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Culture Cafe

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

An 'Avatar' prequel would be released after 'Avatar 2' and 'Avatar 3,' according to director James Cameron. (Reuters)

'Avatar' prequel will come after 'Avatar 2' and '3,' says James Cameron

By Sandy SchaeferScreen Rant / 09.10.12

Sigourney Weaver mades waves when she announced that James Cameron plans to shoot three Avatar sequels as a single massive undertaking. However, producer Jon Landau recently clarified that the Avatar 4 will be filmed separate from its peers (assuming it is made at all).

Cameron has since revealed that a fourth Avatar movie (again, should it happen) would take on the form of a prequel to his original box office record-obliterating 3D sci-fi epic. Meanwhile, Landau’s playing down speculation that Cameron intends to spend the rest of his days making Avatar films – by suggesting that Cameron’s long-awaited Battle Angel/Battle Angel Alita adaptation will finally come to fruition once the Avatar trilogy has been finished.

MTV picked up the above-mentioned Avatar 4 tidbit during an interview with Cameron, who reiterated that he’s only working on the scripts for Avatar 2 and 3 at the moment. Cameron admitted he’s penning the sequel screenplays as “one big thing”; however, he has also mentioned in the past that new Avatar movies help to complete a three-part story arc set in motion by the original installment – focusing on the further adventures of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) on Pandora, now that his consciousness has been permanently “locked down” into his Na’Vi avatar.

The filmmaker had the following to say, about a prospective Avatar prequel (ie. Avatar 4):

“I haven’t really put pen to paper on it, but basically it goes back to the early expeditions of Pandora, and kind of what went wrong with the humans and the Na’vi and what that was like to be an explorer and living in that world. Because when we drop in, even in the first film in ‘Avatar 1,’ as it will be known in the future, we’re dropping into a process that’s 35 years in to a whole colonization.”

Cameron made it known that he does not plan to follow in George Lucas’ footsteps with the Star Wars franchise – by producing three prequels to compliment his original blockbuster trilogy – rather, once the Avatar trilogy has been finished, “The only thing left to do is go back to see what it was like on those first expeditions [to Pandora] and create some new characters that then become legacy characters in later films. It’s a plan.”

Once Cameron is through exploring the Avatar universe, it sounds as though he plans to move onto other projects. Some five months ago, he made it known that a Battle Angel adaptation is something he still plans to tackle in the future – and Landau confirmed as much to MovieZine, saying:

“We’ll focus on ‘Avatar’ for the next four or five years. Hopefully right after that… I am confident you will see [a 'Battle Angel' movie].”

Many Battle Angel fans have been excited by the prospect of Cameron lending his technical prowess and storytelling abilities to a live-action adaptation, but have grown increasingly frustrated by the project’s lack of progress. Nonetheless, Landau indicated that both he and Cameron remain committed to seeing the film through:

“It’s one of my favorite stories, I think it is an incredible story, a journey of self-discovery of a young woman. It is a movie that begs the question: ‘What does it mean to be human? Are you human if you have a heart, are you human if you have a mind, are you human if you have a soul?’ And I look forward to bringing that film to audiences.”

The Avatar sequels are currently without concrete release dates, but Avatar 2 is expected to reach theaters by 2015.

Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.

'Community' stars Gillian Jacobs and Yvette Nicole Brown talk season four

By / 09.07.12

As if free health care, all-you-can-eat poutine and a Tim Hortons on every corner weren’t reason enough to want to drop everything and visit the Great White North, Netflix Canada recently announced that COMMUNITY seasons one thru three are now available for streaming in their entirety. How do we know this you ask, well aside from being a longtime Netflix Canada subscriber (DAMAGES FTW!), we recently had the pleasure of chatting one-on-two with series stars Gillian Jacobs and Yvette Nicole Brown, who were only too happy to dish about their favorite episodes, behind-the-scenes antics and what life is like at Greendale in a post Dan Harmon world.

With COMMUNITY now available on Netflix Canada, is there a specific episodes, or a favorite one that you’d recommend newbies start with?
 Yvette Nicole Brown: Since Netflix Canada is streaming all three seasons, I would suggest that you start at season one, wouldn’t you say Gillian?
 Gillian Jacobs: I think our first stand out episode would be Halloween season one.
 YNB: Yes! I also think the paintball episode would be a good choice. If you’re trying to introduce someone new to the show I would show them the paintball one or Halloween, but if you’re trying to experience the show for yourself, I would go for the pilot and take a ride.

What about in terms of your character’s specifically?
 YNB: I really loved the Halloween episode, because it’s the one where I worked with Gillian for the first time.
 GJ: I think Jeff and Shirley season one.
 YNB: Really, you think? Alright, we’ll go with Jeff and Shirley, the gossip episode.

