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.
  • Independent Spirit Awards Nominations Announced
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 29, 2011
    It's a big day for indie film appreciation. First, last night's 21st Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards recipients were revealed (you can read the list of winners and nominees here). And now, we can cast our judgments and make our predictions about the announcements for the 27th Annual Independent Spirit Awards nominations. 2011 was no slouch when it comes to the release of some quality independent cinema, and the Spirit Awards are paying tribute to that with its diverse list of nominees. On the list, we have comedy, drama, action, romance...and, for the first time in quite a while, a silent film. Check out the list of nominees below, and start your deliberations on the "Who Should Win" vs. "Who Will Win" battle—that's the bread-and-butter of awards season, after all. 27th ANNUAL INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARDS NOMINEES BEST PICTURE50/50 The Artist  Beginners The Descendants Drive Take Shelter BEST DIRECTOR Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) Mike Mills (Beginners) Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter) Alexander Payne (The Descendants) Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive) BEST FIRST FEATURE Mike Cahill, Another Earth  Patrick Wang, In the Family  J.C Chandor, Margin Call Sean Durkin, Martha Marcy May Marlene Robert Pickering, Natural Selection BEST FEMALE LEAD Lauren Ambrose (Think of Me) Rachael Harris (Natural Selection) Adepero Oduye (Pariah) Elizabeth Olson (Martha Marcy May Marlene) Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn) BEST MALE LEAD Demian Bichir (A Better Life) Jean Dujardin (The Artist) Ryan Gosling (Drive) Woody Harrelson (Rampart) Michael Shannon (Take Shelter) BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE Jessica Chastain (Take Shelter) Anjelica Huston (50/50) Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs) Harmony Santana (Gun Hill Road) Shailene Woodley (The Departed) BEST SUPPORTING MALE Albert Brooks (Drive) John Hawkes (Martha Marcy May Marlene) Christopher Plummer (Beginners) John C. Reilly (Cedar Rapids) Corey Stoll (Midnight in Paris) BEST SCREENPLAY The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius) Beginners (Mike Mills) The Descendants (Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash) Footnote (Joseph Cedar) Win Win (Tom McCarthy) BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY Mike Cahill & Brit Marling, Another Earth J.C. Chandor, Margin Call Patrick deWitt, Terri Phil Johnston, Cedar Rapids Will Reiser, 50/50 BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY Joel Hodge (Bellflower) Benjamin Kasulke (The Off Hours) Darius Khondji (Midnight in Paris) Guillaume Schiffman (The Artist) Jeffrey Waldron (The Dynamiter) BEST DOCUMENTARY An African Election Bill Cunningham New York The Interrupters The Redemption of General Butt Naked We Were Here Spirit Awards
  • Louis C.K. will Return to 'Parks and Recreation' as Amy Poehler's Ex-Boyfriend
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 29, 2011
    Back in Season 2, Parks and Recreation gave the unlucky-at-love—and we mean very unlucky-at-love—Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) a little helping of some good-natured romance, and in the most unlikely form: comedian Louis C.K. Known for his misanthropic, pessimistic persona as a standup comic and a caricature of himself on FX's series Louie, C.K. enjoyed a significant story arc on Parks and Rec as Leslie's sweet, timid and incredibly devoted boyfriend, Dave Sanderson, a Pawnee police officer. The pair parted when Sanderson moved to San Diego, Calif. for a job opportunity, and we haven't heard from, or much about, him since. But that won't be the case for long, as C.K. is slated to return to Parks and Recreation later this season. Nowadays, Leslie's heart is invested heavily in Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott), which is complicated enough, seeing as their relationship will indubitably provoke a scandal in Leslie's campaign for public office. So, bringing an ex-boyfriend into the equation isn't likely to make things run any smoother for our favorite small-town government employee. It's hard to imagine Leslie considering leaving Ben, with whom she is so infatuated, for Dave. But the idea of a face-off between the two most awkward and non-confrontational human beings ever to walk the streets of Indiana? That's comedic gold. Leslie sure has a type, doesn't she? C.K.'s appearance is set for early 2012, after the show returns from winter hiatus. Parks and Recreation airs Thursday nights at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. Source: TVLine
  • Jason Segel and Kermit the Frog Made a Reporter Cry: Late Last Night
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 29, 2011
    Last night, Jason Segel appeared on Conan to discuss the whirlwind of effects The Muppets has had on his life, including earning him a trip to the White House wherein he professed his love for President Obama and then promptly fell asleep, getting a lot of first (but very few second) dates, and making a Mexican reporter burst into tears during an interview with Kermit the Frog. Regis Philbin stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live! to discuss his departure from Live! with Regis and Kelly, to be exposed as a secret hoarder, and to lay the plans for a Regis Museum with Jimmy. Boardwalk Empire's breakout star Jack Huston (who plays Richard Harrow) made his very first talk show appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, talking about the process of creating the voice and mannerisms for a character who only has half a face, and how distracting he can be for the other actors. Finally, Damon Wayans, Jr., showed up on The Tonight Show to discuss playing a "verbal fluffer" on Happy Endings, to show us a clip from his standup, and to talk about how unexpectedly (and borderline psychotically) strict Damon Wayans was as a father.
