Youth-centric network The CW is sticking with its dramatic-romance roots by commissioning a script order for Expectations – which is described as a modern re-imagining of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, with Legally Blonde actress Reese Witherspoon attached to executive produce.
The CW’s revamped take on the literary classic, (first published in the late 1860s) will center on a small-town girl who moves to San Francisco with big dreams of making it in the city. Unfortunately for her she is quickly slammed by the harsh reality of living away from her humble home, until her fortunes unexpectedly switch, thanks to a mysterious and anonymous benefactor.
The original Dickens story was first released in serial form via Dickens’ weekly periodical ‘All the Year Round’, from December 1860 to August 1861 and revolves around Pip, an orphan who assists an escaped convict while visiting the grave site of his parents and siblings. Years later, the now-wealthy ex-con returns the favor.
Lethal Weapon 4 co-producer J. Mills Goodloe, who also wrote and directed the award-winning Gary Sinise film A Gentleman’s Game and co-wrote the 2007 Terrence Howard swim drama Pride, will write the script for the hour-long drama with Reese Witherspoon, Bruna Papandrea, Meghan Lyvers and Evelyn O’Neill all executive producing through Witherspoon’s production company, Pacific Standard.
Great Expectations has been adapted many times into film – with the latest being the upcoming British version written by David Nicholls and directed by Mike Newell (Harry Potter 4), starring War Horse actor Jeremy Irvine as Pip and Helena Bonham Carter as the ill-fated Miss Havisham.
As for Witherspoon (born Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon) Expectations marks the latest in her small-screen producing endeavors using literally classics. Recently, Fox has picked up another Witherspoon-produced project titled Wendy & Peter. While still in the early stages, Wendy & Peter is a comedic retelling of Peter Pan that centers on a single mom who lands a gig as a nanny taking care of a bunch of “lost boys “.
Expectations joins the CW’s plans for a contemporary dramatic version of Alice in Wonderland, currently dubbed Wunderland, from The Playboy Club creator Chad Hodge. The drama will center on a young female detective in modern-day Los Angeles, who discovers another world that exists under the surface of this ultra-modern city.
Scott Stoute blogs at Screen Rant.
Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but when it comes to Lord Varys, it’s best served basting in its own retched filth inside a shipping crate that takes about as much effort to open as today’s infernal clamshell packaging.
But like the digressive storylines and carefully plotted machinations of Game of Thrones, a significant portion of Varys’ pleasure stems from the patience, scheming and countless other dealings required to see his design come to fruition. There’s been a great deal of maneuvering early on in season 3, but now it seems ready for some kind of pay off. And in a series where there are precious few payoffs each season (‘Blackwater‘ potentially being the biggest of the series so far), the patience of the audience is a must, so even a hint of larger developments can justify an initially slow pace.
‘And Now His Watch Is Ended’ is still mostly about maneuverings – Tyrion wants information on his sister’s alleged involvement in the attempt on his life, so he goes to the one man who apparently knows everything and understands what it is to live as an outcast with a taste for revenge – but they feel like maneuverings that will amount to something far more personal than who is winning what unseen battle between the Lannisters and the King of the North. Frankly, Tyrion could not have chosen a better moment to have his discussion with Varys, as seeing the Spider unveil the sorcerer who “cut” him was as much a testament to the virtue of patience as it was to the power of retribution.
Meanwhile, Jaime and Brienne continue to be the most interesting odd couple in Westeros, as their situation has forced a fascinating shift not only in the dynamic between the two, but also a severe and remarkable turnaround for a man who previously prided himself on his backstabbing abilities and once shoved a child from a tower window after an improper dalliance with his sister.
Now the Kingslayer is but a shell of his former self, a one-handed swordsman who has spent the last year in a cage and in chains; in his mind, the list of reasons to carry on is probably pretty short. But, for his sake, Brienne is there to talk up the intrinsic worth of living life for the sole purpose of enacting revenge on those who wronged you. “One misfortune and you’re giving up?” she asks, which is both her idea of a pep talk and an illustration of how unpleasant this world is when having your hand hacked off by a rapist with a bad goatee is considered but a “misfortune.”
Retribution, or the promise of it, is such a potent throughline in ‘And Now His Watch Is Ended’ that it’s almost jarring to see Margaery using her soft touch on the callous Joffrey in such a persuasive manner. After what must have been the Most Thrilling Day Ever, spent learning about the deaths of so many people who helped build and shape Westeros, Margaery establishes just how gifted she is in crafting a king by convincing a little tyrant he is loved by his people.