Unlike many actors who shall remain nameless, both of you seem to really know your show inside and out. Do you watch it?
 GJ: Totally! I’ve seen every episode of the show.
 YNB: I’ve seen every episode, some episodes more than once because I’m also a fan of the show. Especially if it’s a scene that I’m not in I tend to watch more than the ones I’m in because we weren’t there when it was taped and I’m a fan of these people and want to see how they brought it to life.
 GJ: I remember this moment in season one where Donald [Glover] went, “I think you know I have a thing for butt stuff,” which was a scene that neither one of us was in and I just remember watching that over and over and over, it made me laugh so hard. It was so unexpected because it wasn’t in the script, it was just an improv that Donald had done.

The show has such an amazing track record when it comes to fans picking up on things that take on a life of their own (See: Pulling a ‘Britta,’ Streets ahead, #sixseasonsandamovie). Can you as an actor to read the script and predict what things will have a second life online?
 GJ: I don’t know if you can predict it. THere are certainly things that we as a cast have fallen in love with that we repeat to each other endlessly that I don’t think are any fan’s favorite. In season one, Shirley said, “I’m gonna die by a werewolf.”
 YNB: We made a song.
 GJ: Before the rap, we were the only people saying it.
 YNB: We’ve been doing it since season one.
 GJ: And it wasn’t anything the fans knew about or ever caught on. We also love to say Jim’s [Rash] lines over and over again, “Oh Jeffrey,” or “Save a dance for Jeffery,” it’s just this thing that amuses us on set.

Moving on to the awkward portion of this interview, how does Dan Harmon’s exit affect the show’s fourth season? One imagines that things must be different when a showrunner with a vision as unique as Harmons is no longer steering the ship.
 GJ: They changed all the character names, we don’t go to community college anymore…
 YNB: [Laughs] That’s the best answer I’ve ever heard!
 GJ: It’s all of our intention — and this includes the new writers, returning writers, cast and crew — to keep the show true to what Dan Harmon created and what he would want. We have the utmost respect for him and it’s no ones intention to change it. Dan is not writing the episodes anymore so that is inherently going to make it different but I don’t think the show is betraying itself or moving away from what it was that people loved about it. We love the show as much as the fans do so we would never want to participate in the betrayal of COMMUNITY. We want nothing more than continue to give you quality episodes of television so that’s all of our fervent goal and desire.

One thing that the show has not “Britta’d” this season is the guest stars with Malcolm Mcdowell, Matt Lucas and Tricia Helfer already confirmed.
 GJ: We haven’t worked with Matt Lucas or Tricia Helfer yet but Malcolm Mcdowell is lovely.
 YNB: He’s a legend.
 GJ: Very funny.
 YNB: And very approachable. You would think that someone who is that famous, British, proper, would be standoffish. But he’s not, he’s just a silly fun man.
 GJ: We’re very comfortable joking around him.

What surprises can you let slip about the upcoming fourth season?
 YNB: We see Pierce’s mansion in the season opener, a Halloween episode and it’s a sight to behold. We’re also going to meet Jeff’s father, it hasn’t happened yet but we’re going to meet him. There’s also some Britta/Troy developments… picture that… instagram?!
 GJ: What?
 YNB: That was a reach.

Speaking of social media, is it fair to say that Twitter has played a fairly substantial role in keeping COMMUNITY on the air?
 GJ: Yeah definitely. It’s a way for us to directly communicate with the fans, for them to communicate with us and I think they also used it to rally amongst each other to support the show.
 YNB: They’re very organized.
 GJ: I think seeing things from our show trending as the episode is airing has been not only good for the network and studio but for us as well. It makes us feel so incredibly good when we see that happen because we’re not a ratings blockbuster. And not just Twitter, but Tumblr, Reddit, we’re very much a show of the internet. All these things have really embraced the show and helped spread the word.

Does it ever weird you out that a fan can grab any frame of your show and turn it into an animated GIF that will live on the internet in perpetuity?
 GJ: This is not nearly the raciest thing I’ve been a part of so any GIF fans are going to make of me on COMMUNITY is tame compared to films I’ve done! What’s strange though is that how things have changed over the course of our career. You used to feel like you did something, it existed in time and maybe there’s an image of it somewhere, but now it’s instantaneous.
 YNB: It’s forever now, it’s a video, a remix, a GIF, a meme, the creativity of the people that watch the show baffles me to this day. There’s a lot of ways they can use their gifts and they choose to use them to draw us and make videos, posters, fan art, my mind can’t wrap my head around it, it’s amazing.

