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.
  • Red Band 'I Melt with You' Poster Inspires Much Curiosity
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 30, 2011 7:17am EST
    The red band trailer for I Melt with You defines the term "excess." In it, four men are seen doing inordinate amounts of drugs, partying without rest, betraying their wives and families, and embracing torrentially reckless behavior. More than this, the trailer itself does one thing to excess: it inspires curiosity. I Melt with You is the story of four middle-aged men whose friendship dates back to college. For one week every year, the men take breaks from their ordinary lives as family men, school teachers, professionals, et al, to spend time together in a beach house and completely abandon every attachment they have. The men are seen snorting huge sums of cocaine and speeding down a highway (an empty highway, but still), partying with much, much younger girls, and more of the like. But this is not a wild, madcap comedy. A dark turn takes the trailer when a collective note comprised by the boys twenty-five years earlier resurfaces, inciting a great deal of anguish in each of them. The trailer does not reveal the contents, or even much of the nature, of the note...but we know it's one of controversy. Some of the men seem interested in preserving the note's intention, while some others feel that whatever they had promised to their future selves no longer applies. It's enough to bring out a tumultuous change in mood for the trailer, and each of the men. The movie looks to really exemplify the pain of these men, whether it comes from a secret from their past, or their attachment to their unhappy lives. I Melt with You stars Rob Lowe, Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven and Christian McKay, and is directed by Mark Pellington. (Arlington Road). Source: Slashfilm
  • Melissa McCarthy Has a Major Freak-Out in a Furniture Store: Late Last Night
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 30, 2011 5:47am EST
    Last night, Bridesmaids' Melissa McCarthy visited Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to discuss the Emmys pageant bit she did with Amy Poelher, Tina Fey and the other Best Lead Actress in a Comedy nominees. She also recalled the time when she had an eventful conniption in the middle of a discount furniture store (with a very catchy slogan) after she found out she was going to host SNL. Chaz Bono appeared on The Tonight Show to talk about Dancing with the Stars (and his rigorous training for it), and how he deals with all the ignorant remarks about his appearance on the show is "influencing children toward sex-change operations." Also on The Tonight Show, Albert Brooks had a lot to say about how technology is changing society—it's turning people into hypochondriacs, co-dependents, and addicts. He also thankfully shared his theory on what would happen if you gave a shark and iPad. Finally, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live to talk about the emotional rollercoaster of taking acid (and wearing dresses) before attending the Oscars as nominees for their South Park movie.
  • 'Person of Interest' Recap: Ghost
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 29, 2011 7:20pm EST
    S01E02: There’s a lot of inherent potential in a show like Person of Interest: a high concept series about a renegade FBI agent and a mysterious figure with access to a machine that can predict crimes before they happen, with the healthy dose of a Big Brother is Watching overtone. Unfortunately, and surprisingly, the second episode of the series indicates that it might not be taking full advantage of what it has to work with. Perhaps everyone else saw this coming, but I genuinely did not expect for this show to take the form of a high-stakes/high-action detective procedural. The pilot seemed to suggest that Person of Interest would be more of an overarching narrative first and foremost that involved independent cases along the way—perhaps cases that were in some way connected to the theme of the government’s watchful eye, to terrorism, to September 11, to either of the two main characters or their backstories…but I suppose that would conflict with the point, a little. The point that the show is trying to convey is that nobody’s life is “irrelevant.” The machine was built initially to predict and prevent crimes against national security, but was unable to differentiate such crimes from other types of crimes—murders of individual civilians. These crimes (and individuals) were deemed “irrelevant" until Mr. Finch (Michael Emerson) grew a conscience—an occurrence that is subtly linked to a major loss he experienced, possibly that of the colleague we meet in a flashback in this episode. Taking this into consideration, it would be ignoring the spirit of the show, the cherishment of every single human life (except for nameless henchmen, of course), to say that they should be focusing on more “relevant” crimes. And though the message is one of value, it would require a little bit more character in order to really hit home properly. Without flavor and personality, this comes across simply as a hyperactive FBI action show that happens to have a couple of mysteries stuck in the background to make sure we don’t miss too many episodes. “She was murdered along with the rest of her family. Two years ago.” - Finch “So we’re looking for a ghost?” - Reese “Ghost” covers a two year-old unsolved murder. Finch’s machine has selected the social security number of a girl named Teresa who was presumed dead when her father (apparently) killed himself, his wife, and her. The body of the girl, who was fifteen at the time, was never found and it was assumed to be taken away by the current (the other two corpses were located in the water). However, Finch has an unwavering faith in his machine, and has Reese (Jim Caviezel) seek out Teresa before something bad happens to her. Reese’s first move is to threaten his “buddy on the force,” Detective Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman)—the corrupt (but not entirely unforgivable) cop that Reese blackmailed in the first episode in order to keep a constant stream of favors heading his way—for the case file on Teresa and her family. We can expect to see Reese taking advantage of poor Fusco once a week for inside information. He’s sort of like a reverse Huggy Bear. With Fusco’s help, Reese manages to track down the hitman who was hired to kill Teresa’s family. The man, in jail for a separate crime, insists that he let Teresa go as he would “never kill a kid.” Gotta love the moral code of murderers. In the meantime, Finch poses as an insurance agent and speaks with Teresa’s aunt (ex-wife of Teresa’s father’s brother, who divorced her a year ago and hasn’t spoken to her since). Reese uncovers a possible contact Teresa might have—an old boyfriend, whom he tracks down (far too conveniently). Through him, he finds her, and after a very Law & Order-style chase scene, followed by a near-murder of Teresa in a Laundromat, Reese manages to get Teresa to speak with him and Finch. As to why people are still trying to murder Teresa…that’s the question. The answer: they found out she was still alive, and they know that she is the rightful heir to some very fortuitous property that her father purchased before he was murdered. In fact, that’s why he was murdered. And murdered him? Directly, some practically faceless business moguls. Indirectly, his own brother. Finch and Reese manage to keep Teresa safe from the persistent goateed man who aims to see her dead, which is enough to restore the poor orphan’s trust in people. And that, more or less, is a theme of this episode: trust. Because while all this is going on, something far more interesting is also taking place. We’re learning a little bit about Mr. Finch. First of all, we get a flashback to a 2002 Mr. Finch, pre-limp. Did I mention he has a limp? Well, to be particularly honest, it didn’t seem all that prevalent in the pilot episode, but he does. And one can assume that around the time his ability to walk properly was destroyed, so was his ability to trust. He’s so strange and secretive that he pretends to be a low-level employee in the company that he owns. No one in his office seems to know who he really is—and he isn’t too keen on Reese finding out what he’s up to. "Don't call me, Mr. Reese. I'll call you." - Finch The end of the episode sees Reese covertly deliver Teresa to Detective Carter (Taraji P. Henson), the woman who has been investigating his dirty work and trying to figure out the mystery behind the man since the beginning of the pilot. We like her. So does Reese. We also get a closing scene that sees Finch pack up his desk and leave the office. His secrecy has been compromised—and a bust of him in the building lobby solidifies the fact that he has been considered dead since 2010. The good stuff: We also get a glimpse at what Finch was like before he made it his life’s goal to prevent all these murders. He, under the mindset of the government, was only interested in the “big crimes.” His partner, however, is a more moralistic fellow, who takes issue with the blatant disregard of innocent lives. We do not see anything further in terms of Finch’s evolution in this episode, but that’s the pull. We’re also dying to know what exactly happened to screw Reese up so bad. But are a few quick flashback scenes per episode enough? There is value in the “method to the madness” of the procedural system they’ve got going: people deserve to be considered important. All people. Furthermore, it’s probably the only (or at least easiest) way to fill out hour-long episodes every week. But there should be a lot more of “What’s going on with Reese/Finch/the machine/the government, and how did they get this way?” and a little less “Man, that guy’s good at hand-to-hand combat!” The show has some good stuff going for it, it’s just a little off on its focus.
