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'Dexter' alum Jennifer Carpenter joins USA's Middle Eastern drama 'Stanistan'

Jennifer Carpenter may soon be returning to cable TV. The Dexter alum has been tapped to star in USA’s pilot Stanistan, EW has learned.

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Yes, Perd Hapley of 'Parks and Rec' was on 'Revenge' last night: We chat with TV's hardest-working fake newscaster

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Buried within Sunday’s crazypants Revenge finale was a glorious Easter egg for devoted TV watchers: a newscast delivered by none other than Perd Hapley, a.k.a. Pawnee, Indiana’s most beloved TV personality.

Well, sort of. Perd, of course, isn’t real — he’s played by Jay Jackson, who’s delivered fictional news reports on series including Scandal, DexterThe MentalistThe Closer, and Body of Proof, not to mention movies like Battleship and Fast Five. Look at Jackson’s IMDB page, in fact, and you’ll find that he’s played a reporter nearly every single time he’s appeared onscreen.

Why is that? Simple: Jay Jackson actually was a professional reporter for many years, with an impressive broadcast resume that includes stops at various local stations in Los Angeles and San Diego, as well as two prestigious Golden Mike awards. (He hasn’t, however, won an individual Emmy, despite what the Internet may have you believe: “I was part of a newscast that won a Best Newscast Emmy in 1997. Some reporters claim that as an Emmy win, but I don’t,” he explains to EW. “I think a promoter put that on a flyer some time ago and it’s just been going around.”)

How did Jackson go from real-life Ron Burgundy to fake newsman extraordinaire? EW called him to find out. READ FULL STORY

'Breaking Bad' vs. 'Dexter' finales: Was THIS the key difference?

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A dark serialized cable drama about a murderous criminal mastermind anti-hero who was hiding in plain sight aired its series finale this month — AMC’s Breaking Bad and Showtime’s Dexter. Fan reaction to the respective endings was, to say the least, extremely different.

Breaking Bad, as it has been all season, was greeted with effusive praise for its emotionally satisfying conclusion, even though the climax wasn’t quite as surprising as one might have expected. Dexter, as through most of its final season, was pilloried for a lack of realism and its characters making loopy choices, though the ending notably had some shocking moves.

The factors and variables that went into each episode, and the fan reactions, are too numerous to count. But if you were to cite one behind-the-scenes aspect … just one … there is something the producers of each show have said repeatedly about their creative methodology that is every bit as polarized as the fan reactions. READ FULL STORY

'Dexter' finale is Showtime's most-watched episode of anything ever

You may not have loved it. But you sure didn’t miss it.

Showtime’s Dexter series finale Sunday night became the network’s most-watched episode of any original series ever.

Dexter had 2.8 million viewers at 9 p.m., up 13 percent from the season 8 premiere — and that’s despite airing against the Emmys. The show’s final season ranks as its most watched, averaging 6.4 million viewers across all platforms. Lead-out Ray Donovan, in case you’re wondering, had 2.1 million viewers, the biggest average of a Showtime freshman series finale — though you’d kind-of expect that given the Dexter numbers.

Did you see our finale coverage? Dexter recap, Dexter season ranker and Dexter series finale Q&A with the producers.

'Dexter' producers explain finale, defend final season

Now we know.

After eight seasons, now we know the fate of Dexter and Debra Morgan. Neither outcome was predictable in Sunday night’s poignant and surprising finale “Remember the Monsters?” Below showrunner Scott Buck and longtime executive producer Sara Colleton take our questions about the final episode, defend the creative choices made during season 8 and answer a couple questions about that rumored spin-off. READ FULL STORY

'Dexter': Eight rare behind-the-scenes photos -- EXCLUSIVE

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Tonight, a ground-breaking series comes to an close as Showtime says farewell to Dexter. For eight seasons, Dexter had a singularly unique presence on television — the cathartic serial killer drama. We’ll miss Dex’s droll voiceover, the kill table, the bright Miami setting, and the Miami Metro gang that made Dexter one of cable’s first drama hits. Below are eight never-before-seen behind-the-scenes photos from the series, which concludes tonight at 9 p.m.

Be sure to come to EW.com after the finale for a detailed recap breaking down the last episode and giving our take on Dex’s fate. Then later we’ll post an interview with showrunner Scott Buck and longtime executive producer Sara Colleton where they talk about the finale and the final season.

UPDATE: Finale recap is now live.

'Dexter': Who's the best villain ever? Michael C. Hall and co-stars pick their favorite foes -- POLL

Dexter Morgan has been hiding in plain sight for eight seasons on Showtime, and throughout those years, a handful of people have challenged our antihero — but most didn’t live to tell the tale.

