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.
  • 'The X Factor' Recap: Top Ten Contestants Perform
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 16, 2011
    S1E14: Let me open this week’s The X Factor recap by admitting that this is the very first episode of the series that I have seen, and that I picked a great week to tune in: Rock Week. I was only marginally familiar with how the show works as a whole—contestants, judges, voting—and was primarily unaware of the involvement of the judges with their respective contestants. Going by this week’s episode alone, I find this to be a fatal flaw in the show, logistically (although not necessarily from an entertainment standpoint): no judge offers anything below decorated praise for a performer that he or she is sponsoring. What’s worse, it seems as though the judge bench rivalries (i.e., Simon Cowell versus L.A. Reid—I’m not sure if this is a persistent theme throughout the series, but the two really don’t get along this week) heavily affect the way the contestants are judged. Another qualm I have comes attached to the host, Steve Jones, who seems to just be there to exacerbate discomfort, bicker cattily with Simon Cowell, and read a couple of phone numbers. Ryan Seacrest at least smiles. But this commentary is likely far from any fresh review of the show, so I digress. One aspect of the show I actually have almost nothing bad to say about is, in fact, the performers. Aside from the rampant misinterpretation of this week’s theme, rock and roll (which is really the fault of the judges, not the contestants), I’d have to register very few negative criticisms with any of the contestants or their songs. Some outshine others, of course, but even the very worst are still pretty damn good…although, I guess that’s why they’re on a show. The first to sing this week was Leroy Bell, who sang “We’ve Got Tonight,” by Bob Seger (admittedly, one of my favorite love songs). It was a terrific way to open up the show. Although Bell gave a pretty straight performance of the song—not too much original spin on it—he delivered it well, and to the probable liking of any traditionalist or Seger fan. The second performer: Rachel Crow. Young Crow gave a stylized performance of The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction,” which really won over the judges and the audience. Crow’s “Satisfaction” might have been a little too “experimental” in tone for my tastes, but this isn’t to say that it wasn’t a very lively and engaging performance. Chris Rene is the first to deviate from the rock theme, with Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry.” Despite the fact that the song is not rock but reggae (I agree with Simon here), Chris created a pretty fun rendition of the song, working in what was expressed to be his hip hop style with the classic song, with which he really seemed to have a personal connection. Next, Stacy Francis performed Meat Loaf’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me.” I disagree with the judges’ conclusion that this was a poor and flavorless choice of song—Meat Loaf is the tops. But Stacy did not particularly excel at this song. It seems to me that her voice isn’t tuned for this style of music, although that is not to discount her obvious talent. I’d like to see what she can do with something closer to her genre (that’s my cue to keep tuning in…). Melanie Amaro sang a strong rendition of “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M., and this was among the best performances of the night. Although it didn’t warrant as much “showmanship” as some of the other songs did, Amaro’s time on stage was soulful and flavorful—she is clearly an unstoppable voice talent, and the song was a terrific choice. All of the judges were huge fans of the next performance: Josh Krajcik and the Foo Fighters song “The Pretender.” Admittedly, “Pretender” is one of my least favorite Foo Fighters hits. Furthermore, aside from breaking a mild sweat forcing his voice into the microphone, Krajcik didn’t seem to put as much creativity or soul into his performance as the amount of praise he received should have dictated. He did do a good job with the song, but I think he could have done a better one. I barely know who Astro is, but I am already on his bandwagon. The young artist sang back-when-he-was-Puff Daddy’s “I’ll Be Watching You.” Now, this is only a rock song by proxy, but I might dare to say that Astro’s performance was my absolute favorite of the night…so, I can forgive a slight genre confusion. There is little to say: Astro has style to spare and energy in spades; he loves music and music loves him. Wonderful stuff. As an X Factor newbie, I was confused by Lakoda Rayne. First and foremost, they’re more than one person. Secondly, if I’m not mistaken, they are the only performance to do a mash-up: Lakoda Rayne sang “Your Love” by The Outfield and “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac in one amalgamated song. Quite honestly, it worked pretty well. The song was relatively seamless, and snappy. The band didn’t have the same outstanding pop as some of the other singers, but they definitely did a fair job with their song(s). I really, really loved the next performer and her song choice: Drew and U2’s “With or Without You.” This girl is pure, unadulterated talent. She knocked the song out of the park, both by channeling the things that make its traditional incarnation great and instilling her performance with her own style. The combination worked perfectly, and I’d like to see her go as far as this contest can take her. Finally, another of my favorite performances of the night (although that might very well be because of my deep love for the artist of the performer’s song choice): Marcus Canty sang “Another Piece of My Heart” by Janis Joplin. While the judges were a bit critical of his take on the song, I actually think he did more than justice to the late Janis’ classic soulful ballad. His choreography was anything but reserved…but it’s good to have a little fun, especially with such an energetic number.