Is there anything in particular you’d like to see for your characters this season?
 GJ: I’d like to see Britta continue to work her therapy skills on people’s minds. I enjoy her unconventional approach to the art of therapy. Also, anytime she gets to make a fool of herself, I’m really happy.
 YNB: I’d like to see Shirley continue with her sandwich shop. I’d like to see more of [Shirley's Husband] Malcolm-Jamal Warner, for creative and personal reasons (Kidding!) And if anyone graduates this year I kind of hope it’s Shirley. I think it would be nice to realize that Shirley has actually been studying all these years, never opened a book mind you, she’s a savant!

And finally, since you’re here to promote COMMUNITY on Netflix Canada, what’s in your queue?
 YNB: I just started watching…
 GJ: TEEN WOLF… TEEN WITCH [Laughs]
 YNB: Shut Up! I just started watching BREAKING BAD, on Sunday I started watching when I should have been packing for this trip… just one more episdoe… it was so good. Also, FAMILY GUY, those two on Netflix I’m all over every single episode from start to finish.

The TV Addict staff blogs at The TV Addict.

'Doctor Who' star Matt Smith will return for season seven of the show. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Neil Gaiman returns to 'Doctor Who'

By Ben KendrickScreen Rant / 09.06.12

The Doctor Who season seven premiere, “Asylum of the Daleks,” elicited a mixed response from some fans and critics (read our Doctor Who season seven premiere review) – with a few of story beats that were off-putting for certain longtime viewers. However, many Whovians still enjoyed the episode and are eagerly looking forward to the remaining season seven chapters.

As we mentioned in our recent Doctor Who Viewing Guide feature, it’s a great time to get started with the series – especially considering executive producer Steven Moffat has promised that this season will be the biggest and most exciting installment in the near-50 year old show. To that point, we’ve got a number of intriguing season seven details – including the return of celebrated comic book writer, novelist, and screenwriter, Neil Gaiman, as well as several new new images and a trailer for the highly-anticipated “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” episode.

Gaiman is well known for a myriad of reasons – including The Sandman comic book series, Stardust and Coraline novels (later adapted into feature films by directors Matthew Vaughn and Henry Selick, respectively), as well as one of the most memorable episodes in Doctor Who history, ”The Doctor’s Wife” (originally titled ”The House of Nothing”) – which, paired with intriguing standalone plot points, provides canon backstory for The Doctor’s TARDIS (a time machine/spacecraft).

The episode recently won Gaiman a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in the Short Form category beating out two other Doctor Who nominees, ”The Girl Who Waited” (written by Tom MacRae) and ”A Good Man Goes to War” (written by Steven Moffat) as well as the Community episode ”Remedial Chaos Theory” (written by Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna) and “The Drink Tank’s Hugo Acceptance Speech” (from Christopher J. Garcia and James Bacon).

During his acceptance speech, Gaiman took an opportunity to tease viewers with confirmation that he’s already writing a future episode of the iconic sci-fi series:

“Only a fool or a mad man would try to do it again… so I’m on the third draft.”

As for when Who (along with Gaiman) fans will get to see the episode, as well as what they might be able to expect, io9 managed to prod the famed writer into revealing that his next Doctor Who installment is scheduled for the second half of season seven (which will air in 2013). That said, much like “The Doctor’s Wife,” which was pushed from season five to season six (for a bigger budget), the next Gaiman episode is expected to be similarly expensive – and could, as the writer pointed out, be bumped into a future Who season. As a result, it may be awhile before we learn any concrete story details – plus whether or not the episode could feature a flesh and blood return of the TARDIS matrix.

Ben Kendrick blogs at Screen Rant.

Bruce Willis stars in 'Looper' with 'The Dark Knight Rises' actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt. (Bea Kallos/MTI/AP)

'Looper,' starring Bruce Willis, could be one of September's best movies

By John HanlonScreen Rant / 09.05.12

The fall 2012 film season has finally arrived. The summer blockbusters have come and gone. During the next few months, viewers will now be treated to some of the smaller movies that could win big come awards season - though films like The Hobbit and James Bond's Skyfall will still deliver the blockbuster experience.
Two of the most highly-anticipated movies of the year will arrive in September with director Paul Thomas Anderson releasing The Master, his first movie since the Oscar-winning film There Will be Blood (2007), and Clint Eastwood returning to acting in Trouble with the Curve. Eastwood hasn't appeared in a film since Gran Torino in 2008, so there's much anticipation about his new project. PTA's return to the director's chair and Eastwood's return to acting are only two of the many reasons we at Screen Rant are looking forward to going to the movies next month.
With that in mind, here's our list of the 10 movies we're looking forward to seeing in September 2012.

'The Master'

Over the past fifteen years, director Paul Thomas Anderson has delivered an incredible array of movies. From Boogie Nights (1997) to Magnolia (1999) to There will be Blood (2007), the director has consistently and creatively engaged audiences.
The Master looks like it will continue the Oscar-nominated director's streak of unique projects. The controversial film - which has a very loose connection to Scientology - focuses on a young veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) returning from war, who becomes involved with a religious leader, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman.  The film features Phoenix's first onscreen performance since his big publicity stunt about "quitting acting" a few years ago. Early reviews are already in and it looks like The Master could offer viewers a strong story and great performances from Phoenix,  Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams.

