Author

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.
  • 'Boardwalk Empire' Recap: Battle of the Century
    By: Michael Arbeiter November 20, 2011 8:38pm EST
    S2E9: Despite the title of this week’s Boardwalk Empire, “Battle of the Century,” it is actually a pretty calm, introverted episode of the series. Sure, there is a murder. And an attempted murder. Not to mention disease, adultery, betrayal, the incision of a strike, and some scandalous office romance. But still. Somehow, in spite of all this, the tides are calm in Atlantic City this week. Not to say the episode is dull—as a matter of fact, my personal tastes are more in line with some of these subtler episodes. It is particularly fun to hold Season 2 Jimmy up against early Season 1 Nucky. His flaws aside, Nucky is foremost a cerebral, logical criminal, whereas Jimmy is a young man destitute of emotional stability. We will see just how much damage he imparts unto himself in episodes to come, but I don’t imagine a personal or professional success ever skyrocketing much further than a couple of promiscuous women approaching him during the Dempsey fight with physical intentions. “I think there’s blood on the ground sufficient for your lifetime and mine.” – McGarrigle Nucky heads to Ireland, under the guise of burying his father, to deliver a sampling of guns to John McGarrigle, a leading figure in The Cause (Ireland’s rebellion against Britain), in return for the supply of Irish whiskey. Some particularly inconvenient timing engulfs Nucky’s business proposition, as England has suggested a truce, to which McGarrigle is willing to listen. Though a steadfast and humorless supporter of Irish independence, McGarrigle is also willing no longer to spare the lives of his men—one of his associates tells Nucky that McGarrigle lost a son in the battle recently, thus tiring him of the bloodshed. McGarrigle gets to reunite with Owen (who has come with Nucky to Ireland) in this episode, telling the young man that he has changed, and lost the spirit of his country since moving to America. When you consider the ending of the episode, this scene is incessantly intriguing: after Nucky accepts that his deal will not go through, McGarrigle has his assistant see Nucky to the port to go back to America. At this time, McGarrigle is shot by his own men who wish to usurp his position so that they may continue on with The Cause and reject England’s truce (all of this, Owen knew about beforehand). What Owen must have been thinking, being lectured about losing his cause by a former mentor who was about to be executed for himself losing his cause. Nucky takes issue with Owen’s involvement with McGarrigle’s murder, clearly because he himself was the victim of his own former protégée’s betrayal. Nucky keeps lining himself up with pretty disloyal right hand men (his brother not excluded)—although considering the fact that Owen slept with Maggie, one shouldn’t be too surprised to learn that he’s not exactly a reliable second-in-command. Ep. 21: Clip - Remus meets with Jimmy and Gangsters “Manny Horvitz is a dead man. Before we go any further, you need to tell me if that’s a problem.” – Waxy Gordon “Maybe. But it’s not mine.” – Jimmy Even in brief, more or less uneventful scenes like the one early on in this week’s episode, I love it when Jimmy gets together with the other restless protégées (Al Capone, Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky), as well as Richard and Mickey Doyle. The group meets with George Remus this week to elucidate a business deal. Meanwhile, however, Jimmy has the nagging problem of Manny Horvitz, to whom he owes a great deal of money that he just doesn’t feel like paying. Jimmy meets with Waxy Gordon to discuss the removal of their mutual enemy, Horvitz. Here’s the thing that nobody seems to get: Manny Horvitz is unstoppable. I say this with an esteemed Zionistic pride—he is the biggest rock star on this show. A hired gun makes an attempt to kill Horvitz, but the butcher wrestles the man from his own weapon and then kills him with one of his butcher’s knife. Manny will persist as a thorn in Jimmy’s side—this might be the straw that turns him into Jimmy’s primary source for concern, especially since he found an Atlantic City matchbook on the would-be murderer. If you recall, one or two episodes ago, Jimmy promised Richard that he’d find himself a nice girl with whom he’ll someday settle down. We learn this week that Richard took this as mockery, understanding himself to be fit for no woman’s affections. Both men attend an auditorium radio broadcast of the titular battle of the century, the boxing match between Dempsey and Carpentier. While there, Jimmy earns the eyes of a great deal of the audience—his fame is escalating rapidly around A.C.