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.
  • Jason Segel Cries Everywhere He Goes: Late Last Night
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 22, 2011
    Last night, Jason Segel paid a visit to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to finally come clean about how he tricked America into letting him make The Muppets, and to recount three separate occasions when he burst into tears uncontrollably: during the table read for The Muppets, on a first date, and on an airplane next to a very uncomfortable man. Modern Family star Ty Burrell appeared on The Late Show to laugh about his placement in People Magazine's Sexiest Men issue. Back on Late Night, Congresswoman Michelle Bachman discussed her friendship with Donald Trump, her Thanksgiving traditions, and to teach Jimmy a Minnesota accent. Finally, The Middle star Atticus Schaffer stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live! to talk about alleged (and excitable) fans who don't know what show he is on. He also spoke about his massive sum of pets...which includes chickens.
  • 'Terra Nova' Recap: Vs.
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 21, 2011
    S1E8: I’ve been pretty hard on Terra Nova for some time now. Specifically, I’ve found flaw with the simplistic self-contained plotlines—like Elisabeth getting temporary amnesia, or Maddy getting stuck in a tree with her brawny boyfriend (I also don’t know why I can’t make mention of the character Reynolds without highlighting his physique—not too sure what that’s about). I have also chastised the far-too-thin running story arc of Josh pursuing the retrieval of his girlfriend via the Sixers’ two-way portal. Plus, the dialogue. Oh…the dialogue. So, yeah. Maybe I’ve been a bit hypercritical of Terra Nova. But in all honesty, this week’s episode, “Vs.,” is an hour of television that—while still bearing it share of flaws (some new, some in Terra Nova—I genuinely enjoyed. It’s a little busier than usual. New subplots spring out after every commercial break. And it sure does up the ante on the campy during its “time-killer” moments. But I have to admit, “Vs.” is a fun watch, and a positive step for the series—exemplifying the lengths it is taking to instill both its characters (specifically, Taylor), it mysteries and its whole universe with more than we might have expected. The episode follows in the recent vein of making us question the governing body of Terra Nova, in two specific ways: one very overt, one very subtle. The central plot of the episode follows Jim’s investigation of Taylor himself for murder of an unidentified individual. After Jim looks in on a delirious Boylan, who has been interrogated and psychologically tortured by Taylor for suspected treason with the Sixers, he finds out from Boylan that Taylor murdered somebody and buried him beneath a tree in the nearby woodlands, five years ago. Jim battles with his own doubts, a contentious Malcolm, and, eventually, Taylor himself in the deliberation over whether or not Terra Nova’s leader could be a murderer, let alone what to do about it. "If they didn't, then the dragonfly will lead us right to the spy's front door, just as you suggested yesterday." - Malcolm "If they didn't, and if the dragonfly could fly, but the fly can't fly." - Taylor In the meantime, Taylor and Malcolm are investigating a prehistoric dragon fly that has been trained to fly a microchip from the Sixers to their TN-based spy, following a specific sound frequency to reach its destinations. After Malcolm figures all of this out and nurtures the bug back to health (it was injured by Reynolds when it flew near a group of young children—its incapacitated state allowed for Malcolm to figure out just what was going on with the bug anyway), he sets it back out so that he and Taylor may track on its quest to the sound frequency and find out who the TN-based mole is. But here’s the thing: at this point, Taylor knows that Jim is onto him, so he sets up a mechanism to deliver the same sound frequency in Jim’s home so that he has grounds to arrest him—now that is government corruption. "If the people of Terra Nova knew that all of the blood, sweat and tears they put into building this place was built on a lie, and would probably come to absolutely nothing...well, they might as well lay down and die and forget the whole damn thing." - Taylor The whole ordeal is made pretty much moot by the fact that Jim and Taylor are, like, best friends. Taylor confesses everything to Jim while he’s in custody—without all that much provocation, by the way—and then allows him to go free. This is really a “Coming to his senses” scene, but considering the lengths the man went to, it seems a little bit like a “Did he just forget what he was doing?” scene. Anyway, Taylor admits some pretty pertinent information—flashback: his son Lucas comes back to TN on the second pilgrimage, but his