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James Marsden Joins HBO’s ‘Westworld’

Pure Fluff:

This looks really good!

Originally posted on Variety:

James Marsden has been tapped to join HBO’s upcoming sci-fi pilot “Westworld.”

The one-hour drama is inspired by Michael Crichton’s 1973 Western thriller about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.

Marsden is set to play Teddy Flood, a mysterious new arrival to a small frontier town. Teddy quickly proves both his charm — and his talent with a revolver — while his pursuit of a local beauty launches him on a dark odyssey.

Eddie Rouse has also been cast for the role of Kissy, a laconic American-Indian who deals cards and contraband from the town saloon.

Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Rodrigo Santoro, Shannon Woodward, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Angela Sarafyan and Simon Quarterman will also star.

Jonathon Nolan is set to write and direct. Executive producers include J.J. Abrams, Jerry Weintraub and Bryan Burk.

Marsden can be seen in the upcoming Nicholas Sparks film “Best of Me” and “Business…

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Anthony Bourdain Breaks Down Cinema History for ‘Parts’

Pure Fluff:

Excellent article about Bourdain’s CNN series “Parts Unknown”.

Originally posted on Variety:

It’s been well over a decade since Anthony Bourdain, former executive chef of Manhattan’s Les Halles and author of bestselling memoir “Kitchen Confidential,” became a TV star. With his Travel Channel series “No Reservations” and “The Layover,” Food Network’s “A Cook’s Tour” and stints on “The Taste” — for which he’s Emmy-nominated for his hosting duties for a second year in a row — and “Top Chef,” Bourdain is an old pro at this point. But when Bourdain and his longtime crew moved over to CNN to kick off the multiple-Emmy nominee “Parts Unknown,” they faced one big problem: How do you make something new while working in a genre — nonfiction television — that relies on repeating the same general formula every week?

“It’s a limited story that we’re telling, ultimately,” Bourdain says. “On every episode, I go someplace, I eat a bunch of stuff, and I come back.”

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‘Big Brother’ Matches Season High on Night of Preemptions

Pure Fluff:

It might be boring to the NY Post but the rating seem solid.

Originally posted on Variety:

Despite preemptions or delays due to preseason football, CBS’ “Big Brother” matched its season high on Thursday, an atypical night saw lower ratings for the other firstrun shows on the Big Four.

The major networks all had lower national clearances as a result of the NFL exhibition games, with “Big Brother” seen in 96% of the country (including delays that pushed it past 11 p.m. in some markets), NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” in 95%, and the ABC’s “Rookie Blue” in just 91%.

NBC and ABC also preempted their lineups for about 12 minutes at around 9:30 p.m. ET as President Obama told the nation that the U.S. has authorized limited airstrikes in Iraq.

Looking at the “live plus same-day” national estimates released Friday afternoon by Nielsen, CBS followed repeats of “The Big Bang Theory” (2.1 rating/8 share in adults 18-49, 8.32 million viewers overall) and “Mom” (1.8/7 in 18-49, 6.75…

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The Quest Season 1 Episode 2, “Tournament for the Queen” – Recap and Analysis

meet.the_.queen_ sir.ansgar

Recap

After a bit of exposition and explanation, this week’s episode jumps into the competition.  The paladins are crudely awakened by a banging on their barrack doors.  Downstairs, Crio informs them that Queen Ralia XXIII demands their presence.  When before the queen, they are to politely bow and not speak unless spoken to by the queen.  She welcomes them and says that all of Everealm’s hopes rest on their shoulders.  The Grand Vizier tells her that their resources are slim but that their accommodations are suitable.  Sir Ansgard agrees.  Suddenly a wounded man bursts into the room and queen is rushed out of the chamber.  The dying man informs them that Verlox continues his approach and will reach Sanctum in a few days.

With a new sense of urgency Sir Ansgard leads the paladins to the equine training grounds.  They must train and compete while on horseback.  While riding on her horse, Leticia loses her portion of the Sun Spear.  Sir Ansgard retrieves it, but not before embarrassing her before the entire company, holding the piece before them asking who lost it. He lectures her to not disappoint him. The paladins are then lead into the training course to begin this week’s challenge.  Queen Ralia will watch the competition under an awning nearby.  It’s a military exercise.

680-16x9 ABC-The-Quest-season-1-episode-2 (1) JASMINE KYLE, PATRICK HIGGINS, LETICIA REYES, LINA CAROLLO, ANDREW FRAZER, ASHLEY GUERRERO

Challenge:  This week the paladins must compete individually.  While on horseback, they must complete the gauntlet comprised of several tasks laid out consecutively: Archery (three arrows with 150 points possible), spear throw (one at 55), jousting (15) and war hammer (15). At each station they must score as many points as possible.  The paladin scoring the most points will earn the badge of dexterity.  The bottom three will once again be subject to the whim of the Fates and must compete in an elimination competition.  The winner of this challenge will be safe for another week, while the other two will be up for a vote by their fellow paladins.  They will decide which of the two they will get behind.  The paladin with most support (votes) will remain for another week.  The loser will be banished from Everealm.

