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.
  • 'Person of Interest' Recap: Judgment
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 20, 2011
    S1E5: Right off the bat, let me just say how thrilled I am with Person of Interest’s guest casting. Last week: Lindsay Weir. This week: Gale Boetticher. It’s like they’re looking through my DVD collection for inspiration. But onto more substantial matters. While the episodes are never ‘boring,’ the ones—like tonight’s—that put all their time into the “Case of the Week” without lending anything to either Reese’s or Finch’s backstories (or any part of the overarching story whatsoever) just seem a little frivolous to me. “You have two questions right now: ‘Who are you?’ and ‘Where’s my son?’ Which one do you want to focus on?” – Reese This week’s number was that of Samuel Gates (David Costabile), a dedicated, no-nonsense judge, recent widower and single parent. Gates’ young son, Samuel, Jr., is kidnapped early on in the episode by an Eastern European gang who deals in some pretty high-level money laundering. The men who have Sam, Jr. (and who killed his nanny, Cristina) are well-off, thanks to a profitable business resultant of the cooperation of one Angela Markham (Meredith Patterson), a bank employee who conveniently shuts down the monitoring of money periodically so that her “business partners” can enjoy some discrete embezzlement—and if I explained that clumsily, it’s not because I wasn’t watching the episode carefully, it’s because my understanding of the way money laundering/bank operations/the economy/most things that don’t have to do with TV work is offensively low. The significance of Markham is that she is on trial for a drunken hit and run, under Judge Gates’ jurisdiction. If she were to go to jail, the syndicate’s operation would be no more, and their vast array of clients would likely have their heads. Thus, they kidnap Sam, Jr., and inform the judge that if he doesn’t let Markham go free, his son will die. This is where Reese steps in. “No question is innocent coming from you.” – Finch Now, it’s understandable that the “You have to trust me” thing is a recurring theme in this series, but every once in a while, they should at least change up the phrasing. Seriously though: trust is an issue not just between Reese and his ‘clients,’ but between Reese and Finch. No one is willing to trust Reese—not even his business partner and only regular contact (besides the groggy and grumbling Detective Fusco, who they’re building up to be a more interesting character week by week). The episode is framed by Reese trying to get closer to Finch by probing him with a simple question about what he’ll be ordering at a diner. Finch sees right through Reese, who is, in actuality, trying to get a sense of whether or not his boss frequents the diner (thus finding out where he lives, then where he’s from, more on his backstory, yadda yadda). Although it makes up about two collective minutes of the show, this is my favorite part of the episode, because it concerns the only two characters we really care about. And we care about them for two very obvious reasons. One: they’re the only ones we actually see every week. Two: they’re, despite Reason One, the only ones we know almost nothing about. Both men are shrouded in mystery. One by choice, one by necessity. Both are emotionally damaged, although this manifests in different ways. And both are dedicated to saving the lives of strangers. In turn, this means both are often put into the position of earning the strangers’ trust. The irony: neither man is capable of returning that trust. “Try the eggs benedict, Mr. Reese. I’ve gotten that many times.” – Finch The episode wraps up as one would expect. Judge Gates lets Markham off in order to save his son. The criminals go back on their word, but Reese shows up in the nick of time with a twofer: a fancy plan that puts the bad guys in a tight spot, and some quick hands when they ignore the entire speech he has just given (this is actually kind of funny when you’re watching it). Afterwards, Markham and the rest of the criminals are brought to justice by the combined efforts of Reese, Det. Carter, and the Fusco between them. The one surprise (and not the good kind) this episode gives us is not having Gates turn out to be the killer. When he glares resentfully at Markham as she receives an innocent verdict, it seems as though he’ll be the one taking the law into his own hands eventually. But no: everything wraps up nicely. As said earlier, trust is always a theme in this show, but maybe it seems a little bit thicker this week. Reese has to consistently convince Gates that he is on his side. Finch attempts to pry Reese away from Gates, as any knowledge that anyone has about the two of them is a liability. But Reese trusts Gates. He connects with him. This is not Finch’s wheelhouse, but he seems moved by Reese’s trust in and appreciation for the man, so he does offer his partner the slightest bit of generosity in the last moments by declaring that he regularly orders the eggs benedict at the very same diner that opens the episode. Again, this is the most fun part of the show (at least for character-development junkie nerds like me). Person of Interest does terrifically when it does this. Understandably, it can’t only do this. But it should do more. Hopefully, the trend will pick up some speed.
