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.
  • TV Review: 'Misfits' Series Three Premiere
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 19, 2011
    It’s not enough for a show to include all of the best aspects from a vast array of genres; it’s important that they all be balanced appropriately to best complement one another. This is Misfits’ true victory: on the surface, it’s a science-fiction superhero series, using comedy to humanize its characters and situations. But beneath all that, the foundation of the show is its strong layer of character-driven drama. This is what hooked me in the first place. Misfits opened its first series by setting its five main characters, a collection of ne’er-do-well young adults in a London borough, in community service together. The pilot saw them struck by lightning during a bizarre storm. Over the course of the first series, we’d come to understand that each of them had developed a power - but not before learning about each of them as human beings. Over the course of the second series, the show began to evolve. With the introduction of the “masked avenger” figure, the science-fiction aspect began to take a stronger role. The idea of the group’s destiny to become heroes earned a larger presence. Where the show was once examining these people on an individual, introspective basis, it was now examining much larger things, like the world around them and how they might find their places in it. This was a healthy progression for the show. But I’ll admit, I missed the personal stuff. I loved meeting these characters, learning about what makes them tick and the psychological rationale behind the development of their powers. And this analytical and dramatic look at these five aimless, narcissistic young criminals—people who, despite their overwhelmingly flawed personas, we have come to really, really care for—is what made the show so addictive. And the return to that with a new main character, Rudy, is what reinvests my attachment to the series. Now, don’t get me wrong—I was nervous about the arrival of a new character. First, I was afraid that the third series’ replacement of Nathan with Rudy would prove an unsuccessful attempt to keep us engrossed. After all, replacing the group’s token goofball with a carbon copy would just seem hack. But Rudy is nothing of the sort. From the minute we meet the character in the opening scene of the third series’ premiere, we understand that he’s not genuinely the crass, loudmouthed fool he illustrates himself to be. As demonstrated by his “power” (the ability—rather, the compulsion—to split into two identical bodies), Rudy is a disjointed, deeply troubled individual. And a truly fascinating one. That said, the third series kicks off in a fairly risky way, focusing on the new rather than the old. The majority of the episode is dedicated to the introduction Rudy, who is played by Joseph Gilgun of the long-running British drama Emmerdale (formerly Emmerdale Farm). Unlike the way in which the rest of the main cast was introduced, we learn about Rudy and his power almost simultaneously—which actually helps a great deal in identifying his character. Rudy opens the episode at the door of the mysterious businessman we met in the Christmas special who can give and take powers to and from the inflicted peoples. Apparently, Rudy is on a quest to rid himself of his troubling ability—the problem is, his ability won't be removed. Rudy can (and does, involuntarily) split into two identical bodies: from within Rudy springs a second Rudy that embodies the painfully insecure and chronically depressed interior that has plagued him since childhood. Rudy's delivery might not be done with the same tact and artistic flow that was attached to that of the rest of the main cast, but this is understandable. We’re already invested in the rest of the group. The premiere has the responsibility of getting us to accept that we like and want to learn more about Rudy, while still paying ample attention to the returning players. The premiere even infuses Rudy into the group through a shared backstory between he and Alisha—not an entirely necessary move, but an economical one. This helps us to understand further why this new character is relevant, all the while developing Alicia's ever-growing character. And for the sake of both fun and urgency, we do get a self-contained villain: a fellow community service worker who feels duped by Rudy when his unhappy interior expresses affection for her moments before she catches the other Rudy locking lips with a different girl. Like many of the villains on the show, this one is not entirely unsympathetic, just emotionally damaged and graced with a particularly harmful outlet for her pain. There’s another great thing about the show: what separates the heroes and villains is such a thin, human line. The villains aren’t really worse people (one might recall all the horrible things Alisha did with her power). We just meet them at very inopportune times—and mostly, these wraths are provoked by one of the “heroes.” And also, presumably, in the name of fun: each of our heroes now has a new superpower, thanks to the aforementioned businessman. They’re interesting powers—Alisha’s especially (I believe she is going to be the breakout star of the third series) reflects a growth in the character and what the show plans to do with her. As her old power represented her manipulative behavior and her investment in her own sexuality, her new power—the ability to see through other people’s eyes—shows that she is growing more empathetic and considerate. There are some interesting connotations attached to Curtis’ gender-swapping ability and Kelly’s new genius-level intelligence. And of course, Simon is still on a mission to become his masked avenger self of the future. The episode is not entirely without flaw. Curtis seems to have recovered far too quickly from the death of his beloved girlfriend that we witnessed in the Christmas special. Kelly is, so far, attached to no discernible story arc (hopefully they have something meaty in store for her, as she has proven to be one of the most fascinating characters). But all in all, Misfits retains its addictive, multifaceted charm in the face of new cast members, new powers, and new storylines. Things may change and evolve, but the show clearly still understands where its real victory comes from: the dedicated exploration of its characters. Click here to watch Misfits' Series Three premiere on Hulu now!
