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.
  • 'True Blood''s Stephen Moyer Travels into 'The Barrens'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Sep 16, 2011
    Ah, the woods. Is there nothing more horrific? It's been too long since an unexpecting, well-meaning family traveled deep into the woods, hoping only to escape the distraction of city life (and just maybe have some meaningful experiences). But we will again experience this glorious theme in The Barrens, a film set in the woodlands of New Jersey. And as this is, in fact, a horror film, it is no surprise that it has attracted a lead actor experienced with witches and vampires: Stephen Moyer of True Blood. Moyer will not be taking the demonic role in this film, however. He will be the head of a family that heads into the Jersey woods and happens, unwittingly, upon the most horrible beast the state has to offer... or, at least top five: the Jersey Devil. Despite the fact that Stephen Moyer will, in fact, just be your average (if not overly zealous) family man, the movie summary does seem to offer the vampirous actor his share of monstrosities. Read no further if you want to go in fresh. Moyer will, as a result of an injury and over-exertion (he really wants his family to take a hike together) become delusional, paranoid, and borderline psychotic. Is this to say that there is a monster in all of us? Is it a statement against running away from your problems? Or perhaps...this is just what Jersey does to people. Source: Variety via Comingsoon
  • Ashton Kutcher Hopes Charlie Sheen Left PCP On Set: Late Last Night
    By: Michael Arbeiter Sep 16, 2011
    Last night, Charlie Sheen visited The Tonight Show, in very rare form, to actually come right out and admit how unabashedly nuts he's been over the past year. It's a Sheen we haven't seen in quite some time: he's making coherent sentences, speaking with a degree of humility, talking remorsefully about losing his job...impressive. But, we'll see if it lasts. Ashton Kutcher appeared on Conan to talk about the intense secrecy surrounding the new season of Two and a Half Men (he says the word "divulge" way too many times), and to inadvertently mention his desire for PCP. I guess that job just does this to people... Zooey Deschanel joined Jimmy Fallon on Late Night to compete in a game of musical talents (or lack thereof). She may not be able to play the violin very well, but Zooey Deschanel is the most adorable person on the planet. Finally, Steve Buscemi stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live to talk about how his mother has had to endure watching his death over and over in tons of movies and on The Sopranos.
  • 'It's Always Sunny' Writers Developing Cartoon Starring Justin Long & Kristen Bell
    By: Michael Arbeiter Sep 15, 2011
    Imagine how bizarre, offensive, and psychotic It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia would be if it wasn't bound by the confines of human capability. It's a frightening but enticing thought. And now, we can revel in our fright and entice...ments: Rob Rosell, Scott Marder and David Hornsby are all writers and producers on It's Always Sunny (and the latter also plays Rickety Cricket), and they are developing a new animated series for FX called Unsupervised. Furthermore, the series is set to star Justin Long and Kristen Bell. So... so far, so good! The series will revolve around a pair of teenagers, Gary and Joel (not sure which one Kristen Bell is supposed to play...), "navigating the harsh landscape of teenage life and trying to do what's right without any parental guidance whatsoever." Long and Bell won't be the only familiar names to lend voices to this series. We can also expect to hear from It's Always Sunny's Kaitlin Olson, SNL's Fred Armisen, Weeds' Romany Malco, and the Spy Kids series' Alexa Vega. FX's standing adult-directed animated series, Archer, a huge winner. Despite the stigma against cartoons as being idiotic and childish, Archer is perhaps one of the most intelligent and clever programs on TV. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean Unsupervised will also reach this level... but considering the cast, the creators, and the network, I don't think we need to rule out wishful thinking. Source: AOLTV
  • New Jersey is Awarding 'Jersey Shore' a $420,000 Tax Credit
    By: Michael Arbeiter Sep 15, 2011
