The Crazies: New Film & Comic Book Giveaway

The new film The Crazies debuts tomorrow in theaters, and I have a giveaway to accompany the release!

The movie, which is a reinvention of the George Romero horror classic, stars Timothy Olyphant (Deadwood) and Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill) as a couple in a small Midwestern town who find themselves battling to survive when their friends and families descend into madness.

For your chance to win this limited edition set of 4 Crazies comic books, simply leave a comment below with your name and email address by March 3!

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Hi Again: A Very Random Pop Culture Update

I owe you an apology, again. Every intention of updating this site on a much more frequent basis has fallen victim to time, travel and Lost over the last several weeks. But this site is my real baby; my original blog of almost 5 years, and what will continue to be home base once Lost ends forever in May. 

Because I have been negligent for far too long, I thought I would briefly address what has been going on in my pop culture world and provide appropriate links if you’re interested in additional details. 
  • I just returned from a weekend in Buenos Aires and week in Santiago, Chile (visiting family; see video at bottom of post). To escape thunderstorms one afternoon, we went to see An Education. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it, particularly the performance of Carey Mulligan. While I believe that she completely deserves her Best Actress nod, I don’t think that she stands a chance against Meryl and Sandra this year. And to be honest, I do not agree with the film’s inclusion as a Best Picture nominee. But don’t get me started about the fact there are now 10 in that category…

  • While on the red carpet, I had the opportunity to interview Michael Emerson’s wife, actress Carrie Preston. Stay tuned for audio from that conversation, as we discuss her role as Arlene in the third season of True Blood!
  • I am currently hosting a Haiti relief fundraiser on my Lost site, giving away memorabilia to those who donate $10 or more to Partners in Health (in conjunction with Mo Ryan from the Chicago Tribune, who is also auctioning off various TV items for the cause via eBay). 
  • In anticipation of new episodes of the stellar series Southland (beginning March 2 on its new network: TNT), here is a look behind the scenes of the show. I will be receiving a screener shortly and plan to preview it here for you before it airs. 

  • To celebrate the new movie The Crazies, a reinvention of the George Romero horror classic starring Timothy Olyphant (opening on February 26 in theaters), I will be giving away a set of limited-edition The Crazies comic books very soon!
  • One of my favorite new shows of the last several years, Nurse Jackie, returns for a second season on March 22. Here is the trailer. Jump on board; I guarantee you won’t regret it. Twilight fans, you will love Peter Facinelli in this series – check out Dr. Coop’s Video Diary.

  • And here is your first look at the sophomore season of my other favorite new show in recent memory, United States of Tara. Joey Lauren Adams joins the cast, and the series also returns on March 22.
Thank you for your patience, whether you are fairly new to this site or have been visiting for several years. I look forward to hearing from YOU; feel free to leave comments and/or feedback below!

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Enter to Win! Passes to Advanced Screenings of Clooney’s “The Men Who Stare at Goats”

If you live in Northern California, here is your chance to win passes to a screening of the new dark comedy, The Men Who Stare at Goats

Next Thursday (11/5/09), there will be advance screenings of the film in the following cities: San Francisco, Sacramento, Cupertino and Fresno. The contest begins tomorrow and ends on Wednesday at noon!

Simply text the word JOPINIONATED and your zip code to 43549 for your chance to win 2 passes! Ten winners per screening will be chosen, and they will be notified via text message. 

In addition to George Clooney, The Men Who Stare at Goats features Jeff Bridges, Ewan McGregor and Kevin Spacey. Inspired by Jon Ronson’s non-fiction bestseller, the movie is directed by Grant Heslov (the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Good Night, and Good Luck). 

Text away, and thanks for entering!

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TV & Film Recommendations for This Week (9/21/09)

I am going to try to provide a weekly list of links to shows, films and general pop culture that I think you would enjoy. Let me know if this is something that you’d be interested in!

Television: Series Recommendations & Reminders

In addition to the following, I will also be checking out the series premieres of Cougar Town (ABC, 9/24) and The Good Wife (CBS, 9/22).

SHO, returns Sunday (9/27)

I will reviewing the first four episodes this week – stay tuned for an extensive (spoiler-free) Season 4 preview right here, on or before Sunday!

FOX, returns Friday (9/25)

One of the most unique new shows of 2008  returns for a sophomore season, following a mind-blowing DVD & iTunes only episode (“Epitaph One”) that did not air with the first season. 

