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Vampire Katherine just aged another year . . . – Happy Birthday, Nina Dobrev!

In honor of Nina Dobrev’s 22nd birthday, Ian Somerhalder baked her a cake . . .

Unfortunately, for Nina, Vampire Katherine (who shares the same birthday) got to it first . . .

“Mmmmm . . . red velvet blood  . . . my favorite flavor!”

22-years ago today, one of the most promising young actors of our generation was born.  (Nina Dobrev was born January 9, 1989 in Sofia, Bulgaria, but moved to Canada at age 2.)  Roughly 20-years later, Nina won the hearts of two-GORGEOUS vampires, and of millions of fans wide, through her portrayal of both the headstrong and plucky Elena Gilbert . . .

 . . . and the devious diabolical (and tons of fun!) Vampire Katherine Pierce . . .

You know, I spend a lot of time on this blog extoling the virtues of the dreamy and delectable Damon Salvatore . . .

 . . . and his sensitive, yet sultry, brother Stefan . . .

But where would either of them be without the two women who hold their hearts and their humanity in either hand?

I mean seriously, without Elena and Katherine, who would these boys MAKE OUT WITH?

They’d probably have to resort to lots of Air Kissing . . .

And no one wants that . . .

So, that’s why today, in honor of Nina Dobrev’s birthday, I’ve decided to take a short break from celebrating the oh-so-sexy TVD men, in order to pay homage to the one woman who is literally the Gal Friday to EVERY GUY IN MYSTIC FALLS . . . 

 

Sorry BOYS!  It looks like you are just going to have to share . . .

Since most of us already know Nina from The Vampire Diaries, I thought it might be nice, for a change, to take a look back at some of her most noteworthy pre-Elena roles . . .

(Special thanks to YouTube maven sciolist2b, who has BY FAR the most comprehensive and highest quality collection of Nina Dobrev clips on the entire Internet!  sciolist, I don’t know you, but I definitely couldn’t have written this post without you!)

Mia Jones – Degrassi

Nina Dobrev’s Season 6 debut on Degrassi: The Next Generation was MY first introduction to the actress.  On Degrassi, Nina played Mia Jones, an unwed teen mother, forced to transfer to a rival high school, after her’s burned down.  Forget 16 and Pregnant, Mia Jones had her baby, Isabella at age THIRTEEN! 

Mamma MIA!

Though no where near as complex and multi-layered as the two characters she plays on The Vampire Diaries, Nina definitely got the opportunity to flex her acting chops here, as a young mother, trying to balance the responsibilities of parenting, with her desire to do typical “teen stuff” like cheerleading, parties, and dating.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a real juicy Mia Jones clip on YouTube for you to enjoy. 

However, I did find this on-set footage taken from her first day on the job.  And it’s pretty darn adorable.  All I have to say is . . . hell hath no fury like a TV baby who WON’T STOP CRYING!

 

Ally – American Mall

Around the same time that she was starring in Degrassi, Nina also picked up the lead role in the very High School Musical-esque American Mall, an MTV original film about mall employees who sing their feelings . . .

American Mall certainly wasn’t going to win any awards in its time (and I may very well have been the only one who actually watched it when it first aired).  However, as cheesy teen musicals go, this one was surprisingly enjoyable.  And Nina was extremely likeable as Ally, the girl who worked at her mother’s music store, but would much rather make out with the hot singing janitor her OWN music . . .

Rosabella – Mookie’s Law

Sometimes I wish I was Canadian.  Because Canadian Teen Television is just AWESOME!  I don’t think there is any country in the world (including the United States) that almost exclusively caters its media products toward the young adult demographic, like Canada does!  It seems that every time I flip the channels, I am finding another obscure (but oddly awesome) Canadian teen show, on some obscure U.S. cable channel, and wishing I had access to it when it first aired, back in Toronto, or wherever. 

Did I mention that the same 8 young actors (including Nina, of course) seem to be in EVERY SINGLE MOVIE!  It’s like one big happy family up there, ay?

Nina Dobrev starred as the lead character’s love interest in Mookie’s Law, a short Canadian film that was written, directed by and starred Al Mukadam, who — if you are a Canadian TV junkie like me — you may remember as Ray from Radio Free Roscoe.  Oh, and you can bet that Degrassi star turned Big Time Rapper, Drake, is in this one too . . .  (See what I mean?)

