When we last saw Veronica Mars, the greatest private investigator Southern California has ever birthed and tanned — shut it, Philip Marlowe — she had ducked a corporate law job and returned to Neptune, her beachside hometown, resolved to defend the weak, defy the powerful, wisecrack with the best of them. Happily ever after, on her terms.
But why be happy when you can be hard-boiled? As Veronica’s inventor Rob Thomas said, “Happy and noir don’t go well together.”
“Veronica Mars,” a snappy, sophisticated crime drama about a high school P.I., debuted in 2004 and ran for three critically celebrated but lightly watched seasons, first on UPN and then on CW, returning in 2014 for a fan-funded movie.
That seemed to be the end of it. Its star, Kristen Bell, continued a successful film and TV career. Thomas went on to create and run “iZOMBIE.” But you know the noir trope where a character thinks she has outrun her past and then the past comes on at a sprint? It applies.
In a genre-appropriate twist, the show is back, revamped for the streaming age. An eight-episode fourth season will drop on July 26 at Hulu, where the first three seasons are already available.
Reboots and revivals are as thick on the ground as Neptune beachgoers. A long-gone show that returns after so many years with its original cast, led by Bell’s Veronica, and its distinguishing style (think Dashiell Hammett after a few blender drinks) mostly intact? That’s rarer, and not without its dangers.
Continuing a beloved series after so many years risks tarnishing its legacy. (If we’re being honest, the uneven third season was risk enough.) Besides, how do you make a show about a child prodigy when that child prodigy can apply for a fixed-rate mortgage?
The season’s big mystery, according to Thomas: Is a 30-something Veronica Mars “an interesting enough character on her own to continue to attract fans?”
A few weeks ago, I met Bell on a gloomy June afternoon in her trailer on the Universal lot, an overheated box befrilled in demoralizing beige. She was in the middle of a shoot for her other show, “The Good Place,” and had two caffeinated drinks going, which partly explained the pep. (The messianic zeal she feels for Veronica explained the rest.) In her costume, a lilac sweater over an embroidered blouse and green chinos, she looked about as noir as an Easter basket.
And yet “Veronica Mars,” she said, is the show that launched her, that shaped her, that taught her comedy and responsibility and a commitment to social justice. She will quit it, she said, when everyone in Neptune is dead.
“That’s when I’ll do it,” she said, pushing her cane-sugar soprano into a lower register. “That’s when I will let her go: When the last body is buried.”
“Veronica Mars,” which The Times described, on a list of the 20 best TV dramas since “The Sopranos,” as “a peerless blend of neo-noir mystery and teenage romantic drama,” was always a show ahead of its time. Its heroine, 17 when the show began, looked like a Barbie and scrapped like a G.I. Joe. She was as quick with a comeback as with the Taser she called Mr. Sparky, but still vulnerable to problems personal and systemic.
More politically minded than your average teen soap, “Veronica Mars” had love triangles and cliffhangers and, from its first episode, a sustained interest in wealth inequality. In its depiction of gendered violence, it anticipated much of the #MeToo conversation.
“It continually kept questions about gender inequality in view,” said Susan Berridge, a lecturer in media at the University of Stirling who has written about the series. “There were so many story lines involving sexual violence and other forms of gendered abuse that it became impossible to see these issues as one-off aberrations.” [More at Source]
Kristen had a busy few days last week with the launch of her & Dax’s website Hello Bello.
Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard are parents who believe there is no such thing as other people’s children. (Though they reserve the right to deny that when it’s diaper duty time.) They are two of hello bello’s co-founders and they started the company because they believe all babies deserve the best, which means all parents need access to affordable, premium products. To fulfill that dream, we’re making better stuff for babies, parents, and the planet – at far lower prices, made possible by partnering exclusively with Walmart.
Kristen spent the day after the Oscars in New York city on a full promotional mood as she stopped by Today, SiriusXM and a celebration by MOMs for the official launch of the product.