  • Remote Control: What to Watch on Nov. 16
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 16, 2011
    Wednesday, Nov. 16 Top Tier Happy Endings 9:30 p.m. on ABC "The Code War" Television's secret treasure chest of comedy always fares well when it delves into its characters' colorful pasts. Tonight promises to continue the pattern, when openly gay Max's old high school girlfriend comes into town and meets all of his friends for the first time...stirring up a good deal of trouble. Meanwhile, the powerful comedic team of married couple Brad and Jane get into one of their many hilarious wars when Jane finds out about Brad's "work wife." Plus, look out for the Cougar Town cameo! Up All Night 8 p.m. on NBC "Hiring and Firing" Guest star Molly Shannon is more than enough reason to watch Up All Night, as if the already surprisingly funny comedy wasn't doing enough to keep us tuned in already. Reagan has got a few troubles on her plate when she is overcome with the responsibility of firing her incompetant new assistant (Shannon) and finding a babysitter with her husband Chris. Modern Family 9 p.m. on ABC "After the Fire" We caught a glimpse of this upcoming Modern Family last week, and it's got all of the ingredients of a good MF episode: an overwhelmed (but somehow still upbeat) Phil, a grumpy Jay, a high-strung Mitchell...the series may not be up to par lately, but we always get some good fun out of the Pritchett/Dunphy/Delgado/Cam clan. Alternates The X Factor 8 p.m. on Fox It's down to the final ten performers. Even if you haven't been watching up until this point, you've got to admit that this is where the excitement comes in. Revenge 10 p.m. on ABC "Treachery" Everyone's secret guilty pleasure amps up the thrill when Victoria is pushed further away from her family, and Lydia's failing memory causes harm to those around her. South Park 10 p.m. on Comedy Central "The Poor Kid" I'm not the world's biggest South Park fan, but seeing as tonight is the finale of the show's pretty eventful fifteenth season, I'd say that catching this episode wouldn't be a bad idea. After all, it's a Kenny-centric episode (he gets put into foster care), and how many of those have we seen lately?