intentions are to develop a two-way portal so that the 2100s could mine TN for resources (or so Taylor says…I have a feeling something far more diabolical is afoot). The government then sends back Taylor’s mentor, a 2100s General, to replace him and cooperate with their paradise-paving ploy. Unbeknownst to the one-armed general, apparently, his handicap is a pretty big detriment in close-range duels. He draws a gun on Taylor, but Taylor is quicker and manages to shoot and kill him. Subsequently, Taylor banishes his own son after realizing his malfeasance, telling him he never wants to see him again. So now we know the “What happened with Taylor and his son” backstory, which has been pretty much the biggest driving force of the series. The drawings on the rocks are also explained: they are Lucas’ plans for a two-way portal, which he draws on rocks in the woods to taunt his father (or so Taylor assumes). "Good friends, family, loved ones...we're all in this together. Without all of you, I'd have nothing." - Taylor We still don’t know who the Sixers’ mole is, but my hunch is the same as it was from the get-go: Washington. There might be a few things that contradict this, most notably her capture by the Sixers in an early episode. But there’s something about the way she pops into frame in this episode, twice—both in scenes when the spy is sort of, but not too obviously, being discussed. I’m going to have to go with my gut on this one and favor the language of the camera over logical in-universe signs. And anyway, there aren’t too many other major characters available as possibilities. With Boylan out, Malcolm too easy a choice, and Reynolds not really interesting enough to be a Sixer spy, Washington remains my bet. The Harvest Festival framing is a genuinely interesting way to illustrate the theme of this episode (plus, the whole thing ends with an elaborate fireworks show...which really, can't at all be a bad idea in a society surrounded by dinosaur-infested woods). The Terra Novans celebrate Taylor as the messiah: he is their savior, their leader, their pioneer. But, as only the ones with names know, he’s also a really messed up, emotionally damaged, anything-but-infallible head case with a power trip and a god complex and a whole bunch of other reasons why he shouldn’t be a totalitarian leader (including the one simply fact that no one should ever be a totalitarian leader). Taylor is married to his mission to preserve Terra Nova, and his understanding of how to do so allows for no substitutes as its absolute leader—this is trouble, no matter where his heart lies. And although things wrap up nicely for Jim and Taylor this time, I predict that will not always be the case from now on. portal that two-way portal should be ready any time now.
  • Chris Evans Joins Michael Shannon in 'The Iceman', Taking James Franco's Old Role
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 21, 2011
    At this point, Chris Evans is pretty much only capable of being looked at as a superhero. First, he was Johnny Storm, a.k.a The Human Torch in Fantastic Four and its sequel. Then, he shone as the star of Captain America: The First Avenger, a role he'll be reprising in next years The Avengers. And now, he's heading up the new superhero move called The Iceman, wherein he'll battle enemies with his winter breath and sub-zero rays and ability to...oh, wait, what? The Iceman isn't a superhero movie? It's a drama about a contract killer? Well, I just assumed. You know, because of Evans...Okay, I guess this could still be pretty cool. Evans is taking over the role formerly occupied by James Franco: Robert "Mr. Softee" Pronge, mentor to the titular "Iceman" figure, the real life murderer Richard Kuliski. Kuliski is being portrayed by Boardwalk Empire's terrific Michael Shannon. The project, directed by Ariel Vromen, is based on the book The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer, by Anthony Bruno. So no, it's not a superhero movie. No, it's not a Top Gun sequel. It's not even an adaptation Eugene O'Neill's esteemed Broadway play. But it still looks to be a pretty good movie. Source: Deadline
  • NBC Buys New Jim Henson Co. Puppet Sitcom
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 21, 2011
