NBC Universal Media
When Jimmy Fallon joined the late-night talk show race, his relentless positivity and genuine interest in every single guest, from teen queens to multiple Oscar winners, stood in stark contrast to the cranky competitiveness that pervaded that landscape. On Feb. 24, fellow nice guy Seth Meyers trades his Weekend Update desk for one at Late Night and the scales tip further. TV just got a lot friendlier, post-Primetime.
Jay Leno signed off of The Tonight Show on Feb. 6... for the second time. The Leno/Conan O'Brien hand-off debacle raised a lot of hackles. Even the usually congenial O'Brien let his anger and disappointment be known in the documentary Conan O'Brien Can't Stop. Over on CBS, David Letterman seems to be increasingly uninterested in learning anything about his guests, sometimes drawing the line at their names. Now Fallon and Meyers join Craig Ferguson in the small club of hosts unimpeded (at least outwardly) by long-term grudges, blood feuds, etc.
Academy Award producers reacted to the backlash to Seth MacFarlane's hosting performance by replacing him with the kind and almost wholly uncontroversial Ellen DeGeneres. And now, the late-night pendulum is swinging back the other way too. As much fun as it's been to spend night after night after night with uber-rich comics oozing equal amounts of hubris and self-loathing, audiences have responded to Fallon's role as a good-natured fan who can show off while letting his guests show off too. Can we count on Seth Meyers to exude the same perpetual glee as Jimmy, with just a tad more snark? And, more importantly, who will be the Timberlake to his Fallon? We're hoping it's Amy Poehler. We will also accept Bill Hader, in character as Stefon.
Who do you think will reign late-night as the "King of Nice"? Seth or Jimmy? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
Walt Disney via Everett Collection
B.J. Novak hasn't been resting on his laurels since Dunder Mifflin closed up shop last year. The Office writer and star was seen this winter in Saving Mr. Banks as a composer trying anything to impress P.L. Travers. And now he's making the rounds with his new book of short fiction, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories. On Feb. 6, he took to Reddit to to talk about his past and future projects and, predictably, answer lots of questions about his best friend, Mindy Kaling. Here are the highlights (unfortunately, Novak veered away from most questions about The Amazing Spider-Man 2):
On going to high school with one of his Office co-stars (John Krasinski):"I sometimes think that if I were to wake up and it turned out The Office was all a dream, the fact that John Krasinski was in it with me would be what I'd realize afterward should have been the obvious tip-off. 'Oh! And John Krasinski was in it, too! But they called him Jim! And there was a beet farmer... Whoa, so weird.'"
On the future of Ryan Howard's social media empire:"This is the perfect place to announce that WUPHF has been updated and now links not just to your home phone, cell phone, pager, fax machine, and home phone, but now includes Reddit as well. Wuphf your friends!"
On his B.F.F. on The Office set:"I was closest with Mindy Kaling, and also least close with Mindy Kaling, on a minute-by-minute basis. And I wouldn't trade it for the world. Actually, I would trade it for the world. What am I talking about: I'd trade it for a more consistently positive relationship with Mindy Kaling. She's the best."
On Mindy's deepest, darkest secret:"She shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die."
On comedy versus drama:"One thing I learned from The Office is that the line between funny and dramatic is paper-thin (no pun intended) and often non-existent. If you ground a performance in truth, it can be both as funny and as dramatic as can be. I think no one embodied that lesson better than Steve Carell."
On his Inglourious Basterds experience:"The only stressful part was when we'd all go out drinking after a day on set, and I'd ask Quentin Tarantino a question, and he'd start to answer, and I'd feel this enormous pressure to remember every single syllable because film history was literally being dictated to my brain, and I was the only witness, and I was two drinks in and feared I wasn't going to remember a sentence that a friend or historian would ask me for someday."
On living with Ryan Howard's frosted tips:"It horrified people. One of my comedy heroes is Bob Odenkirk, who I idolized from Mr. Show. I ran into him & had a twenty minute conversation before I realized I should mention that my hair was for an arc on The Office. 'Oh,' he smiled. 'I thought you were just a total douchebag actor.'"
