Hollywood Notebook: Michael Keaton, Lacey Chabert and 'Psych'

The Fresno BeeFebruary 16, 2014 

Michael Keaton


Michael Keaton plays a billionaire businessman behind the robotics in the updated version of "RoboCop" that opened last week. He says the role was based partly on Steve Jobs.

OK, that officially gets the "RoboCop" part of the interview out of the way. Being a comic book geek, I had to take the opportunity to ask Keaton about playing Batman. In a small way, it's a logical topic as both Keaton and Joel Kinnaman — who plays the new RoboCop — have had to act with something covering three-quarters of their face.

"Joel's job is particularly difficult because people don't know how hard it is to do what you need to do. Your natural — or unnatural instinct — would be to say, 'Let's face it. I'm in this suit, which out of context is kind of ridiculous.' But, he makes these unbelievable transitions from human to robot to human and robot, which is really hard to do when you're wearing a big black suit," Keaton says. "It was really extraordinary what he did. He probably won't get the credit for the degree of difficulty that was required.

"A long time ago, when they asked me, when I made the first 'Batman,' I made a joke, but I was actually serious, that I just worked the suit."

There were no guarantees he was going to be able to work the suit because he suffers with claustrophobia. The suits got more comfortable with "Batman Returns," but the first one was so attached to his body, even turning his head was a challenge.

Keaton explains the first time he looked to the right while wearing the costume, he turned his head and tore the entire side of the cowl that was attached to his face. He stands up to show how, out of necessity, each time Batman needed to turn his face, he would turn his whole body just to keep from tearing another cowl.

The suit was so snug that it took hours to put on and take off. Keaton loves to drink coffee while working, but he had to curb the liquids when wearing the suit. He couldn't even sit down.

All of the tightness created some minor panic attacks. Instead of giving in to his fears, Keaton used them.

"I realized this was perfect. It was designed for this Bruce Wayne guy who has this other personality that is really dark and really alone," Keaton says. "I took all that stuff the suit was giving me, and I got how to do the role. It's odd how things like that happen to an actor."

"Psych" out

I saw this coming.

Executives with the USA Network announced this will be the final season of the comedy "Psych." The series will end with the episode airing at 9 p.m. March 26, followed by "Psych After Show," a one-hour question and answer session with the cast and show creator, Steve Franks.

The end of "Psych" means the loss of another excellent series. The adventures of faux-psychic detective Shawn Spencer (James Roday) and his best friend, Burton "Gus" Guster (Dule Hill), have the quirkiness of "Monk" and the smart humor of "The Big Bang Theory."

My fake psychic abilities are suggesting this isn't a total end to the wacky pair.

"'Psych' has made an indelible imprint on the television landscape, with a unique brand of comedy," says Chris McCumber, president of USA Network. "The final season celebrates the iconic characters that have made this show so beloved, and will be an exclamation point on the series' incredible run. And while the series will wrap in March, somehow I don't believe we've heard the last of Shawn and Gus."

Best seat in the house

During the TV critics tour, the Hallmark Channel threw a lavish dinner at the Huntington Library where critics and stars of the channel sat down to eat and talk. It's never a comfortable situation, because it's almost impossible to consume food while trying to do an interview. Chew, talk, chew, talk, bite, talk. It's not a pretty situation.

Hallmark's staff had designated where their large list of celebrities would be seated and the writers filled in the other seats. I selected a table based more on logistics than star power. A table in the middle of the large tent was close enough to the front for a speedy exit but far enough into the tent so we would not be served last.

It wasn't until I sat down that I looked at the name of the celebrity who would be at our table: Lacey Chabert. Just a few weeks earlier, I did a telephone interview with her about her Lifetime movie "Non-Stop." It was one of the best interviews I have ever done because the former "Party of Five" actress was so sweet, articulate and fun.

Chabert brought the same positive energy to the dinner. We both found it odd that of all the tables in the large tent we would end up next to each other.

Since the Hallmark movie Chabert is doing,"The Color of Rain," won't be released for months and she plans to do interviews for the film in a few months, it meant we could eat our meals and chit-chat about her recent marriage and why her new husband, David Nehdar, wasn't with her. There was a family event for the same night and he represented the couple there.

She did talk a little about the upcoming movie, which looks at how two people come together after losing their respective spouses to cancer. It is based on a true story.


TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.

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