20th Century Fox via Everett Collection
Few would argue that Michael B. Jordan isn't one of our most promising young actors today. At only 27, he has a filmography that any drama student would happily triple his tuition for, including career-making roles in not one but two dramas found on any recent best-of roundup worth its salt. As Vince Howard on Friday Night Lights, Jordan played a pivotal part in making the East/West Dillon switch-up work. And to gauge his impact on the other series, just say the name "Wallace" to any fans of The Wire and watch how they react.
Other career highlights so far include the innovative sci-fi flick Chronicle, a recurring role on Parenthood, the bro comedy That Awkward Moment, and a starring turn in the crushing Fruitvale Station, which had Jordan on several Oscar longshot lists last year. The powers that be are paying attention. In February, it was announced that Jordan would be playing The Human Torch in the upcoming reboot of Fantastic Four. He's also been tapped by 20th Century Fox to lead its CIA thriller Men Who Kill.
With these big budget, explosion-heavy projects in the works, we can't help but hope that Jordan's talent muscles still get their regular workout. We don't begrudge a rising star like this one his right to have some fun with green screens and stunt men and bring home those big paychecks. But ideally, the success of these studio behemoths will free Jordan up to throw in some prestige films here and there, and not adhere him to a path paved solely with action. Anyway, comic book adaptations are no place for hack actors these days — just ask the weighty cast of Avengers. And the unfortunate racially-charged reaction to his Fantastic Four casting from some corners of the Internet shows how much the world needs to see someone like Jordan in a role like this.
If he gets the blockbuster to awards caliber material balance right, Michael B. Jordan has a shot at becoming the kind of versatile movie star we rarely see these days: one we can both enjoy and admire.
When The Mindy Project snapped Adam Pally up after the untimely cancellation of Happy Endings, we were totally psyched. But then he languished for a while. Established as an "bro" with one foot still in the frat house, Dr. Peter Prentice was too similar to his Happy Endings character Max to really make an impact on the show.
But as the Mindy and Danny drama is playing out, Peter has stepped up. Danny and Mindy were each other's confidantes up until kissing and other pesky distractions got in the way. Now, not only does Mindy as a character need a friend to help her through the break-up, but the show needs someone structurally to be Mindy's sounding board. And we're loving Peter and Mindy as partners in crime.
Sure, Peter will take Mindy out to bars and cheer her on while she hits on guys. But he'll also make sure she knows that she "deserves someone great." He's got no shame about his low-maintenance hook-ups and proudly celebrates his ETPCs (Eager to Please Chubsters), but, as he teaches Mindy his player ways, he's also becoming self-aware. ("Does everyone think I'm a dick?")
Some of Peter's "bro" teachings are even valid! In "Think Like a Peter," he convinces Mindy that she doesn't owe anything to any of her first dates if she's not interested, no matter how nice they are. And despite her best efforts to ignore his advice, recovering sketchy guy Peter's certainly got the inside scoop on sketchy guy behavior. We've seen the beginnings of some Peter and Mindy "shipping" in corners of the fanbase, but we much prefer these two stay platonic. Though we do agree with Mindy that he did look extremely cute in that little sailor hat.
Is the developing Peter/Mindy friendship helping you weather the Danny/Mindy storm? Let us know in the comments!
Amy Poehler's Smart Girls/YouTube
Usually we're glad that our teenage years are behind us, but this is not one of those times.
In June, Amy Poehler is hosting a summer camp in Austin, Texas inspired by her "Smart Girls" web series. Girls between the ages of 14 and 18 are invited to attend the two-week day camp to "have fun, be creative, and make a difference in the world." Wait, we want to do that too! "We will get our hands dirty," the flyer says. "We will play, we will dance, and we will make cool stuff." That's all the details we have for now. One question looms above all others: where do we sign up?
"Smart Girls" may be aimed at teens and tweens, but it's got serious value for grown-ups too. We're addicted to the channel, from interviews with female scientists, firefighters, and paralypmians, to spotlights on "Smart Girls" from all over the world, to Poehler's "Ask Amy" segments (three-minute nuggets of Amy's wisdom on jealousy, goodbyes, love, empowerment, and even sleep). We're envisioning the camp as a cross between the web videos and a camping trip with Leslie Knope's Pawnee Goddesses. Maybe there's a badge for making your own Gertrude "Stein"!
