Friday, April 27, 2012

Vampire Legal Issues: The "For Real, Elena Doesn't Need a Guardian" Edition

(Part of a continuing series of guest posts by my friend Christine, who is now in fact a lawyer.)

So I haven’t done one of these super-dorky posts in a while, mostly because I get bored of myself screeching “BUT HOW DID HE GET IN THERE?” constantly so I just vaguely consider it and then wander off and eat a cookie.  BUT.

After last night’s episode, I saw some commentary on the Interwebs about Elena needing a new legal guardian, and I just can’t help myself, so here’s a rerun for you.  Elena is 18.  Alaric was not ever her legal guardian, and she certainly doesn’t need one now.  (As an adult, she’d only need a guardian if she was incapacitated in some way, and she’s not. You could argue that her judgment is poor [what with the “which serial killer do I love the best” struggle and all], but that’s not incapacity.  I do like to imagine the hearing, though.  “Well, she looks normal and gets the bills paid on time, but her undead ex went on a murderous rampage and all she did was tell him he was a good person deep down!  WHO DOES THAT?”)

[Disclaimer: Still not licensed in Virginia, so if you have family situations like Elena’s, ignore me, run straight past your nearest Virginia-licensed attorney, and GET SOME THERAPY.]

Here’s what I wrote at the beginning of the season:

I cannot state this strongly enough: ALARIC IS NO ONE’S GUARDIAN.

Underline!  Boldface!  Italics!  Flashing lights!  Emotionally, I agree that it makes sense for Alaric to be Jeremy and Elena’s parent figure.  They’ve lost so many relatives, and Alaric knows about the supernatural world they inhabit.  He’s obviously got issues [Naughty Alaric], but he’s still the best option they’ve got.  However, being guardian to a child is a legal role, and except in the case of the child’s parents, it requires court authorization.

[The following citations are all to Virginia law; the other states with which I am familiar are all substantially similar.]

First of all, Elena has turned 18 and doesn’t need a guardian.  She is legally an adult.  Even if Elena were not an adult, Alaric would not be her guardian because he has no legal relationship to her.  Isobel was probably not legally Elena’s mother at any point, because she was not listed on the birth certificate.  A woman who gives birth to a child is legally presumed to be the child’s mother. [cite]  How do we know who gave birth to a child?  Well, for starters, she’ll be listed on the birth certificate.  Therefore, there is a legal presumption that Miranda Gilbert was Elena’s biological mother.  Elena is essentially adopted, except that there were never any adoption proceedings.  She is not legally an adopted child.  Is this shady?  Absolutely.  But you’re going to be hard-pressed to convince a judge to run a DNA test at this point.

Furthermore, even if Isobel were Elena’s legal mother and had never given her up for adoption, Alaric would not be Elena’s presumptive guardian unless he had adopted her or was named her guardian in Isobel’s will. [cite; cite; see also definition of child.]

Jeremy- well, how old is he?  Sixteen or seventeen?  Jeremy still needs a guardian, and he can request that Alaric be appointed his guardian.  However, that appointment must go through a court first. [cite]  I don’t know how likely a court would be to appoint Alaric; Jeremy’s wishes would be considered but they are not controlling.

Now, all of this is probably academic; if no one notifies the appropriate authorities that the Gilberts are living on their own, the courts probably won’t step in. Jeremy will turn 18 soon, and we can pretend that Jeremy and Elena will get control of their inheritance at 18, though that’s unusual.  Anyway, point is: ALARIC ISN’T THEIR LEGAL GUARDIAN.

But what was that about their money?

The sad and bereaved Gilberts don’t seem to be lacking in income to spend on flapper dresses and hunky suits and whatnot, so let’s assume their parents left them significant assets in addition to an enviable real estate portfolio.

I think I remember Uncle Daddy John mentioning being the estate’s trustee (he probably meant the trustee of the trust that received the estate’s assets, but whatever).  Those assets are probably in a family trust that’s intended to provide for Jeremy and Elena until they can support themselves- pay for college, living expenses, property taxes, and so on.  A trust instrument (which is the governing document) can set an age for assets to be distributed to the trust’s beneficiaries.  This is often done in installments, say at 21, 25, and 35 (or something similar).  It’s very unlikely Elena would have legal ownership at this point; everything is probably still owned by the trust.  So hypothetically the trust needs a trustee, since Uncle Daddy John is dead.  The trust instrument would likely have named an alternate trustee, but unfortunately (for me if for no one else), the show hasn’t gone into this.  It’s also possible that a bank or financial institution was listed as co-trustee for the convenience of having it administer the trust’s assets.

However, let’s face it: it probably doesn’t matter. Elena’s pet vampires are available to compel bank tellers and stock brokers whenever is required. (Do you ever wonder about Damon’s to-do list? 1) Clean rugs; 2) Make googly eyes at brother; 3) Compel accountant to file Gilbert Family Trust income taxes; 4) Maintain eyebrows.) It’s likely a great deal easier to do that than to worry about legalities, especially since I’m not sure that Uncle Daddy John was ever declared legally dead. (I wonder what’s happening with his estate? Damn, Show, inquiring minds (?) want to know!)

So basically: ignore what I just said, because I don’t think following the letter of the law is on Elena’s list of top ten priorities.

I’m so glad we got that straightened out. I’m going to do actual work now. :-)


PS-  I hope Alaric changed his beneficiary designations! (Don’t forget to update your estate plans when you pseudo-inherit affluent waifs from your deceased vampire significant others.  Probate codes haven’t caught up to you.)

PPS-  Feel free to make Season 4 The Season of Estate Administration, Show.  Or you could do a spin-off.  There are so many possibilities: Tyler could challenge his mother’s life estate!  Matt could argue before the Founder’s Council that everyone in town is dead so should be divested of their property because NO DEAD HAND CONTROL!  There could be a Vampire Legal Institute to draft a Restatement of the Law, Property (Vampires and Other Abominations)!!!  Abominations with Assets would be the best spin-off EVER.

PPPS-  Also, Alaric should sue Stefan for beating him up last week, and then Stefan could be all, “He consented!” and the judge could throw the case out!  SUCH FUN.

