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The best (and worst) commercials of 2014


Depending on your viewing habits, you can either see way too many or next to no commercials. Chances are you still see the good ones, though—probably on YouTube, probably sent to you by friends or family. But there are a lot of ads out there—it’s impossible to see every cool or interesting video made to sell you some bauble or another. Here are some of the ones we liked best—and a few we liked least.


This Week on Stage: Fantasia in the Jazz Age, Neil Patrick Harris serves up magic

November is shaping up to be the busiest in recent memory, but the hustle and bustle is costing Broadway a few shows. John Grisham’s A Time to Kill became A Time to Close with an end date of Nov. 17, and the Zachary Levi-Krysta Rodriguez musical rom-com First Date will have its last date on Jan. 5. With as-yet-unannounced premiere dates for shows like Tracy Letts’ Killer Joe (making a spring Broadway bow), Will Eno’s The Realistic Joneses (starring Michael C. Hall, Toni Collette, Marisa Tomei and…Letts — busy guy!) and Terrence McNally’s Mothers and Sons with Tyne Daly, it seems there are more productions than theaters to hold them. Stay tuned for which ones make the cut. Meanwhile, there have been a bevy of new openings, including Fantasia’s return to Broadway, Ed Harris and real-life spouse Amy Madigan in a new Beth Henley drama, a new play by Pulitzer winner Bruce Norris, Neil Patrick Harris directing a new magic show, and Julie Taymor’s major comeback (click on the links below for full reviews):

After Midnight  The Cotton Club era gets a jazzy jolt with this new Broadway revue already being called the sleeper hit of the season. Did senior editor Thom Geier share the enthusiasm? Ab-scat-lutely! “There are showstoppers aplenty in the ebullient new musical revue..After Midnight is a show that’s as light on its feet as its very talented ensemble.” EW grade: A-

The Black Suits Call it School of Rock with an age upgrade; Joe Iconis’ take on a high school rock band opened in L.A., but EW.com’s Laura Hertzfeld felt they could use a little more practice: “The Black Suits never gets deep enough into the roots of suburban angst to make you feel like these guys really have something to rage about — nor does it come up with light, frothy pop numbers that urge you to bop along.” EW grade: C+

Disaster!  Off Broadway gets invaded by killer bees, tidal waves, and disco-era hits in Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick’s wacky take on disaster movies. The show doesn’t hit any icebergs on the way to hilarity. As I write in my review, “It’s the perfect antidote to those lamenting the lack of Forbidden Broadway in their urban lives…scrappy but irresistible.” EW grade: B+

Domesticated  Jeff Goldblum and Laurie Metcalf star in Bruce Norris’ dark comedy about a disgraced politico and his put-upon wife weathering a Spitzer/Wiener/Good Wife-like scandal. Thom Geier had mixed feelings on this follow-up to the author’s Clybourne Park: “[Norris] strives to make a larger point about modern gender relations and the utility (and possibility) of male monogamy. But despite Anna D. Shapiro’s crisp, well-paced direction, Domesticated is better on caustic humor and verbal one-upmanship than real insight or character development.” EW grade: B

How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them  Actress Halley Feiffer takes a hand at playwriting in a new work at Off Broadway’s Rattlestick Theatre, but Stephan Lee firmly believed she may want to hone her craft a little more. “How to Make Friends and Then Kill Them opens with three girls shrieking at the top of their lungs, and over the next 90 minutes, they never really stop.” EW grade: C

The Jacksonian  Staff writer Keith Staskiewicz took a look at the NYC premiere of Beth Henley’s eerie Southern drama about a motel barkeep (Bill Pullman) corralling his oddball patrons (including multiple Oscar nominee Ed Harris). “Robert Falls’ eerie direction has more than a hint of David Lynch…here’s a healthy vein of black humor running throughout which turns Henley’s Southern Gothic soap opera into an even more surreal experience.” EW grade: B+

La Soiree  The naughty burlesque revue — already a hit in Europe — settles in downtown NYC to make the city blush. Marc Snetiker was among those wooed by the circus-like, raunchy fun. “There is an abundance of charm oozing from the cast, who each exude a gleeful passion for their talent (be it sexy, silly, or downright strange). If traditional circus isn’t your thing, you’re in luck.” EW grade: A-

A Midsummer Night’s Dream  Visual stylist Julie Taymor trades Spidey for fairies with an opulent new version of the Shakespeare comedy, the inaugural production at Theatre for a New Audience’s new Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn. Thom Geier found himself much enchanted by Taymor’s reborn ingenuity: “There’s a magnificent muchness of her approach to the Bard’s most durable of comedies, as she tosses in everything from pillow fights to a grass-upholstered reclining chair to achieve her vision. But remarkably, this Midsummer never tips over into a too-muchness.” EW grade: A-

