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.
  • The Three Musketeers and Other Classic Re-envisioned Classics
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 20, 2011
    Write down the date: Friday, October 21—it’s one you won’t want to forget. For, this date will mark the first time that the age-old adventure story of The Three Musketeers will be made into a film!... this year. Truth be told, the movie has been made countless of times, in countless different ways. There have been the straight-forward adventure tales, the family friendly animated versions, and, of course, the comedic re-imaginings. Every generation, every group of people gets their own version of their stories. They're classics for a reason. And while few other literary achievements reach the degree of The Three Musketeers retell-itude, there are plenty of timeless stories that have also been remade in each of these (and other) film genres. Here are a few of the more notable, diverse iterations: Robin Hood The Straightforward: There have been a handful of big screen attempts to capture the original spirit of the Redwood Forestian who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor. Two of the more recent examples would be the 2010 Russell Crowe-starrer Robin Hood and the 1991 just-hearing-the-title-gets-Bryan-Adams-stuck-in-my-head film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner.  The Animated: One of my favorite childhood movies was the 1973 Disney cartoon Robin Hood, which gave the hero the form of a fox, his pal Little John the form of a Baloo-esque bear, and the tyrannical Prince John the form of a lion—all narrated by a merry troubadour rooster. The Comical: Mel Brooks brands the Robin Hood story with his special flavor of silliness in the 1993 comedy, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, starring Cary Elwes as the titular hero and Dave Chapelle as his journeying partner, Ahchoo. This also marks the first Robin Hood adventure to feature prominently (or at all) a rabbi. Peter Pan The Straightforward: Faithful Peter Pan film incarnations have spanned many a decade. The movies date back to 1960, with the somewhat frivolous, but fondly remembered filmed stage production starring Mary Martin. More recently, another family-oriented version of the movie came out, starring Jeremy Sumpter in one of his earlier big screen roles. The Animated: This is one of those occasions where the animated movie might be held in even higher regard than any of the live-action adaptations. In 1953, Disney released its take on Peter Pan, which featured Captain Hook as the second greatest Disney villain to date (I'm a Scar man). The Comical: In the case of Peter Pan, the story itself is pretty innately comical. So the "comedy" version of this story might actually not even be the most comical. In fact, there's an awful lot of sincerity in it. But Robin Williams' stardom in the 1991 movie Hook keeps it remembered as a fun and funny new take on the story. And let us not forget this. Sherlock Holmes The Straightforward: Naturally, the first ones we think of here are the 2009 Robert Downey, Jr., starrer and its upcoming sequel, A Game of Shadows. However, no one is more famous for playing the unstoppable detective than South African actor Basil Rathbone, who played the character in fourteen different films. A close second: Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC's recent Sherlock series. The Animated: Although this isn't a direct adaptation, the similarities are pretty much all-encompassing. Except, of course, for the characters' species. Disney's 1986 animated movie The Great Mouse Detective planted Holmes and Watson into the bodies of mice, battling the dastardly Professor Ratigan. The Comical: It's not quite out yet, but it's in the works. Judd Apatow is planning a Sherlock Holmes comedy starring Sacha Baron Cohen as the main character. I expect a lot of liberties will be taken. Gulliver's Travels The Straightforward: In this case, one of the most faithful recent adaptations of the work was actually a television miniseries. In 1996, Ted Danson and Mary Steenberger starred together (isn't that sweet?) in a Gulliver's Travels two-part TV special, playing Lemuel and Mary Gulliver. The Animated: The first film adaptation of Gulliver's Travels, back in 1939, was actually its only completely animated feature film. The Comical: Ah, last year's Jack Black comedy version of the Jonathan Swift story. 2010's Gulliver's Travels may have been well cast, but it probably won't go down in history as one of the great literary adaptations. King Arthur The Straightforward: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley brought the legendary king back to the big screen in 2004, in the particularly gritty and "demystified" (as it is often billed) King Arthur. It may not capture the whimsical mood of the original King Arthur stories of indomitable swords and magical kingdoms, but it is a raw, human take on a timeless tale. The Animated: The Sword in the Stone is more along the lines of the old fables. Disney produced this animated feature in 1963, telling a tale of the young orphan Arthur who rose to his fate as the rightful king of England.   The Comical: Does it really need to be said? One of the silliest, strangest, and most beloved comedy films of all time: Monty Python and the Holy Grail could not exist if it weren't for the legends of King Arthur and Camelot. Of course, I don't know how many vicious bunnies were in the original tale... Don Quixote of La Mancha The Straightforward: Don Quixote really found his footing on television, rather than in film. In 2000, a Don Quixote TV movie was produced, starring the great John Lithgow as the delusional adventurer, and Bob Hoskins as his sidekick, Sancho Panza. The film and its two amazing leads captured the spirit of the character as created by Miguel de Cervantes. Slightly less simplistic is the 1972 musical adaptation Man of La Mancha, which features legendary actor Peter O'Toole with an enormous, prosthetic forehead (in which he dreams impossible dreams). The Animated: In the early 1990s, Hanna Barbera produced the cartoon The Adventures of Don Coyote and Sancho Panda, starring the story's hero and his timid partner as animal incarnations (who, despite being talking animals, still rode subservient, non-sentient horses...does anyone find that weird?).    The Unfinished: There's some strange mojo attached to this story, in that two film incarnations were attempted, and by prominent directors, but never finished. The first was filmed by Orson Welles between 1957 and 1969, but was never completed. The second, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, was attempted by Terry Gilliam after the turn of the millenium. However, rumor has it that Gilliam reopened the project sometime in 2009...
