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In Brie we trust; in life and in new animated Netflix series BoJack Horseman, Alison Brie knows our secrets

- August 22nd, 2014

Diane (left, voiced by Alison Brie) and Bojack (right, voiced by Will Arnett)

Sometimes people just tell you things, no matter how animated you are.

And therein lies the one trait Alison Brie has in common with her character in the new animated series BoJack Horseman, which is available Friday, Aug. 22 on Netflix. Brie’s character Diane Nguyen (above left) is a ghost writer, hired to pen the memoirs of lead character BoJack (above right), voiced by Will Arnett.

“If there’s any resemblance, it’s that there’s something about Diane that even when BoJack is avoiding any writing of the book, she sort of gets BoJack to open up,” Brie said. “And that I can relate to, because people always are telling me their secrets. They confide in me. I seem very trustworthy.”

Brie paused just long enough to make it funny, before adding, “I seem.”

You’ll recognize Brie’s face primarily for her roles as Annie Edison on Community (cast pic below with Brie at far right) and Trudy Campbell on Mad Men. But she has done voice work as well, including the recent Lego Movie, in which she co-starred with Arnett, coincidentally.

BoJack Horseman centres around BoJack, who literally is a horse. The series exists in a universe where animals talk and interact with humans. For example, all the employees at Penguin Publishing are, well, penguins.

Anyway, BoJack was the star of a corny 1990s family sitcom called Horsin’ Around. Presently, trying to plot a comeback, BoJack has been contracted to write his autobiography, but he isn’t exactly a nose-to-the-trough kind of horse. That’s where Diane enters the fray.

“Diane quickly assimilates to that group (which includes BoJack’s roommate Todd Chavez, voiced by Aaron Paul, and his agent Princess Carolyn, voiced by Amy Sedaris),” Brie said. “And because Diane dates Mr. Peanut Butter (a canine rival of  BoJack’s, voiced by Paul F. Tompkins), and Mr. Peanut Butter seems to always make himself a part of BoJack’s life – to BoJack’s chagrin – that makes Diane part of the family as well.”

What I want to know is, what is a serious girl like Diane doing with an upbeat airhead such as Mr. Peanut Butter?

“Well, you know, it is an interesting question,” Brie said. “I have to just assume that Diane wants to take a break from herself. Diane is a very serious person and she has such a dry sense of humour. She always needs to be the smartest person in the room, and I think with Mr. Peanut Butter, that’s very easy.”

Diane may be Brie’s primary character in BoJack Horseman, but if you listen closely, you’ll hear Brie popping up in other places as well.

“Every time I come in there’s a different thing, ‘Oh, yeah, also today, you’re going to be reading cow waitress,’ ” Brie said with a laugh. “That’s one of my favourites, one of my proudest roles.”

Brie said BoJack Horseman came along at the right time, with the upcoming final seven episodes of Mad Men already having been shot, and with Community in between seasons. Community, which has more lives than a cat, recently was picked up for a sixth season by Yahoo! Screen. You know, Community may end up being the longest-running show in TV history before it’s done.

“I would believe it,” Brie said. “Except now it’s on the internet, does that count? I guess it does, since we’re here right now talking about a show on Netflix.

“This did fit in very nicely. And they’ve been wonderful about working around our schedules, which is why we’ve been able to draw such an incredible cast. It’s a smaller time commitment, and it’s a little more flexible.”

Speaking of time flexibility, does Brie think Diane ever is going to get BoJack’s book written? And if so, will Diane get her name on it?

“I doubt it – she’s a ghost writer, after all,” Brie said. “But in any case, I don’t think she wants her name on this book.”

People may confide in Alison Brie, but BoJack Horseman is not a secret she has to keep.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

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Steven Spielberg bringing ‘Minority Report’ to television

- August 21st, 2014

Steven Spielberg has dug his own butt groove in TV’s couch and he’s not getting up anytime soon.

After the success (semi-success?) of his science fiction show starring Halle Berry, Extant, Spielberg is on the look out for his next project. If reports are true, he’s apparently already found it in the popular 2002 Tom cruise action flick, Minority Report.

Spielberg has allegedly joined forces with Godzilla writer Max Borenstein to write the television adaptation, The Wrap reported Thursday.

Although representatives for both parties refused to confirm or deny their ties to the show, it appears plot details have already begun to leak.

The weekly drama will focus on the “elite PreCrime unit,” the same task force Cruise was a part of in the original film.

The big question is who Spielberg will tap to play Chief John Anderton, a position previously held by the aforementioned Cruise.

Fans may be hoping Cruise will sign on board Spielberg’s next pet project, and while it’s highly unlikely, this is the man that managed to bring Halle Berry  to CBS.

There’s currently no estimated release date for the series.

Margaret Atwood wonders how HBO will adapt wagging blue penises

- August 20th, 2014
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Canadian author Margaret Atwood at her Toronto home (Fred Thornhill/Reuters).

When beloved Canadian author and one-time Sun guest columnist Margaret Atwood sat down with Vulture to discuss HBO’s upcoming adaptation of her Oryx and Crake trilogy, she tackled such high-brow literary topics as Godzilla cosplay and the mechanics of getting blue penises to wag on television.

