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.
  • Video: Teasers from HBO's 'Veep' Starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Judd Apatow's 'Girls'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 12, 2011
    HBO continues to harbor the unique ability to hook me with nothing more than a single syllable. The network is setting forth two new comedy television series—Veep, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Girls, starring Lena Dunham (Tiny Furniture) and created by Dunham and Judd Apatow. Each has released a teaser that gives us some insight into the show, although Veep's offers the absolute bare minimum (yet still engrosses). Veep stars Louis-Dreyfus as the vice president of the United States of America -- a job that clearly leaves her with ample downtime. It's a real testament to our trust in the actress and the network that a clip as uneventful as the one below makes us anticipate the show so eagerly. The preview for Dunham's/Apatow's Girls is substantially more informative. Dunham stars as a twenty-four year-old with everyday anxieties, idealistic aspirations, corrosive relationships and comical mishaps—you know, the works—and all with an apparently fresh tone. The series costars Zosia Mamet (Mad Men, The Kids Are All Right), Allison Williams and Adam Driver. Both Veep and Girls come to HBO April of 2012. Source: AOLTV
  • Alec Baldwin Apologizes to Himself on Behalf of American Airlines on 'SNL'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 12, 2011
    Last week, Alec Baldwin made a pretty significant scene on an American Airlines plane parked on the LAX runway when he was kicked off the plane refused to stop playing Words with Friends on his phone. Baldwin was given the option to stop playing the game or to leave the airplane, which he did, but not before causing quite a stir, allegedly pounding on the walls of the airplane bathroom and slamming the door loudly. Now, this sort of behavior might turn off a few Baldwin fans, but this clip will remind the lot of us of why we love the man to begin with. On this weekend's Saturday Night Live, Baldwin appeared in (fleeting) character as Steve Rogers, the captain of the plane from which Baldwin was removed. As Rogers, Baldwin delivered a lengthy apology to...Alec Baldwin, stating that he was right about the whole ordeal, and that American Airlines was completely at fault. As you can see, Baldwin's costar in the scene, Seth Meyers, was not totally on board with it...but "the smart hero" Baldwin (his words) kept it going with vigor.
  • Does New 'The Dark Knight Rises' Poster Predict the End for Batman?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 12, 2011
    Of all the material yet released for the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises, the third and final installment in Christopher Nolan's Batman series, including the new CIA bulletins, the new poster is probably the thing that provokes the greatest degree of chills. The "smashed mask" imagery is a comic book hero staple, foreboding the possible demise of our unstoppable hero. Usually, things work out just fine for these caped crime fighters. But...this is Christopher Nolan. So...I'm actually not too sure that Bruce Wayne is going to survive this movie. It's kind of shocking to think about a Batman movie wherein Batman dies, but if anyone's going to make one, it's Nolan and Christian Bale. Hovering over the remains of what is plausibly a deceased Wayne is the third movie's central villain, Bane (Tom Hardy). Now, it might all be just a clever scheme to hook the three people out there who aren't already obsessed with The Dark Knight Rises. But we can't rule anything out, here. Nothing is a given. No one is safe. Batman.  The Dark Knight Rises
  • 'Boardwalk Empire' Season Finale Recap: To the Lost
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 11, 2011
    S2E12: There is something especially unique about Boardwalk Empire’s story structure that I don’t know if I could have really pinpointed before having watched the second season finale. In fact, I’m not certain I can articulate it with a desired accuracy still—but to attempt: Boardwalk is a show that seems to actively reject its own narrative elements. What I mean by that is, some shows invest you in well-devised storylines, constructed and foreshadowed with impressive pretense, and other shows sort of see what comes as they go along—waiting to see what develops naturally, or basing their plot devices on external factors (audience reactions, actors’ attachments and detachments). While I do not think for a second that Boardwalk falls in the latter category, I do think that it has a very unusual way of laying down its stories. Some might call it a particularly lifelike way: nothing mandates anything else in this show. A character might be intensified and examined, imbued with