'Maleficent' star Elle Fanning shares the secrets of sleep-acting

'Maleficent' star Elle Fanning shares the secrets of sleep-acting

Why was Aurora from 'Sleeping Beauty' her Disney favorite

Elle Fanning's appreciation for Aurora, the heroine of Disney's "Sleeping Beauty," began in childhood and, at least initially, was based on the superficial similarity.

"Sleeping Beauty was always my favorite princess," Fanning told me last week, explaining that the shared long, blonde hair created immediate kingship.

Now, the 16-year-old Fanning is getting closer-than-ever with Aurora, playing the impressionable young princess opposite Angelina Jolie's title character in Disney's "Maleficent."

"Maleficent" gets to the root of the wicked (or just misunderstood?) sorceress' animus toward Aurora, while delivering many of the moments that "Sleeping Beauty" fans will expect.

"There would be some days where literally I'd get into my costume and I'd sleep all day," Fanning laughs.

In our conversation, Fanning shares the secrets of sleep-acting, but also the key to expressing wonderment at magical worlds that are represented only by tennis balls or strings of light on-set. 

Check out the full interview above.

"Maleficent" opens on Friday, May 30. 

TV Ratings: FOX's NASCAR coverage leads Sunday as deceased 'Believe,' 'Crisis' dip
Credit: AP

TV Ratings: FOX's NASCAR coverage leads Sunday as deceased 'Believe,' 'Crisis' dip

NBC can be relieved that 'American Dream Builders' is over

Fast National ratings for Sunday, May 25, 2014.

The first Sunday of TV's summer delivered predictably low numbers across the board, with FOX's coverage of the Sprint Cup in Concord dominating the night in all measures. 

Not-so-shockingly, despite a near-total lack of competition, NBC wasn't able to attract any new eyeballs to the already-cancelled-trinity of "American Dream Builders," "Believe" and "Crisis."

And otherwise, Sunday was a dud.

On to the numbers...

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<p>Woo of &quot;Survivor: Cagayan&quot;</p>

Woo of "Survivor: Cagayan"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Yung 'Woo' Hwang talks 'Survivor: Cagayan'

Second place finisher expected the final vote to be closer

Martial arts instructor Yung "Woo" Hwang hoped that his integrity would be worth a million dollars in last week's "Survivor: Cagayan" finale.

After a relatively uneventful 38 days in the game, Woo scored a key victory in the season's Final Immunity Challenge, which left him to decide whether he wanted to go to the Final Jury against Kass, presumably easily beatable, or Tony. Although there was the sense that Tony had played this season's most aggressive game, Woo made the surprising decision to take his Brawn alliance-mate to the end. Or perhaps it was BECAUSE there was a sense that Tony had played the season's most aggressive game. 

Put in position to make a game-changing decision for the first time this season, Woo decided he wanted to rest his laurels on Honor, taking Tony because Tony deserved to go to the end and Kass didn't, or so he said. 

After some signs of bitterness at the Final Tribal, the Jury ended up agreeing with Woo's opinion, but not his strategy and, by a vote of 8-1, they gave Tony the Sole Survivor status. 

In his exit interview, Woo discusses his slight surprise at Tony's margin-of-victory, his possible social failings and the highlight of his season, a Reward win that included bringing school supplies to local children.

Click through for the full Q&A...

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<p>&quot;Madam Secretary&quot;</p>

"Madam Secretary"

Credit: CBS

DVR Gridlock 2014-15: Sunday Nights

How will 'Madam Secretary' and FOX's live-action comedies change things?

[As is my recent tradition, over the next six days, I'm going to be glancing, night-by-night, at how the primetime schedules have changed after the network announcements at upfronts. I'll be looking at how the various changes will impact the ratings races on each night, as well as my own DVRing habits. Readers can chime in on how their own DVRs will be impacted. And yes, this brief series assumes that anybody still watches TV on their TVs. I'm old-fashioned. It also assumes that you/I only have a dual tuner DVR (plus occasional access to a Slingbox on ET. Check out last year's DVR Gridlock installments and the DVR Gridlock segments for 2012.]

SUNDAY NIGHTS

7:00 p.m.
ABC: "America's Funniest Home Videos"
CBS: "60 Minutes"
FOX: "The OT," "Bob's Burgers"
NBC: NFL Pre-Game

8:00 p.m. 
ABC: "Once Upon a Time"
CBS: "Madam Secretary"
FOX: "The Simpsons," "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"
NBC: Sunday Night Football

9 p.m.
ABC: "Resurrection"
CBS: "The Good Wife"
FOX: "Family Guy," "Mulaney"
NBC: Sunday Night Football

10 p.m.
ABC: "Revenge"
CBS: "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation"/"CSI: Cyber"
NBC: Sunday Night Football


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<p>Kass of &quot;Survivor: Cagayan&quot;</p>

Kass of "Survivor: Cagayan"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Kass McQuillen talks 'Survivor: Cagayan'

How would Man-Kass have done? And what about Woman-Tony?

