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.
  • Alec Baldwin Speaks Out About His Imminent '30 Rock' Departure
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 13, 2011
    When Jack Donaghy kicked in the door of his new office in the very first episode of 30 Rock, proudly proclaiming that his predecessor was dead and that he was now in charge of NBC and, by extension, Liz Lemon's life, we knew that the show had just begun. For five years, the hypercapitalist superhuman that is Jack Donaghy has been one of the best parts of the often spectacular sitcom 30 Rock, courtesy of the excellence that is Alec Baldwin. Since we met him, we've seen Jack warm up to Liz (Tina Fey), open his heart to love enough to take a wife (Elizabeth Banks) and father an infant child (unknown baby actress). But as we've heard time and again, Jack's time on 30 Rock coming to an end. Badlwin spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the imminent change, admitting that he's considering leaving 30 Rock after this season. Said Baldwin, "I wouldn’t want to prevent them from having another year, because they’re all my friends and they’ve been good to me. Maybe I would do a piece of the year. But I really do want to move on to other things." Baldwin's interests for the future are diverse. He wishes to pursue a larger sum of movies; he's starting a public radio interview show beginning Oct. 24; and, most interestingly, he's considering running for political office. But before he makes the shift to politics, he needs to put the comedic side of his life behind him. Baldwin stated, "The jokes have to stop, everything has to be on the record,” explaining that there's a "difference between going to Jon Stewart and Jim Lehrer." Despite his interest in moving on from the series that revived his fame, Baldwin did express a great deal of gratitude for the show and for his lifestyle in general. Personally, I wouldn't want to see a 30 Rock without Jack Donaghy. Perhaps this is a hint that Liz Lemon needs to either finally "have it all," or become content with only "having it somewhat." Source: EW
  • TV Checkup: How is 'Up All Night' Holding Up?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 13, 2011
    I'll be honest: I was deterred by Up All Night's premise. We've seen young couples adjusting to parental life before, and it's the sort of thing that can sometimes pass for "cute" and "sweet." Maybe it's the sort of thing that new parents can watch and relate to, but rarely the sort of thing that is fuel for genuine laughter. And although it's got Lorne Michaels behind it, and Will Arnett center stage, I didn't get my hopes up. But Up All Night has proven that I've become way too cynical. NBC recently picked up the comedy starring Arnett and Christina Applegate for a full season order, and it is officially my favorite new show of the fall season. The series actually did itself a disservice with all the baby-centric promos. I imagine it was trying to rope in an audience of young parents with its relatable subject matter. But in doing so, the series painted itself as the kind of show where most of the humor is derived from the new baby spitting up on her parents -- don't say that's not something shows have relied on in the past. Instead, Up All Night has remarkably quick-witted dialogue from each of its three principal players (the third being Maya Rudolph, who plays Applegate's boss and best friend), and problems not limited in interest to those in the same walk of life as main characters Chris and Reagan. In fact, if one had to pinpoint what the show is really about, it's not dealing with the literal stresses of parenthood. It's a desperate fear of aging—and that is something that many of us can understand to some degree. Chris and Reagan are illustrated as two former partiers who took pride in their adventurous lifestyle; although they are not entirely capable of accepting this, their lives have changed. Reagan is a workaholic producer of a talk show, and Chris is a stay-at-home dad. And although both are incredibly devoted to one another and to their daughter Amy, they consistently show signs of nostalgia for their wilder days. It is this balance of their good intentions (and general success as parents) and inherent flaws that make the show terrific. “Perfect families” are more or less a thing of television past. “Corrupt” characters work well in many instances, but would be hard to watch and root for if a baby was involved. The creators of Up All Night found a great balance in Chris and Reagan, who are a little bit selfish and immature at times, but who are generally good people and good parents. And, in case they are too grounded for you, there is Rudolph’s Ava, who is the show’s lovable basketcase. Through her insecurities and her constant need to be loved, she makes Reagan’s life worlds more difficult than it has to be. Despite their yearning for youth, Chris and Reagan are also comically obsessed with being seen as good parents. Last night’s episode showcased all of the show’s main themes, and very humorously so. Chris strives desperately to be the “best parent” at a baby playgroup led by the insufferable, but sort of ingenious, Mr. Bob (Michael Hitchcock). Reagan resents her inability to stay out late with Ava for a Bangles cover band concert, just like old times. And Ava becomes bitter and irrational as a result of Reagan’s newfound maturity. The plotlines are not ones we’ve never seen before—they’re simple and familiar. But the talent on this show is the biggest sell. Anyone who has seen Arnett in anything knows he can steal a scene from the best of them. He softens up his ‘slimy jerk’ archetype just enough to be likeable as a dad, but still maintains some remnants of the flawed jackass he plays so well. Applegate is moreover the straight woman, but that doesn’t mean her deadpan reactions to the madness around her aren’t great for laughs. And Rudolph plays crazy like a legend. To sum up, the show has the rapid fire wit of 30 Rock with the authentic characters of earlier 30 Rock. Don’t let the “new parents” theme deter you—Up All Night's premise is a bonus for new parents, yes, but as a whole it’s so much more than that. It’s about growing up: balancing youth and maturity, work and family, yourself and those around you. It’s a sophisticated show, but is not above silly humor. All in all, it’s a big win.