Jasmine is first up and she scores well with 91 points.  Ashely is up next.  She’s a horse trainer so more is expected of her.  Unfortunately, her archery and spearing skills are not equally strong.  She underwhelms with only 32 points.  She is greatly disappointed.  Leticia is nervous about being on a horse. She goes very slowly but racks up 83 points.  With her slothful pace, she might not do so well in an actual battle.

Jim is up next and fails miserably at archery and scores 35 points.  Most of the paladins are clumped together and seem safe for the week (although not exactly killing it): Adria 56, Patrick 86, Andrew 91 and Lina 80. Andrew goes before the queen and calls her “Milady” which is a faux pas.

Bonnie is up next and she has major trouble controlling her horse and flails through the gauntlet, scoring just 40 points.  Sir Ansgard tells her she must do better or she will “get killed”. Christian is up next and the expectations are high, but he fails again. He cannot control his horse and gets off to a terrible start, missing the target with all of his arrows.  He finishes at the bottom with 30 points, in spite of confidence bordering on arrogance and purported excellence in archery.  Shondo, the MMA fighter is up next and he crushes it with 183 points – the obvious winner.  He receives the Badge of Dexterity.

Results:  Jim, Ashley and Christian are the bottom three and must face the fates.  The Grand Vizier sneers, “Shame isn’t it, another one will be banished”.

Elimination Competition:  The Fates challenge involves blacksmithing.  They must mount five horseshoes onto a wheel; the first to finish will be safe.  They must take the hot horseshoes out of the fire.  Jim seems focused and completes the challenge first.

Final Vote:  Ashely and Christian are the bottom two for this week.  The paladins discuss the various merits of each.  Christian seems to have forged better relationships with his fellow paladins and squeaks by with a 5-4 victory, in spite of finishing at the bottom of the first two challenges.  For someone who claims expertise in the skills of Everealm, he has failed miserably.  With a wisp of smoke, Ashley is banished from Everealm.  Two women have now been eliminated.

Conclusion:

After the banishment, the paladins sit down for a meal in the courtyard of Sanctum. They are joined by the queen at a long banquet table.  She begins to regale them with tales from her childhood when the Grand Vizier arrives.  She orders wine for the table and toasts the paladins. After she sips her wine the queen grabs her throat, seemingly poisoned.  Confusion reigns and the episode comes to close.  Will the queen be saved?

Analysis

What will happen to the queen?  I enjoyed the cliffhanger for this episode, which gave viewers more of a taste of epic fantasy than a straight reality show.  It would appear that the paladins will be charged with saving their biggest ally, who has been poisoned.  If they cannot save her, what will happen to Everealm? Who is next in line?.  There are many unanswered questions for next week.  Each episode seems too short and I find myself Jonesing for more.

After two weeks, it is becoming clear who the toughest competitors are.  Jasmine surprised with her 90+ point performance, while most of the other competitors disappointed.  Shondo doubled the points of his nearest competitor and is clearly focused and talented.  That leads to this week’s power rankings…

1. Shondo – Cleary a beast in the individual challenges.  His performance evinced the polish and poise of a professional athlete.  He is going to be tough to beat.

2. Jasmine – Despite little experience in horseback riding or any of the skills in the gauntlet, she excelled with over 90 points.  She has a good attitude and when asked how she learned these skills she said “my imagination”.

3. Andrew – He’s done well in both challenges and seems a solid performer, although he has failed to break out of the pack.

4. Lina – She seems well balanced and scored in the upper half on this challenge.

5. Patrick – On the bottom in the first round, he did a passable job in this round, but failed to distinguish himself.  He seems to have some ability but has to apply it to the competition.

6. Bonnie – She won the badge of achievement in the first round and appears to have some skill, although she did poorly in this task.

7. Leticia – She seems a bit overwhelmed and lost her portion of the Sun Spear this week.  She rode the gauntlet very slowly and would be quickly slaughtered in battle.

8. Jim – Did horribly this week but rallied in the elimination challenge.  Hopefully he will be a stronger competitor going forward.  Perhaps Quidditch expertise is not sufficient preparation for The Quest.

9. Adria – She seems to be less skilled than the others.  She has yet to prove she belongs in the competition.

10. Christian – He has talked a great game but has been an utter failure in the competitions.  His Renaissance Fair experience has yet to translate into performance in Everealm. He does not react well in pressure situations.  If he finishes on the bottom again next week, he’s a goner.

For more information on the paladins click here.

