<p>Jason Bateman and Mila Kunis together at the LA Premiere of Mike Judge's new comedy 'Extract'</p>

Jason Bateman and Mila Kunis together at the LA Premiere of Mike Judge's new comedy 'Extract'

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

The Motion/Captured Interviews: Mila Kunis and Jason Bateman talk 'Extract'

The actors discuss Mike Judge, comedy, 'Arrested Development,' 'Family Guy' and more

I knew I liked Jason Bateman as soon as I was introduced to him and the cameraman in the room said, "McWeeny?  Hard childhood, dude."

Bateman looked at me, shook his head, and said, "I was Master Bateman until I graduated high school.  My sympathies."

Jason Bateman is having one of the great second acts in Hollywood right now.  He was a precocious child actor, always playing great assholes, and then at a certain point, he did a fade.  Probably right around the indignity of "Teen Wolf, Too."

BTW -- quick aside, but is it just me, or should all sequels use that as the template for the title?  "The Godfather, Too."  "Jaws, Too."  "Batman, Too."  You hear me, Hollywood?  Make it happen.

Bateman's made a huge comeback in the last few years, and he's able to shine equally in small roles like in "State Of Play" or as a lead on a show like "Arrested Development."  He was one of the people I had hoped to interview when I was on the set of "The Invention Of Lying," but evidently he was in and out on that one weeks before I was there.  It was last weekend when we finally sat down at The Four Seasons here in LA for a few minutes to talk about Mike Judge's "Extract," a shaggy, amiable little film that absolutely fits into the filmography that Judge is building.  Bateman proves to be a nice addition to the Judge-iverse, and it was good to finally chat with him, albeit briefly:

[more after the jump]

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<p>Jennifer Garner and Ricky Gervais in the upcoming comedy, 'The Invention Of Lying'</p>

Jennifer Garner and Ricky Gervais in the upcoming comedy, 'The Invention Of Lying'

Credit: Warner Bros.

The Motion/Captured Interview: Jennifer Garner on-set for 'The Invention Of Lying'

The nicest star in Hollywood talks about working with Ricky Gervais... again

Jennifer Garner may be one of the nicest people in Hollywood. 

I first met her on the set of "Daredevil," where I attempted to carry on a normal conversation with her even as a wardrobe assistant used a rag to buff every inch of her shiny skintight leather costume to a high shine.  The fact that she didn't file a restraining order against me is a testament to just how well I was able to maintain my professional focus, but come on... I'm only human.  Even as she gets older, even after having kids, Garner still exudes a simple sweetness in person that is about more than her coltish cheerleader-next-door looks.  There's something decent about her, something almost reserved.   She seems just plain too nice to be a Hollywood professional.

Out of all the people I interviewed on the set of "The Invention Of Lying," she was the one I had the least time with, but even with only 15 or 20 minutes to talk, I still got a full dose of that sunshiney sweetness that made her the perfect person to star opposite Ricky Gervais, delivering hard, awful truths right to his face about his looks, his weight, and the genetic unsuitability of them as a couple.

Drew McWeeny:  I have to say... the first time I read this, it seems to me like actor bait.  To be able to come in and do something that nobody's ever done... this world that they're created is so unique, and I think such a great challenge for an actor.  Was it an automatic response for you when you read it?

Jennifer Garner:  Yup.  Well, I did have a moment to pause with would my parents think it was blasphemy, you know?

[more after the jump]

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<p>Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, and Ricky Gervais in an excruciating moment from 'The Invention Of Lying'</p>

Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, and Ricky Gervais in an excruciating moment from 'The Invention Of Lying'

Credit: Warner Bros.

The Motion/Captured Interview: Rob Lowe wants to be a superhero

On-set for 'Invention Of Lying,' we talk 'Outsiders,' the '80s, 'Iron Man,' and more

See that photo?

That's the day I was on-set for the new film, "The Invention Of Lying," in May of 2008, just outside Boston.  The scene they were shooting involved Jennifer Garner's character stopping by to give Ricky Gervais his birthday present.  At this point in the film, Ricky's lying has propelled him to fame and fortune, as he literally reinvents the world around him to his own specifications.  The one thing he can't do is force Jennifer Garner to love him, and so he suffers as her friend, listening to her talk about her impending date with Rob Lowe.  She tries to give him his gift, but before he opens it, he tells her that the Man In The Sky (his version of God, dispensing wisdom through more and more elaborate lies) does not want her having sex with anyone, no matter what.