  • 'In Time' Starring Justin Timberlake Available on Blu-ray and DVD
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 16, 2011
    Some time ago, we were graced with the timeless story of a man in a race against time in order to fend off the tyranny of his oppressive government in a futuristic time period. The movie in question is of course In Time, starring Justin Time-berlake and Amanda Seyfried. And on Jan. 31, we'll be able to relive the time-honored tradition of watching this film—it is coming out on Blu-ray and DVD. The movie follows Timberlake, a man in a society wherein time is, literally, money. You pay for things in minutes. And you take in as much time as possible to keep your life going as long as you'd like. The rich can live forever. The poor die young. People are guaranteed twenty-five years of live. After that, you can only keep truckin' if you can afford it. The Blu-ray and DVD include a few special features, including deleted and extended scenes. On just the Blu-ray, a special featurette titled "The Minutes," which explores the conception of the film's dystopian society, will be available. Owners of the Blu-ray will also be able to access the In Time: The Game app. Luckily, you can purchase In Time with good old fashioned money. So you won't have to give up precious life minutes in order to purchase. Although, this is a deal worth dying for! No. That's just ridiculous. Live your life.
  • New Trailer for 'Casa de mi Padre' Might Change the Way We Think of Will Ferrell
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 16, 2011
    The new teaser trailer for Casa de mi Padre, starring Will Ferrell, asks a very important question: "Who is Armando Alvarez?" And beyond the context of the film's story is this question important. Who is Will Ferrell capable of playing? We've seen the hapless schmoe. We've seen the belligerent manchild. We've seen the malicious villain. We've seen the gallant epitome of machismo. We've seen him to do much. But we've only seen him do it in English. What new folds of the Will Ferrell universe might we discover via the entrancing tongue of español? Language is a powerful force. It can turn a timid man into a roaring lion, a grumbling grouch into the most polite of gentlefolk. So, can Spanish change the way we intercept Will Ferrell? Will Casa de mi Padre not invite us to celebrate the same man in a new format, but to celebrate a new man altogether? I would not bet against this. Ferrell has surprised us before, with wonders like Stranger than Fiction and Melinda and Melinda. But those didn't change his career; both films were, unfortunately, passed over by Ferrell fans. But this one, this merge of his comedic stylings and a whole new scope, might very will bring the deeper Ferrell out into the world. Dare I say, Casa de mi Padre might change Ferrell, and the rest of us, forever. You can watch the life-altering trailer in HD at Casa de mi Padre reaches theaters March 16.
