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.
  • UPDATE: Sylvester Stallone Locked in 'The Tomb,' Antoine Fuqua Breaks Free
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 28, 2011
    UPDATE: Antoine Fuqua, formerly attached to direct The Tomb has decided to drop the directorial position so that he can focus on helming the boxing drama Southpaw, starring Eminem. EARLIER: There have been Tombstones, Tomb Raiders, Tombs of the Dragon Emperor... but has there ever just been a Tomb? Well, there will be: We'll be seeing The Tomb sometime soon. Perhaps not tomb-orrow, but the year tomb-thousand twelve will see this project take form. And now, Sylvester Stallone will be part of that form. In the film, directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Shooter), Stallone will play Ray Breslin, expert on architectural security. His speciality: the unbreakoutable prison. Of course, whenever someone build a prison that cannot be broken out of, you know that, somewhere along the line, that person is going to end up needing to break out of it. Breslin will be framed for a high-profile crime and locked in inpenetrable cell he designed. He will need to find some way to get out, as quickly as possible, in order to clear his own name and shed a light on the real perpetrator of the crime. This is right up Stallone's alley. It's intense and adrenal with some potential intrigue. A man must discover the weaknesses of his creation—by extension, himself—in order to save his own life. That's a powerful metaphor...I hope I'm not just reading into it tomb-uch. Source: Variety
  • 'Person of Interest' Recap: The Fix
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 27, 2011
    S1E6: I have made mention in the past about my preference when it comes to Person of Interest episodes for those that focus strongly on the backstory of either Reese or Finch, or ones that play heavily to the more overarching storyline. This week’s episode, “The Fix,” accomplishes both of those tasks, but in a way unlike that which we have seen from the show so far—which is a third plus (it’s always a positive to keep ‘em guessing). And a strictly visceral level, this might be the most basely exciting self-contained storyline to date. All in all, not a bad week for Person of Interest. ”Wanna get out of here?” – Zoe “Where are we going?” – Reese “To do something illegal.” – Zoe The self-contained plot centers around a woman (Paige Turco) not quite unlike John Reese. She has no real profession or education, but she supports herself in a two million dollar apartment. How? She’s a fixer. She does favors for people, off the record, in return for cash. And it looks like we might be seeing more of her than just this week’s episode. But for now, what we know of her is that she is hired to retrieve an incriminating recording for Mr. Lawson, (Tim Guinee), a trusted businessman and public figure who runs a pharmaceutical company owned by one Mr. Keller (Brian Murray), whom we find out later on is just as corrupt as his underlings. Assumed to be a recording of an extramarital affair, the tape that Zoe is hired to retrieve from some conniving Internet writer—the worst kind of people—actually reveals a discussion about the horrible side effects the company’s drug has on its users. The conversation is between Lawson and a woman named Dana Miller (Anna Koonin), who was murdered—but pronounced dead by a brain aneurism—six months prior. This is where the interesting part of the episode comes in. Miller’s number, much like Zoe’s does at the beginning of this week’s episode, came up on Finch’s machine half a year back. However, this was before Finch had tracked down his leg man. So, when Miller was killed, Finch was tortured. This was not specific to Miller: before Reese came around, Finch had to sit idly by as innocent people were murdered whom he could not save. In this episode, Finch explains wistfully how helpless he felt to just watch the machine spit out numbers, forced to accept the inevitability of the circumstances. Although it’s not as gripping as some more concrete backstory, it is good development. Usually—especially in interactions with Reese—all we see of Finch is sort of a hollow, robotic man who has “decided” on this mission he has accepted for himself and for his partner. But to see Finch actually overcome with emotion, it actually shines a little more sense onto the question of why this guy would be leading his life this way. It never actually seemed right to me. Granted, the few snippets we saw of his past—working with a partner who scorned him for his younger days’ disinterest in the “irrelevant” crimes—gave us some insight about what would be driving his superhero complex. But to see Finch actually gutturally affected by a person’s death, and bent on avenging her death by saving another potential victim of the same murderer, makes it ring true a bit louder. “That’s what I wanted to be. The person who knows what to say and always has something to trade.” – Zoe Another interesting facet developed in this episode is the idea of a new recurring character. We haven’t gotten any new recurring characters since the pilot, and it’ll be nice to see someone who isn’t Reese or Finch that also isn’t a cop. As stated above, Zoe is a lot like Reese—they establish that from the very beginning, when a parallel is drawn between them in the casing of Zoe’s apartment. Finch finds it odd that Zoe does not have any personal belongings (“things that she cares about”), but Reese identifies immediately with this, claiming that he is the same way. After saving Zoe (he has been posing as her chauffer to stay close to her) from