<p>Oh, look, it&#39;s a rising star.</p>

Oh, look, it's a rising star.

Credit: HitFix

Jerrod Carmichael on the comic freedom he felt while shooting 'Neighbors'

Ladies and gentlemen, meet one of your next comedy superstars

Jerrod Carmichael is about to become unavoidable.

That's the buzz in the LA comedy scene, anyway, and based on his work in the new film "Neighbors," I would agree that it is only a matter of time before everyone knows this young comedian and his work.

This past week, he was on the road going college-to-college to promote the film, along with co-stars Dave Franco (who we spoke to yesterday) and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and it sounds like it was an insane trip. I remember talking to Mintz-Plasse when he was just coming off of a similar promotional tour for "Role Models," his first major experience interacting with the public, and he was sort of blown away by the entire thing. Now Chris is an old hand at this stuff, and it's Carmichael who got the crash course in what it's like to be out there promoting a movie to a truly rabid audience.

When we were at SXSW this year, Universal had a hefty "Neighbors" presence, taking over a bar and transforming it into a frat house. I spoke with several of the people involved with the movie, and I got a great sense of excitement from everyone involved, especially after the reception the film got from the audience the night before. One thing I noticed in talking to Nick Stoller, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg is how excited they all were about the work done by Jerrod Carmichael in the film, and the idea that they had managed to get him for the film at all. It was apparent that they felt like it was a privilege to be able to cast him at this point in his career, before he blows up and starts headlining movies of his own.

One of the funniest moments in the movie is this weird digression between Carmichael and Hannibal Buress, another comedian who I feel like should be much bigger than he already is. That's one of the benefits for Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen as producers. They can find roles for these funny people who they believe should get more exposure, and it's nothing but win for them. They get to make their films even funnier, and these comics end up getting major exposure that can help push them to the next level.

I was struck by just how self-effacing Carmichael was. He's so relaxed and confident on stage, but it doesn't seem to come from a place of ego or swagger. This was one of the interviews I really wanted to make sure we had on the books now, because in five years, when Carmichael's a giant star, it'll be great to be able to look back at who he was in those last few moments before everyone was in on the secret.

"Neighbors" opens everywhere this Friday.

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<p>Yeah, I know the feeling, buddy.</p>

Yeah, I know the feeling, buddy.

Credit: Fox

First trailer for 'Gotham' series teases early versions of Batman icons

Is this really enough for an entire series?

"I love this city… and I see it going to hell."

I don't get it.

It feels like they really want to make a Batman show, but they can't make a Batman show because the feature film division has dibs. So here we are with another prequel that I can't imagine is going to tell us anything we actually need to know about these characters except that… sigh… they are all connected.

I wasn't actively rolling my eyes until they got to the big finish and started showing Catwoman, The Riddler, Batman, Poison Ivy, and Penguin, and at that point, I just found it irritating. When I was hanging out with a number of genre-loving friends lately, they were talking about how it feels like the geeks have won pop culture and right now we're all taking our victory lap. Looking at "Gotham" or "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," I'm not sure I feel like a winner. I feel like an aggressively targeted demographic, certainly, but I don't want two hour movies that are simply there to sell me more two hour trailers a few years from now, and I don't want a prequel to every single story I like.

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Review: Well-made 'Million Dollar Arm' works more as mythmaking than as a movie
Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Review: Well-made 'Million Dollar Arm' works more as mythmaking than as a movie

HitFix
B
Readers
n/a
Jon Hamm, like everyone involved, does exactly what he was paid to do

Simply by existing, "Million Dollar Arm" serves as both mythmaking and infomercial in equal measure. Based on the true story of how Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel became professional American baseball players, the film is more than competent in the way it builds a wish fulfillment fairy tale out of a last-ditch effort to save his business by J.B. Bernstein, a sports agent, and why wouldn't it be? Craig Gillespie directs from a screenplay by Thomas McCarthy. That's a rock-solid pedigree, and Jon Hamm plays Bernstein with his Don Draper turned up loud. It's a feel-good story that raises cultural questions that the film doesn't seem terribly interested in answering, and it feels like an easy triple in the grand Disney tradition.

