Thursday, January 28, 2010

Paranormal Activity 2 Director Now Back at Saw Series

Paranormal Activity 2 Director Now Back at Saw Series

Just a week after announcing that ‘Saw VI’ director Kevin Greutert will be replacing Oren Peli on ‘Paranormal Activity 2,’ ‘Saw’ distributors Twisted Pictures and Lionsgate proclaimed on January 26 that he will be coming back to the series to direct ‘Saw VII 3D.’ This leaves the sequel to last year’s surprise hit ‘Paranormal Activity’ currently without a director.

David Hackl, who directed the fifth ‘Saw,’ was originally chosen to helm ‘Saw VII 3D.’ While he was promised a two movie deal with Lionsgate, who said he will be given a second film quickly, maybe in a twist of fate Paramount will choose him to direct ‘Paranormal Activity 2.’ The next installments in both series, which became rivals after ‘Paranormal Activity’ earned $21.1 million against the $14.1 million ‘Saw VI’ made last October, have a slated October 22 release date.

Peli will be back for ‘Paranormal Activity 2,’ as he is producing it along with Jason Blum. Steven Schneider is executive producing the movie. “These guys get it, and the fans won’t be disappointed,” Peli said of Perry and Greutert’s participation.

Gruetert’s return to the ‘Saw’ series will mean he has participated in the creation of all seven of the movies, as he was an editor on all the earlier editions. His second time at directing a ‘Saw’ movie will see him not only go up against ‘Paranormal Activity 2,’ if it is indeed still released that day, but also Summitt Entertainment’s adaptation of the graphic novel ‘Red.’

Written by: Karen Benardello

WWE Studios Developing First Sitcom

WWE Developing First Sitcom

WWE Studios is developing its first television sitcom, wrestler Santino Morella announced on January 25 at the ‘Monday Night RAW’ event in Columbus, Ohio. Morella announced publicly for the first time that the studio, which was founded in 2002 and has only released movies to date, including ‘The Marine’ and ‘12 Rounds,’ is developing the ‘Santino Morella Sitcom.’

Obviously, Morella will star in the show, alongside co-WWE stars Beth Phoenix and Vladimir Kozlov, who will play his girlfriend and best friend. Morella didn’t give away many of the details, but said it will be more of a traditional multi-camera sitcom, as opposed to a reality show. “I think we’re going to use one or two cameras. It will kind of be like a ‘Seinfeld,’ but with me. You know, it will only be a reality show if you consider wrestling reality,” he said. Morella added that the show will be filming its first three episodes in two weeks.

The show will debut on-line, and then move to network television. USA Networks, which broadcasts ‘Monday Night RAW,’ will most likely air the sitcom, as it has been the home of ‘WWE Monday Night RAW’ for years. While USA Executive Vice President Chris McCumber said the company isn’t currently actively looking for sitcoms, it would consider airing one if it goes along with its “Characters Welcome” theme.

Since its inception, WWE Studios has co- and solely produced both theatrical and straight-to-DVD movies, all of which have starred at least one WWE wrestler. Some of these have been at least somewhat successful, including ‘The Scorpion King’ and ‘Walking Tall,’ both starring The Rock. Others have received negative reviews from critics and flopped at the box office, including ‘See No Evil,’ starring Kane, and ‘The Condemned,’ starring ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Rob Lowe Leaving Brothers and Sisters

Rob Lowe Leaving Brothers and Sisters

Rob Lowe has decided to leave another hit television series. The actor, who plays California Senator (and husband to Kitty Walker, portrayed by Calista Flockhart) Robert McCallister in ABC’s drama ‘Brothers & Sisters,’ felt he was being underused on the show and asked the network to release him from his contract early, according to

Lowe will leave ‘Brothers & Sisters’ at the end of this season, which is the fourth for the series and will conclude next month. ABC decided to amicably let the former ’80s “brat packer” go, as it wants him to return to other shows in the future. He is reportedly in talks about creating a new series with him in the lead. According to Deadline Hollywood, the president of the ABC Entertainment Group, Stephen Mcpherson, verified Lowe’s exit and the network’s desire to keep him, saying “We would like to keep Rob at ABC; we feel he should be anchoring his own franchise. We are in talks now.”

After a sex scandal and numerous minor film roles in the early ’90s, Lowe made a comeback with his role in the Austin Powers films and the NBC hit drama ‘The West Wing.’ He left the show in 2003 to headline two other TV series, that year’s ‘Dr. Vegas’ and 2004’s ‘The Lyon’s Den,’ both of which were cancelled after one season. He joined such stars as Sally Field (who won an Outstanding Lead Actress Emmy in 2007 for her role as the family’s matriarch, Nora Holden Walker), Rachel Griffiths, and Balthazar Getty in ‘Brothers & Sisters’ a third of the way through the series’ first season, which premiered in September 2006.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Inglourious Basterds, 30 Rock Win Big at SAG Awards

Inglourious Basterds, 30 Rock Win Big at SAG Awards

The Quentin Tarantino-helmed war movie ‘Inglourious Basterds’ and the hit NBC sitcom ‘30 Rock’ were the most honored at the 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild (or SAG) Awards ceremony on January 23, which was presented at the Shrine Exposition Center in Los Angeles, California.

The ceremony, which is unique in the fact that all winners are voted on by SAG members and only awards actors and actresses, handed the first award for film to Christoph Waltz of ‘Inglourious Basterds.’ He won the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role trophy, which is a statuette of a man holding both a mask of comedy and a mask of tragedy and is called the Actor, for role as SS Colonel Hans Landa. The cast of the movie also won the final trophy of the night, for best film ensemble.

The SAG awards also seemed to be a replay of last week’s Golden Globes telecast, as many of the winners won at both ceremonies. Jeff Bridges won for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of a down-on-his-luck country singer in ‘Crazy Heart.’ Sandra Bullock won her first SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role for her role as a football player’s mentor in the true story ‘The Blind Side.’

Comedienne Mo’Nique also proved she can be a serious actress by winning her first SAG award as well for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role as an abusive mother in ‘Precious.’

As for television, Michael C. Hall, who was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and is still undergoing treatments while in remission, won the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series award for his portrayal of the title role in the Showtime series ‘Dexter.’ Julianna Margulies won her seventh SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series for the CBS drama ‘The Good Wife.’ She won her previous six trophies for her role on NBC’s ‘ER.’

NBC received some positive news for the week, with Alec Baldwin winning the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series award for his portrayal of network executive Jack Donaghy on ‘30 Rock.’ Tina Fey, who also created, writes and produces the show, won the Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series award for her portrayal of Liz Lemmon. She added that she was completely shocked by the win, and joked that at 16 inches tall and 12 pounds, it’s the heaviest of any award.

AMC’s ‘Mad Men,’ which tells the story of Madison Avenue admen in the 1960s, won the Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. The FOX fan favorite ‘Glee,’ a musical comedy-drama that features 19 cast members and focuses on a high school glee club, won for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hesher Disappoints at Sundance

Hesher Disappoints at Sundance

Leading up to its premiere at the Eccles Center in Park City on January 22, director Spencer Susser’s ‘Hesher’ was one of the most anticipated movies as this year’s Sundance Film Festival. But during the post-screening question and answer period, the audience’s reaction to the film was less than stellar, according to

Representatives from numerous studios, including Focus Features and Summit Entertainment, showed up to see what the hype was about. But the consensus among the movie-goers was the comedy was too dark, lewd and oversentimental, and overall, the film felt messy.

Though most of the dirty humor was delivered by Sundance favorite Joseph-Gordon Levitt, who played the title character of ‘Hesher,’ his performance garnered the most positive reaction and laughter from the audience. He also received a warm round of applause during the Q-and-A session.

