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.
  • Gov. Rick Perry Gives "Top Ten Excuses" for His Debate Meltdown: Late Last Night
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 11, 2011
    Last night, Governor Rick Perry attempted to recover from his pretty catastrophic mental breakdown at the Republican Debate the other day by delivering David Letterman's "Top Ten List" on The Late Show. The category: "Top Ten Rick Perry Excuses." Robert Pattinson appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to lament how he's "not British enough" anymore—and how he plans to rectify this—and the not-entirely-successful event of imprinting his hands and feet in cement at the Grauman's Chinese Theater with Twilight costars Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner. Kristen Stewart paid a visit to Jimmy Kimmel Live! to play a game where she guesses if black-clad visitors to Hollywood are there to see Breaking Dawn or the Megadeth concert. She also went into detail to explain what they had to cut out of her love scene with Robert Pattinson to keep from reaching an R-rating. Finally, also on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Jon Bernthal, who plays Shane on The Walking Dead, spoke about being stuck next to a die-hard fan on a five-hour flight on the way to his son's birth. Apparently the fan made Bernthal give a behind-the-scenes commentary on the entire first season DVD of the series.
  • 'Parks and Recreation' Recap: The Treaty
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 10, 2011
    S4E7: One of the most beautiful things about Parks and Recreation is that it has a cast of ten very rich, very three-dimensional major characters (plus one Jean-Ralphio), all of whom we have come to care deeply about. With this strength, though, comes an inherent weakness: because we care about each and every one of these characters, and we only have twenty-two minutes a week to spend with the lot of them, we are inevitably going to feel like someone that we cherish is getting short-changed. Sometimes this comes in the form of diminished screen time—this isn’t so much of an issue this week, as we get stories involving everyone in the Parks & Rec department. Sometimes, it means interesting arcs being cut short, sacrificed to make room for larger stories—this is a present flaw in this week’s episode. And sometimes, since we’re always so pumped to see these characters do what they do best, we simply get a little disappointed when we see them used incorrectly. “Friends drive you to the airport and help you move. All boyfriends do is…love you and marry you.” – Leslie Leslie is headlining a Model U.N. event for Pawnee high school students who are passionate about the club. The only person as excited as Leslie for the afternoon is Ben, who “super-did” Model U.N. in high school. Last week laid some pretty serious groundwork for the discomfort/frustration Leslie and Ben have around each other due to lingering romantic feelings, and this week tends further to that storyline. Naturally, Leslie’s campaign managers feel that this event would make a good photo-op, et al—Ben does not deal well with this. Feeling abandoned by Leslie after they had begun the day in such a fun/dorky celebration of their mutual interest, he develops an immediate hostility toward her once her attention shifts elsewhere. His reaction might seem inconsistent with his extremely supportive act of ending their relationship so that Leslie could pursue her dream guilt-free, or his passive-aggressive bottle-up-your-problems theory as expressed in the Halloween episode, but at second thought, that doesn’t necessarily suggest error: people are inconsistent, especially when overcome by strong (negative) emotions. He wasn’t acting like the gentle Ben (yep, going there) we know, because he can’t help but feel jealous, sad, a little bitter even, at seeing Leslie dote over the “love for which she left Ben”: politics. The fight escalates and encompasses the entire Model U.N., provoking Leslie and Ben to declare war on one another and form alliances against each other. After the French ambassador calls the duo out for their behavior, Leslie and Ben recognize how they’ve been acting and come to a reconciliation. They acknowledge how difficult it will be to stay friends, but they vow to try. It’s sweet, and real, because the problem is clearly not over—but it’s being worked on. “Tom Haverfords don’t grow on trees.” – Ron “If they did, I would sell ‘em—Tommy Trees!” – Tom Tom is amazing. Ron is amazing. Tom + Ron = amazing. In fact, were it not for the pretty obvious conclusion impending the whole way through, this week’s Tom/Ron storyline would be amazing. It is funny, even if both characters are a bit out of their elements—that’s a testament to the show, that we can love and feel familiar with characters even when they’re acting out