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.
  • Fox Picks Up 'Gotham' Series — Can Batman's Commissioner Gordon Carry His Own Show?
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 25, 2013 11:01am EST
    Warner Bros. "We'll see your Coulson and we'll raise you a Gordon!" That's the way we imagine this news came to be — an angry Warner Bros directing this threat at Disney during Tuesday night's premiere of ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Taking note of the buzz gained by the small screen Avengers spinoff, the studio behind every DC Comics film since 1978's Superman (excepting the two Swamp Thing movies — and we can't imagine why they passed on those) is setting into play its own television project, based unsurprisingly on its most popular and critically acclaimed franchise today. Deadline reports that the WB and the Fox Network will reproduce the Batman universe in an origin story series titled Gotham, which will focus not on the Dark Knight but on his pal Commissioner James Gordon. The series will follow the exploits of lawman Gordon through the decrepit streets of Gotham long prior to the days of Bruce Wayne's reign. Like DC's last origin series, Smallville, Gotham will present a new look at the backstory behind the world built in decades of comic book and Hollywood movies. But taking a page from the S.H.I.E.L.D. book, Gotham diverts attention away from Batman — he won't be in the show at all, in fact — and toward the familiar but not particularly colorful character of Jim Gordon, who Christopher Nolan fans will know in the form of Gary Oldman. And it is that lack of color that makes us wonder whether Gordon can and should headline his own program. He's a brick wall in the Nolan trilogy, a substantial and sturdy presence but not one you'd ever really marvel at. Surrounded by more ostensibly engaging characters — Batman, Robin, Alfred, Lucius Fox, Rachel Dawes, Selina Kyle, all the villains, and that boat full of convicts in The Dark Knight — Gordon's primary provision is audience surrogacy. He's the "normal" good guy through which we can view and relate to this crumbling Gotham. A fact that might make him a viable candidate for a meaty series were he not weighted down by the riveting connotations by all other corners of the Batman world. Independent from all things Wayne, we fear Gordon will bore fans expecting a reproduction of the Nolan aesthetic in the form of a weekly series. He doesn't have the geeky charm of Marvel's Agent Coulson, or the psychological traumas of pretty much anyone in his own canon. Without a pretty engaging supporting cast, we have apprehension that a Gordon series might translate to little more than a glorified crime procedural. But perhaps there is more to be done with the everyman character than we're predicting. With a charismatic performer (S.H.I.E.L.D. got Clark Gregg, but don't expect Fox to snag Oldman for this project), Gordon might have more in his pocket than just grimaces of fading hope and a giant flashlight. With a dense world and writing with some teeth, a James Gordon Gotham is hardly D.O.A.. More:Ben Affleck Will Bring 'Tired and Weary' Batman to Life45 Bad Jokes About Ben Affleck Playing BatmanBatman Mashups Feature 'Breaking Bad' and 'The Notebook' Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com // From Our PartnersStars Pose Naked for 'Allure' (Celebuzz)20 Grisliest TV Deaths of 2012-2013 (Vulture)
  • 'Dumb and Dumber' Sequel Will Be Grosser, But Is That a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 24, 2013 3:45pm EST
    Jeff Daniels/Twitter When I reminisce on the comic gems in Dumb and Dumber, I think of the sporadic bouts of wordplay ("The Salmon of Capistrano"), the oddball non sequiturs ("Big Gulps, huh?") the clever repartee ("Just when I think you couldn't possibly get any dumber..."). I do not, on the other hand, hearken back to the infamous bathroom scene that found Jeff Daniels' Harry as the victim of a laxative overdose. While stars Jim Carrey and Daniels have more than your average actor's chops in the physical comedy department, the script for the early Farrelly Brothers feature was stellar. The gross-out humor of the aforementioned point midway through the movie, or of Carrey literally tearing the heart out of the chest of a weapon-wielding chef ... those are parts of the film that I am happy to forget. But apparently, sequel Dumb and Dumber To has a different perspective on the comedic highlights of its predecessor. Daniels, whose role in The Newsroom nabbed him an Emmy in the Best Lead Actor in a Drama category at this year's ceremony, reveals to E! that the Farrelly follow-up will involve material that "make the toilet scene seem lame. Pales in comparison and I can't divulge what, but just that they've topped it." We know that the brothers can do gross — we've seen that in every feature they've produced since Dumb and Dumber. But we've also seen nary a feature worth talking about, with the possible exception of There's Something About Mary (which, I maintain, is criminally overrated). So why the need to amp up the gross for Round 2 of Harry and Lloyd's trek across the country? What we need, instead of more gag-inducing comedy, is a return to the wit of the original. Despite being a comedy about two idiots, Dumb and Dumber had some pretty sharp material. The shtick upheld by Carrey and Daniels throughout the film is like contemporary vaudeville — that's what made the '94 laffer a legend. In short: we don't need to "top" the bathroom scene. We just need to "top" the wordplay. More:How 'Dumb and Dumber' Changed Our LivesJim Carrey's Funniest Movie Moments'Dumber and Dumber To' to Shoot this Fall Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com // From Our Partners:40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
  • Is Horse_ebooks Less Brilliant Now That We Know It's a Human?
