Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Max Brooks makes best of bad situation

Max Brooks – the author of “World War Z” – was at Fresno City College as part of the school’s speakers forum. His main topic was his latest book, “The Harlem Hellfighters” (Broadway Books, $16.95), but he got around to the topic of the movie made from his “World War Z” book.

It’s not fair to say the book was adapted into the movie. That would suggest more than just the title was used to make the 2013 film. The movie version is as close to the book as “Hogan’s Heroes” is to what really happened in World War II.

When the movie premiered, Brooks decided to hold his tongue and not talk about how far afield the movie went. Other writers had told him that the main point was the movie would bring more attention to his book and that would be a good thing.

Read more

Motherhood changes Blake Lively

My interview with Blake Lively is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. She’s meeting with the press to discuss her feature film, “The Age of Adaline” where she plays a woman who stops aging at 29.

It’s been a few years since Lively has done a film or TV show so there’s plenty to discuss.

It gets to be 10:10 then 10:15. It’s at this point a fear creeps into my head. Maybe she’s become a prima donna and this interview may take place anytime between now and midnight.

At 10:30 she arrives and immediately starts to apologize.

Read more

You can win tickets to see ‘Age of Adaline’

If you have missed seeing Blake Lively since “Gossip Girl” ended or just can’t wait until December to see Harrison Ford in the upcoming “Star Wars” movie, the film for you is “The Age of Adaline.”

Lively plays a woman who in the ‘20s is magically transformed to where she doesn’t age. She remains 29 until present day. Ford plays a man from her past.

You don’t have to wait until Friday, April 24, to see the movie. The Fresno Beehive is giving away 15 pairs of passes to see the advance screening of “The Age of Adaline” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 21.

Here’s what you have to do. Leave a comment telling me at what age you would like to stop aging. Be sure to post by noon Saturday, April 18. A random drawing will be held and the 15 winners will be notified by noon Monday, April 20. 

These passes mean you won’t have to stand in line but can go directly to reserved seats. 

Rules for the contest follow.


Read more

Tatiana Maslany back in ‘Black’

The third season of one of the best shows on television, BBC America’s “Orphan Black,” has launched. Just like in the first and second seasons, the work of series star Tatiana Maslany continues to be amazing.

For those of you who haven’t seen the show (and shame on you for that), it’s about cloning. Maslany plays multiple characters all made from the same genetic parts. The roles have her going from playing a top scientist to a housewife and every extreme between.

She knew when the series started she would be playing the characters named Beth, Sarah, Alison and Cosima

Read more

‘Daredevil’s’ Elden Henson has double success

Actors are lucky if they can land one hit TV series or one blockbuster film franchise. That lone production can turn a little know performer into a star.

Look at the career of Kristen Stewart before and after ‘Twilight” if you don’t believe me.

It’s amazing if an actor can get both as in the case of Elden Henson. Not only did his stock rise way past his days of being known for “The Mighty Ducks” movies with his portrayal of Pollux in both parts of “The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay,” but he’s also in the new Netflix series, “Daredevil.”

He’s now got fans of the “Hunger Games” books interested in his life but he’s also entered into the world of comic book fanatics. They closely will examine his work as Foggy Nelson – lawyer and best buds to Daredevils’ secret identity, Matt Murdock.

Henson was in Berlin shooting the “Hunger Games” movies when he got contacted to audition to play Nelson. He tried out for the part via Skype and it was good enough to land him the role.

Filming started quickly after he was cast so Henson was a little worried that he didn’t get to do a lot of research before going in front of cameras.

The 37-year-old Henson has been acting since he was 2. When he wasn’t working. Henson spent his youth in movie houses. 

“I was more of a movie nerd when I was growing up,” Henson says. “I loved Kurt Vonnegut books and Stanley Kubrick movies when I was 10. I took myself way too seriously, even at a young age.”

That means he didn’t have a lot of time to read comics when he was younger. As soon as he was cast – just days after becoming a new dad – he started reading about Nelson.

With little time to spare, what Henson decided to do was tap into the elements of Nelson with which he could relate. The key element is his love of his friends and his community.