    So, here's the kind of news that you happen upon and think, "Oh, I didn't realize I was reading The Onion." And then when you realize that you're not reading The Onion, you shudder silently, take a long sip of brandy, and hold your children tight. The end is near. The state of New Jersey decided to award Jersey Shore $420,000 in tax credits in return for its contribution to the state's economy. According to politicians including Seaside Heights Mayor P. Kenneth Hershey, the reality show's "branding" of the area has earned it a massively accelerated attraction, both to locals and visitors, which has resulted in a great economic boost. This is a hard bit of news to swallow. On the one hand, it is understandable how the show could have had such a profound impact on the Jersey Shore area economically; the series has advertized a lifestyle since its inception that, whether ironically or not, people have taken to immitating. On the other hand, it's insane. A good deal of people already take issue with the level of popularity Jersey Shore has gained, and to the "messages" conveyed by the series' cast members. Those are probably the same people who are lighting up their torches right about now. Still, anything to get the economy going, right? If Jersey Shore is what it'll take to save us all, then so be it. Are we too proud to concede to the MTV series, and allow it to rebuild our crumbling economy? Would we rather just sit in poverty, taking pride in the fact that we only watch Frasier? I know, I'm sort of going back and forth on this. But that's the effect Jersey Shore has on my psyche. Fortunately, I'm only a short drive from Seaside Heights. I hear therapists are starting to charge less there now, for some reason... Source: EW
  • Stand Up To Cancer's 'Star Wars' Parody Features Emma Stone, Seth Rogen and More
    By: Michael Arbeiter Sep 15, 2011
    There is nothing not to like about a group of the funniest movie and television stars of present day reciting classic lines, in character (with some liberties taken), from what is indesputably the most powerful film series ever made: Star Wars. Actors Emma Stone, Seth Rogen, Aziz Ansari, Ed Helms, Ken Jeong, Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, Jamie King, Zach Galifianakis and Samuel L. Jackson are all on board to benefit the charity Stand Up To Cancer. All of the fan-favorites are lampooned: Luke, Leia, Vader, Han, Chewie, Obi-Wan, Yoda, Lando, the Emperor, Uncle Owen, Admiral Ackbar... but what really takes the cake is Hader's impression of a Taun-Taun. Check out the video, fans of Star Wars and comedy alike. And then head on over to Stand Up to Cancer and find out that, despite the generational outbreak of cynicism, you actually can make a difference.
  • Denzel Washington Gives Hope to 'The Secret in Their Eyes' Remake
    By: Michael Arbeiter Sep 15, 2011
    In 2010, Argentinian director Juan José Campanella won an Academy Award for his film The Secret in their Eyes. The story successfully utilizes several traditional themes, such as the detective hero haunted perpetually by an unsolved murder, as an authorial protagonist blurring the lines between fiction and reality and even the simple facet of unrequited love. The movie was a terrific exploit: well-acted, well-written, well-directed. A wonderful product. So why not remake it? That's what Billy Ray says, anyhow. Well, Billy, if you're going to remake it, you should at least get some good people involved. Now, you may have to do this gradually. It's a little known film, so you're probably not going to get anyone that famous right out the—what? Denzel Washington? Okay, never mind. So, Ray (who directed Shattered Glass and wrote Volcano) has offered the lead role of the retired detective/writer/heartbreakee to Denzel. No word on whether or not Mr. Washington will accept. He is actually busier than he has been in a while, with Flight and Safe House on the horizon. If this project does materialize, it's not something we should immediately discount. Billy Ray has had written several successful films, and Denzel Washington was in The Might Quinn. It speaks to Ray's artistic character that he's interested in taking on a lesser known but dense project such as this. So let us await this remake with reverence. After all, remakes are just the way of the world now. The practice is no longer limited to older films; now we're tackling movies that are less than two years old. Pretty soon, all movies will be remakes. And all remakes will be sequels. And all sequels will be threequels. And after that... well... you'll see. You'll all see. Source: Indiewire
  • The Best TV You're Not Watching: 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Sep 15, 2011