—especially two woman who pursue him flirtatiously. Jimmy demands foremost that one of them offer Richard company, trying to solidify the friendship that he insists to Richard the two of them share. This is a tricky one to crack: what exactly is being built up between Richard and Jimmy? For a few weeks now, there have been traces of a fragmenting friendship. But why? Richard isn’t the type to betray Jimmy, to take action out of rage, or to develop any large ambitions. The only thing I could see happening is Richard pursuing Angela, but she’s got her own romance brewing with that woman Louise from last week. So what’s with the Richard/Jimmy angle? “I don’t know what you’re talking about. But I know the law. And I don’t have to go on sitting here if I don’t want to. … Do I?” – Deputy Halloran More Esther Randolph. She and her subordinate—the investigator named Cliff, who resents Van Alden’s new involvement in the case thanks to his hefty sum of files accumulated on Nucky that he gave to Richmond—are both romantic partners as well as an adept interrogation team. After finding out that Nucky lied about going to Ireland to bury his father, they interrogate Deputy Halloran about various crimes Nucky and Eli may have committed, including the murder of Maggie’s late husband. Scene rating: fun as hell. Remember Dunn Purnsley, the loudmouthed inmate who antagonized Chalky White for being uppity and self-righteous until Chalky had all of the other inmates, whom he had personally helped out in the past, beat the hell out of him? Well, Chalky and Purnsley are in cahoots now. Chalky wishes to incite a strike in the black community in A.C., and the silver-tongued Purnsley is his key to this: Purnsley, working in a kitchen now, encourages all of his black coworkers to rebel against their jerk of a boss and begin a strike. It goes as all dramatic strike scenes do (and should). “Forgive me for what I’ve brought upon you.” – Maggie Finally, the most human problem in this week’s episode: Maggie’s daughter Emily has contracted polio…and considering her dismissal of the Quarantine sign in Emily’s hospital room, Maggie might be getting a bit sick too. Things have gone horribly wrong for Maggie over the course of the last few weeks. Her own brother wants nothing to do with her. She succumbed to her weaknesses by sleeping with Owen. Now, her daughter is ill. And the idea of one of his surrogate children unwell is apparently the only thing that can bring horror to Nucky’s stone face.
  • UPDATE: Ryan Seacrest Sued Over His 'Shahs of Sunset' Series
    By: Michael Arbeiter November 18, 2011 10:04am EST
    UPDATE: In reaction to the story reports earlier, a Bravo spokesperson stated, “Bravo has not seen a copy of the complaint, but we believe these claims have no merit." EARLIER: Who would have thought that a show dubbed "the Persian Jersey Shore" would have any sort of dysfunction attached to it? News on the yet-to-air reality series Shahs of Sunset is that castmember Kathy Salem is filing a lawsuit against Ryan Seacreast and his production company, who are behind the show, for undergoing physical and emotional abuse on set, and for being misled and defrauded regarding the contract details by the show's staff. Salem's story is as follows: during a party event filmed for Shahs of Sunset, Salem was "verbally abused and physically assaulted." An individual present at the party attempted to rip her dress off, and another castmember, known as Reza, threw a glass of water in Salem's face. Additionally, Salem claims that she was only made privy to part of the contract agreements that she signed for the show. So, this is either a bad sign for Seacrest's show (who knows what effect this will have on production?) or a great one (controversy does equate to ratings). Salem is fighting to prevent any footage of her in the show from airing, and is reaching for at least $100,000 in damages. Shahs of Sunset will air Feb. 2012 on Bravo. Source: EW
  • 'The Annoying Orange' Web Series Picked Up for TV Show Because the World is Evil
    By: Michael Arbeiter November 18, 2011 8:44am EST
    I'm going to level with you. What you're about to read is going to be hard to get through. So...brace yourselves. As you are probably at least marginally aware, there is a web series, created about two years ago, called The Annoying Orange, which is about an orange with an eyes and mouth that says really stupid, really annoying things to other fruits/vegetables/humans/whatever comes off the top of creator Dane Boedigheimer's head. I'm not even bothering to deliver the synopsis with more distinguished diction, because there's really no reason to. Anyway, the series—which consists of over a hundred episodes, just about all of which have many millions of YouTube views—has recently been picked up by Cartoon Network for a TV show. Developing the series are Boedigheimer and Pinky and