of the norm (because it’s rooted in the way we really understand them to be). And as much as I love Tom as a Parks & Rec employee, I was really hoping his “trying to make it big” storyline wasn’t going to get thrown out. I want to see Tom pursue his dream further. Maybe he’ll have ups, probably a lot of downs. But the character has established since Day 1 how he wanted something more (not more substantial, just more expensive) than his P&R* life. I can only hope that this is not the end of his extra-Park ambitions, as they are integral to the Tom character. But I can optimistically say that I feel as though as long as Jean-Ralphio is hovering around, Tom will always have a scheme in the works. “I am sorry that I added five years to your life.” – Chris I’m not really sure what’s going on with Chris lately—or Anne, for that matter. Perhaps they are using the two in a more confrontational forum to break Anne out of the void that she’s been in since their breakup. But where the idea came for Chris to date Jerry’s daughter is beyond me—I’m none too fond of the “She’s hot despite the fact that her father is Jerry” jokes, or Chris’ overt openness with Jerry about their love-life. It all just seems a little one-note, and flat on top of that. So the storyline surrounding Chris/Anne/Jerry/Donna (characters I’m all perfectly fond of ordinarily) this week, in which Chris commandeers the other three to get perspectives on why Jerry’s daughter isn’t calling him back, doesn’t work for me. The payoff is Anne coming into her own and calling Chris out on his self-absorbed nature, but then admitting that their relationship in turn made her come out stronger. I suppose we’ll have to see what exactly they decide to do with Chris/Anne/Jerry/Jerry’s daughter in episodes to come. But if it’s more of the same, I’m hoping that this storyline is dropped promptly. Anne deserves to interact with other characters—her Ron stories this season have been subtly phenomenal—and I’d like to see her come into her own independent of Chris. This week’s episode of Parks has a lot of what makes us love the show. We are enamored and charmed by Leslie, even Leslie at her worst (because Leslie at her worst is always for really sweet, eye-welling reasons). It has Tom being suave, Andy being goofy, and Ron taking pride in things that no man should (and pulling it off in a way that makes all men think, “Maybe that is something I should take more pride in”). But, as expressed above, it’s easy to feel like characters we love so much aren’t always getting the stories they deserve. "The Treaty" is a little thinner than your usual Parks. But, it's still very much a Parks, and still very much a great, funny, warm episode of television. *Or, if you prefer, Tommy’s Place.
  • Anderson Cooper's Talk Show 'Anderson' Renewed for a Second Season
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 10, 2011
    Some might call this blasphemy. Others might simply think it uninspired. But as far as I am concerned, Anderson Cooper is this generation's Walter Cronkite. He's about the most trustworthy and earnest reporter on the air, with an appreciation for both severity and humor. So, with great pleasure, I deliver the news that Cooper's daytime talkshow, Anderson, has been renewed for a second season. Anderson debuted this past September, and has been airing on the WPIX 11 station. For its second season, Anderson will move to WNYW, the local Fox affiliate. Whereas the Cooper of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360º is the man with whom the public is more familiar—the journalist who, for instance visited Port-au-Prince almost immediately after the earthquake in Haiti, and rushed to the attention of an injured young boy—the host of Anderson offers us his lighter side, the side that has the liberty to speak about topics of cultural interest. Cooper remains adroit at delivering hard news with his always wise and unique perspective on 360º. But in all honesty, he could be reading the weather and I'd still call it a broadcasting triumph: the more of him on television, the better. Click here to find out when Anderson airs in your area at Source: THR
  • Casting Roundup: 'True Blood' Gets a New Werewolf, 'Party Down' Vet on 'Happy Endings'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 10, 2011