If you read my interview with "Survivor: Cagayan" 4th Place finisher Spencer Bledsoe, you saw one approach to the "Survivor" experience. Spencer was circumspect, critical of his strategy and admitted that he would have voted for Tony, the season's winner, over himself.

Today's exit interview, with 3rd Place finisher Kassandra "Kass" McQuillen, takes a different approach. Kass thinks she played the same game as Tony only with a different gender, she thinks Spencer and the other losing castaways were arrogant and she thinks that the "Survivor" finale live vote suggesting Woo would have easily beaten her was "revisionist." 

Kass thinks there's a double-standard when it comes to female "Survivor" players, particularly for moms, and she's confident that a male version of Kass would have won the season. 

And I'm not saying that she's wrong. In fact, on much of it, she's probably right.

In our sometimes contentious exit interview, Kass discusses the performance of Man-Kass, takes exception to the use of the word "goat" and isn't especially pleased with the nickname "Chaos Kass" either. I got a bit bogged down in trying to point out things about her social game and I apologize for what was a much-too-long digression about her decision to flip off the departing Trish in front of the whole Jury.

Click through for the full Q&A...

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<p>Friday&#39;s &quot;Hannibal&quot; finale</p>

Friday's "Hannibal" finale

Credit: NBC

TV Ratings: 'Hannibal' finale adds a few viewers on a tight Friday

'What Would You Do?' premiere, 'Blue Bloods' among Friday leaders

Fast National ratings for Friday, May 23, 2014.

The first Friday of the summer featured a tie among young viewers and nearly a three-way tie overall. The few notables included a tiny overall bump for the "Hannibal" finale, an OK premiere for ABC's "What Would You Do?" and "Blue Bloods" attracting the night's biggest audience

On the negative side, whatever small audience The CW miniseries "Labyrinth" had in its first part dwindled in its second and FOX's encores continued to barely even get a sampling on Fridays.

NOTE: It was a slow Friday and all Fridays will likely to continue to be slow until September. As a result, I won't be doing Friday Fast Nationals through the summer, which has been by general policy over the years. If anything notable airs on a Friday, I can always check in. Normally I would have stopped after last Friday, but I wanted to make sure I finished out the "Hannibal" season.

On to the numbers...

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<p>Spencer of &quot;Survivor: Cagayan&quot;</p>

Spencer of "Survivor: Cagayan"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Spencer Bledsoe talks 'Survivor: Cagayan'

'Survivor' superfan is frank about his failings and what surprised him about the game

[Prelude: This was a nutty, chaotic week and I really wasn't able to get on top of my seven "Amazing Race: All-Stars" and "Survivor: Cagayan" exit interviews. Apologies for the slowness, but it means a little extra content over the holiday weekend and whatnot. Starting tonight, I'll post my four "Survivor: Cagayan" exit interviews, one per day (give or take) starting with the season's fourth place finisher. Then I'll get to the three "Amazing Race: All-Stars" exit interviews, by which time you'll hopefully have forgotten how awful the finale was. Again, though, sorry for the delay.]

My first two "Survivor: Cagayan" finale exit interviews could hardly be more different.

Up first is Spencer Bledsoe, who made a disadvantageous alliance at the beginning with Garrett, an alliance that nearly led to his snuffing from the notoriously weak Brains tribe. Spencer came close to being in a power position after the Merge, but Kass' abrupt flip-flop had him scurrying for several weeks. Only a string of Immunity wins, aggressive scrambling and Tony's paranoia kept him from going home, but a tight Immunity loss to Kass at Final 4 ended his run.

In some cases finishing fourth is a disappointment, but given Spencer's early position, such a long run was so impressive that he earned a vocal apology and a sealed letter of apology from "Survivor" host Jeff Probst, who underestimated him initially.

Reflecting on his experience, super-fan Spencer is humble, introspective and self-deprecating, which runs counter to the Spencer we met at the start of the season. He's quick to point out his strategic flaws and fast to credit the season's winner, Tony, who he says he would have voted for over himself, had he somehow been both on the Jury and in the Final 2. 

The next exit interview, posting tomorrow, is with Kass. Her hindsight perspective is a bit different.

Click through for my Q&A with Spencer, who candidly handicaps his Jury prospects had he made the Final 2 and explains the speech he made in Tony's favor at Final Tribal... 

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Sharlto Copley says Neill Blomkamp's 'Chappie' will be 'massively unique'

Sharlto Copley says Neill Blomkamp's 'Chappie' will be 'massively unique'

How much of the 'Maleficent' star will be in his robot character?

Sharlto Copley is a quirky and flawed King Stefan in Disney's upcoming "Maleficent" and when I sat down with him this week, he was very excited to talk about his character-actor approach to that role. 