    It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is the low-budget, low-concept, low-brow FX series about five lowlifes with low ambitions, low morals and low standards for living. As for the quality? Miles high. The series follows Dennis (Glenn Howerton), Mac (Rob McElhenney), Charlie (Charlie Day), Dee (Kaitlin Olson) and Frank (Danny DeVito), the co-owners of a Philadelphia Irish pub, in their misanthropic, unscrupulous and often felonious day-to-day lives. Episodes often touch upon (or tackle outright) sociopolitical issues, significant items in pop culture and, in one instance, American history. Although they do balance it out with an entire episode devoted to human excrement, so there you go. Why You're Not Watching It Looks Like it Costs $20 to Make an Episode As a matter of fact, in some instances, it has. Fans of the show might be familiar with the story behind the first episode: when Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day and Glenn Howerton shot a pilot for the show (back then titled It’s Always Sunny on TV), the only money spent for the shoot was the cost of the tapes. Every episode since has maintained the same aesthetic (it is probably more consistent, visually, than any other sitcom I can recall). Plus, the gang rarely traverses to any high-budget locations. They mainly stay in the bar, Charlie's squalid apartment, or the grungy streets of Philadelphia. It Seems Like They’re All Playing the Same Character Lewd, selfish, ignorant—yes. Everyone on It’s Always Sunny embodies (and embraces) each of these, and other less-than-admirable, characteristics. But just because they’re all bad, loudmouthed people doesn’t mean they’re not each unique. Dennis is a guiltless narcissist whose entire identity is tied up in his physical appearance. Mac is a brutish man-child perpetually trying to prove himself a “badass” (in a subconscious attempt to impress his estranged father). Dee is a painfully insecure, unhappy and bitter woman, who masks her pain by being vindictive and self-righteous. Frank is a deadbeat, Machiavellian sleaze-ball who is actively trying to descend into depravity and madness after a much-regretted life of marriage and financial success. And Charlie (oh Charlie…) is a mentally-ill, multi-phobic and constantly-livid moron who's obsessively attached to his lifestyle of squalor, debauchery and idiocy... and he's one hell of a scene-stealer. It’s Just a Lot of Yelling, Cursing and Stupidity There is, in your defense, a good deal of yelling, cursing, and (on the characters’ parts, not the show’s) stupidity. Those convinced that this is all there is to the show, however, have probably not watched more than a scene or two at a time. Just about every episode takes on some contemporary political issue or cultural phenomenon for the purposes of lampooning. What You're Missing Legitimately Poignant Sociopolitical Satire Seriously. Granted, they’re not that subtle about it (episode titles include “Charlie Wants an Abortion,” “The Gang Solves the North Korea Situation,” “The Gang Goes Jihad” and the like), but It’s Always Sunny has taken on a slew of contemporary political issues with some interesting viewpoints, often highlighting the hypocrisy in both sides of an issue. "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis" is possibly the best example of this, and one of the most iconic Sunny episodes thanks to its illustration of the "Brains, Looks, Wildcard" dynamic (I'm not explaining it further as provocation to get you to watch out of curiosity). The episode lampooned oil companies, the Middle East, the far left, the far right, then-President George W. Bush, and the average American, all the while working in the Ghostbusters theme during one of the best climactic scenes in sitcom history. The Stars are the Creators, Writers and Producers That may not sound like an inherent pro, but it is. The more involved the originators of a show’s idea are in its development/production, the better the show is. It stays truer to the form it was meant to take, but that doesn't mean it's not impervious to evolution; It’s Always Sunny’s characters have undoubtedly developed significantly since the first and second seasons. McElhenney, Day and Howerton write, direct and produce many of the episodes together, and the quality pervades: the episodes they create together are generally the strongest of the series. Frequent Additions to the Public Lexicon What pop culture essentials has It's Always Sunny spawned? Let's make a list... Kitten Mittens (...you'll be smitten)Who is Pepe Sylvia?Green Man (this is beyond just a verbal phenomenon; people do this now)WILD CARD!Do the words "Champion of the Sun" mean anything to you? The Bottom Line It's More than a Show: It'll Pervade Your Social Life This is simply the most raucous and wily series on television. Watching It's Always Sunny is a group activity: not only will you laugh louder and longer, you'll also inevitably end up assigning character roles to yourself and your friends (it's guaranteed that everyone will want to be the "Wild Card," but until you throw yourself in front of a moving car to make a quick buck, you just don't have it in you). All in all, it's one of the most energetic, quotable and fun comedies on television today, and it deserves way more credit than it is often given. And if that's not enough for you, they've got some pretty catch songs, too.
