Lifetime Orders Witches of East End to Series

TV Guide is reporting that Lifetime has ordered ten episodes of a series based on Melissa de la Cruz’s novel Witches of East End, the first in her Beauchamp Family series. From de la Cruz’s site:

It’s the beginning of summer in North Hampton, and beautiful Freya Beauchamp is celebrating her engagement to wealthy Bran Gardiner, the heir to Fair Haven and Gardiners Island. But Freya is drawn to Bran’s gorgeous but unreliable brother Killian, and sparks fly when the two decide to play a dangerous game, following an ancient story of love, betrayal and tragedy that harks back to the days of Valhalla.

Witches of East End follows the Beauchamp family—the formidable matriarch Joanna and her daughters Freya and Ingrid. Freya, a sexy bartender, has a potion to cure every kind of heartache, while Ingrid, the local librarian, solves complicated domestic problems with her ability to tie magical knots. Joanna is the witch to see when modern medicine has no more answers; her powers can wake the dead. Everything seems to be going smoothly until a young girl, Molly Lancaster, goes missing after taking one of Freya’s irresistible cocktails. As more of the town’s residents begin disappearing, everyone seems to have the same suspects in mind: the Beauchamp women.

Of course, how closely the show will follow that description of the book remains to be seen. It is set to star Julia Ormond, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Rachel Boston, and Mädchen Amick.

Book Review: I Suck at Girls

FOX just picked up a pilot based on this memoir by Justin Halpern, whom you may remember from Shit My Dad Says. Honestly, that precedent led me to surmise that this book/show would probably not be my thing, and I was correct. (I should say, though, that Bill Lawrence is executive producing with Halpern, and I adore Cougar Town.) I’ll still give the show a try, of course – I try virtually all new scripted shows – but if it’s anything like the book, I can’t imagine that it will be a new favorite.

The framing device of I Suck at Girls is a lunch at which Halpern tells his father that he’s planning to propose, hoping for his father’s approval. His father advises him to sit down and think about all of his interactions with women throughout his life, basically, and then decide whether proposing still seems like the correct thing to do. (I’m not convinced that that’s the most useful thing for Halpern to be examining in that moment, but we’ll go with it.) The book, then, takes the form of loosely connected essays; each chapter tells of a formative experience regarding Halpern and women, in roughly chronological order, from his first elementary school crush through the beginning of his relationship with his current girlfriend.

The concept isn’t bad, but I had issues with the execution. I was completely unable to warm up to the main character right from the beginning, when he explained that if his girlfriend hadn’t broken up with him and therefore prompted him to move home and start the Twitter account that catapulted him to fame, he’d be homeless – because god forbid he get a boring day job like a normal person, I guess? I’m all for flawed characters, but throughout the book, the main character’s decision-making seemed so willfully poor and his attitude toward women (and people in general) so profoundly clueless that I had a really hard time rooting for him. And I know that Halpern’s portrayal of his father is what he’s known for, but that character seemed so ludicrously extreme and vulgar that I couldn’t picture him as a real person, never mind a successful physician.

How well will this book lend itself to the sitcom format? At first, I thought that the loosely connected essays would be perfect for the episodic, semi-serialized form, but there are issues there. First, because it takes place over the character’s whole life thus far, there’d be the issue of the age of the characters, the recent-historical settings, etc. And Justin and his father (and some other peripheral family members) are the only characters who appear in more than one or two of the chapters. So the format will have to change; I’m assuming that the sitcom will be set in the present day with frequent flashbacks, though I don’t know that for sure.

(Note: I’ve referred to the “characters,” though yes, I know this is a memoir – but it’s intended to be humorous and all memoirs are fictionalized to some extent, so when I say I don’t like the Halpern in this book, I want to be clear that I’m not saying that I don’t like the real Halpern as a person, as I don’t know him and wouldn’t want to pass that kind of judgment.)

The Fault in Our Stars Should Begin Filming by End of Summer

MTV’s Hollywood Crush talked to producers Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey at a press event for their upcoming film Safe Haven and also asked them some questions about their adaptation of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber. Bowen called it “one of the best screenplays [he’d] ever read.” One piece of good news right off the bat? They’re planning to start filming by the end of summer, if everything goes according to plan. They’re finding a director soon and then working on casting:

“Every actress I talk to is interested,” Wyck added about the story’s buzz and appeal. “And then we’re probably going to choose the director in the next two weeks. We actually are in the process of those meetings, and I’m really excited about our choices.”

And fans shouldn’t fear, because Green is definitely involved:

“He’s very involved. He’s read every draft. We talk to him all the time,” Marty said. “He loves the script, feels that we’ve captured everything that we could have hoped to capture in the book, so I think fans will be really happy with it.”

There are a few other tidbits as well, so Nerdfighters should make sure they read the whole thing!

News Briefs: Under the Dome, Pure, Inherent Vice & More

  • Joaquin Phoenix and Paul Thomas Anderson are collaborating again on a movie adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel Inherent Vice.
  • Britt Robertson has been cast in Under the Dome.
  • David Seidler and Gareth Unwin The King’s Speech are working on an adaptation of Kristen Ellis’s biography of Lady Hester Stanhope, Star of the Morning.
  • Argo took the top movie award at the Producers Guild Awards.
  • James Ponsoldt is writing and directing an adaptation of Julianna Baggott’s Pure.
  • Silver Linings Playbook won big at the AACTA International Awards.