promise for rich developments, only to be killed off not long after. A pair of characters might be attached to a hefty arc wherein they betray their longtime boss, vie to start their own business in the drug trade (which would produce quite a dramatic rivalry between they and the man they betrayed), only to return to his employ without much theatrics afforded to the matter. This all might be attributed to shock value. It might be an attempt to emulate the haphazardness of their world and ours. But it makes for surprising television—and one thing I’d definitely say about Boardwalk Empire’s Season 2 finale “To the Lost,” it surprised me. “Whatever you do to try and change things, you know he’ll never forgive you.” – Richard As one might expect from a season finale, the major storylines in this week’s episode are a lot more interconnected than those in most weeks’. And, as one might expect from any episode of Boardwalk Empire, Richard is the voice of reason/spiritual advisor/audience surrogate. He might also become a father figure to Jimmy’s son Tommy from now on, considering the episode’s ending. Considering the total mind-quake and soul-tornado that was last week’s episode of Boardwalk, Jimmy is considering rearranging his life a bit. He wants to make things right with Nucky, the only parental figure that didn’t totally demolish his emotional health. Or, at least, the one who did the smallest amount of damage. Jimmy achieves this via Chalky (he finally gets Chalky those Klansmen he’s been looking to brutally kill out of revenge all season), and gets to speak to Nucky, alleging that he had nothing to do with his shooting—Jimmy places the blame on Eli. Now, it seems to me, especially later in the episode when Nucky first goes to visit Eli to discuss this, that Nucky is far more willing to believe that Jimmy is innocent of this crime than he is to believe that Eli is. We know that neither man is at all innocent, although Eli was more outspokenly adamant about the killing of his brother (even if he was speaking partially out of pain). In any event, Nucky’s meeting with Eli evolves from a curt rejection of his brother to a strategy to best handle the latter’s legal situation: Nucky advises Eli to plead guilty, accept a two year sentence (maximum…we can’t take for granted just how crooked the law is in this show), and promises that his wife and children will be cared for. Eli graciously accepts. “Your version of God asks nothing?” – Margaret “It asks that I love my family.” – Nucky Nucky’s trial. For all the buildup, all the drama surrounding it, and the length rehearsal that Esther Randolph performs in the scene introducing it, we’d expect something a bit longer than a few minutes-long scene. But, that’s AC. Nucky has a heartfelt discussion with Margaret (and parades his “doting fatherly figure” identity around the house for extra effect), to convince her to marry him so that she won’t have to testify. Nucky submits that he has been nothing short of a horrible man, but concedes to leave this all behind him. Margaret, probably wanting to believe it more than she actually truly does believe it, accepts, marries Nucky, and robs Esther Randolph of the most significant chunk of her case against him. A mistrial is pronounced, and Nucky is declared a free man. “I am not seeking forgiveness.” – Nucky But back to Jimmy. Jimmy has, over the course of the second half of this season, adopted the role of most engrossing and most complicated main character of the series, with a climactic development during last week’s haunting episode. Jimmy admits overtly this week to always having wanted to kill his father. In a more subtle scene that Jimmy shares with his son, we can see that Jimmy’s fear of his mother dates back to childhood as well—he tells his son that he used to hide out in lean-tos on the beach. Without the pretext of last week, one wouldn’t think much about anything Jimmy says in this scene. But now, we can’t hear him mention his mother without fostering a slew of horrifying connotations. Before Jimmy leaves to meet Nucky, who tempts him with the bait of Manny Horvitz (the man who killed Jimmy’s wife, and a man Nucky seems to have procured via Arnold Rothstein), he pays a severe glance to his son, who is playing with Gillian in the living room. Apprehensions about what kind of man she’ll turn him into seem to be palpable in Jimmy’s head, which is why he leaves Richard there with them—eternally. Jimmy knows what he is getting into when he leaves the house. But I’m sure I’m not the only one who wasn’t at least a little surprised by the scene, considering if only the importance of Jimmy in the Boardwalk watcher’s investment. Nucky has tricked Jimmy into coming to this remote location on this dark, rainy night. He is accompanied by Eli, among other armed men who have it in for Jimmy. But Nucky pulls the gun on the unarmed