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.
  • 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
  • Casting Roundup: New Warbler Means Trouble for Kurt and Blaine on 'Glee' & More
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 28, 2011 12:40pm EST
    If you caught last night's episode of Glee, you already know that there's some trouble brewing between Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) and Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss). For all those hoping for a speedy recovery of their cherished relationship: avert your eyes right now. Things are about to get worse. Theater actor Grant Gustin will join the cast as Kurt's rival for Blaine's affections. Reportedly, Grant's character, Sebastian, will be no gentleman in pursuing Blaine, his former fellow Warbler. Sebastian is said to be a conniving, ruthless and promiscuous predator who is very much the anti-Kurt. We will first see Sebastian in the fifth episode of the season. Glee airs Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox. -TVLine It seems that Hawaii Five-0 guest star Terry O'Quinn has been so well-received that he's starting to warrant his own slew of backstory guest stars. In one of the most "Really?"-inducing castings of the season, Jimmy Buffett will be stepping onto the Hawaii Five-0 set. Buffett's character will be an old war buddy of O'Quinn's Lt. Commander Joe White who lends a hand to the Five-0 in a time of need. Hawaii Five-0 airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. Buffett's episode will air this November. -EW Speaking of old LOST stars, Sonya Walger, who played Desmond's unwavering lover, Penny, will guest star as a psychiatrist to the lead duo on the upcoming USA cop comedy Common Law. After law enforcement partners prove incapable of getting along, their captain assigns them mandatory "couple's therapy." Playing the pair's shrink will be Walger -- a perfect fit. After all, there's only one thing these troubled guys need in their hectic lives: a constant. Common Law begins production in October and is shooting for a 2012 premiere. -EW The final piece of casting news today leaves a lot to the imagination: comedian Dane Cook will be joining NBC with his own sitcom. We don't know any specifics about the show, but if it's a pointed satire of life's idiosyncrasies delivered through short, artistic vignettes, then Cook had better gear up for some accusations about stealing ideas from Louie. Cook's series is expected to debut during NBC's 2012-13 season. -TVLine  
  • The Best TV You're Not Watching: 'Happy Endings'
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 28, 2011 11:42am EST
    Happy Endings aired as one of like, forty-five mid-season "relationship comedies" this past winter. The one thing to distinguish this series from the rest of the litter is that it's hilarious. Happy Endings follows a sextet of friends dealing with a strain on the group after Primary Female Friend Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) leaves Primary Male Friend Dave (Zachary Knighton) at the altar. The rest of the group, high-strung Jane (Eliza Coupe), easygoing Brad (Damon Wayans, Jr.), sardonic Max (Adam Pally) and basket-case Penny (Casey Wilson), try and salvage the group while dealing with their own low-stakes romantic issues. It's a calm watch; nothing much seems to happen. But the material is enough to keep us more than satisfied. Why You're Not Watching You’ve Never Heard of It You may be familiar with some of its castmembers: Jack Bauer's daughter, one of Scrubs' eighth-season interns, Damon Wayans' son. But there clearly isn't enough star power to get this show in the headlines. Despite their talent, none of the actors have that much "pull" yet to command viewers to a series (especially one that is tucked away to a Wednesday 10 p.m. spot). But now that you're reading this, this tribulation is conquered. It's called Happy Endings. It's on ABC. You no longer have this as an excuse. It’s Exactly Like Friends, A Decade Later One of the criticisms Happy Endings initially endured was that it was just another relationship sitcom among a bunch that debuted in the same season. Critics eventually came to understand it was much smarter and more original than its cohorts (Perfect Couples, Traffic Light). Still, it does have a pretty familiar formula. If you were a fan of Friends (as we all were), you might notice some similarities in the character descriptions: The Leads: A pretty, somewhat spoiled blond who runs out on her wedding in the pilotA hapless, good-hearted schlub who is in love with her Their Friends: The intelligent, relationship-affixed high-maintenance and hyper-competitive control freakThe spirited, promiscuous, super-flaky girl who seems a bit out of place everywhereThe cynical, sarcastic guy whose homosexuality is frequently a topic of discussionThe dapper but goofy dude (this one is the biggest stretch, but five out of six ain’t bad)The Stakes are Lower than Low The strain on the friendship group is admittedly not as big a focus as the show (or my introduction) advertises. If it were, the show would take a step up in quality. But as it is, the plots generally center on minor marital issues between Jane and Brad, one-off romances for Penny and Max, and Alex's and Dave's congenial steps to get over one another, and to help the other do the same. Not much carries over from episode to episode—but how on Earth can you really take issue with a TV show that referred to the movie Showgirls as Jesse Spano's Boobs?  