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First glimpse of Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate

July 23, 2013

In 2006, an Iceland-based outfit called The Sunshine Press launched the website WikiLeaks.org. The site’s mandate involved regularly publishing top-secret documents and covert information, often regarding governments and their respective military operations. By creating a platform that allowed whistleblowers to anonymously leak covert data, a huge debate ensued between those who admired the organization’s courage and resourcefulness, and those who argued that the dissemination of data regarding such events as the U.S. war in Afghanistan could put untold numbers of lives at risk.

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Australian Internet activist, Julian Assange, The Fifth Estate is based on real events and adapted from the book by and told from the point of view of Assange’s friend Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl). It follows the journey of Assange and his colleagues as the controversial website and its founder become their own media story and WikiLeaks’ popularity sparks a conflict between the two Internet sleuths.

As you can see from the first trailer that has just been released, the story begins as WikiLeaks founder Assange and Domscheit-Berg team up to become underground watchdogs of the privileged and powerful. However, when Assange and Berg gain access to the biggest trove of confidential intelligence documents in U.S. history, they battle each other and what has become the defining question of our time: what are the costs of keeping secrets in a free society—and what are the costs of exposing them?

With a targeted release date of October 11 in the States, look for Downton Abbey-ex, Dan Stevens, playing the role of Ian Katz, former deputy editor of The Guardian and one of the newspapers original contacts with WikiLeaks. Katz left the Guardian this month and has joined the BBC as editor of BBC 2′s Newsnight beginning in September. Also, Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It, The Hour) stars as Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger.

Doctor Who at Comic-Con; BBC reveals plans for 50th

July 22, 2013

The Tardis lands in San Diego at Comic-Con

comic-conNot to be outdone by Sherlock, it was all Doctor Who as San Diego Comic-Con 2013 came to a close on Sunday. As with the earlier Sherlock panel, there were more than enough spoiler hints and teases to keep those that had been camping out for almost 24 hours to get in on the edge of their seats for the next four months and the broadcast of the 50th anniversary special.

Hosted by the greatness that is Craig Ferguson, the Doctor Who panel was led by showrunner Steven Moffat, “…the man who killed Amy and Rory, as introduced by Ferguson. According to Digital Spy, the biggest highlights, without question, from the panel were the clips from both Mark Gatiss’ Adventure in Space and Time, starring David Bradley as William Hartnell, AND the upcoming 50th anniversary special.

Respectfully adhering to stern requests to refrain from uploading the trailer online and sadly for those of us not in attendance, there is nothing to show. (Insert sad face here). But, I think I’ll make it to November given Steven Moffat’s post-trailer comment, “You have seen nothing, trust me“.

BBC announces 50th plans for Doctor Who

Regarding the 50th, the BBC confirmed later in the day that the Daleks will play a major role in the upcoming anniversary special. Matt Smith, along with former Doctor, David Tennant, and mysterious new Doctor, John Hurt, will battle the scariest villains of all-time in his final arc as the Doctor. With the announcement, the Beeb also tweeted out three stills from the special that is set to air 23 November on BBC One (and, most likely, the same day on BBC America in the States).
Daleks to battle the Doctor during 50th anniversary 1

Moffat said of the Daleks’ return: “The Doctor once said that you can judge a man by the quality of his enemies, so it’s fitting that for this very special episode, he should be facing the greatest enemies of all.

Just four months from tomorrow, but who’s counting…

R.I.P. Mel Smith

July 21, 2013

Not the Nine O'Clock News with Mel Smith

Mel Smith, English comedian, writer, film director, producer and actor, best known for his pioneering work on the sketch comedy shows Not the Nine O’Clock News and Alas Smith and Jones has died of a heart attack at the age of 60. Smith and comedy partner, Griff Rhys Jones, founded Talkback in 1981, which grew to be one of the UK’s largest producers of TV comedy and light entertainment programming.

To this day, one of my favorites was the late 70′s/early 80′s series, Not the Nine O’Clock News, in which Smith starred alongside Rowan Atkinson and Griff Rhys Jones. The series, which featured satirical sketches on current news stories and popular culture, premiered on BBC2 as the comedy alternative to the Nine O’Clock News, the flagship BBC news program which was a staple of BBC 1 programming for just over 30 years.

Not the Nine O’Clock News: I’d like to buy a Grammaphone

Not the Nine O’Clock News: Gerald, the Gorilla

Not the Nine O’Clock News: Life of Brian controversy

Following Not the Nine O’Clock News, Smith and Jones, along with for Not the Nine O’Clock News alumni, Chris Langham (The Thick of It, People Like Us), teamed up for Alas Smith and Jones, the brilliant sketch comedy series that ran on the BBC from 1984 to 1998.