ABC, premieres Thursday (9/24/09)

This is, without question, the best pilot I have seen in five years. Stunning cinematography, fantastic script and cast, immediately intriguing. I have already started a website for the new series, and will be giving away copies of Robert J. Sawyer’s book FlashForward there later this week.

At Comic-Con earlier this summer, I recorded a personal FlashForward video, and had the opportunity to interview the cast after the panel.

I highly recommend that you visit and bookmark the official FlashForward websites, JoinTheMosaic and TruthHack (which are confirmed to be canon), as well as the official message board with both cast and creative team participation and interaction.

Grey’s Anatomy
ABC, returns Thursday (9/24)

Here is my spoiler-free preview/review of the two-hour season premiere. 

FOX, returns tonight (9/21/09)

TiVO/DVR alert: the season premiere runs 2 hours and 1 minute long.

I am giving away House S5 on DVD; if you haven’t entered already, click here for a chance to win! The contest has been extended through tomorrow.

CBS, returns Friday (9/25/09)

New network and night alert: Fridays on CBS.

Modern Family
ABC, premieres Wednesday (9/23/09)

My favorite new comedy series of 2009 (aside from Glee, which is more of a variety comedy show). Original premise, very likable cast and more than a few laugh-out-loud moments in the pilot alone.

Fall Film Recommendations, Part 1

Bright Star
Written & directed by Jane Campion. Starring Abbie Cornish and Ben Whishaw.
In wide release: 9/25/09

A beautiful film about the secret affair between poet John Keats and his outspoken neighbor Fanny Brawne, in early 1800′s London.

The Informant
Directed by Steven Soderbergh, written by Scott Z. Burns
Starring Matt Damon, Scott Bakula, Joel McHale and Melanie Lynskey
In wide release: now

You can’t go wrong with Soderbergh and Damon, and it’s nice to see McHale both on the new NBC series Community and on the big screen. And of course Lynskey, whom I have enjoyed since her film debut with Kate Winslet in Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures (1994).

The Invention of Lying
Written & directed by Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson
Starring Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Jonah Hill, Louis C.K., Jeffrey Tambor, Fionnula Flanagan, Rob Lowe and Tina Fey
In wide release: 10/2/09

Great cast and very funny trailer; I may be attending a screening next week and will then post a review.

Precious (Based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire)
Directed by Lee Daniels, screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher
Starring Mo’Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Sherri Shepherd, Lenny Kravitz and Gabourey Sidibe
In wide release: 11/13/09

There is early Oscar buzz about a potential Best Actress nomination for Mo’Nique in this film, which is Executive Produced by the powerhouse combination of Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry.

DVD Release of the Week

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital Download

Some people love Jennifer Aniston; to each their own. I simply prefer another Jennifer (Garner), given the choice, when buying or renting romantic/relationship films. 

Have a great week!

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I’ve Got a HOUSE I’d Like to Give You…

In honor of the new season of HOUSE, which kicks off with a 2-hour season premiere on Monday, I have one House Season 5 DVD to give away!

If you’d like to enter to win, leave a comment here or on my Facebook wall with your name and email address, stating WHY you’d like to win the DVD. The only rules are that you must live in the U.S. and can only enter one time. 

This contest is open until Monday, September 21 at 8pm PST. I will then put all of your names into a hat and randomly select one winner, which I will announce either later that evening or the following day. 

Simple enough? Bring it on. Win a House of your very own.

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In & Out of the Lab w/Astrid Farnsworth: An Interview with Jasika Nicole from FRINGE

At WonderCon in San Francisco recently, I was thrilled to
find out that Jasika Nicole (Astrid Farnsworth on Fringe) was going to be there. She was
delightful, outgoing and warm; with an infectious laugh and very friendly
smile, I felt like we were old friends after only a few minutes of
conversation. Jasika was kind enough to answer a few questions for an interview, and I also obtained both an autographed photo and poster for two
of YOU to win (see details at the end of the post)!

1. In addition to Fringe, you caught my attention last year
when you were featured in the New York Times article “Out in Hollywood.” And then I was thrilled to discover your very sweet and
autobiographical comic (via a link on your blog). What has been the response to that
article and from fans in general?

Jasika: After the article came out, I got a few incredibly supportive
and sincere emails from some fans, but there wasn’t really an onslaught of
extra attention that I noticed. My comic High Yella Magic has inspired more
people to write to me and offer their opinions and encouragement than that
article did. I really enjoyed being a part of the Times piece, but, in regards
to my story, it was mostly factual and barely personal – it let the world know
that I was queer, out and proud without delving very much beneath the surface. My comic offers a pretty personal
look into who I am and what my experiences have been, and I think that people
tend to connect with and respond to that in kind.