  • 'Assassin's Creed' Video Game Being Developed as a Movie
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 20, 2011
    Games seem to be fertile ground for movie ideas these days. With many of the classic board games that are being developed currently, Battleship for instance, the subject matter is too simplistic to form an actual story, so producers use the setting of the game as a backdrop for a relevant action/adventure/romance. In the cases of video games, however, there is often far more to derive from than a basic theme. Especially if it's one of those really good games that you'd come home late from a night out with friends and catch your college roommate (or, in my case, my college roommate's college roommate) playing rigorously. One of those games is next in line for film development: Assassin's Creed. Apparently, Sony is interested in developing the science-fiction adventure game series as a feature film. The story follows Desmond Miles (sort of a Christian Bale/Sam Worthington hybrid), a bartender and descendant of a great race of assassins. After being kidnapped by an evil corporation and rescued by a team of his own, Desmond accepts his fate as the only one capable of preventing the imminent foretold apocalypse of 2012. Talks of an Assassin's Creed movie are still in the earliest stages, so nothing in the vein of casting or crew will likely be assigned for some time. However, I wouldn't mind seeing Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul take the lead in this project. Then again, I would be fine with seeing him play just about anyone. That Jimi Hendrix biopic needs casting, doesn't it? Source: Variety
  • President Obama to Appear on 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno' Next Week
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 20, 2011
    I really would have pegged President Barack Obama for a Team Coco guy, but his upcoming fourth appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno would indicate otherwise. Next week, Obama will head to the West Coast in order to speak on behalf of his jobs bill and to fund his re-election campaign. While there, he will pay a visit to the Tonight Show set, making this the fourth time he has been a guest on Jay's show, and a second time since he was elected president. Leno is known for being a pretty affable host, so it's likely we won't be seeing any jaw-clenching political debates. The president's guest spot on The Tonight Show will air Tuesday night, Oct. 25 at 11:35 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. Barack Obama is the only active president to make an appearance on The Tonight Show. He has also, during his term, been a guest on talk shows including The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Oprah and The View.  Source: EW
  • Julianne Hough Was 'Granola Hot' for 'Footloose': Late Last Night
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 20, 2011
    Last night, Julianne Hough appeared on Conan to explain the definition of "granola hot," the adventure that is spray tanning, Ryan Seacrest's very strange diet, and to bring out the creepy side of Conan, Andy and guest Tom Selleck. Also on Conan, a Tom Selleck like we've never seen before stopped by to complain about how much he hates Magnum P.I. posters, to revel over the glory of the website Selleck Waterfall Sandwich (it's exactly what it sounds like), and to perform the "vaguely sexual" act of grafting an avocado plant on the set. Finally, Rev. Al Sharpton visited The Daily Show to discuss the Occupy Wall Street protests. They touched upon theatrics versus sincerity (and finding the right balance when you're fighting for a cause) and how the OWS has changed what the nation is talking about.  The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,The Daily Show on Facebook
  • 'Modern Family' Recap: Go Bullfrogs!
