April 19, 2014

Articles By: Fred Topel

Fred Topel has been an entertainment journalist in Los Angeles since 1999, for websites like Daily Radar, About.com, Crave Online and Sci Fi Wire. Follow his celebrity encounters on Twitter @FredTopel.

New TV Show Review: “Up All Night” on NBC

HollywoodNews.com:Up All Night feels like a show that’s quickly becoming a completely different show than was originally intended. They’ve already tinkered with the pilot and it seems like the new angle is the show they really want to make, but right now there are still remnants of the original pitch.
Christina Applegate, Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph star in this wacky take on a modern couple raising their newborn. Regan Brinkley (Applegate) goes back to work, while Chris (Arnett) stays home with baby Amy. Rudolph plays Ava, the host of the talk show Regan works on. The talk show was a change. They previously has Ava as a Hollywood agent, so they reshot scenes to make her a talk show host. I believe they now want to make the Maya Rudolph talk show show, but they’ve already committed to this baby show.
The show has some irreverent observations about the chaos of child rearing. Maybe they even have a few episodes’ worth but honestly, that’s not a series. It’s a pilot, it’s maybe a movie, but I’m not setting a DVR to make sure I don’t miss a single joke. I’m guessing by November it’s all about the Ava show.
The best contribution Up All Night makes to the baby comedy genre is Chris and Regan’s excessive swearing over Amy’s cuteness. Chris accidentally says, “Babe, worry, we can’t totally do that.” But it’s the only time he betrays his true thoughts. We’ve seen women forcing their tight skirts on before. Matt Lauer talking to Regan on the TV suggests possible meta detours, but that’s the only time anything like that happens.
I can’t really fault the show for playing with the same baby fears, because they are universal. Regan feels guilty going back to work, and Chris gets confused in the supermarket, but Applegate and Arnett play it up.
Regan and Chris are a really nice couple. She doesn’t get mad when she comes home. In fact, Regan adores Chris’s sloppy way of doing chores. Sleep deprivation makes them intense but in a light, silly way. It’s nice that they just have fun with the stress rather than make it mean.
Chris trying to make guy friends with other stay at home dads addresses the modern phenomenon, but they can’t do that every week. Pretty soon he’ll just be the guy in the background who says, “So, how was Ava today?”
So [...]

New TV Show Review: “Free Agents” on NBC

HollywoodNews.com:I love Hank Azaria. He does my favorite voices on The Simpsons and I love how he transforms into characters. I even loved him on Herman’s Head. He makes so much doing The Simpsons, he really doesn’t have to do anything else, so if he agreed to do another TV show, it must be brilliant material, right?
It is with deepest regrets that I inform you that Free Agents is not the vehicle Hank Azaria deserves. In the opening scene, Alex (Azaria) and Helen (Kathryn Hahn) are post coital. A little awkwardness is to be expected, but they just talk too much and it’s not clever. Alex’s analysis of Helen’s condom stash and her defense of it turns out to be the most clever part of the show.
They both work at a PR agency and the whole staff is desperate for laughs. Every male in the office makes immature sex jokes, and by immature I mean not the cool kind of immature like Beavis and Butthead. Rather, it’s the “look how edgy we are saying this in prime time but not quite using bad words” kind. The boss (Anthony Stewart Head) kind of gets away with it because he’s British.Alex’s assistant Emma (Natasha Leggero) is so sassy it’s even too much for him. Her character trait seems to be that if she just talks fast enough it’ll be funny.
I suppose now should be the time to explain this isn’t just a show about the awkwardness of sleeping with a coworker. Helen is grieving a dead fiancé and Alex is going through a divorce. Alex actually wants to have a relationship but Helen is the one resisting. She actually takes him to buy a new wardrobe and she wants to have a safeword in case they get romantically confused.
Free Agents is so busy with people chiming in, though adding nothing, it’s obnoxious. This is actually a show that needed the reactions of a studio audience and the rhythm of that format. It is not right for the 30 Rock style. Azaria and Hahn actually do have chemistry. They could be the next Moonlighting in a better scenario.
The pilot only shows two scenes of actual PR work, so I can’t wait for the weekly development of their spin doctoring. By which I mean that part of the show hasn’t totally sucked yet, so maybe there’s a chance one scene per week [...]