    This past season on True Blood, fans got to see the rise and fall of Marcus Bozeman (Daniel Buran), former master of the werewolf pack. But until now, we've been missing one vital piece of the Marcus story: his mother. True Blood has rustled the formidable film and television actress Dale Dickey to play Annie, mother of the deceased Marcus on the next season of the HBO series, who will serve as a woman on a mission—not unlikely, a mission of revenge. Dickey had a major role in last year's acclaimed film, Winter's Bone, and played Patty, the kindly and academically ingenious prostitute on My Name is Earl. -TVLine Every once in a while, it feels like the networks decide to get together and throw a little party for we TV aficionados. ABC's Happy Endings is one of the funniest and most clever series on air, and it is about to welcome a starring player from one of the funniest and most clever series of 2009 and 2010: Party Down. Ryan Hansen, who played the self-absorbed struggling actor, Kyle, on the canceled Starz comedy, will make his way to the steaktruck-lined streets of Chicago to play a none-too-stylish suitor to the unlucky-in-love Penny (Casey Wilson). Overcome by from her grab-bag of insecurities, Penny will decide that Hanson's character needs some serious renovations before the two can date. Oh, Penny. Happy Endings airs Wednesday nights at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. -TVLine If you like Chelsea Handler, and can get past the confusion of Laura Prepon playing Chelsea Handler while Chelsea Handler herself plays Chelsea Handler's sister, then you're probably looking forward to the NBC midseason replacement comedy Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea, based on the talk show host's book of autobiographical essays. And if you are also a fan of That '70s Show, you're probably about to be ecstatic: the show's vet Prepon will be visited by former costar Wilmer Valderrama for one episode of Are You There, Vodka? He'll play a minor-league baseball player who becomes a love interest for Chelsea. -EW
  • New Trailer Asks Is Eddie Murphy's 'A Thousand Words' Worth a (Motion) Picture?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 10, 2011
    A picture may be worth a thousand words. But is A Thousand Words worth a picture? A motion-picture that is—does the idea of Eddie Murphy mastering ad hoc sign language so that he won't die really warrant a full length feature film? Hard to say. Murphy plays Jack McCaw, a loudmouthed swindler who, as the trailer below puts it, will "say anything to get what he wants." Inevitably, he takes this habit too far, crossing a mystical author (Cliff Curtis) who decides to teach the man a lesson: he "connects" McCaw's soul to a magical tree—stay with me—in that everytime McCaw speaks a word, one of the leaves falls. When the tree is completely barren, it is suggested that McCaw will die. So, he shuts up. The way I see it, A Thousand Words is pretty much Liar, Liar...only, instead of the heartfelt unreliable-but-loving father/constantly disappointed son story, there's a tree. But who knows? As people have been saying about a whole bunch of things for a few weeks now, this could be Murphy's big comedic reboot. Alongside the actor are the terrific Kerry Washington and the comedically adroit Clark Duke. And aside from the trailer banking heavily on Duke in the "Isn't it funny when dorky Jewish guys do immitations of slang-talking black guys?" shtick that far too many movies seem to propagate, both of these actors are good things to bet on. Of course, the most important aspect to a comedy wherein the lead character is barred from speaking: physical comedy. If you are a fan of it, this movie might very well be something you'll enjoy. If not, then maybe you can focus on the ecological subtexts: save the tree(s)...or we'll die. Stay green, Murphy.
  • Gina Carano and Michael Fassbender Duke it Out in Captivating New 'Haywire' Trailer
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 10, 2011
    Haywire is an anomaly. When the last trailer came out, I realized how odd it was that I was so drawn to this movie, considering no particular fascination with the action genre. I assumed that my interest in Haywire would wane overtime, figuring that I was just temporarily hypnotized by Gina Carano's martial ability, or the unwavering charisma of Michael Fassbender. But the more Haywire I see, the more haywire I go. The new trailer heightens my intrigue even more: opening with a delicate symphony as Carano and Fassbender walk, in dark innocence, down a hotel hallway...and then erupting into a cacophonous fight scene, of which Carano is quite the victor. And it all seems captivating and beautiful, exciting and thoughtful. It's not simply a revenge story, it's a revenge story with a cloying question: Carano's character, a deadly assassin, is betrayed by her employing government. But she does not know why. I think the inherent self-doubt, identity crises, bouts of paranoia and fractures of loyalty here are what is drawing me to Haywire. Any movie can have someone wronged set out on the road for justice. But to Carano's lead, the transgression cuts deeper than bruises: everything she was is no more. And she cannot get it back. It's going to be fun, adrenal, brutal, and heavy on the visuals. But beneath all that, it seems like quite an interesting story. You can watch the trailer over at Entertainment Weekly.