  • 'Terra Nova' Recap: Now You See Me
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 28, 2011
    S1E9: Well, the question is answered. On this week’s episode of Terra Nova, we finally find out who the traitorous Sixer mole is. And no, it’s none of the people I’ve rattled off as suspects in my past recaps. And yes, the choice is a bit more interesting than anyone I predicted. But somehow, I am left feeling unsatisfied by the reveal. Further, I am feeling even more unsatisfied by everything else that goes on in the episode “Now You See Me.” Mainly because, for all intents and purposes, it seems kind of like a whole lot of filler. “I figure, there’s a parallel universe out there, somewhere, where we are allies.” – Taylor “I’ve had that thought.” – Mira The episode opens with a pairing we haven’t really seen before, and one I was kind of excited to explore (before I realized, come the opening theme, that we wouldn’t be seeing much of at all this week): Taylor and Skye, who apparently take annual walks together at the memorial of the latter’s late parents in commemoration. Just as soon as we are introduced to this unlikely duo are we whisked away from it—Taylor heads out into the wild on a secretive mission, and entrusts the Number One position with Jim—Washington is doing something else…they explain it in passing…I don’t know. Just roll with it. Taylor’s quest in the wilderness is to examine his renegade son’s rock drawings in order to see if he has made any progress in the development of a two-way time portal: he has. But that’s not all the bad news Taylor gets. He has a run in with Mira (de facto head of the Sixers), who takes him captive and treks him back toward her hideout. And bad news further still: there are a couple of dinosaurs who aren’t too fond of Taylor and Mira traversing through their territory. Long story short, there’s nothing like a dinosaur attack to bring two sworn enemies together. “It’s no small thing knowing you’ve done right by your child.” – Taylor The rule of television is, when two characters (especially two characters with a very extreme relationship) are pitted alone together in one location for the entirety of an episode, their opinions of one another will shift quite notably. As Taylor and Mira begin the episode as enemies, this experience causes them to end up admitting a mutual respect for one another. Plus, they bond over the devotion they have to their children—as well as their shared self-denotation as failed parents. Taylor banished his son into the wild when he found out he was a traitor. Mira left her daughter to grow up without her back in 2100, hoping someday to return to her with the financial means to raise her properly (this ties back into the whole “mine prehistory for resources” thing we learned about last week). Of course, they both get home safely, and with a newfound reverence for each other’s ideologies. And as big a fan as I am of enemies uniting and character-driven episodes, this subplot seems a bit hokey, obvious and without a good deal of real substance. “How did it feel, wearing the commander’s cap while I was gone?” – Taylor “I wouldn’t want to do it every day.” – Jim In other, more extended unlike-duo news, Jim takes his daughter’s soldier boyfriend Reynolds on as his Number Two this week. At the onset of the episode, Jim and Reynolds investigate a scene they believed to be a base of operations for the Sixer’s traitor (which they concluded by tracking down a communications signal leaving from the building). What’s more, Jim and Reynolds find some broken glass and a single drop of blood left in a beaker of some chemical liquid. Jim brings the liquid to his wife, and then to a reluctant Malcolm, in hopes of identifying the subject, but things go a bit awry. When Liz retrieves the blood beaker from the lab the next morning, she realizes that it has been compromised. This allows them the suggestion that the Sixer’s culprit is someone who has access to the lab. The little information the team can derive is that the subject is a female. These two clues leave only forty-seven possible suspects as the Sixer’s spy. “Remember. We’re the only ones with the cure.” – Sixer But of course, we know who it is. We are told quite early on the episode, as a matter of fact, that it is Skye. So early do we find out, that it doesn’t even seem like she could be the spy. Never has such a long-awaited solution to a TV riddle been offered so anticlimactically (except maybe when we learned the identity of Mysterion). But what’s more perplexing is why Skye, of all people, would be working with the Sixers. Oh, wait. We find that out, too. See, her mom is dying. And the Sixers have her. Apparently, the Sixers are the only ones “with a cure” to save her mom (I take this to mean that they’ll send her back to the 2100s once the technology is available…they don’t have much else in the vein of medical advancements). Skye brings them medicine and information, and they care (liberally) for her mother. A few weeks back, I made a point of praising Terra Nova for its ability to make us care about two central characters who commanded a subplot of one episode—Skye and Hunter. Back then, I really felt for both of them. But this week, I don’t really have the same attachment to Skye, even though her plotline is more significant and more logically compelling. Skye seems to lack some of the charm that makes her a likable character in other episodes. Maybe she’s too caught up in furthering the plot. But if the plot doesn’t concern characters we love, then it’s not worth furthering. We find out who the traitor is. Jim progresses in the investigation. Taylor and Mira form some sort of bond, and we learn more about their backstories. All signs point to this being a great, interesting episode. Yet, there’s something missing. The characters may be doing interesting things, but they themselves are not interesting to me this week. In fact, my favorite part of the episode is Reynolds’ nervous professions to Jim about how much he cares for Maddy. That seemed real (cartoonish, but real), and human. We need more human moments in this series, and from that, stories will develop.