Modestly, Gordon-Levitt attributed his performance to the script. “I read a lot of scripts, and most of them don’t make me feel much. This one, I was instantly up on my feet and wanted to try it. It’s really just a well-written character. I can’t say it has much to do with me, per se.” Susser quickly responded that that was a lie, and the audience seemed to agree.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Arrested Development Movie in Works

Arrested Development Movie in Works

The critical television series hit ‘Arrested Development’ is indeed making its way to the big screen, one of the show’s stars, Will Arnett, recently confirmed to PopEater. While the actor admitted he wasn’t supposed to leak the announcement, which came after months of speculation, he did reveal some details about the highly-anticipated movie adaptation of the sitcom.

“As of now there is no start date, because we’re still waiting for the script to be completed,” Arnett said. But everyone involved in the show has agreed to move forward with the movie once the script is finished, “…so hopefully we’re going to start shooting sometime this year,” he added.

Arnett joked about what he would like to see in the script, saying “I did tell the writers that maybe it should be revealed that Gob (his character) is like this higher power, this deity, this figure that it turns out is almost god-like.” He also said that anyone like Gob, who is both clueless and has a kind of blind confidence, really makes him laugh. “Gob was very much written that way. For me he was a godsend.”

‘Arrested Development’ debuted in fall 2003 on the FOX network, and focused on the Bluths, a formerly wealthy, habitually dysfunctional family, and was presented in a pseudo-documentary format. While it won six Emmy awards, one Golden Globe and a spot on Time’s 100 Greatest Shows of All Time, the show never picked up in ratings, and was cancelled after its third season. But since it went off the air in February 2006 it has developed a cult following.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Pilot Ordered for Comic Series The Walking Dead

Pilot Ordered for Comic Series The Walking Dead

One of the television developments from last year that garnered attention from horror fans was the news that the AMC network wanted to create a series based on Robert Kirkman’s zombie comic series The Walking Dead. The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision Blog has now announced that the network has ordered a pilot for the show, which almost certainly guarantees that the show will be picked up to become a full series. AMC claims it has a 100 percent track record of turning every pilot it picks up into a series.

Interest in the series also grew when it was announced that Frank Darabont, who has directed such Stephen King-based films as ‘The Shawshank Redemption,’ ‘The Green Mile’ and ‘The Mist,’ would write, direct and executive produce the series. The comic follows former cop Rick Grimes and his fellow survivors who are trying to find a safe place to live after a zombie apocalypse.

In a press release about the comic’s imminent pick-up as a series, Kirkman stated “The Walking Dead’s road to the small screen has been a long one, but so far it’s looking like the best of all worlds. Given AMC’s track record, combined with (Frank) Darabont writing and directing, I couldn’t possibly be more excited for this to come together. Having the pilot green-lit is a huge leap forward to this becoming a reality.”

Written by: Karen Benardello

Highly Anticipated Films at Sundance Film Festival

Highly Anticipated Films at Sundance Film Festival

The 32nd annual Sundance Film Festival, one of the most anticipated showcases for new movies from American and international independent filmmakers, began on January 21 and runs until the 31st. Not only will more than 100 movies premiere during the 10-day festival, Sundance’s organizers have decided this year to make the selections accessible to the public, not only to those who attend the event in Park City, Utah.

YouTube launched its streaming video rental service during the second day of the festival, and will feature three titles from this year and two from last year. The IFC channel will also run three other titles on-demand to cable subscribers the same nights they premiere at Sundance. The Sundance Film Festival USA tour will also premiere another movie on January 28 in eight cities across the U.S.

Of the 100 movies premiering during the festival, there are several that are highly-anticipated and will most likely get distribution deals. They include ‘The Company Men,’ which marks the directorial debut of television producer John Wells. The drama, reminiscent of the recent George Clooney hit ‘Up in the Air,’ focuses on the economy and layoffs. At a white-collar company, several employees, including its founder, played by Tommy Lee Jones, and a rising hotshot, played by Ben Affleck, are hit particularly hard by the layoffs. The movie also features Maria Bello, Kevin Costner, Chris Cooper and Rosemarie DeWitt.

Another sure hit is ‘Nowhere Boy,’ a biography about the teenaged John Lennon. The movie focuses on when Lennon was raised by his aunt, played by Kristin Scott Thomas, and started The Beetles with Paul McCartney. This movie not only garnered attention for its subject matter and Johnson’s stand-out performance, but also created gossip in England last year when its 19-year-old star, Aaron Johnson, became engaged to its 42-year-old director, Sam Taylor-Wood.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt comes off his Golden-Globe nominated turn in ‘(500) Days of Summer’ in the movie ‘Hesher.’ He plays the title character, who becomes entangled in the lives of a grieving father, played by Rainn Wilson, and his young son. When dangerous drifter Heshner then chases after the retail clerk, played by Natalie Portman, the son has a crush on, things become complicated. The movie is also creating buzz that Gordon-Levitt will receive more nominations for his portrayal of the tattooed, greasy-haired Hesher.

Other noteworthy entries in this year’s festival include ‘Blue Valentine,’ which features Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a married couple who sees their relationship disintegrate as time jumps. Katie Holmes is set to make a career comeback, much like several of her ‘Dawson Creek’ co-stars are doing on television the past two seasons, in ‘The Romantics.’ Holmes leads the all-star cast, which includes Adam Brody, Josh Duhamel, Anna Paquin, Elijah Wood and Candice Bergen, in a story about young adults who reunite and relive old times at a wedding.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Friday, January 22, 2010

Life Unexpected Receives Good Ratings, Reviews

Life Unexpected Receives Good Ratings, Reviews

The CW’s new mid-season replacement drama, ‘Life Unexpected,’ which premiered on Monday, January 18, is deservingly receiving positive reviews from critics, including Entertainment Weekly. The series, which features former WB favorites Shiri Appleby (’Roswell’) and Kerr Smith (’Dawson’s Creek’), as well as Brittany Robertson and Kristoffer Polaha in the lead roles, chronicles the meeting of teenager Lux with her biological parents after spending all of her life in foster care. Lux hopes to become emancipated, but her mother, radio personality Cate Cassidy, decides to finally commit to commitment and take her in.

With a reported 2.4 million viewers during its premiere, the CW should take a hint that wholesome, feel-good family shows do sometimes strike up a bigger fanbase than flashier, sexier shows. The Ashton Kutcher-produced drama ‘The Beautiful Life,’ which focused on New York City models, was cancelled on September 23 after only two episodes, for example. Plus, even though the CW is labeling the ‘Melrose Place’ reboot of the ’90s fan favorite a hit series, the season high has only been 1.57 million viewers (not including the series premiere, which drew in 2.27 million viewers).

The network may only be keeping ‘Melrose Place’ on the air, and pushed the ‘Life Unexpected’ premiere back, because its other ’90s reboot, ‘90210,’ is currently airing its second season. The CW may not want to admit it made the wrong decision. After all, the ‘Life Unexpected’ pilot was the first ordered for the network’s 2009-10 season, but unfairly, it was the last picked up to become a series, and was put on the back burner for a whole year after its announcement.

‘Life Unexpected,’ which is produced by Mojo Films, in association with CBS Television Studios and Warner Bros. Television, also saw other drama. When it was first announced last January, the name was ‘Light Years,’ but was then changed to ‘LUX.’ It was quickly changed to ‘Life Unexpected,’ but in May, the CW promoted it as ‘Parental Discretion Advised.’ A month later, the network reverted back to ‘Life UneXpected,’ but then changed it again, taking out the capitalized X.

The show is a throwback to past CW and WB family fan favorites, including ‘Gilmore Girls,’ ‘Everwood’ and ‘7th Heaven,’ the longest-running family show in television history. If ‘Life Unexpected’ stays on its current track, it will be the only true teen hit the CW premiered this season, besides ‘The Vampire Diaries.’

