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.
  • 'Gossip Girl' Actor to Play Jeff Buckley in New Film
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 21, 2011
    I don’t know much in the way of Gossip Girl, but this guy voiced the hell out of Mario Tennis. Penn Badgley, the privileged-teen soap opera’s “Lonely Boy” with a growing-elitism arc (my sister just gave me a thirty-minute tutorial), has been cast to portray deceased singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley in the upcoming Greetings from Tim Buckley. The film chronicles a period of days preceding his debut at a tribute concert for his musician father. Daniel Algrant will direct. Those who were fans of Buckley beyond crying to a download of “Hallelujah” when your best friend left for college might find Badgley’s resume a little discouraging. He seems to have stuck pretty adherently to teen-directed comedy/dramas. But to be honest, I’m a fan of his work. I’m just about the only person who has ever seen either Do Over or The Brothers Garcia, and my fourteen year-old self though his performances immaculate in both. Producer Patrick Milling Smith of Smuggler Films had nothing but positive things to say about Badgley’s audition, stating that in the year the crew spent seeking a star, Badgley was far and beyond the best candidate. And if he’s good enough for Patrick Milling Smith… Source: Deadline
  • Pilot Review: TNT's 'Falling Skies'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 20, 2011
    We’ve all seen what alien invasions can do. They’re often electrically volatile, frequently misunderstood, and occasionally heartwarming. No two are exactly alike: some expose the tyranny of men, and some provide a long-sought friendship for the handicapped (as well as some heavy product placement). With the recent influx of post-apocalyptic fiction, we’re seeing a lot of alien invasions in a lot of new ways. But Falling Skies is a little behind its time. There’s almost nothing I saw in last night’s two hour premiere on TNT that I haven’t seen in any sci-fi or disaster film of the 1990s. The pilot was set at a Boston military base filled with civilian soldiers (the prologue explains that the aliens wiped out the armed forces, as well as a great deal of society, forcing the remaining adults and youths to join the revolution), focusing primarily on Noah Wyle’s Professor Tom Mason: a textbook hero with a case of “I just want my kid back.” He’s a brain among deep-voiced soldiers—a former history professor attempting (or, at least the show is attempting) to use his background to defeat the aliens. He has lost his wife and his middle son has been kidnapped and roboticized by the aliens. And there seems to be something going on between Wyle and Moon Goodblood’s character, the show’s lead female, whose only discernible quality is her degree in medicine and her budding attraction to (and from) Wyle’s character. Wyle’s oldest son, Hal (Drew Roy), is the sour but good-natured teen sidekick to his father, bent just as strongly on recovering his kid brother Ben. Just in case the adults didn’t promise enough sexual tension, Hal has been thrust amidst an old fashioned Betty-and-Veronica love triangle. His sharp-tongued girlfriend has nothing but harsh things to say about a sweet and helpful devout Catholic who clearly has eyes for Hal—and spouts the good word of the Bible three times a scene (I wonder which one will stick him with?). The second half of the premiere shifted from Man vs. Aliens to Man vs. Man, when a hostage situation victimizing both Mason men and several of their allies erupted. The leader of this rebellious band was your archetypal antihero: a hardened intellectual who references literature while drinking a beer while holding a rifle to another guy's head. Naturally, he joined the “good guys” at the end of the episode—but can he be trusted? Yes. He will prove to be. Because this show runs on the fuel of age-old formula, and it clearly (and ironically) sanctifies the intelligent. Among the few things that did provoke interest: a biology professor character wonders why six-legged aliens have created two-legged robots? Wyle suggests that it would be to better intimidate Earthlings psychologically, but the show brushes this off as a throwaway piece of dialogue that will inevitably be proven wrong. The prologue suggests that humans held off on attacking the aliens in the assumption that the aliens had come in peace, followed by an immediate dismissal by a child of these intentions. Was this just to further villainize the invaders? Here’s hoping that it’s a subtle piece of foreshadowing, but all my instincts tell me otherwise. Finally, my favorite scene of the night: a group of humans gathered around a dying alien, silently watching as it passed into infinity. The scene was provocative, both with emotional substance and acknowledgement that something happening at the moment was eventually going to prove important. But this moment alone offered these sentiments in a two hour premiere. After The Walking Dead wowed me with a genuinely creative zombie series, I had high hopes for Falling Skies. But last night, I received little more than hollow characters forced into definition by run-of-the-mill scenarios and aliens that seem exclusively focused on shooting and enslaving. So, we can keep watching. We can see Tom Mason rescue his son Ben and bed the ethnically-ambiguous pediatrician. We can see Hal leave the grips of his atheistic girlfriend and fall into the loving embrace of faith. We can see the intellects out-hero the soldiers and defeat—or perhaps, come to understand—the aliens. And we can see things go back to normal. Nothing to tell the king about. ="">
