinead, and good ol' Lorne. Oh, Lorne. You dog, you. More:Watch Miley Cyrus' 'SNL' PromoMiley Cyrus Needs to Collaborate with Kanye WestMiley Cyrus Broke Up with Liam Hemsworth for Sexting Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com // From Our Partners:A Complete History Of Twerking (1993-2013) (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
  • Review: 'Gravity' Is a Lacking Story But an Unbelievable Emotional Experience
    By: Michael Arbeiter October 04, 2013 12:53pm EST
    Warner Bros. Alfonso Cuarón must have felt pretty certain that nobody would be coming to Gravity for the script. Though his reputation as a writer sings of creativity and deviation from the typical Hollywood fodder, every beat in his surprisingly linear outer space film feels not so much like an exploration of a fascinating story, but more like a means to transport an audience (that's us) to the next harrowing explosion of IMAX technology. On the surface, this probably sounds cheap — you signed up for a movie, not a roller coaster. But if it is the principal purpose of any movie to offer its audience an emotional experience, then Gravity is an unquestionable triumph.  In fact, it should say a great deal that the moreover "typical" narrative that throughlines this movie doesn't undercut the experience. Through the film's dazzling effects and a profoundly immersive directorial style, Gravity gives us something that feels altogether new. Sandra Bullock's new-to-space scientist Dr. Ryan Stone doesn't break the mold on action-adventure heroes of either gender, but you'll be adhered desperately to her every move thanks to the veritable space simulator that Gravity really is. It's far more than just the benefits of IMAX technology that keep us feeling like we're inches from life-threatening danger at all times. It is Cuarón's flare for the construction of genuine tension. We open on a painfully slow climb up a mountain of dread, with a nauseated Stone struggling to repair a faction of the ship while a pseudo-nihilistic astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney, who can be paid credit for all of this film's moments of comic relief) jet-packs around her recounting stories of Marti Gras and romantic infidelity. All the while, aimless conversation and pleasant radio melodies notwithstanding, our chests grow heavier with anticipation of what is about to follow this mammoth single take. Disaster. © 2013 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. And once it hits, we're gone. Drowning, treading for dear life for the hour and change to follow, thrown a leaky life preserver on occasion when Stone (our consierge through this unforgiving nightmare) manages some semblance of momentary sanctuary from the insatiable abyss all around her. Our anxiety never dips below "barely sustainable" as Stone efforts to lay waist to probability and fight her way back to safety. At no point in the entire real-time adventure do we feel liberated from Stone's danger. The magic of this movie makes us feel everything that she does, without allowing for even a second of comfort to be drawn from the fact that we, and Bullock, are in no real harm. To reiterate, it is nearly miraculous that we can't, even if and when we really want to, grip at the refuge of the "it's just a movie" mentality, especially in the face of a plotline you might find occupied by a Ron Howard epic. No, we're far too deep by the time the danger strikes to conceive of a world beyond the one Cuarón forces upon us. He's strategic generous in his inclusion of Clooney's loquacious playboy: without a few trembling smiles, we might succumb to full-on nervous breakdown. But Cuarón peppers the pleasantries in just seldom enough to keep the titular sentiment so painfully alive. Gravity is the sort of movie that demands as big a screen and as focused a pair of IMAX-framed eyes as possible. It doesn't offer much dramatic surprise — in fact, we're prepared for just about every big turn — but the shocks, the screams, the moments that make you cower and whimper and hope to dear God that Stone is going to be okay are plentiful. Beyond plentiful, in fact. They're the whole way through. So a great story, it might not be, but in its achievement of this degree of emotional immersion, Gravity is an unbelievable piece of work. 4/5 More Reviews:'Runner Runner' Is All Talk and No Show'Rush' Has Thrilling Action, a Ton of Heart'Don Jon' Is Fun, Even When Missing the Mark Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com // From Our Partners:A Complete History Of Twerking (1993-2013) (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
  • Reese Witherspoon to Star in 'Happily Ever After,' a Disney Princess Story 10 Years Past the Magic
    By: Michael Arbeiter October 04, 2013 10:17am EST
    Dominic Chan/WENN In the hands of an increasingly self-aware media, the traditional fairy tale romance has come under fire in the past couple of decades. The genre has earned a wealth of criticism that includes accusations of instilling limiting female role models and harmfully unrealistic illustrations of relationships. As such, we've seen a wave of deconstruction: subtle entries like Shrek, Ella Enchanted, and the upcoming play-to-film adaptation Into the Woods. Now, Reese Witherspoon — with a hue and bone structure that seem to be modeled after those of a fabled royal — is delivering Happily Ever After, a Disney film that looks to showcase what happens to your standard prince and the princess 10 years down the line. A decade past being whisked off from the clutches of a dragon or a witch or whatever evil might have befallen Witherspoon's character, we find her and her husband struggling to keep their relationship afloat. But how biting do we expect this potentially interesting project to be? On the one hand, it's a Disney production, which suggests that a happy ending will indeed follow a rocky rom-com set-up. But there's hope: the premise was pitched to the studio by Nahnatchka Khan, the creator of the short-lived Don't Trust the B— in Apartment 23, a sitcom that was unapologetically acerbic and devilish. Disney, through ABC, allowed Khan free reign over her dark sense of humor with Don't Trust the B— (a television show that was cut down before its due), so perhaps we'll see another impressively caustic tale in Witherspoon's Happily Ever After. After all, the actress has gained quite a colorful reputation in recent months. More:Disney Plans a Cruella de Vil Movie'Tomorrowland' Plot Thickens with New DetailsDisney World Horror 'Escape from Tomorrow' Can't Possibly Be Real! Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com // From Our Partners:A Complete History Of Twerking (1993-2013) (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)