  • Hopes Are High for the Miles Davis Biopic in the Works
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 10, 2011
    The biopic is a tricky thing. Filmmakers need be wary, in developing cinematic depictions of the personal and professional lives of celebrated individuals, of the perfect recipe for a movie that is both satisfactorily accurate and wholly interesting. There's always the additional boost of flavor when a biopic focuses on a music legend. For one, the inclusion of the music itself spices up any story. Additionally, musicians tend to be celebrated as artists and individuals beyond most other types of individuals; it's not too hard to understand, either. Music is such an accessible, universal yet personal kind of art that provokes a range of emotionality that few other things can. And when it comes to cinema, I think few other styles of music are as suited for the screen as jazz. This is why a developing Miles Davis biopic, to be directed by George Tillman, Jr. (Notorious), doesn't sound like too shabby of an idea. Of course, biopics are often hit or miss. We remember fondly Walk the Line, and La Bamba...we don't have such great things to say about The Doors, and did anyone even know that De-Lovely happened? But as Miles Davis' family is involved to create an honest story "without any sugar-coating," we're a bit optimistic. But biopics are a pretty regimented format. It'd be nice to see a little freedom of form and creativity of style in this movie, as the legend Miles Davis would in nature warrant. For my money, one of the most spirited professional biopics out there is of another jazz legend: Fats Waller, who was celebrated in the Mos Def/Jack Black film Be Kind Rewind. I know, many will disagree that this was in the strictest terms a biopic...but it told the story and captured the flavor of a great musician. Also, there was a magnetized man improvising an ad hoc Ghostbusters ripoff. Source: THR
  • Piers Morgan Signs Off as 'America's Got Talent' Judge
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 10, 2011
    For six years, Piers Morgan has been primarily recognizeable as a judge on the reality competition series America's Got Talent. In light of his relatively new gig hosting Piers Morgan Tonight on CNN, a slot formerly occupied by Larry King Live, Morgan has announced that he will not be returning to America's Got Talent next season, as he is retiring from the judging position. As the presidential race heats up, especially on the Republican side, Morgan wishes to dedicate the lot of his time focusing on political current events and reporting on issues relating. However, as seen in the video below, Morgan expressed a great deal of appreciation for his stint on America's Got Talent. Said Morgan, "I've been a judge since the show began six years ago. I've loved every single second." Morgan also sincerely thanked the show's co-creator and executive producer Simon Cowell, and his co-judges Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel and the show's host Nick Cannon, before joking that they would all be "very relieved to learn they no longer have to work with [him]." So, the question is raised: who will replace Morgan on America's Got Talent? Auditions are currently taking place for America's Got Talent's seventh season. Source: TVLine
  • Jake Abel in Talks for Andrew Niccol's 'The Host,' by 'Twilight' Author (UPDATED)
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 10, 2011
    UPDATE: No word yet on whether or not Abel will play Ian, but we do know -- per Deadline -- who has landed the other male-lead role, Jake: Max Irons, an up-and-coming young actor who was last seen in Red Riding Hood. EARLIER: The kingdom of the young adult fiction genre might have a new contender for its throne. The name of this rising knight: Jake Abel. He might not sound too familiar, but his reputation is on the rise. Abel has found his way into a collection of films of the young adult fiction nature: The Lovely Bones, I Am Number Four and the Percy Jackson & the Olympians movies. His next foray in this neighborhood might very well be as the star of Andrew Niccol's adaptation of the novel The Host, which is written by Twilight series author Stephanie Meyer. The Host takes a look at a future society where spirits freely inhabit and then evacuate bodies of humans, without causing much of a stir. However, one of these alien spirits will become indefinitely attached to the body of a dying woman, bent on a mission to find a specific society of people. Sure, the nature of the "young adult genre," and the source material coming from Meyer might be a bit polarizing. Though the Twilight series has its share of diehard fans, there are also those who are turned off by the franchise, and might be by any other film coming from a Meyer novel. However, for those, there is Andrew Niccol. The director of the upcoming The Host is known for his cerebral winners. Niccol wrote and directed the classic sci-fi Gattaca, which is truly one of the greatest original dystopian films ever made, as well as the campy-but-interesting S1m0ne. Niccol also wrote The Truman Show and the story for Steven Spielberg's The Terminal. His most recent contribution is the Justin Timberlake starrer In Time. So, this is really firing on all cylinders. For one the young adult genre, you have Abel and Meyer. For those who are hesitant about such films, you have Niccols. And for anyone who hates all of these things, you have alien spirits taking over dying people's bodies. If you have a problem with that, then there's no pleasing you. Also starring in the film is Saoirse Ronan. Others in talks for Abel's role of a gradually reforming young thug include Dane DeHaan, Thomas McDonnell and Augustus Prew. Source: Indiewire
  • Robert Pattinson Is a Secret Butt-Double: Late Last Night
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 10, 2011
    Last night, Robert Pattinson appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to talk about his homeless world travels, mixing up dreams with reality, and his secret profession as a butt-double in movies. Adam Sandler visited The Late Show to share stories about sneaking around his house to discreetly make love with his wife...without waking up the kids. Kelsey Grammer showed up on The Tonight Show to tell the story of meeting his much, much younger wife, and beating out three young guys for her attention.  Finally, Joel McHale stopped by Conan to talk about being the arch enemy of the Kardashian family, and turning the act of making coffee into a very "sexy" video with his Community castmembers (which he also shows Conan's audience).