PPPPS-  Not really relevant, but did you see Jeremy with his hunky vest and his sleeves rolled up?  Three buttons away from a romance novel stepback, I’m telling you.  Browse the customer images, y’all.  And if you are thinking to yourself, OH, those are hilarious, I could look at those forever, then please do!  (Just make sure your boss isn’t behind you)  You’re welcome.

State Home for Manic Pixie Dream Girls

This video is definitely my favorite thing of the week. Maybe the month. Or the year. (Thanks to Jen Laughran for the link!)

Morning Coffee (4/27/12)


You know what would improve my Friday? A LIFE-SIZE INFLATABLE BOUNCY STONEHENGE.

This will not surprise anyone who has tried to do math homework with ten-year-olds: Your ability to imagine a number line may not be hardwired after all.

Here's a fascinating look at Ethel Williams, influential secretary to the original L.L. Bean.

TOR is going DRM-free.

The whole "minimalist poster" thing is getting to be a bit much, but these Game of Thrones castles are awesome.

Ooh! Herodotus! New Archeological Proof for the Oldest Tsunami in Recorded History

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Trailer: Lawless

I barely even care what this movie is about, because just look at that cast! Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska. Wheee.

Morning Coffee (4/26/12)

Two interesting and important readings on race, TV, and criticism: Mo Ryan's HBO's 'Girls' Isn't Racist, Television Is Racist (And Sexist) and Noel Murray's Our “white people problems” problem: Why it’s time to stop using “white” as a pejorative

This list looks amazing and I want to read practically everything on it: Your Summer Beach Reading List for 2012

For Chrissakes, There Is Nothing Wrong With You: A Dating Manifesto

I was just yesterday contemplating what would be the song of the summer, and Vulture has an interesting analysis of past summer songs. I was semi-convinced it would be "What Makes You Beautiful" or "Glad You Came," but after reading that, I might be pulling for "Call Me Maybe."

Today in fans being awful: Female Reviewer Gets Attacked for Avengers Review

YA author Sarah Darer Littman has a good take on what's wrong with Fifty Shades of Grey. Hint: It has little to do with the fact that it's badly written or explicit or started as fanfic.

How Syfy Will Bring Science Fiction Back to Television

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

On Eating Alone

The fact that there exists business models that revolve around fixing invented problems women are told they have is nothing new - but this example is so ridiculous that I just had to mention it. The idea behind Invite for a Bite is that women who don't want to eat alone in restaurants can use the site find dining companions. Although, you know, as Jezebel points out, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with this. Facilitating networking between women? Sure. So maybe my issue is more with the way this is being covered rather than the site itself. Apparently women should feel so self-conscious and ashamed at the very idea of asking for a table for one that eating with a complete stranger should be preferable. WHAT?.

I try not to eat out much, because it's expensive, but I do eat alone in restaurants fairly regularly, and . . . I just don't get the issue here. You just walk in, ask for a table, enjoy your meal, and, if you're like me and always multitask, do some work or read a book or whatever. I've never gotten comments or weird looks. (And I'd say on average I've gotten more attentive service while alone, for what it's worth.) Okay, maybe sometimes I was too engrossed in my book to notice looks if they existed, but - what of it? Don't we assume that strangers are judging us, while we're in turn texting our friends about that crazy outfit someone's wearing or a really dramatic conversation happening at the next table? I don't know about you, but I certainly don't have the time or energy to actually care whether people have noticed or care that I'm eating alone - especially because I don't believe that it's in any way something to be ashamed of. I honestly don't even get why it would be. Do people expect women to feel worthless if their existence isn't being validated by another person at every moment? Because that's really sad.

So I guess I'm partially encouraging people to ignore this nonsense and enjoy your meal already, but I'm also wondering if this is a real problem that real people have. Anyone? Are you too ashamed to go to a restaurant alone?

Pilot Thoughts: The L.A. Complex

Canadian import The L.A. Complex premiered on the CW last night, and in short, I found it delightful and way more fun than it had any right to be. It's about a group of young aspiring actors/dancers/etc. living in a rundown motel in Los Angeles, and in the pilot, at least, it did a good job of incorporating fun soapiness while making it clear that all the characters had dreams and goals and concerns more important to them than their sex lives, which was refreshing. (And even the parts about sex were unusually real: I can't remember the last time I saw such extensive discussion of the morning after pill on a show.) Though set in L.A., it's a completely Canadian production, and it definitely had a certain charming Canadian flavor I can't quite articulate but recognized from things like Degrassi and bad Nina Dobrev movies. Jewel Staite is, of course, a particular highlight, and seeing her character go around explaining to everyone that her previous show was canceled because it had a bad timeslot was one of the more hilarious things I've seen recently. I'm always hesitant to judge from just a pilot, of course, but The L.A. Complex seems like it will be the perfect new drama to get addicted to now that the regular TV season is winding down.

Morning Coffee (4/25/12)

It's only Wednesday?

Not a joke: James Cameron and Google executives are getting into asteroid-mining. There is no way this could possibly end badly.

Fascinating: Cuban Actors Who Defect to US in New Film Allegedly Defect to US En Route to Premiere

The New York City Municipal Archives now has hundreds of thousands of images online. Fascinating.

Goodness, I love England: Village of Dull wants to forge ties with town of Boring.

Oh, I'd forgotten Chris Pine was doing a Jack Ryan movie. Interesting.

Samsung Heirs Stage a Korean Soap Opera

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Morning Coffee (4/24/12)

Good morning! I'm watching SportsCenter and just realized that "World Peace" is someone's name, so all those headlines I half-read make much more sense now.

What Zac Efron's Beard Means For Men And Women In Hollywood

This look at the Cutty Sark restoration is fascinating.

If you'd like to hear Fiona Apple's new single, here you go.

Sioux City newspaper against bullying. Nice.

Picture of the Day: French Aviator Louis Blériot in His Workshop

Twelve years in under three minutes. Amazing.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

You MUST watch In Plain Sight tonight.

And over at TheTelevixen, I tell you why. Plus: Quotes from my interview with Stephen Lang and one of my very favorite Marshall lines EVER.

Morning Coffee (4/20/12)

Busy busy busy. Wait, I said that yesterday, huh? This week is really busy!