  • FX Announces Return Dates for 'Justified' and 'Archer'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 28, 2011
    FX has decided to make today the day they remind us that they have the market cornered on both quality drama and comedy on television. They just announced return dates for the crime drama, Justified, and the hilariously over-the-top animated spy comedy, Archer. Justified will return to the network with a third season on Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The series stars Timothy Olyphant as renegade Miami-based U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, who is relocated to his home town in rural Kentucky as punishment for his consistent malfeasance. Surrounded by the figures of his past, Givens combats where he comes from with where he wants to go in life, all the while trying to maintain justice is his new/old hometown. Archer will also return to FX for a third season on Thursday, Jan 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The animated series, starring omnipresent voice actor H. Jon Benjamin, follows the misadventures of the narcissistic manchild and destructive force that is Sterling Archer...who just so happens to also be the top spy at ISIS, a secret agent organization run by Archer's mother Mallory (Jessica Walters). Although Archer is the biggest jerk in the department, his coworkers aren't exactly model citizens (or entirely sane) either. Joining FX this year will be Unsupervised, another animated FX comedy that follows two teenaged best friends in their day-to-day exploits. Unsupervised features the voices of Kristen Bell, David Hornsby, Justin Long, Kristen Olsen and Fred Armisen -- to name a few. It will follow Archer's season premiere, debuting on Thursday, Jan. 19 at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT. Source: TVLine
  • Casting Roundup: Sean Connery Teams with Ricky Gervais, 'Parks & Rec' Gives Leslie a Rival
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 28, 2011
    This bit of casting news might be taking place over in the United Kingdom, but it is far too fascinating for those of us here in America to ignore. Two of Great Britain's most formidable contributions to the craft of film and television, Sean Connery and Ricky Gervais, are teaming up in a comedy pilot called Derek. Gervais will be filming the pilot, which stars Connery as an aged man confined to an old folks' home. In addition to directing, Gervais himself will be starring alongside Connery in the pilot. So, this is just about the most enthralling news I've ever heard. -TV Over Mind Parks & Recreation's Leslie Knope's (Amy Poehler) sunny and saccharine nature has brought her a great deal of success, and earned her a wide assortment of friends and allies. However, in the game of politics, you're always going to be up against someone. As Leslie delves further into her race for public office, we will be meeting a few of her opposing players. The first guest star to strike up an enmity with Knope will be in the form of Kathryn Hahn, who will play an operative employed by one of Knope's rival candidates. Hahn, with a good deal of comedy roles on her resume, will add her sharp flavor to Parks & Rec when her team faces off against Leslie and Co. I can't imagine it's any easy feat to keep up with the comic abilities of the show's stellar cast, but Hahn is hardly an amateur. She'll be paying a visit to Pawnee in early 2012. Parks & Recreation airs Thursday nights at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. -TVLine One actor is hopping from one period drama to another. Darren Pettie is known for his small but prominent recurring role on Mad Men, playing the secretly gay Lee Garner, Jr. Now, he'll be stepping over to ABC's Pan Am to take on the role of a regally admired airline pilot. Vince Broyles, Pettie's Pan Am character, will be a WWII vet who is embraced as an American hero and a skilled pilot, though he harbors a secret dark side. Pan Am airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. -EW
  • Jared Harris to Play Ulysses S. Grant in Spielberg's 'Lincoln'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 28, 2011
    The way I see it, if Lincoln isn't the best movie ever made, it's going to be a failure. Think about it: which President is more epic, more cinematic, more pronouncedly representative of American history than Abraham "Big 16" Lincoln? Luckily, it seems all the right people are moving forward to bring the lumbering politican to the big screen. The biopic will see Steven Spielberg, one of the country's most celebrated living directors, collaborating with the superhuman Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln. And the hype keeps growing along with the everpresent good news surrounding this film. Jared Harris, a phenomenon of supporting performance, will take on the formidable role in Lincoln of Ulysses S. Grant. Harris is one of those actors who is so good that he'll never be famous. That is to say, you can see a movie with a monumental performance by the actor and never know he was in the movie. That's because there's nothing "Jared Harrisy" about a Jared Harris