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The original “Robin’s Big Date”

Via Kevin Jagernauth at the Playlist, we learn that one of the skits for the upcoming, unnamed 17-director comedy anthology film is an expansion of the funny little film below from 2005, which comes as news to yours truly. “Robin’s Big Date” features Justin Long as a sensitive young Robin who has to put up with a supremely overbearing, bearded Batman (Sam Rockwell) who doesn’t seem to realize when he’s not wanted.

Especially with his outstanding work in “Moon” and the upcoming “Iron Man 2,” Rockwell is an actor who has really been growing on me a lot lately — I had previously found him a tad bland but I now see the error of my ways. His work here with Justin Long, also excellent, shows that his way with a comic scene is great stuff. Though I love that the updated version will include not only Rockwell and Long, but also writer-turned-actor Jon “I’m a PC” Hodgeman of “The Daily Show” as the Penguin, this nice little film is going to be hard to top. Enjoy.

Especially with his outstanding work in “Moon” and the upcoming “Iron Man 2,” Rockwell is an actor who has really been growing on me a lot lately — I had previously found him a tad bland but I now see the error of my ways. His work here with Justin Long, also excellent, shows that his way with a comic scene is nothing too new he already. Though I love that the updated version will include not only Rockwell and Long, but also writer-turned-actor Jon “I’m a PC” Hodgeman of “The Daily Show” as the Penguin, this nice little film is going to be hard to top. Enjoy.

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The League of Quality Superhero Animation plugs “Crisis on Two Earths” at Paley Center

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It’s an old story. You’re a superhero minding your own business and then you bump into someone who looks very familiar but, well, something’s just not right. Gee whiz but this person looks a lot like you and is even wearing similar clothes, but then you notice your new acquaintance looks like he or she is made from rocks, uses terrible grammar and does everything the opposite of you. (“Me want to not save world!”) Or the newcomer looks like one of your deadliest enemies, but turns out to be no Bizaaro, but as heroic as you are. What’s a superhero to do?

It’s an old superhero comic story that has yet to find its way into a big-time costumed-hero flicks — but at least it’s finally been used in a solidly entertaining and often slyly funny direct-to-DVD animated production. Rated a mild PG-13 for non-deadly “action violence,” Warner Home Video’s “Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths” shows us the fall-out of an alternate universe where the equivalents of our most famed superheros are essentially costumed Mafioso, while a bald guy named Luthor and a joker named the Jester vainly fight the power of organized caped crime.

When the alternate Luthor (Chris Noth) manages a reality jump into the original DC Comics Universe, he enlists the aid of  most of the Justice League. And so, Superman (Mark Harmon), Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall), and a less than cooperative Batman (William Baldwin), become involved in a desperate quest to free Good Luthor’s universe from super-powered criminal domination by the vicious Crime Syndicate and it’s Jersey-thug-like leader, Ultraman (Brian Bloom) — and also to stave off the possible destruction of all existence by an off-his-evil meds Dark Knight of the Soul, Owlman (James Woods), and his only slightly more sane GF, Super Woman (Gina Torres).

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The 72 minute direct-to-video feature was premiered at both of the coastal outlets of the Paley Center, and I attended the one located on Earth Prime’s Beverly Hills. Us members of the local geek press were allowed to commune with members of the cast and crew and, in my case, that started with the extremely busy animation casting and voice director, Andrea Romano. The loquacious performer and voice director, whose work includes everything from “Animaniacs” to “Spongebob Squarepants” and “Ben Ten,” is held in as high esteem by super-animation fans as any actor, writer, or director. Her work on DC superhero projects goes back to the early nineties and “Batman: The Animated Series,” which revolutionized superhero cartoons with quality writing from creators like Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, animation, and, thanks to her efforts, acting.

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Top Chef Las Vegas: breakfast in bed

Last night on Bravo’s “Top Chef: Las Vegas,” the six remaining contestants were greeted in the kitchen of the Venetian Hotel with a phone call from host Padma Lakshmi. Padma was hanging out in a hotel room with cookbook author and TV personality Nigella Lawson, and the quick fire challenge was to cook and deliver to them breakfast in bed.

Robin went first (how is she still here?) and made blintzes with goat cheese and pineapple. I don’t like goat cheese, but either way, that sounds disgusting. Eli made a reuben benedict with thousand island hollandaise sauce. Since they were staggered in groups of two, next was Mike and Kevin. Mike made a huevos Cubana with banana puree, and Kevin made steak and eggs. Then it was Jen and Bryan–Jen went with creamed chipped beef and Bryan made a 4-minute egg over corn polenta.

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Top Chef Las Vegas: more veggie tales

Last night’s “Top Chef: Las Vegas” on Bravo featured the remaining seven chefs facing more and more pressure. Some would respond while others would start to wilt, and we’re almost to final four territory (just where has this season gone??).

We began with a quick fire challenge as host Padma Lakshmi introduced Italian chef Paul Bartolotta, who has an Italian restaurant in Las Vegas and is known as one of the best in the cuisine. But oddly, their quick fire was not Italian-oriented. Instead, they each had to create a “TV dinner” style dish based on a popular show, drawing knives to determine who would be representing which show.

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Top Chef Las Vegas: restaurant wars return

I confess I’ve only been watching Bravo’s “Top Chef” for one-plus seasons now, but I’ve become hooked in a hurry. So this was just my second time experiencing “restaurant wars,” when they break up the final eight contestants into two teams and have them run an actual restaurant for the night.

But first, the episode began with a Quick Fire challenge, and the guest judge this week was Rick Moonen, who owns a sustainable seafood restaurant in Vegas. They would have a tag team cookoff, in which each chef had 10 minutes out of 40 to complete a dish, but while one chef was working the others were blindfolded. Man, that looked HARD. They drew knives and Jennifer and Michael V. had to choose teams…Jen chose Kris Kringle (Kevin), Mike Isabella and Laurine, deciding to let the brothers be on the same team and duke it out, literally. So Michael had Brian, Eli and Robin.

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Top Chef Las Vegas: can we fast forward?

Last night’s “Top Chef Las Vegas” on Bravo began with Eli talking about how he, at 25, still lives with his parents–and he’s kind of proud of it. Okay. Then they showed he and Robin bickering in the kitchen of the house they are all living at, and Eli telling Robin “You’re not my mom!” Nice. Anyway, it seems like Robin, who is 15-20 years older than most of the other chefs, is a bit out of place here. She’s also clearly not as talented.

The quick fire challenge featured chef Charlie Palmer, who the brothers Voltaggio have both worked for, as the guest judge. The challenge was to create a dish paired with snack food, namely the new Alexia snacks (which are awesome, by the way)….Palmer judged each one and his least favorites were Robin’s jalapeno and sweet corn custard, Ash’s chilled cucumber soup and barbecue snacks, and Jennifer’s pork chops, which dried out significantly before Palmer tasted them.

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Top Chef Las Vegas: Ben Folds can’t cook shrimp

Last night’s “Top Chef Las Vegas” on Bravo returned after a two-week absence, and admittedly I needed those “previously on…” highlights to catch up myself. Oh yeah, Ron was sent home last time….thankfully, because I couldn’t understand much of what that guy was saying.

Anyway, this episode began with The Food Network’s Tyler Florence as a guest judge, but I don’t think they mentioned Food Network by name. A bit petty, no? Or maybe a legality. Anyway, the quick fire challenge was in the vein of cookstr.com, where each contestant had to use three background descriptions to create a meal in 30 minutes. They used a slot machine to choose mood, flavor profile and type of cuisine–for example, romantic/salty/Asian. Florence would be the judge of each dish. Note: one of the flavor profiles was umami, a newer description to the palate world that I don’t fully comprehend, but it’s definitely a buzzword in the cooking industry–I think it means like tangy or something.

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The All New Super Friends Hour: Season One, Volume Two

With each subsequent “Super Friends” set that emerges from the Warner Brothers vaults, my childhood memories are tarnished a little bit more. I spent more Saturday mornings in front of the television that I’d care to count, held rapt by the adventures of Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and the Wonder Twins, but as I revisit those adventures now, I’m really, really disappointed with how poorly they’ve held up for me. Maybe it’s just because the world of superhero animation changed so dramatically with the premiere of “Batman: The Animated Series” in 1992 that it’s hard to take the Super Friends’ adventures seriously anymore. That’s not to say that you won’t find yourself experiencing plenty of fun flashbacks with the heroes’ various puzzles, magic tricks, and safety lessons, but the segments with actual storylines will result in little more than giddy laughter at their ridiculousness.

There’s only one special feature, but as ever for these “Super Friends” sets, it’s a good one: “The Wonder Twins Phenomenon,” which features talking-head contributions from Doug Goldstein and Tom Root (“Robot Chicken”), Kevin Pereira and Olivia Munn (“Attack of the Show”), super-writer Paul Dini, original “Super Friends” writers Alan Burnett and Rich Fogel, and animation historians Jerry Beck and Andy Mangels. Everyone offers their usual blend of childhood reminiscences, first-hand experiences from the animation trenches, and complete and total snark…and, in truth, the combination is exactly what The Wonder Twins deserve. There’s even a brief discussion about Zan and Jayna’s predecessors, Wendy and Marvin, and how inappropriate it was for a couple of powerless teenagers to follow these superheroes around. Say, where did Gleek always manage to pull that bucket from? Never mind. I don’t really want to know.

Click to buy “The All New Super Friends Hour: Season One, Volume Two”

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