the clutches of Lawson’s henchmen, he opens up some honesty about his ‘line of work’ with her, and they build a kind of Bonnie and Clyde thing, to some degree. The duo is eventually apprehended by Keller, Lawson and co. Once Zoe reveals that she has sent the incriminating file to a trusted source, she is given the opportunity to live if she leads the men to said source and gives up the file. The events to follow are straight out of a good deal of spy/kidnapping/crooks-in-love movies: everyone thinks she’s leaving him to die, she secretly slips him a clothespin to undo his handcuffs before leaving, once alone with the buffoon-of-a-henchman, the hero takes him down with his own weapon and comes to the rescue of the heroine right as the bad guys find out that she has been playing them. Nothing out of the ordinary here. But what I do like is the hint that Zoe drops at the end regarding a possible reoccurrence. It’ll be nice for Reese to have a friend. Maybe someone to get between him and his work? Him and Finch? Could be interesting. The Det. Carson storyline in this episode sort of baffles me. I’m not too certain where it is coming from, or where it is going, but we’re invested in it right from the start. What I do like about it is the third awesome guest appearance in a row on POI: Dan Hedaya, one of the best character actors ever as a good-natured cop helping Carson investigate a homicide. The episode ends with Hedaya’s character killed, indicating that the possible reappearance of Zoe isn’t the only cliffhanger this week. POI is experimenting, and is doing so with success. We’re learning about the characters even when we aren’t aided by flashbacks. Don’t get me wrong—I love the flashbacks…but less is more. Plus, new developments on the Reese/Finch front and the Carson side of it all means stronger overarching story that will, hopefully soon, start to tie all our loose ends together.
  • New 'My Week with Marilyn' Poster is the Classiest One Yet
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 27, 2011
    Okay, all other images from My Week with Marilyn. I'm talking to you, first poster. And you, collection of narrative screenshots. You were all pretty classy...but you made one fatal error: color. Everybody knows that black-and-white is always classier than color, and that's why this newest poster from the Michelle Williams starrer is the top of the tier for all of the MWWM images to date. Don't you get all worked up, picture of Marilyn swimming. You had your chance. Black-and-white and twilight lake swimming? You could have knocked 'em outta the park. But no. You had to go for color. You all did. That's right, leering Michelle, Eddie Redmayne and Emma Watson. Quit your leering. The decision has been made. This new poster is the winner. And as for you, Kenneth Branagh as Laurence Olivier...well, I'm kind of too afraid to tell you off. So, call it a tie?  All of these images aside, My Week with Marilyn does have a lot going for it. It has a stellar cast, and an intriguing subject matter...but who's to say if the classiness depicted by the poster below will be embraced by the film itself? For a bit of perspective on the movie, check out our HIFF film review of My Week with Marilyn.  Source: Moviefone
  • Casting Roundup: 'Dexter' Star on 'Good Wife,' Jim Gaffigan Gets His Own Show
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 27, 2011
    There are two types of Dexter fans: those who love Jennifer Carpenter—who plays the title character's guttermouth sister Deborah Morgan—and those who can't stand her. I subscribe to the former group, enjoying Dex-Deb scenes whenever they are offered. And now, my fellow Carpentrarians and I can rejoice over the actress' guest spot on The Good Wife. No word yet on what role Carpenter will play in the sordid lives of Alicia Florick (Julianna Margulies) and company, but her episode is supposed to air sometime in December. The Good Wife airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. -TVLine Comedian Jim Gaffigan has a pretty narrow range of subject matter in his standup: his love of eating, and his aversion to doing anything other than eating. Somehow, this never, ever gets old, and Gaffigan is consistently one of the funniest contemporary comedians out there. Thus, NBC has wisely decided to give the man his own show. Gaffigan will write and star in a new single-camera sitcom. He'll will play a lazy middle-aged man, living in a cramped apartment with his hot-tempered wife and four children. The plight of the hapless manchild is hardly a groundbreaking plot for sitcoms, but the humor will come from the glory that is Jim Gaffigan. -Deadline 2 Broke Girls is bringing in Marsha Thomason, recognizable to fans of White Collar as Diana Barrigan and to fans of LOST as the acerbic Naomi Dorrit. Thomason will play somewhat of a rival to star Kat Dennings' Max. The two will butt heads when Thomason, playing a woman named Cashandra, vies for the heart of Johnny (Nick Zano), whose recurring arc on 2 Broke Girls began earlier this month. As Johnny serves as a romantic interest to Max, Cashandra's pursuit of him will naturally cause a hefty sum of problems. 2 Broke Girls airs Monday nights at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. -TVLine
  • 'Big Bang Theory' Star Kaley Cuoco Will Host the 2012 People's Choice Awards
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 27, 2011