Alas Smith and Jones: Police Complaint

Commenting on Twitter, Graham Linehan (Count Arthur Strong, The IT Crowd, Father Ted, Black Books) fondly remembered Smith for providing the outlet for one of his and writing partner Arthur Mathews’ first sketches on Alas Smith and Jones.
Graham Linehan (Glinner) on Twitter

Rowan Atkinson commented on the sad news of Smith’s passing: “Mel Smith – a lovely man of whom I saw too little in his later years. I loved the sketches that we did together on Not the Nine O’Clock News. He was the cast member with whom I felt the most natural performing empathy. He had a wonderfully generous and sympathetic presence both on and off screen. He was also an excellent theatre and movie director, doing a wonderful job on the first Mr Bean movie. I feel truly sad at his parting.

And finally, Stephen Fry paid tribute to the iconic comedian.
Stephen Fry (stephenfry) on Twitter

R.I.P. Mel Smith. You will be missed.

Sherlock takes over Comic-Con 2013!

July 20, 2013

As if any of us need another reason to want to be in San Diego. Somehow, however, Comic-Con 2013 trumps the traditional San Diego weather forecast of a low of 71/high of 72 as being THE reason to be there this week. If any of us needed more of a reason to be jealous of those in attendance this year, attendees of Thursday’s Sherlock panel were treated to exclusive footage from series three of, without question, the reason why television was invented.
Sherlock panel SDCC2013

***Warning: Upcoming Sherlock 3 SPOILER ALERT***

Coming up after a genius bit of video from Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch played at SDCC2013, series co-creators, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, along with producer Sue Vertue, gave the packed house a bit of a hint as to what’s in store for Sherlock fans worldwide in series 3. Stay away from the light if you don’t want to know. But, watch the video as Benedict explains brilliantly how Sherlock survives the rooftop fall from St Barts…using a stuffed monkey, obviously.

***Cue Sherlock 3 SPOILER ALERT bits***

Hot off the presses from a hundred years ago: John does get married and so the clip centers around a touching, funny scene in which Watson is asking Sherlock to be his best man. After some trademark tangents from Sherlock on what, exactly, makes a ‘best man’, he says ‘I’m your best man?’ ‘You are my best friend,’ Watson replies,” said Moffat. With that, the hall collapsed into a chorus of a collective “awww.”

Citing things would be “…slightly more human, and slightly more real”, Moffat then went on to explain the devastating impact the rooftop fall had on Watson. “Sherlock and John reuniting is the show-stopper of the episode”, Moffat says, calling their reunion an ‘electrifying‘ and ‘lengthy sequence‘ and might just be his favorite ever Sherlock moment.

Other bits of Sherlock 3 spoiler gold from Comic-Con….

  • During the discussion of the possibility of  Holmes’ much speculated love life, Moffat laughed and said ““A girlfriend? He’d poison a girlfriend just to see if it worked.
  • Also confirmed was that Andrew Scott would be returning, but that Moriarity, whom he played, was definitely dead. Moffat further explained the complexities behind the character’s demise. “He shoots himself in the brains. You don’t come back from that.
  • Moffat, once again, confirmed that the mystery of Holmes’ death is easily solvable from clues provided so far. “There’s only so many ways you can fall off a roof and survive. It’s not black magic.
  • Finally, co-creator/writer Mark Gatiss discussed Sherlock’s assistant Molly. “Molly was not meant to be a big part, initially,” Gatiss said, then elaborating that the pair’s relationship had become “touching” and that Molly was one of the only people Sherlock trusted.

I’m in for Sherlock 3, how about you?

Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost lead us to ‘The World’s End’

July 19, 2013

As we speak, UK moviegoers are experiencing The World’s End courtesy of Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost. The ‘unofficial’ end to the ‘unofficial’ Cornetto trilogy, as deemed by fans of their predecessors, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, premieres today in theatres across the UK with an August 23 premiere date slated for the U.S.

Centered around one man’s quest to conquer ‘The Golden Mile’ in Newton Haven, Gary King (Pegg) gets the band back together after 20 years for a relatively simple task — 5 guys, 12 pints. Seemed simple at the beginning, anyway, when the boys entered The First Post, their first stop on the golden mile. Let’s just leave it that Newton Haven has changed a bit since the boys left town back in the 90′s.

The idea for The World’s End, according to Wright, was the simple result of a real-life pub crawl he set out on early in life. “I had tried to do it in my home town in Somerset, which is actually the place where we shot Hot Fuzz, and had failed miserably, by the way, at the age of 19, said Wright. It was a particularly memorable night even though I’d only got through six of the 15 pubs.”