New TV Show Review: Ringer on The CW

HollywoodNews.com: Ringer is the Face/Off of TV shows. It’s got a concept that should be ridiculous, yet it’s explored so interestingly you actually believe it. And when it commits at this level, you just want to see what they’ll do next.
 
Bridget (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is a recovering addict about to testify as a witness to a murder. She evades her security detail led by Victor Machado (Nestor Carbonell) to find her sister, Siobhan (Gellar). There are some good shots of two Gellars in one frame, along with reverse shots of a blonde double with her back to the camera. That won’t matter moving forward though because Siobhan kills herself and Bridget sees the opportunity to take over Siobhan’s life.
 
You could do a show just about a twin adapting to her double’s life. Bridget has a learning curve on being Siobhan. Siobhan’s husband Andrew (Ioan Gruffudd) notices Bridget’s thinner. She doesn’t know Siobhan’s boss Gemma (Tara Summers) and forgets her schedule but everyone in Siobhan’s life gives her a pass.
 
Ringer doesn’t stop there though. Every act break has a soap opera-y twist, but it’s cool. Siobhan’s lover Henry (Kristoffer Polaha) macks on Bridget at a gala. It’s like a “Da dah daaaaah” moment but it really is crazy for this poor recovering addict trying to run from a mob hit by impersonating her twin sister. I mean, she has a lover too? Give a girl a break!
 
The twists are crazy enough that I want to see how Bridget gets herself out of them. I’m going to spoil it because it makes the show sound cooler, but Siobhan was pregnant. Bridget’s not. How’s she going to pull this one off? That means by May sweeps she’s going to have to fake an abortion or a miscarriage, unless the writers have something even crazier in mind. She probably can’t even wait until May, so we’re looking at November maybe!
 
Some of them stretch credibility, but come on. If we’re watching the twin swapping show, we’re in it for the long haul. Machado comes to interview Siobhan. I think a good cop would notice a Parent Trap style switcheroo, but I’ll go with it.
 
Bridget wants to turn Siobhan’s family around. Andrew thinks it’s weird that his bitchy wife is acting all sweet. Bridget’s sure to contradict some Siobhan canon at some point.
 
There are already enough twists in the pilot that just working them out [...]

New TV Show Review: The Secret Circle on The CW

By Fred Topel
HollywoodNews.com: The Secret Circle is a solid CW show about teen witches. The folks who like The Vampire Diaries will find it comparable. TVD is really the highest quality vampire show or movie of the current crop, and with even less competition in the witch genre, Secret Circle is also tops.
Cassie Blake (Britt Robertson) goes to live with her grandmother in a town where witches try to recruit her. The first episode will explain to you how the six families need to combine to use their full powers and control them safely, but Cassie resists. She discovers her power in the first episode though, so she’ll probably progress from putting out other witches’ fires (literally) to embracing her power.
The show opens with some Final Destination stove fire and leaking faucet action that kills Cassie’s mom. The powers can be that big, like a storm later in the episode or Faye (Phoebe Tonkin) setting Cassie’s car on fire. They can also be as subtle as Nick (Louis Hunter) opening the blinds Cassie shut.
So far the witches seem more like telekinetics. I guess creating fire and rain is controlling the elements, but mainly they make locks stick shut or lights turn on. Since they explain they need all six for full powers, the powers may get cooler. With only Cassie and Adam (Thomas Dekker), they make water drops float in a pretty effect.
I do like the practical manipulations like Faye walking by boats on a pier and all their lights shut off. Just tweaking our real world feels more magical than CGI, like when all the cabinets opened in The Sixth Sense.
There’s going to be a deep mythology of family and town secrets, and many of the characters are trying to get Cassie to follow their plan. Diana (Shelley Hennig) is the nice friend, also Adam’s girlfriend. Principal Chamberlain (Natasha Henstridge) is also Faye’s mom. Ethan (Adam Harrington), Adam’s dad and Charles (Gale Harold), Diana’s dad seem to have had history with Cassie’s mom.
Everyone comments how pretty or beautiful Cassie is. I think that’s sweet. People should be nice and complimentary. I know it’s probably going to turn out that they’re some evil cult and admiring her for their sacrifice, but I like the positivity even if it’s delivered as creepy.
I’m not into witches myself but I respect a show that does a respectful job for its audience. I like [...]