At last week’s PaleyFest farewell to Dexter, we asked the show’s cast and producer to name their favorite foes for the serial-killer-with-a-code. We heard one name quite a few times — the Dexter cast is still getting over the damage done by John Lithgow’s Arthur Mitchell, a.k.a. The Trinity Killer, in season 4 — but a few answers might surprise you (is Dexter’s ultimate antagonist actually Deb?).

We’ll have to wait until Sunday’s finale to see where current contender Oliver Saxon — a.k.a. Daniel Vogel, a.k.a. The Brain Surgeon — ends up on the list. For now, let’s see what the cast has to say:
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'Dexter' cast reflects on series, teases 'appropriate' finale

There was more reflection than scoop during Dexter‘s farewell panel Thursday night at PaleyFest. But with two episodes left in the show’s run, the cast and producers worked hard to guard the remaining secrets.

So what did we learn during the hour-long conversation? The highlights are below:

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'The Writers' Room': 'Dexter' EPs on the pressures of executing the series finale -- VIDEO

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Time Warner Cable customers may lament the loss of Showtime during Dexter‘s last season, but even they can catch a glimpse behind the curtain of the Emmy-nominated drama. This Monday, Entertainment Weekly and Sundance Channel’s series The Writer’s Room sits down with the Dexter writing team as well as series star Michael C. Hall covering topics from the origins of the Trinity Killer saga to the fate of serial killer protagonist Dexter Morgan. Check out the clip below as our own Dan Snierson asks the writing team how they tackled what has come to be considered series’ ultimate make-or-break episodes — the finale: READ FULL STORY

'Dexter' season 8 smashes ratings records

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Dexter is continuing its ratings winning steak right to the end.

For the eighth season in a row, Showtime’s serial killer thriller broke viewership records for its season premiere — and that’s despite airing in the summer for the first time. Dexter‘s final season debuted to 2.5 million viewers, edging out last year’s premiere by 4 percent. Including its repeat, Dexter had 3.2 million for the night. If you want to see the episode, here’s an edited version below.

Aided by this big lead in, new drama Ray Donovan had Showtime’s most-watched original series premiere ever with 1.4 million viewers at 10 p.m. and 2.2 million for the night. Total sampling on Donovan, including On Demand, brings its overall pilot viewing tally to 3 million viewers.

Check out the return of our Dexter recaps here. Also: See our interviews with stars Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter. Here’s the Dexter premiere: READ FULL STORY

'Dexter': The secret to Jennifer Carpenter's intense performance

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“I hate this!” howls Jennifer Carpenter as she gets hosed down. “It’s so cold!”

The actress is standing beside a Southern California lake as Dexter assistants gently soak her. She’s preparing for a scene where she has to drag a body out of a water. Though it’s nearly 70 degrees and sunny, you get the impression she’s being stung by every drop.

Several watery minutes later, Carpenter exits the water. “I need a belt!” she says as her pants slip down her narrow hips. Then she touches her forehead, where the makeup team applied red goop to simulate a head wound. “I’m bleeding!” she cries, alarmed. Then realizes: “Oh, that’s fake…”

Watching this during a Dexter set visit a couple months ago, you initially think Carpenter is quite a handful. Star Michael C. Hall seems cool and capable on the set, while Carpenter is more like a exposed nerve.

But as you spend more time around the actress and talk to her colleagues, your first impression is replaced by a more evolved one: Carpenter feels everything. That’s the way she works. Some actors are able to switch a character on and off. But Carpenter’s portrayal of the volatile Debra Morgan is more akin to a possession. “I work with this character from a very emotional place,” she says. “I don’t know how to do anything without going full out.”

When she had to agonizingly shoot her police captain Maria LaGuerta in the shipping container in the seventh season finale, for instance. “It really ripped me apart,” she says, and haunted her for months afterward. Mouthing “I hate you” to Dexter in that scene was actually ad-libbed during a take and she didn’t realize she said it until somebody pointed it out later.

“All I prayed for was that no alarm bells would go off and it would feel real and true and right,” she says of the pivotal scene. “In every take when I would say ‘Dex..,’ and in that struggle I was saying ‘I’m sorry,’ because [in my mind] I was going to shoot him instead.”

Ask Carpenter how her character feels toward Dexter this season, and she pauses and seems almost overwhelmed: “In order to explain that I would have to collect all these secrets from the bottom of an abyss and bring them up and show them to you and they wouldn’t make any sense.”

