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Culture Cafe

Movie, music, and television reviews from a select group of bloggers.

Nick Lachey performs on the 'Today' show in 2013. (Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Nick Lachey set to make debut as host of 'Big Morning Buzz Live'

By Staff writer / 02.28.14

Musician and actor Nick Lachey is set to start a new job as the host of the VH1 program “Big Morning Buzz Live.”

Lachey will begin his duties on the show on March 3 and will take over for former “Buzz” host and “Reno 911!” actress Carrie Keagan, who left the show this past December.

“Buzz” premiered in 2011 and airs live on VH1 on weekdays.

Lachey has served as a host before for the NBC reality competition “The Sing-Off” and the game show “The Winner Is,” which also aired on NBC.

He recently spoke on the ABC program “The View” about his new job as the host of “Buzz.”

“It's me, it's my personality as a host," he said of his behavior on the show. "I think the biggest mistake you can be is to try to be somebody you're not.”

Lachey was a member of the band 98 Degrees, which released their first album in 1997, and released two albums on his own, “SoulO” in 2003 and “What’s Left of Me” in 2006. In addition to starring on the MTV reality series “Newlyweds” with then-wife Jessica Simpson from 2003 to 2005, he appeared on the WB series “Charmed.”

He also recently spoke positively about the decision of some magazines and websites, including People Magazine and JustJared.com, had decided not to publish photos taken by paparazzi of the children of celebrities.

“It takes a lot of courage for them to do that, because their competitors clearly haven’t said that,” Lachey told TheWrap. “They’re potentially setting themselves up to miss out on some potential business, but I think it’s an important issue. I think it’s turning the way it should. I don’t think kids should be the subjects of paparazzi photos.”

He noted that parents like himself who are involved in the entertainment business have made the choice to work in it “and to accept the things that come along with it."

“But, our kids haven’t had that opportunity to make that choice,” Lachey said. “I think it’s unfair to be subjected to photographers in their face and, in some cases, yelling at them. I think celebrity parents are just like any other parent. You want to protect your kids and you want to protect their innocence as much as you can.”

Adam Driver stars on the HBO show 'Girls.' (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Adam Driver: Will he star as the villain in 'Star Wars: Episode VII'?

By Rob KeyesScreen Rant / 02.27.14

Lucasfilm’s first production under the umbrella of Disney begins shooting this summer, and while rumors about story, characters and talent have dominated headlines since the moment Star Wars: Episode VII became official, the floodgates are about to open with real details about who will star in the next adventure in a galaxy far, far away.

Just yesterday we reported on a rumor that had Gary Oldman and Benedict Cumberbatch seemingly locked in for parts, along with Jack Reynor (Transformers: Age of Extinction), adding credence to a report two weeks earlier which had Star Wars 7 mostly cast already. And today, the trades have another name set for a key role in what may be one of the most anticipated and challenging film productions of all-time.

Variety has the scoop that Adam Driver, star of HBO’s Girls, is just about to lock down his deal with Lucasfilm for a lead role in Star Wars: Episode 7 and its followups. He’ll reportedly be playing the key villain of the film and the inside details compare the character he’s up for to Darth Vader. We don’t expect a breathing apparatus or a robot-enhanced voice – we’ve had enough of those after General Grievous -  but we wouldn’t be surprised if he’s of Sith origin.

The Emmy-nominated Driver, 30 years young, has kept busy in Hollywood over the last three years with over a dozen supporting and guest parts in major features including Inside Llewyn Davis, The F Word and Lincoln and is a relative newcomer in the industry. His name isn’t new to headlines on Screen Rant though, having been rumored for the part of Nightwing in Batman vs. Superman, a potential role he flat out denied. Now we know why. Apparently, the only obstacle for Adam Driver joining the super-massive-career-defining franchise was his scheduling commitment not just to the next season of Girls, but future seasons, indicating that Driver’s villainous character is going to be around at least for Star Wars 7-9.

While not yet official, Driver may be one of the first confirmed new castings for director J.J. Abrams’ take on Star Wars. That being said, not even the “big three” of Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill have been officially announced to return yet so Disney may be saving such news until a certain event or until they lock down most of the principal cast.

What do you think – Adam Driver with a red lightsaber or Adam Driver with blue skin as Thrawn? Or neither?

Rob Keyes blogs at Screen Rant.

Keri Russell stars on 'The Americans.' (Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)

Keri Russell discusses the upcoming season of the FX drama 'The Americans'

By Staff writer / 02.26.14

The FX spy drama starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, “The Americans,” is set to debut its second season tonight, and Russell says to expect the new season of the show to focus on more members of a family than just the mother and father.

“If last year was a metaphor on marriage, this year is a metaphor on family,” she told the Los Angeles Daily News. “Philip and Elizabeth start the season with a new kind of unified front with each other. Certainly Elizabeth hasn’t been engaged emotionally before, and I think she has decided this is where she wants to be.”

The show centers on Philip and Elizabeth, a seemingly normal American couple who are actually KGB agents living in Washington, D.C. in the early 1980s. “Americans” also stars Noah Emmerich as their FBI agent neighbor.

'Americans' was critically acclaimed in its first season, with Salon writer Willa Paskin calling the show “gripping” and “wonderfully sly.” 

“’The Americans’ is delightfully cunning, exactly the quality, along with fight scenes and ridiculous disguises, one desires in a spy show,” Paskin wrote.

Russell said she enjoys how her character, Elizabeth, must deal with both the demands of her unusual job as well as the concerns of an everyday wife and mother. The latter comes even more into play this season as Philip and Elizabeth’s daughter, Paige, and Elizabeth struggle to get along.

“What’s fun about the show is that Elizabeth goes on all these spy missions, and then she’s in the car flipping out like a normal mom about something that her 14-year-old girl is doing,” she told the Los Angeles Daily News.

The actress said she doesn’t remember a lot about international relations in the 1980s except for one cinematic aspect.

“I definitely remember the bad guys in all the films being either Russian or East German,” Russell said of the time.

'Godzilla' stars Bryan Cranston (l.) and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (r.). (Kimberly French/Warner Bros. Pictures/AP)

'Godzilla' trailer provides a glimpse into the monster remake

By Sandy SchaeferScreen Rant / 02.26.14

Filmmaker/special effects guru Gareth Edwards broke out with his (very) low-budget post-alien invasion drama Monsters, but he looks to make a much, much larger splash in the Hollywood pond with his upcoming reboot of the Godzilla franchise – a project that fans of the King of Monsters have been buzzing about for the past two years, going back to the conceptual teaser that Edwards premiered back at the 2012 International Comic-Con (to rapturous applause from Con attendees in Hall H).

Few explicit details have been revealed about the Godzilla (2014) story, which is officially credited to Dave Callaham (Doom, The Expendables) and was scripted by Max Borenstein (Seventh Son), possibly featuring some uncredited revisions by Frank Darabont (creator of The Walking Dead TV series). However, based on Edwards’ suggestions that this film is a proper retelling/modernization of the 1954 nature-gone-wrong movie that started it all, it’s safe to assume that the plot has certain humans – soldiers, scientists, etc. – attempting to stop the eponymous giant monster, while others (see: Elizabeth Olsen’s character) are just doing their best to survive the destructive fallout.

We got a taste of that in the teaser trailer, which shows Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Olsen’s husband in the film and her future Avengers: Age of Ultron costar) and his fellow men in uniform jumping from a plane into the war zone that is a city under attack by Godzilla, along with clips of various other people scrambling to stay alive and/or uncover the truth about this unfathomable force of nature.

A newly-unveiled full-length trailer (which you can watch above) goes a bit deeper in detail, revealing more about the characters in this world – like Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), who’s determined to learn the truth about what’s happening, and Ken Watanabe (Inception) as an official who knows all too well about the secret history of Godzilla – as well as the newfound threat(s) that they must face.

Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.

Amanda Seyfried will reportedly star in 'Ted 2.' (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Amanda Seyfried will reportedly star in comedy sequel 'Ted 2'

By Sandy SchaeferScreen Rant / 02.26.14

Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane’s very R-Rated comedy/parody of the western genre A Million Ways to Die in the West arrives this May, though his fans won’t have to wait too long thereafter for his next directorial feature. The MacFarlane comedy sequel Ted 2 is currently scheduled to hit theaters in Summer 2015, with Mark Wahlberg set to return as John Bennett, alongside his “Thunder Buddy for Life” – the CGI walking, talking and misbehaving teddy bear Ted (voiced by MacFarlane, in Peter Griffin mode).

There are neither any official nor heavily-rumored plot details for the Ted sequel right now, though that has less to do with MacFarlane being secretive and more to do with the project still being firmly in pre-production (before filming begins, mostly likely in the summer). Nevertheless, we have a casting update to share, which raises some questions about what will transpire plot-wise in MacFarlane’s next undertaking.

Deadline is reporting that Amanda Seyfried (fresh off collaborating with MacFarlane on A Million Ways…) has been cast as the female lead in Ted 2, while Wahlberg’s costar in the first movie, Mila Kunis – MacFarlane’s longtime collaborator, who also voices Meg on Family Guy – is expected to only play a small role in the sequel (assuming she appears at all). However, in order to stem any gossip about MacFarlane and Kunis feuding in real-life, the Deadline article emphasizes that the pair “remain close” and Kunis’ reduced presence in Ted 2 is simply the result of a “creative decision” MacFarlane has made, with regard to the film’s plot.

Ted concluded with John (Wahlberg) finally shaping up and marrying his devoted girlfriend Lori (Kunis), though that doesn’t necessarily mean the pair will be divorced or separated – or that Seyfried will play John’s new girlfriend – in Ted 2. One alternative potential scenario would be for the sequel to follow John and Ted on a “boys only” trip or vacation, wherein they get up to a variety of misdeeds (something like Seth MacFarlane’s The Hangover, basically), while John ends up dealing with a newfound temptation in the form of Seyfried’s character.

That’s just one possible route for the Ted sequel to take, and there’s a more-than reasonable chance that the movie will head in a completely different direction altogether. Regardless, some narrative along those lines would allow the sequel to continue developing both the bro-mance and the adult-male-coming-of-age aspects featured in its predecessor

Seyfried, for her part, seems to be pretty good at earning laughs, though that’s only based on the few occasions where she has been used in a significant capacity in previous Hollywood comedy vehicles. Indeed, she appears to have a knack for the kind of timing and verbal delivery that MacFarlane’s school of comedy has traditionally demanded.

The trailers for A Million Ways to Die in the West that have been released so far have highlighted Charlize Theron as the straight-(wo)man opposite MacFarlane – in addition to having showcased Sarah Silverman’s raunchy gags and monologues – so it remains to be seen how MacFarlane ended up using Seyfried for comedic effect in his Blazing Saddles-esque comedy – and thus, hint at how she might once again be used to generate chuckles in Ted 2.

Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.

Emma Watson will be one of the presenters at this year's Oscars ceremony, according to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. (Paul Hackett/Reuters)

Emma Watson and Bill Murray: Presenters at the 2014 Oscars

By Staff Writer / 02.25.14

“Noah” star Emma Watson will be one of the presenters at the Academy Awards along with nominees such as Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper as well as other actors including Bill Murray and Kerry Washington, according to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Watson starred in the “Harry Potter” film series as the clever witch Hermione Granger and is set to star in the film “Noah” with Russell Crowe as the title character. “Noah” is set to hit theaters on March 28.

Watson also appeared in the 2012 film “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and the 2013 film “The Bling Ring.”

“Now that Emma Watson has moved on from the “Harry Potter” films, I’m looking forward to seeing this remarkably intelligent actress appear in movies not involving magic and potions and walking through walls,” Monitor film critic Peter Rainer wrote of the actress in his review of “Wallflower.“

’The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ isn’t such a great showcase for her – derived from the popular 1999 novel by writer-director Stephen Chbosky, it’s an earnest indie about a troubled teen, Charlie (Logan Lerman), and his various troubled confederates ­– but it does demonstrate that Watson can stand on her own… Watson doesn’t lose her cool, or her warmth, in a role that might easily have devolved into terminal sappiness.

Recently, Watson served as guest editor of the Wonderland magazine and conducted an interview with “Potter” author J.K. Rowling. The interview shocked some fans with its inclusion of an admission by Rowling that she’d had second thoughts about whether Watson’s character Hermione and Ron Weasley would have been happy together romantically, but Rowling may have soothed some fans by then saying that she thinks the pair “will probably be fine.”

This year’s Oscar ceremony will air on March 2 and finds films such as “12 Years a Slave,” “Gravity,” “American Hustle,” “Her,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” facing off for the Best Picture prize.

Kate Mara stars in 'House of Cards.' Variety reported that Mara has signed on to portray Sue Storm, and Mara herself seemed to corroborate that on her Twitter account. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan confirm 'Fantastic Four' involvement?

By Staff writer / 02.21.14

Has the cast of the “Fantastic Four” superhero reboot been assembled?

Various rumors have been swirling about who would take on each role for the upcoming film from Fox. However, it seems that there are strong indications on who will be playing Reed Richards, also known as Mr. Fantastic, Sue Storm, or The Invisible Woman, Johnny Storm, also known as The Human Torch, and Ben Grimm, who is also known as The Thing.

Variety reported that “House of Cards” actress Kate Mara has signed on to portray Sue Storm, and Mara herself seemed to corroborate that on her Twitter account, writing, “Feeling invisible....in a wonderful way :)” and adding a hashtag of “#FantasticFour.”

According to Variety, "Fruitvale Station" actor Michael B. Jordan is officially attached to portray Johnny Storm. On his Instagram account, Jordan also seemed to confirm the news that he has been cast as Johnny Storm, posting a picture of the Fantastic Four logo with the words “FLAME ON!!”

Variety’s article stated that “The Spectacular Now” actor Miles Teller has received an offer to portray Reed Richards. Recently, when asked if audiences would see him as Mr. Fantastic, the actor told the website Punch Drunk Critics that “that should be coming up in the next few weeks.”

Meanwhile, The Wrap reports that “Jane Eyre” actor Jamie Bell is expected to portray The Thing, citing insiders who know about the casting process. However, there is currently not an official deal, according to the website.

Is the cast in place? Only time will tell. 

The story of the superhero team the Fantastic Four was previously adapted into two films, the 2005 movie “Fantastic Four” and “Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” which was released in 2007. In those previous adaptations, actor Ioan Gruffudd portrayed Mr. Fantastic while Jessica Alba starred as The Invisible Woman, actor Chris Evans (who now portrays Captain America on the silver screen) played the Human Torch, and Michael Chiklis took on the role of The Thing.

Paige Turco is reportedly set to star on a possible 'NCIS' spin-off. The original program stars Mark Harmon (r.) and Sean Murray (l.). (Cliff Lipson/CBS Entertainment/AP)

Paige Turco could reportedly star in New Orleans 'NCIS' spin-off

By Staff Writer / 02.20.14

Actress Paige Turco has reportedly signed on to star on the potential TV series “NCIS: New Orleans,” which will be introduced via an “NCIS” episode this spring.

According to the Times-Picayune, Turco will portray the wife of “New Orleans” protagonist Special Agent Pride, who will be played by actor Scott Bakula.

The seeds of the spin-off will be planted in a two-part episode that will air this spring, according to Deadline. The potential spin-off would then be a possibility to premiere this fall. Actors CCH Pounder of “Sons of Anarchy,” Zoe McLellan of “JAG,” and Lucas Black of “42” are reportedly on board to join Turco and Bakula, according to Deadline.

Turco starred in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II” and “III” as April O’Neil and appeared on the TV shows “NYPD Blue” and “Party of Five.” More recently, she appeared on the FX show “Damages” as well as the CBS drama “Person of Interest.”

Bakula starred on the TV show “Men of a Certain Age” and recently guest-starred on other TV series such as “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Two and a Half Men,” and “Desperate Housewives.”

The original “NCIS” TV show, which stars Mark Harmon, debuted in 2003, itself a spin-off of the CBS program "JAG." It has already spawned one spin-off, “NCIS: Los Angeles,” which stars rapper LL Cool J and “Kinsey” actor Chris O’Donnell and debuted in 2009. Like the plans for “New Orleans,” “Los Angeles” was introduced to viewers through an episode of “NCIS” that aired during the spring. The show was then greenlit for the fall.

“NCIS” usually has stellar ratings, topping TV Guide’s list of the highest-rated TV programs for the 2012-2013 TV season. “Los Angeles” took fourth place on TV Guide’s list, beaten only by “Sunday Night Football” and the CBS comedy “The Big Bang Theory.”

'Son of God' will feature Roma Downey as Jesus' mother Mary. (Casey Crawford/The History Channel/AP)

'Son of God': Producers of 'The Bible' bring their story to movie theaters (+video)

By Staff writer / 02.19.14

First, the stories of the Bible came to viewers’ TV screens last March via the History Channel series of the same name, produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.

Now the life of Jesus, as depicted by the TV show, will be arriving in theaters. The film “Son of God,” produced by “Survivor” executive producer Burnett and Downey (who also portrays Mary, Jesus’ mother), will consist of parts of the “Bible” series as well as scenes that were originally not included in the TV show. The movie will arrive in theaters on Feb. 28. 

When “The Bible” aired last March, it was originally 10 hours long and debuted to impressive ratings. The series premiere beat all the shows airing on major networks when it aired on March 3, and the last “Bible” installment essentially tied in ratings with a new episode of AMC's perennially high-rated show “The Walking Dead.”

“Son of God” recently made headlines when Downey announced that the character of the devil, portrayed in “The Bible” by actor Mohamen Mehdi Ouzaani, will not appear in “Son of God.” Some “Bible” watchers had said they thought Ouzaani resembled Barack Obama, prompting Burnett and Downey to release a statement calling the reactions “utter nonsense.” In addition, the History Channel stated that “it [was] unfortunate that anyone made this false connection.”

Now with the release date of “Son of God” approaching, Downey told the Hollywood Reporter, “It gives me great pleasure to tell you that the devil is on the cutting-room floor… This is now a movie about Jesus, the son of God, and the devil gets no more screen time.”

NBC-TV announced this past summer that it would be teaming up with Burnett and Downey on a sequel to "The Bible."

"Son of God" is the first of several movies with a Biblical theme arriving at multiplexes. On March 28,“Noah,” starring Russell Crowe opens. And the film “Exodus,” in which actor Christian Bale portrays Moses, is scheduled to be released this December.

Cee Lo Green said he will not be returning to judge the reality singing competition 'The Voice.' (Dan Harr/Invision/AP)

Cee Lo Green: Why he's leaving 'The Voice' (+video)

By Staff writer / 02.19.14

Singer Cee Lo Green says he won’t be returning as a judge for the NBC reality singing competition “The Voice.”

Green spoke about his departure during an interview with Ellen DeGeneres airing Wednesday.

“I'm not coming back, guys,” he said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “I’m going to continue my relationship with NBC. I have a television show development deal with them as well and hopefully some other talk show opportunities for later in the year. But yeah, I’m going to miss ‘The Voice,’ too… I just want to … I don’t want to wear out my welcome there. You know what I’m saying? I have so many other things that I want to do. I haven't released an album in four years. I’m almost done with my album.”

Green will be touring with singer Lionel Richie, who also participated in the interview with DeGeneres, this summer.

In a statement, NBC alternative and late-night programming president Paul Telegdy said, “Cee Lo Green has been an instrumental part of the success of The Voice, and we deeply appreciate all his contributions. We’re looking forward to working with him on other upcoming projects that will tap into both his musical and entertainment expertise." 

“The Voice” debuted on NBC in 2011 and is based on the Dutch show titled “The Voice of Holland.” Green, Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine, singer Christina Aguilera, and country artist Blake Shelton served as judges for the first three seasons of the show. Artists Usher and Shakira took the places of Green and Aguilera for season four, then Green and Aguilera both returned for season five. Usher and Shakira are returning for season six, which is set to premiere on Feb. 24.

Carson Daly has hosted the show since its premiere. 

The most recent winner of the show is Tessanne Chin, who was mentored by Levine. Shelton has been the most successful of any coach, with three of his contestants taking the prize.

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