  • Christina Hendricks Wanted for 'Wonder Woman' Movie
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 20, 2011
    Writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn (that’s not a typo), whose Wonder Woman project has been in the developmental stages for years now, has voiced his ideal casting for the title character: Christina Hendricks. Hendricks is most familiar as Joan Harris from Mad Men. Fans of her work on the series would be likely to agree that she would be able to exemplify the superhero capably. Like Harris’ character, Wonder Woman is an archetype of female empowerment in environments of male dominance (except for that twin girl who turned into stuff in the Super Friends). Having directed Hendricks in 2011’s Drive (which, apparently, everyone LOVED), Refn has decided that she is the definitive choice for Wonder Woman—a project to which he is boundlessly dedicated. Almost creepily dedicated. Refn has stated he was “born to make this film.” Latent childhood fantasies aside, Refn’s upcoming projects also include a remake of Logan’s Run, to reunite him with another Drive star, Ryan Gosling. Despite (or maybe in light of) Refn’s odd attachment to this project, the entire thing breeds optimism. Wonder Woman has been conspicuously untouched in the eye of the classic superhero revival storm. The exception to this is David E. Kelly (who wrote on every single lawyer comedy on television…ever), who attempted a Wonder Woman series earlier this year, which amounted to nothing. All goes according to Refn's plan... Source: Collider
  • 'The American' Director Adapting 'A Most Wanted Man'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 20, 2011
    Anton Corbijn, the director of 2010’s international assassin thriller The American, treads close to territory with the adaptation of A Most Wanted Man by John Le Carre. The bestselling novel concerns the efforts of an ex-prisoner from Chechnya to avoid apprehension by the British and German secret services while residing in Hamburg. Developing the story in screenplay form is writer Andrew Bovell, whose resume includes the Mel Gibson thriller, Edge of Darkness, and the upcoming drama A View from the Bridge. A Most Wanted Man is being produced by the growing Amusement Park Films, which will also be responsible for another novel adaptation: Stain on the Snow (written by George Simenon), a coming-of-age crime novel. David MacKenzie, whose recent credits include Perfect Sense, a science fiction epidemic story, and the comedy You Instead, will direct. Source: Variety
  • New Linkin Park 'Transformers 3' Music Video Shows Unseen Footage
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 17, 2011
    When your status quo involves falling glass buildings, you’ve really made it. Michael Bay's upcoming Transformers installment, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, just released a bit of unseen footage in the form of a Linkin’ Park music video. Here's a brief summary: Electrical fires. Helicopters. Angry soldiers. Aquasnipers. Flying. Flipping. Falling. Shooting. Exploding. Transforming. Source: Slashfilm
  • Mark Ruffalo Says 'The Avengers' Won't Be In 3-D
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 17, 2011
    Three years ago, the end of Iron Man made us all optimistic for a The Avengers, which is set to arrive in May 2012. Iron Man itself was the best Marvel movie since the original Spider-Man, and its sequel was far from disappointing. Thus, hopes are high for The Avengers. Now our new Bruce Banner, a.k.a The Hulk, (Mark Ruffalo) is delivering an update that's widely being passed off as bad news: the movie is not being shot in 3-D. The lack of 3-D is becoming increasingly rare. And yes, 3-D is often awesome. Avatar would not have been Avatar without 3-D. But Toy Story 3 still would have been Toy Story 3. And Iron Man, without 3-D, was still Iron Man. Is anyone following me? While I’m sure a lot of people enjoy the bonus of watching a 3-D action movie, The Avengers will not suffer from being filmed in the traditional format -- as long as it lives up to the insurmountable expectations I’ve formed for for the film. But it might not even have to! Through some strange phenomenon of technology that baffles me, also known as 3-D conversion, movies not shot in 3-D may still be shown in 3-D. How does it work? I don’t know. But either way, nothing suffers. Everything about this movie so far is terrific news. Are you going to tell me that a lack of 3-D is really going to rob anything from Ruffalo’s take on the Hulk as the friendless kid in high school who made hand-written-poetry-scarves and used an umbrella ironically? No. You’re not. Because that would be ridiculous. Source: Slashfilm
  • 'Glee' Hires New Writers, Adds Freshman Characters For Season 3
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 17, 2011
