JJ Abrams

In Praise of ‘Fringe’s’ Walter Bishop

J.J. Abrams’ addicting, intriguing, and occasionally maddening sci-fi epic Fringe comes to a conclusion tonight, and along with it the story of the show’s most complicated character, mad scientist Walter Bishop. Portrayed with humor and empathy by the brilliant John Noble, Walter has always been the show’s emotional and intellectual centerpiece. Between nearly destroying another universe, spending almost 20 years in a mental hospital, and facing down his own evil alter ego, Walter’s been through more in five seasons than most Harvard-educated geniuses go through in a lifetime. Read on for the on-screen highlights of Walter’s illustrious tenure that earned his show one of primetime television’s most devoted cult followings. … Read More

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The Morning’s Top 5 Pop Culture Stories

1. If you haven’t seen it yet, this video of The SimpsonsMontgomery Burns endorsing Mitt Romney — because his dog Shamus prefers “Meat” Romney over “Broccoli” Obama — is pretty hilarious. [via LAT]

2. Colin Firth and Michael Fassbender playing Thomas Wolfe and his legendary editor Max Perkins in a film adaption… Read More

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Accomplished Filmmakers Who Also Work in Television

Geek god Joss Whedon’s day has come. He’s trading TV slayage and vampires, for filmic mayhem with his horror writing endeavor The Cabin in the Woods, which hits theaters this Friday — the 13th, for added spooky cred. It’s a spoof of sorts on the horror genre, but not in the vein of goofy films like Scary Movie. Think Whedon’s clever brand of humor set in a remote cabin where friends gather for a getaway. The movie also has its share of scares — and hey, Ebert liked it, so that’s something. (Beware of spoilers.)

Whedon’s witticisms have always wooed us, and thanks to an early career as a television writer (Roseanne and Parenthood being his inaugural projects), the filmmaker was able to smoothly segue into a movie career — first with Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 1992 and Toy Story in 1995 — both writing credits. From there, Whedon would flip back and forth from TV and film directing/writing/producing, bringing us gems like Firefly and Serenity, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along, the beloved Buffy television series, and most recently the highly anticipated Avengers movie — which hits theaters on May 4.

What other filmmakers have danced between TV and cinema, and vice versa? We look at a few multitasking creatives past the break. With increases in technology and more elaborate production values on display, TV no longer feels like a nasty two-letter word filmmakers see as beneath them. More and more accomplished moviemakers are spending time on the small screen, and many got their start there like Whedon. Check out our list below, and share any TV/film geniuses we missed in the comments. … Read More

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The Morning’s Top 5 Pop Culture Stories

1. Beyoncé and Jay-Z welcomed a baby girl into the world on Saturday at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City; apparently Blue Ivy Carter’s parents paid a reported $1.3 million to make sure that their newborn had the entire floor to herself. [via NYDN]

2. Here’s your obligatory Party Down movie update:… Read More

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The Morning’s Top 5 Pop Culture Stories

1. Ladies and gentlemen, this just might be the funniest My Little Pony-related correction that The New York Times has ever issued. [via The Daily What]

2. Hot British actor of the moment Benedict Cumberbatch (who you might recognize from recent roles in War Horse or the BBC’s Sherlock) has come… Read More

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Other Movies Referenced in Critics' Reviews of 'Super 8'

It’s no secret that J.J. Abrams’ new film Super 8 is a lover letter to its producer Steven Spielberg that also pays homage to the art of filmmaking in general — especially the kind that dominated the landscape as its director was coming of age. As such, many of the reviews for the film, which is currently at a 83% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, read like the rental queue of a dude in his 30s who’s going through a nostalgic phase. Only one that we’ve read so far (Andrew O’Hehir at Salon) has managed to avoid mentioning E.T. directly, and even he alludes to “some darker-hued borrowing from Spielberg’s biggest hit.” Curious as to what other films you’ll be seeing references to when you check out Super 8 this weekend? Click through for our critical roundup. … Read More

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J.J. Abrams’ New Super 8 Trailer Will Transport You Back to Childhood

We’ve already seen plenty of teasers, but now the first official full-length trailer for J.J. Abrams’ Steven Spielberg-homage Super 8 has hit the web, and without revealing any plot spoilers (like what’s inside of that container!), we’re finally getting a little context for a project that has been cloaked with mystery since it was announced. There are plenty of things to be excited about here: namely, the fact that our favorite Fanning (Elle!) and Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) are in the cast; the fact that this looks more like an adventure tale than a horror flick; the fact that there are lens flare-enhanced action sequences; the fact that we feel like we’re watching one of the classic ’80s films we grew up on. What remains to be seen is whether Abrams has taken the Spielberg love a little too far — which for certain people, will be a non-issue. Either way, from where we’re sitting, this looks to be the biggest film of the summer. Yep, we went there. Click through and let us know what you think in the comments. … Read More

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The Morning’s Top 5 Pop Culture Stories

1. AOL has announced that it plans to buy the Huffington Post for $315 million. Arianna Huffington will become editor in chief of all of AOL’s content sites, including TechCrunch and Engadget. According to Arianna’s memo to site contributors, nothing will be different except “more people reading what you wrote.” [via The Atlantic]… Read More

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The Morning’s Top 5 Pop Culture Stories

1. Interesting fact: only 13 percent of Wikipedia’s contributors are women, reports the New York Times. The Wikimedia Foundation vows to increase the number of women contributors to 24 percent by 2015.

2. After taking home top honors at last night’s SAG Awards, The King’s Speech is now considered the front-runner for Best… Read More

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