So this is our open letter to Amy and her "Smart Girls" team: We humbly request a future camp with no age limits — where women of all ages can gather to unplug from daily life, invent, experiment, and inspire each other. We predict a grown-up "Smart Girls" camp would sell out in less a minute, especially if it includes a "selfie with Amy" hour. We also suggest that the adult version be of the sleepaway variety, so evening cocktails can be on the agenda.
Would you sign up for an Amy-endorsed day camp? Tell us why (or why not) in the comments!
The Paley Center
The FX original limited series Fargo started its 1o-episode run this week, dontcha know? We caught up with stars Colin Hanks, Keith Carradine, Martin Freeman, and Billy Bob Thornton, plus showrunner Noah Hawley on the red carpet of the show's preview panel at the Paley Center New York. Here's what they had to say about successfully adapting a beloved cinematic masterpiece, the "golden age" of TV, and the show's frigid Calgary set.
Hanks on the allure of the limited series:"I think now, with the way some shows are being made now, you have this luxury of not necessarily having to make a TV show that will last for 100 episodes. Now it's really more about letting the story dictate how many you do."
Hawley on what attracted him to the project:"I wasn't being asked to copy something, I was being asked to create an homage really, which then forced me to say, 'Well, what made that movie that movie and how do I tell a story that feels the same, but doesn't play the same?'"
Carradine on how the pilot script turned skepticism into enthusiasm:"I said, 'Oh my gosh, how are they gonna do that?' And then I got the script and I said, 'Oh, okay. That's how they're gonna do it.' It's brilliant. It takes where [the Coen Brothers] started, and it kind of ramps off from there. And it takes into account where we as an audience have come in the last 18 years since that film was made. There's no other film like it, and yet, in those 18 years, the audience has become more sophisticated and, I think that what we're doing here reflects that."
Hanks on the show's pitch-black humor:"Violence isn't necessarily played for laughs, but maybe what happens just prior to it or just after it, in its aftermath, is sort of a way of releasing that tension that violence brings to the plot."
Hawley on the show's heavyweight cast:"The network and I really wanted to cast it like a movie, and aim for a sort of caliber of actor. Knowing that it was only a 10-episode commitment, why settle?"
Carradine on the cultural landscape of TV:"If you really want to do incisive, progressive storytelling, television seems to be the place now. It's kind of a new golden age."
Freeman on how the location helped him find his character:Freeman: "If we're pretending to be in a very cold, snowy place, it helps if we're in one. And Calgary was white on the ground for the entire four months that we were there."Us: "Well, it was here in New York too. You could've filmed here."Freeman: "Oh, don't tell me that!"
Thornton on another Coen Brothers film that'd make a great miniseries:"Blood Simple. Let's do it."
20th Century Fox
On paper, The Fault in Our Stars has all the makings of an awards season juggernaut. It's based on a beloved novel. It's bound to be the break-out film for its young director. Its leading lady already has one Oscar nomination under her belt. And it deals with one of the Academy's favorite subjects: terminal illness.
But despite the universal appeal of the book, The Fault in Our Stars has been stamped with the dreaded red "YA." It's shelved in the "Young Adult" section of the book store. And the movie will carry that brand also. Before its release, last year's film adaptation of The Book Thief was touted as a heavy Oscar contender. But when the dust of the season settled, The Book Thief walked away with little but a few nominations for its John Williams score. Then again, with a 46% on Rotten Tomatoes, it was likely the movie's timid approach to its Nazi Germany setting that cut it off at the knees, not its YA cred.
The drama — which hits theaters in June — may be about teens who meet in a cancer patient support group and fall in love, but it's got plenty to say about humanity, fulfillment, and acceptance. Ranking Oscar chances this early in the season is a fun and somewhat futile exercise, but we'd guess that The Fault in Our Stars has the best shot for getting recognition for the impossibly mature Shailene Woodley and perhaps an Adapted Screenplay nod for Michael A. Weber's take on John Green's novel. That is, if pointless categorizing doesn't get in the way.
Do you think The Fault in Our Stars with be hindered by its Young Adult status come awards season? Let us know in the comments!
It seems that every sitcom heroine needs a loveable fool by her side these days. Weird and well-meaning co-workers are the new wacky neighbors. The Mindy Project has Morgan Tookers (Ike Barinholtz), a registered nurse at Mindy's practice, and Parks and Recreation has Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt), shoeshine boy, administrative assistant, body man, and fake FBI agent (depending on the time of day). We'll compare their goofball résumés. You vote on which lovable doofus reigns supreme.