I'm so glad this news is finally public, because it's been so hard not to blurt it out everywhere: Holly Black and Cassie Clare are co-writing a middle grade series. WHEEEE.

The one thing you need to know about the Magic Mike trailer is that it has an appalling lack of Matt Bomer. But you should also read Linda Holmes's take.

Leo DiCaprio! Dennis Lehane! Prohibition! It's like we're playing "Movies Kate Likes" Bingo. Does it also involve spies? Or the mob? That would make it perfect.

If FOX puts both Bradley Whitford and Richard Schiff back on my TV regularly and picks up Kevin Williamson's new show, they may be back in the running for "favorite network."

You must read Sarah Rees Brennan on Miss Marple.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bradley Whitford on Parks & Recreation Tonight

Hey, West Wing fans: Bradley Whitford is guest starring on Parks and Recreation tonight (NBC, 9:30/8:30c), and the episode title, "Live Ammo," should sound familiar. And here's a clip in which he walks and talks! Whee.

Morning Coffee (4/19/12)

Busy busy busy busy busy.

New Year's Eve won't be the same without Dick Clark. Read about some of the important work he did integrating TV.

Revenge fans: The Treadwell Report is real.

Apparently the strategy here is "Let's show how important it is to preserve art by destroying it willy-nilly!" Um, what?

Amazon has acquired the rights to the James Bond novels. Interesting.

An interesting take: Drama's Star Fades

Why I hate the myth of the suffering artist

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Trailer: Hemingway & Gellhorn

I can't decide if this looks good, but it certainly looks fun.

USA Network Summer Premiere Dates!

USA Network announced some more premiere dates yesterday, and since a few of you have asked, I figured it was time for a roundup:
May 11: Common Law
June 6: Royal Pains & Necessary Roughness
June 14: Burn Notice & Suits
July 10: White Collar & Covert Affairs
Political Animals will premiere in July as well, but does not have an official date yet.

Morning Coffee (4/18/12)

Listen my children and you shall hear . . . Yes, it's that day, and that's going to be in my head all day so I figured I should share. Kind of me, no?

The funniest thing you will read all day (provided you're in the demographic that will find this funny): Blurb Your Enthusiasm

A close second: But If We Started Dating It Would Ruin Our Friendship Where I Ask You To Do Things And You Do Them

Tumblr recommendations: SuperCoryBooker and The Internet Never Forgets

Here's a fun calendar of Fictional Character Birthdays.

I don't necessarily agree with all of this, but it's interesting: Barbie's Plastic Politics

An adorable video interview with Matt Czuchry will improve your morning, I promise.

I desperately want a book and key necklace.

I didn't actually know there was a battle over Mary Pickford's legacy, but apparently it's heating up.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I know you want to read another post about #Girls.

Since everyone else in the world is talking about Girls, I figured I might as well throw in my two cents. On the one hand, I thought it was an absolutely pitch-perfect representation of (a subset of) people from roughly my generation and socioeconomic background. Virtually every line seemed right on, seemed to be something I have actually heard someone say.* So that made me say "This is amazing and I must watch it." On the other hand, the people it so realistically portrays are ones who often drive me completely nuts in real life, so whether I'll be able to keep watching it without being wholly annoyed by the characters is an open question. But I'm willing to give it a chance.

A lot of the discussion about this seems to be happening in extremes - "They're amazing!" "They're awful!" "They're just like me!" "Not everyone is like this!" - and I think that sort of willfully misses the point. Hannah isn't a hero, but I don't think the show tries to claim she is. And I don't think she's a villain either. As someone who insisted on moving out and supporting herself as quickly as possible when many of her peers were not,** I definitely sympathize with the "JUST GET A JOB" contingent, but it's also true that we grew up being told that we were different, that we were special, that we could do anything we wanted and should follow our dreams regardless of dumb stuff like money. Some of us, you know, got over that, and some kept buying into it. (My favorite quote from Josh Charles's character on The Good Wife comes to mind: "What happened to work? Not everybody can pursue their dreams. Someone has to work.") For what it's worth, I thought Hannah continuing to take her parents' money while she had an unpaid internship was much less morally objectionable than her parents cutting her off with no notice. Two months or something, fine, but no warning? She could lose her apartment! It could seriously mess up her credit rating! It just didn't seem like a constructive step toward actually getting her to the point of successfully supporting herself in the long run.

It also seems that the money-related things are taking up most of the air in the discussion, but while I was yelling "Just go get a job in a store! That's what I did!" at the screen for a lot of that, so much of the other stuff, about friendships and relationships and jobs, seemed very true and possibly more universal - by which I mean universal to this specific demographic, not universal to everyone. The self-delusional faux-intellectual nonsense, the friends we don't actually like, the sketchily-defined romantic and sexual relationships . . . that was all done really well. "Joy Lin knows Photoshop" is one of the most perfect lines I've heard in a while. So I'm hoping that in future episodes the show focuses less on the one specific issue of parental support and continues to explore all these other things as well.

I don't have the time or energy to get into the whole question of privilege right now, except to say: Yes, the main characters are from privileged backgrounds. But most shows on TV are about characters who are at least upper middle class, or even unquestionably rich (Bones, Castle, and Gossip Girl come to mind there), and while I'm not saying this shouldn't be discussed in general, I'm not sure why people are making an issue of it in Girls specifically. Also: I've always assumed that TV that is generally aspirational draws bigger audiences, or in other words, people like to watch people in nice clothes and pretty houses. Again, not saying this is good, but if I were to complain about this, Girls is not where I would start.

* Well, okay, I'm not getting into questions of apartment size/what New York is really like/etc. Just talking about the general emotional/life stuff.
** And fine: My phone is still on my parents' family plan. So the line about that cracked me up.

Nathan Fillion & Robert Downey, Jr. in Castle/Avengers Promo

Oh, this was just DELIGHTFUL:

Morning Coffee (4/17/12)

Happy tax day! I filed mine, um, last night, so I feel needlessly smug. No, I had no good reason for waiting so long, except apparently wanting to stress myself out more. ANYWAY.