He knows his character doesn’t slip on a mask and beat up thugs in alleys but he sees Nelson as much of a crime fighter as Daredevil. They just work in different ways.

The fans will tell Henson if they think his approach is right or wrong.

Marvel Universe Live super production

Thor, Spider-Man, Iron Man and a host of other Marvel Comics heroes and villains invaded the Save Mart center Friday night for the first of six performance of “Marvel Universe Live” arena  stunt show . It’s the closest experience you’ll have in being near the super hero world short of being drawn into a comic book.

The two-hour show is built around Thor’s destruction of the Cosmic Cube. He thinks the universe is safe because the pieces have been hidden around the planet. That might have been a good plan had not Loki gotten involved.

Other shows will be 11 a.m. plus 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday, April 4; 2 p.m. Sunday, April 5; and 6 p.m. Monday, April 6. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster or at the Save Mart box office.

Read more

April big month for comic book collectors

April is a big month for comic book, toys and movie collectors with both WonderCon going on in Ahaheim over the Easter weekend and the Big Wow in San Jose on the weekend of April 18.

If you can attend both, that’s great. But, if you are having a hard time deciding between the two, here’s a little information that might help you decide. This is coming from someone who has attended both in the past.

Read more

Ann Friel goes on ‘American Odyssey’

One of my favorite shows that got canceled too early was “Pushing Daisies.” It was a sweet – and quirky – love story about to two people who can not touch because of a mysterious power that bring dead people back to life that aired in 2007.

Lee Pace, who currently stars in the cable series “Halt and Catch Fire,” starred with Anna Friel on the network series. Since the ABC show ended, Friel has had an interesting career. She starred in the painfully bad feature film “Land of the Lost” and the Scandinavian TV series “The Heavy Water War: Stopping Hitler’s Atomic Bomb.”

Read more

James Van Der Beek gets smart role

It’s clear from the first few episodes of “CSI: Cyber” that James Van Der Beek can handle playing a tough crime fighting character. His Agent Elijah Mundo is just as strong as all of the others agents and detectives who have appeared in the endless configurations of “CSI.”

I hate that.

Read more

Cuthbert’s cougar days behind her

It’s a little confusing listening to Elisha Cuthbert talk about starring in he new NBC comedy, “One Big Happy.” She’s talking about how her previous series, “Happy Endings,” helped move her away from drama to comedy.

She was the best part of “Happy Endings” and showed a lot of comedic skill. But, I remember laughing at her series work before “Happy Endings” because of a comedy moment that is as hilarious today as it was then.

Who could imagine a drama like “24” could provide such a moment. But, there was that scene in the first season of the Kiefer Sutherland series where Cuthbert, playing Jack Bauer’s daughter, is threatened by a cougar. It’s considered the lowest moment in the history of the series.

Read more

National Crayon Day is coming

Mark your calendars as March 31 is National Crayon Day. It’s time to get out those raw sienna, peach, melon, almond, red, shamrock and asparagus colored crayons and do some coloring.

While you do, ponder these facts supplied by the Los Angeles-based Crayon Collection, a national initiative that collects millions of crayons from restaurants every year.

Read more

Dennis Haysbert’s role very complicated

Dennis Haysbert has a very interesting character in the new FOX series, “Backstrom” starring former “The Office” star Rainn Wilson. Not only Haysbert’s role a very competent detective but his character also runs a church. This strange mixture makes the character very distinct.

The problem is, Haysbert’s character could also be a pirate, astronaut and weekend brain surgeon and the only think I can think when I see him is that he’s the President of the United States.

Curse you “24.”

And, even worse, when he opens his mouth, all I want to do is check to see if I have enough car insurance.

Curse you Allstate.

Read more

‘Downton Abbey’ will end with sixth season

Sad news for “Downton Abbey” fans. The sixth season, currently filming in England, will be the last for the popular program that airs on ValleyPBS.