'Stolen'

Fifteen years after director Simon West and star Nicolas Cage collaborated on the action thriller Con Air (1997), the two  have now worked together a second thriller, arriving in theaters next month. Stolen stars Cage as a former thief whose daughter is kidnapped. While his daughter is held in the trunk of a car, Cage's character must steal ten million dollars in a matter of hours to save her innocent life.
While Cage has had a rough couple of years at the cineplex, his reunion with West could be an improvement. It was only a few weeks ago that West's latest film,  The Expendables 2, was released to solid ratings from critics and a solid run at the box office. Could this Con Air reunion mean that Cage's action career is back on track?

'Arbitrage'

Even though the film isn't releasing for a few weeks, Richard Gere is already receiving a lot of positive buzz for his performance as a hedge fun manager in the new thriller, Arbitrage. Gere stars opposite Oscar-winner Susan Sarandon and rising star Brit Marling (Sound of My Voice) in the film.
Nicholas Jarecki wrote and directed this movie about a man whose secrets - both personal and professional - threaten his way of life. Not only is Gere's character under financial distress at work, a car accident  leads him to face questioning from the police as well. The movie premiered at Sundance to strong reviews and could capitalize on the down economy with a main character who was reportedly inspired by real-life businessman Bernie Madoff.

'Resident Evil: Retribution'

At their Comic Con panel this year, the cast and director of Resident Evil: Retribution talked about the fifth installment of this long-running franchise. Director Paul W.S. Anderson even noted that this chapter is the beginning of the end of the story, while star Milla Jovovich added that Resident Evil has a life before and after Alice.
For fans curious about this installment, the plot reportedly focuses on Alice's attempts to find out who was in charge of the outbreak that has transformed millions of people into the Undead. In this installment, Alice travels the world trying to find answers and reportedly discovers some secrets about her past during the proceedings that will surprise both her and audiences who are clamoring for another action-packed adventure.

'Finding Nemo'

In 2003, Pixar had another huge hit on its hands with the release of Finding Nemo. The animated movie was critically-acclaimed and grossed over 300 million dollars domestically. The film also went on to win the Oscar for best animated movie of the year.
Now, with talk of a sequel - which will feature the return of director Andrew Stanton and star Ellen DeGeneres - the original will soon return to theaters in 3D. If you haven't seen the movie, the plot focuses on a clownfish named Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) as he tries to locate his young son Nemo, who has been captured by scuba divers. DeGeneres voices Dory, the lovable fish that partners up with Marlin to help him rescue his son.

'Dredd 3D'

It's been seventeen years since Sylvester Stallone put on the helmet and starred as the title character in the 1995 film, Judge Dredd. Now, Karl Urban takes on the role in the highly-anticipated Dredd 3D which - accordingly to Urban - stays closer to the 2000 AD source material than its predecessor.
The movie itself  features a futuristic world where cops are given the power to act as a  judge, a jury and an executioner for the criminals on the street. But despite their abilities to fight crime with deadly force, these officers are still being killed on the streets by violent thugs wanting to control the area. Judge Dredd must fight against such criminals, as he seeks to shut down the production of a new deadly drug that is quickly spreading throughout the city.

'End of Watch'

In End of Watch, writer/director David Ayer brings viewers into the criminal world of south central Los Angeles. The film tells the story of two cops who face off against a violent drug cartel after a traffic stop puts them in the crosshairs. Ayers, who previously wrote Training Day, knows how to tell a gritty cop story - so this movie could prove to be a worthy successor to that gritty drama.
At their Comic Con panel earlier this year, the cast and the director spoke about the unique camera angles in the film, and the training that stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena went through to prepare for the intense experience. If the movie's violence doesn't turn audiences off, this film could prove to be a dark but engaging cop drama.

'House at the End of the Street'

Earlier this year, Jennifer Lawrence starred as the lead character in the blockbuster Hunger Games, a film that quickly catapulted her onto the Hollywood rising star list. Now, the Oscar-nominee is trying her hand at the horror genre in the new thriller The House at the End of the Street.
Lawrence plays Elissa, a young woman who moves with her mother (Elisabeth Shue) into a new house, but the duo quickly realize that a neighbor's home has a mysterious past that is coming back to haunt them. The trailer shows the story taking place backwards, a format that offers viewers an interesting look at a familiar concept.
If the movie maintains an intriguing format that keeps viewers engaged, this could turn out to be a horror movie that pleases even hardcore fans of the genre.

'Looper'

At a Comic Con panel earlier this year, Emily Blunt stated that she believed Looper - the new sci-fi drama from Brick director Rian Johnson -  is the best film she's been a part of. Her co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt added that he believes that he disappears into this role better than he ever has. That's high praise coming from two rising young Hollywood stars who have both have starred in many worthy projects over the past the few years.
Their new film finds Gordon-Levitt playing an assassin who must kill an older version of himself, sent back in time by a future mob. That older version is played by Bruce Willis, who faces off against JGL head-trip thriller. With the help of a make-up team, JGL reportedly attempted to transform himself into a young Willis for the film, so we'll have to see if all of the work was worth it when it arrives on the big screen.

'Trouble with the Curve'

In Trouble with the Curve, Clint Eastwood returns for his first acting role in four years. He stars as an aging Atlanta Braves baseball scout checking out a new young prospect. With his eyes failing him, however, his daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) is forced to follow him along on a road trip to help him decide the worthiness of a potential major league player.
First-time feature director Robert Lorenz has a long history of working with Eastwood. He previously served as an assistant director on over half a dozen projects that involved Eastwood as either a director or writer. Those projects include Million Dollar Baby (2004), Mystic River (2003), and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997). That connection could help make this movie into more than just a baseball film, and help establish this Trouble with the Curve as the Moneyball of 2012.

John Hanlon blogs at Screen Rant.

Ben Affleck stars in as 'exfiltration' specialist Tony Mendez. (Reuters)

Ben Affleck's historical thriller 'Argo' tells a strange but true story (+video)

By Sandy SchaeferScreen Rant / 09.04.12

Ben Affleck is hoping to go 3-for-3 on his directorial efforts with this fall’s “based on true events” historical CIA thriller, Argo – and judging by the official trailer, he appears to have pulled off that hat trick.

Argo features an admirable cast that is headed by Affleck, alongside people like Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), John Goodman (The Artist), Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine), Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights), Clea DuVall (Girl, Interrupted), Victor Garber (Alias) and Adrienne Barbeau (Carnivàle) – all dressed and groomed to look like relics of the 1970s, with impeccable attention to detail on a par with a TV show like Mad Men.

Joshuah Berman’s article about the 1979 Iranian revolution from Wired Magazine is the basis for Chris Terrio’s Argo script, wherein six American members of the country’s U.S. embassy manage to seek refuge in the home of a Canadian ambassador – after Iranian militants storm the establishment. Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are discovered and killed, a team of CIA agents rattle their brains, in an effort to come up with a rescue plan.

“Exfiltration” specialist Tony Mendez (Affleck) finally comes up with the “best bad idea” possible: collaborate with some Hollywood heavyweights (Goodman, Arkin), in order to create the illusion that Mendez and his fellow agents are actually members of a big-time, sci-fi blockbuster production (titled “Argo”) who are scouting out shooting locations in Iran – as a cover for their high-stakes rescue operation.

The trailer makes Argo look pretty entertaining – like a historical thriller along the lines of Munich, but also part caper flick in the vein of Ocean’s Eleven or The Italian Job. Besides the great cast, the film also boasts grainy cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto (25th Hour) that resembles that of an actual movie made in the ’70s – along with convincing period hair stylings overseen by Kelvin R. Trahan (Zodiac) and set design from Oscar-nominee Jan Pascale (Good Night, and Good Luck and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy – quite the pairing, eh?).

Will Argo land Affleck the director more attention during awards season – especially, since he now has two critically-acclaimed titles (Gone Baby Gone and The Town) under his belt? If nothing else, early signs are encouraging.

Argo arrives in theaters around the U.S. on October 12th, 2012.

Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.

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'The Mindy Project' cast, including Mindy Kaling (l.) and Chris Messina (r.), should keep the show entertaining as it finds its footing. (Beth Dubber/Fox/AP)

'The Mindy Project': Is it worth watching this fall?

By The TV Addict / 08.30.12

You’ve seen the commercials. You’ve heard the hype. Now there’s only one thing you want to know: Which of the new fall shows are worth watching and which should be avoided at all costs? In this continuing series, we give you the scoop on some of the most highly-anticipated shows of the season, with today’s subject being FOX’s THE MINDY PROJECT.

The Boilerplate: Since these pilot presentations may go through numerous rewrites and casting changes prior to premiere, this by no means should be considered an official review. Rather a preview of what one can expect come Fall.

The Plot: From Emmy award-nominated writer-producer and New York Times best-selling author Mindy Kaling comes a new single camera comedy that asks the age old question. Can a successful career woman who is unlucky in love possibly have it all? Stay tuned…

The Cast: THE MINDY PROJECT stars Mindy Kaling as Dr. Mindy Lahiri, Chris Messina as Danny Castellano, Ed Weeds as Jeremy Reed, Anna Camp as Gwen Grandy, Zoe Jarman as Betsy Putch, Stephen Tobolowsky as Dr. Marc Shulman, Amanda Setton as Shauna Dicanio and ike Barinholtz as Morgan Tookers.