the Brain writer Tom Sheppard, who I'm shaking my head at right now. I trusted you, Tom. Now, this news alone is...grating. But the reason it hits extra hard is that it comes in the very same week that we learned that NBC is putting Community on the bench for the upcoming spring season. Community is the absolute best, most well-crafted, ingeniously written and acted, and truly emotionally dense (not to mention laugh-out-loud funny) show on television. The catch: it requires brain-power. It requires people to allow themselves to get involved intellectually and emotionally with the characters. It requires its viewers to dissect what's going on on the surface to understand what the creators and writers are really trying to say about television and about humanity/interpersonal relationships. And though Community's very dedicated fans are clearly on board with investing themselves to this degree in the show, the benching of the series and the adapting of The Annoying Orange indicate a sad fact: so many people are distinctly complacent not enriching themselves with entertainment of intellectual merit. And I know I'm coming across a bit rough, and probably pretty arrogant. But it's significantly saddening to me that a work of art so fueled by originality, so arduously perfected, and so instilled with a love of cinema and a really sincere appreciation for what makes people people, is being cast aside as something unimportant and unworthy of a slot on television, when an orange with a mouth shouting annoying things is being eagerly pursued as a viable source of entertainment for American viewers. To all of you Community fans reading this, I highly recommend this excellent recap of last night's excellent episode, "Documentary Filmmaking Redux."  Source: Deadline
  • David Oyelowo Joins Steven Spielberg's 'Lincoln'
    By: Michael Arbeiter November 18, 2011 6:53am EST
    Strangely enough, there is a film about Abraham Lincoln in the works that does not have any vampires in it. It's called Lincoln, and it is being directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring as America's sixteenth president (seventeenth if you count the secret eight-day presidency of a pre-adolescent Ambrose Burnside...which few people do) is Daniel Day-Lewis, leading a cast that includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Jackie Earle Haley, Tim Blake Nelson, and other great three-named actors. And joining the talent is the formidable star-on-the-rise, David Oyelowo. So far, all we know about Oyelowo's casting is that he will play a cavalryman in Spielberg's Lincoln. It seems that 2011 has been the most fruitful year yet in this actor's career as he has brought a dose of flavor to Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Help, and has earned positions in the upcoming films One Shot, Red Tails and The Paperboy: all exciting prospects. This might be the less eyebrow-raising of the two developing Abe Lincoln pics...in fact, it seems like the most straight-forward Lincoln depiction in quite a while (most of what I know of Lincoln from the media is that he's an alien hologram, a time-traveling partyer, and an insecure clone). Nevertheless, it's certainly the one many of us are banking on to tell a good, dense story about the American hero. Source: Deadline
  • Kristen Stewart Fends Off Conan's Advances: Late Last Night
    By: Michael Arbeiter November 18, 2011 5:39am EST
    Last night, Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 star Kristen Stewart visited Conan and talked about how different New York Twilight fans and crewmembers are from London Twilight fans/crewmembers and trying to convince her grandmother that The Twilight Saga is actually a pretty big deal. Then she had to endure Conan's trademark creepy come-ons. In honor of his last day hosting Live! with Regis and Kelly, Regis Philbin was David Letterman's guest on The Late Show last night. Philbin recounted, and went into vivid, passionate detail about, the unexpected kiss that he and Letterman shared earlier this week on the Live! set, and then went for a ride on a Vespa. Sounds kind of like a weird dream, right? Over on The Daily Show, the champ Martin Scorsese dropped by (on his birthday, no less!) to talk about his fascinating new movie Hugo, deciding finally to make a movie his young daughter can see—and getting great directing advice from her—and being an asthmatic recluse as a child. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,The Daily Show on Facebook Finally, another Breaking Dawn Part 1 star graced late night television: Peter Facinelli, who plays Carlisle Cullen in The Twilight Saga movies. Facinelli talked about being dubbed an item with costar Kellan Lutz, i.e. Pellan, thanks to their choice to hold hands coming off an airplane and an inadvertent 3 a.m. hug caught on camera.