New TV Show Review: The Playboy Club on NBC

By Fred Topel
HollywoodNews.com: Well, The Playboy Club seems right on board with Hugh Hefner’s decades-old mandate that a magazine with naked pictures of women isn’t about sex or exploiting women. I agree with Hef, but it’s not enough for a TV show. Just as Playboy magazine is soft porn, The Playboy Club is soft drama. It can be fun, but it’s no Mad Men, which is exactly what it’s trying to be.
 
NBC’s new hour long period piece sets the stage well. Carol-Lynne (Laura Benanti) is on stage performing a musical number. Those swing time covers of old hits could be big downloads. Not Glee big but the jazzy doo wop is even better for sophisticated tastes. Benanti is fantastic. They get a soul band in the second half of the hour too, and a good Tina Turner impersonator. The bunnies shake it on the dance floor too.
 
The stage entertainment looked great, but lots of clubs had great acts. I still don’t get the point of The Playboy Club? Did you meet girls from the magazine? That would be something I guess. I mean, I don’t expect a brothel, or even a strip club, but just to be served cigarettes and drinks by women with ears and tails? God, men were lame in the ‘50s.
 
The bunny outfits are cute and the modern day actresses sure look nice in those old styles. The guys wear suits and slick hair. Nick Dalton (Eddie Cibrian) is the lawyer and man with a plan. He’s no Don Draper, but he’s married to Carol Lynne because he read her article in the first issue of Playboy. Get it? He read it for the articles!
 
Maureen (Amber Heard) is a doe eyed admirer of Carol Lynne and a newbie cigarette bunny. It’s a shame she gets involved in a cliché crime subplot, because her cliché All About Eve storyline is at least more natural. Even if guys did get rough at the Club, Maureens’ got a lame self defense murder cover up plot. I’d rather just see a show about a night at the Playboy club each week. Even if it doesn’t go raunchy or dark, was it at least a fun place to go or work?
 
The character with by far the most interesting storyline is Alice (Leah Renee Cudmore), whose closeted innuendo speaks volumes about important themes of then and today. Billy Rosen (David Krumholtz) is [...]

New TV Show Review: Whitney on NBC

By Fred Topel
HollywoodNews.com: I don’t know a whole lot about Whitney Cummings’ standup. I’ve seen her on a roast and I imagine she’s edgy and vulgar. It doesn’t really matter because I don’t get a sense of any persona from Whitney, the generic sitcom based around Cummings.
The Whitney of Whitney is both a sarcastic klutz and a loving girlfriend, just in case she wasn’t likeable enough. She and Alex haven’t gotten married yet even though they’ve been dating three years, because all sitcoms now are about crazy modern relationships where people take time to get to know each other and have careers. Although Whitney is referred to as a “photographer girl,” we don’t see her doing her job, at least not in the pilot.
In the pilot, Whitney and Alex go to a wedding where she embarrasses herself and learns to worry that they’re not having enough sex. Then she tries to seduce Alex but takes role playing too literally and Alex randomly gets hurt. It’s really irrelevant anyway because the show seems insistent on lame set-up/punchline jokes. A laugh track would make it ironic, but they’ve got an actual audience following the instructions to laugh on cue.
Whitney wants to wear a hoodie to the wedding and Alex suggests she might as well just wear overalls. Because a hoodie is not fancy, but then overalls would be even less appropriate. Whitney concedes but it’s also important to her that she gets credit for winning this fight, because there’s such a battle of the sexes going on. Also, men who hold purses are whipped, couples in their first year are euphoric, bitter divorcees get drunk, and Whitney’s mom needs 7 parrots and 7 therapists so 14 pets or people are telling her she’s great.
Meet the supporting characters. Lilly is so oversexed in her budding relationship with Neil, she poses for provocative photos and admits to doing kegels in public. Roxeanne brings her own alcohol and drinks out of the bottle, because she doesn’t care anymore. Mark is the horndog cop who considers any reference to wood sexual. He hasn’t evolved to “That’s what she said” yet.
The dialogue is really lazy. One character does something embarrassing and the other points it out. Only instead of “Too much information” Whitney may say, “I did not need to be CC’ed on that.” That’s an e-mail joke. After Whitney’s final wedding faux pas, [...]

New TV Show Review: 2 Broke Girls on CBS

By Fred Topel
HollywoodNews.com: Well, here’s another sitcom that’s not funny. 2 Broke Girls is the story of Brooklyn waitress Max (Kat Dennings) teaming up with former trust fund baby Caroline (Beth Behrs). They’re so mismatched it’s got to be hilarious, right?
Max’s first line is a boob joke. Normally I love boobs but when it’s just “stop looking at my boobs” that seems like it’s just calling more attention to them. Max tells off obnoxious customers, and even though she’s right, it makes her pretty unappealing. I do not find aggressive sarcasm hilarious, so this may not be the show for me.
 
Caroline gets a job at the Williamsburg Diner so Max has to train her, demonstrating how Caroline’s never had to do basic work before. Caroline is sweet and she’s trying, so at least she’s not obnoxious about it. The jokes are how rich Caroline used to be and all the names she drops. Also on the subway Caroline mistakes an innocent gesture for rape, so yeah, rape jokes!
 
Other characters in the diner: Earl (Garrett Morris) the cashier who will chime in with an inappropriate reference to Stephen Hawking or Duke cheerleaders. Can you believe he went there? Earl will make puns like Vladimir Puttin It Out. The owner of the diner is Han Lee (Matthew Moy) who changed his name to Bryce and still speaks like English is his second language. Oleg (Jonathan Kite) the cook is the horndog.
 
Max moves Caroline in and the former rich girl doesn’t know what to make of aBrooklynapartment. Max’s boyfriend Robbie (Noah Mills) seems like he’ll be a wacky character with his kooky band mates but I think they got rid of him in the first episode.
 
As a second job, Max also babysits an upscale family’s twins, named Brad and Angelina. Their mom Peach (Brooke Lyon) is even more out of touch than Caroline. She’s selfish just HEARING about the Channing ponzi scheme and she doesn’t know that babies need to be changed at least twice a day.
 
At the end of the pilot, Caroline comes up with a plan to open a bake shop. They’ll need $250,000 and the episode ends with their current total. So I guess each week will be some moneymaking scheme or just hard working double shifts and the crazy shenanigans that go on at the diner.
 
The final gag with the horse is a pretty funny visual and makes [...]

“Glee” Stars On Their 3D Movie And Season Three!

HollywoodNews.com: Can’t wait until the new season of Glee starts? You can see the Gleeks at the movies this summer in Glee: The 3D Concert Movie. 3D cameras filmed a performance of the cast’s world tour, and this weekend the movie version opens in theaters. The entire cast of Glee shared their thoughts on the concert performance and the upcoming third season of the show.
There may be more music on the Glee 3D dvd!
Lea Michele: “There was a lot of different versions of the concert. Sometimes we do songs and some nights we maybe weren’t feeling particularly well so we’d take one song and put another song in. It’s constantly changing.”
Mark Salling: “As long as my version of ‘I’m a Little Teapot’ got in there.”
The actors had to stay in character on stage:
Lea Michele: “We got to shoot these really fun little backstage things with Ryan Murphy where he was interviewing us in character. I guess some of us on stage, if they wanted to really embody their characters, they did. I feel like I did a nice blend of Rachel and of Lea while I was on stage performing, but we are in our characters. At the same time, when we walk on stage, we’re ourselves.”
Darren Criss: “It was hard. I definitely blew it a couple times, up in San Francisco making shout outs to my parents. Blaine’s probably never even been to San Francisco. When we were in Ohio we should’ve been really excited but I couldn’t tell you what city Dalton is in.”
Chris Colfer: “I had to be in character. You have to just leave yourself at the door sometimes because there was no way I could do ‘Single Ladies’ every night. Leave yourself behind. Kurt takes over.”
On stage, all your favorite Glee songs are bigger!
Kevin McHale: “It was more so that we had so much space to work with, because normally we don’t get that much space and you have to more let loose. It wasn’t a concern for us to cover it because there’s a lot of us so it was easy to cover the whole thing. It was nice to be able to actually do dance and have a lot of room to do the moves.”
Dianna Agron: “Although every now and then there would be an explosion. A rogue explosion and you’d be like, ‘Oh, that was really close!’ Lea saved me once. There [...]