On "Ryan started the fire!":"Late in the run of the series, when we discussed how it all might end, one of many crazy suggestion we batted around was that Ryan burns Dunder-Mifflin to the ground and it turns out he'd been a pyromaniac the whole time. We were pulling a lot of late nights when that got pitched."
On being a voice-work expert:"My role in The Smurfs and Smurfs 2 was essentially to record a handful of different variations of "Whoooa-ooooa-oaaaa-oa! My muffins!!!" So perhaps I am not the best person to answer this question."
On writing for the boss:"My favorite character to write for was quite simply Michael Scott. Steve brought such humanity to the role that you could write him to these incredible extremes and he would play them in the most believable ways. Also, he had these beautiful blind spots to his logic that were inimitable. He was almost brilliant in the ways he could be foolish: he walked this incredible blurred line between the two."
On workshopping One More Thing like a stand-up:"I'm terrified of boring people with my writing, or of being pretentious or just wasting anyone's time...The best advantage I had was the ability to get people to come to a theater and see my work in progress, which was something I knew from standup. So, I read the stories. I knew when one wasn't working, and when one was, and why, and when. Audiences can't lie. Polite laughter sounds very different from real laughter, and genuine interest looks really different from fake interest."
ABC Television Network
For as long as Scandal has been entertaining us with nutty plot twists, censor-straining love scenes, and absurdly unethical politicians, the two older children of Fitzgerald (Tony Goldwyn) and Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) have stayed at boarding school and above the fray. They should probably remain there.
We were getting used to the oft-mentioned Jerry and Karen as perpetually unseen characters in the grand tradition of Maris of Frasier and, of course, Ugly Naked Guy. There's something so brilliantly old-school about characters who only exist through anecdotes.
But we've all got to come home some time. And according to TV Line, teenage Jerry and Karen will be doing just that in episode 15 of this season. As much as we appreciate new characters for adding even more turns to Scandal's twisty plot, we can live without watching Fitz and Mellie's drama ruin the lives of their poor offspring. And, make no mistake, the kids' visit with their parents won't be without drama. The news of their casting comes soon after the revelation that Jerry, the oldest, might actually be the product of Fitz's father raping his daughter-in-law. Jerry might come for a visit just to learn that his dad is actually his brother. Next stop: emotional trauma. Just another day at the office for Scandal.
Even without that awful family secret to contend with, Jerry and Karen will surely have a host of other dysfunctions to endure. Will Fitz and Mellie use the kids to wage war on one another? Most likely. Will dad's former colleague and current mistress drop by in a fabulous ensemble? Almost definitely. We're sure the food isn't great at that school of yours, kids, but it can't be worse than jumping head first into your parents' toxic playground of mind games. Stay in your dorm rooms and barricade the doors.
Comedian, actor, habitual marathon runner, and possibly the future Mayor of London, Eddie Izzard is the quintessential Renaissance man. With his newest stand-up special Force Majeure out on DVD and a U.S. tour coming up in the spring, Izzard took to Reddit to answer questions from his international army of fans. Here are a few of our favorite bits:
On being an "executive transvestite":"I don't call it crossdressing anymore. I believe it is my right, under the United Nations Charter, to wear whatever I want, whenever I want to. But I also want to act in better and better roles, in dramas, in film and television. So I can be in boy mode or girl mode or somewhere in-between. And I'm somewhat tactical about whether I am in boy mode or girl mode. But I am still a card-carrying British European transvestite."
On his political future:"I haven't decided yet what policies I will have regarding London. It is still six years away. But what I would say is that I will bring all my energy and drive and inventiveness to the job of being Mayor of London, if I was fortunate enough to be elected."
On piloting the TARDIS:"No, I have never been asked to play Doctor Who, but thank you for considering me. I think it would be an intriguing idea."
On why he was the perfect choice to play a serial killer in Hannibal:"I have always had a theory that playing a psychotic character is an interesting fit for someone who was known to do comedy. I think that doing comedy is seen as somewhat psychotic as well."
On what would have happened if The Riches hadn't been killed by the writers' strike:"I saw Wayne Malloy maybe tending to become a false preacher. I thought that would be an intriguing play for him to go, as there are a number of people who pretend to be with their gods but seem to just be in it for the money. So I thought that would be an intriguing place to investigate in our show. But overall, I felt the family would go through a lot of hell and then eventually I saw Wayne going to prison, and Dahlia going off with the kids - in an inverse way, what happened at the beginning of the series."