Well played, considering her gift to him is a "Free Sex Coupon."

D'oh!

Watching these three play the scene over and over, I was impressed by how supple the material was, how many different ways they could run the same basic lines and find totally different dynamics in them. And it's not just Ricky... both Rob Lowe and Jennifer Garner held their own in every moment.  Finally, when Rob was done with this part of the scene, he was sent back to his trailer, and I was asked if I would like to join him there.

Oh, if I'd only known when I was a fourteen-year-old girl that I would spend an hour in Rob Lowe's trailer twenty-five years later...

[more after the jump]

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<p>Steven Spielberg may direct an adaptation of 'Pirate Latitudes,' the last novel from bestselling author Michael Crichton</p>

Steven Spielberg may direct an adaptation of 'Pirate Latitudes,' the last novel from bestselling author Michael Crichton

Spielberg and Crichton set sail for 'Pirate Latitudes'

New film adapted from Crichton's posthumous adventure reuintes 'Jurassic Park' team

Michael Crichton and Steven Spielberg were good friends for most of their professional lives, meeting originally in the early '70s at Universal.  Their friendship's most famous by-product was "Jurassic Park" and its sequels, but they also collaborated on "E/R" and "Twister" over the years.

I guess, then, it shouldn't come as a huge surprise that they have one final collaboration developing right now, and it sounds like it could be a perfect vehicle for Spielberg to return to merge his skill at staging adventure while also indulging his appetite for history.

Anthony Breznican broke the story over at USA Today, and it looks like David Koepp (who scripted "Jurassic Park") has been brought on to adapt the script from Crichton's new book, set to be published at the end of November.  Set in 1665 off the coast of Jamaica, the article describes the novel as "a daring plan to infiltrate Port Royal, one of the world's richest and most notorious cities, and raid a Spanish galleon filled with treasure."

The article quotes Stacey Snider, the CEO of DreamWorks, as saying, "It's a mission movie, and we see it through the prism of what it might have been like to live on the island during that time."

[more after the jump]

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<p>William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForrest Kelly suit up once more in the miserable 'Star Trek V: The Final Frontier'</p>

William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForrest Kelly suit up once more in the miserable 'Star Trek V: The Final Frontier'

Credit: Paramount Home Video

My BluRay Shelf: Is 'Star Trek V: The Final Frontier' as terrible as everyone says?

Toshi and Daddy roadtest the least loved film in the franchise

Boy, when I drop the ball, I really drop the ball.

I didn't mean to drag this series out as far as I did, especially since there's more "Star Trek" movies coming to BluRay soon.  But Comic-Con hit, and then real life kept piling other obligations on, and there are things that have to get posted during the week, and I just kept finding excuses to push these articles aside.

Thing is, you guys have made it very clear to me that you've enjoyed these pieces.  At Comic-Con, I think Toshi got high-fived every ten minutes by people who walked up and told him how much they loved reading about his initiation into "Trek."  The response has actually led me to make notes on something I'll try to kickstart once we finish this "Star Trek" series.  Raising a nascent film nerd is a big responsibility, above and beyond all the regular responsibilities of parenthood.  More and more, I find myself retreating from fandom as I've known it for most of my adult life.  I know it's not a popular or a political thing to say, but I feel like something's gone really rancid in fandom, and in particular, it feels to me like something tipped so that it's more about what people hate or what they can tear down, instead of what people love and what they get excited about.  Hanging out with my son reminds me of what I loved about fandom when I was growing up, the unbridled enthusiasm.  Even if I don't love the same thing as someone else, I find myself energized by that sort of excitement, and I look to him to recharge my own battery these days.

So when I say that the screening of "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier" did not go well, please believe that we started it with the best of intentions.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, and Louis CK toast their general hilariousness in a scene from 'The Invention Of Lying,' in theaters this fall</p>

Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, and Louis CK toast their general hilariousness in a scene from 'The Invention Of Lying,' in theaters this fall

Credit: Warner Bros.

The Motion/Captured Interview: Louis CK Onset for 'The Invention Of Lying'

The comic titan talks about Dane Cook, 'Pootie Tang,' and working with Ricky Gervais

Louis CK is one of the funniest men on the planet.