The Snap Judgment: As a longtime Kaling supporter who not only relished every time her OFFICE alter ego was given the opportunity to deliver a memorable one liner (“I swallowed a tape worm last night. It’s going to grow up to three feet inside of me, and then it eats all of my food so that I don’t get fat. And then after three months, I take some medicine, and then I pass it. Creed sold it to me. It’s from Mexico.”), but devoured her best-selling book, we expected more from the writer/performer’s latest project. A pilot that, much to our chagrin, played out like a less funny, surprisingly dated, small screen version of Bridget Jones’s Diary as a result of its over reliance on untimely pop-culture references (See: Michael Fassbender, Siri, Sandra Bullock, among others) and romantic clichés (Kaling’s character embarrasses herself at her former boyfriends wedding à la Bridesmaids). That said, with a supporting cast that features a ridiculous roster of recent go-to guest stars such as Chris Messina (DAMAGES, THE NEWSROOM), Anna Camp (TRUE BLOOD, THE GOOD WIFE) and Stephen Tobolowsky (GLEE, CALIFORNICATION), not to mention Kaling’s undeniably unique voice at the helm, there is little chance that THE MINDY PROJECT won’t find its way into our regularly scheduled viewing rotation. A spot made all the more secure thanks to Fox’s fantastic programming strategy that finds it scheduled on Tuesdays alongside RAISING HOPE, BEN AND KATE and NEW GIRL as part of what is rapidly becoming our weeks go-to night for laughs.

The Conclusion: Has us willing to bet that much in the same way that it took Tina Fey’s 30 ROCK a solid six to nine episodes to find its footing, THE MINDY PROJECT will undoubtedly flourish the more time both us as viewers and the writers spend in Kaling’s world.

The TV Addict staff blogs at The TV Addict.

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'The Avengers' alternate opening shows a storyline that was ultimately reduced in the film. (Zade Rosenthal/Disney/AP)

'Avengers' alternate opening shows an unexplored story arc

By Rob KeyesScreen Rant / 08.29.12

By featuring so many characters and making them fit as best as possible in the introduction to The Avengers, some of the key players didn’t have their stories told as several plot threads didn’t make the cut. We know Jeremy Renner is still waiting to play the Hawkeye he signed on for after his limited role in the team-up and another story arc dropped from the film entirely was that of the relationship between S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).

In promoting the upcoming home video release of The Avengers, Marvel Studios has released another deleted scene from the Blu-ray, this one presenting what could have been the introduction of the film had they explored the Hill-Fury conflict that was initially intended to play a part in the film’s story.

The clip sets a vastly different tone compared the actual theatrical opening ofThe Avengers and doesn’t quite sync up with how the film’s conclusion played out in terms of the reception of the people of New York to the superheroes protecting them against he alien invasion.

Hill’s conflict with Nick Fury was a plot thread that had several shots cut from the film but will undoubtedly surface during Phase Two of the Marvel cinematic universe. Essentially, Hill represents the mysterious council and her viewpoints therefore, don’t quite match that of her superior, Fury, who believes bringing together these heroes is the best hope for Earth.

Without getting into spoilers we can see how that would have changed how a few scenes in regards to S.H.I.E.L.D., especially when it comes to how the Council wants to respond to the alien threat vs. Fury’s plan of relying on six heroes to do the right thing. What we can see is an inevitable arc to be explored down the line, where there will be a power struggle over leadership of S.H.I.E.L.D. and where the world will at one point split itself in questioning the right/wrong of having unaccountable heroes duking it out in civilian population centers, leaving it up to others to clean up the mess. When something goes wrong, who will be responsible? Marvel Civil War anyone?

Rob Keyes blogs at Screen Rant.

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Actor Jeff Daniels (l.) stars as Will McAvoy on Aaron Sorkin (r.)'s show 'The Newsroom.' (John Shearer/Invision/AP)

'The Newsroom': Looking back on season one

By Tiffany VogtThe TV Addict / 08.27.12

Whichever side you fall on, only one thing is certain: the most buzzed about show this summer was HBO’s divisive new series THE NEWSROOM.  Maligned by critics, it was consistently berated for failing to live up to the lofty expectations of political correctness and for offering characters that were deemed too flawed for television.  But, if anything, all the bad press only helped keep the show on the public radar and encouraged lackadaisical viewers to check the show out and keep tuning in. For every critic outraged over what they perceived as characters not worthy of the show, there was a newfound fan wondering why everyone was so hot and bothered by the show’s character portrayals.  Say what you will, but Aaron Sorkin knows how to create shows that get people talking.  That’s his genius.  He knows all the hot buttons to push. 
  
