A warning to Michael Bay and the folks behind “Transformers 3”

Do not replace Megan Fox with Hayden Panettiere. Nothing good can come of it.

I had only halfheartedly followed the whole “Megan Fox is out of ‘Transformers 3’ story,” mostly because I didn’t grow up playing with Transformers toys and therefore have no particular affinity for the film franchise beyond the “it looks cool” factor, but when Bullz-Eye’s beloved CEO called me today during lunch and casually mentioned how he’d heard that former “Heroes” cheerleader Hayden Panettiere was one of the names being bandied about as one of the many possible replacements for Fox, I almost gagged on my PB&J.

I don’t know that you’ve followed my feelings on Ms. Panettiere over the course of my three encounters with her at the TCA Press Tour, but let’s just say that she necessitated the institution of a Three-Strikes-And-You’re-Out rule…and I don’t even have anyone else on my list with two strikes!

Here’s the story of my experiences with her, as related in my wrap-up of the 2009 tour:

In 2007, I managed to ask her precisely one question, which she answered lazily before wandering away.

In 2008, I waited patiently for an interview as she finished a casual conversation, and although both she and her publicist clearly saw me, they both turned and walked in the opposite direction when the conversation was over. I unintentionally but audibly said, “Oh, no, you didn’t,” at which point her publicist attempted to pacify me by assuring me that she had to go to the ladies room and would be back. (She wouldn’t be.)

This year, I decided I’d give it one last shot.

As I was steeling myself for her impending indifference, a colleague came up and said, “Do you want to double-team her?” Just as we were heading her way, another critic beat us to the punch by calling Hayden’s name…and I saw Hayden’s eyes roll as far back as she could muster, then turned and offered about the most fake smile imaginable, in no way hiding the “I don’t want to be here, let alone answer your questions” look in her eyes. My colleague and I approached nonetheless, and we watched as several other writers entered the newly-created scrum. After the fourth or fifth time Hayden reacted to a new tape recorder as if someone was thrusting a knife at her, I finally just said, “Screw this” (albeit under my breath), and bailed out.

Seriously, Michael Bay, you don’t want Hayden Panettiere in your film. You’ve just gotten rid of one moody coquette. You don’t want to replace her with another one.

  

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Late Friday movie news dump

It’s been a long four day week, and the hits just keep on coming.

* Even as A-listers are wrapping up George Clooney‘s Haiti telethon, the Sundance Film Festival is now underway in earnest and under new management, although boss Bob abides, naturally. Anne Thompson has a report from the front. Yesterday, she reported on the notable acquisition of the super-fest, director David Guggenheim’s “Waiting for Superman” — which is not about to whole “when will the next Superman movie come out?” thing or even superheroes at all. Sorry.

More Sundance news to come next week, no doubt. Watch this space.

* Movie City News has compiled the results of 225 Top 10 lists and come out with a top 30 of its own. At the top, “The Hurt Locker” far ahead of nearest competitors, “Up in the Air” and “Inglourious Basterds.” At the bottom of the “best of” lists, Lars von Trier’s horror drama “Antichrist,” the most controversial film in a career filled with controversy.

* Speaking of films at the bottom, the Wrap brings us Forbes’ annoyingly hard-to-read list of the biggest fiscal flops of the last five years in more easily digestible form. Topping the list is the recent adaptation of Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men” which went from Oscar hopeful to complete dud in nothing flat when it came out. There are two films I personally like on this list, “Grindhouse” and “Walk Hard.” Anybody else out there have a favorite on the flop list? In any case, I wonder about the accuracy of the list as it doesn’t include DVD figures.

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Bullz-Eye’s TCA 2009 Summer Press Tour Wrap-Up: Cougars, Muppets, Vampires, and Gordon Ramsay, Too!

God bless the TCA Press Tour, where the television industry gives critics from throughout North America the opportunity to play with the folks who live and work in Hollywood. The tour allows us a remarkable amount of access to the stars, producers, directors, and writers of the various shows currently taking up residence on the various cable and broadcast networks. Yes, while I may spend 48 weeks out of the year feeling like a nobody, for those four weeks – two in the summer, two in the winter – which are taken up by the tour, I’m at least made to feel like I’m a somebody. (Really, though, I’m not anybody.)

