Inside TV+Movies with Daniel Fienberg
'The Help' star didn't want to play another maid
When Viola Davis
was initially cast as sassy, ultra-faithful South Carolina housekeeper Amma in "Beautiful Creatures," I initially had some concerns. Fortunately, so did Davis.
"I didn't want to be in a movie placed in 2013, in the South, where I was a character in servitude. I think that that needs to be redefined," Davis told me when we sat down last weekend.
Fortunately, the Amma in Richard LaGravenese's adaptation of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's novel only has vestigial links to the original Amma and ultimately has much more in common with the book's Marian Ashcroft, though she's not exactly Marian either.
"I'm thankful it was a reimagining of a character," the two-time Oscar nominee told me.
When I was on the "Beautiful Creatures" set last summer, Davis wasn't able to talk to the small group of press, a product of a frenzied schedule that had her simultaneously going back and forth between production on "Beautiful Creatures" and "Ender's Game
In our conversation, Davis remembers that frenzied production pace, discusses the pressures that either do or don't come from being the first actor cast on a movie and talks about going back to her own roots to play this new version of Amma.
Check out the full interview above, especially if you want to hear Viola Davis say "ginormous."
"Beautiful Creatures" opens on February 14.
'Shameless' star enjoyed playing the bad girl
In Richard LaGravenese's "Beautiful Creatures
," Emmy Rossum
's Ridley Duchannes captures the essence of the character from Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's bestselling YA novel, while making dramatic and effective external changes.
Gone is the lollypop-sucking Lolita with the pink streaks in her hair and the cosplay wardrobe. Instead, the character has a still-sexy Old Hollywood glamour that makes the linkage between Ridley's dark caster powers as a man-luring siren and the fact that retro movie starlets were also called sirens.
I sat down with Rossum last weekend and we discussed Ridley's big screen makeover and her inspirations, as well as a new scene that explores Ridley's Claiming, the moment she became a dark caster.
I was a bit less successful in getting Rossum to go along with my attempted thematic linkage between Ridley and Fiona, her character on Showtime's "Shameless
." Not all reportorial tangents can be successful and I still insist this one makes sense.
Finally, Rossum seems excited about exploring Ridley's progression in potential sequels, though she gives away a plot point from the new book in Garcia and Stohl's saga. She does, however, offer a helpful "spoiler warning."
Check out the full interview above.
Stay tuned over the next week for more interests with the stars of "Beautiful Creatures," including Jeremy Irons and Viola Davis.
"Beautiful Creatures" opens on February 14.
More quality time with the 'Idol' men from Hollywood
On Wednesday night, we spent a lot of time with the "American Idol" Men. Too much time, if you ask me. Hollywood Week used to be a highlight of the "Idol" schedule, but Wednesday's show was a mess that didn't leave me appreciating a single singer on a particularly high level.
But maybe Thursday's show will be better as we trim the masculine side of the "Idol" field...
Auditions are over... Let the madness begin!
I'm feeling OK about Season 12 of "American Idol" so far. How about y'all?
No, I haven't felt like the audition episodes suggested talent unparalleled in the show's history, but it seemed like there was some talent. And, more importantly, it felt like the new judging panel had personality and a particular chemistry, even if that chemistry was vaguely toxic. After two years with Wacky Cypher Steven Tyler and Sexy Cypher Jennifer Lopez, I'll even endorse the cringe-worthy tension between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, plus the "How the heck did I come to be stuck in the middle of this?" benign coolness of Keith Urban.
How will that chemistry evolve in Hollywood? Let's find out!
What makes a good or bad nature show for the 'Lost' star?
It's tempting to look at BBC America's "Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan" and compare his new creepy, crawly adversaries to creatures that Dominic Monaghan has battled in scripted projects like "Lost" and "Lord of the Rings" and "X Men Origins: Wolverine."
That would be an inappropriate comparison.
Yes, "Wild Things" finds Monaghan face-to-face with reticulated pythons, ultra-poisonous spiders, venom-spewing beetles and, nastiest of all, terrestrial leaches. And yes, some viewers would, if they found themselves in Monaghan's shoes, be using those shoes to squish more than a few of his new co-stars.
But for Monaghan, these creatures and critters aren't objects of fear and disgust. They're subject to respect and admiration and, assuming nothing strangles him or nothing poisonous bites him, each of the wild things opens a pathway for education.
I sat down with Monaghan at the Television Critics Association press tour a couple weeks back to talk about "Wild Things," which is part nature documentary, part extreme travelogue and part exploration into the fascinations and passions of one actor-and-enthusiast.
It's an in-depth interview about one of the pleasant TV surprises of the spring. Click through for the full conversation...
Dan and Alan talk Super Bowl, 'Monday Mornings,' 'Community,' 'Smash' and more
Happy Monday, Boys & Girls!