Written by: Karen Benardello

Red Movie Begins Principal Photography

Red Movie Begins Principal Photography

Summit Entertainment has confirmed that principal photography for the spy-thriller movie “Red”, based on the DC Comics graphic novel written by Warren Ellis, has began in Toronto. The novel follows the life of Frank Moses, a former CIA agent, set to be played by Bruce Willis. Moses is living a normal life until an assassin comes looking for him. In an effort to save not only his life but the life of the woman he cares for, played by Mary-Louise Parker, Frank calls on his old team, portrayed by Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, and John Malkovich, to help him survive.

The movie, which also features Brian Cox, Richard Dreyfuss, Julian McMahon, James Remar and Rebecca Pidgeon, is being directed by Robert Schwentke, who has also worked on ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ and ‘Flightplan.’ The screenplay was written by Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber, who wrote ‘Whiteout.’

“I’m so excited at the phenomenal cast that Robert and our script have attracted,” said producer Lorenzo di Boneventura. “I think audiences are going to have a great time.” Summit’s President of Production Erik Feig added that the movie has something for everyone. “We are thrilled to see it come to vivid life with an outstanding cast, incredibly talented director, and top notch producing team,” he said.

After ‘Red’ finishes filming in and around Toronto for the next nine weeks, it will move to New Orleans in late March to film the last two weeks of principal photography. It’s set for release on October 22, 2010.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fourth ‘Pirates’ Movie to Begin Filming in Hawaii this Summer

Fourth ‘Pirates’ Movie to Begin Filming in Hawaii this Summer

Governor of Hawaii Linda Lingle publicly announced on January 19 that ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,’ the fourth installment in the popular Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films series starring Johnny Depp, will begin shooting on the islands of Kaua’i and O’ahu this summer. It was also announced that it’s being directed by Rob Marshall, and is expected to be released in summer 2011.

Bob Iger, the president and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, met with Governor Lingle on January 15 to tell her the news. The shooting of the film on those two islands is good news for the state, as it will bring in approximately $85 million and will provide hundreds of jobs.

Governor Lingle said she also supports the filming because it’s a testament to Disney’s confidence in Hawaii as a great place to do business. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer agreed with her, saying his company has always searched for the most extraordinary and exotic locations for the series. “(We) previously shot briefly on both Maui and Moloka’i for ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.’ Hawaii provides an amazing range of both land and seascapes, and we’re delighted to return for ‘On Stranger Tides.’”

Hawaii was chosen after its Creative Industries Division and Film Office organized a series of meetings and conference calls last year. The State’s Creative Industries Division, the Governor’s office, the Department of Taxation and Tourism, Hawaii’s Tourism Authority and Visitors and Convention Bureau, the Kaua’i Visitors Bureau and Film Office, the City and County’s Honolulu Film Office, The Resort Group, Ko Olina Resort and Disney Vacation Club all worked together to help secure the film for the islands.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Summit Entertainment Devloping ‘Push’ Television Series

Summit Entertainment Devloping ‘Push’ Television Series

A television series based on the 2009 film science fiction thriller ‘Push’ is currently in joint development by Summit Entertainment, the movie’s distributor, and independent studio E1 Entertainment. The announcement, which came on January 19, also stated the pilot is being written by David Hayter, who is also executive producing the series with Dark Hero Studios partner Benedict Carver.

The series marks the first time Summit will be developing and producing material for television. It will focus on people with paranormal powers who work together to dismantle a corrupt government agency. When asked why Summit was producing the series, Co-Chairmen Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger said “The concept behind the ‘Push’ feature film offers a broad and rich canvas on which to extend the storyline and characters introduced in the feature film.” They added it’s a perfect project to initiate the studio’s plans for producing television series.

The two studios are working together on getting a U.S. television license. E1 will handle the TV sales in Canada, as well as home entertainment and broadcasting rights in Canada and the U.K., while Summit will distribute the series in the U.S. As for the rest of the world, the two studios will handle different territories and split the foreign sales.

The film was directed by Paul McGuigan and starred Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Camilla Belle and Djimon Hounsou. It earned nearly $50 million worldwide.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Exclusive Interview with Actor Scott Krinsky

Exclusive Interview Scott Krinsky

Read our exclusive interview with actor Scott Krinsky who stars in the hit series “Chuck”.

1. As a child, you were a competitive swimmer, winning awards up to the state level. At Salisbury University, you majored in communications and broadcast journalism, and interned, and even worked for, CNN. So how did you become involved in stand-up, acting and comedy?

As a child it was always a secret fantasy of mine to be an actor. I was always drawn to comedy and great character actors, John Ritter, Bob Newhart, and Don Knotts come to mind as some favorites. It wasn’t until I was out of college and had to seriously consider my career options that I made the decision to pursue my dream. I thought, what do I really want to do with my life, and I just said what the hell, I’m gonna go for it. My parents weren’t too happy, but I began studying, doing theater and sketch comedy and eventually stand-up and here we are.

2. How has performing at many of Los Angeles’ popular comedy venues, including The Comedy Store and the Laugh Factory prepared you for your role as Jeff Barnes on Chuck?

When you do standup, you can really get in touch with some of the quirks and oddities that people respond to in you. As well, doing some characters and voices in my act, I basically get to do my own one man show as often as I can get up and perform. So it keeps me fresh and keeps the creative juices flowing.

3. How did it feel knowing that the two month “Save Chuck” campaign created by the fans helped bring it back for a third season?

It was very humbling and flattering and completely unexpected. We knew we had incredible fans, but for them to go to the lengths they did, we honestly have our fans to thank for coming back. They were quite amazing in how vocal and creative they were, using the media and creating publicity to save the show. I can’t thank them enough for the fact that I still have a job. Thank you again, if your reading this.

4. What is it like working on a show created by Josh Schwartz, the creator, writer and executive producer of the hit shows The O.C. and Gossip Girl?

It great! He’s brilliant and a super cool guy. The success and popularity of his shows is a testament to his creative genius. He really knows how to create great characters and tell great stories. I was actually on THE O.C for the fourth and final season as a recurring homeless bum (Daryl). It was only meant to be one episode and turned into five. After THE O.C. ended, he went on to co-create CHUCK and offered me the role of Jeff. I was beside myself to get a phone call like that from my agent. I feel complete and utter gratitude to Josh, and will forever, for giving me the biggest break of my career.

5. What makes Chuck different from other television comedies, and why should people watch it if they never have before?

It’s a premise that’s fresh and new. It blends drama, action and comedy all in one show. As an actor, it’s very refreshing to be part of something unique. Plus, Zach Levi is amazing actor. Without him playing CHUCK, there would be know CHUCK. We all have to play off of him. Oh, and there are a lot of hot girls, if anyone cares about that. It’s not that easy to put all those great elements into a show. Plus, we have such well written and conceived characters, hence the great chemistry amongst our cast. It’s contagious, and I think that’s why we have such passionate fans, they seem to have as much fun watching as we have making it. So if your not one, and your reading this, because you were like who the hell is this guy from CHUCK and why am I reading this interview with him all the way to the end, check out what you’ve been missing.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Exclusive Brian White Interview on The Cabin in the Woods

Exclusive Brian White Interview on The Cabin in the Woods

Read our exclusive interview with actor Brian J. White who stars in the upcoming film “The Cabin in the Woods” by director Drew Goddard and written by Joss Whedon.

1. You are currently starring in Ray Romano’s new comedy-drama television series Men of a Certain Age on TNT. The show focuses on three best friends in their late forties, dealing with the realities of middle age. Why will men relate to this show?

BW. I think all people can relate to this show because it is an honest look into the lives of the men we all know and love in our own lives - our fathers, brothers, uncles, friends, bosses, husbands. And the show tilts their hands and allows us inside their heads. What could be more fascinating?