BB16 – Is Zach really getting eliminated?

nicole_-_all_sausages

Although there has been a lot of discussion in the Big Brother house about Zach possibly going home, it seems unlikely to occur at this time.  In order for this to happen Victoria and least one of the Detonators would have to vote for Zach, causing a tie.  Then Nicole would cast the tie breaking vote.

Why would the Detonators get rid of one of their own?  If they vote as a block, Zach is safe, which is by far the most likely scenario.  There has been much chatter about Cody and Derrick flipping for this vote, but I don’t buy it.  Why would they get rid of their goofy but loyal alliance member?

Similarly, Christine has vowed to vote Zach out. Really?  If she really wanted him out she could used the Power of Veto (POV) on Jocasta and allowed Nicole to bring in Frankie or someone else to make sure Zach is a goner.  And what about Victoria?  Which side is she on?

In order for Zach to get voted out, Hayden, Donny, Victoria and one other person will have to vote for Zach.  Nicole, Jocasta and Zach cannot vote.  So, that leaves the Detonators + Caleb which is 5 votes.  If Christine follows through on her promise to vote Zach then it could potentially be a tie (depending upon the vote of the ultimate floater, Victoria).  So the planets would truly have to align for Zach to be voted out.  If they all stick to their alliances, then Jocasta goes home.  I don’t believe Derrick and Cody are ready to ditch the Detonators, they just want to play both sides.  So it seems pretty obvious, unless somebody breaks the alliance, that Jocasta will be going home tonight.

The best part about tonight, however, is the double elimination.  With Nicole having put up a detonator, expect her or Donny (another threat) to be on the block if one of the Detonators wins the second HoH tonight.  It should interesting at least – which is worth something in this otherwise uninspiring season.

Master Chef Season 5, Episode 10, Top 11 Compete aka “A Craft not an Art” – Recap and Analysis

Recap

This week begins with a Mystery Box Challenge.  They have two boxes before them, one containing household ingredients, the other more sophisticated upscale items.  The home cooks will have to choose which box of ingredients they would like to use to prepare their dish for the judges.  The lesser box contains things like ground beef, ham steak, ice berg lettuce, processed cheese dip, tilapia and other common items.  The elevated box includes Kobe beef, Berkshire pork chop, Ahi tuna, black truffles, stilton cheese and caviar. There isn’t a right or wrong box and they will only be judged on their cooking.

Mystery Box Challenge:  Teams will have one hour to prepare a savory dish with either the deluxe or pedestrian box.  Each chef has their own idea of what to cook and they are split between using the lesser and elevated ingredients.   This is the first time ever that home cooks have been given a choice in a Mystery Box.  The problem with the elevated box is that you will need to know to cook the more difficult to cook items such as Kobe which cooks quickly.  The lesser box will have to be transformed into something worthy of the judges.

With 20 minutes remaining the chefs are well into their preparation.  Courtney, Elizabeth, Francis and Leslie are using the elevated box.  Victoria and Daniel are using the common ingredients.  Joe grills Leslie over the lack of seasoning in his dish. Joe tells him there is no salt.  Francis is making a filet and tuna chessboard with blocks of Kobe beef and Ahi tuna.  The judges are excited about Victoria’s common box tilapia dish.  The judges make one final pass through the kitchen to select the top three dishes.

Elizabeth is the first to be called up to the front of the room.  She’s made pan roasted Berkshire pork chop with herbed biscuits and pea salad.  It’s a delicious blend of a mustard cream sauce and properly cooked pork.  It’s cooked through but not dry and crumbly.  The seasoning is perfect and Chef Elliot calls it the best dish she has prepared so far.  Joe agrees that it’s a great dish and that she is “one to watch”.

Victoria used the everyday items to make a Tilapia and Ham Steak (with Nacho Cheese Sauce) with Iceberg Lettuce Salad with bacon and pickle vinagrette and side of potato crisps.

Leslie has used the elevated basket to perfection. He has prepared a trio of Kobe Beef, Ahi Tuna and Berkshire Pork with Truffle Puree, Stilton and Pea Puree.  He was the only who “had the balls” to cook all three premium proteins, which has given him and edge.  Chef Ramsay tells him he’s cooked his best dish “at the perfect moment”.  Even Joe must admit it is seasoned perfectly.

Results:  Leslie gets the “game changing” win.  He will have two distinct advantages in the next round.  He is happy to finally win.  The other chefs, like Elizabeth are “terrified” as they have shown him so much disdain throughout the competition.

Leslie is taken into the pantry.  He will get to choose which stuffed pasta the rest of the cooks will have to prepare for their next challenge.  He can choose between Joe’s tortellini, Graham’s caramelle, which resembles a piece of wrapped candy, with the two twisted ends pointing out and Gordon’s Ravilacci.  Each has their challenges but Leslie chooses the caramelle.

Pressure Test: Joe’s sample is classic mozzarella stuffed caramelle with grated cheese and a light tomato sauce.  This is their target and standard upon which they will be judged.  Chefs will have 60 minutes in total and five minutes in the pantry to collect their items. Each will be given a pasta maker to use to prepare the caramelle from scratch.