Hey, McVities, I love you guys, but WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

This does not seem to be from The Onion: MoveOn Uses LOLCat Meme in Anti-Romney Ad. The best part: "The 30-second spot will run during cat-themed TV shows including “Big Cat Diary,” “My Cat From Hell,” “Cats 101” and “Too Cute Kittens,” according to the group’s press release." Those are SHOWS THAT EXIST?

This does not seem to be from The Onion either: Gary Oldman directing Jack White streamed live concert.

Erik Larson is writing a book about the Lusitania. Interesting.

Sad, though not exactly shocking: Miss Read has died.

The best editing mistake ever

This is fabulous: Top 10 Most Misunderstood Lines in Literary History

Ten gemstones that are rarer than diamond

Monday, April 16, 2012

Let's all calm down about Castle.

Castle fans have been in a bit of a tizzy the past few weeks, and on and off all season, really. On the one hand, I get it: Castle and Beckett have been keeping secrets from each other, and now they're mad at each other, and if you're someone who really wants them to be together, that can be hard to watch. I get that.

But on the other hand . . . really? Of all the shows and characters whose fates I worry about, Castle has always been at the bottom of the list, because it's never been uncertain. Creator/showrunner Andrew Marlowe has said from the beginning that Castle and Beckett will get together. He's said from the beginning that this show is primarily a love story. He's said from the beginning that he has a plan. So can't we all calm down and enjoy the ride?

In fact, the plan, at least so far, will feel pretty familiar to romance readers. Back around episode 107, I remember thinking "Wait, is this show actually a Regency romance pretending to be a procedural?" (Yes, that was when he bought her a dress for a ball.) One of these days, I will get around to actually writing out those structural parallels, but suffice it to say that it's followed the standard romance novel outline so far.* That means we're now at the Big Misunderstanding That Threatens To Tear Them Apart Forever. It happens. It's normal. What comes next is always good. I promise.

In a recent interview with Marisa Roffman,** Marlowe confirmed his plan and made an interesting point about fans:
But I know there are certain promises we have to make to keep them engaged. And then moving forward, we’ve always tried to honor the characters and what their relationships are. And you can’t listen too closely to the fan base because what they say they want isn’t necessarily what they want. And I think that our characters declare what they want more loudly than our fan base does. And as long as we’re honoring them and not violating who they are, we feel like we’re doing a good job. And it’s less anxiety-ridden for us here because we know where we’re going. So if you know how the game ends, you’re not as worried when your team is down by 20 points.
I think the highlighted sentences (emphasis mine) are very true. Shippers often claim to want characters to get together immediately, and then stay together happily forever, but that doesn't make for very good TV. TV needs conflict. It needs plot. And good writers realize that what fans think they want isn't necessarily what they actually want. Fans are fans because they fell in love with the characters, with the dynamic, and staying true to that is more important than rushing to a certain relationship point (or other plot point) because some percentage of fans, the ones who happen to be most vocal on the Internet, tell you that's what they want. And to the second point, yes, the characters are absolutely declaring what they want, and it seems like fans sometimes get so worked up about things that they shortchange the important character developments that are actually happening because they're afraid to let themselves believe in the characters that drew them in in the first place.

And more generally, there's something I've been thinking about in connection to several shows recently: If you're watching a show because you're hoping to see a particular outcome, you're doing it wrong. If you're investing dozens of hours of your life into something because you're hoping for one moment to occur at some point in the future, that just doesn't seem like a fulfilling use of your time. Even if the thing you want eventually happens, it won't happen exactly the way you've been thinking, and the more you think about that one moment, the more likely you are to be disappointed, no matter what happens. And even if you aren't, you'll have spent all this time just thinking about one future thing instead enjoying the show you're actually watching.

So, a suggestion for Castle fans who are worrying: Watch the show that is on the television and try to stop comparing it to the one that only exists in your head. Keep calm. Trust Marlowe. Enjoy the ride. Everything will be fine. And to fans of all shows: if you're not having fun, just stop watching.

* In case it's unclear, I'm not saying this is a bad thing. The story is classic because it works, and overlaying it with a procedural is clever. If you want to have an argument about whether romance novels are all evil or bad or whatever, well, you're wrong, but we can do that in a different post.

** Marisa does the best reporting on Bones, Castle, and Fringe out there. If you like those shows, you should be reading her stuff.

Pilot Thoughts: NYC 22

CBS's new cop drama NYC 22 started last night; if you missed it, you can watch the premiere here. It's about six rookie cops in Manhattan, just starting out, and okay, I understand why a lot of critics are asking whether we really need another fairly generic cop show. I do. But so far, at least, this has a few positive things that set it apart: the main characters are really at the bottom of the police hierarchy, so we see some fairly different stuff than we do on detective-based shows. The fact that there are six main characters means we get a bunch of different stories going, and I was impressed that the writers resisted the urge to tie them all together neatly. And after one episode, I could tell all the main characters apart without having to think about it, and none of them were annoying me yet. Neither of those points are ones that can usually be made after one episode of an ensemble show.

And I have to say . . . well, maybe I'm part of the problem. Maybe I do have an overwhelming bias toward crime shows. But as Sundays become more and more the time set aside for thinky, fashionable prestige shows - Mad Men, Game of Thrones, etc. - I realize that although I like those shows, and was recording most of them last night, NYC 22 is closer to what I actually want to watch in that particular timeslot, right before bed on a Sunday night. Some action. Some crime-solving. Those are relaxing. A little character drama, but not so much that I have to spend a lot of energy thinking or caring about it. Basically good people trying to do good things. A little inspirational moment at the end - not enough to make the whole thing treacly, but enough to help get me ready to face the week. It's too early to say for sure, but the pilot suggests that NYC 22 might actually be the Sunday show I've been wanting.

Morning Coffee (4/16/12)

It's going to be 92 today. In New Hampshire. In April. Unacceptable.

Get ready for tonight's Castle with this fun interview with Adam Baldwin.

A must-read, to see how far we've come fallen: Having an Abortion When No One Called Me a Slut

Richard Schiff is doing a web series about running for Congress. Awesome.

Maybe we can fund NASA with space whiskey!