  • What Do You Think About Jack Nicholson in the Jackie Robinson Biopic '42'?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 13, 2011
    If Jack Nicholson was in a Jackie Robinson movie, would you see it? Well, figure the components. Jack Nicholson is one of the most celebrated actors of our time. And Jackie Robinson is a beloved figure of the civil rights movement. So, mathematically, the fact that Nicholson is being cast in 42, a biopic of the sports legend, should be great news. But how well do these two things go together? History has proven that just because two things are great, it doesn't mean the product of those two things will be great. For instance: Will Ferrell and basketball. Mitch Hurwitz and cartoons. Batman and Robin. So will "Jack Nicholson and Jackie Robinson" be an addition to this string of disappointments? Of course, this is mere speculation. We have no reason to believe that the film won't be an absolute hit. In fact, we'll make a run for theaters as soon as it comes out. Sure, the film may have an error or two, but it should be a ball to watch. Nicholson has excelled in his field (he can really steal a scene or two), so we're confident that he can really drive this film home. It should be inte-great. No word on who Nicholson will play, although considering his age, suspicions surround the character of Branch Rickley, Brooklyn Dodgers executive. Source: Vulture
  • New 'American Reunion' Red Band Teaser Shows Jim Up to His Old Habits
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 13, 2011
    As you can see from the new red band American Reunion teaser, the characters haven't grown up that much. This NSFW clip gives us our first look at the upcoming film with reunites us with the group of Michiganians that defined "teen comedy" for our generation. Below, we get a quick glimpse at the married life of Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), now parents and nearing their thirties, but still, at the core, the same people we got to know twelve years back. What with the collection of American Reunion pictures we posted yesterday, it seems like we have no choice but to get excited about this new movie. Will it live up to its predecessors? Will it bring something entirely new to the table? Will it redefine the genre its original incarnation redefined? Hard to say. But the below teaser, reminiscent of the very first scene that started off the American Pie series, seems to promise something very relatable: the war between one's instincts to grow up and one's urge to remain the youthful, magic-in-the-eyes eighteen year old who wasn't above fornicating with a baked dessert. Maybe I'm reading too much into it; it could just be another funny, sex-charged comedy. But I'm willing to bet otherwise. American Reunion reaches theaters on April 6, 2012. Click the image below the trailer to see more pictures from American Reunion.  <a href='http://movies.msn.com/movies/movie-trailers/#/video/099bb2c4-ef9b-4f9e-9d7f-404f8e5d8b36?src=FLPl:embed::uuids' target='_new' title=''American Reunion' movie trailer (mature)' >Video: &#39American Reunion&#39 movie trailer (mature)</a> Source: Latino Review
  • Bill Clinton Joins Letterman's Vendetta Against Leno: Late Last Night
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 13, 2011
    Last night, former President Bill Clinton appeared on The Late Show to explain that in general, Americans are a noble people who do not resent other people's success...however, there is one exception to this rule: Jay Leno. Zooey Deschanel stopped by The Tonight Show to talk about an interesting occurrence involving a hallucinating man and a lily pad pond in the audience of her band's show, and the fact that one of the Jersey Shore castmembers stole her dog's name. Rob Lowe visited Jimmy Kimmel Live! to give literally the greatest interview I've ever seen. He talks about visiting the White House and having staff members (even President Clinton) pitching him and Aaron Sorkin story ideas for The West Wing. Finally, Dexter star Michael C. Hall showed up on Conan to talk about his favorite kills, how the dark deeds of his character have started to give him nightmares, and how easy it is to stalk people, and his creepy seven-year-old "biggest fan."