But wait, Leslie gets one more advantage besides immunity from this challenge….he gets to pick one chef who will use an old fashioned rolling pin in lieu of the pasta maker.  After toying with a few contestants, he chooses Daniel, who is visibly upset.  It seems to rattle him and negatively affects his performance.  Leslie is ecstatic.

In the pantry, Cutter analyzes the ingredients and searches for the Gorgonzola cheese.  Scottish Francis makes the decision to “go bold” and color his pasta beet red to look like candy.  Daniel and Big Willie also try to go “outside the box” but they fall flat.  Joe wanted a traditional mozzarella filled pasta dish, not experimental gastronomy.

Judge Elliot stops by Big Willie who is making a dessert caramelle.  He tells Willie that it is “crazy town” what he is doing.  Joe stops by Daniel’s station and he says he “seems to be in pretty good shape” aside from his wine reduction.

Jaimee is making a traditional mozzarella stuffed dish, copying her father’s traditional Italian recipe.  The judges don’t know why Frances (Ramsay says his dish tasted awful) and others were taking unnecessary risks when the competition called for a straightforward Italian dish.  The standard is that is should be something the Joe could serve in one of his restaurants.

Daniel’s dish is a disaster.  Joe says it looks more like a steamed dumpling in a Chinese restaurant.  The pasta is too thick (never put red wine into pasta).  His biggest challenge was not the curveball thrown by Leslie but his own poor decisions.  He made this task more difficult than it needed to be.  Chef Ramsay calls it, “disgusting”.

Jaimee’s caramelle, made according to her father’s recipe, is delicious.  Joe loves it and would be happy to serve it in one of his restaurants.  He thanks her and says she brought him a “taste of Queens”.  She nailed it, following Joe’s directions precisely.

Scottish Francis presents his too out of the box dish.  It’s beet juice colored, short rib filled with a cauliflower puree.  Chef Elliot hates it.

Cutter is up next and he has made another great dish.  He is the only to have made his caramelle with a cream sauce.  Chef Ramsay says he “cooks like an angel” although he looks like a ruffian.

Courtney has made (according to Joe), caramelle filled with mozzarella with fresh tomato sauce. “A super sexy, simple dish”.

Big Willie is also goes too far out of the box with his dessert pasta.  Chef Ramsay is angry and unimpressed.  He says “it looks like regurgitated dog vomit”.  He calls him “Lazy Willie not Big Willie”.

Results:  The top two dishes were made by Courtney and Jaimee (winning dish).  The two Italian ladies will be the captains in the next episode’s team challenge.  Bottom three are Daniel, Francis and Willie.  Daniel and Big Willie are safe and Francis is eliminated.  Joe tells him “our business is a craft not an art”.  Francis is sad to leave on the cusp of the Top 10.  He wants to harness his experience and continue on his culinary path.

Analysis

It was a bit shocking to see Scottish Francis turn in his apron.  He seemed to be one of the more interesting and talented performers.  But he hasn’t done much in recent weeks and his dish failed on every level – appearance, taste and staying true to Joe’s challenge.  So it makes sense that he would be sent packing.  That aside, I’m sorry to see him go because he always provided a spark and willingness to look at this differently and take risks.  Good Luck Scottish Francis!

The good news is that fan favorite Big Willie survived.  But for how long?  He seems to seem to suffer the same affliction as Francis, the desire to go too far beyond the guidelines of the given task.  When Joe Bastianich tells you to make a mozzarella filled caramelle with a red sauce, you have to work within certain parameters.  You cannot entirely ignore the call of the question.  It’s clear the winners, the two Italian women, knew exactly how to prepare the dish Joe craved.  Cutter, continuing his resurgence, mixed it up a little bit by making a vodka cream white sauce, for which he was commended.  There’s a difference between creativity and foolhardy over exuberance.

The competition is now down to its final 10 home cooks.  It’s starting to heat up as the remaining chefs are all pretty strong with many of the weaker competitors sent home.  Scottish Francis was unquestionably the best cook so far to be eliminated.  For a time, he looked like he could win this competition.  If he played it safe this week and just knocked out a solid pasta dish, he’s be moving on and could threaten to take the Master Chef crown.  However, in trying to shoot the moon, he shot himself in the foot.

First Tier – Likely Final 4

1. Courtney – She roared back to life this week and crushed the pasta dish.   To be sure, she probably made this hundreds times in her Italian household but she delivered.  She will choose and lead one team in next week’s team challenge.

2. Elizabeth – She did well in the mystery box challenge, almost winning it again.

3. Ahran – She was not the focus of this week’s episode, so nothing positive or negative.

4. Leslie – He rebounded after a tough week to win the Mystery Box Challenge and avoided his first Elimination Challenge in a while.