    Of all the People's Choice Awards hosts since 2007, this year's is, by far, the least Queen Latifah-y. For the first time in five years, Latifah will grant the hosting duties to another: Kaley Cuoco, star of The Big Bang Theory. Thanks to her hit sitcom, Cuoco's exposure has been none too slim in recent years. However, branching out into other things—be they acting or hosting—is definitely a good move if she wants to apply some versatility to her name. This summer, Cuoco hosted Fox's Teen Choice Awards. This quick expansion from Teen to People's is an impressive maneuver in the Choice Awards world. Perhaps Cuoco's hosting abilities overshine even her acting talents? Maybe soon, she'll move onto the Golden Globes? The Emmys? The Oscars? Does Billy Crystal finally have a worthy successor? The 38th Annual People's Choice Awards will air live on January 11, 2012 on CBS. Source: THR
  • Reese Witherspoon and Jason Segel Make 'Sex Tape'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 27, 2011
    Ah, the power of headlines. Sex Tape is a comedy film (about a sex tape, so...keep reading) written by Kate Angelo (writer of The Back-up Plan and a whole bunch of sitcom episodes between the years 2000 and 2007). The premise of the film centers around a bored married couple who, in the interests of spicing things up, decide to make a sex tape. It's kind of like Date Night, or Mr. & Mrs. Smith, or Revolutionary Road. But with a sex tape. So...keep reading? The stars being approached to play the married couple in question are Reese Witherspoon and Jason Segel. After the amateur film project is completed, the two misplace it, and then desparately go on a quest to retrieve the incriminating piece of home video. Witherspoon has been involved in her share of well-received comedies, and Segel is a guru of watchability. So if the film does grab this pair for the starring duo, it'll be smooth sailing casting-wise. The premise is one that'll bring in a certain crowd and deter another specific crowd. And then there's the crowd in between—the, for lack of a better word, normal crowd—who have a pretty fair chance of checking out the movie. Even if it's just based on wanting to see Jason Segel get exacerbated. Nick Stoller is being reached to direct. He wrote Fun with Dick and Jane, which would also fit quite snugly in the list of bored married couple movies above. Stoller also wrote the upcoming The Muppets movie, starring Segel. Source: Deadline
  • Kristen Wiig Joins Star Robert De Niro in the Sean Penn Directed 'The Comedian'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 27, 2011
    There's an interesting project on the horizons that will team Sean Penn and Robert De Niro with Kristen Wiig, in what I expect to be America's "Who saw that coming?" moment in terms of the actress' dramatic abilities. As we heard back in June, Penn is directing The Comedian, a tale about an aging, acerbic standup comic named Jackie Burke (played by De Niro), who is clinging desperately to any remnants of his once prominent fame. After a violent incident at a nightclub, Burke is sentenced to community service, where he meets his femme fatale/Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Harmony, played by Wiig. Bridesmaids made everybody realize what a comic sensation Wiig is. Maybe it will be Penn's The Comedian that publicizes awareness of her dramatic talents as well. Plus, getting back into thick, gritty character pieces is just what De Niro needs to turn his career back around. And Penn...well, he's doing fine. But this will probably be a pleasant experience for him as well. Penn has not directed a feature since 2007's Into the Wild. As a director, he is known for his large gaps between projects, possibly due to a careful deliberation regarding which films to work on. The Comedian seems like something Penn's artistic, erratic sensibilities will suit well. The same applies to the central role in terms of De Niro. And as for Wiig? Well, we may not have seen her do hard drama just yet. But mark my words: once you get a glimpse of what she is capable of, you'll be wiiggin' out. Source: Deadline
  • Final 'Muppets' Trailer Parodies 'Paranormal Activity', 'Puss in Boots' & 'Twilight: Breaking Dawn'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 27, 2011
    So far, the people behind the marketing plan for the new The Muppets movie have taken to releasing a romantic comedy trailer parody, a Green Lantern trailer parody, a The Hangover Part II trailer parody, and a The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trailer parody. And now, in a twist of meta-dom that will make your head explode, there is one final trailer parody: a The Muppets trailer parody. It might be a scary thought that the world of post-post-post-post-modernity has overtaken us so ferociously...but at least it's all happening via Muppets. After all, if we're going to succumb to self-referential madness, it might as well be Henson-fueled. Also in the below trailer, we get a few snippets of what other trailer parodies the marketing team had in store. Victims of this Muppetational wrath include Paranormal Activity 3, Puss in Boots, and Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part 1...none of which seem to impress the executive played by Rashida Jones. Enjoy this final taste of Muppetdom. And for some actual trailers for the upcoming The Muppets movie, starring Jason Segel and Amy Adams among the fuzzy favorites, click here and here. Source: Indiewire
  • PBS' Steve Jobs Documentary 'One Last Thing' Likely to Incite Controversy
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 27, 2011