Nothing to Hide  It’s no secret that beloved star Neil Patrick Harris likes magic, but he’s fan of his peers too, and decided to helm a new 70-minute variety show featuring upstart showmen Derek DelGaudio and Helder Guimarães. Did Hillary Busis surrender to the sleight of hands? “[The performers are] clever, surprising, and altogether incredible, in both the literal and figurative senses.” EW grade: A-

This Week on Stage: Brad Pitt joins Prop 8 reading, Justin Long to make Broadway debut; plus 'Carrie' Off Broadway

Hollywood’s budding love affair with Broadway just continues to grow, doesn’t it? Justin Long is set to join Jeff Goldblum in the comedy Seminar when the Alan Rickman-led cast exits on April 1. Brad Pitt joined the star-studded reading of 8, the Proposition 8 play by Dustin Lance Black which already includes names like Clooney and Sheen (Martin, not Charlie). Beloved book-turned-children’s film Matilda is headed to Broadway following an acclaimed run in London’s West End. Even Hollywood insiders got in on the action with the opening of Assistance (pictured above), an Off Broadway play penned by Harvey Weinstein’s former personal assistant (EW has the Q+A here). EW’s critics took in that and two other Off Broadway shows in this week:

Senior editor Thom Geier flashed back to the 1980s at the MCC Theater’s new revival of Michael Gore’s musical adaptation of Carrie – yes, that Carrie. The original 1998 Broadway production was a famous flop, so how did the new cast of blood-drenched high schoolers fare? “Underwhelming” and “robbed of any sense of fun,” wrote Geier, giving the over-the-top story a lowly C.

Writer Melissa Rose Bernardo got a healthy dose of Hollywood realism from Assistance, Leslye Headland’s “sharp, punchy comedy” about the unfortunate souls who toil for an unseen figure that bears a striking resemblance to Headland’s former boss, movie-studio chief Harvey Weinstein. EW awarded the show a B+, praising Headland’s “snappy, stylish script” and her “enviable gift for making hollow, slightly despicable characters oddly appealing.”

Bernardo also took a visit to the intimate Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre for Hurt Village, a “sprawling, cacophonous elegy on Dubya-era life in a Memphis, Tenn., housing project.” She praised the script by The Mountaintop playwright Katori Hall, as well as standout cast members Tonya Pinkins (“incredible”) and 23-year-old Joaquina Kalukango (“a star-making performance”). The drama scored a B+.

For more stage news and reviews, check out EW.com’s stage hub.

Justin Long to make Broadway debut alongside Jeff Goldblum in 'Seminar'

Justin Long will make his Broadway debut in the hit comedy Seminar alongside fellow incoming star Jeff Goldblum as a new cast replaces the current ensemble–led by Alan Rickman–on April 3.

Long (Ed, He’s Just Not That Into You) will assume the role of Martin, one of four aspiring young novelists who signs up for a private writing seminar with Leonard (currently played by Rickman), a brilliant and recklessly unorthodox teacher who has some harsh critiques for his class of misfit writers. The play was written by Theresa Rebeck (who created NBC’s Smash).

Goldblum is set to replace Rickman in the lead role, with Long and a trio of as yet unannounced actors joining. Hamish Linklater, who currently plays Martin, will exit the show on April 1 along with the entire original cast consisting of Rickman, Lily Rabe, Jerry O’Connell and Hettienne Park.

Seminar currently runs on Broadway at the Golden Theatre.

Read more:
Jeff Goldblum to replace Alan Rickman in Broadway’s ‘Seminar’
This Week on Stage: Woody Allen’s musical and Rufus Wainwright’s opera


Jeff Goldblum to replace Alan Rickman in Broadway's 'Seminar'

Jeff Goldblum will be joining the cast of the Broadway comedy Seminar, stepping into the lead role of jaded teacher Leonard, currently played by Alan Rickman, who will depart the show on April 1.

Goldblum will take over the role for eight weeks, starting April 3. He unofficially revealed his involvement with the show on the February 13 episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and a press release today confirmed the announcement. Goldblum returns to Broadway after having previously appeared in Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman in 2006, as well as London productions of Speed-the-Plow and The Prisoner of Second Avenue, opposite Kevin Spacey.

In Seminar, written by Theresa Rebeck (the creator of NBC’s Smash), “four aspiring young novelists sign up for private writing classes with Leonard, an international literary figure.  Under his recklessly brilliant and unorthodox instruction, some thrive and others flounder, alliances are made and broken, sex is used as a weapon and hearts are unmoored.  The wordplay is not the only thing that turns vicious as innocence collides with experience in this provocative new comedy.”

Seminar currently runs on Broadway at the Golden Theatre and stars Rickman, Lily Rabe, Hamish Linklater, Jerry O’Connell, and Hettienne Park. Additional casting with Goldblum will be announced soon.

Goldblum will appear on tonight’s Valentine’s Day episode of Glee as Hiram, one of the two fathers of Lea Michele’s character Rachel.

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