2. The show has received positive reviews from critics, but has seen a weekly decline in ratings since its December 7 premiere. What do you want people to know about the show that will convince them to start watching, or come back to it?

BW. I think the show is still steadily finding and building it’s audience and that those who do tune in end up appreciating the quality of production, performances and all the TLC with which MOACA is made and remain loyal. I can also tell any of my fans who may read this interview, that ‘Marcus’ appears a lot more in the 2nd half of the season than he did in the 1st. And lastly, I honestly think each and every episode gets better and better each week as the season goes on! So please tune in and give us a chance, or come on back now… You won’t regret it!

3. Your next movie, The Cabin in the Woods, is a horror film. After starring in thrillers, comedies, dramas, fantasies and action movies, why did you feel compelled to try a whole new genre again?

BW. You just about hit the nail on the head with the word compelled. I was drawn to the project to try something new, to challenge myself and to work with new and amazing people. Simply, I think Joss Whedon is a genius and he happens to also be an icon in this genre. And my philosophy is to make every effort to work with “the best” and he’s tops in the horror/comedy/sci-fi realm. So… when he extended the offer to join him on this ride he didn’t have to ask me twice!

4. What is it about horror movies that makes people so attracted to them?

BW. Hmmm… Probably that same thing that makes traffic slow down on the highways on the opposite side from accidents!? LOL! But I don’t think you can label Cabin as just “horror.” Joss and Drew have truly created something new.

5. Cabins are a popular setting in horror movies. What is it about cabins that your character, Daniel Truman, finds terrifying?

BW. I would tell you but then I would have to kill you. Seriously. Joss made us sign NDA’s. LOL! All I can really say is that Daniel probably IMO has the most “unique” perspective of the cabin of any of the characters.

6. You have had a long, prosperous career, having starred in numerous television shows and movies, being a founding partner of the production company Media 3 Films, playing in the NFL for the New England Patriots and the NLL lacrosse league , being certified as a stock broker and being a young activist, having co-founded the professional dance company/community organization Phunk Phenomenon Urban Dance Theater and serving as the President of the Celebrity Relations for Warm2Kids Charitable Foundation. What has been your favorite profession and why?

BW. I can honestly say that I am happier and enjoying life more now than ever. There isn’t anything else I would prefer to be doing or anyplace I would prefer to be with regard to profession. I fell blessed, full, peaceful, happy, and grounded - I am ready for whatever the good lord has in store for me next. And people can always keep up with what’s new on my official website:

Questions Created by: Karen Benardello

Conan O’Brien Won’t Be Able to Bring Sketches If He Leaves NBC

Conan O’Brien Won’t Be Able to Bring Sketches If He Leaves NBC

With Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno receiving more hype now than when NBC switched their hosting duties last summer, as the network recently canceled Leno’s 10pm prime-time show and O’Brien is scheduled to film his last episode as “The Tonight Show” host on Friday, celebrities and fans alike are taking sides. But O’Brien’s fans have one less reason to celebrate their favorite male red-headed comedian’s departure from the network that wronged him: NBC owns the characters recurring comedy sketches featured on both “The Tonight Show” and ‘Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” the Hollywood Reporter announced.

That means if O’Brien accepts a job on another network, much like David Letterman did in 1993 when he moved from NBC to CBS, he won’t be able to bring his signature sketch routines, including Pimpbot 5000. However, O’Brien’s most popular character, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, might be excluded, as it was created by Rob Smigel, the man behind ‘SNL TV Funhouse’ and the voice of Triumph. It’s still not certain who owns Triumph-NBC or Smigel.

If O’Brien follows in Letterman’s lead, he might be able to use his established bits on other shows, as long as he changes the names. NBC tried to stop Letterman from taking his famous sketches to CBS’s “The Late Show,” but he simply changed the names; for example, ‘Viewer Mail’ became ‘CBS Mailbag.’ But The Hollywood Reporter also reported that O’Brien may feel more comfortable just starting new bits and sketches, rather than take his NBC characters with him, as he was released from his contract less than eight months after his debut.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Heroes Actor Jimmy-Jean Louis Visits Family in Haiti

Heroes Actor Jimmy-Jean Louis Visits Family in Haiti

While many Hollywood celebrities are donating money to Haiti after last week’s 7.0 earthquake, which is the greatest earthquake recorded in the world in 200 years, actor Jimmy-Jean Louis traveled to his native country to visit his parents and family. While they are having a hard time coping with the disaster, Louis told his family is safe.

The “Heroes” star also said that initially he feared his family was dead. But when Louis discovered they were indeed alive, they made peace with the fact that he was going to visit them. When they reunited, it was very emotional, he said, but also very nice that they could be together.

On the conditions in the country, Louis said the scene is so horrific and graphic, it’s something he hopes no one ever has to see again. “The bodies in the streets become like a piece of garbage, the way they treat them.” Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive stated that over 70,000 bodies have been buried in mass graves so far, which Louis has confirmed. The actor said the government is burning so many bodies that the smell is becoming as natural as the smell of flowers.

But Louis also hopes people realize the damage hasn’t just affected Port-Au-Prince, the nation’s capital, where all of the journalists are reporting from. “…the same earthquake went miles and miles and miles around to hit three, four, five other big cities. It’s just that people can’t make it yet to the next city,” he said.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Dennis Hopper Files for Divorce

Dennis Hopper Files for Divorce

Famed movie and television actor Dennis Hopper has filed for divorce in Los Angeles from his fifth wife, Victoria. Court records show he cited irreconcilable differences, and is seeking both joint legal and physical custody of their 6-year-old daughter Galen.

Hopper does plan to provide Victoria with spousal support, in part due to the length of the relationship. The couple has been together for 18 years, and married five years into the relationship. This is Hopper’s longest marriage of the five, which includes an 8-day union to Michelle Phillips.

The announcement came as a surprise, as the Huffington Post has reported that Hopper is mentally confused, after taking enormous amounts of medication for his prostate cancer in recent weeks to help with his declining condition. But the publication is suggesting that if the actor does not make it through, he is worried about who would get his money and possessions. The Post also suggested he wants to get Victoria out of the will.

In addition to Galen, Hopper has three grown children, Marin, Henry and Ruthiana (to whom he reportedly has not spoken to in years). Both Marin, her daughter and Henry have lived close to Hopper for the past few years and plan to do so for the foreseeable future.

The report came after Hopper recently finished shooting the second season of the Starz series Crash. He portrays L.A. music producer Ben Cendars on the series.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ricky Gervais, Surprise Wins Helped Golden Globes' Unpredictability Factor

Ricky Gervais, Surprise Wins Helped Golden Globes Unpredictability Factor

In an attempt to increase the show’s unpredictability factor, NBC tapped Ricky Gervais to serve as the first host of the Golden Globe Awards since 1995, and it seems to have worked. At last night’s 67th annual presentation of the ceremony, which took place at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, Gervais didn’t hold back, and provided witty, controversial comments. The Hollywood Foreign Press, the organization that chooses the night’s winners, also helped boost the program’s ratings by choosing surprise winners.

Legends Mel Gibson and Sir Paul McCartney weren’t even sparred from Gervais’ jokes. When the creator of Britain’s version of The Office announced Gibson’s entrance to present, he held up his beer and said he couldn’t be held responsible for what he said. He added that he loved his beer as much as the next guy, except if that guy was Gibson, who was famously arrested in 2006 for a DUI. Gervais also said that McCartney flew coach to L.A. because of all the money he spent last year in his divorce from Heather Mills.

The first category of the ceremony was best supporting actress in a movie. The surprise winner was Mo’Nique, for her role as Mary Lee Johnston in the critically-acclaimed drama “Precious,” as she often stars in comedic roles. An abuse survivor herself, she also gave an uplifting, emotional speech, and dedicated the award to “every person who’s ever been touched.”

