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.
  • Fox Lures Andy Serkis Back for 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' Sequel
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 03, 2011
    Why money Serkis? Actually, it's no question why 20th Century Fox has closed a (reportedly) seven-figure deal with Rise of the Planet of the Apes star Andy Serkis to return for a sequel: everyone loved him in the first one. Rise was a surprisingly fascinating and fun movie to many of us, and this is due in large to Serkis' motion capture performance as Caesar, the ape who instigates that planetary rise you might have noticed towards the end. There's no certainty that we'd be seeing a return of characters like James Franco's Will Rodman or Freida Pinto's Caroline Aranha. But the news of Serkis' return is an exciting one. The end of Rise was left intentionally open-ended in the interests of developing additional movies in the series. Sure, that may be considered a cheap trick at roping in audiences for countless movies...but call me a sap, then, because I'm totally on board for every adventure on an ape-run Earth that Hollywood is willing to give me. In other Serkis-related news, the idea of a campaign for an Academy Award nomination for Serkis is being tossed around, which would make him the first capture performance actor to receive this accolade. After years of being a less-than-duly-appreciated part of major films, the fantastic actor is finally finding his place in Hollywood. Serkis... is... home. Source: Deadline
  • 'Downton Abbey' Will Get a Third Season
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 03, 2011
    The first season of the British period drama Downton Abbey was a critical sensation in America, earning six awards on top of five additional nominations at the 2011 Emmys. The United States have yet to join the Crawley family in its second season as audiences in the United Kingdom have, but early 2012 will reunite fans with this twentieth century aristocratic dynasty. There's been that creator Julian Fellowes was seriously considering developing another season of Downton Abbey, hoping to explore further decades with his characters. The deal is finally official, and British and American audiences will be enjoying a third season of Downton Abbey. Many were pleased with Fellowes' announcement that he was interested in expanding his series through a third season, so the completion of this deal must come as a great source of joy. Fellowes has a reputation as a writer and producer for harboring a great appreciation and respect for his characters, so we don't have to worry about a decline in quality come the later years of Downton Abbey. He expressed a particular fascination with exploring the era of the 1920s, which will be the time period of the third season. Downton Abbey's second season premieres on American television on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on PBS. Source: AOLTV
  • Fox Halts Production on J.J. Abrams' 'Alcatraz' to Reshoot Episodes
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 03, 2011
    Considering the major world religion that has been spawned from LOST fandom, and the so-far-so-good Person of Interest, any television show headed by J.J. Abrams comes with a lot of clout. So it's worth it to make sure that the shows are operating at maximum quality. We've heard a lot about Abrams' next TV endeavor, Alcatraz, the mystery-thriller centering on supernatural goings-on in the infamous island prison (you can read our pilot review here). Alcatraz has been in production for some time, having shot seven episodes to date. Fox has decided to halt production on additional episodes of Alcatraz for a one- or two-week period in order to perform reshoots for the ones already completed. The reshoots are likely to be approached with a "fine-tuning" sensibility—perhaps the directors and producers have developed a new aesthetic perspective for the show. Or perhaps they have come up with new elements for the story that they'd like to root in the series earliest episodes. Once the reshoots are complete, the production on the remaining six episodes of the first season will be undergone immedately. Alcatraz stars Sarah Jones as SFPD Det. Rebecca Madsen, who investigates the mysteries of the prison. Also starring are LOST alum Jorge Garcia as Dr. Diego Soto, an academic expert on the prison, as well as an avid comic book junkie, and Sam Neill as an enigmatic government agent. Alcatraz is still set to premiere sometime in early 2012. Source: AOLTV
  • Jimmy Fallon Channels Justin Bieber to Sing "(It's Not My) Baby": Late Last Night
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 03, 2011
    Last night, Jimmy Fallon reminded us of his glory days as a talented SNL performer with a great musical/celebrity impression sketch. As you've probably heard, Justin Bieber was recently slapped with a paternity lawsuit by a twenty year-old woman, claiming that Bieber is the father of her three month-old son. Jimmy channeled his inner Bieber (and spoke on the Bieb's behalf) by performing "(It's Not My) Baby" in character as the pop star. Taylor Lautner visited The Tonight Show to discuss his thrill-seeking near-death experiences, and his black-light minigolfing adventure. When Ellen DeGeneres paid a visit to Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the result was a battle of epic proportions: a Nice Off. Ellen and Jimmy lunged into a competition to determine who is the nicer talk show host. There were no survivors. Finally, back on The Tonight Show, Martha Stewart talked about being a savior for trick-or-treating children in a Halloweenless town, and she made a pass at both Taylor Lautner and Jay.