  • Bryan Singer's 'Battlestar Galactica' Movie Deal Lands 'Anonymous' Writer
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 20, 2011
    For years now, Battlestar Galactica fans have been yearning for a feature film adaptation of their favorite sci-fi series. Or have they? See, when Battlestar Galactica was remade in 2004 for the SyFy channel, cynics pshawed its arrival. "How," they scoffed, "dare they remake a timeless adage of unprecedented science fiction?" Cynics be damned—the networks dared. And damned further be aforesaid cynics: Battlestar Galactica's remake series was a huge hit with fans. It differed in the ways it needed to, and stayed the same in the ways it needed to. But now, a movie version of the original Battlestar Galactica series is underway, to be written by John Orloff (Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, next week's Anonymous). The movie, developed by X-Men and Superman Returns director Bryan Singer, has no connection to the 2004 series. Is this a good idea? What will this film accomplish as a direct remake that creators originally decided, with the series, was better suited attacking with a new approach? These questions weigh heavy on the heads of those who ask them. But answers will find themselves in much wiser men than I. Battlestar Galactica fans, we ask you: what do you think of this development? Should they focus on new material or old? Will this be a terrific addition to the Battlestar Galactica universe, or something we'd be better suited shrugging off? How many owls will make their way into the movie? Source: Deadline
  • Exclusive: Col. Grant Accuses Latif of Being a Terrorist in New 'Strike Back' Clip
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 20, 2011
    It's a battle of wills on the upcoming episode of Strike Back. Cinemax's first original series will see two of its biggest characters, Col. Eleanor Grant (Amanda Mealing) and Latif (Jimi Mistry), go head-to-head in a psychological death-match. Neither is willing to back down, and both assume themselves the superior of the two. But tomorrow, we will see what comes of this. Tomorrow, Grant will challenge Latif's actions and motives, likening him to terrorists like bin Laden. Latif, however, doesn't see himself this way, calling Jihadists "religious fanatics." Latif also affirms that he has no remorse or second-thoughts about his deeds, which stirs something inside Grant. Perhaps she is beginning to question her own actions? Find out Friday, Oct. 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Cinemax.
  • An '80s Matthew Perry Sitcom Predicted the 2011 Death of Muammar Gaddafi
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 20, 2011
    Well, this is probably the weirdest news I have reported yet in my time at Hollywood.com. As those of you with an Internet connection know (and I'm not sure how the rest of you are reading this), Libya's autocrat Muammar Gaddafi was declared dead today. Gaddafi had ruled the country since 1969; by many, his removal from power has been long-awaited. But a select few predicted when this day would come. And one of those select few was none other than Matthew Perry. Yep, it's getting pretty weird. For two brief months in 1987, Fox aired the sitcom Second Chance, which starred Kiel Martin as Charles Russell, a recently deceased man who must go back and steer the younger version of himself (Perry) on a more righteous path, so that he may eventually be admitted to Heaven. But here's the interesting part: the Kiel Martin version of the Russell was depicted (in the below scene) as visiting St. Peter at the gates to the afterlife in the "future" of 2011. Before Martin entered the scene, the theme was introduced through two other visitors: the first was a dim but sweet-natured beauty pageant queen who was inevitably admitted to Heaven. The second, however, was none other than Muammar Gadaffi, gunned down in warfare and sentenced to hell. Could this just be a strange coincidence? How could a simple, corny '80s sitcom predict that Gaddafi would fall from power and die twenty-four years later? It sure is eerie. Of course, Charles Russell was killed in a hover-car accident, so I guess this show didn't foresee everything correctly. Gaddafi's entry into the scene begins around the 2:20 mark. Source: Reddit via AOLTV
  • 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