On stand-up success:"A friend once told me, 'You have to do a hundred gigs.' It is good advice. Until you've done a hundred gigs, you won't have developed your voice."
On the ultimate question: Cake or death?"It has to be cake, I suppose."
The Weinstein Company
If all had gone according to plan, the Princess Grace biopic Grace of Monaco would have been released in the U.S. in time for Thanksgiving weekend 2013 and star Nicole Kidman might be an Oscar contender in this year's race. But the highly anticipated film has had more than its share of scheduling issues.
ScreenDaily reported in October that the real stalemate behind the delays is between Harvey Weinstein and director Olivier Dahan. Dahan told French newspaper Liberation that The Weinstein Company, who owns the film's U.S. distribution rights, was demanding a "sanitized" final cut. Their opinions are so starkly opposed that the director referred to there being two different Grace of Monaco films: "his and mine." Weinstein's version clips 22 minutes off of Dahan's.
A year after Weinstein first began talking up the film, Grace of Monaco will open the Cannes Film Festival in March 2014, The New York Times reports. But it's been pulled again from its scheduled U.S. release, last listed as March 14. No new date has been announced. Dahan may be keeping control of his final cut, but possibly at the expense of getting his film into American theaters.
Buena Vista Pictures
Victor Hugo's epic novel wasn't the most likely source material for Disney romp. Despite a gorgeous score, The Hunchback of Notre Dame was hobbled by its subject matter. Too dark for kids, too sanitized for adults who know what really happens to Esmeralda in the end, Hunchback is a strange beast in studio's animated tradition.
Now it will receive new life in a stage production at the La Jolla Playhouse in California. With music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, the musical features tunes both from the movie and written specifically for the stage. This staging may be brand new, but the musical actually has a long history. Der Glöckner Von Notre Dame ran for three years in Berlin, where everyone is pretty okay with dark and depressing. Esmeralda and Frollo both bit it in the German production, deviating from the Disney rewrite.
The King's Academy in Florida was the first theater to mount an English adaptation of the German show, cutting a few deaths, however. (Watch a clip from that production below.) Still, the stage show was reviewed as much more solemn than the animated film. With the new La Jolla production, presented in "special arrangement" with Disney, the work might find new balance between honoring its source material and pleasing theater-going families.
FOX Broadcasting Co.
After one fist-clencher of a finale, the recent Sleepy Hollow casting news is pretty darn interesting. What to make of the fact that John Noble and Lyndie Greenwood are now series regulars? Warning: spoilers for the first season abound below.
Now that Abbie's sister Jenny Mills seems to be a permanent part of the show's Scooby gang, Greenwood's new slot is less surprising. The growing closeness of the sisters seemed to spell certain doom for Jenny, so we're just thrilled she made it out of the season finale alive. And, unless the show's creators are trying to fake us out and destroy us emotionally, she'll also survive the Season 2 premiere and the resolution of that merciless cliffhanger. Looks like the other Miss Mills will be around to assist Abbie and Ichabod in their defense against the dark forces of Sleepy Hollow for quite a while.
What's really interesting/disturbing is the permanent placement of John Noble. His character — the man we knew as Henry Parrish — was revealed in the two-part finale to be not only Katrina and Ichabod's son Jeremy, but also the Second Horseman. (A must-add to our list of scariest Sleepy monsters.) And once he made his Bond-villain-style confession, Jeremy buried his father alive and trapped Abbie in a giant, creepy dollhouse. We don't know how our heroes will make it out of their respective prisons, but we now know that Jeremy won't be completely vanquished anytime soon. Then again, we're talking about Sleepy Hollow here, so let's not rule out body-switching or talking corpses or any other method of keeping Noble around while still getting rid of the bad guy.
What do you think this casting means for the second season of Sleepy? Leave your predictions in the comments.
Chris Hardwick has fashioned quite a nice career for himself by celebrating his geeky inclinations. And on Monday, Jan. 27, he played host to the reunion of the favorite troupe of many a comedy nerd: The State.