  • 'Modern Family' Recap: Treehouse
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 02, 2011
    S3E7:In general, this week’s Modern Family is stacked with high highs and low lows, and balances out to a slight step up from the series’ recent output. It offers a better-than-average Jay/Gloria story and a worse-than-average Claire/Haley story. As always, Phil and Luke are gold. But the thing that resonates most in “Treehouse” is the show’s insistence on using Cam’s homosexuality as a punchline. “If you let me keep that hang glider, those geese would have followed me to the wetlands.” – Phil “You would have died.” – Claire “A hero.” – Phil Claire starts out the episode in her normal state of frustration with her family. Phil is up to very Philish hijinks: building a treehouse as a (very) thinly veiled attempt to recapture his lost youth. But the main problem: Haley is having trouble with her college essay (a running theme in the series). Haley’s dilemma stems from a lack of hardship in her life. Instead of employing introspection or anything else that Haley has probably never heard of, she complains about how easy her life has been and blames this lack of real experience on her mother. Claire responds by tricking Haley into taking a car ride with her somewhere outside of the neighborhood and then leaving her without a phone or money to get home on her own (the perfect fodder for her essay). The problem with this storyline is: we don’t actually see Haley getting home. In between her abandonment and her frazzled storming through the front door, we see or hear nothing from Haley or Claire. This could have been a comic goldmine, and possibly some interesting character development (okay, maybe just a comic goldmine). But instead, the episode opts for some catty remarks between the Dunphy women that make the whole plot seem useless. “I could totally be a womanizer.” – Cam “Or you could be someone who just stepped out of a machine called The Womanizer.” – Mitchell The plot complexity is at least a step above the Lucy-Ricky squabbles that Cam and Mitchell were having for a few weeks: Cam wants to prove himself capable of “passing for straight,” so he hits on a woman at a bar (Leslie Mann), but worries that he has taken it too far when she wants to see him again. My issues with this storyline are detailed in my introduction. Throughout the episode, as you might imagine, there are a ton of jokes about Cam’s sexuality, many of which structured around what his being a gay man “must” indicate about him. Now, I’m not certain whether or not I’m being too sensitive here. Cam’s homosexuality is not being treated with malice—this is something of which the show is never guilty. But when Mitchell, a character we’re supposed to consider intelligent and likeable, attributes Cam’s supposed fragility to his being gay, it seems harmful. Especially since, as a gay man himself, Mitchell acts as sort of an authority on what it is “okay” to think about gay men. Of course, no one individual can be an authority on what it is okay to say about any group of people, whether he belongs to said group or not, but television characters do assume these roles in the eyes of their viewers. Thus, I think it a little irresponsible to have Mitchell tossing around stereotypes in such a generalizing fashion. I won’t say a few of the more clever jokes didn’t work, primarily thanks to Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s delivery. But this is something with which the show needs to be careful. “Honey! The dude in the tree is cool!” – Andre The Jay/Gloria storyline is both benign and forgettable, so I’ll gloss over it for the most part: Gloria thinks Jay is boring and passionless because he won’t take her out salsa dancing like returning character Shorty (Chazz Palminteri) does with his ladyfriend Darlene (Jennifer Tilly, who is as Jennifer Tilly as ever in this role). The truth is: Jay can’t dance, and is self-conscious about this. First, he asks Manny to teach him, but this amounts to naught. So, he takes a “drug” offered to him by Mitchell to loosen up—success. Of course, the drug is a placebo (Baby Aspirin), but anyone who knows Mitchell should guess this right away. Moving right along to what is, unsurprisingly, my favorite part of the episode: the Phil/Luke story. The magic duo has both minimal screen time and a lack of particularly memorable lines, but their characters are so much more rich than anything else on the show. Phil forces a vacant Luke into the exploit of building a treehouse. In truth, Phil is feeling like he has lost his youth and no longer has the sort of friendships he did when he was a child who could just call to the other neighborhood kids to run out and play. It’s actually legitimately sad when Phil begins to reveal his true intentions. Eventually, Luke bails on Phil out of frustration—and a sense of doom surrounding the project—leaving his dad stuck up in the tree. But Phil catches the eye of a neighbor, Andre (Kevin Hart), who, despite having lived right over the fence for eight years, has never met Phil. It’s a somewhat touching moment when Phil realizes he is not actually the man-without-a-country he assumed himself to be. Andre is in the same boat: he immediately jumps onboard with the treehouse project, channeling the same sensibilities Phil had when he pioneered it. The episode closes with a promise of Phil/Andre storylines to come, which seems like good material for comedy. Two adult Phils is even more destructive than one, and this might free Luke up to spread some of his glory to another pairing. Manny perhaps? I’ve always appreciated the two of them working together. I am still a bit torn on the Cam/Mitchell issue. Am I missing the point of all these gay jokes? Are they simply there to illustrate affable characters with human flaws, living a funny but normal lifestyle? I’m not unwilling to accept that I might be simply not getting it, but it seems to be that the show is just taking the easy route to comedy, at the expense of a value it claims to embrace.
  • Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum Bring Laughter to '21 Jump Street' Red Band Trailer
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 02, 2011
    It can be said that the 21 Jump Street movie has been in the works for over two decades. But that probably won't be said; after all, fans of the 1980s crime TV series 21 Jump Street will not find a stylistic twin in the upcoming film adaptation starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. The Jump Street we'll be seeing come next March is much more comical—unsurprisingly, considering a cast that includes Hill, Rob Riggle, Nick Offerman, and Ellie Kemper—than its parent series. Yes, there is action: gunfights, stabbings, car chases. But they all seem to be a vehicle (pun excessively intended) for the delivery of comedy. This is not to pick fault with the movie. In fact, it is just the contrary. Comedy is a good thing, even if it finds itself into stories that didn't really think themselves that they warranted, or wanted, comedic themes. The idea of adult policemen going back to high school as undercover agents where they once were students is inherently hilarious. I praise this melding of the 21 Jump Street of the 1980s with self-aware Judd Apatow comedies of today. And above that, this red band trailer suggests a pretty funny, fast-paced movie. 21 Jump Street reaches theaters on March 16, 2012.
  • Woody Harrelson Is One Angry, Crooked Cop in 'Rampart' Poster
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 02, 2011
    The renegade cop story. There will always be movies about it, and there will always be people racing to see it. Nothing is more gripping than than corruption, and nothing is more corrupt than the idea of a figure that represents the law living in free contradiction to it. Thus, what is more interesting than the renegade cop story? Maybe the misunderstood alien story, but that's it. Woody Harrelson, a pitifully underappreciated actor, stars in Rampart as 1990s LAPD Officer Dave Brown, who will do anything he can to survive. The poster grabs right for the throat with your go-to renegade cop profile view: the sunglasses, the grimace, the stubble, the glare...this movie has got intrigue written all over it. In ink. The ink from one of those exploding bank bags that go off when you steal money. Which is a common practice of criminals. And crooked cops. Oh yeah. Intrigue. Rampart is written and directed by Oren Moverman (The Messenger) and also stars Steve Buscemi, Anne Heche, Ben Foster, Sigourney Weaver, Ice Cube, Robin Wright, Ned Beatty and Cynthia Nixon. The film opens Jan. 27, 2012.   
  • 'Jersey Shore' and 'The Bachelor' Premiere Dates Announced
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 02, 2011
    January is a time for rebuilding yourself. New years mean new resolutions, new goals, new aspirations for self-fulfillment. In short, January is a time to become a better person. And who better to impart the values of personal improvement unto the American population than the cast of Jersey Shore? MTV has announced the premiere date for Jersey Shore's fifth season, during which we'll see the cast back in New Jersey after their season abroad in Italy. Now that they're back on their home turf, what can we expect from the newly-cultured Jerseyans we have come to know so very well over the past four seasons? Jersey Shore will return to television on Thursday, Jan. 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Another reality show making its way back to television early in 2012 is The Bachelor. This season will focus on Ben Flajnik, a former contestant on The Bachelorette, at the center of the romance competition. Flajnik underwent the disheartening experience of being turned down in a marriage proposal by The Bachelorette subject Ashley Herbert. Hopefully, his fortune will turn around in the upcoming Bachelor season, which begins Monday, Jan. 2 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC, in a special two-hour premiere episode. Source: THR
  • Zachary Knighton and Adam Pally of 'Happy Endings' Discuss New Romances and Guest Stars
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 02, 2011
    We got a chance to speak with two of the stars of ABC’s secret weapon sitcom Happy Endings: Zachary Knighton, who plays the listless, somewhat clueless, but good-natured Dave, and Adam Pally, who plays the sardonic underachiever Max, about their experiences on the show and what is in store for their characters and their fans. Knighton teased of a possible big development in his character Dave’s love life: “There’s a bit of a twist coming, but I don’t think I can talk about it…no spoilers for that one, but there’s some big stuff comin’ down the line for ol’ Dave,” further stating that, “I think fans will be supportive, for sure.” On the topic of romance, Knighton and Pally confirmed that former guest stars Megan Mullally, who played Penny’s (Casey Wilson) perpetually upbeat mother, and Damon Wayans, who