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Culture Cafe

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

Seth MacFarlane will host the Oscars on Feb. 24, 2013.

Seth MacFarlane hosts the Oscars: Excited? Maybe.

By Staff Writer / 10.08.12

On Oct. 1, Academy Awards producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced that they’d found their host for the 2013 Oscars. Seth MacFarlane, creator of long-running animated show “Family Guy” and star of the summer movie hit “Ted,” will lead the ceremony on Feb. 24.

I’m a huge MacFarlane fan – and yet, I said “Hmmm.”

It’s no secret that the Oscars have been trying to rejuvenate the show for the past – well, as many years as anyone’s been keeping track. In an age of audiences going to see what’s on cable rather than the broadcast networks and more independent films dominating at the Oscars, rather than box office hits TV viewers would be familiar with, the minds behind the Oscars have been trying to draw eyeballs with all sorts of tactics. Two years ago, it was the semi-disastrous pairing of Anne Hathaway and James Franco as hosts, who seemed to have the appeal of a younger demographic beforehand, but never really found their comfort zone during the ceremony.

It’s a hard game for the Oscar producers to win. When they tried for the new with Hathaway and Franco, the reviews were negative. When they went for the classic last year and chose multiple-time Oscar host Billy Crystal, some said the choice was too expected and the ceremony needed something new.

So now they have MacFarlane, who strikes a tone in his movies and on his TV shows that’s a little different than that which you might identify with the Oscars. I’m an avid “Family Guy” watcher, but even I don’t like the scene in one episode where three characters vomit for two straight minutes.

Of course, Ricky Gervais, creator of the British version of “The Office,” made viewers sit up and pay attention when he hosted the Golden Globes for the first time in 2010. Awards show hosts will typically gently poke fun at some celebrities in attendance, and the camera will cut to the star in question laughing good-naturedly. Gervais went a little more for the throat. “I like a drink as much as the next man,” he commented at one point. “Unless the next man is Mel Gibson.” When he returned in 2011, he took aim at a movie starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. “It was a big year for 3-D movies,” he noted. “It seems like everything this year was three-dimensional. Except the characters in ‘The Tourist.”

So maybe the Oscar planners are hoping that bringing in MacFarlane, whose movies and TV shows have similarly irreverent senses of humor, will bring some life to the telecast.

I definitely hope so. But I hope that MacFarlane can move beyond his “Family Guy” safety zone to be a host that would appeal to everyone.

For example, he’d come to attention just days before the hosting announcement was made during the Emmys telecast, though accidentally (at least, I assume). MacFarlane strolled out to present an award and began talking, with only one problem – there wasn’t a microphone in front of him. A microphone came up from the floor, but not before MacFarlane had realized his mistake and headed for the one across the stage. Of course, the comedian recovered admirably.

“That’s what you get for missing rehearsal,” he said without missing a beat, using the voice of homicidal toddler Stewie Griffin on “Family Guy.” (MacFarlane is the pipes behind protagonist Peter Griffin, Peter’s dog Brian, neighbor Glen Quagmire and Stewie, among other characters.) Check out the video above.

Was it funny? Yes. Do I ever get tired of seeing MacFarlane slip in and out of those voices multiple times with no visible effort, as he did once for a Hulu commercial? No.

But it did make me wonder if he would have anything else up his sleeve for the Oscars except “Family Guy” jokes.

Being a fan, I’m hoping for the best. “Family Guy” riffs on all pop culture, so with his depth of knowledge, I think MacFarlane would be able to help out his team of writers for the ceremony with jokes about the movies that year that would appeal to the entire audience, not just teenagers and twentysomethings.

And MacFarlane’s an accomplished singer and a lover of musicals – “Family Guy” episodes will often stop dead while the characters act out entire numbers from movies, such as when the Griffin children performed all of “So Long, Farewell” from the film version of “The Sound of Music,” down to every facial expression from the 1965 movie. So maybe MacFarlane will work in a song.

His recent stint as a first-time "Saturday Night Live" host garnered positive reviews, too, with many critics saying that while he was underserved with some of the material for sketches, he appeared loose and ready for anything during the live show.

So hey – either way, it’ll be an interesting evening.

Actress NeNe Leakes is one of the stars of the NBC show 'The New Normal.' (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

NBC orders full seasons: Which shows made the cut?

By Ethan AndertonScreen Rant / 10.04.12

It’s that time of the year when networks see how their new fall shows are faring in the ratings and either give them longer life or bring down the axe. Today NBC has good news for three of their freshman series.

The network has just announced full season orders for Matthew Perry’s comedy series Go On, Ryan Murphy’s family comedy The New Normal and Bad Robot’s sci-fi drama, Revolution.

Starting with the more expensive, high concept series, NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke said:

“We’re impressed with the imagination and creative direction of the entire team on ‘Revolution,’ not to mention the immediately strong response we got from the audience. Ordering the full season of this show is a pleasure. Thanks to J.J. Abrams, Erik Kripke, Jon Favreau, and everyone at Bad Robot and Warner Bros. Television for their dedication to making a truly unique series. And I personally love to escape into a world where there is no power, the phone doesn’t ring, and the pace of life slows down — if only for one hour a week!”