Another surprising win was director James Cameron for his blockbuster hit “Avator.” While the film is now the third highest ranking in the U.S. behind last year’s winner “The Dark Knight” and Cameron’s other monster hit “Titanic,” director Kathryn Bigelow of “The Hurt Locker” was the popular choice in that category. “The Hurt Locker,” which, is considered to be the most underrated, and even the best, film of 2009, and Cameron even admitted during his acceptance speech that he thought he was going to lose to Bigelow.

Another surprise win was in the television miniseries or movie actress category. Former child star Drew Barrymore finally won her first Golden Globe for her portrayal of Edith Bouvier Beale/”Little Edie” in HBO’s original film “Grey Gardens.” While her co-star Jessica Lange was believed to be the favorite as her role as mother Edith Ewing Bouvier/”Big Edie,” Barrymore seemed humbled that she finally was honored by the Foreign Hollywood Press. During her speech, she admitted she has been waiting for awhile, saying “I’ve been in this room since I was seven years old.”

The most heartfelt and surprise win of the night was Michael C. Hall, who was honored for his title role in the Showtime drama “Dexter.” Hall, who publicly admitted last week he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and is undergoing treatments, was determined to attend the ceremony anyway. He beat out fellow actors Simon Baker, Jon Hamm, Hugh Laurie and Bill Paxton.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Several Shows Renewed for Second Season

Several Shows Renewed for Second Season

Half-way through the prime-time television season, networks are starting to announce which shows have the good fortune of being renewed for another season. The biggest surprise that came on Thursday, January 14, was TNT’s announcement that it decided to bring the Ray Romano drama ‘Men of a Certain Age’ back for a second season, as reported in the television section of

Romano’s first TV series since his hit CBS sitcom ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ went off the air in 2005. ‘Men of a Certain Age’ focuses on the everyday lives of three male best friends, played by Romano, Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula, who are nearing their fifties. Romano stars as a separated father of two who runs a party store and battles compulsive gambling, while Bakula plays an aging actor. Meanwhile, Braugher portrays a family man who works for his father as a car salesman.

The drama, which airs Mondays at 10PM and premiered last month after the hit crime show ‘The Closer,’ is averaging 4.4 million viewers per episode. But the drama enjoyed the best ratings of any new show launched on basic cable in 2009 and was the top new show among adults 25-54, which in part persuaded the network to order 10 additional episodes.

The more obvious second season pick-ups include the strongly rated CBS dramas ‘NCIS: Los Angeles’ and ‘The Good Wife.’ Both shows rank as the top new shows in terms of total viewers. The LL Cool J and Chris O’Donnell-helmed ‘NCIS: Los Angeles’ averages 16.8 million viewers per week, while ‘The Good Wife,’ starring Julianna Margulies, Christine Baranski, and Chris Noth, averages 13.7 million viewers.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Michael C. Hall Diagnosed with Cancer

Michael C. Hall Diagnosed with Cancer

Michael C. Hall, more commonly known for his portrayal of the title role-serial killer protagonist on Showtime’s hit series ‘Dexter,’ has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his representative Craig Bankey confirmed Wednesday, January 13 to CNN. Bankey added that the disease is in complete remission. In a statement released by the actor that same day, the actor said he was fortunate enough to be diagnosed with a “treatable and curable condition,” and thanked his doctors for their help.

Treatments will continue as scheduled, even though Hall still plans to attend this weekend’s Golden Globe awards, as well as the Screen Actors Guild ceremony later this month, with his wife and co-star Jennifer Carpenter. He is nominated at both ceremonies for his role as Dexter. Bankey also added that the diagnosis won’t prevent the actor from returning to the production of the drama’s fifth season later this year.

Hall first became recognized while starring on another movie network show dealing with death. He portrayed funeral director David Fisher on the HBO series ‘Six Feet Under’ for five seasons, before accepting the role of Dexter, a police blood splatter expert-turned-serial killer.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Friday, January 15, 2010

"Best Week Ever" Cancelled After Six Years

VH1s Best Week Ever Cancelled After Six Years

While the VH1 show Best Week Ever is known for bringing fans a comedic recap of the week’s biggest news stories, the show that features mainly unknown comedians has put its flare on its strangest story yet: reporting its own cancellation.

The series was created in 2004 as a spinoff of the network’s popular I Love the 80’s mini-series. Originally, it featured a variety of talking heads, but in an attempt to bolster sagging ratings in 2008, the producers brought in former Daily Show contributor Paul F. Tompkins as a permanent host. Even after this change, ratings continued to decline, and the show was put on an indefinite hiatus last summer, which the network announced would become definite on January 13.

According to a statement on the show’s website,, “The folks that worked on the show were some of the smartest, funniest, kindest people you could find. It was a real creative collaboration from start to finish, and in between hard work and late hours you could find real friendships and dedication. It goes without saying that each and every person who helped make Best Week Ever the success it became will move on to even bigger and brighter opportunities.”

Some of the Best Week Ever staff will even get the opportunity to maintain the show’s website, at least for the foreseeable future, and will continue publishing the latest news stories, interviews and videos. “The blog will be here to nurture you, comfort you, hold your hand, and be the footsteps in your digital sand,” the website’s statement even joked.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Robert Downey, Jr. No Longer to Star in "Cowboys & Aliens"

Robert Downey, Jr. No Longer Attached to Cowboys and Aliens

Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr. has reportedly left the upcoming sci-fi Western movie Cowboys & Aliens to work out a deal on a potential Sherlock Holmes sequel, according to a reported published Monday, January 11 in The Los Angeles Times. However, director Jon Favreau, who worked previously with Downey, Jr. on Iron Man, will remain on board for the adaptation of the 2006 graphic novel.

The production of Cowboys & Aliens is expected to begin later this year, and is slated for a summer 2011 release. The story focuses on Zeke Jackson (the character Downey was set to portray), a gunslinger in the mid-19th century who leads a group of cowboys and Apache Indians against an alien invasion in Arizona.

However, Downey Jr.’s involvement with Cowboys & Aliens, while rumored to be true as recently as this fall, was never actually confirmed. The actor told MTV News in April that his involvement was uncertain. While the Sherlock Holmes sequel isn’t confirmed as of yet, either, it certainly looks good. The film, which opened on Christmas Day, is on its way to the $300 million mark, and Downey, Jr. has been nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor.

The screenplay for Cowboys & Aliens was written by Star Trek and Transformers writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci and Lost producer Damon Lindelof, and reportedly steers away from the storyline used in the graphic novel. It also may be filmed in 3D, after the overwhelming success of James Cameron’s recent movie Avator.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Spider-Man Movie Series Gets New Cast, Storyline

Spider-Man Film Series Revamped with New Cast and Storyline

The Spider-Man series is getting completely rebooted with a new cast and storyline, Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios announced on Monday, January 11, and will hit theaters during the summer of 2012. The movie will be based on a script written by James Vanderbilt, and will bring Peter Parker back to high school, once again focusing on the teenager grappling with his transformation into the superhero.

While Spider-Man 4 with Tobey Maguire and producer Sam Raimi was supposed to be released next year, it never went into production. While Raimi’s Spider-Man series will always be an important franchise for Sony Pictures, Michael Lynton, the Chairman and CEO of the studio, said, “We have always believed that story comes first and story guides the direction of these films.” But the studio felt it was time to move onto the next chapter, and Lynton added that “…we will do so with the highest respect for the source material and the fans.”

Matt Tolmach, the president of Columbia Pictures, gave his consent to the new version, adding that the studio is excited about what comes next. “Under the continuing supervision of (producers) Avi (Arad) and Laura (Ziskin), we have a clear vision for the future of Spider-Man and can’t wait to share this exciting new direction with audiences in 2012,” he said.