  • Scarlett Johansson to Make Directorial Debut with Capote's 'Summer Crossing'
    By: Michael Arbeiter November 18, 2011 5:12am EST
    Sometimes, the story behind a story is more interesting than the story itself. Truman Capote is a revered name in the modern history of American literature, whose classics include Breakfast at Tiffany's and In Cold Blood. The writer's life and work were celebrated in the 2005 biopic Capote, which starred Philip Seymour Hoffman. One piece of Capote's work has long been attached to a special air of intrigue: his first novel, Summer Crossing, which went unpublished until 2005, over two decades after the author's death. The novel is now being adapted into a film, and some of the most interesting aspects of this new development surround the evasive source material as well as the director assigned to the project: Scarlett Johansson. Johansson has established herself as a major screen presence since beginning her acting career in the mid-1990s. She has worked with a wide variety of directors who far exceed "noteworthy": Woody Allen, Michael Bay, Sofia Coppola, Brian De Palma, Jon Favreau, Christopher Nolan, Robert Redford, and will work under Cameron Crowe in the upcoming We Bought a Zoo. So, perhaps she picked up a thing or two along the way from this cavalcade of filmmakers. At the very least, she picked up the itch. Summer Crossing will be an interesting debut project for Johansson. The plot revolves around the daughter of an elite socialite Protestant couple who, when left on her own in New York City for the summer, begins dating a working-class Jewish man. Source: Variety
  • 'Person of Interest' Recap: Foe
    By: Michael Arbeiter November 17, 2011 9:42pm EST
    S1E8: Who’d have thought that a high-concept spy procedural about government surveillance would offer some of the most palpable human drama stories I get to see in television these days? Okay, maybe that’s a little bit of a stretch—as a matter of fact, the real meaty and emotional stuff seems to only happen in the last ten minutes of Person of Interest’s episodes. Maybe they’re just pulling easy punches—this week, the plot revolves around a Cold War-era German secret agent who seeks out his estranged wife whom he thought to be over twenty years dead. And yes, I’ve been known to be an easy mark for television tear jerkers. But somehow, when Person of Interest really lays out these characters—the killers, the ones we’re generally supposed to despise—for in a way that makes them seem anything but monstrous (rather, tortured), I can’t help but feel something. And when they actually draw parallels for one of the two leading men (four times out of five it’s Reese), and remind us that somewhere inside, they too are human, that really drives it all home. This is what makes the show work: it reminds us that it’s a show about living, bleeding, suffering people. Not just numbers a machine spits out. “Nagle hasn’t made a single electronic transaction in his own name since 1987.” – Finch “Where has he been for twenty-four years?” – Reese “And why is he back?” – Finch I may have mentioned once or twice my fondness for Person of Interest’s guest casting habits. I may have also brought up an irrevocable obsession with LOST. Well, today is my lucky day, and that of about 90% of the people who started watching this show based on its producer and leading man: this week’s guest star is Alan Dale, known better to LOST fans as the dastardly Charles Widmore. So…rockin’. Dale plays a former spy who resurfaces after an extended “presumed death.” He is on a mission to track down and kill three former partners who betrayed him to the American government in favor of fresh starts and new lives in New York. Dale’s character manages to successfully execute two of these three men—not before attracting the attention of a German government agent, who is on a mission to stop Dale’s character from committing these murders. When Dale comes face to face with his final foe, once his closest friend, the man admits that his wife is still alive—Dale learns that she faked her own death with the help of the U.S. in order to escape her husband once she learned of the horrible things he had been doing for his government (all the murders, and whatnot). So, this tears up his psyche something awful. And it doesn’t help much when he finds out that all this time, she and he have had a daughter he never knew about. The strength of this week’s episode doesn’t lie much in the plot. Its greatest achievement is making us actually feel for Dale’s murderous character. At the end of the episode, Dale confronts his wife and daughter, learning the truth behind his wife’s leaving of him: she admits that she was afraid that he was dangerous, and she wanted to raise their child in a world free of these evils. Dale not only understands, but agrees with her, and raises an unloaded gun toward her in order to get Reese to shoot him, putting him out of his misery. “She has my mother’s eyes.” – Nagle A lot of parallels are drawn between Dale’s character and Reese in the episode. The main theme is Dale’s willingness to do “bad” things for his government, and his willingness to justify these things in his own mind. We get a flashback of Reese’s early days with the force, being broken in by a woman who kills two men without so much as a question. Reese is shown to have a moral dilemma with her actions, but she insists that what their agency is doing is “right,” just before giving him the handle “Reese.” If it weren’t powerful enough to see Dale go through this torrential existential crisis, we also see the same sort of thing applied to Reese. Seeing Reese when he was detached from society, from the world, from his lost love makes us ache for him all the more. The episode is colossal in its humanization of this mysterious character. Although it isn’t as “big” and “promising” as the last Person of Interest episode, “Witness,” “Foe” has some genuine humanity to spare, and does wonders for our attachment to the show and to its characters—both main and guest.