So far Revolution hasn’t blown audiences away, but the characters show some great potential for development, and there’s already an intriguing mystery to keep audiences glued to their TVs for at least one season. Since the end of Lost, only Bad Robot’s Person of Interest and Fringe have been given more than one season on network television. Revolution is at least on the right path.

Go On & The New Normal

Meanwhile, on the comedy side of things, Salke says:

“We’re also very proud of our new comedy block of ‘Go On’ and ‘The New Normal.’ In partnering with Matthew Perry for ‘Go On,’ creator Scott Silveri has created a comedy with a highly original voice that deftly combines humor and emotion. And Ryan Murphy and Ali Adler have created a truly unique family in ‘The New Normal’ that is reflective of the changing dynamics of the world we live in. These shows are both welcome additions to our new lineup!”

The renewal of Go On is good news for Matthew Perry, who has been looking for a solid series to lead for years. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip was a great effort on his part (along with writer Aaron Sorkin), but the lack of real comedy writing within a series based on a late night sketch series really hurt; Mr. Sunshine just didn’t work out for audiences last year. This new show not only allows Perry to do what he does best, there’s a great ensemble of comedic actors like Brett Gelman, Seth Morris, Julie White and John Cho to keep things interesting.

As for The New Normal, the pilot felt like Ryan Murphy trying to bring the edgy humor of Glee character Sue Sylvester to a Modern Family setting. Thankfully, the following episodes have let the series come into its own. Andrew Rannells and Justin Bartha make for a great couple, and Ellen Barkin has pulled back on her theatrical performance a bit. There’s a great progressive family series here, and hopefully the quality in comedy is more consistent than Glee.

Frankly,  it’s just good to see NBC show some confidence in their fall line-up. With The Office officially on its way out, the network can use some solid new comedy, and Revolution will hopefully mark another staple TV series for Bad Robot, rather than one of their forgettable cancellations.

Ethan Anderton blogs at Screen Rant.

'Homeland' stars Claire Danes (l.) and Damien Lewis (r.) both took home Emmys for their roles on the show. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

'Homeland' season premiere ratchets up the tension

By Kevin YeomanScreen Rant / 10.02.12

Whether or not you are of the mindset that Homeland trumps such television darlings as Mad Men and Breaking Bad in terms of cable television drama, it’s difficult to ignore just how taut and thrilling the series can be. Just look at how quickly the series brings things to a boil following a cooling period between seasons with a storyline that jumps forward in time, but manages to feel terrifyingly present in terms of the events in the Middle East and the way the American political machine is built almost entirely on hype.

Some time has passed since last season’s breathless finale, and things have largely quieted down in the respective households of Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis). For one thing, Carrie is living with her father and sister, teaching English as a second language, while Sergeant Brody is now Congressman Brody – and in a ridiculous, yet poignant stab at the insanity of an election year, the potential running mate of Vice President William Walden (Jamey Sheridan). During the transition from increasingly paranoid CIA agent to humble English teacher, and American war hero to effortlessly popular political entity, the common ground that links them, Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban), has largely remained quiet. But, as luck (or the season premiere) would have it, the wheels of the international spy game and of global terrorist organizations never cease to spin.

And therein lies the basic, terrifying tenet of Homeland: In order for either of the series’ main characters to be given their day, something horrible will likely happen. This puts the audience on a permanent state of alert, paradoxically looking forward to a resolution, but knowing it may only be possible through some horrific occurrence.

In the season premiere, ‘The Smile,’ Homeland is primarily concerned with reestablishing where Carrie and Brody have been, and showing how, at some point while the audience was away, both may have found themselves in a place where the thought of continuing on as they were became more distant, and that was largely a positive for them both. Because as each is sucked back into their respective positions, it doesn’t take long to see just how caustic it was for them to maintain such single-minded pursuits – and how, as Carrie later comes to realize, she relished the way that pursuit defined her.

But with no means of interaction, it’s no longer a game of cat and mouse between Carrie and Brody; it’s their pasts hunting each of them. And while, for the time being, anyway, this helps Homeland to avoid falling into the trap presented by its basic premise, it isn’t trying to rewrite how the series works, either. Brody is still very much at the whim of Abu Nazir, being contacted in his new office by a reporter (and fellow Nazir loyalist) named Roya (Zuleikha Robinson), with instructions to pull classified information out of a safe that happens to be in the office of CIA Deputy Director David Estes (David Harewood). And in the first hour, a small notebook left on a desk stands as a testament to just how well Homeland handles tension.

Meanwhile, Carrie responds to a request by Estes for assistance with the kind of reaction one wouldn’t expect, considering the way she was removed from the CIA. While Nazir’s request of Brody is treason, it feels downright simple compared to Estes asking Carrie to travel to Beirut and gather intelligence from the wife of a Hezbollah leader. The work means drudging up painful memories and emotions; it means working with Saul (Mandy Patinkin), and getting information about an imminent attack on America out of a source Carrie kept off the books and hasn’t seen in years. It means everything Carrie sacrificed so much to suppress comes flooding back to the surface once more.

But Brody’s battle is increasingly set at home. His wife, Jessica (Morena Baccarin), has moved past accepting her late husband’s sudden resurrection, and begun enjoying the profile that comes with being the wife of a man whose name is suddenly a hair’s breadth from the presidency. So when Dana (Morgan Saylor) outs him as a Muslim, to the disbelief of her class, but later, again to Jessica – a fact that Brody confirms – it’s clear the truth that separates the two distinct halves of Congressman Brody is beginning to dissolve. And once again, as it is with Carrie, Brody finds himself at war with the person he is now, and who he once was.

Homeland does many things very well, but one of them is the show’s awareness of just how long certain revelations must wait before they’re made known by its characters. Brody’s keeping a lot of secrets from his wife, but this one defines him. More importantly, Jessica’s response makes who she is clearer to the audience. She’s no longer an ancillary character who Brody has to keep secrets from; she’s now an active participant in keeping truths about her husband from the public he serves. The writers know that building tension is great, but sooner or later, if its not released – even in little doses – it has a tendency to go flat. The trick to keeping certain areas of apprehension high is by relieving the pressure every so often.

This, in turn, serves to highlight Homeland‘s ability to give its plots multiple threads to explore, while still managing to pull those threads into a cohesive line by the end of most episodes – that’s no simple feat, as often even the best serialized dramas opt to leave various threads dangling to be picked up (or not) several episodes down the line. The show is also blessed with an abundance of talent that, although it doubles up on two of the more popular forms of television characters right now, e.g., the unreliable protagonist and the morally ambiguous central character, manages to offer something unique and compelling about both. To their credit, Danes and Lewis are equally superb and affecting in their roles.

Most importantly, though, it’s the way Carrie and Brody manage to surprise, even when the audience is given information the CIA doesn’t. Having questions about your characters are the kind of questions a good series wants to have. There’s still plenty we don’t know about Brody and Carrie. And what’s most intriguing is the way both characters are tempted to lead the audience down the road of predictability, but wind up surprising. As Brody proclaims to be something other than what people perceive him as, the same can be said for nearly everything on Homeland.

Kevin Yeoman blogs at Screen Rant.

'Looper' stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt (r.) and Paul Dano (l.). (Alan Markfield/Sony Pictures Entertainment/AP)

'Looper': The ending explained

By Kofi OutlawScreen Rant / 10.01.12

Rian Johnson created quite the sci-fi story with Looper (read our review), and like a lot of good sci-fi stories, there’s plenty left to chew on after the end credits roll. Some people may be confused about the ending of Looper, others about the general premise of the story – while more hardcore sci-fi fans are undoubtedly deep into discussing, charting or perhaps even working on infographics that explain the many time travel logistics (and paradoxes) that must be untangled.

To aid in comprehension and discussion, we’ve created a quick easy-to-read breakdown of Looper is all about. It’s only our analysis, and film is always open to wide interpretation – and like good cinema should do, we have a feeling Looper will keep people talking and thinking for a while. Read on for our explanation of Looper‘s premise, story – and yes, those bothersome time travel paradoxes.

The Premise

In Kansas of 2074, a mob syndicate utilizes a kill system whereby they send victims back in time to Kansas 2044 to be eliminated by hitmen called “loopers,” who are trained and instructed by a future mobster (Jeff Daniels). The anonymous victims pop back in time hooded and gagged and are promptly shot by the waiting hitman, who then disposes of the body and collects bars of silver strapped to the victim’s back as payment. This goes on until the day a looper finds gold strapped to his victim’s back instead of silver, signifying that the anonymous victim is actually the looper himself – or at least who he will be in 30 years. This is known as “closing a loop”; the looper promptly retires and is free to live a life of luxury for those 30 years-  until he will be captured and sent back to the predetermined moment when his younger self kills him.

This is seen as a perfect kill system because:

  1. Law Enforcement in 2074 has no corpse to pin on the mob. No corpse, no crime.
  2. No one in 2044 but the looper is ever aware of the murder – and the looper doesn’t know a single detail about the victim (until it is his older self).
  3. The looper, whose only kernel of knowledge is that he briefly killed strangers for a future mob, ultimately offs the only person in 2074 to witness these killings (himself), leaving NO ONE who can tie the future mob to a crime (no body, no killer, no crime).

-

The Story

Young Joe is a Looper. He’s had a messed up past, no real parents, and had his lessons on life given to him by a man from the future who gave him a gun and taught him to kill. Needless to say, Joe has issues. He drops designer drugs in his eyes all day, frequents prostitutes, etc. But Young Joe also has heart, studies French, dreams of traveling to “better, more sophisticated” places than Kansas, and gets all vulnerable about childhood and parenting with his prostitute lady friend (Piper Perabo)… Somewhere in that stoic hitman there’s a heart – though often it gets buried beneath the selfish ambition to “get his” in life, no matter what the cost.

When Old Joe (Bruce Willis) arrives, Young Joe is confronted by a possible version of himself that understands the world much differently; Old Joe (as seen in montage) has been down the path Young Joe is fighting so fiercely to go down – Old Joe knows how empty it ultimately is, until you find love. Real love. Old Joe had it for a brief stint of time until his past came back to haunt him (Loopers’ deaths are predetermined, remember?) and cost him the love of his life, as well. Old Joe is fighting for love – and he too wants to “get his,” no matter what the cost.

To Old Joe, the person responsible for taking what was his is someone named the Rainmaker, who is basically the all-powerful telekinetic Hitler of 2074, controlling everything in society from the government to the citizenry to the mobs and their operations. Old Joe’s intel (flimsy as it is) states that it was the Rainmaker who called for the retired loopers to start having their loops closed wholesale – and therefore was responsible for shattering Old Joe’s happiness. Old Joe’s plan, therefore, was to infiltrate the past, locate the Rainmaker (based on hospital records) when he is a young boy, kill him, spare himself (and, you know, maybe the world) a lot of darkness and heartache. Only, Old Joe has three names on a list (flimsy intel) – three children – who could be telekinetic Hitler, and therefore he must kill all three. Old Joe’s ambition for personal satisfaction is clearly exponentially worse than Young Joe’s.

Young Joe lands on a farm owned by Sara (Emily Blunt), a low-level telekinetic who is mother to a genius-level (and frighteningly powerful) telekinetic child named Cid (Pierce Gagnon), who will CLEARLY one day be the Rainmaker. Young Joe has that vulnerable side and heart opened up by the hard-luck story of Cid and Sara – especially Cid, whose story of violence and loss at a young age is so much like Young Joe’s own story. Even when Cid inadvertently blows up a gatman (Garrett Dillahunt), and Young Joe knows this kid is telekinetic Hitler, the compassion he sees Sara showing her son, and the effect it has, marks for Young Joe the difference between becoming men like him (and baby-killing future him), and possibly becoming what Young Joe secretly always wanted to be: a better kind of man.

However, murder-spree Old Joe is too far gone to turn back. When he finally tracks Young Joe to Sara’s farm, it becomes clear that Old Joe’s selfish ambition is the exact incident that ironically enough creates The Rainmaker; in Old Joe’s timeline (more on that later), rumor has it that as a boy, the Rainmaker saw his mother murdered by a looper and had part of his jaw shot off: horrific acts Old Joe nearly commits.

But Old Joe’s alteration of time means that there’s a possibility for more than one path – so when Young Joe finds himself in a moment where his violent ways can’t save the day, he makes a choice to not be like Old Joe and actually give up his all-important ambition to hold on to “what’s his.” He removes himself (and all the bad Old Joe’s done) from the equation by killing himself, thereby possibly sparing a lot more people times of pain and darkness under the Rainmaker’s reign (presuming Cid grows up to be a healthier, nicer, all-powerful guy).

Time travel stories are tricky; there always seem to be loose ends left dangling, and/or connections that don’t quite add up. Looper, unfortunately, suffers this problem as well.

The biggest issue, as always, is the multiverse factor: if a guy from the future comes to the past and starts mucking with history, it either A) creates a separate timeline that runs parallel to the original one (allowing for two versions of history), or B) The actions in the past forever alter the flow of a single timeline, allowing for just one version of events. Looper plays fast and loose with this time travel mechanic, at times relying on both single timeline and multiverse timeline approaches to push the story forward.

For example: Old Joe still existing after he meets and affects Young Joe shows that multiple timelines are possible – but tricks like Young Joe carving messages in his arm that show up on Old Joe as scars would have us assume that there is one timeline that wherein the fate of one Joe is directly tied to the other. Johnson gets by the issue via vague expositional throwaways such as Old Joe’s memory – is it being revised by his actions in the past? Or is he open to remember several versions of history? (Sorry, no clear answers –  it’s too cloudy to say for sure!)

However, a few minutes of thought reveal a lot of paradoxical problems woven into this plot:

Old Joe & The Rainmaker

The biggest thing to address is the paradox involving Old Joe’s mission to stop the Rainmaker (Cid). Looper shows us a montage of Joe’s life in which Young Joe in fact unwittingly kills Old Joe out in the cornfields, and goes on to live what he thinks will be his happy, post-looper life – only to become the drug addict gun-for-hire (and eventual lover) that is Old Joe. Old Joe then jumps back to the past to change this course of events, and the movie we witness is therefore the alternate timeline where Old Joe escapes his execution.

…However, the movie hints (in the diner scene with young and old Joe) that Old Joe’s heinous actions in the past are what push young Cid to become the fearsome “Rainmaker.” As we see in the climax of the film, Old Joe’s crazed mission forces Young Joe to kill himself to save Cid –  but this is a paradox.

If The Rainmaker exists in Old Joe’s future timeline, it suggests that Old Joe’s baby-killing mission in the past was predetermined to happen. So then how could there ever be a version of events where Old Joe was executed by Young Joe, and Young Joe goes on to become Old Joe?

Even if Old Joe had fulfilled his destiny (killing Sara, disfiguring Cid), Young Joe would have been aware of his older self’s actions and been changed by them – he wouldn’t become the Old Joe we saw in the montage, because the exact thing that would’ve made Cid the Rainmaker would also change Young Joe forever (the presence of Old Joe).

Bottom line: Old Joe’s timeline where both he and the Rainmaker co-exist is a paradox. A version of history wherein Old Joe kills Sara and creates the Rainmaker is also a paradox. Old Joe cannot be the origin of the Rainmaker as we are told he is.

In a climatic moment, Young Joe (via voiceover) describes seeing an unending cycle of time travel violence that creates monsters like the Rainmaker and Old Joe – and the only way to break it is suicide. A noble speech, noble idea, good plot twist and intriguing thematic arc… but it doesn’t hide the fact that there is a big gaping paradox at the center of the movie.

Young & Old Seth

This tangential subplot to the film actually raises quite a few paradoxal issues. Similar to Young Joe, Young Seth (Paul Dano) fails to kill his older self. Old Seth goes on the run until Kid Blue (Noah Segan) and the gatmen capture Young Seth and surgically amputate him as a means of incapacitating Old Seth.

Here again, we get a muddled version of timeline mechanics: If history is one timeline, then Old Seth should have instantly seen the amputated changes to his body the moment he escaped from Young Seth; the fact that limbs disappeared one at a time suggests multiverse possibility (Young Seth loses one finger, but there’s still alternate possibilities wherein he keeps the other nine, etc.). But if we’re talking multiverse theory, the Old Seth we see shouldn’t be affected by the amputations – it should be some alternate Old Seth of an alternate timeline who suffers that fate.

That’s not to mention the sheer number of future events that would have been altered when Young Seth is left incapacitated; start thinking about the Butterfly Effect and your head is liable to explode.

The Two Joes

Like the Seths, the paradoxal nature of Looper’s time travel story is seen in the two Joes. Simply put: it’s impossible for these two Joe’s to both exist and have a connection whereby Young Joe can leave scar messages in Old Joe’s skin, or Old Joe is clouded with Young Joe’s memories. Again, the movie shows us that Old Joe comes from a particular timeline, and that the Young Joe we meet is living in a now alternate timeline, where Old Joe’s actions steer him down a very different path.

In single timeline theory, Old Joe should’ve suffered a Back to the Future vanishing act the moment that Young Joe turns any one of the emotional corners he does in that second act of the film on the farm (bonding with Cid, falling for Sara, realizing he could one day become a baby-killer, etc.). Young Joe had already started down a path of emotional growth and change, meaning he could never become the Old Joe we meet – yet when Young Joe kills himself, poof! Old Joe is gone as if they are directly tied to one another. Either Old Joe should’ve reflected the emotional changes in Young Joe (which would’ve prevented him from baby killing ) – OR, Young Joe’s suicidal act shouldn’t have affected Old Joe, sinceOld Joe would’ve been from an alternate timeline.-

We could go on and on like this, but we would inevitably find ourselves arriving back at the same conumdrum: time travel theory: you just can’t have it both ways. Looper crafts a very good story out of a wild sci-fi premise, and while it dodges a lot of its own potholes scene-to-scene, when viewed from a distance its clear that Rian Johnson has not yet cracked the time travel movie conundrum.

Kofi Outlaw blogs at Screen Rant.

Chevy Chase (r., with Steve Martin) said he regretted passing on many film projects, including 'Ghostbusters.' (Diane Bondareff/Invision for Starky Foundation/AP)

Chevy Chase harsh on sitcoms, unimpressed by Louis C.K.

By Ethan AndertonScreen Rant / 09.28.12

Chevy Chase has had a lot of disparaging words to say lately. Following his feud with Dan Harmon, the creator of Community, Chase hasn’t been able to say many praiseworthy things about the show. In fact, it seems like it’s very difficult to impress him anymore – at least in the comedy realm.

Sadly, the Saturday Night Live veteran and star of National Lampoon’s Vacation and Fletch continues the trend with some choice conversation topics including a negative opinion of sitcoms (in general), his lack of interest in Community, and even touches on a few projects he regrets passing on in his career.

Huffington Post UK (via THR) spoke with Chase, and the most prominent topic is, as expected, Community. After all, it’s the only project he’s currently working on, and more often than not, despite the show’s passionate fanbase, the actor continues to have disparaging things to say about the show. This time was no different as Chase didn’t just complain about the time commitment, he outright insulted the TV sitcom medium:

“The hours are hideous, and it’s still a sitcom on television, which is probably the lowest form of television. That’s my feeling about it. I think the reason I have stuck around is because I love these kids, the cast — they are very good. It’s not like I am working with the great innovators of all time.”

Those are some harsh words for an actor who (arguably) didn’t have much going on before the comedy series came along. It’s one thing to not be a fan of where the series you’re starring in is headed, but it’s another to completely call-out sitcoms as a whole. At least he has respect for the people that he appears on screen with in each episode.

All right, so sitcoms aren’t necessarily Chase’s cup of tea. That’s fine. But what about the realm of stand-up comedy? That arena is something that Chase might be more open to talking about with kinder words. In the interview, Chase was asked about one of the most popular and respected comedians working today: Louis C.K. His response was lukewarm:

“Yes, I’ve seen Louis C.K. I wouldn’t in any way make a degrading remark about Louis C.K., but the question is do I think anyone is funny? And the answer is not too many people. He might fit right in there.”

As many readers know, Chase was a staple on Saturday Night Live decades ago, and is responsible for a number of fan-favorite skits. So the actor has to think some things are funny, right? If he’s not impressed by someone like Louis C.K., then who would Mr. Chase like to work with in the future? That honor goes to comedy veteran Albert Brooks, and Chase would love to do a movie with the Drive star (who will next be seen in This is 40 from Judd Apatow). Chase says:

“I don’t know how or what type of movie or how that would go, but I always enjoy him because I think he’s got a wide perspective on human behavior that a lot of other comedians don’t have, and quite frankly, there aren’t too many comedians who make me laugh.”