This is not an opinion.  It's a scientific fact.  I could bore you with all the research and graphs and charts and statistics, but the bottom line is Louis CK is gut-wrenchingly, tears-down-your-face funny, and his stand-up show is one of the most consistently brilliant by anyone working right now.

He's also a filmmaker in his own right.  After all, this is the man who directed "Pootie Tang," which has been named The Greatest American Movie Of All Time by the AFI every year since it was released.

When I heard that he was playing a major role in "The Invention Of Lying," I told the unit publicist that I really wanted to have a few minutes with Louis to chat if at all possible.  They ended up dropping me off in his trailer for almost an hour, and the resulting conversation was loose, informal, and tremendous fun.  Keep in mind, this took place in May of last year, and at the end of the piece, I'll update you regarding a few of the things Louis says in the article.

Louis CK:  Hey, I'm Louis.  How you doing?

Drew McWeeny:  I'm Drew.  Very nice to meet you.

Nice to meet you.  Have a seat.

Thanks.

How's it going out there?  Haven't been on set yet today.

Great.  It's fascinating to watch Ricky and Matt work together.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Zoe Saldana stars as a Na'vi warrior who falls in love with a human avatar on Pandora in James Cameron's sci-fi epic 'Avatar'</p>

Zoe Saldana stars as a Na'vi warrior who falls in love with a human avatar on Pandora in James Cameron's sci-fi epic 'Avatar'

Credit: 20th Century Fox

The Motion/Captured (P)review: 'Avatar Day' in IMAX 3D

Our 'Avatar' coverage considers the dangers of hype and the reality of unreality

I've been giving this some thought over the weekend, and my honest opinion, after all is said and done, is that Fox probably did the best job they could have done in terms of trying to turn the debut of a trailer into a cultural event, and despite my own rabid interest in the film, I'm sort of proud of the general public for not buying into the idea that they needed to make a destination on a Friday evening out of seeing a 15-minute chunk of a movie that's being released in less than four months.

When I go do an editing room visit with a filmmaker, the amount of footage I see is typically about the same amount of footage that the public was shown if they went to one of the theaters that participated in "Avatar" Day on Friday.  And when I look at one of these presentations, several things come into play.  First, obviously, I'm not looking at a finished film, so making pronouncements about a film's overall quality is preposterous.  Second, the stuff I'm seeing isn't in context, so it's hard to judge how something works dramatically since you're not seeing the lead-up or the pay-off.  Finally, I have been involved in film production since the early '90s, and visiting sets since the early '80s.  At this point, I think I can objectively look at the bits and pieces of a film and talk about it as a process.  I would argue that's actually a skill set you develop over time, and that most people who walk into a presentation like "Avatar" Day haven't ever had to develop that skill set.  So when someone starts a website called "Avatar Sucks," I'm thinking perhaps this is the textbook definition of kneejerk.

Not to say that reactions are uniform on this one, or that they should be.  I think some very smart people have stated quite emphatically in the last few days that they hate what they've seen from the movie already, and specifically, they seem to really hate the design of the Na'vi, the native species of Pandora, the planet where the film is set.  If you hate the design, I don't know what to tell you.  I think they're definitely extreme, stylized, and it's taken me while to really decide what I think of them.

Overall, I think they are the most effective CGI character design since the debut of Gollum, and for many of the same reasons.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Natalie Portman looks on during the filming of a joust scene from David Gordon Green's fantasy comedy 'Your Highness'</p>

Natalie Portman looks on during the filming of a joust scene from David Gordon Green's fantasy comedy 'Your Highness'

Credit: Universal Pictures

TMR: James Cameron underwater in 3D and Natalie Portman on horseback in Ireland

Plus a great 'Who' interview, 'Avatar' game trailer, and the last CineMash

Welcome to The Morning Read.

Over the weekend, I was at a junket, and someone asked me how long I've been with HitFix, and it sort of startled me to realize that it's been almost nine months now.  Nine months of Morning Reads and new columns that went nowhere and festival coverage and reviews and interviews and TV Q&As and "Lost" recaps... and I feel like I'm still just now starting to get a hang of this particular format, of this particular site.  I'm hearing from more and more people that they've found the site and they're enjoying it, but I feel like there's so much more I want to do, and like there's so much I have to master before I'm really good at it.  I'm just pleased that you guys are taking the time to let us know what you're enjoying it so far, and I really do think we're still warming up.  Our best is yet to come.