Justine – My Daughter’s Secret

You know, people joke all the time about Lifetime movies, and how cliched and lame they tend to be.  But a lot of really talented actresses got their start in Lifetime movies, and Nina Dobrev is one of them.  In My Daughter’s Secret she plays Justine, a teen who got herself roped into a romance with a VERY BAD BOYFRIEND.  (And in Lifetime movies, aren’t they ALL very bad?)

Jessica Carpenter – Too Young to Marry

As far as Lifetime movies go, this one looks kind of fun!  (For starters, neither of Nina’s two leading men in it are abusive, or “bad news.”  YAY!)  In Too Young to Marry, Nina stars as Jessica Carpenter, a girl who married her high school sweetheart, Max, at age 17.  However, she begins to doubt the decision she has made, upon experiencing the joys of drunk college makeout sessions.  (And who can blame her, when, at least based on the clips, it seems like her “husband” spends half of the movie in bed . . . just sleeping?) 

It sucks to be the “Nice Boy” in a Lifetime Movie . . . you get no lines . . . and you never get laid, until the very end.

Interestingly enough, Dillon Casey, who plays Nina’s husband in the movie, also played Vampire Noah, the first bloodsucker who tried to attack Elena on The Vampire Diaries.

But Canadians will remember him better as the often-naked Trevor Lemonde on the hockey-themed soap opera MVP.  (He lasted a bit longer on that show, than on TVD . . . in more ways than one ;))

Loren – Never Cry Werewolf

I actually learned about this film when I was writing a recap for TVD’s Bad Moon Rising episode.  I came upon the movie poster, almost entirely by accident, during my search for a solid werewolf-themed picture to kick off the recap. 

In Never Cry Werewolf, Nina plays Loren, an innocent teen who learns that her next door neighbor is actually a bloodthirsty werewolf, in search of a hot young prepubescent mate, to howl at the moon with . . .  Interestingly enough, I read on Wikipedia that the film itself is actually a shot-by-shot remake of a VAMPIRE film from the 1980’s called Fright Night.  Only here, the vampire Big Bad Villain was inexplicably substituted for a werewolf one. 

Knowing this, as I watching the following scene, where Kevin Sorbo’s werewolf character ties up a scantily clad “Loren” and threatens to turn her into a “monster,” I couldn’t help but imagine how much BETTER the film would be if Damon Salvatore was in it . . .

Sorry, Sorbo!  I’m going to have to agree with Damon on this one . . .

 

Rachel – Hearts of War a.k.a. The Poet

Far from starring only in teen dramas, Nina also gained recognition in feature films as well.  In Hearts of War she plays Rachel, a rabbi’s daughter who falls in love with a Nazi soldier during World War II.

Bella – Fugitive Pieces

Going along with a World War II theme, Nina alsoplayed the enigmatic Bella in Fugitive Pieces.  Bella was the main character Jakob’s sister in the film.  Bella was taken away (and eventually killed), along with the rest of his family, by Nazis during the Second World War.  Only Jakob survived the raid.  As a result of this tragedy, Bella’s youthful and emphemeral image haunts Jakob throughout his life . . .

Anna – Chloe

Nina Dobrev provided some much needed levity (and pants-lessness) to this dark and twisted thriller about the complex psycho-sexual relationship formed between a married gynecologist (Julianne Moore), and the looney tunes call-girl (Amanda Seyfried) said gynecologist hires to seduce her husband (Liam Neeson).  Nina plays Anna, the girlfriend of the main characters’ son in the film. 

While she’s certainly nice to look at, “Anna” doesn’t exactly seem like the sharpest tool in the shed.  Check out Anna’s reaction when Julianne Moore’s character learns the young woman has spent the night in her son’s bed . . .

Goth Girl – Away from Her

Of all the Nina clips I’ve shown you today, this one, from the Academy Award nominated film Away from Her is probably my favorite.  It features Nina in a way we’ve never quite seen her before.  Goth Girl is a person who most of Nina’s other characters probably wouldn’t have anything to do with . . . well, except for maybe Vampire Katherine . . .