“Millions of people around the world have followed the journey of the Crawley family and those who serve them for the last five years. Inevitably there comes a time when all shows should end and ‘Downton’ is no exception.” Gareth Neame, Carnival Film’s managing director and executive producer, says. “We wanted to close the doors of ‘Downton Abbey’ when it felt right and natural for the story lines to come together and when the show was still being enjoyed so much by its fans.

“We can promise a final season full of all the usual drama and intrigue, but with the added excitement of discovering how and where they all end up.”

The series debuted on public television in 2011 as part of the “Masterpiece” series. It quickly became the most popular series in the “Masterpiece” 44 year history. It has earned 48 prime-time Emmy nominations and three Golden Globe awards.

Season five was seen by 25.5 million viewers and episodes were streamed more than 12.6 times. 

The final episodes will begin to air in January.

You can be an extra in ‘Steve Jobs’ movie

Here’s your chance to be in a movie.

The Universal Pictures’ movie, “Steve Jobs,” is currently filming in San Francisco. Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet star.

Men and women who are 18 and above are being sought to be extras for a scene in the movie. Attendees will receive free parking, free food and drink and a chance to win giveaways including four tickets to Universal Studios Hollywood and two tickets to the premiere of the film.

Read more

Miller, Purcell love being bad on ‘The Flash’

Almost 10 year years ago, I sat in the same bar at the Langham Huntington Beach Hotel talking with Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell about their roles in the under-appreciated FOX series “Prison Break.” They played brothers who through an elaborate plan escape from prison and go on the run.

Now, I’m talking to them about playing criminals again. 

They aren’t portraying brothers on the under-appreciated CW series, “The Flash,” but they are criminal cohorts as Captain Cold and Heat Wave. Their work is so good, there’s talk the pair will be part of a new comic book-based series for the network.

The actors were excited about the opportunity to work together again because they had become close friends during their days on “Prison Break.”

Read more

Christopher Gorham lands film role

Fresno’s Christopher Gorham has been signed to star in the feature film “Po” from director John Asher. Gorham will play a recently widowed man who must learn to cope with becoming a single father to his 9-year-old autistic son, Po (Julian Feder).

Asher, whose directing credits include episodes of “One Tree Hill” and the feature film “Dirty Love,” is the parent of an autistic child.

“I can’t wait to start working on Po.  It’s the best script I’ve read, to date, that dramatizes the challenges, and rewards, of raising a child with ASD.  My character’s journey, in this movie, will hit very close to home to a lot of folks, and the fantasy element, I hope, will help open some minds and hearts to the potential and promise of children whom are often overlooked,” Gorham says.

Production begins in April during Autism Awareness month. No release date has been announced.

Read more

Kenneth Branagh keeps ‘Cinderella’ fans in mind

Whether it’s a fairy tale character or a character from the comic book world – as was the case with his “Thor” – director Kenneth Branagh brings an understanding of how important it is to respect the mythology behind the character. These are the elements fans are going to expect when they see a big screen offering based on the character.

In the case of “Cinderella,” there was only one question Branagh was asked when he would say he was directing the movie.

“Everyone wanted to know if GusGus would be in it,” Branagh tells me during an interview at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Read more

‘Frozen’ sequel in the works

“Frozen 2” is in development at Walt Disney Animation Studios with directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee and producer Peter Del Vecho, the Oscar-winning filmmaking team behind “Frozen.” 

No release date for the sequel has been announced. 

Don’t look for “Frozen 2” anytime soon. When I talked to Buck and Del Vecho a couple of weeks ago for their work on the animated short, “Frozen Fever,” that is featured with the live-action movie “Cinderella, they had another project that was taking up their time.

They are mounting a Broadway show based on the animated film that has their full attention.

Read more

‘Prince Farming’ ready to make up his mind

The latest ABC  search for love in front of millions of people comes to an end Monday, March 9, when the man known as “Prince Farming,” Chris Soules, will make his decision on “The Bachelor.”

The field has been narrowed to Becca and Whitney. It will be revealed whether one of them is about to be whisked off to Arlington, Iowa or Soules will fail to find true love (or at least as true as it can be on a reality TV show).