The Second Tier – Middle of the Pack

5. Jaimee – She crushed the pasta dish and won the Elimination Challenge.  She will choose and lead one team in next week’s group challenge.  Her culinary range is still in question, but she is hanging tough.

6. Cutter – He had another strong week and even garnered praise from Chef Ramsay.  Is he really the comeback kid or are we going to witness a return of clumsy, clueless Cutter?

7. Victoria – She was in the top three of the Mystery Box challenge and continues to compete.

8. Christian – Not much from him this week, but a past challenge winner who can cook.

Third Tier – Most in Danger of Elimination

9. Daniel – He hit the skids this week after Leslie threw down the hand roller in exchange for his pasta maker.  He seemed rattled and made poor decisions almost leading to his dismissal from the competition.  Caramelle should not taste like a spicy Chinese dumpling.

10. Big Willie – Another clueless performance and he seemed unaware of what the judges wanted for this task.  Perhaps his cooking schools are too related to dessert and he’s not able to translate into more standard dinner fare. But it shouldn’t be so difficult to make a cheese filled pasta with red sauce.   Let’s hope Willie figures it out before it’s too late.

 

© Copyright 2014 Purefluffnyc.com    Photos courtesy of Fox

Food Network Star Final Three selected – Here’s why I’m voting for Luca and Nicole

Last night’s episode marked the end of the road for Sara Penrod, with the judges selection of Lenny McNab, Nicole Gaffney and Luca Della Casa as the finalists.  The judges, which included Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentis, Alton Brown, Susie Fogelman and Bob Tucschman made their final decision based on the 30 second videos made by each contestant promoting their putative pilot, to be based on their POV.  They also considered each chef’s performance throughout the competition.

Still in New York City, the remaining three got to make their promotional videos with surprise coach culinary badass Robert Irvine of Restaurant Impossible fame. Lenny’s “Cowboy Up” involved going to New York restaurant the West Bank Cafe and speaking with its owner Steve Olsen about adding Western Cowboy themed “Cowboy Soiree” experience for a group of special diners.  As could be expected, Lenny struggles somewhat when staring solo into the camera.  It was intimidating at first to stare into the blank, soulless crystal while trying to express himself for the unseen veiwers.  With Irvine’s coaching, though, Lenny adapted and his video fell into place.  He found his true place preparing his coffee crusted bone in filet in the kitchen of the restaurant.  The rest of his video went off well.

After seeing his pilot, though, I question whether Lenny’s “country comes to town” schtick will translate well into a series that I would find interesting.  After six episodes of adding coffee to some meat (he’s already added it to lamb burgers and steak) will there be anything left to explore?  Food Network already has the Pioneer Woman show, what can Lenny add to this?  Lenny is an experienced chef and has proven to be an entertaining character but is this right vehicle?  Will he make it as a true star of a series or will he make his career doing stand ins and judging for other FN shows?

Next up Luca showed his ability to connect with viewers again in his pilot for “Luca’s Feast”.  As he told the judges, after getting eliminated the first time he knew he really needed the competitive fire to win the competition.  At this point, he has gone as far he go before the fan vote.  In his pilot he went to NYC Italian restaurant Bocca Di Bacco to speak with executive chef Kristin Sollene.  He shared a dish with her and then went into the kitchen to prepare Bagna Cauda.  He wowed Irvine with tips for preparing garlic.  After insightfully leading viewers through the preparation of his dish, he shared it with a group assembled at the restaurant.  Now, this is a show that I think people will watch.  Not only do the ladies love Luca, but he has a charming down home Italian connection to many of the dishes and techniques he learned from his grandmother  His passion for cooking is obvious.  He is sure to get many votes.

Last, Nicole did a nice job with her “My Coastal Kitchen” pilot.  With Irvine’s help, she worked in a standard Food Network kitchen and prepared Louisiana beer barbecued clams. After she finished, she shared the dish with some friends at a nearby table.  Her format seemed more of the traditional Food Network variety, on set rather than in a restaurant.  Once again, she did an excellent job, although Irvine implored her to smile to remove her “camera bitchy face”.  She tends not to smile when she gets focused on delivering her performance.  With Irvine’s prodding, she smiled more and made an interesting series pilot.  Would I watch it?  Most definitely.  The coastal US theme offers many interesting possibilities and opportunities to show viewers compelling and delicious recipes they can prepare at home.

So who is going to win?  It’s no longer up to the judges but rather the fans.  If the past is any indicator, Lenny should win. He garnered the most votes of this group on the Food Network fan pool on their web site.  However, I think both Luca and Nicole have been on a roll lately and have the momentum.  Lenny peaked a few weeks ago and his pilot to me was average at best.  I think the other two have far more compelling POVs which translate into shows that I would want to watch week after week and look up the recipes to prepare at home.  Lenny’s to me is more of a mini-series rather than an ongoing show.  But hey, it’s not up to me so we will all have to wait until next Sunday.  Lenny would make a great sidekick for Guy Fieri on Diners Drive-ins Dives.