Something tells me these two would have A LOT of fun together . . .

Speaking of Vampire Katherine, I thought I’d end this tribute post with a fun little scene from The Vampire Diaries, in which Elena and Katherine come face to face with one another for the first time.  The scene is from an episode entitled “Memory Lane” from Season 2.  Enjoy!

Happy Birthday, Nina Dobrev!  Here’s hoping your 22nd year provides you with as much fun and entertainment as your first 21 have given us!

[www.juliekushner.com]

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Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Vanessa & Dan-itive (a.k.a. My Gossip Girl Season 4 Wish List)

 

Greetings fellow GG fans!  Can you believe there are only TWO more episodes left, before Season 3 draws to a close, and our favorite Upper East Siders ride off into the sunset (most likely to the Hamptons) for summer hiatus?  (The season finale episode, entitled Last Tango, Then Paris, is scheduled to air on May 17th on the CW.)

“OMFG, S!  That TV Recapper Girl is staring at us again!  Doesn’t she know we’re on vacation?” 

As the summer months will definitely be long, hot, and lonely, without my wealthy and stylish New York friends to party with on Monday nights, I thought it might be fun, just this once, in lieu of my usual weekly recap, to peer into my crystal ball into Gossip Girl‘s future, a.k.a Season 4.

Here’s the thing . . . I’ve been a fan of Gossip Girl pretty much since it started, which was back in 2007.   (Sheesh, I can’t believe it’s actually been that long!  I feel OLD!).  When you’ve been with a show for that long, you can’t help but become invested in its characters and storylines.  You also can’t help but form some REALLY STRONG opinions on which aspects of the show you think work, and which . . . well . . . don’t.  So, without further adieu, here is my Wish List of Ten Things I’d Like to See More (or Less) of during Season 4 of Gossip Girl .  . .

1) More C&B Moments!

This one is so obvious, it almost goes without saying.  But, of course, I am going to say it anyway.  As far as I am concerned, Chuck and Blair are, and have always been, the true heart and soul of Gossip Girl.  Every time Leighton Meester and Ed Westwick are on screen together, their explosive on-screen presences and undeniable sexual chemistry are so intense, that I sometimes fear that their collective “heat” will burn a hole in my television set.  Check out this SMOKING HOT fan video of the pair, if you don’t believe me!

Early on in Season 3, Chuck and Blair fell into that WAY TOO common trap suffered by many of television’s great super couples.  Here’s how it goes. . .  You have these two sexy characters that are TOTALLY hot for eachother.  But, for one reason or another, they can’t couple.  (Maybe one of them is dating someone else.  Maybe the two are pretending to hate one another.  Or maybe each member of the pair is simply too proud to admit their true romantic feelings, out of fear of hurt or rejection.)  In Chuck’s and Blair’s case, it was ALL OF THE ABOVE!

So, FINALLY the Season Finale comes.  And the writers give fans what they have been clamoring for since the first episode, a dramatic event that throws the two unrequited lovers together and FORCES them to admit their feelings for one another.  Fans rejoice!  Pause and rewind buttons are worn out on television sets, as “shippers” replay the sexy satisfying moment of coupling OVER AND OVER AGAIN!  DVDs of the Season are preordered en-mass, JUST so people can rewatch the finale.  Fangirl blog posts are written in ALL CAPS with lots of smiley face emoticons!

Then the following Season begins and the pair is now a COUPLE.  And the writers are stumped as to what to do with these fan favorites.  So, first, they give the new couple a lot of makeout and sex scenes to appease the fans.  Then they throw the pair into ridiculous situations, just so the two can fight with one another, and somehow be involved in the story.  But the “fights” seem lame and contrived, and the loyal fans don’t buy into them for one second.  These fans soon grow bored with the same people they once tuned in week after week to see.  Unfortunately, it happens all the time.  And it happened to Chuck and Blair.

But now that the two have broken up (but obviously still care for one another), the writers have an EXCELLENT opportunity to rebuild the angst and sexual tension Chuck and Blair once had.  There can ONCE AGAIN be longing looks, and ALMOST sex moments!  There can be sexy “I want to rip your clothes off, because you infuriate me so much,” bickering.  And there can be the inevitable jealousy that arises when one of the pair tries in vain to “move on.”