    Since Steve Jobs' passing, the media has, naturally, treated the man's memory with a great deal of respect and affability. Nary a negative word has been spoken of Jobs in the past few weeks, as everyone prefers to focus on his triumphs and unparalleled contributions, rather than the flaws he must have had -- being a person, and all. Well, a new documentary called Steve Jobs -- One Last Thing is set to air on PBS next week, and intends to take a more candid view of the man. The documentary intends by no means to disgrace or devalue Jobs, but rather to show his difficult, controlling businessman side that was necessary to accomplish all he did. The title of the documentary comes from Jobs' catchphrase "Oh, one more thing," something he would say after long presentations to public audiences right before revealing his latest project, a.k.a. the real attraction. Individuals featured on the documentary include Steve Wozniak, Ronald Wayne, Dean Hovey and Bill Fernandez (all from Apple), as well as politican Ross Perot (an early investor in Jobs' NeXT Computer), Prof. Robert Palladino (who inspired some of the designs behind the Mac), and of The Black Eyed Peas, whose "I Got a Feeling" holds the record for most downloaded song on iTunes to date. Steve Jobs - One Last Thing will air on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on PBS. Source: AOLTV
  • Interview: Ken Marino On His 'Whitney' Guest Spot and the Talented Chris D'Elia
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 27, 2011
    This week, NBC’s newest comedy, Whitney, welcomes a face familiar to fans of comedy: Ken Marino. The funny man will stick around for a few episodes. We recently has the chance to speak with Marino about his stint on Whitney Cummings’ sitcom, as well as about some potential other projects in the works (including his kitchen-under-repair, about which Marino spoke at hilarious length). Known best for his roles on the short-lived but much adored Party Down and the laugh-out-loud funny Childrens Hospital, Marino joins the cast of Whitney to pepper in a little bit of his trademark “Ken Marino voice,” (which the actor insists does not exist). However, one of the things Marino discussed most passionately was the talent of Whitney’s breakout star, Chris D’Elia. On Whitney, Marino will play older brother to D’Elia, who plays Whitney’s long-term live-in boyfriend, Alex. Marino described his character, Brian, as a furniture salesman who is “kind of jealous of [Alex] because he’s smart and artistic and creative,” and, as a result, will get “a little passive-aggressive, if not aggressive, with him.” He further went on about his character and how he decided to play him, and joked a bit about his weight-gain the week he was working on Whitney: “I just played Brian like me, like a version of me. The probably the more annoying version of me… the first thing I found out about the character of Brian is that his waist is 35 to 36 inches, and my waist is 34, and I'll stand by that. I don't know how they did it in the wardrobe department, but somehow they made my waist bigger the week I was hired.” Marino expressed a great appreciation for his opportunity to appear on the show alongside actors like Cummings, D’Elia, and the rest of the cast: I took [this role] because I like Whitney and I'm friends with her and I enjoy the show. I enjoy the people who work on the show and I like the character. I enjoyed pretty much all of it. I mean, I think the actors on the show are a lot of fun, you know, getting to know them a little bit. I didn't really know any of them other than Whitney…They're just really good, funny people. And then the people running the show are very passionate about it and so it's fun watching, you know, a group of people creating a show that are really into it and passionate about it. That's nice to see, because sometimes you work on a show where, you know, everybody's just kind of walking through the motions. But there was an electricity on that set which is always exciting to be around. And then they gave me a fun part, you know, to play Chris's older brother. Chris is hysterical...we went to YouTube and started watching his standup. And man, that guy is funny. Marino was so impressed by D’Elia’s talent that he is even considering writing a project for D'Elia, although the details on this are still quite under-wraps. Marino did say, “I'm writing some movies with Dave Wain, so…I was thinking about something for Chris actually the other day that I wanted to write by myself that he would be great in…It's a standup a comedian as the main character.” Marino also spoke about the differences between working on single-camera shows, like Party Down and Childrens Hospital, and working on shows taped in front of studio audiences, like Whitney. Regarding the latter, Marino said, “It is a whole different kind of vibe and when you get in there and you're in front of an audience, you tend to want to play up to the audience so you get laughs…I've done four-camera in the past and I really enjoyed, I like hearing the reaction from people that immediate reaction. And so it's fun.” The actor closed out by discussing the pressures of being a newcomer to an established set, and explained the importance of overcoming your insecurities for the sake of your work. “I think anytime you walk onto a set where you don't know anybody, you want to impress them. But I try to let that go -- I try to get rid of that feeling very quickly because that's not the thing to be focusing on, for me, because it gets in the way of just kind of being creative and trying to serve the story and serve the scene and serve the character.” Clearly, Marino is taking his own advice, because in everything he has done—roles in film and television, surrounded by his established The State group and by other company—he's delivered gold. Whitney airs Thursday nights at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.