To further solidify why I love all that seems to circle around inside Edgar Wright’s mind palace, Wright decided to ask all of his friends from the original pub crawl to the premiere of The World’s End. “I’ve invited all of the people who came on the pub crawl with me to the premiere. Two of them I haven’t seen in over 10 years. It’s going to be amazing.“.

Wright added that he had taken both Simon Pegg and Nick Frost on a follow-up pub crawl in Somerset before they shot Shaun of the Dead in 2004. “What was interesting was that second time around I was aware how pathetic it was trying to recapture this night from when I was a teenager.

Thankfully, I haven’t tried to revisit my early 80′s ‘alphabet pub crawl’ in London. I did, however, make it to the letter ‘G’, I think, getting to The George. Never made it to the Lamb & Flag, unfortunately, which would have been almost the halfway point milestone marker leaving The Nags Head for another day but, that’s another story for another day.

Alfie Boe joins cast of Mr. Selfridge for series 2

July 18, 2013

ITV Studios and PBS announced Tuesday that acclaimed tenor Alfie Boe will be making a special appearance in the new series of Mr Selfridge, which is due to transmit on ITV and PBS Masterpiece next year.
alfie boe joins the cast of mr selfridge

With filming of Mr Selfridge 2 well underway, Boe will be joining the returning cast which includes Jeremy Piven, Katherine Kelly, Frances O’Connor and Amanda Abbington for one episode which will film at the end of July through to the beginning of August. The episode will be written by Kate Brooke and will air midway through series 2.

I’m a huge fan of Mr Selfridge and am thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of the series. I’m looking forward to seeing the set and meeting the cast,” said Alfie Boe, who has sold well over one million records in The UK, had three Top Ten albums and has just completed a sold-out UK Arena Tour.

Series two of Mr Selfridge picks up the action in 1914 as the store is celebrating its 5th anniversary of trading. As the series progresses war breaks out and Mrs Selfridge (Frances O’Connor) and Mr Crabb (Ron Cook) arrange a charity event at the store to raise money for soldiers on the front line.

Alfie Boe plays Richard Chapman, a tenor who used to be top of the bill at the Gaiety and is an old friend of Lady Mae Loxley (Katherine Kelly). Lady Mae asks Richard to sing at Selfridge’s charity concert and he’s happy to oblige. As Mae says herself, Richard has the voice and heart of an angel. Richard comes back into her life at a time when she needs him most, offering her warm comfort and worldly wisdom.

Kate Lewis, executive producer for ITV Studios said: “As soon as we introduced the character of Richard Chapman we knew Alfie Boe would be the perfect person to play him. We were delighted when he accepted the role and we’re looking forward to welcoming him on set.

Let’s see….Downton Abbey 4, Sherlock 3, Bletchley Circle 2, Call the Midwife 3 and, now, Mr. Selfridge 2. Time to get a DVR with more storage….

Daisy Lewis set to join ‘Downton Abbey’ for series 4

July 17, 2013

As confirmed by the Radio Times, Daisy Lewis is set to join the cast of hit ITV period drama for the upcoming series 4, currently being filmed in the UK for transmission this Autumn in the UK and beginning January 5, 2014 on PBS in the States.
Daisy Lewis, The Lady Vanishes, joins cast of Downton Abbey

Lewis is one of a host of new characters joining the show, including Paul Giamatti as Lady Cora’s playboy brother, opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa as a house guest, former EastEnder Nigel Harman as a visiting valet and Death In Paradise star Gary Carr as a jazz singer (and speculated love interest for Lady Rose, the rebellious great-niece of the Dowager Countess, Violet Crawley) when the series returns for eight episodes and a Christmas special later this year.
Gary Carr in Downton Abbey 4

The British actress, know for her roles in Doctor Who, Inspector Lewis, the British situation comedy, After You’ve Gone, and the upcoming PBS Masterpiece adaptation of The Lady Vanishes, will star in the fourth series of the world’s most favorite period drama series.

Rumor is she will play the Crawley’s live-in nanny who’ll look after baby Sybil as well as Mary’s new arrival. But her plot lines won’t be confined to the nursery. OF course not, that’s why they call it a DRAMA. Apparently Lewis is set to becoming the first lady to warm Branson’s broken heart since his wife, Lady Sybil, died in childbirth (sorry if you haven’t seen series 3 yet and this spoiled it for you).

Branson, who is played by Alan Leech, started off as the Crawley’s chauffeur before falling for and marrying the family’s youngest sister Sybil. He toyed with a new romance in the 2012 Christmas special when new maid Edna took a liking to him before deciding that he wasn’t ready to move on.