At least Chase has an idea of his future after the seemingly inevitable cancellation of Community, but what about his past? Chase has plenty of projects that regrets turning down. Though, most of those regrets seem to stem from missing out on big paychecks – not the enjoyment of making a great film:

“I turned down Forrest Gump, I turned down American Gigolo, there are many films — like Ghostbusters — that I turned down … the first one I did was Foul Play with Goldie Hawn, but I turned down Animal House — I turned that down. So all those I regret only because they made huge amounts of money and I would be very wealthy, but I don’t regret working with Goldie, I don’t regret the projects that I did do.”

Given all of the frustrations that he seems to have, a strong case could probably be made for Chase regretting his choice to do Community. Meanwhile, it’s hard to imagine the Ghostbusters 3 writers would have been able to please Chase’s high bar for comedy. Then again, if his concern is a paycheck (as he seems to indicate), maybe he’d do the sequel in a heartbeat.

Frankly, hearing some of Chase’s comments is hard. Audiences have a lot of respect for the man who started with such a lucrative comedy career, but he doesn’t seem to really enjoy his place in the business anymore. Hopefully his next project is more akin to his comedic tastes so the actor and his fans can both be happy.

Ethan Anderton blogs at Screen Rant.

'Sons of Anarchy' creator Kurt Sutter (l., with 'Anarchy' star Katey Sagal) says, 'It’s not a death that will happen in vain' of the character recently killed on the show. (John Shearer/Invision/AP)

'Sons of Anarchy' creator explains the shocking death in the newest episode

By Anthony OcasioScreen Rant / 09.27.12

By the end of last night’s episode of Sons of Anarchy, fans were left in shock as SAMCRO was forced to sacrifice one of their own to Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau), leaving Jax’s (Charlie Hunnam) longtime ally, Opie (Ryan Hurst), to be brutally murdered in prison. To help answer some of the viewer’s questions surrounding Opie’s death, series creator Kurt Sutter revealed why he decided to kill of the fan-favorite character, and how this major death will impact the rest of season 5.

Speaking with the press this morning, Sutter spoke about when he decided Opie’s fate; why Opie had to die; how Opie’s death will impact the series forever; and what’s going to happen in the rest of season 5, as a result.

Even though the death of Opie’s father, Piney, came as a shock in season 4, Sutter had already plotted out the death of Jax’s best friend by the end of season 3. Needing a way to set Jax’s character on a different path, Sutter decided to use Opie’s life as the lynchpin.

I started thinking about it towards the end of season three, and then I think it all came together with the death of Piney last year. I got to the end of the season and realized that there was this circular dynamic that was happening with Jax and Opie that was very difficult to get out of.

As we came into this season, knowing where I want to take my hero…Jax needed that emotional upheaval, that one event that happens in a man’s life that can change the course of his destiny, and I think the death of his best friend is such an event.

Every death on Sons of Anarchy is memorable, and Opie’s is no different: taking on a gang of men, besting many, and then falling from a deathly blow to the head. While graphic deaths are always memory, Sutter’s intent was more earnest:

I wanted Opie to go out a warrior, with nobility and a sense of protecting the people [he still loves].

I don’t do things arbitrarily or just for shock value. I think there’s a sense of how deeply committed I am to the show and to the fans as well…I do think that there is a sense of [the fans] understanding why it happened and where it will go.

Continuing, Sutter had a message to fans who might be upset about Opie’s death:

What I would say to them is that yes, it’s incredibly sad, but the death of Opie will color the rest of the episodes for the rest of the series. It’s not a death that will happen in vain.

Jax will be greatly influenced by the death of Opie, and perhaps that loss, that emptiness, will color him throughout the rest of the season.

Since the beginning of the series, Opie has always been a positive support for Jax – even if he was only recently made aware of everything that was going on. Now that this element has been removed from Jax’s world so painfully, it’s reassuring to hear that the repercussions of this event are great.

Even so, the death of Opie also impacts any direct comparison that the series has with Hamlet. Even though Sutter has always mentioned that Sons of Anarchy is only loosely based on the famous William Shakespeare play, the comparisons up until now have been pretty direct. The only problem is that Opie’s counterpart in Hamlet doesn’t die in the play.

Without giving away any Hamlet spoilers (something that hasn’t been said since the 1700s), Opie’s counterpart in the play serves to be the chronicler of everything that occurs in Hamlet’s familia struggles. Now that Sutter has made this turn, who knows what other tweaks he’s made to the iconic plot, and who may now be saved (or doomed) because of it.

Right now it looks like Sons of Anarchy might be bowing out of the major death game for a bit, focusing more on the emotional struggle that Jax is facing, and the decision’s he’ll have to make to secure the future of SAMCRO. Still, it is Sons of Anarchy, so there’s always a chance for more blood.

Anthony Ocasio blogs at Screen Rant.

'Last Resort' stars Andre Braugher (second from right) and Scott Speedman (third from left). (Courtesy of ABC)

'Last Resort': Is the premiere worth watching?