Morgan once attended the funeral of an elderly grandmother vowing to "catch whoever did this." Then again, he's savvy enough to know that the winky face is basically "Emoji porn." And we have to assume — for the sake of the patients of Shulman & Associates — that he did graduate from nursing school. He knows science!
Andy's credentials, on the other hand, are a little thin. He's come a long way from the aimless loser who drunkenly fell into the pit behind Ann's house. But he's still mostly a student in the school of life, plus one community college course in Women's Studies.
Andy may not have been the best boyfriend to Ann, but he's been a steadfast, if immature, husband to April. And he's devoted to Leslie, who he credits for changing his life. But don't count out Morgan, who's ready to do anything for Mindy... including allowing her to sleep with him since a record number of his exes found true love immediately after hooking up and breaking up. Then again, he did sue her for harrassment when she changed her mind. Still, let's not forget that Morgan has done time. Not a bad guy to have in your corner.
Andy's weirdness is garden variety. He's a child, he's a frat boy, he's a golden retriever puppy who can talk. Morgan might be from another planet altogether.
Nothing on Barinholtz and Morgan's creepy (usually shirtless) writhings, but Pratt (true to his name) has proven himself to be a master of physical comedy. Think of Andy falling from the monkey bars onto his face; running gleefully out of the hospital just to smash into the side of an ambulance; or sneezing his head into a wall while trying to hang his one gold record. No contest.
For us, it's a toss-up... although going on gut alone, we'd have to put Andy on top. Cast your vote below and defend your choice in the comments!
Once a "political leper," Vice President Selina Meyer will amp up her campaign for the highest office in the land when Veep returns on Apr. 6. Though, with this bunch of jokers and opportunists behind her, it doesn't look good. In honor of the upcoming third season premiere of the HBO comedy, we've organized the office of the VP (that's "Vaguely Personable," to some) from least to most useless.
5. Sue Wilson, Personal Assistant
Sue (Sufe Bradshaw) is the iron gate between Selina and the outside world. She wield's her phone like a weapon and can be counted on to not only shut down every person who tries to get through, but also to eviscerate them personally in the process. No, the president hasn't called.
4. Amy Brookheimer, Chief of Staff
Smart, married to her job, and always ready with a devastating insult, we get the feeling that poor Amy (Anna Chlumsky) just picked the wrong horse in this race. Think of what she'd accomplish with a savvy and poised candidate as her boss. Though there don't seem to be any of those in Veep's Washington.
3. Mike McLintock, Director of Communications
Mike (Matt Walsh) is relatively capable, but has such a deep hatred for his job that he's made up a fake dog to always have an excuse to go home early. If it weren't for his crushing debt and the cost of the boat upkeep, he'd probably have resigned long ago.
2. Gary Walsh, Personal Aide
Whatever else is said about Gary (Tony Hale), no one can claim that he's not fiercely loyal to the VP. Armed with "The Leviathan," Gary is devoted to his boss's every waking need. But let's just say he's not the person you'd want by your side in a crisis.
1. Dan Eagan, Deputy Director of Communications
Dan (Reid Scott) is young, handsome, ambitious, and calculating — just the sort of political tap dancer who should be killing it in D.C. And he could be great at his job — if he spent more time doing it and less time trying to schmooze his way to greener pastures.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
You know Kit could never lay off the high ones. You know Stilwell Angel would do anything for a chocolate bar. You even know that there are no men in this country who haven't seen All-The-Way Mae's goods. But do you know everything about the 1992 baseball masterpiece A League of Their Own? School yourself with our eight little known facts before reliving the rise and fall of the Rockford Peaches on Netflix Instant.
1. Dottie Hinson was originally set to be played by Debra Winger. Winger and director Penny Marshall butted heads creatively (there are also reports that she pulled out when Madonna was cast), so Geena Davis was an 11th hour replacement.
2. Alice Gaspers's grotesque bruise — the one Jimmy Dugan gleefully takes a picture of — is a real injury that actress Renée Coleman sustained during filming. In fact, all the bumps and bruises that ended up in the final cut were 100 percent real. Girls? I'd say we've got ballplayers.
3. Lavonne "Pepper" Paire-Davis, the inspiration for the League's Queen of Diamonds Dottie Hinson, passed away in 2013. She left behind a legacy that includes 10 full seasons in the All-American Girls Baseball League, a memior fittingly titled Dirt in the Skirt, and a really boss nickname.
4. The home of former Chicago Tribue owner Robert McCormick served as Mr. Harvey's mansion in the film. It's now a museum, so you too can saunter around the grounds like Jimmy Dugan. Though, most likely, you won't be quite as drunk when you do.