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 24, 2013 12:44pm EST
    What does it mean to be human?  It's a quandary braved by the great minds of Carlo Collodi, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Brian Aldiss, and the two guys who wrote Short Circuit. And in every instance of wrestling with the question, the lines seem to become blurrier. What exactly changes when marionette puppet Pinocchio swaps splinters for skin cells at the end of the story? Who is to say whether the machines inhabiting Blade Runner's molting Los Angeles are of any shyer value than the humans bent on destroying them? Where exactly in Johnny 5's mainframe does a soul come into play after he is struck by lightning during that poorly planned government showcase? And does it make any difference that the ingenious zen master Horse_ebooks, that which we have always identified as a "Twitter bot," has in fact been identified as a member of our own sentient species? Two members, in fact: The New Yorker identifies BuzzFeed creative director Jacob Bakkila and former Howcast production development VP Thomas Bender as the living, breathing souls behind the horse. We can't quite land on an answer there. We've always appreciated the ostensibly automated mania that is the Horse_ebooks Twitter account as comical in its complete independence from any understanding of what comprises a functional thought. Its natural, unadulterated production of nonsense is what has made the Internet phenomenon such a popular, oft quoted craze. To know that gems like "Tired of Deli Delights?" were crafted not from the cogs of some copy machine, but instead from the mind of two fellows trying like the dickens to come up with something that sounds wacky. On the one hand, we can argue that this robs the account of its authenticity, like the loss of some of the humor or fascination that comes from translating an interesting real life story to the medium of film. On the other, we can now attribute to Horse_ebooks a genuine accolate of ingenuity. This ain't just some computer regurgitating collected content with no understanding of the craft of comedy. These are two guys who truly know how to make people laugh, as is proven by the fame gained by their Twitter account over the past years of its existence. But are we less likely to laugh now, knowing that the horse is a farce? We might be, but that doesn't mean that Bakkila and Bender have set their careers as absurdist humorists to rest: the two are pioneering an interactive video piece called Bear Stearns Bravo, the trailer for which you can watch below. So, we can set our sights on this new creative venture by the Kaufmanian masterminds. Horse_ebooks might lose its luster for us, but we should really offer due praise to the pair for their experiment. They made something. Something that, no matter where it goes from here, will be remembered. More:Lady Gaga Sounds Like a Hypocrite on TwitterThe Nerds Win Twitter!The Guy Behind the Modern Seinfeld Twitter Gets a Sitcom Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com // From Our Partners:40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
  • Remember the Fake 'New York Times' Article from Last Night's 'Breaking Bad'? It's Real Now
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 23, 2013 6:07pm EST
    AMC Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Sunday night's Breaking Bad, "Granite State." As much as we all loved Sunday night's Breaking Bad, the series' penultimate episode, we can wager that nobody got as big a thrill out of the 75-minute masterpiece as New York Times columnist Aaron Ross Sorkin did. The journalist and author of the 2009 book Too Big to Fail was referenced close to the end of the ep, mentioned by guest star Charlie Rose, who was spotted on the screen of a flickering TV set in a New Hampshire tavern interviewing Walter White's old associates Elliott and Gretchen Schwartz. Rose name-dropped Sorkin as the mind behind an in-universe Times article about the Schwartzs' company Gray Matter, a construct that any Breaking Bad fan knows to bear some pretty corrosive connotations to the haunted, toxically prideful Walt. Rose cites a pseudo-Sorkin's article as an unapologetic admonition of Gray Matter's phony endeavors at launching an anti-drug charity. In the episode, Sorkin is said to highlight the hypocrasy in the Schwartz family's so-called philanthropy, calling them out as cowards only hoping to cover up the fact that their company was co-founded by White — a man who has become one of the most infamous drug lords in the United States. Yes, it is any ambitious journalist's dream to be used as ammunition in a call to arms against a thriving wrong. But even more of a dream: when that thriving wrong is Walter White, arguably the greatest television character on the air today. As such, the real Sorkin not only took to Twitter to thank series creator Vince Gilligan, but extended his reality into our own by actually crafting the article that the episode devised, posting it on his Dealbook page. Check out the article, and gear up for next week's final episode of the insuperable AMC drama. "'Breaking Bad': The Gray Matter of Charity" by Andrew Ross Sorkin More:'Breaking Bad' Recap: Granite StateThe 'Breaking Bad' Spin-offs We Want to SeeWhat Was Up with that Dog at the End of 'Breaking Bad'? Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com // From Our PartnersStars Pose Naked for 'Allure' (Celebuzz)20 Grisliest TV Deaths of 2012-2013 (Vulture)