You have the power to REALLY make this work GG writers, so DON’T SCREW IT UP!  Don’t instantly throw Chuck and Blair into random and unfulfilling relationships with new characters we don’t care about, or old characters we don’t like that much (cough, Jenny, cough).  Curious as to how to fill Chuck’s and Blair’s time while they are single and, once again, longing for one another, writers?   #5 on this list, should help you out there . . .

2) DOWN WITH DAN AND VANESSA!

“Hey Vanessa, what are you watching?” 

“The Chuck and Blair parts of our show.”

“Cool, let’s do that for the remainder of our screen time.  Maybe it will make us more interesting .  . .”

People who read my recaps might get the idea that I HATE Dan and Vanessa.  I don’t (or at least, I didn’t).  You know when I liked Dan and Vanessa?  Back during Season 1, when they were the poor kids, thrown in with a bunch of rich kids they didn’t like and felt morally superior to.  Because Dan and Vanessa were different than the rest of the GG crew.  They were snarky, and not as well-dressed, and a bit less attractive (Sorry guys!).  So when they made fun of Serena, Nate, Chuck and Blair, you laughed with them, and related to them.  Then the writers got the “great” idea to incorporate Dan and Vanessa into the gang.  They even made Dan RICH! 

“Yo, Jeeves!  I called you TWO WHOLE minutes ago!  Where the F is my limo?  I’d rather DIE than ride the subway!”

What’s worse?  They took these two GREAT sidekicks,  and not only put them center stage, but put them center stage TOGETHER!  Why?  Vanessa and Dan are practically the SAME PERSON!  They are both artsy fartsy, self-righteous, outsiders, who prefer talking about art and literature to partying and having sex.  How can such people even exist on a show like Gossip Girl AT ALL?  Let alone take up 15 minutes of screentime each week .  . .

The TV version of a sleeping pill . . .

Now, I’m not saying to get rid of Dan and Vanessa ALTOGETHER (Although, seeing as the writers just shipped Vanessa off to Haiti, they may, ultimately, have decided to do just that).  I’m simply saying keep them as snarky sidekicks.  Let them give sage advice to our less “level-headed characters.”  Let them provide a grounded sense of realism to the show (as long as such grounded realism lasts under 7 minutes . . .).  Gossip Girl is supposed to be about ostentation, fashion, gorgeous people, bad immoral behavior and teenage angst.  Mature cast members need not apply.  Which leads me to #3 on this list . . .

3) Ix-Nay on the Parental Units’ Storylines, Por Favor!

OK, this one is probably going to sound a little ageist.  But just as I am not cool with Dan and Vanessa eating up twenty minutes of perfectly good GG screentime, nor am I copacetic with that same screentime being devoured by:  Lily van der Woodsen, Dr. van der Woodsen, Rufus Humphrey (and/or that slutty neighbor chick who wants in his pants), Eleanor Waldorf, and Cyrus Rose.  I would, however, make an exception for the Dead Bart Bass . . .

This guy is just too cool!

Look, I’ll be the first to admit it.  There are PLENTY of great shows out there that revolve around the “Over 40” set.  Like, for example, Desperate Housewives or The Golden Girls.

Gossip Girl just ISN’T one of those shows . . .  It’s on the CW, for crying out loud – The NETWORK for late teen, and early twenty-something angst!  Now, I know these teens DO have parents.  And I am not expecting the show to convert said parents into off-screen incoherent buzzing sounds, a la Charlie Brown. . .

 . . . nor should they be just a pair of “feet,” like The Nanny in The Muppet Babies.

All I’m saying, is I don’t need to be informed EVERY time Lily is propositioned by one of her many, many, MANY aging bachelors.  And I don’t need to see that furrowed brow look that Rufus gets every time he feels “insecure.”  Enough is enough!

4) Fire Little J’s Stylist!

(Self explanatory)

5) Bring Back Scheming Blair and Self-Destructive Chuck!