“Give them your love, they will return it a thousand fold,” she tells him. Whatever winds up being the true cause of this public outpouring of support for Joffrey, it certainly isn’t reciprocation of his love. In fact, Joffrey’s rule (or the rule of any one man for that matter) is precisely what creates bands of men like the Brotherhood Without Banners and the now-rudderless crew of the Night’s Watch. They’re both the disenchanted made whole by a feeling of camaraderie, but only one group seems to have the wherewithal to attack that dissatisfaction with the status quo with something resembling honor and the pursuit of justice.
But without a doubt, the showstopper goes to Danaerys, who could really use it, as she’s been so physically removed from the rest of the story that at times her character arc has almost felt like an afterthought. The episode makes up for that in spades, though, as Dany makes a huge move not only in terms of shifting some of the momentum regarding claim to the Iron Throne, but also as a character. Indeed, Dany gives an excellent example of the kind of ruler she’s capable – or may soon be capable – of being.
It’s fitting in an episode so laden with the notion of patience and revenge that Danaerys would wait until the last possible moment to establish just how foolhardy it is for anyone (Ser Jorah and Barristan Selmy included) to underestimate her. Now, with her army of willing Unsullied warriors, three dragons and two advisors skilled in the art of war, Dany can finally begin her journey toward the heart of the story.
Kevin Yeoman blogs at Screen Rant.
It would be unfair to describe Michael Keaton as being out of work. He recently signed on to star in the adaptation of video game series Need for Speed, alongside Dominic Cooper and Aaron Paul – and though nothing has officially been announced by Disney, it’s suspected that he’ll reprise his role as Ken in the next Toy Story movie.
Perhaps it’s because his career is relatively healthy at the moment that Keaton is willing to deliver a self-deprecating performance in another of his upcoming projects. Fox Searchlight has announced that principal photography has begun this week on Birdman (alternative title: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), a new comedy from Alejandro González Iñárritu. Here’s the official synopsis, courtesy of the press release:
“[Birdman is] a black comedy that tells the story of an actor (Keaton) – famous for portraying an iconic superhero – as he struggles to mount a Broadway play. In the days leading up to opening night, he battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career, and himself.”
Also appearing in the film is Edward Norton, who, according to Deadline, was cast as an “egotistical lead stage actor” who disrupts Keaton’s attempts to create the Broadway play that will rejuvenate his career. Norton has something of a reputation for being difficult to work with – so much so that Kevin Feige more or less explicitly stated this as the reason for dumping him in favor of Mark Ruffalo when casting Hulk in The Avengers. It will be interesting to see whether Norton is willing to indulge in a little self-parody for his role in Birdman.
Norton and Keaton aren’t the only superhero movie veterans on the cast list. Emma Stone, a talented comedy actress who took on the role of Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man, will play Keaton’s daughter – an actress who has just gotten out of rehab and who is hired as an assistant by her father. Stone has never been at the center of any drink or drugs scandals, so it’s possible that her character is a bit of a dig at starlets like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. There are a couple of photos of Stone filming Birdman over at Just Jared, if you want to get a sneak peek at what she’ll look like in the movie.
Iñárritu is a Mexican director, best known in English-language cinema for drama film 21 Grams, which starred Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro and Naomi Watts, and his 2006 global drama, Babel. Watts is also listed as one of the stars of Iñárritu’s new film, along with Oblivion‘s Andrea Riseborough and Gone Baby Gone actress Amy Ryan. The final name on the cast list is comedian Zach Galifianakis, who displayed a skill for slightly darker comedy in Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s 2010 indie It’s Kind of a Funny Story, in which he played a long-term resident of a psychiatric ward.
The great cast that has been assembled, and the high quality of Iñárritu’s past films, definitely make Birdman a project to look out for in the future – as does the potential for in-jokes and wink-wink references. Let’s just hope that it turns out a little better than My Name is Bruce.
Hannah Shaw-Williams blogs at Screen Rant.
It’s been a long wait, to get a peek under Man of Steel‘s cape. Born from a tightly-guarded storyline crafted by Dark Knight Trilogy architects Christopher and Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer - and crafted by the hand of visionary director Zack Snyder (300), the Superman reboot has been considered to either be the best of both worlds (in terms of filmmaking), or an experiment that could blow up in DC Comics and Warner Bros.’ faces.
Teaser trailers have revealed that this modernized interpretation of the Superman origin and mythos will include some deep, probing questions about what it is to live as a god-like orphan on an alien world; however, we’ve seen little to no action from this Superhero blockbuster. Today’s Man of Steel trailer is here to put that complaint to rest, for good.