I am going to split my vote between Nicole and Luca.  I’m from Northern New Jersey and my grandmother had a house on the Jersey Shore, so I am rooting for the local girl to win it.  I think Luca has the right make up to deliver a great show, so I am also on Team Luca.  Nothing against Lenny, but it’s competition and there will be only 1 winner.  Good luck to all of the Final Three – it must have been incredibly grueling to go through this process.

© Copyright 2014 Purefluffnyc.com    Photos courtesy of Food Network

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Kate Mara Wraps ‘Fantastic Four’ With Cast Photo

Pure Fluff:

I hope this is better than the last movie!

Originally posted on Variety:

And that’s a wrap!

“Fantastic Four” star Kate Mara announced the end of filming on her superhero pic Saturday morning on Twitter. Mara, who plays the Invisible Woman, posted a selfie that shows Mr. Fantastic himself, Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan (Human Torch), and Jamie Bell (The Thing) smiling in front of a Sbarro pizza parlor. Unfortunately, the cast isn’t in costume so we’ll have to wait for another shot to see what the Fantastic Four look like.

It’s unclear whether the production itself is over or if Mara alone wrapped her scenes.

The film, directed Josh Trank, hits theaters on June 19, 2015.

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The Quest Season 1 Episode 1, “The Quest Begins” – Recap and Analysis

the quest verloxThe quest

Recap

This is the first episode of this epic fantasy reality show.  So understandably it takes a bit of exposition before we get rolling.  The 12 contestants are summoned to the show by a message written on parchment, in a wooden cylinder.  The Paladins, as they will be called, are being notified of their first mission in the game.  They must assemble as a group in Everealm (the name of this magical world) and wait for instruction.  They are all extremely excited to be participating in this competition.

They gather in an underground cave where they are met by a hooded guide holding a fire lit torch.  They are brought down into an underground river where they meet the 3 Fates who have summoned them. They will each be given one of twelve pieces of the Sun Spear.  As each paladin is eliminated their spear will be collected and only the true hero will have the chance to use it at the end of the competition.  The Fates command them to save the kingdom from Verlox an evil despot on the order Sauron or Valdemort.

Back above ground, they each find their piece of the spear.  There they meet Crio who tells them they are there to save them from the army of the evil Verlox.  Verlox has already conquered 11 of the 12 kingdoms and the paladins have been summoned by the Fates to protect this last bastion from defeat.

Crio leads them through the Marwood, the most dangerous forest in all of Everealm.  They travel through the night towards the safety of Sanctum.  As dawn breaks, they can see the beautiful castle in the distance.  This must be Sanctum!  They are being pursued by the forces of evil and must quickly make their way to Sanctum.  Crio leads them safely to the castle.

Once they enter Sanctum, it’s a beautiful and extremely realistic and functioning castle.  They are quickly imprisoned as they wait for further instructions.  The group discusses their next move.  Some want to escape from the prison, but they agree to wait for further instructions.

Clio asks the Vizier, a man with a long coat and walking stick with a globe on the end of it, to tell them about the Quest.  He explains that the last Quest was 8,000 years ago and that 12 paladins were summoned.  The last true hero used the Sun Spear to defeat Verlox.  The Fates keep the Sun Spear until it is once again needed to vanquish Verlox.  That time is now.  The 12 paladins have been summoned on this quest to defeat Verlox.  He is impressed when they all show him their pieces of the Sun Spear.  He then explains that they must face challenges.  After he leaves, Clio then leads them to their quarters, where each paladin will pick roommates and rooms.  The paladins are excited to be staying in a real castle. Now it’s time for rest.

The next day the paladins are roused and given their training mail (uniforms).  They must meet down in the courtyard for their first challenge.  The sergeant at arms instructs them that the Queen has ordered him to train them.  Verlox’s troops are going to be here in a few days and they must prepare for battle.

Challenge:  Paladins are broken into 4 teams of three people which must fire their Scorpion crossbows into hay targets.  It’s a competition and the worst team will face further consequences and one member will be eliminated.  The Paladins select color coded arrows from the quiver to choose teams.

Blue:  Christian, Katie and Patrick

Yellow: Jim, Lina and Shando

Red: Adria, Letitia and Jasmine

White:  Ashley, Andrew and Bonnie

One team member collects the arrows from a standing quiver, another loads and shoots them from behind a wall and the third climbs the tower to guide the shooter in proper direction to hit the most targets.  It’s not just a quiet practice, however, as they are getting shelled during their attack.  The competition ends and their trainer tells them he will count the targets hit for each team.