He was also quite pleased to tease his latest collaboration with "District 9" and "Elysium" helmer Neill Blomkamp on the very peculiar-sounding (and deceptively titled) new sci-fi film "Chappie."

In "Chappie," currently set for a March 2015 release, Copley plays the title character, who gets kidnapped and raised by a pair of criminals. The catch is that Chappie is a robot with artificial intelligence.

Copley is primarily a voice in "Chappie," which he says will be "massively unique," but he also explains how the animators worked with him to create his character.

Check out that chunk of the interview above.

And stay tuned for next week when I'll post my full interviews with Copley, Elle Fanning and other key "Maleficent" figures (no, not Angelina Jolie, alas).

<p>&quot;Last Comic Standing&quot; host JB Smoove</p>

"Last Comic Standing" host JB Smoove

Credit: NBC

TV Ratings: 'Last Comic' return leads NBC Thursday, 'Gang Related' generates little heat

The CW gets OK numbers for 'Labyrinth'

Fast National ratings for Thursday, May 22, 2014.

On the first day of TV's Summer of 2014, a "Big Bang Theory" repeat helped CBS rule Thursday overall, but NBC won among young viewers with a solid return for "Last Comic Standing."

Without originals as lead-ins, ABC's "Black Box" and CBS' "Bad Teacher" both fizzled and even with a solid "Hell's Kitchen" as a lead-in, FOX's new drama "Gang Related" failed to stir up any heat. 

Thursday also saw an OK debut for The CW's "Labyrinth," as the four-hour miniseries launched to basically "Reign"-esque ratings.

On to the numbers...

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<p>Blended</p>

Blended

Credit: Warner Bros.

Movie Review: 'Blended' isn't Adam Sandler's worst subsidized vacation

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Drew Barrymore and the young actresses add a little sweetness

You know those real estate scams where you're offered a free vacation if you just sit through a time-share presentation and that time-share presentation seems never-ending, because even if it's just two hours, what you really wanted was a free vacation?

For Adam Sandler, filmmaking is like that time-share presentation. 

All the guy wants is to get major motion picture studios to subsidize his vacations. Is that so wrong? If Sony or Warner Brothers said to you, "How would you like an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii or Africa or a secluded lake? And all you have to do is deliver a movie and nobody on our side will even ask to see a script or bother looking at the final cut," what would you say? You'd accept the deal. Don't deny it. 

It's obvious that Sandler and his partners-in-vacation-loving-crime don't especially enjoy the quid pro quo required for their global galavanting, but like that monotonous time-share presentation, a mid-range budgeted theatrical comedy is the price they have to pay for a situation I assume is luxurious.

Trust me, if Sandler could get vacations in exchange for an Allen Covert-centric features, he'd do nothing but produce. Unfortunately, a sequel to "Grandma's Boy" isn't getting you even as far as Shreveport. 

In the name of a comped holiday, Sandler has meandered through offerings that range from mediocre-but-unsettling (the amnesiac romance of "50 First Dates" creeps me out) to downright cinematic crimes ("Grown Ups," "Grown Ups 2," that thing with Brooklyn Decker). 

That's a preamble to my warning that I sat down for "Blended," a temporary impediment to Sandler and Drew Barrymore enjoying a vacation in South Africa, with trepidation, having already cringed through the trailers on the behalf of the absurdly talented Terry Crews, seemingly clowning his way through a stereotypical African musical act that probably should have been dubbed Ladysmith Black ManBozo. [Thanks to Twitter follower @EstherK for recognizing "ManBozo" was funnier in this context than just "MamBozo." If either is funny, I mean.] 

You say "pre-judging." I say "citing ample precedent." But at this point, nobody goes into Adam Sandler movies a blank slate. You either dread every low-brow comedy and wish for "Punch-Drunk Love II," or you're willing to forgive nearly anything in perpetuity because "Billy Madison," "The Wedding Singer" and "The Waterboy" were all hella funny back in the day.

You need to know the context and the perspective so that you know how many grains of salt to take this with: 

"Blended" is far from the worst movie to come out of a studio-subsidized Adam Sandler vacation. 

In fact, I'd wager that there's a serviceably so-so movie hiding within the flabby bloat of the 117 minute "Blended" running time. With a better director and a more discerning editor, "Blended" might have been trimmed and reshaped into a 90-minute family dramedy that still might have allowed for a couple shots of humping rhinos and for two or three iterations of a gag in which a mother whacks her sleeping son's head against a wall or a door. As it stands, "Blended" is a woefully unfunny movie, but almost despite itself, there are moments of fleeting human emotion, delivered largely by Barrymore and young co-stars Emma Furmann and Alyvia Alyn Lind. 

By the end, I wouldn't say that I was especially moved by "Blended," but I respected its mawkish aspirations more than its attempts at predictable family-style bawdiness. 

More after the break...

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