It’s hard to see the footage here and not give Snyder props; more so than his predecessors – like Richard Donner and Bryan Singer – Snyder has captured the aesthetic and concept of super powers in action, according to “realistic” standards. That is to say: the actual physics of Superman’s powers is something we can definitely feel – which is going to make for an awesome experience in the theater. Blockbuster superhero flick, indeed.
Kofi Outlaw blogs at Screen Rant.
Quvenzhané Wallis, the nine-year-old Actress who won over audiences worldwide with her debut performance in the Academy Award-nominated indie film Beasts of the Southern Wild, is about to take a huge step into the mainstream for her next starring film role.
Wallis, who is the youngest person in history to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, will play the lead role of Annie in upcoming remake of the famous musical. Wallis was rumored for the role in recent weeks, but was confirmed for the part in an announcement by Columbia Pictures.
The film, which has been in development for several years, was originally set to star Willow Smith, daughter of megastar producers Will and Jada Pinkett Smith. However, Smith dropped out of the film recently, opening up the spot for the rising young Wallis.
The Annie remake should be a perfect fit for Wallis, who won over audiences worldwide with her performance as the brave, resourceful, and confident Hushpuppy in Beasts. The character of Annie, which is based on the 1930s comic strip Little Orphan Annie, will require the same tenacious and plucky spirit.
Will Gluck (Easy A) will direct Wallis in the role from a script by Emma Thompson, which was rewritten by Aline Brosh McKenna. In addition to Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Annie is produced by rapper and entrepreneur Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter.
Before taking over the iconic role of Annie, Wallis will star alongside an all-star cast (including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Paul Dano, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Paul Giamatti) in director Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave. Most Academy Awards viewers aren’t expecting to see Quvenzhané Wallis take home the Academy Award for Best Actress tonight, but few people would argue that the young actress doesn’t have a long and promising career ahead of her.
What do you think of Wallis’ casting as Annie? Is the sprightly young actress a perfect fit for the role?
Filming for the Annie remake is expected to begin this Fall, ahead of a late 2014 theatrical release.
Rob Frappier blogs at Screen Rant.
Children of the 20th Century grew up playing with Lego toys, whereas the current young generation also has a collection of movie-themed video game spinoffs to enjoy (Lego Star Wars, Lego Batman, Lego Harry Potter, etc.). No surprise, Warner Bros. is expanding the multi-platform franchise to now include theatrically-released movies, beginning with a project titled… The Lego Movie.
Lego Movie previously went under such titles as Lego: The Piece of Resistance and just Lego, but the 3D computer-animated feature is now prepared to release under a title so generic, it almost sounds like a joke. Of course, that’s probably the idea, coming from writer-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street).
Here is the official synopsis for The Lego Movie:
The 3D computer animated adventure tells the story of Emmet, an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure who is mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world. He is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant, a journey for which Emmet is hopelessly and hilariously underprepared.
Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) is voicing Emmet, meaning he will headline Lego Movie in animated form, before playing the flesh-and-blood leading (hu)man Star-Lord in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Will Arnett (Arrested Development) is reported to be voicing the Batman Lego and Morgan Freeman is lending his vocal gravitas to a character named Vitruvius. The rest of the star-studded voice cast includes Liam Neeson (Taken 2), Alison Brie (Community), Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) and Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games).
Here is the official movie logo (click for full-sized version):
The Lego Movie screenplay was written by Lord and Miller, drawing from a story they co-wrote with Dan and Kevin Hageman (Hotel Transylvania). Personally, I see a lot of potential for delightful cartoonish mayhem and self-aware humor in a premise that involves a Lego mini-figurine being “mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person,” so this project seems to be starting on the right foot, even in the writing stage.
Lord and Miller have earned a reputation for bringing sly wit and inspired creativity to their directing efforts, even on the most calculated of cash grabs (such as a 21 Jump Street movie that preys on lingering nostalgia for a goofy 1980s TV show concept). Combine that with their proven skill at using the 3D animation medium for proper effect in their Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs adaptation, and that is reason enough to anticipate their Lego Movie (in my humble opinion, anyway).
Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.
“Our thoughts are with everyone in Boston tonight,” host Tom Bergeron said at the beginning of the episode. “I have family members and many friends there. My heart is with you.”
The night’s competition included the return of four former pro dancers on the show, Tony Dovolani, Anna Trebunskaya, Chelsie Hightower, and Tristan MacManus. The current celebrity contestants danced with their partners next to two of the four pro dancers performing the same routine for part of the dance, which would make any mistakes on the celebrity’s part even more glaring.
