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After perfecting her plain-girl act in Arrested Development, Mae Whitman (her?) is trying to shake it off in The Duff. She plays Bianca, a high school senior who’s dismayed to realize she’s considered the DUFF — Designated Ugly Fat Friend — to her prettier pals. In an effort to reinvent herself, she enlists the help of handsome popular jock Wesley (Robbie Amell).

It all sounds pretty silly, starting with the notion that Whitman is ugly and fat. But this is movie-land, where Rachel Leigh Cook was once considered freakishly repulsive because she dared wear overalls and glasses. And where we’re supposed to believe Amell, a 26-year-old former male model, is a typical teenager. Hit the jump to watch The Duff trailer.

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Parenthood Season 6
Good news for fans of Parenthood (like me): NBC has renewed the series for a 13-episode final season. The network will air Parenthood Season 6 in the fall, in the Thursday 10pm time slot. More details on the return, after the jump.
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The Graduate Live Read

Early on in The Graduate, there’s that iconic moment. Ben Braddock, a recent college grad, is talking with the beautiful older family friend Mrs. Robinson. Ben says, “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me.” It’s iconic thanks to director Mike Nichols’ choice of angle, the delivery of the line by Dustin Hoffman, and the way that one sentence sets the entire story into motion.

At Jason Reitman‘s final live read of the season, actor Jay Baruchel played the role of Ben Braddock. When he got to that line, delivered next to his Mrs. Robinson, Sharon Stone, the 32-year-old actor broke character, cocked his right arm on his side and whispered, “Yes!” He was excited, not just because he nailed the legendary line, but maybe he got the feeling what was to follow was going to go very well. Reitman’s casting of Baruchel as the nervous, unsure, yet charming and likable Ben couldn’t have been more perfect. The same could also be said for Sharon Stone, whose Mrs. Robinson was sexy, confident and cool.

Though both actors were merely sitting in chairs, reading lines of dialogue, their body language created an electric chemistry that turned the combination of a great cast and a flawless script into a memorable event. Below, read more details about the Film Independent at LACMA Live Read of The Graduate. Read More »

Groundhog Day Live Read

10,000 years. That’s how long Phil Connors was stuck in Groundhog Day. At least, that’s what writers Harold Ramis and Danny Rubin said in an early draft of the now classic 1993 film. That revelation was later cut out, along with a lot of other things, to make the film we know and love.

But on March 20, Jason Reitman presented that early draft as part of his Film Independent at LACMA Live Read series. On a night dedicated to Ramis, the Groundhog Day co-writer and director, Reitman brought together a small but perfect cast to read through the script. That cast included Jason Bateman as Phil, Elizabeth Reeser as Rita, Jeffery Ross as Larry, Mae Whitman as Nancy, and Stephen Tobolowsky as Ned, the role he originated.

That balance of familiarity from Tobolowsky, coupled with a fresh but perfectly poignant take from Bateman, made Groundhog Day one of the best live reads to come out of the series to date. Read More »

The Wind Rises

Briefly: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is having a big news day. He’s attached to adapt Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and he’s now officially been revealed as the lead voice in Disney’s English-language release of Hayao Miyazaki‘s final film, The Wind Rises.

Gordon-Levitt will voice Jiro Horikoshi, a talented engineer who spends his life building planes, only to realize he can’t fix everything. The actor will be joined by an impressive list of names including his Looper co-star Emily Blunt, her husband John Krasinski, as well as Martin Short, Stanley Tucci, Mandy Patinkin, William H. Macy, Werner Herzog (!), Mae Whitman, Jennifer Grey, Darren Criss, Elijah Wood and Ronan Farrow.

The English dubbed version will be released February 21. [USA Today]

The Pirate Fairy

Tom Hiddleston is already a Disney prince of sorts, but he’ll dive even deeper into the Mouse House next spring. A few months back, it was announced that Hiddleston and Christina Hendricks had signed on for The Pirate Fairy, a sort of Peter Pan spinoff about Tinkerbell (Mae Whitman — yes, her), a badass fairy named Zarina (Hendricks), and the cabin boy (James) she falls for.

Unfortunately for Zarina, the object of her affections may not be quite as sweet and innocent as he looks. It turns out his name is James Hook, as in Captain Hook, although The Pirate Fairy takes place before that crocodile took his hand. A new trailer has just arrived, and you can check it out after the jump.

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Breaking Bad Pilot Bryan Cranston

“If you’re a writer tonight, you might want to hide your knives,” said Jason Reitman at Tuesday night’s special summer live read. “This script is so good you’ll never want to write again. You f***er, Vince.”

The script Reitman was referring to, the script that could get the writer/director to come back and do a live read in July when he’s not scheduled to come back until October, was the pilot of AMC’s Breaking Bad. The “Vince” is creator Vince Gilligan. And as fantastic the first episode of Breaking Bad is to watch, to hear it read reveals another level of brilliance. If you were to travel back in time, sit down with Gilligan in 2007 and ask him to describe what happens in the show over a few beers, that’s what his writing sounds like. It’s perfectly, brilliantly descriptive with a language that’s filled with vulgarity and humor. It has a conversational, culturally current tone that pops off the page.

The latest live read at the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art, presented by Film Independent, revealed not only this fantastic writing, but some fun interpretations by great actors, appearances by the original actors, deleted scenes and more. Read about it below. Read More »

Usual Suspects

For Jason Reitman‘s final live read of the 2012-2013 season, he chose a revered, Oscar-winning screenplay: Christopher McQuarrie‘s The Usual Suspects. When that title was announced I was initially skeptical. I thought, “The Usual Suspects is so well known for its surprise ending, and that ending is so incredibly visual, how would it come across in a live read setting?” The answer was revealed in two ways. First this read suggests that Bryan Singer‘s direction in the original film is powerful and underrated. Also, as great as the ending to McQuarrie’s script is, some of his true poetry isn’t even on the screen.

Presented by Film Independent at LACMA, read more about the star-studded cast (which included Dexter‘s Michael C. Hall, The League‘s Mark Duplass and original cast member Kevin Pollak) below. Read More »

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