This was the first time the summer tour had been held after Comic-Con rather than before, so there was a certain amount of grumbling about the fact that the fans were getting a certain amount of information that would’ve ordinarily gone to the critics first, but it must be said that the networks did a pretty good job of pacifying us. And, besides, aren’t the fans supposed to come first, anyway?

Although the content that I managed to accrue during the course of the tour will continue to come your way for quite some time to come, what you see before you is a summary of the highs and lows of the event, mixing stories you may have already read on Premium Hollywood with many that I simply haven’t had a chance to discuss yet. As ever, it was a heck of a good time, full of the kind of moments that leave me grateful that I managed to get that journalism degree from Averett College back in 1992, pleased as punch that Bullz-Eye and Premium Hollywood have given me the opportunity to cover the tour, and, most of all, that there are lot of great readers out there who seem to enjoy the tales I bring back from these strange TCA adventures that I’ve embarked upon.

Let’s get started, shall we?

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Heroes 3.18 – When Harriet Tubman Met Def Leppard

I’m not saying this was the best episode of the season, but it was definitely filled with some of the best dialogue of the season.

I can’t tell you the exact moment that I decided I liked every character on “Heroes,” but at least I can identify it for Claire’s new boy, Alex (though I like to think of him as Aqualad). It was when he looked at her and said, “You’re not Harriet Tubman, Claire, all right? And this isn’t the Underground Railroad. You’re just a high school girl, and you’re in over your head.” He’s probably a narc, but what can I tell you? You just don’t get many Harriet Tubman references nowadays; you’ve gotta respect them when they come along. Also, I actually laughed out loud when Alex wouldn’t even cop to having sex with Claire to save his own skin.

You know, I almost hate to admit it, but I actually kind of liked Hayden Panettiere’s performance this episode…probably because she actually played some semblance of a typical teenage girl for much of the time, particularly during the discussion with her mom about whether or not a divorce from HRG was forthcoming. Her mom had quite a few good lines during the course of the episode, too, including her observation about the van that’d been sitting outside their house for way too long (“No-one’s pool is that dirty”), but nothing topped the lustful shout-out to the glory of Def Leppard’s Rick Savage. Having the agent come in and almost but not quite find Alex wasn’t nearly as suspenseful as I think it was probably intended to be, though, nor was Claire and Alex’s great escape. And the underwater kiss…?

Okay, fine, it was actually kind of sweet. Happy?

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Which “Heroes” star wants off the show?

Is it Ali Larter or Hayden Panettiere?

Michael Ausiello of EW.com has confirmed an earlier report that one of the two actresses asked out of her contract with NBC.

TV.com goes on to speculate about who it might be.

The actress’ discontent allegedly stems from a lack of camera time, and writers have acquiesced and written in a death scene for the actor’s character should she fly the coop. However, if negotiations don’t work and the actor is retained, writers also have a plan to easily bring back the actress through one of Heroes’ death loopholes (in this case, Claire Bennett’s regeneration abilities and Tracy Strauss’ wonder twin powers).

One would assume that the actress in question would be Larter, who has seen her character be little more than a throw-in this season (ice powers? Boooooring!). On the other hand, red-hot Hayden would stand to gain the most from moving on given her popularity.

My money is on Panettiere. Larter is 32 and has been around the block a few times, at least enough to know that steady, high-profile gigs like “Heroes” don’t grow on trees. Panettiere is just 19 and probably thinks that she’s destined to be the next Reese Witherspoon. TV.com speculated that it might be Larter because she hasn’t gotten very much screen time lately, but the cheerleader’s screen time is down as well from the first two seasons as the show has added more characters and delved into many different storylines. The show is no longer “save the cheerleader, save the world,” is it?

And given the way she treated fellow Premium Hollywood writer Will Harris at a press event, it wouldn’t be any surprise that she’d be acting like a diva.

What I want to know is why is Ausiello playing coy? Why doesn’t he just break the news?

Hmm…maybe he doesn’t know.

  

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