“Twilight” Producer On “Breaking Dawn” Pirate and MPAA Rating!

HollywoodNews.com: Wyck Godfrey, producer of the Twilight movies presented his new TV show Revenge to the Television Critics Association. Afterwards, I pulled him to the side to ask about the latest on Breaking Dawn and landed an exclusive scoop.
Readers know that Bella’s birth scene will be difficult to show on screen, because of the graphic descriptions of vampire labor. Godfrey said that director Bill Condon has a solid cut of the scene that should land a PG-13 from the MPAA.
“I have seen numerous cuts,” Godfrey said. “I think that process is taking place right now. We don’t have any word yet on the rating but I think we’re going to be okay. We’re releasing it PG-13 and it’s incredibly powerful already. It definitely captures what the book captures.”
Breaking Dawn has been split into two parts in order to fit as much of the book as possible into the movies. Part one should not run any longer than Twilight, New Moon or Eclipse though.
“We’re very close to locking picture on part one,” Godfrey added. “It’s about what the other three are, about two hours. I haven’t seen an assembly for Part 2, so we’ll start to get into it in December.”
The piracy case has been big news for Summit, but Godfrey clarified that his job is to focus on finishing the film. However, he supports the studio’s effort to hold the pirate accountable.
“It’s very important for people to understand that when you hack into people’s private e-mails and private systems to steal material that is not yours, that you’re going to get punished. It’ll work itself out. What happens with this, the material already got out. There’s nothing we can do about that. I do think it’s about just sending a message that in this day and age, you can find that stuff out through your own computer systems and experts who can track that stuff.”
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 opens November 18.
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Meet the New “Charlie’s Angels”: Rachael Taylor, Minka Kelly and Annie Ilonzeh

HollywoodNews.com: ABC introduced the new Charlie’s Angels to the Television Critics Association today. Rachael Taylor, Minka Kelly and Annie Ilonzeh play the new trio who’ll be solving mysteries each week, following in the footsteps of the ‘70s series and blockbuster movies. Here’s your dossier on your three new Angels.

Rachael Taylor as Abby
Abby was a rich girl who became a thief before Charlie recruited her. Taylor avoided previous incarnations of Charlie’s Angels to make Abby her own. “I haven’t seen the original show but I did that for a reason,” Taylor said. “It’s important to respect the incredible legacy of Charlie’s Angels. It’s quite an iconic label. I take that with gratitude and I take the passing of the baton quite seriously. For actors, it’s always important to do something fresh. It’s important to do an incarnation of Charlie’s Angles that’s appropriate and befitting of this time. I didn’t want to get in the pattern of trying to repeat anything tonally.”
Fans may know Charlie’s Angels to be full of action and sexy girls, but the main tradition they kept is the friendship between the three girls, and Bosley (Ramon Rodriguez). “That’s the most important thing I think about the show and what I’m most proud of,” Taylor said. “I love the action stuff and certainly it’s high octane and exciting. The viewers will be satisfied on all those levels but there is a genuine chemistry and warmth between the four of us. You can’t fake that. It bleeds onto the screen. That’s why we’re part of something special. We like each other.”

Minka Kelly as Eve
Eve is the newest Angel. An orphan, Eve grew up a loner and has her own skills to bring to the trio. “I think I have a lot in common with her,” Kelly said. “I am an only child and was raised by a single mother. We moved around a lot. I also understand what it is to create your own family. I’m attracted to that aspect of the show, making these girls and Bosley my family. I think there’s a lot of guys and girls who have that in common with Eve. It’s one of the many things I find to be very relatable to people and why it will be really enjoyable to watch, along with the eye candy and it all being so beautiful to watch, there’s a lot of depth and emotion [...]

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