  • 'Parks and Recreation' Recap: Smallest Park
    By: Michael Arbeiter November 17, 2011 9:38pm EST
    S4E8: Every episode of Parks and Recreation—even the very worst episode of Parks and Recreation—is still a chuckle-worthy, syrup-slathered delight that is the rare combination of both clever and life-affirming and sweet. That’s the worst case scenario for this show: a few laughs and some smiles. So how, pray tell, would I describe this show at its best? Much like what is buried in Ron Swanson’s backyard: gold. This week’s episode of Parks and Recreation is such a magical delivery after last week’s meager-for-the-show/terrific-by-all-other-standards episode. It’s not a particularly complicated episode, but it’s an episode that embraces everything that is just right about each of its major characters: Leslie’s unwillingness to accept anything but perfection, Tom’s sky-high ambition to be the greatest businessman who ever lived (which I worried was dead after his return to the Parks department), Andy’s wide-eyed misunderstanding/love of pretty much everything on Earth, and Ron Swanson’s ability to coexist perfectly with while completely rejecting altogether the world entirely. Any problems there? Of course not. "Anne, your quiet support means the world to me. As well as your tacit endorsement of all my behaviors." - Leslie Leslie has taken on the conquest of creating the smallest park in all of Indiana for Pawnee, which is literally just a few feet large. A project so insignificant (to anyone but Leslie) seems capable of breezing by without conflict, which means it will be over in a jiffy. The only problem here: Ben explains to Leslie that due to the emotional difficult of working with her, after the Smallest Park project is over, he will be requesting to Chris that he no longer work with her or the Parks Dept. So how does Leslie handle this? Draw out the Smallest Park project as long as humanly Lesliely possible. It is things like this—these incredibly innocent yet somehow decidedly ingeniously crafted schemes that make Leslie Knope the most unbelievably likable character in modern fiction. Obviously, her plan goes awry and ends up making Ben even more upset with her. He calls her a steamroller for neglecting his feelings in favor of her own, which Anne confirms (in the most supportive way possible). After deliberating the matter, Leslie apologizes to Ben and offers him complete freedom from her…or, and here’s where your eyes might start welling up, the two can put it all on the line, come clean and try for a real relationship. Sure, it might sabotage Leslie’s lifelong goal of running for office. But Leslie is willing to take that chance. As I said, she’s clever, ingenious and terrifically strong, but Leslie is nothing if not a romantic whose heart is oh so prone to melting. Their quiet, slow-paced final scene has real kick to it. It’s not sappy, it’s serious and heartfelt, much like many of the sweet moments on this show. I don’t know what will happen from here on out, but I’ve never been more invested (and believe me, I’ve been quite invested). One final thought about this storyline: Leslie trying unsuccessfully to provoke conflict in a public forum filled with the regular nut jobs who always cause her department grief—this is the sort of thing that fans of the show can’t help but feel rewarded watching. Thank you, show. "This is our current community center...and this is our new community center! That's right—it looks like an Apple store!" - Tom I was very afraid of what might happen to Tom once he returned to the Parks Department. Sure, he’s funny here. But are we going to be expected to cast away his dreams and allow him to return to his sardonic slacker role? Graciously, apparently not. Although Tom is back in his old position, he applies a new zest and flare to the job now, realizing he can utilize his creativity and business sense right here in the Parks Dept. Jerry plays the foil, recommending complacency and telling Tom kindly that the government is no place for his flashy, stylized antics. However, Jerry inadvertently inspires Tom to reinvent the department’s logo, channeling a limited-time retro style from Jerry’s early days in the department. Tom and Jerry have never had a rapport beyond mockey, and although Jerry didn’t do much in the way of actively trying to help Tom achieve his goal, and Tom’s acknowledgement of Jerry’s contribution was backhandedly complimentary at best, it is still kind of a nice moment for the two of them. They both seem pleased, anyhow. I guess that’s how things role at Tommy’s Place. "Of all of my coworkers, Andy is one of a small number whom I do not actively root against." - Ron Andy Dwyer, April Ludgate and Ron Swanson take the day off to go to college. I would pay inordinate sums of money to see that three-hour movie. But I’ll gladly settle for rewatching this episode’s B-story, in which Andy, on a quest for self-betterment, decides to enroll in one class at the local college. April wants Andy to choose something he’s already excellent at (i.e., guitar—by the way, it’s kind of warming to see Andy as the best in the room at something; the scene wherein he casually shows off his knowledge of and talent at the guitar really makes me feel good for the character, and proves that he has more value than just goofy one-liners), while Ron suggests that he find something new in order to genuinely learn. Ron recounts a story when his own father insisted that Ron work at the steel mill instead of pursuing a college education, but that he neglected his father’s wishes and paid his own way through college. Ron is adamantly averse to just about everything on Earth, so to watch him genuinely proclaim his steadfast value of a good education is really intriguing to me. It’s easy to take a character like Ron, a hypermasculine, old-fashioned woodsy type and lock him into a thoughtless, backwards-thinking stereotype. Instead, Ron is regularly one of the wisest, most progressive figures on the show. Instilling these traits into such an easily admirable character is a terrific choice. After a slew of hilarious, laser-centric academic hijinks, Andy/April/Ron all mutually agree that Women’s Studies is the most fascinating class offered, and that Andy will be taking said class. And yes, his heart is definitely in the right place. But no…it doesn’t mean he’s immune to some highly embarrassing comments in the lecture. The episode is chockfull of all of the things that make Parks such a treat for its viewers. The show loves its characters so much, and celebrates them wholeheartedly in this episode. The Leslie/Ben story is both hilarious and heartbreaking. The Tom/Jerry story is highly encouraging. And Andy/April/Ron…that’s about as good as television gets.