Having created the Emmy-award winning WEST WING, a critical darling that ruled the broadcast airwaves for seven consecutive seasons, Aaron Sorkin had to live up to his own legacy.  His attempt to parlay his WEST WING success into showcasing the behind-the-scenes workings of a television studio in the series STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP was a critical-favorite, but barely caught the mass viewing public’s attention.
  
This time round, Aaron had a much more clever plan to capture everyone’s attention.  He wrote a series that would gall critics and spurn viewer interest.  In fact, the pilot to THE NEWSROOM was layered with secret ingredients all intended to do one thing:  get eyeballs – and it worked.  There was nothing safe or ordinary about the characters that populated the show so innocuously entitled.  The show was a puzzle-box of emotionally charged political, religious, socio-economic, and gender issues.  It dared to replay the most devastating and celebrated events of recent history, but through a lens crafted to remind us of how badly we, as a nation and our news media, had behaved and reminded us that we had devoured catastrophic and heightened-drama like it was candy.  

THE NEWSROOM had the audacity to take us back to the BP oil spill and show us the horror of such a monstrous disaster all over again.  It gave us a glimpse of how a newsroom should have behaved and conducted itself when a state governor was shot, the night that the President announced Bin Laden had been killed, and how a Presidential debate should be conducted.  It also dared to remind us of the ethical and moral dilemmas that should be struggled with to ensure that news is really about newsworthy moments, not tabloid journalism. 
  
THE NEWSROOM was not intended to lecture us or simply to hold up a mirror so that we could see ourselves reflected back; it is still a television show and its primary purpose is to entertain.  It did that superbly.  Whether one loved or hated the Will-Mackenzie cheating drama that laced each and every episode as these former lovers were forced to work together and share moments of agonizing humiliation time and time again; or it was the frustration with the dangling carrot of the love-triangle involving Maggie-Jim-Don, where we watched with fascination whether Maggie and Jim would ever get a shot at love, we could not turn our eyes away.  For all their incessant preoccupation with their own lives, it was the perfect foil to temper the bigger stories swirling around them as world events erupted day after day.  A show about competent people going about their day lives, striving to be the perfect example of who we should emulate, that would bore the average viewer to tears. 
  
Instead THE NEWSROOM offered characters so outrageous, that we wondered that they were able to do their jobs at all.  But that was the brilliance of it, they were exceptionally skilled and competent at their jobs – they were just so flawed that they could not seem to keep their personal lives together.   Thus, making it highly addictive.  We were dying to see exactly how long Will and Mackenzie could keep up their tortured dance, if Maggie would ever have the guts to pick Jim over Don, and if Sloan could manage to not step into the middle of yet another awkward and potentially career-killing scandal.  We also fell in love with Neal and Charlie, who managed to seem like the sanest people in this crazy world – that is until Neal pitched a story about Big Foot or Charlie has one drink too many.
  
For better or worse, THE NEWSROOM brought something back to television that has been sorely missing – the “watercooler” factor.  Everyone was talking about it.  This was not just a show filled with hunky young actors that the young teens were swooning over, or a comedy that poked fun of being as politically incorrect as possible.  THE NEWSROOM had crafted a show worthy of talking about.  People didn’t just love it – they obsessed over it.  It was all they were talking about from the locker room to the conference room to parties in prestigious social circles.  It crossed age barriers and demographs.  It encouraged people to buy HBO and see what everyone was talking about.  Everyone likes to say that there will never be another show as great as LOST – but when you look back at it the one thing LOST really got right was that it got everyone talking about it.  It was the “it” show and if you didn’t watch it, you were missing out.  THE NEWSROOM brought that need to be part of the cool-crowd back.  People were watching THE NEWSROOM not because they had drank the cool-aid, but because they wanted to be a part of the conversation.
  
That’s the genius of Aaron Sorkin.  He got everyone talking about his show.  There were lots of great shows on television this summer, but the one everyone will remember is THE NEWSROOM – and that’s because it found a way to get our attention.
  
Long live Mackenzie and her hyper-insanity, Will and his tragically broken heart, Maggie and her clumsiness in love and getting across the room, Jim and his gentlemanly desire to do the right thing, Don and his ability to win us and Maggie back when he doesn’t deserve it, Neal and his eager enthusiasm to champion the little guy and get the story, Sloan and her passionate belief that the fate of the world rides the debt ceiling, and Charlie and his never-failing strategy to make sure that someone is actually reporting the real news.
  
With the first season of THE NEWSROOM airing Sunday night, we will be counting the days until its return for its second season next summer.  In the meantime, thank you to Aaron Sorkin, his entire writing team, the cast and crew, and everyone else who brought THE NEWSROOM to our television screens this summer.  You gave us a show to talk about and root for.  It’s been a blast!