Let Us Put an End to Geek Pride

New pictures from Magic Mike!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Music Break: "You're Nothing Without Me"

I was thinking about this song because of . . . well, it probably had something to do with Castle, but now I forget exactly where that train of thought was headed. But regardless, this song never fails to make me happy. It's my favorite song from my favorite musical no one ever talks about. (And I'm still not entirely clear on the plot. I've never seen it. Whatever. Clever lyrics, they get me every time.)

Morning Coffee (2/13/12)

There was a horrible incident in nearby Greenland last night in which the chief of police was killed and four other officers wounded. (It now looks like the shooter and at least one other person are dead as well.) My thoughts are with the victims and their families. Check WMUR for details as they develop.

In case you were somehow under a rock all day yesterday, the title and summary of J.K. Rowling's new adult book were released, and it sounds really good.

Jon Scalzi injects some smart rationality into the ebook discussion: Dear Consumers Who Apparently Think the Current Drama Surrounding eBooks is Like a Football Game
"Recognize that they love you for your money. Recognize that they have entire corporate departments at their disposal to distract you from the fact that they love you for your money."
In other words, these are corporations. They are not on "your side," because that concept doesn't even make any sense. They're just trying to sell you things.

There have been a lot of good interviews with actors this week. Here's a fun one with Richard Madden (Robb Stark).

Excessive worrying may have co-evolved with intelligence. Oh . . . good?

Cory Booker: Superhero

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bradley Whitford on Live! with Kelly This Morning

Here it is! Bradley Whitford being interviewed about Cabin in the Woods and other stuff on Live! with Kelly on April 12, 2012. Delightfully featuring guest host Joel McHale!

Well played, Marvel.

Last night I saw the best set of red carpet interviews I've ever seen: at's livestream of the The Avengers premiere. Before last night, I didn't really even care about the movie. Because of Joss, and because it has some actors I've liked in other things, I figured I'd Netflix it eventually, but I wasn't all that interested. But one of my good friends is really into it, so I figured I'd put on the livestream to keep him company while I did stuff around the house last night. (Okay, the seemingly-unfounded rumor that Nathan Fillion would show up didn't hurt.) And you know what? It completely converted me. The hosts asked interesting, relevant questions. They got witty, well-thought-out replies. And now I really want to see the movie. I watch a lot of red carpet interviews of various sorts, and they have never before made me eager to consume a product I didn't care about before. That is how you have your hosts behave, and that is how you promote a movie. Good job, all.

Morning Coffee (4/12/12)

Attention, West Wing fans! Bradley Whitford will be on Live! with Kelly on ABC sometime next hour (9-10 Eastern). I'll try to get the clip posted here tonight.

Speaking of, here's a fun Whitford interview. Yes, Cabin in the Woods comes out tomorrow. Before I remembered that, I was a little confused about why all this was happening.

And while we're on the interview subject, here's a great Q&A with Alison Brie and Gillian Jacobs of Community.

Beautiful Creatures update: Ethan Wate has been recast for scheduling reasons.

Trying to figure out the current ebook legal stuff? Maureen Johnson explains all.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

TV Recommendation: Don't Trust the B---- in Apt 23

First of all, yes, ABC's Don't Trust the B---- in Apt 23 has an awful, awful name, but try not to hold that against it. (See also: Cougar Town. What's your problem, ABC?) The pilot, which premieres tonight at 9:30/8:30c, was thoroughly delightful. The two main actresses have done good work on other shows - you may know Krysten Ritter from Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars, and Dreama Walker was quite memorable on The Good Wife - and they play off each other well here. James Van Der Beek, who seems to have developed quite the sense of humor about the whole Dawson thing, plays a hilarious version of himself. (Just wait for the flannel.) The humor is snarky without often crossing the line to "mean," which usually turns me off. I'm a little concerned about how long the premise will believably last, but as long as they don't give Ritter's character huge redemption arcs too often - and just have moments of humanity between her over-the-top antics - they should be good. So please, ignore the name and give this one a try!

Matt Bomer on Glee + Anderson Brothers Transformers Audition

Last night I watched Glee for the first time in over a year, because Matt Bomer was guest starring as Cooper Anderson, (very bad, very slightly famous) actor brother of Blaine. The show was still awful, as expected, and Bomer sang, danced, and acted rings around everyone else, again as expected. He seemed to be having a good time, and did a few decent songs that I immediately purchased, and they made the requisite jokes about how he's the most beautiful man on the planet, so, you know, it could have been worse. (There was a shower scene that inexplicably did not include Bomer. Oh well.) It certainly didn't convince me to start watching Glee again, unless and until they manage to rope in another guest star for whom I'll watch literally anything. But my hope is that it brought Bomer's talents to a wider audience, and especially highlighted his musical abilities, because seriously, someone needs to give the man a movie musical or Broadway show or record deal or something already.

Need a little more of the Anderson brothers? Here's Darren Criss and Matt Bomer doing Cooper Anderson's amazingly awful Transformers audition tape.

Morning Coffee (4/11/12)

Sorry for the radio silence - I was away for Easter and then the week got off to a bit of a hectic start.

The Frasier theme song: finally explained.

Photos from The Newsroom. (Yes, I will be posting basically everything about this show. Get used to it.

The Stalled Revolution

10 Questions That Never Got a Straight Answer on Television

I somehow hadn't realized that Richard Price was involved with NYC 22, but now I'm excited for the premiere on Sunday.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Anyone stressed?

Might I interest you in a Dalek Relaxation Tape for Humans?

TV Recommendation: Magic City

Starz's new show Magic City premieres tonight at ten, and if you're at all interested in the fifties, hotels, labor issues, the mob, or Jeffrey Dean Morgan, I urge you to check it out. I watched the first episode, and I can't remember ever being so excited about a show based on its pilot before. I'd expected the show to just be some soapy fun in retro costumes, but it surprised me by dealing with everything from union organizers to Che Guevara to civil rights to Frank Sinatra to the struggle of newly-wealthy Jewish and Italian families to be accepted in society. The ensemble cast is strong, and in tone it reminded me very much of Goodfellas* mixed with an actually dirty version of Dirty Dancing. Starz has already renewed Magic City for a second season, and I can't wait to see where it goes.