Raimi has also given his consent to the new direction of the series. “Working on the Spider-Man movies was the experience of a lifetime for me. While we were looking forward to doing a fourth one together, the studio and Marvel have a unique opportunity to take the franchise in a new direction, and I know they will do a terrific job.”

Written by: Karen Benardello

Breaking Dawn Has Tentative Fall Shooting Schedule

Breaking Dawn Could Possibly Begin Filming this Fall

The movie version of Breaking Dawn, the fourth book in the wildly popular Twilight Saga series, could possibly start shooting in Vancouver this fall, franchise producer Wyck Godfrey told The Los Angeles Times.

However, the franchise’s distributor, Summit Entertainment, has been unsure how to proceed with filming Breaking Dawn, as the book focuses on the birth of Edward Cullen and Bella Swan’s daughter, Renesmee. The child is born half-vampire, half-human, and quickly grows, both physically and mentally. Godfrey told the newspaper that the creative team still doesn’t know how they’ll handle the character, as Renesmee to life is going to be one of the movie’s biggest challenges. “It’s certainly going to be visual effects in some capacity along with an actor. I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being a full CG creation, but it also may be a human shot on a soundstage that then is used to shrink down.”

Touching on the question of whether to shoot one or two films based on the book, “The issue is not going to be resolved until we get the full treatment and see whether it’s organic,” said Godfrey, adding “It really has to do with how much level of detail from the books there is.” He also said that Summit hasn’t signed a director yet, as the company is looking for someone who will be able to handle “the emotions and the intensity of the love story,” as well as the action and visual effects.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Josh Duhamel, Fergie Renew Vows

Josh Duhamel and Fergie Renew Wedding Vows

To prove their marriage is just as strong as it was when they wed one year ago, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen actor Josh Duhamel surprised his wife, Nine actress and Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie, with a vow renewal ceremony last Wednesday, January 6, is reporting.

While the couple had a lavish wedding last January 10 in front of hundreds of guests in Malibu, this time Duhamel decided to give his wife a small, intimate ceremony. Their renewal ceremony was quite low-key, as it just included the two of them and the minister.

According to US, Duhamel surprised Fergie by arranging a private helicopter ride from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara. When they arrived, a limo brought the couple to the luxe Bacara Resort & Spa, where the ceremony took place for 15 minutes on a bluff overlooking the ocean. After the ceremony, Duhamel and Fergie ate a private dinner at Miro, the resort’s upscale restaurant, before it opened to the public. After they finished eating, the two headed back to the helicopter and flew back to L.A.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Simon Cowell Leaving Hit Show "American Idol"

Simon Cowell Confirms Leaving American Idol

One of the main people responsible for the continued success of American Idol is following in Paul Abdul’s footsteps at the conclusion of this season, according to the television section of After several weeks of speculation, Simon Cowell has announced that he did not renew his contract with the hit FOX show, so that he will be free to develop the American version of the popular British hit The X Factor. The similarly-themed singing competition is scheduled to premiere during the fall 2011 season.

Part of the reason there was such a delay in the official announcement was because the FOX network didn’t have an agreement with the show’s producers until yesterday morning, Cowell told TV Critics’ Association (TCA) reporters yesterday afternoon. Cowell also confirmed to the reporters that he will be judging and executive producing the show.

FOX’s President of Alternative Entertainment Mike Darnell added that the network is, of course, happy to be continuing a successful relationship with Cowell. “The X Factor has been a massive success around the world, and we can’t wait to bring it to the U.S. in 2011,” he added.

While Cowell officially signed his contract for The X Factor at the end of the conference, there is no news yet on American Idol’s future, and how much longer the series will last after his departure. “Our expectation is that ‘Idol’ will go on for many, many, many more seasons,” FOX chairman Peter Rice did say.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Weekend of Movie Flops Before Awards Season Begins

The Award Season Starts Yet Some Movies Still Flop

With the 67th annual Golden Globe Awards airing next weekend comes both the first major ceremony for critics to honor Hollywood this decade and “the worst of their careers” for some actors.

According to, one actor who saw his newest movie flop during its first weekend of release was Tim Allen. Crazy on the Outside teamed Allen with his Wild Hogs co-star Ray Liotta, and was released through Freestyle Releasing. The Home Improvement star’s directorial debut earned a dismal $75,450 from the 75 screens it premiered on.

Meanwhile, the Weinstein Company, who had previous hits with Clerks II and Inglourious Basterds, unveiled its wide release Youth in Revolt, starring Michael Cera. However, the young actor who helped make Juno and Superbad commercial hits failed to bring in the teen audience again, giving the film studio another unsuccessful post-holiday movie. Youth in Revolt, which is aimed at the same young male audience who is still flocking to see Avator, earned a modest $7,000,000 from its 1,873 screens. However, the $3,737 per-theater average gave Cera his worst wide release ever.

Another Weinstein Company-dud is the star-studded musical Nine, which dropped out of the top ten. Its overall gross dropped an alarming 59%, grossing only $1,618,000 on its 1,060 screens. After a month in release, it has only grossed $16,840,000 against a reported $80 million budget. While lead actor Daniel Day-Lewis is nominated for a Golden Globe, if the critics agree with the number of tickets sold, he won’t be winning his second statue from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Monday, January 11, 2010

Daybreakers Review

I got to screen Daybreakers movie in NYC on Wednesday, January 6th for!

Here's my review and the link:

Title: Daybreakers

Directed by: The Spierig Brothers

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Claudia Karvan, Michael Dorman, Vince Colosimo, Isabel Lucas and Sam Neill.

While vampires have been portrayed as sexy and sensitive as they try to recapture their humanity while they form relationships with humans in recent movies and television series, no one has thought what would happen to them if the population they’re trying to emulate suddenly started to dwindle and become extinct. That is, until the Spierig Brothers, two Australian writers and directors, wrote the screenplay for Daybreakers, the new Lionsgate horror/thriller/science-fiction movie starring Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill.

Daybreakers, which is set in 2019, focuses on the mysterious plague that has swept across the world in a period of ten years. The plague has transformed most of the world’s human population into vampires, leaving the few humans who are left an endangered species forced into hiding. It’s estimated that there are only enough humans left to feed the vampires for the next month. In order to survive, the vampires must hunt those humans who are left while searching for a blood substitute. The army of vampires who are instead feeding off the blood of other vampires instead of humans have turned into bat-like creatures known as subsiders.

Edward Dalton (played by Hawke), a hematologist and researcher for the Bromley Corporation, refuses to feed on human blood, as he was unwillingly turned into a vampire ten years earlier by his brother Frankie (portrayed by Michael Dorman), and wishes to retain his humanity. Edward’s job is to find the blood substitute that will sustain both the human and vampire races. But when he meets human Audrey Bennett (played by Claudia Karvan) and Lionel ‘Elvis’ Cormac (portrayed by Dafoe), a former vampire who became human again, Edward turns against his race to try to find a permanent, widespread cure for vampirism.

Several aspects of Daybreakers definitely exceeded expectations, including the visual effects. With a budget of only $21 million, which is approximately only one-tenth of the money director James Cameron spent on Avatar, the Spierig Brothers’ constant dedication and hard work shone through. They were able to pull off having a subtle futuristic world that still resembled what our neighborhoods look like today, with familiar settings as restaurants, subways and skyscrapers. But they also included advanced technology, including security systems in the vampires’ homes to alert them when even a door was opened and full body suits and darkened car windows to protect them from the sun, which convincingly showed that the vampires now ruled the world.

While the budget constricted how many CGI effects the Spierig Brothers were able to include, and forced them to do 350 computer effects themselves, they stated in interviews that creating authentic subsiders and vampires on set actually benefited the movie. For the subsiders, for example, special make-up effects designer Steve Boyle created a full-body outfit of prosthetics using latex foam and silicon, according to Lionsgate. Instead of creating the creatures on the computer, Boyle put real actors in these costumes, which took eleven hours to be glued on to their bodies and included wings, allowing the rest of the actors to provide authentic fright and fear while working with them.