First, dealing with it simply as a film, it's fairly direct and there is an easy charm to it. The agency that J.B. opened is faltering, and when he misses out on signing an NFL star they've been courting for a year, it looks like they're going to have to close the doors. J.B. has one last big idea, though, after a late-night of watching cricket on cable, and decides to create a reality show/contest that will take place in India. They're going to reach out to cricket players and see if they can find someone who they groom to become a baseball player. It's a big jump to make, since cricket really doesn't have much to do with baseball. Even the mechanics that are similar mean very different things to the two different games. But J.B. hopes that he can make it work and end up with a star that his agency can own, lock, stock, and barrel.

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Bob Iger takes a selfie with Chewbacca from the set of 'Star Wars Episode VII'
Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm Ltd.

Bob Iger takes a selfie with Chewbacca from the set of 'Star Wars Episode VII'

I hope this is how they introduce every character

Wouldn't it be great if every major news break for the entire duration of principal photography for "Star Wars: Episode VII" was handled in the form of a selfie?

As the entire planet is now aware thanks to last week's news cycle, "Star Wars Episode VII" is now up and running in the UK, and in addition to the table reads of the script, there are final decisions being made now about wardrobe and the on-screen appearance of the characters. That means screen tests. That means fitting sessions.

And, evidently, that means Bob Iger gets to hang out with Chewbacca, according to the official Instagram account for the film.

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Dave Franco promises 'Neighbors' is 'insane'

Dave Franco promises 'Neighbors' is 'insane'

Franco explains why he would love to work with his friends forever

Of all the Francos right now, Dave Franco is the Daviest.

In other words, it's silly to compare James Franco and Dave Franco because the more we see of the two of them, the more it becomes apparent that shared DNA aside, these guys are radically different performers.

In "Neighbors," Franco plays Pete, the right-hand-man to Teddy (Zac Efron). The two of them rule the frat in the film and exist as a sort of living embodiment of the bro code. One of the things that "Neighbors" does well is the way it begins with broad stereotypes and then reveals the characters to be far weirder than they originally seem. Franco's character emerges as the "smartest" of the frat guys, an admittedly low bar, and his relationship with Teddy drives the film is some very funny directions.

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<p>Who? GET IT?!</p>

Who? GET IT?!

Credit: BBC

'Doctor Who' star Matt Smith signs on for pivotal role in 'Terminator: Genesis'

When they say he's connected to John Connor, they're not kidding around

It's interesting when you can tell from a press release that the studio is being very careful about what they say.

"[Matt] Smith will play a new character with a strong connection to John Connor," is how they phrased it in the announcement today, "alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, J.K. Simmons, Dayo Okeniyi, and Byung Hun Lee."

To be fair, they're being very careful about everything involving this film and the cast. They've revealed some basic information. We know that Emilia Clarke is Sarah Connor. We know that Jason Clarke is John Connor. We know that Jai Courtney is Kyle Reese. And we know that Dayo Okeniyi is playing Danny Dyson, the son of Miles Dyson, the man credited with creating Skynet in "Terminator 2: Judgment Day".

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<p>These people have a big month ahead.</p>

These people have a big month ahead.

Credit: Universal/Warner Bros/Walt Disney Pictures

6 movie stars on the summer movie hot seat in May

From Seth MacFarlane to Drew Barrymore, these are this month's big players

This summer, we're going to be taking a look at the summer movie season from a number of different angles. Kristopher Tapley put up a great piece yesterday about his favorite summer movie summer, back in 1989, and you can expect three more of those. We also just posted a gallery of people we think have a chance at being breakout stars by the time September rolls around.

But each month, we're also going to be taking a look at people who are at a crossroads, people who are having defining moments, people who are either on the wane or on the rise, and we're going to spotlight them. We're going to look at the stakes for them this summer, and how this could change things for them.