Opening herself up to feel every ounce of her character’s pain is a tough way to work. But when you see the result of Carpenter’s performance in episodes like tonight’s eighth season premiere — where she’s strung-out and brimming with self-destructive self loathing — it’s all worth it. Though Carpenter has yet to be nominated for an Emmy, one could easily imagine that snub steak coming to an end.

On the set after her lake scene, Carpenter shivers under a blanket, covered in, as she puts it, “pond scum.” She remembers the moment she realized Debra was the right role for her. READ FULL STORY

Michael C. Hall's definitive 'Dexter' final season interview

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Michael C. Hall has killed 125 people as Dexter Morgan since we first met him seven years ago. Yet it’s breaking into all those apartments and houses that’s bugging him.

“The Miami of Dexter’s world is a world without home alarms or deadbolt locks,” he notes after having quickly lock-picked yet another suspect’s residence. “He’s like Houdini.”

Hall is sitting at the kitchen table of a Long Beach house used in the production of Dexter‘s eighth season. For his next trick, he will help bring to a close Showtime’s long-running hit series, which launches the first of its final 12 episodes on Sunday night. The lock-picking comment is very Hall. As you’ll see below, he’s quite thoughtful and analytical about his character and the series. If he were to take a Meyers-Briggs personality test, one suspects he would strongly index as a “thinking” person vs. “feeling” (the unedited transcript of his interview originally contained about a dozen uses of “I think”).

On the set, Hall comes across as cool and capable. He can switch quickly into character and causally endure a chilly submersion into a lake, for example — no complaints or slacking, but occasional “does this make sense?” questions. Since his character is almost Spock-ian in his reliance on pragmatic logic vs. emotions, Hall’s own seeming left-brain tilt has likely served him well. This season, in addition to being the star and a producer on Dexter, he’ll also make his directing debut in the second week’s episode.

Below, Hall teases the final season, tackles some burning questions about the series and wonders: Who is Dexter talking to during his voice-overs, anyway?

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s go way back. What did you think the moment you first heard of Dexter?
HALL: I finished Six Feet Under in the spring of 2005. I got a call about a new pilot. I was reluctant to the idea of doing another television series in general. When I heard it was about a serial killer who only killed criminals … I didn’t roll my eyes, but I did think, “Do I want to be surrounded by dead bodies for another indeterminate number of years?” And second, I wondered how tonally you’d pull something like that off. But once I looked at the book and the pilot script I realized it was a totally unique character and I knew I’d kick myself if I didn’t take the leap.

The show’s sense of humor helps sell it, I think.
Yeah. I think, obviously, his code, too — the code that he’s defied more and more significantly over the course of the seasons. The audience’s affection for the character has been challenged in more intense degrees. And there’s his voice-over, so you are in on the secret and implicated as a result.

There’s definitely a voyeuristic quality.
You’re a silent passive accomplice.

When asked about Dexter’s morality, you once said he “should be given a medal and then beaten to death with it.”
I’m reluctant to come down on one side or another, with this or any character. I like that he operates in a morally gray area. He’s moving toward the light in some ways, but as a result the darker stuff is all the darker because of it. I like that the spectrum between the light and dark of the character has broadened. He has an undeniable and insurmountable compulsion.

Do you ever lose sympathy for him?
No. No. I wish that he could be liberated from his compulsion. I have sympathy for him because of that.

Do you have any compulsions that help you relate to the character?
[Pause] I’d acknowledge that they exist, but I wouldn’t [reveal] them.

Every time he veers from the code, as you’ve pointed out, innocent people die.
Arguably the tragedy of Dexter is that it’s not his homicidal behavior that’s gotten the people in his life in trouble but it’s his appetite to play at becoming a human being — his desire to have real relationships. I guess a lesson that’s emerged is that you can’t have your cake and kill it too.

NEXT: Why Dex always has stubble; Hall’s favorite part

'Dexter' shock preview: Debra's sex and drugs spiral -- EXCLUSIVE

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We warned you Debra was going down a dark path this season.

Below is an exclusive first look at Deb’s opening scene from the premiere of Dexter‘s final episodes. Picking up six months after the by-the-book police lieutenant killed her boss, Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) has quit Miami Metro. Not surprisingly, she’s a little messed up. In fact, this scene in a cheap motel is Deb like you’ve never seen her before. And it’s just the beginning of her story this year.

Season 8 starts on Sunday night on Showtime. For more details on the season, including Debra’s descent, check out our Q&A with showrunner Scott Buck. And sure to come to EW.com after the premiere for the revival of our Dexter recaps. Here’s your clip: READ FULL STORY

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