  • 'Modern Family' Recap: Hit and Run
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 12, 2011
    S03E05: This week's Modern Family made me realize something that explains a great deal about the show’s success. And it’s funny that this should occur as a result of this episode, “Hit and Run,” because I would call it, arguably, one of the least funny episodes I’ve seen in a long time. Something about the dialogue this week seems clumsy, overcooked, and out of step. But once all the plots are set up (Claire is running for city council against David Cross; Phil dedicates himself to being a more hands-on dad; Jay is having trouble with a young client who demands flash and Gloria just wants him to accept her advice; and Mitchell thinks Cameron is too confrontational with strangers), and they merge into a climactic scene involving all of the adult males, things start to pick up on the funny, and, more importantly, it becomes extremely clear to me why I—and everyone else in America—enjoy this show so much: these people really work as both a family and a comedy team. “If you want to fly, I’m not going to hold your feet to the ground. I want to be the one to push you off the cliff.” – Phil If you recall last week, Claire’s whole stop-sign expedition didn’t really have much of a conclusion. Apparently, that’s because the writers were planning on picking it up again this week, only with a hike in the stakes: Claire decides to run for city council against the jerk who both denied her the necessary stop sign and had the audacity to put a negative connotation on puggles. This is good news for two reasons. The first is that I imagine Claire running for office has great potential to develop her character and to give Phil some hilarious “the world of politics” B-stories. Secondly, it means we’ll be seeing more of David Cross. Of course, after talking with Cross’ character about this, Claire becomes intimidated, and worries that she will lose. In the meantime, Phil promises Claire that while she is busy running for office, he will be there to take care of this kids, assuring her of his capability in this realm. Minutes after this promise, Phil gives Luke a black eye, drugs Alex, and overlooks the fact that Haley has lost $900 of her friends’ money trying to buy fake IDs from an untrustworthy character (the same guy who ‘ruined’ the group in last week’s Community—this actor must have “easily hateable” on his resume). “We just got rear ended! Are you okay?” – Mitchell “I think I cut the roof of my mouth on the straw!” – Cam “So, yes.” – Mitchell Despite its lack of ‘quotable humor’ (as explained above), this is probably my favorite Mitchell/Cam story in quite a while. For once, the two aren’t bickering because one is neat/one is sloppy, or one is high-maintenance/one is more laid back. Although their differences do emerge, it’s not in the same formulaic, “Well, we’ll see who wins this one!” way that we’ve been seeing far too much of. Two incidents early on in the episode show Cam reacting with hostility to strangers with whose behavior he takes issue (one is taking his children to an inappropriate movie, the other commits a hit and run). Both times, Mitchell seems exasperated with Cam. Now, fans of the show since its inception might find this a little odd: the very first Modern Family scene we see of the pair actually has Mitchell verbally attacking a group of strangers who he thinks made homophobic slurs about the two of them, with Cam being the embarrassed one. But, shows do change, and perhaps the creators have decided this kind of confrontational characteristic is better suited for who they want Cam to be. I can live with that, as long as they keep up the “Mitchell and Cam at odds with the world” stories as opposed to all these “Mitchell vs. Cam because one likes Leno and one likes Letterman” stories. “Police. Aren’t they too busy winning the war on drugs?” – Luke The Jay/Gloria/Manny story is also a big departure for this household’s archetype. For once, Jay isn’t so much fighting with either his wife or stepson as he is trying not to bother them with his business problems. Jay tries to sell closets (I guess he sells closets) to a young, trend-obsessed CEO played by the great Samm Levine. All Gloria wants is to help, but both Jay and Manny—who is writing a school paper on, of all things, the Mafia—deny her this privilege. The precious climactic scene is where everything comes to fruition. Once Haley admits that her $900 was stolen by a dishonest fake-ID peddler, Jay, Phil, Cam and a reluctant Mitchell all head out to the guy’s house to get her money back. And: greatness. It’s not so much the slapstick comedy of a terrified Mitchell tackling the runaway man and pulling his pants off. It’s not even a rarely heated Phil’s incredible fist names (England Dan and John Ford Coley). It’s the dynamic of the four men working together to help their family member. Four men who couldn’t fit together any less perfectly in a logical sense work together ideally as a family. Every beat in this scene is perfect, because the comedy and the fun derives from the closeness we feel to the family at this moment—and of course, this kind of scene would not have worked in Season 1. We earned this moment by sticking with the family and learning about the them over the past two years. We understand that every quirky action each man does is natural and in-character. These are the kinds of things that Modern Family does best: it allows us to invest in worthwhile characters who form a worthwhile family. And though it may not always be the most riotous show on the air, this scene makes it clear to me why Modern Family is so popular. It makes us feel like we’re surrounded by, or even a part of, this terrific family.