The Hamilton soundtrack is playing in the background. Through the haze of hairspray, we could make out Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard stuffing hotel napkins into their necklines (Bell’s a deep blush Zuhair Murad V she was protecting from her makeup, and Shepard’s a crisp white collar). They role-played a family dinner at Red Lobster. If you couldn’t deduce it at this point, you should know we’re in a ritzy hotel room in Beverly Hills prepping for the 76th Golden Globe Awards with Bell’s glam team, including longtime stylist Nicole Chavez.
It wasn’t long before Shepard took control of the music—not before chirping his Golden Globe-nominated wife’s musical afinity—switching to rap and hip-hop while hairstylist Jenny Cho touched up the actress’s shiny S-waves and makeup artist Simone Siegel added a few final dustings of finishing powder. Bell, who was nominated for Best Actress in a TV Comedy for her leading role in The Good Place, channeled old-Hollywood glamour in a full-length pleated gown and Brian Atwood heels Chavez had custom-dyed to match the dress perfectly. There was a heavy sprinkling of Harry Winston diamonds to finish off the look. Thank goodness Chavez gave us all the details of Bell’s look (and more) below. [Source]
How do hands move in heaven? Ted Danson knows. Watch him in “The Good Place,” NBC’s circle-squaring philosophical sitcom about life, death, good, evil, redemption and frozen yogurt. As Danson speaks, his hands flutter and hover in front of him like a pair of trained birds. They poke and swirl, pinch and twist. They snap suddenly ahead to accent a word as if they’re plucking a feather from a passing breeze. Danson is tall and slim — he was a basketball star growing up — and his hands are expressively large. He can move them, when he needs to, with the long-fingered languor of Michelangelo’s God reaching out to touch Adam. On the show, Danson plays an “architect” of the afterlife named Michael, a sort of immortal Willy Wonka who dresses in bright suits and bow ties. He is always flying into spasms of delight over the fascinating novelties of human culture — paper clips, suspenders, karaoke, Skee-Ball — and in one scene he gets so celestially excited that he lunges into a squat, holds his arms out in front of him and gyrates his wrists like an electric mixer on full blast. “How do you pump your fist again?” he asks. “Is this it?”
Danson is now 70, roughly twice the age he was when he started on “Cheers,” and he carries his seniority around as if it were the funniest thing in the world. In recent years, he has put together a virtuosic run of performances, including supporting roles in shows such as “Damages,” “Bored to Death” and “Fargo.” His turn on “The Good Place” seems like a culmination of this late-phase greatness: a role he was born, and then very carefully aged, to play. Although Danson still has the seductive good looks of Sam Malone, his hair has gone chalk white, and he delivers his lines with an ease so deep it looks effortless and instinctive — the kind of thing you couldn’t practice if you tried. [Source]
Kristen is on the cover of American Air, the companion magazine released in all American Airline flights. I’ve updated the gallery with the shoot and the digital scans.
Kristen & Ted were featured on The Wrap’s digital magazine featuring the biggest comedy contenders for the upcoming TV Awards seasons. Check out the photos and digital scans of the article.
Heaven or hell? Devil or angel? And does it even matter?
NBC’s delightful comedy series “The Good Place” started out as a vision of paradise, albeit a rather odd and completely secular paradise; it ended its first season with the show-shattering reveal that our human characters had actually been spending their time in a radical new version of hell designed to get them to torture each other rather than leaving that job to the pros.
And in Season 2, the show from “Parks and Recreation” creator Mike Schur kept upending itself in the most delicious of ways.
This is a show that can make hell kind of charming and give a fun, cuddly twist to the afterlife. Kristen Bell somehow makes us root for a woman whose self-obsession knows no bounds but who’s smarter and maybe even nicer than she lets on. Ted Danson was a scene stealer even in the first season as a human-torturing demon who had to hide his true nature from the other characters and from the audience.
(Granted, words like demon may not be appropriate for an altogether nonreligious and bureaucratic afterworld; he’s middle management at best, and not very good at his job of torturing humans.)
On a break early in the filming of Season 3, Bell and Danson discussed the pleasures and challenges of a show that delights in blowing up its own premise over and over. (Warning: spoilers ahead.)
Season 2 must have been a real kick for you, Ted, because you finally got to…
TED DANSON Be who I am. Yeah, it was really fun. And it was easier to find the funny, because funny usually is this kind of triangular thing between you, another character and the audience. But I had no relationship to the audience in Season 1. They never saw me in a private moment, or I would have been twirling my mustache.
Would you have taken the part without the knowledge that eventually you were going to get to show who this guy really is?
DANSON Oh, I would have done it. I signed on before I saw a script. I knew that Kristen was likely going to do it. I then listened to Mike Schur empty his mind for an hour and tell me everything he knew about the show and the twist. And I really signed up for Mike Schur.
KRISTEN BELL He can tell a story with detail that is frightening, like a computer. “Here’s what I want to do in Episode 9, and it’s a callback to Episode 6…” And I’m like, “You haven’t even written the pilot, bro! Slow down!”
DANSON Is this the first job you’ve taken when you haven’t read a script?
BELL Yeah. Wow. Yeah. We were sold on the idea, with the twist, and with his commitment to cliff-hangers and pulling the rug out from under people. I just thought, “What a goal. Let him try, I’d love to be a part of it.” [More at source]
In tumultuous times such as these, comedy is more essential than ever. It offers some common ground, some (mostly) safe space and, best of all, a good time. “Everybody is dying for a little bit of comic relief,” says Eric McCormack whose “Will & Grace” recently relaunched after 10 years away. McCormack was one of six comedic actors from shows both new and familiar to join the Envelope for a free-flowing conversation that at one point threatened to make a left-turn into an intervention for “Glow’s” Marc Maron.
Along with McCormack (whose “Will & Grace” regathers its original cast) and Maron (whose series is about the launch of women’s wrestling and the cocaine-sniffing director behind it), were Kristen Bell (“The Good Place,” an examination of morality set in the afterlife), Bill Hader (“Barry,” a hitman who wants to be an actor), Sara Gilbert (“Roseanne,” the family we know and love some 20 years later) and Justina Machado (“One Day at a Time,” a family similar to the one we know and love some 30 years later). Between the giggles, the group touched on such topics as diversity, nostalgia, bad dye jobs and the Fonz.
Here are excerpts from that conversation, edited for length and clarity. [More at source]
I want to get just a taste of the upcoming season, and I have it on good authority that one of you has trouble keeping secrets.
Bell: Loose Lips Danson!
Danson: That’s absolutely true. I’m impossible. So let me guess: You probably want to know about what’s in store for our group of humans, who, last we saw them, were down on Earth pursuing their second chances. And Michael and Janet are monitoring them …
Bell: I think we can reveal that, metaphorically, this next season is about how you can play chess with people who don’t know you’re playing with them and doing so in a way that doesn’t affect the greater universe.
Danson: What she said. [Laughs]
Bell: Because our characters don’t know there’s a greater mission. We’re meandering on Earth. What I loved about that whole last episode from Season 2 was that it summed up everyone’s yearly existence from Jan. 1 to March 1. You make resolutions. You’re going to be a better person. You’re going to work out more. You’re going to eat broccoli. And by March, none of that is happening. You saw it with Eleanor. She vows to change, and then she gets bored.
So now we are all left on Earth separately. And what we learned from the first two seasons is that our strengths come when we’re together. But can Michael and Janet tamper with us without affecting the universe? [More at Source]
Kristen attended the launch party for This Bar Saves Lives on Thursday (April 5) at Ysabel in West Hollywood, California. Kristen is one of the brand’s co-founders and she was joined by business partners Troian Bellsario, Patrick J. Adams, Ryan Devlin, Todd Grinnell, and Ravi Patel. Every time one of the company’s bars are sold, it donates life-saving nutrition to a child in need. Over 3.5 million nutritional packets have been donated to date, enough to impact over 270,000 lives.
Head to the gallery for photos of Kristen during the press conference and her shoot to promote the brand.