played Brad’s (his real-life son Damon Wayans, Jr.) emotionally distant father, will be returning to the series and will be “involved with each other in some capacity,” further elaborating that it will be “something parental-themed, or something very sexual and weird.” Other guest stars we have yet to see include Fred Savage (who works on the show as a director) and Saturday Night Live star Bobby Moynihan. After joking (repeatedly) that his character Max would become romantically involved with a rake in the future, Pally touched seriously on Max’s developments in this area: “I think Max is starting to get a little lonely, and is looking to find that special someone. He may or may not be out there, because Max has very specific criteria.” The discussion of Max’s love life evolved into the character’s unique design as a gay character in comedy television. As fans know, Max is a far stride from the gay stereotypes regularly employed by sitcoms. Pally confirmed that Max’s uniqueness in this vein is part of what drew him to Happy Endings, stating, “I think Max is an interesting character that I hadn’t seen before. It’s really fun to play something that is against type.” The original music on Happy Endings has been a consistent highlight, from Dave’s “The Power of Love” rock ballad in the Season 2 premiere to his homemade commercials for his steak truck -- which we will be seeing on tonight’s episode or right now on Steakmehometonight.com. When asked about what further musical exploits in which we’ll be seeing his or other characters get involved, Knighton proposed, “I think that Max and Dave should start a jug band.” Pally immediately got on board, proclaiming that “[Max will have] some ripped dude standing there, and he’s playing his abs with a spoon.” Both actors touched on the idea of developments with their characters, and how they have changed and will continue to change over the course of the series. Knighton in particular was happy with Dave's changes since the show’s inception: I wanted to move away from all the ‘left at the altar,’ relationship stuff, and really start to have storylines with everybody else, which I didn’t really get so much in the first season. That was definitely a goal of mine, and luckily it was the same with the writers. We’ve gotten to have a lot more fun with Dave this year. We’ve acknowledged [the Dave and Alex situation] like once so far this season. I think the same goes for Elisha [Cuthbert]’s character. Now that she doesn’t have to deal with trying to buy back the audience and let the audience know that she’s okay, she gets funny stuff to do. I’m sure she’s having fun with that. The topic of parents got the actors to talking about an idea that Knighton and his father came up with for the introduction of Dave’s as of yet unseen father: “My dad had a really funny pitch [in which] me and Pally are walking down the street one day, and my dad walks by. And we just stop and sort of stare at each other, examine each other up and down, and then just keep walking. Like Dave has never met his father.” Pally then put his own spin on Knighton’s idea: “You won’t know if that guy is your dad or some kind of Legend of Baggar Vance. He walks through a wall after giving you great golf advice.” Naturally, the conversation eventually turned to the fan-favorite zombie apocalypse episode of Happy Endings’ first season. When posed with the question of who among the cast would fare best in a real zombie apocalypse, both men suggested Knighton to be the ultimate survivor, and pinpointed Wayans, Jr., as an early victim. However, this brought Knighton and Pally to explore the idea that “in the next apocalypse, it’s not going to be zombies. People will be turning into Wayans. Everybody starts making dance flicks and White Chicks.” Finally, Pally expressed his desire to do a Happy Endings crossover with the AMC series Breaking Bad, wherein, as he puts it, “we all get hooked on meth.” Happy Endings airs Wednesday nights at 9:30 p.m. on ABC.
  • Denzel Washington Makes Us Question Our Safety in New 'Safe House' Poster
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 02, 2011
    Denzel Washington is its own genre of movie. It's adrenal, but thoughtful. It's heavy, but fun. It's challenging, but approachable. Safe House looks to fall right into your neighborhood of Denzelia, and no one is complaining. The upcoming film will star Washington as a rogue CIA agent under house arrest—another classic Denzel juxtaposition: he's bad, but you still kind of root for him—with a rookie officer (Ryan Reynolds) acting as his guardian. However, when their residence becomes the target of an attack, Washington must utilize his special agent prowess to save his life and that of Reynolds' character.  A race against time? Crooked officers? High-level crime? Yeah, this is a Denzel movie all right. And again: no one is complaining. Safe House is directed by Swedish director Daniel Espinosa. reaches theaters Feb. 10, 2012. Source: Moviefone