  • Hulu Will Pick Up 'Misfits' Season 3 for Free Streaming
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 16, 2011
    The United Kingdom has given America a lot of fantastic things: language, cornmeal-dusted muffins, and Misfits. Let's focus on the latter. For those unfamiliar with the series, it surrounds a group of five "at risk" young adults doing community service for committing various crimes. On their first day of cleaning up graffiti and picking up litter, the five become victims of a strange storm which gives them each superhuman abilities. American audiences have been graced with the British sci-fi dramedy series thanks to the good graces of Hulu. The first two seasons, each containing six episodes (plus a Christmas special attached to the second season) have been available for free streaming and October saw the beginning of the third season on television over in England. Come December, viewers in the states will be able to enjoy Misfits Season 3 episodes via Hulu. Season 3 episodes will begin streaming on Hulu on Monday, Dec. 19 and the site will release one episode every Monday until the season concludes. Now, here's a small bit of bad news for those of us here in America who might not have heard yet: Season 3 sees the absence of star Robert Sheehan, who plays the fan-favorite and loudmouth Nathan Young. Rumor has it that Sheehan's de facto replacement, Joseph Gilgun, fills the void adequately. However, Nathan's quintessentially charming obnoxiousness will definitely be missed. The series also stars (this description contains spoilers) Alicia (Antonia Thomas), a promiscuous party girl arrested for drunk driving who develops the power to completely consume anyone who touches her with an uncontrollable physical desire for her; Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), an up-and-coming Olympian runner caught purchasing cocaine who develops the ability to travel back in time (but only when he has a panic attack); Kelly (Lauren Socha), a hot-tempered "punk" arrested for a fistfight with another girl who develops the ability to read people's minds; and Simon (Iwan Rheon), a socially inept recluse who attempted to burn down a neighbor's house who develops the ability to turn invisible at will. Misfits is at once exciting, sincerely emotional and laugh-out-loud hilarious. Even with the absence of Sheehan, I am looking forward eagerly to Hulu's streaming of Season 3, and highly recommend the series to fans of science fiction, young adult drama, or black comedy. Source: AOLTV
  • Guess the Supporting Actor!
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 16, 2011
    This Friday, America will be graced with Alexander Payne's The Descendants, a movie that is resting with at least some substance on the pull of its cherished leading man: George Clooney. Although Clooney has the star power, it is important not to forget some of the smaller players in The Descendants, like Judy Greer. Some of you might not recognize Greer by name, but you'd know her if you saw her. Greer is one of those omnipresent supporting actors, with smaller roles in countless movies. Although Greer is quite the formidable example of this type of performer, she is certainly not one the only one. See if you can guess the other supporting actors with impressive resumes from the hints provided below (the answers are below the videos)! Beware: some of the clips below are NSFW. This Supporting Actor has played a mob boss who was outsmarted by Billy Crystal, a detective who is duped by Kevin Spacey, a gangster who befriends Robert De Niro’s son, and a nightclub owner who makes Chris Kattan very uncomfortable. The Answer? It's Chazz Palminteri! This Supporting Actor has played a preppy WASP who is startled by Christina Ricci, the estranged biological mother of Robin Williams’ son, Warren Beatty’s unfaithful wife, and a mild-mannered reporter investigating a murderous Renée Zellweger, The Answer? It's Christine Baranski! This Supporting Actor has played a businessman who likes to “Pow!” Will Ferrell, a taser-happy Nevada policeman with no patience for Bradley Cooper, a disloyal CIA agent who betrays Ashton Kutcher and a former military man who amps up the strength of Rob Corddry's paintball team. The Answer? It's Rob Riggle! This Supporting Actor has played the flighty mother of an attendant of Johnny Depp’s chocolate factory, a long-named dodgeball champ who falls in love with Joel David Moore, the tentacled crewmember of Tim Allen’s space ship, and as a member of a futuristic society wherein Zach Galifianakis greets people by giving them the finger.  The Answer? It's Missi Pyle! This Supporting Actor has played a slimy gangster in a Coen Brothers movie, a bumbling producer’s assistant in a Coen Brothers movie, an inept private eye in a Coen Brothers movie and a mysterious dry cleaning investor in a Coen Brothers movie. The Answer? It's Jon Polito! This Supporting Actor has played a med school interviewer who lost his temper with Kal Penn, the headstrong future father-in-law of Jason Biggs, a catchphrase-happy former actor involved in a folk music production starring Eugene Levy, and the captain of a space ship fostering the entire population of a very overweight humanity. The Answer? It's Fred Willard! This Supporting Actor has played an airheaded secretary at Matthew Broderick’s high school, the neglectful mother of Juliet Lewis, an airport employee who curses out Steve Martin, and the doting assistant to a college-bound Rodney Dangerfield. The Answer? It's Edie McClurg! This Supporting Actor has played an untrusting bureaucrat who teaches Ron Perlman how to smoke a cigar, the mayor of a village that Jim Carrey villainizes, the father of one of Ben Stiller’s camp counselors, and the co-coach of Paul Giamatti’s wrestling team. But of course, he's probably best known for his TV work... The Answer? It's Jeffrey Tambor! This Supporting Actor has played a soldier on Tom Hanks’ rescue mission, one of the only non-imaginary friends of Russell Crowe, a college student who gets attacked by an anti-Semitic Michael Rapaport (suspension of disbelief), and a high schooler who pals around with Anthony Rapp. The Answer? It's Adam Goldberg! This Supporting Actor has played a vindictive prep school dean who was chastised by Al Pacino, an FBI employee who is outsmarted by Joe Pesci, an underhanded politician who is outshined by Chris Rock, and the Secretary of Defense who fends off alien attackers with Will Smith. The Answer? It's James Rebhorn!