Random observation: This is the fourth current show I love that takes place in my least favorite state, Florida. Huh.

* Note: This is a good thing. Some people who know me quite well were surprised last night when I said Goodfellas was one of my top five movies of all time, so I figured I should clarify.

No, there's no West Wing reunion movie, but...

...and yes, I really am just writing posts based on the things people are Googling to get here. But clearly this means PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW, right?

Anyway, there were rumors going around Twitter of a West Wing reunion movie. That was a joke. I'm just assuming Josh Malina is responsible, since that's his sort of thing . . . and yes, actually, just checked and that's true.

But. But! All is not lost! There IS some sort of West Wing reunion Funny or Die production coming soon! (For those not familiar with the site, they make funny online videos, generally of pretty high quality.) It involves at least Malina, Dule Hill, Allison Janney, Martin Sheen, Melissa Fitzgerald, and William Duffy. I will, of course, let you know when the video is live.

Morning Coffee (4/6/12)

Good morning! This will be quick because I have to finish packing to visit my family for Easter.

Shameless bragging: We won!

As a former bookseller, I can tell you these euphemisms are right on.

TARDIS corset!

Josh Charles has a supporting role in the new movie adaptation of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." I don't actually remember that character from the story, but wheee! I'd also forgotten that that story takes place in the city where I spent the first eight years of my life.

Oh no! Vanilla shortage?

This is the best story you will read today. Really. Trust me. Just click.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Morning Coffee (4/5/12)

My new habit this week seems to be staying up WAY TOO LATE. I really should stop that.

I'm really looking forward to Scandal, the new Shonda Rhimes DC fixer show that starts tonight. Here's Sepinwall's review.

New timesuck for book lovers: Small Demons

Um. Help write the next "great" Nicholas Sparks book. Okay, I inserted the quotes around "great" myself.

YA author Claire Legrand is a recent West Wing convert, and has a really nice post about it.

Yes, Ryan Gosling saved a woman from being hit by a taxi, but you should read what she has to say about it.

10 reasons I don’t give Santorum the benefit of the doubt about saying the n-word

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Fifty Shades of Grey

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

TV Trailer: Bunheads

Dancing! Sutton Foster! Kelly Bishop! From the creator of Gilmore Girls! I can't wait. Bunheads premieres on June 11 on ABC Family.

The Problem of Fairly Legal

As you know, I'm a big fan of USA Network's original shows, but Fairly Legal has frustrated me and still, a few episodes into the second season, I haven't quite managed to buy into it. A few days ago I had a conversation along these lines with a critic friend:
Me: I'm still watching Fairly Legal, but it definitely has some issues.
Her: No, it's just bad.
Me: But . . . Michael Trucco!
Her: It's just really bad.
me: But . . . Michael Trucco shirtless.
Seriously, though, I wouldn't watch a show I hated just for shirtless hot guys. I keep watching Fairly Legal because I'm stubbornly convinced that beneath the obnoxious, studied quirkiness, the show is actually talking about some interesting ideas.

How do you rebuild when your father dies and your marriage ends, but you still have to see your father's widow and your ex-husband every day? When everyone you encounter, personally or professionally, knows all about it and won't stop talking about it? When your entire identity is based on your ability to solve everyone's problems, but you have no idea what to do about your own?

What happens when two women take over the business started by a beloved patriarch and no one wants to take them seriously? When the supposed trophy wife becomes the highly capable CEO, but the entire client base refuses to see it because it would make them question their worldview? When your wicked stepmother becomes your business partner and you have to acknowledge that she's actually a person?

Or when your boss makes you so righteously angry that you declare you're running for his job, but then have to keep working under him during the campaign? And when your ex-wife is right there, all the time, asking for favors and doing things that reflect on you and your campaign even though she shouldn't be involved? And when you know perfectly well that you're still in love with each other, but also that there were reasons why it didn't work the first time?

And none of that even gets into the supposed fundamental question of the show: Is the law ever fair? Does it matter? Is it more important to expose the truth or to find solutions that satisfy everyone? Is there some universal moral standard, and does that supersede what anyone - or everyone - involved in an issue actually wants? If everyone's happy, have you won, regardless of the actual outcome?

Fairly Legal could be examining these questions while keeping the atmosphere light enough for the network, the way slick, pretty hijinks are mixed with questions of honor and loyalty on Burn Notice or shades-of-gray morality on White Collar. But that's not the show that's actually on the air, and the question, I suppose, is whether it wants to be that show. If it could stop trying to make Sarah Shahi into Zooey Deschanel and stop over-writing everyone's lines long enough to let us hear what's actually being said, it would be off to a good start.

Matt Bomer & Darren Criss Duet: "Somebody That I Used to Know"

I'm still cursing Glee for pulling me back in, even just for one episode, by casting one of my favorite actors, but WHATEVER. Look, it's Matt Bomer singing. You want to see this.

Now that will probably be in your head all day, too. Sorry. (I woke up singing it.) The episode airs next Tuesday, April 10.

(Via GMMR.)

Morning Coffee (4/4/12)

It's one of those weeks that feels like it should be short because there's a holiday coming up, but . . . it isn't.

Today in President Obama Being Awesome: Introducing To Kill a Mockingbird; hanging out being dorky with Nichelle Nichols.

The Beatles: TNG?

Neil Patrick Harris is hosting the Tony Awards again, thank goodness.

Sarah Burton: Awesome.

The Bones baby announcement is the cutest thing ever.

What the World Was Like the First Time Titanic Was in Theaters

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Castle "The Limey" Guest Star FAQ

I'm getting hits from people Googling things of this nature, so let me make this easy for you:

Who was the British man who guest starred on Castle last night?

Well, there were two. Sort of. The actually-British older man was Charles Shaughnessy. (He played the suspect who worked at the consulate.) But you probably mean the Scotland Yard detective. That was Brett Tucker. Yes, he's actually Australian. Which brings us to . . .

Castle Scotland Yard Australian accent

Indeed, Googler, indeed. Tucker is Australian, but the character, Colin Hunt, was definitely supposed to be British. He said he grew up in working-class London and later went to Eton (on scholarship) and tried to fit in. My guess is that the accent was an Australian trying to sound like a Londoner trying to sound posh. It wasn't . . . an entirely successful attempt. I actually thought his Brit-trying-to-sound-American accent when he was impersonating Jack Bauer (did you catch that?) was better. Or he can keep standing around in a towel, and I'll stop criticizing his accent, promise.