Earlier in this post, I suggested that the writers keep Chuck and Blair single and hot for eachother during most of Season 4.  I also suggested that I would provide the writers with guidance, as to how to keep the characters’ busy during those long uncoupled months.  Here it is!  Gossip Girl was never about “good behavior.”  We love our characters best when they are being naughty!  So, enough of all of this maturity!  Let Chuck get self-destructive, drunk, and slutty with random girls.  Let Blair scheme and connive to get what she wants and to get revenge against those who double cross her.  Better yet, let these two awesomely adorable baddies self-destructively scheme and connive TOGETHER, like they did during Season 1!

6) Get thee to Columbia, GO!

When a high school show transitions into a college show, it is typically a make or break time for the series.  Lesser shows have failed in making the transition, but Gossip Girl did a fairly good job of it.  The writers managed to keep all of the characters in NYC and, therefore, relevant to the series, while not falling into the “they should all go to the same college” trap, into which other shows have fallen.  For example, it makes total sense, that the non-academically inclined Chuck, and the under achieving, Slutty Serena would not attend school at all, while the born-with-a-silver-spoon-in-his-mouth Nate would be able to use his lineage to get into an Ivy League school.  However, I can’t say I’ve been all that pleased with the show’s portrayal of NYU.

Having taken summer classes at NYU, I am happy to report that it’s a fine establishment, no where near the lame artsy fartsy place it’s portrayed as on the show.  Now that BOTH Nate and Blair are attending Columbia on the Upper West side, the writers have a BRILLIANT opportunity to portray a second college in a more realistic way than they portrayed the first.  The change of scenery might be nice too . . .

7) “New York . .  .  it’s streets will make you feel brand new.  It’s lights will inspire you.”  USE IT!

As someone who works in NYC, I generally love Gossip Girl’s glamorous and CLEAN portrayal of my city.  However, they keep showing us the SAME TWO BLOCKS!  NYC is a vast playground, in which our favorite characters can thrive and play.  Take advantage, writers!  Wouldn’t you LOVE, for example, to see Blair muck it up in the not always so classy, Times Square?  Or watch Serena get laid in the Bronx?  Because I WOULD!

8 ) Put the “F” back in OMFG!

I absolutely ADORED the “OMFG” Gossip Girl campaign that jump started Season 2 of the show.  After all, how could you possibly top posters like these?

Except, lately, I feel like the show has gotten a bit .  . . how do I say this . . . TAME!  So, here’s a tip for the writers: in Season 4, try to include at least one OMFG (slutty) moment per every 20 minutes of Gossip Girl.    You get extra bonus points if the slutty scene in question involves Chuck and / or Blair.

9) Little Eric . . . BIG Backstory!

In last week’s GG installment, “It’s a Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad World,” the chronically underwritten Eric van der Woodsen really got a chance to shine.  And fans FINALLY got to see Connor Paolo flex his acting chops.  The episode also gently reminded us that ERIC TRIED TO COMMIT SUICIDE back in Season 1!  Why did he do this?  What made him so depressed?  I would really love to see this storyline explored (possibly through flashbacks) during Season 4.  And I think Mr. Paolo is up for the challenge . . .

10) If Nate only had a brain (and a decent storyline) . . .

It’s no secret that Chace Crawford is easy on the eyes.  But I THINK he can actually ACT too.  Although, you wouldn’t really know this from watching Gossip Girl, of late.  In recent episodes, it seems as though Nate’s only function is be the sex toy for whatever lady happens to desire his “services” at the moment.  If GG was a porno (and sometimes I wonder if it is), Nate would be the Pizza Delivery Guy.

Earlier in this post, I saved you writers A LOT of screentime by nixing storylines for Dan, Vanessa, and the Upper East Side Parental Units (except for, of course, Awesomely Dead Bart Bass).  Let’s fill some of that screentime with a meaty Nate storyline — perhaps, one that doesn’t involve him taking his clothes off at the the first opportunity . . .

There you have it GG fans, my Wish List for Season 4 of Gossip Girl.  Oh, and if, by chance, you happen to be experiencing GG-related withdrawal symptoms this summer, I recently came across an EXCELLENT Gossip Girl blog site, that will be sure to satisfy all of your OMFG needs.  Here’s the link:

http://chuckandblairtheperfectpair.wordpress.com/

The writers of the site are VERY nice, and will be happy to assist you. (Just don’t mention the whole “Chenny” thing to them.  You might make them angry . . .  ;))

XOXO

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