I hope your post-Super Bowl hangovers have passed, because it's time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
In this week's podcast, we talk extensively about the Super Bowl, including the commercials, the halftime show and the blackout. We talk about Monday's premiere of the TNT's "Monday Mornings," as well as the variably successful returns of NBC's "Smash" and "Community" and AMC's "The Walking Dead."
And we dedicate much more time to the "30 Rock" finale, including answering a handful of Listener Mail queries.
Here's the breakdown:
Super Bowl XLVII (00:00:55 - 23:20)
"Monday Mornings" (00:23:20 - 00:35:10)
"Smash" (00:35:10 - 00:46:40)
"Community" (00:46:40 - 00:56:15)
"The Walking Dead" (00:56:20 - 01:03:10)
Listener Mail - Kareem's Thoughts on "Girls" (01:03:30 - 01:09:45)
"30 Rock" finale (01:09:45 - 01:37:10)
As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.]
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
Forget the 49ers and Ravens, follow the game beyond the game
Welcome to HitFix's Super Bowl XLVII live-blog.
Unlike last year, when I grew increasingly tense and frustrated at the Patriots' inability to put the Giants away (and ensuing defeat), I don't have an extreme rooting interest in Sunday's (Feb. 3) Big Game. I was born in the Bay Area and half-rooted for the 49ers growing up (half-rooting for the Saints as well), so that's where I'm rooting tonight. But I won't get worked up either way.
So click through and follow my full Super Bowl live-blog, which will mostly ignore the football and concentrate on the big commercials and trailers and whatnot.
Weight in and critique the advertisements!
Sundance interview includes much discussion of sympathetic villains
PARK CITY, UTAH - Jason Isaacs
is an extremely nice guy who makes an extremely evil guy when circumstances require.
The "Awake" and "Brotherhood" star was battling a near-total vocal outage when we talked at last month's Sundance
Film Festival, but he fought through the hoarseness to discuss his dark turn in "Sweetwater
In the Miller Brothers' not-exactly-Western, Isaacs plays self-appointed prophet Josiah, who rules a small frontier fiefdom with the alleged word of God and an iron fist. A man of faith, Josiah is also heavily invested in worldly goods, including land, multiple wives and a band new mahogany desk from British Honduras. This all causes him to run afoul of the initially passive, but increasingly vengeful, Sarah (January Jones).
Josiah is not a good guy, but to hear Isaacs describe him, he's not exactly a bad guy either. Then again, Isaacs has a deep and abiding sympathy for Lucious Malfoy, the dastardly Death Eater he played in the Harry Potter franchise.
In our Sundance conversation, Isaacs discusses the fine art of playing villains without thinking of them as villains. He also talks about his love for Apple products and -- this will be exciting for fans of the short-lived "Awake" -- his desire to get back into TV this year. In fact, he says he's weighing several TV offers.
Check out the full interview above...
'Mad Men' star was already comfortable with firearms
PARK CITY, UTAH - In hiatuses from her Emmy nominated role as Betty Draper on "Mad Men
," January Jones
has somewhat unexpectedly gravitated towards a brawny brand of films.
She messed with Liam Neeson's head in "Unknown." She displayed mutant powers in "X-Men: First Class." She set off Nicolas Cage's vigilante streak in "Seeking Justice."
In The Miller Brothers' 1880s-set not-quite-Western "Sweetwater
," which premiered out-of-competition at last month's Sundance
Film Festival, Jones' character makes all of those other roles look like so many Mothers Theresa.
Initially, Jones' Sarah is just a milquetoast frontier wife, but when tragedy hits her family, she goes on an escalating spree of revenge that leads her closer and closer to Jason Isaacs' Josiah, a prairie prophet with grand aspirations and delusions. Were this justice being meted out by a Clint Eastwood "Man With No Name," we wouldn't blink, but when it comes from a character who's a corset-wearing daughter of a prostitute, it becomes a revisionist discourse just waiting to happen.
Up in Park City during the Festival, I chatted with Jones about this role reversal and about the chance to play this sort of badass female lead. We talked about her native comfort with firearms and horseback-riding and about underplaying opposite flamboyant performances by co-stars Isaacs and Ed Harris. [I already posted the brief side conversation
in which I was able to tell Jones the premiere date for the sixth season of "Mad Men," which she promises will feature a little more Betty.]
Check out the interview above.
We're off to Hollywood next week on 'Idol'
One of the great things about missing the first two weeks of "American Idol" audition recapping is that I'm not even vaguely burnt out on "Idol" auditions even thought they're reaching their end on Thursday (January 31) night.
I'm not actually sure where tonight's auditions are emanating from, so this is gonna be a big mystery.
Sit back and enjoy the auditioning action...