Tag Archives: Tony Hale

Selina gears up her presidential run in new Veep season

Season 3 of 'Veep' premieres tonight on HBO.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus (front and center) joins (from left) Reid Scott, Sufe Bradshaw, Matt Walsh, Timothy C. Simons, Tony Hale, Gary Cole and Anna Chlumsky in Season 3 of ‘Veep,’ premiering tonight on HBO.


Capping a very full night for HBO, the hilarious, Emmy-winning political sitcom Veep returns for its third season, which sees terrifyingly ambitious Vice President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) launching her campaign to be president.
Each season of Veep has captured Selina at a different stage in her political career. Season 1 found her at her lowest, after a previous presidential bid flamed out and left her in the thankless role as second-in-command to the unseen POTUS, who never returned calls or dropped by her office. By Season 2, set after midterm elections that were disastrous for Selina’s (unspecified) political party, her fortunes started to turn once White House staff noticed that Selina was a first-class populist who could charm a crowd with such cornball mottos as “Freedom is not me-dom! It’s WE-dom!”
As Season 3 opens, Selina faces new hurdles before she can publicly announce her candidacy. First, POTUS refuses to announce he is not seeking re-election until the White House senior strategist Kent Davison (Gary Cole) finds a poll that indicates it’s advantageous to do so.
Second, she has to pick a campaign manager, and in-house rivals Amy Brookheimer (Anna Chlumsky), Selina’s chief of staff, and Dan Egan (Reid Scott), her smarmy deputy director of communications, are competing bitterly for that position.
Finally, in tonight’s premiere, Selina’s team is dismayed by signs that an unexpected, more conservative contender for the nomination is getting ready to throw his hat into the ring.
Some of Selina’s other staff members have distractions of their own, however. Gary Walsh (Tony Hale, who won an Emmy last season), Selina’s doggedly loyal personal aide, is suffering from crippling shoulder pain that comes partly from toting around the massive bag in which he has packed every conceivable item Selina might need. Some of that pain may be psychological, however, since Gary is starting to fret about being a middle-aged bag-boy.
As for Mike McClintock (Matt Walsh), Selina’s director of communications, Season 3 opens with his wedding to girlfriend Wendy (new recurring guest star Kathy Najimy), which includes a commitment to have a baby together via in-vitro fertilization – which means in turn that Wendy expects Mike to take, um, task-related breaks at work.
Watching the first five Season 3 episodes HBO sent for preview (out of 10 for the season), I was struck by two things: first, how the character-driven Veep just gets stronger every season, as we get better acquainted with the people in its world and its cast members continue to meld into one of the most amazing comedy ensembles I’ve ever seen (it’s easy to see why Veep has won two Emmys for casting).
Foremost, however, there’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus herself, who has won the Emmy Award as lead actress in a comedy for both of Veep’s previous seasons. I don’t expect that to change with Season 3, because I found myself watching some of these new episodes over and over just to try to catch all the incredible details Louis-Dreyfus packs into every moment.
I strongly suspect this actress is probably the Meryl Streep of the American sitcom. I know, that sounds like lazy hyperbole, and you can watch these new episodes casually and still enjoy them. But pay close attention to them and you can see that the blazingly intelligent Louis-Dreyfus is constantly shifting dizzyingly from one emotion to another, and often conveying multiple emotions and attitudes at the same time – and when I say “multiple,” I mean “way more than two.”
Consider next week’s episode, “The Choice,” in which Selina, a very discreetly pro-choice candidate, is rocked by POTUS’s out-of-left-field announcement that he is adamantly pro-life. As calls from various lobbying groups start to pour into Selina’s office asking her to clarify her position, she tries frantically to answer both sides in a manner that will not cost her votes.
Then Mike rushes in with a phone call from the ACCDP. He has no idea what the acronym stands for, but he’s reasonably sure the group is pro-life. As Selina takes the call, however, Amy desperately signals her that, no, no, no, the group is pro-choice. Selina struggles to navigate the call without committing herself, but her attempts at fishing for clues fall short as the caller keeps saying things like “Our position has not changed.”
Maybe it’s just me, but watching Louis-Dreyfus fighting to maintain her calm and sunny phone voice with a volatile caller while furiously miming “WHO THE F—- IS THIS?!” to Mike and Amy is one of the funniest moments I’ve ever seen on Veep.
(Spoiler alert: It didn’t really matter, because as it turns out, the call actually came in from the ADCCP, not the ACCDP. Although Mike has no idea what the ADCCP is, either).
God, I love this show.
Director of communications Mike McClintock (Matt Walsh, front-row center) weds his girlfriend, Wendy (Kathy Najimy) in the season premiere of 'Veep.'

Director of communications Mike McClintock (Matt Walsh, front-row center) weds his girlfriend, Wendy (Kathy Najimy) in the season premiere of ‘Veep.’