    Hats off to you, Glee. You finally realize that music alone does not make a show. Sure, there are programs like American Idol, and Dancing with the Stars, which have had...a following. But you know that it’s just a phase. You’re not falling for it. You’re taking the high road: STORY. The creators behind this oddly popular Fox series have hired an additional six writers to join their staff of, virtually, three: the creators and executive producers, Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan and Brad Falchuk. Glee’s new staff will include Allison Adler (who will also serve as an executive producer), Marti Noxon (writer for Mad Men and Grey’s Anatomy), Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (writer for Big Love and Marvel comics), Matt Hodgson (Eat Pray Love), Michael Hitchcock (a writer/actor you know, but you have no idea from where…think Arrested Development or anything by Christopher Guest), and Ross Maxwell (Running in Traffic). The most fundamental change to the show will be the addition to a new freshman characters interacting with Glee club, allowing for various stories and relationships to develop between them. The producers have made past claims about beginning to "phase out" some of the older characters, as well, so perhaps this is a signal for a future shift? In addition, showrunner Murphy expressed his desire to revert back to the style of Glee’s first season. In Season One, a major story arc involving Dianna Agron's character, Quinn, as a pregnant teen was the driving force. Plots branched off from this central storyline, involving the identity of the father and who might become the caretaker of Quinn’s child. It was a teenage soap opera riddled with improbabilities and character behavior that would in reality brand anyone criminally insane. But at least there was a story. The second season lacked this baseline, relying more on the singing of the cast as primary entertainment. There were smaller story arcs, a slew of “Be Yourself” messages, and a repeat of the whole “If we don’t win Nationals, then there’s no reason to live” motif, but nothing as founding as the first season’s pregnancy. So, I reprise: way to go, Glee. You’re finally going to start valuing substance over style. Story over song. Pride over popularity. Respect over ratings… good luck. Source: Hollywood Reporter
  • Darren Aronofsky Takes on WWII Series For HBO
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 17, 2011
    Almost everyone agrees that Inglourious Basterds was awesome -- almost perfect. But think about this: how much more awesome would it have been if it involved MAGIC? That dream is about to come true. After dominating the controversial topics of drug abuse, spirituality and ballet, Darren Aronofsky is taking on Nazi Germany in the upcoming HBO period-drama, Hobgoblin. The series follows a group of illusionist con-men who employ their trade in an effort to take down Hitler and the German army. Michael Chabon, also responsible for the upcoming science fiction film John Carter, is writing the program with his wife, Ayalet Waldman, author of the novel on which the 2009 film The Other Woman was based. This project will be Aronofsky’s first gig directing for television. Since it’s HBO, he’ll be able to infuse the program with his regular doses of haunting sex scenes and a general thread of impending doom. Hopefully, this medium will allow Aronofsky the appreciation he deserves -- perhaps in the form of an award. He literally turned Natalie Portman into a swan. Don’t tell me it was a metaphor. You all saw what happened to her neck. If you ask me, that’s a bold choice. Just the right amount of bold that can make us look forward to the annihilation of the Third Reich via slight-of-hand magic. Source: Hollywood Reporter
  • New 'John Carter' Teaser One Sheet
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 16, 2011
    As mysterious as the film itself is this new poster for John Carter: the tale of a former military captain who somehow ends up on Mars and faces off with Willem Defoe. Here we see Taylor Kitsch, Carter himself, as the backdrop for Martian scripture which, if looked at long enough, actually turns out to be the letters J, C and M. So, there's one mystery solved. But more to come on Barsoom (that’s what they call Mars in this movie). Source: Disney
  • Bethenny Frankel Gets A Talk Show
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 16, 2011
    Someone actually decided that we didn’t have enough Bethenny Frankel. The former member of the Real Housewives of New York City and even formerer Apprentice of Martha Stewart is getting another show, in addition to the Ever After... series (in production for a third season) in which she stars on Bravo. This latest deal, reportedly a talk show, is being developed in cooperation with Ellen DeGeneres and Telepictures. The company, which produced Ellen as well, offered DeGeneres control over new projects for Warner Brothers TV and Horizon. Frankel’s program will warrant a variety of segments. Although filming is underway, a location isn't yet finalized (although producers are looking at New York as a top choice), and they've yet to develop material. Frankel says she looks forward to communicating with fans and showcasing her eccentricities in this new format. Source: Hollywood Reporter