Gossip Girl Review: The King & Queen of Overthinking

I'll admit I'm a little gobsmacked, both by how entirely Gossip Girl has convinced me to buy into the Dan/Blair relationship and by how obvious it all seems in retrospect. But first, about the events of last night's "Con-Heir:" Of course after planning for weeks and thinking about it for weeks/months/years and making it into this big huge Thing, of course the sex was going to be bad the first time. And of course Blair would go to Dorota, because she literally has no one else she can be honest with, and of course Dan would go to Nate, and see it as a plus for this conversation that Nate had also slept with Blair. (Random: This scene made me wonder if Dan knows Blair actually slept with Chuck first, not Nate.) But the real issue is just that they're overthinking things, as they both always do. Blair's always trying to make her life into the movie in her head, and Dan literally makes his life into novels, and it makes perfect sense that they'd have to get drunk to get out of their own heads enough to actually enjoy each other. This tendency to overthink is one of the reasons why they're so compatible, but also will be one of their big challenges in making their relationship work.

I know everything's always screwball comedies and old movies with them, but what I kept actually thinking last night was that they were both awfully proud and awfully prejudiced and had to get over that to realize they loved each other. But once they did, it's just so obvious that they work. They're the most bookish characters on the show, and certainly have a lot more to talk about to each other than pretty much anyone else. For Dan, Blair is basically a combination of the best parts of Serena and Vanessa - she has Serena's mystique and worldliness but actually shares his intellectual interests the way Vanessa did. (Without, you know, being the worst the way Vanessa was.)

And for Blair . . . oh, Blair. She's supposed to be the big schemer, but at least some of that is a response to the way she's been used as property and as a pawn her whole life. When she was sixteen, her boyfriend was ready to propose because his father wanted her mother's business. A few years later, another boyfriend traded her to his uncle for a hotel. A few years after that, her husband announced at their wedding that he would either use her as breeding stock or ruin her family. Of course what she needs is Dan, the man who has an unquestioned place in her social world but who makes a big show of wanting nothing to do with it. Blair may claim to hate his Brooklyn loft, but knowing that he's not using her as a tool in the unending econo-social power struggle of the Upper East Side must be a relief. Dan claims to hate the UES and Blair claims to love it, but underneath that they both have love/hate relationships with that world, and it should be interesting to see how that plays out.

(There's also the fact that Blair keeps dating Lily's stepsons; as she was growing up as Serena's best friend, Blair must have had Lily as the model of a mother both [somewhat] more involved and [much] less demanding than her own.)

Other observations:
1) I love Businessman Nate, and the way the show has handled his evolution into a really decent adult.
2) Jack Bass is one of those delightful love-to-hate-him villains, and I wish he'd be around more.
3) I can barely bring myself to follow, never mind care about, the Lola/Ivy/inheritance/whatever plotline, but at least it's not as horrifically annoying as some of the show's past distractions. If we can't just alternate between Nate having business meetings and Dan and Blair bantering/having sex in elevators, then fine, Lola/Ivy it is.
4) They remembered Chuck has a mother! Good job, show!

Castle Review: Can we keep the hot British guy?

Brett Tucker guest starred as a Scotland Yard detective on Castle's "The Limey" last night, and he was pretty delightful, even if his accent was confusing. (The actor is Australian, and he was playing a working-class Londoner trying to fit in with Eton types, and it wound up as kind of a mess.) I don't want to keep him around for Beckett or anything. Just, you know, as set decoration.

ANYWAY. This episode, like the last one, was a little difficult to watch, but I basically think everyone should calm down. I'm seeing a surprising number of fans who think the past two episodes mean that Castle and Beckett will never get together, when in fact I'm pretty sure that the fact that the show is starting to deal with the issue at ALL instead of just ignoring it means we're closer than ever. Andrew Marlowe has said from the beginning that they will get together and that he has a plan, and I'm willing to trust him on that.

I agree that Castle and Beckett are both acting in extremely frustrating ways, but I think they're both acting in character, so it works for me. They aren't together, so Castle isn't betraying her or cheating on her or anything like that. He's trying to convince himself and everyone around him that he's fine, that he can go back to his old ways, that he doesn't need something deeper. He's protesting too much. And Beckett, well, she's lost so much. It makes sense that her fear of losing Castle is stronger than her hope that she could have more.

When a character speaks for the audience, it often seems contrived, but I thought Lanie's scenes were quite good and believable, and she's exactly the right person to give Beckett a push. And her speech reinforced my impression that the writers know they've almost run out of believable obstacles and audience goodwill. (I know most fans are much less patient with this sort of thing than I am.) Part of me would still be surprised if Castle and Beckett actually get together in the finale, but part of me is starting to almost believe it. Either way, there's enough actual progress happening - or movement, at least, if not exactly forward progress - to keep me believing in the show and the plan.

Bones Review: Happy Birthday!

Well, that was quite a return for Bones with last night's "The Prisoner in the Pipe." There was, you know, a murder or something, but let's be frank: No one cares about that this week. More importantly, there was a baby, and the whole thing was handled fairly well. I'm very impressed by how good a job the show has done of getting Booth and Brennan together, and the earlier parts of last night's episode provided some good examples of both of them learning to compromise while remaining in character, which gave me hope both for this show (which has already been renewed for season 8) and others doing the will they/won't they dance. I especially like when the show remembers that Booth is Catholic, as I think that's both one of the most interesting and most fundamental things about his character.

And then in the latter parts of the episode, Brennan kept doing things that made me yell, because they were so extreme as to be out of character and obvious just inserted for cheap dramatic tension. Wandering into the prison was so dumb. First of all, even if her contention that prisoners wouldn't hurt a pregnant woman were true, Brennan should know darn well that general anthropological principles don't predict the behavior of individuals in specific situations. And second, even if she were definitely, 100% safe in that environment, Booth certainly was not, and Brennan certainly knows him well enough to know that he would follow her in no matter what.