5. Penny Marshall told Bob Costas on Costas at the Movies that she "wouldn't read any actress" until she'd proved she could play ball. Demi Moore had the skills but couldn't take the role because she was pregnant. "Bruce literally screwed her out of the part," Marshall indelicately put it.
6. A short-lived TV series based on the movie briefly saw the light of day in 1993, with nearly all the roles recast. We loved you in Christmas Vacation, Sam McMurray. But you can't fill Tom Hanks's cleats.
7. Geena Davis has a 140 IQ, meaning that when Doris asks if Dottie is "a genius or something," Davis could have confidently answered "yes."
8. Remember that crackling sexual tension between Jimmy and Dottie? The cutting room floor is home to a few deleted scenes that would have completely changed the second half of the movie, particularly shedding light on Dottie's snap decision to leave the League. Kit is grating, to be sure, but we knew she couldn't have gotten that far under Dottie's skin. What would Ms. Cuthbert have to say about this?
Whatever happened to "the formidable Olivia Pope"? DC's savviest fixer has spent the majority of the last few Scandal episodes in varying stages of cry-face. The show has always moved at a breakneck pace, but, up until recently, she was handling its pressures with grace and confidence. She was in motion too, always staying one step ahead of the "scandal of the week" and doing what had to be done before anyone else even got their bearings. But season three is happening to Olivia. Nowadays, we can't make it through an episode without at least one scene where Kerry Washington, all teary eyes and trembling lips, stands and takes yet another booming, subtle-as-a-ton-of-bricks monologue from one of the men in her life.
In early days, Fitz was painted as Olivia's only weakness. Their dangerous pull towards each other was the one arena where Olivia's usual pragmatism failed to make an appearance. The cycle is this: 1) Fitz demands her presence or her devotion or her body, but usually all three, 2) Olivia announces that he doesn't own her, 3) she gives in anyway, 4) they have a censor-testing love scene, 5) Fitz does something underhanded, and 6) repeat, on and on, forever. There are only so many times a viewer can watch this circle of toxic dependency go down without yelling, "Just get out of there, you idiot!" at the TV.
And now it seems like Fitz is just one of Olivia's pressure points. Or maybe it's their affair that's worn Olivia down. But with the integration of Olivia's parents and their complex backstories, one of fictional DC's most powerful women looks more and more like the little, lost girl. Even her own employees are handling her with kid gloves at this point. Meanwhile, Mellie Grant has withstood enough trauma to make Olivia recede completely into her bouclé car coat and is still standing tall.
It's time for Olivia to resolve her existential crisis and get back to saving the world. Either that, or get out of dodge and move out to Vermont herself.
20th Century Fox via Everett Collection
Disposable income coffers running a little too low to make travel plans? If your vacation is looking less white-sand-beaches-and-umbrella-drinks and a little more cheap-wine-and-a-Snuggie, we've got some movies that definitely won't make you feel like you're missing out. Getting away equals the unknown and the unknown equals (in these cases) sheer terror. Queue up these films and be glad you're safely at home.
The ultimate deterrent to craving a vacation fling, Brokedown Palace gave serious trust issues to a generation of would-be backpacking teenagers. Young and carefree Americans Alice (Claire Danes) and Darlene (Kate Beckinsale) get dreamy over a strapping Austrailian blonde, become his unwitting drug mules, and land in a Thai prison for their trouble. Streaming on Netflix.
The first in Eli Roth's hugely popular horror franchise is basically a cautionary tale illustrating Travel Rule #1:"If it seems too good to be true, it probably is." Hostels aren't full of hot people who want to sleep with you. They're full of mildew and jam bands and, in the worse case, a creepy Dutch businessman with a surgical fetish. Streaming on Amazon Prime.
"I'm sure these people know what they're doing," you tell yourself as you strap into the roller coaster or put on the windsurfing harness or get on the ski lift. But what if someone makes a mistake? Open Water thrives on a very real fear, and it's fear you'll feel in your bones. Streaming on Amazon.
A trip (or getaway, as it were) so ill-advised that it doesn't even last a quarter of the movie. At least we now have TripAdvisor reviews to help us avoid this sort of thing in the future. Streaming on Amazon.
Back to Thailand for Danny Boyle's adaptation of Alex Garland's trippy novel. American tourist Richard (Leonardo DiCaprio) follows some beautiful French people to an island paradise and a community that desperately wants to remain unfound. Things get weird, obviously, because Tilda Swinton is involved. Streaming on Amazon.