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 19, 2011
    S3E6: Well, they can't all be winners. Modern Family seems to be gradually taking our senses of humor for granted. The idea of the show is to become so familiar with and enamored by the characters, that we laugh at the things they say and do because we appreciate and find humor in who they are. But this appreciation can slip anytime: it doesn't mean the writers can feed Cam and Gloria half-hearted material and expect us to find anything they say funny just because they're Cam and Gloria. As a matter of fact, Cam and Gloria are consistently my least favorite characters each episode, and this week is a good example of why. Modern Family, with these two especially, has been sacrificing character and growth in favor of wacky lines said by wacky people. Whereas both characters used to fall somewhere between eccentric and down-to-earth, they are quickly becoming characters, grabbing for laughs with outlandish stories about their upbringings, and, in Cam's case, sexual identity (which the show used to celebrate with humor, as opposed to mine for cheap laughs). But with Cam and Gloria, I don't really expect to be entertained anymore, so it's never a letdown. The real disappointment this week comes from the show's hero, Phil. "You're not a clown. You're an excellent backup shortstop." - Phil Now, don't get me wrong. Phil is still funny this week; he's just not up to par. The worst part about this, however, is how excited I was at the prospect of his storyline: this week, Phil takes Haley to tour his old alma mater. There. Genius. Firstly, Phil trying to relive his glory days of yore should be a goldmine of comedy (to imagine that there were other days that Phil attacked with more glory than his present ones is psychologically daunting). Plus, Phil's relationships with his children are generally very sweet and touching, and I was eager to see that between him and Haley explored more. There are a handful of laughs. Phil's repetitive implications of an active romantic life in college to his teenage daughter are funny, and not at all creepy due to the fact that the character relaying them is the most innocent man on the planet. The doom in his face when he realizes that Haley is at a Pi Chi party is priceless (as is his clumsy attempt to locate the house). But where the story really fell flat was in its more tender moment. Usually, this show pulls off sentimentality without a hitch. But something about Haley's and Phil's making up scene seemed a little forced and unnatural. Haley does have a soft spot for her dad, but she is also capable of some serious brattiness. It would have been nicer if the moment between father and daughter felt more earned, and less super-saccharine. "When did hats come back?" - Mitchell Claire's path intersects with Mitchell's and Cam's for a bit, here, but the two eventually split into equally unfunny scenarios. With all three of her children and her husband out of the house, Claire heads out for a night on the town with her brother, whom she must not know very well, because she expects him to take her to some lively party (when Mitchell is more of a spends-his-nights-with-a-book type). She convinces him and Cam to take her to an art gallery party that she assumes to be "gay only," and when the two males decide to head home at the late hour of 9:30, Claire decides to keep the night going with a friendly physical trainer, whom she also assumes (wrongly) to be gay. The rest of her night is spent cloaked in dramatic irony, the jokes arising from her gregarious nature with the man only we know to be straight--and attracted to her. She ends up drunk on the lawn of her son's friend's house, embarrassed in front of a group of Luke's friends' mothers (at least one of whom she went to high school with), when she realizes that her company is straight and her dress is inappropriately short. Meanwhile, Mitch and Cam whine about how lame they are and accidentally "steal" a car (the valet gave them the wrong one). After going over how much more exciting the lives of the owners of their borrowed automobile are, they wind up getting attacked by one of those very same automobile owners, armed with some kind of blunt object. I wasn't really sure what the point of that storyline was...maybe, interesting people are also crazy? Never trust a valet? Avoid Jay Z fans? "I'm just saying, the guy's a judge. He could put on a shirt." - Jay Finally, Gloria is worried about how secretive Manny is being. Jay tries to ease her mind by turning on a Colombian soap opera (to which he quickly becomes addicted...it's been done before, Modern Family, you're better than that). Gloria gets worked up over many different theories of what Manny could be doing alone in his room, but is relieved, although saddened, to find out that he purchased a weighted helmet/hang-yourself-upside-down-bar (what else am I supposed to call it?) in order to get taller, because he feels self-conscious about his height. Jay promises him that the two will begin working out together in order to make Manny feel better, before accidentally ripping the hang-yourself-upside-down-bar out of the wall. Like I said, I've come to expect little from Gloria-centric storylines, although even Manny is losing me lately. But the real loss of this episode can be simply explained. Modern Family's good episodes and bad always have one thing going for them. One unstoppable force that, no matter how poorly written an episode is can always bring it home with at least one laugh-out-loud moment: Luke. Luke has only a few seconds of screentime in this episode, and his absence is palpable. Let this be a lesson, Modern Family. Child labor laws be damned: Luke's portrayer Nolan Gould is the most necessary component of your show.