Daybreakers will also be able to attract a diverse audience, as it combines self-loathing vampires, including Edward and Alison, who wish to retain their, and revert back to, humanity. This theme has proven successful in such films as Interview with the Vampire and Twilight, and shows as True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, as audiences like to relate to the characters they’re watching, even if they’re supernatural in nature. Audiences will also appreciate the fact that Daybreakers’ self-loathing vampires, much like those in the films and television shows before it, are at the same time battling the evil vampires who don’t care about human life.

The plot also works because it contains a subtle message, which isn’t always found in horror/science-fiction films. While Daybreakers’ obvious story-line is that the human species is quickly dwindling, almost to the point of extinction, leaving the vampires in a panic and questioning how they will survive, it points to our society’s current dependency on natural resources, such as oil. If in real life we don’t find a substitute to oil, much like the blood substitute the vampires need in the movie, we will all become desperate enough to continually kill for it.

However, while the CGI effects, costumes, setting, the story’s message and the actors’ reactions all have redeeming qualities, the plotline is run thin and does have some confusing aspects. For example, the audience is told that Charles Bromley (played by Sam Neill), who runs the Bromley Corporation and is Edward’s boss, has a human daughter. But when Edward first meets Audrey, it is easy to believe that she may be Charles’ daughter, as Edward questions him about her. It’s not later on until the audience finds out that Charles’ daughter is Alison (played by up-and-coming Australian actress Isabel Lucas).

Another confusing aspect of the plot is that Lionel was supposedly cured of being a vampire by walking into the sun after crashing his car. But the rest of the vampires are immediately burnt to ashes after coming into contact with the sun. To help the audience understand better how the vampires are cured, the Spierig Brothers should have added more details to this aspect of the story.

While the characters in such movies as Underworld and Twilight have enough back stories and conflicts to successfully create trilogies, not much is revealed about any of the characters Daybreakers. Even Hawke and Dafoe, who have both been nominated for Academy Awards, weren’t given enough material to make their characters individually memorable. If this film is financially successful enough, there is no doubt a sequel will be made, but the Spierig Brothers may have a hard time creating new ideas and a new story-line.

Overall, Daybreakers may not be as financially successful, or make as big of an impact on American culture, as other vampire movies and television shows. But those older audiences who aren’t interested in Twilight, but who like Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe, and enjoyed Interview with the Vampire and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the blood, gore and nudity of True Blood should definitely check out Daybreakers.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Links to my Interviews with Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and The Spierig Brothers!

I got to interview Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe, the stars, and Peter and Michael Spierig (The Spierig Brothers), the writers and directors, of Daybreakers, at the ACE Hotel in NYC on Wednesday, January 6, for!

Here are the links:

Jay Leno's 10pm Show Cancelled

Jay Leno 10pm Show Canceled; Possible Later Timeslot?

Jay Leno’s New Year’s wishes to keep his current 10 pm show have not been answered. NBC announced during the TV Critics’ Association (TCA) Press Tour in Pasadena yesterday that the hour-long Jay Leno Show, which premiered during the 10 pm eastern time slot in mid-September as a lead-in to local news broadcasts, has been canceled. Though the show initially debuted to high numbers after Leno stepped down as The Tonight Show host in May after 17 years, it has seen a steep decline in ratings during recent months.

Since The Tonight Show with Jay Leno consistently brought NBC higher numbers than CBS’ Late Night with David Letterman, NBC Universal Television Entertainment Chairman Jeff Gaspin announced that the network hopes to start a half-hour program with Leno at 11:35 pm, leading into the new version of The Tonight Show with current host Conan O’Brien at 12:05 am. This announcement comes days after numerous media outlets speculated that The Jay Leno Show was canceled. These rumors started after numerous NBC affiliates contacted Gaspin, saying they were upset the declining ratings for Leno’s new show were cutting into their advertising revenue.

Gaspin said that he wanted to give Leno’s new show at least a year’s try, but “While it was performing at acceptable levels, it did not meet our affiliates’ needs. My goal right now is to keep Jay [Leno], Conan [O'Brien] and Jimmy [Fallon] as part of our late-night lineup.” The network hopes to have the scheduling figured out by the time the Olympics start, and in the mean time, the network will once again start showing scripted and reality shows, in addition to Dateline, during the 10 o’clock hour.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Sunday, January 3, 2010

ESA Builds One Satellite After Another

December 2009 National Scene Magazine Space Article

What’s the Rush to Build More Satellites? (archived Dec. 2009)

Just Weeks After the European Space Agency Launched its Two Newest Satellites to Study the Global Climate and Environment, Agency Already Building More

Written by: Karen Benardello

Two European Space Agency (ESA) satellites, including the Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission and the Proba-2, were launched on November 1 from Plesetsk in northern Russia, in an effort to study the global climate and environment.

The SMOS, which is the second satellite in the Earth Explorer series, will focus mainly on monitoring climate change. The satellite is unique in the fact that it features an interferometric radiometer that will study the water cycle between oceans, land and the atmosphere. It’s also the first satellite to map sea surface salinity and to monitor soil moisture.

Proba-2 is following up on the successful 2001 launch of the Proba-1. Both are demonstration satellites under ESA’s Project for Onboard Autonomy. Proba-2 is specifically focusing on 17 advanced satellite technologies, such as a highly sophisticated CCD camera. The satellite is also carrying a set of four science instruments to observe the Sun and study the plasma environment in orbit.

The satellites both started their sun-synchronous orbits by circling the Earth, with the SMOS reaching 760 km, and the Proba-2 reaching 725 km. While the Proba-2 won’t be fully functional until January, and the SMOS is hoping for a May start date, Jean-Jacques Dordain, the ESA’s Director General, said as he watched the launch; “We are extremely pleased with this double ‘lucky strike’ that will provide Europe with new tools to better understand our planet and climate change, as well as new technology breakthroughs that will enhance the competitiveness of European industry on the world-wide market, thus contributing to the global economy.”

Hopefully, both the SMOS and the Proba-2 will be as successful as the ESA plans, since the agency is putting so much faith that they will collect environmental data. For instance, Volker Liebig, the ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programs, said that the SMOS, for example, will “complement measurements already performed on the ground and at sea to monitor water exchanges on a global scale. Since these exchanges – most of which occur in remote areas – directly affect the weather, they are of paramount importance to meteorologists.” This comment makes it seem as though the world’s water supply is depending on the satellite’s success.

Just because the first Proba and the first satellite in the Earth Explorer series were successful doesn’t mean these two will go as well. While monitoring the climate change and water supply is important, and building satellites surely take time, the ESA shouldn’t be rushing to build more, as these two current satellites aren’t even fully operational yet.

But instead of focusing time and money on other pressing matters, including war, disease and other natural disasters, three more Earth Explorers and two more Proba missions are already being designed and developed. Space exploration is important, but there are more pressing matters that need to be taken care of before more satellites are developed.

Weather Observations, Data Important in Climate Research

January 2010 National Scene Magazine Space Article

Why are Weather Observations Important in Climate Change Research?

Nearly 200 Space Agencies Gathered at UN Conference to Discuss Why Data is Important

Written by: Karen Benardello

In an effort to emphasize the role that Earth surveillance satellites play in providing climate observations, representatives from 190 international space agencies attended a two-week UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen early last month.

About 150 people attended an event hosted by the European Space Agency (ESA) on Thursday, December 10, during which numerous scientists discussed why weather observations are important in climate change research. Dr Stephen Briggs, ESA’s Head of Earth Observation Science, Applications and Future Technologies Department, also discussed how ESA is working to meet the needs of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in conjunction with its new Climate Change Initiative.