  • Casting Roundup: Lisa Lampanelli Lands a 'Whitney' Role & the Mandelas Get a Reality Show
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 29, 2011 12:50pm EST
    NBC’s new sitcom Whitney, created by and starring comedian Whitney Cummings, will be welcoming another standup to the cast for an upcoming episode: Lisa Lampanelli, who, like Cummings, has built her comedy career on embodying the antithesis of “traditional femininity,” will play the part of a dog pound manager under whose jurisdiction it falls decide whether or not Whitney and her live-in boyfriend Alex (Chris D’Elia) can adopt a dog. Lampanelli’s episode is slated to air in late October or early November. Whitney airs at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. -Vulture One of the most interesting developing reality projects surrounds a family who isn't famous in the traditional reality fashion: the Mandelas. The series will star three adult grandchildren of anti-apartheid activist and former South African president Nelson Mandela: Dorothy Adjoa Amuah, Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway and Swati Dlamini. The three young women (aged 27, 34 and 32, respectively), will use the program as a plateau for creating identities for themselves independent of their grandfather's legacy, but not at the expense of their family's dignity. Swati tells Deadline, "We're definitely not the African Kardashians." Seeing as Dorothy has a law degree and an MBA, Zaziwe is a mother of two and involved in the Mandela-Dlamini Associates company, which specializes in international business consulting services, and Swati, also a mother, is setting up a foundation concerning housing, education and medicine programs, that really goes without saying. The series is expected to air early in 2012. -Deadline Melinda McGraw enjoyed a formidable stint on Mad Men as Don Draper’s mistress Bobbie Barrett—the ‘60s were big on alliterative naming. The actress will be taking another guest role as a woman with a complicated romantic history with a series’ leading man (maybe that’s just her very specific M.O.). McGraw will be guest starring on NCIS as one of many ex-wives of Special Agent Gibbs (Mark Harmon) on a November episode titled “Devil’s Triangle.” McGraw’s character Diane will, incidentally, also be the ex-wife of NCIS recurring character FBI Agent Tobias Fornell (Joe Spano). So…the crime probably isn’t going to be the most complicated thing in this episode. NCIS airs on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. -TVGuide Earlier this month, FX’s Rescue Me was set to rest after seven fruitful seasons, and costar John Scurti is already back onscreen. The series’ lovable Kenny Shea will make a guest appearance on House, playing a clinic patient—presumably with bizarre disease; bizarre enough to attract Dr. House’s (Hugh Laurie) attention, anyway. Scurti’s House episode will air sometime in Nobember. House’s eighth season premieres Monday, Oct. 3 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox. -TVLine
  • French Actress Bérénice Marlohe to Play the Next Bond Girl?
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 29, 2011 11:19am EST
    There are few compound phrases in Hollywood that are so mystifying, so dangerous, so elite as to invoke a feeling of profound respect for, and fear of, anyone who is lucky to embody them. Few they may be, but one sure-fire example: Bond Girl. Being cast as a Bond Girl is like joining an exclusive club. The roles have, traditionally, been given to actresses of healthy notoriety: Denise Richards, Jane Seymour, Teri Hatcher and Halle Berry. Of course, it is not unprecedented for the roles to go to lesser known actresses. In fact, accepting the role of Bond Girl has proven numerous times to be a valuable stepping stone for young actress' careers. And such might prove the case for the next potential Bond Girl: French actress Bérénice Marlohe is being considered for the lead female role in the upcoming Bond 23. The film will star Daniel Craig in his third stint as the superspy, and will be directed by Sam Mendes, who brought us greats such as American Beauty, Road to Perdition and Jarhead. The cast also includes the powerhouse Javier Bardem, Ralph Feinnes, Naomie Harris and, reportedly, Bond veteran Judi Dench, reprising her role as time-honored role as M. The role for which Marlohe is being considered was previously connected to larger names, such as Olivia Wilde and Frieda Pinto. It is commendable for a franchise like the James Bond series to experiment with lesser known stars—an all-too untapped market when it comes to big name films, but one that is dense with unique perspective and innovation to help keep these franchises fresh. Source: Twitch via Indiewire
  • Rooney Mara to Join Josh Brolin and Christian Bale in Spike Lee's 'Oldboy'?