While Lewis is being ‘added’ to the cast, it will be somewhat of an ‘old-home week’ feeling for Lewis when she joins the cast as she worked with several Downton mainstays in her first feature film, From Time to Time. The 2009 film British adventure film was directed by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes and starred Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville.

Sherlock the newest Star in a Reasonably Priced Car on Top Gear

July 16, 2013

Unfortunately, no earth-shattering revelations as to how Sherlock Holmes survives that leap from the rooftop of St Barts at the end of series 2 of Sherlock but this is 10-minutes filled with amazingly fun bits of trivia for both the serious and casual (is there such a thing?) Benedict Cumberbatch fan. First up was that priceless bit of information about his mom, Wanda Ventham, and the accompanying photo. His mom played Colonel Virginia Lake in the cult 1970′s science fiction television series UFO. Aside from being in several episodes of The Saint, Doctor Who and Coupling, where she played Susan’s mother, Ventham is also known for her recurring role as Pamela Parry (Cassandra’s mother) in the sitcom Only Fools and Horses from 1989 to 1992.
Benedict Cumberbatch's mother, Wanda Ventham in UFO

After learning that Benedict’s first car was a Mini and that he once had an unfortunate incident in it with a rock, we get to see him teach Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson how to take a ‘Hollywood-Fu’ punch before taking his lap in the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segment. Just how did the Sherlock star stack up against other Star Trek baddies that have been on the show? Let’s take a look….

Martin Freeman waves goodbye to Middle-earth

July 15, 2013

If you happened to have been trolling around the Internets this past weekend and came across Peter Jackson’s Facebook page, you would have been one of the first ones to know, outside of those involved in the production of course, that principle filming has, as long last, concluded on Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy. For Martin Freeman (Sherlock, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy), who stars as Bilbo Baggins, it’s been a long 2.5 years in Middle-earth. In a photo that Jackson posted on his Facebook page, it’s no wonder Freeman had a big smile on his face as he walked off the set for the last time in Baggins’ feet.
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins waves goodbye to Middle Earth

Not only did Jackson post a classic photo, the Hobbit director took time out to pay tribute to Freeman on his final day on set by saying, “The end of an incredible two and a half years. I cannot imagine anyone else in this role, a character that Martin has nurtured and crafted with love and great skill.

If that wasn’t enough, Jackson then had a unintentional gift of greatness to Sherlock and Benedict Cumberbatch fans worldwide as Smaug stopped by to say his goodbyes to Middle-earth with this awesome pic with the caption, ‘Smaug admires Bilbo’s feet’. Why am I so jazzed about the fact that both Freeman and Cumberbatch are leaving Middle-earth after 2 and 1/2 years? Obviously, that means only one thing. It’s time to begin filming the final episode of the next series of Sherlock, of course. According to reports, Sherlock filming resumes in August.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug admires Bilbo's feet

As if Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans need a reminder, Jackson’s trilogy began with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which was released late last year. The next installment, The Desolation of Smaug, is set to debut on December 13 of this year and followed by There and Back Again on December 19, 2014.

Will the BBC’s House of Eliott get a 1940-50′s makeover?

July 14, 2013

When Jean Marsh and Dame Eileen Atkins revived the classic 70′s series Upstairs, Downstairs for the BBC back in 2011, unfortunately, it failed to survive partly due to the inevitable comparisons that both viewers and critics made with their rival costume drama Downton Abbey. Sadly, and a bit unfairly, it was given the boot after two series and only nine episodes.
Upstairs Downstairs

Armed with the understanding of Einstein’s definition of insanity, that of ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’, and determined to avoid the possibility of lightning striking twice in the same place, Marsh, who co-created Upstairs, Downstairs, is working on a new version of The House of Eliott, the BBC drama from the 90′s about two sisters who set up their own haute couture fashion house in the Twenties.
House of Eliott

This time, however, according to Marsh, she will make sure that the drama is set in a different period to Downton Abbey. Speaking at a reception at the English Speaking Union in Mayfair, Marsh said, “I want to bring House of Eliott back. We would like to set it in the 40′s and 50′s rather than the 1920′s. That way we would be a couple of decades ahead of Downton and wouldn’t have to worry about comparisons. Everyone always compares period dramas.

Dame Eileen Atkins echoed Marsh’s sentiments recently saying, “I happen to think that The House of Eliott would be far more relevant today as it is about a fashion house and it is that world which people still find very interesting today. I see a much greater potential there for success and hope others will agree.

They should know. Like Upstairs Downstairs, Marsh and Atkins created and wrote both the original House of Eliott along with the original Upstairs Downstairs and the remake some 40 years later. My money is on the new House of Eliott getting a successful makeover. You?