Jimmy himself, putting a period at the end of Jimmy’s reign, betrayal, and turmoil. The last shot of Jimmy shows him in a flashback, in the trenches, where he claimed to have died inside. But Jimmy is already long dead once there, having lost his soul before he enlisted, at the hands of his mother. When Nucky returns home the next morning, he greets Margaret with a peppy lie about Jimmy’s reenlistment, but she understands the truth entirely, and secretly signs away the family’s land deed to the church, unbeknownst to a happy-go-lucky Nucky, celebrating the building of a highway with his business partners. And so, we end the season on some strange notes: Nucky is free, and absolved. Margaret is still ensconced in her moral dilemma. Jimmy is dead. And Van Alden, whom we only see in one brief scene, is out in the Midwest with his baby and nanny. It seems as though the show will be needing to develop some self-contained drama for next season, as everything is pretty much wrapped up at the end of this one, which I find odd. Sure, there’s a drug trade on the rise (and logically, something big must become of Al Capone). And yeah, there exist troubles between Nucky and Margaret. But now that Nucky is a free man and Jimmy is dead, who are we supposed to worry about? And who are we supposed to fear?
  • Isn't it Ironic that Alanis Morissette Will Guest Star on 'Up All Night'?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 09, 2011
    Far and beyond her notoriety as an actor is Alanis Morissette's fame as a singer/songwriter. However, one cannot ignore her impressive resume of on screen performances. She has played guest roles on shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm, Nip/Tuck and Weeds. And as far as movies go, she pretty much nailed playing a character who is none too easy to capture: God. This time around, Morissette will be venturing to NBC's funniest new sitcom, Up All Night. The series has not exactly been musically oblivious. The winning character of Ava (Maya Rudolph) has celebrated her past as a successful music artist. And we're about to meet her former bandmember in the form of Morissette. Reportedly, the artist will play a hip-hop star who toured with Ava as part of their band Sound LLC throughout the 1990s. And magical. I know Morissette is a polarizing figure in the music-loving community; I happen to be a staunch supporter. For the lot of you who are in the same camp, tune in to Up All Night on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. Morissette's will join Rudolph, Will Arnett and Christina Applegate on an episode set to air sometime in early 2012. Source: TVLine
  • Exclusive: Coby Bell Meets a Suspicious Stranger in Clip from 'Burn Notice' Season Finale
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 09, 2011
    In this new, exclusive clip from the USA series Burn Notice's fifth season finale, we see our own Jesse Porter (Coby Bell), strapped for cash and not exactly filled to the brim with job prospects, mulling over his meager financial situation. As Jesse ruminates, along comes a mysterious stranger with a promising opportunity...but, as anyone who watches Burn Notice should know, you can never really trust a stranger...or an opportunity...or pretty much anything. It's a dangerous world they've got going. Playing the shady entreprenuer is Eric Roberts (brother of an actress you might have seen in one or two movies), bringing the same gallance and watchability that served him well in The Dark Knight and The Expendables. Watch the Burn Notice Season 5 finale this Thursday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on USA.
  • Sneak Peak: Lea MIchele, Ashton Kutcher and Zac Efron Celebrate in 'New Year's Eve' Clips
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 09, 2011
    Today's date, Dec. 9, is celebrated the world over as New Year's Eve. Or so I am led to understand—I get all of my information about the world from movies, and today, New Year's Eve reaches theaters across America. This new romantic comedy movie, directed by Garry Marshall, has one major thing going for it: whoever you are, whatever your interests may be, there has got to be at least ONE star of New Year's Eve who appeals to you. That's because pretty much the film managed to wrangle everyone in Hollywood, Bollywood, the New York theater area, upper Maine, downtown Sheboygan and suburban Kiev to be in this movie. And we've assembled a star-studded clip compilation to get you in the spirit of New Year's Eve. The first clip chauffeurs the unlikely duo of Zac Efron and Michelle Pfeiffer who, if I didn't know any better, I'd say were being matched up as some kind of romantic pairing. A gregarious Efron speaks casually with an uptight Pfeiffer, who looks a little uncomfortable, but also a little fascinated, by the young man. Celebrate New Year's Eve in theaters everywhere, now!