  • James Franco Wants to Direct 'Child of God' Now
    By: Michael Arbeiter Sep 15, 2011
    Someday, James Franco will be the Regal Emperor of Hollywood. That is, if he goes through with all the potential plans he has lined up. His next quest towards the summit of showbiz royalty:: directing a Cormac McCarthy adaptation. No, not Blood Meridian... although Franco has declared intentions to direct the film, he's putting that on hold for now and instead directing another Corman McCarthy adaptation: Child of God. Cormac McCarthy's 1973 novel is a dark, twisted tale set in a quiet rural community. I know, shocker. The story followed its main character, Lester Ballard, through a journey of regression into a hermitic, criminal, sociopathic figure. Little yet is revealed about Franco's vision for the project, nor about casting or production. Blood Meridian was set to involve Franco's younger brother Dave, Mark Pellegrino, Luke Perry (the one and only) and Scott Glenn. Whether or not this project persists is up in the air, so we might be seeing some of these cast members jump about Child of God. They've got to pay their Franco/McCarthy dues somehow. This project is far from cemented, so we'll just have to see what comes from it. But Cormac McCarthy novels are inherently cinematic, and I'd be interested to see what James Franco can do with one. He may be a character, but he's definitely got artistic sense. Source: Indiewire
  • Ethan Hawke and Vincent D'Onofrio Lead New NBC Detective Drama
    By: Michael Arbeiter Sep 15, 2011
    Ethan Hawke is a man filled to the brim with street cred. He's made his mark in the worlds of Disney, Richard Linklater, Denzel Washington, Shakespeare, sci-fi, and trendy '90s misery. So anything that he signs onto has an immediate hint of promise. His newest venture is not in movies, though: the Hawke is changing his flights to television. Hawke and Law & Order: Criminal Intent's headcase headliner Vincent D'Onofrio will be teaming up in a new crime drama series, Blue Tilt. In the series, Hawke and D'Onofrio will be partnered homicide detectives, dealing both with their strenuous jobs and their equally trying personal lives. One of the characters will be a divorcee, and one a married man. Both are fathers. The title of the series suggests further internal unrest than paying alimony or marital disputes. The phrase "Blue Tilt" refers to the mental state a homicide detective can reach, as a result of his often traumatizing profession, wherein he becomes a danger to himself or others, and is therefore mandated to undergo psychiatric observation. It is not yet reported if this practice will be a recurring theme in the show, but it can be assumed that we might see Hawke and D'Onofrio taking part (willingly or otherwise) in some head-shrinking. The series will be written by Chris Brancato (creator of First Wave, and occasional writer for the Law & Order franchise, The Outler Limits and Beverly Hills 90210, among many other series, as well as the film Species II), and will air on NBC. Source: Deadline
  • Watch the Full 'Homeland' Series Premiere Here!
    By: Michael Arbeiter Sep 15, 2011
    The other day, Hollywood.com let you all in on the awesome opportunity to watch The New Girl, The Secret Circle and Homeland for free online before their television premiere dates. You can still download The New Girl and The Secret Circle on iTunes, but we've upped the ante with Homeland availability: you can watch the entire series premiere right here! Don't believe us? Just glance downward! See? In Homeland, Claire Daines portrays CIA Officer Carrie Anderson, who begins to suspect that a rescued army soldier, who had been held in captivity by militant terrorists, has been brainwashed by his captors and is now plotting with them to attack the United States. Homeland premieres on Showtime on Sunday, October 2 at 10 p.m. ET. You can click here to learn about downloading The New Girl (premiering on September 20 at 9 pm EST on Fox) on iTunes, and you can click here to learn about downloading The Secret Circle (premiering tonight at 9 pm EST on The CW) on iTunes.