Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

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.

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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.

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Brandon Routh goes from Superman to Atom

TV shows and movies have become such big hits they have become coveted jobs for actors.

Brandon Routh has been double lucky as he’s landed two such roles. He slipped into the familair red-blue-and-yellow costume of the Man of Steel for the 2006 movie “Superman Returns.”

Now, he’s playing Ray Palmer in “Arrow.” DC Comic fans will recognize that name as the secret identity of The Atom. The CW Network series has revealed only a little bit of information about how the TV version of Atom – or as he’s known on the show, A.T.O.M. – will become a costumed hero.

The suit looks great though.

If it follows the comics, the Atom will be able to shrink to super small size.

When Routh was pitched the idea of joining “Arrow” to play Palmer, he initially balked at the idea of stepping back into the DC world.

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CBS has reason to brag about lineup

CBS took over the TV Critics tour with a little bit of bragging. Network president, Nina Tassler, points out that CBS has the top three new shows with “NCIS: New Orleans,” “Madam Secretary” and “Scorpion.” The newtork only launched five new shows. That means “Stalker” and “The McCarthys” aren’t doing as well.

Here are some other highlights from Tassler’s meeting with TV critics.

QUESTION: Stephen Colbert takes over David Letterman’s slot on Sept. 8. Letterman ends his show May 20, what will you be doing during the summer?

NINA TASSLER: What we’re going to be doing this summer is we have a great opportunity to run encore presentations of our new hit shows and our enduring hit shows. So we’re going to be running our primetime, some of our shows from primetime during the summer at 11:30.

Q: Why is “Supergirl” a good fit for CBS?

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Martin singing praises of job

One of the big hits from the fall season, “The Flash,” is hiding a secret. If there is ever a musical showdown with other TV programs, the cast would be able to put together an all-star team.

Series star Grant Gustin has an extensive musical theater background but the heavyweight musical member of the group is Jesse L. Martin. You might not be aware of his singing credentials as Martin has been playing TV detectives – first on “Law & Order” and now on “The Flash.”

He showed a little of that skill with his guest starring role on “Smash.”

But, his breakthrough came in Jonathan Larson’s Broadway musical “Rent” in 2005. He reprised the role in the feature film version of the musical.

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Jesse L. Martin joins series in a ‘Flash’

If things get boring on the set of “The Flash,” the cast could always break into a few musical numbers. Grant Gustin, who plays the scarlet speedster on the new CW Network series, has a long background in musical theater. But, his credits pale to the time co-star Jesse L. Martin has spent on stage — including starring in the original Broadway production of “Rent.”

Martin moves into the expanding universe of TV shows inspired by super hero comics with “The Flash.” He understands the rabid following comics have because he saw a similar passion by the fans of “Rent.”

“It did sort of feel like you were a super hero,” Martin tells me. “It was more of a singing, dancing lower East Side kind of super hero who had no powers other than emotional and use of voice.”

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UPDATE: You can win special ‘Gotham’ poster


The winners of the “Gotham” posters have been randomly selected. Wes and TjMathew get one of the promotional items for the new FOX series. Thanks to those who participated.

ORIGINAL POST: “Gotham” is shaping up to be one of the big hits for the 2014-2015 network television season. The new series looks at life in Gotham City just after the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents. It will focus on the efforts of a young Jim Gordon to clean up the city and the police force.

At the same time, viewers will learn how The Penguin, The Riddler, Catwoman and other villains got their starts.

The series launches Sept. 22 on FOX.

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Smith takes on familiar role in ‘Gotham’

Riddle me this? Which actor will face one of the biggest acting challenges this fall because of the people who have played the same role in the past?

The answer is Cory Michael Smith. He’s both hit the lottery and will face the firing squad as he takes on the role of Edward Nygma — better known as The Riddler to fans of the Batman comics — in the new FOX series “Gotham.” He follows both Frank Gorshin and John Astin who portrayed the mischievous villain in the ‘60s TV series and Jim Carrey who took on the role in the 1995 release “Batman Forever.”

“Though I am a huge Jim Carrey fan, I’ve never seen ‘Batman Forever’ and I have no plan on watching it. And I’ve seen some of Frank Gorshin’s work, but I’ve certainly not watched the entire series or a significant portion of it,” Smith says. “ I personally am just kind of reading the comic books and using that. And also, I have my opinions. You know, psychological, psychiatric development and studies since the ‘60s, I think, have changed greatly.

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Keaton compares ‘RoboCop’ to ‘Batman’

MOVIE BATMANMichael Keaton plays a billionaire businessman behind the robotics in the updated version of “RoboCop” that opens Feb. 12. He says the role was based partly on Steve Jobs.

OK. That officially gets the “RoboCop” part of the interview out of the way. Being a comic book geek. I had to take the opportunity to ask Keaton about playing Batman. In a small way, it’s a logical topic as both Keaton and Joel Kinnaman — who plays the new RoboCop — have had to act with something covering three-quarters of their face.