Zendaya and her partner Val Chmerkovskiy performed an Argentine tango and earned two 10 scores, the first of the season, from the judges. Chmerkovskiy dedicated the scores to the residents of Boston.
During the “side-by-side” portion, Zendaya and Chmerkovskiy danced next to Chmerkovskiy’s brother Maks and Trebunskaya. In an interview with USA Today, Zendaya said she initially found it hard to tap into the emotion that the tango required.
“I'm young,” she said. “It's kind of tough when you're talking about being in love and all this stuff I've never experienced or understood in my own life.”
But the judges all praised her performance.
“Every move you do has a story… and I love it,” judge Carrie Ann Inaba told Zendaya.
With two 10 scores and one 9, Zendaya and Chmerkovskiy moved to the front of the pack with a score of 29.
Behind Zendaya and Chmerkovskiy were celebrity contestant Kellie Pickler and pro dancer Derek Hough, who earned a score of 27. Occupying the bottom slot was comedian Andy Dick and his partner, Sharna Burgess, who earned a score of 18.
He insisted the future would be a bleak, blasted landscape, populated by panicky, gun-toting radicals and people whose only fleshly pleasures are as mechanical as an animated film about robots. Even our most promising rockers would be dead by one misadventure or another. But before this even happened, there would be a Third World War, one that would finish us off before this ugly, Orwellian existence could even begin.
That’s what he said. That’s what David Bowie said on his 1973 album, "Aladdin Sane." So how did he make The Apocalypse sound so groovy that we couldn’t wait for the world to end? Mostly it was the music, which was arguably, the most lyrical, indelibly melodic, and rockin’ stuff the man with the orange shag and unmatched eyes had yet made. In any case, on the occasion of "The Next Day," Bowie’s first new album in a decade, it’s time to celebrate the old. "Aladdin Sane" turns 40 in April and it still stimulates with an undimmed intensity.
When it was first released, the stakes were high. With his previous record, which introduced hubristic rocker, Ziggy Stardust, Bowie had finally broken through. After years of folky tunes and false starts, he found false eyelashes and blush worked better. In his glittering jumpsuit and stacked heels, Bowie’s identity may been ambiguous. As for those high stakes? Well, this is the guy who began "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars" with a dicey proposition: that the world would end in five years. It was now a year later. What, we space cadets wondered, would he do for an encore?
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Make good on his promise. That’s what David Bowie and his wonderfully poisonous Spiders did. What seems most in jeopardy in his brave, barren new world is rock 'n' roll itself. On two tracks, there are distinct references to the extinction of the music we loved. In the album’s opener, "Watch That Man," our humble narrator describes a party where “an old-fashioned band of married men/Were looking up to me for encouragement.” Everybody knew this had to be Bowie’s cheeky description of The Rolling Stones. Still, to hear those thirtyish thugs depicted that way was really depressing. The only ameliorating aspect, the thing that made the idea tolerable, was that Bowie and band were now rocking harder than the Stones. Led by first lieutenant and guitarist Mick Ronson, "Man," with its power chords and Chuck-Berry-screaming-like-Little-Richard vocal, made it clear who was now The World’s Greatest Rock And Roll Act.
Not five songs later, on "Time," Bowie mourns the overdose of drummer Billy Murcia, who’d been the driving backbeat of the New York Dolls, a band who hotwired rock and were driving it down the road at a merciless speed. But referencing Murcia proved Bowie didn’t shy away from the fact that music was falling apart, that perhaps there’d be no rock in years to come, even though his Spiders belied this with every crashing downbeat.
If these deaths didn’t worry you about the future, listening to the record’s ominous title track made you wonder if there’d even be one. "Aladdin Sane," crowned by Mike Garson’s piano (sounding like Monk in a manic state), is not just the record’s showpiece but also its mission statement. Clearly, it’s about world war. Was a third one on its way? Who would we be fighting, anyway? One minute David’s referencing Japanese “sake,” the next he’s dithering on about “Paris or maybe hell.” Did he know something we didn’t?
Garson says this about this epic song and his unforgettable playing on it: “First I played a blues solo. David said, ‘No, that’s too common.’ Then I tried a Latin solo. Finally he said, ‘You played on the avant-garde scene in the ‘60s. Play something like that.’ So I did one take of that (atonal) solo and he was thrilled. I quoted from 'Tequila.' There’s some 'Rhapsody In Blue' and 'On Broadway' there, too. I didn’t understand the words. But the title led me to believe that’s where I should go.” Although he didn’t hear the record “for 20 years,” Garson says plenty of others have – and they still call him because of it.
“There’s something about that solo that keeps increasing people's interest," he said. "Gwen Stefani, Smashing Pumpkins, they all called me to work with them. All because of ‘Aladdin.'”