  • The 'Think Like a Man' Trailer Makes Us Think: What Is This Movie About?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 09, 2011
    Call me stupid, but after watching the below trailer for Think Like a Man, I'm still not entirely sure what the movie is about. It starts out with a group of women who are disatisfied with the behavior and maturity levels of their boyfriends. And then, Steve Harvey writes this book that is meant to teach them how to "think like a man." So far, so good...but after that, it gets a bit confusing. I'm not sure in what way the women use the book to their advantage, except for the fact that a good deal of "long-term goals" questions are asked. I know at some point, the men find out about this book, although how this plays out is also a mystery. And I am really uncertain as to what any of this has to do with the opening scene of the trailer, where the group of guys is bullied off a basketball court by a team of much taller men. But I implore the lot of you to watch the trailer and educate me. See what you can pick up on. Maybe the plot is a nonlinear one, and the story is simply a study of adult romantic relationships. Maybe there's an elaborate conspiracy in which the book is used to brainwash the public into buying Soylent Green, or something (probably closer to the first one). Whatever it is, I know there's more to Think Like a Man than I'm understanding. So what do you think? Think Like a Man, starring Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence J, Jenifer Lewis, Romany Malco and Gabrielle Union, comes out in the spring of 2012. Source: Yahoo
  • ABC Extends Fourth Season of 'Castle'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 09, 2011
    ABC's drama Castle has roped viewers in with the charm of its leading man Nathan Fillion and its exciting melding of crime and human drama. The series is currently in its fourth season, which was set to be 22 episodes. However, ABC loves the show just enough to order one more episode for the season. Although it's not exactly a huge addition, fans should take comfort in knowing that their series is being graced with a good deal of appreciation from its home network. No matter how small, any addition is a terrific thing in the world of network television. The new 23-episode fourth season of Castle is, as of this past Monday, on winter hiatus. The series will return to its Monday night, 10 p.m. ET/PT time slot on Jan. 9 on ABC. Until then, just consider how you'd like Fillion and Stana Katic to spend their additional hour on television in 2012. Source: EW
  • 'Young Adult' and Other Films Prove Our Generation Doesn't Want to Grow Up
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 09, 2011
    Sometime over the course of the last year and change, I began to notice a trend in movies—more accurately, regarding my reactions to the developing movies I was hearing about. I’d catch wind of a concept or theme that someone was trying to bring to the big screen, and would, with escalating frequency, say, “Damn it! I just had an idea like that!” It’s a phenomenon with which we’re all familiar. And for writers, it can be frustrating. So what was the rationale behind this outbreak of films ripped straight from my secret ideas journal? Certainly a government conspiracy to keep me from the revolution-inspiring success I’d otherwise inevitably achieve, I thought*. But my eventual realization was much simpler, and more emotionally healthy: people are starting to make the movies I’d make because the people who are now making movies are, for the first time ever, around the same age as I am. And that’s when I had to admit the most horrifying truth for someone in my generation to accept: I am an adult now. A preoccupation with, and fear of, aging is quite prevalent among today’s twenty-, and some early thirty-, somethings. It is sweeping the lot of us leaving college, starting families, or entering the workforce—and within that last collection, it is adamantly attaching itself to the aspiring filmmakers of today. Young Adult, which stars Charlize Theron and opens in theaters this week, is a great example, the very epitome of suspended adolescence. And Young Adult is one of many in-development projects by contemporary filmmakers themed around, be it analytically or vicariously, this obsession with the dichotomy between youth and adulthood. The trend began shortly before last year’s Happy Madison debacle Grown Ups, and continues through developing movies like Ten Year, American Reunion, I Melt with You, Jeff Who Lives at Home and the aforementioned Jason Reitman-directed Young Adult. It's the degree of this