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt says he has made no plans to be part of a 'Justice League' film or any 'Batman' sequel in the future. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt hasn't signed on for 'Justice League'

By Ben KendrickScreen Rant / 08.24.12

WARNING!!! –  This post contains MAJOR SPOILERS for The Dark Knight Rises

Prior to the release of Christopher Nolan’s final Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, the rumor mill was running rampant on how Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character might fit into the superhero-villain-heroine mix created by appearances from Batman, Bane, and Catwoman, respectively. While there are plenty of “normal” people in the Nolan trilogy (Commissioner Gordon and Alfred, among others) casting an up-and-comer like Levitt as an everyman police officer raised a few eyebrows and caused plenty of fan speculation. Would Levitt make an appearance as an unannounced villain (such as The Riddler) or possibly a superhero sidekick (such as Robin)?

Now that the film is out, we know that Levitt’s character, John Blake is Robin in both name and character, but as usual, Nolan wasn’t going to spell anything out. Despite a lot of carefully constructed arguments from the fan community about Blake’s post-Rises adventures, Joseph Gordon-Levitt recently confirmed that the filmmakers never talked about which “suit” (Batman, Nightwing, Robin, etc) the character would wear – when, and if, he actually took over for Bruce Wayne.

After the closing reveal of The Dark Knight Rises, many moviegoers (and media members), began hammering Levitt for answers about a possible sequel featuring the John Blake character. The actor quickly dismissed talk of a follow-up – claiming that the studio had not approached him about it and that, for him, reprising the role would be dependent on the quality of the script.

As mentioned in an interview with MTV, Levitt also dismissed the notion that Nolan had a particular alter-ego in mind for the character, asserting that they never talked about which “suit” the character might wear:

However, even if we never see Levitt fighting criminals on the streets of Gotham again, that doesn’t mean that fans aren’t interested in some closure about which fan-favorite Batman character he had been playing all along. Many enthusiasts argued that the reveal of the character’s first name, Robin (as in Robin John Blake), was a dead giveaway for the boy wonder (Dick Grayson); others felt as if Nightwing, despite the obvious nod to Batman’s most famous sidekick, would be a much better fit for Nolan’s universe. In the comic storylines, Robin (still Grayson) becomes Nightwing – taking on the persona as he matures. Similarly, Blake could have easily just become the new Batman – just like Grayson did (again) in the DC universe.

As we’ve talked about on the Screen Rant Underground podcast, the John Blake character is mostly an amalgamation of various iterations of Bat-sidekicks, not one specific person – a point that ties into the franchise idea about becoming a symbol, rather than just a man. It’s a theme that Levitt himself discussed when talking about a possible John Blake sequel on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

“I don’t think [the ending of 'The Dark Knight Rises'] is necessarily a set-up. I think it is the great ending for that trilogy. Even if you go back to ‘Batman Begins,’ he’s talking about how Batman is more than a man, it’s a symbol, and a hero can be anybody and we all have heroes inside of us.”

Levitt has shown gratitude and excitement to be part of The Dark Knight Rises experience, but doesn’t have much to say about future Batman work. Screen Rant Managing Editor, Kofi Outlaw, had a chance to sit down with Levitt this week to discuss the actor’s upcoming film Premium Rush, and Levitt flat-out denied (or at least isn’t willing to talk about) any talks with Warner Bros. about post-TDKR plans - which would include the possibility of Blake appearing in DC’s in-development Justice League film.

Screen Rant: Have you seen the Justice League script that Will Beall is working on, or had any meetings with WB about being a part of their supehero universe?”

Levitt: Nope. [Pauses] No – the answer’s ‘no.’

For the time being, it’s probably best to let the subject of continuing Nolan’s Batman trilogy rest. Nolan and star Christian Bale have both said they are done with the character - and the legacy torchbearer, Levitt, clearly doesn’t have any new developments to report.

Of course, we’ll keep you updated if something changes – since some version of Batman will need to be called into action for the Justice League movie.

Ben Kendrick blogs at Screen Rant.

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Sam Claflin has been cast as Finnick Odair in the 'Hunger Games' second installment 'Catching Fire.' (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Sam Claflin is cast as Finnick in 'Catching Fire'

By Staff Writer / 08.23.12

Actor Sam Claflin has been cast in the role of Finnick Odair for the “Hunger Games” second film installment “Catching Fire.”

Claflin has been part of high-profile projects over the last year, appearing in his first big role as missionary Philip in “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” in 2011. He also played William, one third of a love triangle with Snow White in the Kristen Stewart vehicle “Snow White and the Huntsman” this summer.

In Collins’ book, Finnick is a charming, outsize personality, and heroine Katniss is unsure at first of whether he can be trusted.

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