performance. He plays all types. He and the role are one and the same. So, unfortunately, you'll never catch glimpse of him entering a scene and say, "Oh, I love this guy!" Even though you most certainly do. You just didn't know that all those roles you loved so much were the same guy. To fathom it seems a bit impossible, actually. But Harris will indeed do wonders with Ulysses S. Grant; that's something of which we can be sure. And we can also invest some confidence in the performances of Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Jackie Earl Haley, David Oyelowo and James Spader. So I guess this just might be the best film ever made after all. Good. We can rest easy, then...for now. Harris can also be seen as the vicious Prof. Moriarty in the upcoming film, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, starring Robert Downey, Jr., and Jude Law. Source: Indiewire
  • Video: New Teaser for J.J. Abrams' Supernatural Thriller 'Alcatraz'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 28, 2011
    We recovering LOST-aholics have been looking for anything to ease the symptoms of withdrawal since May 23, 2010. Thankfully, the great men and women who gave us the show in the first place have kept busy, doing everything they can to feed our cravings. The newest dish to be served is Alcatraz, J.J. Abrams' supernatural thriller about the notorious Pacific Coast penitentiary. So far, we've had the rapidly improving Person of Interest, produced by J.J. Abrams and starring Michael Emerson (who played Ben Linus back on the island). We're also enjoying the fantasy-drama Once Upon a Time from LOST writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz—a show that has taken no small-measure to celebrate its creators' former series (with amazing guest casting and nonstop Easter Eggs). The newest dish to be served to us is Alcatraz, Abrams' series about another mysterious island—only this one with a prison...a literal prison. This January, the new thriller series (starring island alum Jorge Garcia) will arrive on Fox. As we can tell from this teaser, it is dressing itself with twists and turns, mysterious characters and complex elements we'll have to invest six years of our lives to truly understand. And we wouldn't have it any other way. Source: TVology
  • First Poster and Pics for Angelina Jolie's Directorial Debut 'Land of Blood and Honey'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 28, 2011
    If there's one thing I learned from a recent pot luck dinner I hosted, an effort to mend the rift between the vampire and bear communities in my neighborhood, it's that blood and honey don't mix. But somehow, Angelina Jolie has found a means to deliver both to us in what seems like it just might be a pretty daring, captivating story. Jolie's directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey, is set in the war-ravaged Balkans, highlighting a star-crossed love story between a Serbian soldier (Goran Kostic) and his Bosnian captive (Zana Marjanovic). Below, we can see the conceptual poster Jolie's film (I think a more honey-centric one would have been nicer, but that's just me...). We can also see Jolie in action as a director for the first time, and several of the Blood and Honey cast members. Source: Cinemablend
  • John Lithgow Teams with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis in Political Comedy 'Dog Fight'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 28, 2011
    As a child, I would often find comfort, during those long, dark and frightening nights, knowing that somewhere out there, John Lithgow was keeping the world safe. As I got older, my fears strayed a bit from ghouls and shadows, and attached themselves more steadfastly to the corruption and malfeasance of man himself. Nothing is scarier than men in power: the government incites fear in many of us. But again, we turn to John Lithgow for comfort. And now, he'll be taking on the horrifying world of politics head on. The comically brilliant Lithgow is joining the political comedy Dog Fight—already starring two pirouetting forces of humor, Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. The story will face Ferrell against Galifianakis as a rival pair of Southern politicians vying for the presidency. Lithgow (in a role yet undisclosed) will also be joining the talents of Jason Sudeikis, Brian Cox and Dylan McDermott, who, interestingly enough, is (according to IMDb) playing a character named Tim Wattley. Tim Wattley. A name that should sound familiar to any Seinfeld fan. To those unfamiliar, Tim Wattley (played expertly by the one, the only Bryan Cranston) was the friend and dentist of Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer, who re-gifted a labelmaker, adorned his waiting room with inappropriate magazines, went to dental school with John Voight, and converted to Judaism just for the jokes. What are we to feel about this name re-gifting? Hard to say. But where do we stand on Lithgow in Dog Fight? Absolutely on board. Directing Dog Fight is Jay Roach, who brought us all three Austin Powers movies, the first two Meet the Parents films, and Mystery Alaska. Source: Indiewire