Results:  Red Team: 6, Yellow Team 10, White Team 13 and Blue Team 4.  The Blue Team is the loser and will have to face the consequences – one of them will be leaving.  The White Team as the victors will select the person who exemplified the greatest leadership.  They select Bonnie as the one who guided the arrows.  Bonnie kneels down and is presented with the Mark of Leadership.  There will be 12 marks of Leadership awarded during this competition, each relating to a different virtue.

Teams are sent back to the castle to await further nstruction.  They are then sent into a large chamber to visit the Three Fates.  The bottom three are forced to compete with the winner getting immunity.  The final two will be subject to a vote of all of the paladins.  The paladin getting the least votes will be eliminated.

Competition:  Each of the remaining three must shoot arrows at their opponents’ targets.  Each contestant must choose either yellow, red or blue.  Christian and Patrick both go after Katie’s target and she gets eliminated first.  Christian then beats Patrick and wins immunity.

Final Vote:  The other 10 paladins mull their decision.  Unlike other reality shows, it seems they will need to keep the strongest players in the competition for their upcoming battle.  They go back and forth.  The Fates then decree that they stand behind the paladin that they support. Patrick and Katie turn around and it’s clear the Patrick has more votes (8-2).  Katies is the first paladini to be banished. Katie then must place her piece of the Sun Spear into a large block resting before the Fates.  She then exits in a cloud of smoke.

See video of the The First Banishment.

Analysis

I’ll admit I was a bit unsure how this spectacle would play out.  Would it be a hideous failure with laughable and unbelievable scenarios or a compelling game that sucks you in from the first episode and compels you to watch until the finale?  I watched the first part of the show with some skepticism.  But somewhere around the time of the arrow shooting competition it hit me – this is going to be something very different and well worth watching.  This show works well on artistic level and it appears a great amount of planning have thought have been poured into it (putting aside the television business, ratings, profit and loss and other financial concerns).  The castle is real and the seting very realistic and believable in a very Game of Thrones era way. It seems the paladins have been well cast.  So yes, I’m all in and look forward to seeing what happens next.

It’s too early to rank the paladins, but if you want more information on them click here. It’s also a little too soon tell where this all going, besides the fact there will be a series of competition a la Survivor and other reality shows, which will result in the crowning of the One True Hero who will use the Sun Spear to defeat Verlox.  Episode two should crank things up a bit as we get more into the game and learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of each character.

© Copyright 2014 Purefluffnyc.com    Photos courtesy of ABC

Master Chef Season 5, Episode 10, Top 12 Compete aka “Romance is in the Air”

Recap

Elizabeth and Ahran,  the top two from last week,  get to select the two teams that will prepare meals for the guests soon to arrive in the Master Chef restaurant.  Elizabeth chooses first and seems to have chosen the better team.  Elizabeth, with years in the workforce and Ahran just a high school senior, would seem to have a big advantage in managing teams of people.

Team Challenge:  The theme of this challenge is love.  The tables are filled with couples including Gordon Ramsay and his wife, Tana.  The two teams will have 60 minutes to prep their meals.  An hour after the entrée goes out, their desserts must be ready to be served.

Blue Team (Elizabeth):  Francis, Jamie, Victoria, Courtney, Daniel

Red Team (Ahran):  Big Willie, Christine, Christian, Leslie, Cutter

The Blue team selects a filet mignon and the Red Team lobster risotto.  Elizabeth appears to have the better team and she has yet to be on a losing team.  She has an organized kitchen with her hand-picked chefs at each station.  The filet is a safe bet.

The Red Team’s Lobster Risotto is a bit risky.  The risotto can be overdone and the lobster improperly cooked.  Time winds down as the romantic couples enter the dining room.  Many are celebrating anniversaries.  The tables are all full and the service is set to begin.  It’s game on and only ten minutes remain to get the entrees prepared.  Gordon Ramsay and his wife take the last table.  Victoria is a bit worried that the steak is too rare.  They go with the whole filet for each plate.  The lobster dish is also finished.  The servers then enter the room to take the plates into to the dining room.  Victoria is worried that her steak is too rare for Tana Ramsay.

Tana Ramsay doesn’t like the risotto but the lobster is perfect.  The beef is delicious but a little on the rare side.  The beet puree and the mushrooms are spot on.  Joe samples the room, asking diners about the quality of their meals.  Teams like the steak, although it is undercooked for some.

Teams now move onto dessert.  Arhan goes with her tiramisu but they are having trouble constructing the layers.  Ahran decides to change course.   Elizabeth’s Blue Team offers a strawberry cream delight.  Time winds down and it’s now time to serve the desserts.  Ahran is happy with her product.  Elizabeth is also pleased with her effort.  Tana Ramsay says the chocolate is delicious but she cannot taste the raspberry.  The Blue Team has much more flavor with the caramel on the bottom but the cream on top is the worst part.  As the dessert services ends, diners will leave either a red or blue card in their empty check folders to submit as their vote.