  • Sink Your Teeth into Our Collection of 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn' Clips
    By: Michael Arbeiter November 17, 2011 12:07pm EST
    Chances are, you or someone you know is afflicted with the pandemic disease known as Twi-berculosis: a chronic fixation on all things Twilight. Thus, tomorrow's release of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 is likely to have your head spinning and heart racing. And although you only have one day left to wait, we understand that withdrawal symptoms are getting pretty unbearable. So, we've compiled a few Breaking Dawn clips, leading off with a brand new clip courtesy of Yahoo, to tide you over until dawn breaks on Friday. In Yahoo's newest Breaking Dawn clip, Edward (Robert Pattinson) fends off attacking werewolves in the interest of protecting his family.  Jacob (Taylor Lautner), Carlisle (Peter Facinelli) and Esme (Elizabeth Reaser) consider the dangers involved in getting the much-needed blood to the pregnant Bella (Kristen Stewart). Although they understand that their own lives are in peril, both of the Cullens promise to help Bella. Edward and Bella share their wedding vows as the star-crossed couple marches hauntingly down the aisle of matrimony. Jacob tries to rally the vampires to fight back against the approaching Sam (Chaske Spencer) and his army. The vampires insist on keeping the peace, but Jacob knows the consequences of this passiveness. The honeymoon stage has barely begun, and Bella is already pregnant. This is a big deal for two humans...think of how much of a stressor it would be if you had to wonder if your embryonic child was actually the monstrous spawn of a vampire?
  • Casting Roundup: Greg Kinnear on 'Modern Family,' NBC Throws Betty White a Birthday Party
    By: Michael Arbeiter November 17, 2011 11:53am EST
    Modern Family has done fun things with some pretty great guest stars—Ed Norton's Season One appearance comes to mind. Another actor known best for his big screen activity will be heading onto the set of ABC's top sitcom: Greg Kinnear. Hardly an amatuer at playing the suave but somewhat seedy individual, Kinnear will bring his talents to Modern Family as Phil's new business partner. Last night, we saw Phil venture into a new, exciting but risky professional opportunity with two fellow real estate agents. It seems that Kinnear will play one of them: Tad, a man who Phil idolizes and Claire secretly disdains. We're not exactly sure what rubs Claire the wrong way about Tad, but Kinnear can pull off sleazy with the best of 'em. Modern Family airs on Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. -EW Betty White has made it perfectly clear that there is no place she'd rather be than in the spotlight, and her upcoming 90th birthday is proof of that. NBC is putting together a televised birthday celebration special in honor of the to-be nonagenarian; it will film before the end of 2011 and to air close to White's 90th birthday, which is Jan. 17, 2012. The special will include tributes from some of White's former and current collaborators, including the casts of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Hot in Cleveland (the latter series is also planning a "birthday episode" for White's character Elka). -TVGuide When 30 Rock returns to NBC this spring, it will bring with it a very welcome guest star: Kristen Schaal, the quirky comic actress who is likely best know for her regular role on the HBO series Flight of the Conchords, on which she played the hopelessly devoted Mel. Schaal's role on 30 Rock has yet to be revealed, but we do know that she will be gifting us with a multi-episode arc. -Vulture