And the whole birth thing . . . oh, whatever. It was ridiculous on so many levels! Booth could certainly have driven another ten miles in the time they spent arguing with the innkeeper. Labor was ridiculously quick anyway. Brennan, so concerned about sterile environments this very episode, would not have been so okay with the barn thing, and probably would have declared the backseat of the car a better option. Booth should have called a freaking ambulance as soon as he realized they weren't going to make it farther. Brennan should not have been up and about so quickly. They presumably went to a hospital at some point, because by the end the baby had clothes and a hat, but they should not have wound up home that same day.

But, you know, whatever. BOOTH AND BRENNAN HAVE A BABY, and this whole created family around them, and this show has come so far and accomplished so much, and I may have been a little teary by the end. And now, show, you've got two working mothers of young children, and the chance to actually do a good job with that, please. Welcome to the world, Christine Angela. I hope they stop calling you Stapes soon.

The Good Wife Promo: Welcome Back to the Dark Side

We don't get a new episode of The Good Wife for a few weeks yet, but this fairly grim new promo for the last three episodes of the season (!) highlights what the show is best at: examining the intersection of public and private lives and the use of both - and everything else - in an eternal struggle for power, again both public and private. But let's be frank: The really exciting thing here is the suggestion that Cary and his smirk and his pretty pretty suits may return to the dark side. Wheeee.

(The song, if you're wondering, is Jose Gonzalez's "Down the Line.")

Morning Coffee (4/3/12)

Good morning! In case you missed it last night, I wrote something of a spoiler manifesto.

Wildly exciting for, um, a few of us: The first pictures of Bradley Whitford on the set of his new pilot.

Sexist creep of the day: Lee Aronsohn

Copper sounds like it will be really good. I hope.

The Ten Most Sorkin Things in the Trailer for The Newsroom

Parents are getting their kids' writing self-published. Maureen Johnson responds.

A Hunger Games-themed wedding? Um. Romantic?

Monday, April 2, 2012

New Spoiler Policy (& Rant)

Maybe it's just my contrarian side slipping through, but today, somewhere between seeing someone upset about plot details from last season mentioned in an article about Game of Thrones and reading yet another tantrum about people discussing the plot of an upcoming movie based on a book that's been out for years, I snapped. This is ridiculous. It's great that the Internet and social media mean that pretty much anyone can participate in the critical conversation about TV, movies, etc., but the flip side is that everyone seems to think the conversation should cater to them. And it's just not sustainable. "Spoiler warnings" are being posted more and more, and people are complaining more and more anyway, and discourse just cannot happen if everyone who writes or tweets is expected to magically know whether anyone in their prospective audience might be watching a day or week or year behind. No. No more.

Also: We've lost the definition of "spoiler," anyway. If something has already aired, it is not a spoiler. Sure, if you're going to talk about something you've seen from a forthcoming episode, from a screener or leaked script or what-have-you, then yes, that's a spoiler! Warn people! I am completely for that! That is completely reasonable!

What I'm objecting to are the perpetual warnings about things that have already aired. So, new policy: I will not post or tweet spoilers until the West Coast airing of a show.* Since I go to bed at a reasonable hour (most of the time), for me, this effectively means the next morning. And, you know, I don't tend to tweet a lot of spoilers anyway. This will not be a huge change. It does mean that if I tweet a link to a post about a show, it may contain plot details, so, you know, don't click if you don't want to know!

And to clarify a popular objection: I am not demanding that everyone be caught up on everything. No way. I'm behind on more shows than most people watch at all. What I'm saying is that you can't be behind and participate in the conversation and make a fuss if you find out things you didn't want to know. There are three ways to avoid this: Catch up. Or take yourself out of the conversation for a while. (Don't read reviews or follow people you know will livetweet!) Or just live with the spoilers and don't complain about it. Any of those solutions work fine. (I am thoroughly spoiled on several shows on which I'm seasons behind. For me, this makes catching up much more fun. Something to consider.)

While we're at it, a short list of things that are not spoilers:
1. Plot details of books on which shows or movies are based.
2. Casting news.
3. Quotes or general impressions that do not give plot details.
4. Anything in a promo aired by the network itself.
ADDED: 5. If the book has been published, it's not a spoiler. (I try to be consistent.)
What am I missing from the list? Am I being unreasonable and contrary? Do you all hate me now? Anyone want to join me in my brave new spoiler-warning-free world?

* Note: I'm just talking about this blog and my personal Twitter account. Policy is not changing for or any other site I write for.

TV Trailer: The Newsroom

Season two of Game of Thrones premiered last night, and I should probably say something about that at some point, actually, but let's be honest: Once they showed the first trailer for their new Aaron Sorkin show The Newsroom, I could barely bring myself to care about anything else all night. Critic Alan Sepinwall referred to it as "Let Sorkin Be Sorkin," and while some seem to think it looks too Sorkiny... to me, there's basically no such thing. I am so excited about this:

First, did you notice the "You Didn't Have to Be So Nice" motif in the instrumentals? HAH! Second, we've almost got Sorkin Bingo right there in the trailer, except maybe for Daddy Issues, and I'm sure those will show up soon enough. Third, is there going to have to be less semi-requited longing than on previous Sorkin shows, to meet the HBO sex quota? Hmm. And fourth, IS IT JUNE YET?

Reminder: Bones Returns TONIGHT!

Just a reminder for any Bones fans who somehow hadn't heard or had forgotten: The show is moving to Mondays, starting tonight. It will be on at 8/7c, and no, this move doesn't mean the show is in danger or anything - it's already been renewed for season eight. Best guess is that FOX wanted to give a new show, Touch, the Idol lead-in and figured Bones had an established fan base that would move. And if you ARE a fan at all, you REALLY don't want to miss tonight's episode - let's just say that I'm wearing my birthday-themed socks today in preparation for it.

Today may feel a little weird for procedural fans: Bones and Castle are now regularly scheduled on the same night (though not the same hour, thank goodness) and it feels SO ODD. (The shows have only ever aired new episodes on the same night once before, a one-off when Bones had some extra episodes to burn in April 2009.) At least they won't have their season finales the same night: Castle's is May 7 and Bones's is May 14.