2. A few years ago, you had the opportunity to work with
the late Natasha Richardson (on The Mastersons of Manhattan). Did you share many scenes with her, and would you mind sharing
your memories of her?

Jasika: I did a sitcom pilot with Natasha Richardson in which I
played the seemingly sweet live-in nurse to her ailing father who was also
sleeping with her husband and her nephew. I had a couple of big scenes with
Natasha, but when I wasn’t on the set, I spent all my time just watching her
and Brian Benben and Molly Shannon create really dynamic comedy with each other
in rehearsal. James Burrows was the director for that show, and watching him
and Natasha work together, him coming up with an idea on the fly and her being
able to take that and give him something even better than he asked for – it was
just remarkable.

3. After the show The Return on Jezebel James was canceled,
were you looking for another television series?

Jasika: No, not at all. I just wanted to be working! After my
Jezebel dreams were crushed, the effects of the Writers’ Strike hit full force.
There were hardly any auditions at all, so I tried to prepare myself for the
worst, which, in my head, was not screen testing or being cast in any projects
at all during pilot season. Fringe ended up being a complete shock
for everyone on my end.

4. How did the opportunity to audition for Fringe arise, and
what was that process like?

Jasika: I was submitted for the role of Astrid, and all I knew was
that she was supposed to be a young, tech-savvy FBI agent. I remember thinking
“uh uh, not with MY hair,” and I didn’t put very much energy into the
audition. I figured that it was such a long shot that I didn’t even need to get
my hopes up for her. I had about 3 callbacks before I screen-tested, and at
this point I still had not read a script or anything, so I was excited about
the prospect, but not sure exactly what I was excited about. My manager and
agent put me on a three-way phone call to tell me the news that I was cast,
where we all proceeded to scream in each other’s ears for several minutes, and
I was on a plane to Toronto to film the pilot a few weeks later.

5. Who makes you laugh on set; is there a practical jokester
among the cast?

Jasika: John (Noble) and Josh (Jackson)and I are always in fierce competition to make
each other laugh, but Josh probably wins since he is able to make himself laugh
as much as anyone else. We have such a natural, easy rapport with each other
that it’s almost impossible not to have a good time when we are in the lab. I
refer to them as “the Damn Bishops” and they call me “Agent

6. I’m sure you’ve heard or read about the frustration that
some Fringe fans have about the lack of action and story for Astrid…both in and
out of the lab. Will we see more of or about Astrid before the end of Season 1?

Jasika: Astrid gets out of the lab again in the second half of the
season! WOO HOOO! Hopefully the fans will feel validated…but if they don’t,
there’s always Season 2.

7. Given that you live in New York (where Season 1 was
filmed), how do you feel about the production move to Vancouver for Season 2?

Jasika: Initially I was very frustrated. I hated the thought that
this giant crew of people who put so much blood, sweat and tears into the show
was not going to be able to continue to build onto what they helped create.
It’s so hard to say goodbye because we have become a family over the past 10
months of working together. But eventually I had to realize that this is the
nature of the business and that I just needed to be happy that our hard work
had paid off. I’m still not looking forward to parting ways, but I plan on
adding all the friends I made from the Fringe crew to my Facebook.

8. I see that you’re still involved with the theater,
appearing in various charitable events such as the Our Time Theatre Company
gala next week. Do you foresee a return to Broadway someday, or in between
films and seasons of Fringe?

Jasika: I would absolutely LOVE to get back onstage again for a
show. I miss the theatre so much! I used to think that I preferred theatre over
film and TV, but eventually I realized that they are two completely separate
art forms, like apples and…bacon. I like them both for such different
reasons, but I have been away from theatre for a really long time and that’s
why I miss it so – I’ve forgotten what it’s like to stand on stage and sing to
people! It’s amazing – you become so aware of your body when you’re under those
stage lights that you start to notice how your breath reaches all the way down
to your feet!

9. What can you tell us about your next film, She’s
Out of My League

Jasika: I hope my scenes didn’t get deleted.

I would like to thank Jasika for taking the time to answer these questions, and wish her an early Happy Birthday (April 10)!  She is quite talented, as well as a personable and sweet human being. I look forward to more Astrid on the small screen, and new comics as well!

If you are a Fringe fan and would like to win a Jasika-autographed photo of her and Walter Bishop in the lab or an autographed small poster of the cast, simply leave a comment for Jasika below and your name will be entered! The winners will be announced on April 17.

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