  • Casting Roundup: Bill Clinton Visits 'O'Reilly,' 'Doctor Who' Duo Plans Exit
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 16, 2011
    Bill Clinton was made for TV. He's got the moxy. And he's used it on many a talk show in his time: he's visited Johnny Carson, Jon Stewart, and, most memorably, Arsenio Hall. But there is one talk show host who has been apparently inviting Clinton on his show for fifteen years: Bill O'Reilly. Up until now, Clinton has made no appearance on the political commentator's program, The O'Reilly Factor, although O'Reilly admits that Clinton has consistently stated his intentions to participate on an episode. But this coming Tuesday, the former president will officially sit down with O'Reilly for the first time on the show. So what is to be expected from this long-awaited meeting of these ideologically divergent men? A chaotic shouting match over the differences in their political views? A civil examination of one another's values in order to reach a more profound understanding of our present state of affairs? Whichever it is, there had better be some time alotted for a sax solo. Clinton will appear on The O'Reilly Factor on Tuesday, Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox News. -EW Doctor Who is hardly a stranger to casting changes; still, when some likeable characters come along, it's always a disappointment to see them go again. The Doctor's companions Amy Pond and Rory Williams, played by Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill, will be parting ways with their time traveling friend sometime during the show's upcoming seventh series. Executive Producer Steven Moffat confirmed that, as has been tradition, the Doctor will find himself in the company of a new friend soon enough. Furthermore, we might be seeing a return of Alex Kingston to the program, who played Amy's and Rory's daughter River Pond. The Doctor Who Christmas special will air on Christmas Day at 9 p.m. ET/PT on BBC America. -TVLine The second season of The X-Factor will be here before we know it, and auditions have already begun. In order to shoot for your dreams (or, you know, just get on TV for a while), visit and upload your best rendition of "Part of Your World" or "Moonlight Bay" or whatever it is that people like to sing. Auditions officially conclude on Dec. 31. The X-Factor's Live Season Finale airs Dec. 21 and Dec. 22 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox. -TVLine
  • New 'Rise of the Guardians' Poster Celebrates Childhood Stories with a New Twist
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 16, 2011
    As Rise of the Guardians understands, there is something fascinating about the whole idea of children's stories. Not simply the stories themselves, or the cherished characters (Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, et al) therein, but the whole universe in which these characters might exist, and coexist. Peter Ramsey and children's author William Joyce are adapting the latter's Guardians of Childhood storybook series that involves fantasy figures in the preservation of children's dreams against the nefarious Nightmare King. The film promised to be an amalgamation of imaginary favorites in a freshly sincere and celebratory fashion. As the first of the Shrek movies (not so much any thereafter) did, Rise of the Guardians will paint a new, luminating picture of the world in which Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Man in the Moon, Jack Frost and many others can live...although, a deeper, more interesting look will be afforded to each of these characters. We might even see them in entirely new lights. And if you're not sold by that, there's the casting. Alec Baldwin will provide the voice of the Santa Claus figure, Nicholas St. North (pictured in the below poster). Hugh Jackman will play Bunnymund (the Easter Bunny), Isla Fisher will play the Tooth Fairy, Chris Pine will play Jack Frost, and Jude Law will play Pitch, the evil Nightmare King. I suggest getting heavily invested in this developing project. It looks to be a reverent but imaginative take on our favorite childhood stories. And they are something we can all stand to revist from time to time. Source: Hitfix
  • Video: Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara Get Excited on 'Dragon Tattoo' Red Carpet
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 16, 2011
    On Christmas day, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo will make its long-awaited venture into the American cinema. The visionary director David Fincher has adapted Stieg Larsson's best-selling novel series to the screen, capturing the thrilling tale of Lisbeth Salander with his trademark intense and introspective style. We got a chance to visit the Red Carpet event for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo premiere, and to talk to a few of the stars, all of whom were nothing short of ecstatic over the release of the movie. Watch the video to hear what stars Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Stellan Skarsgard and Robin Wright about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and cancel all your Christmas plans to be the first in line for the new movie!