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<p>When the primary image of your strongest female character looks like an outtake from a &#39;Penthouse&#39; photo spread, maybe it&#39;s time to have a chat about gender politics.</p>

When the primary image of your strongest female character looks like an outtake from a 'Penthouse' photo spread, maybe it's time to have a chat about gender politics.

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm Ltd.

Gender politics and the casting of 'Star Wars'

As rumors break of more casting to come, online emotion runs high

Two weeks ago, I was at WonderCon, and I got to spend a bit of time with one of my favorite people. She's got a ten-year-old daughter who is a nascent geek, and we talked a bit about her very mixed feelings about the iconography that her daughter is dealing with as she finds her way through pop culture right now.

I was struck by one story in particular. Her daughter's favorite character right now is the Black Widow, and my friend wanted to buy some original art for her daughter. Every single image she found, though, was exactly the sort of over-the-top cheesecake shot that you'd expect. No matter what pose they had her in, the emphasis was firmly on both boobs and butt, and my friend ended up so irritated that she had to finally commission an artist to draw the character with her shirt completely buttoned up.

Even so, there was a photo she took at WonderCon of her daughter standing with a cosplayer dressed as Black Widow, and that sheer geek joy that I remember so vividly from my own younger years and that I see on the faces of my own kids is just radiating off of her daughter in the image. To her, Black Widow is a hero, pure and simple, and all of the larger conversations about representation and exploitation don't factor in for her. To that little girl, she looks at Black Widow, and she sees someone who stands side-by-side with Captain America, someone who is strong and funny and capable, and that is incredibly important for every young person. It is important that kids (and adults, for that matter) be able to look at pop culture and see some reflection of who they are and where they're from, and for them to see that there is a place in this larger world where they will fit, no matter what it is that they want to do.

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<p>Maria Hill comes out swinging in this week&#39;s &#39;Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.&#39;</p>

Maria Hill comes out swinging in this week's 'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.'

Credit: ABC/Marvel Studios

Trust emerges as the theme of the season in the new episode of 'Agents Of SHIELD'

And honestly, Ward's got to die now, right?

While I think it's sometimes reductive to argue that anything that runs 23 hours over the course of a year is "about" any one thing, it seems like tonight's episode of "Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D." helped focus the overall theme of this season's arc. It seems fitting considering this a show about a top-secret military organiation that has suddenly lost face, because it seems like more than anything, this is a show about trust.

As soon as I saw "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," it was obvious that there were going to be major changes in the Marvel universe, and I wondered how they're going to retain the title of this series next year. Several people wrote me to say that there will be a magical re-set button and everything will be back to normal by the time the start of next year rolls around. I would argue that the start of tonight's episode makes it pretty clear that is not the case. Short of putting out a press release that says, "The start of next year is not just going to re-set everything to zero. We promise," I'm not sure what else the producers could do at this point to make it clear that they are shaking things up permanently.

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<p>Make that a lightsaber and you pretty much know what John Boyega&#39;s going to look like when he stars in &#39;Star Wars: Episode VII&#39;</p>

Make that a lightsaber and you pretty much know what John Boyega's going to look like when he stars in 'Star Wars: Episode VII'

Credit: Screen Gems

What does the casting of 'Star Wars Episode VII' tell us about the new film?

As Lucasfilm makes it official, we dig in to discuss the choices

It seems like only yesterday I wrote that we would most likely see a "Star Wars" casting announcement soon.

Oh, wait, it literally was yesterday. And while many of the names I mentioned in that piece did indeed end up being part of this morning's official casting announcement made via the official "Star Wars" website as well as Facebook, there were still some big surprises.

Can we talk about Andy Serkis first? His casting would suggest that there's going to be a major performance capture character in the film, but that doesn't have to be the case. I think people forget that Serkis has made plenty of appearances in films as himself. Now, would I be excited if he was performing a major performance capture character in the film? Absolutely. Serkis has proven himself to be the gold standard of breathing life into digital creations, and while I think Ahmed Best became the target of untold oceans of fan hatred for doing exactly what he was asked to do with a character, I'm also sure that having a character in your film that has to be brought to life via digital effects must give all producers the shivers any time they think of Jar Jar Binks.

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