passion, bordering on pandemic, that feels specific to our time. In our recent interview with Young Adult writer Diablo Cody on her creation of the new film, the screenwriter admitted to a concern that she was channeling youthful characters—like the heroines of her movies Jennifer’s Body and the wildly popular Juno—as a vicarious attachment to her own younger days. Cody illustrated the conception of Young Adult as both an attempt at a more mature story as well as an inspection of this very attachment to youth (albeit, in a more villainous way than the incredibly wonderful Diablo Cody could ever represent in real life). Said Cody in the interview: “I was constantly being asked why I write about teenagers. And I never knew how to answer the question. Then I started to think about it, and I was like, ‘What if I’m actually just living vicariously through these young characters, because I can’t mature? What if I’m just stunted?’… But I was inspired. I thought, ‘What if I really am just a messed up woman-child?’ And then, of course, I eased up on myself. I thought, ‘What if there was a character that was a young adult novelist who truly was immature to a really extreme degree and just desperate to relive her glory days? And goes to extreme lengths to make that happen?’ And I thought, ‘I like this character. I haven’t seen this character before. Let’s go with this.’” Whereas Young Adult addresses the issue with a promise of honesty, some other films made to date or in the works are breaching the subject in a different fashion. You can sense, when watching Grown Ups—starring Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James, Rob Schneider and David Spade as a fivesome of childhood placed friends back in their old vacation spot to live out “one last” extended weekend as they did in youth, and to teach their families how to do the same—that the writers of the movie were channeling their own heartfelt nostalgia. Seeming to borrow a bit from both the embrace of nostalgia and the maturity of authenticity might be the upcoming Channing Tatum-led, Ten Year. You can feel, from watching clips from the film, the evocation of a genuine angst over an ever distancing past, as if the retrieval of such would be the sublime. I do eagerly await the release of Ten Year, excited to be educated on a walk of life of which I myself am in the early stages. And although I presented these as a contrast to the more biting introspection of Cody’s Young Adult, there is certainly a value in stories like these, as well as in the simple fact that they are being written. It is human to long for the “good old days,” and even more human to rerun them in our minds to be far more “good” than they ever really were. Any movie that admits this, and deals with it in some genuine way, is a valuable example of a major component of what it is to be a young adult in the present. Good writers, successful writers, real writers (not the writers who just write about having their ideas stolen by real writers) write what they know. They write what they feel; what represents them, both as individuals and as members of a greater phenomenon. People write about their times. Our generation, sometimes called the Information Age, sometimes called the Snowflake Generation, often called a bunch of hipsters, has had some discontinuity with its identity. We’re the ones who have seen advancements in technology nearly Jetson-ian. We’re consistently and rapidly, turning our world into the future we’d like to see. All the while, we’re also a generation affixed on the past. We've brought back Converse shoes, we’re remaking The Munsters, and the Sixties” is a common answer to the hypothetical question, “During which time period would you most like to have lived?” Our generation is one that, as a whole, struggles and plays with its identity. As do its members, individually. So it’s natural for us to fear the concretia of adulthood. Adulthood suggests self-acceptance, it suggests deliberation, it suggests having some clear-cut idea of what you’re supposed to be doing at any given moment. And as such, it’s natural for our writers to write about it. I am confident that, when studied by future readers and filmgoers, a movie of this genus—one about the plight of a Gen-Yer (worst moniker ever) to deal with the loss of his or her childhood—will be the iconic representation of our time. As Jay Gatsby’s pursuit of the American dream and Holden Caulfield’s hypocritical rejection of all things superficial were for those before us, Young Adult and its kind might very well be looked upon as “what our generation was all about,” for better or worse. *I only kind of thought that.