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Tag: Best of 2012 (14-26 of 39)

Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): 'Game Change' (and 'Mockingjay') writer Danny Strong on his biggest year

Don’t fret, Buffy and Gilmore Girls fans. The guy behind lovable nerds Jonathan Levinson and Doyle McMaster hasn’t completely bid acting farewell. These days, though, Danny Strong is much busier working behind the camera, penning the scripts to Emmy Award-winning HBO movies (like this year’s Game Change), a Forest Whitaker flick lovingly nicknamed “the black Forrest Gump” (The Butler, out in 2013), and the last two films in the Hunger Games franchise (Mockingjay, parts one and two). Suffice it to say, Strong has had a good year. Here’s how he went from character actor to Hollywood’s hottest screenwriter.

For more stories behind this year’s top TV and movie moments, click here for EW.com’s Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes) coverageREAD FULL STORY

Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): Drowning Elena on 'The Vampire Diaries'

In the May season 3 finale of The Vampire Diaries, Nina Dobrev did some of the finest underwater acting ever in not one, but two drowning scenes — one that flashed back to the night Elena’s parents died and Stefan rescued her, and one in which Elena died after demanding that Stefan save Matt. Here, supervising producer Chris Grismer, who helped episode director John Behring helm the chill-inducing underwater sequence shot over three days, takes us inside the scene that changed the show forever. For more stories behind this year’s top TV and movie moments, click here for EW.com’s Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes) coverage.

As told by: Chris Grismer

I started the actors training for the scene about two months before we shot. They had to train every weekend with dive instructors. Nina Dobrev was already PADI-certified, but those who weren’t had to become. They also had to learn how to act underwater for a long period of time without air: They had to learn how to do a scene and then get air between takes from a safety diver, who was never more than five or six feet away, instead of coming back up to the surface, which I think was pretty terrifying for them. Some of them wanted to swim to the surface between takes, and I had to explain to them that if you start at the surface and swim 20 feet down, you’re kinda almost out of air by the time we say “action.” [Laughs] And then they had to learn how to do it in an enclosed space. I don’t know if you’ve ever been underwater in an enclosed space, but your body just doesn’t want you in there. The actors have to be pretty brave and pretty strong. Nina Dobrev took to it so unbelievably well. She was amazing. I think in the first two weeks, I saw some video of her inside pretending to panic, and I was just blown away by it.  READ FULL STORY

Best of 2012: Did that really just happen? TV plot twists

Deaths, daddy issues, and a “Did she just do that?!” moment. These five single moments had lasting effects on their shows — and their shocked viewers. READ FULL STORY

Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): Matthew Weiner and Jessica Pare on 'Zou Bisou Bisou,' the '60s tune that kept 'Mad Men' humming

When Matthew Weiner cast Montreal native Jessica Paré as a pretty assistant at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, only a few people knew that she would eventually become Mrs. Don Draper. Initially, Paré was not one of those few, so even after a moon-eyed Draper proposed to her during the final episode of season 4, she understood that her next scene could very easily include her resting peacefully in a casket. But Weiner had other ideas, and in the long-awaited season 5 premiere, he unveiled a whole new show dynamic, with Don and Megan’s relationship at the heart of it. “I said it as a joke, but the story of the season for me is that Don and Megan are soul mates,” says Weiner. “They are one person and that person is Don. And right in that first episode, there’s a line from Roger where he says, ‘They’re all great until they want something.’ As soon as Megan starts to separate from him by rejecting advertising and pursuing her acting career, it’s very hard on them. It’s very hard on him.”

In that two-hour premiere, titled “A Little Kiss,” the seeds of the season’s tension were ingeniously planted with one amazingly hypnotic song and dance number. Harry Crane wasn’t the only member of the audience who was mesmerized by Paré’s sexy rendition of Gillian Hills’ playful 1960 single. “Zou Bisou Bisou” was practically trending online before the episode concluded, and the catchy tune would reverberate for weeks. Below, Weiner reflects on the kernel of the idea that sprouted into an unforgettable moment for the Emmy-winning AMC drama, and Paré describes the terrifying challenge of bringing it to the screen.