Results:  The Blue Team dominates with 75% of the votes.  The Red Team will face the dreaded Pressure Test.  The entire Blue Team is safe and all of the Red Team must compete in the Pressure Test.  Some of the chefs like Christine will be competing in their first pressure test while others like Leslie in their fourth.

Pressure Test: Chefs have one hour to make a perfect box of nine high end truffles, with at least three different varieties of truffle.  Smooth, not grainy and the filling has to be spot on.  They will need to be not only visually pleasing but taste great as well.  The entire Red Team of Ahran, Leslie, Cutter, Christian, Christine and Big Willie must compete in the pressure test.  They are each provided the staples for making troubles at their station but can use the pantry to create the different flavors.

Chef Elliot says this may the toughest challenge they have ever held.  The ratio of butter, chocolate and cream is critically important.  Christine is having trouble preparing the truffles in one hour.  Christian hasn’t made truffles before.  Big Willie seems confident in making another dessert.  Leslie has never made truffles before. He buys them for his wife in Beverly Hills.  Cutter has also never made truffles before and admits that he knows he’s going home if he’s on the bottom again.  Ahran is making peanut butter, dark chocolate and mocha truffles.  Her confidence is somewhat shaken by the loss of her team.  The judges think Ahran and Cutter are in trouble (except for Ramsay who thinks Cutter will rebound).  With 8 minutes remaining, Christine is a mess and has fallen behind.  With one minute left the cooks must finalize their truffles.  Ahran and Cutter are a bit scared and hope they’ve done enough.

The judges look at Cutter first.  They ask him to assess his work and he says a “7 or 8” out of 10.  Judge Elliot says visually they are a 10.  In a surprise to all Cutter has nailed the challenge.  Joe asks him if this is a new Cutter or a one week effort.  Judge Ramsay ribs Cutter saying they look terrible but he admits that he loves them.  He calls his work “at a professional level”.

Next up is Christian.  The judges like his work and he seems okay.

Big Willie is up next and he has done a decent job but Chef Ramsay doesn’t like his overuse of sprinkles.  Besides that one mistake he did well.

Joe then inspects Ahran’s work.  She used different bases, milk chocolate and dark chocolate.  He says they are not bad.

Leslie’s truffles look horrible and Chef Ramsay is concerned.  Generally a challenge beast, Leslie’s truffles fail.  The taste is good, however, but the horrendous misshapen piles in the box have left Leslie at risk of going home.  Chef Ramsay says they look like he pressed them in his armpits.

Last up is Christine.  She is in trouble from the start with her awful presentation – they are not round.  The taste is off too, they are super bitter.

The judges next mull which chef to send home.

Results:  Cutter is the clear winner to the surprise of all.  He gets the announcement that he is safe first.  Joe congratulates him and tells him to offer his truffles to the Blue Team on the balcony.  Next, Big Willie, Ahran and Christian are told they are safe.  They head upstairs to the balcony.  Ahran is relieved that her nightmare has ended.

That leaves Leslie and Christine on the bottom.  Christine is declared the loser and is sent home.  The judges are shocked but the truffles were out of balance and “bitter beyond belief”.  There are now only 11 home cooks left.

Here is a preview of next week’s episode:

Analysis

Is this the week that Cutter turned the corner?  It seems his attitude has improved and he was the clear winner of the elimination challenge.  That leads to this week’s rankings.

First Tier – Likely Final 4

1. Elizabeth – She nailed it again this week with keen team selection and excellent leadership on the winning team.

2. Courtney – Didn’t show much individually but was on the winning team.

3. Francis – On the winning team again, remains a creative cook.

4. Ahran – She took a big hit this week with her failed leadership of the Red Team.  She picked a weak team that got squashed by Elizabeth.  Hopefully she can pull herself together.

The Second Tier – Potential Threat

5. Victoria – She is also a solid performer with some strong work to date; was on the winning team.

6. Christian – Strong competitor who survived the Pressure Test, albeit without distinction.

7. Daniel – Daniel is a solid performer but hasn’t really put it all together yet.  Was on the winning team and avoided the pressure test for the first time.  Still have to see more.

Third Tier – Most in Danger of Elimination

8. Leslie – He continued his freefall and barely avoided elimination.

9. Cutter – He had an amazing turnaround this week with his outstanding truffles.  Is he a one week wonder or is he finally taking the judges’ comments to heart?

10. Jaimee – She can bake but she’s young and lacks ability in other areas.  She won’t win Master Chef and her demise is likely to be sooner rather than later

11. Big Willie- He made another silly mistake this week with his overpowering use of sprinkles on his truffles. He is a great dessert chef but lacks a bit of polish and does things that inspire him, not necessarily the judges.  He’s a great cook but has been in the middle/bottom of the pack for most of the competition.

 

© Copyright 2014 Purefluffnyc.com    Photos courtesy of Fox