    As you must know, The Muppets are back, starting in theaters this Wednesday, Nov. 23. Whether anyone expected the world to get this excited over their return is hard to say, but there's no denying now that Jim Henson's theatrical clan is a force that inspires a great deal of enthusiasm. At least NBC realizes this, and they've thrown their hat into the ring for a new sitcom: The New Nabors. It's a potential series that would star a family of average humans who live next door to a family of puppets. Now, they're not exactly Muppets, but they are puppets, and they are created by a Henson. Jim's daughter Lisa -acting CEO of the Jim Henson Company - is executive producing the new show. Writing the project are Afterlife writer John Hoffman and 30 Rock writer John Riggi. It's natural to be skeptical about this sort of thing, however. Part of the magic of The Muppets comes from how much of an anomaly they are. We've seen attempts at puppet/human series before, and not always to great success. Think of My Cousin Skeeter. Think of Greg the Bunny. Yeah, you probably can't really think of these things; they weren't around for too long. But having the Henson name behind it is without a doubt a promising factor. If we do get to see this project take form, we'll have to pay it a bit more scrutiny. It's risky, but so were The Muppets I'm sure. And they amounted to something inspirational (and celebrational). Source: EW
  • See Leo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire Embody 'The Great Gatsby' Characters
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 21, 2011
    The Great Gatsby is often awarded the honor being called the Great American Novel. It is at once an unrelenting product and depiction of its time as well as an eternally effective illustration of the gravity and glimmers of humanity. So can a film version, even one by a director as great as Baz Luhrmann, truly capture the spirit of F. Scott Fitzgerald's most celebrated piece of writing? Hard to say, really. But we're not entirely daunted by the below images from Celebuzz of the cast in costume. As you can see, Leonardo DiCaprio plays the enigmatic and dapper Jay Gatsby. Carey Mulligan is the elegant, self-involved Daisy Buchanan. And lastly, taking the protagonist role of Nick Caraway is a perturbed Tobey Maguire. They each fit the bill aesthetically. Leo, though a pretty standard choice, is not to shabby a James Gatz. Carey Mulligan seems capable of ensnaring the angelic and demonic sides of Daisy. And Tobey...we'll have to see if he can really pull off Nick. It's easy, and natural, to be skeptical about this project. But then again, it's also easy to place trust in Baz Luhrmann. These images are definitely a check in the Positives column for The Great Gatsby adaptation. Let us look forward to more of the like.   Source: Celebuzz
  • Katharine McPhee and Debra Messing Get Theatrical in New 'Smash' Poster
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 21, 2011
    SMASH! Just like the movie Big, the musical Fame and the band Wham!, there's something about the title of the new NBC series that promises quality. And Smash might very well deliver: it has a pretty good cast, and the much-loved backdrop of Broadway going for it. But the idea is a risky one, especially seeing as people are even beginning to lose interest in the monopoly of musical series, Glee. With anything high-concept, there is little room for mediocrity. Musical TV shows like Smash often end up being either terrific or terrible. So, hopefully, the show won't ever let itself slip into being terrible. Relative newcomer Katharine McPhee -- who was an American Idol runner-up in 2006, a marginally successful recording artist, and had roles in The House Bunny, Shark Night 3D and an episode of Community -- leads the cast as an aspiring Broadway actress. More renowned names, such as Debra Messing and Anjelica Huston, make up some of the artistic and production team developing the Marilyn Monroe musical in which McPhee's character hopes to star. Despite the inherent riskiness of the series, there are many reasons to be optimistic about Smash. Its cast is promising, its theme is appealing, and it has Steven Spielberg as executive producer. So, it won't be a surprise if the new series lends a pretty viable hand to NBC this spring. Smash premieres on Monday, Feb. 6 on NBC. Source: AOLTV
  • Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy Teaming for Another 'Before Sunrise' Film, But Should They?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 21, 2011
    This one's a thinker. Way back in 1995, amid the prime years of Richard Linklater's filmmaking career, the man directed Before Sunrise, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy (both about twenty-four years old). In 2004, the necessary and completely on-par-with-the-original Before Sunset [Editor's Note: It's better than the original] was crafted by Linklater, Hawke and Delpy. Everyone was sublimely pleased with Sunset. It did much of what we wanted it to, without playing too heavily to safe expectations. It was good. The set felt right. We were happy. So naturally, now, they're considering making another one. Hawke, who co-wrote the Sunset script with Linklater and Delpy, has made mention of a reteaming of the trio to pen a third installment in the series about the love between Jesse and Celine. So...should this happen? Some will undoubtedly say yes. Some have more faith than I do, I guess, in the preservation of the same quality in a film to come. Maybe some even feel that another movie will provide a real sense of closure, as opposed to the "marginally conclusive" ending they might consider the second film to have fostered. Further still, the world and we as an audience have changed since 1995, and again since 2004. Should Jesse and Celine return in this new era to represent how we, older and instilled with whatever characteristics this new world might embrace, would now take on this lovely, tragic, magical, raw, enlightening and dismal romance? It's a tough one. Source: Vulture
  • Thanksgiving Traditions to Take from Television 
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 21, 2011
    The major Thanksgiving traditions are pretty consistent throughout America. People get together with their families, share the things for which they are most grateful, watch football and the parade, and enjoy the holiday’s typical bountiful feast of turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. But of course, some of us—those of us who have built our lives around our surrogate family: TV—have developed a few alternative traditions over the years. And of course, some of these television-inspired traditions might not seem like the most practical ideas, or the best uses of our time on this beloved American holiday, but in the age-old spirit of TV, anything—dangerous, idiotic, unrealistic, immoral—is better than boring. So, get onboard with this list of new traditions, courtesy of some of our favorite shows, and an you're guaranteed an interesting Thanksgiving. Pop a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Some call it a wholesome, festive display of American pop culture on one of the country’s favorite holidays. Some find it a tacky, consumerist production that represents style over substance. And a third group find it to be the perfect opportunity for a tradition inspired by the great American sitcom Seinfeld: deflate one of the parade’s giant balloons—specifically (if possible), the Woody Woodpecker balloon. Granted, this was an accident that turned out to be regrettable for Jerry, Elaine, her boss and Tim. But it’d probably be pretty cathartic revenge for all those years of that excruciating laugh. Slap Your Friends Vengefully Fans of How I Met Your Mother should recognize this tradition immediately. Thanksgiving might very well be a celebration of gratitude and good spirits, but Marshall and Barney exemplify the great therapeutic power of imparting violence unto your closest friends. You might run into a family member who deems Thanksgiving a “slap-free zone,” as did Lily on this memorable episode. But even when it comes to respecting the wishes of loved ones, there are limits. Pie Fight A Pie Fight is one suggestion most people should be willing to get behind. In fact, I find it hard to believe that anyone, when first spotting a picturesque, fluffy Thanksgiving pie, doesn’t at least harbor a marginal compulsion to throw it (preferably at the family member who has been talking way too much about his new promotion this year). Cheers instituted this tradition in its classic Thanksgiving episode, and it is one that is at once an inspiring emancipation from societal fences, and also really, idiotically fun. If there is one tradition you learn from this list, let it be this one. Infiltrate a Murderer's Family Dinner (or Spy on Your Coworker’s Wife Getting a Little Too Close with the Neighbor) If wacky comedic antics like balloon-popping, friend-slapping and pie-fighting aren’t your game, then how about a tense dramatic situation? Dexter has two options for you: First, you might be in the business of investigating and then bringing to violent justice people whom you believe to be serial killers. If so, then head out on Thanksgiving Day and make as stop (unannounced) at the house of that delightful white-haired church deacon you met at Habitat for Humanity. Surely your presence won't spark any horrifying, traumatic family fights. Here's a slightly less dangerous, but still pretty uncomfortable, option: you might find yourself invited to a coworker’s Thanksgiving dinner this year. If so, when you show up, you might be inclined to have a look around. Be forewarned: when Vince Masuka took it upon himself to enjoy an ad-hoc tour of the Morgan household during Dexter’s fourth season, he stumbled upon a scene of heightened familiarity between Rita and that far-too-friendly neighbor guy that Dex eventually threatened. It’ll definitely be an uncomfortable situation for you, but it’ll spice up a boring holiday for sure. Get Appendicitis Yeah, this is a weird one…but it worked out for Zach Braff during the first season of Scrubs. The series proved that having to undergo an appendectomy can actually enlighten you with a new perspective on your job and your relationships; it may just alleviate some tensions between you and your best friend. Celebrate with Disease, Ruined Friendships and Family Tragedies If you want to really get dark this year, you can take a page from The Big C's book. The second season of Showtime’s often comedic drama ended up with a great deal of anger and misfortune for the Jamison household—Cathy’s friendship with fellow cancer patient Lee was strained when he found out she lied to him about her recovery. Paul decided to get in the crime game, stealing merchandise from his store’s storage room with Andrea’s new fiancée, who turns out just to be with her for a green card. Come to think of it, you might want to avoid this tradition. Anything from Friends In delving back into Thanksgivings of television past and present, I came to the surprising realization that many TV shows—especially those running today—opt not to have their characters celebrate the holiday at all. I was saddened to realize that we have never seen Liz Lemon openly express her gratitude for Cheezy Blasters over a Thanksgiving feast (comprised entirely thereof), nor have we gotten a glimpse of what the holiday is like in Pawnee, Indiana. However, there is one show of the not-too-distant past that is an unabashed proponent of the Thanksgiving spirit: Friends. In its ten years on air, Friends gave us a surplus of memorable Thanksgivings, each with traditions to adapt for our own holiday celebrations. Taking a lesson from the series, there are many things we can do to spice up our Turkey Day: Free the Underdog balloon, letting it run rampant through New York CityPlay a hypercompetitive game of football for the Geller cupInvite Brad Pitt over to degrade one of your closest friendsAbstain entirely from the holiday in defiance of childhood traumaTime-travel back to previous lives, when you spent Thanksgiving at warInadvertently injure your future fiancée with a knife after he calls you fatWear a Turkey on your head as a method of apologyAny of those will do. So, as you can see, Thanksgiving is not quite as “traditional” on television as it is in our households. Maybe this is something for which we should aspire: more eventful, more chaotic, more memorable Thanksgivings filled with humor, scandal and injuries. But then again, we don’t all get to just have things return to normal one week later. So saying thanks and eating quietly it is.
  • Batman & Bane Revealed on 'Dark Knight Rises' Empire Mag Covers
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 21, 2011
    The Dark Knight Rises has earned itself a pair of covers on Empire Magazine (plus an additional limited edition Bane cover for subscribers only). Below, we can see Christian Bale in full bat-garb, and Tom Hardy dressed as the third film's ruthless central villain Bane. And now that we have new images, it's time for some new questions. What on Earth is Batman holding? Does my memory fail me, or have we not seen this contraption before? And really, could they have picked a less impressive-looking gadget? For those unfamiliar with his comic book history, Bane was born and raised in a corrupt Caribbean prison, forced to serve out his escaped father's life sentence. So, naturally, he's a bit disturbed. We're not sure what exactly Christopher Nolan will do with this already rich, intellectual and tormented character; but if he gives him the same artistic treatment he gave to the Joker, then there shouldn't be anything but thrills. Check out the magazine covers below courtesy of Empire Online, and the limited edition cover courtesy of Comingsoon.   Source: Empire Online, Comingsoon
  • Woody Harrelson Breaks Every Law Imaginable in 'Rampart' Trailer
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 21, 2011
    Rampart is banking pretty heavily on the "Woody Harrelson plays the most corrupt cop ever" superlative to get us interested in this film. To be perfectly honest, it is working reasonably well. Injecting the below trailer of Harrelson beating civilians, antagonizing superiors and waging a general warfare against the idea of peaceful law enforcement with the "MOST CORRUPT COP EVER" maxim makes all of it just a bit more exciting. We've seen corrupt cops time and time again in film, so what makes Harrelson's Rampart character the be-all-end-all of the breed? As we can see below, his family would attest to his intense criminality. As would some of his coworkers, and unquestionably not just a few of those whom he has apprehended over the years...I'm sure the guy who blasts into Harrelson's car in the beginning of the trailer wasn't doing so by accident. So, all in all, Rampart looks pretty exciting. Whether Harrelson does live up to the brand of corruption afforded to him is yet to be concluded, but the journey to determine this seems like it will be a fun one. The film also stars a pretty heavy set of talent: Ned Beatty, Ice Cube, Ben Foster, Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon, Sigourney Weaver, Robin Wright and Steve Buscemi. Click the photo to see the first official poster from Rampart. Source: Indiewire