Atwood’s speculative fiction series features bio-engineered humans called Crakers, who are  simple-minded, orgy-loving nudists who purr and get bright blue erections that wag like puppy-dog tails. Asked how HBO, no stranger to nudity but not big on the male genitalia, would adapt the Crakers, Atwood admitted: “I’ve not got any inside information on that.”

But being a speculative fiction writer, she speculated.

“Well, that will be easy to simulate. Perhaps with little motors? We’ll see how far they’re willing to go, and how much people are willing to put up with it.”

She also discussed the potential for, God help us, Craker cosplay.

“It would require quite a bit of chutzpah to do that! Are they going to use shrubs? Nude behind the shrub, and just let the top half stick out? Are they going to go Adam with the fig leaf? How daring will they be?”

HBO’s MaddAddam is being developed by Black Swan‘s Darren Aronofsky.

 

 

 

 

Liar, liar, lab’s on fire; Could Marley Shelton of The Lottery be preparing for politics?

- August 17th, 2014

Marley Shelton, episodic one, The Lottery

Marley Shelton’s character lamented in a recent episode of The Lottery that she actually had to go on national TV and lie.

Um … clearly Dr. Alison Lennon, played by Shelton, has never heard of politics. Isn’t it more newsworthy when someone isn’t lying on national TV?

But we’ll cut Alison some slack, because she’s a scientist and a medical researcher, not a politician, and she understandably doesn’t want to give people false hope. The Lottery – which airs Sundays on Lifetime – is set in 2025, and the human race has not produced a baby since 2019, when only six of them were born.

“For me it’s so tangible, because (in real life) I have a four-year-old and a two-year-old, and they’re still in that phase where they’re very dependent on their mother and we are really tight,” Shelton said. “Having that incredibly intense bond is so instinctual. The drive to populate and keep the human race going forward, it’s just so in us. It’s in our DNA.

“To be in a society that’s stripped of that, and with the implications of that, there is so much hopelessness and despair. More than anything, there’s the moral ambiguity. What are you living for if there’s no future?”

Well, if that were the case, some of us would be partying like it’s 2099. But Dr. Alison Lennon is not like that, thankfully for humankind. In the early episodes of The Lottery, Alison had a major breakthrough by somehow finding a way to fertilize 100 human eggs. But she immediately was booted from her own research by government operatives with questionable motives.

As the story progressed, circumstances brought Alison back to the job, but with conditions and side deals at play. Hence her reassuring but fake performance on national TV, encouraging healthy women to register for the lottery that will determine the birth mothers for the fertilized eggs. As she spoke, Alison had no real idea why the fertilization of those 100 eggs was successful, and she didn’t know if she’d ever be able to repeat the process. When she said a cure was close, she didn’t know for sure.

“What’s interesting about Allison is that she was adopted, she was an orphan,” Shelton said. “This drive to solve this particular issue comes from basically being abandoned at conception. It really is in her to devote her entire life to solving the fertility crisis, trying to right the wrong, maybe on a subconscious level.

“She has intimacy issues. We saw even in the first episode, when she was trying to collect sperm (by having sex with a stranger who allegedly had decent prospects for fertilization), that was like a laboratory experiment for her, really clinical. It was not about sex or even about wanting to impregnate herself. It was about figuring out how to solve this crisis.

“And then after the breakthrough, she had that mother-bear instinct, like, ‘Give me my embryos back!’ ”

The Lottery films in Montreal, and Shelton said there were some funny moments due to the challenges of depicting an essentially childless world.

“We were shooting a scene where the President (played by Yul Vazquez) is giving a press conference in a park,” Shelton recalled. “Then while I was giving my speech to the press, a school bus drove by behind us, and we had to cut, because it was a real school bus filled with children.

“It’s tricky when you start to think about what would be gone, the subtle things.”

Subtle or not-so-subtle, The Lottery certainly deals with heavy issues. Shelton took a lighter view, though, when asked what her frame of mind would be if she personally were living in a world that stopped having children.

“Let’s see, I would be an actor, presumably,” Shelton said with a laugh. “So I’d probably be too worried about getting my next job to worry about a world crisis.”

Either way, don’t be surprised if we see Marley Shelton running for elected office someday. After all, through her character in The Lottery, she already knows how to lie convincingly on national TV. That’s pretty much half the battle right there.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Watch: ‘Better Call Saul’ teaser

- August 11th, 2014

The first glimpse of Better Call Saul is a fleeting one.

Blink your eyes a couple of times and you’ll miss it.

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But the nine-second teaser for AMC’s Breaking Bad spinoff, starring Walter White’s lawyer Saul Goodman (then known as Jimmy McGill) is all we’ve got for the time being.

In the short clip, which debuted last night during a Breaking Bad marathon, a younger- looking Goodman is telling a prospective client about the importance of having a lawyer.

“Lawyers: we’re like health insurance,” Goodman explains. “You hope you never need it, but man oh man, not having it? No, phew.”

Better Call Saul, starring Bob Odenkirk, is set to debut in February 2015. It is a prequel to AMC’s ratings juggernaut Breaking Bad, featuring Goodman as the crooked lawyer for chemistry teacher-turned meth maker White.

Executive producer Vince Gilligan says the prequel will initially be set in 2002, but will jump around in time.

Have a look here: