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A forkin’ awesome conversation with the cast of ‘The Good Place’

A forkin’ awesome conversation with the cast of ‘The Good Place’

LA Times – “The Good Place” ended its first season with an astonishing, ground-shifting bombshell — Eleanor (Kristen Bell), a human trying to save her soul by becoming a better person after death, figured out that the Good Place was, in fact, the Bad Place, which should have been obvious all along what with those ubiquitous frozen yogurt stores in the neighborhood.

Ted Danson’s afterlife architect, Michael, confirmed this delicious disclosure with a maniacal laugh that became an instant moment of classic television, also revealing himself to be an immortal demon, and the episode itself firmly established the show’s bona fides. If series creator Michael Schur possessed the confidence to play that kind of a long game, what might he do for a follow-up?

The 13-episode, second season answer proved every bit as satisfying. While premises were still made to be broken, Schur and the show’s writers leaned into the idea of community, exploring the idea that people define themselves by the strength of their tribes. For “The Good Place,” that includes four humans striving to avoid eternal damnation, a demon learning to love flawed mortals and an all-knowing Siri-like being named Janet who appears to be turning into a human herself.

The actors playing the members of this makeshift family — Danson, Kristen Bell, D’Arcy Carden, William Jackson Harper, Manny Jacinto and Jameela Jamil — have quickly become one of the most appealing ensembles on television. The day before they were to begin shooting the third season premiere, we sat down with the cast on the Universal Studios backlot to talk about the show’s radical optimism.

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?

Jamil: I will also add that the scripts we’ve read so far are even funnier. And slightly filthier.

Filthier how? Asking for all those fans writing “Good Place” erotic fan fiction.

Danson: Wait a minute. Where do you see this erotic fan fiction?

Jamil: On your blog, Ted. No … there’s volumes of it, mostly about me and Kristen.

Bell: It’s no secret that Eleanor’s very fluid in her sexuality. So people have been stimulated by that thought.

Jamil: The stories always start the same way. We’re just laughing and having a great time. And then one of our fingers touches the other one’s hair and then one thing leads to another.

And a hot-diggity-dog moment ensues …

Carden: You get it!

Jamil: It’s genuinely very sweet. Our fans are so passionate. They’ve made so many amazing paintings and even some statues.

Carden: I’d like to buy some of it. Is that dorky?

Danson: Well, it’d be like going to someone’s house and they have a baby picture of themselves out.

Carden: What if I buy it and make my parents put it up in their house? That’s cool, right?

Harper: No. But I have a framed baby picture of myself, so who am I to say?

Going back to that idea of Michael and Janet tampering with the humans, we saw that in the last episode where Michael shows up as a bartender on Earth, offering Eleanor guidance. Ted, did you enjoy that “Cheers” callback?

Danson: No. I’m literally traumatized if I have to get behind a bar. For some bizarre reason, I break into a sweat.

Bell: You’re so weird. Is it too much pressure?

Danson: No. It’s really like … I don’t know …

Bell: Well, dig deep!

Danson: It blindsides me every time. And if I have to be attractively coming on to a woman in a scene, it just devastatingly paralyzes me. I just hope they can get back to the Good Place without Michael having to do that.

Do you think there is a Good Place?

Jamil: I don’t know. But I do know I think about my motivations a lot more since doing this show.

Danson: Making sure the waitress sees how large a tip you left. Everybody does that.

Bell: Will just whispered that he tries to hide it.

Harper: I don’t want to be that cheesy guy who looks them in the eye and says, “Hey, that’s for you.”

Bell: Mike developed this point system, this little game with himself where if he’s driving and someone cuts him off, it’s minus 20 points. He tallies people all day for a fun game for himself.

And what he figured out for the show was … [Section omitted because it involves a huge spoiler for Season Three.]

Carden: That was a bit that got taken out of Season Two.

Harper: Yeah. But it will come back.

Danson: Who’s “Loose Lips” now? [Laughs]

Will I have points deducted if I put that information in the story?

Bell: You will go straight to the Bad Place.

If you went through life in a Mike Schur way, what kind of behavior loses points?

Bell: I judge everything by: Does it lean toward happiness or does it lean toward suffering? Like cutting someone off in traffic or all the seven sins … because cutting people off in traffic is one of them, right?

Harper: In L.A. Also: Selfies.

Jamil: Selfies definitely. And anyone who designs any sort of G-string. I’m more about minutiae.

Carden: I think about the point system a lot because my husband and I have a different moral compass. He’s a very good person, but he can justify just about anything if it helps his family or people he loves.

Bell: That’s tribal and, to be stereotypical, it’s more male. It’s more female to see the world a little more maternally. But look, if there was a lion in my backyard, my whole family would be dead. I’d be wondering if he needed water or had a thorn in his paw.

Jamil: Manny, what would your bad place things be?

Jacinto: I grew up in a very religious household and was fortunate to be given those principles as a kid. But who knows if they’re right or wrong. I think all I know is that I know nothing.

Danson: He’s just going for being the smartest person in the room. Because it’s true, what he said. I remember watching my mother die. Up until then, I had read this philosophy, that religion, meditating, Zen and felt a kind of spiritual pride about who I was. And watching her die, I was like, “Oh, I know nothing. She may be about to know. But I don’t have a clue.”

Which brings us back to wondering if there’s a Good Place — both on the show and the afterlife.

Bell: Maybe the Good Place is right here, finding those people who challenge you and help you grow. And you do the same for them.

Carden: And no mobile phones. There are no mobile phones in the Good Place.

Jamil: Because we have Janet. But think about it: If the characters had mobile phones, they never would have bonded. Too many distractions — the breaking news alerts, the social media, the apps. Also Chidi would have ghosted the hell out of Eleanor every time she got in his face about his neuroses.

Danson: Now what does “ghosted” mean again?

Carden: It means when you don’t reply to a text. Ted, you should know. You’re a big ghoster!

Harper: I think we see groups of people doing bad things so often in the media that, with our show, it’s heartening to see a bunch of people come together and look out for each other without it being cheesy. In life, I’ve been part of groups of friends with really great people, and I’m a better person because of that. I think it’s a pretty common experience, so it’s nice to reflect that.

Bell: I think this show helps us digest the negative things around us and transcend them. Because if you look at the statistics and start from a place of logic, things have never been better. It’s like Steven Pinker said in a lecture a couple of weeks ago: Every newspaper could have printed for the last 30 years that “Today, 138,000 less people died of starvation.” The world is not getting worse. I mean, the Crusades aren’t going on. Little things like that.

Jamil: Absolutely. You know, there are moral philosophy lecturers discussing this show in their classes.

Danson: [Feigning pomposity] Oh, we’re fabulous. You know the trouble with these conversations is you always walk out and step into a big pile of karmic poop. We’re all going to have to tread carefully the rest of the day.

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Photo Sessions & Outtakes > 2018 > LA Times

Kristen Bell Shares Struggles With Depression and Anxiety

Kristen Bell Shares Struggles With Depression and Anxiety

Kristen Bell has once again spoken candidly about her struggles with anxiety and depression in an effort to diminish the taboo and encourage others to seek help.

The star has joined the Child Mind Institute’s #MyYoungerSelf campaign, a celebrity-driven initiative to educate people about mental health issues and mental illness.

In a new video she recorded for the nonprofit organization, Kristen shares the words of wisdom she’d like to bestow upon her younger self, all the while reminding viewers that everyone has problems and help is available.

I have suffered from anxiety and/or depression since I was 18,‘ the star began the short clip.

What I would say to my younger self is: Don’t be fooled by this game of perfection that humans play because Instagram and magazines and TV shows. They strive for a certain aesthetic and everything looks so beautiful and people seem like they don’t have any problems.

But everyone’s human. Everyone has problems. Everyone feels yucky on the inside sometimes.’

And you deserve to feel just as beautiful on the days you wear no makeup and the days you don’t shower and the days you feel like you’re depressed. And you have an obligation to take care of yourself from the inside out, because that’s how you can truly feel beautiful.

She notes that there are resources for people struggling with depression, including doctors who can offer real solutions.

You are not alone. Never feel embarrassed or ashamed about who you are. Never feel embarrassed or ashamed,’ she went on.’

There are plenty of things to feel embarrassed or ashamed about — if you forget your mom’s birthday, feel embarrassed about that. If you are prone to gossiping, feel ashamed about that. ‘

But never feel embarrassed or ashamed about the uniqueness that is you, because there are people out there to help. And we are all just human,‘ she concluded.

Both the Child Mind Institute and Kristen have shared part of the clip on social media, with the star adding a caption to say how ‘grateful’ she is to be working with the organization.

Kristen is just one of several celebrities to join the #MyYoungerSelf campaign and speak on camera about experiences of growing up with a mental health or learning disorder.

This is hardly the first time that Kristen has openly discussed her mental health and history of depression, either, as the star has made a point to speak out to destigmatize mental health issues.

In May of 2016, she wrote an essay for Time magazine in which she explained why she was ‘over staying silent‘ about depression, opening up about her first experience with depression in college at New York University.

I felt plagued with a negative attitude and a sense that I was permanently in the shade. I’m normally such a bubbly, positive person, and all of a sudden I stopped feeling like myself,‘ she wrote.

Though she kept quiet about her struggles for the first 15 years of her career, she is now fighting the taboo against them and talking about it.

Here’s the thing: For me, depression is not sadness. It’s not having a bad day and needing a hug. It gave me a complete and utter sense of isolation and loneliness,‘ she explained. ‘Its debilitation was all-consuming, and it shut down my mental circuit board. I felt worthless, like I had nothing to offer, like I was a failure.’

There is such an extreme stigma about mental health issues, and I can’t make heads or tails of why it exists,’ she went on. ‘Anyone can be affected, despite their level of success or their place on the food chain.’

There’s nothing weak about struggling with mental illness. You’re just having a harder time living in your brain than other people,‘ she added.

The star also has a family history of anxiety and depression, which both her mother and grandmother struggled with. In fact, her grandma was subjected to electroshock therapy.

Speaking to interviewer Sam Jones for the series Off Camera, she explained that no one should take her happy-go-lucky demeanor to mean she doesn’t have problems.

I present this very cheery, bubbly person, but I also do a lot of work. I do a lot of introspective work and I check in with myself when I need to exercise and I got on a prescription when I was very young to deal with my anxiety and depression and I still take it today,’ she said. ‘I have no shame in that.

She added: ‘I shatter a little bit when I think people don’t like me. It really hurts my feelings when I’m not liked. And I know that’s not very healthy and I fight it all the time.

Discussing the unfairness in how mental illness is regarded, she went on: ‘You would never deny a diabetic his insulin ever but for some reason when someone needs a serotonin inhibitor, they’re immediately crazy or something. It’s a very interesting double standard.

Kristen Bell to Serve as Global Advocate for Women’s Peace & Humanitarian Fund

Kristen Bell to Serve as Global Advocate for Women’s Peace & Humanitarian Fund

Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund

American actress and activist Kristen Bell will become the first global advocate for the Women’s Peace & Humanitarian Fund(WPHF)—a United Nations and civil society partnership supporting women to prevent crises and build peace—the fund announced today. In her new role, Ms. Bell will advocate on behalf of local women across the globe who are working to make our world a more peaceful and gender-equal place.

“I’m honored to advocate for these inspiring women who are working to end conflict, rebuild communities and advance gender equality,” said Bell.

Globally, humanitarian crises and threats to peace are more common than ever before. UN studies show that women’s inclusion in conflict resolution accelerates peacebuilding, expands humanitarian reach and advances gender equality. When women are empowered to meaningfully participate in crises response, their contributions undeniably result in more lasting peace.

Despite this, women’s participation in peacebuilding today remains needlessly low. Financial resources supporting the activities of women peacebuilders are dramatically underfunded worldwide. On average, local women’s organizations receive less than one percent of aid allocated to countries in crisis.

As a global partnership of the United Nations, world governments, and civil society organizations—WPHF helps to fill this gap by raising funds to support the work of women peacebuilders on the ground.

“It’s my joy to be a women mediator,” said Mary, a 44-year-old farmer and member of a local network of WPHF-supported women working to prevent conflict in Burundi. “My work resolving local disputes makes me feel confident and powerful, and I can see the positive impact we’re having in my community.”

To date, WPHF has supported over 30 local women’s organizations like Mary’s, across four countries with grants of over US $7 million.

“WPHF is mobilizing much-needed support for women in crises, and we couldn’t be happier to have Kristen on board,” said Ghita El Khyari, Head of the WPHF Secretariat. “Her passion for this work will help give voice to equally-inspiring women who are working to end conflict and build peace in their communities.”

In addition to her work as an accomplished actress, Kristen Bell is a committed humanitarian and fierce advocate for women’s rights. Her prolific career spans movies and critically acclaimed television shows like Veronica Mars, Frozen, Bad Moms, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and the current hit NBC show, The Good Place.

“At this critical moment, it’s more necessary than ever to see women speak with ownership and confidence,” Bell said. “I’m thrilled to be working with WPHF to help empower local women fighting for peace.”

You can find Kristen Bell on Twitter.

The Women’s Peace & Humanitarian Fund (WPHF) is the only global financing mechanism dedicated exclusively to supporting the participation of women and their organizations in peacebuilding and humanitarian action. WPHF is an innovative partnership between the United Nations, member states, and civil society. Generous support for WPHF comes from the governments of AustraliaCanadaIreland,Spainthe United KingdomLiechtenstein, and Lithuania.

Fashion Flashback: Kristen Bell Muses on Top Looks

Fashion Flashback: Kristen Bell Muses on Top Looks

When it comes to style, “The Good Place” star and this year’s inaugural SAG Awards host Kristen Bell is definitely drawn to the “girly.” “But when I see the pictures I feel like I’m dressed up to go to my own christening, so I have to be careful how many ruffles I wear.” The “Frozen” star — who’s walked many a red carpet — believes the older she gets, the simpler she dresses. She now often opts for black and white — “modern looks which make me feel more sophisticated.”

2005
I barely knew any designers other than Mr. TJ Maxx,” says Bell of her first SAG Awards experience. “I wasn’t thinking too much about my look because I was so excited to be there, as this was my first awards show.” She believes her style has drastically evolved since. “Also I don’t ever remember wearing a wig but this picture could convince me otherwise!

2010
Bell served as a presenter her first year at the Golden Globes. “I had always loved girly pinks and frills but this look was the start of me trying to dress more like an adult,” she says. “And I felt very elegant, like I was at the big kids’ table for the first time.”

2013
I was seven months’ pregnant and terrified about the limitations I had fitting into a dress,” recalls Bell of her next Globes year. “My stylist, Nicole Chavez, called around town asking people if they had any empire-waist dresses they could spare. … Thankfully, Jessica Paster pulled this dress from Emily Blunt’s options and it fit perfectly!Bell felt gorgeous — something “somewhat hard to achieve” in her state. “If it hadn’t been for their generosity I probably would have shown up in maternity jeans.”

2014
The year “Frozen” went to the Oscars — and scored two wins -— Bell picked a dress in keeping with theme. “I truly did feel like a princess,” she says, noting she was especially into the Piaget diamond necklace. The whole night felt surreal: “My husband [Dax Shepard] and I did a lot of people watching and giggled the whole way through, wondering how on earth we were allowed in.

2016
Bell’s all-time favorite look is from this Emmy year. “I was able to find a dress that was floral and girly but still came across simple and didn’t swallow me up,” she says of the Zuhair Murad gown. “I loved the pattern of the floral and the huge train on the skirt. And shockingly, it was very comfortable.”

2017
This look was far bolder and sexier than anything I had ever worn, but I was really feeling it,” she says of her Jenny Packham Globes dress. “It was the first thing we tried, and even though we tried about 15 more dresses, we couldn’t get past the fit and class of this one. I love a deep plunging neckline and the whole look made me feel very ‘Old Hollywood.”

Source.

Fox Developing ‘Bad Moms’ Unscripted Series

Fox Developing ‘Bad Moms’ Unscripted Series

In the arena of unexpected IP, the Bad Moms film franchise could soon find itself translated into reality TV.

Fox is in early development stages of a Bad Moms unscripted series. The network is working with feature distributor STX Entertainment, which is producing the project. There aren’t too many details as of yet, but it will take the films’ premise of imperfect parents and shift the focus to real-life moms.

Bad Moms, starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn, was a sleeper hit in 2016 and sparked the 2017 sequel Bad Moms Christmas. The pair took in a combined worldwide box-office total of $314 million.

The TV project is being executive produced by Jason Goldberg, STX’s chief creative officer, unscripted and alternative programming, and prolific unscripted producer Brant Pinvidic (My Cat From Hell, Bar Rescue).

The possibilities of tweaking the source material to work for reality are many, with much of them veering more towards docuseries than the kind of unscripted show Fox typically airs. The bulk of the network’s alternative roster, be it the recently renewed singing competition The Four or the ongoing culinary-focused Hell’s Kitchenand MasterChef, are traditional competition series.

Fox got a new reality czar in 2017 with the addition of veteran showrunner Rob Wade as president of alternative and specials. His big order thus far has been The Four.

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