Hollywood Notebook: 'Sharknado' insanity continues, Minnie Driver, Lena Dunham

FresnoApril 26, 2014 

The craziness that is "Sharknado" continues to be a mystery. It was understandable the cheesy Syfy channel movie would get a lot of attention on social media when it originally aired. You don't have scenes of sharks flying through the air inside a tornado — over Los Angeles — and not create some buzz.

What's so surprising is the talk about the sequel being made.

Syfy will broadcast "Shark-nado 2: The Second One" on July 30. This time, Los Angeles gets saved from the savagery as the latest shark-infested tornado pops up in New York. One of the actors facing the flying fins will be Mark McGrath, lead singer for the rock band Sugar Ray.

"Sequels do suck unless they're shot in New York City, which this one is, and that's the backdrop," McGrath says.

"I'm in this movie because I'm a fan. I feel like I won  a contest to be in this movie, I was such a fan of the first  one. Dreams can still happen.  "It happened for me in 'Sharknado 2.' "

Judah Friedland — best known for his work on "30 Rock" — wanted to be in the movie so much he contacted writer/director Anthony C. Ferrante.

Even more shocking is the list of talent who make cameo appearances — Judd Hirsch, Al Roker, Matt Lauer, Kelly Osbourne, Richard Kind and Pepa (from Salt-N-Pepa).

TV suits her

Minnie Driver is no stranger to TV, having starred in the cable series "The Riches." She also had a recurring role on the comedy "Will & Grace." But the majority of her work has been in film.

Driver is back on TV in the new NBC comedy "About a Boy." In the series, based on the Hugh Grant feature film, Driver plays the mother to a socially awkward youngster (Benjamin Stockham) who gets some life coaching from the next door neighbor (David Walton).

Driver wasn't looking to star in a TV comedy. It just came her way.

"I'm always interested in doing good work. That's really been the mandate and wherever that finds me. And I have wanted to get back into television because it is a brilliant life for somebody who has children, who has spent their life on the road. It is such a wonderful opportunity to be home, but it was only ever going to be with something that I loved passionately, and this was it so clearly," Driver says.

Life in real world (of TV)

Lena Dunham often gets asked by viewers of her HBO series, "Girls," how to sympathize with the characters who are not the most likeable people on the planet.

Her answer is simple: "You seem to like Walter White."

She is right.

If viewers can sympathize with the drug-dealing character that Bryan Cranston played in "Breaking Bad," then a few snotty New Yorkers should be a piece of cake. Besides, it really hasn't been easy for the "Girls" writers to add a character that would be more likeable and fit with the tone of the show.

"The first season in the writers' room, we kept saying, 'Maybe someone should meet a normal guy.' And so, then, we looked at each other, and we were, like, 'What's a normal guy? Where would you find one? Do they exist?' " Dunham says.

"And I think, also — I never want to pull out the sex in the trump card — but I think there's been a lot of license for men to act a lot of really ugly ways in film, in television, and I feel so lucky that we are not held to any standard of sort of sweet, female decency. We get to depict these girls in all of their, kind of, flawed glory."

Dunham sees the series as a true reflection of people. They are trying their hardest, which she believes is the most you can ask of the people in your life.

Dunham feels sad when they struggle and happy when they triumph. Either way, she gets excited by the unique way they fail and succeed.


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

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