“ESA has developed the Climate Change Initiative to generate, preserve and give access to long-term data sets of the essential climate variables and make them freely available to climate research and modeling communities worldwide,” Briggs said.

Building on data that multiple international space agencies provide, the initiative will also assure the availability of global climate information for the future. Such information will include sea-ice extent and thickness and greenhouse-gas concentrations.

At the ESA event, Gilberto Camara, the Director of the Brazilian Institute for Space Research (INPE), also insisted that space agencies need to support such climate observations as greenhouse-gas. “Operational monitoring of climate using Earth observation is essential. This cannot be done alone. Therefore, there is a need for space agencies to coordinate and work together…the ‘data democracy’ needs to reach the masses,” she said.

European Environmental Agency Director Jacqueline McGlade was also on-hand at the event. She spoke about the need to watch the alteration speed of glaciers. “Political decision-makers count money; we will make them count water, clean air and forests…Climate change impact is a reality. Space tells us a great deal and being on the ground tells us even more. The combination of the two is essential.”

Using satellites in space to observe the Earth’s weather and climate habits is one area that space agencies should support. Scientists need to be able to study how the environment of today will alter the climate of the future, so that they can try to curtail any possible negative effects. Instead of focusing on whether or not there’s water on planets galaxies away from earth, such organizations as the ESA and NASA need to focus on how climate trends, such as greenhouse gases and glacial melting, is affecting life here on Earth.

UN Thinks Industrialization of Africa Will Help it Succeed

December 2009 National Scene Magazine International Article

When Will Africa Be Able to Join the Global Economy? (archived Dec. 2009)

UN Thinks the Industrialization of the Continent Is the Key to its Success

Written by: Karen Benardello

The industrialization of Africa, which will help the continent fully join the global economy, is being hindered by armed conflict, limited financing and technological abilities, policies that stifle entrepreneurship, inadequate infrastructure, weak governance, limited competition and the rising cost of doing business, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said during the annual Africa Industrialization Day November 20, the international organization reported on its official website.

Ki-moon spoke during a symposium in Vienna, and said “Efforts to address these challenges must be rooted in a shared global responsibility for our planet's prosperity.” He also added the UN knows what the continent needs, including a green agricultural revolution linked to industrial transformation, and leaders of all African countries must provide financial support for such changes to occur. Also noted during the speech was the fact that while economic growth has been somewhat encouraging during the past several years, increased industrialization is necessary for African economies to continually prosper.

The Secretary-General also rightfully suggested the world must work with the African governments to research, make investments and use technology to help feed the continent’s population and raise living standards. The population has longed suffered from terrible living conditions, including famine, disease, poverty and natural disasters, and people around the world need to do more than just writing checks.

The African Industrialization Day came two days after the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Director-General Kandeh K. Yumkella warned that the continent must overcome the obstacles of boosting its industrial production and gaining a larger share of world trade to benefit from the global economy, the UN’s website also reported.

Yumkella also seemed less optimistic at Africa’s six percent annual growth rate between 2003 and 2007. He pointed to a number of barriers in the continent’s path to developing its manufacturing sector, including weak support from institutions, limited industrial skills and technological capabilities, inadequate financing and underdeveloped internal and regional markets, as well as the recent global financial and economic turmoil.

The director also stated that Africa must “focus on industrialization as a critical engine of economic growth and development” if it wants to recover economically and increase its share of world trade. Hopefully the UN and UNIDO can work together, with the governments of the world, to help Africa thrive.

UN Wants Serbia, Kenya to Help Capture Suspects of Massacres

January 2010 National Scene Magazine International Article

When Will These Fugitives Finally be Caught?

UN Scolds Serbia and Kenya For Not Helping Capture Suspects of Massacres from the 1990s

Written by: Karen Benardello

The twenty countries who participated in the United Nations (UN) war crimes tribunals on December 3 scolded both Serbia and Kenya for not assisting officials in the capture of suspects of massacres from the 1990s.

Top UN officers demanded Serbia’s helping in arresting the two remaining fugitives accused of atrocities in the Balkan conflicts. One is Ratko Mladic, a Bosnian Serb military chief in Bosnia and Herzegovina who faces numerous charges, including genocide, murder, deportation, taking of hostages and inflicting terror on civilians. He is also remembered for the massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys in July 1995 in one of the most infamous events of the Balkan wars.

The other fugitive is Serb politician Goran Hadžic. He is charged with murder, persecutions, torture, cruel treatment and crimes against humanity, in connection with his role as president of a self-proclaimed breakaway state of rebel Serbs in southern Croatia.

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Prosecutor Serge Brammertz told the Security Council that apprehending both Mladic and Hadžic is one of his highest priorties. He added that there has been some progress in Serbia’s assistance in providing more effective access to documents.

Judge Patrick Robinson, who is the President of the ICTY, showed his disdain of the two fugitives staying on the run by urging the Security Council “…to seek ways to facilitate their immediate arrest. If these two men are not brought to justice, it will tarnish the Security Council’s historic contribution to peace-building in the former Yugoslavia.”

Eleven fugitives who are still on the run in connection with the 1994 genocide in which 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred by extremist Hutus in Rwanda worried the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). While the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Uganda were praised for their recent transfer of two alleged ringleaders, Grégoire Ndahimana and Idelphonse Nizeyimana respectively, ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Jallow reported “no progress in the matter of cooperation” from Kenya in the case of Félicien Kabuga. “Repeated requests to the Government of Kenya for details of Kabuga’s reported departure from that country have gone unanswered for the past 12 months. This situation should not be allowed to continue,” he said.

Jallow was correct in also saying that Kenya should legally be required, under its obligations with the UN Charter and international law, to fully collaborate with the ICTR. Kabuga, as well as the other ten fugitives, need to be apprehended and charged for their crimes. The only way to capture them after 15 years is to increase tracking efforts, as Jallow suggested, and offer immunity to those who help lead authorities to the fugitives’ whereabouts.

Hate Crime Indictment in Shenandoah, PA

January 2010 National Scene Magazine National Article

What Was Motivation of Hate Crime in Small PA Town?

Teens, Police Officers From Shenandoah Indicted After Attack, Death of Luis Ramirez

Written by: Karen Benardello

Two teenagers and four police officers from the small town of Shenandoah, Penn. were indicted by a federal judge on December 15, as a result of a hate crimes investigation that was launched following the attack of Luis Ramirez in July 2008.

According to the Associated Press, Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky were charged with a hate crime shouting racial slurs and fatally beating their Hispanic victim. The indictments seem to be related to Hispanic advocates insisting that the killing is part of the rising number of hate crimes against Latinos in America.

If the teens are indeed responsible for Ramirez’ death, they do need to be punished, as Piekarsky was acquitted of third-degree murder and ethnic intimidation, and Donchak was acquitted of aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation. So far, they have only been convicted of simple assault.

Matthew Nestor, the Shenandoah police chief, and three of his officers were also indicted, on such charges as witness tampering and lying to the FBI. In addition, the police chief, Lt. William Moyer and Officer Jason Hayes were all also charged with conspiring to obstruct justice.

Ramirez was attacked when half-a-dozen high school football players were going home after a block party when they passed him in a park. After an argument broke out, ethnic slurs were passed on both sides, and the teens’ defense attorneys claim Ramirez was the aggressive one. When Ramirez and Piekarsky began throwing punches, Donchak’s lawyers claim he jumped in to stop the fight.

Ultimately, prosecutors believe Ramirez died when Piekarsky kicked him in the head, but his defense lawyers claim one of the other teens delivered the fatal blow. Hopefully, the teens will confess to what they really did do, to bring justice to Ramirez nearly a year-and-a-half after his death.