I had a chance to chat with Soules in January during a party thrown by ABC. He says he was willing to put himself through the public spectacle because the idea of being the Bachelor seemed like a good way to have some fun.

Read more

Dean Winters faces ‘Battle’ after health scare

Dean Winters has become a familiar face on television from his insurance commercials as the character of “Mayhem” to his new starring role in the CBS series “Battle Creek.”

Not bad for a guy who died almost six years ago.

Winters woke up on June 18, 2009 with a bad fever. He decided to try and sleep it away. But, he woke the next day to see that his entire body was gray because of  a bacterial infection. On his way to the hospital, his heart stooped for two and a half minutes.

The paramedics brought him back. That was the start of a three-week stay in the intensive care unit.

Read more

Leonard Nimoy leaves lasting legacy

Other than Gene Roddenberry, no one meant more to the “Star Trek” franchise than Leonard Nimoy. His passing leaves a black hole in the “Star Trek” universe that will never close.

It wasn’t the bravado that William Shatner and Chris Pine brought to the show. It wasn’t the comic relief supplied by James Doohan and Simon Pegg. It was the Nimoy’s stoic performance as Spock that served as the tent pole for the series. Without his logical views on the world, the series would have been just a standard action offering. Spock was a true original.

Read more

Terrence Howard faces fears to do ‘Empire’

It’s a good thing Terrence Howard overcame his fears about being in the new FOX series “Empire.” Had he passed on the show, Howard would have missed out on being part of the biggest phenomenon of this TV season.

“Empire,” the story of a family involved in the music industry, has attracted more viewers each week since it launched in January.

What scared Howard was how his character treated people including a scene where he throws a child into a garbage can. That’s not the kind of action that will earn any points toward “Father of the Year” voting.

Read more

Margot Robbie wins over ‘Focus’ producers

Will Smith was convinced Margot Robbie wasn’t interested in playing the female lead in his new movie, “Focus,” when she arrived at the audition. She wasn’t wearing any makeup, her hair had not been done and she was dressed like a beach bum.

And yet, she got the role. The film opens Friday, Feb. 27.

The reason the stunning blonde, who was the subject of so much chatter when she was on the red carpet for the recent Academy Awards because of how good she looked, was in such a state was that she had made a trip halfway around the globe to tryout for the part of the female con artist.

Read more

Latest ‘Dancing with the Stars’ lineup revealed

The 10th anniversary cast for “Dancing with the Stars” is the usual collection of semi-celebrities. They will get their first chance to dance when the ABC competition series returns at 8 p.m. March 16.

Here are the early odds for the lalest lineup:

Singer/actor Riker Lynch partnered with Allison Holker. (3-1)

Olympian Nastia Liukin partnered with Derek Hough. (4-1)

Disabled veteran Noah Galloway partnered with Sharna Burgess. (10-1)

“Hunger Games” star Willow Shields partnered with Mark Ballas. (12-1)

Carl’s Jr. model Charlotte McKinney partnered with Keo Motsepe. (15-1)

Actress Rumer Willis partnered with Valentin Chmerkovskiy. (18-1)

Producer/performer Redfoo partnered with Emma Slater. (18-1)

Gridder Michael Sam partnered with Peta Murgatroyd. (18-1)

Actress/author Suzanne Somers partnered with Tony Dovolani. (20-1)

“Shark Tank” star Robert Herjavec partnered with Kym Johnson. (20-1)

Singer Patti LaBelle partnered with Artem Chigvintsev. (25-1)

Zachary Quinto gets emotional in ‘The Slap’

When it comes to ranges of emotions, Zachary Quinto has played the extremes. As Spock, in the new incarnation of “Star Trek,” the Pittsburgh native plays a character who keeps his emotions under close check.

His role in “The Slap” is the opposite. Quinto portrays a guest at a birthday party who loses control of his anger and slaps the faces of the 5-year-old son of another couple. The mini-series starts Feb. 12 on KSEE24.

This explosion of emotions comes with him having to film the scene where his character slaps the child. The scene with the actual slap was done under strict scrutiny and all of the emotional explosions that followed were filmed without the children on set.

Read more