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 29, 2011 7:19am EST
    Rooney Mara is the Marion Cotillard of late September: previously not very well-known, suddenly all over the radar. And both have fancy names. But we really must set nomenclature aside and focus on Mara's potential casting in Spike Lee's remake of Oldboy. Why? It's great news, that's why. Rooney Mara is a trooper. Oldboy is an ambitious project. Spike Lee is...well, you know how Spike Lee is. And Josh Brolin to star, with a probable Christian Bale to play the villain? When will the great news end?! ...There, I guess. That's it. Still, good volley. Mara has been working her way up to notoriety with starring and supporting roles in smaller films like Dare, The Winning Season, Friends (with Benefits) (not the one you saw; there are actually a ton of things with that title), and Tanner Hall. She upped the ante a smidge with films like Youth in Revolt and A Nightmare on Elm Street. However, her true breakout role was in The Social Network, which, despite only being largely a one-scene character, involved about four thousand lines of dialogue. And her performance in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo promises nothing but exponential glory. So we can root for her involvement in Oldboy: the story of a man (Brolin) who is kidnapped and held captive for fifteen years for no apparent reason; once released, the man has a limited time to find, understand the motives of, and ultimately take revenge on his captor (Bale, we hope). Mara's potential part is that of the female lead, presumably the man's daughter (who plays a large role in the story). The film is an adaptation of a 2003 South Korean movie written and directed by Chan-Wook Park. Source: Twitch via Indiewire
  • Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly Get Heated on 'The Daily Show'
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 29, 2011 6:34am EST
    Last night, the two forces of television politics faced off once again: Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly. Stewart welcomed O'Reilly to The Daily Show for an extended interview full of their usual hilarious hostility. Only half of the interview was televised—the second of the two videos below was only released online.  In actuality, the interview started out pretty congenially, but of course, that didn't last, and by the time we to the second clip, the two men were down to angry insults. The duo debated the big issues of the government, taxes and the economy...and got a little more "off book" by talking about muffins and cocaine dealers. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,The Daily Show on Facebook The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,The Daily Show on Facebook Source: Comedy Central
  • Anna Faris Used to Be a Stalker: Late Last Night
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 29, 2011 6:26am EST
    Last night, Anna Faris visited Late Night to talk about her former days of stalking ex-boyfriends, how her husband, Chris Pratt (of Parks and Recreation and Moneyball) likes killing animals, and to speak about her new movie What's Your Number?  Ed Helms stopped by The Tonight Show to talk a little bit about his new role as the boss on The Office, what's going on between Andy and Erin, and what happened to his body after a day of triathlons and award show ceremonies. Finally, the great and powerful Nick Offerman appeared on The Late Show to display his skills in carpentry. He builds canoes himself for fun. Offerman and his Parks and Recreation character Ron Swanson are pretty much the exact same person.
  • 'Modern Family' Recap: Phil on Wire
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 28, 2011 7:47pm EST
    S03E03: Modern Family doesn’t deviate much when it comes to its plots. It actually seems to have a roulette of themes to apply to each household. Haley vs. Alex. Mitch trying to settle down a hysterical Cam. Stubborn Jay talking down to an emphatic Gloria. But when they manage to tie all these silly storylines together to actually make them about something significant, we usually get a very worthwhile episode of television. Cam decides, in a veiled effort to impress Mitchell (and his coworkers at an upcoming function at Mitchell’s boss’ house) to lose some weight. His method of doing so: juice fast. This worries Mitchell, as Cam does not handle diets (or any strenuous activity) well. Mitchell, trying to be supportive, takes on the fast as well, but things go even more disastrously for him. After a lengthy bout with the regiment, a starving Mitchell loses it at his boss’ house (which is what he was afraid Cam would do), only to completely alienate all of his coworkers. But it’s a sweet moment, as it makes Cam realize what great efforts Mitchell went to to support him, which is when Cam admits he was only dieting for Mitchell. “I sit alone [at lunch] by choice.” – Alex “The school’s choice.” – Haley “Isn’t that your nickname?” – Alex “Haley, be nice to your sister. Alex…good save.” – Claire Haley and Alex have terrific sister-chemistry (chemsistry, perhaps? No? No.), so just about any storyline that revolves around their relationship—especially when you tap in with a little emotion somewhere along the line—is a win. Haley is upset and embarrassed over the fact that Alex has been bumped up into her math class (possibly because Alex is academically advanced, and Haley is quite the opposite). Claire, determined as always to get the girls to be friends, insists that they be civil and get along. Of course, they don’t. Haley is mortified by Alex’s ambition and social ineptitude in class, while Alex takes