By The TV Addict / 09.27.12

Premieres: Thursdays September 27 at 8 p.m. on ABC (Global in Canada).

In A Nutshell: When the captain of a submarine opts to question unconventional orders rather than fire nuclear weapons on Pakistan, a chain of events is set in motion that leads to a standoff between the ship’s crew, their country of origin and the natives of an exotic island.

Names You’ll Know: Andre Braugher (HOMICIDE) brings an air of gravitas (tinged with just a soupcon of crazy) as the renegade captain, Marcus, and Scott Speedman (who will forever be Ben to FELICITY fans like us!) plays First Officer, Sam.

What They Say: Creator/Executive Producer Shawn Ryan (THE SHIELD, TERRIERS) calls RESORT a “big budget, very huge, monstrous-scope show.” He adds that it is “not a show about war but… a show about people in a time of crisis. So in the same way that Casablanca and Gone With the Wind… were personal character stories about people in the middle of crisis, that’s what we’re hoping to do in a weekly series.”

What Others Say: James Poniewozik of Time.com wrote of the first episode, “This is how a pilot should work.”

What We Say: This may be the bravest, most intriguing, thought-provoking show of the fall season. The action kicks off fast and furious… which is both a good and bad thing as we’re introduced to a literal boatload of characters and their issues in no time. And yet the second Braugher begins bucking the system, you’ll be fully invested as the tension ratchets higher and higher. If there’s a phrase to describe this show, it’s unrelentingly macho… which is rather refreshing. If there’s a concern, it’s with regard to the time slot. Will viewers really tune in for such heavy material at 8 p.m. on a Thursday night?

Mila Kunis (center), Seth MacFarlane (l.) and Mark Wahlberg (r.) all starred in 'Ted.' (Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

Would Mila Kunis return for a 'Ted' sequel?

By Sandy SchaeferScreen Rant / 09.25.12

Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane’s Ted was a surprise strong success at the box office, taking in some $395 million worldwide while racking up solid reviews from critics and casual moviegoers alike. The Jeremy Renner-headlined Bourne spinoff, The Bourne Legacy, has proven to be somewhat of a disappointment by comparison – with a series-low $182 million global take on a $125 million budget, as well as a more lukewarm reception than its predecessors.

Universal, however, knows there’s still life in the Bourne name – especially if Matt Damon returns for a future installment – so the studio still plans to make Bourne 5 and beyond. A Ted sequel (we’ll call it Ted 2 for now) looks to become a reality for $imilar reasons.

NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke has announced (via THR) that Universal Pictures is focused on increasing its animated feature output, following the success of such films as Despicable Me and The Lorax – that is, in addition to putting an increased emphasis on developing and maintaining live-action franchises from hereon out. Hence, Burke says the Bourne franchise will live on; meanwhile, he and his fellow studio executives plan to jump-start development on Ted 2 “as soon as we can.”

Before Bourne Legacy hit theaters, series producer Frank Marshall announced that future Bourne installments will follow Renner and costar Rachel Weisz’ characters – while teasing that the door remains open for Damon to reprise his role as Jason Bourne in Bourne 5. Chances are good that Universal will make a very strong push for that (re: offer Damon a sizable paycheck), as his return would help ensure that Bourne Legacy‘s trend of diminishing returns doesn’t continue.

Here is an excerpt from our interview with Damon, where he addressed the idea of him teaming up with Renner’s ex-government assassin in Bourne 5:

“You know, if they had a script, I mean I’d love it… If there is a great movie to be made, then we can figure it out beforehand and then go make it, the way you always do. You know what I mean? But nobody’s ever come forward with that script, so we’ll see. I mean I want to do it, but we’ll see. We’ll see what happens…”

Damon’s commitment to Bourne 5 would help ensure the project gets greenlit sooner, rather than later; similarly, there’s one man who needs to sign a deal in order to get Ted 2 going as soon as possible – and that’s MacFarlane. Of course, the latter is known for milking his television cartoon creations (Family Guy, American Dad!, The Cleveland Show) for all they are worth – and then some – but that does not guarantee he’s interested in doing likewise with his first feature.

Ted works as a standalone comedy about letting go of your childhood (literally), but the high-concept of a foul-mouthed living teddy bear could arguably sustain itself for at least one more movie. Similarly, while Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis could feasibly return for a sequel, it’s not necessary – given that their respective characters would, once again, play second fiddle to the titular star of the show (voiced by MacFarlane).

Moreover, not bringing Wahlberg and Kunis back could open up Ted 2 to feature even more crass antics, raunchy humor, and Family Guy-style pop culture jokes from MacFarlane’s furry onscreen alter ego; on the other hand, though, that could also result in the sequel lacking any semblance of an emotional core.

How about it, readers – are you interested in Bourne 5 with or without Damon? Does Ted 2 sound like a good idea, with or without the human stars of the first film? Do one, both, or neither of these sequels sound interesting?

Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.