The episode of @midnight started with three comic contestants, just like any other — this time, The State veterans Michael Showalter, Kerri Kenney-Silver, and Michael Ian Black. As they off-handedly insulted their “absent” or possibly “dead” friends, each one of them popped up in the studio. Soon, all eleven members of group were on stage.
The venue makes sense, since Hardwick and The State are all survivors of '90s MTV and must have crossed paths in the hallways a few times. And that makes this episode of @midnight essential viewing for anyone who stayed up late to catch Singled Out or Black and Thomas Lennon as Barry and Levon, rubbing their butts in “$240 worth of pudding.”
If this is the jumping off point for a larger scale reunion, we now know what to expect. We'll get to hear our favorite catchphrases, for sure. Showalter was cut from the game first and reacted as his most famous character, disaffected teen Doug, certainly would have. ("I'm outta heee-reee.") And Ken Marino cut right to the chase when he was introduced, letting us know exactly what he wanted to do with Louie's famous ping pong balls. Joe Lo Truglio will probably wear a tux, as he has been ever since Brooklyn Nine-Nine won a couple of Golden Globes. And the comics will continue trying everything they can to make each other laugh. In the final round, when the contestants threw joke after joke at their straight-faced former costars, Michael Ian Black pointed out that it looked a lot like a The State pitch meeting.
For the love of Barry Lutz and everyone down at the Porcupine Racetrack, let's hope that this little get-together was a sign of bigger things to come.
NBC Universal Media
Against all odds, Community is still on our televisions, laptops, and handheld devices. But as we settle in to this unlikely season five, we're doing so short two members of the original study group. For two weeks in a row, Greendale has been more bittersweet than usual as we said our goodbyes to Pierce Hawthorne and Troy Barnes. Both had their moments, but which episode provoked more tears?
In "Cooperative Polygraphy," Walton Goggins shows up as the executor of Pierce's will. The conditions Pierce outlined demand that his friends be hooked up to a lie detector and asked a series of questions clearing them of his death before they get the goods. The questions are typical Pierce in their feather-ruffling, and Jeff chastises the group for letting Pierce get their goat even from the dead. Of course, things turn sappy when the inheritances are doled out. Remember that iPod Nano we found out that Britta would eventually own in season one episode "The Art of Discourse"? Pierce left it to her, "filled with music to take life less seriously by." But it was his hereforto unspoken admiration of Shirley and "her strength of character" that really got us. Still, the ghost of Chevy Chase's rocky history with the show loom over the episode, and it feels like we already made peace with Pierce's absence long ago.
"Geothermal Escapism" followed, and Donald Glover's final Greendale adventure took the shape of a campus-wide game of "The Floor is Lava." So much more lovable and loved than Pierce, Troy Barnes is going to be missed by the entire group. But without question, this episode is about the break-up of one of TV's greatest bromances — nay, one of TV's greatest friendships: Troy and Abed. (In the mooooorning!) As usual, Danny Pudi makes excellent work of Abed's struggle to express the emotions that he feels so strongly. He sees the floor as lava because Troy is leaving and he can't let go. As the two are wont to do, they come up with a game that helps them navigate their feelings. And really, who didn't shed a few when Clone Troy and Clone Abed hugged it out? Without question, Troy's final episode takes this one.
The White House/YouTube
"Is it 'Total Crackpot Day' again?"
President Bartlet's Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman was never a huge fan of "Big Block of Cheese Day," but his real life counterpart is helping the White House promote its virtual version of this populist tradition. Bradley Whitford and his costar Josh Malina teamed up with White House Press Secretary and known West Wing geek Jay Carney for this clip.
On Wednesday, Jan. 29, White House officials will take to social media to answer questions from the public. It's a digital take on President Andrew Jackson's famous open houses, wherein he invited the people to visit for open conversation with their country's decision makers as well as a wholesome dairy snack. West Wing fans know "Big Block of Cheese Day" as Chief of Staff Leo McGarry's baby, which most of his staff loathed because they were forced to interact with some determined and passionate constituents. Most memorably, C.J. Cregg met with a young and idealistic Ron Swanson; Nick Offerman played an environmentalist asking for the construction of a "wolves-only roadway."
No promises of a meeting with Sam Seaborn, but having a real "Big Block of Cheese Day" is a small victory for those of us who just can't let go of the dream of a Bartlet White House.