The Episodes Aired Out of Order It's difficult to get attached to a story when you are exposed to it in non-chronological fragments. This formula only works if the story is about hit men, suitcases, and hamburgers. So Happy Endings got the short end of the stick when ABC aired its second episode, the one that was supposed to establish the primary conflict of the series (a group of friends having to deal with two members' recent breakup) as the last episode of the season. Because of this, it was hard to really anchor into what the characters were supposed to be feeling or thinking in any given episode. What You're Missing Honest Stereotype Deconstruction There are two wrong ways to handle stereotypes in television: embrace them as if they are reality, and ignore them as if they don’t exist. Last season alone, I saw so many pilots that I couldn’t believe were doing the same old shtick: the most notable example came from Fox's Breaking In, which slathered Alphonso McAuley's character so heavily in "1990s Black Guy" stereotypes that I felt physically ill. Happy Endings takes an interesting approach, specifically with the character Max. Max is openly gay and is often ridiculed by his friends for embodying none of the characteristics of the gay stereotype—Happy Endings does not simply carry on as if they're not "up to something." The show acknowledges that Max's love of football and his fleshy physique come across as odd to people (which is really saying more about the public conscious than it is about stereotypes, actually). Happy Endings devotes storylines to the dichotomy between the stereotype (represented by another gay man, Derrick, who is regarded by Max and the others as offensively flamboyant) and its antithesis (as represented by Max), assigning ridiculousness to both under the maxim that people should not and, realistically, cannot be defined by stereotypes in either direction. Nuanced Acting The show’s got a Bill Lawrence-y, Dan Harmon-y feel—and for those of you who have never seen Scrubs or Community, what I mean by that is there's a lot of humor being built organically onset. Canon characterization and running jokes seem like they're being built from the actors' ad libs. You can tell the creators are letting the stars influence their characters, which I’m always a fan of (especially when the actors are as comically adept as this cast is). Wilson plays Penny Hartz to relentless perfection, fluttering through sentences and shoving “amahzings” down everyone’s throats. Pally’s languid Max is so natural that you wonder just how much of the character is performance. Banter Banter is a modern comedy staple. Shows try and pass off their groups as friends by having them riff off one another, toss around idiosyncratic conversations, and share inside jokes. This is generally a hit-or-miss; a lot of shows come across as trying way too hard. But Happy Endings, more than any other positive quality it might have, is masterful when it comes to banter. One episode alone had an in-depth discussion about which of the six friends would best survive a zombie apocalypse (this discussion was actually the episode's B-Story) and Max relinquishing unto Penny an analytical catalog of everything that defines a hipster. To be fair, both these things were slightly too late to be timely, but nonetheless entertaining. The Bottom Line It'll make you laugh. Out loud. Regularly. Happy Endings might still need to sort out its driving forces, but it is, above all, a hilarious, clever, well-written and incredibly affable sitcom. The characters are exceptionally fun to watch, because it seems like the show is exceptionally fun to write and perform. So for those of you who enjoy laughing, check out Happy Endings. It's nothing short of a-mah-zing. Happy Endings premieres tonight at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
  • Enjoy a Very Furry 'The Lorax' Poster
    By: Michael Arbeiter September 28, 2011 10:58am EST
    You take a big gamble when you adapt a Dr. Seuss story to film. The Grinch and Horton Hears a Who came out great, but we can't say the same for The Cat in the Hat. So, what's the key? Do you try and stay as faithful as possible to the text? Or is it only necessary to resurrect the spirit of Seuss' writing? Do animated adaptations have a better chance than live-action? Is it just a Jim Carrey thing? Whatever the answer, hopefully it applies to the upcoming Seuss adaptation, The Lorax, starring Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Ed Helms and Danny DeVito as the titular creature whose life mission is to save the trees. Straying slightly from the storybook, The Lorax takes place in a futuristic society where trees are a rarity. A young boy (Efron) travels to a far-off location to bring back a tree for the girl he loves (Swift), but is stopped by the Lorax. The whole situation escalates to grand proportions. We can expect to learn a little something...but in case you're not into that, I predict it to be one of the more earnest and enjoyable Suess adaptations. After all, it's got a great voice cast (which also includes Rob Riggle, Betty White and Willow Smith), and comes from the creators of the quite sweet and entertaining Despicable Me. At least we can hope. Source: Yahoo