  • Sylvester Stallone Tears Down the Wall in 'The Expendables 2'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 16, 2011
    We might have been hoping to see a few more of the principle cast members in the first official The Expendables 2 poster, but this is pretty good, too. After all, who doesn't love property damage? In this new poster, the film's star Sylvester Stallone stands tall and proud behind a work of artistic demolition. The very wall that Stallone has chosen to emasculate (and I think we're supposed to assume he did all of that with those guns) is garnished with the sames of his costars: Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. So, whole bunch of people who are probably good at breaking things. Check out the trailer here to get an even better idea of just the degree of the breaking abilities instilled in this cast. The Expendables 2 comes to theaters summer 2012. Source: Ain't It Cool News
  • Celebrate a 'Clueless' Reunion when Alicia Silverstone Joins 'Suburgatory'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 16, 2011
    Sure, it's been over a decade since the 1990s ended. Sure, this new millenium has brought us an onslought of new culture and technology for which we should be grateful. Sure, it doesn't make sense to keep living in the past and enabling an addiction to nostalgia. I understand all of this. But it doesn't mean I'm not going to embrace my excitement for the Clueless reunion that is about to take place when Alicia Silverstone joins Jeremy Sisto on his new ABC sitcom Suburgatory for a multi-episode arc as the series star's love interest. Suburgatory has been a bit shaky in its premiere season. But one thing it does have going for it in large doses is good casting. Leading lady Jane Levy is full of talent. And Sisto, as her father/closest friend/leading antagonist, is always a pleasure. Although the last fifteen years have seen Sisto in a slew of projects, we will always remember him as the self-absorbed snob Elton in Clueless, who Cher (Silverstone) vowed to set up with her high school's newcomer Tai (Brittany Murphy). For a long while now, we could have only imagined a re-Clue-nion (just go with it) in our wistful fantasies. But ABC is granting our wishes, and inviting Silverstone on for a few episodes to play a romantic partner to Sisto's single dad George Altman. It's more than likely that we'll see some confrontation between Silverstone's character and George's confrontational daughter Tessa (Levy), but as of yet, we're not exactly sure what is in store for this exciting story arc. Sure, it might be bizarre that I'm so enamored by the idea of a Clueless reunion. Sure, latching on to something like a guest casting stint on a sitcom might be an unhealthy way of coping with the passage of time. Sure, you might tell me to "get a life" or "stop living in the past." But to that, I proudly say: as if. Silverstone will find herself rolling with her old homie sometime after Suburgatory's midseason return to ABC, on Wednesay, Jan. 4, at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT. Source: TVLine
  • Daniel Craig Arm-Wrestled Stephen Colbert: Late Last Night
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 16, 2011
    Last night, Daniel Craig stopped by The Colbert Report to discuss his new movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo...and then to engage in the most epic competition of masculinity in the history of time: Craig vs. Colbert—arm-wrestling. The Colbert Report Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,Video Archive I can't believe we haven't heard of this sooner! Last night on The Late Show, Tom Hanks, master of the historical drama, showed the country the first footage of his new HBO miniseries about American hero Burt Loomis. Hanks has developed some masterful stuff in the past, from Band of Brothers to John Adams. But this new project, created by and starring Hanks, looks to be his most inspirational piece of work yet. Matt Damon, who, by the way, is in the process of buying a zoo, appeared on The Daily Show to discuss, at length, his newly shaved head. After deliberating the pros and cons of the hairstyle, Damon went on to talk about working with Cameron Crowe and grizzly bears in We Bought a Zoo. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,The Daily Show on Facebook Finally, a very sick Robert Downey, Jr., appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to discuss his and Jimmy's hatred for their respective Christmas parties, and how cool it is to be friends with Sting.
  • New 'The Hunger Games' Poster Is a Fiery Arena of Excitement
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 16, 2011
    Yesterday, the world jumped eagerly into the The Hunger Games Poster Puzzle Hunt: a mission to gather all of the pieces of the new The Hunger Games poster in an effort to be the first to compile the complete image (you can check out our site's thrilling shot of the acting credits here). Below, the final product is finally seared into our eyes and minds. We see stars Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson reflected throughout the deadly stadium, in which the titular fight to the death must take place. Call me a sucker for imagery, but the flaming symbol soaring above the crowd of thousands gazing out at the ominous battleground...well, I'm one of the many who'll be watching when The Hunger Games comes to theaters March. 23, 2012.