Read the Article That Inspired Argo

Want to do some quick Oscar prep but don’t have time to read a whole book? You’re in luck – Argo was inspired and significantly based on an article by Joshuah Bearman in Wired magazine: “How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans From Tehran,” and it’s right there online for you to read for free. I thoroughly recommend it; even though I’ve seen the movie and obviously knew the ending, the article was still suspenseful and gave me chills. It’s a great piece of magazine writing. It’s also interesting to note some details that were changed – presumably in the name of narrative cohesion and ease of production – and, since a three-page article obviously doesn’t have content to fill an entire movie, the things that were added. I assume that some of the additions were based on other research and Antonio Mendez’s own writings, and some based on artistic license. But the framework of the movie is vivid and intact in the article, and it’s definitely worth your time.

Justified: The Bird Has Flown

Last night’s “The Bird Has Flown” was a bit of a slow episode of Justified. Just when I was really buying into the ongoing mystery format . . . they leave it out entirely for an episode. And there wasn’t exactly a case of the week, either.

Instead, the case of the week basically took place within Raylan’s personal life, as he tried to track down Lindsey and Randall. His motives here were never quite clear, even to himself: Was he trying to get his money back, or was he trying to “save” Lindsey? Probably both, to some extent. He and Rachel eventually track the couple down – I don’t think we ever really doubted that they would – but not before Randall has spent Raylan’s money on fighting gamecocks and almost killed a gas station clerk who showed interest in Lindsey while being conned. (Wouldn’t you think by now he would learn that he’d get caught less if he changed his con to something that didn’t result in people going to the hospital? Be more competent, criminals!) When Randall and Raylan finally fight, it’s different than most of the fights on this show because Raylan can’t just shoot and kill people: Rachel gives him a shotgun loaded with beanbag ammunition. “An associate of mine thought non-lethal force might come in handy. I figured what the hell, I’ll give it a shot.” Ha. By the end, Lindsey has run off and Randall is under arrest, and honestly, I never bought into the relationship between Raylan and Lindsey enough to really care about this plotline, so I’ll be happy enough if this is the end of it.

Elsewhere, Boyd Crowder continues being the most terrifying man on the planet in the wake of Billy the preacher’s death. I’d sort of forgotten last week that a large part of the reason why Boyd wanted Billy dead was not just because of the way his preaching was eroding the drug business, but because Boyd and Ava were worried Ellen May would tell Billy about the murder she witnessed. This week, Ellen May returns and makes a fairly heartbreaking case for the fact that as awful as her life at Ava’s brothel undoubtedly was in many ways, it was also basically all she had, and people form makeshift families wherever they can. “I just want to come home. Can I come home, please?” They sort of say yes, but then make plans to send her to Boyd’s relatives in Alabama to get her out of the way; Ava tries to convince Ellen May that this could be good, that it’s the chance to get out of Harlan County that she herself never had, and I don’t think she’s entirely lying. But while Colt is driving Ellen May to the bus station, he gets a call that he claims is from Ava, telling him to bring Ellen May home after all. The call was actually instructing him to murder the woman, though it’s a little unclear whether it was simply confirmation or a new instruction. And even if Ava technically made the call, she’s clearly less than thrilled about it; this is Boyd’s decision, but Ava seems to understand that it’s necessary. When Colt stops at a gas station to fiddle with his gun and do some drugs to shore up his courage, Ellen May runs. Good girl. I have a feeling she won’t be able to run from Boyd for long, but I hope she makes it.

Sundance Roundup: The Spectacular Now

The Spectacular Now, based on the novel by Tim Tharp, has been getting a lot of buzz out of Sundance; Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller won the Special Jury Award for Acting, U.S. Dramatic and A24 bought North American rights, so let’s hope it makes it to our screens soon. If you’re curious, here are some reviews from Film.com, HitFix, Entertainment Weekly, and The Hollywood Reporter.

Here’s a video interview from Dan Fienberg at HitFix with director James Ponsoldt and co-star Brie Larson, and one with them as well as Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller at The Hollywood Reporter:

NBC Orders Alice in Wonderland Pilot

According to The Hollywood Reporter, NBC has ordered an Alice of Wonderland sequel of sorts from CSI creator Anthony Zuiker. Whit Anderson is writing the pilot. The concept:

Taking place seven years ago, when Clara’s life took an unexplained turn for the worse. A mysterious stranger tells her there may be an explanation after all… an explanation that lies in the fantastical world of Wonderland. Determined to revive her dreams and get her life back on track, Clara agrees to wage war against the reigning but malevolent Queen, the woman we once knew as Alice.

Diablo Cody Talks Sweet Valley High

Personally, I was always more of a Baby-sitters’ Club girl, but I’m still excited about Diablo Cody’s forthcoming Sweet Valley High movie. In an interview with ETonline, Cody confirms that the movie will indeed be set in the 1980s and that they’re still looking for the perfect Elizabeth and Jessica – or maybe one actress to play both twins. She also talks about what attracted her to the project:

It’s about the polarity of the good girl versus the bad girl, which is something I played with a bit in Jennifer’s Body. I’m just fascinated by the way women are put into boxes in our culture. The Sweet Valley High books are about Jessica and Elizabeth, these identical twins; one is the perfect straight-A, ambitious good-goody and the other is this really selfish bitch who tends to have a lot more fun. In the books, they frequently switch places and adopt the other’s identity. I thought that was a fun idea — especially, like, in a big, fun, pop-y movie with songs that people can enjoy as hilarious eye candy on a superficial level or on a deeper level exploring some more of those themes.

Apparently the movie will be at least partially based on Dear Sister, in which Elizabeth is in a coma after an accident and acts like Jessica when she wakes up. Honestly, two Jessicas sounds like a bit much to me, but we’ll see!