Jessica Lange took home an Emmy last night for her performance in 'American Horror Story.' (John Shearer/Invision/AP)

Jessica Lange and other Emmy winners: Check out the full list (+video)

By The TV Addict / 09.24.12

Outstanding Comedy Series

MODERN FAMILY

Outstanding Drama Series
HOMELAND

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie
GAME CHANGE

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Kevin Costner, HATFIELD & MCCOYS

Outstanding Directing in a Miniseries or Movie
Jay Roach, GAME CHANGE

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Julianne Moore, GAME CHANGE

Outstanding Writing in a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special
Danny Strong, GAME CHANGE

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Tom Berenger, HATFIELDS & MCCOYS

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Jessica Lange, AMERICAN HORROR STORY

Outstanding Variety Series
THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART

Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series
Glenn Weiss, 65th Annual Tony Awards

Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series
Louis C.K., Live at the Beacon Theater

Outstanding Lead Actress, Drama
Claire Danes, HOMELAND

Outstanding Lead Actor, Drama
Damian Lewis, HOMELAND

Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series
Tim Van Patten, BOARDWALK EMPIRE

Outstanding Supporting Actress, Drama
Maggie Smith, DOWNTON ABBEY

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff, HOMELAND

Outstanding Supporting Actor, Drama
Aaron Paul, BREAKING BAD

Outstanding Host for a Reality TV Competition Series Program
Tom Bergeron, DANCING WITH THE STARS

Outstanding Reality Competition Program
THE AMAZING RACE

Outstanding Lead Actress, Comedy
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, VEEP

Outstanding Lead Actor, Comedy
Jon Cryer, TWO AND A HALF MEN

Outstanding Lead Actor, Comedy
Jon Cryer, TWO AND A HALF MEN

Outstanding Direction for a Comedy Series
Steve Levitan, MODERN FAMILY

Outstanding Supporting Actress, Comedy
Julie Bowen, MODERN FAMILY

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
Louis C.K., LOUIE

Outstanding Supporting Actor, Comedy
Eric Stonestreet, MODERN FAMILY

The TV Addict staff blogs at The TV Addict.

Tracy Morgan (r.) pulled a prank with Emmys host Jimmy Kimmel (l.) in which they tried to convince those who weren't watching the show that Morgan had collapsed onstage. (John Shearer/Invision/AP)

Tracy Morgan prank falls flat, but other comedians kept the Emmys entertaining

By The TV Addict / 09.24.12

The Good: Despite what much of Twitter would have you believe, the majority of last night’s winners were generally of the deserving variety. True, MODERN FAMILY (Outstanding Comedy Series), THE AMAZING RACE (Outstanding Reality Series) and THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART (Outstanding Variety Series) may not have been the most exciting or original of choices, but the continued excellence they deliver on a season by season basis won’t have us joining in on the chorus of complaining. Also not irking us, at least in terms of winners, were the trifecta of statuettes for Showtime’s fantastic freshman entrant HOMELAND (Which walked away with Outstanding Drama and Lead Actor and Actress for Damian Lewis and Claire Danes respectively), anything related to Woody Allen’s heir apparent Louis C.K. (Multiple winner for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special and Comedy Series) not to mention Lena Dunham’s lack thereof (Thankfully, stripping down on screen in HBO’s GIRLS only gets you invited to the show, not up on stage!). Other winners (not literally of course) from last night’s ceremony include comedians Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Amy Poehler, who not only showed they’re good sports when it came to losing gracefully, but were some of the few stars in attendance to remember that they’re supposed to be entertaining a vast global audience sitting at home not just those lucky few sitting in front of them. Which brings us to…

The Bad: The Producers of the Emmys really need to decide who this show is for: Is the purpose of it to entertain an audience numbering the hundreds inside a very hot auditorium, or the millions watching at home? We only ask, because if Jimmy Kimmel’s disappointing cold open featuring a bevy of female funny-women and a very naked Lena Dunham didn’t turn off viewers who don’t live in New York or Los Angeles, numerous jokes at Mitt Romney and the Republican party’s expense sure did. And while Kimmel deserves credit for keeping the show moving at a surprisingly brisk pace and peppering it with a few memorable one-liners (“Being a Republican in Hollywood is like being a Chick-fil-A sandwich on the snack table at GLEE.”), his negatives far outweighed the positives. His personal “In Memoriam” was both unfunny and tasteless, while his desperate (albeit successful) attempt to turn the show into a trending topic on Twitter by using Tracy Morgan as a prop fell flat. In short, we simply expected more from the smart and likeable personality that has spent the better part of this past decade carving out a nice niche for himself in late night. Equally disappointing were the evening’s speeches. Traditionally any award show’s highlight thanks to their unpredictable nature were, last night’s winners — with the exception of MODERN FAMILY’s Eric Stonestreet and HOMELAND’s Claire Danes — self-congratulatory and self indulgent in nature. In fact, the only thing more upsetting than the misplaced value the show put on clip packages (Reality! Comedy! Drama! Message: Please Watch Television) was that after thanking agents, managers, writers, friends and family, recipients pretty much uniformly failed to acknowledge the real reason they are up on stage: Us viewers at home!

The Ugly: Twitter last night, that kind of self congratulatory career achievement should be saved for the People’s Choice Awards), the biggest failure of last night’s show was one of our own. Each and every year we watch this show in the hopes that somebody, anybody will have learned something from the many many mistakes of show’s past by delivering an entertaining experience. Yet here we are, once again, sipping coffee on a Monday morning wishing we could get those four hours back!

The TV Addict staff blogs at The TV Addict.

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