  • New 'Red Tails' Trailer Makes Your Expectations Soar
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 19, 2011
    This past weekend, Hollywood.com sat in on an exciting New York Comic Con panel for the upcoming Lucasfilms movie Red Tails. Since then, we've been more than a little excited for the historical adventure film, which is about the first black soldiers to fly for the American army: the Tuskegee Airmen. Anthony Hemingway directs this World War II epic, which he embraced as both an important tale about a groundbreaking group of heroes, and as an adventure movie that should be fun and exciting. Both of these values are present in the new trailer, which depicts all the fast flying, bench marking and Hitler hating one could ask for. The film's sparkling cast includes Cuba Gooding, Jr., Michael B. Jordan, Terrence Howard, Nate Parker, Method Man and Bryan Cranston. Red Tails reaches theaters on Jan. 20. Red Tails Trailer Get More: Red Tails Trailer Source: Spike
  • ABC Nabs Shawn Levy's Mandy Moore-Starrer 'Us and Them'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 19, 2011
    It's enjoyable when Mandy Moore pops back into the public eye every once in a while, mostly because she actually seems like a pretty nice person. Moore's latest venture into the spotlight will give the singer/actress her first regular role on a (potential) television series. ABC has ordered a pilot for Us and Them, a single-camera sitcom about a newly married couple (Moore and a yet uncast gentleman) at odds with their troublesome families. Mandy Moore isn't the only recognizable name attached to this project. Writing the pilot is Bob Fischer, who cowrote Wedding Crashers—pretty optimistic—and directing will be Shawn Levy, who recently added Real Steel to a resume that already included the Night at the Museum movies and Date Night. So, with a pop singer with a history of some memorable walks, a screenwriter responsible for a quick-witted, sex-centric modern classic, and a director with rapidly increasing prominence behind this project, it's fair to assume that ABC won't be stopping with the pilot. Source: AOLTV
  • 'Gossip Girl's' Josh Schwartz to Remake Cult British Drama 'Misfits'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 19, 2011
    You'd think a British series about a group of young adult ne'er-do-wells getting struck by lightning during their mandatory community service and as a result developing superhuman abilities would peak at "watchable." But you'd be wrong: it's super good. Good enough to warrant jokes like that. Good enough to rake in substantial ratings on Hulu. And good enough, still, to inspire writer/producer Josh Schwartz to remake it for American audiences. The series in question is called Misfits. So far, it has aired for two short seasons in the United Kingdom, and will begin its third on Oct. 30. The U.S. got a taste for it through Hulu, where the series proved to be a huge hit. And now, it is being remade for American TV by Schwartz: creator of The O.C. and executive producer on Chuck and Gossip Girl. Fans of the original will be pleased to know that Schwartz is teaming up with Misfits creator Howard Overman to write the pilot script. Misfits has been praised for both its clever wit and its sincerity in the portrayal of the "gritty" side of young adulthood, as well as for its intriguing and approachable science-fiction themes. Source: Vulture
  • New 'My Week with Marilyn' Photos Explain How to Spend a Week with Michelle Williams
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 19, 2011
    The upcoming biopic My Week with Marilyn, which we caught at the Hamptons Film Festival, stars Michelle Williams as the titular tortured icon and Eddie Redmayne as her lovestruck, manipulated company. The movie promises to show us an interesting, unique perspective on the woman so many generations have celebrated as one of Hollywood's most unforgettable heroines. These new images (courtesy of My Week with Marilyn's Facebook page) offer a first-time look at Julia Ormond in character as Vivien Leigh, but more than that, they show us the only true way to spend a week with Marilyn. If you're looking for inspiration on how to pass the time during your own half-fortnight with Norma Jean, look no further: all the ideas you need are right here...     What To Do During Your Week with Marilyn Gaze off absently while she clutches fearfully at your hands. Speedwalk through the halls of a vacant middle school. Position yourself awkwardly in front of her in what appears to be an automobile while she breaks the fourth wall. Argue with her outside of a car while two other guys wait patiently for you both to get back in. Pose for an uncomfortable family portrait. Mourn something together. Take a plane ride, flown by two sleepy pilots. Show her your favorite necklace, despite how disinterested she is. All right, maybe she needs some alone time now. She really needs some alone time. Okay, now her alone time is just getting creepy. Aaand...cut. My Week with Marilyn opens Thanksgiving weekend. Source: My Week With Marilyn on Facebook via Indiewire
  • MTV Wants the Occupy Wall Street Protestors for the 'Real World' Cast
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 19, 2011
    There is a pretty uncompromising divide between those who support the Occupy Wall Street protests and those who oppose them. Those who claim that the protests are ineffective however seem to be overlooking the fact that, at the very least, they're getting just about everyone talking about the issue. It has evolved into a larger, more visible controversy not limited to the borders of New York's Zuccotti Park. And what does television do when it spots an ever-growing controversy? Mine it for ratings: MTV has opened a casting call for Occupy Wall Street protesters for the next incarnation of The Real World. MTV created a Craigslist ad on Monday, asking for OWS protesters "over the age of 20 and appear to be between the ages of 20-24" who are looking "to tell their unique stories on [The Real World]." As with the protest itself, there are two ways to look at MTV's move. On the one hand, you might call it a trivialization of many people's efforts toward what they believe to be a genuine cause. Less cynically, it is a step towards getting the word out even further. So, it's up to the OWS protesters who happen to get wind of this casting call to decide where they stand on that issue. Of course, The Real World isn't the only place OWS protesters can get some screen time. Just yesterday, it was announced that The Dark Knight Rises plans to film scenes set around the Zuccotti Park protests. MTV's upcoming 27th season of The Real World is expected to announce its location sometime next month. Source: LA Times