For more stories behind this year’s top moments, click here for TV and here for movies.

MATTHEW WEINER: It would be a lie to say there wasn’t a showmanship aspect to it. We’d been off the air for 17 months — against my will — and I really wanted to make sure that we gave the audience some bang for their buck. It wasn’t the major thing, but it’s certainly where some of it came from. For me, the origin of the idea was that Don had proposed to this woman, and the audience didn’t even know if he was going to marry her. And the audience didn’t know anything about her. And I kind of wanted to give her a character moment, especially if the whole season was going to be about their relationship and what it meant to Don — to sort of introduce her to the audience and to the other characters through her personality. What I thought was, it’s one of the old saws of all entertainment — the surprise birthday party — and I loved the idea that this woman was very different from the people at the office. That she was younger, that she had a different set of rules, that she was more fun-loving, that she was extroverted, and that Don’s intense, almost-pathological privacy was going to be broken by this woman’s personality. She is throwing the surprise party — which means he has no say in it. No one knew at that time she was going to become an actress, so what better time to show her do this song for him, in front of all his “friends.” I mean, it was story: this is who this woman is. I think people thought that the whole story was going to be about him hiding his past from her, but you find out right there and then that she knows it all. So where is the show going to go? Well, whether you realize it or not in that episode, you just witnessed the major conflict in their relationship. That she has her own personality and Don can’t control it. She is expressing her sexuality out in front of everyone.

I love music from this period. I didn’t know it was a genre, but I was raised on a lot of light French movies. There was a lot of this music in the Pink Panther movies and things like that, American movies with a little bit of European flair to them. So I was looking for the right sort of sexy song for her to sing, and for some reason or another I found this song, realized I’d heard it before, and it just had the perfect mix of childishness and sexiness that made it a socially-appropriate strip tease. The other thing was I wanted it to feel like a real person doing it. I didn’t want it to feel like it was some big, rehearsed choreographed number. I wanted to feel like it was somebody who had just sort of practiced it a few times in their house and had the guts to do it. READ FULL STORY

Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): Inside Kristen Wiig's enchanting last dance on 'SNL'

After seven seasons on Saturday Night Live, Kristen Wiig said goodbye on May 19. She’d co-written and starred in the surprise 2011 blockbuster Bridesmaids and the time had come, just as it had for stars like Chevy and Eddie and Will before her. SNL godfather Lorne Michaels called her one of the “top three or four” performers the show had ever produced, and during her reign, the show was dominated by sketches filled with the likes of the Target Lady, tiny-handed Dooneese, and compulsive one-upper Penelope.

Colin Jost started writing for Saturday Night Live in 2005, the same year that Wiig began as a featured player. They connected creatively and ultimately collaborated on several sketches, including some of her Björk bits and a commercial parody for Red Flag perfume. With Mick Jagger hosting the season finale, Jost assumed the responsibility of sending her off in style. The premise he came up with could not have been more simple — Jagger bidding farewell to an honored “graduate” with an impromptu dance  — but when each cast member cut in to share one last moment while Arcade Fire played the Stones’ “She’s a Rainbow,” the effect was magical.

For more stories behind this year’s top TV and movie moments, click here for EW.com’s Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes) coverage.

As told by: Colin Jost

I don’t think I raised the bar in any way. I think people find different ways of saying goodbye or people find different ways of saying goodbye to them. I remember when Will Ferrell left, he had a really funny documentary where people talked about Will, and Tracy Morgan talks about how Will Ferrell stole from him and [says] really mean stuff. I remember that Tina [Fey] and Jimmy [Fallon] had done one that was like a “Summer Lovin” from Grease kind of farewell. So people have different ways of doing it, and I think this is just one of them. READ FULL STORY

Best of 2012: The couples we're shipping

Shipping is a time-honored tradition when it comes to the couples that populate our televisions. Here are our favorite twosomes that we rooted for in 2012.

Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Elena (Nina Dobrev), The Vampire Diaries

In the epic ongoing battle of which Salvatore brother is worthy of Elena Gilbert, the scales seemed to finally be even after Elena became a vampire and Damon accepted her darker tendencies while boyfriend Stefan (Paul Wesley) wanted to “fix her.” After breaking up with Stefan, Elena had sex with Damon in the Nov. 29 episode — but wait! Stefan thinks Elena has a rare sire bond to Damon, whose blood made her a vampire, and that’s why her feelings for him intensified — out of obligation, not love. And so the triangle continues…

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Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): Madeleine Stowe looks back at the 'Revenge' season 1 finale

In EW.com’s annual season finale awards last May, Revenge‘s Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe) earned the title of Best (Presumed) Death. Here, in an excerpt from an interview originally published during Emmy season, Stowe talks that moment.

MADELEINE STOWE: Really, what I liked, if there is a single moment, it’s the particular scene in the finale that is entirely silent. It was really kind of spectacular for tying in the entire story. The scene begins with this incredible crane shot that our director did that starts at the side of the plane and booms up, and you see these cars driving up to this plane. There was a great sense of fatalism there. I think it’s an incredibly compelling way to close the story. It’s very interesting because the initial idea was to just have a car roll up and you don’t see anything. And then you cut to a report. I said to Mike [Kelley, show creator], it would be much more interesting if you actually see Victoria walking to what could be her death and having to make that choice, knowing all the warnings and everything else. I had long discussions with the director about that approach, and we thought it would be wonderful if you saw most of it on her back, approaching the plane! [Laughs] She looks up the plane, and for me that moment was all about the character finding the truth, determined to go through with it and try to repair the horrible damage she created.

(Watch the scene here!)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: And what a great choice in wardrobe, wearing all white!
To me, everything you put on has a meaning. And initially, the cinematographer and the director saw her all in black, but [I suggested] ivory, because to me it was about purification. It ended up working really well. I love long pieces of storytelling without dialogue. And then the camera goes into Charlotte, which is really compelling and heartbreaking. Then Conrad burning these photographs and coming apart because he knows what he’s done. And the show ending on Emily, who is sitting in shock. All these things that Emily has put into motion have failed miserably. There are serious consequences here.

Did people ask you on the street if you were dead?
I’m going to be really honest about this: When this was shot and when it was written, there was not an indication whether the show was going to be picked up. If the show wasn’t going to be picked up, it was a spectacular way to end that story, with no resolution whatsoever for anybody, the idea that revenge just brings terrible things to people. And I thought, if the series didn’t go forward — we were all talking about this — what a great way to end it! You’re talking about Victoria’s death, the ramifications on her children, and the things that Conrad did. Everything spiraled of control and Emily is left with nothing.

Related:
More of EW.com’s Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes) coverage
‘Revenge’ season finale: Creator Mike Kelley answers burning questions!

Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): The making of 'Frozen Planet'

In March, Discovery debuted Frozen Planet, a breathtaking polar exploration series from the makers of Planet Earth and Life. During four years of production, the temperatures went as low as -58°F and the winds as high as 148 miles per hour. In total, the crew spent 2,356 days in the field, 840 hours trapped in blizzards, and 134 hours filming under the ice to capture jaw-dropping footage like the killer whale “wave wash” behavior in which orcas swim in a line to make waves that knock a seal off an ice floe, and a pack of 25 patient wolves working together to separate a bison from its herd. Below is our interview with series producer Vanessa Berlowitz and director Chadden Hunter, originally published in two parts. For more stories behind this year’s top TV and movie moments, click here for EW.com’s Best of 2012: Behind the Scenes coverage. READ FULL STORY

Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): Defining 'Deadliest Catch'

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Image Credit: Michael Muller/Discovery Channel

Back in April, Discovery's Deadliest Catch returned with a season 8 premiere that also marked the Emmy-winning series' 100th episode. Teasing the season ahead, exec producer Thom Beers reported that we'd see one man go overboard -- at the dock. “The last time that happened it was to Johnathan Hillstrand [in season 4]