All the James Cameron talk over the weekend has focused on the premiere of the "Avatar" trailer and the big "Avatar" Day event they held at IMAX screens, but there was another bit of news over the weekend that's just as exciting in my opinion.  It looks like "Sanctum" has gotten the go-ahead.  If you aren't familiar with the project, it's based in part on a true story, and it's about a dive team led by a father and son who are in an underwater cave with there's a freak collapse, sealing them inside.  It's meant to be a harrowing adventure story that is about the way people's character really defines itself when you're in a situation like that as a group.  It's also meant to be shot in the same digital 3D process that Cameron is using on "Avatar."  He's producing the film for Alister Grierson to direct.  Who?  Well, if you saw "Kokoda," you have a pretty good idea of what sort of toolbox he's bringing to the table for a film that I assume will largely be shot underwater for real.  In 3D.  Which sounds sort of amazing, frankly.  Like a deep blue "Descent."  I like that Cameron is putting his full weight as a producer behind Grierson, who has a muscular, grounded filming style that should produce some really great tension onscreen.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Jennifer Garner plays Anna and Ricky Gervais plays Mark in 'The Invention Of Lying,' a new comedy co-written and co-directed by Gervais and Matt Robinson</p>

Jennifer Garner plays Anna and Ricky Gervais plays Mark in 'The Invention Of Lying,' a new comedy co-written and co-directed by Gervais and Matt Robinson

Credit: Warner Bros.

What is 'The Invention Of Lying'? And why are we devoting a week to it?

Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, Louis CK, and more should give you a hint

Ricky Gervais is almost as entertaining to watch while he's working as in a final, finished cut of something. 

Maybe it's because I'm a fan.  Maybe it's because I'm always curious about how different comics approach their work.  Or maybe it's just because he's so constantly entertained by the world around him that it becomes infectious when you're in his general vicinity.  Whatever the case, spending a day on the set of "The Invention Of Lying," his new high-concept comedy, was one of the highlights of my professional year in 2008.

The basic premise, for those who don't know yet, involves Mark (Gervais), a screenwriter who hates his job and his life.  The world he lives in looks just like ours in every way except one:  no one lies.  Not at all.  And the removal of that one element has changed society in myriad ways.  That's the joy of the first part of the script, observing just how different a world without lying is.  But when Mark accidentally invents lying, he changes the entire world, and the fallout is both hilarious and thought-provoking.

It's been over a year since I visited the set just outside Boston.  May of 2008, to be precise.  I'd never met Gervais yet, and I'd only ever exchanged a few e-mails with Matt Robinson, the writer who created "The Invention Of Lying" as a spec, only to somehow find himself co-writing and co-directing the final film with Ricky. 

And yet, I found it to be one of the most open, unforced set visits I've ever done, with everyone making themselves more than available.

[more after the jump]

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<p>Leonardo Di Caprio starts to unravel the mysteries of 'Inception' in the first teaser trailer for the film, just released online today</p>

Leonardo Di Caprio starts to unravel the mysteries of 'Inception' in the first teaser trailer for the film, just released online today

Credit: Warner Bros.

Watch: Christopher Nolan's 'Inception' gets a teaser trailer...

... and it looks like Warner Bros. is rebooting 'The Matrix'

I know Warner Bros. isn't literally rebooting "The Matrix," but you know that there's some part of them that curses the fact that the franchise sort of bottomed out, because they thought they were going to be milking that particular cash cow for yeeeeeeeears to come.

Now, thanks to Christopher Nolan, they might get a second chance.

I would guess that the director can do no wrong in the eyes of the studio after the way "The Dark Knight" caught fire with both critics and moviegoers alike.  He was already considered one of the most interesting mainstream filmmakers working, and the choice to make "The Prestige" between his Batman movies indicated to me that he was going to return to his personal interests as often as possible, a good thing.  When he set up "Inception" as his mid-Batman snack this time around, working from an original script he co-wrote with his evil genius brother Jonathan Nolan, it was automatically exciting because it's an original SF film made with the full backing of the studio, swollen with cash from the monster hit that Nolan just handed them.  That's the best time for a filmmaker to try and get something new or different past the development process.  Studio heads get drunk when you pump a billion dollars or so into the pipeline with one movie, and filmmakers can sneak some fascinating things by under those conditions.

So what is "Inception"?  That's still a mystery, but based on the footage that's glimpsed in the following trailer, I'd say we have our first few clues, worth discussing once you've taken a look:

[more after the jump]

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