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Holy Affleck! Ben’s playing Batman

POPTOPS2Ben Affleck has been cast to play Batman in the “Man of Steel” sequel to be released in 2015. Henry Cavill will be back to play Superman while “Man of Steel” director Zack Snyder also will be back.

Affleck as Batman. That’s the worst casting idea since Ryan Reynolds was selected to play Green Lantern or Affleck was cast as Daredevil. Affleck is a good actor and a fine director. But, he’s already shown playing costumed characters is not his super acting power.

There have been some great castings in comic book inspired movies. No one could bring the snarky tone better than Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man and Chris Hemsworth was born to play Thor.

There have also been some major mistakes. Here are my five worst castings in comic book movies. Feel free to add to the list.

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‘Man of Steel’ nasty work for Russell Crowe

Russell Crowe,Going into the interviews for the “Man of Steel,” I had some concerns about chatting with Russell Crowe, the actor playing Jor-El in the summer film. His career is full of roles where he has played tough guys. And, he did throw a telephone at an employee of the Mercer Hotel who refused to help him place a call.

How would he react to a question he didn’t like?

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Hans Zimmer gives ‘Man of Steel’ musical strength

ZIMMER“Man of Steel,” the latest big screen adaptation of the the Superman story, is very different from all of the other TV and film versions that have gone before it. I’m not just talking about the lack of certain well known elements associated with the comic book icon — no Fortress of Solitude, big S on the back of his cape or kryptonite — but in the way the story is told.

Director Zack Snyder has opted to go darker with his film. That ranges from the deeper hues in Superman’s suit to the percussion-heavy score by Hans Zimmer. You’ve heard Zimmer work in the movies “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” “Rango” and “Inception.”

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‘Man of Steel’s’ Amy Adams has cheeky daughter

MAN OF STEELIn talking with Amy Adams about her work as Lois Lane in the upcoming “Man of Steel,” the actress reveals an embarrassing fact about her 3-year-old daughter, Aviana. It seems the youngster is more mature than her age would suggest.

Before stepping into the latest comic book inspired movie, Adams spent time working with the Muppets in the 2011 movie “The Muppets.” A year earlier, her daughter was born. So, is Aviana a bigger fan of “The Muppets” or Superman?

The obvious answer would be the bundles of cloth and fur that make up the Muppet world but Adams got to see a different side of her daughter when she was on the “Man of Steel” set while Henry Cavill was in the skin-tight, red-and-blue suit.

“She really liked Henry in the suit I have to say. She did try to give him a cheeky grab which was really funny. She wanted to touch the suit and she just happened to be rear end height,” Adams says. “So she reached out and gave it a little touch.”

She pauses, smiles and then adds, “She’s going to kill me when she’s older.”

Almost as a way of buffering future embarrassment, Adams quickly adds that her daughter’s really into Miss Piggy. When the actress was leaving her house to do the promotional interviews for “Man of Steel,” her daughter asked if she was going to be working with the celebrity swine that day.

If Adams does another Muppet movie, Kermit should keep an eye open in case the actress brings her daughter to the set.

Katie Cassidy makes great acting leap

It’s always fascinating to hear how actors describe their chose profession.

Katie Cassidy has been around the entertainment business all her life. It started with her being the daughter of pop star David Cassidy and continued when at the age of 17 she landed a small role in the TV series “The Division.” Since then Cassidy’s appeared in numerous TV shows and films, but nothing has been as big a hit for her as her current show, the CW Network’s “Arrow.” Cassidy plays Dinah Laurel Lance, a former love interest to the man behind the mask, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell).

The “Arrow” star uses a very interesting analogy to talk acting.

“It’s almost like being a trapeze artist,” Cassidy says during a CW Network party. “The audience is watching the trapeze artist and the moment they want to see is when you let go of the bar, flying through the air and are about to grab on to the other one.

“A teeny, tiny part of us is wondering if they are going to miss. It’s that moment people want to see. It’s when as an actor, you let go and allow yourself to fly and accept whatever will happen before you grab the next one.”

Comic book fans are watching closely as Cassidy flies through the air with “Arrow” because in the Green Arrow comic books that spawned this series, Dinah Lance is the super hero known as Black Canary. The series recently introduced the character of the Huntress so Canary could fly.

Cassidy knows all about the super hero side of her character having been given a stack of the comics once she was cast. The actress isn’t saying whether that element will be added to the show but does like that story line is there to add depth to her character.

It would be another grand leap through the acting air for her.

Help a couple Fresno guys win a contract with DC Comics


UPDATE: Today is the last day of the contest and Monsterplex is currently at No. 2. Go help ‘em out, Fresno!

ORIGINAL POST, 2/11:Monsterplex,” a comic produced by two Fresno guys, is currently running strong in this month’s Zuda competition, put on by the ever-so-famous DC Comics (you know, Superman, Batman, etc).

On the line is a one-year contact with DC for “Monsterplex” and the minds behind it — Brock Heasley and David Schlotterback. They’re doing well so far, currently in second place, but they were No. 1 a few days ago. But they could use a little bit of a Fresno push. Just head over here to check out “Monsterplex,” which is a comic about a movie theater with real monsters in it.

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