  • Rihanna's Selfie with an Endangered Monkey-Sloth Got Two Dudes Arrested in Thailand
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 23, 2013 2:56pm EST
    Instagram Showbiz is filled with heroes. Do-gooders who utilize countless strategies to fight for causes of all sorts: The Sean Penns who high tail it to the Middle East with a camera crew and a mouthful of rage. The Susan Sarandons who board charity upon charity to give children across the world a better quality of living. The Rihannas who take Instagram pictures in order to put illegal animal dealers behind bars. Yeah, we're giving Rihanna the benefit of the doubt on that last one. While visiting Thailand, Rihanna tweeted a selfie featuring the company of a slow loris — that's the monkey-sloth/lemur-badger seated atop the singer's shoulder in the picture above — to her fanbase offering wide exposure to the illicit captivity of these endangered primates and resulting in the arrest of the individuals who have been allegedly peddling the animals. Rihanna, you've done it again. According to People, Rihanna stopped by the Thai island of Phuket during her Diamonds World Tour, happening upon a pair of individuals with slow lorises at their disposal and snapping a picture with one of the Strepsirrhini in question... we can assume that it was a quick-thinking tactic on the part of Rihanna — who knew that anything she posted to Instagram would immediately take worldwide notice — to free the poor omnivores from wrongful incarceration. Either that, or she (much like every other human being on the planet) could not resist taking a picture with something that looks like a cross between a raccoon and a neck pillow. We'll chalk this one up to heroism. More:The Rihanna/'Game of Thrones' Mash-up Is Life ChangingLorde Is Still the Coolest Teenager EverPop Stars Who Risked the Wrath of PETA Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com // From Our Partners:40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
  • 'Breaking Bad' Recap: Finally, the Theme Song Pays Off! (Season 5, Episode 15)
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 23, 2013 10:39am EST
    AMC It was this very same night that I was harping on one of Breaking Bad's only shortcomings: its theme song. Reflecting in the brief, dark ditty after hearing it played at the Emmys ceremony, I thought about how flimsy it sounded in comparison to the booming, personable harmonies of its dramatic brethren: ominously upbeat contemporaries attached to Mad Men and our dear departed Dexter, the gigantic opus that is the opening number from The Sopranos. The semi-song that introduces every episode of Vince Gilligan's masterpiece has always done little to invigorate, in my musically uneducated opinion. But in the very final moments — chilling, counterintuitively satisfying moments — the series' penultimate episode gave its theme a new purpose: next week, and in every Breaking Bad rewatch, I will approach this melody with a new reverence. It is the song that marked Walt's (probably regrettable but oh-so-enlivening) return to action. What's most impressive about "Granite State" is that it makes this return feel like a long time coming; it's as though we've spent episodes upon episodes holed up in that New Hampshire cabin with Walt, dwelling on remorse, prying lifelessly at deliberations on how to get his barrel of cash to Skyler, Walter Jr., and Holly, and waiting to die. It helps that we've had precedent for the Northeastern purgatory in the Season 5 premiere, but the masterful conduct of this latest episode — which sees Walt reach his secret destination by way of Saul's guy (Robert Forster in a performance that is both wonderfully earthy yet enigmatic), determined upon arrival to transfer his funds but immediately struck by the limitations put upon him by, among other elements, the law, his location, and his physical health — has us enduring these months of internal decay with just a handful of scenes. And then, finally, a second wind. After hitting rock bottom in his loneliness and desperation (he actually pays Forster's character $10,000 just to spend another hour with him — this from someone who has never been a particularly big "people person"), Walt trudges to town with a small box of cash to send to the family, heading