,” Beers recalled. “They decided to celebrate Halloween early because they’d be at sea, and Johnathan was pretty hammered. One of the crewmen was dressed as Spider-Man, and Johnathan says, ‘All I remember was Spider-Man reaching down and pulling me out of the ocean.’ Just the insanity of it,” he said, laughing. “When this show is really working, it reminds me of that scene in Apocalypse Now, when the bullets and fireworks are going off and it’s completely insane and Martin Sheen says, ‘Who’s the commanding officer here?’ and the guy looks at him and says, ‘Ain’t it you?’ When this show’s working, you have no idea who’s in charge.” While Season 8 had its share of serious drama — remember this greenhorn medical emergency on the Wizard — we seized the opportunity to have Beers name the five moments that defined the show over the years.

For more stories behind this year’s top TV and movie moments, click here for EW.com’s Best of 2012: Behind the Scenes coverage. READ FULL STORY

Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): Filming the all-American family feud 'Hatfields & McCoys' in Romania

The conclusion of History’s miniseries Hatfields & McCoys, starring Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton as the patriarchs at the center of America’s most famous family feud, became the No. 1 entertainment telecast of all time on ad-supported cable and the recipient of 16 Emmy nominations. Here, in an excerpt from a piece originally published as the miniseries hit Blu-ray, Paxton takes us inside filming. For more stories behind this year’s top TV and movie moments, click here for EW.com’s Best of 2012: Behind the Scenes coverage.

Bill Paxton credits Kevin Costner with convincing him to take the part of Randall McCoy. “I had a little reservation because I was asked to play another patriarchal figure who was very religiously convicted, and I felt like I had been doing that on Big Love, and I remember calling Kevin. I was on vacation visiting my son, who was working at Martha’s Vineyard, and he was on the road somewhere, and we talked for 20 minutes. Now, I feel like I know him like a brother. But I never really spent more than 10 minutes with him before this. He goes, ‘Oh man, it’s old testament. We’re gonna be gettin’ to wear beards. It’s Civil War stuff.’ That really appealed to me. My great great grandfather on my paternal side died in Chancellorsville as a general under Stonewall Jackson. So it was a chance to go back and explore that part of my heritage,” Paxton says.

Though Paxton spent a couple of days in eastern Kentucky and West Virginia soaking up the accent and sights where the real feud took place, the miniseries was actually shot in Romania. “Transylvania was certainly an exotic location to be shooting Hatfields & McCoys in,” Paxton says, reenacting the Romanian film commands. “It’s tough to be away from home, but one great thing about location is it usually does bond the cast and the crew.” They stayed in a ski resort, where the big exteriors were shot. “A funny thing about it was Kevin was completely off book. And every time he’d run into an actor in the hallway or at the bar or something, he’d just go into a scene they were in together. And god, he’d put this person on the spot,” Paxton says, chuckling again. “I knew a few actors who started, like, if they saw him coming, they’d duck out of sight.”

Costner didn’t make Paxton nervous, but the horses did. “The horses were quite spirited. They were all studs, which was kind of unusual. American cowboys mostly don’t ride studs because by their very nature, they can be ornery and feisty and everything else. So I would gird myself up like a gladiator before I got on one of those horses. Under my outfit, I might have knee pads, elbow pads, a back brace. My ankles would be wrapped. I was prepared to go off the horse, and if I did go off, I wanted to be able to stand up again,” he says. “I had some very close calls, and early on, I had myself doubled in the wide shots because I thought, I’m not gonna make it through a 73-day shoot if I get hurt.”

The black powder weapons also made things interesting on set. “I had one of the weapons go off in my face, but it was kinda my own fault,” Paxton says. “I had to hit this guy with my rifle butt, and then pull my pistol out of my waistband and as I’m pulling it out, I’m cocking it back and then firing it in to this guy on the ground. But as I was pulling the pistol up past my face to get the long barrel out of my waistband, my thumb slipped and the weapon discharged, not pointed at my face but near my face. At one pont, the extra on the ground, this Romanian stunt guy, said, ‘Hey, you mind not pointing that at my head when you shoot me even though it’s a blank.’ I was like, ‘Oh god, sorry.'”