  • 'American Pie' Gang Comes Back in New 'American Reunion' Pics
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 12, 2011
    Look at 'em. Look at how far they have come. Jim married Michelle. Heather went blonde. Kevin grew a goatee. But some things will never change. We'll still have uncomfortable father-son moments in the Levenstein household. We'll always have a scowling Finch. Stifler's mom may never stop her prowl for "young love". And, of course, Jim will never find himself free of being caught in horribly compromising positions... American Reunion will bring back all of the characters from our cherished American Pie franchise. Pictured below are returners Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein (better have an explanation for missing the wedding!), Tara Reid, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Mena Suvari, Eugene Levy and Jennifer Coolidge. Among the conflicts faced in American Reunion will be difficulties in Jim's and Michelle's marriage, Stifler's mom's pursuit of a new young gentleman, and temptations between old flames Oz and Heather.  Source: USA Today
  • 'Die Hard 5' Is Now 'A Good Day to Die Hard' & Other Info Revealed
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 12, 2011
    We Died Hard. Then, we did it a 2nd time. The third time, we added a Vengance. By the fourth, we were Livin' Free. But was it ever a truly good day to Die Hard? Probably not. But this day—this fifth episode of the Die Hard franchise—most certainly is. It might not be the best day to Die Hard. Possibly not even a great one. But is it A Good Day to Die Hard? Why yes. It sure as shootin' is. At least that's what Fox Filmed Entertainment's co-chairman Tim Rothman said on The Jim Rome Show this morning. The title of the next adventure for Bruce Willis' badass-everycop-turned-high-flying-renegade-super-being was not the only thing Rothman revealed. He also let listeners know that A Good Day to Die Hard will begin shooting in January 2012 for a release just over a year later, on Valentine's Day 2013. He expanded on something we already heard about: this will be John McClane's most globe-trotting adventure yet. McClane will find himself in Moscow, attempting to free his ne'er-do-well son from Russian jail, when he is thrust into the position of preventing an apocalyptic threat instituted by a group of terrorists. You've come a long way from midtown, McClane. Pretty soon, you'll have done it all: New York, America, planet Earth, the galaxy...around the time of Die Hard 9: The Day the Music Died Hard, Bruce Willis will weep...for there will be no more worlds to conquer. Source: Slashfilm
  • Leonardo DiCaprio to Play Code-Cracking Genius Alan Turing in Biopic?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 12, 2011
    Alan Turing has many claims to fame: he developed a decoding machine, he inspired the name for Steve Jobs' supercompany, and, best of all, Leonardo DiCaprio wants to play him in a movie. Specifically, a movie called The Imitation Game, written by Graham Moore, which Warner Bros. snatched up in hopes of attracting the star to headline. Turing is one of those people about whom we really need a movie to be made. Why? Primarily, because it's very difficult to understand exactly what he did (at least for those of us with the scientific intellectualism of mere film and television writers). And when things are misunderstood, they are often either chastised or forgotten. Alan Turing was and is, unjustly, both. Granted, Turing's persecution in his lifetime was not for his scientific prowess. In fact, he proved indubitably valuable to his country, the United Kingdom, during World War II thanks to his efforts in the world of computer sciences, code-cracking and mathematics. It was his homosexuality (illegal in the UK in the 1950s) that incurred the wrath of the very government he had aided. In 1954, after undergoing involuntary chemical castration at the hands of the UK's government, Turing committed suicide via a cyanide-ridden apple that he created himself. Ron Howard is interested in directing this period film about a code-cracking genius who battles psychological demons around the time of World War II starring one of the stars of Body of Lies. Bit of a stretch for Howard, but we have faith he can pull it off. Source: Deadline
  • 'Boardwalk Empire' Picked Up for a Third Season
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 12, 2011
    Good news: we will all live to see 1922. HBO renewed Boardwalk Empire for a third season. No surprise there. The exciting, sophisticated period drama about political corruption in Prohibition Era Atlantic City is revered by fans and critics alike. Its outlandishly talented (and infinitely expanding) ensemble cast shoots out winning performances week by week, coming directly from its more renowned stars—including film actor Steve Buscemi, who plays the central character, the dishonest but (relatively) decent county treasurer Nucky Thompson—and from its lesser known cast members alike. The first season explored Nucky Thompson's seemingly boundless reign of control over Atlantic County through his many connections to crime syndicates, including those in Chicago and New York City. The second season, however, has seen Nucky fall from power as loyalties to him have become sparse. The impressively early season order (there have only been three episodes of Season 2 broadcast thus far) is becoming a trend for Boardwalk, and probably a much appreciated one. Last year, the series was picked up for a second season after just two episodes of Season 1. Boardwalk Empire airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO. Source: Vulture