into a dimly lit tavern and phoning Walt Jr.'s — excuse me, Flynn's — school and directing his son to pick up the package, which he will address to his friend Louis. (There was something particularly off-putting about the line "He's a good kid. He's like you.") But Walt is beaten nearly to death by Jr.'s assertions that he doesn't want Walt's dirty money, that he blames Walt for the death of Hank and that Walt should just "die already." Harsh words that rattle the man so ferociously as to prompt him to call in his location to the Albuquerque police. But before the local law enforcement arrive, Walt treats himself to one last drink at the bar... catching, in a fortune of timing that only the best of dramatic television can pull off without feeling hokey, a broadcast of old pals Elliott and Gretchen Schwartz denigrating his newly publicized life of crime and diminishing his contributions to Grey Matter to little more than just "the name." AMC And then, finally (well, it's only been a few minutes, but still), a third wind. See, the only thing more prominent than Walt's love for his son: his obsession with his image. Ever since he watched his father succumb to disease, Walt has been a man obsessed with leaving memories of strength and power. There is no way that he will fade from this Earth a failure. And so, as the theme song reverberates with a new life force, we see Walt disappear from his bar stool, ready to gain back the kingship he once knew and has always craved. Meanwhile, our hearts break for everything this king has ever touched: 1. Skyler suffers at the strangling hands of the law (even with Walt's absolving phone call, she's still a target for the legal system until she can give up some info on her husband) and comes face to face with a home invading Todd, who threatens her and baby Holly. Somehow, her word that she's not going to spill the beans on him or Lydia is good enough for the same psychopath who murdered an innocent child. What's his angle there? 2. Jesse somehow loses even more than he has already lost. Tortured in the nazis' pit after they discover the revealing tape he recorded with Hank and Gomey (oh Gomey... we miss you), Jesse manages a brief flee for the fences, only to be caught, bound, and made to watch his beloved Andrea shot dead as a punishment (and a warning, as Brock is kept alive to tempt Jesse to continue his servitude for Todd and company). Seeing Jesse slip even further down toward the inescapable black hole of despair and self-loathing is so damn agonizing that it's a wonder this show has any returning viewers. But the dark, bleak turn does offer new hope for the big-hearted fool. Now, the show has a reason to keep him alive. Someone (Brock) needs him. There is a palpable victory in store for young Jesse: he can get out of this mess forever, perhaps raising, or otherwise caring for, young Brock. At the very least, we hope he can die in a successful plight to free Brock from this menacing world. Give him some kind of win, Vince. Something. We need the strength to go on, here! All this torture adds up to a frightfully strong second-to-last episode, meaning more excitement than we can bear for the finale. As always, we wonder: how the hell are they going to wrap everything up? And as always, we trust: perfectly. More:'Breaking Bad' Recap: Ozymandias'Breaking Bad' Recap: To'hajiilee'Breaking Bad' Recap: Rabid Dog Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com // From Our PartnersStars Pose Naked for 'Allure' (Celebuzz)20 Grisliest TV Deaths of 2012-2013 (Vulture)
  • Emmys 2013 Opening Act: Neil Patrick Harris Rallies Kimmel, Fallon, Jane Lynch, Conan, Tina & Amy
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 22, 2013 8:20pm EST
    CBS After a recorded bit that captured snippets from all of the year's best television programs and episodes (one that went on far too long and served up hardly any laughs, we might add), Neil Patrick Harris took the Emmys stage for a non-musical, but still pretty funny ordeal: a union of past ceremony hosts from Jimmy Kimmel to Jane Lynch to Jimmy Fallon to Conan O'Brien... and what the hell, for good measure, they threw in 2013 Golden Globes hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as well. The bit was far from uproarious, but exhibited good spirit and charm from each of the parties involved. Everyone input their specialty: Jimmy Kimmel was sardonic and abrasive. Jane Lynch played the powerhouse aggressor. Jimmy Fallon tapdanced giddily. Conan O'Brien ranted and raved like a lunatic. Kevin Spacey revealed himself, in House of Cards form, to be the mastermind behind the whole debacle. And Tina Fey and Amy Poehler chided NPH to  take his pants off. Yep, all the basics. Nothing historical, but good fun nonetheless. More:Emmys 2013 Winners ListFunniest Emmys Moments of All Time15 Best and Worst Emmy Dresses
  • Emmys 2013: And the Winners Are...