  • A Michael Jackson Biopic Is in the Works
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 16, 2011
    A Michael Jackson biopic. Now, there's a rickety bridge if I've ever heard of one. Michael Jackson holds the distinction of being one of the very most influential music artists in American history and having suffered a death that is still surrounded in controversy. So any film planned as a chronicle of his life, such as the one being set forth by his estate, will earn a lot of doubt. Jackson's life is prime real estate for cinema, however. The man, above all else, was one interesting character—spending his entire life in show business resulted in the consistent display of bizarre behavior, leading to a series of criminal allegations against Jackson. Thus, the big question: who on Earth could portray Michael Jackson, such a layered, fascinating character, to perfection? And who could capture the film as a whole? Word is, the Montecito Picture Company, owned by director Ivan Reitman, is in discussion for this biopic. Does this mean the Ghostbusters helmer will be taking the camera on this new project? Furthermore, how exactly should Jackson's life be explored? While rumor has it that a film would only cover parts of Jackson's life, I think it necessary that a grand, almost epic tale of the icon's career and personal history is what is warranted. But how can this be accomplished to satisfaction? I have no answers to these questions...I doubt that many do. But it's news to look out for. So who would you want to play Michael Jackson? Sounds like Community's Donald Glover is interested... Source: Showblitz
  • 'South Park' Extended to Run Through 2016
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 16, 2011
    It seems that there will never be an era known as Post-South Park. Thanks to its up-to-date sociopolitical commentary, its familiar but consistently fresh characters, and its creative and often edgy take on anything and everything on its viewers' minds, South Park has plans to stay on the air for five more years. News today is that the Comedy Central series from Trey Parker and Matt Stone has extended its contract through 2016—which means we're sure to get their take on garbage-powered flying cars. This extention will bring South Park's season count to twenty, an impressive and unlikely feat for any television series that doesn't have the words "law" and "order" in the title. Certain recent episodes have led fans to speculate that the series was coming to an end. A recurring theme this season has been the boredom of the series' main character Stan with his friends and his surroundings, as well as his parents' meta acknowledgement of how ridiculous the series has become. However, fans can now rest easy knowing that the show is not going anywhere anytime soon (pending its avoidance of the apocalypse next winter). South Park is in its fifteenth season and airs Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Comedy Central. Source: Comedy Central
  • Pixar's 'Brave' Trailer is Adventurous, Funny and Thrilling
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 16, 2011
    Quick: think of your three favorite movies. No doubt, the ones that immediately come to mind are Braveheart, Mulan and Grizzly Man. Well then...have we got a trailer for you! Pixar's latest sensation is Brave, the story of the unlikely hero Princess Merida, who decides to change her own fate by taking on the legendary monster destined to attack her Scottish homeland. In the spirit of any Pixar film, the trailer delights us with heartwarming moments, comedic moments, and visually stunning moments. However, this seems like quite a leap for Pixar in the "epic" department. Whereas most Pixar films are smaller stories (literally—the subjects are regularly no larger than a few inches tall), Brave looks to be a sweeping, colossal adventure story. Enjoy the fun trailer below. Stars include Boardwalk Empire's Kelly Macdonald as the central Princess Merida, Emma Thompson as Queen Elinor, Billy Connolly as King Fergis, and Kevin McKidd, Robbie Coltrane and Craig Ferguson as the three hostile, bumbling Scottish lords.