issue with Haley’s stupidity. However, the girls learn quickly that they can help each other out. If Alex supplies Haley with homework and test answers, Haley will help Alex get in with the popular clique (I wish there was a way to phrase that that didn’t make me sound like my dad giving me a lecture). This backfires, of course, when the two get caught cheating, much to the anguish of Claire. Claire is having her own problems, all the while, with an unwavering school security guard who has particular issues about her parking too long in the unloading zone. When Claire feels she has finally had enough of this woman, she mouths off to her insultingly, getting herself handcuffed. There doesn’t seem to be much point to this story. It doesn’t connect to the central theme at all and no real consequences ever take place, but Claire flustered is not wanting for comedy. “Is this a cookie for people?” – Manny “You’re good.” – Jay “Could I get a definitive yes or no? Because those cupcakes really did a number on me.” – Manny Remember the dog that Jay was guilted into adopting last season? Well, she’s got her own plot now. It seems as though Jay has really warmed up to her, to the point of coddling (there’s a really great callback to last week’s episode “When Good Kids Go Bad” that mimics Cam’s coddling of Lily—as Cam had Lily next to the shower while he was showering, so does Jay with the dog, Stella). Gloria takes issue with this. She claims that she is irritated that the dog has been chewing her shoes, but in actuality, she’s jealous. It comes out at the end of the episode, after Gloria is driven quickly to madness (to the point of chewing on one of Jay’s shoes to provoke the dog to do so, in an effort to turn Jay against Stella). Gloria exclaims that in Colombia, wives always come before dogs. It’s kind of a bittersweet ending—the speech is supposed to be comical in nature, but we never really see the two reconciling properly, other than a quick snippet of Jay being more sensitive to Gloria’s feelings in a closing montage. “If I had a nickel for every time I puked in school, you know how much money I’d have?” – Phil “Thirty-five cents?” – Luke “Exactly.” – Phil Phil, in the meantime, has decided to take up tightrope walking. He sees it done on TV (once) and needs to master the craft. This is the sort of super-minimalistic storyline that Phil was made for. He becomes obsessed with something as silly as tightrope walking (on his front lawn) and puts his attention toward nothing else in the entire episode, including his son, who has been eating inordinate amounts of candy gratis of his uncle Mitchell. It's another extremely simple storyline, mastered by Luke. It’s no big shock that Phil and Luke would be the primary sources of comedy in an episode of Modern Family, but it’s interesting to consider that while the rest of the family is dealing with complicated relationship issues, the two of them are simply satisfying simplistic temporary base desires. But it works. They really bring it all home. When an upset Claire drives her daughters home from the principal’s office, she sees Luke cheering on Phil, who is in the middle of his first successful tightrope walk above the lawn. Claire is moved by this, and by her three children cheering on their father. This is where Modern Family’s strength comes in: it cherishes the idea of family. It celebrates three very different, very dysfunctional siblings all rooting on their father’s zany attempt to prove to himself that he can do something special. It celebrates two emotionally unbalanced men trying desperately to prove to one another how much they love each other. And it celebrates a stubborn man coming to put his wife above himself when he sees that she really needs him to. And it isn’t at all hokey, because the very end of the episode has Phil admitting just how oblivious he is to all of the meaningful messages being embodied by his family members. He just wanted to walk on a tightrope. Very sweet, very funny episode.
  • Robert Duvall Takes a Role in Tom Cruise Starrer 'One Shot'
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 28, 2011 12:55pm EST
    I feel like "one shot" was exactly what someone got to pitch this movie to Paramount Pictures. Sweating nervously, and stammering through the explanation of Lee Child's story, whoever it was representing the film started rattling off big name actors. Tom Cruise. Sure, he doesn't fit the physical description of the behemoth lead character he'll play, but there's no time to consider that now! Rosamund Pike. She's famous, but not too famous. After all, the whole budget will be going to Cruise. How's this film supposed to support two huge name actors? Uh oh, it looks like the execs are losing interest. Quick, grab 'em with another big name! It doesn't matter that the movie is running out of major roles. Someone classic, but relevant! Uh, uh... Robert Duvall! ... Sold! Perfect! Yes, Mr. Duvall will indeed be joining the cast of One Shot, writer/director Christopher McQuarrie's adaptation of Lee Child's successful Jack Reacher novel. Reportedly, Duvall's role will not be a large one. But it will be one of great importance to the story. One Shot is building potential. The story is a potentially exciting one: the man-without-a-country Jack Reacher (Cruise) sets out to solve a murder that has been attributed to him by another suspect. A Robert Duvall involvement (a Duvolvement, if you will) is the sort of thing that can hook a few into a movie. He remains an unflappable screen presence, a dominating creative collaborator, and a magnificent crochetist. Keep this project in mind, it has potential. Source: Variety