A long-awaited ‘Development’

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Jason Bateman and Liza Minnelli
Seven years after Fox canceled the Emmy-winning and critically acclaimed sitcom Arrested Development, the battling Bluths are back in 15 new episodes, available for streaming starting today on Netflix.
The new episodes, which the service cheekily presents as “A Netflix Semi Original Series,” reunites all the original principal players from the show’s original 2003-06 run as well as bringing back several guest favorites (hello, Liza Minnelli as Lucille Two and Judy Greer as Kitty Sanchez!). This time around, though, series creator Mitch Hurwitz is less interested in telling a conventionally linear story than in filling us in on each individual member of the extended Bluth family, ideally to form a bridge toward an Arrested Development feature film he’s been envisioning for years.
With that in mind, each episode focuses on a single character, although other family members are, of course, tangentially involved. Obviously, that must have helped during production, since not all principles were required for every episode, and it doesn’t reduce the number of solid belly laughs per episode (each of which runs to close or over a full half hour, not the puny 21 minutes-plus currently afforded a sitcom on a commercial network).
Still, there’s a bit of a loss in not seeing all the Bluth-Funkes together more often. I didn’t actually realize that until episode three, when suddenly I caught myself grinning broadly at seeing Michael (Jason Bateman), George (Jeffrey Tambor), Lindsay (Portia de Rossi), Lucille (Jessica Walter), Gob (Will Arnett), Buster (Tony Hale) and Tobias (David Cross) all in a room together for the first time in these new episodes.
But then, Arrested Development never has followed the conventional sitcom rules. Where else could you learn that one of the principal female characters has fallen in love with an accidental member of Al-Qaeda who suffers from “face blindness” and runs an ostrich farm and think to yourself, “Yes, that sounds about right”? Or see a sexually ambiguous male character who has resolved to make a new start in his life do so by buying a new vanity plate for his car reading “ANUSTART”?
There are so many fresh surprises and brilliant jokes in these new episodes that I’ll leave fans to discover most of them on their own, but my heartfelt thanks to whoever had the inspired idea to hire Kristen Wiig and Seth Rogen to play the younger Lucille and George Bluth in recurring flashbacks, as well as 24 sweetheart Mary Lynn Rajskub as an “aura specialist” named Heartfire.
Waiter! More hot ham water, all around, on me!
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David Cross and Porta de Rossi

New on Blu-ray: Season One of HBO’s riotously raunchy ‘Veep’

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HBO’s sublimely snarky political sitcom Veep returns for an expanded 10-episode second season on April 14, but the wait is over today for fans who want to revisit the critically acclaimed season one, which earned star Julia Louis-Dreyfus her third career Emmy Award for her spectacular performance as embattled U.S. vice president Selina Meyer.
HBO Home Entertainment’s new two-disc Blu-ray set includes all eight episodes of season one, as well as a total of 12 commentary tracks by Louis-Dreyfus (who’s also a producer on the show), series creator Armando Iannucci and other members of the creative team, plus the actors making up Selina’s staff: Anna Chlumsky as Amy, Selina’s chief of staff; Matt Walsh as weary spokesperson Mike; Reid Scott as ruthlessly ambitious political aide Dan; Tony Hale as Selina’s feverishly devoted personal aide, Gary; and Sufe Bradshaw as Sue, Selina’s intimidating executive assistant. Timothy C. Simons also is featured as Jonah, the perpetually irritating and inappropriate young White House liaison.
Even if you don’t generally take time to listen to commentary tracks on sets like this, trust me, you’ll want to check these out. They’re a treasure trove of fascinating and funny background info on all the staggering detail that has gone into making Veep look and sound as authentic as possible to inside-the-Beltway life in Washington, D.C.
As Louis-Dreyfus mentions on one such track, that’s one of the reasons the show’s dialogue trends toward the blue so often, to differentiate how these incredibly stressed-out politicos behave and speak when they’re not putting on their best faces for the public cameras and microphones. And Iannucci, who scored a comparable success in his native Great Britain with the similarly themed political Britcom The Thick of It, knows how to elevate profanity to literally breathtaking comic heights (admittedly, fans who know Louis-Dreyfus exclusively from her network TV work on Seinfeld and The New Adventures of Old Christine may find themselves a little dazed initially as she drops one f-bomb after another, but while the cursing flies freely and frequently, it’s never gratuitous).
Other extras on this generously packed set include a behind-the-scenes look at how the show is put together, as well as outtakes and deleted scenes.
By the way, if you want to take a look at how Iannucci skewers politics on the other side of the pond, you’ll find all four seasons of The Thick of It and a companion feature film called In the Loop, in which Chlumsky has a supporting role, streaming on Hulu Plus.