  • 'The Sitter' Takes Jonah Hill to New Comedic Lengths in New Red Band Trailer
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 16, 2011
    The Sitter might very well take Jonah Hill to his comedic extremity. Hill has been involved in varying degrees of gross-out, shock-value, slapstick comedy movies over the past few years, and pushing the boundaries in all these and several other levels is his upcoming film The Sitter. Hill plays a crude twentysomething slacker who takes on a one-night job babysitting the three nightmare children (Max Records, Landry Bender and Kevin Hernandez) of his mother's friend. Staying home with them is trouble enough for Hill, but the hazards escalate when he drags the underaged trio along with him to a party in hopes of a night of romantic passion with his would-be girlfriend (Ari Graynor). Hill escorts the kids through drug deals, bar fights, car chases, and doubtlessly other inappropriate and dangerous scenarios. So, as you can see in the below NSFW red band trailer, there isn't much water left untread by The Sitter in terms of Hill's style of comedy. Does this mean we'll be seeing him take a dramatic turn? Perhaps he'll venture into the horror genre? Musicals? Yeah. Let's go with musicals.  More The Sitter Videos Source: IGN
  • Logan Lerman and Emma Watson Show Us 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' in New Pics
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 16, 2011
    If you have ever been sixteen, you have probably read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky's epistolary novel about a high school boy called "Charlie" who deals with the cataclysms of American teenhood (that's oversimplifying, but to sum up the book at all is to oversimplify). The novel is a pioneer in its sincerity, attacking youth from a very authentic, emotionally chaotic standpoint. It is a vivid story with which each of its many devoted readers have a very personal, unique relationship. Thus, the development of a film is a risky thing. It helps a whole lot that the author Chbosky is writing and directing the film version of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. But we're still bound to draw flaws with the visual depictions of certain characters, scenes and ideas. That being said, Logan Lerman is a pretty spot-on manifestation of how I pictured Charlie. Just look at him, down there, gazing off into pensive, somber space...deliberating his value, wondering how he can sacrifice himself for his true love (Emma Watson), solidifying his own loneliness. So who knows? Maybe the film will be a fantastic adaptation of Chbosky's nearly holy novel. And what's more, maybe it'll spur a few spin-offs... The Perks of Being a Spacestarer The Perks of Being a Lunchstudyer The Perks of Being a Hallwayleerer Source: Indiewire
  • Snooki Teaches Leno and Howie Mandel Guidette Poses: Late Last Night
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 16, 2011
    Last night, Snooki made a very Snooki appearance on The Tonight Show, talking about her fondness for tattoos and her fascination with Jay's other guest Howie Mandel. She eventually embraced the mission of teaching Jay and Howie "Guidette poses," which they all demonstrated. Like Crazy star Felicity Jones stopped by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to discuss Cadbury's "chocolate monopoly" in England. Eventually, they segue from talking about chocolate into talking about alcohol. And to top it all off: there's juggling. So...you can't really go wrong here. Elijah Wood showed up on The Colbert Report to attempt to discuss Happy Feet Two—such as the extensive method training that went into preparing for his portrayal of Mumble the penguin—but was sidetracked by Stephen into having a conversation about Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit that eventually erupted into a swordfight. The Colbert Report Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,Video Archive Finally, Parks and Recreation star Adam Scott paid a visit to Conan to reminisce about the "low point" of his career (when the most devoted fan of a play he performed half-naked was a homeless man), his counterproductive method of acting like a jerk in auditions to get more parts, and his jealousy of his handsome/athletic/acting expert/chessmaster friend Jon Hamm.