With an international cast and crew, there were always laughs. “I remember doing the scene with the little girl, who’s playing my daughter Roseanna, when I give her the button, and then all the sudden out of this girl’s mouth came, ‘It’s purty. Why you buy this for me?’ I looked up at the makeup guy, Mario [Michisanti], and I said I suddenly felt like I was doing a scene from The Exorcist. When the young priest’s mother’s dying, and he keeps seeing her in the subway and different places, and she’s going, ‘Dimmy, why you do this to me? Dimmy.’ That became a running joke. Mario got an Emmy nomination, too. I got a text from him, and I said, ‘”Why you do this to me, Dimmy?'”

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More of EW.com’s Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes) coverage

Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): Inside the Battle of the Blackwater

All season long we’d been teased that “War is Coming.” And then, it was finally time for Game of Thrones, the HBO hit that’s redefined fantasy television, to stage its first large-scale war sequence. Here, in an interview originally published in May, before “Blackwater” aired, Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss talk about the making of the eagerly anticipated episode, and how the hour was itself a battle to get produced. For more stories behind this year’s top TV and movie moments, click here for EW.com’s Best of 2012: Behind the Scenes coverage. READ FULL STORY

Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): How J.J. Abrams pitched 'Revolution'

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It started with two men sword fighting in front of a Starbucks.

Writer-producer Eric Kripke dreamed up that surreal image last summer. His previous series Supernatural was inspired by a similarly random mental snapshot — “a girl on the ceiling on fire.” Now he had this new idea, the coffee shop sword fight. Kripke didn’t know who the fighting men were or why they were using medieval weapons. He only knew he wanted to somehow take modern-day America and roll it back pre-industrial times, to write a quest story like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, only in a land peppered by freeways and fast food restaurants.

“I wanted to take everything I love about Lord of the Rings – swords and swashbuckling and quests and damsels in distress — put all that deep nerd fantasy stuff on the American highway,” Kripke says.

Here, in a piece originally published in November, is the story of what happened next.

For more stories behind this year’s top TV and movie moments, click here for EW.com’s Best of 2012: Behind the Scenes coverage.

Kripke he took the idea to primetime’s reigning master of big concepts, producer J.J. Abrams (Lost, Person of Interest), who saw the potential, particularly the inherent appeal of a back-to-basics rustic setting. “It’s wish fulfillment,” Abrams says. “We’re constantly being bombarded. It’s a silencing of the din that we live in right now.”

Moreover, Abrams says stripping away technology can help a show creatively, just like with the stranded island castaways on ABC’s Lost. “One of the things that’s difficult and frustrating about all the technology we have is it eliminates a lot of potential for drama,” Abrams says. “[Characters] can communicate instantly, they can research things, they can jump on a plane and be anywhere. Writers contort themselves to eliminate cell phones from scenes. And one of the beautiful byproducts of Kripke’s idea is that there’s no longer that immediate access.”

But Abrams didn’t like Kripke’s apocalyptic device for wiping out modern conveniences. Kripke originally wanted to have the country depopulated by a super virus. But that was deemed too familiar, too much like Stephen King’s The Stand. Instead, Abrams suggested an idea his company had been kicking around: Surviving the fallout of a nationwide blackout.

A few weeks later, the duo had a meeting at NBC’s Burbank offices.

Now if you’ve ever wondered how producers sell a TV show, pay attention to this next part.

NEXT: Inside Revolution’s pitch meeting, finding Miles, changing the title

NEXT PAGE>>

Best of 2012 (Behind the Scenes): How Kim Coates prepared for Tig's torment on 'Sons of Anarchy'

Since we know a lot of people are currently marathoning Sons of Anarchy from the beginning because of the buzz surrounding season 5, we’ll issue a SPOILER ALERT. Stop reading now if you haven’t watched SOA‘s season 5 premiere. In an excerpt from an article originally published in September, actor Kim Coates takes us inside Tig’s first run-in with Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau) — which found its way onto our list of the most disturbing TV scenes ever. For more stories behind this year’s top TV and movie moments, click here for EW.com’s Best of 2012: Behind the Scenes coverage. READ FULL STORY

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