Listening to "Aladdin Sane" at the age of seventeen, when you’re already confused, might confuse you even more – gloriously so. There’s the futuristic, Philip K. Dick vibe of "Drive-In Saturday," where even in a darkened parking lot, you’re still in the dark. There’s "Panic In Detroit," where revolutionaries not only ran your city, but your school! Finally, Bowie covers "Let’s Spend The Night Together," so fast and crazy that if you put the Stones’ version on right after, Mick sounds as naughty as the Archbishop of Canterbury. Parents were right to fear this extremely open-minded alien.
Eroticism slowly disappeared from Bowie’s songbook over the next few albums (with the glorious exception of "Rebel Rebel"), but the idea of existence as dystopia never has. Now sixty-six, having survived indifferent notices, Bowie remains resolute about the horrors of life on earth on the new album "The Next Day." It’s appropriate, if disquieting, to hear the man who once saw outer space as our only out call the stars “sexless and unaroused.” Plus they peer down on us with awful indifference. He also moans about his “not quite dead” body, which is “left to rot in a hollow tree.” The disc’s final track, "You Feel So Lonely You Could Die," references the loneliest man in rock 'n' roll. Bowie sings, “Oblivion shall own you/Death alone shall love you.” It makes World War Three sound like a larf in comparison.
Maybe I’m reading too much into this. After all, David Bowie has been a man of many masks since his career took flight. He may no more be this aging wretch than he was the rock and roll suicide on "Ziggy," the cleaned-up, crucifix-wearing kid singing "Heroes" or the mad prognosticator on "Aladdin Sane." And finally, does that matter?
As we celebrate this record, forty years on, today’s kids will wonder why their favorite rockers seem so tame in comparison. The rest of us will smile and remember the twisted kicks this record gave us as we sat between the speakers in our bedrooms. We may even be tempted to paint lightning bolts on our faces and wonder about the wild exploits we missed out on. Artistically, that’s one cool accomplishment for the artist, for listeners to be able to claim that so long ago, David Bowie, with one record, so utterly expanded our horizons. It may be simple, but it’s true: you really have to love a guy for that.
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The gunshots heard by students and teachers inside the school were an accident, but “Glee” characters hid in classrooms and bathrooms, some crying and recording messages to loved ones. A disclaimer before the episode advised viewer discretion because the episode “addresses the topic of school violence.”
A resident of Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six faculty members were killed during a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, told the Newtown Bee newspaper that he wished the team behind “Glee” had warned those in Newtown about what would be coming on the show. Andrew Paley is friends with Michael Slezak of TVLine.com, who saw a screener of the episode and warned him the storyline might be too much for those in the town.
“I think it’s terrible that the writers and producers of that show didn’t think to contact someone in Newtown to let us know this was coming,” Paley said. “A lot of people watch that show. They shouldn’t be upset by it.”
An anonymous Fox source told the New York Daily News that the episode had been planned since before the Newtown tragedy.
However, some on Twitter were unsettled by the episode’s content.
One user named Ximena Covarrubia (@ximena_g_c) tweeted, “I was crying like a baby while watching shooting star!!”
Bacon retweeted a comment from a fan that revealed the spoiler. A user named @jodigomes had tweeted approval of a recent plot development, which was a major twist for the show.
The actor apologized for retweeting the spoiler.
“To all the fans abroad and late watchers I'm truly sorry I retweeted a spoiler,” the actor tweeted on April 9. “I just wasn't thinking. Won't happen again.”
Bacon also posted a similar apology on his website, with the website version ending in “(My bad).”
Bacon plays a former FBI agent named Ryan Hardy who is brought back on the job after a serial killer he helped catch escapes from prison. The killer, Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), has amassed a group of fanatical followers who will do anything to help Carroll succeed in his plot against Ryan. Further complicating matters is the fact that Ryan became involved in a relationship with Joe’s ex-wife.
Williamson told Entertainment Weekly that he mentioned to his agent, “I want to get someone like Kevin Bacon” when discussing the part of Hardy. His agent replied, “What about Kevin Bacon?”
The show is quickly approaching the end of its first season, with the last episode set to air April 29, but the “Following” network, Fox, has already renewed the show for a second season.
Bacon broke out with his lead role in the 1984 film “Footloose” and has since appeared in films such as “Apollo 13,” “Mystic River” and “Crazy, Stupid, Love” as well as guest-starring on the TV show “Bored to Death.” Purefoy starred as Mark Antony on the HBO series “Rome” and recently appeared in the Showtime comedy “Episodes.”