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 22, 2013 8:03pm EST
    FayesVision/WENN Supporting Actress - ComedyMerritt Wever, Nurse Jackie Writing - ComedyTina Fey and Tracey Wigfield, 30 Rock Supporting Actor - ComedyTony Hale, Veep Lead Actress - ComedyJulia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep Directing - ComedyGail Mancuso, Modern Family Lead Actor - ComedyJim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory Lead Actress - Miniseries/MovieLaura Linney, The Big C: Hereafter Writing - DramaHenry Bromell, Homeland Supporting Actress - DramaAnna Gunn, Breaking Bad Reality ShowThe Voice Supporting Actor - DramaBobby Cannavale, Boardwalk Empire Lead Actor - DramaJeff Daniels, The Newsroom Lead Actress - DramaClaire Danes, Homeland Directing - DramaDavid Fincher, House of Cards Writing - Variety SeriesThe Colbert Report Directing - Variety SeriesDon Roy King, Saturday Night Live ChoreographyDerek Hough, Dancing with the Stars Variety SeriesThe Colbert Report Writing - Miniseries/MovieAbi Morgan, The Hour Supporting Actor - Miniseries/MovieJames Cromwell, American Horror Story: Asylum Directing - Miniseries/MovieSteven Soderbergh, Behind the Candelabra Supporting Actress - Miniseries/MovieEllen Burstyn, Political Animals Lead Actor - Miniseries/MovieMichael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra Miniseries/MovieBehind the Candelabra Comedy SeriesModern Family Drama SeriesBreaking Bad More:Emmys 2013 Opening SegmentFunniest Emmys Moments of All Time15 Best and Worst Emmy Dresses
  • Adam Sandler Is Going to Be In an Actual Movie, Without S**t Jokes or Anything!
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 19, 2013 5:27pm EST
    WENN Every once in a while, in your occasional consideration of the human entity that is Adam Sandler, you'll happen upon the dark crevasses of your cinematic memory where the likes of Punch-Drunk Love exists. The Paul Thomas Anderson masterpiece showcased something that nobody expected of Sandler: acting. Real acting. An emotional, dramatic, human performance that didn't involve gibberish or bodily functions or getting hit in the crotch. Overshadowed (especially at the box office) by his lot of Happy Madison productions are a few of these pictures — Funny People, Reign Over Me, Spanglish. Critically the actor's best work, despite his proclivity for projects of the Jack & Jill breed. But after two Grown Ups movies and a That's My Boy, it looks like Sandler is about ready to revisit the craft: The Hollywood Reporter reports that he's in talks for a starring role in The Cobbler, a dramatic indie by director Tom McCarthy. Those familiar with McCarthy's past works (The Station Agent, The Visitor, and Win Win) know that he's got a knack for pithy human drama, something that will engage Sandler's wry side while also tapping into the emotional core that the actor takes so little advantage of in his commercial pictures. But Sandler does have dramatic chops, as we've seen in his more challenging endeavors. We look forward to getting another whiff of the skills we first saw in Anderson's oddball romance, perhaps with the same dose of "weird": rumors are that the story in The Cobbler allows its titular hero to literally put himself in other people's shoes in order to experience their lives and perspectives. Kooky, sure, but prime for some interesting storytelling. Not a bad gig for Sandler. More:The Adam Sandler Stupidity ScaleSandler and Christopher Columbus Team for 'Hello Ghost'Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore Rom-Com No. 3 Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com // From Our Partners:40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
  • Just How Brooding and Nihilistic Will Noah Baumbach's Animated 'Flawed Dogs' Movie Be?
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 19, 2013 4:53pm EST
    Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images Noah Baumbach sure knows how to sell an existential crisis. For nearly two decades, the writer/director has delved into the psyches of self destructive do-nothings whose aimless stories manage to tackle big ideas in decidedly entertaining ways. He explored the terrors of post-college life in Kicking and Screaming, the agonizing puzzles inherent in divorce in The Squid and the Whale, the magic and heartbreak of a barely self-sustaining life in your 20s in his Greta Gerwig collaboration Frances Ha... to top the lot, Greenberg was pretty much just about what it's like to be a douchebag. You can call Baumbach an auteur — he loves the depths of a broken mind and to play with them in funny and melancholy ways. But his next project, so it seems, might at first glance suggest a departure from this mentality. Baumbach is in the process of directing his first animated feature, as reported by Bleeding Cool: an adaptation of Berkley Breathed's Flawed Dogs illustrated books. The most interesting aspect of the news is that Baumbach has actually been working on this project for some time already, having managed to keep the whole thing a secret up until now. While this will be Baumbach's first time directing an animated picture, he co-wrote Wes Anderson's stop motion flick Fantastic Mr. Fox, so he has experience instilling a clever voice into cartoon animals. The story highlights the exploits of a show dachsund who gets separated from his beloved owner and assembles a pack of diversely disabled and malformed pups on his quest to reunite with his friend. Doesn't necessarily seem like the sort of material that Baumbach could sink his nihilistic teeth into, at first glance, but we trust that Baumbach can imagine a cartoon dog with as many emotional neuroses as a letter-writing Ben Stiller or an aspiring dancer Gerwig. More:Can Bryan Cranston Escape Walter White for a New Film?Rob Lowe Cast in a Different Kind of 'Sex Tape''Blue Is the Warmest Color' Trailer Is Solemn and Sexy Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com // From Our Partners:40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)